Title: Caution: Children at Play
Era: Season Five
Genre: Kid fic
Shortly after dawn Tara and Willow returned to the Magic Box. Tara was surprised to see Giles with bloodshot eyes and looking like he had hardly slept a wink. His clothes were crumpled and the little vampire and slayer were nowhere to be seen.
Tara looked sympathetically at him. “Did you stay here last night?”
“Yes,” he replied. “I did manage to catch a few hours, but our intrepid duo decided it would be a lark to go to Willys.”
Tara’s mouth was agape. “Oh my goddess.”
Willow’s eyes widened. “They did what?”
Giles smiled humourlessly. “To say I got a fright would be an understatement. Spike figured they could get some information from Willy the Snitch and turns out he was right. We think Ethan’s behind it.”
Willow met his gaze meaningfully. “I thought he was in jail or something.”
Tara furrowed her brow. “Who’s Ethan?”
“Ethan Rayne and I go way back. He’s a warlock and he loves to cause mayhem. He probably thinks he owes me one after last time.”
Willow smiled at her girlfriend. “Remember when Giles got turned into a demon? That was Ethan Rayne. He even made me turn into a sexy ghost one time.”
Tara’s lips twitched upward. “I would have liked to see that.” She looked over at Giles again. He looked fit to drop he was so exhausted. “Maybe you should go home and get some sleep. You can leave Spike and Buffy to us.”
Willow looked around apparently only just noticing their absence. “Where are they?”
He yawned. “Out in the back room sleeping their adventure off.” He stretched his arms above his head. “I think I might take you up on the offer if you’re sure. A couple of hours might serve me well.”
“I’m going out back to check on them.” Tara headed for the training room and opened the door as quietly as she could. There was gym mats placed on the floor, where Buffy and Spike were sleeping peacefully. They looked like angels. Tara bit back a laugh at this thought. She left as silently as possible.
The first thing she saw as she went back into the shop was the curious face of her girlfriend. “Are they still little?”
She nodded. “Little and cute.”
Giles coughed to draw attention to himself once more. “I think I’ll be off now. Call me if you need me.”
Tara and Willow watched as he let himself out.
Two hours later Anya arrived to open the shop. Willow was at her computer looking to see if she could get any information on Ethan Rayne’s whereabouts, while Tara was surrounded by books. The former demon looked around carefully making sure none of her precious merchandise was missing or broken. She smiled brightly at the two witches. “Where’s Giles?”
Tara grabbed another book and opened it. “He was here all night and he needed some sleep.”
Anya walked over to the cash register and started getting everything ready before the shop would open. “Did he take the little cretins with him?”
“Little cretins?” Tara frowned before suddenly realising what Anya meant. “Oh you mean Spike and Buffy. They are asleep in the back room.”
Anya looked worried. “But what if they break the merchandise?”
Willow rolled her eyes. “Well I’m sorry that Buffy’s wellbeing is nothing compared to your stupid merchandise.”
Anya glared at the red haired witch. “I care about Buffy’s wellbeing.” She paused for a moment before adding, “And my merchandise isn’t stupid.”
Before the petty argument could escalate any further a loud bang from the back room interrupted them. “See what I mean,” Anya huffed. “They better not have broken anything expensive.”
All three of them rushed towards the source of the noise. Buffy was on the vaulting horse, her arms supporting her body. Spike was sitting on the floor watching.
“What was that noise?” Anya demanded.
“Slayer landed on her arse,” Spike announced with a smirk.
“Yeah, after you gave me a helpful push.”
“What can I say? My mother raised me to be a gentleman.”
“Very funny, Spike.” Buffy landed gracefully on the floor. A mischievous smile appeared on her face. “Did you say your mom raised you to be a gentleman? What happened to Mr “I was always bad”?”
The three women didn’t bother to smother their laughter. It seemed that being little didn’t stop Spike having a big mouth. He glared at them all. “I want breakfast, ‘m feeling right peckish.”
“Oooh me too!” Buffy did a cartwheel across the floor. “Something sweet.”
Tara wasn’t altogether sure that sugar was a good idea. Looking at Buffy’s effusive manner, she reckoned that their minds had slipped back a couple of more years while they slept.
Willow beckoned to Buffy. “Why don’t we go get breakfast and we can drop into the butchers for Spike.”
Tara looked at Spike, who was looking quite miserable at the moment in contrast to the slayer. “I’ll stay behind and keep Spike company, while Anya opens the shop.”
The other three left and Spike’s blue gaze met hers. “Don’t need a nanny, you know.”
“I know.” She smiled in what she hoped was a reassuring way. “It must be hard.”
He looked as if he was about to answer her question honestly, but thought better of it. “Sodding childish impulses.”
“I remember those,” she said.
“I had forgotten those seeing as it was well over a hundred years since I was all kid sized. ”
“We’ll figure this out and get you back to normal. Giles says that you and Buffy think that this warlock’s behind it.”
He mussed his hair. “You’re not a bad bird, Glinda. I guess you clever types have figured that we are getting progressively younger in mind.”
She nodded. “We think they messed up the spell and that’s why it is taking your minds longer to catch up to the rest of your body.”
The two of them stayed in complete silence for a few moments thinking on what they had just discussed.
“I’m bored,” Spike moaned once the silence got too much to bear.
“How about we play a board game?”
Tara’s suggestion was met with a raised brow. “I’m not playing a sodding board game. Those things are bloody stupid.”
She bit her lip trying hard not to laugh. “I bet you’re afraid I’ll beat you.”
His eyes narrowed dangerously at the implication. “I’m not afraid-“ He stopped as if suddenly aware he was being had. “Oi! I knew what you’re up to, Glinda.”
She lifted up her hands in mock surrender with a sheepish grin. “Did it work?”
