Notes: thanks to Jaderose for restarting me in this fandom, I had forgotten how much I missed the bros. I was inspired by two things, part of an author's sigline, and Jaderose's story, which I do hope she finishes soon.
Xander looked around the small bus station he was in. He wondered why Giles was doing this to him. It wasn't like things weren't bad enough at home but now he was being sent as a long-distance errand boy and he had to take Greyhound. Not his favorite form of transportation. Since Giles had told him he absolutely could not drive to Chicago without explaining *why* he couldn't, he wasn't sure what else was going to go on. "I know, he's doing it so I feel like a total geek and am embarrassed to be seen by anybody I know," he said bitterly as he shifted in the hard plastic seat. His bus was outside, and he'd be boarding soon. At least he had his discman, a case of CD's, and some snacks. Even if he wouldn't get to bathe for the next two days and had to change busses once.
He hefted his bag and stood up as his departure was called, heading out to get on. Hopefully he got a seat to himself. He sat down, getting comfortable and immediately pulled out his cd player and inserted new batteries. He'd need them. He saw someone pause by his seat and casually scratched his arms, getting a bit harder. That person decided they'd sit somewhere else. Hopefully it'd be that easy the whole trip. Why he was going to pick up a crystal from Chicago he still didn't know. Couldn't the person who had it send it Fed Ex? He paused his disc when he heard the driver come on to give out their destination and any safety precautions, then pulled out a graphic novel to look through. His bag stayed in the seat beside him, just as a warning to others. He felt someone kick the back of his seat and glared back between the seats, but couldn't see who was doing it.
He'd put up with it this time, but Giles was going to owe him majorly for this. His seat was kicked again and this time he craned his neck back to find the little kid doing it, giving them a death glare. They only smiled and waved. He went back to his graphic novel, tossing back a toostie pop to keep the kid occupied.
"Where did you get that?" his mother yelled.
"I tossed it back so he'd quit kicking my seat," Xander said just loud enough to be heard. As soon as the bus pulled out he shifted to be sitting sideways, finding the mother glaring at him. "I've got two days on a bus, lady. It's not tampered with. I've got a whole bag of them to keep me occupied." She sat down with a 'humph' sound and watched her son carefully. Now he was glad he had dressed in the black t-shirt, black jeans, and boots. He felt the air conditioning come on and pulled out one of his red flannel shirts to pull on just in case he got cold. He flipped back on his music and turned down the volume in case something happened, like the woman making more complaints.
Xander looked up tiredly as the bus suddenly made the sound of an explosion and it stopped cold. He knew that sound, it meant the engine had just blown up. "Hey, I haven't heard that sound since my roadtrip to hell," he said in mock-fondness. He stood up to watch the driver get out to look at it, noticing where they were. It was dark outside and the cityscape around them wasn't that friendly. There was a large construction site nearby but something didn't look right to his experienced eyes. He looked to the other side, then got up and went to talk to the driver, pointing out the obvious. "Dude, engine blow? Maybe someone at that garage on the next block can help," he called. The driver gave him a look so he pointed. "I had a car do it going seventy on the highway."
"Thanks, kid. Let me radio. You a mechanic?"
"Construction worker." He shrugged and went back to his seat, giving everyone small grins of reassurance. "Engine problems. There's a garage up the street." That made most of them relax. At least until the howling and screaming started. He had just sat down when that started so he grabbed his usual compliment of stuff, hiding it on himself as he stood up again. He saw the person walking onto the bus and glared. Just great. Didn't he get a day away from the vampires? Two more walked on. "Not now," he sighed.
"You're all now our prisoners," the man in the lead sneered, his protruding stomach bouncing as he let out a small evil laugh. His old football jersey didn't fit that well and he looked greasy and slimy.
Maybe he wasn't a vampire? But the two behind him were. He wasn't looking at Xander so he pulled out his mini dart gun and fired it at the other two, wiggling his fingers at them. "Out," he hissed. "Before I have to call back to Boca to get my friend Buffy out here." They took off running, startling the guy in the lead. He glared at Xander, who gave him his best 'innocent guy' grin and batted his lashes. "Did you hurt the driver? I don't want to have to drive us all the way back to the station." The man let out a growl and a whistle, bringing a few others. Xander pulled out his gun and pointed it at the guy, who backed off. "At this range, this will traumatize everyone on this bus. Do you *really* want that?" He heard a different howl, this one in glee, and focused on the leader again. "Out. Now." He waved the gun in a shooing motion. "Now." He turned and ran with his people. "I hate morons." He put his gun back and grabbed his bag, heading up to the front. "Stay on the bus!" he yelled over the confused sounding grunts. "I'll get some help." He got off and closed the doors, using an old high school prank to lock them from the outside. He saw a few bikers between him and the garage, but it looked like they were fighting the bad guys. Wonderful. A gang war! Just what he needed!
He started to hike to the garage, walking around the fighting going on, only hitting someone when they made a grab for him. That one ended up on the ground as he continued on, tapping on the door of the garage. A pretty woman answered. "Hi," he said, nodding behind him. "The bus blew an engine. The driver's been taken by the potbellied former football player, and the bus is full of scared people. Can you maybe call someone like the bus station for them?"
"Sure," she said, letting him inside. She checked behind him but nothing was coming for him. "How did you walk around that?"
Xander snorted. "Honey, I'm from Cali. This is nothing in a gang war. I've been caught in LA during a real gang turf war." He looked out in time to see a goon go flying and clapped, letting out a whistle. "Nice posture. Seven-four though, no degree of difficulty!" He slammed the door and shook his head. "Posers."
"You live in LA?"
"Just outside," he said with his usual goofy grin. "In my town, they'd be eaten." She gave him an odd look. "Trust me. My best friend is five-four, delicate, blonde, and she can kick all their ass...butts," he corrected quickly. "Pardon my speech. Two days on the bus."
"Not an issue. I've used it myself a few times." She looked up the number and called the bus station. "Hi, this is Charley Davidson at the Last Chance Garage. There's a broken down Greyhound up here. One of the passengers asked me to call, said the driver's disappeared and it sounded like a blown engine."
"A loud pop sorta explosion going at high speed," Xander offered.
"Yeah, that's the engine," she agreed, smiling at him. "Had one?"
