"Are you sure you don't want any?" Fred asked.
"They're all yours," Xander assured her. "I ate my fill yesterday before I came through the portal. Finish them off and then we'll find the resistance you talked about and see if they know where my friends are."
"Thank you!" she said excitedly before tearing into the remaining tacos.
Xander grinned and examined the walls of the cave again. The writing on the walls was a combination of chalk and clay based paint, paint where she was certain and chalk where she was still working something out. He was fairly sure the person who'd tricked her into opening the portal that sent her here would have cut off his left testicle for just five minutes in the cave reading the work she'd done.
"Why did you bring a tool belt?" Fred asked curiously. "I'd think people jumping into a hostile dimension would bring weapons."
"I can make weapons if I have the right tools," Xander pointed out. "But I can't make tools with weapons nearly as easily or as well. Best just to bring tools and some of them are decent weapons all on their own." He hefted the short handled sledgehammer that hung from the left side of his belt near his hip. "Sammy is no Mjolnir, but then only one hammer is."
"Mjolnir?" she asked curiously.
"The hammer wielded by the Norse god of thunder, Thor," he explained. "Plus my tool belt is the source of my power!" He posed with his hands on his hips making her giggle. "Ready to go?" he asked once she'd recovered.
"Let me get my things," she said retrieving what little she'd saved, her driver's license, library card, and her burlap pillow case/spare dress. "R-ready," she said nervously.
"It'll be okay," he promised her as he led her out of the cave.
Naturally as soon as they stepped out of the cave Pylea tried to prove him wrong by sending a trio of the local equivalent of bears at them, massive red furred creatures with more than a touch of crocodile in their ancestry. The trio roared as the largest one rose up and charged forward, jaws open wide to take a chunk out of Xander.
Xander blessed his sledgehammer as the solid chunk of modern metallurgy slammed into the bear's side, breaking several ribs with a wet cracking noise. The bear let off a faltering roar as it fell, barely missing Xander with its claws as he leapt back and brought the hammer down, caving in its skull. The two other smaller bears fled into the woods.
"B-bear skin!" Fred said in wonder, her fear already forgotten.
Xander put away his hammer and took a deep breath, amazed that it had ended so quickly and that the red furred beast had been so slow. After a moment's consideration he thought about how reptiles were slower during the morning hours and how it was still a little chilly out.
"C-can I have it?" Fred asked hopefully turning puppy dog eyes on Xander.
Angel watched in surprise as Xander walked into camp, dragging a sledge made out of a couple of felled saplings and tied together with vines. On the sledge was an enormous red furred corpse with a thin young woman riding it.
"Does anyone know how to skin a bear?" Xander asked.
The leader of the free humans looked at the bear Mad-Numbers-Girl was sitting on. "I see no wounds."
"I didn't have a sword on me so I just hit it a couple of times," Xander explained.
"And you only want the skin?" the leader, Malix asked, after he'd introduced himself.
"I promised Fred she could have it," Xander agreed. "A couple of teeth would be nice, but the rest is for whoever makes it into a rug for Fred, because I know nothing about skinning animals."
"Falinea, Sofina," Malix called out causing an older couple to turn up. "Skin and cook it. Give the skin to Mad Numbers – Fred here. Put Taylor on it and make sure he does a good job."
"Let me guess," Angel said. "She's who we came to rescue?"
"Winifred Burkel," Xander agreed. "Apparently she really wanted a bearskin rug, she used puppy dog eyes on me."
"And you caved," Angel said amused. "Was it hard to find the bear?"
Xander snorted. "How easy is it for me to find anything with sharp teeth and claws?"
"All we need to do is find Lorne, Cordelia, and the book and we'll be set," Gunn said.
"Fred said she came through and the book stayed behind," Xander pointed out. "Fortunately she knows how to get us back now that she knows about the time differential."
"Really?" Wesley said doubtfully.
"Willow smart?" Angel asked, knowing how Xander thought.
"Beyond Willow smart," Xander said. "As much as I love Willow, Winifred makes her look like a slacker."
"That's actually a little frightening," Angel said.
"On the plus side, it takes a couple of weeks here to equal a single day at home, so we aren't in a rush," Xander offered.
"That's a relief," Gunn said with a heavy sigh. As everyone stared at him he said, "What? This trip was last minute and I got a couple of new releases from the video store on my coffee table."
"And what's got you down?" Jamie asked Buffy.
Buffy winced as everyone turned to look at her. "Wrong? Why should anything be wrong?"
Jamie tilted her head as she gave Buffy an obvious once-over. "The way you hold yourself, the tension in your neck causing the tendons to stand out, the stress in your voice-" she listed off.
