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Steak

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Summary: Buffy tries to steak a vampire. And things get weirder from there . . .

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
BtVS/AtS Non-Crossover > Comedy > Buffy-CenteredMediancatFR1315,1961271,53117 Mar 0717 Mar 07Yes
The Buffy characters were created by Joss Whedon, not me. I own only Lexicon, and the plot. Set early season 7, post-Him.

X X X X X

Another night, another vampire.

Everything was going smoothly with this one; he'd been a karate brown belt when he was alive, so he was a bit tougher to kill than most rookie vamps, but even so, Buffy had the upper hand.

And then it happened.

Buffy was about to administer the coup de grace when she felt something splat against the vampire's chest. She looked down, and she was holding -

Not a stake -

But a piece of meat.

The vampire looked up, laughed and kicked Buffy in the knee. After that, it took her another five minutes to finish him off, using one of her spare stakes. Then she went back to look at the site of the weirdness, hoping that she'd imagined what she'd seen.

But she hadn't. Lying there on the ground was a filet mignon.

In other words: She'd tried to steak a vampire.

X X X X X

After she recounted it later to Xander, Willow and Dawn, Xander said, "Buff, I really only think that works when the vampire's a vegetarian."

"Ha. Ha."

"Have you been getting steak?" Dawn asked suddenly. "Have you been holding out on me?"

"No, and always," Buffy said. "I have no idea what the hell happened out there."

"Is there a god of bad puns?" Xander asked. "Because if there is I'm long overdue with the worshiping."

Buffy was about to glare a bit more when Willow said, "Actually, that's not a bad idea."

"It isn't?" Buffy said.

"It's not?" Xander said.

"Well, we know there are various kinds of demons and gods in control of all sorts of things," Willow said. "Why not a god of lousy humor?"

"It would explain Carrot Top," Buffy said. "Still, I WAS able to kill the vampire, and I haven't heard of any other weirdness around town. You want to do some research on it, sure, I'd like to know what happened, but it doesn't seem like an emergency. Maybe we'll get lucky and this'll be a weirdness that just kind of passes on through instead of lingering for a while."

"Did you save the filet mignon?" Dawn asked eagerly.

X X X X X

Buffy's hope was vain, of course; in Sunnydale, weirdness never simply stops for a snack; it sticks around for dinner, coffee, and does its damnedest to hang around until breakfast. The next morning at the high school, sometime early in second period, Buffy was supposed to meet Keith Pulaski, the point guard for the Razorback's basketball team, who'd wanted to talk to her about some family problems he was having.

A minute before Keith was supposed to get there, Buffy stepped away to get herself a cup of coffee. When she came back - a couple of minutes late - Keith wasn't there, and there was some kind of odd-shaped green vegetable on top of her desk.

Buffy sat down, picked it up, and said, "Weird." Then she heard footsteps in front of her, and looked up expecting to see Keith.

Instead, it was Principal Wood. "Nice gourd," he said.

"Huh?"

"That thing you're holding. It's a gourd."

"Oh. So THAT'S what one looks like." After a second. "Did you leave it here?"

The principal shook his head. "No. You didn't bring it in with you?" Buffy said no. "Wonder where it came from, then."

"I stepped away to get some coffee and when I came back it was there."

After thinking a second, the principal said, "Maybe it's one of the students. You give anyone the impression you're crazy recently?"

"No one around here."

"Mind if I take it?" he asked. "They're cool to use as decorations around Thanksgiving."

Buffy shrugged. "Sure." After a second, she said. "Wait. Aren't you a vegetarian?"

"Doesn't mean I don't celebrate Thanksgiving," he said. "Only the turkey gets to sit down and enjoy it with the rest of us."

Buffy thought he was kidding.

X X X X X

And Buffy would have been willing to dismiss that as just someone playing a joke on her, but what happened that night at the Bronze clinched it for her. There was a band playing she'd seen a few times before and she'd kind of liked. So at ten of nine she took a break of patrolling and headed over there.

A couple of alleys away from the Bronze, Buffy ran across a guy being assaulted by two vampires. They'd already started to feed when she waded in and started busting heads. After the battle ended, Buffy bent down to check on the guy - he seemed pretty hurt.

He'd dropped his cell phone, so Buffy picked it up and called 911. Once she got off, she did whatever she could to make sure the man didn't bleed his life away right there in front of her. Over the years, Buffy'd gotten hurt a number of times, and she'd almost never gone to the hospital, so she'd become a fair hand at emergency first aid.

