Simple Truth
By Gibberish

Title: Simple Truth
Author: Gibberish
Disclaimer: They belong to Joss, Mutant Enemy and the WB.
Rating:   PG-13       B/G
Timeline: Right at the very beginning of season 4.
Spoilers: Everything up to Season 4 is fair game.
Summary: Ethan returns and casts a spell. Can the Gang handle complete honesty for 24 hours?
Distribution: Solo, Jessica, Sai, Cassandra, Sal and WYWM. Anyone else, please ask.
Feedback: Be kind
Notes: <Thoughts> *Emphasis*


          Ethan Rayne didn't often feel nostalgic, but when he did, it was hard for him to keep it at bay. He was thinking about Randall and felt a need to see Ripper.


   Buffy stopped at the door as the others left. They had come to Giles' for some general research, but something wasn't right. She didn't think that the others had noticed, but she had. Giles had been even quieter than usual. Buffy looked up at him in question. He looked tired, more tired than he should, considering how quiet it had been. "You okay?" She finally asked.

 Giles looked down at her concerned face, not surprised that she had seen through his facade. "I'm fine."

 Buffy cocked her head to the side. "No, you're not. Anything I can do?"

 Giles gave her one of his tired smiles. "Not this time."

 "Why won't you tell me?" Buffy asked a bit hurt.

 "There's nothing to tell." Giles told her. "Not really." His eyes got a far away expression. "Just ..."

 Buffy put a hand on his arm, unthinkingly mimicking his own gesture of comfort. "Just ...?"

 Giles once again focused on the lovely young woman in front of him. Maybe he *should* tell her, she would understand, probably better than anyone.

"Randall died today." He saw her blink in confusion, then her eyes turned sad  Buffy really didn't know what to say. "Did ... Did you want me to stay? You don't have to be alone."

 "I'm quite all right." Giles told her. "Just a bit melancholy. I thought, perhaps, I would just go to bed."

 "Do you want me ..." Buffy's words trailed off as she tried to phrase her question. She missed Giles' rather startled look.

 Giles blushed at the thought that ran through his mind. Did he want her? <Yes.> His mind responded before he could stop it. He was grateful that she hadn't noticed his reaction. Those thoughts would succeed in distracting him from Randall, but were really no better for his peace of mind.

 "I'm sorry, Giles." Buffy finally said. "What can I do to make you feel better?"

 Giles' thoughts derailed again. <Don't> He told himself sternly. "You already have." He told her gently, sincerely. "A good night's rest is the best thing, I think. Are you going to patrol?" He asked, changing the subject. He thought.

 "Planned to." Buffy answered. "Then I'll do the bed thing, too."

 "Please call when you get home." Giles said, his voice a bit strained. Buffy looked at him concerned.

"Are you sure you don't want me to stay?"

 Giles closed his eyes a moment. Her words, however innocently said, conjured images that needed to be banished. "Thank you, Buffy." He said as he opened his eyes and looked at her. "But, that isn't necessary."

 "I know it isn't necessary." Buffy said quietly. "I just thought ... Well, that maybe you didn't want to be alone."

 He almost touched her, but restrained himself. "As soon as I know that you are home safe, I shall go straight to bed. I'll feel much better tomorrow."

 "If you're sure ..." Her words trailed off as he nodded. "You'll call if you need anything?" Buffy asked.

 "What should I need?" Giles asked in return, mildly amused. Buffy looked at him thoughtfully, her own bad memories her only comparison. "A friend." She said simply. "A hand to help pull you back."

 She understood the feeling too well, Giles thought. "Who pulls you back?"  Buffy smiled at him sadly. "You." Buffy told him softly. She went on at his startled expression. "More times than you'll ever know." She whispered before she left.

 A very stunned Giles watched her go.

 "How very touching." Ethan commented from behind Giles.

 Giles turned, he knew that voice. "Ethan." He said with loathing. "What do you want?"

 Ethan shrugged, oddly self conscious. "Same as you. I've been thinking about Randall."

 Giles raised his brows. "Rather odd." He said drolly. "You never thought of him when he was alive."

 "That isn't true." Ethan replied quietly.

