Oddly Colored Life
By Gibberish

Title: Oddly Colored Life
Author: Gibberish
Disclaimer: They belong to Joss, Mutant Enemy and the WB. VR5 belongs to
someone else too.
Rating:    PG      B/G  Oliver/Sydney
Spoilers: For both shows.
Summary: Giles' cousin Oliver needs his help and a certain little blonde.
Distribution:   Solo, Jessica, Sai, Cassandra, Sal, WYWM, The LIST and After
Image. Anyone else, please ask.
Feedback: Be kind
Dedication: For Holly. Thanks for getting me hooked on ASH Hol' *g* ;-) So, everyone can blame her.
Notes: **Dreams** *Emphasis* <Thoughts>
Comments: This is my first attempt at VR5, I hope the characters are accurate, or at least close. I haven't seen all of the episodes, so ...
Comments 2:  Takes place between seasons 4 and 5 of Buffy and several years after VR5's Reunion.

        **Buffy looked around the oddly colored room, the colors so bright that they hurt her eyes. Then, suddenly, everything was white.

 "Come back to me Sydney."

 Buffy searched for the English accented voice. <Was that Giles?> She found herself in a hospital.


 Buffy saw them. A woman laid in a hospital bed, she had fairly long, thick, blonde hair. On one side of her stood a man with long black hair and startling blue eyes. The man on the other side of the woman looked like ...


 "Who are you?" The man that looked like Giles asked in a cold voice. Yet, his touch gentle as he held the woman's hand.

 Buffy tilted her head, he looked like Giles, but he didn't. He wore an expensive suit and an earring and no glasses.

"Giles?" She asked again.

 "You know her Oliver?" The other man asked easily.


 Buffy recoiled. "It's me Giles. It's Buffy."

 "I am not Giles." He said firmly. "And I sure as hell don't know a Buffy." His voice was still cold.

 This couldn't be her Giles. She put a hand to her mouth. "Where's Giles?" Then she saw the gun.**

   Buffy sat up in bed. "Giles?"

   First thing the next morning, Buffy made her way to Giles'. She started to speak before the door was completely opened. "Giles, you would not believe the dream I ..."

 "Can I help you?"

 Buffy's eyes snapped to the man that wasn't Giles. Then, her eyes narrowed.

"Where's Giles?" She asked suspiciously.

 Oliver raised his eyebrows at the girl. How could she be so certain that he wasn't Giles?

 "What have you done with him?" Buffy demanded as she pushed past him and took up a defensive posture.

 Duncan walked out of the kitchen and took in the scene. "What did you do, Oliver?" He sighed.

 Buffy looked from one to the other, fear in her eyes. "Where's Giles?" She demanded again. "If you've hurt him ..."

 "Rupert's upstairs." Oliver said, intrigued. <Why was she so certain that something had happened?> He saw the threat in her eyes and knew better than to dismiss it due to her size. Though he felt certain that he could take her if he had to. He hoped he didn't have to.

 Duncan watched the girl glare at Oliver, much as he had when he'd first met him. In an attempt at reassurance he put a hand on her shoulder ... And found himself flat on his back.

 Oliver's hand had automatically reached for his weapon, but a voice stopped him from withdrawing it.

 "Buffy!" Giles said sharply from the stairs. He was about to begin a stern lecture, when he found his arms full of Slayer. He met his cousin's amused gaze.

 Oliver assisted Duncan to his feet, but his eyes never left Rupert. Buffy's arms tightened around Giles for just a moment before she pulled back. "What's going on?"

 "Exactly what I was about to ask you." Giles commented.

 Buffy shrugged. She glanced at the two strange men. She looked up at Giles, her eyes held confusion and anxiety. "Weird dream last night."

 "Prophetic?" Giles asked concerned. "What was it about?"

 "Them." Buffy said succinctly.

 Giles nodded in understanding. "It's all right, Buffy. I assure you that they aren't here to hurt you. Oliver is my cousin. Duncan is a friend of his."

 "Wasn't me I was worried about." Buffy muttered.

 Duncan smiled easily. "You have prophetic dreams?"  He asked, his curiosity always on the surface.

 "Sometimes." Buffy said quietly.

 "Buffy's quite unique." Giles said with a small smile aimed at his cousin. "She has special ... Abilities."

 Oliver looked at Giles sharply. Those were the same words he'd used to describe Sydney. But Oliver had never liked all that mystic nonsense and his expression showed it, clearly.

 Buffy's eyes narrowed. "Who's Sydney?" She asked to the shock of all three men.

 Oliver's eyes flew to Rupert's. "Did you call her while you were upstairs?" He asked sharply.

 "Of course not." Giles responded absently, he was looking at Buffy.

 Oliver loomed over Buffy in an attempt to intimidate her "Did the Committee send you?" He demanded.

 Buffy's eyes flashed angrily, then blinked in confusion. "Committee?" She looked at Giles. "Is that another name for the Council?"

 Giles shook his head. "Different secret organization." He told her.

 "Does anyone in your family have a normal job?" Buffy asked. momentarily sidetracked.

 Giles sighed and looked at Oliver. "I suggest you calm down, Oliver. She isn't a part of your bloody Committee."

 Oliver looked at Rupert in frustration. He was losing it. He was an expert at intimidation and yet he hadn't intimidated Rupert, let alone the girl. He looked back to the girl. "What do you know about Sydney?"

 Buffy looked up at him, bored. "Get over yourself." She told him. "I'm not impressed." She saw Giles bite back a grin.

 Duncan watched fascinated, with a small smile. She reminded him of Syd.

 The same thought ran through Oliver's mind. What was in the air in California? He looked at Rupert, who watched his girl with mild amusement and something that Oliver recognized all too well. "How old is she Rupert?"

 Giles looked at him startled. "Nineteen. Why?"

 Oliver raised his brows, but didn't answer. "What does she know about Sydney?" He asked instead.

 Giles gave him a patient look. "Now, how should I know that? I heard what you heard." Buffy crossed her arms over her chest and rolled her eyes. "Buffy." He prodded gently.

 Buffy nodded. "She was in a hospital bed. Blonde, pretty. You two were hovering over her." She paused. "Then there's this." Her hands flashed out.

 Oliver had quick reflexes, always had, it kept him alive more than once. Sydney and Duncan as well. But this little girl had his weapon before he could blink.

 Buffy held the gun in her hand. Guns were not her forte, but she knew how to handle weapons. Carefully. "I don't like guns."

 Duncan stared at her opened mouthed. "How did you do that?"

 Oliver's eyes narrowed. "Handy little trick you have there."

 "Sorry." Buffy said insincerely, as she handed the weapon, butt first, to Giles. "I don't do tricks." She looked at Giles. "Does he have a clue?"

