AN: Alright, let's try a longer chapter this time (not much longer but, hey, it counts...)
“So… Kennedy, right?”
Kennedy wanted to laugh at how timid Buffy was being. This was really the first time that they’d had a chance to talk since the entire ‘Master’ incident and the confidence that she’d seen in the once-older Slayer was gone. “Yeah. And you’re Buffy. There, we know each other. Wanna be friends?”
Buffy blinked, taken aback by the comment and the tone and was about to say something about it when Kennedy waved her off, “Sorry. Xander’s rubbed off on me more than I care to admit it. In case you haven’t noticed, he can be very snarky when he wants to be.”
“I’ve noticed,” Buffy said quite drily. “Part of his ‘stock and trade’, as Giles would put it, but that doesn’t really make much sense to me. What stock and why would you trade being snarky?”
“It’s a business thing, dull stuff that parents come up with to make money for to spend on us. I learned to not ask questions beyond my paygrade.” Kennedy said with a chuckle.
“Right,” Buffy said with a return laugh. “So… you and Xander are here tonight?”
“We’re here most nights, actually.”
“Cool.” Buffy said with only a slight hitch in his voice as she looked around worriedly.
“Cool? Is that a hint of remorse I hear in your voice, Buffy? Did you have intentions of taking Xander and doing wonderfully wanton things to him and his body? Things of questionable morality and legality?”
“What? No!” Buffy half-gasped as her head snapped back around towards Kennedy, obviously shocked at the rather brazen question.
“Darn. I was hoping that I could watch. I’m sure Xander would be very disappointed.” Kennedy deadpanned with a pout.
Buffy squealed at Xander’s voice directly behind her, spinning while Kennedy laughed at the blonde Slayer’s embarrassment, “Xander!”
“You jerk, don’t sneak up on me.”
“Awww, why not? It’s fun. Isn’t that right, Willow? Jess?”
“Indeed,” Jesse said with a smile, “and if you won’t do things like that to Xander, I can think of a guy that wouldn’t mind standing in his place. You know, for the cause and all that.”
“Jesse!” Willow squealed in shock and mortification, smacking him on the shoulder.
“Ow! Willow, I thought we agreed to not bruise the merchandise unless you were going to buy it. Did the rules change?” Jesse whined a little, rubbing his shoulder.
Xander laughed at this and nodded, though he was well out of Willow’s range. “Of course, bro. Didn’t you get the letter? Women can change the rules without prior notification.”
He wasn’t out of Kennedy’s range, though, and she proved it with a punch to his upper arm, one that made him cringe a little, “Damned right, Xan. We have to keep you lowly beings on your toes.”
“’Lowly beings’? This coming from someone who needs a step stool to get to the top shelf? I think you’re being a little delusional here, Kennedy.” This turn of cheek got him hit in the arm again, only this time Kennedy didn’t hold back. “Ow!”
“Oh, quit whining, you big baby. I hit you harder than that when we spar,” Kennedy told him as she threw a kick at his knee, a kick he checked with his shin.
Xander dodged another quick strike before he reached out, tapping her on the chin with his fingers, “I’m wearing pads then!”
She batted his hand away and flicked him on the nose, eliciting a yelp from him. “Man up.”
“I’d say the same to you but you as a man would be decidedly squickly.” Xander said while massaging his stinging nose.
Buffy wanted to laugh at the exchange between the pair but the look of hurt resignation in Willow’s eyes pretty much killed the humor she was feeling. She felt bad for her friend, she really did, but if she wasn’t going to act, someone else could (and obviously had) take Xander off of the market. Jesse apparently saw this, too, as he pulled Willow into a side-arm hug that the redhead didn’t resist. “Hey, Kennedy, how about we go get a drink and let these three sit for a second, m’kay?”
“Trying to get me alone so that you can have your wicked way with me, Buffy? Sure.”
“Hey, can I come along?” Jesse asked instantly.
“Only if you’ve been a _very_ good boy,” Kennedy said with a smirk and no small amount of sultriness. “Has he?”
