The New Adventures of Buffy and Xander

Episode Four: "No Ruby Slippers"

Summary: Still at odds with each other, Buffy and Xander find themselves in the middle of nowhere with only each other for company.
Disclaimer: All BtVS stuff belongs to Joss Whedon, UPN et al and the Quantum Leap stuff belongs to Bellasarius Productions.
X-Over: Buffy the Vampire Slayer / Quantum Leap
Episode Rating: R (Violence).
Spoilers: 'Becoming p2', 'The Zeppo', 'GD p2', 'Harsh of Light of Day'.
Author's Notes: 1. Set after 'Crush' but before 'IWMTLY'. 2. Having decided that the Key didn't match any of her outfits, Glory gave it up and became and became editor of her own fashion magazine. 3. British spelling. *_*'s indicate word emphasis and //_//'s indicate direct character thoughts.


The second he saw light again; Xander felt a tug on his wrist. It took him another second to realise that Buffy was no longer infront of him and that he was lying on his stomach, his shoulders at the edge of a cliff.

"What the-" Xander felt another tug on his left wrist which saw was reaching down the cliff face. "Holy crap" Xander looked down and saw that the reason for the tugging was a handcuff encircling his wrist.

And that in the other handcuff was Buffy's wrist.

Buffy didn't appear to be in any trouble. Her feet were planted firmly enough on a little ledge. She was just waiting to be pulled up.

Buffy looked up at him, then at the handcuffs, then back at Xander. "Oh you've got to be joking"

Xander moved his wrist, making Buffy's arm sway too "Somehow, I think the joke is on us"

"Oh… God" Buffy groaned. She looked down. The ledge Buffy was standing on was quite big and unless she decided to take a flying leap off the end, she wasn't going to fall off. She and Xander were close to the top of a cliff one side of a gully. Both sides of the gully were about four storeys high and comprised of a mixture of rock face and hard compacted earth. The sides were separated by about five metres of rocks and earth at the bottom with a tiny trickle of a stream running down the middle. There were no other ledges on either side apart from the one that Buffy was standing on, so Buffy guessed that she had slipped over the edge and had luckily found some footing.

Buffy looked up again //Of course it helps that there's someone else attached to me to stop me falling any further down//. Buffy shifted awkwardly. Her arm that was raised in the air was stretched quite far. If she stood on tiptoe she'd be able to grab hold of Xander's hand. Which is what she did.

"Well don't just *lay* there Xander"

"Well that's a *real* nice attitude" Xander replied "You're not going to say please?"

Buffy glared at him "Do you want me to pull you down here?"

"Why? Do you want me to meet the next guy you're going to have sex with?"

Buffy yanked hard on Xander's wrist, smiling when she heard him try and stifle a gasp of pain "Xan, if you were down here you'd be the *only* guy, and I'm *so* *not* having sex with *you*"

Xander tutted "And after you shoved your tongue down my throat as well"

Buffy stared back at him in disbelief "I *did* *not* shove my tongue down your throat!" she exclaimed "And if *any*one was doing *any*thing with their tongue, it was *you*"

"I *was* *not*!" Xander retorted "Who kissed who *first*, huh?"

"I did it to break up with Will, you idiot"

"And you needed to *kiss* me to do that? You couldn't have just turned around and yelled 'Hey Will, I'm breaking up with you'?"

"Well, maybe I thought kissing you would be quicker and are you going to help me up *at* *all* anytime today?"

"Maybe I'm just psyching myself up to be able to carry your weight" Xander steadied his free hand against what seemed to be a firm patch of earth on the edge of the cliff. He grabbed hold of Buffy's hand tighter and began to push himself up "D'ya think you could put some effort into it?" he called down to her.

"Hey, I'm *trying* here" she called back up "There's not much down here to use as a foot hold" Buffy had one foot jammed onto a dip in the rock face, trying to push herself up as Xander was pulling her.

With a bit more pulling and clambering, Buffy soon had half her torso over the edge of the cliff. They were now effectively doing it with one arm each now, as the handcuffed wrists became obstacles. Xander gave one final pull and Buffy was now able to get over the edge herself.

Buffy took a couple of deep breaths and ran her hand through her hair; forgetting that it was the same one that was attached to Xander. "What?" she ignored the look on his face.

They sat next to each other; Buffy's right wrist handcuffed to Xander's left one, both of them sat with their legs out stretched and facing the gully. Buffy held their newly joined limbs out infront of them both.

"This is not good" she said "I can't *believe* I'm *attached* to you"

"Oh, like *I'm* *happy* about it too" Xander replied "And stop tugging on it, it's not coming off anytime soon unless you've got your Slayer powers back"

Buffy kept fiddling with her end of the metal bracelet "I mean, *why* the hell are we handcuffed together? And where the hell is Sean?"

"I don't know and I don't know" Xander answered. He looked down at the clothes he was wearing - a blue cotton shirt over identical coloured blue pants and flimsy, dirty white trainers.

Buffy noticed she was wearing the same "OK. Should we be waiting for Tommy Lee Jones to come after us?"


Buffy waved their wrists about "The Fugitive?"

"You think we've escaped from somewhere?"

"That would explain the handcuffs, yes Xander"

"Handcuffs do have other uses Buffy"

"Oh and I'm sure you and Anya know them all"

"We've got three pairs" Xander shot back.


"Oh, I forgot you and Riley were Mr and Mrs Straight-laced"

"Well at least we aren't Mr and Mrs 'We'll-do-it-anywhere-so-long-as-there-aren't-bunnies-within-five-hundred-yards'"

"*One* hundred yards"

"Just tell me you two haven't had sex in my house"

"No. We haven't had sex in your house" //Just the garden// "Are we going to sit here all day?"