"Going seventy," he said dryly. He looked over as the door opened and three bikes came in, glancing at Charley but she shook her head. "Then it's all good. The guys on the bus still on there?" he asked them. He paused. Then he nodded once. "You're furry. Are you from Sunnydale and tracking me?"
"Huh?" one of them asked, taking off his helmet. "Who're you?"
"He's the guy who said the one Modo threw didn't do a very good dive," the white one said with a smirk for the kid. "Off the bus?"
"Unfortunately. It blew the engine. She's being nice and calling them to come get the scared people." He glared at the person behind them, pulling out his stake to throw at the being standing there, making him howl since his aim was off. He dropped his bag and pounced him, dusting him once he got his stake back. The minion had been rolling around on the ground. "I hate vampires. Can't you guys all go take a walk on the beach or something?" he sneered at the ashes. He looked around, finding a few more staring at him. "Yeah, I'm from Sunnydale. I'm her bad boy." They backed off but one stepped closer. "Huh, you're a Drac wannabe. You know he's a poof, right?" The vampire sneered so Xander gripped his stake better. "I'm not here for you."
"You are if Giles sent you," he said with the sneer still in place. "Xander?" He nodded, looking calm. "I don't like you."
"Feeling's mutual. Give me the globe and I'll gladly leave after handing over the envelope. Otherwise, you're dust, your family's dust, and then I'll get to go party before searching your crib during the daylight hours. I'm sure the others won't appreciate me knocking in a wall," he hissed, stepping forward. "Your choice."
He chuckled. "You are either very brave or very stupid," he said fondly.
"Yeah, and most people think one until they're faced with the other. Where's the globe so I can get back?"
"There's a small problem. It was stolen from our care by one of the local men of ill repute."
"Okay. And you can't eat him?"
"He'd taste bad. He's a slick, slimy individual."
"Sure. We'll case him and see," he offered. "I've got to get back to work within a week."
"Fine, Xander. Meet us here tonight," he said, handing over a card. "It's a club most of us favor for fun and hunting."
"Deal." He stepped back, putting his stake back in his waistband. "Anything else?" The vampire shook his head, still giving him a more fond version of the smirk. "Then I suggest you blow before officials get here."
"Agreed. Tonight then." He left, taking his family troupe with him.
Xander glared after them, shaking his head. "This is not a good sign."
"You know him?" a deep male voice said from behind him.
Xander turned to look at the large being, nodding. "Yeah, I was sent to trade an envelope of information for a globe he's supposed to have. I'm so going to kill Giles when I get home for doing this to me." He nodded, grinning at the nice mechanic. "Is there a cheap place to crash around here?" She nodded, letting him have the phone book. "Thanks, ma'am. Sorry to have bothered you. I'll make sure they won't be coming back. Their sort get in your hair if you don't set your foot down and dust them." He found a motel that was relatively close by the address and grabbed his bag after tossing it back. "Thanks for the help earlier. I hope you're safe from the goons, ma'am." He turned and left, heading up the street.
"Who was that?" the white furred person asked.
"I don't know," she admitted. "He came to ask me to call the bus station for the bus since it blew an engine." She shrugged, watching him walk away out a window. "I'm hoping he doesn't cause trouble for you guys."
"He didn't seem to care that we're furred," Throttle said, but he was frowning. "It didn't seem to phase him at all."
"What's a Sunnydale?" Vinnie asked. "I heard him mention it."
"It's a town. He said he's from a town outside of LA. Said this was nothing compared to the gang war he got caught in the middle of," she admitted, staring at the white mouse. "You guys okay?"
"Just fine, Charley girl," Throttle said, glancing at that pile of dust. "Is anybody else troubled by the fact that the human turned to dust so quickly? Usually that takes a few centuries from what I've seen."
"Maybe it's a mythical being, like on those movies," the other mouse, Modo, suggested. The others gave him an odd look so he sighed. "Just a suggestion," he offered.
"Yeah, well, it's about the only thing I can think of," Charley admitted. She watched as a tow truck came up to where the bus was, closing the doors since someone clearly had that under control. "He seemed to know what he was doing."
"I'm just glad he wasn't aiming at my head with that thing of his," Vinnie complained. "Too bad it didn't hit him in a fatal blow with that throw."
"No, it hit him a few inches off to the left," Throttle admitted, considering it. He looked at Modo, who was looking a bit concerned.
"So either we just saw a teenage Van Helsing and his ancient enemy or we've got a mystery?" Charley suggested. The three mice nodded. "Well, I'm for the first explanation and he seemed to have it well in hand."
"He said vampire," Vinnie noted suddenly. "He said something about vampires to the ashes."
"So he's a mini Van Helsing and he's got it," Throttle said, settling that in his mind. The kid would take care of anything like that and he didn't see them as a threat so they'd be fine. "Charley girl, got any rootbeer?"
"Of course," she sighed. "In the fridge, guys." They went to get themselves a cold one in reward for doing such a good job. Not even a single scratch to their side. It was a good night so far.
Xander walked into the club, armed and dangerous. The bouncer tried to stop him so he held up the card. "I'm invited. I'm the one coming for the Drac wannabe." The bouncer looked him over. "I'm from California, sorry, we do it differently. I could be wearing bright colors."
"We only let in people who're tight and well built."
Xander took off his outer shirt, showing off his tighter than average t-shirt. "I work construction." The guy let him inside so he put back on the shirt, stopping to pick up the stake he had dropped. He walked up to the bar. "Can I have a soda?" he asked with a small grin. "I'm going to be driving."
"Sure, sugar," the bartender said, pouring him one. "Two bucks." He started to pull his wallet but someone put money on the bar. "Ooh, an admirer."
Xander looked at the man behind him. "I'm straight."
"That doesn't mean I can't look," he said with a grin.
"True. Look away." Then he grinned back. "Thanks for that."
"You're welcome. We don't get many non-native boys around here. LA?"
"Just outside. Sunnydale actually." The man stared at him so Xander smirked. "It was kinda obvious. You're really pale under the lights in here. The big guy here yet?"
"Why are you?"
"Giles sent me."
"Oh, you're *him*," he said with a frown. "No, he's not finished with his hair yet. Wanna go onto the floor? I promise not to bite."
