The following is a bit of fiction based on certain characters from the Xenaverse & the world of the TV series "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." It is not meant to infringe on anyone else's rights. If you don't agree or disapprove, please go read something else.
This story is part of an Altaverse based on "Bite Me" and "The Fonder Heart." It can be found, along with other such stories, at The Realms of the Xenaverse, under Blood and Roses. To sum up the most pertinent details, Xena is Ares' Daughter and Gabrielle is Bacchus' Daughter... and they're involved. However, in this particular story, neither one appears. This is rather more a Buffy-verse tidbit with the inclusion of a character previously introduced in a different B & R story. ; ) It is another lead-in to a rather more complicated forthcoming story, and contains loads of trivial details culled from the Buffy TV show.
Content Warning : Nothing sexually explicit, nor anything even remotely suggestive. Holy Hera, I wrote a General story! <snicker> While there is some violence at levels appropriate to the two referenced shows, it is not especially gory. The body count is very, very low.
Timeline / Spoilers : Timewise, this takes place sometime during the second season of Buffy, after the death of the Master, but before the "Becoming" story arc. No spoilers for either show are included.
Xenite Disclaimer : Flopsy's cute widdle pointy teeth were not harmed during the production of this work.
"Oh, don't worry. I mean, they might not look it, but bunnies can really take care of themselves."
- Oz, "Phases" (Episode 27)
"This is bad Willow, really bad," Willow Rosenberg murmured quietly before dashing across the street, eyes carefully watching for vampires and other more mundane dangers. Caught outside in the middle of the night in Sunnydale without even pocket money to pay for a cab ride home... She was virtually a statistic already.
Her fruitless calls looking for possible sources of rides had drained her meager funds, and firmly established that no one she knew was home or awake despite the late hour. She was entirely on her own, in a town best known for the mysterious and unexplained deaths and disappearances.
Finding a small pocket of shadow beside a stairway, she gratefully sank back out of sight and considered her options. There were only a few places she could go at this time of night and be safe, and none of them were very close.
The school? Giles' weapons cache would be very comforting to be near, and she'd slept in the library more times than she could remember. Unfortunately, Shady Hill Cemetery lay between her current hiding place and Sunnydale High, and considering her current plight, she wanted to avoid those hotbeds of vampire activity as much as possible.
Her house? To get there she'd have to cross Weatherly Park, and ever since the death of the Master, it had become a prime hunting ground for some of the lazier demons dwelling in the area.
Buffy's house? It was closer, but both Restfield and the Eternal Slumber Cemeteries were in the way. Sometimes being in a town with a mortality rate as high as Sunnydale's created more problems than just the obvious one, she thought rather facetiously... even if it did keep home prices low.
That left only Giles' home. It was close and she had a key, and there were no cemeteries or parks on the way, but it would take her uncomfortably close to Willy's bar... which, if Buffy was to be believed, would have been a dangerous place to go even if vampires didn't like to congregate there.
Still, of the four options available, it held the best chance for her safe arrival. Not good, she understood, but the best available. Sighing gently, she left her meager shelter and hurried into the night.
Despite her fears, or perhaps because of them, she made good time. It hardly seemed like any time had passed at all before she was crossing the grassy sward in front of the First Sunnydale Savings and Loan, which was barely a mile away from Giles' place.
A carefree skip entered her step, and she unconsciously increased her pace. She was home free now...
"Hey, little girl, where're you going in such a hurry?" a deep male voice called.
She'd spoken too soon, she realized. Or thought, anyway, she added to her mental dialogue. Looking around, she failed to see the source of the voice, but she knew the person - or creature, more precisely - who'd spoken was close. Just when she thought she was safe was naturally when something like this simply had to happen. A voice coming from the darkness to remind her she was standing atop a Hellmouth...
Worse, the voice had the distinctive slight lisp of someone trying to speak through fangs. Vampire diction suffered for a few years after their creation, she remembered, rather uselessly recalling a tidbit from one of Giles' more esoteric lectures. A demon had to learn how to work it's new body, after all, and the muscles "remembered" speaking with rather less imposing incisors, so it took some time to make them adjust to the new dentition. That meant it was a young one... that was something at least. They were weakest after first awakening, and more vulnerable to...
