Written by: Shawn
Summary: Video games, romance novels, cuddling, and puppy dogs. Just another quiet Saturday morning in the Harris household.
Rated: PG Category: Romance/Fluff Ship: Buffy/Xander
Timeline: The setting for this story is more than a few years post "Chosen." This story disregards any references to BtVS made in the last season of "Angel: The Series" Once the Scooby Gang left Sunnydale it's all my universe after that.
Disclaimer: Mutant Enemy owns everything. Blah, blah. blah. smile
My personal archive: http/groups. Notes: There is no angst, sex, cursing, violence, or anything like that here. This is meant to be a sweet, affectionate, feel-good story to enjoy whenever you need something nice and short to read. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I did writing it.
When you have
once seen the glow of happiness on the face of a beloved person, you
know that a man can have no vocation but to awaken that light on the
faces surrounding him. In the depth of winter, I finally learned that
within me there lay an invincible summer.
--Albert Camus (1913-1960)
The home of Xander and Buffy Harris
17 West Oak Hill
Saturday, April 25, 8:30 AM
The pouring rainfall didn't begin until late last night when a powerful thunderstorm blew it's way through Cleveland, casting the skies in streaks of lightening, howling winds, and loud rumbling in the distance. April showers and so much more as the bad weather lasted until the wee hours. The somber morning saw a quiet dissipation of the storm itself, leaving behind only light rain and the heavens painted in gray.
For many, storms are comforting, or depressing, and even sensual to some. Perhaps it's the continuous droplets of water drenching all beneath it, or the sun's warmth hiding behind the clouds that has such a profound effect. Nature's a studied, fact-found, but still vastly unpredictable force that no one can contain or prevent. It is unstoppable, and so inclining oneself to accepting it's arrival forces cooperation and submission.
If you can't beat it, you might as well enjoy it.
Typical mornings in the Harris household consist of everyone running around like they're crazy, arguing about who's taking to long in the shower, grabbing and tossing things in the microwave for a quick breakfast, and picking up little colorful things off the floor that people might step on or put in their mouths. Things usually ended with hugs and kisses until later when they're reunited. That's how things work in their house. Hectic, a bit chaotic, but just the way they like it.
Not this morning.
No, this morning is all about the slow motion. Taking it easier than easy. A lazy quality of doing all the things they don't have time for in their normal week. No ones expecting anyone anywhere. No one has to be dropped off, picked up, or traffic fought, or boring meetings sat in barely awake. Nope. No way. Not this quiet drowsy rainy morning. Buffy and Xander are off the clock completely, and they're loving it.
Heck, they're still in the clothes they slept in. A matching midnight blue pajama set Dawn bought them for Christmas. Comfortable beyond words and kind of cute at the same time.
Rain drops gently rapped the windows ceils of their cozy living room, playing Mother Nature's music. Without the sun shining through the curtains, the room was bathed in shadows of comforting darkness. Due to the chill brought on by last nights storm, the heats turned up a bit, warming things up. Buffy reclined on one end of the couch, her back to the armrest while her white sock covered feet rested in Xanders lap at the other end of the couch. She's reading her newest Harlequin romance novel. The one she's been dying to get into for well over a week now, but didn't have the time to read. And ever so often she can feel her husbands eyes glance her way. That smirking smile of his, along with that teasing head shake meant not only was he again making fun of her new interest in romance novels, but the cover was the all to typical picture one would expect to see. A chiseled beyond words man in skin tight jeans and boots, sans a shirt, with long superhero-like flowing hair flowing in the wind. Of course the books heroine was hanging onto his waist, staring up at him as if he were a God among mortal men. Oh yes, Buffy can tell Xander's chomping at the bit. Then again, she has plenty of her own firepower considering that game he's playing for like the one thousandth time since he bought it a month ago. "Honey, you beat the game twenty times already. I don't think there's anything else for you to accomplish. And I'm shocked that you like it so much since we lived it most of it."
