Stepping through the hole in the wall of her room, Dawn stood in the corridor and listened to the silence. Shivering a little, but not from the cold, she made her way along the darkened passageway her boots crunching on broken glass as she made her way between pieces of broken furniture. Turning the corner at the end of the corridor she stopped and gazed at the scene of destruction that greeted her eyes.
In front of her the burnt and broken remains of one of the base’s huts stood and dripped in the thin early morning light. The smell of wet ash came to her nose as she looked up through the hole in the ruined roof to see a clear blue sky. It was only then that she realised it must be morning and the storm was over. If it was morning, and the weather was good the authorities would be sending helicopters and troops to find out what had happen at Gloup.
Realising the full importance of these thoughts, Dawn immediately started to search for Faith and any survivors that there might be. Having been turned into what was, for all intents and purposes, a giant rabbit, Faith had hopped through the wall and gone in search of the vampire carrot. Hopefully she wouldn’t be far away, Dawn would be able to do the spell reversal chant and they’d both be ready and human by the time the rescue choppers arrived.
Making her way carefully across the burnt and blacked wreckage of the hut, Dawn went through the remains of the door on the other side of the burnt out area. The corridor here looked relatively undamaged; the door must have held back the fire. There was some smoke damage and of course the place looked as if someone had held an Ikea sale there; but there were no bodies lying on the floor for which Dawn would be eternally grateful.
Pushing her way through the door that led into the canteen, Dawn revised her thoughts about the lack of bodies. The creature must have used the canteen as a central collection point. There were bodies everywhere. Some had been thrown, as if discarded like rubbish, into the corners of the room. Some still hung from the ceiling over piles of earth. From the middle of each pile of earth sprouted several pods like obscenely bloated giant marrows.
Slowly Dawn walked around the room, some of the bodies she recognised; there was Dr Chapman and Wilson, slumped in a heap on the floor was McPherson his face covered with his own blood. Deciding she didn’t want to examine any of the others, Dawn turned away and headed for the door. Just as she was about to push her way through and out into the corridor several thoughts hit her all at once.
First; this couldn’t have all been done by one creature. This didn’t make her feel any better. One creature had been bad enough. More than one was infinitely worse.
Second; Dawn went back into the canteen to check on this; she studied one of the pods careful. It looked like some one, probably in the guise of a large rabbit, had stamped on the pod she was looking at. Dawn moved around the room checking on each of the pods. Every pod had been damaged in some way. One had been cracked wide open and she could see the embryonic plant creature in the pod. Turning away from the last pod, Dawn headed out the door; Faith had obviously fought the creature or creatures and been able to defeat them long enough to destroy their nursery. Time was marching on and it was getting really urgent that she find Faith.0=0=0=0
Eventually Dawn found Faith asleep in the remains of the vehicle maintenance bay. Dawn’d heard loud snoring from down the corridor, she’d followed the noise to find Faith asleep propped up against the wall with her giant, bunny-paws resting on her giant, distended, bunny-tummy. Around her lay the remains of a large number of plant creatures or at least the bits of plant creature that Bunny-Faith hadn’t eaten.
“Eww,” Dawn said quietly as she picked up and examined what remained of one of the creature’s legs.
Turning the leg in her hands, Dawn gulped when she examined the teeth marks at the end. The hard wood-like substance that must have served the creature for bone was all chewed and frayed. The greenish fleshy parts looked just like a melon did when someone had taken a few big mouthfuls out of it. Dropping the leg back onto the floor, Dawn made her way over to where Bunny-Faith slept, she nudged Faith’s great furry shoulder gingerly.
“Hey, Faith,” Dawn called not really sure if she wanted to wake Bunny-Faith up, “time to get up.”
Wondering whether it was best to let sleeping giant bunnies lie, Dawn stood back and scratched the back of her head.
“Oh-well,” Dawn tried again, “HEY! FAITHIE!” she yelled, “Rise and shine!”
