TITLE: Sleeping Beauty
E-MAIL ADDRESS: firstname.lastname@example.org
DISCLAIMER: The characters in this story do not belong to me. Please don't sue.
SUMMARY: Buffy is in a coma and there's only one thing that can save her...
"And then the vampire pulled out this knife,"
"That's odd," Giles commented. "Vampires aren't usually in the habit of attacking with weapons."
"Yeah, and it gets weirder. This knife was tiny, we're talking a metal toothpick with a handle. He had it in a sheath too, I think. So, he came charging at me with this thing. I stepped out of the way and tried to stake him as he flew past me. And I got him, right in the chest but, at the same moment, he jabbed the little knife in me. He vaporized and I was left with this thing sticking out of my arm. And then I began to feel dizzy. Every thing became hazy and then I..." she trailed off, looking down at her hands with which she'd been wringing her sweat shirt while she'd been speaking. She noticed that she'd torn it to shreds.
"You what?" Giles asked, leaning towards her. "What happened next?" There was a note of urgency in his voice.
"I don't know. Either I fainted or..." She looked up, meeting his gaze with wide, frightened eyes. "Giles, I think I died."
He let out a breath he'd been holding and leaned back into his chair. "And you suspect this dream was prophetic?" he inquired. She nodded. "Well, let's not jump to conclusions. It's quite possible it was just a...just a dream," he said unconvincingly.
"And if it wasn't?" Buffy asked.
"Well," he said. "If that's the case, we'll just have to be careful, won't we? Remember that not even a prophecy is definate. They are avoidable. After all, the Master was supposed to kill you..."
"And he *did*." she interupted. "I didn't escape from dying. I just found a loophole."
"What about your dream that Angel would be killed?" he added.
"Okay," she consented. "So it's not *definate*. But how many times can one person cheat death?"
He met her frightened gaze and said with all the confidence and assurance he could muster, "You, my slayer, may cheat death however many times it takes before he decides to give up and leave you alone."
* * *
That night, Giles accompanied Buffy on her rounds. He took the crossbow with him and had it ever ready. They'd been patrolling for two hours and there'd been no sign of a vampire wielding a tiny knife. In fact, there'd been no sign of a vampire period, which in itself was odd.
"You know, Buffy," Giles said. "Even if your dream was prophetic, it doesn't necessarily mean it was for tonight. It could be tomorrow night, or a week from now or even a year."
"Oh," she said. "Damn. I hate long waits."
"Or...it could be tonight." Giles said, voice wavering, as three vampires appeared from nowhere. "Clever bastards," Giles noted. "Nice little ambush."
Two of the vampires came at Giles while the third approached Buffy. Giles immediately fired his cross bow, hitting one vampire squarely in the chest. The second vampire stepped through the cloud of dust that had been his companion and charged Giles. Giles dropped the crossbow, not having time enough to reload it and reached to grab the stake from his pocket. The flap over the pocket got in the way of his groping hand, however, impeding his search and he was unable to retrieve the stake before the vampire hit him with a rock-hard fist in the jaw. He staggered backward, still fumbling for the blasted stake as the vampire punched him again in the ribs, this time sending him to the ground. He finally got the flap of his pocket open as the vampire grabbed his collar and lifted him into the air. His hand went around the stake as the vampire bared his fangs and prepared the sink them into his neck. Just as he felt the creatures teeth going into his flesh, Giles thrust the stake into its chest. As it dissapeared into dust, he fell back to the ground with a thud. His entire body protested the pain he was in but before succumbing to unconsciousness, he had to check on Buffy. He rolled his head to one side, then the other, searching for her. Then he saw her, sprawled on the ground some ten feet from him, not moving.
"Oh God...no..." he whispered even as everything went black.
* * *
Giles awoke disoriented. He only knew that he was cold and in pain. Then he remembered.
"Buffy!" he gasped. He turned and saw that she still lay there, just as she had before he'd passed out. He rolled over with a groan and forced himself onto his knees. His ribs and head protested the movement but he ignored them, crawling slowly towards Buffy.
