The Blame Game
Title: For A Good Cause
Chapter Title: The Blame Game
Author: Restive Nature
Disclaimer: I do not own the rights to BtVS. They belong to Whedon & Mutant Enemy. Nor do I own any rights to other shows represented through the rest of this fictions. All shows belong to their respective owners. No infringement is intended and this fiction is for private enjoyment only.
Rating: Various, up to R
Chapter Rating: PG
Type: BtVS/ Various
Summary: When threatened by an old foe not their own, how else can the combined forces of the Scoobies and the Fang Gang respond? By having an auction!
Spoilers/ Time line: This is post series for both Buffy and Angel. Other shows and will be discussed within each chapter that it pertains to.
Feedback: Always welcome!
Distribution: Ask first please.
A/N: This is a response to the Twisting the Hellmouth “The Bachelor/ Bachelorette Challenge.
For A Good Cause
The Blame Game
“Okay,” Xander sighed heavily as he slumped once more in his chair, his arms resting, stretched out before him on the table. “Let me get this straight. After all the precautions we took, after warning everyone, myself included, Andrew broke the urn?”
“I didn't do it on purpose,” the young man in question whined. Accusing glares turned his way and he gulped hastily and pulled back. There was the unspoken command, though it had been voiced before, for him to just shut up.
“And ignoring that, because great googly moogly, it just had to happen, right?” Xander pressed on, heaving a shaky sigh. “A... a genie? A genie came out of the urn?”
Giles, who was standing at the head of the table now, was busy polishing his glasses with a large handkerchief. His typical response to the behavior or the absurd, whichever he was deeming beyond rational at the moment. And for this group, it was a lot. “Yes Xander, there was a genie in the bottle that Andrew let loose when he tripped and dropped that monstrosity of a platter on the table.”
“But... he dropped it?” Xander whined for Andrew as the younger man crossed his arms, looking slightly smug. “No offense Andy, but it's not like it was that heavy. How could one platter cause that much damage?” There were groans from the older gang as he asked that and he glanced around before rolling his eyes.
“It was enough to shake the table and um...” Dawn began explaining quietly. “Willow and I were looking-!”
“Okay, so maybe it wasn't just Andrew's fault,” Willow sighed quickly. “I had tilted it to get a better look at the writing underneath.”
“And I was trying to point out a spot of interest,” Dawn added. “But when Andrew dropped the platter, it shook the table a little and... bumped my leg.”
“Only cause you were pressed right up to it,” Buffy snorted, her head still pressed into her hand as she sadly contemplated their new fate.
“And I didn't have the best grip on it, so when Dawn, um... poked it, I couldn't... it was slick from the dust...” Willow bemoaned.
Dawn gripped her friends shoulder briefly and then squeezed once. “I shoulda cleaned it,” she decided morosely.
“Okay,” Xander drawled a moment later. “So what's with the bad? Can't decide who gets the wishes? Three of you responsible, you each get one. Seems fair to me.”
“It's not that Xander,” Angel interrupted, leaning forward to glower at the male that had been so long a thorn in his side, though minorly, as it was.
Xander turned a baleful eye to the elder Vampire at the table. “Let me guess. Genie wishes are like vengeance wishes? You don't want 'em and if you happen to make one, they aren't gonna turn out all that great?”
“Precisely,” Giles sighed before pulling out a seat for himself and collapsing into it. “But I'm afraid this case is much worse.”
“And why is that? Xander groaned. He should have known better than to even start any line of questioning. “What, did the genie decide to give everyone here a wish?”
“It wasn't a genie brainiac,” Spike piped up, straightening up from where he'd been lounging in his seat, one leg thrown over the arm rest. “It was a Djinn. The head Djinn if you wanna believe the wanker.”
“I don't think he was lying Spike,” Willow warned. Xander turned to the redheaded witch and his good eye widened slightly. She was sitting on her hands, rocking slightly and then her panicked gaze turned to Giles. “I don't like this. It feels all wrong. I think I'm gonna be sick.”
“Oh, oh!” Kennedy reared up from her seat beside her girlfriend, quickly leaning over to help her. “Come on, let's get you to the bathroom.” But Willow shook her head, quickly, abruptly and then with a wince she stopped.
“I can't move,” she moaned. “If I move, I'll explode.”
Giles leaned forward, his hand reaching across Buffy to rest on Willow's shoulder. “Deep breaths Willow. In through the nose and then out through the mouth. We'll figure this out. You can handle it.”
“I don't know Giles,” she whispered, her eyes tearing up a little. But she did as he instructed. Her color didn't improve much but the rocking lessened.
“What is it?” Buffy asked quietly after a moment. “Is it the magic?” Willow nodded without thought and then groaned again.
