Title: The Xander You Know (1/?)
Author: Brooke
Disclaimer: Not mine. None of it. Mutant Enemy and
Joss and WB, UPN, all those other people own it. And I
got the transcript for the episode somewhere, too.
Just can't remember where.
Rating: NC-17
Summary: Rewrite time for "The Replacements", BX
style. Sequel to "Uncontrolable Urges".


Xander turned his gaze away from the TV and glanced
sidelong at Buffy where she sat on the other side of
the couch. He watched her for a couple of moments but
the Slayer didn't even glance up. He crossed his arms
over his chest and made sure to huff loud enough so
that she heard him - she still didn't look up.

Frustrated Xander turned his focus back to the TV and
shifted restlessly on his end of the couch where they
were reclined toe-to-head with his longer legs
confined to the much smaller back crease of the old
sofa. He lifted his left leg and dropped it heavily on
the other side of both of hers, now looking at her out
of the corner of his eye.

Buffy flicked her eyes up over the top of her text
book and regarded him for a moment. Xander was
pretending to be engrossed in the kung fu movie on the
screen, but was periodically looking discreetly back
at her to gauge her reactions. Buffy sighed when his
foot began rubbing up and down her thigh through the
fabric of her jeans and she looked around the edge of
the book and down at his leg. He was still pretending
to be watching the TV. "What are you doing?"

"Watching this." Xander responded distractedly while
gesturing to the TV with the remote in his hand.

"I meant with your leg?" Buffy's voice held a hint of
humor as he had yet to stop the movement with it
against her own.

"Foots asleep." He replied in a 'stating the obvious'
tone.

"Can your foot be asleep on the floor?" Buffy asked
and shifted her leg, kicking her boyfriend's off the
edge of the sofa.

Xander glared at her and Buffy smiled sweetly and
turned back to her text book. He lifted his leg again
and propped it back next to her. "Can you take a break
from the studying?" She shook her head at him. "C'mon
Buff. It's history. We won."

"The Crusades?" Buffy asked skeptically.

"Yeah, sure. We're America, we always win those
things." Xander shrugged indifferently. He nudged her
leg with his own and pouted - a move that at least
made her smile. That was the only opening that he
needed and he threw in a whine to lock it home. He
leant forward, keeping her legs a willing captive
between his own and pulled the book from her hands.
When he could see her expression he knew that she
wasn't angry, so much as pretending to be really
pissed. "Just come down here and spend time with your
boyfriend."

Buffy furrowed her brow at him and made a weak grab
for the book, but Xander, with a smile, held it out of
her reach and tossed it to the floor in front of the
TV. "I know you don't want to go get it," he teased
and Buffy narrowed her eyes.

"And guess what else I don't want to do?" Buffy dared.
"Climb all the way over there just to get to you."

Xander looked exaggeratedly affronted. "You weren't
saying last night." He winked when he saw Buffy's
demeanor falter. "You could hardly wait to get out of
that cemetery." Buffy blushed but Xander didn't let
up. "Giles even told us to leave before he had to hose
us down, but by us he meant you."

Buffy gulped and forced her expression to change from
embarrassed to innocently smug. "Well, lucky for you
that that's not the case today, isn't it?"

Xander slit his eyes at her sweet smile and dropped
his hand down to her calf. He traced a finger idly
over the denim covered skin there for a moment before
seizing it fully and tugging the Slayer down the couch
towards were he was still seated. "Maybe not for you."

Buffy licked her lips to fuel the fire behind his
salacious grin. "I've got homework..." her avowal broke
off into a fit of laughter as Xander pulled her fully
away from her end of the couch, in the process yanking
her legs apart and tugging her closer to him.

"Anybody ever tell you about a two-way street?" His
voice was heavy but good natured. He wrapped his arms
around her waist when she was close enough and with a
slight pressure against the small of her back, pushed
Buffy closer the arousal that was mounting in his lap.
He looked up at her through his eyelashes and fought
his urge to kiss the lip she was now biting above him
while her hands moved to his shoulders to brace her
self in his hold.

Buffy was the first to crack and her head tilted the
slightest bit when she lowered her lips to his. She
brushed them lightly over his mouth and pulled back
before Xander could deepen the kiss. "Wills and Oz are
coming over soon." She whispered. "Then we're going to
Giles' for patrol."

