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11 August 2006 @ 07:47 pm
Are there mummies driving busses?  
Xander slung his duffel over his shoulder and looked at the signs pointing to the taxi stand. "You got your stuff?" he asked, turning to his traveling companion. Why Giles had insisted on the younger man going with him, he wasn't sure, but it probably had something to do with the way Andrew had put flag stickers on the new slayers files to show 'at a glance' what country they were from.

"Hey, Xander, look! The cars are on the other side of the road just like on television!" Andrew said, his eyes very wide. He pulled his luggage behind him, careful not to knock anyone over or run into anyone. It was hard, because he just wanted to look around at everything. He'd never been to London before.

Trying hard to be nonchalant about it, though he'd never been out of the country either, Xander just shrugged. "Yep," he said, looking over at Andrew's suitcase as they walked to the taxis. "You do know we're only here for a few days, until Buffy gets back, right? We're not moving in for months."

"Well, I read a lot of comic books, and they take up room. I buy trade paperbacks, you know, because they don't have ads. I hate ads. One time I was reading this comic and there was an ad for some Superman game, and I was like, what! That's a DC ad in my Marvel—ahh!" Andrew gave a sudden shriek as he was nearly run over by a taxi. Maybe he'd had too much caffeine on the plane.

Xander tried not to roll his eyes. "I'd rather get them as they come out. Not so much waiting," he said, shrugging as he looked carefully to the left first and then the right before crossing the narrow street to where a line of cabs waited. He went to the first and got in the back, waiting for Andrew to join him as he told the cabbie where to go.

Andrew dashed across the street, pretending he was in some fabulous get-away movie and was wearing something stylish in black and had a huge amount of diamonds in his bag. That was the kind of villain he wanted to be. He settled into the cab and looked around, watching in interest as the scenery flew by. "Maybe we'll see a double-decker bus driven by a mummy!"

"This isn't the Mummy 2, Andrew," he said, trying to stifle a sigh, though he couldn't help but look at the busses warily. He did not want to be fighting the undead on this vacation.

"Yeah, um, I know that," Andrew said a bit huffily, wondering if this whole vacation was going to be Xander acting all annoyed with him. Why would no one ever like him? He fell quiet, some of his excitement in the vacation leaving. He wasn't here to do anything important, and no one really wanted him around. He was a nuisance and always would be.

Xander felt a bit guilty at the look on Andrew's face, and as the silence stretched it increased. "So you're a Marvel man?" he asked finally. "I always went for DC myself really, though I like Ultimate."

"You…you do? I like Ultimate too." Andrew looked up, smiling shyly. "I like Ultimate X-Men, even though I hear all the hardcore fans think it's dumb because they're doing all the storylines all over again. I like Gambit. He's cute and everyone likes him. Like you," Andrew said, then looked down, suddenly embarrassed. "I'm probably more like Juggernaut, who's a big klutz and accidentally kills people."

"I like the new artists, and I never read the old comics – too expensive to buy back issues," Xander said, shrugging and slightly embarrassed. "And you've never killed anyone by accident."

Seeing the cabbie looking at them in the rearview, he continued. "Or at all," he said, hoping Andrew didn't say anything about that.

"Yeah," Andrew said, staring out of the window, most of his good cheer having vanished. Predictably, the moment he saw a red phone booth, he perked up again. "I wonder if Dr. Who is in there?"

"Why do all you Yanks ask that?" The cabbie asked, but he sounded amused. "We're here, mates. Be ten pounds even."

Andrew counted through the colorful paper money out and handed over enough to cover the fare plus a tip. "This is nice! It's…okay, not really nice, like not Buckingham Palace nice—do you think we can see that?—but it must be nice because it's not on a Hellmouth." He began dragging his suitcase towards the entrance to the building.

The cabbie gave them a strange look, which Xander ignored. "I'm sure we can. I'd like to do a little sight seeing while we're here. Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, Tower of London … why is it that every place we go, we see places where people were tortured?" he asked as they knocked on the door of the correct apartment.

Having seen them from the window, Dawn threw open the door. "Because we're from Sunnydale. It's a curse," she said, grinning and hugging Xander tightly. Despite everything, she was really glad he was here.

She turned to Andrew. "Andrew! I didn't know you were coming," she said, giving him a hug too. Perfect – he'd distract Xander with touristy things.

Andrew smiled at Dawn, whom he'd always liked. "Hi, Dawn! Yeah, Giles said I should come because I'm annoying him. I mean, he didn't say that, but I kind of got the feeling that's what he meant." He looked around the small flat, then unleashed a torrent of words as was his habit. "This is nice! Where does all our stuff go? Do your clocks show military time? Is there a spare bookshelf I can put my comics on because they're really heavy. Ooh, do you know if there's a comic shop around? Do you have a phone book? Do they call them that?"

