By Elle

Title: Serendipity
Author: Elle
Rating: NC-17
Feedback: Yes, please!
Disclaimer: I don't own them, I never will. They belong to Joss and Mutant Enemy and other important TV people.
Setting: Post Season 4
Summary: Buffy and Giles are stranded in a haunted house. The title comes from the blurb for the movie of the same name: "When fate has a sense of humor, it's called serendipity."

Giles's sexy, sleek, brand new, cherry-red convertible sputtered, coughed, and promptly died.

Giles let out a series of colorful expletives, followed by a few choice gestures. The road in front of him was utterly black and further obscured by pounding rain.

In the seat beside him, Buffy smirked.

"What?" he snapped.

"I just think it's ironic that," she paused, fighting back another smirk, "well, that you traded in that crappy old Citroën for this fabulous new car… which doesn't work."

"I'm so glad to know that you're amused," Giles replied dryly, turning the key in the ignition. The engine sputtered to life, then choked dead again.

He made several more attempts to restart the engine, each one ending with another sputter.

"Battery must be dead." Giles banged his fist against the steering wheel.

Buffy raised an eyebrow.

"Better hit the car one more time, you know, in case it still has any funny ideas."

He ignored her, muttering to himself. "But it's a new car, new battery… none of this makes any sense." He turned to Buffy. "I don't suppose that Slayer strength of yours is up to the task of pushing her through the rain."

She gave him a dark look.

Giles sighed. "Fabulous. I'll push, you steer."

Buffy grinned, happy to be doing something that resembled driving.

It only took Giles a few moments to become totally soaked through by the pouring rain. Above him the clouds were thick and black, showing no signs of letting up anytime soon. On the horizon lightning flickered, a precursor for what was yet to come.

Grumbling miserably, he pushed the car, rolling it into a grassy ditch. The road was rural, offering no street lamps and, with the battery dead, he didn't have the luxury of hazard lights. The last thing he wanted was another driver colliding with his stalled vehicle; it would be safer off the road.

The car's timing couldn't have been worse. It was well past midnight, and he and Buffy were stranded on a lonely country highway. Another car might not pass by until after dawn, or possibly later. The last farmhouse they had passed was easily twenty miles behind them, and in the storm, it was difficult to tell whether or not any houses lay ahead.

Begrudgingly, Giles realized that it had been he who insisted they take this particular route. He had intentionally chosen country highways to avoid towns where Buffy might be tempted to pull over and shop. Also, rather slyly, he was thinking about having some quality time with his Slayer, which meant no distractions: cell phones; Scoobies; or the like. With college and slaying on her schedule, Buffy hardly had time for an old man like him anymore and, though he was loath to admit it, he missed his pupil terribly. Hence, a supposed demonic uprising in a no name town one hundred miles from Sunnydale was an excellent excuse to bond with Buffy.

…Except they were stuck in the rain, in the middle of nowhere, with no cell phone, and no one near by to help them.

*Wonderful idea, old man,* Giles chided himself, *perfectly genius.*

When Giles climbed back in the car he was drenched and shivering. Buffy felt a twinge of guilt that she hadn't offered to go outside and push instead.

"What now?" she asked. "You brought a cell phone, right?"

Giles didn't reply.

"Right?" she insisted.

He mumbled something British and angry.

Buffy let out a sigh and rested her head on the seat back. "So, we're stuck?"

"Until someone finds us, yes," Giles replied, more controlled this time. "When the rain stops I can start walking back to the farmhouse we passed."

Buffy looked at him incredulously. "But that was way back there."

"You have a better idea?" he asked, rather snappishly.

She shook her head, put off by his tone. Above them thunder crackled. They waited in silence as the storm worsened, each one irritated by the other. Buffy started humming just to annoy him. He, in turn, began to drum his fingers on the steering wheel, each time getting louder.

Lightning split the sky, and Buffy stopped humming.

"Did you see that?" she asked.

"The lightning?"

"No, the house," she said, "it's just down the road. The lightning illuminated it. We could make a run for it." She turned to Giles.

He shrugged. The car was getting stuffy, and he was beginning to feel chilled from his wet clothes.

They clamored out of the car, and began to run like mad through the rain for the sanctuary of the house.

As they got closer, the house revealed itself to be a mansion - the kind of mansion that had turrets and gargoyles and a rusty old gate. Buffy suppressed an involuntary shiver, but dashed for the building anyway. Anything was better than the car.