 "Isn't it? What do you know about the truth, Ethan?" Giles asked, just as quietly.

 "Enough to know that we *were* friends. Once." Ethan responded.

 "Were we?" Giles asked, his expression curious. "Were we really? There were so many lies, Ethan. Even now, I don't know what you meant and what you didn't. I have no idea how you really felt about anything. Is that friendship? Was it?"

 Ethan just looked at him for a moment. "You think friends don't lie? They always lie, that's how they remain friends."

 "My friends don't lie." Giles stated. He admitted the irony of lying to Ethan, if only to himself.

 "You can't compare those children to what we had." Ethan said, oddly hurt. "All of us."

 "Oh, I don't." Giles told him. "They aren't children, Ethan, not anymore. They help each other, depend on each other." He paused thoughtfully. "Trust each other."

 "I don't think so, Ripper." Ethan said with narrowed eyes. "Honesty is highly overrated. How do you think your little Slayer would feel if she knew how you really felt?"

 "What are you talking about?" Giles asked, his own eyes narrowed.

 "I can't say as I blame you." Ethan said smoothly. "She's quite an attractive girl. But, if she knew the truth, any of them, would they trust you then?"

 "Ethan ..." Giles warned

 "What's the matter, Ripper?" Ethan asked. "Truth a little hard to take?"

 "Buffy has nothing to do with this." Giles told him firmly.

 "The chit had everything to do with it." Ethan returned. "See how you enjoy the truth." Ethan left the same way he entered, out the back.

 Giles felt severe apprehension at Ethan's parting words. They had sounded, distinctly, like a threat.


   Ethan looked around the old costume shop as he prepared the spell. <If it's the truth he wants, it's the truth he shall have.> Ethan thought angrily. The truth, for twenty-four hours. It hadn't been too difficult to get something that belonged to each of them. Hair from a brush, an old book, a guitar pick, a shirt, and from Rupert's precious Slayer, a claddagh ring. Perfect. The truth, and a couple of extras, just for fun.

   Giles woke up with a headache. A night of bad dreams, coupled with erotic ones. The tightened groin and the headache made for a bad start to the morning.


   Buffy woke up feeling ... Off. Not bad, or sick, just ... Not right. She did her usual morning routine, which included stretch exercises. When she finished, she looked at the clock and decided that it was late enough to check on Giles. She hoped he felt better.

 As Buffy walked to Giles', she felt eyes on her. It was a creepy feeling. Several times, she casually looked around, but saw nothing.

 When she reached Giles', she still hadn't seen anyone, but the feeling persisted. She knocked on the door as she looked over her shoulder, again. She turned back when she heard the door open.

 "Buffy? What are you doing here?" Giles asked when he opened the door.  He moved aside for her to enter.

 Buffy opened her mouth to say that she'd just happened by. "Wanted to check on you." She blinked. <Huh?>

 Giles opened his mouth to say that he was fine. "I had a bad night." <What?> He closed the door.

 <Poor Giles.> "Are you okay? What was it? Nightmares?"

 Images of the dreams from the night before passed through Giles' mind's eye. Randall screaming his name in fear and pain, Buffy screaming it in pleasure. He opened his mouth, intent on assuring her that it was nothing. "Nightmares and erotic dreams." His eyes widened in horror.

 Buffy's eyes widened in shock. "Wh-what? Erotic ... About Randall?"

 "No, about ..." Giles clamped a hand over his mouth. What the hell was wrong? He'd almost told her that she'd been the star of his erotic dreams.

 Buffy saw the near panic in his eyes. "Giles?" They both jumped when there was a knock at the door.

 Giles opened the door to find Willow, Oz and Xander.

 "Something weird is going on." Willow spoke for the trio as they filed inside.

 When Giles saw that they were all looking at him oddly, he realized that he still had his hand over his mouth. He carefully removed it. "What is it?"

 "We can't lie." Xander said.

 "And we all felt compelled here." Willow added.

 "What?" Giles asked blankly.

 "I know that lying isn't nice, Giles, but sometimes the truth is worse." Willow said.