This time her call had some effect; Faith blinked open her eyes and looked up sleepily at Dawn. For a moment she looked a little confused then she smiled, sat up, stretched her arms wide and then grabbed hold of Dawn in a big furry bunny embrace. Faith hugged Dawn rather like a small child hugs her favourite teddy, that is, too tightly.
“FAITH!” Came Dawn’s muffled cry from deep between Faith’s furry breasts.
Realising there was something wrong, Faith let go of Dawn but held her at arms length as if checking she was all there. Faith burped loudly into Dawn’s face and then looked slightly embarrassed.
“Eww, Faith,” Dawn waved her hand in front of her face, “talk about vegetable breath.”
Faith hung her head and looked sad, the sad look on her bunny-face pulled at Dawn’s heartstrings.
“Oh its okay,” Dawn relented, “but we’ve got to get you out of here so I can get you back to normal.”
Nodding her head eagerly, Faith climbed to her feet. Taking Faith by one giant paw, Dawn led her back to their room where she could do the reversal spell. As they walked thought the wreckage of the base, Dawn couldn’t help regretting that she’d not brought a camera, Bunny-Faith was rather cute. Not that real Faith wasn’t, but…0=0=0=0
After spending a couple of minutes stretching and getting used to her body again, Faith inspected herself to check there were no patches of fur left behind.
“Stop that,” Dawn called from the other side of the room, “you’re turning me on.”
“I am?” Faith stopped her self inspection, “I sorta thought that after seeing me like…well, y’know all super-bunny you’d not want to…”
“Don’t be silly,” Dawn grinned and stepped over to Faith; she placed her hands on Faith’s hips and kissed her tenderly on the lips, “there, I still love you and anyway you were kinda cute as Bunny-Faith. Now get dressed before the cavalry turn up. We’ve got enough to explain without you running around naked.”
“Yeah,” Faith started to get dressed as Dawn watched her every movement, “what about that? Do ya really think we should hang around and explain stuff to the cops?”
“Erm,” Dawn hesitated realising Faith had a point, “No, but I don’t see a way around it.”
“Look,” Faith was almost completely dressed by now, “there’s a town south of here, right?”
“Yeah,” Dawn agreed, “but its miles across the peat bogs and what passes for mountains in these parts.”
“Who said anything about walking?” Faith grinned.
“But…” Dawn had all her objections ready and lined up for use; they all melted away under the intensity of one of Faith’s more larcenous smiles. “oh…” Dawn said in a very quiet voice.0=0=0=0Slayer Central, Saltburn-by-the-Sea, Cleveland.
“Buffy?” Willow knocked loudly on the door of Buffy’s chalet.
After knocking and calling for several minutes, Willow was rewarded by having the door opened. The sight that greeted her eyes knocked her back more than a little, Buffy looked awful.
“Buffy?” Willow gave her friend a concerned frown, “Are you okay, coz I gotta say, you look like crap!”
“Whatever,” Buffy turned away from the door and shuffled back into her living room, and called over her shoulder “come in and close the door if you’re coming.”
Stepping through the door into the chalet, Willow grimaced, the air smelt stale with just a hint of garbage left too long in the kitchen bin. Following Buffy into her living room, Willow’s eyes flitted around the room. There were half empty containers of cold curry littering the table top, dirty plates lay piled up in the sink along with cups and glasses. As she walked further into the room her foot kicked something, she looked down to see what she’d hit. An empty vodka bottle lay on the floor. Looking up, Willow saw that Buffy had slumped down into one of her armchairs and was picking at a container of cold rice.
“You sure you’re okay?” Willow asked again as she gestured around the room, “this isn’t like you, Buffy.”
“What?” Buffy looked up from her chair, “Oh, that, I was out late last night I’ve not had a chance to clean up…”
“Or shower,” muttered Willow noting Buffy’s grubby pyjamas and dirty looking hair.
“Yeah,” Buffy gave Willow a hostile look, “like I say I was out late patrolling last night and I haven’t had a chance to clean up…I’ll do it later.”
“Its nearly one o’clock,” Willow pointed out inconveniently, “just how much later…”
“LOOK!” Buffy shouted angrily dropping her container of rice onto the floor, “I said I’d do it later. Now, what do you want?”