“Nope,” Xander said instantly. “Wills?”
“Hmmmm? Oh. N… no, he hasn’t.” Willow said with a stutter, blushing. “Buffy?”
Buffy simply shook her head and Jesse stood up a little straighter, stamping his foot, “I demand a recount. This is slander against my good name.”
“Sorry, Jess, but it’s a seven to one split, so the nays have it.” Kennedy said as she got up and walked with Buffy to the bar.
“Do you always have to tease like that?”
“Like…” Buffy waved her hand around a little, trying to find the right words.
“I know what I like, Buffy, and I’m secure enough in whom and what I am to have a little fun.” Kennedy told her patiently as they placed their orders, her eyes tracing the waitress’ form for a second before she sighed and shook her head. A few years too old and too young, respectively. “So, I need your help.”
“Help? With what?” Buffy asked, trying to ignore the uncomfortable feeling she had at Kennedy’s ogling of the waitress in front of them and the sigh.
“Xander. Specifically, getting him a girlfriend.”
This brought Buffy up short. “Huh? I thought… you know… you two… You said that you two come here all of the time.”
“We do. What does that have to do with it?”
“Aren’t you two, you know, dating?”
“What? No! Buffy… he’s my wingman.” Kennedy explained patiently.
“…Again with the ‘huh’?”
Kennedy groaned and leaned in to whisper into Buffy’s ear, “He’s not my boyfriend. I don’t like him like that… or any guy. I like girls.” With that and a wink, she paid for their drinks and left the stunned Slayer in her wake.
“Are you done breaking Buffy, Ken Doll?” Xander asked her a few minutes later when she returned, taking a seat next to him on the couch that they had semi-commandeered in the corner.
“Breaking her? I have not yet begun to break her, Xan. I just told her a few truths.”
“Remember, this is a more naïve and less weathered version of Buffy,” he whispered to her quite seriously. “It takes less to turn her into a gibbering mess than before.”
“You mean like when you told Prince William about the time that she-“
“And then Prince Harry-“
“Oh, and the Pope-“
“Now that was a complete exaggeration.” Xander instantly defended himself as Buffy slowly made her way towards them and Jesse left to go get himself and Willow a drink. Buffy, he noticed, firmly placed herself away from Kennedy and the offered seat. “Hey, Buff. Enjoying the dullness that is Sunnydale again?”
“Y… yeah. It’s just a little slower pace than LA, you know?”
“Slow like continental drift, you mean.” Xander laughed at the pair of looks he got from the girls, shrugging a bit, “What? The only thing with a higher turnover rate here besides the housing market is the inventory at the local casket peddler.”
“I think their shock is more to the point that you know what continental drift _is_, Xan.”
“Bite me, Ken Doll.”
From the shadows, Darla growled but held her instincts in check. The brunette, Kennedy Ford, had bitten Alexander on the neck in a very predatory fashion, almost in a claiming fashion, and it made her want to go over there and tear the little girl’s heart out.
She was quite aware that it was a rather… unhealthy… obsession that she had with the Slayer’s male friends and helpers but there was little that she could do. Both of the boys had so much potential, so much substance, that it almost physically hurt to be around them at times. Jesse was younger by six months, a little shorter and questionably smarter but his hormones were nowhere near in check. He was the wind, wild and untamed… relatively. With time, training and her guiding hand, he could become _glorious_. Alexander, though, was fire to Jesse’s wind; there was an inner darkness in him of late, one that tried her century of self-control that threatened to flare into being from the burning embers that he kept it as. Yes, he acted the fool more often than not and sometimes she questioned if it was an act, but if he did something, he generally meant to.
‘And he is covered in her scent.’ Darla growled to herself before she sighed and pinched the bridge of her nose, forcing herself to calm down. It was maddening sometimes, more than maddening, but then again she was not surprised. This was not the first time this had happened; every decade or so a teenaged boy or girl would catch her fancy and she would fixate on them… just as she had with Angelus.
