The Link
By Selenay

Title: The Link
Author: Selenay
E-mail: selenay@talk21.com
Summary: Solo is much better at this than I am. Suffice to say, a spell goes wrong and causes chaos.
Rating: PG-13
Setting: My usual alternative universe season 4-type setting, with Buffy, Willow, Xander and Cordelia lodging with Giles in a big house he bought over the summer. This time season three events have happened (therefore no Faith, but Wesley and Anya are around). I may be in the UK, but I managed to find transcripts! Yay me.
Disclaimer: The story is mine, the rest belongs to Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, the WB, etc. Please don't sue - I have no money.
Feedback: Please, please, please (but no flames, my ego is very fragile).


Once the college term started life in the house settled into a routine. Everyone would arrive home from classes or work and head for the library in the basement, raiding the kitchen on the way past. Wesley had a key and was frequently waiting for them there. Giles often arrived slightly later; his duties as a part-time lecturer at the college meant he could not always leave as early as everyone else. If Oz had nothing happening with the band he would join them. He often seemed to spend more time at the house than its actual residents.

It was now several weeks into the term. The usual summer decrease in Hellmouth activity was over and the Gang was hard at work trying to prevent the end of the world again. The latest prophecy was suitably obscure and they were pulling an all-nighter in the basement/library to try and decode it. Or at least, most of them were decoding; Buffy was practising with a punch bag and making snacks. Giles was reading and occasionally glaring at Wesley, who was in turn gazing at Cordelia and occasionally reading. Xander was contemplating the mysteries of Anya, Anya was contemplating the mysteries of young men in general and Xander in particular, and they were both attempting not to fall asleep at the long-windedness of the their assigned books. Oz and Willow, despite being the only official couple in the room were probably getting the most work done. Although possibly being a secure, happy couple meant they did not have to spend all their time worrying about what each other was thinking.

"Oh!" Willow squeaked into the silence.

"Have you found something?" Giles inquired.

"I've found something." Willow confirmed from behind her computer. "It's this really useful looking spell . . . that I'm now saving to look at later so I can go back to looking at the prophecy."

"I'm sure it's a great spell," Oz reassured her.

They worked on in silence, the minutes turning into hours. Buffy finally gave into sleep and lay down on a couch. Giles found a rug to cover her with, and stood for a moment watching her sleep. Sometimes it seemed that the only time she was truly at peace was when she was asleep, although even then she was not always free from the horrors she fought. She looked vulnerable, child-like in sleep. Her golden hair fanned out over the cushions under her head, and although her beautiful, expressive hazel eyes were hidden the tiny, soft smile on her lips more than made up for that. It was at moments like these that Giles found it difficult to ignore the feelings he had for her. His heart tightened, and he reached down to gently brush away a stray hair from her face.

Oz, always observant, noted this with a small smile. He had noticed Giles' expressions around Buffy before. The mix of tender love and desire was haunting and beautiful; he had seen himself look at Willow that way more often than he could count. Sometimes he was amazed at how much this group did not see.

"Wesley, when you were reading this prophecy, did you remember to correct for errors in the ninth century calendars?" Willow asked, breaking into the silence again.

"No . . . I don't think I did. It was so certain regarding the date that I was more concerned with the actual events . . ." he trailed off, noticing the glares he was receiving.

"Remind me again why we didn't feed this guy to the Mayor when we had the chance?" Xander asked.

"I'm sure we had our reasons," Giles replied with the weariness only a person who is coping on five hours sleep over the past three nights because of false prophecy alarms can conjure up. "I'll remember them when I've had some sleep."

"Sorry G-man. You're out of luck with that today." Xander pointed to the clock that was already reading 6am.

"Oh well. Maybe another day." He glared at Wesley again. "Thank god it's Friday."

Unusually Wesley had the grace to look slightly ashamed. After all, it was his over zealous research that had resulted in them pulling three all-nighters in a row.

"I'll make some tea," he offered.

 "That would be most appreciated," Giles said, removing his glasses to massage his aching forehead as Wesley left the room.

"Maybe we could encourage him go back to England," Willow said hopefully.

"Much as I hate to admit this, his continued presence here is the only reason the Council is unaware that Buffy is no longer taking orders from them."

"I know you meant to say he's covering for me Giles," Buffy said groggily. "You're the only man I know who can say in ten sentences what the rest of us say in ten words. Hasn't living with us done anything for your vocabulary?"

