harsens_rob (harsens_rob) wrote in spanderverse,
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spanderverse

Tensions; chapter 3 of 6

Disclaimer: Legal stuff, don't own characters, haven't made any money, this is for entertainment purposes, no profit earned, lawyers go away. –kisses-

POV: Shifts Perspective

Spoiler Alert: There are tidbits from past episodes and Spanderverse: stories.

Notes: Seventh story in the Spanderverse-universe, following “Preludes”. Everything from the television series through the defeat of Adam also occurred as depicted, in the Spanderverse.

People’s thoughts are depicted in italics. You’ll find emphasis depicted with an underline.

Thanks to the authors of Fanfiction, wherever you may post. It’s probable that I’ve read at least one of your stories somewhere. I apologize for recycling concepts inadvertently from the plentitude of stories I’ve read.

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Tensions:

Ch 3 – Willow and Anya

 

The bell above the Magic Box’s door gave a ring. Giles’ hopeful and expectant look quickly collapsed into disappointment as he saw Willow and Riley stroll into the store. Looking at Buffy, he sighed, “Now if only some paying customers would stop by.”

 

Riley’s eyes lit up on seeing that Buffy was there and he immediately made his way over to her where she wrapped strong arms around him. A quick kiss and she was pulling away, but he was grateful none-the-less. Even a small kiss was better than no kiss at all.

 

“Don’t you have class this morning,” he directed her way.

 

“Actually, I do. Statistics…, blah. I just stopped in to check the sitch last night. See if we have any strange intruders to deal with. I’m kinda wishing I got in on your fight with the Vulcart demon. I’m starting to feel a little bored.”

 

“Be careful about saying that out loud. Around here, I’m glad for a little bore. Besides,” Riley quirked his brow with a smile, “If you had had to smell the thing, you’d know how lucky you were to miss it. I basically just threw away those clothes.”

 

Buffy gave him another kiss and headed for the door. “Listen, my class load is a little light today. You wanna meet me at the dorm room around three?”

 

“I’ll be there, but I can only give you an hour or so. I’ve got the evening shift at the hospital.”

 

Riley had ended up accepting a paramedic position, though only because he needed the rent and food money. Next to being a soldier, being an EMT seemed a huge letdown.

 

As Buffy left, Riley glanced at the empty store. He wondered what he could do to fill up the day. “Hey, Giles; anything you need help with around here?”

 

Giles looked around the store filled to capacity with no customers. His lips quirked into a half smile. An expression that was somewhere between worry and amusement; “It would appear there isn’t a lot here for any of us to do. Of course, it’s only for the moment. I expect that a flood of consumers will be joining us at any time now.”

 

“You should hope so, Giles.” Anya stood fidgeting with items on the Powders shelf, “I hope you know, I get paid whether we have customers or not.”

 

As Riley headed toward the work out room in the back, he heard Willow’s fading voice, “…I have this idea….”

 

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“Well, actually it was Tara’s,” Willow continued. “She was interested in offering palm and Tarot readings. I mean, it would only be an occasional thing. Like, when she doesn’t have any heavy duty studying or term papers to write.”

 

Giles smiled at the idea, “I think that’s brilliant, actually. Tell her I would love to offer her a small work area. We can set up a table in the back when no one is using the equipment. That would give her some privacy, as well as giving it that air of mystery.”

 

Willow smiled at Giles’ enthusiasm, before frowning to herself. She had known immediately that the idea was a great one, of course. It bothered her that Tara was so hesitant about it. After all, she’d thought that her girlfriend had left behind her lack of self confidence a while ago. Leaving Giles to putter with cleaning the glass case (which didn’t need it); she crossed to the harmless spell books lining the shelves of one wall. An inkling of a plan was developing in her mind and it didn’t seem like it would be of any harm. There must be a potion or spell that would help boost Tara’s self-esteem.

 

Besides, Willow had actually stopped by the Magic Box today for Joyce, so she could kill two birds with one stone. As she began to run a finger along the volumes on display, she happened to glance over to see that Anya had re-arranged some of the powders on the shelves. Powders that she’d already arranged the day before so they would look a little neater and grouped by the powder’s color. Annoyed, she went back to the shelf while Anya was headed for the basement.

 

Quickly she moved bottles around, placing them back into a more pleasing and logical order. Anya was trying to group them by use, but anyone who cast spells would know that the same powder could have dozens of uses in a spell. Sure, Anya said she was worried that volatile powders might get accidentally mingled, but that was just ridiculous. Barely any of the ones openly displayed could do anything without the right chants and incense or herbs. If it were the vials kept in the shelves behind the counter, Willow could understand the concern.

 

Once she was finished, she returned to her search of the magic volumes. She considered briefly starting at the high powered books in the loft above the shop. Those volumes were really more for monster fighting and counter magic though. What Willow needed was two simple spells, and they should be right here on the display shelf. It was just a matter of finding the right volumes.

 

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Riley danced around the weighted bag hanging from the ceiling. He jabbed and punched at it, practicing his boxing skills. As he began to perspire, he took a moment to remove his tight fitting T-shirt and then returned his concentration to pounding the bag.

 

For half an hour he worked with the bag, feeling energized. He wished he had more time to spar with Buffy. Whenever the two of them fought each other, he found himself at his best. Being the Slayer made her superior in strength and much more flexible than he was. That meant he had to be more creative during their duals, more watchful for opportunities and ready to improvise. Sparring with her made him a better fighter, plus afterward there was the bonus of a randy-Buffy that needed his attentions.

