TITLE: Summer Daze
DISCLAIMER: Joss, Fox, UPN and whoever, own all things Buffy. TNT and them own The Pretender. *Sigh* I wish I did, but I don’t. Everyone else is owned by the rightful owners and what not. Kay?
7:06 PM June 7
The Magic Box
Alexander Harris, Xander to everyone, sat in The Magic Box flipping through a book. “Do you actually sell these?”
The new proprietor of the shop stood up from behind the counter. He was a Japanese boy, no older then 20, with longish dark hair. He shrugged. “Not really, but even if the language wasn’t a turn off, the price would be.”
Xander nodded absently as he continued to look at the tome. “Uh huh.”
“It’s $346. So if you do anything to it, you buy it.”
Xander snapped the book shut and pushed it across the table from him. “Well, I’m done. How are you doing on business anyway, Ranma?”
Ranma shrugged again. “Nothing new. Just the same regulars and every once in awhile a vampire.” He hopped over the counter and joined Xander at the table. “My best sellers lately are the one of a kind items I’m stocking up on now.”
Xander’s eyes filled with curiosity. “One of a kind?”
“Yeah. I’ve seen a lot of things traveling, so I know a lot about specialty stuff.” Ranma told him. “I order them under that Giles’ guy’s name and have them shipped over.”
“Oh.” Xander frowned. “Why not use your own name?”
“Are you kidding me?” Ranma’s eyes grew wide with panic, “If I did that, everyone would know where to find me! No way. I’m not going through that again. I left that all behind. I’ll take a hellmouth over crazy tomboys any day!”
The bell on the door jingled as Buffy walked in, her Doublemeat Palace uniform slightly singed and smelling of smoke. “Hey guys. Uh.. no leftovers for you.”
Xander jumped to his feet and rushed over to her, “What happened? Are you okay? Why are you off early? What’s wrong?”
“Long story, I’m fine, it deals with the long story, and I’m out of a job.” Buffy answered as he led her to a seat.
Ranma slid Xander’s can of soda over to her, “Do we get to hear the story?”
Buffy took a sip and nodded. “I was at work—”
“We can tell from the smell.” Ranma teased.
Buffy glared at him but continued. “And everything was fine. But then Chloe started a grease fire and Rick tried to put it out, only he threw god knows what onto it, and it just got bigger. So I rushed everyone outside and tried to put it out myself, but the fire extinguisher ended up empty and then something blew up in the kitchen and I barely hit the floor before something almost took my head off.”
The two men stared at her in shock as she went on.
“I managed to get out and then the place just..” She made a gesture with her hands, “Whoosh! It was like a roman candle the way it lit up!” She sighed. “So now I’m out of a job.”
“What are you going to do?” Xander asked her, “I know your dad’s paying for school, but what about the house?”
“I’ll just find another job.” Buffy sighed again. “I’ll figure something out.”
Ranma glanced around the building and shrugged, “You could always work for me. It’s not like I really know what I’m doing. I just needed a place to stay.”
Buffy frowned, “I don’t know.. I tried it. Me and retail do not mix.”
“No, you and the Groundhog Day syndrome don’t mix.” Xander corrected with a smirk. “That and cars, mummy hands, scented candles, beer..” He shut up as Buffy threw her Doublemeat Palace hat at his face. “Hey!”
“We get the picture.” Buffy stuck her tongue out at him.
“What’s wrong with Buffy and scented candles?” Ranma asked curiously.
Jarod sat quietly, his mind reeling at the news. He sat in a simple desk chair in the small apartment he was calling ‘home’. The lights were off, and the only illumination was the screen of his computer reflecting off his still face.
**I’m a father,** he thought. **Damn them. First my life.. now this?** He stood up, and knocked the chair over in anger. “Damn them!”
He let out a deep breath and closed his eyes as he tried to calm down. “Focus. I need focus.” He uttered under his breath. The pretender continued to breathe deeply, trying to purge the rage from his system. Finally, Jarod opened his eyes and picked the chair off the floor and placed it back in front of the desk. He sat back down and stared at the screen.
He clicked a few keys and quickly learned he had mail. As it loaded, Jarod’s mind wandered. **I don’t even know if it’s a boy or a girl.. or who the mother is. What’s their life been like?**
His thoughts were interrupted as a picture appeared on screen. It was a photo of the cover of a Sunnydale High yearbook. Scrawled in white in the bottom corner was ‘1999’.
“Thank you Angelo.” Jarod murmured and set to work.
9:07 AM June 8
The streets of Sunnydale, CA
“So I will walk.. through the fire..” Buffy sang softly as she walked around town. She shook her head. “What the hell? Bad Buffy! No singing!” She smiled to herself. “At least it was catchy.”
She turned a corner towards the street that housed the Expresso Pump and ran straight into one Jarod Taylor.
“Son of—” Buffy swore as she grimaced. “I’m sooo sorry, Professor Taylor!”
Jarod brushed himself off and gave her a somewhat weak smile. “It’s alright.” He glanced at her, “You seem to be in a rush.”
Buffy nodded. “Heh.. Job hunting.”
He frowned, “I thought you had a job.”
“I did.” Buffy sighed and ran a hand through her hair. “But it kind of blew up last night.”
“It blew up?” Jarod’s filled with shock. “What happened?”
