AN: Only a little possible Buffy bashing in this part – kinda borderline on if it’s bashing, so call it as it is.
AN2: Alright, had a few complaints about the first part being disjointed - okay, I can respect that, but remember, the first act is always a little weird in a new fic. All I'm asking is to give this one a chance to flow and build.
(Start S3 – Sunnydale Library)
She walked into the library, tired, worn and completely ready for her nightmare of a summer to be over, but that nightmare was one of her own making – she had forced herself to do what was necessary after the ensouling spell didn’t hit Angelus, but rather it had failed after Willow had told her she was going to try it again, and by the time that had registered, that she was not going to get her Angel back, it was already too late, so she sent him to hell. After that she had run away to the one place that she knew, the one place that she could just … just fade away, LA, but that in and of itself wasn’t as easy as she remembered as her Slayer powers and her senses had made it all but impossible for her to just forget who she was – she’d finally gotten a job as a waitress under the name ‘Anne’, but then there was the whole cult thing she’d found, where the street kids were pulled into a demonic other realm to work as slaves for only days on Earth, but decades in the other realm. It was then that she realized that, if she ran for forever, she would never outrun her destiny as a Vampire Slayer – as much as it sucked, she was stuck with it until she died … again.
It was then that she heard a sound that she wasn’t too rusty to forget about – it was a sound that meant that a sword had just hit another sword, and that two people were sparring: had Kendra’s replacement already show up? She peeked around the corner of the nearest book shelf and saw a woman in black swinging a sword … at Xander? Buffy started to move forwards to attack the woman and protect Xander, but Xander dodged the blow and returned one of his own, which the woman blocked, and that went on for nearly ten minutes … but Buffy didn’t notice – Xander was dressed in a pair of loose running pants, barefoot, and wearing a ‘wife beater’ shirt that showed off a strong back and a pair of arms that were filled to the brim with lean, hard whipcord muscle, like that of a swimmer, but also the amount of sweat he was sweating had made his shirt wet and let her see the muscle there as well. She felt her heart rate pick up slightly even as the pair continued to dance their little dance – they were both smiling as they slashed, parried, thrust and blocked, but more to the point, the woman was also playing with Xander.
“Come on, Alex, surely you can do better with your weapon.” The couched innuendo brought a touch of warmth to Buffy’s cheeks as she studied the woman – she wasn’t tall, only about five and a half feet tall or so, but she had a graceful form and a body of an action-ready person, someone who practiced often and was good at what they did. Her skin was pale, her features refined and her hair was in a long bob, but obviously bleached as her eyebrows and the slight show of dark roots proved, but in her outfit, she pulled it off even as she thrust forward with her rapier.
Xander blocked the strike with a push to the side and then pulled it up and around, until his own sword, a rapier itself, was to his side and the woman’s right arm was across her body, pointed to her left, “Why Mandy, you weren’t saying that last night.” His tone was teasing, even as his eyes were obscured by long hair that, for some reason, Buffy found herself wanting to go and comb back with her fingers, but there was also a healthy tone of flirting in his voice as well.
‘Mandy’ smirked, “I’m too much woman for you, kid, and I always will be.”
Xander smirked right back, “Then why is it that you’ve ‘accidentally’ walked in on me in the shower seven times in the past month? I keep telling you, if you want to look and touch, all you have to do is ask.” With a flick of his wrist and another push, the woman’s rapier went sailing and Xander pulled back, “I do believe this means that you buy dinner tonight, Amanda.”
‘Amanda’ narrowed her eyes and pouted, “Are you sure that Ripper never taught you anything about swordplay?”
Xander, however, just snorted in disgust, “No – Willow was worth the effort to teach something to, apparently, but me? No,” he drawled, taking up a rag as they both made their way to a table with stuff on it, “not me – never mind all the shit I’ve kept from them, or the things I’ve done and killed to keep them alive they’ll never know about. Though, to be fair, they are all stuck in the Middle Ages – I prefer to use things like, you know, guns and explosives to kill my vampires.” Buffy felt her eyes widen at this remark even as he began to clean the blade and then as he ran a stone over the front few inches of the blade, “Nope, they like their dangerous methods, so let them have it.”
