The New Adventures of Buffy and Xander
Episode Two: "Daddy's Girl"
Summary:Family relationships could turn Buffy and Xander’s second leap into their last.
Xander blinked once everything became light again. Then he blinked a couple more times when he realised he wasn't seeing things and that, indeed, Buffy was sitting astride him as he laid on his back on the floor and that, indeed, she did have his hands pinned to the floor above his head.
It took Buffy about the same amount of time as Xander to realise her position. She let go of his hands immediately and sat upright, but didn't actually get up off him.
"Where the hell are we?" she muttered looking around. There was no one else in the room.
They appeared to be in someone's very large sitting room. A very rich some one. It was tastefully decorated with a mixture of antique and modern looking furnishings. She and Xander were upon a large Oriental rug that lay between a huge fireplace and a large brown leather couch.
"Um Buff" Xander said hesitantly "You think maybe you wanna move?"
Buffy arched one eyebrow "Are you saying I'm heavy?"
"No, no" Xander said quickly "You're a tiny person. It's just-" Xander didn't get any further as he saw, just to the right of Buffy, someone else enter the room.
It was a fairly tall, pretty blonde woman in her late thirties. She was perfectly coifed and immaculately dressed in a cream, linen suit. She took one look at Buffy and Xander - Buffy was still straddling Xander - and put a hand to her brow and muttered something unintelligible under her breath.
"Susan dear" she spoke curtly "Please get off your father"
Buffy turned and blinked slowly at the older woman who was now walking over to them "Um…" Buffy turned back to Xander who just looked back unhelpfully at her. Buffy scooted quickly off of Xander and sat to the side of him, looking back at the blonde woman apprehensively.
"And don't say 'um'" the other woman replied, now only a foot away "Young *ladies* don't say 'um'"
"You just did" Buffy retorted, suppressing the urge to stick her tongue out.
The older woman ignored Buffy and looked to Xander, who had now propped himself up on his elbows, "Andrew" she continued in the same sharp tone "I can't believe this. You’ve only had *one* hour with her and now she's *back-chatting* me?" she sighed a little disgustedly and put her hands on her hips "And what were you two doing? Wrestling? She's *twelve* Andrew. *Twelve*"
"Twelve?" Buffy mouthed silently //And this just gets better//.
"Which mean she's still a *kid*" Xander replied, having no problems in matching the glare he was receiving from the blonde woman. Xander stood up and straightened out his clothes "Why don't you lighten up?"
"Susan" the woman's tone was softer but still firm "Room. Now"
"But I-" Buffy was about to protest further when Sean suddenly appeared beside the woman.
"Go" he said "I can talk to you then. I'll meet you at the top of the stairs after I've filled Xander in a some stuff"
"Go on Susan" Xander put a hand on her shoulder "I'll talk to you a little later"
Buffy looked up at him "Sure. *Dad*" Buffy got up and headed towards the door that she saw led on to a hall way. She turned around just before she was about to exit and saw Xander take a defensive stance. Buffy managed to catch his eye for a brief moment and gave him a sympathetic smile before going out into the hallway.
Xander wanted desperately to follow after Buffy. How come she got it easy? //OK. I can do this. I dated Cordelia//.
"Her names Felicity" Sean explained to Xander, indicating the woman he was standing next to "Your ex-wife"
"Andrew" Felicity sat down on the couch and put one hand to her forehead "I'm tired of this"
"Tired of what?" Xander asked.
Sean tapped a few keys on his pad "You divorced three years ago and you’re visiting your daughter Susan" Sean told Xander "You're loaded and this used to be your house" he shrugged at Xander "That should be enough for now. I'll go check in with Buffy'. Sean disappeared.
"Tired of Susan thinking you're Mr Wonderful" Felicity dropped both her hands into her lap and frowned a little at Xander "When you’re anything but"
"Felicity" Xander kept his expression blank "I really think that I should be spending my time here with Susan, don't you?"
Felicity stood up and brushed a strand of hair off her forehead that had dared to fall out of place "I guess I should be glad that you actually want to spend time with her"
"Yeah… well" Xander began to feel a little awkward - he wasn’t really geared up for a conversation about parenting "Look, I should go up to her" Xander nodded his head towards the door "I’ll check in with you later, yeah?"
Felicity shrugged disinterestedly and walked away from him, starting to examine a display of flowers. Xander rolled his eyes and headed in the direction Buffy had taken.
Buffy had jogged up the stairs and almost fell back down them again when Sean suddenly materialised in front of her.
"Geez " Buffy steadied herself against the landing railing "Watch it with that would you?"
"You really like shooting the messenger don't you?"
"What?" Buffy gave Sean an odd look. She waved it off "Never mind. Where's my room?" Buffy asked, ignoring Sean's comment for the moment "I want to find a mirror"
Sean sighed and led Buffy down the upper hallway to a large bedroom, decorated not unlike the rest of the house but obviously a kid's room as there were posters on the wall and toys scattered around the edge of the room. Buffy went immediately to the standing full size mirror that was in one corner of the room.
"Oh my god" Buffy waved her hand slowly a couple of times at her reflection "I really *am* twelve". Buffy's reflection showed a girl, just a little bit shorter than Buffy and about the same build, with dark hair in two plaits either side of her head that hung down to her waist. She had a sweetly pretty face with a smattering of freckles over her nose and cheeks and large brown eyes framed by long lashes.
Sean stood behind her "I think it's the Kermit T-shirt that adds that finishing touch"
Buffy turned around and shot Sean a dark look.
"Do your mothers teach you *that* *look*?" Sean asked "Or is it something that just comes naturally to all women?"
"Actually" Buffy replied, putting her hands on her hips "You think they just take us girls aside when we're at school to talk about periods, when in fact, they’re actually teaching us how to do the *look*. We're not allowed to leave until we've mastered it totally"
"Well, you learn something new everyday"
Buffy scowled at him and stomped past him and sat down on Susan's big, pink quilt-covered bed. "You never said anything before about me not having my Slayer powers. That's kind of a *big* something to miss out"
"Buffy, if we'd have known we were getting a superhero we could have calibrated the computer to your vitals and kept you with your strength" Sean tried to explain "*But* because you're here by mistake" he carried on "We can't. It’s too late now"
"I'm just saying" Buffy responded "That it would have been nice to know that *before* I got attacked by that asshole Derran"
"I'm sorry" Sean said earnestly "Really. That's another reason why we go tag team with leapers now" Sean explained as Buffy flopped backwards onto the bed "Its safer in numbers"
"Why are we here Sean?"
