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A Kiss and a Loop

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This story is No. 3 in the series "WKX". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: Okay, so maybe kissing him wasn't the best idea ever... Third story in WKX series

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Multiple Crossings > Xander-CenteredAnimeRoninFR18514,53714816,52428 Dec 1210 Mar 14Yes

Chapter One

A Kiss and a Loop: WKX 3

Author: Anime Ronin

Rating: M for adult themes

Summary: Okay, so maybe kissing him wasn’t her best idea ever. Story 3 of the WKX series.

Disclaimer: I own nothing and am making no money off of this, so don’t sue.

AN: Quite obviously this is story three. As pointed out, there has been a decided lack of Willow so I’m going to see what I can do about that. More insanity to come.

1

(Sunnydale Mall, Food Court)

A young woman in her late teens, dressed in a pair of hip-hugging jeans, hiking boots and a halter top looked around at the people in the food court, smells and sounds assaulting her senses. Her dark hair was currently cut short and had a few blonde highlights in it due to a lost bet with her girlfriend, her eyes, darker than her hair, seemed both relaxed and on guard at the same time, but her lips were in a twisted snarl of total disgust as she spat, “You know, I’m getting sick of this shit, Xan.”

A young man in his late teens, dressed in a pair of loose, comfortable cargo pants, sneakers and a long-sleeved open over shirt over a simple t-shirt smiled a little at this, his eyes also roving the area. His dark hair was long enough to fall into his eyes, masking said movement, and his entire body was relaxed in a way that only a trained soldier could pull off. His lips, though, were twisted into a half-smile/half-smirk that told everyone that he was entirely amused with the predicament of his companion. “You’ve said that before, Kennedy.”

The young woman, Kennedy Ford, glared at her friend, “I mean, how many times am I going to have to relive going through puberty, Xander?”

Alexander ‘Xander’ Harris laughed, “As many as it takes?”

Everyone within earshot ignored the sound of flesh smacking flesh.

“You know, if you keep that up, one day I’m going to start taking that personally,” Xander mused as he sipped his mocha. It wasn’t the same as some of the teas he had come to enjoy in Konoha or at Hogwarts, but it was better than the crap that he’d been drinking on PX-4893 of late. “And don’t tell me about me not having the balls to do anything about it, either. I’ve got balls for days now after being a god.”

“A _false_ god,” Kennedy sniped back, clearly upset. “At least you didn’t have to go through the indignity of being part magical girl and part super sentai.”

“True,” he allowed. “I’d look horrible in spandex,” he added with a side-long glance meant to irritate his female companion.

It worked. “It. Wasn’t. Spandex!” Kennedy snarled, getting into Xander’s face and poking him in the chest with each word.

He couldn’t help it; he leaned in and kissed her. He’d done the act a few dozen times over the thirty or so years that they had spent together, both in Konoha and in Scotland, and nothing had ever come of it. Still, hope would spring eternal…

Kennedy kissed him back but without too much emotion behind it. She loved him, yes, loved him more and more every day… but it wasn’t that kind of love. They’d been apart for a long time, spanning a few different worlds each and a bunch of aborted attempts when the worlds that they ‘woke up’ in collapsed not long after. She… she’d missed him, a lot. “I missed you.”

“Missed you, too,” he whispered back, giving her another kiss before making his move.

It nearly cost him his hand as a kunai buried itself between his fingers, keeping him away from her chocolate raspberry muffin. It wasn’t made of Suna steel, not like her favorite weapons had been, but the weapons were as deadly as she was. “Don’t,” she warned him.

“But it so _fun_!” He grinned like a loon as their foreheads pressed together, a grin tugging at her lips.

“True,” she mused, taking the blade out of the tabletop and secreting it away in her clothes. “Do you think that this is someone’s attempt to get us together? The whole ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’ thing?”

“I don’t know. Is it working?”

“Well, while I wouldn’t mind you taking me off into those changing rooms over there and making me your woman like you did that one time in Suna, I think the people at the GAP might… and so would the blonde I saw you move in with.” Her tone was almost hopeful but also held an accusatory tone that anyone but him would have missed. The time in Suna had been a mutual agreement to lose their virginity to someone they both cared about and an attempt to get back home. Sadly… well, the act had been fun, in fact it’d been _fantastic_ for what it had been, but the reality was that they hadn’t been doing it for the right reasons at all.

