Disclaimer: I don't own Buffy, or any of its character's, and I don't claim to, so don't sue me!
Plot: The gang gather at the Magic Box, for their brainstorming session – just who would have it in for Spike?
Third in my mini series of ficlets, based around Psychic!Xander. Again, please let me know what you think, and enjoy!Also just thought I'd set the timing – although I'm not sure on the sequence of events in the programme, so this is hodgepodge of them…Spike's been chipped, tried to live on his own, and has done the bit with Giles.
2) Xander has his carpenter job, isn't with Anya, never was with Anya, and moved out of his Basement without ever having roomed with Spike.
3) Joyce is dead; Buffy, Willow and Tara live at the Summers' house and take care of Dawn – nothing from Glory yet, nor do they have the money problems they did in the series.
4) Angel, Drusilla and Oz left the same way they did in the series.
Umm…if you spot any other inconsistencies let me know and I'll add them to this explanation.
Donuts. Sprinkled, glazed, frosted and filled. Ones with holes in the middle, and ones without. There were plenty of choices at the bakery, but Xander always got exactly the same selection of sugary goodness.
Three with chocolate icing and chocolate sprinkles. Two with a simple glaze. Three rings. And four with a jelly filling. A round dozen.
Then came the coffees. Now, these changed, so they were the hardest to remember, even if the pattern remained the same. If Giles deigned to have a coffee, it would be plain black, if not, he would have earl grey tea. Willow and Tara tended to have some kind of herbal tea, often relating to the mood they were in, or wanted to be in. Buffy had to be the hardest to buy for, since she always picked the ones with the most complicated names.
Half-fat, skinny, mocha latte. Who the hell creates these things? And that's not even mentioning when she wants things added to it; whipped cream, caramel sauce, sprinkles. All the while claiming the ring donuts as her own, in deference to the diet she was on!
It was at that moment that Xander always thought the job of donut boy was a hard one. He highly doubted Giles would be able to recall all the different orders, and to pick up the extra napkins on the way out.
But today, as he stood next to the checkout, waiting for his selection to be put in a box, none of the usual thoughts were crowding his head.
No bitterness at his allocated 'job'. No confusion over who wanted what. No amazement at Buffy's choices and rationalisations. Not even the embarrassed thought that he must seem like an unhealthy pig to the spotty adolescent behind the counter.
No, today his thoughts were focused entirely on a certain blonde. The reason, truth be told, behind his trip to the bakery in the first place.
After a hard day at the building site, Xander would normally be looking forward to going home, stripping out of his work clothes and taking a nice long hot shower. Followed by flopping down on the couch with a sandwich or a pizza, and flipping through the channels to find something appropriately mind-numbing. Unfortunately, the day Spike (temporarily) moved in, that routine had changed.
The first day it had been Spike waiting for him when he got home, a cooked meal on the table – Spike's way of saying 'thank you' for letting him stay. But that was nothing – unusual, but hardly earth shattering – it was this morning that had really shaken him.
Spike had got up in the morning, ostentatiously to see Xander off to work. That wasn't the part that bothered the brunette. It was the fact that after his morning shower, the vampire had wandered around the apartment naked! Letting Xander get a good long look at just what was sleeping on his couch during the day.
His poor brain had shut down briefly, and Xander had only just come to his senses before he grabbed the vampire. So close his fingers brushed the other man's damp back, he had babbled some kind of goodbye before making a run for it. Hoping Spike hadn't noticed the odd panting noises he'd been making.
So instead of going home and relaxing like he used to, Xander found himself feeling like a hunted man – scared of going home in case the vampire did something else out of character, or just plain arousi…disturbing! He meant disturbing. Liar.
Turning to his age-old, and long discarded role of donut-gatherer, he had hoped the familiar task would help ground him, but all he could think about was Spike and how his order was the easiest to remember. Hot chocolate with marshmallows.
And that was it! Granted, that didn't stop Spike from stealing the others' donuts, but an evil Master vampire asking for a cup of hot chocolate always seemed slightly ludicrous. Almost as ludicrous as said vampire making you dinner as a thank you?
"Thanks." Box of donuts in one hand, holder full of drinks in the other, Xander was just turning away from the counter when a small tap made him twist to the right, in time to avoid getting bumped into by the person behind him.
The rest of the journey to the Magic Box was uneventful, and it was with a mild feeling of apprehension that he opened the door, bell cheerfully jangling.
Yesterday had been too busy for everyone to meet and it was only because of Xander's insistence that the two incidents were connected that the others had even agreed to meet up today. It was things like that – their unquestioning support of his ideas – that reminded Xander the Scoobies truly were his friends. Sure, they weren't as trusting with his fighting abilities, but that was to be expected, given he never cheated with them.
"Hah – what did I tell you! Now cough up, you owe me ten bucks!"
Apparently there was to be no respite from the vampire today, given his crowing voice was the first thing Xander heard as he stepped into the cool shop. A small shiver worked its way down his spine in reaction to the glee he heard in that silky voice. Don't pretend you didn't feel that.