 "The truth?" Giles echoed. <'See how you enjoy the truth.' > Ethan's words came back to haunt him. "Bloody hell. It's Ethan."

 "How can you be so sure?" Buffy asked.

 "He was here. Last night, after you left." Giles explained. "We argued about the truth and lies. I-I suggest that you all go home." He said a bit dazed.

 Even Xander realized the potential disaster. He opened the door, but couldn't go through it. "Uh-oh."

 "We can't leave." Willow said nervously.


   They sat around Giles' apartment, avoiding eye contact with each other. No one said anything for a very long time. Finally, Xander broke the silence.

"How long will it last?"

 "My guess is twenty-four hours." Giles responded. "That should be more than sufficient."

 Buffy thought back to when she could read minds. "*Way* more than sufficient." More than the others, she knew how much people held back in their everyday lives.

 "W-would anyone like some tea?" Giles asked as he stood.

 "I hate tea." Buffy said. Her eyes widened and flashed to Giles'.

 Giles looked at her with narrowed eyes. "Then, why do you drink it?"

 Buffy looked at him sheepishly. "I didn't want to hurt your feelings."

 Giles looked confused at that. "What do my feelings have to do with tea?"

 "You use tea like a cure all." Buffy said faintly.

 Giles' eyes penetrated hers. "We've shared tea to relax ourselves on countless occasions. If you didn't like tea, then why?" He asked.

 "I enjoyed the quiet time with you." Buffy said softly.

 Giles felt like he'd been hit in the stomach. "Why didn't you just tell me that?" He asked gently.

 "I liked things the way they were." Buffy said with a shrug. "It was worth having to drink the tea, to feel like that."

 "Like what?" Giles asked.

 "Safe." Buffy whispered.

 Giles moved to the kitchen. He paused, just as he reached Buffy, to touch her shoulder. She looked up at him and they shared a look of relief that they'd come through their first honesty trial unscathed.


   Buffy paced the edges of the living area. Willow, Oz and Xander watched her warily. Giles watched her with concerned affection. She was scared, they all were.

 Willow turned to Oz, he was watching Buffy intently, concerned. Willow touched his arm. "What are you thinking?"

 "That I love Buffy." He sounded surprised by this. He became aware that the rest were staring at him with varying degrees of shock. Willow also looked hurt, which he didn't understand. "Don't you?" They still stared. "What?"

 "You love Buffy as a friend?" Giles asked carefully.

 "Kind of surprised me, too." Oz said. "I knew I liked her." Buffy smiled at him. Oz looked at Willow. "Something wrong?" Willow just leaned against him.

 "Well, this is not fun." Xander said. "Buffy hates tea and Oz loves Buffy. What will we find out next?"

 "Shut up, Xander." Buffy and Giles said tiredly, in unison. They looked at each other. Giles raised his brows and Buffy bit back a grin.

 "I have an idea." Willow said hesitantly. "We're all afraid we're going to say something wrong. What if we focused on truths that we already know? Or are, at least, positive?"

 "Such as?" Giles asked.

 "I don't know." Willow said. "Good things. Like Buffy being Class Protector."

 Giles smiled as he remembered Buffy's reaction to that silly little gold umbrella.

 "Late night Indian movie fests." Xander said.

 "Mochas." Willow added.

 "Buffy pouting her way out of training." Xander said with a grin. "Or Buffy training, that's good, too."

 Buffy rolled her eyes and Giles glared at him.

 "Giles fencing with Wesley." Buffy said with a look at Giles.

 Giles' eyes lit. "Wesley training Buffy."

 "The Prom was nice." Oz said simply.

 Buffy sat on the arm of Giles' chair. "Giles giving me my diploma." She said softly.

 "Buffy's SAT scores." Giles said.

 "New moons." Willow piped up.

 "Moon pies." Xander said and Giles giggled. Buffy looked at Giles again and smiled.

 "The library." Willow said wistfully.

 "I miss the library." Buffy said softly. They all looked at her. "What?"

 "Pizza guys that never asked why they were delivering to the high school at midnight." Xander said.

 "Food is good." Willow encouraged.

 "Jelly donuts." Buffy and Giles said together.

