*Sigh* You guys are just too much! Plot bunnies are being thrown at me outta nowhere, and I can't seem to help myself. Please stop!
And Malaskor…thanks a lot for burrowing another hole in my head and shoving a plot bunny to nest there. Grrrr!
Not exactly happy with this one, but here ya go. It's a mixture of flippant and serious, with a little mush thrown in at the end.
It must be said that men can only take so much.
When the wife is smarter than the husband, it is only a matter of time before the husband must leave before his brain leaks out of his ears.
When the wife is stronger than the husband, it is only a matter of time before the husband must leave in order to distance himself from the feeling of inadequacy.
As it were, it was one of those funny coincidences in life that happened one fine evening at the Headquarters of the new Council of Watchers.
"Nnnngah!" Two male voices choked out in stereo.
The two men looked at each other from outside the doors of their respective residences – one man in his mid-twenties, the other in his early fifties.
"Feel like getting out of here?" the older man asked.
"Oh yeah!" the younger one agreed, nodding emphatically.
The two swiftly made their exit to the streets of Cascade, WA. And, with no destination in mind, they walked aimlessly down the streets, physically distancing themselves from their individual problems.
"So…" the older man began.
"What happened with you?"
"I couldn't open up a jar of peanut-butter. You?"
"I couldn't comprehend a specific law in quantum physics."
"Who'd want to?"
"My thoughts exactly. Sam disagreed," Jack O'Neill, retired Colonel of USAF, responded. "So, you couldn't open a jar? Why's that a problem."
"Rona mocked my manly strength."
"Ahhh…the mockingness. Bad move."
The two men fell silent as they continued to walk into the night, leaving their feet to choose their way. After a few moments, the younger one spoke up again.
"Do you ever feel that you'll never be enough for them? That one day they will wake up and ask, 'why am I with this shmuck'?" Xander, the younger male of the original Scoobies from Sunnydale, asked.
"What do you do?"
"I wait for the day that I wake up asking, 'why am I with this shmuckette'."
"I thought so."
"Think it will ever happen?"
The older man thought for a moment before answering, "Because I can't live without her."
"Yeah," the younger man agreed softly. "Do you ever think they'll wake up and smell the coffee…about either of us?"
"Maybe one day."
"What do you think they'll do?"
They were interrupted before Jack could answer.
"Nzmbg frstz cpartr mzbgr! Raaaaarrrrrrrrr!"
A seven foot, ugly radioactive green…thing…erupted from the alleyway next to them. Its intentions were very clear. Hurt…maim…hurt some more…probably kill…maybe eat.
Jack and Xander stepped to the side at the last moment, letting the force of the creature's charge propel it forward into the street.
The monster, having expected to meet with the opposing force of a solid object – namely the two men – fell on its face. It immediately jumped to its feet and turned back to its intended victims.
"Well, that's rude! We're having an important conversation here, butthead. Go attack someone else," Jack said, shooting the monster an irritated look, making shooing motions with his hands.
The monster did the classic posing and roaring, trying to intimidate the two men.
"Oh, now that's scary…not! Rona gives a more evil glare when I leave a wet towel on the bathroom floor," Xander snorted derisively.
"Really?" Jack asked curiously.
"Oh, yeah. I call it the 'Death Glare'," Xander responded.
"Hmmm…Sam doesn't have a good glare yet, but she's got the eye-roll down pat."
If possible, an affronted look crossed the monster's face. It roared, charging the two men again. The two men sighed, then stepped back at the last moment again. The monster took a header back into the alley.
"*Sigh* I don't think it's gonna leave us alone, Jack," Xander said, shaking his head sadly.
"Probably not. I think we're gonna have to take some serious measures if we want to continue our conversation."
So saying, Jack sauntered into the alley, picking up a discarded board along the way. Xander was close on his heels, retrieving a lead pipe from the ground where it lay.
The two men quickly subdued the monster with several well-placed whacks on its head and back. Xander made sure to knock out its kneecaps, to ensure that it couldn't regain its feet.
"Is it dead?" Jack asked unconcernedly.
"Nah. Just unconscious," the younger man responded indifferently.
Xander moved towards the monster again, and sat on its back.
"What are you doing?" the older man asked in a surprised voice.
"Playing 'King of the Mountain', in hopes of regaining some of my manliness feelings."
"Ahhh," Jack nodded his head in understanding. He moved to the other side of the monster before asking, "Do you mind sharing your throne?"
Xander scooted forward a little and waved a hand in welcome, "Have at it."
