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Summary: It seems that the Scoobies family histories are more complicated than they had believed ...

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Games > FantasyGladiusFR181053,4101610229,3038 Aug 1218 Jan 13No

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Part 7

Disclaimer: Surprisingly, neither the characters of BtVS or the
themes of 'Scion' belong to me. Instead, they seem to belong to Joss
Wheadon and White Wolf, which seems very unfair to me.

Rating: MA15+(mostly for violence, language and occasional sex)

Spoilers: Beginning of Season Three for BtVS, just background info
for 'Scion'

Note: This Chapter is Not Safe For Work

Oz finished unloading the last of the speakers from his van and shares a tired smile with Devon. “Thanks, man,” said the taller boy, running a hand through his longish hair. “I know you’re looking to hang out with Willow today, but without these speakers the gig’d be toast tonight. As it is, the last party before school is gonna rock!”

Oz nodded. Then frowned. “I thought we were playing?”

“Huh? Oh man, don’t do that! I mean, we’re not that bad, are we?”

The werewolf just lifted a hand, spread his fingers, and rocked them side to side. Devon considered it for a moment, then shrugged. “So we suck. But the band before us tonight sucks worse!”

“Got me there,” Oz admitted. “Gotta go.”

“Yeah, Willow. Man, for a geek, she’s totally hot.” He quickly raised his hands in surrender to the other musician’s expression. “Hey, statements of complete fact, man. Is she not a mistress of computers and obscure facts? I say yes. And is she not, in fact, a foxy babe that you are so lucky to hang around with?” When Oz reluctantly nodded, Devon grinned. “Then I am so totally vindicated! Chill, Oz-man, it’s still the twentieth century: geeks are still totally in!”

“Words to live by: don’t doubt the boffins,” agreed another voice, drawing both Dingos’ attention to the figure at the mouth of the alley.

“Sorry, didn’t mean to interrupt,” the man continued, stepping closer. Tall and broad, he wore a uniform of dark green with plenty of fruit salad on the chest, and various badges that only the most gung-ho of civilians could translate. Oz did recognise the wings, silver eagle and crossed rifles of an airborne infantry colonel. Oz’s keen sight noted that the officer’s nametag read: ‘Wolfeson.’

And yes, the beret was green.

“Actually, I was hoping to have a word, Mr Osbourne,” he said, halting a few steps away.

Now, Oz was in no way innocent. He had had his run ins with various authority figures. He had fought demons and vampires, and been infected by lycanthropy. But there wasn’t anything he could think of that would have brought him to the attention of the United States Armed Forces.

“Shoot,” he said. Then reconsidering, he amended, “But not literally.”

The colonel smiled. Then he turned slightly to face Devon. “Could we have a minute?” he asked.

“Totally,” agreed Devon, hefting one of the speakers. “Dude, I’ll see you later, right? Say hi to Xander and the girls, okay?” And he headed through the back door into the Bronze.

Oz frowned at his friend’s easy departure. Normally, he wouldn’t have expected Devon to just bail like that. He might not be in the know with Sunnydale’s nightlife, but he wasn’t exactly innocent, either.

“Relax, Mr Osborne. Believe me, I don’t mean any harm,” Colonel Wolfeson reassured, shifting to a parade rest, hands clasped behind his back. “In fact, you might say I’m here to do you some good.”

Oz raised an eyebrow.

*** *** ***

Going from the serenity of Artemis’ shrine to the noise of the Amazon’s gym was jarring to say the least. It was actually several rooms, including a basketball court, a room containing several boxing rings, and a very well equipped weights room.

The one room she hadn’t expected, somehow, was the firing range.

Being raised an urban Californian, Buffy had had limited exposures to guns. In fact, her only real experience had been being shot at by them, by Darla and, to a lesser extent, Cain the werewolf hunter. So she felt a little apprehensive as Lilly led her into the strange room with its’ weird little booths and loooong lanes. In fact, it looked like any gun range you would see on various cop shows on TV.

Except the targets. As well as the traditional vague humanoid shape, Buffy noted various outlines of monsters, from minotaurs to centaurs to things she couldn’t name.

