Title: Fireside Chat
The reverend peered over his steepled fingers.
“Would you know total depravity if it looked you in the eye?” the stranger asked, his face obscured by a curtain of hair.
“Depravity is everywhere in these wicked times.”
“And no salvation?”
The book-lined walls absorbed the light of the single, guttering candle. How had he never noticed the dimness before? “The wicked have no desire for God. They shall be satisfied in their end.”
“Tell me, are you one of the Elect?”
The shadows grew as the man stood. “I would not presume to know.”
Angelus smiled. “Let us find out.”
Buffy pulled herself to her feet using the coffee table for support. Turning, she gave Joyce a moist, toothy grin and pushed off under her proud and watchful eye. Buffy made her way forward awkwardly and squealed with delight as Joyce caught her in her outstretched arms and lifted her high.
"Good girl Buffy! You can walk now!" Joyce sang.
Buffy gurgled back the garbled response of a one year old and waved her hands.
"I wish your daddy had been here to see it," She added softly.
Buffy blew a raspberry and fiddled with the beads of Joyce's necklace.
Title: Origin Story
“Every civilization has their origin story…”
I really like the moisturizer mom got at Origins last week. Is my skin dry?
Funny, Mrs. Steinberg never mentioned vampires in Torah school.
Batman. Now he had a great origin story. He didn’t have superpowers. He had money.
I should moisturize more. I think it’s the vamp dust.
But Mr. Giles said that demons are older than humanity.
If I had money, I could be Batman.
Robin would be cool, too.
I’ll bet Mrs. Stenberg was a demon.
I’ll be the first slayer old enough to get crow’s feet—only without the crow’s feet.
Title: You're It
Xander felt a tug on his shirt.
“Know what a fag tag is for, Harris?” Larry asked, slamming him into the locker bay.
Xander glanced at the smug faces of his humiliators.
Larry was abruptly pulled off him by ninety-eight pounds of extremely aggravated Slayer. Xander’s ears reddened as she threatened the entire football team’s offensive line.
Years later, it didn’t bother him anymore when Buffy had to rescue him.
But sometimes when he kissed Spike, he twisted his finger in the loop of fabric on the back of his shirt and he still wondered what the tag was for.
Title: Put A Ring On It
Angel knew from temptation.
As a young boy in Ireland, most Sundays were spent listening to diatribes against it. Of course, he hardly needed tempting into the bosom of a waiting wench or the bottom of a pint of ale. He needed no cajoling where Darla was concerned – and spent two lifetimes pursuing his every impulse. His guilty soul expended great effort keeping his third lifetime temptation free, as well. He was in L.A. Buffy wasn’t.
He knew temptation when he saw it, glittering on his finger in the noonday sun.
He just didn’t expect it to be so…shiny.
Title: One Man’s Trash
The one wonky wheel on the cart stuck on a rock. The leavings of one of those big roll-away dumpsters was piled up haphazardly beside him. Mr. Garfield’s kids apparently hadn’t cared much for vintage furniture. Pity really. Mrs. Garfield must have been the type to cover her things in plastic and such. Spike threw a rug beside the mannequin parts in the cart. Yuppie ingrates. His mother had a banquet lamp like that one.
“What are you doing here, Spike?”
Reclaiming the lost treasures of a disposable culture.
“What do you think I'm doing? I'm scavenging, ain't I?”
Title: Every Night I Save You
There was nothing Buffy couldn’t do. The central tenant of Xander’s life. She couldn’t be kept down, couldn’t be defeated. School, boyfriends, demons, Watchers, vamps, magic, nothing could diminish her. Buffy couldn’t be broken. When Xander felt like he was going to shatter into a million pieces, that thought kept him together through situations that should have had him pissing himself in fear.
So Buffy couldn’t be dead. That obscene fall from the tower was just wrong. It just wasn’t possible.
Every night Xander dreams.
Buffy steps to the edge of the platform, spreads her arms, and takes flight.
Title: Found Art
Dawn found it when she was cleaning out her desk drawer over the summer looking for the pot of blueberry lip balm she’d got at the mall with Melinda when she’d got on that acne medication that made her shed skin like some gross kind of demon and had to stop and get lotion.