Jack sat on the available portion of the monster's back, which was a considerable amount of space considering the size of the creature.
"So, you never answered my question, Jack."
"What was it again?"
"What do you think they'll do when they wake up wondering why they're with us shmucks."
"I would like to know the answer to that as well," a third voice said from the entrance to the alley. "And what, pray tell, are you two doing?"
"Hey, Giles. We're regaining some of our manliness feelings back. Care to join us?" Xander raised a hand in greeting.
"Of course, of course…but you do realize that the creature is beginning to regain consciousness, don't you?"
"How can you tell?" Jack raised an eyebrow at the British man.
"It has extended its tentacles, and you are both in danger of being strangled to death by them," Giles responded casually. Holding out a hand for the pipe Xander still held, he said, "May I?"
Xander gave him the metal length, quipping, "Knock yourself out…or it, if you prefer."
"Hmmm…I prefer, I believe," Giles said, "I'm trying to break the cycle of my being the one to be unconscious."
So saying, Giles gave the creature a good thump in the noggin, upon which, the creature became unconscious once again. The ten tentacles, that were threatening the two nonchalant men sitting on the creature's back, dropped to the ground.
Giles unsheathed a sword he was carrying at his side and gestured for Jack to move from where he was sitting. As soon as Jack stood and took a step back, Giles severed the tentacles on one side with chop.
"Xander, if you would be so kind as to get the others?"
The younger man loosened the medium-sized axe from his belt and, chopped off the other five tentacles in the typical Xander way…one-by-one…with commentary.
"This little piggy went to the market in Hell Dimension number four hundred seventy-two. *chop* This little piggy stayed in a home that wasn't his. *chop* This little piggy had some really nasty salt infested corn beef that had been sitting in the refrigerator for weeks and was growing radioactive fungus. *chop*
"Oh for heavens sake, Xander. Would you please finish!" Giles said, shooting the younger man an irritated look.
"Almost done, G-man. This little piggy had none, for which it was thankful, 'cuz it woulda made him sick anyhow. *chop*"
"And this little piggy would have gone wee-wee-wee all the way home, except for the fact that us manly men wouldn't let it. *chop*" Jack got the last one, not wanting to be left out of the peanut gallery comments.
After removing the last tentacle, Jack reclaimed his seat on the creature's back, while Giles knelt at the creature's head.
"Hmmm…I do believe this is a Zamphorg demon. They are known to be one of the most vicious demons in several hell dimensions, though not particularly intelligent. How did the two of you manage to defeat it?" Giles asked, curious.
"We let it use its brain," Xander quipped.
Giles chuckled. "Well, that would have done it then. May I ask why you two are sitting on it?"
"Regaining our manliness feelings," the two responded, in sync.
At the British man's confused look, Xander clarified further.
"It's called 'King of the Mountain', Giles. Ring a bell?"
"I am familiar with the concept," Giles nodded his head. He fell silent for a moment before asking, "May I join you?"
The two other men shifted to make room for him, and the British man took up a position where he could easily use the pipe to ensure the creature's continued state of unconsciousness.
"So…we're all playing 'King of the Mountain'," Xander said, lips twitching.
"And?" Jack queried.
"And there are three of us," Xander grinned.
"If you start singing 'We Three Kings', I will become violent, Xander," Giles said grimly, giving the younger man a glare.
Jack snorted in amusement. Xander wisely kept his mouth closed, though his lips still twitched occasionally.
"So, what did you do, Rupert?" Jack asked, curious.
"Oh! Oh! I can answer that one," Xander interrupted. Giving the older man a knowing look, he queried, "You called her computer 'that dread machine' again, didn't you?"
"I'm afraid so," Giles responded with a sigh. "I just wish Willow would realize that not everyone can understand how technology works."
"And I wish Sam would realize that not everyone can understand quantum physics."
"And I wish that Rona would realize that not everyone can open up a jar of peanut-butter."
Giles and Jack gave the younger man an odd look.
"Hey! It's the Slayer strength thing…work with me here, OK?"
The three men fell silent for a moment before Xander prompted Jack for the third time.
"So, Jack. Do you have an answer to my question?"
"I'm not sure, kid. But I have to believe that they would realize we're better than any other shmuck they could have picked."
"Yeah, sure. Like I could compete with a 'Rambo-wannabe' if they came knocking at her door," Xander said bitterly.
"Like I would be in a better situation if a Nobel Prize winner came along?" Jack retorted.
