juniperberry: (serious xander is serious)
[personal profile] juniperberry
Still in-progress, obviously.



This may turn into something else entirely, actually, given the Seelie and Unseelie Courts.

***

It started—as far as Xander knew—at a fancy schmancy function of the council. It was some sort of diplomatic function, with the Seelie Court and all the good faeries in attendance. This meant that Xander was wearing at least three protective-obscuring charms on his person, and a rather uncomfortable suit.

All the attendants were wearing a sort of weird formal wear; Buffy had flitted past him earlier that night in a blue dress that was cut in the shape of aspen leaves, and Willow wore something that sort of resembled oak. Xander was only keeping a little of his attention on Dawn, as she was wearing something simultaneously opaque and incredibly sheer. Xander had enough problems, he didn't need to squick himself out by perving on a girl he used to babysit. Once was enough for that.

He had tried to argue with Buffy. “I'm not fancy-party material,” he'd said, but Buffy had waved that away with the fact that Xander could pull off a tux with ridiculous ease.

“Everyone looks good in a tux,” he'd argued. “Andrew looks good in a tux, Buff!”

“You look smashing,” she'd said, undetered, as she fixed his button-down shirt and leafy blazer . “That is the British way of saying you look great, right?”

“Yes, but that's not the point,” Xander had complained. “One-eye guy pulls off a striped pirate shirt and a parrot better.”

She'd hit him for that, and he was pretty sure he still had the bruise flowering on his bicep. “You'll look great—just as wonderful with one eye. Don't even give me that.”

That had been her serious voice, with a hint of tears, and he'd given up that position. “Fine. I'm not diplomatic fancy-party guy,” he'd said. “Didn't Willow say something about how, uh, touchy, our guests are?”

“That's why you'll have a bunch of charms to keep you out of trouble,” Buffy had replied, and Xander hadn't been able to argue with that. He was a great deal better about keeping his feet out of his mouth, but he was by no means cured.

Most of the people there who weren't council were Fae, and Xander had heard enough horror stories from Willow that he had decided to simply wedge himself into a corner and let all her charms work on keeping him out of the eye of the extremely lovely faerie ladies and men that crowded the dance floor. The Seelie Court had made a few concessions to the council; only human musicians were allowed to play, and the council supplied the drinks and the food, which was why Xander was sipping a glass of fruit punch and doing his best impression of the invisible man.

“The last thing we need,” Giles had muttered the night before, “is half our people dancing off to a faerie's hall Underhill somewhere, and not coming out for seven years.”

“Or twenty, or ever,” Willow had added, and Xander shuddered. No thanks, he was okay being right where he was.

The floor was crowded with council people—mostly of the stuffy British persuasion—and fae, who looked human, but only a little. This woman had the eyes of a fox, that man had antlers budding out of his temples, that young lady had birch leaves winding through her hair, naturally tangled. Xander sort of wanted to dive in, maybe take a dance with a lovely fae person, but Willow's stories echoed in his head. He didn't want to take the chance of offending one of them and ending up with one leg the size of a five-year-old's, or having his only working eye gouged out like its twin had been.

The fruit punch left a bad taste in his mouth, as though some of the fruit was left to ferment—in a bad way—before it got all punchy with the others. Buffy was strictly sipping water, when she wasn't dancing, and most of the other council people were following her example. Giles was one of the exceptions, sipping some of the expensive, amber liquor laid out—whiskey or scotch, something like that, for which Xander had never developed an appreciation.

Dance after dance after dance. He did step out onto the dance floor to twirl around with Willow, and once again after that with Buffy, but after that he started feeling claustrophobic.

“I'm going out for a little air,” he said, as he leaned down to speak in Willow's ear. The music was loud enough that regular talking wouldn't cut it anymore.

“Be careful,” she said, and squeezed his hand. He grinned at her and weaved his way through the crowd to the gardens. A good portion of the party had rolled outside, but there was a clump of rowan trees that the fae guests were giving a wide berth. Xander headed straight for it, the strains of a fiddle and three different kinds of musical pipe following him out. A fountain was situated underneath one of the trees, and Xander splashed his face with the water.

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December 2016

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