 Giles wearily handed the weapon back to Oliver, while he gave Buffy a look of reproach. "He should be figuring it out any moment now."

 Oliver replaced his weapon. Giving away nothing, his hand flew towards her face at full force. She blocked the blow without even really looking and with very little effort. Oliver gave Rupert an angry, indignant look. "You might have told me."

 "Any reason why I should?" Giles asked in return. "You haven't exactly been forthcoming with your girl's history." He gave Oliver a hard look. "Not to mention that I don't want your Committee trying to get their hands on her."

 Oliver stared at him for a moment. "I'm not really with the Committee anymore, Rupert." He said in a dangerously soft voice.

 "Might I ask what brought about this sudden parting of the ways?" Giles asked in the same tone. "Because I seem to remember hearing those words before."

 Oliver looked away and caught Duncan's gaze. All either of them wanted was to get Sydney back. He returned his eyes to Rupert. Time to lay all his cards on the table. "What happened? They wanted me to kill Sydney. I wasn't about to..." He saw Rupert flinch and the girl pale slightly. "What?"

 Buffy looked sad and angry. "Are you sure the Committee and the Council aren't the same people?" She asked no one in particular.

 Oliver looked from Buffy to Rupert. "What did the Council do?" He asked.

 Giles laughed harshly. "Amounted to the same thing. Except that you left, I was fired. I was a Watcher, but I refused to stand by and simply watch her die. Not when I could do something to stop it. So I was judged and found wanting."

 "Not by me." Buffy said softly as she slipped her hand into his. Giles squeezed the small hand in his, a gesture that gave and received reassurance.

 "Orphans of secret organizations." Duncan said sagely.

 "Not orphans, Duncan." Oliver told him. "The bastard children that nobody wants."

 "The Committee does want you Oliver." Duncan said. "And they sure don't want to let go of Syd."

 Buffy looked at Oliver closely. "They put her there, didn't they?" She asked.

 "She's there because of them." Oliver confirmed. "And I want to get her out."

 "How?" Buffy asked.

   "Virtual ... What?" Giles asked, blankly. Computers. Why did it have to be computers?

 "Like the virtual games at the malls in LA?" Buffy asked.

 "Much more sophisticated than that." Oliver told her. "I don't understand it all, I don't think anyone does, except Sydney's Father. He revolutionized the field in the Seventies. Sydney, and Duncan," he gave Duncan a glance. "Can manipulate VR. Most people don't even know they've been inside. They don't really remember, or if they do it's like a dream. The way I understand it, a person cannot lie in VR. If you die in VR, you die. That's the word anyway. I haven't tested the theory. Some, simply cannot physically handle the strain on the heart."

 "It seems like you're in there for hours," Duncan picked up the tale. "But, it's really just seconds."

 "And your Sydney is trapped inside?" Buffy asked. "How did you get in my dreams? I mean, I'll give you this way creepy, but not Hellmouth creepy. Not even everyday Slayer creepy."

 "It's techno creepy." Duncan said.

 Giles' mind mulled over the possibilities. "Buffy, perhaps you should call Willow and the others."

 Buffy looked at him confused. "You think she can explain it? VR?"

 "I hope so." Giles said distracted. "But, I have a sudden sense of dread as to why this has invaded your dreams."

 Buffy's eyes widened. "Vamps in VR?"

 "Vamps?" Duncan echoed.

 Buffy and Giles looked at each other, then, as one, looked at Oliver. "You didn't tell him?" Giles asked.

 Oliver sighed. "I really had hoped that I wouldn't have to." He admitted. "I'll explain it."

 Buffy went to call Willow and the others. Giles glared at Duncan as Duncan watched Buffy walk towards the kitchen. Duncan flushed as he realized that he'd been caught. Oliver watched them, amused.

 Buffy walked back in a few minutes later. "Will's on her way. Xander's working. Anya will get here when Xander does and Tara said she'd get here as soon as she could." She said as she sat next to Giles. She eyed Oliver and Duncan. "Now that you've explained VR, why did you explain it?"

 Oliver looked at her. "Duncan and I have found a way to get Sydney out. The problem is that they won't let either of us see her any more. When I heard that Rupert was still in California ... He's one of the few people I trust."

 Buffy raised her eyebrows, she looked from Oliver to Giles and back to Oliver. "Somehow, I don't think you expect a look-a-like cousin to get to her."

 Oliver shook his head. "When I contacted Rupert ... Well, he said that he knew someone that might be able to help. Someone that he trusted completely."

 Buffy looked at Giles. "Me? Or Willow?" She asked.

 "You, of course." Giles told her, surprised that she had to ask.

 Buffy smiled. "I just wondered, with the computers and all."

 "I didn't know about the computers at the time." Giles commented. "Understand, Buffy, this will be very dangerous. You don't have to ..."

 "He's right." Oliver said. "And I don't like the idea of sending a little girl ..."

 "I'm not a little girl." Buffy told him. "And I can take care of myself."

 "While that's true, Buffy, these are not the kind of ... people that that you're used to fighting." Giles pointed out. "They're human."

 "Gotcha." Buffy said. "No killing."

 "You do what you have to stay alive." Giles told her firmly. "I don't want you to kill anybody, but they play by very different rules. They've taken Sydney and ... Well, I know how I would feel if it were you."

 "Like with the Mayor?" Buffy asked.

 "I-in a way" Giles told her, without meeting her eyes. Giles couldn't look at her, afraid of what he might blurt out. He looked up and saw that Oliver and Duncan watched him in sympathy. He met Oliver's eyes. "What's the plan?"

 Duncan looked at Oliver, hopeful. "Plan? You have a plan?"

 "Not as yet, no." Oliver burst Duncan's enthusiasm.

 "Do you know where she is?" Buffy asked.

 "Private hospital." Oliver told her. "Why?"

 "Building plans?" Buffy asked next.

 "No." Oliver answered. "Again, why?"

 "How do you expect to get her out?" Buffy asked. "You need to know more than just what building she's in. How do you know that she's still there?"

 "I know exactly where she is." Oliver said as he barely held his temper.

 "Exactly?" Buffy echoed.

 "Exactly." Oliver assured her. "They used to let me see her."

 "Then show me." Buffy said.

 "How?" Oliver asked. "It's all in my ..."

 "No, Buffy." Giles said firmly.

 "Why not?" Buffy asked.

 "It's dangerous." Giles told her.

 "It could help." Buffy pointed out logically.

 "No." Giles said once again. "I won't let you." As soon as the words left his mouth, Giles could have kicked himself. He knew better than to say that to Buffy. "Buffy, you don't know anything about VR." He tried to reason with her. It did, occasionally, work. "It's dangerous." He reiterated.

