Changes, Past and Present
Disclaimer: These wonderful characters do not belong to
me. They are the property of Joss Whedon, WB and Mutant Enemy.
Author: Gibberish-the prolific one. These are the last of her stories that I still have to post. (I'm a slacker)
Spoilers/Timeline: Through Season 3.
Feedback: Yes please.
Distribution: Solo and Abby if they want it. Anyone else, please just ask.
A small shop, formerly Ethan's Costume
Shop, Buffy and Giles were arguing with Ethan Rayne. Suddenly,
Ethan stopped and grinned at something behind them.
Buffy and Giles turned and looked at something over their shoulder. They saw a swirling vortex. "What is that?" Buffy asked in a hushed voice.
"Tag." Ethan said and her Buffy through the vortex. "You're it." He moved to follow, but Giles grabbed him. Painfully.
As suddenly as it appeared, it was gone.
Giles' grip on Ethan tightened. "Where is she? What have you done Ethan?"
Both men felt something akin to jolt go through them. Giles' eyes widened, then narrowed. "You shouldn't have done that Ethan."
"Bloody hell." Ethan managed to mutter just before Ripper's fist made contact with his face.
Ripper, Ethan, Deirdre and Philip were yelling at each other about Randall's death.
There was a flash of light and something knocked Ripper and Ethan to the floor. "What have we here?" Ethan asked, intrigued by the blonde that had fallen from ... Nowhere.
"Ethan, I am *so* going to kill you." Buffy said. She had her hand around his throat before she realized that something was wrong.
"Looks like she knows you Ethan." Ripper said with a grin.
"Giles?" Buffy asked in a frightened voice. "What did Ethan do?"
"You tell me Luv." Ripper told her. "Should I beat the 'ell out of 'im for ya?"
Buffy's hand was still at Ethan's throat. "That's okay, I can do it. But I need answers first."
"Answers to what?" Ethan choked out.
Buffy looked at Ethan. With a pang, she realized that this Ethan would not be able to help her. "What year is it?"
"What?" Ethan asked surprised.
"The year?" Buffy squeezed his throat tighter.
"1977." Ethan choked.
"1977." Buffy echoed. "What did he want here?" She asked herself aloud.
"Would you please let me go now?" Ethan asked.
Buffy released him. "How'm I gonna get home?" She instinctively turned to Giles, but he wasn't Giles. He was Ripper.
"Where's 'ome?" Ripper asked.
"Sunnydale, California." Buffy said dazed. "1999."
"She's crazy." Deirdre said.
"Maybe she's on something." Philip added.
Suddenly Buffy grabbed Ripper's arm. She looked at the tattoo. "You've already done it, haven't you?" She asked softly.
Ripper yanked his arm away angrily. And suspicious. "What are you talkin' about?"
"Eyghon." Buffy stated. "Randalls already dead, isn't he?"
They looked at her in shock. "How did you know about that?" Deirdre asked in a harsh whisper.
"Giles told me." Buffy said.
"Who the 'ell are you?" Ripper asked in a dangerous tone.
"I'm Buffy. The Vampire Slayer." Buffy told him.
"You're a Slayer?" Ripper asked with a derisive laugh.
Buffy glared at him. "Are you making fun of my calling?" She asked. Without turning, she grabbed Ethan before he could take off.
Ripper's eyes narrowed as well. "What if I am?" He asked in a tone that challenged.
"Then I guess I'd have to teach you some respect for it." Buffy returned.
"You can try." Ripper said.
"What about him?" Buffy asked, indicating Ethan.
Ripper glared at Ethan. "You move, I'll deal with you myself." Ripper threatened.
Ethan nodded; he had a very good sense of self-preservation.
Buffy pushed Ethan away and challenged Ripper. "Take your best shot."
They fought, fairly evenly matched. Buffy, however, had a double advantage. Not only was she the Slayer, but Giles had trained her. She knew his strengths and his weaknesses.
Buffy watched him carefully. She saw the desperation in his eyes. These were his friends, he was a leader. If he lost, he would lose face. She couldn't do that to him, even if he did deserve it. She let him take her down.
Ripper pinned her to the floor. She was on her back and he was on top of her. He leaned down close. "You let me win." He said in a hushed but angry voice.
"You know that, and I know that." Buffy said just as quietly. "But they don't."
"Why?" He asked, bewildered.
"You're my ... Friend." Buffy told him. She didn't mention Watcher, Ripper didn't much care for Watchers.
"We're friends?" He asked surprised. Then he gave a wicked grin. " 'ow good of friends? This good?" He kissed her hard and thorough.
"Geez Ripper." Philip said in exasperation.
Buffy didn't push him away, nor did she respond. Ripper pulled away. If he'd been patient just a moment more though, he would have been surprised.
Ripper stood and helped Buffy to her feet. He watched in admiration as she dusted off her backside. Of course, so did Ethan and Philip.
Deirdre glared at her. "He won. Get out." She told Buffy.
Buffy barely glanced at her. She looked at Ripper and, grudgingly, at Ethan. "I need your help."
"Sorry." Deirdre said, not sounding it. "Get out. We don't want you here."
"Speak for yourself De." Philip said.
"Oh please Philip," Deirdre said in return. "Like she'd notice you with Ripper around."
Buffy blinked, they sounded like Cordie and Xander. "I just want to go home."
"No one's stopping you." Deirdre looked at her in distaste.
"Enough." Ripper said. "De, Philip, go home. We'll talk about Randall tomorrow."
"Ripper." Deirdre said.
"Tomorrow." Ripper said firmly.
Deirdre glared at Buffy again. "Don't get comfortable. He bores easily."
"Maybe it's the company he keeps." Buffy responded calmly. Ripper smirked.
Deirdre turned and stalked out. Philip, resigned, followed.
"How to make friends and influence people." Ethan drawled.
Buffy glared at him. "If I killed you now, I'd be saving a lot of people a lot of trouble. I'd keep that in mind if I were you." Buffy told him.
