The New Adventures of Buffy and Xander
Summary:Family relationships could turn Buffy and Xander’s second leap into their last.
Buffy turned to look at him as they walked back together from a late patrol "Do you ever think about giving it up?"
"Giving what up?"
"The whole fighting evil thing"
"Everytime I get my ass whooped by something with fangs or horns or both... and sometimes slime"
Buffy suppressed a smile "So... often then?"
"Funny" Xander turned to look at her "What's up Buff? You usually save the 'What am I doing with my life?' speech for the weekends"
"It's not one of those" Buffy stopped walking and Xander stopped too "It's more... OK, actually it is one of those" she sighed "I'm seriously considering making a run for it and living in a hut on a beach somewhere" Buffy tucked her stake inside her jacket and began to walk again "Preferably with cocktails and studly cabana boys nearby"
"Buffy you say that everytime... although the cabana boys are new" Xander walked alongside her "What's got you going this time?"
"It's just... it's just I overheard Anya say something... about you two"
"Did it involve a certain part of my anatomy that she likes a lot?"
"God no" Buffy cleared her throat "Um... she said she'd been thinking about... getting out of Sunnydale. Maybe settle down... somewhere that's... else. With you"
"That's all you're gonna say?" Buffy gave him a look of surprise.
"Well, I kinda already knew about it"
"Yeah. An' sorta threw me with that one too" Xander told her "She brought it up the other day. I surprised myself a whole lot by not running about the place like a headless chicken at the very thought of that much commitment"
"You mean... you'd really think about it?" There was a little surprise in Buffy's voice.
Xander shrugged "Maybe" he admitted, "It's a lot to think about though"
"But you'd go? If Anya really wanted you to?"
Xander hesitated "I think I would. I mean not right now, but... maybe... sometime" he smiled a little "I love her"
Buffy stared at him "Woah"
"I know" Xander kept smiling "I'm all grown up"
"I have to tell you... it's very scary"
"This coming from the girl who decapitated two big ol' nasty demons earlier this evening"
"That was work" Buffy protested, with a small smile "This is like... real life stuff"
"I know. Who thought I'd actually have one...a life that is... that didn't revolve around Slaying, huh?"
Buffy's expression saddened a little "Yeah"
Xander stopped "Oh... Buffy, I didn't mean that you-"
Buffy cut him off with a wave of her hand "Xander, it's OK. Really" she looped her arm through his and started them both off walking again "I get that I'm the Chosen one. That I'm not supposed to have a normal life or-or a sister that's actually human or a mother who hasn't just had brain surgery. Or get to have a boyfriend"
"Still no word huh?"
Buffy shook her head "It's hard to know whether I should be worried or not, y'know?" she said "Like whether he just *can't* 'cos they won't let him or he *can't* 'cos he's been eaten by some big jungle demon"
"I guess it is tough... the not knowing"
"I'll cope" Buffy said tiredly "It's what I do" Buffy leaned against Xander slightly as they walked "I just wish that sometimes all I had to worry about was if my roots were showing"
Xander studied the top of her head "They're not"
"*Hey*!" Buffy looked up at him "You're supposed to say 'My God. You mean that's *not* your natural colour?'"
"Buffy, I've seen you buying the stuff at the store. It's not like people don't *know*"
"Yeah... well... you need a hair cut" Buffy retorted lamely.
Xander just smirked and then started laughing and Buffy found herself unable to stop from joining in.
"Come on" she said, trying to compose herself "Let me get you back safe and sound. Don't want to deprive Anya of her stud muffin"
"I'll have you know it's *love* muffin"
Buffy smirked "Ooh that's even better"
Xander grinned "Who am I to stand in the way of public opinion?"
Buffy grinned back and the banter between them continued until they began to near Anya's apartment.
"Buff? What is it?" Xander asked when Buffy began to slow down. Xander cast a quick look around but he couldn't see anything.
Buffy stopped and let got of his arm "I don't know" she looked around and frowned slightly "Probably just my Slayer senses working overtime" Buffy turned back to Xander and shrugged.
Just as the couple faced each other their breath caught in their throats as each one saw the other suddenly engulfed in a brilliant white light highlighted by spidery blue lines.
Then it all went black.
For a second.
Then they were facing each other again.
"That was new" Buffy managed when her breath caught up with her.
"Nyuh huh" Xander agreed. He immediately checked himself over and Buffy did the same. Both found nothing missing or out of place. Sighs of relief were about to be sighed when they noticed their surroundings.
"What the..." was said in unison.
It was no longer night.
They were no longer a block from Anya's apartment.
In fact it was bright and sunny and hot.
And they were standing across the road from the fully intact and still standing building of Sunnydale High School.
Both Buffy and Xander stood and stared at the building infront of them.
"Buffy... is this your dream or mine?" Xander said finally.
"Xander... I've got the horrible feeling this isn't a dream"
"I was so hoping you weren't gonna say that"
Buffy looked at him "What the hell has happened here?"
