“ALEXANDER LAVELLE HARRIS, IF YOU'RE ALIVE WHY DID YOU NOT ANSWER THE PHONE LAST NIGHT?!! Do you know how many messages I left on your machine? Is it something to do with being from the British Isles or dating someone from there because god knows Wes and Gunn can't answer a phone either and I doubt if Angel even knows how you use a phone that isn't a rotary dial. You had better be alive when Fred and I get to Sunnydale, mister, or you're going to have an extremely angry ex-girlfriend pissing on your grave! Don't even think about going to work today either. You’re not going to like what you hear, and I should know because I'm the lucky girl who gets visions that blow out the back of my head. Happy happy, joy joy.”
The answering machine clicked off while Cordelia was in full rant mode and Xander slammed his head on the door. He hurt all over from patrol last night and he had overslept thanks to Spike blowing his mind away with really great man sex. Who knew having a finger up your ass would feel so good?
Now, of course, he was paying the consequences. Namely the fact that no one, not even Dawn, had checked for messages last night and now they had Cordy coming to town, mad as hell. Great.
It was early Monday morning and the house was quiet. Even Dawn wasn't moving around yet and Xander was wishing he hadn't gotten out of bed either. As he picked up the phone to call in to work, he made a mental note to go out and buy lots of coffee and stock up on chocolate. If Cordelia and Fred were going to end up staying with them in the house, if only for a night or two, and they had a new Big Bad in town at the same time, Xander would need all the chocolaty goodness he could get.
It was odd, opening up the Magic Box again. The shelves and racks were all covered with drop cloths and there was a musty, unused smell to the place. It had only been closed up for just over a month but it seemed...sad.
“My god. It looks like the dust bunnies had an orgy.”
“Dawn!” He wanted to chastise the teen about the orgy reference but Xander had to agree. The floor had a good coating of dust and all the drop cloths were gray with it. Instead he walked to the back door to unlock it so that Spike could get in safely.
“Tell me again why you're dragging my arse out into the daylight instead of just having everyone over to the house?” Spike was seriously not happy about the whole daylight issue. Xander was going to have to do some serious making up to his...whatever Spike was. Boyfriend.
Then again, Xander thought about last night and decided it might be fun.
He shook his head and made a mental note to never think of Spike and sex in the same room as Dawn. “Well, I for one do not want Deadboy in our house. Besides, I've got a really bad feeling about Cordy's visit.”
Spike snorted. “You're just afraid that the Prom Queen is going to take you to task for not calling back sooner.”
“Spike, I've known Cordy nearly all my life. When she wants to be, she can be just as vindictive as Drusilla or Anya. And that's without the demonic influence. Of course I'm afraid of her. I may not be the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree, but I'm not totally stupid.”
“Guess we'll see about that, luv, because the bint just pulled up.”
Xander hurried to open the door for Cordy and Fred and put a big smile on his face. “Ladies! So nice to see you! And Cordelia, I'm sorry we didn't get any of your messages. There were a lot of fledges last night and, well, one thing led to another and...”
“Don't even try to suck up to me, Xander Harris! For one thing, even after my and Anya's training you are pathetic at it; for another, if any of you people remembered that we live in a time when cell phones work, you would have known you were about to walk into an ambush. You'd think someone who is as big a geek as you are would have one of those flip phones so you can pretend you're calling the Rocketship Endeavor or something.”
“It's the Starship Enterprise!”
Cordy huffed and put her giant purse down on the table. “Do I look like I'm that big a loser? No, therefore I don't know crap like that. Where are Wes and the guys?”
“They're coming; Angel wanted to check out the tunnels after last night. And hey, if Angel wants to walk through sewage, who am I to stop him? Hey, Fred!”
The small brunette looked out through her hair. “Hi, Xander. I'm glad y'all aren't dead. Well, Spike's dead but, well, you know what I mean.”
“Thanks, ducks. Sit down and get comfortable. Or have a looksey under the sheets. Most of the books that require a big brain have been moved to the house but you might find something interesting.”
Fred nodded and went to look around as Cordelia grumbled about the dust and the lack of refreshments. Soon there was noise from the back room and Xander went to open the door for the others. Gunn and Wes came in first, both looking rumpled, and then Angel ran in, slightly smoking from his exposure to the sun.
“Oh, please tell me the two of you weren't making out in the underground. That's just gross!”
Gunn made a disgusted sound. “I wish. There was some sorta demon down there. English said it doesn't attack humans but we had to take a detour for some reason.”
“The gruanksh feasts on human waste. I, for one, did not wish to see such a thing this early in the morning.”
Xander screwed up his face. “Oh, ewww! Thank you for the lovely mental image, Wes. That's just ick.”
“You're telling me. This town is seriously fucked up; you know that, right?”
