Buffy lounged like any 13-year-old tomboy in a tree, belly on the branch, feet up in the air behind her, chin resting on her crossed arms. She checked that the Girls below were well concealed: Tara, her right-hand woman and the next oldest, sat a branch down, her deceptively meditative air belied by the cruelly curved knife in her belt. A little further away, her back against the trunk, Cordy asked in a bored tone, “Do you really think they’re coming? It’s late.” She inspected her nails — their life was glorious, wild and free; but it was also hard on the glitter polish, especially if you happened to favor a heavy mace in battle.
Little Willow looked up from still lower down, where she and Dawnie were sitting astride the same bough, their bows and arrows looped across their backs. “Of course they are. The pirates always come this way,” Willow said matter-of-factly. “But if you hadn’t made Spike angry, Buffy, he could check for us.” Dawn’s face was dreamy as she absently tugged her own pigtail. Both of them were wicked shots, better than any of the older Girls save for Buffy; and anyway, their being six years old was no reason to leave them home with Angel. They might miss out on wonderful, bloody deeds.
“Oh … he has to stop with the Angel-bitage,” said Buffy airily. “And of course they’re coming. Anya will whistle when the ship comes ’round the bend.” Thinking of Angel made Buffy frown. She could barely remember why she’d brought him here at all — hadn’t he boasted he knew lots of stories? He never told them any; he just went on and on about how many he knew. He grumped around their underground home looking vaguely wronged, both a brood and a bore, and tried to get Buffy to give him a thimble. Add a bunch of tiny fang marks, and he got even worse. Honestly, she almost thought he’d rather grow up.
Buffy and the Lost Girls were waiting for the Jolly Roger to drift past on the river below. Anya had lost her sword in their last adventure, right down to the bottom of the sea; and the Girls had no way of procuring weapons except by winning them. It should be no difficulty to drop down onto the deck, startle the pirates, and nab a nice new one — perhaps with a bit of satisfying bloodshed and some crow-worthy quippage thrown in.
Little did the Lost Girls know, there was no glory waiting for them that night: the dread pirate Hook was elsewhere, wringing his hands with delight as he regaled Smee with his heinous deed. For he had snuck into the Lost Girls’ lair, right under the nose of the sleeping Angel (How can his hair grow straight up? wondered Hook), and poisoned Buffy’s medicine with a potion so fell it would kill a grown man all the way dead just as it touched his tongue. Buffy might fly like an angel and sting like a hornet, but in the end she was just a mortal girl.
When the Girls finally gave up on the ship and headed home, they moved stealthily through the forests in the moonlight. Buffy flew, flitting silently just above the forest canopy, somehow not in a hurry to get back to Angel’s whole “you be the mother and I’ll be the father” shtick. But there was no help for it — that was where she lived; she couldn’t stay in the treetops forever.
And here came Spike to guide her home! She was surprised and glad he had forgiven her so soon, even if having his mauve light dancing madly around her was maybe a little too much of a good thing — for he was terribly agitated. When she tried to keep going he flew directly at her face. When she tried to dive under him, he vamped out and made rude gestures. Then he lifted his tutu and mooned her.
Buffy wasn’t exactly sure how Spike had come to be her own special fairy — she’d been in Neverland a long time, and she’d never had a fairy before — but she had some ideas. For starters, he was forever disheveled; his tights torn and sometimes, like tonight, way beyond the pale and into obscene territory. And never was there a cockier fairy. She guessed he’d bucked his hips suggestively at the wrong twinkling princess and been banned forthwith from fairy society. Of course, there were also the fangs (though why a vamp would take the time to turn a fairy, for half a mouthful of blood, defied all sense). In any case, he was Buffy’s fairy now. He might storm off in a diminutive fangy-face fit of pique, but she knew he’d always come back. She didn’t need to think about why, so she didn’t.
Right now he was trying to tell her something that made no sense, in his bell-like language and pantomime: that Angel’s medicine was poison? That was impossible; it wasn’t even actual medicine, Angel just liked to pretend so he could be fatherly, and she took it every night. Anyway, they’d be home soon and she could show Spike — who was frantically wagging his, uh, special … full-frontal … fairy … salute at her — that there was nothing to fear.
“There’s nothing wrong with your medicine!” thundered Angel. “I was here all day while you were out … gallivanting.”
“Galahading,” muttered Buffy, suddenly mutinous. It was her house. Her and her Girls: they’d built it. But like it or not, Angel was here in Neverland now. And he had certainly been here in the house all day, because he never went anywhere. She’d take her dose, and think about how to talk him into flying back to his parents tomorrow. Maybe she could entice him with the notion that no one there ever gallivanted or galahaded.
She was lifting the medicine bottle when a flash of mauve light dashed it from her hands — and there was Spike, seizing the bottle and drinking it down, every drop. He flew, unsteadily, to Buffy’s shoulder and gave her earlobe the tenderest nibble, before collapsing limp against her neck and lying still. His light flickered and dimmed.
Buffy suddenly felt cold, and very afraid.
“Oh, Spikerbell!” she whispered.