Saving the Fantasies.
Xander looked through the box of books that had been put on the big meeting table in the library, sorting through the stacks for something interesting. "New books," he called as the doors opened.
"Yes, I know," Giles said, making Xander jump, he hadn't expected Giles to be the one coming in. "Are you going to sort them for me?"
"Yup, I'm bored and looking for something to do. And who knows, maybe I'll find something I'd actually like to read in here." He picked up a book, grimacing at the title. "Slime and its uses? Giles, isn't that ewwish?"
"Very," the older man said with a smile, "but it is most useful on occasion." He took the book, putting it down. "Just pile them up for me, there's a good boy, Xander," he said as he headed for his office. "Thank you."
"Sure," Xander said, pulling out the rest of the books to sort them into categories. "Of course I can do this, it's not that hard." He stopped when he saw one that had a stylized amulet on the front. "What's this one?" he called loudly.
Giles walked out, frowning. "I'm not sure. Someone sent that to me to keep safe." He took the book to look through it. "It looks like a story, possibly a family heirloom of some sort."
"Can I read it? I mean, it's got to be more interesting than demon anatomy."
"If you're careful with it," Giles said, frowning at him. "I know how you disrespect your textbooks, I won't have you doing that with this one."
"Nope, this one will be safe with me." Xander slid it into his backpack. "I can even tell you what it's about," he offered, slinging the heavy bag over his shoulder.
Giles shook his head. "No thank you. Just a brief description for the records." He smiled at his student. "Be safe tonight, but have fun. I know you've been looking forward to this night off for a while now."
"Yeah, it's been really active and I could use a good, anti-slimy fun time." Xander waved as he jogged out the door. "Later."
"Yes, I'll see you tomorrow," Giles called after him. "Just be safe, Xander," he said softly. "That book is probably priceless." He turned back to the box, pulling out a pair of books that were identical to the one Xander had walked out with. "Oh, a series," he said happily, sitting down to flip through one.
When Oz walked in, he sat down and picked up the book to look through too. "Huh. Stories?"
"Yes, I was asked to watch over them." Giles patted his arm. "Where are the girls?"
"Bathroom, primping." Oz leaned back to start reading, then closed the book and stood up. "Got to go, tell her I'm at home." He walked out of the room, looking like he was hurrying for a change.
"I'm sure she'll find you," Giles said with a smile. He went back to his reading, enjoying the story so much he was still smiling when the girls walked in.
Xander slumped down on his bed, pulling a pillow over his head. "Why do I have to go through this every day," he muttered, relaxing now that he was in the safety of his personal space. He waited until he heard the front door close, grimacing at the honk. "You'd think the neighbors didn't realize you don't remember me by the way you act. It's not like they don't know that you forget who I am and that I'm actually still here on a regular basis," he told himself, sitting up. He pulled over his backpack, pulling out the book. "Maybe this will be okay and I'll have a fun night of non-rejection." He fluffed his pillows out, leaning back to get comfortable as he started the story.
//In Fantasia, where the land is split...// Xander read. "Whoa." He sat up, looking at the front of the book. "You don't look like the book from the movie." He looked over at his shelf of movies, then back at the book. "Maybe I should watch the movie first, just to make sure." He hopped up, pulling out his copied version of The NeverEnding Story out to pop into his TV/VCR combo, going back to his bed to play the movie. By the end of the movie, he was staring suspiciously at the book. "You don't look like that book," he told it, picking it back up to restart it.
//In Fantasia, where the land is split, the side that dealt with the fantasies of adults was being torn apart by the violence of people's dreams.// "Huh, at least that makes sense." He closed the book, holding his place with his thumb. "Okay, if you're Orin, or at least a nice cousin, just don't make me do the flying thing on the dog-looking creature, okay?" The book didn't answer him so he went back to his reading. //It would take a special person to mend the fabric of Fantasia, someone who knew violence well enough to stop it from ripping through the adults' fantasies, but who could also still dream. That in itself would take a very special person, a very flexible person.//
"Yeah, I guess," Xander said, yawning. "Wait until I tell Giles about you." He rolled onto his side, continuing to read. //The adult side of Fantasia called out to him, bringing him in an unusual move, making sure of his needs so he could fix the rip.// "No," he complained as he fell asleep, the book dropping from his hands.
Xander found himself in a sculpted clearing, sitting on the grass with a basket of lunch in front of him. "Okay, if I'm here, then where's the Childlike Empress?"
"She won't be coming to this side of Fantasia," a voice giggled from the trees behind him. "She wouldn't be very Childlike if she came to the adult side now would she?" A lithe young woman walked out to sit beside him, looking him over. "Good, the book found you. Did you read it yet?"
"Just the first page. Violence ripping the fabric of the dreams." She nodded, looking down at her hands. "How do I help? Just make wishes and dream pleasant dreams?"
She giggled. "No, silly, you have to make them come true." She waved a hand around as she disappeared. "Here."
He lay back on the blanket, looking up at the clouds. "Okay, if I have to." He shrugged, blinking, then found himself back in his room. "Um, that was fast." He looked at his clock and winced, jumping up to head for school. "Giles is going to kill me, I'm an hour late," he told himself as he grabbed some clothes.
Giles grabbed Xander as he walked past, stopping him from leaving the library. "Why were you late?"
"Because I was dreaming really hard?" he suggested. Giles frowned at him for it. "I'm sorry, but I couldn't help it. I wasn't really in any position to get up."
Giles sighed, letting him go. "I had hoped that your hormones wouldn't manage your life like it does some people's."
"Nope, not hormones, just dreams." He shrugged and jogged out the door, going to enjoy the rest of his lunch period.
Willow caught him in front of his locker. "Where were you? Not showing up last night or this morning?" She looked him over. "You don't look like the anti-Xander, but my Xander's been begging for a night off for months now."
Xander shut his locker, leaning against it. "I took the time to relax and read, and watch a movie. I'm sorry I didn't call first, it just kind of caught me up."
She nodded. "I remember doing that a few times." She punched his arm lightly. "Come on, we need to go eat."
"Yeah, I do," he said, walking beside her down the hall. "So, how was the band?"
"Good as always, Oz is still my personal God." She grinned at him. "He's very good."
"I'm sure he was," he told her, opening the cafeteria door so she could walk in first. "Gee, no people?"
"Except ours," she said, hurrying over to get a hug from her boyfriend. "Hi."
"Hey." Oz nodded at Xander. "You were missing."
"I was vegging," he corrected. "Put on a tape then laid down to read and nap."
"Ah." Oz nodded. "Reasonable." He pushed his tray toward his girlfriend. "Eat?"
"Yeah, I'd like to share your lunch." She picked up his fork to eat the vegetables from his plate. "You always pick the best stuff up there."
Buffy stared at Xander. "Reading? You?"
"Yes, me. I can do that you know." He looked at the tray Willow was devouring. "Anything edible and identifiable?"
"Ravioli," Oz told him.
"Good." Xander got up, getting himself some lunch, and came back to find it was just him and Oz. "Did Willow eat Buffy too?"
Oz grunted. "Girl talk." He leaned back, considering him. "Truth?"
"I was reading." Xander took a bite and grabbed the salt shaker, pouring it on. "Gross." He took another bite and nodded. "I borrowed one of Giles' *normal* books." Oz nodded. "Wasn't that bad, really. Kinda funny in a strange way."
"Strange?" Oz asked.
"Yup, strange. Not 'work' strange, but still odd." Xander took another bite and dropped his fork. "I'm going to go wander, have fun with Willow." He got up, heading to toss out his tray, frowning at the lunch lady. "How do you manage to screw up ravioli from a can?" he asked, then walked out. He headed out for the trees at the edge of school grounds, thinking. //Okay, so apparently I have a 'great destiny' now. Now what?// He waited until he was alone to lean against a tree, forehead against the warm bark. //What am I going to do about this? I can't save a land all by myself.// He jumped as he heard someone walking up behind him, turning to frown at the principal. "Can't a guy have food poisoning in peace?"
"Not when he's skipping class," Snyder growled. "Detention, Harris, if you don't go in now."
Xander did something he hadn't done since sixth grade. He mentally forced himself to throw up on cue, on the Principal's shoes. "Sorry," he said, and shrugged, heading for the school. "I'm going to the nurse. If that's okay with you," he added, mentally laughing. //Got to thank Wills for that trick, again,// he told himself. He walked into the nurse's office, rubbing his stomach. "Can I go home? I just luged on Snyder's shoes."
She stared at him and waved. "Go home. Come back tomorrow. Don't do it again, Harris."
He nodded, heading for his locker to grab his jacket and head home.
Xander lay on his bed that night, staring up at his ceiling. "Okay, I need to go there and I can't sleep. How perfect is that?" He sighed and rolled onto his side, closing his eyes, trying to fall asleep again, but nothing would work, he couldn't relax. "This is going to be bad," he told the shadows. "Not only do I have a test, I have a duty, and a job." He flopped over onto his back, squeezing his eyes shut. "Why can't I sleep?"
"GO TO FUCKING SLEEP!" was yelled from the other bedroom.
"Not my fault," he muttered. He turned on his bedside light, picking up a textbook. "This puts me out all the time." He flinched as he heard his doorknob rattle. "I'm trying," he called. "Go back to bed." The rattling stopped and he opened to the place where he was supposed to have studied with Buffy that afternoon, reading about the French and Indian war.
Xander yawned, rubbing his eyes. "Why now?" he asked himself. "They actually need me again and I'm on the tail end of three days of insomnia." He checked to make sure he was still alone, he had gotten there before everyone else so he was waiting patiently with his book. He yawned again, sliding the book back so he could lay his head down on his arms. "I'll just nap until they get here," he murmured.
No one was around to see the pale-blue light that engulfed him for a few seconds, the one that took his mind to a different place. By the time Willow, Buffy, and Giles made it to the library, Xander was long gone, called away again by the book.
Buffy snorted as she walked in. "Gee, he's working hard I see," she commented as she looked around for Xander. "Where is he?"
"He'll be here soon," Willow said, heading for the table to drop her backpack. "Let's do this."
Buffy nodded, following her. Giles stopped when he saw the book, tapping the top of it. He put it in with his stack of books, sitting down in front of them, opening his first source to give the girls the information they needed.
Xander woke up in the clearing again, looking around in confusion. "Hello?" he called.
The lithe, nymph-looking woman walked out of the trees again. "Oh, good, you did fall asleep again."
"Sorry, I have these bouts of lack of sleep." He pushed himself until he was sitting up, looking her over. "Is everything still going okay?"
"It's deteriorating but not that fast. You still have a few days." She sat beside him. "What do you want? We need to start building the fantasies up from you." She touched the middle of his forehead and smiled. "All those are doable," she said and faded out.
Xander woke to find himself in the lounge of the school. With Oz staring at him. "Hey," he said, sitting up. "Sorry."
"You weren't there," Oz told him, sitting beside him. "Want to explain?"
"Not really," he said hesitantly. "I will, but not yet." Oz shook his head. "Just give me two days to figure it out, okay?"
Oz stood up. "Come on, we need to go help."
"Coming." Xander walked after him, staring at his feet, wondering what she had seen in his mind.
Giles looked up as Xander walked in, frowning at him but giving him the book back. "Where were you?"
"In the lounge," he said as he slid into his seat. Buffy gave him a snort and a stare. "I was." He shrugged and pulled over one of the research books, doing his fair share to solve the present problem.
Giles and Willow walked into the library, both of them hurrying when they saw Xander out cold on the table. "He living?" Willow asked as Giles checked Xander's pulse.
