Disclaimer: Dreamworks owns The Rise of the Guardians. Sadly I do not. Joss owns all of the Jossverse. I make no money, so please don't sue.
A/N: Anya and Xander didn't happen. Probably never will in a fic I write, but I guess never say never.
Another A/N: Throwing down some edits I missed earlier. Sorry to anyone who was expecting an update. :/ I have the next chapter in the works.
“Fuck. I wish I would have known about this earlier. Thanks Sunnyhell, for your amazing ability to fuck with me.” Talking to myself. Great. “Who cares?” Yep. Not like anyone would notice. Everyone with half a brain to spare is inside sipping hot chocolate. Mmmm. Chocolate.
I shiver and drag my work boots faster toward books and what is guaranteed to be a boring, horrible night filled with fetching of coffee and squinting at demonic languages. Oh, yeah, and thanks to the freaky weather freezing my ass off. Actually, the coffee won’t be bad. I feel a smile flash across my face. The snow is melting as it hits my skin and turning into water droplets. I shake my head and run my hand through my hair feeling the damp remains of what used to be unique ice crystals. It’s kind of sad how quickly they disappear. I reach out and catch a clump on my hand, holding them close to my eyes so I can look at the snowflakes before they turn into a pool of water on my fingers. My foot catches on a raised slab in the sidewalk and I stumble and slide, falling on my knees. The pain causes me to catch my breath and I quickly bounce up. I don’t even stop to brush the snow off of my knees. I want to be warm and inside. Now.
The Magic Box is directly ahead and I hurry toward it as a frigid wind cuts through my thin t-shirt. The quickly falling snow is winking at me, tiny pieces of glitter in the small patches of illumination from the street lights. Everything is silent. All the little nighttime noises are deadened. The air feels hungry, almost like it is trying to grasp me so I move forward slower. A sense of waiting lingers over everything. My Slayerette senses are tingling. There is something horrible brewing. No doubt about it. Exhaling, my breath fogs in front of me and I can’t help but laugh a little. I’ve only ever seen snow a handful of times in my life. I blow my breath out and giggle to myself. I have the urge to stop and pretend I’m Spike.
Smoke a pretend cigarette or two. Get pretend cancer.
My entire body clenches with the cold as I shrink in on myself and rub my hands up and down my arms. There is that dragging sensation again. Almost like a ghost has me around the middle and is grabbing at me. Trying to stop me. Something zips by and I catch dark shadow out of the corner of my eye. They streak toward the shop and I notice other black blurs chasing by to head the same way. A stab of sharp clawed fear surprises me and I stumble. I gasp and grip my chest with one hand as I stare. It has been a long, long time since I felt anything like that. It lingers like a familiar whisp in my brain. It reminds me of childhood just like the walnut chocolate chip cookies Grandma Violet used to make. With all I’ve been through fear for life and limb is a common thing, but not this deep horror. I shake myself and try to make my feet move faster. It is hard with the bone chilling cold. My legs don’t want to listen to me. I trip again and am sprawling on cold concrete, snow making my skin ripple with goosebumps as my bare stomach is assaulted by the icy white stuff where my shirt hitched up. Looking forward exasperated I can’t see anything that would have made me fall. Gritting my teeth lying face down on the snow covered sidewalk I growl, doing a fair impression of Spike. This is getting ridiculous. I’ve never been graceful, but this is too much.
“Go for it, whatever you are. Pretty sure you don’t want to fuck with pouty, cold witch and a pissed off Slayer lamenting her suede boots,” I shout after them. Of course, whatever they are they don’t stop to say thanks for the warning. Fuckity, fuck. It’s not like I will be any real help against incorporeal, incredibly fast black blurs of whatever. I shiver, more with the wiggins than the cold, and stand again, running toward the shop.
The black blurs seem to be converging on the Magic Box and weasel inside through cracks around the windows under the front door.
“Xander!” I hear a shout from behind.
Turning briefly to look Buffy is trucking behind me. I wasn’t as late as I thought, or at least I wasn’t the last for the research session of doom. Maybe literally now. I frown as her quick little feet outpace me easily and can hear my heart beat in my ears. She’s a bit in front of me when I feel and then hear an explosion. The ground boils up under my feet and Buffy and I are both knocked down by a heavy pulse of energy. I’m dazed for a few seconds and I blink my eyes rapidly trying to lose the white spots that the bright light someone, I’m guessing one of our witchy someone’s, created inside building. It had been like catching a star in supernova. The door of the Magic Box is eschew and Buffy and I look at each other before we scramble up and inside. I feel bruised all over. The ground doesn’t get any softer just because you are familiar with meeting it.
The destruction reminds me of the High School. There is not one single book or bauble intact, except for a 5 foot circle around Tara, Willow, and Giles. Tara still retains a gentle, soothing glow. Like an angel. I sneeze and look closer at the damage.
“What is all of that black stuff?” I scuff it with my shoe. Buffy seems to be shocked silent, like everyone else.
“Are…are you all right?” Came a tentative stutter from Tara. The laughter spills out of me. I can’t help it. It is too perfect.
“Why do you ask?” I finally manage to get out after a full minute of debilitating laughter.
“Oh! You’re bleeding Xander!” Willow rushes toward me with a frowny face and I chuckle again. Looking down I see the ripped knees and blood trickling down the front of my jeans. I don’t feel it. Reaching for the stain I notice my shaking hands and clench them into fists. Willow is getting her pretty green dress dirty. Idly I notice the black “stuff” is really black sand and try to remember the name of whatever black beach Willow told me her family visited on vacation. Where was it?
“Xander? Doesn’t this hurt?” She is poking at my knees and I shake my head no. There is a lot of blood, but I’ve been hurt worse plenty of times. I shiver and shrug stepping forward and around her to get away from what felt like a hand of ice on my shoulder. I realize there is a lingering sense of fear and general disease in the shop. I shake my head, but it doesn’t go away.
“My shop. My bloody shop. How will I ever get the insurance to cover this? Dear Lord, the books!“ Giles is mumbling and moves off to walk aimlessly around the destruction. He pauses here and there to pick up bits of this or that.
“Jesus. This is bad. I’m sooo glad this isn’t my fault,” Buffy taps her foot as she twirls slowly to survey the damage. She is indeed wearing black, suede boots, just like she had been when he’d seen her earlier out and about with her newest guy. Ugh. Dating. Out on dates. I feel a sputter of jealousy and squish it before it can get started. I don't want to date Buffy. Nope. Over that. It would be nice to date someone. Later. I can be miserable with some country music later.
“So, the sand came from those black demons?” I bend down and run my fingers through it. My fingertips tingle and I wipe my hands on the ass of my jeans.
“What demons? I’m still not sure what happened.” Willow asks perplexed as she stands. Where her knees had touched the floor her dress is stained black.
“Yes,” murmurs Tara.
“Demons?” Buffy perks up.
“Or something,” I shrug.
“We’re researching and then the next I know we’re being accosted by something invisible. Maybe we’ve a poltergeist, but Tara I think your reaction was quite uncalled for!” Giles is yelling and looking harassed by the end cradleing his bits of important books. I am so confused.
“But, I saw them. Buffy saw them too, right? I mean, look at the sand!” I turn to Buffy for support. She’s frowning at me, with her cute little face and her black leather jacket is accentuating all of her curves with her arms crossed under her breasts.
“Um, actually I just saw you running and just figured there was a reason for it.” She shrugged and a wry smile lit up her face.
Tara bent and picked up a handful of the sand making eye contact with me.
“It’s the Boogey Man.” I shudder and feel a fine sweat break out on my forehead.