“She's more connected to the magic, to the- the realm that these creatures come from,” Giles tried to explain. “Especially after she learned how to astrally project herself. The geas on her, on us, it's taking a more physical toll on her because she learned how to connect with her entire being, so that she could learn to disconnect, as it were.”
About only half of that made sense to Xander. All he understood was that his friend was hurting from whatever had happened while he was out of the room.
“I'm gonna go get a basin or wastebasket,” Kennedy announced. “Just in case,” she added, smiling down at her girlfriend. She whirled around to go about her minor mission, but, since the urn had pretty much exploded for some reason that Xander hadn't yet discerned, it was scattered about the floor and Kennedy, not even thinking strode off, only to step on a rounded broken piece of the lid.
It was almost comical how her foot slipped out from under her and she came crashing down, but Xander, his reflexes actually having approved over the years, caught her awkwardly. “It's okay,” he chuckled without humor. “I got you.”
But Kennedy stiffened in his grip and let out a slight yelp. She quickly righted herself and turned to stare at Xander, wide eyed and when his usually minorly concerned glance met her gaze, her mouth gaped. She glanced around and then shuddered.
“Did anybody else feel that?” she demanded.
“Feel what?” Faith demanded from the other side of the table, sitting up and showing some interest in the proceedings again. She, along with the unknown form of Illyria had been sitting quietly, one bored out of her mind, the other nearly as much.
“It was...” Kennedy frowned, groping to explain. “I felt... it was like something ran over me and then,” she put her hands up to her neck, her fingers dancing nimbly along the skin. “Felt like someone put a choker or something on me.”
“It is the geas, at work,” Illyria announced in a tone that brooked no argument, but also held the censure of the enlightened against the not so much. “The mortal, by declaring that he has you, has entered into the bargain in which he serves as your master, as the djinn,” she announced the name like it was a curse word, “vowed. Until your task is complete, you are under his pervue.”
“Is it really so simple?” Giles wondered, slumping back in his chair once more. He turned to Kennedy. “Is this er, um, choker? Is it causing you impairment in any way?”
“Not really,” Kennedy grimaced slightly. “Just sort of feel all goth and no rave to go to.” She saw Giles' perplexed look and sighed. “Like I'm wearing a necklace that's too tight. But there's nothing there.” Giles nodded and she added. “It's not... too bad. Just kinda... feel like a slave or something.”
“Which was exactly what the Djinn wanted,” Angel nodded, spreading his hands wide. “He was angered by one of the elder gods placing the spell of servitude on his race.”
“That's what he said,” Dawn nodded. “That this was his vengeance against the mortals that have used his people.”
“Okay,” Xander wondered, “so why break the urn? This seems like a one-shot deal. What?” he counted quickly and then continued, “less than a dozen people and that's it? For an entire race of people?”
“Break the bottle an' ya can't put the genie back in it,” Spike pointed out laconically. “That'd end his fun right quick.”
Xander rubbed his hand over his eyes. “No wonder the Aborigines were so happy to get this thing off their continent.”
“I'll say,” Faith snorted.
“Well, we can debate all we like,” Giles announced, “but we need to decide what we're going to do about this. Xander has shown us what needs to be done to- to claim one of those under the spell. So I suggest that we claim one another.”
“Why do we need to do that?” Dawn asked, and Buffy smiled at her sister reaching to run a hand through the girl's long brown hair. A habit of hers from years past.
“Dawnie, we're in a room where nearly everyone present has some super power or gift or... or something,” she pointed out. “Don't want to let that fall into the wrong hands, huh?” Buffy explained with a wry grin. And then, reaching for Dawn's hand grasping it well, but not too tightly, she enunciated clearly. “I got you.”
“Nice,” Dawn smirked, then glanced at Kennedy and then Giles. “Not to sound like a killjoy, but uh, nothing. No choker or weirdness or, well, why is that?”
“Hmm,” Giles seemed a bit distracted as he stared at the girls. “Oh, probably can't be those under the geas that can make the claims. Xander, since he wasn't present in the room, was able to claim Kennedy.”
“Not sure I like all this talking about claiming,” Kennedy muttered hotly under her breath.
“Suck it up sister,” Faith snorted. “We're all in the same boat, or gonna be, as you are.”
“Okay,” Xander nodded, turning in his seat, “so if it has to be someone who wasn't in the room...?” he began to reach for Wilow's hand, but Buffy quickly interrupted.
“No, take Dawn,” she insisted loudly, yanking her sister's hand forward. Xander, pausing for just a brief second, eying Willow, who still looked nauseous. The redhead nodded infinitesimally and Xander smiled down at her as he rose from his seat and made his way to Dawn. She gave him a slightly embarrassed smile before stretching her hand up. He took it firmly in his, noting the tremble that she seemed to be hiding from everyone else fairly well.
