In One Ear
Willow and Buffy have been in the kitchen making Christmas cookies most of the day. Actually, Willow is calling them non-denominational winter holiday cookies but it really doesn’t matter because they taste like Christmas cookies just the same. They’ve labored and toiled and frosted and sprinkled more than any two humans should in such a short period of time, which is why they stepped into the living room to take a break.
Knowing fully well that if Faith walks into the kitchen after her evening patrol the cookies will disappear without so much as a crumb left behind, they left a bodyguard on duty.
Really though, how they expect Andrew to stop Faith from doing damn near anything she wants to do is a mystery to even him. It’s why they’ve equipped him with a secret weapon.
He’s sitting at the kitchen table with his feet up on the chair across from him, reading a paperback book while he nibbles on a few cookies that Willow and Buffy doled out for his cookieguard services. He doesn’t even have the chance to enjoy two of them before Faith swoops into the kitchen in her dirty and tattered clothing from slaying and snatches up the rest of the cookies on the plate, swallowing them down before he even gets the chance to voice his discontent.
“Thief! Thief of my cookies! Those were for me,” he says sullenly.
“Sorry ‘bout that,” Faith replies, wiping her mouth off on the back of her hand. Some powdered sugar remains in the corners of her lips and she licks it away carefully using the side of her tongue.
“You’re not sorry. You’re too busy trying to figure out how to get more cookies out of me. Well you can give it a rest. No further cookies shall be snatched on my watch.”
“As if you could stop me.”
“I believe I can,” Andrew says. “I’ve got something up my sleeve.” He stands up and tries to look bigger than he is but shrinks back when Faith steps next to him and looks him up and down.
“Yeah? Just try it.”
She walks over to the island countertop where a cooling rack full of cookies is sitting. There’s at least three dozen cooling off there and another twenty-dozen already packed away in tins next to the refrigerator. Surely a dozen or two can’t be missed that much.
Without looking back at Andrew, she picks up a cookie and shoves it into her mouth, chewing happily. Just as she moves to grab another, a sound so loud rings through the kitchen that she nearly falls to her knees. Her ears are ringing – and possibly bleeding – and when she turns to see where the noise came from, she finds Andrew standing right behind her wearing some kind of earphones . . . and an air horn right next to her head.
“Are you crazy?” she asks, her voice louder than intended.
She keeps opening and closing her mouth, hoping that the movement of her jaw will make her ears pop or fall off or . . . god, anything to make the ringing stop.
Andrew looks smug – and only slightly terrified – as he takes off the earphones and stashes the small air horn canister back up his shirt sleeve.
“What? I told you I had something up my sleeve.”
“Yeah, well so do I,” Faith says and begins rolling her sleeves up, ready to attack.
Andrew runs to the other side of the island and waits for the inevitable chase, catch, and clobbering but it never comes. Buffy and Willow come running into the room, both looking disapprovingly at Faith.
“I told you that if you didn’t help make them you couldn’t help eat them until Christmas,” Buffy says as she moves to Faith’s side and puts her hands over Faith’s which are cupping her still-ringing ears.
“I’m sorry, B, I can’t hear you; I’ve been impaired in the ear!” Faith says all too loudly, making Willow and Andrew cringe.
“I think I can fix that,” Buffy says. She leans in and kisses Faith’s right ear, then left, and then whispers something into it.
Suddenly Faith’s frown turns into a smile as she watches Buffy impishly cross the room and head for the stairs. When she’s out of sight, Faith runs over to the refrigerator, opens it and grabs the can of whipped cream, then turns to find Willow and Andrew watching her intently.
“Well would ya look at that?” she says. “I’m cured.”
She runs for the stairs and disappears up them after Buffy, hoping like hell she said to get the whipped cream and not something about her ripped jeans.
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