- If it’s Tuesday, this must be Sunnydale: First Post
- If it’s Tuesday, this must be Sunnydale: Second Post
- If it’s Tuesday, this must be Sunnydale: Third post
- If it’s Tuesday, this must be Sunnydale: Fourth post
- If it’s Tuesday, this must be Sunnydale: Fifth post
- If it’s Tuesday, this must be Sunnydale: Sixth post
- If it’s Tuesday, this must be Sunnydale: Seventh post
- If it’s Tuesday, this must be Sunnydale: Eighth post
- If it’s Tuesday, this must be Sunnydale: Ninth post
- If it’s Tuesday, this must be Sunnydale: Epilogue
If it’s Tuesday, this must be Sunnydale
The story begins here.
Disclaimer: All characters are the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, etc. Only the lame plots and dialogue herein are mine.
Notes: Set in version of S6 that is so AU it’s nearly angst-free. Buffy either didn’t die at the end of S5 or was happy to come back. Everyone gets along, more or less, at least until someone gets a really nifty notion.
Rating: R, barely
Thanks: to keswindhover and revdorothyl for the beta, not to mention coming up with the plot bunny in the first place. I am wholly to blame for any errors. And thanks to itmustbetuesday for the comm, and because her name prompted me to think of a title at last.
I forgot to acknowledge Katharine Briggs’ Abbey Lubbers, Banshees & Boggarts in my previous posts. (Wow, look at that price on a new copy! It looks like you can get used ones for a song, though.) I have several of her books of folktales, and after browsing thorugh some of the stories in this one for the first ime in many years, I’m tempted to reread the others. Several of the “demons” in my story are stolen borrowed from Briggs’ collection, although I’ve changed their habits, physical characteristics, and even their names to suit my purposes.
For a very different treatment of selkies, see also The Secret of Roan Inish.
Friday, Day Three of the Tour
Anya stood in front of the assembled Warthogs. She was smiling brightly and giving an extemporaneous lecture on the History and Significance of the Sunnydale Sewer System. “So, there was this guy, who became the Mayor, you see, but he wasn’t really a guy, he was a demon planning his ascension, and he helped design the town as a haven for other demons, and—”
No one was paying attention. As usual, the older students kept trying to slip away and had to be herded back into place by Xander and Tara. Most of the younger ones and the teachers were just bored.
“I knew this whole event would be a fraud,” said the Dean. “There was absolutely no evidence that a hell god was ever near that old tower, and these supposedly amazing tunnels will turn out to be a few hundred yards of underground drainage ditch.”
Professor Ish kept peering up and down the street. “This is a very exposed situation. Suppose that wild Slayer should happen upon us here?”
“When do we get to see the vampire’s crypt?” It was Hedley, an imp who was the best behaved of the older students, but also one of the most annoying due to his relentless flow of questions and demands for detail. “I’m thinking of writing my junior thesis on hybrids. I want to compare the human and demon traits, and viewing a vampire in its own habitat would be of significant value.”
Willow stepped up to try a distraction. She cleared her throat and used lecture voice. “One of the strangest creatures ever found in the Sunnydale sewers was Lurconis, a—”
Felix interrupted, pointing at something behind her. “Look! The blood ra—I mean the vampire’s here! Hey, vampire, make that scrunchy face again!”
Anya turned around and snapped at the newcomer. “Spike, where have you been? You’re late for the sewer tour. I had to try to be entertaining.”
Willow caught sight of his face under a streetlight. “What happened to you? You look exhausted.”
The Scoobies abandoned the Warthogs for a moment to pull Spike over and hear his story.
“You can bloody well bet I’m exhausted. This distraction business is hard work. Do you have any idea how hard it is to tire out a Slayer?”
Dawn handed him a flashlight. “Were you two patrolling this whole time?”
Spike went on as if he hadn’t heard her. “Every time I thought it was over, I got grabbed and it started again. Can’t remember the last time I was tossed on my back that many times in one night.”
“Um, Spike, maybe you shouldn’t—” Tara tried to point surreptitiously at Dawn.