Ripper snorted. "I think I see why we're friends." He said.
Buffy looked at him. "You believe me then?" Buffy asked. "You don't think I'm crazy."
"Hell, I don't care if you're crazy or not." Ripper said. "I want to know how you knew about Randall, Eyghon and the tattoo."
"You told me. We're friends." Buffy told him. "I'm not saying any more in front of Ethan. He pushed me here."
Giles had Ethan chained to the wall at Angel's old place, the mansion.
Ethan had a bloody nose and a black eye. Giles had settled into a cold anger.
"How did you do it?" No answer. He took a threatening step closer, a hard glint in his eyes.
"A book." Ethan told him, giving in. "At the shop."
"That's a good start." Giles said coldly. "Now tell me why you did it. Why did you push Buffy through?" No answer. Giles backhanded him across the face. "Why?"
"Because she was there." Ethan said. "The plan was to go alone. But the opportunity couldn't be passed up. I would have been her only way home. She would have had to protect me."
"You have the memories now." Giles said. "You know what happened."
"You can thank me later." Ethan said dryly.
Another backhand. "She could have died!" Giles paused, "Where's the book?" He asked in disgust.
After they threatened Ethan with dire consequences, Ripper and Buffy had sent him off. Then, they wondered around London at two in the morning.
"So, Ethan pushed you through some kind of vortex and here you are." Ripper summed up what she told him. "Not that I don't think Ethan capable of it, but 'ow do I know you're tellin' the truth?" He asked. "Why shouldn't I take you straight to Bedlam?"
"I'm guessing that Bedlam isn't a good place." Buffy commented wryly. "Do they know that you're supposed to be a Watcher?"
Ripper looked at her sharply, "Ethan does, the bloody snoop. 'ow d'you know about it?"
"Would you believe me if I said that you told me?" Buffy asked.
"Why would I do that?" He asked in return. "If what you said is true - And I'm not sayin' it is. - I'd be in my forties. Why would I be confiding in a twenty year old girl?"
"Nineteen." Buffy corrected absently. "Because I'm your Slayer. You're my Watcher. At least you were, now you're just my friend."
"Now I know you're outta' your mind." Ripper said. "Even if I wanted to go back to the Council, and I don't, they'd never give me a Slayer. Not with my history."
"Well, they did ... They will ... Whatever." Buffy said, confusing herself for a second. "Maybe your history is why they sent you. I'd already gotten a Watcher killed."
They walked in silence for a while. Buffy finally spoke. "Would it make you feel better to know that you were fired for breaking the rules?" She asked, only half kidding.
He just walked, eyes straight ahead.
"You told me that you were ten when your father told you." Buffy said softly. "That he, and his mother, had been Watchers. But you didn't want to be a Watcher." Ripper stopped and looked at her in shock. She stopped and returned his gaze steadily. "You wanted to be a fighter pilot." She smiled. "Or a grocer."
"No one knows that." Ripper said, shocked. "I never told anyone."
"How would I know if you didn't tell me?" Buffy asked. Her eyes pleaded with him to believe her.
"C'mon." Ripper grabbed her hand and walked at a quick pace, as he dragged her along.
"Where are we going?" Buffy asked as she tried to keep up.
"My place." Ripper told her. "I've gotta' think."
"Damn you Ethan." Giles said upon finding the book. It was in Gaelic. Not a language Giles knew. Just a few phrases, mostly curses, insults and physical impossibilities. Ethan knew Gaelic, but Giles didn't trust him.From his memories, he knew that Buffy had returned. He just didn't know how. He'd just have to beat it out of Ethan. He gave a feral grin, if Buffy wasn't at stake, he might have enjoyed this.
Ripper was pacing around his small flat. Buffy watched with a growing sense of unease. She finally asked, "Are you okay?"
Ripper swung around to look at her. She looked concerned. For him. The knowledge did something to him. It touched something in him he thought long dead. He crossed the room and crouched in front of her. He reached out a hand and gently touched the cheek of her concerned face. "Who are you?"
"I told you. I'm Buffy." She said uneasily. She hadn't expected gentleness from Ripper.
"Do I make you nervous?" Ripper asked as he gently ran his fingers across her throat.
"I'm not nervous." Buffy said, but she swallowed hard.
"Don't I ever touch you?" Ripper asked with a knowing grin.
"Not like this." Buffy whispered.
"I must be an idiot." Ripper concluded. "I bet I've wanted to."
This was bizarre, Buffy thought. This wasn't like the kiss earlier. That had been dominance. This was ... Something else. This time when he kissed her, she responded.
The kiss started gentle, but rapidly became intense.
This was Giles, Buffy thought. Which, she realized, was probably why it seemed right. Giles was a part of her. No matter where she was, he was there for her.
Ripper fell to his knees and pulled her to him tightly, then pulled away. He stood and walked away from her. He kept his back to her as he thought. In just a couple of hours he felt about her in ways he never had before. Ways he thought impossible for him. He wanted to protect her, which was new. And she was a Slayer, she didn't need his protection. And his body had reacted, he never got that worked up, that fast. Not from just a simple kiss. But he knew that there had been nothing simple about it. That scared the hell out of him and he didn't scare easily.
Buffy watched him. He stood there; rigid. <What is he thinking? What did it matter?> She told herself sternly. She needed to find a way home. "Gil ... Ripper?"
"Yeah." Ripper responded without turning around.
"I don't know much about magic." Buffy said. "How do I get home? *Can* I get home?" She asked hesitantly.
Ripper looked at her then. "We'll find a way to get you 'ome. If I 'ave to break every bone in Ethan's body."
"That could be fun." Buffy said. "But he probably doesn't know. I mean, if he did, why wait twenty years?"
"There's no tellin' with Ethan." Ripper told her. "But if he knows, I'll make him tell us."
"Why?" Buffy asked. "You don't even know me. Why do you care if I get back?"
