the bunny warren v. Faith

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With an Alien People Clutching Their Gods - Chapter 4
And the Silken Girls Bringing Sherbet

Author: Mikelesq
Concept: After Buffy’s death, the Scoobies face a new threat, and one of Glory’s minions devotes his life to the worship of his new goddess. Set during the summer between Seasons 5 and 6 of BtVS.
Rating: PG-13.
Feedback: Please. E-mail Mikelesq@aol.com
Spoilers: Up to the “Bargaining,” Episode of Season 6.
Legal disclaimers: "Buffy the Vampire Slayer” characters and situations are owned by Joss Whedon and the producers of the show. The story is entirely fiction. Distribute if you like. The title, chaper titles, and lines quoted are from T.S. Eliot’s “Journey of the Magi.” Thanks to Estepheia for the plot bunny.

“Who’s there?!?”

“That’s a real knock, Buffybot,” Tara sighed as she walked past the robot to the front door of the Summers’ house. She tightened the belt on her bathrobe, then opened the door, and found Jinx standing on the porch, holding a stack of papers in his hand.

“Oh, you,” Tara mumbled, instinctively taking a cautionary step backwards. She drew a raspy breath, memories of the madness inflicted upon her by Glory rushing back to her. Jinx had been frequenting the Summers’ home for two weeks, but the memories returned every time.

“C’mon in,” Tara said, struggling to maintain her composure.

“Thank you,” Jinx said, entering the house. “Good evening to you. And a most pleasant evening to you, Oh Most Marvelous Being.”

“Thank you!” The Buffybot responded.

Tara groaned, then said:

“What is it, Jinx?”

“I bear information from Anya and Xander,” Jinx replied. “I was told that a response was required expeditiously.”

“Alright,” Tara said, extending her hand. “Hand it over.”

“Well, Anya was very specific in her insistence that only Willow take possession of these documents.”

“Buffy,” Tara said. “Tell Jinx to give me the papers.”

“Jinx,” the Buffybot responded. “Give those papers to Tara!”

“As you wish, My Goddess,” Jinx said, giving the papers to Tara. Jinx smiled at Tara. The Buffybot smiled at Tara. Then Jinx turned to the Buffybot. Jinx and the Buffybot smiled at each other.

Tara didn’t smile.

“Alright,” Tara said. “I’ll give them to Willow. You can leave now.”

“Well, I was instructed to verify that Willow will provide further instructions this very evening,” Jinx replied.

“Buffy,” Tara said. “Tell Jinx to...oh, forget it. Look, just come into the kitchen. Willow will be down in a minute.”

Tara turned and walked toward the kitchen, with Jinx and the Buffybot close behind.

“Brother,” Tara mumbled under her breath as she walked. “If it was like this when Spike signed on, I’m glad I was crazy.”

The three entered the kitchen and found Dawn sitting at the counter. She wore an oversized nightshirt, and was opening one of three pints of ice cream before her. Three empty bowls sat along the edges of the table, each with a spoon laying beside it.

“I call dibs on the caramel fudge,” Dawn said. “Did Willow remember the chocolate sprinkles, or should we just...oh.”

Dawn’s jaw stiffened as she turned to face Tara and saw Jinx standing along side her. Dawn crossed her arms, instinctively shielding her stomach where Doc had made his shallow cuts.

“What’s HE doing here?” Dawn asked. “I thought the jokes knock-knocked him out?”

“Xander and Anya found some stuff,” Tara explained. “He brought over the papers.”

“What’s he STILL doing here?” Dawn asked.

“I was going to tell...well, it’s a long story.”

“Jinx came with information,” the Buffybot said. “We will use the information to fight the evil vampires!”

“Yeah, right,” Dawn mumbled.

“Dawn, as your sister, I think I should remind you of your bedtime,” the Buffybot said, walking over to Dawn and resting a hand on her shoulder. “Girls your age should....”

“Um, Buffy,” Tara said. “We discussed this. It’s summer vacation. Dawn is allowed to stay up....”

