gggggggggg

TITLE: Trick or Truth
AUTHOR: Elyse
EMAIL:  nailartist@ncplus.net
RATING: PG-13
SPOILERS: through current season six
PAIRING: Buffy/Giles--duh!  :o)
DISCLAIMER:  Nothing is mine, it all belongs to Joss and Mutant Enemy.
SUMMARY: In response to Tricia's trick or treat challenge, I was somehow
inspired by a little story that won't leave my head till I write it all
down.  Lessee:  Buffy and trick or treaters, check.  Buffy in amusing
costume, check. Giles in sexy costume, check.   Original reason for him to
come back from England, well...maybe not original, but at least canon.
Unsexy candy eating, check.  Sexy Mr. Gordo reference, check.  Scary ghost
story, well...I changed it to a scary movie because writing a story is one
thing, writing a story-within-a- story is another!
DISTRIBUTION:  please ask first--I'm planning to put it on my webpage and
will be offering a direct link to my page rather than posting to individual pages.
NOTES:  Thanks to Gail for beta-ing for me—especially the fight scene, which is as much hers as mine (b/c I can’t write fights!).  You’re awesome, chickie.

 

“Whatcha doin’ Will?” 

Willow jumped up from her crouched position at the front door, slipping her hands behind her back as she turned and faced Buffy.  “Hmm?  Oh nothing,” she replied, a little too nonchalantly.  “Just…um, checking the door for, uh…drafts.  Thought I felt one earlier, had to fix it.  Brrr.” 

Buffy quirked an eyebrow at her friend and wondered how she could feel a draft in the rubber Batgirl outfit.  “Hmmm…someone’s been partaking of the bad caffeine today.”

“I have not!  I mean, I’ve just been…cold, you know?  I’ve been checking all the windows in the house too.  In case you’ve happened to see me…doing stuff at the windows.”  She gave Buffy a wide-eyed, innocent look.

“Okay, Will.” Buffy walked past her friend to place the bowl of candy on small table by the door.  “When’s Xander picking you up?”

“Oh, in about ten minutes.  Are you sure you don’t want to come with?  We’d be like the Legion of Superheroes.”

“Who’s he dressed up as, Batman?” 

“Nah, Superman,” Willow replied, then furrowed her brow.  “Do you think I should have one as Supergirl?”

“No way, Will.  You look great in black rubber.”

“Well, red white and blue looks smashing on you, babe,” Willow smiled.  “And you’re absolutely, positively sure that you won’t make it a threesome?” She paused.   “Oh, but… not in a sexy way…”

Buffy laughed out loud. “I’m absolutely, positively sure.  It’s Halloween.  The only demons I have to worry about tonight are leettle tiny ones with green painted skin and fake blood.  Besides, I’ve got chocolate.  What else could I need?”

Willow suppressed a grin.  “I can’t think of a thing.”

 *****

 “Here you go, Frankenstein.  Oh, and here’s some for you too, Cinderella.”  Buffy’s candy bowl was lightened by several pieces, and she waved to the kiddies as they left the porch.  She plopped down on the sofa, releasing a breath.  At least the last few had been able to keep their eyes on the candy in the bowl, and not down the front of her costume.  She glanced out the front window.  It was getting dark now, and the young ones would be finishing up their rounds.  Only the older kids, who liked to dare each other to go out in the dark in this town, would be knocking on doors now.  Well, she might open the door for one or two of them, but no way was she handing out the Watchamacallit’s.   Too good for them.  She hoped Dawn would be the voice of reason for her other, less experienced friends tonight.  If that cell phone rang after midnight, Buffy was going to have a word with her little sister.

Finally, after the ringing of the doorbell slowed down to about two in half an hour, Buffy decided to pack it in.  She took off the black wig and shook out her hair.  “Ugh,” she said as she glanced in the mirror in the hallway.  “Look out, forces of darkness.  It’s the evil Buffy hair.”  She ran her fingers through it a few times, then gave up.  “Only the Chosen Scrunchie can overcome this mess.”  She was on her way to the bathroom when the doorbell rang again.  She rolled her eyes, debating.  That bowl of candy was still half full, and Buffy knew that Dawn would eat nothing else until it was gone.  “One more time,” she muttered as she went back to the door and opened it.

“Trick or treat.”  The voice was a little too deep and her gaze, stuck momentarily at kid-height,  took in a broad expanse of…black.  Black-fabric-covered chest, in point of fact:  a very broad expanse of it.  A tingle skittered down her spine as she looked up and gulped, not quite audibly.  The round-brimmed hat and half-mask—also black—cast mysterious shadows over the face underneath, and all she could see was a grin: closed-lipped with one corner bent upward.   Buffy felt another zing which she ruthlessly squashed, and gazed unblinkingly up into the shadowed face.

“Aren’t you a little tall for this gig, Zorro?” 

A deep chuckle reverberated from the masked man’s chest as he moved closer.  “And aren’t you a bit, ah…short for that Wonder Woman costume?” 

Buffy was about to shoot off a stinging retort when it suddenly struck her how familiar that voice and bent-up grin were.  She could make out his eyes, now that he’d stepped into the light.  No doubt about it now—she’d know those eyes anywhere.  But she hadn’t thought in a million years that she’d be seeing them on this side of the pond any time soon.

“Giles?”  A light seemed to spread over her face as the reality sunk in.  “Giles!”  She launched herself at him and all but crushed him in her trademark hug.  “When did you get here?  I just talked to you last night…do you have a place to stay?  Have you told anyone else…?”

“Please, Buffy…oxygen…a good thing…” Giles gasped, not at all displeased by this show of affection by his Slayer, but still preferring to breathe just the same. 

“Oops, sorry,” she replied sheepishly, but although she loosened her hold she did not let go.  “Of course, what did you expect when you show up all unannounced on my doorstep after three months away?”  She took his arm and led him inside, shutting the door behind them.  ‘Oh hi Giles, I haven’t seen you for so long, how’s England and would you like a cup of tea?’”  She rolled her eyes at him, then smiled.  “Next time, wear body armor.” She followed him as he moved into the living room and was caught off-guard by a wild, woodsy scent that seemed to cling to him.  She inhaled deeply, suddenly wanting that smell to encompass her, to seep into her very bones.  She shook her head, mentally squashing the thoughts.  ‘Get a grip, girl.  This is Giles…’

“I do apologize, Buffy,” Giles began.  He sat down on the sofa, removing the hat and mask. “But, I-I…wanted to surprise you.”

There was an earnestness to his grin that made Buffy’s breath catch in her throat.  She sat down next to him, close enough to touch his arm.  “Well, it worked.  I’m surprised.”  She laid her head against his shoulder.  The fabric of the costume was smooth, like silk, and she unconsciously rubbed her cheek against it.  “Pleasantly, even.”  Softly, so that she barely knew she’d said it aloud, she added, “I missed you.”

Giles, already feeling a little overheated from her impulsive caress, jumped slightly at her words.  She missed him?  As in, like a friend who’d been gone awhile missed?  Or…no.  His mind snapped shut on the thought.  Won’t be going there, man.  But he put his arm around her and kissed her forehead.  “I’ve missed you too, Buffy.  You and Dawn…and the others.  That’s partly the reason I came back.” 

Buffy looked up at him, repressing the not-so-small piece of her brain that was protesting the “Dawn and the others” addition.  “Partly?  Meaning more parts?”  She pulled away a little, unwilling to relinquish his touch just yet.  “What’s up?”

