Buffy stared at the red eyes staring back at her a moment too long, and the pain registered before she had been able to respond. The light flicked on and Buffy finally saw eye to eye with her attacker. A rat the size of Dawn’s head had managed to sink its teeth into Buffy’s shoulder. Buffy gripped its back and slung it through the attic. It hid the roof with a soft thud and squeaked in anger or pain. Buffy rose, grimaced at the pain in her shoulder and threw another glance at the rat. She wasn’t going to kill it. It was a living, breathing organism and it deserved to live.
The rat stared at Buffy and seemed to size her up. It was the strangest feeling. Buffy had never been particularly fond of vermin but it seemed a little ridiculous to start hating them now, only because they were born on the hellmouth. Probably mutated against their wills. They most likely didn’t even know what was happening to them in this very moment.
Spike appeared behind her and chuckled in surprise. He lurched at the wee critter and sunk its teeth into the pest’s fur. The animal squealed once and then Spike pulled away. He pulled a face and rose. ‘I think we’ve got our answer, don’t you?’
‘We’ll have to warn the others. We’ll find Xander at his place.’
Spike didn’t protest when Buffy made her way downstairs. She gathered her weapons and was about to march out the door when Spike stopped her.
‘It’s late at night, Slayer.’ ‘We can’t just wait. We have to tell them as soon as possible.’ ‘If you reckon the wrath of Anya is somethin’ you can handle, go ahead love.’ ‘Why’d Anya be mad? This is an emergency.’ ‘Most people shag at night, pet. I didn’t think you were any different, perhaps I was wrong.’
Buffy’s cheeks colored despite Buffy telling herself his words meant nothing to her.
Buffy ignored his remark and stomped out the front door. They ran into Tara and Willow, just as Spike pulled the door closed behind him. They were giggling and hanging on each other’s arm. They halted when they saw Buffy and Spike. ‘Buffy!’ Willow sounded out of breath and surprised. Whether the surprise was a good thing, Buffy couldn’t tell. Tara blinked at Buffy once and glanced at Spike before pulling Willow upright.
‘Did something happen? Is Dawn okay?’ Tara looked from Buffy to Spike as she asked the question. Buffy hadn’t even thought of Dawn yet. She truly hoped that whomever it was that Dawn was staying with, kept the house tidy enough to keep rats from nestling in the attic.
‘I’ll tell you all about it tomorrow.’ Buffy tried to walk past them. Somebody should call Giles and warn him as well.
Tara stepped forward, frowning. ‘B-Buffy, if something has happened, y-you owe it t-to us to tell us. We only want to help.’ Willow’s head perked up. ‘I could have a spell ready within minutes! Just tell me how we can help.’
‘Look Red, we don’t need your help. Stay inside and stay away from creepy crawlies. That’s all. The Little Bit is safe. We just need to speak to your belligerent friend and his bird.’ Willow scoffed at him but Tara pulled her inside before Willow could say something. Tara looked at Buffy over her shoulder and furrowed her brow. Buffy signalled that they’d talk later and Tara nodded that she understood.
Buffy and Spike watched Tara close the door and then both turned on their heels to warn Xander. They were at his place within minutes. Buffy knocked on Xander’s door. There was no answer. Buffy knocked again and someone could be heard grumbling. Eventually Xander could be seen walking through the living room and Buffy was greeted by his worried face.
‘Hey Buff, we haven’t heard from you in a week. Did something happen with Dawn? Is everything okay?’ He pushed his hand through his hair as he spoke. Anya appeared behind him, brows furrowed. They softened when they saw Buffy. It surprised Buffy. She hadn’t expected the girl would be anything but angry at Buffy’s late night call.
‘Is it an apocalypse? I don’t appreciate you interrupting our orgasm time if it’s anything but an apocalypse.’ Xander turned beet red as Anya spoke. Spike chuckled in response.
‘It’s giant rats. Demonic rats. They attacked me in the attic just yet.’ The porch light flickered on and Xander inhaled deeply when he saw Buffy’s shoulder. ‘You want to come in for a band aid?’ ‘Yes, thanks, Xander.’
Xander and Anya walked in front of Buffy and Spike through the house, down to the basement. Spike sat down in a chair and seemed quite at home. It had been a long time since Buffy had been here. Anya pulled a small stool out of the shadows, next to an old forgotten barbecue and Buffy sat down. Xander held out a first aid kit to her and Buffy rummaged through it.
‘Giant rats?’ ‘Bigger than your face mate, truly.’ Xander shivered and Anya pulled a face. Then she shrugged. ‘As long as they’re not bunnies.’ ‘They’ve taken on to look like bunnies. There’s a distinct resemblance.’
She had barely spoken the words when Buffy heard something move in the shadows behind Anya. The critter moved too fast for Buffy to respond. However, quite unexpectedly, Anya had already responded before Buffy or Spike or Xander could.
Anya had pulled a barbecue fork from the old rack and had jammed it into the critter’s side before Buffy could stand up. She lifted it and one of her eyes flinched. ‘You don’t joke about things that are like bunnies, Buffy, never.’