The Zeppo: Aftermath
(A Bomb and an Explosive)
(A Divergent Destiny Story )
(Set WAY After A Single Step in the Divergent Destinies Chronology )
(Set Directly After The Zeppo in the TV Series)
Written by IceWing (icewing@one.net)

The final school bell had rung about twenty minutes earlier, and as usual, the halls of SunnyDale High were now as empty as many of the graves around town. The Scooby Gang, most members still visibly bruised from the night before, sat at one of the tables in the lower area.

"Well, not surprising, no students, or faculty for that matter, came by today, so it looks as if we will be able to repair the rest of the damage from last night's encounter." Giles paused as he surveyed the now mostly cleaned up debris, as well as the patch job done on the flooring. For some odd reason, the school maintenance staff had not batted an eye as he had requisitioned several sheets of plywood, a trolley of floor joists and enough nails to put up a house. "I have made a good start on the work, but we need to dispose of several demonic corpses, as well as obtain the remaining supplies needed for repairs." He handed a list to Willow and Buffy, asking them to run out to the magic shop for the supplies needed for the body disposal spell. Meanwhile, he would drive back to his flat and retrieve the spell book which he had left next to the tea kettle that morning.

"Wouldn't it be faster for you to walk home?" quipped Buffy. "I mean, your car lost to the tortoise."

Ignoring the resultant snickers, Giles continued that Faith had spoken with him earlier, and that she would try and swing by before dark.

"Typical," muttered Willow. "We get to do all the clean up while Faith is probably out there, acting all, you know" She paused for a heartbeat, trying to come up with the right word. "Well, you know"

Buffy grinned. "Come on Will. Let's go get Oz to give us a lift. Catch ya Xand." And with that, the two young women were gone.

"Umm, Giles, not that I mind the lack of shopping related hell, but is there anything I can do?"

From his office, where he was retrieving his keys, Giles responded that he would greatly appreciate it if Xander could have the remainder of the wreckage piled neatly for disposal. And then, he too was gone.

As the main doors were swinging closed behind Giles, Faith was entering the library through the door in the stacks. Moving quietly, she padded towards the front of the bookshelves, hoping to make a stylish entrance with some witty comment, but to her disappointment, the only person standing below was Xander.

He stood there for a moment in disbelief, then sighed. Childishly, he kicked at a piece of rubble on the floor, sending it spinning across the room.

From her vantage point, Faith watched as Xander dropped down on one of the intact chairs and stared at the doors. She knew that the constant rejection and isolation from the rest of the gang was taking its toll on him. But, unlike the rest of the gang, she knew that he wasn't going to give up and walk away, so that all they were going to achieve by trying to protect him was to hurt him in a different way. She was about to say something, but stopped as Xander spoke, apparently to himself.

"Normal guy, once again abandoned by the super friends, debates on what flavor jelly donuts he should pick up next time." He shook his head and sighed, kicking again at another piece of rubble. "Decoy, Sex and donut runs Woohoo. And considering how fast she ran me off "

Faith winced as she heard the pain and resignation in his voice. Thoughts of the night before danced across her mind. He'd saved her life, when he was supposed to be safely out of the loop. And then, she'd dragged him back to the hotel and had her way with him. It had been pretty damn enjoyable as well, better than the other three guys she'd been with. Unlike them, Xander had wanted to make sure she enjoyed herself as well, once his initial shock had worn off. With a little bit of practice, she was pretty sure he'd be breathtaking, in more ways than one.

And then, as they both had lay there in the afterglow, she'd panicked. She had felt herself wanting to wrap her arms around him and just lay there, knowing he wouldn't push her away or act like she was damaged goods. She'd been hurt too many times before. So, she lashed out, pushing him away, and out the door in his boxers, before things could get too out of control. Before she let some of her defenses down and was honest about her feelings, to Xander, or perhaps more dangerously, to herself.

She started to move forward, to say something to him. But before she could take that first step out of the shadows, Xander began talking to himself again.

"Well, at least its clear enough for my first try at bomb disposal duty. And today, unlike last night, I'll be the only one getting blown up as opposed to the whole gang."

The dark haired Slayer stopped, confused. 'What was he talking about?' she wondered as she watched him stop and grab his backpack before heading out the main library doors. A curious look on her face, she vaulted the railing and landed silently on the floor below, then stealthily padded after him.

A few moments later, Faith was standing outside the door of the boiler room. This was a part of the school that Faith had never been in, but from his quick path, it seemed rather clear that Xander had been here before. She slid into the shadows opposite the door, but the vantage point sucked. From inside the room, she could hear Xander dragging something, apparently metal and heavy, across the floor.

"Stupid fucking zombie punks. No, don't use diesel fuel, easily available from school supplies. Brain dead idiots had to set their little bomb on a drum of freaking jet fuel."

"Bomb?" Faith whispered to herself in shock and horror. There'd been a bomb, and Xander had something to do with it?

"And, with a lousy three seconds left on the timer Ok, now that I think about it" Xander sat down heavily on a convenient crate. "Jesus Christ. I was three seconds away from being blow to paste. And about a tenth of a second later, the gang would have been blown to pieces and the hellmouth stayed open. Or would the blast have killed it as well" Xander sighed, as not for the first time since last night, he started to come a bit unglued at the events he had faced. Sitting there in silence for a couple of moments, he just sat, staring at the bomb.

