The Liberation of Wesley
By Gibberish

Title: The Liberation of Wesley
Author: Gibberish
Disclaimer: They belong to Joss, the WB and whoever else that isn't me. I'm just borrowing. Giles may be a bit exhausted after I return him, but ...
Rating: NC-17 sex abounds. B/G
Spoilers: All over the place.
Summary: The Council has taken Wesley, Buffy and Giles set out to rescue him with some unlikely allies.
Timeline: After Grad 2, before college.
Distribution: Solo, Jessica, Sai. Anyone else, just ask.
Feedback: Be kind, no flames.


England

  Wesley looked around the locked cell in despair. The Council had locked him up for dereliction of duty. His duty to the Slayers. Faith dead, Buffy on her own. The Rebel Watcher and his Rebel Slayer. Did they know what had happened? Did they care?

 Wesley was no longer certain just how long he had been there. He didn't know if it were day or night. The worst part was that he was no longer certain if he cared.

 

Sunnydale

   Buffy patrolled through one of the cemeteries. It was quiet. There was a serious lack of demonic activity since the failed Ascension. It was quiet, it was serene and Buffy Summers was going out of her mind with boredom. "C'mon?" Buffy groaned in to the silent night. "Just one vamp." She walked on. Suddenly, she turned in a defense posture.

 "Ask and ye shall receive Slayer." Spike said as he leaned against a tree.

 "What are you doing here Spike?" Buffy asked warily. "You stay away from my Mom and you stay away from Willow." She warned.

 "I can have anyone else?" Spike asked wickedly. "Don't get your knickers in a twist, Slayer. I'm not here for the Witch. Although, your Mum makes a hot chocolate to ..." He grinned. "... Die for."

 "Feeling suicidal are you Spike?" Buffy asked in a dangerous voice.

 "I ain't stupid Ducks." Spike told her. "Your Mum's safe from me. I need to talk to you and your Watcher."

 Buffy's eyes narrowed. "Why?"

 "Just bring him to the mansion." Spike told her. "I know you don't trust me, but there's something you two need to know."

 "So tell me." Buffy said through gritted teeth.

 "Sorry Ducks." Spike said cheerfully. "You're supposed to find out together."

 "And who made that rule?" Buffy asked sarcastically.

 "Whistler."

 

   "Whistler?" Giles asked. He looked at Buffy. She had arrived a few minutes before with her rather bizarre tale.

 "Strange little demon that switched sides." Buffy told him. "Helped with Acathala."

 "You never mentioned him before." Giles commented.

 "Yeah, I did." Buffy said, then looked uncertain. "Didn't I?"

 "I'm sure I would remember a good demon named Whistler." Giles stated with absolute certainty.

 "Anyway," Buffy moved on. "What about Spike? Do you think we should trust him?"

 "No." Giles told her. "But we should find out what he wants. Lead the way."

 

   Buffy and Giles made their way to the mansion. They checked thoroughly before they went inside. Spike appeared to be alone, but they remained cautious.

 "I'm hurt, truly, that you don't trust me." Spike said drolly.

 "Cut the crap Spike." Buffy told him. "And get to the point. How do we know that Whistler really sent you?"

 "He didn't send me." Spike corrected. "Just said that he made the rules. He told me to ask you how raiding an Englishman's fridge is like dating a nun."

 Buffy looked at him oddly and pain crossed her face as she remembered the conversation. She and Whistler had been in Giles' house. Giles had been at the mansion being tortured by Angelus.

 "Buffy, are you all right?" Giles asked concerned.

 "Yeah." Buffy said softly without meeting his eyes.

 "Well, Slayer?" Spike said. "You gonna tell me? How is raiding an Englishman's fridge like dating a nun?"

 Buffy looked at him and answered dully. "You're never going to get the good stuff."

 "The wanker." Spike said miffed. Even Giles looked a bit insulted.

 <Thanks Whistler.> Buffy thought. "So, what's the big news that you couldn't tell me without Giles?"

 "Council's grabbed your Watcher." Spike told them. They looked at him blankly. "The other one. The upstart."

 "Wesley? Why?" Buffy asked.

 "Dereliction of duty." Giles said. "Damn! I never thought that they would do that."

 "Do what?" Buffy asked.

 "It's an archaic Council law." Giles informed her. "Hasn't been dusted off for three centuries."

 "That doesn't tell me what it means Giles." Buffy pointed out.

 "It means they've locked him up." Spike said.

 "Travers doing, I'd wager." Giles commented. "The man's a ..." He looked at Buffy and cut his words off.

 "What will they do to him?" Buffy asked. She'd heard Giles do some pretty creative swearing in the last few months. It must be bad if he wouldn't say it. "Will they hurt him?"

 "Undoubtedly." Giles responded. "If they haven't already."

 "Wesley doesn't take pain well." Buffy said worriedly. "We have to do something."

 "Do what, exactly?" Giles asked warily. He knew his Slayer.

 "We can't just leave him there." Buffy said.

 "And what do you suggest we do?" Giles asked, even though he knew the answer.

 "We get him out." Buffy said simply.

 Spike watched them fascinated. They had forgotten about him. He knew what they would decide. The arrangements had already been made. That's why he had to tell them together. Whistler didn't want either one of them attempting the rescue alone.

 "And do you have any idea of how we should go about that?" Giles asked. "We don't even know where he is."

 "That's what I'm here for." Spike said easily. "I know where he is." The Slayer looked at him suspiciously, he understood that. The Watcher, though, looked at him angrily.

 "Thank you so much." Giles said acidly.

 Spike understood now. He'd never seen people so bloody protective of a Slayer. "Look Mate," He said to the Watcher. "I didn't set all this up, Whistler did. He didn't want either one of you going after the dolt alone."

 "Wesley may be excessively annoying, but he isn't a dolt." Buffy told him.

 "Thought you didn't like him." Spike commented "We made our peace before he left." Buffy said quietly. "He doesn't deserve this. The Council had no right. The last thing they did that was of any use was sending Giles. Quite frankly, I don't think they knew what they were doing. Where is Wes?"

 Spike looked at his watch. "Meet back here in two hours. Be ready for a long trip." He looked at the Watcher, took in his attire. "I recommend you leave the suits behind." Giles returned Spike's look with narrowed eyes. "And Whistler said to warn you." Spike continued. "They're watching you."

 "The Council?" Buffy asked. "They've been watching for a while. They're really not very good at it."

 "Can you keep them from knowing you're gone?" Spike asked.

 "For a while, maybe." Buffy told him. She tilted her head to the side. "What's your stake in all this?" She asked Spike.

 Spike laughed shortly. "I'm Whistler's latest recruit. Truth is, I don't have much of a choice."

 "Is that supposed to reassure us?" Giles asked. "Because I find that I am unimpressed."

 Spike looked at the man. He looked mild mannered, until you looked into his eyes. His eyes were the only obvious reminder of what this man had endured at the hands of Angelus. Of what he was capable, should you threaten his Slayer. This was not a man to underestimate. "Reassurance isn't in my job description."

 "No kidding." Buffy said drily. "Try anyway."

 "Like I said, I don't have a choice." Spike told her. "Whistler saw to that. Like it or not, I'm on your side now. Here I am."

 "Oh yes, that's so much better." Giles' voice dripped sarcasm.

 

   Giles went home and so di Buffy. Buffy packed a duffle bag with practical (for her) clothes. She filled her supply bag until it wouldn't hold anymore. She wrote a quick note for Willow and told her what she could, which wasn't much. She asked her to help her Mom retain the illusion that she was there.

 Then, she left her bags in the upstairs hall and went into her Mom's room. She sat on the edge of the bed and gently woke her. "Mom."

 Joyce awoke with a start. "Buffy? What is it? Is something wrong?"

 Buffy stopped her from turning on a light, "I have to go away for a while Mom. And I need you to do something for me."

 "Go away?" Joyce echoed. "Where? Why? Has something happened?"

 "It's better if you don't know." Buffy told her. "Someone's in trouble. And I have to go. I don't know how long I'll be gone."

 "Buffy ..." Joyce began worried and confused.

 "I have to Mom." Buffy said firmly. "If I don't, ... Someone could die. I need you to act as if I'm still here. Sick or something." She hands her the letter for Willow. "Will and the others can help. This will explain to her what I need for her to do. And no, I didn't tell her where I was going or why."

 "Are you going alone?" Joyce asked. Buffy shook her head. "Is Mr. Giles going with you?"

 "Yes." Buffy said. "There's three of us, maybe a fourth at some point." Joyce dreaded her next question. "Angel?"

 Buffy shook her head again. "No. Though he would if we asked." She took a deep breath. "He may end up in Sunnydale if he's need. Willow and Oz know how to reach him if necessary." She hugged her Mom. "I hated to wake you, but I didn't want to leave with just a note."

 Joyce hugged her back. She didn't want to let go. "Be careful."

 "I will." Buffy assured her. "Don't worry, Giles will take care of me."

 "Take care of each other." Joyce told her.

 "I love you Mom." Buffy told her and pulled back.

 "I love you too." Joyce returned. She watched her daughter go. Go to face God knew what.

 

   Buffy returned to the mansion. Once again, she checked it out carefully before she went inside. She waited, with Spike, for Giles and paced the entire time.