Dawn still sounded confused. “Is there some new Big Bad in town? Have Buffy and Spike been fighting it?”
Spike examined the flashlight and finally figured out how to turn it on. “Damn woman gives stamina a bad name. A couple of hours in I thought about leaving the handcuffs on and doing a bunk, but she’d just have broken loose and then she’d have gone after me for sure.”
Dawn still wasn’t there yet. “Handcuffs? Did something capture Buffy?”
“Uh, I’m sure it wasn’t anything really dangerous.” Willow was trying unsuccessfully to pull Dawn out of earshot. Spike, you really should, uh—”
Tara had no qualms about finishing that sentence for her girlfriend. “Shut up!”
Unfortunately, Spike wasn’t taking orders any better than he was taking hints. “My fingers are numb, even my tongue is sore, and as for—never mind. At least when she finally fell asleep, she had a smile on her face.”
Dawn finally figured it out. “Ewww!”
Anya was tapping her foot. “Spike, you can tell us all the details that Xander obviously wants to hear later. Right now, you need to start the tour!”
“Are you sure this is safe?” Professor Ish looked down at Spike. “It’s very wet in there.”
“Look, Puddleglum, either climb down or go back to wait aboveground. I’m not planning on spending the whole night leading a pack of half-wits around.”
Ish didn’t look any happier at that suggestion. “What? Stay up there alone with a dangerous Slayer roaming the streets?”
As Ish hovered on the lip of the big sewer pipe they were using as an entrance point, Felix squeezed under his arm and jumped into the puddle by Spike’s feet. “Whee!” He splashed around happily.
This unleashed the rest of the Warthogs, who followed Felix’s lead in pushing Ish aside to mill around Spike and wave their flashlights down the tunnels and into each other’s eyes.
Ignoring Ish, Spike ordered the others to follow him and marched off at a brisk pace. From time to time, he’d lead them a short way down a side tunnel and point at some object of interest. “Gryphons. Watch the beaks.”
“What’s a gryphon?” demanded a student.
Spike looked at her blankly. “One of those things over there. If you want to know, look at it.”
That was pretty much the extent of the detail he provided. A little while later he said, “Empty Phoenix’s nest. Silly bugger didn’t put enough lighter fluid on it and the fire went out.” Once, he motioned them all back into a side tunnel, and a herd of disturbing-looking goats ran by.
Even the Dean seemed impressed. “Those are very interesting beasts.”
“Stay out of their way, and don’t get any ideas. They’re not good eating and they make lousy sacrifices.”
The Dean looked up at Spike sharply. “Why?”
“Because they keep coming back to life. Even the ones that get eaten. I’ve been told that can be uncomfortable.”
Ish stumbled forward. “I was not warned there would be dangerous livestock on this tour!”
“Why, did you step in some of their leavings? And what did you expect? Families of bunny rabbits?”
There was a shriek from behind him, followed by Xander’s voice soothing Anya.
Ish poked his nose into the sloping entrance to a cave. “What lives down there?”
“Used to be a vampire nest. Now it’s just dusty.”
“Really?” Hedley and Felix rushed to look, but came back looking disappointed.
The Professor stepped back from the entrance, shivering. “Did the Slayer kill them?” he asked in a hushed voice.
“With a bit of help.” Spike pulled a pack of cigarettes from his pocket. As he lit up, Ish’s frightened expression was caught in the light.
“I don’t think it’s safe for us to be down here, if she roams these tunnels.”
Spike clapped him on the back and shoved him forward. “Don’t worry, Puddleglum. I happen to know she’s not roaming tonight.”
Not liking his position at the head of the tour, Ish ducked behind Spike, but still followed closely. “Are you sure?”
“Trust me. When it comes to the Slayer, I’m the inside man.”
Some of the students started screeching, and Spike abandoned Ish. A few Warthogs had wandered down a narrow passage, and Spike could hear Xander’s voice at the other end, instructing everyone to stay back. Most of the demons were obeying this instruction, but Spike had to toss an avidly curious Felix back toward safety before he could squeeze his way through to the source of the uproar.
