Fic: Jabberwonky 7/7

This entry is part 7 of 7 in the series Jabberwonky
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Summary: AU Comedy/Adventure. Buffy and Spike must learn to rely on each other as they hunt the deadly Jabberwock through a strange and wondrous world fraught with peril (and bad jokes). Story begins Here

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-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 7
You Know You’re Going to Fall

They turned east according to the map’s directions and discovered they were no longer walking a regular forest path–instead they found themselves on what was in essence a glorified goat track–extremely narrow, with unfamiliar trees crowded along both sides, their thick rope-like limbs intertwined above head height with dense briar thickets that forced them to walk pressed together shoulder to shoulder.

The farther they walked, the less it felt they were still in Wonderland. The vast forest here had a different, far less playful feel. The Tulgey Wood trees were ancient, their thick trunks anchoring a widespread canopy that blocked out the sun, making it darker and several degrees cooler at ground level. Rubbing her arms, Buffy wished that she had long sleeves for the first time since she’d fallen into Wonderland.

Nothing stirred and the silence seemed so odd and wrong. She’d grown accustomed to the constant background noise of chirping birds and rustling, chattering squirrels, and when combined with the entire flock of sheep, she and Spike had never been alone, had never felt completely alone.

Until now. The only sound she could hear were their own footsteps along the track. When one or the other accidentally loosened a small pebble or crushed a dry leaf, the noise seemed magnified, causing them both to wince, while loudly announcing their approach to whatever waited.

Refusing to give in to nerves, she asked Spike to recite the poem as they walked, hoping that hearing the stanzas would give her a heads up on what lay ahead.

He obliged, and matched his voice to the cadence of their slow tread.

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

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

He took his Vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought-
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One ,two! One, two! And through and through
The Vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

“And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!
He chortled in his joy.

Twas brillig and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

“It’s better with Muppets.”

Buffy’s wry comment made Spike chuckle. “Even Lewis Carroll admitted that it’s utter nonsense, but that’s exactly the point. Besides your Muppets, Monty Python did a brilliant movie version, too, but I think the poem really cries out for a good CGI treatment.”

They spent the next half hour’s walk discussing the various words and their meanings with Spike leading the discussion, giving an impressed Slayer an understanding of what she might be up against.

The discussion finally wound down and they walked in companionable silence for another mile or so until Spike suddenly stopped in his tracks.

“What is it?”

“No bloody clue– can’t smell a thing, but I hear somethin’.”

Now Buffy could hear it too. Something, but probably too small for the Jabberwock, was moving noisily through the dense underbrush toward the path– and them– and didn’t care who was aware of it. She shelved her plans for a grand finale and got ready for the preshow instead.

“Looks like it’s finally creature feature time, Spike.”

His reply meshed perfectly with her own thoughts. “Yeah, maybe not the main attraction, but I’m ready for a spot of violence. I’m just hopin’ it hasn’t been all prettied up for the big screen.”

Buffy kept her eyes trained on the underbrush, hoping this wasn’t going to turn into an old army movie with her and Spike up against some kind of animal version of a tank. Whatever was in there had a very thick hide– she wouldn’t want to blaze a trail through that dense briar thicket.

The edge of the thicket nearest the path shook violently and with one final noisy push, an animal emerged. It had a segmented body low to the ground with stubby legs and  reminded Buffy of an odd sort of crocodile.

Crawling into the middle of the narrow path a few yards from the Slayer, the creature firmly planted four flat feet, trained dull yellow eyes on her and hissed like Joyce’s tea kettle on full boil.

Spike shifted to get a closer look and the beast hissed again, its elongated snout whipping side to side, as it tried to watch both of them simultaneously. Warily waiting for an attack, she noticed the oddly ribbed neck flexing in and out when the head moved.

Spike noticed the neck, too. “Slayer…”

“Yeah, I saw the weird Al neck– gotta be a Bandersnatch,” she murmured quietly, trying not to anger it further.

The underbrush behind them began to rustle. Something else was pushing through the briars.

“We’re getting’ more company.”

“Take care of it. I’ll keep accordion neck company.” She looked at the Bandersnatch. “Now don’t break out singing ‘Another One Rides the Bus’, because I’d have to show you what the original song says.”

“’My Bologna’ is a better parody–he started out with a better song.”

“Yeah, I like that one, too.” She risked a look at Spike. Singing The Knack song softly, he was turning around to cover her back from whatever creature came through the brush next. It occurred to her that somehow along the way Spike had become a valuable part of her team, and somewhere along the way she’d become alright with that.