“Tara and I grew up together in this world, Kennedy. She and I… we’re as close as Willow and I ever were. Maybe closer,” he allowed, thinking of his best friend, confidant and as true of a sister as he’d ever had in the past.

Kennedy grimaced, remembering the stories (the many stories) she’d heard about the blonde woman that had been taken too soon. There had been a few replacement issues that had sprung from those stories, yes, but she’d never really doubted the feelings that Willow had had for her… ‘Right up until the end with that bitch.’ “Does she know?”

Xander chuckled and nodded, bringing his mocha up for a sip, “Yeah, she knows. She thinks it’s a little strange but she knows I’m an old soul and that I’m searching for my other half.”

Kennedy’s heart fluttered for a second and she smiled, leaning over and giving Xander a quick kiss on his cheek. “You make it sound so romantic. Is this your way of proposing to me?”

“And run the risk of upsetting Willow and your mother? I’m slow, Ken Doll, not suicidal. As for the awkwardness that tends to come with telling, Tara doesn’t ask too many questions when I do something odd and know things I shouldn’t. Honestly, she’s a Godsend.”

Kennedy nodded and began to nibble at her muffin, keeping it well out of Xander’s reach, “So you can totally geek out and she doesn’t raise an eyebrow?”

“Oh she does, but she understands and sometimes joins in. Last year, for example, she went as Princess Leia for Halloween, buns and all.”

Kennedy growled a little as he pulled out a photo and showed her the pair of them together, Tara in the white outfit and him dressed as Han Solo. “Solo? I figured you for Skywalker.”

“Sorry, too incestuous for my tastes. Besides,” he said with a smirk, taking the photo back, “Han’s cool.”

“Lando’s cool. Luke’s cool. Han’s a jackass.” It was the continuation of a very old argument that they had had off and on over the past few decades. They both summarily ignored the fact that the prequels had ever happened and based their geekdom off of the original three movies, but she was of the mind that Han was a jerkass and both Leia and Luke were meant to be together.

Xander shook his head, “Han was cool enough for me to go as him. Besides, who in their right mind would give up the opportunity to say that, yeah, I own and fly the Millennium Falcon?”

Kennedy paused for a second and then conceded the point before she looked around, feeling a pair of eyes on her, “Point. So, who is here?”

“Not sure. Felt them a few minutes ago,” Xander said, covering his words with his nearly-empty mocha.

“Together again.”

Xander’s internal geekery meter peaked out as he nodded, “Wouldn’t miss it for the world, Kennedy. How are we doing, though?”

“About the same as usual,” she allowed, passing him a few sheets of notebook paper.

“That bad, huh?” he said, taking the sheets as he stood up, feeling the weight of his concealed weaponry hang under his clothes.

“Not as bad as you smooching Sam Carter and not getting in a grope.” Kennedy griped.

“Excuse me for _dying_,” Xander snarked back. Honestly, yeah, he’d loved to have gotten his hands on that hot, brainy blonde and spend hours doing _wonderfully_ naughty things to her, but the Goa’uld had done a lot of damage on its way out and both his time and options had been limited. “Don’t hate the player, hate the game, Kennedy.”

“What if I _hit_ the player?” she offered sweetly as they started to walk off.

“You can, just remember that I can and will hit back,” he warned her. “And I am _still_ the Tickle Master Supreme.”

She snorted as they made their way over to the GAP, shaking her head, “You’re delusional. I only let you think that.”

“You’re challenging me?” he asked with a grin that she knew meant trouble and that he didn’t care if they were in public.



On the upper tier of the mall’s food court, a figure looked down and smirked, hidden by magics that were beyond the mortal ken. Yes, finally, all of the pieces were in place. With any luck, they would fulfill the wish and go home…

‘But not before I’ve had my fun, of course.’



(Ridgeside Apartments, #213)

“So what’s her name?” At the blank look in reply Tara sighed and shook her head, laying down on the couch with him, “Don’t give me that look, buster. I know that spring in your step. You met a girl today and you two hit it off. What’s her name and what does she rate?”