Amanda smirked, “Dangerous?”
He shrugged, “Why get close? I use napalm, gaseous holy water, ammonium perchlorate, Willy Pete, hell, even hollow point rounds to the joints to slow them down or take them out – God forbid I get hurt, after all.”
Amanda’s voice sounded darkly amused to Buffy’s ears as she tutted, “Be nice, Alex – it’s not their fault we all can’t be Slayers.”
“Thank God – I’d be public enemy number one by the time I got out of California!” Buffy felt her heart hitch slightly even as he finished sharpening his blade and ran a few other things over it, mostly what smelled to be oil of some kind, his face a mixture of disgust and relief, “I mean, can you think of how many people would be killed if all of the possible Slayers could become a Slayer? Could you imagine if the school loser, picked on by everyone and their dog, was suddenly given the power to do whatever she wanted? She’d fucking slaughter them all in a week!”
“True,” Amanda conceded even as she winced at his choice of words and finished her blade and unzipped her top and took it off to reveal a soaked t-shirt over a sports bra and a hard, but sexy, body. “Still, you have an advantage over all of them that they can never have.”
“My dashing good looks, rapier-like wit and the fact that I’m being taught by a goddess of an Immortal thief?” Buffy blinked at the list things, and the confidence behind it, but more so at the ‘immortal’ comment than the ‘thief’ bit.
Amanda smirked at him, “Comments like that will have me practicing the more … dexterous … aspects of the Kama Sutra on you, Alex. No, I was talking about our gift and our curse.”
Xander snorted, “Please, being Immoral is nothing to use such a monumental Spiderman quote on.”
Amanda leveled a level look at Xander, “But it’s true enough – what would you do if she were like us?”
Xander shivered, “We’d kill each other, eventually, or I would be forced to start moving every few months for the next decade until she finally lost me. I tell ya, sometimes she just can’t take a hint.”
By this point, Buffy had heard enough to snap out of her trance and she stepped out, “I’m not that bad.”
Amanda looked more than a little surprised to her being there, but Xander didn’t even bat an eye, “Then why are Kendra and all of Angelus’ victims dead? You would try to rationalize what it is to be an Immortal as you have with being a Vampire Slayer and it would get a lot of people you care about very dead if you meet the right Immortal sicko who would use them against you. Trust me, I know.”
Buffy felt her temper starting to flare, “What do you mean?”
Xander just snorted, blowing off her ire, “What I mean is if we’d done things the right way, instead of your way, they all might still be alive – Kendra, Theresa, all of them. But no, we listened and did things your way … and they’re all dead.” His tone was beyond disgusted and Buffy felt more than a little hurt even as the Library doors opened and Giles, Willow and her mother came into the room – what hurt most, though, was that in the back of her mind, she knew he was right.
“Buffy?” She turned and looked at her mother, who had tears in her eyes and a few more lines on her face even as she and Willow rushed forwards, Giles being too busy cleaning his glasses to do anything.
It took several minutes for Willow and her mother to let go, but eventually she was able to get them off of her and then the questions began to barrage in from mostly all sides, but she was more than a little put out that Xander had completely blow her off in favor of going back to work with the woman, Amanda, only now not with swords, but instead with their hands and feet.
“Where have you been, young lady?” She looked at Giles and felt almost as if she were being called down by her dad, Hank, over getting into his top drawer and looking at the magazines with the funny pictures of naked people.
“Um, LA?” She winced as both Giles and her mom began to puff up for what appeared to be a monumental ass-chewing, but she forestalled them with raising her hands, “Look, I know, I shouldn’t have run away … but I needed time. I mean, I had just sent Angel to hell.”
“Angelus,” Willow corrected almost automatically. “I’m sorry, Buffy, but you sent Angelus to hell – some other vampire got their soul back for some reason that we can’t figure out.”
Buffy nodded, having already guessed this, “Who?”
Willow shrugged, “I don’t know.”
Giles spoke up then even as Cordelia, Jenny and Oz walk through the door, though not looking convinced at all at her explanation, “Buffy, we’ve been worried sick about you. How could you have been so … selfish as to not at least call us to let you know you were okay?”
“You didn’t need me, Giles, and I needed time alone.”
