Good idea: accompanying your 115-lb-soaking-wet BFF to track down the vehicle whose drivers turned your other BFF invisible and potentially-splooshy if a certain traffic-cone is anything to judge by.
Bad idea: somehow failing to extrapolate that invisible potentially-splooshy BFF just might mean invisible not-so-splooshy bad guys.
Problematic idea: talking your way out of a kidnap situation with duct tape over your mouth. Thank God his Scoobying kids couldn't see him now...
"Mrrrph?" Xander tried, when however many of them had Willow -- he
thought he counted two voices but that didn't mean there weren't more -- had hustled her out the door, leaving him alone with just one guard. One not-exactly-huge, now-visible, and strangely familiar guard. He raised his eyebrows and tried to look both harmless, and like he possessed valuable information that only he could impart. Or alternatively like he had the ability to blow up his kidnapper with only his mind; that would work too.
Andrew was In Charge. Of The Prisoner. He took that very seriously. Capital letters seriously, even. He folded his arms and tried to look tough. And taller. Maybe if he spiked his hair like Warren, he'd look taller? Although Badger was only 5'3" and he didn't have any trouble looking tough.
Andrew wished he had retractable claws and an adamantium skeleton.
He gave the Slayer's cohort his best evil glare. He was a Villain. Nay, a Supervillain. He'd fear no defeated foe. Especially one that was tied up and gagged and didn't have any superpowers, as far as he knew.
Or alternatively, Xander kind of wished any or all of his Scoobying students were here. Zero and her mallet, for instance, that would be cool.
He did the eyebrow-wiggle thing again, but with more intensity this time, and focused his gaze in on his captor's face. Which really was... really, really familiar. Xander tried to place the features, then with a start and a widening of his eyes, realized that if he gave it longer hair, things fell oddly into place.
Andrew eyed his captive suspiciously. Were the odd facial movements and weird vocalizations the preliminary aspects of some heretofore unknown deadly superpower?
Or was his helpless captive struggling to catch a breath?
Andrew pondered his options. If he removed the tape and the captive escaped, Warren would be really pissed. But if he didn't do anything and the captive died, Jonathan would be pissed.
He weighed his options, and decided to risk removing the tape.
Realizing he could, Xander vocalized that. Followed by, "Andrew?"
Andrew wanted to fold his arms dramatically, but since they were already folded he had to settle for a sudden intake of breath and puffing up his chest.
"How do you know my name?" he demanded.
A partial truth is better than a complete one when the complete one would sound completely crazy, right? Xander put on his best 'Duh...' face. "Um. We went to high school together?"
"Oh!" Andrew said. "You remember me?"
Yes, but again with the why being not so sensemakey. What was it he was supposed to be remembering the guy for? Prom, right. "You called up hel--" CRAP, no. That was his brother. "--llp for the Romeo and Juliet production in the form of flying monkey demons, right? Boy, I wish you'd been around when we did Midsummer Night's Dream."
Andrew grinned. "That was pretty cool, huh?"
And again with the crap; Xander hoped his complete lack of...remotely
knowing how cool it had or hadn't been wasn't plastered all over his
face, but he suspected it was.
"Uh... sure. Yeah. In a...misguided and slightly evil way?" Xander
shook his head. "But what's up with this? I thought you turned
away from the uh, dim side, after that and made your big jump into
being a good guy."
Andrew deflated slightly. "I think you're thinking of someone else."
He wasn't, though. "Andrew Wells. Your brother was into hellhounds but
you did flying monkeys because more fun and less with the tearing
people to bits. You think the greatest crime ever perpetrated on the
people of the world is that Mister What only comes one DVD per
episode, not in box sets, which admittedly I kind of agree with
because whoa overpriced thus the skippage of that and the hitting of
IRC for high-res avis."
Andrew narrowed his eyes at Xander. "Who are you really? How do you
know this stuff?"
And now Xander was back to being glad none of his Scoobying campers were here, because 'establish a sense of cameraderie with the kidnapper' /= tell him stuff about himself an almost-stranger couldn't possibly know unless you'd been stalking him or... Xander sighed, because crazy-sounding-but-harmless was probably better than too-dangerous-to-untie.
"You told me. Over coffee and scones. In London."
"No, I didn't."
"Well, no, you didn't, but you will. In... um." It'd been six years in the future for Xander back then, but now it was...uh. Duct tape? Not conducive to doing math. "A while. A couple years. Except not you, just a you. There was this whole..." Duct tape? Not conducive to the kind of vague flaily hand gestures necessary to properly explain Fandom High, either. "The school they sent me off to was a little different."
"Like an alternate dimension?" Andrew asked, curiosity overcoming his
Xander nodded, then paused. "Yeah, but more like a... dimensional nexus, I think?" Not that he had a clue if the phrase actually meant anything in any science that didn't have the word 'fiction' right after it. "Like, people from lots of different universes seemed to show up there."
"How did you know they were from different universes?" Andrew asked eagerly.