"It's taught me a whole new language."

"Good, I think. Is anyone making breakfast?"

"And people complain that *I* only think about food," Xander said.

"I'm going for a shower. My hair must look a mess," Buffy said, groaning as her stiff muscles complained about sleeping on the couch.

"Giles, can you look over this spell?" Willow asked.

"What is it supposed to do?" Giles was trying to work the kinks out of his neck. < God, my head hurts. I'll kill that idiot if he so much as breathes a word about prophecies tonight. >

"It's meant to link a group of people together so they can find each other if one of them gets lost."

"Really?" Giles put his glasses on and moved to stand behind Willow, tiredness forgotten as he considered the possibilities of such a spell.

"I thought it might be useful if one of us gets kidnapped. This is the Hellmouth and we do seem to do that a lot."

"Cool," Oz said, looking (for Oz) excited. The times when Willow had been kidnapped had been the scariest times of his life.

"Can you get this . . . thing to print a copy of it on paper?" Giles asked.

***

Once Giles confirmed that the spell would do exactly what Willow thought it would they wasted no time in preparing to cast it. As Willow had pointed out, this was the Hellmouth and rarely a month went by without one of them going missing for some reason or other. So they met in the basement/library that afternoon as soon as everyone, including Anya, Oz and Wesley, were free. They moved the table that sat in the middle of the room to create a large open space and Willow began drawing on the floor with chalk.

"I hope you're going to clean that up when you're finished," Buffy commented to Giles, "I'm on laundry duty this week and I do *not* fancy trying to get chalk out of your shirt when I kick your butt later."

"You won't be 'kicking my butt' later as you so prosaically put it," Giles responded, "I've volunteered Wesley for that honour."

"You've been taking lessons from Principal Snyder on the volunteer concept, haven't you?"

"I think I'm ready," Willow said nervously. "You all need to stand in the circle and take a candle."

They all did this and looked at Willow expectantly.

"This is good. Could you all stop looking at me? You're making me kind of nervous."

"Relax Will," Buffy said. "We're not looking at you. We're looking near you."

"Well, look more away from me. Form a circle and look at each other. I'll stand here."

Willow turned off most of the lights and took up a position just inside the chalk circle, but outside the circle of friends.

"And close your eyes."

She lit the bundle of herbs she was holding and began walking around the circle, reading from the paper in her other hand. It was in Latin, so made little sense to everyone apart from Giles and Wesley. On her second turn around the circle the candles they were holding lit as she went past each person. A small ball of light was forming in the centre of the circle, and grew larger as each candle lighted. When Willow went around the group again the ball of light changed colour, from red to blue to pure white. At the end of her last circuit Willow shouted the final three words and dropped the herbs on the floor. As they hit the ground two things happened. All the candles went out, leaving the group in almost darkness. At the same time the ball of light split in two and the two halves slammed into Giles and Buffy. They briefly glowed and then that light went out. Xander managed to find the light switch and turned it on to show Giles and Buffy lying on the floor. Buffy was already getting up, but Giles appeared to be unconscious.

"Ooh, what happened?" Buffy moaned, holding her head.

"I don't know, but I don't think you were meant to get knocked out," Willow replied, puzzled.

Buffy then noticed Giles on the floor and crawled over to him. "Is he going to be ok?" she asked, frightened.

The blonde girl was not sure when it had happened, but over the past few weeks she had realised that her feelings for Giles were changing - had changed. At first she thought it was rebound emotions from breaking up with Angel, but she had been doing a lot of soul searching lately and come to some startling conclusions. Her feelings - her obsession with Angel had blinded her to anything else for a long time. She had difficulty even explaining it to herself, but the feelings she had for Giles were so similar and at the same time totally different, and she had not been able to see them before. He had always been there for her, supporting and caring for her and until a few weeks before she had taken that for granted. Then she had seen a vampire almost kill him on patrol and for one moment she was so terrified she could not move. Once she recovered from that she dusted the vamp, then went home to sort out her emotions. Seeing Giles everyday and living with him made it more difficult to sort them out, but at the same time it was great. She had found herself falling in love with a wonderful man, but again it was someone she did not think she could have. After all, he loved her like a daughter and that was hardly a foundation for a relationship.

Now she found herself staring at his unconscious form hoping that his head would prove as resilient as it always had, scared that it would not. < Life was so much easier before. Sometimes feelings suck. > she thought, wincing as her head began throbbing in earnest.