The Bandersnatch growled again and her eyes flew back to it. “Yeah, I know, he might not know all the words, but he can wing it really well.”

Spike heard her comment and his lips curved, maybe this little adventure hadn’t been a lost cause after all. Buffy had finally gotten a chance to see him at his best.

Before he could dwell on what the Slayer’s comment might mean for their working relationship down the road, his attention was pulled back to their current situation as twenty-five or thirty birds resembling four foot tall bedraggled, but innocuous-seeming puffins stumbled out of the brush, shaking their feathers and chirping comically. Still trying to keep his ears on the Slayer and the Bandersnatch, he immediately wrote the birds off as a glorified nuisance.

Spike waited impatiently for the flock to waddle down the path and out of sight, but ignoring anything the story manufactured proved to be a tactical mistake on his part, although by the time he discovered this, it was too late–he’d become ensnared, encircled within a tightening ring of flapping, inhumanly strong birds and quite effectively  blocked from taking a step in any direction.

This was certainly him at his best all right. Cutting his eyes toward the Slayer he relaxed–at least as much as his now concave chest would allow–Buffy’s attention was still drawn to her own problem, giving him time to work his way out of the mess.

With hoarse cawing that sounded like crows suffering from respiratory infections yelling  in his ears, Spike felt the birds tighten the ring even further by pressing their bodies close together, forcing his arms against his sides. Then the inner ring channeled Alfred Hitchcock – pecking vigorously at his chest, back and legs with thick, needle-sharp beaks tough enough to gouge right through his shirt and jeans. Dots of blood began to appear, seeping through the material.

Growling, he placed his weight on one leg and vigorously kicked out at the aggressive birds, trying to force them to back off. Ignoring him, they refused to move and continued pecking. Cursing fluidly under his breath, he finally wedged the toe of his Doc Marten beneath one of the birds in front of him, and awkwardly lifted it high enough that his arms–still pressed against his sides–could reach it. Ignoring the constant barrage of painful pecking, he worked both arms around to the front. He grabbed the now struggling bird, twisting the thick neck with his bare hands until the head separated from the body with a pop!

Satisfied this would work, albeit slowly, he dropped the dead bird and started all over again, slowing raising another one with his foot.

****

Buffy was cautiously watching the Bandersnatch and wondering why it didn’t attack when a second one noisily appeared from the brush, crawling over to stand a few feet  from the first.

“Great. Heckle and Jeckle.”

She was debating the best way to move in when Spike’s angry growl erupted behind her. Before she could turn around to check on him the first Bandersnatch hissed and its neck sprung three feet out from its body like a crazed Jack in the Box. Reaching across the space between them, it snapped viciously at her legs with a set of very pointed teeth and then tried to latch on.

Startled, she danced away just in time, but was left with a long, deep scratch on her leg to show for the attack.

Swiping at the blood dripping down her leg, she watched warily from what she hoped was a safer distance while the Bandersnatch retracted its neck, dull yellow eyes trained malevolently on her the entire time.

Okay, so a Bandersnatch was much faster than it looked and held onto prey tighter than a Hollywood divorce attorney. It was going to be a little difficult getting close to either one without losing an important body part or two.

The second Bandersnatch, already late to the party, had watched the first one miss and decided to correct that mistake, crawling closer to the Slayer and lining itself up relative to her new position.

Watching them maneuver, Buffy realized they attacked primarily with their necks outstretched, and an idea formed in her mind. Keeping an eye on them, she glanced around the narrow path calculating distances and decided to go for it. If she was very, very lucky it just might work.

Having already gotten a taste of fresh Slayer, the first Bandersnatch readily crawled a few feet from its original position and turned to face her, planting its feet firmly.

Carefully judging the distance again, she moved a few inches.

Having already decided this was the perfect spot, the first Bandersnatch refused to budge from the new position,  while the second hissed and moved readily again, still aggressively tracking her.

That meshed with her plan. So far so good. Buffy slid sideways a few more inches.

The second creature hissed another warning, changing locations to regain the space needed to remain in range.

She angled a few more inches and again, the second creature moved, while the first remained stubbornly in place. But both creatures were becoming more agitated, growing impatient with their meal, so she didn’t dare move any more. This would have to do.

