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Title: Dust and Pies
Author: margottenenbaum
Fandoms: Pushing Daisies/Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Characters Ned; Cordelia, Willow, Xander, Oz, Buffy, Spike
Pairings: Gen. Side pairing include: Willow/Oz and Xander/Cordelia
Rating: PG
Wordcount: 2733
Spoilers: Set pre-pilot for Pushing Daisies and between seasons 3 and 4 for BtVS
Warnings: None.
Disclaimer: Pushing Daisies and BtVS belong to their respective creators
A/N: I wish this could have been much, much longer but RL kept getting in the way! Regardless, I really hope you enjoy it, wnnb_darklord !

Summary: Loner is a role Ned knows very well. Loner is a role he's comfortable with.




It takes Ned approximately six days, twelve hours, three minutes, and forty-seven seconds to realize that after graduation he doesn't want to go anywhere near Couer d'Couers ever again. So he rents a car, packs up his apartment, and takes himself and Digby all the way to Southern California, to a town called Sunnydale that he chooses solely because it has the lowest real estate rates in ten counties. He buys out the old soda shop with all his savings and, within weeks, is the owner of his very own pie shop.


He's not open twenty minutes before a girl bursts through the doors and trots up to the counter, holding out her resume like a gift. "I'm Cordelia Chase," she says brightly, flashing a smile. "And you are so pleased to meet me."


"Shouldn't it be the other way around?" Ned asks. She looks confused. "Shouldn't you be pleased to meet me?"


Her beaming smile returns. "No, you're the thankful one, you just don't know it yet. In two months I'm going to turn your pie place into the hottest joint in town."


"I haven't hired you yet," Ned points out, though at this point he doesn't really have any other choice. Everyone else that showed up could suspiciously only work nights. "And it's a shop. To be specific. Though it is a place, too…" Ned trails off. "I'm sorry, I don't know where I'm going with that."


"Rest assured; after my last boyfriend, I can speak babble better than anyone." She sits on the stool across from him, leaning over the counter and slightly too close to his personal bubble. "When do I start?" She doesn't wait before continuing, "Immediately? Perfect. I have to save up as much as I can before I move to LA in the fall." She jumps off the stool and joins him behind the counter, picking up an apron and tying it around her waist. "What was your name again?"


"Ned." There's an oddly blank sort of horror rising in him as he stares at the terrifying (though very pretty) girl. He suspects he's just gotten himself into something he doesn't even know the full extent of yet. "My name is Ned."



---



Cordelia tries to make changes to everything from the menu to her uniform, though she settles for wearing the green uniform dress a size too small. She delivers well enough on her promise – boys from all over town flock to the Pie Hole just for the glory of being served blueberry pie by a waitress who shows too much cleavage. She's constantly asking questions and sampling the pies before they go out, standing way too close to Ned and trying to get him to eat bites of pie.


"I don't understand why you don't eat them, they're delicious," she says insistently (everything Cordelia says is said insistently). She holds up a forkful. "Here, have some rhubarb. I cannot be the only one gaining five pounds from this job." Her eyes sweep him up and down as she tries to get the fork into his mouth. "And you could certainly use it."


She turns to Digby, who is watching them with traitorous interest. "Don't you agree, Digby?" she coos and Ned is just distracted enough by his annoyance at Digby's immediate tail-wag that Cordelia wins and the bite of rhubarb pie makes it into his mouth.


Ned spits it out immediately, getting a lingering taste of rot for his trouble. He bends to scoop up the moldy pieces before she sees, ignoring her raised eyebrow and muttering quickly, "I have a sugar imbalance that makes it impossible for me to eat pie; this job is both a gift and a curse, a constant temptation I can never partake of."


"Uh-huh." Cordelia stares at him critically. A group of kids enter the shop and wave at her. As she heads off to take their order, he hears her say, "What a weirdo."



---



Cordelia's has a lot of friends and they're always showing up to see her, teenagers crowding the counters and distracting her from her job. One boy particular (who she refers to solely as, "my two-year mistake") is almost always there, dark hair falling into his eyes and a forceful grin on his face every time Cordelia deigns to look at him.


The kid comes with his own entourage – the redhead who tips well, her small silent boyfriend, and the blond who always orders peach pie. Sometimes Ned will see the older British man from his apartment complex sitting with them; he assumes one of the kids is his.


