Title: Distraction Tactics
Warnings: Slash, established relationships,
Pairings: Spike/Xander, Willow/Tara, Buffy/Angel, slight Cordy/Xander
Disclaimer: I don't own Buffy or its characters.
Summary: It's a standard war tactic; keep the enemy occupied elsewhere in order to allow the true attack an easy win. In an attempt to get the Slayer's gang out of his way for a takeover, the newest Big Bad makes a mistake.
Chapter #2: The Other Side
Buffy woke up with a headache; a headache that was not helped any by the rather loud "What the hell?" that had woken her up. Groaning softly, she sat up and looked around.
Once she had realized where she was, she inwardly agreed that the 'What the hell?' sentiment was right. This was not Spike and Xander's apartment.
Behind her, she heard Giles' voice--"Was that really quite necessary, Xander?"—and turned to look as Xander answered, "Yes. Yes it was."
A really young Xander.
A skinnier, shorter Xander with short hair and a really ugly Hawaiian t-shirt.
Buffy had gotten used to a tall and muscular Xander wearing Spike-approved clothing, so seeing him like this was just weird. And she bet that she and Willow had also become younger and that was weird too.
Well on her way to a minor freak-out, Buffy was interrupted by the sound of a soft voice. "Are we there yet?"
Buffy turned to find Willow lying nearby, slowly opening her eyes and sitting up. And Buffy had been right. She was young. Long hair and all.
"Yeah, we're here." Buffy gave a weak smile. "Wild trip, huh?"
Willow looked over at the sound of Buffy's voice, and, seeing her, paused. "You look different."
"You mean young?"
Willow nodded slowly, "Yeah . . ."
Buffy shrugged, acting as casual as she could. "Yeah, well, look at Xander. Look at the room."
"The room . . ?" Taking in the books, the tables, the space, Willow's eyes widened. "Oh my Goddess." She turned quickly back to Buffy and said quietly. "We're . . ?"
"That spell . . . it . . ."
Giles had finally noticed the two girls sitting up and talking quietly. So, turning off the flashlight he had been using to check Xander for a concussion, he made his way to their side. "And how are you two feeling?"
They both gave him a nervous smile and told him they felt fine.
"Are you sure?"
Buffy nodded, "Yep. We're doing great. I mean I have a headache, but other than that, total greatness."
"Yes, of course," Giles said, "But if could check . . . ?" gesturing at her eyes and Buffy nodded.
As Giles shined the flashlight in each of their eyes, Xander walked over, beginning to get impatient.
"So do you know what happened?"
Giles, assuming that Xander was asking him, became flustered and said as he stepped away from Willow, "Oh, er, well, no, I—
And Buffy's answer didn't help. '"You mean besides the obvious?"
"What?" Giles looked over at Buffy then turned to look at Xander when he continued.
"I mean, did what I think happen, really happen, or is this some kind of weird hallucination or dream-world, in which case we should be prepared for the huge and almost unstoppable demon which will be charging in here at any moment?"
"Excuse me?" Now Giles was confused.
Willow kicked her legs and looked down, ignoring Giles to answer Xander. "I think what you think is happening is really happening."
"How can you tell?" Buffy asked, tugging at her mini-skirt. She didn't remember wearing her skirts this short.
"Well, for one thing, we aren't trying to kill each other," Willow answered, "Plus, if it was a dream-world, there would be more latent energy, and, if it were a hallucination, I don't think it would be this calm. Or make this much sense."
"This makes sense?" Xander asked.
Frustrated now, Giles frowned. "Pardon me. But are you saying that you know what happened?"
The three teens shared an uncomfortable look as Buffy and Xander seemed to turn to Willow for help.
"Do we tell him?" Buffy asked.
Willow looked unsure. "I don't know. Wouldn't it hurt," she gave the two a significant look, "you know . . . stuff?"
"Well, we kinda have to, don't we?" Xander asked, "I mean, we'll need him to help us."
Buffy shook her head. "We can research it on our own. It can't be too hard." Then, looking unsure, she turned to Willow again. "Can it?"
Xander shook his head in return. "It doesn't matter. We'll need to use the library and he's in the library."
"We can work around that." Buffy shot back and looked ready to describe exactly how they could do so when she was interrupted by Willow and another significant look.
"And we've been talking right in front of him, so I think he's already suspicious."