Xander tried to press forward again but Buffy pulled
back teasingly with a tiny shake of her head. His
voice would have been whiny if she hadn't just made it
go all husky. "That's got nothing to do with the next
six minutes."

Buffy's eyes were bright. "Does as far as I'm
concerned, marathon man." Her taunt was well received
since their first night together, even if it had been
brought about by a spell at the time, was easily
recalled by the both of them. They were both equally
aware of the prowess that the other possessed so it
was easy to tease when they weren't making each other
writhe and moan. "Plus," Buffy wriggled out of his
hold and slid back down to the end of his lap. Her
eyes flicked down to the slight bulging visible in his
loose khaki pants. "Your parents are going to be back
soon too."

Xander's lips pursed and he unconsciously turned his
eyes to the stairs that led to the upper part of the
house. He had made it a point to try to lock the
basement door. He figured he was paying rent, he
should get some sort of privacy, but his father had
quickly put an end to that. Now the basement door, not
only, had no lock, but his parents came in and out of
it as they pleased. It was one of the reasons that
Xander tried to limit any of his friends coming over
to when Tony and Jessica Harris were out.

He thought it was a little weird that they didn't seem
to bother Buffy so much as they did him. She would
come over whenever she pleased and had, countless
times over the past two months, been caught by his
mother and father just hanging out down there with
him. The elder Harris' had stopped paying attention to
her just as they had done Xander, and Buffy had only
ever offered a nod in their direction once. She had
the uncanny ability to block them out and go about her
business. Xander's biggest problem with that was that
it meant that Buffy wasn't as put off about coming to
his house as he would like.

Buffy shifted closer to him again, putting herself
almost completely back in his lap when she saw his
mood fall. That hadn't been her intention and she was
sorry her joking had taken that turn for him. She
reached out and traced his jaw with light fingertips
so that he turned his head to her. She smiled and
pressed forward, closing her lips over his in a wet
kiss, her tongue flicking into his mouth and against
his briefly before she pulled back.

Xander forced his darkened mood away and grinned. "I
hope you know that this isn't making me any less
horny."

Mission accomplished as far as Buffy was concerned.
Xander: Lord of the Joke, was back. "And I hope you
know that I'm still not going to have sex with you
right now."

"Let me be the first to thank you for that." Riley's
most unexpected voice entered the room and both Buffy
and Xander turned to see the soldier following Willow
through the side door.

"Forgot to lock that." Xander whispered to Buffy while
she pulled herself back out of his arms and slid down
to the floor. She settled herself so that she could
lean back and rest her head against the side of
Xander's stomach.

"Hi guys," Willow waved brightly at her friends and
they smiled back.

"How's it going?" Xander asked and swung his legs
around, forcing Buffy to duck his flailing appendages
with a roll of her eyes, and leaving her sitting
between them.

Riley shrugged. "Same ol, same ol." He headed over to
the couch behind the Wicca. "Wrapped up the study
group and Willow said that she was coming over to
watch movies and make with the relax." He turned to
Xander and sat down on the side of the couch that
Buffy had vacated. "Thanks for the invite."

"The more the merrier." Willow grinned and dropped
down to the floor next to Buffy. "...is what I said to
him on behalf of Xander. I mean...we were all going on
patrol tonight so I thought that we could all..."

"Not a problem." Buffy interrupted her best friend's
ramble and smiled at the awkwardly seated soldier. She
reached behind her and rubbed Xander's thigh back and
forth. "I told him the other day that he should charge
for the interactive Xander's life experience that
basement time is."

"Yeah," the Scooby nodded. "If you wanted to have the
luke warm dryer heated Spaghetti-O's its three bucks
extra."

"Hmm, dryer lunch." Riley bit his lip and pretended to
think the offer over. "I think I'm still full from
that Pop Tart I made on my desk lamp this morning. But
next time..." he tried to reassure and Xander shrugged.

"Where's the Wolfman?" Xander turned his question to
Willow, and Buffy elbowed him in the calf. "I thought
he was going to show and regale us with tales of the
seedy underbelly of rockband life."

Riley's eyes were fixed on the poorly dubbed and
re-colored movie on the screen. "And show up this?" he
asked sarcastically.

Buffy shook her head. "I told him this was cheesy.
Those guys aren't even connecting with those kicks."

