It had been a very bad morning by any stretch of the imagination. She’d had dreams like this before, waking up naked or in her underwear in some place full of people, people who knew her, but this wasn’t a dream.
Kennedy had tackled her almost instantly and drug her into the bathroom (the lady’s bathroom, thankfully) while Xander had shielded them both. From there the pair had smuggled her out of the bathroom and away from the police, who had actually showed up (shock of shocks) and they’d ducked into the sewers and made their way towards Xander’s apartment. After no small amount of good luck and a few close calls, they’d gotten inside and they’d thrown her in the shower because, according to them, she reeked.
“Okay, let me get this straight,” Willow said quite calmly even though she was dressed in little more than a sheer black silk robe that reached her mid-thigh and did nothing to hide anything because it had been put on while she had been still-wet from the shower. When she’d gotten out, she was clearly able to hear shouting, familiar shouting, as both Xander and Kennedy had been arguing at each other in full voice, something that had continued for several minutes. She’d ended up finding one on her own and her patience had worn thin enough that she’d snapped her fingers and the pair had been sat down, bound and muzzled, which led to her being able to think, let alone speak. “You two vanished three weeks ago while out to dinner with Kennedy’s parents. It happened because of a three-way wish made between Kennedy, her mother and her sister. You two have been travelling through various realities and you know how to break the wish but haven’t managed to do so somehow and _NOW_ I get dragged into this because Kennedy is taunting Murphy. Is that about right?”
Even through his gag, Xander’s affirmation sounded smug in his victory while Kennedy’s shoulders drooped a little.
Willow pinched the bridge of her nose. Why her? What great sin had she committed? ‘No, scratch that,’ she thought with a grimace. Turning to Kennedy she pointed a scolding finger at her and snapped, “What’s the third rule? No taunting Murphy, Missy.” Not waiting for a reply, Willow spun on Xander and swatted him on top of the head, causing her hand to sting, “And you, buster, this is your fault somehow.”
Xander’s gag kept his squawk of indignation somewhat reasonable even as he began to strain against his bindings.
“Don’t give me that, Xander. It’s magic and it has wishes and it’s you and Kennedy. This has to be your fault somehow.”
At Xander’s level look and tapping foot, Willow went against her better judgment and took his gag out of his mouth. Working his jaw a few times, Xander growled, “That’s not fair and you know it, Willow. Be objective and tell Kennedy its _HER_ fault for taunting Murphy and being selfish.”
Kennedy railed against this, muffled through her voice was, and Willow waited for her to calm down before she took her gag out. “Thanks, honey, and yeah, I broke Rule Three, but I’m _tired_ of this crap, okay?”
“Oh, yeah, and it’s been a big barrel of laughs for me, too, Ken Doll. Konoha, Hogwarts, two versions of Sunnydale and a half-dozen other worlds in between. _REAL_ fun,” Xander snarked as his ropes began to loosen with his struggles.
Willow blinked. Hogwarts? Konoha? _TWO_ versions of Sunnydale?
“YOU haven’t had to go through puberty like I have, Xander. I mean, Christ, do you have any idea what that’s like?”
“Thankfully no. Unlike what Buffy thought, I’m NOT one of the girls but it wasn’t a bucket of fun for me, either.”
“Oh, yeah? THREE times I’ve lost my virginity to you-“
“Yes, please, let’s keep going back to that-“
“-and it didn’t do us any good!”
Willow stuck her fingers into her mouth and whistled shrilly, threatening to shatter glass but also shutting the pair of them up. “That’s it!” she snapped, gagging them both again. With that she began to pace the small room, pausing briefly to pick up a towel and starting to scrub her hair dry. Only Xander... No, to be fair, only Xander _and_ Kennedy could cause this kind of trouble and not have killed one another by now.
It took her ten minutes but she finally calmed down and began to work through the facts. Multiple lost virginities and kisses, check. Deaths, check. Saved lives, check. Alternate realities, check. ‘This is like bad fan fiction,’ she thought with a grimace. “Alright, first thing first, I need clothes. Second, we’re going to work this out logically and without yelling or accusing anyone of anything. Last, if that doesn’t work, we’re going to get you two blind staggering drunk and you’re going to make with the horizontal salsa.”
As a response she got two deadpan glares.
Willow sighed. This was getting her nowhere fast. “Alright, fine. Are you two going to behave?” They nodded at her. She smiled and went to untie them both but then the ropes holding them fell off and the pair started to rub their wrists. “Huh? What? How!?”
