It Starts With Faith
Sinking down onto the always comfortable leather seat of Lil' Butchy, Faith frowned at her outfit.
"Here," Giles sighed good naturedly. "Give it to me. I don't think driving with that on is wise."
"Thanks," Faith said with a lopsided grin, stepping off of Lil' Butchy to quickly remove the traditional clothes for graduation. "You have my weird hat too, right?"
"Yes, I have the weird hat," murmured Giles. He was quiet for a moment then reaching out, he gently pulled Faith in for a hug. "Words cannot properly express how proud I am of you. You truly are an exceptional person Faith."
"G-man," said Faith roughly, burying herself in his arms. "I... you know I love you, right?"
"Yes," said Giles, smiling. "And I you."
Blinking back her tears, Faith gave a short nod then said, "I better get goin'... sweets is all alone and--"
"Go," Giles encouraged, smiling softly. "We'll get together for dinner and celebrate then." His eyes twinkled and he murmured, "Just one of the many benefits of living in the same complex of townhouses, I would think."
"Yeah," Faith laughed. "Got that right." Turning to look around Giles, she saw the rest of her friends and wore a grin as she said, "See you guys later?"
"Try and keep us away," Amy began with a smile. "You're providing free food and a party."
Shaking her head, Faith sat on Lil' Butchy and snapped her helmet into place as she gave her friends a crooked smile. "See you tonight!" she called, waving to them before starting the motorcycle and driving off.
Giles observed this departure with Amy, Buffy, and Willow then said, "I should go as well." He smiled at them then said, "I still need to get her gift ready."
"Ohh, gift," the girls all said together, waving goodbye as Giles rushed off to meet up with Jenny.
Everything was silent then Amy finally said, "It was weird, Cordelia not being here with us."
"I know," said Buffy. "It felt strange... her not being here." She frowned then added, "Almost as strange as my Mom bringing David to my graduation."
"David's nice," Willow commented quietly. "He seems to really care about your Mom."
"I guess," Buffy reluctantly admitted. "But it was too strange for me." She studied Willow for a moment and noting the wistful expression she wore, Buffy reached out to hold her hand. "Hey," she smiled. "It's all right. We'll be back in the fall. No need to get mopey on us."
"Ha," Willow showed just a hint of tongue while forming a peevish expression. "Very funny."
Watching them, Amy said, "I'm officially lost."
"Wills likes it here," Buffy revealed in low tones. "I don't think she's happy we're graduated from our all too temporary High School campus at UCS. Despite the fact we'll be back here in the fall as College Freshman."
"Ahhh," said Amy wisely. "That's a conundrum."
"A conun-what?" asked Buffy.
Before Amy could respond, a flash of a camera overtook them all and Amy grimaced severely before she took in the person who did it.
"Daddy!" Amy exclaimed, putting her hands on her hips. "I told you stop with the camera stalking!"
"But precious," Ed began, holding up the camera while behind him Stephanie rolled her eyes. "You got to know this is one of the hallmarks of your life. I need lots of pictures to celebrate it properly and to show your kids when you get older. Don't you see?"
"No, Daddy," Amy said rather petulantly, heaving a sigh. "I don't see and please, for the love of whoever, I'd appreciate it if you didn't talk to me about reproducing. I just graduated from High School, I'm not ready to get fat!"
"Your mother was actually halfway decent when she was pregnant with you," commented Ed, looking a bit dreamy. "Motherhood is a wondrous thing."
Amy's only response was another grimace. Meanwhile, Buffy and Willow observed them and felt very grateful their parents had let them be after the traditional hour of 'my baby's growing up' stuff. And that they had been somewhat calm about taking their picture.
"You're right," whispered Willow with a smile. "Amy's Dad is a lot like Xander. It's scary."
"I know," Buffy snickered. "Scarily funny."
While they said this, Amy had the hundred and fourth picture of herself taken since graduation began.
"Ah, graduation. Men wearing dresses and crying. Parents swarming around their spawn. And, of course, girls giving near groping and hysteric hugs. This is the embodiment of the wholesome American tradition, yes it is."
Zooming in on one of the football players covering his face with his arm to hide his unmanly tears, Xander had a smirk as he added, "These are the days of our lives."
"Hoping to work for a soap opera one day?"
Blinking, Xander moved his gaze from his camera and looked at the person who said this. It was a man in his late thirties or early forties, dressed casually in a pair of tan khakis and a plain black shirt, his chestnut hair windblown.
"Nice camera," the man commented, seeing that Xander wasn't about to reply to him. "Sony, right?"
"Yeah," Xander finally answered. "Brand new, top of the line. A friend gave it to me."
"Nice friend," the man grinned. He tilted his head to one side then said, "You're probably wondering who I am and why I'm talking to you."
"Yes," said Xander very slowly. "I'm hoping you don't want a date because I'm not sure how to politely say no, despite being heterosexual down to my last cell."
"I don't want a date," chuckled the man. "Though you are a handsome young man. I'm Wyatt Jenson, head of the film and video department for UCS."
"Oh," Xander said with more understanding, his eyes glinting with humor. "So you were only interested in my camera this entire time. My ego is simply crushed."
"You'll get over it, I'm sure," Wyatt drawled in teasing tones. He stepped closer to Xander and leaned forward. "May I?" he asked politely, gesturing towards the camera, wanting to see the footage.
