Timeline: Immediately after Shades of Grey
Synopsis: The best way under a Slayer’s skin is through her loved ones. Who knows that better than a demon?
Anya took a nervous breath and opened the door to Giles’ office. She chuckled softly as she walked in to find Giles lying face down on the couch, Buffy sitting on the backs of his thighs.
“Should I come back later?”
They both looked towards the door and Buffy laughed.
“Nothing going on here except for a deep tissue back rub.”
Giles groaned softly as Buffy moved off of him. “A rather painful one at that.”
Anya raised an eyebrow as Giles stood and reached for his shirt. As her eyes travelled over his back, she grinned.
“I was worried about your back…I’m going to take a guess and say that it was feeling okay last night.”
Giles blushed heavily and quickly slipped into his shirt, not turning to face her until it had been completely buttoned. Scratches on his back were one thing…scratches over his chest and stomach were something he really didn’t want to discuss with Anya.
He cleared his
throat, glancing at Buffy as he turned towards Anya. “Yes, well…um…how is that analysis from
Buffy glanced at her watch and smiled softly. “As much as I’d love to hang around and listen to analysis talk…I’ve got a lunch date with my mother and two little Gileses.”
Giles nodded as Buffy leaned up and kissed his cheek. “Come by afterwards? The four of us could pick Braden and Lucas up from school. Perhaps we could take them to see that animated film they were talking about, go out for an early dinner…have an early Friday night for once?”
Buffy’s smile grew. “They’d love that. I think I wouldn’t mind having an early night either to be honest.”
Her smile faded as Giles picked up his tie, wincing slightly with the movement. “Are you sure you don’t need to see a doctor?”
He gave her a warm smile and shook his head. “It’s more muscular than anything. A doctor would prescribe muscle relaxants…of which I have plenty at home. I’m fine, Buffy.”
Buffy regarded him carefully before looking at Anya. “Make sure he doesn’t lift anything while I’m gone?”
Anya snorted in amusement. “Yeah…Giles is even more stubborn than Xander.”
Giles rolled his eyes. “I’m a grown man, who has perfect hearing by the way…and I know what my limitations are.”
Buffy grinned up at him. “Yeah, you know your limitations…you just choose to ignore them sometimes. And…your back isn’t going to get better if you keep pushing it.”
Anya opened her mouth, closing it quickly when Giles snapped his eyes to hers. A slow grin appeared on her lips.
“I wasn’t going to say anything.”
“For some reason, I have my doubts about that statement.” Giles replied, his voice stern but his eyes sparkling with amusement.
Buffy chuckled, running her hand down Giles’ arm before walking towards the door. “See you in a couple of hours.”
Giles smiled and gave her a gentle nod. “Have a nice lunch. Give my regards to Joyce.”
“Will do. See you later, Anya.”
Anya narrowed her eyes in slight confusion, calling out a ‘Bye, Buffy’ as Buffy breezed out of the room. Tilting her head, she met Giles’ eyes.
“You sure I didn’t interrupt anything?”
Giles laughed softly. “I’m positive, Anya. It was nothing more than what was stated.”
As Anya nodded
uncertainly, Giles prodded her on his earlier question. “The analysis from the samples sent from
“Oh…it’s going slow.” She answered as she moved to the couch and sat down. “I do know that it isn’t something that has been in this dimension for at least four centuries. The blood is toxic to humans, but not fatal. And…how did you know?”
He arched an eyebrow, sitting down in a chair facing her as his fingers nimbly knotted his tie. “I’m sorry?”
She sighed heavily and lowered her voice. “We haven’t told anyone yet…not even Ethan. How did you know?”
A smile formed in his eyes as well as on his lips. “You turned down wine. And…I caught a glimpse of Xander touching your abdomen. I wasn’t positive, but I had a strong feeling. How far along are you?”
“Eight weeks. But…you’re not going to say anything, are you?”
Giles shook his head affectionately. “It isn’t my news to tell, Anya. I relayed my suspicion to Buffy, only because she couldn’t understand why I tried to stop you from falling.”
“Yeah, that was a bit weird…landing on you like that. Xander was very appreciative though…and showed me many times last night how sorry he was that he wasn’t close enough to help.”
Giles cleared his throat. “Yes, and that would be much more information than I need, Anya. I’m just pleased that no harm came to you or the baby.”
Anya sobered and took a deep breath. “I’m sorry you got hurt.”
“I assure you, I’m fine.” Giles stated quickly.
Anya nodded slowly and then looked around the room. “Where’s Callie? She always comes to work with you.”
“Mm…Oz took her downstairs a while ago at Buffy’s request. Something about me not throwing a tennis ball. As if I’m a complete invalid or something.” He grumbled.
Anya snorted a laugh as she stood. “I really don’t think she thinks you’re an invalid. Especially after seeing the state of your back.”
She grinned brightly,
walking to the door as Giles blushed heavily.
“I’ll let you know what I find out about the demon goo from
“Yes…please do.” He responded quietly as she walked out and closed the door behind her.
* * *
Two and a half hours later, Giles looked up from the papers strewn across his desk when he heard his youngest child’s excited squeal coming from the hallway. Callie lifted her head, her tail wagging as she stood in her bed and stretched.
A grin formed on his face as the two children ran into his office, Callie bolting from her bed to greet the new arrivals. Evan giggled as Callie playfully knocked him to the floor and started licking his face.
Haddie glanced at her younger brother as she ran towards her father, a grimace on her face. “Evan, you have dog slobber all over you!”
Callie and Evan both looked at her as Giles picked her up and gave her a kiss. Evan laughed again as he and Callie resumed their wrestling match. Buffy rolled her eyes in amusement as she made her way to Giles, giving him a light kiss as he placed Haddie back on the ground.
“How was lunch?” He asked softly, running his fingers along her arm.
“Interesting.” She answered, sparking a flicker of curiosity in her husband’s eyes. “How’s your back feeling?”
“Much better. What was interesting about lunch?”
