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For people wondering about Water Hold Me Down, yes, I am still continuing with it. The Acme Heartbreak Repair Kit is a fic-a-thon entry that I've owed booster17 for a year. It's also I story that I know if I stop, I won't get back to it. At all.
It's a difficult one for me to write. I'm not used to writing versions of Xander or Buffy that are beaten down and flailing under their heavy responsibilities without that tiny spark of hope that usually fits into the way I write them. Generally, they'll both have their moments of doubt and wanting to just chuck it. They may even lose hope for a moment, but at the end of the day, I tend to write them as people who are fighting to stay hopeful despite everything. Writing them as people who are treading water is difficult for me (and painful, I might add).
It's doubly difficult writing Andrew and Kennedy as sympathetic characters. I can do it if they're minor players, but front and center like this makes it very, very hard. I think the title of this part should give you a hint on how I'm getting around Andrew's character. It's a hell of cheat, that's for sure.
This is why The Acme Heartbreak Repair Kit is unique for me. It's a horrendous challenge to write. This is in sharp contrast to No Myth, which has stalled only because it has to be slightly re-written to match up with the ending of Water Hold Me Down (nothing big, just some issues with Xander's magic senstivity needs to altered in No Myth). It's also in sharp contrast to Discovering the Truth About the Wizard of Oz, which is a story I'm chomping at the bit to get to and finish.
It doesn't help that Water keeps calling to me to finish it and it's a fight to stay away. The hold that story has over me is frightening. If The Acme Heartbreak Repair Kit wasn't so damndably difficult to write, I would've left the beginning as downpayment and continued with Water.
I'm one of those people who can only write one story at a time, I guess. I feel I owe you for your time, attention, and the fact you've friended me and that means doing putting on the best damn show I can, or in my case, telling the best story I can.
Plus, RL has to take precedence. Gotta earn money to pay the rent.
I apologize to everyone for waiting on their various stories. Barring any uncontrollable need to blog about Hurricane Rita's aftermath, I hope to finish it up within the next week or two.
On to the story.
For all previous parts, please go here.
Allarek spotted the vengeance demon in the plaza and immediately marched up to her.
“He’s mine. Go away,” she said without pre-amble.
Ondreayanka startled and she backed away. “Oh my god. He really is here, isn’t he?”
“Like you don’t know,” Allerek accused as she crossed her arms.
“Right. I’m out of here.”
“Wait!” Allarek ordered. To her surprise, Ondreayanka stayed put.
“Look, I don’t want any trouble and I sure don’t want to get mixed up with,” here the other vengeance demon’s eyes shifted around her as she dropped her voice, “him.”
“Then why are you here?” Allarek asked with a frown.
“Wish. Really powerful call,” Ondreayanka telegraphed.
Allarek wasn’t buying. “C’mon, I know you felt his energy.”
“Yeah,” Ondreayanka admitted, “but I didn’t think it could really be him. He’s not on the vengeance radar.”
“You mean he wasn’t. Now he is,” Allarek pointed out.
Ondreayanka groaned. “That can’t be good. I know that can’t be good. It’s got to be trap or something. Something to lure one of us into attacking him.”
“Is it working?” Allarek asked suspiciously.
“Are you kidding?” Ondreayanka’s voice rose with near hysteria. “You’re the only one crazy enough to go after him. Now maybe you’ll get him before he gets you. Maybe you won’t. Either way, no one I know has a death wish.”
“You better hope I get him first. Because if I don’t, you’re going to be a very different demon, maybe a really ugly demon with shit-for-brains and zero powers, except for the power of drooling.” Allarek was getting angry. She was the Chosen One. She was on a mission! Ondreayanka’s lack of appreciation for that was nothing less than insulting.
“Yeah, but I’ll be alive, at least that’s the way I look at it,” Ondreayanka said.
“Your courage in the face of danger is breathtaking,” Allarek sarcastically said.
“Coward is just another word for ‘smart demon,’” Ondreayanka sniffed.
“Fine. You’re here because you had to be. Anyone else planning to go after Har—”
“Don’t say his name!” Ondreayanka shouted.
“Fine! Be like that! Anyone else looking to steal my thunder?”
Ondreayanka snorted and rolled her eyes. “Like I said, you’re the only crazy one.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Allarek demanded.
