Author: Chris Cook
"I've done it!"
Xander poked his head out of his room, to see Willow in a lab coat dancing her patented spaz-dance.
"I've built a horse!" Willow proclaimed proudly. Tara appeared from the bedroom she shared with Willow.
"Where is it?" she asked, looking around and failing to see a horse.
"Oh, I put it in the kitchen to keep it out of the way," Willow shrugged. Xander opened the kitchen door, admitting the sound of hooves on linoleum flooring, and went in for a closer look.
"What did you build a horse for, sweetie?" Tara asked.
"What's wrong with horses?" Willow countered.
"Nothing," Tara smiled. "It's just that normally you're a bit... well, anti-horse. Opposed to the presence of horses. Inclined not to be around horses. If you get what I mean."
"Oh, yep. True," Willow acknowledged. "But I thought when I woke up this morning, what if my anti-horse-ness has been keeping me from seeing the desperate need the world has for manufactured horses? So I got out the old Junior Frankenstein kit and a My Little Pony DVD for reference, and built one, just in case."
Tara shook her head fondly, and kissed Willow.
"You're very, very strange, and I love you."
Willow's response was forestalled by a very loud 'chomp' from the kitchen, and Xander's reappearance at the door.
"Will, I've found a problem with your horse," he announced, looking pale. He stepped into the room, revealing the tattered end of his left sleeve, which was lacking its usual filling of arm.
"Oh my god!" Tara cried. "Where are the band-aids?!"
"Kitchen," Xander said distractedly, possibly from loss of blood. "I'll get 'em..." He ducked back into the kitchen, there was another 'chomp,' and he reappeared with a box of band-aids in his mouth, but minus his right arm as well.
"'At 'asn't..." He paused while Tara took the box out of his mouth. "That wasn't very smart, was it?" Tara shook her head and started applying band-aids.
Ten Minutes Later...
"Alright," Tara said, satisfied with her work. "That's about the best I can do. Without, you know... getting your arms back."
Xander looked at the stumps of his shoulders, covered in band-aids, and shrugged.
"I've had worse."
"I'll handle this," Willow said, emerging from the bedroom in full African safari gear, with an enormous tranquilliser rifle. She stalked to the kitchen, threw open the door, and deflated.
"It's escaped," Tara said, peering over her shoulder.
"Drat," Willow sighed. "This's probably going to put our council rates up, too. Wait! I know how we can track it!" She handed Xander the rifle, picked it up off the floor, handed it to Tara instead, and dashed into her laboratory.
Fifteen Minutes Later...
"Behold!" Willow exclaimed, reappearing with a tiny black and white kitten in her arms.
"Miss Kitty?" Tara asked.
"Actually no," Willow grinned, as the real Miss Kitty sauntered out of the lab behind her, exchanged a confused glance with her double in Willow's arms, and headed off in search of her food bowl.
"This is Miss Kitty Mark II," Willow explained, fitting a leash to the duplicate kitten.
"You cloned Miss Kitty?" Xander asked. "Not that I mind cats, but how is that going to help?"
"I spliced her DNA with a bloodhound and a cheetah," Willow said proudly. "She's got the tracking skills to find our runaway horse five counties away, and the speed and stamina to chase it down!" She put Miss Kitty II down and pulled the trio's three-seater bicycle into the room.
"C'mon everyone, we're going horse-hunting!"
Five Minutes Later, Outside...
"Okay," Willow said, attaching a horseshoe to the end of a fishing rod. "I don't have anything the horse actually used, or sat on, or wore, but I was going to upgrade its shoes to these, so in theory Miss Kitty II might be able to use this to track it..."
"Which theory is that, sweetie?" Tara asked.
"Uh... lack of any better ideas on my part?" Willow grinned sheepishly. "I used a lot of bloodhound DNA, that's got to count for something..."
"You know, balancing here isn't as easy as it looks," Xander prompted from the back seat of the bicycle.
"Okay, let's get going," Willow nodded. "C'mon Miss Kitty II... find the horsie... c'mon..." She used the fishing rod to manoeuvre the horseshoe into proximity to the kitten, stationed ahead of the bicycle on the end of her leash.
"She's getting the almost-scent," Willow said proudly. Miss Kitty II sniffed the horseshoe, looked around keenly, then took off like a rocket, dragging the bicycle along behind her.