 "As opposed to my regular nightly activities." She met his eyes, so that he could see that this wasn't a whim, that she was serious. "You're the one that taught me to be prepared."

 "You want to go into VR?" Oliver asked.

 Buffy shook her head. "Not particularly. I'll admit that I'm curious, but ... It could help." She looked at Oliver closely. "Can you show it to me?"

 "I could." Oliver admitted. "What makes you think it would do any good? You won't remember."

 "You don't know that." Buffy pointed out. "It's worth a try."

 "All right." Oliver said in a neutral tone. "I'll show you the hospital." He didn't look particularly happy.

 "What do we do?" Buffy asked.

    Oliver and Duncan went to the car for the equipment. Oliver took the opportunity to speak with Duncan. "You know that I won't remember what happens. Not really." Oliver said almost conversationally.

 Duncan nodded warily. He knew what Oliver was about to say.

 "I want to know about her." Oliver told him. "I know you hate that, but ... Sydney's life may depend on her."

 "I thought you trusted your cousin." Duncan commented.

 "She's not my cousin." Oliver stated. "I trust Rupert as much as I trust anyone, or I wouldn't be here. However, I don't think that he is objective where she is concerned."

 "Like you with Syd." Duncan pointed out with a small smile. "I like her, Oliver."

 "I know." Oliver said quietly. He couldn't believe how open and trusting he could still be. Sometimes, he envied him.

     By the time the equipment had been set up, Willow had arrived. Duncan went over the set up with Buffy and Willow. Willow listened carefully, but her wide eyes kept darting to the two cousins. Buffy nudged her.

 "I guess we're about ready, then." Oliver said when Duncan had finished his explanations. Oliver looked at Rupert and took him aside. "Do you know any adults?"

 "They are adults." Giles returned. "Believe me, they are all quite capable."

 "All?" Oliver echoed.

 Giles smiled. "They refer to themselves as the Scooby Gang. Or the Slayerettes. But don't let that fool you. At the moment we have in our ranks a Slayer, two Witches, a former demon and Xander. Oh and one vampire."

 Oliver was uncertain if his cousin was teasing him. "I'm beginning to have sympathy for Alice."

 Giles' eyes lit with laughter. "Yes, because your world is so mundane. You never did have any tolerance for the mystic realm, but let me assure you Oliver, these people have held their own against things that would make your bloody Committee seem tame. If you belittle them ..." He let the threat hang.

 Oliver held up his hands in mock surrender. "Take it easy, Ripper." He glanced at Duncan. "Believe me, I know that assistance can come from unforeseen places." He looked back to Rupert.

 "What will you do when you get Sydney back?" Giles asked.

 "Run, most likely." Oliver told him. "The Committee isn't particularly forgiving."

 "The Council, either." Giles commiserated. "I know ... Someone, that might be able to help."

 "Someone?" Oliver asked warily.

 "We're ready, Oliver." Duncan said from where he and Buffy sat in front of the computer.

 Oliver started to move away, but Giles' hand on his arm stopped him. "Take care of her." Giles said very seriously.

 Oliver met his eyes. "I will."

   Duncan, Oliver and Buffy donned the VR gear. Then Duncan gave Buffy one last chance to change her mind, before he hit the button.

 Buffy blinked at the brightness of the colors, it was like in her dream. She looked around at the reds and oranges, it looked like something from the seventies. She couldn't prevent a small jump, when a voice spoke from behind her.

 "Horrid, isn't it?" Oliver asked as he joined her.

 "Where are we?" Buffy asked.

 "Rupert's living room." Oliver answered. Buffy gave him a very impatient, patient look. Oliver didn't quite smile. "You've borrowed that particular expression from Rupert." He commented. He looked around. "Welcome to VR."

 "Why does it look like this?" Buffy asked.

 "Don't you like it?" Duncan asked as he joined them.

 "Duncan set the parameters." Oliver told her.  "Where would you like to be?" Oliver asked her.

 Then, they *were* in Giles' living room. They watched as Giles paced the confines of the room. "He worries so." Buffy said softly, as she walked towards him.

 "Why does he worry so much?" Duncan asked.

 A cemetery. Three vampires were on them. They came at Buffy at one time. Duncan watched in open mouthed shock as Buffy dusted one vampire after the other. "What are those?" Duncan asked.

 Oliver watched Buffy fight in fascination. No wonder Rupert didn't want the Committee to know about her. "They're vampires, Duncan." Oliver said calmly. Though his hand had automatically moved to his weapon.

 "Vampires?" Duncan echoed. "And I thought your mind was bad."

 Buffy finished the last vampire off and rejoined the two men. She noticed Oliver's hand. "Gun's not going to do much against a vamp. Unless you're using wooden bullets." She told him wryly. "So, where's the hospital?"

 They walked down a hospital corridor. Buffy kept looking around as if something was going to jump out at her. Suddenly, she stopped.

 Oliver followed her wide eyed gaze. Through an opened door, he saw a young woman, unconscious, in a hospital bed. She had dark hair and was bruised. She was hooked up to several machines. "Who is she?" Oliver asked.

 "Faith." Buffy whispered. She walked over to Faith and gently brushed back the hair from the other Slayer's face.

 Oliver and Duncan followed Buffy into the room. "What happened to her?" Oliver asked quietly.

 "I tried to kill her." Buffy told him. She looked down and saw the bloody knife in her hand. She threw it away as if it had bit her. Then, the wall behind Faith had disappeared and she and Faith were fighting in Faith's apartment, then outside.

 "You killed me." Faith's words, though said quietly, echoed loudly around them.

 Buffy turned away. Oliver had watched the tableau with an oddly sympathetic expression.

 "We should find Syd." Duncan said subdued.

 They were once again walking down the hall. Oliver stopped at a nurses station. "There will be guards here, but they won't be easily recognized. Every member of the staff has had training."

 "Training?" Buffy asked.

 "Blackbelts." Duncan said succinctly.

 Buffy nodded in understanding and they moved on. She followed Oliver and Duncan into a room. In the bed was the woman from her dream - Sydney. Oliver and Duncan took up positions on either side of her. Buffy stood at the foot of the bed. "Tell me about her?" Buffy asked.

 "Tell you about Syd?" Duncan asked, at a loss as to where to begin. "She's ... Well, she's ..."

 "Stubborn." Oliver filled in. He looked at Buffy and grinned ruefully. "Like you."

 Buffy returned Oliver's grin as she watched him take Sydney's hand. "Come back to me, Sydney." Oliver said to the still form.

 Buffy swallowed and took a step back. The image in front of her changed. Giles sat next to Buffy as she lay in a hospital bed, a bandage on her neck.

