Title: Mark of the Thorn
Timeline: Four months after the end of Something to Be.
Synopsis: An old acquaintance returns bearing some not so good news.
Notes: Unbeta’d as usual for this series. If you come across any problems, please let me know.
Buffy was writhing on the bed, her fingers twisting in the sheets as she moaned. Giles opened his eyes and looked up at her, his head buried between her thighs as his tongue quickly flicked against her clitoris.
He wanted to take his time, hold her on the precipice of her orgasm for a while before allowing her to come. But, their lives were very different these days…and their two-month-old daughter had a habit of waking up and demanding attention at very inopportune times. And so he continued, pulling her clit into his mouth and sucking hard at the bundle of nerves as he thrust two fingers into her.
Her body trembled violently as she came quickly, flooding his hand with her juices. He groaned and pushed himself up her body, covering her mouth with his to muffle her loud moans. She gripped his shoulders and rolled their bodies until she was straddling his hips, his erection pressed tightly between them as she plundered his mouth with her tongue.
She wanted to slide down his body, kissing every inch of his skin until she reached his cock. But, what she wanted more was to feel him inside of her…and they didn’t have the luxury of doing both these days. She lifted her hips and reached down, guiding his hardened flesh into her wet channel.
They groaned simultaneously as he filled her. His right hand grasped her hip as she lifted his left to her mouth, sucking the sticky fluid from his fingers before dragging her tongue across his palm.
“Christ…Buffy!” He growled as he thrust his hips upwards.
She released his hand and placed hers on his chest for balance as she met each of his thrusts. She knew that it wouldn’t take long for either one of them and she quashed the temptation to draw this out for as long as possible, slamming her hips down onto his.
“Giles! Oh, God…yes…”
He watched her ride him, her heavy breasts bouncing as she slid up and down his length. He ached to lean up and take her nipple into his mouth, but knew from past experiences that she didn’t really enjoy his mouth on her breasts while she was breastfeeding. He pushed past his temptation and made the quick decision to use words to bring her, and him as well, over the edge.
“Fuck me, Buffy…talk to me...make me come.” He whispered in a lust-laden voice.
She opened her eyes with some effort and gazed down at him, her eyes dark with passion. “How do you want me to fuck you, Giles?”
His eyes widened and he gripped her hips tighter as she quickly moved to her next question.
“Do you want me…to fuck you with…my tongue? Shove my tongue…up your ass while you’re jacking off for me?”
“Jesus…” He groaned and bit his lip.
“Or…do you want my fingers inside of you…your cock down my throat…” She scraped a fingernail across his hard nipple. She grinned down at him when she felt his erection thicken within her. “That’s it…come for me…”
He shook his head and, on his next thrust, rolled their bodies so that he was nestled between her thighs. “Not without you…”
His pace quickened, the bed squeaked lightly as he pounded his hips against her. Feeling her inner walls begin to clench around him, he groaned and stared into her eyes.
“Do you…have any idea…God, Buffy…I love you…everything about you…”
Her response was cut off by her scream as her orgasm crashed over her. He cursed softly and covered her mouth with his, swallowing her cries of ecstasy as her spasms pushed him closer to the edge. Her nails raked across the pale scar tissue on his neck and she felt the low rumble in his chest as his body began to tremble violently.
She tore her mouth from his and moved it to his ear, sucking the lobe into her mouth and tugging hard on his earring. “That’s it, Giles…fuck me until you come…”
She scratched across the scar once more and he bit down on her neck, stifling his scream as he came forcefully within her. She answered his orgasm with another smaller one of her own, throwing her head back against the pillows as she bathed his cock with her hot fluid.
His thrusts slowed gradually, his chest heaving as he fought for breath. The muscles in his arms quivered with exertion and he collapsed onto the mattress beside of her. She rolled into his embrace, sliding her leg over his as she nestled against his sweat-drenched chest.
“Wonderful…” He mumbled softly, his hands rubbing soothing circles over her hot skin.
“Mm.” She sighed heavily in response. “I love you.”
He smiled lazily and pressed a kiss onto the top of her head. “Love you too.”
A small whimper was heard through the monitor resting on the bedside table. Giles chuckled softly as Buffy groaned.
“And Princess Haddie’s timing is impeccable…”
Buffy nodded slowly and pushed herself up. She tilted her head slightly, listening to the soft cry. “I was gonna make you go, but…that’s her ‘feed me’ cry.”
He smiled warmly and sat up, brushing her damp hair back from her face. “Can I…watch?”
She arched an eyebrow. “You’re so strange sometimes.”
He blushed lightly. “I don’t find it erotic, Buffy. I…I think it’s beautiful. Watching you nourish our daughter…it’s…I can’t explain it, really. It’s just…a beautiful sight to behold.”
She grinned and leaned forward, pressing a soft kiss to his lips. “Come on then…we’d better go before she wakes the whole house up.”
He smiled brightly and climbed out of bed, grabbing his robe as she slipped into hers.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Amelia Clayton walked into Giles’ office and smiled, finding him staring at a pile of papers…a pen held in his left hand, his head propped up with his right. He looked up wearily when he heard her come in.
“Good morning, Amelia.”
Her smile grew as she sat down in a chair in front of his desk. “You look exhausted.”
“Mm.” He sighed softly and sat up in his chair, running his hand through his hair. “Haddie hasn’t quite grasped the concept of sleeping at night yet.”
Amelia chuckled and crossed her legs. “And how is Buffy coping?”
Giles scoffed lightly. “Fine. Haddie sleeps during the day. With Braden in school and Lucas in daycare, she can sleep as well. The nights, on the other hand, are a completely different matter…especially on nights when Buffy feels the need to patrol.”
He tilted his head and looked into Amelia’s eyes. “Did you have this problem with your daughter?”
Amelia laughed loudly. “I had that problem with all three. Consider yourself lucky that you’ve only dealt with this once.”
“If this was an issue with Braden, he very well may have been an only child.”
She laughed again and shook her head. “She’ll get the hang of it soon. How is she otherwise?”
His tired eyes shone brightly as he smiled. “She’s an absolute angel. She looks more like Buffy every day. I think the only thing she inherited from me is her eyes.”
Amelia smiled affectionately. “Not a bad thing to have inherited. I think that was the first thing I noticed about you.”
Giles blushed lightly. He opened his mouth to respond as the phone rang. He smiled softly and reached for the receiver.
“Mr. Giles, you have a visitor at reception. He has passed through security. Would you like me to send him up?”
“Do you know the nature of the visit?”
that he has information regarding a possible issue in
Giles narrowed his eyes and glanced at Amelia. “Send him up, please.”
The call was disconnected and Amelia looked at him in concern as he hung the phone up. “Rupert?”
straightened his tie. “Apparently I have
a visitor. There could be a problem in
“What kind of problem?” She asked, her concern evident in her voice.
“I’m not sure. Hopefully, this visitor will be able to clarify that for me.” He looked up as a young man was ushered into his office, his eyes widening as the young man smiled at him…his eyes glowing an eerie orange.
Amelia gasped as the demon closed the door behind him. Giles stood slowly and stared at the young man.
The man nodded, his smile growing as he stepped forward. Amelia stood quickly, backing around Giles’ desk. Novak cast her a quick glance and sighed softly.
Giles placed his hand on Amelia’s shoulder and smiled softly as she looked at him. He tilted his head towards Novak. “It’s alright, he’s a Cortosan Cirjan. We’ve met before.”
“A few years ago now.” Novak added quietly.
“Yes, it has been a while.” He moved around his desk and stood in front of the demon, extending his hand towards Novak. “How have you been?”
Novak shook Giles’ hand and shrugged his shoulder. “Well, I suppose. I returned to this dimension two years ago. I…went to the town where we met before, but…it no longer exists.”
exhaled slowly. “
“I’m glad you survived.”
Giles smiled warmly. “As am I. We moved here shortly afterwards.”
“Your wife and child survived as well, then?”
“Yes, thankfully. We now have three children.”
Novak grinned and bowed his head slightly. “Congratulations to you.” When Giles smiled in response, Novak looked around the office. “And now you’re in charge of the Council?”
“Ah, no. I assisted in the reformation.” He gestured towards Amelia. “This is Amelia Clayton, she is the Head of Council.”
Novak darted his eyes between the two. “You were lovers at one time? Not in a very long while, but at one time, yes?”
Giles coughed lightly. Amelia blushed heavily. Novak smiled.
“I apologize, I didn’t mean to make either of you uncomfortable with my question. It’s just…” He gestured towards them, his hand aimed above their heads. “Your auras are slightly tangled together.”
Giles cleared his throat. “It was a very long time ago.”
Novak nodded and smiled at Amelia. “It is very nice to meet you, Mrs. Clayton.”
Amelia returned his smile. “And you as well, Novak.”
Novak turned his eyes back to Giles and sighed. “My visit is not entirely social, I’m afraid.”
gestured towards one of the chairs as he sat down on the corner of his
desk. “Yes, I was told that you have
some information concerning a possible issue in
Novak sat down and nodded sadly. “Yes. Concerning your vampire friend, Angel.”
Giles’ eyes widened slightly. “He, uh…he’s not actually…well, we haven’t spoken with Angel for some time now.”
“You are aware that he was successfully initiated into the Circle of the Black Thorn?”
“Yes.” Giles crossed his arms and glanced at Amelia before turning his eyes back to Novak. “We were under the impression that it was merely a ruse in order for Angel to infiltrate the Order.”
“And so it
was.” Novak agreed softly. “However, things are changing in
Giles stared at the demon. “Angelus has returned?”
“No. Well…not yet, at any rate. But the situation is progressing quickly.”
“Situation?” Giles prompted warily.
Partners of Wolfram & Hart have plans for Angel. They have for many years, hence the offer of
Giles moved from his desk and ran his hand through his hair. “Tell me what you know.”
Buffy made her way through the Council halls, Haddie in her arms, Braden to her left side, and Lucas to her right. Braden shifted his back from his right shoulder to his left.
“Miss Parker asked what my parents did for a job.”
Buffy smiled and looked down at him, turning into the hallway that led to her husband’s office. “Yeah?”
Braden nodded. “She asked all of us what our parents do.”
“And what did you say?”
“Daddy reads a lot of books for work.” He looked up at her and narrowed his eyes. “Is that right?”
Buffy nodded as she reached down to run her fingers through his thick brown hair. “That’s part of what he does.”
“What do you do?”
“Saves the werl.” Lucas replied nonchalantly.
Buffy quickly looked at her younger son. “Where did you hear that?”
Lucas looked up at her as he chewed a grape. “Yan.”
Buffy narrowed her eyes. “Anya told you that?”
her head in annoyance and glanced at the elevator as the doors opened. She smiled as
“Hey, Buff.” Xander smiled brightly.
“Hey, Xand.” She shot Anya an annoyed look. “You and I need to talk.”
Anya smiled, seemingly oblivious to Buffy’s demeanor. “Okay. But…right now we have a meeting with Giles, so it’ll have to wait.”
As soon as he saw Oz, Lucas ran to him and wrapped his arms around his leg. Oz grinned and reached down to pick the boy up. They chatted quietly to one another as they walked the short distance to Giles’ office. Braden walked beside of Anya, laughing at a joke she had told him.
Xander held back and looked at Buffy. “What’s wrong?”
Buffy shifted Haddie in her arms and sighed heavily, lowering her voice to a whisper. “Anya apparently told Lucas that I save the world.”
Xander’s eyes widened. “Oh, uh…before you go all ballistic on her…that’s kinda my fault.”
Buffy stared at him incredulously. “What?”
Xander held up his hand in a request for her to listen. “Hold on…it’s not like we just said ‘hey Lucas, guess what your mom does’…Anya and I were talking…to each other. I said something about you should take some time off…you know, just so you could spend some quality time with Giles and the kids…and Anya said that it’s hard to take time off when you keep having to save the world.”
“You had this conversation in front of Lucas?”
Xander shook his head quickly. “No…well, yeah, I guess we did. But…we didn’t think he was paying attention to us. He was looking at a book…”
Buffy sighed heavily. “You know he’s like his father, Xander. He can be looking at a book…or playing…or whatever…but, his ears are always open and listening to everything.”
Xander ducked his head slightly. “I’m sorry. We didn’t mean anything by it…”
“I know. We’ll deal with it later.” She handed Haddie to him when he silently reached for her. “So, what’s up with the sudden Scooby meeting?”
They quickly caught up with the others at Giles’ office door and Xander shrugged his shoulders. “Have no idea…you didn’t know about it?”
“No, but…he knew I’d be coming by after I picked Ru up from school anyway.”
Braden looked up at his mother and grinned as he pointed towards the door. Buffy smiled and gave him a nod, silent permission for him to open the door.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Giles looked up as his door opened. He smiled as his two sons ran into the office and made a bee-line for him.
“Daddy!” Both boys cried out in unison as Giles walked around the table and knelt on the floor.