"Probably not," Xander said sympathetically. "Hey, Giles. You're being kinda quiet there. It's share-time, and you're not sharing."
"OK…that is so not the response I was expecting."
After taking a brief moment to knock the creature unconscious again, Giles turned to the two men who were waiting for an explanation.
"Captain Cardboard? Yeah. What about him?"
"Do you remember why he and Buffy never worked out in the end?"
"Yeah. It was because he felt that he had to be better than she was, and he couldn't handle that he wasn't and never would be. So what does that have to do with our problems?"
"Well, I believe the Colonel is correct in saying that our respective partners would realize that we're better than any other…uh…shmuck they could have chosen."
"Not gettin' the connection there, Giles," Xander responded, confused.
"I think I see where you're going," Jack said slowly. "Because we don't feel that we have to be better than them, we are better than anyone else they could have picked."
"Think of it this way, Xander…do you feel the need to prove that you are stronger or faster than Rona?" Giles asked.
"No. I'm cool with the normalness that is me."
"On my part, I don't feel that I must be better at understanding technology than Willow."
"And I don't feel the need to learn quantum physics backward and forward just because Sam knows it," Jack interjected.
"So what does this have to do with anything?" Xander responded, still confused.
"Riley did feel the need to prove himself, Xander. And in his attempts at doing so, he made Buffy feel that she needed to be less than what she was, in order for him to feel adequate."
Xander thought about that for a moment before replying slowly, "So…what you're saying is that they won't leave us because we are less than they are?"
"No, no…they will choose to stay with us because we let them be who they truly are, to their fullest extent…we are proud of their accomplishments, and support them in a way that no one else could," Giles stated with a firm conviction.
"So…because I'm cool with Rona being a Slayer, and don't feel the need to compete, I'm better than anyone else she could have picked?" Xander asked.
"Exactly! And the same goes for Willow and I, and Sam and Jack," Giles confirmed.
"Because we, in our normalness, accept Supergirl and the Geniuses for who they are, we're the best choice for them. Huh…go figure," Jack snorted.
"Well, that's a good enough answer for me," Xander responded, jumping to his feet.
The younger man extended a hand out to Giles, helping to pull him to his feet. Jack got up on his own, and the three men looked down at the (still) unconscious monster.
"So, shall we finish this? This manly man is ready to go get a beer," Jack quipped.
Xander hefted his axe then placed the edge lightly on the creatures neck, he did the little golfer's hip-wiggle, and pompously stated, "In the immortal words of our ancestors…" he began to sing "I've been working on the railroad, all the livelong day…*chop*"
Jack snorted, then took the axe from him, continuing, "I've been working on the railroad…*chop*"
Getting into the mood, Giles picked up where Jack left off, "…just to pass the time away."
"Hey!" the three men shouted before chuckling.
"Huzzah!" Xander yelled, punching a fist into the air. "We rock!"
They grinned at each other as they walked out of the alleyway, leaving the radioactive green demon to melt in their wake.
"You know what we need, Giles?" Xander said. "A room where we could get away when we need to, instead of having to resort to walking the streets."
"Well I am the Head of CoW…I could arrange it. We have been spending most of our resources on the girls and the watcher recruits, it's time we did something for ourselves. What did you have in mind?"
"Just a large room, with all the comforts of home…you know…smooshy couches, big-screen tv, refrigerator, small kitchenette, microwave…"
"I think that's a capital idea, Xander!"
"We could call it the 'Wound-Licking' room, and have a box that says 'before exiting this room, leave all feelings of inadequacy in this box'."
The three men laughed and joked until the wee hours of morning, coming up with crazier ideas as the time passed and the beer flowed.
The 'Wound-Licking' room was a smash hit for a small group of people, though Rona, Sam, and Willow first thought it was just an excuse to create a room to watch sports where their wives wouldn't nag them. It wasn't until, in the middle of the night, when Buffy secretly stole the contents of the 'inadequacy feeling' box, and found the matching 'what I can offer her/him' box that the truth came out. Weeding out their respective husbands' slips of paper, they read them, and were deeply moved.
Rona found that Xander felt he wasn't strong enough and wondered if she regretted marrying him, but that feeling was matched to the slip of paper that stated 'I may not be physically strong, but emotionally, I am undefeatable. I offer Rona my heart on a silver platter ringed with the holly leaves I know she loves so well. I will hold her in my arms forever, unless she asks me to let her go…but, I will ask her 50 million times if she's sure before admitting defeat…and even then, I would still love her.'
