Buffy stood in front of her mirror and pulling her hair in to a ponytail. One part of her was excited to be going out on patrol. Getting back in to action was just what she needed but the other part of her was dreading having to work with Xander. When Giles explained to her that she would be joining his crew she was less then thrilled. She wasn't about to give him the satisfaction of her changing her mind. That would be playing right in to his hands. She opened the weapons chest and figured she would be on her way.
Xander was standing at the loading dock with his clipboard in hand. As each girl showed up he checked her off. Nikki was the last one to arrive. The clock had hit 8 o'clock and Xander looked at the list. Everyone was there except for Buffy. He was used to this happening with the girls and he had a plan in place. Gina was the alternate on stand by ready to fill in. "Gina get in to the van you are filling Buffy's spot."
A quick hush fell through the van as Gina climbed in. Xander pulled out the keys and hopped behind the wheel. They were gone a few seconds later and 2 minutes after that a certain blonde slayer showed up standing in the loading dock wondering where everyone was,
Xander pulled in to the graveyard and showed everyone the attack plan for the night. He made sure to point out any of the spots that might be vulnerable and where the rumored nest and demon activity was taking place.
The team was efficient and effective. Xander's battle strategy couldn't have been planned any better. They had taken out a 4 vamps and 1 demon. The girls worked together and everything had gone according to Xander's plan. Just after 2 in the morning Xander decided to call it a night. Noxi was helping Xander with weapons inventory checking off all the weapons before they left the graveyard.
He turned to the girls as they were ready to get in the van. "Okay all of you did really good tonight. Any night we all come back alive is a good night. Any night we all come back with no injuries that are a great night. Just a few quick notes and we will get back to the school. Vi you handled the demon nicely but when you are fighting make sure and give yourself a couple body lengths between you and your attacker. Remember demons can attack in ways people can't. They have quills and spears or gas or a million different ways they can hurt you if you get to close."
Vi nodded taking the advice. "I'll remember that boss man."
Xander looked back to his clip board. "Noxi amazing on the crossbow. You are an artist."
Noxi blushed a little and smiled. "Thank you."
Xander turned to Gina. "Lastly thank you Gina for filling in on the fly. It isn't always easy to make adjustments on the fly but you handled it well." He clapped his hands together. "Okay well everyone get in the van we are heading back."
Back at the base Buffy was fuming with anger. She tapped her foot waiting for Xander to return. Finally just before 3 she heard Brittany in the hall. She knew Brittany was on Xander's squad. Her door flew open and she looked to her.
"Where is Harris?'
Brittany was a little taken back and surprised by the outburst. She stuttered at first. "I think he's cleaning up before bed." She pointed to the hall "East wing locker room."
Nothing more was said she just angrily walked down the hall pissed not seeing anyone along the way. She was going to call Xander out once and for all and to hell with who ever got in her way.
The warm water hitting his body felt like a reward for a hard nights reward. A head full of shampoo and some body wash was all he really needed. Since the locker room was empty he belted out an old Nickelback tune. He was horribly out of tune but figured no one was listening.
He didn't hear the locker room door slam shut as Buffy came storming in. "HARRIS WHERE THE HELL ARE YOU." She came storming deeper in hearing Xander singing.
Xander turned around partially seeing Buffy standing at the edge of the shower. He suddenly felt very exposed "What the hell are you doing in here?"
"We are having this out. I don't care if you don't like me but this leaving me behind stuff. That is unacceptable." Xander quickly rinsed the soap off his body and hair and grabbed the towel wrapping it around himself.
"This is totally inappropriate. You can't just come storming in here."
Her anger had clouded her judgment so much that it just occurred to her what he was talking about. "Oh put your ego in check. It's not like I want to see you naked."
"You are unbelievable." He walked past her and picked his pajamas up off the bench.
"You left me tonight. I was supposed to be out there and you left me."
"You were late and we don't wait around."
"I was there at 8:02. It was 2 minutes."
"Well we left at 8:01. I run a tight ship. The girls know that. I am tough but fair. If you want something easier then pick a different squad."
"You'd love that wouldn't you. That way I'm the bad guy. I'm the one who can't cope or deal."
Xander walked past her and behind some lockers to change. She started to follow till he spun around. "Stay here so I can get dressed." Angry he started pulling the towel off and pulling his pj's on. "I know this may come as a shock to you but not everything in this world is about you. I treated you no different then I would have any of the other girls."
"I'm sure you bail on them all the time."
"Don't take my word for it go ask them if any of them have ever been left behind for being late." He laughed at her. "You know what is funny about all of this. You are pissed at me because you were supposed to go out on patrol with me but you got left behind. Doesn't feel good does it."
"So that's what this is all about. It's stupid vengeance to pay me back?"
"I put the needs of my team ahead any personal feelings."
"Right I believe that."
Xander stepped out dressed in his clean pj's looking at Buffy. "You know what I'm done. It's been a long night and I'm tired. You want to come out tomorrow that is fine I will find a place for you, if you are on time. You want to ask for another squad that is fine too. But I am too tired to fight. I am going to bed."