"You're Susan Mackintosh. The woman downstairs with Xander is your mother, Felicity. Xander leaped into her ex-husband, Andrew-"
"My dad" Buffy finished "Oh, this is going to be heaps of fun"
"Oh, come on Buff" Xander said as he entered the room "I'll buy you ice-cream, push you on the swings. We'll have a blast"
"You escaped and found us then?" Buffy sat up and smiled at Xander.
"Just followed the voices" Xander replied, sitting next to Buffy. He looked at Sean "What's up then?"
"Felicity goes missing. We don't know how or why or where" Sean replied "It's all vague" he gave them both an apologetic look "Blame the damn computer. Not me"
"We *are* dumping all of this on you aren't we?" Xander said a little awkwardly.
"Pretty much" Sean replied "But then you're pissed off and I'm the human face of the whole thing for you" Sean shrugged "S'understandable"
"Great" Buffy said as Xander got up, him having spotted the mirror in the corner "Now we've got that sorted out, can you tell us how we're supposed to stop this woman from going missing?"
"Just keep tabs on her" Sean replied "Keep an eye out for anything suspicious. It's all you can do until we can get more info for you" Sean turned to look at Xander who was poking at his face "Xander, it's only a reflection" Sean walked over to him and stood at his side "It's not *you*"
Buffy got up too and joined the guys at the mirror and looked at Xander's reflection "Ooh check out the George Michael wannabe" Buffy smirked, noting the hair and stubble. And the tight jeans. "Very Wham"
Xander's reflection glared back at Buffy "Can it Kermit"
Sean cleared his throat to get their attention. The other two turned to look at him expectantly "Can I leave you two to it?" Sean asked, "I'll try smacking the computer a bit. See if won't tell us something more"
"Sure" Buffy said, "Me and Dad can cope"
Sean grinned at Xander's pained expression "Have fun"
Buffy headed over to Susan's desk when Sean disappeared. She ran her fingers lightly over the small stack of study books that lay in one corner. There was a pot of pens and pencils next to them, but most importantly there was also a calendar. "June fifth, nineteen ninety" Buffy read out loud.
"Well that explains most of the décor" Xander said, looking around the room.
Buffy joined Xander as he gazed out of the window "So… whatcha want to do Dad?"
Xander looked down at her and rolled his eyes. Buffy had put on an innocent face and was really managing to pull off the little girl act, especially as her own hair was in plaits too. Xander pretended to look stern "Do you want me to ground you?"
Buffy stuck her tongue out at him.
Buffy grinned "Come on. I guess if this is *my* house, it won't look odd if I start poking around"
"You mean look for clues?"
"Well, we are still the Scooby Gang" Buffy replied "Even if we are down a few pesky kids"
Xander's expression became more serious "You think the others took it well?"
Buffy sighed "I don't know Xander" Buffy turned to look out the window "I hope so" Buffy rested her arms on the window sill "But I know I can't worry about them and keep doing this"
Xander took up the same position on the sill as Buffy "Plus you aren't Slay gal anymore" Xander said softly "That's gotta be tough"
Buffy leaned a little up against Xander "Ill cope. It's not gonna be forever"
They stood in silence for a few moments before Buffy spoke again. "You want to go raid some cupboards?"
"Sure thing kid"
(An hour later)
Buffy and Xander had managed to find themselves in Felicity's bedroom on their hunt around the house. Xander had thought that maybe there would be a few maids or other people around the house, but it appeared that there was only he and Buffy and Felicity - wherever she was now.
Still, Xander kept his voice low "Buffy, I still don't know if we've found anything useful" Xander picked up a picture of Felicity and Susan that was on one of the nightstands "Hell, I don't know what we can say *is* useful"
Buffy's head was buried in one part of the wardrobe that ran the full length of one wall "Um, I don't know Xan" came her muffled voice "Letters or-or something written down" Buffy closed the wardrobe door and turned around to face Xander "Nothing in there"
Xander walked over to Buffy and showed her the picture he'd picked up "Looks like Susan and her mom don't get along too well"
"What makes you say that?" Buffy said as she studied the photo "They both look happy"
"Believe me Buff" Xander said "I got me enough pictures like this back at my parents place to know what I'm talking about"
"Oh" Buffy wasn't too sure what else to say as Xander put the picture back where he found it. Buffy cast another quick look around the room before her gaze cam back to rest on Xander and saw him looking at a few more pictures on the dressing table "You think it might be a clue or something?"
"Maybe. I don't know" Xander walked back over to Buffy "You could try and talk to her" he suggested "See if she says anything that might help us"
"Ugh" Buffy's shoulders sagged "Why can't you talk to her?"
"Because I don't live here" Xander reminded her gently "And I don't think I got off to such a good start with her"
"OK, I'll give it a go" Buffy agreed reluctantly.
"I'll do some digging when I leave here. Our favourite holographic projection might have some more information by then" Xander reached round to the back of his jeans and pulled out a wallet. He flicked through it before finding what he was looking for. Xander handed Buffy a small card with Andrew' home number on it "We'll need to keep in touch if we aren’t outta here by tonight" he said, "It'll probably be easier for you to get in touch with me"
Buffy looked at the card then looked back at Xander "Y'know, I kinda like take-charge you" she said with a smile.
"Yeah, so does Anya"
"Can I just ask *exactly* what is the *thing* you can do with the vaulting horse?"
"What are you two doing in here?"
Buffy and Xander's heads snapped round when they heard Felicity's voice cut across the room.
"Umm… hide and seek?" Buffy ventured.
"She found me" Xander added quickly "We were about to start again" a thought flashed through his mind "You want to play?"
Felicity put her hands on her hips "Excuse me?"
Xander took a few steps towards her "Do you want to play?" he repeated "Come on Felicity, it'll be fun"
Buffy gave Xander a brief puzzled look, wondering what he was doing, "Uh… yeah sure mom" Buffy looked at Felicity and smiled a little, hoping it was a good plan that Xander had "We'll go hide and dad can spend hours trying to find us"
Felicity looked at her daughter apprehensively "This isn't some kind of trick you two are playing on me is it?"
