Hide and Seek
by: Maven Alysse
Summary: Sometimes, the only way to deal with a situation is to play the game.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer story
A/N: no particular season
Hide and Seek
The large living room area felt crammed with furniture and knick-knacks. Buffy kept jerking around, staring into dark corners, checking corners, glancing beneath furniture.
"What's wrong?" Willow asked.
"I feel like we're being watched. I keep seeing things out of the corner of my eye, but there's nothing there."
"Do you sense anything? Like a vamp or a demon nearby?" Xander asked, dark eyes concerned as he looked up from some papers lying on a desk in the corner.
"No... It's just ... I don't think we're alone here." She grasped her stake in a white-knuckled grip.
"Can you hear anything? Like an extra heartbeat or something?" Xander's gaze touched upon the various tapestries and large heavy furniture, the hair on the back of his neck raising in response to the Slayer's tension.
Buffy tried the suggestion but shook her head. "Nothing. No one's here but us."
Willow frowned, inching closer to Buffy. "Let's locate the office," she suggested, feeling unnerved. "Maybe the guy who summoned the Felowes demon left behind information on how to get rid of it."
The three crossed the large room. Xander's attention was caught by a painting of a wooded area that appeared empty, but upon closer inspection showed several children playing a game of hide and seek. He grinned, then jumped, startled at Willow's voice. "Xander! Let's go!"
He turned to see the other two at the threshold between rooms. Taking a step forward, he stopped as a drapery nearby twitched. "Buffy?"
Buffy stalked over. "I saw it, Xan." The Slayer stood in between the curtain and her friends; one hand reached out to pull the drape back, her stake ready to strike. With a swift movement, she tugged the cloth away to reveal ... nothing. "What the ... humn. Must have been the wind."
A giggle floated in the air. Willow joined them, peering suspiciously at the couch. "That the wind, too?"
"Sounds like someone's having fun." Xander suppressed a grin, his eyes scanning the rest of the room.
Movements out of the corner of their eyes and the shifting of tapestries, draperies, and furniture had the three investigating every corner. The giggles that filled the air as each place was unsuccessfully checked began to grate on the two young women. Both Willow and Buffy quickly became frustrated, their actions curt and showing their annoyance; their nervousness forgotten.
Xander was studying a floor to ceiling tapestry. A bulge showed, but it only came up to his chest, about the size of a child. "Gotcha." Pulling it aside, he let out a breath.
Willow scowled, "What do you think you're doing, Xander?"
"Um..." Xander blinked up at the Witch. "Playing Hide and Seek?"
"I'm tired of this." Buffy stood with her hands on her hips. "We're out of here." Buffy and Willow strode toward the entrance, but the door was locked. Putting their shoulders to the door did nothing, the heavy oak resisting them. Neither Buffy's strength, nor Willow's magic seemed to move it even an inch.
Xander thought he heard a sad sigh. "We can't leave, yet. We're not done."
Willow glared at the taller teen. "I'm through with this 'game,' Xander. We can probably find what we need back at the Library."
Xander stared at her a moment, then his face cleared and a smile brightened the room. "That's it. We've got to finish the game."
Buffy huffed, "You can't find someone who isn't there."
"Don't have to. Don't you guys remember how the game ends?" At their blank looks, Xander took a breath and chanted, "All in, all in, all in free."
Laughter, the clear bright laughter of a child echoed off the walls. "I win!" a whispered sigh reached them. The atmosphere in the room seemed to lighten and with a click door creaked open, a piece of paper drifted from the ceiling to land at Xander's feet.
Picking it up, he blinked at it. "I think this is what we were looking for." He handed it over to Willow.
Buffy and Willow exchanged surprised looks. Willow read the sheet and nodded. "Yup. This is it. We should be able to find everything we need back at the school. Staring at him for a moment, she rolled her eyes, "Only Xander," but a smile tugged at her lips. "Come on. We should hurry."
Buffy left, motioning for the others.
Xander glanced over his shoulder before leaving, giving a whispered, "Thanks." Then followed the girls out of the room.
revised and edited 2/7/2013
word count: 757