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Tied up in Red

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This story is No. 8 in the series "Our Roots Run Deep". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: It's their senior year and they're stronger than ever, but what sort of madness will the Pack face this year?

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Multiple Crossings > Xander-CenteredcalikocatFR181372,82729916,42724 Aug 1314 Jul 14No

No Fair Trades Here

Tied up in Red
calikocat
Chapter Eight: No Fair Trades Here

Word count: 6201

A/N: Happy Valentines Day!

XXX

Spike and Buffy managed, somehow, to have a wary sort of truce. Meaning they avoided one another...mostly. At least they didn't hunt one another. They acknowledged that they were both important to Xander but they didn't have to get along. Though Spike seemed...disturbed and more than a little freaked out when Buffy thanked him for killing the Anointed One.

They were walking home from patrol, the three of them, plus Rhonda when Spike finally asked, after a night of fidgeting; “Why exactly did the Slayer thank me?”

Xander gave him an amused look, he'd expected Spike to ask much sooner than this. “For killing the Anointed One?”

“Yeah.”

“He led her to her death.”

Spike started to nod, but stopped and grasped Xander's arm, fingers coiling over the crook. “What?”

“He led her to the Master and the Master killed her.”

“How is she alive then?”

Rhonda grinned at them as she walked backwards ahead of them. “Xander broke a prophecy.”

Spike gaped at him a bit and pulled him closer. Xander let him, basking in the solid line of his body, “How?”

He shrugged. “Well, we lucked out. He didn't drain her. Instead he be-spelled her, drank enough of her blood to free himself...and dropped her face down in a pool of water...she drowned.”

Cordelia lifted her chin a bit, pride in her voice when she spoke, “And Xander brought her back.”

Xander rolled his eyes. “It’s not my fault that the stodgy old men who wrote the prophecy didn't know about CPR.”

Rhonda kept grinning, deepening her voice as she spoke. “The Slayer shall die and the Master shall rise.”

Spike's arm was around his waist now. “You really broke a prophecy...”

“And man was Koenma mad.”

“Koenma?”

Cordelia snuggled into Spike's other side, “Prince of Reikai.”

“Judge of Human Souls,” Xander added helpfully.

“And you know this bloke?”

“He went to my brother's wedding.”

“Any other surprises I should know about?”

Xander's hand found Cordelia's as they each wrapped an arm around Spike. “The Fates hate me and have it out for me. They don't like Prophecy Breakers and Wild Cards...both of which I am apparently.”

Cordelia nodded. “At least you only broke the one prophecy.”

Xander blushed and ducked his head a bit. “Heh.”

Everyone stopped walking and Cordelia eyed him with a narrow gaze. “Xander.”

“Yeah...yeah there might be a second...but it was a little one I swear.”

Rhonda groaned, her shoulders slumped in dismay, “When?”

“And where were we?” Cordelia asked.

“My first summer in Tokyo and when I met Kagome. We might have stopped a localized apocalypse...Yusuke doesn't know...and we are not telling him.”

Cordelia rolled her eyes and pinched his wrist. “How bad was it?”

“Not bad...we just ended up running around Tokyo collecting slightly evil talismans so Kagome could purify them...and then killed the demon mage that placed them.”

Spike smacked his ass which made him jump a bit. “Does anyone at all know about that?”

“Just you guys, Kagome, and her son.”

“Any other prophecies we should worry about?” Cordelia's gaze was still narrow.

“Nope, there was just the two.”

Spike let out a snort. “So you're the reason there are two slayers.”

“Yep.”

“The Fates are going to try again to end you, aren't they?”

“Most likely.”

He was pulled in for a kiss and Spike pressed the words against his lips. “Let them try.” He pulled away and focused those blue eyes on Xander. “Not giving either of you up that easily.”

xxx

It was easy how they fell into the pattern he and Cordelia had already established. Spike just sort melted into it. Their days consisted of school, classes, research if anything had popped up; while their nights were dinner, TV, patrol and Spike. Xander worried some that Spike would get bored during the day but he always seemed content when they got home from school; and it was freaky surreal when he actually helped them with homework. One moment they'd been bickering over history reports, the next Spike had been telling a tale of things that happened behind the scenes, things their teacher had only glossed over. They'd gotten A's on those reports.