Giles didn’t answer right away, which naturally set off the Slayer’s alarms.  “Giles, is something up?  This isn’t just a family visit, is it?  What’s so important that would bring you halfway around the world just to tell me you missed me?”  Her mind began to race ahead.  “You’ve found another prophecy, haven’t you.  How long does the human race have to live this time?” By now she was off the couch, pacing the floor. She turned her face in supplication to the heavens. “Why can’t the demons and the forces of darkness leave me alone for one night!”

Giles stood right after Buffy did, and began speaking gently to calm her.  “Buffy…Buffy…It’s not the end of the world, I promise. At least not tonight,” he added ruefully.  He took her by the shoulders as if to offer comfort, and the moment he touched her, he felt something like an electrical shock jolt him down to his toes.  Suddenly all he could see was her lips, rosy and moist, and he released his grip immediately, momentarily off-balance.  ‘Get hold of yourself, man,’ he berated himself silently as he ran his hands through his hair.  The gesture was like a kinetic mantra;  it calmed his mind, helped him focus.  And for some reason he really needed to be able to focus right now.

“Giles?”  Buffy saw the look that passed over his face, and also felt the shock as he’d touched her.   Saying that she was confused would be an understatement.  What was going on with him…with her, for that matter?  She reached out to him, but he stepped back, and sat on the couch again.

He sighed, pulling his thoughts together.  One aberrant fantasy would not ruin his whole night.  “All right,” he began, not daring to look up at her for the moment.   “I wasn’t going to say anything else until we could get everyone together.  And I-I didn’t want you to have to worry about it on your one night off…”  He fell silent for a moment.

“What, Giles? Spill it.”  She tapped her foot, letting impatience cover her confusion.

“You know that there’s something…something big coming.”

Buffy’s foot stilled. “ ‘From beneath you it devours.’”

Giles nodded.  “Willow could feel it, which is why she came back.  I knew it too, on some level.”  He finally looked up at her again.  “Last week, the Council informed me of some research they’d been doing which verifies it.”

Buffy released a breath she hadn’t realized she’d been holding.  “Do they know what it is?”  She sat down again, this time in a chair opposite the sofa. 

“No, that still isn’t clear.  But other details have come up.  They’re rather vague, but the general consensus is that they are related to this…event.”  He cleared his throat.  “Because of the enormity of the situation, the Council feels that I, as your Watcher, should be here, to help put up a-a unified front, so to speak.”

“I guess two heads would be way better than one, huh,” Buffy replied.  “And I’m not complaining, because hey, you’re here, no more long-distance phone bills.”  She smiled slightly.  “But since when do you jump when the Council speaks?”

“Since  certain…prophecies…seem to back up their theories.”

“Ah, it is a prophecy then.  Pesky things,”  she sighed.  “Well, lay it on me.”

“It says that in order for light to prevail in this battle, the Watcher and the Slayer must be… united.”  He rested his gaze on her face, taking in every expression as she digested the information. 

“Ooo-kay…that sounds reasonable.”  She shrugged.  And then her mind made another connection which made her blush.  Surely not… “So…’united’…that’s like one mind, one purpose, right?  We stand together.” 

“Ah…”  Giles thought about telling her the whole thing.  He really did.  But why complicate it?  That particular detail was still being debated by the translators, after all.  “…Yes.  Precisely. We stand together.”  He smiled reassuringly and held out his hand. 

Buffy took it, returning the smile.   Their eyes locked, and the air around them abruptly felt thicker.  Giles could feel his heartbeat speed up ever-so-slightly, the pulse moving through his arm and into his hand and fingers where they clasped Buffy’s.  For a moment he was disoriented, for he felt the pulse much stronger where their palms met.  Then he realized that he was also feeling Buffy’s pulse—and that it was synchronized perfectly with his own.  And if the expression that crossed her face was any indication of her feelings, he guessed that she’d come to the same conclusion.  In exact unison they released each other’s hands, breaking eye contact.

“So …wanna watch a scary movie?”

“Wonderful idea.”

*****

“Takin’ a break, Batgirl?”  Xander “Superman” Harris asked as he sat down beside his best friend.  He and Willow had both spent the last couple of hours dancing with almost everyone that wore a skirt (and some that wore tights) and both had found how hot rubber and spandex could get.

“Oh yeah,” Willow affirmed, taking a deep gulp from her water glass.  She sat back in her seat with a little sigh, pulling off the mask that covered her eyes and hair. 

Xander looked at her in awe.  “How do you do that?” he marveled.  “You’re like Super Hair girl or something.”  He grinned as he reached out and tried to mess up the red strands, which somehow had not plastered themselves to her head but instead fell straight and loose to her shoulders.

“It’s magic,” Willow responded archly.  Then she grinned.  “Well, okay, it was mousse.  But…Magic Mousse.  That’s the name of it.  I don’t think it’s actually magic, though…”

“Ay-yi-yi,”  Xander interrupted, his eyes tracking the form of a very tall, very curvy Greek Goddess.   Her glance fell upon Xander briefly, and she bestowed a small smile on him, which he accepted as if it were twelve dozen Twinkies.  “Will…did-did you see that?” 

“Uh-huh,” Willow replied, also catching the glance of the goddess, who gave her a very big smile and a wink. Willow returned the smile, and turned back to Xander after the girl had passed.  “That’s Vanessa.  She’s in my Natural Arts class.  She keeps asking me out, but I’m just not ready yet.  She’s been pretty cool about it, though.”

“Yeah,” Xander said, swallowing his grin.  “I bet she’s a great gal.”

“Mmm-hmm.”  Willow replied, and then fell silent, her eyebrows furrowing.

Xander didn’t miss his friend’s sudden pensiveness, despite his own brief pity-party.  He considered her for a few moments, and then nudged her with his elbow.  “Hey, what happened in there?  I was just about to launch into my why-can’t-I-find-a-normal-girl routine when you bailed on me.  What’s up?”

“Sorry, honey,” Willow apologized.  “My mind just did one of those walkabout things, you know?  Where you’re just thinkin’ about one thing and that makes you think about another thing and that sends you off to another thought entirely…”

“Yep, I’ve done that,” Xander affirmed.  “But you must have taken a turn into the bad part of town.  You’ve gone and lost all your Halloween spirit.”

“Yeah, well, I had Tara on my mind there for a minute, and then I thought about how I don’t think I’ll ever find anyone else for me because we were like soulmates, you know?  And then I started thinking about what soulmates are—” Willow took a deep breath and rambled on:  “—two people who are destined to be together, who complete each other, who would be lessened if one of them were taken away from the other.  And then I thought about how that really describes Buffy and Giles…”

“Whoa there, ya lost me, Will,”  Xander interrupted, a somewhat sour look on his face.  “How did you come up with Buffy and Giles as…” He squinted at her.  “Soulmates?”

“Still nursing that high school crush, huh Xand?”  Willow remarked dryly.  “Anyway, as I was saying…”

“Rambling.  You were rambling, Will.”

“Whatever.  So, then I thought about how Buffy and Giles are probably actual soulmates, just because of their Chosen-ness, and I’ve had my suspicions lately about their feelings for each other, and we really need them to be working together well right now, and that got me thinking about the clarification spell I just cast …”

Xander spit out the mouthful of soda he’d just taken.  “You did what??”  The music blaring over the speakers was pretty loud, but surely he’d misheard…?

“I cast a spell,” Willow repeated, a little less certainly.  “It’s made to  uncover hidden things…feelings…”

“I can’t believe I’m hearing this.”  Xander took another sip of his drink, which he managed to swallow this time.  “Willow, what were you thinking?”

