A/N: Thanks for all your wonderful reviews. I'm excited about this and your response so I just keep on writing!!
Breaking Through part 3
Xander woke up in his normal state of confusion. It was sad to say, but lately he never remembered where he was when he first woke up. The constant moves since the fall of Sunnydale had that affect on him but this time something was different and he blinked his eyes open and stared at the ceiling before he realized what it was.
He wasn’t alone in the bed. In fact, he doubly wasn’t alone in the bed as there were warm bodies on either side of them. Xander sighed when he focused on the fact that they were both warm—hey, with his luck, you never knew—and then he tried to figure out exactly where he was and who was in bed with him.
The events of the previous night came rushing back. Willow sending he and Faith to the other dimension to keep them “safe”, and boy was he going to have to have a chat with her about her idea of “safe” these days, finding Oz in said other dimension and then to top it all off meeting up with a scary gun lady, a freaky flying vampire and lots of lycanthropes. Just another day at the office of Xan Man.
Xander pulled one arm up and immediately checked to make sure his patch was securely in position before turning his head to the left so he could make out the body on that side. It was Oz, and his friend was curled up against him and still sleeping peacefully. Xander turned his head to the right and found Faith, her back to him and facing the door, guarding him even in her sleep.
Lifting his head, Xander eyed the clock on the bedside table and saw that he’d only been asleep for a couple hours. It was tempting to snuggle back up in the warmth and comfort of his friends but Xander knew he wouldn’t be getting back to sleep this night. One of the downfalls of everything he’d been through the past few months were the constant nightmares. He didn’t complain but it was getting harder and harder for him to keep up with everyone. He wasn’t some sixteen year old super powered slayer that could leap tall buildings in a single bound. But if he were honest, even Giles seemed to be adapting to their new lifestyle better than he was.
Knowing sleep was futile at this point, Xander slid carefully from the bed and when Faith peeled open an eye to look at him, he rubbed her arm and told her to go back to sleep. She didn’t need to be told twice. Xander dressed quickly and slipped out of their room, closing the door behind him. The house was dark so he moved as quietly as he could for the kitchen and the coffee pot he’d noticed the night before.
It was strange that everything in this world was so much the same. Hell, even the coffee pots were the same, and Xander made sure to send up a prayer of thanks for that small favor. Xander was searching for the elusive coffee when he heard footsteps behind him. Turning quickly and putting his back to the wall, Xander waited to see who was up. He wasn’t sure whether to be relieved or concerned when he saw Anita stride into the kitchen scowling.
She looked surprised to see him and they stopped and stared at each other awkwardly for a moment before she moved to the fridge and pulled out a container. Then she got out some other thing that didn’t look familiar to Xander. He realized it was a bean grinder when she added the fresh beans from the container and it ground to life.
Anita fixed the pot and started to leave. She looked back over her shoulder at him. “I’ll be back in a minute.” He nodded and wondered what exactly you were supposed to say when you woke up in a stranger’s house and were surrounded by supernatural forces. He was sure Buffy would think of something witty and clever. Xander thought his sense of humor was buried under Sunnydale.
Anita returned a few minutes later, strapping a very lethal looking gun into a shoulder holster. Xander tried not to tense up but he was sure Anita sensed his reaction. She ignored it though and moved to the cabinet to get out a couple coffee cups. Slipping one under the still dripping machine, she filled the other from the pot in a well practiced maneuver. She held it out to him while quickly filling the second for herself.
They drank quietly for a few moments and each felt the caffeine start to do its work. Xander felt himself start to babble, in fact was about to comment on the size of Anita’s gun, when he decided he’d better just shut up and drink. Of course, the coffee was still too hot for the size of gulp he took and Xander coughed and sputtered as his eyes watered from the heat in his mouth and throat.
Anita arched a brow at him. They looked at each other. He couldn’t stand the quiet any more so when he stopped coughing he decided to give conversation a try. “Sorry. I was just trying to think of something clever to say but everything I can think of involves you and the size of your gun and I just don’t think you’d find it funny so I’m trying to shut up and just drink my coffee which is very rare for me but I’m thinking wise in the present situation.”
After taking a moment to process what he’d said, Anita found herself smiling. “Yeah, it’s usually not smart to comment on the size of a lady's gun. It could be taken as an insult.”
“Oh, but it’s a really big gun! And oh my god, you were kidding weren’t you? Now I’m embarrassed.”
She laughed. “Don’t be.” Her pager went off before she could say anything else. Picking up the phone, she dialed quickly. “Dolph? Anita.” Xander watched her listen and her face changed from the happy smile they’d been sharing to a colder, harder version of the woman he’d met last night. The transformation was scary, and Xander didn’t scare easily no matter what the girls said when they’d put that creepy clown picture on his pillow.
By the time Anita ended the call she was all business. She took another gulp of her coffee before rinsing the now empty mug and sitting it in the sink. “I’ve got to go. Crime scene. You need anything?”
Xander shook his head. “Crime scene?”
Anita smiled grimly. “I’m a federal marshall.”