Ned's watching Cordelia flirtatiously rebuke the boy for a minute or so before he realizes the redhead is watching him watch them. She smiles sheepishly when caught. "Sorry. The Xander-Cordelia Show is more amusing when filtered through the gaze of a confused stranger."


"Xander-Cordelia Show?" Ned echoes. He scrubs aimlessly at a spot on the counter.


"You know, where she pretends to be over him and he pretends to be over her but really they're just waiting for the other one to admit that they're not really over them."


Ned nods as though he has any idea what she's talking about. "So that's Xander then?"


"Oh! Yes. Sorry, with the not-introducing." She sticks out a hand. "Willow. Nice to meet you."


Ned looks at her hand for a moment before clasping it in a quick handshake. He'll never understand why public interaction needs to involve so much casual touching.


Willow looks to her boyfriend, nudging him. "Oz," he offers. Then he turns back to his pie. As though to fill his silence, Willow starts up again. "You're not from around here, huh?" He nods. "I never thought Sunnydale was a place people moved to by choice."


Ned opens his mouth to respond when Cordelia breezes over (it's a deceptively gentle word for what she does, breezes). "He's from, like, somewhere French. Do you want something?"


Xander has followed her over to this end of the counter. "Wow, Cordy being helpful. Is the world ending?" He pretends to think. "Actually, you're not really helpful then either."


She makes a face at him, just short of sticking out her tongue. "No pie for you," she decrees, flouncing off.


Xander almost smiles before turning to Ned. "So what brings you to our humble yet terrifying hometown?"


Ned raises his eyebrows doubtfully. Strange, maybe, but terrifying? "Low rent."


"It's that too," Xander agrees easily and, before Ned can correct what he said, Xander continues, "And so…pie. The pie-man. Pie is your thing. You feel very strongly about pie."


"Pie is…nice," Ned answers uncertainly. He feels like there's some joke he's missing.


"Chatty," Xander notes dryly. "You and Oz related?"


Ned and Oz share a look and shrug.


"Xander," Willow scolds affectionately. "Word vomit."


"Just curious." Xander holds up both hands like a surrender. "Curious about our new pal here who spend so much time with Cordelia."


"I'm not really a 'pal,'" Ned points out. "I'm her boss."


"Authority is sexy," Xander says, as if it's obvious.


Ned opens his mouth and then shuts it. "I have…cleaning. Or baking. Something else…to do elsewhere." He excuses himself to the quiet safety of the back room (hearing Willow faintly saying, "Aw, you scared him away!"). Too many teenagers. It's bad enough during the day; they're putting him on overload. He just wants to relax with Digby and not be interrogated or bothered or even spoken to, really. Loner is a role he knows very well. Loner is a role he's comfortable with.


After the shop closes, Ned is starting to clean up the endless mess left behind (crumbs and balled up napkins and did anyone teach these kids manners?) when the bell above the door dings. Without looking up, he calls out, "Closed!"


"Crap."


He does look up then. Standing in the doorway is a young blonde girl, hair in disarray, wearing very inappropriate pink pleather pants. "Did I miss them?" She blows her hair out of her eyes. "I ran here just to make sure I wouldn't! Ugh."


"Sorry?" Ned straightens. "Who are you talking about?"


She has the grace to look abashed. "I'm sorry. Redhead? Chatty guy? Not so chatty guy? We come in here a lot."


Ah. It's their blonde girl – Ned's only ever seen her from a distance, mostly from behind. "Yes. They just left though."


She nods, turning to go. "Thanks!"


"Uh, wait!" Ned doesn't know what possess him to speak. "Uh. Do you – do you want – Would you like – It's very – very dark out. Would you like a walk home?" Sunnydale may not terrify him, but the missing persons rate is very high there. He couldn't just let her wander out alone this late.


She smiles politely. What did Cordelia call her? Bunny? Buffy? "No, but thanks. I can take care of myself."


Ned drops his gaze, blushing. "Sorry. That was presumptuous."


She looks at him properly for the first time. "No, it was very nice." She tilts her head, smiling genuinely. "You need a chaperone home? You look a little twitchy."


Ned smiles too. He feels like he hasn't done that in ages. "No, thank you. I think I can make it."


Buffy nods and, with a little salute, exits the shop.


Ned finishes up quicker than he anticipated and he's eager to rush home to peace and quiet and Digby. Sunnydale is eerily deserted at night but by now he's used to it and his apartment isn't that far; he walks briskly, hunched into himself, and hopes it won't take very long.


