Sunnydale High School
As I walked into the library after school, I expected to see only Giles there. Except for the times he was at home or actually helping Buffy slay the newest threat to the continued existence of humanity, the G-man was happiest doing his unending research or cross-referencing.
What I did see when I walked in was Buffy, sitting in a chair with her boots propped up on the big table.
She was wearing her standard spaghetti-strapped blouse, her short skirt was about halfway up her thighs and it was all I could do to not let the drool hit the floor. Swallowing the lump in my throat, I called out to her, “Hey Buffy, what are you doing here?”
Buffy looked up from the magazine she had been reading with a start. “Hey Xander. I was just trying to figure out what dress I was going to buy for that big party the Bronze is having next week. I want to dress nice for the occasion.” While Buffy was talking, she took her boots off the table and stood up, her skirt now falling to just above the knee. “I was going to go to the mall with Willow but she had to go out of town with her folks for the weekend. What about you, why are you still here at school?”
“I got a book report assigned for this weekend and I was hoping that Giles could suggest a good book for me to read.” I tossed my book bag on the table and leaned up against it.
Buffy grinned at my response. “By good book you mean short and simple, right?” I nodded sheepishly.
“Well, you’re out of luck because Giles just left to go out of town with Ms. Calendar.”
“You’re telling me that the stuffy, duty-first librarian and Watcher we all know and love just left town to spend time with an attractive woman? I’m shocked, I’m astounded, I’m…” I put my hands up to my face in pretend horror.
Buffy laughed out loud. “No, silly. Giles is going to the Bay Area for an antique book sale that’s happening there. When he told Ms. Calendar that he was going to the sale, she invited herself along for the trip. I don’t think that Giles was all that upset that Jenny went, though.”
I shook my head in sorrow. “Well, I guess that I’ll have go to plan B. The fall back plan of every student faced with a book report when they have better things to do…the secret weapon of high school students everywhere…Cliff Notes.”
“Xander! Are you telling me you’re going to fake your way through a book report with Cliff Notes?” Buffy was looking at me with both surprise and disapproval on her face.
“You make that sound so dishonest,” I said defensively. Buffy glared at me. “As a matter of fact the teacher told us we have to give specific instances from the book, so the Cliff Notes alone wouldn’t be enough. I’ll read the Cliff Notes and go through the book for the instances. That way I can do the report sounding like I know what I’m talking about and still finish faster than by just reading the book.”
Buffy looked satisfied by my explanation. “So, do you already have the book picked out?”
“Yeah…I was just hoping that Giles could get me a simpler book. ‘The Lord of the Flies’ is not my cup of tea,” I said with a grin on my face. “Now all I have to do is go to the book store at the mall and pick up the Cliff Notes version.”
“How are you getting to the mall? Taking the bus again?” Buffy had a small smile on her face. She knew how much I hated taking the bus anywhere.
“No, actually my mom let me use her station wagon this weekend. All I have to do is walk home and pick it up.” I started dancing my infamous Xander-Dance there in the middle of the library.
“Perfect. I need a ride to the mall to get my dress and my mom is out of town again on an art-buying trip. So, Xander, will you give me a lift?” Buffy struck a mock hitchhiking pose, right thumb up in the air, left leg out in front of her seductively, causing her skirt to start riding up her thigh again.
The lump in my throat came back again. “Sure, Buffy. On one condition.”
Buffy looked at me curiously. “And what would that be?”
I grinned. “Could you hold that pose for a minute so that I could burn it into my memory?”
Buffy playfully gave me a shove, knocking me back against the table. “Pick me up in an hour at my house. And you already have enough images of me burned into your mind.”
While shopping with females was not high on my list of fun things to do, Buffy was the happy exception to that rule. Normally, watching women paw through dozens of racks in search of the perfect dress would cause me to go nuts with boredom. However, watching Buffy try on short dress after tight dress after low-cut dress was the perfect antidote to that boredom.
Buffy and I were walking through the mall with Buffy holding two full bags while I carried my small book store bag containing the Cliff Notes. I had been trying to read the booklet in the intermissions of the All-Buffy Fashion Show, but I had discovered that it’s hard to retain information when a beautiful girl is modeling dresses for you.
“I still can’t believe that you bought all that, Buffy. You came here to buy one dress and it looks like you bought out the store.” I tried to take one of Buffy’s bags but she held the bags out of my reach.