Buffy looked down, “Grease fire, chain reaction. Completely inconceivable in a normal place, but this is Sunnydale.” She shrugged and looked up at him, “So now I need a job. I have bills to pay, a mortgage and god knows what else.”
“A mortgage?” Jarod asked her, “Aren’t you a bit young to have that?”
She shook her head. “Long story.. Anyway, I have to get going.” She pointed towards the Expresso Pump, “Job hunting waits for no girl.”
Jarod frowned as she walked by him and he turned and grabbed her arm. “I could use an assistant.”
The blonde stopped and turned back, “Huh?”
“I’m trying to track down some possible family here in town.” He paused, “With classes and my other.. research, I’m not sure I’ll be able to finish anything on time. I could use some help.”
Buffy looked at him curiously, her interest peaked, “How much?”
“Double minimum wage?”
Buffy’s eyes widened, and alarm bells went off in her head. **This is too easy. Something is definitely not right.** She nodded. “Deal. What do you need done?”
Buffy soon found out what her new job was. Getting info on the entire class of 1999 of good old Sunnydale High. She lay stretched out on her bed, flipping through files as best she could on Willow’s laptop.
“Hey, Xand.” She replied as she worked. “Let yourself in again?”
Xander nodded from the door, “Yeah.” He sat himself down next to her on the bed. “Quiet here.”
“Lonely too.” Buffy added. “I miss them.”
The two sat in silence, the sound of Buffy clicking the keys echoing off the walls.
“So..” Xander began, “What are you up to? I thought you were job hunting today.”
She nodded, “I was. Professor Taylor hired me to do some personal research for him.”
“Your mythology professor?” He asked her.
“Yeah.” She pulled herself onto her knees and slid back into a sitting position so she was next to Xander. “He’s paying double what the palace was, and all he wants is as much info as I can dig up on our graduating class.” She waved to the computer, “I’m doing a lousy job though. Willow could do better.”
“She’s the best.” Xander nodded slowly in agreement. He quickly shifted topics to avoid the empty feeling they both shared. “Why does he want info on us?”
“He wants to find a lost family member. Or so he says. I asked him for more info, but all he really gave me was that the kid was adopted.”
“How are you going to get into those records?” Xander asked. “No offense, Buff, but hacking isn’t on your list of skills.”
With a sigh, Buffy nodded, “I know. But something told me I needed to do this. I’m not sure what it is, but I get that feeling we’re going to be involved.”
“Pretty much.” She reached over and pulled the laptop over to her. “I’m not sure how to go about doing this.” She tapped the screen, “I did find out something though.”
“Half our class is all the way across country.”
Xander blinked, “What?”
She grinned. “They bolted as far from here as they could get.” She closed her eyes and leaned back. “Wish I could do that sometimes.”
“You mean ‘we’.” Xander corrected.
“No. Me.” She sat up again and poked him in the chest, “YOU can leave anytime you want.”
Xander shook his head. “And leave my Buffy? Can’t do that. That’d be like cutting off an arm for no reason.”
She smiled at him, “You’re stubborn.”
“Yes, well I got it from you.” He flashed her a crooked grin.
Buffy responded to that with a pillow to his face.
While Buffy was busy bantering with Xander and trying to do her ‘job’, Jarod was following some leads of his own, about a certain set of scrolls…
Jarod paused as he looked at the shop that stood before him. “The Magic Box.” He murmured with a curious look. He shrugged and entered the shop, a bell jingling as he stepped through the door. He was greeted by a male voice.
“Can I help you?” The boy was probably no older then Buffy and his voice had a strong japanese accent.
Jarod nodded, “I hope so. I’m looking for something on Vespasians and prophetic scrolls.”
The boy blinked at him, his face blank. “Uh huh. Research stuff. Okay. Uh..” He pointed to the set of bookshelves across the room. “Um, might want to try there.” He shrugged at Jarod’s look. “Hey, I just sell the stuff.”
Jarod gave a slight inward sigh and headed for the books. As he skimmed the titles, he heard the bell jingle and a loud curse. He looked out of the corner of his eye to see a young man covered in a blanket at the door. With a strange sense of curiosity he listened as he began plucking a few books off the shelf.
“What are you doing here?” The japanese boy spat out.
“Looking for Buffy, you bloody bastard.” The new guy responded.
The boy narrowed his eyes at the British blond. “She’s not here, Spike, now get the hell out before I make sure you’re nothing but a memory.”
Spike glared at him, “You really are stupid aren’t you, Ranma. You think you can take me? I’d like to see you bloody well try.”
Ranma got in a fighting stance, “Then I guess you’ll get to see, you corpse.”
The blond’s eyes narrowed and he hissed. “I don’t know what your problem is with me, but this isn’t over you punk.”
Not moving, Ranma stared him down, “I know all about everything you did. Coward. Now leave before I make you. You aren’t welcome here.”
With a growl, Spike covered himself with the blanket again and practically ripped the door off its hinges as he exited.
Ranma eased out of his stance and shook his head. “Baka.”
Jarod frowned at the scene as he sat down at the table with several books. He noticed Ranma staring at him, “I need to look through these before I can buy them.”
Ranma placed his hands behind his head and walked towards the counter, “Whatever. You break em, you buy em.”
As Jarod flipped through the books, he couldn’t help but wonder what that whole scene was about.