Ahhhh, this part has it all!
Blatant OOC actions by canon characters! Inconsistent characterization of all characters involved! Bad dialogue! Random praise for a too-too precious OC! Meaningless violence. CAPSLOCS OF RAGE! And, of course, the DREADED MARY SUE!
However will our heroes get out of this one? Will Zander finally discover that Inez is truly the 1 4 him?!111!!1 Will there be kiss-y face before this part is over? But most importantly...will Faith defeat the threat posed by June and Louise to her best friend status?
i kant tel u. u haf 2 reed 2 find out. Heeeeeee!1!1!!!!!~
Flames are welcome. Threats of violence against the author eagerly accepted. Accusations of plaigarism are fully expected. Make this kerfluffle an awesome one!
If we're really good, maybe we'll score the Holy Grail of fanficdom: An entry on Fandom_Wank!
And yes, this part caused me physical pain to write. *dramatic back of hand to forehead* How I suffer for my art!!11~!!!
Chapter 10: A Few of My Favorite Things…
“…and then I handed the customer the book and told him to have a nice day.”
Faith burst out laughing. That had to be the funniest story she’d ever heard in her life.
“And then you told him to have a nice day,” Andrew snorted into his cup.
Xander looked at his three companions like they’d all gone insane and it was up to him to find the men with butterfly nets before they all hurt themselves or someone else.
Inez leaned towards Xander and said with her silvery voice, “I’m sorry. Bookstore humor.”
“Unh, yeah. Me and books, we, unh, are not on a first name basis,” Xander fumbled as he clutched his coffee cup like it was the only thing between him and certain death.
Inez began waving her hands in an excited manner that put Faith in mind of Willow when the witch squeaked about magic. “But didn’t you ask about Pratchett? Oh, wait. That was for one of your friends, wasn’t it? Dawn, you said? Oh, I can’t wait to meet her. From what you said she sounds absolutely wonderful.”
“She’s okay,” Faith said casually as her heart sank. “A little on the young side, though. Not really old enough to play with us big girls.”
Inez smiled at Faith. “Well, I’m sure you know of so many interesting places. We’ll have to get together and see some sights.”
Faith grinned back. “Well, you’re the local. I’ll let you decide what’s fun.”
“We definitely should get together,” Inez agreed. “It’s so hard to meet new friends and…well, I can’t say enough how glad I am that we’ve met.”
Faith felt her heart swell to three times its size.
“Now as for you,” Inez reached out and touched Xander’s hand. Xander again did that strange startled move as his gaze fixed on the point of contact. Inez didn’t seem to notice. “We have to find you the right book. Or maybe the right genre. I can recommend some…”
“Xander prefers books with no actual words; just very big, simple pictures,” Andrew interrupted in a silky tone as Xander continued staring at Inez’s hand. “Now me on the other hand…OW!”
Faith gave Andrew a sweet smile as the little snake glared at her. “My foot slipped,” she said lightly.
“Oooh, I’m sure that Xander reads a lot of books,” Inez said as she removed her hand from Cyclops and rested her chin in it. She kept her loving gaze on Xander’s face.
Faith wanted cackle with glee at Andy’s sour look. Inez wasn’t buying his macho bullshit. That girl knew what she wanted and she wanted Cyclops. Good for her. Faith always admired chicks who saw, wanted, took, and had. They never ended up like mommy dearest who’d dream her day away through the bottom of a bar glass while popping pills just hoping that she’d find happiness tomorrow. No, sir-ee. Chicks like Inez who reached for the brass ring always had it better because they weren’t counting on someone to save their asses.
Xander watched Inez out of the corner of his right eye while he sipped from his foamy concoction.
“I bet a man like you really ordered a jackhammer,” Inez said dreamily.
Xander hunched his shoulders like Inez was getting ready to sock him one. “I ordered exactly what I said I would. One double mocca, extra, extra, extra large latte for me with a quintuple shot espresso and five times the sugar.”
