Bewitched, part VI
A/N: Disclaimer, author’s notes, etc., are at the beginning of chapter 1; spoilers are through “Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered”.
Xander’s first thought was something like ‘OH CRAP!’ Given that it was The Slayer and she wanted to kill him, his thought was probably more like ‘AAAAAAAGH!’ What he actually said was “Great googly mooglies!”
Larry said, “What the hell is wrong with you, Summers?”
Miss Calendar said, “Now Buffy…”
And at the same time, Willow stepped in front of him with outstretched arms and said, “No! It’s Xander! Okay, it’s not my Xander, and I don’t like Halloween-spell Xander, but it’s Xander! And he got hit with a spell!”
Buffy growled, “Will, it’s a demon. It’s controlling your brain. Remember the bezoars?”
Willow insisted, “No way! I’m totally not with the brain-controlling-ness, and you’re the one with the spell on you!”
Xander tried, “Buff, remember Halloween? Remember who I turned into?”
Buffy ignored him. She looked at Miss Calendar and Willow, and demanded, “What’s wrong with you two? You should be totally with the wiggins, and you’re just standing there! In my way! I need to stab it. Or punch it a hundred times. Or do the punchy-stabby-punchy thing. Or maybe cut its head off. Or maybe chop it to pieces, then burn all the pieces. I can feel
I need to kill it, and you’re all ‘lah-di-dah we love monsters that look like skanky brunettes in the same dress Mandy was wearing today but way tighter’. You guys are totally of the brain control-y… victim… thing.”
Oh great, so he had the dress of one of the less friendly cheerleaders. He was utterly doomed.
Xander knew that as soon as Buffy had a clear shot at him, she was going to take it. And as soon as she hit him, he would be the late Xander Harris. Or maybe the late Xena The Not-a-Harris. Because Buffy could hit hard enough to knock a vampire twice her weight a dozen feet backward. That would turn his ribcage into chipped beef. Hold the toast.
But his Willow was protecting him. The girl who was the most upset about the Xena-ness deal was putting herself on the line for him. He really wanted to kiss her for it, even though she’d freak if a busty brunette laid one on her. That, and if he kissed Willow, it would give Buffy the opening she was waiting for. Not that Buffy wasn’t already angling for a way to attack Xander without risking Willow getting hurt.
Larry spotted that part, and slugged Buffy right in the side of the head. Hard enough that Xander winced.
Buffy didn’t even fall over. She just turned and glared at Larry like she was going to tear his lungs out of his chest with her bare hands. “You. Are. So. Dea-”Thunk!
Buffy’s eyes actually did the tweeting-birds-around-the-head thing, and then she keeled over. Which left Miss Calendar standing behind her with a mace.
Larry gasped, “You hit her with a… a… thing? Are you crazy?”
Willow ran over and checked the back of Buffy’s head. “No smashing. Just a little blood in her hair that she’s totally gonna be cheesed off about. And the bruising.”
Larry wondered, “I know Summers is like a brick, but… she’s not like in a coma? Or dead?”
Xander said, “Nope, and when she wakes up she’ll be fine. With a huge headache and really grouchy, but fine.”
Willow said, “Because the blood? In the hairstyle? She just got her hair done like the other day.”
Larry frowned, “How can you be worrying about hairdos when she just got hit in the head with a big chunk of steel?”
“Big chunk of iron,” Willow automatically corrected. “It’s a medieval mace.”
Larry replied, “And how do you know that? And why is there an ancient mace in the library?”
Xander tried, “Someone told Giles he needed to buy some mace and he didn’t understand what they meant?”
Willow gave it a shot, too. “Oh, those wacky British-type people who don’t understand us Americans…”
Miss Calendar suggested, “Maybe he has it around as a paperweight.”
Xander said, “Just help us pick her up and put her in the book cage.”