She was pale. *Oh god* he thought. He looked for signs that she was breathing as he inched towards her. *God, please let her be breathing* His own breath had stopped as he looked for hers. He couldn't see the rise and fall of her chest. *No.* He was close enough to touch her now. She was cold. *No.* The knife still protruded from her arm. He regarded it with horror, the tiny weapon that had killed his slayer after all she'd been through. "No," he said out loud. "She can't be...she can't be..." Then he noticed something peculiar. The wound where the knife had entered her arm. There was a considerable amount of blood surrounding it. There should't have been that much blood unless...unless the heart had continued to beat long after the injury occured.
"Buffy?" he said hopefully, crawling closer. "Buffy," he crooned as he stroked her cold cheek. "Buffy, my slayer, wake up." He felt her wrist for a pulse. He thought he felt something but it was so faint... "Buffy," he said again. "My love, are you in there?" He placed his head on her chest, listening desperately for a heart beat, a breath, anything. There was something, so faint as to be undetectable but it was there, the oh so slow beating of her heart. *She's alive.* He breathed deeply for the first time since awakening. "She's alive," he said aloud to himself. "She's alive."
He gathered his strenth and stood up, wincing in pain. Then he took Buffy's limp form into his arms and headed for home.
* * *
At his house, Giles laid Buffy in his bed. He carefully removed the tiny blade that still protruded from her arm and cleaned and bandaged the wound. He checked again to see that her heart was still beating. It was, slowly but surely. He pulled two blankets over her to keep her warm and then he sat beside her, trying to decide on his next course of action. He'd ruled out taking her to the hospital. He didn't think they'd know what was wrong with her any better than he. There was the matter of explaining to her mother what had happened and keeping her from worrying or interfering. Then he had to decide whether or not to inform the slayerettes. But most of all, he needed to get to his books and try to find out what it was had been done to her and whether it was reversable. *dear God, let it be reversable* Finally he had a plan. It was a feeble plan but it was something.
Willow picked up on the second ring. "Hello?"
"Willow, it's Giles."
"Giles?" she said, surprised. It was not often that the school librarian called her. "What is it?"
"I need your help. Buffy..." he faltered. "She's fallen ill..."
"Ill? How? Did something happen?"
"Yes, and I'll explain it to you later. Right now I need for you to do me some favors."
"Can you drive?" he asked.
"Not exactly but I can get Oz to drive me. Why?"
Giles hesitated, deliberating over whether or not he wished to involve a third person. "All right," he consented. "I need you to forge a note in Buffy's handwriting...Can you do that?"
"Yeah, I guess so."
"I need you to write a note saying that you and Buffy have gone somewhere together. I don't care where, just so long as it's believable. Just stick it on the door to her house. I just don't want Joyce to worry."
"Okay," Willow said uneasily. "What else?"
"I need you to go to the library and pull out any books on poisons, sleeping spells, curses, and comas. Bring as many books as you can carry."
"Couldn't we just all go to the library?" Willow said.
"I would but I don't want to leave Buffy alone." Giles bit his lip. "Once you do that, come to my house."
"Giles, what is this about? Is Buffy going to be all right?" Willow asked worried.
He sighed. "I don't know, Willow. I don't know what to do. Just please, please do those things for me."
"Okay Giles. I'll see you as soon as possible."
"Thankyou." he said.
* * *
Willow and Oz arrived at Giles' home about an hour later. Willow gasped when Giles answered the door. He hadn't bothered to clean himself up at all since he'd returned home. His jaw was black and blue where he'd been punched, he had faint red teeth marks on his neck, and there was blood on his shirt from carrying Buffy. He was also covered in dirt from head to foot.
"Giles!" she said. "What happened? Are you all right?" Then her eyes widened. If Giles looked like this, what did Buffy look like, she wondered.
"Come in," he said, ignoring her questions. Her arms were full of books as were Oz's. Giles gestured for them to set them on the kitchen table. "You left a note for Joyce...that is, Mrs. Summers?"
"Yeah, Buffy and I went to the beach with Oz. Mrs. Summmers will probably be mad at her but she won't suspect."
Giles nodded. "Buffy," he said, finally addressing Willow's worries, "is in a deep sleep, in a coma, call it what you like." Willow's eyes widened as Oz squeezed her hand comfortingly. He then proceeded to relay the entire tale to them, beginning with Buffy's dream.
