“No idea,” Dawn lied. “But I'd switch it with another chair if I was you.”
Xander nodded and switched out chairs before they both started eating.
“Any idea why everyone is taking all this so calmly?” Dawn asked.
“Could be an extension of Sunnydale Syndrome,” Xander replied thoughtfully. “Or they thought from our outfits that it was all part of a prank. Or possibly something the Terakan did.”
“Should we be worried about running into more teriyaki assassins?”
“Have you been talking to Buffy?”
Dawn laughed. “No, just fiening for some more beef jerky.”
Xander snickered. “Well at any rate she may just have been after me because I killed one of them before, or because female demons always react that way to me … or there could be a contract.”
“So … bottom line, worry or not?”
“We're on the move and we only have to worry about you and me,” he replied thoughtfully. “As long as we're together we should be just fine.”
Dawn smiled widely and continued to eat her pancakes. 0oOo0
Ted finished making a few adjustments to an old football helmet with wires leading from it into the trunk just as Xander and Dawn arrived.
“What're you working on?” Dawn asked curiously.
“It’s a unique data input device,” Ted explained. “I'm hoping I can get Xander to put it on, so I can copy what he knows; it’s much more efficient than asking questions and since I expect we'll be quite busy fighting zombies in the near future, I'd like to get it done in advance.”
Xander shrugged and put on the helmet while Ted made adjustments.
“Put in the mouth guard,” Ted instructed. “This stings a little bit and I don't want you biting the inside of your cheek like I did.”
Xander nodded and put in the mouth guard while Ted finished all his last minute adjustments.
“Contact!” Ted said and pushed a button, causing Xander's entire body to lock up for a second… just before he collapsed.
Ted caught the stunned teen before he could hit the ground and held him up until he could stand on his own a moment later.
“Sorry, forgot to mention there may be feedback.”
“That was … strange,” Xander said, taking off the helmet. “My entire life flashed in front of my eyes. Twice!”
“Are you ok?” Dawn asked, moving to help support him whether he needed it or not.
“Yeah, my head just feels kinda … full.”
“To get a proper copy we have to stimulate the memory centers of the brain. You should feel right as rain in about an hour, as your brain chemistry returns to normal,” Ted explained cheerfully. “I’d suggest a quick nap to speed up the process, as it was only suppose to go through the memories once.”
“I guess I could take a quick nap and then call Giles about the situation,” Xander agreed, his eyes half open.
“I'll take care of the zombies while you rest,” Ted promised, as Dawn drug Xander back to their motel room. 0oOo0
“He's faced members of our Order before and lived,” an older man in a green sweater who bore a remarkable resemblance to Fred Rogers said thoughtfully. “I don't believe that was mentioned in the contract.”
A thin, red headed man, whose right leg was a blur as he drummed his foot against the floor, shrugged. “That simply means our team has dibs, as one of our members found them first, unless the contractor is willing to double the payment, which is doubtful.”
“True. Shame about Lust, but I warned her about targeting couples while the female of the pair was unaccounted for.”
“She was sloppy, letting her own lust overwhelm her; but we know where they are now, so finding them and following their trail should be simple.” 0oOo0
“The Slayer, her Watcher, and the couple broadcasting everything are in the same general area. We're close enough to head after either as soon as the sun goes down. Which would you prefer?” Mr. Trick asked, trying not to yawn as he was usually asleep by midmorning.
“The Terakans are hunting the couple, so we'll go after the Slayer; it’s been far too long since I have tasted Slayer's blood,” Kakistos said before the goat hooved vampire turned and entered the suite Trick had prepared for him.
Trick nodded and ordered a couple of underlings to track both pairs in case Kakistos changed his mind later; he hadn't lasted as second in command to one of the world's strongest vampires by being a fool.0oOo0
Xander fell back onto the bed and Dawn positioned him before climbing on it herself to lay half across his chest, as they had slept the night before.
“Joyce is going to kill me for sharing a bed with you,” Xander muttered, as his arms curled around Dawn of their own volition.
“Doubtful,” she replied as she listened to his heartbeat. “I've curled inside your shirt while we were on the couch sleeping and all she did was take pictures. Now stop worrying or I'm going to make you sleep on the couch for a month.”