She sighed as she pulled an object out of her pocket. “I realize that once I give this to you, you’ll lose yourself in your books and then we’ll have to postpone our plans for the evening…but…”
She shrugged and then placed the heavy item on the palm of his hand. He raised an eyebrow as he looked down at the object.
“Where did you get this?”
“Someone slipped it through Mom’s mail slot. I thought you’d like to have a look at it…it being an old coin or whatever.” She furrowed her brow when he looked up sharply. “What?”
“I don’t have to consult my books for this. It isn’t an old coin, it’s a token.” He glanced back down as he turned the token over in his hand again. “I haven’t seen one in nearly forty years.”
“Oh. What kind of token? Train? Car wash?”
Giles shook his head
slowly and licked his lips. “I need you
“Giles, what’s going on?” She asked cautiously as she watched him rub his thumb over the writing on the back of the token.
He glanced at the two children happily playing with Callie before meeting her eyes. “This is in direct relation to you, the Slayer.”
“Huh?” Her eyes filled with confusion as she lifted the token from his hand. “What do you mean?”
Giles swallowed and ran his hand through his hair. “In the past, tokens such as these were given to certain people…in order to draw the Slayer out of hiding.”
Buffy shook her head, clearly not understanding. “Okay, first of all…I’m not in hiding. Second of all, how is giving some random person a piece of bronze supposed to draw a Slayer out of hiding. And third of all? Why?”
“Brass.” Giles stated as he sat down on the corner of his desk.
He inhaled softly when he heard the exasperation in her voice. “It’s brass, not bronze. They aren’t given to random people, they’re given to those who have close ties to the Slayer. As for why…it’s much like a challenge to a duel.”
“Some weirdo wants to fight me? Why doesn’t he just catch me out while I’m shopping or after I’ve dropped the kids off at school?”
Giles glanced at their children again and lowered his voice. “It’s more complicated than that, Buffy. It isn’t merely a fight that the owner of the tokens is looking for. That’s how they worked when they were used…the tokens are a means of threatening the Slayer’s loved ones.”
Buffy’s eyes widened. “What?”
“Whoever this person is…he’s trying to draw you out. He’s challenging you…and he’s just said that if you disregard the challenge, your mother will pay the price.”
Buffy thought for a moment, running Giles’ words through her head. “How do I find him?”
Haddie’s laughter interrupted Giles’ response. As he and Buffy turned to watch their children play, a thought raced through Giles’ mind.
Buffy snapped her eyes back to him as he scrambled to the bookcase behind his desk and pulled a book down from the second shelf. “What is it?”
He flipped through the pages quickly, not wanting to alarm his wife unnecessarily. He glanced at the writing on the token again and bit his lip.
“Giles, what – ”
He swallowed as he looked up from the book and met her eyes. “It isn’t your mother that this person has threatened.”
She instantly knew what he meant. Their children had spent the previous night at her mother’s house. And…what was the easiest way to ensure that a person accepts a challenge?
Threaten that person’s children.
“Oh my God.” She whispered as her eyes glistened. “Giles…”
He opened his desk drawer and grabbed his keys. Though he felt his panic heighten inside of him, he forced a cheery tone into his voice.
“Hadley? Evan? What would you say to going to pick your brothers up early from school?”
Haddie grinned brightly. “Yay!”
Evan smiled as Callie licked his face. “Callie’s coming too, yeah?”
Haddie rolled her eyes at her younger brother. “Well, she can’t stay here by herself, can she?”
Evan narrowed his eyes as he stood up. “I was just asking.”
Buffy cleared her throat as she tried to hide her anxiety. “Okay, no arguing. Let’s go get your brothers.”
Giles slipped the token into his front pocket before reaching for Callie’s lead. He didn’t want to tell Buffy what the previous outcomes of such challenges had been…but he knew that he was going to have to.
Out of eight known token challenges, five resulted in the immediate death of the Slayer. Two were injured so badly that it was necessary that they be deactivated from duty and replaced by the next in line.
The other…the one who had been challenged when Giles was a child…the one whose token had been used as an educational tool during his training…she was left in a coma from which she never recovered.
Neither her Watcher nor her father were able to let her go. Her heart and lungs finally gave out ten years later. She had never regained consciousness.
A Slayer had never won a token challenge.
Then again, a Slayer had never had four children to protect.
Giles tried his best to keep the car at the posted speed limit. But, as his anxiety grew, he found it extremely difficult. He cursed under his breath when a traffic light turned red as he approached.
Buffy was faring no better, though she was attempting to concentrate on the chatter going on between Haddie and Evan. She nearly chuckled when she heard Evan try to bring Callie into their conversation by asking Callie what she thought about what Haddie had just said.
Had Buffy not been so worried about her two older children, she would have laughed. As it were, she tightened her hand around her husband’s and stared out the window…trying her best to keep her tears at bay.
Despite being caught by three separate traffic lights, Giles made it to the school fairly quickly. As he and Buffy both started to get out of the car, their eyes met. They made the decision quickly and silently. Buffy gave him a gentle nod and closed her door.
Giles was the calmer one of the two. At least, he portrayed himself as being the calmer one. Buffy knew that inside, his heart was racing as fast as hers was. He was just as worried as she, he just had better control of his outward emotions.
And if she were to go in and sign them out of the rest of their classes for the day, they would know something was wrong as soon as they took one look at her.
She watched her husband until he walked into the school. Plastering a fake smile on her lips, she turned in her seat to watch the two youngest Giles. Callie looked at Buffy and tilted her head, her ears perking.
Buffy gave her a small smile, to which Callie wagged her tail.
* * *
As they walked into the house, nudging their backpacks off their shoulders, Braden smiled at his younger brother.
“Hey Luke, show Dad what you found today.”
Lucas’ eyes lit up as he dropped his bag to the floor and knelt beside of it, quickly pulling the zipper open. “I almost forgot!”
Giles locked the front door as Buffy bent down to pick up Haddie’s shoes that she had kicked off as soon as she ran into the house. He dropped his keys onto the small hall table and smiled softly.
