the bunny warren v. Faith

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All of Me

Author: Venus Blue
Written: April 19, 2005
Summary: Lindsey returns to the woman he loves, but she doesn't want him back.
Rating: G
Timeline: AU set before Hush in Season 4.
Disclaimer: Joss, Mutant, and Fox own all. I own nothing. Capice?
Distribution: Lists that archive. My site. Anyone who wants, ask.
Author's Notes: Written for Nora for the livejournal meme wherein people pick icons and I write drabble/fic based upon them. This fic is based on a manipulated icon featuring Lindsey and Tara with the caption "You still have all of me".

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"Why did you come here?"

Lindsey looked away from the angry blonde, his face contorting in pain as he surveyed her modest dorm room.

"I just...I wanted to see how you're doing. How college life is working for you."

"It's fine," Tara said, fighting to keep her voice calm and her stutter away. "I'm fine. And I don't believe that's why you're here."

He cleared his throat, rocking slightly on the heels of his boots before murmuring, "I miss you."

Tara swallowed roughly, turning from him and walking to her desk.

"You have no right to do this to me. You were the one who lied."

"I didn't-"

"Yes, you did. Don't try to deny it now."

He came up behind her, and Tara spun around.

"Don't."

He put his hand down, and she said, "It's been over a year, Lindsey. A year since I found out what you do for a living. What your law firm wanted to do to me."

"I didn't have any part of that!"

"It doesn't matter!" she cried, cursing herself for getting upset. In a quieter tone, she said, "It doesn't matter. You should have told me what your job was really about, and you didn't. And that's worse than lying."

Lindsey opened his mouth to protest, then closed it. Sitting down on the edge of her bed, he gripped the edges of the mattress and said, "So, what? I have to forget about you? Forget about how much you mean to me?"

Fighting back tears, Tara crossed her arms and looked down at him.

"I'm so tired, Lindsey. So tired of missing you, and loving you. I'm slowly starting to move on, to get on with my life, but I can't do that if you're still around. I wish you would just *leave*."

"You haven't seen me since-"

"That's not what I mean," she said, her voice quivering. "I wish you would leave my mind. No matter how long it's been, your still with me. I'm so alone, but I can't..."

"Please don't cry, Tara," he pleaded, seemingly fighting the urge to stand. "I can't stand to see you cry, I never could."

"Well, I don't have much choice in that," she laughed bitterly. "It's a woman thing."

He stood then, moving slowly to her. She turned from him, wrapping her arms tightly around herself, but he hugged her anyway, enveloping her in his arms. She fought a little, then gave in, not returning the hug, but resting her face in his shoulder, crying openly. Her whispered softly, "Do you remember the first time we met?"

She snorted derisively, and he said, "I'm serious. When you dropped your purse outside that coffee shop, and everyone just walked by?"

"Shoulder bag. Not a purse."

"When I helped you pick all of your things up, and you looked up and thanked me, I thought I was seeing an angel. I thought God had sent you to teach me a lesson for being such a bad person."

Tara muttered, "That's pretty extreme."

"The point is," he continued, pulling her hair away from her face and rocking her softly, "you made me want to be a better person. And I tried, so hard for you. But I only ended up hurting you more. And I will never forgive myself for that."

She pulled back, and he wiped the tears from her face.

"I shouldn't have come back."

"No, you shouldn't have."

"I won't anymore. I'll let you move on."

"Thank you."

She raised herself slightly, and softly kissed his cheek.

He moved for the door, and turned.

"No matter what, Tara? You'll always have the best of me."

She smiled sadly and said, "You'll always have all of me."

[End]


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BTVS in the Hands of an Insomniac

Author: Venus Blue
Written: June of 2001
Summary: I haven’t slept in 48 hours. I’m incredibly wired, and I want to write a fic. Craziness in Sunnydale as only a Bunny Goddess can do it. This makes no sense, I’m aware of that fact. Enjoy.
Rating: PG
Spoilers: General. Who knows what my mind will come up with?
Feedback: You know it. Please no flames, though I can handle a simple, "Wow…you’re insane." I’m used to that.
Disclaimer: Joss and company, who actually get sleep at night and therefore never have this much fun, own everything.
Awards: View, View 2nd Award

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"BUFFY!!!!!!!!!!"

Buffy was patrolling the cemeteries one night when she heard her name yelled really really loud. Looking up, she saw Willow skipping toward her with a big pink furby strapped to her shoulder.

"Hey, Buff. Watcha doin’?"

"Nothing. Just patrolling for the big scaries."

"Well, I guess that’s a good thing, ‘cause there’s one right behind ya."

Spinning around, Buffy saw a goldfish running up to her, teeth bared. Pulling out her honey baked ham, she stabbed it in the eye, and it turned to dust.

"Good job."

"Thanks."

"I guess we’re done here, huh?"

"Yep. Let’s find something else to do."

So they joined hands and began to skip again, singing tra la la as they made their way to The Bronze. When they got there, the doorman asked for covercharge, and they each handed him one turnip.

"Now, now. Do I look like I was born yesterday?"

Buffy turned to Willow and said, "Guess we can’t put anything past him."

Reluctantly, they handed over three pencils each.

"That’s what I thought."

Inside, the place was kicking. Couples were dancing madly on the dance floor, and a new band, The Singing Bullfrogs, were pounding away on their instruments on stage.

Willow and Buffy saw Xander and Anya sitting at a mushroom, and the quickly joined them.

"Hey, guys," Xander said. "Want a sip of my soda?"

"What kind?"

"Sneaker flavored."

"Nah. I’ll always prefer shampoo."

Xander nodded and said, "Oh, look, Angel’s here."

And guess what? Angel was there.

"Angel! Old Buddy!" Xander said, jumping up and hugging him. "How ya been?"

"I been great Xander. How about you?"

"Oh, man, I’m great! Haven’t seen you in awhile!"

"I know! I missed ya, buddy!"

Buffy rolled her eyes and said, "Oh, look! Spike’s here!"

Just then, whaddya know? Spike walked up!

"Hey everybody!"

"Spike!" Buffy said, walking over to him. "I missed you."

"Oh, lay off, Summers," Spike said, sitting next to Anya. "I’m tired of you fawning all over me all the time. I don’t like you."

"But, Spike! I love you!"

"You can’t love me. You’re a pez dispenser. Pez dispensers can’t love anyone!"

"Oh, but we can! I loved Angel!"

Looking over, Angel said, "Yeah, but I never loved you. I was only using you for your slightly bitter tasting candies."

"Doesn’t anyone love me?"

"I love you," Owen from "Never Kill a Boy on the First Date" said, coming out of the shadows. "You’re the coolest."

"Oh, wah," Buffy said, throwing her drink at Warren from "I was Made to Love You." "You only love me ‘cause I almost got you killed."

Willow patted Buffy on the arm and said, "There, there."

Just then Tara walked in and said, "Willow! I’m here to tell you we have to go do a spell, so that we can slip away and go have sex."

"Right! Let’s go do that spell!"

And with that, she left.

"Say, Angel, want to go shoot some pool?"

"Sure thing, buddy! Let’s go!"

And then they left.

Giles came in, cigarette in one hand, beer in the other, and said, "Buffy, you’re in my seat."

"Sorry, Ripper."

Standing up, Buffy moved away and sat on the box of cereal across from Drusilla, who had just appeared from thin air.

"Say, Anya? Have you seen Cordelia lately?"

"Last I heard, she’d run off to Paris with a chaos demon."

"Ooh, Chaos demons," Drusilla said as she painted her fingernails red with white tips. "They’re fun. All slime and antlers."

Suddenly, Olaf the Troll appeared, and proceeded to bash everyone in the Bronze over the head with his hammer. Buffy watched, a bored expression on her face.

"God, doesn’t anything interesting happen in this town?"

And somewhere, in a land far, far away, an insomniac bunny goddess giggled madly.

~The End


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Better with Age

Author: Venus Blue
Written: August 22, 2004
Summary: Buffy realizes her feelings for Riley are waning in favor of another.
Rating: NC-17, baby
Pairing: Buffy/Giles. Forgive me for the Buffy/Riley in the beginning.
Timeline: Sometime in the beginning of Season 5, around the time of The Real Me.
Disclaimer: Joss Whedon, 20th Century Fox, Mutant Enemy, blah blah blah copyright cakes.
Distribution: My site. Lists that archive. Possibly FF.net if I get really bored. Want it? Ask me. Haven't said no yet.
Author’s Note: Written for manic1066 for the allthejellies Smut Ficathon. She wanted a Joyce freak-out, a Riley punch-out, and no Spike. All three requests are very much something I can live with. Much love and thanks to Meltha for the beta, and for everything.

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“Buffy?”

“Yes, Giles?”

“I need to tell you something.”

“What is it?”

“I can’t breathe.”

“Oh.”

Taking her hand off his throat, she backed away as he leaned over to catch his breath.

“It’s been far too long since we’ve trained,” he said breathlessly. “I’m out of shape.”

“Nah. You’re just getting old.”

Glaring, he raised himself up to full height and motioned her forward. With a slight smirk, she came at him. Sidestepping her, he grabbed the back of her neck and pulled her arm back, flipping her to the ground. She landed with a grunt, and he stood over her.

“Old?”

“Well-aged,” she amended, leaping up and taking out his legs with a roundhouse sweep.

Landing on his back, he groaned loudly and winced, his face contorted in pain.

“Giles? Are you okay?”

“Yes,” he managed, sitting up gingerly. “Just…well-aged.”

Reaching out for his hand, she helped him to his feet.

“Need a break?” she asked, smiling sweetly.

“Maybe a short one.”

They sat down on the side bench of the training room, and Giles tossed her a bottle of water. Running a towel over the back of his neck, he asked, “Did you read the books I suggested to you last week?”

“I read one of them, the one about slayer training through the ages.”

“And what did you think?”

“Barbaric.”

“Some of them. Others do have some merit.”

“Okay, but if you come at me with bamboo shoots and a bowie knife, don’t expect me to take it lightly.”

Giles chuckled and took a long drink of his water.

“What does Riley think of all this training?”

Buffy sighed and stretched her back muscles.

“He’s throwing his temper tantrums. He says over and over that he understands and supports me, but then in the next breath he’s whining about not being able to spend time with me.”

“That’s to be expected. I’m sure it’s terribly frustrating.”

“You have no idea. I mean, I know where he’s coming from with this, but…” she trailed off and stood up.

“So how’s your love life, Giles?”

That brought out a full-belly laugh.

“Non-existent. But I think the nice lady at the book store down the street has been flirting with me.”

“The woman with the twitch?”

“No, the one with the mole.”

“Ah. She seems…nice.”

Giles smiled at her and said, “Shall we continue?”

“Yeah.”

As they sparred, Buffy couldn’t keep her concentration. Giles took her down twice on what should have been easy blocks, and she missed a perfect opportunity to take him down.

Lowering his padded hands, he looked at her quizzically.

“Guess I’m just tired.”

“We’ve only been training for a few hours.”

“I know, but I didn’t sleep well. I think I’ll just go patrol, and get some rest.”

Putting his hand on her shoulder, he frowned and asked, “You’re sure you’re okay?”

“I’m fine. Sun goes down in two hours, so I guess I can give Riley some attention.”

“Alright. I’ll see you tomorrow, then?”

“Right.”

She grabbed her bag and left the store.


**********************


“You really want to go here?” Riley asked incredulously.

“Just to have a look.”

Riley held the door open for her, and Buffy entered the bookstore. Sweeping her eyes around, she headed towards the shelves, Riley keeping up a constant flow of conversation behind her.

“So, I was thinking maybe we could see a movie tomorrow, before you go on patrol. They have that new Kate Hudson movie at the mall, and I know you were wanting to see it.”

Buffy grazed her eyes over the shelves in front of her, casually picking up one after another then returning it almost immediately, barely looking at it.

“So, what do you think?”

“About what?”

“Were you even listening to me?”

“When?”

“Buffy.”

“I’m sorry, Riley, I’m distracted. What did you say?”

“You, me, movies tomorrow?”

“Sure,” she mumbled, moving to the next aisle. Grabbing a book from the shelf, she headed back to the front.

“Uh, Buffy? Should I…know something?”

“What?”

He motioned to the book in her hand, and she looked down. She was holding a copy of _What to Expect When You’re Expecting_. Looking up at his ashen face, she smiled and quickly said, “It’s for a class.”

“Ah.”

Walking up to the register, Buffy took a good look at the woman behind the counter.

“Is this going to be all for you today?”

She nodded. The woman was attractive enough, if she got rid of that thing on her face. She had red hair, a pretty face, and a big smile.

“Ma’am?”

“What?”

“I said that’s going to be $9.34.”

“Oh!” Buffy pulled a $10 bill from her pocket and handed it to her. The woman gave her the change and wished her a good day. Buffy mumbled her thanks and quickly left the store.

“What was that all about?”

“What?”

“You’re acting very strange.”

“I’m just tired is all.”

“Want me to patrol for you?”

“Well…yes, actually. Yes, please.”

He hugged her tightly, kissing her. She smiled up at him and said, “See you later.”

He set off for the cemetery, and Buffy sighed deeply, heading in the opposite direction.


**********************


“Buffy? What are you doing here so late?”

“I was hoping to talk to you. Are you and Tara busy?”

“No, not at all,” Willow said, opening the door so she could enter. “We just finished eating and were gonna watch a movie.”

“Are you hungry?” Tara called, motioning to the white cartons of Chinese food on the table. “We have plenty left.”

“No, I’m good, thanks.”

“Sit down. Are you okay?”

“Define okay.”

Willow and Tara exchanged a look, and Tara asked, “Do you want me to…”

“No, please stay. I just need to talk to somebody.”

They sat in the living room, and Buffy said, “I think…I think I want to break up with Riley.”

Willow’s eyes widened, and she said, “Are…are you sure?”

“I don’t know! It’s just…there’s someone else. And I can’t even stand talking to Riley anymore, and it’s not fair to him.”

“W-wait, you’re seeing someone else?” Willow asked in a shocked voice.

“Well, no. I…it’s…”

Willow frowned, and said, “This doesn’t sound like you.”

“I know, it’s just…just recently this guy drew my attention, and now…I mean, I’ve known him for awhile now, but just recently I can’t get him out of my mind.”

“Is it Xander?” Willow asked, sitting up slightly.

“What? No! Willow! Xander is my friend, I don’t think of him like that. And hello, Anya?”

“Well, I just figured…”

“It’s Giles,” Tara said quietly.

Buffy’s head whipped around, and she asked, “How did you know?”

She smiled that quiet smile, and said, “It was only a matter of time before the two of you admitted your feelings.”

“Was I that obv-the two of us?”

Tara just smiled. Willow was still looking shell-shocked, and Buffy was frozen.

“Tara,” she said slowly, “are you sure?”

“Well, was I wrong about you?”

Buffy couldn’t do anything but stare.


**********************


“Buffy! What are you doing here so early?”

Setting her bag down, Buffy shrugged and said, “Mom and Dawn went shopping. I just figured…it’s not a problem, is it?”

“No, not at all. I was just about to have some tea. Would you care to join me?”

“Sure.”

They sat at the small table, and Giles handed her a mug. Clasping it tightly in her hands, Buffy stared at the rising steam, trying to find her voice.

“Giles, can I ask you something?”

“Of course.”

“What do you think of Riley?”

Giles seemed taken aback for a moment.

“Well…I think he’s a very nice gentleman. He seems to care about you, and treats you well.”

Buffy said nothing, and Giles inquired, “He does treat you well, yes?”

“Oh. Yeah, I guess.”

“Buffy, what’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” she said quickly, taking a drink of the tea and yelping as she burned her tongue. He handed her a water bottle, and she drank it rapidly.

“Let’s train,” she said breathlessly. Giles stared at her dumbstruck.

As they sparred, Buffy thought about what Tara had said. It seemed impossible. Giles had never treated her as anything more than a daughter, or his Slayer. There was no way…

So wrapped in her thoughts was she that she misjudged a hit and sent him flying across the room. Hurrying over to him, she crouched down, her hand on his chest.

“Oh, god, Giles, I’m so sorry! Are you okay?”

Groaning, he sat up, wincing as he felt his torso.

“I don’t think anything’s broken. You just bruised me some.”

He smiled reassuringly at her, and she frowned. Leaning forward slowly, she kissed him softly. His lips were unyielding at first, and she began to pull back from embarrassment, when his arms encircled her, pulling her tightly against him as he deepened the kiss. Wrapping her fingers in his short hair, she lost herself in the kiss, enjoying the feeling of Giles’ strong hands on her hips.

When they finally pulled away to breathe, Giles stared at her in obvious shock.

“Buffy, I didn’t know.”

“Neither did I,” she murmured. “Until a few days ago.”

“So…that’s what the distraction’s been about? The worries over Riley?”

“I don’t want to hurt him, but I can’t stop thinking about you, Giles.”

“Oh, god,” he muttered, pulling her back to him for another kiss. She moaned longingly into his mouth, her nails running up and down his back.

“I’ve loved you for so long,” he said, resting his forehead against hers. “I never thought you’d feel the same.”

They sat there, limbs entangled, kissing, talking, for a long time. Finally, Giles took her face in his hands and said, “I have to tell you, as much as I love you, and I do…I won’t be the other man.”

“I would never do that to you. Never. I want you, and only you.”

They finally stood, Buffy helping him up, and he pulled her to him tightly, kissing the top of her head.

“My mom’s gonna freak.”

“Do you want me there when you tell her?”

“I’m a little worried she might kill you.”

“I think I’ll take my chances.”

Smiling up at him, she said, “This is unreal. I can’t believe this is actually happening.”

“You? I keep waiting to wake up alone like usual.”

Rising up on her tiptoes, she gently bit the side of his neck.

“That hurt?”

“A little.”

“Obviously, you’re not dreaming.”

Laughing, he pulled her in for yet another kiss.


**********************


“Buffy? I thought we were going to a movie.”

“Um, yeah, change of plans. Come on in.”

Riley entered the house slowly, looking around.

“Where’s your mom?”

“She and Dawn went shopping. Have a seat.”

He did so cautiously, watching her intently.

“Is something wrong?”

Sitting next to him, she leaned forward, dreading what she had to say.

“Riley, I care about you a lot, I do. But-”

“No. No, no, no, don’t say that.”

“I’m so sorry.”

“Are you…are you breaking up with me?”

“I think it’s for the best.”

Riley stared at her, his shock evident.

“Is there someone else?”

Buffy frowned, and he nodded.

“That’s what I thought.”

He stood up, and paced the floor in front of her.

“Do I know him?”

“Riley-”

“It’s Xander, isn’t it?”

“What? No, it’s not Xander! He’s with Anya, remember?”

“Yeah, well, I thought you were with me, but I was wrong about that, too.”

“It’s not Xander. Look-”

“It’s that guy in your poetry class. The one whose poems you took home. I knew something was going on there!”

“Riley!” she exclaimed. “It’s not him, either. It doesn’t matter who it is. I don’t want to be with you.”

“How long have you been with this other guy?”

“I’m not really with anyone.”

“Fine, how long have you known you wanted to break up with me?”

“Not very long.”

“Then you could change your mind!”

“I’m not going to. I’m sorry, Riley.”

Looking heartbroken, he said, “Fine. I’ll go.”

Buffy stood then, but he held up his hand to stop any movement on her part, and headed out the front door.


**********************


“Buffy, we’re home! Oh, Rupert, I didn’t know you were going to be here.”

“Hello, Joyce,” he said, a nervous smile on his face. Buffy entered the living room from the kitchen, and said, “Hey, Mom. We need to talk.”

Joyce raised an eyebrow and said, “What’s going on?”

“Sit down. Please?”

Dawn came in then, and asked, “What’s going on?”

“Nothing,” Buffy said quickly. “Dawn, please do me a huge favor, and go upstairs.”

The younger Summers girl groaned.

“I’m tired of being left out all the time!”

“Dawn, please?” Buffy pleaded.

“Dawn, honey, please go upstairs. Just for a little while.”

“Fine. But you guys owe me.”

She stomped her way upstairs, and Buffy waited until the door slammed to continue.

“I think you need to know, Mom. Riley and I broke up.”

“What? Oh, honey, I’m so sorry.”

“No, Mom, it’s fine. I broke up with him.”

“Oh. Well, are you okay about it?”

“It was long past due. Really.”

Joyce hugged her, and Buffy looked at Giles over her mother’s shoulder. He looked like a man ready to be blindfolded before being led out to the execution squad. She smiled at him reassuringly.

“There’s something else, Mom.”

Pulling back from her, she looked at her for a moment.

“Oh dear. What is it? You’re not pregnant, are you?”

Buffy laughed aloud.

“Oh, god, no.”

Giles quietly moved into the kitchen to wait, and Buffy took a deep breath.

“There’s someone else, someone that I love very much.”

“So soon? That doesn’t seem like you, Buffy.”

“Well, it’s not really soon, Mom. I’ve known him for awhile, and things just sort of happened.”

“Is it Xander?”

“NO! Why does everyone keep asking me that?”

“Well, he just seemed the natural choice.”

“No, Mom, it’s not Xander. It’s…Giles.”

Joyce stared, and from the second floor, Dawn screeched, “GILES?!”

“DAWN!”

The bedroom door slammed shut again.

“Mom?” Buffy asked nervously.

“Is this a joke?”

“No. I love him.”

“Buffy, he’s far too old for you.”

“I’m almost 20 years old, Mom. I’m not a child. And I love him,” she repeated firmly. “And Angel was far older than he is.”

“And I didn’t approve of him, either!” she exclaimed, her voice rising dramatically.

“Mom, please don’t do this. Please don’t freak.”

“Well, how do you expect me to react?” she asked, her voice near hysteria now. “You tell me this, and I’m supposed to be fine with it just like that?”

“I don’t expect you to be fine with it. But I need you to accept it.”

“He is old enough to be your father! Is this some sort of psychological complex?”

“Mom!”

“Do you realize he is going to die far before you will? And what about children?”

“Joyce,” Giles said quietly, re-entering the living room, “I realize you’re upset-”

“Upset? Upset?! Rupert, how could you? I trusted you with her!”

“And neither she nor I meant for this to happen,” he said as gently as he could manage. “But it did. And if you want any sort of relationship with your daughter, you will need to accept that fact.”

Joyce stood abruptly, and Buffy jumped up.

“Mom, please. I’m an adult. Let me make my own choices,” she pleaded.

Joyce frowned at her oldest child, but before she could say anything, there was a knock at the door. Walking to it briskly, she opened it to see Riley standing on the other side.

“Hi, Mrs. Summers. Is Buffy here?”

Joyce turned back to Buffy, who exchanged a look with Giles before saying, “What is it, Riley?”

“We need to talk,” he said, moving to her. “I can’t just let you go without trying. Whoever this other guy is, I know he can’t make you as happy or love you as much as I do.”

“He doesn’t know?” Joyce asked.

“Know what?”

Joyce looked from Riley to Buffy, and then to Giles. Riley followed her eyes, and realization hit him.

“You’re kidding me.”

“Riley-” Buffy started.

“No. No way! You are not leaving me for him!”

“I’m sorry, Riley.”

He was turning red with anger.

“You’re leaving me for him. Him! He’s old enough to have grandkids! That’s disgusting!”

“I beg your pardon!” Giles stormed, his own temper rising.

“Giles, it’s okay. Riley, you need to leave now.”

“Well, don’t come running to me when you’re changing both your children’s and your husband’s diapers.”

Rearing back, Buffy punched him, sending him flying across the living room and into the far wall.

“Get. Out,” she ordered stonily, her body shaking with rage. “You have no right to say anything about Giles, you small-brained whiney little crybaby. Get out of my house NOW.”

Picking himself up painfully, Riley limped to the door. He turned as though to say something else, but apparently thought better of it, and simply left.

Giles walked to Buffy and put his arms around her. He whispered, “Are you alright?”

“I’ll be fine. That felt really good.”

He laughed softly and kissed her forehead. Joyce cleared her throat, and he reluctantly pulled away.

“Look,” she said slowly. “I don’t approve of this, but I guess it’s really not my choice. You’ve obviously made up your mind, and I…just have to accept that.”

“Are you sure you’re okay, Mom?”

“I will be.”

Buffy hugged her tightly, wanting to cry with relief.


**********************


They entered Giles’ apartment, and he flipped the lights on.

“Do you want some tea?”

“No,” she sighed, pulling his head down for a kiss. He pulled her into his arms, lifting her off her feet as he deepened the kiss.

“I want you,” she whispered huskily.

“I want you, too.”

He lifted her into his arms and they moved up the stairs quickly. Setting her on the bed, he leaned over her, his hand in her hair and his mouth on her neck.

Sighing contentedly, Buffy pulled him back onto the bed, laying next to him and running her hands over his back.

“You sure you want to be with someone as old as I am?” he asked with a smile in his eyes.

“I think you’re just the right age,” she said, mirroring his smile as she removed his glasses. “But just in case there’s any doubt, maybe you should prove how young you really are.”

Giles chuckled and kissed her again, his hand cupping her breast and his thumb running circles around her nipple. Gasping into his mouth, Buffy gripped his arms, her leg moving between his to rub against his crotch.

Moving his mouth lower, he nipped gently at her earlobe before sliding his tongue down her neck. Pulling off her blouse, he ran his tongue over her exposed cleavage, his thumb still gently manipulating one nipple. Buffy reached around to unclasp her bra, but he gently smacked her hand away. Through the thin lacy fabric he bit down on her hardened nipple, eliciting a deep moan of delight from her. She squirmed, frustrated, and he grinned up at her as he moved to the other breast.

Pulling his head up until they were face to face, she captured his earlobe between her teeth, gently suckling on it. She was rewarded with a moan that vibrated in his chest and sent shivers down her spine.

“Make love to me, Giles. Please, dear god, I need you inside of me.”

Feeling a thrill of lust shoot straight to his groin, he slid his hand down her body, slipping two fingers inside her. She bit her lip, fighting to keep from screaming out loud in pleasure.

Curling his fingers to gently stroke her, he applied light pressure to her clit with his thumb, rotating it while continuously pistoning his fingers into her.

Bending her knees, Buffy raised her hips, thrusting uncontrollably at his hand, her head thrown back and her mouth hanging open in unabashed pleasure.

Leaning over, Giles licked and suckled at her neck, propping himself up on his elbow and returning his mouth to her breast. Worrying her nipple lightly with his teeth, he raised his eyes to her face, and watched as she contorted with ecstasy.

Sensing that she was close, he moved down her body and buried his tongue inside her. Screaming his name, she jerked, driving herself into him, panting with desire and need.

Wrapping his lips around her clit, he sucked furiously, laving it with his tongue. Arching her back, Buffy came, crying out his name as she collapsed back onto the bed, her body shaking with release.

Kissing his way back up her stomach, Giles leaned on his elbows over her, studying her relaxed, kiss-swollen face and messy hair.

“You are so beautiful,” he murmured, sweeping her damp hair away from her face and kissing her forehead lightly.

Putting her arms around his neck, she pulled his head down, kissing him softly but intently.

“Thanks for that,” she whispered, smiling up at him impishly.

Reaching down, she wrapped one hand around his erection, squeezing gently, and Giles hissed, his eyes squeezed tightly shut. Wrapping her legs around his hips, she raised her lower body up to lightly rub her tender clit against his straining cock. Giles closed his eyes, fighting to think about something, anything, to slow himself down.

“Now, Giles, please. Fuck me now, please,” she begged, leaning up to kiss any inch of flesh she could reach.

“Oh god,” he murmured, reaching down to position himself at her entrance. Slowly sliding into her, he buried his face in her neck, fighting to keep from completely losing it as her tight walls gripped him firmly. Buffy whimpered softly, and he slid completely in, feeling her spasm around him as she adjusted.

“Please,” she moaned again and again. Giles laughed softly.

“I don’t want this to be over before it starts,” he said quietly, with a hint of panic in his voice.

Meeting his eyes, she said softly, “You won’t disappoint me. I know you won’t. You couldn’t.”

He slowly began to thrust, and Buffy gripped his shoulders, rotating her hips in time with his. She could see that he was straining to keep his stamina up, and she raised herself up, kissing his chest and digging her fingernails into his scalp. Tightening her thighs around his ribs, she pulled his head down next to hers.

“I love you,” she whispered.

Unable to fight it, he came, gasping her name as he thrust mindlessly into her, his hands gripping the bed sheets until his knuckles were white.

Buffy scratched her nails along his back, kissing his cheek gently until he rolled over and lay beside her, not looking at her. Stroking his face, she smiled contentedly at him, enjoying the exhausted expression on his face.

“I’m sorry,” he whispered.

“For what? That was wonderful.”

“I didn’t last very long.”

“You’re out of practice,” she said, grinning. “You’ll improve with time.”

He laughed softly, and she wrapped her arm around his waist, resting her head on his chest. Stroking the small of her back, he said, “Well, if you hadn’t dropped that on me so suddenly, I might have managed a modicum of control.”

Looking up at him with mock hurt, she said, “Would you rather me not say that?”

“Not when I’m fighting to maintain my claim that I’m still a young, virile man.”

“Yeah, well, I don’t have any complaints tonight. And you have plenty of time to prove it to yourself. Again, and again, and again,” she said, grinning mischievously.

Reaching to the side of the bed, Giles pulled a sheet off the chair and covered them both with it. Sighing contentedly, Buffy curled up against him, closing her eyes and listening to Giles’ heartbeat as she drifted to sleep.


**********************


When Buffy awoke, she was confused as to where she was. Frowning, she sat up, quickly realizing that not only was she naked, she was lying next to an equally naked Giles.

Smiling, she rolled onto her side, resting on one elbow as she watched him sleep. The lines on his face were much less pronounced when he was resting, and Buffy tenderly traced one before pulling back for fearing of waking him.

Looking down, she spotted his sheet-covered erection, and she was surprised for a moment. She recovered quickly, smirking wickedly to herself and sliding under the covers and down the bed.

Giles awoke at the first swipe of her tongue, and he moaned, his eyes popping open to see the figure moving underneath the sheet, causing him so much pleasure.

Buffy started slowly, moving her mouth up and down, swirling her tongue around as she moved her hand slowly up and down the base of his penis.

Giles pulled the sheet off of them, moving his fingers into her hair and massaging her scalp as he let his head fall back in bliss.

Pulling away, she continued to pump him with her hand as she moved up his body, kissing him soundly.

“Good morning.”

“Morning,” he managed, grabbing her hips and pulling her to him, sitting up to kiss her more firmly. Sliding into his lap, Buffy gripped the back of his head, her knees squeezing him as she straddled his pelvis. Pushing him back down, she rested her hands on his chest, lifting herself and sinking back down onto his cock, sighing in pleasure as she felt him fill her.

Riding him slowly, she watched his face as it contorted in pleasure, his fingers digging into her hips hard enough to leave bruises. Leaning back to rest her hands on his knees, she moved leisurely, enjoying the sensations and the view.

Giles looked up at her, his face twisted in a smile, and he grabbed her waist, yanking her back into a sitting position and pulling her down, slamming his hips up and watching her eyelids flutter as he hit her g spot. Buffy looked at him in wild-eyed wonder, and he pulled her down again, continuing his thrusts as Buffy screamed and moaned with lust.

Fighting to regain her control over the situation, Buffy grabbed Giles hands, raising them up and leaning on them for support. As she expected, Giles tightened his elbows, and she moved into a crouch over him, her knees drawn close together above his torso. This tightened her internal walls, and Giles gasped, biting his lip and squeezing her hands ruthlessly. As she bounced rapidly, the air filled with both of their cries.

Sitting up, Giles grabbed her and flung her down onto the bed, covering her with his body and burying himself in her once more, grabbing her by the shoulders and holding her tightly against him as he pounded into her, his eyes locked on hers as they moved apart and together again and again.

“I love you,” he whispered, kissing her fiercely. She gripped his head with both hands, pulling his hair as she sucked his tongue in her mouth.

“I love you, too,” she panted, gasping as he pulled all the way out before slamming back inside of her. “Oh, god, Giles…oh, god…”

Moving his hands down her body, he lifted her hips at an angle so that his pelvic bone rubbed against her clit. Whimpering unabashed, Buffy drove herself against him, seeking release. Holding her tightly, he slowed his movements, drawing each thrust out as long as possible. Buffy fought him, albeit half-heartedly, pulling him towards her to speed up his movement.

Stopping all together, he looked at her and asked, “Old?”

Smiling wickedly, she said, “Better with age.”

Pulling her up and onto his lap, he guided himself into her and raised her by her hips before letting her fall back down. Picking up the rhythm, she ground herself against him, rubbing her clit against his pubic bone and using his shoulders for leverage. Leaning forward, Giles grabbed one of her breasts in his mouth and sucked and bit viciously, causing her to scream with pleasure as she came, shuddering and shaking around him. She froze, her back arched, and Giles thrust rapidly, relishing the sensation as she clenched and spasmed around him, bringing on a spine-tingling orgasm that caused him to fall back, panting for breath. Buffy collapsed on top of him, fighting to catch her breath.

Sighing contentedly, Giles kissed the top of her head, stroking her back and taking a long shuddery breath.

“Are you alright?” he asked.

“Better than.”

“Good.”

They lay silently, listening to each other’s breathing, and Buffy said, “Oh, and Giles?”

“Yeah?”

“Next time you start feeling old?”

“Mm-hmm?”

“Let’s sleep on it.”

[end]


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Bunnies Aren't Just Cute Like Everybody Supposes

Author: Venus Blue
Written: November of 2001
Summary: Anya comes to terms with her fears.
Rating: R for drug usage
Spoilers: Erm…the only spoiler I can see is the title.
Feedback: Yes please.
Disclaimer: I own nothing except the strangest collection of stuffed animals ever. Joss and company own Anya, her fears, and her quirks.
Warning: Drug Usage. Also…I’m not really sure how to describe the Anya/Bunnies scene except to say…kinda vicious. I’ve never written anything like this before, and I must say…I enjoyed it. Heh.
Distribution: I have no problems with distribution as long as I'm asked first.
AN: This is in response to Crazyevildru’s challenge. I’m the Green Bunny Goddess, how can I turn that one down?
Awards: , View 2nd Award, View 3rd award

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Anya was frozen. She couldn’t move, couldn’t speak, couldn’t cry out for help.

She stared at the horrible monstrosity in front of her, her lip quivering, tears coming to her eyes.

"X-X-Xander…Xander, where are you?!" she screamed finally. The creature looked at her quizzically.

Xander came through the clearing then, and asked, "What is it?"

"Th-th-there. Over there!"

Xander followed her gaze, and sighed.

"Anya…it’s a wild rabbit. It’s not going to hurt you."

"Make it go away! Please!"

Setting down the picnic basket containing their lunch, Xander quietly walked over to where the small brown bunny was resting. It looked up at him, obviously not caring much that he was there, then nonchalantly hopped away.

Sitting down next to his beloved, he pulled her hands from the blanket, where they were tightly clenched.

"Ahn…honey, it’s gone."

"B-but there could be more. There could be more out here! We have to go!"

"I’m here now. I won’t let any rabbits get near you."

Falling back into Xander’s arms, he could feel her small body shaking. She curled up in his lap, and said, "I guess this picnic wasn’t such a good idea after all."

Sighing, he lightly stroked her hair and said, "Honey, can I ask you a question?"

"Hmm?"

"Why are you so terrified of bunnies? I mean, you were a vengeance demon. Let’s face it, bunnies aren’t big with the striking fear into hearts. Especially not the heart of someone who can eviscerate someone with the blink of an eye."

Sighing, Anya looked up at Xander and said, "I don’t really like to talk about it."

"Well, if I’m going to be your husband, don’t you think I should know?"

She wanted to say no. She was desperate to refuse. But she realized she needed to tell him. He’d told her about his fear of clowns and polyester, and she hadn’t even touched on her fear. It was just so painful…

"Alright. I guess you need to know…"

…………………

NEW YORK-1969

"Where IS this girl?!" Anyanka wondered. She’d been wandering around this damned music festival for the last hour, trying to find the scorned woman whose pain had called out to her. Normally, she could find someone in an instant. But there were so many people…and so much noise.

Glancing up at the stage, she watched as the performers on stage crooned out another mindless song.

Shaking her head, she turned to look ahead of her and ran into a group of young people.

"Hey, man, watch out," one of them said, in a very spacey manner.

"Get out of my way," she hissed, not wanting to waste her time with unnecessary mortals. The show was nearly over, and she wanted to find the girl quickly.

"Aw, man, cool out. It’s alright. Have a seat. Hendrix will be on in a few. You don’t want to miss his big finish."

"I’m not interested in the concert! I’m trying to find someone!"

"But it’s Jimi, man. Jimi’s God."

"Uh-huh," Anyanka said, trying to zone them out and concentrate on the woman’s energies.

"Come on, chica. Here, want something to level you?"

He held a joint out to her, and she sighed. She wasn’t finding the girl anytime soon. And she’d already exacted revenge on one male that day. She didn’t see a problem in taking a little break.

Taking the marijuana cigarette from the young male, she took a quick hit, fighting to keep from coughing as the harsh smoke entered her lungs.

"There you go. Come on, sit down."

Sitting down on the blanket, Anyanka curled her bell bottom-clad legs underneath her and rested her arms behind her.

The young woman on the other side her, who looked like she could use a good bath, held out a small sugar cube to her.

"Expand your mind, man."

"Uh…okay."

She examined the cube for half a second. she wasn’t sure exactly why she was being offered a clump of sugar, but when in Rome…

Placing the sweet lump onto her tongue, she crunched it up, and swallowed it quickly.

They watched her curiously, then turned to continue watching the show.

As her body relaxed from the affects of the joint, she lay back on the blanket, letting the music pour into her ears.

When the set ended, she heard people clapping, and she opened her eyes.

Above her, leering over her with a sinister grin and huge beady red eyes, was the largest and most vile looking creature she’d ever seen. It had long pointy ears, greenish fur, and huge sharp teeth.

Screaming, she jumped from the blanket. The others turned to look up at her, and one of the males said, "Uh-oh. She’s having a bad trip."

The demonic rabbit leered at her, and said, "What’s up…doc?"

Now thoroughly terrified, she ran, tripping over patrons as they lounged on their blankets.

"What’s your problem, chick?" a girl asked, dodging her as she tried to run straight through her.

She slapped the young woman, then turned back to see where the bunny was. It was RIGHT BEHIND HER!

Thoroughly freaked now, she spun around, getting very very confused and feeling nauseous.

She closed her eyes, wishing with all her might that the rabbit would be gone when she opened them again.

Cautiously, she cracked her eyelids open, and saw not one, but FOUR RABBITS! All with the same leery grin, except different colors now.

The pink one stroked her ears menacingly and said, "I’m hungry."

Frozen to the spot, Anyanka could only cower in fear.

The large, muscular blue one said, "You’re always hungry. You got the last one. This one’s mine!"

The lean yellow bunny slapped him out of the way and said, "No, way. Go eat a carrot."

They argued for awhile, then the original green one slapped them all away.

"I saw her FIRST!" and with that final word, the demon rabbit lunged for her. Anyanka fell to the ground, clawing at the bunny with her fingers. Nothing seemed to work. She could feel the rabbit’s razor-sharp incisors digging into her flesh, trying to devour her. She screamed as she felt the other rabbits tearing at her legs and arms, and finally she fell limp, blacking out.

…………………

"When I finally woke up, I was in some sort of tent with all these other hippies. I couldn’t understand WHY there were no bite marks, and no one would believe me that these huge bunnies had attacked me!"

Xander had been silent through the entire story, just letting her talk. Finally, he looked into Anya’s eyes and let the peals of laughter escape his throat.

"It’s not FUNNY! I could’ve been really hurt!"

Still laughing, he lay back on the blanket, holding his aching stomach as the tears of laughter rolled down his cheeks.

With a loud huff, Anya stood up and walked away from the blanket.

"You’re so mean, Xander!"

Still laughing, Xander reached into the basket and pulled out a sandwich.

God, he loved that woman.

No matter how insane she was.

~ The End

**Terms of the Challenge:

Things to Include:
-complete explanation for why Anya hates bunnies
-one of the gang finding out and reacting to it (can be now or past, like if she knew spike before???)
-a bunny
-bonus points for a period piece (flashback?)

Optional:
-SMUT makes me happy!
-Smut
-and did I mention smut?
–Xander **


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Dust Bunnies

Author: Venus Blue
Written: August of 2003
Rating: G
Pairing: None
Summary: He knows she hates coming home to a dirty house.
Spoilers: The entirety of Angel, in general.
Feedback: Valued more than sex and chocolate.
Distribution: At my site, The Bunny Warren. Probably FF.net, if I get really bored. Any lists who archive. Anyone who wants, please ask. I haven't said no yet.
Disclaimer: Joss, ME, and 20th Century Fox owns all. I claim only the plot bunny.
Dedication: To Q, at the Ire_Uk Mailing List. He sort of planted this in my head, and I'm finally getting around to writing it.
Author's Note: There was one character in Angel who got the short end of the stick. When the big stuff went down, he was kept in the dark, and I can't help wondering what he's doing right now.
Awards: View, View 2nd award, View 3rd award, View 4th award, View 5th award, View 6th award

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Dust. Dust everywhere. No matter how often he runs the vaccuum and swipes the feather duster, more seems to accumulate.