 "Chocolate." Xander threw out. "Now, I'm hungry."

 "You're always hungry." Buffy said.

 Giles made sandwiches.

 "Favorite memory of me?" Xander asked with a silly grin.

 Only Giles noticed Oz tense.

 "Snoopy Dance." Willow said with a nod and a grin. Oz relaxed.

 Buffy looked at Xander seriously. "Braving the Master's lair, saving my life."

 "I would have to agree." Giles said. "And the fact that you've joined this fight at all."

 Xander wasn't grinning anymore, he was looking at his hands. "Um ..."

 Giles looked at him in sympathy, then turned to Willow. He gave her a quirky smile. "Oddly enough, one of my fondest memories of Willow, is her telling me off." At the questioning looks, he continued. "When Buffy snuck off to the frat party."

 "Oh." Willow said at the memory and blushed.

 "UC Sunnydale." Buffy said simply.

 Xander met Willow's eyes steadily. "Years of letting me sleep in your room, never asking why. Just being there. Always."

 "Halloween, two years ago." Oz said.

 Willow looked at him confused. "I didn't know you then." She pointed out.

 "I saw you." Oz told her. "You had on this outfit ..." He gave an enigmatic, almost smile. "I had to meet you." Willow smiled at him sweetly. "Of course, Evil Willow's leather outfit was nice, too."

 Buffy saw Giles' discomfort and looked at him in speculation.

 Willow blushed and hit Oz's arm, but with no real force. "I like it when you panic." Willow told him with a blush. Oz kissed her temple. Willow looked at Buffy. "Anywhere, but here. I never thought I'd ever have a friend like you."

 "I second that." Xander said.

 "Okay, that's a good thing, right?" Buffy asked, only half joking.

 "Most of the time." Willow said.

 "Usually." Xander added.

 "Oh." Buffy said in a small voice.

 "Do you remember, Buffy, after Eyghon?" Giles asked. "I was never more proud of you."

 Buffy looked at him confused. "Why?"

 "That was the first time that I felt that we were truly friends." Giles told her.

 "It took you that long?" Buffy asked, a little hurt. "Gee, thanks, Giles."

 "You misunderstand." Giles said. "That's when I began to see you as an equal."

 "Oh." Buffy said again, for want of anything better.

 "What about the G-Man?" Xander asked.

 "Don't call me that." Giles said automatically.

 "When he was determined that Buffy would have a party." Willow said.

 "Buff?" Xander encouraged.

 "I don't know." Buffy shrugged. It was Giles' turn to look hurt. Buffy didn't notice. "There are so many."

 "Like what?" Xander asked.

 Buffy looked thoughtful, aware that Giles was watching her. "Amy's Mom." She met Giles' eyes. "That's probably the first. The shock of Giles just swinging me up into his arms and carrying me out of Amy's house. It was intense."

 "Giles carried you?" Willow asked.

 Buffy shrugged. "I couldn't walk at that point." She looked down, then back to Giles. "Then he took on Amy's Mom."

 "A-and lost." Giles added, self-conscious. Then he met Buffy's eyes. "That was the first time I'd done any magick since Eyghon. I swore never to touch it again, but I couldn't ..."

 "You saved my life." Buffy said softly. The others watched fascinated as something passed between them.


   In the old shop, Ethan lit a red candle and grinned, wickedly. "Let's see if Ripper can keep his passions hidden, now."
 
   Buffy was pacing again. Giles watched her. The concerned affection was gone, replaced by long denied need.

 Buffy stopped and turned, but forgot what she was going to say when she saw the look in Giles' eyes. <Smoldering.> Was the only word she could think of.

 "Usually, he only looks at her like that when she's fighting and he thinks nobody else is watching." Xander stated, unable to look away from Giles and Buffy.

 Giles visibly started. He saw Xander, Willow and Oz looking at him with wide eyes. He turned back and met Buffy's intense gaze. <What have you done, Ethan?> He stood and went into the kitchen, unaware that Buffy followed.

 "What is it, Giles?" Buffy saw him turn with a jump. Her eyes were huge. "Giles?"

 "Ethan didn't stop with a truth spell." Giles said in a low voice.

