Disclaimer: All Buffy the Vampire Slayer characters belong to Twentieth Century Fox Studios and Joss Whedon respectively. Their use in this fan fiction is purely for pleasure and pays no profits.
A/N: An idea I had about an alternate take on the S3 episode 'Choices. Already posted it in another site and thought I'd be good to post it here too. Shippings are the canon ones but will deviate to Fuffy. I'll leave you to read on and tell me what you think about it.
--------Chp 1: The exchange--------
Everybody was anxious and tensed.
Xander and Oz were making sure all the cafeteria exits where properly closed and blocked. Well all exits except for the front door. They wanted to have as much control over the situation as possible so that hopefully there weren't any casualties. Buffy could see Giles by the window on the lookout for the coming of their much undesired company. Sensing her stare, he sent her a small comforting smile, his relaxed features disguising the worry he felt for their mutual friend. She knew he was just trying to appease her nerves. Angel tried to do so as well moments before but by the current jumpiness of her feet it seemed that all their calming gestures were not touching her body….in a totally metaphory way of course. But their efforts mattered to her, which was something she couldn't say about her new Watcher.
Standing stiff as a board in the corner, Wesley was not making any attempt of disguising his clear disagreement of the trade. Every once in a while he'd looked unsure and deep in thought but then one of them would make a comment and he'd go back to stonily glaring them down as if his stare could make them see 'reason'. Fat chance. She still couldn't believe he'd sacrifice Willow's life so easily.
Next training session is gonna cost him some nice bruises.
"The whole place is locked down, except for the front." Oz's voice brought Buffy's attention out of her violent daydreams.
"Yeah, it gives me that comforting trapped feeling." commented Xander without his usual enthusiasm. Buffy glanced his way for a second before settling her eyes towards the front double doors.
"One way out means one way in. I want to see them coming." She said with growing confidence to not only reassure her friends but herself as well.
And that's when the lights went out and everybody's limbs stiffened.
"Guess they're shy"
Xander's joke in no way lessened the sudden doubts that were surging in each of the Scooby's minds. Buffy's confidence on having control over the trade was beginning to diminish but she had the comfort of knowing Angel's eyes could capture any signs of foul play in the unexpected darkness.
And then the front doors opened abruptly and 4 figures marched in. The Mayor walked in the front of the group with a calm countenance and his typical election smile which tended to raise Buffy's hackles. He was followed closely by Faith and her redheaded hostage, and behind them the two bodyguards Buffy and Angel fought earlier in the night.
Four against six, seven counting Willow. The odds were not bad. Buffy could have done without the Mayor's taunting and his 'wise' relationship advice. She didn't think they needed to talk about that and right now just wanted to put the trade in motion and get Willow back safely.
Oz couldn't stop looking at Willow's pained face and the way Faith's knife was nicking the witch's throat. The smug grin on the Slayer's face revealed the pleasure she was getting out of Willow's small yips and Oz's unusually expressive face. The Slayer then made eye contact with her counterpart and after noticing her attention, she stuck out her tongue and licked her redheaded hostage's cheek. This action incited quick hostile feelings from both Buffy and Oz, and a scared whimper out of Willow. The blonde Slayer knew Faith was enjoying their reactions and her attempts were just a way to provoke Buffy.
Her fist hung helplessly at her side since she couldn't do anything that could compromise the exchange. She needed to stay calm and so decided to ignore the brunette and concentrate on the Mayor's dating speech. Buffy thought the Big Bad was going to take all night talking crap and was rather alleviated when he stopped counseling her and got down to business.
"Make the trade"
But as Angel was moving with the Box of Gavrok something unpredictable happened. Wesley came out of his corner to stand before the vampire and block his path.
"Wait! Wait! H-hold on a moment" Wesley shouted while trying his best to look collected though the way his hands nervously fidgeted with his tie betrayed his lack of confidence. He took a deep breath, straightened and looked at them with his most pompous expression before settling his eyes over the Mayor's. "I have an objection"
His remark was quickly followed by annoyed groans from the Scoobies and a raised eyebrow from the Mayor and Faith.