"Oz is just going to meet us at Giles' place." Willow
said after a moment of silence. Both she and Xander
were at a loss about fighting techniques, so instead
of offering her critique of moves she would definitely
run from, she chose to address her best friend. "The
Dingoes are practicing for the show tonight at the
Bronze..."

"They practice?" Xander broke his casual stare at
Riley, who was as engrossed in the onscreen action as
Buffy. Willow was watching him and he cleared his
throat and grinned a little. "They always seemed more
ad lib."

"Oh come on!" Riley exclaimed and pointed at the
screen. "You can't just go into a kick like that from
a complete stand still. You'dve been taken out like
four times by then!"

Buffy nodded enthusiastically. "That flying kick was
totally contrived. You want to take out those little
guys first and then BAM flying kick to the midsection
of that big guy." She pointed at the screen. "It's
almost sad that the best part of this movie is the
dialogue."

Willow bit her lip a little nervously while watching
Xander's face set discreetly in stone. "Well," she
laughed a little, silently debating her decision to
invite Riley. It wasn't that he and Xander didn't get
along, so much as there was more awkward silences than
when they weren't together. "Practice includes a lot
of Cheetos and other cheese byproducts."

"Now you really want to join a band, huh Xan?" Buffy
set Xander with a soft smile when she craned her face
up to see him. She reached behind her slightly and
rubbed his calf through his jeans, "Or at least be a
groupie."

"Hey," his smile was genuine, "I don't need to buy a
guitar to eat cheese poofs." He cracked his fingers
and let both of his hands fall to Buffy's shoulders,
rubbing with a tiny amount of pressure. "Plus, I've
already got a harem of really hot girls who follow me,
and I got 'em doin nothing." He nodded proudly towards
Riley, simply because he was the only other male in
the room while both of the females rolled their eyes.
"I'll teach you how some time."

"Does it involve magic?" Riley asked semi-seriously.
He shifted in his seat and tried not to focus on Buffy
while Xander was rubbing her shoulders. He was still
somewhat bitter about them being together, and had
narrowed it down to a combination of his not acting
fast enough and living in a haunted frat house. If the
Initiative had such great technology, then how come
nobody knew that there were spiritual sex fiends
waiting to possess college kids and be set free? That
should have been top on the list of things to inspect
for when they were looking for the house in the first
place. And now, because it wasn't, he was sitting in
this basement, with people who were, despite
everything, his friends, and watching Buffy's face -
eyes all closed and mouth partially opened with her
golden hair flowing down her shoulders...if he
concentrated he could hear slight high pitched hitches
in her breathing...while she enjoyed that guy's touch.

"Only a little." Xander admitted slyly with a nod.

"Mmm...That feels so good," Buffy sighed and settled
further into Xander's hands behind her. "Almost makes
up for your bad taste in film."

Xander grinned crookedly even though she couldn't see
him. "Kung-fu flicks are our most valuable Chinese
import." He stopped his massage to gesture to the
screen. "You can't learn moves like that on the
street, missy."

"The rubbing stopped." Buffy pushed back between the
cradle of his legs further and whined a little. She
accepted Xander's apology by way of his resuming his
actions.

"What about the food?" The soldier asked from beside
him.

"And the food," Xander conceded the point.

"And the technology?" Willow asked over her shoulder,
enjoying the only partially uneasy levity. "You
wouldn't have that fancy-shamcy hot plate without it."

"And forget that washer-dryer combo," Buffy grinned.

Xander huffed but he kept rubbing Buffy's shoulders,
his hands moving as if of their own accord. "You two
and your high-falooting book learning too good for my
humble abode?" He sighed at the silence and looked
around his basement room. It was pretty crappy, he
thought, just barely able to make out the sound of the
front door slamming shut above him. No, the basement
wasn't crappy...it was Hell. Hell on earth. "Well, I say
out with ya," he gulped and joked weakly.

Riley chuckled a little at the pirate like accent
Xander had used when he spoke, but then when he heard
yelling from upstairs his smile died.

"Hey," Xander looked nervously at him while both Buffy
and Willow concentrated on the TV. "I mean, you never
know. They might have an opening in a one bedroom in
Hell." He shrugged and squeezed Buffy's shoulder to
get her attention. "You've been. See any flyers?"

"It'll be fine, Xander," Buffy sounded distracted and
rocked her head to the side to rest on the top of his
hand.

