Xander woke up with two red heads and a blonde in a room he scarcely recognized. “Holly, what happened to my room?” he asked plaintively before he realized he wasn't on the Red Dwarf in deep space as Dave was used to.
“Bob upgraded and expanded it a bit,” came Holly's voice from the watch sitting on the nightstand.
Xander blinked and came fully awake. “Holly?” he asked cautiously.
“You didn't turn back into a cheap costume prop with the majority of the items from Halloween did you?”
“Of course not, otherwise I'd never have been able to keep Willow's hologram running.”
“And you never thought to mention this before?”
“You never asked,” Holly replied.
“Oh,” Xander mused, “so, what's happened to my room?”
“Bob fixed it up last night while you were out – you probably would have noticed it last night but you were a bit distracted.”
“Naked girls have that effect on me,” Xander replied. “Who's Bob?”
“He's a scutter,” Holly replied. “Something went wrong with his programming so he spends a bit of time thinking he's a dog, so if you find your favorite pair of trainers gnawed on try not to mention it. He's a bit sensitive about his problem.”
“Scutters don't have teeth do they?” Xander asked confusedly, recalling that scutters simply resembled three fingered hands on mobile rectangular bases.
“I shouldn't think so, why?”
“No reason,” Xander replied, deciding not to think about it. “Have him build some more scutters when he has the chance.”
“I'll let him know when he's finished recharging,” Holly promised, “provided he's not out chasing cars again.”
“Thanks, I'm going back to sleep now.”
Buffy entered the library to find Giles examining several crystal balls and some books. “Hey guys, what’s up?”
“Hey Buffy,” both Willows and Xander chorused.
“Why is Harmony sleeping on top of a book case?” Buffy asked as she noticed the cat girl sprawled out atop one.
“It’s a cat thing,” Xander explained, “expect to see her up there a lot.”
“Okay,” Buffy said, deciding she didn't want to know the details.
The Willows were both watching a crystal ball and comparing what they saw to their laptops.
“It’s accurate as far as I can tell,” the Willow with the noticeably smaller chest said.
“It’s running faster than real time,” the second Willow said.
“What does that mean?”
“In a couple of decades it'll catch up to the present and start telling us the future.”
“We'll be old by then!” the first Willow complained. “Like 40!”
“Yes, positively ancient...” Giles agreed dryly, not looking up from the crystal ball he was studying.
“So, what do you think, Japan?” Xander asked.
“No, I don't think so...” Giles replied after a moment of thought. “I have yet to see anyone past puberty that didn't look like a playboy model and I've seen hair colors that just aren't natural.”
“They could have dyed their hair,” Buffy offered as she approached.
“Not unless it’s common practice to dye the carpet as well,” Xander replied.
“I've also seen unusual eye colors, including a complete lack of pupil with no apparent lack of sight,” Giles said.
Buffy looked into the crystal ball and saw a group of naked young women bathing. “You're spying on a spa?”
“The ball is locked on with no way to change views,” Xander explained, “so we're trying to figure out where it is.”
“I don't think it’s our dimension,” Giles continued, “and I'm at a loss as to how to change its focus.”
“See if the council will buy it,” Xander said. “I don't see much use for it beyond curiosity.”
“The HBO one is showing everything as scheduled,” Willow announced.
“Which is strange, because the actual channel is behind schedule by about five minutes due to technical problems,” the other Willow offered.
“If you put your finger on it you can get sound,” Xander said.
Buffy examined a globe that had a translucent figure in it shouting something. Placing a finger on it her eyes grew wide and she pulled back her hand. “He's cussing in French about anything and everything.”
“Add that to the Council pile,” Xander waved her toward it.
“Why would anyone make these?” Buffy asked.
“Chaos magic is exactly what it says,” Giles replied.
“If the Council pays a decent price for the crystal balls I might sell them some of the more useful items we found,” Xander said, “but the really useful ones we're going to keep for ourselves.”
“Like what?” Buffy asked.
Xander handed her a machete. “Never dulls or breaks no matter what we tried on it and if you put enough force behind it it'll cut steel.”
Buffy blinked. “And the voice chanting 'kill kill kill' like from a horror movie?”
