Shadowfall
By Surnia

Title: Shadowfall
Author: Surnia
e-mail:
ABewley@compuserve.com
Rating:  NC-17
Content:  B/G. Set after A New Man.
Disclaimer: All things Buffy belong to Joss Whedon, the WB, FOX and Mutant Enemy and  20th Century Fox Film Corporation and whoever else has a legal claim to them.
Distribution: Let me know.


Ethan scowled at the sign which marked his re-entry into Sunnydale. "Welcome to Sunnydale". Not bloody likely. He had escaped from incarceration in Nevada by putting a spell on his guard and then leaving him in a casino in Las Vegas. Then he had to call in a few favours and do a few minor ensorcellments for various people. Thank you very much, Ripper & co for dropping me right in it! This time he was going to deal with Ripper and then they'd see who had the upper hand. He grimaced and hit the steering wheel with his hand when he remembered the smug expression on Giles' face as he watched him being bundled into the humvee. This time, however,  he had the perfect solution. How to rub his superiority in Giles' face without being thrashed. He chuckled at the thought.

He checked into a motel under a false name. No need to make things easy for the Slayer and her soldier friends. They found him way too easily last time. Not this time. He had brought all the necessary supplies with him so that he didn't need to buy anything. He really did need to learn to be invisible. He chortled at the thought. Poor choice of words. Someone else was about to learn how to be invisible. He opened his suitcase and removed a well-wrapped book. He carefully unwrapped the book and stroked the gold lettering on the cover: Kitab al-Ghuyyab. Vanishing spells. He had picked it up some years ago in the souk in Marrakesh. Chuckle. He carefully removed a couple of pages from the book and examined the transcriptions written on them. This should be fun. Oh, Rupert, old man, are you in for a surprise. You quite literally won't know what hit you.

Deciding that there was nothing like the present for wreaking chaos, he promptly set about setting up his casting circle. No point in hanging about and waiting for Ripper and his little Slayer to stop him. He gleefully prepared his spell and sat down with papers in one hand. As the pungent spells of the burning herbs filled the room, he held a picture of Giles in front of the bowl and intoned his spell:

"Ad'u khazin barazikh az-zilal wa'l-adwa' an yahdur wayuti'uni. ya khazin ihdur!"

He waved the picture through the smoke and said,

"Ilmas hadha'r-rajul bi-massika'l-maskhi wa iqdhifhu fi tayha'i'l-akhyila wa khilal al-ashbah. Ikhfihi fi tayy al-yambus!"

There was a flickering of the light of the candles in the room and the air went blurry for a moment and then all was still. Ethan grinned. Play time, Ripper. And you get to watch me play.

At that very moment Giles was walking from his kitchenette towards his sofa. His hand suddenly passed completely through the mug of tea in his hand. In shock, he watched it fall and smash on the floor. He reached for the pieces and his hands passed through them. He turned to the sofa and walked right through it. Oh bloody hell. This is marvelous. What the Hell has happened! He went to the mirror and looked at it. Nothing. He put his hand on it and it passed through it. What had happened? Was he a ghost? How could he be a ghost when he wasn't dead? This smacked of magic. He needed to ring Willow. He reached for the phone, but his hand went through it. Dammit! He looked at his watch. It had stopped. Figures he muttered. He looked at the clock on the mantlepiece. Buffy was due any minute.

The door opened and Buffy came in. She looked around and didn't see Giles. "Giles! Giles? Where are you? I'm on time!" Her eyes fell on the broken mug and the tea still staining the floor. "Oh no. Giles! GILES!" She raced up upstairs, looked in the bathroom and went out the door to look in the patio.

Giles followed her, yelling "Buffy!" He reached for her and his hand passed through her. She shivered and continued to look and then went and picked up the phone.

Giles stood behind her. Wonderful, I'm invisible to people as well. How the Hell am I going to get out of this!

Buffy had got through to Willow and he heard her say, 'Willow, Giles has disappeared! Yes, again! There's a broken mug on the floor and the tea hasn't been cleaned up. Giles would never leave spilled tea on the floor! What? No, no blood or damage. Just the mug. All his stuff seems to be here. You'll check the hospitals? Okay. I'll have another look. Hurry! Something's wrong!"

Giles was growing increasingly frustrated. If he was insubstantial, how was he going to communicate with anyone? Even that girl - what was her name? Marcie. She could move objects. This was hopeless. He couldn't do anything except watch. An ironic end for an ex-Watcher. So he watched Buffy pace up and down the apartment, muttering to herself. "Giles. You've *got* to be alive." She looked at the tea and went to get a cloth to clean it up and pick up the broken pieces. "You'd never leave that on the floor. Dammit. Where are you!"

"Buffy!" He shouted. "I'm here!" She continued to pace andhe said, "This is quite ludricrous. I'm completely flummoxed."

He started to lean back against the wall and went straight through it. Bloody Hell! He went outside in the sunlight and looked. No shadow - wait, there was something. Not much though. He sighed. It was so slight that no one would ever notice it. He saw Willow coming towards the door. "Willow! Willow" he shouted, waving his arms in front of her. She walked right through him.

Heaving a sigh of resignation, he followed her back into his apartment in time to see Buffy rush up to her and demand, "Anything?"

Willow shook her head. "Not in the hospitals or ... or the morgue or listed as having bought any tickets to anywhere." She looked around, "No sign of him?" Buffy shook her head. "Could he have been kidnapped?"

"He would have put up more of a struggle."

"Maybe someone could have shot him with a tranq or zapped him with one of those guns the Initiative uses?"

"Still... he would have knocked something down." She looked around carefully and then said, "If they had cleaned up, they would have picked up the broken mug and the tea." She put her hands on her hips. "I'm going to see Riley. If they've done something to Giles, I'll..."

"Or the Council?" Willow squeaked.

Buffy stopped. "Oh God, the Council, They wouldn't do anything to him, would they?" Willow shrugged.

Giles said, "Actually they would, even though they haven't. At least, I think they haven't. Not as yet."

"Well, I'm going to check out the Initiative first."

"Okay," Willow said. "I'll keep looking as well. Oh! Maybe I should call Cordelia and ask her to speak to Wesley."

"What good would that do?"

"My sentiments exactly," Giles muttered.

"He might know if it's the kind of thing they would do and how they would do it!"

"Go ahead. But I'm not holding my breath on that front."

"Very wise," he muttered as she went out the door. He decided to follow her and went out through the door.

He had trouble keeping up. "At least you would think I'd be unable to float or something," he complained, "and I can't even have a cup of tea!"

Buffy reached the campus and Lowell House, stormed up to Riley's room and burst in. Riley and Graham looked up in surprise.

"Did you do something with Giles!" she demanded.

"What?" Riley asked. "He's gone again?"

"DID YOU DO SOMETHING TO HIM?" she demanded, voice rising.

"Of course not!" he insisted.

"Did the Initiative?"

"No, of course not. We hunt demons, not people."

Graham said hurriedly, "I can go check to make sure that no one heard nything and whether there's been any reports."

Riley nodded to him and Buffy glared at him and then said, "You had better not be lying."

Graham held his hands up in surrender. "I'm not."

Giles followed Graham, curious to see where he went  and just what facilities The Initiative had. Graham went to the elevator and Giles went along with him. "Ah, the entrance to the Bat cave," he remarked as the elevaor opened. Once down in the complex, he followed Graham around, taking a good look at what was going on while Graham checked on the various reports coming in. Graham eventually picked up the phone and called Riley to tell him that there was nothing - no reports of any sort of activity in that area whatsoever. Giles shrugged and followed another commando up through the elevator.

Entering Riley's room again, he stopped short. Riley and Buffy were on the bed, Riley kissing her and assuring her it would all be all right and that they would help. "Right, and snogging is going to sort it out," he hissed.

He really should go, he told himself, while his body remained rooted to the spot as Riley teased her top up, exposing her breasts. He asked himself why he was overcome by urge to rip Riley's arm off as one of his hands cupped a breast. "Take advantage of her distress, you bounder," he muttered with venom. "And just how is this going to help solve the problem - other than the hormonal one?"

Buffy suddenly pushed his hand away, pulled her top down and got up. 'I don't have time for this, Riley. I have to find Giles."

"Thank God," Giles breathed.

"What is it with you and Giles?" Riley asked, a little puzzled. "I realise he's a friend, but there's only so much you can do."

"He's not just a friend. He's Giles. I've got to find him before something happens to him!" She swallowed, "Or if something has happened to him, then I have to kill whatever did it."

He sighed and said, "I'll  see what we can do. We did well last time."

"We need to find him *now*!" she insisted.

She turned and raced out the house, Giles following, a pleased smile on his face, which faded when he realised that he had no idea what he was going to do to get out of this situation.

Giles accompanied Buffy back to his apartment. He noticed that Xander and Anya were there. Willow had her laptop out and was looking frustrated. Anya looked bored.

"Any luck?" Willow asked eagerly.

Buffy shook her head and said, "What about you?"

"I spoke to Wesley. He said if it was the Council, they'd simply kill him."

"So no corpse is of the good," Xander said.

