Do You See-See What I See-See?
Disclaimer: The Buffy characters belong to Crack-Head Joss and ME. Deal with it. I have. Casey "Cici" Cooper, I believe, belongs to Kevin Williamson and Wes Craven.
Time Frame: Beginning of Season 4.
Spoilers: None, since by this point in time, I would expect anyone interested in Scooby fics to pretty much know most of what happened over the course of the series. And since this is an AU, it's not spoiling things to describe what's going on in MY personal Scooby-verse.
Character Bashing: None.
Feedback: Of course!
Archiving: If you want to archive this, just let me know where, please.
Author’s Notes 1: Another idea which caught my muse's fancy and wouldn't go away. I'm writing this in the hopes she'll be grateful enough to let me proceed with 'Prophecies' and some of my other WIPs she's decided to ignore lately. Wish me luck.
Author’s Notes 2: Thanks to Lori Bush, Tim Joy, Bill Haden and Drake the Archr for beta-ing this story.
September 9, 1999
“I can’t believe it!” Willow exclaimed in surprise as she craned her neck around as she leaned out the van’s side window in an attempt to verify what she couldn’t believe she had just seen.
“Turn around and drive back the way we just came, Oz!” she ordered frenetically. “Please?”
“Problem?” he inquired succinctly as he immediately flipped on his turn signal in an effort to comply with her request.
“Well, it’s not really a problem-type problem , more of a conundrum or maybe a confirmation of a supposition,” the redhead began explaining as she intently searched the sidewalk as Oz turned his van around and headed back the way they’d just come.
“It’s just that I thought I saw Xander standing in front of that old antiques store we passed,” she said.
“Are you upset that he didn’t call you and tell you he’s back from his trip?” the guitarist inquired, wondering aloud about the source of his girlfriend’s excitement.
“No. Well, maybe a little,” she admitted reluctantly a moment later.
“But, I thought I saw him with some girl and she had her arms around his neck all affectionate-like and I’m just kinda concerned about him because you know how practically all the girls he’s gotten involved with are either evil skanky types like Cordy or Faith or demon-types like that Ampata Mummy-Girl who nearly sucked all his life force out or Miss French the Mantis-Lady who wanted to kill and eat him after he fertilized her eggs,” she blurted out in another of her longwinded soliloquies.
“I just want to make sure that he’s not involved with some new life-force-sucking-out type of demon who’s going to eat him or anything,” she continued as they slowly cruised along the street.
“Oh! Oh! There he is!” she exclaimed as she excitedly bounced in her seat and pointed out her lifelong friend, who was ardently involved in some very serious kissing with a young woman with long brunette hair whose back was to them.
“Oh, I knew it! He’s probably involved with some soul-devouring demon summoned from the depths of Hell!”
As Oz began slowing the van down preparatory to parking, the kissing couple pulled apart and Willow was momentarily rendered speechless and the two of them glanced at each other in mute surprise as they saw Buffy smile up at the taller brunet just before the clearly happy couple disappeared into the shop behind them, arm in arm.
“So if it’s Buffy devouring him it’s okay?” Oz deadpanned at his girlfriend.
“So, Buffy, how’re things going?” Willow asked as she walked into her friend’s dorm room and found the Slayer lying on her bed, a melancholy expression on her face.
”Anything new and exciting happen today?” she inquired *very* casually, an interested expression in her face. “And have you done something new to your hair?”
“No, nothing new at all,” the blonde shook her head. “And my life is just as depressing and empty and dismal as it was yesterday when we discussed it. My roommate is so super-perky and sweet that I’m worried I'm going to contract diabetes, I really don’t know what I’m doing taking the classes I’ve got, my Mom’s decided that using my bedroom at our house for storage for her gallery is a much better way of filling up the house than having me in it and my hair is still drab and lifeless and I think I’m getting split ends, too, ‘cause the drugstore is completely sold out of my favorite shampoo and conditioner.
"Aside from that, my life is practically perfect," Buffy finished semi-sarcastically. "How're things going with you?"
Willow was clearly surprised by the answer she’d just received, especially considering what she’d seen earlier that afternoon, and her response indicated it.
“What are you talking about, Buffy? Oz and I saw you with Xander this afternoon, and you were both acting like you were a lot more than just friends. And how’d you get your hair back to pretty much exactly the same shade as you had it yesterday and still have it look like you need to see a stylist?” she blurted out, only to begin blushing brightly an instant later as she realized exactly what she had just said, and once again vowing to cut back on her caffeine intake.
