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The Iron Coin Chronicles: Season 1

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This story is No. 2 in the series "The Iron Coin Chronicles". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: A Sequel to "The Iron Coin of the Jester". Xander has the Iron Coin, and with it, he can stop Fate's plans for his friends. But is change always good? Set during BtVS Season 3. Xander-Centric with a Xander/Cordelia pairing.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
BtVS/AtS Non-Crossover > GeneralAlkeniFR1524152,9801213139,98426 Sep 1216 Nov 14Yes

Episode 5: No Answers

Disclaimer: I do not own Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Thanks to Starway Man and my girlfriend for beta-reading this.

The Iron Coin Chronicles: Season 1

By Alkeni

Episode 5: No Answers

October 22nd, 1998
Library, Sunnydale High School

Xander was alone on the mezzanine level of the Sunnydale High library, checking out a theory within the privacy of the stacks.

Back in the beginning, he had of course investigated  the contents of Giles's library; which had, predictably, no books about The Jester, or the Hydra, or Fate and Chaos – at least not in the senses that the Jester had outlined to him. No books containing information in any language Xander could read, anyway. Granted that Harris had, at some point along the way, found out about a group of powerful beings on the side of 'good' known only as 'The Powers that Be'; a rather obscure collection of higher beings believed to be responsible for activating the next Slayer as needed, and the information source of many seers, particularly those that provided visions for Champions on the side of Light.

But such things had been more or less incidental; Xander had figured looking up Fate or Chaos, more generally, might get him somewhere. So far he hadn't found anything useful, but then he'd only just started on the books written in Latin.

Xander didn't look up from the latest book he was checking out when he heard the double doors open, but he did when he realized that the new arrival was Buffy.

“Giles?” Harris heard Buffy say, her voice unusually tense. “We need to talk.”

“Alright then.” Giles said softly. Xander heard a book close. Then the Watcher said, “What do we need to talk about? What's wrong?”

“Xander! That's what's wrong. He told me...Giles, how the heck did the two of you know that Angel was back before I did? And why the hell didn't either of you tell me!?”

Gee, Buff, Xander thought to himself acidly, just announce it to the whole school while you're at it, why don't you? He could easily imagine Giles cleaning his glasses yet again as he provided the answer.

“I'm not entirely sure how Xander knew that Angel was back, Buffy. He just did. He knew that in five days, you would fight and end up subduing a feral Angel.”

“So, what, he just came up to you and told you that?!” Buffy exploded furiously.

“Essentially, yes.”

Buffy didn't say anything for a moment, and Xander smiled to himself as he accurately imagined the blonde Slayer gaping in surprise at Rupert's answer. Finally, though, she managed to speak up again, “And you just believed him?”

“Of course. He's developed a bit of a track record about being right about such things, you see.”

“What are you talking about? 'Cause Xander's opinion is wrong, nearly every time he opens his-”

“That's not true, and you know it full well, Buffy.” Giles reprimanded her even as Xander scowled up in the stacks. “You're upset. I understand that.” The British man paused for a moment. “I'm not sure if the boy's told you, but Xander knew that you were in Los Angeles after you...left town, back in May. He knew where you were, and told me he was going there to bring you home. I had nothing to do with him going, by the way; he chose to do that all on his own. Xander also knew about the demons running that teen shelter. He likewise knew that Faith was going to arrive when she did, which is how I had the opportunity to learn beforehand what had happened with her Watcher and Kakistos.”

“What?!” Buffy sputtered a moment. “But how is that – how did he-?”

“I haven't the slightest idea, Buffy.” Giles admitted.

Oh, come on, Hydra! Harris thought to himself, I can't imagine this conversation is something I could tell Buffy – or anyone else. So how come the G-man can do it? There was also the fact that Xander just plain didn't like how Giles was telling Buffy all of this. It would make everything much harder in the future... even though Harris had known that it was a given that Giles would say something to someone, eventually. Still...