“I just came to say,” Willow tried to calm her pounding heart, Buffy’s sudden outburst had really frightened her, “Dawn and Faith will be back tomorrow,” Willow tried to smile as she remembered part of the story Dawn had phoned though to her about their escape. “Apparently they stole an army jeep or something and…”
“Whatever,” Buffy sighed, “was there anything else?”
“Um no,” Willow couldn’t understand how Buffy had changed over the last few weeks; if anything Buffy had been a bit overprotective about Dawn, now she didn’t seem to care.
“Okay then,” Buffy turned and stared out of the window, “close the door on your way out.”
“Okay,” Willow said quietly as she started to feel the tears burn in the corner of her eyes; she turned and headed towards the door but stopped before she was half way there. “I wish you’d talk to Dawn…and Faith. Dawnie’s really worried about you, she still needs her sister.”
“Why?” snapped Buffy turning to face Willow, “She doesn’t need me anymore she’s got Faith.”
Yes, thought Buffy, Faith who’d come into her life once before and tried to steal everything from her, she’d got her little sister now and no one else seemed to see it.
“Of course she needs you,” Willow took a step towards Buffy, “she loves you Buffy, you’re her big sister.”
“Dawn doesn’t love me, not now she’s got her hot slayer slut,” Buffy got up and walked over towards the window ignoring what Willow had said.
“Of course Dawn loves you,” Willow said quietly as she took a couple of tentative steps towards her old friend, “she’s just grown up now, she needs her own space, but she still needs her sister to be there for her.”
“And who’s going to be there for me, eh?” Buffy turned around and glared angrily at Willow, “You’ve all got someone,” Buffy snapped, “you and your rich-bitch girlfriend,” Willow retreated a little as Buffy came slowly towards her, “bet she bought you that dress, huh? What’d have to do for that, WHORE!?”
“BUFFY!” Willow’s hands flew to her mouth as the tears started to trickle down her face, “How can you say things like that?”
“Because they’re true!” Buffy snarled into Willow’s face, “Because you all left me out here with nothing and no one. Where were you when I was feeling lonely and sad? I had to sit there and deal with everything while you and that brat of yours were partying?”
“But, Buffy,” Willow tried once more to put things right, “you only had to say.” Willow tried to think of some solution to this problem someway to make things right again, “We’d have come round to help, we’d have worked something out, we always do and hey, Xander’s love life hasn’t been exactly thrilling this last year, I mean you could always have gone out with him…”
Even as the words were leaving her lips Willow knew that it’d been the wrong thing to say.
“Get out,” Buffy spat the words into Willow’s face.
“I-I’m sorry I didn’t…Aagh!” Willow found herself lying on the floor, her jaw felt numb and there was a nasty iron taste in her mouth. Touching her lip, Willow looked at her hand; there was blood on her fingers. “Y-you hit me!” sobbed Willow as she pushed herself up from the floor.
“And if you don’t get out,” sneered Buffy, “I’ll hit you again.”
Steading herself with one hand on the wall, Willow fought down the urge to reduce her once best friend to a smouldering grease stain on the carpet.
“Go on Willow,” Buffy taunted her friend, “zap me why don’t you? You know you want to.”
Turning, Willow ran from the chalet the sound of Buffy’s laughter ringing in her ears. As she ran she tried to work out what had gone wrong with her friend.
“It must be a spell,” she told herself, “someone’s cast a spell on Buffy.”
Still running, Willow ran straight into Kennedy’s arms.
“Hey!” Kennedy smiled, “what’s the big rush?” Frowning she noticed Willow’s tear stained cheeks and the blood on her lip, “What happened?”
“Oh that,” Willow took a tissue from up her sleeve and dabbed at her lip, “I-I fell and cut my lip…I’ll be fine, I’ll cast a glamour and no one will notice.”
“You tripped because you couldn’t see where you were going because you were crying?” Kennedy asked suspiciously.
“It’s nothing,” Willow smiled reassuringly, “now, I’ve gotta see Giles, do you know where he is?”0=0=0=0