She stopped under the shelter of the porch and began pounding wildly on the front door.

Giles stood a few feet behind her, surveying the building. The paint was chipped and flaking, a few of the windows were boarded up and the whole structure had a rather dilapidated look about it.

"I don't believe that anyone lives here anymore," he told Buffy.

"Okay then." She reared back and kicked down the front door.

Giles followed her inside.

Mabel peered through the dusty glass of the attic window, watching the two figures escape the storm. She smiled, sensing the tension between them. Rarely did such a choice opportunity present itself to her. She would barely have to try this time.

"Edward," she called softly, "we have guests."

The interior of the house was musty, but otherwise dry and warm. Blinking in the darkness, Buffy let her eyes adjust, and then realized that she had selected a very bad day to wear a white top. Crossing her arms over her chest she kept her back to Giles.

The foyer of the mansion was elegantly tiled with a gilded mirror hanging on the wall. Beyond that was a sitting room, furnished with old, but still beautiful, furniture. The wallpaper had faded, and a layer of dust coated all the surfaces, but the place still retained a sense of its former dignity.

"I can't believe anyone would just leave this furniture here," Giles remarked, studying a fainting couch, "it's exquisite. Probably antique, too."

When Buffy only muttered a reply, he looked up and noticed the way her shirt was plastered against her skin in a filmy layer. He had seen her in compromising positions before, wet, bloody, clothing shredded, but the sight of her in a wet t-shirt was almost pornographic. Awkwardly, he offered her his jacket.

"Let' s go upstairs," he suggested. "There might be some clothing left behind as well."

Slipping gratefully into his coat, Buffy followed Giles up the winding staircase in the front hall.

Giles paused, noticing that the lamps fixed to the wall still had oil in them. He searched for a match in his pocket and, producing a box, lit them one by one as they traveled down the hall.

Buffy felt warmed by the amber lamplight, and watched the shadows dance across the old gold and scarlet wallpaper.

The hallway was lined with six doors. Ahead of her, Giles opened them one by one. The first was a nursery. Buffy fought the urge to shudder as she studied the toys on the floor, eerily unused and covered in cobwebs. The second door was a linen closet, from which Giles took two towels. Shaking the dust off of them he handed one to Buffy. Idly, she dried her hair and followed him further into the gloom.

The third door led to a guest room, it's furniture Spartan and sturdy. The closet and dresser held nothing but spider webs. The fourth door closed off an enormous bathroom, complete with large claw- footed tub and a toilet flushed by a gold pull-chain.

Giles walked over to the sink, and turned the handle. The faucet squeaked and rust colored water trickled forward. To his amazement, the water eventually began to run clear. He tasted it tentatively.

"It's safe," he told Buffy.

"The toilet works too," she remarked, pulling the chain and listening to the water gurgle.

They moved on to the next room. It was undeniably masculine, dominated by a solid oak four-poster bed. The sheets, now faded, had once been a deep green, as had the drapes. There was a small oak writing desk and chair, a dresser, and a wardrobe. Sitting on the nightstand was a pipe, a tin of tobacco, and a copy Charles Dickens' s Hard Times.

Giles went to the wardrobe. It was filled with men's clothes, all but a few pieces moth-eaten and threadbare. "Shall we investigate the last room?" he asked Buffy.

Secretly, she was glad he offered to accompany her rather than stay behind and change. Despite her title as Vampire Slayer Extraordinaire, there was something about the house she didn't like. The final room proved to belong to the lady of the house. The bed was slightly smaller, offering frothy rose-colored curtains for added privacy. The walls were papered with pink and ivory vertical stripes and a floral border. Like the man's room, the lady's also had a writing desk, a wardrobe, as well as a vanity.

Buffy searched through drawers, eventually finding a few garments that could still be worn.

Giles cleared his throat. "I'll go across the hall and let you change. Knock when you're finished; we'll head downstairs."

"Sure," Buffy replied quietly.

After he left she peeled out of her wet things, and looked at the options before her. The corset was a definite no, as were the silk stockings. There was a bodice to a dress that appeared too big, and a petticoat with enough lace to drown in. Lastly, there was a nightgown, with a sort of robe that went over it.

Abandoning everything but her panties, Buffy slipped the nightgown over her head. It was a billowy affair, with lace on the sleeves and the scooped neckline. Between her breasts was a small, pink bow. She stood in front of the vanity in the shapeless garment and studied herself in the mirror.

