Shirt of a Different ColorAuthor:
Since I am a poor chickadee with no wealth to speak of, I think it's safe to say that neither BtVS nor Burn Notice are mine. ^^;Written for: TtH August Fic A Day Challenge
/Colorful Shirts Run in the FamilySummary: “Xander, didn’t you wear that shirt yesterday?” “Maybe we just shopped at the same store?”Author's notes:
Comics? What comics? >.> This is set post season 7 for Buffy, and near the beginning of Burn Notice.
Shirt of a Different Color
“Yeah, what’s up, Buff?”
“You didn’t happen to be missing any clothes from your suitcase this morning, did you?”
“No? Why do you- oh.”
Three eyes blinked and stared across the busy street at a very familiar shirt. Inside said shirt sat an older man with a newspaper in one hand, and a beer in the other, leaning back at a little Mexican open bar. Buffy’s nose crinkled up as she looked first at the stranger, then to Xander, and then back to the stranger.
“Didn’t you wear that shirt yesterday?” Cause she was pretty sure she remembered it; it was a very
distinctive shirt, with its bright colors and flowers all over. Xander’s eye narrowed as he examined it.
“Maybe? But it’s not like those shirts aren’t all over around here. Come on, this is Florida- there’s gotta be a thousand shirts just like that in every other store from here to Orlando. Maybe we just shopped at the same store.” A shrug followed the statement, the brunette obviously not worried about the duplication of such a crime against fashion, but Buffy wasn’t willing to drop it quite that easily. After all, not only was she a former fashionista from LA, she also knew
it was the same shirt. There was no way she could forget one particular memory of it that was floating around her thoughts.
“Xander- you lent that shirt to Spike back in Sunnydale. Now unless you lied and this isn’t the first time you’ve been to Florida, then there’s no way you just shopped at the same store.” One perfectly plucked eyebrow arched at her friend, dainty arms crossing over her chest, and she smirked a little as she watched the memory slide across his face; it was a combination of disgust and horror at the remembered experience of sharing clothing with a vampire who, at the time, had still been evil. A second look at the man came on the heels of the memory, closer this time. It was a revealing look for both of them.
“Buffy, something’s up with that guy. He’s nowhere near as relaxed as he looks- he’s surveying the area- and-” Xander squinted a little more before a deep frown slid across his face, “he’s packing.”
It made the blonde do a double take, her frown mirroring her friend’s, and sure enough, knowing it was there made it a lot easier to see the faint visible evidence of the gun tucked in the man’s beige shorts. “Not so much loving the packing heat combined with wearing your shirt.”
“Me either. Question is- what’re we gonna do about it?” He paused, giving a quick, yet significant, flick of his eye up to the sun in full rise in the sky. “He’s human.” Out of their jurisdiction, as Slayer and Scooby. A quick, tentative ‘feel’ with her spidey-senses gave truth to his statement, and she scowled.
“Loving that even less.” Especially considering that the last time they’d faced off against people with guns, she’d been shot and- well, losing Tara had been almost the end of the world, literally. “Stupid guns.”
“No slaying,” Xander answered her pout, and she rolled her eyes.
“Wasn’t planning on it, Xand. But we have to do something
. If he got into our stuff, think of everything he would’ve seen. We can’t just- let him go,” she glowered back. He cut her off, though, before she could continue.
“Well, unless we’re gonna let him do exactly that, we need to book it. Seems he noticed us, and is making his exit, stage left.”
Sure enough, although his movements were casual as he stood from his seat and laughingly exchanged money with the bartender, the slight tension was evident in his broad shoulders. She had to give it to him, as she never would’ve noticed if she wasn’t looking for it, and he never gave them a second glance, but that didn’t give her any comfort. Armed and
professional- and bold enough to have broken into the Slayer’s hotel. A heavy weight settled in Buffy’s stomach, and she glanced at Xander. Not even she was immune to bullets, and Xander was even more vulnerable- and neither of them was adequately armed. Except, as if in response to her unspoken thoughts, Xander patted his hip with a grin.
“Don’t worry, I got it covered.” Then, before her jaw could drop, he hooked arms with her- his left, so his right would be free- and started down the street after the stranger.
“I what? Have a gun? I went and bought it after- after Tara. In case you forgot, we lost you that day too. I didn’t- and I’ve got the training to use it.” He tapped the side of his head with a grin. “Guess Ethan did us a favor in at least one way, that Halloween. Now come on, let’s go catch us a thief.”
And with a grin, he tugged her along. It was her own failing that she so often forgot who and what he was, what Caleb had called him; the one who saw. So often it was Xander, the one the powers and skills had forgotten, who realized things no one else did, no one else ever thought of. In this case, it was a gun and the use of guns, when she and the others relied on their medieval weaponry and magic, all of which would do them no good against regular humans. Impulsively, Buffy leaned up and gave him a friendly, yet heartfelt, peck on the cheek, and let herself smile as they tailed the gun toting stranger.