His forearms rested over her ankles, controller aimed at the 70'inch wide-screen TV hooked to his Next-Box. "I'll have you know that the character 'Alex' is the hardest character to beat the game with according to GamePro Magazine," he beamed proudly. "Never mind the programmers obvious lack of accurately portraying 'my' speed, agility, and strength; I can still beat the game pretty easy even on the hard mode. I am only attempting to do this last, final, great act."
"And that is?"
"Beating the game without losing one man." Big wide smile. He even pressed a little smooch to her foot. Ignoring Buffy's 'You are such a closet geek' glance his way, his attentions turned back to the game. "The look on your face shows a lack of appreciation for your husbands obviously advanced game playing skills."
"I'd really appreciate your advanced breakfast cooking skills." Wearing her best hopeful smile, she batted her eye lashes just to seal the deal.
"Hey, I'm busy."
"Busy playing that video game you have beaten every way possible in every mode the game comes with?" As fond as Buffy is of Andrew, and as supportive of him as she was when he announced he created and sold a video game to Microsoft, when she discovered 'Betty the Blood Sucking Monster Hunter' was the game he created, she just about threw him out of the nearest window. Betty's story was eerily familiar. Beginning in high school, she comes to find out she is the latest in a legendary monster killing line of 'Hunters'. She was a petite blonde, albeit with 36 DD breasts, who defended the small mystical town of 'Brightsdale' with her best friends Wilma, Alex, and Miles. On level three a new character, 'Hope,' is unlocked and useable. A fellow 'Hunter' with long dark hair and a darker side than 'Betty'. On level five, or 'Season Five' as it says in the game, Betty gains a bratty younger sister named Sunset. As you progress through the game you meet up with a 'blood sucking monster with a soul' named 'Halo'. The bosses, better known as 'Big Bads' in the game, were The Mistress, Halous, The Senator, Aidan, Halleluiah, the Evil Duo, and the baddest villain of them all, The Last. The games locales included a variety of cemeteries, back alleys, dark caves, a mansion, a couple of rooftop, a teenager-friendly nightclub called Golds, a demonic high school, and the forest.
Honestly, Buffy was the only one of her friends who didn't play the game. She flat out refused in front of everyone, despite their snickers and teasing. She even found Giles playing it one day with the 'Miles' character. He actually beat the game, then sat back and drank a glass of Brandy, thoroughly pleased with himself. Buffy came so close to throwing her shoe at him. "That game is going to drive me crazy."
She's mildly jealous of the attention he gives to the game, and he knows it. Xander even likes it a little. "Are you still mad Andrew made your breasts bigger?"
"Yes, darn it. My boobs are my height and weight appropriate."
"I sure as heck love'em."
"Exactly," she cheerfully beamed his way. "So why enhance perfection?"
"Cause horny no-life having video game addicts who make up 60 of the industry, do not want to play games with girls that have realistic bodies because they don't see them or have any contact with them in real life. They want to play games with girls who's figures resemble those of the adult movies they watch, because yet again I stress, they have no contact with real women in real life."
His unexpected sparks of clever brilliance have always charmed her. "I so love you."
"You'll love me even more when I beat this game without losing one man."
"Your character is the only one in the game without any super strength, and can't use magic at all. That's so unfair. You've got to hit everybody twice as many times as the other characters."
Pausing the game, Xander slowly turned to his lovely wife, tongue in cheek expression apparent. "Reeeaaallly. I didn't know that. Lord knows I never lived it."
She gently kicked his thigh for messing with her. "Oh shut up." If she wasn't deeply in love with him, he'd still be her best friend. Her co-favorite person to be around ever. "Why is that 'Halo' guy beating you up in that corner? And why does he frown all the time?"
"It's because early in the game 'Betty' likes him and when she 'kisses' him he turns evil. Oh, and he's broody."
"Oh give me a break." Buffy made a mental note right then and there. "I am so gonna have a long talk with Andrew tomorrow."
