Title: Last Train Leaving Wonderland
Author: Lizbeth Marcs
Summary: Xander's got a plan, but life keeps interfering.
Genre: Future fic, dark fic
Series: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Characters: Xander, Faith, Giles, Buffy, original characters
Warnings: Multiple deaths (no canon characters), violence, smut, discussion of child rape and drug use, adult language and themes, vague spoilers for all of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and one for Angel the Series (Xander going to Africa post-'Chosen')
Author's Notes: Written for the annual Lynnevitational on LiveJournal. Takes place in November 2008 (in short, post-'Chosen'). All related comics are willfully and cheerfully ignored.
Disclaimer: Xander Harris, Faith Lehane, Rupert Giles, Buffy Summers and all associated characters and organizations are the property of FOX and Mutant Enemy. Any mention of real life events and real people is not meant to imply that the people or incidents in question as they are used in the story have any relationship to reality. All original characters and the plot are mine. No payment was asked for or received in the writing of this story and no profit was earned. No copyright infringement on FOX or Mutant Enemy is intended.
Never imagine yourself not to be otherwise than what it might appear to others that what you were or might have been was not otherwise than what you had been would have appeared to them to be otherwise. — from Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
"I hate waiting."
"That's because you have the patience of a 5-year-old."
Faith's eyes narrowed as she frowned at Xander. "This from the guy who loses his shit if the coffee baristas are too slow."
Xander shot her a cheeky grin as he flopped backwards onto the gritty sand. His leather jacket creaked as he lifted his arms to put his hands behind his head. "Okay, I admit to having a severe lack of patience when it comes to the greasy kid stuff."
"Good. That means I don't have to bring up the shit that went down in Providence."
Xander ignored her. "But when it comes to the big, blow-your-mind scheme? I have enough patience to wait until the sun grows cold. One year and the clock's still ticking, baby."
Faith snorted and joined him in lying back on the sand with her hands behind her head to stare up at the stars.
There was a beat of silence.
"I know you've got some devastating comeback on the tip of that knife-like tongue of yours," Xander cheerfully remarked. "So, c'mon. Let me have it. Don't let me being your daddy hold you back."
Faith rolled her eyes. "If you're really my daddy, then what we did back at the hotel room was illegal, immoral, and disgusting."
"Please don't even try telling me the idea bothers you."
Faith grinned up at the stars. "Actually, the idea gets me hot. Very hot."
Xander could hear the happy sound in Faith's voice and he, too, joined her in grinning up at the stars. He mentally filed away the information for future reference so he'd be able to employ it in a big way at a later date. "Daddy-kink, hunh? I guess I should've pegged you for that."
Faith responded, "More like the daddies have a real schoolgirl kink, I gotta admit, though, some good clean family fun played the right way could make this girl wet."
Xander smoothly rolled onto his side, and propped his head up with elbow firmly planted in the sand while precariously balancing his right cheek on his fist. "Are you never not wet?" he asked with a wolfish grin. "I was pretty sure I wore you out."
"Since when does the 5 minutes it takes until you pop off wear anyone out?" Faith asked. "Unless we're talking about you. It's all rush-rush-rush like a kid on a sugar high for a few crazy minutes, then you fall asleep. Only way I get off is if I finish the job myself."
"Ooooo, burn. But you're waaaaay too late. If you wanted that to sting, you should've said that right after I told you that I have enough patience to wait until the sun grows cold when it comes to things that matter." Xander's grin got distinctly more predatory. "Which I guess means you don't matter."
"My prison shrink had word for that remark: projection," Faith said in a bored tone.
"And on that note, I'm pretty sure you have to refrain from saying mean things to me."
Faith lazily kicked out a foot. It landed against Xander's shin with a satisfying bonk.
Xander pivoted forward with his elbow still firmly planted in the sand and right cheek still balanced on his fist until he was practically nose to nose with Faith. "I'm pretty sure that's against the rules, too," he added in a husky voice.
"What the hell is it with you?" Faith lazily swatted at his left shoulder. "To hear you talk, there's some kind of rulebook out there for this shit, and you've memorized the whole fucking thing chapter and verse."
"I bet there is a rulebook somewhere, not that I'd bother to read it if there was," Xander good-naturedly admitted. "But despite my tragic inability to quote you chapter and verse from any kind of rulebook, I am pretty sure that I'm due a little respect."
