Title: And Monkeys Might…
Author: Jinni (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Disclaimer: All things BtVS belong to Joss Whedon, et al. All things SPN belong to Eric Kripke, et al.
Notes: For the challenge: monkey
Notes2: Sequel to “How It Is, How It Should Be”.
Summary: Things weren’t turning out how Jo had pictured them, but that was okay by her.
There really was no way to describe the Council and its Cleveland house. It was sort of like the Roadhouse, in that it was deadly quiet sometimes and loud at others. Then again, the ‘loud’ was even different here. At the Roadhouse it was the occasional bar fight or a hunter that got excited telling a story to his buddies, bragging about his latest hunt. It was hardly ever the former, though. Her momma ran a tight ship. Most of those boys were afraid to start anything. So most times the noise was just people conversing and having a good time, getting ready for their next hunt. It was a boys’ club kind of loud, because there just weren’t that damn many female hunters out there.
It wasn’t like that in the Council house. When it was loud
, it was damn loud. And if the Roadhouse could be considered a boys’ club, then the Council house was just the opposite. Squealing, laughing, running around and being just teenage girls in general. There were arguments over who took too long in the bathroom, giggling and gossiping over the boys they met in school. When they
fought it was with words, saving their physical aggressions for training and patrol.
Another thing about this place versus the Roadhouse: random acts of magical mischief didn’t happen in the Roadhouse.
They happened all the time in the Council house.
Jo ducked as large, furry shape swooped toward her, chattering in a way that sounded a lot like -
“A monkey?” she asked no one in particular, looking in the direction the winged creature had flown off in. Eyebrows went up. Her lips pressed together as she tried, very hard, not to just laugh at the absurdity of what she’d just seen. “A flying monkey
“You saw it?” Xander asked, coming up behind her. He was panting lightly. Chasing the thing down, she guessed. It had seemed damn quick, too.
Jo cocked her head in the direction it had gone. “It went that way. Need some help?”
Xander shook his head. “Nah. I’ve got it. Don’t you have Watcher 101 with Will right now anyway?”
How he did that was one of the great mysteries of the world. No matter who he was talking to, what time of day it was, Xander always knew everyone’s schedule. Without a chart, day planner, or even a PDA, he could tell which girls were out on patrol, which were on dates, and which were just off somewhere in the house screwing around. Everyone joked that Xander was normal
, but his planning and memory skills certainly seemed extraordinary to Jo.
Then again, after two weeks of living in the house, Jo also knew that she had a little bit of a crush on the one-eyed ‘den-mother’ of the house. He was sweet and funny and cute. All those things that she’d normally gag over if another girl was waxing poetic over a guy. But that was Xander – all those things and more.
Fact was, he saw her as a little girl, and after her aborted infatuation with Dean Winchester, Jo wasn’t about to go throwing herself at any more older men. Her momma didn’t raise no fool. Getting her feelings ignored like they weren’t even there once in a lifetime was quite enough, thank you very much.
She shrugged an answer to his not-quite-question. “I guess.”
Maybe it was the way she said it or the fact that she’d groused to Andrew just the night before (and gossip spread fast around the house), but the next words out of Xander’s mouth confirmed that she hadn’t kept her feeling on her training as hidden as she would have liked. “Not digging the whole Watcher in Training gig?”
“It’s better than being at the Roadhouse,” she told him honestly. Which wasn’t saying much at the moment. Back ‘home’ she’d been under her momma control, tied down. The only action she’d been able to see hunting-wise was serving drinks to actual hunters
, something Jo herself was never, ever gonna be if her momma had any say in the matter. Here, too, she could come and go as she pleased, date if she wanted to, and not have to face her momma’s knowing looks or wrath for doing so.
Xander leaned back against the wall, the escapee flying monkey apparently forgotten for the moment. “But?”
“But,” Jo drawled, leaning next to him, shoulder to the wall. She sighed. “I’m just not used to sitting around doing nothing. I thought there’d be more to it than just…learning.”
Or going over things she already knew
as she’d come to label half of the ‘lessons’ she’d been through. She’d lived around hunters her entire life, and she damn well knew what to do if getting attacked by any one of a number of nasty things. Spirits, shifters, werewolves – she felt pretty comfortable with all of them. In theory. She hadn’t ever had to go up against one of them save a spirit. And that really hadn’t been her, had it? No, Sam and Dean had to save
her from that cranky ghost.
“So, basically you’re getting bored. A little stir-crazy?”
That was exactly it, but not the way she would have wanted it phrased. In no way did she want these people thinking she wasn’t grateful as hell for the opportunity she’d been given. “I didn’t…”
“I know you didn’t say
that, but that’s what you meant, right?” Xander pressed. The corner of his mouth tilted up in a smile. “No worries. We were all wondering how long it’d take you to break down from the boredom of staring at books or having Will lecture you all day. Honestly, I think she was about to go crazy from it, too. She’s not much for sitting around doing nothing, y’know?”
Wait. What? Huh? “I’m sorry?”
Xander’s half-smile grew to a full fledged grin. “We thought you were enjoying
being stuck in here all day.”
“I told Andrew last night that I was getting tired of it,” she argued almost immediately. A part of her was really irritated that they had all just been sitting around waiting for her to get tired of sitting on her ass staring at musty old books day in and day out.
She was rethinking her previous position on Xander being ‘cute and sweet’, in fact.