“But as I said, Xander has a proven track record regarding these things, nowadays.” Giles continued. “And, incidentally, his counsel is the only reason why I didn't go out into those woods with that dart-gun over there, so I could find Angel, incapacitate him, and then stake him before you ever even knew he'd come back.”

"You what?" Buffy now sounded horrified. "But Giles..."

“But what? Do you even remember what his, his alter ego did? To me, to Jenny?” Giles's voice now sounded ice-cold, and Xander didn't enjoy imagining what the expression on the British man's face was like.

“Of course I remember. But it's exactly like you just said!” Buffy argued. “It wasn't Angel who did all that. It was Angelus!”

“Buffy, I'll only say this once. Not everyone is as capable of differentiating between the two of them as you are.” Giles pointed out softly. “At least not on a, a gut level. I for one still have nightmares about that soulless creature leering at me, seeing Angel's face as Angelus gleefully tortured me into giving up the information he wanted to activate Acathla, a-and destroy the world. In case you didn't know, that vampire broke every finger on my left hand, he nearly severed the ligaments on both my legs, and had Spike of all people not intervened, he would have brought out a chainsaw and cut off my-”

“Giles, please – stop. Don't, I-I can't, I-I-I don't want to hear this,” Buffy's voice definitely had a begging quality to it now.

“As you wish. But to return to our previous topic – apparently, Xander knew that Angel would return, and even speculated that he must have had help in order to escape that hell dimension to which you sent him. Something I'm rather inclined to agree with, after having had nearly a week to think about it. And as I said, Buffy, the boy's insistence that I let you deal with Angel was the only reason I didn't go hunting for him when I first found out the big news. Why I didn't give that never-to-be-sufficiently-damned creature payback in kind, for everything he did to me that night.”

Xander sensed how Buffy was trying to compose herself, and accurately guessed that she hadn't expected the conversation to have proceeded this way. Then he heard the blonde girl ask, “Who else knows about this? I mean, Xander mentioned that he hadn't told anyone about Angel except you, even if I'm not sure I can actually believe him...”

Giles shrugged. “It's true enough, a-as far as I know; the only people who've learned about Angel having returned so far are you, Xander and myself. I must admit that I have serious misgivings about not telling Faith, to be completely frank with you; but again, I'm willing to trust you in keeping his existence a secret from her. For now, anyway.”

“But why would Xander-? He hates Angel!” Buffy sounded absolutely befuddled and bewildered after hearing that bit of news.

Xander rolled his eyes and came out from behind the shelves. “Yeah, more or less.” He said as he came down the stairs from the mezzanine level, and both Giles and Buffy turned to face him. “But I also know some pretty important things, Buff: one, Dead Boy can be helpful around here, at least as long as he's all soul-having and stays as miserable as hell. And two, for some reason that doesn't – and never will – make any sense to me, you care about him. No, let's be honest; you love the guy in the 'till death do us part' sort of way. And as much as I don't like that undead asshole, and as much as I don't like you keeping his return a secret from the rest of the gang; the simple fact is that I trust you, Buffy. We've been friends long enough for me to accept that you know what you're doing, where that bloodsucker's concerned.” Well, sometimes, anyway.

Unfortunately, Buffy was in no mood to think rationally about what Xander had just said. “Is it true? That you knew all those things, before they happened?” Xander nodded. “So what else do you know?” She demanded.

“At the moment?” Xander shrugged. “Nothing at all, in terms of future knowledge. Well, I do know that it's very, very likely that keeping Angel's return a secret is going to end very, very badly; but then, I already told you that.”

How did you know all those things?” Buffy demanded in her best 'I am Slayer, answer me!' tone of voice.

“An all-powerful agent of Chaos called the Jester gave me his magic Iron Coin that allows me to get a sneak peak about what Fate is planning for people.” And, exactly as Xander expected, not a single word of that came out. His mouth opened, his lips moved, but no words could be heard.

