Pack a bag, Buffy had told him.
That'd be right after she told him something involving Dawn, his car, chloroform, a letter, and heading to L.A., and he in turn told
that no, 'bitch, are you for real' wasn't a personal comment, and yes, he still loved her like a role model on an impossibly high pedestal and best non-Willow-friend he occasionally still had inappropriate thoughts about but a) no, b) no, and c) hell, no.
Xander was damn good at following orders, but the reason he never had thought real hard about joining the military (and one of the several reasons he only kept that PDF application for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police on his hard drive out of nostalgia) was that he wanted to be able to think about those orders and say no if they didn't seem right. And taking Dawn away from a fight when it was her town and her world to fight for too... didn't seem right.
Buffy'd gotten quiet, and had taken long enough to answer that it made Xander wonder how much of her insistence that
wasn't getting put out to pasture was ... something you might step on in a pasture, but at last she'd nodded, and told him to pack a bag. "We may
have to run, if they get past us at the school tomorrow. There won't be a lot of room, but if you can't do without it, grab it."
So here he was in the flickering candle-light, power out all over town now. Packing a bag.
Faith came in after the fight, hyped and happy. "Hey. Guess what we just did."
Xander half-turned from stuffing a pair of yearbooks into his green canvas army duffel. They dropped clunkily on top of his favorite tool-kit.
"Judging by the look on your face I'd say you either killed something or you did that thing with Buffy that you promised I could be there to watch if it ever happened."
"We're still on for that, whenever B gets over her issues." Faith grinned and stalked forward, slipping her arms around him and leaning against him. "Killed something. You got room in that pack for a soccer ball?"
"Ooh, non-sequitur tennis. Willow's the reigning champ there but I'm not too oh my God please tell me that was a metaphor." He twisted around to scan the room and couch, since her hands were clearly empty of everything but him.
Faith chuckled delightedly and said, "You should see your face. And Buffy and I already kicked it around so much all the shiny wore off." She tried to look sad, but the grin kept breaking out and lighting up her face. "Told you I'd do it."
Xander took a breath, and felt his own face break into a smile that was weirdly twisted by still not knowing whether she was being literal or how he felt about that if she was. "You got Caleb."
"Yeah. We did." Her smile eased into something quieter but more intense. "Mostly Buffy, but I got in enough shots to feel good about it. Plus, we picked up some souvenirs on the way out. Gotta love those field trips." She smirked at him. "Can I get a 'yes' from the bleacher seats?"
"You can get a--" Something that wasn't a verbal yes, but was definitely a hearty congratulation, and did involve his lips. "--rah rah go team go. But I'm not wearing the cheerleader outfit."
"But you'd look wicked sweet in those little shorts," Faith argued, beaming at him, giving him another kiss on the mouth, then leaning back, her arms still looped around his neck. "I could be the one with the pom-poms?"
Xander sighted downwards, letting himself be a little wistful that he didn't get the full 3-D effect. "Could?"
"Heheh..." Faith pressed herself against him, making the girls all comfy, and smirked. "And I could do the splits again, too." She gave him another kiss of relief, then pulled away to add, "We got this cool scythe out of the deal too. And maybe the beginnings of a plan. B's workin' on it, but I think maybe we got a shot now."
"Good, 'cause I was always shaky on the hummus thing." Xander ran his hand down her back, but glanced around the room again over her shoulder. "Caleb gave you a scythe?"
"Nope. Got it from this old magic chick who was hanging out in the mausoleum." Faith's face darkened, and she pulled away to pace around the room. "Caleb killed her before she could tell us much. She said she was keeping it for us, for me and B. That there'd always been someone watching the Watchers." She stared at his bag, then looked back at him. "Could've used the help sooner, I'm thinkin', but hey. Better late than never."
"Not much left of the Watchers to watch, now." Then, "Hanging out in the mausoleum?" Xander repeated, scrunching his brow. "We're sure she's one of the good guys? Scythe's not gonna turn you two into Satan's chihuahuas or something?"
"No, it feels-- right." Faith didn't have the words for it, but she knew what she knew. "It belongs to us. It's a Slayer thing, I dunno, like it should've been ours all along. It helped us get the son-of-a-preacher-man good. This is what we need." She leaned into him again, and casually added, "Angel showed up after."
Xander frowned. "Buffy send for him to come get Dawn?" She hadn't sounded like she was lying when she finally said she understood where he was coming from, and where he wasn't going.
"Nope. Had another toy for us. Seriously butt-ugly necklace thing that's supposed to be worn by somebody superhuman, with a soul, so naturally he had to hike his big noble soulful ass down here to do it."
"He's gonna wear a necklace on his ass? See, I'd have just suggested he take his head out of it, but far be it from me to give Angel fashion tips."
Faith snickered. "Not gonna wear it at all. Buffy told him to go back to L.A., be a second front in case these things get past us. Think she was afraid Spike and Angel might spend more time trying to kill each other than the bad guys, too." She shrugged carefully. "Whatever. Who knows if the thing even works; came from Wes's girlfriend, and I gather Angel doesn't trust her as far as her could throw her."
Xander, as always, focused on the important part there. "...Wesley has a girlfriend?"
"Yeah, if we'd known before, we'd've expected the apocalypse sooner, hunh?" Faith grinned at him. "
Xander raised his only visible eyebrow. "I guess his kissing must've gotten better."
"You kissed Wes?" Faith boggled at him. "Dude. Where the hell was I?"
"Buh?" Then Xander snickered. "Gah, no. Cordy did. And told."
"Tchah!" Faith faked being appalled. "What kind of a girl does that?" She snickered and planted a kiss on Xander's jawline. "Tell, I mean. I guess the crazy ones kiss Wesley."
"Do we need to talk about the guy with the bullwhip? Or the cab driver in ... where was the cab driver again? Pennsylvania?" Xander's fingers tangled in her hair as he grinned and temporarily made it difficult to talk about anything.
Lick, lick, chuckle, squirm, and lick, and Faith had a comeback to that. She did. Not that it mattered. Her fingers started trailing south as she grinned against his mouth.
Xander tugged on her belt, drawing her towards the couch, and almost stumbled backwards over his bag. He shoved it aside with his foot, but doing so reminded him. "Hey, you seen my frog? He's not in the bedroom."
Faith stopped kissing him long enough to give him a look, then grin and say, "You left him at Buffy's. Remember? She had Gordo talking to him." She hooked a leg behind his knees, and chortled as he landed on the couch. "Now. Wanna celebrate the light at the end of the tunnel?"
"...dirty?" he said hopefully, pulling her after him.
"Oh yeah," Faith said, giving her hips an extra swivel as she let gravity take her closer, mouth descending on his. "We can do clean in the shower later."
"...where we will not have to bolt the bathroom shut because we are the only people in this apartment for the first time in weeks, oh em gee. Though we might want to lock the front door just in case one of the girls decides to come back for something."
That they might be the only people in this apartment for the last time in ever was a possibility he didn't voice, despite the duffel at his feet filled with things he wasn't willing to flee Sunnydale without, and the empty SDHS gym bag he'd tossed on the kitchen counter that was waiting for Faith to do the same.
Tunnel. End. Light. He held onto that, and Faith.
"They do that, they're gettin' thrown off the balcony," Faith mumbled against his neck, licking the sweet spot on his jaw. "Be good for 'em."
One last hurrah, and then a crazy run for the exit sign. Fresh air and freedom and her guy on the other side. Yeah. That's how it was gonna go.