"I'm not going anywhere until Sean turns up" Buffy tried to cross her arms, but Xander wanted his hand back "If we start heading off somewhere, we could get lost and even then we wouldn't know if we were getting lost in the… in the right direction"

Xander didn't want to admit she had a point. "Great. So we just sit here?"

"For the moment" Buffy twisted around to look behind them "We've got a whole load of thick forest behind us" she told Xander, who had also turned around to his left "Maybe we could try to explore a little of it later if Sean doesn't show up for a while" she turned back around and banged her head against Xander's who hadn't moved back.

"*Ow*!" Xander brought his hand up to his head, which meant Buffy's came too. He looked at the handcuffs again "This is going to be a *real* problem"

Buffy rubbed her head with her free hand, glaring at Xander "You don't say"

"Well you could stop looking at me like it's all my fault"

"Yeah? Well *technically* it is" Buffy shot back.

Xander stared back at her in disbelief "How in the hell did you work that out?!"

"Well if I hadn't been walking you to back to Anya's" Buffy replied hotly "I wouldn't have been anywhere *near* you and I wouldn't have got swept up in all this pile of crap called *leaping* and *then* I wouldn't be *chained* to *you*!"

"You're completely insane!" Xander got to his feet, making Buffy get up too.

"*I'm* insane! *I'm* not the one who went *completely* *over* the top because I decided to have sex with someone!" Buffy shouted "Maybe the fact that you did *exactly* the same thing with *Faith* slipped your mind, huh?"

"Faith! You're bringing *Faith* into this now?"

"Why the hell not?" Buffy countered "What? I suppose you're going to tell me that it's completely different aren't you?" Buffy put her free hand on her hip and looked at Xander expectantly, smirking triumphantly when he failed to respond immediately.

Xander tried to storm away but found he couldn't as Buffy was insistent on staying where she was. He turned back to her and glared "It was *different* because my sleeping with Faith had nothing to do with us being able to get out of here quicker"

"You didn't break up with Jenny *either* that night" Buffy pointed out "And my God. Is that all you were worried about? Getting out of here quicker?"

"Well I'm hardly going to be jealous about you having sex am I?"

Buffy scowled at him and sat down. Xander swore when his arm got yanked and had to sit down to, albeit as far from her as he could manage. "And I'm *not* jealous just because, what was it you said? Because you 'got some' and I had to wait until I got back to Anya" he turned to her "I can't believe you even made an issue out of that"

"I *didn't* make an *issue* out of it" Buffy replied tersely.


"Fine. Take that attitude" Buffy huffed "You're being childish about the whole damn thing"

"Childish? You won't even admit you made a mistake"

"That's because I didn't Xander. I knew exactly what I was doing" she turned away from him and gazed out over the gully.

Xander watched the back of her head for a couple for a couple of seconds before looking out over the gully himself. After a few minutes of sitting together in silence, Xander turned back to her. "Want to try and find a way to get out of these cuffs?"

Buffy looked at him "Suddenly find a hacksaw in your pants did you?"

Xander gave her a withering look "I was thinking more a long the lines of venturing further into the woods and seeing if we couldn't find some rocks or something"

"Do you realise how long it would take to try and break these links" she held up their wrists "Smashing a rock against them?"

Xander frowned "Unfortunately, yes I do"


"Oh my God" Sean chuckled softly to himself as he appeared a few yards to the left of Buffy and Xander "Oh, this is too good". Sean continued to watch in silence as Buffy and Xander stood either side of a medium sized boulder, their handcuffed hands in the middle, stretched out laying bare the metal links that joined them. Xander had a good-sized rock in one hand and was hitting it against the links as hard as he could without hitting their hands. Xander was concentrating hard and Buffy was looking on; a very bored expression on her face and her hand on her hip.

Sean watched as Xander caught Buffy's expression and stopped what he was doing. "That's really not helping" he told Buffy.

"Xander, you’ve been at it for a half hour" Buffy replied "It's not making an impression and my feet hurt from all the standing around"

Xander shoved the rock towards Buffy "Why don't you give it a go then?" Xander shot back "If you think you can do better"

Buffy didn't take the rock "I didn't say I could do better" she pushed his hand back "I'm just saying its taking too long"

"Well maybe if you stopped complaining-"

"Um… children?" Sean finally decided to intercede "If I could just interrupt for just-"

"And where the hell have you been?" Buffy glared at him "We've been waiting here forever for you"

"Actually I did drop by earlier" Sean admitted "But you two were just having so much fun arguing with each other, I thought I'd come back later"

"How thoughtful" Buffy arched an eyebrow "I bet you're keeping it all for the Christmas party video aren't you?"

"Buffy, would you just shut up" Xander snapped "Don't take it out on him"

"Xander you don't have to get on his side" Buffy shot a dark look at him "He thinks you've got the best ass, it makes you win everytime"

Xander matched her look "Well aren't you just a sore loser"

Sean closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose "I don't believe this" he muttered "Why do I always get the difficult ones?"

"Sean, why are we here?" Buffy asked "And I don't suppose you know where there's a key?"

"Oh *finally* you decide you want to know why you're here" Sean said, looking a little peeved "And there was me thinking you were only interested in getting away from each other"

"So are you going to tell us then?" Buffy asked, unaffected by Sean's tone.

"She wants to know if we're expecting Tommy Lee Jones to come chasing up after us" Xander added.

"Well… in a manner of speaking…" Sean replied "You're both escaped convicts. It's May 1981. You were both being transported, along with two other prisoners, in a bus to another jail when the bus crashed. The other two prisoners overpowered the only conscious guard and then you hightailed it out of there"

"Where are the other two?" Xander asked.

"And how come they cuffed male and female prisoners together" Buffy added with a frown.

"They didn’t" Sean grinned toothily at her "You're a guy"

Buffy stared back at him blankly, a little in shock, just taking this new piece of information in. //I didn't think I was wearing a bra//. Buffy looked down at herself then back up at Sean "I don't feel like a guy" she said finally.

