Knowledge is Power
By Lily2332

TITLE: Knowledge is Power
AUTHOR: Lily2332
SUMMARY: A response to a great challenge by Cap. Willow does a spell so that Buffy can see what life would've been without Angel.
SPOILERS: through the Freshman
DISCLAIMER: Nothing is mine, not even the story idea! Don't sue me please.
RATING: Rate me, solo, please?
FEEDBACK: Please!
DISTRIBUTION: Solo, Cap, anyone else, just tell me first.


Buffy let out the latest in a series of exaggerated, self-pitying sighs. <Isn't it obvious that I want her to ask me what's wrong?> She thought in regards to her friend sitting next to her.

They were supposed to be studying, but even the knowledge-loving redhead was having trouble concentrating with her friend so distracted. Willow slammed her textbook shut, then patted it gently as if in apology. "Angel?" She asked, bringing Buffy back down to earth.

Buffy blinked, then gave her friend a guilty look. "Sorry. Yeah, it's Angel. I just keep wondering what he's doing, who he's with. Sometimes when I look back over the time I've known him, it feels like he just tore through my life, and left me to put it all back together....alone." She heaved another tortured sigh, rolling onto her stomach, hugging a throw pillow. "But I guess that's love, huh?"

Willow raised an eyebrow in disbelief, but her friend continued. "I mean, even after all the bad parts with Angel, at least I had him for a while. I just can't imagine how my life would be if I'd never met him." She sat up at the strangled noise Willow emitted.

"Buffy! You think that your life is *better* for having known Angel?"

"Of course......don't you?"

Willow smiled mysteriously. "Let's find out, shall we? Feel like some maaaaaaajick?" Buffy tried to match her friend's grin, but couldn't shake a feeling of trepidation.

The excited witch reached under her bed, pulling out a large drawer filled with vials, powders, and herbs of all kinds, not to mention an assortment of candles and charms.

"I just learned this......well, I just read about it" she corrected herself "Don't tell Giles, he will definitely wig out, but what can I say–I'm a wild and crazy college student!"

Buffy watched her friend with a mixture of curiosity and admiration. The redhead had certainly learned her way around a spellbook, mixing and sprinkling with a flourish.

"Get a book." Willow instructed as she lit some candles, already beginning to chant under her breath.

Buffy glanced around, spotting her psychology book. She hesitated, thinking of the price tag, then shrugged <wild and crazy college kids> she reasoned. Willow took the book, not skipping a beat in her incantations, nodding her approval.

She dipped her fingers in the potion, moistening the book liberally. When she gestured with her hand over the book, the anointed areas began to glow faintly. Buffy squinted, not sure if her eyes were playing tricks on her. She recognized her own name, and Angel's in the jumble of words tumbling forth from her friends lips.

The room was filled with an almost tangible mystical energy, and both girls felt goosebumps covering their arms. It was moments like these in which Buffy fully appreciated the excitement and sensuality of being in a world with such powerful secrets. She knew she was lucky to have such a circle of friends with which to share those secrets; theirs and hers alike.

A gust of wind tore through the room, an event that Buffy recognized as the climax of most rituals. This time, however, something resembling a bolt of lightening shot out of the pages of what *had* been her psyche book. At once it was silent, and the girls shared a nervous, guilty look before slowly raising their eyes to the ceiling.

A smoldering black spot the size of a dinner plate stared down at them, a bit of soot crumbling down onto the floor.

Buffy bit her lip to keep from laughing. "Is this why Giles would wig out about you working this spell?"

Her friend was staring at the book in wonder. "Buffy, if the spell worked, that book contains what your life would be if you'd never met angel." She was nervous, but her sensibility took over. No, this book would reveal nothing worse than what she'd endured at the hands of her undead lover.

Together the girls knelt in front of the book. Buffy, eventually being the braver of the two, gingerly opened the book, towards the end.

They both gasped at the surreal appearance of the pages, each page like a small tv screen, but without the glass. Buffy saw herself, inside, clear as day, toting a duffle bag of weapons, outside their old high school.

"Prom night." Buffy recognized the scenario. "Doesn't look too different." She pointed out with relief, but a moment later her heart fell to the floor.

"Faith." She breathed softly.

Faith approached Buffy, with her familiar cocky swagger. "Hey, B." The dark slayer gave the fair one a kiss in greeting, and soon, they had finished off the hellhounds with lightening speed, and no close calls. They high fived and went off to change clothes. Faith had brought a long red dress that she held up for Buffy to see, smiling at her friend's astonished delight at the exquisite, and uncharacteristically demure gown. They linked arms as they entered the gym to join their friends, two slayers together.

"I don't get it." Buffy said, painfully aware of the lump in her throat. Her emotional wounds over Faith were fresh and nowhere near healed. "What did Angel have to do with Faith turning against us?"

Willow just shook her head in awe, not answering. The door opened, and Buffy closed the book swiftly, slipping it in her backpack as her friend pushed her potpourri of wicca goodies under the bed.

"Hi." Willow addressed her roommate a little too brightly, but the girl didn't notice, so busy was she gaping at the ceiling. "Oh-my-God! What happened?"