“Bet you’re lying and it’s really hot chocolate,” Andrew said dismissively. “Don’t lie, Xander. We all know you can’t take a man’s drink.”
“Says the guy who’s drinking decaf,” Faith nastily countered.
“Well, you are, too,” Andrew protested.
“If it’s good enough for Ms. Morningstar, it’s good enough for me,” Faith sniffed.
Inez giggled. “Oh, call me Inez, please. You shouldn’t wuss out on the coffee just because of me. Caffeine makes me do jittery things and I do so want to impress all of Xander’s friends.”
Faith’s and Andrew’s chests puffed up in unison while Xander barely stifled a groan. “We’re just tryin’ to be all polite here,” Faith said magnanimously. “Don’t want to make you feel all left out.”
“Unh, hold on a sec,” Xander interrupted. He looked like something just hit him between the eyes. “Morningstar? Who’s…”
“That would be me,” Inez giggled.
“Yeah, you knew this Cyclops, remember?” Faith asked. “I did tell you that her last name was Morningstar.”
“Absent-minded, too,” Inez sounded like she was having the Big O. “I just love that in a man.”
Xander looked horrified. “Did my ears go on the blink? Because I sure don’t remember your name being Morningstar.”
“There’s Iroquois on my father’s side of the family.” Inez’s smile was an illustration of gentle radiance. “He comes from a long line of medicine men and tribal chiefs.”
Xander’s eyes were wide. “But Morningstar?”
“It’s a translation to English. Actually, it’s a translation of the French translation of the family name,” Inez giggled. “But I don’t want to bore you with the details.”
“Oh god. That name on a…” Xander bit his lip, squeezed his eyes shut, and gave his head a hard shake. “I’m so dead.”
“Oh, you explaining it to us would not be boring,” Andrew said to Inez as he leaned forward. He dropped his voice, “I’m an expert at languages and I can tell you…”
“As long as they’re not human,” Faith dismissed. “You know shit-all about French or English.”
Xander hissed at Faith since he couldn’t actually say “shut up” without tipping off the lovely Inez that certain aspects of their lives weren’t exactly kosher.
Inez blinked, her kind mask slipping into one of concern. Faith swore at herself. Of course Inez picked up on it. She was as brilliant as she was beautiful.
“You two, whatever you do, don’t touch anything and don’t sign anything,” Xander said.
“Sign anything?” Inez was charmingly confused. “Why would I want anyone to sign anything?”
“The only way this could be worse is if your name was Nicholas Scratch.” Xander paused. “Or Nicole, in your case.”
“Xander!” Faith snapped.
“Hunh?” Andrew looked confused. “What’s so bad about that name?”
Faith glared at Xander and wondered where the hell he heard that name. Goes without saying she knew it, since she grew up in shady-ol’ Boston, home of the Black Man with the Book of Names himself. And if she knew what the name meant, thanks to her first Watcher, there was a very good chance that someone as obviously educated as Inez knew it, too.
Which is why Inez’s reaction at first mystified Faith.
Inez’s grin turned up a notch as she clapped her hands with sheer joy. “I knew you were kidding about the books. It’s not everyone who knows New England folklore.”
Faith relaxed. Of course Inez would be all over that action, since she was all about the deep knowledge. Xander’s hidden insult obviously went over her head, which meant that this date would still end well. She had plans to make damn sure it happened one way or the other, with or without permission from Cyclops.
“I was subjected to a really bad middle school production of The Devil and Daniel Webster,” Xander said just a little too carefully. “Plus, there was a not very good movie or two involved.”
Bullshit. He came across that name during some stupid-ass research session, Faith angrily thought.
“Hey!” Looked like Andy finally caught on to the insult. “You take that back!”
“Oh, you must read the original play. It’s so much better,” Inez said, really getting into the subject now. “It’s more about how good intentions can lead you astray.”
Xander gave Faith a helpless look. “If that’s supposed to be comforting? Not comforted.”
“I could lend you my copy,” Inez said shyly. “Plus I have the original movie with Walter Houston. It’s very good. A classic. We could watch it together, you and I.”