"What if they took him away somewhere?" Buffy asked.

Willow said, "If he went with them voluntarily, he would have taken some clothes or something."

"And nothing's missing. His jacket is still here. And there's so sign of a struggle."

"They could have tidied up," Anya observed.

Giving her a hard look, Willow continued, "Wesley says that they would have a cover story if they had kidnapped him."

"And we've got no cover story - yet."

Willow shook her head.

"SO WHERE IS HE?" Buffy said. "I have to *do* something."

"Maybe he just went with off with his orgasm friend," Anya said.

"Olivia?" Willow said, "But he would have taken some clothes."

"What would he need clothes for?" Anya asked.

"Bad visual," Xander commented with a shudder.

Willow said, "He would never leave spilled tea on the floor."

"I guess not - unless they got really passionate," Anya said.

Buffy turned a little green.

"There would have been more of a mess," Xander observed.

"True," Anya conceded. "Do you remember the mess we made when we ..."

"Anya!" Xander protested.

Buffy sat down looking miserable. "We have to do something."

"We need Giles to tell us what to do," Xander added.

Willow nodded, 'Yeah, he's the answer guy."

Giles observed the whole scene from a corner, realising how fond he was of them - even Anya was somewhat endearing. The problem was - even he didn't have the answer. Answer guy - he could live with that.

Buffy stood up. "Magic. Willow, is there some way of doing magic to find him?"

"A locator spell! Yes." She leapt up and went to the books and pulled one out. There's one here." She quickly read through it. "Okay, I need to get some ingredients from the magic shop and we'll try it."

Buffy left with her and Giles followed. He rather doubted that a normal locater spell would work. Would a seance or ghost detection spell work? Hard to tell when he didn't have a clue as to what had happened to him. Maybe he should have a look around himself. He wondered if he would get hungry or thirsty. Did he need sleep? My God,was he doomed to become an disembodied lurker like Angel?

He walked around possible haunts of sorcerers, but found nothing. When he got back to his apartment, they were all sitting around despondently. "I can't believe that there was nothing," Willow said. "Maybe I did it wrong! But it's such a simple spell. It should at least tell us the direction where he is. But nothing!"

Anya said, "Maybe he's dead."

They all glared at her. Willow said, "It should work, whether he's alive or dead."

Anya shrugged and said, "Maybe he's been sucked into a demon dimension."

Willow said, "There should be a hole or something left."

Anya frowned. "That's a point."

Buffy put her head in her bands. "This is just not happening."

Xander said, "I vote we go look for him. We try all the places. We'll could get Spike to help."

Willow nodded, "I'll go and get some help to do the spell again. Make it stronger or something. Maybe there's some kind of ward up."

"Which would mean he was a prisoner," Buffy said.

Everyone went silent for a time and they eventually left.

A few minutes later Buffy was on her own. She curled up on the sofa and started to sniff. Unseen, Giles sat down beside her. He went to put his hand on her shoulder to comfort her, but it went through her. She shivered and rubbed her arm. Giles frowned and did it again. She shivered again. "Great," he said, "I can give you the shivers but can't let you know I'm here. Just bloody wonderful." He noticed a tear run down her cheek. "Oh Buffy," he said, "I'm so ."

A few minutes later, she got a tissue and wiped her nose. She walked upstairs and picked up a sweater of his, sniffed it and lay down on his bed clutching it to her. He sat on the edge of the bed, watching her and wishing he could do something to let her know that he was there.

Frustrated at being unable to do anything, he decided to look around further and see if he could discover who was responsible and find out how to reverse this. And then he'd thrash them properly.

***

Later that night, Giles sat alone in the cemetery, looking at the stars. A vampire had walked right through him and a demon walked by, completing ignoring him. Well, for the first time in his life since he was a child, graveyards at night were now safe places for him. Small comfort. He didn't appear either hungry or sleepy. He wondered if it was possible to sleep. Did ghosts sleep? Or spirits or whatever the Hell he was. At least, disembodied appeared to mean free of bodily needs. Well, physical needs at least, he thought, thinking back to Riley. How dare he take advantage when she was upset. All the tosser wanted to do was get a leg over. Bloody pseudo-squaddie.

Scowling, he decided to check back and see whether Buffy was all right. He strode along, noticing that while he moved at his normal pace, he felt no fatigue in walking. Lack of friction? Oh well.

Back in his apartment, Buffy had fallen asleep on his bed, still clutching the sweater. He gently ran his along her cheek. Where his fingers brushed the skin, he felt a tingle of electricity. He sighed and bent over and kissed her forehead or at least tried to. She gave an almost inaudible groan.

He went back downstairs, looked around for a few minutes, seeing if they had left any notes lying around, and then out in search of Willow to see what she was up to. He eventually found her sitting opposite a blonde girl around a circle. He noticed that there was some hair in the circle. His, no doubt. Right colour. He watched with interest while they tried the spell. Suddenly the hair exploded in the circle and he felt himself flung backwards and through the wall.

He picked himself up and came back into the room. This girl was a powerful witch! Both Willow and Tara looked shellshocked.

"What was that?" Willow asked shakily.

"I don't know. I've never seen anything like that."

"But no location."

Tara shook her head and said, "It's like he's not here and there's nothing for the spell to work on."

"Then where is he?" Willow asked in exasperation.

"I don't know," Tara admitted. "And I don't know why the spell did that."

"He can't have been sucked into a demon dimension, can he?"

"I don't know," she repeated.

"Oh God, what are we going to do?" Willow said, her lip starting to tremble.

Giles sighed and turned and walked out of the building. He walked to the mansion, thinking that this was not at all a pleasant. dilemma. As he walked into the garden, he froze at what he saw in front of him.

"Rowan!"

"Ripper!"

The long-haired blonde came towards him and took his hands. He squeezed them back and said, "How? Rowan, you're dead."

"Very. I'm in the spirit plane."

"Why didn't I see you before? Am I dead?"

She shook her head and said, "You're in some odd in-between state. Whatever those witches did, it's put you more in focus so that I could reach you."

"You mean I'm further away from them?"

"Space is very odd here. It's like you were out-of-phase with everything and you've been pushed more into phase with whatever sphere I exist in."

"I don't suppose I could somehow get them to keep it up until I become solid again?"

"Somewhat difficult."

He stepped closer and stroked her face. "I never thought I'd see you again. When you were killed, I-I never got the chance to apologise."

She stroked his face, "It doesn't matter, Rupert. I chose to try that spell with Ethan. It was my choice."

"If I hadn't taught you magic ..."

"I would have learned it myself - and perhaps done far worse."

He nodded an admission and then asked, "What are you doing in Sunnydale?"

"I occasionally look in to see what you're doing. And Ethan's here. I tend to try and haunt him. Not very successfully."

"Ethan," he growled.

"Is here in Sunnydale," she stated.

"What? Then he..."

"Is responsible. But I don't know what sort of spell he did. But he fairly reeks of fresh magic."

"Are you like a ghost. Poltergeist? Can you move things?" he asked eagerly.

"Only in the place where I died. Which is now a dreary tower block. Which is due for demolition in any case."

"So I'm going to be like this forever?" he said, disheartened.

She looked at him with a smile and said, "I hope not. I would hate for Ethan to succeed."

"What can I do?"

"I have an idea. But first you have to answer a question."

"Yes?"

"Are you in love with her?"

He visibly jumped, knowing who she meant. 'I-I love her, of course."

"That's not what I asked. You need to answer that question before we proceed, Rupert."

He walked across the courtyard, looking through the window and letting his hand pass through the wall. "What does it matter? It's not reciprocated."