Giles nodded. "He's deeply asleep. Help me get him onto my couch." He ignored the mild sneer she had as he got the young man comfortably settled. He sat down on the floor, considering the stretched-out body. "Does he usually sleep this hard?"
Willow shook her head. "He's an active guy, or at least he was when we used to have sleep- overs. Even when he couldn't sleep for days at a time, he was active and jumpy when he was asleep." She chewed on a nail. "Are you sure he's okay?"
"I'm not sure, but I could go into a trance to try and figure out if his mind was still in his body. That would tell us if it was something unnatural or if he was simply asleep." She nodded, smiling in relief. "Fine, go check on that demon with Buffy once she gets here. Don't leave while I'm under, it's too risky. I may get stuck and need some help." Willow nodded, heading back out to the study tables. He rearranged himself so he would be comfortable and not cramp up on his trip, then relaxed. He headed down into his trance easily, having had much practice.
Xander looked around the landscape in confusion. This time he was in a field, watching the trees blow in the breeze. He walked toward the lone person, a woman wearing long, light-blue robes, but not the one he had met before. He noticed her shoulder-length black hair was pushed back behind one delicate pointed ear. "Hi," he said tentatively.
She flashed him a smile. "Welcome to Fantasia," she said warmly.
"Okay, so I'm back again? Where's the other woman?"
"I'm going to be your guide now. Same as in the movie, the boy had the Plain's Warrior, you have me. Think of her as an executive and me as her helper." She waved a hand around. "We have your first fantasy all ready for you, Xander." He felt his jaw drop. "We've been tracking you and your friends to see which one of you would be best suited. You were chosen because your dreams and imagination are still so clear. That and your curiosity made you the perfect savior." She made a clicking noise and a pale-gray horse walked over to nuzzle her cheek. "This one will guide you where I can't." She led him over and lifted him up effortlessly, setting him sideways on the saddle.
As the horse moved, Xander felt himself changing. He felt his body shifting and closed his eyes, understanding that his greatest wondering was going to be solved. When the horse stopped, he slid down and walked over to the small stream running through the clearing. His breath caught as he saw himself. His body was softly shaped, with small perky breasts. His hair was now down to his waist in flowing waves. His usual jeans and loud shirt were now a softly draped dark red robe that fitted his body well, showing enough of a hint of cleavage to interest someone. He turned at the gasp. "Oz?" he asked, his voice now sounding husky and a little higher than normal in pitch. "What are you doing *here*?"
"Not sure, but at least I'm not a horse anymore." He walked over to pick up a lock of hair, letting it wind around his finger. "If I say you're pretty would you not beat me?" He looked up into the brown eyes, following the more prominent features of his friend's face.
"No," Xander whispered, "not at all."
"He's not simply pretty, he's beautiful," Giles said as he walked into the clearing. He smiled, holding out a hand. "I had no idea that you were wondering in this direction." Xander nodded, swallowing hard as he looked over the softer body.
Oz leaned down to pick up the shining thing at his feet. "Xander, think this is yours." He walked over to put it around the young woman's neck as Giles held up the shining curtain of dark hair, teasing the soft skin beneath it. Oz pushed together the clasp, watching as it disappeared with a small flash. "Wow."
Xander touched the inch-wide, flat piece of metal, tracing the intermittent stones and the entwined knot at the center that hung just above the cleft between his breasts. "Pretty?" he asked, looking at Giles first.
"Stunning," Giles said quietly as he leaned in for a kiss. He pulled back at the soft sound of protest. "Oz?"
Oz walked the few steps to stand in front of them. He kissed Giles then turned to do the same to Xander, deeply probing his soft mouth. "Nice," he said as he pulled back. "What about at home?"
Xander blushed lightly. "I've, um, wanted..." He looked up and blinked. "Lots, guys." He walked into the men's arms, relaxing into the hug. "Not mad?"
"Never," Giles assured him, dropping a tender kiss on top of Xander's hair. "I, too, have wanted."
Oz nodded. "Me too." He gave him another kiss. "Are you going to be Xander?"
"Xandra," Giles said. "To differentiate between them." That got another blush. "My, you're a blushing maiden, aren't you?" he joked.
Xandra nodded. "In all meanings."
Oz licked his lips. "May we fix that?" Xandra nodded.
"We may?" Giles asked, squeezing her tightly.
"As long as this isn't something that's a product of being here and is coming home with us," she said, looking at Giles then at Oz. "Okay?"
"I would be ecstatic to see you again when we return to our lives." Oz nodded his agreement.
"You will? What about Willow?"
"Not feeling like this for her."
Buffy and Willow glanced in the office and shrugged when they found it empty. "Guess he took nap-boy home," Buffy said as she headed for the door. "Want walked home?"
"Sure," Willow said, grabbing her backpack and following her friend out of the library.
Xandra pulled Oz in for a kiss, letting her hands roam through the soft blue hair. She smiled as she felt the warm body mold itself to her backside. "Hmm," she hummed, pulling back to lick her lips. "Nice."
"Thanks," Oz said with a small, self-depreciating smile.
Giles nipped Xandra's ear, blowing and licking across the pink spot. "Would you mind if we moved along with this?" Xandra shook her head as he turned her around, undoing the clasps that held the robe together, allowing Oz to slide it off her. "Very beautiful," Giles said with a smile, laying Xandra down on her robe. He moved in front of Oz, kissing him as he pulled his t-shirt out of his jeans. "May I?" he asked lightly.
"Yup, would enjoy it."
"And if I had Xandra first?"
"I can't be someone's first," Oz admitted. "It's too big of a responsibility."
Giles nodded. "I understand." He kissed him again, running his hands over the compact, tight chest. He chuckled at the jump when he teased the hard nipples, pulling back to lift off the younger man's t-shirt. Xandra chuckled, lifting up a hand to call them over but Giles shook his head. "Not yet, precious."
"Precious? Giles?" she added when he didn't get an immediate answer.
"Yes, Xandra, precious. You have been for a while now." He leaned down to kiss her. "Both like this now that I've seen you and in your more usual form." He pushed Oz down onto the spread-out robe, stripping for them. When he was as bare as they were, he lay down on the other side of Xandra, gently stroking down the side of her face. "You are so precious to me," he said softly. "There aren't many things in life that I find more faithful and exciting than you. Your face is the one I search out each morning when you all tromp into my library. You are the one precious thing truly inhabiting my existence."
"He makes your existence a life?" Oz suggested before leaning down to tease Xandra's neck with his tongue.
Giles gave him a bright smile. "Truly a perfect way to put it." He leaned down to kiss her lips, teasing and enticing her to join in.
Xandra moaned, bringing an arm up to run her fingers through Oz's hair as she deepened the kiss with Giles. She gave a small whimper when both men pulled back at once. "Not yet," she pleaded. She tensed as a warm, rough hand starting to stroke her stomach. "Teach me?"
"Of course," Oz told her, giving her a kiss while Giles' hand moved from a gentle brush of fingertips to a firm rubbing across the soft flesh. Oz pulled back to look at the older man. "Foreplay?"
Xandra heard a small, ripping noise and sat up, looking around to find out where it was. "Um, guys," she moaned, "what was that?"
"What was what?" Oz asked, busy in his task of playing with her arms and shoulders.
"I didn't hear a thing," Giles agreed.
"No, we're here for a reason," she said, standing up and looking around. She walked over to where a spot was forming next to the stream, getting down to look at it. "The violence is starting to rip faster, we should be doing something besides having fun." She felt a body behind her and looked up. "This is why we're here."
Giles groaned, standing up to walk over to where she and Oz were standing. "What's that?"
"Violence," Oz said, looking around them. "I read something about that, but my story wasn't about that, it was about helping."
Xandra stood up. "Mine was about fixing it." She looked at Giles. "What was yours about?"
"Your story." Xandra said patiently. "What did the book say?" Giles still looked confused so she explained it to him. "The book, like the one Oz and I have, is like the one from this movie, the NeverEnding Story. It's what pulled us here."
"It's the story of our adventures," Oz added.
Giles rubbed his face and walked back to where their clothes were lying. "Then I guess we should get on with this."
Oz looked at Xandra, who was trying hard to disappear into the ground. "We'll fix it, we have time for fun later." He picked up her hand, helping her over to the clothes. "Does this mean I get to become the...." In his place stood the pale-grey horse.
"Yup," Xandra said with a grin, "guess you do." She picked up her robe, shaking it out, and put it back on. Then she looked at the saddle and bridle sitting where Oz had first changed back to himself. "Okay, how do I put that stuff on you?"
"Easily," Giles said, going over to pick it up. He came back, handing off the saddle. "This is how you put on a bridle." He slipped it up Oz's nose, checking each one of the straps to make sure it was comfortable, then checked the bit to make sure it was in the right spot before fastening the bottom buckles.
"Um, won't he have a hard time drinking and stuff?"
Giles nodded. "Yes, but I think we might be able to fix that." He touched the clips on either side of the bit, tapping them. "We could take off the bit, but that means that you won't be able to control him if he starts."
Xandra shrugged. "I think Oz won't hurt me." She unclipped the bit, handing it off. "Okay, what about this one?"
"No blanket?" She shook her head. "Okay, start the saddle up near his shoulders and slide it backwards until it settles in a comfortable spot. That way you don't get saddle sores and matted hair under it." He watched as she did it, giving her a faint smile. "Very good. Now buckle it tightly."
Xandra squatted down, looking at the buckle, grabbing the tongue to insert it. She stood as she tightened it, checking it with a finger. "Tight tight or not too tight?"
"Tight, otherwise it'll fall or go sideways." He grabbed the tongue, tightening it a bit more. "There, try that." He watched as Oz exhaled, tightening it again. "Thought so, tricky beast."
"Hey, that's Oz." Xandra looked at the stirrup, then back at Giles. "How?"
"Put your right foot up there and grab the saddle to help pull you up, love." He helped with a hand on her butt, earning a smile. "Very good." He looked around. "I do believe I'm not supposed to be here."
Xandra leaned down, giving him a kiss. "We'll be back soon if you're not." Giles smiled at her, stepping back. "Thanks."
"You're welcome, Xandra." He slid the bit into the pack behind the saddle, then patted Oz's rear, making her squeal as Oz jumped forward. "I'll see you at home," he said as he faded out.
Xandra waited until they were alone to look down at the ground. "Okay, we have violence rips, do we try to follow them back to a normal source or do we just search?" Oz's ears flattened. "Okay, so let's find a good rip and follow it back." The horse walked forward and she started to slip. "How do I do this?"
"Leg over the handle," Oz said.
"Oh, hey, you *can* talk." She shifted until her legs were around the unfamiliar resting spots, feeling much more secure and balanced like this. "Oh, *much* better." She sat up straighter. "Rip," she said, pointing. Oz walked toward it, following the line in the ground.
Giles woke up in the library, sitting on his office floor, and sighed, standing up. "I knew it was too good to be true." He walked out into the main library, grimacing when he saw the mess the girls had left. "Buffy!" he called. When he didn't get an answer, he sat down at the table, picking up Xander's book to read, hoping he could at least follow them. //Xandra soon started to feel uncomfortable, the unfamiliar riding bruising her tender....// He snorted and put the book down. "I have no doubt that she's going to be rather sore soon." He looked up as the door opened, then looked at his watch and the candy and chip wrappers on the table. "I do believe most of this is your doing?"
"Yeah, how's nap-boy?" she asked as she walked in. Buffy sat across from him, pushing her wrappers down the table. "Why're you back?"
"I was about to ask you the same question."
"Um, because I forgot something here." She nodded, looking toward the stacks. "Up there."