"It was my hair dryer!" Willow squeaked. "It exploded! It just-just, it just–"she looked to Buffy for help.

"Exploded?" Buffy offered.

"Wow." Apparently Willow had the luck of her roommate not exactly being a rocket scientist, a fact that the girls acknowledged with a shared look as the oblivious student headed for the shower.

"Will, I gotta run–do you mind if I take this?" Buffy gestured at her bag, trying not to show her eagerness. She wanted to be alone with this book; had to know what could've been. But she needed somewhere quiet and private to do this.

The slayer stood at Giles' front door, turning the knob slowly. Thankfully, it opened. According to their new (neccessary) pact, if Giles were "entertaining' he would lock the door. Buffy knew instantly that she was alone, and happily settled into an overstuffed chair with her treasure, this time opening it towards the middle.

On this page, she saw herself in the old library. She found that if she truly concentrated, engrossing herself fully into the images, she could hear voices, the echo of people in the halls, and the buzz of the overhead lights. The sounds increased in volume as she drifted fully into the lost reality.

She sat on the steps, looking at her watch every few seconds. Waiting. Her face lit up as Giles approached her.

<at least some things never change>

"Hello." Her watcher said in a gut-wrenchingly tender voice. "Have I told you today that I love you?" He leaned down, and she rose, meeting him halfway. Buffy rose further onto tiptoe, bringing her lips to his. His hands roamed over her body, and the room filled with quiet rustling of tweed and satin, and whispers of devotion.

Buffy tore her eyes from the page, her heart racing. The scene she'd just witnessed was the most moving, disturbing things she'd ever experienced. The two people in the library, even though they had technically been Giles and Buffy, had been........she couldn't even find a phrase to describe the expression on their faces and the words they'd murmured to one another. Intense. But not in a scary intense way, like she and Angel had loved each other.

She heard a key in the door, and closed the book, cursing the distraction. Giles looked surprised to see her.

"Buffy." He put his briefcase and coat down on a chair. "Do you need something?"

She felt guilty. Guilty for letting Willow do this spell that she *knew* Giles would disapprove of, and guilty for seeing the things inside that she had seen. And for wanting to see more. She wondered how much more she would see when she was alone again.

"What book are you reading?" He asked, never one to miss any small detail as far as his slayer was concerned.

"Um, nothing, actually, this is one of my schoolbooks." Well, it *had* been, so she wasn't technically lying. She looked at his lips, remembering the kiss in the library. <oh, God.>

As Giles left the room, going to change clothes, she opened the book, unable to resist. She almost immediately found the page she was looking for. Giles bedroom. Bingo, if anything were going to happen, this would be the place. It was dark, the curtains drawn, and as Buffy found herself being sucked in once again, she could almost smell the odor of incense burning.

The tall watcher pulled the small blonde down onto the bed, and began to undress her slowly. When he had accomplished this, he removed his own clothes, pulling her onto his lap. He took her breasts into his mouth, biting gently at her nipples, causing her to moan.

Buffy unconsciously brought her hand to her own breast.. This was bizarre, what would make her do these things with Giles, and make him do them with her? But the images were compelling, and she couldn't look away.

She lay down on the bed, stretching out like a cat, as he moved lower, until he was looking up at her from between her legs. He pushes them apart gently, and the girl arched her back in pleasure as his tongue darted out, then dragged back and forth in a slow rhythm as she writhed beneath him.

Buffy was aware of the heat seeping through her body, and the slight throbbing between her legs. She couldn't believe she was getting excited watching this, it was definitely wrong. Yet the desire had been created, and she suddenly wished she were alone. She wanted to move her hips back and forth against the seat, and when she shifted slightly she groaned at the wetness she felt.

"Buffy? Is everything OK?" He was back, dressed in some khaki pants and a black t-shirt, still holding his socks in his hand.

She snapped back to reality in an instant. "Oh, yeah!" Her face burned with embarrassment, the fact that he couldn't read her thoughts offering no comfort. She knew.

Giles paced around in the room for a few moments, concentrating on something very intently. He stopped, as though looking or listening for something, then addressed her.

"Buffy.....have you been dealing with some majicks?"

Her eyes widened. He didn't appear to know for sure, and maybe he was just making conversation. Yeah, don't give away anything you don't have to. "Majick?" She tried to look completely innocent. It had the opposite effect. He was immediately suspicious.

"I sense something. Something very potent, that .........well, I don't know." he admitted. "What do you know?" He sat on the coffe table in front of her, his knees touching hers. "This isn't something to deal lightly with, Buffy."

She stared at him. Something about the way he'd just said her name.....it almost sounded like the way she'd heard him say it in the book. Almost. The passion was missing, but the reverence was there. "Willow did a spell." She began, watching his face. As usual, there was no anger, only patience and concern. She felt confident enough to continue. "We wanted to see what my life would have been like if I'd never met Angel."

