The Wrong Path Traveled

Summary: When faced with the reality of a choice they made, Buffy and friends really regret it. I mean, really, really, really regret it. Pretty much a crackfic with a hint of drama.

Challenge: not really, other than wanting to completely save Fred, not just her soul.

Timeline: season 5:15 'A Hole in the World' AtS, which means post-series for BtVS.

Warning: it's a crackfic; don't take it too seriously, people.

Thanks to my betas: chatted with JacobPhoenix and AshDawnSoulmates about it.

Disclaimer: BtVS and AtS characters belong to Joss Whedon / Mutant Enemy. I claim no rights to any copyrighted material. Please do not copy or take this story without my permission.

Wes' office

It had only been a few minutes since Angel and Spike left to check out the Deeper Well when Wes found a demon who specialized in various challenges to save people. Depending on how bad the demon wanted to make the Champion suffer, the harder the challenges would be. One trick was that it had to be a human Champion – which meant that Angel and Spike wouldn't be able to answer it like Angel did with Darla.

He knew that Andrew told Angel that Buffy didn't trust them anymore, but he had to believe she wouldn't let them die…especially somebody as good as Fred. With that in mind, he called Giles, begged him for Buffy's number and stated his case to her directly.

When she said yes immediately, he breathed a huge sigh of relief. It wasn't that he didn't want to take the challenge, but a Slayer would likely have a better chance of succeeding, and he wanted the best chance of saving Fred, his own pride be damned.

Wes told her the demon they were searching for was under the Trevi Fountain in Rome, so he would meet her there. He was surprised to learn she was living in Rome, so she'd meet him at the airport.

Unknown, underground maze

Andrew insisted on coming with them to find the demon, saying that he was Buffy's local Watcher, and in the New Council, a Slayer never went anywhere without her Watcher. What he didn't say was that he was also there because Giles was the tiniest bit concerned that this was some sort of a trap to kill Buffy or hold her hostage. The question they weren't sure about was if Wes had been corrupted into joining the other side or not.

If something did go wrong, Andrew was to snap his emergency amulet immediately, and the Coven would teleport a squad of armed Slayers to his location and another one to the doors of Wolfram & Hart to take out Angel's team.

They met with the demon and after Wes explained the request, the demon pointed to three doors, saying they had a choice to make. Behind door number one was a path at the base of a volcano in the process of erupting; door number three was a horde of der Kindestod – the demon Buffy fought when she was delirious with fever; he refused to tell them about door number two, though.

Knowing they'd never survive the volcano, they considered the feasibility of facing more than one demon they couldn't even see. To make matters worse, the challenge demon told them that anyone who entered the challenge arena – where they were now standing – would have to survive to the other side or they would lose.

That actually made the decision easier to make, ironically enough. Buffy may have been able to get past the der Kindestod by herself, but not if she had to protect Wes and Andrew at the same time. All they could hope was that the last option wasn't even worse.

When they told him they were choosing door number two, none of them were comforted by the excited grin he had on his face.

It wasn't until the door had slammed behind them and they walked ten feet into the darkness of the tunnels that they saw a light rising from the floor. The odd thing about it was that it looked like a sun with a baby's face in the center. The little cutie started giggling at them.

"Okaaaay," Buffy drawled warily. "Either we made the right choice or something really freaky is going on here." She took another step towards the baby-sun-face thing and the giggling suddenly stopped.

A demonic voice bellowed from the baby's mouth, "You shall not pass!"

Visibly shuddering, Buffy quipped, "Yup, that's more along the lines of what I was expecting. Any-"

Before she could finish her question, they heard a voice come out of nowhere, yet all around them, announcing, "Over the hills and far away, Teletubbies come to play!"

On their right, a purple thing with a screen on its stomach and an upside-down triangle on its head popped out, calling, "One!"

On their left, the same thing happened with a similar green creature with a dipstick coming out of its head yelling, "Two!"

In front of them, a red creature with one of those bubble-blowing wands on its head and cheering, "Three!"

