Ch 34. In which a lesson is learned.
I don’t own Buffy, I don’t own Highlander, I don’t own CSI, I don’t own Warcraft. I own my wardrobe and my books…that’s about it.
Ch 34. In Which a Lesson is Learned.
Buffy crept stealthily after Xander and Spike. It wasn’t easy with their heightened senses, but unbeknownst to them, she’d been doing this since the whole beheading thing. Sometimes Oz patrolled with them, but tonight the Dingos were playing at the Bronze. She knew they were mad at her, but she still needed to be sure her Xander-shaped friend was safe. At least that was it at first. As the weeks passed, Buffy the Vampire Slayer was force to admit that this new and improved Xander didn’t need protection. His training with those…people…seemed to have done the job. She felt a flush of shame.
To Keep Your Xander Safe: Step One, Teach your Xander to fight. Not, Wrap your Xander in Bubble wrap and lock in the closet.
In her attempts to keep her friend safe, she’d stopped being a friend. Hindsight needed no glasses. Why was it that she never saw her stupidity until it cost her something she didn’t even know she could lose? Trouble was, she didn’t know how to fix it. She still didn’t like Phoenix. She still couldn’t trust Spike. And she still had no idea what to make of the new Xander-Oz combo. Was the whole world secretly gay? Not that it mattered but…was it?
She knew she couldn’t approach Xander, not even with an apology, until she had her head figured out, or she’d just do the whole foot-in-mouth thing again. She sighed, but not too loudly.
She was about to leave to do a separate patrol as Xander and Spike left the cemetery, but stopped when Xander’s head jerked up. That usually meant Phoenix was coming…and how weird was that?
But, no Phoenix, just some kid leaning on a motorcycle just across the street from the graveyard.
“I was wondering if you’d step off Holy Ground,” the guy said. “Unless you’re gonna dive right back onto it, you and me have an appointment.”
“Didn’t see you on my calendar, Mr…?” Xander snarked back.
“Ryan. Richard H. Ryan. And I don’t need to know your name to take your head,” Ryan declared.
Buffy had been ready to move between them, but stopped herself. Take your head? Phoenix hadn’t made that up?
Xander’s face looked pinched as he lifted his sword. He said, “Challenging me won’t get you a safe place to stay, Richie, but my Teacher told Adam Pierson that if you needed it you have it for as long as you’re willing to play nice.”
Ryan froze, lowering the sword he held slightly. Suspiciously, he asked, “You know Adam?”
Xander shook his head. “My Teacher knows him. Adam called to warn him about the Dark Quickening. I only heard Delvin’s end of the conversation, but what I got from it was avoid the possessed, self-righteous Scotsman and keep an eye out for Richie Ryan.”
“How do I know this isn’t a trick?” Ryan asked, but his sword dropped a little further. Buffy half-hoped it was, because she didn’t like the idea of the obviously homicidal man staying with Xander.
Xander snorted, lowering his axe a bit too. “’Cause if I was lying, I could come up with something a lot better than ‘I know a guy who knows a guy who knows you.”
“Yeah, that would be pretty lame as far as lies go,“ Ryan laughed. He hesitated, and then put his sword away. Buffy blinked. His sword vanished like magic under that biker jacket. Xander smiled and his axe vanished, just the same as the other guy’s did. She was sooooo learning that move.
“I’m Xander Harris. That’s Spike.” The vampire nodded tersely. Maybe he was disappointed in the lack of bloodshed. “And we know you are Richie Ryan. Or do you like Richard?”
“Richie’s fine,” Ryan said. “Richard is for challenges. And, ya know, about that…” He looked embarrassed. Xander waved it off.
“Meh, if you were anyone else, I might have accepted, but this town isn’t the safest place for a challenge, if that isn’t an oxymoron in and of itself….oh goddess, I’m using proper words! I’m really gonna try to kill my Teacher at least once tomorrow.” He caught sight of Ryan’s amused face and stopped. “I can explain later though. There’s a great band on tonight at the Bronze. If you’re not too tired we can go there before heading home.”
Ryan shrugged. “I got no place else to be.” He sounded really young just then.
Xander smiled that bright smile and Buffy’s heart clenched. She hadn’t seen that smile directed at her since months before that night. That cursed night.
Do it without me from now on!
Now he could bestow that smile on a man that just wanted to kill him, but not her. And it was her own fault. Buffy turned away, sick with emotional wreckage. In her distraction, she completely missed the winged shadow following her.
I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m trying to push through the block on this story but it’s beating me down. I’ll try not to go so long without an update again.