Disclaimer: I don't own BtVS, TSR, or any real intellectual property of note. This is just a fanfic, relax and enjoy the ride.
Typist notes: In which we begin yet another new story for your viewing pleasure. (dogbertcarroll is incapable of finishing one if you haven't noticed yet).
Willow tried to think of what to get Xander for his birthday. She had a ton of ideas, but unfortunately Xander's pride would prevent him from accepting anything too expensive and what she'd like to give him…
Willow blushed heavily and tried to force her thoughts back onto things she wouldn't need to tie Xander down to keep him from fleeing in a panic when offered.
Willow's eyes glazed over as she thought about tying Xander down and her hand crept toward her waistband, when a tapping at the window scared the hell out of her and made her jump to her feet.
“Let me in!” Buffy called from outside Willow's window.
Willow rushed over and quickly opened the window.
“Was I interrupting some deep thoughts? Should I come back in half an hour?” Buffy asked.
“No, I was just thinking about Xander,” Willow said.
“Then I probably should come back in half an hour,” Buffy teased playfully.
“BUFFY!” Willow blushed bright red. “It wasn't like that, I was just trying to think of what to give him for her birthday and then I thought about what I'd LIKE to give him, but he'd probably panic and run. So then I thought about tying him down...” Willow's voice trailed off.
“That is so totally like that,” Buffy argued. “Hell, after hearing that thought I wouldn't mind a little time to… reflect,” she teased.
Willow collapsed onto her bed. “I just wish he liked me as much as he liked you.”
Buffy shook her head, recalling Xander's threat to kill her if Willow was hurt because of her stupidity. “He risks his life to save mine, but he'd cut his own throat to save yours.”
“Yeah, really. I'm just safer to lust after, because if we dated and it all fell apart it’s no big loss, but losing you would kill him.”
“Take me to bed or lose me forever!” Willow said suddenly, pretending she was talking to Xander.
“Okay,” Buffy said, “but I have to warn you it’s my first time.”
Willow sputtered as Buffy snickered. “You are in a good mood, things go well with Angel?” she asked, once they'd recovered.
“They went wonderfully, thank you,” Buffy beamed, “but we aren't here to talk about my love life, which is certainly looking up, we're here to solve your love life problems.”
“Actually, at the moment I'm trying to think of a gift for Xander that he'll accept.”
“Accept?” Buffy asked, obviously confused at Willow's frustration.
“Xander's family isn't exactly poor, but they're not well off either, so Xander can be a little touchy when it comes to expensive gifts,” Willow explained.
“I know this one!” Buffy exclaimed. “I didn't solve the problem, but one of the girls I was in cheerleading with did. See, she was dating a football player that was really talented, but came from the wrong side of the tracks so she'd go to a pawn shop, since they sell expensive things cheap and they usually had just enough wear to show they weren't new. It totally sidestepped the cost question and let her get him nice things with no complaints.”
“Yep,” Buffy agreed while climbing back out the window. “So tomorrow we hit the stores, but for now go back to thinking about Xander while I go back home and think of Angel.”
Willow grinned. “I think I'll take you up on that, but wait, why did you come by?”
“I wanted to share my good mood and brag about my date, both of which I've done now. See you in school!”
Buffy flipped from the roof to the ground as Willow closed the window.
A block later she paused and glanced back a bit curiously at Willow's window. Giving into temptation she leapt up and grabbed the branch of an oak overhanging the sidewalk and used her much vaunted Slayer abilities to imitate a squirrel as she scurried up the tree high enough to peek in Willow's window.
Buffy hopped back down a few seconds later smirking, apparently a tied down Xander was a very inspiring thought.
“Hey Buffster,” Xander greeted her less than a minute later as she continued home.
“Hey Xand, why are you out so late?”
“Thought I'd peek in on Willow and try to convince her not to break the bank on my present this year.”
“I doubt she's that bad,” Buffy said rolling her eyes.
“I'm serious,” Xander said, “last year she spent over 200 dollars getting me a dress outfit. Willow's my friend, but we both know how insecure she is and she seems to think she needs to buy me expensive gifts when really her being my friend is the best gift I've ever gotten and the only one I really need.”
“Well we found a way to fix that already,” Buffy said, “pawnshops allow us to get expensive things cheap so both sides are happy.”