"I'll take that as a yes. Rupert, you're going to have to trust me on this. First, shall we see what Ethan's up to?"

~~~~

He followed Rowan to a motel and growled in indignation as he saw Ethan preening himself in the mirror. He splashed a little cologne on and said to himself, "While the Ripper's away, the cat will play."

Giles growled again and lashed at Ethan, but of course, the punch went straight through him. He stalked around the room and his eyes lighted on the book. He squinted and read, "Kitab al-Ghuyyub. The book of Invisibles. He *is* responsible, the bleeding tosspot."

Rowan put a hand on his shoulder and said, "Nothing you can do here."

"I have to stop him," he insisted.

"And you can't do it here," she replied. "What are you going to do?"

"God, why the Hell didn't I kill him years ago?"

"Because you've got a conscience. Come on, Rupert. We need to find a way to get you out of this." She smiled at him, "As much as I like having you around, I'm dead and you're not. And they need you."

He gave Ethan one last glare and followed her out. They sat in a park. Watching her, Giles was again overwhelmed by guilt and said, "Rowan, I am so sorry that ..."

"Don't, Rupert. Don't start on that again. It's not your fault."

"If I hadn't introduced you to Ethan..."

"I would have probably met him through someone else. Not your fault."

He sighed. "So what do I do now? I can't sit about and watch Ethan wreak his brand of chaos on all and sundry!"

"And that's probably what he had in mind, knowing Ethan."

"What do I do, Rowan? I know that look. You seem to have an idea."

"Something akin to what might be called a spirit walk. Interact with her dreams."

"Her dreams? How can that help?"

"If she's dreaming about you, you can take the place of your dream persona."

"That's a long shot, Rowan. She probably doesn't dream about me."

She shrugged. "if she's worried about you being missing, she might well. You just need to convey the information and hope she acts on it." She frowned. "It might take several attempts to get through. It's not easy - and sometimes dreams are, well, different to what one expects."

"You mean surreal."

"Sometimes , but often they're erotic."

"Oh bloody marvellous, I get to take part in erotic dreams of Angel and Riley!"

She giggled. "You can always wait try again if it's too intimate. And you need to meld with your dream persona so that you have some control over what you say." Giles didn't look at all happy. "What is it, Rupert?"

"I don't like the idea of violating someone's private dreams. It's ... it's just vulgar."

"It's the only way."

"And I shudder to think how she views me in her dreams. Probably doddering along with a cane."

"Well, time to find out."

He looked at her and stroked her cheek. "It's good to have you with me in this - and to see you after all this time."

"It's good to see you too, Rupert. But I suggest you make a start. I'm not at all certain whether this becomes more permanent the longer you remain."

"Bloody marvellous. Just frigging bloody marvellous."

Giles went back to his apartment. He noticed another empty mug and glass on the coffee table and found that Buffy had got under the covers. She had obviously been up since he was there before and then gone to bed. In his bed. He mentally slapped himself for the emotional surge resulting from that thought. Steady on, old boy, he told himself. At least you don't have to invade *her* bedroom to attempt this.

He sat on the edge the bed, waiting for the flickering of her eyes to indicate that she was dreaming. When her eyes started to flicker, he took a deep breath and hoped that he wasn't going to intrude on something he'd really rather not see. Lord knows how he would feel if Buffy actually knew what went on in *his* dreams.

He concentrated, slipped into the dream, merging easily with his dream persona. He suddenly found himself standing on the Yorkshire moors. He looked down - breeches, boots, loose shirt open at the neck. He then glanced around him in some confusion, recognising the landscape. What on earth was Buffy doing dreaming about the moors? He looked around him - or rather a romanticised Hollywood version of the moors. He frowned and then saw her coming towards him a long dress with her hair trailing behind her in the wind. Of course, Wuthering Heights. And Angel was probably Heathcliff. Damn.

She ran towards him and flung her arms around him, "Giles!"

"Buffy, you recognise me?"

"Of course I recognise you. Don't we usually meet here?"

"We do?" he asked in confusion.

He jumped in surprise as her hands dropped down and pressed his buttocks. Her eyes gleamed with mischief and something more. He was confused. Why was she looking at him like that? Wrapping her leg behind one of his, she suddenly pushed him over. As he landed on his back, she straddled him and started to kiss him frantically. He groaned and told himself that it was just a dream as he started kissing back while stroking her back. Well, better than a dream.

"Giles, Giles, Giles," she murmured through the shower of kisses she was bestowing on him.

It must be me affecting the dream, he thought dizzily, not wanting to stop. Must tell her. "Buffy."

"Mmm, don't talk," she said, rubbing against him. "Kiss. Do stuff."

"Buffy, listen, you need to remember this. Ethan's put a spell on me."

"Ethan? A love spell?" she said playfully, "has he made you love me?"

He ran his thumb along her bottom lip. 'It doesn't take a spell for that, love. He's rendered me into some sort of invisible, no, some insubstantial state."

"You feel substantial to me," she said, running her hand over his crotch and then unbuttoning the trousers.

"Buffy!" he said in shock. She was never this forward in his dreams.

She looked down at him, "Mmm, you're more substantial than you usually are in dreams." He gasped as her hand wrapped around him, "and bigger."

"Usually?" he gaped, and then started to loose focus as her hand continued its activities.

She suddenly stopped and he made a noise of protest just before she shifted position and, pulling up her skirt, settled herself slowly onto him, groaning in pleasure as he filled her.

"Oh my God," he gasped as she started to rock on top of him as he thrust back. "Oh God, Buffy!." His world exploded and he was back outside the dream again, looking down at Buffy who was moaning as she thrashed, calling out his name.

"She was having an erotic dream with me in it?" he said out loud in disbelief. "It must be stress."

He rose and went downstairs. Rowan was there looking at the titles on the spines of the books.

"You weren't watching, were you?" he asked in alarm when he saw her.

Noticing his flushed face, she protested, "Rupert! I was never a voyeur! And I can't see inside dreams in any case. You have to be in the dream. So I take that it worked?"

"I told her about Ethan. It remains to be seen whether she remembers or not."

"If not, you'll have to try again."

He sat down heavily. "I-I don't know. I'd hate to think that I twisted her dreams to suit my own subconscious."

She sat beside him and patted his thigh. "No, you can integrate yourself into the dream and add a view of things or comments, but not direct the dream itself, or even influence the events in it. It's her dream, not yours."

"So it doesn't work along the lines of incubi," he said in audible relief.

She gave him a mischievous look, "Incubi, eh? Dreaming naughty things about you, was she?"

Giles blushed and said, "It's probably due to worry. Some sort of displacement, no doubt."

She raised an eyebrow. "Uh huh," she said in a tone which clearly indicated that she didn't believe a word of it.

"Don't, Rowan. I'm not like I was."

"Uh huh."

"Rowan!"

She nudged him and said, "Rupert, you were always a caring person, even at your most thuggish. Your thuggery was usually in defence of someone."

He frowned. "That's not how I remember it."

"Because you enjoyed the fight too much, love."

"And it wasn't the brawls I was referring to."

"Well, you never had anyone who wasn't willing."

"I suppose that's true," he agreed.

"And I really wish you would dump this deeply boring self-deprecation." He opened his mouth to protest, but she closed it with a finger. "Don't. It's so tedious."
       
*****

Buffy woke up the following in morning and sat up initially confused about where she was. She looked around and remembered and then shook her head. "Wow. That was intense. It must be because I slept here." A wave of desolation swept through her when she remembered why she had slept there. "Still no Giles. No midnight removal trucks. Just no Giles." She steeled herself to go downstairs to the empty living room.

She went downstairs and looked at the forlorn empty mugs and sighed, missing the familiar scent of Earl Grey. She washed the mugs up and telephoned Willow. Still nothing. Willow sounded as upset and frustrated as she was.

Willow was at a dead end. She couldn't think of what else she could do. She had tried all her internet sources. She had tried all the magic that she or Tara could think of and was so frustrated at her lack of success that she was angry. Once she hung up the phone, she was overwhelmed by an urge to do something violent. Unfortunately, she couldn't think of anything violent she could do. But there *had* to be something, she said, banging her head on the pillow. She decided to go for a mocha - preferably with lots of caffeine.

She made her way to the coffee shop and sat at table staring at her coffee, still feeling at a loss about what to do next. She couldn't imagine doing this without Giles. Giles would have some idea of what to do or where to start.

