Chapter 3: Transitions II
Disclaimer: These aren't my characters, only my interpretation. Magneto belongs to Marvel, Buffy characters belong to Joss Whedon and the various studios/networks.
Author's Notes: Onwards we step forth, on and into the dark, where we know what to expect, but not what we'll find.*Edit* Has been edited for grammar and a few mistakes
“So, how's the head?” Buffy's voice rang out through the early morning light as she watched Xander shifting through careful, deliberate movements.
“One helluva headache,” her friend sent back as he slowly lifted his arm in a slow, controlled manner. “Wills wields a mean microscope.”
“Yeah, Cordelia's no slouch either,” the blonde girl admitted as she would shrug slightly. “Go Slayer Healing though.”
“Yeah, well, I'm just glad that they don't remember anything.” Xander grunted softly as he shifted again, ignoring the feelings of bruised discomfort that rippled through him. “I really don't want to have to deal with Cordy remembering I slugged her.”
“And you don't want Willow to know she missed it, right?” Buffy added teasingly as she would lean back against the fence, watching her friend as he moved through the slow form. “So, martial arts?”
“Yeah, another lovely thing from the magnetic renaissance man.” Xander grinned softly. “I wonder where the hell he found time to pick up everything he did. I had the memories, so figured I might as well put em to use, ya know?”
“Being able to do some fighting is of the good.” She nodded back at him with a slight grin on her lips. “But, I thought Magneto was all about his powers in his fights?”
“Decided to pick up some comics there, Buff?” He grinned back at her, his smile glistening slightly in the morning sun.
“Yeah, well I figured I'd learn a bit more about him, since my friend has his memories and all.” She shrugged slightly before watching how he continued through the motions. “So, what's with the getting his hands dirty stuff?”
“He was a bit paranoid?” Xander shrugged his response, half questioning it himself before pursing his lips. “He didn't ever want to be helpless again. And, well, it was kind of proven to be a smart thing later on. What with the people developing ways of suppressing mutant powers.”
“So, now we have kung-fu action Xander?” There was a bit of skepticism in her words as she looked him over, slowly, carefully.
“Nah.” he grinned back at her, his eyes dancing playfully. “He wasn't really interested in kung-fu.”
“So, what then?” She smirked slightly in response, her eyes twinkling just a bit as she stretched out with a slow, soft yawn.
“Mmm first, what're you doing up this early?” he looked her over as he responded. “Slayers still need their sleep as I recall.”
“Not so much as everyone else.” The girl shrugged a bit, “And I wanted to talk to you.”
“Uh oh.” Xander chuckled just a bit as he winked back at her. “Sounds like trouble.”
“Pretty much.” She nodded her head slightly before giving her friend a look. “So, how did you break free from its control?”
Xander froze softly in place, a slight twitch of his lips frowning downwards before he looked back at his friend, staring at him, pointedly, expectantly. “Noticed that did you?”
“Uh huh.” She nodded simply and shrugged. “No egg, but, in control Xan... And you weren't all that surprised when I started talking about little mind controlling demon spawn.”
“I'm not sure exactly why honestly” He shrugged slightly as he responded. “I had it try, and well... Not sure. Either there was already too much up here, too much residual from past possessions, too strong of will, or Halloween changed me more than I thought, or something I have no clue about.”
“So basically, no idea?” she offered up as she watched him slowly stretch.
“Too many ideas, not enough evidence to figure out which one's the most likely,” he responded offered her a slight grin. “I'm just glad. I kinda wish I'd boiled the thing like my first inclination was.”
“Would have helped.” Buffy admitted with a slight shrug of her own. “Just, its weird you know? You were the only one that the things couldn't take over...”
“Ya know, I found out something interesting,” Xander said softly as he slowly relaxed, turning his head towards his friend. “Hyena pack alphas? They're female.”
“Ah, so they aren't all of the bad then.” Buffy shot back with a playful wink.
“Yeah, but think about it though Buff,” he quietly pointed out. “I was the one the pack alpha possessed.”
“That is a bit odd,” the girl admitted with a slight shrug of her shoulders. “Maybe she knew quality?”