Faith did a half-abdominal crunch and captured his lips with hers. As she sank back down onto the sand, she nipped at Xander's lower lip hard enough to get a groan out of him. "You'd be bored off your ass if I was a sub," she said as she smiled up into his face.
Xander brought his fingers of his left hand to rub along his swollen lower lip, which was even now stretching into a genuine smile. "You figured me out way too fast."
"What is it with this beach?"
"What the fuck is it now?"
"That plane that just went by." Xander gestured at the starlit sky. "Here I am playing connect the stars—"
"Making dirty pictures in your head," Faith interrupted.
"I've named those stars over there 'Faith's pussy' in your honor," Xander lazily gestured at a different part of the night sky, "and stop interrupting me. What I'm trying to say is that here I am, drifting along, catching some starlight, and this plane flies overhead and interrupts the view."
"Revere's on the flight path to Logan," Faith explained.
"I figured that out after watching approximately bazillion planes fly over our heads," Xander testily responded. "What I mean is we're on a beach, a big beach with big beach amenities to judge by that boulevard behind us. And trust me when I tell you, this California boy knows from beaches. Yet, the locals seem to think nothing of using it as a hellish highway for the very scary, very tiny local airport. International airport, my eye."
"Finished?" Faith asked.
Just then, an Air France plane passed over their heads flying close enough to the ground to not only give them a detailed view of the airline's logo and the plane's number, but also show them that the landing gear was lowering into the down position.
"Good grief," Xander muttered. "I thought that one was going to land on our heads."
"You wanna know the why of the flight path or not?" Faith asked.
"Educate me, Yoda."
"'Cause it's Revere," Faith said, as if that settled the matter.
"Well, that explains everything. Oh, wait! No it doesn't." Xander made a snarling sound. "I can't imagine this helps the tourism industry at all."
Faith burst out laughing so hard that Xander was sure she had ruptured an internal organ.
"So I take it that Revere isn't exactly overrun with tourists even during the summer season," Xander dryly remarked.
Laughter advanced to howling at the sky as Faith rolled back and forth on the sand with her arms wrapped around her aching stomach and tears rolled down her cheeks.
"Which means that this beach, which looks like a million bucks at night," Xander began.
"Stop it…stop it…yer killin' me over here," Faith interrupted between gales of laughter.
"Is really an utter shithole, which would be apparent to anyone saw it when the sun was up or during a full moon," Xander finished.
"If you don't like our shithole, then get the fuck off our beach, asshole," snapped an unfamiliar voice behind them.
Faith was on her feet in a flash. She glowered up the height of the 10-foot high cement seawall that separated the beach from the street. Her low, throaty growl began building in volume and intensity.
Xander, who had leapt to his feet in unison with Faith, immediately closed on her. He barely spared a glance for the stunned and frightened couple staring down at them from the top of the seawall as he grabbed Faith by the shoulder in an iron grip. "Not now," he snarled into her ear. "We can't afford to attract attention."
Faith's growling immediately stopped, but she continued to glower at the frozen couple.
Xander looked up at pair starting down at them. The girlfriend was a tasty little blonde treat with overly teased big hair and somewhat vacant eyes. He could see that she was wearing a very low-cut, ready-for-action kind of shirt underneath her oversized dungaree-style padded jacket that set off her very ample, possibly artificially enhanced, assets. The boyfriend was definitely a steroid case; built like a brick wall, cursed with a set of gorilla arms, and sporting slicked-back hair that went out of style back in the heyday of the 80s. Clearly, there was nothing tasty about him at all.
In any fair world, the boyfriend would easily rake the beach's sand using both Faith and Xander with one hand tied behind his back.
Good thing the world wasn't fair.
"If I were you, I'd make a run for it," Xander mildly remarked.
The couple snapped out of their terrified paralysis and scuttled away.
Xander vowed to count to 10 before ripping a chunk out of Faith's hide. He made it to three before he grabbed her arm and yanked her around to face him. When he saw that the ambient light from the street above their heads was bringing out the gold flecks in her brown eyes, irritation immediately transformed into anger.
"What the fuck do you think you're doing?" Xander snarled as he grabbed Faith by her upper arms and gave her a shake hard enough to cause her head to snap back-and-forth like a rag doll. "What part of 'low-profile' did you not get?"
"What's your issue? They're just local trash with 'tudes," Faith snapped as she violently broke his hold.
