See – two chapters at once! I know they are always a bit small, but I’m trying! All reviews greatly appreciated.
“Buff. Hey. Buffster. BUFFY!”
Someone was shaking her.
“Wha…whatsup…eeuhh. Xander? What are you doing?”
Her shaggy haired friend looked relieved and quickly removed his hands from her shoulders at her bewildered look, backing up a bit and giving her the space and time to fully wake up. Confused, she quickly scanned her surroundings.
She was in the main living room of the Cleveland building and the light that was starting to seep through the windows was that early dawn half light that she hardly ever saw, due to her habit of late nights and equally late mornings. And it was cold. Pulling her arms in she tucked her hands under her armpits and frowned as she encountered bare skin. No wonder she was cold! For some reason she was wandering around outside her bedroom and her mini Cleveland apartment in just her pyjamas. And not her cute flannelette ones with the little vampire bats on them either (willow had bought her them for a birthday, a few years ago) but the little cotton summer set with the spaghetti strap top and the short shorts. Which unfortunately didn’t exactly provide much warmth. She glanced up at Xander and saw that he had determinedly fixed his gaze on a point just beyond her shoulder and that his cheeks were a definite shade of pink. For a moment the corners of her mouth twitched and she was tempted to tease him a little. After all living with sixteen hormonally challenged teenage girls had built up his blush reflex quite a bit higher than most normal 20 something males but sometimes just the littlest comment or a glimpse of skin from her or Faith still had the power to reduce him to the 15 year he had been when they had first met.
But it was too early, and too cold to play. And Xander was still too good a friend, despite everything, to tease. Grabbing the throw from the couch she wrapped it around her like a cocoon, burying into the warmth and looking up to meet her friend’s relieved stare.
“Xander – what just happened?” She cocked his head as he reached up to brush the hair back from his eye, rubbing his forehead in the way he only did when he was worried or concerned. Usually about her it had to be admitted.
“I don’t know Buff. I woke up a few minutes ago. You must have accidentally tripped the silent burglar alarm.”
She considered this, faintly surprised. “Huh. The one that goes off in your room, right?”
He nodded. “Right. And then I heard some noise and I knew that you and the girls had crashed ages ago, so I…”
She eyed the axe lying discarded on the floor by his leg. “So you decided to grab that and come and check it out?” She raised an amused eyebrow at him and he shrugged sheepishly.
“Well I knew you’d had a rough night and I didn’t want to wake you. Didn’t think it would be much, ‘cause Willow’s monster wards haven’t gone off. Thought at most it would be a burglar and not many burglars are going to stay if someone threatens them with a giant axe.”
She could see the logic, but there was a giant gaping hole in the middle of it. “Some burglars have guns, Xan,” she reminded him softly. “The axe probably wouldn’t have stopped you from getting shot.”
He nodded, acknowledging her point but not wanting to dwell on might have beens. “Well, when I got here you were standing beside the door and kind of fumbling with it, as though you wanted to get out and couldn’t remember how to do it. Thankfully you didn’t seem to remember that you could just rip the door off its hinges, ‘cause I really didn’t want to have to start building a new door at four o’clock in the morning.”
She smirked a little at that, returning his wry grin and wrapping her make shift robe closer around her shoulders.
“Then when I asked you what you were doing you just kind of stared straight through me and started muttering.”
Xander scratched his eyebrow as he concentrated. “I don’t know, something like Chaptereye, or Chaperaye. It was weird. Definitely not something I’ve heard before. Dawn might know.”
Buffy nodded in agreement. These days her little sister was giving Giles a run for his money in finding and learning ever more obscure languages and bizarre ancient dialects. She had even taken to swearing in lesser T’orkorian, one of the weirder demon languages because she enjoyed the way it made her sound, like a cat trying to cough up a giant hairball. Sometimes Buffy wondered if Dawn had embraced all things watcher like a little too much.
“Then you started to kick the door and I started to worry that I was going to have to build a new door again anyway so that’s when I shook you.”
Which was, he didn’t need to mention, an exceptionally brave, although rash thing to do with a semi conscious fully combat ready, hyper-reflexed slayer like her. He was lucky she hadn’t automatically backhanded him into a wall.
“So what were you doing down here, Buffster? Any ideas?”
She met his gaze with a matching frown as she searched her memory for any trace of the actions he had described and then slowly shook her head and looked away, her frown deepening. “I don’t know. The last thing I remember is collapsing into bed after patrol. I don’t know how I got here or what I was doing or anything else that you mentioned.” Her frown deepened and a hint of fear slipped into mint green eyes. How could she not remember? She had never sleepwalked before in her life. What if she was actually going nuts, like the doctors had said she was, all those years ago?
She met his eye again and the trace of fear in her gaze made his stomach clench. Nothing frightened Buffy anymore, and the fact that this did meant it was something both of them were going to have to take very, very seriously.
“Xander, what’s happening to me? Why can’t I remember?”
Moving closer he slipped a comforting arm around her shoulders and pulled her into a shallow hug, both of them forgetting for a moment the seemingly insurmountable issues between them that had in the last few years reduced such affectionate moments to few and far between. Pressing his lips to the crown of her head he tried to protect confidence even as his heart quailed within him at the possible issues that might arise from this incident. Because if what had just happened was only the first symptom of some more deadly malaise, one that could take the senior slayer the way it had taken her mom he didn’t know if any of them could stand it.
“I don’t know, Buff. But we’ll figure it out together. We always do.”
But for Buffy, standing shivering under his arm, his words rang hollow. Together was a concept that she had lost faith in, a long time ago.