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Caution: Children At Play

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Chapter Six

 

Giles was awoken from his slumber by a persistent ringing sound. He grabbed the phone from the dresser. “Hello,” he mumbled sleepily, as he heard the familiar voice of Joyce from the other end of the phone line.
“Rupert!” Her voice was shrill with worry. “I can’t find Buffy and Spike. When I woke up this morning they were gone.”
He sat up suddenly awake. “Good lord. I’ll drop by the Magic Box to see if they are there and then I’ll be right over.”
Those two idiots would be the death of him. Most likely they had decided to go wandering in the dark again. Considering their penchant for getting themselves into trouble in normal circumstances, this did not bode well. He pulled on his clothes so quickly he didn’t realise he had his sweater on the wrong way for a couple of moments. Bugger it. He grabbed his car keys and left his house.

 

Giles arrived at the Magic Box in a record time. He had never driven so fast around Sunnydale. Luckily, the town was quiet as it was still early in the morning. He checked the shop for the presence of little intruders and finding none, he gathered the ingredients to a locater spell just in case. He dumped them in the back seat of his car and he drove to Revello Drive, where he was met by a frantic Joyce. She ran out to meet him at his car as he pulled into the driveway. She looked unlike her usual well groomed self with unkempt hair.
She peered in the window at him. “I’ll kill them Rupert when I get my hands on them. I swear I will.”
He could sympathise. He was feeling the exact same way.
“Where are they Giles? They’re so little and not themselves at all.”
Giles mentally went over the places that they could be and the most likely one came to mind. “Have you checked Spike’s crypt yet?”
She smacked her hand to her head. “Of course – I wasn’t thinking straight.”
“That’s natural, Joyce.” He gestured to the seat beside him. “Hop in, and we’ll go look in the cemetery.”
She opened the door, before she paused suddenly. “Hang on. There’s sunlight. Spike needs his blanket.”
She ran inside leaving Giles worried in the car. He tapped his fingers on the steering wheel trying to think of other places that the duo could be should they not find them in Spike’s home. A few moments later she came out with a bundle, which he assumed must be the aforementioned blanket. He had been expecting the rather ratty looking one that Spike normally used to carry around when he was doing his daylight dashes. Of course, Joyce would insist on something cleaner; not that germs were really an issue for a vampire.
She opened the passenger door and sat down alongside him putting on her seat belt. “Dawn will stay at house in case they come back.”
Giles took one glance back the house where Dawn, looking as anxious as her mother, stood at the door in her pyjamas. He patted Joyce’s arm reassuringly. He hoped that was where they were, because if it was anywhere else then chances were they were in big trouble. He pulled up outside Restfield cemetery, and the two took off towards the vampire’s crypt. As they neared their destination, Giles heard squeaky voices and he pulled Joyce behind him and they ducked down behind one of the mouldering crypts, that Sunnydale seemed to have so many of. They stood as silently as possible and gazed around the corner. It turned out the squeaky voice belonged to one of the strangest beings Giles had ever seen. There were two of them. There were small in stature and humanoid in shape. However, they looked decidedly inhuman in appearance. Their eyes were beady and their skin was scabby. They two wore brown robes and appeared to be deep in discussion. The most worrying thing was that they appeared to coming from the direction of Spike’s crypt. He felt his heart stop at this realization. Joyce gasped at side most likely coming to same conclusion. On the up side neither of the two little creatures looked terribly pleased.
“There is no sign of the vampire,” one lamented with a sigh. “Glorificus will be very displeased.”
The other shook his head. “The warlock says that the vampire and the slayer have become children. Do you think he dares lie to Glorificus?”
“Of course not,” the first answered hastily.
“I should hope not, Dreg. Our mistress would be most angry with you.”
Giles shared a look with Joyce, although both froze when they heard the next part of the conversation.
Dreg quickly attempted to change the subject. “Should we go directly to the Slayer’s house?”
The other replied, “No, the most glorious one told us to go to the crypt for a reason. We should report to her first.”
Dreg nodded and the two strange creatures continued on their way.
“Oh god.” She was close to tears. “If they aren’t at the crypt, then where are they, Rupert?”
His mind was running a mile a minute. Ethan was somehow connected with the hell god. Oh this was not good at all. He tried to remain calm.