 "What has he done to you?" Buffy asked in a pain filled whisper.

 "Not just me." Giles told her. "Somehow he knows how I ..." His words faltered. "How I feel about you. I can't hide it." He looked away from her, afraid of what he would see.

 "Things that you really feel? Or things that he's making you feel?" Buffy asked.

 "I feel them." Giles admitted. "I suppose, though, that they weren't hidden as well as I thought. I'm sorry, Buffy." He said, anguished.

 "Sorry for what?" Buffy asked.

 "That you had to find out this way." Giles told her. "That you had to find out at all. You can still trust me, Buffy."

 "I didn't know that I'd stopped." Buffy said softly. He met her eyes again and her heart broke at the pain that she saw in his. "What do you feel, Giles? Do you hate me?"

 "No." Giles assured her quickly. "I love you."

 Buffy smiled gently. "I know that. I love you, too. I don't see how that's a bad thing. How can Ethan use ...?"

 "I want you." Giles interrupted her, almost harshly. Then his voice gentled. "I want you." She was quiet for so long that he finally looked at her again. She looked hurt. "Buffy?" He asked, fearful.

 "Why is that a bad thing?" Buffy asked with wide, tear filled eyes. "Am I so horrible?"

 "Of course not." Giles answered, completely flabbergasted.

 "Then why?" Buffy asked.

 Giles was confused and looked it. "Buffy, did you hear what I said? I want you. I want to make love to you."

 "But you think it's a bad thing." Buffy concluded with a pout.

 "You don't?" Giles asked, surprised.

 "Should I?" Buffy asked in return. "Why would I think that it's a bad thing that the best man that I've ever known loves me?" She asked curiously. "You must think I'm an idiot."

 "No." Giles said quickly. "Buffy, I'm very confused." Then he realized what she said. "The best man you've ever known?"

 "Well, duh, Giles." Buffy said with a smile.

 "But ... Why ... You never said ..." Giles thoughts were jumbled, so were his words. "Buffy?"

 "What did you think, Giles?" Buffy asked.

 "I didn't." Giles said. "Think about it. Not really. I assumed that you never really saw me as a man. Just a Watcher."

 "You were never just a ... Okay, at first." Buffy admitted. "How could I not see you as a man? Jenny. My Mom. Olivia. If Mom's anything to go by, you're the manliest of men. And I really didn't mean to say that out loud." She paused. "And Olivia certainly looked pleased with your manliness." Buffy blinked and frowned. "Again, not meant to be out loud." She looked at Giles nervously, but he was smiling.

 "And the very, very old and it's gross comment?" Giles asked.

 "I was jealous." Buffy told him embarrassed.

 "Jealous?" Giles echoed in disbelief. Buffy nodded. "Jealous of what?"

 "She made you happy in a way I never could." Buffy said then closed her eyes.

 "But, you could." Giles said then flushed. "Do you want to help me kill him?"

 "Definitely." Buffy said with feeling. "Who did you dream about last night?" She asked.

 "Randall. A-and you." Giles admitted.

 "Which one of us was the erotic dreams?" Buffy asked next.

 "You." Giles breathed.

 Buffy took a deep breath and moved closer to him. Carefully, awkwardly, she put her arms around him. She laid her head on his chest and closed her eyes.

 Giles hesitantly wrapped his own arms around her and held her to him. He felt her sigh of relief against his chest and tightened his arms a bit.

"Somehow, I don't think this is coming out the way that Ethan planned."

 "Good."


   "Sorry." Xander said as soon as Buffy and Giles rejoined the group in the living area. He looked at Giles. "I didn't mean to say it."

 "It's all right, Xander." Giles assured him. "This is extremely difficult for all of us. I-I didn't realized that I had been so transparent."

 "You weren't." Xander told him. "Not really. I just recognized the signs."

 "Well, I appreciate that you kept it to yourself." Giles said sincerely.

"How long have you known?"

 "The Prom." Xander told him.

 "When Buffy could read our minds." Oz said.

 "I never saw it." Willow said with a pout.

 "That's okay, Will." Buffy said quietly. "Neither did I."