Then there was the sex.

Both Xander and Cordelia, as comfortable with one another as they were, were still inexperienced when it came to sex. At least in comparison to Spike who had more than a century of practice. They were more than willing students and Xander was just starting to believe them when they made comments about him being attractive. If anyone as pretty as Cordelia or alluring as Spike could be attracted to him there had to be something about him that warranted that attraction.

Blood during sex didn't happen often and when it did it was just the bare breaking of skin, just enough to taste and only in the heat of the moment. Though both Spike and Cordelia now carried the imprint of his teeth, Spike above his collarbone, and Cordy on her shoulder.

Condoms were a must...even when he was only watching Spike and Cordy. Spike had rolled his eyes when Xander had insisted but it was the Hellmouth where mystical pregnancies were not outside the realm of possibilities. Just because Buffy and Angel weren't the proud parents of a bouncing ball of madness didn't mean they wouldn't have that kind of luck.

Their mornings varied, sometimes Spike would slink downstairs to have a mug of blood while they ate breakfast, and he occasionally slipped a bite of food from their plates. Laughing at the faces they made when he dipped said food into the blood and nibbled at it.

What worried Xander, despite the domestic bliss...was the way Spike would sometimes stare at the ring. He'd fiddle with it, thumb caressing the crest, wearing an almost frown. And Xander knew that it meant something, and he wasn't sure he was going to like it. However...if Spike decided to leave Xander wouldn't stop him. Everyone needed space and being bound to two teenagers might feel suffocating to a demon that was used to doing whatever the hell he wanted.

xxx

“Buffy Summers. That's when all my trouble started. When she moved here...I mean if she hadn't come here then Xander wouldn't have even looked marginally cool and I wouldn't even have noticed him.”

Anya gave her a sympathetic nod. “Here, I think you need this more than I do right now.” She slipped her necklace off and fastened it around Cordelia's neck.

“Yeah I could use some luck. Thanks.”

“After that loser a little luck certainly won't hurt.”

“He's...God...this whole thing sucks.” Cordelia bit her lip in thought. “I wonder if it could be any better...ya know? Like I wish I could be in a reality that was better, cooler, one where I wouldn't get cheated on.”

“Done.”

“What?”

xxx

Their day started out normal, but then most days did. They woke up to lazy kisses with Spike; kisses that didn't really gain any urgency until the alarm went off, sending him and Cordy scrambling to get ready for school. Spike's hands and lips were a welcome distraction, though the shower really wasn't built for three...and definitely not three people shower sex. More sex tended to happen during the showers when they all tried to cram inside at once.

School was normal as well. They had their usual brief meeting in the library before Xander walked Cordelia through the school until they parted ways in the quad. They shared a kiss and Xander left for his own class, smiling in amusement when Cordy made a brief detour to save Jonathan from Harmony and her sheep. From the corner of her vision she could see him taking a moment to listen and appreciate her barbed words that left the scatterbrained blond confused, intimidated, and infuriated.

There was nothing like cutting Harmony to ribbons first thing in the morning. With a final wave to Xander and a friendly push to Jonathan to get him on his way she turned a corner to head to class.

Then...the world rocked a bit and her vision got a little swirly and she stumbled. Cordelia caught herself on the brick wall, steadied herself and waited for the dizzy feeling to pass. When it did she shook her head. Maybe she'd been up too late after patrol? She seemed fine though and had a class to get to.

xxx

When Xander felt the strange surge of magic he stopped dead in his tracks. He looked around him, feeling out with his aura. Whatever it was had already gone. But still, it was unlike anything he'd ever felt.

xxx

“That was weird...” Cordelia looked around, Anya was nowhere in sight. “Anya?” She whirled around, looking everywhere. “I just made a wish...everything looks the same though.” She put a hand to her stomach, the wound was gone. “Alright. I could get used to this.” She grinned and went to class.

