- If it’s Tuesday, this must be Sunnydale: First Post
- If it’s Tuesday, this must be Sunnydale: Second Post
- If it’s Tuesday, this must be Sunnydale: Third post
- If it’s Tuesday, this must be Sunnydale: Fourth post
- If it’s Tuesday, this must be Sunnydale: Fifth post
- If it’s Tuesday, this must be Sunnydale: Sixth post
- If it’s Tuesday, this must be Sunnydale: Seventh post
- If it’s Tuesday, this must be Sunnydale: Eighth post
- If it’s Tuesday, this must be Sunnydale: Ninth post
- If it’s Tuesday, this must be Sunnydale: Epilogue
If it’s Tuesday, this must be Sunnydale
The story begins here.
Disclaimer: All characters are the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, etc. Only the lame plots and dialogue herein are mine.
Notes: Set in version of S6 that is so AU it’s nearly angst-free. Buffy either didn’t die at the end of S5 or was happy to come back. Everyone gets along, more or less, at least until someone gets a really nifty notion.
Rating: R, barely
Thanks: to keswindhover and revdorothyl for the beta, not to mention coming up with the plot bunny in the first place. I am wholly to blame for any errors. And thanks to itmustbetuesday for the comm, and because her name prompted me to think of a title at last.
Wednesday, Day One of the Tour
A School for the Scabrous
Buffy checked her messenger bag. Empty. That meant she was finished with this load of deliveries and could go back to the office, where someone would shove another pile of fat envelopes and small packages in her direction. Buffy was starting to suspect that some of the packages were empty. Most of the staff seemed pretty determined to keep her from hanging around the office.
She wasn’t sure why they hadn’t just fired her after her first miserable week. Probably she was just lucky that they had lots of customers in the area and that she was fast enough to beat FedEx and the post office at deliveries. She was pretty sure she was cheaper too.
I feel like a puppy who piddled on the carpet once too often and wound up in a doghouse in the back yard.
At least they haven’t sent me to the pound.
She settled the messenger bag over her shoulder. Anything was better than no money coming in at all, and at least she was getting lots of exercise. But she also had too much time to worry as she walked from office to warehouse to store and then to another office. Time that she spent remembering the stack of bills on the desk in her living room and adding them up in her head. The fact that she never got the same answer twice wasn’t the bad part; she’d never been very good with numbers. The bad part was that they never added up in a way that hinted she’d ever be able to pay them.
She turned the corner onto the main street, thinking that she deserved a break, which she could spend having a cup of tea at the Magic Box. With Giles away, it wasn’t the best option, just the only one. She was completely broke, and even Anya wouldn’t try to charge Buffy for a tea bag and some hot water.
But the Magic Box was barely visible. A huge charter bus that was belching diesel fuel down the length of the street blocked the storefront.
She quickened her pace, wondering what a charter tour was doing in downtown Sunnydale, but while she was still more than a block away her phone rang, and she stopped to answer it.
She held the phone away from her ear. It was the guy in Receiving. The one she’d heard ask the manager when he was going to fire “the brainless blonde.” “Uh, hi, Brian.”
“I told you that big package had to be delivered before noon. Where is it?”
“I dropped it off over an hour ago. It was the first place I went!” She heard the screech of bus doors opening and stuck a finger in one ear to block out the street sounds.
“They’ve called twice to say it never got there. Who did you give it to? The janitor?”
“No, I went up the stairs and into the big office. I handed it over and they signed for it and everything.” Some people were emerging from the tour bus. It was too far away to see clearly, but they seemed to be wearing some kind of uniform.
There was a pause. “That company’s offices are all on the first floor. “Where exactly did you take it?”
“Those new offices on the edge of town. Number 17, Suite 42.” Some of the people coming out of the bus looked a little—odd.
“Every time I think you can’t do something more brainless–” The voice at the end of the phone sounded more resigned than angry. “It was supposed to go to Number 42, Suite 17.”
“No way.” Buffy reached into the side pocket of her bag. “See, it says right here on the instructions, Number 42, Suite 17.” She stared at the paper. “Uh—”
A moment later, she was running back the way she’d come, the bus and its riders forgotten.
I never was any good at numbers.
“Welcome to Sunnydale!” Anya threw her arms wide and beamed at the beings who had crowded into the Magic Box.
There was no beaming in return. The demons stared back at her. They were a varied bunch. Most gave the impression of being young, but three at least were obviously not students. For one thing, they were the only ones not wearing the uniform of blue blazer, white shirt, and blue pants or pleated skirt.
