A Different Drum
Xander looked at the road in front of him.
If he turned right he'd be back into Sunnydale before sundown, never having even reached LA on his road trip.
If he turned left he'd be in LA before the sun set and while he wasn't exactly loaded he could at least have a little fun before heading back.
It seemed a shame to go on a road trip and never see anything more than Oxnard even if it was a great little town.
The blip of a police siren flipping on for a fraction of a second and the flashing lights in his rear view mirror let him know he might just have been sitting here debating things a tad too long. He sighed and put the car in park before shutting off the engine and rolling down the window.
“Are you oka – oh my god you're him!” the police officer squealed.
Xander looked out the window and saw a slender woman in her mid-twenties with short brown hair and brown eyes, bouncing up and down.
“I've always been him,” Xander said, “although in formal situations I'm known as get.”
The officer laughed gaily. “Can I get a picture and an autograph?”
“Sure,” Xander agreed, thinking things were looking up.
“Hey Bob, bring the Polaroid!” she called back to her partner.
A rather large man with a little extra around the waist climbed out of the patrol car carrying an instamatic camera while Officer Murray got Xander to pop the trunk and put on part of a costume. Bob just raised an eyebrow at his normally by the book partner helping the young man put on the top half of a costume that made him look like a slightly less gaudy version of Huggy Bear.
“Ready?” she asked excitedly.
“Sure,” Xander replied agreeably, finding her happiness contagious. “Do you want to do woman cringing from the almighty pimp hand or pimp being manhandled?”
“Can we do both?” she begged.
Xander grinned. “Sure.”
Shaking himself off he got in character. “Ain't no woman safe from the almighty pimp hand!” he sneered, showing a fake gold tooth while holding his hand drawn up like he was about to backhand her. She faked cringing back until Bob snapped the picture. “Do you want to twist the almighty pimp hand behind my back or have it pounding the hood of the squad car begging for mercy?”
“Definitely pounding,” she said hugging Xander before dragging him over to the patrol car and getting into position for Bob to take the shot.
Bob was shaking the photo to speed development and wondering what was going on.
“Sign to Mary love Slickback please!” she squealed.
“But Mary surely you know it’s 'The Pimp named Slickback' it’s the whole thing!” Xander teased.
“He said it,” she squealed, “I can't believe he said it!”
“Did you drug my partner?” Bob asked half seriously as Xander signed the photos.
“He didn't drug me,” Mary snorted still grinning.
“I was a dish washer over at the strip club when one of the strippers hurt himself,” Xander explained, “so the owner grabbed me and begged me to take his place.”
Bob nodded along while Mary listened fascinated.
“Well a couple of strippers were upset that the owner thought that just anyone could do their jobs, so they dressed me up as an over the top pimp, figuring it would piss the women off … and boy did it,” Xander said shaking his head.
“So there I am in front of a crowd of very angry women and I haven't even done anything yet to deserve it. So I fell back on something I knew I was talented at,” Xander chuckled, “making women laugh by taking off my pants.” Mary laughed so hard Xander had to wait for her to catch her breath before continuing, “A little dancing, a lot of stripping and picking a woman or two to come up on stage and chase me around while smacking me with their purses and I was set.”
“You haven't seen the funky chicken until you've seen it done by a naked man with his penis painted like a rooster,” Mary gasped out wiping tears of laughter from her eyes.
Xander shrugged at Bob's disbelieving look. “It’s a gift.”
“Each night he added something new to the act,” Mary grinned, “he was only on three nights but I was lucky enough to see all three.”
Bob nodded. “Okay, now her behavior makes sense. We stopped to see if you needed help because you were just sitting there.”
Xander nodded and removed his pimp gear, tossing it in the trunk of his car. “I decided to take a road trip and see all fifty states but I only managed to get as far as here before my car self-destructed. Working at the strip club I made enough to get a new car with a little left over; so now I have to decide whether to head to LA for the last week or just go home.”
“LA,” Mary replied instantly while Bob nodded. “A week in LA is more vacation than a lot of office drones get and you deserve to have some fun.”
Xander smiled. “LA it is, but before I go can I get a picture with you and your autograph?” he begged, hitting Mary with puppy dog eyes.
Xander entered the Hyperion, not quite sure what he expected. Giles had given him the address as one of a number of contacts to use in case of emergency, but an old closed down hotel in LA worth millions wasn't the kind of surroundings he expected to find Angel at.
“Welcome to … oh it’s you,” Cordelia said flatly. “What do you want?”
“Not you,” Xander replied in a tone of voice that said she was beneath his notice.
She drew in a deep breath to tear into Xander for his casual dismissal when Angel entered the room.
“Xander, is something wrong in Sunnydale?” Angel asked quickly.
“Nothing major brewing as far as I know,” Xander replied.
Angel looked at Xander dumbly. “You just stopped by to say hi?”
Angel waved for Xander to follow him into his private office.
As the door closed behind them a rather rumpled looking man sat up from the couch where he'd laid unnoticed. “What was that about?”
Cordelia glared at the closed door and began retelling her Xander sucks stories.
“What was up with Cordelia?” Xander asked curiously.
“You cheated on her and she almost got killed by a piece of re-bar through the stomach remember?” Angel asked, looking at Xander strangely.