“That… works,” Xander admitted after a second of thought.
“Yep, we won’t spend a lot of money, but we'll still get you something that would cost a lot if new,” Buffy said smugly. “It'll take a bit of looking to find the right shop, but for girls that's half the fun.”
“Willow's not a girl, she's Willow,” Xander said with a grin. “So try not to drive her too crazy, dragging her to all the shops.”
Buffy had been planning on telling Xander that Willow had already gone to bed, but his comment made her think of how to correct his little misconception. “Well, have fun at Willow's, but be sure to wave and get her attention instead of knocking. I tapped on the glass and almost made her spill her juice.”
“Will do, later Buff,” Xander called, continuing down the block.
“Hmmm,” Willow said, examining a leather jacket.
“Bad memories,” Buffy said, “hyena.”
“I'd forgotten about that,” Willow replied. “I usually think of it as the anti-Xander, because it was the exact opposite of Xander in all that mattered. Do you think if he'd been possessed by a wolf we'd have noticed the difference so soon?”
“No, probably not,” Buffy said after a moment of thought, “well, at least not until something threatened you and he ripped off its arm and beat it to death with it, that'd be kind of a giveaway.”
Willow picked up a box and blew the dust off it. “Wow, this is one seriously old board game.”
“Does Xander collect old board games?” Buffy asked curiously.
“No, but he loves roleplaying games, especially old ones and ones he hasn't seen before and this looks like all three,” Willow said with a grin.
“Roleplaying games?” Buffy asked, “Like when you play the innocent housewife and he plays the horny burglar?”
“Ummm, no,” Willow said, an image of Xander wearing just a tiny burglar mask while she was dressed in only an apron popping into her head with both of them stopping and rolling dice every couple of minutes.
“Then what kind of roleplaying games are we talking about here?”
“Ones with dice and character sheets where you fight dragons and orcs and loot their corpses. Don't tell me you've never heard of Dungeons and Dragons?”
“Oh, yeah I've heard about it. As a cheerleader it was social death to play, but as a Slayer I can probably get away with playing a couple of hands. How about we play the game at Xander's birthday party, since he's into that sort of thing?”
“Sounds like fun,” Willow agreed. “Now I need to find something he'll actually wear.”
“A necklace or a ring, maybe a hat,” Willow said absently. “I always get him something to wear, it’s tradition. It doesn't have to be a serious gift, it can be completely silly as long as it’s wearable. I once got him a rainbow afro wig and told him I scalped a clown to make it for him. He wore it all weekend.”
Buffy laughed. “I say we get him a serious Indiana Jones type hat with matching bullwhip.”
Willow grinned. “He'll love it.”
“Okay, everyone get down he's coming this way!” Buffy ordered.
“I'm not sure jumping out and yelling surprise right here is a good idea,” Giles said dryly.
“It’s a bright and cheerful Saturday afternoon, not the middle of the night!” Buffy countered.
“Fair point,” Giles admitted, ducking behind the counter just before Xander opened the library door.
“Hello everyone hiding, I already know a big surprise party is planned and normally I pretend to be surprised, but I'm not so sure the whole jumping and yelling bit should be done at these exact coordinates, if you catch my drift.”
“But I wanted to yell surprise!” Buffy whined.
Xander chuckled. “I think Sunnydale provides enough things jumping out and scaring us don't you?” he countered.
“But it’s never me doing it,” Buffy complained, giving him the puppy dog eye treatment.
“Fine, tonight while we prowl around we'll jump out and yell surprise at all the vamps,” Xander said.
“We can wear our party hats and blow noisemakers,” Willow said, getting into the swing of things.
“Imagine the looks on their faces,” Xander said with an evil grin that Buffy mirrored.
“Happy Birthday Xander,” Giles said abruptly. “I wish I could stay, but I have the sudden urge to beat my head against a wall, so I believe I shall call it a day.”
“If you leave, I'm going to make your character a warhorse instead of a PC!” Willow warned him.
“I think I'll chance it,” Giles said. “Xander, I'll give you my gift when the girls aren't around. I learned quite a few things that I really wish I'd known when I was your age, but the stories are more than a little embarrassing.”
“Thanks Giles,” Xander said warmly, recognizing what Giles was actually offering; the wisdom and advice he'd normally get from an older brother, “I really appreciate that.”