The older ones ranged from a tall, skinny demon with extra elbows and two knees in each leg to a wizened dwarf with a long beard and a nasty scowl. Between them was an average-looking man somewhere between the ages of 20 and 50. None of them looked very pleased.
“The plane was late, and the bus driver got lost,” said the one in the middle. “And this is a very unprepossessing town.” His voice was as bland as his appearance.
“I’m terribly queasy,” said the tall one. “I can never sleep a wink when I’m traveling. There was no legroom at all on the flight, and that bus rocked worse than a boat, and I can’t abide boats. I’m sure jet lag will set in any moment, and I always suffer more from jetlag than anyone else. And this shop is full of smells. I’m sure I detect wolfbane. I’m very allergic to wolfbane.” He looked around worriedly.
The dwarf poked his nose at a nearby display. “You call those newt eyes? Ha! They’re salamander, or I’m a toad! Pah! I knew you’d turn out to be a fraud.”
“I am not a fraud!” Anya looked around for support. Willow and Tara had backed away from the new arrivals, but she was able to grab Xander’s hand. “I am an ex-vengeance demon and current entrepreneur! Tell them, honey.”
“Uh, yeah,” said Xander, blinking at the sight of so much weirdness in so little space. “From Curses to Capitalism, my girl does it best! Well, did it best, with the curses—”
He broke off as two of the uniformed demons drifted closer to him. They appeared human, but were far from average. They were young adults, and both had dark hair and disturbing green eyes. One was male and the other female, and they looked like siblings. “How pretty he is,” purred one. “Is this your pet human?” asked the other.
“Hey!” Anya stood between them and Xander. “Let’s get one thing clear right now. You don’t get to tour the fiancé!”
Willow gathered her courage and tried to give her own welcome. “How do you do? I’m Willow, and this is Tara, and we’re witches. We’ll be helping show you the wonders of Sunnydale. And you are?
“Not very fond of witches!” snapped the dwarf.
“I am Azrael Maindepeste, Principal of Abbadon High School and Theosophist Elementary,” said the creepily ordinary one. He waved at the dwarf “This is—” and he gargled a series of unintelligible syllables— “our Dean of Discipline. And this—” he nodded at the tall one, “is Professor Ish, our etiquette instructor.”
Ish moaned and scratched his hand. “I’m developing hives already.”
“Uh, nice to meet you,” said Willow. “And may we meet your, uh, pupils?” She blinked at the student body, which was covered variously in fur, scales, and, in a few cases, skin. In at least one case, bright purple skin.
There was a crash and Anya screamed as a display of candles fell to the floor. She rushed to survey the damage. “Who did this?”
Shoulders and varous appendages shrugged. “Really,” said Maindepeste, if you can’t be bothered properly securing your wares—”
Anya gasped. “Prop—Xander fixed that all carpentery and steady. Someone knocked it down on purpose! The damage is going on your bill.”
“Nonsense,” said Maindepeste. “Our students have specifically been instructed to steal or damage only property belonging to people unassociated with the tour, as specified in our contract.”
“What’s this about then?” Spike strode toward a huddle of shorter demons, lifted a furry one up by the scruff of its neck, and shook it hard.
“Spike, don’t kill our guests!” Anya was moving to the rescue when she saw a pile of chicken feet on the floor at Spike’s feet. She glared at the little demon, who stuck out a forked tongue and grinned. “You stole those.”
“You!” Principal Mortmain bustled up to Spike. “You strangely-coiffed human! How dare you touch one of my pupils?”
Spike switched to game face and snarled.
The Principal moved back a step, but his expression didn’t change. The same couldn’t be said for Professor Ish, who screamed in terror and tried to hold the Dean before him as a shield. Realizing a second later that a dwarf was an inadequate barrier, he grabbed Tara by the arms and squatted down behind her.
“Uh—” she said, trying to pry off one set of spindly fingers.
“Wow, you’re a vampire,” said the demon Spike was holding. “Cool. Will we get to see you eat someone?”
“Want to volunteer for lunch?” Spike dropped him on the floor.
The young demon landed like the cat he resembled. “Yeah, right. Like I’d do you any good. Blood rats can’t feed off servalines. We learned that way back in third grade.”
“If you don’t mind—” Tara moved from side to side, trying to get away from Professor Ish, who released her arms but still kept her between himself and Spike.
The Dean glared at Anya. “We were not informed that you had half-breeds on your staff.” He turned to glare at the creature still quivering behind a very uncomfortable-looking Tara. “Ish, show a bit of at least one of your backbones. Even young Felix knows vampires don’t feed off other demons, and this one seems tame enough even around humans.”