"In what sense?" Xander asked as he slowly turned around "The fact that Sunnydale High isn't a pile of rubble or that fact that we seemed to have swapped night for day"
"Kinda both" Buffy took a few tentative steps away from Xander and towards the edge of the road that separated them from the school "I mean first off, I'm about to deliver you to your ex-demon lover and then you suddenly go all white and blue and then we're *here*"
Xander stepped up beside her "You went all white and blue too" he told her "Scared the crap outta me"
"Ditto" Buffy began to walk slowly along the path, still looking at the school. Shortly she came to a stop and faced Xander who had followed her "We should figure out a way to reverse this"
Xander just looked at her "You only just realised that?"
"Hey" Buffy said indignantly "If you're so smart why don't you just tell me what the hell we're supp..." Buffy trailed off when she caught sight of her reflection in the darkened window of the car parked beside them "...osed to... do"
Xander watched Buffy with a slightly puzzled expression when she walked up to the window and peered at herself in it. "Vain much Buff?"
Buffy touched her hand to her cheek and began prodding at her flesh, pulling her face about. Then she put one hand to her hair and began tugging gently at it.
"Buffy what the hell are you doing? I'm sure we've got more important things to worry about than whether your lipstick is smudged"
"Xan... shut up" Buffy straightened up and looked at him. She spread her arms out a little to the side "Xander, what do I look like to you. *Who* do I look like *to* *you*?"
"*Xander* I'm *serious*. Please, who do I look like?"
"You look like you Buff. Same as always"
Buffy pointed to the car window she'd been looking into "Then why does my reflection look like somebody else?"
"Huh?" Xander went to look at what Buffy was pointing at. And then he caught sight of himself "Nya-aghhh"
"Holy crap!" Xander went through the same motions that Buffy had; prodding at his face and touching his hair.
"Now I *know* I don't like this" Buffy touched her hair again.
Buffy's reflection showed her to be a pretty, bright blue eyed girl about sixteen years old with dark brown, almost black hair that was about the same length as Buffy's. Her reflection was wearing the same clothes as Buffy had been previously - a blue tank top, a black denim jacket and boot cut black jeans.
Xander reflection showed him to be a tall blond haired guy, about seventeen, with green eyes and better than average looks. He was also wearing the same clothes he had been before - a green shirt over a white T-shirt and slightly baggy blue jeans.
"This is very, very wrong" Xander said numbly "I wanna go home. I was supposed to be having wild monkey sex with Anya. I was *not* supposed to be *here* and-and... *this*" he pointed at his reflection.
"Y'know, you look familiar" Buffy said, "But I don't think you went to Sunnydale High. I think I did though"
"Stop with the *you* Buff!" Xander said "*That* is not *me* and *she* is *not* *you*"
"Xander" Buffy took hold of his arm firmly "Stop it. You're not helping"
"Sorry" Xander looked a little chagrined "You'd think I'd be a little more used to the freaky stuff by now"
"It's OK Xander" Buffy gave him a small smile "Look, we just need to find out what's happened to us and how we make it back to normal"
"Totally with you on that one" Xander replied "And we do that how?"
"Well...um..." Buffy looked towards the school and her eyes widened a little "I know. We could ask Giles"
"Uh huh. And tell him what exactly?"
Buffy crossed her arms infront of her chest "I don't see you having a better idea"
Xander sighed "OK. To Giles it is" He began to follow after Buffy but as soon as she was about to cross the road over to the school she stopped suddenly.
"Wait" she said and grabbed Xander's arm "What if Giles isn't here?"
"Why wouldn't he be here? It's obviously a school day" Xander gestured to the students that milled around the school "He should be at work right?"
"I know, but" she shrugged helplessly "What if he doesn't work here *yet*?"
"Then I'd say we're screwed"
"Well... yeah, but I mean" Buffy looked around "*When* is this?"
"Ohhh..." Xander trailed off in realisation "I see your point" Xander looked at the students "Well...judging by the cars and the clothes and *nya-aghhh*"
"What?" Buffy's head snapped back around to where Xander was pointing. Her eyes widened "Oh. My. God"
"Nyh huh" Xander swiped a hand down his face "That's us"
The couple looked on as they saw a slightly younger looking version of both of them meet at the steps that led up to the entrance of the school. They were almost immediately joined by Willow and Oz who were holding hands.
"Is that *us*?" Buffy asked weakly "Oh my god" she paused "What was I thinking wearing that skirt"
"It must be senior year" Xander said as he watched as Cordelia walked up beside his younger self and take his hand.
"This can't be..." Buffy said. She shook her head, trying to shake off the weird feeling "What makes you think its our senior year?"
"Oh" Buffy tilted her head to look at Xander, she tried to maintain her cool as much as she could, although she knew that Xander would be able to see underneath it "Do you remember signing up for time travel?"
Xander shook his head "I'm still hoping I'm going to wake up" he said and shared an understanding look with Buffy.