"Is this seat taken?" a British voice inquired.

She looked up and frowned and then recognition dawned. "You ... you. you're Ethan Rayne!."

"You remembered me!" he said, sounding pleased.

"What are you doing here!"

"Well, I heard from the grapevine that Giles has disappeared."

"And you didn't have anything to do with it?" she asked in a tone of clear disbelief.

He looked offended. "Willow! I was in San Francisco. I came as soon as I heard that he had disappeared."

"And just how did you hear that he had disappeared?"

"Oh, a vampire told a beast who told a sorcerer who told me."

Willow looked at him suspiciously and he continued, "Really, as much as we have our differences, Rupert disappearing could mean trouble. For all of us. Have you tried a locator spell?"

"Of course," she spluttered out, immediately regretting giving him any information."

"Hmm, well, this is very odd," he said. "You're certain that he's not spouted fangs and adopted a liquid diet?"

"A vampire? No, no way. He was inside his apartment when he disappeared. I think."

"No vampires with invites?"

"Only Sp..." she immediately clamped her mouth closed.

"I know about Angel," he said, "and I've checked. Angel is still a dreary caped crusader."

"I knew that. I mean, not that he was dreary, because he is a little that way, but that he was still good old Angel."

"Ah, of course," he said, "I should have realised that anyone as intelligent as you are would have checked."

"And no blood anywhere," she said. "Dead giveaway."

He leaned forward and placed his hand over hers. "Really, my dear, my  - shall we say estrangement? - from Rupert, stems from our attitude towards magic. And I'm quite willing to offer you any assistance you require - willingly. I can see you have a flair for magic."

"Oh, well, I've been ..." she started and then remembered this was Ethan Rayne. "You are a bad, bad person! You turned Giles into a demon!"

"It wasn't permanent, Willow. Really. I just wanted to alert him to the situation with the soldier boys. It was only for one night - promise!"

He gave her an innocent expression as his thumb stroked her hand. She looked down at his hand over hers and promptly pulled her hand back.

He stood up, took her hand and kissed it. With another smile he said, "Look, I'll be in touch. I really only want to help. And I'm quite curious to know what happened to Rupert."

He turned and walked away. Right through Giles who was boiling with anger. "That frigging ponce! How dare he!"

Rowan glanced at Willow at the table. Her mind had clearly gone into overdrive as a result of her talk with Ethan. "Looks like he's targeted your friend. I do know that 'I only want to help' routine only too well."

"More like he only wants to help get her in bed."

She nodded. "That's our Ethan. To know him is to hate him."

"He is *not* going to get involved with Willow."

"Well, Rupert, you're just going to have to keep trying in your Slayer's dreams if you want to thwart him."

"This time he's dead," he growled.

"I really think he's got more than nine lives," she said, shaking her head.

****

That night Buffy insisted on staying in Giles' apartment again. "In case the Council guys try to pack up his stuff," she told Willow. "If they try to take away his stuff, I can stop them and find out what they've done with him." Willow didn't have the heart to tell that they probably would wait until she was out of the apartment if it was indeed them who had kidnapped Giles.

She went on patrol and then back to Giles' apartment. She looked around once she had let herself in. Her spirits dropped at how empty it seemed without him. She couldn't bear to linger downstairs and rushed upstairs and got into bed and soon fell asleep.

When she was asleep, Giles drifted up the stairs and waited for a sign that she was dreaming again. He really had to get through to her - if not for his sake, certainly to protect Willow from Ethan. Surely this time it would be some anodyne dream.

Once her eyelids were flickering, he insinuated himself into the dream and looked around to see where he was. Egypt - obviously at a time when the Romans were there given the fact that he was wearing a toga. Ptolemies then. Hmm, must be from some movie. Far too clean for any historical accuracy, and Buffy certainly had no interest in ancient history.

He walked through a series of doors and entered large room lined with decorated columns. There was a pool in the centre of it around which a number of scantily clad young women were standing, holding various vessels. As they parted, he saw Buffy's head in the pool He swallowed hard. Oh my God, she was bathing. Perhaps he should just lurk elsewhere until she finished. She spotted him, however, and immediately dismissed the women with a regal wave of her hand.

"Giles!" she said, languidly raising a hand from the water. "Come here. No battle to fight today?'

He came forward, feeling extremely awkward. A expulsion of fragrant scents assaulted his nose as he approached the pool. "Umm, Buffy. Umm, hello!"

"Are you going to join me?" she asked seductively, running her hand across the surface of the water. "Please?"  She reached up and tugged at his the bottom of his toga.

"Umm, Buffy, we n-need to talk."

She rose from the water, causing him to concentrate on focusing his eyes elsewhere. Hmm, the hieroglyphics on that column were very inaccurate. Standing before him, she undid the toga so that it fell in a pile at his feet. "Talk later," she murmured, stroking his chest.

He closed his eyes as she rubbed against him, cursing himself mentally as his body immediately responded. Laughing, she tugged him into the water. "You're so stiff," she giggled, "well, part of that is a good stiff."

"Buffy," he protested as the part in question became stiffer as her hands explored his body.

 She made him sit on the lower step in the pool and then straddled his lap and started to kiss his face and neck. "This is so unfair," he muttered as she cupped the scented water and let it run down his chest. Her hands traced sensuous patterns on his skin.

"Why?" she asked.

"Because it's a dream," he sighed.

"Then don't wake up."

He suddenly grabbed her shoulders and shook her lightly. "Buffy, listen. When you wake up, you must remember."

"Us?" she whispered, licking her lips.

"Ethan Rayne. He knows how to bring me back. It's a spell. Listen. Remember: Magic. Ethan Rayne. Remember that."

She pouted and said, "All right. Ethan Rayne and magic." She nibbled at his ear. "Can we get on with this now?"

He growled slightly at the sensation it produced in his body. This was her dream, he told himself. Perhaps he was influencing it, but it was still her dream. That made it all right. His fingers snaked down to her clitoris. He allowed his thumb to rub it while his fingers slipped inside and started to pump slowly. Buffy threw her head back and started to rock against them. He quickened his pace. He thought he had never seen anything more beautiful as she screamed his name as she came. Before she could recover he lifted her onto his by now painful erection and started to slowly move her up and down.

She recovered quickly and grabbed his shoulders and started to ride him harder, her face showing her intense concentration. The pace built up until the water was sloshing over the sides the pool. "Giles!' she gasped. He slammed her down hard on him and as soon as he came, he found himself outside the dream again. He had to recollect himself. He looked down at her, smiling contentedly in her sleep and said to himself, "I wonder if it was someone else from her point of view. No, she said my name. Perhaps that was me hearing it and she was dreaming of someone else. Please remember, Buffy. I need to get back. I can't keep doing this."

She shifted in the bed, still smiling and Giles went back downstairs. Rowan was reading the newspaper which was open on the table. She looked up at him and he immediately looked embarrassed and then asked suspiciously. "See here, Rowan. You really can't intrude into her dreams, can you?"

She laughed and shook her head. "No, but I did hear her call out your name, and it didn't sound like she was having an unpleasant time."

"My name? You're certain?," he asked eagerly, "She definitely called out my name?"

"Well 'Giles' as opposed to 'Rupert'."

"She always calls me Giles."

"Really? Why?"

"Habit. They all do. So I'm not changing her dream to suit my own subconscious, am I?"

"Not really possible. Rupert. You're not an incubus."

"That's a relief. I was worried I was well on my way to becoming a pervert."

"Kinky, maybe. Pervert, never. Think she'll remember?"

"What?"

She laughed again at the expression on his face. "The message, Rupert." She chuckled, "Of course, you're probably dealing on some mind-blowing sex."

"Rowan!"

"Sorry. The message? Will she remember?"

"I sincerely hope she does. I really don't want Ethan getting his talons into Willow."

"Not to mention getting other parts into her."

He glared, "Don't even think it!"

She shrugged. "Why not? He is. And she may well be as well."

"What do you mean? Willow isn't that sort of person!"

"Let's just say that I think she's bit frustrated at the moment?" she said with a knowing grin.

"You've been spying. Have you been in her dreams?"

"No, Rupert. Just her room. And don't look so shocked. Trust me, she's somewhat frustrated at the moment. I sympathise with her. I really do."

He looked a little defeated. "Don't give me that puppy-dog look," she said. "Let's go have a look and see what the little weasel is up to."

He nodded and said, "I wish I could at least move objects! Preferably knives!"

"Never mind," she said.

