The Young and The Pantsless

The sound of steel wheels clanking against the rails was instantly recognizable but louder than she'd expected from what she'd seen on TV. Dawn looked around, wondering how she'd ended up on a subway car and trying to figure out when it was, as the ads they had plastered around looked like they were from sometime in the 70's; a lot of them were for things like liquor and cigarettes and the people in them were definitely dressed and had hair styles from decades past.

Dawn carefully got to her feet, the skin on her arms peeling off the hard plastic seat as if she had been sitting there for hours. She had to grab one of the standing poles to keep from falling back into her seat as her legs felt like they were half asleep.

"You're new," a female voice said from behind her.

Dawn spun around bringing her fists up and found herself facing a young black woman wearing a familiar leather coat, though she wasn't sure when Spike had gotten it, so it probably wasn't helpful in figuring out the date a small part of her mind noted.

"Easy there, I'm here to talk, not fight," the young woman said, leaning against a pole and swaying gently with the movement of the subway car, completely at ease.

"Who are you and where am I?" Dawn asked, stepping back just in case.

"Nikki Woods, former slayer," she replied, "and I'm here to ask you a question."

"And that is?" Dawn asked cautiously.

Nikki leaned forward and stared directly into her eyes. "Are you ready to be strong?"

0o0o0o0o0o0

Xander opened his eyes and found a pair of blue green eyes staring into his own from about an inch away. "Good Morning Tara," he said softly, not wanting to wake Willow or Dawn.

"Morning," she replied, laying on his chest, her nose almost touching his own.

"Feel better?" he asked.

"Less clouds," she said and leaned her forehead against his.

"Glad to hear it," he said, unsure what he should do.

"Kiss, kiss, kiss," Willow chanted with a grin.

"You are a horrible-" Xander began, surprised she was awake only to get interrupted by Tara's lips.

Tara pulled back and laid her head on his chest and began humming while Xander just stared at the ceiling having lost track of what he'd been thinking.

"Am I still horrible?" Willow teased.

Xander maturely stuck his tongue out at her, making her giggle. "I'm going to need to be unchained," he said with a sigh.

"For safety's sake you are supposed to be chained up until tomorrow morning," she told him.

"Yes, but for sanitary reasons I need at least an hour in between," Xander told her.

"Bathroom?" she guessed.

"Bathroom," he agreed. "My bladder is entering the danger zone and I need a shower."

"I don't know… you could be trying to escape," Willow teased him. "I'll have to station a guard in the shower with you, just to be sure."

"I don't think we'll all fit in there at once."

"Won't know until we try," she joked.

Dawn muttered something in her sleep and nuzzled his side.

0o0o0o0o0o0

"What kind of bullshit is this?!" Dawn demanded. "Am I prepared to be strong? Lady, I fight vampires, demons, and gods… Well, just the one. Okay, me and my friends do all that, and they really try to keep me out of it. Anyway, I fight monsters and when I can't help, I help the people who do, I am already strong."

Nikki laughed. "I know, trust me I know. I've seen it, but I still have to ask. Can't very well make you a slayer without your permission after all."

Dawn froze for a second. "I thought becoming a slayer was just something that happened. Did Faith die?"

"She's fine," Nikki assured her. "Well, as fine as she can be in prison of course."

"Oh, then how am I supposed to become a slayer? One falls, another rises." Dawn waved a hand.

"Your boy is radiating enough divine energy to activate you," Nikki told her.

"I'm a potential?" she asked in surprise.

"It's a bloodline thing and you are your mother's daughter," Nikki said with a shrug.

"Oh, yeah that makes sense," Dawn agreed, slowly nodding.

"So, are you ready to be strong?"

"Yes, yes I am," Dawn agreed and awoke with a start, feeling like she'd just drank all the coffee. "Morning," she said, blinking sleep from her eyes and giving Xander a squeeze.

"Morning," Xander and Willow replied.

"Okay, since she's awake we can unchain you and take you to the bathroom," Willow said.

"You kinda look like Dracula," Dawn said absently.

Xander turned his head and looked at her. "What?"