Xander rolled his eyes. Why did he always attract the strange ones? Aside from Faith and Kennedy, what other woman would have asked him what another woman rated? “Her name’s Kennedy and… I’ll give her a solid eight.”

“An eight?” Tara asked, smiling as she laid her head into his lap, “Wow, she must have been something. Another blonde?”

“You know you’re the only blonde in my life right now, Tara. Most certainly the only ten,” he went on, petting the top of her head slightly.

Tara laughed at this and sat up, scooting over and resting into his side. She’d picked up on the new girl not only by the bounce in his step but also by the scent; it smelled of strawberries and mango while she, as he’d told her, smelled of herbal soaps and lilacs. “What? No jokes about my blonde needing occasional maintenance?”

“Well, I would but the last time I said that, you turned me into a salamander.”

“That was an accident!” Tara exclaimed, sounding indignant and offended. And it had very much been an accident. She’d been trying for a frog. It had been after that accident and the trouble getting him back into human form that she’d started taking her magic more seriously, specifically the safety. She didn’t do things just because she could, not anymore; she took a more measured approach. Not timid, she hadn’t been ‘timid’ since about a month after she’d met Xander in kindergarten, but a slower approach. Like he’d once said, he was more scared of a man who had practiced one technique ten thousand times more than he was of a man who had practiced ten thousand techniques only once.

“So you keep saying, Princess.”

“Are you going to sleep with her? Or have you already done that?”

“In the mall? Seriously? Do you think that little of me?”

“What about that waitress in Roswell? In the bathroom?” She smirked as his cheeks lit up, nodding, “Yeah, I heard that. So did everyone else in the diner.”

“Need I remind _you_ of that cop in Reno?” Xander shot back.

“Hey, I’m not complaining. Besides, Lily offered the chance for you to join in.” Tara reminded him, her own cheeks flaming as she recalled Xander walking into their motel room and finding her handcuffed to the headboard. She’d learned early on that she was attracted to girls and had told Xander, fearing he would make fun of her. She’d been surprised when he had taken it in stride and only joked once if he could watch. It was then that she knew that she loved him; platonic love, yes, but loved none the less.

“And I almost took her up on it, remember?”

“Oh, I certainly do,” Tara muttered, her mind going to all kinds of naughty places that caused her to squirm a little. Damn it, he knew that this would happen! “Um, can we talk about something else right now? Please?”

“Why? Getting turned on?” he joked.

“A little,” she admitted, “but I want to know about this new girl. When do I get to threaten her?”



AN: Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Xander’s corrupted Tara. She’s more confident in who she is, in her sexuality, in her magic, everything. Some might say she might as well be an OC. Well, if that makes you feel better…

And now back to our regularly scheduled fic.



“Have I ever told you how much I loved you, Tara?”

Tara smiled up and pressed herself into him a little more, luxuriating in the warmth a bit more as he slid an arm around her and kissed her on top of her head, “Hmmm, yes, you have, but don’t let it stop you from telling me again and again, Xander. A girl needs to feel wanted and appreciated, you know.”

“You know I want and appreciate you, Tare. Where would I be without you?”

“Probably in trouble. A lot of trouble. Heaps and mounds of trouble,” she deadpanned.

“Your faith in my ability to get myself out of trouble is terribly reassuring, Tara. I mean, really, it is.”

“Xander, I trust you to do a lot of things and most of them are good, but sometimes I swear you need a full-time babysitter.”

“Isn’t that what you’re for?” Xander asked with a verbal jab and a physical nudge.

She didn’t rise to the bait and stayed where she was. He was comfortable and she was warm; it was a good combination. Finally, though, she got up enough nerve to ask a question that she had wanted to ask since he’d told her about the girl he’d met. “Is it her? The one you travel with?”