"Should we move him?" She asked. "Or leave him there? And why isn't he waking up yet? I have."

"You're the Slayer, Buffy. You always come round first." Willow comforted her.

Xander tried to relieve the tension. "A couple of years ago I had a world where getting knocked-out was a rare and frightening thing. Now I live in a world where it happens at least once a week. Why?"

Buffy glared at him.

"Buffy, don't worry. He gets knocked-out so often he's used to it. Look, he's coming round."

Xander was right. Giles was stirring and groaned as he tried to move his head.

< Hurts, doesn't it? > she thought.

< God, yes. > came his reply.

"Join the club," Buffy grinned at him, relieved he seemed to be all right.

"Join what club? Where?" Xander asked.

"Xander, are you ok?" Buffy asked him, puzzled.

"Buffy, I don't like to scare you but . . . we didn't hear you say anything about . . . anything before the club thing." Willow sounded worried.

"I did. He said stuff, and I said stuff and . . . you totally didn't hear it," Buffy finished. "I'm not liking this."

Giles was still groggy, but he was keeping up. < Oh no. > he thought. Or words to that effect.

"Oh no is about right," Buffy said, looking stunned.

"Did he . . . ? Wait, I don't want to know." Willow began to look frightened. "I did something to you. It's all my fault. I don't know what I did, but I definitely did something."

"I've read about these things," Wesley began, "but I've never heard of them as being magic-induced."

"What things?" Willow asked.

"Telepathy. Mind speech. This could be quite fascinating . . ." he trailed off in the face of their glares.

< Sensible man. The idiot may finally be learning. > Giles thought.

Buffy giggled.

"Ok, could you two stop that? It's giving me the wiggins," Cordelia complained.

"Sorry." Buffy said. "I'm as wigged as you. Probably more. At least you aren't hearing his thoughts."

< I heard the thought behind that. > Giles warned her.

"I *really* don't like this," Buffy said, standing up and moving to the other side of the room.

Giles sat up, moving slowly so he did not jar his aching head. He paused a moment, then thought < Buffy, can you hear this? >

Buffy did not respond, so he asked aloud, "Buffy, did you hear me a moment ago?"

"No. Did you . . . ?" Comprehension dawned. "Distance! This is much better."

"Um, guys?" Willow said nervously. "If this is attached to the linking spell than we have a problem."

"Why?" Buffy asked.

"Uh, the spell's kind of permanent and it was designed to develop slowly. Sort of like a slow release spell."

"So it's gonna get stronger over time?" Cordelia asked. "What? I'm here, I volunteered to get a job and fight the forces of evil here instead of having an acting career in LA; I'm not totally useless at this stuff. Even Xander caught that one."

"You're saying the telepathy could increase over time?" Wesley asked.

"Possibly. It wasn't meant to happen so I don't know what's going to happen." Oz put his arms around Willow protectively.

"Willow, tell me exactly what happened while you were casting the spell," Giles requested, standing.

Willow and everyone (apart from Buffy) sat down at the table to try to sort out what happened. Buffy stayed safely by the far wall, worrying.

Willow explained about the ball of energy and the way it seemed to fill Buffy and Giles at the end of the spell. Unless the spell was acting really weird, it seemed that Buffy and Giles were the only two involved. It was a small comfort.

Wesley was already looking through books. Since the Ascension he had been making an effort to prove indispensable to the group. They may have managed to convince the Council nothing had changed, despite Buffy's actions, but he knew he was not popular with them and that they could quite easily tell him to leave. If that happened, the Council would know something was wrong and he had grown quite fond of them all. He did not want to think what they would do to Buffy if they knew she was not answering to them anymore. Hopefully now that Faith was dead and they had her replacement safely in their hands they would be content with that and leave them alone. At least if he stayed here and covered for Buffy he would not have to go back to the Council in disgrace.

When Willow finished explaining everyone grabbed books and began researching.

< God, another night of research. Maybe I'll get some sleep some day. > Buffy heard Giles think, then caught an image of him pounding on Wesley. < Much better. > she heard.

Abruptly she walked over to the witch. "Willow, can I have a word with you? Alone. Somewhere else."

Willow nodded and they went up to the room they shared.

"What's wrong?" Willow asked. "Possibly a dumb question."

Buffy sat on her bed and worried at a thread nervously. "You said the spell takes a couple of days to get to full strength?"

