the bunny warren v. Faith

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With an Alien People Clutching Their Gods - Chapter 3
And the Villages Dirty, and Charging High Prices

Author: Mikelesq
Concept: After Buffy’s death, the Scoobies face a new threat, and one of Glory’s minions devotes his life to the worship of his new goddess. Set during the summer between Seasons 5 and 6 of BtVS.
Rating: PG-13.
Feedback: Please. E-mail Mikelesq@aol.com
Spoilers: Up to the “Bargaining,” Episode of Season 6.
Legal disclaimers: "Buffy the Vampire Slayer” characters and situations are owned by Joss Whedon and the producers of the show. The story is entirely fiction. Distribute if you like. The title, chaper titles, and lines quoted are from T.S. Eliot’s “Journey of the Magi.” Thanks to Estepheia for the plot bunny.

“Are you sure you don’t want me along?” Xander asked, as Giles lifted a pair of stakes off the table and tucked them in his jacket pocket.

“It’s been two weeks, Xander,” Giles answered. “There have been no signs of any vampires searching for the Medallion. Odds are they’re researching, and we should do the same. Spike and I will patrol. You and Anya should continue to look for any information regarding the Medallion’s location. Between your research here, and Willow searching the internet at home, we should make more progress than by randomly patrolling the cemeteries.”

“Yeah, besides,” Spike said, lifting his duster from the Magic Box counter. “We’ll cover more ground on our own. Don’t worry, Harris. If we cross any vampires that need sanding or molding, we’ll ring.”

“Fine,” Xander replied. “And we’ll call you if we need...um, Spike? Do you think our little Tracy-Hepburn routine is getting old?”

Spike scowled. “So, what? Now you want to join a book club together? Grab ‘brewskies’ and brag about the birds we’ve shagged?”

Xander returned Spike’s scowl. “Well, as much as I’d LOVE to hear Drusilla and Harmony stories, I think I’ll pass. Sorry, but I don’t think there’s enough alcohol in the world to make that bearable.”

“That’s better,” Spike said. “You had me worried for a minute. Thought you might finally be getting in touch with that feminine side that keeps popping out when you try to use a weapon more lethal than a rubber band.”

“You know, Spike? Maybe you....”

“Oh, no,” Giles sighed. “That hasn’t grown at all tiresome.”

“You should have heard them during inventory last month,” Anya said, looking up from the book she’d been reading at the table. “They were going at it worse than Mary and Abe Lincoln arguing about postwar Reconstruction.”

Giles blinked, then said:

“That’s a rather obscure historical refer...Anya? Are you saying that...?”

“Giles,” Xander interrupted. “I’ve heard this story, and trust me, you so don’t want to know.”

“No, I suspect I don’t,” Giles agreed. “Lock up when you’re finished.”

Spike followed Giles to the door. The pair exited. Xander and Anya exchanged glances, then Xander walked up to the front window, looking up and down the street.

“They’re gone,” Xander said. “The coast’s clear.”

Anya reached down underneath the table and grabbed a dark leather bag. She opened it, and pulled out Willow’s laptop.

“Have I mentioned I really hate lying to Giles about this?” Xander said as he walked over to the bookcase behind Anya and grabbed the end of a computer cord that rested on a low shelf.

“I’m not crazy about it either,” Anya replied, reaching out her hand and taking the cord from Xander. She plugged the cord into the side port of the laptop, lifted the screen open, and hit the power button. With her other hand, she clasped Xander’s palm, pulling him close.

“You sure you know your way around this computer stuff?” Xander asked, resting his hands on Anya’s shoulders and gently massaging the muscles of her neck.

“Oh, please,” Anya said. “I bought Lexmark at twenty-nine dollars a share. A couple of good double clicks on E*Trade, and I’ll be able to pay for our honeymoon. Assuming, of course, we ever have a wedding.”

Xander’s hands suddenly became motionless.

“Ahn, we’ve talked about this,” Xander sighed. “Things are just too crazy right now.”