Xander looked her up and down "Well, no… but-" he pointed to her face "I think that might be the beginning of a mustache"

Buffy scowled at Sean when he unsuccessfully stifled a smirk then she glared a Xander who was at least managing to keep a straight face "I really hope you get to be a girl soon"

"At least I'll be one with a better ass than you" Xander retorted.

Sean raised his hand a little in the air "Can I finish?"

"Fine" Buffy bit out.

"Y'know you'll get wrinkles if you keep frowning" Xander told her. Buffy gave him the finger.

Sean managed to stifle a smirk this time "OK" he carried on "You two are brothers. You're Christian Squire" Sean pointed to Xander and then to Buffy "And you're Nathan Squire. They're both up for appeal"

"Wouldn't escaping kind of jeopardise that?" Buffy stated.

Sean nodded "That's why you two have to give yourselves up peacefully when the time comes. Originally" he explained "Christian and Nathan kept trying to evade the police and when the cops finally caught up to them, Nathan got killed when they obviously tried to resist arrest" Sean glanced down quickly at 'Gizmo' "If we stop Nathan from getting dead and get both guys back to jail to await their appeal, they stand a ninety-five percent chance of getting free"

"What did they do?" Xander asked.

"Nothing" Sean replied "They always said they were set up and now some evidence has come up that can help with their case"

"How nice" Buffy said "So, how do we get them back to the police?" she asked, gesturing around "Because I don't see any guys in uniforms"

"They don't know the bus has crashed yet" Sean replied "It's pretty much the middle of nowhere here and the guards won't make contact for a couple of hours yet"

"What about the other two prisoners?" Xander asked again "Where are they?"

"I'm waiting on some info" Sean told him "Meanwhile you two have to start trekking"

"Yay" Xander and Buffy feigned enthusiasm.

"We've done a little research on the area for you" Sean then indicated further into the woods "There's a cabin about four hours hike from here"

"Four hours?" Buffy groaned.

"There might be something to help you get out of the cuffs…"

Buffy perked up "Well why didn't you say so earlier?" she tugged on Xander's arm, catching him off guard. "Let's go already"

Xander reluctantly began following after her. He glanced across at Sean "There'd better be a hacksaw"


(An hour later)

"I need the bathroom"

"Cross your legs"

"And walk at the same time? Moron"

"I am not stopping just so you can pee"

"It'll take, like, *two* minutes"

"My hands are not going anywhere *near* *any*thing of yours that involves *that*"

"They won't *have* to"

"I know. Because we're *not* *stopping*. Do you *want* to get these cuffs off or not?"

"Ugh. *Fine*. But if I end up with permanent bladder problems, *you're* paying for the medical bills"


(Three hours later)

"Why the hell Sean couldn't stay, I *don't* know"

"Maybe because you keep bitching"

"This is all your fault"

"Bite me"

"Oh, such a witty rejoinder"

"Ha. Look, there's a stream up ahead. Why don't we both go pee in that? We won't even have to close our eyes"

"Fine. But I am not sitting downstream from you"

"Fine. So long as you don't sigh with relief. That I can do without"

"Bite me"


(Four and a half hours later)

"Call that a log cabin?"

"What were you expecting?" Xander responded to Buffy's comment as they set eyes on their home for the night. It had become quite dark and they didn't want to carry on walking even if they managed to find something to free themselves. Xander stepped up on to the first rickety stair leading to the wooden door that was hanging off its hinges. He pushed the door gingerly, expecting it to fall. It didn't. Xander turned back to Buffy "You wanted flower boxes and gingham curtains?"

Buffy followed him inside "*Actual* *glass* in the windows would have been nice" she replied "Guess we should be grateful it's got a roof"

Xander let his eyes adjust to the dim light inside the cabin. At a rough guess, Xander sized it up at about four metres long by six metres wide. There was a small fireplace on the right wall as you walked in and three plain wooden chairs seated around a small square table against the far wall in the middle. There was a small waist high cabinet next to the table to the right and a cupboard was attached to the wall above it; there were no doors on it and it appeared to contain something. Along the left wall was a bed with a thin mattress on it; a small chest stood at the foot of it. The only windows were at the front - either side of the door. Over everything there was a thick layer of dust and cobwebs were liberally dotted around.

"Isn't it quaint" Buffy wrinkled her nose as she looked around "And apparently no running water either"

"Maybe they're fitting the hot tub next week" Sean said sarcastically as he appeared beside them both. "Glad to see you can follow directions" he looked around the cabin "Y'know, my bathroom is bigger than this place"

Buffy and Xander both brushed dirt and dust off a chair each and then sat down. "That's great Sean" Xander said "But can we get back to the removing off the handcuffs?"

Sean shrugged "Try checking that chest" Sean nodded to the medium sized wooden trunk at the foot of the bed "I didn't say there *definitely* *was* anything"

Buffy got to her feet, tugging Xander with her. She crouched by the chest and checked for a lock. Not finding one she gingerly lifted the lid and peered inside. "OK, I've not known dead rats to pick locks, so if Xander would move his ass out of my light, I might be able to see a little better"

Xander gave her a withering look "Funny girl"

"Funny guy" Buffy returned flatly.

"Why me?" Sean grumbled.

"OK, I have this" Buffy informed them both, reaching in the dusty chest and pulling out a small roll of canvas "There's also a couple of moth eaten blankets, some rope and some reading material that I think Xander might appreciate". A small cloud of dust appeared at Xander's feet when Buffy dropped the small stack of Playboy on the floor.

"Your generosity astounds me"

Buffy ignored Xander's sarcasm and closed the lid on the chest "That's it" she said, standing up "Nothing helpful in sight"

Xander took the roll of canvas from her grasp and let go of one end so it unravelled "What's this then?"

