Lucky at Cards 2

Part 1: Yet Again Still Even More Fragments Ch 4

Sarah bit her lip as she considered Xander Harris. She remembered being obsessed with him, along with every other female in town, for no reason, and then feeling like a scorned lover when the obsession vanished. None of that made any sense to her, but then there were a number of things that made no sense about Sunnydale that you had to ignore just to get by.

"I am so glad Cordy broke up with Xander," Harmony told Aura, a couple of lockers down from Sarah.

"I know," Aura readily agreed. "I mean, I doubt we'd have been able to afford his prices without being able to offer a little extra... incentive." The dark-skinned girl shared a smirk with her fellow Cordette.

Harmony giggled. "He really saved our ass and it only seems fair to let him see what he saved, plus if we ever need saving again I want him motivated."

"You are really smart," Aura stated, "and I didn't even know you know French."

"Just a few words," Harmony said, shutting her locker. "We both got a free, ready to spend it?"

"You know it," Aura agreed. "Got the cash?"

"Yeah," Harmony agreed before nervously asking, "Have you ever with..."

"One time at camp, but never with a guy as well. Relax, it'll be fun," she assured her.

"Cool," Harmony replied.

Aura shut her locker, revealing a shocked and conflicted Cordelia Chase, which neither noticed as they left, intent on paying their debt.

Sarah quickly rushed off to class, as she didn't have a free period and didn't want to draw the ire of Cordelia Chase who was probably going to explode from the looks of things.

She was relieved to hear the rumors confirmed, because it was getting harder and harder to say no every night and she was getting bags under her eyes from lack of sleep.

0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0

"He looks relaxed," Oz offered as he ate lunch with his girlfriend and Buffy while they eyed Xander from across the quad.

"Probably because he skipped History and got a nap somewhere," Willow muttered, annoyed that he'd missed a class.

"He didn't look relaxed last night," Buffy grumbled, angrily stabbing her spaghetti with a fork. "I can't believe he made a deal with a vampire, he hates vampires!"

"He said he was out of stakes," Oz reminded her, "It was a gamble."

Buffy snorted and shook her head, still irritated but at least a little amused as well. "I can't believe the vamp gave him a wad of cash."

"And two cheerleaders," Willow said with a frown.

"Not the usual rescue tactic or bet," Oz offered blandly, causing the two girls to giggle as he'd hoped. Without Xander there, he was being forced to take the roll of joker so they didn't get too stressed out, which left him wondering who made sure Xander didn't get too stressed, because he was finding the role a bit challenging.

"Why was he out of stakes?" Buffy said, thinking aloud. "They mentioned him saving them before, which would cover it if he didn't pull out the stake in time after staking the vamp, but he usually carries at least three on him, because it's easier for him to carry them with his baggy clothes and a mom who doesn't poke through his stuff than for me. He's carried half a dozen some nights, which comes in really handy. So, what all did he do to use up that many stakes?"

Buffy and Willow exchanged glances while Oz made a mental note to talk to Giles about where to get stakes so he could carry the spares as well, since that was another thing Xander wasn't around to do.

"We may want to ask around and find out," Willow said, worried about what Xander was off doing by himself.

0o0o0o0o0o0o0

'I need a nap,' Xander thought to himself as he ate lunch alone. He'd gotten a full night's sleep last night, a rare occurrence, but Aura and Harmony had surprised him on the way to History. He hadn't actually planned on collecting what they owed him, but they were rather insistent, so now he had an obscenely large wad of cash on him and protection from any mantis ladies he might run into.

"This day can't get any stranger," Xander said, right before a cute if chubby girl with dark hair set her tray down across from him.

"I understand you can help people with problems at night," she said hopefully.

"I have a couple of skills," Xander admitted. "What are you having problems with?" He was feeling much too mellow to be surprised by anything at the moment and decided to just go with the flow. He briefly wondered if this is what being Oz would feel like.