"Not that I'm aware of" Xander flashed her a goofy grin "Come on" he cajoled "Ya know ya wanna"
"Hide and seek?" Felicity was still looking at them both dubiously "I-I don't-"
"Mom, come on" Buffy grabbed hold of Felicity’s hand, realising that Xander thought that if Felicity was relaxed she might open up to Buffy a little and that it also gave Xander the chance to snoop about the house "We’ll go hide together" Buffy continued "Dad can count extra long, like a thousand or something, so we get a really good place"
Felicity didn’t really have time to protest as Buffy tugged her towards the door, leaving Xander behind to start the search.
Once Buffy and Felicity were far enough out of the way, Xander took another long look around the room. He double checked the drawers and even went through the wardrobe again, but couldn’t find anything that would relate to why Felicity might go missing. Xander scanned over the surfaces of the cabinets and shelves, but still he found nothing else that caught his attention.
Sighing, Xander made his way over to the one door he and Buffy had opened but not checked the room behind it. Felicity’s en suite bathroom. On first impressions it looked spotless to Xander. Really. Every surface gleamed, towels were hung on rails and not the floor, there wasn’t even the slightest hint of mildew on the tiles. Xander shook his head in disbelief //How can people live like this?//.
Yawning, Xander ran a hand through his hair. He turned to his left and caught sight of himself in the mirror of the medicine cabinet that was fixed on the wall above the sink. Xander figured that he might be a little younger than Felicity, early thirties maybe - although Andrew was trying to look younger than that. //Hardly ‘Wham’ though. Maybe more ‘Faith’//. Xander brushed some dark blonde hair off his forehead before shaking his head again. He closed his eyes, leaning forward so his head rested on the reflective glass //Our lives are different from other peoples//
"I really don't know what's got into your father" Felicity sighed as she was still led by the hand by Buffy "Most of the time he barely speaks to me when he is here with you and now he wants to play children’s games?"
"*Mom*" Buffy stopped which meant Felicity had to stop as well. Buffy put her hands on her hips and pouted, hoping that she looked childlike enough for the older woman "Please, can we all try and get on?" Buffy widened her eyes - trying for the puppy dog look "You used to be married to Dad. You must have liked him a little"
Felicity pressed her lips together and narrowed her eyes at Buffy, not in anger, but in puzzlement "What side of the bed did you get out this morning I wonder?"
Buffy shrugged "What? I can’t be nice?"
"You can be sweetie" Felicity replied "It’s just that you do seem to choose your moments. This morning you told me that I was the wicked bitch of the west" Felicity smiled much to Buffy’s surprise "Believe me, I would have been upset had you not then called your fathers new girlfriend the exact same thing"
"Well… I didn’t mean it"
"About me or her?"
"Glad to hear it sweetie. Glad to hear it"
(Half and hour later)
Xander had searched through all the rooms on the upper floor //Place is like the Tardis// Xander thought as he stood at the top of the stairs //How am I gonna find Buffy?//. Xander jogged quickly down the stairs and was about to wander off to investigate the hallway to his right when Sean appeared.
"Just the person" Xander stated quietly "You have anything else for us?"
Sean shook his head "Not as yet. You find anything we might be able to run past the computer?"
"Couple of things" Xander replied "Mother and daughter don’t seem to get along so well and I also found some anti-depressants in her bathroom cabinet"
"Anti-depressants? Hardly solid stuff" Sean replied "Lots of people take them"
"Yeah? Well there isn’t a lot *else* to go on Sean"
"Maybe Buffy’s found something"
"Yeah…" Xander slumped back against the nearest wall "… maybe"
"Xander, this job can be tough" Sean told him "Don’t worry too much if everything doesn’t click together immediately. It does work out eventually"
Xander sighed "And I guess you are the voice of experience, huh?"
"I am. Trust me" Sean grinned "I have a ninety-eight percent success-" the black box in Sean’s hand beeped at him. Sean flipped the lid on it and looked at the small screen "And what do we have… oh crap" Sean tapped a few keys before looking back up at Xander "OK. Substitute 'missing' with 'kidnapped'
Xander stood back from the wall "Kidnapped?" he ran both his hands over his hair and kept them clasped at the back of his neck "When?"
"Soon" Sean replied "Tonight or tomorrow morning" he scanned the screen again "That's as much as we've got though"
"Do we know why she was kidnapped?"
"Nothing concrete" Sean replied. He looked around the hall they were standing in before looking back to Xander "But my first thought would be money"
"What happened the first time round?" Xander asked, his hands dropping back down to his sides "If it *was* money then what about a ransom demand or something? Wouldn't it be on a police file?"
"Not if they weren't informed about it"
"Damn it" Xander swiped a hand down his face "I need to find Buffy"
"She’s in the garage"
"To the left and go straight on through the kitchen. Xander" Sean said "Try not to alarm Felicity. If we keep it normal, it’ll be easier to see if anything is… well, not normal"
"I’ll try" Xander began to make his way down the hall. Then he stopped and turned around "Sean, you never-" Xander stopped hen he saw that Sean wasn’t there. Xander shook his head and muttered "The guy is worse than Deadboy"
(A short while later)
"What's going on?" Buffy murmured out of the side of her mouth to Xander and they lagged deliberately behind, following after Felicity who was heading back into the main part of the house "You've got anxious face"
"I have?" he murmured back. Xander had been trying to play it cool since 'finding' Buffy and Felicity all of five minutes ago "I was going for calm and collected face"
Xander gave her a brief nod in reply, only just escaping notice from Felicity as she turned around when Buffy and Xander reached the kitchen.
"Do you two want something to eat?" Felicity asked "Mind you, I’ve given Helena the weekend off, so it’ll be whatever she’s left in the freezer"
"Sure" Xander took a seat at the breakfast bar "Whatever it is has got to better than what I’ve got at home" he began tapping his fingers lightly on the counter top "You seem in a better mood than you were before" Xander remarked, wondering if it was because she taken any of those pills he'd found earlier "What gives?"
"Well, Andrew" Felicity's voice was slightly patronising "Believe it or not, I don't get a thrill out of being a bitch"
Buffy poked Xander in the thigh "Hey Dad?" Buffy sent silent signals to him "Didn't you want to show me that thing?"
"Susan dear" Felicity broke in before Xander could respond to Buffy "I'm sure whatever it is, it can wait until later"
Felicity arched one eyebrow "Do you want to see the wicked bitch of the west again?"
"No" Buffy said reluctantly. She gave Xander an exasperated look when the older woman turned her back.
