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The Perils of Hunting Leporidae-Chiroptera-Vampirus

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“You know,” Jack said, shifting to get as comfortable as possible considering their current predicament, “you could just call Tony.”

Amy glared up at him from where she was valiantly trying to dial her cell with her hands trapped at her side. So far she’d managed to retrieve the phone from her pocket, (Jack had enjoyed the wiggling involved in that),  gotten the phone flipped open and was stabbing a wine-red lacquered nail – completed with black rose appliques – at the buttons.

“I am not,” she punctuated the words with jabs at the numbers, “going to bother Tony.” Another jab. “He and Lee,” jab, “haven’t had time alone together in months.”  Double-jab. “Zev is perfectly capable,” jab, “of getting us out of this.”

‘This’ was a situation that Jack could quite fairly say that Amy had gotten them into.  The blame couldn’t be entirely laid at her feet, however, because he’d offered to help her out.  Just acknowledging that something might have been going on was all the encouragement that Amy needed.

To be fair – to himself – he hadn’t actually expected her ‘investigation’ to amount to anything.  “They’ve got puncture wounds in their neck, Jack,” she’d said. “I think something is biting them and drinking their blood. I want to find out what it is.”  No one said ‘vampire’ but he knew that’s what she’d been thinking. 

Much as he knew he’d kick himself for getting involved, there was just something about the word ‘vampire’ that piqued Jack’s interest. He never could put a finger on what it was, though.

When she’d first presented the idea of trying to figure out what was responsible for the exsanguinations, he immediately tried the tactic of getting her to call Tony.  The Wizard (and didn’t that name just sum it all up) was their resident weirdo-expert after all.  

Amy had flat out refused. 

Apparently Lee had just gotten back from filming some SyFy movie-of-the-week and he and Tony hadn’t been alone together in almost two months.  Amy was nothing if not a sucker for their ‘big-gay-romance’ (as she called it). Jack had snorted.  Sure, his night with his girlfriend had to be ruined by vampire hunting, but goodness forbid they interrupt Tony and Lee getting it on.

Jack also suspected that Amy just wanted to solve one of these freaky, supernatural type cases on her own. She’d pitched a fit when Zev had stumbled on a cult of demon-worshipers at his synagogue who were bent on summoning their very own demon into the world (although said demon turned out to be a very minor one that had gotten one look at Tony, sworn in heavily accented French, and popped right back into its’ own dimension), and fumed over the fact that the one day she was out sick with a virulent case of food-poisoning, the crew at the Studio – led by a broom wielding Sorge - had tackled an invasion of talking shrimp.

What Amy had not made clear, until Jack had already volunteered his assistance (and cancelled their hard-to-get dinner reservations at Lupo Restaurant and Vinotec) was the fact that the puncture wounds she was so concerned about? Were on squirrels.  And raccoons, and bunnies, and one particularly phlegmatic Chihuahua.  When he found that out, Jack had to admit he couldn’t blame Amy for punching him in the arm. He had been laughing pretty hard, after all.

Despite how funny he’d found the whole thing, they still spent the better part of an evening tracking sluggish forest creatures – whatever bit them may have drank their blood, but it didn’t drain them dry – to John Hendry Park.  Whatever had been doing the draining was definitely leaving an easy trail to follow, which didn’t give Jack the best feeling about all of this. Particularly when the trail led further and further into the woods.

Jack had been about to insist (for the fourth time – because Amy could be quite persuasive when she wanted to be) that they call it a night and just go back to his place and get some take-out, when something dropped out of the trees and landed on his back.

He would deny to his dying day that he’d shrieked, but he’d challenge the toughest guy he knew on the force not to react like that when something weird and fuzzy leaped out of a tree onto them.  Especially when it then proceeded to bite him on the neck!  A wildly swung arm (because yes, he was flailing a bit, and maybe yelling, “Get it off me!” at the top of his lungs) caught the creature before the teeth could actually puncture skin, and knocked it to the ground.

Amy advanced on it with a wooden stake (which she’d probably stolen from the prop department – at least Jack had hoped so) and then stopped in her tracks. “Oh my goddess, Jack,” she’d hissed. “It’s so cute!”