“Whatever,” Anya said. “Anyway, I should be able to find some magic urn. If it still exists, that is. It may take some time, though. P-E ratios and mandrake bargains, that I’m good at. The really deep, dark stuff, that’s more Willow’s territory.”

“Willow’s been looking for a month,” Xander said. “And so far, nothing. Tara’s not good with the internet, and Willow thought a second set of eyes might help. Besides, back at the house there’s too much of a risk Dawn might see what she’s up to.”

“I’ll just be glad when this is done,” Anya said. “We bring Buffy back, then she can slay the demons. That way, Willow doesn’t have to be bossy and frightening, and we can get our sex life back on schedule, without any excuses about late night patrolling or restrictive injuries.”

Xander stood stunned for a moment, then said:

“Alright, I can think of about twelve things in that sentence that just scare the living....”

Before Xander could finish, the bell at the Magic Box door rang. Anya and Xander both gasped. Anya quickly closed the laptop screen, hoping that Giles and Spike had not returned early. The pair looked toward the door, then both breathed a sigh of relief as they saw Jinx standing at the entrance.

“Oh, it’s you,” Xander sneered. “What are you doing here?”

“Willow, at the direction of Her Most Complete Perfection, asked that I bring this tome for your examination,” Jinx explained, walking to the table and handing Anya a thin, dusty book.

“Oh, yes,” Anya replied, glancing at the cover. “The McConnell Journal. He lived with Prythh demons for six years. He was like Dian Fossey. Granted, Dian Fossey never threw goats into a volcano to summon weather spirits, but no metaphor is perfect.”

“That may help with the Medallion,” Xander said.

“Probably not,” Anya said. “There’s not much to the Prythh. They’re kind of purple. Strong, but not that strong. Less than vampire strong, actually. They’re pretty smart, though. This Orad creature probably just wants it because he wants it.”

“Worth checking anyway,” Xander said. “Alright, Jinx. You can leave.”

“Well...perhaps there is something more I can do here,” Jinx offered.

“That’s alright,” Xander said sarcastically. “If we need anybody to kidnap us for an evil god, we’ll page you.”

“Surely there must be something I can do,” Jinx implored.

“Shouldn’t you be off doting on Buffy?” Anya asked.

“Well, I was,” Jinx said. “But I am not sure that I have been of much use to her this evening. The Almighty Goddess seems to be...frustrated...by my inability to help her with a form of humor that occupies the majority of her attention. It seems, if I understand the premise, that one party to the witticism pretends to be at a closed door, while the other pretends to knock at the door, not by pantomiming a knocking motion, but rather by exclaiming....”

“Say no more,” Xander interrupted. “We get it.”

“You know,” Anya said, turning to Xander. “He could help you move those boxes of S’Nithar bones that came in yesterday. We really should get those put away until Kaagora’s Solstice. No one’s going to want them until the fertility rituals.”

“Ahn,” Xander said. “We’ve discussed this.”

“Would you rather he went back to the Summers’ house?” Anya asked. “Spend some quality time with ‘Buffy,’ getting to know her better?”

Xander’s jaw clenched as he absorbed this. Anya was right. The less time Jinx spent with the Buffybot, the less chance he would find out his goddess was a walking, talking lawn mower.

“Alright,” Xander sighed. “Jinx, I’ll meet you down in the basement.”

Jinx smiled, then walked to the basement door, opened it, and descended the stairway. When the door had closed behind Jinx, Xander said:

“Anya, I don’t like having that...thing here.”

“Well, we’re stuck with him,” Anya replied, lifting the screen on the laptop. “At least until we can figure out how to get rid of him.”

“Maybe,” Xander said. “It would just be a lot easier if the ‘Bot was a little more convincing. I mean, we needed to do something, but the knock-knock jokes and pie pan metaphors aren’t going to keep the demons from figuring out that Buffy isn’t her normal, quippy self.”

“I really wish Willow would get that out of the Buffybot’s system,” Anya complained. “That book we gave her on the history of American humor really isn’t helping with the battlefield wisecracks.”