He's been here a long time. Feels like forever. So many girls, so many deaths. But then she came. And he made a friend.

Her life wasn't easy. He was non corporeal, not non feeling. He tried to make it better. He kept the house clean, he kept the lighting the way she liked it. He was always ready with an aspirin and a cold glass of water or a hot mug of tea. He even scrubbed her back when she was in the worst pain.

Her friends stopped coming by. At first they were always here. He didn't like the tall one all that much. In the beginning, he was okay. He would talk to him, and brood a bit. He certainly did like to hear the sound of his own voice. But then he'd been floating along, minding his own business, and the tall's ones spikey hair had gone through him. He really didn't like that sensation. Then his girl had started to have feelings for him, and he didn't like that at ALL.

The bald one was okay. Always said hello when he came through the door. Times had changed a lot since his days, and he wasn't used to seeing a black man sitting so amicably among whites. It was a good change. He'd always thought those laws were a load of crap.

His girl had told him about her tryst with the British one, so he was immediately wary of him. Then when that violent woman had broken into the apartment, and he couldn't get rid of her, he was happy to have the British one there. He'd tried to protect them. Since then, there'd been a new level of respect. Chairs pulled out for him, books handed over. He especially enjoyed giving him books, because it tended to scare the daylights out of him.

He was helpful. He never said he wasn't mischevious.

He had liked the quiet girl at first. Sitting under the table, eating her peanut butter. She was so scared, so alone. He wanted to comfort her. But his girl had said no, she had to go.

When she came back the last time, she yelled at him. He'd helped them. Helped them find her medicines, wanted to make sure his girl was safe. And what did he get in return? Her loud shouts, and her anger. He hadn't done anything wrong! They were trying to take her things! She would need her things when she came back!

She would be back. He knew that. She wouldn't leave him. She loved her home, and she loved him. Maybe not the same way Kerri, his fiance, had. He missed her sometimes. Kerri reminded him a lot of his new girl. But she was gone. And he had her. And he didn't need anyone else.

That woman has been back. The woman who helped his girl get the apartment. She's brought new people in. He's done his best to keep them out, and it's making the woman angry.

Why does she keep bringing people in here? Doesn't she know his girl doesn't want strange people in her house? It's very rude, in his opinion. You can't just barge into someone's place and try to give it away!

She'll need to buy a new calendar. The one on the wall ran out months ago. Maybe this time she'll get the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit one he's been pushing for.

He knows she'll be back.

And until she comes back, he'll keep dusting.

---The End---


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End of the World

Author: Venus Blue
Written: April of 2004
Rating: PG-13
Pairing: Buffy/Angel
Warning: Angst, pain, loss, the staples for these things.
Summary: Written for Miggy for the LJ Angst Ficathon. She wanted future, infertile Buffy. Hope this is satisfactory, dear.
Distribution: My site, The Bunny Warren, List archives, and possibly FF.net, if I get really bored. If you'd like it, please just ask, I've never said no yet.
Feedback: Is a truly beautiful thing.
Note: Many thanks to Meltha for her help with the plot bunny, and the quickie beta.
Awards: View Award, View 2nd award, View 3rd award, View 4th award, View 5th award

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Angel had always been certain that the greatest moment in his long life was the day he married Buffy. Seeing her glowing smile as she walked toward him in her billowing white gown, he couldn’t imagine anything feeling as wonderful.

He was very wrong.

For when the day came that she welcomed him home with open arms and a little plastic strip with a single blue line on it, Angel was more grateful than ever for his Shanshu. It was by far the definition of pure happiness.


*****


Buffy agonized over every little detail in the nursery. Angel wanted to paint the walls a neutral yellow, but Buffy protested it would be ugly. Eventually he learned to defer to maternal instinct, and watched as she and Dawn painted pastel blue walls with large white fluffy clouds. Dawn was nearly as excited as Buffy, wanting her own daughter to finally have a cousin and playmate.

When Buffy moaned about her increasing pant size, Angel would laugh, kissing the small bulge and calling it his “little Buddha.” Though she pretended to be offended, she couldn’t help but laugh.

When she was four months along, the cravings started, almost always in the middle of the night. Angel was still head of Wolfram and Hart, and he was working double time to clean it up. He didn’t want to have to explain to his son or daughter just what he did for a living. While he hated being away from his wife, he often ended up working long hours, leaving Buffy to fend for herself at home. Often times, Dawn would stay over, teaching Buffy how to knit or do latch work. Willow had promised to fly in from England before the baby was born, though she and Giles were impossibly busy with their own herd.

It was nearly midnight one night when Buffy started craving Ben & Jerry’s. Normally their freezer was well stocked, but she had put off grocery shopping until the last minute as always. There was a convenience store a few blocks from their house, and Buffy didn’t want to call Dawn and wake her for something so petty.

It happened so fast, later memories were nothing but a blur. A vampire, wanting to make a name for himself by taking out the oldest living slayer. During the pregnancy, she hadn’t been keeping up with her usual workouts, and her reflexes faltered. She managed to stake him, but not before he’d gotten one good kick to her stomach.

Blinding pain. Screaming until her throat was on fire. Blood soaking into her pants and running down her legs.

She remembered calling 911 on her cell phone and telling them where she was. Then nothing.


*****


When she opened her eyes again, she was met with harsh white. Turning her head, she realized she was in a hospital bed, Angel in the chair beside her, his head lolled to one side in sleep, his hand resting on her calf.

“Angel?”

His eyes snapped open immediately, and he sat forward, scooting his chair forward and taking one of her hands into his own larger ones.

“What…what happened?”

“Do you remember anything?” he asked, his voice soft.

“The vamp,” she breathed. “He attacked me. He kicked…my baby. Is the baby okay?”

Watching Angel fight back the tears was the only answer she needed. Burying her face in her hands, she let out a scream, sobbing as Angel pulled her tightly to him.


*****


After the breakdown, all Buffy wanted was to be left alone. She knew Dawn and Xander were in the waiting room, and probably others. She didn’t want sympathy and hugs, not even from her husband. Angel refused to leave her, even when she yelled for him to get out. He just sat quietly, letting her say all worlds of hurtful things. Eventually she would fall into silence again.

The doctor came to see her, but she wasn’t ready for jargon and medicines. Angel asked that she be given more time, and the doctor complied.

“I killed our baby.”

Angel turned sharply from the window. Buffy was still in the same position, her head turned away from him.

“What?”

“I did it. I’m the reason our baby is dead.”

“Buffy, no. That is far from the truth.”

Turning to look at him finally, her eyes were full of more pain than he’d ever seen.

“I made the choice to go walking at night. I could’ve called Dawn. I lost our baby because I wanted ice cream.”

Turning her head to face the wall once more, she clenched the bed sheets tightly in her fists, seemingly wanting to rip them to shreds. Taking one of her hands and bringing it to his lips, he kissed it, massaging the palm, then each finger in turn.

“I know this hurts. More than I can even understand. But it is not your fault. I know, and you know, how much we wanted this child. You would never do this on purpose.”

“Might as well have.”

“Hey. HEY. Look at me.” He tilted her head with his hand, and pressed his forehead to hers.

“Women have miscarriages every day. And babies are born every day. We’ll just have to keep working.”

She nodded, but the sadness in her eyes didn’t lessen.

“Hey. If anyone was going to blame you, it would be me, right?” At her nod, he continued, “Well, I’m not. I don’t think you went looking for a fight. Do you believe me?”

She nodded again, and he lightly stroked her inner arm.

“We’ll have more babies,” she said quietly.

“Lots more. Fifty more.”

“You’re giving birth to half of them.”

“I can try.”

And finally, she managed a smile.


*****


“So can I go home?”

“Shortly. There is still something we need to discuss.”

“Take my medicine, drink fluids, and bed rest?”

“Well, there is that, yes. But there’s something you need to know.”

“What is it?”

“The trauma to your stomach was very severe. It damaged a few organs, even caused some internal bleeding. We were very fortunate, managed to patch you up nicely. And you seem to have some fast healing skills.”

“Okay…”

“But your uterus got the worst of it. The fetus-”

“Don’t.”

“I’m sorry, Mrs. Summers, but-”

“Look, just say it. I don’t want details, or pussyfooting.”

“Your uterus was damaged beyond repair.”

“What does that mean? Are you saying…I can’t…”

“I’m very sorry. We tried everything we could, but it was a very bad injury.”

“I’ll never get pregnant again?”

“There are still options. There are surrogate mothers, adoption. This isn’t the end of the world.”

“No. It’s not.”


*****


Angel brought Buffy home the next day. She didn’t speak at all in the car, nor when they went inside. She couldn’t climb stairs, so he helped her into the living room and lowered her onto the sofa.

“Are you hungry? I can fix us some lunch.”

“I’m fine.”

“Willow called. She and Giles are flying in tomorrow morning. Should get here around noon.”

She nodded.

“Dawn’s coming later tonight, after Phil gets home, so he can watch Jena.”

Another nod.

“Do you want a blanket?”

“I’m fine.”

“Buffy, would you at least look at me?”

She finally raised her eyes to his, and he took a step back. The empty, lifeless stare was so out of place on her beautiful face that she looked like a different person.

“Hey,” he managed, kneeling next to her. “It’s going to be all right. I promise. I know things look awful now. I know that,” he stressed. “But we still have options. Like the doctor said, this isn’t the end of the world.”

“I can’t have children,” she said flatly. “My entire purpose as a woman is gone. I might as well have let the vamp kill me.”

“No,” Angel said angrily. “Never say that.”

“I’m going to take a bath,” she said, pushing him away as he offered help.

“You shouldn’t-”

“I’m fine.”


*****


The following day, Angel went to visit Giles at his hotel room. When Angel and Giles returned to the house, they found Willow’s rental car in the driveway, the open trunk full of groceries.

Inside the house, Buffy was putting a bag of frozen vegetables in the freezer when she heard the front door slam, and then Angel’s voice calling her name.

A small child of around age four came running into the kitchen. It was obvious, even if you’d never met her, that it was Willow’s daughter. The bright red hair pulled back in a french braid and the bright green eyes mirrored the older woman’s exactly.

Throwing herself into Willow’s arms, she shrieked, “Mommy!”

Willow picked her daughter up and hugged her, her eyes quickly going to look at Buffy’s face. She was smiling at the little girl, but her eyes gave away the hurt.

“Hey, sweetie. Did you have fun with Daddy?”

“Uh-huh. We watched TV and ate popcorn.”

“At 10 in the morning. Nice,” Willow said, raising her eyes to her husband who still stood in the doorway. He took his glasses off to clean them, looking anywhere but at the fiery redhead.

“Tara, do you remember Aunt Buffy?”

The little girl looked over at the blonde, and nodded shyly. Buffy walked over, smiling, and said, “You’ve gotten so big. How old are you now?”

“Four.”

“Wow. You look just like your mommy.”

“Thank you,” she said, politely, resting her head on Willow’s shoulder.

Angel watched this scene closely, and he could see how difficult all of this was for her. He moved forward, and Buffy said, “I have something upstairs for the kids. I bought them for Christmas and was waiting for you to come back to the states. I’ll be right back.”

She quickly stepped around her husband and headed towards the stairs.

“I’m going to make sure she’s okay,” he said to Giles and Willow, quickly following her.


*****


“Buffy?”

Angel entered the bedroom, but didn’t see his wife anywhere. The closet door was ajar, and there was a box of wrapped gifts sitting in the doorway.

Walking to the bathroom, he found her leaning against the sink, a pill bottle in her hand and her eyes closed. Coming up behind her, he wrapped his arms tentatively around her waist. Meeting no resistance, he pulled her gently to him, resting his chin on top of her head.

“Are you okay?”

“Fine.”

“Do you want me to tell them to come back later?”

“No. I just need a minute.”

She finally opened her eyes, and met his in the mirror. For an instant, Angel saw a spark of something he couldn’t quite place in those hazel depths, but she quickly looked away and pulled out of his embrace.

“Can you get the box of presents?”

“Sure.”

She left the bathroom. Angel studied his reflection for a moment, then followed suit.


*****


“Well, I see you’ve kept in shape.”

Buffy smiled at Giles, reaching an arm out to pull him to his feet.

“It was your idea to do this, remember? I figured you get your fill of beatings training the girls in England.”

Grabbing a towel to wipe his face, Giles replied, “It’s been years since we’ve sparred. I thought it would be a good idea to check your abilities.” Unstrapping the protective gear and stretching his sore muscles, he muttered, “Seemed a good idea at the time.”

Watching Giles remove the padding, Buffy was hit with a rush of nostalgia. Sitting down on a chair near the bay window, she studied him quietly.

“What is it?” he asked, noticing her far away look.

“Nothing. Just thinking about the good old days.”

“Apocalypses and monsters?”

“Among other things.”

Sitting down next to her, he said, “Things were relatively simple then, weren’t they? In retrospect, at least.”

“Mmm. Wish I’d appreciated it more.”

Giles frowned.

“Your life is good, Buffy. Angel loves you. You have a wonderful house, a wonderful husband, and a good 40 wonderful years yet to spend on this earth together. You don’t have to fight demons, or even train anymore.”

“I know that. I know all of that. My life is fine.”

“Then what is it?”

Buffy shook her head, not trusting her own voice.

“There are children born everyday to parents who do not appreciate them. You and Angel have a wondrous opportunity to take one of them in and make them your own. This is not the end of-”

“Giles, STOP!”

Taken aback, he stared at her. Her eyes, full of tears and fury, stared into his own.

“Everyone keeps saying that! ‘It’s not the end of the world.’ No, it isn’t! I’ve been there, several times. This is worse!”

Standing up, she furiously wiped at her eyes.

“I am broken and dead inside. I can’t even look at my husband without wanting to cry. Is this what he became human for?”

“Angel earned his humanity, and the first thing he did was find you. Not because you could bear him children, but because he wanted to spend his life with you.”

“And look how well that turned out.”

“I know you feel this way now, but once you give yourself time to heal, you’ll see that it will get better. You just have to give it time.”

Buffy’s hands were clenched into fists, and she refused to look at him.

“Willow will be waiting for you back at your hotel. You should go.”

“Buffy-”

“Go, Giles. Please.”

And without looking back at him, she left the room.


*****


Months had passed since Buffy had lost the baby, and there was little change. Though she now slept in the same bed as Angel, she wouldn’t let him touch her, and she refused to see a therapist. Angel was at his wits’ end.

Coming home early from work one day, he found her sitting on their bed in her bathrobe, sobbing into her hands.

Tentatively, he walked towards the bed and kneeled in front of her. Looking up at him, she leaned forward and wrapped her arms around him, burying her face in his neck.

“I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I can’t do this.”

“Buffy, it’s okay. Shh,” he said, rubbing her back. “Please don’t cry, baby. It’s okay.”

Not used to the endearment, Buffy cried harder.

“I don’t want you to waste your humanity on me, Angel,” she whispered.

“Never. Wasting it would be living my life without you.”

Sitting up and resting her forehead against his, she took a deep breath and said, “I don’t want to hurt you.”

“You won’t. We’ll get through this, Buffy. We’ll get through it together.”

Closing her eyes again, he saw more tears fall, and he kissed her eyelids. Moving her hands behind his head, she kissed him, a real kiss like he hadn’t received since before the loss of the baby.

“Make love to me? Please?”

“Buffy, are you sure…”

“Please, Angel. I need you.”

Pulling off his coat, he pulled her into his arms, kissing her more passionately and moving them both up on the bed.

He made love to her gently, kissing her desperately and whispering soothing words in her ear. She held him tightly, as though she was afraid to let go of him.

Afterwards he held her close, kissing her forehead and smoothing her hair. She rested her head against his chest, lightly running her fingers over his smooth skin.

“I love you, Buffy.”

Reaching up to run her fingers over his face, she smiled at him and said, “I love you, too. So much.”

Pulling the blanket up over them, Angel sighed contentedly. Buffy curled up against him, her head resting above his heart. For the first time in months, Angel felt complete again.


*****


When Angel woke the next morning, Buffy’s side of the closet was empty. Not wanting to believe what he was seeing, he flew down the stairs and into the kitchen. Sun poured through the windows, but his wife was not sitting at the kitchen table with coffee like he’d expected. Instead, he found a note lying on the counter.

Don’t look for me.

His hands shaking so badly that he dropped the scrap of paper, Angel buried his hands in his hair and let out a howl of pain.


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Feline Repose

Author: Venus Blue
Written: July 12, 2004
Pairing: None. Mentions of Olivia/Giles
Rating: G
Summary: What does an unemployed librarian do with his time?
Feedback: If you have to ask, you've never written a story before.
Distribution: At my site, The Bunny Warren. Probably FF.net, if I get really bored. Any lists who archive. Anyone who wants, please ask. I haven't said no yet.
Dedication: To Gloss, who is my ultimate Giles inspiration, and to Midnight. Thank you for keeping this Gentlewoman of Leisure occupied.
Awards: View award, View 2nd award, View 3rd award, View 4th award, View 5th award, View 6th award, View 7th award

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What does an unemployed librarian do with his time?

Giles find himself questioning that more and more as the blistering weeks of summer roll along.

He is quite thoroughly unemployed now. Banished by the Council. He supposed “voluntary leave” suited his departure from Sunnydale High quite nicely, if not ironically.

He wasn’t terribly concerned about his finances; he had a decent amount of money stored away in savings and bonds. Boredom, however, and a deep loathing of staying still for too long, was beginning to set in.

The children all had better things to do. Buffy was in L.A. visiting her father, Willow and Oz hadn’t been seen for weeks, and Xander was traveling parts unknown.

It was only the second week of July, and Giles already missed them.

He’d taken to going for long walks through town. Sunnydale was growing and expanding almost every day, and he took the time to discover places he’d never seen before.

It was on one such outing that he discovered the park. It was quiet, with a few trees and a long stretch of green grass, benches, and a well-kept gazebo.

Despite the bright summer weather, the park was relatively uncrowded, and it was far enough from the main road to be peaceful.

It became a daily excursion for him, packing a light lunch and a book, and sitting for hours in the cool comfort of the gazebo.

It was during one of these quiet moments that Giles first spotted the cat.

He really was nothing more than a scrap of fur and a tail. Terribly scrawny, with the tip of one ear missing. At first glance, Giles thought it a pure black cat, and he allowed his mind to think on superstition and bad luck. Then the feline reared up on his hind legs to swat at a bug, and Giles spotted the long white streak running along his belly.

Maybe not such bad luck after all.

The cat never paid him much attention, though on occasion Giles did look up from his book to find those large yellow eyes trained on him, as though the cat was sizing him up.

In the beginning, it kept its distance, usually moving among the trees in search of squirrels or insects. But eventually as the days went on, Giles saw it grew bolder, venturing to the covered gazebo steps to sniff around and see what this now regular visitor was all about.

Slowly reaching into his bag, Giles removed the ham and cheese sandwich he’d fixed for himself before leaving the house. The cat studied him curiously, his stance making it abundantly clear he was ready to run if necessary.

Pulling the sandwich apart, he ripped one half into smaller pieces. Throwing gently, he aimed it toward the stairs. The cat’s eyes dilated, but he stood his ground, moving forward to sniff at the bread and meat.

“Go on,” Giles said softly. His voice was hoarse and scratchy, and he found himself wondering just how long he’d gone without speaking to another human being.

The cat wolfed down the sandwich hungrily, his neck moving rapidly as he fought to swallow.

Giles watched quietly, his forehead rumpled in a frown. He found himself sympathizing with this poor creature. Unwanted, and so cautious of being hurt.

Standing slowly, he moved forward, crouching down to pet his head.

The cat fled.

********************

Before going to the park the next day, Giles stopped at the grocery near his house. He thought it a moot point; he assumed he’d scared the cat off for good.

But he hoped he was wrong.

Sitting down on the steps rather than the bench of the gazebo, Giles set his book beside him and removed his lunch from the brown paper bag. Slowly and carefully observing his surroundings, Giles’ heart fell. The cat was nowhere to be seen.

Finishing his sandwich and putting the cellophane into the bag, Giles sighed and picked up his book. Opening it to the bookmark’ed page, Giles began reading.

Two paragraphs down, he heard it. A loud scratching, and an audible “thud”. Glancing up quickly, he saw his friend, shaking his head rapidly with bits of leaf and twig stuck in his fur.

“Watching me from the tree, eh?” he said quietly. The cat looked at him with an almost bored expression.

Reaching into his bag, Giles removed a small package, wrapped in white paper. Unwrapping it, he set it at the foot of the steps and slowly backed away to the bench of the gazebo

The approach was slow, cautious as always. Keeping a close watch on Giles, the cat sniffed at the fish, his stance guarded and tense. Giles looked down at this book, watching from the corner of his eye.

Apparently finding no ill motive, he ate the meal, wolfing it down without another glance at the strange man.

And so a relationship was built. Giles stopped each day for fresh fish before heading to the spot, and each day the cat was waiting for him.

After awhile, the feline stuck around, cleaning himself on the stairs before stretching out luxuriously in the sun.

When he wasn’t resting or chasing prey, he sat, his back straight with the graceful posture only a cat possesses, and watched Giles with his large stern eyes and serious expression. He never drew near, and Giles never risked contact.

Then one day, in the late days of August, Giles threw caution to the wind. He set the fresh fish, cod this time, in the freshly mowed grass, and sat to one side of it, his back against the gazebo walls.

The cat sat under his usual tree, seemingly weighing out his options. He sauntered over to the package, sniffed it, then sat down, eyes on Giles again.

“Well?” he asked quietly.

He got a narrow-eyed glare for that before the tomcat started on his meal. This time Giles watched him eat, his book unopened on his lap.

When the last remnants of meat had been licked from the paper, the cat cleaned his paws and face, then stretched out only a few inches from Giles’ loafers.

A grasshopper suddenly landed near his leg, apparently roused from rest when the grass was cut. Golden eyes locked on it, ears became flat, and an attack stance was taken.

He was still for so long that when he finally did pounce, Giles laughed aloud in surprise. The cat paid him no mind as it bounced up on hind legs and twisted, playing with the insect.

After a few minutes of batting it around, the cat bit down on it. Giles frowned, and found himself saying, “Don’t do that, you don’t know where it’s been.”

He never thought a cat could look patronizing until that moment.

When the grasshopper ceased movement, ergo amusement, the cat lay back down, this time nearer to Giles’ right arm.

Hesitating for a split second, Giles reached forward, slowly stroking the soft fur between his ears. To his extreme surprise and relief, the cat did not run, nor did it hiss. It leaned into the touch, eyes closed as though in bliss.

The sat like that for some time before Giles’ arm grew tired from being stretched. Pulling his arm back to rest the muscle for a moment, he was surprised once more when his hand was followed.

The cat glared at him, apparently annoyed by the ceased affection. Leaning over his lap slightly, it head-butted his hand, making certain that Giles knew who was boss around here. Laughing, Giles resumed his strokes, alternately scratching under his chin and behind his ears.

When the time came for Giles to leave, he gathered his things slowly. Pulling his uneaten sandwich into several pieces, he laid them on the paper, giving his friend one last pet before departing.

“See you tomorrow,” he said quietly.

********************

“Rupert?”

“Yes?” Giles said into the phone, trying to place the soft female voice.

“It’s Olivia.”

“Olivia! My goodness, how long has it been?”

“Too long. Listen, I’m going to be in California tomorrow, and I was wondering-”

********************

By the time Olivia’d returned to England, and things with Buffy quieted down again, a number of weeks had passed. That was when Giles remembered his feline friend.

He arrived at the park late one afternoon, just before dusk. He sat by the gazebo, and unwrapped the fish, quietly waiting.

The cat never appeared.

And though he returned many times during the next few rather lonely months, he never saw him again.

He told himself that it was a stray, after all. He had no business feeding it in the first place, nor growing attached.

But on occasion, during some unguarded moment in the day, he remembered those large bright eyes and lean build, and he couldn’t help the pangs of guilt and regret that passed through him.


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Going For Tea

Author: Venus Blue
Written: 2001
Summary: What exactly did Faith do in between the time she peered through Giles' window to spy on the Scoobies, and then meeting up with Buffy and Willow on campus in "This Year's Girl"?
Pairing: Faith/Graham
Rating: NC-17
Spoilers: Come on people, it’s PWP. Like there’s boo koo spoilers in a freaking PWP.
Feedback: Always most welcome.
Disclaimer: You know the drill. Joss the almight holier-than-us one owns everything, I own nothing but a cheap pair of shoes and some broken sunglasses.
Dedication: Yeah, Ry, I finally got around to it. You better damn well appreciate it, too! ;)
Awards: View, View 2nd Award, View 3rd Award


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"Gimme a whiskey. Double."

Willy eyed the customer at his bar dubiously. Their type was never welcome around the demons, and they only ended up causing him more problems.

"Just give me the damn drink."

Willy sighed and pulled the bottle from behind the bar, and poured the dark liquid into a relatively clean glass, sliding it across the bar.

Graham scooped it up, and quickly downed it. He’d had a rough day, after barely managing to take down a very large and very slimy Rikafad demon, and then narrowly escaping a Buffy/Riley make out fest. He could skip the vomit that day.

"Double shot of whiskey, eh? I like a man who can handle his alcohol."

Looking to his left, Graham cocked an eyebrow at the beautiful woman who sat down next to him. She was incredibly beautiful, if not a little pale. Long brown hair, full dark lips, and the nicest breasts he’d seen in a long time. She grinned at him knowingly, and said, "I’m Faith."

"Graham."

She lightly clinked her glass against his, and then proceeded to down it in one gulp.

Graham chuckled a little and called to Willy, "Another round for the lady. What are you drinking?"

"Same as you, Handsome."

Graham attempted to hide his smile as the bartender refilled both of their glasses.

It started out with innocent flirting then headed to friendly competition to see who could outdrink the other. Graham could hold his own, but he couldn’t believe how much alcohol the girl could keep down.

When Willy finally threw everyone out, they were both stumbling and giggling like thirteen-year olds. They made their way through Sunnydale in search of a liquor store, when suddenly a very tall, very burly looking vampire stepped in front of them, fangs bared.

It took Graham two milliseconds to respond to the HST, but Faith was even quicker. In a flash, she’d thrown the vamp on the ground, pounding the living hell out of it. Graham stared stupidly for a few minutes, then pulled his trusty stake from his waistband.

"Faith, heads up," he called, tossing the stake in her direction. With barely a glance backwards, she grabbed it in mid air, and slammed it into the vamp's heart, turning him to dust.

Jumping back up, she said, "That was fun."

Graham was shocked to see this relatively small girl stake a vamp without even breaking a sweat, but his alcohol-ridden mind was too far gone to question it.

Faith felt that low-down tingle start to rise, and she eyed Graham appreciatively.

"So…you hungry?"

…………………

When they reached Graham’s room, they were like wild animals. Tearing at each other’s clothing, licking, nipping, and full-out biting each other in their fight to undress and get to the bed as quickly as possible.

Graham gripped the back of Faith’s neck, his tongue dueling with hers as he fought to lay her down on the bed. Before he knew what had happened, Faith had him turned around, and he felt himself fall backwards, his back hitting the soft cotton bedspread and down pillows. She sat on his torso, her hands going into his hair as she came dangerously close to knocking his tonsils down his throat.

Graham wrapped his hands around her waist, and deftly rolled them until she was beneath him. She growled, and he laughed, pulling at her shirt until she raised up to allow him to pull it completely off.

Gripping her soft but firm breasts in his hands, he lowered his mouth to one of her nipples, gently nibbling at it until she was writhing beneath him. He bit down, causing her to scream in pleasure and arch her back, sending her sex straight up against his throbbing cock. Graham groaned, and moved to the other nipple, giving it much the same treatment. Throwing her head back, Faith grabbed the headboard, digging her nails into the wood as pleasure wracked her body.

Moving lower, he unzipped her pants, sliding them down her curves until he was face to face with her now completely wet pussy. He shot a glance up at her face, where she was still, waiting impatiently.

Planting kisses up her inner thighs, he held them tightly in place, fearing she would crush his skull if she clamped them shut. Faith moaned, grabbing his head and trying to force him where she most wanted to go. This, of course, made him skip that exact spot and move to her other thigh.

Pushing herself up on her elbows, Faith looked at Graham, who glanced up to see the rather impatient look on the brunette’s face. Grinning, he buried his tongue in her pussy, causing her to gasp and throw herself backwards, driving her crotch into his hungry mouth.

He licked up and down her lips, not wanting to waste a single drop of her juices. Judging by the moans and groans he was dragging from her, she didn’t want him to waste a drop either.

He continued to work his tongue over her, savoring her flavor and inhaling her scent, until she thought she’d burst. Then he affixed his lips to her clit, and she screamed as her entire body shook with her orgasm.

Working his way back up her body, he smiled at her, and was amazed when she ran her tongue over his lips and chin, cleaning her own juices off his face. Grinning, she pushed him down on the bed, biting the buttons off his T-shirt and running her hands up his strong muscular stomach. She ground her hips into his crotch, making him groan and buck upwards, sending his denim-clad erection straight into her already throbbing clit. Moaning, she circled his bellybutton with her tongue, dipping inside before continuing.

Graham looked down and watched in fascination as she unbuttoned and unzipped his jeans using only her teeth, then nearly castrated him as she viciously ripped off his jeans. When she saw the size of his cock, her eyes got wide, and she ran her tongue across her lips.

"You’ve been holding out on me, honey," she murmured, running a fingernail lightly up the side of his throbbing cock. He hissed and bucked his hips, wanting more than just a glancing touch. Lightly, she licked the very tip of his cock, never putting too much pressure at once. Groaning in frustration, he grabbed the headboard to keep from pushing her head down onto his cock.

Knowing what he was doing, Faith acted like she was going to make another light swipe, then proceeded to take his entire cock into her mouth, feeling the tip touch the back of her throat and continue down. Graham let out a yell, and fought to keep from bucking his hips straight up off the bed. Just when he thought it couldn’t get better, she began to bob her head, sucking him in all the way to the base of her throat, and then letting all but the tip out. As her tongue worked all the sensitive spots on his cock, one hand gripped the base while the other fingered his balls, using one finger to rub the sensitive spot underneath.

Knowing he wasn’t going to last much longer, but not wanting the amazing sensation of her hot mouth to end, Graham reached down and lightly pulled on her hair. She looked up, and he grabbed her shoulders, flipping her over and entering her in one thrust. They both moaned loudly, Faith’s legs wrapping tightly around his torso as he thrust into her roughly, causing her to moan and grind her pelvis into him, her fingernails digging into his back and drawing blood.

Feeling himself coming closer and closer to the edge, he slipped his hand between their bodies and found her clit, massaging it and causing her to shake and scream in pleasure, her orgasm hitting her hard. The clenching of her pussy walls was too much for Graham, and he followed her, spilling his hot semen into her, his face buried in her neck.

Breathing heavily, he withdrew, falling flat on his back beside her, every muscle in his body quivering like Jell-O.

After a few minutes, Faith sat up and began collecting her scattered clothing.

"What are you doing?" he asked, confused.

"Gotta go. Got things to do."

"Wait. Don’t go."

"Sorry, but I’ve got places to be."

"At 4:00 in the morning?"

She glanced at the clock on the bedside table, and it suddenly hit her that she had no place to go.

"Come on, you can stay here. Or at least grab a shower first."

Smiling, she leaned over, resting her hands on the mattress, her large breasts hanging directly in his face.

"Care to join me?"

…………………

The water was scalding hot by the time he joined Faith. He hissed, and she wrapped her arms around his neck, kissing him passionately.

"You certainly are the insatiable one, aren’t you?"

Grinning, she ran a soap-filled sponge over his chest and torso, loving the feel of his hard abs. She suckled on his earlobe as she washed his neck and arms, then spun him around to get his back. As the water washed the soap away from his taught body, a wicked smile crossed her face and she pushed him gently yet firmly against the shower wall, sliding down to her knees to wash his legs.

Graham rested his hands against the wall, closing his eyes as he felt her hands work his over-relaxed muscles. Her hands moved over his tight cheeks, and he realized she wasn’t holding the sponge anymore.

"What are you-"

"Shh," she murmured. "Just go along for the ride."

She ran kisses along the back of his upper thighs, massaging him gently to prepare him for what was coming. Steadily moving upward, she gently parted the cheeks of his ass, running her tongue between them.

Graham gasped in pleasure, and felt his legs wobble precariously beneath him. Gripping his upper thighs firmly, Faith continued her onslaught, causing him to lean his head against the wall and moan as previously unknown sensations wracked his body.

Letting go of one of his thighs, she slipped a hand between her own legs, rubbing her still swollen clit.

"F-faith," he managed. "I need…I need to be inside of you."

Grinning, she pulled away, and he turned around, pulling her up and spinning her around. Leaning over, Faith rested her hands against the shower wall, and he entered her from behind, burying himself in her heat and pausing a moment to regain his strength.

Turning her head, she flashed him a grin and said, "Not tired out already, are you?"

A mischievous look flashed through his eyes, and he said, "Those are fighting words."

"Bring it on."

Slapping her on the ass, he thrust into her once, and she threw her head back, her wet hair flying. Grabbing a handful of those long locks, he proceeded to pound into her, occasionally giving her a light smack, which only made her moan louder. Each time, he increased the pressure of the slap, and soon she was in the middle of the biggest orgasm yet.

When it died down, he withdrew, and she turned her head in surprise.

"Stand up," he managed to say, his cock still painfully erect. She leaned up against the wall, and raised one limber leg up to his shoulder. He held it there, and drove his cock back up into her, pushing her up against the wall for support. Faith’s cries got louder as he pounded into her quick and hard, driving her crazy with lust and pleasure.

He could tell she was on the verge of yet another orgasm, and he slid the hand around her waist down, sliding one finger up her ass. She screamed in orgasm, and shuddered around his cock, driving him to his own.

Somehow, they managed to get cleaned up and dried off, then lay in bed, the smell of sex still fresh in the room.

"So what was this important business you have to attend to?" Graham asked, stroking her almost dry hair.

"Oh, it can wait until tomorrow," Faith muttered, already half asleep.

~The End

Shades of Grey


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Here's to Forever

Author: Venus Blue
Written: December, 19, 2004
Summary: Written for peppery_lime in the Livejournal Slash Wedding Ficathon. She wanted Xander/Oz, leather pants, a frosting fight, and a sweet, tender kiss. Hopefully I didn’t slaughter them too much.
Rating: R
Disclaimer: Not mine. Joss, Mutant, 20th, etcetera.
Author’s Notes: Don’t know what I’d do without Meltha to hold my hand and beta for me. Also, major love to Gloss for trying to assure me her Xander/Oz wouldn’t kick my Xander/Oz’s ass. Additional notes at the bottom.
Awards: View award

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“You ever think about getting married?”

It was a casual sentence, said in a casual tone. Oz watched, amused, as Xander blinked once, twice, third time’s the charm before managing, “What?”

“Ever think about getting married?”

Xander stuffed the last piece of quesadilla into his mouth and rose to put his plate in the sink. Oz watched him go, waiting patiently.

“Sure, I’ve thought about it. I came damn near close with Anya, you know that.”

“I meant now. You and me.”

Xander was still staring. He seemed to be waiting for the punch line.

“Which one of us would wear the dress?”

“Well, I have the legs for it.”

Xander rinsed his plate and set it in the dishwasher. Oz was used to this, distraction before response. He knew to wait.

“You serious?”

“Yeah.”

Leaning back against the sink, Xander tapped his foot nervously.

“Not much of a proposal, really.”

“You want me on one knee, flowers and heart-shaped ring box?”

“I like the knees part.”

Oz smiled and came around the table, pulling him by the belt loop and kissing him longingly. Xander wrapped an arm around his waist, stroking the small of his back and nibbling Oz’s lower lip as he pulled the hair at the base of his neck.

Pulling away, Oz reached into his pocket and knelt in front of him.

“Xander, you wanna marry me?”

The deer-in-the-headlights look was enough to make anyone laugh, but Oz kept his face impassive as always.

“You really mean this?”

“Why wouldn’t I?”

“Well, unless our fearless leader was impeached when I had my back turned, it’s not legal.”

“Doesn’t have to be legal. Just has to be real. To us.”

“You really want to put up with me forever?”

“I’ve put up with you for the last five years, and then before that. Think I can take forty or so more.”

Xander stared at the simple gold band encased in black velvet, his mind racing with thoughts and fears at the ramification of its purpose. He’d lost the need to continuously talk all the time, a habit he’d had all his life, but he’d never been as speechless as he felt at that moment.

“Knee’s getting kinda sore.”

Taking a deep breath, Xander said, “But what will we name the children?”

Oz did laugh then, standing and grabbing him for another kiss.

*********************

“Think we should’ve eloped?”

Oz raised his arms as the tailor’s tape measure came around.

“Might’ve been a good plan.”

Willow pulled a book from the huge pile she’d been digging through and exclaimed, “Found it! Flowers! We need to discuss flowers!”

“Flowers?” Xander asked incredulously.

“For the ceremony! Oh, and catering for the reception! Oz, are you still allergic to shellfish?”

“Well-”

“And you want a chocolate cake, right? Did you want white or dark icing?”

“Um-”

“And I was thinking, since you’re both wearing black tuxes, how about a white-”

“Willow,” Xander said, wincing as the seamstress poked him with a pin. “Take a deep breath. Or ten.”

Smiling, she said, “But this is so exciting! I totally arranged Buffy and Giles’ wedding, and they loved it! And now I get to do yours and I really like this and I was thinking maybe I could-”

“Again, breathe, Will,” Oz said, stepping down from the box and watching the tailor finish up Xander. “How soon are these going to be done?”

“End of the week. Monday tops.”

“Great. We’ll call.”

The men helped Willow carry the books out her car (“How’d you manage to get all of these in there?”), and she asked, “You guys want to grab lunch?”

Xander and Oz exchanged looks, and Oz shrugged.

“Sure, why not?”

Over lunch at Xander’s favorite fast food restaurant, Willow kept up a running chatter.

“So, are you two going to want this in a church?”

“We’re inviting Spike and Angel.”

“So, no church. No outdoors, unless…nighttime wedding?”

“Not wanting to face unexpected demons.”

“True. Are you going to use a Justice of the Peace?”

“We hadn’t thought that far.”

“Have you thought of…anything?”

Xander smirked, taking a big bite of his hamburger, and Oz said, “Not so much.”

“What about a best man? Or, um, men?”

“Uh…I guess I could ask Dev. Xander?”

“Will? Wanna be my best man? Again?”

Her grin widened, and she said, “Sure!” Then after a moment, “Can I pick the dress?”

*********************

Buffy and Giles flew into LAX two weeks before the wedding, and Buffy immediately pulled Xander to one side.

“You let Willow plan your wedding? Are you insane?”

“Starting to feel like it.”

Hoisting her bag up on her shoulder, she walked towards the luggage claim, one arm through Xander’s.

“She’s been wedding crazed ever since she and Riley moved in together! Don’t you remember my wedding? The flowers, the hors d'oeuvres, the ice sculptures?”

“Ah, the giant ice replica of Mister Gordo. How could I forget?”

“And it was right next to the roasting pig! Whenever I even began to say something, she would shush me!”

“Well, it’s too late now. We’re in way over our heads.”

“Where is she now?”

“Scouting out places for the wedding with Oz.”

Buffy shook her head as they met up with Giles, who was surrounded by suitcases and struggling with another from the conveyor.

“A little help, dear?” he asked, winded.

“I’ll get a luggage cart.”

Xander eyed the bags and said, “Traveling light?”

“Only three of these are mine. One is entirely shoes.”

Xander clapped the older man on the back and said, “Married life is great, huh?”

Giles chuckled and said, “Actually, it is. You’re ready for your own?”

“Ready as I’ll ever be. Not gonna screw up like last time.”

Smiling sadly, Giles said, “I’m sure you won’t.”

Buffy returned, and they proceeded to pile up the luggage.

*********************

“Did you ask Giles?”

Xander ran a towel over his hair and said, “No, I thought you were going to.”

Oz looked up from his guitar thoughtfully.

“Just figured it would be easier for you to ask him.”

Pulling on a pair of sweatpants, Xander sat next to him on the bed, folding his legs Indian-style.

“Don’t you think he’d rather hear it from you?”

Oz shrugged and set his guitar by the bedside table. Leaning forward, he combed his fingers through Xander’s damp hair, pushing it away from his eyes. Xander leaned into the touch, covering Oz’s hand with his own. Kissing him gently, he asked, “Scared?”

Oz smiled and said, “Maybe a little.”

Kissing him more intently, Xander pushed him back onto the bed, holding the back of his head with one hand and gently scratching his lower belly with the other.

“Love you.”

“Love you, Xan.”

Unbuckling Oz’s belt and sliding his pants down, Xander paused.

“Think we should wait until we’re married?”

Oz lifted his head and cocked an eyebrow.

