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Cousins to the War, pt 2
Pen
icanbecreative
Title: Cousins to the War

Author: jo_anne_storm

Artist: sarah_jones

Fandoms: Teen Wolf/Buffy: the Vampire Slayer

Genre: Crossover

Pairings: None

Main Characters: Stiles, Xander

Rating: Teen

Warnings: None

Summary: Stiles is sent to stay with his cousin for the summer in the hopes that a reformed teen troublemaker will be a good influence on him. The cousin's name: Xander Harris. Set post season 2 for Teen Wolf and post season 6 for Buffy.

Notes: First of all, thank you to my beta and head cheerleader dream_mancer. Thank you to slythhearted for dragging me into this crazy fandom. And finally, thank you to sarah_jones for the wonderful artwork that accompanies this story.

Link to AO3 | Link to the art masterpost | Link to the art on LJ



 photo cousinstothewarbanner2_zps0d1e54cf.png


Stiles wanted nothing more than to take a shower and collapse into bed. He’d just finished his first day working for Xander and he was exhausted. He had no idea that lugging buckets of nails around all day would be so tiring.

Because that was all he did. He had carried five pound boxes of nails to each construction zone at the school and refreshed the workers’ supplies. He’d also swept up after them, collecting debris and parsing it out to various recycling bins. As a change of pace, he had also carted coolers of water and Gatorade to ensure that no one became dehydrated. He’d had a little red wagon to tow the coolers and everything. Sure, the guys had appreciated it, had all thanked him, but it was not exactly a challenging job.

Still, the heat and the activity tired him out. The school was almost completed, but the central air was not hooked up yet. Even if i had been installed, it would be a waste to run it, especially when construction workers were constantly moving from section to section, hauling equipment and supplies.

“How about ‘Spaghetti a la Harris’ for dinner tonight,” Xander asked as he pulled a jar of Prego from the cabinet. “Not fancy, but you look too tired to wait for either real food or decent delivery.”

Stiles grunted as he stumbled his way into the bathroom. He left his filthy clothes on the floor as he stepped under the spray. He stayed in the shower, just letting the water rinse away the aches of the day, until the hot water heater ran out, then he gave himself a quick scrub and got out. The shower refreshed him, waking him up enough that he was at least willing to consider something other than collapsing.

Stiles made sure the towel was wrapped firmly around his hips before he poked his head out of the bathroom to check for visitors. He usually took clean clothes in with him, but had forgot to grab some in his haste to get clean. He’d already experienced Buffy and Dawn’s tendency to show up at the apartment out of the blue. He and Scott had the same type of close relationship that Buffy and Xander seemed to have. That being said, neither Stiles nor Scott had a little sister who was too nosy for her own good. He’d come out of the bathroom before to find Dawn standing in the hallway, a too innocent expression on her face.

Not seeing anyone, and not hearing anything other than Xander moving around the kitchen, he made the mad dash to his bedroom.

He had just finished getting dressed when his phone started ringing.

“Hey, Dad. How was your day?”

“When did you become the parent,” John Stilinski grumbled. “I’m the one who should be asking you that. It was even the reason I called.”

“It was good,” he replied, letting himself fall back gently onto the bed, only to wince as his back hit one of the library books he’d left in the middle.

“That didn’t sound good. Is it your ribs?”

“I just flopped down on a book. My ribs are fine.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah, Dad. They’re barely even bothering me right now.” The bruises had faded to a gross brownish green color and most of the pain was gone. He could breathe normally, even when lugging nails or climbing stairs. He’d even started some gentle stretching exercises he’d found online. They still ached whenever he bent wrong and he was thankful that he wasn’t at lacrosse practice doing suicides, but they were improving.

“Xander didn’t work you too hard? Or make you do anything dangerous?”

Stiles almost snorted at the question, but he could still hear his cousin’s safety lecture from the morning, detailing the many and varied ways that a person could get hurt on a construction site.

“I hauled nails and water. I wore a safety vest, hard hat, eye protection, and ear plugs the entire time. I couldn’t even listen to my iPod. Xander is a safety Nazi, Dad!”

“His crew has not had an injury in over one hundred days, Stiles. They have an excellent rating with Cal/OSHA. The only complaint filed was dismissed as being too absurd to be added to the file and there’s no longer any official record of it.”

