Xander awoke slowly, noticing a warm comfortable weight atop him. His right hand squeezed softly, causing it to rub up against him pleasantly, making approving noises.
“I claim this land in the name of England,” Dawn's voice murmured from somewhere in the vicinity of his chest. “But the outlying peninsula is mine.”
Xander sleepily gave another soft squeeze, causing more pleasant movements and waking him up enough to realize who was laying nearly on top of him and what he was squeezing as well as what was rubbing.
If his eyes had opened any wider they might have fallen out.
Carefully rolling to the side and trying not to wake her, he found his escape attempt stymied by a leg and an arm pulling him right down on top of her in a position even the puritans agreed was right and proper.
“Mmmm... Xander,” she moaned in her sleep, rubbing against him directly now.
Xander groaned and almost gave in to the pair of red pouting lips that he was being pulled towards, but at the last second he managed to shift enough to kiss her on the forehead and gently but firmly disengage himself from her, before making a break for the bathroom. “Cold shower, cold shower,” he muttered to himself as he crossed the room.
As the door clicked closed it awoke Dawn enough to murmur, “Tease.” before she realized what had happened.
Blinking sleep from her eyes her mind replayed the last couple of minutes and she all but purred, “He is so mine, and my what that man does to me. Thank god I brought a spare pair of panties.”
* * *
Joyce chuckled. “He's still resisting, so she must have been talking about that metal gauntlet and sleeve.”
Giles shook his head and put his arm around her as they sat up in bed. “The hook is set, but he has a little fight left in him.”
“I can't believe she claimed him in the name of England.”
Giles smirked, looking at Joyce. “I don’t know, I must admit to having the urge to plant the flag myself at times.”
She ran a hand through his chest hair and set his glasses on the night stand. “God save the Queen.”
* * *
Holland Manners, just turned 40 with respectable greying sideburns, was the Assistant Head of Special Projects for Wolfram and Hart in LA; meaning he had to put his head on the block if anything went wrong to cover the ass of the Head of Special Projects and it looked like today he'd be plastered to it lips first to try and survive this unexpected debacle.
The body of one of Wolfram and Hart's seers lay where it had fallen on the office floor, eyes melted closed.
“Couldn't have been that great of seer if she couldn't see this coming,” Holland muttered.
The necromancer who had been examining the scene shook his head. “I'd say she saw it coming and embraced it, but that's just a guess.” The cultured voice coming from the pale and hairless man always seemed inappropriate to the people who requested his services – but as he'd explained when asked, lack of proper pronunciation often lead to the death of practitioners and their clients, so the voice lessons that made him sound like Walter Kronkite were both necessary and tax deductible.
“What do you mean?”
“I mean all seventeen seers on site knew this was coming and saw it as a way out of their contracts. Not only are they dead but their souls are gone. I cannot raise a whisper of their presence. The eyes are called the windows to the soul for a reason, and as you can see... they have burned theirs out.”
“You mean they all deliberately looked at something that burned out their souls?” Holland asked stunned.
“Precisely. They all chose soul death as a way out of their contracts and since they are forbidden by their contracts from looking for a way out of them it has to be a current project that they were ordered to complete.”
Holland sighed. “Even knowing the cause probably isn't going to save my ass in this case.”
“The cause is simple, in all seventeen cases – they were trying to look in on the subject of the recent termination order. As each one failed, the next in line automatically tried, as per procedure.”
“The young couple from Sunnydale?” Holland asked.
“Indeed, but I don't know if I'd call them a couple.”
Holland chuckled. “Perhaps you'd like to make a little wager on that?”
“What's the bet?”
“I'll bet my secretary's soul that she will close the deal and win him over by midnight tonight.”
The necromancer grinned. “You're on, and as for my stake... Well actually I'll give you my stake up front, so you'll be around to lose this wager, the answer to making the higher up's happy is one word; Loophole.”
“Loophole?” Holland repeated questioningly.
“Yep, loophole. You have discovered a loophole in the contract that allowed the seers to escape. Closing a loophole, no matter how small, makes the higher ups very happy. In this case, the loophole allows the seers to escape their contracts by willingly choosing soul death without warning their superiors about the possibility.”