However things started to get a bit weird. Like Harmony not talking to her...well that part wasn't weird, what was weird was the way Harmony and her groupies looked at her with...apprehension? But Amy Madison came up to her and started talking like they were friends. Weird but she could deal. Amy at least was intelligent and interesting, even with all that magic stuff.

Then Jenny Calendar walked by her with a smile and a wave and Cordelia nearly had a heart attack at the sight of her. Did Angelus not kill her in this world? She didn't even bother stopping to talk to Oz and Willow when they tried to flag her down.

The most unnerving thing though...was the way Rhonda Kelly kept staring at her like she was a pod person. What was with this reality?

xxx

The first time she realized something was wrong was when Harmony and her flock laughed at her in between classes; when just that morning she'd given the blond a verbal lashing. And the taunts about getting dumped didn't make any sense. She most certainly had not been dumped. There had been awesome kisses and shower sex this morning thank you very much.

The second time she realized things were off were when she popped into the computer lab to ask Jenny if she could use the lab during her free time...only Jenny wasn't there and some creepy old man was. Jenny's name plate wasn't even on the desk, so she backed out of the classroom, confused.

So she tracked Willow down, thinking the young miko would know what was going on because out of all of them she was closest to Jenny. However at the sight of her Willow looked pale...and guilty. What was going on?

“Hey Willow. Ms. Calendar isn't here today and some old guy seems to have taken over her classroom? Did Snyder fire her for dating Giles? Do Xander and I need to have a talk with the troll?”

Willow somehow managed to grow paler, looked sick even...and just a bit mad. “I know we hurt you Cordelia...but that's not....that's going too far.”

“What are you talking about? And while I'm asking, why does the whole school seem to be laughing at me behind my back...and in front of me even.” It was true; the increasing stares were starting to get to her.

“You know why.”

“No, I don't.”

Willow bit her lip and shut her locker before scurrying away. “I'm sorry.”

A little taken back by the girl's reaction an increasing sense of unease filled her. Something was definitely wrong and she needed to figure out what. So she followed Willow to the library.

She pushed the doors open with determination and the core Scoobies stared at her entrance. “What is with everyone today? The stares? The laughs? Willow freaking out when I asked about Jenny missing class.” She continued walking toward them, moving to Xander's side and tried to take his hand in hers.

He pulled away like her touch burned him. “You made it clear we were through.”

That sense of unease grew into an almost stabbing pain. “What? When did I-” And then she looked at Xander, really looked. “You look different.” His hair was shorter, which didn't make sense as he'd let it grow out over the summer. So she moved so she could look directly into his eyes. “You feel different.” Something was missing from his gaze...his aura. She glanced down at his right hand and what was missing from it. “Oh my God. You're not my Xander.”

“We established that.” His words were bitter and felt like ice.

“No. I mean...everything has been different since my dizzy spell...after I stopped Harmony from picking on Jono.”

They were all staring at her, as if she were crazy. Only Giles seemed willing to speak at the moment. “Who?”

“Jonathan.”

Buffy looked at her, hopefully that was only curiosity in her gaze, “Why would you help Jonathan?”

“Uh, because I'm Queen C and one half of Sunnydale High's power couple and Xander, my Xander, and I do not endorse bullying.” She rubbed at her forehead, ignoring them for a moment. “I must have fallen into an alternate reality...oh God...” Something clicked about Willow's attitude. “Did Jenny die in this reality?”

Giles head snapped up and he glared at her with nothing but Ripper in his eyes. “That's enough.”

Cordelia's heart ached for him. “She did, didn't she? Damn. We didn't get to her in time here.”

Willow sucked in a breath, her expression wounded, “That's not funny.”