Willow shrunk down in her seat.  “It was just a little spell, Xander.  A-and, it wasn’t for a bad, control-y, evil reason…”

“Will, that’s the kind of rationalization that got you all black-haired and veiny.  Not a great look for you.”

“I realize that, Xander,” Willow replied, sitting up straight again, firmness in her voice.  “Do you think I just woke up one morning and thought ‘oh, it’s Tuesday, I think I’ll cast a spell on Giles and Buffy’?”  She shook her head.  “I gave this some major thought, and you have to believe me when I tell you that I had a really, really good reason.”

Xander leaned forward.  “Will, I trust you, I do. And now you have to trust me, and tell me your reason so I can decide whether or not to leave right now and keep my friends from embarrassing themselves for life.”  He looked at her expectantly.

“Well…”she hesitated.  Where to start?

“Look, I’ll rephrase the question,” Xander said.  “How do you know that Buffy and Giles have feelings for each other that needed that much help to express?”

Willow snorted.  “Are you kidding?  When it comes to hiding their true feelings, Buffy and Giles are the reigning champs.”

“You’ve got a point there, Will.  But again, if they’re so good at hiding their feelings, how do you know what they are?”

Willow sighed.  It was a lot more complicated than that, but she had to start somewhere.

“The earth told me.”

Pause.

“Oh.”

*****

“You need what?”  Giles almost laughed, but managed to contain himself.

“Mister Gordo.  He’s in the bathroom on the counter.”  She looked up from the wires behind the  television and saw the look her Watcher was giving her.  “And he’s essential to the watching of the scary movie.”

“Ah.”

Buffy glared.  “Don’t pull that face at me, Rupert Giles.  Someday your best friend could be small and fluffy.”

“Fine, fine,” Giles acquiesced, and headed up the stairs.  Her voice echoed in his head.  She’d called him Rupert.  Why should that make him feel like running—floating—the  rest of the way up and back?

Everything was where she said it would be, except the stuffed pig.  Giles’ arms were already full, but he knew he’d better find Mister Gordo or suffer the wrath of Buffy.  He finally found the thing almost hidden between two pillows on the bed.  He picked it up and tucked it under his belt, since he was practically juggling everything else.  Giles allowed his gaze to linger on the bed for a moment.  It was her old bed, he knew, but in this room it looked…different.  Bigger, perhaps.  More…accessible.  ‘Accessible?    Good God, old man—now you’re really dreaming.’ He actually flushed at the thought.   Buffy had changed in many ways since he’d left last year, but was he really ready to think of her in that way?  As an attractive --and yes, desirable—woman?  Well, the real question wasn’t whether he was ready, but if she could ever, in a million years, reciprocate.  He had no doubt of her love for him, but  he was afraid she still thought of him as more of a dear friend. ‘Or rakish uncle,’ he mused.  ‘That is what you positioned yourself to be, after all.  No one to blame but yourself.’  He closed his eyes briefly, bringing his thoughts back in line.  The reality of Buffy was waiting downstairs, and whether or not she ever merged into his heart’s desire, she was still his Slayer.  So at least in some way--a tangible, solid way--she was still…his. 

*****

Buffy looked up with a grateful smile as Giles re-entered the living room and put down his armload.  She reached for the old flannel throw that was on top of the pile.  “Thanks mucho, Giles.”  Ah, that flannel smell always took her back to her childhood, she thought as she closed her eyes for a moment.  When she opened them, Giles was gazing at her with a softness in his eyes that she had never seen before.  It sent another tingle through her before she noticed something else.  Mister Gordo’s head was sticking out from the top of Giles’ Zorro pants, and the stuffed pig created a distinct bulge in a place where she suddenly pictured a more anatomically correct one. She felt her body heat up in a few unmentionable places at the thought.  A grin crooked the corner of her mouth as she let humor cover for her obvious stare.  “So…is that Mister Gordo in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?”

“W-what?”  Giles glanced down, and suddenly remembered the pig. “Good lord,” he muttered, removing the stuffed toy from his belt and sitting down quickly.  He handed it to Buffy with a rueful grin, and she accepted it with a twinkle in her eye.

“Thanks.”  She settled down into the sofa with the pig in one hand and the remote control in the other.  With her legs stretched out to the side, she could just touch the soles of her feet to Giles’ leg.  She smiled to herself complacently as she watched him jump—just a little—and then relax into the sofa himself. 

He cleared his throat.  “Er… dare I ask what film you’ll be subjecting us to?”

“Well, I chose a few classics:  ‘Friday the 13th’, ‘Halloween,’ and ‘Scream.’”  She wrinkled her brow.  “Although ‘Scream’ doesn’t really count as a classic, since it’s not even ten years old yet.”  She shrugged.  “Have you seen any of them?”

“I don’t believe I’ve had the pleasure, no.  I prefer to get my thrills and chills from real-life situations.” 

“Ooh…” Buffy grinned coyly as she started the first movie.  “And which do you prefer, Giles—thrills or chills?”  She blushed a little at her boldness, wondered at it.  What was she thinking, exactly?  She didn’t know, and at the moment, she didn’t care.  All her questions faded away as she looked her Watcher over.  The Zorro costume only accentuated what she’d already known about him—he had great muscle tone over his chest and arms.  Belly was a little poochie, but kinda cute, in a Giles-y way.  Legs…yowsa.  Legs went on for-freakin-ever.   Her eyes narrowed and her grin widened.

Giles looked at her askance.  Was she…was she really flirting with him?  That look in her eye, which normally might have sent him into a Hugh Grant impersonation, challenged him for some reason instead.  A bit of his “Ripper” side bubbled  up to the surface, and he went with it. 

“Well, we get enough chills here in Sunnydale without even looking for them, wouldn’t you say?”  He leaned toward her a little.  “I much prefer thrills, I suppose.  You have to work a bit harder for them, but you’re never sorry you made the effort.”  His eyes darkened, and another one of those grins bent the corner of his mouth.

Buffy gulped, and her smile melted away as she felt the familiar tingle again.  Only this time it settled at the base of her spine and radiated out to her fingers and toes, heating her flesh everywhere.   She managed a pinched laugh, and turned her attention to the television screen.  “Well, it’ll have to be pretend thrills for now.  The movie’s starting.”

Giles let his gaze linger on her for a moment longer, and then he too focused on the screen, a smile hovering on his lips.  Memories of his youth, of hours spent in dark theaters with some female or other attached to his side filled his mind.   But none of them held a candle to the woman beside him.  He took a moment to appreciate the poetic irony of her choice of costume.  It left almost nothing to the imagination—every muscle, every finely-honed plane was obvious.  But he’d always known how physically strong she was, and for years she pranced around in barely more than she was wearing now.  So why was he now seeing her body as if it were for the first time?   He abruptly started reciting the Latin alphabet in his mind.  ‘A bit of control, remember, Rupert?’  he thought as he folded his arms with a sigh.

