Took Hold 23
The training room in the back of the Magic Box was coming along nicely with Xander and Riley adding the final touches. Xander stepped back to admire his handy work. //Stuffing’s uneven on that side//.
He opened the dummy’s shirt and was reminded of the scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz. Xander’s thoughts still revolved around a certain blonde vampire, and he had new resolve to wear Spike down.
The Scooby couldn’t ever remember a time when Spike was actively pursued, and he planned to hang around the blonde until Spike caved.
The dummy he was building tilted its head curiously at him as he readjusted its chest. Riley passed behind him with a new set of weights, and Xander frowned. The ex-soldier had been a total grouch all day, but there didn’t seem to be a reason for it.
“Is it hot in here to you?” Riley dumped the weights on a mat and noisily arranged them on their rack as he spoke.
“Uh...no, actually it’s a little cool.” The Scooby looked hard at Riley, examining him. The sandy-haired man was breathing heavily and sweating even though he wasn’t exerting himself much. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing. Just--restless...” He got up and paced the room, sighing. “You ever feel expendable? Being just a person?”
“You mean not being a demon or having superpowers?” Xander half-smiled. “All the time.” Recently there was never a moment when he didn’t think about it.
The dark-haired human had come to an interesting conclusion. He was a vulnerable mortal, but he was far from untouched by the Hellmouth. In the past five years, Xander had been possessed by a hyena and a soldier, dated a mummy, had a love spell backfire on him, and been poisoned by fish steroids. The joining spell they’d used to defeat Adam had exposed him to the powers of the people he loved.
Before he’d graduated high school, he’d been attacked by countless demons, lost his virginity to a Slayer, and helped save the world no less than three times. In recent history he’d been enthralled by Dracula, split into two aspects of himself, and had wild, vampiric sex with half of the Scourge of Europe. And now, he was unofficially dating a vampire and it was going to work, damn it.
Xander was a changed man, and he knew it. He was stronger for what he’d been through.
“Yeah, not having an edge on the enemy…it bothers me. Especially watching everyone else get stronger and change--like I’m getting left behind.”
Xander finished working on the dummy and started packing up his tools. “The way I see it, humans get to be the rarity on the Hellmouth. We’re the special ones, because we get to just be people sometimes. The fact that regular guys can fight the big evil and help avert apocalypses--that just makes it more of an accomplishment if we aren’t killed in the process.” He grinned, honestly believing it.
The former soldier didn’t look convinced. “It’s just that...in the Initiative, everyone in your rank was the same level. You knew who to take orders from and who you were equal to...Is it weird to miss it?” Riley walked over and hit the punching bag once. “I mean, at least there, I knew I was working with other humans. I could do everything they did, and I knew who to fight...who to hate...”
“Give yourself time to get used to civilian life. You’ve only been at it for a few months. And it’s not weird to want to know where you stand, but the world is just one big grey area. Have you talked to Buffy about this?”
“Buffy. I’m supposed to complain about being normal and invisible to the Chosen One, the most unique girl I ever met? Not happening.”
“She’s a pretty regular girl when she’s not fighting demons and you know it. Remember frat parties? Family issues? Psych class?”
“Where she saves the frat parties from demons, saves her family from zombies, and has to kill the abomination her professor created...sounds like normal to me. I just wish I could be up there with her. Touch the supernatural like she does...”
Xander thought for a minute about ‘touching’ the supernatural and flashes of his little threesome/orgy with Spike, Angel, and Angelus invaded his head. Blushing, he commented, “It’s not all it’s cracked up to be--”
Riley groaned softly as he fell to the floor, curling himself into a ball.
The brunette rushed over to him. “Giles! Come quick!”
“What happened to him, Xander?” The watcher appeared in the doorway, box cutter in hand. He quickly approached the unconscious man and checked him over.
“I don’t know. He started acting wiggy; then he just fell down. Giles, is he gonna be okay?”
“Call an ambulance. His heart is beating much too rapidly, I’m afraid.”
BLISS TOOK HOLD 24