Willow found that Giles felt like he was a relic left over from the dark ages, and wondered if she would have been better off married to someone younger and more 'hip', but that feeling was matched to the slip of paper that stated 'I may be older in years, but, with her, I feel younger at heart. Willow has had my heart for several years now, so I offer her my soul to use as a blanket to wrap herself up in when she feels down. If she wishes, I will offer her any and all resources to place the contents of my musty old books into her computer, so it will be in a more comfortable area for her to use. And I will try to learn more about the technology she so loves.'
When Sam read hers, she fell to the floor, cracking up with laughter. The other three women looked on in confusion, until Sam handed Buffy her slips of paper. Buffy read outloud:
Sam? Saaaaaam! I know you're reading this, I know you too well to know that you would try to find out what's going on in our special room…so I'll just get to the point. Yes, I know that you're smarter than me – after all the years we worked together, it's a proven fact. So, to cut to the chase, sometimes I wonder if you should have hooked up with some Nobel Prize winner. But when I think about what most of them look like, I have to say that I feel much better about myself. Now, go to the other slip of paper to see what I have to offer you…
Buffy giggled as she finished reading the paper, then began reading the other slip:
'If I get you a brand new P90, with all the trimmings, will you continue to love me?'
They all cracked up laughing.
"Did you see the little note at the bottom, Sam?" Buffy asked, smiling as she held out the slip of paper to the taller blonde woman.
"What note?" Sam asked as she picked herself up from the floor. She reached for the note to see, in really tiny letters, '(if that's not an adequate offering, turn over)'.
Sam turned the note over, and after reading it, her eyes filled with happy tears.
"God I love that man!"
"What's it say, Sam?" Willow asked, curious.
Sam silently handed the slip of paper to the red-head, and quickly left the room, heading to the apartment she shared with her husband…she wanted to show her man just how much he meant to her.
After watching her departure, Willow turned back to the note and flipped it over. She read it out loud:
'What can I offer to you that you don't already have. My heart, my body, my soul…all yours. Tell me what you need, and I will move heaven and earth to get it for you. If you answer that I am all you need, I will humbly thank God that you find me good enough for you. You are my everything, Sam.'
Buffy whistled, "Damn that man can sure wax poetic when he wants to."
The other two women nodded emphatically in agreement, then followed Sam's example of heading home to show their men how much they appreciated them.
The next morning found three very satisfied men, and nine months later, within hours of each other, came three new members to the ever-growing next-generation of Scoobies.
Pure mush, wasn't it.
A few notes to some of the reviewers:
Enjael – I wrote that a descendant of Ethan Rayne somehow managed to get added to the Scooby gene pool, not Ethan Rayne himself. Figure he had a child at some point, who had children, who also had children (etc. etc.), until finally one of the great-however-many-greats grandchildren of Ethan Rayne married one of the descendants of Willow/Buffy/Xander. Presto! Now we have Rayne blood mixed in…and who's to say that a child of that union wouldn't be a mirror image of the chaos that was Ethan. Eeeurgh! Just thinking about that is giving me the wiggins. And, sorry, I don't do futuristic stories with original characters – I don't think I'd be very good at it.
Catlimere – not sure if I could do a good Angel vs. Jim Ellison, so I'm going to hold off on that one.
Majin Gojira – I'm assuming you meant that you found it interesting how I made Buffy more in control than "Jim", not Blair…I found Blair to be kinda spastic in the series, but Jim being in control. If that was what you meant, I thought I'd mention that I made it that way because Buffy is used to the weirdness, whereas Jim is a cop, someone who is always in control, and he believes he just raped someone – I figured the weirdness would throw him for a loop.
Chrissy – I wouldn't classify my portrayal of Carter as meek…more like subdued. I had just watched "Shades of Grey", and took on the aspect of her actions as "stealing technology from friendlies", which was said to be a "court-marshallable act". The "meekness" is more that she knew she blew it, and was keeping a low-profile in order to keep anyone else from yelling at her. And, while Carter may have had many experiences off world, figure that Willow's "talking to" was scary due to a spectacular light-show combined with evil-Willow, with a touch of threatening really icky things should she do it again.
c-wolf – How was Chapter 1 hanging? Since it sounds like all of you guys aren't letting me go with the continuation (or snippets) of this story, let me know what needs tying up, and I'll see what I can do.
Village Mystic – *sigh* (Shay makes a 'come on' gesture) Alright…what questions do you want answered, or what do you want to see from the "early days" or "middle" of the story?
To all of you – You're not gonna let me go on this one, are you? *sigh*