"Sure, why not," he agreed. "I'm secure in my masculinity these days." He followed the vampire out onto the floor, making sure his soda couldn't spill or be tampered with. This vampire was smooth, like he had imagined Angelus would be from his reputation in the books. Not at all like the real thing, much more smooth than the brooding one. They danced for a few tunes, then Xander headed for an empty table, sitting down. He patted himself down, finding only one thing was missing and if someone had stolen a holy water vial to drink it was their own fault. He sat down, getting comfortable against the wall. "Why is it that Masters always have to do their hair? Angel and Spike are the worst about that."
"You know them?" he asked in awe. Xander nodded, taking another sip. So that's where his holy water had went to. It wouldn't hurt him. He finished off the soda and put the glass down. "Did you bathe in holy water?"
"Someone stole a vial and dropped it into my drink," he said dryly, smirking at him. "Yeah, I work with the blonde one. I've met Angel a number of times, and met Angelus a few times, and Spike unfortunately sometimes takes up residence in my recliner as a tied- up being."
"You play sex games with Spike?" he asked, sounding even more awed.
"No, I tie him up because he's annoying," he said fondly. "Even if I liked guys, I wouldn't like that guy. He's too brash and loud. I've got a woman like that instead." The vampire chuckled and Xander stared over his shoulder. "The boss is in."
"Hell. I guess you'll have to go."
"He can find me. I'm about the only human in here. By the way, that woman who dosed my drink, you might want to find her in case it hurts her."
"It already has, but most of us didn't care. She was a stupid girl anyway." He got comfortable until his Master came over. "Sire, I was keeping your guest company. Mira stupidly stole some of his holy water and dosed his drink."
"I can see that. Thank you. I hope he was nice to you."
"Very charming," Xander agreed, waving at the bartender and holding up his drink. She smiled and nodded. "No additives this time," he called. "Please." She beamed and poured him a normal soda. He paid for his own this time, tipping the waitress with a small wink. "Thanks." She walked off. Xander moved his feet and switched so his back was fully against the wall and he was staring at the master. "You can sit." The man sat beside him. "What complications?"
"Someone stole it," he admitted. "They broke into our den and tried to get us to leave, and took that during the battle."
"Hmm. Where might he be?"
"In the big tower up the street," the Master admitted. "We can't get in there. There's no way for us to get in there. None of us are experienced in urban warfare."
"I can see that. My very nice keeper seemed a bit too nice to be a gutter rat. None of them?"
"Most of them left that could," another vampire noted. "He's the reason for the destruction."
"Interesting. I thought that building site looked a bit odd. Destruction instead?" That vampire nodded. "Understood. So you need me to get into the building?" The master nodded. "Fine. Let's go look at it." The master stood up and Xander accepted his help to his feet. "Thanks, dude." He grabbed the stake and slid it into his waistband. "I've got to fix the holder, it's stretched," he complained as he walked off with the whole group behind him. The building wasn't that far away and it was a nice night. Xander had them stay there and walked around the building, finding the entrances, including one guarded by a smoking idiot with wild hair and dark glasses. He found the garage and noticed the weak setup, smirking as he wandered over to it, taking the opportunity to relieve himself. Yeah, that would do. He walked back, seemingly drunk in a wobbling-along-the-sidewalk way in case anyone was watching. He met up with the master. "Three entrances, one very easy, one not that hard, and one with a guard. Where is it?"
"We're not sure." The master looked at him. "You know of these things?"
"How often do you think we get to sneak into places? I got to do this with the military twice," he noted cheerfully. "We took down the Initiative." The others hissed at that name. "Exactly. They were underground." He heard a rumble of an engine and glanced at the person riding up the street. "What's he? I don't recognize his species."
"He's not one of us," the master admitted bitterly. "We have no idea what he is, but they're the town's protectors. We don't bother what we don't know about."
"Decent enough." Xander looked up then at the vampires again. "We going now?" They shrugged. "Then let's go, guys." He took out his stake and squatted down to draw the plans he had. "Okay, you four," he said, pointing. "Go in this door. It had a guard. Go in, cause chaos and mayhem. I know many of you like that. Two more of you come with me. The rest of you hang out down here in case there's a problem. If you smell my blood, then something's buggered, cause more mayhem and hell on earth so I can get free." Everyone nodded, pausing to sniff him. He saw the blissed out expressions and grinned at the master. "You can come if you want."
"No, I'll wait. Warfare, even at this level, has nothing that amuses me."
"Sure. Maybe you can help by eating some of the goons who bother the guardians." He took off his brighter overshirt, shoving everything into his pockets and under his gray shirt into the holders he was wearing around his waist. Then they went inside. He got them through the gate at the garage, nodding at the two to start with the cars and dune buggies while he headed up the stairs. This wasn't that hard. He found a few cameras and motion detectors but he had black spray paint. He was kinda very experienced in this. He snuck under the cameras when he could, giving the painted ones as a way to distract the guards. Someplace like this had to have a good set of guards. He heard an alarm and paused where he was, which was behind a landing doorway. It had a card- reader on it so he couldn't jimmy it, but someone would be coming out of it soon enough or he could knock someone out and take their cards. A few goons ran out of the door, not noticing when he caught it. He snuck inside after a quick glance and hid in a shadow behind an ugly statue of a fish person. That's when the stench hit him. "Eww," he muttered as quietly as he could, trying to keep his gag reflex down. That was just nasty.
Throttle pulled into the garage, leaning on his handlebars. "There's a mass outing at the stink fish's. Most of them standing there but I saw a few sneaking inside, including that boy." The others looked at each other, then headed for their bikes.
"Are we helping those vampires?" Charley asked. "He said he was here to pick up something."
"Sure, why not," Vinnie said happily. "All the more destruction we'll have."
"Yeah, we haven't destroyed the tower in a few weeks," Modo said cheerfully. "Let's go."
"Hmm, sneak in?" Throttle suggested.
"Hardly," Vinnie scoffed. "A mouse as bad as me doesn't sneak! I say a full out assault."
"Sure. When we get there, forty-three green?" Everyone nodded. "Then let's Rock and Ride, bros!"
They roared out of the garage, heading to help in the destruction. A group like that wasn't a peaceful protest. When they got there, the garage was in a smoking ruin, the vampires were massing again and staring at the windows.