Buffy muttered something under her breath as she looked at the set of less than brilliant looking hunting knives that a smug looking Xander held. She scowled and retorted tartly "I hope you're going to cut off your hand slowly"


(Twenty minutes later)


The noises came in that order as Buffy finally managed to pick the lock on the cuffs using tip of one of the knife blades, it hitting the table, flying through one of the window with no glass and finally hitting the ground outside.

"Congratulations" Sean said dryly as Buffy beamed triumphantly "And for your next feat?"

"Conjure some food out of thin air?" Xander's suggestion was accompanied by a grumble from his stomach.

"Do I *look* like Willow?"

"Do I look like Willow" Xander mimicked her childishly, before slumping back in his chair.

"I *really* can't wait until we get out of this mess" Buffy stated grumpily "Being with you twenty-four hours a day is slowly resembling hell"

Xander frowned "Ditto"

"Hey, I've just had a brilliant idea" Sean said with fake cheer "Why don't I just go away and leave you two here to fend for yourselves. All alone and lost in the woods. I'm sure you'll have a blast"

Xander looked at him "Oh don't you start"

"No. I'm going to start" Sean replied "Whatever has crawled up both your butts and died, well… *get* *over* *it*. I am sick and tired of you two arguing. Don't think that just because I'm not being projected infront of you doesn't mean that I'm not aware of what's going on. Frankly, I'm considering asking to get transferred to another leaping gig, 'cos this sure as hell ain't a bed of roses".

"Tell me about it" Buffy griped back "Right now, I'd give my left arm to be able to just click my heels and get the hell out of here. Instead" she continued "I've got to listen to Xander whine and you bitching to me about how I'm bitching to you"

Sean matched Buffy's stubborn glare "Do you two *even* *know* what you're arguing about any more?" Sean shook his head, not waiting for answer "You know what, I don't care. I'm gone for this evening. You two should be fine here until the morning. I wouldn't worry about food, according to our details you should get picked up by the police early afternoon. Hopefully you won't have killed each other by then and *hopefully* you might have sorted out whatever is between you two" Sean keyed a few buttons on 'Gizmo' and disappeared into thin air.

Buffy folded her arms and scowled at Xander for the umpteenth time that day. "You made him angry"

"I see everything is my fault again"

"*You're* the one who got uppity in the first place about me sleeping with Will" Buffy pointed out "You're not my boyfriend Xander. In case you'd forgotten, I don't have one of those anymore, therefore I can choose to do what I want… or *who* I want" she added crudely.

When Xander didn't respond, only matching her stubborn look, Buffy continued "I know he thought he was with someone else, and yes, I admit, that does irk me a little. But I didn't feel used like I thought I would" she stated "I felt nice. I *wanted* to feel *nice*, be told I was beautiful and made to feel special". Buffy got up from her seat and walked over to the bed. She sat down "That's all there is Xander. Now it's getting late and I want to get some sleep. Don't even try hustling me for this bed. I can still kick your ass if I need to".

Xander bit his tongue and turned away from her as she got up and began shaking the mattress to get rid of the dust, cobwebs and dirt. He tried not to think about how her words were beginning to ring true in his head. Instead he grabbed the blankets that had come from the chest, spreading them both out on the floor, not bothered about the dust and laid down on them. He put his hands behind his head and closed his eyes, hoping that thinking happy thought about Anya would help him get to sleep. //Just not *those* kind of happy thoughts// Xander gently reminded himself //Don't want Buffy finding sporting anything but bed hair in the morning//.

When Buffy was satisfied the mattress was clean enough she put it back and sat down on the bed. She glanced over at Xander who had apparently settled himself on the floor for the night. Buffy knew it was stupid the way they were arguing, but she refused to give in. She was the Slayer, giving in wasn't in the handbook.


(Early next morning)

"Hey *guys*" Sean spoke loudly, causing Both Buffy and Xander to wake with a start. Sean ignored their looks of annoyance. "I've got some good news and some bad news" he informed them "What do you want first?"

"Bad news" Buffy and Xander said in unison.

"OK, we're off to a better start this morning" Sean commented. Without waiting for a response from either of them to contradict him, Sean continued "OK. Bad news. Those other prisoners that escaped from the bus with Christian and Nathan, that's you two if you remember" he added "Anyway, these other two, Ian Peterson and Harry 'The Psycho' Viniski, are about five miles away. It, uh, seems that Christian and Nathan angered them a little and well, they want to kill you, I mean them"

Buffy and Xander were now completely awake. "They want to what?" Xander said, sitting up.

"The good news had better be *good*" Buffy stated as she got to her feet.

"The good news is that if you leave now" Sean explained "They won't catch up to you before you get to the police to give yourselves up"

Xander and Buffy stood together "But they're handcuffed aren't they?" Xander said, "It'd be hard for them to kill us if they're attached"

"Apparently they had the good sense to steal the guard's keys" Sean replied "And they're only *behind* you two because they took a wrong turning somewhere along the line before getting back on track. This track. So I suggest you two think about getting a move on"

As Buffy began towards the door, Xander sighed and looked around the cabin. "It looked better in the dark" he commented "I definitely won't be coming back here next summer"

Sean glanced at Buffy's retreating form, waiting until she'd stepped outside before speaking to Xander. "Any improvement between you two?" he asked "Or do I need to crack the whip again?"

"Nope to the first one. And also, scary visual"

Sean looked thoughtful as he watched Xander follow after Buffy. "And certainly one I'll be having again" he mumbled to himself as he walked through the wall of the cabin and outside where Buffy and Xander now stood.

"So where now?" Buffy asked.

"Take the path back down from the cabin" Sean indicated to where a small dirt track led through the trees "Keep going for about a hundred yards and then turn right and make your way up the hill"

"Hill?" Xander groaned "Why can't there just be one of those nature trails that have the handy steps built for lazy people?"

Buffy rolled her eyes. "Xander, just move your ass will ya". Buffy started off down the path "Or don't you want to get out of here quickly this time?" she called over her shoulder smugly.