“I bought her prom dress so she'd be able to have the prom she wanted and we parted as friends,” Xander explained, “so the bitch out there; not someone I expected to see again.”
“Please don't call her a bitch,” Angel said and sighed at the look Xander gave him, “even if she is acting like one.”
“Okay, I'll be civil,” Xander allowed, “regardless of how she behaves I'll just ignore her for the most part.”
“Thanks, now what brings you here and why are you so …” Angel searched for a word, “personable?”
“Let me ask you a question; how about we hit the local mall and find a couple of girls about 13 or so, they're easy to impress at that age, and show them a good time?” Xander asked cheerfully.
The look of disgust Angel developed made Xander grin. “If you could see your reflection I'd hold up a mirror. I'm pretty sure that's the exact same expression I often wore when you and Buffy were together.”
“It was different with me and Buffy,” Angel protested, “we loved each other and being the slayer ages you.”
“Maybe,” Xander allowed, “but I couldn't see it at the time and knowing Buffy as I do I couldn't really say much about her maturity.”
“I always thought it was mainly jealousy and you being in love with Buffy.”
“I'm sure there was a fair amount of jealousy mixed in with the disgust of seeing an adult wading in with us in the kiddy pool, but as for the whole Buffy deal; I love my friends and I am weak when it comes to saying no to slayers, but that hardly equates to 'let’s get married, true love is here'.”
“And facing down Angelus in the hospital? Because that sure sounded a whole lot different then.”
Xander shrugged. “You weren't there to cloud the issue and the demon in front of me took something that should have been a special event for a friend of mine, and admittedly I wouldn't have minded being involved in, and turned it from being a memory she should cherish into the milestone marker from when things started to go to hell.”
“So, not jealousy...” Angel said with a wince since he could see Xander's point of view.
“Don't kid yourself,” Xander laughed. “I doubt there was anything to do with you that didn't involve some jealousy, it’s just that, that wasn't all there was and most of the time it wasn't even my motivating emotion.”
“I think that's enough scab ripping for today; so the answer to why you're so much nicer to me is?”
“You aren't trying to make time with girls that are underage, you've realized that your relationship with Buffy just meant pain all around and did the right thing, and last but most important you've hung out a shingle and are trying to make a difference.”
“That's all it takes to get on your good side?” Angel asked, cocking an eyebrow at him.
“Sure, what did you think it would take?”
“I don't know, maybe walking on water, turning water into wine, walking on wine?”
Xander rolled his eyes. “Making cryptic comments and vanishing, leaving us to do all the dirty work, pissed me off like you wouldn't believe.”
Angel looked thoughtful for a moment. “Huh, I guess it did look like that.”
“There was more going on?”
“The cryptic comments were mostly things I got from seers or prophecies; half the time I didn't know what they meant myself. All I knew was that relaying them to Buffy would help. I'd leave because I was trying to keep from developing any kind of relationship with Buffy,” Angel explained.
“And not helping us fight?”
“Even with my soul in place, Angelus has some influence. I wasn't sure what would happen if there were innocents around in the heat of battle and I wasn't willing to use you guys as guinea pigs to find out. If I hadn't been forced to help out so often I'd still be avoiding it, but at some point I had to learn to trust myself.”
“I'm finding it harder and harder to dislike you,” Xander said thoughtfully.
“It'll probably make things easier when we cross paths or have to work together again,” Angel replied, “does this mean you won't give me annoying nicknames?”
“I give everyone annoying nicknames,” Xander pointed out, “including myself.”
“Really?” Angel asked surprised. “But do any of them equal Dead-boy?”
“The start of every major disease or epidemic has the CDC searching for the person who started it all, often referred to as patient zero or Patient X. Plus Patient X also has sort of an escaped mental patient vibe to it.”
“You're good,” Angel admitted. “I'll have to save that for special occasions. So, you really just stopped by to say hi?”
Xander nodded. “I'm here for a week before heading back to Sunnydale; my road trip ended with me working in Oxnard to get another car so I have a week to blow and this is the furthest I have ever been from the Mouth of Hell. I decided to stop by and get your opinion on what I should do, since it’s your town.”
“Oh,” Angel said, still a bit shocked at how easy it was to get along with Xander now. “Well, we have spare rooms here but no maid service since the 50s, but at least you won’t be wasting money on a hotel. As for things to do …” Angel trailed off and considered his contacts and resources in the area and what would best help a normal human who wouldn't give up the fight, not getting that Xander was talking about vacation not training.
Angel quickly consulted his Rolodex and wrote a couple of things down on a piece of paper before handing it to Xander. “Before anything else you need to consult with The Transuding Furies, they can clean your aura of anything that might be clinging to it from the Hellmouth.”
“Really? Like what?” Xander asked curiously.
“Curses, bad luck, and any type of demonic taint you might have picked up from fighting demons or spending so much time directly over the Hellmouth.”
Xander froze as a thought hit him. “You don't suppose I attract demons because I've been all but bathing in the Hellmouth for four years?”
“That sounds likely,” Angel admitted.
“Aura cleansing it is,” Xander said firmly, “it'd be nice to have a date that doesn't end in attempted human sacrifice.” AN: Typing by Godogma.