“Not all our opponents look anything like humans, inside or out,” advised Patricia, startling the other two girls. “Hey, Lilly, Marie wants you - you’re starting on basic ritual today. Don‘t worry,” she said at Lilly’s expression, “It’s just basic stuff, the sort of thing most Amazons learn before they turn ten. It’ll be fun, I promise.”

“Oh, okay,” she said, somewhat nervously. “Er, Buffy, are you going to be okay?”

She shrugged. “I suppose. I mean, I don’t really like guns all that much,” she admitted.

Patricia flipped her ponytail over one shoulder. “’The gods made men, Samuel Colt and John Browning made them equal,’” she quoted. “Gunpowder was the biggest boon to our side since the Aesir killed off Ymir and ended the last ice age. Most of our enemies are stuck in the Dark Ages, thank Athena - that the Greek dark ages, not the Christian one. Bronze swords and armor, I kid you not.” The muscular Amazon snorted. “Fortunately, our side is a little more willing to use what works.

“Don’t get me wrong,” she said, picking up what looked to Buffy to be an small cannon, and inserted a tube into the handle, “In a lot of circumstances, there’s no substitute for sliding three feet of steel between a cyclops’ breakfast and his dinner. Like all weapons, a gun is simply a tool. The key,” she pulled back on the top of the gun with a snick-snack sound that creeped her out a little, “Is to know which tool to use in which fight.”

She looked over at Lilly. “Go on, Marie’s waiting. She’ll be fine.

“We’re just gonna work on the basics. First rule: a gun is always loaded. point a gun at anything or anyone you’re not willing to arrange a funeral for …”

As Lilly left the range, she noted Buffy’s expression of horrified fascination: her ingrained loathing of guns of any sort clashing with her lingering Slayer fascination with weaponry.

*** *** ***

Xander was of two minds about his current situation. On the one hand, he had healed Harmony quickly, which had earned him hugs from both her and Willow. Extricating himself from Harmony’s clutches had been an experience in itself: they had to get a handle on that situation. Then, mindful that fighting giants was a messy business, he had stopped by one of the spare rooms, taken a lightning fast shower and changed into a fresh pair of slacks and a grey silk shirt he had bought that day. Now he was returning to Cordelia, who had promised a reward. He wanted that reward.

On the other hand, he was completely tapped out. Running on fumes. Overdrawn at the bank of miracles. It was an odd sensation: even without his store of power he still had his enhanced abilities: strength, speed, endurance, charm and perception. Plus his powers were still there: he simply didn’t have to power to fuel them with.

He felt naked, exposed, and altogether venerable. He fervently hoped that he would ‘recharge’ quickly.

The especially frustrating part was that he knew that he had more abilities: he could feel them, waiting to be activated. The problem was that he a), had no power, and b), had no earthly idea what they did. And something told him that experimenting blindly with divine powers was a good way to get a thunderbolt in the foot.

He paused outside Cordelia’s bedroom. I’m doing the right thing, aren’t I? I mean, she did specifically tell me to come back here, didn’t she? He ran the conversation back through his mind. Yep, pretty clear. She wants me here, I want to be here, now suck it up and get in there!

Taking a deep breath, he pushed the door open and walked in.

Xander had been in Cordelia’s room before. Once. Considering that the previous time had been minutes before when he was helping her with her arm wound, he took a few moments to look around.

Since I’m her boyfriend, this counts as ‘taking an interest’ rather than ‘creepy stalkery behaviour‘, he reassured himself.

The room was big. He himself had a room barely larger than his bed and a desk to do homework at. Cordy’s room, on the other hand, was larger than the Harris home’s living room.

Clearly Cordelia did her homework elsewhere, because her desk was more of an enormous vanity, with the frame of the mirror plastered with photographs. Moving closer, he smiled to see that several of the pictures were of the two of them: one was a candid shot he recognised of the two of them sitting in the library, appearing studious studying the tomes in front of them, while visibly playing footsie beneath the table. Buffy had noticed, and quietly borrowed the polaroid camera Giles kept at hand in case they needed to identify demonic remains.