“And you trusted him to tell the rest of us?” Xander asked, eyebrows going up. Humor sparkled in his lone eye. This was getting more and more irritating by the second. “Never ever
trust Andrew to make with the gossiping. Ever since that time Dawn threatened his collectible Star Wars action figures because he was blabbing away like a girl about what he’d heard about one of Rona’s dates… well, let’s just say that he doesn’t partake in that the gossip mill anymore.”
Jo sighed and crossed her arms over her chest, glaring at Xander. “Okay. Fine. I’m bored
. Sitting around studying all day isn’t my idea of a good time, you know. If I had wanted that, I would have stayed in college. I thought there’d be more to this,” she waved a hand, meaning the house, the slayers, and everything about the Council in general, “than just practicing my already fine-tuned reading skills.”
The silence that followed her outburst was unnerving, and she started to seriously regret blowing up like that. Or saying anything for that matter. Wasn’t like she hadn’t gotten used to biting her tongue when she knew that saying something would just hurt her position. That’s just the way things were with her momma. Either you agreed with her, or you didn’t. And not agreeing with Ellen
was something that not many people did very often. Jo’s mind flashed to the day she’d left, the way that her momma hadn’t even said goodbye. It still stung. And damn if she wanted to go back to the Roadhouse, tail between her legs. If she didn’t make it here with the Council, she supposed she could find somewhere else. Maybe another hunters’ bar like the Roadhouse.
Maybe she’d just go out on the road on her own. She’d need to work somewhere for a little while to get enough money to buy a car and some supplies, true, but that was all right. That might would work out just fine, provided her momma didn’t get wind of it and send someone to haul her back to the Roadhouse kicking and screaming. Hunting with the Council at her back was one thing.
Hunting on her own with no one to watch out for her? That would be something entirely different. No way in Hell
her momma would let that slide.
Xander laughed, and Jo blinked at him, pushing away thoughts of future plans and angry mothers. She scowled at him.
“I don’t think it’s funny,” she bit off.
“Sure it is,” Xander said, grinning. He reached behind his head, rubbing at the back of his neck, the muscles in his arm bunching nicely for a moment, distracting Jo from what they were talking about. What was it again? Oh, right. How this wasn’t funny
. She hated being laughed at. Then Xander said, “Look at it from my point of view. We’re all thinking that you must be Research Girl Junior. That you actually like hanging out with the books more than you like actually getting your hands dirty. Because you never complained. You didn’t say a word
The chastisement in his voice was thick but layered so heavily in friendship that Jo couldn’t get any angrier over it. She huffed a sigh, deflating. “I didn’t want to make waves.”
“Why? Did you think we’d kick you out or… “ he trailed off, eye going so comically wide that it would have been hilarious if the situation were anything but this
. He sighed, dropping his chin to his chest, eye shut. “You did, huh? Think that we’d just kick you out?” He shook his head and looked up at her through his bangs, a little too long and in desperate need of a haircut. “In case you haven’t noticed, we’re not exactly swimming in volunteers for this kind of job. It’s not like we can put an ad in the paper or contact a temp agency. If you want to get your hands dirty, then you can. I mean, we all do it. And by all, I mean everyone except Andrew. Because he just gets in the way and that tends to make the slayers cranky.”
Funny how she had no trouble picturing just that, despite never having seen Andrew fight. Jo made a mental note that she never wanted to patrol with him
as her backup and nodded to let Xander know she was still with him. All that time wasted with the books, and she could have been out there, doing what she felt like she was meant
Well, that just went to show her that she still had a lot to learn about these people… this Council.
“So, yeah,” Xander finished, the smile back on his face when he lifted his head again. “The days when a Watcher just watched are over and done with. The fight is too big for anyone not to take an active role. Not that we wouldn’t have been just as thrilled if you wanted to spend all your time with the books. I mean, I
would have been disappointed because, you know, a pretty girl that’s actually legal
and all she wants to do is…” He stopped and flushed a shade of pink before Jo realized exactly what he’d said. She bit the inside of her cheek, trying not to smile. “Did I just say that outloud?”
“Yeah,” Jo nodded, lips twitching. “Thanks, by the way.”
He blushed and did this little shuffle of his feet that Jo thought might just be one of the most adorable things she’d ever seen a guy do. He was different than the guys that she was normally attracted to. Then again, those relationships-slash-crushes never went anywhere, so maybe it was time for her to try something new.
And something new was looking like it might be Xander
, because he did
notice her. Not as a little girl, either.
“So – since you’re not running in the other direction, I’ll just go out a limb and say that maybe – just maybe – you wouldn’t be completely
opposed to having dinner with me sometime? Somewhere other than here, because we eat together every night here. With the others. This would be like a date.”
“Like a date?” Jo asked.
“So yeah, definitely a date. If that’s okay with you.”
She nodded. “I think we could arrange that.”
Xander’s sigh sounded like sweet relief. “Great. So – let’s go tell Will that you won’t be helping her keep the books company today and then whaddya say we go over standard patrol procedure. Did you bring weapons with you? If not, we have plenty of our own. And you might want to get a slayer to spar with you. Just not –“
Jo followed along behind Xander, nodding every now and then. She was listening, she really was. But she was also thinking about, well, everything
Things here weren’t turning out how Jo had pictured them, but that was okay by her.