He hadn’t exactly been hiding behind Amy, but he did have to sort of lean around her to see the thing. And, though he wouldn’t admit it even upon threat of vile torture, the thing was kind of on the cute side. It looked rather like a bat-winged bunny rabbit.  “Oh for the love of God,” he’d remarked, “I just got attacked by Bunnicula.”  Amy’d side-eyed him at the reference and he frowned. How could she not know that story?

“So what the hell is it?” he’d asked.

Amy, for all her supposed other-worldly knowledge, just shrugged. “No idea.”

“What should we do with it?”

And wasn’t that a stupid question to have asked.  Because Amy had – of course – answered with, “Try to catch it, I suppose. We can’t let it go around sucking the blood of innocent animals.”

Jack had been all for letting it do its bloodsucking thing.  Really, except for the Chihuahua, it really hadn’t done much harm (and the Chihuahua was fine, just kind of freaked out). “Um, I don’t think that’s such a good idea.” He’d gotten a vibe. Just a small one, but a vibe nonetheless, that this little sweet and innocent creature wasn’t something they should be messing with.

Hindsight being 20/20, Jack knew he should’ve pushed a little harder on that argument. 

“Throw your coat over it,” Amy had insisted, blatantly ignoring his protest.

“Why me?” he’d asked.  And then looked at Amy in her faux-feather-lined, pleather half-bomber over corseted blouse and skirt-leggings combo, and answered that question for himself.

So he’d crept towards the thing, taken off his nice, expensive, distressed-leather blazer and tossed it over the bunny-bat-whatever.

Which the bunny-bat-whatever hadn’t appreciated very much, if the screeching and spitting of foamy mucus were interpreted correctly. The creature darted away from Jack’s coat before he could wrangle it, spewed a whole bunch of its spittle on him, and then on Amy, and then hustled up the nearest tree.  Where it continued to screech and rain foamy drops of rage upon them.

Amy decided it was about the funniest thing she’d ever seen and collapsed to the ground, hands clenched over her belly, laughing.  Jack, after deciding that a Mountie probably didn’t want felony murder charges leveled against him (justified though they might be) went to retrieve his – probably ruined – jacket and then slumped down against a tree.

They really didn’t notice anything was wrong until Amy tried to get up. 

“Uh, Jack,” she’d said, still hiccupping a giggle or two. “I uh, can’t move.”

Caught somewhere between annoyance and amusement, Jack had simply frowned and said, “Huh?”

“Um, I really can’t move my hands. They’re stuck to my body.”

Jack had tried to stand up and found that wherever the bat-bunny’s spit had landed was now stuck fast.  His back was essentially glued to the tree and his arm was stuck to his own leg. The other arm was free from about the elbow up.  He could kick out a leg, but that didn’t do him much good either. It was worse than the time he’d gotten his ass super-glued to the toilet (Mounties had a very juvenile sense of humor sometimes). 

“Well, shit.” He’d said. Because what else could he say to something like that, really?

“Oh!” Amy, who’d been struggling somewhat uselessly to get her hands away from her midriff and get to a sitting position at the same time, exclaimed, “I think I can reach my phone.”

“Who’re you gonna call,” he asked, fully expecting her answer to be Tony.

When she’d answered, “Zev,” he’d done a double take.

So there they were.  He was stuck to a tree, and Amy was on her butt on the ground, hands down by her hip and head tucked down like she was preparing for a plane crash as she tried to talk into a phone she couldn’t lift to her ear -a rather contorted position that looked funny now, but would probably cramp the hell out of her back if she stayed like that for too long.

Jack listened as she had a conversation with the music director.  And didn’t that say all kinds of things about his life. He was glued to a tree by mucus that was spewed onto him by a mutant bat-bunny, while his not-a-goth girlfriend was on the phone with the guy who choreographed the music for a syndicated Vampire Detective television show, asking him for help.

Sometimes Jack missed the days when his life used to be normal.

“Zev, this is Amy. I uh, need your help.”

He just could imagine Zev’s response.  Probably something sensible like, “What’s the problem, Amy?” or “What kind of ridiculous situation did you get yourself into now, Amy?”

“Um, well the thing is, Jack and I were looking into this strange thing we noticed,” Jack snorted, loudly, at the ‘we’.  Amy sent a vicious glare his way but otherwise ignored him, “and we sort of got into a situation. You see this thing seems to secrete some kind of glue –“ she broke off, and from her expression, Zev felt just about as approving of this whole farce as he did.

