Author: Vernon Bruce
Rating: R for language and innuendo PG for violence .
Violence: things are eaten.
Summary: In a fit of petulant, whiny, self centered, cruel, jealousy Tara cast a spell that gives the scoobies a case of the warm fuzzies but not how you think.
Disclaimer: The characters are the property of Joss Whendon Mutant Enemy, Kuzui Productions 18 Century Fox, WB Network, etc. The situation is mine, and I don't mean to infringe upon any copyrights.
Notes: Feed back is greatly appreciated.
Dedication. To my Beta Readers Meri E. McCombs and Nikki.
Warning: Tara is one of the villains of this piece. If this upsets you, don't read it. Fair enough.
Special note: This piece was started after the end of season 4 and before the start of 5. Thus inconsistencies with Mr. Whendon's time line may stem from that.
Chapter 1: PASS THE KITTY KIBBLE
The large, gray-tabby tom carried the dead squirrel in its mouth. It glanced around the alley then bolted into the open area behind the Bronze's garbage bin. Several of the bricks in the building's wall had crumbled leaving a hole just large enough for him to squeeze through with his prey. The passage soon widened out into a cluttered storage room. Cardboard liquor and snack boxes covered most of the floor. He dropped the squirrel and cleared his throat.
“I believe that will take care of the immediate problem.” He spoke with a cultured English accent then licked his paw and started washing his face.
“Oh Giles, thank you, I'm so hungry,” said a pretty, little, ginger-tabby who walked out from behind one of the boxes. She marched up to the tom and rubbed her muzzle against him in affection and thanks before turning to the squirrel.
“Willow, it was your crazy girlfriend that did this to us so stop complaining,” grumbled a Calico that came out of one of the other boxes.
“Buffy, that was uncalled for. I seem to remember a time when your relationship resulted in rather difficult circumstances for us all. I also seem to remember you receiving a great deal of support, particularly from Willow,” snapped Rupert.
“Yeah, and like it's Ex-girlfriend. I can't believe she did this just because I broke up with her.” Willow ripped free a section of squirrel and swallowed.
“Hey, Will. She was squirrelly to start with. Always wondered what a hotie like you saw in the queen of the whiney waste of skins,” remarked an American-blue tom that climbed out of a box stretched then made a B-line to the carcass.
“Oh shit, this is scary, but I agree with Xander,” said a Siamese that crawled out from under another box.
“Riley, Xander,” cautioned Giles.
“You're right. I was hurt so much and so afraid of being hurt again that I let her get to me. I broke it off when I saw how useless she really was. Then this happened.” Willow's tail dropped between her legs.
“Aw, Will, it's not your fault. We all do dumb things,” said Xander.
A slender jet black cat climbed through the passage with a pigeon in its mouth. It dropped it beside Rupert's kill.
“That's my girl,” said Xander.
“This isn't so bad. I get to kill again. I want to start hunting, if we ever change back. Xander, your dad has a gun, doesn't he? I caught this pigeon, he had a mate and he was trying to court this other one. He got so involved I snuck right up behind him. He was jumping up on her back with it fully extended and I...”
“Anya. We get the picture,” interrupted Xander.
“All right. Dibs on the liver,” replied the black cat.
Silence fell at they all ate. They wagged their tails as the gnawing in their bellies lessened then vanished.
Buffy sat back and after licking her chops began grooming the fur of her haunch. “So what are we going to do now? A cat's life may be fine for a cat, but I'm not in the market for raw tuna and a basket in the corner.”
“Hey, Will, could you Sabrina us out of this?” asked Xander.
“I told you before, no! I don't know which spell Tara used. Transformation isn't an easy spell, how she managed to do us all at once I just don't know.” Willow's tail drooped.
Rupert moved beside the ginger tabby and nuzzled the ruff of her neck. “It's all right, Willow. We will find a way. Did Tara enter the Bronze at all?”
“Not a sign of her,” replied Riley.
“Riley,” snapped Buffy.
“What?” The Siamese looked up from grooming its genitals.
“You could at least do that in private.” The Calico had a disgusted expression.
“Yes, well. It would seem to me that Tara is avoiding the Bronze. It's been two nights and she hasn't come to check on us. I do not believe we can afford to wait on her coming into our sphere of influence.”
“So what G-ma... Cat?” asked the American Blue.
“Research,” said Willow.
“Research,” agreed Rupert.
“Aw guys, one problem. The books are at Giles' and we're of the furry,” said Buffy. She'd moved on to licking her paw and was washing her ears.
“It's not that far.” Xander started working at the fur between his back toes with his teeth.
“I have a question?” Anya walked up and swatted Xander's side.
“Hey, what was that for?” he demanded.
“You're flashing the room. I don't want my boyfriend advertising like that.”
