Links Broken, Bonds Forged
Disclaimer: I don't own any commercially viable product!
"Did you hear what I said?" Buffy said, exasperated by the blank expression on Xander's face that had appeared the moment he had realized where they were going with this.
Xander nodded. "I'm no longer part of your group; thus I don't have to listen to you anymore," he said, as he broke into a brilliant smile.
"What?" Buffy replied confused. "I'm still the Slayer."
"Yeah, and?" he asked, wondering what that had to do with anything.
"That means you still have to listen to me," she said, like she was speaking to a five year old.
"No it doesn't." He snorted. "I'm not a soldier in your army or a subject under your crown; I am a free citizen of the United States and no one voted you into office."
The group stared, stunned at Xander, who was reacting the exact opposite of how they thought he would.
Xander stood like a great weight had been lifted from his shoulders, gone was his habitual slouch and near constant half grin as if they'd never existed.
"Book and weapon share is still in effect?" he asked Giles.
Giles nodded. "Yes, but what about the maintenance schedule?"
"As long as you're there working with me so I can pick your brain I have no problem continuing it."
"I'll bring the tea and biscuits," Giles promised.
"And I'll supply the emery cloth and polish," Xander replied. "Well, I'd love to stay and chat, but I have things to do. Bye!"
"What just happened?" Oz asked, as the library doors closed behind the departing Xander.
"And what book and weapon share?" Buffy asked. "I don't want you loaning any books or weapons to Xander."
Giles looked over the top of his glasses at Buffy and said pertly, "I will loan out my possessions to whomever I please and considering Xander has managed to scrounge up the majority of the books and weapons we use, since the Council only supplies enough for a single Slayer and her Watcher while we've been fielding an entire team, I'd suggest that interference wouldn't be the brightest idea. Now if you'll excuse me, I feel the need for a cup of tea."
"Buffy, quit alienating everyone," Cordelia ordered. "Willow you know the bastard best, why was he so happy? He looked like he was just freed from slavery."
"I don't know," Willow admitted. "I mean it's like … oops," she said paling.
"Oops? What oops?" Buffy demanded. "Oops is not a good word."
"W-well, we just kicked him out of the group while I remain a member," Willow explained. "That's … a big deal."
"What about the We Hate Cordelia Club?" Cordy demanded.
"He never quit that. In fact, he was lobbying to allow new members during the summer caucus, saying you'd probably like to be in the club, just to prove you could get into any club you wanted," Willow continued.
"Oh," Cordelia said quietly, surprised he'd known her so well.
"And how does this explain the big change and Xander no longer being into bondage?" Buffy asked.
"Xander, J-jesse and I decided at some point decided that remaining in something that one of us was kicked out of was an unforgivable sin."
"That's why you won't go to Sizzler!" Oz said suddenly.
Willow nodded. "Xander was barred from the all you can eat buffet after he got into an eating contest with someone and Jesse started a food fight in protest."
"Skating rink?" Oz asked.
"Jesse kept running into me 'on accident," Cordelia said with a frown. "So I complained and they kicked him out. So then Xander snuck into the DJ booth and programmed it for 12 hours straight of Wayne Newton before gluing the door shut so they couldn't get in and change it. And then he blocked all the exits so we couldn't escape!"
"Actually that was me," Willow admitted. "He was just covering for me."
"I still get homicidal when I hear Mandy played," Cordelia growled.
"Who doesn't?" Oz deadpanned.
"And all this means?" Buffy asked.
"I committed an unforgivable sin, I am no longer his friend." Willow sighed sadly.
"And that made him happy?" Buffy asked confused.
"I don't know." Willow shrugged, obviously confused.
"That is a nice car," a girl said, eying Xander's ride.
"Xander," he offered, holding out a hand.
"Lisa," she replied, shaking his hand.
Xander grinned. "I got it from my Uncle Rory. He restores cars for a living. It's only partially completed; I still have some engine work to do. Wanna hear?"
"Yes!" she squealed and hopped in the front seat.
Xander turned the key and the car sputtered for a moment before catching.
Lisa tilted her head to the side and listened. "The timing is off and you probably need to clean your carb."
"I've got an appointment with a timing light this weekend, but I'm running premium with an octane boost to clean out the fuel system. Someone left this baby sitting for a couple of years."
"And cleaning the carb before the fuel system is useless," she agreed. "The vinyl is in pretty good condition for its age."