Xander chuckled softly before drifting off with a smile on his face. 0oOo0
“So Doctor, what can you tell us about The Show?” the host asked, as he leaned back in his chair and smiled toothily, a live broadcast of Xander and Dawn taking up the screen behind him and his guest.
The short German woman stood up and began gesturing at the screen, as they showed clips from different scenes at her request. “As you can see from the literal fairytale beginning, they showed Dawn as a child on the cusp of womanhood, while Xander is the protective male presence, only slightly older, but seemingly out of her reach.” Dawn sitting in Xander's lap, her ear to his chest was shown.
“Whoever wrote the script has done a marvelous job! You can see Dawn maturing before your eyes; as a matter of fact I'm amazed how good the makeup and acting has been on her part. Using lifts in the shoes and careful camera positioning she appears to be at least three inches taller now than when they started.”
A couple of computer enhanced shots of Dawn are shown, showing definite physical changes.
“Not to mention a couple of cup sizes,” the host pointed out, causing the audience to whoop.
“Yes,” she agreed, “and even some added definition in the face. Whoever the makeup artists are they are simply brilliant!”
“As one of America's most outspoken feminists I'm surprised at your response. I thought you'd be against the cheesecake factor she plays in the show.”
“That's because in ‘The Show’ it is clearly being done by the girl herself, employing her maturing feminine wiles to catch the man she has chosen.”
“And the eighteen inch comment?” the host asked.
“Now that was hilarious, though you'd probably have to be a psychiatrist to get the joke right away; as I've said, The Show starts with a literal fairy tale and the keep the feel of it as events occur. Now, Dawn has tried making him her knight in shining armor, symbolized by a gauntlet and armor on his left arm and he said it was a poor fit, meaning he doesn't want to be put on a pedestal by her. He wants her to see him for what he is. The whole 18 inch joke was about pointing out that symbols aren't always about what we think they are, or to put it in layman's terms, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.”
The audience laughed while the two onstage shared a smile, pleased with how well the live broadcast was going.
“Are there any other moments you found particularly symbolic or noteworthy?”
“Well, at first I thought her getting knocked down by the shotgun was a statement about women not being able to handle power the way a man can, as Xander handles the shotgun easily, yet Dawn has to use a pair of handguns, but after the 18 inch comment it’s clear that was not the purpose at all; it was just as it read on the surface and gave them an excuse to make the two even more like Ash and Laura, which they seem on their way to becoming.”
“Would you say Ash and Laura are archetypes?”
“Yes, but the argument over which one they represent has caused fist fights among my colleagues; but back to the topic at hand. The scene with him showing her how to shoot and later trusting her to protect him was … I don't have the words, it clearly shows his commitment to encouraging her to grow into her own woman, as he trusts her to stand beside him as her own person. We need more shows like this.”
“What did you think of the breakfast scene?”
“Shades of King Arthur, but this time Guinevere was packing heat!” she fired back.
“From his response it was clear the woman was playing the role of Morgana Le Fay and attempting to seduce him, by appearing as the woman he loves, but this time the queen was nearby and she dealt with it appropriately.”
“What do you think of the extras in the background?”
“Well, all this is live and the extras are, I believe, just normal everyday people that they stumble across while shooting. You can tell they have no idea how to respond, so they try and pretend everything is normal. It really shows how accommodating Californians are and I personally would like to thank them for it.” 0oOo0
Television Ad: “Eggo Waffles, now with 50% larger syrup traps! Try regular, buttermilk, and our new blueberry today!” 0oOo0
Joyce met Giles eyes and they both burst out laughing.
After a few minutes Giles regained his breath. “A cigar is just a cigar indeed.” 0oOo0
Xander had been awake for a little while, holding Dawn and comparing the two lives he recalled, one with and one without Dawn. There was no question in his mind which one was superior. The life with Dawn in it was filled with a lot more smiles and laughter. He hadn’t realized how much joy she’d brought into his life just by her very existence. He was just laying there enjoying the closeness when he realized that he had to get moving again.