“It’s the only downside to it, so don't hand it to someone who listens to the voices in their head.”
“I get to keep it?” Buffy asked.
“Yep, figure it'd be more useful to you than anything else.”
“Thanks!” Buffy said with a bright smile.
“Here's another one we're keeping that works but its buggy,” Xander said pushing a crystal ball towards Buffy.
Buffy looked in the ball, then down at herself then back in the ball. “Okay, what’s so useful about getting to see everyone in the room naked?”
“Because you can actually use this to scry on people; let’s say Angel was kidnapped and we needed to rescue him, all you have to do is concentrate on him and it'll show where he is and who's with him,” Giles explained.
“Naked,” Buffy pointed out skeptically.
“Yes, but despite the lack of clothes it is 100% accurate,” Giles continued.
Buffy nodded and looked into the ball for a minute. “Angel's safe,” she commented with a grin.
In the center of a sphere of empty space in the asteroid belt an enormous metal frame is slowly growing. A large asteroid slowly tumbles toward it, its path unchanged for millennia uncounted, but as it crosses into the empty space occupied by the frame it begins to break up into smaller and smaller pieces until it vanishes altogether, the frame growing imperceptibly thicker.
“Leonardo Di Caprio is safe,” Buffy announced, drawing both Willow's attention and waking Harmony.
Giles rolled his eyes but didn't say anything.
“Randomly created magical items should be valuable because even if they aren't something useful a study of the enchantment on them should provide a clue as to how to make similar items that are useful,” Willow said, casually moving towards Buffy.
“I was thinking they were valuable as magical curios but you have a point,” Xander agreed. “If they can figure out what makes them tick they can make items more to their liking.”
“Indeed,” Giles agreed. “Permanent items of any type are rare, so even those of limited use are valuable beyond what you'd expect.”
“Which means we'll have money to get some better equipment,” Xander said.
“How do you mean?” Giles asked.
“I mean we could use a few more crossbows and shiny sharp things for Buffy,” Xander replied. “I've seen you looking through hunting catalogs and I doubt it’s because you want to make deer jerky.”
“There have been some advances in material composition that offer some promising enhancements over the traditional design,” Giles admitted.
“Not to mention body armor,” Xander pointed out.
“Christian Slater is safe!” Buffy announced, all four of the females present now gathered around the ball.
“Let’s check on Tom Cruise,” Harmony suggested.
“It would be a shame if something happened to him because we didn't check,” Willow agreed.
“A slayer's work is never done,” Buffy said solemnly.
“Body armor would be nice,” Giles admitted, ignoring the girls, “but the costs involved are rather excessive, you'd have nothing left.”
“If we're ever hard up for money we'll sell something else,” Xander said. “Money isn't important in this case. Hell, tell the Council that you want the latest weapons and armor that can be used in an urban environment for them. I'm sure they can get better prices and gear than we can as civilians.”
“The Council does have a lot of contacts,” Giles agreed.
“Mel Gibson is safe!” Harmony announced.
“He certainly is,” Buffy agreed.
“I've got two pairs of glasses that make people not want to have sex with you and a couple of crystal balls that are filled with static that we can use for cash if we need it,” Xander said.
“Excellent, then I'll see what deals I can make.”
“The science teacher I had a crush on in junior high is safe!” Buffy announced.
“We didn't always have a two story parking garage under the house yesterday, did we?” Jessica asked.
Tony threw a ball, which a small blue scutter raced over to catch and return.
“Good boy,” Tony said, patting the scutter atop its three fingered head and retrieving the ball for another throw. “Doubt it, but we should probably cut back on our drinking anyway.”
A half dozen scutters zoomed past like a line of baby ducks.
“I could spend some more time on housekeeping,” Jessica said thoughtfully.
Tony looked around the spotless living room that now had a sunken in floor and an 80” TV. “I'm thinking of hitting the weight room; actually work out a little, swim a few laps, and then relax in the hot tub.”
“We have a weight room, pool and hot tub?” Jessica asked numbly.
“You get to take me to my house,” Harmony told Xander, “and explain why I'm a couple of days late getting home.”