"Will that talk include a chokehold?"
"More than likely."
Being married to a Slayer was never boring. Tapping his controller faster, and with practiced techniques, Xander quickly turned his character offensive and began to beat the unholy crap out of 'Halo.'
Squinting her eyes at the screen, Buffy appraised, "Honey, aren't you just supposed to get 'Halo' inside that portal thingy? His life energy is zero, so why are you still beating him over and over in the corner?" Suddenly, as if Xander's devilish grin weren't enough evidence, it all became crystal clear. "Why are you still getting revenge on Angel," she laughed through every word, enjoying his amusement as well. He's so trying to hide how much he's enjoying beating that 'Halo' character. "You married me and more. I do think it's safe to say you won that rivalry by a landslide."
"Yeaaah," he stressed with no small amount of pride, "But one can't ever hit gloomy-guy enough." With the controller in his lap, Xander sighed happily, tapping the 'X' button over and over as 'Alex' stomped 'Halo' in the face. "You can't buy satisfaction like this, sweetheart." Thinking it over, he added, "Okay, probably in Vegas or Atlantic City. But it won't be this satisfying. And it'll cost a heck of a lot more."
Just a smidgen of insanity made for never a dull moment. He's so handsome to her this morning, with that unruly hair of his sticking up all over the place. Rumpled and satisfied. "If it makes you happy, just go right ahead stomping him. I support you. Stomp away, baby."
"You know what would make me happier than stomping 'Halo'?"
Peering just over her book, Buffy added in a husky, sexy tone, "I think you had enough of that last night during the storm." He certainly did, much to their mutual enjoyment. Thank goodness for the thick walls of their bedroom.
Truthfully, he can never get enough of her, but that wasn't on his mind. "As amazing as your 'physical skills' are, I'd love to see some cooking skills exhibited while we still have our free time."
"Is that a sly way of asking me to make your breakfast? Like I'm some Martha Stewart homemaker? What's next? Are you gonna ask me to remodel the cabinets in the kitchen?"
"Hey, don't you be dissing Martha. She did time. That's a tough chick."
"Oh please," Buffy rolled her eyes. "Her 'prison' was nicer than our first house."
"She knows twenty different ways to make pancakes, Buffy. Twenty," he emphasized by counting his fingers. "That's a tough chick."
Sometimes staring at him was all that she could do in the wake of some of the crazy things that came out of his mouth.
"You," she pointed out and at him, " Are going to make breakfast."
"And why is that?"
"Becasue you love me."
"That excuse might get you jewelry or new shoes, or taken shopping, or even a new car. But it is not in any way, shape or form gonna get you sausage, scrambled cheese eggs, or anything bacony." She arched a humorous eye brow. "Bacony is in the dictionary. Go look it up."
And to think she's promised to this man forever. Then again, she'd have it no other way. "I was in a steak omelet sort of mood." She tilted her head toward the kitchen, hoping he'd get the hint. "Come on, honey. Pleeeeaaaase," she laced with a sweet tone of voice. "I just want to finish this chapter, and when I'm done, the food will be ready. See, we both win."
She smiled at him like that made perfectly good sense. "Exactly how do we both win?"
"Well, I'll be happy. And you like making me happy. Our joint happiness will fill this house with happy. There, happy?"
"You need help."
"No, I need breakfast. Specifically, the culinary grandeur of my husbands cooking."
"And while I'm slaving away in that kitchen over a hot stove you'll be in here reading," he reached over and snatched the book from her hand. "A Season of Passion." Even Buffy had to duck her head in shame. "Yet another trashy smutty romance novel. I don't even have to read the back of it to know the plot. It's always one of three plots no matter how many thousands of books they publish."
"It's all about smutty love, Xander."
"Buffy, the guy on the cover has a eight pack on his stomach. Who does those many sit-ups?"