"Yeah," Willow smiled up comfortingly despite her
friend's despondent expression. A particularly loud
thump preceded a chunk of plaster breaking free from
the ceiling and dusting down over them. "You'll get a
place..." Willow sounded perkily reassuring. "We'll all
help. Ooh! We'll look on campus, right Buff? And
Riley," she turned, "You know tons of people who might
be looking for a roommate, right?"

Buffy leaned up out of Xander's reach, her eyes locked
on the screen while she, seemingly without conscious
thought or mention, brushed the ceiling dust from her
jeans. "YEAH RIGHT!" She jabbed a finger towards the
screen. "Tell me you didn't just see that! There's no
way you can land a back flip off a hollow wall, for
one. And even if you did, you couldn't go directly
into a spin kick! That's how you dislocate things..."
The Slayer looked around the room for support, only
receiving a nod from Riley, and the glanced back over
her shoulder to see Xander. "Did you just see that,
hun?"

"Huh?" He shook his head from where he was watching
the steps. It would just be his luck that one or both
of his drunkard parents would stumble down... "Oh
yeah...drywall."

Buffy shook off her boyfriend's less than attentive
response and turned to Willow. "And you," she
challenged, her voice picking up a more good natured
tone. "You were going off the other night when we
watched that witch movie..."

"Hocus Pocus?" Riley recalled, his brow furrowed and
he sounded skeptical about the validity of using a
Disney movie for the purposes of an argument.

"Yes, 'Mr. In the Army Now isn't a realistic depiction
of desert warfare'," the Slayer challenged
caustically. She grinned when the soldier abandoned
his argument and sat back against the cushions
dejectedly. She turned her attention back to Willow,
"You're all 'Nobody has a black cat' and 'What is
that? A cauldron? Nobody uses a cauldron anymore."

"Yeah," Xander settled awkwardly back into the
conversation. "That was verbatim, Wills. Sorry."

Willow huffed while Buffy and Xander basked silently
in their conversational victory over the other
occupants in the room. If any two people ever had to
win, it was those two people. "Well it's true," the
Wicca added to not let them get the last word. "Only
yuppie poseur witches use cauldrons..."

--At the same time--

Demons did this all the time. It was their sole
purpose of living...the only reason they came to this
wretched town in the first place. It was a matter of
prestige. The right to climb to the top of the
mountain top and proclaim to all those who were
reaping havoc below: "I ENDED THE SLAYER! THE ONE WHO
WOULD NOT FALL!"

Toth was no different. He wanted to glory and he
wanted her blood.

He retrieved his gift from his satchel and with a
maniacal grin that was concealed by his heavy cloak
approached his cauldron. He peered down into the
bubbling yellow liquid and pulled back his hood,
raising the thick chrome wand to the sky.

"This," Toth's voice boomed in the cavern. He bit his
cracked lip in a pain he would not vocalize and forced
his hand and the rod into the liquid. "The last step
in thy forging is my pain..." his voice choked while his
skin sizzled. "The price with which I purchase the
death...of the Slayer."

The only sound he could hear in the room was the
bubbling in the pot and a scream forced its way up and
out of his raw throat. He could handle the pain for
the burn, but the agony that ripped through him as his
gift was accepted and the power filled him...he couldn't
contain it.

--The Magic Box--

Grand opening was right around the corner. Thursday,
in fact, and this was to be one of the last nights
that Rupert Giles would be able to enjoy the silent
solitude of his brand new investment. Well, almost one
of the last nights. The children would be there in a
few minutes and that was likely ruin the peaceful
ambiance that he had established for himself.

Giles had just cut open another box carefully and
pulled out the top most object for examination when it
happened. He didn't even see anything coming, but all
the same the front door to the shop burst open and
almost of the hinges. Scooping up the box in sheer
panic, he turned to face the intruder...a...a something he
had never seen before, that was for sure.

It towered over him, cloak bellowing even in the still
air of the room, its face a mass of hideous thick
dangling skin with fangs snarling from its thin
cracked lips.

Giles' eyes went wide as the creature pointed the
object it had in its hand squarely at his chest, its
voice a roaring boom. "You are not the slayer."

