Dwarf Bread

PAIRING: Ensemble piece.


FEEDBACK: Very welcome, to Miss Murchison - thanks!

SETTING: This fic is set somewhere during the events of BtVS Season 6 in a happier world where Buffybot was repaired earlier and to better effect. Soon we will be visiting Terry Pratchett's Discowrld, some time after the events of 'Guards! Guards!'

DISCLAIMER: The characters belong to Joss. I'm borrowing, and I promise to put them all back in good condition, and only slightly used.

Chapter One - Here Be Dragons

Buffybot bounced on her toes, poised and ready. She loved kickboxing, it was fun!

Buffy danced a little, shifting left and right. Buffybot echoed her, taped fists held up in front of her chin. There was a blur of yellow and white and Buffybot landed on her ass, with a little oof! Buffy had got her on the chin and stomach again. She shook her head admiringly. Buffy sure was fast. She sprang to her feet, grinning.

"Let's go again!"

There was a chorus of groans from the Scoobies lined up against the wall in the training room.

Anya turned to Xander, who was slumped against the wall, resting against a tackle bag. "How many times do we have to watch The Slayer knock down the tin can, Xander darling? I'm hungry. And very bored. I'm trying to think about sex, but this is very distracting."

Xander sighed; the sight of Buffy getting sweaty and punching stuff was normally a thrill, and he'd expected the sight of two Buffys laying into each other to be doubly so - but even he had to admit this was getting repetitive. It seemed that Dawn, who had chosen to stay on the sofa in the living room on Revello Drive, watching The Simpsons, had been the smart one. "We'll go get a Slurpy soon, hon."

"Ooh," said Willow, "Slurpies." She turned to Tara, who was gazing at Buffybot with a worried expression on her face. "Want a Slurpy, sweetie?"

Tara smiled at her, a bit absently. "Sure. But first I want to make sure Bottie hasn't picked up any dents, or had her gyros knocked out of whack again. Buffy hits Slayer hard, and our little Bot's not as tough as she thinks."

Willow squeezed her arm. "She's tougher than you think, though. And she's got a warranty from Alcoa stamped on her butt to prove it. She looked across at Buffybot, who had just taken a kick to the stomach, and was flat on the canvas again. "She'll be fine." Buffybot bounced upright, and Willow smiled at Tara. "See? Gyros tiptop. For I am a gyro-tuning genius."

Meanwhile, Buffy was shaking her wrists and flexing her fingers. "My knuckles are killing me," she said gloomily, "And my foot. I think I nearly broke a toe that time." She flopped onto a stool, pulled a towel around her neck, and gave Giles a pleading look. "I've put boom boom boomerang girl here down 16 times in a row, and she just flies back ready for more."

Giles nodded. "Which means it's very good endurance training for you. Buffybot can't get tired, or bruised - or even bored of being knocked over apparently." He looked over at Buffybot, who was jogging on the spot, a happy grin plastered on her face.

Buffy nodded, "I know - and it's really de-motivating. I want to actually do some damage when I work this hard." She stretched her sore hand again, just as Spike stepped through the training room door. She brightened; now here was someone worth punching.

"Hi Spike!" cried Buffybot. "I'm learning kickboxing. It's great!"

Spike raised a cynical eyebrow. "Yes. I see you're all having a really great time. But if you could drag yourselves away from the thrill for a minute, I thought you might like to know there's a dragon sitting on the tv relay tower." He looked at Buffy. "And I'd appreciate you killing it sharpish, Slayer, because Match of the Day starts at 9pm, and that big scaly bugger's playing merry hell with the reception."

The Scoobies stood in a row staring up at the tv relay tower. They were standing in a growing crowd. For although the citizens of Sunnydale were conditioned to ignore pretty much anything Otherworldly, or just downright odd as they went about their daily business, a break in television reception was something else. Deprived of American Idol, the good folk of Sunnydale (or the proportion of them too poor to afford cable anyway) had come out into the street in a milling crowd, to chat with their neighbours, eat corn dogs, and bitch about the cheapskates at the tv station.

And, as is the way with milling crowds everywhere, it was attracting more and more people, as a magnet attracts filings. Cars were drawing up, and thermoses and soda cans, some of them even containing soda, were being taken out, as competing theories about the source of the shaking tower were bandied about. Quicksand? a local earthquake? metal fatigue?

Because, strangely, they didn't seem to have noticed the most obvious explanation for the tower's shaking. Which was the huge glittering 100 foot long scaly dragon wrapped around it. The dragon stared down at the crowd with rolling eyes, breathing fire in little irregular gouts from its nostrils, and thrashing its tail back and forth. Its huge obsidian claws were curled around the metal scaffold of the tower, which trembled with the dragon. All in all, as dragons go, it seemed a little nervous.

Buffybot gazed at the dragon, thrilled to the core. A dragon! In Sunnydale! How amazingly lucky. She frowned. But weren't dragon extinct? She wondered where it had come from.

"Is that the same dragon ...?" asked Buffy.

"That came through the rift when you saved Dawn, yes." Giles nodded. "After all, it would be odd if there was another one flying about near Sunnydale, when you think about it."

Buffybot's eyes grew wide. Willow had filled her in on how Buffy had died, and then come back, which had been jolly interesting, and she was glad Dawn got saved as well. But she hadn't mentioned a dragon and surely that was the best bit of the story?

"I wondered where it went." Anya scowled at the huge scaly invader. "I suppose it was too much to hope it would fly off into Oregon and eat their cattle. Or their virgins, one or the other." She turned to her companions. "Dragons like to eat cattle, and human virgins."

"Boy, oh boy, am I grateful I'm not still a virgin," said Xander, looking at the huge claws, and the little gouts of flame coming from the dragon's muzzle. "Even more grateful than usual, that is."

"Hmm, said Giles rubbing his chin, "Well, so myth would have it, but in fact ..."

"Cattle and virgins!" said Anya loudly, cutting Giles off and glaring at him. "I think I can be said to know more about dragons than you, Mr Tweedy McTweed, since I've actually met a few." She stared at the dragon again. "She doesn't look very intimidating, does she? In fact she looks downright scared." She sniffed disparagingly.

Willow coughed. "Um, guys, we're not going to be able to keep this not-noticing spell going much longer." She looked across at Tara, who shook her head, her expression strained. Willow held her hand a little tighter and gazed at the cars drawing up behind them. "And the more people who get here, the harder it's going to be."

"Okay," said Buffy. She glanced at Giles, who was clearly thinking furiously, and equally clearly at a loss so far and then at the huge, multicoloured and undeniably magnificent dragon clinging to the strutwork above them. "Don't worry, Will. I'm sure we'll think of something."