 She stopped, stunned when Giles walked in. He wore a pair of faded jeans, a T-shirt and a black leather jacket. He carried duffle and weapons bags much like her own. She looked him over, it was a shame he didn't dress like that all the time.

 "Everybody ready then?" Spike asked.

 

   "Oh, this looks like fun." Buffy said flatly as she looked around their 'accommodations'. It was an old, battered cargo ship. They were in one of the holds.

 "It'll do." Giles said quietly. He preferred it to the old cargo plane they'd taken to New York from Sunnydale. Quite a chance Spike had taken with that. He looked at their guide.

 Spike had gone over to a crate, opened it and started tossing out blankets. "All the comforts of home." He nodded towards another crate. "Food in there."

 "And yours?" Giles asked.

 "I know where it is." Spike stated.

 "I don't want to come across any bodies Spike." Buffy warned.

 "You won't." Spike responded, none too happy.

 "I hope someone brought a deck of cards." Buffy muttered.

 Giles laid out several of the blankets, making two make shift beds. Close, but not too close, together. "You should get some rest Buffy." Giles told her.

 "What about you?" Buffy asked in response. "You've been up longer than I have and you didn't nap on the plane."

 "I'm quite used to little or no sleep." Giles replied.

 Buffy shrugged. "So'm I."

 "Go to sleep Buffy."

 Spike watched them in amusement. They didn't trust him, not that he blamed them. He made no secret of the fact that he didn't want to be there, even though that wasn't quite true. He looked at the pair arrange themselves and had to wonder if Angel knew what was up with them. Spike grinned, maybe they would let him tell him. <This might not be so bad.>

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

  Buffy rolled over in her make shift bed and faced Giles. As tired as she was, she couldn't sleep. She was cold and frightened. Plus, with Spike so close she was Slayer tense. She looked at Giles as he faced her. His eyes were closed and she was pretty sure he was asleep. She scooted closer to him and gently, so as not to wake him, put her hand on his much larger one.

 Giles, however, was not asleep. He turned his hand over and held hers firmly, but gently. "What is it Buffy?" He asked softly.

 "I can't sleep." Buffy told him, then mumbled, "And I'm cold."

 Giles leaned up on his elbow and looked at her carefully. "No, it's more than that." Her face was filled with apprehension. "Are you worried about Spike?"

 Buffy shook her head. "Not really."

 "Then, what is it?" Giles asked again.

 "Wesley." Buffy finally told him, her voice barely audible. "It's my fault."

 "It's not your fault." Giles assured her. "This is Travers doing."

 "To get at me." Buffy stated. She shivered from the cold and something else.

 Giles tugged on her hand until she scooted closer. Normally, he wouldn't have dared this, but these were extenuating events. He wrapped his arms around her and felt her snuggle into them.

 "How can you be so warm?" Buffy asked with a sigh as his body heat began to seep in to her body. "Giles?"

 Giles wasn't about to answer her last question. "Hmm?" He responded as he attempted to sound distracted. He was. He rubbed his hands on her back and arms.

 The sound rumbled through her ear where it rested on his chest, she shivered again. Giles wrapped the blankets tightly around her. "Will they kill Wesley?" Giles froze and that was answer enough for her. "Why?"

 "It's power Buffy." Giles told her. "Control. Don't worry, we'll get him out
all right."

 "Then what?" Buffy asked. "Who's next? Will they keep getting closer to me? Dad? Oz? Xander? Willow? My Mom?" She pulled back and looked at him. "You?"

 "I don't know." Giles told her sadly, not quite aware of the order she had just used. "They might." He admitted.

 "What do we do?" Buffy asked. "We have to do something."

 "How?" Giles asked. "We can't take on the entire Council."

 "Maybe ... Maybe we don't have to." Buffy said desperately. "Maybe just Travers. They can't all be like him. They sent Merrick. And they sent you. And Wesley isn't a terrible person."

 Giles' arms tightened around her. "There used to be some very good people on the Council. I haven't a clue as to what could have happened that they would allow this though."

 "Can you find them?" Buffy asked. "After we get Wesley free?"

 "Perhaps." Giles answered noncommittally. He had a pretty good idea of where she was headed with this. It could work. Or, it could make things worse. He nudged her head back down to his chest, unable to release her now she was there. "Sleep now. We'll start planning our strategy tomorrow. And for the rest of the voyage, you'll need to train like never before."

 "First Spike. Now extra training." Buffy sighed dramatically. "The Council is so going to pay for this."

 

   They had already eaten and begun training when Spike joined them. He watched them and had to admit, they were a helluva pair. They fought each other hand to hand and even though he could tell they were holding back, they were still going at it pretty good. "Well, it's nice to know you can entertain yourselves."

 "Where are they holding Wesley?" Giles asked without preamble or losing his concentration.

 Spike leaned against a crate. "Just outside London."

 "Which direction?" Giles asked next as he and Buffy continued to spar.

 "South." Spike told him.

 "Stanton's estate?" Giles questioned further.

 Spike's eyes narrowed and he straightened from the crate. "How'd you know that?"

 Giles finally called a halt to the training and looked at Spike. "As soon as Buffy left the Council, I made it my business to know." He took a drink from a water bottle that sat on a nearby crate, then handed it to Buffy. "I know them, I know their families and I know who they're sleeping with." He gave a half smile. "Actually, most of them aren't sleeping with anyone. Probably why they're so ... Unpleasant."

 "All that pent up frustration isn't good for you." Buffy concurred.

 "Oh and by the way." Giles said almost off hand, which put Buffy immediately on alert. "I've made arrangements for some ... assistance, once we reach London."

 "What kind of ... assistance?" Spike asked warily.

 Buffy looked at Giles closely and tried to read his expression. Then it clicked and her eyes widened. "No!" She said adamantly.

 "I'm afraid so." Giles returned.

 "Are you crazy?" Buffy asked. "I trust him even less than I trust Spike. At least Spike isn't a coward."

 "He's just goin' to help me with a bit of magick." Giles said, unaware that his accent had slipped.

 "What kind of magick?" Buffy asked. "Ethan doesn't do good magick.

 "Exactly why we need him." Giles pointed out.

 Buffy threw up her hands and walked off, muttering under breath. 

Spike snorted a short laugh. What had they said about frustration?

 Giles looked at Spike. "So what is Whistler's grand plan?"

 "I never said he had one." Spike told him.

 "Just bloody fantastic." Giles muttered. "Will he be joining us in London?"

 Spike shrugged. "Didn't say."

 "What did he say?" Giles asked.

 "I already told you." Spike said. "If he knows more, which he probably does, he didn't tell me."

 This time it was Giles that walked off muttering and Spike grinned.

 

   They passed days like that. They trained, even Spike, they ate and they slept. After that first night, Buffy and Giles slept together. Nothing sexual, they just both felt the reassurance of the physical contact. At least, that's what they told themselves. Spike watched them with a humorous eye.


London

   Wesley waited. How long had he been there? Days, weeks? And still he waited. Travers told him they wouldn't come for him and Wesley tried not to believe him. The truth was though, that he couldn't think of a single reason why they should. They would be happy to see the last of him. Wesley shut his eyes on the memory of his last meeting with Buffy.

 "Wesley, I'm not going back to the Council." Buffy said. "They don't care about me. Nothing I've done matters to them."

 "That's not true Buffy." Wesley stated, though he knew very well it was true. "Buffy, you don't know what they'll do." He finally told her. His voice, barely audible.

 Buffy looked at him oddly. "So, why don't you tell me? Is it what they would have done to Faith? Put me on trial and put me to death? They can't do that. I haven't done anything. Wesley, I've fought for nearly four years, what have they done for me? They sent me Merrick. They sent me Giles. That was it. The one time I ask them for help, they say no. Why do I need them? I don't."

 "Buffy, the Council ..." Wesley began.

 "Screw the Council!" Buffy said. "If you were smart, you'd dump them too. They don't care about you either. If they did, they wouldn't have sent you so  ... unprepared."

 Wesley knew she was right, but he didn't know anything else.

 Wesley wished he'd listened. Buffy was wrong about one thing though, a trial would not enter into it.

 

  The ship docked in Liverpool. Once night fell, they left the ship and headed for London. Spike swore that the car had been left for them, but Buffy and Giles weren't certain they believed him.

Giles directed them to a small pub in the heart of London. Giles wanted to go in alone, but Buffy refused to let him out of her sight. Spike joined them because, ... well, it was a pub.

 Once inside, Giles lead the way to a back room, a room for private games of pool. Inside was one man.

 Ethan looked up from his shot as the trio entered. He looked at his old friend up and down. "Welcome home Ripper."

 "Did you do what I ask?" Giles asked without preamble. 

"Asked?" Ethan echoed. "Sounded more like a threat to me." He took his shot. "It's set for tomorrow night." He missed the shot.

 "Never could play worth a damn." Giles commented.

 "Don't start with me." Ethan said easily. "You up for a game?" He asked.

 "Why the hell not?" Giles commented. "Can't do anything 'til tomorrow anyway."

 Buffy and Spike looked at each other, then back to the other two. Giles' accent had slipped again. "Giles?" Buffy said uncertainly.