"So, it is my belief," he said after finishing, "...that this is some sort of spell, at least that's my hope, which may be reversed. Now we must find it in these books, if it's in here."
Willow and Oz, as Giles had expected, aided him in searching through the books. They searched for hours without a single lead. By lunch time, Willow and Oz looked extremely fatigued. Giles guessed that they had been up late the previous night doing whatever it is teenagers do late at night. By two in the afternoon, they had fallen asleep on the couch, each with a book open on his/her lap. Giles let them sleep but continued to look through the books himself. It was five when he found it.
It was in a book of curses. It was simply named "Death-like Sleep". The text read:
"The fairy tale "Sleeping Beauty" was derived from this spell. A female is pricked or
cut with an object, such as a spinning wheel needle as in the fairy tale or a small
dagger, needle, etc; which has been dipped in the potion. That female then falls into a sleep
that to the careless observer might be mistaken for death. However, the heart con-
tinues to beat and the female continues to breath. She simply can not move."
"That must be it," he whispered. "The cure...what's the cure?" He read on.
"The cure for this curse was also accurately portrayed in the fairy tale "Sleeping
Beauty". The stricken female may only be brought out of her sleep by receiving
'True Love's Kiss'. A man whom she loves and who loves her must kiss her lips. If
these conditions are not met, she will sleep until her body, deprived of food and
water, breaks down."
That was all there was. "True love's kiss..." He whispered the words out loud. *the man she loves, who loves her in return* He knew who that meant. He swallowed a lump in his throat. It didn't seem fair. He had wanted to find the cure, to save Buffy. He'd wanted to prove that she could trust him. Instead, he was going to have to go to the one person with whom he was constantly fighting for Buffy's attention, the person who had killed his own lover and not even had the decency to stay in Hell where he belonged. Angel. Deep down, Giles knew that the Angel Buffy loved was not the one who'd killed Jenny, not the one who'd tortured him so horribly. But he couldn't help the resentment he had towards him. *This isn't about you, Rupert.* he reminded himself. *This is about Buffy. Angel's the one who can save her. You can't. You have no choice.* He sighed. At least he had the cure.
He left a note for Willow and Oz, who still slept soundly, not to worry, that he knew what to do and Buffy would be fine. Then he went up stairs and gathered Buffy back into his arms. She wasn't quite so cold now, he noticed thankfully. He carried her downstairs, outside and into the Gilesmobile.
* * *
Giles didn't bother knocking on Angel's door. Not only did he not care about the vampire's privacy, but he didn't think he'd be awake enough to hear the knock either. He carried Buffy inside and laid her down on a couch in front of a fireplace. He wasn't entirely sure where the vampire slept, nor did he care to look for him.
"Angel?" he said. "Angel!" He waited a moment, listening. He heard nothing. "Angel!" he said again, louder this time.
"What?" said the vampire from behind him. Giles jumped, startled and spun to face him. Angel bore a dazed look. He'd just awakened. Then he spotted Buffy on the couch. "Buffy?" he said confused. "What did you do to her?" he asked accusingly.
"I did nothing to her," Giles said icily. Then he sighed. If this was going to work, he knew he'd have to stop fighting with the vampire. "She's been cursed," he said softly. "I only came because...because she must recieve a kiss from a man whom she loves and who loves her in order to be awakened."
"How did this happen?" asked Angel.
"Does it matter?" replied Giles. "Please, just kiss her."
Angel noted Giles' tone of voice. "You hate to ask this of me, don't you?" he said.
Giles glared at him. "Well, I must admit that you aren't exactly on the top of my list of allies."
Angel looked down. "I suppose I deserve that."
"Yes," said Giles. "You do. Now, will you please kiss her."
"You're sure this will work?" he asked, stepping towards her.
"You love her and she loves you. It should." Giles replied.
Angel nodded. "Okay." He knelt beside Buffy and stroked her cheek. "She's so cold," he said, voice wavering slightly. "As if she were dead."
"Like you," Giles commented, noting with secret pleasure Angel's flinch at the remark. "Kiss her," he said. It was a plea, not an order.
