Disclaimer: Characters belong to Joss.

A/N: This is a fill for Evil_Little_Dog who prompted "I hate summer. The vampires get bitchy 'cause the night's not as long."

This is set at some future point, definitely canon through the end of season eight and still compliant though the start of season ten, but without any spoilers.


Xander empties his armload into Buffy's shopping cart and jumps away, shaking his arms like he might have caught something from the contact.

Buffy doesn't look away from her careful deliberation over bread loaves (she still feels slightly obligated to embrace sourdough now that they live in San Francisco, but she's been getting sourdough a lot and she's not sure how much more embracing she should do), but warns belatedly and without looking, "Don't smoosh anything."

Xander holds up his hands. "Hey, I aimed for the non-smooshables," he says. "Honestly, though, Buff, ask me to fight off an army of super vampires, or save the world from an unstoppable grief machine, I'm your guy, but don't send me back there."

Buffy flicks her eyes up at him long enough to roll them, then looks back down at the whole wheat in her hands. "Big sissy," she teases. She drops the bread into the cart and reaches in to sort through what Xander brought her. "He has this one," she says, handing it back.

Xander takes the book in his hand cautiously, holds it away from his body, and tucks it in beside the multigrain on the shelf. "Yeah, you were a little vague with the mission parameters. 'Anything with a title in a loopy font or a Fabio look-alike on the cover?'"

"That's about all I know," says Buffy. Aside from the one she pulled out, there are five romance novels with covers she doesn't recognize, which is a pretty decent haul and should hopefully create a few decently peaceful days for her. "These look okay. Thanks." She stacks them more neatly and replaces them in the cart.

"Thanks? I don't know that you understand the suffering I went through to get those. It's a blow to the masculine façade I've been crafting for years. Spike can handle it, he's all dangerous and bad boy and compactly muscular. He's got enough to spare, but, Buffy, I only have so much."

Buffy reaches out and pats his arm. "Your sacrifice has been duly noted." Then she gives him a poke in the same spot. "You're not un-muscular," she points out.

Xander flexes and does his best to look like he isn't. "Thank you."

Buffy smiles and nods and begins backing the cart up to turn around. "I need to go raid the ice cream section. I bought an entire gallon the last time I was here and I only got one bowl." She sighs and waits for Xander to make the few steps to catch up to her. "Summer is the worst season to be in my line of destiny."

Xander sets one hand lightly on the edge of the cart's handle so he can follow along easily without losing track of her. "But it's got the lowest Apocalypse likeliness of the whole year."

"Yeah, and I have to deal with the vampires getting super bitchy about how long the sun is up."

"And by 'vampires' you mean…"

"The one in particular, yeah." She nods, even though she's on his blind side and he won't notice.

"Hence the grocery store smut?"

"Hence the grocery store smut."

Xander shakes his head. "You kinda gotta feel bad for them, though. Being trapped inside during the worst part of the year to be trapped inside. Everyone else out there having a good time, all the TV shows on hiatus… Do soap operas go on hiatus?"

"I don't know, but they definitely don't stop airing."

"Poor Buff," sighs Xander sympathetically. He reaches out and pats her shoulder. "Poor, poor Buffy."

She nods again sadly. "Worst season," she repeats. "Very, very worst."