Buffy walked down the sidewalk at a slow trot, her four paws touching the pavement at regular intervals. Behind her, a large Great Dane followed, his head down, tail tucked between his legs. She paused and looked back at her companion.
It had been so hard for him to leave those kids. Much harder than either of them had expected. Even after James opened the gate to allow them to go, Spike had stayed with Maggie until the last possible moment. The white cat gave a small sigh. He looked so miserable. She could only hope that, when they got home, he’d be able to readjust to their normal lives. And, she wouldn’t deny it, there was a part of her that wanted to just tell him to turn around and go back. Even though she knew that, now, he wouldn’t go. Spike had too much of a sense of devotion and loyalty to her and the Scoobies. In the end, that was the only thing that pulled him away from the kids. And Buffy was feeling rather guilty for it.
Spike’s ears were folded back against his head, his tail curled downward, moving his paws with sheer will. He knew he couldn’t go back to the kids. But that didn’t stop him from wanting to. He also was feeling rather guilty, but for a different reason than Buffy. It had suddenly occured to him that not only had they left the kids, they’d technically taken their pets with them. They had no way of knowing what would happen to these animal bodies when they returned to normal. However, Spike was beginning to get a small idea. It wouldn’t make everything better, but it might at least make it easier on the kids. Yes, he decided. He’d do it. If what he thought was going to happen, happened. He raised his head and noticed Buffy watching him. He offered her what he hoped was an encouraging smile, before returning his attention to the sidewalk.
“Where are they!?”, Dawn yelped, throwing her hands in the air. “Don’t they know they’re almost out of time!?”
Xander and Willow exchanged a look. Dawn was voicing the worries that all three of them shared. They had less than thirty minutes before Buffy and Spike would be gone forever. Where were they?
“This light is so long!”, Buffy groused. “Where are we, anyway?”
Spike gazed up at the traffic light. “Magnolia and 4th. ‘Bout six blocks from Ravello, luv. Don’t worry. We’ll be there in no time.”
She gave a sigh, then, an idea. “Hold still.”
“Stand next to the pole and hold still. I’m gonna push the button that changes the light.”
Spike half shrugged and manuvered himself next to the post, allowing Buffy to leap onto his back and pushing the button. The light turned green very quickly, and the two animals crossed the street, ignoring the amazed gazes of some of the people in the cars and on the street nearby. Even in Sunnydale, no one had seen a dog and cat push the button then cross the street!
But one of the people in a ‘car’ noticed these strange animals. “I don’t believe it,” the dogcatcher muttered to himself. “Well. We’ll just have to catch them again.” He turned the corner to follow the animals.
Spike suddenly froze in his tracks, ears twitching. Something about the engine he was hearing was eeirely familiar. He swiveled his head and yelped. “Oh crap! Buffy! The dogcatcher!” True enough, the dogcatcher was climbing out of his truck, the same huge net in his hands.
Buffy hissed. “Not again. Run!” They took off together, but the dog quickly outdistanced the cat. Buffy, in a panic, tripped over her own paws and went sprawling across the sidewalk. “SPIKE!!”
Spike skidded to a stop and whirled around when he heard Buffy call his name. “Buffy!” The dogcatcher was almost upon her, his net raised menacingly, and Buffy was in a panic, almost unable to get up. Spike let out a roaring sound and charged back, barking ferociously. The dogcatcher raised his net to ward off the suddenly attacking Great Dane. And it would’ve worked. *IF* Spike had been a normal dog.
But he was anything but.
He faked dodging to the left, and when the dogcatcher swung his net, Spike lunged and grabbed the handle in his jaws, snarling loudly. He pulled with all his strength and yanked the net from the man’s grasp. Then he turned and grabbed Buffy by the scruff of her neck in his mouth and took off running again.
But they weren’t off the hook yet.
The dogcatcher, now angry that this strange pair of animals had bested him, returned to his truck and began chasing them that way. Buffy scrambled out of Spike’s mouth and onto his back, riding him like a horse as he ran. He payed no mind to the claws that dug into his back, knowing that Buffy was only trying to hold on. He dodged into an alley, too narrow for the pound truck to follow, and quickly went over the wall at the end of the alley with the help of a conveinent dumpster.
Spike just kept running, going totally on instinct, heading home. In no time, they had reached 1630 Ravello drive. Now they just had to get inside.
