Tied Up in Red
word count: 1661
Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel the Series, YuYu Hakusho, Diagnosis Murder and Martial Law do not belong to me. No money is being made from this.
A/N: Gretta is fashioned after a character named Lina Lamont. ^^ No, I don't own her either (Lamont).
Having a bunch of American teenagers underfoot for an entire summer had changed a few things. For starters the shop had a strictly American themed menu a couple days a week. All of the kids had contributed to it...except for Buffy and Cordelia. Xander had insisted that both girls be kept far, far away from the kitchen...any kitchen. Yusuke and Keiko had been amused and assumed Xander had been exaggerating.
That is until Buffy accidentally poisoned Kurama; but that had been the only bad thing that had happened. And Kurama was well enough the next day; Hiei, of course, found the entire thing hilarious.
Keiko's weight leaning into his side brought Yusuke out of his musings. “What are you thinking about?”
“Buffy's lack of skills in the kitchen.”
She frowned. “That shouldn't make you smile.”
He shrugged; knowing he didn't look or feel the least bit repentant. “I never expected any one to cook that badly...and it’s Kurama's fault for eating it. Xander warned him.”
She rolled her eyes and huffed. “Do you think Xander is still upset with him? He pretty much avoided Kurama the entire time he was here.”
“I can't really blame him Keiko. If there's one thing I've learned about Xander...it’s that he's used to being on his own. He's not used to being taken care of or coddled. You saw how he was with...his pack.”
Her smile was fond as she nodded. “He was the one taking care of everyone else...but there is something you didn't notice.”
“He let Cordy-chan take care of him.”
“Actually I noticed that...what I want to know...is why he chose a vampire over Kurama.”
Keiko made a sound that was some hybrid of a snort and a giggle. “Cordy-chan said Xander acted different with him, Spike, the vampire. Whatever the reason...Spike didn't treat him like something delicate and easily broken.” Her smile became mischievous. “Besides, Xander didn't just choose the vampire over Kurama...he chose Cordy-chan and the vampire over Kurama. She also said she enjoyed watching them together.”
“Ugh. I seriously do not need to be thinking about my little brother having sex with...anyone really.” He turned and put his hands over her stomach. The baby inside gave him a kick. “I'd rather think about this. I can't wait to meet the little guy.”
He nodded. “Or girl.”
“We're really going into a demon bar?” Buffy asked.
“Well yeah, I told Lorne we'd come back for those non-alcoholic drinks.”
Cordelia parked her car and turned off the engine. “Are we going to have our fortunes' told or whatever?”
“What, he does parlor tricks too?”
Xander shook his head. “No, he reads auras and destinies...and that might not be a good idea.”
They all unbuckled and Cordelia gave him a little frown as did Buffy and Willow from the back seat. “Why?”
“Spoilers.” He let that set in their minds for a second before adding. “Do you really want to spend all your time worrying about a possible future?”
“Let’s go see Lorne.”
Lorne greeted them like family when they got passed security; the demon hadn’t commented on their weapons and bowed respectfully to them when he handed the receipt to Xander. Lorne's display however garnered quite a bit of attention. “Hello my pretties, it’s been a long dry spell since something as lovely as you walked into my place.” Lorne bowed over Xander's hand and kissed his ring. “Your Majesty.” He spotted the ring on Cordelia's hand. “And you've made it official with your girl. Welcome back Princess.” He kissed her ring as well and then kissed Willow's cheek before giving Buffy a little bow. “I hope you're here for that rain check.”
“Lorne!” A high pitched shrill voice called his name and a tall platinum blond with blue skin wearing a roaring 20s flapper dress sidled up to him. “You said you'd listen to me sing.”
“I will precious; as soon as I take care of my very special VIPs.”
“VIPs?” She eyed them skeptically.
“Gretta, I want you to meet Xander, King Urameshi's little brother, and his princess, Cordy. The cute redhead is a Miko, and this lovely is none other than the Slayer.”
Gretta gave them wide eyes before she curtsied. “My photographer is here...do you mind if we get some shots your majesties?”
Cordelia looked at him and Xander shrugged. “Why not?”
Lorne smiled. “Splendid. Hey Davey! A round of non-alcoholics for table three!” He lead them to their seats and waited with them while Gretta went to find her photographer. “Are you in town long?”