Willow was puzzled; they had already discussed this downstairs, but she knew Buffy would get to the point eventually. "It's more a distance thing. It gets its full range in a couple of days. At the moment it could find us really well in this house, but I'd be out of range in the garden. By the time it gets to full strength it'll be effective past the limits of Sunnydale."

"That's good," Buffy said absently. "The telepathy thing is already getting worse."

"Oh. That's why we're up here."

"That, and I need to talk to you."

"I think we've established that."

"I know. I'm just building up to it. It's kind of scary and I know you'll find it a bit eew but . . . I need some advice."

"Cool. I get to be advice girl."

"Do you think this . . . thing will make Giles able to hear everything I think?"

"Uh, probably. I don't know, and believe me I wish I did."

"O-kaay. This is not of the good."

Willow moved to sit by Buffy on the bed, trying to work out what could have Buffy so worried. < Back up. She's linked to Giles, and hears his thoughts. I'd be panicking by now if this were happening to me, even if I was linked to Oz. >

Buffy took a deep breath, and said, "IhavefeelingsforGilesandI'lldieifhefindsout."

Willow took a moment to work out what Buffy had said, and then she surprised Buffy by saying, "Is that all? I already knew that."

Buffy appeared to deflate. "You knew? How did you know? This is not the kind of thing anyone knows. Knowing was not going to be an option in this."

"Buffy, I'm sorry to say this but hiding your feelings has never really been your strong point. You kind of . . . broadcast them. And, I am an expert at these kind of feelings."

"I broadcast? Does this mean everyone knows?"

"No." Willow was swift to reassure her. "If you haven't noticed, most of them are more than a bit unnoticing about this stuff. I think Oz does, but I haven't asked. He always notices things." Willow's face reflected the love she felt for the gentle werewolf.

"Why aren't you going 'eeew' yet?"

"It's not that bad. He's younger than Angel, he's not a Watcher anymore, and he is kind of cute in an English way. Even Cordelia said so once, although she'll kill me if you tell her I told you."

"Don't worry. I'll only use that for blackmail."

Now that was out of the way Willow was curious. "When did you realise?"

Buffy sat thoughtfully for a moment. "It kind of crept up on me. I thought I'd never be able to love anyone after Angel, but my feelings sort of . . . got less over the summer and I realised I didn't miss him that much. I got happier. You have to admit, we never seemed to get many happy moments."

"I did notice that."

"And then there were some vamps on patrol and they almost killed Giles and I sort of . . . realised."

Willow was getting that goofy, 'I'm so happy for you' look as Buffy told her tale. "Do you get all tingly around him? 'Cos that's a good sign."

"Like I've been hit with static electricity."

Willow squealed with excitement. "And-and do you day-dream about him and . . . stuff."

"Day-dream, night-dream. I'm worse at that than I was with Angel. I mean, I live with him so there's not a lot left to the imagination."

Willow blushed.

"*Not* that. Although I have had those dreams too."

"Oh." Willow suddenly remembered something. "When I thought I was waking you up from a nightmare last week and you tried to hit me . . ."

"Uh-huh. That was one of *those* dreams."

"Sorry. Next time, well, you know."

"It's ok. You weren't to know."

"So, why don't you want him to know?"

"Do you remember how you felt about telling Xander?" Willow nodded, remembering the 'sweaty palms and madness' talk a couple of years before. "Well, there's that and I doubt he feels that way about me."

"How do you know?"

"When that Travers guy talked to Giles after the test thing, he said Giles loved me like a father. He didn't deny it."

"Oh Buffy." Willow could see this was depressing her friend a lot. "But he didn't agree either, did he?" Buffy shook her head. "Maybe he didn't want to hurt you. I mean, you were pretty upset then and saying anything like that would have made it worse."

Buffy could see her point, but she found it hard to believe Giles could have feelings for her in the way she wanted, and said so. "What would he see in me? And then there's the age thing, and the Slayer thing."

Willow could see her friend was not thinking about this rationally. She was panicking, and when Buffy panicked, particularly about her feelings, she tended to ignore logic completely. So she decided to distract her. She got up and reached down a book from her shelf.

"I think there may be something in here to help you."

"No love spells. No spells of any kind. This is the Hellmouth and I think I'm a living example of our newest rule: Hellmouth and magic don't mix." Buffy's hazel eyes sparkled with a mix of humour and residual panic.