“Xander! What the hell!? Don't you play games-” Buffy started to rant, it appeared that her temper was about to hit boiling point.

Giles cut Buffy off at once. “He's not playing anything, Buffy. Xander literally can't tell you; this also happened when he tried to explain to me how he knew that you were in Los Angeles, a-and about those demons you encountered there.” Giles took his glasses off and started to clean them. The nervous habit was one that had been only exacerbated during his time on the Hellmouth. “I rather suspect he's under some kind of geas or magical compulsion, preventing him from speaking about how he knows what he knows. Whoever or whatever decided to give him this sort of advance knowledge, it clearly wants to protect its identity from the rest of us.”

“Actually, he just wants to make it more fun for himself by making it harder for me.” Xander tried to say. Unfortunately, he couldn't manage to vocalize any of that either. Harris paused and then said, “Look, Buffy, I wish I could tell you everything, I really do. I wish I could tell all of you about what's happened to me. But I can't. So you're just gonna have to trust me on this, the same way I have to trust you about Angel. It really is that simple, whether you like it or not.”

Buffy looked at him, and opened her mouth several times, but said nothing... thanks to the sheer sincerity in Xander's voice. In her view, Xander Harris was, even at the best of times, usually an unserious person. It was his thing, his way of coping with the hell that they went through every day and every night living on the Hellmouth. But now...

Buffy looked Xander directly in the eye, and nodded once. There were no words exchanged...and Xander could tell that even though the Slayer didn't like this situation, she knew she'd just have to deal somehow. Trust was – had to be – a two-way street, after all. But then the blonde girl said, “So, does that mean you want me to keep all this a secret? You want me to lie to Willow, and Oz, and even Cordelia about what's going on with you nowadays?”

“Yeah,” Xander said with a loud sigh. “I mean, I've thought about it; but what do you think is gonna happen once the rest of the gang finds out about this? They'll just look at me the same way you're looking at me right now, Buff. Like I'm some kinda freak. And I'd rather not see that look on my best friend's face, or my girlfriend's face either, for as long as I possibly can. Besides, there's nothing they could do to help me deal with this, anymore than you and Giles can. And yeah, I'm sure they'll find out the truth eventually; but I prefer for it to be later rather than sooner. Just like the situation with you and Dead Boy, now that I come to think of it...”

October 23rd, 1998
17619 White Oak Drive, Sunnydale

It was time to flip the coin again. Time to figure out what Fate had in store for his friends, in the weeks and months ahead.

And to wait for the other shoe to drop.

So far, Xander felt, he hadn't effected that much real change – sure, he'd brought Buffy home earlier, he'd gotten Faith into better housing, he'd confronted Giles and Buffy about Angel... but still, the broader outcomes of what he'd seen created by Fate had nonetheless taken place as he'd seen them. Which was, in part, because there wasn't as much for him to change just yet.

Over the past three months, though, Xander had screwed up Fate's plans, even if it was just a little. He had definitely changed the course of some predestined events, which had the potential to snowball into larger changes. Xander had no idea if Fate had noticed, or even if it cared, but he doubted that his luck was so good that he'd be ignored by the agents of Fate for very much longer. Still, for the life of him...without any ability to know more about the powers of Fate – or even, really, the powers of Chaos – Harris had no idea where or when or how they'd come at him. Fate couldn't control perhaps they'd try to control the people around him...even if he had the Iron Coin, and could tell if Fate was going to get up to something in their lives. But then...Xander to admit, he had no idea about what other methods Fate might have at its disposal to enforce its plans.

And what were those plans? Why did Fate decide that this was supposed to happen, and not that, or vice-versa? What larger goal could have been served by Buffy dying, for example, down in the Master's cave eighteen months ago? On a very basic level, though, the answer to those questions didn't really matter to the male teen. If Fate was going to fuck around with him, and his friends...Xander knew he'd do whatever it took to protect his friends from whatever Fate threw at them.