"Yeah, he kinda does," Willow agreed. "I hadn't noticed that before."

"Pretty," Tara added, not moving from his chest where she was listening to his heartbeat.

"Yeah, that about sums it up," Willow agreed. "You look like you could be Dracula's… cousin and he was a very pretty man- vamp."

"Huh," Xander said. "I wonder if we're related somehow or it's a side effect of the whole being a Renfield and then being turned but not."

"No, you still look like you," Willow assured him, "just airbrushed like a Playgirl model."

Dawn slipped out of the covers, got up, and stretched. "Someone is in a good mood," she noted with a grin.

"Morning wood just means I have to pee," Xander quickly argued, a little embarrassed.

"You are surrounded by half-naked beautiful women," Dawn said, poking him, "it better mean more than just that."

Xander rolled his eyes. "Yes, but it's hard to enjoy that when you have to pee." He gestured towards his groin with his chin. "That's just part of the Boner Wave."

"Boner Wave?" the two chorused as Tara lifted her head to give him a curious look.

"Men wake as the Sun rises with a boner," he explained, "so there is a continual wave of boners circling the Earth following the Sun since the beginning of time."

Tara giggled as Dawn burst out laughing.

Willow groaned. "I did not need that image in my head."

"Shower," Tara said as she slowly got up, dragging the blanket with her.

"Okay, let's undo the chains, I really have to pee now!" He shivered slightly in the chill air of the basement.

"Could use a bottle," Dawn pointed out. "I could aim it for you," she teased, blushing despite her attempts to push it down.

"I'd never be able to pee with one of you holding it," he said bluntly and rattled his chains. "Let's hurry this along please."

"Let me get the keys before we have to grab a mop," Willow said, getting up.

0o0o0o0o0o0

Xander checked on Anise and saw she was still unconscious but seemed fine otherwise. He wished he could read the displays on the medical bed she was resting on, but it was in another language, something unlike anything he'd run across before and he didn't have Giles to translate it for him. Of course he also wasn't sure Giles could have translated what was no doubt an alien language, but the watcher could surprise you at times. Xander could tell he wasn't on Earth, the two moons were a dead giveaway. Plus, gravity felt a little light to him though the air seemed fine and the jungle looked pretty normal. All in all this had been a very strange trip so far.

He hadn't had much luck poking around things the day before, everything he'd examined was either simple and easy to understand or looked extremely dangerous and he wasn't about to risk setting off some alien bomb and watching it count down while thinking it was simply listing different functions. Admittedly a coffee maker would probably look dangerous to someone from the middle ages which was roughly where he was tech wise in comparison, but as he was pretty sure they'd completely cleaned out an alien armory so it was best not to take any chances.

Anise's little hideout seemed to be a strange combination of ancient and sci-fi, much like he'd expect a hidden observation post out of Star Trek would look like if they'd installed it in an ancient temple set deep in the Amazon. Thankfully her little hideout wasn't so little or he'd have gotten cabin fever. He spent his time walking around the long halls of the massive steppes pyramid and looking out over different parts of the jungle. He'd have ventured out to get a closer look, but there weren't any clothes that fit him here and he didn't want to risk getting bit by some alien mosquitoes and catching some weird alien disease.

"I bet my other self is going about life without realizing how wonderful pants are, the lucky bastard."

0oo0o0o0o0

"Why are you standing in the hall pouting?" Buffy asked.

"Tara actually pushed me out of the bathroom so Xander could shower in peace," the red head admitted.

"She pushed you?" Buffy asked doubtfully.

"Well… she wagged her finger and gently guided me, but it amounts to the same thing," Willow said with a grin.

"How is Tara doing?"

"She's seems mostly back to normal," Willow said with a bright smile. "She actually understands what's going on now, though she isn't real talkative yet," Willow explained. "It's kinda like she's really, really drunk, but with less giggling."

"That's good to hear," Buffy said. "Where is she?"

"In the shower with Xander," Willow replied.

"She's showering with Xander," Buffy said with a nod. "Not as surprised as I should be, considering the last day or so. How is Xander doing? Is he him, like more him than not I mean?"