 "Well, you were obsessed with Angel." Xander said. He blinked in confusion. He saw Buffy glaring at him. "I didn't mean to say that."

 "Uh, Buffy, you were pretty obsessed." Willow commented.

 "I sent him to Hell." Buffy defended herself. "If Oz came back from Hell for you, you'd be obsessed. What did you want me to do? Oh gee, Angel. I know I sent you to Hell and that you only survived by focusing on me for a couple hundred years, but hey ..." She swallowed with difficulty. "Don't you think a part of me wanted to do just that after everything he did? But I couldn't. It was my fault."

 "What was your fault?" Giles asked gently.

 "Everything. All of it." Buffy told him. "*I* set Angelus loose. *I* couldn't kill him fast enough. *I* sent Angel to Hell and *I* brought him back. You didn't see him, when he came back. He was like a terrified child."

 "He's a vampire." Xander pointed out.

 "Xander's right, Buffy." Willow said. "A good vampire, but a vampire."

 "Oz is a werewolf." Buffy pointed out. "If the werewolf got loose, would you blame Oz for what it did?"

 "No." Willow said adamantly. "Of course not."

 "Then how can you blame Angel for what Angelus did?" Buffy asked.

 "Because Angel and Angelus have the same face." Giles said, his voice barely audible. "The same hands, the same eyes, the same voice."

 "I know." Buffy answered in kind. "But they aren't the same." Buffy looked at her hands, clenched together in her lap. "And in my nightmares, it isn't Angel's face I see torturing you."

 "Whose face do you see?" Oz asked.

 Buffy looked at him, her eyes bleak. "Mine."

 "What?!" Giles exclaimed.

 "Buffy, that's crazy." Willow said.

 "Are you saying that you never blamed me?" Buffy asked. "For any of it?" She looked at Xander. "Xander?" Xander looked away, but didn't say anything. Buffy looked at Willow. "You were saying?"

 "The only thing I blamed you for was hiding Angel. And running away." Willow told her.

 Buffy closed her eyes, then she looked at Oz. "I didn't understand, but I didn't blame." Oz told her.

 Buffy couldn't quite meet Giles' eyes.

 Giles reached out, took her chin in his hand and lifted her face so that she met his eyes. "I never blamed you. Which is not to say that I wasn't angry with you when we found out about Angel. But, I never blamed you for what happened."

 "Not even Jenny?" Buffy asked in a whisper.

 "No, not even Jenny." Giles told her gently. He swiped her tears from her cheeks. "You've been doing a lot of that today."

 "Gee, I wonder why?" Buffy said with a choked laugh.

* * * *

   It was sometime later, when Giles went over to the window. They had been quiet for a while, but it had been an uneasy silence. Everybody was afraid of what would come out next. All their insecurities seemed to have moved to the surface. Giles didn't doubt that it was another side effect of Ethan's spell. He stared out the window for five minutes before he realized that the sun was almost down. He felt Buffy behind him before she spoke.

 "How much longer, do you think?" Buffy asked softly.

 "Midnight." Giles returned, just as softly. "Ethan always liked the irony of casting spells at the witching hour."

 Buffy smiled a bit. "Only a couple more hours then."

 "Buffy," Giles said hesitantly. "There's something that I need to know." He turned to face her and saw her brace herself for whatever he would ask.  "Do you still blame me for the Crucamentium?"

 Buffy swallowed against the pain that thoughts of the test still brought with it. She met his eyes, though. "No. I stopped blaming you when Travers threatened you. I knew that I couldn't do this without you. Still can't."

 "Why?" Giles asked. He truly needed to know.

 "Because, you're not simply a Watcher." Buffy told him. "You're *my* Watcher. You're a part of me Giles."

 Unable to restrain himself, Giles brushed back a lock of hair from Buffy's face and let his fingers linger a moment. "Yours." He said softly, putting a different meaning to it. "And are you *my* Slayer?" He asked.

 Buffy looked up at him, her eyes wide. "Do you doubt it?"

 Suddenly, Giles didn't doubt it.