“I'm privileged to be the one to do so,” Giles said, “enjoy your party.”
“Okay, what are we playing?” Xander asked as soon as Giles had left.
“Birthday wish and presents first mister!” Willow ordered firmly, disappearing into Giles' office and returning with a chocolate cake with a single candle on it a moment later.
It was a small pink and blue candle that was half used up already but Xander's face lit up when he saw it.
Willow had barely gotten it lit before Xander had leaned forward and blown it, and the match she was holding, out.
Willow pulled the candle out and sucked the frosting off the base before returning it to an old taped up box that held two untouched candles like she was performing a sacred ritual.
Buffy didn't ask what that was about, recognizing that it was a private moment and briefly wondered if anyone else had ever seen it except for the seldom mentioned Jesse.
“So, what did you wish for?” Willow asked, sounding a lot younger than she actually was.
“I wished that something really bad would happen to you,” Xander replied cheerfully the same way.
“You wished something bad would happen to me?!” Willow squeaked in mock horror.
“Yep, and now I told you what my wish was, so it can't come true,” Xander declared smugly and Buffy had to blink dust out of her eyes but for an instant she could swear that for an instant her two friends looked like they belonged in junior high.
“Presents!” Willow exulted, handing Xander a pair of packages.
Xander peeled the wrapping paper off the first package, revealing the game. “Whoa!”
“Got it for a song,” Willow said smugly.
“Cool, thanks Will!” Xander beamed at her.
“Now open the other one!” Willow ordered excitedly, bouncing a bit.
Xander opened the other present and pulled out the hat. If he didn't know better he'd have sworn it was a prop from Indiana Jones. The bullwhip that came with it was a surprise, but it made him laugh.
“So do you like it?” Willow asked.
“I love it,” Xander replied, putting on the hat.
Willow beamed. “And now, on to the game!”
Xander opened the box and unfolded the large felt play mat, before taking out several books and a handful of metal pieces, that he quickly separated into two piles.
“Looks like your typical D&D setup,” Willow said while reading through the player's manual, “except they have a lot more races and the merit and disability system covers nearly everything.”
“Really?” Xander asked curiously as Willow passed him the book.
Buffy listened as Xander read off professions and classes, absently building small metal buildings out of one of the piles.
“Okay, everyone decide what you want to be and then we'll hunt down a game master,” Xander said.
“Already called Jonathan, he'll be here shortly,” Willow said.
“Game master?” Buffy asked curiously.
“Remember the short guy in a cage in Ms. French's basement? He's a damn good GM. The GM or game master is the one who decides when things happen in the game. A good GM can make or break a game.”
“Minotaur fighter?” Willow asked, looking over Xander's character.
“A bit simple compared to an Alu-fiend Assassin.” He grinned.
“Well I'm making some changes!” Willow announced, snatching up Xander's character sheet while he grabbed hers.
“What are you two doing?” Buffy asked plaintively.
“To avoid playing the same old boring characters all the time, if one of us tries to play the same character again, the other is allowed to make changes,” Willow said.
“Were-bull?” Xander asked peeking at his sheet.
“Yeah, everyone will assume from your hybrid form that you're just a Minotaur and won't use silver weapons on you.”
“You don't usually play spellcasters,” Willow explained, “and a druid covers ranger and spellcaster pretty well.”
“True and since I'm a were I still have decent hit points and can still do serious damage in melee.”
“Yep, thought you'd like it. Now, what crime against nature have you subjected my character to?”
“Rather than the infernal assassin you were expecting, you are celestial, based off an anime I once saw. The cost was insanely high, so you're bound with a fairytale ending.”
“Fairytale ending?” Buffy asked.
“It means the only way to break the curse matches whatever fairytale the GM decides; true love's kiss, defeat the evil witch, kill the wolf etc,” Willow explained.
“Yep, and to counteract the whole hide in shadows and never get noticed vibe I made you a bard.”
Willow groaned. “Bards suck! They can do a little of everything but nothing very well.”
Xander laughed. “No playing a munchkin for you this time.”
“Like in the wizard of Oz?” Buffy asked.
“More like Napoleon,” Xander grinned as he explained, “the smallest people seem to feel the need to kick the most ass, so they abuse the rules to make characters that are unstoppable.”