He took a breath and flipped the coin. “Buffy Summers.” He saw...nothing. Both comforting...and worrying. Harris didn't know what was coming, but whatever it was, this meant that it wasn't going to be the work of Fate...which meant that it was probably – okay, possibly – not going to be as big a deal as Overbite's return into their lives. Shrugging, Xander then flipped the Iron Coin again. “Faith Lehane.”

The vision instantly tore through the young man's mind like a freight train.

A woman...all refinement and tea and ambition. A glove, metal, ancient, something that fit all the way up to the elbow, spines around the, they looked more like spikes or prongs. The woman...Faith watching in horrified disbelief as the unknown woman put the glove on, they were standing in what looked like the abandoned mansion Buffy had set Angel up in.

“Faith.” The woman said, “You're an idiot.” Lightning then flew out from the the woman released a mad laugh of triumph.

Xander staggered back, and nearly fell over. That vision...the sheer intensity of had been more powerful than any other he'd ever had. Apart from that first one, way back when he'd first gotten the Iron Coin.

That woman had definitely had a British accent...and the way she'd carried herself, all prim and proper and wearing a cardigan of all things, in southern California? It almost screamed 'Watcher' to him. I thought they were all stuffy old guys, like Giles, or that Merrick person Buffy mentioned...instead, they also seem to come in the female and psychotic variety... Xander laughed just a little at that thought. He made a mental note to calm down, as he sounded almost hysterical; and to keep an eye out for the bad guy dressed in good guy clothing.

Taking another deep breath, Xander flipped the coin again. “Cordelia Chase.” Nothing. “Rupert Giles.” Nothing. “Daniel Osbourne.” Nothing, again. “Joyce Summers.” A whole lot of nothing. Harris sighed, anticipating nothing but more of the same as he said the final name on his list.

“Willow Rosenberg.”

This time, Xander did fall down once that vision had finished blasting through his mind, he was unable to stay upright even though he tried to grab onto the back of his desk chair.

“What the hell?!” Xander yelled at the Iron Coin, which had likewise fallen to the floor. He quickly leaned over to grab the coin, which he pocketed, still shaking his head. What he had seen...the very idea of kissing Willow like that, within her bedroom...

Xander loved Willow, of course, as his best, and oldest friend. As a sister even, almost. But making out with her, like he'd seen in that vision the Iron Coin had granted him...frankly, it made Harris feel more than a little bit nauseous. Even though, despite the shock and embarrassment factor, in the vision he had...enjoyed it. Which was almost even more nauseating. And the concept that he and Willow would do something like that to Cordelia and Oz...the young man totally didn't get it...

Xander walked quickly to the bathroom and poured water from the tap into a cup, drinking it down quickly. After hesitating for a moment, he filled the cup and emptied it again two more times. Finally, the Slayerette set the cup down on the sink counter, placing both of his hands on the same counter and looking at himself in the mirror.

“Okay, dude. Get a grip.” Harris told himself. “Let's think about it rationally for a moment. Fate can't control what I do directly.” Or, at least, I'm going to keep thinking that since, well, it's a lot more comforting than the alternative. “So there has to be a reason why they'd think I would kiss Willow, and then be able to write that into Willow's book.” Taking a breath, Xander focused and went over the vision again in his mind, which was still as fresh as if he'd just had it.

They're there in Willow's room, getting ready for the Homecoming dance; somehow, he knows that. They're trying their formal wear on? He's not sure yet, just that the meeting is related to Homecoming...wait, yes, he's putting on the monkey suit borrowed from his cousin Rigby, and behind a screen, Willow is putting on her black dress. She comes out from behind the screen, and he looks at her...

