Xander's Job, Chapter 6: Bed and Breakfast
Xander’s gaze darted around the little room, looking for whatever threats might exist in a Connecticut bed and breakfast. Giles’ confession that the watcher hadn’t taken Willow’s story of danger in Star’s Hollow seriously had bothered Xander more than he let on, but he saw no immediate threat.
In a way that was too bad – getting his butt kicked by some beastie would be much preferable to breaking the news of Cordelia’s death to still another old friend.
The place was a mess: strewn with discarded clothes, the bed rumpled and unmade, the dresser heaped with those torture devices all women had to have for their hair and faces. Xander had been around enough females to recognize all that as normal. Willow and Kennedy also seemed normal at first, if a bit underdressed.
Giles shoved past him, and was a little more obvious in his examination of the room. “Are you two all right? The owner said she hadn’t seen you since last night.”
“We were out all night,” Willow told him, in a too-quick voice that immediately put Xander on his guard. “So, of course, we slept all day, as is often done by people who stay out all night.”
“So I’ve heard,” Giles murmured. “You’ve found some, ah, creatures of the night here, then?”
“A few.” Kennedy threw a gaze at Willow, then moved the towel she was wrapped in, exposing just enough thigh to show an ugly scrape. “The one last night was a little more of a challenge than usual, but we dealt.”
Ashamed of his momentary suspicion, Xander stepped forward to examine the injury. Then he realized he was staring at Kennedy’s bare thigh, and straightened up. “Say, your face is bruised, too. Are you sure you’re all right? Slayers don’t bruise easily.” Just keep talking about injuries, and he wouldn’t make some stupid comment about her naked leg.
“We heal fast,” Kennedy reminded him. “You should have seen me this morning.”
“I’m sorry we weren’t here to help.” Giles looked contrite, although Xander suspected the two women had still fit some vacationing in between the slayage. “Perhaps we can be of help, now that the three of us –“ He paused, then looked around. “Angel?”
Angel still stood at the doorway, a bemused expression on his face as he experimentally pushed against an invisible barrier. He hadn’t been invited in, Xander realized. But wait – did vampires have to be invited in when the occupants had paid to stay there? He’d never been real clear on the whole hotel-motel thing.
“Oh!” Willow waved her arms as if trying to tread water. “Come on in. Kennedy, shouldn’t you be getting dressed?”
Angel entered as Kennedy dashed into the bathroom. The slayer must have just gotten out of a hot shower, because the first thing Xander heard was an almost frantic rubbing of a towel over the bathroom mirror. He chuckled to himself – a girl’s gotta know how she looks, after all.
“What kind of a creature was it?” Giles asked, as he settled into an armchair in one corner of the room, apparently in full research mode despite a lack of books. Angel still stood by the door and Willow was fluttering around as if she’d just had her eighth cup of coffee, so Xander perched on the end of the bed.
“Creature?” Willow repeated, suddenly freezing.
“The one you battled last night,” Giles clarified.
“Oh! Big. Green. Horny.”
Giles coughed. Angel raised an eyebrow. Xander, who knew without bragging that he’d normally be the first with a response to that straight line, just frowned, his memory jogged. “Granted that’s a limited description, but haven’t we met those guys before?”
Willow’s eyes widened, then she nodded. “Cheeseman’s minions. Just like those.”
“And you saw only one?” Giles asked.
By now Kennedy had returned, dressed in blue jeans and a red t-shirt shirt with the words “Blame it on Rio” emblazoned on the front. “Yep, just one. There was a nest of vampires, but we finally got rid of those, then the big green guy jumped us. But after it threw me clear Willow weakened it with a fireball, just like last time, then I managed to snap its neck.”
“Vampires?’ Angel asked, as he lazily rubbed the back of his neck.
“Formerly vampires.” Kennedy gave him a guarded look. “Now dust bunnies.”
“The only other time we encountered those demons,” Giles mused, “they came in threes.”
Kennedy nodded. “Exactly. That’s why we should stay around the area a bit longer, to make sure two more don’t pop up.”
“I’ll assign other slayers to assist you --“
“No!” Kennedy paused to take a breath. “I mean, that seems almost insulting, to think we couldn’t handle them.”