"Maybe I just don't want you following me around." Ripper said defensively.
Buffy just looked at him for a second. "Not a problem." She stood and walked to the door.
Ripper placed his hand on hers where it held the doorknob and stopped her. "What do you think you're doin'? You wouldn't last an hour alone in this city at night."
"I think I can handle it." Buffy said. She tried to pull the door open, but he stopped her. She looked up at him.
"You can't go out there alone." Ripper insisted.
"I can take care of myself." Buffy told him. "I've patrolled alone in LA at night. London can't be worse."
"You're not familiar with London." Ripper pointed out. "Know your ground before you fight on it."
"I'll take my chances." Buffy said. She forced the door open, nearly knocked Ripper to the floor and walked out.
"Bloody hell!" Ripper said emphatically as he slammed the door. He swore for five minutes before he went after her.
He caught up to her five blocks away. For such a little thing, she could move. He grabbed her arm to stop her. Then found himself flat on his back with her heel at his throat.
"Don't you know better than to grab people?" She asked. She removed her heel and reached down a hand to help him up.
Ripper pulled himself up, but didn't let go of her hand. "Not bad."
"I try." Buffy said as she tugged at her hand. He didn't release her. "What do you want from me?"
"That's a loaded question Luv." Ripper commented. He tugged on her hand and pulled her into his arms. "Maybe I want something that you won't give."
He leaned down and kissed her. He released her hand and wrapped his arms around her. He felt her hands move hesitantly around his waist. He deepened the kiss.
Buffy's hands gripped the back of his shirt, under his leather jacket.
She couldn't believe the way he made her feel. She felt his hands slide down until they cupped her bottom. He lifted her against him so that he was pressed against her stomach.
Ripper knew that he had to stop before he ravished her right there on the sidewalk. He released her mouth slowly and leaned his forehead against hers. They were both breathing heavily. "Come back with me Luv?"
"Why?" Buffy asked. "Why do you want me to go back with you?"
"Because I need to know youre safe." Ripper told her. "I don't understand why it's so important, but it is."
"And I'll be safe with you?" She asked humorously.
"As safe as you want to be." Ripper responded.
Giles was slowly getting the translation out of Ethan.
Ripper woke up on his own couch. It took him a moment to remember why he was sleeping on the couch. Buffy. Hell. He heard the shower and a wicked thought came to mind, followed by a wicked grin. He stood and stretched his stiff muscles. Then, grin still in place, he headed for the bathroom.
Buffy finished rinsing her hair. She let the hat water run over her one more time before she shut it off. She opened the curtain and found Ripper holding the towel for her. She grabbed the towel and held it in front of herself. "What do you think you're doing?" She asked indignant. Then she realized that he wasn't wearing anything.
Ripper's grin widened, "Just waitin' for the shower Luv."
Buffy couldn't keep her eyes from peeking down. "Couldn't you have waited in the other room?"
"Wouldn't 'ave been as much fun." Ripper answered. He felt his body respond to her gaze.
Buffy couldn't help being impressed with what she saw. And every time she looked down, he was more.... Impressive. She stepped out of the tub and wrapped the towel around her. "You're a pervert."
"Just a healthy male." Ripper assured her. He leaned towards her, "Very healthy."
"I can see that." Buffy said, then flushed bright pink.
Ripper put his fingertips to her throat. Barely touching her he slid them down 'til they met the towel. "Where's that blush start?" He asked. He tucked his fingers the towel and her chest, then slowly pulled her towards him.
"None of your business." Buffy told him shakily. She was mesmerized by the look in his eyes.
He leaned down and touched his lips to hers in feather like kiss. When he felt her arms slide up his chest and around his neck, he released the towel from around her and pulled her flush up against him as he deepened the kiss.
They jumped apart when the bathroom door crashed open. They turned and found Deirdre glaring at them. Ripper stood in front of Buffy protectively.
"I knew it." Deirdre said in disgust and anger.
"If you knew, why the 'ell did you just barge in?" Ripper asked in rhetorical anger. "What do you want De?"
Buffy bent down and picked up the towel and wrapped it back around herself.
"Why did you bring the little tramp back here?" Deirdre demanded.
"Get out De." Ripper said coldly.
"What?" Deirdre screeched. "You're going to throw away years for that ... "
"Enough De!" Ripper said harshly.
"Excuse me." Buffy said coldly. She grabbed her clothes and stalked out of the room. A moment later, they heard the bedroom door slam.
Deirdre looked triumphant.
"Who do you think you are?" Ripper hissed. "Come into my flat, uninvited and insult her. I didn't throw away anything De, you did. Now get out."
"I said get out!" He grabbed her
arm and dragged her to the front door. He opened it and shoved
"You only met her yesterday. Why is she important?" Deirdre asked before he slammed the door.
Her words echoed in his mind after he slammed the door. The truth was, he didn't know what it was about Buffy that drew him. What made him care. He just knew that he did. There was a connection like he'd never felt before. He had a feeling that he never would again, not with anyone else.
He went over to the couch and grabbed his jeans. He pulled them on hastily and headed for the bedroom.
He found Buffy, dressed now, sitting on the bed, knees drawn up to her chest and her head resting on them.
"I need to go home." Buffy said in a small voice. She didn't raise her head. "Before I do any more damage. I can't go to Ethan, God knows what he'd do with the information should he find that spell now. And you ... I don't know what to do about you."
"What do you want to do?" Ripper asked.
"Part of me wants to run." Buffy said.
"And the other part?" Ripper asked next.
Wants to never leave. But she didn't say it. She looked at him then. "I need to get home. Giles needs me. I need him.
"Lucky bastard." Ripper commented.
"No." Buffy said. "It isn't ... We don't ... I ..." She looked away.
Ripper moved and sat on the bed next to
her. "It's not what I meant. I've never had anyone that
cared that much about me. My old man wanted me to be a Watcher,
it's all 'e cared about. What I wanted didn't matter. Tradition.
