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Suiting Up

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Summary: YAHF: Metroid meets the Hellmouth.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Multiple Crossings > Xander-Centered > Pairing: Other HetAnimeRoninFR181779,547123677,6359 Dec 0426 Jul 06Yes

Chapter 9

9/?

AN: Relative point in the season is about SAT time, or just after (April or so)

(One Week Later)

Xander groaned as his back, once again, protested in the extreme with the abuse it was being put through – he’d rather face the Zerg, bare handed, or the entirety of the Jurian fleet with only a half-starved Ryo-ohki than to be where he was … shopping with Willow, Linda and Faith; somehow Oz had managed to wiggle out of the torture he was going through and, in the back of his mind, Xander made a note to sucker punch him once or twice to make up for it even as Willow gushed over a prom dress and Linda held one up to Faith for good measure. He was there strictly for ‘the male point of view’ and to serve as what a male would serve as when in a shopping expedition with more than one female, pack mule; where was the Hellmouth when you needed it?

“Ohmygod, look at this dress!” He groaned slightly from his position outside of the dressing rooms and wanted to cry even as Willow’s voice floated over to where he was, quickly followed by a rustle of cloth as she fought her way through the racks to get to where he was, “Well? What do you think?”

It was an off-the-shoulder monstrosity with ruffles and lace and it was a God-awful pink color, “Two words, Wills – Lady Useless.”

Willow scrunched up her nose at those words and looked down at the dress, as if dredging up the memory, “But … I’d look so good in it!”

He shrugged, “You wanted my unbiased opinion, Wills – if you wanted lip service, go to Oz.” She gave him a smirk and he rolled his eyes, “Okay, bad choice of words, but you know what I mean. Just pick out something that screams … Willow.”

She pouted at that and then sighed, “You mean the meek, old Willow?” He winced – was she having an identity crisis? “I mean, who do you like more, who I used to be … or who Rayne turned me into?”

He took a breath and let it out slowly, “Both, if all’s fair – I like that you have more confidence, that you are more assertive, and that you’re also seeing that there’s more out there in the world than what you knew, but I also miss your … Willow-ness.”

She smiled slightly at that, “You want it both ways, but you know it won’t work.”

He shrugged, “Oh well, I tried. So, is there any way I can get out of this?”

She narrowed her eyes even as Faith and Linda came over, four dresses in hand, “Well, maybe – I found the dress I wanted to wear an hour ago, so I’m passing you off to Linda and Faith.” He gaped at her and she smiled, “What, did you think I was going to let you off that easy?”

“A _hour_ ago? But … that _THING_...”

She nodded and looked at it with a scrunched nose, “You’re right – Lady Useless would have loved it, but it’s not me.” She tossed it back on the rack and picked up a green, slinky number, “Tootles.”

Linda snickered softly behind one of the dresses as he closed his mouth and rubbed the bridge of his nose, Faith speaking up, “Girl’s got a wicked sense of humor on her, Xand – be careful not to get on the wrong side of it.”

“A-firm, Faith. So, those cut the mustard?”

She wrinkled her nose slightly and looked at the four dresses – two of them were classics in red and blue, one in purple that was like Willow’s, kinda slinky, and the last one was in cream and it was a spaghetti strap number that hit the knees … barely, “Cream and Red, yeah, but not Purple or Blue. Which one ya like?”

He didn’t hesitate, “Red.” She arched an eyebrow at him and he smiled unrepentedly, “What? This is probably the one chance outside of your wedding for me to see you in a real dress, so I’m going in whole-hog.”

Linda chuckled even more as Faith narrowed her eyes, “What makes you think I’m getting married?”

He shrugged, “What makes you think that, one day, you’re not going to run into Mister Right and *bam* go off and get hitched?” He saw a moment of pain in her eyes and lost his smile, “Or it could be a long, drawn-out matter that has you having to bash him over the head and demand a marriage proposal one day – who knows?”

Linda got herself under control and spoke up, “And what about yourself, Xander?”

“I’m a confirmed bachelor for the next few years, Linda.”

She gave him a level look even as Faith smirked at the older woman, seeing she had walked right into that one, “I mean about your tuxedo – do you have it?”

He sighed, “I go in for final fittings today at some point and pick out the colors.”

Linda nodded, “Very well – Faith, you go with him and make sure he doesn’t pick out something horrible.” Both of them gave her a level look as she turned away and put all but the red dress up, “Go, quickly – we have much to do today to replace all of the stuff you two broke last week.”

Xander looked at Faith and she nodded, and then they both sighed – this was going to be a LONG day.

