What’s My Line, part VI
A/N: Disclaimer, author’s notes, etc., are at the beginning of chapter 1; spoilers are through “What’s My Line”.
Xander hurried along the path, Willow right behind him. She asked, “Where are we going?”
He said, “Back way into the library. If you’re gonna be late to school, you duck into the library first and then get Giles to write you a note saying you were doing schoolwork in the library and looking stuff up.”
“Why would I need to do that?” Willow asked.
“Okay, if I’m
gonna be late I do the G-man note thing.”
She frowned, “Xander, you’re not supposed to be late to school!”
He said, “Okay, but I haven’t been late for weeks, since…”
“Since Halloween?” she guessed.
He tried not to blush or anything. “Well… yeah.”
She admitted, “I’m really with the wiggins about your Xena dealie. I mean, she’s a girl
“Yeah, I noticed that,” he muttered. “Look Will, I’m seriously with the wiggins about it too. Maybe even more than you. But I’m not Xena. I’m still me. I just… have some memories. Some really freaksome memories. If Buffy had some dreams about a long-dead Slayer, would you be all weirded out about her?”
“Well no…” said Willow slowly. “But I’m not kissing her. Or thinking about doing more than kissing.” She caught Xander’s expression and insisted, “But not anytime soon! I’m just thinking!”
He grinned lewdly. “Whenever you’re thinking you want to, just let me know.” Then he told her, “And not in a subtle ‘only girls will get this message’ way. Bonk me over the head with it.”
“Okay. Head-bonking it is.”
He didn’t like the smug grin all over her face.
But when they snuck in the back way, Buffy was already in there, with a hottie who sounded like she was fresh from Jamaica, mon.
“Who’s the new girl?” he asked.
The girl took one look at him and ducked her head, like he was royalty or something. Weird chick.
Buffy said, “Kendra.”
Giles added, “The Vampire Slayer.”
Vampire Slayer,” Buffy insisted.
Xander teased her, “Oh, I should’ve known. That whole ‘Chosen One
’ deal was just to get attention.” Buffy scrunched up her nose and stuck out her tongue at him.
Willow wondered out loud, “How can there be two Vampire Slayers?” Xander saw that Buffy winced a little.
Giles said, “When Buffy fought the Master down in his cavern…”
“Seems I died a little too much,” Buffy said with fake chipperness. “Presto, instant backup singer.”
“I do not sing,” said Kendra in that cool accent.
“And she doesn’t do metaphors either,” Buffy said. “However, she does try to kill anything that looks funny to her, including me and Angel, so watch your step.”
Kendra defended herself, “He is a vampire, and I thought you must be as well. And why are dey here, talking about your sacred duty? You are not supposed to let anyone else know you are de Vampire Slayer! You are not supposed to have friends!”
Buffy snapped, “Bzzt! Wrong! But thank you for playing our game. Don Pardo, tell her what she’s won!”
Xander jumped right in, with his best ‘hokey announcer’ voice. “Well Alex, she’s won a year’s supply of Rice-a-roni, the San Francisco treat! Aaaaaaand the home version of our game!”
Kendra just stared at the both of them like they had lost their minds.
Buffy tilted her head at Kendra and said, “Council-trained. They only let her out of her little cave to go Slay stuff.”
“I do not live in a cave,” insisted Kendra. “I have a bery nice room in Mister Zabuto’s house. It has a bed and a chair and bookshelves and a bery nice reading light.”
Buffy smirked, “Oh, right, get this guys. Kendra, tell ‘em how you got here.”
“I took de jet. De first flight, I hid in de wheel well, which was more difficult dan I expected. So I hid in de cargo hold of de second jet.”
Willow frowned, “That’s so awful. You could’ve been killed! Or seriously injured, due to hypoxia! Or you could have gotten frostbite in your extremities!”
Kendra turned to look at Giles. “I did not know your doctors could be dis young.”
Xander grinned, “Yup, that’s her. Doogie Howser, M.D.”
“Her name is ‘Doogie’?” Kendra asked in puzzlement.
Giles groaned, “Please ignore Xander. He is using pop cultural references to conceal his abilities.”
Buffy said proudly, “He’s been teaching me more swordsmanship. Although I really think it oughta be ‘swordswomanship’ since I kick his butt most days.”