“You seem excited, Lucas.”
Lucas nodded as he rummaged around in his bag. “Yeah, it’s so cool! Bay said you might be able to tell me how old it is.”
Giles narrowed his eyes. “How old it is?”
“It looks old.” Lucas stated as he pulled his hand out of his bag and held the object towards his father. “See?”
Buffy’s eyes widened, dropping Haddie’s shoes to the floor, as Giles took the token from Lucas. “Where did you find that?”
“On the front steps at school. I thought this guy dropped it, but when I asked him, he said it wasn’t his.” Lucas answered quickly before looking at Giles. “Do you think you can figure out how old it is, Dad?”
Giles nodded slowly, staring at the token. “I’ll, uh…see what I can find out. Why don’t the two of you get started on your homework?”
Lucas nodded and picked his bag back up. “Okay.”
As Lucas trotted off towards his room, Braden studied his father closely. “What’s wrong, Dad?”
“Hm?” Giles answered distractedly as he curled his fingers around the token and lifted his gaze. “Oh, nothing. It’s just…rather interesting, this old coin.”
Braden narrowed his eyes slightly, not really convinced by his father’s statement. Knowing better than to push him for any more information, Braden simply sighed and looked at his mother.
“So, I’ll just go start on my homework, then.”
After Braden walked down the hall, Giles made his way into the living room with Buffy following him. He stared at the token as he sat down on the couch, the sounds of his youngest two children’s laughter coming from the playroom down the hall sounding very far away.
Buffy tried to reel her panic in as she sat down next to him. “So, how do I find this guy?”
Her eyes glistened as she shook her head. “No, don’t you dare try to talk me out of this! He’s threatened our children!”
He looked up sharply, clenching and releasing his jaw. “I’m well aware of that fact, Buffy.”
She cursed herself softly, seeing the anxiety in his eyes. “I’m sorry…”
Giles swallowed and glanced towards the hall. “I vowed to protect them from the moment they were conceived.”
Buffy opened her mouth, but remained quiet for a moment as she heard him whisper an addition to his statement.
“In this instance, I can’t. I’d give my life for them…but it wouldn’t be taken this time.”
“Giles, we – ”
He turned his watery eyes to hers. “I don’t think I can protect you this time.”
Hearing the fear in his trembling voice, she moved closer to him and covered the hand holding the token with hers.
“This isn’t about you protecting me, Giles. This is about us protecting our children.”
He shook his head slowly. “You don’t understand. This is about you. It has nothing to do with our children, Buffy…and everything to do with you. Whoever this is…he doesn’t care about them. He cares about calling you out into the open. He cares about…”
She lifted her free hand and gently wiped away a tear from his cheek as he trailed off. “Talk to me. Tell me about these tokens.”
“A Slayer has never won a token challenge.” He whispered painfully. “Out of eight challenges, only two Slayers even survived. Three, if you count Esme.”
Buffy narrowed her eyes in confusion. “You said none have won…but two, maybe three, lived?”
“Two survived. I wouldn’t exactly say that they ‘lived’…and I definitely wouldn’t consider their challenge outcomes to be successes.”
He took a deep breath and pulled his hand out from under hers. He thought for a moment and then lifted the token for her to see.
“The purpose of these is to force a Slayer into battle with an unknown foe. The purpose of that battle is to forcefully take a Slayer off of the active list. Eight challenges have been given, and accepted, in the past. Eight Slayers have been taken off of the active list.”
He threw the token across the room, not caring where it rolled.
“Five died during battle. Two were injured so badly that they had to be decommissioned. One of those had severe brain damage and ended up in a psychiatric hospital for the remainder of her life. No one knows what became of the other.”
Buffy swallowed thickly. “Who was Esme?”
Giles lowered his eyes. “She was challenged when I was eight years old. She died when I was eighteen. Esme never regained consciousness…and her Watcher never left her side. Her token was used to educate the students at the Academy on a practice that was seldom used.”
“Hers was the one that you saw forty years ago?”
He nodded slowly, lifting his head to look into her eyes. “Her Watcher couldn’t protect her. Just as I can’t protect you. But, he wasn’t Esme’s husband…or the father of her children.”
“But he obviously loved her.” She whispered, running her fingers through his hair.
“Yes. He loved her very much.” He answered, resting his hand on her thigh.
“Who did they give the token to?”
“Him…her Watcher, Carlos Reyes. The one person they knew she would die for.” His voice quavered as his hand moved up the outside of her thigh, coming to a rest near her hip. “They know you would give your life for the children. They also know I can do nothing to stop it.”
“How does it work?”
He inhaled shakily and stood suddenly. “I…I need tea.”
With that, he turned and made his way into the kitchen. She followed quickly and grabbed his arm, turning him to face her.
“You don’t need tea. You’re using tea to run from what you don’t want to tell me. Our children are involved, Giles…you need – ”
He cut her off with a kiss. She could feel his passion and desire hidden underneath his desperation and fear. He thrust his tongue into her mouth as he backed her against the door of the refrigerator.
He picked her up effortlessly and settled her core over his burgeoning erection. She broke the kiss quickly and looked into his eyes, both of them panting heavily as he rocked his hips against her.
“Giles, not here…not like this. The kids…”
He stopped his movements instantly and nodded slowly, easing her back down to the floor. “I’m sorry, I…” He sighed, not knowing how to finish his apology.
“Please, tell me how it works.” She whispered, her hand resting on the side of his neck as she gazed into his eyes. “Please, Rupert…”
He swallowed and took her hand, leading her to the kitchen table and gesturing for her to sit. He turned his chair so that he was positioned directly in front of her and sat down.
She gave him a few moments to collect his thoughts. When she saw his brow furrow as he hesitated, she lightly squeezed his hand.
He spoke softly, his words spilling out of his mouth.
“There are losses either way. Should you accept the challenge, chances are extremely high that the children and I will lose you. If you decline, we’ll lose our children. Hiding isn’t an option, he’ll find us…and then he’ll slaughter the children in front of us before continuing. It isn’t a vampire, the fact that he was in the daylight and in the presence of Braden and Lucas proves that much, at least. That leads me to believe that he’s a demon capable of taking on a human appearance when needed.”