Novak raised an eyebrow, confusion in his eyes at the show of affection. He turned his head towards the door as five other people entered the room, one of the young men carrying a baby.
He regarded each of the newcomers carefully, smiling when his eyes landed on Buffy. He turned back to Giles and the two boys, his smile growing as he listened to the older boy excitedly tell his father about his day at school while the younger boy sat on Giles’ knee, playfully tugging at the golden hoop in his father’s ear.
Suddenly the younger boy looked up at Novak and tilted his head. “Arng eyes! I like arng.”
Everyone turned to look at Novak, who was staring curiously at the boy. Giles cleared his throat and smiled at the demon.
Buffy narrowed her eyes. “Uh, Giles?”
“Hm?” He placed Lucas on the floor and gently pushed him towards the toy box in the corner as he met Buffy’s eyes.
She gestured towards Novak with a tilt of her head. “What’s going on?”
Novak stood and gently bowed his head. “Hello, Mrs. Giles. I am Novak.”
Buffy thought for a moment and then her eyes widened. “Oh. Wait, I remember this…” She turned towards her husband. “The guy you met on patrol with Angel one night…”
Giles smiled, gently plucking his daughter from Xander’s arms. “Hello, gorgeous.”
Haddie smiled and snuggled against Giles’ chest. He bent his head and placed a soft kiss on the golden curls covering her head.
Novak took another look at everyone in the room. “Interesting.”
At the softly stated word, Giles looked up from his daughter. “I’m sorry?”
Novak gestured around the room. “The auras are…interesting.”
Buffy moved to Giles’ side and met Novak’s eyes. “What do you mean?”
Novak smiled warmly. “The two of you…your auras are different, but complimentary. Twisted together tightly. Unbreakable. Your children’s auras are an interesting amalgamation of your complimentary colors.” He glanced at Braden and smiled. “His is extremely bright, his destiny will be fulfilled one day.”
Oz arched an eyebrow, but said nothing as the demon continued.
“The younger boy…” Novak looked into Giles’ eyes. “His is nearly identical to yours. And the girl’s is warm. Like…compassion.”
He turned around and stared at Anya. “Yours is broken.”
Anya crossed her arms and glared at him. “Well, that was just rude.”
Giles chuckled. Anya turned her glare onto him. “Well, it was. And…it’s rude for you to be laughing about it!”
Novak shook his head quickly. “No, what I mean is…it’s not consistent.”
Xander grinned. “That’s my Anya…inconsistent girl.”
Giles cleared his throat and stepped in to help Novak. “What I believe he is sensing is the fact that you were once demon, then human, then demon once more. It’s inconsistent.”
“Oh.” Anya replied softly. “Well, okay then.”
Xander put his arm around Anya and smiled. “What’s mine say?”
“You’re a passionate man.”
Anya grinned broadly. “I can vouch for that!”
Not really knowing how to reply to that, Novak looked at Oz. “Loyal. Fiercely loyal. Almost…” He took a step back as his eyes widened in fear. “Lycan.”
Giles stepped forward quickly, cradling his daughter in his right arm, and placed his left hand on Novak’s shoulder. “I’m sorry, I should have prepared you. Oz is in complete control of the wolf. He will do no harm to you, Novak.”
Novak read the truth in Giles’ eyes and, with a hard swallow, nodded. Giles explained the fact that Lycans had hunted Cirjans in earlier times and that Lycans were still a problem in the Cortosa Dimension.
Oz nodded sympathetically and smiled at Novak. “I’m not your typical Lycan.”
shyly and then looked at
* * *
excitement of the unintended announcement of
Haddie squirmed in his arms and yawned, closing her eyes. Giles shook his head slowly, amusement showing in his eyes.
“Now you sleep.”
Buffy smiled and leaned back in her chair. “Okay, Giles…what’s with the Scooby meeting?”
Novak narrowed his eyes in confusion. “Scooby?”
“Oh.” Novak nodded uncertainly.
Giles cleared his throat and took a deep breath. “There’s a problem with Angel.”
“They stop making the hair gel he prefers?” Xander asked jokingly.
Giles stared at him and then looked at Buffy. “His soul has been compromised.”
Buffy paled and licked her suddenly dry lips. “Angelus?”
The room was silent, everyone anxiously awaiting Giles’ explanation. Giles shook his head and handed Haddie to Amelia.
“What’s going on?” Buffy whispered softly.
“When Angel was initiated into the Circle of the Black Thorn, he was presented with the Mark.” Giles glanced at the others as he continued. “The Mark is…well, it’s somewhat of an invisible brand, if you will.”
“And this invisible brand causes him to lose his soul?” Anya asked quietly.
“Well, that would be a gross over-simplification, but…yes. That would be the end result.”
Giles swallowed and leaned forward, folding his hands on the table. “Even though Angel accepted the Mark with the intentions of destroying the Order, the Mark itself is a symbol of evil. And…it is slowly corroding his soul.”
Silence hung in the air as everyone took in Giles’ words. Buffy inhaled deeply and met her husband’s eyes.
“So…we get rid of the Mark and he gets better?”
covered her hand with his and spoke softly.
“It isn’t that easy, Buffy. From
the reports that Novak has given me, Angel’s soul is…breaking. The Mark must be removed magically.” He glanced at
magic…I can do magic.”
“This requires dark magic. I cannot allow you to participate in this, especially considering the fact that you’re expecting.”
Buffy’s eyes glistened. “That means…you?”
Giles nodded slowly. “As well as Ethan and…” He turned his eyes to Anya. “You…if you’d be so inclined to offer your assistance.”
Anya gave him a nod after a moment’s thought. Giles smiled softly in appreciation.
“Okay, so what’s the plan then?” Buffy asked hesitantly. “We get him to come over here and…”
“No.” Giles exhaled deeply. “His soul is not entirely corrupt, but it has been damaged enough at this point that we can’t rely on him actually coming.”
“So, we go
“Buffy…you can’t go.” He looked over at the sofa and sighed. “The children…you need to stay with the children.”
began to protest,
Oz smiled in understanding when Giles hesitated in agreeing. “We could come with you. We can book a few rooms, under an assumed name, and stay in the hotel with the kids. I know neither one of you want to be away from them…but, it would be too difficult if both of you were away. Especially with Haddie being so young.”
Giles thought for a few long moments before looking at Amelia. “We’ll need to borrow the jet.”
Amelia nodded and gave him a small smile. “It’s yours.”
“If you two don’t stop bickering, I’m going to throw both of you out of here.” Giles growled.
Anya crossed her arms and huffed as Xander flushed lightly. “Sorry, Giles.”
“Thirty bloody minutes into the flight…” Giles grumbled under his breath.
Buffy chuckled softly and placed her hand on his thigh. “As least the kids are asleep.”
He nodded in agreement. “I must say that I’m more surprised that Haddie is asleep than I am over Braden or Lucas.”
She smiled and leaned her head against his shoulder. “I know it’s been kinda rough for you…but, she’ll get settled into a night time sleeping routine soon. Maybe with the time difference, this will help her adjust.”
Giles smiled and covered her hand with his. “One can hope.”
She was quiet for a few minutes and then looked up at him, lowering her voice to a whisper. “Giles…what if he’s too far gone?”
He squeezed her hand gently and sighed. “Come with me.”
She narrowed her eyes in confusion as he stood and tugged on her hand. “Where are we going?”
“To talk. Come on.”
stood, he let go of her hand and knelt next to
He nodded his thanks and stood, taking Buffy’s hand and leading her to the small room in the back of the plane. As they passed Anya and Xander, Anya grinned up at them.
“Off to join the mile-high club?”
Giles rolled his eyes, pausing his forward motion. “Already a member, thank you.”
Xander’s mouth dropped open in shock. Anya smiled brightly, obviously pleasantly surprised. Giles resumed the walk to the room without another word spoken. He quickly ushered Buffy inside and closed the door behind them.
He looked down at her to find her smiling up at him. “What?”
She chuckled and sat down on the small sofa. “I can’t believe you said that to her. It was so…un-Giles-like.”
He shrugged and sat down beside of her. “Sometimes I find it annoying that she assumes we’re always having sex. Besides, I didn’t lie to her.”
lightly, remembering the plane ride from the States to
He cleared his throat softly and turned his body towards her. “To answer your earlier question…” He exhaled slowly. “If his soul is too corrupted to repair…he will need to be, uh…well…”
“Slain?” Buffy asked in a sad whisper.
“Yes.” He lifted his hand and ran his fingers through her hair. “I wouldn’t ask you to – ”
“Vampire Slayer, Buffy the…or a now. Anyway, it’s what I do.”
Giles nodded in agreement. “And normally, I would stand back and let you. But…this is Angel. This is…different.”
She shook her head sadly. “No. If he’s too far gone, it isn’t Angel. It’s Angelus. And…I won’t let him go again. Not after everything he put us…you…through. I’ll take care of it.”
She stopped his protest with a gentle whisper. “Just kiss me, Giles.”
He looked into her eyes and leaned forward, capturing her lips with his.
* * *
over at Novak, who was sitting alone, and gently patted
“I’m going to talk to Novak for a minute.”
“You gonna ask him what we’re having?”
Oz smiled cryptically and stood up, kissing her cheek as he did so. “I’ll be back in a few minutes.”
Novak looked up in surprise when Oz sat down next to him. Oz smiled softly at the demon.
Novak gave him a nervous nod. Oz sighed.
“I promise, I’m in complete control of the wolf. And, even if I weren’t…it’s still a couple of weeks until the next full moon.”
“What can I do for you?” Novak replied quietly.
Oz tilted his head in thought as he collected his words. “You mentioned Braden’s destiny.”
Novak smiled. “Yes, he’s – ”
Oz shook his head quickly and Novak quietened. “I know about his destiny. The problem is…only one other person does.” He gestured towards Ethan. “Him.”
Novak narrowed his eyes. “Why only the two of you?”
Oz took a deep breath and quietly explained everything to Novak. When he was finished, he looked into the demon’s orange eyes.
“With everything going on, I’m not sure Buffy and Giles picked up on the comment you gave about his destiny. But, I’m worried that she may question you about it later. It’s very important that they not know. For Braden’s sake.”
Novak nodded slowly, understanding Oz’s concern. “I will not divulge this secret to anyone, I assure you.”
When Oz smiled, Novak leaned closer to him. “Would you like to know the gender of your unborn child now?”
Novak smiled and whispered one sentence. “Your wife is carrying your daughter.”
* * *
The kiss had gotten out of hand within a matter of minutes. What had started out as a loving kiss of reassurance was now a kiss of unbridled passion. Buffy had rearranged their bodies, pushing his back against the cushions and quickly straddling his thighs. Their tongues fought for control of the kiss, neither yielding to the other.
He groaned softly as she pressed her heated core against his erection. His hands moved from her hips to cup her ass as she slowly moved against him. The plane hit a small pocket of turbulence causing her to bounce on his lap. They tore from the kiss and groaned simultaneously.
She rested her forehead against his, breathing heavily. “God, Giles…”
He swallowed hard and moved his left hand to her back, caressing her gently. “We should stop.”
“Mm…” Her fingers ran through his hair. “Don’t wanna.”
“Nor do I.” He murmured as she lightly fingered his earring.
“So…let’s not.” She smiled as he pulled back and looked into her eyes. “They think we’re doing this anyway…”
He chuckled and slid his hands under her shirt, slowly pushing it up. “Buffy-logic…”
Her eyes sparkled as she lifted her arms, allowing him to remove her top. “You love my logic.”
“I love…you.” He whispered as she began working on his shirt. “Your logic included.”
With his shirt quickly unbuttoned, she moved from his lap and knelt between his legs. She looked into his eyes as she unbuckled his belt and unfastened his jeans.
“I love you too.”
He lifted his hips as she tugged his jeans and boxers down. He whispered her name, his voice thick with desire, when her hand curled around his erection and she placed a warm kiss on the glans.
“It feels like it’s been forever since I’ve tasted you, Giles.”
His eyes darkened and glazed. “We, uh…haven’t really had time…”
She shook her head slowly, disagreeing with him. “We’ve had time…just not for everything. And, I’ve been a little greedy in the wanting you inside of me thing.”
His eyes closed halfway as she dragged her tongue along the underside of his cock. “I…don’t remember complaining…”
She smiled, rubbing her thumb through the wet path her tongue left. “No, you haven’t. But…I am.”
Any response he was going to give was lost in a strangled groan as she quickly took him into her mouth. He combed the fingers of his left hand through her hair as he watched her. He found the sight of her mesmerizing. Kneeling between his thighs, wearing only her jeans and bra, her cheeks hollowed as she sucked his hardened flesh.
Sensing his gaze on her, she raised her eyes to meet his. He gasped at the intensity in her eyes and tightened his fingers in her hair, involuntarily thrusting his hips against her.
“Sorry…” He mumbled softly and focused on keeping still.
She shook her head slightly, her eyes shining brightly at him as she continued to slide her mouth along his erection. He regarded her closely and licked his lips.