“Yes, it is,” the necromancer said smugly. “By the way, how did you get your secretary's soul?”
“Fantasy football pool, it’s the new office pastime.”
“I thought upper management frowned on office workers trading souls?”
Holland shrugged, much more relaxed now that it looked like he'd not only survive but come out ahead from this little setback. “She's just a temp.”
* * *
Multiple impossibly clear audio and visual signals were quickly processed and utilized, surprising Ted who despite receiving visual feeds from nearby couldn't find a source for them. He sent back a command to continue broadcasting points of interest as flagged, but not all seventeen at once, as it was a waste of bandwidth and processing power.
Finding the new signals easy to manipulate, even if their source was impossible to locate, the AI quickly switched over to the new inputs, moving them as needed.
Thankfully a number of modesty protocols had been programmed in by Ted to prevent certain scenes and situations being broadcast or both Xander and Dawn's showers would have become more iconic than the shower scene from Psycho.
* * *
Xander dried himself off after his very cold shower and sighed as he realized he'd left his clothes in the other room.
“I've had a shower cold enough to numb my numbly bits, I'll be fine,” Xander promised himself, pulling on his boxers and stepping back into the room, only to find Dawn bent over in front of the door in a pair of panties and a sports bra picking up something she'd dropped just as he'd opened the door.
Xander closed the bathroom door, and restarted the shower, stepping in without bothering to remove his boxers.
Dawn grinned a bit guiltily as she heard the shower restart - maybe she was being a bit hard on him, all but rubbing his face in the fact she was a big girl now.
She groaned and unconsciously rubbed her thighs together as she sat on the bed and imagined … rubbing his face in it.
“If he doesn't get out of the shower soon, he's going to have company,” Dawn swore, feeling a need for a cold shower herself.
* * *
Cordelia yawned and drank the coffee Harmony handed her. “You were right, they did start early.”
Harmony grinned brightly, being a morning person as well as being proved right, making her obscenely cheerful in the AM. “She sure did, and if he'd been a little bit slower...”
“I can't believe she's moving in on him that quick,” Cordelia growled.
“I can't believe we thought he was a foot and a half long.”
“It’s not like we know how long it actually is, he's kept it in his shorts,” Cordelia replied, having had a Do'h moment when she saw the gauntlet in the morning light.
Harmony handed Cordelia with two pages of mathematical calculations and sketches with a smug look on her face.
Cordelia looked at the complicated mathematical formulas used and then at Harmony, then back to the formulas then back at Harmony again.
Harmony smirked. “What can I say? I learn things best when I have a practical use for them and by my calculations your parents owe you 425,365 dollars for breaking up with him.”
“What? No change?” Cordelia asked, trying to cover her surprise at her friend's unexpected ability.
“Standard variants, depending on temperature and hormone levels, makes those kind of exact calculations meaningless. Truthfully the amount in the ones category is just an educated guess.”
“How in the hell are you failing math?!”
“I reserve that time for reading Cosmo, plus I refuse to do homework from a woman who wears rayon and has split ends,” Harmony said firmly.
* * *
Ted hummed cheerfully as he snapped the neck of another dried up zombie, that had dug its way up out of the sand, and carried it behind the hotel to stack with the other 26 that had shown up during the night.
He made a mental note to use his DC adaptor in the car while they drove, since he'd been too busy to get a full charge while fixing the ground in the car's electrical system that had drained the battery and taking care of the occasional zombie.
* * *
Dawn didn't even take time to tease Xander as she quickly brushed past him, carrying her clothes and planning on a cold shower herself.
Xander dropped his soaked boxers in the trash and pulled his pants on under the towel he was wearing, not wanting to tempt fate with being completely naked with Dawn being just a door away also …
Slapping himself in the face a couple of times he shook his head. “Don't focus on Dawn naked in the shower. Focus on taking care of the danger to Dawn... who is naked in the shower.”
Xander unzipped his backpack and reached in, only to jerk his hand out a moment later with the “book” attached to it, as it bit his hand.
Cussing and yelling he managed to drag the “book” off his hand by shoving his gauntlet in its mouth.