Stiles let his silence speak for him.

“I may have had coffee with Daryl Wiseman before I called Xander,” his father said, his voice defensive.

Daryl Wiseman was the Cal/OSHA investigator for Beacon Hills and one of the sheriff’s old friends. Knowing that his father had called in a favor to investigate his working conditions filled him with a warm, happy feeling.

“Thanks,” he said, his voice soft.

“Any time,” his dad’s voice is equally soft.

“Alright, time to ‘fess up. You had the bacon double cheeseburger from Sal’s for lunch, didn’t you?”

His dad laughed. “Does it count if I had the salad instead of the curly fries?”

Stiles rolled his eyes. “No. Because you probably asked for double bacon on the burger.”

“I refuse to confirm or deny that statement on the grounds that it might incriminate me.”

“Triple bacon? Dad!” He flailed his free arm in protest.

“It seems, though, that Sal and Anne have no respect for the authority of the sheriff’s office. Asking for extra bacon earns a stern look and a lecture about the dangers of cholesterol. The lecture sounds suspiciously like one I’ve heard you spout.”

Stiles smiled smugly as he switched the phone to his other ear and settled more deeply into the bed. His foot bounced on the floor, tapping out a rhythm.

“I don’t think I like what you are implying, Father Mine.”

“I’m not implying anything. I’m outright saying that you have corrupted my best source of greasy food with your healthy ways. Anne has even started including low fat mayo on my burgers and bragged about switching to lean beef. It’s unnatural!”

Stiles chuckled. “It’s healthy.”

“Like I said,” his father grumbled. “Unnatural.”

Stiles hummed good-naturedly. He could smell the warmed up sauce from the kitchen and suspected that he would need to go eat soon.

“Listen, kid, I’m on the late shift tomorrow, so I might not be able to call. Not until after you should be tucked into bed.”

The teen sat up, barely even noticing the way his ribs protested the sudden motion.

“Everything OK?” His father had been scheduled to have the day off. Stiles knew this because he had been memorizing the schedule for years. The last time his father had to work long hours, Jackson had been rampaging through the town, paralyzing those he did not kill. And Gerard Argent had been terrorizing anyone who might have stopped him.

“Yeah, everything’s fine. Johnson’s just going on paternity leave, so I’m taking up the slack.”

Stiles covered the mouthpiece of his cell and let out a relieved sigh.

“Just don’t overdo it,” he reminded his dad after he’d recovered from the small panic.

“We’re all taking turns covering his shift,” the sheriff assured. “We’ll be a bit stretched thin for a couple of weeks, but it’s been quiet so far this summer.”

“OK.” Stiles rubbed his hand over his face.

“Don’t worry so much, kid. I’m the adult, remember?”

“Your eating habits say otherwise.”

“Yeah, yeah,” his dad snarked back. “Get some rest, Stiles. Love you.”

“Love you too, Dad.”

Stiles hung up the phone and sat for the moment, the device pressed to his forehead as he breathed.

All quiet on the western front? he texted to Derek and Scott.

Derek’s reply came ten minutes later.

just made a round. all quiet.

Scott’s reply did not come until sometime much later, after Stiles had eaten dinner with Xander and then fallen asleep with his face pressed into a book. The text consisted of a series of question marks, followed by asking what kind of flower he should leave on Allison’s windowsill.



*~*~*~*~*~*


Friday night was Buffy and Xander’s standing Bronze “date” night.

“Not that it’s an actual date,” Xander explained as they walked to the club. Stiles liked that almost everything was within walking distance. It saved him tons of gas money.

“Buffy just ended a bad relationship. A really bad relationship. Like, if I see him again I’m going to cut off his head, stick garlic in his mouth, and shove a stake through his heart.”

“Overkill much?”

“Nope. Underkill. Very much underkill. Anyway, Dawnie spends most Friday nights with her friend Janice, so this is the only time Buff can really let her hair down.”

“Dawn is what, fourteen? Fifteen? Why isn’t she trusted to stay home alone?”

Xander grimaced. “Dawnie... didn’t deal with her mom’s death well. She got into a lot of trouble and part of her punishment is to have almost constant adult supervision.”

