Fic: Jabberwonky 1/7

This entry is part 1 of 7 in the series Jabberwonky
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It’s my day to share and in the spirit of the community I’ve written a story about Buffy and Spike falling into a world controlled by a poem.

Thanks to  enigmaticblues for taking the time from her busy, busy life to steer our little boat through the rapids.

Jabberwonky

Summary: AU Comedy/Adventure. Buffy and Spike must rely on each other as they hunt the deadly Jabberwock through a strange and wondrous world fraught with peril (and more than a few bad jokes).

A/N: Thank you to EnigmaticBlues for the beta work. Although this is my own bizarre version of Wonderland, some quotes and characters are courtesy of Alice in Wonderland and Jabberwocky, both written by the very gifted Lewis Carroll. Chapter titles courtesy of the song White Rabbit by Jefferson Airplane. Mr. Carroll-please don’t spin, it was merely for fun.

Disclosure: None of these characters are mine, nor will I make money from them. They belong solely to the imaginative pens of Joss Whedon and Lewis Carroll– I just wanted to watch Buffy and Spike wrest information from a Dormouse.

Rating: G –  22,500 words complete

Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!

-Lewis Carroll
Jabberwocky

 

Buffy: “Speak English, not whatever they speak in, um….”
Giles: “England?”

BtVS
Some Assembly Required

Chapter 1

Chasing Rabbits

“Are you sure about this Dawn? Your sister will kill us if she finds out we’re in the woods after dark.”

“I can’t believe you’re worried about Buffy.” Dawn shot a look at Janice. “After all, this was your idea.”

“Cutting through the woods was not my idea. I only said we needed to take the shortest way,” she retorted, holding the popcorn bag open in Dawn’s direction. “Besides the longer we’re gone the better the chances are that your sister realizes we’re not at my house playing Guitar Hero and you get grounded. Yet. Again.” Emphasizing the last two words, she dropped kernels on the path.

Dawn waved the bag away with her free hand. “This is the shortest way to the cemetery and I won’t get grounded. Again.” She arched an eyebrow. “You’re not afraid to walk through here, are you?”

“Of course not,” was the lofty reply. Reaching in the bag again, Janice nodded toward the worn book cradled protectively in Dawn’s other arm. “Are you absolutely sure he can translate it?”

“Yes for the third time. Remember we decided it was definitely Latin and Spike knows Latin.” She stepped carefully around a tree root growing across the narrow path and added, “Besides, he’s the only one that won’t rat me out to Buffy.”

“Good point. By the way, major cred for sneaking it out of the Magic Box. I honestly didn’t think you’d really do it.”

“I just waited until Giles and Anya were arguing about overdue accounts and grabbed it. No big.”

“The bet was any book in the restricted section, so why that particular choice, oh fearless one?”

“Red’s my favorite color.”

Janice laughed. “Awesome.” She grabbed another handful of popcorn. “Talking about all things awesome, Marilyn told me Garth likes you. I think he might be planning on asking you out. If you want, I’ll put in a good word for you.”

A tiny line furrowed Dawn’s brow. “No way. He’s too lame with all that country music on his ipod. God, he even wears a cowboy hat sometimes. Just imagine if we got married. With his name and everything else, people would expect us to name our kids LouAnne or Miley or something equally gross. Besides he dated Carol, that skank from English Lit. I can not date someone who last dated a skank.”

“Who said anything about marriage? Get. A. Grip. It’s only one date. And he dropped Carol right in the middle of band practice after she got caught with Brad behind the bleachers. And most importantly, he’s a major hottie.” She stopped abruptly and Dawn almost collided with her. “Did you hear that noise?”

“I can’t hear anything over your crunching.”

“There it is again. Oh. My. God, there’s something over by that tree.”

Which tree? This is a forest.” Annoyed, Dawn peered through the growing darkness trying to see what Janice–who appeared ready to pee her pants– was frantically gesturing at. Was that something else or just wind moving those leaves? Squinting harder, she tried to separate shadows into their individual components. There. A movement in the shape of …. She grimaced. “Oh crap. I think that’s a Vant. They sense magical objects. One of them chased Willow around the cemetery a couple weeks ago.”

Her friend’s eyes widened. “What are we going to do?”

