- 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
Disclaimer: All characters are the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, etc. Only the lame plots and dialogue herein are mine.
Notes: Because I’m a creature of habit, this is set in the same silly ‘verse as Cubed and What’s in a Name, my previous stories. It can be read as a standalone, especially as none of the characters seem to have learned much from what happened in the other two fics. In this very AU version of S6, everyone gets along, at least until someone gets a really nifty notion. This is clocking in at around 23,000 words before the final edits. That’s much longer than I’d planned, but these things happen.
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.
My cable and broadband have been down for several days, and although they’re working at the moment, I’ve been warned of continued “intermittent outages.” (It seems they tried to fix something that wasn’t broken, and they sound very bewildered about the results.) But I’ll get this posted even if I have to take the desperate step of going to Panera and drinking mochas to do it.
(I checked my first post on seasonal_spuffy last year, and my internet had gone down that morning too! At least my bad luck is consistent.)
Prologue: Money Woes and Cunning Plans
It was so late on a moonless night that it was nearly morning. In Sunnydale, even the evil things that loved the darkness had trudged back to their lairs, exhausted either from creating mayhem or running away from the Slayer’s uncomfortably effective efforts to stop them.
The main street downtown, rarely a site of bustling activity even during the day, was traveled only by a scruffy and nervous vampire on his way home after stopping by the butcher shop for a couple of pints.
In a more suburban neighborhood, a small, very dirty demon checked one last garbage can and was rewarded with the sight of a nice, juicy rat. He lifted a manhole cover and slipped into the sewers, munching on his catch as he went.
On the lawns of Revello Drive, only a family of rabbits was on the move, and, since Anya Christina Emanuella Jenkins wasn’t present, they neither made nor inspired any sounds.
Downstairs in number 1630, nothing was stirring but a lone cockroach, who surveyed an empty kitchen cabinet irritably and decided that the time had come to move next door with the rest of his two million relatives.
In two of the upstairs bedrooms, witches and a Key slept uneasily, pillows pulled around their ears to drown out the noise from the third bedroom.
In the Slayer’s private lair, there were moans punctuated by fits of giggles, occasional hoarse words of encouragement, a few gasps, and a lascivious laugh. At last, two voices harmonized in a series of sighs. Then silence reigned there as well.
For about two minutes.
Buffy rolled over on her back and said, before she thought better of it, “That didn’t work.”
The reaction was as indignant as she should have expected. “What do you mean it didn’t work? You screamed twice, bit me once, and almost broke my spine there at the end. And since when do you fake it? If you don’t get what you want, you complain and start another round.”
“Not the sex, Mr. Bundle of Insecurities! The sex was great.” She pulled a sheet around herself. “I’m trying to stop thinking about the bills.”
“I am not insecure! And are you saying that sex with me is nothing but a distraction?” His tone of righteous indignation contrasted with his bed hair. Two little tufts were sticking up, just like horns. At another time, she might have found that endearing.
Not the reaction I was looking for. “So you finally figured it out!”
He looked so crestfallen she laughed in spite of herself and sat up to give him a quick kiss. “Really, Spike, it’s not only a distraction. It just—just works as a distraction in addition to its other advantages.”
“Advantages?” His eyes begged for details.
Men. Not only does every single one alive want reassurance that he’s the best ever, “oh my god, my god, the world moved”, the dead ones do too. “Considerable advantages.” He was still watching her anxiously. “Considerable, exciting, and very satisfying advantages.”
“Well, that’s all right then.” He kissed her back, and brushed a strand of hair away from her forehead. His expression was still uncertain, but his next words showed that his ego had been repaired, or at least patched. “You’ve been worried about money for a long time, pet. Why so glum just now? You haven’t even been fired for three weeks.”
“I know, but it was such a mistake to try an office job again. Spike, all I do is make deliveries. That wasn’t even supposed to be the job when I started. I think they just want to keep me out of the office, even though I told them I know now what happens if you open all the filing cabinet doors at once and I won’t do it again. They won’t even trust me with the truck. I have to deliver all the packages by foot.” She paused, remembering a particularly uncomfortable incident. “At least, I borrowed Willow’s old bike but that didn’t exactly work out.”
He pulled her back down on the bed and held her against his chest. “I didn’t hear about that.”