"OK, OK," Buffy interrupted her. "Jeez, you're worse than Xander."
"I'm filling in for him," Jamie reminded her with a grin. "What's got you down?"
The Slayer growled. "I kinda put Warren in a coma yesterday."
"Warren, who is responsible for several deaths, and wrote about how he was going to rape you and keep you for a pet, as well as every girl here?" Jamie asked.
"What?" Buffy asked, her expression shifting from depressed to dangerous in a heartbeat.
"Katrina and the security guard at the museum both died because of him," Jamie reminded her. "He showed no remorse whatsoever at their deaths."
"And the raping and the pet?" Buffy snarled.
"He has a blog," Jamie explained. "Check out Warren Is Your New God dot com. He has weapon designs he's offering for sale and pages upon pages of notes about showing you and everyone else here 'their place', renaming Dawn, Kleenex, and showing Willow and Tara what a 'real man' is like."
Willow had already opened up a browser on her laptop and was searching the site.
"Kleenex?" Dawn asked looking green.
"Try not to think about it," Buffy told her.
"This is horrible," Willow said looking sick. "He's deranged."
"Does… does Xander know about this?" Dawn asked nervously, worried about what he would think of her.
"No and I ask that none of you tell him," Jamie said. "I'm pretty sure if Xander found out, we'd be attending his trial for murder the next day. I was planning on getting your advice on what to do without him finding out."
"There-there's pictures and video of us," Willow said in horror.
"How many people have seen this?" Buffy demanded as she looked over Willow's shoulder and saw video titles like Kleenex Shower Three Fingers and Red Slut's Fish Diet.
"I disabled the password protection for this IP," Jamie explained. "I was going to ask Willow's help in destroying his hard drive remotely."
"It's all private files only he could access," Willow said, making notes of where all the cameras were so she could remove them.
"So only he saw them?" Buffy asked hopefully.
"I can't delete them from here," Willow complained. "He's running it from his home server. I can crash it so no one else can access it until it's reset, but we'll have to go to his house and delete them ourselves."
"I have his home address," Jamie offered.
Warren's basement AKA the Triad's Headquarters
"I-I can't believe that she did that to him," Andrew said eyes red. "He just…"
"You can't say he didn't deserve it," Jonathan told him. "He completely lost it after what happened to Katrina and he just kept getting worse and worse. If Buffy hadn't stopped him who knows what he would have done to us?"
"He'd never hurt me!" Andrew squealed.
"He was singing a different tune while he had the orbs," Jonathan reminded him. "It doesn't matter anyways, I'm out."
"I never signed on to hurt and kill people and that's just what's been happening under Warren's leadership."
"B-but we have to make her pay!" Andrew argued.
"For what?" Jonathan asked. "Defending herself against a dangerous psycho? I quit!"
"Yeah?! Well I don't need your help anyway!" Andrew yelled, as Jonathan packed up all his stuff.
"No one's going anywhere," Buffy said as she and the rest of the girls appeared when Willow dropped the notice-me-not spell that she'd wrapped them in. "We're going to have a little discussion about cameras being placed in showers."
"What?" Jonathan asked confused while Andrew reddened. "You put cameras in Buffy's shower?" he asked in shock.
Willow strode over to his computer and started typing; quickly finding the cameras he'd hidden from Jonathan. "Shower cam and…" her voice trailed off and Dawn's eyes got wide as she stared at the screen.
"What?" Buffy demanded when she saw their reaction.
"Andrew didn't plant cameras in our bathroom, he only put them in Xander's," Willow explained.
Taking in Dawn's unblinking stare, Buffy quickly hurried over and ripped the monitor off the desk, tossing it to the side where it shattered with a crash. "If you watch Xander like that, you're no better than whoever put the cameras in our bathroom," Buffy told Dawn.
Dawn blinked and recovered. "No, because I didn't place the cameras, make the recording or even hit play. The most you can say is I'm weak vs a naked soapy Xander. "
"It's still not something you should do to a friend," Buffy said firmly.
"You're right," Dawn admitted. Turning to Willow she said, "Email Xander a recording of one of my showers so we're even."
"Don't!" Buffy ordered Willow who got up to use Warren's computer.
"I'm not," Willow promised as she switched to Warren's computer and accessed the house's network. "I'm just deleting the recordings."
"Then why did you bring up email?" Jonathan asked.
"Because I want to see what footage of me he has. I'm only saving mine, well and some of Tara's because most of the footage is of both of us."
"Save all of mine too," Tara said. "I'm also curious, just make sure nothing is left on his system."
"And mine," Buffy added. "All this is making me feel a lot less guilty for putting him in a coma."
"Save them all, so we can check them later," Dawn suggested.
