Authors: cordelianne, reremouse, savoytruffle
Warnings: Self-help, procrastination, oversharing
Summary: Xander's got places to be, things to do. Giles wishes Xander had given the Council a heads up. Spike figures, what the hell, the pay's good and it's not like he's got other plans at the moment.
Thanks: And a special thank you to katekat1010 for making two fabulous movie posters for this fic!! You will find one below the cut. Both can be seen here.
Previous parts here.
They're about half an hour out of Cleveland with Harris at the wheel when Harris starts talking to himself.
“I am an adult,” Harris says. “An adult with a heck of a lot of field experience and the ability to make his own decisions and the ability to stand by those decisions when I know they are the right decisions.”
“That right?” Spike asks.
Harris ignores him. “I am an adult with the ability to stand by his decisions and I am not going to apologize and I am not going to crumble in my resolve not to apologize when Giles looks at me like I’m still in high school or Buffy looks at me like I’ve let her down or Willow looks at me like I shot her puppy.”
“What? It’s true!” Harris says. “I’m strong now. Strong and non-crumbly. I am a man.”
“You sound like a bloody self-help book.”
“I sound like a confident and self-assured individual.”
“You sound like a wanker.”
“Hey, would it kill you to get on the self-confidence-building train here, Mr. Negativity? You know – be helpful?”
“I am being helpful.”
“By insulting me?”
“Building up your immunity, aren’t I?”
“Gee,” Xander says. “Thanks.”
They arrive in Cleveland and at the Council offices just before dawn.
Giles is waiting and, yes, looking at Xander kinda like he’s still in high school.
But Xander is strong.
And not above procrastinating.
“We’re all warded up in here, right?” Because he’s pretty sure the Slayinator’s got to be a couple hours back, but you can never be too safe when it comes to pissed off physical manifestations of mystical energy.
Giles nods. “Xander…”
Xander shakes his head and keeps his voice steady. “You better call Buffy and Willow in first. I only want to go through all this once. Also, could I maybe get some coffee?”
After a moment, Giles nods again. He walks over to the desk and makes the phone calls, then disappears into the outer office and returns with a cup of coffee, which he hands to Xander.
“Thanks,” Xander says, taking a sip before drinking in the awkward silence.
Spike makes himself at home on a small couch, lying back and propping his legs up on its arm before closing his eyes.
Giles moves over to his desk and shuffles papers.
Xander stays where he is, shifting his weight from one foot to the other. “So,” he says, “you sent Spike after me.”
“I didn’t want to alarm the girls,” Giles says. “And it seemed like a good idea at the time.”
Xander chuckles. “About how long did that ‘time’ last?”
Giles sighs. “I’d say roughly half the length of our initial phone conversation.”
Spike opens at least one eye to shoot Giles a glare. “Bloody well got the job done, didn’t I?”
“There is something to be said for appropriate conduct…”
“Not much,” Spike mutters.
“So,” Xander asks, “would you say you felt…oddly compelled to send Spike?”
Giles frowns at him. “I’m not certain I understand what you’re…”
Xander waves a hand. “Nevermind, just testing a theory.”
Giles’ confusion is clearly turning toward worry. “Xander, are you sure you’re—?”
“Thanks for that, by the way,” Xander interrupts, flashing a grin.
“I beg your pardon?”
“Oh, I…” Giles looks confused again…until he doesn’t. He looks from Xander to Spike and back again. “Oh.”
“Sorry,” Xander says, waving another hand. “You know how it is. Awkward situation, inappropriate sharing…”
“Buffy!” Giles almost shouts. He clears his throat and lowers his voice. “Er, do come in.”
Xander turns toward the doorway as Buffy walks through it, followed by Willow.
Buffy raises her hand to cover a yawn. “Giles, do you realize what time it—Xander!”
Xander finds himself with two armfuls of his favorite girls and suddenly it’s good to be home again.
Until they finally step back so they’re standing on either side of Giles in one terrifying row of potential judgment and Giles announces that, “Xander’s got something he needs to tell us.”
They all look at him, expectant.
“Well, um…see…I…” Xander swallows as he feels himself starting to crumble like an overdunked Oreo. “Er…”
He casts a desperate glance in the direction of Spike, who kicks his legs off the couch with a disbelieving snort.
“Oh, hey, Spike,” Buffy says. “Didn’t see you there.”
Spike pushes himself into a standing position. “What the boy—” He stops. “What the confident and self-assured individual is trying to say is that he came home from Africa with some mojo that can suck the power right outta your average slayer. So for the last couple months he’s been driving around the country asking the empowered but unenlisted if they’d rather stay juiced up or go back to being made of sugar and spice and everything nice. Couple of girls took him up on his offer but I guess it wasn’t really no strings attached, because now there’s a nasty, mystical super-slayer on his tail who probably only wants Beetlejuice, but would kill us all to get it.” Spike glances from the Scoobies to Xander and then back. “Oh, and he knows what he did was right and he’s not going to apologize to any of you lot.”
All eyes turn back toward Xander, who nods weakly and swallows. “Um, so there?”