That gruff exclamation broke Giles' concentration and
he reached into the box with one hand, grabbing an
object for defense and holding it up to the demon he
was facing... "Wait," he said when he saw the thing he
was holding in his shaking hand. "Blasted rabbits fo..."
He was cut off when the demon smacked the box out of
his hand. The Watcher thanked his years of training
and preparation as he was able to pounce back from
another attack from his foe, now grabbing for an
object he saw out of the corner of his eye on the
table behind him. His hand curled around a solid heavy
wooden statue, a sufficient weapon he settled and
swung it out at the creature.

His blow was dodged and the demons laugh was as harsh
and bone chilling as its voice. "That is a fertility
god, feeble man." The Watcher continued to hold the
object to keep his antagonist at bay and hoped a look
of dismay didn't cross his features. "You will not
distract me with..."

The conversational fighting tactic that the demon
seemed so well versed at left him open and unprepared
for Giles' attack. He was proud of himself when he saw
the large beast lumber back in shock and, he imagined
a little bit of pain, and he swung again. Having Buffy
actually show up on time would have been a useful
blessing, but some prayers weren't to be answered. He
was holding his own fine with out slayer strength or
speed. He had his uncanny mastery of hand to hand
combat to fall back on...

Giles set himself up for another hard swing, but this
time his opponent seemed to see it coming. The Watcher
had been unprepared for the hard two handed blow to
his chest that sent him flying back into a pile of
already unpacked boxes, leaving him sprawled on the
floor while the demon hunkered over him.

The large rod in the creature's calloused hand was
pointed at his chest again but Giles refused to show
his fear. "The slayer is not here," the demon barked,
jabbing the stick forward but not connecting with his
prone body. "You do not concern me."

His jaw was shaking when the demon turned on its heel,
cloak flailing out behind him and strode purposefully
to the door. He hoped that Buffy wasn't just around
the corner...that she was staying in character and
hadn't even left her home yet, even though she was to
be at the shop fifteen minutes ago. Giles groaned and
let his head fall back against the boxes, silently
preparing himself for this weeks monster...

"Was all that stuff about me being late really
necessary, Giles?" Buffy sounded offended from her
seat on the floor. She looked to Willow, who was
seated next to her and then to Xander, Riley and Oz
who were all surrounding Giles, for support. "I got
here on time tonight."

"The movie went off at 7:45," Riley piped in. He
wasn't even glancing at her as he stood with his arms
folded over his chest and watched Giles demonstrate
his fight with the demon with the statue in hand. "You
said that Giles wanted us here at 8 and that's when we
left Xander's."

Buffy pouted again and Willow nodded beside her. "I
still don't think it needed to be part of the
harrowing tale."

"I think it shows a heroic line of thought. Protect
his charge." Oz nodded a little to Giles. The Watcher
stopped mid swing and let loose a pride filled smirk,
his chest puffed out a little. "I say kudos." The
musician clapped his hands together and the other two
men joined in, all surrounding the older man with
applause.

The slayer frowned and flipped the page of the book
she was holding in her lap dejectedly while waiting
pointedly for somebody to back her, but it didn't seem
to be coming. She felt Willow's wide worried eyes on
the side of her face while she fixed her own gaze with
Xander.

Willow eyed her dark haired friend as he as he took
the statue that Riley handed him and tried his hand at
swinging it the way Giles had described, both watching
with rapt fascination while imitating Giles' earlier
display. "Well," she finally piped up and smiled
sympathetically at the blond next to her, "I think it
was a total embellishment. A fabrication." Buffy still
looked skeptical. "You're never late," the redhead
insisted. "Hardly."

"Thank you," Buffy said gratefully, and loudly enough
for the male occupants of the room to hear, but none
turned to look at her. "Willow."

"Oh, no problem." She beamed again, happy that her
support helped a little. She turned back to the guys
and saw Oz passing the statue back to Xander again,
the latter seeming like an unhappy child with empty
hands. Buffy shook her head at her boyfriend's wide
smile while he swung the statue like a bat again, this
time pretending to hit Riley who turned dramatically
with the mock blow.

Buffy pushed herself up with one hand and kept the
book open with the other, meandering over to where
Xander was standing while still glancing in her book.
When she reached his side she halted his next 'hit'
with one hand on his wrist and he pouted. "Stop that,"
she took it from his hand with only minor protest.

"It's heavy," Xander pointed out and Riley, Oz, and
Giles nodded. "It's like lead."

"Wood," Giles stated as if he had crafted the statue
himself.