"I'll just yank his hard drive," Willow said waving her hand and causing his system to start taking itself apart.
Dawn picked up a screwdriver and started cleaning under her nails while Willow moved to Jonathan's. "Two hidden cams," Willow muttered bringing them up. "One is… the puppy pit at the pet shop."
"They're adorable," Jonathan defended himself.
"And camera two is… a comic shop," Willow said.
"I tapped into the shop's security camera," he admitted. "I like to know when the new issues hit the shelves."
No one had a comment for that.
"Warren was a murderer and a nut, plain and simple," Buffy said. "But I guess neither of you are. Want my advice? Get out of town. Go to college far away from the Hellmouth before it kills you."
The girls left and Jonathan continued packing up his stuff.
"Damnit!" Andrew complained.
"They took my hard drive too!"
"I raided Warren's and removed all of his equipment and a partially completed android," Jamie sent to her fellow androids. "I believe Warren was making a duplicate of himself."
"I suggest we make it a duplicate of Xander," Ted offered. "Having a stand-in will really help his productivity."
"And we can use him to practice working with the alloys and augments you received from Iron Man," April pointed out.
"Cousin Xander should be pleased," Ted decided. "We can test it against the vampires, he hates so much, to smooth out all the bugs before he returns."
"Lorne was beheaded this morning," Angel reported after he'd met up with Malix and learned what their spies had discovered.
"Damn," Gunn said, as he stared in the campfire and wished they'd been quicker to locate their green skinned friend.
"That means we have to make our move in the next two days if we want to save him," Wesley said. As everyone turned to stare at him, he explained, "Anagogic demons can survive up to five days with their heads removed. Lorne is no health nut, so I'm estimating 72 hours as his limit."
"And Cordelia?" Xander asked.
"They've elected her queen," Angel said.
The only sound was the wood in the campfire crackling for a little while as everyone wrapped their heads around that fact.
Fred spoke up from her customary spot in Xander's lap, "Your friend, who is a cow, has been elected queen?"
"One of the natives caught her having a vision and somehow that translated into, elect her as queen," Angel explained.
"Am I dreaming?" Fred asked Xander.
"Are you seriously doubting reality or just fishing for a kiss?" Xander asked.
"I'm sixty percent certain this is reality and about forty percent doubtful," Fred said thoughtfully. "So this would be fishing."
Xander kissed her and afterwards she sighed happily and snuggled into his chest.
"Why bother asking since you kiss her regardless?" Gunn asked.
"Positive reinforcement," Xander replied. "For being honest and accepting reality, regardless of how strange it is."
"I think it only counts if you limit the kisses to positive answers," Wesley volunteered.
"I think the tensile strength of the human skull goes down drastically when you have a sharpened object of sufficient strength. See, it reduces the amount of sheer strength needed, as the PSI goes up, allowing even someone of with my own strength to remove a brain from its casing," Fred explained.
"But then I'm not a trained psychologist and really it seems to do wonders for her emotional well being," Wesley quickly said.
"Did she just threaten him if he got in the way of her getting a little sugar?" Gunn asked, amused.
"Yes, and he just backed down," Angel replied.
"Well it seems like taking advantage of her," Wesley said, "but if she knows her own mind well enough to make threats, I would have to say she is well enough to decide whom to kiss."
"See?" Fred asked. "You should take advantage of me."
"Only once we get back to Earth and you have accepted it as real," Xander said. "Until then all you get is hugs and kisses."
"OK, but you have to buy me a hedge trimmer," Fred said.
"Agreed," Xander replied giving her a squeeze.
"So, I was thinking I should sneak in to see Cordelia and find out what is going on," Angel said, trying to get everything back on track and trying not to wonder about why she needed gardening tools.
"Could Cordelia order the Priesthood to release the explosive collars the slaves wear?" Gunn asked.
"That's one of the things I plan on finding out," Angel replied. "Sneak in, find out if Cordelia needs to be rescued, get additional information for the rebellion, sneak out with Lorne and Cordelia if necessary."
"You'll need a distraction," Malix said, approaching the group. "And they'll send their champion out to deal with it. The Groosalugg is a fierce warrior. It's a fool's mission."
"I've got it," Xander said. "I'll face the Grue while you get to Cordelia."
"Xander…" Angel trailed off trying to figure out how to phrase his question on whether Xander was suicidal or not.
"Toss me that rock," Xander told Gunn.
Gunn picked up a baseball sized rock and tossed it to Xander, who squeezed his hand, reducing it to gravel, much to everyone's surprise.
"When you said your tool belt was the source of your power, you weren't joking," Fred said in wonder.
Xander patted his tool belt. "I told you, I've got it."
Typing by: Last Primarch!