Spike woke up slightly at sunrise, when the Mammoth that had been propping him up on one side got up to go graze. He tipped over a little, causing Dawn to shift on top of him, so that she was laying more on his side than his back. Buffy unconsciously snuggled closer, against the soft fur on Spike’s wolf stomach, and the wolf sighed happily. He was too warm to wake up now. Go back to sleep.
He woke up again to the sound of giggling and a very pleasant feeling on his ribs. “Huh?”, he muttered groggily.
“Oh, he’s waking up. Buffy, should I stop?”, Dawn’s voice said.
“Nope,” the Slayer’s voice said. “I think he likes this, anyway.”
Spike raised his head and came face to face with a mini Smilodon, who was perched on his side, kneading his ribs gently with her paws. “Morning.”
He looked around to see Buffy sitting nearby. “Hey, puppy dog.”
He chuckled. “Mornin’, luv, Bit.” Looked at Dawn again. “What’re you doing?”
She giggled. “If I do this fast, your leg goes. Like Thumper. Watch.” She sped up her kneading, and the wolf’s left hind leg started kicking uncontrollably. “See?”
Buffy laughed. “That is sooo funny. I knew you were sensitive, but this is too much.”
Spike, meanwhile, had closed his eyes and his mouth had lolled open slightly. “Ooh. That feels so good.”
Buffy got up and trotted over to them, placing her paws on Spike’s stomach and copying Dawn’s kneading. To both their surprises, as well as Spike’s, the wolf yapped a little, and that overlapped Spike’s mental laughter. “Stop it! Stop it! You’re bleedin’ tickling me!”
They kept after him, both laughing, until he managed to roll over onto his stomach and shake Dawn off. He hop/walked a couple of feet away. Panting and trying to growl. “Don’t ever do that again.”
Dawn trotted up to him, giggling. She nuzzled under his chin gently. “Sorry, Spike.”
He chuckled and poked her with a paw. “Yeah, yeah.” He looked around. “Where is everyone?”
Buffy walked up, her natural grace blending with that of the Smilodon. “Giles and Anya are out getting a salad. Willow, Tara, and Xander are fishing.” She sat down and scratched at her short mane with a hind leg. “I already got Dawn and I some fish. If you want some, I can get it.”
Spike snorted and shook his head. “Nope. I hate fish.”
Buffy shook her head. “Sorry. We can’t be picky. It’s either fish or starve. And since you didn’t eat yesterday, you need to eat today.”
Dawn made a face. “To tell you the truth, I hate fish, too. But this thing’s taste buds like it. I just tell myself that it’s sushi. Sushi that’s still moving, but sushi just the same. Mom liked sushi.”
Spike sighed and shook himself, stretching a little. “Fine. But I can catch my own.” He trotted toward where Willow, Tara, and Xander were now lounging by the stream. Buffy and Dawn exchanged a look and a Smilodon shrug, then followed the Dire Wolf.
“Mornin’, Dead Boy Junior,” Xander said from his spot in the grass. The Hyena was lying on his back with his paws in the air and gave a half wave as the wolf passed.
Willow and Tara were snuggled close together, their long tails wrapped around each other. “Hi, Spike,” they said in unison.
“Mornin,” the wolf muttered, as he stood on the bank of the stream and focused his eyes below the water. Stick, stick, stick… Mud blob… Stick, stick.. FISH! He darted his jaws below the water and clamped them shut on a fish. He felt the very satisfying sensation of his fangs sliding through the fish’s scales and into it’s flesh. The fish’s cold blood stained his wolf snout as he shook the fish to kill it, like a dog worrying a rat. Once it stopped moving, he carried it over and lay down with it between his forepaws, tearing at it with his teeth. Well, this wasn’t *that* bad. Actually, kind of good. Salty, but not too much. And crunchy bones. He finished the fish and went back to the stream for another. He repeated his performance two more times, before his stomach informed him that he’d had enough. Then he just walked over and flopped in the grass about thirty feet from the others. Within a couple of moments, his full stomach had lulled him to sleep.
Something was poking him. It was annoying, so Spike tried to raise an arm and swat it away. It didn’t work because his arm wasn’t attached the way it was supposed to be. He opened his eyes, and remembered everything. The wolf, being outside, and that was the trunk of a Mammoth that was poking him. “What is it, Rupert?”
Giles sighed. “As much as it pains me to ask, I need your help.”
Spike sat up and shook himself a little. “What with?”
Giles sighed again. “Our current predicament, actually. I’m assuming you want to get home as much as the rest of us?”
He yawned. “Yeah, I guess. Why?”
“Dawn has to feel like we’re a family if we are to get home. So you need to stop going off by yourself.”