A little after nine, the ambulance pulled up to the alley entrance and a couple of EMT's jumped out. Buffy bent down to doublecheck on the guy, and called out to the medics -

Only they weren't there anymore.

What WAS there was a couple of large, angry birds the shape of an ostrich, but smaller, and colored black and gray. "What the hell?"

The birds, whatever they were, seemed just as confused as Buffy was, and began to run about wildly, crashing into walls, garbage cans, and once even into her. Buffy dove over the injured man, protecting him in case the birds attacked, but fortunately for everyone involved they ran down the alley, past the parked ambulance and out of sight. Yells from the street clinched to Buffy that this wasn't just some hallucination.

Buffy went to the ambulance and checked, but the medics were nowhere in sight. She took the guy's cell phone and once again dialed 911. "Um, you're not going to believe this," she began.

They didn't. But they sent a second ambulance anyway.

X X X X X

Later that night, Buffy's plans of seeing the band long forgotten, she, Willow, Xander and Dawn got together for another conference.

"So what were they?" Dawn asked. "Some kind of demon birds?"

"Emus," Buffy said. "Incidentally, the guy's going to be fine."

"That's nice," Dawn said quickly. "Emus? How did emus get into an alley in the middle of a city?"

"How did a gourd get onto my desk? How did I reach for a stake and wind up with dinner? I have no idea."

"Well, there is no god of bad puns," Willow said.

"Damn," Xander said. "There go my weekend plans."

"But that wouldn't have fit these other two things either," Willow said. "I mean, stake, steak, yeah, but basketball player/gourd? Medic/emu? That doesn't make sense. It doesn't even make the crazy kind of sense like it would if we were dealing with Drusilla. It's completely random."

"What basketball player?" Dawn asked.

"Keith Pulaski," Buffy answered.

"He didn't show up for practice this afternoon," Dawn said. "And no one's seen him since this morning."

Buffy made a couple of phone calls and confirmed a fear of hers: The paramedics hadn't been seen either. While it was possible that they'd irresponsibly decided to call it a night then and there and vanished into parts unknown in the two seconds Buffy was distracted, somehow she doubted it. She said as much to the gang.

"If people are disappearing," Xander said. "This just stopped being funny."

"No kidding," Buffy said. "Now come on, think. We have to come up with a connection between the three things."

"You," Willow said. "Because unless the rest of you know of any weird substitutions -" they didn't - "then they're all happening to you."

"Other than that," Buffy said. "And why would someone want to do something like this anyway? It's completely chaotic."

At that word, Buffy, Xander, Willow and Dawn all looked up and said simultaneously, "ETHAN."

X X X X X

Of course, saying it and verifying it were two different things. The last time they'd seen Ethan Rayne, the Initiative had been dragging him off to a military prison somewhere in the southwest. As far as she knew, the ex- Initiative didn't even maintain a presence in Sunnydale anymore, and it wasn't like they'd left her a number to call in case she had questions.

Eventually, they had to ask Willow if she could figure out a way to simply get in touch with Riley; after an hour on the internet she gave that method up and actually worked up a spell.

"So how does it work?" Buffy asked.

"Get the phone."

Buffy asked, "The phone?" which then began ringing.

"It's for you."

A little hesitantly, Buffy picked up the phone and said, "Hello?"

"Buffy?" It was Riley's voice. "How'd you know how to reach me?"

"Willow. A spell. This isn't a bad time, is it?"

"Fortunately this nest of Naura demons we're after can't hear human speech. But we do have to take them out soon -"

"Gotcha," Buffy said. "Look, I need a favor." She explained what was going on.

She could almost hear Riley frown on the other end. "Not to screw up your theory or anything, but the last time I checked he was still under heavy guard."

"Still -"

"I'll make a few calls, see what I can do. But right now I need to start fighting or I might get killed. Bye."

Then he hung up.

When a couple of hours later he hadn't called, everyone went to bed. (Xander bedded down on the couch, in case instant action was needed.)

At around three in the morning, Buffy was awakened by a phone call. She got it on the third ring and grunted "hello" into the receiver. At least she thought it was hello. It also might have been "Ya know," "Yee-haw," "Eddo," "Hey Joe," or "Hi-ho." Anyway, it was Riley.

"Joe?" he said. "Who's Joe?"

"Huh?"

"Sorry. Did I wake you?"

"Duh, but don't worry about it," she said, a bit more coherently. "How'd the demonhunt go?"

