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Cardboard Boxes

Title: Cardboard Boxes
Words: ~1800
Rating: PG
Characters: ATS and BTVS Ensemble, with pairing hints out the wazoo!
Setting: Between ATS S4 and S5

Fred grunted softly as she set down another cardboard boxes in the hallway. She stood straight again, wiping the light sheen of sweat from her forehead. She turned and looked back into her mostly emptied room, all that remained was the furniture and one last pile of clothing.

She heard a soft whistling coming from down the hallway and turned to see Gunn walking towards her. “Hey,” he said, holding his hand up in greeting.

“Hey,” she said with a weak smile.

“Need any help taking this stuff down to the truck?” He offered.

Fred nodded, “Yeah. Thanks for givin’ me a lift.” She added.

“Not a problem.” He said, hoisting up a few of the boxes, “I got a kickin’ ride,” he winked, “might as well use it.”

Fred smiled as she watched him walk down the hallway, before returning to the room to pack up that final box. As she glanced out the window, she noticed a yellow school bus sitting in the front drive of the hotel.

Wesley taped down the flaps of a final cardboard box in the office and set it down on top of a pile of three. He knelt down, gripping the last box firmly, and hoisting the corrugated tower up. Making his way out into the lobby to place these with the others, stumbling and swaying and trying to keep all the boxes together, he must have looked like some new cardboard demon or something. He was sure he heard a familiar voice call out- “Hold on! Let me help you!”

The voice owner removed the top two boxes, but he was not expecting the face of Buffy Summers to be his rescuer and it was very clear from her gaping expression that she certainly had not expected… well… him. The stubble, the contacts, the tired gaze, and the visible ruggedness of his life as a rogue demon hunter since the last time they’d met, it all clearly stunned her. It also stunned him as she lost her grip on the boxes as she managed to gasp out “WESLEY?” The boxes took a spill onto his right foot and he winced in pain.

“Ah…. Ah… ah…” He shut his eyes, gritting his teeth and began to hop up and down on the uninjured foot, he motion causing him to drop the last boxes onto the good one.

“Wesley.” He heard another voice confirm, he glanced behind Buffy to see Giles, cleaning his glasses, as well as everyone he’d met in Sunnydale. Faith, Xander, and Willow all had filed into the hotel lobby. The latter was under a barrage of questions from the Slayer.

“Why didn’t you tell me about this?!” She asked.

The redhead’s eyes grew wide, “I forgot! You know… we kinda had… well, apocalypse!”

“But look at him! He looks like… Wesley’s evil twin or something!”

The subject of their conversation cleared his throat. “Not that I’m not happy to see all of you, but what- exactly- brings you here?”


Fred opened yet another door. “And this is the bedroom,” she concluded. “I guess that’s the grand tour.”

Willow stepped into the room, which was decorated mostly in boxes. The only unpacked item was Feigenbaum, who sat on the unmade bed gazing at the girls, pensively- it seemed- through toy glasses. “Wow!” the redhead exclaimed. “It’s gorgeous.” She turned to the Texan. “How did you get the money for this?”

“We, uh…” Fred wrung her hands, trying to come up with an explanation in which she used neither the word Wolfram nor Hart. “…got a new backer. New resources, better offices. They’re even paying for housing, hence the new apartment. It’s closer to work.”

The redhead nodded as her gaze wandered around the room and fell on the stuffed bunny. “Aww!” she exclaimed as she dove for the bed to hug it. It soon proved to be her downfall, as soon as her body hit the mattress it was evident it was not about to let her get up. “Sleepy, sleepy, sleepy.” She muttered against the stuffed animal.

Fred giggled as she sat down on the edge of the bed. “well yeah, you just saved the world! I bet you did some kind of really big spell, didn’t you!” She lay down, propping herself up on her elbows and looking at Willow, her eyes wide as though she’d just asked for the juicy details about a date.

“Yeah,” Willow said, “It was all FWOOSH and everything was all white and glowing and connected and… fwoosh?” she frowned. “I’m not explaining it very well.”

Fred just giggled again. “Get some rest. I’ll go get us some snacks.” She nearly jumped to her feet, eager to try out the new kitchen.

Willow smiled, “A beautiful girl bringing me food in bed? Kennedy would be so jealous.”

Fred paused in the doorway smirking a bit, “Well let’s just not tell her, then.”


Xander slowly pushed the door open. The beeping of the heart monitor fell on his ears like the crash of thunder. Unsure whether or not he wanted to see the figure lying on the bed beyond it, he approached the curtain with slow steps. Taking a look at the shoe box tucked under his arm, he took a steeling breath and pulled back the curtain.

Even comatose, Cordelia still manages to look like a queen. “Hey, Queen C.” he said softly, pulling a chair up next to the bed. “It’s been a while.” Xander watcher her face for any sign of… well, anything.


Sitting down, he took on of her soft hands between both of his. “You're gonna be just fine.” He whispered. “You’ve helped stopped the end of the world, you fought the Snake Mayor,  it takes more than a coma to get rid of Cordelia Chase.” He blinked back the tears tugging at his lone eye, hoping that at any moment those eyes of hers would flutter open. No more fun and games, Harris? She’d say. The though simply pulled more tears.

“You’re strong, okay? And you’re gonna wake up.  You have to wake up. And I know you’re not hearing a word I say, but what’s new?” he let out a bitter laugh. “So I wrote it all down for you… and then some… and some little trinkety things I thought you might want…” he patted the shoebox which must’ve contained aforementioned items. “So you can look at all that when you wake up.”