“It could be worse,” Xander replied. “Remember the time she saw that Gallagher special on the comedy channel?”

“Don’t remind me,” Anya said. “Thank god we finally sold the Troll Hammer to that collector from Phoenix. I don’t think the grocery store would be very happy if they got another visit from a super-strong blonde girl smashing the produce and yelling ‘It’s the All New Sledge-o-Matic!’ I never did get the watermelon stains out of my blouse.”

“Well, Willow seems to think it’ll work itself out,” Xander said.

“Why doesn’t she just make it stop?” Anya asked. “Flip the humor switch to ‘off’ or something?”

“I asked,” Xander responded. “She said it’s not that simple. It took Willow a month just to get the ‘Spike-is-sexy’ comments down to once a week. Whatever software that Warren guy used to program the ‘Bot, it’s pretty complicated, and Willow doesn’t have the original code to completely know how her mind works. Apparently she’s designed to absorb whatever stuff she sees or hears, then the information gets all scrambled through the whole system. So, once she gets an idea in her head, it’s pretty much stuck.”

“Great,” Anya groaned. “So if she sees an episode of ‘The Sopranos,’ I guess we can all look forward to getting whacked.”

“Shouldn’t be a problem,” Xander said. “First, they don’t get HBO. Second, Willow said she made one of those...things...um...where you copy everything?”

“A backup?”

“Yeah, that’s it. After the jokes got out of hand, Willow plugged the Buffybot into something and duplicated all of her stuff. That way, if the ‘Bot starts in on something else, we can just put her back the way she was.”

“Speaking of bringing back Buffy,” Anya said. “I check my email. None of our major suppliers have any leads on the urn. I’m still waiting from my guy in Madrid, but if he doesn’t know anything, we’re pretty much out of luck.”

“Well, keep at it,” Xander said. “I’d better go check on our new stock boy.”

“Have fun,” Anya called, as Xander opened the door to the basement and started down the stairs.

Xander descended into the basement. He had no expectation that he would ‘have fun,’ but the subject of Buffy’s possible return had arisen again, and he did not want to continue the conversation with Anya where it had left off before Jinx’s arrival. Of course, Xander knew that avoiding the discussion did not amount to a resolution, but...well, the boxes weren’t going to move themselves.

As he reached the bottom of the stairs, Xander saw Jinx standing before the boxes, his hands folded before him.

“We need to get these against the back wall,” Xander said, brushing against Jinx as he walked past him, lifting the first box.

“As you wish,” Jinx agreed, stooping to pick up another of the boxes. “I am just pleased to be assisting Her Most Delightful and her minions.”

“Friends,” Xander corrected, dropping his box against the wall. “Among us non-murderous types, we prefer ‘friends.’ We’re funny that way.”

“That’s fine,” Jinx said, depositing his own box on top of Xander’s. “Whatever pleases The Everlasting One.”

“Look, Jinx,” Xander said. “Doesn’t this seem...screwy to you? I mean, you help Glory do all that evil stuff, now you help Buffy fight evil. You see where I’m going with this?”

“Oh, the purpose is of no consequence,” Jinx replied, lifting another box. “My adoration is for a much more noble end.”

“And that would be?”

“For love,” Jinx proclaimed.

Xander paused, not expecting that response. Finally, he said:

“For love? I mean, you think that Buffy loves you?”

“I love her,” Jinx shrugged, placing the box in his arms beside the first two. “And she allows me to shower my devotion upon her. What more could I ask? My Goddess honors me by allowing a loathsome wretch such as myself to serve her. I attended to Glory in return for that honor, and now I have that privilege with Buffy.”

“Huh,” Xander grunted. “So, the way you see it, loving...I mean...worshipping someone means putting up with the bad stuff? I mean, you just count your blessings?”

“Precisely,” Jinx said. “For example, Glory would often send us to steal clothes on her behalf. On one occasion, I hurled my body through the glass window of a small boutique, and the glass shards buried themselves in my eyes. But it was worth it, just to see the look on her face when I returned with a blue Chanel suit that flattered her most perfect figure.”