His face tensed, and anger did make a fleeting appearance. "Willow isn't ready to do this type of majick!" He frowned, thinking aloud. "And I don't suppose she knew to do it outdoors, did she?"
Buffy tried not to giggle. "No, she has a brand new skylight in her room." Her watcher sighed. It figured. It had to be about Angel.

"Is that the book you've been so involved in? Your life without Angel?" She automatically clutched the book to her. He could *not* see it.

"Uh, uh, uh, OH! This book? This book?" She sounded as bad as Willow caught in an impossible situation.

He regarded her with confusion. "Yes, Buffy, that book. The one you've been engrossed in since at least before I got home." He reached for the book.

"No!" She tried to smile, "I mean, you don't want to see it. Come on, life without Angel, boring, boring, boring." She held onto the cover tightly, knowing that at least he couldn't take it by force.

He changed his tactics. "Buffy, I would really like to see. I've never done this ritual before, and don't ever plan to. It would be fascinating to see it for myself, not to mention to see the content." He was holding out his hand expectantly, and she felt her resolve weakening. Why not? After all, she hadn't written the book. And it wasn't real, it was all a game of "what if?"

Buffy placed the book on her knees, pushing it over slightly so that it rested on his knees partially, too. He opened the cover, flipping through the pages, stopping abruptly at a part somewhere near the middle. Buffy pushed the book all the way open, to see what he was looking at, and gasped at the image she had not yet seen.

The library. She wore a pair of faded blue jean overalls, a clingy lavendar top underneath. Her hair was in complete disarray, an ugly looking gash across her forehead. But the capturing aspect was the anger in her expression.
"How could you!! I almost died!" She yelled, sweeping a pile of books off of the table to make her point, or perhaps because she didn't know what else to do. Giles, also bearing bruises on his face, ducked as she threw the bowl of water in his direction. He needn't have worried, it didn't make the distance to him.
"Buffy, I'm sorry." He said quietly, utter anguish in his eyes. The slayer ran to him, swinging her fist at his face, even in her weakened state connecting with force. He closed his eyes, taking the impact of the blow without objection.
"Come on!" She cried out. "You're so into your duty, let's fight, let's train! Let's see how much Buffy can take!" She spun around, kicking him down. "What's wrong! That's not very professional, Giles, oh, sorry, Mr. Giles. Get up and train me like a watcher is supposed to!" He blocked her next move, not having to do much effort to do so.

Buffy had to look away for a moment. This was too almost too painful to watch. To relive this terrible day, it was even worse than it had been in real life. Giles squeezed her hand, not taking his eyes from the events in the book. He had to punish himself for what he had done, take every bit of punishment he could draw from this experience.

"Buffy, stop this!" Giles was yelling as he grabbed her by the shoulders. She sank to her knees, tears beginning to stream down her cheeks, and he followed her, not letting go. She didn't even bother struggling. She didn't have the strength to get away, anyway. He pulled her to him, crushing her against his chest. She clung to him, sobbing inconsolably, as he stroked her hair.
"Please forgive me." He pleaded, his tears mixing with her own.
After an eternity, they still sat clinging to one another, neither one feeling secure enough to leave the other.
"I love you." He whispered. Buffy froze. "Please forgive me, I love you."
These words unleashed a new flood of tears from the slayer as she choked out her reply.
"I love you, Giles! Don't ever hurt me again."
"I won't!" He said fiercely, grateful for another chance. "Never!"

To Buffy's horror, the two began to kiss passionately, and she peeked up at her Giles. His eyes were wide in disbelief, but pain filled them at the explicit reminder of what he had done to his slayer on her birthday. He pulled his hand away from her own.

Their kisses gave way to more intimate explorations, and soon they were both crying out as he drove into her forcefully. The girl held on to her watcher for dear life as she climaxed, saying his name.

Buffy knew she should be embarrassed, but her gaze was fixed on the gratified Buffy's face. She was certain that she had never experienced such pleasure herself. She gulped, realizing that the lustful aching had long since returned.

Giles slammed the book closed. "H-h-have you seen this before?" He asked.

She gave him a sheepish look. "No, but a lot of other parts are just like this." She admitted.

"M-more? Just like that?" He asked weakly.

"Better." She replied.

He furrowed his brow. "Better?"

Buffy startled at her own words. "I mean- I mean, well, what I meant was that in an overall view of life without Angel, the thing we just saw was rated PG compared to the rest of the stuff we do."
She blushed, looking down. She felt the sexual tension between them; had actually felt it occasionally in the past, but chalked it up to her imagination.

She stood up, eager to be alone once again with the book, this time savoring every delicious detail, learning everything she could. When she returned to her watcher, she would know what he liked and how he liked it.

"Gotta go." She blurted out, taking the book from his unwilling hands. They rose together, in one fluid motion.

She stopped at the front door, turning briefly. "Looks like things would've been a lot different if Angel wasn't around." She chose her phrasing carefully.

"Yes." He agreed.

"You know what?" She asked. "He's not around anymore." She pulled the door closed behind her, grinning as she pictured the look on his face, and as she pictured the one he would have later when she showed him that all she had learned.

She made a mental note to thank her crafty friend, and to help her repair that ceiling. It really was the least she could do.

END