Buffy and Xander, a little embarrassed, turned to find Giles watching the discussion with a curiously amused look on his face.
Buffy gave a quiet, "Oops."
Giles just smiled a little. "Yes, quite."
"So let me get this straight. You're from the future."
Buffy nodded. "Yeah."
"But you still look the same as you always have at this time."
"Exactly," Willow said.
"And all of this," waving a hand in a vague gesture to encompass the situation, "happened in the last five minutes?"
"I know," Xander said, smiling. "Wild, huh?"
"Yes," Giles said, taking off his glasses and rubbing his eyes wearily, "Wild."
"There was a spell," Willow began seriously, frowning to herself as she remembered, "I don't quite remember what it was, but I remember there being something strange about it. Like it was almost twisted in a way."
Giles looked up, seeming a little surprised as he put his glasses back on. "You are able to tell the differences in casting just by feel?"
Willow blushed and looked down at her lap modestly. "A little. Tara's the one who's really good at it."
"Tara?" Giles asked, looking curious.
"Yeah, she's my, um . . ." About to tell him the truth, Willow seemed to remember where and when she was and finished with, "She's just someone we know."
Giles nodded, understanding. "Right."
"So do you think this can be fixed?" Xander asked, "'Cuz I kinda have work tomorrow and this, you know, makes that a little difficult."
"Hey, I have school," Buffy said to no one, blinking as she remembered. She turned to Giles. "We don't have to get this fixed too quickly, you know. We don't want to rush you. If there's something else that you were doing, we can wait."
Xander frowned at her. "We have to go to school here too, you know. And I don't know about you but I'm not exactly looking forward to repeating high school again. I still have nightmares from the first time around."
"And I'm afraid that there aren't any major crises that need to be attended to as of right now," Giles said, turning to her calmly, "Just the usual demon activity."
Buffy brightened at the news. "Anything you need me to kill?"
Giles gave her a strange look at her enthusiasm.
"I mean slay," Buffy hurried to correct herself. "Anything you need me to slay?" she asked, her enthusiasm not curbed in the least.
"Well there is one thing . . ." Giles began, obviously not completely sure he should give her the assignment. "A Norck'insanji demon has recently taken up residence in the old theatre house. I'm afraid it's been eating the old ladies who go there."
"Okay, good," Buffy nodded, jumping down from her seat on the table. "I'll go do that. You guys get to the books."
"Um . . . Buff?" Xander said, smirking good-naturedly. Spike's influence probably. "Don't you think you should ask how you kill it?"
At this, Buffy started to look a little unsure. "It's not something nasty, is it?" She turned to Giles, looking for reassurance. "Tell me it's not something nasty."
"Well," Giles cleared his throat, not saying anything.
"It's something nasty?" Buffy asked, voice dismayed.
"It's goat urine, actually," Giles told her.
"Goat pee? Eww." Buffy closed her eyes and shook her hands like she was trying to get something off of them, totally grossed out. "Why does it always have to be something totally gross? Can't it ever be something normal?"
"Goat urine is a standard— Giles started.
"Yeah." Buffy interrupted, opening her eyes with one last grossed out flick of her wrist, "Don't care. Just give me my goat pee and I'll be gone."
"Well, I don't exactly have any on me at the moment. We'll need to go the magic shop."
"The magic— " Buffy started, then looked enlightened, "Oh yeah. You don't own that here."
"Buffy," Willow hissed in warning, not wanting Buffy to give away future events lest it affect the timeline.
"What?" Giles asked, confused.
"Buffy," Willow said again, "Buffy, don't."
"What was that?" Giles asked, looking curious.
"Nothing," Getting Willow's warning, Buffy widened her eyes to show her sincerity. "I didn't say anything." Xander snickered and, not looking away from Giles, Buffy quickly punched him, careful not to use her full strength.
"Ow," Xander said, holding his shoulder and giving Buffy a dirty look. "That hurt. I'm gonna tell Spike you hit me."
Giles caught that and looked even more confused. "Spike?"
"Xander," Willow hissed. "Xander, be quiet."
Xander looked at Willow, not seeming to get why she was hissing at him, but then the knowledge seemed to come to him and he turned to Giles, eyes wide. "What? Spike?"
Giles frowned. "Didn't you say Spike?"
"No." Xander shook his head, eyes wide to show his sincerity. "No. I didn't say anything. You must be hearing things."