Okay, picking Buffy up and sticking her in the book cage was really easy. She only weighed about a hundred pounds. Larry didn’t have any trouble scooping her up and carrying her all by himself. Miss Calendar locked the book cage once they had Buffy in it, but that wasn’t very helpful, since as soon as Buffy woke up, she was going to bust that lock apart with one Slayer-powered kick. Xander was blaming Giles, since it was totally his fault that Miss Calendar knew where he hid the keys to the thing.
Miss Calendar said, “Now let’s move down to my classroom. We can hide you in there and see what we can learn about the spell at the same time. If this is some manner of love spell, we may have a problem. Love spells are incredibly dangerous.”
Willow squeaked with a little embarrassment. “Umm, I didn’t know that.”
Xander wasn’t sure he wanted to know what that meant.
Miss Calendar added, “People under that type of compulsion spell lose all rational thought about the subject of the spell. They can become dangerous. Lethal.”
Larry frowned, “Why do you keep talking about this like it’s magic?”
Willow said, “It’s… umm… scientific jargon! Just pretend we’re saying ‘magic’ instead of… umm… inter-dimensional transduction and intrinsic cohesion of quantum mechanical particles through modifications of the strong nuclear force.”
Larry winced. “Uhh… right. Magic. Rosenberg, what are you still doing in high school?”
“Well, the really top-notch schools don’t like it when you have a GED instead of a real diploma, and there’s nothing wrong with high school courses if you do extra reading on your own, and I do some college courses on-line too so I won’t have to take the boring intro classes when I go to college, plus-”
Xander said, “Willow, I don’t think he was seriously asking that.”
“Oh. Right. Well, I need to improve my socialization too, buster, and maybe learn how to spot rhetorical questions before I embarrass myself in front of Stephen Hawking or Jane Goodall,” she added.
Xander pushed, “Can we get a move on, and by that, I mean get way away from here? Like maybe Oxnard? Because as soon as Buffy comes to, she’s gonna bust out of there and turn back into a me-seeking missile, which is so not going to be of the good.”
Miss Calendar walked to the library doors and started to step out, but she froze. She stepped back in and said, “We have a mob coming this way. About thirty angry girls.” She swallowed, “Maybe half of them have weapons.”
Xander said, “Okay, just stall ‘em for a few seconds. Don’t do anything risky. We’re ducking out the back way.” He led Willow and Larry through the stacks, to the windows at the rear of the library, and out through his favorite secret entrance.
Larry asked, “Is this window always like this?”
Xander said, “Yeah.” He slid it closed. He’d spent enough time working on it that it opened and closed with almost no sound. “Xander Harris uses it when he’s running late to school, since the principal is out to get him.”
Larry frowned in thought. “I never got that. Didn’t Harris save the little freak’s neck?”
Xander looked at Willow, who supplied, “Umm, not really, he sorta took advantage of the sitch to knock Principal Snyder down and flatten him, and Snyder’s still with the cheesing off about it.”
Larry grinned, “Good for Harris.”
Willow led them away from the school. Xander murmured, “Can we find me something to wear? Maybe a baggy t-shirt and some shorts and some sneaks? Or a tent?”
They passed a couple guys walking down the street, and both guys turned to ogle him. “Yeah, a tent would be totally good right now.” He stepped on some gravel. “Ouch! And some shoes.”
“So why are you dressed like that?” Larry wondered.
“Because I was naked in the locker room showers when all this hit, and I couldn’t get to my clothes,” Xander scowled.
“Eww,” Willow groaned, as she thought about exactly what Xander was implying. “That would be of the bad.”
“You have no idea,” he complained.
“And totally glad of it,” she agreed.
Larry abruptly said, “In here.” He pushed the two of them into a store.
Xander looked around. It looked like a clothing store, except the clothes tended toward the ultra-flashy. “Where are we?”
“Todd’s Togs,” Larry said.
Whoa! “Isn’t that the…” Xander tailed off, because people said Todd’s Togs was the store where the gay guys shopped before they went out and partied in L.A. or whatever. And Larry was out of the closet now.