“How did you see her face with glass shards in your eyes?”

“Well, I had to squint.”

“Hey, Jinx,” Xander said, lowering his voice and leaning forward. “Did Glory ever send you out to get...feminine...stuff?”

“Well,” Jinx said. “Glory did insist that any dresses we purloined required a decolletage to flatter her....”

“No, no, no,” Xander interrupted. “I mean...you know what I mean. FEMININE stuff. You know...like...tampons?”

“Oh,” Jinx said. “Well, Glory’s hormonal changes were...well...of a...supernatural nature.”

“I hear ya, man,” Xander said. “I hate it when Anya sends me out for that stuff. And she always asks like it’s nothing. ‘Oh, you’re going to put gas in the car? Pick up some tampons while you’re out.’ Like one has anything to do with the other.”

“Um, Glory did not have an automobile, so....”

“So you swing by the grocery store,” Xander continued. “And, of course, it’s a girl at the checkout. She scans the price, and they always give you this look. Why the look? I mean, it’s one thing if you’re buying panty hose, because, hey, possible transvestite. But why the look when you’re buying tampons? They KNOW you’re buying them for your girlfriend! Heck, they have boyfriends. They send THEIR boyfriends out to by tampons. What’s with the look?”

“I...I...I do not know the answer to that.”

“God’s own mystery,” Xander said.

“I do not claim to know the reasons behind the choices of the Divine Ones,” Jinx said. “I simply bask in the glow of their most holy attention.”

“Yeah,” Xander sighed. He turned to get another box, then looked at Jinx and said:

“Hey, Jinx? Did you ever wonder what would happen if, maybe, as time went on, you just couldn’t take it? If maybe love wouldn’t be enough? I mean, sure, you can figure it all out, add it all up, and know that you’re a really lucky guy. But, what if, years down the road, all the little stuff starts piling up and you find yourself just tired and angry and sitting on the couch drinking yourself numb and just dreading every moment and...well, did you ever wonder?”

“Well, no,” Jinx replied. “I cherish every moment that My Goddess gives me. I can think of no time that her attention would bring me anything but joy.”

“Uh, yeah,” Xander muttered. “Me neither.”

Xander leaned against the stack of boxes, staring at the ground. Then he looked up, and said:

“Um, look, Jinx, maybe you should go upstairs and see if Anya needs your help. I just need...um, I mean, I can finish up down here.”

“If you wish,” Jinx said. He turned and walked toward the stairs.

“Hey, Jinx,” Xander called.

Jinx paused at the foot of the stairs.

“Um,” Xander started. “Look, sorry about...I mean, thanks for...well, nice job with the boxes.”

Jinx smiled, then ascended the stairs.

Upstairs, Jinx found Anya sitting at the table, smiling, with a bemused look on her face as she stared at the laptop screen.

“I was instructed to see if you required any assistance,” Jinx stated as he reached the table.

“Nah,” Anya responded. “I’m just taking a break. I found some stuff on that medallion. Most of it is in some weird language I’ve never seen before.”

Anya gestured toward a small printer she had set up beside the laptop. Several printed pages were piled beside it. Jinx looked at the top page, which had a black-and-white picture of an inscribed disk printed in the upper right corner. Lines of text in a vaguely Arabic alphabet surrounded the picture.

“The language is unfamiliar to me as well,” Jinx said.

“Eh, no big,” Anya said. “That’s what Willow and Giles are for. Hey, Jinx? What do you think of this? Do you think three thousand dollars is too expensive?”

Anya pivoted the laptop so that the screen faced Jinx. He looked at the web page, which showed a young woman wearing a flowing white bridal gown.

“Well, she is a lovely creature,” Jinx said. “But it was my understanding that human slavery had been abolished.”

“The dress, not the girl,” Anya explained. “And yes, slavery has been abolished, most places. Here for about a hundred odd years. Of course, they fought a big war over it, and there was this one couple that...well, anyway. What do you think of the dress?”