“Look, Zev.” Amy grumbled, and he’d bet that she just cut him off as he very nicely tried to explain to her that she should leave the monster-hunting to the professionals. “I realize that maybe this wasn’t the best idea, but that’s not the point right now. I need to know if you can come out here and help us.”

Uh oh. Jack recognized that scowl forming.  It was Amy’s ‘do not fuck with me or I will garrote you with my hot-pink, skull & crossbones shoelaces’ look. “No, Zev, I am not calling Tony.”

He imagined he could hear Zev asking why.

“Because Lee is back from Bulgaria and that ridiculous movie-shoot and he and Tony deserve a break.” She snorted and then gave an offended gasp. “No Tony didn’t promise to share sordid details about their reunion if I gave him the night off.  As if!”

Jack shook his head – as far as he could, apparently his hair was glued to the tree as well – and wondered, not for the first time, just what kind of girl he was dating.  Then he looked at her; loosing focus on her end of the conversation for a moment, and just looked.  Her outfit was kind of ridiculous goth-punk, with the cut-away jacket in burgundy-trimmed black and black Doc Martens, and dangerously school-girl cute, with the striped black and burgundy tights and matching plaid skirt, but it worked on her and she sure was hot when she was furious and fuming. 

Scratching the back of his head against the bark because the glue-ish stuff was starting to itch, Jack realized that as much as he was pissing and moaning about this whole evening, he was having a twisted kind of fun with Amy.

“Fine, Zev.  See you then.”  Jack looked up to catch the tail end of the conversation before she managed to get the phone closed.

“So Zev’s coming?”

Amy sort of rocked on the ground and Jack took that to be a nod. “Yeah, he’s going to bring some solvent, to see if he can get us out of this stuff.”

“And if it doesn’t?”

Despite the awkward pose, Amy still managed to lift her chin stubbornly. “Then I’ll call someone else. I dunno, maybe Henry.”

Jack frowned. Someday he was going to figure out just what the hell was up with Henry Fitzroy. “You think Tony’s friend can get us out of this?”

There was more rolling on Amy’s part, but she managed a shrug well enough.

“Look, hon,” Amy was iffy on pet names, but Jack figured he could get away with that one, “just do me a favor and agree that if those two can’t get us unstuck, you’ll give Tony a call.”

He knew, just from the cute, albeit stubborn, expression on her face that she didn’t want to agree. But he also knew she didn’t want to spend a chilly Vancouver spring evening in the woods. “Alright,” she huffed, “fine.”

Fortunately it didn’t take Zev all that long to get there.  They’d managed some obnoxiously casual conversation until Amy realized that the glue-spit had pretty much ruined her tights, and possibly one boot, and got pretty grouchy after that.

Amy’s cell started ringing about a half-hour later – the Darkest Night theme ringtone that she’d gotten from Tony echoing stridently through the trees - and though she glanced down at it, she didn’t answer.

“Not gonna get that?”

“Nope,” Amy said, sounding just a bit smug. “That’s Zev. He’s using the ringing to locate us.”

Jack allowed her the smug, because that was a good idea.

And it worked. They heard footsteps and saw a flashlight beam playing through the trees only a few minutes later, and a couple of directed shouts brought Zev over to their particular clearing.

“You know,” Zev said, waving the flashlight over each of them in turn, “there’s a bike trail not too far from here that gets some foot traffic even this late. If you guys had called out for help, I’m sure someone would have heard you.”

Jack ignored that and simply said, “Hey, Zev.”

Amy, on the other hand, snorted inelegantly. “Schyeah, right, Zev. Like I want anyone I don’t know to find me like this.  Next thing you know it ends up the papers. Something ridiculous about kinky bondage gone wrong. I mean, not that I’ve got anything against kinky bondage.” Somehow she managed to toss the artful lock of bottle-merlot hair away from her face and throw a wink at Jack.

“So,” Zev said, doing his own blatant ignoring, and kneeling down beside Amy. He had a satchel with him and he pulled out a rectangular metal solvent can.  “How did you manage this again?”

“Bunnicula,” Jack said, “spit on us.”

Zev looked over at him, puzzled. “The vampire bunny rabbit?”

