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There And Back Again The Horsemen's Tale

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This story is No. 1 in the series "The Horsemen". You may wish to read the series introduction first.

Summary: Cordelia makes a different wish in season three and lands Willow and Xander in a new world, with a few changes. last two chapters added

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Highlander > Willow-CenteredangrymonkeyFR18820,614337886,29121 Sep 0525 Oct 05Yes
CoA Winner

We all fall down

Special thanks to Rognik who kept this story from being one long sentence.

I own nothing!!!
Note1: I’m keeping Highlander-verse separate from Buffy’s, i.e. no vampires.
Note 2: disturbingly close to what I was planning stacia. I may have to change it now. get out of my head!
thanks for the reviews
Pairing: for now it looks like W/X
~means thought~

Chapter 2: We all fall down

3467B.C. Highlander Universe

Willow didn’t know what was going on. One minute she had been talking to Giles, the next she was rolling down a very steep bank in a very dense forest. Well, rolling was not a good description; it was more like an extremely painful tumble that was abruptly stopped by a large branch sticking up from the forest floor, impaling her through the lower abdomen. Strangely enough Willow didn’t feel much pain after this, she just thought:
~I think I’m dying, me and my big mouth, you’d think after three years I would know better than to say “What’s the worst that could happen” ~ out loud she mumbled, “stupid hellmouth,” then passed out due to blood loss. Three minutes later her heart stopped beating.

A few meters away Xander appeared about 15 feet in the air. Before he could react or form a coherent thought he had fallen to the forest floor and cracked his skull on a convenient rock. Years of getting concussions from vampires, and occasionally his father, had added up causing some quite severe scaring in his brain. This fall proved to be the straw that broke the camel’s back. Xander Harris died due to severe cerebral hemorrhaging.

The bodies of these two childhood friends lay undisturbed by animals for almost a full day. The next morning Xander’s body twitched and suddenly he gasped, desperate to fill his lungs with air after being deprived for so long. Confused he slowly got to his feet. After looking around, he wondered out loud, “Did I get knocked out while patrolling or what?”

Before he could wonder why Buffy would leave him outside as a tasty meal for the local night life, he saw something that made his heart stop beating for the second time that day. Willow was lying there with a large branch through her stomach. The scene was eerily reminiscent of the accident Cordelia had suffered at the factory. The only difference was that Willow was most definitely dead.

For a second Xander just stood there, his mind refusing to understand what he was seeing. As comprehension slowly dawned on him he felt himself go numb. Carefully he picked his way through the brush and kneeled down beside his best friend’s body. He gently lifted her into his arms, which caused the branch to be pulled out with a sickening pop. Xander ignored this and proceeded to rock her back and forth. In a small corner of his mind he realized that he was in shock. He knew he had to get up and tell the rest of the gang that one of their own was dead, but he couldn’t seem to get the energy move.

Xander was so far gone he didn’t notice when small blue sparks started playing across her body. She gasped for air in the same manner Xander had. This was enough to get Xander’s attention. He quickly dropped her and did what any veteran Scooby would; he fainted.

Willow was concerned; she was almost certain she had died. Yet here she was next to an unconscious Xander without a scratch on her. She could feel a pulse, and the sun was still out; these things ruled out the possibility of vampirism. She could see no signs whatsoever of civilization, so she decided to rouse Xander.

When he came to he jumped at her and grabbed her into an extremely tight hug. “You’re alive,” he exclaimed then continued in a somewhat shaky voice, “I thought I lost you.” After a few seconds he asked, “By the way do you have any idea what’s going on?”

“No clue. Last thing I remember, I was reading in the library. Then poof, I was at the top of that hill, falling.” She said gesturing towards the hill behind her. “How about you?”

“Same. I was getting yelled at by Snyder for being late for class, then I was falling. I must have passed out when I hit the ground cause when I woke up you were lying there...” Xander trailed off and looked at her shirt, which was covered in dried blood. Then something occurred to him, and he exclaimed, “Hey I’m not hurt! Not even a scratch.”

“I know, me neither and I’m pretty sure I died,” Willow responded. She then noticed that Xander’s arms were still firmly around her. She would have commented on it if she hadn’t seen him flinch at the mention of her death.

“You were dead Wills. That branch went right through your stomach, but there’s no wound now. It must have healed seconds after I pulled you off the branch.” Xander gave Willow a comforting squeeze.