~~~~

Waking up the new morning, Buffy frowned and rubbed her face. A second really intense dream in a row. Why was Giles talking about Ethan in her dream? This wasn't normal. It didn't usually comment about Ethan in her dreams. Perhaps it was something prophetic. And there was no Giles to talk to it about. Her frown deepened. Okay, Ethan must have something to do with Giles' disappearance. That would make sense. Ethan in Sunnydale equals trouble. Particularly Giles-related trouble. And he was probably really pissed off about getting arrested. Ethan. She was going to make that little weasel bleed until he talked.

She got dressed and went to see Willow. Perhaps Ethan had told her where he was staying. When she got to their room, Willow wasn't there. Damn. She wrote her a note, telling she needed to know where Ethan was staying. But she couldn't wait. She had to *do* something. Maybe Riley could do a search for her and find out where the creep was staying.

Willow had gone to see Spike. Ethan's comments had made her anxious all night long. She worried that somehow Spike had found a way to get around his chip and harm Giles. She figured that he would be back in his crypt and she stormed into it, banging the door open and letting the sunlight flood into it.

Spike jumped back out of the light and yelled, "Close the bloody door! What is it with you people?"

She slammed it closed and marched up to him and punched him in the chest. "All right, peroxide boy, what did you do with Giles!"

"Peroxide boy?" he repeated in disbelief. "That's a Xander line."

She put her hands on her hips and stated, "And I'll use it if I want to. What did you do with Giles?" She punctuated the last by poking him in the chest with her finger.

"Giles? Why the Hell would I do anything with Giles?"

"Because you're evil."

"You seem to forget that I have a bloody chip in my head which keeps me from doing anything evil!"

"Well, then, you somehow got around it!"

He frowned at her and then said, "I take it something's happened to Giles. Is he dead? Undead?"

"Disappeared!"

"Oh, I see. He finally decided to chuck it in and get a life instead of hanging out with you losers."

She shook her head. "All his stuff is still here. Just a broken mug of tea on the floor. And tea not cleaned up."

Spike frowned again. "Hmm."

"Hmm!?"

He sat on his bed thinking. Willow looked around and made a face. "This place is really yeech. How can you live in it?"

"I'm not alive. Needs a woman's touch, pet. Want to have a go?"

"We need to find Giles."

He cracked his neck and said, "You know, I kinda owe him. And who else can I talk footie with?"

"Footie?" Willow repeated in confusion.

He looked at her and asked, "Why did you think I did something to him?"

She sat down beside him on the bed and said, "Because someone suggested that a vampire might have got him. The only two vampires with invitations are you and Angel. And Angel's still in L.A. And still with a soul and with the good guys. I checked."

"Well, it's nice to know that the poof was a suspect as well."

"Sorry," she said, "but Giles!"

"So who suggested me?"

"Ethan Rayne. Well, not as in suggesting you, but suggesting vampires."

"The sorcerer who did Giles before? And you listened to him? He's probably the one who's done it to him."