"Wesley shut up you pillock and get back in your corner."
"No Mr. Giles, as a member of the Watcher's Council I demand to be hea-"
Angel decided to swerve by him but Wesley's hands shot out and grabbed the box, preventing the dark vampire from moving further without starting a tug war. Sensing a future struggle, the Mayor's vampire bodyguards took a few steps forward while Faith's tightened grip made Willow give another small scream. Oz made to move forwards as well but Faith's threatening eyes and twitching knife made him pause and control the protective impulses running through his body.
"Let go" growled the souled vampire towards the interfering Watcher.
"Wesley, we already discussed this. Willow comes first! Now step the hell out before I make you."
Buffy's angry words and constricted fists made Wesley glance at the Slayer in momentary fear but he still made sure to maintain his grip on the box of Gavrok.
"No, w-wait! Just listen! I know Willow's safety is crucial. I-I just need you to listen. Just stop..for a moment" he swallowed and directed his pleads toward the entire Scooby gang. "Please, trust me. It's important."
Angel looked for signs of approval in Buffy's frowning face who was evaluating Wesley's claim.
"This better be good." she muttered before nodding and allowing Wesley to explain himself. The Watcher smiled with relief and faced their two biggest enemies. His eyes bounced anxiously from the Mayor to Faith to the Mayor again.
"I ..erm I h-have a-uh" he managed to weakly stutter out before composing himself and speaking in a louder and clearer voice. "I have two buttons in my pocket….one of them is silver."
An ensuing silence followed his declaration where all parties just looked at Wesley in various states of confusion and bewilderment. Some where expecting the now sweating Watcher to carry on with something else but when it was obvious that was all he desired to say some coughs and a snort broke the awkward hush.
"Well that was enlightening" Xander's light hearted voice yet again broke the quiet. "You never know, Wesley's important button stash could save me some possible embarrassment at Prom."
Any further remarks were silenced by the Mayor's chuckles. "Well I expected a small amount of professionalism out of you people but it seems Slayer, that you are not taking this exchange seriously. I might just need to show your witch friend—" and the Mayor was making a gesture towards Faith before Buffy stopped him with a desperate shout.
"No! Wait, I'm serious! WE'RE serious! We do want to trade. Just ignore Wesley. He's brain-dead."
"I beg your pardon?"
"Then I suggest you bring me my box before I lose my patience."
And with a glare towards Wesley and a strong tug, Angel wrenched off the protesting Watcher's hands of the so desired box.
"B-but wait…the box-you can't…"
Angel was about to demonstrate that he could until sudden laughter made their heads swivel towards the dark slayer who was smiling in disbelief.
"Oh oh! Can you believe this guy? Hey…Chief, it looks to me as if Princess Margaret wants to keep that box AND the redhead."
Wesley's hesitant nod and weak smile only made the dark slayer laugh harder and although the Mayor broke into a bemused smile at the preposterous idea, Buffy could see sentiments of annoyance at the Watcher's daring.
"Now Faithy some people just don't understand the principles of trade."
Meanwhile, Willow was starting to feel distress over her precarious situation since every laugh out of Faith's mouth was shaking the Slayer's body. And her hands. And the knife in one of her hands. Thus she felt considerable relief when the crazy Slayer's laughter subsided with a sigh, but the next words out of the Slayer's mouth stunned not only her but the rest of the people reunited inside the cafeteria.
"Yeah, yeah…but I think that's a great idea. Catch Wolfy!" and all of a sudden Willow was sailing into the air with a scream. By the time she crash-landed in Oz's surprised hands Faith was already in motion and with a quick arm swipe she buried her knife into the Mayor's chest. It was a move so out of the blue, no one was expecting it. Especially Richard Wilkins III.
"That was easy. Sorry dude, no hard feelings yeah, just the job." The attacking Slayer winked at the surprised face of Sunnydale's Mayor before turning her head and directing a triumphant smile towards Wesley. Her gaze then connected with quite a few of the Scoobies's paralyzed features, taking particular pleasure on Angel's uncharacteristically clueless face, before she turned to confront the other two threats she felt on the back of the room.