*****

The problem with watching scary movies in a town like Sunnydale, Buffy mused, was that most of the situations could be all too real—and the characters did the absolute stupidest things possible in order to move the plot line along.  If you happened to have insider knowledge about certain types of demonic activity, it might get downright uncomfortable to watch clueless people stumble around in the dark—literally—while the bad guy mercilessly knocks off one dope after another.  You might even find yourself yelling at the television, or worse, at the movie screen in front of lots of strangers.  Fortunately for Buffy, who was finding herself in just such a situation, she was neither at the movies nor with a stranger, so her frustrations were vented to a sympathetic ear.  A rather cute ear, with a  sexy silver hoop earring…

‘Bad Buffy!  Very, very bad…’  Buffy remonstrated with herself.  Somehow, in the last fifteen minutes or so, she’d managed to scoot herself to within six inches of Giles, and somehow he’d closed the gap between them.  Buffy could feel the heat from Giles’ skin through the fabric of his pants, and she found she had to exert some effort in order to keep from laying her hand on his thigh.  Even breathing seemed like an effort, although that deep, woodsy scent that seemed to weave itself into her brain wasn’t exactly a bad smell…

“Jeez!” Buffy yelped as one of the unfortunate characters met a rather nasty end. She jerked her fuzzy blanket up over her eyes and held Mister Gordo tight to her chest.  No matter how thoroughly she expected it, the blood and guts still startled her and made her stomach turn. 

“Buffy?”  Giles chuckled, putting his arm around her—casually, as if he did it every day.  “I never thought you’d be this…sensitive.”  He smiled down at her, and almost forgot to breathe when she snuggled down into his embrace.  He resisted the urge to bury his face in her hair, to breathe her scent in deeper.  He closed his eyes against the feeling of absolute contentment that washed over him.  It was as if he belonged there, at her side, his arm around her shoulders, an eternal embrace that had existed from the beginning.  A question stirred, tried to surface in the back of his mind, but the feel of her was so potent.  There were no questions.  Only the present.

“It never gets any easier to watch, Giles,” Buffy replied.  “I wish I could just…just jump into the television and knock some sense into these guys!”  She glanced up at him with a grimace, and looked away quickly.  When did he get so close?

“Be careful,  luv,” the Watcher reminded her,  “around here you might get your wish.”  He smiled, raising an eyebrow.  “And I really don’t want to have to follow you into a Hollywood film.  The pop culture references alone would kill me.”

Buffy made an impertinent face at him, but settled back into the crook of his arm. It was a surprisingly comforting place to be, despite the butterflies that seemed to be migrating to her belly after his casual “luv.”   That word, in that voice…Buffy jumped again as another stupid teenager was ambushed by the creepy monster guy.  “God, did I not tell you?  These people are morons!” She lectured the television.  “What are the rules, guys?” She counted them off on her fingers.  “If it’s dark out, stay inside and keep the doors locked.  Don’t go out looking for the generator or the gas shut-off or for a pizza place.  There’s always a creepy monster guy.”  She shook her head and then looked up at Giles.  “They never learn.”

Giles inclined his head to meet her gaze.  “No, I suppose not.”  He noticed how close their faces were, and he could feel Buffy’s warm breath against his cheek.  He tried to chuckle lightly, but felt a tightness in his stomach that belied his joking manner.  “But how many movie tickets would be sold if the victims were actually intelligent, hmm?”

“Not…many,” Buffy replied slowly, all at once feeling her bones melt as she held his gaze.  In the flickering light from the TV screen, Giles’ eyes sparked with untold secrets, and she felt a hungering need to discover them.  The energy between them surged and pulled them closer, and their pulses again throbbed in unison.  The strength of their combined heartbeat was like a jungle drum, a pounding rhythm in some hazy, humid tropical forest…no, it was more like a jackhammer now…or a frantic knocking…

…Someone knocking…

Someone was knocking on the front door, loud and strong, and it split the two apart as if they’d been doused with water.

“Bloody hell…”

“What the…?”  Buffy jumped from the sofa with lightning speed, and went to the door, peering out through the diamond panes cautiously.  There were two or three young boys—teenagers, actually—on the porch, all in costume.  She thought she recognized the one who was pounding on the door.  She opened it, letting some irritation seep into her voice.  “Guys, Trick or Treat time is over, and you should definitely not be out this late.”

“Sorry, Miss Summers,” said the one dressed in swathes of bandages.  He stepped forward into the light.  “It’s me, Jason.”  He grinned.  He glanced back at the other two boys, who also stepped up.

Buffy recognized them both as recent visitors to her office.  “Billy, Vincent.”  She nodded to each of them.  “What are you guys doing out this late?  You know it’s not safe.” She turned her attention back to Jason.  “And how come you weren’t at school today, Mister Anderson?”

“I-I had to take care of something at home,” Jason explained hastily.  “And my mother just dropped us off down the street fifteen minutes ago, so we haven’t been out very long, and…and we wanted to make sure we stopped by your house, to…to…”  His eyes darted downward from her face, and then quickly back up, whereupon he grinned again.  “Who are you supposed to be, anyway?  Not that it’s a bad costume…”  He snuck another peek at her cleavage before glancing back at her face and grinning again.

Buffy didn’t know whether to be offended that he was checking out her stuff, or that he didn’t recognize the outfit.  “I’m Wonder Woman,” she explained as she would to a four-year-old.

The teens looked at her blankly and shrugged.  “Who?”

“You have got to be kidding,”  Buffy replied incredulously.  “Wonder Woman?  You have heard of Superman?  Batman and Robin?  Spiderman?” 

“Oh yeah,” Vincent piped up.  “We just saw Spiderman over the summer.  That redhead chick was hot.”

“Well, Wonder Woman was their pal, their contemporary.  Didn’t you ever watch the Cartoon Network?  The Justice League must be on in reruns.”

“Perhaps it’s because there isn’t a movie about her currently,”  Giles surmised from the living room.

“Huh.  That’s a possibility,”  Buffy agreed.  Then she got back to her original point.  “Really, you guys need to go home, it’s late, you never know what’s gonna sneak up on you on a night like this, and will you quit already with the looking down my top?!?”

All three pairs of eyes snapped back to her face and assumed identical innocent looks. 

Buffy sighed, and rolled her eyes. “Look boys, this is really not a good idea.”  She reached for the candy dish as she spoke.  “You can have some candy, but just go home, okay?  And lock your doors behind you.”  It might not be a busy night for the undead, but there was no sense in pushing it.  The boys stepped forward and she put a handful of sweets into each outstretched bag. 

“Um, Miss Summers?” Jason began. “Could we maybe use your phone?  It’ll only take a couple of minutes, I swear.  I’ll call my mother and have her pick us up right away.”  He smiled tentatively. 

“Alright, but make it quick,” Buffy answered without thinking.  “I’m kind of busy at the moment.”  She darted a glance over her shoulder at Giles, who had turned off the television and was getting up from the couch hastily as she let the boys in.

“Buffy?”  He queried.  “Do you know these boys?”  He looked a little anxious as he approached.  

“Oh, yeah, Giles—they’re from school.  No worries.”  She patted his arm with a smile, and was  overwhelmed again by his scent and her suddenly-pounding heart.   Her fingers tightened a little on his arm and she leaned in close, feeling a little dizzy.

“A-alright…if you’re sure…”  Giles replied, his eyes capturing her gaze.  He couldn’t even remember why he’d been nervous a moment ago, because of the warmth that spread from the place on his arm where she touched him outward to every corner of his body.  He shook his head, knowing it was important, but the thought slipped away again, and all he could see was Buffy.

“…be here any minute, Miss Summers.”

“Huh?”  Buffy turned to the sound of the voice, and remembered.  “Oh…oh yeah. You made your phone call already?”  The three boys were lined up by the door, watching expectantly.  “You’re welcome to wait out on the front step for her,”  she told them as she opened the door.  They filed out, and Jason turned to her with a smile.  “Thanks a lot Miss Summers.”  He glanced in at Giles, who had moved behind her.  “You two have fun, now.”  He winked, and followed his buddies down the stairs.