“You…want me to?”
She hummed against his flesh, her affirmative smile showing in her eyes. He shrugged his shirt off and smiled as she gave his chest an appreciative gaze. He moved his right hand along her collarbone, edging the strap of her bra off her shoulder.
“Take it off.” He demanded in a husky voice.
“Mzzy.” She mumbled around his cock.
He shook his head and inhaled deeply. “Not too busy to take it off for me…”
She sighed heavily and eased her head back, allowing his erection to slip out of her mouth. She smiled and reached behind her back, quickly unclasping her bra and letting it drop to the floor. His fingers gently brushed over her hard nipple causing her to shudder.
He looked into her eyes and smiled. “I love you so much, Buffy.”
Her fingers curled around the hard shaft of his cock. “I love you too.”
As she leaned forward, her intention of taking him back into her mouth obvious, he stopped her with a soft ‘wait’. She looked up at him expectantly and he gestured to the couch.
“Come up here.”
Her eyes held a curious expression, but she released his erection and stood in front of him. “How are you wanting this?”
He quickly removed the rest of his clothing and pulled her down beside of him, carefully pushing her back until she was lying underneath him. His fingers pulled the button on her jeans free and, as he slid the zipper down, he smiled.
“Remember what you were saying about you being greedy?”
She nodded, lifting her hips as he tugged her jeans and underwear down her legs. He dropped the clothing onto the floor and knelt between her open thighs, rubbing his cock through her wet folds.
“I’m feeling somewhat greedy myself.” He whispered as he leaned down and flicked his tongue against her lips.
“But…” She protested softly, her arching hips contradicting her protest. “I…want…”
He smiled softly and nodded, pushing himself up. He gently pulled her up until she was sitting beside of him as he settled back into the cushions.
He ran his fingertips down the side of her face. “You want to taste me, yes?” He smiled again as she nodded. “I want to be inside of you. It doesn’t necessarily have to be my cock inside of you…I just want to feel you come.”
She shivered lightly as he trailed his fingers over her breasts and down her torso. He licked his lips and took a deep breath.
“If you’re on your knees, leaning over me…I can reach you while…”
She grinned in understanding and quickly moved to her knees and leaned over his straining erection. She looked up at him as her tongue darted out to caress the swollen head.
“So, the plan is…your fingers inside of me while I’m sucking?”
He nodded slowly, his eyes darkening even more. “Yes.”
She moved her mouth to the shaft, using her lips to nip along the flesh. “Will you come in my mouth?”
“Yes…” He whispered breathlessly.
“Touch me, Giles…” She pled as she licked across the frenum. “Make me come with your fingers.”
He groaned and easily slipped two fingers into her slick channel. She moaned softly and lowered her mouth onto his cock. He bit his lip to stifle his groans, thrusting his fingers in perfect rhythm with her mouth sliding over his flesh. His free hand slipped into her hair, gently guiding her at the pace he wanted.
He turned his hand slightly so that he could press his thumb against her clit. Her moan vibrated against his sensitive skin. He inhaled sharply and thrust his hips upwards.
“God, Buffy…close…too close…” He panted softly, thrusting harder with his fingers as he urged her to come with him.
She mumbled incoherently and increased her suction, pushing her hips back against his hand. His fingers tightened in her hair and he pushed a third finger into her. Her inner muscles began to quiver almost immediately and she tilted her head slightly, allowing his cock to slip into her throat.
“Christ!” He hissed, mindful to keep his voice low. “Buffy…”
She felt his erection thicken and heard his breathing change, both telltale signs of him nearing orgasm. She timed her move perfectly, pulling back until only the head was held between her lips as he gave a low growl and came forcefully.
The taste of his come in her mouth sent her over the edge. She gave a muffled moan, her own fluids flooding his hand as she swallowed his hungrily. He came again, not nearly as violent as his first orgasm, as his hand slipped from between her thighs.
He licked his hand clean of her fluid as she busied herself with the enjoyable task of bathing his softening flesh with her tongue. His chest heaved as she allowed his cock to slip from her lips. She leaned up and kissed him deeply, letting him suck the remnants of his semen from her tongue.
He ended the kiss slowly and sighed. His hands caressed her heated skin lovingly as he whispered to her. “We should get dressed.”
“Yeah…” She agreed softly, not making any effort to move from his embrace.
He tenderly tucked a strand of hair behind her ear and smiled.
* * *
Twenty minutes after he had stated they needed to get dressed, they made their way back to their seats. Giles heaved a sigh of relief to find Xander and Anya both sound asleep. After checking on their children, and finding all three of them sound asleep, he sat down and closed his eyes as Buffy snuggled against him.
missed the knowing grin shared between
Buffy collapsed on the bed, yawning widely as Giles smiled at her. “Tired, darling?”
“Mm-hm. Transatlantic flights aren’t fun…then cross country…I’m exhausted.”
sympathetically. “Why don’t you get some
rest. I need to talk to Ethan and
Anya. I’ll drop Braden and Lucas off at
“Haddie?” She asked sleepily.
“I’ll take her with me.” When Buffy raised an eyebrow at him, he chuckled softly. “It’s not as if we’re going to a bar, Buffy. I thought we’d have our discussion over coffee at that café just down the road.”
She smiled back at him and glanced at the clock. “Might want to take a bottle with you.”
“Along with nappies, a change of clothes…this isn’t my first go with a baby, Buffy.” He replied, a hint of amusement in his voice.
“I know.” She rolled her eyes and beckoned him with a small wave of her hand. “Come here and give me a kiss.”
His eyes twinkled as he placed one knee on the bed and leaned over her. “Such a hardship, that.”
She sighed softly as his lips brushed across hers. “More?”
He shook his head slowly, a grin on his face. “You know exactly where that will lead. And…there are two boys running around this suite who could barge in at any moment.”
No sooner had the words left his lips, Braden ran into the room with Lucas hot on his heels. Giles winked at his wife.
“Sometimes I really hate it when you’re right.” She mumbled as both boys jumped onto the bed.
Lucas crawled up beside of Buffy and laid down. “Mummy’s tired.”
Buffy chuckled and kissed her son’s forehead. “Mummy’s very tired.”
Lucas yawned and snuggled closer to her. “Me too. Bay’s not.”
Braden shook his head quickly. “Nope, I’m not tired.” He looked up at Giles and smiled brightly. “Haddie’s still asleep.”
his fingers through Braden’s hair and returned his smile. “Would you like to go to Oz and
“Yeah! Oz said he’s gonna teach me how to play guitar like you and him.”
Giles laughed softly. “Alright. Go get your things ready.”
Braden jumped off the bed and looked at his younger brother. “You coming, Luke?”
Lucas shook his head. “I stay with Mummy.”
Braden looked disappointed, but shrugged his shoulders and ran out of the room. Giles sat down on the edge of the bed and gently stroked the side of Lucas’ face.
“You’re going to stay here and take a nap with Mummy?”
Giles leaned down and kissed his son’s head. “Alright. Have a nice nap.”
Lucas smiled sleepily and closed his eyes. “Night.”
Giles smirked and met Buffy’s eyes. “I shan’t be very long.”
“Be careful.” She whispered softly.
“I will. I love you.”
She reached up and ran her fingertip over his bottom lip. “I love you too.”
He fought the urge to take her fingertip into his mouth. Braden ran back into the room, his backpack slung over his shoulder.
“I’m ready, Daddy.” He said brightly.
Giles cleared his throat and nodded, turning toward the boy. “Alright. Let’s go get your sister dressed and ready to go.”
Braden nodded quickly and ran back out into the main room. Giles turned his eyes back to his wife.
“Sleep well, love.” He whispered, his voice thick with sudden desire.
She glanced down at Lucas, already snoring softly beside of her, and then gave Giles a soft smile. “Tonight.”
He inhaled deeply at the promise that one word held. Hearing his son’s voice calling from the other room, alerting him to the fact that his daughter was now awake, he swallowed and stood up.
She smiled, closing her eyes, as he quietly left the room.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
They sat around a small table, three cups of coffee and a bottle resting on the surface. Haddie was sitting on Giles’ right thigh, reclined against his abdomen as his arm wrapped protectively around her stomach. Ethan winked at her and she smiled as her tiny fingers curled around the button on her father’s shirt cuff.
Giles lifted his cup of coffee, shaking his head in answer to Anya’s question. “No, it wouldn’t be wise to just have him slain.”
“Well, if he’s evil and all…”
“We don’t know that he’s evil, Anya.” Giles replied softly before taking a sip. “Angel has been a great asset in the past.”
“Not so much lately.” At Ethan’s look, she shrugged. “Well, he hasn’t…not to us, anyway. How long has it been since any of us have actually seen him?”
Giles lightly bounced his daughter in time to the music playing over the speakers in the small café. Ethan smiled, sure that Giles didn’t even realize he was doing it.
“Point taken.” Giles said in response to Anya’s statement. “But, the answer is still the same. Slaying Angel is the last resort for this issue.”
Ethan leaned forward and took a deep breath. “So, the vampire stays alive…or undead, as it were…until we are able to determine whether or not his soul can be repaired. Fair enough. How do we go about repairing this souled demon?”
Haddie whimpered lightly and Giles glanced down, smiling at her as he reached for her bottle. He shifted her small body as she took the nipple into her mouth and ate hungrily. When she wrapped her fingers around Giles’ pinky, he bent his head and kissed her forehead.
“That’s my girl.” He whispered softly.
He looked up to find his two companions smiling brightly at him. He cleared his throat and attempted to answer Ethan’s question.
“The Mark of the Thorn needs to be removed. From what I’ve ascertained from my research, the thorns embed themselves in the soul and essentially feed off the bearer’s humanity. The longer the Mark remains, the more humanity it devours.”
He paused for a moment, closely regarding Ethan before continuing. “The only way to remove the Mark is through Poxilium.”
Ethan swore softly, pushing his cup of coffee away. “You’re not being serious.”
“Unfortunately, I’m very serious.”
“If I’d known that, I wouldn’t have come.” Ethan shook his head. “You know that it would be easier to let him die than to perform this ritual.”
“Yes.” Giles glanced at Anya and then looked back at Ethan. “We both are fully aware of that fact.”
Ethan stared at him in disbelief. “And yet, you want to save this vampire.”
“Angel has done a lot of good in the past.”
“And this has nothing to do with Buffy?” Anya asked as she raised an eyebrow.
“Buffy is prepared to Slay him…if need be. I’m hoping it doesn’t come to that.” Giles answered in a cool tone.
“And you’re prepared to perform dark magicks in order to save him?” Ethan shook his head and sat back in his chair. “I just don’t understand. You know how dangerous this is.”
“Yes. I also know that I can’t do it on my own. If you’re choosing to not assist me, then you should tell me now. And…go home.”
“That’s not what I’m saying, Rupert.” Ethan sighed heavily. “He’s not just going to sit there and let us do this. You know that. He’s going to fight it every step of the way.”
“Angel still has a prophecy to fulfill. If he loses his soul now, everything he has worked for would be for naught. This isn’t something to keep my wife’s ex-boyfriend in existence. If his soul is lost, it would be extremely detrimental to the world.”
“So…save Angel, save the world?” Ethan asked in an exasperated tone.
Giles exhaled slowly and looked down at his now-sleeping daughter. “That about sums it up.”
“When do you want to do it?”
Giles looked up, hearing the resigned tone of Ethan’s voice. “Buffy and I are going to see him tomorrow. Hopefully, we’ll be able to find out how compromised he is at the moment.”
“Okay.” Ethan narrowed his eyes slightly. “You know I’m not exactly happy about this, yeah?”
“As long as we’re in understanding about that fact.” Ethan looked down at Haddie and sighed. “Anya and I will get the necessary supplies ready tomorrow while you’re visiting Angel.”
“Thank you.” Giles whispered softly, looking down at Haddie when she squirmed in his arms. “I, uh…I should get back. I’ll call you when we get back to our room…we’ll brief you on his condition and decide on which further steps we need to take.”
Ethan nodded in agreement as Giles stood. “Just…for God’s sake, be careful.”
Giles smiled softly. “We will. Goodnight, Ethan…Anya.”
Anya gave him a smile and a wave. Her smile faded as Giles walked out of sight and she met Ethan’s eyes.
“I know this is dangerous…dark magicks always are. But…he hasn’t exactly told me what the Poxilium consists of…”
“Didn’t think so.” He tilted his head towards the bar across the street. “Come have a beer with me and I’ll explain everything to you.”
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Four hours after Giles had returned to the suite, all three children were sleeping soundly in their beds. Four and a half hours after he had returned, he was holding Buffy’s nude body in his arms as she kissed him deeply.
His hand gently squeezed her hip as she broke the kiss and looked into his eyes. “You’re tense.”
He nodded in agreement. “It’s a tense time.”
She moved off of him and knelt at his side. “Roll over.” When he merely stared at her, she nudged him. “Go on, roll over. I can’t make love to you when you’re all stiff.”