“It is very flattering.”

“I’ll say,” Anya sighed. “But it’s a little out of my price range. I mean, right now it’s only at about two grand, but there’s six hours left before the bidding closes, and with the normal retail price...well, anyway, no sense getting my hopes up. There’s no room on E-Bay for the sentimental.”

“Is there an occasion approaching that requires you to have such a dress? Perhaps some feast day in honor of Buffy?”

“Not everything has to do with Buffy,” Anya grumbled. “At least, that’s MY lonely opinion. Sometimes, I wish...whoa! Can’t say that. You’d think I’d know better. No wonder I had such an easy time of it.”

Jinx stood in silence, finding himself, yet again, uncertain of a proper response.

“Have you ever been married, Jinx?” Anya asked.

“Oh, no,” Jinx said. “Serving Glorificus required total devotion.”

“C’mon,” Anya said. “I mean, even minions have needs.”

“We require food and clothing, like most creatures,” Jinx agreed.

“No, needs,” Anya said. “You know? Neeeeeeeeeds? Sexual needs?”

“Oh, yes,” Jinx said. “Ahem, well, the ecstasy from Glory’s attention was more than enough to satisfy my....”

“So you and Glory had sex?”

“Oh, Heaven’s no!” Jinx exclaimed. “Glory would never lower herself to couple with a minion!”

“Well, then,” Anya said. “You couldn’t have spent every moment serving Glory.”

Jinx drew a deep breath, made a cautionary glance over his shoulder, then leaned forward and whispered:

“There was a fellow minion whose...company...I kept.”

“Neat,” Anya giggled, leaning toward Jinx.

“Her name was Reeks,” Jinx said.

“Oh, how...pretty.”

“A lovelier creature you have never seen,” Jinx sighed. “She had the most exquisite valleys in the skin of her face.”

“Well, not to brag, but back when I was...oh, sorry. You were saying?”

“We would often steal away in the wee hours of the morning, as Glory slept,” Jinx continued in a hushed tone. “We would lay on the roof, holding each other as we stared at the stars.”

“How romantic,” Anya said. “Um, Jinx? Why are you whispering?”

“Oh, I am sorry,” Jinx said. “Force of habit. Reeks and I went to great pains to keep the nature of our relationship a secret.”

Anya sat straight up. “Oh, you...I mean, the two of you agreed not to tell anyone?”

“Yes, both of us,” Jinx answered. “Both. It was a joint decision. Between the two of us. We were in absolute agreement.”

“Really?”

“Well, truth be told, it was Reeks who was rather...adamant about concealing our relationship. She felt that, for the good of our service to Glory, it would be best if no one knew.”

“But you weren’t so sure?”

“I...I thought that perhaps...Glory never specifically prohibited her minions from having relations with each other. But Reeks thought it would dishonor Glory if we were to even suggest that our attention was even slightly diverted from Glory’s endeavors.”

“Hmm,” Anya said, her face falling slightly. “So, where is Reeks now?”

“I do not know,” Jinx said. “After Glory disappeared, we of course hoped that she would someday return. When it became obvious that Glory had abandoned us, Reeks became depressed. She said she needed time. I suggested that perhaps we should seek a new god together, but there was only one god for Reeks. One day she just...left. I have not seen her since.”

“I’m sorry,” Anya said quietly. “That must have been awful.”

“I certainly understood her feelings,” Jinx said. “I was as distraught as any when we lost Glory. But, still, I had hoped that Reeks’ feelings for me would be enough to....”

Jinx swallowed, then took a forced breath.

“Hey, Jinx,” Anya said, leaning forward. This time, it was Anya’s voice that dropped to a whisper. “Did you ever wonder if maybe...well, if maybe Reeks kept everything secret for another reason? Like, maybe it just wasn’t out of respect for Glory? Maybe he...I mean, maybe SHE kept it quiet so she could get out of it? Maybe she just wasn’t sure about the two of you?”

