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SPOILER WARNING: The whole first season esp. Prophecy Girl, Season two as it progresses. No Surprise, Innocence, or Passion allowed. Angel, not Angelus. No Jennie Calendar offage.
RATING: R - (Buffy/Giles)
DISCLAIMER: Everything Buffy belongs to Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and Warner Brothers. I'm borrowing them for some illicit fun that they'll never have on the show, and then returning them with out a scratch, with their memories wiped clean. Now, who could object to that?
SUMMARY: Sequel to the events in Abyss I and II. You can read this one without reading those, but why deny yourself the fun? Anyway, getting back to the summary - Buffy and Giles continue to find their way, but what will Xander do?
FEEDBACK IS WELCOME AND APPRECIATED!
"This place is really dead tonight," Buffy commented, smiling at Giles' heartfelt groan over her horrible pun. They were sitting in the cemetery - had been there for almost two hours, in fact - waiting for the dead to rise. She just hoped they would show before Letterman started, as John Cusack was a scheduled guest. She glanced over at Giles' handsome face and smiled to herself - [I may have a honey, but that doesn't mean I can't appreciate a good Cusack moment...
Giles shifted uncomfortably on top of the headstone he'd appropriated as a chair. "I saw nothing while you were patrolling," he agreed, "but it's better-"
"To be safe than sorry," she chimed in, grinning as he frowned at her. "I know, and I'm not complaining, but I could think of a million other things I'd rather be doing tonight than this." [Like, A) watching John, and B) jumping your bones, preferably in that order...] For a moment, she idly considered the possibility that she was becoming a nympho, then discarded the idea. [Nah. It's just Giles that does it to me.]
Giles coughed as his eyebrows flew upward. "Oh? Like what?"
Buffy laughed at the flush that arose in his cheeks. [So you think you know what I'm thinking, do you? Well, that *is* what I'm thinking, but I'm not gonna tell *you* that's what I'm thinking.] "Yes, *oh*. Like watching Oz's band at the Bronze, for instance. They're supposed to debut a new song tonight - Oz wrote it in honor of Willow. She's gonna go *so* nonverbal." She grinned happily at the thought of her friend's probable reaction.
Giles regarded her with some surprise. "Why didn't you tell me, Buffy? I would have been happy to-"
"It's not your job, Giles," Buffy reminded him, giving him a lopsided grin. "Me Slay, You Watch...Me Slay - remember?" [I won't ever let you put yourself in danger for me again...]
The very idea scared her bloodless.
Giles stood up and walked over next to the low stone wall upon which she sat. He placed a hand on her shoulder, warming her through the thin material of her jacket. "That doesn't mean that you can't take an occasional night off with your friends for a special occasion. You *are* the person, are you not, who lectured me on the advisability of actually *having* a life?" His lip quirked with ironic humor, as if to say, [and thank you very much for providing me with one...]
"I know, I know," she replied, directing him to the spot next to her with the tip of her stake. "But it's more of an Oz'n'Will moment than an Oz'n'Will'n'Buffy moment. She'll give me the blow by blow tomorrow, anyway, every Ozzy second of it. And Oz promised me a tape of the song."
"Xander and Cordelia aren't attending?" he inquired as he dusted off the stones and sat down next to her.
She frowned and shrugged. "You got me. Xander and Cordy have suddenly taken up residence in the Twilight Zone. I have no idea what's going on with either of them, and until someone fesses up, I really don't want to spend an evening watching them stare at me like I've grown a third eye or something."
"How odd," he commented, though his tone clearly indicated that he felt strange behavior was par for the course for those two. "But, Buffy, you must promise to tell me if you feel you need to take an evening off. There are always ways to work something out - especially when things are slow, as they have been lately."
"Yeah...why is that?" she wondered aloud, leaning against the solid bulk of his chest. He wrapped an arm around her shoulders. "Is the Hellmouth the 'out' neighborhood for the undead this month?"
A small furrow marred his brow. "I'm not sure," he admitted. "Certain signs would seem to indicate that the lull in vampiric activity is a natural occurrence...but something about it frankly bothers me." His arm tightened around her.