Buffy shut the door behind her and leaned back against it, releasing a sigh.  “That’s it, I’m turning off the porch light like I should’ve done two hours ago.”

Giles took a step back from Buffy, and if he’d been wearing his glasses, he’d have been wiping them with a handkerchief, which he also did not have at the moment.  His original thought had come back to him again.  What was the matter with him?  “Buffy,” he began, pushing his hand through his hair.  “What were you thinking when you invited those boys in?”

“It’s okay, Giles, I know them.”  But she knew what he was getting at, and her brow furrowed.  There was no “spidey sense tingle” when she saw them, right?  But then, all she could feel—even now—was heat and thick air and…Giles whenever she was anywhere within ten feet of her Watcher.  That wouldn’t interfere with her Slayer senses, would it?  Nah, there was no way she’d just invited a few teenage vampires into her house.  Besides, they’d left with nary a fang-flash.  Everything was cool.  “Don’t worry about it, Watcher mine.”  She shook her head with a grin.  “They’re typical teenage boys.  I just had proof of that.”

“Proof?”  Giles asked, walking back into the living room.

“Number one clue:  the ogling of my goodies.”

“P-pardon?”  Giles stuttered as his eyes went to the bowl next to the door.

“Not the candy, Giles.”

“Oh?  Oh…well, yes, of course.”  Giles blushed a little, and could not keep his own eyes from wandering down…just for a moment.  “But I wouldn’t be too hard on the boys, luv,” he told her, feeling a bit Ripper-ish again.  He stepped closer, and pitched his voice about an octave lower.  “My eyes have been fighting a losing battle with that bodice-line all night.”

“Wh-hat?  They have…?” Buffy stuttered, all at once feeling the floor drop out from under her feet.  ‘Did he just say what I think he said?’  Buffy suddenly found her thought processes to be somewhat impaired by the purr in Giles’ voice and that breathtaking thick-air-heart-pounding phenomenon that was assaulting her once again. “I mean, you’ve been ogling my goodies too?  A-all night?” 

Giles chuckled, and touched her cheek with his fingers.  “Well, if truth be told, I’ve been ‘ogling’, as you so charmingly put it, for much longer than just tonight.”  His fingertips ever-so-lightly traced the curve of her cheek as he spoke, and his stomach knotted when her eyelids fluttered closed and she leaned into his palm.

“You have?”  Buffy murmured, mesmerized as she opened her eyes again.  She looked up at him through her lashes, her eyes dark with growing anticipation.  “Like, since when?”  She watched as color suffused his face, and a slow smile spread across her mouth.  “It’s been since high school, hasn’t it?” 

“Mmm-hmm,”  Giles replied as his other hand slid up Buffy’s bare arm and over her shoulder.  Electricity sparked and popped between them as his thumb brushed her earlobe.

Buffy’s lips curled into a knowing grin.  “Giles, that is so…skanky.”  She closed the space between them, her heart hammering as reality faded away.  “What’s even skankier are the thoughts I’ve had about you since I was about sixteen…”

If Buffy had planned on elaborating on her confession, it abruptly became impossible now—what with Giles’ mouth covering hers with the hottest, steamiest, most sanity-erasing kiss of her life.  All the tension and electricity that had been building between them since Giles first appeared on her doorstep tonight coalesced and conflagrated until breathing seemed like a waste of precious time and her heart became one huge beat—it was no longer rhythmic, but chaotic;  her skin was no longer simply a covering for her flesh and bones, but a container for the joy and glory that was burning underneath them.  She’d been set on fire, and Rupert Giles was the arsonist.

Giles, for his part, was experiencing almost identical feelings of coming-apart:  every tiny sound that escaped Buffy’s throat fueled the incandescence  inside him;  every stroke of her tongue against his, every searing touch—it all combined to push him past reason, toward a glowing, shimmering…something, he knew not what.  He only knew that wherever Buffy Summers lead him, he would follow, and if they both ceased to be themselves and melted as one into the ecstatic light, then what else could he wish for?

And just as that thought formed, he knew there was something wrong with it.  He opened his eyes, becoming aware that he was kissing a spot just below Buffy’s clavicle.  He groaned, not wanting to pull his lips from the sweet flesh, but knowing he needed to think.  “Buffy…” he whispered hoarsely.

“Please, Giles…don’t stop…”  her hands, which had just finished pulling his shirt from the waistband of his pants, found their way underneath to the sensitive areas under his ribs. 

Giles gasped, but held on to the thread of sanity he’d found.  As Buffy’s lips and hands branded his skin, he cast his gaze around the room, finally resting on the floor by the front door before he was distracted by her lips again.

If he’d closed his eyes right then, he might have missed the faint, throbbing glow that caught his eye, down at the corner of the doorway.  A thought occurred to him, and he gently disentangled himself from Buffy’s embrace, focusing on the spot.  “What…?”

He left Buffy standing in the middle of the room, panting, as he moved to stand by the front door.  Yes, there it was—a tiny bundle of herbs and petals, tied together with some sort of natural fiber twine.  He picked it up, sniffed it carefully.  The scent was surprisingly strong, and it set off a wild flush throughout his entire body.  “No wonder…” he mused aloud as he identified each of the ingredients.  Then he tensed and uttered a mild curse.  “Willow…” 

Buffy stood like a statue for a few moments before her brain registered that Giles was no longer holding her against him, or even anywhere near her.  Her gaze immediately snapped to his as he looked up from the corner, and with some effort she suppressed the wave of heat that flooded her.    “What?   Did you say something about Willow?”  She met him at the door and Giles held the tiny bundle out to her.  She could smell it from where she was and Giles saw her pupils dilate before she visibly got control of herself.

“What is it?  It smells strange.  Like…magic.”  Giles nodded.  “Did Willow cast a lo—a  spell?”  She immediately remembered the sneaky behavior at the door earlier that evening…and by the bedroom window yesterday.   “She did, didn’t she.”  Buffy exhaled loudly, then went to the couch and flopped down on it.  “I should have known…what was she thinking?  She needs to be more careful.”  She glanced up at Giles and remembered the uber-passionate clinch they’d been in not sixty seconds ago.  She reddened and then blanched, suddenly wishing she could press herself to the inside of the couch.   “And that means you…we did something…you’d never…geez, I’m such an idiot…”

Giles immediately moved to her side.  “ Buffy, no—don’t even think it.”  He held up the bundle, and now that he knew what it was, he felt a little more in control.  “This was a spell, yes.  For which Willow will have to answer, by the way.”  He stopped for a moment to pinch the bridge of his nose.  “But it wasn’t…that is, I believe it’s purpose is to clarify that which is…confused, or not out in the open, something that’s already there.” His face became thoughtful. “Plus, there must’ve been some extra dragonwort thrown in, which would explain the extreme heat and inability to breathe…”

“You noticed that too?”  Buffy ventured.  “What about the simultaneous heartbeats?

“That was more likely from the foxglove.”

“Oh.”

Buffy began to look a little less like crawling under a rock, and Giles continued, “The Latin name of the spell translates to:  ‘all doors and windows are thrown open to the light of truth.’”  He lowered his head and chuckled ironically.  “Obviously I’ve been keeping something from you… and from myself.” “   His gaze shot up to hers again as another thought occurred to him.  “And perhaps…”

Buffy arrived at the same realization.  “…Maybe I’ve been keeping something from you too?”  She met his gaze, feeling calmer for the first time that night.  “I think you’re right.”  She took the bundle from him and stared at it for a minute.  “How do you break this spell?  Because I don’t want my feelings to be dictated by a magic dust bunny.” 