Xander looked at Inez and for a moment seemed caught by her gaze. His shoulders relaxed and Faith swore that he stopped breathing for a second.
Andrew turned red with rage as his eyes narrowed and he glared at Xander. Faith felt like crowing. This was going so well.
Xander kept his gaze on Inez while the girl smiled dreamily up at him. He lifted his cup to his mouth, probably to prevent himself from kissing her then and there, Faith figured. As the cup touched Xander’s lips, the son of a bitch let the cup go and it dropped right in his lap. Xander hopped out of his chair with a very loud, “Shit!”
Faith fumed. He did that on purpose! That asshole!
Andrew looked like he was ready to start victory laps around the Starbucks. “He’s always clumsy like this,” Andrew loudly announced.
“Are you all right?” Inez asked with deep concern. “That coffee seemed very hot. I hope…”
“Fine! I’m fine!” Xander sounded like he was on the verge of hysteria. “I better hit the men’s room and…” He looked down and winced. “Yeah, that’s an embarrassing owww, Roger 10-4.”
“I’ll get someone to clean up the spill,” Inez said as she stood.
“NO!” Xander winced again as he realized that he had shouted. “I’ll do it. You…you don’t go anywhere. Just…stayrightthere.”
Inez leaned back as Xander hustled up to the counter, watching him with what could only be described as open admiration. “He really is wonderful, isn’t he?”
“He is?” Andrew asked with flared nostrils.
“Yes, he is,” Faith stated as she gave Andy another ‘love tap’ with her foot.
“I’m surprised that you didn’t go for him for yourself,” Inez asked.
Andrew opened his mouth and Faith gave him a pre-emptive kick as a warning. While Andy glared his displeasure, Faith said, “Cousin. Remember?”
Inez giggled. “I don’t believe that. You act more like he’s a very dear friend.”
Busted! Faith knew she had to scramble; otherwise that little lie could tank the whole deal. “He didn’t want to make you feel weird. We dated. Once.”
“Is that what they call it?” Andrew asked with a nasty edge.
Christ! How the hell did Andy find out about what happened in the SunnyD? One problem at a time. She’d deal with Andrew’s big ears later. He might not survive the experience, but she’d deal with it. “It didn’t work out,” Faith gamely continued, hoping she could still salvage the situation.
“That’s one way of putting it,” Andrew said. “OW!”
Inez reached over and grabbed Faith’s hand in a show of friendship. “I know someone like him is hardly a…a virgin.” Her smile was so understanding that Faith felt the light of forgiveness for stealing Cyclops’s cherry from Inez kissing her on the forehead. “But I think it’s sweet that the two you of became such good friends, even though it didn’t work out between you.”
Faith felt herself blush as she gave Inez’s a hand a very gentle squeeze, mindful that she not give Inez any hint of Slayer strength. “Guess my loss is your gain.”
Inez leaned forward. “But I do insist that when we have our girls’ day out together that you tell me all the details.” She blushed. “I want to be perfect for him.”
“You’re already perfect,” Faith said. “I say don’t wait. Grab him now.” She leaned forward. “He’s very skittish about falling in love. He hasn’t had a lot of luck.”
Inez’s chin trembled with sympathy.
“See, his fiancé died a little over a year ago,” Faith said. “Then he just found out that one of his ex’s died. I think he’s afraid he’s cursed.”
Inez blinked. While she didn’t cry, her eyes were suspiciously bright. “Oh, poor Xander. We must show him that he’s not, you and I.”
Faith’s eyes were suspiciously watery and she sniffed back the threatening tears. “You’re right. We’ll work on him and he’ll see that he’s not.”
Andrew grumbled. “That’s right. He’s soooo tragic. He stands there with those broad shoulders and that perfect smile to mask the pain and everybody just looooves him. It’s not fair that someone with his romantic, dark past also has the looks to go with it. None of us have a chance against that charm. It’s not fair that he’s so attractive that he makes people think about licking whipped cream off his…OW!”
“I really have to get that muscle twitch looked at,” Faith said.