Tara stopped as Dawn forcefully pushed the Buffybot’s hand away. Dawn turned, looked into the robot’s eyes, and said:

“Don’t. Touch. Me.”

Tara quickly looked over to Jinx, who watched uncomfortably.

“Heh, sisters,” Tara said, smiling weakly. “You know how they fight. But it’s nothing to worry about. Right, Buffy?”

The Buffybot nodded, and a wide grin spread across her face.

“Right?” Tara said, turning to face Dawn.

“Sure,” Dawn murmured. “Everything’s just great.”

Tara paused as she heard footsteps behind her. She turned and saw Willow approaching.

“Sundae-fest ready to go?” Willow asked as she entered the kitchen. “I picked up some spray can whipped cream on my way home from...oh! Jinx! Hi! What are you...?”

Willow paused when she felt the confused stares of Tara and Dawn glaring upon her.

“Um, that is,” Willow continued, forcing her face into a scowl. “What do you want?”

“He brought these,” Tara replied, handing the papers to Willow. “Anya found something.”

“Oh,” Willow said, taking the papers and flipping quickly through the sheets. “Hmm. It’s a medallion, and the name Iparthus is pretty clearly mentioned, but the text is....”

Willow paused as she came to the final paper in the stack.

“Oh, my god,” Willow gasped.

“What?” Dawn asked. “Something big?”

“Oh, um, no,” Willow stammered. “It’s...the amulet. There’s...stuff, about the amulet. All kinds of stuff. Really. Stuff.”

“Stuff,” Dawn repeated.

“Let me see,” Tara said, walking over to Willow and reading over her shoulder. “Anything on what the amulet...oh, my god!”

“Two oh-my-gods,” Dawn observed. “That must be some amulet.”

“Uh, yeah,” Tara said. “Willow, you should start checking on this.”

“I’m on it,” Willow said. “I’ll be down in a minute.”

“Willow,” the Buffybot said. “My batteries will require recharging before the morning.”

Willow’s eyes widened as she stole a glance at Jinx. A puzzled expression crossed Jinx’s face, until Tara interrupted with a loud yawn.

“Yeah,” Tara said, drawing a deep breath and stretching her arms high above her head. “I’m kind of tired, too. A good night’s sleep will really ‘recharge my batteries,’ so to speak.”

Jinx smiled, nodding in understanding. Dawn turned her head to prevent Jinx from seeing her sigh of relief.

“Good thinking,” Willow said. “Tara, why don’t you take Buffy upstairs to bed, so she can ‘recharge the ol’ batteries’ with a little sack time. I’ll start checking out stuff. Dawn, stay down here with Jinx until we come down.”

Dawn scowled. “I don’t want to stay down here with HIM!”

“Dawnie, please,” Willow said. “It’ll just be for a few minutes. I may need Jinx to...um...get a message to Xander and Anya. I’ll be right down. I promise.”

“Whatever,” Dawn said, absently stabbing a spoon into the ice cream.

Willow bolted out of the kitchen and up the stairs.

“C’mon, Buffy,” Tara said, taking the robot by the elbow. “Let’s get you to bed. Dawn, I’ll be down as soon as I can. It’ll be okay. I promise.”

Dawn paused, then nodded. Tara led the Buffybot by the arm out of the kitchen.

“Have I interrupted a ritual of some kind?” Jinx asked.

“Sort of,” Dawn replied. “Every Thursday we have an ice cream pig out. It’s a girl thing.”

“I must admit,” Jinx said. “The customs observed by My Goddess are...difficult to comprehend.”

“Sorry,” Dawn sneered. “We used to have more ceremonies where we’d slice into teenagers to open up dimensional portals, but we ran out of innocent victims.”

“I certainly hope that I was not the cause of the disagreement between you and The Most Splendiferous One?”

“No,” Dawn admitted. “It’s just...I don’t like her touching me.”

“Why? She is your sister, is she not?”

“She’s not...I mean...look, Jinx, this is really none of your business. Stay out of it.”