“Duh. Tell us something we don't know, Gunn. It's remarkable just how normal I am considering the environment. Hell, even Xander is somewhat normal...”
“Hey!” Xander gave his ex a dirty look which Cordy ignored. Instead, she glared everyone in the room into submission.
“Now, sit down all of you and shut the hell up. I had three, count them, three visions last night which you morons would have known if you'd had something more than a tin can and some string to use for communication. I even got Phantom Dennis to try to talk to Dawn since he knows her from when she stayed at my apartment, but he couldn't come this far without help. The first vision was the cemetery last night. Glad to see you all survived.”
“The second vision was about you, Xander. Your construction company has been hired to rebuild the high school. In exactly the same spot. They've been paid off by a certain law firm, I think. At least that's what it sounded like. Someone told them that you were one of the ones who helped blow up the old school. Today at work there was going to be a little “accident”.”
Xander could almost feel the blood rushing from his head. “Oh, fuck.”
Spike growled and stood up, pacing around the back of the room before turning and hitting the wall. Xander winced at the sound and no one said anything, not even Angel, which was a good thing at the moment.
Cordelia came and put a hand on his shoulder. “Xan, calm down. It's not the first time someone's been out for your head, it's just...you've been in the 'Dale most of the time and as far as they know you're the last of the Core Scoobies here. So you're on the top of their hit list at the moment, but it's not going to happen.”
“You're too damn right it's not gonna happen. Bloody wankers. Haven't got the balls to attack us themselves, got to do it underhanded. I'll show them underhanded. We'll see how brave they are when I'm ripping out their fucking intestines and shoving them down their throats.”
Wes, Gunn and Fred all looked slightly sickened at that but both Dawn and Cordelia looked as if they were ready to back Spike up. It was times like these that Xander was glad he'd worked at patching up his friendship with Cordelia.
Dawn scooted her chair closer to him. “Don't worry, Xan, I've got all these nifty Slayer powers now. I'll protect you.”
Xander groaned. He'd always hated it that Buffy had been the one to protect him in high school, and now it was her little sister doing the protecting. Not an image that went well with his manhood. Still, what could he say? “Thanks, Dawnie. It's not the whole death thing that's bothering me. I'm going to have to quit my job, and I bet they'll make it difficult for me to get a new one. I mean, if they can't kill me they can make it impossible for me to stay in town, you know? We have bills, a mortgage...”
Spike came over and gave him a quick but hard kiss that left him breathless. “Don't worry 'bout that; I have a few ideas that'll work. Between that and getting Percy to hire you here when he takes over the shop, we'll be okay.”
Xander gave his lover a lopsided smile. “Just please, don't tell me if it involves kittens, okay?”
Angel decided to stick his nose in at that point. “Just what is your idea, William?”
“Ordinarily I'd say it's none of your bloody business, Liam, but since I know you’d just stick your fat arse in where it doesn't belong anyway, I'll just ask you to help. That trinket, the Gem of Amara, that you and the Prom Queen here took from me last year wasn't the only thing I found. Lots of other baubles, should be able to sell a few bits and bobs a year and be able to live off it for a good long time. Who knows, might be something else down there that the Watcher can use to protect the Bit.”
“That treasure doesn't belong to you, Spike.”
Spike snorted and fumbled around in his jeans for a cigarette. “Who the fuck cares? The proper owner is a set of bones moldering in a box. He don't need it where he is and we do. Enough there to set us all up for life, even get the birds here a tiara or two.”
Cordy perked up at that. “Tiara? Did you say tiara? I am so in on this plan. And if you think you're not helping Angel, I am fully prepared to tell Spike all about a certain party for lawyers and what you did last year. You'll never hear the end of it. Besides, it's obvious from my vision that the Powers want me in Sunnydale too, and if you think I'm paying my own money out for movers, you've had one too many blows to the head.”
Whatever Cordelia meant must have been a big deal because both Gunn and Wes turned to glare at the now brooding vampire. Spike raised his eyebrow but didn't say anything. They'd find out eventually and for now Cordy had gotten the ass off their backs.
Xander had forgotten all about the Gem of Amara thing but if Spike said there was stuff there, well, he was all for it. It wasn't as if the treasure was doing anyone any good sitting in the ground somewhere. If it was just him, or just him and Spike, he wouldn't have bothered - they could get along fine - but they had Dawn to worry about. After everything that had happened, the young girl needed the stability of her home.
“Right. Enough moping. Third vision. Hasn't happened yet, I don't think. I'm not sure. Five or six vamps were dragging people into some sort of cave or underground. It was too dark to see but they were more, I dunno, more efficient than normal vamps. Organized. Looks like we've got a major Big Bad trying to take over again.”
There were groans all around and Dawn kicked at the table. “I hope we don't have another Apocalypse. I mean, I'm starting school in a week. It's bad enough that I had to go to summer school but I'll never have time for a social life with an Apocalypse.”