Giles snorted, “Trust me, child, we did need you, if for nothing else than for your senses and your mere presence.”
“Rupert!” Her mother had that tone in her voice and, for a few seconds, Buffy didn’t envy Giles at all, “I know what Buffy did was … ill advised, but that’s not reason to berate her like that.”
Giles just snorted again even as Xander and Amanda went at each other even quicker, flesh and bone meeting flesh and bone, “Joyce, unless I am forgetting something, if Buffy had been here you would not have been kidnapped.”
Buffy jerked her head at him, “Kidnapped? By who?”
“It doesn’t matter anymore, Buffy,” her mother said soothingly while sending Giles a death glare, which he shrugged off. “They’ve been … taken care of.”
This didn’t deter her anger any, though, “By who?”
“Xander.” She blinked at this and looked at her mother, who went on, “He’s also one of the things that have changed since you left.” She led Buffy to a chair, sat her down, and began to recount the entire tale, each part more horrifying than the first.
Buffy shook even as the tears subsided, her mother having told the tale of what had happened to Xander, about what Angelus had done to him, and the resistance that Xander had shown even under those conditions – she had known he was capable of putting up with a lot of pain, who could take some of the hits he took without giving in on occasion, but seven hours before screaming? On top of that, Angelus had fed of him, killing him after over ten hours of agony, and then waking up in the morgue without a mark on his body, not as a vampire, and going home to find his parents murdered – if he wasn’t a target for someone’s anger up high, then he had the worst luck on the planet, “So, this guy came after Xander … because Xander killed the man who killed Xander’s parents?”
Giles nodded, “Yes, he did, and to ensure that Xander fought him on his own terms, he kidnapped your mother.” The concept of Immortality was as strange as that of the Vampire Slayer, only on a grander scale – the last one there had all the power of every Immortal and would be a god; it blew her mind that not only was Xander one of those people, but he was being trained by a woman who was over a thousand years old only after he had killed two Immortals already by breaking the ‘rules’. “Buffy, the man was Terakan.”
This made her wince even more as Xander and Amanda slowed down and came to a halt, both of them breathing hard but not apparently exhausted – while he moved, Buffy noticed while before Xander had moved first with little in the way of grace but, after both the Hyena and the Soldier, he had moved more fluidly, now he moved like her, like a hunting cat, and his steps made little or no sound as he wiped off and bantered with Amanda. He was also alert, his body ready for any and all attacks that were made from anywhere, and she wondered idly what would happen if she were to attack him right then, “Was there a contract?”
Giles shook his head, “No, it was personal – apparently, Xander killed this man’s one-time lover and he wanted vengeance.” Buffy blinked at this, but Giles went on, “But as he was Terakan, he had means at his disposal that were not normal, so he kidnapped your mother and made Xander fight him without a sword.”
Buffy blinked, “But … I thought you said Immortals had to have their heads taken off to die for good?”
“They do,” Xander said, walking up with Amanda, his face a flat mask, “but you’re forgetting something, Buffy.”
“And that would be?”
He gave her a chilly grin, “I always cheat at whatever game I play.” He sat next to Amanda on a bench and stretched out slightly, “In actuality, you seem to be taking all of this rather well – what’s up?”
“Well, it’s really weird, yes, but … it’s not out of the norm for Sunnydale.”
Amanda snorted, “Child, this is the Hellmouth – there is nothing NORMAL here at all.”
Buffy narrowed her eyes – she hated being called ‘child’. “So, how did you cheat in this ‘game’?”
Xander seemed to hedge slightly, “He’d hurt your mom, Buff – I always thought of her as my own mom and, well, the thought made me mad.”
Buffy waited for the rest of it, but he hedged, hemmed and hawed for several minutes before Giles sighed and spoke up, “Xander ripped his head off of his shoulders after twisting his head around twice.”
Buffy turned and gaped at him openly, to which he shrugged, “Okay, so I got really mad, but either way it doesn’t matter.”
“Doesn’t matter? Xander …” Buffy drew herself up to start a verbal tirade but then stopped herself when she saw the look of pure indifference in Xander eyes – sure, in the past two years he’d become more cynical, they all had, but only twice before had she ever seen the look she was getting right now, “What happened to you? What did this to you?” He arched an eyebrow at her signaled for her to elaborate, so she did, “You have NEVER been so blasé about killing people, so why start now?”