“Look, I’d love to chat, maybe catch up, but I don’t want to be here when you start granting wishes, because I think it’s going to be bad. Real bad,” Ondreayanka said. “My plan is to not be here when it starts going down. My plan is to be on the other side of the planet if I can manage it. I don’t want to get caught in the crossfire when he does whatever he does that kills us.”
“Fine. Go,” Allarek waved her off. “And make sure to tell all the others to stay away from Rome. He’s mine.”
“Oh, you can count on it,” Ondreayanka said just before she teleported.
Allarek allowed herself a grim grin. Ondreayanka’s fear was palpable, which meant she probably could be believed when she said that no one in her social circle planned to go after Harris. However, it still left a lot of vengeance demons in the “maybe they’ll try it column.”
She turned for a final look around the plaza before teleporting out for some desperately needed re-tooling of her plan when she spied Andrew heading for one of the few open cafés in the plaza.
I don’t believe it! she thought as she took off at a run. Things are looking really up!
Andrew allowed a sigh of relief to escape when he hit the plaza. He was too tense. Tense wasn’t good, especially since Buffy on a normal day was tense enough for the ten of him. However, he couldn’t escape the feeling that things were about to spin very out of control. Hence, tense.
He still hadn’t broken the news to Buffy that she was going to have to give Caleffi a call in the next week or two and he wasn’t looking forward to her reaction. She was probably going to do it anyway since Caleffi knew all the dirt, but there was a difference between her setting it up and him pimping her out just to get out of a tight spot.
Kennedy still wasn’t found and god knows what she was up to last night. He really, really, really, really hoped she hadn’t staked or Slayed anything. He didn’t think that was too likely, since Rome was demon central going back to ancient times. Since he didn’t think Buffy and him would be that lucky, he settled on, “I hope she didn’t stake anyone important.”
Then there was the mother of all awkward scenes in Buffy’s apartment. Xander wasn’t being Xander and Buffy looked like she wanted to hide under the couch. Since Buffy didn’t want to answer his questions about why Xander wasn’t helping in the Kennedy search when he asked her last night, Andrew could only assume that they must’ve had an argument. About what, he didn’t know. All he knew was that if Xander got on that plane to England before he and Buffy had a heart-to-heart talk about whatever happened, there was a very good chance that Buffy was going to be short one friend. She couldn’t afford to lose any friends, in Andrew’s opinion. Rome was taking too much of a toll and she was going to need all the friends she could get when she finally snatched the Book of Allegrinon from Wolfram & Hart and hightailed out of the city with her ill-gotten gains.
The whole situation was enough to make him angry with Alfred Hitchcock. He watched Notorious before he came to Rome so he’d know what to do when he got here. Mr. Hitchcock completely left out the part about how people got stressed when they went undercover or what happened when the mission changed from finding out what the enemy knew to actually stealing something from the enemy. The way Mr. Hitchcock filmed it, Andrew thought it would be all about kissing Cary Grant.
Thanks to recent experience, Andrew decided that Mr. Hitchcock was a hack.
What they needed was a Q-type person who’d give them super-cool gadgets so they could break into Wolfram & Hart, steal the book of prophecies, and leave town with no one the wiser. This spying and waiting and inching ever closer to Wolfram & Hart gig Buffy got stuck with was for the birds.
Real superheroes like Buffy should have a Q working for them, Andrew decided. When I get back to England, I’ll have to type up a proposal and job description for Mr. Giles to he can get right on hiring someone away from James Bond’s organization.
He was so lost in thought on his way to the café that it took him a few moments to realize someone was shouting his name.
Andrew looked around and spotted Ally waving her arms at him as she jogged across the plaza. He couldn’t resist smiling and waving back. He really liked Ally, despite the fact she had the same name as an imaginary character. He kind of felt bad for her. A name like that tied her to a really boring television show. Good thing he didn’t hold it against her, otherwise he would’ve missed out on making any friends in Rome.
Okay, making his only friend in Rome, besides Buffy and Dawn, of course.
“Hey, Ally,” Andrew said brightly. “You’re up early.”
“Haven’t gone to bed yet,” Ally admitted as she drew up to him. “What are you doing here? I didn’t know you did early Saturday coffee runs.”
Andrew felt all his temporary good feeling flee. “I don’t. Normally. But my friend Xander’s in town.”
“He is! That’s great! I’ve heard so much about him from you!” Her smile dimmed as she got a load of his expression, “Let me guess, the reunion hasn’t been a good one,” she added sympathetically.
Andrew kicked at the pavement. “You could say that.”