Before Xander could think of a response, she was gone. He heard the jeep start moments later and then pull away. Xander refilled his coffee and went out the back door to sit on the porch. His mind was still going quickly, wondering at this strange world he was in. He settled back on the porch chair to enjoy the quiet.
He wasn’t sure how long he’d been outside when he heard soft footsteps. Xander looked up to see Nathaniel standing at the porch door, watching him. Xander could feel a blush rising so he looked quickly away. It really wasn’t fair for a guy to look that good. Nathaniel stepped out onto the porch hesitantly. Xander decided to suck it up and be friendly. “Grab a seat. It’s a beautiful morning.”
Nathaniel smiled gratefully at the invitation and curled up on the chair next to Xander. They each sipped their coffee and looked out at the woods bordering the backyard. Xander wanted to make conversation but really what do you ask a wereleopard who was stunningly good looking and involved in a supernatural world that was beyond anything Xander could have imagined. Xander tried for subtle. “So, what do you do?”
Nathaniel’s lavender eyes crinkled a bit at the corners and Xander found himself embarrassed again. He blushed and looked away, staring at his now empty cup and thinking that maybe he should get up and get another refill and pretend he’d kept his big mouth shut.
Xander started to get up but Nathaniel’s hand on his arm stopped him. “Xander? Don’t go. I’m sorry. I wasn’t laughing at you, really. It’s just, I was imagining your reaction.” Nathaniel looked upset now and Xander wasn’t sure what had made him go from smiling to frowning so fast. He sat back down and waited for Nathaniel to continue.
“I’m a stripper. Over at Jean Claude’s club Guilty Pleasures.” Nathaniel didn’t look away although Xander could see that he was worried about his reaction to the news. Xander wasn’t quite sure what Nathaniel thought would be so funny about his reaction. What did he think he was going to do? Blow a gasket? Run screaming away from the scary stripper man?
Xander fumed and Nathaniel was growing more and more upset. By the time Xander calmed down, Nathaniel was nearly in tears. “I’m so sorry, Xander. I didn’t mean it. Please, I didn’t mean to upset you.”
Forcing his irritation aside, Xander turned again to Nathaniel. “What did you think I was going to do?”
Nathaniel blushed and looked down. “I thought you would blush and then do that thing where you talk a lot. It makes me smile when you do that. I’m really sorry, Xander. I shouldn’t have laughed at you.”
Now it was Xander’s turn to laugh. “You were hoping for some Xander babble? Now that’s a first! Most people are hoping to avoid the Xander babble!” Xander’s good mood returned now that he knew Nathaniel wasn’t thinking the worst of him. “Besides, I can’t be all embarrassed about the stripper thing cause I was one.”
It was Nathaniel’s turn to be astonished. He couldn’t believe that Xander was a stripper. He waited for an explanation and Xander, seeing his puzzlement, began his tale. “Well, several years ago, my car broke down in Oxnard. There was this club there and I was dishwashing. One night a dancer called in sick and one thing led to another.” They continued talking and Xander soon had Nathaniel cracking up at his exploits as a stripper for a night.
By the time Anita returned from the crime scene a couple hours later, they were talking and laughing like they’d been friends for years. She paused at the door, appreciating the sight of Nathaniel happy and carefree. It made the memory of the scene she’d just witnessed easier to bear somehow.
Everyone else was still in bed. Looking at the clock, she realized that they’d only been asleep for 6 hours. More than she was used to getting, but still not enough for most folks. Nathaniel moved to her side as soon as he saw her and she hugged him to her. It never grew easier seeing the bloody messes she was called to, especially when there were kids involved.
This time, it was a young girl. Whoever had killed her had done so in a violent fit of rage and there were so many magical signatures that Anita still hadn’t really sorted everything out. The only thing she’d been able to determine is that whatever it was, it was powerful and it was pissed off. Anita knew she hadn’t seen the last crime scene on this case but she was damned sure going to try to get it figured out before it killed again.
Nathaniel went into the kitchen to start breakfast and Xander wasn’t sure if he should follow or stay. Anita sat down on the chair abandoned by Nathaniel so Xander waited. He figured she would have more questions for him but she just stared into the woods. The look was frighteningly familiar to Xander. Buffy used to get the same look everytime one of the bad guys got away.
He looked to Anita. “Want to talk about it?”
Anita was a little surprised by the question. Most people avoided her when she was like this and for good reason. She wasn’t known for her patience but something about the sincerity in Xander’s tone soothed away her anger. “Not really. Just a bad scene this morning and I don’t think we’ve seen the last of this one.”
Xander sat back in his chair. “What kind of bad guy was it? Vampire? Lycan? Demon? Witchcraft?”
“Xander, I can’t talk about an open case.”
“Right, sorry. Well, I guess I could pretend not to know anything about this stuff so you won’t ask any awkward questions but the thing is, I’m not all that great at lying and believe it or not, I have a little experience dealing with the things that go bump in the night. So if you need someone to bounce ideas off of, you can talk to me. I’m kind of used to it.” Xander stopped talking and settled back into his chair.
Nathaniel called them into breakfast before Anita could ask anything else. Anita was glad for the interruption. She’d almost taken him up on his offer.