Xander was hustling to the men’s room and one of the employees was hustling over with a mop when Faith heard the door behind her open and felt a breeze on the back of her neck.
Andrew looked towards the door and his mouth dropped open in a comical show of surprise.
“There she is,” said a female voice. A familiar female voice.
Faith kept her eyes fixed on the worker drone mopping the floor in front of her as she made a mental note to kill June.
“We should say hello.”
Faith added Louise to the “kill later” list.
“I really think we should just get our coffee and leave them in peace,” said a male British voice.
Faith decided that she also wanted to kill Whyte, just on general principle.
Inez leaned toward her. “Do they know you? They keep looking over here.”
“Let me handle it,” Faith said. As she stood up, she saw it was already too late. Whyte, June, and Louise were making a beeline for their table.
“What are you doing here?” Faith hissed.
“We were in the neighborhood,” June said.
“Just passing through,” Louise agreed cheerfully.
“They made me come,” Whyte complained.
“Are you going to introduce me?” Inez graciously asked.
Faith’s smile froze on her face. Terrific. She now had to compete with Louise and June for the title of Inez’s best friend.
“Faith?” Louise asked with a giggle as June watched Inez with a questioning look on her face. Whyte looked like he’d rather be standing inside a Hellmouth.
“Sure,” Faith fought to keep her voice light. “June. Louise. Jonathan. This is Inez, Xander’s date.” She added extra emphases on the word “date,” hoping they’d take the hint and cut the interruption short.
“I’m so pleased to meet more of Xander’s friends,” Inez said happily.
“Unh, yeah.” June took an uncertain step back.
“Yeah, maybe we should let you guys go,” Louise agreed as she shuffled from one foot to the next.
“I did tell you,” Whyte sniffed. “This is a rather uncomfortable situation.”
“No shit, Sherlock,” Faith stated.
“Faith! The gentle Inez,” Andrew reminded her. He turned to the goddess in question. “I’m sorry about Faith’s crass language. Her heart is…her heart is…well, the theory is that she has a heart.”
Faith bit her tongue and promised herself that she would explore whether Andy had a heart by ripping his chest open with her bare hands.
Inez stood and immediately grasped June’s hands. “It’s so good to meet all of you.” She turned and grasped Louise’s hands as a smile spread across June’s face. “You must tell me how you know Xander.” She then grasped Whyte’s hands as Louise blushed. “I feel like someone’s trying to tell me something since I’m already meeting so many of his friends.”
Whyte seemed to melt right into his socks. “It is such a pleasure to meet you, Inez. I’m certain that if someone like yourself has set her cap for young Mr. Harris, I must obviously revise my opinion of him.”
“Well, from what I understand from Faith, Xander is living under a shadow,” Inez said in her understanding silver tones. “That can certainly put one off if one lets it.”
“Indeed,” Whyte said with a bow.
“It is true,” June said softly. “He never talks about it, but we’ve heard stories.”
“It’s so sad,” Louise said as she rested her head on June’s shoulder. “I hope you will be able to heal him.”
“Oh, that’s right,” Andrew groused. “No one ever wants to heal me. What about my pain? Just because he’s a romantic figure that anyone with eyes could fall in love with.”
Inez turned her blinding smile on Andrew. “I just know that you’ll find that special someone before you know it. It’ll happen when you least expect it. Maybe even tomorrow. Happiness is just a day away.”
Everyone around Inez sighed with contentment. Faith wondered why she never thought of happiness being just a day away before. She vowed then and there to live her life according to that credo.
“WHAT ARE YOU DOING?”
Everyone jumped and turned to face a wild-eyed Xander. Faith noticed that his upper legs and crotch still bore the unmistakable signs of his mishap with the coffee and that his bangs seemed a little damp, like he’d washed his face in the men’s room.
“Xander!” June exclaimed. “What happened to you?”
“What happened to your pants?” Louise asked as she stared at Xander’s crotch in horror.
“I’m rather wondering what the lovely Inez sees in you,” Whyte sniffed.