Xander narrowed his eyes as Buffy continued on walking. He decided not to give her the satisfaction of hearing him retort. At least that's what he told himself. Xander couldn't really think of a cutting remark at that precise moment.

"I heard what she said to you last night" Sean told him just as he started to walk off after Buffy. "She's right"

Xander shot Sean a sideways glance as the other man walked beside him. "Maybe"

"Then why don't you tell her that?"

Xander looked straight ahead. "Because"

"Because you’re a big manly man and you don't give in that easily?"


"I'm slowly going off you now"

"That I can't help Sean"

"Oh well, I'm sure I'll cope. I'm having dinner tonight with Juan"


"The cute guy who runs the hologram projector thingy" Sean explained "At least, that is" he then added "If I can get you two sorted out before then so I don't have to put in overtime. After all" Sean carried on "I'm sure that risking a friendship is something that you don't want to do, is it?"

Xander stopped to speak to him. But Sean had chosen that moment to disappear. Xander sighed then began to walk a little quicker to catch up with Buffy.


(A little while later)

"Buff, do you think you could get a move on?" Xander asked "This hill is tough going as it is without having to watch your ass infront of me and worry that someone with the middle name 'The Psycho' isn't closing up behind me"

Buffy accidentally on purpose let her foot slip against some rocks, which then came tumbling back into Xander's path causing him to stumble.

"Oops. Sorry" Buffy sounded a little too innocent.

Xander glared at her back "Yeah, I just bet you are"

"Yeah, well you didn't seem to have a problem with my ass when your hand was on it when we were fake kissing"

Xander's jaw fell open "My hand was *not* on your ass. *And* if I remember *correctly*, it was *your* hand that found it's way to *my* ass"

"Y'know I really don't know why Anya makes all that fuss about it" Buffy bit back as she finally got to the top of the hill that Sean forgot to mention was also incredibly steep. "Or Sean for that matter". She ran a hand through her hair and looked down the hill as Xander still continued to climb "And what was he saying to you back then anyway?"

"He told me to suck it up and stop arguing with you"

"So you didn't listen to him then?"

"I'm still thinking about it"

"Don't strain yourself"

"Wasn't planning on it"

"I was talking about the climb"

"… so was I" Xander replied as he joined Buffy at the top of the hill "See? Not even out of breath"

"I can see a bead of sweat" Buffy pointed to his forehead.

"And you're as fresh as a daisy?"

"Completely" Buffy stuck her tongue out and turned around to see if it was clear where they had to go next.


Buffy didn't turn around "Am not"

"Are too"

"Ooh Mr Mature"

"Like you're any better"

Buffy turned around, trying not to smile "I'm totally grown up"

"Because you stake Vampires?"


"I stand corrected"

"So you should"

Buffy looked around "Do you think we should be caring more about people with the middle name 'The Psycho' wanting to kill us?"

"Eh" Xander shrugged "We've had worse"

"But then I've been Super Slayer" Buffy conceded "It's a little different now"

The smile that had been working its way onto Xander's face slipped away a little "Hey, I'm still me" he said "Don't worry, normal guy can still cope"

Buffy caught the edge in his voice "Did I mention anything about you?"

"No" Xander brushed past her and began making his way through the trees, heading towards a rocky outcrop about five hundred yards up ahead of them both "I never get mentioned"

Buffy's eyes narrowed at the back of Xander's head "I wasn't aware that you needed a certificate everytime you went out on patrol"

"That's not what I'm asking for" Xander replied.

Buffy started after him "Then *what* is it that you want Xander?" she asked "A points system? For every ten vamps you stake you get a gold watch?"

Xander stopped and turned around "What I want is not to be wrapped in cotton wool. I'm quite capable of taking care of myself"

"Oh yes, I forgot" Buffy said as she stopped infront of him "You're the guy we go to about bombs"

"Great you're starting off with that again are you?" Xander turned away and began walking off again.

"Well why the hell not?" Buffy called after him.

Xander frustratedly batted branches out of his path "Because it's *my* thing"

"*Your* thing?" Buffy ducked when a branch came swinging back her way "Oh I'm *so* sorry" she said, dripping with sarcasm "I didn't realise. Please forgive me"

"There's also the fact that it's got nothing to do with why we're even here" Xander tried to point out "If we're going to get loud and angry why don't we just go back to the original thing we were getting loud and angry about!"

"Because you were the only one who had an issue with it!" Buffy shouted back "But if that's what you want to do I guess I can do that! *Fine*! You want to make a point about me having sex with Will then I'd just like to point out *again* about you and *Faith*!"

Xander spun around "At least I knew Faith for more than six hours!"

"And what about Anya, huh?! What about the fact that she told me and Willow that before you two had even started going out, you'd slept together" Buffy became sarcastic again "Helping her out of the kindness of your heart to get over you by having sex with her"

"Don't you *dare* bring Anya into this!"

"Oh I'm sorry, I thought we were getting personal!"

"Fine! Let's get even more personal. *Parker*. Didn't really work out with him did it! I thought that would have put you off!"

"Well at least he didn't throw me out in the middle of the night in my underwear after he'd got what he wanted!"

"Well *actually* if she hadn't thrown me out, I'd never have known about the damn bomb that you're so interested in!"

"What the *hell* are you talking about!"

"You really want to know what else I did that night after Faith? Do you want to know about the bomb that was in the boiler room of Sunnydale High that I managed to get a zombie to disarm by out-psyching him?!"

//And if we were different people that sentence would have sounded insane//. "What the hell were you doing out-psyching a zombie!"

"Stopping him from blowing up the school! *Which*, I'd just like to point out, if that *had* of happened, the Hellmouth would have stayed open!"

Buffy took a moment to process that. "And you decided not to tell anyone about that because…?"