"And I suppose 'Betty' is accurate representation of a woman doing a nine consecutive back flips with a chest that would make Pamela Anderson envious?"
"Don't you go dissing Pam. She saved lives in Baywatch."
"Do you even believe half the stuff that comes out of your mouth?"
Her soulmates a nut job, but whatever. So is she. "Honey..."
"Lets see here." Xander shut his eyes and held the book to the side of his head, acting as if he was a pyschic. "I bet this book is about one of three things. Number one, a woman who comes to a town she left years ago to find the business her recently deceased father owned is now being run by his ruggedly handsome widowed right hand man with a child. I bet the girl has been left the business and falls in love with Mr. Eight-Pack as they try to work together and resist their irresistible attraction." Buffy looked away, working hard to suppress a smile. "Number 2, the woman is a witness to a crime and the ruggedly handsome widow sheriff with the cute little son protects her and they fall in love while hiding out at his cabin in the woods becasue he's a loner ever since his wife died." Buffy crossed her legs in his lap, then reached for the book, but he held it just out of her reach. "Number three, the woman is the teacher of the little boy who misses his recently deceased mom and his ruggedly handsome widowed attorney father is distant and lonely. They fall in love while strengthening his relationship with his son. Go ahead, Buff. Tell me I'm right?"
Damn him was her first thought, chuckling under her breath and his amused glare. She'll never give him the full satisfaction of how right he is. Nope. Never that. "It's about a sheriff..."
"And he's a widow?" Xander alluded to instantly. Buffy nodded, laughing. "And he has a kid?"
"He's ruggedly handsome."
"You see the cover."
"What sheriff doesn't wear a shirt? He's not a lawman, he's a Calvin Klein model."
Her Xander is a funny one. And he lets her rest her feet in his lap while he's playing games or watching TV. Little things like that are why she's so in love with him. That, and the fact that he makes her laugh every single day. "He doesn't compare to you in any way."
In the middle of a conversation she has the ability to steal his heart with just a phrase or a look. Slipping her feet off his lap, Xander extended his hand. Taking hers, he tugged her to his side, wrapping his arm over her shoulder so that she's cuddling against his shoulder. "As sweet as that was, I'm still not making you breakfast."
And to think she thought she had him for sure. "You pull me all close like this, acting all romantic and stuff. Yet you still won't cook for me?" He's kissing her neck softly, pulling her closer until her hand stalls on his chest. "You're a bad husband," she pouted despite his tender affections. He's now kissing her cheek, forehead and nose until they're both almost leaning over. "Stop, stop, stop," she giggled when he pulled them upright again. "Why won't you just give in?"
"I always give in."
"Then why break a good habit." With a snort he tried to extract his arm from around her, but she grabbed his hand at the last second and pulled it back around her, cozying up to his warm side. It's still raining outside, preventing the sun from coming out. The living room is so warm and quiet, allowing them to soak in the silent moment, with Buffy playing with the hem of his shirt, while Xander toyed with the sleeve of hers. After all these years post-Sunnydale, this is still so good. Their marriage is as solid and fulfilling as it was at the very beginning. It takes hard work to keep it that way, and it's never perfect or easy. Nonetheless, these are the best times of their lives. "The weatherman said it might rain all day long."
Yawning softly, Xander pressed a soft kiss to her temple. She's the purest joy in his life, and he hopes she knows that bone deep. "I don't want to go anywhere anyway."
The faint scent of Bounce clinging to her husbands shirt charms her for some strange reason. His solid warm body is perfect for her to cuddle up to and relax. "Me either. But, there is something you could do for me?"
"I am not cooking breakfast this morning. Let McDonalds cook it. Or Burger King. Or IHOP. But not me."