Vinnie stopped, glaring at them. "Problems?" he asked smugly.
"The human's been taken. I can smell his blood," one of them said absently. "He's on the top floor."
"No problem," Vinnie said with a wicked chuckle. "Guys, they've got that kid." The others growled and headed up the outside of the building, their bike's rockets firing. They blew in the window and landed inside the office.
Throttle took off his helmet. "Man, you reek worse than usual. Taking a bath in the sewer again, Limburger?"
"No, but I don't see why this is any of your concern." He stroked a crystal. "Besides, this one clearly isn't one of your kind. Now, leave, before I have to bring up something nasty," he said smugly.
"Duck," Xander called, ducking down to throw the guard over his shoulder. He stole the crystal and then backhanded the smelly man. "You stupid idiot. They're good guys, they're like that. I used to be like that. Now I'm not," he said fondly, smirking at him. "You're outmatched. You should go back to whatever hell dimension you came from. Or else I'll have someone come help you to one." He smirked at the bikers. "We all out?" They just blinked at him. "Hi, guys," he said sweetly. He looked out the window. "Hmm, I always wanted to try this. Catch me or die," he called. "I'm calling Rosenburg on my way down." The vampires moved into position so he jumped, spreading out on his back as he fell. Even if he was injured, it was still fun. "Yeah!" he shouted on the way down.
"And I thought you were insane, Vinnie," Throttle said, watching him fall. He was caught and a few of the people down there looked more broken than the boy. "Let's wreck it." Vinnie let out a howl of joy and they went back to their usual fun and games. They'd worry about the boy later.
"Oh, look, it's a Grease Pit," Modo called, shooting at him.
"We'll get you mousies yet!" Grease Pit howled as he ran off, his rear smoking from a shot.
"Get them," Limburger shouted. "They're here!" He hit all the buttons on his desk, starting the automatic defenses. But they shot at him instead. He dove behind his desk, trying to get out the emergency hatch. At least until a laser bolt hit him in the backside as well, then he went through the panel and out.
From the ground, Xander looked up as the smoke picked up and then nodded. "Huh. You know, if I had a way, I'd send him to a hell dimension."
"We can do that," one of them said cheerfully. It'd earn their Master and Sire many favors from the higher demons.
"Sure, go for it," Xander agreed. "Yo, furry people, that building is going to hell in ten minutes. If you're not out of there, you're going with it," he yelled. He walked off, knowing that they had heard him. Guys with ears that big had to be able to hear him from that sort of distance. He heard a motorcycle roar and smirked to himself as he walked off with the globe. He went back to the club to leave the envelope with the copies of things Giles had sent him, then headed back to his room, where he laid a path of holy water and salt across the doorway. One would stop the vampires and the other would hopefully stop that smelly creature. Speaking of, he stripped off and went to take a shower, the globe going with him.
He heard a large 'whomp' noise and looked out the window, noticing the building was disappearing. "I hope they got out." He went back to test the water, ignoring the knocking at his door. "I left the envelope at the club," he called. The knocking picked up, and was stronger. So he walked out to see who it was. He didn't think to grab a towel to cover his nudity, it'd only make the vampires stupid with lust. "You guys all got out, right?" he asked the tan being in front of him. He looked confused and nodded. "Good. I hoped you would." He shrugged and grinned, then shut the door. "I'm taking a shower, that guy stunk worse than most demons." He headed back into the shower, wincing as the door fell in. "Don't let me be charged for that, or I'm making a rug of one of you," he called back, getting into the warm spray. He heard someone come to the door and grabbed his gun, pointing it at the creature. "I'm still straight, even though you're cute and all. Out." Vinnie backed off. "Thanks. I'll be done in about ten minutes."
By the time Xander was done, the three bikers were in the main room, lounging and watching the tv. "No porn?" he joked.
"We're not that compatible," Modo said grimly.
"That was a dangerous and foolhardy stunt," Throttle agreed coolly in his low, husky voice. He started to go on but Xander held up a hand.
"I yelled to give you guys a warning. You obviously heard. Did everyone get out?" They all nodded. "Good. Did any of them get out?" They shook their heads, almost in unison. "Then they're in hell paying for every bad thing they ever tried to do." Three muzzles gaped at him. "The vampires were more than happy enough to get that blight out of their city. They also said they didn't like you guys because they weren't sure what you were." He grinned at Vinnie, then at the obvious leader of the group. "Welcome to my world. I deal with the vampires. If any of them get ejected from hell, they'll appear in that spot as a steaming, naked being. Until then, they're obviously bad guys who deserved it. My life's too short to waste bickering about how bad it was to let the vampires send them to hell. I deal with the vampires each night and save the world every other Thursday." They gaped again. "So, you guys got out, one for the good guys on the winning side. Anything else?"
"What was so important?" the large grey mouse asked quietly.
Xander retrieved the globe, holding it up. "It's a small key device. We'll need it to shut the stupid hellmouth again and maybe it'll stay shut this time. Otherwise I'll have to deal with that building showing up in my part of California when hell comes out." He put the tit-shaped crystal aside. "What you guys do is great, we love you guys if only so that me and my friends don't have to do this too. Unfortunately I've got to get this back there and Giles isn't happy anyway. Any other discussion?" They all shook their heads. "Then is the mechanic free? She was kinda nice and pretty and I wanted to take her out to dinner in exchange for scaring her last night."
"No way in hell, kid," the white mouse said grimly. "Mine."
"Sure. Not an issue," he agreed with a grin for him. "I'll send her flowers or something instead. It really wasn't fair of me to mess up her world further." The white mouse burst out laughing. "What?" he asked with a mock pout. "I'm surrounded by three girls, two of which are together, and a stuffy English dude. I spend a lot of time helping pick out gifts of forgiveness. I'm very good at it."
"He's like a human version of you, Vinnie," the grey mouse said dryly, standing up. "You're leaving soon?"
