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This story is No. 2 in the series "Sunnydale Reloaded". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: Second in my ‘Sunnydale Reloaded’ series

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Movies > Matrix, TheGreywizardFR13416,28803421,19226 Oct 041 Feb 11No


23 Gregory Circle
Glenside Estates
Sunnydale, CA

"Wow, Xander, this place is fantastic!"

"Yeah, Xand. Will's right, this place is great!" Buffy stated with admiration as she, along with Willow, Giles and Jenny Calendar were admitted by Xander and Cordy into the large, Tudor-style house he had informed them he was moving into. "And it's all yours? You're not sharing this place with anyone?"

"You mean, with anyone aside from the bank, Buff? No, not at the moment," Xander replied as he shook his head in the negative, although both the Slayer and Willow noticed the quick glance he and Cordy had shared before he'd answered her question and the way they'd grinned knowingly at each other.

"I apologize if I seem intrusive, Xander, but I, I can't help wondering how you can possibly manage to afford to rent a place like – this," Giles said in a semi-apologetic tone of voice. "I would hate to see you putting yourself into the type of debt that the expense of maintaining a place like this would undoubtedly entail. Especially since you've also informed us that you've decided to move out of your parents' house.

"I have a second bedroom in my flat that you are more than welcome to make use of, if you feel that you are no longer comfortable staying with your parents," the Watcher noted with an earnest expression on his face.

"Thanks for the offer, Giles. I really do appreciate it," the other male Scooby smiled with gratitude upon hearing their mentor's words, "but I'm not renting this place." The grin became a smirk.

"I bought it."

The brunet's calm declaration set off a veritable explosion of astonished and excited comments and questions, and it took Xander and Cordy several moments to calm their companions down sufficiently that they could answer the seemingly innumerable demands for explanations coming from the others.

The revelation that not only was their legally emancipated friend actually *buying* the house they were all currently standing in, but that he was actually in a secure enough position financially to do so left the three other members of the Scooby Gang clamoring their questions loudly enough to wake the dead.

Since this was Sunnydale and the home of the Hellmouth, however, that really wasn't very difficult to do and hardly an apt comparison.

It took only a few moments for things to settle down sufficiently for Xander and Cordy to inform the other Scoobies of the duo's having used the services of one of Cordy's father's lawyers to set themselves up as a computer consultancy and software development limited partnership, with plans to sell several of the more sophisticated programs previously developed by Neo and Trinity that they could recall from their Hell-o-ween memories.

That they had already established a tentative agreement with one of the major software security software companies was enough to leave Giles staring in stunned surprise at the facility with business shown by two of his adopted brood.

"Yeah, Giles, not only has Nebuchadnezzar Enterprises signed contracts with one of the older and more established financial software companies to provide them with a completely new type of algorithm for their programs which could track stocks and make recommendations on buying or selling based on the stock's past performance that's at least nine percent better than what they're using now," Cordy informed their stunned mentor, "we're also currently in negotiations with UCLA's school of architecture to have them start testing and evaluating some architectural design and urban planning programs we've written."

"Are, are these programs you've designed derived from that stuff you said you could remember from your being Neo and Trinity a few weeks ago?" Willow asked after a brief moment of consideration of what they'd just heard.

"Yep," Xander nodded as he gazed approvingly at his oldest friend. "Since Neo and Trinity were both programmers in their normal lives before they joined the resistance, Cordy and I figured that we might as well use as much of what they knew to help make things here as easy as we can when it comes to fighting vamps and the other things we run up against, and I don't think you can ever have too much money available to help make things run smoother," he noted as Cordy merely nodded her head in agreement.

"Yeah, you see, we've also been doing some day trading, using some money from my trust fund and the money we've taken from the vamps we’ve been dusting," the statuesque brunette added, in the interests of full disclosure.

"Are you sure that that's wise, Cordelia?" Giles inquired, a concerned frown on his face as he spoke. "From what I understand, such an undertaking can be extremely problematic as far as any financial remuneration is concerned, and you run the risk of losing everything you might have invested in such an undertaking."

"Thanks, and we really appreciate your concern, Giles, but you've got nothing to worry about, as far as that's concerned," Cordelia reassured their mentor with one of her brilliant smiles. "We've got several programs that our other selves developed which are running the various day trading operations we've set up, and we've already returned the seed money I borrowed from my trust fund, along with an appropriate amount of interest.

"As far as the SEC and the IRS are concerned, each of our companies is an entirely separate and completely independent operation run by different branches established by the mother corporation," she elaborated, "and all taxes or other financial obligations are all being handled automatically by the accounting programs we've got running. All we have to do is look over the results every day or so, to make sure that we don't want to adjust any of the basic parameters we set up, and we're good."