“See? Me, too. Thank you, Mr. Whyte,” Andrew said with a nod.
Xander looked like his head was about to explode. Sounds were coming out his mouth, but there was nothing in the noise that could be called a coherent word.
“Xander dropped some coffee in his lap,” Inez sighed as she watched Xander with a dreamy look on her face. “I’m sure we’ll be laughing about it when we tell our grandchildren.”
“Gandwhat?” Xander gave his head a hard shake. “Wait. Wait. Back up. You three. What are…? I guess my…my…coworkers obviously decided…why are you three here?”
“Why don’t we all sit down?” Inez graciously indicated some nearby chairs. “Now that they’re done cleaning up Xander’s little spill we can get to know each other better.”
“I think that’s a not-good idea,” Xander protested.
“A marvelous idea,” Whyte countered as June and Louise scampered to grab the chairs Inez indicated.
Faith fought against the pout forming on her face. She not only had to fight June and Louise to keep her best friend status, she also had to deal with Andrew and Whyte horning in on Cyclops’s action.
Inez settled daintily in her chair and said, “Xander, you never mentioned what you did.”
“Did?” Xander asked. He remained standing while June, Louise, and Whyte settled into their purloined chairs and Faith took her seat.
“Yes,” Inez said with a bright smile. “Your coworkers are here, so I can’t help but ask…”
“Time,” Xander interrupted with a grin.
Whyte, June, Louise, and Andrew exchanged confused looks while Faith’s eyes widened in horror.
“Time?” Inez’s smile faltered.
“Yup. Time.” Xander bounced on the balls of his feet. “I’m out on good behavior.”
Faith made a horrified noise as light began dawning on Whyte’s, June’s, Louise’s, and Andrew’s faces.
“Good behavior,” Inez repeated slowly.
“Yup. That’s how I met Faith,” Xander said brightly.
“Hunh?” June asked.
Faith was frozen in place. What the hell is he doing?
“You couldn’t have been in the same prison,” Inez giggled. “Faith is a girl.”
“So am I,” Xander said. “Well, actually, I was. Before that trip Sweden.”
Everyone was struck speechless.
“Or is it Norway? So hard to remember since I was dropping acid on a regular basis back then,” Xander cheerfully prattled on. “Don’t get me wrong, I was happy as a woman, but I always felt like a man trapped in a woman’s body. Now I’m a male lesbian. Oh, and I’ve stopped taking the acid. Now I’m all about the Bolivian marching powder.”
“That’s it!” Faith shouted as she shot out of her seat. “Inez, I’m sorry. Xander’s sense of humor is…is…we don’t know what it is.”
“I think it’s darling,” Inez happily breathed while Xander wilted.
“I need to have a chat with…Inez, we’ll be back in a second. Cyclops,” she grabbed Xander by the wrist, “Louise, June, Whyte, outside. Now.”
Faith pointed a threatening finger at Andrew. “And no drooling on Inez! I’m watching you!”
Andrew’s grin disappeared.
Xander didn’t put up even a token fight as Faith dragged him out the door with a reluctant Louise, June, and Whyte in tow.
Faith yanked Xander out of sight of the windows before turning on him and yelling, “What the fuck do you think you’re doing!”
“Sabotaging my date,” Xander calmly answered.
“What?” Louise yelped.
“Why?” June tearfully asked.
“Do you think she’d give me a tumble?” Whyte asked hopefully.
Faith resisted the urge to knock Xander’s and Whyte’s heads together “Hands off Inez! She belongs to Cyclops and me!”
“Unh, excuse me.” Xander raised a hand. “Did we move on to a plan for a threesome while I wasn’t looking? Because that’s getting a little too…”
Faith thwacked him on the upper arm.
“Hey!” Xander protested as he rubbed the point of contact.
“Where the fuck is your mind? In the gutter?” Faith fumed. “How could you even believe that…that…that I’d wreck Inez’s innocence like that? She’s a one-guy gal and if you weren’t such an ass, you’d see that you’re meant to be! But no. No. You have to be a frigging pig. You don’t deserve someone like her. No. You don’t. If you let this go, if you let her slip through your fingers, you’ll regret it.”