She does look nice...pretty, even. Xander admitted to himself. But still... first of all, he didn't think Willow looked close to prettier than Cordelia, and second of all...his Willow-shaped best friend was only attractive to him in the abstract. Like when he'd accidentally found an old wedding photo of his parents. He'd thought his mom had looked pretty in her white dress, but nothing more than that.

And yet somehow, that version of himself that was in the vision had thought otherwise. He'd been overwhelmed, like 'he was seeing her for the first time.' Which didn't make any sense. Xander closed his eyes again and, almost sweating with the mental effort, he went over the vision again, carefully, inch by inch...and then he saw it.

It was almost invisible...but not quite. A mist...just the faintest vestige of black smoke, not far from the rear wall of the bedroom, around head-high.

Some kind of spell, or something. Xander thought to himself in satisfaction. He believed it had to be, knowing nothing of a certain species of mercenary demon whose incorporeal signature this was. 

Still, who would cast a spell like that on him...and Willow, for that matter? Despite the romantic feelings the redhead had apparently always felt towards him – which he'd missed out on completely, up until last year – Xander knew Willow was with Oz now, and would never want to do anything like that to the werewolf musician. She was a better person than that; Xander was willing to stake his own soul on that belief.

So why would... Xander started to think to himself, before  one possible answer occurred to him.

Fate. It seemed a little banal as a way to get revenge, or even force him onto a path of its choosing, but then Xander suspected that Fate played a long-term game. Obviously, there was more to all this than just him kissing Willow...

Although, whatever Fate's ultimate purpose was, Alexander Lavelle Harris knew that he damn well wasn't going to let it happen.

November 2nd, 1998
Chase Residence, Sunnydale

“I was wondering,” Xander said, as he got ready to leave the mansion and head back to his house. Of course, walking home after sunset in Sunnydale was a little more complicated than it might be elsewhere. You didn't just grab your coat and go. Stake? Check. Cross? Check. Holy Water? Check. Ready to run for your life at a moment's notice? Also check.

“Yeah, about what?” Cordelia asked as Xander finally put his coat on.

“Well, I was kinda hoping you could help Willow out with picking her dress for Homecoming. Since you know more about the whole fancy dress thing than...well, anyone else I know.” Harris smiled somewhat nervously.

“Xander.” Cordelia complained just a little. “Come on! I've been playing nice with Willow ever since last year, and...well, she's been doing the same thing with me, but the fact of the matter is, we just don't get along. Hell, the only reason we've called a truce to all the hostilities is you.” She pointed out.

“I'm not asking you to become best friends with her.” Xander said, repressing a feeling of pain over how two of the most important women in his life simply didn't like each other much, if at all. “Much as I wish you guys would become best buds, we all know it ain't gonna happen. All I'm asking is that you help Will out with her dress, accessories, that kind of stuff.”

“That 'kind of stuff'?” Cordelia laughed in genuine amusement.

“Okay, fine. I don't know squat about all the girlie stuff, which is kinda odd, now that I think of it – since nearly all my friends are of the female persuasion.” Xander sighed. “Look, we're seniors now, and this is the last opportunity Willow's ever going to have to enjoy this sort of dance, and I want her to enjoy it, and for everything to go well for her and Oz. So, please do this for me? I'll let you pick the next three movies we watch!”

Cordelia laughed again. “No way, for this I'm going to need a lot more than that.” She smiled wickedly. Uh-oh... Xander didn't like the look of that smile. Cordelia then added, “If I do this for you, then you gotta let me take you shopping for a whole new wardrobe.”

Xander held up his hands and made a cross with his fingers, as if warding her off. They both laughed for a moment at his antics before Harris said, “Come on, Cordy. This isn't worth an entire wardrobe.” Harris knew his girlfriend had been wanting to take him shopping for a clothing makeover ever since she'd returned from summer vacation. But Xander happened to like his clothes – even the Hawaiian shirts everyone else seemed to hate – and he didn't think Cordelia should be spending that much money on him in the first place, even if she insisted she could afford it. Which wasn't the point. It wasn't as if he could spend as much dough on her, even if he used his entire road-trip fund. Which, frankly, he wasn't expecting to actually use for its intended purpose any longer, not at this point...