“Sweetness, we're cats.”
“You had a question?” Giles somehow managed to convey the impression that he was cleaning his glasses by grooming the fur of his right shoulder.
“How come we can still talk and think like people? We're cats.”
“It's the type of spell. It left our sense of self intact, undoubtedly an added punishment. Only our bodies have been transformed, not our minds. In a sense it is fascinating to see how much of our behaviour is dictated by our biology, and how much by our intellect.” Rupert scratched behind his ear and sighed.
“So why can we talk,” asked Xander.
“I read about this. Transformed people can talk to each other because the magic forms a bond. It's kinda a safety switch so one transformed person doesn't eat another by accident. It's kinda in the rules.” Willow licked and bit at the itchy place behind Rupert's ear. She soon worked out a burr that was caught in his fur and left it on the floor.
“Thank you. That was most irritating,” said Rupert.
“So, research mode, but we need to get into Giles' place. How?” Buffy leapt up onto a cardboard box that allowed her to look down on the others and settled in a sphinx posture.
“Fortunately it was warm the evening I joined you at the Bronze. I left my bedroom window ajar. If we can reach my flat it shouldn't prove that difficult to gain entry.”
“So how do we get there. Like hailing a cab is of the out,” said Buffy.
“We'll have to walk,” said Willow.
“Oh god, My nails are going to be ruined by the time this is over,” grumbled Buffy.
“Yes, well, I suggest we all sleep now. It is safer for us to travel at night, well after bar closing.”
“G- um... Cat, Vampires,” objected Xander.
Everyone looked at him.
“What?” he demanded.
“Look in a mirror lately?” demanded Riley.
“It's ok, Xander, I don't love you for your brains anyway,” said Anya.
“Um... It could be... kitty Vamps.”
“I'm taking a nap.” Giles leapt onto a box three times his body height and settled on top of the crumpled packing paper it held.
Rupert awoke to the faint rustle of paper. “Hiss,” escaped his throat as he shifted to a fighting stance.
“Giles,” said Willow's voice. The head of the ginger Taby lifted above the papers.
“Willow, you shouldn't startle me like that! What is it?” Giles turned in a circle then settled, rolling into a ball.
“I.... Is this my fault?” There was a pleading quality in her voice that made Rupert's heart bleed.
“Willow, come here.” he shifted and the ginger tabby moved to his side and curled up against him. He gently licked the fur of her ruff and snuggled in against her. “This is no more your fault than the Incan Mummy was Xander's or Angelus' actions were Buffy's.” There was pain in his voice as he spoke the second name.
“If only I hadn't dated Tara...”
“Tell me. If Oz had killed someone, would it have been your fault?”
“I... I guess not.”
“Tara's actions are her own. You are not to blame for them. They do however mark the type of person she is.”
“Scum.” Willow shifted so she could look Rupert in the eye.
“Frankly, I always felt so. I must admit I am somewhat uncomfortable with you choosing a homosexual lifestyle - - -“
”But... I didn't. I mean, I haven't. I... Oh it's so confusing. I still like men. Tara was.”
“I guess so. It's so hard to explain.”
Rupert lowered his voice. “No need to. Willow, you and I are much alike. Our interests, our natures. A period of experimentation need not define you. I know. You don't need to explain.”
Willow nuzzled Rupert's fur. “Can I sleep here? I don't want to be alone.”
“Of course. It seems somehow very natural to have you beside me. It must be those cat instincts. Pack association, that sort of thing.
“Must be,” agreed the ginger taby. “Rupert, Thank you.”
“You're welcome.” Rupert licked her neck and with a little Purr they both settled to sleep.
Chapter 2: MEAN STREETS
Rupert led the group out the hole in the Bronze's wall. It was full night with only a sliver of moon but to their cat eyes it was as clear as day.
“Hiss ouch,” snarled Riley.
“What is it?” demanded Rupert.
“I walked into the damn garbage bin.”
“Do be more careful,” instructed the gray taby.
“You try being cross-eyed. Why'd I get stuck as a siamese?”
“They were bred to guard temples and protect the rings of the royal family. Probably your military background,” explained Willow.
“Ewww,” Buffy complained.
“Now what?” demanded Giles.
“I can't believe I sniffed that. I just stuck my nose up to it and sniffed. Ewww.”
“What was it?” asked Xander.
“You don't want to know.” Anya looked back at the disgusting pile.
“The street looks empty, we should go.” Giles led the way along the sidewalk.
The sleek feline processional raced to the corner where they halted.
“What are we waiting for?” demanded Buffy.
“I'm looking both ways,” said Giles.
“Oh please. You're a cat, not Elmer the safety elephant.”
“Who?” asked Giles.