*I'm a cross between Elizabeth Bennet and Pollyanna,* she thought dryly. When she noticed her eyeliner, smeared by rain, she changed her mind, *more like Elizabeth Bennet does porn.*

She took an old brush from the vanity, cleaned it off, and brushed out her hair. She wiped the remainder of her makeup off on the towel, and belting the robe around her, went to find Giles.

There was a man in the hallway, silhouetted by the flickering lamplight. He was broad shouldered and lean hipped, his legs accentuated by the tight, calfskin breeches he wore. His shirt was off white and faded, tucked into his pants, with billowing sleeves and a high collar that buttoned around his neck. He was barefoot; there was something remarkably intimate about that.

Buffy stopped in her tracks, her heart leaping into her throat.

The man turned. It was Giles.

He squirmed under her scrutiny. "There was a vest, cravat, and coat as well," he explained, "but it seemed ridiculous to get so dressed up. Um… and the boots didn't fit."

"Good," said Buffy, then quickly, "I mean, sure. Fine."

Mentally, she slapped herself. She knew exactly what her problem was: the one book she had stayed awake in English to read was Pride and Prejudice, resulting in a month's worth of Colin-Firth-as-Mr.-Darcy fantasies… which were coming back to haunt her, of course.

"Shall we go downstairs, then?" Giles asked. "I doubt that there's a working phone, but it's worth a try."

Inexplicably, Buffy's throat was dry, so she nodded mutely, and followed him down the stairs.

"She's smitten," Mabel said, delighted.

Edward stood behind her, watching the pair descend the staircase. "Oh, I believe the gentleman is quite at odds with himself as well," he replied.

Mabel gave him a haughty look. "Every time we do this you say the same thing. You always think the man will crumble first, but you're never right. A lady recognizes love first - it's in her nature."

Edward shook his head. "Yes, but there's something about these two… He's been denying it so long. Can't you see it in his eyes when he looks at her? He's her protector, who's resorted to protecting her from himself." Edward let out a chuckle.

Mabel just shook her head. "We'll see who wins this time, dear. I have a feeling about that girl. She's still so naive, but she senses it. They both do."

Edward slid his arm around his wife. "Same terms as usual?"

"Of course."

"Then let the games begin."

"I wonder if this used to be a museum," Giles said aloud. "It's obviously so old, one would think it would have been renovated by now."

Buffy made a face. "Figures, I get stuck in a museum on a dark and stormy night. Sounds like one of my nightmares."

Giles found two candles, and using his last match, lit them. He handed one to Buffy.

He didn't want to say anything, but she seemed incredibly out of sorts. Frightened, even. It was very odd for his usually stoic Slayer.

Perhaps it was the nightgown that made her appear more innocent than usual. The white, lacey cloth made her appear even younger, or perhaps just more virginal. Also, her eyes were wide and dark, her face washed clean.

Mortified, he found himself more embarrassed about his reaction to her current appearance than he had been when he had seen through her t-shirt.

*Sick bastard,* he thought coldly.

He turned away from her, and said abruptly, "I'm going into the kitchen to check for a phone. You search the living room."

Buffy was startled by his tone, even more so that he strode away from her, leaving her in the relative darkness, clutching her candle.

Silently she scolded herself. She was the Slayer, after all. Monsters told stories about her to scare their children. She was the Big Bad. So why were her knees shaking?

Buffy forced herself to go into the living room. It was a vast room, boasting plush sofas and armchairs. A small piano stood in one corner and a fireplace against the far wall. She did a quick survey of the room; as Giles had assumed, there was no phone, not even an outlet for one.

Buffy sighed, and then noticed a small box on the coffee table. It was white, and held closed by a small gold latch.

Tentatively, she approached the object, and lifted its lid.


There was no phone in the kitchen. Giles rummaged through cupboards and found them bare. He hadn't expected to find any food anyway. The kitchen was large, but devoid of any appliance more modern than an icebox. Sitting on a stool in front of the butcher's block, he let out a sigh.

He had been curt with Buffy. It wasn't in his nature to be rude, but he had desperately needed to put distance between them. The sight of her in that diaphanous white gown could have killed him. Giles rubbed his temples. He wanted to believe that his reaction was the result of too many lonely nights, but he knew the truth. This thing had been building up inside him for a long time, and if he didn't learn to control it soon, he would be doomed to act upon it.

Buffy carefully lifted the white lid back. Within the box was a mechanism of dusty gears and screws. As the lid clicked all the way back the box began to play Someone to Watch Over Me.