"Well, the multiple Buffys might've been a clue," Xander answered with a snort. "Plus the shapechanging kid, the green kid, the ones who rode brooms, the girl with wings, and oh yeah, my boyfriend's Earth had a space colony in 1999. You know. The little things."
"You have a boyfriend?" Andrew asked without thinking.
Xander blinked. "At the time. Not so much now."
"So you're -" Andrew made a vague hand gesture.
Again, Xander blinked. "A shadowpuppet squid?"
"Gay!" Andrew exclaimed, then looked around to see if anyone had overheard him saying That Word.
"Oh." Xander shrugged, as well as he could with his hands taped behind him. "Ish? I mean, the power of Shakira's hips still compels me."
"You can do that?" Andrew asked. "Be, uh, 'ish'?"
"You only get half a toaster oven," answered Xander, not without sympathy, starting to remember that there were other reasons besides the flying monkeys why he'd spent three quarters of that future conversation facepalming. "But it's the bagel-grilling part, so it's not all bad."
Andrew frowned in confusion as he tried to parse the reference.
"Recruiting bonus," Xander explained, wondering if this conversation was starting to qualify as Stockholm Syndrome. "Which I'm not. We are having an enrollment drive for team Not Evil, though. For every Xander you let go, you get fifty karma points and a really good shot at working for the Council of Watchers in a few years."
"I can't let you go," Andrew pointed out. "I'm a supervillain."
Xander glanced around the lair of said supervillain, which okay did have some spiffy-looking electronic toys scattered around, but was still pretty basementlike. "Yeah? How's that working out for ya? Because no offense, you guys are rockin' the beanbag decor, but last time I saw the good guy version of you, they'd left you in charge of the entire London headquarters of the Watcher's Council. I'm just sayin'."
Gloss gloss glossity gloss over the part where Andrew was alone and had gotten yelled at for letting them in, so odds were he'd been in charge only because there wasn't anybody else around to do it.
"Did we conquer them?" Andrew asked hopefully.
If it weren't for the bad case of duct tapeage, Xander would be facepalming right now. "You joined them."
"Did Warren and Jonathan join them too?" Andrew asked. "Are they heads of other branches?"
Jonathan? That Jonathan? Xander replayed his memory of the invisible voices who'd shepherded Willow away, and realized Andrew wasn't the only one he'd recognised. The hell? Last time I saw him he was pouring punch at the graduation party. He shook his head, trying to clear it. "You got me. I didn't even get the details on how you joined up. But you did say you used to be evil, then you changed your ways. I kind of just assumed you meant after the monkeys thing."
"Was I working for redemption?" Andrew asked.
"You did mention something about that, yeah."
"Cool!" Andrew said.
"Does seem to be all the rage these days," Xander said, and was a bit surprised that the sarcasm wasn't dialed up to 11 there. Faith and Angel - more than one Angel, even - seemed to be making a go of it, after all. "So whaddya say we get started with that now?" He shifted in his bonds. "No time like the present, right?"
Andrew considered this, then shook his head. "I can't let you go."
"Why not? If you're worried about your buddies, you could always just
tell them I , uh. Overpowered you?"
"They're not the boss of me!" Andrew said. Although Warren would be pissed if Andrew let Xander go. "But I shouldn't try to change my destiny. I need to be evil for a while. Otherwise, the redemption wouldn't really count."
"..." Xander stared at him for a moment. "No seriously, you just said that? You haven't been evil enough to turn good yet?"
Andrew shrugged. "Yeah."
"You do realize we're not actually in a comic book, right?" Okay, sarcasm needle moving back up the meter to natural levels. "Nobody's gonna be sending in letters to the editor about your redemption arc paying off too soon, here."
"If I change now, it's not redemption," Andrew said. "It's just me giving up. I don't wanna give up yet. I could be good at this!"
Again with the staring. Also the doubting, but Xander was keeping that part to himself for the moment. "Good at being evil?"
"Yeah!" Andrew said. "Warren says I've got a lot of potential."
"Coming from a guy whose biggest evil so far is building himself a robot girlfriend and forgetting to include an off-switch--" Xander finally placed the second name, now that the WTF of hearing Jonathan's had faded. "--that says a lot."
Andrew glared at him. "Warren's an evil genius. He's just biding his time."
"Until what - one of your wacky stunts goes wrong and kills somebody?" Xander shot back. "Like, say, my invisible friend who's gonna turn to mush if nobody puts her back the way she was?"
"We're not killing anyone!" Andrew insisted. "Warren's fixing her!"
"Nobody should need to be fixing her," Xander snapped in frustration. Not that some part of him wasn't relieved to hear it, though he'd be more relieved to see her himself and verify that it was true. He sighed and yet again wished for the precious ability to facepalm. "I don't even know if I should be pointing out the places where that misses the genius mark or just stick with Evil: It's Not Cool, Mm'kay."
"There might be a few bugs," Andrew admitted reluctantly. "But when did you ever build an invisibility ray?" He ignored the part about evil not being cool, 'cause it clearly was. Andrew knew he was way cooler now than he had been before. He'd take supervillain over plain old "Tucker's brother" any day of the week.