   "Why would Ethan do this?" Oz asked. "We aren't random." He looked at Giles. "I understand why he did this to you. You have a history. And Buffy by extension, he thought that would hurt you. But why the rest of us?"

 Giles looked uncomfortable, but answered. "There were five of us. Ethan and I, Dierdre, Philip and ... And Randall. It was us against the world. And then Eyghon, and Randall died. He's alone now, I think." He looked at each of them in turn. "He sees you as having replaced him, them. They were my family, now you are. And he has no one."

 "Imagine." Buffy said drily. "I am *so* going to hurt him."

 "Can we watch?" Willow asked.

 "Can we help?" Xander asked.

 Buffy leaned against Giles and closed her eyes. Giles looked startled, but didn't protest. "We could always lock him in a room and take turns."

 Giles carefully, a bit uncertain, put his arm around Buffy and held her to his side. He relaxed when he saw her soft smile. "I say that the idea has promise."

 "What else do you think he has in store for us?" Oz asked.

 Giles shook his head. "I honestly don't know."

 "Duh." Buffy said with a giggle. Giles looked at her in question. "You *honestly* don't know." She pointed out, only to giggle again when he groaned.  They sat quietly for a few minutes. Giles noticed Oz watching Buffy with an odd expression. Giles glanced at her himself, only to find her asleep. He smiled. "Well, that's certainly safer." As soon as the words were out of his mouth, she moved. Giles' eyes went wide as Buffy snuggled into him, her hand rested for a moment on his chest before sliding down over his stomach.


   Ethan lit one blue candle and one pink candle. "One drunk Ripper and one drunk Slayer, coming up." He grinned. "Too bad I can't be there to watch."


   Giles didn't quite notice when he started running his fingers lightly up and down the arm Buffy had thrown across him. "Does it ever surprise you just how soft she is?" Giles asked from out of the blue. His words carefully enunciated.

 Willow looked at him worriedly. "Giles?"

 Giles giggled. "I mean she's the Slayer for God's sake, but she's so bloody small. Can you imagine how they explain the way such a tiny little thing beats the crap out of them?"

 "I think Ethan has started the next phase." Oz commented.

 "What's he doing?" Willow asked.

 Buffy woke up with a stretch, which Giles enjoyed immensely. "I feel funny." Buffy said with a giggle.

 "If I didn't know better, I'd say they were drunk." Xander commented.

 "But why?" Willow asked.

 "To take away what was left of their control." Oz told her. "He's stripping layers."

 "Who's stripping?" Buffy asked brightly and looked at Giles. "He's not stripping." She said disappointed.

 Oz went to the kitchen, followed by Willow and Xander. "He's focusing on them, now." Oz went on. "The first one was for all of us. He was hoping that our honesty would hurt them. Then, he made it impossible for Giles to hide his feelings for Buffy. Now, this." He looked a bit worried. "What happens if they lose complete control?"

 "Giles has lost control twice, that I know of." Xander said. "After Ms. Calender was killed and when the Mayor threatened Buffy. Even under the band candy, there was some control there. I mean, he helped Buffy."

 "And Buffy?" Oz asked. "There has to be some serious control there." Willow and Xander looked at him oddly. "Think about it. Even I hit Xander over that stupid love spell and at no point was I naked."

 "Buffy was naked?" Xander asked.

 "When was Buffy naked?" Willow asked. "And how do you know about it?"

 "Amy turned her into a rat." Oz told them. "When she turned back, no clothes. I was there when it happened. She was not happy. Xander survived. I'd say she has control."

 "I never really thought about it like that." Willow commented. "Think of the temptation. It's amazing that Snyder lived long enough for the Mayor to eat him."

 "When they tried to bring the Master back." Xander said quietly. "She lost it."

 "Ted." Willow said. "I was so glad he turned out to be evil."

 "And not human." Xander added. He looked at Oz. "What do we do?"

 "Well, they can't leave the apartment." Oz said. "Which is good and bad."

 "No innocent people." Willow said.

 "Except us." Xander said.
 

   They went back into the living area to find Giles in his boxers and T-shirt. Giles glared at them. "She dared me."

 "He said he was hot." Buffy said in defense. "I told him to take off a few layers." She giggled. "I think he looks cute."