A small grin played at his lips and she rolled her eyes. “You know what I mean, Giles. Roll over.”
He chuckled softly and complied with her softly-spoken order, carefully positioning his body so there wasn’t too much pressure placed on his semi-hard cock. She straddled his hips and placed her warm hands on his back, instantly feeling the knots under his skin.
“I’m surprised you can even move…” She stated as she started kneading the muscles.
He groaned softly as her hands worked their magic. “You know how this is going to end up.”
“Mm-hm.” She smiled as she pressed her hands along his spine, the pops and crackles sounding loud in the room. “With you either asleep or…very horny. What do you think it’ll be this time?”
He inhaled deeply as she slid backwards, resting on the backs of his thighs and placing her hands on his lower back. “I think it’s safe to assume that I’m not exactly feeling sleepy.”
She leaned forward and kissed his back softly before dragging her tongue along his spine. He hissed as her hand moved lower and kneaded his ass. He felt her smile against his skin before she lifted her head and whispered to him.
“I think you know what I want…”
He groaned as she placed a series of warm, wet open-mouthed kisses across his lower back before gently nipping the firm flesh of his ass cheek with her teeth. His hips jerked, pushing his now fully erect cock against the mattress beneath him.
She grinned and blew a puff of warm air over his flesh. “I think you want it too.”
His left hand gripped the sheet tightly as he groaned into the pillow. “Yes…”
“Tell me, Giles…” She whispered huskily as both hands rubbed his firm flesh.
“Christ, Buffy…” He moaned as her thumbs dipped into the crevice between his cheeks.
“Tell me.” She repeated, gently scraping her thumbnail across the puckered opening.
His hips jerked again, a light sheen of sweat coating his back as he growled softly. “Fuck me.”
She smiled and reached for the bottle of oil she had placed on the bedside table earlier, carefully hidden behind the lamp.
When he felt the oil drizzle between his buttocks, he gasped and twisted his fingers in the sheet. When he felt her finger slide through the oil and nudge the puckered orifice, he groaned and shuddered.
She looked up as he turned his head and looked at her over his shoulder. His heart pounded in his chest as he took in the sight of her straddling his left thigh, a loving smile on her lips. He could feel her warmth as she gently ground her core against the back of his thigh.
Her finger nudged him again, her voice soft as she spoke. “I thought you wanted this.”
He swallowed and gave her a quick nod, his eyes nearly black with lust. “I do. God, I do.”
“I’m too…” He licked his dry lips, his chest heaving as he panted. “I’m going to come.”
She rocked her hips lightly, rubbing her wetness across his skin. “So am I. You can feel that, right?”
He nodded slowly, carefully turning his body onto his side, biting his lip as she shifted and gave him the room he needed to move. She tried to hide the disappointment on her face as she knelt on the bed.
His slightly trembling hand took hold of her wrist and gently tugged. “Come here, Buffy.”
She allowed him to pull her up towards him and she lay down beside of him, facing him. He smiled softly as his fingers lovingly caressed the side of her face.
“I want to make love with you.” He whispered. “I want to move inside of you…slowly. I want to kiss you and feel your nails scratch my back. And…I want to be able to look into your eyes as I come inside of you.”
She inhaled sharply at his words, feeling her skin flush with desire. “Giles…”
He gently rolled her onto her back and leaned over her, his lips hovering millimetres above hers as he gazed into her eyes. “Please…allow me to make love with you.”
She lifted her hand to his cheek and smiled. “You and your words…”
He smiled softly and descended towards her lips. A whimper was heard through the monitor resting on the bedside table. He dropped his head to her shoulder and sighed heavily.
“No…not now…” He turned his eyes to the monitor, his voice pleading. “Please, Haddie…go back to sleep, sweetheart…please…”
Buffy rubbed his back soothingly as Haddie’s whimper began to morph into a full-fledged cry. “I’m sorry, Giles. I’m so sorry.”
He fell to the mattress, rolling onto his back and exhaled deeply. “There’s nothing to apologize for, love. Shall I go?”
She patted his chest and shook her head. “I’ll go…hopefully, it won’t take long.”
He nodded as she climbed out of bed and grabbed her robe. Buffy quickly left the room and made her way to their daughter. He smiled as he listened to his wife whisper softly to Haddie. As his erection began to subside, he closed his eyes and focused on Buffy’s voice…and Haddie’s soft coos.
It wasn’t long before the exhaustion of the long trip claimed him.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Giles woke to a slight heaviness on his back, a small hand patting his shoulder. “Wake up, Daddy!”
He opened his eyes and took a deep breath. “Good morning, Lucas.”
Lucas giggled brightly. “You awake!”
Giles chuckled softly. “Where’s your brother?”
He carefully rolled onto his back when Lucas moved to his side. He narrowed his eyes, confused by the fact that he was wearing pajama pants. He didn’t remember putting them on. In fact, he didn’t remember Buffy returning to bed.
“And what is Mummy doing?”
“Pancakes!” Lucas replied happily.
Giles smiled and reached up, brushing the boy’s hair with his fingertips. “Wouldn’t you prefer eggs?”
Lucas shook his head quickly. “I like pancakes.”
“Yes, I know.” He sat up and leaned against the headboard. “And your sister?”
“Addie’s awake.” Lucas looked down at Giles’ side and touched a pale line of skin. “What’s that?”
Giles looked down and sighed. “A scar. That happens when you get hurt and the body heals itself.”
“Oh.” Lucas looked up quickly and pointed to his father’s neck. “Like that?”
Giles nodded slowly. “Injuries happen from time to time, son.”
“Mummy has a car like that.” His green eyes still focused on Giles’ neck.
“Yes, she does.”
Lucas met his father’s eyes and tilted his head thoughtfully. “Hurt?”
Giles smiled warmly and leaned forward, kissing Lucas’ cheek. “Better now.”
Lucas grinned and wrapped his arms around Giles’ neck. “Want pancakes?”
Giles chuckled and hugged his son tightly. “Pancakes sound wonderful.”
* * *
Lucas ran through the suite towards the small kitchen area. Giles smiled as he followed him, looking down at the blanket on the floor where his daughter was lying on her back and kicking happily. He bent down and picked her up, giving her a soft kiss.
“Good morning, Haddie.”
Haddie smiled and cooed softly. Braden turned around from helping Buffy and grinned broadly.
Giles walked into the kitchen and knelt in front of the boy, wrapping his free arm around him and pulling him into a close hug before kissing his temple.
“Good morning, Braden. Did you sleep well?”
“Yeah. Luke was snoring though.”
Buffy turned around, a grin on her face as she placed a plate of pancakes on the table. “So was your father.”
Braden laughed as Giles smiled, leaning down to kiss Buffy’s lips. “I’m sorry about that.”
Buffy caressed his cheek and gave him a wink. “Make it up to me later.”
Giles cleared his throat and sat down at the table, Haddie on his thigh and Lucas sitting in the chair next to him. His eyes wandered over his family and his heart swelled with love. Buffy tilted her head and regarded him closely as the boys began to devour their pancakes.
“You okay, Giles?”
“Hm?” He met her eyes and smiled. “Oh, yes. Just…thinking.”
Buffy poured the syrup over her stack and raised an eyebrow at him. “Good thoughts?”
Giles nodded as he looked at their children once more. “Extremely.”
She smiled brightly, listening to her sons’ playful banter as they enjoyed a nice family breakfast.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Buffy sighed heavily as they stood outside of Angel’s office. Giles looked down at her, concern in his green eyes.
“Are you alright?”
“Oh, yeah…peachy.” She met his eyes and shook her head. “Sorry. I’m just a little nervous. And…do you think it’s really strange that the girl at the information desk just sent us straight up?”
He lifted his hand and rubbed her back gently. “Somewhat, yes. But, it could be simply that she knew who you are and assumed that we are here on something of an apocalyptic nature.” He smiled as she raised a doubtful eyebrow. “Or it could be something completely different.”
She scoffed lightly. “Way to reassure me, Giles.”
He gave her a warm smile and gestured towards the door. “Ready?”
“As I’ll ever be, I guess.” She raised her hand and gave the door three quick raps with her knuckles.
Angel’s gruff voice sounded through the wooden door. “Come in.”
Buffy took a deep breath and opened the door. Giles gave her an encouraging smile and gently ushered her inside.
Angel looked up, his eyes narrowing slightly as Giles closed the door behind them. “Buffy, Giles…hello.”
“Hello, Angel.” Giles responded quietly as the vampire stood.
Buffy gave a small smile. “Hey.”
“It’s been a while.” Angel gestured towards two chairs in front of his desk. “Have a seat. Can I get you anything? Tea, coffee?”
Giles waited until Buffy sat before lowering his large frame to the chair next to her. “No thank you.”
Angel nodded and sat back down, folding his hands on his desk. “So…welcome to the L.A. Branch of Wolfram & Hart. What can I do for you?”
Giles’ eyes narrowed slightly. Buffy tilted her head as she regarded the vampire closely.
“All business these days, Angel?”
He offered her a smile and leaned back in his chair. “Well, I assumed that you were here on business. We haven’t been exactly social in the past few years.”
“True.” Giles responded softly. “Actually, we’re here to talk to you.”
“I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that you’re here to talk about the rumours floating around.” Angel smiled at the Watcher. “My soul?”
Giles’ eyes widened a fraction and Buffy leaned forward. Angel chuckled and gestured vaguely.
“Vampire hearing…people forget how clear it can be. I hear people discussing their concern that the Mark of the Thorn has…what was the word they used?” He thought for a moment and then nodded. “Corrupted…that’s it. They’re worried that my soul has been corrupted.”
Giles cleared his throat. “Yes, well – ”
Angel smiled warmly. “My soul is fine, Giles. All intact and I’m still as…broody…as ever.”
Giles opened his mouth to respond, closing it when he noticed Angel’s eyes dart to his wife’s breasts quickly. His eyes narrowed as Angel lifted his gaze and looked into Buffy’s eyes.
“You’ve had another baby.” He smiled, knowing Buffy was at a loss for words, and gestured towards her chest. “Your breasts are…fuller. And you don’t exactly look pregnant at the moment. Is this three or four now?”
Buffy swallowed, unconsciously leaning towards Giles. “Three. Angel – ”
“Another boy?” Angel turned his dark eyes to Giles. “Or did you finally get the girl you’ve wanted?”
Giles shook his head in confusion. “Our children aren’t up for discussion, Angel.”
Angel picked up a pen and rolled it between his fingers. “And neither is my soul…which is perfectly fine. I appreciate your concern, but there’s no need for it. If there’s nothing else, I have a nest of Quandesh demons on the North side to take care of.”
“Angel…” Buffy started, but stopped when the vampire shook his head.
“I’m busy right now, Buffy. But…maybe if you’re in town for a few days we could do dinner one night. I wouldn’t mind catching up with you guys.”
Giles nodded slowly, taking Buffy’s hand. He stood and pulled her up with him, offering Angel a smile. “That could possibly be arranged. We’ll be in Los Angeles until Thursday.”
Angel smiled and stood, extending his hand. “Great. Leave your number with Janice, the lady at reception, and I’ll give you a call.”
Giles shook the proffered hand briefly and led Buffy to the door. “Will do. Good day, Angel.”
Angel smiled as Buffy and Giles walked into the hall. His smile faded as Buffy closed the door behind them. He quickly picked up the phone and punched the number that would connect him with reception.
“Janice, there will be two people coming down soon. Man and a woman…blonde, short…get their details for me. Phone number, hotel…anything you can get from them.”
He hung up the phone and sat down behind his desk. A green flicker of light flashed in his dark eyes as a smile formed on his face.
The large group had gone to dinner together, cryptically discussing the issue with Angel. Buffy and Giles needed to get the information to the others, but were careful of their words around the children. Especially Lucas, as it seemed that he was always listening.
When Giles noticed his sons growing tired, he suggested that the group adjourn to the suite that the Giles family was currently occupying. The boys were bathed quickly and dressed for bed, giving out goodnight kisses and hugs before being put to bed.
Buffy brought Haddie’s monitor out of their bedroom and placed it on the small coffee table as everyone got comfortable. Giles handed Xander a bottle of beer, pouring himself a small tumbler of scotch before settling next to Buffy.
“So, he denied it?” Anya asked carefully.
Giles nodded and took a sip of his drink. “Fairly vehemently, as well.”
“And you don’t believe him?” Ethan questioned, lifting his beer to his lips.
Giles stared into Ethan’s eyes and shook his head slowly. “I don’t.”
Buffy sighed heavily and leaned back into the cushions. “I don’t either.”
Novak cleared his throat and leaned forward. “We have little time before his soul is beyond repair.”
“So, it’s time to finalize the plan?” Xander asked nervously, reaching over and lacing his fingers through Anya’s.
“I know what the plan is for us.” Willow gestured between herself and Oz as a pout formed on her lips. “We get to baby-sit.”