"And just so you won't be too surprised the next time when you get around to checking your bank accounts," Xander chimed in with an even wider grin, "all four of you guys are listed as employees and stock holders of Nebuchadnezzar Enterprises and your salaries are being automatically deposited and split equally, at least at this point in time, between the savings and checking accounts we set up for you guys."

Upon seeing their wide-eyed, open-mouthed reactions to that news, Xander gleefully continued on to the next part of their announcement with a wide grin.

"Seriously! Giles, you're listed as one of our international consultants and you're a research consultant, Ms. Calendar, and Wills, you and Buffy are both listed as part-time employees who are working for us in an intern program," he announced, taking the time to look each one of their friends in the eyes.

"And before you guys say anything," Cordy interjected, holding up her hand to stay their friends' instinctive protests, "Let me tell you that we're getting some very nice tax breaks for all of our branches from both the state and the city governments by setting up the intern program you were hired under, so it's not really costing us anything to pay you guys, okay? In fact, we’d be *losing* money if that intern program was shut down!!

"And since Xander told me about him hearing you complaining to Giles about the costs of having to replace some of your stuff that got stained or messed up by demon ichor last month, Buffy, and his telling you that the Council wouldn't give you any sort of expense money to replace them," Cordelia added as she turned to address the petite blonde, "we figured that you could use the money you're getting to take care of that problem.

"We also figured that you could use your share to get yourself a new laptop and pay for an upgraded cable connection at your house, Willow," the statuesque brunette went on, turning to look at the redhead. "Because you know that, sooner or later, the Troll is gonna start complaining about you using the library computer and all of us hanging around the library all the time, and this way, we can all be sure that you'll be able to do any research you might be working on in a safe place – because the school definitely doesn't count as any kind of home as far as vampires are concerned, regardless of how much time we might spend there, remember," Cordelia said earnestly, earning a nod of agreement and acknowledgement from Giles at her observation.

Both girls' mouths closed upon hearing Cordy's explanations, their protests at what they had originally considered to be charity fading away when faced with the logic behind the decisions.

"When you put it that way, Cordy, it – does make a lot of sense," Buffy spoke first.

"So, thank you, guys," she added, moving in and giving each of the dark-clothed pair a hug, with Willow mirroring her actions a moment later.

"I really don't know what I'd do without all the support you've been giving me – even before you did this," Buffy smiled and waved her hand vaguely in an all-encompassing gesture, her blue-green eyes blinking rapidly as she tried to hold back her tears.

"I told you when we first started all of this stuff, I'd always be there for you, Buff," Xander smiled down affectionately at his friend as he hugged her to his chest.

"If a paycheck can help you take care of the little things, so that you can focus on the bigger things – like saving the world – we're all too glad we can help out, Buffy," Cordelia added with an equally pleased smile as she looked at all of her friends.

{ And they really *are* my friends, } the svelte young woman thought to herself as she listened to her lover offer to take the group on a short tour of their house. { They care about *me*. Not whether or not my clothes have Versace or Armani labels, or whether Daddy has enough money to buy and sell their families outright. }

{ I can trust them not to screw me over for the any possible advantage they might think they could get, } she reflected. { My secrets… my hopes... my dreams… my life. }

{ I can trust them with anything I have. And they trust me the same way. }

Cordelia had to pause as all of the implications of that particular thought hit her, and she sat there bemusedly, a bit stunned as the full significance of her new relationships finally hit her.

"Hey, you okay, babe?" she heard Xander asking, and Cordy blinked a couple times as she took in the concerned expression on his face as he looked at her. "Is everything all right?"

"Everything's great, doofus," she beamed up at him, blinking away the little bit of excess moisture that was blurring her vision.

Standing up and locking her arms around her boyfriend's neck, she gazed lovingly over Xander's shoulder at the family she'd realized she'd finally found and told him, "No, lemme rephrase that.

"Everything's just perfect, darling."


Sunnydale High School

The following day

"Hey, Summers!"

"Hey, Ford," the blonde Slayer nodded acknowledgment of her old friend's greeting as she turned to look back over her shoulder at her approaching classmate.

"I had a really cool time last night," Fordham declared with a wide smile. "Well, a really interesting one, at least," he amended his statement as Buffy raised one eyebrow and stared at the bandage on his neck, courtesy of the Slayage at the school the previous night.

"Glad to hear that," Buffy replied, her arms crossed over her chest.

"Do you have any plans for tonight you can't put off for a little while?" Ford asked.

"Nothing at the moment," the Slayer shrugged, apparently indifferently.

"I've got something I need to do tonight and I'd really appreciate it if you could help me out with it," Ford said, a hopeful expression on his face as he spoke.

"It's not something I really wanna talk about, here at school," he added, "but I'll tell you all about it later, okay?"

"Okay. You’ve gotten me curious, if nothing else," Buffy half-smiled at him.

"So, how about meeting me here about eight o'clock tonight, that okay with you?"