He didn’t remember how or when she’d figured it out but at some point in their sixth grade year Tara had figured out enough that she’d asked him about it. He’d tried to play it off as nothing at first, a string of bad luck / hard luck stories that didn’t bother him, but after a few days he’d thought about it and had finally told her the entire story. All of it. The whole proverbial enchilada, from soup to nuts. Truthfully he’d been shocked when she took it as well as she had, remembering how Jesse, Buffy and the others had taken it. “Yeah, it’s her. And if you think for a second that I’m leaving you for her, you’ve lost your mind, Tara. I’ve got too much work into you to just let you go.”

“I think you’ve got that backwards, Xander. I’m the one with a lot of work into _you_. Who was it that helped you figure out what you were doing wrong in your math classes?” Tara challenged back, though he could hear something in her tone that he couldn’t quite place. Damn it, he was losing his much-cherished ability to read and translate human emotion, particularly females. “So,” she said suddenly, pushing away from him and making towards the kitchen, “when do I get to meet her?”

“Well, there is that Halloween frat party tonight. Have you picked out a costume?”

“I have two but I don’t know which one I want to wear just yet. What about you? Please tell me that you’re not going with your soldier costume.”

“What’s wrong with it? It’s a classic!” Was this how Willow felt when he and Buffy went at her about the ghost costume?

Tara gave him a look and he sighed, slumping a little. There was a distinct drawback to her having opened up and flowered socially as she had; it had been only a few months before she’d been murdered that she’d been able to pull that look off and make it stick. In a way he’d missed it but it also told him that his ‘easy victories’ were over. “Fine. I’ve got an idea for another costume but you’ll have to cover for me if it goes pear-shaped.”

“When haven’t I covered for you?” she challenged him, rummaging through their pantry before she came up with a box of mac and cheese.

“Three years ago comes to mind immediately.”

“You were dressed as Han Solo and I was dressed as Leia. How could I _NOT_ cover for you?” she shot back immediately.

“I was Han Solo, charming rogue that’d come to get you out of the Death Star with Luke until Mrs. Perkins’ irrigation sprinklers ‘malfunctioned’ and turned me into ‘Han Solo, soaking wet from the Carbonite’, remember? How did that mesh with you with your hair up in buns and the white robe?”

“Would you have preferred me to be in my Slave Leia outfit?” she asked, her voice becoming sultry and her eyes glittering with passion and intrigue and naughtiness.

It was cheating and he knew it but he was entirely unable to block the image of Tara in her Slave Leia outfit from his mind. Granted, she had been just a touch pale to pull it off entirely, and then there had been the freckles, but… but…

Tara laughed as she watched Xander’s mind lock up, her mind suddenly made up. She _had_ been intending to go as 70’s Power Girl that night but now she had another plan entirely. She’d been saving this costume for a very special occasion… ‘He’s right. Being evil _is_ fun.’



(UC Sunnydale)

“So, who is he?”

“What makes you think it’s a he, Buffy?”

“Come on, Kennedy, this is _me_. Don’t you think I can’t tell when you’re kinda enthused about a guy?”

“Considering that I can count the number of guys on one hand that I’ve ever been ‘enthused’ about, Buffy?” Kennedy shot back as Buffy worked on her hair. She had chosen to go as Slave Girl Leia that year long before she’d known that Xander had found her and was coming to Sunnydale, mostly for the thrill of the costume but also to tease Willow. ‘Alright, so maybe I’m a closet exhibitionist, too. Who knew so many things could be in a closet?’

“Precisely. So what’s his name?”

“…Xander.”

“Xander?”

“Alexander. He said a friend couldn’t say his name as a kid and she could only say ‘Xander’, so it stuck.”

“Is he cute?”

“Why? Interested in guys again?” Kennedy teased Buffy. Buffy had gone on a ‘man-less’ binge of late, to which Kennedy had teased her about that leaving only half of the gene pool, but after the whole Angel debacle and the drama that had come with it, she didn’t begrudge the Slayer one bit.

“No!”

“Say that a little more convincingly, will you?”

Buffy growled and pulled a little tighter on Kennedy’s hair as she braided it, “I’m not interested, okay? I’m happy being of the unhitched kind.”

“Right,” Kennedy said, sounding entirely unconvinced. “We met at the mall today and… it’s like we knew each other forever already.”

“Hmmm,” Buffy hummed. “Are you sure you two weren’t separated at birth?”