“And to never, ever go into stores where they sell anything sparkly or that can be easily slipped into a pocket,” Buffy said as she joined them at the club’s door.

“OK, then,” Stiles said. Reading between the lines was easy when the hidden words were in a 34 point font.

“So, Stiles,” Buffy looped an arm over his shoulder and her other one through Xander’s offered elbow. “Have you made any friends your own age yet? Not that we mind you hanging with us! Of course not. We’re cool; we’re hip. What’s the phrase all the whipper snappers are saying now, Xand?”

“Groovy.”

“Groovy! Yes, we’re groovy! We might even be jive.”

Stiles laughed and shook his head at Buffy’s antics. “You’re not that much older than me.”

Xander was over twenty-one, and he assumed that Buffy was as well. Which put them at five years older than his own sixteen. They acted more like kids than adults at times, which was cool. He wondered if most young adults acted more like them or like Derek. Which brought to mind a really odd idea of Derek trying to joke and act the fool. Stiles could not see it happening. Ever.

“Old enough,” Xander said, pulling Buffy away from him and towards the dance floor. “Go, have fun. Just remember the rule.”

“Watch out for gang members hyped up on bath salts. Got it.” He waved as he headed towards the bar.

“Bath salts,” he heard Buffy ask.

“Apparently PCP isn’t a thing anymore. All the cool druggies are using bath salts. Like that guy in Florida.”

Stiles settled onto a stool at the bar and ordered a Coke. He didn’t even try to flash his fake ID for something alcoholic. Getting drunk was much more fun when he was with friends who could watch out for him. Werewolf metabolism was awesome for some things, at least. Stiles never had to worry about who the DD would be.

An hour later he was nursing his second Coke, chasing the straw around the glass as he watched two girls on the dance floor all but make out. Almost every other set of masculine eyes were focused on the same couple. Stiles freely admitted that men were dogs, especially teen boys. He still could not tear his gaze away.

“It’s a disgusting display,” a voice said practically in his ear, making him fumble his drink as he startled. He managed not to spill it all over himself, though some of it did land on the floor and earn him a glare from the bartender.

“Want to dance,” the same voice asked.

Stiles looked over at the girl who had spoken and coughed in embarrassment. She had dark blonde hair that fell down her back in curls, a cute button nose, and green eyes that were showing obvious interest in him.

“Um... dance! Yes. I can dance. Let’s dance.”

She giggled as he set his drink down on the bar and hopped from the stool, almost losing his footing as his foot landed in the puddle of Coke he had spilled.

“Heh.” He could feel his face heat as she grabbed his hand and pulled him to the dance floor. The song helpfully changed to something with a slower beat as they got there, not something slow enough to be considered romantic, but not the fast beat that would have had him looking like Xander when he danced.

“Stiles,” he choked out as she settled her hands on his waist. He could feel the coolness of them through his t-shirt, like she had just been holding a cold drink.

“My name that is. Um.” He huffed out an exasperated breath before giving her a small smile “Hi. I’m Stiles.”

“Bethany,” she replied with a smile in return. He put his own hands on her waist and moved them both to the beat, finding the rhythm after a few awkward moves.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen you here before. Are you new?”

“Visiting for the summer.”

“Too bad.” Her thumbs were massaging small circles into his skin, rucking his shirt up slightly with each pass until he could feel her hand on his bare skin.

“Sunnydale could always use some new blood. Sure you don’t want to stay?”

“The idea is very appealing,” he told her with a smile. “Especially right now. But I would miss my dad and my friends. And lacrosse. Does the school here even have a team?”

Bethany wrinkled her nose adorably. “Sunnydale High isn’t really a big sports school. We have a football team that sucks, and not in a happy fun way.”

Stiles found his eyes focused on where his dance partner was running her tongue over her teeth. The whole thing was surreal. Girls did not flirt with him like this. Usually they ignored him in favor of their jock boyfriends.

“So, family, friends, your dog. Is there anyone else who would miss you? Someone special maybe?”

His thoughts turned to Lydia for a moment and he felt his gut twinge. “Is that your way of asking if I have a girlfriend stashed away?”

“Wasn’t subtle at all, was it?”

“I’ll overlook it, just this once. No one special. How about you?”