Giles forced the conversation back to wherever it was before. “A-and it is very fortunate you arrived here, since we have the Order of Taraka to deal with.”
Willow said, “And assassin number two?”
Xander jumped in, “Probably likes number two, if y’know what I mean.”
Willow pretended she hadn’t heard him and said, “He’s a bug man!”
Buffy said, “Xander, what is it with you and bug people?”
He objected, “Hey! He wasn’t a giant bug that looked like a person, he was a person made of
bugs. Creepy, person-eating wormy bugs.”
Giles asked, “You saw him and observed him?”
“Heck no!” Willow said. “We got into Buffy’s house to check on her, and he bushwhacked us and trapped us in there and Xander grabbed me and rushed me down to the basement, and we blocked the cracks around the door with duct tape to hold him out.”
Buffy whined, “Bugs? In my house? Mom’s gonna have a fit when she gets home!”
Giles said, “And yet you must have escaped. Buffy’s home does not have an outside door from the basement. So what did you do?”
Xander grinned, “We checked really carefully after a while and there were bugs on the ceilings waiting to drop on us-”
Buffy whined again, “Bugs on the ceilings? I’m never gonna sleep again!”
“-and Will came up with an anti-bug plan.”
Willow said, “Umm, you know that box of clear plastic thirty-gallon garbage bags in your laundry room? We kinda used about half of the rest of ‘em. And all your duct tape.”
Xander said, “One bag per leg and a little duct tape, and instant hip waders. And then a bag over your head, draping down over your body, and instant raincoat.”
Willow added, “Xander was gonna leave his backpack in your basement, but I made him bring it along.”
Xander said, “So we ran up your stairs and through the house and out the back door, and we dumped all the bags over by that big tree you use to sneak out at night from your bedroom, and we ran for it. Which woulda been easier with no backpacks.”
Kendra just stared at him and Willow. “You… you defeated a Tarakan assassin… wid just duct tape and trash bags? Dat is most resourceful.”
Willow moaned, “But Bug Man is still out there.”
Xander said, “He probably has a better name than that. Like Count Bugula. Or Doctor Worm. Or The Amazing Mister Bug. But Willow just calls him ‘Norman’.”
Willow glared at him. “It’s not my fault he told me his name!”
Giles carefully corrected her, “Or rather, he told you a name.”
“Right,” Willow nodded eagerly. “Because assassins are all with the aliases and evil plans and stuff.”
Giles said, “And we still have no idea where the third assassin may be lurking.”
Xander said, “Okay, the first one was half-demon, and the second one was half-worm, so what’s the third one? Half octopus? Half wolverine?”
“I know!” he grinned. “Dragon Half!”
Buffy groaned at his joke, “You know? I think I’d rather be at the career fair.”
Willow walked along, telling Buffy about Xander being heroic and them kissing. Buffy told Willow more about the ice skating date that wasn’t, and Kendra beating up Angel, and then Buffy having to go ‘chick fight’ on Kendra in Angel’s apartment.
“So still no sign of Angel?” Willow wondered.
Buffy frowned, “Well, Kendra and I kinda showed Willy the error of his ways, and found out he rescued Angel, but only for a payoff from Spike. So we have to figure out what Spike’s up to with the ritual, and stop him. And since it’s a vamp, Kendra’s down with the killing stuff.”
Willow said, “So today’s the law enforcement booth?”
Buffy nodded unhappily. “Yesterday was ‘environmental design’ and Xander picked up those pamphlets for me, and boy was Snyder crabby when he saw me and I had them and the college applications you got for me, and I gave him a big smile and told him I went all through the career fair and I was gonna take the landscaper pamphlets home and show my mom.”
Buffy looked over and said, “Oh hey, don’t look, but that guy is totally checking you out.”
Willow went ahead and looked. “Oh, that’s Oz. He’s just expressing computer nerd solidarity. And it turned out my name wasn’t on the board because Oz and me? We got rushed. To go to work for a really big computer company that I can’t name because I signed stuff, but it’s big
. And Oz ate most of their canapés too.”
Buffy grinned, “Oh, is that why he’s coming way over here? Are you gonna tell him you and Xander are an item again so you’re off limits? Or are you gonna string him along and try to make Xander get all jealous?”
