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Vanishing Act
By NautiBitz

Title: Vanishing Act

Author: NautiBitz (

Show | Pairing | Rating: Buffy the Vampire Slayer | Spike/Buffy implied | PG13

Summary: Post-'Gone', Buffy, Xander and Anya have a little mid-research chat about their favorite vampire. Buffy bails, Anya gets suspicious, and Xander finally swims out of DeNile.

Timeline: Season 6, soon after 'Gone'

Originally Published/Completed: January 2002

Genres: Comedy, Short

Length: 1,580 words

Awards Won: "Best Comedy/Fluff" from Love's Last Glimpse Awards. See 'em in all their shiny glory here.

Author's Note: This fic, for some bizarre reason, may have started a cross-fandom fanfiction trend (and now, an annoying cliché) in which characters are constantly "popping the 'P'". I'm pretty sure I didn't get it from anywhere else, so I may be solely responsible for this phenomenon. ...Sorry?

Distribution: Links only, please. Do not reprint. Do not post translations. Thanks!

Disclaimer: You know the drill. 20th Century Fox Corp owns everyone but me.

Rights: I do not own these characters or the worlds they inhabit. However, the text I have written is not YOURS to paste into your own fic in any way, shape or form. That is called plagiarism, and it is not cool. Not that YOU would ever do that, because YOU are awesome. Obviously. :)

Feedback: Better than invisi-sex.

"I still say it's witches," Anya said, taking a seat beside her fiancé at the Magic Box roundtable.

Xander chastised, "We don't equate witches with black cats and brooms anymore, Anya."

"Why not? Willow isn't here. And the fact is, witches have kept cats for centuries. I'm sorry, but demons don't go around pilfering household pets." Her shoulders spasmed. "It's tacky."

"So maybe it's not demons," Xander offered. "Maybe it's just your garden-variety cult large with the animal sacrifice."

Or maybe it's demons breeding kittens for your boyfriend's poker games, Buffy thought bitterly, flipping a page in her book. "You know, guys, kitten rescue isn't exactly Slayer territory. Maybe we should be concentrating on finding the Geek Squad's new hideout instead."

"Will's on it." Xander gave her a dismissive wave. "All this realtime Sherlocking is doing her good -- we should leave her to it. It's not like they're a serious threat to you anyway."

"No, but they're annoying as all get-out."

"Well, this catnap caper could be more than annoying," he pointed out. "It could mean there's a scary new evil in town stockpiling the allergens necessary to bring forth Apocalypse number..."

"Nine," Buffy finished.


Relenting, she saluted. "Aye aye, cap'n. Kittycat search mode, re-engaged."

Anya's eyes glazed on a block of text. "Maybe you should ask Spike if he's heard anything."

Did Anya know something? Buffy answered as casually as she could: "Yeah. Maybe. I'll stop by his crypt later."

Xander perked up. "Ah, just make sure you don't walk in on him while he's with his," he rabbit-eared his fingers to airquote, "'imaginary friend'."

"His huh?" Buffy asked.

"Oh yeah, our Spikey has officially lost it." Xander bobbed a finger at her. "He so needs a girlfriend, and stat."

Eyes widening, Buffy covered with a grimace of distaste. "Well, don't look at me."

"I'm not... looking." He put his hand down. "I'm gesturing. Two very different things."

"Imaginary friend?" Anya's curiosity was piqued. "You didn't tell me about this."

"I didn't?" He considered this. "Oh, that must be because I blocked it out due to all the emotional pain and suffering it caused me. I would sue if he had a nickel to his name, but no, instead I'll haveta put this one up there in the Hall of Fame of traumatizing Spike images, right below the infamous Bot Boink, and juuust a notch above the kissy-kissy Wedding Spell."

"Gee, thanks," Buffy said.

"Sorry. Didn't mean to bring up painful memories."

Buffy shook her head. "Not the memories. The fact that all of your traumatizing images have something to do with me."

"Well... only because you're -- you. And he's," he shuddered, "Him. Anyway, this last one didn't involve you. At least... you weren't present."

"O-of course not," she stammered. "But still."

"So what was it?" Anya tugged on his sleeve.

"What was what?"

"The disturbing image!"

"Oh." Xander leaned in excitedly. "Get this. I walk into his bedroom 'cause I'm lookin' for Buffy--"

"You were looking for her in his bedroom?"

"No, no. I wanted to know if he'd seen her. Anyway, I walk in, and he's naked, in bed, and he's--" Xander made his 'shrimp' face. "Well he said he was 'exercising', but--"

"Found something!" Buffy blared, shoving her book his way.

Xander squinted at the page. "Where?"

"There," Buffy said, pointing indiscriminately.

Xander read aloud, "'The Gachnyos demon. A... gentle vegetarian.'" He looked up. "What about it?"

"Well, it's--" Buffy looked at the page she showed him. "Mad ugly, that's for sure. Oh, it eats 'oats'! I thought it said 'cats'. Never mind."

No matter what Buffy did to change the subject, Anya wouldn't let this go. "So he said he was exercising, but?"

"But he's really," Xander paused dramatically, "doing the wild thing with nothing."

Buffy groaned, wishing she could pull another vanishing act right about now.

Anya was intrigued. "With nothing? How?" This was much more entertaining than clueing for cat burglars.