“If we were, my mother has a great deal to explain. He’s taller than all of us, dark hair that’s a little too long for my liking, dark eyes, snarky and his ears stick out like flaps,” Kennedy went on. “We just… fit.”

“And what would Willow think about him?”

“I’m not sure but I doubt she’d be into threesomes.” Kennedy smirked a little as she heard Buffy squeak and could feel the blush from Little Red Riding Hood. Yep, she still had it. “Seriously, though, I think they might be able to get along. With time. Maybe. Besides, she’s with Oz right now.”

It was a bit of a sore subject between the group; during their senior year, Willow and Kennedy had been an on-off item but, over the summer, Willow had gone ‘guy only’ and had hooked back up with Oz. It had been crushing to Kennedy, of course, and Buffy hadn’t been overly happy with her best girlfriend over the way she’d done it (over the phone), but the pair were at least talking again, so that was a good thing, right? “Yeah, she is. Do you know what he’s going as?”

“No, but knowing him it’ll involve as little effort as possible. Boys can be lazy like that.”

“True,” Buffy allowed. “So what’s this Xander going as?”

“Given his geekery? God only knows. I’m more interested in what his friend is going as. From what I understand, she’s hot.”

“You know him well enough to know his geekery? Are you two sure _all_ you did was talk?” Buffy teased.

“Alright, you got me, Buffy. We went into the GAP and made out like fifteen year olds. Then he started to do this thing with his tongue…”

“SO not what I wanted to hear!” Buffy yelped, causing Kennedy to cackle. “God, Ken, you’re warped.”

“And proud of it. Besides, who are you to call me warped, Buffy? You’re not exactly miss straight and narrow, you know.”

“I am so!”

“You set fire to your gym.”

“Extenuating circumstances and you know it!”

“The whole ‘romance with a vampire’ thing. Oh, and please don’t get me started on when you took Home Ec last year and nearly killed Jesse with those cookies,” Kennedy tossed in, remembering how very sick Jesse had been and how very _PISSED_ Cordelia, Jesse’s girlfriend, had been at Buffy. Pissed enough, she recalled, to try shoving the cookies down Buffy’s throat. It had been a very amusing thing to watch.

“Hey, the eggs were at fault. It’s not my fault Jesse’s immune system couldn’t handle a little salmonella.” Buffy was, as always, a bit defensive over it. She hated hurting her friends and this time Slaying had had nothing to do with it.

“Right,” Kennedy deadpanned as the door to their shared room opened and Willow clanked in. Dressed head to toe in thin metal armor, she looked adorable. Oz walked in behind her and Kennedy was proven right; on his shirt was one of those stickers that said ‘Hello. I’m ______’ and in black marker he’d put ‘GOD’. “I so should have made a bet on this. See, Buffy? Lazy.”

“It’s not lazy, Kennedy. Joan of Arc always has God at her side,” Willow defended the musician-cum-werewolf. Oz was a very difficult person to not like on some level but somehow Kennedy had managed it, something that worried Willow to no end. Why didn’t she like him? Was she prejudiced against werewolves?

“Tch, troublesome,” Kennedy muttered mostly out of habit. It was something she’d picked up in Konoha when she and Xander had both been assigned to the Intelligence Division under Nara Kensuke, Elite Jounin and lay about par excellence. It only showed up when she was irritated, though, so most of the time she kept a lid on it.

Oz arched an eyebrow at her but shrugged, not fazed at all by her irritation. The opinions of others did not matter much to him, not often, and Kennedy’s irritation didn’t mean much to him. His opinion of himself mattered the most, though of late Willow’s opinion had come into play more and more often. Hyper-cognizant of how quickly things could go sideways, Oz decided to offer up his view of the current situation, “Nice costumes.”

“Thanks. So, are we ready to go?” Buffy asked as she finished Kennedy’s hair.

“Yep!” Willow chirped with a little hop and a rattle. “So where are we going?”

“We have to stop by an apartment complex first and pick up Kennedy’s new friend and his friend. She’s being all mysterious about him.”

“O… oh?” Willow asked with only a little hitch. “Mysterious good or mysterious not so good?”