“I’m still sampling the buffet. So many yummy boys to choose from. And I have plenty of time to find the one I want to keep.”

“So don’t get my hopes up,” Stiles summarized for her.

“Doesn’t mean we can’t have some fun in the meantime,” she said, going up on her toes to press a kiss against his neck. He inhaled sharply at the action, his body responding in natural and embarrassing ways.

The song ended and Stiles tightened his hold on her waist for a moment before letting her go and stepping back.

“Can I buy you a drink?”

“To start with.”

Bethany grasped his hand again and let him lead her to the bar. Once they had drinks again, Coke for him and a hot tea for her, they made their way to one of the tables under the catwalk.

“So, tell me about Stiles. Where are you from? Hopes, dreams, aspirations? I’ll even listen to you talk about your dog.”

“I’m from Beacon Hills, a little town in Northern California, where I warm the bench during lacrosse games and try to keep my best friend from doing anything too stupid. Which probably counts for ‘hopes, dreams, and aspirations’. And I don’t have a dog.”

Bethany frowned. “You don’t? I could have sworn... that you were a dog person.”

“I had a boa constrictor once. That was my one and only foray into pet ownership.”

“Huh.” She shook her head, sending her curls flying. “So, lacrosse.” She rested her chin on her hand and her elbow on the table. “That’s the game the Indians played, right?”

Stiles winced a bit and took a sip of his drink before launching into a short explanation of the history of the sport and how it had changed in modern times. Well, short for him, at least. Bethany was looking a little annoyed by the end of it, but she still gave him a wide smile.

“I can tell that you love it. You mentioned being on the bench. That must get frustrating.”

He frowned and fiddled with his straw as he thought about his answer.

“It can be. I was put on the field during the championship game and that... that was a rush. A lot of the guys on the team are just on it because it’s the most popular sport in our school, or because it looks good on college applications. They still get more field time than I do because I trip over my own feet and have horrible aim.”

“What if there was a way to change all that?”

Stiles jerked his head up and studied her for a long moment. She looked back innocently, taking a sip of her tea.

“Long hours practicing on my own,” he said, voice firm. “There’s no miracle pill or... or... anything that I would try to make myself better. Because it’s never free.”

Bethany smiled. “You’re a smart boy, Stiles. And I like you. Wanna get out of here and go somewhere a little more private?”

He shook his head, only half regretting the answer. “I promised my cousin that I wouldn’t run off and leave without him.”

She pouted her lip out. “Not even just for a quick bite?”

“Sorry. I’m told that the food here is decent, though. Would you like to order something?”

Bethany sighed. “A burger. Rare.”

“Curly fries?”

She wrinkled her nose. “Ew. Salad, please.”

“You got it.” He gathered up his empty glass and her tea cup and bussed them to the bar. He glanced back at Bethany, who was staring at the dance floor, before turning to the bartender and placing the order.

“Who’s your friend,” Xander asked, coming up beside him. Stiles looked back towards the table once again and saw Bethany stand and head towards the restrooms, a slight sway to her hips that drew his focus. Teenaged boy, he couldn’t help it.

“Bethany,” Stiles replied once she was out of visual range. “She’s... nice, I guess? I haven’t really decided. But she seems interested, which is a new thing for me, so I’m going to go with it.”

“That’s good, man. Awesome. Only...”

“Only?”

“I don’t want you getting too attached. You’re only here for the summer. Go out, have a good time, but don’t do something you’d regret.”

Stiles gave an exaggerated frown. “Aren’t you supposed to be my bro and tell me that I’ll only live once and that I should sow my wild oats when I’m young? Dude, you’re harshing my mellow. Plus, I seem to recall you suggesting that I find someone to replace the ever lovely Lydia. What changed?”

“I just... worry about you,” Xander said as he waved to Buffy, who was coming from the restrooms. She didn’t notice him for a moment as she swiped at her skirt.

“I got dust on my skirt. Again. I should know better than that by now.”

“How’d you get dust on your skirt,” Stiles asked.

Buffy looked at him with wide eyes. “You would not believe the little girl’s room. Seriously. I should complain to the management.”

“Do that and we’ll stop comping your drinks, Summers,” the bartender snarked, appearing at her elbow with two plates of food, which he handed over to Stiles.