“Spokes creature for traffic safety.” Willow joined him in scanning the street.
“Oh like Tufty the Squirrel. Buffy, traffic safety is very important, particularly in our current form.
“Yeah yeah, look, crossing guard, can we get going. We're burning night here.”
Giles looked once again then led them across the street. They had barely reached the other curb when they heard it. The whimper would have been inaudible to human ears, but to them it was painfully clear.
“This way.” Xander ran towards a darkened alley.
“Xander,” cried the black cat that raced after him.
“Oh, bloody hell!” Giles took off and the others followed. The alley was dark but they could see the large, man-shaped beast stalking towards the terrified woman in the corner.
“No finesse. He hunts like a dog, all display, no skill,” remarked Buffy.
“We can't just let him eat her,” said Willow.
“With you there, orange and furry,” agreed Xander.
“Um, guys, no opposable thumbs. How am I supposed to hold a stake?” asked Buffy.
Willow's brow wrinkled in concentration, a stick of wood shifted on the ground and wobbled unsteadily into the air. “Oh... It's too much. Being a cat has really weakened my telekinesis.”
“Buffy, perhaps if you were to distract the vampire its victim could get away,” suggested Rupert.
“Guys, I have an idea,” said Xander. Everyone looked at the American Blue with incredulity.
“It can happen,” said Xander.
“At least he has one, shoot,” said Riley.
“Will, we do a Billy Thomson on him. You position the stake and Buffy drives it home by jumping on it.”
“Billy who?” demanded Riley.
“Billy use to pick on us in grade three. He was in grade six. I knelt behind him and Xander pushed him so he fell over me, then a bunch of us jumped on top of him.”
“Good. We must hurry. Riley, Xander get behind its legs. Buffy position yourself to drive the stake home. The top of that garbage bin should do.” Giles pointed with his nose. Anya come with me we'll jump on its chest to knock it over.”
“You better hurry. He's getting tired of playing with his food,” observed Buffy.
Five furry streaks ran into the alley, taking up position as Willow focussed her attention on the piece of wood she'd spotted.
“Now,” called Giles.
The vamp looked up in time to see two sleek furry bodies drive at its face from a brick shelf on the building's side. It stumbled back and tripped over Riley and Xander.
“Ouch!” cried Xander, as the vamp fell and he streaked clear. Focussing all her concentration Willow positioned the stake and Buffy leapt, landing on it. It drove home and the vamp turned to dust. She fell on top of the pile.
“Oh fiddle! I just got my fur groomed and now I'm all dusty again,” she said as she climbed out of the pile.
“We did it.” Willow purred and strutted a little.
“Xander, that was an excellent plan,” remarked Giles.
“Great, yeah. He stepped on my tail. I can't believe it. He stepped on my tail,” complained the American Blue.
“Poor kitty.” Anya nuzzled his neck.
“We should go,” advised Rupert.
Chapter 3: TURF
Willow sniffed the fence post and a worried expression came to her face.
“What is it,” asked Rupert.
“Dog, a mean one, big too,” she replied.
“The sooner we're out of this area the better.” Riley sat and groomed his genitalis.
“It's probably on a leash,” said Buffy.
“Um. That's awfully hopeful.” Xander stood at the back of the line staring behind them.
“There is a leash law in Sunnydale,” observed Giles.
“And it gets ignored. Run!” ordered Xander as a Doberman raced up the sidewalk towards them.
“Bloody hell,” cried Giles as they all pelted down the sidewalk.
“He's gaining!” Riley glanced back at a beast that was easily twice the size of them all put together.
“Tree,” cried Willow. She leapt and extended her claws driving them home in the bark of an ornamental growing at the road side. She scrambled up allowing her body to guide her movements. Buffy followed her then Anya.”
“We're supposed to fight,” said Riley.
“Forget your testosterone and get up here,” snapped Buffy.
Xander and Rupert scrambled up the trunk. Riley hesitated a moment more then leapt, barely getting his tail clear before the dogs jaws snapped shut beneath him.
“OK, so now what?” asked Xander as they settled on branches.
“Do you think he'll get bored?” asked the ginger taby who began grooming her paw.
“I don't think so.” Buffy looked down at the beast below. It stood two paws supported on the trunk growling. “I can't believe this. I kill vampires and demons and now I'm chased up a tree by a dog. What's wrong with this picture?”
“Tell me about it,” said a woman's voice from higher up the tree.
“Who?” demanded Giles.
A squirrel clambered down a branch. “You got any real cats there, or you all shifted?” asked the voice.
“We were all people,” said Willow.
“OK, no eating me then. That sort of thing can ruin a squirrel's day,” said the voice.
“We promise,” said Giles. The squirrel descended further. She had a luxuriant black coat and seemed well fed.