*********************

Xander and Buffy had gone to pick up the tuxes, and Giles was fixing himself some lunch when there was a knock at the hotel door. Opening it, he found Oz, hands tucked in his pockets, fidgeting slightly.

“Oz. What a pleasant surprise, come in.”

They went into the kitchen, where Giles fixed Oz a cup of tea and offered him a sandwich.

“We don’t have much. Buffy went with Willow a few days ago to get a few essentials.”

“I’m good, thanks. Had a question for you, actually.”

They sat at the small kitchen table, and Oz gripped the hot mug, admiring the 70’s-esque tablecloth pattern.

“Xander and I were talking, and we were wondering if you’d mind performing the ceremony.”

Giles looked startled for a moment, then said, “Well, I’ve no experience in that. I’m not a priest, or judge.”

“Yeah, but it’s not going to be a traditional legal ceremony. We just…”

He paused, and Giles cleared his throat.

“Xander knows?”

“About us?” Oz asked, looking up finally. “Yeah, he knows. He understands it was a long time ago. We both think it should be you who, you know. Officiates.”

“I would be honored.”

Oz smiled, and finally took a sip of his tea.

“Does Buffy know?”

“She does. She took it quite well, considering.”

“And the two of you? How’s marriage?”

“Better than I would’ve thought.”

“Always knew you two would end up together.”

Giles chuckled softly.

“I had my doubts.”

They sat in comfortable silent for a few minutes before Giles asked, “And you? I never saw you as the marrying kind.”

“Yeah, me neither, to be honest. Devon still thinks it’s this big prank I’m playing on him.”

“Should make for an interesting ceremony.”

Oz laughed softly and ducked his head.

“Me and Xander…I don’t know. It just…feels right. Like this was supposed to happen or something.”

“Soul mates?”

“Wouldn’t go that far. Like…kismet? Maybe?”

“Perhaps.”

Oz glanced at his watch and said, “I’d better get going. I have to get some stuff for dinner tonight, and I want to at least have it started when Xander gets home.”

Giles walked him to the door, and Oz shifted from foot to foot before sticking out his hand. Giles shook it firmly and said, “Well, I’ll see you later, then.”

“Yeah, me and Xander will be over to talk about the ceremony.”

“Goodbye, Daniel.”

“Bye, Giles.”

*********************

“You’re really going through with this.”

Oz straightened his tie and said, “Yep.”

“Dude, you’re such a chick.”

“Just put the suit on, Dev.”

Willow came in then, eyes shining.

“Devon, why aren’t you dressed? The ceremony starts in half an hour!”

“I got time.”

Oz turned to Willow and asked, “Is Xander ready?”

“Yeah, Buffy’s helping him right now. You look great!”

“Thanks. What about Giles?”

“He’s talking to the photographer.”

“Everything going smoothly?”

“Uh-huh,” Willow said slowly. “Oz, are you nervous?”

Holding up one shaking hand, Oz shrugged and said, “Little bit.”

Willow grabbed his hands in hers and squeezed them reassuringly.

“You’re going to be fine, I promise. Not having second thoughts, are you?”

“Nah. Just…don’t want to make a fool of myself.”

“Xander’s probably going through the same thing. Don’t worry.”

*********************

“Xander, give me the bottle.”

“But I need it.”

“No, you really don’t. And you’re going to get it on your tux.”

Xander reluctantly handed over the chocolate syrup, and Buffy set it back on the mini fridge. Handing Xander a spoon, they both dug into the large bowl of chocolate ice cream. Buffy passed him a napkin and warned, “No dripping. Willow will slaughter me.”

“Mm-hmm.”

They clicked spoons and Buffy said, “How’re your nerves?”

“The ice cream’s helping. A little.”

“Good. Not going to bolt out the door the second I turn my back, are you?”

Xander smiled and ducked his head.

“Nah. But any little old men with glowing orbs should be killed on the spot.”

“You got it.”

Giles stuck his head in and said, “Are you two almost ready?”

“Just getting in a last minute sugar rush.”

Moving to his wife, Giles kissed her forehead softly and said, “You look beautiful.”

“Thank you. Not too bad yourself.”

Smoothing his tux, Giles said, “And of course, Xander, you look handsome, as well.”

“What, no kiss for me?”

Giles cocked an eyebrow, and Xander and Buffy grinned.

“I do have to say thanks to you and Oz for the bridesmaids’ dresses. Much, much better this time around.”

“Well, I said it’d be convenient to use the same dresses, but Oz wanted the lavender.”

“And it’s appreciated,” Willow said, appearing in the doorway. “Ceremony’s in fifteen minutes. Everyone but Xander in the ballroom, please.”

Buffy kissed Xander’s cheek, and she and Giles filed out.

Willow grinned up at Xander and said, “You doing good?”

“Better than I expected.”

Willow hugged him tightly and said, “Gonna actually do it this time?”

“Think so. If I don’t pass out first.”

They hugged for a minute, Willow rubbing his back, then she said, “Oz is going to meet you in the hall in five minutes. Walk out when the music starts, got it?”

“Got it.”

One last squeeze and Willow walked out of the room. Xander looked at the clock, took a deep breath, and picked up the bowl of ice cream. There was a knock at the door, and Xander called, “Come in!”

Oz slipped in, and both men grinned at each other.

“Isn’t it bad luck for the bride to see the groom before the wedding?” Xander asked, moving to him.

“Which one of us is the bride?”

“Traditionally, probably the person who’s a bo-”

Pushing himself up, Oz kissed him, tangling his hand in his hair and squeezing his hip. Xander cupped Oz’s face and pulled him close, stroking his cheek.

Pulling away, gasping for air, Oz said, “Didn’t want to do that in front of everyone.”

Resting his forehead against the shorter man’s, Xander said, “You ready to get married?”

“As I’ll ever be.”

They left the hotel room and headed down the hall.

“About the reception…” Xander began.

“No frosting fight.”

“Damn.”

Squeezing his hand, Oz paused near the open double doors, waiting for their cue.

*********************

“A toast!”

The reception had been going for almost an hour when Willow tapped her champagne glass with her spoon.

“A toast to Xander and Oz, my two boys, whom I love so much. I hope you’re both happy and healthy for the rest of your lives, and that I never lose touch with either of you. And please do not hold the psycho wedding planner bit against me.”

Everyone laughed and raised their glasses in salute, and Xander and Oz walked over to her, hugging and kissing her in turn.

“So, did I do good?” Willow asked as the three of them moved to the buffet table.

“You did great, Will,” Xander said, popping a strawberry in his mouth. “All the insanity was well worth it.”

Willow looked immensely pleased with herself. Riley came up behind her, resting his chin on top of her head.

“Congratulations, guys.”

“Thanks, man,” Oz said, shaking his hand. “When are you two going to join the ranks?”

Willow blushed prettily, and Riley said, “Soon as she pops the question. I’m expecting a huge diamond.”

“Does that mean your parents pay?” Willow asked sweetly.

“Obviously, we need to discuss this further.”

They moved away, and Xander turned to Oz.

“Are we that cute?”

“We’re cuter.”

“Good to know,” Xander said, touching his forehead to Oz’s and kissing his nose.

“Alright, alright, none of that mushy shit,” Devon announced, draping his arms over both men’s shoulders.

“Has Willow seen you yet?” Oz asked, smiling over at Xander. “‘Cause you know she’s out for blood.”

“She’ll get over it.”

Xander looked down at Devon’s purple Converse and gold cummerbund.

“You do stand out in the crowd a little.”

“Man, I wore this to stand in my cousin’s wedding!”

“That was a Mardi Gras wedding, Dev. In New Orleans. On a float in the middle of a parade.”

“Hey, a wedding’s a wedding.”

“Devon!”

Devon turned and, spotting Willow coming his way, chirped, “Gotta go!” and ran for the exit, grabbing two glasses of champagne as he went. Willow scowled and asked, “You guys ready to cut the cake?”

“Is everyone done eating?” Oz asked curiously.

“No, but at least the cake will be ready for when they are.”

The men looked at each other, and Xander shrugged.

“Let’s do it.”

They walked to the elevated platform where the three-tiered wedding cake was situated. Picking up the sterling silver cake server, Xander asked, “Ready?”

Covering his hand, Oz said, “Yeah.”

Willow called for everyone’s attention, and the sudden light of a hundred flashbulbs blinded them both temporarily.

“I hope you can still see,” Oz muttered to Xander.

“Right eye’s seeing spots, but my left eye is perfectly unaffected.”

Oz chuckled softly and stroked his cheek.

“Benefits of having a glass eye, huh?”

“Okay, lovebirds, cut the cake already!” Spike yelled, earning him a thwap to the back of the head from Angel.

They cut into the cake finally, both bowing their heads to avoid the next wave of camera flashes. Extracting the slice, they each took a piece and looked each other.

Xander pouted for a half a second before lifting the piece to Oz’s mouth, holding his hand underneath to catch the crumbs. Oz smiled softly and pushed his hand down, raising his slice and tapping it against Xander’s lips. He opened, and Oz smeared it across his mouth, ending with a dab of frosting to the tip of his nose.

Xander looked positively frozen for a moment, then, grinning, he returned the favor, cupping Oz’s cheek afterwards with his frosting-covered hand and licking a bit of frosting off his chin.

The crowd laughed loudly, and applauded, and Oz wiped at his mouth.

“Now, if that doesn’t prove how much I love you…”

“It does,” Xander laughed, handing him a napkin. “It does.”

A server came up to begin cutting the cake for the guests, and Willow waved them down off the platform.

“It’s time for the first dance!” she said, wiping a smear of cake off Oz’s neck.

Xander groaned.

“Do I have to?”

“Come on! I only had to threaten death to get you two to pick a song. It won’t kill you to white-boy dance for three minutes.”

Grabbing his hand, Oz nodded towards the dance floor and said, “Come on, Xan. It won’t kill us.”

As the slow, soft country song that they’d finally settled on started, Xander and Oz stared at each other a moment before Oz wrapped his arms around Xander’s waist, and he wrapped his arms around Oz’s shoulders. They moved jerkily, and Xander said quietly, “This feels weird.”

“You’re thinking about it too much.”

“This feels like a high school dance. From hell. Where everyone is watching, waiting for you to trip.”

“So close your eyes.”

“Then I really will trip.”

“Close your eyes,” Oz said again, softly. “Just pretend we’re at home, in our living room. And we’re extremely drunk, so we felt like dancing.”

Xander smirked, then sighed loudly, closing his eyes. He felt Oz lean his head against his chest, his hands moving slowly up and down his back. Resting his cheek on Oz’s forehead, he counted to ten in his head to try to ease the being-watched anxiety.

Loosening his arms to release the tension, he pulled Oz closer, massaging his shoulder softly with one hand and moving them both in a slow, lazy circle.

“Am I leading?” he murmured.

“I hope so, because I’m not,” Oz said, squeezing him softly. Xander felt him peck softly at his cheek, and he turned his head, capturing his lips for a kiss.

“Guess what?” he whispered, pulling away.

“What?”

“We’re married.”

Oz chuckled.

“Yep.”

“That means I get half of your guitar if we get divorced.”

“I get half of your Twinkie stock.”

Xander laughed, leaning his head down and resting it on Oz’s shoulder.

“I love you,” Oz said into his ear.

“Love you, too.”

The song ended, and everyone clapped again.

“I love this crowd,” Xander said when the applause died down. “Feels like I’m winning an award, or I’m a celebrity.”

He was rewarded with more flashbulbs.

The reception eventually died down around 8:00 that night. Everyone came up to either shake hands with or hug Xander and Oz before leaving, and Willow was tyrannical about assuring they’d signed the guest book.

Xander and Oz were sitting at one of the tables, ties loosened and jackets off, when Willow came up to them.

“Looks like the party’s dying. I’m going to hang around, make sure the cleanup crew gets here. You guys go ahead to your room.”

“You sure?” Oz asked, removing his foot from Xander’s lap and sliding his shoe back on. “Because we can stay…”

“No, it’s fine. Buffy and Giles are going to wait with me. You guys enjoy your night.”

Xander stood, taking Oz’s hand to help him up, and moved to hug Willow again.

“You did a great job,” he said into her ear. “This was wonderful, and I love you.”

“Love you, too, Xan.”

She moved to Oz and hugged him as well.

“We really appreciated this, Will,” he said, smiling at Xander over her shoulder. “But when you and Riley get married? It’s our turn.”

She looked horrified, and Buffy laughed as she walked up. Reaching out, she hugged each man in turn, and said, “What are you two still doing down here? Get out of here. This is the boring part.”

“Where’s Giles?” Xander asked.

“He’s helping the DJ bring his equipment down to his van. I offered to help, but he insisted on doing it himself. He said to say goodnight to both of you, and congratulations.”

Oz took Xander’s hand, and they left the ballroom, heading to the elevator.

“It was a nice ceremony, wasn’t it?” Xander asked as Oz leaned back into him, resting his head on Xander’s shoulder.

“Very nice. And the reception was great. Good food.”

“Probably shouldn’t have listened to Spike when he insisted we open his present then and there.”

“I thought Angel was going to kill him on the spot.”

“There’s a couple destined for the altar if ever I saw one.”

Oz laughed and rubbed Xander’s thigh.

“I don’t know, I think you’ll look pretty good in leather pants.”

Xander suckled on his earlobe and said, “I thought they were for you.”

“We can share,” Oz said, turning around to kiss him.

The doors opened on their floor, and they walked to the hotel room they’d picked out. Entering, they kicked off their shoes and threw their tuxedo jackets on the sitting chairs. Oz walked to Xander and put his hands in his belt loops, tugging him close.

“I know you want to, so go ahead.”

Xander grinned and, after a running start, dived onto the bed, doing a few knee bounces before standing and full-out jumping on the king-size mattress. Oz shook his head, unbuttoning his shirt and removing his cummerbund.

Landing on his butt with his legs straight in front of him, Xander caught his breath and smiled impishly at Oz.

“Had to get that out of the way.”

Oz walked to the dresser drawers, and looked at the card on the bucket of champagne that was resting on top of it.

“From the owner of the hotel. That’s nice.”

“Wonder how much it cost Willow?” Xander asked, still slightly out of breath. Oz poured them each a glass and set them on the bedside table.

Crawling up the foot of the bed, Oz pushed Xander back onto the pillows, kissing him hard and running his hands up his arms, holding his wrists lightly against the pillow.

“How’s the bed?” he asked, pulling away and taking a breath.

“Firm,” Xander said, eyes shining. “Very firm, in fact.”

“Good to know,” he murmured, licking up the side of his neck.

Xander dug his fingers into Oz’s hair, pulling his face up to look him in the eye.

“Be gentle. This is my wedding night.”

Oz started laughing then, falling on top of him and resting his face in his shoulder.

“I love you, Xander.”

“I love you, too, Oz.”

Taking the two glasses, Oz handed Xander one, and asked, “Should we toast?”

“Probably good luck. What to?”

Oz shrugged.

“How about to forever?”

Xander smiled and clinked his glass to his husband’s.

“Here’s to forever.”

[The End]

Note: The Giles/Oz reference in this fic is a wannabe throwback to Gloss’ wonderful series Book of Daniel. The Willow/Riley is from my fic Value to Survival.


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High Demonic Activity in Cleveland

Author: Venus Blue
Written: June of 2001
Summary: Takes place in the Wishverse. Buffy Summers never came to Sunnydale. This tracks her life up to and including "The Wish."
Rating: R for one obscenity.
Spoilers: The Wish, and Helpless.
Feedback: Most loved.
Disclaimer: The amazing Numfar formerly known as Joss Whedon owns all rights to cast and crew. I’m just borrowing them for my own sick pleasure.
AN: I'm changing the facts a bit. I realize "Helpless" came after "The Wish," but I need it to already have taken place, so there. Please r/r. I wrote this quite awhile ago, and I love it. I’d like to know what you think.
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Buffy Summers sat in her room, clutching her stuffed pig. The room that she had grown up in for the last 16 years was now packed away in boxes and cartons. She watched quietly as the movers came in and out, bringing her belongings to the moving truck.

"Buffy?"

Looking up, she saw her mother come into the near-bare room.

"Hey, honey. You almost ready to go?"

Looking up hesitantly, she nodded, saying nothing. Seeing her daughter was upset, Joyce walked over and sat next to her on the stripped mattress.

"Buffy, I know you don’t want to leave, but we have no choice. First the business with your school, then your father…well, we just can’t stay here any longer. I’ve sure you’re going to love Ohio just as much as California."

Putting on a brave front, Buffy said, "Yeah. I’m sure it’s gonna be great."

Standing up, she followed her mother out of the room, taking one last look back before turning off the light and closing the door.

*********************


Six months later:


"God, watch where you’re going!"

Buffy glared at the popular girl who had bumped into her in the hallway.

"So sorry, your royal highness. Shall I scrape and grovel now?"

Rolling her eyes, Ashley continued down the hall, followed by her groupies. Loudly, she said, "Some people just have NO class."

Narrowing her eyes, Buffy continued to her class, looking everywhere but at her other schoolmates. Being the slayer had taken its toll on her, and she was withdrawn, removed from her surroundings. Her watcher, Leramick, insisted that she go straight from school to the abandoned warehouse where they trained, then immediately at sunset, she went on patrole. Her mother, having found a new boyfriend a month after their arrival in Cleveland, barely noticed she was gone, assuming she was with friends. On the rare occasion she was asked where she’d been, she vagued a reference to her imaginary friend Lacey, and the subject was dropped.

Glancing over her shoulder, she watched as Ashley and crew stood to the side of the hallway, trash-talking the majority of students who walked by.

Wistfully, she thought back to her pre-slayer life. It had been such an easy, carefree time.

"Miss Summers!"

Spinning around, she came face to face with the school Vice Principal, Mr. Weatherby.

"Yes, sir?"

"I understand you missed several classes yesterday. Care to explain?"

"Well, my mother was sick, and I had to go home to take care of her."

"We called your mother. She said she didn’t know why you’d missed your classes, and that she hadn’t seen you."

"Well, see," Buffy said, ready to launch into a full excuse.

"Save it," he said. "Come with me to my office."

He spun around, expecting her to follow. After a moment’s hesitation, she rolled her eyes and followed him. Students in the hallway turned and smirked at the "outcast" being once again sent to Weatherby’s office.

*********************

"It’s not my fault!" Buffy yelled, slamming her bag down on the card table. "What was I supposed to do, tell Weatherby I was fighting a Vlaknar demon and had to skip Biology?!"

Leramick sighed and said, "Buffy, you’re duties as slayer come before any and all others."

"So I’m just supposed to drop out of school and have no chance for a future because someone ‘chose’ me to poke vampire with sticks?!"

"It is your destiny. Your destiny comes before all else."

"That’s right. It comes before school, it comes before family, it comes before friends, it comes before-"

"That’s enough," he said, cutting her off harshly. "Now it is time to train. I won’t hear anymore on the subject, and you will not be going to detention tomorrow. You have much more important things to worry about."

Biting her lower lip, Buffy walked to the weapons cabinet, not allowing herself to show her emotions.

*********************


One year later:


"Well, this takes the cake."

Buffy looked up from her spot on the floor to see Mr. Weatherby and the Principal, Mrs. Bridgan.

"Look at this place. You’ve destroyed the science lab!" Mrs. Bridgan said, glancing at the enormous hole in the ceiling.

"Yeah, but-"

"And look at all the dirt on the floor!" she cried, pointing out the several piles of dusted vamps.

"Wait, I can explain-"

"There’s no need. I think we’ve seen enough," Mr. Weatherby said as Buffy quickly stood up and dusted off her pants. "Miss Summers, I believe we have no choice but to expel you."

"What?!" Buffy said, her voice wavering.

"We’ve ignored your…many…violent incidents in the past, hoping you would improve. But I see now that we were just prolonging the inevitable. The school board will, of course, hold a meeting, where you will appear with your parents to plead-"

"No. Really, that’s okay."

Grabbing her bag, Buffy headed out of the lab. As she reached the doors, she spun around and said, "And you know what? The next time this school is about to be overrun with beings wanting to eat the populace, I won’t be here. And I hope they eat you slowly."

The two adults exchanged glances. This chick was obviously on something.

Storming out of the science lab, Buffy felt the knot in her stomach tighten, and she found it was easier to ignore the sadness sweeping over her.

*********************


Buffy’s 18th Birthday:


"How could you do this to me?!"

Buffy sat in a chair across from Leramick, her face a bruised and bloodied mess. The Cruciamentum had been extremely hard on her, and she was completely drained of energy.

"Buffy, I already explained to you that it is a time-honored tradition, and I had no other choice."

"You poisoned me? Do you even have a heart?"

"Yes, I do. And it’s not that I don’t care for you. But it doesn’t matter. You’re a slayer, I’m your Watcher. I did what had to be done."

He handed her a first aid kit and said, "You’ll be fine. You’ll have your strength back in a matter of days."

Dabbing a bit of antiseptic onto a piece of gauze, she gently wiped at the gash above her eye. She glanced over at the training mirror, and was shocked by her appearance. She felt like she’d aged twenty years in the last two.

After she’d cleaned her entire face, and put a bandage over her split lip, she grabbed her bag and said, "Leramick, I’m going home."

"Not now. We have to-"

"Fuck you. Try to stop me."

Taken aback by the harsh tone and language, he simply watched as she exited the warehouse.

*********************

"Mom? I’m home."

Setting her bag down by the front door, Buffy walked into the kitchen, fixing herself a glass of juice. The house was eerily quiet, even though her mother’s car was in the driveway.

"Mom? Are you home?"

She looked up the stairs, and called, "Mom?"

Walking into her mother’s room, she froze in the doorframe, her blood running cold.

There, laid out on the bed, was her mother’s body. She wasn’t moving, and there was a look of fear frozen on her face.

"M-m-mom?"

Slowly walking to the bed, she started to check her pulse before noticing the two puncture wounds on her mother’s neck.

She stared for a moment, waiting for the tears to start. Surprisingly, they didn’t.

Turning, she walked to her own room, almost mechanically.

The room differed greatly from her old room in L.A. The walls were bare of any posters, there were no framed pictures of friends or family, and the bed held no stuffed animals, only a blanket and pillow. Even Mr. Gordo had been stored away in the attic with the other memories from her past.

Opening her closet, she pulled out a pair of sweat pants and a tank top, changing out of her torn and bloodied fighting clothes. Then she undid the ponytail her hair had been in, and swiftly braided it.

"Buffy."

Spinning quickly, she saw her mother standing in the doorframe, a confused look on her face.

"Mom? But…"

"Oh, god, Buffy, what happened? Keith was here, and then…did I pass out?"

"I think so," Buffy said, smiling a little. "But everything’s okay now. You’re going to be fine."

"Oh, thank god," Joyce said, moving forward to hug her daughter.

"Yeah, Mom, everything’s going to be okay…I’m just sorry."

"Sorry for what?"

"That I couldn’t protect you."

"But, Buffy, you don’t have to protect me. I’m supposed to protect you."

"You can’t. Not anymore. You’re a vampire."

Pulling back, Joyce growled, her vampire features finally showing. Reaching behind her back, Buffy pulled the stake from her waistband, and, although still weak, used all of her might to swiftly bury it in Joyce’s chest. A surprised look crossed her face, and she managed, "Buffy," before she turned to dust.

Still calm and collected, Buffy moved to her closet, pulling out her suitcases. She packed her clothes, and put all her weapons in her bag, then went into Joyce’s room.

She went through Joyce’s purse, taking the cash from her wallet, then the keys to her car.

As Buffy walked downstairs, she took one last look around the house, then left, locking the door behind her.

*********************

"Buffy?! Where on earth have you been? I haven’t seen you in weeks, the police were-"

"Shutup, Leramick," Buffy said, sitting up on the bed. "I only called to say I won’t be coming back. I’ve settled down elsewhere. I’m starting a new life, and you’re not in it."

"You can’t turn your back on the council."

"They’re in England. I don’t think they can tell which way my back is facing."

"Buffy!"

"Deal with it, Leramick," Buffy said, moving to hang up the phone. She heard him yell, "Wait! Wait!"

Sighing, Buffy pulled the receiver back to her ear and said, "What?"

"I got a very interesting call from a place called Sunnydale, California."

Cocking an eyebrow, she said, "You have two minutes."

*********************

As Buffy ran through the mass, heading for the Master, thoughts flashed through her mind.

Could this be it? Am I about to die?

And she realized she actually hoped it was. All of this fighting, all of this battling to save the hapless human race? Protecting people who had no idea that she was doing it, and didn’t even appreciate it? It wasn’t worth it. Staking vamps…sure, it was a good time. But all this death? This wasn’t what she wanted. She wanted more.

Is this going to hurt? she wondered. What’s beyond this?

The Master grabbed her, and his hands went towards her throat. And for Buffy Summers, the dance ended.

But the music went on.

~The End


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How Many Licks?

Author: Venus Blue
Written: September 16, 2003
Rating: NC-17
Pairing: Buffy/Giles, woot!
Summary: A very belated response to Gileswench's GRB 350 challenge. (Rules at the bottom) The scoobies are having a Halloween Party. What kind of mischief might they get to?
Timeline: I cannot find a suitable time line for this. Semi-AU. Dawn and Riley are unrecognizable names, Joyce is in heaven and Buffy’s dealing, Tara is alive and smooching Willow, Xander and Anya are doing the dance of luuurve, and more than a few subtextual sparks have flown between Giles and Buffy.
Spoilers: Show's over, guys. If you're spoiled, you're not watching enough FX.
Feedback: Valued more than sex and chocolate.
Disclaimer: Hi, Joss. Borrowing your characters again, you don't mind, right? You don't? Fab. Tell 20th Century Fox that, wouldya? Thanks a bunch.
Distribution: My site, The Bunny Warren, and fanfiction.net. Any lists that archive. Anyone else, please ask, I haven't said no yet.
Dedication: This one's for Meg, for all of her help building my fanlistings, and for being a kick-ass Buffy/Giles shipper.
AN: I haven't responded to a challenge in ages, and I love my Wench, so how could I say no?
AN 2: All thanks go out to Red for the help with the costumes. I literally sucked Italian dressing into my sinuses laughing as she gave me these ideas, so I hope everyone enjoys them. Additional Author’s Notes at the bottom.
Awards: View Award, View 2nd Award, View 3rd Award, View 4th award, View 5th award, View 6th award, View 7th award
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"Willow, we are *not* getting those."

"What? Why not? Xander and I love these things!"

Buffy tossed a bag of miniature chocolate bars in the shopping cart and eyed the package Willow held in her hand.

"Marshmallow peeps are the grossest thing on earth. You are *not* getting Marshmallow Pumpkins."

"Come on, you've never played Chubby Pumpkin?"

"No. Put them back."

Willow scowled playfully, and when Buffy turned her back, slid them underneath the other goodies crammed into the steadily filling shopping cart.

“We’re gonna have so much fun tonight.”

“I hope so,” Buffy said, eyes moving back and forth along the shelves. “We need a little fun. Not to mention, it’s been so long since I’ve had a normal Halloween.”

“You think Giles is going to have fun?” Willow said, a note of worry in her voice.

“Yeah, why wouldn’t he?”

“Well, history’s shown that Giles doesn’t really get into parties like we do. I just don’t want him to feel uncomfortable.”

“Giles has changed a lot, Will,” Buffy said, heaving the cart slowly down the aisle as they browsed. “He’s become a lot more laid back lately.”

“You should know,” Willow said with a smirk.

“What?” Buffy said, looking up from her spot crouched on the floor.

“Oh come on, Buffy! Xander may be oblivious to most everything that goes on in the love department with us, but believe me, we’re not all like that. You two are spending so much time together, and I’ve SEEN the way you two look at each other.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking abou-“

"I think we've got everything we'll need for tonight," Xander said, coming up to the cart with an armful of bagged candy and throwing them in unceremoniously. Buffy exchanged a glance with Willow, who rolled her eyes and nodded.

"Think this'll be enough for the trick-or-treaters?"

"Trick-or-treaters?" Xander asked. "I hadn't even thought of them."

"Xander!" Buffy said, slapping his arm playfully. "It's taking all of my slayer strength to push this thing, I think it's a little much to think we could eat all of this by ourselves."

Xander eyed her, and she said, "Okay, maybe you could. More?"

Willow threw a few more bags on top, and said, "With Halloween tomorrow night, I'm surprised there's this much candy left."

"Store's stocking up. People go all out for Halloween in Sunnydale."

"Yeah, who doesn't love seeing demons and vampires running around during the night?" Buffy said dryly, picking up two bags of Tootsie Roll pops and throwing them on the heap. Unfortunately, the heap chose that moment to collapse, and bags of candy went sliding out of the cart and onto the floor with a loud crash.

"Okay, maybe it's a little too much," Xander said sheepishly.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"Willow, they'll be here any second, and I've barely made a dent in here. Will you and Tara PLEASE come down here?"

"Just a SECOND!" Willow called down the stairs. "We'll be there in a minute!"

Buffy sighed and dumped two more bags of candy into a bowl. The house was now littered with bowls of candy and chips, from the coffee table to the chairs to the kitchen table.

"We're going to still have candy left next Halloween," she muttered.

Shoving the remaining pile of candy into the cupboard, Buffy started to head up the stairs to collect Willow when the doorbell rang. Grabbing the bowl of candy nearest the stairs, she walked to the door, and upon opening it, was greeted by the site of costumed persons holding out their bags for candy.

"Trick or treat!"

"Very funny. Now get inside."

Xander and Anya smirked at her, grabbing a handful of candy each as they entered the house.

Buffy eyed their costumes, and said, "Anya, you're a..."

"I'm a nun!" she said excitedly. "And Xander's the naughty little Catholic school boy that gets spanked with my ruler."

With a flourish, she pulled a small wooden ruler from the folds of her habit, and smacked Xander on his khaki shorts-clad hide. He gave a yelp, and said, "I let her pick the costumes. Never again. Never again."

"Nice legs," Buffy said, smirking.

Xander eyed her costume, and said, "And you are...ye old prostitute?"

"I'm a bar wench!" she said indignantly.

"Are you wearing a push-up?" Anya asked, eyeing her heaving bosom.

"Hey!" Buffy cried, looking down at her chest.

"Well, Buffy, I'm only saying, they weren't that big yesterday."

"This top pushes them up naturally."

"Uh-huh."

The doorbell rang then, and Buffy shoved a bowl of candy at them.

"Go. Treat."

Looking down at her outfit, Buffy frowned and pulled a little at the frilly lace surrounding her breasts.

"Ye old prostitute, my foot," she muttered. "Willow!"

"We're coming!"

She heard footsteps, then the two women came down the stairs. Buffy cocked an eyebrow at their ensembles.

Willow was wearing an old fashioned Victorian dress, complete with frills, big butt, and a white powder wig. Her makeup was heavy, and she wore a red ribbon around her neck. Tara had a "crown" of candles around her head, and was wearing what could only be described as a giant Styrofoam cake.

"Okay. So...Willow, you're an old Victorian lady, and Tara, you're a birthday cake? I thought you guys were doing the couple costumes."

"We are!" Willow said giddily. "I'm Marie Antoinette. See?" Pulling down the scarf, she revealed a bloody fake scar. "The ribbon holds my head on!"

Buffy blinked.

"And Tara is..."

"Cake!"

"Cake," Buffy repeated.

"You know, 'Let them eat cake!'?" Willow said, looking at her expectantly.

"Oh. Right. Of course."

Willow looked over at Tara, who smiled at her sheepishly.

"Well, it was better than the salt and battery thing, sweetie."

"It was funny at 2:00 in the morning," Willow muttered, moving into the living room to greet Xander and Anya with a hug.

"Nice shorts," Willow smirked, looking down at the pasty white legs sticking out of the knee-high socks and penny loafers.

"Anya is never picking my costume again," Xander moaned, earning him another swat with the ruler.

There was a knock at the door, and Willow exclaimed, "Ooh, my turn!" Xander happily handed over the bowl of candy, and Willow opened the door with a cheerful, "Happy Halloween!"

Giles stood in the doorway, smiling at her.

"Hi, Giles! Nice costume! Candy?"

"Yes, thank you," he said, grabbing a handful with his free hand. Walking into the house, he took in all the bowls of candy, and the costumes of each person.

"This is going to be a long night, isn't it?"

"Giles," Buffy said, smiling. "Arrgh?"

"The costume shop was out of almost everything," he said, setting down his sword and the paper bag he held. "This was all they had left."

"Very festive. No eye patch?"

Pulling it out of the tight pants he was wearing, he said, "I decided against the eye patch, sadly."

"Well, you've got the bandana, the earring, and the swash bucklin' shirt," Xander said, clapping him on the back. "Very manly."

"Says the boy in the shorts and cardigan."

"Don't ask me, talk to the nun."

SWAT!

"OW!"

Anya giggled.

"Buffy, I didn't know you and Giles were going for a theme," Tara said, unwrapping a miniature Kit Kat bar.

"We're not," Buffy said, looking at her with a confused expression.

"Tavern wench, pirate. I don't know, they just seem to go together to me."

"No, we didn't plan this," she said, smiling up at Giles. He shrugged and grinned back.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"Happy Halloween," Tara called to the children as she closed the door behind them.

"Hubby umpkin," Xander managed around the mouthful of marshmallow in his mouth. Willow and Buffy, who had already lost the game after two and three pumpkins respectively, collapsed into a heap of giggles, and Giles and Anya held their hands over their own mouths fighting to keep the mess in their mouths as they laughed. Tara, who had lost after four, stood near the door, trying her best to quiet her giggles so as not to distract the players.

"Alright, one more!" Willow cried, prying three more marshmallows from the package. Anya groaned around her mouthful, and said something that sounded like, "Hi flib up!" Willow smirked and handed her the soft pumpkin.

The three shoved the marshmallows into their mouths, and it was Giles' turn. He took a few seconds to move the object until it was comfortable, then calmly said, "Ubby mpkin."

"Does that count?" Buffy asked, enjoying herself despite the grossness of seeing orange and black masses of gook in her friends' mouths.

"I don't know..."

Suddenly Xander started grunting and waving his hand wildly at Anya, who was staring at him in disbelief.

"Cheater!" he said, hunks of marshmallow flying out of his mouth. "See cheated!"

"XANDER!" Buffy cried. "You're getting that gunk all over my carpet!"

"See cheated!" he said again, holding his hand in front of his mouth. "See sallowed!"

"Id not!" Anya said indignantly, her own hand over her mouth. "M toat as dy!"

"What?" Buffy said, fighting to hold back her squeals of laughter.

"Is is supid!"

Giles jumped up and ran to the trashcan, spitting out the vile marshmallow mess, then fell into a chair, laughing.

"Alright, alright, I quit," he said, holding his side.

Anya followed suit, but Xander sat indignantly on the sofa. Finally, he grabbed two more pumpkins out of the package, shoved them in his mouth, and exclaimed, "Uhhy pkin!" before running to spit the mess out before he choked.

Buffy wiped the tears from her eyes and said, "Okay, Wills, you win. You were right. Marshmallow Pumpkins were a necessity."

"Told you," she smirked, popping a malt ball into her mouth. "Just wait until Christmas."

"Christmas?"

"Chubby Cringle," Xander called, taking a long swig of coke.

Anya and Giles groaned.

Buffy stood up and straightened her long skirt. Grabbing the near empty bowl of candy near the door, she emptied it into another bowl and headed for the kitchen. Pulling two bags of chips from the pantry, she filled the bowl, and turned to walk back into the living room, running straight into Giles.

"Sorry," Giles said, grabbing the bowl before the contents got dumped on the floor. "Just seeing if you needed any help."

"Nah, we're good. I just figured we needed something *other* than chocolate out there."

"Well, I brought something, though I'm not sure if it's appropriate...."

Walking into the living room, he grabbed the paper bag and removed the bottles from it.

Xander looked up at Giles in surprise.

"Stuffy old Watcher Pirate bringing alcohol to the party?"

Giles shot him a look, then looked over at Anya. She promptly smacked him with the ruler again.

"Well, since we're going to be staying here most of the night, I thought it a safe party refreshment. However, if anyone's driving, maybe we shouldn't-"

"Slumber party!" Willow exclaimed suddenly.

"What?" Buffy said, starting at her.

"W-we can have a slumber party! We've got movies, and chocolate, and alcohol! We can all stay here for the night! Xander, you don't have to work tomorrow, right?"

"Not on a Sunday."

"And the Magic Box is closed, and Buffy, it's not like you'll have an early morning tomorrow. Come on, it'll be fun!"

Anya seemed excited by the idea, and Xander quickly picked up the enthusiasm. Giles looked over at Buffy, who shrugged.

"Why not?"

Willow clapped giddily, and Giles walked over to Buffy.

"The, uh, lady at the liquor store informed me that this would be an excellent choice for a group of young people," he said, handing her one of the bottles.

"Ooh, mudslides. My favorite." Giles looked at her with raised eyebrows, and she quickly finished, "Not that I've drank it a lot."

"Come on. You make the mudslides, I'll make the margaritas."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Oh, she’s gonna die.”

Xander threw popcorn at Buffy and said, “Would you be quiet?”

“What? Come on! She’s alone, in that big ol’ house, on the phone. She’s so gonna die.”

“Buffy, the point of watching these movies is to be afraid, not spoil the movie by talking during it,” Willow said from her spot on the couch with Tara. “Don’t you remember what happened to the chick at the beginning who talked during the movie?”

“Well, I don’t have a date, so I don’t have to worry about that,” she said smugly. Now everyone threw popcorn at her.

The gang was sprawled out in the living room, covered in blankets and watching the movies. Tara had removed her large styrofoam costume, and was cuddled up with Willow on the couch. Anya still wore her robes, though she’d removed the habit. Xander had begged for a pair of sweatpants, but after getting thwacked with the ruler once more, settled for removing the cardigan only. They sat on the farthest recliner, Anya curled up in Xander’s lap.

Giles, who was seated in the recliner, had removed the bandana, but kept the majority of his outfit, and Buffy, who thought she looked cute in the outfit, only removed the bonnet from her hair. She sat at Giles’ feet, her head resting between his knees.

Each group had their own bowl of candy, ensuring they wouldn’t be falling asleep immediately like the last vidfest they’d attempted. And they were all fairly inebriated by this point.

Buffy rolled her eyes as the blonde girl ran screaming through the house, and dug through her bowl of candy. Sighing, she crawled over to Willow and Tara’s bowl, snatching it up and poking through it.

“Hey! Our candy!” Willow said, laughing and pretending to snatch the bowl back.

“We’re out of the good stuff in our bowl,” Buffy pouted. “Giles ate it all.”

“I did not!” Giles said indignantly, looking anywhere but at her skirt-clad bottom, still up in the air.

“Here, Buffy,” Anya said, handing over her own bowl. “Xander’s hyped enough.”

“Don’t I get a say in-“ He broke off as he saw her brandish the ruler. “Nevermind.”

Buffy grabbed the bowl, and said, “You guys ate all the good stuff, too. There’s only suckers left.”

“Too time consuming,” Xander said, trying to pry the ruler from his beloved’s fingers. “I like instant gratification with my chocolate.”

Shrugging, Buffy grabbed a Tootsie Roll Pop and unwrapped it. Willow sat up and said, “Hey, have you guys ever tried the How Many Licks game?”

Buffy cocked an eyebrow, and said, “How many licks does it take to get to the center of a tootsie roll pop?”

“Yeah! I tried it once, but my tongue went numb before I got even halfway through.”

“350,” Anya said nonchalantly.

“What?” Willow said, and they all looked over.

“It takes 350 licks.”

“How do you know?” Giles asked curiously.

“I’ve been alive a long time. I got bored.”

Buffy studied her sucker, and said, “Well, I don’t think I have the patience to lick this thing 350 times.”

“Toss me one,” Willow said, turning down the volume on the television with the remote. Buffy threw her two, and Willow handed Tara the other one. Xander and Anya each got one, and Giles had one unceremoniously tossed onto his head.

“You could’ve turned around and handed it to me,” Giles said dryly.

“What fun is that?” Buffy asked innocently, still not turning.

When everyone had their sucker unwrapped, Willow asked, “Everyone ready?”

“Ready,” they said together.

“Lick!”

The room was quiet for a long time as everyone silently counted. Buffy moved from her position to the center of the room so she could watch everyone evenly. Glancing over at Giles, she found his eyes focused on her mouth, and her eyes widened slightly. Seeing that he was caught, he turned bright scarlet and choked on his sucker.

“I’m going to get something to drink,” he said, faking a few coughs and heading for the kitchen.

Buffy pulled her sucker from her mouth, and said, “I’m going to make sure he’s okay.”

“Why-“ Xander began to say before Anya thwacked him.

“GAH! Anya! The ruler was bad enough, but your SUCKER?!”

“Just be quiet and keep licking.”

Buffy ignored the noise and headed for the kitchen. Giles stood at the kitchen sink, his back to her, his head down.

Silently walking up behind him, she leaned against the island and waited.

“I’m sorry,” he said so quietly she barely heard him.

“For what?”

“That…that was inappropriate.”

“Why?”