She could already hear a quiver of laughter in his voice. I didn’t mean to mention that. “I made Willow pinky-swear not to tell anyone, even Tara. And promised her I’d buy her a new bike. Sometime.”
His voice was shaking a little, and she was pretty sure it wasn’t with sympathy. “So the famous Slayer driving skills aren’t limited to internal combustion engines?”
She turned to glare at him. “Oh, yeah? And just how many times have you destroyed the Welcome to Sunnydale sign?”
He pretended to consider this seriously before answering. “None, recently.”
“Only because they stopped putting it back up!” Then the little burst of energy she’d found to snark back at him ran out, and she lay back to stare at the ceiling.
He pulled her back into his arms and kissed her forehead gently.
Oh, yeah, this is the routine. First he tries to tease me out of being Depresso-Buffy, and if that doesn’t work, he starts with the cuddle-and-soothe.
Okay, so cuddle and soothe has its advantages. She swallowed hard and said into his chest, “I’m scared this is the month.”
“Which month?” His hand was stroking her hair.
“The month when I can’t get near enough to being caught up on the mortgage to stop the foreclosure and they take the house. The month when they shut off the utilities.” She held on to him tighter. “The month when they take Dawn away.”
His arms tightened too. “Not going to happen, love. I won’t let it. They’re not taking the Little Bit.”
“You can’t stop it, Spike. Not without causing so much fuss that everything will be ruined anyway. And I’m the Slayer. I’m supposed to be here in Sunnydale, not on the run with Dawn with pictures of her on milk cartons and me in the post offices.”
“I can get you money.” His voice was thoughtful.
Oh, no. The last thing I want him to do is start thinking up plans. “You’ve been fired by more places than I have, and I thought you’d run out of jobs you could do in the shade?”
“Well, yeah, there’s nothing in the want ads that I haven’t tried yet, but there are other ways to lay your hands on cash.”
She pulled herself up to a half-sitting position. “No way, Spike. You are not going to go off and try something stupid and probably illegal. Saving your ass when your crazy scheme goes wrong is not the kind of distraction I need. I’ll take care of this.”
He reached up a finger and touched her cheek, wiping away the single tear resting there. “Didn’t know you were so worried, love. Is this why you’ve been a perpetual motion machine the past few weeks? Working extra hours, doing double patrols, tripling the efforts to find out just how many times I can get it up in one night?”
“Yeah. Every time I slow down, I get this nasty feeling and all I can think about is the bank balance I don’t have.”
He gave a massive sigh. “It’s back to the coalmines for me, then.” He flicked on the light, got out of bed and went over to her closet. “What do you say to breaking out the toy box?”
She admired his naked butt as he reached up to the shelf to pull down a box that she had labeled “cleaning supplies” in hopes that it would shift even curious Dawn’s brain into avoidance mode.
Oh, yes. We’ve reached the third step in Spike’s console Buffy routine.
“Got it.” He turned around, box in hand, smirk on face.
“Okay, I’m calling the meeting to order!” Anya sat down at the dining room table in Buffy’s house, opening a briefcase and spreading papers out in front of her. It was clear she meant business because she was wearing a business suit. Anya was very literal when it came to symbolism.
“Uh, Buffy’s not here.” said Willow, “Don’t we need her?”
“She’s at work,” said Anya. “Which is why we’re meeting now. This isn’t a kill-the-evildoers meeting.”
“No,” agreed Xander, sitting down next to Anya. “My girl has more of a scam-the evildoers idea.”
Dawn looked in from kitchen, where she was pouring herself some orange juice and spreading cream cheese on a bagel. “You mean, like, scam them out of money?” She sounded interested in something besides food for the first time since Xander and Anya had shown up bearing provisions.
“Of course.” Anya shuffled her papers impatiently. “I have this really great idea. And we need to do it soon, before Giles gets back from his visit to the Council and says we can’t.”
Tara and Willow both looked uneasy at this, but they sat down at the table opposite Xander and Anya.
Before Anya could go on, Spike wandered into the room. He was in his bare feet, his hair was uncombed, and he was wearing a pair of jeans and a red shirt that he hadn’t bothered to button. As he passed the Scoobies on his way to the kitchen, he asked between yawns, “What are you lot plotting?”