He removed his glasses and pinched his nose. “Let’s double check first before we panic and if they’re not there then we can do a locater spell. I have the supplies in my car from the Magic Box. We’ll call Willow and Tara and they can go and look after Dawn.”
They walked cautiously to the crypt making sure the creatures were well out of sight. Giles walked in Spike’s home first in case there were any unwelcome guests inside. He gestured for Joyce to follow him. A trap door in the floor suddenly opened and there were the two little monsters standing right in front of him.
“Hullo, Rupert. Hullo Joyce.” Spike was wearing his customary smirk, either unaware or more likely uncaring of all the fuss their disappearance had caused.
Buffy giggled, but she had the decency to look a little sheepish at least. “Hi Mom, Giles!” She bit her lip anxiously as she looked up in her mother’s direction. “There were these scabby hobbit things here. We had to hide downstairs.”
Both Joyce and Giles were wearing equally foreboding glares. Buffy gulped and Spike started scuffing his shoes off the ground.
Giles suspected Buffy was wearing the most contrite expression she could muster. Her eyes were wide and her lip was trembling. “We fell asleep, Mom. We meant to be back before you even noticed.”
Giles smiled grimly and looked over at Joyce, who burst in to relived tears and grabbed hold of her daughter and the vampire enveloping them both into a hug. If the situation hadn’t been so dire, he might have laughed at the deer in the headlight expression Spike wore at the sudden hug. He coughed after giving them a few moments.
Joyce pulled away wiping her eyes. “Don’t you ever do that to me again!”
Her warning was not only for her own child but also the troublesome vampire. This time the vampire was wearing a much more repentant expression. It seemed even soulless monsters could be swayed by Joyce’s generous and loving nature.
“We need to get back to Dawn and call in the rest of the gang. It seems that this Glorificus and her minions are trying to abduct one or both of you. We need Willow and Tara to see if they can do some sort of spell to keep them out of Revello Drive and we can’t risk leaving you two unaccompanied again.”
Spike scoffed. “We may be smaller in size, but we still have our strength. We’re not completely helpless. And what’s this woman want with us anyway?”
Buffy answered. “She wants to find out about her key.”
Spike raised his eyebrow. “I know sod all about a key, but I betting you all do. Care to enlighten a bloke?”
Giles decided to put his foot down right away. He couldn’t trust Spike to keep the secret. He may have some unfortunate influence on Summers’ women, but he wasn’t about to be swayed by his angelic appearance.
“No, you don’t need to know.” Giles looked at Joyce and Buffy warningly. “And Spike, I mean it about not leaving unaccompanied. If you were so confident about being able to handle yourselves then you wouldn’t have been hiding would you?”
Of course the vampire had no answer for that. Giles supressed a superior smile as Spike glared at him. Joyce looked at him with a disapproving expression. No doubt she felt he was being too hard on the vampire, but Spike was as annoying child sized as he was adult size, and he had a gift for making the most even tempered lose their cool.
“Let’s go,” Joyce said, tossing the blanket at Spike, who grabbed it eagerly.
“Oh you brought my blankie ̶ I mean my blanket.”
This time Giles couldn’t prevent his lip from twitching. There were some things you never thought you would hear a master vampire say, even if it was Spike. Buffy didn’t even try to supress her giggles at his slip. If vampires could blush Giles was sure that was exactly what Spike would be doing now.
Buffy was looking curiously at the blanket. “What’s that on the blanket?” She tried to grab it from him.
He held it away from her. “It’s none of your business, Slayer.”
Despite his best efforts, she managed to get a good look at the blanket before Spike could stop her. “Oh my gosh. Is that an angel?”
“No, it isn’t.” She raised an eyebrow and he sighed. “Okay it is. Just don’t make a deal of it. I like it because it’s warm and furry not because of the picture.”
She bit her lip thoughtfully. “I think it looks like Angel.” She started to giggle again. “Oh is that why you like it? Ooh Spikey is Angel your comfort blanket?”
Spike glared at her. “Shut up, slayer!”
Try as he might Giles couldn’t hold in his laughter any longer. This was too much; the idea of Spike cuddling a blanket with Angel on it.
Joyce looked at both Buffy and Giles reproachfully. “Buffy stop teasing William, and Giles stop laughing.” She patted Spike on the shoulder. “Come on, Dawn will be worried.”
It was this emphasis on Dawn’s name that brought Buffy and Giles to their senses. The vampire looked at them suspiciously. The watcher worried at that; Spike had always been a good reader of people and intentions. If he had to guess at what was going on under that mop of hair, he would bet that Spike’s brain was still scrabbling for connections trying to figure out what this key was.