And finally, behind them came a yellow one came out with a curly thing in the same place as the other three, and it was giggling, "Four!"

Then they all waved at Wes, Andrew and Buffy as a noise – which sounded like somebody farting for a very long time – filled the area.

When a feminine voice announced, "Time for Teletubbies, time for Teletubbies!" the weird creatures started dancing around the trio, making sure they were surrounded at all times.

The purple one sorta stepped forward a bit and repeated in a sing-song voice after another male announcer, "Tinky Winky."

Next came the green one repeating, "Dipsy."

Even though they were expecting the red one next, the yellow one stepped forward, "Laa-Laa."

And the last one was, "Po."

Then they all sang, "Teletubbies, Teletubbies…say hell-llo!"

At that point, the creatures got right up in their faces and said, "Eh-oh."

As Buffy and Wes' eyes widened in horror, the song started all over again, except this time, at the end, the creatures declared, "Big hug!" and started to come towards them with their arms outstretched.

Buffy quipped softly, "I'd like to change my mind and go fight the fever demons."

"Wait!" Andrew cried. "I remember these things now! You get them to stop what they're doing by calling 'Time for Tubby bye-bye! Time for Tubby bye-bye! Time for Tubby bye-bye!'" he shouted loudly.

Amazingly, the creatures stopped in their tracks and started pouting, muttering, 'no' petulantly yet with giggly voices.

Relieved that he was right about the creatures, Andrew continued, "Next you have to say 'bye-bye' to each of them by name."

Seemed like an odd way to defeat the enemy, but Wes was willing to give it a shot, "Bye-bye, Tinky Winky." The purple one disappeared, so Wes did the same with the other three.

There was giggling, then the creatures popped back out and cried, "Boo!"

Wes glared at Andrew, who stepped back in alarm. "Oh, that's right. You have to repeat it again in a stern voice because they're very stupid. But they will leave without fighting us," he promised, crossing his fingers that he was correct.

This time, Buffy said the bye-byes, using her darkest Slayer voice. They jumped into a hole in the floor, which seemed to cause the baby's face to set into the floor again.

It cried out before it vanished, "You won this time, but next time I'll make you face an even scarier creature!"

When the light disappeared, a door opened at the other end of the tunnel with enough light streaming through so they could see where they were walking.

Once they emerged, the trio was faced with the challenge demon again. "So you made it," he remarked, breathing a silent sigh of relief. Only a fool would want Old Ones set free on the earth again, and he wasn't a fool. "Now, it was predestined that Illyria would rise again. The God-King has to have a living vessel."

Remembering how picky prophecies were from her sophomore year, Buffy asked, "Does the vessel have to be a human?"

The challenge demon couldn't stop himself from smiling at the Slayer's ingenuity. Fortunately, his kind smiled on the back of their head, so it wasn't visible to his guests. "No," he confirmed, "Just a living animal at least one stone's weight."

Wes saw the confusion on his companion's faces and explained, "About 14 pounds."

Buffy thought for a second, then suggested, "Okay, how 'bout a Siamese housecat then?"

"It would be pretty heavy for a housecat," Andrew warned.

"And we care…why?" Buffy retorted. Hell, the heavier this thing was, the less chance it could cause problems, right? As long as it was small otherwise. That's why she said housecat, not just Siamese cat. Having listened to Anya for so long taught her to be careful what she said in a situation like this.

'Perfect!' the challenge demon thought to himself. 'Even if Illyria wanted to resume his kingdom, he would be unable to.' For added insult, he made the cat a spayed and declawed female. Aloud he said, "Illyria will be waiting for you when you return."

"That's pretty cool, right, Wes?" Buffy asked. Then she pouted and complained, "I didn't even get to use my pretty Scythe. Hey, think Clem would like a pet?"

A/N: See, I can save Fred completely if Buffy finds out before she's dead!

Additional Disclaimer: Teletubbies belong to Anne Wood, Andrew Davenport and Ragdoll Productions.