Mentally crossing her fingers, she yelled, “Dumb and Dumber, come and get me,” flailing her arms and legs enough to be considered a shoo-in for the Bandersnatch Prey Olympic team.

Just as she expected, the burst of erratic jumping jacks and yelling caused both startled creatures to attack, shooting their necks toward her, mouths snapping viciously.

But Buffy wasn’t standing there any longer; she’d changed events, vaulting high into the air over their heads.

Instead of her, the creatures latched onto each other and clamped down, too stupid to realize they’d been maneuvered to face each other at a slight angle.

Buffy dropped lightly back to the ground, landing next to the grappling creatures. Lifting her sword, she sliced cleanly through the pair before either could free themselves.

Satisfied over a plan well thought out and executed, she pressed a hand against her leg to staunch the bleeding that was worse now and turned around to help Spike.

But Spike didn’t need help, he’d finished killing the last bird–certain at this point that they were filthy little Borogroves–using a combination of legs, hands and pure unadulterated anger, with a touch of unacknowledged embarrassment for added incentive.

Without saying a word, they grimly wiped their hands on their jeans and turned back to the path, they had one final mile to walk.

Tired, hungry, dirty, smelling strongly of sheep and other, less pleasant odors and now bleeding to boot, they tiredly trudged down the last mile to its terminus, finally arriving at the gray shaded area on the map.

There was no one left to be quizzed or to quiz them, nothing left to discover except for the one last thing that awaited them here.

The Jabberwock.

They slowly and cautiously walked the last portion of the path, listening for any unusual sounds, while waiting with bated breath for the snarling monster from the poem to leap out of the woods and attack them with razor sharp claws worthy of the most horrific demons ever fought along the Hellmouth.

Continuing carefully through the final leg of the woods, they left the tree line and discovered they could now see the end of the path led somewhere they hadn’t anticipated– straight to the very creature they sought.

The Jabberwock sat quietly at the far edge of a gigantic sun-lit clearing with the unruffled air of the true predator–a God-king biding time among his peasants.

The path had dumped them out at the edge of the long clearing. They paused, not daring to go farther until they tried to understand exactly what it was they were facing.

Standing next to Spike, Buffy ran a well practiced eye over the creature, estimating its length at somewhere around forty feet, possibly forty-five, while Spike gave a low whistle, muttering something unintelligible that ended with the words ‘great white whale’.

Shading her eyes from bright sun they hadn’t seen for several miles, she took stock of the calm creature, noting the unusual looks–there was  a distinct melding of several different creatures, both real and mythical– but the most interesting aspect to the Slayer had to be the Jabberwock’s natural defense system.

From the top of its falcon-like head with the intelligent black eyes calmly observing their every movement– all the way to the tip of the sweeping phoenix- type tail, the Jabberwock was covered in over lapping multi-hued iridescent scales– reminiscent of some glorious fabled medieval dragon.

The Slayer stood along the edge of the clearing and watched the sun play across the thick scales, leaving behind shimmering mini rainbows in its wake whenever the Jabberwock shifted. Instinctively, she knew they’d be tougher to slice through than Kevlar and for the first time she wondered if the Vorpol Blade would be up to the task.

Not only was the Jabberwock armored, but Buffy took note of the wings tucked neatly alongside the sleek body and in her mind she pictured the creature gracefully floating on thermal drafts high above the earth, away from everything. Away from her.

Standing across the clearing from the great creature, she felt a sudden, deep visceral response, an immediate kinship she didn’t understand, but nevertheless could not deny.

The Jabberwock was magnificent and deadly, and Buffy had to discover a way to destroy it utterly while her heart hurt at the very thought of harming such a proud creature. With perfect clarity, she suddenly understood both the futility and despair of the act and wondered if this was how whalers felt, just before the harpoon flew.

“It’s so beautiful,” she murmured, thinking that no adjective in her vocabulary could do it justice.

Spike, standing next to her, didn’t reply. He’d been rendered oddly mute, dumbstruck at the strange, ethereal beauty combined with such quiet dignity. Improbable as it sounded, the Jabberwock struck a chord deep within him, touching a place where poetry still dwelled and gentleness sometimes prevailed.

Uncomfortable with his thoughts, he cleared his throat and said softly more for himself than her, “it isn’t real Buffy. Your Watcher would tell you that it’s simply a construct of the book, just as everything else here is.”

He glanced at the Slayer to gauge her response. Buffy fingered the hilt of the sheathed sword and continued to stare at the Jabberwock. She looked ….tired. Vulnerable.

