Disclaimer: All Buffy the Vampire Slayer characters are the property of their original owners. Any use of these characters in the following stories is done solely for fun and not for profit. The bulk of the crowning comments delivered at the end of these little tales were created by that late, great, unknown, literary artiste dubbed as Anonymous.
Just after sunset with the merest glimmer of tonight’s full moon being seen in the skies as this glowing orb started to rise from behind Sunnydale’s coastal hills, Xander Harris strolled down a front pathway towards the luxurious mansion which was the destination for two members of the Scooby Gang. Accompany the high school student was Xander’s companion in their latest get-rich-quick scheme.
Beside him sauntered a leashed canine, who was giving their upcoming location distinctly considering looks. These thoughtful glances made by the furry, four-legged beast were also somewhat sleepy in nature, since Daniel Osbourne in his werewolf form was feeling quite mellow from all the veterinary tranquilizers running through the laid-back musician’s bloodstream.
The evening’s caper had started elsewhere much earlier. To be precise, that very morning at Sunnydale High. Dodging through the crowded school corridors during first period, an eager Xander then made a bee-line towards the usual gathering spot for the Scoobies. He arrived at the closed library doors, and paused there for a moment. This gave him the opportunity to catch his breath, tuck today’s edition of the local paper under one arm, and to then casually amble into the book-filled room deserted save for another young man.
To Xander’s delight, the exact guy he’d been looking for was sitting alone at his usual spot at the main library table, placidly strumming on his guitar. Finishing the chord, Oz gave a fractional nod of acceptance at where Xander plunked himself down on the other side of the table.
The teenager with the blue hair would have been content enough with that low-key greeting for his friend, except Xander himself asked, “Any luck with your van since yesterday?”
Oz lifted a shoulder in minimal effort, following this with, “Nope. Mechanic at the repair shop says the engine’s totaled. Needs a new one, or a completely different ride. Serious bucks, either way.”
“Yeah, about that…,” trailed off Xander as he took out from under his arm and brandished the newspaper he’d been carrying in Oz’s direction.
Not sure what Xan was doing but making a guess anyway, Oz interjected, “Already checked the want ads. No part-time jobs available, except working at the Doublemeat Place. Don’t want to, it smells kind of weird in the kitchen there.”
Xander lifted a thoughtful eyebrow at hearing the last. He nevertheless shrugged while opening up and re-folding the newspaper to a specific page. Shoving this edition under Oz’s nose, Xander left the paper there on the table while enthusiastically declaring, “Not that! Check out what’s here! I’m absolutely sure you didn’t see it before!” An indicating forefinger tapped a certain story displayed just above in the middle of the newspaper.
Giving Xander a faintly puzzled look, Oz glanced down to start reading about how somebody had…lost their dog?
His bewilderment growing at every line, Oz then actually had his lips part in surprise at seeing exactly how much this grieving pet owner wanted their little Sweetums back:
“Ten thousand dollars?!”
“Yup!” contributed Xander, grinning from ear to ear. He went on in this same excited mood, “Wanna know what the really good part is?”
Oz just stared at where Xan was actually bouncing up and down with glee in his chair, before hazarding, “You already found the dog?”
Xander’s attitude abruptly shifted from smug eagerness into genuine cynicism. He snorted, “Hellooooo, this is Sunnydale, Oz! That pooch’s already been turned into a tasty stew for some demon’s dinner!” Adding under his breath, Xander muttered, “If it wasn’t probably served raw, that is.”
Oz nodded. “Point. So what, we still go look for the dog anyway?”
“No!” huffed Xander. “The dog’s important, but not like that! Here, take a gander at this!” At his final words, Xander reached across the table to grab and flip over the newspaper, to show what was present on the lower half under the center fold.
This time, Oz had a sincere expression of absolute shock pass over his normally-deadpan face. Disregarding Xander’s sudden snickers, Oz gaped at the picture printed in the newspaper. That studio photograph showed how a champion sheepdog’s owner was posing with his pride and joy, a sleekly-brushed male animal which yet bore a remarkably close approximation resembling a hirsute Mr. Osbourne during his own bad-hair nights.