Buffy watched the younger versions of herself, Willow, Oz, Cordelia and Xander go into the school building "This is why I want a normal life" she mumbled to herself before she started off across the road.
"Well at least we know Giles is here" Xander said and began to head off after Buffy "And I'm with you too. It's moments like this that make me wish I did live somewhere else"
Xander caught up with Buffy and they walked together through the school entrance and into the main hallway, trying to be an unobtrusive as possible.
But Buffy quickly found herself being grabbed by the arm. She spun around and faced the person who had hold of her and was about to glare them away when the girl let go of her and beamed at Buffy happily.
"Hey Maria, didn't you hear me calling you?" the girl asked, her eyes then flicking towards Xander who stood just behind Buffy and proceeded to raise an eyebrow "And since when are you hanging with this drop out?"
Buffy faltered "Um, s-since about this morning" Buffy plastered a smile on her face "Hey, I know. Why don't I just meet you for lunch and I'll tell you about it then, 'kay?"
Without waiting for an answer Buffy grabbed hold of Xander's arm and herded him off quickly towards the library.
"OK, so at least we know I have a name" Buffy said as they walked as quickly as they could manage in the hallways that were slowly becoming more crowded "Fat lot of good it does me though"
"And apparently I'm not cool enough for 'Maria' to hang about with" Xander muttered "Story of my life"
"We're here" Buffy stated "Come on" Buffy grabbed his arm and pulled him into the library.
"Hey" Xander called out "Anybody here?"
Buffy went over to Giles' office and tried the handle "It's locked" Buffy peered through the window and into the office. There was an open book on the desk and one of Giles' tweed jackets was hanging up on a hook just inside the door "He's been here though"
Xander headed up the steps to the stacks "Giles!"
"I don't think he's here Xander" Buffy said as she joined him "We'll have to wait"
"Screw that" Xander said determinedly. He turned to the bookshelf behind him "There's *got* to be some stuff that we can check out for ourselves"
"Ooh good thinking" Buffy walked over to another bookshelf and began scouring the titles "But, um, what sort of stuff should we be looking for? We don't even know what happened to us?"
"I can tell you that" an unfamiliar male voice said from behind them.
Both Buffy and Xander turned around to see a man standing by the book check out counter. He was in his late twenties, athletic and good looking, short dark hair with minimal blond highlights, eyes hidden behind a pair of sunglasses. He was dressed in a close fitting burgundy jumper and charcoal grey chinos and smart black shoes. In his hand he held a small back box.
"Excuse me?" Buffy asked, narrowing her eyes "Who are you?"
"Names Sean" the guy said, pushing his sunglasses up onto his head, revealing hazel eyes "And you can stop looking in the books. I seriously doubt you're going find anything that's going to help"
"And you know this how?" Xander asked, giving Sean an apprehensive look "No, wait don't tell me. It was in the latest issue of 'GQ' wasn't it?"
"And I can see you're going to be a laugh a minute on this gig" Sean sighed despairingly. He looked at Buffy "I can tell you both what happened" Sean then looked between them "Why you're both not... quite yourselves"
Both Buffy and Xander exchanged glances with each other before looking back to Sean. They had nothing to lose by listening to what he had to say.
"All right" Buffy said, giving him her no-nonsense look "Spill"
Sean paused for effect. "You leaped"
Xander stared at him "We did what?"
"I think he said we leaped" Buffy said turning to Xander, exchanging a confused look with her friend "But I really don't have any idea what that means" Buffy turned back to Sean "Is that some kind of freaky demon thing?"
"No" Sean replied "It's a freaky quantum physic thing"
"No demons then?" Xander said, just wanting to clarify the point. Xander followed after Buffy when she walked past him and down the stairs to where Sean was standing.
Sean shook his head "Just science"
Buffy crossed her arms and stood infront of Sean "Somehow that's *not* making me feel a whole lot better"
Sean looked her up and down "Somehow that doesn't surprise me"
Buffy took a step closer to him "What. The. Hell. Is going. On?" she arched a single eyebrow, letting Sean know she wasn't prepared to take any crap "And why should we believe anything you say?"
"You saw each other leap yeah?" Sean asked, "When you glowed all white?"
Buffy and Xander shared another look - they knew what he was talking about. They turned back to Sean, both wearing identical 'all right - we're listening' looks.
"That was leaping, huh?" Xander said "Not one of the better experiences in my life"
Sean nodded "And you leapt here. Jumped into someone else's body"
"*What*? *Why*?" Buffy started frowning again "*What* *for*? And *what* does it have to do with *you*?"
Sean looked at them both and sighed "Sit and I shall explain"
(About half an hour later...)
Buffy sat at the library table and looked up at Sean "...so we're here by mistake?"