“Those are not tame teeth!” squealed Professor Ish. He grabbed Tara again, this time so hard she yelped.
“You’ve got that right!” snarled Spike, baring them.
Willow’s eyes went black. “Back off my girlfriend!”
The Professor was slammed against the wall, and Tara scooted away to stand next to Willow.
“Uh, honey, thanks, but he is a guest and maybe you should let him stand up.”
Anya, who was trying to keep an amphibious-looking student from eating a jar of newt (or possibly salamander) eyes as if they were olives, looked over her shoulder. “This isn’t going at all the way I wanted! Everyone needs to start being nicer right now, except for those two slinky things that are still touching Xander! ”
“Selkies,” said Maindepeste, his eyes still on Spike. “They are selkies, not slinkies.”
Xander, who hadn’t been trying very hard to avoid the selkies, pushed them away. “Uh, thanks, and it’s nice to meet you too, but I’m spoken for. Kind of shouted for, too.”
Everyone in the store started talking at once, and Anya rushed over to Xander. “Honey, it’s not going the way I want. Fix it.”
“Uh—” Xander looked around at the mob. His eyes reached Willow.
“Silence!” There was an echo behind Willow’s voice that commanded even the dwarf to obey.
Willow smiled. “There, that’s better. Now, everyone listen. You are going to get back in the bus, and we’re going to take you to your, uh, lodgings. You’ll have an hour to freshen up, and then we’ll serve the, uh, food Anya has had prepared—”
“—entirely in accordance with the dietary preferences you specified,” Anya interpolated.
“Yes,” Willow continued, “and then there will be a moonlight tour of the remains of the tower where a hell god attempted to rip apart the dimensions.”
“Which dimensions?” demanded a voice from the crowd of pupils.
“All of them,” said Willow severely. “We get big-time evil here in Sunnydale, and don’t you forget it.”
“That’s right.” Xander made his way through the crowd of students, not quite quickly enough to avoid a pinch on his bottom from one of the selkies. “I’ll direct your driver.” He opened the door to the street.
“Good,” said Anya. “Now that’s all settled.”
Immediately, all the visitors began talking and arguing again. No one moved.
This time it was Spike’s roar that silenced them. “I’ve had enough of you wankers, and if you’re not out of this shop in two minutes, I’m going to start finding out what your blood tastes like just for the fun of it.”
Maindepeste came as close to glaring at him as his eerily bland features and almost colorless eyes would allow. “Our contract stipulated we were to be treated with courtesy at all times. Your manners leave much to be desired.”
“They do, do they? If any one of your lot calls me a half breed or a blood rat again, I’ll give you a lesson in manners that you just might forget because it will involve tearing off your head.” Spike raised an arm, pointing toward the door. “I want your arse out of here in thirty seconds. And that goes for Puddleglum and Gimli over there, too.”
Professor Ish and the dwarf correctly identified themselves by these appellations and scurried out immediately, Ish moving so fast his legs appeared to be on backwards, and the dwarf stomping and cursing. Maindepeste followed with a bit more dignity, but well within the time allotted.
“Thank you, Spike.” Anya turned to the students. “Now, the rest of you. Shoo!”
The students exited more slowly, bottlenecking inevitably at the door, and pushing and shoving, but without causing significant damage. Felix, the little servaline demon, was the last in line, and he turned to wink at Spike as he left.
Willow and Tara followed. Before Anya went to board the bus with the others, she aked Spike, “I don’t suppose you’d consider—?”
He shook his head and pointed at the bright sunshine beyond the window. “Not frying myself for you. If you have any trouble, ask Willow to turn one of them into something for a few minutes.”
“Okay.” Anya considered. “But not rats. She’s not good at reversing rat spells. I wonder how she manages with kittens? I don’t mind kittens.”
Spike didn’t bother to answer. He was nosing out Giles’ secret stash of single malt whisky before Anya was out the door.
When Buffy came home that night, she found Xander in the hallway, looking like he was waiting for something. She stared at him blankly. “Uh, hi. Are we doing something?”
He looked around. “Standing in the hall?”
She closed her eyes for a second and sighed in exasperation. “I mean, did I promise to do something with you tonight? Go to the movies, slay a demon, that kind of thing? I’m sorry if I forgot, but—”
Xander put his hands up in a warding off gesture. “Oh, no, I don’t want to do anything with you!”
She blinked at his vehement tone and said levelly, “Okay, it’s nice to know I’m not wanted.”
A door slammed and a few seconds later, Spike came out of the kitchen. “Hello, love.” He looked at her for a moment, reached into his coat pocket and handed her his flask.
“Is it that obvious?” She took it gingerly.