Oz smiled and patted her knee lovingly. “I’d rather think of it as protecting the children.”
Giles gave Willow a sympathetic smile. “Normally, I would request your presence, Willow. But, given the circumstances…you being pregnant and the nature of the spell…I’d feel safer if you were with Oz and our children. Please understand…”
Willow sighed heavily. “I understand, Giles. I really do. I just…want to help.”
Buffy smiled at her best friend. “And taking care of our children is the best way to help us right now. We know they’ll be safe with you guys…and we’ll be able to focus on what we need to do.”
Xander drained his beer and balanced the empty bottle on his knee. “There’s not much I can do…spell-wise. I can stay with Will and Oz…help them with the kids.”
“Thank you.” Giles smiled softly at the young man before he took a deep breath and leaned forward, darting his eyes between Ethan and Anya. “I’ll need the two of you to buy me as much time as possible in order for me to take the Mark.”
Buffy lowered her eyes, twisting her hands in her lap. Novak stared at Giles, his orange eyes flickering in the light of the room.
“Take the Mark?”
Giles nodded slowly. “After researching this issue fully, performing Poxilium is the only viable – ”
Novak interrupted him gently. “Take the Mark? You?” He shook his head, his eyes full of concern. “You’re suggesting that you take ownership of the Mark.”
“Yes.” Giles responded quietly. “Once the Mark is in my possession, Ethan and Anya will work to repair any damage to Angel’s soul. And…then we’ll work on destroying the Mark.”
Novak’s eyes narrowed. “And the damage the Mark will do to you?”
Giles glanced at Buffy, sighing as she stood and walked across the room to stare out the window. “I have not earned the Mark. The Mark of the Thorn corrupts the souls of those who have been initiated into the order. From the research I’ve done, it shouldn’t affect me.”
“Shouldn’t…” Buffy whispered softly, wrapping her arms around herself.
“When are you wanting to do this, Rupert?” Ethan asked softly as Giles watched Buffy.
“Tomorrow afternoon. Three o’clock.” He stated, not taking his eyes off his wife.
“Why three?” Anya questioned.
Giles stood, placing his empty tumbler on the table. “Optimum time for the Poxilium.”
Without another word or glance, he made his way to Buffy. He stood behind her and slid his arms around her slightly trembling body, pulling her against his chest.
“Buffy…” He whispered softly.
She shook her head and sniffled. “I don’t like that word… ‘shouldn’t’. I want something more definite. Like… ‘there’s no chance in hell of it affecting me’.” She turned in his arms and looked up at him. “Say that to me, Giles.”
He lifted his hand and caressed her cheek, sighing sadly as a tear spilled down her face. “You know that I can’t. Chances are very slim that it will affect me, but…”
“Very slim…see, that’s not a definite statement to me.” Her bottom lip trembled. “What if I lose you, Giles?”
He pulled her tightly against his chest, lowering his mouth to her ear and whispering softly. “You’re not going to lose me.”
Willow stood and cleared her throat, gaining Giles’ attention. She gave him an understanding smile and motioned towards the door.
“You two should talk. Um…so, we’re going to go.”
Giles nodded as everyone stood and started towards the door. “We’ll meet here tomorrow for lunch…go over the last details of the plan…”
Willow nodded in agreement, slipping her hand into Oz’s. “Yeah, we’ll be here. Get some rest tonight…I think you’re going to need it.”
As their guests left and the door closed, Giles looked down into Buffy’s watery eyes. He lowered his voice to a gentle whisper and ran his fingers through her hair.
“It’s the only way, Buffy.”
A tear rolled down her face. “I know…it doesn’t mean I have to like it.”
He leaned down and placed a tender kiss on her lips. Her hands gripped the front of his shirt as her mouth opened under his. He gasped softly as her tongue slid along his bottom lip. As her fingers unbuttoned his shirt, she broke the kiss and looked into his eyes.
“Yes?” He responded quietly.
Her eyes shone brightly with unshed tears as she pushed his now-open shirt off his shoulders. “I really need you to make love to me.”
He understood her statement for what it was…fear. Fear of losing him, fear of the Mark somehow damaging him, fear that this may be the last chance they had. He understood her fear.
He couldn’t truthfully tell her that he was one hundred percent sure that he would come out of this unscathed. He also knew that her fear was warranted. Should Angel, or rather Angelus, decide to exert the power of the Mark…this very well could be their last chance.
And so he did what he could. He lifted her into his arms. And when she wrapped her legs around his hips and laid her head on his shoulder, he carried her into the bedroom.
* * *
He grunted softly as her teeth bit his shoulder. He hooked his arm under her knee, opening her wider as he continued his furiously slow pace. Sweat dripped from his chest onto hers, the beads of moisture trickling down her sides to fall onto the sheets.
His tongue glided along her collarbone, his lips nipping at her sensitive skin periodically. He was pushing her towards her fourth orgasm when her nails raked across his back.
She smiled and moved her mouth to the front of his throat. She felt his hard swallow and pushed her hips upwards, urging him towards climax. He groaned softly when her teeth scraped his skin.
She felt the tremble in his back muscles and lowered her head back to the pillow. She offered him a lazy smile and licked her lips.
“Come…with me…this time.” She whispered as he continued his thrusts.
“I love you.” He whispered in response, closing his eyes when he felt her inner muscles begin to quiver once more. “God, I love you…”
“With me, Giles…please…”
He gave her a slight nod, lowering his head to her shoulder as he quickened his strokes. Her fingers slipped through the sheen of sweat on his back as she met each of his thrusts in perfect time.
He mumbled incoherently against her flesh, his tongue lapping at the salty moisture on her neck. She felt his cock thicken inside of her and she gave a low moan of ecstasy. As her fluids rushed over his thrusting erection, his back muscles tensed. He allowed the warmth of her juices to take him over the edge, his deep growl vibrating against her skin as he came forcefully within her.
He moved his arm, letting her leg fall to the mattress as he lifted his hand and cradled her face. He stared into her eyes for a moment, relishing the sensation of her fingers combing through his sweat-drenched hair.
“What is it, honey?” She asked softly, recognizing the intensity in his darkened green eyes.
“I’d do it all over again.” He whispered hoarsely, his thumb stroking her warm cheek.
“Everything.” His eyes glistened in the dim light as he leaned down and gently kissed her lips. “Absolutely everything.”
She exhaled slowly, understanding his words. Her thumb brushed over his eyebrow and down the side of his face. “Me too.”
He smiled softly and moved to her side. She rolled over and faced him, returning his smile as he wrapped his arms around her.
“Do you know how much I love you, Giles?”
He pushed her damp hair back from her face and nodded slowly. “As much as I love you.”
She snuggled against him, sighing as she listened to his heart rate calm. After a few moments, she broke the silence.
“Are you scared about this?”
He cleared his throat and inhaled deeply. “I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous, Buffy. However…I honestly believe this will work. I can’t tell you that everything will be fine, as much as I want to. But, I can tell you that I believe in my heart we’ll be alright…all of us.”
“I want to go home, Giles. I don’t think I like California anymore.”
He rubbed her back soothingly, pressing a kiss into her hair. “California isn’t the problem, darling. The State itself has some rather enticing attributes. Our dealings with California are tarnishing your image of your home.”
“No.” Buffy disagreed softly. “Our dealings with California do nothing but make the images of my home brighter.”
She lifted her head and looked into his eyes. “If it weren’t for our dealings with California, I wouldn’t have a home. You’re my home, Giles.”
“As you’re mine, love.” He glanced at the bedside table and narrowed his eyes. “We left the monitor in the other room.”
Buffy lifted her head, narrowing her eyes as she listened for any noise. “Think maybe Haddie’s gotten the idea of sleeping through the night?”
Giles chuckled softly. “I wouldn’t count the chickens just yet. It’s not even one…”
“She’ll be hungry soon.”
Giles smiled and gently pushed her down to the mattress, pulling the sheet and blanket up over them. “I’ll go when she wakes. You should get some sleep.”
“So should you.” Buffy narrowed her eyes as she placed her hand on his chest. “You’re the one doing all the hard work tomorrow.”
“Which is why I’m unable to sleep.” He lay down beside of her, resting his head on the pillow as he smiled at her. “Go to sleep. Everything will be fine.”
She shook her head, even as she yawned widely. “Not tired.”
He raised an eyebrow, sliding his hand over her hip. “Then I obviously didn’t complete my task earlier.”
A smile tugged at the corner of her lips. “Trying to wear me out?”
“Mm…” He licked his lips as his fingers gently pushed through her wet folds. “Seems as though I should try harder.”
He smiled as she groaned his name and closed her eyes.
Lunch had been a fairly subdued affair. Giles and Buffy attempted to keep the situation as light as possible for the sake of their children. They succeeded for the most part, though tensions were running a bit high.
It had been agreed that Xander would stay with Willow and Oz. Xander wasn’t exactly happy with the decision as he was worried about Anya. But, Anya assured him that she’d be alright and sealed the promise with a tender kiss.
Giles and Buffy spent some quality time with the children before giving each of them a kiss goodbye. Giles turned around as he reached the door, smiling at the image of Willow cuddling Haddie lovingly. He met Oz’s eyes and cleared his throat.
“Take care of them.” He stated softly.
Oz nodded, placing his hand lightly on the top of Braden’s head as Lucas playfully argued with Xander. “Do what you need to do.”
Giles gave the young man a quick nod and opened the door. He gave his children one last smile before following Buffy, Ethan, Anya, and Novak down the hall to the elevator. When he sighed heavily, Buffy took his hand and gently squeezed.
“You know I’ll do everything I can to protect you, right?”
Giles offered her a small smile and nod, gesturing to the elevator when the doors slid open. “After you, love.”
* * *
Ten minutes after the others had left, Willow took Haddie into the bedroom to change her diaper. Braden was helping Xander build a city out of blocks as Oz read a story to Lucas. Xander glanced at Oz when a knock sounded on the door. Oz shrugged a shoulder, continuing to read as Xander stood up to answer the door.
Angel smiled as the door swung open. “Hi, Xander.”
Xander narrowed his eyes. “Hey, Angel. What are you doing here?”
“Just thought I’d drop by to say hi.”
Xander took a step back, his eyes widening as Angel walked through the door. “I thought you had to be invited…”
Angel grinned and closed the door behind him. “Common misconception. That rule doesn’t apply to hotel rooms. You should know that…that’s how I saved you when Faith was choking the life out of you.”
Oz dropped the book onto the couch and stood with Lucas in his arms. Xander quickly backed up and took Lucas from Oz. Lucas settled comfortably in Xander’s arms before settling his eyes on the tall stranger. Angel watched Oz move across the room to the older boy. When Angel met Braden’s eyes, he was slightly surprised to find the boy staring at him intently.
Angel tilted his head and pointed to the boy. “You must be Braden.”
Braden nodded slowly as he stood up. Oz stood next to him in a protective manner. Angel chuckled and turned his eyes to Oz.
“You his bodyguard?”
“What do you want, Angel?” Oz replied with a calmness that he didn’t really feel.
Lucas stared at the visitor, his eyes widening as the man’s visage morphed. The young boy screamed loudly for his mother.
Willow snapped her head towards the door as she quickly picked Haddie up. Grabbing her mobile phone, she quickly sent a message to Buffy.
* * *
Buffy pulled her phone out of her pocket and flipped it open, easily navigating the menu until she reached her inbox. Her face drained of color as she read the message that consisted of three characters.
Giles hit the brakes quickly at her scream of panic.
* * *
Angel grimaced and gestured at Lucas. “Could someone please shut him up before I have to eat him?”
Xander lovingly patted Lucas’ back as he whispered to the boy. “It’s okay, Lucas. Shh…”
Angel began to pace across the room. “So we have Braden and Lucas. Buffy says there was a third.” He stared at Oz through soulless eyes. “Where’s the baby?”
Hearing a mobile phone ring, Angel ran towards the bedroom and flung the door open. Willow jumped back, holding Haddie close to her chest as she dropped the phone to the floor.
Angel grinned. “There’s the baby. Hi, Willow. Why don’t you bring the baby out here with the rest of us. We can have a little reunion party while Buffy and Giles are looking for me at the office.”
Willow rushed past Angel and ran to her husband. Angel rubbed the palms of his hands together.
“Now…where should I start?”
Braden peeked out from behind Oz’s legs. Angel noticed the movement and shook his head, confused by the fact that Braden didn’t seem to be overly frightened of him.
He turned his gaze to the boy in Xander’s arms. Despite the fact that the child had screamed for his mother, Lucas’ green eyes were staring at him in a most disconcerting manner.
“Buffy will be back soon, Angel.” Willow offered quietly.
“No she won’t. She and Giles are on their way to Wolfram & Hart…to cure me of my ailment.” Angel laughed loudly, taking a few steps forward and glancing down at the baby. “Cute baby. She looks like Buffy.”
Haddie shivered as Angel’s cold fingers touched her face. Braden quickly moved around Oz, anger in his eyes.