“Maybe.” He leaned back slightly. “It's just... a bit odd I guess. With the way things happened with those little puppet master things, I got to wondering. Maybe that's got something to do with it.”
“Maybe.” She shrugged back before grinning slightly. “Ah well, lets just not test to see just how far that ability to fight off nasties that want to control you goes.”
“Good idea.” He nodded back before stretching out slightly. “So, Wills forgiven us yet?”
“Eh, she's getting around to it I think.” Buffy made a face as she looked off into the distance. “It was just a stupid evil robot.”
“Yeah, I know,” he agreed with a nod. “I know.”
“Well, this officially sucks,” Xander said as he sank down into a chair next to Buffy. “I mean, this goes beyond usual hellmouthy-suckage, to a whole new level of previously unknown suckage.”
“I know,” Buffy spat out bitterly as she would hug her arms about her body. “I just... Everything was just... And now...”
“Yeah, I know.” Xander was rubbing his forehead. “At least we got The Judge taken care of.”
“Is it wrong of me, that I was glad that the rocket launcher didn't kill Angel too?” Buffy asked quietly.
“Yes,” Xander responded simply, before shrugging quietly. “But understandable.”
“We got lucky didn't we?” Buffy said softly, her eyes distant. “With that last minute supply shipment Willow managed to find going to the Sunnydale base... If not... I don't know how we would have beaten him in time.”
“Right... Lucky, uh huh.” Xander managed a slight smirk on his lips. “Buff, since when are we EVER that lucky?”
“But...” The blonde girl blinked slightly, before her eyes bulged slightly. “You mean you...?”
“Wasn't too hard to put the shipping orders in the system.” There was a slight, smug trace in his voice while he looked back at her. “Then, just letting Willow come across them after the suggestion.”
Buffy stared at her friend for a long, hard moment, before sighing as she slumped back into her seat. “Ok, that does make me feel a bit better.” She paused for a moment, sending him a slight glare. “Even if I think you're wrong for manipulating her like that.”
“I didn't manipulate her, not really,” he responded evenly. “I manipulated the Army if you want to get technical about it. I just offered up a suggestion that led Willow to discovering my manipulation of them, so if you want to get technical about it...”
“You manipulated her,” the girl said in a blunt, tired voice. “It would be so much simpler if you would just tell her. Then I wouldn't have to deal with all this extra stupidity.”
“You know why I can't do that Buff,” he spoke softly as he looked at her quietly.
“And that's what makes it worse!” She half growled and half sighed. “I KNOW why! I actually can't even blame you for it, because I've seen it myself. Its just with Angel and everything...”
“Yeah, I know,” Xander responded quietly as he would glance over towards the door for a moment, before sighing softly. “Wish you and Giles hadn't attacked Ms. Calendar like that.”
“She lied...” Buffy started, only to be cut off with a wave of Xander's hand.
“No offense, and I hate to sound stereotypical, but, she's a Romani a mission given to her by her tribe. Of course she lied.” He shook his head sadly before shrugging just a bit. “She was told to make sure he was still suffering, that he wasn't happy, and as far as she knew, he wasn't. Problem being, they didn't tell her WHY they needed to make sure that he wasn't happy.”
“But...” Again she began to protest, even as he reached over, and gently hugged against her shoulders. “I just...”
“I know, you want someone to blame,” he said it softly, closing his eyes for a moment. “I'd like to blame her damned uncle and the ones like him that never told her the clause. That never told her why... Actually, I'm kinda certain I am going to blame them.”
“Ah? And what does Xander blamage entail?” She smiled slightly even as he could see the glimmering tears welling in her eyes.
“Pointing fingers at, some yelling, scowling face, lots of disappointment...” Xander ticked off the various things with a slight smile on his lips. “Etc etc etc.”
“I see.” She nodded slowly and grinned just a bit before the corners of her lips slipped into a frown. “I still can't just forgive her you know.”
“I know,” he said it softly, quietly. “Just... give it some time. She really does like G-man I think, and I'm pretty sure he really does like her.”
“Yeah, I know,” she said quietly, before burying herself tightly up against him. “I'm a horrible person. I keep thinking that I'm glad she doesn't get to be with the guy she likes, because how I don't get to be with the one I want to be with.”
