Communication Breakdown

Author: Alan P <alan.p[at]>

Disclaimer: I own a new pair of lenses for my glasses, and that's about it.

Feedback: Pwwweeeaase?

Pre-fic Comments:

Here's a bunny. Take it. Please. I'm heartily sick of the things.

If he seems OOC, bear with me.

As for the strangeness of this 'verse, you'll pick it up as I write some more parts.


Bill looked blearily at the figure at the end of the bar. He knew all the regulars at Joe's Tavern, and the young man at the end was new.

Maybe he'd talk to him, see what was up.

"Hey," he said. "I'm Bill, welcome to Crockville."

"'M Xander," the boy said. "'S nice beer, not like m' so-called friends."

"What happened?," Bill asked. These sorts of things were always entertaining.

"Three years," Xander said. "Three years I spent helpin' 'em, gettin' beat up by damn vamps and demons, and what do they do? Throw me out! Give me the shovel!"

"Man, that sucks," Bill commiserated.

"Y'know, Dad was right," Xander decided. "'S gen, genetic, right? He's a loser, I'm a loser, same reason, it's genetic."

"Can't be all that bad," Bill said. Few things were, in his opinion.

"Thought I was braindead, mosta my life," Xander said, taking another mouthful of beer. "Right up until highschool. Stupid goddamn zoo."

Now, they were getting somewhere. "Zoo?"

"'S a school thing, right? Take the braindead kids, see if they connect with anything there," Xander said, waving a finger at a Bill about a foot away from the real Bill.

"I've heard about 'em," Bill confirmed. "You're... braindead?"

"Nah, got mi' 'nimal. Only, it ain't an animal," Xander said, checking to see if the glass was indeed empty. "I'd like to be an animal, like Snoopy or Garfield with a pet human to take all the shit life throws."

Bill had to laugh at that. The kid had a sense of humour, even if it was about drowned out at the moment.

"No one wants me, though," Xander said, unsteadily rising to his feet. "Nope, not a fugly fri--"

His voice cut out as his hands gripped the bar for balance.

"Bill," Joe said, worried. "I didn't know the short stuff'd had so much. Can you take him out to his car?"

"C'n make it out," Xander slurred.

"Yeah, I'm just wandering out for a piss," Bill glibly lied.

"Righ', righ'... lessee... car keys..."


Outside, Bill found two girls, a blonde and a redhead, waiting desperately.

"Hey, have you seen," the redhead began, "XANDER!"

"He yours?," Bill asked, handing the youth to the girl.

"We've been so worried!," the girl said, looking at Xander.

Xander's eyes opened as he heard a familiar voice. "You! 'Member you... no good lying snake, you said..."

Chapter 1

Bill's eyes narrowed. He didn't know the boy, but he wasn't leaving him with two girls who he had said had given him the shovel.

"C'mon, Xander," the redhead said imperiously. "We're sorry for what we said, we just wanna get you home."

"Look, I don't know who you are, but he was talking about you earlier," Bill announced. "And he's staying with me."

"Yeah? You see my hand with five little arguments on why he's coming with us?," the blonde demanded.

"Buffy!," the redhead hissed.

Xander's head lifted. "'M not goin' t'... t'... wi' you."

"You are so!," Buffy said, eyes widening in shock. "Mum and Giles are worried! Whoever you are, go away. Xander's a friend of ours."

"'Course G an' 'is... his... wossname, squeeze is," Xander smirked drunkenly. Left arm around Bill's shoulders, he waggled his right index finger at the two females. "They give a shit about me -- you lot just use me."

"We do not!," the redhead denied vehemently.

"'kin A you... God, 'm gonna be sick..."

Bill managed to get the boy facing a drain before he let loose. He took another quick look at the two girls -- they looked hurt, and determined.

"Want to crash at my place?," he hissed to the lad. He'd been around his share of angry women in the past, and wouldn't wish a hostile femme on any man.


Bill and Xander staggered down the street, the two girls trailing behind them.

"HEY!," the redhead yelled. "Give him back!"

Sighing, the man ignored them as he pulled his keys out of his pocket, opening the door with a deftness born of many drunken nights. He arranged the boy on his sofa, then returned to find the two girls camped on his doorstep.

"What now?," he frowned.

"Give our Xander back!," the redhead demanded again.

"Look, whoever you are," Bill said, yawning, "come back in the morning, when we're all in a better mood."

"NO!," the blonde said stridently.

"If you two don't piss off in the next ten seconds, I'm calling the fucking cops," Bill snarled, finally losing his patience. He slammed the door shut.

"WE'RE NOT GOING AWAY!," a female voice bellowed. Mrs Next Door bellowed right back to go to bed.

Bill scratched his cat's ears, telling the tom to go back to sleep as he reached for the telephone.

"Hey, is this the police? Yeah, I've got a couple females...," Bill paused, listening to a sound of breaking glass, "breaking and entering, disturbing the peace, and declaring hostile intent."