“Untie the twine and let the components fall to the ground.  That should do it.”  

Buffy did so, and repeated the task at each door and window in the house.  It was 15 minutes before she and Giles sat back down,  at opposite ends of the couch.

“So…”

“Um…yes, quite.”

Silence.

“Giles, this is ridiculous.  Obviously we need to…talk.  Have words.”

“I agree completely,” Giles replied, a slight smile hovering around his mouth.

More silence.

“So…”

“I believe we’ve already covered that territory.”

Buffy struggled for words, and none were forthcoming.  She’d been given a revelation and she began to feel really stupid just sitting there saying nothing.  Finally in frustration, she got up from the end of the sofa and sat down again, inches away from Giles.  He had stopped smiling, and a crease appeared between his brows, the first sign of growing worry.  Buffy, wanting least of all to let him build his wall between them again, laid one palm on his thigh, and the other against his cheek.  She stared into his  eyes, and found she could not look away from the emotion that kaleidoscoped behind them.  “Giles…” She sighed, dropping her hand from his face.  “I don’t know where to start.”

Giles took her hand in his, the worry disappearing from his face.  “Neither do I.”  He smiled again. “Why don’t we just start together, right here, and see where we end up?”

“That sounds like a good plan,” Buffy replied, returning his smile.  She leaned forward and he met her halfway for a kiss—sweet, slow, and full of promise.  “Ah,” she said as they broke apart. “No pounding heartbeats.”

“And it’s so much easier to breathe.”

Buffy laughed and laid her head on Giles’ shoulder, wrapping her arms around his middle.  She snuggled there for a moment, relishing the feel of his arms around her.

Several minutes ticked by as they both simply sat there, listening to each other’s breathing, each getting accustomed to the feel of being so close to the other—and thinking forward to the eventual time when they’d be getting much closer.  

“So, Giles,” Buffy finally said.  “Why don’t you tell me about those high school ogling moments you had back when I was jailbait.” 

Giles grinned.  “You know, I only looked when you wore those tops with the plunging necklines…”

“I don’t think I owned a top that didn’t plunge, Giles.”

“Precisely.”

“You really are a dirty old man, aren’t you?” Buffy laughed, pulling back and giving him a playful slap on the arm.  A little less playfully than she had intended, alas.

“Ow!”  Giles exclaimed, rubbing his arm and giving her a look of mock reproach.

“Oops, sorry,” Buffy smiled sheepishly, patting his arm gently.

“Actually,” Giles continued, “I hardly ever had the time or the inclination to ogle, what with your tendency towards rebellion and stubbornness.”  He smiled at her to soften the words.

“Well, to be honest, I can only remember a few times I let my thoughts about you get kinky, what with your tendency to drink tea and be all stuffy…”

“Oh, I’m stuffy, am I?” Giles challenged, and pulled Buffy into a strong embrace.

“Very, very stuffy, I’m afraid,” Buffy teased. 

“What can I do to convince you otherwise?” he replied, dropping his voice to a near-growl.

Buffy groaned.  “Ooh…you can keep talking to me like that, for starters.”

“Hmm…how about if I do this instead…?”  he replied as he tilted her face up to his, their lips scant inches apart.

Whereupon the doorbell rang.

“Bollocks.”

“Yeah.”

*****

“Are you sure they’re here?  The porch light is off.”

“Buffy told me she was staying in tonight for the trick-or-treaters, and Giles was planning on coming straight here after he unpacked at the hotel.  Anyway, the lamp in the living room is on, so they’re probably in there.”

Xander stopped short. “You don’t think we’ll be…interrupting…something?” 

“Nah,” Willow reassured her him. “It’s only been a few hours.  Even with a spell, they couldn’t have gotten that far…I don't think...”

They approached the front door and Willow rang the doorbell.  She heard a soft British curse, and then footsteps to the door.  It swung open, revealing an annoyed Slayer.

“What…?” Buffy practically yelled, then realized who it was at her door.  “Oh, hi guys.” She smiled—a big, scary smile. “Willow.  You’re so very much the person I wanted to talk to.”  She grabbed the witch by the arm and dragged her inside.  Xander followed quickly.

Buffy escorted Willow into the living room where Giles waited.

“Hey Giles,” Willow ventured somewhat timidly.

“G-Man!” Xander greeted Giles with a handshake.  “Good to see you.  Didn’t know you were coming.”  He glanced warily between the Watcher and Buffy. “Getting in some quality Watcher/Slayer time?” He smiled nervously.

“Xander, thank you,” Giles replied smoothly. “It was all decided upon so quickly that I only had time to contact Willow.  And yes, Buffy and I have been…er…”

“Watching movies,” Buffy finished. “Among other things…” She added under her breath.

Giles cut to the chase.  “Willow, I believe you have some explaining to do.”  He reached into his pocket and pulled out a handful of herbs, holding it out where she could see it. 

“So…you found my little spell, huh?”  Willow said apprehensively.  “Emphasis on the little, by the way.”  She began chewing her bottom lip.

Buffy held out her own handful of herbs.  “Willow, we found these at every door and window.  I wouldn’t exactly call it a little spell.”  She stared hard at her friend for a minute.  “It may have put me and Giles in danger, since the effects pretty much cancelled out my Slayer senses.  I actually invited three almost-strangers into my house because I couldn’t think straight.”

Willow’s eyes grew wide. “Oh, Buffy…”

“It’s okay, Will, they evidently weren’t vampires—they just wanted to use the phone.”

“Still, you might want to de-invite them, just to be safe,” Xander suggested. 

“Yes, that’s probably a good idea,” Giles affirmed.  “Do you have everything you need here, Buffy?”

“I think so…Willow usually keeps that stuff in her room…”

“Along with the love spell ingredients, I presume?” Xander quipped.

“It wasn’t a love spell!” Willow insisted.  “Those things never go well, as you know.” She gave him a withering look.  “The one I cast was for clarification.  Well, and I added a couple ingredients to personalize the experience…”

“Ah…the dragonwort and foxglove,” Giles acknowledged with some interest.

“Yeah,” said Willow, “I learned that from my NA class.  What did you think of the effects?”  She asked eagerly, as if he were giving an objective critique.

“Well, it was rather…” Giles began, forgetting for a moment that his wasn’t an objective opinion.

“Freaky in a mind controlling way, I know you were going to say!” Buffy interjected, glaring at Giles.  Then she glared at Willow again.  “This isn’t a spells lesson, Willow.  You messed around with some serious stuff…”

“I did not mess around, Buffy!”  Willow replied with some fervor.  “You guys are treating me like you did when I was a-a magic junkie.”  She sat down in the armchair.  “I’m not like that anymore.  Things are so different to me now—magic is different to me now.”  She looked up at Buffy, a silent plea in her eyes.  “You’ve got to believe me.”

Buffy sighed heavily.  “Tell me then, Will.  Please explain to me so that I can understand, so that I know that you’re not trying to get all control-happy again.  Can you do that?”

Willow looked her friend in the eye. “Yes, I can.”  Uncertainty crossed her face.  “I think I can, anyway.”  She fiddled with the hem on her cape.  “I learned so much those months in England.  One thing I learned there is to listen to the earth--she always knows what’s going on.  At least on a large scale.