"Yes" Sean said simply. He shrugged helplessly "Sorry"
"Uh huh" Buffy continued "And the rest of this... let me get this straight. You're a hologram tuned to our brainwaves. You work for a project called Quantum Leap which specialises in signing people up to jump into someone *else's* body to correct mistakes that could ultimately effect the world as we know it, because the people you jumped them *into* can't do it themselves for some reason or other *but* the new people can" Buffy pinched the bridge of her nose briefly "Then you leap them back out and they go back to their own lives. Except, the fantastic and state of the art computer that you use to do this went" she looked at Sean "To use your words- 'a bit loopy' - and dragged us out of *our* lives instead"
"That's pretty much it" Sean replied "Sorry again".
Xander raised his head from the table and looked at Buffy "You forgot about the part where they can't send us back. At least not until they figure out the exact, *exact* moment in time and space where they got us from"
Buffy scowled at Sean "Silly me"
"There is some good news" Sean tried to reassure them "When we do figure out how to send you back. We can do it to the exact moment you left. *And* we can keep you two together all the time as well"
"Oh yay" Xander said flatly "That's such excellent good news for... *right* *now*"
Buffy slumped back in her chair "But it does mean that whatever happens because I'm... *we're* not there... won't ever happen. At least not if I can help it"
Sean looked at them both "You really are taking this better than I thought you would"
Xander looked back at him "You'd be surprised what doesn't surprise us" he paused "But I still think this *totally* *sucks*"
"All right" Buffy sat up straighter "If we're going to do this-"
"We're *doing* this?" Xander interrupted "Since when?"
"Since this guy told us we stand a better chance of getting home quicker if we do" Buffy answered "Y'know the whole gathering more information about each time we do the leap thing"
Xander dropped his head onto the table again "You and your good reasons" he looked back at Buffy again "OK, carry on"
Buffy gave him a understanding smile then turned to Sean who was waiting patiently "All right" Buffy started again "Who exactly are we and what do we have to do?"
Sean flipped open the small black box, which revealed it to be an electronic device with a small screen and a tiny keypad "You" he pointed to Buffy "You're Maria Benson. Sixteen years old. Student here at Sunnydale High" Sean looked at the screen again then turned to Xander "You're Stuart Carter. Seventeen. Not a student here or anywhere else for that matter"
"So what do we have to do?" Buffy asked "Please tell me it doesn't involve helping Maria pass any classes, 'cos I don't really wanna be back at this school"
Sean raised an eyebrow in surprise "You went here?"
"We both did" Xander supplied "We also blew the school up when we graduated"
Sean stared at them "That was a joke right?"
Buffy shook her head "We really hated this school"
"It was hell" Xander added and shared a slight smile with Buffy.
"Uh huh" Sean said slowly. He shot them both an odd look then carried on "But if you both went here it might explain why the computer picked you two up instead of the other couple we were trying to get"
"So how do we help Maria and Stuart then?" Buffy asked.
Sean looked at the screen and pressed a few buttons on the keypad "Ah"
"That didn't sound like a good 'Ah'" Buffy said, her brow creasing "What?"
"Apparently the original Maria was on course to be some kind of brilliant scientist but unfortunately she gets killed tonight" Sean told them "You have to save her"
Buffy exchanged a look with Xander then looked at Sean "Killed how?"
"Coroners report said 'Misadventure'" Sean replied "But two puncture marks were also found on her neck. When I say puncture, I mean bite. So I'm guessing vampire"
Buffy really couldn't be bothered to ask how he knew about the demon world. "So... all I have to do" she said "Is not go to wherever it was that this Maria got herself bit" Buffy frowned a little "Sounds a little too easy"
"Where was she found?" Xander asked.
"Behind a club called the Bronze" Sean answered "You two know it?"
Both Buffy and Xander nodded. "So what do we do in the mean time?" Xander asked.
"Just stay out of trouble" Sean replied "If it sounds to easy it usually is. Be careful"
"Uh... I have a question" Xander asked "What if we run into us?"
"Us" Buffy said when Sean looked confused "Our younger selves. Here" she explained "We're at this school now"
"Then do nothing that would mean you have to interact with you... them" Sean replied "Not even close friends. It could effect who you are today. Who you've become" he explained "Judging by the looks on your faces, I'm guessing there might be mistakes *you* might want rectifying-"
Buffy cut him off "I get it" she said and looked at Xander who nodded "We get it" Buffy looked back at Sean "We only get to help who you want us to help, right?"
"I'm sorry" Sean said honestly "That's the way it goes. We learnt the hard way"
Buffy sighed again and let her head fall onto the table and groaned in despair. Xander leaned forward and propped his elbows up on the table, resting his chin in his hands "I think you were right earlier" he said, "You're never going to have a normal life"
After a little more discussion with Sean, Buffy and Xander decided it would be better if they avoided school for the day and that they should stick together for the time they had here. They went back to Maria's home first and luckily there was no one around. Buffy found a key hidden in a hanging basket on the front porch and let herself in. Now, a couple of hours later, they sat together on Maria's bed.
Buffy cast a sideways glance at Xander. She was worried about him. He hadn't said much since they'd left the school. Buffy put a hand gently on his knee. Xander glanced at her and gave her a small smile.