“Don’t touch her!”
Angel smiled, his face morphing back into its human version as he turned around. “Ah, protective big brother. This is going to be fun.”
Oz growled softly as he grabbed Braden’s shoulder. Angel smirked at the young man.
“I’d heard you had control of your inner beast. Wasn’t quite sure if it was true or not.”
“Take one step closer and you’ll find out.” Oz’s eyes darkened as he stared at Angel.
In an act of defiance, Angel took one large step towards Braden. Within seconds he found himself face to face with a werewolf as Braden sneezed. Angel gave Oz an appreciative smile.
“I’m impressed. Know any other party tricks?”
Angel turned quickly when he heard the hotel room door open. “Ah, Buffy…Giles. So nice to see you again.”
As the parents quickly cast their gazes over their children, Angel chuckled. “They’re fine. I haven’t done anything to them…except for introduce them to the appearance of a vampire. But, I figure they’ll have to know about that soon enough…right?”
As Anya, Ethan, and Novak ran into the room, Angel rolled his eyes. “And the party keeps getting bigger.”
Buffy narrowed her eyes and moved towards Angel. “How did you know?”
Angel clucked his tongue in disappointment. “I run Wolfram & Hart. I have ways of finding out anything I feel the need to know.” He licked his lips and gestured towards Giles as he stared into Buffy’s eyes. “Tell me, Buffy…have you two ever taped yourselves having sex? If you haven’t…you really should. Better than most adult movies I’ve seen…”
“You’ve been watching us.” Giles’ voice held the icy tone of borderline rage. “How long?”
Angel shrugged a shoulder and pulled a knife out of his pocket. “Long enough that you’re planning something to reconstruct my broken soul. Kinda sweet when you think about it.”
Braden’s eyes widened as the light glinted off the blade. “Daddy?”
“It’s okay, son. Stay with Oz.” Giles softened his voice, but kept his eyes locked on Angel.
Angel’s eyes flickered. “Aren’t you a good father, Giles?”
“He’s the best.” Braden stated, starting to walk forward and stopping when he heard Oz’s soft growl.
The vampire looked down at the boy.
“You gonna be like your Dad one day?
Have a Slayer of your own?” He
smiled at the confusion in the child’s eyes.
“Your Mom is your Dad’s Slayer, you know.”
“Angel…” Giles’ warning tone did nothing but make Angel smile wider.
“Remember this, young Braden. There’s only one thing better than sex with a Slayer…and that’s the taste of her blood.” He turned to Buffy and grinned. “Isn’t that right, Buffy?”
Giles struck quickly, landing a solid left hook to Angel’s jaw. Angel countered with a swipe of the knife in his hand, slicing through the flesh on Giles’ arm.
“Daddy!” Braden screamed, his sudden rush forward halted by a large paw on his shoulder.
Giles pressed his hand over the wound and glanced at his son. “I’m alright, Braden.”
As soon as they realized that Giles had been wounded, Anya and Ethan began concentrating. Giles held his arm so that the blood trickled down to his hand. Buffy glared at the vampire.
Angel twirled the knife in his hand before lifting it to his mouth and licking the blood from the blade. “Self-defense, Buff. He hit me first.”
Buffy looked over at Xander, relieved that he had turned and shielded Lucas from the sight. She heard her son whimper and Xander whisper to him softly. She returned her eyes to Angel when she heard him address her husband.
“Come on, Watcher. Shall we finish this?”
Giles took a deep breath, sensing the energy filling him. He stood tall in front of Angel, his eyes sparking with rage.
Angel licked his lips and lunged forward, slashing through the air with the knife. Giles dodged quickly and then ducked when Angel countered with a backhanded swipe. As Angel turned to face him full on, Giles quickly uttered four words in a language that was decidedly not English and slammed his bloody palms against Angel’s chest.
Angel froze, his eyes widening in pain and fear. The knife dropped from his hand and bounced on the carpeted floor, leaving a blood smear on the fibres. As the vampire dropped the floor, Giles followed him down.
He shoved Angel onto his back, leaning over him as he continued his chant. After a few moments, Angel’s eyes gleamed brightly and he screamed. Giles stiffened and gasped loudly. Buffy ran to him when Ethan yelled that it was done.
She grabbed her husband and pulled him up. Giles pushed away and stumbled backwards. He breathed heavily as he looked at Ethan and pointed to Angel.
He wobbled once and then fell backwards onto the floor. Buffy knelt on the floor beside of him, her eyes glistening with tears as she checked his pulse. Oz caged the wolf as Braden screamed out for his father.
Buffy looked up as both boys started crying. Willow gently comforted Haddie as she began to whimper restlessly.
“He’s going to be okay, Braden. Come here.”
Lucas squirmed until Xander put him down. He moved cautiously towards his parents and brother.
Buffy pulled both boys into her arms. “He’s going to be okay, he’s just really tired right now.”
Lucas pointed at Giles’ arm. “Daddy’s hurt.”
Buffy watched as Braden tenderly stroked Giles’ hair, the same way Giles stroked Braden’s hair in comfort. She looked up at Oz and Xander, still holding Lucas tightly.
“Help me get him to the bed. And…then take the kids to our room.”
Braden looked up quickly. “No. I want to stay with Daddy!”
“Me too!” Lucas stated emphatically.
Buffy shook her head slowly. “Daddy needs to rest for a little while.”
Braden pursed his lips and sighed heavily. Lucas moved out of Buffy’s arms and leaned down, kissing Giles’ cheek.
“Love you Daddy.”
Buffy knew that neither of the boys were happy with not being able to stay with their father and she really couldn’t blame either one of them. She also knew that it was for the best.
She watched Braden turn his eyes to the man lying on the floor a few feet away, Anya and Ethan chanting furiously as Novak looked on. Braden’s jaw clenched and then released.
She knew that Braden would remember everything that Angel had said. There would be questions that would need to be answered sooner rather than later.
Willow stepped forward, Haddie sleeping in her arms. “I’ll take them to your room, Buffy.”
Buffy nodded absently as Xander and Oz carefully lifted Giles from the floor.
With the children safely in Buffy and Giles’ suite with Willow and Ethan and Anya working on Angel, Buffy quickly made her way to the bedroom. She walked in to find that Oz and Xander had been able to get Giles onto the bed and under the blankets. She immediately noticed that he was trembling violently, pain etched clearly on his face as beads of sweat rolled down his skin.
She moved to the side of the bed, kneeling on the floor and reaching up to run her fingers through his drenched hair. “Giles?”
He turned his head towards her voice and opened his eyes. She inhaled sharply at the intensity of his pain showing in his darkened green eyes.
“Buffy…” His voice cracked as he tried to speak.
Buffy shook her head quickly, tears in her eyes as she continued to tenderly stroke his hair. “Ssh…you’re going to be okay, Giles. But…you need to rest right now.”
Giles swallowed and tried to focus his vision. “Braden…Lucas…”
“They’re fine. They’re with Willow in our room.” She looked down at his arm, the towel that either Oz or Xander had wrapped around it to stem the blood flow was no longer white. “I should have a look at that…”
Ethan and Anya walked into the room and closed the door behind them. Ethan cleared his throat, getting Buffy’s attention.
“First things first, Buffy. We need to destroy the Mark now.”
Buffy nodded, swallowing as she glanced at Oz. “Hand me another towel?”
Xander met Anya’s eyes and gestured towards the door. “Angel?”
“Sleeping at the moment. But, according to Novak…there are no more breaks in his aura.”
Oz handed Buffy a fresh towel. “Well, that’s a good thing…”
Buffy’s jaw clenched and released as she tenderly wrapped the towel over the blood-soaked one. “I don’t want to talk about Angel right now. My husband’s in pain.”
Oz gave her a nod of understanding and took a step towards the door. “I’ll go help Will with the kids.”
Buffy met his eyes briefly. “Thank you.”
Oz smiled softly and left the room. Xander shifted nervously. “What can I do?”
Ethan turned his head towards him and sighed. “Help Novak keep an eye on Angel. The fewer people in here during this procedure, the better.”
Xander gave a reluctant nod, gently squeezing Buffy’s shoulder in silent reassurance before giving Anya a tender kiss. As the door closed behind him, Giles groaned in pain.
Ethan spoke softly. “We need to do this now, Buffy.”
Buffy looked up, determination in her eyes. “I’m not leaving him.”
Ethan nodded quickly. “I wasn’t going to suggest it. We need to get him on his right side…”
He trailed off and looked down at Giles, his green eyes opening but not able to focus. Another wave of pain crashed over Giles and his trembling increased.
“Anya and I will turn him. I need you to help him focus.”
A tear rolled down Buffy’s cheek as she stood. “How?”
“Lie beside of him, facing him. Talk to him…anything…just try to get him to focus on you.”
Buffy nodded slowly and moved around to the other side of the bed, carefully climbing onto the mattress as Ethan and Anya rolled Giles onto his side. Ethan pulled a pair of scissors out of his inside jacket pocket, shaking his head when Buffy’s eyes widened.
“Just need to get his shirt off.”
“Oh.” Buffy whispered and laid her head on the pillow. She reached out and gently caressed the side of her husband’s face as Ethan quickly cut the material away. “Giles?”
Giles opened his eyes slowly. “Buffy.”
“Hey…” She rubbed his cheek with her thumb and offered him a small smile. “Ethan says you need to focus, okay?”
“On…what?” He asked with some difficulty.
A minute smile appeared on his face for a brief second. “Hardship…”
Ethan chuckled softly and placed Anya’s palm on Giles’ left shoulder blade before climbing onto the bed behind Buffy. He studied their positions carefully and, realizing he wouldn’t be able to properly reach Giles, straddled Buffy’s hip.
Giles glanced at him and furrowed his brow. “Why…are you sitting…on my wife?”
Ethan smiled and shook his head. “It’s perfectly innocent, Rupert. I need to reach your chest…I need Buffy here…logistically, this is the best way to do this.”
Giles snorted softly and then grimaced in pain. “Bloody…hell!”
Buffy looked up at Ethan, fear in her eyes. “Ethan?”
“We need to work quickly. The thorns are embedding themselves…” When Giles cried out once more, Ethan bit his lip and looked at Anya. “We’re going to have to put him under.”
“What?” Buffy asked, panic in her voice.
“He’s in too much pain to focus properly. And…this procedure is going to be even more painful for him. So, we put him under…he relaxes…we remove and destroy the Mark…”
“And then he wakes up?” Buffy asked nervously.
Ethan swallowed and returned his eyes to Giles. “That’s the plan. And…then we can work on his arm.”
Buffy looked at Giles to find him staring intently at her. “What is it, honey?”
“I love you.” He whispered, his eyes glistening with unshed tears.
“No, no, no…you don’t cry. You only cry when – ”
“The kids…tell them – ”
Buffy interrupted him quickly as a tear spilled from the corner of his eye. “No! You can tell them anything you want after you wake up!”
She leaned forward and quickly, but tenderly, kissed his dry lips. “I love you, Giles. And I’m not letting our family lose you.”
He gave her a tired smile and glanced at Ethan. “Ready?”
Ethan gave a short nod and spoke two softly uttered words. Giles’ eyes fluttered and then closed, his trembling ebbing somewhat as his breathing evened out. Ethan reached into his pocket and pulled out a small sphere that looked like a snow globe to Buffy.
At Buffy’s questioning look, Ethan closed his fingers tightly around the sphere. “I’ll pull the Mark from Rupert. It’ll travel to the sphere. When it’s trapped, then it can be destroyed.” He placed his free hand on Giles’ chest. “Theoretically.”
“Should I…should I move?” She asked with slight trepidation.
“No. Even though he’s unconscious, you’re still a grounding point for him. Just…don’t touch him once we start the procedure.”
“Okay.” She whispered and pressed another soft kiss to her husband’s lips. “Whenever you’re ready.”
Ethan took a deep breath and met Anya’s eyes. After sharing a quick nod, they both closed their eyes and began to chant. Buffy kept her eyes locked on Giles’ face, her heart rate quickening in anticipation and fear.
Giles’ body stiffened and he moaned softly, attempting to pull away from Ethan’s hand. Ethan followed the movement and Anya pressed harder against Giles’ shoulder blade. Fresh beads of sweat formed on Giles’ brow and rolled down his skin, dampening the pillow beneath his head.
Buffy ached to touch him, to hold him tightly in her arms. Remembering Ethan’s warning to not touch him, Buffy settled on whispering soft words to him. The faint odour of burning flesh brought her attention to the light wisps of smoke curling around Ethan’s hand.
She was getting ready to say something when Giles’ loud cry of pain sounded loud in the room. Ethan hissed and gripped the sphere tighter in his hand. He suddenly stopped chanting and Anya doubled her efforts. Ethan trembled as the sphere began to glow.
Giles quietened almost immediately. Ethan pried his hand from Giles’ chest and fell backwards onto the mattress, the now-green sphere dropping onto the bed next to him. Anya opened her eyes and inhaled deeply.