Cordy had been livid when the flash went off, claiming that the lighting in the library failed to flatter her profile. Xander supposed that Buffy had given her the picture as a peace offering, and he was amazed that Cordy had kept it.

Another picture that caught his eye was decidedly less casual: him in a rented tux standing next to her in an amazing blue silk dress, at the formal event she had dragged him to just before the whole Acathla mess. That had been uncomfortable: her parents had been unimpressed at his presence, to the point of continuously sending the son of on of their friends to ‘cut in’ while they were dancing.

Cordelia had not been impressed, and cut the poor jock to ribbons with cutting retorts, and dismissing him to continue dancing with Xander. The guy had been too confused by her rejection and whatever drugs were in his system to even get angry, and had wandered off in a daze.

His smile grew as he recalled how that night had ended: they had cut out early and drove off in her corvette to a little Italian place they both loved, and finished up by making out in her car outside his place. That night had been the first time he had dared to caress her breasts through her clothing, and he had ample empirical evidence that she had not worn a bra that night.

Her bed was queen-sized, piled high with fluffy pillows and soft comforter pulled down. He didn’t need his enhances senses to know that the cotton on the sheets alone were probably worth more than the entirety of his closet, this morning’s shopping included.

A wide set of French doors opened onto a huge balcony that offered an amazing view of the grounds, including the pool yard. Well, would have, if they weren’t closed. Xander amused himself for a moment imagining Cordelia hauling herself out of the pool, clad in a tiny black bikini, water cascading over the curves her body as she flicked her gorgeous mahogany mane of hair …

… okay, I’m back!

He avoided the open doors of Cordelia’s massive walk-in closet: he didn’t need to see piles of shoes, and he wasn’t quite enough of a teenage boy to go through her underwear.

The sound of a door drew his attention, and he turned around to see the door to her bathroom opening and suddenly his knees were buckling. Unable to take his eyes off the sight of his beautiful girlfriend, he opened his mouth to say something suave and dramatic, but nothing came to mind. So he settled for etching every curve and line of her body to memory.

He stood transfixed as she posed sensually against the doorway, her long legs accentuated by the white shoes she was wearing, with heels that raised her head to only two inches below his own six foot one. His eyes followed the line of her calves, sheathed in creamy silk stockings, the lacy tops ending halfway up her perfect thighs.

Her only other clothing was a bra and panty set, also of white lace, that emphasised the curves of her hips, her trim waist and taut stomach, and gave a little lift to her full C-cup breasts. Her hair was damp from her shower, and flowed in a smooth wave over her shoulders.

Smiling sexily, Cordelia stalked forwards, expertly placing one foot in front of the other, until she found herself directly in front of her boyfriend. As he ran his eyes over her form, he absently noted that she was wearing the heart-shaped necklace that he had given her on that truly insane Valentines day months before.

“I … I don’t know what to say,” he croaked, his mouth suddenly dry, as he realised that he had been less nervous fighting Frosty the Freak.

“Then don’t say anything,” Cordy whispered, reaching up to take his face in her graceful hands, and pulled his lips gently to hers …

… then dropped those same hands to his chest and shoved, hard, sending a surprised Scion backwards, the back of his legs hitting the edge of her bed and he found himself flat on his back.

Pushing himself up on his elbows, his eyes widened as Cordelia sank to her knees between his legs and rested her hands on his knees. Grinning saucily, she slowly slid her hands up his thighs, clearly enjoying his expression as her fingers finally met at the tops of his legs.

*** *** ***

Cordelia smiled to herself as Xander groaned. Cupping his crotch with one hand while the other ran her fingernails gently back down towards his knee, she shivered at the feeling of his growing hardness beneath his slacks. Someone forgot his boxers when he changed, she thought impishly.

Cordelia Chase was not exactly innocent. She had dated a great number of boys especially in the last few years. Depending on how those dates went, she allowed a certain amount of physical intimacy, as a reward for good behaviour. This was not, in fact, the first time she had found herself on her knees in front of her date.

However, despite the stories bandies about by the football team and the other notables of Sunnyvale High, Cordelia was still a virgin. She had, in fact, intended to go all the way with her boyfriend Kevin after the prom, but he had been murdered by vampires before she had even had a chance to tell him how she truly felt about him.