Giles groaned as he stood up, well able to figure out why she was back in the library at three in the morning and so nervous. "Just clean up your mess and don't make more of one." He took the book with him, heading out to his car. "I don't want to know," he told himself. "Just as long as they don't have sex against the books."
Once a few hours in the saddle had passed, Xandra found she couldn't take it anymore. "Oz, stop, before my ass blisters," she begged, sliding off as soon as she could, landing on aforementioned rear. "Ow." She reached over to undo the riding equipment, freeing Oz to become himself again. "How did people do this for centuries?"
"They were used to it," Oz told him, sitting on the grass. "Got any thoughts yet?"
"Not unless there's a spot where the violence starts to rip from. I'm thinking that some may be random but most are from a central spot." Oz nodded. "If we can find that spot then maybe we can do something."
"I'm surprised we don't have separations of types." She looked at him, clearly confused. "Like all the transgendered ones are close together and all the spanking ones together."
"Oh. I'm not sure." She shrugged and scratched under her robe. "This isn't that comfortable. It itches and my breasts hurt."
Oz snickered. "I never thought I'd hear you say that."
"Yeah, well, for a fantasy land, nothing's easy."
"Maybe it's part of the problem. They can't concentrate on making it all feel good if they have to focus on the rips."
"Maybe," Xandra conceded, leaning against her friend's side. "What now?"
"We could camp or we could keep going." She looked up at him. "Personally, I'm all for finding a Holiday Inn. Not real used to being a horse." He scratched the back of his neck. "All that hair feels gross."
She chuckled, standing up. "Come on, let's walk for a while and see what we can't get into."
"Food and shelter," Oz reminded her. He looked at the saddle. "Guess we're carrying those." They disappeared. "Um, okay," he said and shrugged, getting up to follow Xandra farther into the woods.
Xandra looked up as Oz faded out, waving at him. "I'll see you later," she called, smiling at the forest around her. "Yeah, now I can get out of this itchy robe and wash!" She headed for a nearby stream, stripping as fast as she could and kneeling beside the sluggish water to start scooping some over her hot and tired body. "Oh, feels good," she sighed at the first trickle of cold water down her chest.
She stopped splashing herself for a second, sure she had heard something, but went back to it when the woods around her stayed quiet. She started to shiver as the wind picked up, standing up and putting back on her robe to protect her against the chilling fingers brushing against her inner thighs. She wrapped her arms around her, glancing around the clearing as the wind seemed to shift. It was now brushing only across her chest, almost teasing her with its cool touch. She could feel herself reacting, shivering as her nipples hardened. "Okay," she sighed, heading back for the path she had been following. "That's enough of this. Nipples hurt when they're cold and so tight." She brushed past a tree, not bothering to look up, even after the branch rubbed across her butt on the way past it.
Her pace quickened. "Trees aren't supposed to pat you and the wind isn't supposed to do that to me," she muttered, breaking into a run, holding her chest down as she ran so it would quit jiggling. She found Oz sitting on a stump next to the path and fell into his arms, giving him a kiss. "Good, you're back. Let's go." She pulled him up and dragged him down the path, forcing him to keep up.
Oz just shook his head but went with her. She would tell him about it eventually.
Giles put down his book, sighing as he leaned back on his bed. "Boys," he muttered. His eyes drifted shut, allowing him to go back to where they were. He walked into their makeshift camp, pulling Xandra into a kiss before they had realized he was there.
"No fair, he doesn't have to do the riding," Xandra said when she could again.
Oz snorted. "Maybe he'll be the horse tomorrow. You're not that light." He kissed Xandra too, laying her down on the spread-out clothes. "There, much better. Now shh and let us enjoy."
Xandra grinned at her men, waving them down. "I'm cold, come cuddle."
"I think we could do more than that," Giles told him, lying beside her on top of the clothes. He pulled her in for another kiss, fondling the soft flesh gently. "How's that? Still chilled?"
"Nope, getting really warm," she said, blinking at him. "How about you?"
"I'm rather warm myself," Giles said with a tolerant smile. "Oz, how about you?"
"Really warm, but I like watching." He sat down next to her hips, gently stroking the soft flesh. "Do more, I'm happy where I am."
Buffy dropped the book she had found on the table, wiping her hands off on her jeans. "Eww!" She looked at Willow, who just shrugged. "What are they doing!"
"They're fixing the rips in Fantasia," Angel said softly, still relaxed in his chair. "Dru found one of those once, told me all about her trip." He shrugged at the dirty looks. "It's the *adult* side of Fantasia, what did you expect?"
"Not that!" she shrieked. "Not them kissing....kissing." She turned green. "Eww, I'm going to lay down." She started to head for the office but reconsidered when she thought about what might have gone on on the couch in there. "Nope, going to go home. Willow, cast something to bring them back." She grabbed her jacket, jogging for the door. "I'm going to go be sick."
Angel smirked at Willow. "Such a prude, even after all these years." He shrugged and stood up. "I'd hate to be the first vamp she runs into."
"She's just not used to thinking about guys together," Willow said calmly, closing the book before she had read anymore about her boyfriend and Giles. "I've known Xander was going in that direction for a while now, even if he didn't. I wish I had realized Oz was, but that's okay.... I guess anyway." She slumped a little. "That's okay, right?"
"If you want it to be, then it is," Angel told her. He headed for the door. "Keep reading, maybe you'll end up there too."
"No thanks," Willow sighed, picking back up the book to keep reading about Oz, Giles, and whoever Xandra was. "I don't think I could take being there as a mouse. Maybe as a human...." She shook her head. "No, I don't need to go there, Buffy would be all alone. She'd freak. That would be bad."
Xandra turned her head to look at Oz, shrugging. "I've been thinking, what if the rips are a definition problem?"
Giles groaned, lifting his head up from between her legs. "Xandra, is this not keeping your attention?" He sat up, frowning at her. "If not, I could quit."
"No," she said quickly, "it just came to me. Really, I was enjoying it. Didn't you feel me enjoying it?"
"Yes, or at least I thought I had."
Oz snorted. "Women can do that. They're not like us."
"Yeah, really not," Xandra said softly, looking down at her body. "I never dreamed they were so different. I knew all of the biological stuff, but I'd never have thought of it being definitional. Or even that I could lay back and enjoy it."
Oz nodded, leaning down to give her a kiss. "Yeah, they're way different." He shared a kiss with Giles, giving him a slight smile. "You never had a woman do that to you?"
"No, not ever," he said, rubbing across his face.
"I'm sorry," Xandra said, sitting up. "It just popped out." She gave Giles a slight grin. "Can't I be forgiven?"
"Of course you can, my dear," he said, kissing her gently. "Would you like to discuss your idea? That way you could focus later?"
She nodded, drawing her knees up to rest her chin on them, clasping her arms around her legs. "I think this would have to be a definition problem. Someone named the violence the wrong thing."
"Sort of like naming the nothingness changed it?" Oz asked.
"Yeah, exactly. Only this time, I think we're dealing with a definition problem. Maybe the one they have isn't specific enough or something." She shrugged. "That's my idea, and all I can think of. If it's not that, then it's something like the nothingness from the movie."
"Okay," Oz agreed. "How do we find where the definitions are? They aren't usually written down."
"Well, if there's someone here like the Childlike Empress, then we could go ask them. Otherwise, I'm stuck."
"Hmm," Giles said, relaxing. "So you're considering the idea that 'violence', as an entity, has been tearing apart the world because we improperly named it?" She nodded, giving him a bright smile. "Then why were you changed into a woman?"
"Because the land needs fantasies to survive. Just like in the movie, without fantasies, then the land and all the people in it die." Giles looked confused. "Next time we're all home, I'll show you the movie."
"Got part two?" Oz asked. "Haven't seen that one yet."
"There's a part *two*?" Oz nodded, patting her shoulder. "I want to find it if we do get home, okay?"
"Okay," Oz agreed. "It should be on video." He looked over at Giles. "They're teen movies, but this young teen has to save the regular Fantasia from the nothingness that's taking over. Kids weren't dreaming anymore and that's what the land was made of."
Giles nodded, his face lighting with understanding. "I see. So, in this case, Xandra thinks it's a matter of properly naming the violence so it can no longer harm anything?"
"That and maybe containing it somehow," Xandra said, chewing on her lips. "But if we get real specific about the definition then it might help."
"Or it could be another problem," Oz noted, wincing at the sad look. "Sorry, had to say it."
"I know, but I wish you wouldn't have. I was feeling pretty good about having maybe solved the problem." She smiled slightly. "But you're right about me possibly not being right."
"You're showing a lot of maturity, Xandra," Giles said, prying her hand up to hold. "I am very proud about how you're handling this situation."
"Thank you." She leaned over, giving him a kiss, pulling back with a yawn. "Damn, tired," she muttered through the yawn, lying back on the gathered clothes. "We should sleep." She held out her arms to Giles. "Please nap with me?"
"Of course I will," Giles said, lying down beside her to pull her into his arms, Oz mirroring his position so Xandra was sandwiched between them. "How's that?"
"Good," she murmured, falling into a deep sleep.
Oz looked at Giles, then back down at her. "I think something's wrong. She's never done this at home." He looked back up. "Relatively speaking."
Giles gave him a small smile. "It could be that she's been bound to the land somehow. It's her fantasies that are keeping it together." Oz shook his head. "No?"
"Not the way it was done in the movies. The kid in the first one had to wish to bring things back and make the land stronger."
"Then maybe she has to do that. That could also be why he was turned female, women do tend to have better imaginations than men do." Giles rubbed down Oz's chest. "I'm sure we'll be fine soon enough. We'll figure out the source of the violence and everything will be fine and then we'll be home."
"Hopefully," Oz agreed. "Don't want to be a horse forever." He shuddered as he changed again, snorting in disgust. "Hate when that happens."
Giles smiled at him. "You do make quite a fetching stallion. I just wish I had a way to stay with you both." He turned into a basset hound, giving the horse a pitiful look. "Never mind."
Xandra blinked, looking from one to the other. "Okay, does this mean nap time's over?" Oz shook his head. "Thank you." She laid her head back down. "Oz, horses sleep standing up. They can't breath otherwise."
"Don't want to be the horse," Oz muttered as he got up to graze. "Why can't I be the dog?"
Giles barked, ears flapping as he shook his head. "Be thankful. I only reach knee height." He walked over to the horse, nipping it's calf. "See?" He trotted back over to where she was lying, getting down next to her to snuggle up to her breasts. "You sleep, precious, we'll guard you." Giles' eyes fell slowly shut, then he started to snore.
Xandra grinned at Oz. "You okay?"
"Don't want to be the horse," Oz reminded her. "Never will touch grass again."
She got up, walking over to hug Oz around the neck. "I'm sure we'll be fine, Oz, just a few more days at the most." She put a kiss on the velvety nose then jogged back to the bed, laying down with Giles. "Rest, you're going to need it." She snuggled down under Oz's clothes, falling asleep with an arm around Giles' furry body.
Oz snorted, moving closer. "You sleep," he said softly, "I'll watch." He picked up a mouthful of grass to chew. "Not bad," he admitted. "Needs pepper."
Xandra woke up and stretched, a very impressive sight if another human had been around. She looked down at the furry body next to her, frowning at it. "I thought you were a basset," she said, touching the black labrador's head. A pair of familiar gray eyes looked up at her. "Oh, you got your wish," she said, hugging Oz to her chest, his head between her bare breasts.
Giles knickered from the other side of the clearing, shaking his head. "Yes, I woke up like this." He glared at Oz. "I did want to be the dog."
"Tough. Be the horse today," the dog said.