“I don’t know yet,” said Dawn, picking her glass up off the counter. “But they brought groceries, so be nice. And whatever Anya’s crazy plan is, you can’t tell Buffy.”
“Did they bring any blood? Besides what’s in their veins, I mean.”
“Nope. We’re out.”
“Bugger.” Spike stuck his head in the fridge anyway and started scrounging.
Dawn joined the others in the dining room. “So, what’s the scam?” she demanded.
Anya’s businesslike attitude gave way to enthusiasm. “We’re going to organize and run a tour of the town!”
“What, in Sunnydale?” Spike’s bark of laughter sounded from the kitchen. “The only sights here are the blackened shell of the old high school, the blackened shell of the old factory, the blackened shell of the Initiative, and a few other blackened shells.”
“Be fair, Spike,” said Dawn. “Most of the Initiative is filled in with cement, not blackened. And don’t eat all the swiss cheese. I have to make lunch for school tomorrow, and there’s no grocery money.”
“That’s exactly what I want to show them,” said Anya firmly. “Not the swiss cheese, the blackened shells. You see, I’ve found out that there’s a school group that’s been looking for a good location for this year’s class trip. They’ve already been to Krakatoa, the spot where Bluebeard was hanged, the Abbey of Thelema, Vlad the Impaler’s and Elizabeth Bathory’s castles. You know. The usual places. This year, they were supposed to go on a tour to Russia to see Rasputin’s deathplace, Tunguska, and some other spots, but I saw a post on the Demonic Rants forum about the trip being cancelled at the last minute because the humans organizing it were eaten by werewolves.” She paused, frowning. “Or maybe they were found killed execution-style. Something like that, anyway. ”
“Uh, what kind of school is this?” asked Willow uneasily.
“A demon school, of course,” said Anya.
“So it’s like Hogwarts, sort of?” Dawn was peeking at Anya’s papers. “I mean, if it was all Slytherin and no Gryffindor?”
“Well, yeah,” admitted Anya. “And if the student body had more fangs, scales and claws.”
“More Warthogs than Hogwarts, huh?” said Willow.
“All Slytherin doesn’t sound good.” Tara looked nervous.
“I don’t know. The story would be a total loss without old Snape.” Spike emerged from the kitchen with a huge sandwich and a beer.
Xander glared at Spike as he sat down at the head of the table. “How come everyone else here, including moocher vampires who are eating all the food I provided out of the goodness of my heart, and drinking the last bottle of the beer I brought over on movie night, knows what we’re talking about and I don’t? What’s Hogwarts?”
Anya patted his hand. “It’s in some books, honey. Don’t worry about it.”
“Besides, there’s going to be a movie, so you’ll get caught up.” Dawn sat down opposite Spike. “Beer for breakfast?”
“There wasn’t any coffee. And beer does just as well when you’re building up your strength for a long day on the couch watching the telly.” Spike picked up his sandwich. “So, you’re planning to bring a bunch of wankers going for their Master of Arcane Arts to town? I see a flaw in this cunning plan.”
Anya shook her head. “They’re not really dangerous. We don’t have to worry about them making any more blackened shells around here.”
“Good demons?” asked Tara hopefully.
“Well, no, I wouldn’t go so far as to say ‘good.’ But they’re no worse than, say, a bunch of human fraternity boys.”
“That bad, eh?” asked Spike.
“Seriously,” said Xander. “I’ve been inside of one of those fraternities, and its bowels were more than a little hellish.”
“Well, less dangerous, then.” Anya fussed with her papers. “They’re strictly small-time evil. Some of them are just practical jokers. Even the worst ones co-exist with your basic human felons, and the more educated they are, the less likely they are to be involved in anything more than creating illusions to help accountants pretend they bought assets with company money instead of putting it in a bank in the Cayman Islands under their own names. Or they might use a spell to find out what kind of bribe will sway a congressman. Do you know how many of those guys will sell their souls for something as cheap as a golf trip? No lobbyist worth his salt wants to buy someone a yacht when they can get the same results by giving him a couple of tickets to a basketball game.”
“Still, I think we’re in a pretty gray area here,” said Willow.
Dawn snorted. “Come on, guys. You’re sitting at a table with a vampire. How much grayer do we need to get?”
“Hey!” Spike’s protest was muffled by ham and cheese on rye.
