Author's Note: Another story from phouka's 'Haven and Home' world. Set after Chapter 4 of that story. All characters created by phouka are the property of that author. This author wishes to thank phouka for her gracious permission to continue to set my own stories in her world.
Baxter the rabbit spent the next day dozing off in his cage. Everyone in the house, including his owner, thought that the little mammal was recovering from his exhausting time yesterday of being chased by a werewolf and a half-dozen Slayers.
This was quite incorrect.
He was not just resting. He was waiting.
In the middle of a dream of a world covered with lettuce, a cheerful voice spoke to Baxter, in a tone of purest Flatbush.
In the rabbit hutch, a small body in deepest slumber stiffened, and then relaxed in absolute submission, as proper deference was paid to the Supreme Coney, and the next step of the ceremony was now carried out.
Crunch, crunch, crunch.
After that swallow, the voice spoke again, this time with warm praise.
"Listen, ya did good yesterday. Couldn't have done it better myself. That move ya did about a third into the whole time, when ya pretended to freeze in fright and the werewolf jumped at ya and the blonde gal dove to rescue ya, and then ya hopped sideways, so they collided in mid-air, head first, that was a classic! The sound of the 'clonk!' of their skulls meeting, that was the equal of anything Termite Terrace coulda come up with!"
In his sleep, Baxter shivered in pure ecstasy at the congratulations. But it didn't end there, as the chuckling voice went on. "Plus, even Bob and Chuck woulda loved how ya did the topper, when ya got outta there, ya made sure to bounce onto both of their faces along the way. A masterpiece, kid!"
Baxter knew nothing else in his life would ever surpass this. As he basked in glory, the other's voice remained silent, to let the small animal enjoy it all. Of course, all things had to come to an end, as the Big Rabbit finally spoke again, this time more seriously.
"Look, kid, I came here, not just to tell ya that ya did a great job, but also to tell ya two more things. Ya haveta keep it up, lookin' after ya pack. Yeah, those humans and even that werewolf, they think they're the only ones with packs. Well, nope. Uh-huh. Us rabbits, we got packs, too. And right now, alla them in this house, includin' the Little Lady, they're your pack. Ya keep 'em safe, ya fight for 'em, and ya never forget the most important thing of 'em all."
In the cage, a small rabbit listened in utmost concentration to the voice in his dream.
"Ya remember, forever, just like the guy in the eyepatch, who I really respect, that no matter whatever happens: always, always, have….fun."
Right after that, the door to the room burst open, and Lucy bustled into her quarters, carrying a small bowl of fresh water. She abruptly came to a dead stop in the middle of the room, and then she spent a frantic few seconds trying not to let the water slop out of the bowl. The dryad really disliked messes in her house. Finally, after she'd managed not to spill anything, an astonished Lucy could now divert her attention back to the hutch, where a sleepy Baxter was yawning at her.
The young Slayer wasn't looking at her rabbit, but instead at what was now resting on top of the little animal's cage. Absolute bewilderment on her face, Lucy walked over to the cage, and bent down to put the water bowl inside it, absently petting Baxter as the girl stared at close range at the strange object that had been placed on top of the rabbit's home. Hesitantly, Lucy moved away her hand from her pet and carefully picked up the thing that she'd certainly hadn't put there, straightening up and looking with utter puzzlement at what she was holding.
While the dryad could control her house absolutely, to move and add things to all rooms, from major furnishings to small objects d'art, Lucy knew that all of these items were from the last time period the little tree-nymph had been awake, about a century ago. From then on, the magical creature had been sleeping ever since her last guardian had died, until Xander had come along to take up the position.
Which meant the dryad had missed all of American popular culture of the entire twentieth century. In consequence, there was no possible way she could have created and put in Lucy's room, on top of Baxter's cage, a small, six-inch, perfectly formed clay statue of Bugs Bunny.
Lucy turned over in her hands the exact replica of the classic Warner Brothers cartoon character, a wide grin slowly breaking out on her face. Bringing up the figurine to eye-level, the Slayer started chuckling as she delightedly noticed all the details of the little statue: the accurate colors painted on it, including the bright orange carrot casually being held in one four-fingered white hand, with the cartoon rabbit standing nonchalantly in a lanky Chuck Jones posture on top of the statue's base, and the expression of calm confidence shown among bristling whiskers, buck teeth, and wide eyes.
As Lucy stared directly into the face of her favorite cartoon character, the thrilled girl noticed how, as she turned the statue in her hands, the features of Bugs Bunny managed to change, shifting to show happiness, mischief, and lastly, the merest glint deep in the eyes of the greatest Lepus Animatus of them all, warning that if pushed too far, the message of total doom would be spoken: "Of course you realize….this means war!"
The young woman now burst into shrieks of laughter, dancing around the room and waving her hand in broad sweeps, delightedly displaying the Bugs Bunny statue to Baxter now watching in composed-bunny relaxation from his cage at his joyous owner, the twitching nose of that rabbit and a flick of his ear the only notice the animal gave over the girl's happiness.
Lucy disregarded this, finally coming to a stop in the middle of the room, as she chortled, "Oh, Xander had to be the one to do this! I'm going to tell him I love it!" She beamed at what she was holding in her hand, saying right into the face of the small statue, "You're so wonderful!"
A few moments later, a dazed Lucy walked out of her room, one hand carefully closing the door behind her, and then bringing this hand back in front to help hold Baxter snuggling in her arms. The bunny himself was at that exact moment managing an actual smirk on its lepusical features, while his owner's blank face was maintained during walking down the house corridor until she stood at the head of the stairs leading down.
Then, the Slayer's face became firm, as she clearly made a decision, only then lifting up her arms to bestow a kiss on top of Baxter's head and then lowering him. As Lucy began going down the stairs, her steady stride indicating that she was satisfied with her resolution to never, ever, tell anyone what had happened just a minute ago.
Of how right after she'd paid her joyful compliment to the small statue of the cartoon character in her hand, the figurine itself had actually come to life, moving and shifting its small limbs, its face clearly looking right at and noticing her, as Bugs Bunny grinned, winked at her, brought up the hand holding a carrot in salute, and a cheeky voice spoke directly into her brain.
*You're not so bad yourself, kid.*
Lucy kept going down the stairs, absently petting Baxter, as both thought about what they'd been through today, with their newest possession carefully put away, and that it would never be spoken about.
Some things are best kept secret between a girl and her pet bunny.