Xander was on her again. This time he grabbed her upper arm in a bruising grip with one hand. With the other, he grabbed a handful of her long hair to yank back her head and expose her beautifully scarred throat. "If this plan is going to work, we have to be invisible until we've got the jewel safely in our hands," he reminded her in a low and dangerous voice. "That means you cannot whip out your dick and wave it in some muscle-head's face every time you think you've been disrespected." He shoved her away with enough force that she stumbled a little in the sand. "How many times do you need me to repeat this? Old school all the way until we finish this little dance."
"Screw you, Harris," Faith snarled. "I should rip your throat out for that."
Xander gestured that she was welcome to bring it on if she felt like blowing the whole, beautiful plan just because she was pissed about a justified smackdown.
"Rargh!" Faith exclaimed with frustration as she violently kicked around in the sand, sending plumes of dust and dirt flying into the air. "We're not even sure this plan of yours is going to work."
"It'll work," Xander serenely said. "My plans for the past year have more than worked out. I've got a track record of genius."
Faith shot him a vicious glare, but she couldn't hold it. Her expression changed with the flick of a dimpled grin and she giggled like the innocent school girl she wasn't. "Shit yeah. The Council's perfect little butt boy."
"And don't you forget it," Xander said with a royal, magnanimous wave of his hand. "If we pull this off, we'll be legends."
"And untouchable," Faith happily purred.
"Again? We just ate two hours ago."
"Well, I am," Faith petulantly said.
"What is it with you? Do you have a hole in your stomach or what?" Xander knew his questions were totally living in rhetorical territory. Faith was always ready for fighting, fucking, and food. This knowledge did nothing to blunt the edge of his fast-fading patience. "We picked up huge meals at that place down the road two hours ago."
"The Lounge," Faith said, completely apropos of nothing.
Xander frowned at her. "Hunh?"
"The Shipwreck Lounge, the place with all the drunk, stupid fuckers where we grabbed our bite to eat," Faith explained. "The clientele you saw in there? Typical of the shitbirds that bar-hop their way up and down the boulevard hunting for jailbait snatch. I swear this town has got more dives per square mile than any place on earth. Says something that none of 'em are going out of business any time soon."
Xander rolled his good eye as he reached under his eye patch to scratch the itchy skin underneath his empty eye socket. The gritty sand of Revere Beach was not doing him any favors. Hopefully, he wouldn't have to put up with the inconvenience much longer. Maybe a month, tops, and he could toss the patch in favor of a new, magically installed eye. It wouldn't be soon enough.
"I'm gonna get something to eat," Faith declared as she hauled herself upright into a sitting position.
"Faith, remember what I said about 'low profile'?" Xander warned.
Faith aimed a weak slap at his upper arm, prompting Xander to sit up as well.
"Faith," Xander repeated the warning.
"Stop panicking. I'm not that hungry," Faith said. "Just planning to hit Kelly's for some deep-fried fish food."
Xander chuckled with relief. "That takeout place is still open? Isn't it like 9 o'clock or something? A weekend even during the off-season I maybe could see, but a weeknight in November?"
"Kelly's is open 24/7, 365," Faith said.
Xander gave his head a hard shake. "I know I didn't see anything resembling a sit-down restaurant attached to those take-out counters open to the sidewalk."
"This is our sit-down restaurant." Faith gestured across the darkened beach. "It's part of the charm."
"I'm trying to imagine the charm in the dead of February with an ice cold wind coming off the ocean," Xander remarked.
"That's why it's a B.Y.O.B. affair that time of year," Faith said.
"Yes, because getting pass-out drunk when hypothermia's a threat is really smart."
"Who said anything about a bottle? I was thinkin' more like warm body." Faith lasciviously waggled her eyebrows to make the text even more text-y.
Xander gave up. "Fine. Get enough to share."
Faith hopped to her feet and headed for the stairs that would take her up to the street.
"And Faith, low profile," Xander yelled after her.
The wave she tossed him over her shoulder without looking back did not inspire confidence.
As she disappeared up the steps, Xander turned his frowning attention to the ocean. The waves' white caps fluoresced in the darkness, despite the fact that the new moon was in full swing and there was no light other than the weak ambient light from the yellowed streetlights behind him. In the distance to his right, the Boston skyline twinkled like a diamond promise in a cloud of light pollution. Even from this distance, he could feel the beckoning temptation of the rich urban life with its late nights and herds of co-eds casting off the parental shackles for the first time with wild abandon.