Bloody hell, I was ten years old. All the other kids were
playin', but I had to study. Vampires, demons, curses. They took
my childhood. Do you know what that's like?"
"Yes," Buffy said quietly. She looked up at him. "I wasn't as young as you. I was fifteen when Merrick found me. The Slayer that slipped through the cracks. I lost my friends, had to lie to my parents and I got Merrick killed. I got kicked out of school because I couldn't tell anyone that I burned down the gym to kill Vampires and save their lives. I lost my childhood, but I got to save the world. So far, I've only died once."
"You died?" He asked shocked.
"Once." Buffy answered. Her eyes saw the memory. "A friend brought me back." She reached out and touched his cheek. "A prophecy. The Master would rise and I would die. You tried to go in my place. I had to knock you out to keep you from going."
Ripper shook his head, "I'm too selfish to 'ave done that."
"You're the least selfish person I know." Buffy told him. "You gave up everything for me. Lost everything because of me." She said sadly.
"Not everything." Ripper said. "I still have you."
"I need to get home." Buffy said again.
"I know." Ripper said. "I'll get some books, research, see what we can find." He didn't understand why she smiled at the mention of research. He stood. "Stay here."
"At the flat or in the bed?" Buffy's eyes twinkled as she asked.
"Either or both" Ripper responded.
"You should know, I don't take orders very well." Buffy told him.
"Somehow Luv, I'm not surprised." Ripper said, then left.
Giles took a break from Ethan. He went home, showered and changed. His thoughts focused on Buffy. Once Ethan had pushed her through the vortex, there were memories. Ripper and Buffy, they had tried to find her a way home.
Deirdre had been obsessively jealous, even though he had never had a relationship with her, just occasional sex. That's all it had ever been, sex.
And Philip, he'd been like a puppy. Not that he could blame him. And Ethan, he had wanted Buffy as much as Ripper had. Almost. He didn't think anyone could have wanted Buffy as much as he had, then or now.
He could remember her so clearly. How, as Ripper, he had felt an almost instant connection to her. Buffy had been there just three days, but ... Ripper loved her as he loved her now. And she had loved him. He didn't know why, but she had, What would happen between them when she returned? He was almost afraid to find out. But the memories ... Whatever the outcome, he'd have those.
Buffy waited, but she nearly went crazy. Patience had never been her strong suit. When someone knocked at the door, she answered it as if it were a lifeline. Then wished she hadn't.
The man, distinguished in a suit, was in his fifties. The woman with him had to be well into her seventies, if not more. She was just as distinguished, but not as forbidding. "Can I help you?" She asked politely. But, she had a sinking sensation as to who this pair must be.
"Where is he?" The man demanded as he strode in past her.
"Won't you come in?" Buffy said not bothering to hide her sarcasm.
The woman almost smiled, but the man glared at her.
Buffy realized that if she had been anyone else, this man would be very intimidating. He was tall, taller even than Giles. Broad. Dark hair, sprinkled with silver and cold blue eyes. Buffy, however, had seen and done too much to be bullied by anyone. "He isn't here." She said flatly.
"When will he be back?" He asked next.
"Didn't say." Buffy told him.
"It's very important that we speak to him." The woman said firmly, but kindly.
"I'm sorry." Buffy said, her eyes softer for the woman. "I'll tell him you were here."
"We'll wait." The man stated firmly, coldly.
It was Buffy's turn to glare. "I can see that what manners he has, he didn't get from you." She closed the door.
Mr. Giles blinked, momentarily taken aback by the acid in her tone. Aware, now, that despite how she was dressed, this was not just another of his son's tarts.
"Just the stubbornness." Mrs. Giles commented.
"Mother." Mr. Giles exclaimed, aghast that he and his son had anything in common.
"Do be quiet Edward." Mrs. Giles told him. One of the very few people that would dare. She looked at Buffy. "We heard about the death of one of ... What does he call himself? Oh yes, Ripper. One of Ripper's friends."
"Randall." Mr. Giles ground out. "We want to know what Rupert did."
Buffy glared at him again. "Do you always use that tone when referring to your son?" She asked. "No wonder he left. He'd get more concern from a statue."
"How dare you!" Mr. Giles practically bellowed.
"How dare you?" Buffy returned. "He's your son. Don't you care about anything other than whether or not he joins the family business?"
Mrs. Giles sat on the couch and sat back. She would enjoy the show. She watched the girl with a speculative eye.
"What could you possibly know about it?" Mr. Giles asked nastily. "You aren't even English."
"Some time after the war, you know the one that we Americans won. We started family businesses of our own." Buffy didn't want to cause a bigger rift by mentioning Watchers. "You have no right to try to force it on him."
"I'm his father." He stated.
"That doesn't give you the right to make him give up all of his hopes and dreams." Buffy said angrily.
"Hopes and dreams." Mr. Giles said in contempt. "He's just rebellious."
"Rebellions often occur in a fascist state." Buffy returned. Giles would be proud of her use of words. "Did it ever once ask *him* what *he* wanted? Did you even care? He's a person. He's smart and he's funny. He cares so much more than anyone realizes, even him. He hides it, buries it, because every time he cares, it's taken away. Quit trying to mold him into your idea of the perfect son and try getting to know him for who he is. Who he really is. You might be surprised."
Mrs. Giles looked at her with something akin to awe. Mr. Giles, while still angry, felt a dawning respect. The room was silent.
They all turned at the sound of the door being closed. None of them had heard it open. Ripper stood there, his arms full of books.
Buffy went over to him and took the books. She gave him a look of apology before she went into the bedroom.
"Quite a little defender you have there Rupert." Mrs. Giles said as she stood back up.
Ripper looked at his old man. "What are you doing here?"
"We heard about Randall." Mr. Giles said, careful to keep his voice even.
Ripper studied him, "So, you came here to say 'I told you so?" He asked.
"Perhaps I did." Mr. Giles said quietly. He surprised all three of them. "But you can't go on like this Rupert."