Loosing Kevin had hurt, badly. So much that she had found it hard to go far beyond kissing with any of her dates since, which had led to more than one jock leaving for easier hunting grounds.

But now she was with Xander. Sweet, goofy Xander, who was loyal, brave, selfless and increasingly good looking. Even in their earlier days, when making out was more of a battle for dominance than anything romantic, Xander had never pushed for more than she offered. Clueless Xander had proven to be extremely perceptive about how far she was willing to go, and more than once Cordelia had been the one to initiate more intimate activities.

Like now, she thought, bringing both her hands back to his waist. Deciding to dispense with any more buildup, he nimble fingers popped his pant’s button and deftly pulled down his zipper. Pulling his slacks open, she pulled back and blinked when his cock slid into view. Ooooh, she thought wordlessly, licking her lips. True, by porn-star standards his wasn’t so big, but as she wrapped one hand around the fleshy shaft, she couldn’t help observing that none of her former boyfriends were quite this big.

“Oh shit,” breathed Xander reverently, almost squirming as she ran her fingers up and down his penis. They had never gone into specifics, but Cordy was fairly sure that none of his previous dates had got anywhere close to this far with him. Granted, most of them had ended up trying to kill him at some point, but still, the knowledge that she was his first certainly gave her a thrill.

“Well, looks like something else got enhanced,” she joked.

“Um, no, uh, that’s pretty much the saaaaaamme!” he yelped as Cordelia gave the head of his cock an experimental flick of her tongue, then ran her tongue from the root to the tip.

“Mmm, then I guess there’s something to the Viking legend then,” Cordy suggested, before parting her lips and taking him fully into her mouth.

Xander groaned as his girlfriend concentrated on using hands, lips and tongue to drive him absolutely insane. Sweet Muppety Odin, so this is what Valhalla’s supposed to be like!

*** *** ***

Willow looked at Harmony. “Are we supposed to … I’m sorry, but I’ve seriously never been in this situation before.”

The blond teen had convinced Willow to change into her new dark green one-piece, and now Willow wore that and a borrowed silk wrap as the two walked through the Chase mansion.

Harmony waved a hand nonchalantly as she pulled Willow into the kitchen. “Meh, they’ll come up for air eventually,” she said, opening the fridge and examining the contents. After a moment, she straightened up and looked at Willow over the open door. “Hey, you don’t have to worry about Xander’s innocence or anything like that. Cordy is, like, totally a virgin, and not in a hurry to change status. I‘m sure that he‘s not gonna complain about what she is doing, but it‘ll take more than saving Cordelia‘s life to convince her to go all the way.” She sighed, bending back down again. “Poor girl, doesn’t know what she’s missing.

“Aha!” she announced, pulling a bottle of Champaign out of the fridge. “Perfect. Now, glasses,” she said, then paused when she saw that Willow’s face was matching her hair. “Oh. Sorry. So you and short-but-cute haven’t …”

Willow shook her head violently. “No. I mean, we’ve kissed, and hugged, and there was groping, and oh my God I’m talking to Harmony about my love-life.”

Harmony shrugged. “To be honest, a week ago this would make my day. After joining a never-ending battle against the forces of darkness, suddenly making your life miserable is way down on my list of priorities. Like, below maths class low.”

“Wow,” mused Willow as Harmony finally located the glasses. “That is low.”

The blond shrugged, clearly unconcerned by Willow’s observation. Grabbing two champaign flutes by the stems in one hand and brandishing the bottle in the other, she turned to face Willow, arms wide. “Come on: chilled champaign and hot-tub, match totally made in heaven: just the thing to wind down after saving the world.”

Bemused by Harmony’s enthusiasm, the daughter of a god allowed herself to be whisked off to Harmony’s idea of relaxation.