Xander nodded softly, his eyes growing distant for a moment, before offering her a slight, quiet smile. “It doesn't make you a horrible person Buff, it makes you human.”
“I wish I wasn't sometimes,” she responded quietly, as she curled back against him before she continued to speak. “I'm going to have to kill him.”
“I know,” he said it softly, gently stroking his fingers through her hair as she clutched tightly to his side.
“I'm not ready for it.” She shook her head slowly, quietly as she tightly closed her eyes. “I had him right there, in front of me. I had him right there... and I couldn't do it.”
“You will be,” he said softly, hugging her back as he looked down at her with quiet black eyes. “When the time's right, you will be.”
“I hope you're right,” she said softly. “I really hope you're right.”
Inwardly, Xander was quietly agreeing with her. He hoped he was too.
“Wow, that was quite a revelation, huh?” Xander spoke so casually as he watched Willow and Oz dancing happily to the music's beat. “I mean, seriously, who'd a thunk it?”
“What? Come on, we knew the werewolf was either Oz or Larry, why's that such a surprise?” Buffy looked confused as she sipped at her drink, eying her friend oddly.
“I meant Larry being gay actually.” Xander shrugged slightly. “I mean, I suppose it really, really should have been obvious, the way he was over compensating, but still...”
“Heh, aw, did he make poor Xan uncomfortable?” Buffy grinned back at him, teasing softly with a wink.
“Grrr at you I say woman!” the boy shot back with a sigh. “And I can't even ask you how you'd feel if a lesbian thought you were one too, because, that gives me the mmm...”
“Bad Xander!” The blonde girl glared lightly at him as she crossed her arms across her chest. “Knowing you, you'd be matching me up with Cordelia, wouldn't you?!”
“What're you two dweebs talking about now?” said brunette asked as she strolled into view, her eyes idly flickering from Buffy to Xander, studying the pair with an intensity in her eyes.
“Buffy was just telling me about thoughts of you and her being matched up,” Xander responded casually as he sent a cheeky smile across the table at his blonde friend.
“You're a dead man Xander Harris,” Buffy growled back as she send a death glare at him.
“Um, keep your dweeby, lesbian thoughts away from me, thank you!” Cordelia said with a slight grimace of disgust. “I really don't need to have THAT rumor starting up again.”
“Ah yes, that rumor did give me such happy thoughts...” Xander nodded sagely with a grin, letting the twin death glares the woman sent him, slide off him without a care.
“Actually, those were HIS thoughts, not mine,” Buffy said accusingly, before getting a down right predatory grin as she leaned over, and stage whispered to Cordelia. “I think he's trying to over compensate for Larry hitting on him the last couple of days.”
“Wait, football Larry?” Cordelia blinked slightly before she slid down into the seat next to Buffy, eyes wide. “So, wait, that rumor is actually TRUE?!” She blinked once more, then turned and stared across the table. “And he was hitting on XANDER?!”
“I'll go with the, 'Hey now!' Thank you very much,” the boy shot back as he gave a slight glare at the girl seated across from him. “Who was the one that was trying to kiss ME last time?”
Cordelia's mouth shut with an audible click as she actually blushed and dropped her eyes. Next to her, Buffy, opened her mouth to say something. Then when nothing came out, it immediately fell shut again, an action that repeated itself several times before she finally managed to speak.
“Ok, you kissed Xander?!” Buffy stared with wide eyes, her voice a harsh whisper as her gaze flicked between the two, before she paused, a slightly mischievous grin playing across her lips. “Was he any good?”
“How would I know?” the brunette huffed as she sent a glare across the table at the boy in question. “He wouldn't kiss me back.”
“You really shouldn't have said that, Cor,” Xander said softly, before lightly pointing behind her.
“What? Why...?” blinking the brunette turned around, just in time to see a viciously smirking Harmony Kendall behind her.
“Well, well, well...” Harmony's expression was like a vulture's over a fresh carcass as she stared down at the wide eyed Cordelia, before Xander's voice suddenly cut her off.
“Harmony, shut up.” His words were cold, callous as they left his lips, those black eyes almost dead as they bore into the cheerleader's own, his voice, subtly shifting into that European drawl he adopted on occasion. “Everyone in the school knows you're nothing but a cheap knock off compared to Cordelia.”