Turning, his eyes wide, he exclaimed, “Buffy, I was…ogling you! I had no write to look at you the way I did!”

“Do you see me complaining?” she asked, her voice calm and even.

This set him back a bit, and he watched her silently. Walking up to him, she stood directly in his personal space and said, “Giles, I think we both know there’s something between us. Whether you want to admit it or not, it’s there, and we’ve been fighting it for far too long.”

“Buffy, I’m old enough to be your father.”

“But you’re not my father,” she said quietly, raising her face until it was inches from his. It took everything Giles had to maintain control.

“Buffy, you’re drunk.”

“I am not. I’ve had three drinks, one of which is half finished on the coffee table in there. I’m a little buzzed, sure, but-“

“Still. You’re not in the right frame of mind to make these kinds of decisions.”

“I made this decision a long time ago.”

“I don’t want to take advantage of-“

“Giles?”

“Yes?”

“You’re not drunk enough.”

And with that, she pulled his head to hers.

Giles pressed his body longingly against hers, and she massaged the back of his neck with her hands, the kiss growing more and more intense.

“Dear god,” Giles said, coming up for air.

“Upstairs?” Buffy asked, her voice thick.

“The others…”

“Crap,” Buffy said, gasping for air, her arms still around Giles’ neck. “They’ve got enough chocolate in them to keep them awake for two days.”

Bending down slightly, Giles kissed her lightly and said, “Looks like we’ll have to hold off.”

Buffy whimpered, pressing herself against him and feeling his arousal.

“I really like those pants,” she mumbled against his lips.

“Come on,” he said, smiling down at her.

Walking into the living room, they discovered they’d walked into a makeout fest. Buffy’s eyes bulged as she spotted her best friends smooching with their significant others.

“Looks like the alcohol went to *someone*’s heads,” Buffy said, smirking up at Giles. Willow pulled away from Tara, grinning and blushing. Xander gently pulled away from Anya’s lips, his face as red as Willow’s.

“It’s the alcohol,” Tara said, hiccupping and giggling.

“Or we’re just horny,” Anya said, shrugging. “Got a spare room, Buffy?”

Buffy’s eyes widened, and she was about to comment when Giles nudged her slightly. Pausing, she said, “Yes, as a matter of fact.”

“Great!” Anya said, jumping up and grabbing Xander’s hand.

“You don’t mind, Buff?” Xander said, slightly flabbergasted. Buffy waved her hand and said, “I’m not letting you guys drive, and I don’t want you having sex on my recliner. Guest bedroom it is.”

Anya was steadily pulling him toward the stairs, but he paused, grabbing the ruler from the coffee table before following close behind her.

Willow and Tara sat for a moment, and Buffy looked at them. They looked at each other, then made haste up the stairs.

“Will.”

Turning at the top of the stairs, Willow glanced back down.

“That soundproof spell you put on your room?”

“Yeah?”

“Can you put it on mine and the guest room, too?”

Grinning, Willow shot her a thumb’s up, and scurried up the stairs. Buffy watched her go, then turned to Giles.

“Well. Now that I’ve got you alone, whatever shall I do with you?”

Giles pulled her tightly against him, and kissed her soundly.

“I’m sure you’ll think of something.”

Grabbing the front of his shirt, she pulled him upstairs, never turning her back on him. Resting his hands on her hips, he helped guide her up the stairs, staring into her smiling eyes the entire way.

Entering her bedroom, he pulled her into his arms, kissing her passionately as they made their way to her bed. Sitting down on the edge of the bed, her hands traveled to the waistband of his pants, and he quickly grabbed her wrists. Looking up at him in confusion, he raised her hands to his lips and said, “Buffy, I don’t want either of us to regret this in the morning.”

“Never,” she said, pulling him down to her and kissing him. “I’ve been wanting to do this for a very long time, Giles. Too long.”

She could see there was still hesitation in his eyes, mixed with unmistakable lust, and she said, “Do you want me?”

“I should think that was obvious…”

“Then shut up and take off those pants.”

Giles laughed slightly at that, and placed one knee on the bed, leaning in to kiss Buffy deeply, his hands running up and down her sides. Sighing into his mouth, she ran her nails across his back, pulling him closer and closer to her. Moving his hands to her lace-covered bodice, he made to pull the strings when she suddenly jerked away from him. Startled, he moved his hands away quickly, straightening up and turning bright red.

“No! Giles, I…”

Buffy’s face now matched his, and she looked down at the floor, obviously embarrassed. Giles cocked his head and sat down next to her, and gently placed his hand on her thigh.

“What is it?”

“I…you can’t…Anya was right.”

“Sorry?”

Reaching into the top of her bodice, she pulled out two small, flesh-colored objects and threw them disgustedly to the ground. Giles leaned over and picked one up, flexing it in his fingers and giving Buffy a questioning look.

“They’re cutlets,” she muttered.

“I’ve never seen pork this…plastic,” he said, maneuvering the object between his hands.

“Not pork cutlets, Giles. They’re…I don’t have the body to fill this bodice out the way it should. Those gave me cleavage.” The last part was said in a near whisper.

Giles looked at the cutlet, then back at Buffy, his eyes traveling to her slightly deflated breasts. Then he began to giggle. Buffy stared at him indignantly, and he just laughed harder.

“I’m sorry, Buffy, I don’t mean to laugh, but…” and he began to laugh anew, falling back on the bed and looking up at her, tears in his eyes.

“It’s not funny, Giles!”

“No, no, of course not,” he said, hiccupping and trying to control himself. Turning to look down at him, Buffy gave him a mock glare, and he reached up, pulling on the strings that held her bodice together and pushing the material to the side. Sitting up, he took one of her pert nipples into his mouth, suckling lightly. Buffy moaned and held the back of his head, her eyes closing in pleasure.

Pulling back, he reached up and nibbled on her earlobe, whispering, “I’ve always said, more than a mouthful’s a waste, anyway.”

Grinning down at him, she dug her fingers into his hair and pulled him to her mouth, sucking his tongue into her mouth and using her own to massage the roof of his mouth. The garbled noise he made sent sparks flying to all her right parts. She felt his hand cupping her breast, his thumb slowly running circles around her now painfully hard nipple. Fumbling blindly, she pulled at the buttons on the front of his shirt, finally getting them all undone and attempting to remove it without breaking the kiss. She felt him smile against her mouth as he pulled it off, quickly returning his hands to her body.

Shrugging off the bodice, Buffy climbed onto Giles’ lap, her knees straddling him on either side. She was now slightly taller than him, and he quickly returned his mouth to her breasts, alternately moving from one to the other as he licked, sucked, and nibbled on each nipple in turn. Buffy threw her head back, mewling in pleasure, grinding herself against his leather-clad erection.

Smirking up at her, Giles moved his mouth higher, sucking on her collarbone and leaving a trail of lovebites in his wake. His hands slid up her legs, massing her inner thighs as he resumed his earlier attention on her earlobe.

As much as it pained her to do so, Buffy pulled back from his kisses, holding his head in her hands and bringing his face eye level. The lust in both their eyes was formidable, and in a voice hoarse with emotion, Buffy managed, “Pants. Off. Now. Please.”

Grinning, Giles unzipped the now extremely tight leather pants, and fought with them slightly, finally managing to get them down to his ankles. Kicking off the boots, he threw the pants to the side and leaned back over. Buffy’s eyes were wide as saucers.

“You went commando in those?”

“Boxers cause lines,” he said with a small grin. Giles watched as her hand moved lower on his body, and he drew in a sharp breath, but her hand only barely grazed his thigh. Raising the hand to her face, she rubbed her fingers together and smirked.

“Baby powder?”

“Talcum powder. Leather chafes.”

Wrapping her hand around his formidable erection, Buffy thrilled at the look of pure bliss that crossed Giles’ face. Running her thumb over the engorged head, an idea started to form in Buffy’s brain, and she grinned wickedly, leaning her head down to suckle on his earlobe before whispering, “Hey, Giles?”

“Mm?” he managed in a slightly higher voice tone than usual.

“How many licks, do you think?”

Giles’ eyes shot wide open at that, and she felt his penis jump slightly in her hand, causing her to laugh. Standing next to the bed, she removed her long skirt, kicking it to one side and stepping out of her panties as well. Giles’ eyes traveled hungrily up and down her form, and she felt her pulse quicken at the look in his eyes. She motioned for him to slide up on the bed, and he complied, resting his head against her pillows and watching her every move intently.

Crawling between his slightly spread legs, she started at his chest, running her fingers through the soft gray hair there before gently raking her fingernails across his nipples. The reaction was immediate as he bucked his hips, his hands coming up to massage her hips. Slowly making her way down his torso, Buffy ran her short fingernails up and down his ribs. The constant contact of both hands and mouth were driving Giles crazy, and he clutched at the bed sheets.

Buffy flashed her eyes up to Giles’ face, and, grinning evilly, she dipped her head down to swipe slightly at his penis. Groaning deep in his throat, Giles’s hands gripped harder on the bed sheets, his hips bucking on their own this time, wanting more contact.

“One.”

“Oh, dear lord.”

This continued for a good twenty minutes, with Buffy taking continuous light swipes, and Giles wanting to kill her from the intense anticipation.

“How many licks was that, Giles?” Buffy said, her hand softly gripping the base of his penis. With a dazed look in his eyes, he managed, “I lost count. After two.”

Laughing quietly, she leaned down and took the entirety into her mouth, feeling it touch the base of her throat. Giles’ entire torso rose up off the bed in surprise and ecstasy, and he fought to maintain control.

Buffy’s head bopped continuously, her tongue swiping back and forth as she wrapped her hands around his thighs, writhing her hips against the bed. Giles could feel himself getting closer and closer, and when he knew he couldn’t take it any more, he grabbed her shoulders, pulling her away and pulling her up to him, kissing her with all the passion built up inside. Rolling on top of her, he placed his hands underneath her body, pulling them both into a sitting position. Straddling his lap, Buffy never broke the kiss, maneuvering her body until she was sitting precariously on top of his rock-hard erection. Rotating her hips, she let only the tip enter her, then pulled back from him slightly, a wicked look in her eyes.

“I don’t think so,” Giles said, pulling roughly on her hips until he was fully inside of her. Keening in ecstasy, she let her head fall back, her hips moving of their own volition as she ground herself against him. Giles enjoyed the warmth and tightness, then pushed her back against the pillows, removing himself from her entirely and pausing. Buffy cried out in protest, her hands going to his ass as she tried to pull him back down to her. With a twinkle in his eye, he said, “Not nice to tease, is it?”

“You’re going to pay for that, Rupert,” Buffy said, pulling his head down to kiss him soundly.

He thrust back into her suddenly, and she wrapped her legs around his back, using her thigh muscles to move her hips in rythym with his. Resting his arms on either side of her head, he covered her lips with his, alternating the speed of his thrusts and fighting to keep from coming. He could feel her tightening around him, and he reached down to gently massage her clit, her cries of pleasure driving him closer and closer to the edge.

“Come for me, love,” he purred in her ear. “Come with me.”

Her inner muscles clenched around him so tight he had to bury his head in her shoulder, and she screamed in pleasure as she came. Thrusting a few more times, Giles followed her, his entire body tensing as he came hard, his arms tight around her.

They both lay for a few minutes, attempting to catch their breath. Giles pulled out slowly, not wanting to leave the embrace, and rolled slightly to one side, gently running his hand over her flat stomach.

“Are you alright?” he asked quietly when she still hadn’t opened her eyes. Slowly she looked up at him and grinned.

“Better than alright.”

Kissing her softly on the lips, then forehead, he said, “No regrets?”

“Mm. Maybe just one.”

“Oh?”

“We never did find out how many licks.”

Chuckling, Giles pulled the blanket over both of them, and as Buffy curled up against his chest, he said, “There’s always next time.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

AN: I have attempted the “how many licks” game, and I came up with 470 or so. But Anya’s been around a little longer, and probably has more tongue skills, than I, so I’m sure she could do it in 350. ::wicked grin::


**Challenge Requirements:**
Pairing: G/Anyone. G/Everyone. Just make it about Giles and make someone be nice to him. Pick your shipper poison, or give us orgy fun. It's up to you.

Rating: What you will, from "G", I think I'll let my grandma read this one to NC17...about which I can't come up with any clever wording, but make it as naughty as you please. Silliness and sexiness are the order of the day, BTW. No heavy angst, no character death, no serious bondage, no painful sex, and no non-consensual. Please also set any story involving Scooby sex AFTER high school graduation.

Requirements: the number 350 must appear at least twice in the story in some form, be it spoken word, written text, the number of orgasms Giles has in a one-week period (what a way to go!) or whatever, Giles dressed in any one of the following outfits: a suede loincloth and an earring, a tux, a pirate outfit, a Starfleet Security Uniform (in which case, it needs to be gotten off him ASAP.



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I Will Love You Until The End of Time

Author: Venus Blue
Written: June of 2001
Summary: Response to Amy (Starcrossed)’s fic, involving "Come What May" from Moulin Rouge. Willow and Oz go to the theater, and see a fantastic movie, and just to please Willow, Oz plans a special surprise for her.
Rating: R
Spoilers: None. Well, maybe a teeny bit for Moulin Rouge.
Feedback: Yes please
Disclaimer: The amazing Numfar formerly known as Joss Whedon owns all BTVS and Angel characters. He’s just letting me borrow them for awhile, out of respect for my benevolent Goddess-like presence. Baz Lurhman and company own all rights to Moulin Rouge, and it's fabulousness.
AN: As much as I love Willow and Tara as a couple, I do miss my little redheaded duo, so we’re just going to pretend he never left. After the horrible Veruca incident, they made up, and are more in love than ever. All is well in the Venus Blue-verse.
Awards: View, View 2nd Award, View 3rd award

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As Oz and Willow left the movie theater, Willow discreetly wiped her eyes. Oz smiled at her.

"Good movie, huh?"

Willow sniffled and said, "Very very good. It’s been a long time since we saw a movie."

They walked out to Oz’s van, and he opened the door for her before walking to his own side.

As they drove back to his house, they discussed the film they had just seen.

"It was so surreal. I didn’t expect that from the trailer."

"Neither did I. Nicole Kidman can really sing."

"I loved that song they kept singing."

"That Elton John song?" Oz asked, maneuvering the van through midday traffic.

"No, the other one. Um…Come What May?"

"Oh, yeah, that one. That was really nice. I wonder if I could play that on my guitar."

Smiling happily, Willow said, "That would be neat."

They got to the house, and Willow said, "I’m gonna call Buffy and tell her about it."

"Cool. I gotta run to Devon’s, talk to him about rehearsal. See you later?"

"You better believe it."

After a lingering kiss, Oz left, and Willow moved to the phone.

*********************

After describing every single minute of "Moulin Rouge" to Buffy, Willow hung up and sighed happily. The movie had put her in a good mood, and she wanted to stay that way.

Going into the kitchen, she looked through the cabinet until she found the margarita mix, then went through the refrigator. It usually was fairly empty, but they had just had a party, so it was pretty well stocked.

Opening one of the drawers, she found a half-empty package of strawberries, and set about making a blender full of strawberry margaritas. When it was complete, she fixed herself one, and froze the rest.

Full of energy, she started cleaning the small apartment, starting with their bedroom. Oz had a tendency to throw his clothing on the floor when he undressed, so Willow went through, scooping up shirts and pants.

She picked up one of her shirts, and found the black silk boxers she had bought him for a birthday present. Smiling, she ran the fabric across her cheek, smiling at the scent that was uniquely Oz.

Throwing the clothes in the laundry basket, she set about cleaning the bathroom, scrubbing the sink and counter. Without thinking, she found herself singing along to one of the songs from the movie.

"Roxanne," she sang, folding the towels and putting them on the rack, "you don’t have to put on the red light. Roooooooooxanne…"

By the time Oz got back, the house was clean, and Willow had set up everything.

He walked into the living room and called, "Will? Where are you?"

"Bedroom," was the response.

Walking into the bedroom, Oz paused in the doorway, smiling at the site.

Willow lay on the bed, wearing the lacy pink nightgown he had bought for her just weeks earlier. She held two glasses full of a light pink beverage, and she cocked her head at him, smiling seductively. On every flat surface, scented candles were lit, with red rose petals scattered across the mattress.

"Hey, baby," she said, kneeling on the bed.

He walked to her and gently captured her lips in his own, his hands going into her soft red hair.

"Wow. I thought I was the one who was supposed to set up the seduction scene."

She giggled and handed him one of the glasses. He sipped it and said, "This is pretty good."

"Thank you."

She lay back down on the bed and said, "Join me?"

"In a little while. First, I have a surprise for you. Maybe not as good as yours, but…"

"Ooh, a surprise?"

"Yep," he said, walking to the far wall, where his acoustic guitar lay. He pulled a few sheets of paper from his pocket, and sat down on the chair directly across from the bed.

Intrigued, Willow moved to the foot of the bed and laid on her stomach, resting her head on her fists.

He plucked a few strings of the guitar, testing it, before beginning the melody. Immediately, Willow recognized the song. She was pleasantly surprised when he began to sing in a clear, strong voice.

Never knew I could feel like this
Like I've never seen the sky before
I want to vanish inside your kiss
Every day I love you more and more

Oz looked down at the papers on the floor. He had gone to Devon’s and used his internet to find the music tabs and lyrics to the song Willow loved so much. Devon only used the computer to look up porn, so he hadn’t cared. He had practiced the song once over while there, to make sure he didn’t screw it up.

Listen to my heart
Can you hear it sing
Telling me to give you everything
Seasons may change from Winter to Spring
But I love you until the end of time

Willow felt the tears come to her eyes, and she sighed happily. She and Oz had been through so much, and she knew that after all they had been through, their love was stronger than ever, and they were bonded together eternally. She would indeed love him until the end of time.

Come what may
Come what may
I will love you until my dying day

Suddenly the world
Seems such a perfect place
Suddenly it moves with such a perfect grace
Suddenly my life doesn't seem such a waste
It all revolves around you

As Oz sang, he glanced up at her to see her reaction. Every time he saw those beautiful green eyes, his heart skipped a beat. He had hurt her so badly in the past, and she had forgiven him. Her heart had been broken, and she still saw fit to give him another chance. He would never let her be hurt again. She was the only woman ever who could touch him and make him feel like the only man on earth.

And there's no mountain too high
No river too wide
Sing out this song
And I'll be there by your side
Storm clouds may gather and stars may collide
But I love you until the end of time

No one had ever heard Oz sing before. He was too nervous to sing in front of a crowd, and even though Willow had continuously begged him, he still refused. The fact that he trusted her enough to do it now touched Willow more than anything he’d ever done for her. She loved him more and more every day.

Come what may
Come what may
I will love you until my dying day

He repeated the chorus three times, then looked up at her. The tears were pouring freely down her cheeks now, and she stood up, enveloping him in her arms.

"I love you so much," she said, stroking the back of his neck with her short fingernails.

"And I you," he said, wrapping his arms around her waist.

So quietly he almost didn’t realize she was doing it, she began to sing, "Come what may…come what may…I will love you until my dying day…"

He sang along with her, and they began to dance, slowly, their hands running up and down each other’s backs.

Gently leading her to the bed, he laid her back on the pillows, and began to trace kisses along her jawline, and down her neck.

As he moved down her body, Willow arched her back, her eyes closed.

They made love passionately, rolling on the bed, kissing and caressing as the sensations built and exploded in a wave of ecstasy that sucked them in and made them shudder with pleasure.

Afterwards, they lay together, limbs entangled, sheet pulled over them. The candles were beginning to burn out, and the smell of strawberry lingered.

"I love you so much," Oz said, nuzzling her neck.

Sighing happily, Willow said, "Well, that’s a good thing, because you know, Love is a many splendored thing, and love lifts us up where we belong, and all you need is love…"

Laughing, Oz kissed her, tickling her and causing her to erupt with laughter.

~The End

Shades of Grey


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Means of Survival

Author: Venus Blue
Written: October 21, 2004
Rating: PG
Pairing: Willow/Riley, with a cameo by one of Willow’s past lovers, and their new love.
Summary: Follow-up fic to “Value to Survival”. Willow and Riley have been going strong for two months, and someone from the past is about to find that out.
Disclaimer: Vote for Kerry! So says Joss, who owns this all, along with 20th Century Fox and the like.
Author’s Note: Again, as with the first, not one of my pairings of choice. But there was something I wanted desperately to put into the first fic, but it didn’t fit, ergo sequel.

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“So, have you told Buffy yet?”

Willow sighed and set her salad tongs to the side.

“Not yet. I’m still a little scared.”

Dawn put the lid back on the vegetable soup and grabbed a potholder. As she slid the baked rolls out of the oven, she eyed Willow and asked, “Do you plan on telling her?”

“I want to. I mean, I can’t keep it from her forever, but when we talk, I can never find the right way to bring it up. ‘Hi, Buffy! How’s Italy? How are Giles and the slayers? Oh, by the way, I’ve been dating your ex-boyfriend for two months now. Call you later?’”

Dawn laughed and sipped her wine.

“Well, I hate to break this to you…”

“What?”

“Buffy’s planning on coming back to the states next month.”

Willow dropped into a chair and stared at the other woman in disbelief.

“You’re kidding me.”

“Nope. They want to set up some schools over here, since the one in Italy is doing so well. Giles is going to New York to see about setting some up there.”

Willow looked up at the clock, and sighed.

“Riley’s gonna be here in twenty minutes. I’ll talk to him about it, and worry about it, then.”

Standing, Dawn picked up her purse and said, “I need to get home, anyway. Got a date tonight.”

“With Graham?”

Dawn grinned widely.

“Have I mentioned I love you for introducing me to him?”

“Couple hundred times,” Willow said, walking her to the door. “It’s still nice to hear, though.”

They hugged, and Dawn said, “Good luck. Have a good night.”

“You, too. Not too good, though.”

Dawn laughed and headed to the elevator.

*********************

“Hey, pretty lady,” Riley said, kissing her softly and handing her a bouquet of wild flowers.

“Hi,” Willow said, closing the door behind him. “How was your day?”

“Long and tiring. I missed you.”

“Missed you, too. Are you hungry?”

“Starving.”

“Come on.”

They went into the kitchen, and Willow handed him a bottle of wine. As he poured them each a glass, she served out the soup, salad, and rolls. Pulling a vase from her cabinet, she put the flowers in with water, and set it up in the center of the table.

“Music?” Riley asked.

“Nah. I don’t like chewing in time with the beat.”

Coming around the table, he pulled her into his arms and gave her a long sweet kiss.

“Mary Tyler Moore?”

“Yes, but it’s very true.”

Riley chuckled and held a chair out for her to sit. As they ate, Riley told her funny stories about the customers who’d called into the computer company where he worked.

“How’s the soup?”

“Delicious. I’m glad you talked me into staying in.”

“There’s only so much takeout and restaurant food you can eat before it gets old.”

“Yeah, but it’s fun.”

Willow laughed and leaned over to kiss him again.

“So, Dawn has another date with Graham tonight.”

“Really? You know, I’d never have believed those two could get along. Graham’s so quiet, and Dawn’s so…not.”

“They seem to be getting along great, though. We’re great matchmakers.”

“We should start a business.”

Willow kept trying to find a way to work up the nerve to broach the Buffy subject, but every time she looked up, Riley was smiling at her and her spine went out the window.

Their plates were both nearly empty when Willow set her fork down.

“Riley?”

“Yeah?”

“I need to tell you something.”

Setting his own fork down, he said, “Sounds serious.”

“Dawn was here earlier, and she said…well, she said Buffy’s going to be back in the states next month.”

“Really?”

“Yeah,” she said, studying his expression.

“How do you feel about that?”

“Scared. Nervous. Worried.”

Riley frowned and asked, “You’re worried she’ll be mad that we’re dating?”

“Among other things?”

He continued to look at her, and she asked, “More soup?”

Standing up, she walked to the stove, busying herself with ladling more soup in his bowl. He placed his hand on her wrist, and she paused.

“Willow.”

She looked down at him, and he said, “Come here.”

He stood, taking her hand, and leading her into the living room. He sat down and pulled her into his lap, stroking her hair and rubbing her arm.

“You’re worried that my old feelings will resurface.”

Smiling weakly, she said, “Well, you two do have heavy history.”

“Yeah, and so do you and Oz, and Kennedy, and Tara.”

Willow’s face crinkled slightly, and he smoothed his hand over her forehead.

“Can I tell you a secret?”

“Of course.”

“Do you remember,” he asked softly, shifting and wrapping his arms around her waist, “the first time we met?”

“In the bookstore? The concussion?”

“Yeah. Do you have any idea how beautiful I thought you were?”

“You…you were attracted to me? But-”

“Well, I wasn’t about to ask you out right then and there, that’s not my style. Then I found out about Oz, and…”

“You moved onto Buffy.”

“Yeah. I mean, I didn’t figure you and Oz were breaking up anytime soon, and then when it happened-”

“You were already into Buffy.”

“And you were so torn up. I wasn’t about to push it.”

Willow stroked the back of his head and said, “You were really interested in me?”

“Oh, my god, was I. I get knocked in the head, and when I manage to regain my composure, there’s a gorgeous red head standing in front of me. Then, not only is she a knockout, she’s smart as hell, too.”

Willow felt her face growing red, and she said, “You weren’t too bad yourself.”

“The bump on my head added mystery?”

“Something like that,” she murmured, moving in to kiss him.

*********************

That night, as Riley slept soundly, one arm draped over Willow’s waist, she stared up at the ceiling, her brain going haywire.

Sliding out of the bed, she pulled her robe on and went into the living room. Sitting on the couch, she picked up the phone, hoping they were still awake.

The phone rang four times before a soft, hoarse voice picked up.

“Hello?”

“Hey, Oz. I didn’t wake you, did I?”

“Nah, we’re just watching a movie.”

“Oh, I don’t want to interrupt.”

“Don’t worry about it. I can only see the South Park movie so many times before…”

“Xander’s night to pick?”

“You guessed it.”

Willow smiled and looked toward the bedroom.

“I’ve got a problem, and I need to talk to someone about it.”

“Go for it,” he said, and Willow heard the distinct flick of a lighter.

“Buffy’s coming home next month.”

“That’s good,” Oz said, his voice tight with smoke. “Right?”

“Yeah, except she doesn’t know about me and Riley.”

“Ah. Not good.”

“I’m really scared.”

“That she’ll be mad?”

“There’s that, and there’s the thought of Riley and Buffy seeing each other again.”

“What did Riley say?”

“He put me at ease, a little. I mean, I know he cares about me, but there’s so much history there.”

“Didn’t you tell me something about history being in the past?”

Willow smiled despite herself.

“Riley know you still talk to me, and to Tara?”

“Yeah.”

“And he’s fine with that?”

“Very.”

“Then you should trust him like he trusts you.”

Willow sighed.

“You’re right. You’re always right.”

“Not always. But I try.”

Looking at the clock, Willow said, “It’s late. I’m going to try to sleep again.”

“Alright. One more thing?”

“Yeah.”

“Call Buffy. Don’t let her find out when she gets home.”

Frowning, she said, “I’ll think about it, but I’m just not sure.”

“Alright.”

“Thanks, Oz. So much.”

“Anytime.”

“Give Xander my love.”

“I will.”

“Bye.”

She hung up the phone and sighed. Going into the bedroom, she picked up Riley’s shirt and pulled it on, sliding back into bed and pulling the blanket up. Riley rolled over and pulled her to him, kissing her shoulder and hugging her close.

“Where’d you go?” he asked sleepily.

“Needed some words of wisdom.”

“How is Oz?”

Willow smiled and kissed his forehead.

“He’s good.”

Taking her face in his hands, he kissed her gently.

“You still scared?”

“Not as much. Got a little perspective.”

“Can we sleep then?”

Willow laughed and said, “Certainly.”

*********************

Tapping her pen on the notepad in front of her, Willow picked up the phone and dialed the number to Buffy’s apartment in Italy. A thickly accented voice answered, and Willow asked, “May I speak to Buffy, please?”

“One moment.”

Willow chewed her pen cap until she heard the familiar bubbly voice.

“Hello?”

“Hey, Buffy.”

“Willow! Hi. Did Dawn tell you the news?”

“She did, last night. That’s great.”

“You…don’t sound too excited.”

“No, I am. It’s going to be great to see you again. Finally.”

“Is something wrong? You don’t sound like yourself.”

“I need to talk to you about something.”

“Okay…”

“It’s really important, and I’m a little nervous about telling you.”

“You can tell me anything, Will. You know that.”

“I know. Doesn’t make it any easier.”

“What is it?”

“A couple of months ago, I started seeing someone.”

“Well, that’s great!”

“It is. He’s really sweet, and we get along so well.”

“Then…what? What’s wrong?”

Willow took a deep breath before saying, “It’s Riley.”

There was a long silence, and Willow began to stammer.

“I didn’t want to drop this on you right when you got back, and I hated keeping it from you for so long, but I never knew how to tell you, and I know I’m breaking a major best friend code and I didn’t mean for this to happen-”

“Willow, calm down. I’m not mad.”

“You…you’re not?”

“No. You shocked the hell out of me, but I’m not mad. Riley and I were over a long time ago. I want nothing but happiness for him, and definitely for you.”

“You don’t know what it means to hear you say that.”

“I’ve done a lot of growing, Will. I know I haven’t always been the greatest friend, but I do love you, you know.”

“I know.”

“He treats you good?”

“Very very.”

“I wouldn’t expect any less.”

Willow rested her head in her hands and sighed deeply.

“You were really worried, weren’t you?”

“Extremely.”

“Come on, Willow. Were you angry when Xander and Oz got together?”

“No. Really, really surprised, but not angry.”

“Then you should understand.”

Willow smiled and said, “Our group is really into internal dating, isn’t it?”

Buffy’s laugh was wonderful to her ears.

“I guess I need to find someone’s ex to date.”

“I think Tara’s currently single.”

Laughing again, Buffy said, “I’ll keep that in mind.”

They talked for over an hour before Buffy said, “Well, let me let you go, I don’t want to destroy your phone bill this month.”

“Alright. Call me next month, so I know when you’re arriving?”

“Absolutely.”

“I love you, Buffy.”

“I love you, too, Will.”

*********************

“You ready for this?”

“Not at all,” Willow said, wringing her hands as she stood at the arrival gate. Riley took one of her hands in his and said, “Can I try to help?”

“Exercise in futility.”

Pulling her to the side, he rested his hand on her cheek and kissed her soundly. Pulling back, he put his mouth next to her ear.

“I love you, Willow.”

Smiling so hard her face hurt, Willow said, “I love you, too.”

They kissed again, and Willow hugged him tightly, resting her head on his chest.

“Public displays of affection?” came a voice from behind them. “Riley, I do believe you’ve been a bad influence on her.”

They both turned, and Buffy grinned at them, setting her carry-on bag down and crossing her arms.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, she’s a bad influence on me.”

Buffy grinned and held out her arms, and Willow hugged her tightly.

“God, it is so good to see you again,” she said, squeezing the blonde. “You look great!”

“Thanks, so do you! You let your hair grow out again!”

“Yeah, it’s a little bit of a pain, but it works.”

Turning to Riley, she smiled and said, “And this is my boyfriend.”

Smirking, she said, “It’s so nice to meet you! Willow’s told me so much about you.”

Riley rolled his eyes and said, “Yeah, yeah, yeah,” as he moved forward to hug her. Willow smiled as they pulled apart and Riley came back to her side.

“Let’s go get your bags,” he said, picking up her carry-on and heading to the luggage claim. The girls followed, and Riley reached back to grab her hand.

Willow smiled, and entwined her arm with Buffy’s.

“I’m so glad you’re home.”

[The End]


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Salad Days

Author: Venus Blue
Summary: Set during the summer before Season 4, Giles doesn’t want Buffy to lose herself after the events of Season 3. Written for Catherine in the GRB Giles-centric ficathon. She requested Buffy/Giles, set around the time of Seasons 3-4, a happy ending, and humor. Gileswench’s additions were Oz and a green dress. Hope this works.
Pairing: Buffy/Giles
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, 20th Century Fox, etc, etc, etc, blah blah blah.
Distribution: All lists that archive, anyone who wants, please ask.
Author’s Note: Title is from Shakespeare, ‘Antony and Cleopatra’: “My salad days, when I was green in judgment, cold in blood”. Not beta’d, so any mistakes are my own.
Awards:View award

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After graduation, once the debris had settled and the police had covered everything up, Giles put Buffy to work. The events of the past few months had left her mentally spent and physically and emotionally exhausted. Giles didn’t want to see her become a shell of the girl he knew and loved.

He spoke with Joyce, and she agreed, so he put her to work shelving and categorizing the rescued books from the library.

In the beginning, they didn’t talk much, other than light conversation. Giles made a detailed record of the collection, and Buffy boxed and shelved according to Giles’ instructions.

Watching him flip between the pages of his ledger to add a book to both the poetry and the philosophy categories, Buffy shook her head and asked, “Don’t you ever just alphabetize anything?”

He laughed softly at that.

“I am a true librarian at heart.”

In late July, Joyce and Dawn went to Los Angeles to visit her aunt. Buffy was invited, but she’d never been close to that part of her family, so she declined the offer. That night, Giles invited her to stay in and have dinner with him. It was more appealing than the pizza she’d planned to order, so she helped him prepare the meal.

As he tossed a salad to go with the broiled salmon, Buffy removed a bottle of wine from his cabinet.

“Do you mind?” she asked, waving the bottle lightly. He frowned, but said, “I suppose not, it’s not as though you’re driving.”

They sat down to eat, and Buffy was pleasantly surprised to learn that Giles did, in fact, know how to cook.

“Years of bachelorhood,” he said dryly, “and a mother who insisted I know how to prepare a meal for myself.”

“Can you make bangers and mash?”

“Can you make apple pie?”

“Point taken.”

Taking a drink of his wine, Giles said, “I, um, called the hospital today.”

Suspecting she knew where this was going, Buffy replied, “And?”

“They’ve moved Faith to a private room. The mayor apparently left her a great deal of money, and it should keep her comfortable for quite some time.”

Looking down, Buffy swallowed with difficulty and said, “That’s good. I want her to be…”

“What?” he asked gently.

Shrugging, Buffy said quietly, “I want her to be at peace. Guess that’s not really possible, with the coma and all.”

“Faith chose the road she went down, Buffy. You didn’t make her side with the mayor.”

“I didn’t help, though. Think of everything I could have…*should* have…”

“We all make mistakes, Buffy. There were things I, as her watcher, should have done.”

“But you were too busy taking care of me. And I was too busy with Angel.”

Her face crumpled before she fought and regained her composure. Pushing her plate away, she laughed bitterly and said, “Guess we both wasted our time.”

Giles pushed his own plate away, and moved to her side of the table.

“Neither of us wasted anything. Angel loved you, there is no denying that, no matter how any of us try to believe different. I know it’s hard to see right now, but he left because he loves you.”

Standing, Buffy went into the living room, sitting on the couch and wiping furiously at her eyes.

Giles sat beside her and wrapped his arm around her shoulders. She stiffened at first, then leaned her head on his shoulder, crying quietly. Giles held her, resting his forehead in her hair, murmuring softly.

She eventually cried herself to sleep, and Giles leaned back, resting his head and listening to her breathe.

*********************

When Buffy awoke, Giles was waiting with a glass of orange juice. Stretching, she rubbed her eyes and sat up, pushing her hair out of her face and taking a long drink.

“Are you feeling better?” he asked softly.

“Yeah. I’m really sorry about that, about last night.”

“Nothing to be sorry about. I think you needed it.”

“Yeah, I really did.”

He rubbed her shoulder, and said, “I don’t have much in the way of breakfast foods, would you like some eggs and toast?”

She started to protest, but her stomach growled loudly, and they both smiled.

“Sure, why not?”

Giles made the eggs while Buffy toasted the bread and fixed herself a cup of coffee and Giles a mug of English Breakfast Tea. They sat down to eat, and Giles complimented her on her ability to make tea.

“I’ve been around you too long,” she said wryly.

His phone rang while they were washing the few dishes. It was Willow, calling to see if he knew where Buffy was.

“She’s right here, hold on, Willow.”

She dried her hands and smiled as she took the phone from him.

“Buffy, where were you? I called your house last night, and no one answered.”

“Sorry, Will. My mom’s out of town, and I accidentally fell asleep on Giles’ couch.”

“Oz and I are going to the flea market in the next town over. Do you want to come with?”

She glanced over at Giles, who was wiping down the stove, and said, “Hang on.” Cupping the receiver, she said, “Willow wants to know if we want to go to a flea market with her and Oz.”

He looked up, slightly surprised, and said, “Certainly.”

“Sure, Will. What time do you want to go?”

“We’ll be leaving around 11:00. We’ll come and get you?”

“Okay. Giles and I will be ready.”

“Giles is coming?”

“Yeah. That’s okay, right?”

“Oh, of course, I just didn’t figure he’d want to come. I’ll see you in a few hours.”

“See you then.”

She hung up the phone, and looked down at her wrinkled clothes.

“I’m going to run home and change, but I’ll be back before they get here.”

She picked up her bag and headed out the door.

*********************

Buffy ran her hand over a rack of faded T-shirts as she perused the dusty shelves of the flea market. Willow had dragged Giles off to show him the books, and she was fending for herself among the hordes of large women and small children.

Squeezing between a middle-aged woman clutching a screaming toddler’s hand and a rack of men’s pants, Buffy began flipping through another rack of clothing. Oz appeared in front of her, a stack of comic books clutched in his hand.

“For Xander,” he said, showing her the covers. “Got some vintage Green Lanterns, early X-Men. Thought he’d appreciate them.”

She smiled warmly, and he asked, “Anything grab your attention?”

“Not really. I’m not really into vintage anything.”

“Isn’t vintage in this year?”

She smiled at him and pulled out a tee that proclaimed “Disco Sucks!” in bright bubble letters.

“I don’t see myself wearing this,” she said, grinning.

“You’re thinking about it too much. Just let something find you. Like this,” he said, picking out a satiny green dress with a boxed neck and a skirt that looked like it would fall just above Buffy’s knees.

She blinked, and took the dress from him.

“How did you do that?”

He shrugged and scratched his ear, smiling softly.

Giles and Willow came up then, Willow with a stack of books under arm, Giles with a book that was thinner than most he owned, but not by any other definition.

“Giles, don’t you have enough books?” she teased, folding the skirt of the dress up so it wouldn’t drag the floor. He glared playfully at her, and said, “Did you find something you like?”

“I did, thanks to the flea market god here.” Oz blushed lightly, and Willow grabbed his hand, smiling happily.

Buffy paid for the dress (“Ten dollars? Why haven’t I shopped here before?”), and they walked out to the van. It didn’t seem to want to start, so Oz and Giles got out to check under the hood. Willow turned in her seat to look at Buffy and asked, “Okay, I have to know. What is up between you and Giles?”

Buffy smiled softly and said, “What do you mean?”

“I see that smile! I know you’ve been over there helping him with the books, which, I might add, is not like you at all. And you’re spending the night at his house, and inviting him on daily outings. And the looks you two give each other…”

“What looks?”

The driver’s side door opened, and Giles said, “Buffy, Oz says there’s a flat-head screwdriver back there. Do you see it?”

Buffy moved a few things around before finding the screwdriver behind a worn amp. She passed it to him, and after a quick thank you, he disappeared back behind the hood of the van.

Willow turned back to her, grinning, and said, “Mm-hmm.”

“What? He asked for a screwdriver, I gave it to him.”

“You two are so vibe-y it’s not even funny.”

*********************

“I really don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Oz wiped the back of his neck with one of the t-shirts he’d just bought, and said, “Just telling you what I see, man.”

Giles shifted nervously and said, “Oz, I’m old enough to be her father.”

“Crank it?”

“Beg your pardon?”

“Try cranking the van?”

Giles into the driver’s seat, and tried the key. Nothing. Buffy asked worriedly, “Should we call someone?”

“Nah, this is Oz’s baby,” Willow reassured her. “He’ll get her going,”

Climbing back out, Giles walked around to Oz, who was shoulders deep under the hood.

“I’m only saying, man. I’ve never seen anyone look at their father the way she looks at you.”

Giles fingered the necklace in his pocket and removed his glasses, rubbing them with his handkerchief.

*********************

Giles had just put a record on and was sitting down with a glass of his best single malt scotch when there was a knock at the door. Opening it, he found Buffy, wearing the beautiful green dress she’d bought the day before and with her hair pulled up.

“Buffy. I thought you were going to stay in tonight.”

“I was, but I got to thinking, and wanted to see you.”

He held the door open and motioned her inside. She moved to the couch, then turned to look at him.

“Sit? Please?”

He did, though hesitantly, and she sat next to him, twisting her hands in her lap.

“Willow and I were talking, and…she got me thinking. And my brain won’t stop, and unless I talk to you, I may very well go out of my mind from thinking.”

“Well, we can’t have that,” he said lightly. “What’s on your mind?”

“Giles, how do you feel about me?”

He blinked a few times before replying, “I’m sorry?”