At this point Willow decided to enforce the “no touching” rule that she put in place after the whole fluke/Cordie getting impaled/Oz getting emotionally hurt incident. Untangling herself from Xander’s arms, she stood up and began pacing nervously. “I think we should worry about why we’re still walking and talking and not vamps, after we find out where we are and maybe change our clothes.”

Xander, who had been watching her like she was about to disappear, seemed to relax a bit at her familiar babbling and said vehemently, “Yeah then we can find Buffy and have her kick the ass of whatever evil demon brought us here!” He paused looking around then asked uncertainly, “Why is there a chair hanging in that tree?”

~~~~

Two hours later, they had explored the valley where they woke up in and found no sings of human habitation. They had also gathered everything they could find that may be of use. This included:

2 book bags
1 book on dark magic
1 remedial chemistry book(Xander’s)
1 beginning calculus book(Willow’s)
2 high school biology texts
7 note books
2 pencil cases with various writing instruments
Willow’s bag lunch( squashed)
2 bottles holy water(plastic)
2 wood crucifixes
3 stakes
1 knife that had been used to whittle stakes
1 change of clothes for gym(Xander’s)
1 walky-talky
1 Playboy
1 chair (hard wood)

When Willow had asked about the walky-talky, Xander explained that since the incident with Spike, he liked to have a way to contact the outside world. Willow ignored the Playboy.

Xander repeatedly tried to reach anyone on the small radio, while Willow changed into his oversized gym clothes in the bushes. Xander hadn’t wanted to let her out of his sight, which was why she was only now changing. Despite no longer being white as a sheet, he was still spooked about finding her cold dead body.

“Any luck?” called Willow as she emerged from the bushes, holding her wrecked clothes at arms’ length.

Xander shivered as she got nearer - it felt like electricity was crawling up his spine - before exclaiming, “Nothing! Even in a thunderstorm in Antarctica, I should still be able to pick up some form of radio signal. But all I’m getting is constant background fuzz. I’m going to turn it off to save the battery... unless you want a try.”

Willow wrung her hands nervously. “That’s ok, but that doesn’t make sense. I mean there can’t not be a signal unless there aren’t any radios and that means there aren’t any people with radios and thatmeanstherearen’tanypeopleandth...”
Xander got up, put his hands on her shoulders, and said calmly, “Breathe, Wills. I fell pretty far. The radio’s probably just... squashed.”

Instead of looking reassured, her shoulders slumped. Tiredly, she said, “Even if the radio is broken, we should still hear some variation in the static or nothing, period. Not uniform static. The only explanations I can think of are that either were in some other world, without radio technology like the hell dimension Buffy was in over the summer; we’re far enough back or forward in time for there to be no radios; or all radios on Earth just stopped transmitting simultaneously.”

Xander sat quietly thinking for a few seconds (something that would have surprised the other Scoobies and possibly given Giles a heart attack). “Well those first two options actually make sense. I mean, we both just sort of appeared here, so an alternate dimension isn’t so farfetched. Right now, though, I think we should focus on getting some shelter, water, and maybe some fire to keep animals away.”

Willow agreed that this made sense; it looked to be about three in the afternoon, and it was unlikely they could find a way home, even using the book Willow had pulled through with her. To their surprise, setting up camp proved surprisingly efficient. Water wasn’t hard to find, since there was a stream at the base of the valley. They were forced to settle near the stream, because they had little means to store water otherwise.

Xander was able access some of his soldier’s survival training, which helped him construct a passable lean-to, while Willow started a fire by conjuring a small flame. Due to a summer of studying plants for her magic (one the few areas of magic Giles didn’t frown on), she was able to find several species that she knew to be edible.

While foraging she had strayed maybe 100 feet from the camp. As she returned, she started to feel a strange tingling buzz that seemed to crawl up her spine. This only stopped when she caught sight of Xander’s head as it popped through one of the holes left in the roof of the lean-to. She asked uncertainly, “Did you just feel that?”

“Yeah, that’s the second time that’s happened. Last time was when you were coming back from changing. Any ideas about what it is?”

Willow shrugged. “No clue. It probably has something to do with why were not, well... dead.” She paused at Xander’s cringe. “Look, Xander, I know you’re freaked out about what happened but I’m fine! I’m not dead.”

