Note: Thanks to my beta t_geyer for her unending patience, perseverance and support.
SECTION 3 - PARTY FEARS TWO
And what if this party fears two
The alcohol loves you while turning you blue
View it from here from closer to near
Saturday, May 18th, 2002
Xander was just about to go for the Doritos family size bag when he noticed the stoneware dish with its clear wrapping. Peeling back the plastic, he inhaled the chocolatey scent. Breaking off a piece from one of the finger-sized blocks, he raised it tentatively to his mouth. His eyes widened at the moist rich taste with a faint undercurrent of spiciness. He quickly stuffed the rest of the brownie into his mouth before looking round guiltily in case he was discovered.
It wasn't as if he was really having more than his share of the food, just that it was all in the form of brownies. Taking the dish with him, he headed toward the yard, where he found a dark corner and quickly tucked away enough of the chocolate goodies to still the rumbling in his stomach before spotting an empty plate. He decided on the grounds of being less conspicuous to transfer the remaining chocolate fingers.
Well, it seemed like a good idea until he dropped one. Flicking it guiltily across the grass in Rogue's direction, he left the stoneware dish lying on the ground. When he straightened up he had a normal plate, with half a dozen brownies on it. Okay, so it still looked slightly gluttonish, but if he didn't have anything else, it was understandable for a growing boy. Guiltily clearing his throat, he made his way back to where he could see Anya chatting away to what looked like a Fyarl demon.
A genuine smile settled on the Englishman's face at the gentle tones and he turned to enfold Tara in his arms.
"Hello." His gaze was full of concern as he searched her face. "How are you holding up?"
Tara's gaze flicked to the side, where Lily stood, before she answered. "A lot better than when we split up before. Everybody's been really supportive.
Giles, Lily asked if I would introduce you. She said she wanted to meet William's roomie."
"William's roo- Ah, Spike. You'll forgive me if it seems unusual to hear him referred to by anything other than his sobriquet."
Lily shrugged. "Marie and Clem, they call him Spike. To me, he William, Rosa, he Uncle Will. Is all same. You Watcher like Wesley, no?"
"More of a former Watcher, actually. The Council seemed to regard my departure from Sunnydale as being synonymous with my resignation. Understandable, really, I suppose. But I'm surprised you know so much about Watchers."
"No so surprising," Lily told him. "Is good to know who wants dead demon. Even if sometimes reasonable men get tied up with bad men."
"And you're sure that Wesley and I are 'reasonable' men?"
Tara's smile gave her face a gentle glow. "Maybe I should have explained when I made the introductions. Lily is empathic. If you were harbouring any hostile feelings toward her guests, she would know about it."
"Empathic?" Giles' face brightened considerably. "That's fascinating. I'm sorry, but I didn't realise. I'm afraid I didn't recognise your species. Most remiss of me, I know."
Lily chuckled at his enthusiasm. "Lily like... How William say? Mutt?" She nodded toward Rogue who was licking at something no one wanted to investigate too closely. "She many species all in one. Clem he one species more and Rosa she one more again."
"Rosa? I thought she was human?"
"Only on mother's side, so we no hold it next to her." The old demon's eyes twinkled with laughter. "Come, old legs need chair and old ears no like this boom-boom music."
Tara smiled. "I'm heading for the drinks table. Can I bring you anything?"
Giles lifted the tumbler of straight tequila he had poured from one of the bottles Spike had brought, showing that he was amply catered for. Lily smiled wickedly. "Marie, she make a mean margarita."
She hooked her arm through Giles' and bustled him toward the living room. "Is long time since this old demon have handsome young man on arm."
"And it's a long time since anyone has called me a young man."
"Pff. You no look older than forty. In home country, you barely aged for vote. Lily, she drink wine older than you." Giles blushed under the praise, but smiled just the same. Maybe this wasn't going to be such a bad evening, after all.
"I don't think I made a very good impression on your friend the cat lady, earlier," Buffy admitted as she balanced Rosa on her hip to watch Bee enter, still carrying Rupert.
Marie noticed Bee head for where Wes was lurking in a corner with a plate of food. "Well, if you want a second attempt, I'm overdue to introduce Wes to my boss. He's only meant to be popping in for an hour or so to meet Wes before he takes his wife out to dinner, and his hour must be nearly up. So, if you can keep an eye on this little terror, while I play the hostess, I'll re-introduce you to Bee."
Buffy was a little intimidated by what she could hear of Wes's conversation with the even shorter but distinctly bustier blonde as they approached.
"I thought that was in Dralius VIII , not VI but then I haven't read them in years," the blonde chatted away as if they were discussing what volume of Harry Potter they crashed Ron's dad's car instead of dusty tomes that Buffy seemed to recall even Giles had admitted he found difficult to get through.