“I take it that you were once human as well?” asked Giles.
“Oh yeah. Until I broke up with this person I was dating and they pulled a Circe on me.”
“A who?” asked Xander.
“Thank you,” said Riley.
“Circe, a sorcerous from Greek mythology, turned Odysseus' men into animals,” explained Willow.
“Give the ginger a prize,” said the squirrel.
“My name is Willow.”
“Ra's beak.” Willow's eyes went wide. “Your ex wasn't named Tara?”
“She did you guys too. That little slut is responsible for half the shifted critters in Sunnydale. Every time someone breaks up with her, zap.
“How'd you know?”
“She mentioned you when I found a... Oh never mind.”
“Oh... I see... Too bad we're furry. If your that cute as a cat, I'd have liked to have seen you in the skin.”
“Well... um... Yes. Be that as it may. And as pleased as I am sure we all are to meet you, it does not solve our immediate problem.”
“Oh, just relax. He'll go home to get fed after sunup,” said Catalan.
“That won't do,” said Buffy.
“What's up tri-colour, you got a hot date?” asked the Squirrel.
“We need to reach my apartment. We are looking for a way to reverse the spell Tara used,” explained the gray Taby.
“Yeah right. This isn't the sort of thing you're gonna find in a department store astrology book, Mr. Whiskers.”
Willow leapt and pinned the squirrel with her paw to the branch. “Be polite when you speak to Giles. He's forgotten more about magic than Tara will even know.”
“Willow, thank you, but I believe you can release Catalan now.”
“Witch!” snapped the squirrel after she scampered to the trunk and turned to glare at Willow.
“Exactly,” said Giles.
“What?” asked the squirrel.
“Willow and I are both students of the high art. We must find out which spell Tara used to transform us to break the enchantment.”
“Oh wow. You mean I can get out of this flea catcher and back into skin?”
“If we can find the spell and a way to reverse it.”
“Boy oh, count me in.”
“Great, so how do we get out of this tree?” demanded Buffy.
“Rupert, I still have my abilities, only weaker,” said Willow.
“Yes,” replied the gray tabby.
“Buffy's the Slayer. She's stronger and faster as a person.”
“No way!” said Buffy when she caught the drift of the conversation.
“Look at the size of that thing!”
“The mayor was proportionally larger,” observed Rupert.
“We had explosives.”
“Still this dog is no where near as large a threat.”
“Buffy is a fraidy cat,” said Xander.
“Xander! How dare you.” Buffy dropped her tail.
“Fraidy cat, fraidy cat,” chanted the American Blue.
“Oh shut up. I'll do it! If I get killed you'll have to explain to my mother why her daughter was eaten by a Doberman.”
The dog barked and growled at the base of the tree. Buffy looked down at it and took a deep breath.
“Just remember you are the Slayer,” said Willow.
“I am a small cat with orange black and white sploges. The Slayer has opposable thumbs and doesn't think raw pigeon is a delicacy,” objected Buffy.
“You can do it,” encouraged Riley.
“I'm sorry about the testosterone crack earlier. If you want to be heroic feel free.”
“I believe in you Buffy,” said Rupert.
“You're really gonna attack that thing. And people say I'm squirrelly,” said Catalan.
“Now!” Buffy leapt off the tree onto the dog's back. Her claws dug in and the beast yelped. It shook Buffy's claws held, its skin didn't and she was thrown to the side leaving deep gouges in the Doberman's flesh. It turned growling and stalked towards her. Buffy arched her back and hissed then leapt swiping her claws across the beast's nose. The dog leapt back with a whimper.
“This isn't right,” said Riley and he leapt from the tree. Landing behind the dog he swiped his claws across its scrotum.
The Doberman yipped in pain and spun to face Riley only to have something heavy land on its head. Giles sank his teeth into his enemy's ear and raked his claws against its neck.
Willow leapt onto the beast's back and went to work enlarging the wounds Buffy had left. Xander jumped down and sank his teeth into their enemy's thigh.
“Aren't you going to help?” Catalan asked the black cat that sat on the branch watching.
“No. They're good at this sort of thing. I'm just Xander's girlfriend.”
“The blue gray with the nice tush.”
“Oh. Will you look at that.”
“Buffy leapt at the Doberman's face, clawing at its eyes. The dog let loose a bray then ran away whimpering. Willow and Giles leapt to the ground and watched it go.”
“I hate bullies,” said Willow.
“Agreed. Are you hurt?” asked Rupert.
“No, are you?” asked Willow.
Willow nuzzled Rupert's neck then they turned to the others.
“Are those two?” asked Catalan pointing to Willow and Rupert.
“No. It's pretty obvious though, isn't it?” Anya licked her paw and cleaned her ear.