Willow cringed, “But if we’re in here aren’t people gonna think maybe we’re shopping here, and if we’re shopping here then maybe we’re, well, I don’t wanna say it, because you’re being really way more helpful than you ever were before, and we’re really in a ton of trouble, and I don’t know what to do, and I hope Miss Calendar doesn’t get hurt because that would be really bad and she was showing me some really useful websites, and-”
“Can I help you?” A guy popped up from behind a rack of glittery shirts.
“Eep!” Willow squeaked.
Larry said, “Hey Carlo, we got a small problem. Can the girls hide out in the back of the store until closing time?”
Carlo asked cautiously, “This isn’t a cop problem, is it? Because we get enough hassle as it is.”
“Not a cop problem,” Larry said confidently.
Xander said, “It really isn’t. It’s… only a problem with an angry mob with torches and pitchforks.”
Carlo laughed, because he assumed Xander was making a funny. He just looked at Xander, and at Willow, and the way they were standing together. And he gave them a lewd smile. “Ooh, it’s like that, huh? Well, for a couple sisters, I’ll make an exception. Just don’t tell Toddy.”
Larry rolled his eyes. “Todd’s such a drama queen.”
Carlo shrugged and grinned. “Some days more drama, some days more queen.”
As Larry started to walk out of the shop, Xander said, “Hey Larry, thanks. Thanks a heap. And be careful out there. If they think you might know where I went, they may not be too rational about things.”
Larry grinned, “No problemo. I’m good at the dumb and surly routine.” And he walked out the front doors.
Carlo scooted Xander and Willow through a door almost hidden behind a rack of long scarves. They were in a back room that was mostly tables and shelves buried under more wares. There was a small fridge with a piece of formica on top of it, and folding chairs on either side of it. Xander could see from the ashtray and the soda cans and the empty water bottles that this tiny area was the ‘break room’.
Carlo said, “Make yourselves at home. Wet hair and no undies and no shoes? You got jumped in the showers? Honey, I know the feeling. See that big plastic bin?” He pointed at an old plastic container the size of a writing desk that was half full with wadded-up clothes. “That’s all seconds and damaged and toss. You can take anything out of there and you don’t have to pay us.”
“Thanks,” Xander said.
Carlo gave the two of them a wink and smiled, “Sure thing.” Then he went back to the store area.
Willow asked uncomfortably, “Did he think we’re… a couple? A lesbian twosome on the run from mean girls at the school? Because I don’t wanna be a lesbian twosome!”
Xander sighed, “Will, we’re not a lesbian twosome. I’m not a girl, and you’re not into girls. That pretty much rules out ‘lesbian’ and ‘twosome’ right there. Okay?”
But Willow looked really uncomfortable. She timidly asked, “Am I really a lesbian? In super, super denial? Because the only people not doing the magical freakiness over you are all gay. And I really don’t wanna be gay, I wanna be a nice, normal Jewish girl who likes a nice, normal boy even if he isn’t Jewish but he’s cute and kind and brave, and it really freaks me out when you’re a girl!”
It looked like Willow was about two thoughts away from bursting into tears. He really wanted to give Willow a big hug, but he figured she’d freak even more if a girl with big hooters hugged her right now. He reminded her, “You’re forgetting something you already figured out. Gay people… and powerful witches. Miss Calendar wasn’t affected either.”
Willow brightened. “Ooh! And Amy! Maybe Amy’s okay, and we can go to her house and hide out there!”
Xander said, “And if she isn’t okay? Or if her dad’s there and he’s all creepy pedo on me?”
“Eww,” Willow agreed. “That would be of the bad.” She pursed her lips and said, “Maybe if we can figure out the entire timeline, we can figure out when and where this spell came from.”
They sat down in the folding chairs, and Xander told her everything, starting with feeling the spell and finding himself naked and female in the boys’ showers.