“Then they should change the rules so I can't use them that way!” Willow declared with a smirk.
“For your profession in addition to class, I name thee spell researcher.”
“Not bad,” Willow said thoughtfully, “I can work with that. In that case, I name thee archaeologist.”
Xander grinned. “Something typically done in the wilds and should help with the dungeon delving.”
“Good, now someone help me!” Buffy ordered, tired of bouncing her view between her two friends, as they finished the changes to each others character sheets.
“Fighter,” Xander suggested, grabbing Buffy's character sheet, “it is her first time.”
“Cleric,” Willow replied, “we need a healer and it’s a good starting character.”
“What's a cleric?” Buffy asked.
“Holy warrior,” Xander replied, “not quite as good as a fighter in combat, but can heal people and make undead flee in terror.” He quickly filled in the basics on her character sheet.
“I like it,” Buffy said agreeably.
“Race?” Willow asked.
“Human,” Xander replied, “gives her a wider range of gods to call on even if she isn't particularly favored by any.”
“Works,” Willow agreed, “profession in addition to class?”
“Illusionist,” Xander grinned evilly as he wrote the details before passing the sheet to Willow.
“Dual class?” Willow asked.
“Nope, illusionist like a stage magician, think Harry Houdini,” Xander said, while Willow was filling out the sheet.
“Faking magic with skill in a world of myth,” Buffy said with a grin. “I like it!”
“Hey, they have figurines that fit our characters,” Buffy said, not noticing the way Xander and Willow's eyes widened.
She set the three figurines on the felt and the world dissolved into light.
“We're naked,” Buffy said, ignoring the silver bracelets Willow had on, as they in no way constituted clothing. Buffy was happy to note that not only was she taller with bigger breasts, but that she was a natural blonde now as well.
“Buying equipment is the last thing you do,” Xander said, his voice sounding a lot deeper coming from a towering cross between a man and a bull.
Buffy had to force her eyes away from Xander's crotch and buried idle thoughts on whether it was that big because of race or if Willow had added it as a foot note to his character sheet, literally.
“It’s that magic Hebrew board game all over again,” Xander said with a sigh.
“That wasn't a Hebrew board game!” Willow said firmly, her voice sounding like satin and smoke and her body looking like sin given human form. “Regardless of what you think the name sounded like we both agreed that was a hallucination.”
“Um, why aren't we panicking?” Buffy asked.
“Over the game or the naked?” Willow replied.
“We've played a magic board game before, or at least hallucinated we did,” Xander replied, “and after everything we've seen in the last year, being dropped into a forest, as characters we drew up, isn't all that freaky.”
“And the naked? And the me thinking this is way freaky even compared to Giles having demonic orgies and not being all that upset?” Buffy asked.
“These aren't our real bodies,” Willow said with a shrug, “do you really think I look this good naked in real life?”
Xander and Buffy turned to Willow and examined her naked form. “Yes.”
“Pretty much,” Buffy assured her.
“Oh yeah,” Xander agreed, before spinning around to try and hide his reaction.
“You've both seen me naked?!” Willow exclaimed.
“Accidentally got an eye full while coming to visit you,” Xander explained.
“Girls locker room,” Buffy reminded her, “you look like an older you, airbrushed a bit to remove freckles and such, you're still you … just more you.”
“I liked those freckles,” Xander muttered, still keeping his back to them.
“Okay, the game is keeping us calm then,” Willow declared since she hadn't passed out and was merely as red as her hair.
“So, what do we do now?” Buffy asked.
“Fashion clothes and weapons so we can find better dressed people to rob,” Xander replied easily, pulling up handfuls of the long native grass and showing unusual dexterity from his massive four fingered hands as he began to weave a kilt from it.
Buffy and Willow tried to imitate him with Buffy actually managing a fair attempt, Willow having too hard a time concentrating since her mind and eyes kept wandering toward Xander's new form.
Xander showed Buffy what she was doing wrong and they each managed a long shirt, Xander handing his to Willow, it clearly being her size.
“Without your holy symbol you can't cast spells, and without an instrument I'm in the same spot,” Willow sighed, now that they were semi-decent again.
“Actually I wrote down voice for instrument,” Xander said, “it fit the character I was thinking of. Instruments can enhance the effect, but your voice alone works magic.”