“Wha-? How dare-! You little geek!” Harmony's voice actually squeaked as she stumbled over her words while glaring back at the boy.
“See? Now, Cor here.” He gestured amicably towards Cordelia with the casual tone of an adult, speaking to a particularly slow child. “Could have come back from that in any of a dozen ways-”
“15 actually,” Cordelia corrected, quickly recovering from her earlier shock as she fell into rhythm with the boy, a slight knowing smirk on her lips.
“And I'm sure Buffy could manage at least, what?” He arched a brow back towards his blonde friend, waiting patiently.
“Eh, seven pop to mind, but most of them would be over her head anyway,” Buffy offered up, a slight grin on her lips as a bit of the Bitch of Hemery High bled through. “I'm out of practice and, seriously, I've known dead people wittier than she is.”
“So, that leads us back to you,” Xander finished up, his eyes lazily fixed on Harmony. “Who couldn't come up with anything worthwhile, while actually SQUEAKING of all things.” Shaking his head, he reached up, waving his hand casually in her direction. “Shoo little mouse, scurry off with your tail between your legs, because honestly? You aren't worth our time.”
“Why you... OOOOH!” The blonde cheerleader glared at the boy across from her. “If you think this is over, loser, you're...”
“Harmony,” his voice casually drawled out again. “We just revealed how much of a pathetic, stammering, little wreck you really are, all in a few choice words. Do you REALLY want to find out what we can do to you, in front of the school, where EVERYONE can see you being verbally torn apart by us, hmmm?” He shifted a moment, glancing down at his nails before looking back at her. “Are you THAT stupid?”
Paling the blonde girl stumbled back, staring at the boy for a long moment, before turning and fleeing back into the crowd. Taking a slow, deep breath, Xander closed his eyes as he leaned back in his chair. When they opened again, he was treated to the sight of both Cordelia and Buffy staring at him.
“What?” The mock innocence in his tone was enough to send a smile to both girls' faces as they shook their heads.
“Remind me again why you're the king of the cretins, and not the king of the school?” Cordelia spoke up as she looked over Xander with a slight smirk on her lips.
“Because, with the exception of my present company, the 'royalty' of the school are in the same vein as Harmony?” the boy offered back with a slight shrug and a lazy half smile. “The cretins are more interesting.”
“Your Majesty.” Buffy grinned softly as she nodded her head, imitating a curtsy with remarkable accuracy while without a dress and seated.
“Your Grace.” Xander nodded back, an airy smile on his lips as he made a half negligent gesture with his hand. “How may we and her Majesty, the lovely Queen C aid you this eve?”
“Grace?” Cordelia arched a brow slightly, sitting up a bit more, her posture turning almost regal as she arched a brow across the table at Xander.
“Indeed, for she is the Duchess Buffy, of Buffonia, Lady of Buffdom,” he offered up with a grin on his face as he shrugged slightly.
“It's how he addressed me on Halloween, before I turned into Lady Useless,” Buffy clarified with a slight smirk. “I actually got him to renounce spandex.”
“And I have since discovered, latex is MUCH better than spandex,” Xander offered up with a slight casual little smile. “But, I suppose that’s a thought for another day.”
“You are such a pervert.” Cordelia sighed dramatically before shaking her head, pouting slightly as she leaned back in her chair.“And this is all your fault you know.”
“What’s all my fault?” Xander arched a brow as he looked back at Cordelia. “That you’re thinking about how you’d look in latex?”
“Psh, I’d melt your brains and you know it,” the brunette countered back with a negligent flip of her hair, before looking serious. “No, I meant that I actually know what a real friendship is like, and now I can barely stand to be around the rest of my ‘friends.’”
“It is kind of a revelation isn’t it?” Buffy agreed, her lips drawn back into a slight little smile. “Suddenly having real friends. It’s… yeah..”
“Yeah” Cordelia grumbled slightly as she flicked her eyes between the two of them. “You got lucky though, you got doofus here as your best friend.”
“What?” Buffy blinked a moment before immediately shaking her head. “Xan’s Willow’s best friend, not mine.”