 Giles took her hand. "Why, Buffy? Why did you do it? Come back to me." He said gently.

 Buffy put her hands to her mouth. "Giles?" She turned and found Oliver and Duncan.

 "What happened?" Oliver asked gently.

 "Angel." Buffy said softly.

 There was a flash of Angel draining Buffy. Then, they were in the old library. They watched Giles, Willow, Oz and Xander.

 "All right, that's enough!" Giles said angrily. "I don't want to do this again."

 "He almost drained her." Xander pointed out.

 "Do you think I don't know that?" Giles asked harshly. "Don't you think I'd like to stake him myself? But the truth is, she'd have done the same for any of us. And if it had been Willow that she'd saved, we wouldn't be angry."

 "Willow isn't already dead." Xander muttered.

 "Xander!" Willow admonished.

 "What?! Like even you don't have a problem with this." Xander said. "He almost killed her. Again. At the very least, she should have had one of us there."

 "And which one of us would have been a match for Angel?" Giles asked. "Buffy is fine." He stated. "It was her decision and she made it. It's over now. One way or the other, Angel will be gone tomorrow. I suggest that we concentrate on the Ascension."

 "They don't know that I heard them." Buffy said when the images were gone. She put her hand on the scars on her neck, and there was a bright flash of light.

* * *

     Willow and Giles watched them. "What do you think they're seeing?" Willow asked in a whisper, as if afraid to wake them.

 "I wish I ..." Giles began. He saw Buffy move. Then the three of them were taking the VR gear off. "That was quick." Giles commented.

 Buffy couldn't meet his eyes, she got up and went into the kitchen. Giles turned on Oliver with narrowed eyes. "What happened?" Giles asked.

 Oliver looked at him blankly, then turned to Duncan. Duncan looked uncomfortable. "We saw a lot of stuff. " Duncan told him hesitantly.

"Vampires. There was a girl named Faith. Something about Buffy and an Angel who put her in the hospital. She was ..."

 "Bloody hell!" Giles swore and went after Buffy.

 "Faith and Angel." Willow said sadly. "Buffy's two harshest issues." She looked at Duncan and Oliver. "I don't think I like your VR."

 "I'm not particularly fond of it myself." Oliver told her. He could see his cousin and Buffy as they spoke in the kitchen. "Will she be all right?"

 Willow followed his gaze. "Giles'll make it all right." She said simply.

 Duncan met Oliver's eyes. "We need to put the equipment away." He said significantly.

   In the kitchen; Giles put a hand on Buffy's shoulder and turned her towards him. "I take it that you can remember what happened in VR."

 Buffy still couldn't meet his eyes. "I can find Sydney."

 "That isn't what I meant, and you know it." Giles said. "What happened?" Buffy turned and stared at the oven. "I really don't want to talk about it, Giles."

 "Buffy," Giles said gently. "You know that you can tell me anything."

 "We've already talked about it." Buffy explained.

 "Angel?" Giles asked gently.

 Buffy looked down. "Do you hate me for that?"

 "Of course not." Giles told her honestly. "I was frightened and, I'll admit, disappointed, but I could never hate you. I understand that you did what you felt that you had to. I understand the need to do anything for the one you love."

 "That isn't why I ..." Buffy stopped herself.

 "Buffy?" Giles asked.

 "We needed Angel." Buffy said softly. "I *believed* that we did. The odds were already against us."

 "So, you put *yourself* at risk." Giles pointed out.

 "Did I?" Buffy asked. "I didn't think it would go that far. I couldn't ..." Her words faltered. "... Think. I killed Faith. At least, I thought I had. I don't know what I was thinking." She looked up at him. "She hurt him because of me."

 "She hurt him because the Mayor told her to. And she was psychotic." Giles contradicted. "You take too much upon yourself. A confrontation with Faith was inevitable."

 "Maybe I just didn't try hard enough to save her." Buffy said.

 "You tried harder than Faith had a right to expect. She didn't want to be saved." Giles pointed out gently. "You gave her every chance."

 "It could have been me." Buffy said. "What if it had been me?"

 "You're nothing like Faith." Giles assured her.

 "I could have been." Buffy told him. "It could have just as easily have been me who killed that man."

 "Buffy, killing that man was an accident." Giles explained. "A terrible accident. It is *not*, however, what made Faith what she was. An angry young woman. Lost and afraid. She wanted what you have, when she couldn't take it from you one way, she tried another."

 "Why does she hate me?" Buffy asked.

 "Oh, Buffy." Giles sighed. "She's jealous. She couldn't stand being second best. She felt that she was owed. She didn't want to earn anything. She wanted your life. She was going to help Angel torture and kill you." He reminded her.

 Buffy looked down. "I know."

   Oliver and Duncan put the gear away in the car. Once it was done, Oliver turned to Duncan. "What happened? Why do I have this surge of protectiveness towards this girl?"

 "It was awful, Oliver." Duncan said. Duncan told him everything that happened in VR. "Did you see that scar on her neck? I think this 'Angel' did it. And I don't think it was the first time he hurt her. Or them." Duncan gave Oliver an oddly searching look. "Who is she, Oliver? Who are they? You say they're not part of the Committee, but they're a part of something. And this place, ... Something's not right here."

 "You're right." Oliver said. "It's complicated."

 "Because of the vampires?" Duncan asked.

 Oliver nodded. "Buffy is the Slayer. One girl in all the world with the strength and skill to hunt and kill the vampires. I used to think it was a bunch of rubbish, but it's all real."

 "Can she help Syd?" Duncan asked the only question important to him.

 Oliver's eyes lit up. "Sounds to me like the Committee won't know what hit them."

 "Hey, Giles." A dark young man called to them as he and a girl walked up to them. "What's the big emergency?"

 Oliver and Duncan looked at him blankly. Xander took in the earring. "You haven't been eating any candy bars, have you?"

 "What?" Oliver asked.

 "You okay, Giles?" Xander asked.

 "Maybe we should get back inside." Duncan suggested.

   It was Xander's turn to stare at the cousins. "Giles, why didn't you ever tell us that you had a twin?" He asked.

 "They're hardly twins, Xander." Buffy told him.

 Xander looked at Buffy. "They look exactly alike, Buff."

 Buffy looked at Giles, then Oliver, then back to Giles. "There's a definite resemblance, but exactly? I don't think so. I mean, I knew right away that he wasn't Giles."

 "You did?" Giles asked. He looked at Oliver, who nodded. He looked back to Buffy. "How?"

 Buffy shrugged self-consciously. "I just did. He isn't you." She said simply. Oliver and Giles exchanged a look.

 "Oliver," Duncan said. "Shouldn't we call Sam?"

 "Sam?" Giles echoed.