Xander looked quickly over at Felicity, still turned away from them, before putting his mouth to Buffy's ear "Kidnapped" he whispered as softly as he could "Not missing"
Buffy drew back and looked at Xander with wide eyes "Kidnapped?" she mouthed. Xander nodded. Buffy looked to Felicity who was now pottering around by a counter the other side of the kitchen. She turned to Xander "When?" she mouthed again.
"Soon" Xander mouthed back.
"Damn" Felicity exclaimed softly after she banged a cupboard door shut loudly. She turned around "I bought some groceries yesterday and I think I've left something in the car"
"Do you really need it mom?" Buffy asked.
"Probably. Andrew, could you go check for me?" Felicity asked "The keys are on the table by the door. It's probably under the front seat. Susan and I can make a start on something here"
"Uh… yeah" Xander got up off the stool "OK. Sure" he began to make his way to the door "You want me to get anything else outta there?"
"No, I think that’s it" Felicity answered. Xander gave her a brief nod and headed out.
He found his way to the front door easy enough and picked up the only keys from the only table near the front door. One of the key fobs had a Lotus emblem and Xander raised and appreciative eyebrow //Maybe I can take it for a quick spin…//
Xander opened the front door and began tossing the keys from hand to hand, but as soon as he saw the outside of the front of the house, he stopped.
As Xander stood in the doorway, stone steps fanned out infront of him in a semi-circle. A gravel driveway separated the steps from the lush green lawn, a lawn that was edged with beautiful bright flowers. On the driveway stood a British racing green Lotus.
"I’m gonna have to ask if I can stay" Xander’s shoulder’s sagged though when he a little voice in his head told him he couldn’t. He sighed and jogged down a couple of steps towards the car. He noticed a alarm dis-abler amongst the keys he held and brought was about to depress the button, he heard:
Xander’s head whipped around and he saw Sean. At the same time Xander’s thumb put the lightest pressure on the raised button...
Then the car exploded.
Buffy made a bolt for the door as soon as she heard the explosion, but as soon as she made it into the hallway, Felicity had grabbed hold of her arm and pulled her back.
"No!" Felicity commanded "Stay here!". The older woman left hold of Buffy and ran towards the still open front door.
Buffy ignored the older woman and ran after here, but almost colliding with Felicity when she got outside. Buffy moved around Felicity whose hands had flown to her face in shock. Buffy’s cry caught in her throat when she saw the remains of the car, flames licking the metal shell and black smoke billowing up into the sky.
A strangled sob finally escaped Buffy’s lip when she saw Xander’s body lying prostrate on his stomach across the bottom of the steps. He wasn’t moving but he was just out of reach of the flames from the car. Buffy hurried over to him, sobbing again when she saw him closer up.
The force of the explosion hadn’t sent him very far, but debris had torn through his clothing and Buffy saw blackened flesh on his back, his limbs, hands and what she could see of his face. Flesh that in some places was also burned and bloody.
With tears flowing down her cheeks Buffy rolled Xander over onto his back and was greeted with similar injuries on his limbs, to a lesser extent than those on his back, but the injuries to his torso were the same. The worst being a large burn to his upper chest, covering most of his left shoulder and neck.
"No!" Buffy started to shake Xander by his shoulders "No! Nooo! Xander!"
But there was no response from him. Xander’s eyes stayed closed and no breath came in sudden gasps from his mouth. Buffy drew him up a little towards her, almost cradling him against her chest "Xan?" Buffy tears rolled off her cheeks and fell on to Xander’s face "Xander?" she whimpered again softly "Please wake up. Please" Buffy’s voice fell to a whisper as she began caressing the side of his face "Xander"
Suddenly Buffy felt strong arms pull her back, making her lose her hold of Xander, leaving him to fall back onto the steps.
"Nooo!" Buffy cried out as she was pulled up to her feet. She looked up through teary eyes, expecting to see Felicity, but instead she saw a strange man. A strange man who then proceeded to shove a gun in her face. "No! What?!"
Buffy looked around and saw Felicity being manhandled down the steps courtesy of two large men clad in dark clothes, one of whom had a gun and was holding it against Felicity’s stomach. They appeared to be taking her towards a largish white van that had suddenly appeared from nowhere, parked just behind the still flaming wreck of the Lotus.
"What’s going on?" Buffy demanded, trying to appear calm, but the tears that still flowed gave her away.
"Listen little girl" the guy removed the gun from Buffy’s face and shoved it back inside his shoulder holster "Just keep still and quiet and you won’t end up crispy like ya pop, OK?"
Buffy looked down again at Xander’s limp form and swallowed back some more sobs. The man tightened his grip on Buffy’s arm and pulled her with him as he walked away from Xander and towards the van.
"Sean!" Buffy called out at the top of her lungs, not caring if she seemed looped or not "Sean! Get your ass out here now!"
"Who the hell is she talking to?!" the man who had hold of Buffy waved his gun at Felicity "I thought there was no-one else here!"
"There isn’t!" Felicity’s voice was shrill "I-I don’t know who this Sean is!"
"Get the bitch in the van Karl" Buffy ‘s captor commanded the man who was jabbing a gun into Felicity "Si, you take a look around" he spoke to the other man who was with Felicity "I don’t want to miss *any*one"
"We checked before T" Karl spoke to Buffy’s captor "There ain’t no one else here"
"Yeah T, we ain’t got time" Si (or Simon as he was also known) glanced at his watch pointedly "We need to get rollin’"
"Then don’t stand here arguin’ with me! Karl get her in the van and Si, you get the old man" he indicated Xander with a nod of his head "I’m sure he won’t mind ridin’ in the back"
As Karl began to hustle Felicity in to the back of the van, Buffy whirled around, taking her captor by surprise and ergo freeing herself from his grip "Bastard!" Buffy raised her foot and slammed it into his kneecap. ‘T’ reeled back and staggered backwards into the cab of the van.
"*Sean*!" Buffy called out again "Sean!"
Simon grabbed hold of Buffy from behind as she attempted to run. Buffy stomped hard on his foot and as Simon fell forward slightly, Buffy slammed her head back into his face, eliciting a cry of anguish from Simon.
Buffy spun around with a high kick. Buffy realised that she might not have her strength to put behind her moves any more but she could still fight and nothing was going to stop her from trying to save herself and Felicity from this situation.