"That works for me."

"Great," Ford smiled, a bit wider this time. "I really appreciate this, Summers."


"…okay, look, Ford's here, so I'll talk to you guys later, okay?" Ford could hear Buffy saying as he joined her in front of the school.

"Okay, later, then," she nodded reflexively before closing her phone and sliding it into her pocket.

"So, Ford, what's this mysterious mission you need my help with?" she asked as she fell into step with him and they headed away from the school.

"Like I said earlier, I really appreciate your helping me out with this, Summers," her old Hemery High classmate said as he and the petite Slayer began strolling down one of Sunnydale's semi-deserted streets.

"Look, I'm sure you're gonna find this really hard to understand," he went on, glancing somewhat nervously at his companion as they walked, "what with you being the Slayer and everything, but there are some people out there who think vampires are really cool, and they sort of admire and look up to them.

"An old friend of mine from grade school – used to call herself Sister Sunshine last year, but she's calling herself Chantarelle now," Ford noted parenthetically, "she called me when she heard I was in town here, and told me about this group she's been hanging with, lately, and they're some of these type of people I was just telling you about – you know, the kind who think vampires are some kind of supernaturally exalted beings."

"And you're telling me all this, why?" Buffy asked, turning her head to give him a narrow-eyed frown.

"Well, 'cause I was kinda hoping that you could maybe talk to them and make them see that they're – crazy, maybe?" Ford answered, his tone of voice combining a little bit of both sarcasm and hope.

"Come on, Summers, please," Billy added, immediately turning back to look at her when he realized that Buffy had stopped and was staring at him with disbelief and astonishment.

"I need your help," he told her, a pleading expression on his face as he looked at her.

"Frannie – well, her real name was Francine, I used to call her Frannie before she decided to start changing her name every six months," Ford clarified his words, "she's a real nice girl, but she's got a lot of problems with her family and other stuff right now, and she’s somehow got this idea in her head that if she can talk a vampire into turning her, then all of her problems will be solved and everything will be okay.

"I was hoping that if you show up with me, you could help me make her and the rest of those people see the truth – what with you being the official Vampire Slayer and everything," Ford elaborated, trying to ignore the incredulous look on Buffy's face.

"Are you seriously expecting that people who think that vamps are really some sort of bloodsucking angels are actually gonna listen to *me*, Ford?" Buffy snorted derisively, recalling what Xander, Willow and Cordelia had told her about the patrons of the Sunset Club. "If they really think that vampires are the best thing since sliced bread, and *if* I could make 'em believe I am what I say I am, then they'd probably start looking to shoot me or something!

"I've got enough problems trying to keep vamps from killing the people who *don't* want to get bitten," she said scornfully, giving him an irritated look.

"Please, Buffy, do this as a favor to me and I'll be grateful to you for the rest of my life!" Ford said, a desperate expression on his face.

"If you want, I'll get down on my knees and beg you to do it, but I really, really need your help with this, Buffy," he said frantically, matching his actions to his words and dropping to his knees in front of her.

"I don't want to see Frannie throw her life away like this," Ford said, looking up at Buffy's petite form with an expression of complete sincerity.

Staring at her old friend, Buffy was surprised at just how heartfelt and intense his words seemed, and she couldn't find it in her to even consider refusing.

"Okay, fine, Galahad, get up," Buffy sighed as she unenthusiastically acquiesced to her former crush’s pleas. She'd had a vague, quickly passing idea earlier of asking Angel to come along to show the club members what vampires were really like, but she'd shelved the notion almost immediately – Angel’s lies about encountering Drusilla the other night still made it hard for Buffy to trust him completely.

"I’ll come and help you rescue the fair damsel from her own stupidity. And you are *so* gonna owe me for this, especially if any of those bozos start comparing me to Adolf Hitler or whoever!" the Slayer said grouchily.


Spike and Drusilla's lair
An abandoned warehouse

"All right now, everyone pay attention," Spike growled, immediately focusing his minions' notice on him.

"We've got a nice thing all set up 'ere for us, so I don't want anyone buggering things up and possibly letting any of our nummy treats get away, mind me?" he announced.

"These bleedin' idiots are thinking that we're all some sort of glorious holy-roller types who are gonna help them attain a 'higher plane of existence,' so until I give the word, I don’t want anyone biting any of the stupid gits – at all!" he instructed.

"We all walk in, all calm and smiling and once we make sure that no one's left any doors or windows open and unlocked, then we'll start feeding," Spike said firmly.

"Anyone cocks this up, I'll bloody well dust them myself. Any questions?"

Not seeing anyone make any sort of motions, the Cockney-accented vampire smiled and nodded.

"All right then. Let's go."


The End?

You have reached the end of "Lies And Other Games We Play" – so far. This story is incomplete and the last chapter was posted on 1 Feb 11.

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