Ned doesn't notice the – well, actually, he's not sure what to call them. Gang, possibly; their faces are all mutilated, gnarled brows and snarling mouths. He doesn't notice them until they're upon him, swooping out of the shadows. One of them lunges for him. Protectively, Ned throws up his arms. The man crashes into him, knocking them both to the ground, and Ned feels that sudden rush in his hands that only means one thing.


The man blinks down at him, startled, his face smooth and flush with color. "Dude, what?"


Freaked, Ned touches the man's face again and he explodes into a thick, heavy dust that coats Ned from head to toe. Ned groans, sitting up. The remainder of the gang is staring at him. He starts to stand and they panic, jettisoning back into the night.


"What are you?"


Ned has a minor heart attack for maybe the third time in so many minutes and he turns, standing unsteadily. Staring at him as perplexed and wary as the gang members are the kids from the Pie Hole.


Buffy's arms are crossed, a glint in her eyes. "How did you do that?"


Ned bites his lip, at a loss for words, and finally shrugs. "It's…It's something I can do. To – " Ned has never openly shared this with anyone. "To dead things. Not – not make them turn to dust, I've never done that, it's – I can make them alive again."


Her eyes widen comically and she trades a glance with a similarly shocked Willow.


"Wow," Xander says. "It's like we hit the slaying lottery."


Ned frowns. "Slaying?"



---



Ned does not like vampires. Ned wants nothing to do with vampires. Ned is wondering just how quickly he can get out of his lease.


Ned likes pies. He liked measuring ingredients and putting things together, turning a mess of powder and liquid into something else, something brilliant. It's an art, really, pie-making. He likes brown sugar, packed like wet sand, and vanilla and the zen of rolling dough. He likes not feeling guilty about his power for a change, watching rotten strawberries blossom back into rich red life and feeling accomplished. He's in complete control with pies. He's a pie-maker.


He is not – repeat, not – a vampire slayer. He has less than no intention of switching careers at this point.


"It's not a switch," Buffy stresses. "It's like…extra credit. Kind of sucky but ultimately rewarding extra credit."


"You're a one-touch dusting machine!" Xander exclaims. "You have a gift, my friend, and you should be using it for the powers of awesome good. Plus, it would really lighten the load for us."


"You don't have to help if you don't want to," Willow says, eyes earnestly large. "But we would really like you to. You'd be helping a lot of people."


"You didn't say anything to me?" Cordelia's incredulous. Ned would like to point out that they've only known each other for two months. "All this time I've been coming into work thinking my boss was just a totally salty but bizarrely skittish normal guy and you've been all magical and secretive."


"I think it's cool," Oz offers.


They're not even the worst of it. Apparently word of Ned's ability traveled way faster than he would have ever wanted it to and now vamps the world over are showing up in his shop demanding he make them human again. He would have assumed they liked their naughty evil shenanigans but now that they see a way out, they're turning up in droves. He refuses each and every one; he ends up dusting more of them than he'd like, out of pure necessity. They don't like it when he says no.


It's the opposite of pie-making. It's using his power for destruction instead of creation and that's the last thing he wants.



---



It's not unusual for Ned to return the back of the shop after a long shift and find a vamp waiting for him. It's irritating as all hell, but it's practically become routine. Usually they're waiting all growly and intimidating, baring their fangs as they make their demand. This vampire, however, is merely sitting there casually in his human face, scratching behind Digby's ears.


"Hello there," the vampire says, glancing up at Ned. "Nice dog."


"Digby, come here." Ned's voice goes up nervously. "Right now, please."


Digby only looks at him, tongue lolling out of his mouth.


"Aw, we're just having a nice time." He's British, the vamp, and wearing leather, his hair a hard platinum shell. "Ain't gonna hurt the little doggie."


"I'm not interested in vampire rehabilitation," Ned says, trying for forceful. "I won't dust you unless I have to, but I'd really rather you just left."


"Don't worry, mate." He stands, shorter than Ned expected. "I've not got much interest in rehabilitation myself. Keep hearing about you everywhere and I just wanted to see you for myself." He moves closer, peering up into Ned's face. Ned doesn't understand why no one in Sunnydale understands the personal bubble concept.


"D'you know they call you the Resurrector?" He raises a scarred eyebrow. "Bit of an exaggeration, eh?" He glances around the shop with a half-smirk. "Looks a little more sunshine and puppies to me. And you." His gaze returns to Ned but he doesn't continue the thought.