“Besides, Buffy and I really need the money.”
“Dawnster’s got a point,” said Xander. “Besides, we’ll be scamming these guys out of their ill-earned cash. There’s got to be an upside to that.”
Anya decided it was time for the hard sell. “And we have two pretty good witches who can create protection spells in case they try something nasty on us, like not paying the bill.” She looked from Willow to Tara. “Unless you’re really happy about all those student loans you owe and don’t want a cut.”
There was a short pause.
“Okay,” said Willow, “as long as we make it part of the contract that there will be no opening of the Hellmouth or initiating apocalypses.”
Even Tara was wavering. “I suppose we could donate some of what we earn to charity. And help out Buffy.”
“Sure!” agreed Anya with enthusiasm. “If we pull this off, I’ll need a good tax deduction next year.” She grabbed a pen. “Okay, let’s work out the itinerary. I want them to make lots of visits to the Magic Box to buy souvenirs. I wonder how fast I can get some of those tacky refrigerator magnets and t-shirts made up saying, ‘My friend went to the Hellmouth and all I got was this cheap, crappy thing?’ You know, stuff like that.”
“There’s a pretty spot just outside of town that’s got great positive psychic energy for spell-casting,” volunteered Tara.
Anya wrinkled her nose. “I’m not sure they’ll care about good vibrations. Bad vibrations are going to be more their style. But we can make it an option anyway, and charge them extra if they decide to go.”
“There’s a Gora demon nesting in one of the tunnels,” said Dawn. “I don’t think she’ll attack a tour group if they don’t try to steal her eggs.”
“Oooh!” Xander contributed excitedly, “I wonder if they still have those possessed hyenas at the zoo?”
“I heard there’s a haunting on Amity Circle.” Willow was already flipping through the pages of a book. “I’ll check it out, and if it’s real and not too freaky, they can watch Tara and me exorcise the ghost. I know I saw a spell for that the other day.”
“Now, that’s the kind of thinking we need.” Anya was writing down suggestions as fast as they were thrown at her. “Spike, we’ll set up a tour of your crypt, so you need to do some serious housekeeping. The lair of a real Aurelian vampire should be a hit. Just don’t mention the chip while they’re there. It won’t give the right impression if they know you can’t bite anyone.”
Spike had demolished his sandwich and was finishing up his beer. “You lot are forgetting something. A very important something.”
“What’s that?” asked Dawn.
“Your sister. How do you think she’ll react to this little scheme?”
Dawn’s face fell. “Oh, damn. She’ll hate it. Sleep with vampires, yes. Let us give a few harmless demons a little tour, no way.”
Anya wasn’t going to let her plan be ruined by one inconvenient Slayer. “But, we’ll make money. Buffy wants money, she always says so. Why won’t she let us make some?”
Willow was siding with Spike. “I don’t know, Anya. Buffy’s really cranky lately about having to patrol the Hellmouth when she has to hold down a regular job too. I can’t imagine how she’ll react if we do something that increases the demon population.”
“I can,” said Spike. But he looked thoughtful. He met Dawn’s eyes, and the two of them engaged in a brief, silent conversation.
Xander saw Anya’s disappointed face and rushed in with reassurance. “Come on, guys! It’s only going to be a few days. We can keep Buffy out of the way until these warty hog characters are gone. Spike, you’ll keep her busy, right?”
Anya bounced in her chair. “That’s right. Spike, you need to keep Buffy fighting and having lots of sex so that we can make lots and lots of money.”
Spike raised one eyebrow. “Depends. What’s my cut?”
Anya looked around the table. “Same as the others. One-seventh of the profits.”
Spike’s gaze followed hers. “I can count too, pet. There are only six of us.”
“I get double for being the chief organizer, and for having the idea in the first place.”
“You’ll also get your paws on Harris’ share, and you know he’s going to be bloody useless.”
“Hey!” objected Xander, only to be ignored as Anya and Spike got down to haggling in earnest.
“One-seventh, but I’ll pay you a flat fee if you also conduct a tour of the sewers.”
“Got to be worth more than that. I know those cesspits, but you lot get lost every time you hide from something down there…”
Deciding her financial future was in competent hands, Dawn went back to the kitchen to toast another bagel.
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/166258.html