 "Sydney's sister." Buffy told him. Oliver and Duncan looked at her oddly.

"Prophetic dreams, remember? I saw them. I think."

 Oliver pulled a cell phone out of his breast pocket and handed it to Duncan. "Be vague." He told him.

 Duncan blinked at him. "Vague? Why?"

 "I want no one to know about Buffy." Oliver told him clearly. "Not even Samantha."

 "But, Oliver ..." Duncan began.

 "I mean it, Duncan." Oliver said seriously. "She's risking enough as it is and Samantha's loyalties do not extend to me and mine."

 Duncan nodded, he knew it was true. He moved to the kitchen to make the call.

 "Oliver." Giles said in a low voice.

 Oliver looked at him. "With my life, Rupert. My word." Giles nodded once on return.

 "Uh, hello." Buffy said indignant.

 They were interrupted as the door slammed open. "What's so damn ..." Spike halted, words and movement, when he spied the look-a-likes. "Oh, bloody hell. Wasn't one enough? How'd you do it, Slayer?"

 Buffy looked at him with raised brows. She sometimes wondered just how powerful  Spike thought she was. How could she have done that? "I made a wish to the Blue Fairy." She said drily. "Oliver, Spike. Spike, sit down and behave." Then, she looked at Spike in speculation. "Spike, how would you like to wreak a little havoc?"

 Giles looked at her in question, then his eyes lit with humor. "Oh, that's perfect. Do you think it would work?"

 Buffy grinned. "Spike does wreak havoc fairly well. As distractions go, he's not too bad either. It could work.

 "It would have to be at night." Giles pointed out.

 "'Cause a pile of dust really wouldn't be much of a distraction." Buffy said with a roll of her eyes. "Night is an advantage anyway."

 "What the hell are you talking about?" Oliver asked.

 Buffy grinned at him. "A plan." She put her hand on Oliver's. "A plan to get Sydney out."

 Duncan watched, surprised that Oliver didn't pull away. More surprised when Oliver covered Buffy's hand with his other. <This could get complicated. She *is* a lot like Syd.> Oliver's "Sydney." Comforted him somewhat. He looked at Giles, who looked concerned as well.

      Buffy looked at them. "So, that's the plan. Spike's the distraction. Oliver gets me into the hospital. I get the phone to Sydney, Duncan does the VR thing. I get Sydney to Oliver and we get her out." She met Giles' eyes.


 "Simple, is it?" Giles asked.

 "There just weren't enough big words in that plan to suit you, huh?" Buffy asked. "You've always said that simple is better."

 "And your plan is brilliantly simple." Giles told her with a small smile. "I'm just concerned. You're on your own for so much of that."

 "I've been alone before." Buffy reminded him. "I can do this." She turned to Oliver. "We should go. Tonight. Be in place as early as possible tomorrow night."

 "I'd like to speak with you, Buffy." Giles said firmly. He stood and went down the hall towards the bathroom. Buffy followed more slowly.

 "Why don't they just bloody shag, already?" Spike asked in disgust, once they were both out of sight.

 Oddly, it was Oliver who answered. "Fear."

 Duncan was the only one who knew just how well Oliver understood that same fear. The brooding Englishman had his growing feelings for Syd even before Alex had returned. After ... Duncan hadn't realized just how much Oliver had protected Syd from the Committee, not until the Committee had ordered him to kill her. Oliver had turned his back on everything.

   In the bathroom; Giles closed the door and turned to Buffy. She looked up at him with wide eyes. "This isn't what you're used to, Buffy."

 "Fighting bad guys." Buffy commented. "These bad guys just happen to be human."

 "You can't think of them as human." Giles told her. "I know that it goes against everything that I've taught you, but you must not hesitate." He lightly touched her cheek, pleased when she leaned into the touch. "You must come back, Buffy."

 "I will." Buffy told him. "I always do." She took Giles off guard when she kissed him.

 Giles responded without thought to the feel of her mouth pressed to his. His arms went around her and he held her to him tightly as he deepened the kiss. Buffy whimpered as he explored her mouth gently, but thoroughly.

 Buffy clutched at him, as if she would never let him go. But, she did. Her breathing harsh, she met his eyes. When he went to speak, she gently placed her hand over his mouth. Buffy felt him gently kiss her fingers. "It's time." She pulled away from him and left the bathroom.

   When Giles emerged from the bathroom, they were gone. Willow, Xander and Anya watched him warily. "Giles?" Willow ventured, when Giles simply dropped into his chair.

 Tara walked in a bit confused, and actually looked more confused when she saw Giles. She looked back outside to where she'd thought she'd just seen Buffy and Giles get into a car and leave. She looked back to Giles. "Umm."

   Oliver managed to find a hotel, with two connecting rooms, close to the hospital. Buffy laid on her bed in the dark room and stared at the ceiling.

 Oliver watched her from the connecting doorway. "You can still change your mind." He told her quietly. Buffy looked at him. "Still have doubts about me?" She asked, just as quiet.

 "Oddly, no." Oliver said as he pushed away from the door frame and came into the room. "How old were you when you learned that you were to be a Slayer? Ten? Eleven?" He asked, curious.

 "Fifteen." Buffy told him. "There was no 'to be', I was already the Slayer."

 "How?" Oliver asked as he sat at the foot of the bed.

 Buffy shrugged as she scooted up against the headboard. "The Council missed me, somehow. I thought Merrick was nuts when he found me."

 "You didn't believe him?" Oliver asked.

 "Would you?" Buffy asked in return with a small smile. "He convinced me to
go to the cemetery. Had me sit on a fresh grave. I was furious, but not
completely convinced. So, he threw a knife at my face."

 Oliver looked at her wide eyed. "What happened?"

 Buffy smiled. "I caught it."

 "How did you end up in Sunnydale with Rupert?" Oliver asked next.

 "Lothos. He killed Merrick, and I had to burn down my old school, well, the Gym." Buffy told him. "The school didn't appreciate my efforts and expelled me. Sunnydale was the only school that would take me."

 "And Rupert?" Oliver asked. He saw her smile.

 "I was fond of Merrick." Buffy said. "But Giles, he's ... I never would have made it this long without him."

 "Other people's expectations can be difficult to live up to." Oliver commented.

 "Did you have a choice about joining the Committee?" Buffy asked.

 "I thought I did." Oliver told her.

 "I thought I could walk away too." Buffy said. "Even Giles tried."

 "He did a better job of it than I did." Oliver commented. "The Council hated Ripper. The Committee tried to recruit him."

 "I've met Ripper, so that scares me." Buffy told him. "Actually, he wasn't so bad. He helped me."

 "Probably had more to do with you, than with Ripper's ... kindness of heart." Oliver told her.