He continued, not even acknowledging that she had spoken his name.
“He’ll find you when he’s ready. He’ll ask whether or not you accept the challenge. There will be no more time to prepare…as soon as you give your answer, the battle will begin.” He glanced around the room and licked his lips. “He isn’t a vampire, which means he doesn’t need an invitation to enter. We’ll need to set up wards as soon as possible.”
Giles ran his hand through his hair in a nervous gesture. “If we can keep him from just barging in, it will give us at least a few more minutes. Or, he could be a half-breed…a demon who looks human. Most half-breeds are fairly peaceful though.”
Buffy sighed as his disjointed ramble continued. “Giles…what happens if I win the challenge?”
When he met her eyes, she exhaled deeply. “There’s no question of whether I accept or not. You know that I have to.”
“I know.” He whispered sadly. “I also know that if anyone can win this challenge, it’s you.”
“But you’re scared.” She stated unnecessarily.
“Terrified.” He corrected as he trailed his fingertips down the side of her face. “Probably more so than with the First.”
“Braden knows something’s wrong. He can read you almost as well as I can.”
Giles dropped his hand from her face, resting both palms on her thighs. “I should research…find demons that have the ability to look human.”
He shook his head, tears welling in his eyes. “I can’t sit here and do nothing but wait, Buffy. I’ve never been good at waiting when your life is in danger. I’m even worse when our children are being threatened. I have to do something…and research is all I can do at this point.”
“I’ll help.” She whispered, reaching up to caress the side
of his face. “We could call
“No.” He interrupted quickly. “Getting them involved would only put them in danger. I…I can’t do that to them.”
She started to argue the point, but realized that he was right. Their friends he could protect…even if it was by not getting them involved. At least he knew that they would be safe.
She nodded slowly and moved her hand to the back of his neck. “We’ll get through this, Giles.”
He said nothing, but allowed her to draw him towards her waiting lips. He kissed her slowly and, though she seemed somewhat calm outwardly, he could taste the bitter taste of fear on her tongue.
The wards had been put into place, protecting the house from anyone trying to get in. Research had yielded a few possibilities, but nothing definite. They had forced their emotions into hiding during dinner, determined to have a normal Giles family dinner…which included laughter, some forced and some not. Each of their children had a natural sense of humour that never failed to make them laugh.
And now, they were asleep. Giles and Buffy were checking on them for the fourth time since they’d gone to bed. Four children, two tokens…only two of them had been threatened. One of them was Lucas. They didn’t know which of the other three had been threatened as well. And it didn’t matter which one it was, it mattered that one of them was in danger.
Giles nodded at Buffy’s soft whisper, continuing to gaze into Haddie’s room. Evan had insisted on sleeping with her tonight, but refused to give a reason other than ‘because I want to’. Giles was fairly certain that, even though they had tried to disguise it, Evan had picked up on his parents’ anxiety.
“I’m not sure that sleep will find me tonight.” He replied, looking down at her.
She nodded slowly, confirming that she felt the same, and took hold of his hand. “Come to bed with me, Giles.”
After another lingering look inside the room, and a pause at each of the older boys’ rooms, he followed her into their bedroom. When she closed the bedroom door, as she usually did, he furrowed his brow.
“I – ”
She reached up and pressed two fingers over his lips. “I know…you’d rather leave it open, just in case. So would I.”
Confusion shone in his eyes. She took a deep breath and lowered her hand.
“I feel almost selfish for what I’m getting ready to say, but…I want to make love with you tonight.”
Giles regarded her carefully, looking deep into her eyes as he sat down on the edge of the bed. “Why do you feel ‘almost selfish’?”
“There’s real danger, Giles. I mean…bad things are going to happen…” She moved between his legs and ran her fingers through his hair, tilting his head back slightly as she bent down to brush her lips across his. “And…I want you so badly right now.”
When he offered her a gentle smile, she raised an eyebrow. “What?”
His hands moved to her hips, his thumbs edging under the hem of her shirt to stroke her soft skin. “You do remember that I nearly took you in the kitchen earlier, yes?”
She nodded slowly, feeling her pulse quicken as his hands moved underneath her shirt and up her sides, pushing the shirt up with his slow movements.
“It’s human nature. We seek comfort in times of strife. We crave the touch of a loved one when we fear the worst. It’s a normal reaction.” He leaned forward and pressed a tender kiss to her exposed navel before looking up to meet her eyes once more. “And I want you as well, Buffy. I don’t consider it a selfish notion…not at all.”
She shivered lightly as his hands continued upwards, pausing when his fingers reached her bra. His voice was rich and deep as he continued.
“It isn’t about sex. It’s about love…and life…and embracing both instead of drowning in desperation.” He licked his lips as she nodded. Removing his hands from her body, he started unbuttoning his shirt as he watched her pull her shirt over her head, dropping it to the floor. “And I would much rather drown in you than in desperation.”
A small smile played at her lips as he discarded his shirt. As soon as his upper body was bare, she placed her hands on his chest and pushed him backwards onto the bed, climbing on top of him as he fell back.
“How can you make something that’s so corny sound so…beautiful?”
“Must be the accent.” He murmured as he slipped his hand behind her neck and pulled her down for a kiss.
* * *
Braden woke up and rubbed his eyes as the soft light from the hall spilled into his room. “Luke?”
Lucas walked into his older brother’s room, rubbing his left arm nervously. “I had another one.”
Braden moved over in the bed and waved Lucas over. “Come on and tell me about it.”
Lucas closed the door and ran towards the bed. He climbed up and slipped under the covers, biting his lip as he tried to keep from crying. “It was really bad this time, Bay. There was this guy…and he had me and Evan…and…he was going to hurt us.”
Braden sighed softly and stroked Lucas’ hair. “I think you need to tell Mum and Dad about these.”