But it didn't matter, she sadly realized. She didn't have one anyway. Just for a moment, she dearly wished her father would let her carry a cross - despite their religion; even a small one...
Not even her spellcasting would be able to help her. Her few attempts at sorcery were of mixed success, and required far more apparatus than she could ever hope to carry around with her. She was all alone - and vulnerable.
Abruptly realizing her mind was wandering while a vampire was lurking nearby, she mentally kicked herself and started running, heart pounding harder as she heard the footfalls that began shadowing hers... and getting closer. It almost sounded like an echo of her own footsteps... but she knew it wasn't.
Adrenaline helped her pick up speed. If Coach Foster - her gym coach - had seen her sprint, she would have been so surprised all her chest hair would have fallen out. She wasn't very athletic, but running for her life lent her feet wings Hermes would have envied. Unfortunately, the vampire was even faster. Demons weren't known for their strict adherence to natural laws, after all.
She'd barely gone a block, legs flying as she fled with every scrap of her panicked energy devoted to ensuring her survival, when the inevitable happened. She tripped.
Tumbling and rolling across the lawn in front of a deserted laundromat, she wound up face down in the soft grass. To her surprise, she was uninjured, but she knew that condition wouldn't last long.
Footsteps walked up behind her and came to a stop. The vampire didn't even sound winded - not that they needed to breathe, she knew - as he snickered at the sight of her prone and graceless posture.
Lifting her face out of the grass and spitting out the dirt that had found its way into her mouth on impact, she looked up... directly into the soft dewy eyes of a bunny rabbit. She knew it was only her mind trying to flee from the certainty of her impending demise, but the only thing that she could think was, "How cute."
It was large for a rabbit, almost the size of an adult human head. It's coat was predominantly a soft grayish-brown, and the eyes were the most adorable things... Larger, moister eyes had not been seen outside of black velvet paintings, and the kitschy paintings of children in pediatricians' offices. Its nose was pink, and damp, and twitched so delightfully, she felt soothed just looking at it. It was so wonderful...
Naturally, the brief interlude couldn't last.
"What's that you got there, little girl... a widdle wabbit?" The vampire's lisp grew more pronounced as he ceased bothering to try to hide his nature. His face shifted into it's true, demonic appearance and a muffled growl escaped his throat. "I guess I've got dinner... and dessert!"
Swallowing a whimper, Willow silently urged the adorable animal to run away. Maybe it could escape even if she couldn't.
The rabbit ignored her, although it did seem to look over her head at the monster standing above Willow's body.
"Mr. Rabbit?" she said softly, trying not to provoke the vampire into an attack - she knew it would come soon enough as it was.
The rabbit's small, glistening brownish lips drew back, revealing a mouthful of razor sharp fangs.
Willow blinked. The fangs were still there. Leave it to the Hellmouth to come up with something wicked disguised as something so innocent and cuddly.
Her musings were interrupted as a clawed hand grabbed her ankle. She screamed, hoping Buffy was patrolling near enough to hear her, but no one answered her cry.
It was at that moment that the rabbit attacked.
With a squeal, it leaped over her head, forepaws outstretched and tiny claws bared, and bit the vampire squarely on the throat.
The vampire roared in pain as the bunny's teeth bit through his flesh, gouging ever deeper in search of a major blood vessel. Dropping Willow's foot, he staggered back, desperately trying to pull the beast away from his throat. He spun like a dervish, wildly striking with one fist at the creature that had looked like a harmless bunny. He tried desperately to free himself, but to no avail. The rabbit dug in with its claws, piercing the vampire's chest, and held on, gouging out chunks of its neck with each vicious bite.
Willow didn't bother waiting on the outcome. She leaped to her feet and ran, the screams and shouts of the monstrous combatants driving her on.
She looked back only once, when she'd reached the end of the block. It was hard to see from such a distance, but she thought she saw the end of the combat, although only brief images remained in her memory to haunt her nightmares.
The vampire pausing midspin, throwing out his arms and clawing wildly at the air...
The rabbit squealing and clawing at its chest, drawing blood with each rake of its sharp nails, then driving his head forward into the gaping wound on the vampire's neck with the speed of a striking mongoose...
The wide-eyed expression of shock on the vampire's contorted features as the vampire's head slowly toppled from it's shoulders to bounce against the soft bed of grass...