“The jury’s still out on that. Be advised, though, she says he’s strange,” Buffy said with a slight smile.

“Xander excels at the strange, Buffy. As he likes to say, normal is overrated.” Kennedy stood and stretched, drawing a long look from Willow, but then grabbed a light, semi-transparent robe. She wasn’t going to give just _anyone_ a free show…

(UC Sunnydale)

Willow Rosenberg’s first impression of the young man in question was that she felt she should have known him. Maybe they did in a past life? Or maybe he just reminded her so much of Jesse that it was kind of alarming. Still, Jesse had his limits.

‘But he would be worshiping a beautiful woman like Marilyn Monroe like that.’

Dressed in a pair of jeans, boots, a white t-shirt with a flannel over-shirt, Alexander ‘Xander’ Harris, as Kennedy had introduced him, bowed in a very Wayne’s World manner, chanting, “I’m not worthy! I’m not worthy!”

‘Marilyn’ laughed at this and put her hands on the hips of her iconic white dressed, her eyes glittering, “No, you’re not, but I’ll allow you to bask in my presence none the less. Seriously, Xander, stand up. Th-this is a little embarrassing.”

“Only a little? I must be off of my game, ‘Marilyn’. I must try harder!” the young man proclaimed, causing Willow to giggle. The noise caused him to turn around and he blinked, smiling a crooked half-smile that seemed too natural on his face, “Why, hello. Who might you all be? If I’d known that we were going to be having an audience, I’d have hammed it up a little more.”

“Hi, Xander,” Kennedy said, taking the lead and letting her nearly sheer robe fall open just a bit. “These are my friends. Little Red Riding Hood over there is Buffy, Joan of Arc is Willow, the god next to her is named Oz.”

“Um… hi,” Xander said, his eyes still on Kennedy. “Ah, wow. I, um, nice to meet you all.”

This caused ‘Marilyn’ to laugh a little and nod, looking at a phantom watch on her wrist, “Seven seconds. Not bad. Normally you can’t get him to shut up for more than three. I set my personal best tonight at thirty,” she added in with a smile.

“Pleased to meet you,” Willow said with a smile and a handshake. “Um, who is he going as?”

“Jesus, apparently,” Oz said with a nod to the flannel shirt. Much like Oz had, Xander had worn a name tag. “Great minds must think alike.”

“Xander? A great mind? More like ‘lazy’,” ‘Marilyn’ said with a laugh that Kennedy joined in. “Normally he puts more thought into it. Last year he went as Han Solo and the year before that he went as a wizard, robes, wand and all. Personally I think he’s losing his touch. Or his mind.”

“As you can tell, ‘Marilyn’ here, who also answers to Tara, likes to bust my chops and points south because she knows she can get away with it,” Xander deadpanned. “When you’ve been friends as long as we have, you get perks like that.”

“You do? How long did it take?” Buffy asked, drawing Willow’s look. Buffy was looking the guy over in a way that she’d seen her use with vamps and stuff, but there was something else there that made Willow frown.

“Since before Kindergarten. Believe it or not, she was once incredibly shy and had the cutest stutter around.” Xander flinched a little as ‘Marilyn’ smacked him on the upper arm and went on without missing a beat, “And she’s also violent. Very violent. Oddly enough it’s only with me, though. Must be something I’ve done.”

“So we’ve noticed,” Kennedy deadpanned before she turned to Tara with a smile. “Nice to meet you, Marilyn. While it’s a shame that we don’t have any of those gusty wind grates around here, I have to say that you look quite nice tonight.”

Willow’s jaw dropped a little at how forward Kennedy was being, her robe dropping open just a little bit more, but this didn’t hold a candle to the long look that ‘Marilyn’ was giving her. Was… was ‘Marilyn’ like Kennedy? There was nothing wrong with it, no, not at all, but it just made Willow a little uneasy about the prospect, that’s all. “Um… we’re late? For the party?”

This seemed to break everyone out of their trances and Buffy, a little flustered by the looks that had been given and allowed and stolen nodded, repositioning her basket on her arm a little, “Yeah, we are. Um, Willow? Which way are we supposed to go again?”