Jack couldn’t shrug, his shoulders were stuck fast, but he tried. “See,” he said to Amy, “Zev knows the classics.” To Zev he said, “Well, close enough.  Someone,” he emphasized that a bit much, “wanted to hunt down whatever it was that was sucking blood from critters.  Woodland critters, might I add –“

“Don’t forget the Chihuahua,” Amy interrupted.

“Fine,” Jack amended. “Woodland critters and one little dog. Anyway, we tracked it out here, following its path of destruction so to speak, and then the damn thing jumped out of a tree and landed on me!” He avoided mention of the shrieking and flailing. Amy, bless her, didn’t mention it either. He owed her for that. “So, I knocked the damn thing on the ground and then we tried to catch it –“

“I won’t even ask why,” Zev broke in, even as he dabbed at Amy’s hands where they were stuck fast to her abdomen.

“Anyway, our friend Bunnicula didn’t much appreciate our trying to catch it, so it started screeching and spitting all over us, before it ran up a tree.  We didn’t exactly expect the stuff it was horking on us to turn to glue.”

Zev waved a hand over Amy, “Hence being stuck like this. Though how you ended up in this pose…”

Jack couldn’t see Amy’s face now, Zev was in the way, but he imagined she probably looked a bit sheepish. “I was laughing, alright,” she grumbled.

“So where’s this thing now?” Zev asked, looking up towards the trees nervously.

“I dunno,” Jack admitted. The creature had stopped shrieking some time ago, but they hadn’t heard any movement from the trees. 

“Um, do you think I’m safe here?” Zev shined the light up into the trees.  Thankfully, that didn’t seem to upset anything that might be lurking in the branches above.

“Why don’t you just concentrate on getting us unstuck, just in case.” Amy prodded.

Zev went back to working at Amy’s hands.  “Uh, it doesn’t look like this is working,” he finally said, rocking back on his heels.  “Maybe you should call Tony.”

“No!” Amy protested. “I already said he was gonna be the absolute last resort. I’m calling Henry.” She curled back into the awkward position that allowed her to see her phone. 

Zev put a hand on her shoulder before she could contort herself completely. “Why don’t I just call him,” he offered.

“I don’t know his number off hand,” Amy said, somewhat reluctantly.  “It’s on my speed dial.”

“You have Henry on speed-dial?” Zev asked.

Zev had shifted back so Jack could see the patented ‘Amy glare’ that was being leveled at him right now.  He was sort of relieved to know that he wasn’t the only one who earned that look.

“For as many times as he’s had to get involved when Tony’s been incapacitated or otherwise occupied, yes, I have Henry on speed dial.”

Zev held out his hands, placating. “Okay, it’s fine. I was just asking.” He lowered his hands.

“Look, I’ll dial him, you lean in and talk,” Amy insisted. It wasn’t the smoothest way to do things and Jack suspected that any other time, Zev would have argued.

“Fine,” he agreed.

If Jack didn’t know that Zev wasn’t the least bit interested in women, he’d have been a bit bothered by the sight of him leaning his head down to Amy’s waist.  As it was, he still bit down on an instinctual possessive growl.

“This is ridiculous,” Zev said, straightening. “Just put it on speaker.” Before Amy could protest Zev grabbed for the phone.

“No!” Amy shouted, but it was too late.

“Oh,” Zev said, when he tried to pull his hand back and the phone (and Amy’s hands) came with it. “There’s Bunnicula glue on the phone.”

“Uh, yeah,” Amy said. “That’s why you were supposed lean.”

“Well why didn’t the stuff on your hands stick to me when I tried to clean it off?”

“I don’t know,” Amy was sounding a bit overwrought. “I think it’s still kind of tacky on the phone.”

“Hey,” Jack broke in before the ‘discussion’ could escalate. “We’ll deal with it. Just dial Henry and put it on speaker.”

Thankfully Amy didn’t argue and just did her contortionist act again.  Then she straightened slightly and Jack could hear the faint sound of ringing.

The line connected after the fourth ring. “Henry Fitzroy.” Jack could hear the voice faintly.

“Hi, Henry, this is Amy. You know, Tony’s friend?”

“Is Tony alright?” And that Jack heard clear as a bell. The concern coming through the line was palpable.

“Oh, Tony’s fine,” Zev hurried to reassure.

“Zev?”

“Yeah, it’s me. I’m here with Amy. Jack’s here too.”