He cast his eyes downward and waited.

Finally she spoke and he could still hear a tinge of sadness in her voice, but it had also been hardened, overlaid with steel resolve.  “Okay, so any ideas? A grand plan? Because somehow the thought of getting up close and personal enough to drive a blade through those scales doesn’t hold a whole lot of appeal.”

Right. The Slayer. Back to business. He looked up and spoke briskly, “I don’t think you’ll get within strikin’ distance on foot. Notice how it’s sittin’ in the first area clear of trees that we’ve seen for twenty miles? As soon as the beastie realizes that you and your shiny toy are headin’ in its direction with malice in your eyes, it’s goin’ to be off for the clouds faster than either of us could catch it, even with our speed. ”

“You’re right; it’ll ditch us faster than the last class before spring break.” She forcibly banished the spurt of giddy joy she’d felt at the thought of the creature’s escape–there was just no way around this and she needed to focus. Otherwise she might as well start shopping for a pinafore.

“There’s got to be something we’ve missed. This needs to end now, so we can go back up the rabbit hole.”

“I’d like to see the end of this ruddy Wonderland myself, but if there’s a way, I don’t know it.” Frustrated, Spike ran a hand through his hair. “If it were just me, I’d be runnin’ toward it right now, yellin’ Geronimo. Always was too impatient to plan and I can’t keep my temper under control for more than five minutes, tops.”

“Keep my temper.” Buffy murmured and her face suddenly lit up. “Spike, what was it you said earlier about Giles and the Jabberwock?”

“You mean that it was the only the book’s magical construct?” He looked at Buffy, trying tried to figure out what had just happened. The Slayer suddenly looked like she’d found religion in a big tent full of snakes. “But it can still kill you Slayer, just like those other beasties could have when they attacked. Just what are you thinkin’?”

She ignored his question and asked one of her own. “How would you answer if someone asked who I was?”

“Didn’t we go already go through this when that hovering Garfield annoyed us a few miles back?” He looked at her as though she’d scattered her marbles all over the ground and forgotten how to pick them back up.  “Shouldn’t you be askin’ yourself if this is really the right time to review balmy conversations?”

She waved off his comments, frown until he finally gave in. “Alright. Fine. If you or anyone else for that matter asked me, I’d say you were the Slayer, or Buffy, or both, dependin’ on why they wanted to know.”

She nodded, satisfied with his answer. “Yeah, that’s right.”  Now her voice held even more confidence. “And you’re Spike, an old vampire.”

“Not that bloody old.” His brow furrowed. She was beginning to sound like she belonged here with the other inmates. “Slayer, you’re worryin’ me. You’re not gonna try and sacrifice me to the Jabberwock as a diversion, are you?” Said out loud, it sounded so logical that Spike panicked. “I thought we were a team. We’ve been working better here than over the past three months. We’ve made it all the way to the end of the story together in one piece and I’d like to go back the same way. Hell, I kissed the bloody Flemdrek for you!”

Momentarily diverted, she grinned. “You kissed her? Did you touch it?”

Mentally slapping himself upside the head, he crossed his arms and glared. “That was not the point.”

She sobered, but a small smile continued playing around her lips. She struggled to control it and replied, “I’m not sacrificing you to anything, so don’t have a heart attack. Oh wait, you can’t have a heart attack.”

He stiffened and she realized she might have gone a bit too far with the jokiness. Laying her hand on his sleeve, she said, “I’m sorry, Spike, when we tell the story at home I won’t mention that part to anyone. After all, you did what you had to do. You know, I was just thinking earlier that our relationship since we started this has morphed into something different, something better, and I don’t want to screw that up. If I could bake cookies for the last couple comments like Willow does, I would.”

Spike’s mouth dropped and he quickly closed it. Buffy was actually apologizing. To him. “Thanks for that. I admit Slayer, before this I thought you were a royal pain in my ass more often than not. Now? I suppose, not so much.” He nodded toward the clearing. “But what’s all of this touchy-feely stuff and the other gobbledygook got to do with Pidge? What’s the point?”

“My point is that you’re right, we’ve reached the end of the story.” She grabbed his hand, tugging him forward. “And this Alice just figured out how to get us both out of Wonderland.”