And most importantly? Xander, like nearly every male of the human species, really, really didn't like clothes shopping.

“One outfit, tops.” He countered.

Cordelia considered. “Two outfits, and you let me pick the next three movies. Final offer.” She smiled.

Xander looked at Cordelia carefully to see if she was bluffing, or maybe could be talked down to one outfit and the next three movies...but he didn't think so. He gave a mock shudder at the thought of shopping, though it was quite the horror. Her choosing the next three movies wouldn't be that bad, overall. So Xander just nodded. “Alright. You win.”

“Well, naturally. Did you ever actually expect otherwise?” Cordelia asked, before unleashing her incredible megawatt smile.

November 3rd, 1998
Sunnydale High School

Xander walked next to Willow as they walked away from getting their yearbook pictures taken. It had been more annoying than he'd anticipated, having to pose for the camera that way; but Willow had seemed to love it. But now, perhaps not unexpectedly, the redhead was totally focusing on the upcoming Homecoming dance.

“ help me pick out an outfit. I wanna wear something that makes Oz go, 'oh'.” She grinned.

“Actually,” Xander said hesitantly, he'd been hoping she'd say something like this so he could ease Willow into the 'accept Cordelia's help' thing. “I was thinking Cordelia could help you with that better than I could. Let's face it, no one knows fashion better than her!”

Willow rolled her eyes. “Cordelia wouldn't want to help me, Xander.”

“Uh, well...” Xander said slowly. “I kind of already asked her, and she said yes.”

“What? But why would she-?” Willow looked at him suspiciously. “Xander?”

“Would you believe, she's my girlfriend and I can be very persuasive?” Harris offered sheepishly.

“Xander.” Willow said sternly. “Resolve face.” Indeed, it was there.

He really didn't want to tell her the truth, but then, Harris figured the lie (or lie by omission) about the Iron Coin was already bad enough. So he said, “I agreed to let her take me shopping, and buy me a few new outfits.”

“Xander!” Willow knew how much he would have hated that.

“Hey, I just want this shindig to go well for you. And you gotta admit, Cordelia really does know this stuff the best.”

“There you go calling it 'stuff' again, Xander.” Cordelia said, smiling just a little, then she returned to scoping out the room, even as she walked closer towards them.

“Watchya doing?” Xander asked her.

“Checking out the – and I laughingly use the phrase – competition.” Cordelia answered. She looked over at one girl, chatting with a couple of boys and playing with her hair. Oz chose that moment to come up and put an arm around Willow, much to the redhead's appreciation.

“Holly Charleston: nice girl, brain dead, doesn't have a prayer.” Cordelia continued. She shifted her gaze to another girl, who was handing out flyers. “Michelle Blake: open to all mankind, especially those with a letterman's jacket and a car.” She looked at Xander, concerned. “She could give me a run for my money.” Xander couldn't help but smile at his girlfriend's antics. Even with all that they dealt with on a daily basis...Cordelia could still take this kind of thing so seriously. In a way, it was one of the many little quirks that he loved about her.

“Where's Buffy?” Willow asked, and both she and Oz looked around. “She's gonna miss the yearbook pictures.”

“Buffy and Faith are in the library, training.” Xander answered distractedly. 

Oz raised an eyebrow, which considering the young man in question, was almost the equivalent of a worried frown. “I don't think she was here the day they announced them. Did anybody tell her?”

Cordelia waved a hand. “Oh, I'll tell her now. I have to go to the nurse's office for an ice pack, anyway.”

Xander put his hand on her arm, feeling worried. “Did you hurt yourself?”

Cordelia smiled and nudged him gently. “No, silly. It shrinks the pores!” She walked off, but unlike what would have been...Xander followed after her. Which caused the Librarian  to start screaming obscenities at the Jester in another dimension, all of which simply made the agent of Chaos smile in sheer ecstasy. 