Willow thought it through while Xander rooted through the bin of seconds. She finally said, “You know? I don’t think this was a love spell or even a compulsion spell.”
Xander came up with a huge, ugly, glittery yellow shirt and an oversized pair of black satin pants. He checked, “What makes you say that, oh great font of magical knowledge?”
She thought it through. “The thing with Buffy. She knew
you were there. She felt a pull like you were a demon, and she was able to follow it. Has Buffy ever been able to spot a vamp or a demon?”
“That would be big with the ‘no’ there, Willster.” After all, she hung with Angel for… what, a couple months before she found out he was a vamp totally by accident?
She perked up. “It’s not a love spell, it’s a hunting
spell! Someone used a spell to try and seek you, and it went haywire!”
Xander complained, “Well, if they were looking for me, they’ve got the wrong body.”
“Ooh, ooh, that’s it!” Willow squeaked. “They weren’t looking for Xander. They were looking for Xena! And the spell partly worked, because you turned into a high school version of Xena!”
Xander growled, “Who would be jerky enough to be looking for Xena, anyway? Spike?”
Willow pointed out, “He wouldn’t be thinking ‘high school hottie’, though. He’d be…” She slapped her forehead. “Oh no, it’s Oz!”
Xander slapped himself on the forehead too. “Doh!” He had probably jinxed himself last night when he was thinking that he could live with it if the worst thing that happened was Oz still being cheesed off at him.
Willow gasped, “Uh-oh, Oz isn’t a witch. He couldn’t do a spell like this, or even know how to find a spell like this, unless he got into Amy’s stuff. Or… he got Amy to do the spell for him.”
“Why would Amy… Oh. Right.” Xander could see Amy doing it if Oz threatened to tell someone like Jenny Calendar about the mind control spell she did just to get out of homework. But blackmailing a witch seemed like a really dumb thing to do. Especially a witch who had some really creepy magic books in her house. What if she just turned Oz into a wolf and never turned him back?
Xander pulled on the way-too-big pants and rolled up the cuffs and used a torn scarf for a belt. Then he pulled the ugly yellow shirt on over the minidress. He would have liked to add a big black veil, but the store didn’t carry stuff like that.
When the store closed, about half an hour before dusk, Xander and Willow snuck out the back and headed for his house. Xander wanted to head for her house, but Willow was pretty convincing. No one except Willow and Miss Calendar knew the ‘mystery girl’ was Xander, so if Buffy went hunting, she was likely to try Miss Calendar’s apartment or Willow’s house, but not Xander’s place. Still, Xander was really worried about what his mom might do if she saw Xander and had the ‘I hate you’ side effect. Or even worse, if his dad saw him and then had the ‘I love you’ side effect. Eww, with a side order of gaahh!
So Xander ducked into the garage at the end of the driveway, while Willow walked across the unmowed lawn and went to the house to get Xander some shoes and pants and a shirt or two. He was still rooting for a pup tent, but Willow thought that was silly.
The Harris family garage was its usual crappy self. His mom’s car was on the driveway, because his dad and his uncle Rory had a transmission in pieces all over the floor. Tools and junk and a huge collection of empty liquor bottles cluttered up the place. He was being really careful where he walked, because he didn’t want to step on a nail while he was barefoot.
He spotted a pair of Wellington boots that were shoved in the corner. They were rubber boots you could wear to garden in during wet seasons. They didn’t get any use in a place like Sunnydale. He emptied out some dustbunnies and spiderwebs, and he put them on. A bit big for his currently-female feet, but way better than nothing.
Then he looked around for anything else that might be a help. He stepped toward the darker back half of the garage and flipped the light switch. It didn’t go on. He flipped the switch half a dozen times, and still nothing.
Hands with the strength of steel grabbed his shoulders from behind him. A voice he had hoped never to hear again purred insanely, “The kitten has been very naughty, and he made everything go wrong, and she needs a pink collar now. Miss Edith says the stars want me to feed you to the doggies.”