“And how. But I thought she liked - - -”
“All part of running away from it. He's older.”
“Looks good as a cat.”
“Looks better as a man. They just need to admit it to themselves.”
“Oh well, I always liked threesomes.”
“Too wild for her.”
“Too bad. Oh well, other cats in the cradle.”
“Is everyone alright?” asked Giles.
A chorus of fines answered him and Anya jumped to the pavement. Catalan followed her.
“Very well then. If we hurry we should be able to reach my apartment before sunrise.”
“The furry processional took off at a trot and Catalan scampered to keep up.
Chapter 4: BREAKING AND ENTERING
Giles stood in the courtyard of his apartment staring longingly up at the open window.
“So like, now we're here,” observed Buffy.
“I'm thinking,” replied Giles.
“Suns about to come up,” observed Xander.
“Guys, I think we need to do something here.” Riley indicated a window that just lit up with his nose.
“Not to be overly concerned. That is Mr. McFay. He is an early riser. We have at least an hour before we have to worry about much human traffic.” Rupert bunched up and leapt for all he was worth. Striking the outer wall of his condo he scrambled with his claws before falling heavily to the ground. “Ouch.”
“Rupert.” Willow rushed to his side.
“I am quite all right, except for my pride.”
“So this is the plan?” Catalan started cleaning her muzzle.
“If only we can enter I'm sure we can find a way to reverse the enchantment,” explained Rupert.
“Hey, no prob for me, what should I look for?” asked the squirrel.
“I'm afraid I don't exactly know. Willow could you get us in.”
The ginger taby's face creased with concentration then collapsed. I'm sorry, I just can't. I can't lift that much in this form.
“Bloody hell.” the gray taby started pacing back and forth. “Buffy with your added slayer prowess could you accomplish the leap?”
“I think I could but what good would that do. I can't work a lock. Remember, no opposable thumbs.” She glared at Willow.
“Buff, I said I was sorry. How was I supposed to know she was such a vindictive bitch? If it makes you feel any better, none of us have opposable thumbs.” Willow's tail drooped. Rupert nuzzled her rough supportivly.
“I do,” said Catalan.
“You what?” asked Giles.
“Have opposable thumbs. One of the advantages of being a squirrel.”
“Lord and lady, you do!” If you can turn the deadbolt on the inside and then turn the knob the rest of us should be able to push the door open. Rupert paused considering. “Do you think...” he stopped because Catalan had already scampered halfway up the wall towards the Window. “Buffy, go with her.”
“Buffy, do this. Buffy, do that. My nails are going to be completely ruined.”
“Buffy, please, I'll give you a boost,” offered Willow.
“Oh, all right.” By this time the squirrel had reached the window and leapt into Rupert's bedroom. Buffy bunched herself up and Willow focussed her thoughts. Buffy leapt and Willow pushed.
“Crap!!!!” swore the slayer as she hurtled through the window, there was a crash from inside then a string of half audible profanity.
“I think I pushed too hard.” Willow looked sheepish and started grooming her tail.
“Na, just right. If I heard her bitch about thumbs one more time I was going to scream,” said Anya.
“Yes well...” Rupert groomed his shoulder but his tail swished unconsciously. “We should wait at the door.”
Buffy stumbled to her feet amidst the pile of debris she'd knocked off Giles' night stand.
“Graceful,” observed Catalan. She'd climbed a book shelf and sat watching Buffy.
Buffy shook her head until she stopped seeing double. “Willow and I are gonna have a long talk!”
“Aw, give the fur ball a break. She's doing her best. Where's the front door in this librarian's nightmare?” countered the squirrel.
Buffy looked around getting her bearings. “This way.” She led the way down the stairs.
Catalan followed her and was soon standing in front of the closed and locked door.
“OK, so now I turn the deadbolt. Any suggestions fuzzy?” asked Catalan.
“My name is Buffy,” objected the Calico.
“OK Fluffy. Anyone ever tell you, you got nice haunches.”
“What?” Catalan scratched behind her ear with her back leg.
“My name is Buffy!”
“Like I said, Fluffy. So how do we unlock this damn door?” Catalan paced back and forth in front of the doorway eyeing it up.
“Sometimes I hate being the slayer! Maybe if you jump and grab one side of the twirlly thing on the lock your weight would pull it down.”
“Hey, I'm not that fat,” objected the squirrel.
“Don't know, looks like you've raided one to many bird feeders to me. You look absolutely delicious.” Buffy licked her chops suggestively.
“Whatever. You try being transformed for a couple of years and see how you like it. They don't exactly do gyms for us fuzzy types you know.” Catalan leapt and grabbed the deadbolt's release. She scrambled with the metal for a second before getting a firm grip then shifted her weight until she hung off one end of the latch. “Nothing!”