Dawn was valiantly holding back tears. Two minutes. There was no way they could get home by then. She’d never see her sister or Spike again. She’d be all alone- What was scratching on the door?
“*Ruff! RRaawn! Ret rus rin! Rum ron!! Ril’ Rit!!*”
It couldn’t be… could it? Cautiously, slowly, she moved to open the front door. Only to be nearly bowled over by a huge dog and a small fluffy white cat. “What the heck?!”
“*Rawn! RI’m ro rappy ro ree roo, Ril’ Rit!!*”, the dog barked, nuzzling her. The cat wound around her legs, meowing excitedly.
Dawn’s jaw dropped. “Spike? You’re a dog?”
She threw her arms around the dog’s neck. “I thought I’d never see you again!!” She glanced at the cat, and her eyes grew wide. “Buffy?”
“Meow.” The cat rolled her eyes. “Of course it’s me.”
Xander and Willow came out of the kitchen. “What’s all the noise, Dawn?” They caught sight of the animals then. Xander spoke up. “Wha-…” His eyes got wide when the dog ‘spoke’.
“*Rarris! Red! Rit’s rood roo ree rou ryes, roo!*”
Dawn released Spike’s neck, and her eyes grew wide. She quickly scooped Buffy up under one arm, despite the cat’s protests, and grabbed Spike by the blue collar that was around his neck, dragging them over to the couch. “Hurry! You guys have like thirty seconds to get back in your bodies before you wind up eatin’ kibble for the rest of your lives!!”
With ten seconds to spare, the moment that the animals were within three feet of the prostrate bodies on the couch, Buffy and Spike’s conciousnesses leaped back to their rightful places, both taking sudden deep breaths as they sat up slowly. With a cry of total happiness, Dawn launched herself at her sister, hugging her tightly. “I missed you guys so much! We all missed you!”
Buffy wrapped her arms around her younger sister, hugging tightly. “We missed you too, Dawn.” Looked at her friends. “All of you.”
Beside her, Spike nodded. “Yeah. We did.” Dawn disengaged herself from Buffy to grab Spike in an equally tight hug, which he returned slowly. “Hey there, Bit. It’s good to see you, too.”
“Uh, guys?”, Xander said quietly. “Not to break the mood, or anything, but.. what do we do about.. them?” He gestured to the floor in front of the couch, where a large brown with black spots Great Dane and a small fluffy white cat sat paitently.
Buffy’s eyes grew wide. “Oh my… They’re still here!” She looked at Spike, and was understandably confused by the fact that he was nodding slowly. “You knew?”
He shrugged. “I guessed. Just cause we’re gone doesn’t mean that the animal’s won’t exist.”
“What do we do with them?”, Willow asked. “We can’t keep them.”
Spike smiled slowly. “I think I have an idea.”
That evening, Spike and Buffy sat atop a high security fence surrounding a huge, and familiar, mansion. Buffy nudged him as they watched the back door open, revealing Maggie and James in their pajamas. With their superhuman hearing, they easily picked up on the squeals of happiness when the kids saw who were sitting on their porch. James curiously pulled what appeared to be a note off of the dog’s collar, and read it aloud to his sister. A few moments later, the kids and animals were cavorting around the yard happily.
Spike smiled almost sadly as Buffy turned and jumped off the wall, watching the children and animals a few more moments before he leaped down to join her. She slipped her arm around his waist and he put one around her shoulder as they headed back toward the other side of town to patrol. Buffy said quietly, “I’m glad James and Maggie are happy with the animals.” She smiled up at him. “That was really nice, Spike.”
He sighed. “Yeah.” Glanced back over his shoulder. “I’m gonna miss them.”
“I know. Me too. But at least they’re happy.”
“Yeah. That’s what matters.” He gave her a small smile. “Let’s go home, luv.”
Back on the porch of the large mansion, a scrap of paper lay where it had been discarded by eager hands. It read:
“Dear Maggie and James,
I’m sorry that the animals won’t be the same now. I know it’s hard to understand why we had to go, but we hope that these animals will help to fill the void that we might have caused. Once again, we’re sorry that we had to go, and know that we will always watch over you, and that we love you.
Spike and Buffy
PS: You can name the animals whatever you want, now. I think the dog would like “Scooby”.”