They both watched the slick, seal-like creature move purposely toward them. Clearing the tree line, it stared at them and opened its mouth, displaying a set of serrated teeth.

Janice shrieked and dropped her popcorn.

Dawn bit her lip, debating. She had no idea if they were actually dangerous to humans–Buffy killed the other one before it caught Willow or anyone else– but this demon was definitely coming toward them. She hated to let go of her hard won prize– it had been tougher to rip off the book than she’d admitted– but on the other hand, she didn’t want to become intimate with those teeth over a bet. Muttering a few choice words that would have made Spike wince, she reluctantly set the book down.

“Alright, you win. Take the damn book.” She cut her eyes toward her terrified friend frozen next to her and hissed, “Run, Janice!”

Janice didn’t have to be told twice. Spinning on her heels, she sprinted back down the path.

Eyes trained on the one teenager remaining, the demon slid closer.

Dawn stuck out her tongue and took off, long legs quickly outpacing Janice as they rounded the curve leading back to Sunnydale and plain old vampires.

Ignoring both the girls and the book, the Quo’ Oi demon– which Watchers agree possess a faint passing resemblance to the Vant but with a passionate love of everything salty all its very own– quickly picked up the popcorn bag and sniffed appreciatively. Crunching on the popcorn and the paper bag, it happily slipped back into the trees.

*****

One Hour Later

“I told you the soddin’ beastie went the other way, Slayer.” Spike scowled. What was it about the chit that precluded ever listening to anyone else, most especially him? He’d never met another woman as stubborn as the Slayer. They’d worked together for the past three months at Giles’ behest and she still didn’t view him as either competent or trustworthy–treating him more like the slow-witted sidekick from a cheesy cop movie, or worse, a faithful dog following at her heels. An image of Turner and Hooch flashed through his mind. Doubly annoyed now, he leaned against a tree and crossed his arms.

Buffy continued to stare at the tree line. “I followed it two nights in a row, Spike. I know it went this way.”

“Then why haven’t you killed it already?” Needing a nicotine fix to deal with her in this mood, he reached in his side pocket for his cigarettes. “Never thought of you as catch and release–you’re more trap and beat ‘til dead.”

“It has a den somewhere around here. That’s why I asked you along– so you could take a shot at tracking it back there. But if you’re not going to be any help, you might as well leave. I’ll do it alone.” She studied the ground.

Fighting the urge to grit his teeth, he took a deep drag and slowly exhaled. It took determination, but when he replied his voice was even.  “I am helpin’. I just told you it went the other way.”  He nodded toward the dense undergrowth. “Probably on to us and circled ‘round. Still in there somewhere.”

Standing up again, she grudgingly capitulated. “I guess it could have done that, so we should split up. I’ll take the path and you go around the back side of the trees. We’ll meet up where the path doubles back.”

Heading down the path she called back over her shoulder. “And put out that cigarette, every demon for miles can smell it. That’s not helping.”

Rolling his eyes at the Slayer’s mercurial mood swings he crushed the butt with the toe of his boot and started for the underbrush.

***

For over half an hour Buffy slowly followed the narrow winding path that split the woods in half, automatically watching for signs of the demon while thinking about her circumstances. Although she’d never tell Spike in a million years, in a rare moment of  self-reflection she admitted to herself how embarrassing it was to lose a demon twice.

Her thoughts turned to the cocky vampire who, on a good day, drove her totally bonkers.  Tonight was the first time she’d requested his assistance for her own failure and it still stung.

Once Spike had discovered he could hit other demons, he’d lobbied to patrol. Not wanting vigilantes around the Hellmouth making Buffy’s job harder, Giles had agreed. He’d argued that she could use assistance from someone stronger and faster occasionally and keep Spike contained at the same time.

Before it became more of an issue, she’d grudgingly allowed expendable Spike to occasionally patrol, while making it abundantly clear that this was her show. He could come along but strictly as back-up. Everything would be run her way and he’d agreed.

Buffy hoped her distance tonight had placed Spike firmly on the clue train– the dynamics of their relationship hadn’t changed one iota. She still wasn’t looking for a partner– just a bloodhound.

Pushing Spike from her thoughts Buffy concentrated on finding the demon and ending this entire travesty of a mission. Checking beneath some milkweed growing along the soft shoulder she hit pay dirt. A set of distinctive tracks disappeared into the darkness in front of her. She bent closer.