“Hold on, I have an idea.” Buffy put her front paws against the door and stood on her hind legs. This brought her mouth even with the end of Catalan's tail.”
“Look, fuzz ball, I think I know what you're thinking and no way. I don't let just anyone bite my tail. Although if you want to get together after were back in skin we can talk.”
“Like, Ewww. And shut up and hold on.” Buffy closed her mouth on the end of Catalan's tail and pulled.
“Shit, that hurts! Don't go native on me, Fluffy, my name ain't Nutkin.” The latch shifted then in a rush turned. Catalan chittered as her grip gave out and she fell backwards towards Buffy. Buffy tried to leap clear but was too slow and both animals ended of a tangled heap on the floor.
“We did it,” cried Buffy.
“Nice tush,” remarked Catalan.
Buffy leapt away like she'd been stung. “Hey!”
Catalan winked at Buffy suggestively. “Now for the knob.” Catalan leapt again grasping the door knob. This time her weight was enough and the latch turned. Buffy leapt into the window by the door and yelled. “Now.”
Rupert, Willow and the rest waited outside the door.
“Do you think they'll do it?” Riley was once more grooming his genitals.
“I have complete faith in Buffy's abilities to deal with a crises, no matter what form she wears.” Giles stood beside Willow watching the door intently.
“Xander get back here,” ordered Anya.
“What?” replied the american blue. A white Persian had started across the courtyard and Xander seemed inexplicably drawn towards it.
“Oh my,” said Giles as a scent reached him and he felt his body begin to respond.
“Whow, I.. Wow.” Riley stopped grooming his gentiles and watched the Persian strut across the yard behind him.
“She stinks,” remarked Willow.
“Hussy,” snapped Anya.
“We should say hello, she might be like us,” said Xander.
“Xander, I forbid you to go close to that animal,” snapped Rupert.
“Yeah, you and who's army,” growled Xander. He turned to Rupert fur bristling.
“Lord and Lady give me strength,” Rupert said though gritted teeth. “Riley freeze. None of us are to approach that female.”
“Yeah, who died and made you king?” demanded Riley fur bristling.
“Can't you young fools see. She's in heat. The smell. Could you live with yourselves afterwards?” demanded Rupert. He felt himself edging towards the female.
“Rupert,” called Willow. She leapt putting herself between Rupert and the female.
“Willow. It is difficult. You and Anya.”
“Gotcha.” With a hiss Willow charged the persian. The long haired cat didn't have time to do more than hiss before the orange and white feline missile struck her, scratching and growling.
The males moved towards the cat fight but Anya leapt in front of them, back arched and growling low in her throat.
Willow tore at her opponent. The long fur formed a kind of armour and she was outweighed. The tide of battle began to turn against her.
“Let us by, Anya,” growled Rupert's voice.
“You can't have him, he's mine!” Willow lashed out with a ferocity she didn't know she had. The persian hissed then bolted out of the courtyard, a white streak in the early morning light.
“Oh God, I was about too, with a cat,” groaned Riley.
“Anya honey,” breathed Xander.
“Well talk later,” growled Anya.
Xander's tail drooped and he cringed.
“Willow, are you injured?” Rupert moved to the ginger taby's side.
“I'm fine.” Willow accepted the affectionate nuzzle he gave the rough of her neck. Her mind was awash with what she had said, and what it might mean.
“We had best get back to the door,” observed Rupert.
Moments later they heard Buffy shout now. Placing their shoulders to the door they pushed and it creaked open just enough for them to squeeze though.
“We had best close it so the neighbours do not become suspicions. There is a no pets policy in the complex,” explained Rupert.
A moment later they had pushed the door closed and were standing around Rupert's living room gazing up at the books on the shelf.
“So fur balls, where do we start?” asked Catalan.
Chapter 5: KNOWLEDGE IS POWER, OR HOW DO YOU WORK A CAN OPENER?
“Buff, that isn't helping,” complained Willow as Buffy curled up in the middle of the page she was trying to read.
“What? Oh sorry. I just have this uncontrollable urge to curl up on whatever someone is reading.” Buffy stood flicked her tail and walked off the book.
A crash sounded and Willow looked up in time to see Xander scramble free of a pile of books that had fallen off the top shelf. As she watched Riley leapt and caught a book by its binding hung there for a moment, then kicked off from the other books. The book pulled out along with the ones to either side. There was another crash.
“Giles, why can't you get your own books?” Xander pushed one of the tomes towards the gray taby with his nose.
“I'd be happy to get the books for myself if you would take over the reading chores. How's your ancient Greek?”
“Me-ow, of course it's to be expected,” remarked Catalan. The black squirrel was siting on top of the coffee table snacking from a bowl of nuts.