"Faithy…what are you doing?"
And Faith's turning movements stopped to look in shock at the Mayor who was calmly taking the buried knife out of his chest without spilling a drop of blood.
"W-what the-" Her incredulous eyes followed the descend of the bloodless knife as it clattered on the floor and then turned towards Wesley "He's invulnerable?"
"Yes, well to all physical trauma…that we know of."
Buffy and the others were further amazed to find the Watcher actually answering, their heads turning from one side of the room to the other as if they were watching a tennis match…played by smiling demons in tweed.
"Why didn't you tell me then?"
"Well I didn't know!...at the moment."
"Am I missing something here?" But though Xander's question was certainly echoed in everyone's mind it went unanswered as at that moment a shout of "Filthy traitor!" was heard and one of the vampire bodyguards barreled Faith to the floor and started aggressively wrestling with the Slayer. The other vampire had his radio out and was already calling for help before he advanced towards the rolling pair in the floor. It was at that moment that Buffy decided to leave the answering of REALLY important questions for another time. She leapt over a chair and tackled away the vampire before he could intervene and was soon violently trading fists and kicks with him.
In the meantime Angel was thinking whether to move and help Buffy or remain guarding the box, but the decision was taken out of his hands…literally. Wesley had taken advantage of the impromptu fights' distraction and used his body to hug the box of Gavrok and steal it away from the souled vampire. Angel made an attempt to take it back before the Watcher stopped him with an explanation.
"It needs to be destroyed!"
"Well we can't do that without the Breath of the Atropyx!" intervened Giles angrily.
"So we're back to destroying the box now. Oz already wasted the spell batch we made. Any chance some good ol' swinging might help?" added Xander with a simulated swing if his bat.
"Not bloody likely" dead-panned Giles.
"We still have some ingredients left to make another Breath of the Atropyx. We just have to take the box back to the library." explained Wesley while trying to move towards one of the doors at his side.
"See, this is what I meant about the comforting trapped feeling. We locked ourselves in! How do you plan on getting to the-oh oh"
Wesley turned to where Xander's paling face was looking and was suddenly lifted by the lapels of his suit. His attacker stared at him with such intensity that in his fright Wesley dropped the box.
"What did you do to her?" an unusually angered Richard Wilkins demanded out of the shaking Watcher.
"W-what, I didn't-" he managed to stutter out before he was dragged away from the others.
"Don't lie! You said something. A spell. You-" but the Mayor wasn't allowed to continue as at that moment a bat with a protruding nail collided with his back and weakened his grip. Wesley took the chance to dislodge himself and scrambled away from the threat of the Big Bad.
"What is going on here?"
And everybody in the room stopped their actions to look towards the opened front doors where Principal Snyder and two Sunnydale Officers stood. The troll like man looked from one face to another, his eyes passing over Oz and Willow breaking chairs in a corner, Xander with his bat frozen in mid-swing, Faith standing over her vamp with a broken chair leg in her hands and finally settled over Buffy who was currently holding her opponent in a full nelson.
"Summers and her gang! I should have known you were up to something."
"Snyder get out of here!"
"You don't give the orders here young lady. Starting brawls and destroying school property. Those are grounds for an arrest which I fully intend to see to." And with a gesture the police officers took out their handcuffs.
"Snyder for your own good, leave."
The officers that where making their way to arrest Buffy stopped the moment a sliver of moonlight revealed the vamped disfigured face of her victim.
"Sweet lord! Are they on drugs too?" exclaimed one of them but they didn't have more time to ponder the suggestion because abruptly the windows of the cafeteria imploded and in mere moments more disfigured people started climbing in through them. Buffy noted that six vampires had joined the fight. The odds were now ten to seven, which was not so good after all. Then she noticed Faith dusting her vampire. Nine to seven. But then again it looked like Faith was fighting for them now so that made it a nice and manageable eight vs. seven.