“Because that’s what I’m going to be doing for the rest of eternity? Or how about because that, in its purest and simplest terms, killing people in order to survive is the nature of The Game? Oh, or how about this one – I’m the one who has to live with those memories, not you?” He looked at her flatly and sat against the table, “Regardless, I’ve been changed by the Quickenings, we all are in some way or another.”
“He’s right,” Amanda jumped, her tone not defensive or accepting, only informative. “Whenever we go through a Quickening, we absorb the essence of whoever we have just killed – I know that one time, after I had killed a man who had once enjoyed stalking attractive redheads, I unconsciously did that for nearly a decade off and on until I was able to snap myself out of it. It takes time, but we learn to control some of the aspects of who we become, and Xander just has yet to learn that.”
Buffy opened her mouth once, and then twice, but finally just closed it and accepted what had been told to her – Xander would never be the same person ever again because of who he was now. She didn’t like it, nor did she want to accept it, but it wasn’t up to her, or anyone else – it just was.
(Sunnydale High School – 2 weeks later)
Buffy warmed up with some stretches even as she watched both Amanda, who now had her hair as her natural black color, and Xander, who had cut his hair back to a very short sided and with a barely longer top style, both worked out not far from her with two weapons apiece – Amanda had her rapier and a long-bladed dirk, but Xander had a basketed broadsword he’d picked up somewhere he wouldn’t tell her about (something that irked her greatly) and a Bowie knife, and both of them were intent in their practice, though while Amanda had only a light sheen of sweat on her skin, Xander was sweating more heavily and had several large holes in his shirt, not to mention fresh blood on him as well. Buffy had learned rather quickly that Amanda was not a cruel woman, or a vicious one, but she had taken time to tell both her and Willow that what she was going to do to Xander was the way she had been instructed to instruct him by a better teacher and a friend of hers, a guy named Methos, a funny name in Buffy’s opinion – Amanda had shown that she personally detested what was about to happen, but to keep her student alive, she first wanted to teach him to fight, and later would teach him how to run. She, though her methods, proved that she was a woman who, even if she liked you, would not let up on you during training that could one day keep you alive just because you needed to catch your breath – on more than one occasion Buffy had seen her kill Xander due to his lack of attention, or had broken bones (his knee, once, when he made a comment on how big her butt looked in some pants, though that crime was worth more than a broken knee), and while it was still a harsh reality to accept, Buffy did just that, accept, that this was the life that Xander would live, especially after Amanda and Giles had both taken her off to the side and told her of how an Immortal must be ready, willing and able to leave their ‘life’ as a mortal behind if they ‘died’ a public ‘death’. Everything!
Of course, not long after that talk Amanda had taken Xander off to the side and had begun to instruct him on the finer points of creating new identities, which they argued over for the next few days – they had gone over things like native languages and places of ‘birth’, to local skills and topical points of how the parents, provided there were parents, ‘died’, all the way to explaining away swords and how he looks so much ‘like your father’, or ‘like your brother’. Frankly, it made Buffy’s head hurt with all of the angles that Xander was going to have to deal with in his life for the rest of eternity, and for a split second of pure selfishness, she was glad that it was he who was Immortal, and not her.
“Ow!” Xander skipped away from Amanda, his left hand, which held the Bowie knife, clutching his butt cheek, “That hurt!”
Amanda only gave him a look, “Oh, do grow up – I was only teaching you how to keep an eye on your backside when both are on your opponent. Now, switch hands and we shall continue.”
Xander glared at Amanda but did as he was asked and, for not the first time, Buffy wondered how he had been able to kill two of his own kind without getting killed in the process – sure, he had technically ‘cheated’ in The Game, but even by his own admission, he cheated at every game he played (and if she ever figured out how he had pulled that inside straight a few nights ago, she’d get Mr. Gordo back in a heartbeat), but apparently he was going to learn how to do things the right way, even if Amanda was a bigger cheater than he was (and now Buffy only had to prove she had cheated to get her Mr. Pointy back).