Xander froze. “Won't your parents kill me?”
Harmony rolled her eyes. “Don't tell the truth! Make something up, you're better at that than I am.”
“Really?!” both Willows exclaimed.
“I could lie like a dog before,” Harmony admitted cheerfully, “but now that I'm a cat I'm stuck between why bother and can't think of anything believable.”
“How does that make me a better liar?” Xander asked.
“Dave could come up with some real whoppers at the drop of a hat, so I figure you can too.”
“He could,” Xander admitted, “but they weren't exactly believable.”
“I know, but I figure since I'm going to get caught I might as well get some laughs out of it.”
Xander opened his mouth to say something then paused and shrugged. “What the hell, should be good for a laugh,” he agreed.
“And where have you been young lady?!” Harmony's mother demanded, arms crossed in front of her and the toes of her right foot tapping impatiently on the floor.
“The gas leak confused a lot of people,” Harmony claimed.
“For a number of hours, not days,” her mother responded.
“I left messages on the answering machine!”
“And what are you wearing?” she demanded.
“A crimson and black …” Harmony began and the conversation between the two delved into matters of fashion that Xander could not follow.
While Harmony's mother could have been her older sister, her father looked like his actual age of somewhere in the late thirties, with a strong grip and dark hair silvering at the temples. “And here they go again.”
“Men's fashion,” Harmony's mother said with a sigh, “you're becoming a lesbian, aren't you?”
“Mother!” Harmony yelled indignantly.
“I want grandkids at some point!” she complained.
“I like boys just fine, ask Xander! Xander, tell her I love the cock!” Harmony ordered.
“I can honestly say she likes boys,” Xander assured her mother.
“Just liking boys doesn't mean she'll have kids someday,” Harmony's mom said bluntly.
“She enjoys activities that could lead to pregnancy,” Xander replied, uncomfortably aware that both her parents were looking at him expectantly.
“Then why did I catch you calling out Cordelia's name when I walked in on you with that vibrating thing?!” she demanded.
Harmony blushed. “That has nothing to do with anything! Everyone wants to nail Cordelia! Xander, tell her what you'd do to Cordelia.”
“If not for her personality I'd bend her over in the hall at school in between classes and plow her,” Xander admitted.
“See? I say nail Cordelia and he already has a fantasy ready about the girl – everyone does!”
“Okay, maybe I'm worried about nothing, but all I know is that when I was your age I already had a serious boyfriend who I introduced to my parents and often snuck around to have sex with.”
“Xander, this is my mother Clarissa and my father Daniel,” Harmony introduced him.
“Hi!” Xander chirped nervously, giving them an awkward wave.
“Are you having sex with my little girl?” Daniel asked him, giving him a serious look.
“Several times a day; sometimes upside down and occasionally in the shower,” Harmony replied for him and gestured for Xander to speak.
“Yes,” Xander said, unable to think of anything more he could say that wouldn't add to the TMI state they were currently enjoying.
“You should come over to dinner some time so we can get to know you,” Daniel suggested in a way that made it quite clear that it was not a suggestion.
“Yes sir,” Xander agreed.
“That went well,” Harmony said as they left.
“Yep, I'm still alive and I can blackmail you about Cordelia,” Xander replied cheerfully.
“Really Mister ‘lets bend Cordelia over in the hallway at school and give it to her’?” Harmony said with a grin.
“Truce?” Xander asked, offering a hand.
“Truce,” she said as they shook on it.
“So … dinner with your parents?”
“Twice a week and they'll practically let you get away with anything,” she promised.
“Every week?” he asked with a wince.
“Make regular appearances with me at home and there is little I won’t let you get away with,” she teased playfully, rubbing up against him and purring.
“I suppose I can add it to my schedule,” he mused thoughtfully.
“That's the spirit!” Harmony encouraged him. “Unlike Dave and Cat we've got homes and families and aren't lost in deep space, the world is our oyster!”
“Yeah,” he agreed cheerfully. One week later…
“I miss the ship,” Harmony said out of the blue from her favorite spot on top of the book case. “I know we were never really there and the whole point of the series was to reach Earth where we are now, but I still miss it.”