*** *** ***

Xander would like to say that he lasted for hours. Unfortunately, there was a downside of enhances senses when combined with an excitable eighteen-year old virgin. The firm, practiced motions of her slender fingers, combined with the soft caress of her tongue and the wet heat of her mouth were confronting Xander with sensations that he was simply too overwhelmed to combat. “Ugh, Cordy, I can’t - I’m gonna -”

Cordelia ceased bobbing her head and took a moment to catch her breath, her hands still sliding up and down his shaft. “Shh, it’s okay,” she breathed, smiling up at him. “It’s alright. Don’t hold back, just enjoy it. You can cum whenever you’re -”

“Oh fuck,” he groaned, almost sitting up as his belly clenched, and he orgasmed. The first burst surprised Cordelia, striking her chin, but she hurriedly pulled back and adjusted his shaft so that the remaining spurts of cum splattered her chest and breasts, dribbling into her cleavage and into the lace of her bra. Still smiling, she kept her hands stroking him until he stopped shivering and moaning, and finally flopped back onto the bed, gasping for breath.

As Xander took a moment to recover, Cordelia wiped at her chin with the back of her hand, and licked her swollen lips, only to discover that a warm droplet of semen had landed there. Hmm, she thought, taking a moment, not bad. It’s not magically tasty or anything, but tolerable.

Xander sat up, still breathing heavily, and looked at her, lifting one hand to cup her cheek. Closing her eyes and pressing her face into his hand, she reached up and lay her hand on his wrist.

“You’re amazing,” he breathed, and she knew that he meant it. She opened her eyes as he stroked the other side of her face, and leaned down to kiss her. Now this surprised her: none of her previous boyfriends had wanted to come anywhere near her lips until she had at least washed her mouth out, even when she hadn’t let them finish in her mouth - which she rarely did. So it was slightly off putting for Xander to be kissing her … for about a second, which was how long it took for that kiss to overwhelm her. She hungrily pressed herself against his mouth, lifting her hands to meet at the back of his neck as her lips opened to eagerly accept his tongue. His hands caressed her face and neck as he kissed her, seeming to express his love, affection and, yes, gratitude in the way his lips pressed against hers.

Suddenly, he pulled back. Eyes still closed, she tried to follow his mouth with her own, her full lips still working. Reluctantly, she opened her eyes and looked into his smiling face. “Hey,” she said softly.

“Hey yourself,” he said back, cocking his head as if searching for something in her eyes. “I’ve never … well, no-one’s -”

“I didn’t think mummy girl or the bug lady got that far before they got slayed, but it’s nice to know I’m your first.” Then she got serious again. “Look, dork, I. Love. You. I’m not some silly school girl-brat with a crush, and I’m not playing with you.” one hand left his neck to reach up and trace along his brow. “I don’t give a damn if your mother is a goddess, a housewife or a demon, you’re mine. And if there’s one thing that everyone knows, is that Cordelia Chase never lets go of something that belongs to her.”

Xander smiled. “I guess I could get used to being a kept man,” he joked.

Her smile grew impish again. “The hell with that, looser, you’re conquered territory. And believe me, there will be taxes.” Then she looked down, and her smiled broadened. Her hand trailed down Xander’s face, his neck, down the smooth planes of his chest and down to his lap, and he squirmed as she took him in hand again. “Mmmm, but there are compensations to … cooperation.”

Xander groaned, but reached down to lift her hand from him. “Cor, I really want to. I mean, really. But … we shouldn’t rush. I mean, I love you. Capital letters, bold font, exclamation marks galore. I’m gonna love you for the rest of my life, if it’s a week or an eon. But I don’t want our first time to be … rushed.”

She snorted. “Damned straight, it won’t be! I’m defiantly expecting a lot more when we eventually have sex. I’m talking dinner, music, chocolates and possibly a deserted island, so no one can interrupt.”

Xander winced. “Careful. Knowing us, that’s an invitation for sea monster. Believe me, I know a little about Norse mythology: they’re big with the sea serpents.”

“So we pack harpoons. Look, the point is,” she said, smiling fondly, “we have time. We have plenty of time to do things right.” Then the smile turned into a very naughty grin. “Of course, that doesn’t mean we can’t have a lot of fun between now and then.”

He grinned back. “Then, Ms Chase, I only have one question for you.”

“Yes, Mr Harris?”