"I think I was sick the week they covered that in shop. I built a swing for a holographic dinosaur, though."
"Why would a hologram need a swing?" Andrew asked.
"Hard-light hologram," Xander answered, almost like he remotely knew what that meant besides 'the things in the Danger Shop actually could hurt you if it goes crazy.'
"Oh," Andrew said, as if he understood what that was. Which he kinda did. He'd read an article in Scientific American about the potential of holograms, but he couldn't remember the details now. "Neat!"
"And completely Evil-free," Xander pointed out. "Well, except for the time the control box went haywire and sent robots to kill us. But we worked together and kicked their shiny metal hard-light asses."
Andrew eyed Xander warily. "Really."
Xander nodded. "Yeah, the Shop students fought them until two of us made it to the control box and shut it down. By which I mean two of us who were not me, though John Crichton and I did knock a few out with manly handholding. And I shot flaming twinkies at them."
"You're making all this up," Andrew said in disappointment. "You've never been to an alternate dimension."
"The green kid doesn't faze you, but the flaming twinkies mean I'm lying?" Xander shook his head. "I'm not making it up; I couldn't come up with stuff that wacky if I tried." Though there'd been times he might've convinced himself he dreamed it, if it weren't for the things he'd brought back with him.
"Flaming twinkies are just silly," Andrew scoffed.
"Well, true, but they worked." Xander shrugged. "What would convince you? I mean I've got pictures and voicemails on my phone dated 2006, and hell, it makes twinkies." Not that he was really all that jazzed about the idea of Andrew reaching into his pocket for the phone...
"Phones make twinkies in the future?" Andrew asked.
"Just mine. The boyfriend kind of had a way with electronics. My computer makes Hershey's Kisses too." Something about that made Xander's head ping, but he couldn't think wha-- "Oh! I've got all three Space Battles prequels on my laptop." His face fell. "Which... isn't here."
Andrew's eyes widened. "Not here now or not here in this dimension?"
"Not here now. It's back at my apartment." Xander eyed him. "I could, y'know. Give them to you. If you let me go. As long as you promise not to release 'em into the wild. Dropping Z-Cases spoilers a few months in advance is one thing, but I'm really not into blowing up reality."
If Andrew's eyes got any wider, they'd pop out of his skull. "You have Z-Cases spoilers too?"
Xander's on the other hand, narrowed. "So it's already out there that the Magic Bullet Guys are gonna be in four more episodes, right?"
"What I didn't say yet was that the third one is their last appearance alive."
Andrew's jaw dropped. "Nu-uh! Really? How? Where? Why?"
"There's this ho--" Xander stopped himself before he actually needed to regret not being able to facepalm, this time. He just closed his mouth, and glanced significantly down at his bound arms, then up at Andrew.
Andrew considered this. "If I let you go, you have to tell me everything. And bring back the Space Battles prequels, right away."
"Or I could just send you the files," Xander answered immediately. "There's this whole thing where the internets are faster than my car."
The sad thing? He would. There was such a thing as Honor Among Geeks, after all. Of course, he'd also tell Buffy where to find said geeks, assuming she hadn't already kicked their invisible asses. He wasn't saying that part out loud, though.
Andrew weighed his options. Warren would be pissed if he let the prisoner go - but both Warren and Jonathan would certainly forgive him once they knew what he'd gotten for a ransom! "How do I know you'll really do it?" Andrew asked warily.
At a loss for a second, because it wasn't like he could prove any of it was true, from here, Xander finally gave the only answer he had: "Because I'm one of the good guys."
Andrew frowned. "But I'm one of the bad guys. You could break your promises to me and still be a good guy."
Xander frowned. "That's not how it works." If he'd had to make promises he couldn't actually keep and stay a good guy, that'd be a different story, granted.
"You have to swear on it," Andrew decided.
...because if he was going to lie about it, swearing would make all the difference? Xander sighed. "I swear."
"You have to swear by something," Andrew insisted. "Like, 'If I am lying, may the power of Lucas strike me where I stand.' Er, sit."
"You clearly haven't heard the dialogue in Episode II yet." Xander shook his head. "Fine. If I'm lying, may my Tev'Meckian Dictionary burst into flames."
Andrew nodded solemnly and cut Xander free.
...I couldn't tell you where he is*, because he and his wanna-be supervillain friends skedaddled before we could catch them, but after yesterday afternoon I can state for a fact that he really did get better with age. Also, possibly at some point between me-now and you-then he's had actual sex, though I wouldn't bet my Tev'Meckian dictionary on it.
Which by the way did not burst into flame today, Bridge. Just thought you should know.
Also there's Hannukah which is so very not connected except for the flames, because there was menorah-lighting at the Rosenbergs' tonight, so happy that, Bridge, and Merry-In-Advance, Parker, and yeah.
*Though I do have his e-mail address. Wonder if Willow could do some kind of tracey-tracky thing? Hmm. Also yes, my e-mails still have footnotes WTF.