"Got the whole nest," Riley said. "Took us a while, but no casualties. On our side, I mean. Plenty on theirs." Buffy told him yay. "Okay then, it took some work, but I managed to arrange another phone call for you. After we're done, you should be getting another call within a few minutes. The code word is -" embarrassed pause - "cheese. Say it when you get the call."

"Say cheese?" Buffy refrained from asking whether or not she was being photographed.

"I know, but it was the best thing I could think of on the spur of the moment." After a second, "You doing okay?"

"Pretty good. You?"

"The same." Awkward silence. "Well, I'd better get going."

"Right. I'll tell you about this when it's all over."

They said their goodbyes, and Buffy barely had time to yawn, stretch and flip on the light when the phone rang again. "Buffy Summers?" A stern female voice said.

"Yes?" Silence. "Yes?" More silence. "Oh! Cheese!"

"I was wondering if you were going to remember. Agent Finn said you were wondering if we still had Ethan Rayne in custody. I can assure you we do."

"Um, not that I'm going to distrust a mystery woman on the phone at three o'clock in the morning, but -"

"But you want to hear him for yourself." Buffy said yes. "Finn thought you'd want confirmation. Here."

The sounds of some muffled English cusswords, followed by, "What do YOU want?"

And that was either Ethan Rayne or a very good imitation. "Haven't been casting any spells on us recently, have you, Ethan?"

Another explosion of cussing. "Are you damn well kidding me?" he said when he calmed down. "I'm lucky I get a pen and paper around these parts. They won't even let me have a deck of cards."

"So you haven't been causing the chaos in Sunnydale?" Buffy asked suspiciously.

"Chaos?" Ethan asked, and his confusion seemed genuine. "What chaos?" Buffy saw no reason NOT to tell him, so she gave him a one-minute summary. When she was done, to her surprise, Ethan laughed. "Bloody hell, girl, that's not chaos."

"Emus wandering around Sunnydale isn't chaos?"

"Not even close," Ethan said. "Besides, it's far too regular to be -" he broke off.

"Too regular to be what?"

"I don't think so," he said. "Not unless you give me your word that once you stop talking to me you'll do your best to get me some privileges around here."

Buffy thought a second. "Okay. It's a deal."

Ethan seemed a bit shocked - like he'd expected to have to work harder to get Buffy to agree. "Right," he said, trying to regain his mental balance. "They're coming every twelve hours so far. That's very regular. And what's going on is far too petty for me - and if it is far too petty for me, you can be assured that it would be considerably too petty for any gods of chaos or anarchy."

"So you're saying . . ."

"What I'm saying," Ethan said tiredly, "Is what I've already said. Look elsewhere; gods of chaos and their followers are not responsible for your problems."

Then the stern woman's voice came back. "Have you gotten all you wanted from Mr. Rayne?"

"Yup."

"I heard that promise you made," she said. "You do know that there's no chance in hell he's getting any privileges, right?"

"Not even if I say pretty please?" Buffy asked, her voice as syrupy sweet as she could make it.

Then the woman barked out a laugh. "Not even then."

"Oh gee," Buffy said. "Well, I tried my best. Tell Ethan buh-bye now."

After Buffy hung up the phone and laughed for a few minutes, she realized that she had the same problem she has a couple of hours ago.

Ethan had seemed their best bet; if he wasn't responsible, who was?

X X X X X

Everyone else had been woken up by the phone calls, but Buffy told them to get back to sleep; what she'd gotten from Ethan could hold until morning.

Over the conversation at the breakfast table, Xander said, "And you think he was telling the truth?"

"I don't take anything Ethan says on faith," Buffy said, "But I thought about and he does make sense."

"Besides, under he circumstances, why would he lie?"

"Because he IS responsible, because he knows who's responsible, because he enjoys jerking us around or just for the hell of it," Xander said. "Do I need to go on?"

"No," Dawn said. "I think I get it."

"Good, 'cause I'm pretty much tapped."

"So now what?" Buffy said. "If it's not Ethan taking his revenge -" Her head shot up.

"What is it, Buffy?" Willow asked.

"Revenge. Who do we know that wants revenge around here?"

X X X X X

They all went up to Willow's room, where she picked up a medallion and rubbed it a certain way.

And then D'Hoffryn was there in front of them, frowning. "I really should take that away from you," he said. "I suppose you're here to beat me up for my attempted vengeance against Anyanka?"