“No it’s not.” Cordelia shook her head. “Back home she was in a coma the rest of the school year and then didn't remember Giles when she woke up. But she's better now. I'm pretty sure he's considering buying her a ring.”

“That's enough Cordelia. You're game isn't amusing.”

Cordelia glared back at him and spoke again, this time in Japanese, “Watashi wa gēmu o purei shite inai yo. Kore ga watashi no sekaide wa arimasen. Anata no sekai wa orokadesuga, watashi wa sore o sukide wanaito watashi wa ie ni kaeritai.”

They gaped and only Giles managed to speak for a moment. “Good lord...you...”

She shrugged. “What other proof do you need?”

Buffy ignored her and looked to her watcher. “Is she possessed?” Okay, obviously they needed more proof but Cordelia wasn't sure what to give them.

“Possibly...some research might be in order.” She really did not like the look in Giles' eyes. “Restrain her please. Just in case.” Oh hell no!

Cordelia tried fight them, the Xander and Willow of this world were no contest, no training at all...but Buffy was still the Slayer and stopped her in her tracks...at least after a flurry of movement that left them shocked and Cordelia bruised from Slayer strength. Why were they so shocked? Did Giles not train anyone here? At all? But that was so sloppy!

As they were tying her to a chair the fake Xander eyed her warily. “Maybe she's a demon in disguise?”

Giles hmmd, already elbow deep in his books, “Possibly.”

“This is so not my day.”

xxx

Xander finally managed to track Cordy down. He hadn't really seen her since that morning and it was like...he just had a bad feeling was all.

“Did something happen?” He asked, reaching for her, “It’s like you've been avoiding me...” When she glared at him he froze. “Are you okay?”

Her voice was cool...and her eyes were...Cordelia hadn't looked at him like that in a long time. “Fine. Never better.”

Larry stopped by them, distracting Xander for a moment, “Hey, there a meeting later?”

Xander shook his head, eyes on Cordelia. “Don't think so.”

“Cool. See you tomorrow then.”

“Later.” He kept watching Cordelia, her gaze was appraising now, as if she were surprised that Larry spoke to him...as an equal...or someone with authority. He felt Kyle approach...and noticed the other boy was staring at Cordelia just as he was. “Yes Kyle?”

“There a-”

“No meeting. Larry went that way.” He motioned.

“Thanks.” He started moving, glancing between them in confusion.

Cordelia now looked impressed, satisfied even. “Wow, you really are cooler.”

“What?” Xander looked at her, really looked. Her hair was different, her eyes were different...her scent was different and he started to panic. Lastly he looked at her aura. This...was not... “You're not my Cordy.”

She was staring at him, eyes wide, probably because he could feel his own gaze glowing. “What? Why are your eyes-?”

“Your aura isn't mixed with mine and you should still smell like me and Spike.” He grabbed her right hand and brought it up, “And no ring.” Then he proceeded to drag her toward the library, passing Kyle and Larry as he moved, “Kyle spread the word, emergency meeting.”

“Why?”

“This isn't my Cordy.”

“Thought she smelled different.”

“Smelled different? What are you talking about, hey! Let go!”

He ignored the imposter and forced the first tingling of panic in his chest deep down so it wouldn't cripple him. When he got to the library he shoved her into the book cage and locked the door behind her.

Giles was standing and staring at him like he was crazy. “What on earth?”

“She's not mine. That's not my Cordy.”

“Are you sure?”

“Giles, I know every inch of her and that's not her.”

The imposter scowled. “Excuse me? Yeah right, in your dreams!”

He ignored her. “I don't know what happened. Things were normal this morning when we woke up and got ready for school.” Xander not knowing what else to do started pacing.

Willow was the first to enter the library, stopping in front of the book cage to stare at the Cordelia look alike, “Huh.” She glanced at Xander and Giles. “Her aura is different...but it’s still a version of Cordy.”

Xander nodded, an animal sort of whine escaping his throat, as he continued to pace. The shocked looks Willow and the not-Cordy gave him were ignored; even when Willow moved to the counter and the phone.