Hearing the magical phrase ‘out of Wonderland’, Spike allowed himself to be tugged forward. He ran the previous conversation through his head, trying to figure out what she’d finally understood that he still didn’t. Maybe nothing at all. Had the perpetual sunshine and happy scenery fried her brain until the Slayer had lost it altogether?  Maybe Buffy was planning to sacrifice them both to the Jabberwock.

They were midway across the clearing now. Much closer and the questions wouldn’t matter –the Jabberwock would stretch across the space, reaching out with that falcon’s beak or those huge talons and take care of all their problems for them.

He dug his heels into the dirt, forcing them both to a sudden stop. Buffy wheeled around and started to say something, but he held his hand up for silence.

“Slayer, wait. Before we get close enough to become bird seed, I’d like to hear your idea. It’s my hide too and if you think our relationship is in a better place now, then you’ll respect your partner enough to answer.”

Buffy looked in his eyes. What she saw was concern and a healthy dose of curiosity, and nothing more, there was no spark of anger. Her shoulders relaxed and she gave him a lopsided smile. “Spike, you know I’m more of an action kind of girl, not too good with the words and if I try to explain it on the fly, it’s gonna get messed up. I promise to explain it later, right now I just need to move, to do it. I’ve trusted you to help lead us through this place and now it’s your turn to trust me. Will you give me the same chance?”

He searched her face. He knew the answer he would have given before they’d spent time together in Wonderland, when their working relationship was at rock bottom. He’d leaped into the book in the very hope that their relationship would improve a little if he helped her out of a rough spot. But she’d turned the tables and offered him a true partnership, asking for his advice in various situations, leaning on his expertise concerning the poem. He knew in his gut if he didn’t offer her the same, they’d be back at square one all over again.

“Tell me what to do, and I’ll do it.”

“Just follow my lead.”

The Jabberwock sat calmly on the ground as they approached. Spike looked up, and found the creature’s eyes solemnly regarding him. He stared back and just for an instant, he could have sworn he saw a humorous glint deep within, but before he could be certain, the creature shifted, turning its attention to the Slayer.

They stopped a few feet in front of the creature whose eyes were now fixed upon Buffy. He hoped Buffy knew exactly what she was doing, because there was no escape at this proximity, much less any chance of killing it. If her idea didn’t pan out, game over.

Buffy straightened her shoulders and looked deeply into the Jabberwock’s eyes, while Spike watched them both.

Whatever the Slayer saw there seemed to satisfy her, she relaxed her shoulders, smiling. Still not saying a word, she bobbed her head toward the Jabberwock.

The creature tilted its head, regarding her curiously for a long moment before dipping its own head in response.

Then the Slayer pulled the sword from its place hidden within the leather belt. She spoke quickly to the Jabberwock. “This is not for you.”

The Jabberwock continued to watch her placidly.

Lifting the sword above her head she caught the rays of the bright sun. As the sword glinted above her head, she turned her face toward the sky, took a deep breath and said loudly, “the Jabberwock has done nothing to either of us, we refuse to kill it. It’s free to live as it wishes.”

The Jabberwock stirred at the noise, shifting position.

Spike’s mouth dropped. Whatever he’d expected, it hadn’t been this. He hissed, “Slayer, have you gone completely ‘round the bend? The Vorpal Blade goes snicker-snack, remember?”

She replied softly, “I saw your expression back there. You don’t want to kill it either. And it certainly doesn’t want to die.”

She turned her attention back to the empty sky. “Do you understand? The game is over. Neither of us will harm the Jabberwock. It hasn’t harmed us and we refuse.”

Dropping to her knees, Buffy tried to jam the sword into the dry stony ground, but even with two-handed Slayer strength, it wouldn’t budge more than half way.

Spike dropped to his knees beside her and placed his hands over hers. Together they jammed the Vorpal blade into the ground up to the hilt.

The wind suddenly picked up and clouds gathered in the sky above. There was the sound of thunder in the distance and the smell of coming rain.

Unperturbed by the noise and motion created by the Slayer, nor the change in the weather, the Jabberwock watched the couple regain their feet, before rising gracefully to its own.

The Jabberwock regally dipped its enormous head once more, flapped iridescent wings and rose effortlessly into the darkening sky.

As it soared out of sight, rain began to fall.

As the first fat raindrops puddled around their feet, the couple felt a familiar tingling sensation.

Sunnydale Woods
Ten Minutes Later

“That was a harder landing than the first time around. I think the book was pissed off at you Slayer.” Spike rubbed his elbow where it had come in contact with a familiar Sunnydale path.