 Giles looked at Buffy and Spike. "You playin' or watchin'?

 Spike took off his duster and grabbed a cue stick.

 "Buffy?" Giles asked. "You play pool?"

 "A bit." Buffy admitted. "But not for a long time."

 "There's your handicap Ripper." Ethan told him.

 Giles shrugged, unconcerned. "Rack 'em." He told Ethan.

 Ethan broke and managed to a couple of shots. Then came Giles turn and Buffy watched fascinated as he played with a skill she couldn't believe. He made it look easy. Spike took his own turn, and while he wasn't as good as Giles, he was better than Ethan.

 Then, it was Buffy turn. She took off her leather jacket, and after a moments consideration, her flannel shirt. Clad in one of her shoestring tops and tight blue jeans, she moved to take her shot, unaware of three admiring gazes.

 Giles had a marvelously unobstructed view of her backside, and he stared at it transfixed. Ethan and Spike, however, were on the other side of the table. Bent down, Buffy's top gaped and when she made her shot, her breasts jiggled. Not a one of them noticed that Buffy made her shot. 

Buffy moved around the table as she studied it. The views, this time were now reversed. Giles swallowed with difficulty. He tried to look away, but couldn't. When she made her shot, he nearly groaned. When he finally managed to tear his eyes away for fear of a stroke, he saw the other two men enjoying the view he had a moment ago. "Ethan, Spike." Giles said in a low, dangerous voice.

 The two men looked at him guiltily, but defiant. Buffy looked at him bewildered. The pool game was a little strained after that. Buffy and Giles won, but a glare from Giles prevented Ethan from suggesting a rematch.

 All three men watched in regret as Buffy put her shirt and jacket back on. "Where do we go from here?" Buffy asked, oblivious to the undercurrents going on around her.

 Ethan grinned. "That would be my place. Plenty of room."

 "You've got to be kidding." Buffy said flatly and looked at Giles. Giles looked sheepish. "Actually, he's not." Buffy looked at him in disbelief and he tried to explain. "Who'd look for us at Ethan's?"

 "First Spike, then the boat and extra training and now Ethan." Buffy muttered to herself. "Travers is so going to die."

  "Not something I have a problem with Ducks." Spike said happily. Buffy rolled her eye and moved to stand next to Giles.

 

   As they followed Ethan, Spike, Giles and Buffy were quiet. There was a tension that hadn't been there before and Buffy couldn't stand it any longer. "What did I miss?" She finally asked.

 Giles looked at her, his expression carefully blank and Spike kept his eyes on the road for the first time they had gotten into the car. Buffy looked from one to the other, then settled on Giles. "Giles?"

 "How could you have missed anything?" Giles asked. "You were right there." "I don't know, but I missed something." Buffy returned. Again, she looked from one to the other. "Was it Ethan?"

"Look Ducks," Spike began. "When you ..."

 "Spike." Giles' hard tone sliced through the car.

 "Don't you think she should know?" Spike asked in return.

 "Not here, not now, not you." Giles said firmly. Spike shrugged.

Buffy looked at Giles again. "Giles?"

 "Not now Buffy." Giles told her.

 Buffy gave him a look that clearly said that they would discuss it later and Giles nodded.

 They reached Ethan's row house on the edge of town. "Home sweet home. Ethan said as he opened the door.

 Buffy hadn't known what to expect. Ethan was ... well, Ethan. But, it was very nice. Apparently, Ethan liked nice things.

 "Bedrooms are on the third floor." Ethan told them. "They're are two, besides mine." He smirked. "Divide them how you wish." He looked at Buffy.

"You could make it simple and share min ..." He choked on the last word as one of Ripper's hands gripped his throat tightly.

 "Don't." Giles warned. His tone and his look were a warning as well. His grip tightened a fraction before he let go.

 Buffy watched wide eyed. Spike reminded himself not to underestimate that
man.

 Giles looked at Buffy. "Tomorrow's going to be a long day." Buffy nodded and followed Giles up the stairs and to one of the bedrooms.

 Ethan and Spike exchanged amused looks.

 

   Buffy and Giles walked into one of the bedrooms and Giles closed the door behind them. He looked at Buffy suddenly awkward. "Are you certain about this?" He asked and gestured at the bedroom. It had seemed perfectly natural, until he had closed the door. "I could find ..."

 "No." Buffy said quickly. "I really don't trust Ethan. Or Spike particularly. I'd feel better if we stayed together." She shrugged
self-consciencely. "Do you mind?"

 "O-of course not." Giles said stiffly.

 Giles looked around the room curiously. A large four poster bed, an oak dresser, full length cheval mirror, a night stand and a connecting bathroom.

"Ethan has better taste than I would have thought."

 Giles looked around as well. "Ethan's always had expensive tastes."

 Buffy looked at him. "You gonna tell me now? About what you wouldn't let Spike tell me?" She asked.

 Giles took a deep breath. He took Buffy by the shoulders and stood her in front of the mirror. He took off her jacket and threw it on the bed, next came the flannel shirt and it joined her jacket.

 "What are you doing?" Buffy asked confused and a bit nervous.

 Giles didn't answer, he moved to stand behind her. "Position yourself as if you were taking a pool shot."

 Buffy looked at him still confused. "What?"

 Giles once again took her shoulders, he turned her back to face the mirror again. Then, he pushed her over so that she was bent at the waist. "Look at the mirror." He instructed. Then, he took her hands and moved them in an imitation of a pool shot. The feel of her, as well the sight disturbed him more than he wanted to admit.

 Buffy gasped and straightened. "Why didn't you tell me?"

 Giles flushed and wouldn't meet her eyes, as he carefully moved away from her. "I-I didn't wish to embarrass you. I didn't let them look."

 "They looked? "Buffy asked. "Ewww!" She made a face and didn't notice Giles' reaction.

 "I suggest we get some rest." Giles told her. He refused to comment on who had enjoyed the view. He had no right to criticize the others. <Who wouldn't have looked?> He asked, as if that were an excuse. He watched Buffy gather her clothes and head into the bathroom to change. How would she feel if she knew that he had not only looked, but had enjoyed it immensely?

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

 When Buffy came back out a few minutes later, Giles was already in the bed. The very edge of the bed and facing away from her. She bit her lip. Since they had started this, she hardly recognized him. He seemed ... Dangerous. She sat on the bed and turned out the light. She slipped under the covers as she laid down.

 Buffy thought more about the change in Giles.  No matter how much he slipped in to Ripper mode, she wasn't scared, not of him. She trusted him. She loved him. It bothered her that he might never know that. They had never talked said, never talked about it. Strange that an outsider had been the first to bring it up.

 Travers was wrong though, father and daughter did not describe them, not exclusively. Name any possible relationship between a man and a woman and they shared it to some extent. Father/daughter - okay, upon occasion. Brother/sister - more and more often. Mother/son - sometimes. Husband/wife - she had to admit there were elements, more so lately. They were all that and so much more. They depended on each other for their very lives on a daily basis. And, although lovers had never entered into it, they were intimate. Intimate in a way that came from sharing everything, except their bodies.  Buffy thought about whether he knew how much he meant to her. She rolled over and pressed against his back. She felt him freeze as she wrapped her arm around his waist and pressed her cheek to his back and held him tight. It felt so nice. "Giles?"

 Giles barely managed to hold himself still. "Is something wrong Buffy?" His voice sounded strained even to his own ears. Her hand moved to rest over his heart.

 "I love you Giles." Buffy said softly. "I just wanted you to know that before ..."

 Giles felt her sigh against his back. "I know Buffy. And I- I love you too." She'd had too much time to think about what could happen tomorrow night.

"We'll get through this. And we'll get Wesley out all right."

 "Why don't we ever talk about it Giles?" Buffy asked.

 Giles didn't pretend to misunderstand. "We've never needed to." He put his hand over hers on his chest and linked their fingers. He knew they were headed in to dangerous territory, but he could never deny her comfort. "And, I don't think that words are quite adequate."

 "I'm scared Giles." Buffy whispered.

 Giles rolled around then and took Buffy into his arms and put her head on his chest. "I know. It will be all right. I promise."

 They fell asleep like that, wrapped in each others arms. Each thinking how nice it felt, how much better they felt knowing that the other was just a touch away.

 

   Ethan and Spike, instead of going to bed, went to Ethan's study. Ethan looked at Spike as he handed him a brandy. "How did you know that he would contact me?" Ethan asked as they settles in the wing chairs in front of the fireplace.

 Spike took a sip of excellent brandy. "Studied him. He'd make a deal with the devil himself if it would protect his Slayer."

 Ethan laughed at the implication. "How long has that been going on anyway? Last time I saw him, he and Joyce were ... shall we say, familiar, though they were under the influence of a curse."

 Spike looked surprised. "Really. He really is a lucky bastard isn't he? I'm rather fond of Joyce. Nothing going on with him and the Slayer. Yet. Soon though if I don't miss my guess."

 Ethan grinned. "Maybe we could help it along then." He suggested

 Spike looked intrigued. "What d'you have in mind?"

 "Well, no magick." Ethan said. "Ripper would kill me. We'll have to think of something."