“So we just need a holy symbol for Buffy and we're in business then,” Willow said cheerfully.
“I don't suppose they have a create underwear spell do they? Because this shirt is seriously chafing my nipples,” Buffy said.
“Look for some flowers with large soft petals and I'll take care of it,” Xander promised.
“My nipples thank you,” Buffy said while looking around the clearing.
“Why aren't my nipples chafing?” Willow asked.
“Because I used a tighter weave and softer grasses,” Xander said.
“So the reason for my sore nipples is my own clumsiness?”
“Actually you did pretty well, we gave you the nimble fingers advantage so you'd learn things like that easily, but as a druid when I weave the plants work with me.”
“So you cheated to keep Willow's nipples safe!” Buffy declared.
“And as soon as we spot the appropriate flowers I'll be able to make the world safe for your nipples as well.”
“How about those?” Willow asked, pointing out a small patch of blue bell-like blossoms.
“Perfect!” Xander said, plucking a couple of blossoms before chanting, “Chafe no more, Buffy's nipples are sore, with a kiss of blue softness imbue.”
Buffy and Willow froze before shifting a bit.
“Okay, that felt like someone kissed my nipples, but the shirt feels really soft now,” Buffy said.
“Probably because I was thinking about your sore nipples and the old kiss it and make it better deal when I cast the spell,” Xander admitted, not mentioning the feedback he got from the spell.
“Well my nipples thank you, now we just need footwear.”
“Thankfully as you both are human sized the majority of things we run across will fit you,” Xander said.
“My feet are pretty small,” Buffy pointed out.
“The gods of D&D cast forth their powers and said; there shall be no masses of unworn gear, one size fits all actually will,” Willow said with a grin.
“Cool!” Buffy beamed. “Anyone know why I'm getting a tingling feeling coming from that direction?” she asked, pointing into the forest.
Xander and Willow exchanged glances and shrugged.
“Either great evil or good, the gods guide clerics to where they want them, so it’s either a menace we must face or a temple that will equip us, either way means proper clothes and weapons,” Willow explained.
“So is it a good tingle or a bad one?” Xander asked.
“It’s a good tingle, but not a happy one,” Buffy quickly answered.
“Does that mean good or evil?” Xander asked confused.
Willow shook her head, unable to believe Xander completely missed what Buffy was talking about. “Going in that direction is the will of the gods, but whether good or bad we'll know when we arrive.”
They started walking when Willow winced. “I forgot I have a one point disability; soft skin – it means I can't walk around barefoot or wear rough clothes.”
The three stopped.
“Then how can you wear the shirt Xander wove?” Buffy asked.
“Magic,” Xander explained. “I wove it with her in mind and imbued it with certain properties. It won’t last more than a day or so, but while it lasts it'll be as comfortable as cotton.”
“I don't suppose you can do shoes?” Buffy asked hopefully.
“Not as easily as shirts and it'd take a couple of days and tools we don't have,” Xander replied.
“You can make shoes?!”
“A druid can make whatever he needs to make living in the wilds both comfortable and pleasant from local materials,” Xander explained, “unfortunately that takes time, both to make the items and to make the tools to make the items.”
“How insistent is your tingling?” Willow asked Buffy.
“Then we probably have enough time to kit ourselves out with whatever essentials Xander can make,” Willow suggested.
Xander swept Willow off her feet and started walking, “Then the first thing we have to do is find some shelter.”
Buffy smiled as she watched Willow cuddle into Xander's chest. Apparently tricking Xander into peeping on Willow had done the trick, why Xander had barely even looked at Buffy when she was naked.
Buffy frowned. She had finally gotten the height and breast size she should have gotten from her mom, not to mention the hair color, and Xander had barely noticed. She comforted herself with the thought that her plan to get Xander and Willow together was working and a promise to stick a stake where the sun don't shine if Angel failed to appreciate her new upgrades.
“Let’s see what the locals say.” Xander whistled softly and a small brown bird swooped down to perch itself on one of his horns and sang to him, after a minute or two the bird flew off; occasionally circling back to make sure Xander was still following as it led them to a cave.
“What's that smell?” Buffy asked, covering her nose.
“Goblins,” Xander growled.
AN: Typing by Godogma!
AN2: Original Adventurers and Adversaries game design by Rockbane!