“The first time around you had a Slayer cushion.”

Still rubbing his elbow he watched Buffy check out the condition of her shoes. “The book sent us back in the same condition we left and only about an hour later. At least it got somethin’ right.”

“It wasn’t the magicks, just odds. So much was wrong that something had to be right.”

He needed nicotine to understand that sentence. Patting his pockets he replied, “Alright Slayer, time to explain how you knew what to do. I really thought we had to kill the Jabberwock to leave Wonderland.”

“I did, too, and I was ready, right up until I saw that beautiful creature and realized I just couldn’t kill it. When you couldn’t either, everything sort of fell into place. You know you were right in the very beginning.”

Still puzzled, he was struck with the realization that Buffy had actually noticed he’d been right about something and freely admitted it. Things between them really were different. He smiled. “And what was that, pet?”

“When we first arrived, you said that we’d have to hunt a Jabberwock and not one single character ever contradicted you. No one ever said we had to kill it to leave, we just assumed that because of the poem.”

He nodded. He did remember saying that. “More characters were concerned about the Jubjub than the Jabberwock and you thought that was odd.”

“Exactly. There were so many inconsistencies, with the stories bleeding all over each other, and the insanity, the real clues got lost in the shuffle. But Alice in Wonderland was always the main storyline; the poem kept getting mixed in because of how the spell perceived us. The real game was originally meant to be an Alice-centric quest, where she learns things in Wonderland about herself just like in the actual book.”

Spike nodded thoughtfully. It did make a warped kind of sense. “So when you chose not to kill unless personally threatened, and then showed kindness and compassion toward the Jabberwock by refusin’ to kill it with the Vorpal Blade, you behaved just like Alice did in the real story and completed the quest.”

“But it was your agreement to go along with that choice and your help in making it happen that added the final component that overrode the poem’s control and broke the spell.”

She studied her shoes again. “I couldn’t have done this without you Spike.” She met his eyes. “I think it’s time I gave you more of a say during patrol. You’ve proven what an asset a real partner–what an asset you– can be.” She smiled. “I’m willing to give it a try.”

She started to reach for the book. “I’ll bet Giles would love to have this for his collection.”

No longer afraid of making Buffy go off on him for no reason, Spike gently blocked her forward movement with his arm. “Wait, Slayer, we’ll wrap my coat around it and then take it to Rupes.”

He was rewarded with another smile. “You’re right. It’s been sitting here all this time soaking up energy like some occult Spongebob, and I think we’ve both had about all the chirping birds and happy-go-lucky animals we can stomach for a lifetime. I know I have, that was just too sweet and syrupy. I’m ready for some death and demonic destruction and you know I can’t believe I just said that.”

He chuckled. “One little vacation to Wonderland and suddenly she sees an apocalypse in a whole new way.” His partner was seeing everything in a whole new way. Suddenly Spike felt decades younger and lighter.

Buffy finished wrapping the book and inwardly shuddered. Spike was right; she could have wound up back in Wonderland all over again. Actually it was sort of nice having someone watch her back for a change. “You know, a sea story would have been fun, this nearly ruined Lewis Carroll for me. I’m starting to think he must have been doing serious drugs whenever he sat down to write.”

She tucked the book under her arm. “I’m never going to be able to look at wool the same way again.”

Spike launched into a joke about sheep and sailors when they heard two people bickering.

Putting her finger to her lips, she motioned toward the trees. They slipped into the shadows as the two figures rounded the curve.

“I must have lost it when you dropped the book.”

“I know, you’ve told me five times already. I just can’t believe we had to come all the way back here for your stupid bracelet.”

“I told you my mom gave it to me for my birthday. I absolutely have to find it.”

“Since we’re out here again I might as well pick up the book. If that stupid demon didn’t steal it.”

“Are you going to sneak it back into the Magic Box?”

“I already won the bet, so that would be a yes.”

“Oh look! Here’s my bracelet. Funny, I thought you left the book right over there.”

“I did. Wait. What’s that noise?”

“Hullo, Bit.”

“Spike? What are you doing out here? I mean, hi.”

“I’m patrollin’ with the Slayer.”

“Buffy? She’s out here too?”

“Hello Dawn. How’s that game of Guitar Hero going? It must be hard finding an extension chord that reaches all the way out here.”

“Uh.”

“By the way, Spike and I found your book.”

“Oh?”

“I mean Giles’ book.”

Oh.”

The End

 

Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/339375.html

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