Outside, from her hidden niche, Faith felt a cold sweat pass over her body. Seemed like a lot more had gone down last night that anybody had suspected. And Xander had been there, when nobody else was. She recalled Giles' words earlier, as he had mentioned that Xander had been wandering around like his usual irresponsible self in one of the cemeteries, but that he had not stopped to properly chastise the boy. Faith suspected that Xander hadn't been idly wandering around, but beyond that, she wasn't sure. Add that to Buffy's rude comments about how Xander had interrupted her and Angel, and Faith was pretty sure that he'd been trying to get some help. And he was blown off in order to 'keep him safe'. Shaking her head, Faith muttered that somebody really enjoyed all the ironies this town produced.

Sounds of Xander moving again knocked Faith from her revere. "Blue wire or red wire. Blue or red. Mel, don't fail me now." Those words, coupled with the knowledge that there was a bomb in there, one possibly stopped seconds away from detonation, caused the east coast Slayer to swallow heavily. "Red. No Wait, Blue!" muttered Xander just before she heard the snip of wire cutters. A moment later, he spoke again. "Boom," he said with a laugh. "Boom. Well... I'm still here That's of the good right?" The sigh he let out just screamed emotional overload. "Forget about it man. Forget about her... You go all gooey on her, she'll just avoid you like everybody else does. Just..." He sighed again. "I wish she... Ahh nuts." There was a loud thump, similar to the sound that a fist would make as it slammed into a metal drum, instantly followed by Xander cursing loudly. "Shit that hurts!" After few seconds, the muttering faded. Faith could hear him walking back and forth in the boiler room. "Damn you Jack, now, I have to get a bomb and a 55 gallon drum of jet fuel out of here.... How the hell am I going to get a fifty five gallon drum of jet fuel out of here?"

"Who the hell is Jack?" wondered Faith.

Xander stepped out of the boiler room a moment later, zipping up a now considerably bulkier backpack. Treating it with a healthy dose of caution, he set the backpack down by the door leading back towards the stairs, then retreated back into the boiler room. Faith looked at the backpack, sitting about twenty feet from her. Through the doorway, she heard him wrestling with what she guessed was the drum of jet fuel. She had to know As only a slayer could, she quickly moved across the room, praying Xander wouldn't come out and see her. With a slow pull, she opened the zipper. To her ears, the sound was as loud as thunder, but she knew the dragging of the drum across the concrete would mask it. Lifting the flap, she looked in and saw the contents.

Although she wasn't an explosives expert, she'd seen enough TV and movies to know that if Xander hadn't stopped it last night, the bomb would have blown her into the next life. "Crap," she whispered. "BoyToy saved my life twice in one night, and I treated him like shit."

She noted that the battery was completely cut away from the rest of the device, but that otherwise, it looked like it was a very functional, very deadly, bomb. Zipping the backpack shut again, Faith padded back to the stairs and high tailed it back to the library. As she exited the basement, she heard Xander's voice echoing down the corridor.

"Maybe if I just leave it here, no one would notice..."

Twenty minutes later, she was perched on upper railing as Xander came into the library. She watched as he walked in, carrying the bomb safely in his backpack. As soon as he set it down, she spoke. "Hey Xan-Man."

Xander jumped and spun. "Geez Faith, you taking lessons from DeadBoy or something? Can't you like, clear your throat or cough or something?"

"Well, I could, but I prefer to purr so much more" With a sultry grin on her face, she hopped down from the railing and approached him. "Look, about last night"

"Don't worry, I won't say a word to anybody. I won't embarrass you by telling anybody." He looked down at the floor. "Sorry I screwed things up last night."

Faith was a bit confused as she asked him what the hell he meant.

"Well, I mean. It was pretty obvious that I screwed something up. I mean, you Well, you took Crap" He looked up, meeting her eyes. "I mean I didn't... you didn't seem to... you know. Umm and then I am out on my ass so... I thought that I didn't ... uhm never mind."

Faith laughed. "BoyToy, you've got it all wrong. You've got some good gear, and a nice touch... Give yourself a few more races and the ladies will be lining up." She smiled, adding silently to herself, that she'd be the first and only, if 'But a guy like you doesn't deserve damaged goods,' she thought.

"But as enjoyable as last night was, for both of us, what I was going to say was. About last night, have any problems with the Zombies?"

Xander froze for a second. "Umm. What do you mean? I was just enjoying a quiet night drive alone last night when I saw you being chased by that she demon. Then, after I, I mean, after we Well, then I went home."

Faith grinned like a cat watching a canary. "That's not what I heard. Nobody else bothered, but I tend to stop by the Alibi Room on the way back to my" There was an almost imperceptible pause, before she finished, "room. And from the word on the street, you had a little running run in with some zombie gang."

He looked at her for a second, then his shoulders slumped. "Shit."

"Blackmail is such an ugly word," she said with a wicked smile. "But I'm hungry."

Realizing that he was beat, Xander gave in without a fight. "First, you've got to promise me that you won't say a word about the whole zombie thing, or running down that demon either, to anybody. I don't need the grief about I should have stayed out of it."

"Done."

"Well, I guess we're off to dinner then." He sighed, muttering about how a dinner, even one for a Slayer, wasn't a bad price to pay for not getting lectured about how he wasn't able to hold his own.

"One dinner? Hell Xan-Man, I figure this is good for a week at least."

Shaking his head and cursing the hellmouth, Xander grabbed his backpack, forgetting for a moment of the bomb inside, and held the door for her. "Come on Faith, your chariot awaits."


Return to Divergent Destinies Home