“Ah, Buffy,” Giles spoke up from within his padded suit. “Your patrol tonight has been cancelled due to … er … prior engagements. While I am sure you are _devastated_ to hear this,” Giles went on as she didn’t even try to hide her joy at getting a night off, “I do ask that you investigate the Bronze for any possible vampire activity.”
Buffy lost some of her smile as she began to smell a rat (… or was that her socks?) “Giles? What’s up?”
“Oh, nothing much, just some things that I have heard over the proverbial ‘mystical grapevine’, and if anything were going to happen, it would be at the Bronze,” Giles said as he slipped the helmet of his suit.
She bounced from one foot to the other and loosened up some more, “Well, I’ll go, but Xander’s going on patrol, so how about I go with him and we can check out the Bronze together?” She looked over at Xander to see what he thought of the idea, but he was a touch busy trying to keep Amanda from sticking her sword into his body again, “Hey, Giles, I’ve been meaning to ask you, how’d Amanda get stuck with Xander as a student?”
“Hmm? Oh, well, Amanda and I met some years ago, before I was a field Watcher, and I helped her out of something of a jam – she told me that if I ever needed help, to call and she would repay her debt.”
Buffy shot him a look, “You didn’t tell her that she was getting a new student, did you?”
Giles nodded inside of his suit, “Yes, I did – if I recall correctly, her first question was ‘is he cute?’.”
Buffy blinked and turned back to look at the pair, “So, you mean that they’re …”
“Oh, good Lord, no, Buffy,” Giles admonished her as he removed her helmet. “Amanda is a bit of a tease, as I am sure that you have seen, but she would at least wait until Xander is officially 18. Beside that point, last I heard she was in something of a semi-serious relationship with another Immortal, one Duncan MacLeod.”
Buffy felt her gut unclench even as Amanda shrieked and hopped away from Xander, holding her own butt cheek that had blood running down it, “Oh, okay.”
Xander ghosted next to Buffy as she tromped through the graveyard leading to the Bronze like a drunken buffalo on stilts, making so much noise that he knew he would never sneak up on anything – it was something that had irritated him greatly since his absorption of the Terakan’s Quickening some time back, when his allies, long-term or temporary, did things half-assed when they were capable of so much better, and of all of the things that he had gotten out of the deal, Xander truly wished that he could banish that particular habit.
“So, what’s up? You’re all gloomy and gussy.” He looked over at Buffy, who popped a bubble as she fiddled with the stake in her hands, “You’re normally a lot less quiet.”
“People change, Buffy, and I’m hunting … or trying to.”
She gave him another look and dropped her stake, which clattered against a headstone, “Hunting?”
“Yes, think of it as patrolling without making all of the unnecessary noise that you’re making.” She gave him a hard look as she grabbed her stake again, “I mean, really, if vamps were anything like real animals, they wouldn’t get within shooting distance with as much noise as you’re making.”
“But they aren’t animals, they’re vampires.” She stuck her hands in her pockets and looked around, “So, you wanna go with me to the Bronze? It’s been a while, you know?”
Xander looked at her and, idly, began to wonder if she was on the level even as he felt something ping against his senses, “Thanks, Buff, but no thanks – I feel like hunting tonight.”
She gave him a look before replying playfully, “What? You’re turning down quality Buffy time? Who are you and what have you done with Xander?”
He snorted softly, “I’m still Xander, only I’ve grown up a lot.”
She was quiet for a little while longer as they made their way back across another part of the sprawling cemetery, though this time Buffy was doing her best to mimic his lack of noise, but that lasted only a few minutes, “So, what’s going on with you and Amanda?” He looked over and she went on, “Well, I mean I heard you two flirting the other day … so I kind figured that you and she were…”
He snorted again, though this time in amusement, “Sorry, Buffy, but no – she’s into another Immortal, some guy named Duncan MacLeod.”
“So, are you looking? I saw lots of the girls at school checking you out, even some of the Cordetts.” That had been some kind of a revelation when, out of the blue, both Harmony and Aura had come up to him and openly asked, in front of God and everyone, if he’d like to go on a ‘double’ date that night; traffic in the crowded halls of Sunnydale High, as slow-moving as it was, stopped cold as all present had waited on his answer.