Finally lifting his disbelieving gaze to where Xander was smirking back at him, Oz numbly heard from his friend, “Here’s the plan: we show up at the rich guy’s house with you in your wolfy shape, he thinks you’re his little puppy who’s been through some rough times, I leave after collecting the reward from him, you hang around there for maybe a hour or so before making a break for it, and when we get together again, we split the loot fifty-fifty!”
Taking a deep, calming breath, Oz clutched at his guitar to next flick a calloused fingertip against a steel string. As the piercing note rang through the library, Oz bit out his exasperated opinion:
Xander rolled his eyes in frustration before snapping back, “Didn’t you notice where the story said that dog lived? It’s Sunnydale’s Millionaire Row, the same spot where Cordy and her well-heeled neighbors use hundred-dollar bills for toilet paper! Ten thousand’s like chicken feed for them!”
Seeing from Oz’s stubborn expression that this argument wasn’t working, Xander tried another line of reasoning. “Look, how about this? We can consider the money an advance on searching for the damn dog. If everything goes right, you’ll get put in the same kennel, or hell, maybe his own bedroom that’s bigger than both our houses combined! This gives you a chance to memorize the dog’s smell, so after you escape, we really try to track him down. Even if we don’t find the critter -- ‘cause like I said, he’s demon chow -- we made a honest effort at the job, so the big bucks are ours fair and square.”
The disapproving twist of Oz’s lips thinned slightly at hearing this. All the same, another note hummed in the air along with a laconic word:
Brightening up at the evidence of his partner in crime beginning to weaken, Xander jerked a thumb over his shoulder towards at where the librarian’s desk was in the large room. “G-man’s got enough snooze juice there to send a whole elephant herd into dreamland. We load you up with it, keeping you all nice and relaxed, and I’ll stash the tranquilizer gun outside the place we visit, just in case of any emergencies. C’mon, man, you can’t say you don’t need the cash!”
After some more moments of silent contemplation during which Xander managed to keep his own mouth shut while Oz thought it over, a last parting shot with musical accompaniment came from the smaller student:
Relaxing in his chair due to knowing he was on the verge of victory, Xander tossed off, “For five grand, I’ll follow through with even dumber stuff than that anytime! It’s not like we’re doing something even more stupid like, gee, going up against vamps and other monsters every night without those cheap Council bastards in England handing over a single penny to any of us risking our lives here! Last chance, Oz. You in or out?”
Instead of replying, the other teenager began playing a sprightly tune on his guitar. When he recognized the song, Xander started guffawing out loud, to then change his mirth into the barking chorus of ‘How Much Is That Doggie In The Window?’: “Arf! Arf!
When the doorbell of his employer’s Sunnydale residence sounded, William Featherstone III sighed in real vexation. This butler (who was also the son and grandson of butlers) had thought with the onset of dusk that his hectic day was finally over. Ever since this morning’s edition of the local newspaper had come out, it’d been one damned reward-seeker after the other showing up at the front door. To make matters worse, all of those greedy, pestiferous people had been dragging along with them various yapping, drooling, pissing, and defecating dogs of all shapes, sizes, colors, et cetera, while tenaciously insisting this
one was the missing animal worth five figures in American currency, and they wanted their money right now!
Unfortunately for all of those rude people, Featherstone had been the one ordered to take care of the original beast in the first place. Which meant that he knew exactly what this same dog had looked like before the canine’s disappearance a week ago. Nonetheless, the butler soon became increasingly irritated at those idiotic interlopers showing up today who refused to accept his word for it. There’d even been actual threats to contact his employer in person and complain to him about this.
*Good luck with that,* mentally snorted Featherstone. Mr. Humphries had left Sunnydale for business reasons the previous day after his press interview, and he wouldn’t be returning for some time. It’d been left to the butler to deal with the consequences of looking over the outrageous claimants for the return of his employer’s pet, all to no avail. By now, Featherstone was truly fed up to his back teeth with the whole ridiculous business, so much that this man responsible for the mansion’s operation had started using a specific curt dismissal for the more absurd applicants, and then on all the rest of them whether it applied or not to these annoyances.
With an actual dangerous glint in his eye, Featherstone marched to the front door, opened it while staying safely well behind the now-ajar portal, gave one disdainful glance at the young man there and his admittedly similar but still completely different animal, and proclaimed to them both before firmly shutting the door into their startled faces:
“When we said we were missing a shaggy dog, we didn’t mean that