Shaking off both the reaction and the voice, he took note of a surprised Willow handing over money to Spike, and quickly stepped over to the round research table, putting down his offering to squeals of delight from the girls and a "Thank you, Xander," from Giles. Small smile at their response, and how easy it was to get in their good books, then dark brown eyes drifted over to the staircase, meeting the clear blue eyes as the sardonic eyebrow did its thing.
"I got your hot chocolate, Spike." Now, why did that feel like a peace offering? 'Cause you're an idiot. Great, now he was being insulted by his going-insane-hearing-things voice!
The quirk of pale lips soothed his tension, and Xander idly wondered why there was any colour to the vampire's lips in the first place – if it was blood which gave them that pink tint, then surely they wouldn't still look pale, unless of course the blood had no effect, in which case the pinkness could be from nibbling his lips, or they could have been exceptionally red when Spike was still alive…mmm…nibbling…
"Ta, luv," Taking the lid off, Spike took a small sip, obviously savouring it, but it was the sudden flood of colour in those same lips he'd unconsciously been studying for several minutes that wrested Xander's attention back from his wandering thoughts. "What did you get for yourself?"
Okay, he lied, it was the question which brought him back from dreamland.
"Huh?" Obviously didn't wake you up enough.
Curious blue eyes were watching him he realised, actually interested in his answer.
"Oh, no, I didn't want anything."
Narrowing his eyes thoughtfully, Spike studied the Whelp. The boy had been unnaturally jittery for a while now, ever since the other day when he'd been dumped on Xander's couch, the boy had kept looking at him, as if checking he wasn't watching him, and then Xander had started jumping at the slightest noise. It was bewildering, to say the least.
After the stammered goodbye that morning, Spike had known Xander would try to avoid him, for whatever reason, and that was how he'd known to bet against Red that Xander would return to his old job of donut boy for the day. He hadn't thought the boy would still bother to get him his usual drink though, and he found himself strangely touched. Touched enough to ignore the boy's odd staring, and to even share his drink with him.
"Here, you can have a sip of mine," Grudgingly holding out the foam cup, Spike was surprised to see the brown eyes locked on his darken, pupils harshly contracting. "You okay, pet?"
Not now! Damnit, just as he was beginning to get a hold on himself, and stop fixating on Spike's nibble-able lips, he had to fall into the grip of a huge knock. See? This is what happened when he let his guard down!
Pupils contracted further, and he could already feel the strain. Sweat prickling along his hairline, and the Magic Box fading as he searched within a sky blue gaze. No clouds in this, only a summons, as he reached, against his will, for the vampire's immediate future.
…wooden seat, no, on stairs…floor shimmering…human…wooden knives…woman cursing…dangerous blood…music…dancing…death…
It was already altered.
In order to get the hot chocolate Xander had gotten for him, Spike had had to get up from where he was sat on the stairs. Meaning…Xander reached past the proffered drink and grabbed the vampire's pale wrist, yanking him forwards.
As Spike stumbled into Xander, cursing, the Scooby looked past the leather-clad shoulder in time to see the floor where he'd been standing start to shimmer.
"Quick, get some weapons!"
Wracking his brain feverishly, Xander ignored them as the others' dumbfounded looks changed to ones of shock as something which looked like a human suddenly leaped out of the floor, brandishing a wickedly sharp weapon – choosing instead to force more juice out of the moment.
…Work in pairs…Valuffa…marble…a statue…
"Well where's the second one…?"
Hearing Willow's sudden yelp as another one appeared and took a swipe at her, Xander rolled his eyes. "There's the second one."
Even as he vaguely admired the ex-Watcher's speed, as Giles ran for an axe and began to fight the first intruder, Xander was also on the move, heading for the specific shelf he'd had a brief glimpse of, wreathed in fog as it had been.
Buffy's battered figure suddenly flew past him to crash into the counter, and he hurried up, just reaching his goal as he felt the edge of panic crank up a notch.
The marble bust of the Goddess Athena felt cool and real in his hand, as he spun and hurled it with all his considerable carpenter-strength.
It made a satisfying thud as it hit its target, sending the Valuffa crashing to the ground, head split open. Spike spun to look at the fallen body, blue eyes focusing on the sharp wood still gripped in the demon's hand. Everything was still.
A small gasp broke the silence, but it was enough to send the other Valuffa into action, ignoring Giles and his axe in preference of jumping at Spike's turned back, knife viciously extended. With calm eyes Xander watched. Considering you hate your talents, you're awfully trusting of them, aren't you?
Whirling with a snarl, Spike punched his attacker dead on.
"What the…?" Giles said, stupified.
The remaining Valuffa stopped in its tracks then stumbled back a step before collapsing to the ground. Spike smirked briefly, but it soon disappeared again. For some reason, Xander found that more disturbing than the fact that someone had sent assassins after the blonde.
"Right," Giles carefully adjusted his glasses, still breathing heavier than usual from the exertion, but drawing his librarian-demeanour around him even as the axe in his hand still quivered. "Well, I think it's safe to say Xander was correct, and someone is indeed trying to kill Spike."