"Done what? There was no sign of a struggle. Just the broken mug. It's like he just disappeared into thin air."

Spike raised an eyebrow and asked, "And that didn't make you think of magic?"

"Umm, but how can people just disappear? If he had turned him into a demon again, there would have been more of a mess. I know about moving someone to another dimension, but that leaves stuff behind. 'Cause I know that having done it."

"I don't know how it was done, luv, but it still sounds like magic to me. And this Rayne geezer is well into magic."

She stood up and said, "Right, we need to find Ethan and do something to make him talk."

"One small problem for me, pet. It's called daylight."

"Oh, right."

"Look, luv, I'll have a butcher's tonight."

"You're going to eat a butcher?"

He rolled his eyes. "I'll have a *look*.  I'm not very popular with the local demons and I have to dodge the soldier boys, but I'll ask around." He leaned back, resting on his elbows on the bed and said with a smirk, "After all, I still have my personal charm."

It was her turn to roll her eyes and she said, "If you find out anything, I want to know. Like immediately."

"Okay, pet." He gave her a lewd look. "Unless you'd like to stay with me and compare notes."

"Oh, what?" she said. "Stay and ... Spike, you are so annoying!"

He chuckled as she hurried out. He glanced at the cobwebs on the bedframe. Maybe if he tidied up a little? Maybe if he rescued Giles, he would tidy up for him. And both the witch and the Slayer would be indebted to him. Not a bad idea.

***

Ethan was proving extremely difficult to locate. Buffy had no luck at all, but eventually late that night Spike found one of the surviving minions of Mr Trick on his own - about to tuck into a luckless co-ed. Spike considerately waited until the victim  hit the ground and then grabbed the vampire from behind. After some considerable violent persuasion, the minion finally admitted that he'd seen Ethan going into a motel with a hooker. After extracting the name of the motel and the room number, Spike dusted him. No point in letting anyone know what he was looking for.

He went to the motel and soon located the room. Then he was stumped. There was no problem in entering a motel room. It didn't qualify as a residence. But there was that frigging implant which meant no violence to humans. Not to mention the fact that the geezer was a sorcerer. One searing headache and he'd have the chance to turn him into something highly unpleasant. He didn't want to call the Slayer. He knew something she didn't know and he wanted to keep it that way.

He lurked outside in the shadows, fuming inside. So close. Yet so far. God, he felt like ripping the bloke's spines out and beating him to death with it!

As he ran through various violent scenarios, the door suddenly opened. Hello, mate, he thought. There's a good fellow. Go get a pint or two. Trot along now. Ethan headed out and Spike couldn't believe his luck.

As soon as he was out of sight, Spike kicked the door in and started to search the room. He turned out the drawers and dumped all the magic components onto the floor, kicking them around. Bugger's well equipped with the magic stuff, he thought. Just as well that he's not here. He looked around. Bloody sod all. Dammit!

His eye fell on the bed and he immediately yanked the mattress up and saw the book. 'ello, 'ello, 'ello. And what 'ave we 'ere? He picked it up, unwrapped it and opened it. The hand-written pages were still inside. He chuckled evilly. Result! Maybe the little witch would show some proper gratitude.

He pocketed the book and said to himself, "Tomorrow." A little more time to stew would make her all the more grateful. He left the room and started to saunter back to his crypt, schemes for gratitude running through his head.

******

Giles had been following Buffy off and on throughout the day, relieved that she was finally looking for Ethan. He bristled when she met Riley and he swept her into an embrace. Mindless squaddie, he growled. Hayseed. Bumpkin. Riley told her that he hadn't found anything and, to Giles' glee, Buffy immediately became furious with him. With all his sources, he hadn't turned up anything? Nothing at all? Did he really want Giles found?

She turned on her heel and stalked off, leaving Riley slack-jawed. Giles gave Riley two fingers, grinned and followed his Slayer. If I have to disappear to give her a better taste in men, so be it! As long as they get me back.

She checked the magic shop and drew a blank. The thoroughly intimated proprietor told her that no one English had been in to purchase ingredients in the last few days. She roughed up Willy, but turned up nothing. Checking in with Willow, she found that she was also despondent. She had consulted everything she could think of and drawn a complete blank.

Eventually Buffy went back to Giles' apartment. He paused in the doorway. Still empty. Still no Giles. Still no packers, so it wasn't the Council. They would have turned up by now, wouldn't they? That was of the good, she told herself. Or maybe not, depending on what happened.

She eventually went to bed and Giles again sat on the edge of the bed. Should he venture into her dreams again? She was looking for Ethan. He hated to do it. After all, for her, it was just a dream, but for him it was a conscious choice. But he needed to push her about the spell just in case she decided to give up on Ethan.

He took a deep breath and joined her dream. This time he found himself standing under some palm trees, looking out at a vast expanse of brilliant turquoise ocean. He looked down: jeans and a t-shirt. At least, he was dressed for it. Buffy was standing on the beach watching a boat rowing out to a ship in the distance. She was wearing a sarong and bikini top. He stepped forward a little and squinted, trying to see who was in the boat. Was that Angel? In the sunlight? Oh well, it was a dream in any case.

Buffy turned back and looked at him. Her face burst into a radiant smile and she ran up the sand to him and threw her arms around him. "Guess that just leaves us then, doesn't it?"

"Err, Buffy, where are we?'

She playfully poked him in the ribs and said, "I thought you were knowledge guy! We're on an island in the Pacific obviously." She wrapped her arms around his waist, "Alone. Does that give you any ideas?'

"I have to admit it does," he said.

"Oh good," she said, squeezing his ass.

"Buffy, listen, this dream ..."

"Is great, isn't it."

"You're dreaming, but I'm actually here."

"Of course you're here. It's my dream, silly, and I want you here."

"No, I've come into your dream to tell you something."

She smiled up at him and said, "I hope it's to tell me you love me."

He smiled gently and stroked her face. "I think you must know that without me telling you."

"But it's nice to hear it," she said.

"Ethan has done a spell. I'm here but not here. You need to undo it."

"We're looking for him. Now we can we get back to business?"

"What business?"

"There's this really cool pool back in the trees at the foot of the cliffs. Cool in both senses of the word. Come on!" She grabbed his hand and they ran back through the trees to the pool. As it came into view, he stopped to take in the sight of it. It was stunning. A waterfall tumbled down a cliff into it and the trees were full of exotic flowers whose mixed fragrances filled the air. The sunlight filtered by the leaves of the trees created a dabbled effect on everything.

"Come on!" she said, undoing her top and tossing it aside, and then removing the sarong and diving into the pool. "Come on!"

It seemed that swimming costumes were not an issue. He pulled off the t-shirt and unfastened the jeans. Looking down, he raised an eyebrow. It seemed that Buffy had discarded underwear in her dreams. He turned away and pulled them off.

"Nice butt, Giles!" she shouted.

"Buffy," he said as he turned to respond to her, forgetting his lack of dress.

"And the rest!" she added with a giggle.

He rolled his eyes and dived into the pool. When he surfaced, he looked around and couldn't see her. "Buffy?" he asked. Suddenly, his legs were grabbed underwater and he was yanked down.

He took a breath as he went under and looked down. Buffy was holding his legs. He turned in the water and dropped lower, grabbing her around the waist and pulling her to him. She wrapped her legs around him as he kicked to reach the surface.

"Minx!" he gasped. "Are you trying to drown me?"

She pouted and reached down and wrapped her hand around his penis. "No," she said with a grin. "I've got other things in mind, Watcher mine."

"Indeed?" he replied. He backstroked to some vines hanging in the water and grabbed onto them with both hands, letting his body float upwards.

"Making me do the work?" She asked. "Typical male.

She followed him and kissed and floated down along his body, trailing a hand over his chest. She went underwater and came up between his legs. She found that she could just touch a rock on the bottom of the pool. Her head bobbed between his legs and, unable to resist, she  pushed toward and took his penis into her mouth. Giles gasped, letting his legs float further apart as Buffy started to suck while using one hand to gently squeeze his testicles. As her teeth moved down his length, his eyes almost rolled back in his head from pleasure. She kept at until he came with a yell.

Recovering, he realised to his surprise that he was still in the dream. He look down at Buffy's head bobbing in the water and grinned at her. "Turnabout is fair play," he said in a dangerous tone, letting go of the vines and bringing his legs down. He grabbed her arms and turned her round and pushed her towards the vines. She grinned back at him and grabbed hold of them, letting her body float.

He knelt on the underwater rock and held her bottom slightly out of water with his hands while he started to lick her folds. She started to let her legs float apart, but when he started to suck on her clitoris, she tried to flay about with her legs and started to sink. He looked at her severely and ordered, "Stop that. Stay still."

She whimpered a little as she obeyed and he continued his ministrations. She found that it was taking a great deal of control to stay still, and lost it when she felt his fingers working inside of her.

"Giles, please!" she cried out. "I need you inside me!"