“I apologize,” Jinx said. “You are quite right. The familial relations of My Goddess are hardly the concern of one as foul and decrepit as myself. I beg you, for my arrogance, take....”

“Jinx, please,” Dawn interrupted. “If you’re going to make some kind of an offer to get disfigured, skip it. You’ll ruin my appetite.”

“Again, I apologize,” Jinx said. “I did not mean to.. that is, I did not want to be the cause of any conflict. I would not wish to....”

“Wish to what?” Dawn asked.

“I have already failed one goddess,” Jinx said, his eyes falling. “I cannot bear the thought that I would fail another.”

“What are you talking about?” Dawn asked. “I mean, I thought you were on shoe duty when Buffy beat Glory?”

“Yes,” Jinx said. “I followed Glory’s instructions to the letter.”

“Well, there you go,” Dawn said. “It wasn’t your fault she got the stuffing kicked out of her before my blood opened the gates to Hell.”

Dawn frowned as she pondered her last statement.

“I have told myself that many times,” Jinx agreed. “But I cannot help but think that there was something more that I could do. Of course, Glory insisted that it was imperative that her tastefully chosen ensembles accompany her. She told me that she had no intention of abandoning the wardrobe she had spent a lifetime accumulating. Apparently, in her home dimension, the more powerful beings normally adorn themselves with the viscera of lower demons. Glory stated that the innards of such creatures would fail to flatter her calves.”

“Ew,” Dawn winced. “Well, I guess it would be hard to find entrails that have a slimming effect. On the person wearing them, that is. The demon it came from, well, you can’t get much more slimming than...okay, there goes that appetite.”

“Glory always did have a keen fashion sense,” Jinx observed. “Still, given the gravity of the events, I find it hard to believe that, well....”

“What? You think she was lying?”

“I suspect that she had another motive for assigning this task to me,” Jinx said. “I was Glory’s oldest minion. I would always assume her most challenging enterprises. I would deal with Ben, hunt for the Key, hand wash her more delicate unmentionables. As Glory grew closer to her goal, she would relegate me to increasingly more menial tasks. I suspect that she was trying to keep me out of harm’s way.”

“That doesn’t sound like Glory. I mean, she was evil and all. And you always talk about how she would smack you around and stuff.”

“Oh, that was just her way,” Jinx said. “Sometimes, when she was alone and despondent, she would tell me of her plans to return to the realm from whence she came. And then she would tell me that I was her favorite, and that she would take me with her, to serve her for all eternity.”

“Oh,” Dawn said, looking into Jinx’s dispirited expression. “And that’s why you figure she gave you her suitcases when the big battle was coming? She let her feelings for you distract her from...well, what she should have been thinking about?”

“Perhaps,” Jinx said. “Not that I am not gratetful for the preference she showed me, but...a part of me was relieved when Glory told me to stay away from the fight. I try to tell myself that it was obedience, but a part of me suspects that it was fear.”

“So,” Dawn said, her eyes focusing intently on the empty bowl that sat before her. “You figure that...the only reason you’re here is because...because you let Glory talk you into keeping yourself safe?”

Jinx shrugged. “I certainly could have tried to persuade her to let me do more. Not that it is the place of a minion to question an order, but...for the longest time after she was lost, I kept asking myself if it was selfish of me to simply allow everything to occur, without so much as a word passing my wretched lips.”

“Yeah,” Dawn said. “I mean, you tell yourself that you just did what you were told, but maybe you wanted...maybe you were just afraid....”

Dawn lifted her spoon and reached for the pint of ice cream before her. She stared at the label wordlessly for a moment, then turned to Jinx and said:

“Hey, look, do you ever get...angry? At Glory, I mean. Do you ever get really, really angry at her, which is stupid, because she isn’t...there...but still you think about how much you miss her, and how awful you feel, and how crazy things have gotten, and how much better it would have been if she’d just let you....well, do you? Get angry?”

“I did,” Jinx admitted. “But not anymore.”

“Why not?”