"Yeah, it was parked in a garage most of the time, but you can see how the years have been drying it out."
"I know just the thing to restore old vinyl," she said. "A little rubbed in works wonders."
Later that day …
Faith was in trouble, she had a dislocated shoulder and the blue bitch had her on the ropes.
If her back hadn't been to the wall she'd have tried running for it, but with the way things were it'd only give blue a shot at her back.
She was sure this was the end, when out of nowhere an old tan convertible nailed the blue she demon, hard.
Blinking in the glare from the headlights she saw Xander and some brown haired chick she didn't recognize.
"Oh my god! I think you killed … it?"
"Just a demon, don't worry about it. Hey Faith, sorry I didn't recognize you or I would have stayed out of your fight," Xander apologized.
"What?" Faith asked confused.
"Buffy kicked me out of the Slaying group saying I'd probably just get one of you killed, so sorry for interfering in your fight," he explained. "Next time I'll stay out of it, promise."
Faith just stared, wondering what had happened as the two climbed back into the car and were apparently going to leave without her. Faith quickly jumped up and jumped into the back seat, only to wind up on the floor cursing.
"Did you want a ride, Faith?" Xander asked sarcastically.
"Oww," Faith moaned, holding her shoulder. "I got a dislocated shoulder and some bruised ribs, I'd like a ride home, please. Now, what's with the hostility? I never kicked you out of nothin' and if you've got a list of people marked "do not save" tell me what to do to keep off that list!"
"I thought Buffy got you all to vote me out? She was doing this whole "we decided as a group" spiel when she said I wasn't to be involved in the slaying anymore."
"Demon slaying?" Lisa asked a bit frazzled.
"Vampires, demons, and various baddies exist," Xander explained. "There are a few groups that hunt them down and slay them, mostly for altruistic reasons."
"Altruistic?" Lisa asked. "You mean there are other reasons for hunting them?"
"Sure, like revenge or because they have no choice and then there are some who are in it for the money."
"Money?" Faith asked. "I've rolled vamps when I can but it's too dangerous to be profitable."
"There are better and safer ways to take down vamps than hand to hand and most of their loot is in their lairs," Xander explained.
"Fighting demons in their lairs is a losing proposition," Faith said. "They've got the home field advantage and most fight better in close quarters where they can dodge behind stuff and you don't have enough room to swing a sword."
"Using those kind of tactics it would be stupid to tackle lairs," Xander admitted. "But what if you barred the doorways and windows with consecrated wafers from a Catholic church and had someone using Holy Water and a fog machine to weaken them before you even entered the room?"
"Would that work?" Faith asked.
"No idea, I was forbidden from trying out any of my ideas because they were "too dangerous". I haven't been out of the group long enough to test them yet," he admitted.
"Other demon hunters consider you too dangerous to be around?" Lisa asked breathlessly.
Noticing the effect it had on Lisa, Faith couldn't resist. "X-man has been hunting demons for years and has the scars to prove it; he plays the goof so no one suspects what he is."
"Wow," Lisa said.
Xander pretended not to notice. "So Faith, where to?"
"That hole?" Xander asked confused. "Wesley should have picked a better place for even temporary housing than that."
"What's Wesley got to do with anything?" Faith asked.
"He's a Watcher and you report to him; that means he's required to ensure you have adequate lodging, weapons and food while in his territory. It's all spelled out in the Slayer's Handbook. I know of two Council safe houses set up in Sunnydale for use by allies or fallback positions in case of exposure. Hell, I set one up for myself."
"I didn't know I was supposed to ask for any of that," Faith replied.
"Well, let's move you to a safe house and we can ask Wesley to have the Council set you up with a permanent address later," Xander suggested.
"Cool," Faith said, trying to cover just how happy she was to get out of the motor lodge.
"So, why is your backseat covered in Vaseline anyway?" she asked.
"The pattern is twisted," a male voice announced.
"This was unforeseen," a female voice replied.
"We need some way to ensure he plays his role despite his distance from Summers. A rewind perhaps?"
"I've got an idea!" a voice with a heavy Brooklyn accent quickly burst in.
"Acceptable," the two chorused after a quick explanation.
Faith sat in the backseat, very glad she wore black leather and dark clothes as they wouldn't get stained by the Vaseline.
Xander swerved, sending Faith sliding across the seat as he nailed another blue demon.
"Two points!" Lisa cheered.
Despite the layer of Vaseline on her Faith couldn't help but laugh. "This has got to be the funnest way to hunt demons ever."