[Oy...*Not* good....] "You'll figure it out," she assured him, snuggling closer. "No job is too big for the Bookman."
He smiled, dropping a kiss on top of her head, and they returned to scanning the twilight for creatures of the night.
Cordelia and Xander walked a few paces behind Oz and Willow, who were managing a complicated three-legged progression down the cement sidewalk, their arms wrapped around one another.
"It was a cool song, wasn't it?" Cordelia commented, her tone slightly tinged with envy as she observed Oz and Willow's obvious closeness.
"Yeah," Xander admitted reluctantly. "I guess it didn't oversuck. Will really seems to like him, in spite of the
Cordelia rolled her eyes and nudged him with one shoulder. "Listen to you! Tell me, would *anyone* be good enough for Buffy or Willow in your reality? You sound like my *Dad* when he talks about *you*!"
Xander jammed his hands into his jacket pockets and hunched his shoulders. "Well, *sorry*! I happen to think they can do better, all right? Will deserves someone who doesn't need a flea dip once a month, and Buffy deserves someone who wasn't ringside for the amazing invention of the wheel!"
Cordelia grabbed Xander's hand and jerked him to a halt. Willow and Oz continued onward, oblivious, as blazing hazel eyes met his and narrowed angrily. "Look, Xander, what happens to Oz is *not* his fault, and if Willow can deal, it's really none of your business. And getting in the way of the Watcher and the Slayer is the surest way I know to get your butt kicked clear to China. Why can't you just stay out of it?"
"Stay out of it?" he repeated incredulously. "Okay, Oz and Will I'll grant you, but Giles and Buffy? What happened to 'We have to do something!'? That was *you* who said that, wasn't it? Or was I speaking to your not-so-evil twin?"
She averted her gaze. "I just...I've been thinking, that's all. I mean, when I saw them in the library, I automatically thought - well, 'EWWW' - you know, what else? But, maybe- ...maybe it's not so strange, what they're doing. You have to admit, they aren't your normal Jerry Springer student-teacher combo."
"I know," he returned. "They're *worse*! She depends on him for *everything*, Cordy. He's got control of practically her whole life now!"
She frowned doubtfully, considering his words. "You think he's somehow forcing her to do this?"
Xander rubbed his hand through his hair, frustrated. "Yes!- ...No. Oh, I don't know. All I know is, *he's* supposed to watch, and *she's* supposed to slay, and they *aren't* supposed to have wild monkey sex in his backyard! It's-" A muted yell rent the air, and his eyes went wide. "That's *Willow*!"
Together, they turned and raced in the direction of the sound. Rounding a corner they found Oz and Willow in the midst of a battle with four very ugly vamps. Willow was holding one at bay with a squirt gun full of Holy Water, while Oz demonstrated that his feral instincts weren't entirely submerged twenty-eight days of the month by growling and swiping at his two attackers. They stared dumbly down at him, wondering just what manner of human they'd managed to waylay. The fourth vamp was edging around behind Willow, trying to catch her off guard.
"Oh, no, you don't," Xander muttered, leaping into the fray, stake in hand. The fourth vamp was vampire dust before he knew what hit him. Willow hit the bulls-eye on her own adversary, and while he clutched at his burning eyes, howling with pain, she extracted a stake from her sleeve and dispatched him neatly.
Cordelia, who eschewed stakes generally as a 'fashion- don't', had managed to brain one of Oz's attackers over the head with a handy rock. Oz tackled the other one to the ground, and the duo rolled over and over in the dust, fighting for the upper hand. Xander danced back and forth behind them, trying to inveigle a good opening through which to dart in and deliver the coup de stake, but they were moving too quickly for him to intervene.
"Here," Willow called, tossing her squirt-gun to Cordelia, who caught it and brought it up in one smooth motion, drilling her dazed opponent between the eyes. Willow took advantage of his pained confusion and staked him from behind. They both jumped back, trying to avoid the inevitable gritty fallout.
"Stake!" Oz called gruffly, as he managed to momentarily pin his opponent against the dirt. Xander obliged him, and the final unlucky vampire met his fate.
As Oz stood up and dusted himself off, Willow pulled him into a giddy hug. "We are *so* the Slaying Squad," she laughed happily. "You were great!"