"You suppose wrong," Buffy said. "But while you're here, knock it off." She gave the demon lord the one-minute summary.

D'Hoffryn laughed. "And you think I had something to do with this? Young lady, believe me, if I were to take revenge on you, you would know it. And if any of my charges came up with something as puerile as turning paramedics into flightless birds, they would not be my charges for long. In any event, this is not my doing. And," he said, looking at Willow, "I would appreciate you not summoning me for matters this trivial again." He teleported away.

Xander said, "Is anyone kind of glad that he's NOT the one responsible?"

Everyone nodded their heads.

When they got back downstairs, Willow said, "I take it you're not looking forward to right after 9 this morning?"

Buffy shook her head. "That would be no. I'm just going to make sure I'm not doing anything, with anyone, and that any meetings I have are rescheduled. Just in case. I don't want to see Principal Wood turned into a turnip, or my cup of coffee turn into a duck."

"Or a vampire," Dawn said.

"Well, THANK YOU for putting that idea in my head . . ."

X X X X X

In fact, Buffy didn't have any early appointments, and no walk-ins that lasted longer than five minutes. At 9 o'clock she put a "back in fifteen minutes" sign up on her desk and wandered towards the faculty lounge.

She sat down, poured herself a cup of coffee, gulped it down, and sat very still for five minutes.

Nothing happened for the first 4:59.

And all of a sudden, at exactly 9:05 (Buffy checked her watch) the room changed. The coffee machine became a rusted hulk, the coffeepot a mess of shards, the table changed from a nice wooden one into a rickety card table with three legs, the refrigerator's door vanished (and the inside was filled with mold and mildew instead of faculty lunches), the carpet ripped and became filthy, the paint peeled, the cabinet doors variously fell off, hung by one hinge, or simply swing open, the light bulb blew, and Buffy got dumped onto the floor when her chair collapsed underneath her.

Principal Wood chose that moment to stick his head into the room. "Summers -" he said. "You know, just because they call it a break room, that doesn't mean you actually BREAK the room."

If looks could kill, Buffy would have been under indictment.

X X X X X

"Well, Ethan was right about one thing," Buffy told her friends later that day. "Twelve hours, right on the button. Every 9:05 something's going to happen. Until we figure out why it's happening - and why it's happening to me."

"At least no one went poof this time," Willow said. Keith Pulaski and the two EMT's hadn't shown up yet. "Still, if it's not Ethan, I'm out of ideas."

"Well, doing nothing didn't work," Xander said. "Why not try doing SOMETHING?"

"Huh?"

"Well, you know when it's going to strike," Xander said. "So why not control what you're doing then? Maybe if we know exactly what you're doing we can start figuring out a pattern."

"Not a bad idea," Buffy said. "Tell you what. Come up with a few ideas. Willow, you go do whatever it is you were going to do anyway and meet me back here around nine. Dawn - and I can't believe I'm saying this on a school night - I want you to stay out late. At least until ten. You know, just in case we get a gateway into a demon dimension, or the house collapses, or -"

"I get it," Dawn said. "And you know what goes really well with staying out late?"

"What?" Buffy asked suspiciously.

"Twenty bucks to spend on pizza."

Dawn got ten.

X X X X X

A quick early patrol netted Buffy zero vamps, and the only demons she ran across turned out to be a perfectly harmless pair of Burchells' out for a romantic evening down by the garbage dump. (You don't ask, I won't tell you.)

Still, she was back at home well before nine o'clock. Xander and Willow were waiting; Xander had five items on the table and said, "take your pick." There was a dime, a baseball, a handheld crossbow, an Alanis CD and a bean.

"Slight change of plans," Buffy said. "We're going to do this in the backyard. You know, if something's going to happen I'd rather it not be to the living room sofa. Or ON the living room sofa."

Shortly after nine, the three of them walked into the backyard. Xander and Willow moved back to a safe distance, and Buffy started tossing the bean into the air.

"Three, two, one . . ." Xander said. And right on cue the bean transformed.

Unfortunately for Buffy, it transformed into a black bear. Buffy barely had time to duck out of the way before the animal hit the ground.

It seemed more surprised than angry, thank God; but it must have weighed a good four hundred pounds and Buffy was in no mood to settle bets to see which one of them would win in a fight. The bear growled.

She didn't need to be told twice. Xander and Willow had already ran for the back door, and Buffy began backing slowly away, all the time saying, "Nice bear. Good bear. Why the hell couldn't I have picked the dime?"