Willow sighed a little and pointed, to which Buffy nodded and started walking off. As she passed Xander, though, Willow was surprised when her best Slayer friend looped her arm out and snagged him. Was there something in the air tonight?

“Can I have my arm back for a second? Or is this how you say ‘hi’ to all of the new guys you meet?”

Buffy blushed as she realized what she had done and instantly let the new guy, Xander, go. “Sorry.”

“No problem. Oddly enough I’m used to being drug around by pretty blonde women, though normally it’s as Tara’s pack mule. You’d be surprised how bossy she gets when she gets into a book store,” he added in a sotto voice, knowing full well that ‘Marilyn’ could hear him. He smiled when he felt something bounce off the back of his head. “So, I’m going to take a shot in the dark and guess that you’re Buffy.”

“How did you guess?”

“Well, Kennedy said that you were bottle blonde, slightly petite but capable of taking care of yourself and that the ‘airhead’ thing wasn’t always an act.”

Buffy stopped and turned like a viper on Kennedy, snapping, “Excuse me?! _I_ wasn’t the one who started the whole ‘airhead’ thing, missy! Or don’t you remember how you were acting when we first met?”

“He’s doing this to get a rise out of you, Buffy. Congratulations. You fell for it.” Kennedy deadpanned before she threw a piece of candy corn at Xander’s head. “And what did I tell you, buster? Don’t wind her up and egg her on unless you’re going to _unwind_ her, too.”

“Well, I certainly wouldn’t mind that but I don’t think we know each other well enough right now to, ah, ‘unwind’ one another.” Xander then looked at Buffy and smiled a little lecherously, “Though I can assure that when I’m done, you’re going to be so unwound that you’ll never get rewound again.”

Buffy’s entire upper body burned as her mouth opened and closed, her brain ceasing to work. He had _NOT_ just said what she thought he had said, had he?

Tara rolled her eyes and swatted Xander on the back of the head, shaking hers as she muttered, “Ladies and gentlemen, meet the Master of Tact, Alexander. Please note my technique; it’s something I’ve perfected over the years and it has garnered some success.” She then swatted him again.

“Oi!” Xander covered the back of his head and jerked away, “What was that for? I mean, I get why you did that the first time but two?”

“I felt like it. Woman’s prerogative. Take your pick.”

Xander grumbled a bit but kept his mouth shut.

“Is he always like this?”

Tara shrugged, “Only when he’s feeling playful. It can be a little annoying at times but he only does this with people he likes.”

“But he barely knows us.”

“He has a good head on his shoulders about who he can trust, Buffy. So, now to the important question; this place we’re going, does it have good candy?”

“Um… yeah. I think,” Buffy said with a shrug.

“You think? It’s _Halloween_! We’re supposed to gorge ourselves sick!” Xander objected.

Again Tara shrugged, “Well, there is that, but some of us are more grown up than you, Xander.”

Xander’s hands went to his heart immediately and he performed a picture perfect pratfall backwards, landing near Buffy. Pausing as he got a good look up her skirt, he decided to not push his luck and rolled once to the right as it dawned on Buffy what he was seeing. “You wound me, fair lady. I can be as grown up as anyone, I just choose not to.”

Tara rolled her eyes and helped her friend up to his feet, “You know, Xander, one day you’re going to be serious and I’m going to think that you’re just pulling my chain.”

“Tare, the day I’m serious, there won’t be any question if I am or not.” Xander plucked at his shirt a few times before he turned to the blushing Buffy and bowed to her and then offered her his arm, “Shall we?”

Buffy paused for a second, unsure what to do after he’d inadvertently seen up her skirt, but a light shove from Kennedy behind her gave her the hint.

“C’mon, guys, we’ve got partying to do.” Kennedy said, pushing both Xander and Buffy. “They might have some good snacks.”

“Why do you always think with your stomach, Kennedy?” Willow complained as she and Oz followed.

“Would you rather me think with something else, Willow? Like my libido?”

“Your brain, maybe?” Willow snarked before she blushed brightly in her armor.

“Oh, two points for the redhead in the armor. Key snarkage at a prime opening.” Xander smiled.