“I have thought that,” Jinx admitted. “Of course, if she did feel that way, it would be understandable. We did not lead normal lives. I had seen many minions try to maintain relationships with each other. None were successful. I often laughed at them, called them fools for believing that they could succeed where so many others had failed. Still, I had hoped that Reeks and I were...different.”

“Yeah, I get that. Between you and me, sometimes I....”

Anya was interrupted by a sharp ‘beep’ from the laptop. She turned the screen toward her, and guided the cursor to the new window with the touchpad.

“A development?” Jinx inquired.

“Nah,” Anya said, clicking on icons. “Willow wrote a program for us that automatically monitors websites that sell things, in case any of the stuff might be magic. Someone probably just put some wolfsbane up for bid at a discount below the going rate of....”

Anya’s voice trailed off as she absorbed the image before her. Her eyes widened. She jumped up out of her chair and screamed:

“Holy copulation! That’s it!”

Jinx stared in stunned silence as he heard pounding footsteps coming up the basement stairs. The door to the basement flew open, and Xander rushed to Anya’s side.

“What’s wrong!?” Xander asked. “Did something...?”

“I found it!” Anya exclaimed.

“What? The medallion?”

“No, I found IT!” Anya repeated, pointing frantically at the screen.

“Huh?” Xander said, leaning down toward the screen. He read a few lines of text, then gasped:

“Oh, my god! A-a-are you sure that’s it? I mean, it looks like a flower pot.”

“Move,” Anya said, shouldering Xander out of the way. After a couple of clicks, the printer on the table hummed and whined. A sheet of paper began a slow descent into the printer.

“I bookmarked the page,” Anya said, trying to catch her breath. “We’ll need Willow to be sure, but I’m pretty sure...wow! After just one night! Yay, me!”

Xander threw his arms around Anya, lifted her into the air, and kissed her full on the mouth. He released her, and playfully growled:

“You know, computer savvy women are such a turn on!”

Anya scowled. “Xander! I’m the one who found the urn! And she’s been gay for over...oh, you mean me!”

“Has something good happened?” Jinx wondered.

“You bet it has,” Xander said. “Real good. The best thing ever. It’s a secret, though. That is, Buffy said to keep it a secret.”

“So Buffy will be pleased?” Jinx asked.

“Oh, yeah,” Xander said. “I think this’ll make her happier than she’s ever been. Everything will be perfect.”

“Here,” Anya said, releasing herself from Xander’s grasp and grabbing the printed sheet from the paper tray along with the information on the medallion. “Take these to Willow. Tell her it’s VERY important that she call us at home tonight and let us know whether we should keep going. Remember, only give these to WILLOW!”

“Of course,” Jinx said, taking the papers from Anya.

“Quickly,” Anya said. “There aren’t any bids yet. Our only real chance is to make a deal privately.”

“Are you sure we can get it?” Xander asked.

“Are you kidding me?” Anya shot back. “It’s pre-bid! We can go to him directly. Once we start negotiating I’ll have him begging to sell it. I’ll be throwing deals at him that’ll knock him on his sandy gnome ass!”

“That’s my girl,” Xander said, throwing an arm around Anya’s shoulder.

Xander and Anya gazed lovingly into each other’s eyes. Anya rested her head against Xander’s chest, then realized that Jinx was still standing before them.

“You,” Anya said. “Go now. We need to celebrate naked. Move it.”

“Oh, yes,” Jinx said. “As you command.”

Jinx turned and hurried out of the shop.

“You think we can trust him to keep it close to the vest?” Anya asked.

“Yeah,” Xander said. “I mean, he seems...well...he’s something.”

“Yeah,” Anya said. “He’s...quite a piece of work.”

“Yeah.”

With her head on Xander’s chest, Anya could not see the hint of misgiving that had crept into Xander’s face. Of course, that also meant that Xander could not see the hint of misgiving in Anya’s own eyes.

All traces of apprehension were gone from both of their expressions as Anya looked up at Xander. He smiled, and she smiled back.

“C’mon, beautiful,” Xander whispered. “Let’s go home.”


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