“No, thank you, I can carry my own bags. And I did not buy out the store. I bought two dresses and all the necessary accessories for them. You’re lucky that I already have the shoes for these or we would still be at it.” Buffy grinned at me.
“Well, I wouldn’t have minded staying longer if you had let me go in with you when we went to Victoria’s Secret. “ Buffy, to my ever-undying regret, made me wait outside the store while she was inside.
“Well, all I got there is some skin care stuff, so you didn’t miss much.” Buffy smiled mischievously. “Besides, if you had gone in there, your imagination would have overloaded and you'd pass out.”
“Sometimes that’s a good thing.” I noticed that we were outside the mall video game arcade. “Hey, here’s something that I’ve haven't done for a while.” Buffy gave me an incredulous look. “You still play video games, Xander? You’re a high school junior, for crying out loud.”
I looked insulted. “I’ll have you know that I do not just ‘play video games’. I am engaging in simulated combat against relevant adversaries.”
Buffy looked at me with a thin smile. “Either you have been hanging around Giles too much or that is the biggest load of BS I’ve heard in a long time.”
I smiled back at her. “Let me show you what I’m talking about,” I said as we walked into the arcade.
“I’m not playing ‘Mortal Kombat' here. If I want to see that all I have to do is go on patrol with you.” We walked up on past all the blinking and beeping machines toward the back wall, where the two games that I had gotten good at playing were. Buffy took one look at the names on the machines and started laughing.
“Xander, you’re telling me you’re play a game called‘The House of the Dead?” I faked looking hurt. “Well, after all that we’ve done, I want a situation where I can fight monsters by shooting them and not by getting picked up and thrown against a wall and knocked out. And ‘Time Crisis II’ teaches you about ducking for cover…another concept I have trouble with.”
“How good are you at these games, Xand?” Buffy put her bags down and was looking curiously at the games.
“I can usually place in the top five. I think it’s my soldierly instincts from that Halloween deal.” I breathed on my fingernails and polished them on my Hawaiian shirt, trying not to look too arrogant.
“Sure, Xander. The fact that you believed that you were a soldier on Halloween is what lets you kill so many of these fake monsters. If that was the case, I would still be acting like a idiot, begging for a man to protect me.” Buffy looked at me with an amused look on her face.
“OK, I spend a bit of money doing this. But I am pretty good at it.” I looked at the machine and got an idea. “How about if we play a game together?”
“What? I spend all of my spare time fighting real monsters and you want me to pay for the privilege of doing the same with pretend monsters? No, thanks.” Buffy started picking up her bags again.
“It’ll be fun, Buffy. We can see if your Slayer reflexes and instincts can transfer onto the small screen. I’ll even pay for you.” I looked at her entreatingly.
“Well…OK. But you have to show me how to do this.” Buffy looked back at the machines again.
“I think that we can skip ‘The House of the Dead’. ‘Time Crisis II’ is much better anyway. You learn to duck and to reload.” I placed Buffy’s bags by the machine and went and got tokens from the change machine.
After showing Buffy how the ‘gun’ and the ‘duck/reload’ petal worked, I stepped in front of my station and inserted the necessary tokens in the coin slots. When the game story prologue started, outlining how the two secret agents/players had to go in and stop a nuclear weapons satellite from being launched into space and rescue a captured female agent, Buffy laughed.
“Don’t all these games start this way? There is a girl in trouble somewhere and you have to go in blasting to save her?” Buffy was laughing, but holding her ‘gun’ at the ready.
“Yeah, they do. But it’s still fun.” I held my ‘gun’ at the ready. “One more thing, Buffy.”
“What’s that, Xand?” The prologue was almost over.
“In this game it’s possible to shoot your partner. Please don’t.”
“I don’t think that is going to be a problem, Xander.”
And the game started in earnest.
I had a feeling from the beginning that Buffy was going to be better at the game than I was. I had not been kidding about her Slayer reflexes and instincts. Buffy had once showed off how fast she was by snatching flies out of the air without hurting them. What I had wanted to know was how good I was against her in this artificial world where the worst that could happen was that you had to put more tokens inthe game to keep playing.