She offered Buffy a small smile as she removed her hand from Giles’ back. “It’s done.”
Buffy inspected the burned flesh of Giles’ chest…a perfect thorned circle. “Is he okay?”
Anya placed two fingers on the side of Giles’ neck and nodded. “Good pulse, breathing is fine. He’s just resting.”
Buffy tentatively reached out, tracing her fingertip around the singed flesh. Anya gestured towards his arm, noticing that the blood had now soaked through the second towel.
“That should be looked at pretty soon.”
Buffy nodded, sniffling softly. “I’ll take care of it.” She glanced down at Ethan before looking back at Anya. “Is he okay?”
“Yeah…it’s exhaustion. I’ll let him rest for a few minutes and then…” She reached over Giles’ sleeping body and picked up the green sphere. “We’ll take care of this. Do you need any help with the arm?”
Buffy shook her head and quickly scrambled off the bed, grabbing the first aid kit that Oz and Willow always carried with them. “No, I’ll be okay.”
Anya nodded slowly and smiled softly as Ethan moaned. “I’ll just go get Xander to help me with Ethan.”
Buffy didn’t respond. She was too busy carefully peeling the bloody towels away from Giles’ injured forearm. She winced as Giles whimpered softly, some of the fibres from the towel that were stuck to the open gash pulling at the wound.
“I’m sorry, honey.” She whispered, unsure as to whether he could hear her or not.
“S’okay…” He mumbled, his voice sounding slightly drugged.
Her eyes darted to his face. “Giles? Are you awake?”
“Dunno. Am I…alive?”
She smiled briefly and reached up to wipe a tear from her face. “Yeah, you’re alive.”
He nodded slowly and carefully rolled onto his back. “Then I’m awake.”
She brushed his damp hair back from his face. “How do you feel?”
“Like I’ve been run over by a lorry.”
“Yeah…” She sighed softly and pulled the bottle of antiseptic out of the kit. “Just relax and I’ll take care of this for you, okay?”
“Mm-hm.” He glanced at the other side of the bed and narrowed his eyes. “Is Ethan alright?”
“Yeah, he is. Anya will be back in a minute with Xander to get him.”
He nodded slowly, reaching for the green sphere and lifting it up. “Angel?”
She dabbed the antiseptic around the wound carefully before picking up a sterile package of sutures. “Apparently, it worked.”
He turned his eyes to her as she set to the task of closing the gash. “You don’t seem overly happy about that.”
She shook her head, keeping her eyes on his arm. “He threatened the children. He threatened you. He basically told Braden about everything…no, I’m not exactly happy at the moment.”
“Has…has Braden asked any questions yet?” He winced as Buffy pulled a suture.
“Sorry.” She whispered and then started the next stitch. “No, not yet. But…he will. He was too worried about you to ask anything.”
Giles opened his mouth to respond, closing it when the door opened. Noticing that he was awake, Anya smiled and gestured to Ethan.
“We’re just here to get the sleeping man. You feeling okay?”
Giles shrugged his shoulder. “I’ve been better.”
Xander sniffed the air. “Why does it smell like a really bad barbeque in here?”
Giles smiled softly. “I would imagine that would be me.”
Xander stared at Giles’ chest, his eyes widening. “Jesus! They burned it out of you?”
“It was the only way.” Anya replied quietly before glancing at the burn. “It should heal quickly, but…you’ll probably have a scar.”
Giles nodded and handed the sphere to her. He looked down at Buffy, who was nearly finished closing the wound on his arm.
“A scar I can deal with.”
Buffy looked up as she tied the last stitch and smiled. “Me too.”
Xander gently nudged Anya’s shoulder. “Come on, let’s take Ethan into the other room. Buffy and Giles have a few things to talk about.”
Anya nodded in agreement and slipped the sphere into her pocket.
Giles sat with his back resting against the headboard of the bed and watched silently as Buffy carefully bandaged his arm, securing the gauze with three strips of tape. She sighed softly, glancing at his chest before meeting his eyes.
“Should I put something on that?” When he only shook his head, Buffy lifted her hand and caressed his cheek. “Are you sure you’re okay?”
“I, uh…I could probably use a hug…” He admitted softly.
She quickly climbed over him and settled on his right side. She smiled as she slid her arm around his back and snuggled against him.
“Hugs are easy to give.”
He closed his eyes and wrapped his arms around her, holding her tightly to his body. “I love you, Buffy.”
She laid her head on his chest and listened to his heart. “Did…did I almost lose you?”
“Buffy…” He took a deep breath and cleared his throat as he waited for her to look up. When she did, he continued. “Kiss me.”
“I did, didn’t I?” She whispered, her eyes glistening. “I almost lost you.”
“Ssh…” He lifted his hand, grazing his fingertips along her cheek. “Kiss me.”
She shifted carefully, moving until she was straddling his thighs and facing him. She darted her eyes to the angry blistered skin on his chest, the perfect shape of the Mark showing clearly.
“Am I hurting you?”
He gave her a slight shake of his head, sliding his hand to the back of her neck and drawing her towards him. “Kiss me, Buffy. Please…”
At the nearly begging tone of his voice, she looked up and saw the plea in his eyes. She leaned forward slowly, careful not to touch the burn.
“I love you.”
He sighed at her whispered words and closed his eyes as he closed the gap between them. The kiss was slow and warm, lips gently massaging one another as fingers skimmed over flesh. He edged his fingers underneath her shirt, rubbing her soft skin.
She gasped at the contact and he deepened the kiss, nudging his tongue against hers as he slowly moved his right hand up and tenderly cupped her full breast. She groaned into his mouth, shifting until she was centred over his quickly emerging erection. He gently squeezed her hip with his left hand, urging her to move against him.
She broke the kiss and moaned softly as she rubbed her denim-clad core over his hardened length. “Giles…we shouldn’t…not here…”
He released her breast and moved his hand around her back, easily finding the clasp of her bra and flicking it open. “I need you.”
“But…” She trailed off with a sigh as he slid his hand into the loosened cup. “Oh, God…”
“I need you.” He repeated softly before reinitiating the kiss.
She returned the kiss fiercely, mindful of his injuries but moving her body against his as his fingers rolled her sensitive nipple. Their moans and groans were muffled by one another’s mouth as they both pushed each other closer to orgasm.
Neither heard the bedroom door open.
* * *
Angel sat quietly as he watched Anya and Novak take care of Ethan. The ritual had been successful and his soul had been repaired. He fought back his tears as he relived his recent actions. He glanced towards the closed bedroom door and swallowed nervously.
Knowing that the three other people in the room were otherwise occupied and not likely to miss him soon, he quietly stood and made his way to the door. He calmed his nerves as much as he could and turned the doorknob, silently slipping into the room and closing the door behind him.
He averted his eyes quickly from the scene. He wasn’t sure what he was expecting when he walked in, but was definitely sure he wasn’t expecting to see Buffy writhing on top of Giles as they shared a nearly carnal kiss.
Buffy broke the kiss and lowered her mouth to Giles’ neck. A deep growl rumbled in his chest as he moved another step towards climax. His eyes fluttered open briefly. Less than a second later, his eyes snapped open to find Angel standing near the door with his hands shoved in his pockets. The vampire’s head hung low as his eyes stared at the carpet.
Feeling Giles tense beneath her, and realizing that it wasn’t pre-orgasmic tension, Buffy raised her head. Giles eyes were focused on a point behind her and, after receiving no response when she whispered his name, Buffy slowly turned.
Hearing the bed squeak as Buffy moved off of her husband, Angel cleared his throat. “I, uh…I didn’t realize…”
“What are you doing?” Buffy asked tersely as she quickly pulled the blanket up over Giles’ groin.
Angel raised his eyes. “I…wanted to apologize. I didn’t know that you would be…” He gestured towards the bed as he trailed off.
“You want to apologize.” Giles stated coldly.
Angel nodded, his eyes darting to the Watcher’s chest. “Yes.”
Giles narrowed his eyes and carefully climbed out of bed. Buffy moved to stop him, halting her motion when Giles gave her a quick glance. Instead, she gave him a gentle nod.
Giles stood next to the bed and took a deep breath. “What exactly is it that you wish to apologize for?”
“Everything.” Angel replied softly.
Giles shook his head and took a step forward. “No, in this instance you need to be specific.”
“I…” Angel started, but realized quickly that he wasn’t sure how to go about this.
Giles’ eyes darkened. “Are you apologizing for threatening my children? Or threatening my wife? Or…attempting to kill me?”
Angel’s eyes glistened as Giles took another step forward, his eyes nearly black with rage. He stared at Giles, not noticing Buffy slide out of bed as well.
“Or…are you sorry for telling our five year old son that his mother is a Slayer and his father is a Watcher?” Buffy asked icily as she walked around the bed to stand next to her husband. “How about…you’re sorry for exposing two young boys to a side of their lives that they weren’t ready to know even existed.”
Angel flinched as Buffy’s voice rose. “I didn’t mean…”
“No, you never mean to do anything, Angel.” Giles clenched his fist, releasing it when Buffy took his hand. “You were ignorant…and arrogant…of everything concerning the Circle of the Black Thorn. You knew the risks involved and yet…did you think that you were above the side effects?”
“I thought I could control it.” Angel offered weakly.
Giles shook his head. “You can’t control the Mark of the Thorn. You are destined for great things, Angel. And you threw it away…”
“I destroyed the inner sanctum of the Order. They can’t hurt anyone anymore.” Angel protested as he stared at Giles.
“And it nearly cost you your soul, you bloody idiot!” Giles yelled, causing both Buffy and Angel to flinch. “And the lives of those who cared about you!”
Angel’s mouth dropped open, but he said nothing. The bedroom door slammed open and Anya, Ethan, and Novak rushed into the room.
Anya grabbed Angel’s arm. “What the hell are you doing?”
“Apologizing, apparently.” Giles growled, not taking his eyes off of the vampire.
“I, uh…I think it’s a little late for apologies, mate.” Ethan huffed.
An icy tear rolled down Angel’s cheek. “I thought I could control it.”
“You’ve tortured me in the past. You’ve broken Buffy’s heart on more than one occasion. You forced her to send you to Hell…do you have any idea what that did to her? You’ve hurt all of us, in one way or another, over the years. And yet, here we stand…in Los Angeles. Here to save your soul once again.”
Giles moved forward until he was standing directly in front of Angel. “Do you know what your worst mistake was? Do you have any fucking clue?”
“Giles…” Angel took a step back, only to find his back pressed against the wall.
“You put my children in danger.” Giles snarled as he grabbed the front of Angel’s shirt. “For that, I should kill you right now.”
Novak’s orange eyes widened. Ethan’s eyes darted between Buffy and Giles. He noticed that Buffy’s eyes held as much anger as Giles’ did.
“Rupert…” Ethan spoke softly.
A tear spilled onto Giles’ cheek. “I shouldn’t allow you to live.” He took a step back and shook his head. “But, you have much left to do in this world.”
Buffy placed her hand on Giles’ back. She felt him tremble under her touch. She watched as Angel moved from the wall towards the door. He looked back at them, sadness showing in his dark eyes.
“I’m leaving Wolfram & Hart.”
Giles stared back at him. “Do what you feel you must. The Senior Partners aren’t to be trusted. Though, I believe we told you that some years ago now.”
Angel was quiet for a moment and then ran his hand through his hair. “I…I am sorry. For everything you mentioned and so much more. I…I can help you…with your children.”
Buffy felt Giles tense. She couldn’t see his eyes at the moment because she was staring at Angel in disbelief, but she could imagine how dark they were.
“I believe you’ve ‘helped’ enough.” Giles responded thickly. “Come near them…and I will kill you.”
Angel nodded, respect for the man showing in his eyes. “You are a good father, Giles.”
Giles said nothing, just stood there and stared at the vampire. Angel cleared his throat and turned his eyes to Buffy.
“I am sorry.” He whispered softly before he walked out of the bedroom.
Novak followed Angel into the main room. Anya and Ethan exchanged a quick glance as Giles took a step back and stumbled. Buffy grabbed him quickly, preventing his fall.
Hearing the concern in Buffy’s voice, he offered her a weary smile. “Too much, too soon…perhaps.”
She led him to the bed and sighed. “Sit down for a few minutes…”
Even as he shook his head, he did as he was told. “I’d much prefer to find a shirt…and go see our children.”
Anya gestured towards the door. “I can do the ‘find a shirt’ thing…”
Buffy offered her a grateful smile. “Thank you.”
As Anya rushed out of the room, Ethan came forward and sat down beside of Giles. He looked at Giles’ chest and sighed.
“I was hoping that wouldn’t happen.”
Giles looked up, narrowing his eyes in confusion. When he realized what Ethan was looking at, he shrugged a shoulder.
“It could’ve been worse.” He grimaced as Buffy gingerly applied a salve to the blistered skin. “How are you?”