A vampire could have a real party there, Xander reflected. Of course, said party would last all of 0.25 seconds if the vampire in question caught the attention of co-eds who just happened to be members of the well-trained contingent of Slayers attending any one of the city's many, many universities. Any poor sucker who tried it didn't stand a chance. A long and undusty unlife was simply out of the question there.
He almost felt bad for vampires stupid enough to try living full-time in Boston and its environs. The key word here being "almost," in large part because it went against his very grain to grant pity to those who insisted on being blatantly stupid.
Xander snatched up a random twig and absently traced patterns in the sand as he mentally reviewed his plan, now a year in the making.
So far, so good. The whole thing was going off without a hitch. They were now down to the hard bit of it: waiting. Much as he agreed with Faith that the part of the plan where they do a whole bunch of nothing felt like an itch under the skin that no amount of scratching could relieve, he couldn't afford to tell her that. She'd take it as a sign that it'd be perfectly okay to start something just for shits and giggles.
Faith was too impulsive at times, too willing to give in to instinct when the better course of action was to take a 5-minute timeout to think things through. That was her big problem, and by extension his. Yet, she was also cunning and brimming with street smarts, which he'd confidently bet on even over a Watcher with a PhD when it came to a life-and-death struggle. It was those finer qualities, even more than the fact that she was a regular Pocahontas for Boston and its environs, which inspired his decision to grab her for this caper in the first place.
The fantastic, never-ending sex didn't hurt either.
Xander scanned the beach out of habit, more than anything else. There had been the more than a few dog-walkers and joggers earlier, but for the past half-hour or so the sand had been comfortingly empty. He had been dubious when Faith recommended the place during the various scouting missions over the past week, especially given the heavily trafficked thoroughfare and the hopping string of bars and take-out joints just on the other side of the seawall behind him. However, after spending the past two hours sitting on the sand, he had to admit that Faith was dead-on in her assessment that the location was perfect.
A plane roared overhead and Xander scowled up at it. In a fit of pique, he snatched up a smooth pebble from the sand and impotently flung it with all his might at the American Airlines plane destroying his reflecting time.
"Fucker," he spit after the departing plane.
As the roar and the plane faded off over the water toward Boston, Xander once more fell to scanning the beach. As his view swept over to his extreme left, he saw a sight that froze him in place. Two people — despite the distance and the dark he could see it was a man and a woman — were down below the high tide line and appeared to be digging into the sand.
With the amount of work they putting into carving a space out for themselves, it was pretty obvious that they planned to be there quite awhile.
"Shit," Xander hissed. Potential witnesses. This was not something he needed.
His eye narrowed as he thought. One thing was clear: he'd have to move the plan just a little bit off its intended path. The only question left to answer was how.
"I come bearing snacks."
"Please tell me that all you're bearing is the deep fried fish food."
"Just a scallop plate with onion rings and extra tartar sauce," Faith cheerfully announced. "Oh, and something a little extra."
A fat wallet landed in the sand near Xander's feet.
Xander looked up from checking the duffle bag to stupidly stare at it. "Where the hell did you get that?"
"Where do you think?" Faith asked as she plopped down onto the sand with a whump.
Xander straightened up and glared down at her. "I thought I said 'low profile'," he snarled.
Faith paused in lifting the aluminum foil off the plate. "I picked some mook's pocket while he was waddling off to his car. He probably won't even know it's missing until he gets home. What the hell do you think I did?"
The response caught Xander flat-footed. "Oh. Okay. That's all right then."
Faith tucked into her food, grumbling about nervous nellies hashing her good time.
"Do I have to remind you about what happened in Atlantic City the Day After?" Xander snapped in response to her muttered complaints.
A tartar sauce-covered fried scallop stopped halfway between the plate and Faith's mouth as she paused to glare at him. "That was a month ago. And it was special circumstances. You're still holding that shit against me?" She tossed the scallop in her mouth and defiantly chewed. "If that's the case, why am I even still here?"
Xander rubbed his temples as he carefully chose his words. "You're right," he finally said. "When you're right, you're right."
"Damn straight." Just like that, Faith appeared to have forgiven all.
"But the point is I had to do some very fast dancing to cover your trail," Xander patiently explained. "It was a good thing I was able to put the blame squarely on those chumps setting up shop in Harrah's so I could sic the nice people in the Atlantic City Council house on them. If they didn't believe me, we'd've been in deep shit. If you go nuts now, there's no way I'd be able to cover your ass again."