"Sorry I'm not more chatty" he said with a sigh "It's just all beginning to sink in"
"I know" Buffy agreed "It's like suddenly... big picture"
"Everyone is going to be going nuts back home" Xander pointed out "Sunnydale without a Slayer is going to be-"
"Yeah it is" Buffy finished for him "But there's nothing we can do about it. Mom, Dawn, Giles and the others..." she trailed off sadly "They'll find someway to manage"
"Sean said he'd find some way to let them know we're OK"
Buffy nodded "But in the meantime, it's not going to do us a lot of good worrying about it" she sighed, thinking of her mother's situation "No matter how much we want to"
"You're right" Xander agreed. He looked around the room "We just have to stay here until tonight yeah?"
"I think so" Buffy replied "I mean, if Maria's not at the Bronze, she can't get bit"
"Sounds logical" Xander looked at his watch "It's just it's only half one in the afternoon. We've got kind of a long wait"
"Then we've got to figure out what to do when Maria's parents get home"
"I guess I'll have to check in at base sometime too" Xander realised "Perhaps we should do them both together"
"Probably a good idea. We could pretend we're doing some studying together and then leap or whatever from yours"
"Sounds like a plan"
Xander grinned half-heartedly back "I just want to do all this with out losing any limbs or anything else, 'cos the quicker we get through all this the quicker we get back home and back to normal"
"Normal on the Hellmouth" Buffy raised an eyebrow at him "That's a novel idea"
Both Buffy and Xander breathed a sigh of relief when they stood outside Maria's home a little while later that afternoon after getting through a conversation with Maria's mother.
"There's something to be said about parents who don't really care what their kids get up to" Xander said as he and Buffy began the walk to Stuart's home "That was almost too-"
"Uh uh" Buffy broke in "Don't jinx it"
"S'okay" Buffy said, "We're just-"
Buffy groaned and turned around to face the same girl from earlier at school, a pretty, petite blonde, quickly approaching. For the life of her, Buffy couldn't remember her name.
"Hey" Buffy greeted "Whatcha doing?"
"Wondering why the hell you skipped school" their new companion said "Don't tell me you were spending it with this loser here" she indicated Xander.
"Actually I was" Buffy said, slipping in a bright smile "You'd be surprised at the amount of fun we had"
"I'm a fun guy" Xander supplied, with a grin of his own "Sorry..." Xander searched through his brain "-Cara to ruin your ideals of me"
"Oh *please* Stuart" Cara said "Like I *give* a crap what you think" Cara looked at Buffy "Maria, don't you remember what I was like after he dumped me? How can you be hanging out with him?"
Buffy shrugged helplessly "Uhhh..."
Cara continued "I know it was like, a year ago, but *still*"
"Cara" Buffy said "I'm sorry, but was there anything else I can do for you because we've sorta got plans"
Cara huffed a little "Me and Louisa were wondering if you were still going to the Bronze tonight" Cara scowled at Xander "That is if you can tear yourself away from your new friend"
"It's probably best if you don't ruin Maria's friendships while you're here" Sean said helpfully as he suddenly appeared behind Cara.
"What?" Xander looked over Cara's head at Sean.
"I *said* that is if you can tear yourself away from your new friend" Cara repeated, giving Xander an odd look.
Buffy looked at Sean like he was mad. Sean shrugged "All you've got to do is keep Maria inside until midnight and you're home free. It's easy"
"Jinx" both Xander and Buffy mumbled under their breath.
Cara gave them both an odd look then spoke just to Buffy "Look if you can come tonight, I promise not to tell Louisa about your lapse in sanity today and hopefully-" Cara looked scornfully at Xander - who just pulled a face back at her - before speaking to Buffy again "-You'll have a lapse about today as well"
"Well you never know" Buffy said brightly "But for the time being I'm not having a lapse. So until the Bronze tonight... bye"
Cara rolled her eyes and gave Buffy a 'You're out of your head' look before she turned about face and crossed over the road, walking away from Buffy and Xander.
Buffy and Xander glared at Sean "I thought we'd seen the last of you for today" Xander said "You going to be showing up often like this?"
"On and off" Sean replied "I just stopped by to tell you to try and keep Maria and Stuart's lives as normal as possible. That goes for everyone you're going to jump into along this little adventure of yours" he shrugged nonchalantly "Have fun" and with that he disappeared.
Buffy turned to Xander "OK. He maybe cute, but there is no way I'm ever going to like him a lot"
(Later that evening)
Buffy made eye contact with Xander almost as soon as she walked into the Bronze. He was standing at the bar by himself and acknowledged Buffy by giving her a nod and a quick smile.
Buffy smiled back, noting that at least Stuart had a better wardrobe than Xander had, as Xander looked extremely passable in a tight fitting, short sleeved, black shirt and Dockers.