“I miss the hard light bee,” Holo-Willow said. “Not to mention the sense of excitement! We were going somewhere, we were doing something.”
“Peeked at Holly's memories of the ship,” Xander guessed.
“Your other self is driving you nuts,” the cat girl translated.
“Just a tad,” Holo-Willow admitted, “she's not even bothering to keep up with the latest on the net, because she's busy trying to levitate a pencil and memorize medieval herb reaction tables! Holly pop me into the virtual room please,” she said before vanishing, leaving her light bee – a copper construct that looked like two thimbles stuck together to hover until Xander plucked it from the air and pocketed it.
“You'd think the two would get along a little better,” Harmony said with a sigh.
“Willow has always been insecure about her looks and based most of her self-worth on her intelligence,” Xander explained. “So, here we have a Willow who has had Holly up her appearance and operates in computational cycles rather than seconds. Of course they're going to conflict.”
“And Willow, while enjoying her new advantages, can't help but envy organic Willow for her ability to touch things and have children,” Harmony said with a sigh.
“Have children?” Xander asked wide eyed.
“Relax monkey boy,” Harmony teased, “it’s all about the possibility not the actuality.”
“Meaning?” he asked in confusion.
“A decade from now she may mug you for some DNA for reproductive purposes, but for now it’s just a dietary supplement, or would be if she had an organic body.”
“Oh my, look at the time!” Buffy said cheerfully, holding up a bare wrist. “I gotta … patrol, yes I must patrol!”
“Your friends are really squeamish,” Harmony said as Buffy fled into the night.
“You two are just way too blunt,” Cordelia replied, “and this is me saying that.”
“Is that why organic Willow keeps vanishing?” Xander asked.
“No, she's doing the ‘not breaking up with you’ dance,” Cordelia explained.
“I missed that completely!” Harmony complained.
“That's because Xander and Willow have been joined at the hip since forever, so the early stages just separate them as much as a normal couple while dating.”
“What am I missing?” Xander asked confusedly.
The two girls rolled their eyes.
“Willow wants to break up with you, but she wants you to be at fault, so she'll get more and more distant hoping you'll break up with her. Or failing that she can claim after a week or more of not seeing you that you just stopped coming around so you technically broke up with her,” Cordelia explained.
“That's manipulative, underhanded and dishonest,” Xander said with a frown.
“Yep,” the two girls chorused without an ounce of shame.
“You've helped her mature into a woman,” Cordelia said, “congratulations.”
“And she's breaking up with me?”
“Yes,” Cordelia said, wishing he wasn't so dense.
“Any number of reasons,” she said, “you aren't the same Xander Harris you were two weeks ago when Halloween hit. She isn't the same Willow Rosenberg, you are also dating Harmony and an upgraded version of Willow. Some girls just aren't into the whole group thing.”
“It just … kinda happened,” Xander said, “Willow needed me so I was there for her and the next day I somehow agreed to have sex with Harmony and Willow.”
Cordelia rolled her eyes. “Well I have things to do,” she declared before leaving.
“Does Cordelia seem a little … Bitchy?” Harmony asked.
“More than usual though,” Xander said.
“Yeah,” Harmony agreed, “but I can't say why. It’s almost like she's jealous of someone.”
Harmony shrugged. “She's queen bitch for a reason, she plays her cards so close to her chest I'd have to bury my face in her cleavage to get a whiff of an answer.” One week later...
“Bob's made several dozen extra scutters and had them working on a project,” Holly told Xander. “They just sent word its complete.”
“What is?” Xander asked.
“The Starbug,” Holly said proudly.
“How?!” Willow demanded. “The fuel to power it is probably rare, illegal, expensive and not yet invented!”
“They found a toxic waste dump,” Holly explained, “a lot of what we use to produce fuel is still classified as toxic waste during this century.”
“No one's going to complain about the dump are they?” Harmony asked.
“I shouldn't think so,” Holly replied thoughtfully, “it looked like someone just buried a whole lot of old rusty drums and forgot about them.”
“So where is it?” Harmony asked.
The three teens entered the Sunnydale wrecking yard, eying the stacks of rusty metal wrecks suspiciously as they seemed about ready to fall over if a good stiff breeze hit them.