"It's Oofdar," Willow said, still from her seat on the
floor. Everybody turned to look at her, but she was
still looking at the book in her lap. Oz quirked his
eyebrow and left the main group, heading for his
girlfriend.

"The goddess of childbirth."

All eyes locked on the stoic bassist while he sat down
next to his girlfriend who smiled at him. Oz shrugged
as Willow laid her head on his shoulder by way of
showing her praise and they both ignored the looks
that they were receiving. "What?" she asked finally at
her slack jawed and silent friends. "He knows stuff
too." Oz nodded from her side.

"You should go on Jeopardy." Riley said with a shake
of his head.

"Gimme that," Xander frowned and plucked the statue
from Buffy's hand quickly. He handed it back to Giles,
ignoring her smirk, and wiped his hands on the sleeve
of Riley's t-shirt. "Go wash your hands," he said
urgently to Buffy as if it were the next logical step.

Buffy rolled her eyes with an exasperated sigh while
Riley shifted away from Xander. Taking a deep breath
she turned to Giles, "So...where'd it go? He's hurt
right?"

His pride filled demeanor faltered when asked for the
assessment of total damage done. "Well..." he stuttered,
"...um...hurt?" He pursed his lips and furrowed his brow
as if deep in thought. "I...I wouldn't say hurt..." He
grinned halfway at Buffy's look of disbelief.

Willow bit her lip and shrugged, standing to her feet
and joining the group with Oz trailing a step behind.
"I...I'm sure he was, y'know...startled."

Giles nodded enthusiastically at her hopeful
suggestion. "Uh, yes, yes," he sputtered and held his
head up high, but still didn't meet the Slayer's eyes.
"I'd imagine it gave him, uh, rather a turn."

Buffy saw Xander nodding out of the corner of her eye
and shook her head with a grin. She sighed again and
leant into Xander's shoulder, fitting herself against
him so that he hand to put his arm over her shoulder,
and peered up at her Watcher. Her smile held a tinge
of innocent teasing, "He ran away, huh?"

Giles frowned again and his forehead creased while he
crossed his arms over his chest. "Um, sort of more ...
uh ... turned and swept out majestically, I suppose.
He said I didn't concern him."

She nodded again, "So a mythic triumph over a
completely indifferent foe?"

Giles huffed out an affronted breath and set his
shoulders, "Well, I'm not dead or unconscious."

The clapping started again between the other men, this
time initiated by Riley. "Bravo," he said sincerely
and bowed slightly towards the older man. "You
defended Buffy," he pointed out again, "...and your
store."

"Deathtrap." Xander pretended to cough into his hand.
He looked around innocently when Buffy kicked him in
the foot with hers from the side. "I'm just saying..."

"Well," Oz shrugged, crossing behind Willow and taking
the book from Buffy's hand. He glanced down at the
page she had been reading. "Fighting monsters for us
is like christening." He looked around for nods of
agreement which only came readily from Riley. "I
haven't been to one place in this whole town that
hasn't been a field of combat...and we're all still
alive."

Riley pointed an enthusiastic finger at the shorter
man. "Luck." He only received a slight head tilt of
agreement.

"Being attacked is luck now?" Xander raised a
skeptical eyebrow and Buffy elbowed him in the side
when she saw Giles frown. "Look," he shifted her
precariously from under his arm and scowled, grabbing
his side. "I've christened things before that haven't
ever resulted in demons trying to bash my head in..."

"Like my closet door two days ago when I forgot I had
to knock before entering my own room," Willow stated
matter of factly. She grinned on the inside at Buffy's
immediate blush and the stern look Xander attempted to
send her.

"Just like that," Xander huffed out. He tried to smile
gamely, but Giles was pinching the bridge of his nose
and Riley was wincing and a little flushed too. "And
it wasn't my idea," he added adamantly. "You should
talk to your roommate..."

"Xander," Buffy bit out harshly and punched him in the
shoulder.

"OW," he annunciated, now grabbing his arm and turning
to glare at her.

"If we can just change the subje..."

"Toth," Oz shrugged and handed the book he was
holding, page marked, to his girlfriend.

"What?" Xander's pretend pained look turned into real
confusion.

"He called you a Toth," his girlfriend filled in from
his side, sounding the world certain. He still looked
at her like he didn't understand. "It's an ancient
expression for, like, moron."