She and Xander had separated about an hour and a half ago. Buffy had left Stuart's home to go back to Maria's to find something else to wear herself and then she had gone over to her *own* home and waited until her younger self had left before sneaking in and pilfering a couple of stakes, a cross and some holy water which were now hidden about her person.
Buffy walked around the edge of the club for a couple of minutes before she spotted Cara and a tall, pretty brunette she vaguely recognised as being Louisa. Buffy plastered a smile on her face and made her way over to the two girls who were seated by themselves at a table, a drink infront of them both.
Buffy steeled herself as she sat down opposite the two girls "So... what did I miss at school?"
After a couple of minutes watching Buffy get settled with her two new 'friends', Xander cast a sidelong glance into the mirror at the back of the bar and looked at his reflection. He gave himself a mental shake and muttered "Oh boy" under his breath.
At least all they had to do was stay in the Bronze until midnight and then they'd be out of here and on to the next job.
Whatever that was.
And to make matters worse he was already missing Anya like crazy. Not to mention everyone else.
Xander looked over at Buffy and saw how hard she was trying to look interested in the conversation that was going on around her. Xander knew it had to be just as tough for Buffy, knowing that she couldn't be where she wanted to be and taking care of her mother and Dawn instead of sitting at the Bronze and making conversation with two people she barely knew.
They were both just glad that they weren't doing this alone.
Xander was about to wander away from the bar when he felt a hand on his shoulder.
"Well look who it is" a voice said from behind him.
Xander turned around and came face to face with a large and angry looking guy who, Xander seemed to remember, had picked on him rather a lot most of his life. And at that moment he didn't look too happy with 'Stuart' either.
"Hey Derran" Xander said coolly "And what can I do for you?"
Derran laid his hand heavily on Xander's right shoulder "Well Stuart, it seems that you didn't seem to take any notice of me when I told you to stay the hell away from Maria"
"I hate to state the obvious here Derran, but I'm actually no where near Maria at the moment" Xander kept his voice even, hoping that the evening wasn't suddenly going to go downhill this soon "Looks like I was paying attention"
"Carter" Derran said, gripping Xander's shoulder harder "Don't get smart with me. I don't like it" he got his face within a few inches of Xander's "I know she cut class to spend the day with you" Derran's eyes narrowed "Now are you going to tell me that nothing went on?"
Xander grabbed hold of Derran's wrist and removed Derran's hand from his shoulder "Nothing went on" Xander smiled thinly at Derran who just glared back at him "And I'm sure if you ask Maria she'll say the same thing" Xander held Derran's steely gaze "Now, if you don't mind" Xander finished there and walked off, leaving Derran looking coldly after him.
Buffy had been keeping half an eye on Xander while she was sitting with Louisa and Cara and she couldn't help but smile when she saw Xander just walk away from the guy.
"I thought Derran was gonna kick his ass" Cara said as she turned her attention back to the girls and looked specifically at Buffy "You know it's 'cos you turned Derran down last week, don't you?"
A look of distaste crossed Buffy's face "Can't think why"
Louisa laughed "Maybe it's 'cos you've been more interested in a certain Stuart Carter's ass instead of Derran's" Louisa turned around and watched Xander as he made his way through the throng before she turned back around to Buffy "Can't think why" Louisa grinned.
Buffy grinned genuinely back at Louisa and Cara frowned. Louisa rolled her eyes "Oh please Cara" Louisa said "That's all we ever heard about when you and Stuart were dating. You'd have cut both cheeks off and framed them if you could"
Buffy smirked and Cara stuck her tongue out at both of them "Fine. Mock me. See if I care" she tried to look offended but there was a smile playing on her lips. Cara got off her stool "I'm going to the bathroom. Hopefully by the time I've got back you'll have stopped talking about butts"
Louisa smiled at Buffy when Cara had gone "Maria, don't worry about her. If you start dating Stuart, she's only going to whine for a week before she finds something else to start on about. I mean, you know Cara"
Buffy kept smiling "Yeah"
Louisa gave her an odd look "You OK?"
"Hmm? Oh, no. I'm fine" Buffy tried to reassure her "Just been an odd day"
"Yeah, you don't often skip school" Louisa gave Buffy a conspirital grin "He must be worth it"
"There's a lot more to him than people give him credit for" Buffy replied, smiling back genuinely "He's a good person"
"The Benson seal of approval huh?" Louisa raised both her eyebrows "He must be something special then"
Xander stood by himself in a less crowded area of the Bronze. Xander sighed and looked at his watch and then sighed again. It wasn't anywhere near midnight. He looked back up and tried not to look too startled when Sean appeared in front of him suddenly.
"I know" Sean gave him an apologetic look "But we don't really have an early warning system. OK" he continued "Don't look directly at me when I speak, just keep looking sullen and bored out of your skull like you have been doing and you'll be fine"
"Just get on with it" Xander mumbled as he took a gulp of his drink.