"No magic." Willow promised. "It's about mind stuff. Telekinesis, telepathy, that kind of thing. I used it when I was learning to levitate things."

"And I still say you're the best pencil levitator in the business."

"Thank you." Willow flushed in pleasure, still unsure how to take praise. "There may be things in here about controlling your mind thing. At least until we figure out how to undo it."

"Can't we just cancel the linking spell?" Buffy asked, remembering Willow's words last year about emotional control and levitation. She knew she was not good with emotional control.

"It's meant to be permanent. It wouldn't do us much good if someone could undo it as soon as they kidnapped us."

"I suppose." Buffy said grumpily, taking the book. "I think I'll stay up here though."

***

Down in the basement/library Giles was also researching and worrying. If they had both known how similar their thoughts and feelings were, it would have been much less stressful. But they were both being stubborn and afraid, and the fact that they could read each other's minds only made it worse. Buffy was the centre of Giles' world and he was afraid that if she found out how he felt about her she would be disgusted. He did not know what he would do if his feelings for her ended their friendship.

Willow came back into the basement alone. "She's trying to find out if there is any way for you to shield your thoughts," the red-head explained.

"Good," Giles replied absently. He had just caught a brush of a familiar presence on the edge of his mind and he knew the link had expanded already. It would not be long before he and Buffy would be hearing each other's thoughts again, and he wanted to make sure he was concentrating on anything but her when the moment came.

Everyone sat quietly, sensing the tension and not wanting to say anything that could make things worse.

***

Buffy was about to give up and go on patrol when she found what she was looking for. It would not stop her receiving Giles' thoughts, but it would ensure he could no longer hear hers. Considering this was her biggest fear, she understandably relieved.

She read the text through a couple of times to make sure she did not miss anything, then began. There were no fancy incantations or herbs, it was more about controlling her mind. She closed her eyes and concentrated.

First she had to try to empty her mind, then form an image of herself. Then slowly, brick by brick, she built a mental wall around 'herself'. When it was done she opened her eyes and relaxed. She could feel still Giles' familiar presence, and from the metal mutterings guessed he was reading something. < Time to try this out. > she thought and went down to the basement.

Giles almost jumped out of his skin when Buffy whispered in his ear, "Can you hear me now?"

He surprised to realise just how accustomed he had become to sensing her, even after just a few hours.

"Y-yes," he said shakily. Her breath on his cheek was somewhat distracting, but he noticed something and spun round quickly. "I can't sense you."

Buffy smiled, relieved. When she had come down the stairs and he had not even noticed, even though she was trying to 'broadcast' loudly, the temptation to creep up on him was too much. Although it could initially have been put down to his concentration on the books, his words confirmed that the mental exercise was working. She could still, however, hear his thoughts and they were not being complementary about her trick.

The Slayer dropped the book she had been using on the table in front of Giles and dragged a surprised Wesley off to patrol with her. As she left she caught a gleeful image from Giles of Wesley running screaming from a tiny vampire, and smothered a giggle.

Giles picked up the book and found the place Buffy had marked. < Time to get this under control before she hears something she shouldn't. >

***

Several hours later Buffy and Wesley returned to the house. The Slayer immediately noticed a difference. She could not feel the slightest wisp of Giles' presence, let alone the quiet mental commentary that she had grown surprisingly used to in the short time they had been joined. She shook off the sudden loneliness that accompanied this. It was for the best.

"I'll go home now," Wesley said, yawning.

"OK," Buffy replied absently.

"Good night."

"'Night," Buffy said, wondering why the house was so quiet.

Looking at the clock in the hallway, she noted it was after one and assumed tiredness had finally caught up with everyone.

"Giles?" she called, walking quietly down the stairs to the basement

No matter how late it was, Giles never went to bed before she came back from patrol. She always found it comforting to find him sitting in the library reading, or sometimes asleep in his chair in the lounge, even if she then told him off for staying up unnecessarily. It was part of their daily routine and neither of them wanted to change it.

"Oh good. That's answered one question," Giles said as he put away the book he had been reading.

"Huh?"

"If you were still hearing my thoughts you wouldn't have had to ask if I was here."

"Oh. Why are you still up? I know you have a bed, and you look totally exhausted."

"You know just how to compliment someone."

Buffy grinned at him, enjoying the usual round of bantering. "I try."

"That you do. How was patrol?" Giles decided to change subject while he was ahead.