Xander, for his part, had snorted both then and now, “Yeah, I noticed.” He’d let Harmony down with his typical lack of flair, but Aura more gently for some reason or another, saying that for Harmony there was too much bad blood there to ever go out on a date, but for Aura, he had other plans for that, which Harmony resented the hell out of, screeching in indignation, while Aura had given him an almost shy smile and walked away with just a touch too much sway in her skirt-clad hips. “And to answer your question, no, I’m not looking.”
She cocked an eyebrow at him, “Oh? As in not looking period, or you’ve found someone and are pining away for them?”
He shook his head and sighed, “Why the sudden interest in my love life, or lack of one, Buff?”
She just shrugged, “Well, I was thinking that if you weren’t really looking … you and I could go out, you know, just to see if it would work.” She seemed to almost smile when he stopped dead in his tracks, as if remembering the rather blatant crush she had admitted to have seen in him in respects to her ever since they had met, but when he turned to her, she saw his look of confusion, “What?”
“You … and me in a date-like nature?” She nodded and he looked at her oddly, “Alright, I’ll bite – what brought this on?”
“Well, it’s … I don’t know. I mean, after the whole ‘a vampire for a boyfriend’ thing, I … I wanna see if it’s okay to date a normal human again.”
He gave her a look, “I’ve been called a lot of things, Buff, but ‘normal’ is something I am not a whole lot of as of late.”
Buffy looked a little hurt even as she sat on a large headstone, “So, what, are you calling it off already?”
Xander just shrugged, “Maybe I am – I don’t know. I mean, if this is all because you lost Capt… Angel, well, then I don’t want to be ‘rebound guy’.
She frowned again, “So, you won’t even consider it? I mean, do you think you’re too good for me, or something?”
Xander gave her a look, like she had lost it, “Huh?”
Buffy shot to her feet, beginning to pace, “I mean, am I not good enough for you? What is it about me that makes you say ‘no, Buffy, I don’t want to go out with you’?”
“Uh, your apparent loss of your mind? Buffy, calm down!” He reached over and grabbed her by the shoulders, halting her pacing as she began to wear a track in the grass, “Look, I don’t know what’s going on in that mind of yours, but cease and desist – it’s not that I don’t want to go out with you … it is that; I see you as a friend, only as a friend, and not of the dating type.” With that he let go of her shoulders and reached inside of his duster even as he felt another ping against his Immortal senses, unsheathing his basketed broadsword, turning and pointing it towards a bank of deep shadows as Buffy squeaked, “Hello, Dru.”
He watched as both the Slayer and her Immortal compatriot walked through the cemeteries, and while the boy had potential to be a great asset to his Clan, the girl was just like almost every Slayer he had run into over the past seven hundred years, bar a few whom had been properly trained before their Calling, in that she did not appear to have the slightest concept of ‘stealth’.
“Kitten knows we are here.” He looked at his Childe, whom he had finally gotten broken of wearing the dresses she had apparently fancied over the past century and a half, as she was now wearing a pair of sensible black slacks, a red blouse of silk and an overcoat, her hair still as long as it had always been, but now held back in a long tail. Her half-sane ramblings took some getting used to, but more often than not he could tell that, slowly, her sanity was gaining a stronger foothold in her mind.
“Yes, I know.” He watched as the Slayer began to prattle on about this, that and the other, eventually taking the hint to be stealthier, and finally asking the boy to go out on a date. A soft hiss from his Childe told him that the Slayer was on very thin ice even as the boy shot her down as far more gently then he himself would have, given her past choices of bedmates. Of course, he was also dead by several centuries, so his point of view was rather skewed – what human in their right mind would have sex with a vampire? With Kindred, it would be an easy way to feed, especially for the females, but with the males it was a touch harder, involving blood being sent to the proper areas for everything to work as it would have if they were mortal.
It was then, though, that the boy stepped up and calmed the Slayer down, but not long after that he turned and, with sword in hand, looked into the shadows that he and his Childe were standing, “Hello, Dru.”