Buffy gingerly got to her feet, rubbing her head.
"Well, who do you think it could be – I mean, I know he's annoying enough to want to kill," Ignoring Spike's brief "Oi!", she continued talking. "…But the incidents themselves seem rather vague."
"She's right, there's been an anonymous shooting, someone's gone through his crypt, then of course there was the incident in the cemetery, and now this."
"Speaking of," Giles gently interrupted Willow's summary, shooting her a small smile in apology. "I find it hard to believe that something as strong as these…whatever they are, were taken out by some nice throwing by Xander, and a punch by Spike. It seems a bit too easy to me."
"Ah, see, that's where you're wrong." Ignoring the warning looks sent him by the Slayer and the Watcher, Spike casually lit up a cigarette where he was, leaning against the dented counter.
"It's easy to kill anything, as long as you have the right tools."
So saying he held up his other hand, the one he'd punched the demon with, and showed them all the marble bust of Athena, which Xander had hit the first demon with.
"Hmm, interesting." Eyes taking on a familiar far away glaze, Giles plucked the bust from Spike's hand, oblivious to the unfriendly look he received from the vampire, and wandered back to the research table. Setting the marble down, the man tugged a specific book towards him with one hand, and plucked a jelly donut from the abandoned box with the other.
Exchanging a knowing look with Willow, who was once again Scoobying solo, thanks to Tara being confined to her bed, Xander took another seat at the table – fully aware that he could save Giles some time, but knowing that with those small clues (human-looking demons, popped out of floor, killed by a marble bust of Athena) the ex-Watcher already half-knew what they were, and it was just a case of recalling the information. Something Giles loved doing, since he no longer had the library to indulge in.
Blinking at Buffy, Giles took in the perplexed expression on his face, and returned to the land of the not-made-of-paper-and-dusty.
"Ah, no, I meant that they," He waved a negligent hand at the motionless bodies on the floor. "Are Valuffa demons."
"They have the appearance of humans, but the strength and speed of lesser demons. They also have the coveted ability to bend the world of physics to their will, which makes them ideal assassins. Due to their looks, they are well known for taking jobs from humans, who no doubt think they are humans – which would actually then tie in with the other group of humans who attacked Spike."
As he finally stopped for breath, Giles took one look at the blank looks on their faces, and the disinterested one on Spike's, sighed, and ran over what he'd just said in his head – trying to find where he lost them.
"Bend the world of physics…they can travel through walls, etc, which makes them able to reach anyone, anywhere. It would also mean they can make weapons just pass straight through them, which is where the marble comes in. Marble is the only material they cannot control, and even then that doesn't apply to all marble, only blessed marble."
Pausing again to look at the innocent bust perched on the centre of the table, Giles turned astute hazel eyes on the suddenly innocent-looking Xander, who was putting a lot of concentration into picking off the chocolate sprinkles on a donut.
"I find it hard to believe you chose this as your weapon by chance. Which begs the question, Xander, how did you know what their weakness was?"
On the receiving end of four questioning looks, he found himself most taken aback by the sudden interest, and almost anticipatory gleam, which had taken up home in Spike's eyes. Remembering what had happened the last time he met the vampire's eyes, Xander quickly averted his gaze to the donut in his hands, noticing the smear of melted chocolate on his fingers for the first time.
Biting back a groan at he saw the boy suck his fingers into his mouth, in what Spike could only describe as a calculated attempt at distraction – nevermind the fact that he seemed to be the only one distracted by it – Spike waited as patiently as he could for the others to clue in on the other odd thing Xander had done…
"For that matter, what were you doing yanking Spike forward in the first place? The demons hadn't appeared yet, but you still grabbed him?"
Even though he was glad he didn't have to wait any longer, Spike couldn't resist sticking his tongue out at the Slayer's back as she strutted past him. Just like her to think she was being so smart, noticing things like that – as if he hadn't noticed first!
"Umm…well, that was just…"
Worried his boy was about to come up with another crap lie, which the other Scoobies would buy into, Spike decided it was past time for the kill.
"Yeah, an' another thing, luv – how come your eyes changed right before you grabbed me?" Spike made sure he had everyone's attention before he continued. "Your pupils went right small, and then the brown bit sort of took over your whole eye. Right weird-looking it was!"
At the death glare he received for that little tidbit, Spike felt a momentary pang of something. It couldn't be guilt though, since he hadn't even done anything bad…except for throwing open Xander's secret to the others, whatever it was. Besides, if he had to play the swooning damsel in distress all the bloody time, like he had been lately, it was high time he got something in exchange. And why shouldn't he be nasty to his hero – even is he was in a skirt-role at the moment, he was still evil at heart. Right?
But if that was the case, then why didn't he feel his usual satisfaction at the causing one of the Scoobies distress?
Great! Xander bloody Harris had not only turned him into a girl in the space of four days, he'd also deprived Spike of the ability to relish the little bit of havoc he could wreak!