Xander himself remained silently watching as Cordelia snorted and leveled Buffy with a look as she responded, “Not anymore. He barely talks to her anymore, she’s just too hung up on you and Oz to notice. Ever since Halloween. If he’d done it years ago, I would’ve noticed him a helluva lot sooner.”
“Be nice, Cor,” Xander murmured loud enough for them both to hear. “She needed a friend.”
“Seriously, Xander,” Cordelia went on, half glaring at him. “If you’d have ditched her and stalker boy…”
“Jesse.” The boy’s voice hardened as he glared at Cordelia now. “His name, was Jesse.”
“I know that, DUH!” She glared back at him. “But, best bud of yours or not, you’re not the one that had to deal with him following you everywhere, not taking the hint!”
“And you couldn’t even give him the time of day,” Xander shot back bitterly, as Buffy watched the interaction between the two, uncertain of just what to say.
“I didn’t want another love sick little puppy dog, following me around, drooling like an idiot,” Cordelia immediately countered. “That’s what jocks are for.”
“So, you had to just go and demean him every time huh?” There was anger in the boy’s voice now, as he half rose out of his chair, old wounds opening up as he glared back at the dark haired girl across from him.
“Xan, Cord-“ Buffy started, a worried looked in her eyes before the two continued on, ignoring her completely.
“Of course I did!” Cordelia steam rolled over whatever Buffy was trying to say as she glared back at the boy across from her. “He kept slobbering all over me while he and Willow kept getting in between me and the only person that actually treated me like a person instead of Queen C!”
Xander blinked a moment, caught off guard before he stared at her incredulously. “What, you’re trying to tell me the reason you picked on us, was because you were JEALOUS?!”
“Well, DUH!” The response snapped back as she glared at him. “I thought you were smart enough to figure that out you damned doofus! But noooo, you just had to stick around with your creepy little friends.”
“Of all the stupid, childish…” Xander’s voice was slipping again into that European drawl as he pinched the bridge of his nose, before glaring across the table at Cordelia. “I’m not Charles you twit!”
“First off, I don’t know who the hell this Charles is, but hey!” Cordelia shot back, grumbling as she crossed her arms about her chest. “And in case you forgot, we don’t all have some old man’s memories rattling around in their skulls. The rest of us, are, or at least have been kids still!”
“I think he meant he can’t read your mind, Cordelia,” Buffy spoke up carefully. “You’re talking about Professor X, right, Xan?”
“Quite.” The boy grumbled, his voice slowly reverting to his typical accent. “Though, I stand by what I said. Just assuming people can figure out what’s the what because you want them to is not of the good.”
“No duh,” she shot back, huffing again as she crossed her arms about her chest. “I finally figured that out. But, of course, when I do, you’ve gotten all old man now and you don’t want anything to do with me!”
“I want to be your friend Cor,” he corrected carefully. “That’s what I want.”
“Ugh, and of course you just have to be so damned… ugh!” Cordelia threw up her hands into the air and sighed before slumping back down before she looked next to her at Buffy. “You know? He’s just… ugh!”
“Very ugh,” the blonde girl agreed with a slight smirk to her lips. “But, he’s our ugh.”
“Yeah, just why can’t there be more guys like him out there?” Cordelia whined softly. “It’s no fair! I get a taste of a good guy and I don’t get to enjoy the whole meal.”
“This is me, feeling like a piece of meat here.” Xander grumbled softly as he lightly glared at the girls across from him. “And, I don’t think the world’s ready to handle one of me, let alone bunches.”
“Oh, I don’t know,” Cordelia shot back, almost leering at him now before winking at Buffy. “I think between the two of us, we could handle you properly.”
Xander blinked in response to that, then blinked again as he opened his mouth, then shut it, in a repeated fashion before finally speaking, “Well… With THAT particular image in my head, I can safely say I shouldn’t have to worry about any nightmares.”
“I don’t know,” Buffy said with a shrug, a look of melancholy rushing across her face as it wiped away the blush Cordelia’s words had awakened. “Last guy I ‘handled, went evil, remember?”
“Bah, Xander would be too busy praying to the heavens in thanks.” Cordelia smirked back as she leaned over, wrapping an arm around Buffy’s shoulder. “And just think about how CUTE he’d be, blushing like that.”