"Like there was anyway in hell that any of you would have believed me" Xander replied "More likely you would have just patted me on the head and sent me out for more donuts"

"OK. *Now* you've lost me"

"That’s just the thing. You don't realise. Everytime you tell me to stay away, you think you're being kind! But you're not thinking about how it makes me *feel*. You don't care that you make me feel useless!"

Buffy's eyes flashed angrily and she took Xander by surprise by slapping him hard across the face. "You bastard!" she cried, "How can you say that! How can you *stand* there and *say* that to me!".

Buffy sniffed back tears as she hit out at a still stunned-from-the-slap Xander, catching him on the shoulder "How dare you save all that crap up and believe it's true!". She hit him again, tears starting to escape "You liar! Of course I care you stupid idiot! I care about anything that happens to any of my friends! And what am I supposed to do?! Am I supposed to just *let* you get killed because it'd boost your self *esteem*?! Do you have any idea about how much you mean to me-"

"Buff-" Xander reached for her arm but she pushed him away.

"Don't" Buffy let her tears fall. She was upset and she didn't care who knew it. "You're supposed to be my friend! My *best* friend!" she pushed him away again "But you don’t obviously have a clue about anything about me!". She made a move to walk away but Xander caught hold of her arm.

She glared at him through eyes full of salty tears "Just don't Xander" she said before he even spoke. Buffy pried herself out of her grip "I can't believe you can even think any of that!". Buffy began to walk quickly away again and when Xander called after her she began to run.

Xander stared after her in silence. Still not quiet sure what had happened. Only that he had gone too far.

Sean cleared his throat gently. Xander didn’t look at him; he just hung his head. I know" he said simply.

"You'd be an even bigger idiot if you don't go after her"


Buffy breathed in big gulps of air when she reached the rocks that she had been heading towards. //No one tells you how hard it is to run when you're crying//. She heard Xander calling her and guessed he was coming after her so she started to run again. She didn't want to talk to him. Not at the moment. Residual Slayer agility meant she could progress over the slightly rockier terrain easier and Buffy realised that the rocks were a beginning of a cave system.

Without looking back to see where Xander was she took a hard right and darted into one of the caves. Not stopping to see where she was going, she just ran on and on into the darkness, with only faint glimmers of early morning sun stopping her from colliding with the walls.

Buffy tripped when it became too dark and she fell onto her face, only just getting her arms out in time to take the brunt of her fall. But she got to her feet, ignoring the twinge in her ankle and kept going at a slower pace until could no longer hear the echoes of Xander calling her name from outside and until she ran out of breath and until she couldn't see her hands infront of her face. Buffy hugged her arms around herself and sank to her knees on the cold and damp stone floor. Her chest heaved with sobs.

"Why can't I just go home?"


Xander stopped by the rocks. He'd been sure he'd seen Buffy up here but he couldn't see any sign of her now.

"Buffy!" he turned to Sean "Where is she?"

Sean tapped some keys on 'Gizmo' "Keep on straight for another twenty yards then take a right" he said without looking up "First cave you see, just head straight into it"

Xander followed Sean's instructions and stopped about ten feet into the cave. "How am I supposed to find her in here and how come I can see you perfectly well?"

"It's the holographic projection thing" Sean shrugged "I'll explain later. Just follow me and I can take you to her"

Thankfully Sean walked quickly and told him where to watch his step and pretty soon he could hear Buffy. Still crying.

"Buff?" Xander called out softly.

"Go 'way" came echoing back to him.

Xander followed the sound of her voice "Buffy, I'm sorry"

Sean walked up ahead until his little computer told him he was near Buffy. He didn't say anything but just waved his hand to indicate to Xander where she was.

"Buff?" Xander walked up behind her until Sean waved to him to stop and pointed down. Xander knelt and reached out his hand tentatively, his finger grazing Buffy's shaking shoulders.

"I don't… want to talk… to you" Buffy voice was still a little cracked with emotion "Leave me… alone"

Xander drew back his hand "Buffy-". Xander cut short when he found himself being shoved backwards.

"I said *go* away!"

"No!" Xander shot out his hand quickly and grabbed hold of Buffy, managing to get her arm.

"Xander let me go-o" Buffy's tears started again "I want t-to be left a-alone"

Xander pulled her to him even when she kept trying to push him away. He wrapped his arms around her as she finally gave in and started crying on his shoulder.

"I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to-" Xander broke off and sat down on the ground, rocking with Buffy. "I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry" he kept repeating those three words over and over again for what seemed like an age until Buffy's sobs began to subside. He brought one hand up to gently cup the back of her head "Shush"

Buffy drew back a little and Xander dropped his hand. Buffy sniffed delicately "You shouldn't have said those things. You shouldn't have said that I didn't care"

Xander cupped the side of her face, wiping tears he couldn't see off her cheek with his thumb "I know"

Buffy sniffed again "'Cos I do care. A-and I'm sorry that it makes you feel bad, but I can't help that I never want you to get dead or-or scratched even and-and-" she reached up put her hand over the Xander's that he had on her face "You're my best friend. I love you"

"Love you too" Xander leant forward and kissed her softly on her forehead "You're the best friend ever. Joint with Willow"

"I don't want to argue again" Buffy said, "It make me feel horrible"

"No arguing. Promise"

"I'm sorry I hit you"



"Yeah" Xander let his head rest against Buffy's "I should never have said you didn't care"



"Is your ass getting cold too?"

A little laugh from both Buffy and Xander echoed around the walls of the dark cave. Xander began to get to his feet, clutching at Buffy to keep his balance as she did the same with him. "You OK?" Xander asked when he heard a slight hiss of pain from Buffy.

"I tripped before. I think I've just wrung my ankle. Nothing hey… major. Uh Xand? You're carrying me"

"Believe me, I am aware"

"OK. You just made it less sweet"

"Sorry. Uh Sean?" Xander called out into the darkness "You want to get us out of here?"