Her kick connected with Simon’s head. She ducked out of ‘T’s reach but Simon recovered quickly and caught hold of her and shoved her to the floor. He went for her again but Buffy kicked hard at his shin and scrambled away and began to run again back up the steps and towards the house. Buffy rushed inside and slammed the door shut behind her.
"Leave her!" someone shouted from group still outside "She’s just a kid. She can’t do anything. Lets just get Andrew and get out of here!"
Buffy’s chest heaved with sobs as she leant back against the closed front door. She slid down to the floor, her knees tucked up against her chest and her arms wrapped around her legs.
//He can’t be dead. He can’t be…//
//But he wasn't moving. He was so burnt. He looked so hurt//
"*Buffy* you *need* to get *up*. *Buffy*!"
Buffy raised her head and tried to focus through her tears "What?" she croaked out as a whisper "What?"
Sean crouched down beside her "You have to get up and get after him" he stated clearly but urgently "Buffy, come on"
"I-I can't. I-I-" Buffy broke off and scrubbed at her eyes "Xander's dead. He-he's dead"
"By the love of all things holy and god like we have been blessed" Sean told her. Buffy looked confused. Sean smiled warmly "We still have vitals for him" his smile then faded a little "But they're not strong. That's why we need to get moving *now*"
"He's not dead?" Buffy sniffled "Really?"
"Really" Sean confirmed "Please Buffy, we need to get going"
Buffy started to get to her feet and wiped at her eyes again "But how? How do I go after them? I don’t even know where they *are*"
"So long as Xander stays with them" Sean held up his little black box "I can find them. Now *come* *on*"
"Again, I say *how*?"
"You can drive can’t you?"
"Sure, but-but I don’t think the one out there-"
"Andrew’s car is out front of the garage. Keys under the left tyre. Buffy-" Sean spun around as Buffy sped past him "Okaaay"
Sean de-materialised and then reappeared next to Andrew’s Porsche "And he keeps the keys under there?" Sean shook his head as Buffy claimed the keys and getting into the car.
"OK!" Sean said as he appeared by Buffy in the passenger seat "Lets go save that boy’s cute ass"
Simon pressed his hand to his head and swore. He drew back his hand and frowned when he saw the spots of blood on it. He glared angrily at Felicity "D'ya see what your kid did?"
"That's hardly *my* fault, is it?" Felicity scowled back at him "How was I supposed to know she could do that?"
"She's *your* kid" Karl replied from the passenger seat as 'T' was driving. Karl turned around to peer into the back of the van. There was a metal grill separating the cabin from the rest of the van, which had cushioned benches either side. Felicity was sitting opposite Simon and Xander lay on the floor on his back, still not moving. "You could have warned us she was a mini ninja"
Felicity gave him the finger "And *you* could have least wired up the damn car properly so it blew up when he was *in* it" she retorted "And *not* when he was *outside* it"
"Tell me again why we didn't just leave him there" 'T' called out "What difference does it make?"
"It shows them that we, sorry *you*, mean business" she replied "What you're capable of" Felicity brushed a speck of dirt of her skirt "Thankfully you put on a good enough show of force for the surveillance cameras" she nudged Xander's limp leg with the toe of her shoe "And I don't think Susan is much of a position to foil our plans. You get the 'ransom' for me. I give you your share" she shrugged "And maybe I might just dump the little brat off on some relatives because" Felicity put her hand to her brow theatrically "The stress of the kidnap is just about killing me'
Karl grinned at her "You lady, are a piece of work"
Felicity grinned back at him "Don't you know? I'm the wicked bitch of the west"
"I thought you could *drive*" Sean said as he eyes the road before them warily.
"I *am* *driving*" Buffy turned to glare at him.
"Eyes on the road!" Sean winced as they swerved out of their lane then back again. "Well, could you drive a little *less* like Michael Schumacher and *more* like someone who won't get pulled over by the cops"
"I'm *twelve* Sean" Buffy pointed out, gunning the car a little more "They're probably gonna pull me over no matter *how* I'm driving"
"Uhh… OK. Actually I didn't think of that" Sean took in Buffy's pigtails and Muppet T-shirt "Maybe you shouldn't get pulled over. Continue with the Schumacher impression"
"Well, if I knew who he was I would, but I’ll just keep going fast ‘kay?" A determined look settled on Buffy’s face "And as for impressions" she glanced quickly at Sean then back to the road "You should see my one of Gandhi"
"I won’t ask"
"It’s really good *and* it doesn’t involve a giant diaper" Buffy hung a sharp right at Sean indication "I plan on showing it to those bastards who got Xander" pain flickered over Buffy’s face "He’s still… I mean-"
"Yeah, he’s doing OK" Sean finished for her "Barely though" he added softly "We can’t waste too much time"
"I don’t plan to" Buffy replied "They’ll *all* pay" Buffy gripped the wheel tighter "How far behind are we?"
"A couple more minutes we’ll have them in sight" Sean glanced sideways at Buffy "So do we have a plan then?"
"Do you think we *should* have one?"
"I’m more an ‘up and at ‘em’ kind of girl"
"But the police might be interested"
"You think we should have called them before we left?"
"I hate hindsight"
Xander’s eyes wouldn’t open. They were too heavy and they hurt. Everything about him hurt. In his head he could hear the sickeningly slow beat of his heart and it took all his concentration to remember to breathe - and that was something he was barely doing at all.
Above the slow beat of his heart he could hear muffled sounds - voices and a low hum of some kind //most likely an engine// Xander thought, judging from the vibrations he could feel through his body. He could also pick up the faint smell of burning, or something burnt. Acrid and not like a wood burn… something different.
He wondered where Buffy was. Was she near him? Did she know he was hurt? Was she hurt too? Xander tried again to open his eyes, but he couldn’t. Resignation filled him. Maybe if he just stayed still for a little longer it might get better.
//Or maybe not// Wracking pain filled him suddenly as he felt himself being pulled along. Where hands had hold of him, he realised that the burning smell was him. Cries caught in his throat as he felt his flesh becoming even more torn as he was dragged along on his back and it didn’t seem to stop. Xander willed himself to block it out… just concentrate on breathing… try and stay in the happy place… happy place… Anya… Anya doing stuff to him that you really shouldn’t do in public… OK, better… just a little better…
… just remember to breathe.
