Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer is the intellectual property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, et al. No money is being made from this story and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Author's Note: This story was written for yggidee, to the prompt: Perhaps something lighthearted from Buffy? Xander being great? (I use a broad interpretation of 'being awesome,' since I find common sense and emotional strength just as cool as physical strength and martial arts skills, not to mention much more applicable in real life. +grin+) This story has been slightly edited from the livejournal version, and references TV canon only. (Note, 11/19/09: I had to change the formatting of Xander's Willow-babble initial explanation, since ff-dot-net kept deleting the single run-on word version. +sigh+)
Summary: Xander deals with one minor practical detail of setting up shop in Cleveland. Now if he can only talk Buffy around...
Buffy hung up the kitchen phone with an ominous click and pinned Xander with a glare. "You said there wasn't a problem. Dawn and Vi are in the hospital. With one broken arm, one sprained ankle, and lots of gashes just dripping with Chaos demon slime. Demon slime, Xander! How is this not a problem?"
Xander eyed his friend warily. Scowl on face, hands on hips, weight dangerously forward on the balls of her feet... oh yeah, not good. She was going to snap pretty soon -- like maybe right now, actually -- if she didn't remember how to relax and have a life around her Slaying.
And she was scowling harder. Right. Time for explanations, not mental babbling.
"Well, see, when we got to Cleveland I figured, Hellmouth plus Slayers equals fights, right?"
Buffy nodded impatiently.
"And fights equals injuries, no matter how good you guys -- you girls -- you... how good you are at kicking evil's ass, right?"
"Unfortunately," Buffy agreed. Her left foot was tapping. Bad sign.
Xander spoke faster. "So I thought, lots of injuries plus maybe strange magical problems and weird demon diseases -- don't look at me like that! I got syphilis and plague from a ghost; I know what I'm talking about! Anyway, I thought, there's some famous hospital in Cleveland, right, and we know hospitals have problems with demons and vampires, so I..." He swallowed and nearly reached Willow-babble speed.
Buffy raised her eyebrows. "Try that again, with breathing?"
Xander shrugged, reaching up to tug at the string of his eye-patch. "I kind of... found the old Council's health plan, and when I went in to see about reactivating it for us, I saw a stake in this administrator's desk and we kind of got to talking about vampires and Slayers and stuff and I got us a really cool group discount as long as we let them research any magical problems we run into and guard the blood bank so their security turnover won't be so ridiculous?"
"Xander! I can't believe you told--" Buffy started.
"They already knew!" he said.
She jerked her head dismissively. "Whatever. I can't believe you're okay with turning people into lab rats! You know what happened with the Initiative!"
And there it was, the break he needed. Xander stepped forward, put one hand on Buffy's shoulder. She was so tense she was almost shaking with the effort it took to stay in control, to look strong, to be perfect.
"Buffy. Listen. They're not soldiers. They're doctors -- first, do no harm, you know? They want information about magic and demons so they can help people. Save people. Like you do."
Buffy turned aside, hands clenched into fists. "I-- you can't-- damn it, Xander."
"It will be fine. I swear." He let himself relax, let a cautious grin ease over his face. "And hey, if I'm wrong? You can land me in the emergency room, and get everyone to send cards saying 'I told you so.'"
His name in that tone, exasperation and grudging amusement, meant he'd won. And Buffy tilted her head, let herself lean on his shoulder, closed her eyes and just breathed for a moment. Xander pulled her in for a loose hug, blinking back an embarrassing attack of tears.
Score one for the forces of good against the forces of... well, not evil, obviously -- Buffy was trying to do what she thought was right, like she always did -- but she didn't realize that she didn't have to be General Buffy anymore. She'd forgotten it was okay to let other people be strong for her now and then.
"Right, enough sappiness for one night. Let's go see Dawn and her lovely new arm cast," Xander said, pushing on Buffy's shoulders to turn her around and head toward the garage. "I'll bet you ten bucks she needs new clothes, and I just know there's a stack of paperwork waiting for your signature."
Buffy sighed. "Kill me now?" But her tone was flippant, not deadened or pained, and Xander allowed himself a tiny victory dance as he followed her out to the car.
AN: Thanks for reading, and please review! I'm particularly interested in knowing what parts of the story worked for you, what parts didn't, and why.