"Sure," said Xander easily. "Just let me get it out of record." Doing this, he handed the camera over to the other man. "The lighting is off in some shots," he said in a way of explanation. "I'm going to go back and fix it in the editing process. You guys have machines here, right?"
"Sure do," replied Wyatt. His brow furrowed, a wisp of a smile crossed his features as he watched all the footage Xander had gotten from graduation. "It's good," he said, looking up at Xander. "And I'm sure with some editing it will be even better." Handing the camera back to Xander, his smile widened. "I have to say, I look forward to seeing you in my Fundamentals of Video class. I usually just get students who want what they think is an easy A, not ones who actually enjoy the art of film making."
"Oh," Xander echoed again. Averting his eyes from Wyatt's he stared at his camera and adjusted the settings as he said, "I'm not going here in the fall."
"Ah," said Wyatt wisely. "Going to a better school then? UCLA or NYU? Can't say I fault you."
"No," Xander shook his head, looking definitely uncomfortable now, despite how nice Wyatt was. "I mean I'm not going to any schools. I have financial issues in the fact that I have no finances. Neither do my parents, or the few finances they do have can't be spent on something as whimsical as my higher education."
Studying him for a long moment, Wyatt asked, "What's your name? You never said."
"Xander Harris," replied Xander, meeting his eyes.
"Well, Mr. Harris," began Wyatt slowly. "Tell me this: do you like filming things? Making movies?"
"Sure," Xander said, looking perplexed. "It's fun and I like working with cameras. But what--"
"Good," Wyatt interrupted. "That's all I need to know. I'll give you the entire summer to make me a film, any film you want, and if it's good enough to impress me I'll help your financial problems go away." He formed a smile then added, "At least the ones involving UCS."
"Why?" whispered Xander, his eyes wide.
"Because," Wyatt said softly, smiling still. "Someone once gave me the same chance. Besides," his eyes gleamed a bit mischievously now. "I said if the film is good enough to impress me. Ask around, I'm no easy grader. So... are you willing to give it a try?"
"Until the end of the summer?" asked Xander.
"Yup," said Wyatt, giving a nod.
Reaching out to grasp Wyatt's hand in a firm handshake, Xander grinned and said, "Then that's when you'll see my very first film, Professor."
"Glad to hear it, Mr. Harris," Wyatt smiled.
Everyone at the party stared at Xander for a moment before they all started talking at once. Then after another moment, they were all quiet and Amy spoke first.
"Honey!" Amy cried, wrapping Xander up in a tight hug from where she sat on his lap. "I'm so happy for you! I just know you'll do well!"
They were at the small complex of townhouses that Cordelia had recently bought for her, Faith, Giles, and Jenny to live in. Faith and Cordelia living in alone in one of the townhouses while Giles and Jenny respectively took residence in the two on either side of them.
Faith and Cordelia's messy and cluttered residence was the setting for the graduation party they were having. It was messy and cluttered, yes, but it already had a warm feeling that everyone enjoyed. The feeling of home.
Especially Xander who finally decided to spill the good news about his encounter with Wyatt today. None of his usual skepticism remained with him either. Mostly due to the research he immediately did on Wyatt after speaking with the man. He didn't lie, he was the head of the film and video department for UCS. Not only that, he was also a graduate of NYU's illustrious film school and had quite a few films under his belt. Some that Xander had seen.
All of this meant three things. Wyatt and his offer were legit, Xander had a shot at going to college, and his footage had properly impressed a real film maker.
When Xander told his friends the news he was wearing the biggest smile they ever saw him wear. A smile they all returned as they gave him their congratulations.
"It's a good thing I gave you that camera," Cordelia said, her eyes sparkling as she leaned into Faith who had her arm around her waist. "Especially since you did turn down the other offer I made you."
"This is different," said Xander softly, looking up at Cordelia solemnly. "I couldn't take that much from you, Cordelia. I'd... feel like such a mooch, a loser, but when you gave me that camera..." He shook his head. "It was a great way to help me make it on my own." Grinning wryly, he shrugged. "Who would've thought?"
"Me," Amy said, kissing him firmly. Pulling away she cupped his cheek and said, "You'll make the best film."
"Yeah," said Faith with a nod. "He's gotta when he has all of us behind him, offerin' to help."
"You guys?" asked Xander, moving around Amy to look at everyone gathered. "You mean...?"
"Xander Harris," said Willow, taking a step forward and beaming widely. "You're looking at your very own film crew. How can we be of assistance?"
"Besides being made into sparkly monsters," Buffy put in quickly, smiling impishly.
Looking at all of his friends and seeing their proud faces, Xander blinked back his tears and coughing, he said, "Well, I could really use some people to interview about the focus of my documentary."
"Oh?" said Giles, pushing up his glasses and looking curious. "And what is that going to be?"
When Xander gave a slow smile, they all exchanged a wary look amongst themselves.
"I don't think you should've asked that," Jenny commented from where she sat next to Giles.
"Yes, I'm thinking that myself," said Giles dimly.
"So," Buffy enforced, looking impatient. "What's the focus of the documentary going to be?"
And when Xander gave his answer, Buffy found herself thinking much the same thing as Giles.
That she never should've asked.
Amy watched with fondness as Xander wandered through the burned remains of Sunnydale High School, his voice solemn as he related the day of its demise.