When Lucas started to protest, Braden shook his head. “No, Luke…listen. They’re not going to think you’re weird or that something’s wrong with you.”
Lucas’ bottom lip trembled. “What if they do?”
“Okay, I’m training to be a Watcher…Haddie sees spirits. Why would they think you’re weird for having dreams that sometimes come true? Mum has them too. Dad calls them ‘prophecy dreams’. All Slayers have them. Dad’s had a couple too, but not lately.”
Lucas’ eyes widened. “How do you know?”
Braden took a deep breath and propped himself up on his elbow. “I heard one of the older students talking about it at the Academy, so I asked Dad if it was true. He told me it was. So, they’re not going to think anything’s wrong with you if you tell them.”
Lucas thought about it for a moment, his fingers absently rubbing at the blanket. “Will you be there with me when I tell them?”
Braden nodded and laid back down. “If you want me to be.”
“Can I stay in here with you?”
Braden closed his eyes as he yawned. “Yeah, if you’re quiet.”
“I’ll be quiet.” Lucas whispered. “The dreams aren’t as bad when I’m with you, because I know you wouldn’t let anything bad happen to me.”
Braden opened his eyes and looked at his brother. “No, I wouldn’t. Go back to sleep, Luke. I’ll be right here.”
Lucas nodded and closed his eyes. “Thanks, Bay.”
Braden kept a close eye on his brother until he was sure Lucas had fallen back asleep. Only then did he close his eyes again.
* * *
Buffy groaned softly as Giles moved slowly within her, his lips warm against the side of her neck. Her arms were wrapped tightly around his back, holding him to her as she lifted her hips to meet his thrusts.
“Love you…” She murmured, sliding her right hand down his spine.
He lifted his head, placing a trail of soft kisses along her jaw to her lips. “I love you.”
She gasped as he pulled her bottom lip into his mouth, gently nipping it with his teeth before soothing it with the tip of his tongue. She felt the healing scratches along his back and thought about how much tonight contrasted with last night.
Last night he was fucking her, slamming his hips against her as the most deliciously obscene words sprayed from his mouth in an effort to make her come harder…faster. Tonight, he was making love with her…whispering the sweetest words of love and adoration she’d ever heard in between his gentle, loving kisses.
Last night there was no fear, no threats to anyone, no challenges that needed to be taken. Tonight, they were both terrified of what was to happen. There was the fear of not knowing when it would happen, but knowing that the danger was imminent.
But, most of all…there was love. The love they had for one another, the love they had for their children…that was the only thing of importance at this moment.
She felt the familiar sensation of her impending orgasm as his mouth moved back to her neck, his tongue gliding along her flesh as his fingers intertwined with hers…his hand pressing the back of hers against the pillow under her head.
“Giles…” She groaned, tilting her head back as his mouth moved to her throat. “God, Rupert…”
His groan vibrated against her skin, his thrusts shortening as his cock thickened within her. He ran his tongue along her throat, up to her chin.
“Buffy…so close, love…” He whispered as he straightened his arms, pushing himself deeper as he looked into her eyes. “Come with me.”
Her orgasm broke free, her warm fluids gushing over him, taking him over the edge with her. He lowered his mouth to hers, swallowing her groans as he moaned into her mouth. Her body trembled beneath him as he flooded her inner walls with his come, but continued to thrust.
The bedsprings creaked softly as he pushed harder, urging her to come again. She complied when his free hand moved between their bodies, his thumb pressing against her swollen clitoris.
This time, he swallowed a scream instead of a groan.
He brought her down slowly, easing her down from her last orgasm with a tenderness that filled her heart with more love than she could have ever imagined. When his softening cock slipped from her and he moved to her side, she moved with him…unwilling to relinquish his lips just yet.
He gently pulled his hand from hers, wrapping his arms around her as he slowly ended the kiss. Both breathing heavily, their hearts racing, their trembling fingers stroking one another’s skin…he looked into her eyes and whispered words to her with a conviction she hadn’t heard in years.
“You will be the first Slayer to win.”
The tone of his voice, the belief shining in his green eyes, the power of his words…
She gasped softly, tears welling in her eyes as she swallowed the lump that had formed in her throat. There was no doubt that he believed in her, that he always had believed in her. He may not be able to physically help her in this battle, but she could feel him in her soul. She could feel his power, his determination…and those were stronger than their fear combined.
She nodded slowly and leaned into him, her breath warm against his lips.
“Yes, I will be.” She whispered before their lips met again.
* * *
Nearly forty-five minutes away, Ethan woke suddenly when he reached for Michael and only found warm sheets. His eyes widened as he looked towards the foot of the bed.
Michael stood at the foot of the bed, trembling in fear…duct tape over his mouth and an intruder’s hand wrapped around his throat. Instinctively, Ethan jumped from the bed to help his husband.
The intruder shook his head, tightening his grip on Michael. “Now, now…you move too quickly, he’ll be dead before you find out what to do to save him.”
Ethan stopped, his heart racing with fear. He looked into Michael’s eyes as he spoke to the intruder.
“What do you want?”
“It’s quite simple, really.” The man’s voice was eerily calm. “You get dressed…and then the three of us are going to see an old friend of yours.”
“What?” Ethan whispered as he looked at the man.
“I could smell your magic from miles away. I need your help. You help me, he lives. You refuse, he dies.” He loosened his hold on Michael and smiled at Ethan. “As I said, it’s all quite simple, really.”
Ethan nodded and, with no further hesitation, pulled a change of clothes from the closet.
Ethan glanced at the ‘man’, who had introduced himself as Padaler, as they walked along the path to Giles’ front porch. He was sure that the ‘man’ wasn’t a man at all, but couldn’t identify the species of demon.
“I’m not sure what Rupert’s done to you, but I am sure that this isn’t the way to go about rectifying the problem.”
Padaler grinned at him, his hand gripping the back of Michael’s shirt as they walked. “The Watcher is of no concern to me.”
Ethan stopped suddenly, his eyes widening. “If you hurt anyone in there, Rupert will not stop until he’s hunted you down and ripped you apart…literally.”