 Buffy frowned and looked at him confused. "I don't ..." Comprehension dawned in her eyes. "I don't think so. Ripper was too caught up in my Mother." Buffy tilted her head to the side. "Do you know Ethan Rayne.?" Oliver's grimace answered her. "He has that effect on most people." Buffy looked at him intently. "Will the Committee go after him?"

 Oliver looked down, then back at her. "I don't think so." He told her as honestly as he could. "Rupert never left home. The Committee will ask and they'll be told. I just hope that they can't make a connection to you. Or your friend Spike."

 Buffy's eyes lit. "Spike isn't a friend. He's a vampire. Goodnight, Oliver."

 A wide eyed Oliver made his way back to the other room. She was kidding, she had to be kidding.

   As soon as the sun had disappeared from sight, they left the hotel. Spike looked around himself warily. "I get a sunburn Slayer and you'll never hear the end of it."

 "You get a sunburn and I'll never have to hear it again." Buffy said cheerfully. "Don't worry, Spike."

 "Now, I'm really worried." Spike muttered.

 Buffy ignored him as they got into the car.

 Oliver started the engine and drove. "All right. Duncan has the code. He'll open the front door for Spike at the same time I open the back for Buffy." He looked at Buffy. "I really don't like sending you in there alone."

 "What about me?" Spike asked sarcastically.

 Buffy looked at Oliver. "I'll get her out."

 "It's not just Sydney I'm worried about, you know?" Oliver asked.

 "I can take care of myself." Buffy told him.

 "Believe it, Mate." Spike said. "The Slayer has a way of always coming out on top." He grinned lasciviously. "Actually, that sounds like ..."

 "Shut up, Spike." Buffy told him.

   Oliver kept his eyes on his watch as he waited with Buffy at the back entrance to the private hospital. "Are you sure Spike will do his part?" He asked.

 "It involves Spike scaring the hell out of people." Buffy commented. "He'll do it and have a party while he's at it."

 "Ready, then?" Oliver asked. At her nod, he punched in the access code to open the door. "Be careful, Buffy."

 Buffy gave him a quick smile as she slipped in. She closed her eyes for just a moment to center and visualize the hospital. Then she opened her eyes and moved. When reached the hallway that Sydney should be down, she smiled. She could hear the ruckus that Spike was making. She heard a scream and knew that Spike was enjoying himself.

   Buffy opened the door to Sydney's room and found her inside. "Sydney?" She didn't answer, of course. Buffy had expected to find her hooked up to ...Something. Buffy looked around the room, this had been a little too easy. Nevertheless, she pulled out the cell phone and dialed Duncan. "I'm in."

 "Out the phone to Syd's ear." Duncan told her.

 Buffy took the phone over to Sydney. Since Sydney couldn't respond, Buffy kept her own ear to the phone, just in case. "Okay, Duncan." Before Buffy could realize her mistake, there was a bright flash.

   Buffy looked around the stark white room. There was no color anywhere, except for the young woman huddled up in the corner. Then, Duncan was there.

"My God."

 "You're not supposed to be here." Duncan said.

 Buffy looked away. "Let's just get Sydney out."

 The pair moved to where Sydney huddled in the corner. "Sydney?" Duncan ventured and she shrank away. "Syd? It's me, Duncan."

 Sydney shrank even further.

 "Sydney, I know you don't know me, but my name is Buffy." Sydney looked at her with wide eyes. "We came to get you out. Oliver sent us."

 "O-Oliver?" Sydney said hesitantly.

 "He's waiting outside." Buffy told her. "Let's go to him, huh?"

 "I-I know you." Sydney whispered. "I've seen you. You visit me."

 "Huh?" Buffy said.

 "We can figure it out later." Duncan said. "We need to get out of here."

 "Duncan?" Sydney said softly.

 Buffy and Duncan helped her to her feet. "Is this where you've been? The whole time?" Buffy asked.

 Sydney nodded. "All alone. Except sometimes ... Daddy and ..." She looked at Buffy. "You would come."

 Buffy and Duncan took her to a door that stood in the middle of the room. Duncan tried the door, but it wouldn't open. "Terrific."

 Buffy looked from the door to Sydney. "Sydney, you have to open the door." Sydney shook her head, frightened. "You have to, Sydney. It's our only way out." Sydney didn't move. "Oliver's waiting, Sydney. The people we love, the people who love us, they're waiting on the other side. Only you can open the door. You can do it, Sydney. You have to."

 Sydney slowly reached out a trembling hand, she placed it on the doorknob. She looked at Buffy, who smiled at her. Sydney nodded and opened the door. Sydney saw Oliver.

 Duncan caught a glimpse of Samantha.

 Buffy saw Giles, before there was a bright flash of light.

   Buffy dropped the phone with the intensity of their release from VR. She looked at Sydney and saw her eyes blink open. Buffy put the phone back in her pocket.

 "Oliver?" Sydney blinked a few times, then focused on Buffy. "Buffy?"

 "Come on," Buffy said as she helped Sydney sit up. "Let's get you out of here." She slipped off the long sweater she'd worn and helped Sydney put it on. She got a wobbly Sydney to her feet and smiled. "There's someone outside very anxious to see you."

 "Oliver?" Sydney asked.

 Buffy nodded. "And Duncan." She led her into the corridor, practically holding her up. Five steps down the hallway, Buffy heard a familiar growl.

"Spike?" She looked. "Not Spike." She leaned Sydney against the wall. "Don't move." Sydney's frightened eyes were on the vampire. "It's all right, Sydney. Really." Buffy faced the vampire again. "Oh no, a vampire. What can I do?" Buffy deadpanned. "I know." She pulled out a stake. "Never leave home without it." Using the vamps surprise, she staked him with little effort and stuck the stake back into her waist band. "Talk about an anticlimax." Buffy returned to Sydney and lead her to the back entrance, where Oliver and Duncan waited.

 Oliver took Sydney from Buffy. "Everything go all right?"

 "There was a vamp inside." Buffy said. "Where's Spike?"

 Duncan moved to Sydney's other side. "He said that he wanted to have fun with the rest of the night and that he'd see you later."

 Buffy nodded, just as the alarms went off. The door slammed shut with the back of her shirt caught. She pulled at it.

 Oliver turned to her, just as the gate was coming down. He looked from Buffy to Sydney to Duncan. "Get Sydney to Rupert." He ran and rolled under the gate as it came down.

 "No, Oliver." Buffy yelled, but the gate crashed down.

 "Oliver?" Duncan said.

 Oliver met Duncan's eyes. "We'll meet you at Rupert's, now go." Duncan took Sydney and went.

 Buffy ripped her shirt, but it finally came free. "Why didn't you go?" Buffy yelled at Oliver.