Buffy nodded, “True, though a half point off for the mean factor. Can we go now? There might be some cute guys at the fraternity that I want to say ‘hi’ to.”

(Twelve hours later, sunrise)

He’d been up for nearly two days and it was starting to wear on him. He’d learned a long time ago how to operate on no sleep, though now he didn’t have soldier pills and a chakra system to help in that, so he was working on pure caffeine and the fear of going back to sleep. Honestly he’d forgotten how badly that little shit of a fear demon had screwed him up…

Nearly five miles later, Xander stopped, utterly spent and slowly made his way towards the Java Hut. No coffee this time, just something to shut his stomach up. Upon entering, he was shocked to find Kennedy sitting off in the corner, waving him in with a muffin (double chocolate, it looked like). “Hey. Sleep well?”

“Hell no. You?”

“Not a wink. Haven’t done this in a long time.”

“The no sleep or the demon screwing with your fears?” she asked quietly, taking a pull from her tea while he took the crown off the muffin off, careful to not get any of the chocolate chips smudged on his fingers.

“Both, but mostly the no sleep thing. It was a hell of a lot easier when we were sixteen and had chakra,” he chipped in.

“I know. Can you…?” Kennedy asked, leaving it hanging.

“Nope, and trust me, I’ve tried. Do you know how hard it is to pass off why you’re in a pool trying to water walk? I mean, you can’t do the obvious thing like saying you’re Jesus come back and just getting some practice in.”

Kennedy snorted, imagining Xander doing just that and somehow it working just enough for the person to not send him to the nut house. “Anything on the magic front?”

“Strike two. No magical core whatsoever. In fact, I even got to read the Harry Potter books so far. Nothing’s changed, though the movies should be interesting. Do you think they’ll get Emma, Dan and Rupert again?”

“I don’t see any reason they shouldn’t, though they don’t really look anything like Harry, Hermione and Ron. They are ‘Hollywood’ pretty.”

“Touche.”

“What about your fighting, espionage and intelligence skills?”

“I’ve done as well as I can. Where’d you get that kunai you had the other day?”

“Found it at the mall. Not great steel but it works in a pinch.”

“I’ll see if I can make us some.”

Kennedy blinked, “Make? Were you a blacksmith?”

“No, but it can’t be that hard, can it?”

Kennedy groaned, muttering, “Sure, jinx it already.” They descended into quiet contemplation for a few minutes, Xander cooling off and Kennedy drinking her tea before she sighed.

"What's wrong, Ken Doll? Do I stink that bad?"

"You could do with a shower, yeah, but… I... Do you ever think about home, Xander?"

Xander shook his head, nibbling on his muffin, "Not really. My hometown isn't that great and I’m on the fence about this one."

Kennedy shook her head, "Not what I meant. I meant _home_. I miss it. I miss Mom and Dad and Jackie. And I miss _my_ Willow. _Our_ Willow. Don’t get me wrong, this Willow is nice enough but… she’s not the woman I fell in love with."

"Right there with you, Ken Doll. Right there with you. This isn’t my Tara, there’s no Dawn to conspire with, no Anya, no anything. Sometimes I don’t know if I want to laugh, cry or go on a rampage because almost everyone I care about in my life is _gone_.”

"You know what? Screw it. I wish she were here."

A strangled, "Don't!" barely made it out of Xander’s mouth, drawing the attention of everyone else in the coffee shop.

Kennedy’s look was defiant as he glared at her and magic surrounded them.

In another dimension, another time, Willow Rosenberg was washing the shampoo out of her hair, luxuriating in her shower after a long, hard day of magic, when all of a sudden the water vanished and she felt oddly cold. And exposed. Wiping the shampoo out of her eyes, she was stunned to see Xander and Kennedy there…

AN: You’d think that they’d learn, wouldn’t you? What do you think? Yes, lots of changes. Also more than a few in-jokes; see if you can spot them. One of them I fully blame on Cyclone Knight.

Reviews, please and thank you.


AN2: crosses so far: Harry Potter, Naruto, Stargate SG1, and a homebrew magical girl-super sentai that is currently unnamed and will probably remain unnamed. More to come.
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