“Your magic knots suck, Wills.”
“Yeah. I mean, weren’t you ever a scout or something?” Kennedy asked as she rubbed her wrist.
“What? No,” Willow said, her mind trying to get back up to speed. “How did you two-“
“Hello? Konoha? Ninjas? Ring any bells?” Kennedy asked.
“Yeah, it does, and don’t let her tell you otherwise, Kennedy. She loved the Saturday morning ninja flick marathons we used to have,” Xander said with a little grin.
“You made me watch those, Xander.”
“Made? Sh’yeah, right, Wills,” Xander said with a shake of his head. “The first few, maybe, but I seem to remember you being just as into them as we were by the end. I mean, who was it that was seriously thinking about blowing off computer camp for an entire summer of them?”
Willow grabbed a pillow and swiped at Xander with it with a growl of frustration but the pillow was intercepted by Kennedy, who wrestled it away from her. “Alright, will you two stop for a second and _please_ tell me what’s going on? All of it? In detail? I get the feeling I’m missing something.”
By the time they were done, Willow had come to a conclusion. “I need a drink.”
As it turned out, it was a very bad idea.
Buffy stared in shock. No, shock was too kind. She was dumbfounded. Entirely and completely dumbfounded.
Kennedy smirked as she looked back and forth between the two Willows. “I’ve had dreams that started out like this.”
Xander opened his mouth to say something but closed it after a second and a glare from Tara.
“Would someone like to start making with the ‘splaining? Please? Why is she drunk? Who is she? Why is she _here_?”
“She’s a lightweight, her name is Willow and I ended up giving her a piggy back here because she couldn’t walk in a straight line right now if her soul depended on it.”
Willow the younger simply stared at her mirrored, though older, self.
Willow the older continued to sing. Loudly. Badly off-key, too.
Tara closed her eyes for a few seconds before she sighed and looked at Xander, “Does this have to do with… the other thing?”
“The other thing? What other thing?” Buffy asked, now sounding more paranoid. “How many things are there?”
Kennedy wasn’t going to let that go. “More than are thought of in your philosophy, Buffy.”
Xander looked at her and whined, “You know, if I’d have said something like that, I’d have been smacked, Kennedy.”
“Honey, if you’d have said that, we’d have stared at you funny for a few seconds for even knowing it.” Xander stuck his tongue out at her and she replied in kind.
“Children, please!” Xander and Kennedy stopped and looked at Tara, their tongues still poking out. She glared at them and their tongues came back in. “Good. Now, will someone please start from the beginning and not leave anything out?” She looked at Xander and her stern tone dropped to a whisper, “Please, Xander. For me?”
It was fighting dirty and worse, he knew it. She knew it, too, and that was probably why she was doing it. Xander sighed and shook his head. ‘What was that old saying? Right, the only easy day was yesterday.’ “Will do, Tara, but first I want to get Willow sober.”
“I am sober!” the younger Willow shouted, outraged.
“The other Willow, Willow. …This is going to get confusing, isn’t it? Should we call her by her middle name, Kennedy?”
“If I knew her middle name, maybe. What is it? Something embarrassing, maybe?”
“Not nearly as embarrassing as Xander’s,” Tara chipped in. “Go sober her up, Xander. Or muzzle her. She can’t sing.”
“Neither can you, Tara. I can’t either, so who am I to throw stones?” he shrugged.
“I can sing, buster, and you know it. Remember that karaoke bar in Reno? That standing ovation?” Tara reminded him with a smirk.
“Well, to be fair, you were going after Queen’s ‘Fat Bottom Girls’ like a pro and I had a serious buzz going, too.” Looking over at Willow, he looked at Kennedy and smiled, “Wanna help?”
“Do I look suicidal? I’ll get you some towels.”
Buffy blinked as Xander grabbed the older Willow and moved her towards the bathroom, “Um, what’s he about to do?”
“He’s about to sober her up the quick way. The application of a frigid aqueous solution,” Kennedy replied, smirking.
“Cold water. Willow doesn’t sober up the normal way,” Kennedy said as they heard the water start running.
Seconds later the slurred protests from the elder Willow became a shriek of outrage and then garbled threats of physical and magical violence against Xander. Buffy, Tara and the younger Willow were shocked at the language used while Kennedy simply smirked. Oz only arched an eyebrow when he heard the sound of flesh meeting wet flesh and then a yelp, “OW! Stop biting me, Xander!”