Sean looked down at the small screen of his little black box. He tapped a few keys then looked up and out of the front window ant the empty road ahead "Uhh Buffy, I think you'd better start slowing down" Sean looked across at her "Unless you want them to see us when we go over the top of that next hill"
Buffy eased her foot back off the accelerator and took in the now slowly passing scenery. As she was driving on the right, she guessed that she was still in her home country - but as to where, she didn't know. Everything was so non-descript. When they'd driven out of the grounds of Felicity's house, they'd started to pass fewer and fewer cars and fewer and fewer buildings. The ground around them now was flat, dotted only with a few trees and the occasional billboard.
"Can you check ahead?" Buffy asked him "I want to know what I'm going into"
"I was going to anyway" Sean indicated a spot up ahead to the side of the road "Pull in there. I'll come back to you as soon as I've done the recon"
As Sean disappeared, Buffy let the tears fall that she'd been holding back while he'd been with her. She took one hand off the steering wheel briefly to try and wipe them away, but soon gave up. As Buffy pulled over to the side of the road and stopped the car, her cries started to become more vocal and she slumped forward, her head resting on the wheel and her shoulders shaking as images of Xander's fallen and burnt body refused to leave her mind.
//Why is this always happening?//
After a few minutes, Buffy pushed herself backwards and sank back into the seat. She took a few deep breaths and ran both her hands over her head, trying to calm herself down.
//It’s not going to help anyone if I start being emotional breakdown girl//
Buffy undid her seat belt and reached over to the glove compartment, hoping to find a tissue or something she could refresh herself with. Instead when she flipped the catch the door fell open and something fell out. Buffy fished about on the floor and came back up with her bounty. A phone.
"Jeez, I forgot these things used to be the size of buses and God damn!" she swore when suddenly Sean appeared, making her jump and causing her to almost drop the phone "What’s going on?" she asked "And Xander?"
"Xander’s still with us" Sean replied, causing Buffy to sigh with relief. Sean frowned a little "But there’s something else"
"Felicity’s in on it"
Buffy’s jaw set firmly "I’ll kill her" Buffy slammed her fist on the steering wheel, causing the horn to sound off "I’ll strangle her with those damn pearls that drip from her neck. I’ll - I’ll rip her pretty manicured nails from her fingers and stick them in her eyes. I’ll-"
"OK, OK I’m getting the picture. Listen Buffy, we need back up. We need-" Sean broke off when Buffy showed him the phone "We need that"
(A short while later)
"Buffy?" Sean appeared next to the blonde as she stood on tiptoe to peer through a window "Exactly how many of the rescue services did you call out?"
"However many believed me when I told them what was going on" Buffy replied, turning to Sean "What do you think?"
"So long as they check out that car wreck I’m pretty sure we’ll get someone out here"
"Good" Buffy turned back, looking through the window again.
"So, if all those people are hopefully coming to save the day, um, why are we creeping about the house that Felicity and those others are holed up in?"
"You know nothing about me at all do you?"
"I’m beginning to think that, yeah" Sean literally stuck his head through the wall to see inside the house that Felicity and the others had taken up residence in, including Xander. Sean looked worriedly at Xander’s still prone form before glaring ineffectually at Felicity and the three men who were just sitting around drinking beer, chatting and watching TV. Thankfully they hadn’t heard Buffy outside. Sean pulled back his head and glanced at Buffy, who was balanced precariously on a wooden palette and only just able to peer over the ledge of the window "You do understand what we have to do here, don't you?" Sean asked.
"I’m not stupid Sean" Buffy replied quietly, looking to him again "I understand that it’s not really Xander that’s hurt in there. That it’s Andrew" she sighed regretfully "Poor guy. *And* I realise that Xander just has to stay alive to leap and he’ll be all normal and *not* burnt when we get out of here" Buffy paused for breath "Won’t he?"
"OK… well you saved me having to explain stuff. And yes. Xander’ll be fine" Sean paused "Maybe a bit shell shocked but physically… he’ll be as studly as ever"
"You do know he has a *girl*friend, don’t you?"
"Yes, I am aware of that thank you Buffy. But if I can just change the subject back for one moment" Sean nodded his head towards the house "What the hell are we doing *here*?" he gestured around them "And not waiting for the cavalry?"
"I want to hit them all with large and heavy objects first" Buffy replied in a deathly quiet voice "He might be fine in the long run, but right now Xander’s in pain and he’s barely alive. All he does is try to help and he doesn’t deserve this"
"I know he’s helping" Sean replied "According to my little gizmo here, and it’s slowly leaking information, Andrew was originally killed by the blast"
"Yeah and that bitch in there got away with it *and* his money" Buffy stood down from the wooden palette she was on and looked to her right, which meant she could see down the path which ran alongside the house and on into the back garden. Without listening to Sean’s warning Buffy began to move quickly and quietly along the path towards the back of the house.
Sean sighed before following after her "It’s days like this that make me wish I just worked in MacDonalds"
He caught up with her when Buffy was inching her way around the corner of the back and right side walls. "Would you like me to check for you?" Sean asked her "I mean, that’s if you don’t think I’d be treading on your toes or anything"
Buffy rolled her eyes and moved her head backwards, indicating the inside of the house. "What’s going on?" she mouthed.
Sean walked through the back wall of the house and took a look around. Everything appeared as it had before. Except one of the three men was not with the others and Felicity. Sean moved into the kitchen and saw Simon sitting at the kitchen table, fiddling with something that Sean couldn’t identify.
Sean went back outside "One of them is in the kitchen" Sean pointed a window on the far end of the back wall "It’s that one there. The door leads out onto the path the other side of the house. The others are still inside"
Buffy got down on her hands and knees and began crawling along the ground until she was underneath the kitchen window. Buffy stood up slowly so her nose just peeked over the ledge and looked through the glass into the kitchen. She scowled angrily at Simon, who was oblivious to her presence, before ducking down again. Buffy started crawling again as close to the wall as she could. She rounded the corner of the back wall and crept down towards the door that led on to a path that ran down the left side of the house. There was a small metal trash can to the opposite side of the door to Buffy; she picked up small rock and threw it at the side of he can, making a sound loud enough so Simon could hear it.
Sean watched from inside the house as Simon got up from his seat, only glancing at the other three in the other room who hadn’t heard, before looking to the door again and taking a few steps towards it.
"Buffy" Sean called out anxiously "What are you doing?"
"Meow" Buffy answered in all seriousness and crawling back a little way from the door, her hand resting over a much larger rock than she had just thrown.