Padaler chuckled, gently pushing Michael up the four steps. “I appreciate your concern. Now, please…dispense of these barriers for me. I’m on a rather tight schedule.”
Ethan hesitated and Padaler pressed his sharp nails through Michael’s shirt and into his skin, causing Michael to cry out in pain.
“Please, Mr. Rayne…I don’t want to have to kill him, but I will if you don’t do what I ask.”
Ethan swallowed thickly and took a deep breath. He quickly mumbled a short burst of words, hoping that he could make a connection with Rupert before Padaler realized what he was doing. Before he was forced to remove the wards that Rupert had obviously put up to fend off this creature.
He felt the connection snap into place and sent a brief, but urgent message before closing the line and setting to work.
* * *
“Rupert! Please, God, WAKE UP!”
Giles’ eyes snapped open, his heart racing as he bolted upright. Buffy was on alert instantly, sitting up and staring at him in alarm.
“Giles! What is it?”
“Ethan.” He stated softly as he climbed out of bed. “Get dressed quickly.”
Confused and frightened, Buffy jumped out of bed and pulled on the first thing she could find…which happened to be the nightgown she had discarded during their second round of love making that night.
“We can’t go after Ethan tonight, Giles.”
Giles inhaled sharply, the scent of Ethan’s magic heavy, and shook his head. “He’s here. There’s trouble.”
“Check on the kids! I’ll – ” She interrupted herself as she swung the bedroom door open, light from the living room edging into the hallway. “Did you leave the living room light on?”
Giles shook his head and pushed past her, racing down the short length of the hall and coming to a dead stop as he ran into the living room. Buffy’s shoulder knocked into his arm as she ran around him, stopping with a sharp gasp a little in front of him.
“Oh my God!”
Ethan looked up, tears in his eyes and a very frightened Braden in his arms. The boy’s mouth had been duct taped, just as the other three children’s mouths were. Callie stood off to the side, a deep growl rumbling in her chest and her fur bristling along her back.
“I’m sorry.” He whispered brokenly. “He was going to kill Michael, I…God, I’m sorry.”
Michael sat next to Ethan, Haddie in his arms. Tears streamed down her face as she looked at her parents. Michael’s throat was red from Padaler’s earlier grip, the back of his shirt was nearly saturated with blood.
Giles’ heart raced in his chest, his throat suddenly dry as he looked at the intruder in question. Padaler stood in the middle of the room…Lucas and Evan flanking him. Padaler had his left hand on Lucas’ head, his right on Evan’s. He grinned maniacally.
“Hello, Slayer. Might want to call off the dog.”
Buffy started to take a step forward, halted by Giles’ firm grip on her arm. She opened her mouth to question him, without taking her eyes off Padaler, but closed it when she heard his gruff voice.
“Ethan, Michael…take Braden and Hadley downstairs please. Take Callie with you.”
“I…” Ethan began, stopping when Giles turned his rage-darkened eyes to him.
“Now. Tend to Michael’s wounds, watch the children. Don’t argue with me, Ethan.” He glanced at his beloved boxer. “Callie.”
Callie looked up at him, flicking her eyes back to the man in the centre of the living room. Giles spoke her name again, this time giving her an order.
“Callie…go with Braden. Now.”
Callie seemed torn, but backed away slowly before turning and making her way to Braden.
Braden shook his head furiously, his eyes widening as he stared at his father. Haddie wrapped her arms tightly around Michael’s neck as he stood, wobbling slightly under the pain coursing through his back.
Ethan whispered another apology as they walked past Buffy and Giles. Giles merely gave him a quick nod of acceptance, his eyes locked on the man holding their other two children hostage. Hearing the basement door open and close, Buffy and Giles both took a step forward.
Padaler’s fingers rubbed the boys’ hair as he tilted his head to the side and smiled at Buffy. “So, now we have a choice to make.”
“Seems so.” Buffy replied as she looked at the children. “You okay?”
Lucas and Evan both nodded, fear evident in their green eyes.
Buffy slowly met Padaler’s eyes, hers darkening dangerously. “Let them go.”
Padaler raised an eyebrow. “You accept the challenge then? That was fairly easy.”
“You knew it would be.” Giles responded coldly.
Padaler shrugged and removed his hands from the boys’ heads. “I nearly chose you. But, I realized that you would sacrifice yourself for her. And that just wouldn’t do.”
The demon smiled as he glanced at the two boys. “Run along children. And remember…don’t play with strangers.”
Lucas and Evan ran to their parents, who both knelt and wrapped their arms around them. Buffy kissed them both, well aware that it could possibly be the last time she would ever see them.
“Go downstairs.” She whispered softly. “And stay there until Daddy comes to get you, okay?”
Giles gingerly removed the duct tape from the boys’ mouths, urging them to remain silent as he did. He looked into Lucas’ eyes as he lovingly stroked his cheek.
“Tell Ethan that I understand and that I’m not angry with him.”
Giles shook his head quickly, glancing up as the demon began to pace impatiently. “No. Take Evan downstairs now. Please, Lucas…go.”
Lucas nodded and took Evan’s hand before kissing his mother’s cheek. “I love you, Mum.”
Buffy forced a smile onto her face as she wiped a tear away. “I love you too. Now, please…do as your father says.”
As Lucas led Evan to the basement door, Buffy and Giles both stood back up. Padaler stopped pacing as the basement door closed and locked. He glared at Giles, narrowing his eyes.
“I’ll not accept your life for hers. And you are not allowed to help her.”
“I know.” Giles answered softly. “But, you could at least have the courtesy to allow a fair match. And, as she is dressed now, a fair match it would not be.”
Padaler thought for a moment and then gave a quick nod. “That is a fair request.”
Giles refused to lower his eyes from the demon. “Buffy, go get changed. Make it quick, love.”
A grin flitted across Padaler’s face. “In fact, let’s say that if you’re not back within thirty seconds, your Watcher…your husband dies.”
Buffy’s eyes widened. Giles glanced at her, gently tugging her hand.