"It's quite amazing to find someone outside the Council who's read them at all, and I don't think I've ever seen a copy in the original Latin."
"Pops wouldn't buy anything that wasn't in the original language, if he could help it. He used to say that you never knew what some idiot could have translated wrongly."
"I quite agree."
Buffy whispered to Marie. "She doesn't look the bookish type."
Marie smiled. "Bee's a lot more than she seems at first glance. Her career of choice is as an artist. She's had two or three shows at your mom's old gallery, as a matter of fact, but when things are quiet on the art front she falls back on what her father taught her and gets work as a translator. She minored in ancient languages but she can speak a bit of at least a dozen demon languages and she's fluent in another six. So long as she doesn't lose what she's meant to be translating, she does fine. She spent a whole day, one time, trying to work out where she'd left some ancient scroll and then found it in the freezer next to the Ben and Jerry's. So yep, very bright, but incredibly ditsy and she dotes on that cat to the point that any sane man runs a mile within the first two weeks."
"Promise. She only looks perfect. Word of warning. Lesley Anne Ivory is the devil and anyone trying to paint or otherwise reproduce any artwork, other than photographs, of any feline is doomed by their human nature to produce a flawed product which insults said felines."
Buffy looked at Marie in amazement and then thought of the hideous piece of so-called art that Willow had put up on the once tasteful walls of her mother's bedroom. Maybe she had a point, but just the same it did sound a bit extreme. "Again, I say, seriously?"
Marie nodded and guided Buffy across to meet the erstwhile artist again. "Bee, I hate to do it, but I need to borrow Wes and take him to meet Walter before he leaves. Buffy says you've already met. Maybe you can find something to chat about for a while."
"That's okay. I was just keeping him warm for you, and possibly talking my way into being able to make the rent on time next month, without the letter to Pop."
"Hi." Buffy's gaze slipped to her tan high heels. "I kinda wanted to apologise if I came across as some sort of. rhymes with witch." she glanced at Rosa. "I'm not normally like that, at least not with strangers. It just kinda caught me off-guard when you said your name was Bee, but that's kind of a long story and not for small ears, so maybe you'll let me off if I save it for another time."
"Mommy says little jugs have big ears," Rosa pointed out, wiggling hers in a way Buffy found adorable.
"And your mommy's right, but that's not what Buffy meant," Bee pointed out with a smile. "How about we start from fresh? I'm Bee."
"And I'm Buffy, nice to meet you. Rosa said the cutie on your shoulder's called Rupert."
"Hon, can we go sit on that bench over there? I'm feelin' kinda tired."
"Sweetie, I was in the middle of talking to Kalish and his wife." She indicated a large demon whose skin reminded Xander of a grass snake, and his wife who had hidden behind her husband for almost the entire duration of the discussion. "He was telling me how he plays the futures market."
"D'you mind?" he asked the couple. "Say, why don't you two have the bench? I'll take the grass. I bet I can still sit cross-legged. I used to be able to do the lotus-position but I'm not so sure on that one any more."
Anya glanced suspiciously from her suddenly affable husband to the plate he had left sitting on a nearby table. While her companions were watching Xander she pressed her finger down on one of the crumbs and transferred it to her mouth, confirming her suspicions.
"Kalish, I'm really sorry, but I just realised we haven't said 'hi' to the guest of honour, yet. We really must go find him."
She looped an arm through Xander's and led him into the kitchen. "Xander, how many of those brownies did you eat?"
"Just a few. honest."
"Xander, even when I was human the first time, I knew if a man put honest at the end of a sentence he was lying. I know how long a batch of muffins last in our apartment, or a box of doughnuts. How many did you eat?"
"I didn't have all of them. It's just they were sort of more-ish, and that Fyarl guy he had one when I brought them out and Dawn's dog had one?"
"You gave one to the dog?"
"Well, more sort of dropped it, but it's just a brownie. Maybe not best nutritional content, but it's not as if it's going to hurt."
"It might hurt you, if that dog gets sick in Spike's car. You do realise that those brownies had marijuana in?"
"Wh- If they had dope in I'd be stoned."
"Well, gee, I guess it's normal for you to want to go sleepy-bye at half past eight and for you to treat demons like real people."
Xander held his hand up in front of his face and marvelled at how far away his fingers seemed. "Hey, I think maybe I'm just a teeny bit stoned."
"So I ask again, how many brownies did you have?"
"All of them. Well, except the one that demon had and the one the dog got." Anya rolled her eyes and dragged him into the main room behind her.
"Clem, can you baby-sit?" she asked, wrapping Xander's arm around the demon's shoulders. She spotted a dish with some familiar looking crumbs on the buffet table and double-checked, but the crumbs that were all that was left in that dish tasted of the finest cocoa and nothing more.