The soft tinkling music drowned out the sound of Giles's approach.

"How odd," he said, causing Buffy to jump and drop the box.

He walked over to her, and crouched down to retrieve the item. "Sorry," he said softly, and brushed his hand over her damp hair in a comforting gesture. For whatever reason, Buffy shivered.

Giles studied the music box. "This song wasn't released until the mid 1920's," he mused. Looking around him he added, "Outside the house appears gothic, inside it's Victorian, and these clothes look much, much older. But how they stayed intact… This place is one big anachronism."

"If I knew what that meant I'd agree with you," Buffy offered helpfully.

"It means nothing here belongs in the same time period," he explained.

He glanced at Buffy. Her hair was drying in curls, and with the candlelight behind her, he could see the silhouette of her body through her gown. A quick glance at her chest told him she was cold as well.

Trying not to blush Giles moved to the fireplace. "Let's see if we can't warm up a bit," he suggested.

There was a small stack of firewood in a wrought iron holder against one wall. Giles felt each log; they were dry and perfect for burning. He shook his head; if they had been left in the damp of the mansion for very long they should have been moldy and decayed.

Nevertheless, he arranged them in the fireplace, opened the flue, and finding a match in a canister on the mantle, lit a piece of paper to get the fire started. Within minutes the room was basked in a warm orange glow.

Buffy dragged two cushions off the couch and shook the dust from them. She tossed them on the floor and motioned for Giles to sit beside her. After a moment of hesitation, he did.

She gazed into the fire. "All we need is Smores," she mused quietly.

"Are you warm enough?" he asked.

She nodded. After a pause, she spoke. "Is it just me, or do you get the feeling we aren't alone here?"

"Something strange is going on here," he agreed, "but I don't necessarily feel as though we're in danger."

Lightning flashed outside, and Buffy moved closer to Giles just in case.

Mabel paced the hallway. "What's taking her so long?" she demanded of no one. "She's already got the shivers, the tingles, the water in her knees… What does she need, a sign from God?"

Edward clucked his tongue. "Are we afraid we might be losing, love?"

Mabel snorted delicately. "Hardly, darling. It's just a minor set back."

Edward smirked. "Good, because I do believe the gentleman is about to crumble."

Neither Buffy nor Giles spoke for a long time. They sat soaking up the warmth of the fire until their skin was almost too hot to touch. Finally, as he noticed her eyelids drooping, Giles broke the silence.

"Perhaps we should go to bed," he said.

Buffy glanced up at him, her eyes dark and warm.

Giles cleared his throat. "You can take the lady's room. I'll sleep in the gentleman's," he clarified.

Buffy yawned. "Of course."

He helped her to her feet, and leaving the fire to burn itself out, followed her upstairs.

The second floor was significantly colder, and Buffy felt her body tense.

"Do you think it's a good idea to separate?" she asked.

Giles wanted desperately to say no. He wanted to convince her to sleep in his bed, so that maybe, by some twist of fate, he could spend the night holding her, smelling her… and ultimately increasing his suffering.

"There's been no sign of trouble thus far," he said instead. "I'm sure all will be fine."

Buffy nodded, and murmured a goodnight. She padded into her room and closed the door.

Giles let out a groan of frustration.

Buffy slid between the cold sheets of her bed. She had been tempted to insist they sleep together, but at the last minute, self- consciousness had won out.

The chill of the night descended upon her and she shivered in the darkness. She squeezed her eyes closed. She was used to the night, but it was never this lonely. She pretended he was beside her, warm and safe, so that she could fall asleep.

It was ridiculous, but she wanted to be next to him, against him. She wanted to smell him as she dozed off, and to hear the sound of his breathing. She wanted to taste him and feel his hands against her skin. She wanted to hear his voice in her ear telling her dark and wicked things.

But these thoughts were wrong because he was Giles, and he was her Watcher, and they could never, ever…

For a split second Buffy thought she heard a female voice say "For the love of God."

Then the mirror over the vanity shattered.

Buffy bolted from her bed.

Giles dragged his pillow over his head, wishing he wasn't so damn noble.

He was in love with his Slayer. It certainly wasn't an unusual occurrence; the diaries of former Watchers listed the same thing occurring over and over again throughout history. When two people fought beside each other, risked death for one another, bled for one another… well, strong emotional bonds were bound to occur.