Sean cleared his throat "I've taken your request to the project co-ordinators and they've agreed that due to your, uh, special circumstances, we can inform the relevant people from your lives about what has happened to you"
Xander sighed loudly with relief and got a few odd looks from the few people scattered around him. Sean motioned to Xander to follow him. Xander made his way through the small groups of people after Sean, who just walked through them, literally, to a payphone.
"Pick it up and use it to talk to me" Sean explained "You won't look like such a freak then"
Xander picked up the phone "Thanks for the info" he said, looking gratefully at Sean "Are we still on track for this evening though?" Xander asked, "We're looking good, yeah?"
Sean looked Xander up and down then looked back at Xander, his eyebrow arched suggestively "Works for me"
Xander stared back at him "Sean" he said in hushed tones "I'm having a weird enough day already without having holograms hitting on me"
"Just saying what I think" Sean said with a smile "*And* I'm a holographic *projection*. I am an *actual* person. Unfortunately at the moment I can only look - not touch"
Xander self-consciously crossed his arms infront of his chest, about to reply when Buffy joined them, concern etched on her face. Buffy kept her voice low "I think we might have a problem"
"What is it?" Sean and Xander asked together and gave Buffy an anxious look.
"I'm going to die of boredom" Buffy kept her face straight.
Sean rolled his eyes but Xander gave Buffy a smile of sympathy. "Girly chat not entertaining enough?"
"My perspective on life differs somewhat than theirs" Buffy replied "Not that they aren't nice girls, but I have bigger issues than whether my bag matches my shoes"
"Can I just point out" Sean said "That no excitement is usually a good sign"
"Uh huh" Buffy raised an eyebrow at Sean "Nothing ever goes quietly in this town Sean believe me" she turned to Xander "Wanna dance?"
"Gladly" Xander allowed Buffy to lead him off towards the dancefloor.
Sean watched after hem as they walked off. He shook his head a little and sighed "And when will they understand that they're total newbies to this whole gig" Sean pulled out his little black box and tapped a few keys before disappearing into thin air.
It was a slow song; Buffy had her arms looped loosely around Xander's neck and shoulders and Xander's hands rested gently on Buffy's waist.
"What did Sean want?" Buffy asked.
"Oh, good news" Xander replied "They're able to let the others know what's happened to us" Xander paused for a second "Although it still doesn't make me feel any better about it all"
"That's why I'm trying my hardest not to think about it" Buffy sighed sadly "But it'll work out. It has to"
They danced on for at least another half-hour before someone approached Buffy from behind and tapped her on her shoulder. Buffy turned around to see Cara. Buffy looked expectantly at the other blonde girl.
"Maria, you've got to help me" Cara pleaded "Louisa is in a complete state. She's in the bathroom and she's locked herself in one of the stalls. I can't get her to come out"
"What happened?" Buffy asked, "How did she get like that?"
"I don't know. I wasn't there" Cara confessed "I think some creep might have tried something"
Buffy turned to look at Xander "I'd better go"
Xander nodded "Of course" he then spoke to Cara "I'll ask about - see if anyone knows anything"
"Um... thanks" Cara sounded a little surprised at his words. She smiled briefly at him before heading off with Buffy.
It was about twenty minutes later when Buffy and Cara finally managed to coax her out of the bathroom. Buffy took some money out of Maria's purse, she was sure Maria wouldn't mind, and gave it to Cara when the other girl said she was going to walk Louisa home.
"Get a cab" Buffy insisted "It's too late to think about walking. I'm going to stay" she continued as she walked with Cara and Louisa towards the exit "I'll see if, Xa-, um, Stuart has found anything out"
"I'll call you tomorrow" Cara gave Buffy a small smile before Buffy turned around and headed back into the Bronze.
On her first look around she didn't spot Xander, so she made her way towards the bathroom as nature called. When she left the bathroom a few minutes later, about to resume her search for Xander, a loud clatter in the otherwise quiet corridor that that ran from the bathrooms to the fire exit attracted her attention and Buffy headed a little further down to investigate.
Suddenly two hands grabbed hold of Buffy tightly. One hand quickly clamped itself over her mouth, preventing her from making a sound. The second hand encircled her waist, pulling her back against whoever had hold of her.
Buffy's automatic reaction was, obviously, to try and free herself, but she was finding it difficult. She tried to kick back but it was to no avail and she kept on struggling as she found herself being dragged backwards, out through the fire exit and into the dark, empty area behind the Bronze.
Once out side, Buffy's attacker threw her hard onto the floor and Buffy fell face first onto the dirty, damp ground. Automatically Buffy reached for the stake she tucked in the back of her skirt, but she found it missing. She rolled over onto her back and prepared to flip to her feet and found herself face to face with Derran.
Expecting to see a figure in vamp face, Buffy blinked in surprise when she realised her attacker was human - she could see the slight mist in the air as his warm breath mixed with the cold air. This moment of surprise allowed Derran to grab Buffy by her arm and haul her to her feet. He slammed her back up against the wall and pressed his face close to hers.