"I know." Ripper said. His turn to surprise.
"Come home Rupert." Mrs. Giles urged.
"I can't." Ripper said. "Not yet. It would be too easy. I have to find my own way. I have to ... "
"Have to what?" She asked.
Ripper looked at his father. "I have to clean up after myself. Then I have to make a decision."
"You can do that at home." Mr. Giles told him quietly.
"No, I can't." Ripper said. "I have to do it this way."
They're quiet a moment.
"Who is she?" Mrs. Giles asked.
Ripper looked to the closed bedroom door, then back to his grandmother.
"Redemption. Hope." He paused. "A reason to change."
"I can't think of a better reason." Mr. Giles said with a small smile.
Ten minutes later, they had left. Ripper made his way to the bedroom. He opened the door and saw her. She sat on the bed with a book in her hands. He looked at the book and smiled.He walked over to her, took the book and turned it right side up, before he placed it back in her hands. "That might help."
Buffy looked chagrined and set the book down.
Ripper sat on the bed so that he faced her and their right legs touched. He reached out and put a strand of hair behind her ear. "Thanks."
"For what?" Buffy asked confused.
"Not many people stand up to my father." He said. "My grandmother is the only person to stand up to him for me." He looked down and took her hand in his.
"You're welcome." She looked like she wanted to say more, but didn't. Instead, she leaned forward and kissed his cheek. Then, unable to resist, she kissed his mouth.
Giles remembered that day as he drove back to the mansion. The images as clear as if they had happened yesterday. The softness of her skin, the way she touched him, as if he were loved. Never had a woman touched him like that. Passion, lust, yes. Loved, never.
She'd looked like every male fantasy and tasted sweeter than honey. He'd made love to her with a gentleness that he hadn't known he possessed. A reverence that he'd only known with her. In the end, when she'd cried out his name in pleasure, it had drove him over the edge as well. She hadn't called Ripper, or Giles, but Rupert. It was the first time the name had felt as if it had belonged to him. For the first time in years, he'd felt whole.
Buffy and Ripper spent the day alternating between research and making love. That night they met Ethan, Deirdre and Philip at the old abandoned building they had met before. Buffy stood off to the side and watched the foursome.
Deirdre jerked her head towards Buffy. "What's she doin' here?"
"I wanted her here." Ripper said coldly. No one mentioned it again. "We're here to discuss Randall."
"What about Randall?" Ethan asked. "Not a whole lot we can do. He's dead. We need to move on."
"Move on to what?" Philip asked. "I'm not helping to raise anymore demons."
"They'll be no more demons." Ripper stated. "I think we've done enough damage."
"You've gone soft." Ethan said with a laugh. "One day with the little Slayer and she has you whipped."
Ripper grabbed Ethan by the throat, much as Buffy had done the night before. "I don't need a demon to kill you Ethan." He tightened his grip.
"Best remember that."
"All right." Ethan choked out. Ripper released him and he put his own hand to his throat and massaged it. "Little touchy, aren't we?"
"No more demons." Ripper repeated.
"He's right Ethan." Philip said. "We can't control it. It killed Randall, doesn't that matter to you?"
"Randall wasn't strong enough." Ethan said callously. "That's all. He paid the price." He looked from one to the other. "What were you expecting? Roses. We all knew what we were doing. Who we were calling. No one went into it blind."
"You're right," Ripper said. "But tell me Ethan. Were you expecting Randall to die?"
Ethan didn't answer.
"You bastard." Deirdre spat.
Buffy's eyes narrowed and her hands clenched into fists.
Ripper's fist connected with Ethan's nose, he hit the floor, nose bleeding. "I thought I was a cold hearted bastard. I'm bloody Mother Theresa compared to you." He pulled Ethan to his feet and hit him again. Then again.
Buffy moved and stood in front of Ripper and held him back. "Get out Ethan. Before he does to you, what you let Eyghon do to Randall."
Ethan managed to get to his feet and ran out of the building.
Ripper shoved her away. "Why'd you stop me?"
"You should have let him..." Deirdre words died at a glare from Buffy.
"Then he'd be no better than Ethan."
Buffy told them. She looked at them. "Have you ever taken a human life? Have you?" They just stared at her. "I have. Believe me, you don't want to experience it. Killing a person, no matter how evil, will eat at you. If that's what you want, then go ahead. I won't stop you again." She turned and walked out.
They watched her go. Ripper didn't even look at the other two before he took off after Buffy.
Ripper found her about a block away. She sat dejectedly on a bench and stared straight ahead.
Ripper dropped onto the seat next to her. "Want to tell me about it?" He asked gently.
"No." Buffy responded. "I've dealt with it. But I don't think I'll ever get over it." She looked at him. "I don't want you to ever have to go through that."
Giles had finally called for help. Willow and Oz showed up at the mansion. They were stunned at the sight of Ethan, chained to the wall and bleeding.
Giles looked at their young faces, "It's not as bad as it looks."
They jumped and looked at him wide-eyed. They took in Giles' rumpled appearance. He had given them a minimum of information over the phone. Just that Ethan had done something to Buffy.
"What happened?" Willow asked.
"Ethan sent Buffy to the past." Giles told her, both of them.
"Where? When?" Willow asked next.
"1977." Giles said. "He won't translate the spell to bring her back."
"I translated it." Ethan moaned.
Giles glared at him. "I do know a few words in Gaelic. Enough to know that you were lying." He looked back to the young couple. "I need you to keep an eye on him, make sure that he doesn't get away. I don't know how long it will take for me to find someone that I can trust to translate the spell for me." He looked at Willow, "Do not let him loose or get to close to him." He instructed. "I have to find a way to get Buffy back."
"We'll watch him." Oz assured him. He heard the underlying urgency, even if he wasn't sure that he understood it. Buffy was everything to Giles, that much, he did know. "Do you know where she is?" He asked. "Is she in danger there?"
Ethan laughed harshly, "She's in London. With Ripper."