 

    Giles woke up to find a warm weight half on top of him. Buffy, still asleep, was lying half over him. One of her legs was thrown across his thighs, her arm across his stomach and her head rested on his chest. He nearly groaned at the sensations. He loved waking up with her in his arms, had gotten used to it quickly. How would he sleep without her  when they returned home? He allowed himself the luxury of a kiss on the top of her head, then extricated himself from her embrace. He gathered his clothes and went into the bathroom.

 When he came back out, Buffy was still asleep. He watched her with longing for a minute before he left the room, calling himself an old fool.

 He went downstairs and found Ethan and Spike in the kitchen. He noticed that the entire house as far as he could tell had been sunproofed. "We need to talk." He said as he walked in.

 Ethan gave him an amused look. "Shouldn't you be in a better mood?"

 Giles glared at him, but didn't respond to the taunt. "We need to find the best way to protect Buffy."

 "Protect the Slayer?" Spike asked. "Never seen anyone less in need of protection."

 "Nevertheless, we will protect her." Giles told him. "we'll cast several spells this afternoon. Protection spells, cloaking spells, anything we can think of that will give us the advantage. Make no mistake, they are expecting us." This surprised neither of them, he realized. He was certain that Buffy also knew.

 "If you knew it was a trap, why did you come?" Ethan asked, curious.

 "And let Buffy come alone?" Giles asked in returned.

 "Did you tell her it was a trap?" Ethan asked next.

 "Buffy knows a trap when she sees one." Giles told him.

 "And you let her come anyway?" Ethan asked surprised.

 "Let?" Giles echoed. "Do you really think I could have stopped her?" Ethan looked at Spike, who shook his head no, then looked back to Rupert.

"Time was, you could have stopped her." He commented.

 "When Buffy sets her mind to something, not even death will deter her." Giles said wryly. "Ripper at his worst wouldn't have stood a chance." He was unaware of the pride that sounded so loud to the other two. "The best I can do is help her and protect her any way I can." His eyes turned cold.

"Besides, I have my own score to settle with Travers."

 Travers must have hurt Buffy, Ethan decided. He had met Travers, otherwise he might have felt sorry for the bastard.

 

   Buffy woke to an empty room. She knew it was empty before she even opened her eyes. She'd had the strangest dream. A castle and a tower and a dragon. She knew it meant something. Not exactly prophetic, but something. What? And ... Who was the knight?

 She got up and went into the bathroom. It wasn't until after she had dried off from her shower that she realized that she had forgotten to bring her clothes in with her. She tucked the large towel around her and went into the bedroom.

 And found Giles, looking for something. "Buffy have you seen ..." His words trailed off as he saw her. She stared back at him in nothing but a towel and a surprised expression.

 "Forgot my clothes." Buffy said weakly. She had had her fair share of male attention, but she'd never felt like this from a simple look. Of course, there was nothing simple about his look. "G-Giles?" She sounded breathless.

 Giles snapped out of it when he heard his name. His eyes met hers for a brief moment before he turned and silently left the room.

 Buffy stood rooted, she felt seared by his last look. It was a full two minutes before she thought to move.

 

   Giles went downstairs and passed Ethan and Spike without noticing them. They exchange a look and followed him. Giles went into the study, straight to the bar, poured himself a scotch and downed it in one gulp. He considered another one, but decided against tit. One might ease the tension, two could have him back upstairs.He turned around and found Ethan and Spike watching him.

 Ethan knew him well enough to know what the drink was for, to an extent.

What had happened up there? "You all right?"

 "We have plans to make." Was all Giles said. "Buffy will be down in a few minutes." Ethan and Spike exchanged another look. This time Giles saw it. He
narrowed his eyes. "What?"

 "Somethin' wrong with the Slayer?" Spike asked.

 "Not that I could see." Giles muttered.

 The other two drew their own conclusions and resisted grins.

 When Buffy did join them a few minutes after that, she and Giles couldn't meet each others eyes. Ethan and Spike watched, amused.

 They followed Ethan to the cellar, where He had set up an altar. Several protection and cloaking spells later, they were nearly finished.

 Giles picked up a small pair of scissors from the altar and turned to Buffy.

"May I?"

 "What?" Buffy asked, confused.

 "I need a lock of your hair." Giles explained.

 "Why?" Buffy asked next.

 "Just another protection spell." Giles said easily. He saw Ethan look at him sharply and ignored him.

 Buffy searched his expression for any hint of ... something. Finally she moved to stand in front of him, her back to him.

 Giles touched her hair and, unable to resist, ran his fingers through it. He felt her shiver. He took a small lock of hair, from underneath, where it wouldn't be noticed. He let his fingers linger just a moment before he moved away. "Why don't you and Spike double check the weapons? Ethan and I will finish up here."

 Buffy knew that he was just sending her off, she just didn't know why. She assumed that he didn't want her to witness any kind of dark magick. She knew he sensitive about that, especially after Eyghon. She just didn't understand why he needed her hair. She left wishing that she'd paid more attention when he and Willow talked magick.

 Ethan turned on Rupert as soon as the door closed behind Buffy and Spike.

"What the bloody hell do you think you're doing? You lied to her."

 "Since when did you become the spokesman for honesty?" Giles asked sarcastically. "And it is protection."

 "For her." Ethan pointed out. "How do you think she'll feel when she finds out?"

 "That's why I have no intention of her finding out." Giles said with an implied threat.

 "At least tell her the truth." Ethan urged.

 "Buffy is my responsibility and I will protect her the best I can. Giles said firmly. "I failed her once. I will not do so again."

 Ethan looked at him in incomprehension. "Failed her? How could you ..."

Realization dawned and even Ethan felt a bit horrified. "The Crucamentium?  You put her through it? Why?"

 "I had no choice." Giles said through clenched teeth. "You what the Council is like. I felt like I had some control. I didn't, but it felt like I did. At least in the beginning."

 "That's the score you have to settle with Travers. Isn't it?" Ethan asked. Giles eyes went cold as ice. "He let that monster take Buffy's Mother. You should have seen her Ethan. Battered, bruised, beaten, frightened. Physically and emotionally raw. Travers, so bloody arrogant and condescending. As if he had every right ... As if we had any right to torture her in that way. And it was torture, cruel and ... As if she were there for us to simply judge. It was unforgivable."

 "And yet, she has forgiven you." Ethan pointed gently.

 "Amazingly, she has." Giles agreed. "But, I will never forgive myself." He said quietly. "I put a needle in her Ethan. Poisoned her, weakened her. I saw what it was doing to her. The fear. I set her up to, in all probability, die. I don't think I can ever forgive myself for that." "Self pity." Ethan commented blandly. "That's a new look for you."

 "Self pity has nothing to do with it." Giles said harshly. "You weren't there Ethan, let it go."

 "You don't need to do this." Ethan said knowing he wasted his breath.

 "I want to do this." Giles said firmly. "For Buffy. They want her dead, they want a Slayer they can control. I had hoped that with the new Slayer, after Faith ... I had hoped that she would be enough."

 "But they're greedy bastards." Ethan concluded. "And they want you both dead. Rupert, Buffy is more than capable of taking care of herself. She'll need you at full strength to help her. She won't appreciate ..."

 "Just do it Ethan."

 

   Spike watched the Slayer as she double checked the weapons with a worried expression. "I think there are more weapons than we can use." Spike commented idly.

 Buffy looked at him. "Do you know what he's doing?" She pinned him with her eyes.

 Spike had some idea, but he wasn't going to tell her that. "Sorry Ducks. Magick isn't my strong suit. More Dru's line." He shrugged.

 Buffy didn't quite believe him, but she let it go. She really wasn't sure she wanted to know. She was certain that Giles wouldn't be calling any demons.

 Spike made a display of looking at his watch. "Just a few more hours. If you and the Watcher want to talk ... Or anything." He met the Slayer's eyes.

"Maybe you should do it now."

 Buffy's eyes widened. "What do you mean?"

 "I never took you for blind or stupid Slayer." Spike said. He'd never seen her look so vulnerable, not even when Angelus had held a sword to her throat.

"This may be your last chance." He pointed out gently.

 Buffy stood still and looked at Spike for a minute before she nodded. At him or herself, neither was certain. "I think the weapons are good."

 

   Spike watched the pair work their ritual. He told the Slayer the truth, he didn't know much about magick, but even he knew not to interrupt. He saw the Watcher slump against the table as they finished the incantation. Saw him drink the juice that Rayne handed him. Spike didn't say a word until Rayne began to clear the altar. "You might want to check on the Slayer."

 Giles immediately straightened and he looked at Spike. "What's wrong with Buffy?"

 Spike shrugged. "Not sure. She went upstairs to your room."

 "Did you do something to her?" Giles asked. Spike gave him his 'who me?' expression. Giles raised his eyes heavenward and went to check on her.

 Spike looked at Ethan, "What did he do?"

 Ethan shook his head. "Something very foolish. What did you do?"

 "Just a little nudge." Spike said with an attempt at an innocent expression.
 

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

Giles walked into their bedroom with a purposeful stride. "Buffy? Are you all ..." He stopped and his words trailed off. She stood in front of the mirror in a recreation of what he'd shown her the night before. Her top gaped, and since her back was to him, he also had a clear view of her backside. He stood transfixed at the sight.