“What are you talking about, Will? I haven’t seen Xander since he left on his trip in June,” Buffy informed her friend with a puzzled expression on her gorgeous features. “But he did leave me a message on my answering machine this afternoon and he said he left one for you on yours, too. He said that he got our numbers from Mom and that he’d see us later tonight at the Bronze and that he had some really incredibly great and surprising news to tell us, once he saw us in person.
“And what do you mean, my hair looks like I need to see a stylist?” she added a half-second later with a half-worried, half-affronted look, as she self-consciously reached up with her free hand to touch her hair. “What‘s wrong with my hair?”
“Oz and I both saw you and Xander kissing each other outside that old antique store on North Westbury Drive when we were coming back from getting supplies at that magic shop on Pillsbury Ridge,” Willow answered the Slayer’s first question while ignoring the second as she continued on with her explanation.
“I guess I was a little bit upset when I saw him because we haven’t heard from him since the last time he called us and that was nearly three weeks ago and then it seemed to me like he must have been back for a few weeks without calling me if he was going out with you and the two of you were giving each other very passionate smoochies right out in public and everything the way you were and I guess my feelings were kinda hurt that the two of you weren’t telling me about you going out together and I was also surprised that you had dyed your hair back to its normal color which looks really nice on you by the way not that the color you have now doesn’t look just as nice and anyway I’m really starting to babble kinda senselessly now so I suppose I should just shut up but if that wasn’t you that Xander was kissing this afternoon then who was it and oh goddess I just realized it’s probably some demon he met while he was away on his trip and it must have made him think it was you so it could put him under a spell of some kind and now it’s probably intending to use him in some kind of sacrificial ritual to open the Hellmouth the way those Sisters of Jhe demons tried to do last year when w–“ the redhead’s virtually nonstop chatter finally came to an abrupt end as Buffy slid off her bed and physically clapped her hand over the other girl’s mouth to shut her up.
“Relax, Will,” she said as she attempted to reassure her friend. “I‘m sure that there’s some completely normal and rational reason for whatever it was you saw this afternoon, and I’m pretty sure that whoever this girl you saw Xander with isn’t any kind of demon, because he’s supposed to meet us at the Bronze later tonight, remember, and I don’t think that any demon who’s mind-controlling him would want to meet with us, right?” she reminded the excited redhead before carefully taking her hand away to see if the torrent would begin anew.
“Yeah, I suppose so,” Willow agreed, a bit reluctantly. “But I really can’t think of any kind of normal reason to explain what Oz and I saw today.
“And I’ve also got a feeling we’re not gonna like whatever news it is Xander has to tell us when we see him tonight,” she added argumentatively.
"YOU GOT WHAT?!"
Buffy and Willow's loud and somewhat – excited – reaction to Xander's revelation concerning his post-Graduation trip could almost be heard on the far side of the club despite the band currently playing on stage with their amps set on eleven and the fact that the three were currently seated around a table in one of the numerous alcoves scattered across the main floor of the building.
"Married," Xander repeated with a wide grin, holding up his left hand and wiggling the ring finger as he did so.
"You know, as in falling in love with someone and wanting to spend the rest of your life together with them, standing in front of a priest and taking vows and all that," he said, remembering the kindly old Father Dowling and his sidekick Sister Oskowsky.
"How could you –"
"What in the world –"
The girls' astonished and excited outbursts were interrupted by their friend's upraised hand and the wide smile that broke across his face as he looked past them over their shoulders.
"And here she is, back from her inspection of the Bronze's no-doubt endlessly fascinating women's restroom," Xander announced as he got to his feet and curled his right arm around the petite brunette wearing a halter top, leather pants and knee-high boots who joined their little group.
"Ladies, let me tell you how delighted I am to introduce you to the former Casey Cooper and current Mrs. Casey Harris." Xander's face was practically beaming as he presented the equally widely smiling woman to his friends.
"Cici, these two ladies here are my two very best friends, Willow Rosenberg and Buffy Summers," he continued, indicating the pair with a wave of his hand.
“Hi,” the petite brunette smiled brightly at the other two women as she extended her hand towards them. “I’m so glad I can finally get to meet you two. Xand’s told me so much about you since we first met I feel as though I already know you.”
Buffy and Willow, for their part, were staring at the diminutive brunette with not-all-that-convincing smiles overlaid with looks of muted suspicion and wariness as they mumbled their own greetings to their friend’s wife.