Xandra laughed, blowing a kiss. "Just think, Giles, I can ride you *all* day long now."
Giles groaned, turning away from her. Oz just looked up and licked across her lips. "So bad," Oz muttered, getting up to go sniff at the trees. "Oh, rabbits," he said, ears perking up, racing off into the woods.
"OZ!" Xandra yelled, hopping up and following him into the woods. She caught up with the dog just as it caught the rabbit, turning green as he watched his best friend eat the creature. "Eww! Couldn't you wait until you were human to do that?" She pointed back at the camp. "Take it back there."
Oz trotted off, dead rabbit between his teeth, saying something about that being familiar.
"I don't want to know," Xandra said, heading back to their campsite, following her new dog. She ignored the whistle of the wind for her bare body and its pleasant bouncing.
Willow put down the book, rubbing her eyes. "At least that's a familiar state for Oz," she sighed, looking up as Buffy walked into the library. "They switched. Giles is the horse now."
Buffy shook her head. "Can't you fix that? Bring them back or something?"
"Not without killing everyone there," Willow said shortly, glaring at her best friend. "Xandra was chosen to do that and to live like that for a while. We have to support her in it, it's part of the whole saving the world thing to support others that are trying to do the same thing elsewhere. As a matter of fact, it may even be your fantasies that are helping destroy the whole land."
"Not mine," Buffy said, "I like hearts, flowers, and shared bathes." She saw the light blush. "Sorry, I just hate waiting around. I'm not supposed to simply wait for things to happen."
"Well, this time you have to wait." Willow picked back up the book, going back to the story. She wanted to know what her boyfriend was doing.
Xandra checked the tack Giles was wearing, making sure the saddle was tight enough before she climbed up onto his back, frowning at his grunt. "I'm not that heavy," she complained. "Don't even grunt like a lunch lady or something." He picked up the reins, following Oz out of the clearing. "We still following rips?"
Oz barked something that sounded like, "Yup."
"Okay. Follow the dog." She nudged Giles' side with her bare foot. They rode off into the early morning light, Xandra's mind running at full speed. By noon, they came to a place where all the rips were stopped. As far as they could see and explore separately in an hour there were no rips. Which confused Giles as he changed back into a human, clawing to get the bridle off his face.
"Shh," Xandra cooed, helping him get it off and laying it aside. "Shhh, the nasty thing's gone, you're okay," she said, hugging him. "No more being strangled by leather."
"Thank you," Giles said once he caught his breath. "That was rather confining." He looked over at Oz, who was still a dog. "Weren't you going to change back?" He picked a comfortable spot and sat down.
Oz shrugged and changed back, shrugging again. "I can't tell when it's going to happen." He moved closer to them, laying his head in Giles' lap. "Now what? There aren't any rips."
"Hmm, I wonder what fantasy section this is?" A woman appeared next to them, the same one that had given Xander the Oz-horse back when they had started out. "Oh, hey, what section is this?"
"This is the punishment section," she said, sitting next to them. She smiled at Xandra. "Your fantasies have been very instrumental in helping us overcome some of the problem, my dear."
"Do you have a place where the definition for violence lives?" Oz asked, looking up. "You look much different now that I'm human again."
"Thank you," she said with a musical chuckle, "and yes, we do have a spot like that. Do you think that's part of the problem?"
"Could be," Xandra admitted. "If it's not specific, then some of this could be stuff that's kinda normal but not real healthy. Can we go there?"
"I can bring it here," she said, waving her hand and creating a book. "Violence, the act of hurting someone."
"Ah," Oz said sitting up. "The act or desire to intentionally hurt someone against their will." She wrote it down and a few ripping noises happened. "Better or worse?"
"Both," she said with a frown. "Many of the old rips healed but right then a few more happened, not because of the definition, just because it's time. Every day at this time many new rips start."
"Military?" Xandra suggested. "Plenty of violence all at once."
"Point," Oz agreed. He looked at Giles, who was deep in thought. "What's up, wise one?"
"Hum? Oh, just thinking. That may well be the military causing those consistent rips, but those would be the surface thoughts, not their dreams." He looked at her. "Where's the dream interface, or whatever you use to pull dreams to you, at? Maybe it's set a bit too shallow or something."
"I don't know," she admitted. "I know it's somewhere in the center of the plains but otherwise I don't have a clue." She shrugged and faded out, leaving a faint blue light. "Safe trip, trust the necklace," floated out of the light before it disappeared.
"Huh," Oz said, lying back down. "Okay, now what?"
"Now we travel," Xandra said. "That's one of the best ideas I've heard yet. And if it wasn't picking up on real fantasies then it might have picked up on all the surface tension we have today." She reached down to stroke over both of her men's faces. "You've both had some very good ideas. Want to head for the plains?"
"Yeah," Oz said, standing up, shrinking down into his dog form. "Faster this way."
Giles sighed and stood up, letting himself change back into the horse. He even stood still while Xandra put on his tack, stomping his foot once in a while but otherwise staying still. "I don't want to be the horse anymore," he muttered as she mounted.
"Sorry, Giles," she said with a grin for Oz, "but it was your turn." She looked around. "Where are the plains?"
"We'll ask the next person we see," Oz told her. "Let's go straight for now." He headed off in that direction, followed reluctantly by Giles.
Giles stopped dead in the middle of the trail, refusing to move. Oz changed back, helping Xandra down and taking off the tack, holding it as he changed back. "What?" Oz asked him testily, reacting to Giles' glare.
"I don't want to do that ever again."
"Oh, so I get to be the horse and you don't," Oz asked, looking him over. "Gee, not fair at all."
Xandra whistled sharply, breaking them up. "Guys, stop it. This isn't helping Fantasia at all." They both looked at her then went back to fighting. She looked down at her necklace, frowning at the one section that was lit up. "Are you a warning light?" he asked it. Then he figured something out, pulling Oz away from Giles. "The necklace, it's a map." He twisted it some so they could look at the sides. "See, each of those markings is a little map with the stones being important places."
"Or places to avoid," Oz said. He traced over it. "If we knew where we were or where we had started this morning, we might be better able to read it."
"How many forests are there?" Xandra asked. She pointed to the section that had caught her attention. "This one was glowing, so maybe we're here?"
"Or maybe that's where the plains are," Oz suggested mildly, not wanting to erase the hopeful look from her face. He traced the small map with his finger, considering it. "I think this is where we started." He looked over the other maps, ending up looking at one under her curtain of hair. "Here we are," he said, pointing the spot out to Giles. "And it looks like we're on the edge of a big flat place."
"The plains perhaps?" Giles asked.
Oz shrugged, letting him look at the map, handing him the hair he was holding up. He walked around Xandra to kiss her. "Thanks, good suggestions."
"Thanks," she said with a light blush. "I hate it when I do that."
"I think it's rather cute," Giles said, also coming around to kiss her. "What sort of woman were you thinking of when you changed?"
"I used to wonder what those women in the romance novels were like, what it was like to be them," she admitted, burying her head in Oz's shoulder, peeking out at Giles. "I never imagined it was this uncomfortable. Or that girls got itches like that or any of this."
Oz snorted. "Yeah, it's a much more complicated body." He pushed her back up, looking into her eyes. "It's probably not that long until dark, why don't we find a nice camping spot where we can bathe? We'll help you get used to the problems."
"Okay," she said, nodding, tugging at her robe. "Can this be like Xanth and have clothes tree though?" she pleaded. "I really can't stand this robe anymore."
"Be thankful it's not a corset," Giles told her gently. "Most women used to wear them and they were in no means comfortable." He looked around. "Oz, can you hear water running?"
"Small stream," Oz said, pointing, "or waterfall." He pointed in the other direction. "You choose."
"Waterfall so I can wash my hair, or at least rinse it out," Xandra said, heading in the way Oz had pointed. "Come on."
They broke through the trees to find the waterfall, gasping at the statue that guarded it. "Um, hello," Giles said carefully. "Are you living?"
The statue quit peeing clean water and turned to look at them, frowning. "Of course I am. Are you?"
"Yes, or at least I suppose we are since we're dreaming."
"Ah, the chosen one." He looked down at Xandra from his tree-height. "You're a pretty little thing," he said with a leer.
"Thanks," she said, clutching Oz's hand in hers. "Can you help us? We're looking for the dream interface, it's somewhere in the center of the plains? Do you know where it is?"
"It's that way," he said, pointing. "You're going the wrong way."
"No, we were going to camp here tonight," Xandra said quickly, "but maybe we should keep going since there's still some light left." She turned, heading back into the trees.
"Which way are you headed?" Oz asked.
"The plains, around them. Would you like me to carry you?"
Oz nodded, even though he heard Xandra telling him no. "Please. Just a lift in your hand would be appreciated if you could."
"Of course." The statue bent down, laying his hand on the ground, letting Giles, who was dragging Xandra, on first, then closing his fist once Oz got on. He started walking, heading through the woods with no problem, smiling cruelly.
Xandra looked around the place they were put down, frowning. "Gee, this doesn't look like any plains I've ever seen." She frowned up at the statue. "Where are we?"
"My home," he laughed, walking away. "And here you'll stay." He shut a door in the rock wall, locking them in.
Oz sighed, rubbing over Xandra's arm. "Okay, how do we get out? Giles, magic?"
"It may backfire, I'm not sure it's compatible with this plane, or even if it works here at all." He tried to create a small light, but ended up sweating before it happened. "As I feared, it's nearly impossible."
"Can anyone pick locks?" Oz asked. Everyone shook their heads. "Okay, now what?"
"I'm not bartering with him," Xandra said firmly. "I saw the way he looked at me and I'm not going there."
"Of course you're not," Giles sighed, looking around the large cavern. "There must be another way out. I can feel a breeze."
"It's water scented," Oz said helpfully. "Salt water."
Giles shook his head. "All right, what would happen in the movie about now?"
"Well, there was always the faithful companion who might have realized the hero was in trouble and came to help, or Bastion would have to get himself out because he had alienated Artrau. Pick?"
"Hmm," Oz said, frowning as he examined the wall. "Walls have eyes."
"Great," Xandra sighed, tossing up her arms. "I'm supposed to be fixing the land and we get taken as unwilling slaves."
"We're supposed to be fixing the land," Oz said absently, still looking over the wall.
"Huh?" she asked, turning to look at him.
Oz turned to face her. "*We're* supposed to be fixing the land, not just you. If you're Bastion, than we're Artrau and his horse. We're supposed to be fixing it." He turned back to the wall. "I think I found something interesting here," he said, pointing at it, then pulling his hand back quickly as the wall tried to bite him. "Huh, not friendly."
Xandra sat down to look at the wall. "Could we have been wrong? Could this statue-guy being doing the rips?"
"Or he could be working with the violence," Giles pointed out, sitting next to her. "What should we do?"
"We can either wait for help, make a plan, or work on an escape," Xandra said. "All three choices suck though."
Oz sat across from her in the dim light, studying her. "Okay, escape?"
"When he comes to feed us or whatever?" Giles suggested, sitting down beside Oz.
"Why didn't you guys notice the way he was looking at me," she said with a frown. "Or the way I tried to get away from him?" She looked up. "This isn't really helpful, we're way off course now."
"Sorry," Oz sighed, leaning his head back and closing his eyes. "I thought it was more of your blushing routine."
"It's not a routine," she hissed, standing up and walking over to the door, checking the lock. "It's almost big enough to get my hand in," she muttered, looking at the metal pieces inside the lock. "Maybe I can shift it some." She jumped back as the door rattled, glaring at the source of laughter on the other side. "Sure, think it's funny, but you're still not getting any." He bent back to the lock, frowning at the dark shape he could see inserted now. "Yeah, that's it, give us the key." He reached in to shove it out of the way, pulling his hand back as fast as he could when what he touched wasn't metal and was warm. "So sick," she called, wiping her hand off on her dress.