"No, silly. I meant..." Buffy took a deep breath, knowing her request would be teaser ammunition for some time to come. "Teach me how to play the game." Her husbands eyes widened like saucers. "Okay, alright, one reason I hate it so much is that the few times I tried to play it while you were at work I died on the first level. It's sickening. I battled baddies for real, and yet the digitized ones all gang up on me. The instruction book was forty pages long, with all those complicated button presses and combo's. I had no book when I first fought vampires. Shove stake in chest, step aside, dusty ends, and that was that. But for the game I was lost."
"Didn't you use the holy water bottles?"
"There are holy water bottles in the game?"
"Honey, we're gonna have to start from the ground up." Seizing his controller again, Xander saved his game, then reset it. He carefully handed the controller to Buffy as if he were handing her the Nobel Peace Prize. "This is a con-troll-er."
"I am not stu-pid, hon-ey."
Bashful, he let her be. "Okay, here are the basics. The 'X' button kicks. The 'O' button punches. And the..." Suddenly, the soft but fast footfalls of a newly arriving member of the family drew both their attention.
"How come you guys are playing games and you didn't wake me up to play with you? Bad parents. Bad," little seven year old Catherine Harris, still in her Winnie the Pooh pajama's, pointed at the duo. Her hazel eyes darted back and forth between them. "I'm going to have to report you to someone you report bad parents to."
"Like who, sweetheart?" Buffy playfully questioned her still sleepy eyed daughter, who looked off with her small hand on her chin, pondering.
Xander feigned fear, covering his eyes. Catherine felt vindicated, or as much as a seven year old could. "Get over her, short-stuff." His favorite little rascal raced around the couch and hopped in her fathers lap, only to be assaulted by the kissy monsters her parents called themselves whenever she was near by. Her wiggling and giggling filled their living room and hearts. Finally, she settled in her fathers arms. "Mommy, you never play video games. What are you doing with a controller?"
"Daddy is going to teach me how to play so I can be cool like you two." Buffy brushed some of her daughters blonde hair off the side of her face, tenderly caressing her cheek.
Catherine couldn't think of a better way to start the day than this. "Cool. Daddy is a good teacher. Aren't you daddy?" she confidently looked up at her father with adoring eyes.
"Yes, I am a great teacher. A Jedi Master of video game consoles. I proudly take your mom as my Padawan learner."
Father and daughter were quite the pair. Catherine is such a daddy's little girl. Buffy doesn't mind though. Pressing start on her controller, the game plays through a cinema of 'Betty' talking in a coffee house to her Overseer, 'Miles.' The voice acting is atrocious, but her little girl's getting a kick out of it. After 'Wilma' and 'Alex' walk in and chat with 'Betty' for a few minutes, the Hunter exits out the back door with a couple of stakes and a quippy line.
"Mommy, I don't like it when 'Betty' kisses 'Halo' at the end of the level. I wish she would kiss 'Alex.' He's nice."
Buffy rolled her eyes when Xander patted the top of Catherine's head, whispering "Such a good child," in her ear.
Onscreen, 'Betty' ventured into the cemetery as the music swelled to a actiony crescendo. Suddenly, three blood suckers popped up out of graves near her. The graphics were amazingly vibrant and detailed. And with the exception of Betty's gravity defying boobs, she looked pretty dead-on like Buffy.
Xander leaned close to his wife's ear. "X is kick, O is punch. Get'em, honey."
Pressing buttons in rapid succession, Buffy laid down the first couple of blood suckers with no problems. "Where is the stake button?"
"You can't use that until level two, mommy," Catherine told her. "Go to that big rock thing that looks like a angel. Kick it three times. It's a power-up and you'll be faster."
Doing as her daughter said, Buffy's character punched faster than ever now. All of a sudden that violent rush grew within her as it did all who played video games. "I'm kicking butt now."
"I had a feeling Mommy could beat up blood suckers if she wanted to. Mommy rocks."
Buffy smooched her cheek. "Such a good child." It's Xander's turn to roll his eyes.
On and on Buffy was given tips and tactics as the game progressed. Towards the middle of level two, Buffy found herself in the Golds nightclub fighting a very familiar leather trench coat wearing blonde male blood sucker named 'Nail.'