"Yeah, as soon as I get Giles to buy my return ticket. Otherwise I'm going to keep the crystal until he pays me back. Or actually, I'd probably give it to Spike because he does annoyance *so* much better than I do," he said fondly, grinning up at him. "If you guys ever want to come be threatened in my neck of the woods, feel free to. I'm sure Buffy would *love* you guys. Then again, if you did, Willow might try to pet one of you. She's just kinda like that," he shared. "I'm hoping her girlfriend could tame that since she allowed her to get a cat." He shook his head. "Let me call Giles so I know how long it'll be. If you guys wanna wait that is." They shrugged so he picked up the phone, dialing Giles' home number. "Okay, I've got the tit-looking globe thingy. I caused some major destruction out here with the vampire clan, and helped the local guys by sending the guy who stole it from them to hell. How long before I can come home."
Giles spluttered and Xander sighed. "Giles. Giles," he tried patiently. "Giles!" he snapped after a few more minutes. "When? I'm going to be asked to leave if I don't go soon and you *promised* me I wouldn't have to spend another two days on a greyhound. No you didn't. No, you didn't," he repeated patiently. "There were no return tickets with mine. So I'd do the ticket-cough before I have to go take out that clan and make the city *really* safe. Giles!" he said impatiently. "If you want the crystal tit back in Sunnydale, you'd better come through like you promised. I don't care!" he said firmly. "Then *you* go tell my boss that you sent me away to get the tit crystal and now won't bring me back. I'd like him to tape it too, so tell him that first so I can watch it when I get back. Giles, I'm dating Anya. Do you really think I have spare money lying around?" he said dryly. He looked at Throttle, handing him the phone. "You tell him I can't stay." He walked off, going to tuck the crystal into his bag in the bag Giles had made him bring.
"Sir, he really does need to go home. No, sir, I'm one of the town's protectors." He looked at the boy. "No," he said sarcastically, "he didn't cause any damage at all." Xander smirked at him, waving a hand for him to tell him. "No, he only sent a building of people to hell because they had stolen the crystal from those other guys." Xander chuckled at that. "He also jumped out a tenth story window, letting those others catch him. No, I'm serious. Throttle, sir."
"Don't sir him, he's a Giles," Xander said with a fond smirk for him. "Tell him I almost let them tape it but I left the envelope at their hunting hangout."
"He said he left that envelope at their hunting hangout. Yeah, him." He looked at the boy. "Sure. Two days is fine, of course I understand. No, we'll keep an eye on him."
"Yeah, that way he doesn't take out the sweetheart and ruin her for us," Vinnie said.
"No, he's not found a new girlfriend, it was in thanks for helping him. You can tell the screeching woman in the background that he's not cheating on her."
"No, I know what hell Anya would give me," he agreed, leaning against the closet door. "You can tell him it's in thanks since I had to slay in front of her."
"He said to tell her that it was in thanks because he had to slay in front of her and he thinks she's nice." He nodded once. "Sure, two days is fine. We'll make sure he's on the plane, sir. Thank you." He hung up. "Man, your girl is shrill." He rubbed his ear. "She wasn't even near the phone and nearly deafened me."
"That's nothing. I'll hear about it for weeks at home," he said with another fond grin. "Two days?" Throttle nodded. "Cool. I can get out there. You guys don't have to babysit."
"Fat chance," Modo said. "We want to make sure you don't send more of Chicago to hell."
"Me?" Xander asked innocently. "That was the vampires. I might go hunt some of them but nothing else." He shrugged. "I've been thinking about going clubbing actually. I could use some good, faceless temptation." He looked at his bag, then smirked and pulled out an outfit, going to put it on in the bathroom. He came out and found his room empty. So he sat down to put on his boots, then thought to check his bag. They had taken the crystal. He'd have to get it back in the morning. He walked out, heading to a nearby club that had a long line. The bouncer gave him a once-over, then let him inside after he paid the cover. Xander took a deep breath. It was a *real* club, not like the Bronze. He nearly ran out to the dance floor. He had missed this. He never had time for fun anymore.
Xander walked up to the garage the next morning, still wearing the same clothes. He hadn't made it back to the motel yet, but Giles was paying for the flowers he was bringing with the card he had stolen. He tapped on the door, smiling at Throttle, who he handed a flower to. "Here. Thanks. Crystal?"
"Modo," he said, pointing behind him, but he let the kid in.
"Wonderful. Let's hope it doesn't open up a doorway while he's holding it." He walked into the back where he could hear voices, presenting the flowers. "Because I was intolerably rude when I slayed a vampire in front of you, ma'am. I should know better than to pollute the nice people with the filth that walks in the night." He looked at Modo. "That crystal has the ability to open a doorway when you're holding it and play with it wrong." It was tossed back. "Thanks. Going to bed now." He smiled at Charley again. "I was going to ask you out for a nice lunch on Giles' credit card, but the white one there said I couldn't and got upset." He left, bouncing the crystal in his hand. "Later," he called as he shut the door behind himself.
"All right, that's just so wrong!" Vinnie complained. "He bought you flowers?"
"It's nice," she said, reading the card, that again apologized for defeating a creature in front of her. "Girls like things like this now and then. It's very sweet. He obviously understands women."
"He said he's surrounded by two lesbians, another woman, and an old stuffy guy from England," Throttle agreed. "I talked to him, it made him send the plane ticket faster after I told him about the building disappearing and going to hell."
"And after the guy jumped out the window without anything to save him," Vinnie agreed. Not even *he* would be that dumb. He always either had his bike or a parachute or a jet pack, something to save him. "That boy needs help," he decided.
"Probably but if what he says is true, then he's living on borrowed time," Throttle reminded him. "I'm wondering if his town is really that bad."
Charley looked at him. "I went to the library before you guys got here to look them up on the internet. They've got a thirty percent homicide and missing persons rate." They all winced at that.
"Mars only had a fifty percent during the war!" Throttle complained. "What is going on!"
"I'm supposing more like those vampires," she offered. She sniffed the flowers again then got up to put them into some water. "This was very nice of him."
Vinnie frowned out the window. "Yeah, nice," he said flatly.
She gave him a pat on the back of the head. "I'm not going to start dating him, Vinnie, calm down."
"Hopefully not," Vinnie said, grinning at her. "Wanna catch a picnic today, sweetheart? We could go somewhere quiet and eat."
"Sure, if you drain the oil in the wrecker and change it for me," she said with a smirk. "Tomorrow, I don't have anything then." He nodded, accepting that for now. "So, you talked to his keeper, Throttle?"
"Yeah, an older sounding guy with a strange accent. He sounded very worried, and a bit upset with the boy."