There it was, under a bunch of paperclips, gum wrappers and a broken pencil.
Dawn Summers has my permission to attend the class picnic on April 12th.
Dawn’s finger traced Buffy’s loopy signature.
She tacked it on the wall next to her picture.
People told Tara their secrets because she was quiet and seemed apt to keep them. She never resented being Mother Confessor to the Scoobies. She was the first to know when Dawn fell behind in school. When Xander had hurt his knee at work but still went out slaying. When Giles was worried. When Anya was scared. By the time she found out about Buffy and Spike it was almost par for the course. But when magic became something corrupting, when she couldn’t trust Willow anymore, when it was time to say goodbye, she felt like the last to know.
Title: Immortality Is No Excuse To Let Yourself Go
Catching Spike “exercising” made Xander realize something. No one had ever seen Spike exercise. He claimed he got plenty fighting demons, but Xander knew from experience it wasn’t a great workout. It didn’t explain Spike’s compact but muscular physique, anyway.
So when he replaced the windows in the spin studio and saw Spike and twenty nineteen-year-old girls astride stationary bikes, it made a lot of sense. It also made Spike fall off his bike.
“Let’s never talk about this,” Spike suggested as they walked out.
Xander smirked and snapped the back of Spike’s spandex shorts. Spike yelped.
“Not a chance.”
Title: Boys Don’t Cry
“I spent a hundred years trying to come to terms with infinite remorse. You spent 3 weeks moaning in a basement, and then you were fine!”
It wasn’t necessarily so, Spike reflected.
Xander found Spike face down in the nest of blankets in his closet. A musty funk surrounded him and he caught Xander’s noises of disgust as he finally placed what he heard coming in the door.
“You’re listening to The Cure?”
Spike shot him a baleful look.
“Okay, this has gone on long enough. Come on, we’re going out.”
Healing took three weeks, two pool games, and Xander.
Title: Baby Likes To Play
A Doll’s House
Childhood didn’t exist in the 1860s. Infancy stretched the first five years of life, after which a young gentleman was declared precisely that and shipped off to whichever public school would have him. Spike marveled at Dru’s child-like nature, and even found a bit of his own when she bade him cosset her dolls. The simple play absorbed and soothed him utterly. He delighted in the fanciful stories she’d spin around Miss Edith. The dolls lay neglected when Angelus returned and Spike was deeply resentful. Angelus didn’t stay, of course, but Dru didn’t want to play with him any more.
Valley of the Dolls
At thirteen Dawn Summers was too old to be playing with dolls, but she still took great pride in showing Spike her collection of Barbies. He handled them reverently as she related the occasions she acquired them—birthdays, holidays, missed visits with her father. When Buffy died, Dawn found doll sized rock tee-shirts and safety pin bedecked plaid skirts on her bed. They dyed all the blond heads with Manic Panic and styled them into Mohawks. After Buffy returned, the dolls lived at the crypt with him.
The night he left for Africa, Dawn took her toys and went home.
Real American Hero
Xander opened the closet door to find Spike exploring a box of his toys. “He was my cousin’s,” Xander explained, prying the G.I. Joe gently from Spike’s hand. “Kung-fu grip, of course. But this,” he explained, turning the figure to show a small lever on the back of his head, “Is why he’s really special.” Xander flicked the switch and the eyes moved. He stood Joe on the shelf above Spike’s bed. “He’ll watch out for you.” Pulling a battered game of Battleship from the box he almost missed Spike’s quiet “Thank you.”
Xander held out the game. “Wanna play?”
Title: Arcade Fire
It wasn’t going to work with the Immortal. Bringing her to the Galleria in Milan was magnificent. The designers, the people watching, the cafes…
But he just didn’t get it. Why she would happily have traded an espresso in the Arcade for mochas at the Sunnydale Mall with her best friends.
Prada and Gucci were nice. But it was the Italian Happy Meal toys she treasured, tucked safely in her Louis Vuitton satchel until she could give them to Willow and Xander.
He scoffed at the cheap, plastic toys. He couldn’t understand her friends.
He could never truly love her.
Title: And He Shall Appear
He really should have known better than to mention Harris to Non.
Speak of the bloody devil...
“This a rescue, then?”
