As First Meetings Go
Disclaimer: I do not own any of the recognizable characters. I receive no profits from this. It is just for fun.
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Feedback: Constructive Criticism desired.
Summary: Xander is getting married. PWP
AN: Thoughts are between asterisks - *How boring.*
AN: BTW: The ceremony for the marriage blessing in the previous chapter is my own creation and does not reflect any traditions of any tribe, clan, or group that I know of. I made it up specifically to get to the kinky sex, hence the PWP that was part of the summary.
*What am I letting myself in for?* he mused.
Sweat was running down his back and brow under the hot African sun. The exertion of running while carrying the unconscious and bleeding woman, in addition to his weapon’s bag, contributed significantly to his current excursion towards total dehydration.
However, since he still heard the angry shouts of the poachers behind him he couldn’t take the time to stop running let alone take a drink to replenish the water he was losing rapidly. The upside was that the shouts indicated his pursuers were having a difficult time spotting him and his companion.
He had lucked out that the edge of the forest had been so close. If he’d had to take off over the grassland, they’d both be dead by now.
His main worry was to shake their pursuers and then tend to the wounded woman. After that he’d concern himself with finding a river and drinking it dry. Crocodiles and all.
Suddenly his headlong dash through the trees came to an abrupt halt as he skidded to a stop just before toppling into a seven foot deep gully. Though it bore evidence of at least occasionally containing flowing water, at the moment it was dry.
Quickly scanning the obstacle he determined it was too wide to jump over and too deep to climb out while carrying the woman if he were to try and enter the gully. This left him two options: Run along side of the gully until he found a way across or enter the gully and run until he found a way to climb out. Entering the gully would help conceal him from his pursuers but would leave him trapped if they did spot him. Staying out of the gully gave him a bit more freedom of movement but left him easier to spot and could still leave him trapped against the gully itself.
He opted for the concealment provided by the gully. In addition he concluded that they would have to split their forces to determine which direction he went at least. That would mean he’d only need to deal with 2 or 3 of them if they managed to catch up to him. Much better odds than the 5 to 1 he would have faced had he tried to fight them directly instead of distracting them during his initial rescue of the white haired, dark skinned woman in the first place.
He was also heartened by the fact that the charm Willow had given him, in case his Sunnydale dating luck continued to follow him, had shown that all parties involved were human and not demons.
Of course if they hadn’t managed to disable his Range Rover during the initial rescue he wouldn’t have had to worry about having had to go to Plan B which was to take the honey and run.
*OK,* he mused. *That was lame even for me. Especially since said ‘honey’ had been and still was unconscious as well as bleeding from a gunshot wound to her chest. And boy would I like to be able to do more than just trying to press her wound tighter into my shoulder to slow the bleeding but that is going to have to wait till we’ve lost those guys.*
As carefully as possible with his burden, Xander slid down the side of the gully and took off towards his left once reaching the bottom, hoping the brush would at least partially hide his choice from his pursuers.
He’d managed to traverse about 200 yards when he hears a commotion back the way he’d came that indicated his pursuers had probably reached the gully. Doing his best to avoid making any noise that would allow them to know for certain which direction he’d gone in, he quickened his pace.
It was another hundred yards or so that Murphy decided Xander’s day wasn’t as stressful as it should be.
A tree from the embankment had fallen lengthwise into the gully and while not completely blocking it would make getting around it difficult if not impossible while he was carrying the woman. Still he had to try.
The tree still had most of its leaves still attached and the top of the tree was facing him so once he got around that he would be obscured from sight for a while if the poachers were following in the gully.
He had to go slow to keep the branches from knocking his burden from him and had just gotten them about midway into the foliage when a noise to the front and side caused him to stop moving entirely. The thick foliage obscured his vision of the embankment and the gully itself in both directions and he hoped it would do the same for the bad guys.
Carefully peering through the small gaps in the leaves, he saw two of the poachers on the embankment above and to the front of the tree that currently hid him and the woman. By their searching head movements, he concluded they didn’t know for certain where he was.
He also listened for any sign that any of the other three were nearby.
He momentarily considered trying to get to his crossbow and take out one of the poachers, but immediately discarded the idea as once fired he’d have no time to reload before the other poacher started shooting and bring the others running. He did, however, slowly move one hand closer to the weapon’s bag, should they do anything to indicate they knew for certain where he was. They didn’t seem to be the ‘take prisoners’ type so surrendering was out and he had no intention of just going quietly into that good night.
Nope, his only options for obeying Rule #1 was fight or flight and at the moment the ‘flight’ portion was limited to hiding.
Awareness once again occurred to her fogged mind. This time though there was no jostling to cause the pain in her breast to force her brain to shut down again to cope as it had done previously. The pain was still there of course. Being shot tended to hurt quite a bit for quite a while.