It was their third day of filming the high school and today Xander was giving his narrative while filming. Amy couldn't help but be a little bit glad they were done filming their former school. She found it rather creepy and part of her wondered after seeing Xander's footage of the actual explosion if they might come back.
This thought caused her to shiver.
Shiver and wonder why all of their friends had to be busy today. Faith and Cordelia were caught up in some strange wave of decorating frenzy with their townhouse. It didn't help that the couple was also caught up in helping Giles and Jenny with their own decorating. Amy supposed that was what happened when you had four people who were close moving in next to each other at the same time.
Then there was Willow who was in L.A. with Charlie and Derrick, getting copies of their first album made at extraordinarily cheap prices. Amy couldn't help but think this was a good thing since she'd love nothing more than to have her own Prophecy Girl cd.
Chuckling without helping it, Amy recalled the woebegone sound of Buffy's voice when she relayed her plans for the day. Apparently Joyce was making her spend the day with David so they could get to know each other better.
All of which meant that Amy was alone with Xander for today's filming. Which normally wouldn't be a bad thing. She did love her boyfriend, but the school...
It was just so creepy.
"All right snookie wookums," Xander drawled playfully, approaching his girlfriend. "We're all done here." Amy breathed a sigh of relief as Xander adjusted the settings on the video camera. "The sewers are next."
"The... sewers...?" repeated Amy slowly, her face etched with horrified disbelief.
"Yup," said Xander with a nod, walking past Amy and towards her car. Much like Buffy predicted, all it took for him to get back inside it was a cute pout from Amy. "It'll be good to get some shots of their natural environment."
"Yeah," Amy said even more slowly. "Good."
Turning around as he reached her car, Xander grinned and said, "C'mon! We should get the shots before nightfall. That way I won't have to set up the lighting!"
"We're just filming the sewer today then?" Amy called out hopefully.
Xander laughed at this and replied, "I wish! We've got to film it for a week at least to get the right shots."
"I'm a good girlfriend," murmured Amy to herself, walking towards her Lincoln Towncar, knowing she'd soon be driving it towards the nearest sewer. "I'm way too good a girlfriend, way too good..."
Most everyone who knew Amy would have to be inclined to agree with her on this.
Faith squinted at the camera as the red light blinked at her. She was sitting comfortably on the one of the stools in front of the counter in the kitchen. Leaning against its wooden back, she swiveled in it slightly.
Over a week had passed and the house was finally in order, making Faith and Cordelia feel utterly at home in their new surroundings. In this time, Xander had gotten his needed footage of the high school and the sewers.
That meant it was time to start the interviews.
"What am I supposed to say again?" Faith asked Xander, who was adjusting the camera.
"Just answer my questions truthfully," said Xander, not looking up as he moved the tripod. He wanted to have the perfect shot for all of his interviews.
"Say the truth, gotcha," said Faith with a nod. A quiet thump sounded and Faith grinned as she saw Monet sitting next to her in the right stool. "Hey kitty," she gave a low chuckle. "You wanna be on camera too?"
Monet merely looked at Faith with lidded eyes, purring as she rubbed his head gently.
"All right," Xander said, looking up at them. "Time to get started. You ready, Faith?"
"Ready and rarin' to go," Faith replied, grinning.
"Okay, in three we start," explained Xander, moving behind the camera and looking at his subject.
"No problem," said Faith easily.
"One... two... three," Xander said before pushing the record button and looking at Faith who almost seemed to be squirming. It didn't surprise him really, he knew that the dark Slayer hated being filmed, despite the carefree air she had been presenting earlier. Which was why he truly appreciated her support all the more. "Faith, when was your first encounter with the toilet demons?"
"Uhm, never," Faith said a bit reluctantly, looking nervous and somewhat fidgety. Her hands reached down to lightly scratch Monet's head and he purred. "There was that one time you wanted me to get them and all, but the bathroom was empty so I just left, y'know?"
"So you've never seen them?" Xander pursued, zooming in on Faith who frowned.
"Nope," said Faith, shaking her head.
"Do you believe in them?"
Faith's face constricted in a thoughtful expression that made her look adorable. "I dunno," she admitted. "I've seen a lotta weird stuff so I can see them being around. It's a bit wacky to imagine though, but still... I trust you if you say that they're around." Faith grinned now. "My answer's yes then, I believe in them, thanks to you."
Just then, they heard the sound of the front door opening. "I'm home!" Cordelia's voice called out.
The tall vampire was soon walking into the kitchen and not noticing the camera or Xander, she walked over to Faith and kissed her soundly. Moving away, Cordelia brushed another soft kiss on Faith's forehead then murmured, "Studying for the GED is almost worse than going to high school itself. Can you even imagine?"
"How long is the test again?" Faith teased, reaching for Cordelia's waist and pulling the other girl close.
"Don't start," said Cordelia with a groan. Turning in Faith's arms, she leaned back into the Slayer who had her chin resting on the top of her shoulder. It was then she saw Xander and his camera which was recording them. "Oh!" she exclaimed, embarrassed. "Did I interrupt? Do you want me to leave so you can start over?"
"Nah," Xander chuckled. "This is a documentary. Real life, remember? Now I can interview you too."
"Whatever you want, Mr. Director," said Cordelia, smiling as she leaned back into Faith who left the sweetest of kisses on her shoulder blade. When Faith's hands began tracing up her sides to start to cup her breasts, Cordelia lightly moved them to her waist. Looking back at her girlfriend, she playfully scolded, "Be good. We're being filmed and this is a documentary, not art house porn."