“I'll go with you.” Xander said to Cordelia, blissfully unaware of that. “I need to talk to the G-man, anyway.”

“You've been doing that a lot recently.” Cordelia pointed out. “More than usual, I mean.” She raised an eyebrow, as if expecting him to answer.

Xander thought for a moment, then said, “He's been teaching me Latin.” He frowned a little. “It's slow-going, but then most of the important research books aren't written in English, and at least Latin has the same letters as English. Man, I don't even wanna think about trying to learn languages using runes or hieroglyphics!”

Cordelia looked at him carefully. “You're trying to make yourself more useful, right?”

Xander nodded. “Yeah.” He saw the look on her face. “Cordelia, honey, no matter what we end up doing once high school's over, we're still gonna be here in Sunnydale up until next summer. So I wanna contribute however I can, on account of our lives might depend on it.”

Cordelia had to concede the point there. They reached the library, but then Cordelia got distracted, going over to a couple of guys in order to canvass them for their votes regarding Homecoming Queen. “Mashad! Hi...”

Smiling a little, Xander shook his head. “And this is why I came along.” Though he did also need to hand in his latest Latin sentence translations to Giles. He walked inside. “Hey, Buffy.” Harris said, then pointed to the closed office door. “Giles in there?”

“Yep.” Buffy said, then she added, “So, why do you need to talk to him? Is it about-” The senior Slayer quickly cut herself off, she didn't want to say 'the fact that you seem to be able to know the future?' as Faith was there.

“No, it's not that.” Xander shook his head. He saw as Faith picked up on the hesitation, and knew she was wondering what it was that Buffy hadn't said. “Believe it or not?” He held up the piece of paper that his Latin sentences had been written on. “Giles has me learning a dead language.” He headed for the door, but then he turned back. “Oh, yeah, nearly forgot. Did you know that yearbook pictures are being taken today? They're almost done, too. Not sure if you were here, when they announced it.”

“Yearbook pictures; that's today?!” Buffy exclaimed, dismayed. “I thought that was tomorrow!!”

“Nope.” Xander shook his head.

“Sorry, Faith, I gotta go!” Straightaway Buffy wiped her face with a towel, fixed her hair and makeup with the aid of a compact mirror, and then tore out of the library. 

Faith just shrugged to herself, once Buffy was gone and Xander had entered Rupert's private office. “No skin off my nose, whatever.”

And thus, Buffy Anne Summers never got the idea of running for Homecoming Queen...

November 3rd, 1998
Chase Residence, Sunnydale

The silver armored demon known as Skip had no idea what he was supposed to do right now. Because first off, the redhead was at the wrong house, and second, the Mother's boyfriend wasn't anywhere near the Wiccan wannabe tonight. So how the hell was he supposed to do that lust spell on the two of them, according to the boss's game plan? Because unfortunately, said boss was entirely unreachable at the moment to ask for new orders.

“Well, crap.” It looked like he might have to improvise. And Skip hated improvising. It was always so...messy.

“Personally, I've always found myself quite liking improvisation.”

Skip turned around and saw an Armani-clad human with solid blue eyes. No, not human; definitely not. Not only was the smell all wrong, but Skip could feel the waves of power rolling off of this being, whatever it truly was. And given that neither of the girls were reacting to his presence, this guy had to be as invisible as Skip himself was.

“Okay, so who are you, and why are you reading my thoughts?” the demon mercenary asked politely enough.

The blue-eyed being smirked. “They call me the Jester. You might have heard of me.”

Awwww, shit! Skip couldn't help but intake a deep, sharp breath. He had indeed heard about the Jester. The merc also knew that pissing off something that powerful was not conducive to his long-term health. Or survival. His employer could handle something like this guy, maybe, but definitely not him.