He withdrew his fingers and nipped her clitoris lightly one last time before rising to his feet and entering her. Again her legs wrapped around him as he thrust inside her, starting slowly and then building up his pace. A shriek and the sensation of  her vagina walls contracting threw him over the edge as well and he was once again thrown out of the dreams, screaming in frustration.

He knelt beside the bed, shaking. Gods, he hated this. He only  hoped that his dream counterpart treated her with proper regard afterwards. Eventually he gained control of himself and slipped back downstairs to join the ever present Rowan who grinned at him knowingly.

~~~~~~~

The following afternoon, Willow went to Spike's crypt again with a container of blood by way of an apology for falsely accusing him of doing something to Giles.. This time she carefully opened the door and peered in and then came in. "Spike?"

On the bed, he lifted himself onto his elbows. "Red."

Willow held up the bag with the blood. "I brought blood. You know, because I was kinda mean to you yesterday. And that was unfair. I mean, not because you're not an evil demon, but because you didn't do it. So I'm sorry."

He smiled at her as she sat down beside him. "That's a nice surprise," he said. "You're not a bad sight to wake up to."

He waggled an eyebrow at her and she blushed to almost the same character as her hair. "That's a very fetching colour of red to go with your hair," he said with a grin.

He sat up and walked across to the stone coffin and opened it. "I've got something for you."

"What? You found something!"

"Yeah. I found your poxy sorcerer and," and he held up the book, "I found his book."

"Let me see! Let me see!" she exclaimed, rushing over and reaching for it as he held it above him and out of her reach."

He grinned and leaned back and tripped her so that she fell forward and then pulled her to him with his free arm and suddenly bent over to kiss her. As her mouth opened in a gasp of surprise, he took advance to explore her mouth with his tongue. She made a strange noise and then kissed him back.

Suddenly aware of what she was doing, she pulled back and said, "Oh, I, oops. My bad."

He grinned and  said, "I like your bad." He brought the book down from over his head and opened it, pulling the pages out to show her. "Someone's made notes," he said.

She looked at it. "I can't read it.

"It's Arabic," he said. "He's transcribed the spell so he can read it. I'm guessing he's not fluent in Arabic."

She frowned as she sat down on the bed again, "Even if I knew how to pronounce it, I wouldn't know what to do with it. Do you know Arabic?"

"Not really. I picked up a little in Alexandria, but I can't read it."

"Dammit!" she said in frustration. "I don't even now what the title means!"

"Be glad it's got the title in Roman script as well as Arabic. And kitab is book," he said, sitting down beside her.

"What's Ghuyyub?"

"No idea," he said, running his fingers up her arm and noticing, smugly, that she shivered.

She frowned at the pages, "Do you recognise any of this?"

He shook his head. "Take it to some professor or something."

"Right. Excuse me, sir, here's a book of spells. Could you please decipher them for me?"

"Internet?"

"I don't know."

"If I didn't have this chip, I could torture the sorcerer for you."

"That almost seems like a good idea."

He grinned at her as his arm snaked around her. "That's a good thought."

She blinked. 'No, that's bad thought! Bad! You're a bad influence!"

"Am I?" he asked, blowing in her ear and then licking it. "That's a relief."

She jumped up. "Stop that!" She shifted from one foot to the other. "We have to do something!"

"Good idea," he said, tugging at her arm, "let's *do* something."

"No! I mean about Giles!"

He leaned back and sighed. "If Dalton was still in the land of the undead, he'd be able to do it."

"What happened to Dalton, whoever he is? Was."

"The Judge. Drusilla gave him to the Judge as a party favour."

"I don't think I want to know. Angel?"

"Doesn't know Arabic."

"Wesley! We could try Wesley!"

"Wesley?"

"Buffy's ex-Watcher. He's working with Angel!"

"That's a bit off, isn't it?"

"Cordelia told me. I could try him. I already asked him about the Council. We can do it by fax. Or he can come to Sunnydale! Yes!" She leapt to feet and then impulsively kissed Spike. "You're brilliant!"

"I am?"

She rushed out. Spike looked after her and a wicked smile appeared on his lips. Red was in debt to him and he fully intended to collect.

Willow practically ran back to the dorm and immediately got on the phone.

"Angel Investigations. We help the helpless."

"Cordelia, it's Willow."

"Willow! Any sign of Giles?"

"No, not yet, but I need to talk to Wesley."

"You think the Council's done it?"

"No, I think it's Ethan Rayne. But I need to pick his brain."

"Eeww, not a nice image. Are you sure you wouldn't prefer Angel?"

"Not this time."

Willow heard her tell Wesley to get on the line.

"Hello. Willow?"

"Wesley. Do you know Arabic?"

"I do have some knowledge of it."

"Good. What is ghuyyub?"

"Pardon?"

"Kitab al-Ghuyyub."

"Book of the Invisibles or Unseen Things." He was quiet for a moment. "There is a work by that name by ... Bother! A medieval alchemist whose name escapes me at the moment."

"Never mind. I've got the book here. I think it was used to do something to Giles."

"It is a spell work, as I recall. Where did you obtain it?"

"Ethan Rayne had it."

"Ah, that would make sense."

"Listen, he's written out something in transcription. It might be the spell he used. I'm going to send it to you - in parts, in case we get a demon in the system."

"I don't see how..."

"It's happened before. Trust me on that. I've scanned it into two pieces and I'm sending them now."

Wesley pulled up a chair in front of the computer as the files came through. He frowned at what was in front of him. Eventually he said, "I'm a little rusty and will have to consult a dictionary, but it seems to be an invocation about putting someone into ... into the wilderness of illusions or into the cracks or something. Yes, I'll consult a dictionary. But that would make sense given the current situation."

"What?"

"That I think that Giles is there but you can't see him."

"Like a ghost?"

"Except a ghost can often move objects. I would imagine this would be result in a person becoming even more insubstantial than a ghost. In fact, I don't even know if he can see you. He may be completely well, out of phase, as it were."

"You mean that he's nowhere?"

"Quite possibly."

"Oh God, that's terrible! So how do we undo it?"

"You have the book, you say?"

"Yes."

"Right, I'll grab my dictionaries and come up on my motorcycle straightaway."

"Come to Giles'."

"I'll be there shortly."

She put down the phone and breathed a sigh of relief. "Okay, Giles, we'll get you back. I promise, " she whispered and rushed off to Giles' apartment with the book.

Buffy was morosely moving about the apartment when Willow burst in, waving the book. "Look!" she exclaimed.

"What is it?"

"Spike found Ethan and got his spell book."

"Spike found it? Okay, never mind. Then let's undo whatever he's done!"

"I can't read it. It's in Arabic,' Willow said.

Buffy slumped. Unseen, Giles said, "Spike. Well done, mate. I am going to have to buy him a bottle of brandy. Or maybe some decent lager."

"But Wesley's coming here! And I think he can decipher it!"

"Good thinking, Willow," Giles remarked.

"He can do it?" Buffy asked. "Are you sure? I mean: Wesley?"

"He said he's a little rusty, but he's bringing his dictionary and we'll get down to it."

A look of relief came across Buffy's face. "So Giles is okay then?"

"He thinks that he's like here but not here. The book's about invisible stuff."

Buffy frowned. "But if he's just invisible, why doesn't he move stuff and let us know? Ouija board messages or something."

"Wesley thinks it's more than that. I mean, he may not even be here here. He might be nowhere but still here. Out of phase."

Buffy looked worried. "Can we get him back? Because if we can't, Ethan is going to die - slowly and very very painfully."

Giles frowned and said, "That's my job."

Willow made a face, "I can't believe that he was pretending to be all nice and everything."

"Slime."

"Frogspawn"

"Slimy frogspawn."

"Smelly slimy frogspawn."

"So we wait for Wesley?"

"Yep."

*****

When Wesley knocked on the door of Giles' apartment, Buffy opened the door so quickly that he almost fell into the room. Willow immediately grabbed and his hand and planted him on the sofa while Buffy went to make tea. He felt a little dizzy at the speed of the welcome. Willow put the book in front of him.

"Right," he said, "obviously no time for pleasantries."

"Nope," Willow said.

He picked the book up and examined it carefully, stroking the leather binding. "It's in wonderful condition. Something I never expected to see. It was last seen in Somalia according to one of the Watcher journals and then disappeared when..."

"Skip the history lesson, Wesley," Buffy called out.

Willow put the pages which had been in the book in front of him. He glanced over them opened his bag and brought out a couple of dictionaries and a notepad put them on the table. "Paper!" Willow said and hurried to get some sheets of paper. Putting the paper on the table, she sat down beside him.

"What's it say?" she asked. "Did you translate what I sent you. Is this the spell?"

He looked up and said, "I rather think so.  The spell invokes the keeper of shadows and light to take someone and cast them in a wilderness of unreality -- insubstantiality, to hide him away in a sort of limbo."

"Thank you, Wesley," Giles exhaled. "Now just find how to get me out of this!"

Rowan was beside him and asked, "Is that bloke any good?"

"A bit wet behind the ears, but he does all right on the research side. Tends to incline towards the arcane."

"And Willow can do the magic?"

"With her intriguingly powerful friend if necessary," Giles said, "The girl has been keeping secrets from her. I'm really going to have a word with her.""

"And I wonder why she keeps secrets with your current attitude!" Rowan put it.

"I'm just trying to protect her!" he protested.

"Rupert," she said in a tone he recognised. Noticing his expression, she chided, "Don't sulk."

Buffy set down a mug of tea in front of Wesley. "So can you undo it? Like immediately?"

Wesley sighed. "I'll have to look through the book and find the original spell and then see if it includes a spell for undoing it. It may take a little time. I'm not terribly fluent in Arabic, and this particular script is very difficult to read, even if it wasn't so faded. It's extremely, well, florid."

"Like old-fashioned English handwriting?" Willow said.

"Precisely," he agreed.

"So start," Buffy ordered.

He picked up the tea and took a sip. "I intend to. And I need to concentrate." He noticed that Buffy had started to pace up and down. "And the pacing, particularly in such a confined space, isn't going to help my concentration. Perhaps a jog will help relieve your tension?"

Buffy glared at him and went out the door, saying, "I'm going to Xander's and then I'll be back.

Willow sat down beside Wesley. "Can I help, Wesley?"

He gave her a shy smile and said,  "If I decipher this, I'll need you to do the casting." He started to leaf through the book, looking for the spell. He suddenly looked up and said, "I know what you could do right now. This reminds me of something. See if Mr. Giles has De Insomniis by Synesius of Cyrene in his books."

"Okay! On it," she said, glad to finally be doing something.

Giles looked at Rowan and said, "You know, he's not as much of a slouch as I thought. I hadn't thought of that. Pneumatic magic. I definitely underrated him."

Rowan peered at him, "Not hard to do - he doesn't exactly ooze confidence."

Giles snorted, "He made a stab at bullying when he arrived."

Rowan snorted, "With you? Poor bugger. Mind you, I don't see any scars - at least not visible."

"I'll have you know that I'm a model of restraint these days," he said loftily, looking deeply offended at the guffaw which she made. "Well, I guess we wait for him to work it out. I just hope that there actually is a counter spell."

"Ethan would probably ensure that there was."

"Canny bugger. I hope it doesn't involve him undoing it." He looked at her. "What about you, Rowan? Are you stuck here as well?"

She shook her head. "Rupert, the rotter left you completely on your own - with nothing. It's only that spell that the witches did which moved you enough so I could even communicate with you. I think it's a sort of harmonic from Ethan's magical signature that enabled me to reach you. We're connected via Ethan's magic. I'm fine where I am. I staying with you because I don't want you left all on your own. I'm dead, remember?"

He squeezed her hand and said, "Thank you."

She snuggled up to him, "And you can thank me by doing something about what you've discovered about your Slayer and her dreams."

He took a step back. "N-no, I couldn't take advantage of invading her dreams. I mean, I probably influenced them in some way. I'm sure that it's not ..."

She sighed. "If I was still alive, I'd take you in hand, Rupert Giles. You never used to be so uncertain about your charms."

"I was younger then."

"And you were never a coward."

"I'm not now."

"Then do something!" He scowled at her. "At least, find out if there's anything to it. Rupert, there's something between the two of you and you need to find out what it is before it's too late. Being a Slayer, she's not going to live to a ripe old age, is she?"

"She will if I have anything to say about it."

She nudged him and said, "If you don't say anything now, you may not have anything to say about it."

"Nag," he said.

"Wimp," she replied.

"Bossy boots."

"Bottler."

She noticed his lip twitch before he observed, "Death certainly hasn't mellowed you, has it?"

"Nope," she replied with a grin.