"Xander," she corrected. "He signed the card."
"Oh, nice," Vinnie said dryly. "Xander?"
"Probably short for Alexander," she noted. She looked at Throttle. "Did you tell on him?" He nodded, smirking at her. "Then maybe he'll get the help he needs out there."
"Yeah, it switched from another bus ticket to a plane ticket after I told him about the jumping from Limburger's office stunt," he agreed smugly. "Apparently he doesn't know the boy very well. He said as much. His girl's real shrill though. She was across the room and you could hear her clearly as she ranted about her boy."
"If he was mine, I'd keep him on a leash," she agreed, starting to laugh. "I can't imagine what his girl must be like."
"He said something about not having any money because of her," Modo offered.
"Somehow I don't see him dating a money grubbing shrew," she told him. He shrugged. "Maybe she doesn't work." She shrugged and dug into her breakfast, glancing at the flowers now and then, which was making Vinnie vibrate in agitation. "Hey, Vinnie, would you pick up some groceries for me?" she asked sweetly, grinning at him. "Then maybe I can get to the wrecker first and we can do that picnic today."
He calmed down and grinned back. "Sure thing, sweetheart. Make me a list and everything." She nodded. "A big haul?"
"Nah, some bread, milk, eggs, sausage, things like that," she promised. "Easily carried on the bike."
He beamed at the others. "You guys wanna come?"
"No, that's okay," Throttle assured him. "We'll stay here in case any more of those goons come back."
"I wanted to go look at the building in the daylight," Modo offered. "Make sure it's really gone and no one reappeared like the boy said they might." Throttle nodded at that. "Do you think he was being literal?" he asked, needing to ask that.
"We just found out vampires are real, bro," Throttle said softly. "It's possible. That means they're paying for everything they ever did to Mars." Modo nodded at that, seeming to relax some.
"Hopefully Karbunkle was in the building," Vinnie said bitterly.
Charley leaned over to give him a hug. "If not, we'll just ship him back for a court once we catch him. He can't have any more goons or Grease Pit," she said softly, making him calm down again. "Plus, no more transporter or anything." He nodded, giving her a squeeze. "So, what else is going on today?"
"I was going to ride past the kid's room, make sure he didn't get into trouble later," Throttle offered. "I don't think he'd been to bed yet."
"Then he's got more stamina than I do," Charley said dryly. "He's obviously younger than me."
They all chuckled at that, the life in youth was something they all remembered fondly.
"Did I ever tell you about that time we were on Taurus?" Vinnie asked with a grin.
"No, not that," Throttle moaned, taking his breakfast out to the garage, Modo following.
"Guys!" he whined.
"That bad?" Charley called after them.
"Don't ask. He nearly got us arrested," Modo called back.
"That's not fair!" Vinnie called after them, getting up to go bug them. Charley finished her breakfast with a grin and a few more looks at the nice flowers.
Xander woke up to someone tapping on his door, getting up to grunt at the guy there. "Yeah?" An envelope was handed over. "Thanks." He looked at it, then at him. "Huh?"
"Plane tickets, sir."
"Ah. 'Kay, thanks, dude. Need anything like a tip?" The boy shook his head. "Any good clubs on this side of the city? I went to the one with the flames and stuff last night."
"Not really. They're mostly across the city," he admitted with a grin. This guy didn't look that young. "Have a good nap, sir."
"You too, kid." He closed the door, locked it, and went back to bed, putting the envelope on the dresser as he walked past it. The phone rang and he picked it up with a grunt. "Forgot, sorry. Be there in ten minutes." He got up and pulled on some pants, heading out to pay for another day. Fortunately Giles hadn't skimped on that. He handed over the forty dollars and took the rest to get breakfast from the nearby diner. He stuck his head inside. "Can I get some food?" he called to the waitress with a grin. "Just breakfast?" She gave him a look so he leaned in a bit more. She smiled and nodded, going to get him some food and take his money. "Thanks, dear. You're very nice." He went back to his room, trudging back inside and closing the door. He found a big man in his way, sitting down to eat. He grunted between bites, looking up at him. "What?" he asked finally.
"Making sure you're fine. You left your door open."
"Vampires go poof in the sunlight," he said, taking a bite of toast. "Make sure the crystal's in that velvet bag?" Throttle held up the bag, showing it had a large lump in it. "Thanks. Other problems?"
"You made Vinnie so jealous," he said smugly.
"Yeah, well, sometimes guys need a push," he said smugly, then he dug into his eggs. "She seemed very nice and he'll do more sweet things for the next three weeks or so in retaliation."
Throttle considered it. "Yeah, he is. It's keeping him out of her hair too," he agreed dryly. "You have fun?"
"Sure did, dad." He put aside the rest of his food and wiped his mouth off. "I clubbed with some very pretty girls most of last night." The room's phone rang so he picked it up. "Yeah?" He smirked. "Hi, Giles. Nope it's still here. I left it at their hunting spot. You can tell him I said that. No, I left while they were doing the chanting to send the building to hell so I didn't get caught accidentally. Yeah, well, you said the crystal was a doorway," he said dryly. "With my luck, I'd get to meet Anya's family." He smirked at Throttle. "No, I didn't jump out of a tenth story window without a parachute. I think it was more like a twelfth story or something. Yes, Giles, I was safe," he sighed, rolling his eyes. "Sure, put her on. Hey, Anya. No, nothing like that. No, I had to slay in front of her and I wanted to apologize for bringing that nastiness onto her doorstep. Oh, tell Giles he bought her flowers." He smirked. "Then next time, tell him to buy the tickets back at the same time. Yeah, someone just delivered them."
He pointed at the envelope and it was tossed over. 'Thanks,' he mouthed, slitting it open with his plastic fork. "Um, United, straight from Chicago, two days in the afternoon. Got it." He grinned. "Sure, Anya. Hey, yell at him. I wanted him to send Willow, but *no* he had to send me." He smirked at Throttle. "Then again, I think she might have freaked that first night when the bus blew an engine near a gang warfare spot." He beamed. "Sure. Love you too. Fix me dinner when I get back, 'kay? That way I don't have to pay outrageous prices for airport food. Thanks, Anya. Love you too." He hung up and rolled his eyes, making sure it was on the hook. "And I thought Giles was a worrywart."