 

Those attentions were what he was hoping she wanted him this afternoon for. Not that the relationship should or was just about rutting, of course. Riley wasn’t one of those guys who thought about nothing but sex, but he could admit that sex with Buffy was a highlight of any day.

 

Thoughts of Buffy broke his concentration on what he was doing and he paused in his efforts at hitting the punching bag. Sitting on the floor, he began a series of sit ups while he thought about her. Things seemed to be sitting in a holding pattern when it came to their relationship. Whenever he felt afraid that she was slipping out of his grasp, she’d give him one of her megawatt smiles and throw her arms around him. He’d just start thinking he was imagining the emotional distance between them, and then she’d blow him off or suddenly become cool. It was impossible from one moment to the next to know what the exact status was of their relationship, and he could admit to being cowardly in not confronting her. He should just sit down and tell her what he was feeling, but then he thought he’d sound needy. He didn’t want to run around whining like he was eight; he just wanted to know that she was in this for the long haul.

 

Sighing with frustration, both at her moodiness and at his indecision, he grabbed a towel from a rack and dried himself off. There was a single person shower installed, one that was a tight fit for his large frame, but he made use of it in deference for Giles and the girls in the other room. Last thing he wanted to do was stink up the place after all, just in case an actual customer did come in.

 

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Willow and Anya glared at each other across the expanse of the shop. Anya deliberately yanking out bottle after bottle of brightly colored grains, before placing them at her feet on the floor.

 

Giles had already decided to “Check our supply of, uh, office supplies. In the back office.”

 

As soon as Anya noticed that her shelves were once again disrupted by Willow’s efforts to make the stock look more pleasing to the eye, she’d immediately whined at him in that tone of voice that was akin to a dentist’s drill. Willow immediately expected him to side with her, being the resident witch of the gang.

 

He could see a no-win situation when he was thrust into one. He decided to take the tactically wise course and run away. Closing the office door behind him, he engaged the lock and blew out a breath of relief to be out of the store’s main area. He understood Willow’s desire to keep the powders color coded, but that didn’t make Anya entirely wrong. It would be easier to assist customers if the ingredients were somehow arranged by general usage.

 

Of course, taking either of their sides would only place him in the doghouse with the other. Really, he had far too many other things to worry about than what was essentially an aesthetic choice. Besides, there were some battles that a Watcher shouldn’t have to fight.

 

Giles began heating water for tea when a large pounding noise sounded from somewhere in the back of the building. It sounded a lot like a sand bag had been dropped from some height onto the wood floor in the back.

 

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As Giles entered the exercise room, he saw that Anya and Willow had already arrived to investigate the odd noise. Standing in the center of the room was Riley, breathing hard with a sheen of perspiration, or possibly water on his face and forehead. In front of him lay the punching bag that had been hanging from the ceiling; bits of plaster and brackets lying in a heap next to it.

 

“What in the world?” Giles said, “Riley, are you alright?”

 

“Oh, yeah. I’m fine. Uh, sorry about the mess. I guess I don’t know my own strength sometimes.”

 

“Well, really. That is just shoddy workmanship,” Anya contributed. “I’m surprised at Xander.”

 

“Y-yes, I’ll have to have a word with him. The suspended equipment will need to be far more strongly anchored to survive Buffy’s workouts.”

 

“What happened?” Willow asked, “Did you swing from it or something?”

 

She was always ready to defend Xander from any slights. It wouldn’t have been like him not to have anchored the weight solidly, considering he knew a Slayer would be pounding on it. Anya should know that much, at least, in her opinion. And why was Riley breathing so heavy? He looked pale to her.

 

“Uh, I had just gotten done using the shower. I was walking by the bag and gave it one last good punch. And, boom… mess on the floor,” he said, as he began sweeping up the dust and plaster bits with a broom.

 

It wasn’t that simple of course, though he basically told the truth. Riley had suffered another one of his bouts of super-strength. Just as he’d experienced with the demon in the graveyard, his muscles burned and swelled. It was worrying, but he felt euphoric in its aftermath. Smiling easily with the gang, he ignored the deep ache in his chest. He remembered that he’d felt that way before fighting the Vulcart, so it must just be a side effect of whatever was causing his bursts of strength. No doubt something Initiative related, he was happy for the boost. He just hoped that he’d learn to control its onset as things progressed.

 

“I was actually coming out to ask if you wanted to go to lunch, Willow. I mean, I got a few hours to waste before meeting Buffy.”

 

“You sure you’re alright, Riley?” Willow looked at him with concern, “You look a little pale.”

 

He only laughed at the worried frown she wore. “Of course, I’m fine. It was just a bit of a shock when the bag fell. Startled five years off of me. So, what about lunch?”

 

“Well, you’re not going anywhere until this is cleaned up,” Anya inserted, “My employment here doesn’t say anything about sweeping the training area.” And with that, she turned to go back to her rearranging.

 

Giles, now assured that there was nothing disastrous happening, followed. He still wanted his cup of tea.

 

“Well, I was actually trying to find some herbal remedies. For Joyce’s headaches? I thought maybe Tara and I could prepare a tea blend or maybe a poultice.”

 

Willow noticed the crest fallen look on Riley’s face. Apparently, he really didn’t have much to do when Buffy was in class.

 

It must get really dull for him day after day, she thought and relented. “But I could really go for a muffin and a cup of coffee if you want to buy. Just let me put back the books I’ve gotten down and I’ll meet you out front.”

 

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End Ch 3

Tags: btvs, buffy, fanfiction, harsens-rob, spander, spanderverse, tensions
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