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Out of the Frying Pan

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Out of the Frying Pan
by Lucinda

Everything had gone crazy after that Lilah woman had decided to take a personal interest in Angel's destruction. Fred didn't know what had sparked it, or quite when the woman had become obsessed, and she couldn't really spare the time to care. Wesley was dead. Gunn and Cordelia were both in the hospital, possibly dying. Angel had gone out, growling about Lilah, and how she had to be stopped.

Fred was terrified. It was only a matter of time before Lilah's hired goons came here again, until she ended up with worse than the black eye, cracked ribs and sprained wrist that she'd got fighting off the last goon. Eventually, they'd kill her.

But she wouldn't let them.

Her plan wasn't very detailed, and it wasn't very good. She was desperate enough that it was a chance that she'd take though. Opening a portal and stepping through... Hopefully, it would be better than Pylea. Almost anything would be better than Pylea, right?

The portal opened, blue and purple and white lightnings and sparks crackling around, swirling open and sucking her inside, along with the duffel that she'd packed. Spare clothing, her other glasses, some physics textbooks, and a stack of blank notebooks to write in. And the miniature crossbow, three small axes, and a pair of daggers. This time, she'd be prepared.

There was a startled yelp as she crashed into a prickly shrub. She could also hear a rattle and click, and she just knew that a loaded crossbow was aimed at her. Hope for the best...

"Hello?" She very slowly tried to sit up, dragging her hair out of her eyes. "I'm not a threat, could you point that elsewhere?"

The man with the crossbow sort of reminded her of Angel - tall, quietly dangerous, long dark coat hiding him, and several weapons. He scared her, actually. There was another man, smaller, friendlier looking. He was dressed in a loose brown robe, and had curling lighter hair.

"Who are you?" The man moved the crossbow slightly, not quite aiming it at her. "Where did you come from?"

"Where did that clothing come from?" The other man's murmur probably wasn't supposed to be heard. Louder, he asked, "Are you injured?"

"Some scratches from the shrub." Fred paused, looking around. "This isn't Los Angeles... Where am I?"

"Romania." The brooding man scowled, and turned away. "Carl, figure out what to do with her."

One hand was extended, and the smaller man grinned. "I'm Carl, you'll have to excuse him, he's a bit... Moody. A hazard of his job, I suppose."

"Let me guess, he hunts and kills monsters?" She couldn't deny the resemblance to Angel in attitude and reaction. It was the only possibility that came to mind, and sort of reassured her and sort of didn't, all at the same time.

"Ahh, yes." Carl blinked, and picked up the duffel, staggering at the weight of it. "What do you have in here, rocks?"

"Some weapons, some books, spare clothing... I wanted to be prepared." Fred shrugged, and tumbled out of the shrub, gasping at the pain from her ribs. "Ohhh."

"Weapons? In there?" Carl looked doubtful. "What would fit?"

"Knives always fit." The other man muttered.

"That's Van Helsing. He's..." Carl trailed off, and shrugged. "What do you have?"

"He's sort of right. A pair of daggers, some little axes, and a miniature crossbow." Fred shrugged, and carefully rose to her feet, wincing as every muscle protested. "Oh, that hurt."

"A crossbow? In there? It must not have a very good range..." Carl muttered, his eyes taking on the excited and curious gleam that she knew so well from her own reactions. Fumbling, she opened the duffel and dug out the crossbow.

"If I can get a clear look at it, I can shoot it. Unless I miss, of course. The range is about as good as a rifle."

"The bolts? Carl reached out, his fingers not quite touching it.

"Wooden, treated with garlic, pepper and holy water, and they splinter on impact." Fred smiled, and looked at the weapon. "They work against most demons and vampires, unless they've got some armor. Or at least, they did back home."

"She might be useful after all." Van Helsing's voice sounded slightly amused, and impressed. "Bring her along."

"What's your name?" Carl asked, holding open the duffel for her to restow the crossbow. "You will be... umm, probably a bit safer with us than alone."

"Call me Fred." She could feel herself blushing. "It's short for Winifred, but I never liked the long version..."

"Welcome to our travels, Fred." Carl's voice was warm, and so was his expression.

Maybe this would be a lot better?

End Out of the Frying Pan.