 Oliver ignored her as he tried to work the lock. He looked up when he heard Security get closer.

 Buffy looked around her. She grinned ruefully when she spotted the sewer access. "I hate sewers. Come on, Oliver." She pulled his arm. She lifted the cover easily and practically shoved him down. Buffy followed quickly, recovering the access, but landed wrong on her knee. "Ow. " She moved when her eyes adjusted. "Let's go."

* * *

    Buffy made a face as another rat scurried past her. Rats meant no vampires, however and that was a good. She was starting to limp.  "You all right?" Oliver asked.

 "Fine." Buffy told him. "Just landed wrong. Just a little longer and we'll go back up."

 "Where are we going?" Oliver asked.

 "Away from the hospital." Buffy told him.

 "If you'll give me the phone, I'll call Duncan." Oliver said.

 Buffy grimaced. "Can't. It's in my sweater, which Sydney is now wearing."

 "Terrific." Oliver muttered.

 They walked quietly for a while. Buffy stopped under a street access. She made her way up the metal ladder and lifted the lid to peek out. It looked clear. "Come on." She moved the lid aside and climbed out.

 Once they were both out, they covered the access back up and moved to the sidewalk. Buffy was looking at two cars. "Which car's better?"

 Oliver looked at the cars. "'Bout the same. Why?" His eyes nearly bugged out when she took a pin from her hair and picked the lock. His mouth dropped open when she followed that up with hot-wiring the engine. "Where'd you learn to do that?"

 Buffy shrugged and looked at him as she scooted over to the passenger side. "You'll have to drive, Giles is still teaching me."

 Oliver slid in and drove. He drove in silence for a minute. "Do you know where we're going?"

 "Head towards LA." Buffy said. "We'll ditch this car and pick up another along the way."

 "Where did you pick up your tactics?" Oliver asked.

 "Vampires, demons, witches and Watchers that used to be juvenile delinquents." Buffy told him. "Fighting for your life everyday, you're bound to pick up a few things."

   Buffy and Oliver ditched the first car and walked for a while. They wanted some distance before they snatched another car. Buffy's limp though was becoming more pronounced and Oliver couldn't stand to watch Buffy hobble along. "We should stop. Rest for a while." He said.

 "I'm fine." Buffy told him. "Believe me, I've been a lot worse." She looked at him. "It'll be dawn soon."

 "Right." Oliver said decisively. Buffy found herself swept up into Oliver's arms.

 "What are you doing?" Buffy demanded. "Put me down."

 "Hush." Oliver told her sternly. He sounded so much like Giles, that Buffy blinked. To Oliver's surprise, she complied.

    Duncan helped a dazed Sydney to Giles' door. Giles opened the door and let them in. "Where are Buffy and Oliver?"

 Sydney looked at Giles in confusion. "Oliver?"

 "What?" Giles asked in return.

 "No, Syd." Duncan said gently as he closed the door. "This is Oliver's cousin. Oliver will be here shortly." He looked at Giles. "With Buffy."

 "Buffy." Sydney said with a smile.

 "What happened?" Xander asked.

 Duncan sat Sydney on the couch and faced Giles. "The hospital locked down with Buffy still inside. Oliver told me to take Sydney and that they'd meet us back here."

 "You left them?" Xander asked.

 Duncan glared at him. "I had no choice. I had to get Syd out of there. Oliver and Buffy don't need my help. Super Spy and Super Woman. I know my limits, I'd have been more hindrance than help. But Sydney did need me." His features softened a little. "Oliver will bring her home."

 "Duncan, why don't you take Sydney upstairs?" Giles instructed calmly, but he put his hands in his pockets to hide the shaking.

   Buffy and Oliver made it to LA in their third stolen car. She directed him to Angel's office. "Why are we here?" Oliver asked.

 "Friends." Buffy told him. "Angel can help us get back to Sunnydale." They got out of the car and Buffy looked at him. "Do us both a favor and let me do the talking." Still limping, Buffy led the way.

    Cordelia looked up when she heard the door. "Angel, Wesley." She called as soon as she saw Buffy. Her eyes widened when she saw Oliver. "Wow, Giles, I like the new look."

 Angel and Wesley came out of Angel's office just in time to see Oliver settle Buffy on the couch. "Buffy? What happened?" Angel asked as he crouched in front of her to check her injuries.

 Oliver stood there stiffly, glaring at Angel, until Buffy grabbed his wrist and pulled him down next to her. Oliver glared at her. "I'll take you over my knee yet."

 Angel and Cordelia stared at him as if he'd grown a second head. They looked even more confused when Buffy simply grinned at him.

 Buffy gave him a teasing grin. "What would your Sydney say?" She asked cheekily.

 Oliver snorted. "I bet I could get Rupert on my side."

 Buffy's grin only widened. "I'll take that bet."

 "What is going on here?" Angel asked.

 Buffy looked at Angel. "First off, not Giles. Angel, Cordie, Wesley, meet Oliver Sampson."

 "I should have known, you're dressed way too hot to be Giles." Cordelia said. Buffy was still looking at Angel. "Problem one; stolen car, parked outside. It needs to disappear."

 Angel looked at Wesley, who nodded and left. Angel looked back to Buffy. "Problem two?"

 "A little more complicated." Buffy told him. "Nasty people with guns after us. Real people. Human people."

 "What?" Cordelia asked. "Vampires and demons weren't enough?"

 "Cordelia." Angel said without even looking at her.

 "Sorry." Cordelia muttered.

 "We need to get back to Sunnydale." Buffy said. "And I really need to call Giles."

 Angel stood. "You can use the phone in the office."

 Oliver stood with Buffy and looked at her concerned. "Perhaps, I should call Rupert."

 Buffy shook her head. "Nah. He'll be mad at you." She headed for the office. Oliver opened his mouth to say something. "I'll check on Sydney."

 Oliver smiled gently at her retreating form. Then Oliver turned to Angel. Duncan had filled him in on her VR experiences and Buffy had told him some, so he knew who Angel was. It all culminated in an instant dislike for Angel.

 "Would you like to tell me what's going on?" Angel asked.

 "Not particularly." Oliver responded. He turned away and watched Buffy on the phone in the office.

 "Uh-oh." Cordelia murmured.

   The phone hadn't finished its first ring, when Giles picked it up. "Buffy. Er, hello?" Giles collected himself.

 "You were right the first time." Buffy said in relief.

 "Buffy. Thank God." Giles said. "Where are you? Are you all right? What happened?"

 "We're fine." Buffy told him. "We made it to Angel's." She saw the two alpha males glaring at each other out in the outer office. She rolled her eyes.