"Really?" Faith looked disappointed. Peering into the camera, she said in a slight whine, "X... how could you lie to me like this? You said there would be action."
Xander gave a strangled laugh now. "Yeah, well, this is being censored for the sake of me wanting to get an education, okay?" Moving behind the camera, he pulled it back to get the couple in his shot. Cordelia was leaning back in Faith's strong arms while the Slayer still had her chin comfortably on her shoulder. "Cordelia," Xander began. "What do you think about the toilet demons? Do they really exist? And if they do, what are they after?"
Arching an eyebrow, Cordelia looked at Faith who grinned at her. "What did you say?" she asked.
"I said yes," Faith replied, grinning still. With a shrug, she added, "He does got proof. And hell, we've seen weirder crap in this town, haven't we sweets?"
"Hm," Cordelia murmured in consideration. Looking back at Xander and his camera, she smiled. "I guess I'll have to go along with my beautiful girlfriend on this one. They might exist. As for what they're after..." She trailed off thoughtfully, then her face lit up and she gave a brilliant smile. "It's world domination, of course."
"Of course?" asked Xander playfully.
"Hey," said Cordelia with some offense. "World domination is usually what evil creatures want, isn't it? I think it's more than a cheesy plot device in movies."
"Yeah, at least for X's movie," Faith laughed before Cordelia playfully swatted her leg. "I'm just funnin' with you, sweets. You know I love you."
"Okay," Xander heaved a sigh, smirking as he moved to take the camera off record. "Your mushy stuff is not at all good for my film. This interview is over."
Simultaneously, Faith and Cordelia looked into the camera and wore the same puppy dog expression as they said together, "Awwww. No fair."
And that was their interview's final shot.
For his second interview, Xander decided to keep the theme of filming Slayers in their kitchens. Who knows why he decided this though.
"All right, Bufficus," said Xander with a grin, zooming in on the blonde Slayer who already wore a very peevish expression on her features. "Ready to go?"
"Yes," Buffy said in bratty tones. When Xander blinked at this reaction, she heaved a huge sigh and said, "I'm sorry, it's just... my Mom is currently getting ready for her sixth consecutive date with David this week. I'm not liking where this is going. It's going into relationship land which is just a short trip away from Stepfather land."
"And that isn't a place you want to be?" Xander asked, studying her carefully. He knew Buffy was having some problems with David dating her mother, he heard as much from Amy, the girls being best friends.
"I'm glad she's happy," said Buffy quickly. "I'm not a horrible daughter. It's just... I never see my Dad but I'm not sure I'm ready to have some guy come take his place."
"I don't think David's trying to do that," offered Xander quietly. "It seems like he just wants to be with your Mom, you know?"
"Yeah," Buffy sighed. "I know. Still," she gave him an impish grin. "If Mom forces me to go out to the movies with them again I think I might just snap."
"Don't blame you," Xander chuckled, moving to adjust the tripod and look at the shot he set up. Looking up at Buffy who was sitting at the kitchen table, he said, "You ready to start the interview, Bufficus?"
"Readiest," said Buffy with a nod.
"On three," Xander informed. "One... two... three."
Zooming in on the camera, he studied Buffy who immediately frowned then said, "Toilet demons aren't real. I don't care what sort of footage you've got."
"Okayyy," Xander said wryly. "Generally the interview consists of me asking the questions first but go ahead and explain why you think that, Buff."
"Well, the name toilet demons," Buffy started. "How stupid does that sound? They might be a type of demon, right, but ones that live in toilets exclusively? I find myself doubting the subcategory you put them in."
"What you're saying is, they might exist but you yourself don't like them being called toilet demons," said Xander, elaborating on Buffy's explanation.
"Yeah, basically," said Buffy, tilting her head to one side. "You don't seriously think they live in toilets do you? It makes no sense. I can see the sewers but just them living in toilets alone? No way. It's too weird."
Xander's question was interrupted by a the ring of the doorbell and Buffy groaned. "Hold on," she said while turning her back to him. "Mom! David's here!!"
"Answer the door, will you Buffy? I'm not ready!"
"Figures," grumbled Buffy, rising to her feet. She gave Xander an apologetic look then said, "Be right back."
"No problem," said Xander with a nod, leaving the camera on record just in case of... well, just in case.
Seconds later, Buffy walked back into the kitchen and sat down again. David soon entered the room, trailing after her. He was wearing a dark blue suit and looked quite handsome as he gave Xander a crooked smile.
"What's this?" David asked, gesturing towards the video camera that was still recording.
"My ticket into college," replied Xander with a grin. "I'm making a documentary about some nasty creatures that I keep seeing. If it's good enough, the head of the film department is going to give me a scholarship. Buffy is one of my interview subjects. She happened to see them when our school went through its own personal big bang."
"Uh uh," Buffy shook her head. "You saw them. I saw nothing but explosions and fire." She turned to David who smirked at this and pointed at him. "Don't you start. I've my fill of fire jokes from you, Mister."
"I come in peace," said David, holding up his hands. "What sort of creatures, exactly?"
"Toilet demons," said Xander easily. "Well, that's just what I call them because I first saw them coming out of some toilets at our school. Buffy and I were just having a nice chat about how she thinks they're not really toilet demons but something else entirely."