“Thanks, dude. Awesome. Buff, Xand, I’ll see you guys a little later.”

He made his way back to the table and set the plates down before realizing that he’d forgotten the drinks. He turned back to get them, only to find that his cousin had followed him, drinks in hand.

“Thanks.”

“No problem. Mind if you keep me company until your friend comes back? Buffster’s planning on taking a walk around the neighborhood, to clear her head a bit.”

“What about the gangs?”

“They tremble at her witty puns and keen fashion sense.”

Xander looked so hopeful that Stiles could not turn him away. His cousin reminded him a lot of Scott right then. They both could pull off the puppy eyes in a way that Stiles had not been able to since he was five.

“Yeah, dude. You can be my wingman.”

“Sweet!” Xander sprawled into one of the chairs and Stiles followed his example, making sure that he could see the hallway that led to the restrooms. He didn’t want Bethany to come out and think that he had ditched her.

“Any plans for tomorrow?”

“Just going to the library. My books are due and I’m finished with most of them anyway.”

“Books are of the good. The ones I’ve noticed you reading looked rather old. Are they for school or pleasure?”

“Why would anyone read antique books for pleasure,” Stiles hedged.

Xander chuckled. “I have a couple of friends who would rather read an old musty book than anything else. I’ve even been known to check a few out myself, back when I was your age.”

“I’ve lived with you for two weeks, dude, and the only thing I’ve seen you read is comic books.”

“I never said I actually read them,” Xander coughed, his face flushing. “I was a teen, there were partially nude etchings. And let’s never mention this again.”

“Agreed.” Stiles looked back towards the restrooms again. Bethany had been gone a long time. How long did it actually take girls to powder their noses?

“I’m sure there’s a line,” Xander said, obviously noticing his slight distress. “There’s always a line to the ladies, right? Because they go in pairs. No one will explain that to me. Do girls need help or something?”

“Allison says that they gossip.” He’d asked when she and Lydia had dragged him out shopping for formal dresses. It had been a very scarring experience. He had not known that white came in so many colors.

“Really? Buffy and Willow never told me that. Willow said that it was one of the mysteries of the universe that I would never understand. Her voice got all mystical when she said it, too, so I believed her.”

Stiles left his gaze on the hallway, but his attention was on his cousin. Xander had mentioned Willow before. Afterwards he always went quiet and sad. It made the teen very curious.

“She probably wanted to keep you guessing. That’s a thing, right? Girls do it to keep guys interested.”

“Nah, not Wills. We’ve always been best friends. OK, sure, there was the clothes fluke thing, which led to tears and rebar and it was all bad. Don’t clothes fluke with your best friend, cuz. That way lies the Dark Side.”

“OK... I’ll keep that in mind.”

“I wish you could meet her,” Xander said. His hands were spinning his cup of coffee around. “You two are a lot alike. You both do the babble thing. And the book thing.”

“So, why can’t I meet her?”

Xander went quiet again. “She’s in England right now with another of our friends, Giles. Willow... Tara. Tara was the sweetest girl in the world. She was shy, liked to hide behind her hair, stuttered when she was nervous. She was good for Willow and vice versa. Willow brought Tara out of her shell, revealed her wicked sense of humor. And Tara grounded Willow, brought her back to Earth when she was on a tangent.

“In May... God, it’s still so stupid. This guy that we knew... we’d figured out that he’d been involved with some bad stuff. So we turned him into the police, only he got away and decided that Buffy was the root of all his problems. I still don’t know where he got the gun. He missed Buffy, but one of the shots went wild. Tara was in the house, talking to Willow, and then she wasn’t anymore.”

Stiles swallowed thickly. He never forgot about the normal, human dangers in the world, his dad’s job did not allow for that. Random violence touched so many people and there was nothing he could do about it.

“Anyway, Wills did not deal with it well. Giles ended up taking her away to help her recover. He calls with updates, but right now she’s not allowed to have outside contact.”

“I’m sorry,” Stiles said. “About Tara.”

“Yeah.” Xander took a drink of his coffee, then frowned in the direction of the restrooms. “Surely the line isn’t that bad. Your friend has been gone a long time.”