“You can stop hiding now. I’ve known you were there for almost an hour.”
Darla spun and came face to face with Alexander and Kennedy, causing her to look back and frown. When had they moved? “What are you-“
The girl, Kennedy, smiled at her and crossed her arms across her chest, leaning back into Alexander, who wrapped his arms around her, “I don’t know what your game is, Darla, but stop playing it before you end up with a stake in the heart. Yeah, we know who and what you are. Watchers are generally useless but they keep _excellent_ records.”
“That might be stretching it a bit, Ken Doll.”
“Do I need to bite you again?”
“Do I get to choose where?”
The playful sexual tension between the pair was both nauseating and maddening to Darla. “What do you two want?”
“Unlimited power, the choice of any woman on the planet and sole dominion over our fate.” Was the quick, almost rote, reply from the pair. Kennedy, though, went on, “As that isn’t going to happen any time soon, though, right now we’ll settle for you in a litter box.”
“And given the way the Kalderash curse is worded and how the Powers that Be love to fuck around with a destiny that isn’t theirs to screw with… I don’t see that happening, either.” Alexander finished.
If Darla’s heart had been beating at all, it would have stopped cold. “How do you know about that?”
“I think she’s confused.”
“I hear it happens in old age.”
“Really? I thought it was all women who were confused.”
“I _can_ ask Buffy and Willow and Jesse for embarrassing stories about you, Xan.”
“And I can ask your parents the same, cupcake.”
“Oh, will you two just fuck already?” Darla snapped absently before she reigned herself in. She was not William and did not need to lower herself to his mindset. “I’m sorry, that was uncalled for.”
“You’re right. It was. Besides, if and when I do choose to drag him off into my bed, I want it to be a surprise.”
“And what if I want to do that to you, Ken Doll?”
Kennedy snorted and elbowed him, “Yeah, right, like you’d ever grow the balls to do that to me.”
“Never give a Harris a goal to surmount, Kennedy. We will do so in a manner that is louder, manlier and probably more dangerous than it really need to be but it’ll still get done.”
“Like I said, Xan, like you’d ever grow them. Besides, you know you like your women on top.” Kennedy teased him, her voice becoming far too seductive for Darla’s liking.
“Hey, that just means less work for me but how about we get back to business before the vampire over there starts thinking that this is invite to a threesome or something.”
Kennedy shivered a little. “Oh, eww. I like my women with a pulse.”
“So do I.”
“I presume there is a point to this inane prattle?” Darla sighed, rubbing her brow.
“Huh? Oh, yeah. If you want to help, that’s fine, but do it up front, no mystery woman with cryptic fortune cookie saying. Tell the others what you are and let the chips fall where they may. Oh, and the whole stalking me and Jesse thing? That ends. Now.” Xander’s tone turned to a growl with the last word, telling Darla that it was not a request but, in fact, a command.
“And if I refuse?”
“Sugar, Xan here is a lot of things and inventive is one of them. You have no idea how much agony he could keep you in for how long before you are a broken, drooling husk that is begging for death. And not the fun kind of agony, either, if you’re one of those weirdos that gets off on pain.”
“What my friend and colleague here is trying to do is intimidate you while inflating my ego. It needs no such inflation.”
“You have an ego?” Kennedy asked absently but she was ignored.
“I am very imaginative, though, Darla. Ever wondered what it’d be like to exist for eternity locked in solid concrete, with no arms or legs? Think about it.” Pulling his arm around Kennedy again, Xander pulled them away from the vampire woman and Darla hissed mostly to herself as they left.
Darla watched the pair walk off and, for a moment, considered the words. If they had been meant to intimidate her… it had failed. Magnificently. No, if anything, it had only made her ardor to submit the boys to her will even fiercer. ‘Some things cannot be rushed,’ she reminded herself. ‘Time is, after all, a virtue… and you have all the time in the world.’
AN: Alright, and now we are fully on the way to a new path. No stalker-Angel, no Sexy Dance, and there’s the elements added in from Jesse and whatnot. Now, what to do…