~~~~~~~~

 

~~~~~

By the time the sun had set, Xander and Anya had arrived at the apartment as well. Spike arrived shortly after the sun set. He sauntered in as if he owned the place and scowled at the sight of Willow sitting next to Wesley on the sofa. She looked up at him and smiled and gave him a little wave, "Hi, Spike!"

He smiled, "Pet. Has the wanker sorted it yet?"

Wesley looked up and swallowed hard at the sight of the vampire. "I've located the original. There are a couple of possibilities for undoing it. I need to double check and find the right one. We wouldn't want any mistakes, would we? I shouldn't like to endanger Willow."

"She's going to do the spell?" Spike demanded.

"Yes, of course. Outside of Mr Giles, she's the only one capable of it.

Spike growled. "Then it better not be wrong, mate, or implant or no implant, you're dead."

Wesley shifted nervously on the sofa.

Giles remarked, "That's interesting. I hadn't noticed that."

"What?" Rowan asked.

"Spike fancies Willow. I really must have a word with both of them. Separately."

"What is it with your women and vampires?"

"Must be the Hellmouth," he replied with a shrug.

Sometime later Wesley handed Willow a page. "Is this it?" she asked.

"I think so. We'll need a photo of Mr Giles, and, " he handed her another piece of paper, "these ingredients."

Quickly looking over the ingredients, she said, "Not difficult."

Buffy snatched the paper and looked at it. Xander took it from her and said, "I'll go get the stuff," and he went out with Anya.

Wesley continued to scribble away on the paper. "I think I understand this," he said. "It affects the pneumatic centre of the person and so it becomes unfocused. It's really a question of refocusing  the centre. The principle isn't all that complicated."

"So," Buffy said, "that means Giles is here, but invisible."

Wesley frowned. "He might  he. Or he might be so unfocused that he's not actually anywhere." He frowned, "That's a truly terrible thing to do to a person."

Buffy looked alarmed, 'But he'll be all right, won't he?"

"I don't know for certain. I think so."

Buffy went into pace mode again.

"Wonderful, allay her fears a little, why don't you?" Willow grumbled.

"Sorry. I don't really know what to say. But we are going to have to do something about this book. It's far too dangerous to have lying around."

"We'll ask Giles when we get him back," Buffy said.

"Of course," he said, "as ever." He looked at Willow. "Willow, perhaps we should go over the pronunciation, so you get it right?"

"Good idea. I wouldn't want to botch this."

"No, that would most definitely not be a good idea." He looked up at the pacing Slayer, "Buffy? Perhaps you could locate a picture of Mr Giles?"

"Right!" she said, heading for where she knew Giles kept some pictures. Wesley breathed a sigh of relief as she moved away from him. An anxious Slayer was not at all reassuring. And his sense of well being was not helped by the blonde vampire who was shooting him threatening looks the entire time, his eyes definitely and pointedly fixed on Wesley's jugular vein.

By the time Xander and Anya returned with the necessary ingredients, Willow was feeling quite confident. They immediately cleared a space and began to make the circle and mix the ingredients.

Giles looked over at Rowan and cleared his throat. "I just realised that this means that we won't see each other again."

She smiled at him and reached up to kiss his cheek. "At least we got the chance to say good-bye."

He nodded, "True. You know, I always thought you would hate me."

"Why? Oh God, Rupert, don't take everything on yourself!"

"Well..."

"No, don't start. And if you and your Slayer don't have a talk, I'm going to have every spirit hanging around the Hellmouth start haunting you. And I can tell you, there are some real crackers around here."

"So you'll be staying in Sunnydale?"

She shook her head, "Only I until I know that I won't have to rally the forces for a really good haunting."

He chuckled. "Bossy."

She nudged him, "You like strong women."

"Thank God for that or I'd be in real trouble."

"You mean - instead of your current situation?"

"Rowan," he said with a glare.

"Never mind. It's just such fun to have the chance to wind you up again. Look, they're almost ready."

With a nervous nod to the others, Willow sat down in the circle and carefully added the ingredients to the bowl in front of her and ignited them. When she began to chant, the others retreated to the other side of the room for safety.

Willow look a deep breath and concentrated on the words: "ad'u khazin barazikh az-zilal wa'l-adwa' an yahdur wayuti'uni. ya khazin ihdur!

She waved the picture through the smoke and said: "Farrij hadha'r-rajula min sijni'l-khilal wadkhulnu fi'l-mulk alladhi huwa darihu'l-haqiq, al-ana ya khazin, amuruka!"

The flames of the candles flared up and the air in the room blurred. Giles felt himself being pulled and twisted. He looked at Rowan who was rapidly disappearing. She waved at him with a sad smile. He turned and noticed that everyone was looking at him.

"Giles, you're back! It worked!" Willow exclaimed.

Buffy rushed to him and enveloped him in a bear hug. Looking a little sheepish, she stepped back and turned to the others. "Definitely solid," she said with a smile.

"Thank God," Giles said.

Giles gave Willow a hug. "Well done, Willow." He looked over her shoulder at Wesley and extended his hand. "And Wesley." Wesley shook his hand with a dopey grin. Then he turned to Spike. "It appears that I owe you. The only pity is that I take it you didn't kill him?"

Spike pointed at his head. "Bloody sodding chip."

"Quite."

"And he's legged it."

"Bugger."

"Mind you, a reward wouldn't go amiss, mate?"

Giles nodded and opened a drawer and pulled out some dollar bills and handed them to Spike.

"Ta, mate," Spike said, counting them and eyeing Willow with a cheeky smile. "Wanta go for a drink, Red?"

Willow looked around nervously and said, Okay."

"Come on, witch. Let's motor."

Willow gave a little wave as she went out. Gile shook his head despairingly. He really was going to have to have a talk with Willow.

Wesley drew himself up and said, "Well, I must get back to my duties with Angel. You know, battling the forces of evil. I'm an essential member of the team now!"

Buffy gave him a little smile and said, "I bet you knock 'em dead."

"I endeavour to," he said.

Giles took his hand again and shook it. "Getting fired has done you a world of good, you know."

"It has?" he said eagerly.

"Admit it," Giles said, "doesn't it feel more liberating to think for yourself for a change?"

"Well, yes, I must admit it is ... less constricting. Well, I'm off then."

"Keep in touch, Wesley," Buffy said.

"I will, yes, umm. Good-bye," he said with a sniff, hurrying out the door, dabbing his eye.

Anya dragged Xander to the door. "Now that we're finished here, Xander and I have stuff to do." She gave him a sultry look. "I bought some new toys today."

Xander looked panicked. 'Bye!" he said hurriedly, exiting.

Buffy shook her head, "I *so* do not want to know!"

"Just us, then," Giles said.

She nodded and looked at him fondly, "I am so glad to have you back." She suddenly looked embarrassed and quickly said, "I mean, what would we do without you for the research and stuff, and, oh, I've got some of my stuff upstairs! I was camping here in case it was the Council and they did a midnight flit."

She rushed upstairs and he followed. "I know," he said at the top of the stairs.

"What?"

"I know. I was here. I just couldn't communicate."

"You were. Oh, I guess that was a bummer."

"Except in your dreams," he said in a neutral tone.

She dropped what was in her hand. "Dreams?" she squeaked.

"You remember a message about Ethan?"

"Oh," she said, her voice getting smaller. "How did you do that?"

"I- I, Buffy, I'm so sorry for the invasion of your privacy, but I had to get into your dreams to communicate with you."

"Into? Like in making me dream?"

"Like in melding with my dream persona," he said, avoiding eye contact.

"I.. you.. meld?"

He nodded. "Sorry."

"Meld? Wait, dreams, as in plural? How many dreams?"

"Umm, three."

She swallowed hard, remembering the vividness of her dreams.

"It wasn't my idea," he said quickly, "A friend of mine - well, a dead friend of mine - suggested it."

"You had invisible friends?"

"Just one, a casualty of Ethan's magic some time ago."

"Oh."

This is not going well, Giles said to himself. Rowan, you're a rotter! "Umm, perhaps we should talk?"

Buffy sat down heavily on the bed. "I suppose you think I'm really twisted."

He sat down beside her somewhat gingerly. "Why on earth would I think that?"

"Having those sort of dreams about you."

"We all have those sorts of dreams, Buffy."

"You too?"

"Of course."

"With me?"

He caught his breath. "Yes," he said almost imperceptibly.

"So you weren't grossed out?" she said in a tone of relief.

"I should say not! Pleasantly surprised. I expected to find Angel or Riley."

She snorted. "I haven't had that sort of dream about Angel in awhile, and the only dream I had about Riley involved a kiss."

"Before ...?"

"Yeah, and it was in front of the entire psychology class."

"Highly embarrassing."

She took his hand and said, "Awkward."

"Awkward like this?" he whispered.

"Yeah, it's kinda of weird thinking about you knowing my dreams, let alone *being* actually in them."

"I just never thought you thought of me in that way - even in dreams," he said.

She smiled, "Did a good job of covering it up, didn't I? I thought you might catch on when I recognised your eyes when you were all demony."

"Because I was annoyed?"

She shook her head. "That was the cover. I just recognised them. You know, they're kinda unique."

He turned slightly and lightly cupped her cheek with his hand. "Buffy..."

She put her hand over his, pressing it harder against her cheek, and gazed up at him, her eyes unguarded. Mesmerised, he bent down and gently kissed her. She squeezed his hand and returned the kiss which then evolved into a series of frantic short kisses, sometimes sucking in a lower lip, sometimes nipping an upper lip and sometimes just gently caressing them.

Her arms snaked up to his neck and she deepened the kiss, her tongue darting inside to graze his teeth and then his tongue. She heard a sound halfway between a grown and a rumble  emerge from him as he pulled her closer to him and invaded her mouth with his tongue.

She rose from beside him, not losing contact with his mouth, and shoved him back on the bed. Breaking off the kiss, she lifted his legs onto the bed and crawled on top of him and kissed him again. "Which dream did you like best?" she asked with a touch of mischief in her voice.

His hands ran up her back and tangled in her hair. "They all had their points."

"Did they?" she asked as she kissed his neck and started to unbutton his shirt, kissing each bit of chest as it was exposed and finally untucking his shirt. She looked up at him with a hint of triumph as she ran a hand over the bulge in his trousers. "I wonder how the reality compares to the dream."

He realised that breathing was becoming an issue and she started to undo the belt and then the trousers. "I hope I don't fall short," he managed as she pulled the trousers down along with his boxers. As her eyes gazed down at him, his cock involuntarily twitched. As soon as she saw him twitch, her head swept down and her mouth engulfed him.

"Christ!" he exclaimed, clutching the covers, hips bucking involuntarily. "Buffy!"

She looked up at him, eyes twinkling, running her lips up and down, treating him like a popsicle. She let him go and then slowly  licked up the length of him and then licked her lips. "Better," she concluded before engulfing him again while one hand started to massage his testicles.

He watched her with hooded eyes as she expertly brought him over the edge, swallowed and then licked him clean. She crawled back up and said, "How ya doing, big guy?'

"Where the Hell did you learn that?"

"Magazines mostly," she replied.

He looked at her and then said, "You are definitely overdressed, Miss Summers."

"Am I?" she said innocently.

"Most definitely. And for that oversight I'm going to make you scream."

He flipped her over and started to remove her top. She shifted position to allow him to do so. "Has anyone ever made you scream?" he asked.

"In bed?"

"Indeed."

"Um, no."

His smile turned feral as he said, "Excellent." He pulled off her skirt and panties in one go and shucked off his clothes. He knelt, straddling her and said, "Close your eyes."

Her eyes got wider. "That usually means trouble."

"Trust me?"

"Okay," she said, closing her eyes. He reached over to the beside cabinet and opened the drawer and pulled out two long silk scarves and closed it.

"Okay, I'm getting a little worried here?" Buffy said.

He ran the silk lightly across her breasts and then grabbed one hand and tied it to the bedstead. Her eyes flew open in surprise and he said, "Eyes closed." She swallowed and closed them as he tied the other hand to the bedstead.

"Bondage fun?" she squeaked out.

"Mmm," he said, "Stay there a moment."

"Not an issue," she said as he got up.

She heard him go down the stairs and into the kitchenette and then the refrigerator opening and closing. Ideas about what he was up to caused her stomach to do flips and her body to tingle with warmth.

He came back with his hand behind his back and straddled her again and then leaned forward to capture her mouth in a passionate kiss. As he pulled back, she groaned in protest and he produced a can of whipped cream from behind his back. He shook it and then sprayed a circle of cream around each breast, set the can aside and started to lick up the cream. His tongue ran around her nipple and he murmured, "Lovely cherry on the top," and bit the hard nipple. Her back arched up and he proceeded to do the same with the other.

By the time he had finished, she was panting. He moved so that he was in between her legs and said, "And now for the honey."

"Honey?" she asked and yelped as his mouth descended and tongue started to explore.

"Giles! Oh my God, Giles. That's..."

Incoherence overcame her as his tongue and teeth worked on her clitoris and she climaxed almost immediately. But he didn't stop. She heard a little slurp as his tongue lapped up the juices and his tongue continued to torment her while his fingers slipped inside and started to piston inside her rapidly. It was not long until her second orgasm  had her screaming.

"Giles ... Oh God ... I can't ..." she muttered as he continued to work at her. He suddenly grabbed her legs and put her feet on his shoulders. Holding her hips in place, he suddenly entered her. The angle was nothing she had experienced and as he rammed against her G-spot, she was immediately on the verge again.

He held still. "Not yet," he hissed. "With me."

She panted, still overwhelmed and then he started to thrust hard, hitting her clitoris as he did so. She screamed, unable to hold the orgasm back. He continued to thrust hard and she couldn't believe that she felt it building up again.

He suddenly  moved her legs off his shoulders and she promptly wrapped them around his waist. He continued to thrust into her as he repositioned himself. He pulled her head to one side, exposing her neck and suddenly bit her hard on it. As he heard her scream again, he came with a roar, continuing to suck at her neck.

They lay there panting for a time until he reached up to untie her hands.

"Wow. Gosh," Buffy said, "golly gosh. And wow. Gosh."

He rolled the side, still holding onto her and asked, "How does that compare with the dream?"

"I guess my imagination isn't as fertile as I thought," she said. "Can I just say 'Wow' again?"

He chuckled. "Wow will do. For now."

"There's more?"

"Let's just say that I'm full of surprises."

They chuckled while they snuggled together.


Rowan looked in through the door with a smile. "At least I won't have to rouse a bunch of spirits," she said. "Good-bye, Rupert."

END