Just then Ned hears the ding of the shop door opening, followed quickly by Buffy's voice clamoring for peach pie, stat. The vampire starts at the sound of it. "The Slayer?"


Ned frowns. "You're familiar?"


The vampire does smile then. "Understatement." He begins to inch toward the back door. "Do me a favor? Keep this to yourself. What the Slayer doesn't know won't hurt her."


Which sounds like exactly why Ned should tell Buffy but before he can protest the other man is gone, as if he'd never been there.


In the front of the shop, teenagers have once again converged on Ned. They beam up at him from where they sit, poking four forks into one pie.


"We'll need a new Cordelia soon," Xander says. It's his pitch for the day. Willow is apparently working on a very long list of pros to convince him to join their team. "Though, could you try to be a little more unbearable and callous?" Xander considers that. "Yet with a mysterious underlying charm?"


Willow rolls her eyes at Ned with a smile. Buffy is barely listening, making yummy noises over the pie; even Oz looks like he's having an expression as he eats. Ned stands there watching them, thinking about how deeply he regrets coming to Sunnydale and cursing the fact that he might be getting oddly attached to these kids.

-END-

Prompt: Buffy/Pushing Daisies Scenario: In a temporary moment of insanity, Ned decides to go to California to open his pie shop and chooses Sunnydale because of its low real estate prices. Once there, he meets the Scoobies and finds out that being able to raise the dead helps when vampires try to eat him.

Comments

( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
perdiccas
Nov. 19th, 2010 12:51 pm (UTC)
I LOVE THIS SO MUCH, I CAN ONLY EXPRESS MY JOY THROUGH CAPSLOCK!!!!!

Okay, seriously this is so wonderful. I adore Ned's bewilderment at everything Scooby and his disgruntlement that no one in Sunnydale understands the concept of personal space. I love everything about Cordelia in this and Buffy was awesome--I love that she offered Ned an escort home and how disconcerted Ned was the high missing person's rate, because yeah, I can't imagine what Sunnydale must seem like to an outsider. I could read a thousand million more words of this 'verse given how thoroughly I enjoyed this. :D
margottenenbaum
Nov. 23rd, 2010 05:08 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! It's so awesome to hear that. I would love to write more in this 'verse - so many possibilities!
sentientcitizen
Nov. 19th, 2010 02:28 pm (UTC)
Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant!! *does a glee dance* This fic hits all my happy places - Ned and the scoobies and SPIKE and and and look, coherency is not my strong point, a'right?
margottenenbaum
Nov. 23rd, 2010 05:08 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! Making people incoherent is the best compliment ever. :P
wnnb_darklord
Nov. 19th, 2010 09:37 pm (UTC)
OH MY GOD, THIS IS LIKE THE BEST THING EVER! BETTER THAN PIE EVEN!!!!!
I could have only *dreamed* to get a fic as good as this when I got the idea for the prompt. And it's a billion times better than anything I've ever imagined! *squishes fic* Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Seriously, your Scooby and Ned voices are *amazing*! I could list all the moments I loved, but then I'd just have to quote the entire thing back at you! (Also, I seem to be overloading on exclamation points)
But one thing that thoroughly cracked me up: "The zen of rolling dough." And 'low rent'! And the idea that Oz and Ned are related! And word vomit! And...well, just everything!
*hugs fic some more!* :D :D :D
margottenenbaum
Nov. 23rd, 2010 05:11 pm (UTC)
Yay! I'm THRILLED that you like it! I really loved all your prompts and it was such fun to write this one.

Thank you for commenting!
liliaeth
Nov. 21st, 2010 01:58 am (UTC)
awww, poor vamps, they just want to be human again... But I guess Ned can't risk killing another person, just to do so.

Love the little scene with Spike too.
margottenenbaum
Nov. 23rd, 2010 05:11 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
(Deleted comment)
margottenenbaum
Nov. 23rd, 2010 05:12 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! I'm so, so glad you liked it! I would actually really love to write more in this 'verse. It all depends on when I have time, but I would love to write more. :)
daroos
Dec. 21st, 2010 04:01 am (UTC)
He would have assumed they liked their naughty evil shenanigans but now that they see a way out, they're turning up in droves.

FUCKING BRILLIANT!! This was amazing, from keeping in the tone of the show to the quick dialogue. Really lovely, great, and awesome. Also fun. You won me over with the above line, though. *swoon*
margottenenbaum
Dec. 22nd, 2010 08:36 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! I'm so glad you think I got the tone right, I was really hoping it would sound like the show. :)
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )

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