Finally, the startled squawk from the rabbit-creature as the vampire disintegrated, causing it to fall to the ground in an explosion of dust.
Willow didn't wait any longer. She turned and ran, moving even faster than she had earlier, straight to Rupert Giles' home.
Leaping down the short flight of stairs that led to his front door, and skidding to an awkward halt, she finally stopped, winded and terrified, in front of his door. Willow pounded on the wooden door madly, ignoring the knocker, all the while fumbling through her pants' pockets in search of her key. "Giles!" she screeched, terror lending her lungs volume.
The door opened slightly before she could find her key, and she swiftly shouldered her way in, slamming the door behind her and sinking to the floor inside the safety of the Watcher's house.
She was finally safe.
"Willow? What's wrong?" the rich tones of the British Watcher washed over her as he curiously took in her pale face, fetal positioning, and heaving breath.
Her inarticulate state was understandable, even if it was incomprehensible to Giles. "Vampire... Rabbit... Vampire Rabbit... bunny fear," she gasped out, clutching her legs and burying her face in her knees. "Safe now."
"Will?" the rather less dulcet tones of Xander Harris asked. "Man, you're totally freaked. What happened?"
Giles went to his kitchen to make her a cup of tea while her friend and classmate struggled to soothe her. She was still largely incoherent when he returned, but at least some color was beginning to return to her cheeks. Waiting for her to take a sip of the hot tea, he asked again, "Can you tell us what happened?"
Willow's eyes were wild, and her explanation was severely disjointed, coming in spurts between gulps of the spicy tea he had prepared for her. "Called... not home... alone... ran... why here?" she asked, looking at Xander.
"Why here? Why... why am I here?" Xander realized she meant. "Oh, I was caught at the Bronze without a ride. The G-man here went to pick me up."
He was oblivious to the dirty look Willow sent his way. Giles on the other hand, did notice, and realized at least some of what had happened. "I told you not to call me that," he muttered to Xander before turning back to Willow. "You were stuck somewhere as well, but when you called I had already left to get Xander?"
Willow nodded furiously.
At least she was starting to make sense, the Watcher thought. Somewhat. Helping her to her feet, the two males helped Willow over to his couch.
As soon as she was resting on the cushions, she curled up again, instinctively going fetal in her fear. "Would you like more tea?" he asked, realizing she needed a little more time before she would be able to explain what had happened clearly. At her slight nod of agreement, he went back to the kitchen.
Xander was becoming nearly as freaked as Willow clearly was. His "bestest bud," as he liked to think of her, was gonzo, and he hadn't a clue what to do to help her. He paced restlessly back and forth in front of the couch, uncertain of what he should do - or even if he could do anything.
Giles returned with the tea and sat beside her, lending the comfort of a solid adult presence to the troubled youth. "Are you ready to try to talk now?" he asked gently.
Taking another drink, Willow nodded. "Good girl," Giles praised her. Considering his limited information, he ordered the facts as he knew them, then began. "Alright... Now, you were alone, couldn't find anyone to help you, and you tried to make it here by yourself, correct?"
"Correct," the slightly calmer girl parroted back, before regaining a little of her usual spirit. "That's right."
Xander opened his mouth to speak, but the Watcher irritably waved him to silence. Smiling slightly when the boy complied, he continued his gentle interrogation. "And... you were attacked?" he ventured.
Willow nodded furiously, her hands tightening around the teacup they clenched in a white-knuckled grip. The tea within it sloshed dangerously near the lip as her hands began to shake. Even though he was exceedingly cautious in his wording, the trauma was too new, too fresh. It kept coming back as she thought back on the recent events.
"Was it a vampire?" Xander demanded, his fists clenching.
"Yes," Willow answered, softly. "Young. He lisped."
"Well, I... I... I'm glad to see that you were paying attention to the lectures, Willow," Giles smiled uncertainly. "What happened next?"
"Under the circumstances, the best thing you could have done. You got away, then?" the Watcher asked, lifting an eyebrow.
Shaking her head violently, Willow caused her long red hair to flop about. "I tripped," she admitted in a soft voice.
With as much subtlety as he could muster, Giles examined as much of her neck as he could without adjusting her collar. Seeing no indication of bite marks, he probed further, "A vampire chased you, and you tripped, and then..." he trailed off.