He reached down and stroked the back of his knuckles over the lace of her bra, making her shiver. “Is this lingerie particularly expensive?”

Cordelia blinked. “Uh, well, define ’particularly’.”

Xander shrugged. “Eh, too bad.”

Suddenly Cordy shrieked as he seized her by her upper arms and lifted her bodily into the air and spun about. She found herself kneeling on the bed facing the wall, with Xander pressing his torso against her back as his hands kneaded her breasts through her bra. “Don’t worry,” he whispered into her ear as she squirmed, “I’ll get you some more.”

“Huh? What -”

Grasping the cups of her bra, he pulled, snapping the lace and elastic and smoothly slipping it off her arms. Before she could do more than squeek, he firmly placed a hand between her shoulder blades and pushed, so that she landed on her forearms. Then he grabbed the waistband of her panties at either hip and tore them off too. Then he grabbed her hips and flipped her over onto her back.

Shocked by his sudden show of strength, Cordelia was suddenly aware that she was lying with her legs hanging off the end of her bed, naked save for stockings and high heels, with her horny teenaged-demigod of a boyfriend now sinking to his knees and placing his hands on her thighs.

Then she stopped thinking and grabbed handfuls of the sheets as Xander lowered his head and began to kiss. And lick. And suck.

Her eyes squeezed shut and her back arched, and she dimly heard Xander chuckle at her responsiveness. Oh my God, he’s only just getting started. Where the hell did he learn thaaaaaat!

Yeah, for a while at least, thinking was not a priority.

*** *** ***

“You have a problem, Mr Osborne,” stated the colonel, leaning against the brick wall of the alley.

Standing with his back to his van, Oz studied his ’visitor’ dubiously. “You could say so,” he said noncomitaly.

Wolfeson smiled. “You’re right to be cautious, but in this case I here to help you. I’m … a friend of you girlfriend’s father. Her birth father. You might even call me … a concerned uncle.”

Now this gave Oz pause. The revelation of Willow’s nature had thrown him more than he had let on. The thought that his girlfriend’s father was a literal god, and that she herself wasn’t entirely human, had freaked him out for a minute. Then he had realised that, in light of his monthly condition, complaining that his girlfriend wasn’t exactly normal was fairly hypocritical. Willow had stood by him, even when he turned into a rampaging beast, and he loved her for it.

Still, it took a fair amount of effort to control the flood of adrenaline that surged through him as he realised that he was standing only a few feet away from a divinity. A divinity who’s young female relative he had had very intimate contact with the night before.

“Okay.” Mind working furiously behind a placid exterior, he compared what hew knew about Greek mythology and his ‘guest’s’ appearance, and took a wild assed guess. “Ares, I presume?”

The colonel shook his head. “Not a bad guess, Mr Osborne, but not quite. Actually, the God of War is my father. Granted, I can’t stand the bastard, but I’ll admit there’s a resemblance. No, my name is Quirinus.” When this failed to elicit a response, he sighed. “You may recognise my Roman name. Romulus.”

Now that Oz did recognise. “Guy who founded Rome, right? Raised by wolves?”

The smile grew somewhat feral, and Oz felt his metaphorical hackles rise. “That’s the basics. Anyway, my … history … gives me something of an insight into your … condition. Hephaestus is worried about his daughter, and rightfully so. Therianthropism is a Titanspawn curse: every time you shift, the closer you come to falling under the thrall of the Titans. There will come a time, when instead of resisting it, you will embrace the change. When that happens, the Beast will take over, and you will forever belong to them.

“You will no longer care for Willow. You will no longer care for your friends. All you will want, even in human form, is to hunt, to kill, to destroy. To bring down the works of the gods and return the world to the primeval chaos that the Titans crave.”

Oz was silent: there wasn’t much one could say to such a final pronouncement. An Olympian god had just declared his doom.

“Of course,” and the feral smile grew sly, “There are options. One of the best things about being mortal, as I recall, is choices. The gods, as beings of Legend and Fate, are bond by destiny and the currents of myth and history. Mortals, even ones cursed as you are, are … less so.