“Um... Giles,” asked Anya.
“Yes?” he sounded peeved and his tail lashed back and forth.
“You didn't have a litter box or anything?”
“You had to say it?” grumbled Buffy.
“Well, Um... I suppose well... Hmm...”
“We're gonna wreck your carpet if you can't do better than Hmm G-Cat. Hey I got it right,” observed Xander.
“How about the bathtub. At least it will be easy to clean afterwards,” suggested Willow.
“Dibs,” called Buffy and the calico streaked towards the bathroom door.
“Big guy, I think your plants need watering.” Xander jumped up on top of a potted fern.
“Oh bloody hell.” The gray taby returned to his reading.
Willow blinked and tried to focus on the page. The letters swam in front of her eyes. “I need a break.”
“What, Oh yes, indeed.” Rupert looked up wearily from the tome he half lay on. “The others seem to be of much the same opinion.” he indicated the sofa where the rest of the scoobies lay curdled in tight little furry balls. Catalan was stretched out along the top of a book shelf, her furry chest expanding and contracting rhythmically. The rest of the room looked like a literary earthquake had struck, with books scattered over the floor.
“I know I shouldn't complain, but I'm kinda hungry too.” The ginger taby stood and stretched. The grey tom taby watched her and his tail swished as a warm feeling filled his breast.
“I'm with her on that one,” said Xander.
“I thought you were sleeping,” said Giles.
“Someone mentioned food.”
“Human or cat, one need say no more to rouse a Xander,” quipped Willow.
“Well, I will see what I have. I admit I have a rather intense craving for a nice tuna salad myself. Or perhaps just tuna. Yes. I'll just pop down to the fish and chip place and... Oh... My apologies, I forgot.” Rupert looked at his paw with disgust.
“No pocket to fit your wallet in, right G-cat?” quipped Xander.
“Quite. I do have several tins of tuna in my cupboard and a canned ham. They should see us through if we can figure out how to open them.”
“One step at a time, G-cat. Get the can to the opener then we figure out the rest.” Xander started towards the kitchen.
“Tuna sounds so good.” Willow followed him with Rupert bringing up the rear.
The counter top was an easy leap then Xander pawed open the cupboard door.
“Why am I not surprised you know where I keep things in my kitchen?” Giles sat and contemplated the tins on the second shelf up.
“I'll get them, I don't think either of you would fit,” said Willow, who bunched her hind legs and leapt landing on the shelf's clear edge in a perfect display of feline grace.
“She is grace personified,” muttered Rupert.
“I found the tuna. Make way, I'm going to push out a tin.” Willow knocked one of the small round cans off the pile and pushed it to the shelf's edge as Rupert and Xander cleared the way. A knock of a paw later and the can hit the counter top with a resounding crash.
“What was that!” demanded Buffy's voice from the other room. A second later the Slayer's nose appeared around the door frame. She stalked haughtily into the kitchen swishing her tail in a way that left no doubt as to her level of annoyance. “I was sleeping. What do you think you're doing anyway?”
“Sorry, Buff. We wanted to open a can of tuna,” explained Willow.
“Tuna!” Buffy was on the counter in a single leap clawing at the can. “Um... Guys. How do we open it?”
Willow jumped onto the counter top. “We need to work that part out.
“My electric can opener is plugged in. If we can get the can into place, one of us could depress the lever and...” Before Rupert could finish Xander was pushing the tin towards the opener.
“OK Buff, get the other side of it. Wills, get ready to push the lever.”
“All this for tuna. I gotta be a cat.” Buffy moved to the other side of the can. Rupert moved to balance it from the front. Working together they pushed their paws under the tin and lifted it.
“It's slipping,” called Rupert, then the can crashed to the counter top.
“Try again,” said Xander.
“Did I mention how much I'm hating this whole cat thing, Willow. Ow,” Buffy leapt away from Rupert's claws.
“That is enough, Buffy! None of us are thrilled with the situation but the only person that is to blame is not here.” The grey taby looked menacingly at the calico.
“You scratched me.”
“Spanking was not an option.”
“Isn't that normal punishment for spoiled brats?”
Buffy's tail shot into the air and she look indignant. “Well I never.”
“Guys, the tin won't open itself,” interrupted Willow.
“Quite right. Let's try again,” agreed Rupert.
With a sniff Buffy returned to her place by the tin and they levered it onto their paws. This time they got it to the bracket and Willow pressed down with all her weight. The opener hummed and the can spun.
“Oh the smell.” Buffy drooled.
“Hi Fluffy, Xander, G-cat, Red. What you doing?” Catalan scampered into the kitchen.
“Getting tuna,” breathed Willow, the smell was near orgasmic in intensity.
“Um... Wow... Guess I can't say much, I'm the same with cashews.”