“Hello, Kitten.” Dru walked out of the shadows, dressed in a dark ensemble that actually made her look even more striking than her old dresses did, and it appeared to him that she was blushing, though that was a distinct impossibility given that she was a vampire, “I mean, Alexander.” Even over the top of the basket of his blade, he could see into her eyes and something else was there, something that said she had some of her cookies, for once, “I see you have your claws, now.” Okay, obviously not all of her cookies.
“Yes, I do. You … are sane? How’s that working for you?”
Dru smiled slightly, “My soul helps, but not with … not with my memories.” She appeared to shiver down to her very core even as she walked out into the moonlight, a good fifteen yards away from anything that could be construed as ‘cover’. “Please, forgive me, Alexander. I should … I should have stopped Angelus from doing what he did to you, what _WE_ did to you.”
Buffy took that moment to come out of her state of shocked amazement, “Xander, what’s gong on? Why isn’t she dust?”
“She’s repenting for her sins, apparently, and more importantly, she has her soul now.” He slowly lowered his blade, pointing it down to the ground, but not putting it away even as Buffy huffed.
He looked at her from the corner of his eye, “As I recall, that was your line of defense for Angel-“
“-And Angelus,” Dru chipped in quietly from her spot.
Buffy growled, stomping one foot into the ground, “That … he was different.” She pulled her stake from the back of her pants and made to go after Dru, who raised her hands in a defensive manner, but Xander beat them both to the punch and slashed at the stake, taking off the sharp end and leaving a nub that Buffy was to hold onto, “Hey! What do you think you’re doing?”
He put his sword back to his side, alternating his gaze between Buffy and Drusilla, “I’m repaying a debt, Buffy – I owed her, but now she and I are even.”
“When that nasty man took your mummy, Slayer,” Dru started, who dropped her hands from her ‘ready’ position, “I was the one who warned Kitten what he had in store.”
Buffy looked mournfully at her stub of a stake and then at him, her eyes narrowing, “Okay, what _really_ happened that day? Mom won’t talk about it, Willow, Jenny and Cordy weren’t here, and Oz and Giles only hedge around the issue.”
Xander looked at her for a second, looked at Dru, who shrugged, and then sighed, “Long and the short of it is that when I killed my first Immortal, his one-time lover took that as a personal insult – with me so far?” Buffy nodded and Xander continued, “Now, apparently he wasn’t as dumb as his bed-buddy and actually scouted me out beforehand, knowing that 1) I was staying with your mother, 2) she doted on me like a son, and 3) I was rather protective of her, hence his choice of her as bait. Now, when I noticed that she wasn’t home one night, I got a call from him stating that he had her, he wanted my head, and if I complied he’d let her go.”
Buffy snorted, “Please tell me you didn’t believe him.”
“Of course not – I’m slow, not dumb. Anyway, I was ready to land the Marines, so to speak, on his ass, when I got another call, but this time it was from Dru,” he nodded to the vampiress, who preened slightly, “and she told me not only where he was precisely, as the place he had told me to go to was a trap that was wired to make me weaker, and I had the drop of him.” He sighed again and rubbed the bridge of his nose, “Unfortunately I wasn’t thinking when I left and left my sword behind, like he asked. Stupid mistake, I know, but it didn’t hit me until later when his Buzz hit me like a tank dropped from a C-130. We exchanged verbal barbs for a second or two and then he attacked me with mono-wire, we fought, I got my ass handed to me for most of the fight, and then he made the mistake of gloating.”
“Isn’t that, like, universally a bad idea if you’re a bad guy? I mean, it’s in all the Bond films, and nobody ever takes cue from them,” Buffy griped and, for not the first time, Xander had to agree with her about how they always got the stupid ‘evil’ villains.
“Kitten kicked him in his sweets, he did,” Dru took up at that point, Xander wincing at the memory, “and he dropped his wire.”
Buffy looked at him, a puzzled look crossing her face, “Sweets?” He motioned to his groin and she blushed, “Ah, gotcha.”
Xander cleared his throat again, shaking off the momentary twinge of sympathy he’d felt for the assassin, “Yeah, anyway, while he was rolling around, I got the wire, sawed into his neck, then twisted it around a few times before it popped off like a milk cap. End of story.”
“Not quite – where’d you learn all of that stuff you’ve been training on with Amanda?”