“I've got you Dawnmeister,” he grinned, but she was shaking her head before he'd even finished. She waited a moment and then sighed.
“Nothing,” she announced. Xander let her hand loose, a little reluctantly and the patted her shoulder.
“Guess the policy is one per customer,” he figured and there were concurring nods around the room.
“What are we going to do?” Buffy asked, worry and tension lacing her voice.
“Whatever we have to,” Angel answered her quietly.
“Um...” Andrew, who had obediently been sitting quietly, raised his hand. The group turned to look at him, not all of the stares well intentioned. “We have a house full of Slayers. Why don't we call one of them. I mean, a lot of them know Dawn and they wouldn't do anything to hurt her.”
There was silence following his suggestion and then Giles rubbed tiredly at his eyes. “I hate to admit it, but he's right. If we want to get this over with quickly, then the surest way would be to just get this over with.”
“So you mean we're not gonna research and fight and spend long boring hours picking through books?” Xander asked, trying to sound much peppier than he felt. “Yay!”
“No, of course we'll research,” Giles sighed. “Though I don't imagine someone as prestigious as the reigning Djinn will have left many loopholes for us to slip through.”
“Doubt it,” Angel concurred. “They're known as master manipulators, something they've learned over the millenia from having to serve others. They know how to twist your words and slip out of agreements based on verbal technicalities. There was one time...” he trailed off as he realized that everyone was staring at him, slightly discomfited. He sheepishly shrugged one shoulder. “I uh, may have looked at some of the Wolfram & Hart files on djinns that they've worked with in the past.”
“Good,” Giles nodded smartly. “That may be useful. But still, Andrew's idea has... merit.”
It was quickly decided then that they would call one of the older slayers, one more level headed than the younger, newer girls. Rhona, already in the house, was the candidate they chose, and Willow, by her obvioussuffering, the victim chosen. Dawn was ready for it, but Buffy protested, wanting someone not as inclined to anger as Rhona could sometimes be. Dawn knew that whomever chose her would be pretty much handpicked by her sister. It helped that the cover story Willow had quickly concocted was magic based. Not something that Dawn got to practise under the watchful eyes of pretty much everyone.
Rona came up immediately behind Xander, who had only told the tall, black girl that they had a favor to ask her. When she entered the room and saw the morose faces, she immediately sagged.
“Don't tell me we got another apocalypse already?” she half sighed, half whined. The head shaking response made her eyes widen.
“It's nothing major Rhona,” Giles announced with a forced smile. “We're all just very worn out, as I'm sure you must be. Willow though,” he began their cover story, “has just been having some difficulty with one of her spells, that was ongoing. We're trying to decipher if it's just with those of us closest to her, or if it's affecting everyone.”
“Oh, alright,” Rhona nodded, though it was plain to see that she was suspicious. “What d'ya need from me?”
“Just take my hand and repeat a few words,” Willow instructed, carefully holding up her hand. Rhona moved slowly towards her.
“I'm not sure I like this,” she warned before taking the witch's hand. It was a sign of her belief in Willow's strength, power and commitment to fighting the good fight that she finally did.
“Okay, all you need to say is, 'I've got you',” Willow finished informing her. Rhona took a deep breath and then quietly repeated the words. There was a breathless moment before Willow tiredly shook her head. With her head ducked for a moment, she pasted on a forced smile before turning back up to the Slayer beside her. “Okay, nothing happened. Tha-that's good. Means it's confined, like it's s-supposed to be.”
“So, that mean I'm not gonna turn into a toad or somethin'?” Rhona half joked.
“No, no toads,” Willow assured her. “Really, no toads, or froggies. Just you and no spell.”
“Okay, well if you don't need me for anything else...?” Rhona glanced around the table, but most had already dismissed her, “I'm gonna go get some sleep.”
“Yeah,” Faith nodded. “All right. Hey, did anyone check in the newest set in the fold, lately? They were lookin' major freaked when we got back.” Rhona was shrugging and Faith quickly rose from her seat. “I'm gonna stretch, have a smoke, check the kidlets. All that responsible crap, yeah?” She directed her words to Giles, though she was looking at Buffy. “Unless you need me for something' here.”
“No, I think you should be fine Faith,” Giles hesitated only a moment. “Just please, don't wander too far off.”
“Think I'll join ya for that fag,” Spike rose as well. “Brainstormin's not high on my list of priorities.”
“Or one of your strong suits,” Angel snorted quietly, to himself, though it was overheard by many. “Not like you have any.”
Spike rolled his eyes as he followed the two girls out of the door. The rest of the gathered company waited a suitable amount of time, Andrew nervously picking at the food he had brought up that no one had touched, before renewing their discussion on the most recent catastrophe of their lives.