The others began to file in, Rhonda taking a moment to examine the newcomer that had replaced her sister. The other Cordelia glared back and snapped. “What?”

“I thought something was off. I always know where my sister is...and I'm looking right at you...and I don't feel her at all.” She sneered at the shocked expression the girl gave her and moved toward Xander, stopping his pacing and burrowing into his arms. Right, he wasn't alone in this, Rhonda had every right to freak out. He could be strong.

It didn't hurt that Amy joined the mini cuddle/panic session and gave him a much needed hug.

The new Cordy looked at them like they were crazy before addressing Buffy. “What, does this Xander have a harem or something?”

Buffy rolled her eyes. “All joking and rumors aside, no. We're pack. Also Xan and Amy are brother and sister.”

“How is that possible?”

Amy shrugged and answered. “Tony Harris got around.”

Giles cleared his throat and gained their attention. “I'm not sure what could have caused this. A dimensional shift perhaps.”

Xander swallowed and clung to Rhonda and Amy. “Can we reverse it? Can we get Cordy back?”

“I don't know.”

Xander couldn't stop the keening noise he made as he sank to the floor, both girls going to their knees with him.

“Oh please. Like you appreciated her.” Not-Cordy sneered at him. “I bet you cheated on her with Willow just like the Xander back in my reality.”

He didn't remember slipping out of their grasp, much less getting back to his feet, but suddenly he was in front of the book cage. Stalking toward her, a growl coming from his throat, and his eyes glowing in rage, “The only one I kiss or sleep with besides Cordy is Spike. The three of us are together.”

Her eyes were wide and he could smell her fear as she stepped back. “How does that work?”

“Rather well. My Cordy likes to watch as much as she likes to participate...” He felt a bit of calm settle over him, though it felt false, like it wouldn't last. “Now, how did you get here and how do we get her back?”

xxx

Her arms were tied tightly to the chair, she'd tried to break free by force, but she wasn't strong enough. “I'm not possessed. I'm not a demon in disguise. I'm just from an alternate reality.”

The local Xander made a face at her, “A reality where you're in a relationship...with me ...and Spike the vampire.”

“Yes...” she paused. “Well, technically Xander was with Spike first, what with Spike getting Xander's first kiss anyway...and his second.”

Their Willow looked up, shocked at that. “What about Ampata?”

Cordelia frowned at her. “The Mummy girl? She was Willow's first kiss...but Ampata really liked Willow and couldn't drain her. And then Kagome set her free.”

Giles looked up from his books. “Kagome? Set her free?”

She rolled her eyes; she was not used to being go-to-girl. “Kagome Higurashi. She's a miko and she was Xander's guest last year during the cultural exchange thing. Willow is actually her apprentice.”

“Willow is a Shinto Priestess in training? Does this Kagome have any actual power?”

“Didn't I just say she set Ampata free? As in released her from the curse so she got to be all glowly, sparkly and move on? Also she totally unmade the Shikon no Tama so that it couldn't be used for evil anymore.”

He stared at her, mouth open for a good minute, “She's one of the priestesses from that legend?”

“Yeah...look. The entire pack spent the summer in Japan.”

“Why? What pack?” Buffy asked; the stake she'd been twirling in her hand stilled.

“Our pack...because we needed time away from the Hellmouth. And Xander's older brother lives in Tokyo.”

Local Xander gave her his confused face. “What brother?”

“Ugh. Yusuke Urameshi.”

“Good lord.”

She rolled her eyes at the watcher. “Oh it gets better Book Man. Since Xander is technically a Prince of Makai, even though Yusuke gave up his throne, Xander has claimed me as his consort and Spike as his potential mate...” She grinned as he started to put her words together.

“Then you're...”

“I'm a Makai Princess buddy and you're holding me against my will.”