He started walking out and away from her. She stood there defiant and angry. "I don't see how we could have ever been friends. I'm glad I don't remember any of our friendship. "
The jab hurt Xander but he just kept walking. He walked out the door and to his room. He missed his friendship with his best friend and he hated fighting with her. A part of him wondered if he should have waited for her. Maybe working with her on patrol would have been a step in the right direction. What message would that send to the other girls though? Buffy Summers get preferential treatment. If he had any chance at calling her friend he needed to find a way to mend fences.
The next morning Buffy sat with Brittany and Veronica eating breakfast. She was fuming to the girls about being left behind. "You know what really pisses me off? He gives me this load about he did what he would have done with anyone else. It's such crap."
The two girls just listened but offered nothing one way or the other. Finally Veronica who was growing a little tired of hearing Buffy's whining stood up. "I think I'm full."
Brittany nodded in agreement. "Yeah I think I'm done here to."
Buffy could tell the girls were giving her the cold shoulder. "Was it something I said?"
Veronica looked to Buffy. "I like you Buffy. I just hear you bitching about Xander but I don't think you know what you are talking about. Brit have you ever been left behind by Xander."
She nodded "30 seconds late. I was even there as they were loading the van up. Xander told me to turn around that I was no longer needed for that night."
Buffy looked at her expecting sympathy. "So how is you two aren't pissed? You've both been in my place."
Veronica shrugged. "It's cause we've been in your place. Yeah Xander runs a tight ship but the thing is. It's an effective ship. He keeps us safe. He treats us with respect. Yeah he gives us orders but that's what a general is supposed to do. He leads his troops."
Brittany flipped her brunette hair over her shoulder. "And the thing is Buffy a lot of girls would want the spot you were given. So if you want to sit and rag on Xander then find two other people who are willing to listen cause we aren't. Come on Veronica."
The two left Buffy standing there a little dumb founded. Instead of reflecting on her own mistakes she shook her head only getting angrier. "Now he's turning the other slayers against me."
She showed up shortly later in the gym for some basic training routines. Giles was focusing today on balance and concentration. Soft music played as each slayer tried to find their center of focus. For the first time in days Buffy could feel herself calm.
When the session was done she grabbed a towel and wiped the sweat down and off her body. As she walked down the hallway she spotted Xander carrying his regular tool box. He picked up his pace and stepped to her.
"I am heading to my room in a few minutes to put together the patrol plan for tonight. Are you going to be joining us?"
"I chose to be on this squad and I don't quit. So yes I will be there."
"8 pm sharp."
"I'll be there." She growled.
With that Xander left her there and Buffy gritted her teeth angry. She grumbled about his nerve. "I betcha he was hoping I'd quit." She grabbed some clean clothes and stepped in to her bathroom. She pulled off her clothes and stepped in to the shower.
She clenched up putting her hand on the knob ready for the ice cold water . As she turned the knob a pleasant surprise hit her. The water wasn't cold. It was warm and even hot to the touch. She groaned in pleasure forgetting how good a hot shower could feel.
As good as the water felt it occurred to her that hot water heaters don't repair themselves. She thought back to a few minutes earlier and saw Xander with his tool box. The answer was clear. Despite the terrible things she had said to him he still took it upon himself and did something nice for her. A pang of guilt went through her and for the first time in a long time she had wondered if maybe she had judged him wrong.
She stayed in the shower for what seemed like forever and realized she would talk to him that night when she showed up for patrol.
Back in his room Xander had put his tools away and was again working on a flanking formation for the new graveyard they were going to that night. He figured Buffy probably discovered the hot water in her room by now. It was a small step but hopefully one in the right direction that could put them both back where they need to be.
At 7:40 Xander showed up in the loading dock with clipboard in hand. One by one he checked off all of the girls as they showed up. At 7:50 Buffy arrived in the dock ready to claim her place. Xander smiled at her. "Well my eyes must be deceiving me because here it is 10 minutes before go time and you are here and ready."
Buffy tried not to smile but it was too hard. "Just trying to set a good example."
"Glad to have you on the team." He checked off Buffy's name looking down at the clip board. Buffy approached his side whispering.
"I wanted to tell you thank you. You know for the hot water thing."
Xander continued staring at the clip board playing dumb. "Not sure what you are talking about."
"Sure you don't"
"I am going to pair you with Noxi tonight. She's good with a crossbow and you can handle anything up close."
"Sounds good. But there is one last thing."
"Last night was. Ya see it's like this. I am stubborn and sometimes I am my own worst enemy and I. What I am trying to say is."
Xander smiled knowing this Buffy had trouble with I'm sorry. "Buffy."
"Get your ass in the van."
She smiled and jumped in the back next to Noxi. As the last girl showed up 3 minutes early Xander hopped in the van. "Okay girls. I say we set this ship in motion. Let's find an adventure."