The wind picked up as the moon appeared from behind the thick cloud bank, allowing her to easily pick up the tracks. Well, that’s more like it she thought to herself. Although she could do without the Katrina-like wind, it should be easy now.

Curious to see if Spike was on the money about the demon’s probable destination, she pulled her wildly whipping hair into a scrunchie kept for profound hair emergencies–and tonight’s nearly gale force wind certainly counted–  while she kept her eyes peeled for any sign of the missing demon itself. Nothing yet.

Setting back out again she rounded a steep rocky curve in the path and immediately noticed something lying squarely in front of her a few feet ahead. Carefully checking for traps or other demons, she cautiously approached the object as the moon did its disappearing trick again, vanishing into another cloud bank.

Reaching the mystery object she realized it was only someone’s abandoned textbook. Disappointed, she wondered what it was doing way out here and reached down to pick it up, squinting at the front cover in the darkness.

***

Spike had completed the required circuit of the thicket without finding the demon or the den and knew he’d been wrong. The bloody demon hadn’t gone in the trees after all, it was still somewhere along the path. Shaking his head at his luck Spike tried to decide how best to explain his mistake without pissing off the Slayer– or worse, giving her ammunition for one of those annoying quips she was always leveling at his expense. He needed to prove he could be a strong asset, but it wouldn’t be this time.

Disgusted with himself and still trying to think of the right approach he walked into the clearing where he and Buffy had agreed to meet, still brushing sticky burrs from his jeans. Darkness never an impediment, he noticed her immediately. The Slayer was standing several yards away in the middle of the path, flipping through the pages of a book– paying absolutely no attention to anything around her, including his noisy arrival.

He frowned. Anything could come loping out of the woods and attack the oblivious Slayer, including the demon she was so hot to find. So why was she bothering with a book? And here of all places? Spike knew Buffy wasn’t big on research; he’d eavesdropped enough at the Magic Box to have heard all her made-up excuses and complaints when asked to crack one of Rupert’s boring editions in order to save someone’s dainty skin. Red and Rupert were the true research geeks while he and the Slayer were more action types.

He watched her leaf through the book and was struck with a thought. Maybe the book was pornographic, dropped by some innocent startled by colorful, glossy depictions of various unnatural acts. He should probably check it out. Hands in his pockets, he quickened his pace.

The moon reappeared from the cloud cover, bathing everything in brilliant light, making it much easier to navigate the rocky path. Keeping an eye on the Slayer Spike realized there was something unnatural about the book.

The cover was glowing.

He shouted a warning, “Slayer, watch out! That’s not a normal book”—but the wind carried his words in the other direction, away from her.

He started running.

Absorbed in paging through the strange book Buffy felt a slight tingling in her hands. Startled, she slammed the book closed and stared at her hands.

Still trying to reach her–it felt like he was running in slow motion–Spike watched the soft glow spread from the book to the Slayer’s hands in the instant it took for her to slam the book closed.

He heard a faint popping noise and she vanished, leaving the thick book hanging alone in the air for a millisecond before dropping to the path. It landed with a soft thud, shooting a fine mist of dust into the air– empty air that had been occupied by Buffy.

He skidded to a stop. “Slayer, where are you? Can you hear me?”

Tilting his head he concentrated on the sounds around him–wind-rattled tree leaves, an owl gliding above his head, even the squeaks of frightened field mice as they dove for cover, but not one single annoyed reply from a certain blonde Slayer.

Like the victim in a noire detective novel, Buffy had utterly vanished into thin air, while her unorthodox mode of transportation remained.

He prodded the book cautiously with his boot, but nothing happened. The book refused to yield any secrets.

Frustrated, he demanded with a growl, “Where is she?”

Dropping to his knees, Spike peered at the faded writing on the front cover, lips moving soundlessly as he translated nearly-forgotten Latin words and phrases into modern day English.

Comprehension dawned.

Cursing the Slayer’s bad luck and consequently his own, he grabbed the book and hurriedly flipped to the flyleaf. Still on his knees, he raised the flowing old fashioned script above his head into a bright shaft of moonlight.

His hands started to tingle.

 

Next Chapter Here.

Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/337897.html

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