There was stunned silence following this pronouncement.
Faith turned away to wipe the tears from her eyes. She gave it her best shot. If Cyclops screwed this, it wasn’t her fault, damn it! Now it was up to him. She just hoped that she convinced him to seize the girl before he lost the girl.
“This? This is bad,” Xander said quietly.
“Yeah, well Faith’s upset because of you,” Louise pointed out in a shaky voice.
“How could you be such a cad?” Whyte asked in a hollow voice.
“I thought you were better than this.” June sounded close to tears.
Faith turned around and saw that Xander was standing with his arms crossed.
“I’m taking a wild guess here. Correct me if I’m wrong, please. But she touched all of you at some point, didn’t she?” Xander asked.
“Shaking hands is polite,” June said dramatically. “What did you want us to do? Refuse to accept her hand in friendship?”
Xander hung his head with a groan. “I can’t take this. Nope. This is overloading the ol’ circuits.”
“Feeling guilty?” Faith nastily asked. “Good. I hope it stings.”
Xander’s head popped up and he glared at the people around him. “Thank you, Ms. Harlequin Romance 2004. I can’t believe this. Your words are painful, and not just because they’re incredibly dumb.”
“Are you calling us dumb?” Faith snarled.
“Yeah,” Xander got right in her face. “And if I’m calling you dumb, then you know that you’re being dumb.”
Faith clenched her hands. “Why you little…”
“Don’t bruise him, Faith,” Louise cried out.
“Why not?” Whyte sniffed.
“It would make Inez unhappy,” June said.
Xander threw up his hands. “Oh, for Christ’s sake!”
“I think the problem is you,” Faith stated.
“Me,” Xander deadpanned.
“We all can see Inez is perfect,” Faith said to a chorus of agreement from the others. “But you can’t. We can’t all be wrong. So get off you’re high fucking horse, Mr. Righteous. I’m thinking that the problem is all you.”
“Okay, it’s down to me,” Xander breathed.
“That’s quite right,” Whyte said.
Xander took a few deep breaths through his nose. “I got it,” he finally said. “Louise, June? I want you to stick around.”
Faith wilted. She really didn’t want to be battling Louise and June for Inez’s friendship for the rest of the night.
“Take Whyte and go stand out of sight over there,” Xander indicated the corner at the end of the block. “Do not move from that spot until you see us walking out of that Starbucks.”
“We have to patrol,” Whyte said stiffly. “I’d rather not watch while you attempt to woo a woman who is far too good for likes of you.”
Xander’s jaw clenched and unclenched as he stared into Whyte’s face.
“What’s more, you know she’s too good for the likes of you,” Whyte said.
“Hey!” Faith protested.
“Oh, someone must be honest with the boy,” Whyte stated.
“Hey!” June and Louise angrily chorused.
“What does he offer? Workman’s rough hands on that dove-white skin? His profane tongue abusing her ears?” Whyte asked. “Truly, he’s a barely literate oaf who only got where he is today because he has highly placed friends.”
June and Louise gasped.
Faith’s fist was sailing through the air at Whyte’s face when Cyclops interposed himself between Faith’s justified right cross and the other Watcher. Faith managed to stop herself before she made contact, although she was left with her fist barely a quarter-inch from Cyclops’s chin.
“Back down,” Xander said quietly. “Please. He’s not worth it.”
Faith blinked uncomprehendingly at Xander.
Xander gently took hold of her wrist and pushed down her fist. “It’s okay,” he said. “Trust me, please. Please.”
Faith began to shake as it dawned on her: I could’ve killed Whyte with that punch. I could’ve killed Cyclops. What was Cyclops thinking? What?
While her confused mind tried to sort out what just happened, Xander turned to face an ashen Whyte.
“I want to thank you,” Xander said.
Whyte kept staring at Faith, who couldn’t stop shaking.