He grew silent, “God, Cordy… I can’t lose you too.”


“This,” Wesley said as the bartender handed him another scotch, “Is a far better idea than your original offer for tea.”

Giles nodded as he tipped the bottle of beer to his lips. “No, no. You’re quite right.” He said, he drained the remainder of the bottle and set it down along with the other three empty ones beside him. “Nothing like a good drink to dull away nerve shattering near-apocalypse.”

“So, the old bastard Quentin got himself blown up?” Wesley asked before taking a sip of the scotch. He saw Giles nod, and as he returned the glass to the table he nodded pensively. “Good for him. Good for all of them.”

“Why so hard on the Watchers?” the older man asked. “You used to be one of them.”

“Operative phrase here being ‘used to’, haven’t cared to much for them since they fired me.” Wesley replied, draining the glass. He looked to Giles questioningly, and seeing the nod declaring that he was all through, tossed some money onto the counter and both men stood. “Done more good here than I ever did with them.”

“Quite.” Giles said as the pair made their way out onto the Los Angeles evening streets. “I must agree, you’ve been a real asset to Angel from what I’ve heard… and being her victim aside, you’ve done amazing things for Faith.” Catching the questioning look from the younger man, he explained. “ Last I saw Faith, I could never have imagined that she would end up being the strong leader she became.”

“I think most of the credit for that goes to Angel and the California correctional system.” Wesley said.

Giles let out a short laugh, “Yes, but as I recall, you broke her out.”

As the pair strolled, a hobo, dressed in a ratty winter coat, with only one shoe, peered out from the cardboard box that he called his home. He held out a tin can to the two men and shook it, a few loose coins rattling around. He frowned and cursed as they passed him by.

Giles continued, “You set her to help Angel, and you sparked a fire in her to do good again. I dare say, you turned out to be a good Watcher after all. You did well, for her… and for yourself.”

“Well, I wouldn’t say that,” Wesley paused, “But at least I did better than that poor chap back there.”


Angel frowned softly. As he’d been packing, he came across a previously cast-aside photograph of a bubbly Cordelia cooing to baby Connor who drank contently from the bottle she was holding. The edges of the photo were beaten and wearing. A full corner of it had been ripped away.

So wrapped up in his discovery, he failed to hear or smell the approaching visitor. But he did feel the soft embrace around his shoulders and the tired head leaning against his back, the warm breath letting out a long bottled up sigh.

“Buffy,” he whispered softly.

“Hey,” she replied, her voice thick with exhaustion.

Angel set the photo aside and turned within her embrace, planting a gentle kiss on her forehead before bending down and gently capturing her lips. Her embrace tightened as she stood on her tiptoes. After what felt like an eternity and no time at all, the kiss ended.

“How did it go?” he asked.

“Well, I think the First is out of commission for a while.” Angel gestured for her to sit on one of the boxes. She did. “We lost Anya and spike in the battle though,” she said with a sigh.

Angel pulled up another box beside her and sat as well, “I should’ve been there.” He insisted.

“It’s good that you weren’t. This city needs your help, it couldn’t lose you too.” Buffy said, her mouth opened to say something else, but words wouldn’t come as the photo attracted her attention. She picked it up gingerly as she studied it. “Cordelia’s a mother? I missed a lot.”

Angel’s hand shot out, snatching the photo away. “He… he wasn’t Cordelia’s. He was Darla’s…”  He looked away but felt Buffy’s scrutinizing gaze upon his face.

“Just because she didn’t have him, doesn’t mean she’s not his mother.” Her voice’s softness drew his attention. He saw the open, pleading look in her eyes and sighed.

“It’s a long story.” He said, looking down at the photo.

Buffy just smiled, “I’ve got time.”


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 12th, 2007 12:34 am (UTC)
LOVE! That was great! Thank you so much for sharing this.

I especially liked the part with Xander talking to Cordelia... That was just about perfect. OH! I also really liked the surprise Buffy expressed at Wesley's change.
Aug. 12th, 2007 12:37 am (UTC)
=D I'm so glad you liked it. That little exchange between Buffy and Wesley was planned.. oh god... months ago. I only started this a few days ago, but it came about when a friend and I were talking and I knew someday it had to go into a fic.
Aug. 12th, 2007 02:28 pm (UTC)
Oh I love this! It's a nice sort of closure/transition into the next phase of their Fights.
Aug. 12th, 2007 10:02 pm (UTC)
:) Thank you. I'm really glad you liked it!
Aug. 12th, 2007 04:09 pm (UTC)
Fantabulous!!! Your willow voice is just...gah...incredible! More Willow/Fred please!

A very nice, very tight and quite plausible bridge between the two groups! Well done!
Aug. 12th, 2007 10:04 pm (UTC)
:) I was always disappointed by the lack of interaction between AI and the Scoobies and I always had this strong gut instinct that they would SO drive that school bus to L.A. afterwards.

More Willow/Fred will come about eventually
Aug. 12th, 2007 05:12 pm (UTC)
This is great. I love the exchanges between Wesley/Buffy and Wesley/Giles. I can imagine Wes and Giles sharing a drink like that. I especially like your scene with Xander and Cordelia, that is such a Xander thing to do. Very well written.
Aug. 12th, 2007 10:07 pm (UTC)
Thank you! :)
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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