"There was a bunny... but with fangs," Willow tried to explain, feeling like she was close to hyperventilating.
"Like Miss February?" Xander inserted, eyes widening. "With the ears and the puffy tail... Hey, how come all the vamps I run into look like they've been dead for a week, and Will runs into the supermodel ones?"
"Do be quiet Mr. Harris," Giles ordered, his tone holding an unaccustomed edge. "There was... was... a... a vampire in a bunny costume?" he asked Willow in a much gentler voice, his brow furrowing.
"No, no," Willow asserted, setting aside the tea cup and rocking in place. "Bunny... like a cute little rabbit. He was adorable... but with fangs."
Even Giles was taken aback. "Um... a fanged rabbit?"
Willow nodded, eyes wide. "So, now I have bunny fear," she explained helpfully, shivering in aftershock.
"Will... did somebody maybe..." he trailed off before continuing, "slip something into your drink tonight? Rabbits don't have fangs," Xander tried to sway her from her story.
"This one did," Willow asserted. "It... It bit the vampire's head clean off and it saved me... but I ran anyway, and I didn't stop running until I got here."
"Um, Will... it's not that I don't believe you, but remember last Tuesday, after the Indian musical movie fest? The Monty Python film we rented? Are you sure this isn't like that time you called me in the middle of the night screaming about tadpoles?"
"This is not frog fear! This is bunny fear! This is worse!" Willow was indignant at his disbelief.
Giles pulled off his glasses and cleaned them with a handkerchief. "Don't discount her story entirely, Xander. The world is a very old place, and some of its denizens are stranger than even I can conceive."
Xander actually looked shocked at the Watcher's quiet admission. "You mean there really are fanged bunnies?" Bitter experience allowed him enough suspension of disbelief to accept the possibility. "I guess that's life on the Hellmouth, for ya..."
"Not just on the Hellmouth," the Watcher asserted. "in... in..." he turned and pawed through one of his bookcases, finally pulling out an ancient tome bound in fading black leather, "the writings of Draemius, Volume 4, he mentions a creature of this sort, and in Sir Robert Kane's Twilight Compendium, it describes a 'sharptoothed rabbit' that once killed a master-class vampire. I always assumed t - t - they were simply repeating earlier legends, but perhaps they are indeed based on fact."
"So it's a good pointy- toothed monster?" Xander asked.
"Well, comparatively," he admitted. He looked thoughtful as he chewed contemplatively on the earpiece to his glasses, then explained. "There's a Watcher diary from the early 12th Century that tells of a creature of that sort drinking the blood of an injured Watcher, b - but she... the Watcher at the time, that is, survived the attack..." he stammered slightly as he continued, "a - a - and didn't turn into one after her eventual death, a few years later." He leafed through the volume he held in his hands, searching for the proper page.
Willow slowly slumped into sleep on the couch, ignoring the conversation taking place over her head. She was feeling warm, safe and secure, and was exhausted from her ordeal. Her mind gleefully shut itself down and she sank into the comforting embrace of Morpheus' arms.
Xander simply continued to stare at the Watcher as he pored over the close-written Latin text, trying to find the appropriate passage. After he showed no sign of breaking off the research in the near future, he was compelled to speak. "OK... there are fanged bunnies running around, and they're our friends. Cool. I can deal. But..." he emphasized, "as the Watcher, it's your duty to explain all this to Buffy." He smirked and crossed his arms, finally feeling he had gotten one up on the older man.
Giles digested that for a moment, then rubbed his temples. The very idea of attempting to explain the current situation to his... unorthodox Slayer was giving him a headache. She was too often unpredictable in her reaction to the strangeness the emanations from the Hellmouth drew to Sunnydale for him to look forward to the attempt. Slipping his glasses back on, he ventured, "Do you suppose we could convince Willow to simply remain quiet about all this?"
Afterword : Deus Ex Gabrielle is coming. The muses have been pulling me in several directions, and I'm trying to maintain a level of writing that's higher in DExG. To paraphrase Spike (from "Lover's Walk") : "I may be the muse's b*tch, but at least I have the guts to admit it."
Thanks for all the kind words I've received from readers, and I'm gonna try my best to have DExG 11 done before February. Honest.