Henry’s chuckle was faint, but Jack heard it and scowled. “Are we sure we need him?” he mumbled under his breath.

“I don’t know, Constable Elson, are you sure you need me?” Henry’s reply was pitched purposefully loud.

“Look, Henry,” Amy cut in, with another of those glares at Jack. “We’ve gotten ourselves in a bit of a situation and we don’t want to interrupt Tony.”

“Ah yes. Lee’s back from Bulgaria today, isn’t he.”

“Yes,” Amy hissed triumphantly. “See, someone else gets it.”

Zev scrubbed his free, unglued hand over his face. “Henry, we’re in John Hendry Park, about three quarters of a mile north of the bike path that’s just off the parking lot at the South entrance.  There’s some kind of bloodsucking creature –“

“Bloodsucking?” Henry broke in, and though his tone sounded merely curious Jack felt a shudder run down his spine and he didn’t know why.

“Uh, sort of. It’s been biting animals.” Amy explained. “Raccoons and squirrels and the like.”

Henry’s, “Oh,” was almost a letdown.

“Anyway,” Zev continued, “they followed the creature here and it sprayed Amy and Jack with something that seems to be a kind of glue.”

Again, Jack heard that dry chuckle.  “Should I assume that the predicament you find yourselves in involves this glue?”

“Whadda you think?” Jack called out, irritated for no real reason he could pinpoint.

“I’m not sure what help I can be,” Henry admitted. “Perhaps I could pick up some solvent to try to dissolve the glue.”

Zev sighed. “Tried that already. Used some of the stuff that props uses to get paint off of the soundstage floor. It'll normally get anything off of anything. It’s probably a regulated hazardous substance.”

“Hey!” Amy exclaimed.

“It didn’t seem to work, so I’m not sure what else to do.”

“As much as I’m loathe to suggest it, I believe your best bet at this point would be to contact Tony.”

Amy groaned.

“I understand your reticence,” Henry said, responding to the noise, “but I’m sure he’d understand in this case.” There was a long pause, as if Henry was thinking.

“I was just about to go out to meet a friend… for a bite to eat,” And why did he sounds so damn amused by that Jack wondered. “But I can postpone. I’ll contact Tony myself and I’ll find out if it would be more expedient for me to pick Tony up and bring him there. The less we have to interrupt his evening, the better.”

“That sounds good, Henry, thank you.” Zev said with a sigh of relief.

“Be sure to tell Tony that I didn’t want to bother him,” Amy insisted, “and thank you, Henry.”

“You’re welcome.” Henry said, and then there was a click as the call disconnected.

“Great,” Jack said and he felt like kind of an ass for how sarcastic he was being, but he couldn’t help it at this point. For as much of an asset as Henry had been in the past – for a romance novelist (and someday he was going to get the truth on that) – the guy just rubbed him the wrong way sometimes. “Now we have to wait for Henry to call Tony and then get him out here. God knows how long that’s going to take.”

“Hey,” Amy shot back, and Jack had to give her that, she never backed down from him. It was one of the things that both intrigued him and annoyed him to no end. “I told you from the beginning that Tony was not an option.”

Jack blinked. “Um, no you didn’t. You just said you didn't want to bug him with this whole thing. You never said he wasn't an option for back-up.”

Amy pursed her lips and looked thoughtful. “Are you sure? Cuz I could’ve sworn that I mentioned that before we started this.”

“No, you didn’t mention it,” Jack said rather stiffly.

Zev, who was watching this like a spectator at a tennis match – head going back and forth and back and forth – seemed to be enjoying himself at least.

“Are you sure?” Amy repeated.

“Yes,” Jack ground out, “I’m sure. If you’d said ‘Let’s go chase after some kind of bloodsucking creature on our own and oh by the way, the Wizard is not an option’, I’m pretty sure I would’ve said no.” He shook his head. “No, wait. I’d have said: HELL NO!”

Amy opened her mouth to retort, and then clamped it shut when the trees above them began to rustle and a low growl sounded. “Oh great,” she hissed, “you’ve pissed it off again.”

“Me,” Jack whisper-yelled back, “I’m not the –“

At that point Zev held up a hand. “Uh guys, maybe we should just all calm down and not antagonize Bunnicula anymore, huh?”

Jack swallowed everything else he was going to say. Zev was right. Getting angrier was just going to make this situation worse.