"He probably should be if that's any indication of what you're like at home."
"I don't have the energy to be this fun at home. Between work and patrols, I don't get much free time. Maybe one night a week if we're lucky and there's no upcoming quarterly emergency."
"What do you do at home?"
"Ooh," Throttle said with a wince. That was a tiring job. "They can't pay you for... patrols?"
"No, Giles won't." He shrugged. "They don't pay Buffy either and it's sacred duty to do it. I'm just a guy who jumped in." He shifted some. "So, give, what are you?"
"Okay. Not exactly what I expected thanks to the movies, but fairly cool in your own right, even if you do the parental scowl thing very well."
"It comes from dealing with Vinnie." He wasn't sure if he was winning this discussion or not, this boy was throwing him off balance very badly. "So, what's your town like?"
"Small, peaceful, idyllic, white picket fences, portal to hell, vampires, demons, constant fighting that the residents ignore." He shrugged. "It's nearly hell but it's home."
"You don't sound too happy to go back."
"Yeah, but as a wise man once told me, when you've been in the sewer for so long, you can't tell that roses smell any different." Throttle nodded, he could understand that feeling. "I've got a job, a girl, and a duty. It's a life for now."
"If you say so. You could probably take your girl and find a new job."
"Yeah, but that takes money and Anya's a money hoover," he admitted with a small grin. "Besides, that would leave my friends down a person in the nightly battles."
"Maybe, but what's worse?"
"The world going to hell because we don't win."
"Oh. Like the building...." Xander nodded, looking much older than he had to be. "Really?"
"Really. We've got a portal there. It draws things to it. Some very bad things. We fight the very bad things and do so without too many losses usually." He shifted again. "It's not fun, it's a life, man. It's my life. If I left, I'd do what I did here and draw them to me. They like me because I've been doing this so long. So even if I got out, I'd still be doing the job, just in a different location and without friends."
"Friends can make the difference," he agreed. "We're in a war at home against that guy you sent to hell last night."
"I'm sorry, man. I hope you guys win. You seem too nice to stink like that for eternity." Throttle smirked at him, it had been a weak joke. "He did!"
"He did," he admitted. "You'll be okay?"
"Yeah, I left the payment for the crystal last night. As long as they go get it, it'll be fine. If they come for me, I can tell them that I left it with the bartender." He shrugged. "What're they gonna do, turn me? Then I'll be super fighting boy and take the time to eat the pissants in the world who deserve it."
"Fine. If you need us while you're here, come get us. Modo said he'd give you a ride to the airport."
"I'm cool," Xander offered. "Really."
"Fat chance, kid."
"I'm twenty-one, I'm not a kid. I haven't been a kid since I was fifteen," he noted quietly. Throttle nodded, he could see that. "So, you gotta name?"
"I'm Throttle. Modo's the big guy and Vinnie's the one you're walking on the tail of."
"Cool. Tell him I'd never take her for real once I'm gone. Anya'd get really mad and make me follow the building. She's a former vengeance demon." Throttle winced at that. "Yeah, exactly," he agreed. "But hey, it's a former job for her. That's a good thing." He shrugged. "It happens. I'm going clubbing again tonight. Any recommendations?"
"We don't usually go out like that. People tend to give us odd looks for being furry."
"Hell, they'd probably love you in some of the bear and leather bars," Xander said dryly, smirking at him. "Ask Vinnie to look at them. He seems like the sort not to be embarrassed by a leather bar."
"Sure, kid," Throttle agreed, smirking at him. He could sense the naughtiness but he wasn't quite sure where it was coming from, yet. Maybe they could use it as a prank after he asked Charley. "You behave, kid. Yell if you need us." He left, going back to the garage. He made sure the boy locked the door behind him, thinking on the way back. He ran into Charley outside, stopping to look at her, turning off his face shield. "Charley girl, he just suggested that Vinnie check out leather and bear bars. I didn't know you had sentient bears down here."
She blushed and shook her head with a moan. "Oh, God," she whimpered. "I can see that." She walked back into the garage, going to hide now. That boy was too much, but she could imagine that. She had to stop those images before they took flight of their own free will.
Throttle smirked. So it was something sexual. Yeah, maybe he'd use that as a prank for the smug little mouse. He headed inside the garage, closing the door after himself since no one was coming. Charley looked at him as she came out of the bathroom and blushed again. Then she went back into the bathroom and shut the door firmly. He chuckled. He'd definitely have to get Vinnie with that. Right after he found a definition of what sort of bear that was. He didn't want Vinnie to be hurt after all.
Xander checked his gun, showing his permit, then grinned and waved at Modo. "Thanks, big guy. Have a nice ride back," he called, heading for the gate with his ticket. He made it through security fairly quickly, even though he did have to take off his boots. His plane was sitting at the gate so he didn't have to wait too long for it. By the time he got onto the plane, he was in a really cheerful mood. He checked the crystal then put his bag under the seat in front of him. He settled in to watch the passengers load since he was near the front of the plane. One of them made him cringe, but he wasn't sure why. He looked at the stewardess and she was watching the same guy. The others boarded and nothing else happened. He settled in as the safety film strip came on, the stewardess mimicking the actions on the small tv set into the roof. They taxied out to a runway and were about to take off when the plane suddenly shut down completely, lights and all. "Huh," Xander said, glancing around.
The man who was suspicious got up and walked up there, holding a gun that looked like a toy to him. "We're not going anywhere!" he shouted. "Not until our demands are met!"
Xander considered what was in his bag, but nothing would really harm the human unless he wanted to stake him. He raised a hand, getting a glare in return. "Sir, some of us are due for important events. How long do you think it'll be before they give into your demands? I've got an impatient bitch at home waiting to drop something."
The man continued to glare at him. "However long it takes."
"Sure. Just asking," he said with his 'harmless, innocent boy' grin. "What are your demands? Maybe some of us can meet them."
"I want all of the electronics in the world to be trashed and for us to go back to horses and buggies." He saw the boy blink. "Electronics are evil," he shouted. "They're ruining humans, making us too soft!"
