In the house on 1630 Ravello drive, it was quiet. Xander, Willow, and Dawn sat around the dining table, trying to figure out where was the most likely place that their friends could have gone, while the empty shells of Spike and Buffy rested at opposite ends of the couch. So far, the Scoobies were having very little (that is to say, no) luck.
Meanwhile, at the Sunnydale Pound And Animal Rescue…..
“OOF!”, Spike said with a yelp, as a large, burly man tossed him unceremoniously into a cage. He immediatly turned around and growled at the now closed door. “Watch the fur coat, pal,” he snarled. But the man had already gone. And he was carrying the cat carrier that housed Buffy. Spike sat. “Perfect.” “*Rrrfectrr.*”
“Ooh. I don’t like this. I really don’t like this,” Buffy muttered from inside her cat carrier. “Small, cramped… Too much like a kitty-sized coffin.” “*Meeerrooww?*” “Calm down, Buffy,” she scolded herself. “Now is not the time to panic.” At that moment, the carrier door was opened, and she was dumped out into a only slightly larger cage. But, there was food. And water. And.. she supposed that thing hanging from the ceiling was supposed to be some sort of cat toy. It looked like a dead rat. “Eww. I’m supposed to play with *that*?” “*Sssssss.*” “So not happening.” She curled up on the ‘rug’ in her cage. “I sure hope Spike finds me here.” “*Purrrrrrr.*”
Spike paced back and forth, muttering to himself. “Got to get out of here. Got to get out, find Buffy, and get home. First step: Get out.” Paused, considering the door. “How do I do that?” “*Row roo rye roo rat?*” Cocked his head. “Hmm.” The door didn’t reach the ceiling, and, if he tried, he could probably squeeze through the opening. Only problem was that the top of the gate/door was a good seven feet off the ground. He stood up on his hind legs and shoved at the door, testing it. He could probably pop that little lock right off. He *was* a Great Dane, for crying out loud. One of the strongest dogs around. Was still up on his hind legs, concentrating on popping off that troublesome lock, when someone opened the gate from the other side, and slipped a leather collar around his neck, dragging him out into the main area. “Uh-oh.” “*Ruh-roh.*”
There was a family in the main area. A mom, a dad, and two kids. Spike was dragged over to them, and sat. The kids were smiling and laughing.
“Look, Momma!”, the smallest one, she couldn’t have been more than three or four, said. “He looks like Scooby!”
Spike’s instincts told him that, if he didn’t want to be adopted, which he didn’t, that he should snap and bark at the kids, but he couldn’t do it. Stupid soul must’ve carried over, too. “Hello.” “*Rellow.*”
The two children stopped talking instantly, staring at the dog. “Momma! He talked!”
“He talked, Momma!”
“You can understand me?” “*Roo ran rnderrand re?*”, Spike yelped. “Listen, guys.. There’s a cat. I need this cat. She’s my.. friend. I can’t go without her.” He listened, amazed at two things. One, the parents seemed totally oblivious to his words, and two, the kids were quickly convincing them that they needed a *cat* as well as ‘Scooby’. He made a mental note to tell them that his name was Spike, later. When he could pronounce ‘S’s. He gave the youngest child, because she was closest to him, a quick description of Buffy’s cat body, and she was brought out in a cat carrier a moment later.
“SPIKE!” “MMMERRROOWW!”, she said excitedly. “Are you okay? Who are these people? What’s going on!?”
Spike moved close and shoved his nose right up against the grate at the front of the cat carrier, ignoring his totally irational urge to lick her. “It’s okay, luv. It’s okay. These nice humans are going to get us out of here. Then we can go home.”
“Whew. That’s a relief.” “*Purrrrrrr.*”
The parents payed the pound employees (thank goodness that the Sunnydale Pound didn’t have a ‘neuter on release’ program), and took their new pets home. What suprised both Spike and Buffy was the fact that they lived uptown. As in, no demons, fence around every tree, manicured lawns, security fences, MANSIONS, uptown.
All through the drive, the kids chattered to the animals. How they were going to have real meat for food, and plenty of playtime, and a huge yard all to themselves. Spike was beginning to think that maybe, just maybe, they could wait awhile before they headed home. Speaking of home, they pulled up outside a HUGE mansion, and the kids quickly released Buffy from her carrier, and let Spike out of the back of the SUV. Then a butler… A BUTLER parked the car in a six car garage. Spike’s jaw dropped open. He had no IDEA that Sunnyhell had a part of town that was like this! Wow.
Buffy stood in the driveway. “Spike, come on! We’ve got to go! Who knows how far from home we are!”
Spike walked over to her. “Luv, let’s hang around awhile! What’s the rush? Are you really all that eager to get back to our lives that involve nearly being killed on a regular basis? Or would you rather lounge around in the lap of luxury for awhile?” He waved a paw at the house, the family having already gone inside.
Buffy cocked her head. “Gee, Spike. I don’t know. Maybe the fact that I’m a CAT is imparing my judgement.” “*Hissssssss.*”
He ducked his head. “Come on, luv. One night. Who knows? Besides, we can’t just… leave.” Bumped her with his snout. “Those two, totally *cute* kids in there love us. We can’t disappoint the children, now can we?”
Dang guilt. And that little girl looked so much like Dawn when she was younger…
“Pets! Animals!”, yet another butler was calling from the house. “Suppertime! Dinner is served!”
Spike nudged Buffy again. “Come on, luv. Free food, room and board, and two kids to play with. What more could two animals want?”
“Nothing. Except that we aren’t animals.” She sighed. “Okay. We can stay. One night, and we leave tomorrow. Okay?”
He grinned. “Deal, Slayer.” Made a gesture with his paw. “Ladies first.” They entered the house, and were struck by the elegant entryway.
“Wow.. It’s like.. a hotel, or something,” Buffy said, trotting next to Spike to keep up with his long strides.
They made their way into the kitchen, and were shocked to find two huge bowls (one labled “Dog” and one labled, you guessed it, “Cat”) filled with the most expensive food imaginable. Not cat and dog food, but fresh fish and… Spike couldn’t believe his eyes… STEAK! T-BONE STEAK IN HIS BOWL!! He licked his lips. “I’ve died and gone to Texas…” Dove into the bowl. Somehow, the fact that he had to stick his face into it to eat didn’t even bother him.
Buffy was a little slower, trying to figure out how to eat without getting fishy stuff all over her whiskers. “It’s like… a hotel for animals. I wonder if they have room service.”
Spike looked up, licking steak bits from his jowls. Grinned at her. “Welcome to Howliday Inn.”
Buffy swallowed a bit of fish. “Let’s just hope it’s as easy to check out as it is to check in.”