The Potentials were in the front room, draped over furniture and floor and trying hard to look alert and interested. Kennedy had just brought them back from a ten mile run and was critiquing their performance.
“If a vamp were after you would you stop to tie your shoe lace, Molly?”
“N-no, but if I tripped, I might –”
“Shut up, and since you’re so fond of shoes, you can clean everyone’s muddy trainers. Use Vi’s toothbrush as she seems to think that demons let you take a time out to drink water in a fight.”
“I was getting dehydrated! It’s hot out there! The humidity -”
Kennedy’s mouth opened again but she’d lost her audience. Spike and Xander were standing in the doorway, their faces shocked and concerned.
“What’s the matter? Why are you interrupting my debriefing session?” Kennedy demanded, her foot tapping impatiently.
Xander was holding a piece of paper. He clenched it in his fist, biting his lip. “It’s Buffy,” he said. “She asked Willow to – to –”
“Oh, for God’s sake!” interrupted Spike. “We’ll be here all day. Slayer’s had enough. Can’t take all the yapping and the danger. She’s nagged Red into doing a spell to take away her power and she’s left town. Buggered off to her dad in Spain and taken Dawn with her.”
A hum of voices rose as the Potentials began to discuss this, their voices getting shrill with excitement.
“Quiet!” yelled Kennedy. “Xander, Willow never said anything about this to me.”
The look he gave her was cool. “Buffy and she go way back. Buffy knows all the Willow shaped buttons to press, even better than you do.” His words hung in the air and there was a stifled giggle from someone in the corner. “Willow’s never forgiven herself for pulling Buffy out of heaven. Buffy played on that, used it to push her into doing the spell.”
“Girl’s got what she always wanted,” muttered Spike. “She’s normal and she’s well out of all this. Wish her luck.” He looked as if his heart was broken.
Kennedy snorted with contempt. “I can’t believe you’re all missing the point of this. The Slayer’s powers are up for grabs. One of us is going to be the next Slayer.”
“It’s pretty much an instant transfer,” Xander said carefully. “It would have happened an hour ago maybe, when you were out running. Did any of you feel anything?”
Silence and faces fell, feet were shuffled and then Andrew stepped forward, his face glowing. “I did! Oh, I really did. It was like an orgasm but well, the sort you’d get when there was someone else involved, except I don’t really know – but I can imagine it! I felt hot and glowy and there was this sticky feeling but that might have been because I dropped my toast and it had honey on it –”
“’Honey’?” said Rona. “You had honey? I thought we’d run out! I had to make do with low-fat spread!”
Andrew looked shifty. “It was my own jar,” he whined. “I need to keep a balance in my blood sugars or I get mean and sort of testy.”
“Oh, so if Jonathan had offered you a candy bar, you’d have spared him?” Rona said.
Andrew’s eyes filled with tears. “I didn’t mean to do it! I wish I hadn’t. I’ve atoned and it’s not fair to make me remember it over and over and –”
“What is all this crap?” Kennedy demanded. “Andrew, you’re male. You can’t possibly be the Slayer.”
He stiffened, glaring at her from reddened eyes. “Maybe it’s time for a change! And I’m deeply in touch with my feminine side. And think about how I was drawn to this gathering of Potentials. It was meant to be.”
“Easy way to tell,” said Spike. “He’s the only one who thinks he felt something so he gets to prove it. Come on then; have at me and see if you can take me down.”
Andrew’s eyes widened and he squeaked with excitement. “Can I really? But suppose I hurt you? I’d never forgive myself.”
“A Slayer who doesn’t want to hurt vampires. Yeah, that’ll work,” sniffed Kennedy.
“Hey. Soul now, remember?” said Spike coldly.
Kennedy stalked over to him, her nose inches from his. “As far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t change a thing.” She poked him just where a stake would do the most damage and smirked. “Oops, did I touch a tender spot?”