Giles sighed. But in years past it wasn't as scandalous for a young woman to become involved with an older man, in fact it was common. Now, a May December relationship made the man look like a pedophile… Which was exactly what Buffy would think of him as, he realized.

Giles was about to force himself to stop thinking such thoughts when his bedroom door flew open. Buffy stood in the doorway, her eyes large.

"Something's in my room," she said.

Giles sat upright. "Something?"

"It broke the mirror."

Giles climbed out of bed, and followed her across the hall. Staying close to one another, they inspected the room, finding little more than broken glass.

Giles looked at Buffy. "Are you sure the wind didn't-"

"Giles, the windows are closed."

Giles shook his head. "Something odd is going on here. I believe it's best we stay close together until we can leave in the morning."

Nodding in agreement, Buffy followed him back to his room. For a moment, they both stared at the bed, unsure of what to do next.

"I could sleep in the chair," Giles offered.

"And freeze to death?" Buffy asked. "Besides, you'd hurt your back."

Giles grinned a bit. "Have you forgotten all those nights spent in the library asleep at my desk? My back is used to it." He paused, growing more serious. "You're sure you don't mind?"

Buffy smiled at him. "Giles, I trust you."

He felt a twinge of guilt at her comment, and one of happiness. Four sweeter words had never been uttered… or four more fatal ones.

The pair climbed into, careful not to touch the other. Lying there stiffly, Buffy realized that there was no chance sleep would find her tonight. Not with him so close, his smell surrounding her, his warmth beside her.

After a few minutes the room began to grow noticeably colder. Within a few more it was nearly freezing. Buffy's teeth chattered, her breath condensing in the air before her.

"The window must not be sealed well," Giles muttered. After a beat he spoke again. "Perhaps I should… For the sake of warmth…" He cleared his throat. "Buffy, may I hold you?"

She didn't reply, but moved in closer to him, letting his arms enclose her. Placing her head on his chest she marveled in the heat of his body, and the strength of his embrace. Lazily, his hands rubbed slow, sensual circles on her back. Buffy exhaled, feeling utterly safe and content. It was if she belonged there, pressed against him, hearing his heartbeat. They would take care of each other; they always had.

She felt the heavy weight of sleep settle over her, and succumbed to it.

Mabel stared at the duo, her mouth agape. "They haven't…they aren't doing anything," she all but spat.

Edward chuckled at his wife's reaction. "Give them time, angel."

"We don't have time," she pointed out, "dawn will arrive and-"

"Shh!" Edward hissed. "Look!"

Chuckling again he tactfully led his wife from the room to give their guests privacy.


Buffy woke before the sun was up. Only a few hours had passed, but she felt refreshed. Beside her Giles stirred. She had turned on to her side, with him at her back. As he moved, she felt his rather obvious erection at her back.

*It happens to all men,* she reminded herself. *It doesn't mean he wants you.*

His arm slid over her, hand brushing her nipple.

*Oh, hell.*

Buffy, sighed and arched into his touch. He stiffened. It was then she realized he had never been asleep.

Torn between desire and mortification, Buffy chose the former.

Mocking his earlier formality, she whispered. "Giles, may I make love to you?"

He groaned.

She turned, looking him in the eye. His face was scruffy, his hair tousled, and the white shirt open at the chest. His eyes stole the breath from her lungs. They were burning and dark, malachite fire.

Despite her previous boldness, it was he who made the first move. His hand squeezed her breast, almost painfully. She moaned. He moved over her, and she pulled the already loose shirt from his shoulders.

He paused, his mouth just millimeters above her, breath hot against her skin. Firm lips were brushed against hers, once, twice, maddeningly slow. His tongue darted out to taste her, slipping between her tips. He teased her, touching the tip of his tongue against hers, and then retreating again. She arched up off the bed, desperate to deepen the kiss. He complied, almost violently.

As he kissed her, his hands slid up her sides, tracing the slope of her hips, the curve of her waist, and the softness of her breasts. He reached down for the hemline of the nightgown, and drew it over her in one swift motion.

He directed his wicked, teasing mouth to her breasts, sending pin pricks of fire shooting through her.

Buffy was desperate to gain some sort of control over the situation. She reached down beneath him, slowly tracing his erection with her fingertips. She kept her touch intentionally too light. None of it affected him, if anything his attentions became more intense. It was then that she realized she was in bed with the man who had been Ripper. The first time would belong to him.

As if to prove her right, he slid further down, placing her legs over his shoulders. He kissed the tender skin at the back of her knees, rubbed his whiskers along the sensitized skin of her thighs, and stopped just at the juncture of her sex. Slowly his tongue crept out to touch her.