Her earlier snippets of consciousness had allowed her to determine that someone, male, had gotten her away from the poachers who shot her before they could finish her off. She knew the man wasn’t one of the poachers from his clothing. His running and the strength with which he held her injured breast into his body let her know that the poachers were chasing them and therefore he had not had time to dress her wound.
It was a testament to her training that she suppressed a moan upon becoming more lucid. The angry voices she heard, told her that the poachers were close by but had not spotted her or her rescuer even though they were not moving.
*Hiding,* her mind told her.
She opened her eyes to better access the situation and found it dire.
They were in the canopy of a downed tree in a depression. The poachers had the high ground and from their conversation were trying to decide who would come down and flush them out. She got the impression the men were certain they were hidden in the tree but didn’t want to waste ammunition just randomly shooting considering the cost to replace it.
She and her rescuer wouldn’t stand a chance if they were flushed out of the tree. And even if they weren’t, their odds of survival were still bleak.
Being quite familiar with the topography of the area, she finally recognized where they probably were and hit upon a desperate plan.
Her rescuer was focusing on the poachers and hadn’t noticed her wakeful state and there was no time to inform him what she was going to do anyway, so he did not notice when her eyes went pure white and sweat appeared on her brow that had nothing to do with the African heat. He also didn’t notice when she slumped back into unconsciousness a few moments later.
Thus she was not aware that her gambit had paid off.
One of the poachers was about to descend into the gully when there was a rumble that came from the direction they had come from. A rumble that grew steadily louder till it became a roar.
All eyes turned toward the sound and had the same reaction such that if they were cartoon characters would have manifested itself as eyes popping out of their heads and growing to ten times their size. Their lower jaws crashing to the ground would just add emphasis to this visual display of shock.
Xander barely had time to come to grips with what he was seeing before the wall of water in the gully smashed into the tree, him and the woman. Since he and the woman had less inertia than the tree they were quickly flushed out of the canopy and just as quickly washed away from the two poachers still on the bank.
Luckily they were under water and the poachers did not see them being washed away. Unluckily they were under water and that meant no air to breathe.
He, himself, had just barely enough time to take a breath before being engulfed by the rushing torrent. He doubted the woman was as fortunate.
It seemed to take forever to maneuver her from across his shoulders and into position with her back to his front where he could hold her with one arm and swim with the other.
By the time he breached the surface of the now raging stream, they were well beyond the view of the poachers.
As the flood was moving them faster than he could have run with his burden, he did his best to stay in the middle of the current.
Though bobbing up and down with the rushing water, he was able to determine that the woman was indeed still breathing, though still unconscious. The hold he had on her went under her arm and across her chest so he was able to maintain pressure on her wound. Hopefully, the water would wash away more germs than it might leave behind.
Eventually the current began to slow and Xander decided they needed to get out of the water before they lost anymore body heat to it.
It took a bit of doing but he finally managed to get them to the bank and only a few more minutes to fully extract them from the water filled gully.
Though quite tired from their ordeal, he only rested a moment or two before getting the First Aid kit from the weapon’s bag. Even if the poachers knew they were in the gully when the flood hit and were still chasing them, they were far enough behind that he could tend to the woman.
He laid her out on her back and raised her feet with the bag. He then did a quick check to verify that the chest wound was her only injury. This was made fairly easy due to the fact that she was wearing only an ankle-length wrap skirt and a bandeau top, along with a head band and sandals that were held to her feet by straps that wound around her calves.
The injury was in the area of her left breast and at first he thought she might have been shot twice since there were holes in the top below and above her breast. He cut the top off and slowly pulled the soaked cloth from her wound.
The bleeding seemed to be slow so there were no major arteries compromised. Her breathing did not seem to be labored or indicative of her lungs being damaged. No flecks of blood accompanied her exhalations. He had noticed there were no exit wounds to her back as he had laid her out but certainly being shot in the chest where she was would have injured at least one lung.
The puzzle was explained shortly after he examined the two wounds. Though a new puzzle replaced it.
The two wounds had been made by the same bullet which had entered her left breast on the lower left side and exiting out the upper right side of the breast after skimming along just above her ribs. The exit wound being quite nasty as the bullet had tumbled so it came out partially sideways. The damage was limited mostly to the fatty tissue that makes up a woman’s breast.
As he placed compresses on the wounds and bound them with the Ace bandage wraps from the kit, he tried to come up with some scenario where the woman could have received such a wound. Only three options presented themselves: The woman was lying on the ground on her back and the guy who shot her was firing prone; she did a limbo bend to duck under the bullet and didn’t fully make it; or she was hovering in the air above the shooter.
While he used a piece cut from her skirt to create a new bandeau top for her, he also checked Willow’s charm and verified the woman was not a demon, because the last two options would indicate powers beyond what a human like himself could do without magic.
*Maybe she’s a witch,* he mused once he was done restoring her modesty as best he could after completing his ‘necessary groping’ of her ample asset. He had only touched the breast that needed attention after all. Though he still might get slapped once she woke up.
AN – I make no claims to the paraphrased quote from Dylan Thomas.