“When Giles told me about the prophecy, I knew before he did that it meant the complete soul and body unification of the Watcher and the Slayer.  I always knew that there was a special…bond between you two.  And when Giles came back last year, even though I was…well, even then I noticed that the bond had strengthened.  You looked at him with new eyes, it seemed like, and he did the same with you.  I know you and he kept in touch the whole time he was in England with me.  I wasn’t positive that it was love, but when Giles told me that the Council was sending him back to Sunnydale because of the prophecy, I had to do something, and I asked the earth to help me. 

“The earth showed me her connections—to nature, to humanity.  She showed me the connections between all three together and to each other separately.  One of the connections that showed up the most, and the strongest, was the one between the Slayer and the earth and nature…and the thing that bound them together was a golden chain, and it came from the Watcher.”

Buffy and Giles looked at each other over Willow’s head and each felt the truth of what she was saying, and saw it reflected in the others’ eyes.

“The earth doesn’t give such clear visions without you having to do something with the information,”  Willow continued.  “I saw in an instant what part I needed to play, because in that vision, I also saw the walls you each had built around yourselves.  Each one was created to shut out pain, but it also shut out your ability to actually see each other the way you needed to be seen.  My spell was made to break down those walls.  You had to be able to see.”  She stopped, thinking she was finished. 

And then she felt a glowing inside her.  Her eyes flashed and turned an incandescent green as she stood from the chair.  Her hair whipped around her face in an unseen wind.  “Watcher…Slayer,” her voice came, not from just her throat, but from all around her, and seemed to rumble the earth under their feet.  “You must unite.  The forces from below are approaching, and they devour from beneath you.  You…Must…Unite…”  Willow felt the glow recede, and with it her ability to stand, and she collapsed to the ground.

Xander reached her first.  “Willow?  Will, are you okay?”  He slid his arm around her shoulders and helped her to a sitting position.  Buffy knelt on the floor beside her, lending her support.

“Yeah…I-I think so,” Willow replied, her voice small and unsteady.  She clung to Xander’s arm as he helped her up to the chair.  “Giles…I saw it again…the blackness…the teeth…” She looked up at the Watcher. “The Hellmouth is going to open soon.”

“Do you have any idea when?”  Giles asked softly, rubbing the bridge of his nose. 

“No.  Just that it’s…closer.”

Buffy, agitated, sat down heavily on the sofa.  “What did you mean when you said that Giles and I must unite?  That seemed pretty important.”  She looked over at Giles.  “You told me that you found something in a prophecy that the Watcher and Slayer had to unite.”  She considered him for a moment.  “It didn’t just say that we needed to have one mind and one purpose, did it?” 

“No, it didn’t,” Giles returned her gaze steadily. 

“Okay then.  I guess Willow’s off the hook…”

For the third time that night, the doorbell rang unexpectedly.  Buffy huffed as she stood.  “It’s almost midnight.  What are these kids doing out so late?”  She was muttering to herself as she peered out the door.  The porch light was off, and nothing moved outside the door.  “Great,” she huffed again, turning back to the living room. 

…Just as the door crashed in. 

Trick or treat!”  the intruder called, grinning widely.  It was Jason, and he was joined by his two buddies. “On second thought,” Jason said as his face vamped out, “make that just ‘Trick’.”

Buffy rolled her eyes.  “Don’t you guys know that you’re supposed to be…I don’t know, playing kitten poker or something tonight?”  She put her hands on her hips in a classic Wonder Woman pose.  “This was supposed to be my night off.  And now, you’re gonna pay.” She glanced at the broken door.  “For starters, having that door re-hung is gonna be wicked expensive.”

The teenage vampires snorted in unison.  “Ooooh, threats from the girl in a bathing suit.”  Jason stepped forward, snickering. His hand darted out lightning-fast and grabbed Buffy’s throat.  “You know, you give a guy ideas when you wear stuff like that.”

Buffy grabbed the vampire by the arm and heaved him over her shoulder, throwing him to the ground.  “Don’t even get me started on the utter stupidness of that sexist statement.” Buffy paused, looking up at Giles and grinning.  “Ooh…did you hear that? Alliteration.  I alliterated.”  She beamed at him

Giles, who had opened the weapons box when the door crashed in, grabbed several stakes, passing them out to the others.  “Yes, yes, very good, but you might want one of these?” He tossed the piece of wood to her.  She caught it handily.

“Thanks!”

Jason was back on his feet in moments, and advanced with the other two vamps toward Buffy.  He threw the first punch and the others followed, Buffy returning blow for blow and landing several kicks.

“Hey, now—three against one just doesn’t seem fair,” Willow said to Xander as they inched closer. 

“No, it really doesn’t.”  Xander replied.  “What do you think we should do about it?  He leaned over the weapons locker and grabbed a mace, looking back at Willow.

“Well, distraction is a time-honored option,” said Willow. “Giles, what do you think?”

“Good plan.  Distract them.” 

With that, he lunged toward the nearest vamp, rolling them both into the foyer.  Xander and Willow took on another, leaving Buffy with Jason.  Her fist connected with his chin. 

“So, Will…about that ‘little spell’…?”  She drawled over her shoulder as Jason staggered backwards. Buffy kicked him hard in the chest and sent him sprawling against the wall where his head hit it with a crack.

“I’m sorry!”  Willow retorted as she swung wildly at the vamp’s face.  The blow just glanced off, but Xander’s landed with a satisfying thud.  “I didn’t know it would make you stupid enough to invite strangers into the house!”  She found herself quickly on her backside as the vamp threw her, and backhanded Xander into the wall.  “Xander!” she cried, and her head snapped up, eyes black.

Xander saw her gathering power as he regained his footing.  “Will, no!” he almost shouted as he raised the mace.  “Let’s take care of this the old fashioned way, okay?” He swung at the vampire’s head and connected with an audible crunching sound.

Meanwhile, Giles had moved back into the living room, locked in a wrestling hold with his stronger, but smaller, opponent. They rolled until Giles’ head crashed into the table with the bowl of candy, which tipped over, raining candy onto him and the floor where they continued to struggle. 

Buffy, hearing the crash, took a moment to make sure Giles was still holding his own, and then turned quickly to face the boy who’d taken advantage of her kindness. He was struggling back to his feet, clearly having second thoughts about taking on the girl he thought was just his high school counselor.

“Being undead…so not a career,” Buffy remarked, catching her breath. “How?”

For just a moment Jason looked almost human, even with the bumps. “Back of the Bronze. I went out for a smoke…they were waiting…”

Buffy shook her head. “You should have concentrated more on your homework, Jason, and less on partying at the Bronze…” Her nose wrinkled up. “And didn’t anyone ever tell you smoking kills?”  She readied herself as Jason charged her again with renewed vigor.  They bounced off a wall, smashing a table lamp as feet and fists flew.

Just then Giles’ vamp crashed into the weapons locker, which rolled on onto its side, spilling its contents. The Watcher immediately had the presence of mind to grab the training saber that fell at his feet and whipped the training point off. 

The other vampire grabbed a sword and raised it in challenge to the Watcher.   A slow, predatory grin spread across Giles’ mouth, and he raised his saber in a classic salute before he dropped it again and lunged forward. The teen vampire gamely managed several clumsy blocks and made a couple of abortive attempts to parry before Giles pinned him against the wall, blade to his throat.

“Didn’t think an old guy like you could put up this much fight,” the teen vamp sneered, and focused for the first time on Giles’ Halloween outfit. “Who are you supposed to be, anyway?”