"Say, Clem," Xander asked. "Did I ever tell you about the visions I saw that day me and Anya were meant to get married? Anya had a daughter and she had ears just like Rosa. D'you like Anya, Clem? 'Cause it'd be real good to know that if something happened to me there'd be someone around to look after her and you seem like a pretty cool sort of guy, I mean demon, but that's not exactly your fault exactly. It's not like you chose to be a demon, and you seem like a decent guy, cheating at poker, not withstanding. So what about it? If I buy it in the next apocalypse, will you see Anya has everything she needs? I mean. I got insurance. I got boatloads of insurance so it's not like the cash thing would be a problem but she needs a good guy to be there for her. What d'you say, dude?"
"Marie, can we talk for a second?" Anya pulled the girl away from the group of people including Wes, her boss and his wife.
"Marie, were you serving dope brownies?" Anya whispered as soon as they were out of range of the DA's hearing.
"No, well, I mean Bee brought some, but we hid them in one of the kitchen cupboards where the kids couldn't get them. Bee might have told a few people where to find them, but it's not like they were out where people could just eat them without knowing what they were."
"Not unless they were going through your cupboards instead of going to the buffet table like any civilised guest. Yet again, I have to apologise for Xander. I don't suppose you've got any idea how much might have been in them."
Marie shrugged. "You'd really have to ask Bee. Is he going to be alright?"
"Not when I finish with him," Anya replied.
"Bee, say someone ate all the brownies that were in the kitchen cupboard, what's the worst that could happen?" Anya asked, careful not to word the question so that Rosa would understand.
"This isn't a rhetorical question, is it?" The platinum blonde sighed and set Rupert down on the floor.
"Assuming they didn't have any sort of allergic reaction, they'd probably just sleep for a day or so straight and then wake up with the mother of all hangovers, but especially if they've been mixing it with booze it's probably best to get them to throw up as much as possible and then get them home to sleep it off, but someone's going to have to keep a watch on them to make sure they don't barf in their sleep or anything and the allergic reaction, always a possibility. If they have any sort of problems, you'll have to take them to a hospital."
"And if they gave one to a dog, say?"
Buffy's ears pricked up.
"One the size of the one in the back yard by any chance?" Bee asked.
"That would be the one."
"You'd probably end up with a very mellow pooch. There shouldn't be enough in one to have much effect on something that size, again barring allergic reactions."
Buffy looked at the little girl in her arms. "Rosa, honey, why don't you go look for your Uncle Will, he must be in the yard, and tell him I said he should look after you for a little bit. I think I need to talk to Bee and Anya about grown up things." As soon as the little girl scooted off through the kitchen, Buffy turned to Anya. "What exactly has Xander been feeding to our dog?"
"He got our dog stoned! I'm going to kill him!" Buffy hissed so that her voice wouldn't carry beyond their circle, forgetting, of course, the sharp hearing of the various demons in the crowd.
"Right now, I doubt he'd notice. Do you think Spike would give him a lift home to sleep it off?"
"Once he finds out about Rogue, I sorta doubt it, but you're in luck seeing as how he gave his car keys to Brandon for the night. If we're lucky you might be able to get him in the car before Spike knows anything's going on. Bee, d'you think you could go fetch Brandon from the back yard? Teen, all in black, spiked hair, black nail varnish, green eyes."
"I remember. Little sis's boyfriend, right?"
It took about twenty minutes for Anya and Buffy to get Xander into the car and take him home. Buffy left Anya preparing a solution of lukewarm water and salt, once they had managed with the help of slayer strength to get him into bed. Buffy couldn't quite manage to hold Xander and the clutch purse where she'd tucked away the orbs at the same time.
"I'll call later, okay, and see if you need anything," Buffy offered.
"I'll be fine, but thanks. You best get that car back before Spike realises it's missing and check on the pooch."
Rupert eyed Rogue disdainfully from just outside the range of her tether. The big mutt was decidedly less excitable than earlier and her tail swished softly as the cat moved closer. After several minutes, the cat finally deigned to come close enough for canine and feline noses to almost meet. The dog's tail wagged faster and faster.
Buffy had barely got back to the party, only to discover the incongruous scene of Rogue and the cat that had been "rescued" from her curled up in a huge, sleeping ball of grey and brown fur. She was just making her way over to speak to Dawn, when Rosa came running up to her. "Auntie Buffy, I checked everywhere, but I can't find Unker Will. He's not in the yard or in grandma's apartment or our apartment."
Buffy tried to concentrate on the vampire, willing him to be nearby. It suddenly struck her with chilling clarity that the pain in her gut was still a day or two early to be the onset of PMS.
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