"Okay, see you in a minute."


Joyce woke up to sunlight in her eyes and the telephone ringing. Who had the number of the hotel she was staying at? Was it Giles? She reached over to the handset, lifting it to her ears.

"Hello? Mrs Summers? This is Officer Knight speaking, we've got your daughter locked up down at the station, could you come and get her?"

"What on earth happened? She's normally a very polite girl."

"Officer Clark has a black eye and a broken arm that says otherwise, ma'am."


Buffy cringed as her mother glared at her through the rearview mirror. Beside her, Willow looked even more mortified.

"I can't believe you, Buffy! Not only did you manage to get arrested, you beat up a policeman!"

"It wasn't my fault!," Buffy insisted. "That guy wouldn't let us take Xander with us!"

"Take? Take? What's this take business?," Joyce shot back. "Xander's a person, he's eighteen, he's grown up enough to make his own... decisions."

Her voice caught itself momentarily. "A-And if he doesn't want to be near us after... what happened, that's his decision as well."

"But," Willow began. A Look quietened her.

"Now," Joyce said, parking on the side of the road and pulling the hand brake, "you two stay here."

She got out of the car, knocking on the address she'd wormed out of Buffy. A fairly nondescript man in a dressing gown answered.

"Hi, I'm Joyce Summers. Buffy's mum? I'm terribly sorry about last night," Joyce began.

"It wasn't your fault," the man demurred. "They didn't understand that no means no, that's all. I'm sorry it had to come to that."

"I don't know where I failed," Joyce sighed. She brightened up slightly. "Could I speak to Xander, at all?"

"The boy?," the man asked rhetorically. He turned his head. "Xander, there's a Mrs Summers here to see you!"

Chapter 2

Xander opened his eyes, then immediately closed them again. The sun was far too bright to get up today.

"Xander?," a familiar, tentative voice called out.

He got up from the oh-so-comfortable sofa, and stumbled to the front door. He was still clad in the same clothes he had been wearing last night.

"Hi, Mrs S," he said hoarsely. "You wouldn't happen to have a paracetamol on you? A spare head, perhaps?"

"Sorry, all I've got is panadol," the woman smiled. She offered him a box of the tablets. Xander took two and dry swallowed them.

"It's nice to see you, but I hope that Buffy and Willow aren't with you," Xander said. "No offense intended."

"They're in the car, and not allowed out," Joyce frowned. "I can't believe them! Treating you like that... where did I go wrong?"

"You can't control everything they do," Bill shrugged.

"It wasn't your fault," Xander said, then yawned. "Sorry."

"It wasn't your fault," Joyce smiled gently. "Feel free to come visit any time you want Xander -- I heard that your parents kicked you out. You've got a room at my house, if you want to claim it."

"I don't wanna make trouble for you with Buffy," Xander began. "Then again, she can't cook so you're probably completely safe."

"Well, Giles has made the same offer," Joyce said. She gave the two girls in the SUV a hard look, and they winced. "Buffy and Willow have court dates today, so I can't help you transport wise today..."

"I might take the G-man up on that," Xander nodded. His face darkened. "He's always stood by me, just like you."

"Well, do you have time for a cuppa joe, or do you have to get going?," Bill asked. He'd merely intended to help someone last night, and he was finding that he was getting two new friends out of the deal. "Tim is coming around at ten, though."

"I have to get going, I'm afraid," Joyce frowned slightly. She stepped inside. "Ah, could you show me what all the fuss was about, Xander?"

Xander closed the door, then closed his eyes and concentrated.

"Oh, my," Joyce breathed. "Beautiful... so long and sleek..."

Xander lost his concentration as his eyes flew open, and lost his state of mind. "Hey! I'm a guy! Guys aren't beautiful!"


Joyce pulled out her cellphone as she put the key into the ignition, pushing the speed dial.

"Rupert? It's Joyce here."

"Oh, he's decided to take you up on your offer. He doesn't want to be any trouble for me, you see."

"I can't -- the girls managed to get a court date."

"I can take care of... well, if you insist."

"Okay, the number where he's at right now is..."


Giles sighed as the car slowed to a halt outside the strange building. He stared at nothing in the far distance.

How truly disappointing, to find that two of his charges were so shallow in outlook and disposition. The sadness at his other charge's treatment was worse than the disappointment, however. He took a deep breath, then released it and opened the car door.

Knocking on the front door revealed Xander. His drawn face showed better than any verbal denial how this whole affair had thrown the young man badly.

"Giles! Man, am I glad to see you," Xander smiled.

"As am I," the Englishman smiled in return. "May I enter?"

Xander gestured wordlessly inside. Giles stepped inside the small apartment. The door to the kitchen was shut, and the strains of a violin and a piano could be heard through it.

Giles swallowed nervously. "Well... where do we begin? I mean..."

"What's to say?," Xander asked. "They found out that I'm a freak, and threw me out."

The Watcher sighed. "Unfortunately for the bitch and the queen."