Stiles glanced at his watch, but didn’t have a point of reference to compare the time to. He poked at his fries, and then his burger, to find that both had gone lukewarm.

“I’ll go check for her,” he said, wiping the grease on his jeans as he made his way towards the restrooms. Despite Xander’s predictions, there was no line outside the ladies, and a cautious cracking of the door and yelling her name did not net him a response.

Stiles made his way back to the table, shoulders slumped.

“I think I got ditched, dude. I knew I shouldn’t have gone on about lacrosse. Turns girls off every time.”

“Obviously she has horrible taste. She should be turned into a toad or something. If, you know, that were possible. Totally not.” Xander grabbed a handful of Bethany’s fries and shoved them into his mouth.

“Ugh, cold,” Xander complained, grimacing as he chewed.

“Yeah, but they’re already paid for. Might as well enjoy them.”

“Let me see if Marc can heat them up for us.”

He waved his cousin away as Xander gathered up the plates and took them back to the bar. Stiles thumped his head down onto the table and sighed. What was his life? Seriously?



*~*~*~*~*~*~*


Stiles had a decent collection of folklore books in his backpack the next morning, but was thinking that he could do with some lighter reading. So he browsed the Library, searching for something fun and entertaining to read during his downtime. Something that did not involve werewolves or giant lizards. Unless they were dragons. Dragons he could do.

He grabbed the first book of an Eddings series he’d read before and continued to look when his attention was caught by a row of slim red and black books that proclaimed Sunnydale High and the year published. The Library had issues of the school’s yearbook going back at least fifty years. Stiles laughed and pulled out one of the books from when Xander was in school.

He started flipping through 2008 and found his cousin in the junior section, along with Buffy. A couple of candid shots showed the two with Willow Rosenberg and a Daniel Osbourne. Willow was a cute redhead and Osbourne appeared to have constantly changing hair color, given that it was green in his senior picture and blue in the one full-color candid.

Stiles grinned as he continued to look through the book. It was a little odd looking at pictures of people he did not know, but still fun.

Until he got to the Memorial section of the book. Stiles’s yearbook had a single page for the memorial, with a picture of the two students who had died in a car wreck over the summer. Sunnydale High’s book had no pictures, just a listing of names and dates to record the too short lives. It took up the whole page, fifty names in all.

Stiles stared at the page, taking in the different dates. They were spread throughout the year, so it was not some sort of horrific accident or viral epidemic that had managed to get missed by the press. This was something different.

He left the book on the table and went back to the shelf, pulling five random years. The Memorial pages in 1970, 1986, 1998, and 2000 were impossibly more grim than those in 2008. 2011 was only slightly better.

He leaned back in his chair and considered the books open in front of him. The statistics were astounding. How was it possible that so many teens were dying and nothing was getting reported? The parents in Beacon Hills would have been demanding answers, stricter traffic regulations, drug and alcohol education, a curfew.

He remembered what Xander had said, about gang activity and requesting that Stiles be in before dark. It made sense that Xander knew about Sunnydale’s hidden dangers, especially with his suspected gang ties. But it made no sense that the town’s mortality rate was not making national headlines.

Stiles took the books to one of the computers, thankfully free because people in Sunnydale did not seem to use the library at all. He logged in using his library card and started Googling the names, starting with those from 2011.

Of the thirty names from 2011, only three showed up in the search. Sunnydale Times articles revealed that one died in a car wreck, one from a heart defect, and one had committed suicide. Three out of thirty names.

When his allotted time ran out, Stiles logged back in and entered into his gmail account. He started transferring the lists into a message that he could save for later research. He could search for them using the BHSD system, but not using a library computer. If there were police reports on their deaths, then the police database would find them.

Stiles was working on 2005 when a name made him pause. Bethany Durnham: Oct 8, 1988-April 17, 2005. A cold chill crawled up his spine. Bethany was not an unusual name, but some gut instinct had him searching the portrait section for her picture.

He felt his stomach roil when he found it. The black and white portrait did not do her justice. She seemed somehow less in it, her hair limp and straight, oversized glasses covering her eyes and detracting from her nose. But it was definitely the same Bethany who had ditched him the night before.

Stiles punched her name into Google with shaking hands. He was not particularly surprised when nothing showed up.

