“Look, Spike! What a pretty little spring!”
“Just water, Slayer. Now if it was blood bubbling out of there....”
“You know you love it, or expect it, anyway.”
“I do not! I just humor you because I just can’t be bothered to hit you every time you say something gross.”
“Careful there, pet. Those rocks look a bit slip—oops?” He stared into the small pool. “Slayer? Buffy?” He waited, frowning. “Not funny, luv. Time to come up now.”
Even as he spoke, he was shedding his clothes and boots. He had just jumped into the water when Buffy shot to the surface, gasping and flailing with her arms. He held her above the surface while she coughed out water and began spouting curses.
“I don’t know. I’d have sworn you pushed me if I wasn’t looking right at you when I went in. And then, I went down... and down... and down... and I was running out of air and—Why are you NAKED?”
“Oh, that. Well, see, thing is, I thought you were drowning and I didn’t want to get my clothes all wet, so I... and then you popped up, and I was helping you stay afloat, and....”
“You couldn’t swim in your underwear?”
“Don’t wear underwear, Slayer.”
“Oh course you don’t... silly me.” Under her breath, she muttered, “Disgusting vampire.”
“I heard that, you ungrateful bitch. Just for that, swim your own way out of here.”
With an indignant growl, he pushed her away and watched with great interest as she immediately disappeared again. He frowned, trying to see through what should have been crystal clear spring water, but he could no longer see Buffy in spite of the water’s clarity. He remained treading water, muttering to himself, then, with a final “Bloody hell!” he arched into a dive and headed for the bottom of the spring.
The moonlight that had illuminated the spring at the surface didn’t seem to be working several feet below, and Spike shifted into his vampire mien in order to see better. Immediately, he caught a glimpse of Buffy’s hair floating around her as she drifted toward what appeared to be a cave opening. He swam over, noted her closed eyelids and slack features only long enough to panic and attempt to drag her the surface. Instead, they both were sucked into the cave, popping out on the other side into damp, but breathable air.
“There you are! I thought you were going to let her drown! That would have totally spoiled this. Now get over here and get her breathing again.”
Spike snarled at the bluish half-woman, half-snake creature ordering him about, but did lift Buffy onto the ledge and turn her over so the water could run out of her mouth as he pushed on her back. When she was coughing and sputtering threats to stake him, he sighed and sat back on his heels. Buffy sat up, took one look at his still-naked body, and shut her eyes.
“Don’t be so dainty, Slayer. A little gratitude wouldn’t be—”
I don’t have time for thissss. You, Slayer, take your clothesss off too. We need to get this spell on the road.”
Buffy noticed their companion for the first time. “What the hell? And no way! I’m not getting naked in front of Spike. And who or what are you?”
“It’ssss of no importance. What isssss important, is one of you on either ssssside of this mirror, holding the crystal in your handsssss while I pour water over it.”
Buffy’s eyes narrowed as she stood up and put her hands on her hips. “Did you drag me down here?”
“I was responsible for bringing you both here, yessss. I require something pure and something....” she looked at Spike who was still in game face “... lessssss pure. Now, remove your clothing and take his hand.”
Recognizing Buffy’s growing anger, Spike dropped his fangs and moved to her side to whisper, “Slayer, it’s not going to kill you. I promise not to look. The bint has us at a bit of disadvantage, doesn’t she? We’re stuck here till she lets us go.”
“You just want to see me naked!” she hissed back.
“Well, duh! But I’m not the one asking for it, am I? If it makes you feel better, I’ll shut my eyes.” When Buffy just gaped at him in disbelief, he growled and shrugged. “You have my word, Slayer. You know I’m good for it.”
“Shut your eyes – better yet, turn around.”
As soon as he turned his back, Buffy squirmed out of her wet clothes and held out her hand for the crystal.
“Give it here,” she ordered. “Before I freeze to death.” She took the rather ordinary-looking rock and held it over the mirror. “Okay, Spike. You can turn around, but keep your eyes shut. Just hold out your hand until you feel me—mine—until you feel my hand.”
As soon as they were in position, their captor dipped a goblet into the water and poured it over their linked hands. She peered intently at the mirror as it clouded over and then cleared. She studied it for a moment, then sighed.
“Oh dear. It appearsss that I’m not finished with you two. I’ll be back in touch...”
She waved her hand and suddenly Buffy and Spike were lying on the soft grass at the edge of the spring.
“You’re looking,” Buffy said, her glare somewhat mitigated by her own perusal of his wet, chiseled torso.
“So ‘r you,” he countered, but turned his head away. He handed her his coat, and picked up his jeans. Dressed again, he said, “Let’s get out of here before she comes back.”
“If this doesn’t involve saving the world, I’m going to chop her into sushi.”
“She was a snake, Slayer, not a fish.”
“Whatever.” Without thinking, she accepted his hand as he helped her up the bank.
the end (for now)
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