"Great" Sean groaned "Welcome to animal imitations 1-0-1. Get ready" he warned her "Anytime now-"
Sean’s timing was spot on. Simon opened the door opened the door, a little puzzled as he didn’t remember having a cat, and automatically turned to the direction of the trashcan.
Buffy stood up and hit Simon on the back of the neck with the rock. His hand flew up and he stumbled forward. Buffy immediately darted infront of him to stop him kicking into the trashcan and making any noise. She caught hold of him and brought her knee hard up into his groin.
Simon grimaced in pain and looked at Buffy with a mixture of shock, pain and surprise- all before Buffy hit him again with the rock and before he could make a sound. Simon slumped over and Buffy pushed him to the side so he fell into some bushes. She kicked him with her foot and rolled his unconscious body further into the bushes so he couldn’t be seen easily.
Satisfied with her job Buffy looked back to Sean who was just staring back at her, not sure what he just saw or what to say.
Buffy shrugged as if to say "What?" and kept hold of the large rock as she pushed open further the kitchen door and stepped inside the house.
"Dammit Buffy" Sean followed her inside. You’re going to get yourself killed" he warned her, "You can’t go in there all guns blazing"
Buffy’s eyes flashed angrily at Sean before placing the rock silently on the counter top and picking up a wrench instead, weighing it in her hand and taking a few practice swings.
"Dammit Buffy!" Sean cried standing infront of her as she swung the wrench right through him "Just think of *Xander* here. He’s barely keeping himself alive as it is, don’t make them do anything that’ll change that!"
Buffy stopped mid-swing and frowned. Her arm dropped to her side as she glanced to the door, which Sean had told her previously led to the room that the others were in with Xander. Buffy bit her lip and began tapping the wrench against her leg. She put her other hand to her head then ran it through her hair "You’re right" she whispered softly "I can’t-" Buffy stopped and leant back against the countertop before sliding down to the floor, her knees tucked up against her chest. She looked up sadly at Sean about to speak again when the door opened and Karl headed through to the kitchen.
Sean looked at Buffy in alarm and the blonde leapt to her feet, wrench now brandished in both hands. Karl stared at her in surprise as Simon had done before shaking it off and making a grab for her.
Buffy used her slight frame to dodge easily out of her his, thumping the wrench hard enough into Karl’s stomach to elicit a guttural groan from the bigger man. Unfortunately it alerted the others and both T and Felicity came rushing through to see what the commotion was. Again, Buffy got stares of surprise as she stood infront of all three, wrench still in hand.
Buffy took a deep breath and looked at them all with an even stare "Hey mom"
"S-Susan dear" Felicity faltered "What are you…how did you…?"
"I’m full of surprises" Buffy said flatly "For instance did you know I could drive?"
"What the hell is going on here" Karl groaned, an arm wrapped around his stomach "Is this part of the plan?"
T turned to Felicity "So what now?"
"Gee *Mom*" Buffy didn’t let Felicity answer "Don’t you look comfortable here with all the criminals"
Felicity narrowed her eyes at Buffy before turning to T "I’ll make sure she doesn’t interfere" Felicity turned back around and grabbed Buffy by the arm as Karl removed the wrench from Buffy’s hands "Come on dear" she pulled Buffy into the other room and pushed her down onto the floor next to Xander "Sit with your father and keep your big mouth shut"
Buffy glared at her defiantly and got back up onto her feet "Make me bitch"
Felicity stepped forward and slapped Buffy hard across her face "Just like your father" she sneered "You never know when to shut up"
Buffy pressed her hand to her cheek, feeling it grow warm where Felicity had made contact "Guess you showed him, huh?". This earned Buffy another slap across the other cheek. Buffy didn’t care. So long as she kept stalling them, the more time it gave her and Xander before the police and whoever else arrived.
Felicity shoved Buffy back down again so she fell onto Xander "*Stay*". Felicity turned her back on Buffy and spoke to T and Karl "Where’s Simon?"
Karl looked over Felicity’s shoulder at Buffy who looked innocently back at him. Karl looked back the older woman "I’ll go check outside"
Felicity spoke to T when Karl left "This isn’t going to be a problem"
T glared at Buffy before looking back at Felicity "She’d better not be. I’ve had to make enough changes today"
Buffy slipped her hand into Xander’s and looked to Sean who’d been hovering in the background the entire time, constantly tapping away at and checking his little black box.
Sean headed over to her and crouched by her side "According to our new information, originally Felicity got away with this and Andrew died. You, or I guess Susan, gets shipped off to relatives. No one ever suspected a thing. *Now*, because Susan was *you* and the police know about it, the odds are that Felicity will get arrested, these other guys, Simon, Tyler and Karl drop her in it to save themselves"
Buffy took all this in "What does than mean?" she asked quietly, ignoring the look she got from the other two, who then turned back to their own conversation.
"It means you stay still. You keep your mouth shut and it’ll turn out fine" Sean said bluntly "Got that?"
Buffy frowned but nodded reluctantly. She hung her head and sighed. She squeezed Xander’s hand gently , her eyes widening a little when he squeezed it ever so slightly back.
Buffy turned to her friend "Xan?" she spoke the words without thinking "Xan?"
Xander’s head moved slightly and his voice came out a cracked whisper "Ahn?"
"No Xan. It’s Buffy. Xander… hey!" Buffy felt herself being pulled up roughly by her arm. She looked up to see Tyler staring down at her.
"Do you not listen to anyone?" Tyler spat out.
"Apparently not" Sean added.
Buffy’s jaw set firmly "OK. That is it!" she cried, wrestling herself free from Tyler’s grasp "I’ve had enough of people telling me what the hell to do!" Buffy was grabbed again by Felicity this time; but Buffy grabbed hold of the other woman’s wrist and dug her nails in hard. Felicity gasped and Buffy kicked her in the shin and pushing her pseudo mother back so she stumbled over an armchair.
Tyler made a move for her but Buffy jumped high and landed her foot hard in his stomach. She quickly spun around again and kicked him again with the other foot, finally sending him down to the floor. Apparently residual Slayer senses meant she hit out at Felicity as the other woman got up and came after her.
Not worried at being double teamed, Buffy kicked Tyler hard between the legs when he finally managed to get back to his feet and when Felicity came at her again she sucker punched the older woman then head butted her, obviously hard enough to render Felicity unconscious.