"Hopefully we'll be back in Sunnydale before sunset. How's Sydney?"

 "She's resting." Giles assured her. "A bit disoriented yet, but she's coming along."

 "Take good care of her, Giles." Buffy told him softly. "She was in a horrible place."

 Giles was quiet a moment. "Is Oliver there? I'd like to speak with him."

 "It wasn't his fault, Giles." Buffy told him. "He came after me, got me out."


 Buffy put the phone down, she knew that tone, and went to get Oliver. She thought it strange, since she'd first met Oliver, all she'd seen were the differences between him and Giles. However, when it came to Angel, they were remarkably similar. "Oliver?"

 Oliver turned to her and his entire demeanor softened. "Yes, Buffy." Angel watched in confusion.

 "He'd like to speak with you." Buffy said with a shrug. "I tried."

 Oliver gave her a half smile. "I'm certain that you did, but I'm not surprised." He said as he walked passed her. He gave her a light touch to her cheek as he did.

 Buffy smiled at him and shook her head. "Sydney's fine." She turned and found Angel and Cordelia looking at her oddly. "What?"

 "Buffy, what's going on?" Angel asked. "Who is he? Why does he look so much like Giles?"

 "Heredity." Buffy said.

    "She's fine, Rupert." Oliver assured him, again. "Just a little bruised and a lot tired, I think."

 "Yes, but what happened?" Giles asked. "Duncan doesn't seem to know."

 "We were trapped inside the hospital." Oliver told him. "Buffy got us out through the water and electrical access. Once topside, ... Rupert, where *did* she learn to pick a lock and hot-wire a car?"

 "It was her reward for besting me with swords." Giles told him. "You didn't let her drive, did you?"

 "She said that you were still teaching her." Oliver commented.

 "Sydney keeps asking for you." Giles told him.

 "Tell her that I'll be there as soon as I can." Oliver said. "Is she awake?"

   "They're cousins." Buffy told them. "He needed our help, we helped him."

 "Helped him how?" Angel asked.

 Buffy shook her head. "I can't tell you that."

 "Buffy ..." Angel began.

 "No." Buffy said firmly.

 "Are you two ...?" Cordelia asked. "You seem real close."

 Buffy glared at her, but otherwise didn't answer. Oliver came up behind her and put a hand on her shoulder. Buffy looked up at him. It was almost like having Giles there. "Still in one piece?"

 "Nothing important missing anyway." Oliver told her with a wicked grin. He saw the vampires hands clench into fists at his sides.

 "Oliver." Buffy admonished, but couldn't repress a grin. Then, the grin disappeared "I wanna go home."

 "Time to face Rupert's temper." Oliver said.

 Buffy grinned. "I'll protect you."

 "You may well have to." Oliver replied in kind.

 "You're afraid of Giles?" Cordelia asked dubiously.

 Oliver dropped the teasing and looked at her. "If I'd have let something happen to Buffy, I think I would be quite ... Concerned. Don't be fooled by outward appearances. Isn't that so, Angel?"

 Angel stiffened and his eyes were bleak. "Below the surface of Giles, is Ripper."

 "Not too far below the surface, I should think." Oliver stated ominously. "Especially where Buffy is concerned."

 "You mean like when he put a sword through the Mayor?" Cordelia asked, unaware of the undercurrents.

 "What?" Angel asked.

 "Wesley told me about it." Cordelia went on oblivious. "He said that the Mayor threatened to eat Buffy, so Giles put a sword through him. Not that it did any good."

 Angel looked at Buffy. "Did he?"

 Buffy nodded. "Right through the heart, if the Mayor'd had one. I hadn't seen Giles like that since ..." Buffy's words trailed off and she looked away from Angel.

 "Since Jenny." Angel finished for her.

 "But Giles was in love with Ms. Calander." Cordelia said.

 Angel looked at her, then Buffy, who wouldn't meet his eyes. "I guess we should get you home to Giles."

   Buffy fell asleep with her head against Oliver's shoulder on the way back to Sunnydale. Oliver held her close, grateful that nothing had happened to her. He was tired, worn out really, but he still couldn't help but smile. Sydney was waiting.

 Wesley watched them covertly in the rearview mirror. Something very strange was going on, that was certain.

   Giles had the door open before they could even knock, not that Buffy would have. Before Buffy, Oliver and Wesley could get to the door a vampire attacked.

"Get inside." Buffy told Oliver and Wesley as she fought it. Neither listened and Giles joined them, he looked to see if there were any more around.

 The momentum of staking the vampire, sent Buffy to the ground. She glared up at the three men. "Why didn't somebody tell me that vampire slaying had become a spectator sport?" She waited a second. "Could one of you give me a hand? My knee ..."

 All three stepped forward, but it was Giles' hand that she took. For the second time that night, Buffy was swept into a man's arms. This time, however, she didn't complain.

 "Sydney's upstairs." Giles told Oliver as they went inside. Oliver went up and Giles settled Buffy on the couch. He took her face in his hands. "You all right?"

 Buffy reached out and pulled Giles' face down and kissed him. "I am now." She said when she pulled back. "How's Sydney?"

 "Sydney'll be fine." Duncan said as he came downstairs so that Sydney and Oliver could have a minute. "She'll need some time, but she's ... Well, she's all there."

   In the loft Sydney looked up at Oliver. She reached out and touched his face. "I messed up."

 Oliver brushed her hair from her face. "Doesn't matter. You're here, now."

 "It was awful, but I could remember." Sydney told him. "How long?"

 "A long time." Oliver told her.

 Sydney smiled. "You look the same. Sam, my Mom?"

 "They're safe." Oliver assured her. "I promised, remember?" Sydney nodded. "I missed you, Sydney. I didn't think I'd ever miss anyone like that again."

 "Oliver." Sydney breathed his name. He leaned down and gently placed his lips to hers.

   Giles gently cleaned Buffy's face with a warm washcloth, he was surprised when she smiled. He followed her eyes and saw his cousin kissing his Sydney. Giles smiled and returned his gaze to Buffy. "Expecting that, were you?"

 Buffy grinned. "Weren't you?" She asked in return. "I think they have the right idea."

 Giles raised a brow, but leaned forward and once again kissed Buffy. He put down the washcloth and wrapped his arms around her as he deepened the kiss. Xander looked from the loft to the couch. "Okay, that's just too weird."

   It was hours later. Giles had sent Oliver, Sydney and Duncan back to LA with Wesley along with a request that Angel help them disappear along with Sydney's Mother and sister. The others had gone home and Buffy was asleep upstairs. That was when he decided to read the message that Wesley had given him from Angel.

 Giles opened it and blinked. It was a very short message. It simply said 'Be happy.' Giles looked up at the loft and smiled. They would be.