“I needed that,” Xander said quietly as he reached out and touched Whyte’s shoulder.
The other Watcher startled and turned his haunted gaze to Xander.
“What you said. I needed that,” Xander calmly repeated. He looked around him. “June, Louise. Do as I ask. Don’t question it; just do it. That’s not a request. Am I making myself clear?”
June and Louise gave hesitant nods.
“Whyte,” Xander gave the other Watcher a hard look, “I’ll forgive that little tirade this time because I think there’s other things at work here. You ever say that to me again, they’ll never find enough of your body to make a positive identification. Are we clear?”
“You’re threatening me?” Whyte asked.
Xander stepped forward until he and Whyte were almost nose-to-nose. Faith could see from Cyclops’s lack of expression that he was fighting the overwhelming urge to kick the shit out the British twit.
“Threatening,” Xander said evenly. “That’s a pretty harsh word. It suggests that I wouldn’t actually go through with it. A better word is ‘promise.’”
Whyte glared back. Faith hated to give him credit, but ol’ Johnny boy wasn’t backing down.
“Now, I’m the boss around here. You have a problem with that? By all means, file a grievance with the union. And as the duly elected president of said union, I’m sure that I will be positively shocked by my behavior,” Xander continued evenly. “I also promise that there will be a swift investigation and letters of warning issued to the offending parties as warranted. However, I can’t accept your complaint right now because,” here Xander checked his watch, “we will be fighting for our lives in an hour or two and I need you ready.”
“Mr. Giles will hear of this night’s work. He’ll hear about both of you,” Whyte hissed evilly.
“You do that,” Xander calmly responded. He looked at June and Louise. “Why are you still here?”
Louise grabbed Whyte’s wrist and dragged him to the corner Xander indicated. June followed, but she kept casting nervous glances back at Xander over her shoulder.
Xander turned to Faith and lightly touched her shoulder. “Hey,” he called quietly. “Are you in there?”
Faith dumbly nodded.
“It’s going to be okay. You’re going be okay,” Xander said quietly. “I think I have it figured out.”
“What?” Faith asked. “Figured out what?”
“C’mere,” Xander jerked his head toward the picture windows. “I want you to look in there. Make sure that Inez doesn’t see you.”
Faith frowned, but sidled up to the window anyway. She peeked in and saw that Andy-boy was pouring on the charm. He was waving his hands and his mouth was animatedly moving. Inez tolerated his antics with good-natured, amused smile on her face.
“That little snake. He’s hitting on her,” Faith hissed.
“Exactly,” Xander said.
Faith pulled back and gave Xander a confused look.
“Andrew. Who dreams about Scott Bakula naked on a bed lettuce, which I know because he talks in his sleep,” Xander said. “Andrew, who believes the hottest person on the planet is Timothy Dalton when he was playing James Bond.”
Faith’s head snapped around and she was again peering through the window. Fuck me. What the fuckity-fuck? “I’ll kill the little bitch,” Faith growled.
“I was kinda hoping you’d say that.”
She pulled back, turned to face Xander, and snarled, “Soooo, you think magic?”
Xander was grinning like a fool. “I’m thinking more like demon since the magic radar hasn’t really been pinging.”
“You sure?” Faith said through her teeth.
“Pretty sure,” Xander said. “I think whatever mojo she’s got requires touch. That spells demon poison or some kind of drug to me.”
“Right,” Faith agreed with a predatory grin. “Time to Slay.”
“Hold up,” Xander grabbed her by her upper arm before she got three steps. “We’ve got the same problem now as we did before.”
“No problem,” Faith disagreed with a subwoofer-level growl. “It’s Slaytime. I want it really messy and I want her screaming for fucking mercy before I snap her goddamn neck.”
“You attack her in a Starbucks, someone’s going to call the cops,” Xander pointed out.
Faith nodded. “Then I guess we lure her to a nice quiet spot, rip off her fucking head, and shit down her neck.”
Xander bounced on the balls of his feet as his grin split his face. “Now that sounds like a plan.”