“Bloody Hell!”

xxx

The rest of the pack huddled together, on edge, the occasional whine escaping from one of them. He couldn't blame them, he wanted to curl up in a ball...but that wouldn't help anything. Instead Xander stared at her while trying to make her words make sense. “You made a wish.”

“Yeah. I was talking to this new girl. Anya. I said it would be nice to be in a world where everything was cooler...where you were more popular.”

He turned his gaze to Giles, who looked like he might be having a revelation, “Giles? Is something like that possible?”

“I'm afraid so...” He paused. “Did you say Anya?” Even as he asked he was diving for a book.

Willow tittered a bit. “What is it?”

“There is a group of demons that grant wishes, led by a demon called D'Hoffryn. Vengeance Demons...though some prefer to be called Justice Demons. The way to end the spell...would require the destruction of her power source.”

Tor spoke for the first time. “Do we have that kind of time?”

“I don't know. It’s unlikely that our counter parts will believe her.”

Xander froze. “They...they wouldn't hurt her...would they?”

“If they don't have the abilities that you lot have...they'll perform tests.”

Buffy carefully put down the book she'd been looking through, a contradiction to the way her shoulders had tensed, “What kind of tests?”

“Some...can be rather uncomfortable...even painful...and a few could be considered a mild form of torture.”

Xander felt his knees give and nearly let the darkness at the edge of his vision take him, he only remained conscious because he caught the familiar smell of smoke and leather...though Spike was a little more smoky as he appeared from the stacks to catch him.

Even as he was a bit singed, probably from the sun outside, Spike lifted him up in a bridal carry and settled into a chair that one of the pack pulled out for him. “Red called me.” He nuzzled at Xander's temple and Xander shuddered, burying his face in Spike's throat. “What's the plan for getting Cordelia back?”

Tor made a motion with his hands. “I can open a portal...with Rhonda's help.”

“Me?”

“You're sisters and your magic comes from the same place. That might be enough of a connection.”

Heidi elbowed him. “The last time you used your magic long distance some of us ended up half drowned in mystical water.”

“This is totally different, but if it makes you feel better we can get Botan to do it.”

Xander took a breath and shook his head, doing his best to keep his voice steady. “She...might not be able to interfere. You know the Fates can be bitches like that.”

“What do you want to do Pet?”

“Whatever it takes to get her back.” Their hands found one another and their fingers twined together. “You might need to stay here. It'll be just as sunny there and you're already singed.”

“Sun's starting to go down. I'll be fine.” Blue eyes focused on him, intense in their seriousness. “I'm not staying here while you run off alone to save our girl.” He gently bumped his forehead against Xander's.

“Tor, do what you need.”

xxx

Willow was setting up ingredients for whatever spell work she and Giles needed for their tests...but Cordelia wasn't sure she liked the look of some of the tools. “What are you doing exactly?”

“Just a few simple spells. I mean you sound legit. But I owe it to the real Cordy to make sure you're not just using her body.”

“This is going to hurt isn't it?”

Willow didn't meet her eyes as she shook her head. “Not at all.”

“Probably.” Everyone glared at Xander who shrugged.

Cordelia glanced at Giles...who was polishing his glasses...but then he did meet her eyes...and there was nothing but Ripper there. Oh shit! “Crap.” She swallowed her panic and concentrated on the ingredients Willow had set out. And sent them flying in every direction.

Willow jumped back. “Whoa!” Buffy and Xander each reached for a weapon.

Giles slipped his glasses into place and stepped forward. “What on Earth?”

“I've got magic too...and you're not doing anything that'll cause brain damage or scar me for life.”

Giles held up his hands in a placating gesture. “The effects are temporary.” She didn't believe him. “I'll admit it’s drastic.”

“What were you going to do? Look in my head against my will?”

“Yes actually.”

“That's...” She shuddered; the others seemed unaffected by his admission. “Giles, that's a kind of rape.” That at least got some wide-eyed expressions. “What is wrong with you people?” Willow seemed shocked at the accusation and Cordelia focused her anger on the red-head. “After you watched your best friend grow up in an abusive home you'd be willing to do this?”