Giles didn't look convinced. "No. I heard you quite clearly. You said you would tell Spike that Buffy hit you. Is that someone else you know?"
"No. No." Xander wildly shook his head, eyes wide. "I mean," Xander changed his mind, deciding to go a different way, "I mean, yes. Yes. Someone else. Someone else you don't know. Definitely not the vampire. You meet him years from now. Forget I ever mentioned him."
Willow closed her eyes and put a hand over her face, unable to look anymore after Xander's horrible lie. If anything, Buffy's eyes widened even more, some part of her thinking that maybe that would make the lie more believable.
"Yes . . ." Giles was starting to look suspicious, feet slowly inching him towards the check-out desk, hand creeping over to where he kept a cross underneath the piles of books.
"Xander," was all Willow said, looking up at again and regarding her best friend reproachfully.
Xander turned to her, looking apologetic. "Sorry."
"You've gotten Giles all suspicious of us," Willow said, throwing a hand in the direction of the man, who was still trying to be sneaky and inching ever closer to his desk. "He probably thinks we're evil now."
Xander looked even sorrier. "I didn't mean to. It just slipped out."
Meanwhile, Giles had gotten to his desk and discretely handled his cross, bringing it behind his back. "Now I don't know who all of you are, but you certainly aren't who you say you are."
Buffy looked hurt. "Giles. It's still us."
Giles glared at her. "The Buffy I know wouldn't associate with those that associate with vampires." He glared in Xander's direction to show just who he meant by that.
Xander didn't like that and frowned. "The Buffy you know dated a vampire. She fell in love with a vampire. Just because I'm not the Slayer, does that mean I can't do the same?"
"You . . ." Giles cut himself off, strangled by his own shock, eyes wide. Visibly shaking it off, he got himself under control and went back to glaring. "Now I know you aren't who you say you are. The Xander I know is quite heterosexual and against vampires."
"Yeah, well, I get over the vampire-thing and I'm really not quite as straight as you think. I remember I had this one fantasy in high school about—
"Xander!" Willow hissed irritably, carefully getting off the table, "Now is really not the time."
Mouth still open to talk, Xander looked at her then seemed to get what she meant and closed his mouth with a snap. "Right," he said, looking a little embarrassed. "Sorry."
"And we can prove to you that we're telling the truth," Buffy said, getting them back on track as she looked to her Watcher earnestly.
Giles still looked suspicious. "And how exactly are you going to do that? All vampires share the memories of the host body completely. There is nothing they wouldn't know."
Realizing he was right, Buffy looked disappointed. "Oh. Right."
"Maybe . . . a truth spell?" Willow suggested hesitantly, coming into the conversation.
Giles turned to her with narrow eyes. "You would willingly submit yourself to such a spell?"
Willow nodded seriously. "I would."
"Me too," Buffy said brightly.
"I wouldn't," Xander said, shaking his head and holding his hands up as he backed away a step. "There are really just some things that you do not need to know about me."
Giles frowned and turned his cross on Xander suspiciously.
"Xander," Willow said reproachfully. "You're making him suspicious again."
"So? Let him be suspicious. You are not putting that spell on me. Shouldn't it be enough that you two are doing it?" Xander asked, frowning at Willow, "I mean, you would know if I was evil or not, wouldn't you?"
"You are the one who's affiliated with Spike," Giles said with narrow eyes. "As far as I know, they are not and so it really is imperative that you undergo the spell as well." He moved the cross a little closer to Xander as he continued, "Unless you have something to hide, of course."
"I'm not hiding anything!" Xander protested, "I just really prefer to keep my sex life a secret and you know you're gonna ask about Spike!"
"Er, yes." Giles looked like he had stepped in something foul. "Well, I promise to, ah, refrain from asking any questions that may relate to your . . ." Obviously this part was a little hard for Giles to say, "your sex life," he was finally able to finish.
At this, Xander sighed. "Fine. Fine," he said, waving his hands in defeat. "I'll do the stupid spell."
"Good," Giles said and backed away, carefully keeping them in sight. "Then I should have the supplies in my office. Why don't you three just, ah, just stay here while I go prepare."
Xander put his hands up to show defeat again and leaned back against the table. Willow put on a smile and tried to look as unthreatening as possible as she hopped back up to sit on the table, Buffy following her example next to her.
They settled in to wait.