“I now serve Buffy. I cannot change the past. All I can do now is serve my new Goddess to the best of my ability. I am here. I wallowed in my grief for a time, but to do so indefinitely would accomplish nothing.”

“Huh,” Dawn mumbled. “That’s...interesting. You know, sometimes I....”

Dawn was interrupted by the sound of a single telephone ring. Dawn turned toward the kitchen phone, but when a second ring did not follow, she surmised that Tara had answered the telephone upstairs. A moment later, Tara walked into the kitchen and said:

“It’s Janice. She wants to know how you’re doing with your summer reading.”

“I’ll take it upstairs,” Dawn said, rising from her seat and walking toward the hall.

“Okay,” Tara said, taking a seat at the counter.

Dawn stopped before exiting the kitchen, turned to Tara, and asked:

“Tara, is...Buffy...all taken care of?”

“Uh, yeah,” Tara responded, somewhat surprised by the question.

“Good,” Dawn said. “I’ll be right down. Oh, Jinx?”

“Yes?” Jinx replied.

“I’ll...I’ll be right down,” Dawn repeated, then turned and continued down the hallway.

Tara shot a puzzled glance at Jinx. Jinx merely smiled, his hands folded in his lap.

“What were you two talking about?” Tara inquired.

“We were merely discussing the difficulties of being a minion,” Jinx explained.

“Yeah, tough job,” Tara said, an uncharacteristic tone of sarcasm in her voice. “I guess helping Glory turn helpless victims into insane slaves wasn’t always easy, was it?”

“Oh, it was one of many tasks that required a great deal of effort,” Jinx said. “The kidnappings, the constant complimenting, the pedicures. Unpleasantness, but I was honored to perform whatever menial services I could provide. After all, I could ask for no better.”

“What do you mean?” Tara asked. “Did you do something wrong?”

“Oh, it was not a question of atonement,” Jinx said. “It was merely fitting my station.”

“Your station?”

“Other demons generally do not associate with our species,” Jinx explained. “We are considered a lower form of demon.”

“I don’t get it,” Tara said. “You have that regenerating thing. You’re unkillable. I’d figure other demons would be looking to stay on your good side.”

“There is a hierarchy among demons,” Jinx said. “It is difficult to explain to a human. The members of your kind are virtually identical to each other. The minor differences among you are of no consequence.”

“I dunno,” Tara said, shifting uncomfortably. “I mean, humans can be like that, to people who are...different. Sometimes humans can be very cruel to each other, just because...well, for no good reason, really.”

“How odd,” Jinx observed. “Well, for our kind, it eventually was of no consequence.”

“Why?”

“Glorificus,” Jinx sighed. “Demons sought her from all over the globe, simply to worship her. She could have selected the strongest, the fiercest, the most powerful of demons to serve as her minions. But she selected us. She selected ME, a loathsome pile of flesh and hair, to attend to her. Centuries of hiding, of cowering before the lower beings, and then, the most powerful of all beings chose me to be at her side. It was as though all the years of struggle had finally brought me to something that made my foul existence a gift to be treasured.”

“You mean, she made you feel special,” Tara said, her eyes drifting downward.

“Yes, she did,” Jinx said.

“I guess I can see that,” Tara said. “Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that justifies all the evil and killing and mind stuff, but...I can see how that would feel.”

“I try not to dwell too much on the past,” Jinx said. “After all, I have been so fortunate to find Buffy.”

“Yeah,” Tara replied. “It’s not easy to find someone who makes you feel that way.”

Tara was silent for a moment, then looked up at Jinx, and said:

“Um, Jinx? Did you ever wonder...if maybe that’s what it was all about? I mean, when things would get scary, and stuff was going on that made you...uncomfortable...did you ever wonder if maybe you kept it all inside because you were afraid that, if you screwed it up, you’d go back to feeling like you didn’t matter? Like you’d stop feeling...special?”