“What’s with the shocked expression, Will?” Xander asked as he saw his childhood best friend’s look of shocked disbelief. “Still can’t believe I’m married even after meeting the Missus?”
“Uh, well, uhm, no. It’s not, it’s not that,” Willow finally managed to respond after shaking her head as if to clear it and then looking again at the brunette. “It’s just, uhm, that, uh, I can’t believe how much she looks like Buffy,” she admitted.
“What do you mean, Will?” Xander immediately asked. “Cici doesn’t look like Buffy.”
“Yes, she does,” Willow nodded her head in vigorous affirmation of her previous statement. “She looks like her a lot!”
“No, she doesn’t,” Xander shook his head in disagreement. “Okay, they’re kinda almost the same height, and they‘ve got the same color eyes, but that’s about it,” he noted.
“And Cici is a brunette –”
“Something you can certainly be sure of, since you like checking and making sure so much,” Cici interrupted him to note, gracing him with a wicked smile.
“ – and she’s more – curvier – than Buffy is,” Xander pointed out, blushing furiously while making vague motions with his hands as though he were attempting to illustrate what he meant and trying to ignore his wife’s comment, lest Willow have a stroke.
“Not that I’m implying you’re skinny or too thin or anything, Buff,” he added quickly, a moment later as he realized that his words might conceivably be taken in a critical or negative manner by the diminutive blonde giving him the stink-eye.
“I’m just trying to point out that you really don’t look very much alike at all,” he concluded with an uncertain expression.
Buffy, however, was staring at Cici, a frown wrinkling her forehead as she considered at the other woman.
“Cici Cooper,” she said thoughtfully. “Wasn’t that the name of one of those girls who was murdered last year by those two crazy people in that Woodsboro serial killing thing?”
“Uh, yeah, it was,” Cici half-laughed as she sent a surprised glance over to her husband at the Slayer’s question.
“I was one of the first people they attacked,” she said, as Xander immediately moved to her side and wrapped a reassuring arm around her shoulders. “They stabbed me and threw me off the balcony of my sorority house.
“I was critically injured and the police reported that I was dead so that the wack-jobs responsible wouldn’t try to come after me again,” she elaborated, “and after I got out of the hospital, I left town and started traveling around.
“Too many bad memories there for me to hang around,” she stated with a visible shiver that prompted Xander to pull her closer.
“Oh, wow. I’m really sorry to hear that happened to you,” Buffy said sincerely, as Willow echoed her sentiments.
Buffy remembered the incident clearly now, having discussed the case extensively with Giles while they were trying to determine if some type of demon might be responsible or whether some sort of summoning ritual was being invoked. Once their extensive research had eliminated the possibility of either prospect being involved and indicated that the murders were most likely the work of deranged humans, they very reluctantly turned their attention away from the serial killings and back to matters that more properly fell under the Slayer’s purview.
“Boy, you’d never imagine anything like that happened to you, at all,” Willow noted as she glanced at the brunette’s midriff curiously. “You must have healed up really well – you can’t see any scars at all!”
“Yeah, I heal pretty fast,” Cici agreed with a small smile. “I guess I’m pretty lucky that way.”
The rest of the evening was spent in small talk and general discussion of the four’s various plans for both the immediate and not-so-immediate future, the talks being interrupted only twice to allow Buffy to intervene in the would-be pairing up of some ambitious, but not too intelligent, vampires using the club as hunting grounds.
It was during these discussions that the girls learned that the newlyweds were both not only matriculating at UC Sunnydale but that they had also taken possession of the long vacant Psi Theta fraternity house that had been standing vacant for close to twenty years at the edge of the campus, and were in the process of refurbishing the building while living there, revelations that took both girls by surprise.
“Oh, you’d be astonished at just how talented Xand is with his hands,” Cici declared as they got up and began making their way out.
“And he’s also very talented at building and repairing things, too,” she smirked as she gave her husband a lascivious wink.
“Well, I’m really glad I got to meet you, Cici,” Willow smiled – a bit wanly perhaps, it must be admitted, but nonetheless sincerely – as they reached the entrance.
“So am I,” Buffy chimed in with an apparently genuine one of her own.
“And I’m glad I got to meet both of you guys,” Cici smiled back as she leaned comfortably against Xander. “Once we get the place fixed up a little better, you have to come over and see the house, okay?”
