It always seemed to Xander that people thought of the oddest things before getting into a big fight. Here they were, about to storm an abandoned second rate burger place, and he was stuck listening to Cordy bitch about the fact that the flack jacket Fred had ordered made her ass look big. Xander was tempted to snap that her ass would be smaller if it was shot off, but he figured in a few moments he was going to risk his life fighting off a mess of vampires and he'd already pressed his luck with Gunn that afternoon, so there was no reason for him to goad his ex into trying out her stun baton on him.
Then again, Anya had always wanted to give him a BJ before they went into a big battle, while he liked to joke around. He figured everyone had different ways of dealing with stress, and Cordy's just happened to be fashion.
They were in the back of the truck, waiting for Wesley's signal to attack. He'd be handling spraying down the vamps with holy water while Cordelia tried out the new UV lights. Even if they didn't kill any vamps, their hope was they'd be able to slow down enough of the bad guys so they'd be able to take them out in a more conventional way.
Although Xander was really itching to find out if he could melt a vamp in holy water, like in that bad 80's movie. Too bad he didn't have enough to do it. Well, he doubted he did. He only had about fifty gallons of holy water and there were bunches of vamps.
"Hey, Cor? What do you call a group of vampires? A flock? A herd? A gross of vampires?"
Cordelia snorted. "How about a ton of dust? Although gross is good. And why do you care about being grammatically correct?"
"Why do you care about how big your butt looks in that outfit? Why are Gunn, Wes and Dawn on the other side of the parking lot arguing over what kind of music to put in the stereo so we can have a soundtrack for the big fight?"
"Because I actually care what I look like and the rest of you are freaks. I mean, whose idea was it to add music to this shindig?"
Xander shrugged. "It was a last minute idea of Angel's. He said something about not being able to track our heartbeats."
"God. I suppose it could be worse. It would be way embarrassing to go into a fight with the Best of Barry Manilow playing. All the vampires would laugh at us. Although I don't think anything by someone named Dog or Buster is appropriate either."
Xander opened his mouth and Cordy shot him an evil look. "And it's not going to be any of your geek music either, or that country crap. Although if we played the country music long enough, maybe they'd all get depressed and kill themselves for us. That would be of the good."
Again, Xander wondered what the hell they were doing. They were about to go to their doom while Gunn played gangster rap. He could only imagine what Spike was thinking. The two vampires were crammed in the trunk of the Angelmobile. Turned out the reason Deadboy drove that huge land whale of a convertible was that it had the most trunk space of any car made in the last fifty years and was a safe place for the vampire to shelter during the day. It even had an inner latch that someone could use to get out.
It probably wasn't safe for him right now, though. What might have been a roomy amount of space for just Angel was more than likely cramped when you shoved Spike in there as well. He was worried about his lover. Putting them together like that was a Bad Idea, with capital letters, as far as Xander was concerned, but he'd been voted down by everyone else. After all, packing the vamps up into the truck wouldn't have worked, what with the whole burning in sunlight thing, but Xander wasn't sure shoving Spike in with Deadboy was a good idea.
Then again, he had spent the entire afternoon annoying Gunn, the man who had a battle ax made out of a hubcap.
Suddenly, in a flash of inspiration, Xander understood. If they were annoying each other and fighting over music and playing stupid games, that didn't give them enough time to worry about the fact that this was Dawn's first big fight as a Slayer. If he was annoying Gunn until the black man threatened his life, he didn't have to think about the last time he'd been in a big battle, how his hands had hurt as he dragged the crumbled bricks off of Anya's body.
Or how peaceful Buffy had looked as she fell from the tower, the vortex making her look like a celestial being flying down from on high.
If he worried about Spike and Angel killing each other, he didn't have to worry about the fact that Riley hated his lover and would most likely target him. And that Xander could lose someone he loved again, like his lover or his little sister or his friends.
Hell, he'd be upset if someone dusted Angel. He didn't really like the brooding asshole, but he was their brooding asshole. If anyone had the right to dust the bastard, it was him, or Spike. Not Riley or one of his goons. For god's sake, Riley couldn't even find a proper Evil Lair. There were dozens of abandoned warehouses and creepy mansions around town. Riley was such a loser he chose an old burger place with a clown, for god's sake. He was an embarrassment to evil vampires everywhere.
But that was good, that Riley was an idiot. That meant that they had the upper hand.
At least, that's what Xander hoped.
He really couldn't take it if anyone died. The pain of Anya's and Buffy's loss was just beginning to dull. If anything happened, he didn't know if he could deal with it, but what if...
"Stop that." There was a sharp pain in his leg and Xander jumped. He looked at Cordy in shock as he realized she'd just brushed him with her stun baton.
"CORDY! That is not a toy!"
"Like, DUH! Tell me something I didn't know. I just figured you need shock therapy to stop worrying. It'll give you wrinkles before your time. Not that you'd care, being the non-fashion victim that you are."
Xander had to laugh. That was Cordy-speak for 'Don't worry, everything is going to be okay. If only because I rule the universe and I say it's going to be okay.'
In a very weird way, Cordy was very reassuring. He could remember what he saw in her years ago. Of course, Spike was better at reassuring him, but Xander would take what he could get right now.
There was a noise in the cab and they both turned to look as Tara slid open the window so she could talk to them in the back. "It's time."
It was then Xander noticed how long the shadows had gotten and how red the sky was. Sunset. He gave Tara what he knew to be a sickly grin. "Right. We're ready back here."
"Okay. Make sure y'all hold on."