Xander grinned. "Detroit steel trumps demonic evil."
"Was this one of the ideas they said was too dangerous?" Lisa asked.
"Yep, they said it was too easy to make a mistake and run over a human. I suggested having the person riding shotgun wear thermal goggles so they could tell the driver who was a vampire and who wasn't, but then they worried that I'd run over Angel."
"Angel?" Lisa asked.
"A vamp B is dating," Faith replied with a shrug.
"She's dating a vamp?"
"Has a soul thanks to a gypsy curse," Xander explained.
"But you said vampires are all demonically animated corpses," Lisa complained.
"Yeah, and?" Faith asked, wondering what she was getting at.
"So she's screwing a corpse."
Xander and Faith looked nauseous for a moment.
Xander sighed. "The whole undead thing kinda blurs the line there. It has some … form of life I guess, but basically you're right."
Faith nodded. "It's why they're called undead and not just dead; I guess someone told her to go have a long cold one and chill the fuck out and she took it literally."
The two in the front seat burst out laughing.
Faith looked around the place wide eyed; sure Xander had said he had a safe house set up but she'd half expected an old trailer in the woods or a hidden room in a warehouse; not this.
Xander hummed to himself as he made sure he hadn't left anything in the house that could go bad the last time he was here.
Faith and Lisa stared at the giant flatscreen monitor that took up an entire wall of the living room in awe.
"I didn't know they made them that big," Faith said reverently.
"They don't," Lisa said. "My dad was pricing them last week and came across an article showing the World's Largest TV and it wasn't half this big."
"Its gotta be fake," Faith said, slowly reaching for the remote.
Xander stepped into the living room just as Faith hit the power button and the TV came on.
*BOOM CHICKA NOW WOW*
The three teens turned bright red as they watched the action on screen.
"Life sized porn," Faith said in awe.
"If I find a guy willing to do that I'm keeping him," Lisa said firmly.
"Got that right," Faith agreed.
"Only if you're willing to do that," Xander said, pointing at the screen.
"Not a problem," Faith said confidently.
Lisa nodded. "Fair's fair."
"House tour or watch the rest?" Xander asked distractedly.
"Does this thing have a record function?" Lisa asked.
Xander nodded. "Yeah, red button bottom right."
Faith hit record and turned off the giant TV. "How in the world did you get this place? Why does it have the biggest TV in the world and why haven't you been living here?"
"Offlined the original owner; the sociopathic android named Ted. He built all sorts of stuff and while Willow was my friend I had to follow certain rules," he replied.
Before Faith could ask, Lisa collapsed to her knees, holding her head and whimpering.
"Shit, you ok?" Faith asked as she and Xander helped the girl to the couch.
"Feels like someone hit me in the head with a bat," Lisa whimpered. "I saw Faith in a library with an axe saving a girl from a bunch of tentacles and Xander was in the boiler room convincing Psycho-Jack not to blow something up and then everything went fuzzy."
"Blurry?" Faith asked.
"No, fuzzy... lots of brown fur."
"That was a vision," a Brooklyn accented voice said, as the TV came on; showing a weasely looking guy with a bowler hat.
"What?" the three chorused, staring at the TV.
"I'm Whistler, I work for the Powers that Be," he explained, stepping out of the TV screen.
"Demon!" Faith said, instinctively moving in front of Lisa.
"Balance demon," he quickly explained. "I'm a servant of the ones above, if you get my drift."
"What do you want?" Xander demanded.
"Nothing," Whistler quickly replied. "The guys upstairs know you hate prophesy so they figured you'd be a lot happier if someone just gave you an explanation."
"Got a point there," Faith admitted, relaxing a little.
Xander nodded and he and Faith moved aside so Lisa could see.
"The Powers that Be make huge plans that suck on a personal level, but prevent the end of everything," Whistler admitted.
"That explains things," Xander said, thinking of the ups and downs of being in the Scooby gang.
"Now the future for you three that was laid out sucked, but it prevented at least a dozen end of the world events," Whistler explained. "Xander was supposed to be the Slayer's loyal lapdog; basically ignored but pulling off some impressive stuff that nobody noticed and getting kicked in the heart repeatedly until ending up with a much younger girl who was literally created to love him."
"I have mixed feelings about all of that," Xander admitted after a moment's thought.