"Okay, okay. I get your point. Fuck it. I got your point," Faith said with a resigned air. "But enough already. You can't say I haven't been a little angel ever since."
"You. An angel." Xander snorted. "Please don't confuse being slightly better about keeping yourself in check with sporting an actual halo."
"Like you've been a saint."
"Hey! One thing you can say about me is that I'm very careful about not shitting in my own nest," Xander snapped back.
"All I need is one word to show how you ain't so perfect," Faith primly said. "Providence."
Xander mentally kicked himself. The wait was getting to him more than he thought. He just had to keep pushing for that bickering argument, didn't he? All Faith was doing was responding in kind. If he didn't put a stop to it now, this would either end with them trading blows or vigorously fucking each other into the sand. Probably both. Right now they couldn't afford to do either.
"Touché," Xander said in hopes of shutting down the argument. He snatched up the wallet and tossed it carelessly into the duffle bag. The credit cards were surely a loss, but the extra walking around money would definitely come in handy. He once more bent over the duffle bag to take yet another inventory of its contents.
Going through the exercise of checking his gear served to help focus his mind. It wasn't that he was afraid that he'd lost something between the time he packed it and just this moment, but he liked to reassure himself that everything was in order. The bag contained clean clothes; extra stakes; 35 Ziploc baggies of carefully saved vampire dust; bank books matching dozens of bank accounts in tax havens located all over the world that were chock full of funds siphoned off from several now-dead African strongmen who got on his bad side in the past year; $2,000 in American dollars and $2,000 in Euros; and numerous passports with matching credit cards bearing fake identities and addresses for both himself and Faith.
Faith was apparently itching to continue the fight, probably because she wanted the usual big-bang finish. "Are you checking the duffle bag again? I swear you're a classic OCD case."
Xander reminded himself that rising to Faith's bait, while holding the promise of fun, wouldn't help either one of them. True he could rattle off the contents by memory, but he was a big believer in making sure that all his ducks were in order. It had saved his hide more than once in the years since Sunnydale collapsed while he was the Council's man in Africa, especially over the past year.
"Pays to be prepared," Xander grunted at her as he carefully placed his and Faith's varied forms of fake documentation inside a hidden inner pocket and sealed it shut.
"There's prepared, and then there's obsessive." Faith's voice got dangerously close to exasperated affection.
"Don't knock it," Xander said as he zipped the duffle bag closed and straightened up in a full-body stretch. "I'll have you know that this kind of preparation got me into your Atlantic City apartment. And, I might add, it got me in with a full invite."
Faith's answering chuckle crossed the line into full-blown affection, a sign she was backing off on that hoped-for argument. "Yeah, you got me good there," she happily admitted. "Obsess away, then."
Xander couldn't resist grinning. "Hey, that food actually smells kinda good."
"The perfect snack," Faith agreed as she plopped another fried scallop smothered with tartar sauce into her mouth. She bent low over the plate and took a deep sniff. As she sat back up, she added, "Fuck me, I forgot how good this shit was."
"How long has it been?" Xander asked as he sat down next to her and stole an onion ring.
"Lemme think. I left B-town a little over 10 years ago, and last time I was up here was before I got Fate's middle finger in the form of a wooden stake, so…almost 11 years," Faith said. "Shit. A lifetime ago. Two lifetimes ago."
"This is very fine dining indeed," Xander said as he grabbed a fried scallop off the plate. "I'm pretty sure that I would've just moved into a nearby apartment so I could have this every day and twice on Christmas."
Faith snorted. "Hey, quality shit like this ain't cheap, and it ain't exactly hot on human metabolism. If you followed that plan, not only would you be broke, you'd be fat."
"Didn't hurt you any."
Faith gave him a dose of what-the-hell face.
"Not that you're not hotter than the sun at noon now, but even back in the day you were smoking," Xander answered her unasked question.
Faith's cheeks dimpled with a grin. "I wasn't eating this shit every day, you moron."
"Such is my lot in life," Xander lightly said. "I pay you a compliment, you call me a moron. Tell me, is it me thinking you're hot that makes me moron? Or is it me admitting it out loud?"
"That's what saves you from being a total moron." Faith dipped a fried scallop in the tartar sauce and tossed it in her mouth.
"Well, until you change your tune and acknowledge the genius that is me, I hereby promise to never say anything nice about you, ever. I won't even think it," Xander solemnly swore.