"No decent demon would really live in toilets alone," Buffy sniffed. "It's too gross and it's illogical. I mean, what would they eat?" Moments after she said this she formed a horrible face then said, "Oh god. Ew. Why did I think of that? Never mind! Ick."
"How about you?" asked Xander, turning the camera to focus on David while Buffy gagged as she had images of what the toilet demons ate for food. "You're all with the supernatural scene. Do you believe in demons?"
"Sure," David smiled softly. "Unless I see proof that shows something doesn't exist and never will, I'm the type that likes to believe it's there. I find that it's better to keep an open mind than a closed one."
"I'm ready!" announced Joyce, coming into the room, wearing a wide an infectious smile. Kissing David lightly on the cheek she asked, "Were you waiting long?"
"Nope," said David. "Buffy and Xander kept me entertained with his film project." Focusing back on him, he said, "Good luck with getting your scholarship."
"Thanks," said Xander, grinning. "But I won't need it. This film WILL kick ass if it's the last thing I do."
"What film project?" Joyce blinked.
"My documentary on toilet demons," said Xander, moving behind the camera and turning it on Joyce now. "What do you think? Do they really exist?"
Blinking again as the camera zoomed in on her, Joyce looked from a smirking Buffy to a smiling David as she finally settled back on the camera and stared blankly.
Then she firmly took David's hand in her own and dragged him out of the kitchen. "We'll be back a little after midnight, Buffy!" Joyce said. "Be done by then!"
"I think her answer is no," Xander chuckled.
"You think?" asked Buffy, laughing along.
"Well? Is it any good?"
Examining the cd case, Xander looked up at Willow and grinned widely. "It's great, Willster." Looking back down at it, he studied the image on the front of the cd cover that perfectly matched their album title: Susie. It was a picture of the bus parked on the street next to Vince's house. The image was both striking and emotional. Meeting her eyes, he continued, "Very nice and very appropriate. I'm sure that he agrees with me too."
"I hope so," said Willow softly, smiling. She watched as Xander put the cd down on a nearby table in the empty Bronze, where they were holding auditions for their new drummer, and adjusted the camera tripod. "Xander?"
"Yeah?" asked Xander, not looking up from where he was working on the tripod, getting it into place.
"Are you... did you keep up with your lessons?" asked Willow, tucking some stray strands of her spiky red hair behind her ear. "For drumming?"
"Yup," said Xander with a nod. Looking up at Willow, he looked sad and murmured, "I had to, y'know? It was my way of keeping him with me. I liked the guy, Will. A lot. I don't have a lot of close male friends and he was probably one of my best and... yeah," he sighed and gave her a wan smile. "Why do you ask?"
"We're having no luck with auditions," Willow confessed, wearing a sheepish expression. "And we were all sort of wondering if you'd maybe... join the band?"
"But I'm no good," said Xander in shock. "Don't you guys want... you know... someone good?"
"You've got to be better than the people we've seen," said Willow, looking utterly serious. "Plus we know you and it would be comfortable, you playing with us. What do you say? Will you at least think about it?"
"I don't know," Xander said slowly. He frowned then met Willow's eyes. "Tell you what," he began. "Give me the rest of the summer to finish my film, and if by the start of school you haven't found someone good, ask me again, okay? My answer will most definitely be yes."
"Victory!" said Willow happily, bouncing a bit. When Xander quirked an eyebrow at this, she looked sheepish and said, "I'm sorry, but I know we won't find anybody."
"Right," Xander chuckled, shaking his head.
Sitting down on the stage, Willow grinned at her friend then asked, "Are we going to film or what?" She looked at the nonexistent watch on her wrist and continued, "I'm on a tight schedule, you know. I don't have all day."
"Hah. Your wit befuddles my brain synapses. Watch as they slowly die," said Xander dryly. Moving behind his camera, he ducked his head low and adjusted it to get the perfect shot of Willow sitting on stage, under its lights.
"Amazing!" Willow clapped her hands. "That was a truly excellent impersonation of Buffy sarcasm. Ten points!"
"You're in a goofy mood today," noted Xander, peering at his friend through the camera. "What's up with that?"
"Goofy is a step away from happy and happy is a step away from contentment and contentment is a step away from pure ecstasy," explained Willow solemnly.
"Uh huh," Xander said in even drier tones. "Whatever you say, Willster. Now it's time to start the interview."
"Funnnnnn," Willow drew the word out.
"I'm sure you snorted pixie sticks," Xander murmured. Sighing, he raised his voice and asked, "What are your theories about the toilet demons?"
"They're government lackeys," answered Willow grimly.
"Uh... what...?" Xander blinked.
"Government lackeys," Willow repeated, leaning forward and threading her fingers together. She stared directly into the camera as she continued, "They're the ultimate soldier the government has genetically engineered. They feel no remorse and have no regret and operate solely from the sewers. They're what got to Hoffa I bet."
"Will..." began Xander slowly. "Tell me this is a joke."
Her green eyes glinting now, Willow narrowed them as a slow and dangerous smile spread across her features. Then she said rather impishly, "Gotcha."
"That wasn't funny," Xander grumbled, peering at Willow through the camera as she broke out into laughter. "You're taking that intro to drama class aren't you?"