She didn't think it was possible, but she'd missed him, strangely enough. "Dump it wherever – sorry, but you're going to have to share the sofa bed, unless one of you wants to bunk in Buffy's room until she gets back. And I don't know about the comic shop. There's a phone book in the closet, though."

"Don't think I want to sleep in the Slayer's bed," Andrew said, shivering. He deposited his bag in the middle of the floor, then began unpacking with single-minded determination. Within ten minutes, he had everything put away and focused on organizing his comics. Biting his lip, he went to Xander and held out one. "I—I thought you might like this. It's called Runaways. It's about these kids that find out their parents are evil supervillains. They run away and fight evil. Like—like you do. Did. Anyway." Nervously, he held it out, wondering if Xander would make fun of him. Maybe he shouldn't bother…

Xander took it, giving him a smile. "Thanks," he said. Willow had lent him her laptop a while back, and he'd heard good things about it on the message boards. While Andrew had been unpacking, Xander had raided the fridge. "I don't know, Dawn, no offense, but week-old lasagna isn't very … appetizing."

"Well, we could get carryout, only they call it takeaway here," she offered, looking at Andrew. "Or … I know! You guys can go out to dinner! There's a great Indian place around the corner."

Andrew smiled back, feeling himself blushing at the idea of having dinner with Xander. "I like Indian food," he said carefully, trying not to sound overly excited. "I really like curry. But my favorite is murg makani. Or it's something like that. It has cream sauce. And nan!" He realized he was babbling again. "Um. So should we go? Aren't you hungry, Dawn, too?"

Dawn hooked her fingers into the back pockets of her jeans. "Oh, not really," she said, going for innocence. "I wanted to go to this … book shop I found anyway. It's open pretty late – they've got medieval poetry readings there. You two can come, if you want."

Xander winced. "As much fun as that sounds – which is not at all, by the way, you've gone crazy since coming here – I'm starving."

Andrew had found the phone book in the closet and was searching through it, all the while giggling at the very English sounding names—"Mrs. Beckettsworth's Tea Shoppe!"—and looking up the location of the comic store. "I'm starving too! And I found the comic store. If you…you know. Wanted to go."

He had a good bit of vacation money burning a hole in his wallet, so Xander grinned. "The first thing I do when I'm in England is go to a comic book shop. I'd say somebody should take away my cool license, but I never really had it anyway," he said, shrugging. He glanced at Dawn. "Er … I feel like we're abandoning you. We are here to keep an eye on you after all."

"Buffy left three days ago and I … found an amulet for her to beat the kelpie with. Well, not beat as in a weapon, but as in magic. Anyway, I'll be fine. Nothing happened while nobody was looking in on me, so go. Shoo. Enjoy the sights," she said, excited about her evening out. She had a particular dance club in mind, and from what the papers said, it was really cool.

Andrew exchanged a look with Dawn. He knew what she was trying to do. Obviously, the girl wanted a little freedom. He'd been kept in that house with all those women enough to remember what that was like. "Yeah, I never thought I'd ever see London! But right now I really want to know what's going on in Ultimate—I need the last four issues," Andrew whined, rocking on his heels. "And I'm starving."

"You two kids have fun," Dawn said, her eyes twinkling as Xander shot her a look. "I'll call if I'll be in too late."

"From a poetry reading?" he asked dubiously, not quite believing her.

"Well … they have tea afterwards and we discuss things. It's very … Giles," she said, trying to come up with a good reason – one that wouldn't make him suspicious.

Reluctantly, he agreed. "All right. Don't have too much fun with your poetry," he said, grinning.

Dawn fished into her pocket for the spare key. "Here. In case you're back before I am," she said, handing it to Andrew.

Andrew grinned at her, pocketing the key. "Thanks, Dawn! Don't like, you know. Be too much like Giles while you're there. I mean, you're more fun when you're you." He turned to Xander. "Ready?"

Xander nodded. "See you later, gator," he said to Dawn as they stepped out of the apartment. "Wait, do we know how to get there or are we taking a cab?"

Andrew was already dashing down the street. "Let's just walk! I'm sick of sitting down." He looked around and laughed. He hadn't felt this good…well, in a long time. Since before Warren, and Jonathan…a long time. "It's funny that when we were fighting evil, all of this was here. Like, people crossed the street and went to eat nan and visited comic book stores and never knew." He stared up at the sky.

Surprised by Andrew’s comment, Xander just shrugged. “We’ve kept the world turning and nobody knows. The life of the sidekicks – lots of danger and none of the perks.”

Andrew thought about that for a minute. “Yeah. But we get nan. And maybe I can see the Tower of London.” He smiled at Xander, and it turned into a grin. “So that’s okay.”

“Sounds like a plan to me,” Xander admitted, slipping his hands into his pockets. “Lead the way, MacDuff.”