"I'm guessing," Tara yelped, between hanging on and keeping Xander from falling off, "you used... a lot of cheetah DNA... too?!"
"Apparently!" Willow shouted back, as they hit the motorway and began overtaking speeding cars.
One Under-cranked Camera Scene Later...
"I think we're close," Willow mused.
"Just as well," Xander observed. "Looks like Miss Kitty II's had enough for today." The kitten had curled up in a ball and refused to be moved.
"She's just having a cat-nap," Tara said, examining her. "Natural enough, after all that exercise."
"So, so far," Willow went on, "the horse has eaten both of Xander's arms..." She looked back at the trail of devastation behind them. "...the entire Worcestershire Arms hotel... the lead in a local theatre production of Farewell to Arms... and... oh, nuts!" she exclaimed, looking up.
"What is it?" Tara asked.
"It ate the word 'arms' from the story title!" Willow yelled in dismay. "That's the last straw! Anyway, clearly there's a pattern."
"I think it's hiding around here somewhere," Tara said, looking around the suspiciously backlot-like street. "Miss Kitty II's refusing to move. How do we find it?"
"Aha!" Xander interrupted, striking a pose which suggested he'd have been holding a finger triumphantly up in the air, if he'd had any. "I know just what to do! Wait here..."
"What do you think he's up to?" Willow wondered, as he scampered off towards a department store.
"I have no idea," Tara shrugged. "But Willow... next time you build something-"
"-I'll do a spectral analysis to see if it's evil and arm-bitey before I switch its brain on, yes," Willow nodded repentantly. "But Miss Kitty II turned out okay."
"That's true," Tara acknowledged, picking up the sleeping kitten and cuddling her. "And I'm sure Miss Kitty will like having a friend to keep her company."
"Would she still be Miss Kitty, or would she be Miss Kitty I now?" Willow wondered.
"I think she's happy being Miss Kitty. It's never seemed to upset her."
"Fair enough, Miss Kitty is it."
"Behold!" Xander announced, striding back down the street. Willow and Tara turned to look at him, and simultaneously broke out in coughing fits.
"What?" he asked.
"Why... are you... in drag?" Tara gasped.
"I had a brainwave," Xander said proudly. "Why go looking for the horse, when we can make the horse go looking for us?"
"Ah," Tara nodded sagely. "Willow?" she asked in a quiet aside.
"No, I have no idea," Willow shook her head. "Xander? More info?"
"Which is precisely why you keep me around," Xander smiled, "for my precise application of logic that escapes other minds. To whit: how do you get something to come to you? You lure it. What would be likely to attract a horse?"
"Um, apples?" Tara suggested.
"Sugar licks?" Willow added.
"I'm still not seeing the connection to you in drag," Willow pointed out. Xander twirled around and curtsied.
"Catherine the Great!" he announced, indicating himself.
"Wha- oh! Xander!" Willow exclaimed, looking for something to throw.
"Ew," Tara shook her head. "And not historically valid in any case."
"And did she mention ew?!"
"It's worth mentioning again," Tara allowed. "Xander!"
"What? It was the best idea I could come up with," he protested.
"You're not even dressed like Catherine the Great," Willow pointed out. "You're wearing a boob tube and a cheerleader skirt. Which by the way? Don't ever do this again!"
"The store didn't have any old-fashioned Russian stuff," Xander pointed out. "But I reasoned thusly: if Catherine the Great were alive today, she wouldn't be wearing old-fashioned Russian stuff, so if the horse saw me in old-fashioned Russian stuff-"
"I don't believe this," Tara lamented.
"-it'd know I wasn't really Catherine the... why are you looking at me like that?"
"You have the strangest way of applying logic," Willow told him.
"This isn't getting us anywhere," Tara pointed out. "How are we going to find the horse?"
"I told you," Xander replied, "I'll-"
"No," Tara said levelly. "And your skirt's riding up, pull the hem down would you? Mentally scarred for life," she noted quietly to Willow.
"Uh-huh," she agreed. "Okay, we'll split up and search the old-fashioned way."
"With lanterns?" Tara suggested. At the blank stares from Willow and Xander, she elaborated: "Because they're old-fashioned... so that's how people would've searched... back then...?"
Willow leaned over and gave her a kiss.