Buffy got the hang of the game before we finished the first stage. She was shooting the bad guys on the game at near machine gun speed. It took me a minute to realize that, while I fired two fast shots at each bad guy and knocking them down quickly, Buffy was firing single shots at each bad guy and knocking them down at warp speed. As soon as her ‘gun’ came up dry, she would duck and reload in about half a second. And no, Buffy did not shoot me. At the end of each stage, the game would show each player’s point total and hit percentage. Because of my two shot ‘double-taps,’ my hit percentage would normally be about 60%. Buffy’s point total was just a little higher than mine was, but her hit percentage was about 88%. In other words, Buffy shot faster and more accurately than me but didn’t get many more bad guys than I did.
Another thing that Buffy did better than me was to not get shot as much. When I finally lost all my lives, I dug out some more tokens to get back in the game. I watched Buffy for a minute while putting the tokens in the machine. She was standing there holding the ‘gun’ in both hands, leaning forward and firing. There was a look of intense concentration on her face, and because of the stress and speed of the game, she was perspiring. Not the gym class type of sweat; the light, sexy, kind of perspiring on her face and shoulders under her spaghetti strap blouse that made you want to…
“Xander! Are you going to get back in or not?“ Buffy growled in a intent tone of voice. Buffy was still concentrating on the game when she spoke, so she didn’t see me ogling her. I quickly shook it off and shot the player box on the screen, getting back in the game.
We finally got to the end of the game, where we faced off with General Diaz and his nuclear weapons satellite. Shocking no one, the Slayer and her able gunfighting assistant (me) were able to stop the satellite launch and General Diaz’s plan. We also rescued the captured female agent as well. When the final scores came up, Buffy and I had ranked number one.
“You were right, Xander. You do ‘engage in simulated combat with relevant adversaries,’" Buffy said with a smile on her face, repeating what I had said earlier.
“All right, so it isn’t vampires. But you do have a lot of fun. If you want to go up against zombies, we could play ‘The House Of The Dead’ over there,” I replied, working the kinks from my neck.
“No, thank you. I’ve had enough fun tonight. The mall is about to close anyway.” Buffy picked up her bags and we walked toward the door. “Tell me, why haven’t we had fun like this lately?”
“Between the attentions of your ex-boyfriend and the demands of school and slaying, I guess you haven’t had a lot of time to have fun,” I replied, swinging the outside mall door open and letting Buffy out into the nearly empty parking lot first. “Besides, after that love spell, I had the feeling you were still embarrassed about what had happened in the library.”
“Uugghh. Thanks for reminding me about Angel. And no, I am not still embarrassed about what happened in the library. I am so totally over that.” Buffy continued walking, but I swear I saw a faint blush on her cheeks. “What about things between you and Cordelia?”
“It not too bad between me and Cordy now that we are out of the closet…literally speaking I mean,” I said, throwing a quick glance at Buffy, who smiled thinly.
“She’s in Palm Springs this weekend with her parents. You know, now that Cordy and me are together, I guess that means that the epic romance between you and me will never come to be.” I held my hand to my heart and pretended to sniffle.
Buffy laughed out loud at my antics. “Speaking of you and me, you did pretty good at that game back there. You were keeping up with me and I know that’s not an easy game."
“I’m just waiting for the day that we do have it like that. All that hand-to-hand with vampires gets old pretty quick. And it does feel good when you rescue the girl at the end. The day comes that I have to shoot my way into a place to get you out of a jam, I’ll be set,” I said in a mock serious tone of voice.
“I’ll tell you what. The day that I get deep into trouble and you have to blast your way in and bail me out, not only will I let you rescue me, I’ll even give you a kiss to thank you,” Buffy said with another thin smile on her face. I did a pretend double take. “You mean that I have something to look forward to? Oh, happy day, happy day! I have something to look forward to!” I started to dance my Xander-Dance again.
Buffy laughed again. “Knock it off, Xander. We’re almost at your car anyway.” I stopped dancing and reached in my pocket for the car keys. Suddenly, Buffy stopped, put her bags on the ground and started to look around warily. I’ve seen that look on Buffy’s face before and her next words confirmed the reason why.
“Xander…we’ve got company,” Buffy grabbed her handbag and opened it. She left her hand in the bag while still looking around.
“Where are they? There’s no one around, the parking lot is almost empty, and there is no one in the car.” I gestured toward my mom’s station wagon. I was standing next to the car when a pair of inhumanly strong hands reached out from under the car, grabbed my ankles and yanked hard. The last thing I saw before everything turned black was the parking lot pavement rushing toward my face.