Willow glared at Xander from across the bathroom as she scrubbed the water out of her hair.
Xander smirked at her as he wrung out her soaked clothes into the wink, neither of them at all fazed by Willow’s nudity. Honestly they’d gotten over it some time ago when it was just them, though that was thanks to that third-rate roach hostel that they had been forced to stay in just outside of Minsk that only had one semi-functioning bathroom and neither of them trusted any of the other tenants to not try anything.
“I hate you,” she growled as she finished with her hair and wrapped her towel around her body, covering her very slight tan lines.
“You know you love me, Wills, just like you know you can’t handle your liquor.”
She snorted as she grabbed a brush and started working the knots out of her damp hair, wincing every now and then as a big one got caught in the teeth. “Did you have to sober me up like this?”
“Did you want to suffer another hangover?” he countered as he finished with her pants and hung them over the shower rod to start drying, joining her underwear and bra. “We need to tell the story double quick, Willow, and that means you had to be sober. I couldn’t run the risk of you hitting on Buffy, Kennedy, Tara and your younger self anymore.”
“I would _not_ hit on my younger self, Xander. I’m not that kinky,” she defended, pointing the brush at him like a weapon.
Xander shook his head as he took the brush away from her and sat her down on a small padded bench in front of the mirror, “Keep telling yourself that, Willow. Besides, we have bigger problems.”
Willow sighed as she felt him start to run the brush through her hair, working out the knots gently but firmly. She hated it when he was right. “You’ve gotten better at this, Xan.”
“I’ve had practice. Kennedy wore long hair in Sunnydale, the next time around, and at Hogwarts and she liked keeping it neat.”
“And she was lazy and got you to do it?”
“Of course. Thankfully she kept her hair short in Konoha, shorter than it is now,” he amended, thinking of her current hairdo with highlights. ‘God, I need more guy friends if I know this much about women’s hair.’
“Why?” Willow asked in a purr of contentment.
“We had a disturbing tendency to get into close quarters battle and long hair was often used as a handle. The funny part was that when she made chuunin and got the vest, she was often mistaken for a boy.”
“I bet that made her mad.”
“Furious. Our boss, Nara Kensuke, was the first one to make that mistake. I think he even kept the scars to remind him of just how troublesome Kennedy could be when she was angry,” Xander mused, still brushing. Chuunin vests, he remembered, were made to protect the vital organs, not flatter the female form. Oh, you could get them altered, yes, and some of the Hyuuga ladies did, but many didn’t bother.
“So in all of this time, you two never… you know, tried it?”
“We did,” he admitted after a few moments of silence, “but our hearts were never really in it.”
“Why not? Do you think she’s ugly or something?”
Xander yanked on her hair a bit and Willow winced, “Of course not. It’s just… it’s weird.”
“You wouldn’t have been like this with Tara.”
“Your Tara and my Tara are different,” he pointed out, “and I wasn’t as mature then.”
“You? Mature? Stop the world, ladies and gents. I need to get off now. Ow! Stop pulling my hair, mister!”
“Point is that it isn’t as simple as you think and, besides, we have bigger problems now.”
“Where you’re going to live. Remember, you don’t technically exist here.”
Willow grimaced again and this time it had nothing to do with her hair. “You mean I’m not staying with you?”
“I live with Tara and our apartment isn’t that big. I do have an idea, though, and it’s a good one.”
“And now I suddenly find myself to be very, very afraid. Your good ideas tend to end up with large areas of burning wreckage.”
“If you keep bringing stuff like that up, I’m not going to get you the goodies you’ll need to survive here, Willow. First of all, that embassy was _so_ not my fault, neither was the cargo plane.”
“But the school was.”
“Extenuating circumstances in the form of an eighty foot long demon snake!” Xander sighed, disgusted. You blew up _one_ school and nobody ever let you forget it. Technically it hadn’t been him doing the blowing up, either.
“Alright, then. What’s your ‘good’ plan?” Willow asked as he finished with her hair.
“Well, first of all we’re going to have to go get you some clothes and stuff.”
Xander smiled at her and pulled her into a hug, “We, my good ginger, are invading Nevada. Specifically Las Vegas. Think about the fun to be had.”
Outside, Kennedy and Tara both felt a chill go up and down their spines.
AN: Let the games…. Begin! Read and review, please.