 "you said that you didn't let them look." Buffy said, meeting his eyes in the mirror and slowly stood up straight. "It occurred to me that you didn't say that you didn't. Did you look?"

 Giles swallowed with difficulty and tried to read her expression, but couldn't. When she turned to face him, he found that he couldn't lie. Unable to speak, he simply nodded.

 Buffy walked towards him slowly. "And?"

 "And what?" Giles asked as she stopped just a foot in front of him.

 "Did I pass inspection?" Buffy asked as she looked up at him.

 Giles was uncertain of what she wanted. "Buffy, you don't need me to tell you how lovely you are."

 "Maybe that's exactly what I need." Buffy said softly. "You've never told me that before."

 "What is this all about?" Giles asked confused, yet excited.

 "Fear." Buffy stated simply. "I'm afraid that I won't have another chance ... That ..."

 "What do you want?" Giles asked.

 "Do you love me like a daughter?" Buffy asked in a near whisper. He was quiet for so long that she began to think that he wouldn't answer.

 "No." Giles answered finally, quietly.

 "How do you love me?" Buffy asked next.

 Giles gave an almost smile. "Let me count the ways." Her eyes asked for more, but he didn't know what. "I love you. Isn't that enough?"

 "Not today." Buffy told him. "I need more than the words. I need you to show me."

 To say that Giles was shocked was an under statement. "Show you ... How?" Buffy leaned up and kissed him gently on the mouth. "The only way we haven't
shown each other." Giles stared at her in incomprehension. "Do you want to make love to me?" She asked, becoming uncertain.

 Giles' eyes widened, he was stunned. He reached out a hand and gently ran a finger down her cheek. "So beautiful." Buffy leaned in to his caress. "How could any man not want you? But Buffy ..."

 Buffy stopped his words with a hand over his lips. "No buts." She said softly. She replaced her hand with her lips and kissed him again.

 Giles tried to remain impassive at first, he really did. He wasn't certain where this had come from. Was she seeking comfort?  Had Ethan cast a spell? He felt her hands slide up his chest and all thoughts as to why fled.  All thought fled, period. His arms enclosed her small frame and held her close as he returned the kiss.

 Buffy relaxed against him when she felt him respond. Wrapping her arms around his neck, she opened her mouth in invitation and he swept his tongue inside. She slowly moved them to towards the bed when she felt his body' response to hers.

 When the back of her knees hit the bed, she grasped the hem of his T-shirt and broke the kiss just long enough to lift it over his head. She brought her mouth  back to his and she let her hands roam his chest. She was fascinated by his chest hair that tickled her palms. When Giles didn't reciprocate, she pulled her own top off, followed by her bra.

 Giles hands covered her breasts as Buffy placed soft kisses along his jaw, down his neck and across his chest. Her hand slid down to caress him through his jeans, he groaned and moved into her hand. At that point, he decided that she'd been in control long enough. He moved his hands from her breasts to under her arms, picked her up and threw her on the bed. Giles looked at her, sprawled on the bed and followed her down.

 Her breasts pressed tightly against his chest, he took her mouth again. He moved his hand over her stomach, to the snap of her jeans, undid them. With Buffy's help he pushed them off along with her panties.  Then, they went to work on his.

 In no time at all, they were both naked on the bed. Their hands, as well as their mouthes, explored each other. Giles slowly kissed down Buffy's body. He started on her neck, took his time on her breasts, then moved over her stomach and lower.

 

   Ethan and Spike sat at the kitchen table and played gin. The pair were oddly quiet as they played. Exchanging the occasional grins at the echoes that came from upstairs.

 "It would seem that Ripper has not lost his touch." Ethan commented blandly after a muted shout of 'Giles' from Buffy that was definitely a sound of pleasure.

 "I hate to admit it, but I rather like the Slayer and her Watcher." Spike said. "The fact that it'll annoy my brooding sire is a bonus though. Do you think they'd let me tell him?"

 "She run Ripper a merry dance." Ethan commented. "For however long she lives." Ethan turned thoughtful. "The one thing that I do not understand is why the Council would want to be rid of our Slayer and Watcher. They are quite an effective pair."

 "I've wondered that myself." Spike responded. "The Slayer took down Lothos and the Master. Not to mention that bloody demon Mayor and his renegade Slayer."

 "Renegade Slayer?" Ethan echoed. "That would be Faith, yes?" He looked at his cards and laid them down. "Gin."

 Spike narrowed his eyes. "You'd best not be cheatin' Mate." He threw his cards down. She lied comatose in Sunnyhell for the longest time. She and Dru had quite a bit in common that one."

 "A psychotic Slayer." Ethan commented. "Sounds like fun."

 "She and the Slayer fought it out." Spike told him.

 "And our own dear Buffy one, I assume, considering that she's here and the other has been replaced." Ethan said. "Perhaps we should look into this." He said almost idly. "Starting with Travers, I think."

 "Who'da thought that we would be helpin a Slayer?" Spike asked with a shake of his head.

 "What is the world coming to?" Ethan asked in return.

 

   Upstairs, Giles held Buffy tightly in the aftermath of their explosive lovemaking. "Giles?" Buffy said softly. "I'm not going anywhere."

 Giles relaxed his hold a bit, but did not let go. He was afraid that she'd vanish. "Why Buffy?"

 "I've done a lot of things I regret Giles." Buffy told him. "If I don't come back ... Well, I didn't want there to be one more. I wanted you to know."

 "What did you want me to know?" Giles asked, then held his breath, not even realizing that he did so.

 "That I love you." Buffy said. "More than anything."

 Giles closed his eyes and breathed again. "I love you too Buffy." He opened his eyes and looked at her upturned face. He leaned down, intending to give her a gentle kiss, but it escalated quickly.

 They took their time and once again explored each other's bodies. Buffy lightly raked her nails up the backs of his thighs, over his butt and his lower back, he shivered. Buffy ran his fingers lightly down her throat, between her breasts, over her stomach and hip to her thigh. He slowly reversed the trail up the back of her thigh, over one cheek, he stopped on her lower back. He gently let his fingertips trace the indention between her butt cheeks. He groaned into her mouth when she squirmed against him.  Buffy jerked when he slid two fingers into her from behind and her gasp broke the kiss. "God Giles!" She nudged him onto his back and straddles him. The knowledge that one or both of them might not return lent a certain desperation to their lovemaking. She looked down at him and he met her eyes, if one afternoon is all they might get, then they would make the most of it. Buffy leaned down and gently nipped his collar bone, then kissed the bite. She kissed her way to first one nipple then the other. She nuzzled her nose into his chest hair, before she kissed her way to his belly button. She dipped her tongue inside.

 Giles jerked in reaction to the touch of her tongue. His breaths came in pants as she moved farther down. His hands clenched and his hips rose off of the bed and his cry of "Buffy!" reverberated throughout the house when she took his tip into her mouth.

 (Downstairs, two pair of eyes shot to the ceiling.)

 Buffy put her hands on his thighs as she knelt between them. She brushed her thumbs against his balls and his hips rose once again off the bed.

 Giles wasn't certain just how much more he could take. He didn't think it was much. He tugged her hands until she slid back up his body. He brought her mouth to his as he positioned her hips. He thrust his hips up as he thrust his tongue into her mouth.

 He held her to him as he rolled them over and began to thrust into her with long powerful strokes. He slid his hands beneath her butt and angled her higher as she wrapped her legs around his hips. He relished the sounds she made with each of his hard thrusts, unaware of his own sounds of pleasure.

 "Giles!" Buffy cried out and shuddered as her inner muscles convulsed around him. His own hoarse cry of "Buffy!" followed a moment later.

 Giles laid gasping on top of Buffy, his body still shivered in pleasure. Buffy had never felt more complete in her life. This time, it was she that held him tightly. Giles kissed her softly and rolled to his side. His arms closed around her and he shut his eyes. "That was the most intense experience
of my life." He said as he tried to catch his breath.

 "That's good, right?" Buffy asked, her own breathing unsteady.

 "Good?" Giles echoed. "Try bloody incredible."

 "I think I truly understand the phrase 'dying of pleasure' now." Buffy said as she laid her head on his chest.

 

   Ethan looked at Spike. "I really should look into soundproofing those
bedrooms."

 Spike snickered. "How much longer should we give them?" He asked with a grin.

 "Too much longer and we won't have to worry about the Council doing Rupert in." Ethan commented wryly. "He'll collapse from exhaustion."

 "I'm not sure he'd care." Spike replied. "I can think of a lot worse ways to
go."

 "Preferable even to old age I should think." Ethan agreed.

 "Do you think we can keep them both alive through this mess?" Spike asked.

 "How long would one survive without the other?" Ethan asked in return. "No, we either keep both alive or, one way or another, we lose them both."

 "I guess we'll just have to make sure they both make it." Spike concluded.

 

   Upstairs, Buffy and Giles had started to dress, only to make love again. This time against the wall. They knew though that it was time. They dressed carefully, Giles in a black T-shirt, black jeans, and a black leather jacket. Buffy wore a black, long-sleeved top, black stretch pants. She, too, had a black leather jacket and they both had on black ankle boots. Buffy looked at him as they placed weapons on various in strategic places in their clothes. He didn't look quite as fierce as when he shoved that sword through the Mayor's heart, but close. She though he looked like a pirate, only one thing missing. She took one gold, hoop earring out of her own ear as she crossed the room to him. She reached up and put it in the whole in his left ear.