“Grab a change of clothes and bring it in here.”
She nodded quickly and squeezed his hand before letting it go and running towards the bedroom. Padaler watched her until she was out of sight.
“Beautiful specimen. I think she’s probably the most beautiful Slayer I’ve seen.”
“Why Buffy?” Giles asked, ignoring the demon’s statement. “Why challenge her?”
Padaler’s eyes darkened. “Because she killed my brother. It’s the custom of my people. Fifteen years after the wrongful death of a family member, the death must be avenged.”
Giles’ eyes narrowed as Buffy rushed back into the room, her clothing in her arms.
Padaler stood tall, his eyes flickering with pride. “Of the Laverian clan. You know of us?”
Giles nodded slowly as Buffy dressed quickly. “I am a Watcher.”
Padaler’s eyes grew dark. “Did you watch your Slayer murder my brother?”
“Huh?” Buffy asked as she moved to Giles’ side, now fully dressed and ready for combat.
The demon stared at Buffy, his hands clenching into fists. “Fifteen years ago, to this day.”
Without thinking, Giles ran towards the bookshelf. He stopped when the demon barked an order for him to halt.
“What do you think you’re doing, Watcher?” Padaler growled.
“My, uh…my journals are kept on the bookshelf. The details of the demons that Buffy has slain over the years are in those journals.” Giles explained, glancing at Buffy.
“And why exactly do you think I care?”
Giles cleared his throat, hoping that the demon didn’t realize that he was stalling. “Perhaps this is a misunderstanding. I would like confirmation of the incident you’re referring to. If it isn’t documented that Buffy slew a Brishkan fifteen years ago, then your challenge would be unfounded. And you would have to live with the fact that you had taken an innocent woman’s life.”
Giles continued, slowly edging towards the bookshelf. “From what I remember of my studies, the Brishkan elders do not take kindly to their people harming innocent humans. Murdering an innocent human would, no doubt, have some extremely serious consequences.”
Padaler snarled. “Fine, check your books.”
What Giles neglected to tell the demon was that not only did he record the type of demon killed, but he also recorded any known weaknesses of the species in question. He quickly made his way to the bookshelf and pulled down the volume needed.
He flipped through the pages, stopping when he landed on the correct date. He skimmed the page, swallowing nervously when he found an entry on the Brishkan that had been slain and the details concerning the demon’s death.
“Well?” Padaler inquired impatiently.
Giles looked up and sighed as he met Buffy’s eyes. “It’s true.”
Buffy took a deep breath. “Okay…what happens now?”
Padaler grinned and took a step forward. “Now you kiss your husband goodbye because the battle is getting ready to start…and I have absolutely no intentions of losing to you.”
Buffy glanced at Padaler before returning her eyes to her husband. “Giles?”
Giles’ eyes held a hint of sadness as he spoke softly. “Come here, love.”
Her eyes filled with tears as she made her way to him, her voice a whisper when she spoke as she stood in front of him. “How bad is this really going to be?”
Lifting his hand to the side of her face, he stroked her cheek with his thumb. “Come back to us.”
She leaned into his touch as a tear escaped from the corner of her eye. “That bad, huh?”
He lowered his mouth to hers, his whisper ghosting across her lips before he kissed her.
“Remember what I said. You will be the first…”
She deepened the kiss almost immediately, pushing her tongue into his mouth as her hands wound in his hair. He held her tightly in his arms, returning her kiss with equal passion.
Padaler exhaled forcefully. “That’s enough…”
Giles’ hands moved to her hips as his mouth moved to her neck. He kissed a soft path up the side of her neck to her ear. His breath was warm against her skin as he quickly whispered into her ear.
His hands tightened on her hips as she jerked back and stared into his eyes. “I love you, Buffy.”
She hesitated only for a moment, his whispered words rattling around in her head, before answering him. Her left hand lovingly rubbed his chest.
“I love you too, Giles.”
He swallowed as his eyes glistened. “Please…come back to us.”
She leaned up on her tiptoes and kissed him again, softly this time. When he heard the demon growl in annoyance, he sighed and took a step back.
“I’ll be right here.”
She gave him a nod and then turned to face her foe. “We do this outside…I really hate replacing furniture.”
The demon grinned and followed as Buffy backed out the door and into the back yard. “Your husband would be the one replacing the furniture. With four children to look after as well as grieving for his wife, I’m sure that furniture would be the last thing on his mind. But, I’ll humour you in this. I prefer fighting out of doors anyway.”
Buffy’s jaw clenched as Giles turned the porch light on, illuminating the yard in the artificial light before stepping onto the porch himself.
“Do I at least get to know your name?”
“I am Padaler Laverian.” He stated as he straightened, obviously proud of his heritage. “You’ll forgive me if I remove this…I find that fighting in a human skin is rather…uncomfortable.”
He grinned as he ran the razor sharp nails of his left hand down the centre of his chest, splitting the skin covering his demon form. As the disguise peeled away and revealed the demon underneath, Buffy raised an eyebrow.
The ghostly white skin covered with pulsing lumps, the blood red palms of his hands accented by the dark green claws…his appearance was not an easy one to forget.
“Yeah…I remember your brother. He tried to kill my best friend after we left the Bronze one night…your blood is thick and clear…almost like snot, if I remember correctly.”
Padaler snarled and circled her. “And your blood will be thick and rich as it covers the floor. Let’s go, Slayer.”
She wanted to look at Giles, to tell him that she loved him. But, she knew that she couldn’t take her eyes off the demon who was hell bent on avenging his brother.
Instead, she comfortably moved into her fighting stance and gave him a brief nod.
“Yeah, let’s go.”
Padaler circled Buffy, clicking the tips of his talons together as his grey eyes sized her up. “You’re much smaller than I imagined when I first heard of my brother’s death.”
“Big things come in little packages.” Buffy responded, her eyes following his movements closely.
“I’m told that a Slayer’s blood can feed an army of a thousand demon soldiers. Is this true?”