“So, young wolf, I will make it simple. I am going to offer you a choice. The sort of choice I never had. That your lover will never have. And it is a choice that will decide your destiny.

“So, pup? Are you ready to decide your own fate?”

*** *** ***

Willow and Harmony were amazingly getting on fairly well when Cordelia and Xander finally entered the back yard. Both girls clapped and whistled from the spa as the couple approached, hand in hand, and Xander blushed quite viciously.

Cordelia, on the other hand, held her head high. “Okay, laugh it up, ladies,” she said, discarding her silk robe to reveal a tiny black bikini not to different from the one Xander had been fantasising about earlier. Stepping down into the tub, she accepted a full flute from Harmony. “It’s not like we were doing anything either of you haven’t done.”

Xander almost fell as he entered the water, wearing some basic black shorts. “Okay, I did not hear anything about Willow’s love life, I just wanted to make that clear,” he stated, smiling at the girl he considered his sister in every respect other than blood (or pantheon, for that matter), who’s face was flushed, and not from the alcohol, “that as far as I know you two just play a lot of go fish together.”

“Oh, you guys don’t know what you’re missing,” said the blond, waving her glass dismissively.

“Anyway, Harmony had an idea. Don’t say it,” Willow pointed a finger at Xander, who paused halfway through opening his mouth, and raised his hands in surrender. “So I was telling Harm a few stories, about the Slaying and everything? I mean, gotta get her up to speed on team history, you know?”

“Which was equal parts cool and scary,” insisted Harmony. “I mean, you totally saved the world and all, but you guys keep getting separated. So I thought, how about cell phones? Everyone has one, everyone has everyone’s numbers on speed dial, what’s not to love?”

Xander blinked. “Okay, good idea. Financing might be a bit tricky: they’re not exactly cheep.”

Harmony’s face fell. “Damn. And I’m already gonna be in trouble with Daddy about today’s spending.”

“Oh, that’s right, I was gonna say something when we ran into the giant and his goons,” piped up Willow, drawing all attention to her. “I kinda found out I can tap into computers without touching them, sorta wireless hacking. So I tapped into the store’s computers while we were paying, and kinda rerouted the charges, so Mr Kendall’s never going to get a bill.”

Everyone just starred at her for a moment, before Xander grinned. “Willow, you rebel you! What happened to the little law abiding redhead who would never steal from anyone? And when were you going to tell us about this new little talent of yours?”

“Oh come on, Xander, it’s not like these powers come with an instruction manual. Like your healing stuff, I’m sorta working it out as I go along. As for stealing,” Willow shrugged, waving a hand at her laptop, which sat open next to the tub. The screen blinked, and opened several new windows. “I rerouted the charges through a bunch of shell companies and offshore accounts I set up last night.” Seeing the confusion on her friend’s faces, she waved a hand negligently, “Okay, so I barely sleep anymore, so I got bored. Sue me. Anyway, eventually the charges get whacked onto this guy,” she said, pointing to the laptop, which was showing the image of a large, bald man yelling silently at the camera.

“He runs a survivalist slash hate group in Montana, and I have no qualms about ‘acquiring’ his money. His group hates everybody.”

“Oh come on, no one could possibly …” Cordelia hesitates, and leaned over to look closer at the laptop screen, which was scrolling down to display the group’s manifesto. Her lips worked silently for a moment, before she sat back and nodded. “Okay, I stand corrected.”

Willow nodded. “I especially liked the part about the ‘Communist Jew Republican Catholics and their running dogs, the gay black Protestant Democrat feminists.’ Two things scare me about this guy: first, he actually seems to believe the filth he’s spouting. Second, people actually send him money. Lots of it.

“It‘s not something we can do for everything, but at least he’s short the price of a few dresses, shirts and some lacy underthings.” She giggled. “I wonder what he’ll think when he reads his credit statement?”

*** *** ***

The group broke up late in the afternoon, agreeing to meet up at the Bronze that evening for the Dingo’s performance. Before they left, Willow and Xander both encouraged the Cordettes to pack heavy: crosses, stakes and holy-water vials were necessities, compacts and hair spray were luxuries.