Apparently, Xander thought, Kennedy’s memory was short. “Excuse me, but I helped Richard, Kara, Jason, and a vampire fight two of them, and one still managed to get away -- while dragging Dawn behind it. Is that something the two of you really want to face alone?”
“We have a system,” Willow explained.
“Besides,” Kennedy added, “we haven’t actually seen any sign of more demons. We just want to look around the area a few days more – maybe a week – to make sure there’s not one lurking around.”
“Well …” Giles stroked his chin for a moment, then sent a pointed look at Xander. “In any case, we have another matter to settle, first.”
That would be his cue. Xander hated his cue. “Yeah.” Attacked by a sudden case of nerves, he stood and paced to the other side of the room, then gestured Willow and Kennedy toward the bed. “You guys – Willow – should sit down.”
Affected by his expression, Willow did, and a suddenly subdued Kennedy took a seat beside her. “What’s wrong, Xander? Did somebody --” Willow suddenly looked horrified. “Oh, no – did somebody --?
“Yeah.” Kneeling, Xander took her hand. “It’s Cordelia. She passed away.”
“She – she did?” Willow shook her head. “But Angel said she was being taken care of. Weren’t you taking care of her?”
“Of course I was –“ Angel took a breath. “Yes. She had the best of care, but she couldn’t get better. There was too much damage.”
“But – I – when?”
“Just a few days ago,” Angel said. “I came to Chicago as soon as I could, and Xander suggested all the Scoobies should be told in person.”
“Oh. Oh.” A strange look crossed Willow’s face. “You came here to tell us about Cordelia?”
Xander nodded. “As fast as we could. I think Cordy would want us to all be together … to say goodbye.”
He noticed Kennedy’s eyes narrow, and she reached up to gently touch the bruise on her cheek. “Cordelia,” the slayer murmured, looking bemused.
“You didn’t know her, but she was there when we all first met Buffy. She was one of the original group … kind of.” Xander shrugged. “It’s sort of hard to explain our – relationship.”
“I’ve heard stories.” Reaching out, Kennedy took put an arm around her lover, pulling her close. “I think Cordelia would approve of you all saying goodbye together.”
Willow suddenly straightened, as if just now realizing where this would lead. “Then you’re all going to –“ She turned to look at Angel, who squared his shoulders.
“She – that’s our next stop,” was all he would say. “The jet’s fueled up and waiting.”
“But the danger to this community,” Giles broke in, “if two more of those demons show up –“
“I’ll stay behind,” Kennedy suddenly announced. “This is your guys’ thing. I’ll stay here to scout the area, and if one of them shows I’ll whistle for help.”
Giles shook his head. “But by yourself –“
“I’ll stay with her,” Angel said.
The others were silent, looking at him. Finally Willow gave him a sad smile. “No. You have to face … things.”
Angel looked away.
“Kennedy can handle herself,” Willow continued. “After all, I’m her watcher, kind of, right? I trained her well.” She turned to Kennedy, having missed the look of melancholy that passed over the young slayer’s face. “The room’s prepaid until the end of the month, and long before that I’ll come back to get you.”
Kennedy squeezed Willow’s shoulder, then let go. “Get packed – the sooner you go, the sooner you’ll return.”
While Willow got ready -- and said a private goodbye to Kennedy-- the others headed downstairs for coffee, but in the hallway Angel hung back and touched Xander’s shoulder. The vampire glanced around to make sure they wouldn’t be overheard.
“Sometimes vampires can enter hotel rooms, and sometimes they can’t.”
Xander’s senses bristled, and he wondered if Wolfram and Hart had given Angel the ability to read minds. “Yeah? What’s up with that?”
“It has to do with how much the occupants have made it their home.” Without another word, Angel walked on.
Just like that, Xander knew there was no green demon, no nest of vampires, and no threat to the little town of Star’s Hollow, Connecticut. None, that is, except the threat Giles might pose if he found out.
Xander thought of Cordelia, and of Buffy, and of the earlier expression on Angel's face. The vampire looked like he’d rather go sunbathing in Hawaii than fly to Italy. No, Giles didn’t need to find out what Xander knew – they had enough issues to go through, as it was.