Speaking of the supposed thief, it didn’t take long before he disappeared down a back alley. It was an obvious trap, easy bait, and with a shrug, Buffy peeled away from Xander and took it. Xander would back her up if needed, after she’d distracted the stranger, and she was more durable than her friend.
When she turned the corner of the alleyway, she found him leaning up against the building wall, hands casually stuffed in his pocket. With the gun. He arched an eyebrow at her, the corners of his lips pulling up into something like a roguish grin, and for a moment, she had to admit that he was kinda handsome, in an older guy kind of way. Granted, she’d dated way older, what with Angel being a couple centuries old, and Spike not much younger, but this guy was also, probably, maybe, a gun toting thief with Slayer secrets. Head out of the clouds, Buffy, and pay attention to the gun guy.
“So, what’s a pretty little girl like you doing in an alley like this? Look like you should be out on the beach enjoying the waves with that friend of yours.” As casual as he looked at first glance, again, looking for it, his stance was telling, ready to move if needed, and hell, he could shoot through those shorts if he really wanted to. But she was just as ready, Slayer muscles coiled and well trained to react called to, and she trusted that any shots fired would be answered by Xander.
“What can I say,” she drawled in response, giving him the full effect of her California Valley Girl accent. Dumb blonde, see, no threat here. “I just really
liked your shirt, and wanted to find out where you got it!”
?” he echoed, eyebrow drawing higher, and he let out a mix between a snort and a laugh. “You want me to believe you and your friend- nice job hiding that gun of his, by the way- followed me all the way from the restaurant to here to find out where I got my shirt. Sorry sister, not buyin’ it.”
“No, really! I mean, it’s pretty distinctive, draws the attention. I couldn’t help but notice it from across the street, it’s just that- well.” The blonde paused, knowing full well Xander would take offense, but she really couldn’t resist. The guy looked way too cocky and smug. “Hideous
. Honestly, I can’t believe the fashion police let you out in that thing.”
“Hey!” It was a truly wounded exclamation, pride and offense showing in the man’s dark brown gaze, and she had to suppress a laugh as she heard it faintly echoed from the hiding spot her friend had found. “How about you keep the crazy comments to a minimum, babycakes? I happen to like
“Yeah, so does my friend, which would be the ‘why’ behind the following. For whatever reason, he wasn’t too happy when he saw you wearing it. Personally, I told him he’d be better off without it, but he kinda wants it back.” Slim arms crossed over her chest as she stared at the man evenly, ready for whatever comeback he fired.
Of course, she wasn’t nearly ready for the complete confusion that took over those handsome features instead.
?’ Wait- you’re saying you stared me down at the bar ‘n followed me all the way here because… what? You want my shirt?” He looked absolutely bewildered and lost, brows furrowed together, nose wrinkled up, muddy brown eyes baffled. She looked at him expectantly, and when she spoke again, her words were slow, as if to make it easier for him to understand.
. That tends to happen when you steal people’s things. They want it back
“Steal- look lady, I bought
this shirt when I was in California somethin’ like five years ago, some hole in the wall up north of LA. I don’t know why on earth your friend thinks it’s his, but he’s nuts.” The look on his face made clear his opinion about her- their
- sanity, if his words hadn’t, and Buffy felt herself freeze. He’d bought it in California… in a hole in the wall town north of LA…
“Oh god.” The words were breathy, hazel eyes wide as she backed away a little. “Xander- uh, we- uh. He-” She was horrorstricken. Here they’d chased this poor man down, and- “Oh god, I’m so sorry. We- just- He has a shirt just like that, and he wore it yesterday, and then you were wearing it, and oh god, I’m so sorry! I’m- I’m just going to go- disappear into thin air now.” This- this was what mortification felt like. And then, before she could quite finishing flushing bright red from the tips of her toes to the top of her head- the man started laughing.
“Tell ya what,” he grinned, obviously thoroughly enjoying her humiliation. “Call your friend with the gun off, and let me meet this guy with taste as classy as mine.”
A moment later, Xander came around the corner, gun held out loosely in one hand to show that he wasn’t a threat. Buffy was, at the least, happy to find that his face was a red as hers as he laughed nervously. “Heh, eh- heh. California, huh? Wouldn’t’a been a town called Sunnydale, would it?”
“Sounds about right. Creepy little town, gave me the willies when I was there.” The man shuddered, and it broke the tension, earning a little laughter from both Scoobies.
“Yeah, that’d be good old Sunny D. Sorry ‘bout that.” Xander offered the man a grin, tucked the gun back into hiding, and held out his hand. “Xander. And I admire your taste in shirts.”
“Name’s Sam, Sam Axe. Good to meet ya. I think this might be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”