Xander stood up, looking at him, licking his lips. "Sir, not to be a bother or anything, but you're standing in one of those things. You're surrounded by those things, and some of us aren't that soft. Some of us are actually harder because of some machines. After all, look how many people now have muscles from gym equipment, a lot of which has electronic components. A lot of the carpentry I do requires electronics but I'm not exactly the little geek I was when I started. Maybe you should ask for reasonable electronics for training purposes? Things to help us train in the old ways first. A mini-step mind you, but easier than, say, the military giving up all its electronics and nifty weapons. By the way, I saw a tank heading this way. With how paranoid people are today, they'll just blow us all up instead." He stared the man down, seeing the fear in his eyes. "I don't disagree, I know a few people who live for their GameBoxes. That's all they do all day." The man shuddered. "But if you want to *convince* us to help you instead of being a nuisance, you can't get us all blown up by a tank. We're not going to be martyrs to your cause."
"You sound like you're military," the man said suspiciously.
Xander gave him a gentle grin. "I've thought about it and trained with some," he admitted. "I'm actually a strategy person in my town. It's too small to have one for the police department." The man looked impressed. "So maybe you should go out there and make your demands at the people waiting. If you can convince them, you can convince us and it'd get you away from the harmful electronics." The man nodded, waving the gun at the stewardess to let him out. "Go ahead," he encouraged. "We're going to stay right here like good hostages." She let him out, deploying the emergency slide. He slid down and she shut the door. "Good. How long before they release us?" he asked.
"It could be a few hours, sir," she said, staring at him. "You know you're not supposed to resist, right?"
"I'm not, I'm being reasonable. It's the voices in his head that were the problem," he said as he sat down again. He found a phosphorescent stick and lit it up, shaking it a bit as he pulled out his graphic novel. He could read it again. He stretched out to read, ignoring the funny looks.
"Sir, please keep your feet out of the aisle," the stewardess said gently. He grinned and moved his feet. "Thank you, sir. Attention, people, he is in custody so we'll be getting a tram out here in a few moments to take us back to the airport. Please gather your belongings and stay in your seats so we can exit in an orderly fashion," she ordered. Xander plopped his bag in the seat beside him, handing her the glow stick. "Thank you, sir." She watched as he put back the comic book, catching sight of the stake on top. "Is that what I think it is?"
He looked at her. "It's normal artillery for some of us," he said dryly. "It helps in my town." She left him alone, and since the nice FBI people didn't arrest him he doubted she said anything about it. He filled out his forms and gave a verbal report about what had happened and why he was in the city, to pick up something for a friend, then got to get back onto the next flight. Since he had been identified as the person who had sent the whacko outside, he got a much later flight than most everyone else he had been with. He did check with the gate attendant to make sure his checked weapon was on this plane, getting a smile and a nod. Then he went to find the bookstore to find something new to read. He deserved a treat. Even if Giles did take the fifteen bucks out of his hide later on.
Charley turned up the radio at the news report.
"At O'Hare airport, there was a short hostage situation on a flight going to LA," the announcer said. "Fortunately the person holding them hostage did come outside to make his demands in person and he was caught before any of his hostages were harmed. The responding agents said that the passengers did what they could to minimize the risk and one of them convinced the man to give his demands in person, thus saving the other passengers. We'd like to salute that man, but we don't know who he is. Again, everyone on the flight was fine and flew out on the next few scheduled flights instead.
Charley looked at Vinnie, who was staring at the radio. "I'm not telling Throttle about that."
"Me either, sweetheart. You think it was him?"
"I have this sinking suspicion it was," she admitted. "He seemed like the sort."
"Wow. I'm impressed if he used it against the guy then." He shrugged it off. The kid was wonderful.
Willow heard the news report and sighed. "Giles, Xander's flight will be delayed," she called. "There was a short hostage situation so they moved them to later flights."
Giles came out of the office. "That's fine, Willow. Remind me to make him pay for the forty dollar flowers he sent someone and the books he just bought."
"Sure, Giles, but you knew he wasn't happy about this." She grinned at him. "They're all okay."
"I'm happy about that, I truly am. What happened?"
"Hostage situation. Some guy who said electronics were bad."
"Ah, I see. How did they solve it?"
"The guy came out to give his demands and they caught him before he could hurt anybody."
"Wonderful work the FBI does," he said happily enough. "I'll warn Anya to start dinner later." He went to call her. She hated watching the news.
Buffy grinned at Xander as he came off the plane and waved at him from the security fence. "Xander!" He grinned and held up a finger, so she nodded. He ducked into a door, coming out with a small package, then went through security. She walked with him to get his bags, taking his arm to hold. "What happened?"
"Someone who thought electronics were bad and we should all be Amish."
"Wonderful," she said cheerfully. "You okay?"
He grinned. "Just fine. He walked out to give his demands and they caught him then." He grabbed his bag off the belt, checking it over. He found the crystal and handed it over. "One crystal tit for you, my dear one. Just like Giles asked for."
"Thanks, just what I always wanted." She looked inside the bag and blushed. "It is, isn't it." He nodded, grinning at her. "So, what was Chicago like?"
"Kinda dirty in places. They were having a bad set of restructuring in the part I was in. A lot of tearing down and rebuilding." He walked her outside, getting in to drive his car. "Who gave you my car?"
"Willow did," she said, handing over the keys. "I was very careful," she said proudly.
"I'm sure you were, Buffy." He checked it over and nodded at her to belt up. "Seatbelt." She put hers on with a sigh. "Other than being a bit dirty and in a big scaffold, I met some very nice bikers. Our bus broke down by a garage that specialized in them apparently. I got a ride from one of them."
"Was that the Throttle guy?" she asked.
He nodded, backing out of the parking spot, looking behind him. "Yup, sure was. He's a big daddy sorta person. Scowled at me and everything. He's pretty cool though. You'd like him a lot." He switched into drive and went forward, going around some walking people so he could escape the parking garage and the city. "Anything bad happen while I was gone?"
"A few vampires, nothing major. I slayed, they dusted, we partied one night. Anya's cooking. I'm supposed to warn you not to get full on the way home this time."
"Sure thing, Buff. Is she trying to make a cake again?"
"Sure is," she said happily. "Don't try to poison us with it this time."
"I'll try," he said dryly, paying their toll and heading out of the airport. The interstate was close by and Sunnydale had an exit. It'd be a quicker trip away from LA and toward home.
To Episode 2