"Faith, you were supposed to be patrolling with Buffy when she tosses you vamps to stake; but one turns out to be human and you kill him. You get all the blame and try to kill Xander, because you don't trust guys who sleep with you, so you end up joining the latest villain, almost killing Angel and then end up in a coma when Buffy tries to gut you."
"At least you almost kill Angel," Xander said comfortingly while he patted a pale Faith on the shoulder.
"How can you be joking when I try to kill you and go all evil?" Faith exclaimed.
"Because now that you know you can avoid it," Xander said seriously. "So no sex for you and when patrolling with Buffy don't trust her to throw you just vamps."
"Ok," Faith said, calming down as she realized she could have a different future.
"Lisa you were destined to be killed and turned at the Bronze next weekend. Not a great end true, but at least it wasn't too bad and you were good enough to go upstairs."
"Ok, all our futures were kind of dim," Lisa said, rubbing her temples.
"And now, they're pretty much up in the air; except if you don't do certain things the world still goes boom. So the idea was this; we give you a seer so you know what you need to do, and we grant you all a minor boon for the service."
"I didn't expect the people up top to be so reasonable," Xander said, shocked.
"Normally they aren't; but I pointed out that since we are a bit pressed for time, hiring you three to keep the world spinning was a lot easier than rewinding time and hoping it'd all work out the way they planned a second time."
"Suddenly I feel like Costco," Xander said. "The discount store for all your world saving needs."
Whistler chuckled. "Exactly, why use brute force and violate causality when free will and bribery works?"
"Whats a boon?" Lisa asked.
"Minor wish," Xander explained.
"No bringing back the dead, wishing for more wishes, or huge world changes. We're going cheap here for something you'd do anyway, but I wanted to build up some credit because it's not an easy job."
"Good call," Faith agreed.
"So, what do you want?" Whistler asked.
"Amy!" Xander said instantly, making the girls stare at him.
"How do you mean?" Faith demanded.
"Amy is a friend of mine who had a spell backfire on her and turn her into a rat. She's been a rat for a month and no one has made any progress toward turning her back. I want Amy turned back into a human."
Whistler tilted his head to the side as if listening to something for a moment. "Granted, you now have the ability to break spells with a kiss."
"Disney fan?" Xander asked with a grin.
"I've been given a certain amount of power for each boon; using widely known or premade patterns helps me stretch things further," Whistler replied. "Ok... and I like Disney."
"So, she's like a real good friend?" Faith asked, trying to figure out how close someone would have to be for her to give up an honest to god wish for them.
"Not really, but she is a friend and I owe her a favor," he replied, thinking about how he'd blackmailed her to perform a love spell.
"I wish I could understand people," Faith muttered, her eyes shooting open a moment later as she realized what she'd done. "And had magical powers!" she quickly added.
"Granted! Gifts of tongue and empathy, so you'll always understand what people say and what they're not saying. You managed to squeeze in the addition at the last second, but you'll have to figure them out on your own," Whistler said.
"I want to be able to step in and out of the TV," Lisa said, surprising everyone.
"Granted! That's got a lot of limitations that you'll have to discover on your own as well," Whistler warned. "Well, it's been nice meeting you all good luck and go save the world!" he said vanishing.
"Ok, well I guess I'm off to stop Jack from blowing up the school while Faith keeps the gang alive. Lisa, you get some rest; you've earned it," Xander said.
Faith was surprised to find that she could tell Xander meant everything he'd just said.
"I will, you guys be careful," Lisa replied.
Faith raised an eyebrow as Lisa blushed and pushed them out the door. "Have fun storming the castle!"
As the door closed the door behind them Xander looked over at Faith. "What was that all about?"
"Naked TV fun time with her new powers," Faith guessed.
"I wonder if she can take someone else in with her?" Xander said thoughtfully as they climbed into the car.
"Bad Xander!" Faith said sternly, smacking him in the arm.
"Oww!" Xander complained, pretending his shoulder hurt. "Ok, I wonder if she can take two people in with her?"
"Good verging on great Xander," Faith decided after a moment, feeling a mixture of humor, lust and genuine affection coming from him.
Grinning evilly he said, "Or you two could go while I watch."
Faith shivered. "Empath here! If you don't stop I'm going to take you here and now and then the world will end because we were too busy screwing."
"Right!" Xander said.
Faith was shocked at the amount of lust he'd managed to just shrug off, and struggled not to blush at the admiration he was projecting at her.
"Tally ho!" He cried, starting the car with a little effort.
AN: Guess who typed this up for me?