 "What's that for?" Giles asked, but didn't try to stop her.

 Buffy finished and lowered her arms. "Seemed right. It ... fit."

 Giles put a hand to her cheek. "Time to go Luv." He said softly.  Buffy put her hand over his and held it to her cheek. She closed her eyes, just for a moment, and took a deep breath. When she opened them again, they met his steadily. "Let's get Wes."

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

It was dark as the foursome hiked the last mile to the Stanton estate. There were guards, but thanks to Ethan, never saw the rescuers. The estate was old, at least five hundred years. Old enough to have a dungeon, so that's where they headed.

 The place was well guarded, but not as well as they expected. Buffy and Spike took turns knocking out the guards as they came across them. Giles and Ethan, with the help of some magick, made certain that they wouldn't wake for quite a while.

 They made their way slowly to the dungeon and managed to get separated. Buffy and Spike checked each cell as they went along. "Where the hell are they?" Buffy asked. "We were supposed to stay together."

 "I don't think it was deliberate." Spike responded.

 Buffy glared at him. "I didn't think it was." She said snippily. "It doesn't
tell me where they are though."

 "We just keep looking for the other Watcher." Spike said. "The others will
find their way there."

 

   The sound of a ruckus woke Wesley in his dingy little cell. <What is that?> Then he heard it. The most beautiful sound - Buffy was calling his name. "Buffy?!" He jumped off the bare cot and ran to the door. "Buffy!" He called back. He jumped back when something hit the door. "Buffy, are you all right?" Wesley called.

 Outside, Buffy kicked the door again. It didn't budge. "Spike." She looked at the vampire. "On three." Spike nodded. "Stand back Wes." She called. "One. Two. Three." They kicked and the door went down. A very scruffy looking Wesley stood on the other stunned on the other side.

 "You came." Wesley said amazed.

 Buffy smiled, "Why wouldn't we come Wes? We have to go now." Wesley nodded, but grabbed her up in a hug. "Oh Buffy, I am so glad that you are all right."

 Buffy gave him a quick hug back. "We have to find Giles Wes."

 "Seems we found you." Ethan commented.

 Buffy whirled around and saw extremely dis-sheveled Giles and Ethan. She ran over and threw herself into Giles arms. "You scared me." She pulled back.

"You were supposed to stay with us." She admonished halfheartedly.

 "Isn't this touching?" They looked towards the sound of the voice and saw Quentin Travers with a crossbow aimed at Giles. "So Rupert, you were foolish enough to come."

 "Only you would consider friendship foolish Quentin." Giles responded.

 "You know Council law Rupert." Travers said coldly. "Your lives are forfeit."

 "Hurt him, and the rest of your very short life will be filled with pain." Buffy said calmly.

 "Of course, I could do far worse than kill him." Travers stated. "I could kill you."

 "I really wouldn't try that Mate." Spike commented.

 "Another vampire." Travers sneered. "Spike, isn't it? Does this one have a soul to lose when you sleep with him?"

 Giles' eyes narrowed in cold fury. "One bolt Quentin." He pointed out in cold menace.

 "I think you first Rupert." Quentin aimed the crossbow steadily as he held up a revolver in his other hand. He started to squeeze the trigger of the
crossbow.

 Everything happened at once. The bolt shot out, Buffy threw herself in front of Giles and a knife flew out of Spike's hand and imbedded itself in Travers chest.

 Buffy fell into Giles' arms as the bolt hit her in the back. "Nooo!" Giles screamed. "Buffy?" He looked her over, the bolt had gone all the way through.and it's tip protruded out the front.

 "We need to get her out of here Watcher." Spike said as Giles tried to stem the flow of blood.

 "Rupert!" Ethan said sharply. Giles looked up at him. "She's not safe here." Giles snapped the bolt and lifted Buffy into his arms as a cold mask came over his features. "Let's go."

 Spike lead the way, removing remaining obstacles as he went. Wesley walked beside Giles and kept pressure on Buffy injuries. Ethan brought up the rear and kept an eye out for followers.

 Halfway to the car, Spike took the Slayer from her Watcher.  Buffy laid across Giles and Wesley on the ride back to Ethan's. Buffy was a bit out of it, but managed to ask a question. "Travers?"

 "He shouldn't be causing anymore trouble Pet." Spike told her. The rest of the ride was made in silence.

 Once back at Ethan's, Ethan went after the first aid supplies as Giles carried Buffy up to their room. Wesley and Spike followed Giles. They watched him as he gently laid Buffy on the bed on her uninjured side.

 "Spike." Giles said as he took a firm, yet gentle hold on Buffy. "Pull it out." He instructed as Spike joined him.

 Spike took a firm grip of what was left of the bolt and pulled it the rest of the way through in one quick motion. Buffy jerked in reaction. Spike sniffed the tip of the bolt. "No poison."

 Ethan came in with what looked like a small. suitcase. He set it on the bed and opened the first aid kit. He and Giles worked like an experienced medical team. From their youth, they were.

 Ethan put a towel or her upper body as Giles cut her shirt off. A lot of blood. "Must have nicked an artery." Ethan said.

 Buffy flinched against the pressure against her injuries. "Sorry Luv." Giles said softly.

 "Hurts." Buffy mumbled.

 "I imagine so." Giles commiserated. "When you're feeling better, we are going to have a very loud discussion about this."

 "Right." Ethan said. "As if you wouldn't have done the same bloody thing."

 "Shut up Ethan." Giles told him. Ethan grinned.

 "Did we get Wes?" Buffy asked weakly.

 Giles looked at Wesley. "He's here Luv."

 Wesley couldn't believe this young woman. There she was, seriously injured with blood loss and she asked about him. He remembered when she had nearly been driven insane. Her first question upon waking then had been for others then too. He was ashamed that he had ever believed her self-absorbed. "Yes, Buffy?"

 Buffy turned her head towards him. "Did they hurt you?"

 "I'm all right." Wesley said hesitantly. "You just rest."

 "No." Buffy said. "Have to find good Council."

 "What?" Wesley asked confused.

 Giles finished bandaging her. "Buffy believes that we could find support among the Council. She has hopes that they aren't all like Travers."

 "Are you certain that's wise?" Wesley asked.

 "What choice do we have?" Giles asked in return. "If we don't do something, they'll just keep coming after her."

 "Us." Buffy corrected. "Won't let them hurt you."

 Giles saw Ethan preparing a syringe. "What is that?"

 "Sedative." Ethan told him as he swiped Buffy's arm with alcohol and gave her the shot. "She needs rest. She'll be able to function though, should we need to move."

 Giles nodded and looked at Wesley. "Do you have any injuries that need tending?"

 "Nothing a hot shower wouldn't cure." Wesley replied. "Sleeping for a fortnight also sounds quite appealing."

 "I'll take care of him Rupert." Ethan said as he closed the first aid kit. "You just take care of your girl." Ethan ushered the other two out ahead of him and closed the door.

 Giles carefully removed Buffy's clothes and put her in a nightshirt. He changed himself into a pair of sweatpants, turned out the light and crawled in to the bed next to her. He arranged the covers around them, then carefully held her to him. "I thought I'd lost you."

 "Love you Giles." Buffy mumbled, more than half asleep.

 "I love you too." Giles said and kissed her gently.

 

   While Ethan cleaned up the junior Watcher, Spike backtracked. He made sure they hadn't been followed. When he was satisfied, he returned to the house. He found Ethan in his study, two drinks on the end table.

 "Well, we did it." Spike commented as he took one of the drinks and joined Ethan.

 "It's not over yet." Ethan returned.

 "Couldn't you let me have my moment?" Spike asked.

 "I know who Rupert will try to contact." Ethan said as if Spike had not spoken. "Why don't we make it easy for them?"

 "How do we do that?" Wesley asked as he walked in.

 Ethan and Spike looked at him surprised. "I thought you were asleep." Ethan commented.

 "I want to help them." Wesley stated.

 "Course you do Mate." Spike said easily. "Question is, are you up for it?

'Cause we're not talkin' rescue here. We're talkin' head on confrontation." Spike's voice clearly said that he didn't think that the Watcher was up for it.

 Wesley got an odd look in his eyes. He thought about what he'd been through since his return to England. That he'd been used by Travers from the beginning, he didn't doubt. He needed to know why. He looked at Spike. "I'm up for it."

 Spike saw his determination and nodded his head once. "Alright Mate." He looked at Ethan. "What's the plan?"

 "Buffy is in no condition to go and confront a member of the Council." Ethan said, "And Rupert isn't going to leave her side for now. So we bring him to them."

 "And if he doesn't want to come along nicely?" Spike asked with a grin. "We convince him." Ethan replied.

 

Two hours later, Spike and Ethan watched their unwilling guest and Wesley went to get Giles and Buffy.

 Wesley knocked and when nobody answered, he cautiously opened the door. He peered inside and saw that they both slept. They were on their sides with Giles snuggled up behind Buffy, his arm curled protectively around her middle. Wesley went over and gently nudged Giles' shoulder. "Giles."

 Giles woke, instantly alert. "What? What is it?"