Xander's lip turned up at her bright condescending
looking smile and he ignored Riley's snickers at his
expense. "Well then, you're the toth," he glared at
Buffy, "You were the one looking in that book since we
got here. You didn't see that in there..."

Giles had let their bickering run into a hum in the
back of his mind. He crossed behind the teens and
glanced over Willow's shoulder, reading the passage
below the sketch drawing of the thing that had
attacked him earlier. "Toth is the name of the demon,"
he filled in distractedly. He finally just lifted to
book from the girl's hands and glanced up to find
Buffy and Xander having some sort of staring/head
tilting contest. "Children?" he waved one hand in
their direction and they both pouted and looked down.
"It's an ancient demon. Very strong. Last survivor of
the Tothric clan," he turned back to the book and
read. "It also says that for a demon he's unusually
sophisticated."

"Sophisticated?" Riley grunted out a chuckle from his
new position leaning back against the counter. He had
made his way away from the group when he had noticed
that once Giles' had reprimanded them, Xander had
taken a step closer to Buffy, who, in turn, had leant
back against him, and now everything was happy and
touchy again. That required distance on his part...and
made him wonder why he hung out with two couples at
the same time voluntarily. "So, uh, Buff...what do you
know about mens fashion you can talk about before you
slice and dice?"

Buffy quirked a smile of her own and grabbed the arm
that Xander hadn't already wrapped around her waist to
pull it in place. When she felt she was secure against
him she felt his face press into her hair and she
rocked slightly against him. "Not a thing," she
shrugged. "This guy," she hugged her herself with
Xander's arms, "I still let him get away with wearing
purple pants."

"Those are scrubs, honey," Xander bent his head and
bit out in her ear.

Buffy made no move to pull away or release her hold on
his arms, "Yes, sweetie, but you wear them in public."

"They're comfortable, pookie," Xander rolled his eyes.
"I don't criticize you when you wear that pink thing
with the straps and the dog on it."

"I don't wear that," Buffy looked offended.

"It was in a box marked 'Buffy's clothes'."

"You saw that when we were sixteen and it was in the
basement because it was from third grade," she looked
at him pointedly over her shoulder, daring him to
refute her avowal. She smiled when none came and he
hugged her back against him tighter for a second,
pressing his pout into her ear. She grinned wider when
he whispered 'You're dumped' against her neck and
followed it with a light kiss.

"They're referring to the fact that he does not fight
bare-handed." Giles chose to ignore the couple and
address, a more than willing to listen, Riley. "He
uses tools, devices. Oh, he's also supposed to be very
focused. And since he mentioned the slayer, I think we
know what the focus is."

"He mentioned Buffy?" Xander perked up again. His
voice sounded more commanding suddenly and he faced
Giles seriously, but didn't release the slayer. "Get
your men," he gestured to Riley, "We've got a Toth to
kill and kill hard." The other man stood up straighter
too and nodded to Xander.

"Now, hold on," Giles held up both hands in attempts
to cool some of the adrenaline and testosterone fueled
battle he could see forming. "We don't even know where
he went..."

"Or what he wants Buffy for," Willow added. "I think,"
she continued before Giles could, "That if Riley just
took the info back to the Initiative and put them on
alert we could have two forces out looking tonight."

Giles looked proudly at the other girl, but looked
away when her boyfriend grabbed her hand. That did
seem like a decent plan. Toth would obviously be
expecting the Slayer to start the hunt, but would
likely be unprepared for the covert forces that
Riley's organization would bring. "Riley," he handed
the book over to the other man. "Show this to your
people, gather what information you can." He watched
the soldier's bravado deflate as the ass-kicking
mission turned into fact finding. "You four," he
addressed the Slayer and her other friends. "You're to
be on the look out tonight during patrol, yes." They
all nodded.

"So aside from looking like a Texas Chainsaw Massacre
reject, is there anyplace this thing should be?" Oz
asked in a monotone.

Giles seemed to think for a second, and then winced
from the memory alone. "There was something," his
mouth turned up in disgust. "There was
a...distinct...olfactory presence."

"I guess it's off to the old factory then," Xander
nodded sadly from behind Buffy. Her neck craned up to
see the serious expression on his face and all eyes
turned to him and his eyes widened in defense.
"Joking," he insisted. "Means he smells..."

"Toth," Buffy smirked under her breath.


The End Part 1