"Two vamps dusted and Wesley only screamed a little bit."

Giles knew Buffy had caught his earlier thought about Wesley, and so did not bother to chide her for that.

"You should get some sleep. The immediate problem has been solved, and we've had three all-nighters in a row," Giles said.

"Only if you do," Buffy replied, seeing again how tired the past few days had made him and aware she was not faring much better.

"Gladly," said Giles with feeling.

***

Buffy was dreaming. It was a wonderful dream, about her favourite dream subject; her and Giles. She walked down the stairs to the basement, only vaguely aware that she was wearing a silk nightgown. Giles was sitting at the table in the middle of their small library reading and stood quickly, startled, as she reached the final step.

"B-Buffy, I, uh, that is . . ." he trailed off, blushing.

She loved it when he did that. It made him look so . . . Giles, and she felt a tide of love and desire rushing through her. At the same time she saw Giles' eyes darken in arousal and noticed him looking at her in a highly non-Giles way. She walked towards him, deliberately swaying her hips seductively, and was rewarded with another searing look.

She reached out a hand and trailed it along his cheek, enjoying the blush that bloomed where her fingers touched. Then she took his head in her hands and dragged him down for a kiss. As her lips touched his she felt as though a bolt of electricity had passed through her, and she could not stifle a moan. Then he began responding, pulling her against him and flicking his tongue across her lips. She opened them and his tongue immediately invaded, igniting a fire inside her. The fire grew hotter as the kiss grew more passionate and Buffy began pulling his shirt away, needing to feel his skin beneath her hands. His hands seemed to be everywhere, touching, stroking and arousing. She managed to rip away the shirt and matched him touch for touch. She could feel his growing arousal against her belly as she reached for . . .

Beeeep!

Buffy smashed the offending alarm clock and tried to return to her dream, but it was too late. She quickly put up her mental shield and lay back to enjoy a mental replay, until Willow turned on the radio and banished any hopes in that direction.

A thought occurred to Buffy. < The link wouldn't cause us to share dreams, would it? Because I'd never be able to look at him again if it did. How embarrassing would that be? No, it's totally unlikely. And he wouldn't have responded like that if it was *him* anyway. > She felt oddly (although considering her feelings for him it was not that odd) disappointed at that last thought.

***

< Intense > was Giles' only though as he stood, shivering, in his cold shower. < Pity it wasn't real. Although she would never have responded like that if it were. Good thing we have those shields sorted out. >

***

Everyone's valiant plans to begin researching again at the crack of dawn crumbled in the face of their exhaustion, so it was late morning before they gathered in the library. Then the research was interrupted again to get some lunch, and Xander was sent out to the store to buy it because they had not had time to shop for a while. Willow decided to use this is a chance to test the original spell and see if it worked. With the spell already doing unexpected things, none of them would have been surprised if it had not worked at all.

"What do you need to do this?" Buffy asked curiously.

"Just a map." Willow replied. "The incantation can be done by any of us and the map will show where Xander is. That's why the spell seemed like such a good idea."

To prove her point she spread the map out on the floor and instructed Cordelia in how to cast the 'finding' part of the spell.

"Seems easy enough," the girl said, "which is probably why it went wrong."

"That's what I thought," Willow said.

Cordelia closed her eyes and began reciting the portion of the spell that would let them know where Xander was. As she had said it was really very simple. Basically, the incantation was in Latin and roughly translated to 'Find the missing one: Xander,' repeated several times. When she said the final word a dot of light began glowing on the map over the location of the nearest supermarket. As they watched the dot started moving along a street in the direction of the house.

"It worked!" Willow cried happily.

"S-so it would seem," Giles confirmed.

Willow abruptly stopped her happy jiggling, and sank into her chair. "If this part went right, why did it have a weird side-effect?"

"If you will allow me to posit a suggestion?" Wesley said.

"English, Wesley. It's great language and amazingly we all speak it here," Buffy said dryly.

Giles, having been the subject of these comments numerous times himself, hid a grin behind his hand. < Walked right into that one, didn't you? >

Wesley chose to ignore it. "I suspect it could have something to do with Buffy's status as a Slayer. Possibly the spell created a deeper link in her than with the rest of us because she has unusual amounts of magic around her anyway. Mr. Giles was standing opposite her in the circle, which could explain his involvement."

"Congratulations. You just explained something in language we all understand," Buffy teased him.

"Thank you."

"That's the best explanation we've come up with so far," Willow said.