"Bingo," Willow said with a huge smile. "Anyway, as for the toilet demons I think they're creatures that just happen to live in the sewer. I don't think that they destroyed our school though. What would be the point of that?"
"Vengeance for me clueing in their feeding ground?" suggested Xander. "I think they eat people. Not like Buffy who thinks they eat--"
"I heard about that theory!" interrupted Willow quickly, forming a disgusted expression. "That was a bad idea of hers, if you ask me. I rather go with your theory. I mean, eating people is one thing but eating..." Shaking her head, her face scrunched up. "It's just icky."
"Exactly," Xander nodded his approval.
"Xanadu, what's shakin'?"
Rolling his eyes and heaving a massive sigh, Xander watched as Charlie strolled on stage and into the view of the camera. The lead guitarist sat down with a thump next to Willow on stage and grinned at the other boy.
"Please refrain from calling me that," said Xander in tones of utmost solemnity. "It's just so... so..."
"Childish?" suggested Charlie, still grinning.
"No, it's so Olivia Newton John," Xander sniffed. "You know I prefer the musicals of Julie Andrews. Now if you had called me The Sound of Music, that I can deal with."
"What about Victor/Victoria?" Charlie asked, looking pathetic. "Do you reject its musical glory?"
"Of course not, that would be acceptable as well," said Xander with a nod.
Chuckling now, Charlie asked, "What're you doing?"
"Xander's filming me for his documentary," replied Willow. "You know, the one to get into UCS?"
"Oh yeah," said Charlie slowly. His eyes then lit up and he asked quickly, "Can I help?"
"Help with what?" Derrick asked. Walking on stage, he hovered over Willow and Charlie. Frowning at the green, otherwise known as sage, haired boy he said, "You're not bothering Xander are you?"
"No Mom," Charlie teased, playing with the cuff to Derrick's pants as the bass guitarist rolled his eyes. "I was just curious what they were doing so I came out here, that's all. They're filming Xander's movie."
"Really?" Derrick said curiously. In an elegant movement, he sat down cross legged next to Charlie who immediately grabbed Derrick's hand to hold it once it was in range. Smiling at this, Derrick squeezed his boyfriend's hand gently then looked back at Xander. "The Professor who's looking at this is Jenson, right?"
"Yeah," said Xander, hoping that no one else would wander on stage inside of the closed club and want to take part in his documentary. "That's him."
"Damn," Derrick whistled. "Good luck to you, buddy. Jenson's harsh... I heard the guy got really bitter from people taking his classes for easy grades and has just crashed down with his grading policies. Almost no one gets an A from him these days."
Laughing nervously, Xander pronounced, "Wonderful. My spirit soars on hearing such awe inspiring news."
"Nice going, Rick," said Charlie lowly, elbowing his boyfriend in the side. "Now he's all depressed."
"Hey, I didn't mean you Xander!" said Derrick, looking concerned. "I mean, I know you know your stuff. You'll be fine. I'm just saying... work for it, you know?"
"Know knowy know," Charlie teased but was stopped from teasing any further when Derrick scowled at him. "I'll be good," said Charlie swiftly, forming a cute expression.
"Xander," murmured Willow and all eyes turned to her, sensing she had something important to say. She offered a soft and encouraging smile as she said, "Do your best and there's no way you can fail. Besides, we all know people are waiting to hear the truth behind the toilet demons."
Returning Willow's smile, Xander nodded his head and said quietly, "Right." Moving to take in all the members of Prophecy Girl in the view of the camera, he asked, "Why do you think they destroyed our school? If they did?"
"They destroyed our school?" Charlie blinked.
"Who destroyed our school?" Derrick blinked also.
At these questions, Willow and Xander couldn't help but laugh. That and explain the mysterious creatures that were the toilet demons. And why Xander had decided to make a documentary about them.
The last part... well, that was the hardest to explain.
"Why am I here again?"
Forming a slow and sensual smile, Jenny's dark eyes glittered as she rested her chin on the tops of her hands. "You're here because I want you here," she murmured, raking her gaze up and down Kate's body.
"I'm leaving," Kate announced, turning on her heel, about to head out of the magic shop.
"So touchy," Jenny tsked, looking at her manicured nails and wearing a thoughtful expression. "I guess you have no interest in learning about the newest supernatural threat to our quiet little town."
"All right," said Kate, looking back at Jenny. "You have exactly three seconds to explain starting right now."
"They blew up the school," said Jenny, smiling. Looking over at Xander she asked, "That pretty much covers the gist of it, don't you think?"
"I'd say so," Xander grinned, peering at Jenny as he paused in setting up his camera on the nearby table.
"Who blew up the school?" asked Kate, frowning. Their investigation had shown it had been a case of leaking gas and other chemicals in the boiler room.
"The toilet demons," said Xander.
"The... toilet... demons..." Kate echoed. Seconds later, she scowled deeply and glared at Jenny. "This isn't funny."
"It was supposed to be funny?" asked Jenny in puzzled but always playful tones.
"You called me down from the station for this?" Kate continued, her scowl growing. "I thought we were past this... this... irritating me for no reason phase and then you do something like this! Why do you do this?"
The blonde cop was now fully in rant mode and Jenny had to admit, she looked lovely while in it. Smiling with certain pleasure as Kate's cheeks turned a rosy hue, Jenny smiled slowly then said, "I thought you'd be interested, that's all."
