Coming of the Scooby Army
Ch 16 - Monday Surprise
Xander nearly sprung from the bed around noon, with a ‘pep in his step’ if he did point out himself. The night before had been fun, especially forcing Spike to watch ‘Jaws II’ and then the Italian knock-off, ‘Tentacles’ off of bootleg VHS, each movie dipping precipitously in quality. It was early morning before he finally turned in, leaving Spike to pop in ‘Alien’ to ‘wipe the mind clean of the filth you’ve put in there’.
He didn’t really know why he felt the need to torture the vampire, especially since all Spike did through the whole movie was bitch and moan… actually, that pretty much explained why he tortured the vampire. Spike was never more amusing than when he was insulting.
He walked across the living room, keeping an eye on the guest room door. It was closed. He continued his way to the kitchen to start coffee. On the counter, next to the computer his cell phone was buzzing every several seconds, wearing out its battery as it tried to tell somebody to grab a message….
“Hey, Xan! Good news,” Joe’s deep, African-American voice said. “We got the contract to help out on the condo-wreckage I mentioned before - remember? Anyway, I don’t know how long it’ll be for, probably only a week or two. They just offered a short-term project to help the primary contractor get caught up. But, anyway, money’s money, am I right? Give a holler when you get this - I’ve got the money for two workers, and I definitely want you on it - as long as you didn’t go and get too spoiled by the desk job to do some manual work now,” his former, and now future, boss laughed. “If you got a recommendation on the third, I’m all ears - but I was thinkin’ Eddie - he’s a bit odd, but seemed to do good work. Give me a call….”
Xan released a breath of relief at that. Truth was, he did kind of need a job right now. There wasn’t nearly as much in his savings as he had thought - too much spending when he and Anya were an item - and it had surprised him how fast it disappeared in rent, utilities and groceries.
As the coffee’s scent made him feel even better than when he awoke, he made his way over to the guest room. He didn’t expect it to be anything but empty - undoubtedly Spike had gone back to Giles’ to keep any eye on Dawn. With little hesitation, he cracked the door open and burst into a full out grin when he saw the vampire lying still fully dressed over the mattress.
Xan went up to him and whispered in his ear, “It’s just me. I’m removing your boots for you,” he said quietly before doing just that. The vampire had mentioned to him in the past about how often times catching a vampire sleeping wasn’t automatically non-fatal to the surpriser and he didn’t want Spike making a desperate, self-preservation lunge at him. Not that he’d get far without the chip intervening, buy why risk having the vampire give him a heart attack, or worse, making him pee his pants.
“Hey, Dawn,” Kevin called to her as she left school.
Again, her teacher released the class early since they were on their last week. You could more than easily tell that she’d had just about enough of showing up everyday - as had Dawn, herself. Only eight of her fellow students had ended up sticking out the summer term, and she was relieved and happy that she could tell the gang that she’d passed.
Or, she would once the final assignment had been completed.
“What’s your plans? Wanna go to lunch,” he smiled at her, somehow brightening the already painfully bright day.
“Love to,” she grinned. “But, then I have to go to the public library. I have one last term paper to write up before Friday, and then I’M FREE! Or, at least for a week,” she shrugged.
“Yeah? What’s the subject; maybe I can help?”
“Actually, the subject is open. We just need to choose a famous person and write up a ten page mini-autobiography.”
“Please, don’t encourage me to think about it. If I don’t pass this, the whole summer will have been blown for nothing. Not to mention two aunts and two uncles who’d kiss my ass.”
“Well…,” Kevin said with a sly smile, “Since it can be anyone, how about Vincent Van Gogh? I already wrote a report on him in eighth grade, so I sort of know where the good books on him are. And,” he added a little shyly, “I could, you know, help you and we could, uh, spend some more time hanging out.”
“Cool,” Dawn nodded, while trying to restrain the maniacal laugh of joy threatening to erupt and freak him out.
Tara rushed around town, trying to get in everything she needed to do so she could swing by Xander’s and talk to him about when they could start repairs. She wanted to get Dawn out of Giles’ place before Dawn’s social worker felt the need to drop by. Most of the living room furniture was beat up and full of utensil holes from Giles’ attempts to dinnerware them all to death. It was definitely not much better a living arrangement than her own home was right now, but they were trying not to impose on the Steins as much as possible, considering the near miss they’d had with a bullet.
She also wanted to spend some quiet time with Willow. They hadn’t had sex in nearly two weeks and she wasn’t ashamed to admit to being a bit … distracted, right now. She was hoping for a quick lunch and then an hour or so of alone time before she had to figure out what they were going to do for dinner. She also wanted to review, later, her list of damages at Giles’ for Xan and make sure she hadn’t missed anything. They had a few months to get things fixed there, so it wasn’t a rush, but she wanted everything at least organized so they had a plan.
At that moment, Willow was sipping a too cool cup of coffee with one hand, while the other was holding a pair of wire cutters deep in Buffybot’s guts. She wished, not for the first time, that they knew where Adam or Faithbot had gotten to. She could have cannibalized the parts she needed.
They’d never been able to figure out what had happened, exactly, though they had a good theory. Rick claimed the only one he’d moved was Buffybot and he’d left explicit instruction to the officer he had watch the house not to play with anything.
That left Alican. It would have been no problem for the half-demon to use that teleporting thing he did to return to Buffy’s and whisk the two machines away. The thought made her even more uncomfortable with the Book of Midnight being in his possession. Her uneasiness wasn’t made any less by Giles’ assertion that he trusted al-Rashid “mostly”. And that had seemed a pretty reticent admission at that.