"Like..." he waved his hands as he settled on a description. "Like obscene push-downs into thin air."

"Huh." Anya blanched as she pictured it. "Strange..."

"Strange would be an understatement. I'd say more like psychotic, and--"

"Well, that's Spike for ya!" Buffy interjected with a nervous titter.

"Oh, but that's not all," Xander said.

Buffy tried another tack. "Okay, I so don't wanna know about whatever Spike does when he's alone."

"Oh, I do," Anya encouraged. "Go on."

"The sickest part of it was, I heard a girl's voice. Like he had some tape playing, so he could complete the illusion or something."

Anya gasped. "Oh, how w--"

Suddenly, Buffy shot into the air and smacked herself in the forehead: "Kitten poker!"

Anya blinked at her. "What?"

Buffy snapped her fingers. "I just remembered. I heard something a while ago about... about demons playing poker for kittens!"

"Kittens as currency?" Anya asked, brow wrinkled.

"Yep," Buffy said, popping the 'p'.

Xander mulled this over. "So they're stealing cats... to breed kitten chips?"

"Could be," Buffy replied brightly. "You know, we-we should split up. Check out all the demon haunts in town."

"And what do we do when we find them?" Xander asked. "Say, 'hand over those kittens, or else?'"

"We'll just do recon for tonight. No fighting."

"Well, what if someone picks a fight?" Concerned, Anya squeezed her fiancé's shoulder. "Neither one of us is allowed to die or even get slightly injured before the wedding."

"Oh. Right. Of course not. So I'll go alone," the Slayer decided.

"But Buff, does kitten poker really qualify as apocalypsey? I mean, you said it yourself -- animal rights defender isn't part of the job descrip."

Buffy shrugged. "What the hell? Nothin' else to do. I'll call you guys later?"

"Sure," Xander said. "We'll be at home."

"Be careful!" Anya called. "No death before the wedding for you, either!"

"Too late," Buffy threw back as she breezed out the door, satisfied that the subject of Spike's 'imaginary friend' was now closed.

Xander closed his book. "Well, I guess our work here is done."

"Is it me or did she seem really jumpy?" Anya asked, eyes still on the door.

"Buffy? She's just getting back to her old high-energy self is all. I, for one, am glad to see her back." He slung an arm over the top of Anya's chair.

"Well, there's high-energy, and there's jumpy. That was jumpy. Almost... defensive-jumpy."

"Defensive? About what?"

"How should I know? She was defending it."

"So, what are you saying?"

"Nothing," she said. "Just... making an observation."

He grabbed her and nuzzled into her neck, cooing playfully, "And that's why I love you, 'cuz you're the observiest--"

"Xander, stop." She pushed him away. "I've got the disturbing image in my head now."

He sighed heavily. "Yeah, me too. I was hoping that'd make it go away."

Suddenly, Anya wondered, "Why were you looking for Buffy, anyway?"

"Because she was invisible, remember? The pudding?"

"Oh," Anya said, and processed this information. "Oh. It was while Buffy was invisible?"

"Yeah, that day," he said, piling up the books.

"You found Spike having sex with thin air... that day."

He stood up to return the books to the shelf. "Well, I figure he does it every day, just not when I have the displeasure of seeing it."

She nodded. "Mm-hm."

"I mean, he doesn't have the Bot, he doesn't have Harmony, so what else is left but an invisible--" Xander stopped cold, book frozen in mid-shelving.

Anya raised a brow, waiting.

"... girl..." he breathed, eyes darting everywhere. The book fell to the ground.

Thin lipped, Anya looked at him expectantly.

He locked eyes with her, several expressions fleeting across his features: confusion, clarity, horror, and finally disbelief. "No. No way."

"Defensive-jumpy," she reminded him in sing-song.

Xander approached the table, hands slicing the air. "No WAY!"

Indifferent, Anya shrugged.

"Oh my god, the, the kitchen!" Xander began to put things together. "And the, the mess, and the -- ear moving and... She... she wouldn't. She wouldn't!" He stared at his fiancée, aghast. "Would she?"

She shrugged again.

"We have to do something about this!"

"What?" Anya said calmly. "Tell her not to make her own decisions?"

"But -- it's SPIKE!" Xander's arms fanned out.

"Your only male friend, you mean."


"That's what you told me. 'Spike is the closest thing I have to a male friend', you said."

"I was being caustic and regretful!" Xander said. "And even if it was true, it's not anymore!"


"Because." He plunked down in his chair. "This is just wrong."

Anya thought for a moment as she clicked her ballpoint pen. "For which one of you?"

"Which one of who?"

"Is it wrong for Buffy? Or wrong for you?"

"I -- for Buffy! Hello? He's evil? Killed thousands of people? Tried to kill us all?"

She arched a brow.

"Don't give me that look. You and him are nothing alike."

"No, especially not when you count that I was killing people nine hundred years before he was even born."

He rolled his eyes, punctuating with a sigh. "Fine. Point begrudgingly taken."

Anya smiled, patted his head and stood. "Then it's settled." She walked towards the cash register. "It's time to rearrange the seating chart again."

Xander's head landed in his hands. "No!"

As she stuck the last post-it into place, Anya admired her work.

"Buffy and Spike. Table One."







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