"You're bleeding," Oz said, getting up to come over and help her. He looked at her hand then at the lock. "What's in there?"
"Something fleshy." She shook her hair back over her shoulders, looking around the cavern. "That's it. I've had enough." She raised her foot, kicking at the solid metal door, shaking it. "Let me the *fuck* out!" she yelled. "I'm *not* doing this and no rock-man is going to stop me."
"Watch the violence," Oz reminded quietly, stepping back when she glared at him. "Hey, repeating your words." He let her handle it.
The door scraped open. "What do you think you're doing, kicking my door?" the statue growled.
"What do *you* think *you're* doing holding us hostage?" Xandra said, ready to throw an awesome fit. "We *never* asked to come here and we sure don't want to be your guests if you treat us like this. And for another thing, I don't like you, not in any way. I don't like people who kidnap me or ones that lock me into caverns. Just let us go and we'll be *fine*," she spat, hands on her hips, eyes glaring in a way that would make Cordelia proud.
"Oh," the statue said flatly. "I thought you wouldn't mind coming home with me." He sat down in the doorway. "I thought you were coming on to me."
She shook her head. "I don't come onto someone by telling them no, no real woman does. The type that plays those games aren't the sort of woman you want to be with." She calmed down, walking closer to him. "Listen, I don't want to be here, I have a job to do. You need a woman from here that you can relate with. Why don't you get one of your own species?"
"Because they hate me," he said with a shrug, grabbing her and standing up, kicking Oz back when he tried to get her back. "I'll deal with you two later." He locked them back in, walking Xandra back to his part of the cave. "You'll see, you'll like it here."
"I'm not even from here," she snorted, struggling to get free. She lurched as he put her down onto the table, ducking away from his helping finger. "No, and I mean it."
"You won't for long," he promised her, going back to his meal. "Eat."
"No." She crossed her arms, glaring at him. "I am not a cooperative hostage." She stomped her foot and shook her head, heading off across the table. "I sounded like a girl," she muttered.
"You are," he laughed.
"No, technically, I'm not." She sneered. "The only reason I'm a girl now is because someone wanted me to be one. Deal with it."
"You're not a woman?" the statue asked, confused, putting down his spoon.
"No, I'm not a woman," she mocked. "This is the first week I've spent as a woman ever."
"Good," he said with another leer, "then you're an innocent. Even better for me."
"Said who?" she sneered. "I'm traveling with two men, what makes you think I'm still innocent?"
"That's fine with me too."
"What makes you think I'm fully a woman?"
"Hey, you'll still have a hole. It won't much matter to me." The statue picked back up its spoon, going back to its stew. "You'll get used to it soon and I'll never have to take another fit from you again."
"Bet me," she said, going back to heading for the edge of the table, looking down from the massive height. She swallowed but swung down to slide down the leg, getting onto the floor to look for something to release the men from their prison. She knew the statue was watching her but she no longer cared.
Oz looked at Giles, who was fading out. "Going home?"
"Yes, I can't control this. I have no idea why I come and go the way I do and you don't." He looked over Oz's body. "You're getting rather thin yourself," he pointed out.
"Maybe we can all go home and start somewhere else," Oz quipped as they disappeared.
Willow grunted, frowning at the book. "That's mean." She looked up as Giles appeared in the office of the library. "That was mean, leaving her like that." She handed over the book with a glare. "Really mean." She stormed out of the library, leaving him alone.
Oz walked out of the cage, shrugging. "Not a clue, man. I just date her."
Giles nodded. "Women are a mystery to us still. I can see the point of ancient man thinking that they were otherworldly."
"Oh, yeah," Oz agreed, sitting down to pick up his book and read it, following Xandra's adventure.
Xandra tapped her fingers as she looked around the cavern she had been put back into, glaring at the rocks. "Oh, yeah, gonna get them for this," she muttered, heading for the back of the cavern, following the small, twisted path to the lake of salt water. She looked around the walls and tried to think when she didn't find a ledge or another way across. She pushed her skirt back down as the breeze blew under it, shivering as the wind touched her most private parts. "This is sick," she decided, walking down to the water. She stuck her foot in, drawing it back quickly as something came up to touch her. "Hey!"
A little head came up to the surface. "What do you want with my home?"
"I'd just like to cross it to get out of the cave."
"What makes you think I'm going to let you sully my home with your foulness, woman?" the head sneered, going back under the water.
"Oh, I don't know, maybe because letting me cross would be better for you than letting me get pissed and *really* fouling your water," she called. The head came back up. "Please. All I want to do is escape from the statue-guy."
"There's another cave on the other side with another just like him," the head admitted, looking her over. "Why do you want to escape him? He'll be good to you."
"I don't want him to be good to me. Do you know how I get out?"
She waited but no more information was coming out. "Okay, how?" She gave him a hopeful look.
"Depends, do you want the hard or the easy way?"
"Which way is closer to the plains?"
"The easy way."
"Then I definitely want that one," Xandra decided.
"Go through the wind tunnel and past the blower." The head disappeared as she headed for the opening the wind was coming out of. "That's the hard way," it muttered as soon as she disappeared. "The easy way would have been to walk out the hole in the cavern." He chuckled and dove back under the water.
Xandra walked through the dark tunnel, feeling her way along, her skin getting chilled as the wind hit her. She gasped as one blow went directly up her skirt, proving once again that she wasn't wearing underwear and that women were *very* different than men. She started to shiver for a reason other than the cold, clutching the wall as she moaned. "Yeah," she cried, pounding her fist into the wall as she came. She smiled down the cave in the direction of the wind. "Thank you. Can I get past now?" The breeze chuckled but lessened, letting her walk on without so much interference. She made it past the blower, a square pink blob with a mouth and a single eye, patting it on the head. "Thanks, didn't know what that was going to be like." She gave it a warm smile, continuing down the path, her wet and warm feeling growing as the wind picked up again. She stopped as she started to feel that tingly feeling again, leaning against the wall to let it pass, eyes squeezed tightly shut in the dark.
When she was done, she walked toward the weak light she could see, making it outside in time to see the last rays of sunset. "Okay, shelter," she told herself, heading toward the scrub trees that led into the edge of the plains. "Three more days and I'll be on the plains."
Oz put down his book. "She's going to be royally pissed at us."
"I'm sure we can convince her it wasn't us. We had no control of coming back this time."
Oz looked at him. "Didn't wish it at all, huh?"
"Well, yes, but I'd never admit it to her," Giles said with a faint smile. "I do hope she'll be all right."
"You're still being the horse next time," Oz told him, going back to his book.
Buffy walked into the library, slamming the doors. "Oh, good," she said sarcastically, "you're back from the hole farm." She glared at each of them. "What is it with you men, can't you do something besides innocent women?"
"Do shut up," Giles sighed. "What goes on in our personal lives is none of your business." He looked up at her. "Even if I were to follow your stellar example and start dating one of the enemy, it still wouldn't be any of your business." She snorted, shaking her head. "Dear, do get over it. We're not here to be beleaguered by you over our relationships." He turned the page on his story, going back to what Xandra was doing.
Buffy snorted and stomped out, leaving them alone. "Freaks," she called over her shoulder.
"Gee, she didn't see us as animals, huh?" Oz quipped. He looked up. "What would she say if she had seen you as a really fine stallion?"
"Probably nothing. Her mind doesn't wrap well around sexual matters. Even Angel's come to complain to me about that. He asked me to teach her the ways of life in that matter so she wouldn't be such a prude. Maybe I shouldn't have laughed in his face."
"Maybe," Oz agreed, "but it's fun to watch." He turned the page and his mouth fell open. "Gee, maybe we don't have to be the horse." Then he fell onto the floor laughing.
Giles leaned over to look at his book, starting to laugh himself, ending up collapsed in his chair. "Oh, my. Let her do it for a bit."
Xandra sat down on the log, watching the fire she had built, muttering about her men. She jumped as she heard a footstep through the woods, looking around to see who it was. "Who's there?" she called.
"Just me." Willow bounced into the clearing, sitting next to her. "I stole Oz's book for a while so now I'm here too." She hugged her. "So, who're you in real life?"
Xandra closed his eyes and shook his head. "Willow," she sighed, "you know who I am." She opened them to find Willow in open-mouth shock. "Yeah, it's me. Xander."
"Oh, my GOD!" she shrieked, hugging him. "Oh, poor Xander. Who did this to you? I suspected but I wasn't sure that you were you and all."
Xandra looked up. "I needed this right now?" he asked. Willow hit his arm. "What? I'm trying to solve a problem, you're here and it's supposed to be Oz and Giles."
"Nope, I came to this really pretty field and the woman there said I can be the horse for a while." She stood up and changed into a bright red filly, dancing around the fire. "See?" she said happily.
Xandra groaned, kicking dirt into the fire to put it out before mounting her. "Okay, down into the plains, Willow. Head for something that might be a dream interface."
Willow knickered and trotted out into the high grass, never losing her cheerfulness. "I don't know why Oz and Giles didn't like this. I like being the horse."
Oz picked himself up off the floor, pulling himself back into his chair. "She's going to kill us," he snorted as he took his book back. "Xandra's going to hurt us a lot."
"Maybe," Giles agreed with a smile, "we should get back there." He faded out, leaving Oz there.
"Huh, not fair at all." Oz started reading again, snorting and holding in his chuckles at what he saw.
"Oh, no," Xandra said hotly, "I am *so* not going to deal with you today, Giles," he told the basset hound that had just popped up out of the grasses next to them in the clearing. The Willow filly moved closer, snorting at the dog. "No, he's not coming with us."
"You may need him," Willow pointed out. "I'm sure he didn't want to abandon you there to be blown by that blower." She turned, moving away to graze.
"Blower?" Giles asked archly as he turned back into his normal human form. "What blower? There was no blower in my part of the story."
"This cute little fleshy square," Xandra told him mock-sweetly. "Gave a good air job." She turned her back on him, heading over to where Willow was grazing, trying to catch her. "Stop it," she warned when the filly kept moving away from him.
"Hey, even horses deserve a rest break," she complained, picking up more grass to eat. "Horses have to graze about twelve hours a day or they starve. I read that somewhere," she said with a shake of her head and mane.
"I remember that feeling quite well," Giles sighed as he walked over to comfort Xandra. "I'm sorry," he said, wrapping her in his arms. "I really didn't mean to abandon you. We simply disappeared."
A rabbit popped up out of the grass, it's call sounding suggestively like, "Lying!"
"Dear God, even the animals are against me." Xandra hit his arm, getting away from him. "Ow, what was that for?"
"For lying to me." She glared at Giles, then started to cry. "I can't do this anymore," she said, sinking down. "I don't know why I feel like this."
"Hormones," Willow said succinctly, coming over to nuzzle the hurting woman with her nose. "We all have days like that."
"Being a woman is *hard*," Xandra complained. "I'm getting all sorts of things that I don't understand and I feel like crying and I don't even have a reason!"
"Of course you do," Willow said as she rubbed her soft nose over the warm face. "Shh, Xander, it's not fair but you're doing so well."
"Xandra," Giles corrected.
"Xandra," Willow agreed.
"I am here," Xandra said, getting free and wiping off her face. "See? And I can even make my own decisions."
"Of course you can," Giles said, holding out a hand. "I would still like to hold you," he offered when she didn't come immediately to him.
