Xander and the Lying Bastard
Disclaimer: I’m neither Joss Whedon nor Larry Niven and I own none of their toys.
Author’s Note: This is in reply to the “Ship of the Line” Challenge. The ship in question was not a flagship but it was both “unique” and “interesting”. It was full of state of the art tech for the time and universe it inhabited and only appeared to be a harmless civilian explorer. If anyone has read the book Ringworld by Larry Niven its from that book and I think it qualifies eminently as a ship of the line.
Xander hated Junior year math class for many reasons. One of the big ones was that he couldn’t sit with his friends, Buffy and Willow. The teacher assigned everyone seats and did his best to insure no one was near anyone they were likely to gossip with or help on a test. It’s how he ended up between Larry the Caveman and Cordelia, Queen of the school. Another reason was that he tended to suck at it and Cordelia always taunted him when she did better than him on a test.
Granted he never tried very hard, despite prodding from his best friend. He was certain that no amount of effort would alter his fate after high school. There had never been a Harris who went to college and he doubted he’d be the first. He just wished Cordelia would shut up about it. She was currently talking about the upcoming test and how she was certain she’d do better than him. He was tuning her out to think about possible costumes he could wear for Halloween on his budget when he had an idea.
“Why not put your money where your mouth is if you’re so certain?” Xander said.
“What are you talking about loser?” Cordelia replied. “And how dare you interrupt me when I’m informing you of your shortcomings?”
“I mean if you are so certain you’ll score than me on the next test then let’s bet on it,” Xander said.
“What do you have that’s worth betting?” she replied with one perfectly plucked eyebrow raised.
Xander grinned, “Dignity. If I score higher than you I get to pick your Halloween costume and if you win I’ll wear whatever you decide. Sound interesting Queen C?”
She thought about it, trying to consider all the pros and cons. If she won she could not only throw it in his face that she had beat his score and was more than just a pretty face. Despite not trying he usually managed to score at least an 80%. Probably only due to Rosenberg but still he did it. If he had to explain his costume by saying it was because she beat him on a test that would be satisfying. She wasn’t a nerd or techie but you needed brains in business too and she wanted her reputation to be more than just another pretty cheerleader, or even another cheer captain.
On the minus side losing to ‘Loser Harris’ would sting and she’d have to wear something of his choosing. If it was one of the jocks she’d just say no in a heartbeat because the costume would probably be illegal to wear out in public in most states. The nerd brigade usually had fantasies about comic book women though. Jesse had made more than one drawing of her as Wonder Woman before he’d disappeared. That sort of thing she could handle. She’d look awesome in that costume if she did say so herself and spandex was her friend as well.
“Alright loser,” she replied. “But when you lose you have to tell anyone who asks about your costume that you’re wearing it because I beat your score in a math test capisce?”
Xander nodded, “Yeah, I got it.” He decided not to try and ask her to do the same. Seeing her in the costume as she escorted munchkins around for Herr Snyder would be win enough for him. He held out his hand and she snorted.
“As if! I don’t want to get any loser on me,” she said. “Just remember our bet when we bet our tests back.”
He pulled his hand back and started trying to decide what the most humiliating costume would be.
Unfortunately for Willow she told Buffy about the bet in order to explain why Xander was at her house every night studying instead of patrolling. This had left Buffy feeling cranky because not having either of their company made the night patrol seem longer and lonelier. So when Harmony, of all people, made a snide remark about Xander’s intelligence she snapped and offered to expand the bet to include the two of them.
“If Xander loses this bet,” she declared. “Then Willow and I will wear Cordelia’s choice of costumes as well if you and Aura will agree to wear Xander’s choice if he defeats your precious queen.”
Before Willow could manage to say anything coherent the deal had been struck and everyone in the corridor had heard.
Harmony smiled, “Deal! If Xander wins he picks all six costumes and if Queen C wins she picks all six.”
Buffy wanted to say that this was NOT the deal she’d had in mind but looking at Harmony’s outstretched hand and all the students watching she had no real choice. She made sure she was smiling and shook Harmony’s hand, “Deal!”
Needless to say Xander was happy when he heard about this and Aura was not. Aura didn’t want to seem to be lacking faith in her captain so she just grinned and said, “I’m sure you’ll win Cordy.”
Unfortunately for Cordelia waiting the extra week for the test results meant that Party Town was sold out and only the new store still had costumes. Even more unfortunately for her when Xander had mentioned the bet to Willow she had taken it as a personal challenge. She tutored him in math every night until the test, even on the weekend, and in the end Xander got a score that was far higher than Cordelia's.
When they got their tests back it seemed the whole class was waiting for the results and the teacher was surprised at the cheers and boos Xander got when he said, “Ninety-eight percent! In your face math!”