"With you?" Willow asked relieved, as she looked at Giles. Her knowledge of Ripper was limited, but she didn't think Buffy would be in any danger from him.
Giles nodded. "And Ethan." He looked from Willow to Oz, then back to Willow. "She's all right." He assured them.
"How can you be sure?" Willow asked.
"I remember." Giles said. "As soon as she went back, I had memories of her being there."
"Why don't you tell them about some of those memories Ripper?" Ethan asked in a sly, yet exhausted voice. "I'm sure they'd be fascinated."
Giles glared at him. "It would do you well to remember that she stopped me from killing you."
"You wouldn't have." Ethan said. "Your conscience wouldn't have let you."
"Don't bet on it." Giles said, the tone and the look were pure Ripper.
"Giles?" Willow said, hesitantly. She was frightened by the look in Giles eyes. "What happened?"
"Willow, she wasn't even there three full days." Giles said as he tried to calm himself. He and Buffy would have enough difficulty when she returned without Willow and Oz knowing just what happened. "Mostly, she just wanted to get home."
Ethan snorted, then groaned as the pain shot through him. "Are you afraid to tell them Ripper? You didn't used to mind bragging." Although he never had where Buffy were concerned.
"She isn't here to stop me this time Ethan." Giles threatened coldly.
"She's always there Ripper." Ethan said. "Deep inside. She always will be."
"What would you know about it?" Giles asked harshly. "All you ever cared about was yourself. At least I outgrew it. You have no clue as to what it means to care about anything or anybody."
Ethan didn't say anything, he just returned Ripper's look steadily.
Ripper had left her at the apartment, flat he called it. He needed to see some people and didn't want Buffy exposed to them.
He'd only been gone ten minutes, when someone knocked on the door. After the last time, Buffy was cautious when she answered. She opened the door just enough to peek out.
Ethan saw half of her face, including one big green eye through the crack in the door. He saw her surprise. "I need to speak to you."
"Why?" She asked without opening the door any further. "What do you want?"
"I need to know why you stopped him." Ethan said.
"I stopped him, what else matters?" Buffy asked.
"It matters." Ethan said.
Buffy sighed, but opened the door.
Ethan walked in, he was used to feeling hesitant. "Why did you do it?" He asked as he looked at her.
Buffy closed the door and faced him. "Why do you think I did it? For you?" She shook her head.
"You're a Slayer." Ethan pointed out. "Stopping people like me is your job."
"Oh, I have no doubt that letting him kill you would have saved me a lot of trouble." Buffy said. "But he would have gone through hell. Quite frankly, you aren't worth it."
Ethan pulled back. "You don't pull your punches, do you?"
"Why should I?" Buffy asked. The shame is, that you could have been so much more."
"And what could I have been?" Ethan asked in contempt.
Buffy looked at him serious and thoughtful. "Anything you wanted."
Ethan looked at her silently. Then he walked out the door.
Ethan watched Ripper leave, then looked at the pair entrusted to watch him. They were so young. "Have you figured out what he's trying to keep from you yet?" He asked.
"If we need to know, he'll tell us." Willow responded.
"I think it best if you just keep your mouth shut." Oz said in warning.
Ethan looked at him knowingly. "Ah. You have, haven't you."
Oz looked him straight in the eye. "Do you want me to gag you?" He said in a very low, threatening tone.
Willow watched them wide-eyed. "Oz?"
Oz looked at her and his face softened. "Don't worry Will. Giles will get Buffy back."
"But ..." Willow started. "What's he talking about?"
Oz looked at her. If what he suspected was true, Damn. It wasn't his business. Now, Ethan had Willow worried. "It's nothing to worry about."
But Willow worried. She had a feeling that she knew what Ethan was talking about. She just couldn't quite accept it. She wanted Oz to tell her that she was wrong. Buffy and Giles?
Buffy looked out the window of Ripper's flat. The one that looked out over the front sidewalk. She thought about Ethan, apparently, he always been odd.
She saw Ripper as he walked down the sidewalk. She was about o wave to get his attention, when she noticed that he was being followed by two men.
Buffy tore out of the flat and down the stairs. When she reached the outside, she didn't see them, but she heard a scuffle in the alley. She ran into the alley and saw that one vampire held Ripper as the other beat the hell out of him. She ran and with a spin kick, knocked the one doing the hitting to the ground. She grabbed a wooden crate and crashed it over his head. Then she used a piece of the crate and staked him. Dusted. She turned only to be knocked to the ground by the other vampire. She jumped back up, ready to stake him, but he turned to dust before her.
Buffy helped Ripper up to the flat. She sat him on the couch and fetched a washcloth, antiseptic and bandages. "Do you know what they wanted?" Buffy asked as she cleaned his face.
Ripper shook his head, then winced when the movement hurt. Buffy finished tending to his face. Then she lifted his T-shirt.
"Don't think I'm up for that just yet Luv." Ripper said, then flinched when she pressed her fingers to his aching ribs.
"I don't think anything's broken." Buffy told him. "But, maybe I should take you to a hospital."
"No." Ripper said adamantly, then groaned. "No hospital. I'll be fine."
Buffy reached out a hand and brushed back a lock of hair from his forehead. "They weren't trying to kill you." She said.
"I know." Ripper returned. "They were after something."
"What?" Buffy asked.
Ripper just looked at her.
That night, when they went to bed, Buffy soothed him. She loved him gently, every touch whisper soft. They went to sleep arms and legs entwined, neither wanted to let go.
Ripper had a nightmare. In it, the vampire had gotten Buffy.
The cry of her name woke her and she looked into the frightened eyes of the man in bed next to her.
Ripper grabbed her and held her to him. Then, despite the pain, he made love to her with a desperate passion. He had lied to her earlier, he knew what the vampires had wanted. They wanted her.
Giles walked into the mansion. He had it, the translation. He just hoped it worked. He found Oz, he sat alone on the couch in the main room and watched Ethan. "Where's Willow?"