Buffy twisted her opponents' neck and after hearing it break she dropped off his immobilized body. She was already grabbing a discarded chair leg to finish the job and take care of two advancing vampires.
"Get back!" she shouted to the officers who actually listened to her and ran out of the room.
"Get the box!" ordered the Mayor and a group of three vampires turned towards Wesley who was at the moment trying to make his way out of the room. Faith saw his plight and was running to his side until she got tackled by another vampire.
"I knew we shouldn't have trusted a Slayer. All your good for is holding blood!"
Quick as a rabbit, the vampire managed to land two punches in her face and one in her gut before grabbing a hold of Faith and launching her on top of a group of chairs. As the Slayer slammed on the chairs and was buried in between them her attacker noticed the knife lying on the floor.
"This is going to be sweet"
He picked up the knife and was making his way towards a disoriented Faith. The Slayer's back was facing him and he was already raising the knife before a hand wrapped around his forearm. He swung towards the interferer and paused his attack when he found his disheveled boss looking at him in disapprove.
"Don't kill her."
Yet the vampire didn't get the choice to question why before a stake was stuck in his heart and he was dust. Mayor Wilkins swerved towards his Slayer but was greeted by a fist in the face followed by a kick in the stomach than sent him flying to the other side of the room.
"Thanks for the save, but your not my type." and then the Slayer looked in the vicinity where she previously saw her Watcher to find him and Giles fending off a vampire. Wesley was doing his best to not lose the box and with his hands occupied that only left the older Watcher in a position to defend them against the attacking vampire. Faith then noticed another vampire preparing for a sneak attack and she shouted out a warning. It gave Wesley enough time to jump back and away from his grappling hands but he almost dropped the box.
"Faith!" he called out and after capturing the Slayer's attention he threw the box in the air. With Slayer reflexes Faith managed to catch it securely before looking with alarm at Wesley.
"What are you doing?"
"Run Faith! Take the box! You mustn't let them have it!"
"And leave you here to get sucked on?"
"The box is more important! Run now! It's an order."
Faith hesitated for a moment before she saw the other vampires had their attention on her and were turning to go after her.
"Argh this box had better be worth this shit." And with a quick pivot of her feet she was blasting out of the front doors followed closely by two vampires. The third vampire was stopped from pursuing after being slammed in the face with a bat and then pushed by Oz into a floating stake.
"We're bad" grinned Willow after high fiving her boyfriend.
"Hey a little appreciation over here" grouched out a pouting Xander.
"What the hell is Wesley doing?" questioned Buffy before tripping one of her vampires and finally dusting him.
"I pretty much stopped trying to understand after the buttons" answered Angel twisting back his vampire's arms and holding him ready for Buffy's stake. One quick hit and the vampire lackey was dust flying onto their faces.
"Ackk bugh teaches me to not slay and chat. Are there anymore?"
"No, the last two went out with Faith."
Buffy was thinking of giving chase as well when she noticed the Mayor standing up and dusting his suit. The Big Bad watched his now numerous opponents, recognizing the odds were against him this time. He stared at Buffy in defiance and for a moment she though he was actually going to start something which probably wouldn't be good for her since she was tired and was not in the mood to take on someone who couldn't be harmed. But instead, the Mayor turned his icy stare on the panting Wesley.
"This isn't over." His menacing tone made the Watcher eep in terror. Satisfied with his threat, Mayor Wilkins walked out of the cafeteria looking as serene as when he first entered it.
At that time out of a corner near the doors a shaking figure emerged out of a crouch.
"…Was that…Mayor Wilkins?"
"Yep" answered the blonde Slayer.
Snyder looked at Buffy like she had just grown a second pair of arms while opening and closing his mouth in disbelief.
"Y-you couldn't you just be dealing drugs like normal people?" and without expecting an answer he wobbled out of the cafeteria, making sure to check the hallway for any remaining…freaks.
"Well that went swimmingly."
Wesley felt then at the group of hostile glares demanding explanations.
"Tea in the library I suppose?" he offered with a nervous laugh.
--------To be continued--------
A/N: Anyone guessed what happened?