“Well, no,” Jinx answered. “I surely do not want to return to the life I had before, but the life I have now gives me joy because my devotion to My Goddess is genuine. She is truly a wondrous creature. She is most worthy of any hardship I may have to endure. Simply being in her presence gives me delight, and I know that it comes for my love of her, not from anything in the past.”

“Yeah,” Tara said. “I mean, it’s great when you’re with someone, and you just know it’s right. But, still....”

“We got it!”

Tara turned and saw that the cry had come from Willow.

“We got it?” Tara repeated. “What...oh! It. Are you sure?”

“You betcha!” Willow exclaimed. “I mean, we don’t actually HAVE it, but I checked it out, and it’s definitely the one. I contacted Xander. He couldn’t talk long. He and Anya were...well, let’s just say he was out of breath. But he did say that they found an out of town source, and we’ll know in a couple of weeks whether we can get it.”

“How did you talk with him?” Tara asked. “Isn’t Dawn on the phone with Janice?”

Willow grinned and tapped a finger against her forehead. “I was a little worried about making a connection, what with the distance, and the interference from the Henderson’s satellite dish, but I got through. Remind me to tell Xander to stop speaking out loud when we do the ESP thing. It makes an echo.”

“So if we get...it,” Tara said, casting a cautionary glance at Jinx, “we have a chance?”

“Chance my ass,” Willow said. “I can do it. I know it. Hell, the way I feel tonight I think I could do anything!”

“That’s...great,” Tara said, absently playing with the fringed end of her bathrobe belt.

“What’s wrong?” Willow asked.

“Oh, it’s nothing,” Tara said. “I’m...I guess I’m just a little tired.”

“Perhaps you should ‘recharge your batteries’ with some sleep?” Jinx suggested, looking in Willow and Tara’s faces for approval in his use of the idiom.

“Yeah,” Tara said, a weak smile crossing her face. “Maybe that would help.”

“Janice doesn’t get John Keats either,” Dawn said, entering the kitchen and sitting at the counter. “So, sundae time?”

“All set,” Willow replied.

“You will not require my services for the rest of the evening?” Jinx asked.

“Nope,” Willow answered. “We’re done.”

“Very well,” Jinx said. “I will bid you all a good night.”

“Um, Jinx,” Dawn said. “Where exactly do you sleep?”

“Oh, there is an abandoned warehouse on the docks,” Jinx explained. “Quite comfortable.”

“Oh,” Dawn sighed.

“Hey,” Tara said. “You know, there’s plenty of room in the basement.”

“Oh, I would not dream of imposing on your hospitality,” Jinx said.

“Oh, it’s no trouble,” Tara responded. “Right, Will?”

“Uh, yeah,” Willow said, somewhat taken aback by Tara and Dawn’s new concern for Jinx’s comfort.

“Well, it would allow me to tend to The Most Delectable One more closely,” Jinx said.

“There you go,” Dawn said.

“I will retire to the basement, then,” Jinx said, bowing and turning to walk toward the hall.

“Wait a minute,” Dawn said. “Uh, before you crash...well, we always buy way too much ice cream. I mean, we scarf it down, but there’s always plenty left.”

“Would you like me to arrange the freezer?” Jinx inquired. “I am sure that, given a little attention, I can organize the frozen foods in such a way that would allow ample room for....”

“No, no, no,” Tara said. “I think Dawn means that you can have some, if you want.”

“I thought this ritual was for female minions only?” Jinx asked. “I would not want to commit a sacrilege against your....”

“It’s fine,” Dawn said. “Isn’t it, Willow?”

“Sure,” Willow replied, deciding to accept Willow and Tara’s new rapport with Jinx until she could get an explanation. “Help yourself. I mean, if you want. I know demons can have some...unusual tastes. Do you like ice cream?”

“I...I really don’t know,” Jinx said. “I’ve never had it before.”

“You’ve NEVER had ice cream?” Dawn gasped. “Oh my god, you’ve got to try the caramel fudge. It’s fantabulous!”

Jinx looked at the faces of the ladies, found their expressions full of inviting approval, then walked up to the counter and said:

“Caramel fudge it is.”


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