"Interested in fictional creatures, right," Kate snorted. "That's it, I'm out of here. Call me when you really have something serious to discuss. If you can manage that."
"Actually," murmured Giles, walking out of the back room of the magic shop and sipping his tea. In his other hand, he held an ancient text. "They are somewhat of a threat, despite the given name Xander has given them. And there are hints that they did destroy the school."
"So they exist," said Kate, her eyes narrowing. She fixed her gaze on Xander and asked, "What are they?"
"Don't know," said Xander honestly. "I call them toilet demons because I first saw them coming out of the toilets in the boys bathroom at school." He adjusted the camera to take in Giles and Jenny who stood behind the counter to the magic shop. Looking over at Kate, he looked a bit hesitant as he asked, "Could you move into my shot?"
"You're filming this?" Kate raised an eyebrow. "Why?"
"I'm making a documentary about them," Xander answered. "If it's good enough, the head of the film department at UCS will give me a scholarship."
"He's filming us today," Jenny continued, smiling coyly at Kate. "Talking to us about our opinions on supernatural phenomena as well the toilet demons. I thought your dry Scully-esque point of view would make for an interesting angle in his film. Xander agreed, so I called you."
"I'm sorry," said Xander, looking truly apologetic. "I didn't think you'd mind from what Jenny said about you..."
"Said about me?" Kate repeated, frowning at Jenny, narrowing her eyes at the other woman's smile.
"Yeah," Xander was fidgeting now. "She said you were the do gooder type and wouldn't mind helping me with my film, since it was for a good cause. Me getting educated and all... well, more than high school at least."
Meeting Jenny's eyes that were dancing with humor and something else that Kate couldn't pin down, Kate sighed before looking at Xander. "All right," she said. "Interview already. My break isn't infinite, you know."
"A shame," purred Jenny, resting her chin back on the tops of her hands and looking totally relaxed. "Since I know I'd love to have you with me for that long."
"Whatever," Kate rolled her eyes, walking over to stand in front of Jenny, leaning a bit against the counter. Turning to the other woman, she said, "Don't try anything."
"Moi?" Jenny looked innocent and pressed her hand to her chest. "I'm harmless, so what are you implying?"
Giles and Xander both seemed to sigh internally at the perpetual cat and mouse game the two women played. Xander moved behind the camera, adjusting it so they were all in the shot then said, "On three, okay?"
"One... two... three," Xander said, watching as Jenny beamed widely, Giles looked absolutely the same, and Kate formed an ultra dry expression. "In your expert opinions, what are the toilet demons?"
Moving the book he had been carrying earlier in front of him, Giles read from it, "Species Reliak, demons from the depths of disgust, also know as the Bog People." Looking up and at the camera, he pushed up his wire rim glasses. "I believe they are creatures of ancient legends that lived in the swamps of Ireland and preyed upon people. It not only fits their description and the images you've recorded, but their very actions. The Bog were never ones for socializing and would do almost anything to rid themselves of the pestilence that they saw as mankind."
"True," Jenny murmured thoughtfully. "But it seems like this species of demon flourishes on our waste... seeming to live in the sewers, which are a result of our actions. If they truly hated us so, why live there?"
"No choice?" suggested Giles. "Their natural environment no longer exists in this area, having been destroyed by man so they go to the closest manmade environment that they know they can survive in. Which is, naturally, the sewers."
"Naturally," drawled Jenny, smirking. She looked at Kate who was unusually quiet during all this. "Well?" prompted Jenny. "What do you think?"
Wearing a surprised expression, Kate looked from Jenny, who was leaning over her shoulder and smiling, to Xander, who had the camera focused on her. Scowling but losing it when she focused on Xander, she said, "I was just thinking that if I were him, I'd go directly to the source."
"I already filmed in the sewers," said Xander helpfully.
"No," Kate shook her head. "I mean, I'd go to the next best thing. Their brethren, who would know the most about their actions and origins." She then looked back at Jenny and said, "Don't you agree?"
"Definitely," said Jenny, her lips curling into a smile as she realized just what Kate was implying.
"I hope you aren't suggesting Xander talk to who I think you're suggesting he talk to," Giles frowned, cleaning off his glasses now. "It simply isn't safe."
"Hey, we can go with him," Jenny said easily. "Kate walks softly and carries a big gun, we'll be fine. That or call our girls. They'd be happy to help out."
"Yes, I know, but still--" Giles protested.
"Uhmmm, you guys?" Xander interrupted hesitantly, raising his hand as the three adults focused on him and his camera that was recording. "What are you talking about?"
Meeting their gazes, they all seemed to go through a silent communication before they replied, "Route 666."
And that was all Xander really needed to know.
"Lemme get this straight," Mikey the Slimebag pronounced, studying the human kid before him. He knew him, he was a friend of the Slayers. Which was why he was more than a bit wary at him being in the club. Especially with the Watchers and the cop along for the ride. "You wanna interview my patrons about some demons you think blew up your school?"
"For my documentary, yeah," Xander nodded. "Is that all right? It's not for profit, it's just to get me into college."
"I dunno," Mikey frowned. "Most of the folks that come here aren't big on being filmed, kid."
"Yeah, well, I can understand that," said Xander, laughing nervously as he eyed the various monsters and nasty things that were giving him the evil eye. "But I promise I won't film anyone who doesn't give permission."