“All part of the service.” Xander freed him with a pair of bolt cutters then bent over and lifted him into his arms.
Spike doubted he had the strength to walk but, “Don’t have to carry me like a bloody damsel in distress, Harris.”
Xander smiled enigmatically and gently deposited him in the back of the humvee, slipping in beside him. “All part of the service.”
And then Spike was being kissed thoroughly.
Xander smiled. “That’s extra.”
Title: Gift of the Hair Guy
It wasn’t his best idea.
“Angel, oh my God, did you…did you frost your tips?”
Angel swallowed. “I just thought, you know, well, Andrew said you were done baking and—”
“You thought I had a yen for a Backstreet Boy circa 1999?”
“I thought maybe you’d like me better if I looked more like—”
“For the love of God don’t finish that sentence.”
Angel frowned. “I’ll dye it back.”
Buffy smiled coyly. “Not your best date idea ever, but at least I get to play with your hair.”
Angel grinned and let Buffy drag him off in search of Clairol.
Nothing that came after was quite as good, they both agreed. Xander didn’t much care for Spike’s prodigious New York Dolls collection and Spike would sooner stick a thumb through his own eye than endure four hours of Hank Williams. Pearl Jam, a birthday present from Jesse, was a good compromise. They both agreed Eddie Vedder was a tool, a topic that carried them from LA to Napa. It played three times. They both sang along with “Even Flow”. No one talked about Angel dusting. In the pre-dawn hours, Spike thanked him for that. Xander smiled and cranked up “Alive”.
Title: Open On Sunday
Prompt: Open and/or Sunday
California never enacted blue laws. Irony therefore dictated that Xander learn about them when his block cracked in Minneapolis and he could neither replace his piece-of-shit Taurus, nor drown his sorrows over said loss.
He was fairly sure blue laws didn’t apply to demon bars. He was dead certain than in a city of half a million people and little direct sunlight six months out of the year there would be a demon bar.
It was Spike’s, if the neon was to be believed. Open On Sunday! proclaimed the cheerful little sign on the door.
It was good enough.
Xander’s tour of the Northland was heavy on darkness, cold and vamps blowing satisfyingly in the breeze. It was light on firefights, and terrified young girls who could snap him like a twig and spoke not a word of English.
Between the fifth round and waking up in Spike’s bed the next morning, they’d talked about children shriveled with dehydration and disease, helping your mate stuff his guts back in his body in the pouring rain, and the small mercy of everything they never saw.
With Sunday afternoon’s snowfall insulating their fragile companionship, they found peace in each other’s arms.
Title: Lay It On The Line
Xander didn’t understand why Spike refused to take him anywhere in London. Finally, Spike confessed. “You won’t queue properly.”
This confused Xander. “Spike, isn’t budging in line like, page one in the evil handbook?”
Spike shook his head. “Not the point, luv. There’s proper evil an’ then there’s just…wrong!”
Dawn, who had taken to the queuing culture of Britain with immediate aplomb, offered Spike her understanding. “Was Xander cutting in line at Boots again?”
Spike met her sympathetic gaze with frank horror. “Oh, love, you don’t know the half of it,” he suggested in grave tones. “Harris is an escalefter.”
Title: Stars and Crosses
Theirs was a forbidden love. They were opposites in every way that counted, but drawn to each other in every way that mattered. Where she was verbose he was eloquently taciturn. She was evil—chaotically neutral at best. He had been cradled in the very bosom of the earthly force of good. Their eyes met glassily across the tea table, their plates untouched. The pot remained unpoured, captivated as they were. Her porcelain skin—his porcine snout. But it could never be. He was plush; she was bisque. It would cause a scandal in their circle, and besides, they lacked independent mobility.
Title: These Happy Golden Years
He’d heard a great many things sitting on the shelf as he was wont to do, though he didn’t always understand them because his head was mostly filled with lofted polyester fibers. Feigenbaum, in his more didactic moods surmised it was the quality of his organic cotton fill which had enabled him to retain so many of his lady companion’s confidences over the years. Mr. Gordo didn’t know anything about that, but as he admired his beloved mistress’s shining, silver hair, he thought he remembered a bit of poetry, and sadly understood. Nothing gold can stay…