"*Ow*!" Buffy cried gripping her head "No one ever tells you how much that hurts when you’re not a Slayer" Buffy staggered backwards a little before composing herself enough to jump over Tyler’s prone form, as he seemed more concerned with cradling his balls than running after her. Buffy ran to the door to the kitchen, pushing it open. Luckily Karl was running in from the other way and the door hit him on the forehead and sent him flying backwards, making him hit his head on the refrigerator and dazing him.
Buffy darted into the kitchen and picked up the wrench that Karl had dropped. She wasn’t quite sure what to do next. No one seemed to be after her at the very moment. She looked to Sean when he appeared in the kitchen infront of her "Do you think I should tie them up?"
"I’m thinking I never want to be your enemy" Sean replied "But, uh, rope. Yeah. You do that" Sean looked around "Over there" he pointed to a closed cupboard "There might be some"
Buffy kept hold of the wrench and went over to the cupboard and opened it, checking inside. All she found was some garden twine, but realising she didn’t have time to be fussy, she took the twine and immediately went to Karl, grabbing his feet before he had time to protest and started wrapping the twine around his ankles. With another blow with the wrench she soon managed to get hold of his wrists and make sure he wouldn’t be going anywhere soon.
Buffy smirked at him when he glared at her as he struggled in his bonds "You really messed with the wrong twelve year old" she said.
"Buffy!" Sean yelled out a warning "Tyler is coming up behind you!"
Buffy ducked as Tyler made a grab for her. She stayed crouched on the floor and kicked out at his shins, making him stagger. Buffy sideswiped him as he came near her again and sent him to the floor yet again. Quickly she reached for the twine and made short work of Tyler, using the wrench again for good measure. Buffy kicked him hard in the ass before running back into the other room.
Felicity was still unconscious so it was easy for Buffy to tie her up as well. Buffy stood back, admiring her handiwork. Buffy turned to Sean and grinned "Pfft. Who the hell needs preternatural strength when you got a really big wrench and ball of string?"
Sean looked around "You’re something else, I’ll give you that" he smiled sheepishly at Buffy "I’m real sorry I doubted you"
"Once a Slayer always a Slayer" Buffy shrugged. She knelt back down beside Xander and took his hand again "What happens to Andrew? Do the cops get here?"
Sean consulted his mini computer "Cops should be here any minute" he told her without looking up "Andrew… well, he’s hurt pretty bad. Better than being dead… but not by much. Major burns equal major scars. Think Kevin Spacey in Pay it Forward but a little bit worse"
"But he’ll live?"
"The cops bring an ambulance, as requested" Sean confirmed "The guy will be fine. When he recovers he gets custody of Susan and they all live happily ever after"
"One big fairy tale" Buffy said as she removed some hair from Xander’s forehead "Xander?" she squeezed his hand again "Xan, it’s Buffy"
Xander stirred again "Buff?" his tried to open his eyes and they opened just a crack. He tried to focus in on the figure infront of him but all he could make out was a blur of pink and a halo of blonde hair.
Buffy smiled "Yeah Xan" she touched the side of his face that was less burnt "Just hang on for us OK?"
Xander’s eyes closed again, but Buffy could see his chest was still rising and falling. "I’m not dead?"
"No. You’re doing just fine" Buffy felt a tear prick at the corner of her eye "I’m here"
"I feel dead" Xander coughed a little and then winced "Everything hurts"
"You got blown up" Buffy replied in a quiet voice "You got very lucky. We just-" Buffy broke off when she heard a knock at the door. Buffy looked to Sean who went to the door and stuck his head outside.
Sean drew his head back and smiled at the two of them. He looked down at his computer and then back to them again, as Buffy had picked up Xander and was cradling him against her. "Looks like you two are out of here"
Buffy looked towards the door again when it opened and a tall man in his forties walked in. He had a police badge on his belt and a gun in one hand.
"Hey" Buffy said softly.
The officer looked at her in surprise "Hey kid"
"Can we get a paramedic in here for my dad?"
"Sure" he replied, making a request into his radio "Uh…" the officer looked at Felicity tied up and slumped back against the chair, he looked around the room warily, his gun still held ready.
Buffy followed his gaze "Oh… yeah. There’s two more in the kitchen and another outside who I hit with a rock"
"Kind of a big rock"
"She’s right" another cop said as he just came in through the kitchen "They’re all tied up and ready to go"
The first officer moved aside to let the paramedics in. He stared at the girl with the long dark pigtails and the big brown eyes that stared innocently back at him. He watched as she let go of the injured man she was holding and lets the paramedic take him. He saw her turn away and focus on something that wasn’t there and smile.
Xander felt himself being jostled, but it was more gentle than before and here could here Buffy’s voice and he knew that it was all right. He managed to get his eyes open a little more. "Buff?" he said "Are we going yet?"
His answer was a bright white light and then blackness.
When there was light again, Xander found himself looking up at a ceiling. He was in no more pain. He looked down at himself and saw that there were no burns, not even a little bit of soot. Xander was also tucked up in bed, the covers only pulled up to his waist.
Xander looked across the room and at the speaker; a pretty, petite red head who was currently attacking her hair with curling tongs. She sat infront of a small dressing table and was dressed only in a white cotton bathrobe and pink bunny slippers on her feet.
Xander blinked "Uh… hey"
His new companion put down her curling iron and moved over towards him, sitting beside him. Xander tensed a little when she began running her hand down his chest and didn’t back up enough in time to stop her kissing him full on the mouth.
She smiled seductively at him when she pulled back "Hey baby?" she slipped the robe from her shoulders "Wanna go for another ride?"
Buffy swung her legs over the side of the bed she found herself in after she leapt. She was alone in the room. Buffy looked down at herself and discovered she was naked. She grabbed a sheet off the bed and wrapped it around herself before standing up.
Buffy walked over to the only door in the room and opened it cautiously. No one bounded through so she poked her head through the gap and found herself looking upon an empty corridor.
//A dorm room?// Buffy closed the door and sat back down on the bed. She looked around on the floor for some actual clothes. Buffy was about to pick something up when the door suddenly burst open and a guy clad only in boxer shorts came bounding in and flopped onto the bed next to her.
"Max didn’t have any" he stated, turning over onto his side, propping himself up on his elbow "And why are you getting dressed?"
Buffy groaned inwardly //Oh boy//.
Next episode... :"Love...Square?"
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