“We’d be delighted to,” Buffy assured her. “And I’m sure Giles will be just as surprised as we were when he finally finds out you’re back in town, and that you’re married, Xand,” she reminded him that he still hadn’t seen their semi-mentor since he’d returned.
“And don’t forget, once I tell Mom you’re back, you know she’s gonna want you to stop by so she can meet Cici,” she grinned as Xander groaned at that additional reminder of people to meet.
“Don’t worry, she’s gonna love you,” Buffy reassured the brunette who was looking up at her husband with a curious expression on her lovely features. “I only said that to remind him because Mom sorta adopted him a couple years back, in an entirely not-at-all-legal-or-official way, ‘cause he acts so much like a big brother to me,” she explained.
“Okay, that’d be cool,” Cici agreed with another of her apparently inexhaustible smiles.
“Why don't you guys give me a call tomorrow and we can get together and you can give me the 411 about all the really embarrassing stuff Xand used to do that he hasn’t told me about, okay?” she suggested with a mischievous smile.
The girls’ eager and enthusiastic concurrence elicited a loud groan from Xander and made the petite brunette under his arm laugh loudly at his reaction as they made their way down the street towards their car while the two girls headed off in the other direction.
Xander was unlocking the passenger side door for Cici when they were attacked by three vampires.
“Did you bastards really think you could get away with killing Sunday?” a fat, unkempt vampire demanded as he grabbed hold of Xander’s shoulder and spun him around to punch him, while a second, taller one leaped forward at Cici.
Xander grabbed hold of the vamp’s wrist as he turned and used his own momentum to slam the vamp into the side of the car next to them. As the vamp bounced off of the car door, Xander’s hand moved forward and the stake in his hand drove unerringly into the vamp’s heart.
As his attacker turned to dust, he spun and saw Cici slicing through the taller vamp’s neck with a short sword she had somehow produced from inside her coat. He also noticed a third bloodsucker rushing at her from the back and he began yelling a warning, only to see the claws of the demon’s right hand drive forward and rip out her throat.
“You bastard,” he yelled as he reached under his jacket and pulled out a Beretta Cougar with a short, thick cylinder attached to the barrel.
As the vamp turned to face him, Xander shot him four times, targeting the vamp’s legs and knees, eliciting a scream of pain that ended abruptly as a fifth bullet tore through his mouth and erupted out the back of his neck, effectively decapitating him.
“Goddamn bloodsuckers,” he swore under his breath as he crouched down and picked up Cici’s body. “I swear, I’m gonna kill every one of those friggin’ bastards I can find.”
He ignored the tiny sparks of blue lightning dancing across the edges of Cici’s wound and glanced around, checking to see if the sounds of the struggle had drawn any attention.
Seeing no signs that anyone had witnessed the attack, he carefully loaded her into their car, closed the door, tenderly cleaned up the blood splattered across her face and clothes and then simply waited.
Less than two minutes later, Cici opened her eyes, looked around and then shook her head ruefully.
“Damn! Did you get the bastard who killed me?” she asked.
“Yeah, hon. Sorry I didn’t notice him sooner – it looks like that top of yours is ruined now, from all the blood,” he apologized.
“Don’t worry about it, baby,” she told him as she then leaned forward and pulled him in close for a kiss.
“C’mon, let’s head back home. You know how I get after a fight,” she smiled up at him once they broke apart.
“Yeah, I certainly do,” he smiled back. “Remember how we didn’t leave our room in Vegas for three days after killing that asshole, Riconti, after he came hunting you?”
“Yeah,” Cici smiled with fond reminiscences. “Although I think the cops there accepted that story about defective wiring shorting out the elevator and making it drop the length of the shaft a little too easily, if you ask me.”
“Yeah, that Lieutenant Brass guy had way too many questions about what happened, and you *know* he didn’t want to believe that Riconti’s body got all burned up in a fire after the elevator crashed,” Xander agreed with her. “It’s a good thing that Grissom could come up with some halfway plausible explanation to support our story.”
“Yeah, it was,” Cici agreed. “Now I understand why he suggested we both continue our schooling and get either a hard science or an engineering degree; it’s not only a lot easier to help cover the weird stuff up, but people tend to believe you if you can give them some long and involved scientific explanation why they really didn’t see what they thought they did.”
“So, Mrs. Harris, want to help me with my Biology studies?”
“I’d be eternally delighted to do so, Mr. Harris.”
“I like that. I’ll bet none of the Gang ever thought I’d be looking forward to doing homework.”