Mikey was still considering Xander's words when an all too familiar voice called out, "Hey boy! What're you doin' here? Want to dance it up with the other half?"
"Ed?" Xander blinked as he took in the burly form of Amy's father who was grinning widely. He was dressed in a pair of worn jeans and t-shirt, tool belt around his waist, and a hammer in his hand. "What...? How...? Why...?"
"Crazy boy," Ed chuckled, slapping Xander on the shoulder. "I told you, I'm the best damn repairman in Sunnydale, especially for the supernatural residents. I doubt anyone else would come here week after week and fix up all the messes that Mikey makes."
"Not my fault, Ed," said Mikey, looking disgruntled. "The customers get a little out of hand at times. What can I do? I have to run a business all the same."
"Well now, a pair of Watchers," murmured Ed, eyeing Giles and Jenny speculatively. "Or is that ex-Watchers? I heard what happened with y'all... my precious told me. I'm appreciative for you lookin' after my girl."
"It was our pleasure, I'm sure," said Giles smoothly. There was something innately likable about Ed, even to him.
"Amy's a wonderful girl," Jenny said with a nod.
"Damn straight," said Ed, smiling proudly. His blue eyes slowly rested on Kate and he frowned. "I'm sorry, you do look familiar but I don't know your name little lady."
Arching an eyebrow at being called a 'little lady' of all things, Kate showed her badge. "Detective Kate Lockley, formerly of the L.A.P.D. now working for the S.P.D."
"No kiddin'?" Ed asked. "That's real nice." He looked over at Xander and said, "Didn't know you were pals with a girl in blue, boy. But what are you doing here, huh?"
"Filming my documentary," said Xander. "The one that's going to get me into college, remember?"
Chuckling now, Ed shook his head. "Sorry, things tend to slip the mind, y'know? So how's it goin'? You figured out them pesky Reliaks or what?"
"Reliaks?" Giles' eyes widened. "Then you believe that Xander's so-called toilet demons are Reliaks as well?"
"Well hell," Ed said, turning to face Giles. "What else could the things be? They got all the looks, signs, and traits of a Reliak. Plus that horrible stink. It's the worse smell in the world, I'm tellin' you."
While Xander fumbled with his camera, quickly turning it on and into record, Mikey frowned.
"The worst kind?" he echoed.
"Sorry Mikey," said Ed with a grin. "I know you're proud of yourself and all, but Reliaks... they've got a smell that's worse than anything your folks could ever come up with."
"I know," Mikey sighed. "The Reliaks are slick with covering their tracks through toxins. I guess they gotta be, being demonic mutants and all."
"What do you mean, mutants?" asked Xander, focusing the camera on Mikey now.
"Local Reliaks used to come from natural places, you know, swamps and crap," offered Mikey. "They were a race of regular back to nature demons. Worship mother earth and stop polution, all of that. Then slowly as man kept on growing, despite their efforts, they got pushed out of their homelands and into the sewers. After awhile it had an effect on their systems, turning them into mutants."
"Made the bastards real stinky and toxic," Ed supplied in explanation. "They just reek of stuff that'll make us ill, it's dripping off them, y'know? Problem is... even though it is sure to kill us, we can smell them a mile away. Reliaks can't do much to anyone these days. So they just hide tucked away in their little sewer homes."
"What of the research about the Reliaks that often portayed them as violent haters of mankind?" asked Giles, focusing on Ed and Mikey with a frown.
"That crap?" Mikey laughed. "Hell, just because one tribe of Reliaks are violent, doesn't mean they all are. The few we got around here are harmless as kittens."
"Yeah, if you don't count their taste for militant opinions on the environment," said Ed wryly.
"Who cares? So every once and awhile they get itchy to cause some problems for you humans," Mikey snorted. "They never hurt anyone when they do that junk. A few decades back they made huge potholes every five feet in the roads. Tell you one thing, that was damn annoying."
"The toilet demons," Xander began in wonder. "Are environmentalists who blew up our school to make a statement about humans destroying the planet?"
"Pretty much," said Mikey with a shrug. "They can chill with the best once you get them plastered. If you can stand their stink, that is. Most people can't."
Instead of replying, Xander wore a smile that rivaled the one when he told the others of his possible scholarship.
He finally had his answers and now.... now his film was done. Well, okay, almost done.
There was editing to do, after all.
The room was silent.
Standing up, Wyatt moved to turn on the lights and looked at his good friend and Dean of UCS, Steven Guerrero.
"I've already made my decision," Wyatt remarked, smiling. "He has ambition, he has talent, and most of all, he would make good use of the scholarship. But what about you?"
"You know me, Wyatt," chuckled Steven. "I'm not one to argue with my Professors once they pick out a protege. At least not when they pick out one with so much promise. I'll get the paperwork started today, give him a call and a nice welcome to the freshman class of UC Sunnydale."
"Will do," said Wyatt with a wide grin.
"Just one thing though," Steven said, a thoughtful expression on his features. "Where did he get those special effects he used in the film anyway?"
Looking puzzled, Wyatt said slowly, "I have no idea."
And he never would either.
Not that it really mattered because now Xander Harris was officially a college man. For better or for worse.
Although most would say it was for the better. Including Xander himself. Because he had finally achieved something with his own merit and that made him proud. And it gave him an idea for his next film.
How Xander Harris got into college.
Or maybe not. I mean, who would want to see that?