Spike chuckled. “What do you want, Rupert? I’m not exactly the touchy-feely type. I’m doin’ the best I can with what I’ve got to work with.”
“Could you just…” The Mammoth waved his trunk around in a gesture of futility. “Talk to everyone? Spend some time with Dawn. Just stop going off by yourself to lay down, okay?”
Spike sighed and nodded slightly. “Alright. But I’m not talkin’ to Harris. Was there anything else?”
The Mammoth nodded. “Yes, actually. Besides Tara and Anya, I don’t really have any information on that amulet. I was hoping that you’d perhaps know something?”
The Dire Wolf stood up and stretched. “Yeah. I know what they said earlier. And one other thing.”
Spike looked up at Giles. “We can’t stay here.”
The Watcher stared down at his canine companion. “Why not? Here has everything we need. Grass, fish, fresh water.”
Spike nodded. “Yeah. But we can’t get home from here. If I’m right about what that amulet’s done to us, we have to find where Sunnydale will be in order to get home. And we have to find it before that amulet stops glowing.”
“As of this morning, it’s still the same. I’m beginning to worry that we may be here for quite some time.” He looked around. “What makes you think that we aren’t in Sunnydale now?”
Spike chuckled. “I may be a wolf, but I still have my extra senses. I don’t feel like we’re anywhere near the Hellmouth. Ask Buffy. She should feel it too.”
Giles sighed. “If you’re right, and we aren’t in Sunnydale, then where are we?”
Spike shrugged as best he could. “My guess? Somewhere near LA. And there’s one landmark that we can find to tell us exactly where we are.”
Spike sighed. “The La Brea Tar Pits. They were around during the last Ice Age, which seems to be where we are. It’s summer now, so it’s only deathly cold at night, but if we’re still here in winter, I doubt Harris and the Wiccas will do very well. The rest of us have relatively long fur, and good insulation. They don’t. I’m guessing that the Dinofelis and Hyena are migratory. Just passing through.”
Giles held his trunk up, the Mammoth version of throwing your arms in the air. “How, may I ask, do you know all of this?!”
Spike chuckled. “I pirated cable. I watch Discovery Channel sometimes. I saw Walking With Prehistoric Beasts about two weeks ago. I didn’t know that it would turn out to be prophetic.”
Giles sighed. “Very well. I’ll tell the others that we need to get moving.” He started to walk away, then turned back. “Which way do you think that these Tar Pits will be?”
Spike sighed. “All I know is west of here. Maybe a little north. I’m getting a scent when the wind comes from that direction that makes the wolf nervous. I’m pretty sure that’s what it is.”
“Ah.” The Mammoth turned again and walked toward the others, trumpeting for attention. Spike watched for a moment, then trotted after him.
Later that day, they were all moving in a west northwesterly direction. It had to be the single weirdest herd that anyone had ever seen. A Mammoth, a Woolly Rhino, two Dinofelis, two Smilodons, one juvenile and one adult, and a Dire Wolf. Dawn got tired fast, and was riding on Anya’s back at that moment. Giles, having the longest legs, was out ahead of the others a bit, with Anya a close second. The two Wiccas and Xander were trotting close behind Anya. Buffy and Spike were in the lead, using their noses to search for the Tar Pits. Spike had explained that, even though they may not smell the tar until they got close, the whole Tar Pit area was a predator trap. Meaning that animals got stuck in the tar, died, and their rotting bodies attracted predators, who got stuck, and in turn they attracted more predators and so on. So it was most likely the predators that would find the Tar Pits first.
“Not to sound like I’m lazy, or anything,” Xander called from behind the others. “But can we take a break? My paws are killing me.”
“Yeah,” Willow said. “And I’m getting hungry.”
Giles smacked his domed forehead with his trunk. “Damn. I knew we should have brought some fish with us. Now what are we going to do?”
Tara looked around. “Even if we were going to hunt, there don’t seem to be any herds of… well.. anything here.”
“We can go awhile without eating,” Spike said, sitting down and scratching his ear. “Probably at least two days without ill effects.”
Buffy nodded. “Yeah. But Giles and Anya should eat.”
Dawn hopped off Anya’s back and trotted over to her sister. “Why? If we can go without food, why can’t they?”
Spike cleared his throat. “They’re herbivores, Bit. Their metabolism is quite different from ours. If Rupert and Anya don’t eat all the time, they may not make it.”
Dawn’s yellow eyes got wide and she turned to Giles. “Okay. Go eat. We’ll wait.”
Giles chuckled. “It wouldn’t be quite that bad, Spike. Don’t worry, Dawn.” He turned and lumbered off with the Rhino to eat.