At this, Xander exploded. “You don’t get it, do you!? You were dead! Gone! I woke up, saw your body and knew I’d never get to talk to you, or listen to you babble, or have you come over for Christmas to watch Charlie Brown. If you hadn’t come back, I don’t think I would have left these woods.” Xander’s eyes were getting shiny, but he didn’t slow down. In fact, he seemed to be gaining momentum. “Last year, when you were in the hospital, I promised that if you ever woke up, I wouldn’t let you get hurt again. But you did; not just here but with whole thing with Oz. You aren’t supposed to let that happen to people you love.”

Finally out of breath, he stopped and turned back to the lean-to; Willow just stood there speechless. Xander busied himself, using their knife to cut one of the pine branches for the roof. The bluntness of the knife and his current mood led to the inevitable: he cut himself. Badly.

Willow only saw him wince and drop the knife. He turned slowly while looking at the large gash that ran from the base of his thumb to his index finger. This was enough to snap her out of her momentary trance. She grabbed the ruined shirt that was drying on a nearby branch after an attempted cleaning, then rushed back to stem the blood flow. However as she reached out to grab his hand, he stopped her. Before she could ask what he was thinking, she noticed tiny bits of lightening playing across the wound. To her astonishment, the gash closed, then disappeared completely.

Neither of them said a word. They both just looked from the now unblemished hand to each other. Slowly, Willow reached down and picked up the knife, and with some hesitation sliced open her pinky. They both watched as the skin healed, leaving a small trail of blood where the wound had been.

“It’s... um... getting dark. Maybe we should turn in,” whispered Willow.

Xander nodded dumbly in agreement. They put their things away into the backpacks. Willow made sure the Magic book was safe from weather damage, then curled up next to Xander in the small lean-to. Neither talked, both too absorbed in thoughts of what had happened. Hours latter, Willow felt Xander reach around her and pull her next to his body. She considered mentioning their “no touching” rule, but she was asleep before she could form the words.

The next day, Willow was woken by the sun peaking into the Eastern facing entrance of their makeshift home. She blushed when she realized where Xander’s hand was now placed. She carefully extracted herself from him and walked out to the stream to get a drink. They had finished the contents of her lunch the day before, and she was now quite hungry.
She noticed there were some fish swimming in the stream. On a whim, she decided to see if she could catch one by levitation. She noted that, unlike home, the energies here weren’t tainted by the Hellmouth. After a couple of minutes, she was able to lift a minnow out of the water and have it float onto her outstretched hand. She was exhausted, covered in sweat, but elated. At that exact moment, Xander walked up behind her. The buzz was enough to break her concentration, letting the minnow flop out of her hand into the water.

“What’s up?” the oblivious teen asked.

“Trying to catch breakfast,” Willow huffed.

Xander sat down next to her and said with his usual jovialness, “So, Wills, any idea what you want to do now that we seem to have Wolverine-like healing?”

She looked at him strangely. “Your mood’s certainly improved.”

“I was thinking about it last night. I finally have a power that can help in the fight. Buffy can’t force me to stay on the sidelines anymore. I can actually be useful,” he stated triumphantly. With a slightly more subdued tone, he finished, “Now all we have to worry about is getting home.”

“I was thinking about that. We have to assume that the others are looking for us, so I think we should stay near where we appeared. I can also help by trying to find a spell in the book...” Willow babbled on about the types of spell she thought would be useful, not noticing the concern in her friend’s eyes.

Xander couldn’t explain it, but he had a gut feeling that no one was looking for them and it would be a long time before either saw their friends again. He figured it couldn’t hurt to let Willow try and find a way home. He put on his typical, goofy Xander smile and said, “Great idea. You can try and find a way home while I make this place livable. I’ll be a regular manly frontiersman.” He puffing out his chest a little, which made Willow giggle. Xander continued in a more serious tone. “Just to be on the safe side, though, I think we should try and find other people if we’re still here in a week. We won’t be able to survive for very long on our own.”

Willow studied Xander, seeing his relaxed smile that didn’t quite reach his eyes. She stated softly, “You don’t think we’re going home.”

Xander was surprised that she could still read him so well, dropping some the false cheer. Still smiling, he replied, “Look, Willow, if any one can get us home, it’s you or Giles. I just think it’s best to plan for the worst.”

“I guess that makes sense. We can wait a week, and if we still haven’t found a way home we can try to find a town,” Willow
agreed.

The week passed surprisingly quickly. Xander was working constantly to get their camp livable, and find enough food to keep from starving. Willow was helping with the latter, when not looking for a way home. Unfortunately, finding enough food to survive proved quite difficult. As a result, they were constantly hungry. Luckily, Xander was able to skewer a few small fish using a sharpened stick. These were cooked by lying them on flat rocks next to the fire.