"Uh actually" Sean appeared "You might want to stay in here for a little while"


"Because the people that want to hurt you are outside"

"Great" Buffy and Xander groaned in unison.

"I would have told you sooner" Sean continued "But you were having a moment"



"Shall we go kick these guy's butts?"

"With you all the way Buffy"

"You might want to put me down then" Buffy suggested "If we *both* want to look all manly, you don't really want to be seen carrying me"

Xander let Buffy's feet drop to the floor. "Forgot you were a guy"

Buffy clutched at his arm as they began to make their way out of the cave using Sean as a guide. "I'm just glad I didn't have to worry about suddenly getting a penis"

"…OK" Xander said "That's my second scary visual for the day"

Buffy laughed "What was the other one?"

"Sean and a whip"

"I'm not going to ask" Buffy smiled. She blinked a little when the cave became more visible, the morning sunlight filtering in and glancing off the rock. "How far out of the cave are they Sean?"

"Wait here" Sean disappeared for a few moments then came back "They've actually tracked you as far as here" he told them "I think they were planning on waiting you out. They look pretty determined"

"OK. Determined. We can deal with that" Xander said, "We do have one thing they don't"

Buffy looked up at him "We do?"

"Yup. The power to talk ourselves out of anything"

Sean raised an eyebrow "You think that'd work?"

"Only one way to find out" Buffy said, letting go of Xander's arm and heading towards the light.

Xander turned to Sean "We'll be outta here in no time". Xander hurried after Buffy. "You gonna be OK with that hobble?" he asked her.

"I thought we were gonna let your mouth do the fighting" Buffy said, "My hobble shouldn't be an issue"

"Just checking" Xander raised an arm to shield his eyes as the full brunt of mid-morning sun hit him in the face "Man, how long were in there?". Xander lowered his arm and blinked a couple of times to let his eyes adjust to the light. "OK. I don't see Mr The Psycho"

Buffy looked around "Yoo hoo!" she called out "Any escaped prisoners here?!"

Xander looked at her "I was going to suggest making a run for it if we couldn't see them"

Buffy grinned sheepishly "Oops"

"Well lookie if it isn't the Squire brothers" a deep voice boomed out.

Both Buffy and Xander's attention was drawn to the man who emerged from the undergrowth. Another man came from behind him. Both of them dressed the same as Buffy and Xander in blue prison uniforms.

The first man was tall and thin. His blonde hair was slicked back and sharp eyes glared at them both from behind thin, steel rimmed glasses.

The second man was short and stocky. He had dark hair and a bulldog face. Bushy black eyebrows protruded over thick, round, black rimmed glasses.

As they stood side by side, Buffy had to bite her bottom lip to stop from laughing. "OK. I've forgotten" she said, managing to keep her face straight "Which one of you is supposed to be The Psycho?"

Sean pointed out that it was the shorter man, who stepped forward anyway. "This ain't no laughing matter Squire" Harry 'The Psycho' Viniski said "You two got us beat up good by the guards. To me, that ain't funny"

Buffy burst out laughing and Xander gave her an odd look. "Uhh… you OK?" he asked, glancing at the other two men "'Cos I think it might help if you stopped with the laughing"

"I'm sorry" Buffy giggled "But, look at them" She tried to compose herself "They look like Herr Flick and Von Smallhousen. How am I supposed to be scared by them?"

Xander glanced back at the other two men, who were thankfully looking puzzled by Buffy's laughter rather than murderous, before looking back to Buffy. "I'm sorry, who?"

"You should really raid Giles' video collection when we get back" Buffy said, finally controlling her laughter. She looked back to the other men who were back to looking murderous again "OK guys. We should be adult about this. Just sit down and talk this out like real men"

"Exactly" Xander continued "For instance, why do they call you The Psycho? Is it something you made up to make yourself sound tough?"

"He rips peoples arms off" the other man supplied "It tends to frighten people into calling him psychotic"

Buffy looked at him scornfully "Is that it?" she looked up at Xander "Ripping peoples arms off doesn't seem that frightening to me"

"I've heard of scarier things" Xander replied. He looked back to Harry and Ian "Scary is seeing some guy about to suck the world into hell"

"Oh for crying out loud…" Sean rolled his eyes "We're doing this again are we?"

"Scary is having a guy turn into a sixty foot giant demon snake that wants to rule the world" Buffy said chirpily "And then having him chase you"

"Scary is watching Spike put Weetabix into blood for added texture"

"Scary is-"

"Are you two on drugs?" Ian cut Buffy off.

"Unfortunately not" Xander replied "If we were, you'd probably look a lot prettier. Say are we gonna fight or not? Because you haven't done a lot of moving towards us and I'd really like to see someone try and pull my arms off"

"Yeah, you can't really reach us to do that from where you are" Buffy added "Are you scared of *us* or something?"

Xander looked at Buffy "Do you wanna get out of here?"

Buffy shrugged "Sure". They both began to walk off when finally Harry and Ian made a move towards them.

Harry grabbed hold of Xander's arm, pulling him away from Buffy. Xander quickly realised that the stockiness of Harry wasn't fat, but quite a lot of muscle. Harry landed a blow to Xander's stomach and he went down, double over on the ground in pain.

Ian threw Buffy to the side. She grimaced when she saw Xander get hit, but her attention was quickly drawn away when Ian grabbed hold of the front of her shirt and hauled her up close to him. "You aren't walking away from this" he snarled "You both got this coming to ya"

Buffy brought her knee up to his groin, hard "Tell someone who cares"

Meanwhile, as he was on the ground, Xander lashed out with his legs, crashing them hard into Harry's shins, making the other and growl in pain but not making him fall. "OK, so you're more solid than I thought" Xander said as he managed to dodge one of Harry's fists "Maybe I should just follow Buff's example" Xander lashed out with his foot into Harry's crotch "I can play dirty"

As Harry fell back clutching at his crotch, Xander scrambled to his feet and pulled Ian away from Buffy as he went to attack her again. He landed a punch on Ian's jaw and quickly followed it up with a high kick to the other man's stomach. Xander grabbed hold of Buffy's arm. "I think we should do that running thing now"

"Good idea" Buffy agreed and she and Xander began racing back down through the tress that Sean happily pointed them towards.