(Later)

“So, they’re going together?” Linda looked up to see both Buffy and Willow standing not ten feet from her, both looking alternately between her and the two unconscious teens, Faith and Xander, who had dropped after a measly seven hours of shopping.

Linda nodded, “Yes, they are – I’m not sure how she talked him into it, but Xander agreed to take Faith to the prom.” Willow smiled but Linda was a little shocked to see Buffy frowning, “What’s the matter, Buffy?”

“Huh? Oh, nothing really. I as just curious at why it was that Xander asked her, sort of. I mean, he could have had anyone in school.”

“Or you?” Buffy looked at Willow, scandalized, but Willow didn’t even bat an eye, “What? Did you think that I missed the cow eyes you’ve been giving him for the past few days? Why the sudden interest in him, Buffy? Isn’t he only your ‘Xander-shaped friend’?”

Buffy scowled at Willow for a moment, but quite honestly, Linda was curious about this as well, “Fine, I admit it! He’s cute, and maybe I’ve been looking at him differently for the past few days – so what? I am NOT making cow eyes at him, though, Willow – that’s your job.”

Willow didn’t even miss a beat, “I know – have you SEEN his uniform? It is drool-worthy.”

Buffy smiled slightly, “Yeah, it is, but that’s not the point – I’ve been talking to Angel for the past few days and … and he’s leaving Sunnydale, forever.” Linda wanted to break out into a dance of joy – she had heard what Angelus had done over his time in Sunnydale and, personally, wanted to stake him so that kind of evil could never return. “I mean, all I’ve ever wanted was a normal boyfriend – yeah, going after Angel and everything was a HUGE mistake, I can admit that now, but … but now I just want someone who is normal, and Xander fits the bill … sort of.”

Linda couldn’t help but snort, “There’s nothing normal about Xander, Buffy – he fights vampires in a suit that is straight out of science fiction and video games, he has new powers granted to him by a Power that interact with some sort of water that a Goddess gave him to extend his life, so he could go with her cause. That’s about as ‘abnormal’ as a human can be and still walk in daylight.”

Buffy gave her a long, steady look before sighing in defeat, “I know.”

“And then there’s the fact that he may not even be in this dimension after Graduation.” Willow sat down on the edge of the table and looked over at Xander’s position, where Faith was leaning on him and snoring softly, “Chances are that he’ll never come back, and add on top of that we’ll all be dead and gone long before he even hits his prime.”

“And that’s if we actually stop the Mayor’s planned ascendance to demonhood – sure, the FBI is getting closer to him, but we still don’t know if he’ll be able to do it.” Linda sat down in a chair at her kitchen table and idly began to polish some of the silver service that she had conned Xander into buying – it wasn’t like he was hurting for money with the millions he was making off of computer software companies and stock he held in them, and when she proposed buying the silver, the look he had given her told her he knew exactly what she was doing, milking the cow for everything it was worth.

Willow nodded, “Yeah, Giles said that they’re closing in on him, but he’s coving his tracks and making money and people disappear like Houdini.”

“A problem that’s easily rectified,” Linda and Buffy both jumped but Willow didn’t appear the least bit surprised when Xander spoke up, though softly as if in hopes of not waking Faith. He craned his neck and smiled slightly, “Can’t you just lock onto someone with a scrying spell and *poof*, if they go somewhere, you have them?”

Willow, once she stopped smiling, shook her head, “No, not with him being as powerful of a wizard as he is.”

“Okay, so how about we tip the Feds off again and they start digging around into the ‘Missing Persons’ files? I mean, have you SEEN those?” He slowly got up and put Faith down gently, padding her head with a pillow before walking over, stretching as he did, “That should be more than enough to get a few eyebrows raised.”

Linda nodded and, as she did, noticed that Buffy was not only blushing as red as a tomato, but also trying to not swallow her tongue, “Yes, it would, but all of those have been explained away.”

Xander frowned, “And the empty graves? Not even Egypt has had as many ‘grave robberies’ as we have.”

Linda looked at Willow, who frowned, “That’s stretching it.”

He huffed and crossed his arms petulantly, “Are you sure I can’t just gut him like a fish?” The looks they all gave him silenced his whining and Linda went back to polishing her silverware.

(Next Day - Summers Residence)

She looked at her dress, one that Willow had said she had found her for the day before while shopping with Faith and Linda, and while she had to admit that it was pretty, it reminded her far too much of ‘Lady Useless’, as both Willow and Xander were both adamant about calling her Halloween persona – she’d worn that getup to get Angel to notice her, to ask her out, and look where that had gotten her, having to deal with Angelus, having Xander lie to her, sending Angel to hell, all of it. Frankly, she wanted to burn the damned thing, but with a much as she had rented it for, she wasn’t going to do that.