But, there was nothing to be done about it, anyway. They couldn’t travel to the Shadowrealm and even she wasn’t strong enough to detect the cyborg and robot in another dimension and then summon them home - which she tried desperately not to dwell on because it made her feel less confident about finding and snatching Buffy from her Hell imprisonment.
At least she could feel slightly better, since while dozing off while searching (in vain, again) for an Urn of Osiris, she’d had contact from the Slayer. She was still coherent and warned Willow that she needed to be ready by Devil’s Night, or her best chance would be blown.
She’d cried and had blood running down her arms and legs where deep scratches or cuts had been inflicted, but she told her friend not to worry - she wasn’t going to break.
Willow had been about to tell her about the Urn and to see if she could maybe see where one might be from her spirit-reality, but she must have fallen over because she’d snapped awake with her head on the makeshift table where Buffybot was now lying. With a sigh of frustration and fear and exhaustion, she turned her attention back to removing the robot’s damaged components and keeping a running list of what she was going to need in the next few days. At least she was able to recover from most of the programming corruptions.
Upstairs, she heard the phone ringing, but chose to ignore it.
Rick had gone into the station, despite his day off, telling his wife he wanted to visit Marsha and see how she was doing. In actuality, he had gotten copies of the other detective’s reports regarding the violence of the past few weeks - he especially was parsing every word of the report from the old Sunnydale High, where paramedic Ryan Crest had been only hours before killing himself and his wife.
An immigrant worker there had bashed his boss following the small quake they’d had… and interestingly, claimed to not understand why he’d done it. Nothing strange in that, humans did lots of shit all the time that they couldn’t explain, but this being Sunnydale….
At his apartment, Xander was rinsing off his dish from the sandwiches he’d just had for lunch when there came a knock at the front door. When he peeked through the spy hole, he was taken aback by a familiar and not at all welcomed face.
“C-can I come in. Please,” Jonathon Levinson looked scared and downcast when the door in front of him opened violently.
“I don’t believe this.”
“Please. I just… I wanna try to make things right. Here,” Jon said, pulling his hand out of his jacket pocket. He had several hundred dollar bills. “I cashed my check from Friday. It’s yours… to help repair the stuff we did at Buffy’s. A-and, I’ll get more… whatever it takes to fix things.”
Against his better judgment, he stepped aside and Jon came in, shoulders hunched as if he expected at any moment to be beaten. Xander certainly felt like doing a little hitting….
“You’ve got a lot of nerve, coming here.”
“I know. I’m sorry. About all of it - i-it wasn’t supposed to be like that.”
“You attacked us!”
“It was a mistake! No one was supposed to get hurt,” he said with anguish as he looked over the still visible scabs running up and down Xander’s arms. “You were just supposed to be … defeated… and then we’d shoot some video, be kings of the Underworld and make a fortune. It - It wasn’t supposed to involve blood.”
“So why come here? You think this should be going to Dawnie,” Xander said, shaking the fist that now held Jon’s money.
“I thought it would be better if I stayed away from her. I- I didn’t want to make you guys any more angry. Buffy is already going to beat the crap out of me when she gets back. Where is she anyway? We were surprised to recognize the robot Warren built.”
“I don’t think I need to answer questions,” Xander nearly spat. “You’re the one here that should be answering a few things… like why I shouldn’t beat the hell out of you myself - or turn you over to Spike.”
“Look, I know that you’re pissed… you totally should be….”
“… Thanks for the permission,” Xan sarcastically said.
“But, I’m trying here! I really want to fix this.”
“Fix it? You have no idea what a mess you’ve put us in,” Xander struggled not to shout loud enough for the residents in the apartments next door to hear. He thought about the Social worker and Buffy’s absence and the Buffybot being damaged. “You have no fucking idea.”
“No! No, you see, that was my point! You don’t know!”
“I’m trying,” Jon whined, “I’m here! I brought money! I’m trying to do right by things.”
Xan took a deep breath so he wouldn’t grab the runt up by his shirt front and throw him around the room. At least that mess would be worth the trouble, “I want to know why. What the hell were you punks thinking?”
He winced. He should never use the work, ‘punk’, he wasn’t Dirty Harry.
“I told you,” Jon’s defensive tone collapsed. “We were going to defeat Buffy’s gang. Take some video and pass it around. Once we had the demons afraid, we’d force them to rob stores and banks and stuff for us. We’d have this temporary gang thing and then we’d clean out town and take off to the Caribbean. Warren promised us days on the beach with topless women serving drinks to us. I didn’t know that he was going to cross the line, when he punched Buffy’s sister… it just hit me then, what we were doing.”
“I want Warren’s head on a pick.”
“I don’t know where he is. He and Andrew ran out… of town, I think… and Andy won’t return my calls. I’ve checked at our hideout, but everything’s been abandoned there and they aren’t home either. For what its worth, Warren completely disgusted me.”
“That doesn’t get you off the hook.”
“I don’t want to be off. I’m just saying that however I can help, I’m willing to do it. That includes apologizing personally to Buffy and Dawn… to everyone.”
“I’ll think about it. The cops are investigating, still. If I were you, I’d start praying that we don’t decide to just turn you over. You can spend the next five years getting acquainted with Guido, the Swarthy Prison Stud.”
“I will make this up to you guys. I swear,” Jonathon said.
End Ch 16