To make matters worse, Willow’s magic was extremely wonky. Any spell requiring her to call on some spirit or god or deity simply didn’t work. She even tried contacting some wish-granting demon for scorned women; nothing happened. The only spells that worked were those that she could do using her own or the Earth’s energies; things like levitations, conjuring fire, glamers, and other similar spells. The only explanation she could think of was that the gods weren’t able to hear her. This helped confirmed her alternate dimension theory. The walky-talky still gave no sign that there was any other radio signal on this planet.

This severely limited their options when it came to finding a way home. The only spell she could find that was remotely useful involved sending a message to loved one in the event of death. Despite being too advanced for Willow’s level, she marked the spot in the book for later study. ~If we do die here I’d like Giles to know what happened to us.~ she thought grimly.
On top of everything else, neither had any idea where their new found ability to heal had come from. They discussed it, and since they both appeared to have their souls, they decided it was unlikely they were becoming demons. They also found their “buzz” could tell them when the other was within about 30 feet and only went away when they saw the other. Neither had heard of any spell or magical creature like this.

One thing both teens had trouble adapting to was that once night fell, there was no way to stay up and keep working. The light given off by the fire was not enough to really get anything done. So when night fell, they curled up together for warmth talked about what their friends might be doing back in Sunnydale.

“I bet Buffy’s trying to beat info out of Willy right now, while Giles pours over his books trying find out where we are,” Xander said, settling down to their seventh night spent in what was quickly becoming their home.

From somewhere nearby to his left, Willow said, “Yeah, probably.” She sounded tired and hopeless, despite trying to sound like her normal, chipper self.

Xander was growing more worried about her. So far, she had kept herself busy by trying to find a way home and foraging for anything edible, but now that she had apparently run out of options, the reality of the situation was catching up with her. He groped around in the dark for a few seconds, then found her. Pulling her into a hug, she just held on to him tightly until she finally nodded off.

The next day, they broke camp with some reluctance and started walking down the river in the hopes that they would eventually find someone living along the stream’s banks. Progress was extremely slow due to the thick vegetation and their poor footwear. It seemed that the wildlife of the forest was bent on avoiding them. The most they ever found was an occasional paw print in the mud, and at one point, Xander killed a porcupine with a stick. They carefully put the body in Willows lunch bag for later consumption.

By late afternoon, the stream they were following met up with a river that was considerably larger. They decided to set up camp since they were both physically and mentally exhausted. There bodies, however, were still unmarked due to the rapid healing they seemed to have developed. ~We may be starving and homeless, but at least we don’t have blisters~ thought Xander, after examining his feet.

Willow tried lighting a fire by conjuring flames. After three minutes of staring at the tinder with little effect, she conceded that she was probably to tired to control her magic. Xander used a wire and the battery from the walky-talky to make a spark to start a fire. After eating the small porcupine, they were both too exhausted to put much effort into making a shelter. So, tired and hungry, they curled up against each other on the small beach of the river and fell asleep.

The two continued following the river for three days, eating whatever they could get their hands on. When Willow woke up on the fourth day, she went down to the river and, making sure Xander was asleep, striped down and waded into one of the pools to clean up and wash her clothes. While she was busy rinsing out her hair, she froze. There, on the opposite bank, a small boy was watching her. As soon as he saw that she noticed him, he ran off into the bushes.

Quickly pulling on her still-wet clothing, she ran to where Xander was still sleeping. Feeling her approach, he woke with a start and replied in a cheerful if groggy voice, “What’s up, Wills?”

“Boy,” she exclaimed, pointing to the river. Seeing his confused expression, she continued excitedly. “By the river. He saw me while I was taking a bath.”

Xander tried desperately to chase the images of a naked, bathing Willow out of his head as the meaning of the words sunk in. People! We’ve finally found people! They quickly packed up their camp and, after putting some sand on their fire, set of to find Willow’s mystery boy.
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