Part Three: He Hates Roses
"I guess this dimension's not all bad," Buffy conceded as she continued to wander down the tunnel. "I mean, sure I'm up to my hips in water... but at least it's clean water for once, and I kinda like all these seahorses," she remarked, noting the vast numbers of the creatures swimming around her.
"Oh, and we like you too, dear," a nearby seahorse concurred in a strangely matronly tone. "You're simply lovely."
"Um, thank," Buffy said. "Hey, do you know the way out of this universe... or possibly where to find the Sword of Dentifrice?"
"Can't say as I have," the seahorse admitted. "We live a quiet life here in this tunnel," she explained in her antique-shop-owner-quaint tone, "we're born in here, find a male here, get him pregnant here, and raise a school of children here."
"Sounds nice," Buffy offered.
"Oh, it's lovely," the seahorse replied. "Mind you, you have to watch out for the Griffox."
Buffy raised an eyebrow. "Griffox?"
"Oh, it's a horrible creature," the seahorse said, wringing her tail and wrinkling her snout in distaste. "Lingers about in the dark, not at all sociable... does simply dreadful things to young girls like you."
"Great," Buffy sighed, seemed like it was about time for her to fight some unknowable horror. "How do I fight this thing? What do you really know about it?"
But the seahorse didn't answer, she was too busy disciplining one of her children for trying to swim up Buffy's pantleg. "Now, Timothy, I told you not to behave like that. This nice young lady deserves her privacy and there youare, swimming at her like that..." the mother seahorse looked back up at her. "Terribly sorry about this, dear."
Buffy shrugged. "Happens all the time. Now, about this Griffox."
"Oh, you don't want to might him, ghastly fellow," the mother seahorse dismissed. "Why don't you come inside. I'll make you some tea."
Buffy smiled politely. "You know, I'd really like to, but I've been in this dimension almost an hour and nothing's tried to kill me yet, so..."
The seahorse took this with polite good-humor. "Well, perhaps if you survive, we'll have tea later."
"Absolutely," Buffy agreed.
Once again, Xander Harris found himself cursing the immortal gods of irony. He had finally found himself in Buffy's house with the exact kind of injuries that lent themselves to be waited on hand and foot, and Buffy was in a whole other dimension.
Worse still, with Giles and Willow unavailable and Anya refusing to answer his calls, it was falling on him and Dawn to find Buffy and bring her back. He couldn't even take the time to acknowledge the pain, he told himself, he had to quietly soldier on.
Of course, he was monumentally bad at soldiering on, quietly or otherwise.
"Xander, would you stop whining for one minute?" Dawn hissed in utter exasperation. "This book reads like an SAT prepbook and it's in Mongolian, so I really need to concentrate."
Xander knew she was right, Dawn and her amazing knack for learning foreign languages by mail was there only hope of finding Buffy. But knowing that didn't change the fact that he felt like his arm had been driven through his spleen.
He let out another scream, wondering once again why his role in the battle against the dark forces had to be "collateral damage."
After nearly an hour of splushing through the tunnel, Buffy could tell she was getting close to the Griffox. All the seahorses had vanished some time ago, the lights (which Buffy could find no source for, but which seemed oddly flourescent) had begun to flicker on and off, and there was a consistent, sound of otherworldly howling floating horribly through the air, so it was more than a little obvious. "Gee, some people never get sick of cliches," Buffy thought out loud.
Then, slowly, but deliberately, the dark, lumbering form of Griffox began moving towards her, swinging his ancient, rusted chain slowly.
"Look," Buffy broke in, "I'm sure you're very scary and everything... the seahorses are sure scared of you... but I don't really have time for this right now. I've kind of got another dimension to be in," she confided.
The Griffox kept nearing closer and closer. His kunai clinking menacingly against its chain.
"Fine," Buffy sighed, "I was hoping to save us both a little time and effort, but..."
The Griffox growled in undisguised aggression and poised itself to strike...
...Only to have Buffy knock his head off with her bare hands.
"And now I can sleep easy, knowing I saved an entire nation of English seahorses," Buffy remarked.
And with that, she kept right on walking, further into the belly of the whale.