 Giles grinned at her. "Really?"

 "It's not like I can lie." Buffy told him with a pout.

 "S'true." Giles said. He flopped onto the couch next to Buffy.  Buffy once again leaned against Giles. "What do you want to do?" Giles looked  towards the loft.

"You're bad." She told him with a giggle.

 "You must be bad, too, if you know what I'm thinkin'." Giles said. "You must be thinkin' it, too."

 Buffy gasped. "I think I am." She looked at Giles with wide eyes. "Do you think I'm bad?"

 "Hell no." Giles assured her. "I think you're lovely. Unless you want to be bad?"

 Buffy grinned. "How bad?"

 Giles grabbed her hand and stood. Then he saw the others. "Bloody hell." He said as if he'd just remembered them.

 Buffy looked at them wide eyed. "I don't want to be that bad." She said solemnly.

 "Do you two even remember Ethan Rayne?" Xander asked.

 "We're going to hurt him." Buffy said seriously. "Do you want to help?"

 "I'll bring the party mix." Xander said.


   An hour later, Buffy and Giles were curled up on the couch together, asleep. Oz watched them with an odd little smile. "I don't think Ethan is getting what he wanted out of this."

 Xander opened the door and walked out. He walked back in. "It's over." He looked at Buffy and Giles. "Should we wake them?"

 "No." Oz answered. "I think they should decide for themselves how much was spell and how much wasn't."

 "And either way they're going to be embarrassed." Willow added. "We should leave them alone." The trio quietly left.

 Buffy opened her eyes to find Giles already looking at her. She smiled at him. "I thought they'd never leave."

 "You felt it end, as well?" Giles asked.

 "About twenty minutes ago." Buffy told him. "It was a very strange feeling."

 "Rather like a crash landing." Giles commented.

 "Jumping off the high dive when I was ten." Buffy agreed. "So, how much was spell and how much ... Wasn't?"

 "You tell me." Giles told her.

 Buffy backed away a bit and looked at him, still in his boxers and T-shirt. "I still think you look cute. What do you suppose that means?"

 "Perhaps we should find out?" Giles asked. He leaned towards her. When she didn't pull away, he gently placed his lips to hers.


    The next morning, Ethan let himself into Rupert's flat. He saw Rupert in the kitchen. "I see that the Slayer didn't kill you." He drawled.

 Giles, dressed in a pair of forest green pajama bottoms, turned at the sound of Ethan's voice. "She's saving that for you." He went back to fixing tea.

 "Did you enjoy my little gift?" Ethan asked making certain that he kept a good distance between them.

 Giles smiled an extremely well satisfied smile. "In retrospect, I'd have to say yes." He smirked. "If you want the truth." Ethan glowered.

 "Who are you talking to?" Buffy, wearing the matching pajama top, asked as she joined Giles in the kitchen. Giles waved a hand in Ethan's general direction. "Oh." She said sourly. "What do you want?"

 "Is this a gag?" Ethan asked.

 Buffy leaned back against Giles and he wrapped his arms around her middle.

"Without you, I would never have known how Giles felt. So, you get to live."

 Giles leaned down and kissed Buffy on the side of her neck, then looked at Ethan. "And I wouldn't have found out that Buffy felt the same. So, I'm not even going to hit you. But I suggest you leave, before we change our minds, because this could have been ..."

 "And the others? Not feeling as benevolent." Buffy told him. She grinned up at Giles. "I could have only have picked up that word from you."

 "This is sickening." Ethan stated. "You were supposed to be screaming."

 "Oh, that was last night." Buffy said with a wicked grin. "But I don't think that was what you had in mind, either."

 "Buffy." Giles tried to admonish, but couldn't help the pleased smile.

 "This is bloody cruel, you know?" Ethan said.

 "You are in the wrong place for sympathy." Buffy told him.

 "I suggest you leave now, Ethan." Giles told him.

 "And please, let the door hit you in the ass on the way out." Buffy added.

 Et han stormed out, just before the door slammed shut, he saw Rupert bend down and kiss his Slayer. "Bloody Hellmouth." He muttered.

END