“And why did they build it here?” Harmony asked.
“It’s a remote location with plenty of material and no one comes out here, even the demons seem to give this place a miss,” Holly explained.
“For good reason,” Xander said, grabbing Harmony's arm to keep her from stepping forward.
Harmony looked down and paled as she spotted a rusty bear trap.
“The guy who ran this place went a little nuts and put traps everywhere before he died last year,” Xander explained.
“A little nuts?!” Harmony demanded.
“Yeah, claimed he set the traps to kill demons.”
“Well … that's actually reasonable,” she conceded.
“Still doesn't explain the chicken suit he refused to take off,” Xander said with a shrug.
“And that's just a little nuts?” Harmony asked doubtfully.
“Compared to all the people in this town who dress normally and pretend that vampires don't exist; definitely,” he replied, pulling her behind him and picking up a long metal pole from the ground.
Using a combination of Holly's sensors and Xander's pole, they reached the newly built ship alive and unharmed.
“It looks like a snowman with a jet pack strapped to its butt down on all fours,” Willow said as she examined the large olive green ship.
“It’s bigger than my house!” Xander said as Holly triggered the ramp so they could climb on board.
“Oh yeah!” Willow said, closing her eyes and purring as they entered the cargo bay.
“It feels so nice to have space to stretch out in,” Holly said his face appearing in a monitor on the wall.
Xander looked at his watch and found it blank.
“Watch a little crowded?” Harmony asked.
“Yeah, but I didn't realize it until now,” Willow admitted.
The ramp closed up and the two hurried to the bridge, Willow simply shifted herself there with a thought leaving her light bee to follow Xander, while she took advantage of the on board holo projectors.
Willow took Rimmer's usual spot at the nav-station while Xander and Harmony settled into the pilot and co-pilot chairs which had yokes much like an airplane.
In fact anyone who'd seen the cockpit of a Jupiter mining corp vessel would tell you they looked like a cross between an airline cockpit and a naval station's bridge by way of a company who designed garbage trucks. That's not to say they were ugly, (they were) or that the controls had been simplified so even borderline morons could fly them (they had) but rather that given a sledgehammer and five minutes even a very experienced vandal would have a tough time making the ship inoperable.
“Why aren't our stations active?” Xander asked as he and Harmony noticed the lack of power.
Holly's face appeared on the main view screen. “Because none of you are qualified yet.”
The engines activated and the ship lifted off, its cloak engaging as it gained altitude.
“So where are we headed?” Harmony asked.
“Xander's house to retrieve his things and then yours to retrieve several racks of clothing.”
“Why?” Willow asked.
“Because Starbug isn't the big surprise,” Holly replied, “the big surprise will take a couple of days to get to.”
“No hints?” Xander asked.
“Do I look like the Riddler from Batman? No, not a one. All I will say is bring extra knickers because you're going to wet yourselves in joy.”
“Wet myself in joy?” Harmony and Xander chorused.
“It’s that good,” Holly said. “Xander where do you want to store Ford?”
“You kept his corpse?” the girls chorused.
“The cargo deck is fine,” Xander replied, “make sure his cryo-chamber is operating properly and strap it down.”
“You keep his corpse on ice?!” Harmony asked plainly horrified.
“He's alive, I stuck him in the cryo-tube so he'd live long enough to get his cancer cured,” Xander said.
“I thought you'd killed him when he vanished and you said you'd taken care of things,” Harmony admitted.
“Yeah,” Willow agreed, “it’s why Buffy's been so cold to you lately.”
“I didn't kill the guy,” Xander said, “between the drugs and the cancer eating his brain he's not exactly in his right mind.”
“He tried to sell Buffy to Spike,” Willow pointed out, “even with how he was it’s a lot to excuse.”
“Well fortunately for him I have a great deal of compassion for my fellow human beings,” Xander said, “he'll be on ice until I can find a way to cure him.”
“That's great Xan!” Willow beamed at him.
“And then when he's whole, hale and hearty I'll kick his ass for trying to sell out Buffy!”AN: Typing by Godogma, who I have chained up in the basement and forced to type up all my work.