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TRIALS & TRIBBLELATIONS Part One He could still hear that confounded humming even with huge pillows wrapped around his head. Even ten pounds of goose feathers could not drown out the racket that they were making. This being a good guy gig had not worked out quite as he had planned. As if *that* was anything new. So, she had asked him to watch those two furry things until the Scoobies could research some more and figure out what they were and what to do about them. I mean, they seemed harmless enough. But, of course, nothing that appears over the Hellmouth is ever as harmless as it seems. So, again, they ask the "Big Bad’, well, okay, formerly-bad-now-just-a-littlenaughty, to take them home and keep and eye on them until they can come up with something. So, off he went with those strange, round, furry ‘things’ in a box, to wait........ "So anything yet Will?" Buffy asked fo the fifth time, getting a bit impatient with Willow’s non-magical research techniques. "Nothing yet. Hey! You want information right? It takes time! Do you know how many ‘things’ came up when I typed ‘fuzzy humming creatures’ into the search engine?" Willow grumbled as she continued paging through all the sites that appeared on the screen, clicking each one that that seemed even remotely possible. "Well, I still say they are cute, and they seem so innocent to me, all with the soft fuzzy outside and the little noises. Like hamsters or guinea pigs, only without faces." Dawn said as she sat trying to peek over Willow’s shoulder. "Besides we really *should* have a pet. All those studies, like the ones they teach us about in school, say that people with pets live healthier, longer lives. And ya gotta admit, around here that would sure be a plus." Xander came walking into the room with a bag of chips in one hand and a soda in the other, talking with his mouthful. "So, what’d ya think these things are? Are they carnivores? Or maybe they don’t eat. Hey, that would be something new around here. Something that doesn’t eat people! Nah, how likely is that?" He paused for a second, munching another handful of chips. "But, I say, maybe they are tasty. How about we toss one into the oven with a little Bar-B-Que sauce and see what happens. Who's with me?" The three girls just groaned in frustration and went back to looking at the computer screen, and leafing through the stack of old books scattered across the dining room table. Xander shoved another handful of chips into his mouth and headed for the couch. "Hey...reruns of Twilight Zone coming on in ten minutes....very cool," he commented, picking up the remote and testing the volume control. "I think I’ll go back to Spike’s and see how things are going over there. Will, call me when you get something okay? We need to figure this out and soon. It’s not like we don’t have enough to worry about with the Apocolypse scheduled for a week from Tuesday, I’ve got my hands full as it is," Buffy said, putting on her coat and closing the front door.

Part Two

Spike sat up, tossing the covers aside onto the floor. It was then that he noticed the floor seemed to actually be moving! "I’m still asleep. Must be dreamin’ is all," he grumbled as he made his way to the edge of the old iron bed. Draping his legs over the side and putting his feet down, he could feel a draft run over his back. He’d forgotten it was winter and he also forgot to wear his blue jammies. The ones ‘she’ had given him for Christmas. He was expecting to feel the cold, hard stone of the floor. Instead, his toes were touching something warm and soft. A cushiony sensation that was not all together unpleasant. "What in the bloody hell?" He looked down to see a carpet of moving fur balls. From wall to wall, they covered every square inch. It was just then that he realized the sound had become even louder, almost deafening. He assumed his ears had adjusted to the volume while he slept. "Listen you buggers. Either you stop that infernal *purring* or I’ll be wagering the whole lot of you at the next poker game, and I *will* lose, even if I have to bluff my way into it. So, if you don’t want to go the way of the poor little kitties, you’d better shut your bleeding cakeholes now!"