"Daddy usually takes a long time here and keeps shoving his head in the toilet over and over. It's kind of disgusting."
Buffy glanced over at her innocent husband, who's not innocent at all. "Why am I not surprised." Beating the Spike-character into submission sent him running out the door, and the level was complete. "What's next?"
"You have to shove Halous in that glowing hole and then that's it. But you have to beat him with the sword first. He's a wuss." Her parents careful appraisal of her language made her blush. "That's what Auntie Faith said."
"You do not repeat the things Auntie Faith said. Do you hear me young lady," Xander declared in a fatherly tone. Catherine nodded obediently.
"Mommy says I shouldn't repeat some of the things you say too."
Buffy's attempt to cough her way out of that one wasn't working at all. Xander wasn't about to let her off the hook. "I'm not even a little surprised."
"Mommy says repeating stuff you say will get me put in a straight jacket some day. What's a straight jacket, daddy? Is it like my red jacket?"
"Sweetheart, Mommy jokes a lot. And she's short. You have to take things short people say with a grain of salt."
Catherine peered up at her dad with a frown. "You want me to eat salt?"
Laughing, Buffy ruffled her daughters hair. "Your daddy is teasing you. He's being lazy becasue he knows that you want pancakes for breakfast and hasn't gotten up to make them yet." Catherine's eyes lit up with glee, as Buffy soaked in all of Xander's annoyance.
"Daddy, make the heart-shaped pancakes with that silver thingy you have. Puleasse!"
Using their child's simple child-like mind against him. Such an evil sexy woman. Add into it a absolutely irresistible bundle of joy he loves like no other, and his fate is sealed. "I guess I have no choice."
"You never really did," Buffy taunted without looking at him, her eyes focused on the hell raising she's putting an end to onscreen.
Having her mom and dad in such a good mood gave Catherine the perfect moment to push her agenda. She couldn't really spell agenda yet, but Auntie Willow told her what it meant, and when she explained what she wanted, Willow told her she had an agenda. Now she had to be... what was that word Willow said... subtle. She had to be subtle. "I think I should have a big dog and his name should be Top Dog." Gazing up at her startled parents with a big wide smile, she looked back and forth between them. "So when should we buy him?"
Having put off this talk for long enough, even Xander had to admit a family pet wasn't that bad an idea. And his baby has been asking for a dog for a year now. "Why should we call him Top Dog?"
"Uhm, it sounds cool. And I can spell it."
Buffy's little girl kept things simple. "Top Dog sounds like a good name, honey. Let me and your daddy talk about it and we'll all talk again later today."
"Will that talking lead to some dog buying?"
"Have I told you how wonderful and great and, uhm, super great a mommy you are?"
"That's not going to get you your way."
Pouting, Catherine settled back in her fathers arms, who rested his chin on top of her head. "Well can I at least get some pancakes sometime today?"
"Bossy," Xander declared while tickling her. "Just like your mom."
"Mom isn't bossy. Mom is super strong. She can twirl you over her head. That always makes me laugh."
"Yeah, you, Aunt Faith, Aunt Dawn, Aunt Willow, Grandpa Giles. The last one is a particularly bitter pill to take." Lifting her in his arms, Xander moving around the back of the couch. He bent over and stole a kiss from his wife, lingering for but a moment, then he's off to the kitchen. "It's pancake time."
"Daddy, can I ask you a question?"
"Why do all the people in our video game look like you and mommy and my aunts and my grandpa?"
"It's becasue your mommy and I and all our friends really did fight blood suckers when we were much younger, before you were born and the game is based on our lives."
"Is that true, mommy?"
"No, honey. Daddy's a little nut-casy. We talked about that, remember?"
"I remember. Daddy, you're always messing with me."
"It's becasue you're short, just like your mom. Short people get messed with a lot."
"I HEARD THAT!" Buffy shouted from the living room.