Oz smiled into her eyes. "Me? You have *aim*!" They grinned goofily at one another for a moment, before turning in unison to face Cordelia and Xander. "And you guys are, like, the kings of good timing," Oz added graciously.
"Yeah," Xander muttered as he stared angrily down at the pile of vampire remains. Cordelia watched him, her expression decidedly worried.
Oz and Willow were oblivious to their upset. "Well, they probably don't have friends hanging around, but we'd better go just in case," the redhead told her boyfriend. She frowned, struck by a thought. "Do you think vampires can have friends? 'Cause they're demons, and demons aren't much for friendly..." Oz shrugged and slipped an arm around her shoulders. They set off down the street, conversing softly, once more lost in their own little world.
Xander looked up and met Cordelia's gaze, and only then did he voice the question paramount on both of their minds. His tone was low, angry and dark with betrayal.
"Where the *HELL* was Buffy?"
The school building was virtually deserted when Xander arrived at the ungodly hour of 8 o'clock on Saturday morning, ostensibly for a scheduled computer tutorial. His true mission, however, was a confrontation with Buffy, and he therefore made his way to the library, instead of Ms. Calendar's classroom.
He entered to find Buffy seated at one of the library tables, an English text and spiral notebook open before her. She appeared to be reading the book, though the sight was so incongruous Xander blinked twice to make sure he wasn't hallucinating. She was dressed in a tank top and a pair of gym shorts, dilapidated sneakers on her feet and a ponytail in her hair. She looked entirely too chipper for the early hour.
"Buffy," he greeted her, dragging around the chair across from her to straddle it.
She glanced up and grinned at him. "Hey, Xand! What brings you to the hallowed halls of learning this early in the a.m.? I thought you had a rule about sleeping in on the weekends."
"I thought you did, too," he pointed out with some asperity.
She laughed and clapped her book shut. "Nope! Ah, Xand, there are *so* many things you still don't know about the art of slayage - one of them being you are never allowed more than six hours of sleep per night. Giles scheduled weapons practice for me this morning."
His expression soured. [Yeah, I'll bet - I know *exactly* what he wants to practice...] "So where *is* our sainted librarian?"
Her gaze narrowed a bit at his truculent tone, but she merely shrugged. "Well, uh, he and Ms. Calendar had a bit of a disagreement, and he's trying to iron it out before her remedial student - meaning *you*, I suppose - shows up. It's no biggie."
"Trouble in paradise?" he wondered sarcastically.
She didn't meet his gaze. "Oh, you know," she replied airily. "Things just didn't work out, let's be friends, yadda, yadda...I don't think she's really his type."
Xander leaned forward. "And what type would *that* be?"
Her cheeks reddened slightly, but when she looked up and her eyes met his, she radiated innocent sincerity. "Well, Xander, how would *I* know? It's not exactly something they cover in the Slayer handbook, even if I did have a copy."
[She's lying - and she's doing it so well I would believe her...if I didn't know the truth.] That realization led to a rage of a degree he'd never felt before with regard to his friend, and he had to resist mightily the urge to shove her deceit in her face. But she was Buffy, one of his two best friends in all the world, and he owed it to her to give her every chance to come clean. He swallowed his anger and pasted a concerned expression across his face. "Is everything all right, Buffy?"
The abrupt change in subject made her blink. "What?" She licked her lips nervously. "Everything's fine, Xander. Everything's great, actually. Why do you ask?"
"Oh, I don't know," he muttered, leaning toward her so a possibly lurking Giles couldn't overhear. "I thought you might be bummed about losing deadboy."
Her eyebrows flew upward. "Angel? Why in the world would you think that?"
He rolled his eyes. "Um, because he was, like, the only thing on your mind for month after endless month, maybe? Geez, Buffy, you were gone on him for over a year, and suddenly the great romance is over? Why *wouldn't* I think you'd be upset."
She looked chagrined. "Oh. Well, when you put it that way..." She averted her gaze and shrugged. "Angel and I just weren't meant to be, I guess. What, am I supposed to sign up for nun school now?"