“Take a guess,” Giles replied through clenched teeth, stepping back before the vamp could blink. He slashed twice at the vamp’s shirt before the vamp moved again, blocking Giles’ last cut, but within a couple of flurries of clashing swords, Giles had slashed again.

The vampire paused to look down at the very obvious ‘Z’ carved by the razor sharp blade in both his shirt and his skin, blood already seeping into the fabric.  He looked up, a look of realization dawning.  “Oh, I get it…you’re  Zor—“

One more slash of the blade cut the teenage vampire off in mid-word, showering Giles with dust. “Old guy indeed,” he sniffed, brushing dust out of his hair and off his collar.

Willow and Xander were still struggling with their vampire, who had grabbed the mace from Xander and was swinging away.

Buffy, who had just sent the Jason-vamp to the floor, turned her attention quickly to her two friends as Giles approached Jason with the saber.

“Um, excuse me,” she said as she grabbed the other vampire from behind.  He shook her off, annoyed, but was distracted from Willow and Xander.  He swung the mace at her, which Buffy grabbed and threw across the room.  “Does the word ‘Slayer’ mean anything to you, lame-o?”

The vampire’s eyes grew wide as saucers as Buffy raised her stake.  He managed to block her for a few moments, but the Slayer emerged victorious once again. 

Buffy dusted herself quickly before turning her attention back to Giles and Jason.  The vampire had managed to disarm Giles and they were rolling around on the floor, Jason’s mouth open and lunging for Giles’ throat.  Buffy threw herself at the vampire, prying him off Giles.  The Watcher stayed on the floor, trying to catch his breath. 

“You okay, Giles?” asked Buffy as she stood, dragging the vampire up with her.  When Giles gave an affirmative nod, she turned her attention back to Jason, planting him a facer.  The vampire returned the favor, but fear had replaced his earlier bravado. “Who are you?”  he demanded as he struggled, finally throwing Buffy off.  He inched toward the front door.

Buffy grinned ferally . “Allow me to introduce myself.  I’m Buffy…the vampire Slayer.”  She emphasized the last word.

“You…you’re the Slayer?” he asked incredulously. “But you’re so little…and so skinny!”

“Oh, I assure you she is,” the Watcher chipped in tiredly, raising himself on one arm.

Buffy glared, and closed the space between her and the vampire in a second.  She pinned the Jason-vamp to the wall, her stake raised for the kill.  “I may be skinny,” she said, noting the abject fear on the vamp’s face,  “but at least I can’t fit inside a Dust Buster.” 

The vampire’s face changed as Buffy spoke, getting bumpier and uglier, and the look of fear was abruptly replaced by a challenging one.  Jason—or whatever he was channeling now—laughed, and his yellow eyes went black.  “You have no idea what’s coming,” he told her. “But the Mouth of Hell is going to open…and…”

“Yeah, yeah,” Buffy interrupted.  “From beneath me it devours.”  She plunged the stake into its heart, and a cloud of dust blossomed and settled to the ground.  “I’ve heard that one before.”

She stood for a moment, looking out the front door into the darkness.  Everything was surprisingly still.  She sighed.  “Willow…Xander…”she said, turning back into the living room.  They both looked up at her from the floor.   “Will you guys go get Dawn? She’s at Janice’s tonight, but I’d rather she were home…just to be safe.”

Xander approached the door, Willow following behind.  “She won’t be too happy about that.”

“I don’t care,” Buffy replied, more forcefully than she’d intended.  She continued in a softer tone, “She’ll understand, eventually.”

“Um, Buffy…?” Willow ventured.  “I was planning on crashing on Xander’s couch tonight, just to give you and…” her eyes darted into the living room.  “Well, anyway, we could keep Dawn with us tonight, if you don’t mind.” 

Buffy allowed herself a small smile.  “You had my whole night planned out, didncha, Will?”  The smile faded, and she shooed her friends out of the house.  “Go.  Find my sister.  Keep her safe, okay?

“We will.”

Buffy released a sigh as Xander’s car pulled away from the curb, and she turned back into the house and shut the door.  That familiar tightness was growing in her belly, the one she got when she finished a good slay.  The adrenaline continued to pump, and her stomach growled.  She shut the door and turned back into the house, her palms tingling.  Usually she went to the kitchen for a marathon session with Haagen-Daas and chocolate fudge, but the sound of Giles groaning and moving slowly to stand brought her quickly to his side.

“Are you okay?”  She turned her face up to his and her arm went around his back as she helped him to the sofa.  A couple of lamps had been knocked over, so the room was almost pitch dark, except for the flickering candles in the corner, miraculously untouched by the melee. 

“Well…my evening wouldn’t be complete…without a little…head trauma,” he replied, wincing as he moved.  He sat down in the middle of the sofa, and Buffy pressed herself next to him, inspecting his face and head for any serious injury.  In the semi-darkness she could just barely make out a darker shape over his right brow. “Do you want me to get the emergency kit?”

Giles shook his head, then moaned and cradled his head in his hand. 

Buffy tsked over him. “At least I could get you some pain killers…”  A giggle escaped her throat as she finally noticed the other side of his face.  “Giles, you won the battle with the vampire, but I think you lost it with the Dots.”  She snickered again, and then had a devilishly fun idea.

“What…?”  he began, slightly annoyed at her obvious amusement at his pain.  Then he sucked in his breath as he felt lips, teeth, and tongue against his cheek. “Buffy, what are you doing?” he gasped hoarsely.  The blood that had been pounding in his head was redirected like lightning to his nether regions, and the aches and pains from the fight seemed to melt away.  ‘Testosterone is a beautiful thing,’ he thought fleetingly.

“Giles?”  Buffy whispered against his throat as she ate off another piece of candy that had stuck there.  “Remember I told you how I get after a good fight?”  She licked the area she’d just cleaned and her Watcher groaned.  “How I’m either really hungry…” she lowered her head to his breastbone and nipped off another Dot,  “…or really, really horny?”  She paused, chewing.  “Yum, a red one.  My favorite.”

“Buffy…”Giles grated.  He was completely in her power, no spell needed. 

“Well guess what?” she went on, seeking out more sugary delights further down his chest.  The lacings on his black shirt were history in short order.  Giles felt his control slipping away, and he grasped her firmly by the arms.  In seconds he became the aggressor, pinning her back against the couch cushions.  She giggled again, but her eyes sparked fire.

Giles paused over her, for a moment entranced.  In all his dreams, she was never this beautiful and alive.  He lowered his lips over hers, taking just a taste, then levered himself off of her.  Buffy moaned loudly in protest.  “Giles…”

“Just a moment, luv…one moment.”  He rummaged around behind the oversized chair, and when he came back up he had his hands full of something.  Kneeling by the side of the couch, he bent close to his Slayer’s face.  “Close your eyes.”

She obeyed, her lips parting as her breathing accelerated.  Then she felt something soft and squishy sticking to her cheek, then her throat, and then…

She opened her eyes to see her beloved Watcher licking the bottom of a Dot as he prepared to stick it…who knew where.  He grinned at her, and put the little candy right where she hoped he would.

“You didn’t think to have all the fun, did you?”  He said, and bent down to lick off the first Dot.  Then he sprinkled the rest of the handful over her and crawled up on the couch beside her, molding her body to his.

“Ooh, Giles,” Buffy breathed, feeling his arousal. “Is that Mister Gordo in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?”

“Would you like to find out?”  Giles growled, moving against her as his mouth blazed a path over her cheek and down her throat. 

Buffy groaned. “Question answered.”

THE END

 
 

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