“I said I wasn’t going to do this any more—” She grimaced, unscrewed the top, drank, and grimaced a whole lot more. She handed him back the flask. “Do me a favor, and next time remind me how much I hate this stuff.”
“Hi, Buffy!” called Dawn as she ran downstairs. “I’m going out.”
“That’s it? ‘Hi, I’m leaving?’ And leaving for where?”
“Xander and Anya invited me over to have pizza and play Life.”
“Yetch.” Buffy made almost as nasty a face as when she’d drunk from the flask. “I hate that game, and Anya is the most annoying player since—well, since you.”
“That’s why we didn’t invite you,” Xander’s tone was eager. “We said to ourselves, what would Buffy not want to do and—”
“Buffy’s tired,” Spike interrupted. “Love, if you want to skip patrol tonight, we can stay in since everyone else is clearing out.”
She shook her head. “No, duty calls. Give me a few minutes to change, and I’ll be more than ready to kill something.” She turned and trudged up stairs.
“Oh, I forgot the stuff—I mean, my backpack!” Dawn galloped up the stairs at her sister’s heels.
“What stuff?” asked Spike when two bedroom doors had opened and closed.
“Oh, she figured out how to make some fake Dagonspheres to hand out to the kids,” said Xander. “Just pretty little glowy balls with those things inside you twist to make colored lights. They can carry them around what’s left of the tower while Willow and Tara tell them how we beat Glory.” His smile faded. “Uh, Spike, you don’t suppose you could sneak away from Buffy and give us a hand tonight?”
“My job is making sure Buffy doesn’t find out about this Magical Mystery Tour, remember?” Spike grinned. “I take it the Bêtes of St. Trinnian are proving a bit of a handful.”
Xander’s response came out in a rush. “That creepy guy who looks way too normal to be normal keeps trying to re-negotiate the terms of the contract with Anya, so all they do is argue, and the other two teachers don’t do anything to help. The dwarf snarls at the kids, but they ignore him. The scarecrow is afraid of them, I think. I think he’s afraid of everything. Willow and Tara are kind of able to keep most of the kids under control, except—” He sidled a little closer to Spike and whispered. “What’s a selkie?”
Spike grinned. “Still after you, are they? Seal demons.”
Xander’s brow furrowed. “What do they seal?”
“Not that kind of seal. Ocean seals.” When Xander stared at him blankly, Spike went on. “They’re bloody animals. Even you must have seen them on the telly. Sometimes you catch funny clips of their babies being clubbed to death, or else it’s them flapping around at Sea World blowing on horns and doing party tricks. They like humans.” He paused to consider. “Well, probably not the humans that club their babies.”
Xander shifted uneasily. “What do selkies do to humans? I mean, they’re demons. They have to do more than just clap their flippers and bark.”
A shrug. “From what I hear, they like shagging people.”
“And then what do they do? Drag them under the water until they drown? Turn them into baby seals and club them?”
“Nah. All I’ve ever heard is that they go away or stick around for more snogging. Must be pretty good at it. Some people even try to keep them from running off by hiding the seal skins they need to turn back into their real form.”
Xander put his hands to his temples. “Trying to think this through here, Spike. Do you mean that for once there’s no actual downside to my usually very inconvenient magnetism?”
Spike’s grin was only slightly malicious. “Wasn’t even sure selkies were properly demons, not until they clamped onto you. But I’d say the downside is that if you show those two your positive and negative poles, your girl will rip your head off.”
Xander thought about this for a minute. “Nah. Anya was a vengeance demon for over a thousand years. No way she wouldn’t think of something much more painful.”
Dawn came down the stairs calling cheerfully, “Okay, Xander, I’m ready to go play Life and eat pizza with you and Anya. I think I want to do that for hours and hours and hours.”
“I don’t think Buffy can hear you,” said Xander.
“Fortunately.” Spike tossed them their coats. “Now get out of here before your acting talents give the game away.”
But Dawn was still fussing with her collar when Xander was halfway down the front walk. “Spike, you really won’t tell Buffy about the Warthogs, will you?”
“Said I wouldn’t.”
“Yeah, but I know you. If she starts getting suspicious, she’ll make you tell. Only you have to promise not to.” She picked up her backpack. “It’s not just because she’s so tired and doesn’t need something else to worry about, or even because I want to see her face when we surprise her with our shares so she can pay the bills. Even if she doesn’t stop the whole tour, she won’t let me help any more, and this is the first time I’ve felt like I was really contributing.” Her voice broke a little. “Promise?”
Spike said the only thing he was capable of saying to her when she looked at him like that. “I promise, Bit.”
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/166433.html