Gunn looked at her as if she were insane. “The woman's talking about the end of the world and you're worried about getting a date?”
Cordy was the one who stepped up to defend Dawn, oddly enough. “Hey, the end of the world happens more than you even want to think about. If it happens, it happens. If we survive, though, a good social standing is a must, especially since this is Dawn's last year in middle school. She has to end the year at the top of the class in all ways if she even has a chance of being a person of note when she gets to high school next year. You don't think I became the Queen of Sunnydale High by the young age of 15 by sitting on my ass, do you?”
Gunn shook his head. “You people are fucked in the head. I think the Hellmouth must melt brain cells or something.”
Xander opened his mouth to deny it but found he couldn't, not really. Instead he looked at Gunn and shrugged. “You'll get used to it.”
“Yeah, that's what I'm afraid of.”
Xander was getting tired of Angel's Looming. He supposed the Looming was a talent that Deadboy needed to practice to go with his whole angsty, tortured fighter for the side of good, but couldn't he do it somewhere else? Did he have to sit on the stairs and watch him and Spike make out?
Maybe Angel was just a big perv. After all, he couldn't get his rocks off the normal way anymore so maybe he got his thrills by watching.
“Spike, are you sure you're going to be okay going back into the tunnels? I mean, if vamps are dragging people underground there might be a lot of them.”
“Nah, me and Peaches can handle it. Push comes to shove, I'll throw his lard arse at the bad guys and run like hell the other way.”
Xander laughed and pulled Spike closer to him. He was sitting behind Giles' old desk, getting ready to plan out what they needed to do to re-open the store. It was still daylight and Dawn had dragged Fred out with her to show her Sunnydale while the others had gone back to LA to pack up their things, close up the Hyperion for now and all the other fun things that needed to be accomplished. Fred was staying to keep Dawn company and Angel was staying to make sure that Spike didn't snap and kill everyone in their sleep.
Xander couldn't help but smirk. That was going to be difficult since they'd done a new uninvite spell not long after Joyce's death and Angel still wasn't able to come in the house. Xander could just see the bastard trying to climb in the window in what used to be Buffy's room and get bounced off the wards.
Maybe he could set up a video camera outside?
“Someone's thinking evil thoughts.” Spike's voice dropped down a tone or two and it made Xander shiver.
“Mmmm-hmmm. Guess you're being a bad influence on me.”
“Who, me? I'm totally innocent.”
Angel snorted in disdain from the stairs but they both ignored him. Instead Xander leaned forward to whisper in Spike's ear. “You know, if you fess up to leading me down the path of debauchery, you can debauch me later tonight when you get home.”
Spike pulled him into a quick kiss, their tongues sliding against each other. It left Xander hard and breathless as Spike pulled away. “Sounds like a plan to me, luv. Just let me get this errand done and I'll debauch you all you like.” Spike paused and pulled away for a moment. “Although if we're gonna do too much, we should have asked Percy to use his mojo to soundproof our bedroom.”
Xander felt himself blush. “Note to self: if you find the treasure, I'm buying stuff to soundproof the walls myself. Not that I don't trust Wes, but I'd feel a lot happier knowing there are mundane barriers too.” God. Was it possible to die of embarrassment?
Spike ran a comforting hand through his hair. “Don't worry, Xan, it'll all work out.”
“Yes, I bloody well promise, and you know me, I keep my promises. To you, at least.”
Suddenly Angel was there, Looming in person. “Shut it, William, and let's go. I'm not in the least bit happy with this harebrained idea of yours so I'd like to get it over as soon as possible.”
“Fuck you, Angelus. You're gonna tell me that after over two hundred years you don't have money stashed away somewhere that you're too fucking guilty to use?”
“God, can you two go out and fight or something? The store can't stand to have you two get into one of your fights. Better yet, go kill something. The one with the biggest dead demon count wins.”
“What do we win, Xan?” Spike came back to leer at him and Xander got up and pressed a quick kiss to his lips.
“You get a night of ecstasy. Deadboy gets twenty-four hours of me actually calling him by his name.”
Before Spike could say anything, Angel picked him up by the back of the neck and was headed out to the back door. “Xander, you've got a deal!”
As they left, Xander had to chuckle. If Angel wasn't such an asshole, he'd be entertaining. He just hoped the vampires wouldn't hurt each other too much.
He sat back down and tried to find order forms to figure out what they'd need to re-open. An hour went by in relative peace until the phone rang. Without paying too much attention, Xander picked it up. “Magic Box, can I help you?”
There was a pause before a familiar voice with a mid-western accent answered. “Xander?”
Xander slouched back in his chair. “Riley.”
Just to let y'all know, Suki and I are taking a month off to enjoy the holidays and all that jazz. We promise we'll pick up from here after the new year starts! Have a good holiday season!