The bear didn't chase her, but did keep growling. It seemed like forever before she made it back to the house, but when she checked her watch it was only 9:08. Xander opened the door when she got there, and slammed it shut behind her. "You know that idea you had to do this outside?" Xander asked. Buffy nodded. "One of your better calls."

"Yeah," Buffy said.

Willow hung up the phone. "That was animal control," Buffy said. "They're on their way." As everyone walked into the living room, she asked "You couldn't have picked the dime?"

Buffy's growl was louder than the bear's. ANY bear's.

X X X X X

Animal control had been and gone when Dawn walked in forty-five minutes later, her shirt stained with pizza sauce, and said "What happened?"

After some intense conversation, they'd come with precisely jack. Xander explained the bean-black bear transmogrification, and all the ideas they'd had.

"What kind of bean?" Dawn asked.

"Black bean, I think," Xander said.

"Hmm."

Buffy started. "I know that hmm. That's the hmm of someone who has an idea."

"It's stupid," Dawn said.

"It might be, but right now a stupid idea would be better than all these non-ideas we have lying around. Spill."

"I was just thinking it's too bad there's not a specific type of god, that's all."

Buffy blew out a breath between clenched teeth. "WHAT type of god?"

Dawn told them.

X X X X X

It was the next morning. Buffy didn't have to work, Willow didn't have class and Xander pleaded car trouble.

Which only left Dawn.

"I'm staying," she said firmly.

Buffy pointed to the door.

"But, but - I figured it out," she said with some justice. "Why shouldn't I be here?"

Buffy saved herself the headache. "Okay. I owed you one anyway. I'll even write you a note."

"Yay!" Dawn said, grinning.

"Just don't make a habit of it."

"Don't make a habit of saving the day?" Dawn asked innocently. "Okay. Next time I figure it out before you do, I'll just whistle a merry tune and head up to my room."

Buffy stuck out her tongue at her sister as Willow came downstairs, carrying an armload of magical paraphernalia and a faded scroll.

"Got everything?" Buffy asked.

"Right here." Then she frowned. "Are you sure this'll work?"

"No," Buffy said. "But look at it this way. It can only really fail one way."

So they killed time, once again, until 9 o'clock. Willow had already spread out magical powder in a circle on the rug, and Buffy went over and sat down in the center of it.

"Espada, god of swords," she said. "Hear now this warrior's call . . ."

They'd timed the ritual perfectly, and at precisely 9:05 Buffy finished it and stood up.

Suddenly she found herself . . . elsewhere. More precisely, in a well- appointed office, with bookshelves lining the walls. In the middle of the office was the largest desk Buffy had ever seen; solid mahogany, if she was any judge.

"It is mahogany," the man seated behind the desk said.

Buffy said, a bit confused, "You read my mind?"

"I . . . know your words," the man said. "I am Lexicon, the god of words. Do you have an appointment?" He spoke very precisely. "You don't need the very," Lexicon added.

"Okay . . . no, I don't have an appointment, but I do need to talk to you. My name is Buffy Summers; I'm the Slayer."

Lexicon's eyes widened. "Not really. I simply opened my eyelids a bit. So you're the Slayer. What do you need to discuss?"

"I hate to say this," Buffy said. "But some typoes are slipping through."

"That's typos, no e," Lexicon said a bit absent-mindedly. Then he half- stood up. "What? That's impossible."

"No, it isn't." And then Buffy explained what had happened.

How a stake had turned into a steak.

How a guard had become a gourd.

How a pair of EMT's had become a pair of emus.

How a break room - and this one had been the hardest to figure out - had become a bleak room.

How a black bean had changed into a black bear.

And finally, how a ritual requesting he attention of the god of swords had gotten the attention of the god of words.

Lexicon frowned. "Let me check something . . ." he picked up the phone and said, "Miss Spelling. Bring me the records for Buffy Summers. Last two days, twelve hours and ten minutes, inclusive." A few seconds later - "Actually, it was at least half a minute," Lexicon corrected - a woman brought a sheaf of papers in and laid them on Lexicon's desk. "Sheaf. Very nice. Not many people use that word these days," Lexicon commented as he began to read through the pages.

Buffy just decided to let Lexicon's comments on her thoughts pass, and she went over to inspect some of the books on the shelves. She'd expected dictionaries, grammar books, and so on, but what she got was a wide array of fiction - everything from Dante's Inferno to romance novels.