Xander clenched his teeth. "Not meant to be, huh? You mean, like Giles and Ms. Calendar." [Direct hit,] he thought, as she winced perceptibly.
But Buffy rallied quickly. "Exactly!" she exclaimed. "We all can't be paired as perfectly as you and Cordy, Xander. Some things are against all natural law."
His cheeks darkened with frustration. [You can say *that* again.] "So is that what you guys were doing last night?" he asked, trying to keep his tone nonchalant. "Sitting here in the library, Watcher/Slayer bonding over old books and lost loves?"
She eyed him strangely. "No. We were patrolling - I told you we would be. That's why I didn't show for Willow's song at the Bronze, remember? How'd that go, by the way? Was she, like, totally nonverbal?"
[She's trying to change the subject...] "It was fine," he muttered shortly, "if that's your idea of music. Me, I prefer something with a beat...and notes...and words. But enough about that, tell me about all the vamps you slayed."
She studied his face for a moment, her expression indescribable. "No vamps," she stated finally, shrugging. "No demons or werewolves, either, Ozzian or otherwise. Just another boring night wandering the streets."
He regarded her with disbelief, completed floored by her continued obfuscation. "Not one vamp," he repeated dully.
She shook her head. "Nope - we might as well have skipped patrolling all together, for all the action we've seen lately. Giles says it's like the undead are on vacation. Hasn't been a good ghost or ghoulie for days. He's actually worried about it." She leaned back in her chair, tipping it up on the two back legs. "Me, I'll just take it as it comes."
[Willow and Cordelia could have *died* last night!] Xander thought, stunned and beyond angry. [And Giles is telling her the vamps are at Disneyland?!? Just to get a little sex from his Slayer?] He glared down at her, his expression hardening. "You're *wrong*, Buffy."
She cocked her head to one side. "Wrong 'bout what?"
His lips curled. "The vamps aren't on vacation - but if you'd really been patrolling last night you would have *known* that. Four of the Hellmouth's finest ambushed us on the way home from the Bronze."
She shot up out of her chair, panic in her eyes. "What?!? Willow, Oz..." She swallowed thickly. "...Cordelia...?"
"They're fine," he spat. "No thanks to you and your Watcher. *Luckily* we weren't depending on you doing your duty to save us."
She blinked, stepping back slightly, stunned by the vitriol in his voice. Her mouth opened, then closed, as she stared at him wordlessly.
"That's *enough", Xander!" came a sharp exclamation from the doorway. "You have no *right* to speak to Buffy in that manner!"
He spun around to glare at Giles. "No *right*?!? We were almost *killed* last night, Giles!"
The older man stepped across the floor to stand behind Buffy, stopping short of sliding a protective arm around her shoulders - but Xander could tell that he wanted to do so. "Buffy is the Slayer," Giles began in a tightly controlled voice. "She is neither superhuman nor omniscient, and she is hardly to blame for the fact that vampires will attack anyone at any time. That is simply their nature, which you know very well. What were *you* doing out without protection, Xander? Buffy can hardly be held responsible for your poor judgment!" His voice rose with each successive sentence until Buffy was moved to lay a quelling hand on his arm.
"It's *okay*, Giles," she murmured soothingly, smiling reassuringly up at him. "Xander's just upset." She turned to look at Xander, and the expression of sympathetic understanding on her face nearly turned his stomach.
[I would have believed her before today,] he thought angrily. [I would have bought all her lies, hook, line, and sinker. And maybe it isn't any of my business what she and Giles do in the bedroom...or the library...or his backyard... But when she stops doing her sacred duty, people get hurt. People die...] He closed his eyes, hearing the terror of Willow's scream and seeing Cordelia's panicked face. [*They* could have been *killed*...] He opened his eyes and glared fiercely at Giles. "I thought you were supposed to *guide* her," he spat angrily, disillusionment darkening his tone. "I thought you were supposed to make sure she does what has to be done. How can you do this? How can you risk *everything*? Don't you care about *anyone* but yourself?"
A glimmer of confusion flickered on Giles' face, before Xander's implied criticism of her Watcher hit Buffy. "Don't you dare attack him, Xander!" she hissed, and it was Giles who held *her* back this time. "He's the best Watcher in the *history* of Watchers!"