Both Buffy and Xander blushed at that, before the blonde girl arched a brow, and looked back at the rich girl. “Why Cordelia, are you propositioning me?”
“Okay, enough with the teasing the Xan-man with the innuendo and what not tonight,” Xander spoke up quickly, cutting off any continuation Cordelia might’ve made. “While, it’s great to see the two of you getting along… Yeah, that’s just a bit much.”
“Well, I’ve glad to know I can have SOME effect on him still,” Cordelia smirked slightly before turning her head back at Buffy, eying her critically for a moment. “Tsk, since it seems I’m gonna be hanging out with you losers more often, I might as well make sure ONE of you dresses decently.”
“Hey!” Buffy protested, a slight glare on her face as she pointedly poked Cordelia back. “No insulting the Slayer’s fashion sense!”
“She’s asking you to go shopping with her, I think Buff,” Xander offered before suddenly suppressing a shudder as he started to get up. “And that’s my queue to…”
“Sit DOWN dweeb boy!” Cordelia snapped out, grinning wickedly at him. “You said you wanted to be my friend right?”
“Friend, yes,” he agreed, before looking from one girl to the next. “Baggage handler when you go shopping with a Slayer? Not so much,”
“Aren’t you my friend, Xan?” the Slayer’s voice slipped out, so sweetly pleading to him.
He froze, refusing to look in Buffy’s direction as he looked into Cordelia’s eyes and no where else. “She’s doing the puppy dog eyes pout, isn’t she.”
“Big time,” Cordelia responded with a brilliant smile on her lips.
“I’m Doomed, aren’t I?” he asked again, a slight tremor of resignation in his voice as the capitalization in “Doomed” could be heard.
“Pleeeeeaaaaaase, Xan?” That soft, sweet voice struck like a dagger into his heart.
“Big time.” Cordelia was grinning with a smug satisfaction.
Resigning himself, Xander turned his head towards Buffy and sighed as he nodded his head in assent. Oh, were they going to owe him for this. As he watched the pair of them suddenly talking animatedly, he mentally added a few digits to that score. They were going to owe him BIG time for this.
“You know Buff,” Xander said slowly as he winced, stretching out his aching arm. “Next Valentine’s day, how about we stay indoors and just have some chocolate?”
“Deal,” the Slayer agreed as she leaned against him, sighing softly. “I don’t know if I can ever look at the day the same again.”
“Tell me about it.” Xander shook his head slightly. “At least things should be quiet for a couple of days.”
“Yeah, but I’d rather not have another vampire riot any time this century,” Buffy retorted.
“How was I to know she would bring out a bunch of minions when I turned down being her Bloody, with a capital 'B' and various torture implements, Valentine?” Xander countered, with a slight grumble on his lips. “I mean, seriously… She’s just plain crazy.”
“She’s Drusilla, what’d you expect?” Buffy shot back before shrugging slightly. “Kinda surprised she made… him back off though.”
“I’m more surprised she wanted me to be her Valentine,” Xander shuddered softly again, remembering some of those words the demon had rambled on about, how they struck uncomfortably close to home for him.
“That’s something we’ll worry about for another day, Xan,” Buffy shot back. “Tonight, I’m just gonna go home, and soak.”
“Sure, sure.” He nodded back. “Oh, before I forget…”
Buffy blinked a bit as she looked down at the slim jewelry case he offered to her. “Wha…?”
“I got something for you, Cor and Willow.” He chuckled slightly as he watched her open it up, to reveal the shining watch inside. “A good luck charm if you will.”
“Xan, this is beautiful…” the girl noted breathlessly. “But, there’s no way I can wear it, one night of slaying and…”
“It’s a titanium and steel blend,” he responded back easily enough. “With a plexiglass cover instead of glass. It’s made to last under some really tough conditions.”
“Thanks, that’s sweet of you.” She hugged him again, her eyes meeting his, the urge to lean in, just a bit closer, a bit more into his heat seeping through her, before she would hug him again then pull back. “Come on, lets get you home.”
“Yeah, home it shall be,” the boy agreed, as they walked quietly through the night.