"Maria, Maria, Maria" he whispered with menace. Buffy could smell the vast amounts of alcohol on his breath. She tried to struggle free but found she couldn't - Derran wouldn't budge. Derran laughed at her efforts and pushed his whole weight against her, using a free hand to cover her mouth again before Buffy could call out.
"Maria" Derran said again "Y'know you really hurt me when you said you wouldn't go out with me. And now I find that you're off with Carter. That" he said through gritted teeth "*Really* hurts"
Buffy just stared coldly back at Derran and tried to struggle free again, but again it was no good. Derran was human and she couldn't fight. Really, she couldn't. Buffy realised that she had no supernatural strength. That she was just, in this world, a small, skinny brunette and that Derran was a drunk, hulking, six-foot-six quarterback. That she really was in a lot of trouble.
Derran put his mouth barely millimetres from her ear "What's he got that I haven't, huh?" he hissed "Come on, tell me. I wanna know" Derran drew back and smirked at Buffy's futile attempts to still free herself "Don't try and fight it Maria" Derran put another hand on Buffy's thigh, his weight alone enough to still stop Buffy getting away " I know it's me you really want"
Buffy's expletive ridden reply was muffled against Derran's hand and she screwed her eyes shut when his hand then slid further down and lifted the hem of her skirt. They got closed even tighter when Derran's hand started to work it's way slowly up her bare thigh.
Having her eyes shut was probably why she didn't see Xander crack Derran over the head with a piece of two-by-four. Derran immediately recoiled, bringing both his hands to his head. He staggered backwards which allowed Buffy to get away. She moved about a couple of feet and slid down to the floor, her legs suddenly like jelly, as she watched Xander hit Derran on his back, sending the quarterback to his knees.
Xander went over to Buffy and was about to help her to her feet when he saw the panicked look in her eyes that was directed over his shoulder and fell to the side with Buffy as Derran launched himself at them. Derran hit the wall. It didn't deter him and Derran was soon back on his feet, dragging Xander back with him, away from Buffy who was still in shock.
Buffy winced as Derran hit Xander hard in the face, causing her friend to fall to the floor. But Xander's quick reactions meant that when Derran went for him again, Xander sideswiped the bigger guy, bringing Derran to the floor beside him. Xander flipped himself on the Derran and got three or four good bone crunching punches in before he realised that Derran was unconscious. He got to his feet and kicked Derran in his side for good measure.
Xander looked over to Buffy, who was now on her feet. She looked at Xander with wide eyes "I couldn't fight him" she whispered softly "I-I tried but I-I- c-couldn't. I-I-"
Xander was by her side "Hey shhh" he comforted her, wrapping his arms around her, Xander's hand resting gently on the back of her head when Buffy buried her face in his chest "Buffy, it's OK"
Buffy's hands clutched at the back of Xander's shirt, her nails digging into Xander's flesh a little, but he didn't complain. "I'm not the Slayer anymore " she sobbed quietly "It's all gone"
Xander kissed the top of her head "It's going to be OK" he tried to sound convincing for Buffy "We'll cope"
Buffy tilted her tear-stained face up to him "How?"
"We have to" Xander replied, using Buffy's own words from earlier.
Buffy sniffed delicately and took one hand away from Xander to wipe her tears away. She looked over at where Derran still lay on the ground then looked back at Xander "You really kicked his ass"
"*No* one messes with *any* of my girls" Xander replied, trying to keep it light, but Buffy could see he was totally serious.
Buffy smiled a little though "My hero"
"You two better get inside"
Buffy and Xander broke apart a little when both turned to see that Sean had appeared a few feet away. Xander stared evenly at Sean "You'd better tell us we aren't expecting anymore trouble tonight"
Sean looked at Derran lying on the floor and then tapped a few keys on his little black gadget "Looks like he'll have a headache and a fair few bruises, but nothing worse. The cops'll catch up to him too"
"If you know so much" Buffy said, sounding hurt "You could've warned me"
"He warned me" Xander explained to Buffy "I got out here as quick as I could. It took me a couple of moments before I realised you weren't winning"
"Something I'll have to get used to" Buffy realised sadly. She leaned against Xander when he put his arm around her shoulder "I just want to go home" she sighed.
"We're trying" Sean reassured them "We *will* get you back"
"Just a question of *when*, right?" Xander asked in a tired voice.
Sean gave them both an apologetic smile "Just think of the people you now get to help. The difference you'll make"
"We're always helping people" Buffy replied "It's going to be nothing new"
"Oh, it'll always be new" Sean said, an odd smile flitting over his face before he disappeared into thin air.
Buffy could hear voices from not too far away "Best we get inside, huh?" she said to Xander. He nodded and they both walked the few steps back over to the fire exit that was banging to and fro slightly in the breeze. As they were about to re-enter the Bronze again, Buffy glanced up at Xander just in time to see him bathed in a bright white light, tinted with blue streaks...
... and then everything went black.
Read the next episode Daddy's Girl
Back to Xander/Buffy Index