Buffy dropped the dagger she'd picked up at the first sign of Cordelia's magic. “What?”

“Tony Harris...did you know he used to push Xander down the stairs? Just because he could? That he'd lock Xander in the basement for an entire weekend at a time?”

Local Xander made a face. “That never happened.”

“Then I guess my Xander had a shittier childhood than you. God...all of you are so...very messed up.”

xxx

Tor had a salt circle set up. He and Rhonda were sitting on the floor in the middle of it, facing one another, holding hands. Xander, Spike, Alternate Cordy, Heidi and Buffy stepped into the circle when Tor nodded at them. Tor said something in a language none of them understood...and a portal opened.

“You're clear.”

They stepped through, Xander dragging the fake Cordelia behind him. One moment they were in the library, the next they were in an outer corridor, in the shade. Buffy nodded at Heidi.

“Guard the portal.”

“Will do.”

And they headed toward the library...and Spike had been right. The sun was already going down. Still, a few students were lingering in the lengthening shadows. One guy, a jock who's name Xander couldn't remember, shook his head at Cordelia.

“Guess you couldn't do without your loser. Especially since no one wants Xander Harris' leftovers.”

Xander let go of her arm and slammed the guy into the nearest wall. “You ever talk to her like that again and your parents won't have a body to bury...at least not a complete one.” His eyes flashed in the fading light. “Got it?”

“Yeah...sure. Got it.”

“Apologize.”

He gulped. “Sorry Cordelia. Won't happen again.”

Xander nodded. “Damn right it won't. You're not good enough to take out Queen C's trash. Out of my sight.” He shoved the other boy away and he took off running, leaving only the scent of fear in his exit.

Cordelia gulped. “Whoa.”

Spike made an appreciative noise and nodded, slipping closer to Xander to steal a kiss. Buffy grinned at her. “That was nothing. He can actually take me sometimes when we spar.”

“Freaky.”

Xander smirked at her. “Well, I am part demon. Let's go. I've got her scent.”


When they entered the library...and saw Cordelia tied to a chair...another chair floating back and forth in front of her keeping the alternate Scoobies at bay Xander lost it a little. He flew across the room and attacked the other Buffy, subduing her easily. She was weak compared to the Buffy he spared with regularly. The locals stared.

“Buff, keep your alternate in check please.” Buffy nodded and literally sat on the local Buffy. “Thank you.” He glared at the group and they took a step back. “You come near her and I start ripping you apart.” Then he turned to face his Cordy. They stared at each other a moment before he went to her, sinking to his knees and placing his head in her lap. She did her best to curl around him even with her arms still tied in place.

“Why do we end up like this?” She asked. “Buffy fell into a hell dimension in LA. We fell into a dry well and ended up in Japan's feudal era...freaking five-hundred years in the past...and now an alternate reality.”

“Just lucky I guess.” His words were muffled.

“That and the Fates hate you, Mr. Wild Card Prophecy Breaker.”

“Damn titles.”

Spike snorted as he moved closer, untying the ropes that held her in place before he leaned down to kiss her. She smiled up at him. “I'm glad you were there for him.”

“Definitely. You have no idea.” Xander muttered. “I had a brief emotional breakdown.”

Spike leered and reached down to run a hand through Xander's hair. “Caught him before he actually hit the floor.”

Cordelia rolled her eyes and sighed. “Xander...what are you going to do when I move to L.A. for college?”

“Be abso-fucking-lutely miserable...but this was totally different! You were switched with an icky Cordy. A fake Cordy. She's not you.”

“And I reckon I'll be keeping our boy company while you're in LA.” Spike added.

Xander nodded. “Totally. Besides, we'll see you on weekends. You know I'm not giving you up. Ever.” They huddled together for a moment before Xander stood and turned to glare at the local Scoobies and let his eyes glow. “We're exchanging. You can keep yours. Ours is the superior Cordy.”