"See earlier comment re: strange, and love you," she grinned. "Okay, here's a plan. We split up and search. Whoever finds the horse keeps his or her arms out of its reach - actually that could be just 'her arms,' that doesn't really apply to Xander in his current condition, sorry Xander-"
"-and calls the rest of us. We surround the horse. Xander, you make a feint from the left so it thinks you're going to tackle it."
"Uh, Will? Tackling, no arms?" Xander asked.
"It's just a diversionary tactic. And I happen to know the horse isn't very smart, so it'll work."
"How do you know that?" Tara wondered.
" I hadn't quite finished it, about two-thirds of its brain is still in the fridge at home. So, the plan. Xander's tackle... I mean, Xander attempts to tackle the horse... Xander for god's sake stop your skirt riding up... and it'll move away from him, towards me. I'll be standing on the right of it, y'see. And it'll see me, and not having time to think things through, it'll try to bite my arm off as an instinctive reaction."
"Um... Willow," Tara said nervously, "I like you with both arms."
"Not to worry," Willow beamed, reaching into her handbag. She pulled out a full suit of plate armour, detached the arm, stuffed the rest of the armour back into her handbag, and set about armouring her arm.
"There we go, armoured arm," she said proudly. "Two arms for the price of one, there's no way Mister Arm-bitey Horse will be able to resist it. And once it's clamped its nasty arm-biting jaws onto my arm, Tara will put the reins of it, we'll lead it back home, and we can get to work solving the whole, y'know... problem with it, with the biting off of arms."
"How did you fit a whole suit of armour in your handbag?" Xander wondered.
"Oh, it wasn't in my handbag," Willow explained cheerfully. "It was in a big trunk. The trunk was squeezed into a climb-Everest-size backpack, which just fit inside a suitcase, which I packed into a normal backpack, which scrunched up just enough to get into a shopping bag, which is in my handbag."
"But... that doesn't make any sense. Spatially, I mean."
Willow's handbag promptly exploded, scattering the remains of a shopping bag, two backpacks, a suitcase, a trunk, and the suit of armour, all over the street.
"It was doing fine until you pointed it out," Willow muttered darkly. "Come on. Horse-catching time is now."
One Brief Search Later...
As it happened, Xander located the horse in the next street over, munching contentedly on an Armani suit, and summoned Willow and Tara.
"That's just pushing the joke too far," Willow grumbled. "Okay, Xander, in position for feinting..."
"Should I wear a corset for that?"
"Har-de-har. Tara, ready with the reins. Me, prepare for arm-biting. Horse, uh, try not to get creative. Okay. Three... two... one... go!"
Several seconds of confused action followed, culminating in a metallic-sounding 'chomp' and a cry of victory from Willow.
"Gotcha! Tara, reins! Good. Phew," she breathed, "everything back under control."
"Uh, Will? My arms?" Xander asked.
"Righty-o. C'mon horsey, back home for some exploratory surgery."
One Unorthodox Operation Later...
Tara sat on the couch in the living room, reading a script of 'Farewell to Arms' that the actor had evidently been reading while being eaten, and petting Miss Kitty on her lap, while Miss Kitty II lay draped over her shoulder, still fast asleep. She looked up as Willow and Xander emerged from the laboratory, the former smiling triumphantly, the latter with the usual number of arms.
"All taken care of," Willow announced proudly. "Nerves all reconnected and everything... Couple of false starts, but we've got all the bugs worked out, essentially."
"How's the horse?" Tara asked.
"Still trying to eat arms," Willow admitted. "But I've thought of a solution. There were a few spare arms in there - evidently that eating spree it went on was more expansive that we thought - so I hooked one of them up to the cloning apparatus, and the automatic feed dispenser in the stables."
"We have stables?"
"We do now," Willow nodded. "And it'll grow a new arm and feed it to horsey whenever needed, so no more worries on the arm-biting front." She pulled off her lab coat and sat down next to Tara, idly stroking her pussy-
"Wait, what?" Xander asked.
-idly stroking Miss Kitty, in Tara's lap.
"How are the arms working, Xander?" Tara asked.
"Fine, good as new," he replied, stretching. "First try I ended up with one with excess body hair. And nail-polish. Not a good combination. But I'm pretty sure these are mine."
"Oh, good," Tara nodded. "So... are you going to stop wearing that boob tube?"