Disclaimer: All characters previously seen on Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Angel are the property of Joss Whedon and his associates. All characters never seen anywhere else are mine. I make absolutely no money from this hobby.
Rating: Mature (for sexual situations and occasional strong language).
Pairings: Buffy/Faith, Willow/Kennedy (and for this episode about a dozen others to boot).
Summary: Faith's finally arrived home, so now the fun begins, right? Craig finally fulfilling his duty is probably going to help with that, but he's not so pleased when it backfires on him.
Love is a 4 letter word
Soft sunlight filtered through the leaves, gradually drying out the woods around Sunset Camp. Although this early in the morning, barely past six, it hadn't managed to do much about the sogginess of the ground beneath the trees.
Craig tried to ignore the moisture seeping into the seat of his khaki shorts, concentrating on his task.
This deep in the trees there were no sounds but those of the early birds heralding a new day and a gentle breeze rustling the leaves above the English boy's head. He kept his voice to a murmur to stay in harmony with the pleasant serenity.
Not that the serenity was going to last much longer.
In front of him sat the ingredients he needed to accomplish his goal. Pinches of herbs and powders taken from various jars in Ms Rosenburg's Magick Room along with the two bluebird feathers, a Styrofoam container full of pork dripping, a box of long stove matches and an empty mug claiming to belong to the 'World's Best Carpenter'. He'd found it at the back of the cupboard with half the handle missing so presumably it wouldn't be missed.
"Dark Lord I beseech thee."
Careful not to spill any outside the mug, Craig poured in first the powder and then the herbs.
"Allow my prayer to release the urges of thine enemies."
The pork dripping dribbled into the mug next and Craig pulled an oversized match from the yellow box and used the stick to stir the mixture until it became as thick as treacle.
"By your power let their will be weakened and their weaknesses empowered."
The potion in the bottom of the mug thickened enough that it was possible for Craig to stand the match upright. He paused long enough to make sure it was going to stay there and then with a little nod of satisfaction he pulled another match free and struck it against the side of the box.
"Let my words draw your wrath and understanding."
Completely calm, Craig lit the upright match. It caught immediately and the flame slowly started to burn down the wood towards the mixture in the bottom.
"So that your faithful servant may be avenged."
In seconds the grease and herbs and powders were burning furiously, Craig could feel the heat of it on his face as he picked up the Bluebird feathers. He held them, one in each hand, over the mug-fire and waved an intricate pattern through the shimmering haze.
"Hear me, Janus – creator of disorder, master of pandemonium, lord of chaos!"
The feathers glowed a brilliant blue before bursting into flames of the exact same colour.
Craig stared at them in awe for a split-second, hardly able to believe it had worked as promised, and then the burning caught up with him and he dropped the feathers into the mug with a shout of pain; waving his singed fingers in the air in a very simple pattern as he tried to lessen the sting.
By the time he thought to look the mug was a bubbling mass of fat and ceramic.
As Craig watched, it liquefied, becoming an electric blue colour and then began to spit at him. Well, not actually at him, but all around, he just happened to be sat right next to it as it sizzled on the damp ground like water on a hot-plate.
Scrambling back to avoid the stinging blobs, he waited until it was all evaporated, or something, gone anyway, leaving just a blue haze that quickly dissipated on the breeze.
"Right then," he said, getting to his feet with a proud grin on his face, still feeling a little surprised that he'd pulled it off without blowing up half of Boudenver or turning himself into a radish.
"Time to go catch a plane," he added to himself and sauntered out of the clearing; happy in the knowledge that he'd done what he came to do.
Xander was staring into the mirror in his bedroom, pulling down his blood shot eyes and wondering if it was time to invest in some anti-aging wrinkle-reducing bag-eradicating death-warmed-over-relieving kind of crème or something.
They made them for guys now, didn't they? And it wasn't like anyone had to know he was turning into a girly-man if he kept the stuff locked away in his workshop.
'Gotta build a workshop!' he thought. 'All men need a workshop. Somewhere to hide out from the chicks, look at porn and… apply Oil of Olay to tired skin.'
How about facemasks? They'd be pretty easy, right? He'd seen Anya lathering them on about once a week when they'd lived together. He'd never bothered to watch the removal process though. Her smearing that definitely-not-avocado tasting (no matter what the box says) gunk on her face had been his cue to go watch the sports. Any sports, as long as it got him out of applying clear nail polish to her toenails.
What the hell was the point of clear nail polish anyway?