Fortunately, whatever it was that had been making Harmony … gravitate … towards Xander seemed to have worn off: the group decided to put it aside as standard Sunnydale weirdness until they knew more. So Harmony restricted herself to quietly giggling with Willow (and wasn’t that a weird experience) as Xander enthusiastically kissed Cordelia as if they were about to be separated for months, rather than hours.

“You know, I’d find it really creepy if you didn’t really love her,” commented Willow as the pair walked down the sidewalk, headed for their neighbourhood. They had been offered a lift, but with their endurance the walk was no effort, and there was little that would threaten them even this late in the afternoon. “Since you so obviously do, as President of the ‘We Hate Cordelia Club’ I officially state that it’s lowered to simply gross,” she joked, bumping her shoulder against his arm.

He wrapped his arm affectionately about her shoulders. “And I appreciate that. Heck, this whole thing, dating Cordy and being friends with Harmony - leaving aside the ‘lust’ effect she had going (and man-o-man am I glad that seems to be over) - is totally wigsome. A year ago, if you said that any of this was going on, forgetting the family drama for a minute, I would have called you a loon. But … yeah, I love her.”

Willow nodded. “Gotta admit, when she’s not actively trying to make my life hell … I guess she’s tolerable.”

Xander grinned and squeezed her close to his side. “That’s the Willow I know.”

A familiar rumble filled his sensitive ears, and Xander smiled as he craned his head back over his shoulder. “Speaking of love,” he commented, swivelling Willow about to face the van pulling up beside them.

“Oz!” squeeled Willow, before rushing over to the open passenger window, and leaning in to kiss her boyfriend.

“Hey,” he said once they came up for air. “Hey,” he said to Xander over Willow’s shoulder. The words might have been identical, but the expression behind them were plainly separate.

“Hey, man,” Xander rejoined, waving. “Look, I’m only a block away from home, can you see this young lady home before she causes a scene? We must think of the children, you know,” he said sagely.

“Protect the innocent. Check,” nodded the werewolf.

Xander offered the two a jaunty salute, and turned on his heel to go.

Oz watched him head off, then turned off the van’s engine and popped the passenger seat. “Hop in,” he suggested.

Curiously, Willow did as instructed, climbing into the passenger seat. “Hey,” she said softly, leaning over to peck him on the cheek. “Is something wrong?”

Oz frowned for a moment. “Kinda. Can we hop in the back? So we can have a bit more privacy?”

Now Willow was worried. Oh, gods, is he gonna break up with me? The whole ‘my daddy’s an Olympian’ thing is getting to him? Or he’s fallen in love with someone else? Oh no, he’s sick, and lycanthropy doesn’t cure cancer? His parents got a job overseas, and he’s moving to Guam?

Oz could tell that her brain was going into overdrive, so he used the technique he had perfected to stop the runaway organ.

Once he pulled back from the kiss, she smiled. “Thankyou,” she whispered.

“No problem.”

*** *** ***

Xander shook his head as he trumped up the stairs to his room. Remarkably, his dad had been sober, shaven and fully dressed when the scion had walked through the door. True, he was still watching the game, but damn me if he wasn’t drinking coffee rather than a beer!

Hoping that his father might be starting to pull his life together again, he had paused to chat a while with the old man, and had actually had a decent conversation with him, rather than their customary grunts and generalities.

This keeps up, I might actually have a relationship with my father, he mused as he pushed open the door to his room …

… and promptly drew his sword.

Sitting in his chair, feet up on his desk, sat a beautiful redhead, tall and long-legged, clad in a blue polo shirt, blue jeans and boots that looked like they were made of some kind of snake skin. A quick glance around the room noted that a broadsword wrapped in a leather belt was dumped on his bed, and a long-shafted spear was leaning against one wall. Amazingly, the girl just sat there, not looking up from where she was reading -

“Hey! That’s mine!”

“True,” she said, finally looking up from the graphic novel she was reading: one of several strewn over the desk. “You know, your mom loves these things,” she confided, holding up so he could see the cover, and he almost blushed when he realised that it was an image of the Marvel Comic’s version of Sif wrapped around the figure of Thor, “but she really hates that they always get her hair wrong.”
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