When Xander returned with the food they ate lunch, and then began researching again. Willow was trying all the sites on the Internet she could think of in hopes of finding some clue as to why the spell went wrong, and everyone else was searching through Giles' books. When the sun went down Buffy went out and did a quick patrol. She and Giles were both developing headaches from the strain of keeping up their shields. Although it only required a small amount of concentration to keep the mental image of a wall in place, after a whole day of doing so and reinforcing it when it slipped they were both feeling mentally exhausted. Consequently her patrol was only a sketchy sweep.

She returned home to find they had ordered out for pizza and she was starving.

"I hope you guys find something soon," she said part way through her third slice. "My head's about ready to explode."

"I'm so sorry Buffy," Willow apologised again. "It seemed like a great idea at the time."

"It's not your fault Will. You weren't to know what would happen."

They continued working late into the night. Eventually Buffy moved to the sofa with her pile of books, stating she wanted to get more comfortable, but she was asleep in minutes. As she nodded off Giles felt her shields weaken and fall, and then disjointed images from her half-sleeping mind. He caught a brief image from the previous night's dream, but it was gone so fast he decided he had imagined it, then she was deeply asleep. He stood, removed the book that was lying open on her chest, and covered her with the blanket from the back of the sofa.

Oz, as usual, observed his actions and wondered how everyone else in the room could be so blind.

***

By the early hours of the morning only Giles and Willow were even pretending to be awake. Wesley was asleep on his book, Xander and Anya were asleep on the other sofa and Oz was lying uncomfortably with his head in Willow's lap. With Buffy safely asleep Giles had released his mental shield, and his headache was mostly gone. He even felt more awake. So it was then that Willow found their first real lead.

"Oh! I think I've found something," she said suddenly.

"You have?" Giles woke up completely at the news.

"Uh-huh. Definitely. You wake up Buffy and I'll wake up the others."

While Willow woke Oz and the others, Giles put his shields back up and then went over to Buffy and shook her gently.

"Buffy," he called quietly, "wake up, Willow's found something."

"Huh?" Buffy said groggily, still half asleep.

Her shields were still down so Giles could feel and hear everything she thought. < Why is Giles waking me up? Oh, it's Giles and we're in the library. He's all mussed up. Boy, does that look sexy. > Seeing him leaning over her looking concerned and 'mussed up' Buffy felt the familiar wave of love and passion run through her.

Giles also felt it, and for a moment he was so surprised he did not know what to think. In that moment of total shock his mental control wavered and vanished.

Buffy was just waking up completely when it happened and she knew immediately that he had seen her feelings. For a moment embarrassment flooded her, until she felt an answering rush of love/desire from him, mixed with uncertainty about her response and joy at his discovery. Giles could feel her embarrassment at the knowledge she had revealed her feelings for him, and hastened to reassure her with his feeling for her. They communicated silently for several long moments, reassuring each other and wiping away all the negative emotions until the only ones that remained were love, desire and the joy of their discoveries.

In that wonderful moment Giles caught the fleeting thought from Buffy < I hope he kisses me, > and he slowly bent down to brush his lips against hers.

Buffy reached up to meet him half way and sighed happily as their lips met. < Finally > she thought, then she found it difficult forming coherent thoughts. If the dream kiss was wonderful, this was beyond wonderful. She felt as though there was fire flooding through her veins, and when she opened her mouth to his tongue she melted.

< Sweetness > Giles thought as he tasted her mouth. He felt as though he would never get enough of that taste. Her love seemed to envelop him and combined with the kiss he felt in imminent danger of burning up. A brief image of his bed came from Buffy, and in silent agreement of her unspoken request he picked her up and carried her up the basement steps, neither one breaking the kiss.

***

"Ok, what just happened there?" Cordelia asked, confused.

Oz had seen the expressions flickering across both their faces, and their actions left him in no doubt as to what happened. "They finally worked out their feelings."

"You saw it too?" Willow asked. "I knew you would. Where are they going?"

Oz 'looked' at her.

"Oh." Willow gulped and blushed.

"That was a mental image I didn't need," Xander said in disgust.

***

Several hours later, as the grey light of dawn peeked through the window, Giles lay with Buffy asleep in his arms. He could still hardly believe that she loved him, but her naked form pressed against his side was proof that the night had not been a dream. He knew they still had a lot to discuss, not least what they were going to do about their link, but the lack of sleep was rapidly catching up with him. She looked so content lying there, so he kissed her forehead and joined her in sleep.