Amy looked churlish, like she wanted to keep going, but then she blew out a ‘letting it go’ kind of sigh (or she might have been blowing the bangs out of her face, but Jack hoped it was the former).

“Good,” Zev said as he stepped over Amy and then lowered himself to the ground to sit Indian-style next to her.

The bat-bunny-pire seemed to agree because the growling and rustling quieted.

“So,” Amy began somewhat tentatively, “care to fill me in on this ‘Bunnicula’ thing? Cuz I hate being out of the loop on this.”

Jack recognized a peace offering when he heard it. “Sure.  Zev, you wanna field this one?”

Zev waved his free hand. “Naw, you got this.”

The telling of a tale about a vampire bunny rabbit who drained the vegetables and turned them all white took long enough that by the time Jack was finished they could hear someone – sounded like Tony – calling for all of them through the trees.

“Over here!” Zev yelled, though it was a bit quieter than Jack would’ve been yelling. Then he remembered Bunnicula up in the trees and decided that discretion was definitely the better part of not pissing off the bunny-bat-pire in this case.

Noises of something large crashing through the brush, accompanied by low-voiced swearing, announced Tony’s arrival. He pushed into the clearing still fighting with an apparently amorous branch, and once he’d gotten that off, he looked up at the tableau before him and smiled. “Well isn’t this cozy.”

Seemingly out of nowhere – not a branch rustled or leaf twitched - Henry suddenly appeared behind Tony.  How the hell did he do that, Jack wondered.

“I could’ve told you where they were,” he insisted to Tony, “if you’d waited five minutes.”

“You’ve got uh, dinner plans. I didn’t want to get in the way of that.” Tony insisted.

Henry rolled his eyes. “And I told you not to worry about that, Tony.”

“Uh guys,” Jack piped up. His butt was sore from the lumpy tree roots and his back was aching. “Can we please focus on the people who are glued to the ground here?”

Tony at least had the grace to look abashed. “Oh, right –“

Before he could continue, though, the yowling from somewhere above them started up in earnest.

“Crap,” Jack, Zev and Amy all said at about the same time. (Amy might have said something a bit more colorful, but her intent was the same.)

“That the creature?” Tony asked, eying the trees warily.

“Yes, it is.” Henry – oddly – replied. His eyes suddenly looked… different.  Jack felt that same sort of primal urge to get the hell out of there that he’d experienced earlier around Henry.  “It’s upset that I’m in its territory.”

“Tony, can you manage this?” Henry swept an arm that took in the entire clearing. “I think it would be best if I left now. I don’t want to further antagonize the creature.”

Tony nodded. “Sure, I’ve got an ‘unstuck’ cantrip on here,” he hefted the laptop he was carrying, “that I think’ll work.” He looked over at Zev. “And I’m sure I can get a ride back from one of these guys.”

Zev nodded. “Won’t be a problem, Tony.”

Henry nodded his thanks to Zev. “Good luck, Tony,” he said and then was gone just like he’d appeared.

“What is it with that guy?” Jack asked no one in particular.

Tony ignored him. “Seriously you guys,” he said as he knelt down and opened up the laptop. “You should’ve contacted me right away.  Why didn’t you just call me in the first place?”

Amy struggled to sit up. “I didn’t want to interrupt your night with Lee,” she said proudly. “I knew you guys could use a night alone.”

Tony raised a hand to rub at the back of his neck. “Uh, you didn’t hear?”

“Hear what?” Jack asked with a scowl. He had a feeling he wasn’t going to be happy about this.

“Um, Lee’s flight got delayed and he’s not coming back until tomorrow.”

Jack slumped back against the tree. He fought every instinct that told him to fling an ‘I told you so’ at Amy, and instead thunked the back of his head against the tree trunk. Repeatedly.

Amy at least had the good grace to look sheepish, and she rolled to her side, hiding her head in the grass and leaves grumbling unintelligibly.

Zev was the most pragmatic of them all. “Well, at least we’re not interrupting you then.”

“Uh, well I appreciate that, I guess.” Tony said, bemused. “I probably don’t even want to know how all of this happened, do I?”

Jack pointed at Amy with the arm that was stuck to the elbow. “It was all her idea. All of it.”