“Like, do you think of me as your daughter? Or your friend? Or just your slayer? Or…”

“I care very deeply for you, Buffy. I have never thought of you as a daughter, but it’s been a very long time since I thought of you as only ‘my slayer’. You’re…you’re everything to me.”

Her eyes welled up with tears, and she said, “Giles, I’m scared.”

He took her hand in both of his and rubbed it lightly. “Of what?”

“I’m…I have all these…feelings, running rampant in me, and…I’m…Giles, I’m falling in love with you.”

He inhaled sharply, and she tried to take her hand away and stand. He held on tightly, however, and she sat back down, refusing to look at him.

“I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be,” he said, amazed at how calm he sounded. “I understand how you feel, more than you know.”

She looked at him hopefully, and he leaned forward, cupping her face and kissing her softly. She returned the kiss, and the tears spilled freely down her cheeks. Pulling back and resting his forehead against hers, he asked softly, “Why are you crying?”

“That’s another part of the scared. The ‘r’ word.”

“R word?”

“What if this is a rebound reaction? Giles, I can’t stand the idea of hurting you.”

She buried her face in his shoulder, and he stroked her back.

“It may very well be. There’s only one way to make sure we don’t ruin anything.”

“What’s that?”

He pulled away from her gently, and walked over to his desk, pulling out a small silver chain. Handing it to her, he said, “We just have to take it slow.”

She fingered the silver chain and the kanji pendant, and smiled up at him questioningly.

“I bought it at the flea market. It’s heiwa, the Japanese symbol for peace.”

She smiled brightly and leaned in for another kiss.

“Can I stay here tonight?” she asked quietly. He appeared hesitant, and she said, “Not to…just to be with you. To be close to you.”

He kissed her forehead and murmured, “Of course you can.”

They stood, and Giles held her at arms length.

“I do so like that dress.”

She blushed happily and said, “I was hoping you would. A little incentive, and green is good luck.”

They went upstairs, and Giles gave Buffy a pair of his pajamas to change into. They were big on her, but not too big, and they crawled under the blankets, Giles wrapping his arms around her waist and pulling her close. They talked and kissed until neither was able to hold their eyes open any longer.

*********************

The phone rang early the next morning, and Giles blinked drearily as he reached for the receiver before it woke Buffy.

“Rupert? Hi, it’s Olivia.”

It took him a moment to connect the name with a face, and he smiled.

“Olivia, how good to hear from you again.”

“You, too. Listen, I’m going to be in Los Angeles on a month-long business trip coming up, and I was wondering if I might stop by? We could catch up on old times.”

Looking down at the peaceful blonde whose head was resting on his stomach, he said, “That’s probably not a good idea. I’ve got a full schedule right now, and wouldn’t be much of a good host.”

“Ah, you’ve gotten yourself a girlfriend!”

Giles chuckled and asked, “How could you tell?”

“Busy schedules have never stopped us before.”

He smiled and said, “She’s a wonderful woman.”

“Good to hear it. Talk to you soon, I hope?”

“Absolutely. Goodbye, Olivia.”

He hung up the phone and turned back to see Buffy smiling up at him sleepily.

“Old girlfriend?”

“Something like that,” he said, leaning down for a kiss. “She was going to be in town soon, wanted to catch up.” She raised an eyebrow, and he said, “I, of course, said no.”

Pulling herself up to rest her head beside his on the pillow, she pecked him softly on the cheek and said, “Her loss, my gain. Yay.”

“Yay, indeed,” he said, nuzzling her neck and tickling her. She giggled and grabbed his ribs, and they wrestled around on the bed until Giles held up his hands, gasping for breath.

“You win, you win!”

“And my prize?”

“Breakfast in bed?” he asked, sitting up and swinging his legs over the side. She dived back under the covers and fluffed the pillows before laying back and putting her hands behind her head.

“Works for me.”

He kissed her one last time before disappearing down the stairs. Buffy smiled softly to herself, genuinely happy for the first time in months.

[The End]


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So Many Things Ignored

Author: Venus Blue
Written: April 19, 2004
Rating: PG
Summary: Faith works on herself while in prison.
Timeline: Right before Wesley breaks Faith out of prison.
Disclaimer: Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, 20th Century Fox, etc. I am nothing but insignificant lint, blah blah, copyright blah.
Distribution: Lists who archive. Anyone who wants, ask.
Author's Note : Written for Shelley for the livejournal meme wherein people pick icons and I write drabble/fic based on them. This is based on an icon featuring Eliza Dushku as Faith in Salvage, with the caption "Beautiful Disaster".

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Faith had learned fast to make alliances with the guards in prison. If you wanted to survive inside, you had to make fast friends with the important people.

They knew she was strong. They knew she wielded power among the husbands, and even more power among the Betty's. She never made a friend among the other women, but after she broke one Bettys arm for trying to make a name by topping her, their were no obvious enemies, either.

So when the entire prison went on lockdown after a riot in the cafeteria, Faith knew who to talk to to get some special priveleges.

The guard who let her out into the yard was new, and didn't really understand why this inmate got away with things the guards would beat another inmate half to death over. But she'd seen the way number 430019 had broken up the riot without any casualties, so she wasn't about to buck the inner system.

Faith entered the yard slowly, raising her head and looking up at the bright sky. It was a pretty day, no clouds in the sky, and it was quiet. She looked over at Benny, the guard who was sitting on one of the tables, his gun resting casually in his lap. He nodded at the radio near the weight set, and said, "Only thing we had was an old tape player. Plays some FM stations, but the reception around here sucks."

"Thanks, Ben."

She walked over to it, and popped the tape out. Looking at it, she shrugged and put it back in, pressing play and going over to the chin bar.

The song was hard, but strangely soothing, and she found herself moving along to the beat of the music. It was one of those rap rock bands that she normally never bothered with, but it was all she had, and it could have been worse.

She stretched, limbering her body up before jumping up and grabbing the bar, hanging for a minute before starting her normal routine.

She'd spent nearly everyday she'd been in prison working on herself. In the beginning, it was all mental. Going over everything she'd done in her life, personal atonement, as she liked to call it. She hadn't gone the route of other women in here, finding God and going to the chapel every Sunday to keep herself from going to hell. Instead, she sat on her bunk at night, having conversations with whatever it was the other girls prayed to. If she was going to hell for what she did, she wanted to have her say first.

Other women in the prison let their minds and their bodies rot away. They got thin and gaunt, or they bullied other prisoners for their food and got fat and lazy. Some did drugs that made them look like they'd been in for decades rather than years. Others subjected themselves to the abuse of stronger women with more say, and ended up covered with bruises for slight infractions.

Once Faith had peace of mind, she worked on her body. She ate the meals they served heartily, despite their lack of flavor. She worked out everyday in the yard, and practiced the fight moves Giles had taught her all those years before in Sunnydale while locked in her tiny cell. She'd scraped up her knuckles more times then she could count by misjudging her steps and hitting the cement walls.

New male guards took one look at her, and thought she was easy prey. Beautiful girl stuck in prison, scared little lamb. Luckily for her, the other guards warned them off pretty quickly, otherwise she'd lose her priveleges for beating on one of their own.

But despite all the work she did on her mind, body, and soul, nothing she did could stop the nightmares at night. The voices in her head, MomBuffyAngelWesley, the visions of blood and carnage.

Beautiful disaster, Benny liked to call her.

Faith thought it fit well.

[The End]


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Spike's First Slayer

Author: Venus Blue
Written: August of 2001
Summary: Set after "The Gift." Buffy wasn't the only Slayer to win Spike's heart, or to break it.
Rating: PG
Spoilers: No true BTVS/Angel fan can say they are spoiled by this fic. If you haven’t seen or heard anything about the ending to "The Gift," you should probably leave now. And go bash your head with a rock.
Feedback: Worth it's weight in gold.
Disclaimer: Two words…Grr…argh.
AN: I am ignoring all that we know from FFL, just ‘cause I like taking something that God created (God being Joss, of course) and making it my own. So please r/r. ‘Cause you love me.
Warning: Character Death.
Awards: View Award, View 2nd award, View 3rd award

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"Thanks," Spike managed as Xander and Giles helped him back to his crypt. After they released him from their grip, he managed to hoist himself up on the lid of the tomb where he slept, carefully swinging his broken leg up and covering himself with his blanket.

Xander and Giles, both too absorbed in their own grief to worry about the vampire, quickly left.

Spike stared up at the stony, cracked ceiling of his crypt, refusing to let himself shed anymore tears. She was gone. There was nothing more he could do. He just had to move on with his life.

But he knew that wasn’t going to happen. No matter what he told himself, he would never be able to move on.

Not again.

Reaching into the pocket of his jeans, he pulled out the crumpled packet of cigarettes, and knocked one out. He tore the broken filter from it, and lit it, never taking his eyes off the ceiling.

Why? he kept asking himself. The fates must really have it in for me. They took away all the women I’ve ever loved in my life.

He thought of Buffy. He thought of Dru. And…he thought of her. He had tried not to think of her…he didn’t want to remember her…he wanted to forget. He wanted to forget all the women of his life, especially her.

Turning gingerly on his side, Spike screwed his eyes shut and tried to sleep. Images of Buffy leaping to her death ran behind his lids, and he shoved them to the back of his brain. And then images of her.

As Spike drifted off to sleep, he knew he would dream of her.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

ENGLAND-1798

"Emily? Are you here?"

William burst through the door of his beloved’s house, a huge grin played out on his face.

"William? Is that you?"

Emily came out of the kitchen then, and William’s smile got even wider. Even after all these years, her beauty still took his breath away.

"I missed you," she said, running up to him and enveloping him in her arms. He relished her embrace, his face buried in her soft red curls.

"Oh, and I missed you."

"Your mother stopped by today," she said, pulling away. "She wanted to know if you’d seen the tailor about your suit yet."

"My suit?" he said with mock ignorance.

"Don’t tell me you forgot!" she said, a look of pretend annoyance on her face. "The wedding is only a month away!"

Laughing, he swept her up in his arms, spinning her.

"How could I forget the soon-to-be happiest day of our lives?"

"That’s better," she said, giggling. "Now put me down! The dinner is going to burn!"

He did set her down, and after kissing her soundly, let her scurry into the kitchen to check the pot of stew that was simmering on the stove.

"I ran into Lord Leopold today. He told me some rather disturbing news."

"Oh, dear, what is it?"

"Apparently, they found the body of a young girl in the alley on Main Street last night."

"Oh, no, how horrible! Here, come taste this."

She held a spoon up, and he walked over, taking a small sip of the broth.

"Delicious."

"Hmm," she said, taking a sip herself, "needs something."

"It’s perfect, and I’m ravenous. When will it be ready?"

"Any minute. Would you like to set the table?"

"Ah, yes, invite me over for dinner, then make me do the chores."

"Of course."

After the table was set, Emily served the stew with fresh baked bread and wine, and they sat down to eat.

"Have you spoken with your father about taking over his shop?"

"Yes, I did," he said, taking a sip of his wine. "He said after we’re married, I’m more than welcome to stay on with him at the shop until he passes on, then it shall be mine. My brothers show no interest in it, preferring to lounge about like mongrels."

"Ah, they’re young. They have yet to get their footing."

They talked about light subjects throughout the meal, then when they were through eating, she cleared the table and went into the kitchen to wash the dishes.

Still seated at the table, sipping his wine, William watched the scarlet-haired beauty bustle about the kitchen, humming softly to herself.

How did I ever get so lucky? he thought to himself.

As she dried the plates and put them away, he came up behind her, wrapping his arms around her waist. She smiled and leaned back into the embrace.

"Shall I stay the night tonight?"

Frowning, she said, "Oh, I think not, William. I can’t have the neighbors spreading rumors about us, now can I?"

"Oh, forget the sodding neighbors," he said, planting kisses on her neck and jawbone. "They’re all a bunch of-"

"William," she said, a warning resounding in her tone.

Laughing he said, "Well, I do suppose there’s plenty of time for that after we’re married, right?"

"Absolutely."

Pulling out his pocket watch, he said, "My, it is getting late. I really should be heading on. See you tomorrow?"

"Of course."

They kissed, a long, lingering kiss that promised much more later, and then he left.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

After finishing up at his father’s shop the next afternoon, William immediately headed for Emily’s house.

Knocking briskly on the door, he tried the handle, as always, and found to his surprise that it was locked. Puzzled, he knocked a little louder, and waited. There was no reply.

Frowning, he looked through a window, expecting to see her scurry to the door, having just woken up from a light nap. Still there was nothing.

Strange, he thought to himself. She’s always home when I get done with work.

Seeing one of her neighbors pass by, he stopped them.

"Lady Hargrove, have you perchance seen Emily?"

"Why, no, William. She left early this morning for the market, and I never saw her return. I assumed she went to visit you, and got distracted."

"No, haven’t seen her myself. Thank you."

Ever more confused, William headed toward his house. If he had waited just a few more minutes, he would have seen Emily come up to the house, a handkerchief to her face as tears poured down her cheeks. She was followed by someone he had never seen before.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"It can’t be true! It just can’t!"

"It is true, Emily. This is your birthright. You cannot deny it."

Emily sat on the chaise lounge in her drawing room, still crying. A tall, distinguished looking man stood near the fireplace, a stern expression on his face.

"But…but William and I…we are to be married!"

"You cannot. You have a sacred duty, and no one must ever know of it. You must break off your ties to him at once, for his own safety."

"But I love him!"

"Then you have no other choice. If you truly love him, you will send him away, never to see you again."

"I didn’t ask for this. I don’t want any of this!"

"You have no choice in the matter. It is your destiny."

He walked to a small table and picked up a framed photograph of William. He was dressed regally, a smile on his face as he waited for her to snap the picture. They were so in love…

"I’ll return tomorrow. You know what you must do."

Still sobbing, she watched him leave her home. She took a shaky breath, dried her eyes, and grabbed her handbag.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"Emily! I’ve been looking for you! I came by your house, and Lady Hargrove said-"

"William, we need to talk."

Seeing the grave expression on her face, he immediately became quiet. She walked into his parlor, and sat down on one of the chairs, not making eye contact with him.

"Emily, what is it? What’s wrong?"

"William, I’m afraid…I’m afraid I can’t see you anymore."

"What? Why on earth not?"

"I just…I don’t have the same feelings for you that I used to."

Confused, he said, "I don’t understand. We’re to be married."

"I can’t marry you William. It wouldn’t be right for either of us."

"But, Emily…what are you talking about? Why, just yesterday-"

"I’m sorry, William. Things change. It’s not your fault."

"Is it…have you found someone else?"

She immediately wanted to deny it, but instead said, "Yes. I’m afraid I have found someone else. I can’t lie to you anymore. He…he is a merchant, and he’s very wealthy. He’ll be able to keep me happy for the rest of my life."

"And I…I can’t make you happy?"

"No," she said, fighting the tears rising up in her throat. "You can’t. I think it’s best if we just both move on with our lives."

William felt as though the ground had dropped out from underneath him. Never in his life had he ever felt so…helpless.

"Emily, this isn’t you. Something is making you act this way. I don’t believe it."

"Believe it," she said harshly. "I don’t love you. I don’t want to be with you. I love someone else. It’s simple as that. I’ll never love you."

She stood to go, and he grabbed her forcefully by her arms.

"Look me in the eye!" he said, his voice full with emotion. "Look me in the eye and tell me you don’t want to spend your life with me."

Mustering all the courage she could, she looked him squarely in his beautiful eyes and said, "I don’t. Let go of me."

He did, and she walked out of the house, never once looking back at him.

He fell to the floor, sobs wrenching his body.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"Barkeep! Another!"

The pub was especially rowdy that night. It seemed every man in town had heard that William had been dumped, and they all wanted to say something to him.

"Ah, mate, chin up. Girls will always break your heart. Mustn’t let it get to you."

"Hey, how about we all chip in to buy William here a tavern wench?"

A loud cry arose from the crowd, and William downed his ale, motioning to the keep for another glass. He didn’t want a wench. He wanted Emily back.

When his purse was empty, the keep threw him out, and he staggered up the London streets, tears pouring silently from his eyes. He stumbled and fell, his eyes fuzzy. He looked up and managed to see a lone figure standing over him.

"Emily?" he asked, his voice thick with alcohol.

"Ah, me son," said a deep male voice with a thick Irish brogue, "I may be a lot of things, but an Emily I am not."

William rubbed his eyes, and saw a very tall man looming over him. His long brown hair was held back in a ponytail, and he held himself with the grace of a baron.

Extending a hand, the man helped William up and said, "And what are ya doing out this late at night, might I ask?"

"Just having meself a drink. Ran out of coin."

"Ah, you don’t need money. I can give you plenty to drink."

"Really?"

"For sure. Come with me."

William stumbled along behind the Irishman, wondering where he was taking him.

They turned a corner, and ran into a beautiful blonde woman of obvious noble birth, and a beautiful brunette temptress.

"Angelus," the blonde said happily, reaching up her arms to encircle his neck.

"Hello, me love."

They kissed passionately, and William watched, feeling jealousy creep into his bones.

"Who is this?" the blonde asked when they broke the embrace.

"Name’s William," he slurred, holding out his hand.

She placed her hand out, palm up, and he kissed it, noticing the man she’d called Angelus looking at her with murder in her eyes. He quickly let go of her hand. The brunette said nothing, simply watched the proceedings with bright green eyes.

"I’m Darla, this is Kathryn, and you’ve already met Angelus."

" ‘Allo," he said, stumbling a bit. "Angelus here said he would get me some drink."

"Aye, that I did," Angelus said. William noticed a small smirk spread across Darla’s face, and he wondered what that meant.

Angelus’ back was to him, and when he turned, his face was horribly disfigured. Gasping in surprise, William took a step back, and was immediately grabbed tightly as Angelus grabbed his head, pushing it one side and burying his teeth into William’s neck.

He cried out, and closed his eyes. When he opened them, he saw Darla smiling that same small smile at him, obviously pleased with the show. Kathryn’s eyes twinkled brightly, and she linked arms with Darla, the two of them giddy as schoolgirls.

His vision began to blur, and he felt his feet going out from under him. He knew was about to die.

I love you, Emily, he thought. Just before he blacked out, he watched Angelus bite his own wrist, and move it toward his mouth.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Throwing the body aside, William looked to Angelus.

"Is that all there is for tonight? I’m still hungry."

"Ah, you learn fast," he said, his arm wrapped around Darla’s waist. "I’m sure we can get a few more kills in before sunrise."

They made their way through town, when suddenly they heard a loud scuffling noise coming from an alley. Angelus held out his hand, motioning for them to stay where they were. He went on ahead, and peered around the corner.

"Dammit. It’s the slayer. We’ve got to move."

"Angelus, don’t tell me you’re afraid of the slayer," Darla said, laughing.

He bristled at her words.

"I just prefer to be prepared is all."

"What’s a slayer?" William asked, looking toward the alley.

"A girl. She kills our kind. You must stay away from her if you want to live."

Still looking toward the alley, William took a few tentative steps forward.

"It’s suicide, me boy," Angelus said, but William kept going.

"Let him go," Kathryn said. "This should be interesting."

Peering around the corner, at first all he saw was a young woman wrestling a large demon. It was obviously a vampire, and she had the upper hand.

They spun quickly, and William gasped as he saw her face.

"Emily," he breathed.

The vampire’s senses picked up the light word, and he spun, looking at William. Emily took the advantage, and shoved a large wooden stake through his heart. The vampire crumbled to dust, and Emily dusted herself off, trying to shake the remnants from her dress.

She looked up and saw him peering around the corner. Surprise crossed her face, and utter horror.

"William! Oh…I…"

"Emily?"

"It isn’t what it looks like. I was just…you see…"

"You’re the slayer?"

She stopped at this.

"How did you know what a slayer was?"

"How long have you been a slayer?" he asked, ignoring the question.

"Why…I…"

She suddenly stopped, peering at him a little more closely. She held out her hand, and lightly brushed the side of his face, feeling how cold he now was. She jumped back as though burned.

"Oh, no…"

"William?" Angelus said, rounding the corner. "Are you ready to go yet?"

Emily’s eyes darted from William to Angelus. She gripped her stake more tightly, knowing what she had to do.

"Slayer," Angelus said, his voice full of disdain. He moved towards her, but William held out a hand to stop him. Growling, he looked to his childe, obviously not understanding.

"Let’s go. I’m still hungry, and I don’t feel like sharing."

Still not buying it, Angelus said, "Fine. Let’s go."

He left the alley, Darla and Kathryn in tow, and Emily said, "William…I’m so sorry…"

She rushed towards him, stake held high. William stood stock still, waiting for her attack. She stopped short, stake still in the air, not able to kill the man she loved so dearly. In a flash, William had her wrist in his hand, and he grabbed the stake, breaking it in half.

"Good-bye, Emily," he muttered, walking away.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Together, William, Kathryn, Darla, and Angelus cleaned out the village. Angelus continuously tried to kill the slayer, but William always stopped him. Finally one night, after being tossed to one side by his childe, Angelus exploded.

"What the hell is wrong with ya? She’s the slayer, and she’ll kill us if we don’t kill her. Why do ya keep trying to stop me?"

William looked away, and Darla watched him closely.

"He’s in love with her," she said, wrapping her arm through Angelus’.

"That’s ridiculous," he told his lover. "She’s a slayer. No vampire can love a slayer. She’ll kill him faster than he can blink."

William still said nothing, preferring to stare at the ground. Kathryn stood to his left, her arms crossed.

"This is ridiculous. I’m bored of England. We should try-"

Her words were cut off by a sharp gasp, and she looked down at the sharp wooden point sticking out from the front of her dress.

"Oh, my," she managed before she crumbled to dust. Where she had once stood, there was Emily, a determined frown on her face.

Angelus roared and charged toward the girl, his hands reaching for her neck. Grabbing his sire, William threw him to the side, and Emily grabbed his throat.

"Emily," he choked out.

"I’m sorry, William. I have to do this."

She raised the stake, and aimed it for his heart. He caught it midway, and kneed her in the stomach, causing her to lose her grip on his throat.

They both fell to the ground, but he regained his footing first, grabbing her arms in much the same way he had done the day she broke off their engagement.

"I don’t want to kill you," he said softly.

"Then I’ll kill you," she said, her eyes dead.

He grabbed her throat with both hands, and closed his eyes, not bearing to see her face as he snapped her neck.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Spike woke from his dream, gasping for unneeded hair. His body was covered with sweat, his cheeks dripping with tears.

He pulled his soaked shirt off, and wiped his face. Standing up gingerly, he walked to the door of the crypt, opening it just enough to peer outside. He saw it was midday, the sun shining brightly. The world went on.

He sighed, and walked to the cabinet where he kept his clothes and cigarettes. He pulled out a scrap of paper and a pencil, and sat down to write a letter to Willow. Then he wrote one to Dawn, then Giles, and finally, even one to Xander.

Setting them each individually on the lid of the tomb, he removed a picture of Buffy from the cabinet. It was one of his favorites. She was patrolling the cemetery, and hadn’t even noticed the flash. She had just dusted a vamp, and the stake was held high by her cheek, a satisfied expression across her face.

Taking one last look at the picture, he opened the door to his crypt, and walked out into the daylight. He screamed as his body burst into flames, the dust flying all around, settling on the threshold.

~finis


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Spike, the Sucker, and the Answer to the Universe

Author: Venus Blue
Written: July 19, 2004
Summary: Written for alistra for the Spike/inanimate object ficathon. Spike gets an Easter Basket and an invite. He handles both the way only Spike can do so.
Rating: R, for some naughtiness, and inferred sexual situations, both slash and het
Pairing: Several, including a few surprises
Timeline: This timeline is extremely screwy. Suffice to say imagine Season 5 minus Glory + Clem and Pirates of the Caribbean. Got it? Great.
Disclaimer: I don't own...anything, actually. Except for the plot bunny. No copyright infringement against ::deep breath:: 20th Century Fox, Mutant Enemy, Dum-Dums, Blow Pops, Pirates of the Caribbean, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Harry Potter, or Undead Dentistry.
Distribution: My site. Lists that archive. Possibly FF.net if I get really bored. Want it? Ask me. Haven't said no yet.
Author's Note: As always, much love and thanks to my gorgeous Meltha for the beta and the title (long story) and the friendship. Mwah.
Awards: View Award, View 2nd award, View 3rd award, View 4th award

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The two girls crept silently through the cemetery, intent on their mission. Concentrating on staying silent and alert, they made their way to their destination. Exchanging looks, they set the package on the doorstep and quickly left the scene.

Moments passed, the only noise an occasional owl or passing car. Still the package sat.

Finally the door opened, and a certain black clad peroxide blond stepped out into the warm spring night.

Reaching into the inside pocket of his duster for his pack of cigarettes, he spotted the object on the ground. Eyebrow cocked in surprise, he lifted the pink basket, and examined the small fuzzy sign attached.

“Happy Easter?” he exclaimed incredulously.

*********************

“You’re kidding.”

Willow looked at Buffy with a grin.

“What? Why not? Spike’s been really helpful lately, you know.”

“You gave Spike. A vampire. An Easter basket.”

“Well?” she asked. “We all got candy, why shouldn’t he?”

Shaking her head, Buffy said, “Nothing says Easter spirit like giving a blood sucker a sugar rush.”

Willow stood to throw her coffee cup away, and asked, “Are we going to the Bronze tonight?”

“Can’t. Mom wants me to sit with Dawn while she goes to a show for the gallery.”

“Want me and Tara to come over and keep you company?”

“That’d be great, actually.”

They left the coffee shop and made their way back to campus.

“Wonder if Xander and Anya are busy tonight. Maybe we could make it a group thing.”

“Group babysitting. Dawn will just love it.”

“Xander will be there.”

“I think Dawn’s over him. She’s moved on,” Buffy said with a hint of exasperation in her voice.

“Really?”

“To your Easter Basket recipient.”

Willow burst out laughing, and Buffy glared at her.

“What? That’s just funny.”

*********************

When Buffy told Joyce the plan, she seemed fine with it. Dawn was excited, and asked if she could invite a friend.

“I don’t see why not, as long as you both stay in the house all night.”

“Absolutely,” Dawn said with conviction.

Joyce went grocery shopping and picked up snacks and drinks for the gang, and by the time she left, Willow, Tara, and Giles had already arrived. They made themselves comfortable, and Dawn happily plopped down in-between the two Wiccas.

“Dawn, who’d you invite over, anyway?” Buffy asked, setting a large bowl of Chex Mix on the coffee table.

Grabbing a handful of the snack food, she shoved the entirety in her mouth before giving a muffled response.

“What was that?” Buffy asked, a suspicious look on her face. Not chewing, Dawn gave the same response.

Tell me you didn’t.”

“You said I could invite a friend!” Dawn protested, swallowing with difficulty.

“Spike is NOT coming here tonight!”

“Why not? Mom likes him!”

“That is not the-” Buffy started before she was interrupted by a knock at the door.

Marching to it, she yelled, “You are not coming in here!”

Throwing open the door, she was met by Xander and Anya’s surprised faces.

“Okay, but we brought Rice Krispies treats.”

Sighing, she said, “Not you guys. Come on in.”

Anya handed over the large pan of treats and asked, “So, who’s the unwelcome guest?”

“Dawn invited Spike.”

“Oh.”

“What?!”

“He’s my friend!” Dawn protested.

“Friend? Dawn, he’s over 100 years older than you!”

“Giles is older!”

“Don’t drag me into this,” Giles called from the kitchen.

“Buffy,” Tara said gently. “I don’t see the harm in letting him come over. It’s not like he can hurt anyone. Besides, we’re all here, too.”

Buffy frowned, but any retort was cut off by another knock.

Racing to beat her sister to the door, Dawn opened it and in a rush of breath to rival Willow said, “HiSpikegoodtoseeyoucomeoninandgetcomfy.”

Staring at her, slightly dumbstruck, Spike handed her a plastic bag and said, “Hello, Niblet. Good to see you, too. Don’t mind if I do.”

Walking into the living room, he sat down in an armchair and said, “How’s the Scooby Crew doing tonight? Big group pow wow?”

“Just hanging out for fun,” Willow replied. “No big bads tonight.”

“Except you, of course,” Tara said, making Spike grin.

“Rice Krispie treat?” Anya offered.

“Nah, I’m good.”

An ear-piercing shriek filled the room, causing everyone to jump.

“You got me Pirates of the Caribbean! You got me Pirates of the Caribbean!” Dawn cried happily, jumping up and down.

“Yeah, well, I knew you liked that poncey Turner fella, thought you might like it.”

Hugging him quickly, Dawn turned to Buffy and pleaded, “Can we watch it? Pleeeeease?

Perturbed by Spike’s presence, but trying to be fair to her sister, Buffy sighed.

“I guess, as long as no one else minds.”

The rest of the Scoobies were staring at Spike in shock.

Pirates of the Caribbean?” Xander said finally.

“What? I won it off Clem in a poker game. He ran out of kittens.”

“Clem had Pirates of the Caribbean?” Willow asked at the same time as Tara asked, “Kittens?”

“Can we please watch the movie? I’ll go to bed early!”

“I’m game,” Buffy said cheerfully. Dawn glared.

The rest of the gang agreed, and Dawn put the movie on, laying on the floor on her stomach with her hands propping up her head. Willow and Tara scooted over to give Buffy room on the couch, Giles took the other armchair, and Xander and Anya sat beside Dawn on the floor.

As the movie progressed, Spike started getting restless. He reached into his inside coat pocket, and Buffy’s head snapped up.

“Do not even think about smoking in here.”

“Wouldn’t dream of sullying your precious lungs, Slayer,” he muttered, pulling a small wrapped sucker from his pocket.

As he unwrapped it, the rustle of paper drew the attention of the others, who stared as the vampire popped the Dum-Dum into his mouth.

Seeing their shocked expressions, he moved the sucker into his cheek, and asked, “What?”

Anya asked, “Blood flavored?”

“Grape.”

“Ah.”

Xander, who was still staring, turned to his girlfriend and asked, “They have blood flavored lollipops?”

“Of course. Where do you think that Harry Potter woman got the idea?”

Dawn, who’d been annoyed by the conversation up until this point, turned and asked, “You read Harry Potter?”

“Oh, yes. I especially like Malfoy.”

Xander, slowly recovering from his shock, started laughing. Spike glared at him and asked, “What’s so funny?”

“Oh, nothing. Just the very manly vampire with his very manly lollipop.”

With a loud *crunch*, Spike decimated the sucker, chewing loudly as he glared at the boy.

“You’ll damage your teeth doing that,” Tara said with a quiet smile.

“Not that worried, pet,” Spike said, looking at Tara with soft eyes.

“Vampires can get cavities, you know,” Anya interjected, interrupting her conversation with Dawn on the merits of Draco versus Ron.

“Bollocks. Vampires have no living nerves.”

“Yet you can still get a toothache. Wonders never cease.”

“You’re an odd bird.”

“And I’m also right. I should know, I once cursed a man who specialized in undead dentistry.”

“Do we want to know?” Buffy asked uneasily.

“Oh, it wasn’t that bad. I ripped his hands off and slapped him around for awhile before-”

“And that’s enough of that,” Xander said, covering her mouth as Dawn giggled over the mental image.

Reaching into his pocket again, he pulled out another sucker, this time an oversized Blow-Pop.

“How much candy do you have in there?” Willow asked in amazement.

“Pretty much the entire basket. Thanks, by the way,” he said quietly.

Willow blushed slightly and said, “How’d you know?”

“The two witches leave quite a distinct scent, Red.”

Both girls got wide-eyed and red faced, and Spike chuckled.

“Magic, loves.”

“Oh!” Willow exclaimed, still red in the face.

“Can we PLEASE finish watching the movie?” Dawn begged, having tired of arguing whether blue eyes looked better with red hair or blonde hair.

The group lapsed into silence once more, save for the slightest suckling sound.

Blandly watching Raoul Duke run around dressed like a pansy pirate in eyeliner, Spike ran his tongue over the edges of the Blow Pop. For reasons unknown to even himself, the solid ridge running along the center fascinated him. He focused his attention on it even after his tongue began to go numb.

Eventually his mouth filled with sour apple flavored saliva, and he pulled the lollipop from his mouth with a loud ‘pop’, attracting the attention of the others.

“Must you?” Giles asked, removing his glasses to clean them.

Cocking an eyebrow at him, Spike popped the sucker back in his mouth and sucked on it loudly.

Without looking away from the movie, Buffy said, “Keep it up, and that sucker will end up in an orifice you could never imagine.”

Spike leered at her, and a very audible “ew” was heard from Dawn’s spot on the floor.

Xander reached for the bowl of popcorn, only to find it empty.

“Who ate all the snacks?” he asked indignantly.

“You did,” was the collective response.

“Oh.”

Standing to get more, he maneuvered his way through the limbs toward the kitchen. Tripping over Spike’s outstretched legs, he grunted in surprise and glared at the vampire.

“What? S’not my fault you’ve never grown out of that gangly phase.”

A mumbled “Bite me” could be heard from the peeved mortal in search of munchies.

Scrunching down in his seat, he continued his minstrations. Spinning the pop in his mouth, he held his tongue still, enjoying the sound as it clicked on his teeth.

“Spike,” Willow said meekly, “I’m real glad you like the candy, but could you try to keep it down?”

“I’m not doing anything!” he grumbled around the sucker.

Tara smiled at him and said, “Well, at least he’s happy.”

“Nothing we like more than pleasing the Fangless Wonder,” Xander said, returning from the kitchen with two bowls of snacks.

Taking careful aim, Spike flicked the Dum-Dum stick at Xander. It hit him in the nose, and he yelled loudly.

“SHHHH!” Dawn said furiously. “It’s the best part!”

Xander rolled his eyes and rubbed his nose grumpily.

Spike found himself growing agitated by the constant interruptions. He wasn’t sure why, but the sucker fascinated him. He chalked it up to boredom and needing a distraction from the whiney gang.

Covering his teeth slightly with his lips, he rolled the sucker around his mouth, licking around the edges as he went. The seam running down one side was especially distracting, and he ran his tongue liberally across it.

Pulling it slightly out of his mouth, he sucked on just the end. He could feel the sticky saliva sliding down his chin, and he reached up to quickly wipe it away.

Sucking it completely in again, he rolled it around once more, running corkscrew spirals around the sides.

Flipping it slightly until the stick was leaning upwards to his nose, he rubbed the bottom of his tongue over the top, enjoying the feel of the hard sweetness.

So intent was he on these new discoveries, he didn’t realize he had an audience. Looking up, he found almost all eyes focused on him. Dawn remained oblivious.

“What now?” he asked, removing the Blow Pop and waving it around. “I know I wasn’t making any noise that time!”

Anya piped up, “No, but if suckers could talk…”

“What?”

“You were giving that sucker a blow-”

“ANYA!” everyone else shouted.

“Huh?” Dawn said, turning her head.

“Nothing,” Buffy said quickly. “Watch your movie.”

“Gotta agree with Anya, though,” Willow said. “You were doing some rather…obscene things to it.”

“I was SUCKING it!” Spike said indignantly.

“Exactly,” Anya said, smirking.

“‘Now bring me that Horizon’,” Dawn mimicked along with the movie’s ending. “Yay, done! Can we watch it again?”

“No,” Buffy said, still frazzled from the sight of Spike’s able tongue.

“We could play a game. Xander and I brought Uno.”

“That sounds good,” Willow said. “Let’s go in the dining room.”

Everyone stood except Xander, who sat on the floor clutching the popcorn bowl in his lap.

“Xander?” Tara asked. “You coming?”

“Be there in a minute,” he replied in a strained voice.

Anya got wide-eyed, Spike grinned, and Giles cleaned his glasses again.

*********************

“Was that really necessary?”

“Nah,” Spike said, sprawling out on the couch. “But it was fun.”

His lover glared at him, but couldn’t help grinning.

“I thought you were going to give Xander a heart attack.”

“Oh come on, the boy’s obviously in denial. If he’s not gay, I’ll wear a dress for a week.”

“Wouldn’t be the first time.”

“HEY!”

“My lips are sealed. And to be quite fair, the site of you with that lollipop could make George Bush gay.”

“Yeah, well, we all know my opinion on that wanker,” Spike said, reaching into the pocket of his coat. “Hey! I’m out of candy!”

“It’s not a wonder; you were sucking on one after another all night.”

Spike pouted.

“Oh, I’ll get you a bag tomorrow, you big baby.”

Leering, Spike slid off the couch and crawled over to the chair.

“Or you could give me something else to satisfy my craving.”

“Learned a few techniques, have you?”

“Might’ve picked up a thing or two.”

Leaning forward, he started pulling off buttons with his teeth. Three down, he reared back, howling with pain and clutching his cheek.

“Ow! Bloody hell! Call Anya and ask if she still knows a bloody dentist!”

*********************

“So, let me get this straight. Spike got a toothache from all the candy.”

“Yes, Anya.”

“And you brought him here so you could get a number for a dentist.”

“Yes, Anya.”

“Okay. One more question.”

“Yes?”

“Giles, what happened to the buttons on your shirt?”

[End]


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The Hope Chronicles - Chapter 1
With a Little Hope

Author: Venus Blue
Written: 2001
Series: The Hope Chronicles
Summary: Giles is feeling very alone lately. A new person in his life could be just what he’s looking for.
Rating: PG
Spoilers: None. Set sometime after "Hush," but before "Buffy vs. Dracula."
Feedback: You really don't want me to beg.
Disclaimer: I own nothing but Hope. Joss Whedon is the lucky bloke who owns the rest. The song belongs to Sarah Mcclachlan, even if I did misspell her name.

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As Giles walked along Main Street, his head was deep in thought.

He thought of all of his "children," the teenagers who he’d cared after and looked over for so long. He thought of Willow, his protégé, so lovely and so strong. She grew more everyday.

He thought of Xander, the boy he’d come to think of as a son. He and Anya made a strange, yet adorable couple.

Couple, he thought to himself. Such a strange word. Couple of what? Lovers? Friends? Peas in a pod?

Get a grip, Rupert. You’re babbling.

He shook his head, and thought about Buffy.

She’d grown so much from the young girl who’d walked into the library so many years ago. She was strong, confident, and headstrong. Most of all she was independent.

She didn’t need him anymore.

He sighed and took his glasses off to clean them with his handkerchief. Buffy was a wonderful girl, and he was proud of her for all she had accomplished. But it saddened him that he was no longer useful in her life.

"Maybe I should go back to England," he thought aloud, putting his glasses back on his nose. As he looked up, he ran straight into a young woman rushing by.

"Oh!"

"Oh!"

She dropped the package in her hands, and he leaned over to retrieve it. She did the same, and they slammed their heads together.

"Oh!"

"Oh!"

She fell gracefully to the ground, and clutched her head. He followed suit.

"Oh, dear, I’m so clumsy. My apologies. Are you alright?"

She started laughing and said, "Oh, I’m fine. I’m the biggest klutz in the world. I wasn’t looking where I was going. Are you alright?"

He joined in the laughter and said, "Oh, yes, I’m fine. Just a little bruised."

He helped her up and handed her the package.

"Thank you so much. I’m Hope Anders."

"Rupert Giles."

She shook his hand, and he noticed how soft her skin was. She was incredibly beautiful. She had long curly blonde hair, and bright blue eyes with a hint of gold. She wore a long black skirt, tasteful purple top, and clunky black heels. Normally, Giles wasn’t attracted to someone as obviously young and frivolous as her, but there was something special about her.

"Well, sorry about running you over," she said. "I’ve got a class in twenty minutes."

"Oh…well…I…" he stuttered, tripping over his words. She looked at him, amused.

"Yes?"

"I’m usually not this forward, and I know we just met, but-"

"Would you like to come over to my house for dinner sometime?"

Giles blinked.

"Why, I, uh, well-"

"How about Friday night? Say, around 8:00?"

"I, uh-"

Before he could respond, she’d pulled a scrap of paper from her purse, along with a pen, and scribbled down her phone number and address.

"Here’s my address. Call me if you get lost. I’ll be expecting you."


********************


"Giles, you have a date?!"

As Buffy, Willow, and Xander stared at him open-mouthed, Giles looked from one jacket to the other, trying to pick one.

"Yes, is that so strange?"

"YES!" they said in unison.

He looked at them, exasperated, and said, "I’ve had girlfriends before."

"Which reminds me," Buffy said, "whatever happened to Olivia?"

A pang struck in Giles’ heart, and he said, "Olivia’s decided not to come back. After the…adventure…with the Gentleman, she thought Sunnydale a bit too hairy for her."

There was quiet for awhile, then Willow said, "So, who is she?"

"Beg pardon?" Giles, said, picking up the blue jacket. Berk, he thought. I guess I’ll just wear this one.

"The girl you’re going out with. Who is she?"

"Oh, she’s a lovely young…woman," he said, realizing his mistake immediately.

"Young?" Buffy said, jumping up. "How young?"

"Oh, she’s…you know…young…" he said, turning from them.

"Check out G-man, going for the cradle."

Giles shot him a look and said, "She’s not that young."

"What’s her name?"

"What is this, the Spanish Inquisition? Look, I must leave now if I want to get there on time. I’ll give you an update on the, uh, smoochies, tomorrow."