She shuddered.

He relished it.

He kissed her there, not bothering to spend anymore time teasing. He found the bead like bundle of nerves that was almost painfully sensitive now, and taking it into his lips, sucked. Hard.

She screamed, shivering, shuddering, and sobbing all at once.

She didn't know when Giles had slid out his pants, but as she floated down from her orgasm, she felt him slowly pushing into her. The process began again, shorter this time, but with the same result for both of them.

As he moved within her, she heard him speak for the first time. His voice was deeper and raw; his speak speckled with words of endearment. In the course of a few moments she went from being his "Slayer" to becoming his "luv."

After he held her tightly, almost as if he expected to her to run.

Sighing, she kissed his chin, and whispered, "I love you."

Drifting off to sleep, he didn't hear her.

"Ha!" Mabel said. "She said it first. I win!"

Edward smiled at his wife. Drawing her into an embrace he said, "Yes dear, but losing to you is just as fun."

They kissed.

When Buffy woke the sun was up and Giles was gone.

She sat in bed, momentarily afraid of rejection. There was a knock on the door and Giles entered.

He wore his own clothes, not the Darcy-esque outfit.

Refusing to look at her nude form he spoke. "I went out to the car. It works again. Bloody thing. Anyway, if you want to get dressed we can leave."

He didn't give her a chance to reply. Turning he closed the door behind him.

Buffy tried to ignore the raw feeling in the back of her throat and the stinging in her eyes. She never would have believed she could have been a quick lay for Giles. But what else could explain his behavior? He had canceled their trip, deciding to drive home instead. And he hadn't spoken a word since they left.

Buffy stared out her window, not wanting him to see her cry.

Miles passed before either one could work up the nerve to address the topic.

It was Giles who broke down first.

"Buffy, about last night," he cleared his throat. "It could have been any number of things. We both noticed a presence in the house. It could have been a spell, or possibly a case of possession."

"Fabulous, so the best sex of my life was with a ghost," Buffy replied hoarsely.

"Excuse me?" Giles said, very nearly swerving into oncoming traffic.

Buffy turned to him, and he felt a stab of pain at her tears.

"That was you with me, I know it," she said bitterly. "It was your voice and your eyes. And it wasn't a spell." She choked back a sob. "You took advantage of me."

Giles swallowed. "I'm so sorry Buffy. I can't justify my actions. You're correct. I betrayed your trust, and took advantage of you when you were afraid and vulnerable. I should have known that the next morning you would be appalled."

Buffy blinked. "What are you talking about? You used me for a one night fling."

"It wasn't a fling, Buffy. Even I wouldn't do that. I've been noticing this attraction to you for some time, and though I fought against it, it appears that I am mortal after all. I'll be out of your life in a day, I promise that-"

"But I don't want you out of my life. I want you in it. Beside me. Like last night." Buffy stared at him. "I thought you used me for sex."

Giles let out a sigh of relief. "God no. I thought you felt as though I had forced you somehow…"

She swiped at her face, before leaning in to kiss his cheek. "I love you Rupert Giles."

Now she saw what might have been tears in his eyes. "I love you too."

The light of day burned brightly against the road. A minivan cruised down the country road; its passenger's observing the scenery.

Without warning it pulled over beside an empty field.

"You see that kids?" asked the driver.

"Yeah, neat," his son remarked dryly. "That's where Edward and Mabel Noble used to live. They came to California during the gold rush and made an incredible amount of money."

"They found gold?"

"Actually, they opened a hotel chain that housed the people foolish enough to go looking for the gold."

The kids snorted. Their father continued.

"Anyway, that's where they built their house. They died before having any children and their money went to a relative."

"How'd they die?" the daughter asked, now interested.

"Horrible fire," their father replied. "Devoured their mansion."

For a moment the family sat staring at the empty field that had once housed a grandiose mansion, now barren and silent. In some places the grass still refused to grow after being charred nearly over one hundred years ago.

"They say that on a dark and stormy night you can still see the house."

"Dad, you are so lame." The son rolled his eyes. "Let's go. I've gotta pee."

Buffy dozed with her head against Giles's shoulder.

Staring at the freeway ahead of them, she asked "What do you think was in that house, anyway?"

Giles kissed her head. "Whatever it was we ought to be grateful for it."

Very far away, Mabel whispered, "You're welcome."