And then she thought, of course; he already knows all the words, all the rules. But he doesn't necessarily know every single way they might be put together well.

"Ms. Summers," Lexicon said. "I've been going over the records and you are absolutely correct. Somehow typos have crept into the system. Blame it on a vacationing underling who hadn't properly trained her replacement. Every 9:05, they get a coffee break, but what they're supposed to do is get someone to cover for them in the brief period they're gone. The replacement did not do this."

Buffy nodded her head, not sure what to say here.

"That's good. Too many people insist on filling every gap with unnecessary speech. That makes my job more difficult. Incidentally, the underling has been yanked away from her vacation, and no more mistakes of that nature will be made in the future. You can be certain of that."

"Thank you," Buffy said.

"I'm especially bothered by that second one," Lexicon said. "There ARE going to be occasional typos, but our staff usually catches them in time, and they're usually harmless. The way it works around here, if you think you're going to eat a banana and you wind up eating a vanana, it reverts back to banana, because there is no such word as vanana in the language you're using. But those are one-letter errors. Guard/gourd? That's a two- letter mistake. That shouldn't happen."

"I suppose I should be lucky the EMT's didn't change into cats, or eels, then," Buffy said. "That would have been harder to figure out."

"It would have," Lexicon said. "We would have gotten it eventually, but it would have taken a lot longer and who knows what chaos might have been wreaked in that time. Now, the question is, how to thank you."

"That wasn't technically a question," Buffy said.

Lexicon laughed. "So it wasn't."

"I don't need a reward," Buffy said. "I'm more worried about making certain everything's changed back to the way it should be." After a pause. "You can do that, right?"

"I can't change history, if that's what you're asking. But the ambulance drivers and Mr. Pulaski should reappear safe and sound, and the room should resume its normal condition." He smiled. "I am assuming you care little about the bean and the stake."

"And what are they going to say about having suddenly taken off for a few days? Is there something you can do to help them there too, or is that just their tough luck?"

"I see the problem," Lexicon said. "I cannot make it as though they had never disappeared. However, because this was due to circumstances beyond their control, I will alter words in their favor. They will suffer as few consequences as I can manage." He nodded. "Is that sufficient?"

"It'll do," Buffy said.

"And now for your reward."

"I said," Buffy said firmly, "I don't need a reward."

"Firmly. Nice touch. Ms. Summers, this is not about what you need. It is about what you want." Before Buffy could protest, Lexicon held up a hand. "At some point in the future, you may call on me one time to alter a word in your favor."

"So I get to change a cat into a car," Buffy said. "That could be useful . . ."

Again, Lexicon smiled. "You misapprehend me. I did not say a letter; I said a word. Say the first noun that comes into your head."

"Vampire."

"Say the second."

"Um . . . apple pie."

On a blank sheet of paper in front of him, Lexicon wrote down the word "telephone," then erased it and replaced it with "apple pie."

When he erased the word, the phone dissolved, and when he wrote apple pie, one appeared.

Now Buffy got it. Lexicon replaced "apple pie" with "telephone," and his phone rematerialized, "I don't believe I need to emphasize this," he said. "But choose your word carefully. Now, I need to return to work, so . . ."

He wrote, "Buffy Summers is standing in Lexicon's office," and then began to eras

X X X X X

The next thing Buffy knew, she was back standing in her living room, saying "Hey!"

"Hey?" Dawn asked.

"Doesn't matter," Buffy said.

Xander said, "So do we have to worry about Dawn here turning into someone's front yard?" Everyone looked at him. "Lawn."

"Everyone and everything should be back to normal," Buffy said. "Normal being defined, of course, as 'Sunnydale normal' and not 'rest-of-the-world normal'."

"Good to hear," Xander said.

"What was the god like?" Willow asked.

"Surprisingly pleasant. I didn't get threatened even once, and he even gave me a reward."

Dawn asked, "What kind of reward?"

"Hard to explain . . . let's just say that if we ever need anything, all I have to do is say the word. Literally."

"Good," Willow said. "A nice, friendly god."

"For once," Xander said.

"Although," Buffy said, a bit of exasperation in her voice, "He COULD HAVE FRIGGING WARNED ME HOW HE WAS GOING TO SEND ME BACK!"

A note appeared from thin air. Buffy grabbed it as it fluttered to the floor and read it:

"Really, Ms. Summers, there was no need to capitalize . . ."

The End

You have reached the end of "Steak". This story is complete.

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