The gang smiled at his use of the word ‘smoochies,’ and followed him out of the house.


********************


"Rupert, hi! Come on in."

Hope held the door open, and motioned him inside. Hesitantly he came in, and saw her apartment was modestly furnished, but beautiful.

"It’s a little messy. I was going to straighten up a bit, but dinner took longer than expected, and-"

"Oh, no, it’s fine. I think it looks very nice in here."

"Thank you," she said, flashing a 100-watt smile. "Can I take your jacket?"

He handed it to her, and she hung it up in the hall closet.

"I brought this," he said, handing her a bottle of red wine. "I didn’t know what you were serving, but-"

"Oh, I’m sure this will be fine. Please, make yourself comfortable."

She disappeared into the kitchen, and Giles went into the living room.

Hope had a beautiful apartment. Her couches were white leather, and she had beautiful artwork on her walls. There was a large bookshelf on one wall, and a small entertainment system in the corner. Music filtered through the speakers, a low and soothing woman’s voice that Giles thought he recognized.

If all the of the strength and all of the courage
Come and lift me from this place
I know I can love you much better than this

Giles walked over to the shelf, and looked at some of the book spines. Alarmed, he grabbed one of the titles.

"Dinner will be ready in just a couple of….Rupert?"

He looked up at her and asked, "Where did you get this?"

She looked at the book in his hand. It was a thick book, with the word "Vampyr" in embossed letters on the front.

She blushed furiously and said, "I…okay. You found me out. I have a hidden passion for the occult. I’m fascinated by it."

"But this is…where did you get it?"

"Used bookshop. They had all sorts of ancient texts, for extremely cheap prices. Why?" she asked, seeing his face.

"I just…I didn’t think there were that many copies. This is a very rare book."

She smiled and took it from him.

"Really? Is it worth a lot of money?"

He smiled gently and said, "You don’t seem to need much in the way of money."

Her smile faltered slightly, and she said, "Well, when my father died, his life insurance all went to me."

"Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t-"

"It was a long time ago, before I moved here. It’s alright. Let’s eat."

He cocked his head, and watched the intriguing young woman walk back into the kitchen.

"Can I help?"

"No," she called. "Just have a seat."

He sat at her dining table, and picked up the corkscrew. He grabbed the bottle of wine, and carefully popped the cork. He poured two glasses, and lit the candles with his lighter.

She came out with two plates, and set one before him.

"This looks wonderful. What is it?"

"Veal Parmesan, with angel hair pasta. It’s the one fancy meal I’m good at. I’m more a mac and cheese kinda girl."

"It smells delicious."

She sat down across from him, and they began to eat and talk.

"So, what do you do?"

He sighed uncomfortably.

"Well, I was a librarian. At Sunnydale High School. But…"

"It blew up?" she said helpfully.

He laughed and said, "Well, yes."

"And now? You’re…retired?"

"Well, yes."

"I think that’s great. You’re enjoying life, right?"

He looked down at his plate, and said, "Oh, um, yes, of course."

"That sounded a bit hesitant."

He smiled and said, "Yes, well, feeling a bit, uh, you know-"

"Unneeded?"

He looked up at her and said, "Well, yes."

"I believe that," she said softly.

There was silence for a few minutes, then he said, "So, what do you do?"

"Oh, well, I’m a teacher, actually."

"Really?" he said, genuinely surprised.

"Thought I was a student, huh?"

"Well, I…yes."

"A lot of people think that. I graduated from college at 20, and I was a T.A. for a couple of years. Now I’m a high school teacher, and I’m working on my bachelor’s."

Giles was speechless.

"I…I’m amazed. You seem so…"

"Young?" she said, laughing. "I was in the top five percent of my class. Everyone was amazed by how far I got so fast."

Giles stared with wonder at the amazing young woman across from him.

She blushed at his gaze, and looked down at her plate.

"So, where did you move here from?"

"I lived in Massachussets with my father, before he died. I wanted to get out, and I decided to a change of scenery would do me well."

"That’s a fairly big change. Opposite coasts and all."

A look crossed Hope’s face that Giles couldn’t quite place.

"Well, I thought, California. Nice change of pace, you know? The land of the beautiful people."

"That it is. A bit too dry for my taste, but…it’s grown on me."

"How long have you lived in America?"

"Since 1997. I was a curator in a museum in Britain, and decided to move to America on a whim. I got the job at Sunnydale High, and when it…was no longer there, I was fairly at a loss."

She smiled, and Giles was again entranced by her features. She had a fabulous smile.

"I know the feeling. My father was my whole life. When he died, I stopped caring about a lot of things. I almost didn’t want to continue with my teaching career. It took a lot to overcome it, and I’m stronger for it."

"And your mother?"

There was no mistaking the expression of pure pain that muddled her features. Giles immediately regretted the question.

"I didn’t mean to pry-"

"No, no, it’s alright. I was taken away from her when I was 10. I went in search of my father, and he welcomed me with open arms. I never heard anything more from or about her. I think it hurt my father to even think of her or my sister."

"Sister?"

"Would you like some more wine?"

"Certainly," Giles said, noticing her discomfort.

She poured them each a little more wine, and said, "I used to be very close with my sister. Unfortunately, when child services took us from my mother, we were separated, and I haven’t seen her since. When I finally did get the courage to try to find her, my mother had already died, and there was no way to contact her."

"So you never did find her?"

After a moment’s hesitation, she said, "No. I keep hoping, but I haven’t been able to locate her."

They ate in silence for a few moments, then found lighter subjects to discuss.

After they had dessert, Giles helped her clear the table and clean up, and then they sat in the living room to drink tea.

"It’s refreshing to find someone who drinks tea, not coffee."

She made a face, and said, "Coffee is not for me. Tea is much more soothing, and it helps me unwind after dealing with high school children all day."

He laughed heartily, and said, "That’s very much what I used to say after a day of dealing with the children who frequented my library."

It felt good to laugh. He hadn’t felt this good since…well, since Jenny. Hope was refreshing, and fun to be around. Giles felt himself loosening up, and he removed his jacket and examined her extensive music collection.

"You have excellent tastes," he said. "May I?"

"Feel free."

Having learned from dealing with Buffy and Xander how to use a CD player, Giles put in Pink Floyd’s "Dark Side of the Moon," and turned it up slightly.

She smiled and asked, "Have you heard of the Wizard of Oz trick?"

"Wizard of Oz?" he asked quizzically.

"Yes, you play this album while watching the movie on mute, and it goes together. It’s eerie."

"Now, who on earth sat down to figure that out?"

She laughed and said, "Someone very bored. I’ll have to show you one day."

The idea of spending a day watching movies with Hope made Giles smile even wider, and he said, "I’d like that very much."

Before either of them realized it, it was midnight. Giles stared, shocked, at the wall clock.

"How on earth did it get so late so soon?"

Hope laughed and said, "I have no idea. I was having such a good time, I didn’t even realize!"

Giles slid into his jacket and said, "I had a wonderful time. I haven’t had this much fun in….well, a long time. Thank you."

"No, thank you. It felt good to unwind and enjoy another’s company for a change."

She walked him to the door, and there was a not-too-awkward pause as he turned to her.

"I’ll see you again?"

"I’ll call you."

She tilted her head slightly, and he lowered his lips to hers. The kiss wasn’t much, nothing more than a meeting of lips, but it made Giles’ head spin.

"Good night, Rupert," she said, closing her door.

~The End


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The Hope Chronicles - Chapter 2
Hope's Secret

Series: The Hope Chronicles
Author: Venus Blue
Written: 2001
Summary: Set during the events of "This Year’s Girl" and "Who are You." Hope’s been keeping a secret, which may destroy her relationship with the Gang.
Rating: PG-13, for tactful sexual situations.
Spoilers: This Year's Girl and Who Are You?
Feedback: Do I need to say it?
Disclaimer: Yeah, yeah, Joss can have ‘em. But Hope’s still mine! Yep! She’s all mine! There’s also that little thing about Kathleen Wilhoite owning the song lyrics I borrowed. But I only borrowed ‘em! She can have ‘em back!
AN: Hope and Giles have been dating for about six months. If you haven’t read "With a Little Hope," just know that Hope is Giles’ new girlfriend.

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Four words sent my entire world into a spiral. With her declaration, Buffy had no idea that she’d just made me die a little inside.

On one hand, I felt euphoric. Why shouldn’t I? I’d been waiting for this for so long. Almost the entirety of my life, I’d looked. And then for almost seven months I’d waited. Hoped. Prayed. And now…what I wanted was finally here. I should have been singing to the rooftops.

Yet on the other, I felt all-consuming dread in my heart. Buffy…the gang. How would they react? And Rupert? Rupert, the man I’d grown to love more than anyone ever in my life. How would he take it? Would he hate me for keeping it from him?

I’d tried to visit her ever week. Between teaching and spending time with Rupert, I’d been terribly busy, but I did visit. I talked to her for at least an hour, sometimes more. And now. Now she was going to be here. She would see me. How would she react?

After all…she hadn’t seen me in over fifteen years. Her sister. Her only sister.

With four words, Buffy had turned my entire world upside down.

********************

"It’s Faith. She’s awake."

Everyone turned to stare at Buffy. No one quite knew what to say. Shock…fear…that’s what radiated from the stares. But not from one face. One face just showed horror. Disbelief and horror.

I watched her from my spot at the window. I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was really her. Sitting there which Willow and Xander, staring at a spot on the floor. There was no mistaking it.

My sister. What the hell is my sister doing in Sunnydale?

********************

Everyone’s gone home. It’s just Rupert and I now. He looks a little worse for the wear. He takes off his glasses and rubs the bridge of his nose, which is a sure sign of worry. Though my head is reeling and I want to cry, I walk to him and take his hand, leading him to the couch. We sit, and he leans back against me as I gently massage his temples. He rubs my knee absently, and we sit in comfortable silence like that for a good five minutes. I rest against the crook of the couch, inhaling the scent that is uniquely Rupert.

I love him so much.

I feel the tears begin to well, and I use everything I have to bite them back.

"I’m sure that was a bit confusing for you," he says suddenly.

"Hmm?" I murmur, not trusting my voice.

"That business about Faith. I noticed you didn’t say anything for the rest of the meeting."

"Well, I just assumed it was slayer business. You know I don’t interfere in that."

"Faith is…well, things with Faith are complicated. She was…she…"

I could tell he was faltering for words, and I gently reached around to trace his lips with my fingertips.

"Don’t. It’s alright. You don’t have to explain anything to me."

He sighed and turned so he lay sideways against me, and he leaned his head up to rest his chin on my shoulder. I rested my forehead on his, and looked into his gorgeous eyes.

"Things are going to be very tense around here for awhile, I’m afraid. I won’t be able to relax for a good while."

"I’m used to it," I joked lightly, kissing his eyelids.

He slid down and rested his head in my lap, and I gently stroked his hair. I could never bring myself to say the words. But every time I saw him, or even thought of him, my heart sang them.

I love you, Rupert. I love you.

But would he love me when he learned the secret? Or would he despise me…I had to tell him. I knew I did. But how?

"Rupert?"

"Hmm?"

I hesitated. I had no idea how to brace this subject, and I didn’t want to try.

"Nothing. Let’s go upstairs."

He slowly rose, and I took his hand, leading him up the stairs. We went into the bedroom, and he took me into his arms, planting kisses along my jawline and collarbone.

It felt so wonderful, but I had to force myself to say, "No."

He looked at me with surprise. He knew how to push the buttons, and which buttons to push when.

"Lay down. On your stomach."

He looked at me, a small grin forming on his lips, and I said, "Please?"

He did as he was told, and I straddled his back, using his butt as a seat. I began to massage his shoulders, feeling the taught muscles beneath.

"Just relax. You’ll feel much better soon."

He took his glasses off and set them on the side table, a gesture I found more endearing than anything.

My arms began to grow sore as I felt him finally easing up underneath me, and I suppose he could tell my strokes were lightening, because in a flash I was beneath him, and he continued his earlier attack on my collarbone.

It started slowly, gentle kisses and feathery touches, and slowly built, engulfing us in wave after wave of passion. It swept us up in a great swell of ecstasy, until we were panting and gasping and holding each other, concentrating only on us.

As we came down, he kissed me gently, and I suckled his neck, stroking the back of his neck. He lay on his back, and I rested my head on his chest, listening to the steady rhythm of his heart, and gently running my fingers through the soft grey hair on his chest.

"Rupert?"

"Hmm?" he said, gently stroking my hair.

"I love you."

I felt his arms tighten around my waist.

"There was never any doubt. I love you more than anything in the world."

We pulled the comforter out from under us, and covered up. When I knew he was asleep, I let the tears roll. I sobbed silently, horrified that this would be our last night together.

********************

As I walked through the center of town, I looked around at the crowds of people. I knew she had to be around here somewhere. But where?

Rupert had gone with Xander to look for her. I asked if he wanted me to tag along, but he said it was too dangerous. That she was a loose cannon and he didn’t want me getting hurt.

I cried for an hour after he left. I’d been trying to work up the courage all day to tell him. But it never happened. No matter how much I tried, I couldn’t bring myself to give him the hurtful news.

Memories flashed behind my eyes as I passed a window with an array of knives displayed for public view. I remembered watching over Faith when Mom was passed out in the living room, too heavy for a small child to carry to her bed. Playing dolls with Faith, taking her with me whenever I went out with my friends. We were as close as two sisters could be.

When social services took me, Faith had run. She ran out the back door before they could stop her. I never heard whether she went back to live with Mom, or stayed on the run. My father discouraged me from contacting my mother. He didn’t want her in our lives. When I finally did get in touch with her, I was informed she’d sold Faith to the Watcher’s Council. Horrified, I looked up everything I could on this council. I found out about the other slayers, and heard from rumors about the world famous Buffy Summers. It was through a lot of confusion and rumors I learned about the second slayer, who came to Sunnydale after her watcher was killed. When Daddy died, I ran to Sunnydale, only to find my sister in a coma.

Now she was awake. And alone.

********************

"Rupert? Honey, are you home?"

I unlocked the front door and walked in to see Rupert talking to four men, dressed all in black. His expression was bleak.

"Hello, luv."

He rose and kissed my cheek, and I said, "Hey. We have guests?"

"Um, yes," he said, and I could see his discomfort. "They’re…old friends from England. I was hoping to speak with them-"

"No problem. I’m going to go grab a shower."

As I walked up the stairs, I heard one of the men say, "She’s pretty, Rupert. A little young, eh?"

I paused to hear his reply.

"It’s really none of your business. That ‘young’ lady is the most important part of my life. You came here for a reason, get to it."

I continued up the stairs, and started running the bathwater.

I had been soaking in bubbles and bath oil for about twenty minutes when Rupert came in.

"Hello, darling. Where have you been?"

"I got restless. I went for a walk."

He nodded and sat on the closed toilet, running his hands through his hair.

"What is it, Rupert? What’s wrong? Did you find Faith?"

"No, no, no we haven’t found Faith yet. We found Spike, and he was his usual giving self. Now this."

"Those men downstairs. Who were they?"

He sighed, and said, "Council. Special operations unit."

I grimaced at the mention of the council. I knew they’d put Rupert through hell over the past year and a half.

"They were here because of Faith?"

"They’re planning on capturing her, bringing her to England and rehabilitating her. Not sure how well that’s going to go, but I imagine it’s worth a shot."

I grabbed his hand with my soap-covered one, and said, "It’s going to be alright. I know it will."

He gave me a small smile, and I said, "You want to join me?"

"Mm. Sounds tempting, but I think I’m just going to go to bed."

He kissed my forehead, and said, "Goodnight, luv."

"Goodnight, Rupert."

********************

"I’ve called Buffy. She’ll be here soon."

Anya, Xander, and Willow were all at the house. Giles had gotten news about Faith, and he wanted to convene a meeting to discuss the findings.

He’d told me nothing, saying he’d wait and tell everyone at the meeting. My stomach was in knots, and I couldn’t even drink the tea he offered.

As I tried to listen to a joke Xander was telling, Buffy arrived, a bright smile on her face.

"The gang’s all here. Willow, Xander, and…"

She eyed Anya, and said, "Everybody."

Plopping down on the table in a very un-Buffy like manner, she asked, "What’s up?"

Giles began to tell about the council capturing Faith, and I noticed Buffy watching me intently.

Does she know? I wondered, feeling a little panicky. I looked at her quizzically, and she smiled.

As they talked, I noticed Buffy acted…strangely. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but she seemed different.

While Anya and Giles bickered, I watched Willow walk over and speak to her briefly, then there was talk of Adam. Buffy stated she was going to patrol that night, and the meeting was over. I walked over to her and said, "Buffy, are you feeling alright?"

She looked into my eyes, and I studied her face. There was something there. What was it?

"I’m fine, Hope. Really. I’m fiv…I’m good."

I cocked my head and said, "Alright. Well, be careful on patrol tonight."

"Always. You know me."

********************

"Rupert?" I asked as we cleaned up that night. "Did you notice Buffy acting…a little strange tonight?"

He looked over at me and said, "I didn’t notice anything. Why?"

"I don’t know. She just seemed…different."

"I’m sure it’s just stress over Faith coming back, and having to deal with past demons."

"Yes, I guess," I said, turning away from him and going into the kitchen.

"Hope? Is everything alright? You haven’t been acting like your usual self either."

I shrugged my shoulders and said, "I just…I’ve had a lot on my mind."

He came up behind me as I washed the dishes, and put his arms around my waist.

"Want to talk about it?"

I smiled and said, "It’s not important. Not even worth mentioning."

He sighed and buried his face in my hair.

"Alright, darling. I’m going to go upstairs and take a shower. You can finish up down here?"

"Mm-hmm. Almost done."

I turned my head and kissed him, and said, "I’ll be up in a little while."

He went upstairs, and I continued to wash the dishes.

England. My sister is being sent to England.

I was tired of crying. I knew there was no way to get Faith back. The Council was dangerous, and I wasn’t about to mess with them.

I finished cleaning up, and went upstairs.

********************

When I woke up the next day, Rupert was already up and out of bed. The clock on the nightstand read 9:30.

I pulled on my robe, ran a brush through my hair, and walked downstairs. There I saw something that stopped me in my tracks.

"Faith."

Rupert and Faith looked up at me on the stairs, and she said, "No, Hope, I’m Buffy."

"What?"

"Faith switched our bodies. She had some device."

But Rupert just stared at me.

"How did you know she was Faith? You’ve never seen her before."

His eyes bore into me, and I couldn’t meet his gaze.

"Giles, Faith has taken my body and we have to get it back."

Willow burst through the door at that instant, a pretty blonde girl trailing behind her.

I watched as they discussed how to use the Katra that Willow held in her hand, but Rupert just stared at me, his eyes full of confusion.

The phone rang, and he ran to get it. He talked for a few seconds, then hung up.

"That was Xander."

He turned the television on, and there was a news report about people holed up in a church by what sounded like vampires.

We headed out, and when we got to the church, some police officers tried to keep us. Rupert distracted them while Fai-, er, Buffy, ran around through the back.

I wanted to follow her, to go with her to find my sister, but I didn’t dare. I stood with Willow, Tara, and Rupert, and waited.

"Hope? I think we need to talk."

I looked over at Rupert, and said, "Later. Yes, we do."

It seemed like an eternity before I saw Faith run out of the church. As she ran, she turned her head and her eyes locked with mine. It hurt me to see such pain in them.

Buffy came out a little later, and she was breathless and disoriented.

"Alright. Let’s go."

********************

Disappointment stops by from time to time
To see how I’m doing
And he came by last night right after you left
My life in ruin

"Rupert, I didn’t want to hurt you."

It was later that night, and I had just explained everything to him. Livid was an understatement.

"How could you have kept this from me? Did you think it didn’t matter?"

"Rupert, I didn’t think it was all that important, and then-"

"I told you!" he roared. "I told you what Jenny did to me! And even after that, you deliberately kept something as important as this from me!"

Tears were pouring freely from my eyes now, and I said, "I didn’t do it to hurt you! I swear!"

"A lot good that does!"

"Rupert, please!"

"Get out of my sight. I want you out of this apartment, and out of my life."

My heart constricted, and I had to pause to catch my breath.

"You can’t mean that."

"Oh, I mean it. I don’t want to see you again. Ever."

I sobbed into my hands, and he slammed out of the house.

~The End


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The Hope Chronicles - Chapter 3
Angel of Hope

Series: The Hope Chronicles
Author: Venus Blue
Written: 2001
Summary: Faith gets a visit from her sister; Angel gets to meet Hope, and feelings arise.
Rating: PG
Spoilers: I Will Remember You
Feedback: Pretty please?
Disclaimer: You know the drill. Joss, I love ya, but why can’t you give them to me? I promise I’ll be nice to ‘em! Hope’s still mine. He hasn’t gotten to her yet! And THC owns the lyrics.
AN: Darla never came back. The gang was never fired. All is well in the Venus Blue-verse.

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I sat down at the window, and picked up the telephone.

"Hey, Faith."

She smiled brightly at me and said, "It’s good to see you again, Angel. Haven’t seen you in awhile. Wasn’t expecting you, figured you were fighting the good fight."

"I had to stop in to see my favorite girl."

Her eyes were tired, and her face had more lines than I’d remembered, but she looked happy and at peace. That was all I wanted for her.

I hadn’t gone to see Faith in several weeks. What with all the new developments in my life, I hadn’t had time to even think about her, and I regretted it.

We talked for a long time, the guards being very lenient about our visiting time.

"One of the inmates taught me how to-"

Her words died off, and I noticed she was staring over my shoulder. I glanced behind me, and was stunned by what I saw.

She was tall and lean, with hair of gold, and eyes as blue as the ocean. She wore tight black leather pants, a purple halter top, and a black coat not unlike my own. I was instantly drawn to her.

"Hope," I heard Faith whisper.

Tears came to the other girl’s eyes, and she said, "Faith…I’ve missed you."

"Angel," Faith said, her voice full of emotion, "this is Hope. My sister."

I just stared.

********************

"So, you’re the infamous Angel. You’re exactly as I pictured you."

"Thank you…I think."

After talking to her sister for almost two hours, Hope had come back to the hotel with me. She was currently kicked back on the couch, talking to Cordy, Wes, Gunn, and I. I couldn’t keep my eyes off of her.

"So, you’re Giles’ girlfriend?" Cordelia asked incredulously.

A pained look crossed her face, and she said, "Ex. We broke up awhile back."

"Why?" Wesley asked. Clearly, he was confused as I about why Giles would let such a girl go.

She looked down at her long, dark fingernails, and said, "I…I didn’t tell the gang that Faith was my sister. When she attacked Buffy, the secret came out, and Rupert couldn’t forgive me for not telling him."

There was a moment of silence, and then she said, "Any good clubs around here?"

Cordy brightened up and said, "There’s some good dance clubs on the other side of town. I haven’t been there in awhile."

"Why? This is L.A. If I lived here, I wouldn’t be able to do anything except go to clubs."

Wesley smiled and said, "You and Faith have a lot in common."

She smiled meakly, and said, "We didn’t use to. After…well, after the breakup, I really just let loose. I didn’t want to deal with the real world. I quit my teaching job, and I’ve been party gal ever since."

She and Cordy discussed the clubs in town, and I continued to watch Hope. There was a magnetism about her that amazed me. It was as though she was drawing me in, and I couldn’t escape.

"Hello? Earth to Angel?"

I snapped to attention, and saw Cordy staring at me with that exasperated look. Hope just smiled at me.

"Did you want to come out with us tonight?"

"Oh, I, uh-"

"Oh, come on," Hope said, uncrossing her legs and standing up. "We’re both total night people. What’s wrong with a little fun every now and then?"

Those gorgeous eyes stared straight through me, not unkindly, and I felt my resolve fade.

********************

"She really is remarkable, isn’t she?"

I sat at a small table with Wesley and Gunn at the dance club, watching Hope and Cordelia dance. I glanced over when Wesley spoke, and said, "Huh?"

"Hope. She’s a very remarkable young lady."

"Sure. I guess."

Gunn and Wesley exchanged glances, and Gunn said, "Angel, man, you drool anymore, and I’m gonna need to get me some rubber boots. Why don’t you go dance with her?"

"I don’t dance."

Gunn rolled his eyes, and went out to the dance floor. I saw him ask Cordy to dance, and Hope walked up to a young man on the floor, and they started to dance. I felt a pang of jealousy, and quickly fought it back.

"Angel," Wesley said, sipping his drink, "you remember what the Oracles told you, don’t you?"

"Wesley, we’ve discussed this…"

"Yes, and you said you’re not ready to date. Angel, you haven’t taken your eyes off that young lady since you met. And from the looks she gives you, I don’t think she finds you entirely unattractive."

"It doesn’t matter. I can’t-"

"Your soul is permanent, Angel. That was your gift for returning your humanity. I understand that you didn’t want to upset Buffy’s life by informing her of this, but that does not mean that you can’t date."

"I’m 247 years old, Wesley. I’m a little too old to date."

I glanced back out at the dance floor, where Hope was now dancing by herself to an upbeat song. She moved and gyrated, and ran her hands through her hair and over her body. Her eyes were closed, and her hair thrown back. I felt a stirring, and quickly looked away.

I took a sip of my drink, and looked anywhere but the dance floor.

Suddenly, I felt a hand on my shoulder. I turned to look, and Hope was standing there, eyes twinkling.

"Dance with me?"

"I-"

"Please? I’ll steer you around the curves."

I let her pull me onto the dance floor, and I said, "I should warn you…I really don’t dance."

She put my finger on my lips to silence me, then took my hands and placed them on her hips.

"Follow my lead."

You might become something I need
And you must not
Must not get closer
Couldn’t I go away?
With the dust of your words in my mouth?

She wrapped her hands around my neck, and started moving her hips in time with the music. I tightened my arms around her waist, and began to move with her. Soon, we were in sync with each other, and she began pressing her body tighter to mine.

She stared up into my eyes, and wrapped one leg around my waist.

When the song ended, another song came on, and she made a face.

"I can’t stand this song. Want to get some air?"

Tongue-tied, I followed her out onto the balcony outside the club.

She ran her hands through her hair, pulling it up and off of her neck.

"Whew. It’s so hot in there. So…I thought you said you couldn’t dance."

"I’ve never danced like that before."

"You were amazing."

She walked over to the edge of the balcony, and looked down over the side.

"I know what it’s like, you know."

I glanced over at her, puzzled.

"What do you mean?"

"To be in the world, but not a real part of it. I know what that’s like. At least when you had Buffy…I felt whole only when I was with Rupert. He was so…"

Her voice faded away, and I walked up behind her and gently placed a hand on her shoulder. She straightened up, sniffled, and said, "But that’s the way life is. You take the good with the bad, right?"

"Seem like it."

She looked up at me, and I found myself unable to take my eyes off of hers.

One of her hands snaked behind my neck, and she gently pulled my head down to hers.

The minute my lips touched hers, I was gone. I pulled her close to me, and kissed her with more passion than I knew I had.

She pulled away gasping, and said, "I know you don’t have to breathe, but if I don’t get some air soon…"

I smiled, and said, "I’m sorry."

She rested her head on my chest, and said, "Angel? I know you’re still in love with Buffy, so…"

I gently kissed her lips and said, "Do you want to know something?"

"What?"

"The entire time I’ve spent with you, I haven’t even thought of Buffy."

"Well, I know that you can’t really be in a relationship. I mean, the sex thing isn’t a huge issue, but-"

"My soul’s fixed," I said without thinking.

She threw her arms around my neck, and kissed me again.

~The End


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The Hope Chronicles - Chapter 4
Visit to the 'Dale

Author: Venus Blue
Series: The Hope Chronicles
Written: 2001
Summary: The gang finds out about Angel and Hope, and unexpected events arise.
Rating: R for non graphic sex
Spoilers: Small ones for I Will Remember You, Crush, and Intervention.
Feedback: Gives me a happy
Disclaimer: Joss Whedon owns all rights to Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. No copyright infringement intended. {There, happy?!}
AN: Angel and Hope have been dating for about six months.

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"Angel, I’m scared."

As Angel and I packed up our suitcases, he looked at me questioningly.

"Of what?"

"We’re going back to Sunnydale. Besides having to face a big ugly monster, both of us are going to meet up with our first real loves. I don’t even want to imagine the types of problems we could face. Then, Buffy and Rupert don’t know we’re together, and Buffy doesn’t know about your soul."

"Okay, I can see why you would be afraid. But we can do it. I know we can. Together, we can do anything."

I frowned, then walked up to him and hugged him tightly.

"I love you so much, Angel."

"I love you, too."

********************

"You really used to live here?"

I looked around the huge mansion, and smiled. It was beautiful.

"Yeah. There are some bad memories in here."

I saw him look toward a large empty space near the mantel, and I remembered the story of Acathla.

I came up to him, and hugged him tightly.

"Then let’s go make some new memories."

He smiled down at me, and lifted me up into his arms, kissing me deeply.

He carried me to the bedroom, where there was a large bed covered with a dusty comforter. He set me down, shook the dust off the soft blanket, and set me down gently on the bed. He slowly worked his way down my body, kissing my neck and collarbone, unbuttoning my shirt as he went down.

I ran my hair through his hair (gel-free, thanks to me), and wrapped my legs around his waist.

We made love passionately, our bodies becoming one as the ecstasy ripped through us, leaving me weak and motionless, and him panting for unnecessary air.

Afterwards, I lay beside him, playing with his hair.

He gently kissed my forehead, and said, "I love you so much."

I smiled up at him and said, "It’s still early. We should rest a little while before…"

"Agreed."

He pulled back the sheets and blankets, and we slid underneath. He wrapped his arms around my waist, and I rested my head on his chest. Soon, I was asleep.

********************

After learning from an old associate that Giles now owned the Magic Shop in town, Angel and I headed there. We were both very nervous.

"Should we walk in together?" I said, my voice shaky.

"I…I guess so."

We stopped outside the door hesitantly, then walked in. The store was free of customers, with Anya behind the counter and the gang all seated around a circular table. They looked up when we walked in, their faces registering complete and utter shock.

"Angel?" Buffy said questioningly.

"Hope?" Rupert said, equally as confused.

I gave a small wave, and said, "Hey, guys."

They simply stared.

********************

"So…you two are an item, are you?"

I gripped my cup of tea, and said, "You could say that, yes."

Buffy looked over at Angel, and I saw in her eyes that she was not terribly happy about this.

"Well, I think that’s great," Willow said, trying to relieve the tension.

"I don’t understand," Rupert said. "Hope, forgive me, but you’re a vibrant young woman, and-well, there is no tactful way to say this-you have a strong sex drive."

I exchanged a look with Angel. Who was going to explain that one?

"It’s a long story, actually," Angel said, not sure how to explain something that Buffy would never remember. "But…well, The Powers That Be informed me that my soul is permanent. Nothing will take it away."

This drew even more slack-jawed expressions. Buffy’s face registered more pain than either Angel or I could bear. Rupert’s face was near expressionless, but I knew he was also hurting.

"Well, I think it’s best if Angel, you speak with Buffy in private, and Rupert, you and I should talk."

"Um, well, yes, I think that would be best. Um, you others will mind the store, yes?"

Anya called from the counter, "Got it under control."

Angel gripped my hand, then followed Buffy into a back room, and I followed Giles up a ladder to the second floor.

We sat down at a table in the center, and he loosened his tie, his face finally showing the pain he was feeling.

"Rupert-"

"No. Hope, let me speak first."

I got quiet, and waited for him to let loose.

"Letting go of you was the worse mistake I ever made. I acted rashly, and I awaited the day of your return anxiously. Now you’re here, and you tell me this. Well, the only word I can use to express my feelings is heartbroken. But I realize it is my fault. And I’m glad you’ve moved on."

"Rupert, you know I never wanted to hurt you-"

He took my hand in his, and he said, "I realize that now. I can’t stay angry with you anymore. I didn’t hold a grudge all that long anyway. I realized why you kept it from me, and if I hadn’t been so narrow minded to begin with, and if I had just sat down to think about it, I wouldn’t have let you slip through my hands."

He looked down at my hand, encased in his own, and he sighed. As I looked at his beautiful features, I felt familiar feelings rise up in me, and I fought to keep them back.

"Does he make you happy?"

"Very much so."

Without looking up at me, he said, "Then I’m happy for you. I shan’t begrudge you anything. I wish you and Angel the best."

I stood up and said, "Come here, Rupert."

He slowly looked up at me, and I saw the tears glistening in his eyes. He stood up, and I came around the table, taking him in my arms.

"I’m so sorry."

He began to weep openly now, and I held him, stroking the back of his head.

When he finally got himself under control, he said, "I really do wish you the best of luck. I’m just sorry I let you go."

I gently kissed his cheek, and said, "I will never forget you, Rupert."

"Nor shall I."

********************

That night, Angel and I joined the Scooby Gang for dinner at Anya and Xander’s apartment. We shared stories, and made jokes, and got caught up on everything we’d missed.

Anya was a remarkably good cook for an ex-demon, and while we enjoyed the chicken cordon bleu she had prepared, Angel discreetly sipped the blood we had picked up from the butcher’s earlier that night. He glanced over at me occasionally, and I smiled reassuringly at him. I could tell the talk with Buffy had thrown them both off. Willow had quietly informed me earlier when we were alone that they had heard Buffy yelling for quite some time, then there was a large amount of tears. I could wait until Angel and I were alone to learn what had happened.

"So," I said in a moment of silence, "Spike is in love with you, eh, Buffy?"

She glanced up at me, and I noticed her smile barely touched her eyes.

"Horrible, isn’t it? We’re kinda hoping it’s just some sick phase that he’ll get over soon."

I sipped my iced tea and said, "Well, Spike’s not exactly the most stable individual in town. Think he’ll try anything funny?"

Xander said, "You mean besides building a Buffy bot? And tying her up and trying to feed her to Dru? Nah."

I smiled at Xander and said, "Good point."

Everyone fell into silence again, and I said, "Anya, this really is delicious."

She smiled brightly and said, "Thank you."

When we were all finished eating, I offered to help Anya clean up, which she graciously accepted. As I cleared the plates, Angel stood up and said, "Let me help."

I smiled over at him, and said, "Thank you, ba…Angel."

Buffy’s look was anything but cheerful.

We went into the kitchen, where Anya had already started rinsing off the dishes.

"Oh, Anya, I’ll take care of the dishes. You go ahead back in there and be the gracious hostess."

More than willing to leave the chores to others, she thanked us and went back into the dining room.

"How are you?" Angel asked as I filled the sink with hot soapy water.

"Coping. Of course, Buffy’s ‘Die, bitch, die’ looks aren’t making me want to dance, but…"

"Yeah, she didn’t take the news too well."

He fell into silence as I slid the dishes into the sink, and I turned to him and wrapped my arms around his waist.

"Look at me."

He looked into my eyes, and I said, "I love you, baby. I’m sorry you had to hurt Buffy."

He buried his face in the crook of my neck, and said, "I’m sorry you had to hurt Giles."

I nuzzled his cheek, and he turned, capturing my lips with his. We shared a soft kiss for a few seconds, then I heard footsteps entering the kitchen.

We looked up, and saw Buffy retreating from the kitchen as quickly as she had arrived.

I sighed and said, "Let’s get these dishes done."

********************

When the kitchen and dining room were clean, Angel and I cut out early. I hugged everyone good-bye, including Buffy, who seemed a bit hesitant, and we headed out to Angel’s car.

He opened the door for me, and I climbed in, casting one glance back in the direction of Xander’s apartment window. I saw a lone figure staring out from behind the curtains, and I knew it was Buffy.

As we drove through the streets of Sunnydale, I looked around at all the familiar buildings I hadn’t seen in almost a year. A lot had changed.

"Angel?"

"Yeah, baby?"

"What did you and Buffy talk about?"

He sighed and said, "You don’t want to know."

"No, I really do."

He wrapped one arm around my shoulder, and I moved closer to him, resting my head on his chest.

"She had some choice words for both you and I. I know she didn’t mean them, she was just hurt, but I didn’t appreciate some of the things she said about you, so we got into a fairly large argument. It ended up with her crying, and me trying to apologize. It wasn’t pretty."

I nodded and said, "I’m sorry, Angel."

"Hey," he said, kissing my forehead, "stop apologizing. We came back to Sunnydale for a reason. We’re going to fight this monster, and then go back to our real lives. You have closure in your relationship with Giles, and at least now they both know. No more worries."

I wrapped my arms around his waist, squeezing him tightly.

We got to the mansion, and I got out, grabbing the bags of groceries we’d bought earlier.

Angel took them from me, and we walked inside and headed for the kitchen. Setting the bags down on the table, he said, "I’m gonna call Cordy, see how things are in L.A."

"I’ll put these up."

He pulled out his cell phone and walked into the main foyer, and I started putting things into cabinets.

As I put a box of tea bags up, I lost my composure and began to cry. I fell into a crumpled heap on the floor, and curled my body up, resting my head on my arms as I sobbed.

Angel ran in, phone forgotten, and pulled me into his arms, stroking my hair and gently rubbing my back. I sobbed into his shoulder, my arms wrapped tightly around his neck.

"Oh, Angel, this is so hard."

"Shh, shh, I know."

He carried me upstairs, and sat down on the bed. I curled up in his lap, trying to regain my composure.

"I thought…I really thought I was over Rupert. I love you so much, and you treat me so wonderfully, but…"

"Hey, hey. Come on. I know."

He gently kissed me, and I slipped a hand around his neck, cradling his head as the kiss grew more passionate.

"I do love you, Angel. More than anything."

"And I, you, Hope."

We made love, and all the pain I’d felt all day washed away as I felt the familiar sensations rise and erupt throughout my body.

As we both recovered, he said, "You’re my baby."

I nibbled on his earlobe and said, "Always."

He pulled the blanket over us, and I immediately rolled over and lay my head on his chest, my own heartbeat resounding through my ears.

I tapped his chest lightly and said, "It never ceases to amaze me."

"What’s that?"

"How someone with no heartbeat can love so completely?"

I looked up at him, and he said, "No creature on earth could ever love you half-heartedly."

I kissed his chest and said, "I love you so much, Angel."

He stroked my back, and we fell asleep peacefully.

********************

The Quarvak demon was a hideous, 20-foot tall monster, with gray scales and four heads. The entire Scooby Gang fought it, Angel included, with Willow and Tara throwing magic spells at it from all directions.

While they fought the demon, I helped the hostages trapped in its lair get to freedom, a few at a time. It was tedious work, but as long as the Quarvak was distracted, it wasn’t a horribly difficult job.

The almost-victims were very grateful. Some went as far as to hug me. I merely nodded and directed them to the opening of the cave, asking some to help others who were too weak to move.

As I was helping the last set of people out, I noticed a nest of huge bright yellow eggs, hidden from site by the huge bulk of the monster. I didn’t know when they would hatch, but I imagined it wouldn’t be good for them to be ready anytime soon.

After the last victim was safe, I shouted, "Guys! There’s a nest!"

Angel looked over at me, and I motioned behind the monster. He nodded and yelled, "Hope, get out of here! Now!"

I bent to grab my pick ax, and felt a sharp, excructiating pain in my side. The Quarvak, apparently distracted by my shouting, had sunk one of its razor sharp, poison-tipped talons into my stomach, nearly slicing me in half.

"HOPE!" Angel screamed, running to me.

There was a huge tearing sound as the talon was retracted, and before I passed out, I saw Angel and Rupert run at full speed toward me, sheer panic etched on their faces.

********************

I woke up in a hospital bed with what felt like 100 IV’s in my arms. I glanced around, and the room seemed very foggy. I wondered if someone had left a window open.

I lifted my arm to move the blanket, and slammed my teeth down on my bottom lip to keep from screaming as agony ripped through my side.

I noticed a call button built into the railing on my bed, and I pressed it demandingly.

A nurse came in moments later, and said, "Oh, Ms. Anders, don’t try to sit up. You have to rest."

"What happened?"

"You don’t remember?"

I searched my memory, but my brain was very tired and foggy.

"Well, you’re fiance and friends brought you in, with a very serious wound to your abdomen. I believe they said you were in a car wreck of some sort?"

The Quarvak, I thought to myself, remembering.

"Angel…where’s Angel?"

"Your fiance? He’s in the waiting room."

"I need to see him."

"Oh, I don’t think that’s wise. You are still in ICU. Your condition is severe. If-"

"WHERE IS ANGEL?!" I screamed, then winced in pain.

Suddenly the door flew open, and Angel rushed in, immediately by my bedside.

"Hope, oh, god, I was so scared," he said, kissing my face over and over and over again. Quietly, Rupert and the rest of the gang followed, standing to one side in the room.

"I’m sorry, but this really isn’t allowed-" the nurse began to say. Rupert took her out in the hallway, then a few minutes later he came in and nodded to Angel.

"Am I going to die?"

Angel took my hand in his, and said, "Well, you-"

I looked into his eyes, and said, "Don’t lie to me, Angel."