Oz looked at him tiredly. It had been a long night and a longer morning. "Crashed. Couple hours ago." He looked at Ethan, then back to Giles. "I can't believe you were ever friends."
"We weren't." Giles said. "Not really."
"I'm hurt." Ethan said.
"He likes the sound of his own voice." Oz commented. "Did you get the translation?"
"Yes," Giles answered. He held up the book with several sheets of paper protruding. "I thought that Willow might like to help."
"Help what?" Willow asked around a yawn. She made her way into the room.
"Help bring Buffy home." Giles answered.
"I'm surprised you want to." Ethan commented. "Or are you expecting to pick up where you left off?"
"Nothing matters, except getting Buffy home." Giles said, he didn't look at any of them. He handed the book to Willow and went back out to his car for the supplies.
Ripper and Buffy laid on the couch and read, one at each end. Buffy started as she felt his foot as it slid up her inner thigh. Two could play that game, she moved her own foot. She heard him groan as her foot rubbed his already hardening manhood. She bit back a groan of her own when he pressed his foot to her core.
Ripper placed his book on the floor and removed her foot. He then reached out and took her book and put it on the floor. He moved to where he hovered above her and kissed her. He looked at her intently when he pulled back. "I haven't been much help gettin' you home."
"You've tried." Buffy said.
"Have I really?" He asked. "I know you need to go, but I don't want you to." He laid his head on her chest.
Buffy wrapped her arms around him. "There's a big part of me that doesn't want to leave, but..."
"Why?" Ripper asked. "Why do you want to stay? Who do you see when you look at me?"
Buffy raised his face so that their eyes met, "What do you mean? Who do you think I see?"
"Him." Ripper said. "The Watcher."
"I see you." Buffy told him. "Who you were, who you are, who you will be. It's all you." She kissed him. "Who do you see?" He looked at her quizzically.. "Am I just another girl? Another conquest?"
"Of course not." Ripper told her.
"Then, who am I? Who do you see?" Buffy asked.
"You're everything." Ripper stated.
"How can I be everything?" Buffy asked with a smile.
"When do we meet again?" Ripper asked instead of answering. "What year?"
"1997. The beginning of the year." Buffy told him. "I transferred mid-term."
"Twenty years." Ripper said awed.
"You'll have forgotten all about me by then." Buffy said.
"Impossible." Ripper responded
"We'll see." Buffy said.
"I'll be an old man." Ripper said.
"Not old." Buffy told him. "Just where you should be. Where I need you to be."
"And us?" Ripper asked quietly.
That was something that Buffy had not let herself think about thus far.
She saw Giles clearly in her mind's eye. When she'd first met him. His fierce protectiveness when Amy's Mom had tried to kill her with a vengeance spell. The night she faced the Master. When Angel turned and killed Jenny. Never once did he blame her, even when she blamed herself. They held each other and cried. Then she sent Angel to hell and ran away. He was the only one that hadn't flung accusations at her when she returned.He was so hurt when she'd kept Angel's return from him. His hate for Angel. Then he'd helped him anyway, for her. Even when she hurt him, he protected her.He could have gone home, but he'd stayed. For her. Because he loved her. When the Mayor had threatened her, Giles had put a sword through his heart. At the Prom. And after, when he held her as she cried. He took care of Angel when he'd been poisoned. Then, at graduation, he'd managed to recover her diploma.
She caught him as he looked at her sometimes. She wondered what he saw, what he thought. Now, she wondered even more.
She knew she loved him, that they were a part of each other. Oh, she knew that the others cared about her, even Wesley in his own way. But Giles... Ripper watched her. <What is she thinking? > Her face and eyes were so expressive. Not all of her thoughts were happy. But now, she looked almost serene. As if she understood.... Something she hadn't before.
Giles had gagged Ethan so that he could not interfere with the spell. The incantation had to be precise. Willow had helped, but now she watched from across the room.
Oz watched as well. As he sat next to Willow, he took her hand. He felt it as it happened.
Ethan also watched. No one would have believed him had he told them. He and Ripper knew that Buffy had gone back through the vortex. They wanted to believe that she'd made it home. But, neither was truly certain. They couldn't have been, not until now.
Buffy and Ripper had gone back to research, although this time in the bed. They heard a frantic knock at the front door. They exchanged a look before Ripper got up to answer it as Buffy followed.
Ripper opened the door to find Ethan.
Ethan was relieved to see that Buffy appeared all right,
though Ripper looked a little worse for wear. "De's gone
mad." He said a touch out of breath.
"What the hell are you doin' here?" Ripper asked, none to friendly.
"It's De." Ethan said. "She's out of her mind with jealousy." He looked at Buffy. "She plans to do something about you."
"What can she do?" Buffy asked doubtfully.
"With what we've been dabbling in." Ethan reminded her. "There's no telling."
"You don't expect us to believe you." Ripper commented.
"You have to." Ethan said.
"How do you know all this?" Buffy asked, still dubious. "And why warn us?"
"She came to me for help." Ethan told them. He looked Buffy in the eye. "I owe you, remember?"
Buffy and Ripper exchanged a look, Buffy shrugged. They were about to get rid of him, when they heard him whisper.
"My gods." Ethan whispered in awed tones, as he looked past them.
They turned and saw the vortex.
<I'm not ready yet. > The words exploded through Buffy's mind. Then she heard Giles call her.
"Buffy?" Giles' voice came through the vortex. "Buffy, are you there?"
"Giles!" Buffy called back happily.
Ripper and Ethan watched the smile that lit up her face. "I guess it's time to go Luv." Ripper said.
Buffy looked at him, the smile gone. For a second, she considered taking him with her.
As if he'd read her mind, he shook his head. "I'll see you in twenty years."
Buffy reached up and pulled him down for a kiss. When she let go, she whispered, "I'll see you in a minute."
"Buffy?" Giles called again. "Hurry." His voice was worried.