“Yeah, I've heard of you. So what are you doing here?” Skip maintained that cool, polite tone.

“Oh, you know, getting my kicks by watching certain people's well-laid plans go awry.”

Worried, Skip asked. “Just for the record, since she's sure to ask; were you the one to screw up the boss's plan?”

The Jester shook his head. “Nope. That was all Xander Harris, oddly enough. To think, he's fast becoming my favorite mortal in this little town! And that's where you screwed the pooch, you know. Just assuming that he'd be in the right position, when you needed him to be.”

“Wasn't my plan, pal, I'm just the hired help.” Skip pointed out.

“True. And in my opinion, your boss makes her plans way too elaborate.” The Jester smiled. “Tell her I said hi, will you? And that I wish her luck. Because she'll definitely need it.” He laughed and vanished.

Holy crap on a cracker. Betcha this won't go over well. Skip morphed into black smoke and subsequently left the mortal plane himself.

November 13th, 1998
Chase Residence, Sunnydale

Thankfully, Homecoming had taken place without too much trouble – at least as far as Xander was personally concerned. Although Faith and Buffy, the first to be picked up by the limousine the Scooby Gang had rented to take them to the dance, did get hijacked into a remote part of the outskirts of Sunnydale. All in order to take part in a sick 'contest' hosted by Kakistos' former minion, Mr. Trick. Slayerfest '98, he'd called it. Complete with demons, the surviving Gorch brother and his undead wife, crazy high-tech German assassins and some weird wannabe mountain man. 

As one might have expected, though, the bad guys all got their asses kicked by the Chosen Two, even though Mr. Trick escaped the Slayers' wrath by the time the 'fun' was all over. And after he heard about it from the Slayers, Xander had a feeling that that vampire was going to become the latest headache in Sunnydale for a while.

Concerned over how the limo had failed to pick them up, Willow, Oz, Cordelia and Xander had made their own way to the Bronze and waited for Faith and Buffy to join them. Harris had been worried that Faith had somehow found out about Angel, and that the two Slayers had had a major falling out over that. Still, his worries had been for naught; the two Slayers, having bonded over the life or death situation they'd found themselves in, had shown up just as the guy named Devon had announced Cordelia had been elected Homecoming Queen. Dirty, disheveled but still smiling broadly, the Chosen Two had clapped and cheered as the crown had been placed upon Cordelia's head and the head cheerleader had launched into her acceptance speech. Something memorable for how short it unexpectedly was, once Cordelia had caught sight of the Slayers.

Still, for all its epic nastiness, Slayerfest '98 didn't hold a candle to the Band Candy incident. And while from a certain point of view it had been funny as hell, it had also been somewhat traumatizing to witness all the teachers and adults – and even Principal Snyder – briefly revert to their teenage selves. Also, finding out the candy had been drugged by that old 'friend' of Giles, Ethan Rayne...just so a demon could get babies to eat? And that Trick was the one behind recruiting the chaos mage, in order for Lurconis to get his unholy meal?

Yep. I knew he'd be trouble. Xander thought to himself, as he held Cordelia in his arms and they watched The Horse Whisperer together on the couch. That guy Trick, he's definitely gonna be a problem. Well, until Buffy and Faith eventually deal with him, and dust his undead ass...

"Hey, Xander?" Cordelia said sleepily.

"Yeah, Cor?"

"Were you planning to stay over tonight? 'Cause if you parents aren't gonna be back from Catalina until tomorrow. And the maid, Lupe, she has the night off." Cordelia let her hand trail lazily down towards her boyfriend's southern regions, feeling gleeful over how...stiff...he'd just become. "What do you say...once the movie's over, you wanna fool around a little in my room?"

It was amazing how neither teenager could hear the screams of rage being emitted by Skip's employer within that higher dimension, which was the home of the Powers That Be, over how her plans (and that of Fate) were unraveling faster and faster with every passing moment.
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