"Andy, do you think I'm starting to look old?" he asked the younger man sitting on his own bed on the other side of the room. "Be honest."
"No Xander, you don't look old, you just look a little…" Andrew hesitated, pulling at the loose red material covering his thighs. He was still in his spidey pyjamas. One of the cadet's had beaten him to the bathroom.
"Go on," Xander pushed him, not turning away from the mirror as he used a hand towel to dry his hair.
"Battle-worn?" Andrew hazarded. "Weighed down by the weight of the heroic burden that was placed on your shoulders at such a tender age…" He became aware that Xander had turned from the mirror to give him a death-glare. "Or maybe you just need a vacation."
Xander's frown fading, he threw the wet towel onto his bed and turned back to the mirror.
"Maybe you're right, but that's not gonna happen anytime soon. There's still the shower block to finish, 'my workshop to build', the dead-fall from the back track still needs clearing and now, thanks to the fire yesterday, I have a whole bedroom to repair and refurbish quick on the double, yes sir!" he saluted his reflection and then frowned again.
Some mornings he could swear it was his old man staring back at him and that was a truly, truly scary thought.
Andrew winced in sympathy. "Well maybe not a vacation then, just a change from the usual. Do something different to refresh and revitalise you for the repairing and refurbishing."
Andrew left his bed to go pick some clothes out of the wardrobe they shared. He wanted to look good which meant most of his clothes weren't suitable. He mildly cursed whichever cadet was in the shower right now. There was less than an hour before Peter, Rajiv, Anthony and Craig left for the airport and wanted to be there to see them off.
"Like what?" Xander asked, tightening the white fluffy towel around his waist before joining Andrew. He looked over the other man's shoulder for a plain t-shirt and his tan work pants. "We're not exactly living in metropolitan bliss out here. Barnies is as exciting as it gets and I go there nearly every night as it is. It's not like there's a lot of variety around to add spice to my life."
"Well it doesn't necessarily have to be a going out change, do something different around here that you haven't done before," Andrew suggested, turning in the space between the closet doors so he could look at Xander with that earnest eager puppy expression.
"Like what?" One side of Xander's mouth curled up as he asked, looking at Andrew now instead of the clothes hanging neatly behind him.
"Um?" Andrew seemed to have gone blank and Xander could practically hear his brain racing to try and come up with something else to say.
Xander saved him the bother.
Leaning forward to kiss the blonde gently on the lips, Xander's hands instantly went to Andrew's skinny hips, holding him steady as his mouth became more demanding. Andrew was perfectly pliable, his mouth opening to Xander without delay.
Hesitant at first, it wasn't long before Andrew was actively kissing back, pressing closer, his hands dampened by the shower-droplets still sliding down Xander's back and then his chest too as he bumped against Xander.
Xander's hard calloused fingers dug into the bare skin just above the loose waist band of his pyjamas. His thumbs rubbed circles into the dip of Andrew's hips drawing a moan from Andrew, who smooshed himself even closer. The towel tucked around Xander's waist began to tug free, slipping down and away, baring his ass until it was only still covering him where he was pressed against Andrew.
Suddenly, still kissing, Xander raised an eyebrow. Something was stirring beneath the Spiderman pants.
He grunted at it, trying to ignore it as he ran his hands up Andrew's arms to his shoulders, up his neck to his face, pulling him closer, dipping his tongue in deeper to Andrew's hot mouth.
It had been so long since he'd had this kind of closeness, this kind of intimacy.
This kind of… stubble burn?
He ran his palm over Andrew's cheek, rubbing it thoughtfully, causing Andrew to take more initiative with the kissing as his hand's slid into either side of Xander's wet hair; lightly tugging on his patch elastic.
Xander's other eyebrow shot up to join its pal. Something big was stirring in the Spidey pants.
"Gah!" He pulled away fast, staring at Andrew in shock.
Andrew looked equally as shocked, and a little scared and very turned on.
Xander couldn't help his eyes from falling to the Spiderman tent the younger man was sporting. "Gah!" he repeated, his eyes going even wider.
The towel that had been caught between them while they kissed stayed where it was even though Xander had moved backwards. He looked down at it, so did Andrew. It was hooked over…
"Holy…gah!" Xander winced and the towel finally started to slide away.
Xander grabbed the towel, covering himself back up. Andrew grabbed a hanger out of the closet behind him and held it at his waist, letting Xander's plain blue t-shirt cover the projection of his pants. He was trembling slightly.
"Okay, what in the seven hells just happened here?" Xander demanded, wild-eyed.