I Like the Quiet
There was something freeing about not having his friends around Xander decided. He didn't have to worry about coming off as a clown, while trying to keep things positive and upbeat, or anyone ignoring his ideas. Come to think of it, if he was alone, he wouldn't have to throw himself in harm's way when they got in over their heads and forgot to watch their backs. Whistling to himself, Xander continued along, enjoying the silence.
At least he was until Cordelia popped up out of nowhere and started screeching at him. He yawned and scratched himself, causing her voice to get even louder. Pulling a pair of earplugs out of his pocket, he put them in and smiled as it quieted to a dull roar. Carrying earplugs so his History teacher's voice wouldn't keep him awake in class had certainly come in handy he reflected as he walked away, leaving a speechless Cordelia Chase behind.
Earlier, his sense of guilt would've kept him listening, but after thinking things over, he'd decided he didn't owe her even that much. Since she'd decided it was over, that they had no relationship and she didn't want to hear a word he said, then he wasn't obligated to listen to her. Besides, he'd never walked away leaving her lying injured on the ground like she had him.
Unaware of the Soldier's memories coloring his thoughts and the primal encouragement, Xander hopped in his car and drove off.
Cordelia stormed back into the library, obviously pissed.
"Is everything alright?" Giles asked, while the rest of the Scoobs worked on cleaning up some of the mess caused by their recent battle.
"No, I was just laying into the cheatin' bastard when he put in earplugs and walked away!"
"Oh yeah, he wears those in History to keep it from keeping him awake," Willow said.
"What was he doing here?" Buffy asked. "I told him to stay home at night, he has no business being out."
"We can order people around?" Faith asked, surprised.
"Well...um," Buffy said, realizing that claiming she could because she was the Slayer wouldn't exactly fly with another Slayer around.
"Giles tells us what we have to do in general, being a Watcher and all, and Buffy leads us in battle," Willow summed up.
"Ah," Faith said, nodding. "You kicked him out of the gang, so he isn't likely to listen to you anymore."
"What?!" Buffy asked, suddenly worried.
"As part of the group, he was bound to the chain of command, but now he's on his own and completely outside your authority," Wesley explained, seeing what Faith was getting at.
Buffy and Willow exchanged glances, not quite sure what it meant, but sure it wasn't good.
"So, what was he doing here?" Angel asked.
"Anyone?" Wesley asked.
"He tried to talk to me earlier, but I told him to go home," Buffy said.
"I...kinda blew him off when he came up to me," Willow admitted.
"I...may also have done something similar." Giles added.
"So, it wasn't anything important then?" Wesley asked, figuring the boy really had no place in the fight anyway.
"Not as important as keeping the Hellmouth closed," Willow said.
"We'd better check," Angel said.
The Scoobs scattered around the school and returned a few minutes later.
"I have corpses and a blue girl," Faith announced.
"Zombies," Giles spoke up. "They didn't dust, and they have autopsy marks on them."
"So, Xander was fighting Zombies?" Cordelia asked.
"And, at least one more blue girl," Faith said.
"One more?" Buffy asked.
"A couple had me on the ropes earlier, killed one but dislocated my arm. I was screwed until Xander made a last-minute save and nailed the bitch from behind," Faith admitted.
"In the future, you all might want to consider listening to him before dismissing him." Wesley suggested.
"Two demons and a handful of Zombies," Buffy waved it off. "It doesn't sound that important. He should've stayed home like I said. He would've been safe and we could've handled things fine."
"Well, fuck you too," Faith said, glaring at Buffy. "Tired of working with me and want a new Slayer to look down on already?"
"I didn't-" Buffy tried to defend herself.
"Forget it!" Faith said angrily.
Oz barely stepped aside in time to let the pissed off Slayer storm past as he entered. "Um, does anyone know why there's a bomb in the basement?"
"Bomb?!" the group chorused.
Xander watched the sun rise with a smile on his face and earplugs in his ears, completely unaware of the pissed off Slayer ranting at him.
"What, am I talking to myself here?!" Faith yelled, before calming down, trying to think of why he wasn't talking to her. She winced as a thought hit her. "Ok, maybe it was a bit...rude to have your first time end like that," she admitted, not liking the fact that she'd treated someone who'd saved her life the way she'd been treated by guys in the past.
Xander turned around and saw Faith. "Faith? What are you doing here?" he asked pulling the earplugs.
Faith froze and looked from the earplugs to Xander's surprised expression and back again before she started laughing.
"What?" he asked cluelessly.
"I thought you were ignoring me because I was a bit rude to you earlier," Faith said, once she'd recovered.
Xander shook his head. "Just because you're rude to me doesn't mean I'll ignore you. You have to be rude, obnoxious, insulting and dismissive before I'll ignore you."
"Ouch," Faith said.
"It guarantees I'll never sleep with you again," he said, waving a finger at her. "Because, apparently I have more girly emotions than you, but I won't ignore you."
"Seriously?" Faith asked.
"I like my cuddle time," he said with a sight. "I got the equivalent of emotional blue balls, which is why I'm watching the sunrise."
"Watching the sunrise gets rid of emotional blue balls?" Faith asked.
"So does having a puppy lick your face, but the pet store’s closed right now."
"I might buy the puppy," she said. "But, a sunrise?"
"Just look at it," Xander said with a grin. "For every degree it rises, there has to be a dozen vampires, too stupid to live, bursting into flame."
Faith burst out laughing.
"No, seriously," Xander said. "You know there are vamps out there that are as bright as a burned out bulb. Odds are, considering the number of vamps there are, dozens lock themselves outside their lairs or get caught outside every day."
"I just have a hard time picturing it," the dark-haired Slayer said.
"I've seen it," he said with a grin. "A vamp came out of a dark alley at me, just before a large truck moved out of the way of the sun."
"You got lucky."
"One vamp that stupid isn't a threat," Xander said. "I tripped him and that's all she wrote. Most vamps are idiots we are mentally superior to, even if we aren't physically superior to them like you Slayers are. One on one, I've never had a problem with anything short of a Master unless I was the one holding the idiot ball that day."
"How do you end up injured so often then?" Faith asked, recalling why Buffy had kicked him out, according to her.
"Because people forget to watch their backs, and I might be just a bit overprotective," Xander admitted. "I can take some bumps and bruises to get a vamp into position to stake. I have no problem doing so. Take a look and you'll find I'm behind everyone else in the serious injury game. I'm a quick healer, so I ignore a lot of little things."
"So, why'd Buffy boot you?"
"I don't like the corpse she claims is her true love, the thing with me and Willow caused friction, I've made her look bad by telling her not to do stupid things," Xander listed off. "Maybe a combination of things. All I know is It's nice to be able to have a night that doesn't leave me battered as a corn dog."
"You are a corn dog."
"Yes, but call me the naked wiener!"
Faith laughed. "So, not planning on rejoining the group?"
"I'd never be a part of any club that would have me as a member," Xander said, quoting Rodney Dangerfield.
"Well, maybe that's for the best, slaying's going to kill us all eventually."
"I never said I'd stop slaying, just that I wasn't rejoining the gang," he replied.
"Oh," Faith replied, unsure of what to say to that.AN:Typing by Lucillia!
AN: I couldn’t see this being much different than any of a dozen stories where Xander leaves the group so I dropped it.