Branches snapped against them as they barrelled through the trees. Buffy ignored the pain in her ankle as she followed after Xander. That was until she tripped and fell into the dirt.

Xander skidded to a stop and grabbed hold of her arm, hoisting her to her feet "C'mere" he said, grabbing her around her waist and flipping her onto his shoulder and trying not to notice that they were being caught "Just hold on tight"

Xander headed off again, albeit slower. He could hear the other men closing up behind him, their taunts and threats getting louder and then suddenly the sound of a gun shot came from behind them.


"I'm fine. We're fine. No bleeding. Keep going"

"Sean said *nothing* about *guns*"

"I didn't *know*!" Sean called up to them from the bottom of the hill Xander was now running down "They must have taken them from the guards. The damn computer never said anything. I'll check how many bullets they have! Just keep going!"

"Do I look like Shwarzenegger? Do I *look* like the only guy who can get shot at from behind and not get hit?"

Buffy managed to push herself up a little, lifting her head and trying to see if she could spot the two men behind them. She swore when she realised how close they were and also that Ian was raising the gun again. "Get down!" she cried out to Xander.

Xander fell to the floor as the second shot rang out through the tress. He twisted so he didn't land on Buffy. He grunted with pain when his ribs came into contact with a fallen tree branch "God damn"

Buffy scrambled to her feet, clutching at his arm trying to pull him to his feet "Xan, come on!"

Wincing in pain, Xander pushed himself to his feet, stumbling a little as he tried to avoid the branch he'd just fallen on. This time he let Buffy try and lead them through the trees, realising every second that they were being caught. His bruised and possibly broken ribs and Buffy's damaged ankle becoming evermore the hindrance in their escape.

To prove this, Buffy stumbled again. Xander managed to grab her before she fell but it meant that Harry and Ian were now on top of them. It was pointless trying to keep on running. Xander held one hand to his ribs as he tried to control his breathing enough so it didn’t hurt and the other was possessively clutching Buffy's upper arm.

Buffy glared steely-eyed at them "Took you long enough to catch up". She didn’t flinch when Ian raised the gun at them both "I told you I don't *know* where the British Airmen are"

"Huh?" Ian lost his concentration for just one second, puzzled by Buffy's sentence.

Xander took the opportunity and immediately kicked the gun out of his hand and Buffy dove for it, getting it before Harry and quickly aiming it at his head.

"Don't even try me" she said coldly, getting to her feet, holding the gun with both hands "I've taken care of bigger guys than you without even batting an eyelid"

"Just hold fast you two" Sean said "The cops who were after you heard the gunshots and they're on their way up here"

Ian took a step closer to Buffy and she waved him back with the gun. He didn't move. "I know there's only one bullet left in there" he sneered "How d you think you're going to hold us both off?"

Xander stepped up to Ian and went eye to eye with him "Well, if I beat one of you unconscious" he smiled thinly "It won't matter, will it"

"You're gonna beat one of us with broken ribs are ya?" Harry smirked "I'd love to see-" Harry stopped talking when Xander's fist hit his jaw.

Xander looked down at him "Looks like"

"So what?" Ian said "We just stand here until we die of old age?"

"No" a voice came from their left "You drop the weapon and put your hands in the air"

They all looked to their left where two brown uniformed Police officers with rifles pointed at them.

Xander glanced at Buffy "Guess we're outta here huh?"

Buffy dropped the gun "Not soon enough for my taste"

They both turned around and raised their hands in the air.

Then they leapt.


The first thing that Buffy noticed was the smell. The horrible, stinky, rotting smell of vast amounts of people's rubbish. "Ugh… God… please send me back to the trees and the men with the guns and *ewwwww*" Buffy didn't want to know what she'd just put her hand in.

"I will second that" Xander said as he sat up beside her "And throw in a large "yyuccckkk*" he shook something gooey off his hand.

They were outside and it was almost pitch black. They were sitting on some kind of hill; a pile of something Buffy really didn't want to think about at the moment. She looked up and failed to see any stars. The only twinkling lights she could see were the ones from the big buildings in the distance. She looked to Xander, whose face she could just make out in what moonlight there was "OK. I'm guessing we're sitting on a big pile of garbage, yeah?"

"I'll go with you on that one" Xander replied "And now I just want to *go*" he managed to steady himself on his feet "I've been here one minute and I'm ready to pass out right now" he helped Buffy up "I think there's some kind of building down there"

"Please let it have kind and friendly people who will offer us a shower" Buffy followed carefully after him "I just want to soak in bubbles for the next three days"

Xander stepped off the pile and onto more solid ground "I don't think it comes equipped with even a shower" Xander said "It's looks like it's only a step up from our lovely summer retreat we spent last night in"

Buffy wiped her hand on her clothes "Oh yay"

Xander began to walk over to the building "C'mon" he called over his shoulder "Maybe this one'll have running water"

Buffy jogged up to his side, hugging the thin jacket she was wearing closer around her "We can only hope"

Xander grinned at her "If we're doing that, can I hope they have pizza?"

Buffy grinned back "With *lots* of cheese". Her smile faded a little bit as they got nearer to the small brick building. She squinted at the sign on the wall by the door. "Um… Xander?"

"Yeah?" he looked to where she was pointing "Uh… does that say what I think it does?"

"If you see the sign that says City of London" Buffy replied "Then, yeah"

They exchanged surprised looks "Oh boy"


Read the next episode "So Close"

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