Xander sighed, his irritation with Buffy’s incessant questions again building, but he squashed it with some effort this time, “Well, it’s different with each Immortal, apparently, but from what I understand I got a lot of the martial and esoteric training from our not-so-lamented Terakan, but none of the magical, not all of the personal memories, and thank God I didn’t get any of the languages – I have a hard enough time with English, so I don’t want to mutilate any others.” He looked down at his left hand and caught a slight glint off of the ring that he wore, the same ring the Immortal assassin had worn – both Willow and Giles had thrown a fit when they had first seen it, more so when they jumped to the conclusion that he was taking the guy’s place, but to Xander … well, it felt right to wear it. “That said, skills need to be practiced, or they go rusty, and if you want proof of that, ask me how to break into a top secret military instillation with nothing but duct tape, a knife and baling wire – a few months ago I might have been able to, but not anymore.”
Buffy and Dru both blinked at this.
He listened to the boy and, after his declaration of being able to no longer break into the instillations with very limited resources, he blinked.
Buffy blinked at Xander in confusion for a second and then sulked, her simmering anger towards Dru’s apparent free pass because of her own stinking rules, but she had to abide by those rules, lest she be called on having massive double standards (something she had the odd feeling that she’d been called on before, but she couldn’t figure out where). It was then, for some reason, that she looked down at Xander’s hand and saw the Terakan brass ring on his finger, and she shivered at the thought of just how far Xander had to go into the darkness to take out a professional killer on that level – as she understood it, human Terakans were recruited from the cream of the crop of assassins, and then trained some more, making them too dangerous to take on normally, which made her question just what Xander had left out of his little story to her.
“Kitten, Alexander, I have some good news for you.” Drusilla, she had to admit, cleaned up nicely when in clothes that were in the right century, but with the way she was acting, Buffy couldn’t tell if she was doing just that, acting, or if she was on the level.
“Oh? What’s that, Princess?” Xander, for his part, appeared to be completely at ease with the possibly-insane vampiress, something which both worried Buffy and made her feel oddly jealous.
“I’ve found that I don’t have to kill anymore to feed.” Drusilla pranced around for a second in a jig of glee even as Xander arched an eyebrow and Buffy found herself doing the same, “My Clan makes sure that I don’t hurt anyone permanently when I feed, they do, and I always have a keeper with me.”
“So they can make sure that my demon is really gone, Alexander.” Drusilla shivered and, for a second, Buffy felt the hairs rise up on the back of her neck, “There are not many of our kind left, and to have me as a revenant and lose one of their Elders, which would be a crime.”
Buffy looked at Xander, “Revenant? Elders?”
“Demonic breed of vampires care called ‘Revenant’, or freaks given that they are not ‘true’ vampires,” Xander explained with only half of his attention on her. “’Elders’ refer to the rank of the vampire in Dru’s type – kinda like ‘Master Vampire’ in the kind we deal with, only with more age and more punch.”
“You know much of our kind, young one.” The voice from the bank of shadows startled Buffy even as it ticked against her mind – she knew that voice, but from where? “How is that?”
Xander, for his part, just shrugged, “I just know some of the basis from research and the memories I gained from the Terakan. Who are you?”
From the darkness stepped first a pair of black Oxfords, then charcoal slacks, leading up to a black silk shirt under a full frock jacket that matched the pants, and then finally … David Hasselhoff? Buffy blinked once, and then twice, even as she heard Xander snort in amusement, “Is there something funny?”
“No, it’s just who looks just like you.” Xander snickered even as Buffy found herself looking the guy over – it was a younger Hasselhoff, like from that show, KnightRider, though with the same hotness the older one had, “Actually, I’m waiting on Pam Anderson to show up in her bathing suit.”
Even as Dru giggled, Buffy could only reply, “Says you – I want to see him in those red trunks.” ‘David’ gave her a look and, for an instant, Buffy wondered if she was ever going to see the sun rise again.
“Oh, like I’ve never heard that one before.”
AN: Alright, people, this one is in the can – a few things answered, a few more resolved, but now the big one: how in the heck did Dru become Kindred … if she _IS_ Kindred. R&R, AR.