Xander was holding out a stick and batting it at the head of a wolf-like animal that was doing its best to tear a chunk out of his leg. Several Warthogs were watching in combined horror and fascination as the dog-thing drove Xander back against the wall. They gasped when Spike stepped forward, dagger in hand. He caught the beast by the scruff of the neck, yanked it backwards, and unceremoniously cut its throat.
They gathered around the corpse, watching its blood seep into the stones, as Willow and Anya fussed over Xander and tore up his shirt to bandage a bite on his arm.
“Wow!” As usual, Felix had managed to work his way to the front of the crowd. “Was that a werewolf? When will Xander start getting all hairy?”
“It wasn’t a bloody werewolf.” Spike wiped his blade on the rest of Xander’s shirt and tucked the knife back in its ankle sheath. “It was a bloody wolf. A pack of them got trapped down here a few generations back, absorbed a bit of the energy from the Hellmouth, and adapted. Meaner than their ancestors. Probably their own species by now. Harris will be fine as long as his tetanus shots are up to date.”
Felix’s face fell. He stared at the corpse. “Poor doggie.” Then he smiled. “But at least we got to see something get killed!”
The crypt tour was less successful, mostly because instead of acting like a spooky creature of the night, Spike kept yelling at everyone to keep their paws and claws off his belongings. He herded them all out to the cemetery much too quickly for Anya’s taste. The Dean complained that the crypt looked more like the lair of Lestat than an Aurelian vampire, and Spike annoyed Anya even more by agreeing with him.
Hedley was particularly disappointed. Once outside, he came up to the Scoobies to register a complaint. “I found a pile of books under the bed, but instead of works on the arcane arts, they were all poetry and romance novels.”
Spike shifted uneasily. “Yeah, well one of the last tenants must have left that rot.”
“I was hoping for some sign of true evil there, not a book with Fabio on the cover.”
“I don’t see much of a difference,” said Willow.
“Anyone ever tell you that you take school too seriously, kid?” Xander asked Hedley.
Hedley sighed. “Everyone. But I live by our school motto of ex arte mala.”
Dawn, who was carrying a squirming Felix over her shoulder to keep him from darting back into the crypt, asked, “What does that mean?”
“According to the evil arts, I think,” said Spike.
“That, or he lives to make apple crumble,” added Anya.
They turned to stare at her.
She shrugged. “Well, you never know. The state of Latin education in demon schools these days—”
But Maindepeste had been listening. “That is a scurrilous accusation! The Dean is an adept Latin scholar, having learned the language at the court of Caligula!” He waved a sheaf of papers. “And I demand to know what this new charge is on my bill! I have no recollection of purchasing or even seeing a statue of Pan.”
Spike pulled Dawn aside. “Bit, I need to talk to you about Buffy.”
“The Slayer?” squeaked a voice behind her.
Spike rolled his eyes at Felix’s hindquarters and kicking legs. “Dawn, will you put down that thing? If you leave it alone for five minutes, it might manage to get itself killed.”
“That’s mean, Spike.” But she let the servaline go. “Felix, why don’t you go over there by those old tombstones and help the others knock them down?”
As soon as Felix had run off in the opposite direction from the one suggested, she asked, “What’s wrong, Spike?”
“Buffy knows something is going on. She’s at me every second we’re together.”
Dawn made a face. “You mentioned that before.”
“Yeah, well if I don’t make sure she’s after me for sex, she’s trying to get the truth out of me about where I’ve been running off to and why my crypt was tarted up like a two dollar whore. It’s making her crazy, and who knows what she’s thinking? You’ve got to let me tell her, Bit.”
“Spike, you can’t! It’s only a few more nights. If she finds out now and kicks the Warthogs out of town, we’ll have done all this for nothing.” She pulled out her always-successful woebegone expression and pleading tone. “You can hold out for a little bit longer, can’t you? For her. Just remember we’re doing this for her.”
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/167031.html