Spike offered her a hand and gently pulled her to her feet. She grinned and nodded. “Of course I am. Like any alternate in that outfit could compare to me.”

They ignored local Cordelia's indignant complaint and Xander kissed her. “Love you.”

“Even when I call you names?”

“Cor, wouldn't want you any other way.”

Spike wrapped them in his arms and they molded to him willingly. “Bit of insanity.”

“Probably.”

Cordelia flicked their noses gently. “Dorks, both of you.” She sighed heavily. “Can we go home now?”

Buffy finally stood, letting her double up. “Yeah. We left Heidi watching the portal.”

Xander nodded and motioned her to follow as they moved toward the doors. “We should probably head back before Tor gets in trouble for opening said portal...and we don't really want Botan to scold him...or us.”

Giles spoke for the first time, face pale. “Botan? What sort of world are you from?”

They ignored him and Buffy halted their progress. “What about that wish demon, Anya?”

“Anyanka?” This time Giles voice drew their attention.

Local Cordelia nodded, coming forward, “She gave me this.” She took off the necklace she wore and held it out.

Spike examined it, but didn't touch it, “Probably her power center.”

Xander hmmd a bit. “What did our Giles say that Demon's name was? The Boss of the wish demons?”

“D'Hoffryn?” Spike asked.

“That's it.” He nodded and let his eyes glow, let his voice deepen and echo with power, “D'Hoffryn!”

There was a circle of fire and a tall horned demon with bluish skin appeared within the ring. “I was wondering when you were going to contact me your highness.”

Xander snarled at him. “This never happens again. No one takes what's mine, especially not my people. My pack.”

D'Hoffryn nodded, bowed even in apology. “You have my word, Prince Alexander of Makai. I apologize for any undue stress my employee may have caused you and your court. When you return to your world Anyanka will be properly chastised.”

Xander nodded. “Good enough.” D'Hoffryn disappeared, leaving charred tile behind. “Let's go.”

Giles moved forward to protest. “You can't just...”

Xander bared sharp teeth at him. “You were going to hurt her. You don't get a say in this. Come on Buff.”

Buffy waved merrily at them. “When the Alpha speaks it’s better to just nod and agree.” And they left.

The resulting silence in the library was beyond shocked.

Xander gulped. “Uh...that...was different.” Then he grinned. “My alternate is a total badass and still has his hyena powers!”

xxx

They got back through the portal in one piece and apparently just in time because as soon as they were through it disappeared. Rhonda staggered to her feet and just managed to drape herself over Cordy in a parody of a hug, exhaustion making her eyes heavy.

Giles smiled at the scene as he moved closer to help an equally tired Tor clean up the salt. “How did it go?”

Buffy made a face at him. “Not too bad.”

“Oh?”

Cordelia grimaced, but kept her arms around Rhonda who had pretty much passed out. “They were gonna do painful tests on me.”

Xander nodded. “Our alternates suck.”

xxx

That night they had all but collapsed into bed, not bothering with showers...or food. Cordelia was in the middle tucked between them like the treasure she was, Xander on her left, Spike on her right. Kisses and caresses were exchanged tiredly and lazily with a promise of something more frantic in the morning.

Spike was the only one awake when Jessica came in around ten. When she paused in front of the open door of Xander's room he stared at her, brow raised in challenge. She gulped, took in the sight of Xander and Cordelia curled together with him, and nodded before hurrying to her own room for the clothes she needed.

Spike rolled his eyes at the woman's giggling and settled in to watch his lovers until he too drifted off.

XXX

A/N: I've forgotten all the Japanese I used to know. Totally used Google translate. Also, reviews are lifeblood. o^^o

Watashi wa gēmu o purei shite inai yo. – I'm not playing a game.
Kore ga watashi no sekaide wa arimasen. – This is not my world.
Anata no sekai wa orokadesuga, watashi wa sore o sukide wanaito watashi wa ie ni kaeritai. – Your world is stupid, I don't like it and I want to go home.

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