 

A few hours later, Giles was alone in Revello Drive with Buffy and Spike. Joyce had to leave the house and he was left with the task of watching the little monsters. Willow and Tara had been and had put a spell on the house to prevent anybody that wasn’t invited entering. He would have preferred take Spike and Buffy to the Magic Box, he had a lot of books he wanted to peruse. However, the only spell that was suitable to keep out a hell god and her minions would also keep out his customers so he opted to stay at Revello. There was no way he would trust his own home to the bickering children. In the hour since Joyce had left they had managed to break two vases and a picture frame. Giles had to get his kicks where he could and he took great joy in telling the two again that they needed a babysitter now that they couldn’t be trusted not to run off. They had been complaining about not being left to their own devices.
Spike was apoplectic with anger. “Oi, I object to the use of that word. We don’t need a babysitter.” He practically spat the word babysitter.
Buffy was resigned to their fate, but it didn’t mean she was going to accept it without complaint. “This is a total over reaction, Giles. Can I please go outside?”
“No,” he said shaking his head. “And you know why.”
She threw herself on the sofa in a huff. “I’m so bored.”
Dawn popped her head in the door of the sitting room where all three sat unhappily. “Anybody want to play a game of cards?”
“No!” Giles and Buffy answered in unison.
Spike got up. “Well it beats sitting around with this miserable lot. Lead the way, Bit.”
Dawn grinned in response. “In the kitchen, Bitty Vampire.”
He sighed dramatically as he followed. “Can’t anybody give me a little respect?”
Giles snorted at that. He figured now was as good a time as any to read through the books he did manage to bring with him. They were having no luck in isolating the spell that had been used. It seemed their best bet in figuring this out lay with finding Ethan. The problem was their discovery today meant that the possibility of doing so was even more remote. With Glory on his side, he would surely be impossible to find. What puzzled him was what Ethan could possibly be getting from this. His old friend always enjoyed causing a stir; helping a hell god was not really his usual pattern. Lost in thought Giles hardly noticed Buffy clamber up on the seat beside him. “Can I just sit here beside you?”
“Of course, Buffy.” He smiled down at her and picked up a book.
He had only managed half a page when Buffy interrupted him. “Giles, what if we can’t fix this and we have to stay little?” Her tone was plaintive and he felt his heart constrict at the fear in her voice.
“We will fix this.” He spoke firmly. “Don’t you worry.”
“D’ya promise?”
“I promise, my dear.” He ruffled her hair. She was closest he ever had to a child and it really hurt to see her in pain. She smiled up at him, satisfied, and he turned back to his book.
“Can I see?” Buffy peered into the book as well. Over the next five minutes she peppered him with questions regarding the book before going quiet. She had never shown as much interest in books as her older self. She hadn’t spoken a word for a few minutes when he noticed she had fallen asleep, her head on his lap. He smiled fondly at her and was soon engrossed in his reading again.

 

After an hour’s reading and no luck, Giles got up, careful not to wake up Buffy, and went into the kitchen. He put the kettle on to make himself a cup of what the Americans called tea. Dawn and Spike had abandoned their card game and were playing a game of monopoly instead.
“You gave up on cards, I see.”
“Nibblet didn’t much like being beaten.”
Dawn narrowed her eyes. “Only because you cheat!”
“I don’t have to cheat,” he scoffed.
She rolled her eyes and turned to Giles instead. “Janice will be here in half an hour.”
He nodded as he poured out his tea. “Let me know when you are leaving.” Joyce had told him Dawn was to be going to the cinema with her friend that evening. That meant that he would be left alone with the two. When he returned to his books, he found that Buffy was after waking up.
He chuckled as she rubbed her eyes. “It’s your fault you know.”
Giles was perplexed by her words.
“I don’t normally sleep during the day,” she said, with a mischievous grin. “It was your boring books that made me sleepy.”
She jumped off the seat and ran in the direction of the kitchen. He shook his head thinking despairingly of how the gang would cope if he wasn’t there to do the research. After Dawn left with her friend, Spike and Buffy had settled down to watch the television. Giles struggled with his reading as the words began to blur. It wouldn’t matter if he rested his eyes for a moment would it?

To be continued…