"Last week my friend Roger died," she explained nervously, "but I hear him at night calling for me to come outside and it's getting harder and harder to refuse."

"Just him? I mean, there's no one else with him?" he clarified.

"Just him," she agreed. "I haven't looked outside, but he climbs on the roof to whisper through the vent and I have looked at the footprints in the grass the next day."

'Single fledge not even a month old," Xander thought, 'Buffy probably wouldn't even notice staking him on the way to the Bronze.'

"I know what you charge and... I have no problem paying you," Sarah said, blushing as she looked away.

'I have no idea what I charge,' Xander thought, amused. "I'll come to your house an hour before sundown," Xander told her. "Are your parents going to be a problem?" he asked, not wanting to have to explain what he was doing in their daughter's room at night, as he was sure 'staking a vampire' would be misinterpreted.

"It's Friday, they'll be in LA for the weekend," Sarah assured him.

"Alright, give me your address and I'll see you tonight," Xander said, already making plans in his head. "Be ready with scented candles and a negligee, go the whole nine yards," he ordered, thinking of the best way to distract the demon. "Vanilla perfume is great, but anything with a strong scent you enjoy would be fine."

"Al-alright," Sarah stuttered out, blushing bright red as she wrote her name, address, and phone number down and handed it to him. "I'll see you then," she said before quickly leaving.

Xander pocketed her information and picked up their trays. He needed to visit Giles and get some things before class and lunch was already half way over.

Cordelia turned and walked away, shocked at what she'd just heard. She needed to check with Miss Calendar and see if there were any aftereffects from the love spell, because Xander Harris was never that smooth, forceful, dominant, attractive... She pushed that thought down and hurried off.

0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0

"Hey, Giles," Xander greeted the older man as he entered the library, not making any jokes as Giles was still annoyed with him.

"Xander," Giles replied with a sigh.

He could already tell asking to borrow a crossbow would be futile, but then he spotted the one Buffy had cracked over the skull of a demon last week sticking out of the trashcan and quickly changed his plans. "I was wondering if you had anything I could read on professional stake carving," Xander said. "I was planning on carving some while I had the time and in exchange I'll take out the trash for you."

Giles looked thoughtful for a moment and nodded. "I'll photocopy a few pages for you and make some notes," he agreed.

"Thanks," Xander said, grabbing the can and heading for the dumpster with his prize.

0o0o0o0o0o0

"That is a beaut," Mr. Hanson said as he saw the crossbow Xander had brought to class. He winced as he saw the crack in the stock. "What caused that?"

"Someone dropped it out of a second story window," Xander lied. "How hard would it be to repair?"

"Medium to hard, not something for beginners," the shop teacher said, taking the crossbow and examining it.

"How fast could you do it?" Xander asked.

The old many chuckled. "Forty-five minutes tops, but it'd take another three hours for the lacquer to dry."

"That would really help me out a lot," Xander said. "If you can do that for me, I'll cover the bills of all the students who skipped out of paying for materials this semester."

"It's nearly two hundred," Mr. Hanson warned, figuring Xander didn't have the money and they'd have to work something else out, like making Xander his assistant for the year.

"Deal," Xander said, taking care to pull out a half dozen bills from his pocket so he wasn't flashing a huge wad of cash. "The extra is for the material, I use a lot more for personal projects."

"And always oak," the teacher noted, but said no more.

"Traditional hard wood," Xander replied. He wasn't sure how much of what actually went on in Sunnydale was known by the people who had lived here, but just surviving for so long on the Hellmouth meant they had to have some sort of clue.

"Ash and Thorn would draw the wrong sort of attention," Mr. Hanson said shaking his head, "but I can order Oak by the ton and no one bats an eye. You know where the oak dowels are and the lathe's free. I'll take care of this while you work on that."

Xander nodded, happy to see that someone did know and contributed, even if in a fairly roundabout manner. He idly read through the pages Giles had prepared for him, surprised to find the answer to one of the questions that had bugged the Scoobs and Giles hadn't been able to answer, 'Why is it that vamps sometimes leave behind small items when they turn to ash?'