***

When Buffy woke up the late morning sunshine was streaming through the window straight into her eyes. < Window's in the wrong place. > she though groggily. < Where? > The events of the night flashed through her mind and she remembered where she was. Waking up more she noticed she was lying with her head on Giles' shoulder and his arm around her. < Nice > she thought.

< Morning, love > she heard Giles think.

"Morning," she said, her voice husky from sleep.

She began to blush, not sure of the protocol when a person wakes up in someone else's bed. Giles felt the thought, and solved her dilemma by giving her a long, sensual kiss.

"I could get used to waking up like this," Buffy said. "That is . . ." she trailed off, not sure how to say what she wanted to say.

"I know," Giles reassured her.

"This link thing has advantages."

"That's something we need to talk about. Willow thinks she found something. That was why I woke you up earlier."

< We probably shocked everyone out of their wits. > Buffy thought, a flashback to the night accompanying the thought.

< That we did. > Giles agreed, sending her an image of Wesley, mouth open, face brilliant red.

Buffy giggled, sending him a matching image of Xander's expression. Giles chuckled and kissed her.

< Back to the original subject. > "Do you want to keep this link, or should we continue trying to find a cure?" Giles asked, shielding his thoughts so his love would not be influenced by his opinions.

Buffy lay deep in thought for several minutes while Giles played with a lock of her hair. Her thoughts were too fast for him to follow, so he just waited for her to sort them out.

"My first instinct is to say 'yay, let's get rid of it,'" she said eventually. "But thinking about it, there is very little we don't know about each other, certainly nothing I wouldn't want you to know." She sat up so she could look at him properly. "Being linked like this will at least make sure there are never any huge misunderstanding between us, and we're more in tune so that can't be bad for the Slaying. It means we have to be totally honest with each other, which could be good or could be bad. Over all, I can't see any reason to get rid of the link and lots of reasons to keep it."

Giles sighed with relief and released his shields so she could see his thoughts. < I love you. >

< I know. > Buffy thought smugly.

< For that . . .> he pulled her down to the bed again and kissed her fiercely.

< What about the others? > Buffy thought, then was distracted as Giles found the very sensitive spot behind her ear.

< Later. > he replied.

***

Sometime later Buffy and Giles walked down to the basement/library again, hand in hand. The Gang was in the middle of lunch, and Giles and Buffy both blushed at the knowing looks they received.

"I don't want to know," Xander said.

As the couple sat down at the table, Willow went over and gave Buffy a sandwich. She hugged her and whispered, "I think it's great. Xander's just in denial. Fill me in later."

"Thanks Will," Buffy whispered back.

"I-I understand y-you found something Willow," Giles stuttered, blushing as he received Buffy's thought to fill her friend in later.

< Don't worry. She won't get any details. Just the important stuff. > Buffy reassured him.

Giles was not sure how that was supposed to reassure him, but was distracted by what Willow was saying.

"I think the link thing is separate to the original spell. I found a spell that does exactly what happened to you and Buffy. It even described the ball of light."

"So this isn't a side effect of the original spell as we thought?" Wesley said.

"Nope. It's a whole spell on it's own. It could have been attached to the original spell to be activated, but it's definitely a separate spell."

"Do you know how to undo it then?" Buffy asked, curious even though she knew what she wanted.

"Not yet, but it shouldn't be to hard to find the counter-spell if you want."

They didn't need to consult each other to know what they were going to say. "We want to keep the link," Buffy spoke for them both.

"Oh." Willow was surprised, but she could see they were serious. "If you're sure. I wonder who did it?"

***

Ethan Rayne sat back with a sigh of satisfaction. He banished the image of the library from the bowl of water in front of him and began clearing everything away. It had worked perfectly. He had been wandering around Sunnydale a couple of weeks before, spying and generally seeing if he could have anymore fun with Ripper when he had seen the way the Slayer and Ripper looked at each other. He had not been able to resist the temptation and found the spell creating a mental link between people. Keying it to activate when Willow cast the other spell was a stroke of genius if he said so himself, and the hardest part was making the witch think she found the spell herself. Then he sat back and watched the fun. For once he was able to have fun and repay part of his debt to Ripper without him even knowing who was responsible.

< I wonder what else I can do while I'm here? > Ethan thought as he began looking for another fun spell.

END