Disclaimer: Nothing belongs to me..all characters belong to their creators, which isn't me.
“I can’t believe I let you talk me into this.”
“Hey. If I have to suffer, you have to suffer.”
Gus rolled his eyes at Shawn’s back as they followed Henry Spencer along the hiking “trail”. Trail being loosely used to describe the tightrope thin line they were currently following through the woods. He was pretty sure that every single pricker bush in existence was on this path, again path being a term loosely used. “Tell me again why we’re doing this, Shawn.”
Shawn turned around, adjusting the pack he was being made to carry on the forced march he was being made to endure, walking backwards so he could talk to Gus face to face. “I told you. It’s the payment for Dad helping us out with the Russell case. Three days camping in the woods. In a tent. And fishing. C’mon, Gus. It’s not like I WANT to be here.”
“I can hear you.” Henry called back, not slowing his stride. He did, however, alter their course so as to hit even more of the pesky jagger bushes.
Gus adjusted his own pack. “Why do I have to be here?”
Shawn rolled his eyes and lowered his voice. “Maybe we can lose him in the woods.”
“I can STILL hear you. You know, Shawn, it’s that attitude that keeps you from becoming a success. It’s that attitude that has you one step up from a con-man.”
Shawn turned around to look at his father but Henry was still walking through the woods. “I’m doing just fine.”
Henry laughed. “Just fine. No REAL job. No REAL prospects. It’s no wonder you can’t find a girlfriend. Just Gus.”
“Hey!” Gus tripped over a root. “What’d I do? I have a job….” He trailed off as Shawn fell back to give him a slap across the back of the head. He elbowed Shawn and Shawn slapped him again. They both flailed their arms wildly, neither hitting the other anywhere but the hands until Henry yelled at them to catch up or be lost. They looked at each other for a long moment, contemplating the benefits of being lost without Henry and then, as one, sighed and hurried to catch up.
“I can’t believe I let you talk me into this….”
“It’s for your own good. You need to relax and get in touch with your inner self. Really, Buffy, must you complain about every little thing?”
“But Giiiiles, I hate camping.” Her whiny voice usually got through to Giles.
“No, Buffy. I really must insist. And stop whining. You are the Slayer. The Slayer does not whine about a little thing like camping.”
She crinkled up her nose and gave his back her trademark pout. “But Giles…”
“And don’t think that pouting will get you out of this either.” Ahead of her on the trail, where she couldn’t see his face, Giles smiled. This camping trip was just the thing to bring their relationship back where it was meant to be. Things had been tense between them since long before the battle with The First, but now, with other slayers to take up the slack, this was just the bonding time that Watcher and Slayer needed.
Buffy stopped pouting and stuck her tongue out at his back. His smile widened to a grin when he heard her loud “Humph” as he said “And don’t stick your tongue out.”
Buffy’s face formed a grin of its own as she said “So, are we there yet?”
“Well, are we almost there?”
“No, Buffy.” His voice was still calm.
“Well, how much longer until we’re there?”
“Not long.” His voice, still calm, was showing a little impatience.
“How long is not long, Giles?”
“We’ll be there soon.” Was that annoyance she heard in his voice?
“Soon? How long is soon?”
“Buffy, we will be there when we get there.” Yep, that was definitely annoyance.
“But WHEN we will get there?”
“Must you continually ask irrelevant questions?” Oh yeah, he was getting irked now.
She bit her lip to hide her smile in case he should turn around. “Are we there yet isn’t an irrelevant question. It’s a good question because I want to know if we’re there yet.”
They walked in silence for a whole minute.
“Well, are we there now?”
“When do you think we’ll be there?”
“You already said that.”
“Buffy.” Oh yeah, impatience and annoyance. He was going to break any minute now.
“Okay, then, how much FURTHER is it?”
Giles turned around to glare at her but his gaze softened when he took in her innocent face. “Less than a mile, Buffy.”
“Are we there yet?”
“No, Shawn.” Henry snapped.
“Well, are we almost there?” Shawn did a little dance around a well-hidden rock.
“No. Stop asking stupid questions.”
“Well, how much further is it?”
“Shawn! If you ask one more stupid question you will be on latrine duty for the whole weekend, is that clear?”
“Crystal, Sir!” He snapped off a sloppy salute, wasted, as his father hadn’t turned around to look at him for what seemed like hours. He thought for a short minute and then said, “I wonder how much further it is.”
Henry turned around. “That’s it….”
Shawn cut him off. “Ah, ah, ah, you said QUESTIONS. I wonder is not a question, it’s a statement.”
Henry thought he should be used to Shawn’s antics by now but it still irked him when he was gotten the better of. “Fine. It’s less than a mile.” He turned and stalked off down the path, leaving a semi-satisfied Shawn and a totally annoyed Gus to follow.
Buffy watched Giles’ back as his much longer legs ate up the distance. Sure she had Slayer stamina and speed, but did the man have to walk so fast? She adjusted her sunglasses and sang in a crisp and clear voice “99 bottles of beer on the wall, 99 bottles of beer, take one down, pass it around, 98 bottles of beer on the wall…” She had the slight satisfaction of seeing her Watcher’s back stiffen and an ever-so-slight hitch to his step but he continued on, not looking at her.
Shawn watched as Henry, used to camping and hiking in the woods, strode along the path, seemingly immune to the pricker bushes and animal droppings that were plaguing he and Gus. Sure he was super observant but even he couldn’t see every pile of animal dung in the forest. He adjusted his sunglasses and sang in a crisp, clear voice, “99 bottles of beer on the wall, 99 bottles of beer, take one down, pass it around, 98 bottles of beer on the wall…” He had the immense satisfaction of seeing Henry nearly stumble over nothing and then continue on, still not looking at him.
Giles sighed with immense relief as they finally reached the campsite. Buffy was on, “62 bottles of beer on the wall, 62 bottles of beer…” and if he ever even SAW another bottle of beer he would not be responsible for his actions. So absorbed was he in trying to tune out his Slayer’s incessant rambling that he completely missed the party of three that appeared from the trees on the other side. Until, horror of horrors, he heard what the young man in the middle was saying….singing. “61 bottles of beer on the wall, 61 bottles of beer…” He correctly judged the look on older man’s face as extreme aggravation and could only thank his lucky stars. Whereas Buffy was merely singing the annoying song, the man on the other side of the clearing was throwing his head back and his arms out the side like he was the star of a Broadway musical. All in all, Giles figured, he was at the better end of the annoyance spectrum.
Buffy stopped singing when she heard the same song being echoed back from across the way. She slid her sunglasses up on her head as she and Giles made their way to the middle of the clearing. He was way taller than she was, but then, really, who wasn’t? He had brown hair and hazel eyes, six days worth of 5:00 shadow and was a nice hunk of salty goodness.
Shawn stopped singing at the same time Buffy did and did his best not to gape at the petite blonde. He could see her green eyes sparkling with mischief even from the distance between them and he immediately recognized a kindred spirit. He followed Henry to the middle of the clearing.
Giles began patting his pockets, stopping at the breast pocket of the western cut denim shirt Buffy had made him wear, he was sure, as punishment for the camping trip. He pulled out his lot reservation and shook it open. “I believe we have this site for the next three days.”
Henry yanked his own reservation out and unfolded, handing it over to Giles and grabbing the one Giles had. “No, I think we do.”
Giles studied the paper, as did Henry, and spoke. “It seems as if they’ve double booked us.”
“We can share.” Shawn and Buffy both yelled, a bit too loudly for the quiet of the woods. Buffy blushed prettily and Shawn grinned.