Feeling light headed, he logged out of his email and gathered up the year books. He carefully reshelved them before grabbing his backpack and heading towards the circulation desk.

The librarian at the desk eyed him as she went through the process of checking out the books.

“Are you feeling OK, dear? You’re looking a little peaked.”

“Forgot to eat breakfast this morning,” he replied with what he hoped was a believable smile.

She hummed and reached into her desk, extracting a bag of cookies.

“These are leftover from this week’s Summer Reading Program. They should help raise your blood sugar.”

This time his grin was real. “Thank you, I appreciate it.”

“No worries, dear. Here’s your books. They’re due in two weeks.”

“Thank you. Have a nice day.”




*~*~*~*~*~*~*


“Oh, thank God you’re back,” Dawn grabbed his arm and pulled him into the apartment the moment he opened the door. He barely kept his balance. Dawn was stronger than she looked.

“Will you please tell these two doofuses that you’ll take me to the mall and keep me out of trouble? I’m going to go crazy if I don’t get away from them both.”

“Sixteen does not an adult make,” Buffy snapped before Stiles could even open his mouth to ask what was going on.

“Stiles is a very mature sixteen.”

“Stiles was sent here because he has juvenile delinquent tendencies and his dad thought that Xander would be a good influence on him.”

“Hey!” The girls ignored his protest to continue their argument. Not that Buffy was wrong, but there were circumstances.

“And you would know all about being a delinquent, wouldn’t you?”

“Exactly! Look how much trouble I got into at sixteen. Angel alone...”

“I would not do that!”

“Halloween ringing any bells with you? Because I swear I can hear church bells. Xander?”

Xander raised his hands from his position on the couch. “Leave me out of this.”

Stiles edged around the girls and sat beside his cousin. “Dawn realizes that I’m only like a year older than her, right,” he whispered.

“I think it has more to do with you having a license and a car. Dawnie’s feeling a bit cooped up.”

The sisters continued to fight, bringing up past instances that Stiles had no context for. He was suddenly glad that he was an only child. Dawn seemed to know way too much about Buffy’s life, including when the elder Summers lost her virginity.

“Harsh,” he muttered as Dawn got a particularly nasty jibe in. “Should we break them up?”

“No. They’re just letting off some steam. It’s been a hard year. I give them another fifteen minutes before they’re both crying. Then, shoe shopping will occur. Unless we do something to piss them off, then they’ll both tear into us like rabid wolves.” He lowered his voice even more. “Don’t make any sudden moves or look them directly in the eyes. And remember, they can smell fear.”

He had to stifle a snicker behind his hand. The description would do well for any of the girls he knew.

As predicted, shortly afterwards, Buffy and Dawn were both sobbing. Xander produced a box of tissues from somewhere and made soothing noises until the two girls had calmed

down.

“I need shoes,” Buffy said. “How’s my makeup? Is the mascara smeared?”

“It’s a little smudged, but it looks good,” her sister assured her. “Oh, Janice was telling me about a cute pair at the mall. We can go window shopping!”

“Sounds like a plan. Xander? Stiles?”

Xander gave a huff and stood. “Yeah. You too, man.”

“Bu-”

“Better to just give in. She’ll pout if she doesn’t get her way.”

Stiles sighed and ran a hand through his hair. There went his plan of researching. “Please tell me there will be lunch involved. I could eat a horse.”

“Trigger?” Dawn’s voice had gone wobbly again. “Buffy, you promised me that people didn’t actually eat horses. That Trigger was living out the last of his days in a lovely field with a tree and some goats to keep him company. The tree, Buffy!”

Buffy shot a glare at Stiles, who backed away in fear of Dawn’s renewed sobs.

“Trigger?” His voice absolutely did not squeak. Because he was a man and men did not squeak in the face of crying girls.

Dawn’s shoulders started shaking, her sobs now buried in Buffy’s shoulder. Stiles flailed around and looked to Xander for advice, only to find his cousin holding a throw pillow to his face in an effort to stifle his laughter. When he looked back to the girls, it became obvious that Dawn’s “sobs” were actually howls of laughter.

“You’re screwing with me,” he said, his mouth agape. “Rude!”

Xander took the pillow away from his face and let his laughter fill the apartment.


Part 1


Part 3

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