"I love you." She whispered to Ripper. Buffy then looked at Ethan, "Try to behave." She said to him. She took one last look at Ripper. She put a hand to his mouth and felt him kiss it. Buffy turned and ran through the vortex.
Ripper shut his eyes. When he opened them, Buffy and the vortex were gone. He turned to Ethan. "What did you want?"
<To save her. > Ethan thought. He looked at Ripper, "De sent the vampires."
"Buffy?" Giles called through the vortex. "Are you there?" He worried for a minute, then he heard her.
"Giles!" Buffy called back.
Oz watched as Giles closed his eyes in relief. He was surprised to see that Ethan did the same. He felt Willow's hand tighten around his. Oz felt his own relief at the sound of her voice.
Then, there was a long silence. Oz and Willow looked at each other, worried again. Giles and Ethan eyed the vortex worriedly.
"Did something happen?" Willow asked, frightened.
"No." Giles answered, but he didn't sound as certain as any of them would have liked. "She must still be saying good-bye."
"Maybe you should try again." Willow nudged.
"Buffy?" Giles called again, worried. "Hurry." There was no response.
Giles put a hand to his heart, he must have done something wrong. He heard Willow start to cry. Then, something came through the vortex and knocked Giles to the floor. "Oof."
"Buffy!" Willow cried out at the sight of her friend, as she jumped to her feet.
Buffy landed on top of Giles. She was aware of where she was and that there were others in the room, but she just looked at Giles. He really hadn't changed that much. a bit less hair with a touch of silver. A few lines around his eyes.. The glasses. He was still awfully attractive and she wondered why she'd never let herself admit it before.
Giles looked up at her and tried to read her expression, but found that he was to conscious of her body to manage it. "Are you all right?" He asked.
Buffy wanted to kiss him, right there and then, but she held back. His question brought her out of her reverie. "I'm fine." She told him softly. She got to her feet and offered him a hand up. Once Giles was on his feet as well, her eyes settled on Ethan. A smile quirked her lips. "I love the redecorating."
"Very funny." Ethan mumbled around the gag.
To keep from looking at Giles and possibly embarrassing them both by jumping him, she looked at Willow and Oz. "Hey guys."
"Hey guys." Willow echoed. "Is that all you have to say?"
"Good to see you." Buffy added uncertainly.
Willow gave Buffy a hug. "We *so* have to talk."
"About?" Buffy asked.
"Everything." Willow responded as she pulled away. She looked at her friend's confused face. "London."
"How did you know where I was?" Buffy asked. She looked at Giles.
"I remembered you being there." Giles explained. "Ethan as well."
"If you knew, why didn't you stop it?" Buffy asked next.
"I didn't know until after you went through." Giles said defensively. "It's a time paradox. If I had know, I would have stopped it before it happened. But if I had, you wouldn't have gone back and I wouldn't have known." Giles was a bit confused himself, but he wasn't about to tell her that.
Buffy looked at him blankly. "Could you make that just a little more complicated?" Then, she realized the implication of what he said. She looked at him wide eyed. "You remember everything?"
Giles blushed. "Well, I wouldn't very well know if I didn't, if I didn't." He pointed out.
Buffy and Giles looked at each other intently for a moment before she looked away and changed the subject. She knew that they would have to talk, but not with everyone here. She looked at Ethan. She walked over and pulled the gag from his mouth. "What were you trying to accomplish? Are you pleased with yourself?"
"Actually," Ethan said. "I was supposed to go back to before Randall died." He paused. "I guess something went wrong." He finished lamely.
"Gee, ya think?" Buffy asked sarcastically.
Ethan's voice dropped, so that only Buffy could hear him. "I tried to behave." He saw her surprise. "Granted, it didn't last long, but I did try."
Buffy gave him an odd, questioning look.
"No one ever told me that I could be better." Ethan told her. "That I could be more. But, it was too hard."
Buffy shook her head, not sure if she believed him. "Most things worthwhile are." She told him.
"You may not believe me, but I am.... Relieved to see you." Ethan told her.
"Careful Ethan, you'll turn my head." Buffy said with a smile.
"Not bloody likely." Ethan returned. "I know your heart."
Buffy looked at Giles, he watched them curiously.
"I don't suppose that you could talk him in to letting me go now?" Ethan asked.
Buffy and Giles did release Ethan and he immediately disappeared.
Willow was about to burst with questions, but Oz persuaded her to wait. Buffy and Giles obviously needed to talk, so Willow gave Buffy another hug and let Oz lead her out.
Alone now, Buffy and Giles looked at each other awkwardly.
"This is ridiculous." Buffy stated and walked over to him. She took his hand. "I missed you."
"I missed you as well." Giles said a touch formally. "Paradoxes are a funny thing. The memories that I have of you are all those years ago, sit beside the memories that were always there."
"Giles.... Rupert." Buffy began.
Giles looked at her startled. "Buffy, I don't expect anything."
"Tell me something." Buffy said. "If I had stayed and we'd have grown older together, and it did cross my mind, do you think I would have stopped loving you?"
Giles looked at her confused.
"I guess I'm saying this badly." Buffy said. She bit her lip and tried again. "It was easy for me to love Ripper. I couldn't help myself. It was easy because he was you." She looked up at him. "I already loved you."
"Buffy, I...." Giles began, but Buffy put a hand to his lips.
"I came back because as much as I loved Ripper, you are my other half." Buffy told him.
Giles kissed her fingers then captured them in his hand. He held both of her hands now. "Buffy, you should know, I loved you before you left."
"I know." Buffy said. "I loved you too. I just didn't realize it."
"But you're certain now?" Giles asked.
"Very certain." Buffy told him with a smile.
Giles leaned down and kissed her, very slowly and very thoroughly. Then he picked her up and swung her around. Buffy laughed giddily and the joyous sound echoed through the mansion.
Ethan heard her laugh, followed by Giles' deeper laugh and couldn't prevent a smile.