“No!” Willow fussed. “I’m not gonna ‘string him along’. Things are weird enough as it is, and…” She looked around, but Buffy had already slipped away. She muttered under her breath, “Stupid Slayer sneakiness powers.”
Oz walked over, studying the entire room. “Hey, Willow.”
Willow tried to be very suave. “Why Oz, long time no see.”
He grinned shyly. “Umm, I don’t suppose you’ve seen… Well, there’s this one particular girl I’ve been trying to track down. Tall. Long brunette hair, I think.”
“You don’t even know what color her hair is?”
He winced a little. “Umm, I only saw her twice. On Halloween. And she was in costume. As Xena, Warrior Princess. I mean, she really looked like Xena, down to the umm…” His hands rose up toward his chest. “…and the umm…” His hands sort of swept down to indicate his legs.
Willow stared at him in shock.
Xander slipped out of the classroom, and walked off to the career fair. The old ‘note from the librarian’ trick. It never failed. Too bad he couldn’t use it on his parents.
He adjusted his backpack again. Why was it so heavy today? Okay, he’d run eight or ten blocks this morning when he was racing to get to Willow’s, and he sprinted two blocks getting away from Mister Wormy, but still… He put his hand in the big side pocket and winced.
His backpack had a big pocket you could get at from the side that was right behind the padding for your back, because it was designed for getting a laptop in and out easily. But he couldn’t afford a laptop, so usually he just had a couple stakes and a couple small plastic soda bottles of holy water in there. But once he put his hand in there, he realized he hadn’t gotten one of his not-a-chakrams out of there the other day when he’d been practicing. Each one was a twelve inch disk of quarter-inch-thick plate steel, with a seven-inch hole cut out of the dead center so it flew like a frisbee. Like a really heavy frisbee, because it wasn’t tapered at the edges or cut down to something sharp, so the thing weighed nearly six pounds. And if it set off one of Snyder’s metal detectors, how the heck was he going to explain carrying it around?
Maybe he’d better start working on a good fib, because he stunk when it came to the instant fib-generating. Maybe he could tell Herr Fuhrer Snyder that his uncle was teaching him welding and metal-cutting at the auto shop. That was even almost true.
He walked into the career fair room and looked around. He wanted to find Buffy and Willow, then spot Snyder. If he could get Snyder to give him the ‘where is Summers’ routine and then he could point her out to Snyder, that would be great. Maybe Snyder would have to go chug some Pepto-Bismol in pure frustration.
He spotted Willow right away. She was chatting with Daniel Osbourne, the guitarist who didn’t bother to take his finals last year. Devon made lots of noise about what a great musician he was, but everyone said Oz was really the important part of ‘Dingoes Ate My Babies’. Oz played bass and wrote songs and acted as the peacemaker when certain people’s ginormous egos clashed. Xander wondered why Willow looked so weirded out. She’d probably want to tell him later.
Then he spotted the Buffster, reluctantly moving over to the ‘cop shop’. Huh. What kind of law enforcement booth was it anyway? No coffee, no donuts, no police brutality. Just a lady cop in a bad cop outfit with her dyed red hair up in a weird cop bun thing and bangs.
Ah! Snyder ahead. Now was the perfect time to try to get Snyder to ask him about Buffy, because Buffy was exactly where she was supposed to be. He grinned to himself and moved a little to one side, out of the line of students walking back and forth, so he had a little room around himself, so Snyder would spot him as soon as he turned around, and come be cranky.
He pretended he wasn’t keeping tabs on Snyder, and he looked over in Buffy’s direction. The cop picked up a clipboard and snapped, “All right. Listen up, and answer when I call your name. Buffy-”
A voice in his head that was unquestionably Xena said, “Hey, Summers starts with ‘S’. Why’s she starting the list with Buffy?”
“-Summers.” Buffy raised her hand, and Cop Redhead put the clipboard down.
Cop Redhead wasn’t wearing a Sunnydale Police Department shirt, either. Wrong logo on the sleeve.
Xander suddenly felt like a big, icy hand had reached into his chest and squeezed his heart. It all made sense.
And there was nothing he could do to stop Cop Redhead from putting a clipful of lead in Buffy.