 "Could you and Buffy come downstairs?" Wesley asked.

 "What?" Giles asked again.

 "We need you downstairs." Wesley said.

 Giles looked at a waking Buffy. "Both of us?""

 "Yes, I'm afraid so." Wesley said gently.

 "What's the matter?" Buffy asked sleepily.

 "We have a ... Visitor." Wesley hesitated over the last word.

 "What kind of visitor?" Giles asked.

 "You'd see of you came downstairs." Wesley said exasperated.

 Buffy and Giles looked at each other in silent communication. Giles sighed as they pushed back the covers. Wesley caught a flash of Buffy's legs and averted his eyes. He walked to the door and waited.

 "Have we shocked you Wes?" Buffy asked with a grin he could hear.

 "With what?" Wesley asked.

 In the process of helping Buffy put on some pants, Giles stopped. "Actually, you don't seem the least bit surprised to have found Buffy and I in bed
together."

 "Should I be?" Wesley asked. "The first time I saw you together, I had to wonder if Travers had gotten anything right. It took me a while to realize you weren't sleeping together. I figured it was only a matter of time though."

 "How ...?" Buffy tried to ask something.

 "Believe me, I wasn't the only one that saw it either." Wesley went on. "The day before Graduation I heard a conversation between Willow, Oz and Xander. They were speaking about Giles putting the sword through the Mayor. Lot of passion there. Even they weren't fooled after that."

 Buffy and Giles stared at each other.

 

   Wesley lead them to the basement. Giles helped Buffy down the stairs. They found a man being held in a chair by Spike and Ethan off to the side.
 "What the bloody hell ...?" Giles began. "Richard? Richard Stephenson?"

 The man looked at him. "Rupert? Good Lord, Travers was right. You've gone mad."

 "I've gone mad?" Giles asked. "What did you expect?"

 "Don't you dare try to put this off on him." Buffy said angrily. "He didn't try to get anybody killed. You people did that. That stupid test. You don't help when we need it. You locked Wesley up. You're the ones that did that."

 Richard looked at her blankly. "Test? Help? Who locked up Wesley? What are you talking about?" 

 "The Crucamentium." Giles clarified.

 Richard looked at him oddly. "Rupert, the Crucamentium has been used in nearly a century."

 "The test was given to Buffy." Giles said coldly.

 "Happy birthday from the Council." Buffy said bitterly.

 "The Council banned the test in 1903." Richard said carefully.

 "Then why did Travers force it on Buffy?" Giles asked angrily.

 "I don't know what you're talking about." Richard said.

 If the test wasn't even supposed to be given, then why was Giles fired?" Buffy asked. "Replaced. with Wes?"

 "What do you mean fired?" Richard asked.  "Wesley was sent to help. Gain experience. Not to replace anyone."

 "H-he fired Giles." Buffy said. "Told him not to interfere with the new Watcher." She looked at Wesley. "Tell him Wes."

 "It's true." Wesley said as he moved to stand on the other side of Buffy. She was now between the two Watchers.

 Richard slumped in his seat. "Tell me what happened."

 Giles told him. Told him of the injections. (He felt Buffy flinch.) Told him of his discussions with Travers. How Buffy's Mother had been involved. How Buffy had defeated the vampire.

 Richard's eyes lit with respect as he looked at the young woman nestled into Rupert's side. "Quite ingenious. Good for you."

 Giles went on to tell him how he interfered with the test and his subsequent firing. The Council's lack of assistance. Wesley's arrival and everything that led up to Graduation. Even Faith.

 "Who is Faith?" Richard asked.

 "Kendra's replacement." Buffy told him.

 Richard was confused and looked it. "And Kendra would be?"

 "You don't even know their names ..." Buffy began hotly. Then the real explanation hit her. "Oh God." She whispered.

 "They were Slayers." Giles said in a rather dead tone.

 "I thought she was the Slayer." Richard said, indicating Buffy.

 "Kendra was activated when Buffy died." Giles told him quietly as Buffy buried her face into his chest. "Buffy was revived, however she was dead long enough to activate another Slayer."

 "Incredible." Richard said amazed.

 "Kendra died, unfortunately there was no way to revive her and Faith was activated." Giles said, still quiet. "We don't know who replaced Faith."

 Richard looked at Rupert sadly. "Quentin was sent to evaluate you and the Slayer. To see how you work as a team. He reported that you were on your way to being out of control. Both of you. That you were working with vampires." He said the last with a look to Spike.

 "You have a Slayer that get vampires to turn on their own, and you think that's a bad thing?" Spike asked.

 "The vampires help you?" Richard asked looking at Buffy and Giles.

 "Upon occasion yes." Giles said. He didn't know why Spike had put it that way, but he'd play along. "Angel, of course, and Spike when it suits him."

 "He means Angelus, you know?" Spike pointed out. "He's in love with your little Slayer. Do anything for her. Including fighting on the side of good."

 "Angelus?!" Richard exclaimed. "He-he's one of the most viscous ... Not to mention psychotic."

 "Strange what love can do." Spike commented. "But there you have it."

 "And why do you help her?" Richard asked curious. "Are you in love with her as well?"

 "Oh yeah." Spike said mockingly. "That must be it." He was unaware that his hands tightened on Stephenson's shoulders as he looked the Slayer over. "Not so hard to believe, I suppose. However, my reasons are my own."

 Giles looked at him oddly, but said nothing. He then looked at Richard.

"Have you received any of my reports? Or Wesley's?" He asked him.

 "All we receive are the reports from Travers." Richard told him.

 "You're saying that Travers did all this on his own?" Buffy asked skeptically.

 "Oh, I seriously doubt that he's alone." Richard told her. "You wouldn't happen to know anything about the knife wound in his chest, would you?"

 "You mean he isn't dead?" Spike asked in disbelief.

 "No." Richard answered.

 "Bloody lucky bastard." Spike muttered.

 "You tried to murder him?" Richard asked horrified.

 "He shot the Slayer!" Spike exclaimed.

 "He was aiming for me though." Giles pointed out. "Do you believe us Richard?"

 "I don't know." Richard said tiredly. "It would explain a great deal, but ... Why? What does Travers hope to gain?"

 "Well, at the moment he most likely has the unknown Slayer under his influence." Ethan pointed out. "As far as the rest of the Council is aware, she doesn't exist. He couldn't control Buffy, so he tried to get rid of her." He saw Buffy flinch at his words. "Sorry Luv."

 Giles tightened his arm around Buffy. "Why lock up Wesley though? He had to have known that we'd come after him."

 "I didn't." Wesley said quietly. "What he did know was that if I returned to the Council proper, I would find out the truth. What a fool I was. Why would the Council send someone like me to replace someone like Giles?" He was talking to himself now. "Oh, he loves her ant fool could see that, but it never kept them from their duty.  Not even when they thought it was no longer his duty. Because they care. All of them, even the children. No, they haven't been children for a long time." He looked at Buffy and Giles, his expression lost. "Why? Why did you come after me?"

 "You're our friend Wes." Buffy said simply. "You stood with us against the Mayor."

 "For all of thirty seconds." Wesley mumbled.

 "But you tried Wes," Buffy said softly. "For us. You fought for what you believed in, not what you were told to. You're a good man."

 "Thank you Buffy." Wesley said a bit unsteadily.

 Buffy smiled up at him, then looked at Giles. "What now?" She looked at Spike. "I think you can let him up now."

 "You sure Pet?" Spike asked. At her nod, he released the Council man. Buffy looked at him. "So, Mr.Stephenson, what about Travers? He tried to kill us."

 "Right now, he's lying in a hospital bed unconscious" Richard said. "You must understand. What you're claiming is a serious crime within the Council."

 "It should be." Buffy stated. "He didn't even care that Kraylik nearly killed my Mom."

 Richard's eyes shot to hers. "Did you say Kraylik?"

 "Yeah." Buffy said uncertainly.

 "Dear God." Richard breathed. "He truly wanted you dead."

 "You never mentioned Kraylik before." Spike commented.

 "What's so special about Kraylik?" Buffy asked. "Aside from the fact that he's completely psychotic, even for a vamp."

 "Well, he was psychotic before he was vamped" Spike said. "Worse than Angelus for obsession."

 Buffy once again laid her head against Giles chest.

 Richard looked at them. Travers had said they were fond of each other, but not like this. This was ... "How long have you been ... Uh ...?"  Buffy blushed and Giles glared at him. Wesley responded. "What difference does it make?"

 Richard looked at him. "You know as well as I do that the Council ..." Wesley cut him off. "It has nothing to do with the Council, nor should it." He gave Richard a hard, significant look.

 "Ah." Richard said. "I see. Well," He moved on. "We need a plan."

 "To find out who's working with Travers?" Giles asked.

 "Exactly." Richard told him.

 "How do we know that we can trust you?" Buffy asked him. Spike and Ethan moved to stand behind her.

 Richard looked at them. This small, young woman, surrounded by these men. He'd known Rupert for years, Wesley as well. He'd never seen Wesley stand up for himself, let alone someone else. Yet there he stood. Rupert had that fierce look that Richard remembered. That barely restrained passion that had been missing for years.