Angel looked at Giles one last time before finally leaning over to place his lips on hers. Giles shut his eyes, exhaling a painful breath, not wanting to watch. He waited, expecting to hear Buffy's voice sighing Angel's name. But, a minute passed and he heard nothing. He opened his eyes and looked. Angel looked up at Giles, an expression of confusion and worry on his face. "Why didn't it work?" he asked.
"I don't know..." Giles said.
Angel's brow wrinkled. "You said it would work!" Suddenly, his face transformed and he was in his demon form. Giles stared at him, gaping. Then suddenly, he understood.
"You're not a man," he whispered.
"What?" asked Angel.
"The b-b-book..." Giles stuttered. "It said that the *man* who loved her and whom she loved..." He trailed off. "You're not a man. It won't work because you're not a man."
Angel's face smoothed again and again he looked human. "Then I can't awaken her." His voice wavered and he fell back so that he was sitting on the floor. He looked amazingly like a hurt child. He gazed up at Giles. "I can't save her?"
Giles shook his head. "No..." His heart sank, seeming to plummet into his gut as he realized that he didn't know what to do. He and Angel said nothing, each dumbfounded. Then Angel spoke.
"You," he said.
"What?" asked Giles.
"You love her don't you?" asked Angel.
"What does that matter?"
"You love her. I can tell in the way you look at her."
"Even if that were true," Giles said sighing, "What good would it do?"
"Kiss her," said Angel. Giles stared back at him.
"It would be pointless. She'd have to love me in re..."
"Just try," said Angel.
"It would be futile!" shouted Giles, frustrated.
Angel bit his lip, literally. He stared at Giles. "I love her, Rupert." It was the first time the vampire had called him by his first name while he'd had his soul. It caught Giles' attention. "I love her," he repeated. "But I can't save her. Now, maybe you can. I know you don't think it will work but if there's a chance, just a chance, then it's worth a try."
"It won't work..." said Giles softly.
"Please," said Angel. "You do love her?"
"Yes," said Giles and as he said it, he realized it for the first time himself. "I do love her. I'd die for her."
"Then kiss her."
Giles walked slowly to Buffy's side, where Angel still sat. He got up and moved away to watch from afar. Giles looked down at Buffy's motionless form. "Sleeping beauty," he whispered. Then he leaned down, closed his eyes and kissed her.
Her lips were cold but in all other respects, exactly as he'd imagined them. They were soft and full and still tasted slightly of strawberry lip gloss which he'd seen her apply the night before. He very gently brushed his lips against hers, breathing his warm breath between her parted lips. A second passed and he was sure he'd failed as he'd expected. But then he felt her lips move against his and he felt and heard her take a deep breath. His first thought was to pull away and let her breath but he found he couldn't. Her arm snaked up and around his neck, holding his mouth to hers. She traced his lips with her tongue and without thinking, he opened his mouth to allow it entry. The feel of her tongue meeting his was electric, sending a shudder of pleasure through Giles body. He felt Buffy's smile as she noted his reaction and then kissed him all the more passionately. Finally, when neither had any breath left, Buffy let him go and they pulled apart, gasping for breath.
"Buffy..." was all that Giles could say, staring at her in wonder. She smiled back at him, knowing exactly what was on his mind.
"I love you, Giles," she said. His eyes widened in surprise and then he too smiled.
"I love you, my slayer," he said softly but still with a look of confusion. "But, how did you...I mean, you knew it was me and...and you...just now you decided?"
She rubbed her fingers along his furrowed brow. "I couldn't move, Giles. But I could hear. I've been aware of what was going on since last night, just unable to respond. I decided I loved you while I was sleeping." Suddenly she remembered Angel and looked up to see him some ten feet away. He was smiling though his eyes betrayed his hurt. "Angel..." she said.
"It's all right," he said. "I've suspected...known for awhile now. You need someone human and Rupert is a good man." With that, he turned and left the room.
Giles watched him go, having a new-found respect for the vampire. No matter what the soul-less Angelus had done, Angel was a good being. Buffy watched him go with a pained look but smiled when her watcher looked back at her. She leaned towards him to kiss him again.
Things would be different now. She wasn't sure what the future would bring but she knew it would include Rupert Giles in a different, better role in her life.