After Action Report: Four
Well, go on down to Jackson; go ahead and wreck your health.
Go play your hand you big-talkin' man, make a big fool of yourself,
You're goin' to Jackson; go comb your hair!
Honey, I'm gonna snowball Jackson.
See if I care.
Xander slid the cue through his fingers.
The tip tapped ever so gently on the cue ball.But they'll laugh at you in Jackson, and I'll be dancin' on a Pony Keg.
They'll lead you 'round town like a scalded hound,
With your tail tucked between your legs,
You're goin' to Jackson, you big-talkin' man.
And I'll be waitin' in Jackson, behind my Jaypan Fan
Click, click, click went the balls into the pockets, eight-ball last.
"Wow, guys," Xander said, reaching for the stack of bills weighed down by the cue chalk, "must've got lucky, huh?"
"Luck my ass, you little prick," said one of the frat boys in a UC Sunnydale hoodie. "You rooked us."
"No, that's what you were going to do to me," Xander replied. "Can't help it if you didn't spot someone playing their cards closer to their chest than you."
"He must have rigged the table somehow," said another fridge in human skin. A number of his over-muscled buddies rose up from their stools.
"Just ballistics and aiming." Xander shuffled one step to the right, grasping his pool cue in both hands. "Some guys have a knack."
As one, the jocks surrounded Xander for a good old-fashioned stomping. Battle awareness descended on him. Variable cascaded through his neurons. Target data quickly resolved in a simple combat problem. Simple, if he were a BOLO. Problem was, BOLO's were not exactly well-versed in the hand-to-hand. Not having any hands, arms, or feet. And given all he had to work with were his own fighting skills, the exact likelihood of his getting stomped into the floor of the Bronze was precisely 100%.
Good. All according to plan.
Said plan changed in a second when several jocks achieved airborne status. Xander ducked under the pool table while chaos reigned around it. As an afterthought, he groped around the edge of the table until he grabbed the winnings. The university frat boys slammed into several members of the still-sparse early evening crowd at the Bronze. Insults were shouted, drinks were spilled, and blows were exchanged. Amid the distraction of the mini-riot, a small yet very strong hand yanked him out from his hiding place. Xander found himself face to toe with a pair of fashionably kicky boots. He looked up. Flirty short skirt, blouse, and That Leather Jacket. Bright green eyes shining with annoyance and amusement gazed down at him. Sheepish-- No. Oh hell, no. Never again think that word! Xander allowed himself to be frogmarched with no fuss by Buffy through the fight. Elbowing skills honed by years of mall-crawling cleared a way through brawlers and bouncers alike. She plopped him onto a stool at her usual table before sitting across from him.
"If you wanted to get smacked," she said, "you could have asked to stand in for the practice dummy next time I needed a work-out."
"I came to get punished, not fulfill a dream." Xander ducked a thrown beer mug. "How bad is Will?"
"Aside from me finding her sobbing her heart out in the bathroom?" Buffy crossed her arms over her chest. "It took one tub of my secret stash of super-premium ice cream and a full assortment of half-price off Halloween candy to calm her down. She's at my place in a sugar coma."
"Cordy was right." Xander groaned. "Hero back to zero in sixty."
"Speaking of." Buffy said. "Really? Her? On earth, why?"
"Not exactly like I had a choice. I got ambushed." Xander rubbed ribs still aching from Cordelia's anaconda thighs. "She caught me in a pincer movement, and the only way out was to...uh..sortie by a a series of quick thrusts--"
"The metaphor hurts my brain," Buffy said, grimacing. "Since when did you become the Scud Stud?"
"Since the entire Military History Bookshelf," Xander replied, "was jammed into my skull."
"At least you came out with something useful." Buffy rolled her eyes. "All Lady Anne left me with was embroidery,classical French, the minuet, and a thousand reasons to kill corsetiers on sight."
"Hey, it was a privilege to see someone," Xander said, "out-snoot Queen C for once."
"Don't remind me." Buffy whimpered. "Do you have any idea how much groveling I had to do with Angel?"
"So how is the wastrel?" Xander couldn't help a smirk.
"Watch it." Buffy glared. "You, not nearly out of the woods. Although your last Charge of the Dinochrome Brigade, word out is that the demony parts of town are lying very low. As in, six feet. Angel and I might actually be able to canoodle. Possibly even tryst!"
"That's just...great." Wonderful. "I guess the dress is being retired."
"Chucked it into the school incinerator. Angel told me he hated that type of lady." Buffy leaned forward, a mischievous grin playing over her lips. "So I'm going in the other direction. Rented the Saucy Tavern Wench costume from Partytown. Let's see Cordelia compete with that!"
"Attack where they are not prepared," Xander intoned, "go out to where they do not expect."
"Sun Tzu." Xander reached into his pocket. He drew out a scrap of ribbon and lace. "Figure this belongs to you."
"I--" Buffy flushed. "The things I said, you have to--"
"Hey, I get it." Xander laid the garter down on the table. "Costume talking, not the Buffster."
"That's not...exactly true." Buffy took the garter. Then folded his hand around it. "I think the costumes we picked, were picked for a reason. I was as prissy as Lady Anne, back at Hemery. I thought it might be nice to be the princess again. And you--well, even without your armor, you're a heckuva knight. Keep it."
Xander tried to swallow around the lump nearly choking him.
"But this time," Buffy said, "tie it yourself!"
"Yes, ma'am." Xander saluted.
"So, I have an idea." Buffy hefted the weapons bag at her feet. "You're gonna buy me a drink with your ill-gotten gains. Then we can go out and see how well that ballistics trick of yours works with a crossbow."
"Consider it a date," Xander said.
"A-and if you can, um," Buffy ventured, "distract Cordelia just a little bit more while I make up with Angel--"
"Oh hell no." Xander recoiled. "There is no way that's ever happening again. Hand to God."
"Fuck me harder!" Cordelia snarled over her shoulder, gripping the rail of the catwalk overlooking the dance floor of the Bronze.
"Give me a reason!" Xander spat out, hips pumping into her from behind.
The two of them froze, hidden in the darkness, consumed by mutual lust and release.
A second later, they exchanged horrified glances.
They were in so much trouble.