"It’s possible," he said, his face strained with pain. "You just got out of surgery about two hours ago, and the doctors say they fixed all the internal damage, but they don’t know about the poison. Giles researched and we found an antidote, but the creature we have to get the serum from is extinct."

I sat quietly for a moment, letting it settle in. Rupert quietly came to my other side, and after exchanging a look with Angel, took my other hand and gently kissed the back of it.

"Hope, we’re not going to let anything happen to you."

"There’s not much you can do, right?" I asked quietly.

"Well, it seems that way now, but-"

"I’m going to die."

"No," Willow said. "You’re not. Tara and I are looking into-"

"I’m going to die," I said again. "There’s nothing you can do. Please leave."

My voice was calm and cool, and everyone exchanged glances.

"Please leave."

The gang quietly turned and left the room, and Angel and Rupert stayed by my sides.

"You guys…go ahead. I just want to be alone."

"Hope, I really wish you’d-"

"Angel…if you love me, you will leave me alone. Go with Rupert. I’ll call you if I need you."

Rupert squeezed my hand, and Angel kissed my forehead, and they left.

When the door was closed, I buried my face in my hands, and began to sob.

~The End


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The Hope Chronicles - Chapter 5
Last Hope

Author: Venus Blue
Series: The Hope Chronicles
Written: 2001
Summary: Hope is dying. Angel is out of his mind trying to find a cure. Willow and Tara find it in mutual friends. {Crossover surprise}
Rating: PG
Spoilers: None
Disclaimer: I’m not saying it! I’m not!! ::grumble grumble:: Okay, fine…Joss owns the Scoobies…like I care…I don’t want your stinkin’ scoobies anyway…

Read This Fic »

"She is NOT going to die!" I screamed, flinging a book across the room.

The gang got very quiet, looking at me like I’d just grown horns. We were in the magic shop, closed for the day, piles of books surrounding us.

"Everyone listen to me! Hope is not going to die, I don’t care what I have to do. Now find me a Lithfar demon. I don’t care if it’s in Antarctica, I’m going to kill it, and bring its saliva to save Hope."

"Angel-" Giles started to say.

"NO! I am NOT losing her. We are going to save her!"

"Listen to me!" Giles yelled, standing up. "I do not want her to die anymore than you do, but unless you think rationally and behave in a civilized manner, nothing is going to get done!"

Everyone was taken aback by Giles’ ouburst. I looked at him, and saw the fire in his eyes, and knew he still loved her.

"Angel, the last Lithfar demon was killed in the fourteenth century," Willow said gently. "We’ve got to find another way."

"Is there another way?" Tara asked. "I mean, we’ve been researching, and I haven’t found anything-"

"What about magic?" Xander asked. "Will, maybe you and Tara can find some…I don’t know, anti-Quarvak spell?"

"Well, we’ve been looking in the books, but most of the spells require something we’ve never heard of. A creature of pure light. I’ve never heard of that."

"Creature of pure light," Tara said, almost to herself. "I’ve heard that somewhere-"

She stood suddenly and walked to the counter, picking up the phone.

I turned back to Giles and said, "The poison…how long do we have?"

"Um, according to legend, the bite of a Quarvak could kill a mortal in a matter of days. The last known account, the victim suffered for a week straight, excruciating pain and mental anguish. The day of his death, he was completely insane, babbling about spirits under the skin."

"Oh, god," I said, reaching for my jacket.

"Angel, where are you-" Buffy started, standing up.

"I have to see Hope. I have to see how she is."

"Maybe you should-"

"I’m going."

I looked at her, and the look in her eyes forced me to turn away.

"Call if there’s news."

********************

"Hope?"

I slowly opened the door to her hospital room and entered. She lay on her hospital bed, her head turned toward the far wall. She was pale, and it was obvious she had been crying.

I quietly made my way to the chair beside the bed, and sat down. Hope never turned her head, and I gently put my hand on hers. She raised her hand, and I thought she was going to take it away, but instead, she put it back, over mine, and entwined her fingers through mine, gently stroking my hand.

"Angel, I don’t want to die."

I gently stroked her hair, and she turned her face toward me.

"Hope, I am NOT going to let you die. No matter what happens, I will give my life before I let anyone take yours."

She started crying anew, and I gently kissed her lips, still stroking her hair and forehead.

"Angel, I can’t…you can’t…I…"

She could barely speak, and I longed to hold her, but I knew I would hurt her horribly if I tried.

"Giles and the gang are still looking for your cure. I think Tara knew something, but I left before she could tell me what it was. I wanted to check on you."

"How long do I have?"

"Well, I mean, you-"

"Angel."

"A few days. Possibly a week."

"Oh, god," she sobbed, burying her face in her hands, wincing in pain as she brought her arms up.

"Shh," I said, resting my forehead against hers. "We’re going to cure you. We will."

The tears flowed freely from her eyes, and she turned her head, capturing my lips with her own.

"Angel, if I die-"

"Hey! You’re not going to die, do you hear me?"

"Angel, please listen to me. If I die, you have to give something to Faith. Please."

I turned my head, unable to look her in the eye. She raised a hand and gently turned my head to face hers.

"There’s a box. I keep it on the shelf in my closet, in the very back. It’s locked, and the key is in the pocket of my rabbit fur jacket. You know, the one you asked me about that I never wear? I need you to give the box and the key to Faith. I want her to have it. Please? And…and tell her…"

She broke down again, and I gently wrapped my arms around her, pulling her to me without hurting her wound.

She buried her face in my neck, sobbing openly.

I held her, not saying anything, just stroking her back and her hair, letting her cry it out.

********************

"How can people watch this crap?"

After Hope had calmed down, she and I called a nurse about getting her some food, and turned the TV on.

"I love this show," she said. "It’s been far too long since I watched it."

"But it’s so unrealistic. Like anyone talks that way in real life. And that girl? Look at her. Like she could really do any damage. She must way about 85 pounds soaking wet."

She looked over at me, smiling. I kissed her gently, and said, "Are you eating, or what?"

"I’m eating, I’m eating."

She took a small bite of carrots, and grimaced. She reached for the packet of salt on the side of the tray, and I grabbed it and tore it open for her, sprinkling a little on the vegetables. She mixed it up, and took another bite.

"Well, not home-cooking, but it’ll do."

As she ate, I picked up the phone and called the Magic Shop. The line was still busy, as it had been for the past twenty minutes.

"Dammit," I muttered, slamming the phone down.

She looked over at me and said, "Still busy?"

"Yeah. What the hell are they doing over there?"

"Well, maybe you should go see."

"No, I don’t want to leave you."

"I’m…"

She fell silent, and I looked over at her. Her face was contorted with pain, and she dropped her fork.

"Hope? Baby?"

"Oh, god…Angel…"

She flew back against the pillow, her body writhing in agony.

I slammed the nurse button down severely, and grabbed Hope’s shoulder, trying to hold her still.

"Hope, calm down. Hope? Can you hear me?"

"It hurts! Oh, god, it hurts!"

"Yes?" a nurse said over the intercom.

"Something’s wrong. She’s freaking out. Please…help her!"

"Oh, god, make it stop!" she screamed, fighting my hold on her.

A nurse and doctor flew in, took one look at the situation, and said, "Move."

"I can’t-"

"I need you to get out of the way. We can’t help her if you’re holding her."

The doctor pulled a syringe out of his pocket, and the nurse grabbed her arm, looking for the vein.

"Please! Please help me! Oh, god, it hurts!"

"It’s okay, Ms. Anders, we’re going to help you. Just calm down."

He looked over at me and said, "What started this?"

"I don’t know. She was eating, and then all of a sudden-"

"We’re going to give her something for the pain, and a mild sedative, just to calm her down."

"Will she…is she going to be okay?"

He injected the medicine into her veins, then raised up the hospital gown.

"Okay, she’s popped some stitches. We’re going to have to bring her back into the OR."

The nurse left the room quickly, and the doctor said, "Sir, she’ll be out cold in a few minutes, and probably the rest of the night. You might as well go home."

"But-"

"There’s nothing you can do."

Two orderlies came in and began to push the bed out. She looked up at me, her eyes filled with pain, and whispered, "Angel."

"I’m here, baby. It’s going to be okay."

"I love you, Angel."

I kissed her forehead as they came to the doors, and the orderlies said, "You can’t come any further. I’m sorry, but she will be okay."

"Hope? I’ll be here when you wake up. I promise."

She kissed my hand, and I watched as they wheeled her into the OR.

********************

"What do we know?" I asked, throwing off the blanket as I came into the Magic Shop.

"Plenty," Willow said. "Tara figured out how to cure her."

I spun around to look at the lovely blonde Wiccan, and said, "You did?"

She nodded shyly, and I rushed to her, hugging her tightly. Startled, she stood there for a second, then hesitantly patted my back.

"Sorry," I said, pulling away. She smiled up at me and said, "Well, Willow and I know these people. They’re in San Francisco, but I explained the situation to them, and they’re on their way here. They’re very powerful witches, and they have a friend who can cure anyone hurt by evil."

"Great. How soon can they get here?"

"They’ll be here tomorrow morning."

I sighed and ran my hands through my hair.

"Thank you so much, Tara. I can’t thank you enough, really."

She gave me a small half-smile and said, "It’s my pleasure."

"So how is she?" Xander asked, walking up behind Willow.

I sat down shakily in a chair, and said, "She freaked out. She was in so much pain, she was screaming and just…anyway, she popped some stitches, so the doctor’s took her back to the OR to check her out."

Giles frowned and said, "She was hurting terribly?"

I looked over at him, saying nothing. He nodded and removed his glasses to clean them.

A customer came into the newly-opened shop, and Anya rushed to help him. The gang went about making themselves look busy, and Buffy walked up to me.

"Angel? Are you okay?"

I looked up at her and said, "Yeah, I guess. I’ll be fine as soon as Tara’s friends get her."

She nodded and said, "Yeah. It’ll be better."

My stomach began to hurt, and I knew if I didn’t eat something soon, I’d be in no shape to help Hope.

"Giles?" I asked, looking over at him as he stood behind the counter.

"Yes, Angel?"

"Um…I need… to eat something soon."

"Oh, um, yes, well, we have nothing here, but I can send someone-"

"I’ll go get it," Buffy said, grabbing her coat. "Ten minutes."

She looked back at me, then walked through the door.

Willow came over and sat at the table with me.

"Hope’s gonna be fine, Angel, you know that, right?"

I nodded, trying to keep the emotions from playing out on my face.

She put her hand on mine and said, "We won’t let anything happen to her. I promise."

I smiled at her and said, "Thank you, Willow."

"Willow? Can you come help me with this?"

She looked over at Giles, then said, "Coming."

I sighed and made my way to the bathroom, closing the door behind me. I looked at my non-reflection, then turned on the faucet and splashed water on my face. I sat down on the closed toilet seat, and let the tears flow. I couldn’t stop them, so I left the faucet running and sobbed.

********************

With instructions to come immediately to the hospital as soon as their friends arrived, I left early the next morning to go to the hospital.

When I got there, Hope was still asleep, but the doctor informed me that she was resting, not sedated.

I sat by her bedside, watching her sleep peacefully for about an hour before she opened her eyes and looked up at me.

"Angel," she said, smiling at me.

"Hey, beautiful."

I leaned down and kissed her gently, and she stroked my unshaven cheek with her fingertips.

"Did you get any sleep last night?"

"A little."

Her head lay lazily against the pillow, her eyes heavy from sleep.

"Mm. I freaked out yesterday. Pulled my tummy open."

I grimaced and said, "I know, baby. It’s okay."

"Angel…there’s something…"

"What?" I asked, stroking her forehead.

"There’s something wrong in my head. I don’t…I don’t know what it is, but it’s like…it’s like something crawled in there and it’s trying to hurt me."

I frowned and said, "There’s nothing in your head baby, I promise. Nothing’s going to hurt you."

"No, really, I think there is something in there. It’s trying to tell me the most awful things."

It’s progressing faster than we expected, I thought to myself. Aloud I said, "It’ll be okay, honey. There are people on the way that are going to make those awful creatures in your head go away, I promise."

She whimpered and said, "It hurts my head. It’s like…it’s like it’s clawing at my brain, trying to tear out my thoughts and-"

"Shh," I soothed, taking her gently in my arms and holding her to my chest. "It won’t hurt you for long. I promise."

I kissed the top of her head, smelling her still-flower-scented hair, and feeling the silkiness on my face.

The door opened, and Willow quietly stuck her head in.

"Angel? Is she awake?"

"Yeah. Are your friends here?"

"Yeah," she said, moving out of the doorframe. The entirety of the gang came in, followed by three young women and a tall man. I sensed immediately that the man was more than mere mortal.

"Angel, this is the Halliwell sisters, Prue, Piper, and Phoebe, and their friend Leo. They’re here to help."

"Hey," the man said. "How is she?"

"It’s progressing quickly," I said, still stroking the back of her head. "She’s already starting to have the mental dillusions."

Giles frowned and removed his glasses, and Phoebe came around to the other side of the bed.

"She…she was hurt by a demon?" she asked quietly.

"Yeah," I said, nodding. "It-it attacked her while she was trying to rescue some victims. She…she didn’t even see it coming."

She nodded and said, "Leo is a white-lighter. He…well, he can save any mortal being who was hurt by a force of darkness."

I looked up at him and said, "Please. Please help her."

"Angel?" Hope said suddenly, her body tensing.

"What is it, baby?" I said, gently pulling her back from my body.

"They’re here."

"Who’s here, honey?" "The squirrels. They’re here. They know…they know! They’re going to hurt me! They want to-

"Shh," I said, looking up urgently at Leo. "It’s okay, baby. This man is here to help you. He’s going to make it all better. He’s going to make the squirrels go away."

Leo grimaced as he walked over to the side of the bed. The three sisters stood behind him, their faces determined.

"Lay her down, Angel," Leo said softly.

I gently lay Hope down on her back, and she moaned as she lost contact with me. She opened her eyes and looked up at me, her eyes full of sorrow.

"Angel?"

"Shh, baby, it’s okay," I said, picking up her hand and kissing it. "He’s going to help you."

Leo placed his hands on her stomach, right above the wound, and a white light flashed through the room. Hope arched her back, crying out, and then lay flat, her chest rising and falling rapidly.

He pulled his hands away, took a breath, and said, "She’s going to be fine. Stronger than ever."

I looked over at him and said, "You’re sure?"

"Absolutely. All the poisons are gone, and her wound is healed. Not even a scar."

I gently pulled her hospital gown to the side, and was amazed to see her soft skin unmarred by the fatal talon.

"You are amazing," I said, hugging him over the bed. I felt his body tense up and he said, "Uh…no problem, really."

"Sorry," I said, coughing and stepping back.

Hope slowly opened her eyes, and said, "Angel?"

I looked down at her and said, "Hey, baby. How are you feeling?"

"I don’t…I don’t…what…"

I smiled and said, "You’re cured, Hope. We found your cure, baby."

"Really?" she said, looking up and seeing Leo and the sisters. He nodded, and she began to cry.

"Oh, thank you. Thank you so much!"

She sat up slowly, and Leo said, "Be careful, you’re still going to be pretty weak."

She threw her arms around his stomach, hugging him tightly. He smiled and said, "You people like to hug, don’t you?"

"Thank you so much," she said. "I can’t even thank you enough."

"Don’t. It was my pleasure."

Willow walked over and said, "Thanks, to all of you. We couldn’t have done this without you."

"No problem," Prue said. "It was our pleasure as well. Anything to help out a fellow witch."

"Oh, about that," Tara said, pulling them to one side. "Willow and I were working on this spell-"

Leo smiled over at them and said, "This is obviously going to take some time, and since my job here is done…" He placed a hand on Hope’s shoulder and said, "I’m glad you’re alright. You’re going to be weak for awhile, but you’ll regain your strength soon."

"Thank you," she said again. "So very much."

He smiled at her, then with a flash of white light, he was gone.

The gang looked around, mildly shocked, and Piper said, "Oh, he does that."

I stood up, walked over to Willow and Tara and said, "Thank you so much. We couldn’t have done this without you."

Tara smiled and said, "We wanted to do it. To help Hope."

Hope, still fairly weak, managed, "I owe my life to you. All of you. I won’t ever forget that."

Willow and Tara hugged her, then they left the room with the sisters in tow. Giles gave her a quick hug and kiss on the cheek, then he and Buffy also departed. Xander hugged her, while Anya made some strange remark about her not dying, then they left as well.

I sat beside her bed and said, "I’m so proud of you, Hope. You held out well."

"Yeah. I held out really well. Crying like a baby and ranting about squirrels in my head. I was-"

I covered her mouth with mine, cutting off her last words. She raised her hands slowly, placing them around my neck, and kissed me passionately.

"I love you so much, Angel. So very much."

I held her tightly in my arms, kissing with her with all the passion my soul could manage.

"I love you, too. And nothing is ever going to change that. Ever."

She rested her head against my chest, with me leaning slightly over to keep her comfortable, and we sat there like that, in a lover’s embrace that meant more to me than any other I’d ever had in my life.

~The End


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The Hope Chronicles - Chapter 6
Healing

Author: Venus Blue
Series: The Hope Chronicles
Written: 2001
Summary: Hope is healing nicely from her injury. But she and Angel both have a lot of healing to do before they can return to L.A.
Rating: PG-13
Spoilers: None
Disclaimer: Why do I add this?! It’s not like Joss is going to see my fic and go, "Hey! Those aren’t hers to play with! Give ‘em back!" {You think he ever watched the Sesame Street where they taught sharing?} But, yeah, he owns ‘em all…except my gal. I think he’s tryin’ to steal her though. The squirrels told me. Alison Kraus and union station, and Kim Richey own the rights to these beautiful song lyrics.

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"Hope? Baby, I’m…what the hell are you doing?!"

Angel entered the mansion, and found Hope seated by the fireplace, legs curled up under her, watching the fire burn.

"Hey, handsome," she said with a smile. "I woke up and saw you weren’t there, and I was worried, so I came downstairs and started a fire. The sun’s almost up."

"I know, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to worry you. I figured you were still sleeping, so I’ve been at Giles’ all night, helping with research."

She looked over at him, a surprised look on her face.

"You’ve been at Rupert’s all night?"

He nodded, and she said, "How’d it go?"

"Well, better than I had expected."

She slowly stood up, and he saw her falter, and was immediately by her side. He held her up and said, "Baby, how’d you make it all the way down the stairs?"

She smiled and said, "I half crawled, half walked. I’m getting stronger."

He scooped her up in his arms and said, "You are never going to get stronger if you don’t rest. You have to heal, baby."

She nodded, tears forming in her eyes, and he carried her upstairs to the bedroom, laying her gently on the bed and kissing her forehead.

"Why are you crying?"

"Because I’m tired of being weak!" she yelled, throwing her head back against the pillow. "I’m tired of being this invalid who lays in bed all day. I’m sick of it."

Angel held her in his arms, rocking her and humming softly.

"I’m tired of not being able to make love to you."

At this, he pulled back, and looked into her eyes.

"That doesn’t matter to me, baby. I went a long time without being able to make love to anyone, and you know what? Now that I found you, I can wait forever. As long as I can hold you in my arms, and look at that beautiful face, that’s all I want from life. I don’t want sex."

She shuddered against his chest, and curled up in a ball in his lap. She was soon asleep.

Gently, he lay her down, and pulled the comforter over her. He pulled off his shirt and trousers, and slid in beside her, wrapping his arms around her prone figure. He watched her sleep for a long time, listening to her even breathing. He thought about the confrontation with Giles, and the things he would never be able to tell her.

********************

Earlier that night:

"Need any help?"

Angel walked into the magic shop, where the gang was gathered around the center table. They looked up at him, and Giles motioned him inside.

"Angel, yes, of course, your help is always appreciated."

Angel pulled up a chair, and Willow asked, "How’s Hope?"

"She’s still pretty weak, but I think she’s healing nicely."

Willow smiled reassuringly at him, and said, "Giles found an ancient text that may be prophetic."

"Ah, prophecies, my favorite."

Xander handed him a book, and Giles said, "See if you can find anything about a demon uprising on the 19th rotation of Venus through the Moon of the falling suns."

"Sure."

Three hours, later, Angel was on his seventh book, and still there was no word on the uprising.

Angel was just about to call to check on Hope when Willow cried, "Ah-ha!"

"I love it when she does that," Buffy said, coming around behind Willow’s chair and looking over her shoulder.

"But wait…this says that that’s scheduled to happen in 2058."

"But I was certain…" Giles said, standing up to grab the ancient text that had fallen into his hands earlier that day. "Oh, well, of course. I swear, the writings on this parchment are so faded…"

Xander slammed his book shut and said, "Well, that was a bracing waste of time."

"Yes, very," Anya said. "Can we go home?"

Still absorbed in the book, Giles dismissed them with a wave of his hand.

"Yes, please. Feel free to go."

The gang bolted from the shop, and as Angel slowly stood to go, Giles said, "Angel? Might I have a word?"

Turning, he said, "Sure. What is it?"

Closing the book, he took his glasses off, and there was a look of fierce determination to say his piece in his eyes. Angel had been dreading this conversation since they had arrived. He sat back down at the table, and Giles sat across from him, watching him closely.

"Now, Angel, I know you are aware of how deeply I loved Hope. Still do."

"Yes, I am-"

"And you also know that I will protect her no matter what the cost.

"Now, I’m not honestly sure what it is that draws young women to you. You may be handsome, but that does not change the fact that you are dead. There’s no way around that. You have no beating heart. You are a demon in a human shell. Your soul may keep you from feeding on human life, but that doesn’t make you any less a vampire."

Biting his bottom lip, Angel refused to let the biting comeback that rose in his throat come out.

"Now, I know Hope is a big girl who can make decisions on her own, but I also know that she left Sunnydale in a very frazzled state, and I don’t believe she was thinking clearly when you met up with her. I believe you swooped in and rescued her, and she felt she needed someone to cling on, and you were there. Nothing more than that."

Angel narrowed his eyes at him and he quickly went on, "Don’t worry, I won’t be saying any of this to her. It’s not my place. But I felt I should tell you, that young lady still has feelings for me. It was more than apparent to me during our conversation the first day that this was so. Just felt you should know."

"I knew that."

He was taken aback by this and said, "Oh?"

"Rupert, I’m not naïve. I know you two have history. I know she still has feelings for you. I also know that you threw her out like a bad puppy when you found out that she refused to tell you something very painful and very personal. In my book, that makes YOU the bad guy, NOT me. We’ve discussed it, and even though we do have feelings for our exes, we’ve decided it’s more important to love each other than moon over what could have been. As for the relationship between us being no more than a ‘fling’ or a ‘whim,’ you’re very wrong. I’m sorry you can’t accept that Hope has moved on, but she has. If you try to steal her from me, we’re going to have problems. As of right now, everything’s fine between us. Don’t ruin that."

With that, Angel stood up and left the magic shop, more than a little peeved.

********************

When Angel woke, Hope wasn’t in bed beside him. Alarmed, he rose from the bed, pulling his pants on quickly and heading downstairs.

"Look, Hope, I know you think Angel loves you, but you’re wrong."

Stopped by Buffy’s voice, he crept down the stairs, listening to the conversation downstairs.

"He’ll always love me. We have a serious history together, and there is nothing anyone can do to stop that. He was hurting, and you came along, with your check-out-my-ass pants, and he wanted the companionship. It’s to be expected."

Angel peered into the living room, where Hope sat on the sofa, with Buffy pacing in front of her. Hope’s face remained non-expressive, but Angel knew she was livid at being talked to like a child.

"This ‘relationship’ you think you have with him? It isn’t real. He told me one time that in all of his years, he had only loved one person, and you know who that was? It was me. Just because you came along flaunting your wares, it doesn’t change anything. He’ll always love me. You were just a means to help him try and forget about me. It’s only a matter of time before-"

"Be quiet."

Stopped by the calm, yet deadly sounding tone of her voice, Buffy paused in her pacing and looked down at Hope.

"You think you’re so smart? You think you can come into this house and tell me that my relationship with Angel means nothing? Well, that’s where you’re wrong, HONEY."

She said the term with such disgust that Buffy actually winced.

"Angel and I have nothing BUT love for each other. Just like I loved Rupert. But you know what? It’s different now. Angel and I tell each other everything. I’ve told him every aspect of my life, including my painful growing up years, and my search for Faith, and my time here with Rupert. Just as he has told everything of his almost 250 years on Earth. Most of the stuff we’ve told each other is highly painful, and I’m sure both of us have learned things we didn’t care to know. But because we LOVE each other, it was to be expected."

"Just as he told me everything when-"

"Did he tell you about the Ambassador to Egypt and his pregnant wife and three-year-old son? Did he tell you what he did to them?"

Taken aback at this, Buffy said, "Well, no, but-"

"Did he tell you about going back to Darla even AFTER he lost his soul? Begging her to take him back, telling her he would ignore the soul he’d gained just so they could stay together?"

"That doesn’t mean-"

"I can keep going. I’m sure I’ve got more than enough information stored in my photographic memory to keep your mouth hung agape, and leave your mind reeling from some of the brutal torture he’s inflicted on people."

Angel winced, wishing Hope didn’t have to live with the knowledge of how cold-blooded her lover had once been.

"But I don’t care about any of that. If Angel had told you, how would you have reacted? I don’t imagine you would have been to big on the forgiveness thing, would you have?"

"Of course I-"

"Get out of our home, Buffy. You’re not welcome here. I’m not about to tell Angel about this, because I am aware that he does still hold a place for you in his heart, just as I will always hold a place in mine for Rupert. That’s understood. People in love understand these things. And I know it would hurt him deeply to know what a BITCH you’re being. Which is why I think it would be best if you left before he woke up."

Grabbing her jacket and bag, Buffy stormed out, never looking back. Following her out with her eyes, Hope waited until she was sure she was gone, then stood up uneasily, testing her legs for strength.

Angel came downstairs then, and took Hope’s arm from behind, causing her to jump.

"Oh, Angel. You startled me. I was just…I woke up, and couldn’t go back to sleep, so I came down to fix myself a cup of tea-"

Pulling her tightly to him, Angel kissed her passionately, and they sat down on the sofa, wrapped in each other’s arms.

Let the sun fall down all around you
Let the night surround you in a blanket of starlight
I’ll whisper you a lullaby
Let the sun fall down

"Listen to me," Angel said after a few minutes, pulling her face up so that he looked directly into her eyes. "Don’t listen to what Buffy said. I love you more than anything else in this god-forsaken world. You are the ray of sunlight when I’m cold, the gentle sea breeze when I’m hot. When I’m thirsty, you’re my fresh drink of water, the last bite of food when I’m hungry. I love you more than I loved Buffy. That is something I never thought I’d say to another person ever. Thank you for giving that to me."

She stared at him for a moment, adoration etched on her face, then whispered, "I don’t know what to say. Anything I could say to you would be pointless compared to what you just said. That was the most beautiful thing anyone has ever said to me. I will love you forever just for that."

She rested her head on his chest, and he rested his cheek on her head, smelling her hair and feeling the warmth of her body against his.

"Hope…there’s something I need to tell you."

"What is it, baby?"

"You know how I went to Giles’ last night?"

********************

It doesn’t matter what I want, it doesn’t matter what I need
It doesn’t matter if I cry, don’t matter if I bleed
Feel the sting of tears falling on this face
You loved for years

Hope stormed into the Magic Shop, leaning heavily on an intricately carved wooden cane.

Giles looked up from his spot behind the counter, and said, "Hope! What are you doing up and about?"

Walking up to him, she slapped him across the face with all her might. She was still a little weak, but the force of the blow wasn’t what made him put his hand to his cheek and stare at her in horror.

"Everyone…OUT!" Hope said, never taking her eyes away from his.

Anya glanced over at Giles, and he nodded. The customers scurried out quickly, and Anya headed out the side door.

"How dare you…" Hope said, a murderous look in her eyes.

"Hope, whatever Angel’s told you-"

"It doesn’t matter WHAT Angel told me!" she yelled. "You had NO right saying ANYTHING to Angel about my relationship with him. YOU threw me out, remember?! With no chance to justify my actions, or explain myself! Now, when I came back, you said you were FINE with that, and as long as I was HAPPY, you were happy for me. How DARE you go behind my back and treat Angel like you did?!"

"I was only doing what I thought was-"

"No! Don’t even try to tell me you were trying to help me when you did that! If you cared even a tiny bit for me, you would have stayed OUT of our relationship! Who the hell do you think you are? Huh?" she exclaimed, punctuating each sentence with a jab to Giles’ chest. "What about when we first announced we were a couple? Huh? Do you remember how much flack we got for being together? Because I was so young, and you were so ‘old’?" she said, holding up her hands to show quotation marks. "We got so pissed off, we actually stayed holed up in my apartment for weeks, only coming out occasionally when we didn’t think we’d be seen. You remember why?! Because we didn’t want to hear anyone’s MOUTH because we fucking loved each other!"

Giles winced, not just because of her harsh tone and language, but more because he knew, in a way, she was right.

"I did it because I love you," he said quietly.

"Yeah, well, you lost me, didn’t you? And who’s fault was that, incidentally?"

Defeated, Giles sunk into one of the chair’s that surrounded the research table.

"Don’t come near me or Angel again. We’ll help with research, more out of love and respect for the Scoobies than anything else. Don’t try to communicate with us like we’re friends, or see us socially. You’ve lost us forever. Nothing else you do will win our trust back. I’m sorry."

And with that, she turned and left the Magic Shop, Angel’s leather jacket twirling around her.

********************

Meanwhile:

Buffy was fixing herself a cup of tea in the kitchen when she heard the knock on her back door.

Looking out the window, she saw Angel, and smiled a little to herself. Then she unlocked and opened the door, letting him in.

"Buffy, we need to talk."

"Sure. What is it?"

"I understand you came to see Hope today."

Angel watched the look of confusion cross her face, and he was immediately irritated. He knew she was going to try to deny it.

"I don’t-"

"Don’t," he spat. "I was standing on the stairwell the entire time you were talking. Don’t try to deny it, or cover it up, or say she started it. Who the hell do you think you are talking to her like that?"

A look of determination crossed her face, and she said, "I did what I thought was right."

"Coming into my house and speaking to my girlfriend that way? That was right?"

"Why not?!" she exploded. "You don’t love her. She’s just a new toy for you to play with. What you have with her is not real. You’ll-"

"Stop right there. Buffy, I have never wanted to hit a woman like I want to hit you right now. You back off now. I love Hope more than I have ever loved anyone in my life. She fills the emptiness inside me like no other creature ever has. Not even YOU."

"A year ago, you-"

"-wouldn’t have said that," Angel finished for her. "You’re right. I wouldn’t have. That was because I didn’t know that I could ever hold such deep adoration for someone, and be able to fully express that. I am able to love Hope in every way a man should. I didn’t have that with you, and I can never again have that with you. I think it’s time you learned to accept that. Now, when I first arrived in Sunnydale, we talked, and after the first set of harsh words, I told you that I understood you were hurt, and I wouldn’t hold them against you. Now I will. You ever come near Hope again in anger, and we will fight. I’m telling you this NOW. We will still help with research when we can, and we will always be willing to help fight the big uglies, but you and I? We will never be friends again, but I respect your friends too much to simply abandon them over YOUR pettiness, are we clear?"

"Very," Buffy said with equal anger.

With that, Angel left. Buffy slammed the door behind him, then leaned against the counter, crying.

********************

When Angel got back to the mansion, he went upstairs to the bedroom, where Hope was slowly undressing.

"Hey, gorgeous," he said, walking up to her and pulling her to him. She kissed him passionately, her arms sliding around his neck as he scooped her up in his arms.

"Hey, yourself. How did it go?"

"Gut wrenchingly. How about you?"

"The same. But at least it’s over now, right?"

"Absolutely. And we can move on with our lives."

She smiled up at him.

"And we can heal."

~The End


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Things Remembered

Author: Venus Blue
Written: May 21, 2003
Summary: After the dust settles, there are some things that should never be left behind.
Rating: G. Nothing bad here
Disclaimer: Joss, you gave me a wonderful finale. This is my gift in return to you, and your ME staff, for making me sob and scream and yell.
Spoilers: For the finale. Nothing much else.
Feedback: It's been so long since I've gotten any. Please. Don't make me beg. Maybe it'll jump start my muse once more. greenbunygoddess[at]aol.com
Distribution: At my site, The Bunny Warren, FF.net, any list archives, and if anyone else wants, please just ask. It makes me warm and fuzzy inside, and I've never said no yet.
Dedication: To all of my Welcome friends. You kept me sane in the aftermath. To Meltha, and Meg, and RyAn, and everyone who brought a few things to my attention that I never would have noticed.
A/N: Written in about five minutes after a certain long and painful chat. I hope it doesn't suck.
Awards: , View 2nd award, View 3rd award, View 4th award

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"B? You gonna be okay?"

"I'm fine, Faith. I just...I need to be alone for a minute."

Faith stared at Buffy's prone figure. She lay curled into a ball, hugging her arms to her body. Frowning, Faith turned away, closing the hotel door behind her and heading to the other rooms to see how the rest of the girls were doing.

Buffy stared at the bland comforter of the motel bed. It was a seedy motel, but it was the closest one they could find with enough rooms to fit all the girls. Everyone was tired, drained from the extreme events of the last few weeks.

Sunnydale was gone.

The idea hadn't entirely sunk into Buffy's head yet. Her entire life was ahead of her. She could do anything she wanted. She could have a normal life.

She missed her mom.

She would never be able to visit her mother's grave again. That was one of the hardest things to come to grips with. Nothing about Sunnydale would be missed besides those graves.

Joyce. Tara. Jenny. Jesse. Even her own. The list was endless. And now there were people who would never get their own graves. Those who were buried beneath the rubble of Sunnydale and the hellmouth. People whose dust would never...

Before the tears that had welled in her eyes could fall, there was a tentative knock on the door.

"I'm fine," Buffy called.

"Buffy? Can I..."

Sitting up slowly, Buffy called, "Come in, Dawn."

The door opened, and Dawn stepped in, what appeared to be a small bookbag clutched in her hand.

"Buffy, I..." She swallowed, and fought to continue in a stronger voice. "Before we left, I got some stuff. Something for everyone. This was from your room. I thought since...maybe you would want..."

Fighting the tears back, Buffy managed, "Thank you, Dawnie. I...thank you."

Dawn walked slowly to the bed, and handed the bag to her sister. Buffy motioned for her to sit down, and slowly opened the bag. The first thing she saw was the dress.

"Dawn...what..."

"It's the dress Mom wore on her last date. I thought...I figured you'd want to keep it. It still smells like her," Dawn said, her voice cracking.

Nodding, Buffy held it to her face, feeling the soft material and smelling her mother's perfume.

The next item made Buffy smile, and even let out a small laugh.

"You always knew where I hid it, didn't you?"

"You could never keep things from me," Dawn said lightly, gently punching Buffy in her shoulder.

Buffy fingered the clasp to her old diary fondly, and set it to the side.

"Before you....before you get to the rest of the stuff, I want you to know...I'm proud of you. You were amazing, Buffy. I've never been prouder of you."

Buffy smiled, her eyes shining with tears.

"I think both of the Summers women did damn good. Damn good."

Buffy slowly removed the few articles of clothing Dawn had managed to stuff into the bag in such a short amount of time. It would be nice to take a hot shower and get into some clean...

Buffy's thoughts trailed off as she saw what was at the bottom of the bag.

Slowly removing it, she stared up at Dawn with wonder and amazement.

"I knew you couldn't survive without him. Both of them."

Setting it down gently, she pulled Dawn into a bear hug, nearly squeezing all the oxygen from the girl. Dawn hugged back just as tightly, holding her sister as the older girl sobbed violently into her shoulder.

And from the bed, the small pink pig watched knowingly with his beady eyes, the silver cross around his neck glistening in the sunlight of a new day from the open window.

Shades of Grey


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Tonight and the Rest of My Life

Author: Venus Blue
Written: 2001
Summary: Takes place during "I Will Remember You." Buffy has fallen asleep after their marathon nookie-session, and Angel holds her, deep in thought.
Rating: G
Spoilers: General for the Buffy/Angel relationship.
Feedback: Wanted almost as much as David Boreanaz on my doorstep with a big pink ribbon around him.
Disclaimer: You know the drill. Joss, oh great and godly one, I grovel at your feet, and beg your forgiveness for using your people without your permission. Now get over it. Also, the magnificent Nina Gordon owns the rights to this song.
AN: This is just a short song fic. Nothing special about it, but if you like it, please r/r. If you don’t like it, go ahead and r/r too. I need to feel special.
Awards: View

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Down to the earth I fell with dripping wings
Heavy things won’t fly
And the sky might catch on fire
And burn the axis of the world
That’s why I prefer a sunless sky
To the burning and stinging in my eye

Is it possible for her to look even more beautiful? I never thought it. Maybe it’s just the human heart beating inside me…or the blood coursing through my newly awakened veins. But I never thought I could ever love Buffy more, and I was proven wrong.

She sleeps peacefully, cradled in my arms, her head resting on my chest, a small smile still on her lips. I find myself unable to keep the same smile from crossing my face. I love her so much.

Ever since the first time I saw her, I knew I would love her forever. Watching her, so afraid, so young, forced into a life she wasn’t ready for. I knew she was going to have a tough road ahead, and all I wanted was to keep her safe. I never wanted to hurt her…ever.

I wince as I recall our first kiss. My inability to keep the demon from emerging, her shock at seeing the real me. She came after me, so worried about her mother. Thinking I had purposefully tried to hurt her, her family.

I never would have done that. I never would do that. The only thing I ever want in life is to make her happy. To know she’s content.

I feel so light
This is all I wanna feel tonight
And I feel so light
Tonight and the rest of my life

I gently stroke her hair, and she stirs slightly, rubbing her silky soft cheek against my now warm skin. I pull the blanket up a little more, making sure she was warm enough.

I’d hurt her so badly in the past. The first time we’d allowed ourselves to feel like this…god, that was a nightmare. When I think back to what my demon put her through…

I shake my head to clear these thoughts. That was all in our past. Never again would we have to worry that my demon would emerge, ready to wreak chaos on the lives of her and our friends. We could face whatever was to come together, without worrying about the demon inside of me gaining control.

I smiled as I thought of the time that Buffy had told me she didn’t even notice when I vamped out. She had touched my face, my real face, her only thought my injuries. She loved me for who I was. With no exception. And I had hurt her time and time again.

Memories flash behind my eyes. Her face when she found out the prophecy of her death. The hurt and tear-filled eyes as I tore her down after our first night of lovemaking. The agony she’d had to suffer when I opened the portal to Hell, and she’d had to send me, soul restored, to the pits of the worst torment I’d ever been put through. Her face when I told her I no longer wanted her in my life, and that I was leaving. And worst of all. The memory that tears at my heartstrings. Her face after the Graduation fiasco. Watching me as I watched her, knowing that it would be the last time we would see each other again.

Gleaming in the dark sea
I’m as light as air
Floating there breathlessly
When the dream dissolves I open up my eyes
I realize that everything is shoreless sea
Weightlessness is passing over me

"Angel," she murmurs in her sleep. I look down quickly, and she appears to be asleep. I suspect she’s having a nightmare, but she never opens her eyes. I wait, expecting her to say more, but there’s nothing. She’s only dreaming.

I lean down and kiss her forehead. I feel her lean into the kiss, even in her slumber. She’s such an amazing young woman. It’s hard to believe she isn’t even 19 years old. She’s taken on so much, so young.

But she’ll never have to face it alone. From this day on, I will be with her, fighting side by side. Able to walk with her in sunlight.

Nothing will ever keep us apart again.

Everything is waves and stars
The universe is resting in my arms

Sliding down slightly on the bed, I close my eyes and follow her into slumber.

~The End


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Value to Survival

Author: Venus Blue
Written: June 22, 2004
Pairing: Willow/Riley
Rating: G
Summary: Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art.... It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.
Feedback: Do you like getting feedback? Then why would you think I wouldn’t?
Distribution: At my site, The Bunny Warren. Probably FF.net, if I get really bored. Any lists who archive. Anyone who wants, please ask. I haven't said no yet.
Author’s Note 1: Written for blaar_rosir for the Fluffathon. She wanted Willow and Riley, post Season 7. Not a pairing I would write normally, but I enjoyed the challenge. Hope she enjoys it, too. Summary and title from a CS Lewis quote.
AN 2: Little FYI for my sanity, mostly. a) Tara didn't die. She and Willow split amicably. b) Kennedy? Huh? You mean the president? I don't know any other Kennedy's. No sir. c) Sam? Thinking, thinking....ohhh, you mean Riley's *girlfriend*. Eaten by a polar bear. Tragedy, really." There, sanity saved.
AN 3: As always, more love than exists to Meltha for the beta, and the friendship.

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As Willow Rosenburg walked home after a long day at work, her mind was blissfully free of all thoughts other than whether there was ice cream left in the freezer. For the first time in too many years, she was really happy with her life.