He raised his eyes to the ceiling shaking his head. “Go on then, you silly bint. It’s got to be better than doing nothing. Although, I’m not going to play something too juvenile, mind.”
“We have chess and scrabble somewhere in the shop. Your choice?”
“Can you play chess?”
“Yes – not very well though. Willow’s your girl for chess.”
“I haven’t play chess in years,” he mused, scratching his head. “I wonder have the rules changed?”
“Chess it is then.” Tara went off to fetch the chess set. She thought it strange to see the vampire acting like a kid but in another way it wasn’t all that surprising. Spike had always had a youthful exuberance; He was an undead creature with so much life. She had not known him as the unchipped menace the rest of the Scoobies had met. Yet, she could see a vulnerability that surely couldn’t have appeared overnight along with the chip. Spike wore a mask and if Tara could hazard a guess then his human face would be his true one and not his demon.
A half an hour later they were both sitting cross legged on the floor pondering their next move. Willow and Buffy had been gone a long while now and Anya was still busy most likely counting the cash or merchandise. Tara returned her attention to the game and sighed as she saw she was short of moves to make.
Spike caught her expression and smirked. She didn’t know why she was surprised that he had almost all her pieces by now. “You’re good at this game.”
His smirk dropped and he eyed her suspiciously. “You better not be letting me win.”
“Of course not.” Her cheeks went beet red. “I’m just not very good.”
His expression softened and he seemed to accept her words. After a moment of silence he spoke again. “I’m bored – let’s play something else.”
“But you’re winning?”
“I know. Do you have a deck of cards? Let’s play rummy or poker.”
She knew exactly what he was thinking when she saw the mischievous glint in his blue eyes. “No- besides I won’t play you for money.”
He stuck out his lip making her laugh and then a smirk graced his face. “No matter how much you pout.”
He looked scandalised. “I didn’t pout. You’re no fun, Glinda.”
She found herself voicing aloud what she had been wondering for a while. “Why do you call me that?”
“Well you are aren’t you?”
“What?” she asked.
“You’re a good one – the good witch. It fits.”
She was truly touched by his words. “Um thanks.”
“How about that game of scrabble?”
“You don’t have any patience do you?” She waggled her little finger at him. “Is this why your nefarious plans always failed?”
He snorted at that. “Yeah- I was never one for following through on a plan. I can come up with them all well and good. It’s the follow through I cock up on. I follow my gut instead of my brain. It’s more fun that way.”
Tara could hear the sound of Willow’s voice coming from the shop. They must be back. She gave him a calculating glance, wondering if he heard their arrival earlier and if that may be his real reason for ending their completely one sided game of chess. They cleared up the chess game between them and she reached for the scrabble box, which she had brought into the training room along with the chess set. Buffy walked into the room with a steaming mug full of blood for Spike and a doughnut in the other.
“We’re about to play Scrabble. Do you want to join us?”
She caught Spike’s hopeful look at the slayer. She had a suspicion he had developed a thing for Buffy. “Okay.” The slayer shrugged. “I’m not so good with words, but Mr Braindead Vampire doing board games, I’ve got to see this.”
His face broke into a furious scowl. “Oi!”
“Buffy! That’s not very nice.” Tara flushed immediately as soon as she said it. She never felt comfortable correcting others and she worried that she didn’t know Buffy well enough to say something like that to her. Still, Buffy looked a little sheepish. Spike was still looking both furious and determined at the same time. Oh it’s on. Buffy had better watch out. Tara wasn’t a gambler, but if she was her money would be on the little vampire. Spike and Buffy glared at one another making her feel uncomfortable. She was grateful when Willow arrived in the door. “I bear caffeine goodness, baby.” Willow dropped down on the floor beside her taking her hand and rubbing her thumb across it in a caress. Tara turned to face her girlfriend smiling. She heard gagging sounds behind her and quickly turned to the exaggeratedly innocent looking faces of the slayer and vampire. She shook her head bemusedly.
“Do you want to play Scrabble, Red?”
“Sure.” Willow smiled. “Isn’t this nice?”
Spike and Buffy looked at each other and rolled their eyes simultaneously. They seemed to be doing a lot of things simultaneously lately.
The vampire was in winning form again and matching Willow in their quest for the longest, most obscure words they could think of.
“That’s not a real word, “ Buffy accused him when he spelt the word “farding” on the board..
“It is so,” he replied vehemently, looking at Tara for support.
She nodded. “Sorry Buffy, that’s a real word.”
“So there, slayer!”
“I don’t understand.” Buffy threw her hands in the air dramatically. “You’re not supposed to know words. How do you know words?”
“Words form when you open your mouth into particular shapes and make certain sounds.”
“Ha, ha, Mr know it all! Since when did you swallow a dictionary? Unless it’s from eating a Watcher perhaps? Is Giles dead?”
“Of course, I know words slayer. You’re the one who can’t master the English language.”
Buffy ignored the jibe. “I know what’s going on. I bet that’s a bad word. Yeah I bet that’s some British swear word.”
He balled his fists angrily. “This might actually surprise you to know, Slayer. I have actually read books.”
Buffy laughed in his face. “So are you telling me Mr Big Bad is actually Mr Big Nerd.”
Spike went into game face and Tara stood in between them. Maybe this scrabble idea wasn’t such a good idea after all? Her head was aching. Just then Anya’s angry face appeared in the door. “You’re scaring away the customers and they’re taking their money away with them.”
The ex-demon said this as if this was a matter of life or death. “I’m going to call Giles. Maybe he can control them before they lose us all our money.” With that she walked out of the room the four fought hard not to laugh. They listened to the sound of her clicking heels retreating and once they were sure she was out of earshot they fell about laughing.
To be continued… here
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.dreamwidth.org/797013.html