"I know, and I'd like that too, but I'm not sure I can trust you." She crossed her arms, looking him over. "You've had sleep and a trip home. Feeling better?"
"Not yet," Oz said as he appeared behind her. "Not while you're upset." He simply grabbed her around the waist, pulling Xandra against his body. "See? Not happy unless you're there."
"Lying," the rabbit called again.
"I'm wondering if that thing's call is that," Willow muttered as she looked at her boyfriend. "We're going to talk, Oz," she warned.
"At home," he agreed, nodding. He squeezed Xandra's middle, making her relax against him. "We were traveling, right?"
"Yeah," Xandra sighed. "We were traveling." He looked at Willow. "Want to stay a horse? You can carry one of us and one of the guys can change and be the other horse."
"Don't want to be the horse," Oz muttered as he changed. "Damn." He shook himself. "I want Xandra."
"Meany," Willow snorted. "I bet Giles is heavier."
"He's a better rider," Xandra pointed out as she climbed up onto Oz's bare back. "He had to teach me how to put on saddles and things." He grabbed the light gray mane. "Come on, Oz, let's keep going. I have no idea where the dream interface is." They trotted off, leaving Willow and Giles to catch up.
"I could become the dog," Giles suggested, but he didn't change back. "Or not," he sighed. "It's been a while since I've had to do this," he warned her as he climbed up, using the side saddle like a pro. "Come on," he said, grabbing her reins. "Follow them. That's a girl."
"Heavy," Willow snickered, trotting after them. "I'm going to get Oz back for this."
"Please do so at home," Giles told her stiffly, "and I don't weigh that much, thank you." He kicked her lightly, making her go faster.
Buffy walked into the library, looking around in confusion. "Where'd they go now?" she muttered, walking over to the books, which now looked blank to her - the books had rejected her apparently, not that she minded. She never wanted to have to hear or read about Giles and sex in the same world again. She sat down to wait, eventually falling asleep in the chair.
Xandra slid off Oz's back at their next camping spot, looking into the big, hollow tree trunk with interest. "You think we can all fit in there?" She turned around to find it was just her and Oz. "They left?"
"Willow faded out before she could change. Giles was still on her back," Oz said with a shrug. "Camping spot okay?"
"Looks good actually," Xandra said, waving at the hole. "Come look? I don't know a thing about camping."
Oz looked into the trunk, nodding. "Should be okay. No obvious critters." He pulled Xandra closer by wrapping an arm around her waist. "Kiss?" he suggested, just before stealing one.
"I'm still pissed," she said, backing away from him. "You left me there!"
"It's not like we had a choice. We can't control the coming and going thing," Oz pointed out. "If we could, we would have stayed with you." He pulled her closer again, giving her a hug. "I'm sorry we left you."
"Okay," she sighed, snuggling into his body. "Is there water around here?"
"Big stream," Oz said. He turned her around and pointed out the direction. "Just far enough away to give you some privacy for a bath. That's why I picked here." He kissed the back of her neck and sent her off with a pat to the butt. "Go bathe, I'll set up the tree."
Xandra walked through the trees to the stream, smiling at the rapidly moving water. "Now all I need is soap and shampoo and I'd be a very happy guy....er, girl." She grinned as the person assigned to help her showed up, jogging over to hug her. "Soap?" she begged.
"Of course," the girl said, handing over a pot. "It's a natural plant extract so it won't hurt the fishes." She waved at the water. "It's cold."
"Hey, I'll be *clean*," Xandra said with a grin. "Very clean." She pulled back to look her over. "How's it going?"
"Good," she admitted. "You're doing very well. The rips are slowing down and the land is starting to heal." She looked over her shoulder toward the camping spot. "He'll stay tonight, mostly because I want him to." She smiled at Xandra. "I know it's been hard, but you can do this."
"Yeah, I think I can," Xandra said, looking down at her robe. "Can I ask for another favor?" Her helper nodded. "Other clothes?"
The helper snickered and nodded, waving her hand at a bush. "There, I'll leave something for you to wear tonight and we'll get you a clean dress tomorrow." She faded out, still smiling. "Have fun," floated out of the air.
"Who was that?" Oz asked as he walked through the trees. He looked at the gauzy thing lying over a branch. "Your helper come back?"
"Yup, and we have *soap*," Xandra said, holding the pot up. "Help me wash my hair?"
Oz nodded, stripping and sitting on the stream bank. "Go get wet. We could both use it." He watched as she stripped, with her back to him, and climbed into the water. He really did admire his friend for his easy acceptance of her new status in life, but he could also appreciate her new status too. He tipped his head as she bent over to wet the tips of her hair, trying to catch a glimpse of what only Giles had seen so far. "Go deeper," he suggested at the frustrated noise. "Dunk yourself."
Xandra turned to look at him and smiled. "That's a good idea, but the water's *real* cold."
"Yeah, but it's not gonna get you like it used to. Totally different feeling."
Xandra slowly waded out, gasping as the cold water first hit her between the thighs. "Oh, yeah," she squeaked. "Way different. It's like a straw, it...my body just sucked the water up!"
Oz snickered. "Of course it is. Wiggle a little, it'll get better, it's just water pressure in an open space."
Xandra flipped him off as she waded farther in, gasping as the water moved up his body. "Oh, nipple pain," she whimpered, right before dunking herself. She came up and glared at Oz. "Do you know how this feels?"
"Not really," Oz admitted. "Never been a girl." He scooped some of the goop out of the pot and waded out, going to spread it through her hair. "Hmm, soft," he whispered since his face was next to her ear. "Very soft." He squished the slimy stuff through his fingers. "Getting ideas," he muttered, handing it to her. "Here, you do that. I'm getting thoughts."
"Good or bad?" Xandra asked, hugging him. "Still willing to scrub my back?"
"Sure," Oz sighed, turning to help her some more. "Reciprocation?"
"Every time," Xandra whispered sexily, wiggling against his body under the water. "I believe it's a good thing."
"Hey, getting even better thoughts," Oz moaned, grabbing her to hug, rubbing against her softer body. "How about you?"
"Yeah, I could have thoughts," she admitted, turning her head to kiss his nose. "Can we get clean first though? I really don't want to be dirty anymore. I hate being dirty."
"Cool. Getting clean can be called foreplay if you do it right." Oz pushed his hand against Xandra's, getting some of the plant extract back so he could rub it over the shivering arms. "Cold?"
"Nope, funny feeling," she said, frowning and looking down at the water. "Um, fishes," she whispered, pointing down at them.
Oz looked down, watching the dark red fish roam around their legs, smirking when he figured out what they looked like. "Tongue fishes," he noted.
"Not funny, those tongue things are rough and they're running in between..." She let out a high- pitched squeak. "Legs," she finished.
"So I can see." Oz rubbed his hand down her body, going down to wave it in the water to scare away the fishes. "There, better?" he asked. She shrugged. "Not all gone?" She shook her head. "Okay, where are they hiding." She gave him a look. "Oh, there." He took a deep breath and dunked himself, flicking at the little fish wiggling between her legs. He came up in front of her, giving her a kiss. "There, better?" he asked, pulling her back into his arms.
"Yeah, much. Was kinda intense. I thought the blower was fun," she sighed, sinking into his arms. "Clean, please?" she begged.
"Sure." Oz let her go, heading back to grab the pot and bring it over to sit on a rock jutting up out of the water near them, something he hadn't noticed before. He made a 'turn around' motion and she did, lifting up her wet hair so he could get her back. "Yeah, clean is good," he said, biting his lip as he ran his hands all over the smooth skin.
Xander sank into the warm arms, letting Oz wrap himself around her to keep the breeze coming through the trunk off her. "Warm," she sighed as she nuzzled his chest.
"Usually. Want to switch places?"
"Nope. I'm comfy." She smiled up at him from her position on his chest. She put her head back down and closed her eyes, ignoring the scratching sound she could hear from around them.
"Ants?" Oz suggested.
Oz waited, blinking in surprise as he felt a pair of little legs walking on his side. "Definitely ants," he noted. Then he jumped because something started to buzz on his stomach. "Xandra?" he asked.
"It's the ants," she said, holding one up so he could look at it. "Toy ants."
Oz snorted and removed the six-inch bug to the mouth of the tree. "I don't think we need dildo ants. Sorry."
Oz closed his eyes, heading back into his dreams, nice ones of him and Xandra and her wearing the saddle for a change. He jumped as he felt something butting against his naked body, trying to find entrance. He opened his eyes and looked down, finding Xandra with her eyes squeezed shut and moaning lightly. "They getting you too?" he asked. He shifted so there was less chance of his body being entered by the bug.
She whimpered and nodded, clutching his hands. "Good, but really strange," she squeaked. "One's moving and one's not. It's just vibrating."
"Uh-huh." He looked down her back and freed one of his hands so he could reach under the see- through covering she wore to try and remove the bugs. He managed to stop another from going in, but he couldn't reach the ones already in there. He sat up, pushing her onto her back, giving her a small kiss as he went down to remove them for her, accidentally opening himself to their little problems. He groaned as he felt one of them nudging him again, reaching back to flick it away. "Not going in that direction," he told it as he pushed it aside. She smiled up at him and spread her legs. "Gonna let me do this?"
"Please? It's kinda weird to think of what's going on as ants, ya know?"
He nodded so she relaxed, letting his fingers in to grab the little creatures and make them go away. He looked into her eyes as he reached his two fingers into her body, grabbing the ant he could feel and withdrawing it slowly, almost teasing her with it.
She smiled at him as it left her body, shivering as he touched her hole with it again. "Oz, please not with the ants?"
"Sure, babe." He tossed that ant out of the tree and saw her squirming. "How did it get in the other way?"
"It was wet and kinda slimy," Xandra said with a shrug. "I'm guessing that's how it's done."
Oz nodded. "Usually." He reached back and took hold of the ant trying to get into him, tossing it away without looking at it. "Maybe we should have camped somewhere else tonight." He put his head down on her chest as he reached a finger inside, searing for the ant's back legs, pulling it out by them. "There," he whispered, kissing the breast he was lying on. "All gone."
She ran her fingers through his hair. "Want to nap there? It feels really nice."
"I could do that," he said with a yawn. "You sure?"
"Yeah, Oz, go ahead and nap. I'm sure the ants won't come back again tonight. You scared them all off." She kissed her fingers and placed them on his forehead. "Thank you. Good night."
"Sweet dreams," Oz murmured, going back to sleep.
Xandra woke up and groaned, stretching her arms up above her head. She 'eep'ed as she saw the eyes staring at them through the trunk. "Willow!" She heard a snicker so crawled out to meet the horse of the day. "You're way early. We have to go rinse off. We were attacked by ants last night." The filly made a snickering noise. "Oh, no. You read?" She got a nod and shook her head, going back into the tree to get Oz up. "Oz! Will's back. She's the horse today."
"As long as it's not me." He shifted uncomfortably. "More ants," he groaned sitting up. "Want to get it out for me while I do yours?" He saw her glance out of their hole and shook his head. "She probably already knows." Her blush confirmed his guess. "See, no big. She'll understand."
Xandra turned so she was facing Oz's legs, reaching her hand down between his legs hesitantly. "You sure you want me to do this?"
"Just don't scratch me," Oz warned as he casually reached into her body to remove the ant, tossing it at the velvety nose that was trying to watch them. "Out or we're sticking some of them in you," he warned Willow. She backed away, letting him get back to what he was doing. He made sure all the ants were gone by sticking two fingers into her vagina, stroking in and out, gently teasing her. She glared at him, sticking one finger in to grab the ants out of his body too. "Just be gentle," he murmured. "I'm still kinda new to this stuff." He stiffened as he felt her scratch him. "Watch the nails."