Just then, he heard a pounding on the door. "Spike, it’s me!" Buffy’s voice came from outside the door. She tried to work the latch, but it wouldn’t budge. "Hey, are you in there? What *is* that humming sound? Everything okay in there? Don’t tell me you actually bought a vacuum cleaner? It’s about time you cleaned up the place," she called, not loud enough to be heard above the humming, as she struggled once more with the door handle, unable to open it. "Oh, I’m fine Pet. Of course, I think there might be a little something you forgot to tell me about my houseguests." Spike shouted loud enough for her to hear him above the droning and through the old door. Buffy decided enough of the waitng, and gave the door a good kick, expecting it to just fall down as it always does. But, the door did not go down. Hmmmmmmmmm, maybe a more subtle approach? She decided to just shove it open instead. Putting all her weight into it, she managed to open the door just an inch or so. Someone or something was in the way. "What the...? Spike, what is going on in there? Now, stop playing games and open this!" She hollered, getting more frustrated every minute. "I’d love to Pet, but it seems I’m sort of stuck here in the bed. And no, not in a good way. So just get that lovely picture out of your head and come in here and rescue me already." "Rescue...from what? What is going on?" Buffy asked as she gave the door one more solid push. Part Three "I think they are mutant bunnies. Yes, they’re mutants with no ears, no tails, not even the wiggly pink noses. Very clever disguise. No one would ever suspect them. I *told* you bunnies are evil. See!" Anya remarked as she began scratching imaginary itches all over her body. "They aren’t bunnies Anya. We don’t know what they are, but they’re not bunnies. That much we do know. Unless, of course, maybe they are like alien space bunnies. That is always a possibility. Yes, alien space bunnies, here to terrorize the earth and force us to give them our entire carrot crop this season. Oh yeah, they’re space alien bunnies alright," Xander said gushed, giving Anya ‘that look’ as if to say, you are such an idiot. Adorable and sexy, but still an idiot. "Now get off that coffee table before you break it. The legs have been glued back on so many times that I doubt I could repair it again. Even with my superior carpentry skills." Xander continued. "Oh Harris, get over yourself already will you?" Anya chirped as she hopped off the table and onto the couch, not wanting to risk the floor. There could be more of those fuzzy things hidden under there, just waiting to nibble on her delicate little ankles. "I say we should keep them. Why can’t I have pets anyway? Mom would have let me keep at least one of them," Dawn whined as she finished making the last peanut butter and jelly sandwich, placing it atop a mountian of others already on the plate. "Anyone hungry?" She yelled into the other room, as she picked up the plate and went to join the others. Just then a small yelp came from the dining room. "Hey, you guys! I think I’ve got something here. Look! I think we’ve got big troubles...I mean, make that ‘Tribbles’. That’s what they are! They’re Tribbles." "It says here...Tribbles: extra-terrestrial creatures, popularized by the 60’s television show Star Trek. Fictional characters noted for their fuzzy exterior and purr-like vocalizations. Basically considered harmless to humans, but advise extreme caution. Tribbles must, under all circumstances, be kept ‘solitary’. That is, never housed with one or more other of their species. If allowed to ‘mingle’ they will propogate at an alarming rate. They have been known to suffocate using only their sheer numbers to prevent oxygen from reaching the lungs of their victims. Many have perished having been caught off guard, believing Tribbles to be harmless as the everyday house cat. Geez, what a way to go? Talk about having a hairball stuck in your throat. Can I just say ewwww, with a side of gross!" Willow rambled, reading from the screen in front of her. "So, what does it say Will? What do we do to stop them?" Xander asked, swallowing the last mouthful of chips and crunching up the empty bag, tossing it into the trash from halfway across the room.. "Ah...two points, yea!" He turned back to the women, who were still staring into the computer as if expecting it spit out the answers to the meaning of life itself. "Again, I’m asking. How do we get rid of these pesky little guys? Staking? Beheading? No, must have heads for that one. Maybe sunlight? Oh, please tell me they shrivel up into raisin-sized bits and we can just sweep them up into a Hefty Bag and put it out with the trash."