After they’d destroyed Sunnydale, she had moved to Rome with Buffy and the others, and she’d enjoyed it for awhile. It was a new experience, and she’d loved the culture. But she grew tired of it after a few years, longing for a real hamburger and fries, and wanting to make a life on her own, away from slayers and watchers. With the trust fund she’d received when she reached the age of 25, she’d set herself up in Los Angeles, in a small yet comfortable apartment. A few weeks after arriving, she managed to land a job keeping the books for a magic shop just three blocks from her home. She enjoyed the short walk to and from work, and loved to browse in stores along the way.

She still kept in contact with her friends, and Dawn had come to see her when she was visiting her father at Christmas, but mostly she was on her own.

Reaching into her bag to find her keys, she wasn’t looking where she was headed and plowed straight into another pedestrian coming from the opposite direction. Dropping her purse, she fell back slightly, startled. Looking up, the apology on her lips was frozen by the sight of the man she’d just collided with.

“Hey, Willow.”

“Riley?”


*********************


“So, how long have you been in Los Angeles?”

“About six months,” Riley said, sitting down across from her at the streetside coffee shop. “I’ve finally managed to get the army to cut me free. They didn’t want me to go, but after a little pushing, I got an honorable discharge. I always did like California. How about you?”

“It’ll be a year next month. I was living in Italy for a few years, but I missed this place.”

“Italy? Wow.”

“Heh. It’s a long story.”

“Yeah, heard about Sunnydale. You guys really took out the Hellmouth?”

“Well, one of them,” Willow said with a smile. “It’s nice to know we did a little good.”

“How’s the rest of the gang?”

“They’re great, last I heard, anyway. Xander’s in Africa, feels like forever since I saw him last. He really seems to love it over there. Buffy and Dawn are in Rome with Giles, taking care of all the slaying business.”

“And you in America, all by your lonesome.”

“It’s not too bad. I’ve made a few friends, and we talk about stupid stuff rather than demons and apocalypses. It’s nice to be able to talk Friends finale and Cosmopolitan without impending doom hanging over your head.”

“Know the feeling.”

“Do you still talk to your Initiative friends?”

“Not so much. Graham calls to check in every few months, see if I’m still breathing. And I got a letter from Martin a few weeks back. It’s nice to hear from them, but all in all, it’s a pretty quiet life.”

Leaning in conspiratorially, Willow said, “Quiet is fun, isn’t it?”

“Good god, yes!”

They finished their coffee, and Riley offered to walk Willow back to her apartment. They made small talk on the way, and when they finally reached her building, Riley asked, “What are you doing tomorrow?”

“Hmm. It’s my day off. I wasn’t planning much more than pajamas and daytime television.”

“I was hoping maybe you’d like to do something with me. I don’t have any plans…”

“I’d like that.”

“Great! So I’ll come get you around 9:00?”

“Make it 10:00. I like to sleep in.”

“Alright. See you then.”

Willow gave him a quick hug, then disappeared inside.


*********************

Willow awoke to knocking at her front door, and she groaned. She’d overslept.

Pulling on her robe, she ran a hand through her hair and went to open the door.

Riley stood there, a paper bag in one hand and a yellow daisy in the other.

“Overslept, huh?”

“Little bit.”

Raising the bag, he offered, “Breakfast?”

“Wonderful. Come on in, and let me get ready.”

“No rush.”

Willow walked into her bedroom and grabbed a blouse and jeans from her closet. Walking to the bathroom, she spotted Riley looking hopelessly through her cabinets.

“Plates are above the stove,” she called.

“Thank you!”

When she came back into the kitchen, dressed and fresh faced, Riley had the table set, and bagels laid out.

“Ah, you found my vice,” she said, grinning.

Sitting down, she took a sip of her orange juice and asked, “So, any ideas of what we’re going to do today?”

“I hadn’t really thought about it. I figured we’d play it by ear. I’ve got my car, so we can either walk or drive, see the sights. Unless you had any ideas?”

“I was thinking, have you ever been to Graumen’s Chinese Theater?” Willow asked, taking a bite of her bagel.

“The place with all the celebrity handprints and stuff?”

“Yeah. I’ve always wanted to go there, but I didn’t want to go alone.”

“That sounds like a lot of fun. And it’s in the center of everything, so we can just go from there.”

“Good plan,” Willow said, smiling as she grabbed another bagel.

“Glad I thought of it.”


*********************

“This is very alarming.”

“It’s not that bad.”

“Not that bad? I share a footsize with Arnold Schwarzeneggar!

“Yeah, but your hands are much smaller.”

“Not comforting!”

“Well, he had really small feet for such a manly man.”

Willow glared up at him, and he grinned.

“Ice cream?”

Still glaring, but fighting a smile, she huffed, “I suppose.”

They entered the cool ice cream parlor, and walked up to the counter. Riley ordered a cup of vanilla, and Willow asked for a double scoop of mint chocolate chip in a sugar cone.

As they continued their walk, Willow laughed and said, “This feels so weird. I’ve been in this town for almost a year, and only now am I being tourist-y.”

“Don’t feel bad. The most I’ve seen is two blocks in every direction from my apartment building.”

“Thank you,” Willow said, smiling up at him.

“For what?”

“For inviting me out. I’m having such a great time, and it’s all thanks to you.”

“More than a pleasure. And I’m glad you’re having fun. So am I.”

As they passed a large water fountain, Willow felt Riley’s hand envelop hers. Smiling down at her cone, she entwined her fingers with his.


*********************


Later that night, as they finished dinner and Riley gave the waiter his credit card, he looked at her for a moment before saying, “Okay, I have a question for you.”

“Hit me.”

“Is it possible for me to ask you if you’d like to come back to my place to watch a movie...without sounding like I’m trying to get you into bed?”

Willow choked on her water, and Riley chuckled.

“It’s just…I never have anyone to watch movies with. When we were stationed in Japan, I found this great store that sold all these recent American movies for little to nothing, and I stocked up. I never watch them.”

“Are we talking subtitles here?”

Laughing, he said, “The titles on the cases are in Japanese. The movies themselves are in English.”

“Well, then, that does sound like fun.”

Standing, he walked around the table and helped her out of her seat. As they left, it was Willow who reached out to clasp hands.


*********************


“Wow, this is a lot of movies.”

“Told you,” Riley called from the kitchen. “Do you want something to drink?”

“What ya got?”

“Milk, orange juice, water, beer, and iced tea.”

“Iced tea sounds great.”

Riley came back into the living room with two glasses, and Willow turned from the DVD holder.

“I can’t even begin to decide. There’s too many.”

Kneeling next to her, Riley looked at the pile she’d already pulled out. Grabbing one, he said, “This has always been a favorite of mine.”

“Mine, too. Although, I wouldn’t peg you as the Moulin Rouge type.”

Standing and turning away from her to put the movie in, he said, “Well, I’ve always had a thing for redheads.”

Feeling her face flush bright red, Willow sipped her iced tea and smiled. She couldn’t believe how one day could change the way she looked at him so dramatically.

Grabbing the remote, he asked, “Do you want a pair of shorts, or sweatpants?”

“No, I think I’m good.”

“Okay. Just let me know.”

Willow moved to the couch, and curled up in the corner. Riley went to the hall closet and grabbed two blankets, unfolding one and laying it over her before taking a seat on the other side of the couch.

They watched the movie in silence, and just around the time the unconscious Argentinean fell through the ceiling, she grinned sheepishly at Riley and said, “What were you saying about shorts?”

Smirking at her, he paused the movie and went down the hall to his bedroom, coming back with a pair of shorts and sweatpants.

“Take your pick. They’ll be big on you, but the pants have a drawstring.”

“Bathroom?”

“Down the hall, second on the left.”

“Thanks.”

Entering the bathroom and flicking on the light, Willow’s eyes widened at the sight of his shower curtain.

“And that shower curtain came with the apartment!” he yelled from the living room.

Laughing, Willow shook her head and changed quickly into the shorts. They sat low on her hips, but her shirt was long enough to maintain decency.

Walking back into the living room, Willow smirked and said, “Nice ducks.”

“I swear, it was there when I moved in.”

Humming “Rubber Duckie,” she sat back down on the couch, a little closer this time. Riley hit her playfully with a pillow, and she yelled in mock terror.

Laughing, he pulled her gently towards him, her back to his chest. Leaning her head back to rest on his neck, she sighed and reached around him to hit the play button.

As the movie progressed, their positions slowly shifted. By the time “Spectacular, Spectacular” hit the stage, Riley was laying with his head on the arm rest, and Willow was lying on her side, her head resting on his chest. They had pulled the blankets up, and Willow was unconsciously tracing lazy circles on the palm of his hand.

When the credits rolled, Riley hit stop and looked down at the sleeping redhead in his lap. He hated to wake her, but she had already said she had to go to work the next day.

“Willow,” he murmured, shaking her gently. “Willow?”

She groaned and stretched, opening her eyes. Looking up at him, she laughed sheepishly and said, “Think I got too comfortable.”

“Come on, I’ll bring you home.”

Standing up and stretching again, she looked down and said, “I’d better change.”

“You can wear those home if you want. I don’t mind.”

“You’re sure?”

“I’ll get them back later.”

They walked out to his Jeep, and he held the door open for her.

Still groggy from the short nap, Willow rested her head against his shoulder for the short drive.

Parking behind the building, he helped her out of the car and walked her to the front door of the complex.

“Thank you for spending time with me, Willow. I had such a good time.”

“I did, too. Thank you for getting me out of my apartment.”

“So, I’ll call you tomorrow after you get off work?”

“Okay. I’ll see you later.”

She reached out to hug him again, and he squeezed her for a long while before leaning down and kissing her softly.

Pulling back, he watched her open her eyes slowly, and smile up at him.

“See you tomorrow,” he said softly.

“Bye,” she murmured, disappearing into her apartment building.


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Welcome Back

Author: Venus Blue
Written: 2002
Summary: Giles is back. Buffy has a lot of questions. (Follow up to "Worn and Faded")
Rating: NC-17 (Yes, you read that right)
Pairing: Oh, come on! :)
Distribution: Eventually it will end up at my site, The Bunny Warren, but for now it will probably only end up at FF.net. If you'd like my insane ramblings, please ask, and let me know where it will be going off to, so I can send cookies.
Dedication: This is for Ally, my darling ASH Bunny. Happy Birthday, dearest. Hope I can get this to you on the date of your birthday, stupid computer non-withstanding.
Spoilers: None, really. If you've seen up to Hell's Belles, I think you're safe.
Author's Note: This was not supposed to be this long. Apparently Buffy and Giles have possessed my muse and decided to take over. I tried to take a break, and "Every Breath You Take" came on the radio. My goodness, the pressure! I do not have a beta, nor the patience for a beta (I write my stories all last-minute and want to get them out as quickly as possible, because I'm impatient), so if there are mistakes, mis apologies.
Disclaimer: Yes, Joss, you are god of all, I am but an insignificant piece of lint on your sweater, who can only hope that one day you will let the fans take over and play with the characters the way we want. In other words, Joss, Marti, and the entire Mutant Enemy crew are completely responsible for all characters and sets used in this story. Only the plot bunny belongs to me.

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"Dawn, we are not having this discussion again. I said no."

"You did it when you were my age!"

"That was different!"

"You always SAY that!"

"Dawn, I-"

The argument was cut short by a knock at the Summers' front door. Sighing deeply, Buffy turned from her sister and walked to the door.

"You're not dying your hair, Dawn. Period."

"But-"

"End of discussion."

Ignoring the mumbled comments that came from her sister's direction, Buffy glanced through the window and froze.

Slowly opening the door, she gaped in shock at the person standing at her doorstep.

"Hello, Buffy," Giles said with a weak smile.


*********************


Dawn had left for Janice's house. Willow had gone out with Tara. After the hugs and tears, all that was left was Buffy and Giles. They sat quietly in her kitchen, sipping tea.

They made small talk, but there were questions nagging at the back of Buffy's mind that she was afraid to ask.

Then came the part Giles had been dreading. The long awkward pauses. He and Buffy had never suffered from those, and on the plane ride over, Giles had feared that the large gap of time since they'd last seen each other would bring them on.

"Buffy-"

Her head popped up hopefully, but Giles couldn't find the words to finish his sentence.

"This is very good tea."

"Giles, why haven't you called? Or written?"

Taken aback, he only stared at her.

"You promised," she said, her voice growing more desperate. "You told us when you left that you would call. That you would keep in touch. And nothing. You didn't call for Xander and Anya's wedding, you didn't-"

"Didn't Willow tell you?"

"Tell me what?"

"Buffy, I supplied the flowers for their wedding. Seems rather a moot point now, after-"

"N-no. No, she didn't tell me that."

Another awkward silence.

"What else? What else is bothering you?"

"Giles...it was the first birthday in five years without you."

Breathing deeply, Giles stared into his mug.

"I know it's...petty. And it may not seem important to you, but...Giles, you mean so much to me, and not having you there for my birthday hurt more than you'll ever know. Not a card, or a call...I waited. Even amidst all the...craziness that was my 21st birthday, I kept hoping the phone would ring."

"Oh, Buffy...I didn't mean to not call you, but things were going on, and-"

"No, I know. You have a brand new life now. One that I'm not a part of. And I have to deal with that, and move on. It's just-"

"You will always be a part of my life. Buffy, it doesn't matter how far away I am, I never stop thinking about you. But on your birthday...well, it's complicated."

"How complicated? Giles, ever since...ever since we..."

Her words faltered, and it was her turn to stare into her mug. Giles glanced up, wishing for her to continue. They'd never had the chance to discuss what had happened before he left for England, and he wanted desperately to see if there was a chance...any chance that she might still have those feelings.

Rising from the table, Buffy walked to the kitchen window, staring out at some distant point. In a voice that was barely more than a whisper, she said, "I've been sleeping with Spike."

For a moment, Giles was speechless. He had no idea what to say. It was obvious this revelation had been terribly difficult for her, and he didn't want to scare her by scolding her for it.

"And?" he said, his voice strained.

"Not anymore. I told him it was over. I was only using him, you know. I never loved him. I knew it was wrong, but I couldn't stop. I just needed to feel something. Anything."

She turned from the window then, and Giles gasped as a ray of sunlight reflected off her now much shorter hair. She looked like an angel.

His beautiful angel.

"I wanted to feel what I felt with you. The day you left."

Rising from his chair, he walked to her and enveloped her in his arms. It wasn't anything more than a comforting embrace, but he felt Buffy's arms clasp urgently around him, hugging him as tightly as she could without hurting him.

"Oh, Buffy," he sighed, burying his face in her soft hair as she cried quietly into his shirt.

Raising her face with his hand, he looked into her eyes and said, "You know I would never judge you, right?"

Her face crumpled, and fresh tears appeared in her eyes. "I know," she whispered.

Lowering his head, he gently touched his lips to hers, caressing her cheek with his hand. She raised one hand to lay it over his, and deepened the kiss, pulling him tightly to her. The tears didn't stop.

When they both finally pulled apart for air, they were both flushed, their lips red and kiss-swollen. Giles smiled sheepishly and said, "Perhaps I should go to a hotel for the night."

"No!" she said with emphasis. "I mean, it's nothing for you to stay here, Giles, you know that."

"I think we both know what will happen if I stay here, Buffy, and I don't want to take advantage of you. You appear to be in a quite extreme state."

"Then we won't let anything happen," she pleaded. "Please. Just stay with me?"

Sighing, he rested his forehead against hers. He couldn’t deny her anything.

"Yes."


*********************


Willow came home around 9 that evening. Giles and Buffy sat on the couch, talking.

"Hey, Buffy. Hey, Giles."

"Hey, Willow," Buffy called. "Are you hungry? We have pizza."

"Giles? You ate pizza?"

"Yes, marvel at the thought."

"Amazing," she said, helping herself to a slice. "I'll take this up to my room. I'm beat."

"How'd things go with Tara?"

"It was wonderful. We had coffee, and went to see a movie, then just sat and talked. It was just like before. Only...not."

Smiling, Buffy nodded.

"Goodnight, Will."

"Night, Buffy. Night, Giles. See you in the morning."

And with that she headed up for her room. Giles watched her go, and then turned to Buffy.

"She's really quite remarkable. She's come a long way."

"And she's still fighting. I'm so proud of her."

"Yes. You all seem to be doing well. Well, except for..."

"Xander," Buffy said, finishing his sentence.

"Yes. I can't understand what that boy was thinking."

"He got freaked. I just hope he and Anya can work it out. I know they're both hurting pretty badly."

"Yes, I imagine so. Leaving the one you love is...difficult, to say the least."

Smiling at him, she rested her head on his shoulder, her feet curled up beneath her.

"And being left is even worse. Even if they think they're leaving with noble intentions."

"I'm sure he was just afraid staying would hurt her more in the end."

"But don't you think she should have been involved? I think if there would be consequences, at least let her be around to face them, instead of just taking them away."

"Buffy?"

"Yes, Giles?"

"Are we talking about Xander and Anya anymore?"

"I wasn't."

"No, I didn't think we were."

Sliding an arm around her waist, he said, "You should get some rest."

"I should patrol first. Want to come?"

By nature, Giles did not have a naughty mind. He did not read innuendo into every sentence as though he were a flippant teenager. But the latter part of that sentence made him smirk, and he fought to hide it with a cough.

Looking up, Buffy wondered what he found so funny, then thought back to her sentence. Blushing bright red, she slapped him lightly on the arm and said, "Giles!"

"Sorry!"

"God! And here I thought you’d come back from England even stuffier then when we first met!"

"I believe this is the part where I get offended," he said, smirking and grabbing her sides, tickling her until she was on her back, shrieking and only partly fighting him off.

He ended up on top of her, with his face mere inches from her.

Smiling, she said, "This is like a scene from a really bad movie."

"Agreed. And on that note..."

"I’ll get the sheets to make up the couch."

Walking to the hall closet, Buffy grabbed the necessary bedclothes. Walking back into the living room, she said, "You know...I’m 21 years old."

"Yes, I am aware."

"It wouldn’t be improper for you to sleep in the same bed as me."

A frown took over his handsome features, and he said, "I think we both know that would be highly inappropriate."

"But the couch is so lumpy, and I’m sure my bed is-"

"Perfectly fine for you, perhaps. I’ll be staying on the couch."

Nodding a bit sadly, she proceeded to make up the couch. Giles lightly took one of her wrists in his hand, and pulled her gently to him.

"Buffy, I want you to understand something. I want nothing more than to spend the entire night with my arms wrapped around you. I’ve not thought of much else before going to sleep in the past few months. But I think we both need time to heal before we can rush into something we’re both entirely not prepared for."

Nodding solemnly, she said, "I know. You’re right. It’s just...you’re finally back in my life, and I want...I just don’t want you to leave again."

"I won’t make promises I can’t keep. But I will tell you this. At this moment, leaving Sunnydale is the furthest thought from my mind."

Smiling happily, Buffy stood on tiptoe to plant a chaste kiss on his lips.

"Then I guess I’d better make your `bed´."


*********************


Giles did not make any promises to Buffy. But he also set up residence in the Summers´ home. He never complained about the lumpy couch, and once again integrated himself into the research portion of the Scooby Gang, something that everyone was desperately grateful for.

Anya’s reaction to seeing him back was, as usual, mixed, but when he assured her he had no desire to take the Magic Box from her, she welcomed him with open arms. She offered him the position of salesgirl at the store, which he tactfully declined.

Wayward glances and stolen kisses were all Buffy and Giles would allow themselves, and it was eating both of them up. Someone had passed the word on to Spike that the Watcher was back in town, and for weeks he avoided Buffy like holy water. But she knew it was too good to be true. One night, on a routine patrol, she met up with him.

"So, Papa Watcher’s back in town, eh?"

"Spike. Why are you here?" Buffy asked, nothing but coldness in her tone.

"Just wanted to see what my little Goldilocks is up to."

"DON´T call me that. I’m not your anything. And I’m patrolling, what does it look like I’m doing?"

"Ooh, nasty tone from such a lil´ girl. Now that you’ve got Mr. Crumpets back in town, you think you’re back in shape, I see. Doesn’t work that way."

"Well, whatever way it works, it doesn’t with you in the picture."

"Fancy talk."

"Which you’ve heard a hundred times, yet it hasn’t gotten through yet. Peroxide finally fried your brain?"

Running a hand through his hair, Spike growled at her, and lunged. Grabbing her by the arms, he pulled her to him until their noses touched.

"What, you’re too good for me now that ol´ Rupes is back in town? Bet he doesn’t even know what his golden girl’s been up to. What would he think if he knew? Bet it would shock him straight out of his tweed knickers. He wouldn’t-"

Suddenly Spike was jerked away from her, and thrown a good foot. Giles was on him in a heartbeat, pulling him up and slamming his fist into his face, then into his ribs. Spike doubled over on the ground, glaring up at his attacker.

"For the record," he said, slamming a foot into the vampire’s already bruised ribs, "I do know. And unlike you, I don’t believe I’ll judge Buffy for her every action. You, however..."

Grabbing a handful of hair, Giles dragged Spike to his feet and flung him against a mausoleum.

"Stay away from her. If I hear you’ve come so much as a foot towards her, you’ll live up to the name William the Bloody."

The indignant glare never left Spike’s face, but his eyes shone with fear. He knew the look on Giles´ face, and he wasn’t about to test him.

"You have done NOTHING but torment and manipulate her since this whole charade started. It ends now. She’s told you to stay away, yet you don’t seem to get the message. Let’s make this clear. You aren’t to touch her in any way. You’ve done enough damage."

Wiping the blood from his lip, Spike chuckled.

"You’re one to talk, Rupert. You left her. YOU hurt her. Someone had to pick up the-"

Again he was silenced. Only this time it wasn’t a fist. It was a knee. And not only did it silence him, it brought him to the ground, curled into a fetal position.

"You’ve done enough. No one’s going to hurt her again."

Leaving Spike where he lay, he gently took Buffy’s elbow and said, "Shall we continue with patrol?"

"I think I’m ready to go home."


*********************


That was the first night Giles slept in Buffy’s bed. Both were clothed in pajamas. Other than caresses and kisses, it was nothing more than cuddles. But it was the happiest both had been in a long while.

The next morning, Giles quietly left the bed and went into the hallway, where Willow was exiting her bedroom.

"Giles? What...oh...oh!"

"Willow, be quiet, Buffy’s still sleeping."

"You two...you...Buffy..."

"We did nothing more than sleep last night, Willow. Nothing more."

"But you want to."

Giles tried to look innocent, but Willow said, "Not all of us are as blind as Xander, Giles. We do notice these things."

"You mean...?"

"I mean Dawn, Tara and I know. No one else. And we’re happy! We keep rooting you guys on, and you’re fighting your cheerleaders!"

"Dawn’s alright with this?!"

"Well, she was a little creeped out at first, what with you being the `male role model´ and all that, but after she thought about it, she’s totally cool with it."

They headed downstairs, where Giles was still trying to process all this new information.

"Just go for it, Giles. We both know Buffy is ready for this. And she’s a big girl. You of all people should know better than to underestimate her."

Still saying nothing, Giles set about making breakfast for everyone. As he cracked eggs into a bowl, he said, "I’ve no idea how to go about this. I haven’t...it’s been a long time since I was in this position."

"I realize that, Giles. And we’ve come up with a plan."

"`We? ´" he said, not liking the sound of it.

"Yes. Tara, Dawn and I are going to the movies tonight. Then we’re going to have a slumber party at Tara’s. You and Buffy, all alone, big house...I’m sure you can think of something to keep you amused."

The egg Giles was cracking slid into the bowl, shattering at the bottom.


*************************


Buffy saw through Willow’s "plans" for the evening immediately. But she happily agreed to it. Then proceeded to bemoan what she would wear for the night.

Willow and Dawn sat on Buffy’s bed, giggling quietly to themselves as she went through her closet.

"I mean, it’s GILES. I can’t just walk in there in my cutest little short skirt with pumps and say, `Take me now! ´"

She hesitated a second, then turned to them.

"Can I?"

"Buffy, it’s Giles," Willow said, trying to soothe her. "You could wear ratty ol´ sweats, and he wouldn’t care."

"I know...but it’s GILES!" she whined. "I thought I got past this stage when I was 16."

"HEY! I resemble that remark!" Dawn said indignantly. Willow and Buffy snickered behind their hands, and Dawn cried, "What? What?"

"Buffy, you never get past this stage. It’s all a part of the fun watcher/slayer naughty relationship."

"Okay, no naughtiness in front of these virgin ears!" Dawn shrieked, running from the room.

Willow stood up and walked over to Buffy, hugging her tightly.

"I’m so happy for you. Really happy it’s finally happening. Now, I’m going to go get ready and see if I can de-traumatize Dawn. I’m sure whatever you pick will be fine."

Buffy groaned, and Willow smiled, leaving the room.


*********************


Willow had given Giles her room to get ready in, seeing as how it wouldn’t be exactly fitting for him to get dressed in the living room. After completely dissecting his suitcase, he decided on a pair of grey trousers and a grey pullover. Glancing in the mirror, he found he looked extremely dull.

Frowning, he started to change when he heard Willow call, "Bye, Buffy! Bye, Giles! We’ll be back sometime around noon tomorrow!"

This was promptly followed by the door being slammed, and then absolute silence, only marred by the pounding of his heart.

Tentatively he exited the room and knocked quietly on Buffy’s door. She took what felt like years to open the door, and when she finally did, Giles took in a deep breath.

She was dressed simply, in a deep red peasant top and a black skirt. Her makeup was very light, and her hair was up in a makeshift bun. It was the most dressed up she'd been since coming back, and she felt a little awkward. The look in Giles' eyes made her feel more at ease.

"You...like?"

"Oh, yes. You look breathtaking. Shall we go to dinner?"

"Certainly."

She linked arms with him, and they headed downstairs.

"Where are we going?"

He led her into the kitchen, where candles were lit and the table was set.

"Oh...Giles! How did you...?"

"You have your roommates to thank for this, I'm afraid. Shall we sit?"

Still in awe, she let him pull out her chair for her, and sat down as he tucked the chair in around her. Willow had run to a restaurant and ordered the shrimp scampi from them, but neither of them knew that.

They made small talk as they ate, and sipped wine. Buffy only had one glass, even though her nerves were begging her to have more. She didn't want to get sick and ruin the moment. Giles stopped after 2.

When they were finished, Giles cleared the plates and they went into the living room for tea.

"Buffy-"

"Giles-"

They both laughed and thought back to their first meeting, smiling ruefully at the memory.

"Giles, are you having second thoughts?"

"No! No, not at all! I just...I want to make sure you're okay with this."

Smiling gently, she leaned forward and kissed him, wrapping her arms around his neck and playing with the hair on the back of his neck.

Sighing into her mouth, Giles wrapped his arms around her waist, pulling her into his lap.

"Buffy, you are so beautiful," he said, pulling away from her and burying his head in the crook of her neck.

"Let's go upstairs, Giles," she said, her voice thick with emotion.

Letting her up, Giles stood up and tried to discreetly adjust himself. Smiling, Buffy took his hand and led him upstairs to her room. Kissing him passionately, she pressed her body to his, her kisses becoming more and more desperate.

"Wait...wait..." Giles managed, gently pulling her back. He saw her confused expression and said, "Buffy, you may be 21, but I'm not. You have to give me a moment."

Laughing, Buffy sat casually on the bed, sliding off her shoes and curling her feet up underneath her. Slowly Giles removed his sweater, and sat next to her. Gently running her fingers through the grey hair on his chest, she leaned forward and kissed his neck lightly, then moving up to gently suckle on his ear lobe.

Groaning, he put his hands in her hair and raised her face to his, kissing her and leaning her gently back onto the pillows. Running his hands up and down her side, he slowly kissed her face, going from one side to the other, not missing an inch. Sighing, Buffy laid out on her back, pulling him over her and raising her hips up to meet his.

Moving his hands down to her waistband, he gently slid her skirt off, tossing it lightly to the side of the bed. As he gently ran his fingertips up and down her inner thighs, she nipped at his collarbone, trying to get him to speed up. Chuckling, he moved his hand to her cheek and said, "Patience, luv."

Leaning forward, she took one of his nipples into her mouth, licking and sucking until Giles groaned. He reached down and cupped her through her lace panties, and she moaned, bucking her hips into his hand.

Pulling her blouse slowly over her head, he kissed and licked her cleavage without removing her bra, slowly moving down her body. So slowly that Buffy buried her hands into his hair and pulled gently. When he looked up, she was nearly glaring at him in frustration.

"Giles. Quit. Teasing."

He smiled lasciviously at her, and lowered himself more, pulling off her panties and delving his tongue into her warm heat. Gasping, she cried out his name, her hips gyrating and shoving his face even closer to her center.

He lapped at her hungrily, his fingers digging into her skin as he pulled her more tightly to him. Buffy was nearly screaming with pleasure, and she could feel the familiar tension building up inside of her.

As her climax washed over her, she cried out his name, her entire body convulsing in pleasure.

Sliding back up the length of her body, he smiled at her and kissed her tenderly on the forehead.

Breathing deeply, she slid her hands underneath her body and undid the final piece of clothing.

"Okay. I'm naked. You're not. This isn't fair."

Smiling gently at her, he unzipped his trousers and pulled them off agonizingly slowly. Buffy turned on her side, her body still trembling, and watched impatiently.

After the trousers finally came off, she gave up, pushing him gently onto his back and pulling his boxers slowly yet affectively off. Giles flushed slightly at her gaze.

Realizing she needed to reassure him, she moved back up to his face, cradling it in her hands, and said, "Wow, have you been keeping secrets from me."

Laughing, he pulled her to him, pressing her body into his, and kissing her with all the energy he could muster. Sliding one hand between their bodies, she encircled his penis, gently caressing it. He groaned playfully and said, "Now, stop that."

She giggled, then covered her mouth, realizing she sounded childish, but couldn't help it. Reaching to the side of the bed for his trousers, he pulled the condom that he'd placed in his pocket out and looked at her.

"Would you like to...?"

Taking it from him, she removed it from the package and slowly rolled it onto his erect penis. Her hands were like silk, and he had to fight to keep his concentration. Pushing her once more back onto the pillows, he moved over her body, kissing her and gently massaging her breasts, letting his thumbs roll over her already swollen nipples.

"Now. Oh god, Rupert, I need you in me now."

Hearing her call out his name sent waves of sensations coursing through him and he used one knee to push her legs apart before slowly entering her. They both moaned in pleasure, and he sat for a moment, letting them both get used to the feeling.

When she couldn't take it anymore, she began rotating her hips, and they started a steady rhythm. Buffy threw her head back, her short nails digging into his muscular back. With his arms rested on either side of her head, he kissed and licked her neck, nibbling slightly at the hollow of her neck.

He could feel himself about to let go, so he ran his hands down her slick stomach, massaging her clit until he felt her tighten around him, her inner walls convulsing around him and his name being screamed from her lips. It was all too much, and he finally let go, crying her name and resting his head beside hers, whispering softly in her ear.

He waited as long as he could manage before pulling out of her. He removed the condom, tied it off, and threw it in her trashcan before pulling the comforter over both of them. Snuggling into his chest, she gently ran her fingers through his chest hair, sighing contentedly.

"Giles, you know I love you, right?"

He couldn't fight the enormous smile that crossed his lips.

"And I love you. This was..."

"Amazing?"

"Understatement."

Kissing her gently, he whispered, "Every breath you take..."

Nuzzling his neck, she said, "I'll always watch you, Giles."

Just as he was starting to slip into sleep, he heard her say, "Giles?"

"Mm?"

"So what WAS so important you missed my birthday?"


The End


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With Sugar on Top

Author: Venus Blue
Written: April 22, 2005
Rating: G
Warning: Real Person Fiction
Summary: James needs Amber's help.
Timeline: After the ending of AtS and the breakup of Ghost of the Robot
Disclaimer: I have never met James Marsters or Amber Benson. I have met Adam Busch, but I forgot to ask his permission to use his name in a work of fiction. Needless to say, I love all of them and I apologize for using their names in vain.
Distribution: None. This is a Bunny Warren exclusive.
Author's Note: Written for Alley for the livejournal meme wherein people pick icons and I write drabble/fic based on them. This fic is based on an icon from the movie Chance, wherin James Marsters is bouncing up and down on a bed, with Amber Benson in the corner.

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"Please? Pretty please? Please please please please please?"

"You're really pathetic when you beg, James."

Kneeling on the bed, James put his head in his hands and said, "Come on, Amber, you've got to help me. I'm desparate here."

Crossing her arms and fighting to hide her smirk, Amber said, "As proven by the knee marks in my carpet."

"Come on! It's not like I'm asking all that much, I just need a little help! And you owe me!"

"I don't see why you're even asking me, it's not like I make *any* decisions in this sort of thing. I'm just the groupie."

"Girlfriend! Girlfriend of the band holds the power of god!"

"God, this is so sad," she said, wonder tingeing her voice.

"Come on," he said, giving the last syllable his patent Spike growl (tm, or so he claims he has the papers for). "You know how bad it is! With the band gone, and no decent jobs coming in, I don't have anything to do. I'm going crazy!"

"Does that explain why you signed on to be on The Mountain?" she asked innocently, taking a sip of water from the glass on her bedside table.

"Look, the script was good on paper!" he exclaimed, pointing his finger at her.

"So, if I buy you a pair of reading glasses, can we call it even?"

"Does Adam know why you owe me a favor?"

She blushed scarlet, and said, "No, and if you tell him, I will do things to you that will make your hair be white permanently."

"So will you? Please? Please please please?" he said, rocking back and forth on his knees.

"I really don't-"

"Aaaaaaaaaaaaaambsssss...." he whined, twisting around and falling onto her lap, staring up at her pleadingly. "Pleeeease. Come on! It's not like it'll kill you. Pretty please? With sugar and gumdrops and sprinkles and those gross swedish fish you like on top?"

"Fine," she sighed, pushing his head out of her lap and putting a pillow in his place. "I'll ask Adam if you can join the band."

"WOO HOO!" he shrieked, jumping up and bouncing up and down on his knees on the mattress. Slouching, Amber allowed herself to be bounced, shaking her head and wondering if Adam would ever forgive her.

[The End]


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Worn and Faded

Author: Venus Blue
Written: January 30, 2002
Summary: The final conversation between Buffy and Giles before he left in "Tabula Rasa."
Pairing: Buffy/Giles
Rating: PG-13
Spoilers: Giles left. You know that, right? There you go
Feedback: Valued more than chocolate.
Disclaimer: Fox and the lovely Joss Whedon own all characters. But they are dorks for not letting them play more. Sting and company own the lyrics to this FABULOUS song, but I think ASH sings it better.
Dedication: To Ally, for introduing me to GilesNaughty, and to Da Wench, for being my favorite B/G writer. Especially for the naughty stuff. ;)
AN: I was downloading some ASH songs, and when I heard this, this fic just popped in my head. I hope it goes as well on paper as it does in my head. "//" indicates song lyrics.
Awards: View, View 2nd Award, , View 3rd Award

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"Buffy, I'm sorry, but I can't-"

"Can't what? Giles, please...you can't leave me. I can't handle things without you. If you're not here..."

"It will get easier, I promise. You just have to get your bearing. And you can't do that while I'm here."

"Yes, I can! I will! Give me another chance! You can't just expect me to...to...to quit cold turkey!"

Giles almost smiled at this, but quickly regained his composure. They'd been having this discussion for the past hour, and he only had a couple of hours until his plane departed. Looking at the tear-smudged face of the girl he adored more than life itself, he tried again.

"Buffy, you know I care about you very deeply, which is why I must do this. I'm only a phone call-"

"And a plane ride, and a REALLY expensive plane ticket away," she said, cutting him off and standing up. "Giles, I..."

She faltered. She wanted desparately to tell him. Tell him how much she needed him. How much she loved him. With all her heart and soul. How he was the only one she wanted in her life, the only one in her heart. But she couldn't.

She walked away from him, slowly pacing around the room, stopping by his packed bags. His guitar case leaned against the wall, worn and faded from years of use, but still in good condition. It suited him.

She stood staring at it so long, Giles began to get nervous. He stood up quietly and walked to her, silently placing a hand on her shoulder. A bolt of electricity ran through both of them, and shook them to the core. Quickly removing his hand, he turned his head and said, "I really need to get going," his voice choked with emotion.

Fighting back the sobs, she said, "Before you leave..."

Taking a deep breath, he managed to murmur, "Hmm?"

"Play me a song?"

Spinning around, genuinely surprised, he said, "Pardon?"

Shyly, she walked up to him and said, "I've only heard you sing once...and then I really wasn't paying attention. I want to hear you sing."

"Buffy, I really..."

"Please?" she said, almost pleading.

Sighing deeply, he picked up the guitar case, and brought it over to his chair. Buffy sat across from him, watching his every move as he lovingly removed the acoustic guitar from the case, holding it like a mother holds a child.

'I can't believe I'm jealous of a guitar,' she thought to herself. The thought made her want to laugh and cry at the same time. Instead, she turned her attention back to those hands, strong hands that now lovingly tuned the instrument.

He plucked a few strings, trying to think of an appropriate song. Looking across at the blonde goddess across from him, he nearly slapped himself.

'Of course. What else WOULD I play?'

The first few chords brought a look of happy surprise to Buffy's face, as well as tears to her eyes. She knew the song all too well.

//Every breath you take, every move you make
Every bond you break, every step you take
I'll be watching you.//

//Every single day, every word you say.
Every game you play, every night you stay
I'll be watching you.//

He closed his eyes as he sang, pouring all the emotions he felt into the words. He couldn't look at her. Looking at her would invoke the tears that rested just behind his eyelids. He didn't know if she could tell what he was trying to convey, and he was afraid of what her reaction would be if she did.

// Oh can't you see you belong to me
How my poor heart aches, with every step you take //

// Every move you make, every vow you break
Every smile you fake, claim you stake
I'll be watching you. //

Tears were pouring freely from Buffy's eyes. She wished with all her heart that Giles thought of her as more than a daughter. She was a woman, a grown woman, and she wanted nothing more than for him to take her in those strong arms, touch her with those amazing hands, tell her he loved her. That he would watch over her for the rest of their lives. Her eyes never left his face, except to occasionally watch those hands.

// Since you've gone I've been lost without a trace
I dream at night I can only see your face
I look around but it's you I can't replace
I feel so cold and I long for your embrace
I keep crying baby baby please //

He managed to take a deep breath between each set of lyrics. He could feel the tears welling up in his throat, and he didn't want her to know. She might take it as evidence that he really DID want to stay. That he wanted to be with her, forever. No one had ever made him feel as whole as Buffy did. Not Jenny, not his one night of lust with Joyce, and certainly not Olivia. They were all just substitutes. Poor substitutes for the girl who had stolen his heart from the first moment she'd walked through his library doors.

// Oh can't you see You belong to me
How my poor heart aches, with every step you take //

//Every move you make, every vow you break
Every smile you fake, claim you stake
I'll be watching you.//

Every smile you fake. Buffy thought she heard a note of...something...in that line. Giles knew she wasn't really happy. He knew she couldn't be happy, as long as she was alive. She didn't know how to tell him. Tell him that he was the only one who could possibly ever make her FEEL alive. Angel couldn't anymore. Riley never had. And if Spike touched her one more time, he would be Hoover food. She wanted Giles. Only Giles. And until she was safe in her arms, every smile would be faked.

// Every move you make, every step you take
I'll be watching you. //

// I'll be watching you
I'll be watching you
I'll be watching you
I'll be watching you //

With a final strum of of the strings, he ceased singing. He continued to look down at the guitar, the tears he'd been fighting finally flowing down his face. He couldn't look at her. Couldn't see her pain.

Buffy moved forward finally, kneeling in front of Giles and slowly moving the treasured guitar to the side.

"Giles. Giles, look at me."

He refused, and she set one soft hand to the side of his face and whispered, "Rupert. Please." When he finally did, he saw her looking at him pleadingly, her eyes full of tears and red from crying. He leaned forward and pressed a gentle kiss to her forehead. He held his lips against her soft, warm flesh, his hands slipping into her hair.

She looked up at him, and slowly pressed her lips to his own. At first he resisted, then finally gave in, caressing her lips with his own, using teeth and tongue to massage hers.

Moaning softly, tears ceased, she wrapped her arms around his neck, pulling herself up so that she was leaning into his lap. The kisses became more heated, more passionate, and when they finally came up for air, their eyes were sparkling with more than tears.

"Buffy-"

"Giles-"

They both laughed nervously, and he took her hand in his, gently kissing the palm. She smiled sadly, and said, "You're still going to leave me, aren't you?"

"I have to. I'm so sorry, Buffy..."

Silencing him with a chaste kiss on the lips, she said, "I don't want you to go. But if it's what you feel you have to do..."

She felt the tears start anew, and she stood up quickly, wiping furiously at her eyes.

"I have to go. Patrol and all."

As she reached the door, she heard him say in not much more than a whisper, "Every breath you take..."

She turned her head, and nodding slightly, she said, "I know."

And with that, she was gone.

~~~~~~~~~~
Buffy: When I kissed you, you know I was thinking about Giles, right?
Spike: You know, I always wondered about you two.
-Tabula Rasa
~~~~~~~~~~~~

Shades of Grey


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