“That was a nice nap,” Xander said as he stretched to let her know he was awake.
“Yes it was,” Dawn concurred, lying completely atop him.
“But now we have to go.”
“Yep,” Dawn agreed.
“You don't seem to be moving.”
“Nope,” Dawn smirked, sounding perfectly content to stay in their current position until the sun burned out.
Xander's hands came up to her sides.
“Don't you dare!”
“Ve have vays of making you move,” Xander threatened in a bad German accent.
“If you wanted me to move all you had to do was ask,” she purred and ground herself against him, as she slowly moved up till they were face to face.
“You did want me to move right?” she asked innocently, while staring into his eyes.
“Dawn...” Xander said seriously, after swallowing a few times. “At the moment I am your babysitter and anyone who takes advantage of that position deserves things involving chainsaws.”
“You won’t always be my babysitter,” Dawn said teasingly.
“No, no I won’t,” he agreed seriously looking her dead in the eyes.
“Just as long as we're clear,” she said, kissing him on the end of his nose before sliding off him and standing up. 0oOo0
“I'm going to count that as them getting together,” Holland said, “it was a clear, no mistake agreement.”
“It most certainly was,” the necromancer agreed. “They make such a cute couple. Have you sent the wetworks team after them yet?”
“We really can't afford to have one of the teams broadcast across the US while on the job so I sent T'relk.”
“The invisible assassin?”
“A bit overkill I admit, but at least he won’t show up on film.”
“Gentleman's wager says they manage to kill him at least once before he gets them,” the necromancer offered.0oOo0
“I think my breasts have gotten bigger,” Dawn said, hefting them in her hands.
“Cold shower, cold shower...” Xander muttered, running to the bathroom.
“I hope his left arm doesn't rust,” Dawn said grinning evilly, before going outside to check with Ted.
Dawn found Ted outside stacking a corpse on top of a small pile of them like they were cord wood. “Is that an extension cord?”
Ted smiled, a bright orange extension cord coming out of the bottom of his shirt and leading into the motel. “Yes, the number of zombies that show up have kept me too busy to sit down and charge, so I had to improvise.”
Dawn nodded. “Have Xander's memories helped you figure out how to behave like a modern man yet?”
“They're still compiling,” Ted explained. “The cross indexing alone is still merely a third of the way through.”
“I thought you just downloaded them into your head?” Dawn replied.
Ted chuckled. “The original Ted's work was brilliant, but it lacked complex cross indexing and adaption protocols, which is partly why I'm so old fashioned. The system I built to hold downloaded memories has 28.5 times the storage space and is much more complex than my own system, thanks to recent advances in technology and my own experiments, and its storage capacity was still nearly depleted by downloading Xander's memory.”
“Wow indeed. Xander's download was several times the size I calculated for a male his age.”
“You can say that again,” Dawn smirked.
“Oh, come on! Xander has made far worse puns than that.”
“I know, but remember I'm still old fashioned enough that sexual humor coming from a young lady is somewhat shocking. I have to override a number of protocols to keep from admonishing you for improper behavior.”
“Oh!” Dawn replied understandingly. “In that case, I apologize for my unseemly behavior and I'll try and behave in a manner more befitting a young lady in the future.”
Ted positively beamed at her. “Thank you, you have no idea what that means to me.”
“Just out of curiosity, how are you dealing with me dressed the way I am and carrying weapons?”
“With all this sand around us we are obviously at a beach, and what you're wearing is more modest than some of the female swimsuits from my time.” Ted smirked. “And as for the guns, this android is 100% American made, the right of the citizens of the United States to keep and bear arms for self protection applies just as much to women as it does men.” 0oOo0
Xander dried himself off from his third cold shower of the morning and examined his left arm in the mirror. The armor had almost reached his shoulder.
“Giles will know what to do,” Xander said hopefully, before dismissing it as unimportant for now.
Dressed and ready to go he unzipped his backpack and looked inside, groaning at what he saw. “Great, now the damn thing is eating my socks.”
Zipping the bag closed he decided not to think about it, he could be weirded out after they took care of the problem.