 He knew who Ethan and Spike were, at least by reputation. He looked at the Slayer and she met his eyes steadily. What kind of magick did she wield? To have these men, so different, stand by her so. But he saw it. In her eyes, in theirs, not magick. "I suppose you don't." He answered her question finally, sadly. "Within the Council, the true Council, care of the Slayer is our most sacred duty. Yes, we send you out to fight, to possibly die, every day, every night. That is your most sacred duty. We are to watch over you, help you in any way we can. We teach, we train, we guide, but it is you that face the true horror."

 "I've never had to face those alone." Buffy said quietly. "Don't force others to."

 "Buffy ..." Richard began hesitantly. "Would you ... Well, when this is settled ... Perhaps you would address the Council?"

 "What do you mean?" Buffy asked, still feeling a little fuzzy around the edges due to the shot Ethan had given her. "'Cause if you tell them off, sign me up."

 "I think he means for you to speak with them." Giles explained. "Not yell at them."

 "Would they even listen to me?" Buffy asked.

 "Most would, I think." Richard answered honestly. "Most of us are aware that we are out of touch. The majority of us have never met a Slayer, let alone have the chance to speak with on directly."

 "I-I'll think about it." Buffy told him.

 "Fair enough." Richard responded.

 "We can worry about that after we've put a stop to Travers." Giles commented.

 "Just tell me where he is and I'll put a stop to him right quick." Spike told them.

 "Spike." Buffy said on a tired sigh. "Why do you do that? Murder is not an option."

 "But why Slayer?" Spike asked in a teasing whine. Buffy knew he was teasing, but she responded seriously. "Because I want to stop him Spike, not become him."

 And that is what finally convinced Richard that they were indeed telling the truth.

 "Well, since Wesley was being held at Stanton's estate," Giles said. "I think we can assume that he's involved."

 "Stanton?" Richard echoed. "No wonder Travers managed to pull this off for so long. Stanton sits at the highest levels of the Council. A scant few chairs from the Guardian herself."

 "Guardian?" Buffy echoed with a questioning look to Giles.

 "The head of the Council." Giles explained.

 "Cool. The head of the Council's a woman. Good for her." Buffy said cheerfully.

 "Buffy," Giles said kindly. "The Guardian has always been a woman. It's tradition. The Slayer is always a woman, so her Guardian should always be."

 "Wow, that actually makes sense." Buffy commented.

 "Buffy." Giles said.

 "Excuse me for being surprised." Buffy muttered. "It's probably in the handbook that I never got."

 Giles started urging Buffy towards the stairs. "Time for you to get back to bed."

 "You might want to let her get some sleep as well." Ethan said with a grin. A grin that widened when Buffy blushed.

 Giles glared at him. "Ethan." He warned. He quickly ushered her out of the cellar.

 "We may as well go up and be comfortable." Ethan commented and he and Spike headed up as well.

 "Give us a minute." Wesley said as he looked at Richard.

 Ethan and Spike exchanged dubious looks, but left them to it. Richard watched them until their were gone, then turned to Wesley. "What's going on
Wesley?"

 "Just what they said." Wesley told him. "Travers has put them through hell."

"You know that isn't to what I am referring." Richard said stiffly. "Rupert and the Slayer."

 "Her name is Buffy." Wesley said.

 "Wesley."

 "Richard. It has nothing to do with the Council." Wesley explained. "Nothing. He loves her more than anything. Council expectations have nothing to do with it. In point of fact, Buffy has no knowledge of such expectations. Not to mention that until a few moments ago, they were not Watcher and Slayer. Not to their minds."

 "What will the Council say?" Richard asked.

 "I have no intention of telling them." Wesley said simply. "I hope that you do the same."

 "But ..." Richard's words trailed off at the look in Wesley's eyes. "I don't understand Wesley. This is what the Council wants. What they've always hoped for. Why ...?"

 Wesley narrowed his eyes. "It isn't for the Council. They don't do anything for the Council. They do it because it's part of who they are. They care. They've given up or lost so much already, let them love each for no other reason save their own."

 

   Buffy and Giles laid next to each other, physically and emotionally exhausted, but unable to sleep. She rubbed her cheek against his chest where it rested. "Should I?" She asked.

 "Should you what Luv?" Giles asked in return as he lightly ran his finger tips up and down her side, shoulder to hip.

 "Address the Council." Buffy clarified. "What would I say to them?"

 "What would you like to say?" Giles asked.

 "I don't know." Buffy admitted. "I could have told you yesterday, but now ..." She sighed.

 "You'll think of something Luv." Giles told her as his fingers brushed the side of her breast. "How's your shoulder?" He asked with a quick, but thorough kiss.

 "Don't care." Buffy said, then kissed him while she let her own hand explore. "If you don't wish to speak with them, don't." Giles told her between kisses. "Though they could learn from your experience."

 "But would they?" Buffy asked as her hand slid over his stomach. His sweats did little to contain his erection. His body jerked when her hand encircled him and began a gentle stroking.

 "You won't know unless you try." Giles said, his voice strained, his hips thrusting in to her hand. His own hand slid under her shirt and covered her breast, his thumb brushing across the pebble hard nipple.

 With one hand Buffy started to push the sweats off of him. With his help, they were removed quickly. Along with her panties. They left the night shirt on so they would have to take it off over her sore shoulder. Giles did push the night shirt up and kissed her breasts reverently, before taking one completely into his hot mouth and gently sucking. His hand slid down between her thighs and teased her a little before he gripped her hips and set her astride him.

 Buffy wiggled atop him and he groaned. Buffy grinned down at him. She bent down and kissed him at the same time she lowered herself on to him. Twin moans of pleasure echoed.

 

   That evening found them on their way to the Guardian's home. The lot of them, even Spike. They went around the back to the loveliest garden, so Spike wouldn't be invited in, and yet not left out. On the terrace, at a table, sat the tiniest little old lady that Buffy had ever seen.

  Richard led them to the table and made introductions. The Guardians name was Lady Ann Remington. She had shrewd eyes and a kind face. The men all bowed, even Spike. Buffy stood there assessing the woman.

 "So you're the young lady that I've heard so much about." Lady Ann said. She looked at Richard, Giles and Wesley. "And you three, what has been going on in this Council?"

 "As I explained My Lady, it seems our Mr. Travers attempted a coups." Richard said bluntly.

 Lady Ann looked at Giles. "Is that what you would call it Rupert?" She asked.

 "I, Lady Ann, would call it attempted murder." Giles said even more bluntly.

 Lady Ann then looked at Buffy. "And you Miss Summers?"

 "I just want to know what you're going to do." Buffy said.

 The three Watchers looked at Buffy with wide eyes. Ethan and Spike held back grins. Lady Ann's eyes twinkled. "Right you are my dear. Please, sit down."

 They all sat and Lady Ann poured tea for all. "Well, Travers, Stanton and the others will stand trial. If found guilty, they will be locked up."

 "What happens if they aren't found guilty?" Buffy asked. "They get to try again?"

 "I have few doubts that a guilty verdict will be dealt." Lady Ann assured her. "With your testimony and the testimony of others, including Mr. Zubutu, everything is in order. That and the fact that Mr. Travers was kind enough to have notes."

 Buffy closed her eyes and a tear leaked out. When she opened her eyes they sought Giles'. He smiled at her and gently wiped her cheek with his handkerchief.

 Lady Ann watched in wide eyed fascination.

 

Sunnydale One week later

 They sat in the Summers living room and listened as Buffy, Giles and Wesley told them what had happened. Joyce, Willow, Oz and Xander were shocked by what they heard.

 "Giles wasn't fired?" Willow asked.

 "No Will. Wes was sent to help. Technically." Buffy told her.

 "And the Council?" Joyce asked.

 "You would have been quite proud of your daughter Mrs. Summers." Wesley told er. "She addressed the Council on issues that should have been addressed long ago. She spoke eloquently and intelligently. Buffy has put plans in motion that will undoubtedly benefit Slayers for centuries to come." Buffy blushed bright red.

 Xander grinned at her. "Gee Buff, what did you say?"

 Giles grinned. "She expounded on ideas for training, living and the life of a Slayer in general. She made quite an impression."

 "Of course she did." Joyce said with a smile of her own.

 "Can we stop with embarrass the Slayer now please?" Buffy asked.

 "Don't be embarrassed Buffy." Wesley told her. "You were quite remarkable."

 "I just did what I felt was right. What I had to." Buffy mumbled.

 "No, Buffy." Wesley said. "You didn't have to come after me, but you did.

You didn't have to help the Council, no one would have blamed you and you didn't even do it for yourself. You did it for the next Slayer and the one after her. You think we don't realize that? Your ideas were well thought out and made a great deal of sense."

 "Thanks Wes." Buffy said softly.

 "I just don't get the part with Ethan and Spike." Xander said. "I mean ... They helped. What's up with that?"

 "They had their reasons." Giles said enigmatically.

 "Yeah, but what were they?" Xander asked.

 Giles and Wesley looked at Buffy, she looked thoughtful. She looked at Xander. "We'll probably never know." She told him with a shrug. Giles and Wesley exchanged a look.

 Oz looked at Wesley. "What about you? How do you feel about being back, even though you aren't the Watcher?"

 It was Wesley's turn to look thoughtful. "I feel ... Liberated."
 
THE END