"Sorry, I'm trying." She removed the ant and tossed it away, looking down at the hole she had just been in. "What was that?"
"The little thing in there that."
"Oh, that's the prostate." He shrugged. "Feels kinda good. Wanna explore and learn?" She blushed again so he pulled her up with his free hand to give her a kiss. "Are you still gonna do that when I make sure you're not a maiden?" he whispered against her lips. She nodded, giving him a big-eyed innocent look. "Then I guess I'm gonna have to get used to you blushing." He pushed her back gently, getting both of them up and out into the clearing. "Um, clothes?" he asked, looking at her barely covered body, trying hard to conceal his reaction to her body showing so well behind the thin material.
"She said I could have something clean to wear today." She looked around, and when she didn't see anything, she headed back down to the river, looking on the bush she had found the see- through robe on. There she found a pair of panties. "Um, Oz," she called. "Were these here last night?" she asked as she walked back through the trees to the camping spot, the panties dangling on her finger.
"Nope." He shrugged and turned back into the labrador, giving her a doggy grin. "Put 'em on," he barked.
Xandra turned her back to them, pulling on the thin pair of skin-colored panties before going over and mounting Willow's back. "Okay, we'll keep heading to the plains. Which way?" Oz started running and she shrugged. "Follow him."
Willow trotted after the dog, her bridle jingling, the new bells on it twinkling in the weak forest light.
Xandra leaned against Willow's side, letting her have a rest to graze. She started to walk over to where Oz was napping in the sun, but fell in a hole. She landed with a thump, hitting her head.
"Xandra?" Oz called down. "You okay?"
"No!" She sat up, looking around. There was just enough light from above to show her that the sides of the cave were made of glass. Even the floor was made of glass. She carefully stood up, looking at the mirrors surrounding her. "I can't climb up," she called. "It's all mirrors." She considered the body the mirrors were showing her. "And I'm cute!" The weak light from above caught her grin.
Oz groaned. "I could have told you that." He stuck his head down the hole, looking around. "Can you jump a few feet?"
"Not without falling," she said, pointing at the slick surface. "At least I don't have to worry about shoes." She turned to look at her back's reflection. "Hmm, big butted."
"No you're not," Oz sighed. "Want to try and jump?"
Xandra shook her head. "Oz, when you look in a mirror like I am, shouldn't you see your back as well? I'm not getting that sort of reflection." She looked up. "I'm only getting one image a mirror. Isn't that wrong?"
"Very," Oz said thoughtfully, looking at the mirrors. "Run a hand along them and let's see what's going on. Maybe your clothes are hidden behind one of them."
Xandra walked over to the mirror panel in front of her. "But I'm starting to like this dress. And you go bug-eyed when you look at me."
"That's because I can see all of you. And it's an attractive wrapping over you, but I think you'll want something more substantial soon."
"Maybe," she agreed, running a hand along the wall. "Solid, but still only one ...." Her voice trailed off as the image changed, showing her one of herself with her head thrown back and her mouth open in a silent scream. "Gee, I hope that's not in pain."
"Hold on. Let me come down too."
"No. I think I have to figure this out."
"Just because you're a woman now it doesn't mean you have to be stubborn." She glared at him and Willow changed back to glare at him too. "Sorry!" He pulled his head back up. "Tell me when you have it figured out."
"'Kay!" She smiled up at the hole. "Besides, do you really want to watch me do some of these things?"
Oz stuck his head back down the hole, looking at the mirror she was standing in front of. "Yeah, but I'd prefer it in person." He pulled his head back up. "Yell if you need help, I'm sitting right here."
"Thanks." Xandra went back to watching herself get off, smiling at the image. "Okay, so I'm pretty cute when I do that too, even if I do open my mouth a little wide. So?" The mirror changed, showing her sleeping on top of Oz. "Yeah, and that's last night. Again with the so?" The mirror changed again, showing her herself as she stood, including the part that was actually covered. The reflection from the floor was shining up now and apparently the mirror could see through her panties. She looked down at herself, then back at the mirror. "Okay. And I'm supposed to guess now?" The pictures faded. "Okay, a choice?" Two of the mirrors lit up with scenes of her getting it from someone.
She sat on the floor, considering the pictures that had been there. "Okay. So I can get it or I can't," she started. Another mirror lit up. "But which way is better on this mission?" They all went blank. "As a virgin I fantasized more, but afterwards, I knew what to expect so they were more vivid." One mirror lit up behind her. "So the question becomes does Fantasia need more vivid ones or just more fantasies?" Everything went dark around her. "Not the question?" A single light glowed from around her neck. "Oh, hey, you're awake again." She touched the part of the heavy band near her left shoulder. "What do you mean this time? You were a map last time..." She smiled, shifting the necklace so she could look at the section in the nearest mirror. "Hmm, we need to go there?" One mirror lit up. "And I have to make the decision there?" Another lit up. "About whether or not to do it while we're here?" They all went dark. "Okay, or not." A mirror lit up. "What do I need to consider here? All the pictures are of me in heat. All of them show me enjoying it, which I guess I probably will when it happens." A few more lit up. "Do I need to find a proper place and time?" Another mirror lit up, making three-quarters of the room lit now. "Okay. So I'm suddenly having this romantic notion?" One of the mirrors went dark and the other started to flicker. "I need to know what it's like but I shouldn't do it now?" All the mirrors went bright, so bright that she had to close her eyes against it. When she opened them again, she found herself sitting across from Oz, who was nibbling on a mushroom. "Okay. So the mirrors said I have to know what it feels like but I can't do it yet."
He groaned. "Sex?" She nodded. "How do you propose to do that?"
"Not real sure," she said softly, showing off the necklace piece that had glowed. "But this one got bright and shiny for a few minutes."
Oz leaned closer, staring at the map. "I wonder what the jewel's for?"
"Maybe we should head there," Willow suggested from her grazing. "How far off course would we have to go?"
Oz scooted closer, tracing the map with the tip of his mushroom. "Maybe a day at most." He looked up into the soft brown eyes. "That okay with you?"
"Nothing happens here without a reason," Xandra reminded him. "I think we should go." She looked over at her horse. "You staying?"
"As far as I can tell. I'm not sleepy." Willow wandered over so she could mount. "Come on, let's head."
Oz popped the last piece of his lunch into his mouth and changed as he chewed, trotting off toward a tree to mark it. "This isn't so bad," he admitted. "A lot better than being the horse."
"Nope, you'll have to take it back sometime," Willow told him. "I have a test in two days. Or at least I did when I came here."
"Bummer," Oz sighed, taking off at an easy lope, heading for where he thought they were going.
Giles put down his book as the outer library doors opened, going out to meet whomever was walking through the door. "Yes, Principal, may I help you?"
"There seems to be a rash of absences from the," he shuddered, "kids who help you. Would you like to explain that?"
"Yes, I believe they're taking an educational field trip for a few days to LA. I thought I had sent in a note about it." He looked around the checkout desk, his mind spinning as he tried to make up an excuse. "I'll just write another one and bring it to you this afternoon before I leave, how's that?"
"Fine," Snyder grumbled. "Take all the fun out of it." He stomped out of the library, leaving Giles alone.
He went back to his book, putting his feet up on the desk. Maybe she'd find an answer soon and he wouldn't have to lie to the principal.
Oz looked at the stone obelisk they had ended up in front of then looked over his shoulder at Xandra. "Here?" he asked.
"Sure, why not?" she said cheerfully, sliding off Willow's back, watching as she disappeared. "On our own again," she mock-sighed, coming over to hug Oz. "Can we go inside?"
"There's an inside?"
"There should be. Why else are we here?" Xandra walked up to the monument, touching the smooth sides, and promptly grabbed her head as images assaulted her. "Or not," she groaned, sitting down, careful not to rest against the thing.
Oz walked over, sitting beside her. He touched the stone but nothing happened to him. "Let me guess, you needed to be taught some things?"
"Yeah. How'd you know?"
"Because I listened while you were talking to the mirrors," he said dryly. He rubbed the back of her neck, soothing the tension out of her. "Feel better?"
"A little," she admitted, leaning into his body so he could do more. "Can we keep doing this?"
"Sure. Wanna try it again and see if you need to know anything else?"
Xandra shuddered but did as he suggested, grimacing at the images flooding her mind this time. "Eww. I'd never do that stuff."
"Ah, kinks. Apparently you have to know and understand what they're doing to help the land." Oz pulled her in for a hug and a quick kiss. "Think we're ready to go on?"
"Can I rest for a few more minutes?" she asked pitifully. "We don't exactly have tylenol."
"Such a princess."
Willow walked into the library as Giles started to disappear. "I guess we're taking turns."
"There were only three books," he pointed out as he faded. He came to in the clearing, kneeling beside Xandra's napping form. "Oz," he said softly, brushing the blue hair off the damp forehead. "Up and at 'em. Time to be going again."
"You be the horse."
"Of course I will, if that's what happens. I happen to like it when she rides on me. Xandra's got quite the natural seat."
"Thanks, I think my butt's cute too," Xandra said as she opened her eyes.
"I meant how you ride." He saw the small pout starting to clarified. "Though I do think that you happen to have a gorgeous rear also." He stood up, holding out a hand. "Come, dear, we need to get you to the plains." She let herself be pulled up and Giles turned into his horse-self, waiting until she had mounted to say anything to her. "Xandra, love, don't take this the wrong way, but could you please turn into a woman that's not like Cordelia?"
She frowned. "I'm not."
"Yes, I'm afraid you are. You're pouting horribly now when things don't go your way."
"Hey, I'm doing the best I can here." She slid down, looking at Oz and at Giles. "I've only been doing this now for a few days. Pouting seems to be the thing to do. I'm *not* modeling myself on my girlfriend. Let's get that straight now. I'm not her, and I won't ever be her. *I* know that the world's not there for me to play with and toss aside. See, big difference." She held her arms apart. "Don't *ever* accuse me of that again." She turned and walked off, leaving the two men alone.
"Well, I bollixed that one up," Giles sighed, looking at Oz.
"Maybe. You had a point though. How do we react to that?"
"I'd say that we shouldn't, but I know how difficult it is to ignore something like a pouting woman." He shook his head, adjusting his mane. "I'll apologize when we catch up to her."
Oz nodded, starting through the woods after her. "Xandra?" he called when they didn't find her sitting and waiting on them. He turned back into his dog form, sniffing out her trail to follow her. He barked to bring Giles after him, jogging after the very pissed smelling woman. They found Xandra stomping through the woods a few minutes later. Oz tripped her up and sat on her stomach, leaning down to lick her face. "Sorry."
"No, you're not." She pushed him off. "You're heavy."
Oz changed back, pulling her so she was sitting up. "Yeah, we are. Both of us. We didn't mean to insult you, just to let you know what you were doing." He reached over, brushing a leaf out of her waist-length hair. "We didn't mean to hurt you."
"But I'm not her!"
"No, you're not," Giles said as he walked over to them, "but you have been acting like her on occasion. You've been pouting when you don't get your way immediately. Actually, you've been pouting a lot these last few days from what I've read." He sat down on her other side, brushing a finger down her cheek. "I'm sorry I upset you, but it had to be said."
"But I'm not doing it on purpose."
"We know, Xandra, we know," Giles soothed. "We simply needed to bring this to your attention." He gave her a small smile. "Is that a better explanation?" She nodded, relaxing. "Good. Would you like to continue to rest for a few more minutes?"