Closing the door behind him he was surprised to find Dawn giggling evilly while spinning a ring of keys on her finger.
“Do I want to know?” Xander asked wryly, knowing that whatever Dawn was giggling about was likely to be both fun and get Joyce upset with him.
“Spoils of war,” Dawn declared, pushing the button on the remote for the car alarm and making a red Ferrari in the parking lot beep.
“If you can figure out a way we won’t be arrested if a cop runs the tags, we'll bring it,” Xander agreed.
“You defeated a Terakan assassin, by right of conquest everything she had is yours. I'm only concerned about the legal problems,” Xander admitted.
“Good. I asked Ted what we could do about that and he called the DMV and had it put in my name. I can't wait to drive it.”
Xander plucked the keys from her hand. “You are not a licensed driver, nor do you have a learner's permit. With Joyce's permission I'll teach you to drive on a car that you can destroy, ok?”
“Ok!” Dawn agreed with a smile.
“No argument. Ted pointed out that the only time you've had me in dangerous situations was if they lessened the overall danger to me. So I knew you'd say no.”
“And the reason you're smiling?”
“Because teaching me to drive is going to take weeks of just you and me driving around all by our lonesome,” Dawn said with a smirk before heading for the car with a sway of her hips that drew his eye.
“If Joyce or Buffy don't kill me I am a very lucky man,” Xander decided.0oOo0
“She's good,” Giles said with some admiration. “He's just agreed to a series of dates without realizing it until she pointed it out.”
“That was cute,” Joyce replied. “But I'm a little worried about the Ferrari. I mean, it'll encourage them to drive recklessly and the insurance will be a nightmare.”
“Convince her it isn't the car for her,” Giles suggested.
“Convince a teenage girl to get rid of a Ferrari?” Joyce asked incredulously.
“A teenage girl who will soon have a boyfriend,” Giles pointed out.
“It’s typically used by guys to attract girls, so all it'll do is attract girls to drool all over her boyfriend.”
Joyce grinned. “Plus there is the problem with the backseat.”
“It doesn't have one.” 0oOo0
The zombie almost seemed to flinch as it stepped forward. *THWACK!*
The people on the street winced in sympathy, all the while avoiding looking directly at it. 0oOo0
“What's wrong?” Xander asked, noticing Dawn's frown as he drove.
“I don't know,” Dawn admitted. “I mean the car is nice and all, but I think I preferred Ted's car.”
“Why is that?”
“Probably because I could cuddle up with you while you drove, these bucket seats don't have that option.”
“True,” Xander admitted. “Most modern cars don't have bench seats.”
“Then modern cars aren't what I want.”
“So, we'll sell the Ferrari and get you your dream car. Tell me what you want in a car.”
“The car from Spyhunter,” Dawn grinned.
“Unfortunately the weapons and extras on it are illegal.” Xander chuckled.
“You've checked?” Dawn asked curiously.
“You're not the only one who wanted that car. Strangely enough the only extra both legal and workable was the most fantastic one in the game.”
“You mean?!” Dawn asked excitedly.
“Yep, back in the 70s they released a model of car that was also a boat,” Xander said with a grin.
“Was it a convertible with a seat that allows someone to cuddle up with the driver? And a large backseat as well?” she asked, crossing her fingers.
“Yep, they run about thirty grand each, but there are always a few on the market, because they look a little goofy.”
Dawn grinned. “I'm pretty sure we can get a lot more than 30 grand for this and I like to think of myself as a practical girl, who prizes function over form. Besides, I prefer things little goofy.” 0oOo0
“She has a point about the car,” Harmony said thoughtfully.
“You want the car from Spyhunter?” Cordelia asked.
“Who doesn't?” Harmony asked, surprised. “But I'll settle for the car boat Xander described. Just imagine driving out into the water and getting about a mile from shore and telling the boy you're dating he either gives you an orgasm or he can try and walk home.”
“You need help.”
“I wonder how many members of the chess club I could fit in the car at once?” Harmony mused thoughtfully.
“The chess club?” Cordelia asked doubtfully.
“Yep, I have it on good authority that none of them can swim."AN: Guess who insisted I read him the new chapter so he could type it up?