While she’d been talking, Xander and the Potentials had cleared a space and were sitting around the improvised arena, eagerly waiting the battle. Spike brushed past Kennedy and stood facing Andrew. Rolling his head, he morphed into game face. Andrew shrieked in fear and then seemed to gather strength from a mysterious source. Leaping at Spike, he knocked him to the floor and punched him in the face. Spike growled and flung Andrew away, watching as the boy’s body bounced on the sofa. Andrew rolled off and came back fighting, screaming out a battle cry as he launched a kick to Spike’s kneecap that had the vampire writhing in agony on the floor. Andrew whipped out an ornately carved stake and landed heavily on Spike, pinning him to the ground. With a theatrical flourish, he held the stake to his heart.
“And so the vampyr perishes!” he declaimed, waving the stake in the air as Spike’s features changed back to human.
“You can get off me anytime – Slayer,” said Spike.
Kennedy shook her head, her face anguished. “No way. Andrew can’t be the next Slayer. He just can’t be. It should have been me! I’m the best trained, I’m a Scooby –” Spike and Xander’s eyes met, identical expressions of derision on their face – “and I know I can take any of you in a fight!”
In two swift steps, Spike was by her side, her arm twisted up her back, his fangs digging into her neck just enough to hurt.
“Ooh, that’s what he did to me!” squealed Vi. “He’s so fast!”
Kennedy pushed Spike away, her lips trembling, but worse was to come.
“Kennedy,” said Andrew, in calm, measured tone. “I couldn’t help noticing that you came back from the run totally like not sweaty. Why was that?”
“Because she borrowed Dawn’s bike!” blurted out Molly. “She said it would allow her to watch the stragglers but it was just to make it easy for her! It has twenty one gears!”
Andrew nodded slowly. “I thought as much. Kennedy,” he said, his voice ringing with the knowledge that his words were only right and fair, “drop and give me twenty and then go and do that run. And to prove that you are worthy, bring me back three jelly donuts and if any of them have teeth marks, you’ll be on kitchen clean up for the next week.”
“But I’m the Slayer’s second in command,” she protested, her eyes darting around the room, looking for support and finding none.
“You were,” he said arching a supercilious eyebrow. “But I think you’ll find that position is now filled by another.”
“Who?” she demanded with one last flicker of defiance.
“Buffy did not leave us entirely,” he said solemnly. Whirling around, he pointed to the silent onlooker, watching impassively from the mantlepiece.
“A pig? A stuffed pig is your second in command?”
“You have a problem with that?” said Andrew, glaring menacingly at Kennedy as he twirled the stake in his fingers, miraculously not dropping it.
“Uh, no... sir.”
“Then why aren’t I listening to you show me that you can count to twenty?”
As Kennedy began to suffer, Xander and Spike slipped away to the kitchen to bond over beer. Andrew joined them soon after, a wide smile on his face.
“I feel so evil,” he confessed. “But it was fun. Is that very wrong of me?”
“Nah,” said Xander. “But I want to know what she did to get you mad.”
Andrew’s lips thinned. “She said –” He closed his eyes in horror but ploughed on bravely. “She said that the Daleks would only scare a three year old.”
Xander and Spike looked horrified too.
“I’m a vampire,” Spike said firmly, “and they bloody terrify me. It’s the way they move.”
Xander nodded, with a shudder, and Andrew beamed at them happily.
“When will the girls be back, then?” asked Spike, tipping back his bottle and draining it.
Xander shrugged. “They went on a mammoth shopping trip with that money Anya and Giles got from the insurance company who covered the Magic Box. They’ll shop till the mall closes and then they’ll want ice cream.”
Spike’s eyes flickered to the page a day calendar on the wall as he went to the fridge for another beer. It needed updating. Grinning happily, he tore off the one labelled March 31.
“Best make the most of it then,” he said. “Do you think Kidney Bean does laundry? I’ve got some T shirts that are getting a bit ripe.”
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