Spike laid down, rolled on his back, and yawned. “It’ll be sundown soon, anyway.”
Dawn trotted over and climbed up onto his furry stomach, snuggling down and resting her head on his chest. “I’m really sorry that I got us all thrown back here.”
Buffy sat next to Spike and sighed. “It’s not your fault, Dawnie. Really.”
Xander stretched and trotted over. “Yeah, Dawn. We’re the ones who haven’t been around lately. I don’t blame you for feeling lonely.”
“And we’ve all done things that we didn’t mean to do.” This from Willow, who ducked her head as she said it.
Tara nuzzled her. “And no one blames people for accidents, Dawnie.” She looked Willow in the eyes. “No one.” The two Dinofelis’ purred and nuzzled each other.
Spike chuckled. “Yeah, Bit. Look at me. With everything I’ve done, and I’m still here. Still a part.” Snort. “A reluctant part, but a part.”
Dawn purred and nuzzled Spike, then got off him to nuzzle the others in turn. “Thanks guys. You really aren’t mad?”
A chorus of ‘no’s came from the assembled animals as the sun started to slip behind the horizon. A few minutes later, Anya and Giles returned and everyone duplicated their actions from the previous night, snuggling down together. Including Spike from the beginning this time, with him squashed between Giles and Buffy, with Dawn on his back. He yawned, which passed to each of the others in turn. Apparently, yawning is contagious even in the Pleistocene. It didn’t take long before everyone was fast asleep.
The wind shifted early the next morning, before the sun had even come up far enough to give more than the slightest light, carrying a scent that awakened the by then extremely hungry Dire Wolf. Sniffing sleepily, he backed slowly out from under Dawn, letting Buffy and Giles feel her in-between them instead of him. Neither Smilodons or the Mammoth noticed his sudden absence.
The wind was coming from the northwest, and whatever he was smelling was delicious. He debated waking the others up, but changed his mind. If he woke them up, he’d have to share whatever he found. Sure, the Scoobies were his ‘friends’, but still. When it comes to food, vampires… or wolves, can be very possessive.
He followed the scent for about thirty minutes, finally finding the source. A dead Mammoth. Juvenile, from the look at it. Whatever had killed it, seemed to be long gone. The carcass was fresh, but slightly desiccated, as whatever had killed it had obviously eaten a good bit of it as well. But there was still a good deal of meat on it’s body. Spike licked his lips and climbed up onto the carcass to where a large hole had been ripped in it’s side, showing what was left of the viscera inside.
Ignoring the part of him that said that this was disgusting, and very, very wrong. GILES was a Mammoth, for crying out loud! It was like eating his brother or something! But he pushed these feelings deep down, concentrating only on the emptiness in his stomach, and the fact that this was a source of food that would end those painful feelings. He plunged his snout, and most of his head into the carcass, swallowing hunks of partially decomposed lung and liver.
His ears, which were still mostly above the opening of the hole, twitched. Thinking that the others had followed the scent, he raised his head and now blood covered snout to call to them. And instead came face to face with the ugliest bird he’d ever seen.
It looked like someone had crossed an ostrich with an eagle, and given it a vulture’s face. The thing was taller than him, and had a wickedly curved beak and talons on each foot to match. And it was standing on the dead Mammoth’s shoulder blade. Terror Bird, Spike’s memory gave the name. Still, it was bigger than him, but he could probably take it. Give the others some overgrown chicken for lunch. He snarled at the Terror Bird. “Back off, Big Bird. This is my lunch.” He snapped his jaws at it and snarled again.
The Bird didn’t back away, it reared back and cawed loudly, then kicked at him. Only the wolf’s quick reflexes kept him from being sliced open like a canned ham. “Whoa! Down, Tweety!” He barked at it and snapped again, getting a mouthful of feathers for his trouble.
The Bird screeched, and hit him hard in the side with it’s beak, sending him tumbling off the Mammoth carcass. He hit the ground and got up, preparing to jump back onto the body and confront this stupid sack of feathers, when he heard more caws and screeches. Coming from behind him. He turned slowly to see five more Terror Birds advancing quickly. “Bloody hell. Just my luck. I walk in on an Ice Age turkey convention.”
The birds surrounded him, the one up on the Mammoth jumping down to help it’s friends. Spike growled and snapped turning in a tight circle, but was unable to block from all sides. “Go on! You can have the bloody Mammoth! I don’t want it any- HEY! Watch the talons, Fluffy!” But the Birds kept after him. Why wouldn’t they go for the Mammoth… A horrible realization hit him. Why go for dead meat, when they could have something much fresher? Unfortunately, the fresh meat was him. At this moment, only one thought passed through the vampire turned Dire Wolf’s mind. “Shit.”