Looking in his backpack he sighed. “I had to dump out my clean socks and underwear, all I have left is holy water, stakes, crucifix and spare ammo...”
He held up the “book” that was still chewing on his gauntleted hand and pulled out a vial of holy water. Popping the top he calmly poured it into the mouth, which immediately spit out his hand and became immobile once more.
Xander tossed it back into his backpack and finished dressing, adjusting the back sheath for his shotgun, as Dawn stepped out of the bathroom.
He froze, staring as she leaned against the doorway, clad in her Laura Croft outfit that he could have sworn wasn't that tight yesterday and … “What happened to your half shirt?”
Dawn moved one of the tank top's shoulder straps aside, showing where the sports bra's straps had cut into her skin. “Growth spurt. It’s too small for me now,” she smirked, exaggerating things a bit, as it had been a bit tight to start with, which was why she had chosen it to begin with.
Xander nodded, keeping his eyes from her breasts by force of will. “How about we go get some breakfast?”
* * *
The Sunnydale denial syndrome was working overtime, as a road crew had set up a couple of saw horses and traffic cones around the unfortunate zombie who just could not get past that rake and early morning foot traffic avoided looking at him as they walked past. *THWACK!* *THUD!*
Sure, nearly anyone in the know could have taken care of the problem, wearing a disguise if they wanted to avoid national exposure, but it’s often the little things that get overlooked.
On a side note, two of the big three networks already had pilots in the works loosely based on the concept, for which they paid KSAQ 2.3 million each, while the third was already paying reviewers to say it was a shameless ripoff of their show that collected people's private videos of family members sustaining life threatening injuries.
* * *
Considering how few people stayed at the hotel there was a surprising number of people eating breakfast at the attached bar and grill.
The Silverlight Motor Lodge in fact received over three quarters of their profits from food and drink orders of travelers just passing through on the way to LA.
Dawn and Xander took their seats at a little two person table that was open and examined the menu. “Pancakes or waffles?” Dawn wondered aloud.
“Pancakes are a wild card, you never know how big they're going to be,” Xander said wisely. “While with waffles everything has been standardized.”
“True, and waffles have syrup traps in them. So while they may not absorb as much syrup into themselves as pancakes will, they do in fact provide the most syrup per mouthful of anything short of drinking from the bottle,” Dawn added, not wanting Xander to think she didn't take her breakfast food seriously.
“Very good point, ooh they have blueberry pancakes available.”
“Pancakes,” the two chorused, as regardless of syrup content, blueberries trumped it.
Looking around Xander noticed the lack of any wait staff. “I think we have to order from the bar and pick it up there too,” he decided.
“I'll save your seat,” Dawn promised with a grin.
“Good thing I have my trusty boomstick,” Xander said mock seriously. “Considering I have to hunt us up breakfast.”
“It’s the manly thing to do.”
“Damn skippy!” he replied, giving her a wink. “And thankfully we resemble a certain pair of characters so much that everyone assumes we're in costume and not in fact carrying loaded weapons,” he finished before heading for the bar.
A blond haired girl who was dressed like she was trying out for the role of Daisy Duke in the latest Dukes of Hazzard remake sat down in Xander's seat uninvited. “Hi, I'm Sally,” she introduced herself.
“I'm Dawn,” Dawn replied, a bit distracted by a woman who looked seriously out of place talking to Xander at the bar as he waited for their order. She looked like she should be in a cafe in Paris or some other place where fashion was important, rather than a bar and grill in the middle of the desert.
“So is the guy you're with your brother?” Sally asked, showing a bit more tact and diplomacy than Cordelia Chase.
“No, boyfriend,” Dawn replied distractedly, wondering what about the woman over there was bugging her, besides her manner of dress and being within five feet of Xander.
* * *
“Hello, I'm Lust,” the pale redhead introduced herself to Xander, standing close to him and making small talk to allow her pheromones time to work.
“Dawn?” Xander asked, blinking rapidly and wondering why his head was starting to feel fuzzy.
Lust smirked, pleased that he was one of the few men who were extremely susceptible to her pheromones, as she could already see his eyes glazing over. “How about we go back to my room and I'll do things you've never dreamed of in your most depraved fantasies, as I drain you of life?”