Fred sounded entirely too excited. She'd won the fight with Cordy about truck driving rights because she could drive a stick shift and Cordelia couldn't. She started up the truck as it was in neutral and revved the engine. Xander quickly crouched down in the back, one hand on the hose connected to the tank full of holy water and one clutching the strap he'd attached to the bed of the truck so they would have something solid to hold on to. Cordelia mirrored his movements.
The street was oddly quiet; the only sound Xander could hear was the roar of the truck's engine as Fred pushed the gas but didn't put it in gear. They were aimed at the main door on the side of the building, a couple of hundred feet and one curb away from a pissed off flock of vampires. Suddenly he could hear music and figured Gunn and Wes had picked something to blast.
With those words, Fred threw the truck into gear and it lurched forward.
Xander had jury rigged a battering ram/cattle catcher and attached it to the front of the truck before adding long stakes to the mix. With any luck, they'd dust a few of the vamps as they crashed through the plywood, glass and metal of the doors. There was a bump that almost tossed him on his ass as they drove over the curb and then there was the sound of glass and metal breaking as Fred hit the doors at forty miles per hour.
Xander wasn't sure about Cordy, but he was sure he could feel the impact in every bone in his body and had perhaps given himself whiplash. Then there wasn't any time to think as they came to a stop in the middle of the old lobby, the old cash register coming to rest on the hood of the truck as they plowed into the counter.
He quickly stood up. There was noise all around, not only from the booming noise of Gunn's music outside but from the various growls and issued orders from the vamps. Out of the corner of his eye he could see Dawn, Gunn and Wes move through the hole they'd made and start fighting. A hand grabbed at the side of the truck and Xander quickly turned the hose on and started spraying down holy water. A vampire had jumped in front of him, its lips open in a roar of fury, and Xander managed to spray it in the mouth.
Right then, he knew if they all survived this was going to be one of the best fights in his life. Because there was just something about watching a fledge's face melt off like a special effect from a Steven Spielberg movie that made him all warm and fuzzy.
He just hoped the holy water lasted long enough to do some serious damage.
Angel released the catch on the inside of the trunk and jumped out. Spike gladly followed him. Being squashed up in a confined space with Angel was definitely not one of Spike’s high points in life. Angel was a fidget, and he had the most enormous elbows. How Darla had ever shared a bed with the King of Shifting Limbs was anyone’s guess.
The side of Happy Burger was a wreck, the entrance smashed to pieces. The effect was rather like that of a broken ant farm, the disturbed vampires spilling and swarming from the hole, some with surprised expressions and some with hungry ones.
Spike ran towards the building, Angel at his side, until they reached the door. Angel took the left and Spike the right.
Spike shut down all parts of his brain that had been keyed into anything other than the fight. He didn’t want to think about losing anyone. He didn’t want to think about all he'd lost last time around.
He didn’t want to think about Xander. He just wanted to keep him safe.
The first wave of vampires were merely fodder, foolish errand boys for the stronger vamps deeper inside. That was how it worked. Their sheer numbers meant they were a pain in the arse and downright dangerous, but with a dash of speed and spoonful of effort, they would be relatively easy to deal with, as Xander was proving with his jumbo Special Edition Super Soaker.
Spike stayed clear of the water, keeping to the right side of the door and ambushing the other vampires as they began to panic and flee from the jets of holy H2O.
It was going well, and Spike would have given the others a thumbs-up if he hadn’t been so concerned with keeping it attached to his hand. The numbers were dwindling, and Spike could hear Fred whooping inside. He smiled to himself and dusted a vamp before it had even registered his presence.
“We should get some distance!” Angel shouted. “Ease out!”
The engine revved and the truck backed out, maybe a little too quickly, the tires squealing on the polished floor.
“Why do I get the feeling this isn’t it?” Dawn asked as she threw an opponent to the floor and staked him.
“There’s always more,” Gunn said. “Don’t you watch movies?”
“Yeah, good ones.”
“There'll be another wave. Definitely,” Angel cut in, voicing Spike’s thoughts.
“Ah, speak of the devil,” Wesley said, motioning to the hole in the wall with his bleeding head.
A group of roughly ten vamps appeared, looking furious, and headed out onto the street.
“Blast them, Xan!” Spike called, and Xander aimed the hose and sprayed them like rubber ducks at a shooting gallery.
The vampires staggered and screamed, clutching at their faces, and as soon as Xander shut off the stream of holy water, Spike ran towards them, the other Scoobies close behind.
“I don’t like this,” Cordelia said, dodging a fist and then zapping the fist’s owner with her stunner. “It’s too easy.”
Angel finished the vampire off with a swift stake to its heart.
“I forgot you like a challenge,” Gunn said, grinning over at her and bobbing his head to the music, which was still blaring from the car.
“I didn’t mean that. I meant...uh-oh.”
“Uh-oh?” Xander asked, and he looked back over at the hole in the wall. “Uh-oh.”
There, at the ragged entrance, stood a throng of angry vampires. And Riley.
“It’s good to be back in the ‘Dale,” Riley said. He looked over at Dawn, who had just delivered a stunning butterfly kick to her opponent. “I see things have changed.”
Hatred filled Spike immediately. How dare he even look at Dawn? How fucking dare he?! He growled and stepped closer.
“Still here, Spike?” Riley said. “I’m surprised you stuck around. Sniffing around Buffy’s sister, I suppose. I can’t blame you. Nice piece of ass–”
All sense escaped him, and Spike roared with fury and leapt at Riley, ignoring the shouts from Xander and Angel.
Fuck the holy water.
But as Spike’s pale fingers closed around Riley’s throat, things started to go wrong.