"Giles!," Xander gasped, surprised at the Englishman's language.

Giles' eyebrows rose. "I was being exactly accurate in my language, Xander. And as for the freak comment... did I ever tell you why myself and my father do not talk these days?"

"You never mentioned your family," Xander shrugged. "I thought you were just being English about it."

"Like you, I grew up thinking that I was braindead, as they put it these days, until a fateful day visiting London Zoo."

"Those zoos should be banned," Xander grumped.

"Now, they do do a lot of good," Giles reprimanded gently. He grinned slightly. "Oh, Father was livid when he found out. While nearly all of my lineage is British, and thus rather boringly sylvan, Grandfather married an Arabian girl who introduced something of a wild factor which blossomed in myself."

"You don't mean...," Xander asked, eyes wider than he had ever had them before.

Giles' head rose, and Xander gasped at his eyes. "There was a reason for my surprising ability as a warlock in my younger years."

Chapter 3

Xander blinked repeatedly. "Does that mean that I'll have the power, too?"

Giles laughed. "Heavens, no. You're an entirely different type to me. My name is Naja haje, of the Elapidae family. You're a retic."

"Ohhh," Xander nodded. "A choke-y type. Gotcha."

Giles sighed. "Yes. A... choke-y type, as you put it."

"I still don't like this," Xander muttered.

"Are we evil?," Giles asked.

"No!," Xander said immediately.

The music floating from the kitchen faded out sharply at that point, and the door opened to show Bill and a thin man holding a violin, looking worried. A grey tomcat arrogantly strutted into the room, jumping onto an armchair and curling up.

"Er, good morning," Giles said politely. "Please don't stop on my account -- quite a beautiful rendition of Mussorgsky and Ravel."

"That's alright," Bill said. "Xander, who's he?"

"Oh, he's Giles," Xander said easily. "Giles, this is Bill, and Tim."

"You're not here to make trouble, are you?," Bill frowned.

"Absolutely not!," Giles protested. "I've offered Xander a place to live for the time being. I've known him for quite awhile."

"Thanks for having me," Xander said politely. "I can probably pay you for breakfast and staying here, if you want..."

"Not on your life," Bill said sternly. He handed Xander a slip of paper. "My price is you taking my number and ringing me. Say, what town are you from?"

"Sunnydale," Xander shrugged. "It's Hell, but it's home."

The cat sneezed, and Bill looked at him. "Quiet, you. No sassin' the guests."

"Shall we get going then, Xander?," Giles asked.

"Sure thing, G-man," Xander grinned.

"Please don't call me that."

"I'll see you when I see you then, Xander, G," Bill smiled.


Xander looked over at the Englishman who was driving. "Hey, did you ever find out what Angel had a thing for?"

"Rabbits," Giles said, lips twitching.

"Bunnies?," Xander asked incredulously. "The Great Angelus talks to bunnies?!"

"Oh, yes," Giles nodded. "He was quite mortified when I read that out loud in the Library last night."

"No wonder he hung in the shadows so much," Xander mused out loud. A thought crossed his mind. "I won't have to join that order thing, will I? I mean now that I've found out what I am."

Giles shook his head. "Dear Lord, no. The Order tried shaking me down, as it were, for a membership and the money thereof, but I dissuaded them quite sternly. Really, they had no sense of decorum whatsoever."

"They aren't gonna be all Godfather on us, are they?," Xander frowned.

"Not if they know what's good for them," Giles said.

"And I still can't believe that you called the girls queens and bitches," Xander continued. "I mean, they tried to hurt me, sure, but that was going a bit far, right?"

"Americans," Giles sighed. "A female dog is called a bitch. The Slayer is a bitch. A female cat is a queen. Willow is a queen."

"Ohhh," Xander said, lightbulb going on. "Hey, why didn't Ampata trigger the change? She was some snake thingy."

"Anaconda," Giles said. "Quite different to a retic. Different continent, for a start."

"They are?," Xander asked.

"Don't you pay attention to anything?"


"I took the liberty of rescueing your belongings from your former abode," Giles said as he unlocked his front door. "Although I'm afraid your parents were... attempting to dispose of them already."

Xander rushed past the Englishman, lifting a virulently green Hawaiian shirt from the box sitting on the coffee table. "Way to go, G-man!"

Giles winced. "Please put that away. I thought for a moment that there was some manner of radiation leak."

"Ha, ha," Xander said. "Thanks for putting me up. Where did you say I could sleep, again?"

"Just in the guest bedroom here," Giles said opening a door. He moved the piles of books on the bed onto the piles around the bed. "I'm afraid that there isn't a lot of room..."

"It's cool," Xander said, throwing the box of clothes and stuff onto another pile. "Or warm, since all that paper'd be good insulation."

"Miss Calendar is visiting this evening, and tea is at six o'clock," Giles said, looking nervous.

"You go, Giles!," Xander smirked. "Man, I can't believe the school librarian is getting more than me..."