She looked in the mirror and sighed as she came face to face with ‘herself’, “So, Buffy, are you going to admit it?”

She then switched to a slightly higher voice, “Admit what, Buffy?”

Again, she switched into ‘Buffy-Real’ voice, “That you’re falling for your best guy friend who wants nothing to do with you?”

‘Buffy-Fake’ smirked back, “What, like you did a two years ago? When you were mooning over Angel and completely ignoring Xander? Yep, I’ll admit it.”

“And why choose _now_ to have these feelings?”

“Because you and I both know he won’t be here much longer, that he’s going into that other reality and staying there for as long as he’s needed.”

She hated it when ‘she’ was right, “But why can’t he stay here?”

“Because he’s bound to my cause, my mentally unstable Slayer,” she jerked and watched as her reflection morphed into a beautiful blue-haired woman with red eyes and two dots on her forehead.

“And you are?”

“The Goddess, Tsunami, but please, call me Lady Tsunami.”

“Why can’t I call you Sue?”

Tsunami’s eyes narrowed, “Because only Xander can get away with that, and even then only rarely.”

Buffy gulped even as her Slayer Senses began to go haywire, “Gotcha. So, why the personal visit? Or am I losing what’s left of my mind?”

“Well, I’m not one to render psychological advice, but when you’re holding an active conversation with yourself in the mirror and losing, that’s generally a bad sign. Other than that, I needed to have a few words with you, Slayer.”

“Shoot.”

“I would if I could,” Tsunami ground out, but then schooled her expression into a careful mask. “Now, I pose the same question to you – why wait until now for you to have these thoughts about Xander? Surely you’re not blind, that he’s always been there for you.”

Buffy nodded, “Yes, I know he was, but he was too much of a geek back then.”

Tsunami arched an eyebrow at her, “Is that all that was wrong?”

“No, another thing is that … he reminded me of Pike, a friend, and … that’s all I ever saw him as. Once I get these people into boxes in my mind, I like to keep them there.”

“And you don’t like it when they decided that they don’t like that box, so they break out of it?”

She nodded, “Right.”

Tsunami rolled her eyes at her, “Child, that’s a bunch of cabbit cookies and you know it. Xander doesn’t fit into just ‘one’ box – he’s an entire warehouse, if you take time to look.”

Buffy arched an eyebrow, “’Cabbit cookies’?”

Tsunami shrugged, “Blame Sasami, but it still remains – did you not bother to look past his mask to see the beautiful, strong, loyal man there under the comic relief?”

Buffy winced at the slightly scathing tone, “Not until it was too late, when he threatened to kill me start of junior year.” She frowned, “Wait a second – how do you know all this about him?”

Tsunami blushed lightly, “He has partaken of the Water of Life, which gives him a mental bond with me, so I can read some of his less private memories, but also he’s told me a few things, I’ve guessed a few others and even rewound time for a second to see others.”

Buffy blinked, “And why such an interest in Xander?”

“You’re not the first to ask me that, but I’ll only tell you that he intrigues me, and that’s not easy to do – Tenchi, in fact, is the only other male in a few thousand years to do that, but that’s been played out with Ayeka and Ryoko.”

Buffy winced, “Is he a glutton for punishment, or something?”

Tsunami shrugged, “Not really – he loves them both.”

“I always kind of saw him with Sasami.”

Tsunami shook her head, “No, she only sees him as a brother-figure, much like Xander sees you and Willow as sister-figures. Truth to tell, though, I’m not sure what’s going on in her mind half of the time, except that she likes hanging around with Xander when she can.”

With as much flak as she’d taken from everyone about the age differences between her and Angel, it wasn’t too surprising when Buffy spoke flatly, “Two words: Jail Bait.”

Tsunami gave her a flat look, “Not like that – she likes that he treats her like a person, not a princess, and while their might me something else there, she knows he’s still hung up on Mihoshi, so she’s not going to try anything for a few years now.” Buffy weighed the words, but also took note of the look in Tsunami’s eyes – she had a thing for Xander, too, but on what level was that thing?

“So, are we done?”

Tsunami shook her head, “Not quite, Slayer – what _were_ you thinking when you rented that … thing?” She scrunched her nose up and looked at her prom dress, “I mean, isn’t that … tacky?”

Buffy growled – Goddess or not, nobody dissed her dress.

AN: Okay, enough with the light-hearted stuff - one more chapter, I have decided, is going to be it. What do you think? R&R, AR.
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