"Hmph. A promise you'll keep until I suck your brains out through your dick." Faith licked her lips, although that could've been because of the food as opposed to underlining her single-entendre about sexy, good-time fun. "You always call me 'Oh, God,' when I do that."
Xander glanced to his left to see if the couple was still there. Much to his unhappiness, they were. Action had to be taken if he wanted to be sure that the beach was clear of witnesses when the time came to make their move. "Tell you what. I'll pay you a compliment without making you swallow if you answer some questions."
"See that couple over there?" Xander asked with a jerk of his head.
Faith set the plate aside and brushed her hands together before looking in the direction he indicated. She was silent a few moments, first because she had to find the right patch of beach and then because she needed to figure out what she was looking at.
"My bet? Smoking weed, followed by some screwing, and then a nap," was her final judgment.
"A nap? At night on a beach in November? Please tell me you're kidding."
Faith licked a finger before holding it up, as if she were trying to determine wind direction. "Not that cold, relatively speaking. It's been kinda warm for this time of year over the past few days."
"They're below the high tide line! The second the tide comes in, they're going to get soaked. I don't care how unseasonably warm it is. It's still November. That's practically begging for pneumonia."
"So? They're local stoners," Faith shrugged. "Smarts are not something they got to spare. Bets are they lent their single shared brain cell out to a friend and forgot to ask for it back."
Xander made a low, frustrated growl in his throat.
Faith immediately responded by snapping into professional mode. "What's on your mind?"
"I just want to be clear," Xander said. "You're telling me that they could be there awhile."
"At least until the tide turns and starts lapping at their toes. Maybe even longer if they're stoned enough to pass out," Faith said with a knowing nod.
Xander rubbed his mouth with the back of his hand as he thought. "Okay. What about beach patrols?"
Faith shook her head. "This time of year? None. That's half the reason why I said this was the place to be. Now if it was summer? They're pretty regular and as thick as sand fleas. No joke. You can't do nothin' on this beach after sundown during the summer. But once we head into the ass-end of autumn, it's every beach bum's party. Right now those closet pervs are running porn movies in their heads with their hands wrapped around their dicks, as opposed to interrupting some wicked excellent real-life porn on the beach."
Xander weighed the pros and cons in his head. No matter which way he looked at it, circumstances dictated that they take action.
"I've been thinking," he slowly began. "Two more set pieces would probably enhance the tragedy."
Faith perked right up. "Yeah?"
"Can you guarantee that we're not going to be interrupted if we pay our fellow beach-goers a visit?" Xander asked.
"Oh, yeah. Sure," Faith eagerly nodded.
Xander groaned. "Faith, before you leap in with both feet, please remember my gold rules of survival."
"I know. Yadda, yadda, yadda. Whatever. If you repeat it again, I'm going to barf all over my delicious Kelly's plate and that would be a crying shame," Faith said.
"What I'm saying is that I need you to be sure," Xander stressed. "Because if we get interrupted while taking care of our unexpected problem, it's going to get a whole lot messier than we can afford. So, please, think really hard about this."
Faith snorted, but she seemed to take Xander's admonishment seriously. She stood up, turned around, and scanned the top edge of the seawall. She then looked over her shoulder at the couple down near the water's edge before frowning back up at the seawall. Her gaze then moved to the night sky, noting the utter lack of any moon. Her gaze then switched to the distant, glittering jewel that was nighttime Boston, as if trying to judge whether its exuberant light pollution would reveal too much about the impending situation.
As Xander watched her careful evaluation of the immediate environment, he could feel his chest swell with pride. Finally, something was sinking into that head of hers. Sure, it was a very small step for logic, but it was very huge step for Faith.
Once her study was complete, Faith dropped onto the sand in a cross-legged pose with a frown.
"Well?" Xander prompted.
Faith nodded almost to herself. "We could pull it off, but we'd have to stay low to the sand, approach them quietly from behind, take 'em completely by surprise, and do it quick. Even though they're probably toasted, we have to assume they haven't sparked their doobies yet to make double-sure they don't see or hear us."
Xander fought back a smile. There was only one last problem to overcome. "That's the other issue. If they've been indulging the whole time they've been here—"
"I know, I know," Faith interrupted. She looked at him with clear, considering eyes. "We're going to have to take care of them the non-fun way. The good news is that we'll be able to tell by the smell one way or the other before we get close."
Xander let his smile break free as he got to his feet. "Well, let's get this over with. The sooner, the better."
( 1 )