"Yeah, I think I could use a rest," she sighed, looking down at her lap. "I'm sorry, guys, I didn't mean to pout at you, or to make you uncomfy. I'm really not doing it on purpose."
"Hey, it's a standard weapon of women everywhere," Oz told her. "It's okay. Just learn how to use different levels of pout." He lifted her chin so he could look into her eyes. "You have some seriously dangerous eyes when you pout. You need to learn how to give out levels of pout and puppy-eyes."
Xandra grinned. "Maybe. I'll practice later."
"After we're gone," Giles suggested. "Now then, we need to go to the plains I believe." He stood up, changing back into the horse. "Let's get on with that. Oz, I do think I could carry you also for a bit."
"Nah, I like the running." Oz changed back into his dog form, grinning at Xandra. "Come on, nymph. Let's go so we can all go home."
Xandra looked at her men. "Home seems so *unreal* right now. It's like here is the real world and there is the fantasy land."
Giles snorted. "Not for some of us. Running into Principal Snyder this morning cured me of that." She stared at him. "I need an excuse, love. He's trying to suspend you all for skipping. I told him you were on an educational field trip."
"Cross-cultural learning trip," Oz barked.
"Yeah. We were invited to take part in a cultural ritual, something very long but very solemn," Xandra said. "I'm sure Wills will find something out."
"I'd hope so, especially since she was reading the story too." Giles moved forward. "Get on, love. Let's go."
Xandra hopped up onto his back, grinning down at Oz as she straddled Giles' back. "You sure you don't want to be the horse?"
Oz nodded and took off. "Yup. Unless you take off the panties when you ride."
Giles groaned. "That wouldn't feel good at all." He followed Oz, heading down to where they needed to be.
Willow put down the book and logged onto the internet, searching for her part of their excuse. She looked up as someone knocked on the door. "Hi, Mr. Giles is out to lunch, can I help you?" she asked the Chemistry teacher.
"I believe he was holding a book for me," he said, looking around the room. He grabbed one off the shelf, smiling at her. "This is it. Do I need to check it out?"
"Nah. I'll just tell him you came for it." She waved as he left her alone, then went back to desperately searching for their excuse.
Giles looked up from their campfire as Willow appeared. "Ah, you're back."
"Yup, and our excuse is sitting on Snyder's desk." She plopped down next to him. "How long before we reach the plains?"
Oz pointed behind him. "Early. We're in the scrub trees." He looked over at Xandra, who was inspecting her hands. "Dry?"
"No, just different." She looked up. "We're camping outside tonight. Which side do you want?"
"I'll sleep next to you," Willow said, glancing at the men. "I think it'd be best."
Oz sighed and shifted away from Xandra. "Yeah, I guess." He tossed a few pieces of twig onto the fire. "Ready for sleep?"
"I could nap," Giles agreed. He nodded at their cleared spot, then looked at Xandra. "Do you girls want to lie down first?"
"Yeah, that'd be good," Willow said, pulling Xandra up to bring over to their spot. She cuddled up behind the shapely body, ignoring the stirrings of her own. "Happy sleeps, Xander."
"You too, Wills," Xandra sighed, looking at the men next to the fire, giving them a small smile. "We'll be home tomorrow."
Oz nodded. "Yeah, we will. Then things'll have to be decided." He looked over at Giles, who looked sad. "I wouldn't worry about it," he said softly. "Xander will chose whatever makes him feel best at home."
"I can only hope so." Giles stood up and walked over, lying on Xandra's free side, wrapping an arm around her waist. "Sleep, Xandra. We'll be here."
Oz made the fire safe for the night and went over to lie next to them, cuddling up to Giles' back to give him some comfort.
Giles stopped Willow next to a large rock burrow, looking at it. He looked over his shoulder, waiting on Xandra to dismount and look at it. "Is this it?" he asked her.
"Could be," she said, knocking.
A little man opened the door, squinting at them. "Yeah?"
"Hi, I need to check the dream interface, I was sent out to do it?" She held up her necklace. "May we come in?"
"How'd ya know it was here?" he grumped, opening the door wider. "The horses have to stay."
"Not if we change back," Willow said, grunting in frustration when she didn't. "Hey! I wanted to see it too." She started to fade out. "But I'm not ready to go home yet!"
"You're not," the little man said, waving. "You're going to go play. It's your reward for helping." He looked at Oz, who had changed back. "Handy trick."
"Thanks, but I don't have control over it." He followed Xandra in, rubbing her lower back through the nearly clear robe she wore. "I want a saddle," he told Giles. "Or you'll be the horse on the way back." They were led into a small, low-ceiling room and made to stand in front of a large lever with small writing.
Xandra leaned over, squinting at it. "It's set too low." She reached out for it but the little man slapped her hand. "It is."
"That's what the lady and the statue told me to set it at," he told her gruffly. "I can't just change it, it'll destroy the land."
"You mean like the violence rips are," Giles said dryly. He looked at the words, shaking his head and taking off his glasses. "Here, try these."
The little man put them on, then growled. "The lever's slipped," he complained, pulling it down to a lower notch. "There, that should fix a lot of it." He looked around at them. "Hey, I never knew Orin looked like that," he said, leaning closer to Xandra's chest. "Pretty work."
"Thanks," she said, blushing. She backed into Oz's body, smiling at the little man. "So now everything's fine again? No more violence rips?"
"No, there shouldn't be. I set it back where it's supposed to go." He scratched his head. "Guess I should turn the two of them in." He leered at Xandra again. "You're a pretty one."
"Thanks," Xandra said with a blush, "but I'm taken." She clutched Oz's hand. "We'd better go and leave you to your duty. Thank you for checking this." She turned and walked outside, taking deep breaths.
"She's claustrophobic," Oz told him in explanation, heading out after her. "You okay?"
"Fine," she sighed, leaning against him. She looked up as Giles walked out. "Sorry, low ceilings and things."
"That's okay, I understand." He looked around the area they were standing in, then shrugged. "I don't see anymore rips."
"Me either," Xandra admitted, looking down at her new body. "Guess we should go home, huh?"
"Maybe we have some time," Oz said, nibbling on her neck. "Let's go find a camping spot." They walked into the grass, fading out slowly as they headed into the hip-deep grass.
Oz looked down at his body in the library with a grimace. "Hate when that happens." He looked over at Giles, who had just jumped up when he felt the chair move. "Oh, Buffy," he said blandly. "Nice nap?"
"Yeah, how about you?" she yawned, standing up. She looked at Giles. "Heavy butt." She waved and walked out. "Glad to be back? Good. Later."
Giles gave Oz a grim look. "Do you feel like you were just teased for the last few weeks?"
"Days, but otherwise yeah." He relaxed in the chair, crossing his arms behind his head. "You going to get him back?"
"It would be most inappropriate for us to have something back here," Giles said hesitantly. "He may not even want to continue where we left off now that we're back and everything is normal." He sat back down, cradling his head in his hands. "I have no idea what I even want, much less what he wants."
Xander woke up in his room, smiling at his ceiling. "Guess we're just going to have to make up for lost time," he told himself. He jumped as someone tapped on his door. "Yeah?"
His mother leaned in the door. "Kid, you've got a visitor." She closed the door again and he shook his head.
"It would be nice if they remembered my name once in a while," Xander told the door as he stood up. "Or even remembered that I exist most of the time. They always look way shocked when I walk in, like they don't recognize me." He opened the door to find Willow there, waving her inside. "What's up?"
"I found the most *amazing* place," she crowed, sitting down on the bed. "And a really pretty woman there too. Long dark hair, pale, creamy skin. She was just *great*! She even taught me lots about the stars and how to talk to them." She flopped back down on his bed, staring at his neck. "Where'd you get that?" she asked, pointing at the area.
Xander looked down, mouth falling open as he saw the necklace still around his neck. "It was given to me there," he told her, sitting beside her on the bed, pulling it out to look at it.
"So, are you going to start doing the whole funny cross-dressing thing?" Willow asked suddenly, sitting up to look at him. "I mean, you looked hot and all, but I'm not sure about you doing it here. There you had...attributes you don't here."
"I had breasts?" he suggested with a grin. "They make falsies, you told me that."
"Oh, they do, but they don't look very real. Or at least the ones I've seen." She shrugged, standing up. "If you do, I want to go shopping with you. No offense, but your sense of style sucks." She waved and hopped out the door, leaving him alone with his thoughts.
Xander grabbed his book, flipping until he found an unfamiliar section, reading it aloud. "And when he woke up, he found he still had Orin, and that now he had the power to fulfil his wildest fantasies, no matter which form he took to do so." He grinned, dropping the book. "Oh, yeah," he said, looking down at it. "We're going to have some fun, huh?" He lay there making plans for most the of night.
Xander tapped Buffy on the shoulder. "Can I have some help?" he asked quietly, watching the teacher write on the board. She nodded. "Remember the book and what went on?" She grimaced but nodded again. "Remember what happened to me?"
She turned to look at him. "You need shopping advice?" she suggested, looking over his outfit of a Hawaiian shirt and jeans. "We'll go after school and we'll make you look cute." She patted his hand and turned back around as the teacher cleared her throat.
Xander grinned, writing the notes on his paper, looking down so Oz wouldn't catch his look.
Xander knocked on Giles' door, just a gentle tap. He smiled seductively as he walked in, not nearly as awkward now that he had practiced walking in his heels. He was now in a royal blue dress, long and smoothly flowing over his body. He shifted nervously as Giles just looked at him in shock, the glass in his fingers slipping and falling unnoticed as the older man grabbed him and kissed him, kicking the door shut. "I take it you like?" he asked huskily. Giles pulled back and nodded, licking his lips as he looked her over. "Then I have one last surprise for you." He pulled out the necklace, putting it on and taking off the wig before it could be knocked off by his curtain of hair. "Better?" she asked huskily as she changed back into Xandra.
"Much," Giles sighed, looking her over. "That dress looks much better now that you're filling it out." He flinched as the door was knocked on, answering it after getting a nod from her. "Buffy," he said in surprise. "Is there a problem?"
"Nope, just wanted to make sure Xander made it over here okay." She walked in, looking down at him. "Okay, this is odd," she said, touching his hair. "But you do look much better." She looked over the outfit. "Definitely much better now." She waved. "Have fun, I don't want to know. Drag is normal for me, you changing sexes isn't and I don't want to know what you're going to do," she told them as she walked out. "Sharing isn't a good in this case, Xander." She slammed the door shut and jogged away.
Giles leaned against the door, smiling at her. "My, you do fill that dress nicely," he suggested, sitting next to her. "How did you plan on doing this?"
"I'm getting used to being a woman. I'm going to work at a bar for now." She smiled slightly, looking down at her hands. "Most of the time I'll be in drag, occasionally I'll switch for you and Oz." She glanced back up to see the pleased smile. "We're okay?"
"Very all right. Though, Oz will have to wait to see you like this."
"He helped me get ready," she said, leaning into his warm body. "He even helped me find my job. I get to do drag while I work."
Giles laughed gently. "I'm sure you'll do well at it." He kissed her again. "Are you going to stay like that or not tonight?"
"I figure I'll do some switching back and forth. Oh, and Willow told me to tell you she was possessive. She's ready to fight us over Oz so he's making due with helping and looking."
"More for me then, isn't there," he said as he leaned in to kiss her again. "What about your girlfriend?"
"Cordy? We broke up months ago. No big there. She'd be mean to me if she found out though so let's not tell her."
"Indeed, this is a secret I'm going to cherish." He pulled her into his lap, kissing her hard, showing her all he couldn't when they were in Fantasia. He wasn't surprised when she changed back, he just simply moved his hands into the shorter hair and held on for dear life.