Willow pushed up the lever and the can dropped leaving the lid stuck to the magnet at the opener's top. They all rushed the tin as the sounds of running feet came from the other room.
“This will never be enough,” commented Xander between mouthfuls.
“There's more in the cupboard,” replied Giles.
“It will never be enough.” Xander's tail swished and his eyes closed in rapture.
Rupert turned the page. A tassel off his drapes landed in the middle of the book and Buffy quickly followed. Riley flew across the room, half tackling the calico and they ended up a heap on the floor.
“Would you please,” began Rupert.
“Come on G-cat were bored,” interrupted Xander.
“Ya, there's nothing to do,” complained Buffy.
Rupert sat up and scanned the tattered remains of his apartment.
“Have you all grown tired of reducing my furniture to shreds already.”
“Sour puss!” said Buffy.
“Like hey, Rupert is not a Sour puss. It's not your place getting trashed.” Willow looked up from the screen of her laptop. Catalan was beside her, hind legs on the floor, body draped over a mouse.
“You know mice and squirrels are related. This could be fun, if I was into rubber, which I'm not, so will you pussy's stop whining and let the ma... cat work?”
“Maybe we can find something else to do.” Xander stalked to where Anya lay curled up in a chair.
“Forget it,” said the ball of black fur without moving.
“Barbs Xander. No way.”
Xander spun around and stared at where Riley was gingerly licking the fur of his haunch.
“I agree with Anya on that one. Back off fur ball.”
“I need a drink. I'm just going to the kitchen you need anything before I scat, Willow?” Catalan moved off the mouse.
“I don't think so. I'll join you.”
“I didn't mean, I mean.”
“Don't sweat it, kiddo. I'm just funning. I'm getting the feeling we're really not each other's type. Pity really. Now Fluffy.”
“Buffy,” corrected the Calico.
“Ya, Fluffy and old cross eyes, there's a game worth playing.”
“Can I eat her,” demanded Buffy.
“Sure thing sweets, but let's get back into skin first. Cat tongues are just too raspy.” Catalan flicked her tail and kept one eye on a near by bookshelf she could climb.
“I didn't mean... I... Um... Oh...aw...”
Willow snorted and walked with Catalan towards the kitchen, as they did so the squirrel stopped to stare at the page Giles was reading.
“The bitch had one of those. Saw it once, when I asked about it she clammed up.” Catalan pointed at an illustration of a wand, its surface was carved from top to bottom with animal faces and stone balls were attached to its ends. One of these was black the other white.
“Tara had one of these?” Willow moved to Rupert's side and stared into the book. The others crowded around. Buffy stood on the page staring down at the illustration.
“Buffy!” Giles groomed his shoulder in frustration.
“Oh sorry.” The calico stepped aside.
Willow read. “The wand of Circe. Believed lost in 1732 was reported to have the ability to transform any living creature into any other living thing at a distance, so long as the law of contagion can be applied.
“Rupert, this is it.”
“Yes it does seem rather hopeful, now if we can only find the counter.”
“What's this law of contagion?” asked Buffy.
“Things once in contact remain in contact though separated by distance. Strength of said contact varies directly with the duration of contact and inversely with the period of separation,” explained Willow.
“Huh.” said Riley.
“Like, thanks man. Will, you've been hanging with Giles too much.”
“Or not enough.” Catalan flicked her tail.
“It means that things you keep with you can be used to cast a spell on you if you aren't there and... That's it!”
“What?” The Calico looked confused.
“The links,” said Willow.
“Translation please,” said Xander.
“With little boy blue on this one,” said Catalan.
“It's so simple.” Anya strutted up onto the book to face everyone. “If we can take the things she took to link to us away from her the spell will be reversed and we'll all go back to being us again. No barbs. Hmmmmm.”
“Yes exactly,” praised Giles.
Anya stuck her tail in the air and pranced a little.
“She'd have to keep them close to her. Somewhere in her room probably... Oh Goddess, I know where they are.” Willow stated pacing back and forth, her tail swishing in agitation. “I found an old shoe box one day when I was... Well when I visited her and it was full of little things. She was very protective of them and very upset I'd found them, but she put them back in the same place. It's in her closet.”
“OK cats, we got the what, where and how, now we need to get to her,” said Xander.
“Another trip across town, my nails will be completely ruined,” moaned Buffy.
“Hey Fluffy, I'll do your nails for you. I wanna hold your hand,” quipped Catalan.
“Excuse me but...” began Riley.
“Not to worry, handsome, I wouldn't think of leaving you out.”
Riley sat on his haunches a thoughtful expression crossing his face.
“Riley Finn, get your mind out of the gutter,” snapped Fluffy aw...er... Buffy.
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