* * *
“No, seriously,” Sally said, dismissing Dawn out of hand. “Is he seeing someone or …”
Dawn brushed the hair back from her right ear, just touching the silver cathead earrings that she wore and clearly heard the woman talking to Xander, as she caught sight of a ring she knew well.
Ignoring Sally, Dawn rose to her feet drawing a pistol as she moved.
Lust turned just in time to see someone in her peripheral vision as Dawn emptied her pistol into her at close range.
Dawn stepped aside to let the body fall to the ground, as she holstered her pistol before the echoes of the shots even had a chance to die down.
Xander blinked and shook his head. “Dawn, why did you shoot Dawn? Huh, that makes no sense.”
Dawn knelt down and rolled the woman onto her back, only to receive a pair of green ichor stained hands around her own the nails digging into her wrists. “You're smooth kiddo, but envy knows everyone's weakness,” she gasped out just before the light faded from her eyes and she stopped breathing.
Dawn slipped the gold ring off the woman's finger. “Now we have a matching pair,” she said, showing it to Xander who was just now shaking off the effects.
“She looked like you for a minute there,” he said, still a little fuzzy.
“She was saying she was going to seduce you and drain the life out of you. You know I'd never do that,” Dawn assured him.
“Yeah,” Xander agreed sadly, still a little dazed.
“I'd never drain the life out of you,” she said, pressing herself up against him for a moment. “Remember to get extra sausage,” Dawn said, smirking at the way Xander was now looking both pleased and worried, before she snagged the woman's purse and heading back to her seat – stepping over the woman's gooey remains as they melted.
Retaking her seat she rummaged through the purse for some wet naps to clean her hands with.
“You – you just killed that woman,” Sally stuttered out fearfully, wondering why no one had done anything even though she'd noticed everyone watching the pair when they came in, though they tried to hide it.
“Well Sally, she showed far too much interest in my man, so of course I killed her. You saw her touch his shoulder didn't you?” Dawn asked with an innocent smile, as she cleaned the last of the green blood off her hands and pulled out her pistol, engaging the cylinder to let the empty shells clatter on the table.
Sally just stared at her in horror as Dawn swept the empty shells into the table's ash tray and pulled out fresh ones.
Dawn slowly loaded her pistol while looking directly into Sally's eyes. “A woman has a right to protect her property from trespassers right?”
As Dawn flipped the cylinder closed and gave it a spin Sally made a “meep” noise and rushed out of the bar.
* * *
“Ok, now I approve of her as his next girlfriend,” Cordelia said, beaming happily.
Harmony raised an eyebrow. “Is it because she'd shoot you if you didn't?”
“Nope, although that is sweet. No, it’s because she killed a Terakan assassin with him, just like when we got together.”
* * *
“That's my girl,” Joyce said proudly.
“I believe that was a succubus of some sort,” Giles said thoughtfully.
“So Xander seeing Dawn means, what?”
“Well traditionally succubi will tempt men with a vision of what they most desire,” Giles admitted.
“Well, she certainly managed to bait that hook,” Joyce smirked.
“Yes, I'm rather proud that he's managed to resist her thus far.”
* * *
Willow's eyes seemed to take up half her face while Oz just nodded in approval. “As a lycanthrope American I approve of her response.”
“Does this mean I can't hug Xander anymore?”
“It’s just a .22, I'll get you a bullet proof vest,” Oz promised.
“Oh – good,” Willow said before passing out again.
'I wonder if she's anemic?' Oz thought to himself.
* * *
“Would you count that as a win?” Holland asked.
The necromancer shrugged. “It’s certainly leading, but only firm on her part so far. He may just resist past midnight, or die of course.”
“True,” Holland agreed good naturedly. “I wonder who sent the Terakan?”
* * *
“Remind me not to flirt with him without making sure it’s alright with his girl first,” Faith said with a touch of respect.
“Will do,” Linda promised.
* * *
Xander looked down at his chair as he brought their order. “Why is my seat wet?” AN: Typing by Godogma without whom you’d probably never get to see most of my work, for I am a lazy b^%$# who hates to type!