A lot of times it was a piece of jewelry or a small item but occasionally a leather jacket or boots were left behind, but there seemed to be no rhyme or reason, until now.

"Items with strong positive energies imbued in them from either prayer or sentimental attachment have been known to resist the destruction caused by the blood demon's link to the earthly plane being severed," he read quietly to himself.

Of course, now that he knew the reason items survived vamp's dusting he started thinking about ways he could use it to his advantage. Getting a priest to bless a bunch of stakes was probably acting a bit too openly for the demons to ignore. If Xander was a demon, he'd certainly keep tabs on the local priests and their comings and goings.

Xander cut a six-foot oak dowel into nine inch chunks with the table saw as he considered how to imbue a stake with positive emotions. His first thought he had to bite his lip to keep from laughing about, as while it would probably work, he really doubted Buffy would go for it, no matter how smooth he sanded the stakes. Hell, she'd probably stake him just for making the suggestion.

The suggestion of thinning the shaft and adding cross hatching for a better grip seemed obvious in retrospect and he didn't know why they hadn't been doing it earlier. It normally took him less than five minutes to make half a dozen stakes, but with all he was doing to these, class was half over and he still hadn't finished. He ran a blowtorch along the wood to darken the grain after he had finished sanding them. He figured the better they looked the more positive emotions they'd invoke.

They certainly were impressive looking, but something was missing. He grinned as he realized what it was, and grabbed a carving knife and some woodstain. It'd take time to carve them, but there was just enough class time left to get it down and the stain would be dry by the time school ended.

He wasn't sure what to carve, but he was sure it would come to him.

0o0o0o0o0o0o0

"What's this?" Buffy asked as she and Willow set their bags on the library table and she saw a rolled-up leather case.

"I'm not sure," Giles admitted as he came out of his office carrying a cup of tea and a book. "Xander was supposed to drop off some stakes, but I didn't think they'd rate a case."

Buffy unrolled the case and whistled as she took a look at its contents, pulling one of the stakes out of it. "You'd be wrong."

"I find myself at a loss for words," Giles said as he pulled one out himself, running his hands along it. "These are... beautiful, though I don't recognize the language of these carvings."

"Xander made these?" Willow asked doubtfully.

"Definitely," Oz said as he took Buffy's stake and handed it to Giles, while taking Giles stake for himself and pulling another two out for the pair.

"How do you figure?" Buffy asked, making a couple of practice moves with her new stake and finding it really suited her.

"Because our names are carved on them in Klingon," Willow said with a grin, as she examined her own.

"They also have a motto on each one," Oz added.

"Oh, what's mine say?" Buffy asked eagerly.

"From Hell's heart I stab at thee," Oz read.

"It's almost too pretty to use," Buffy said as she ran her fingers along it.

"There's even one for Angel," Oz said as he turned it to read the inscription. "The last enemy to be defeated is death."

"Rather fitting," Giles said, before noting the sad look on Buffy's face.

"You can carry it as a backup until you can give it to Angel yourself," Willow told Buffy, still holding out hope they'd be able to fix Angel.

"You don't think Xander made it for me to stake Angel with, do you?" Buffy asked, biting her lip nervously.

"He's not that deep," Willow assured her.

"OK," Buffy said, relaxing and smiling a little. "Well, let's go beat what Willy knows about Xander out of him."

"That's the spirit," Oz offered, exchanging confused glances with Giles.

0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0

Xander found himself being pulled into a classroom by an angry Cordelia Chase and didn't think to put up any resistance until she'd already handcuffed him to the teacher's chair. "What's going on here?" he asked as Cordelia rolled the chair into the center of the room and he saw Miss Calendar setting up candles.

"Just shut your... stupid face and sit there," Cordelia ordered.

"OK, but one question first," Xander said. "Did I save your lives recently and forget?"

Typing by: Abyssal Angel