Part Four "Buffy, what’s taking so long, Love? Don’t tell me Slayer’s afraid of these oversized powder puffs. Thought by now you’d have cleaned house and sent them on their way. Back to wherever it is they come from," Spike said taunted as he brushed two more of them from his bedside table. They seemed to be everywhere now. Working their way into every nook and cranny. "Speaking of fraidy cats Mr.'I’m the Big Bad'. How come you are still sitting on that bed with your feet up and swatting the little fellas with that pillow there? How come you haven’t just walked right into the fray and shown them the ‘way out’?" Buffy shot back trying to goad him into action. "Well, that’s a good question now, innit? Seems I forgot to wear my lovely blue jammies to bed last night and so, I appear to be quite naked at the moment. And I don’t fancy trying to round up the lot of these little beasties in the raw. I mean, how do we know they don’t bite? And, there are parts of me that I’d rather not test that theory on, just in case they are a bit ‘peckish’. I should think you could see my point I right?" "Buffy put her hand to her face, trying to hide the onset of a big grin. "Okay then," she said, straightening her coat and trying to compose herself. "What do you think we should do? That is after I toss you something to protect you from these obviously vicious killers! After inching the door open just a bit more, she could finally squeeze through the very tight opening into the room. The sight of this room full of ‘things’. Things that appeared to be gravitating in Spike’s direction now. Slowly, with a rolling motion, like the beginnings of a huge wave. Grabbing his pants from the nearby chair where he’d thrown them the night before and shaping them into a football. How many points if I manage to get them to you on the first shot?" She said joked, taunting him as he sat there, naked, cold, and trapped. Surrounded by the ‘enemy’. It was enough to make her sides hurt from the laughing, but she knew that it was never wise to underestimate the visitors to the Hellmouth. Part Five “Hey you guys, I think we should warn Buffy and Spike ..and quickly. before theose things have a chance to ‘get friendly’. I know Buffy only left two of them with SPike last night, but who knows how many there are today, and could be tomorro, and the day after that, and...” the words shooting out of WIllow’s mouth so fast she couldn’t even take a breath. “Hold on...calm down Wil. SUppose they little guys, I mean girls...guys and girls..whatever....did decide to get busy. Just how fast do you think they could multiple anyway in only 24 hours? How many do you think we’d have by now, what maybe ten, maybe 12......and I’m pretty sure that between the two of them, Buffy and Spike can handle a dozen of those little moppets without even breaking a sweat.” Xander said, using his most ‘sure of himself’ voice. “Well, I say we jsut give ‘em the darned carrots adn send them on their way. I mean who needs millions of those annoying small creatures lurking about under every sofa and bed in Sunnydale anyway. I’ll tell you one thing, if I were still in the vengeance demon biz, I’d have gotten rid of the first two before they even had a chance to twitch the invisible little whiskers.” Anya huffed, crossing her arms over her chest and making her usual pouty face. “Well, I still say they aren’t dangerous, even if they do make with the super bunnie love and multiply by the hundreds. I’m sure they mean no harm, they’re just doing what comes naturally, right. And who are we to interfere with their ‘instincts’ anyway. Besides if anyone should understand their ‘passion’ it wouldbe you two, right!”Dawn said, as she shot a look of disgust toward Xander and Anya, then letting out an ‘argh’ sound, and flopping into the armchair. “Uh...guys.....I hate to interrupt, but I think there is something else here, and it might be kind of important.” Willow said, comng into the livingroom with papers in her hand. “ Look, I just printed this from that site..the one about the Tribbles. It’s kind of long and involved, and not very interesting actually. That is, until you get to the last part. The part that explains how and why the Tribbles are here in Sunnydale. Is anyone in this room even remotely interested in this or should we just go out for Chinese? All this ‘looking’ has made me kinda hungry.”

Part 6 “Nicely done Pet. Now my pants are are wrinkled ‘and’ covered in furry..uhmm...fur.” Spike said with a smirk as he unravelled the pants and attempted to put them on. Not an easy task when standing barefoot, on one leg, in a sea of beasties. But he gave it his best effort. “Not my fault you can’t catch worth a dran now is it SPikey. Seems to me you might want to think about practicing a little

quarterback action with Xander next time he offers you a game. Never know when that sort of talent could come in now! Besides, sooner you get dressed, the sooner we can figure out how to persuade this little guys to vacate the premises and you can go back to whatever it is you do duirng the day. That is, whatever you do after Passions and Kitten Poker. “I should think you’d want these too right. Never know, the furries might have a real foot fetish. And if memory serves, your toes are kind ‘appealing’ in a feet are funny looking but yours aren’t so bad kind of way. Buffy teased him, holding his Doc Martins up in the air, as if to offer them up in some kind of trade. “ Uh are the one with the tasty toes, remember......he said lowering his chin and peering up at her from beneath a crooked eyebrow. Now give me the shoes and lets get on with it. This noise is driving me wonky and if it doesn’t stop soon I’m not going to be responsible for what might happen. It might even set off that chip. Never know, frequency could be just the thing to flip the switch. And I rally do not need an even bigger headache right now. So, be a nice girl now and throw them over her, nice and easy. I’m no Joe Namath.” He said, raising both hands above his head in anticipation. “Joe Who?” Buffy replied, giving the shoes a strong toss. A truely puzzled look on her face.


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