“Nah, we’re just passing through; visiting some friends before heading back to the Hellmouth for school.”
“Say cheese!” Gretta smiled at them; her photographer beside her.
Cordelia leaned into him and they smiled for the camera; their rings reflected in the flash.
“Thank you for this. For telling me all that you can. Would you like some more ham?” Joyce asked.
Marshal burped. No thank you, I'm full. I do have a question though.
“About what?” Can I come to Thanksgiving again this year?
“You really liked the turkey didn't you?” Yep. I never told Xander you gave it to me. He still thinks I stole it.
Joyce smiled at him and laughed.
Willow peered around them curiously at their current location. “Are you sure this is the right way?”
He sighed. “Yes, I've been here before.”
“Yeah, but that was at night, and you were in police custody and under duress.”
“Thanks for reminding me Cor.”
“Is that Dr. Sloan?”
“Yep. Hey, Doc!”
Mark Sloan paused and then waved at them before walking toward them. “You're just in time. We're getting ready to meet Steve at a Police Charity event. Come on.”
“Hurry Mark, we're going to be late!” Jesse nodded to Xander. “Nice to see you again.”
“You too, what sort of charity event?”
“A Martial Arts demonstration?” Willow asked as they followed Mark and Jesse into the crowd.
Cordelia seemed to be of a similar mind set. “Who has a charity event like this, I mean really. Aren't charity events like evening galas or something like that?”
Buffy shrugged. “Could be fun.” She pointed as a woman did a few flips across the platform for the audience. “See.”
Cordelia remained unimpressed. “So? We see vampires do that sort of stuff all the time. Heck even I can flip.”
“You can do a lot more than flip after all that training.” Xander grinned.
They eventually met up with Steve who showed them around; playing tour guide. They watched the performances with some awe. Especially when a woman named Grace, Sammo's student, did her part on the platform.
Xander nodded in agreement with Buffy. “Agreed. Very good.”
“There you are.” They turned to see Louis. “I was hoping you'd make it. There's an open slot for amateurs and special guests. You two up for it?”
“Yeah.” Willow nodded. “You can show the cops how it’s done.”
Buffy hesitated. “I don't know.”
“Your training clothes are in my car.” Cordelia gave Xander a look; she clearly wanted him to show off a bit.
He gave a sigh and a shrug. “Why not?”
Less than ten minutes later Xander and Buffy were in their training GIs and following Louis and Sammo to the ready area. Louis approached a blond man and greeted him casually. “Hey David. I found a couple of amateurs.”
The man looked at them skeptically. “You're kidding right? That guy will break that little girl.” Xander just grinned as Buffy ground her teeth a bit.
Louis gave him a very amused smile. “Trust me, my friend. The little girl is not to be underestimated.”
David shrugged. “I'll introduce them but we're not liable if you get hurt.”
Buffy grinned; her humor not reaching her eyes. “I'll be fine.”
He got their information from Louis and then headed up to the platform with his microphone. “Our next guests are from a little town not far from LA. Please welcome Buffy Summers and Xander Harris from Sunnydale!”
Xander and Buffy stepped onto platform and bowed to one another; it was a familiar action. One they had repeated several times over the summer during their training. And as in their training the world went away. Oh they were still perfectly aware of the crowd and their surroundings but their focus was on one another.
It wasn't even a real sparring match really, more of a dance. They had sparred together so much over the summer that they were familiar with one another's moves. With just a glance, or a twitch in a certain direction, Xander could tell when Buffy was going to round house and Buffy could tell when he was going to drop kick.
What really got the crowd and amazed them...was their absolute silence as they attacked one another, not making a sound as they hit, blocked, dodged and all but danced on the platform. When they finished they bowed again. And the crowd erupted into cheers and clapping.
When they got back to Sunnydale they dropped off Willow first and then Buffy. Then Xander told Cordelia to drive to Red Fern Park; she gave him an odd look but did.
“Why are we here?”
“Just follow me.” They got out of the car and he took her hand and they walked toward the maple. The daisies were in bloom as they always were.
“This is Jesse's grave.”
Her grip tightened on his hand. “Thank you. For bringing me here. It means a lot.”
He gave her a sad smile. “Love you.”
“I love you too.”