His good mood was a little dampened as he walked to Ethan’s shop with five girls who were all upset to some degree. To his surprise and dismay talking about how cool spandex was didn’t cheer up either Willow or Buffy. It made Cordelia smile instead. Xander told himself that all girls were weird and he was inherently incapable of understanding even the ones he’d known all his life.
Once in the store all the girls turned to look at Xander, and he gulped, nervous under their combined scrutiny.
"Well you won so you get to pick all our costumes," Cordelia said. She folded her arms and started tapping one foot. "I'll wait by the cashier to see what you come up with and pay for it."
When he came back with six costumes she raised one eyebrow and smirked, "Leather?" Then she snorted, "Give me that! I want to make sure it's real leather because I refuse to wear vinyl or any other sort of fake."
He passed it over with a smile, "It's real Cordy. I've helped my uncle Rory too many times not to know leather when I feel it."
Cordelia checked the price while Buffy stroked the leather. "Ooh! It's so soft," Buffy cooed.
"Hey, tea drinker!" Cordelia called out. "Are these prices correct?"
"All prices are as listed Ms. Chase," replied an unfamiliar voice in a familiar accent. "I'm happy to see you again. How are your dear father and mother?"
"Ew," Harmony said. "You know the shopkeeper?"
"He had to meet with my father before setting up," Cordelia said. "Daddy is head of the chamber of commerce you know."
"Ah," the Cordette said. "Okay, then."
Cordelia turned to Xander, "Leather pants and vests dweeb? I can practically see the fantasy this came from and I'm not impressed." Actually she was kind of impressed. She'd been expecting something much skimpier and he'd actually managed to find a good bargain as well.
Xander put the last of the costumes on the counter, "Hey, I could have picked a lot worse than this. In fact I still can, there were these chain mail bikinis that said they were Valkyrie costumes ..."
Willow eeped at the idea of wearing a bikini in public and Buffy scoffed at the idea of one made of chainmail.
Cordelia briefly considered agreeing just to see if Rosenberg would actually faint at the idea, but instead she just nodded, "Fair enough." She looked at the owner, "Ring'em up and put them on my card."
Ethan Rayne had also been hoping for skimpier clothing but shrugged mentally and made the sale. It wasn't as if he'd had to actually purchase anything after all. A few hours and the sacrifice of some dice once rolled in Vegas by Bugsy himself and he'd had stock. It was a very eclectic group of costumes but they all came labeled so he'd just needed to add prices. It was pure profit and there would be lovely chaos for afters. He couldn't wait to see what the label on the costumes had meant when it said "The crew of the Lying Bastard."
The girls all got dressed at Willow’s house. Her parents were gone and they were unanimous in wanting none of their parents to see them together. In his bedroom alone Xander pulled the leather vest over his favorite Hawaiian shirt. He wondered exactly where Ethan got his costumes. “I mean it’s not like Ringworld costumes are in big demand or anything,” he muttered to himself. He put on the belt with the sonic stunner and the multipurpose flashlight . He smirked as he remembered why Louis Wu had christened the ship “Lying Bastard”. It was technically unarmed and only carrying tools and utility equipment but everything including the ship itself could be used as a weapon. The least dangerous on board had been the things shaped like guns, the stunners used a sonic pulse to knock people out but that was it. He added a communicator and something labeled “flycycle keys” then set out toward Willow’s.
When Willow came to the door she pouted, "I knew I should have worn a shirt under this!" Stomping one foot in a borrowed leather boot she added, "Even Buffy swore you shouldn't wear a shirt underneath." After Xander had come in she shut the door and went upstairs calling out, "Why does Xander get to wear a shirt and I don't?"
Xander had been planning to compliment her but never got the chance. He did take notice of how well the pants fit as she ran up the stairs. A short while after she went up Buffy and Cordelia came down and Xander was speechless at how good they looked.
"Lose the shirt Harris," Cordelia said. "I know you're probably pasty white and thin under there but you picked the costume so you have no excuse for not wearing it properly."
Buffy pouted at him and gave him and gave him puppy dog eyes, "Xander, if you wear a shirt under it then Willow won't wear hers properly either! This is a perfect opportunity for her to show off how good she looks. If you don't help she might just throw a sheet over it and go as a ghost. Please take off the shirt Xander." She grinned, "It's your chance to show too! All the work you've been putting in learning martial arts to help with the vamps probably has you in good shape after a year."
Xander never really had a chance. He took off his Hawaiian shirt and then put the vest back on, "Better?"
Cordelia gave him a predatory grin, "Looks like Buffy was right for once. You did need to show that body off. I was just hoping for no shirt with eyebleedingly bad colors but this is an unexpected bonus." Then she ruined the very nice compliment by sighing, "Too bad you're still a loser. You might almost be worth a date."
Xander smirked as he fired back, "I've seen your taste in men Cor. If you don't want to date me I take that as a compliment. Now we should get going before Herr Snyder gives us detention."