Amy stuck her tongue out at him. “C’mon, Tony. I was trying to be a supportive friend. I thought Lee was coming back today and that you guys would need some time alone.”

Tony snorted. “You just wanted to hassle me for all the sordid details of our 'tawdry reunion'.” He air-quoted rather sarcastically.

“Ha!” Jack said triumphantly.

Amy escalated to blowing raspberries.

“Okay,” Tony said after working on the laptop for a few minutes and reading something over a few times (Jack didn’t know if he should feel worried that Tony was moving his lips while he read), “this should be pretty easy.  Just hold still.” He held up the hand with the rune-shaped scar and spoke several complicated, guttural sounding words aloud.

An odd wind rushed in from all sides, and then seemed to solidify all around them into some kind of invisible gel. Jack tried not to panic as he could feel something cool and damp - yet not actually wet - flowing all over him, but couldn’t see it.  When the feeling subsided, he found that he could lift his arms away from his body.

“It worked!” he exclaimed, pushing himself slowly to his feet. He’d have liked to have jumped up and away from the damn tree and the clearing, but he was stiff from being stuck like that for so long.

“Oh thank Goddess,” Amy said with a groan, finally able to move her hands away from her waist. She stretched her arms above her head and then held them up to Jack.  He stepped over the help her off the ground and gave Zev a hand up as well.  Amy leaned heavily on him, still a bit wobbly, and smiled beatifically at Tony. “Thanks, Tony. You were awesome. I totally owe you one.”

Never one for taking compliments well that Jack had seen, Tony just blushed and waved that away. “Just, do me a favor and the next time you plan to go out monster-hunting, do it on a night when I’m not supposed to be reuniting with my boyfriend, kay?”

Amy nodded. “You got it.”

“You guys okay from here?” Tony asked.

Jack nodded. “Well, as soon as we get away from these trees and Bunnicula.”

“Bunnicula?” Tony had the same puzzled tone in his voice that Amy’d had earlier.

Zev grabbed his arm and pulled him to follow. “C’mon, Tony, I’ll explain it on the way home.”

“Thanks again, Tony.” Jack said.

“Wait,” Amy said before anyone could walk away. “What about the creature? It’s still sucking the blood of all these animals.”

Tony looked at Jack. 

Jack looked at Tony.

They both nodded.

Jack grabbed Amy around the waist, scooped an arm under her butt and picked her up, hauling her out of the woods.  He called another, “See ya guys,” over his shoulder.  Amy struggled for all of a few paces then finally gave up, going lax in his arms and snuggling her face against his neck. “I suppose we can let Bunnicula go... for tonight.” She squealed when he bounced her a bit harder than necessary. “Okay, okay… no more monster hunting.”

She giggled pretty damn cute when he blew raspberries on her neck…

A long, hot (shared) shower, that take-out Jack had been promising and a few ibuprofen later, Jack found himself in Amy’s apartment, in Amy’s bed, waiting for her to come back from answering an odd, late-night phone call.

“Who was that?” Jack asked when Amy finally padded back into the bedroom. She was sleep-tousled and one strap of her barely-there night shirt was draping enticingly off a shoulder.

“Um, that was Tony.”

Jack tensed. “What did the wonder-Wizard want?”

Amy came into the room and settled on the bed next to him. He felt an odd anxiety roiling in his gut. “Amy?”

“Uh, Tony figured out what that bat-bunny was.”

“Oh?” He wasn’t going to like this.

“Yeah, it’s some kind of trans-dimensional forest sprite.  A spillover from that whole talking-shrimp invasion, actually.  He said we might see a few more oddities like that pop up. Anyway, it uh… only feeds enough on creatures to sustain itself and then goes into hibernation. It’s not really a danger to anyone.”

Jack fell back against the pillows. “So we could have just left well enough alone and everything would have been fine?”

“Uh, yeah.”

“So what did we learn from this?” Jack asked pointedly.

“Um, we don’t go chasing after monsters unless the wizard is available for back-up.”

Jack nodded, and then prompted, “And no more Bunnicula hunts for us?”

“Nope.” Amy curled closer to him, snuggling against his side quite cozily.

“Huh,” Jack frowned.

“What?” she looked up at him, apprehension narrowing her eyes.

“I’m kind of disappointed,” he admitted, and was surprised to find it true. “That was actually kinda fun.”

He totally deserved that pillow to the face.