“How bad?” Ally asked. “You two didn’t fight, did you?”
“What?” Andrew’s head shot up. “Oh, no. No nothing like that. His visit got messed up by Kennedy, you know, that girl I was looking for last night who took off after…um, yeah, I told you she had a fight with me…I mean, Buffy. Anyway, we were all looking for her, even Xander who doesn’t know the city at all, which is why he had to call it an early night, I guess. We didn’t find her though, but me and Buffy are going to keep looking. We’re really worried because she didn’t come home last night.”
“Maybe she found someone interesting,” Ally said. “There were a lot of hotties doing the catwalk strut last night. I think there was a convention of male models or something.”
“Ummm, Kennedy’s not so much about the men,” Andrew said.
Andrew shook his head. Ally was from a little town in Montana, so maybe lesbians weren’t something she knew about. Rome must be a huge culture shock for her.
“We’re just worried that maybe she got mixed up with shady characters,” Andrew said without thinking. He quickly added, “Or is dead in a ditch, because Buffy’s big on people being dead in ditches. That was her thing when Dawn wouldn’t call something like every 5 minutes. So, Buffy’s all, ‘She better not be dead in a ditch.’ Or maybe she is hoping that, because she’s really mad that Kennedy hasn’t called to say she was okay and being dead in a ditch would be the only excuse Kennedy could have that would make Buffy happy. Well, not happy. Happy-ish, maybe?”
“But you said they got in a fight,” Ally pointed out.
“Buffy worries anyway,” Andrew said. “Ummm, I have to go pick up some espressos over here. Wish I could stay and talk, but—”
“It’s okay,” Ally cheerfully said, “I was about to pick up some myself.”
“Great.” Andrew smiled a genuine grin. Anything to get his mind off the tense back in Buffy’s apartment.
“So, Kennedy taking off ruined your friend’s visit, hunh?” Ally asked as she fell into step next to him.
Andrew, as was his habit, quickly calculated what he couldn’t say and what he could, and how much he could talk about the things he could say. “Well, I don’t think it’s just a Kennedy thing,” he carefully said. “I think Xander and Buffy had a little argument while looking for Kennedy last night.”
“Dunno,” which was the truth, “it’s just so sad, y’know? I think Buffy needs someone to talk to, besides me I mean. And Xander is like one of her bestest friends ever. Back in Sunnydale, he was so loyal and true whenever Buffy needed him. Except for once, but that was right after he lost—I mean, got into an accident, but they had that fight because he was in pain and doped up and didn’t know what he was saying. Anyway, it’s just sad to see them on the outs like this.”
“They’ll make it up, I’m sure,” Ally said casually as they reached the café.
“I dunno about that. It looked bad,” Andrew said absently. He peered through the window to how long the line was to get to the barrista. The still-haven’t-gone-to-bed-yet crowd was crowding the counter in an effort to get the I-need-enough-caffeine-to-get-home-and-f
“Hey? Are you even listening?” Ally poked him.
“What?” Andrew startled.
“How bad are we talking about?” Ally asked.
“I dunno. It was awkward city when I left this morning. It’s just so sad.”
“When friends fight, it’s always sad,” Ally said sympathetically.
“Well, it’s sad because Xander travels a lot for his new job and he and Buffy haven’t seen each other for more than a year,” Andrew said. “Actually, maybe I don’t mean sad. Maybe tragic. I mean, they both lost people they loved more than anything last year in that earthquake. You know, the one that destroyed Sunnydale?”
Ally’s chin trembled. “Oh, that is tragic!”
“Yeah.” Andrew could feel his tear ducts getting tight as he remembered Anya. “Well, it turns out that Buffy’s long-lost love survived, but by then, it was too late because he got mixed up with Wol…I mean this girl, called Wol. I think Wol is a nickname. But Xander’s great love didn’t survive and—well, they’ve both just lost so much and I hate seeing them unhappy what with everything they don’t have anymore.”
Ally looked away and made a sound. She sounded like she was trying to stifle a sob.
“You know, I just wish they could be totally honest with each other,” Andrew said sadly as he looked at the sky. He was blinking furiously to keep back his own tears. “They really need to work through all their issues with what happened and with each other and just be honest about what’s bothering them. I really wish they would do that, even if it hurts in the short run, at least it might solve the long run things.”
Then Andrew’s cell phone rang.
“Hold on a sec,” Andrew said as he turned away to rummage through his pockets. “Maybe someone has news about Kennedy.”