"You should use that question when Giles is around," Willow said mischievously, "but yeah, Xander is still very much Xandery. Once he got used to us being close to him without clothes I mean. Nervous Xander is watered down Xander."

Buffy nodded, relieved Xander was still himself, regardless of visible changes. "Think we still have to chain him up?"

"No, but we're going to anyway," she replied cheerfully. "Just to be safe of course," she said, trying to sound serious and failing as she giggled.

"Of course," Buffy replied. "So…"

"So?" Willow asked curiously.

"Would I be nosy to ask what's going on with you guys and Xander?" Buffy asked. "I mean, I know it's been a strange week and we're all glad he's back and such, but… ya' know?"

Willow nodded. "Dawn's been pretty open about what she wants, so no real surprises there."

"Yeah, she's not exactly subtle," Buffy agreed. "I'd tell her to wait until she's in college, but I'm not that big a hypocrite."

"Tara is still recovering and I'm not sure how she's going to react," Willow said thoughtfully. "I don't think her clinging to him is just because she is nibbling on his soul. I know I'm not. Not that I'm nibbling on his soul or anything, at least I don't think I am. Do you think I'm nibbling on his soul?"

Buffy grinned. "If you are, I don't think he minds. So you like nibbling on more than Tara now?"

"Yeah, well… its complicated. We almost lost him… No, we did lose him," she said solemnly, "and now we've got a second chance, so I am going to do whatever it takes to make sure we never lose him again."

Buffy frowned and chewed on her bottom lip for a second. "So… you are doing this because you love him but not love-love him?"

Willow sighed. "I still find him every bit as yummy as I did growing up, I just didn't want to come off as indecisive when I decided to date Tara."

"Oh," Buffy said, the confusion in her eyes clearing. "Okay, that makes so much more sense."

"Makes so much more sense?" Willow repeated. "What was confusing about it?"

"Well, since we started college you were all 'gay now' and 'boys are icky' which would have meant you weren't all that into guys in the first place, which would mean the entire thing with Xander, Cordelia, and Oz in high school was something you did on purpose and not just because of hormones, but I know you're not that big a bitch, so that always confused me a little," Buffy explained.

Willow winced. "Okay, I can see how that would look. I probably should have been a bit more honest and less defensive."

"That probably describes all of us at one time or another," Buffy assured her.

"Thanks," Willow said and the pair fell silent, waiting for the two in the bathroom to be done.

"I wonder how Xander is doing," Buffy said thoughtfully.

"You could probably peek in and see," Willow told her, "I doubt they'd mind."

"No, other Xander," Buffy said.

0o0o0o0o0

Jacob was sent rolling backwards as his personal shield flared from the blow of the massive hammer wielded by the blond giant.

"Oh, you've got one of those magic hamster balls as well," Xander noted as he continued to advance on the downed intruder, ready to take him out.

"Magic hamster ball?" Jacob asked as he struggled to push past his dizziness and climb back to his feet. "How do you know about hamster balls?"

"Why wouldn't I?" Xander asked, hammer ready as he waited to see what the older man would do next.

"Because most people in the greater galaxy don't know about hamster balls… or speak English," Jacob said with a frown, pointing his zat at the ground.

"I'm from Earth," Xander said. "Who are you and why did you attack me?"

"I am Selmac of the Tok'ra," his symbiote spoke up, eyes glowing gold.

"And I'm Jacob," his host replied. "I shot at you because I expected to see Anise, not a giant naked man wielding an anvil on a stick."

Xander considered that and nodded, setting his hammer on his shoulder and relaxing. "Alright, that's fair."

"Can I see Anise?" Jacob asked.

"She's resting," Xander replied.

"She sent me a message explaining all that," the man said, "though she didn't mention you. I want to check on her and make sure she's recovering properly."

"Sure, it'll be nice to have someone around who can explain what all those symbols mean." He waved for the man to walk with him.

"Can I ask why you aren't wearing any clothes?"

Xander sighed. "It's not my fault there isn't anything here that fits me."

Beta by: Abyssal Angel and Mist of Shadows

AN: Happy Thanksgiving everyone!