Xander regarded her incredulously. "I don't believe this! He's got you totally snowed, hasn't he? Whatever he says, whatever he wants, you go along with it like he's *God* or something! Can't you see what he's doing to you, Buffy?"
Buffy glared at Xander coldly. "You don't know what the hell you're talking about. You don't even have a clue." Her shoulders were shaking with repressed rage. "I want you to leave. I want you to leave *right* *now*!"
Giles' hands gripped Buffy's trembling arms, his fingers gentle but firm. "I think that would be best, Xander," he agreed in a firm tone. It was more of an order than a request.
"I don't *care* what you think," Xander snapped back. "And this *isn't* over! Not by a longshot!" He stalked toward the door, pushing it open with so much force that it ricocheted against the outside wall with a resounding crash.
Buffy and Giles stared after him with identical dumbfounded expressions. "What-" Buffy stuttered, "-what *was* that?"
"I don't know," Giles murmured, sliding his arm around to gather her into a comforting embrace. "But I'm sure he didn't mean it, Buffy. You know how much Xander values your friendship."
She circled his back with her arms and hugged him tightly. "I've never *seen* him like that, Giles. He was looking at me like he *hated* me."
"Actually," Giles replied ruefully, "he seemed more angry at *me* than anyone. Perhaps he feels I should have been able to predict the attack last night."
Buffy looked up at him, meeting his gaze squarely. "That's nuts, Giles...and Xander knows it." She glanced over at the swinging doors. "I don't know - can guys have PMS?"
He groaned softly, stroking her hair. "Not that I'm aware of."
Buffy hugged him tighter, grinning impishly. "Well, maybe he's a little testy because he and Cordy had a fight and he's going through smoochie-withdrawal."
Giles winced and closed his eyes. "Ugh...I really didn't need that mental picture, Buffy."
She smiled up at him, determinedly dismissing Xander's bizarre behavior from her mind. She refused to sully their precious private time together with Slayer business. "How about this one?" she purred, standing on tiptoe to give him a slow, sensuous kiss.
"Much better," he murmured thickly as he pulled her body flush against his. His hands trailed down her back to cup her buttocks. She leaned into him, unconsciously thrusting her pelvis toward him, and he let out a heartfelt groan.
Xander leaned around the door, his face a mask of disgust when he saw what they were doing. [They've already forgotten everything I said to them,] he realized. [There's nothing to keep it from happening again and again...and next time, someone could die...]
Buffy and Giles were oblivious to the presence of their peeping tom. "You ready to get out of here?" Buffy whispered into his ear.
"I'm going to regret letting you plan our agenda today, aren't I?"
"Oh, I don't know - there are a lot of interesting possibilities..." Buffy trailed her fingers down Giles' chest. "Mom's on her buying trip until Monday. Unfortunately, she's begun to call me at all hours to make sure I'm not getting into trouble, so I have to spend the night at the house." She played with the buttons of his shirt. "But I don't have to spend the night alone..."
Giles began to shake his head. "That's not a good idea, Buff-" She cut him off with another kiss, and after a few moments, he chuckled breathlessly in surrender. "All right, you win. Let's go."
Xander watched them exit the library from his vantage point down the hall, unseen by both in their haste to leave the building. [That's it!] he thought, bone-deep disillusionment having driven him to the breaking point. [I have to do something about this...right *now*!]
Jennie Calendar studied the program worksheet in front of her with unseeing eyes as her mind kept returning to her earlier conversation with Rupert. Something about it was nagging at her; their discussion had, on the face of it, been quite unremarkable - a typical exchange for two recently broken-up people, trying to salvage whatever remnants of friendship that they could. But he had been nervous all out of proportion to the situation, and surprisingly touchy about queries on the present state of his love life. She hadn't really believed that he'd broken up with her because he'd fallen for someone else, but now she was beginning to wonder.
Her ruminations were interrupted by the opening of the classroom door. Xander Harris poked his head in, an uncharacteristically serious expression on his face - he appeared almost anxious as he darted a swift, nervous peek back down the hallway. "Ms. Calendar, do you have a minute? I have something I need to tell you..."