Ethan smirked. “Magick hangover…nothing I haven’t been through before. I’ll live.” He gestured at Giles’ bandaged arm. “How many stitches did it take?”
“I’ve no idea. Buffy?”
Buffy placed a large piece of gauze over the burn, careful to make sure that the tape didn’t touch the blistered skin. “Fourteen. But it shouldn’t scar too badly…I’ve gotten pretty good at stitches.”
Ethan nodded and then took a deep breath. “How much of what was said do you think Braden will remember?”
“All of it.” Giles and Buffy answered simultaneously.
Ethan cursed under his breath. “What are you going to do?”
Giles rubbed the side of his neck and sighed heavily. “I’ve always said that when they started asking questions, I’d be honest with them.”
Ethan nodded slowly as Giles continued.
“I just didn’t think the questions would start when Braden was five. I was hoping that he’d be able to just be oblivious for a while longer.”
Ethan chuckled softly. “I don’t think he’s ever been oblivious, Rupert. He’s a very intelligent child…he knows that certain things are different. How many five year olds know that they’re allergic to werewolf fur?”
Before Giles had a chance to respond, Anya came back into the room with one of Giles’ shirts in her hand. “Okay, here you go. Look…Haddie’s fussing…Willow thinks she’s hungry and she’s refusing the bottle. Braden and Lucas are bombarding Xander and Oz with questions…and…now they’re really wanting to see you.”
Giles smiled his appreciation as he took the shirt from Anya and slipped it on, with Buffy’s help. Anya glanced back into the main room and narrowed her eyes.
“Oh…and Angel and Novak are both gone.”
Buffy quickly buttoned the shirt and then rolled the cuffs twice…just the way Giles preferred. “Both of them?”
“Yeah…” Anya’s concern showed clearly. “Should we be worried about Novak?”
Giles shook his head. “No. He’ll be back after he’s spoken with Angel.” He met Buffy’s eyes and smiled softly. “Take me to see our children now?”
Buffy stood and helped Giles up. He wobbled slightly and she wrapped an arm around his waist.
“Yes.” He laid his arm over her shoulders and leaned down, kissing the top of her head. “I need some quality time with my family.”
She smiled gently and began the slow walk across the room. When they reached the door, Giles turned around and narrowed his eyes, slightly confused by the fact that neither Anya nor Ethan had moved at all.
“Are you coming?”
“Huh?” Anya asked, completely perplexed.
Ethan cleared his throat softly. “You said you need quality time with your family…”
“Yes, I do.” Giles offered them both a gentle smile. “Why are you still sitting there?”
Ethan blushed lightly and Anya grinned broadly.
Buffy opened the door and winced as she heard her daughter squalling. Giles smiled and gently nudged Buffy inside.
“Someone’s hungry.” He whispered softly as his eyes scanned the room.
Buffy nodded in agreement and moved to the side, allowing enough room for Anya and Ethan to enter behind them. She shook her head at the scene in front of them.
Willow was trying her best to give a bottle to a very reluctant Haddie. Braden was arguing furiously with Oz, demanding to see his father. Lucas was sitting on Xander’s knee, looking up at him and having a serious discussion about…teeth, as far as Buffy could tell.
The soft sound of the door closing quietened the room briefly, with the exception of Haddie loudly demanding to be fed. A smile appeared on Braden’s face and Lucas jumped from Xander’s knee.
“Daddy!” Both boys cried simultaneously and ran to their father.
Giles carefully knelt on the floor, grimacing as his sons rushed into his arms. Buffy quickly took Haddie from Willow and looked down, immediately aware of Giles’ pain.
Braden looked up with concern in his green eyes. “Are you okay, Daddy?”
Giles smiled and kissed the boy’s forehead. “I’m fine, Ru. Just somewhat sore…and fairly tired.”
Lucas narrowed his eyes. “Hurt Daddy?”
Giles tenderly stroked his younger son’s cheek. “I’ll be okay, Lucas.”
Buffy tapped Giles’ shoulder and motioned towards the bedroom when he looked up. “I’ll be back in a few minutes, okay?”
Giles nodded and gestured towards his crying daughter. “May I? Just for a second?”
Buffy smiled lovingly and handed the baby to him. Giles steadied himself and reached for Haddie, holding her securely in his arms as he placed a soft kiss on her head. She quietened somewhat, but the tears still streamed down her small face.
After a softly whispered ‘I love you’, he handed her back to Buffy and smiled. She leaned down and gave him a quick kiss before rushing down the small hallway and into their bedroom. He looked down at his bandaged arm when he felt a gentle pressure on the wound. He took a deep breath when he realized that the pressure came from Braden’s fingers carefully touching the gauze.
The boy looked up, his eyes glistening. “He hurt you.”
“It’ll heal, son.”
“ ‘Nother car?” Lucas asked, his eyes drawn to the white bandage.
Giles chuckled softly. “Probably.”
Braden suddenly crushed himself against his father’s chest, wrapping his small arms around Giles’ neck. Giles hissed in pain before he could stop himself, a sudden dizzy spell rushing over him as Braden let go quickly.
Ethan grabbed Giles’ shoulder to steady him. “Come on, Rupert…let’s get you on the lounge.” He glanced at Oz and smiled. “Give me a hand?”
Oz nodded quickly and went to Giles’ other side, grasping his arm carefully. Giles inhaled sharply as the two men helped him to his feet. He stood still for a moment and when the dizziness passed, offered them a smile.
They led him to the couch, Braden and Lucas following behind them. As soon as they had gotten Giles settled, the boys climbed up to sit on either side of him. Seemingly unhappy with his position, Lucas climbed onto Giles’ lap, sitting on his father’s right thigh and resting his head on his shoulder.
Giles curled his arm around his younger son protectively, using his other arm to pull Braden closer. Giles’ shirt hung loosely, the top few buttons undone. Catching a glimpse of his father’s chest, Lucas furrowed his brow and sat back up.
His small hand pulled the material open and revealed the large bandage. “What’s that?”
Braden moved to his knees, leaning over to look at what his brother had noticed. Giles sighed softly, wishing for the first time that his children weren’t so observant.
“It’s just a burn. It doesn’t really hurt all that much.”
Lucas nodded slowly, his eyes focused on the gauze. “Big teeth.”
Giles regarded the boy carefully. “Pardon?”
“That man had big teeth. And ‘ello eyes. I don’t like ‘ello. I like arng.”
Giles swallowed the lump that had suddenly formed in his throat. He was searching for a response when Braden softly asked a question.
“What’s a Watcher?” When Giles closed his eyes, Braden quickly continued. “He asked if I was going to be like you when I grow up. He said you were a Watcher. I don’t know what that is.”
Giles opened his eyes, which were glistening with unshed tears as he whispered to himself. “So young…too young…”
“And…he said Mummy is a Slayer. What does a Slayer do?”
“Saves the werld.” Lucas stated as he laid his head back on Giles’ shoulder.
A tear broke free and rolled down Giles’ face. Braden stared at him, concern and confusion in his eyes. “Daddy?”
Giles met Willow’s eyes and shook his head. “I can’t…”
Willow nodded in understanding and stood, gesturing towards the hallway even as she walked hurriedly. “I’ll get Buffy.”
Lucas gently patted his father’s back. “S’okay Daddy.”
The others exchanged nervous glances as another tear spilled down Giles’ cheek.
* * *
Buffy looked up when a knock sounded on the door, immediately opening before she had a chance to respond. Willow walked in and sighed.
“Sorry to bother you, Buffy.”
Buffy narrowed her eyes and switched Haddie to the other breast. “What’s wrong?”
“Braden just asked Giles what a Watcher and a Slayer are. And…he’s not dealing well.”
“Oh, God…” Buffy quickly grabbed a light blanket and draped it over her chest, allowing Haddie to continue feeding.
She rushed past Willow and down the hall, stopping when her eyes took in the tired and teary eyes of her husband. “Giles?”
Braden jumped off the couch and ran to his mother. “I made Daddy cry. I didn’t mean to, Mummy!”
She looked down into her son’s worried eyes and offered him a gentle smile. “I know, Ru. It’s okay.”
Giles swallowed and wiped his hand across his face. Lucas was still on his lap, his fingers lightly touching the tape holding the bandage in place on his chest.
Buffy shifted the baby, causing the blanket to slip. Willow grabbed it quickly, tucking it back into place. Buffy gave her a smile of gratitude and made her way to the couch. She sat down beside of him, placing her hand on his thigh.
“They’re too young, Buffy. My God…Lucas isn’t even three and he says that you save the world.”
“I two.” Lucas offered quietly.
Buffy sighed softly. “He doesn’t really understand what that means.”
Giles turned to her, tilting his head towards Braden. “He does. He’s five years old, Buffy. I didn’t want to have to explain this to a five year old.”
“Bay’s fibe. I two.” Lucas babbled as he snuggled against Giles.
Xander cleared his throat and knelt on the floor in front of Giles. “Would you like us to take the little man?”
Lucas lifted his head and looked at Xander. “I tired.”
Xander smiled warmly. “How about I read you a story and maybe we can take a nap?”
Lucas grinned. “You make funny voices?”
“Yeah, little man. I’ll make the funny voices.” He held out his arms and, after kissing his father’s cheek, Lucas allowed Xander to pick him up.
Xander stood and looked down at Buffy and Giles. “Just give us a call when you’re finished.”
Giles nodded and took a deep breath. “Thank you, Xander.”
Willow met Buffy’s eyes. “Haddie?”
Buffy chuckled softly and shook her head. “Still eating, but thanks.”
Willow gently ruffled Braden’s hair.
* * *
Braden had listened to his parents’ explanations with a level of concentration that Xander had yet to master. Not only had he listened, but he had asked questions requesting as much information as he could possibly receive.
“Angel is your friend.” Braden stated quietly, glancing at Giles’ arm.
Giles cleared his throat, carefully choosing his words. “At one time, yes…he was.”
“I, uh…not at the moment.” Giles answered softly.
“He’s a vampire. But…he’s a good vampire?”
“Most of the time.” Buffy answered, knowing that Giles was growing more uncomfortable with questions concerning Angel. “Angel has a soul. Which means he’s different than other vampires. He feels bad about the things he’s done…and now he tries to help people.”
“But he hurt Daddy.” His eyes clearly showed his confusion.
Buffy looked at Giles, unsure how to proceed. Giles took a deep breath.
“Sometimes…” He started and then shook his head. “Remember when you and Lucas were running through the living room and you ran into the coffee table and injured your leg?”
Braden nodded slowly, listening intently to his father.
“When Angel’s soul gets injured, then he has trouble remembering how to be good. It’s a vampire’s nature to be bad.”
“His soul was hurt?” When Giles nodded, the child tilted his head thoughtfully. “But, you fixed it?”
Braden was quiet for a few minutes and then looked at his mother. “If he was bad…you would have killed him?”
“Staked him.” She corrected gently. Of course, it meant the same thing…but, she didn’t want her son to associate her with a common killer.
“Because you’re a Slayer.” He said slowly, letting the words sink into his mind. He looked at his father. “And you’re a Watcher.”
“Yes. As was my father and my grandmother before me.”
“And you teach the Slayer?”
Giles smiled softly. “To some degree. I train the Slayer. I’m…”
Buffy smiled warmly as he trailed off. “Your father is the best Watcher ever. He’s taught me, he’s protected me, and…he’s loved me…for many years now. He’s very good at his job.”
“Will I be a Watcher too?”
“Only if you want to be. You can be whatever you want, Braden.” Giles replied with conviction.
Braden looked into his father’s eyes. “Did you want to be a Watcher?”
Buffy laughed softly. “No. Your father had very definite plans for his future. He was going to be a fighter pilot.”
“Or possibly a green grocer.” Giles added with a smile on his face. His smile faded slightly as he reached over and ran his fingers through Braden’s hair. “I wasn’t given a choice. But, I’m very proud of what I’ve achieved. It isn’t an easy job, but it’s extremely rewarding. You have a choice, Ru. You don’t have to make it now. You can be whatever you want to be…remember that, above all else.”
“And Luke? He can be a Watcher too?” When Giles nodded, Braden smiled. “Maybe we can be Watchers together. You know…when we’re old enough.”
Giles felt a sense of pride at his son’s words. Buffy gently squeezed his hand when she saw the smile tug at the corners of his mouth.
“If Slayers are always girls, will Haddie be one?”
“No.” Giles answered quickly. “Watchers can choose to become Watchers. Slayers are chosen by a higher power. They…do not have the privilege of becoming something else.”
“Oh.” Braden replied, not really understanding what his father meant.
Buffy grinned and pulled her son onto her lap. “You’ll understand one day. But, for now…how about you just be a normal five year old boy who loves his brother and sister and likes to build Lego cities with Xander?”
Braden giggled as Buffy tickled his ribs. When he met his father’s smiling eyes, his decision was made.
One day he was going to be just like Daddy.
He giggled harder as Giles joined in the ticklefest.