Buffy fought the urge to roll her eyes. “Because I’ve fed so many demon armies with my blood.”
Padaler suddenly lashed out, the claws on his right hand barely missing her shoulder. “You should watch your tone, Slayer.”
Giles watched carefully, not surprised when the demon blocked each punch and kick directed at him. He had obviously been studying Buffy’s fighting style for some time. His brow furrowed as he slowly moved across the porch just out of the demon’s line of sight. He waited for a moment, only until he was sure that Buffy could see him clearly in her peripheral vision.
In a quick movement, he raised his left hand and lifted two fingers before flicking his hand one hundred and eighty degrees. Buffy showed no signs of seeing the motion, but Giles knew that she had. He also knew that she had understood when she changed her stance.
Buffy had been a little surprised when Padaler blocked each of her moves, but understanding dawned on her when she caught Giles’ direction from the sidelines. Reverse your moves, it had stated. Back to front.
She made a subtle change to her footing, catching the demon off-guard with her next attack. He moved to block a right-handed jab, only to leave his shoulder open to the hard kick with her left foot.
Giles hid his proud smile as Padaler growled in frustration.
Buffy spun as Padaler grabbed for her, gasping sharply as his talons scraped down the back of her shoulder. Giles’ hidden smile faded quickly. Padaler took a step back to regroup.
“You can’t win this, Slayer. No Slayer ever has before…a token challenge is a sure way to end a Slayer’s career.”
Buffy ignored the pain and glared at the demon. “I’ve done a lot of things no Slayer had ever done before. And…I’m really tired of talking right now.”
Padaler ran his forked tongue over his teeth. “Then let’s not talk…”
Buffy ducked and rolled to the side as the demon lunged at her. The wound on her shoulder stung with the movement, but she pushed past it and got back to her feet quickly. Her eyes scanned his back, looking for the spot that Giles had whispered about into her ear before he told her that he loved her.
She caught sight of it just as the demon spun back around to face her. His eyes flashed with anger as his attack resumed. Buffy fought back…quickly and smartly, conserving her energy by merely blocking his blows for the time being.
Giles’ hands gripped the porch railing. He wanted nothing more than to run down and help her, but knew the consequences if he did. If the demon won the battle, the children would suffer for their father’s interference. As much faith as he had in Buffy and her abilities, it wasn’t a risk he could take.
Instead he watched, swallowing thickly as another line of blood appeared along her back.
* * *
Padaler grinned, licking Buffy’s blood from his claw as he advanced on her. She was breathing heavily, flat on her back on the grass, blood seeping from various lacerations over her body.
Blood trickled from Giles’ bottom lip, the result of his teeth biting into his lip to keep himself from calling out to Buffy throughout the battle. He lifted his trembling hand to wipe the tears from his eyes that were blurring his vision. If Buffy didn’t make her move soon, he could very well lose her.
And that was something he was nowhere near prepared for.
Buffy closed her eyes briefly in concentration as Padaler took another slow step towards her. Taking a deep breath, she opened her eyes and focused her gaze on a point just over Padaler’s left shoulder.
In a move that surprised both demon and Watcher with her speed, Buffy rolled to her right and jumped to her feet. She struck out with all of her strength, her fist connecting with the spongy flesh just above where a human’s kidney would be located.
Padaler roared with pain as his knees buckled. Another quick jab to the same area caused the demon to fall forward on the grass, his body trembling violently in pain.
Buffy wiped the drying blood from the already healing wound on her cheek as she knelt beside of the demon.
“You underestimated me, Padaler. You’ve underestimated all of us. You threatened my children, my husband…me. My husband is my Watcher…the most successful Watcher in history. He didn’t get that title because of me. He’s smart…so much smarter than you gave him credit for.”
Padaler met her eyes, unable to lift his head. “Been…helping…”
Buffy shook her head slowly. “This was all me. The only thing he did was give me a little heads up before we came outside.”
She placed her hand on his back and licked her lips. “You have a weakness…one he knew about. One he made sure I knew about. This is over, Padaler Laverian.”
She pressed hard on the small area on his back until the clear blood seeped between her fingers and poured from his mouth. Only when the light dulled, and then completely went out, in his grey eyes did she let up.
As his body dissolved into the green, damp grass, she collapsed and gasped in pain. Giles ran down the steps from the porch to the yard, falling to his knees next to her as she rolled onto her back.
Her hand gripped his shoulder as he leaned over her. “God, it hurts…”
Giles nodded slowly, carefully sliding his arms underneath her and lifting her battered body from the cool ground. “I’ll get you inside, love.”
She looked into his eyes, a little surprised to see concern in them. “Am I going to die, Giles?”
“No.” He choked out as a tear escaped the corner of his eye. “You’re hurt…but, you’re not going to die. I…I just need to check your wounds.”
“The…kids?” She asked, pain and exhaustion thick in her voice.
He climbed the stairs leading to the porch, carefully balancing her weight as he looked down into her eyes. “Let me take care of you and then I’ll go downstairs to get them, yes?”
She shook her head as he carried her into the house and through the living room towards the hallway. “No…now.”
“Giles, please. I…I need to see them now.” She whispered.
He took a deep breath. His instinct was to take her into the bathroom to clean and dress her wounds before taking her into the bedroom. But, the pleading tone of her voice caused him to give her a soft nod and turn back to the living room.
He gently placed her on the sofa and tenderly brushed her sweat-drenched hair back from her face with his fingertips. She offered him a tired smile.
“How do I look?”
“Beautiful.” He whispered emotionally, his fingers gliding over the cut on her cheek.
“Liar.” She answered, grimacing as she shifted slightly. “I don’t…want to scare them.”
Giles studied her carefully. “Most of your wounds are on your back. The only one they’ll see is the one on your cheek…and it’s not bad. They won’t see, Buffy.”
He leaned into her, placing a loving kiss on her lips. “I’ll be right back.”
She closed her eyes as he ran from the room. She needed to concentrate on hiding her pain from her children.
* * *
Giles stopped halfway down the stairs to the basement, finding the eyes of two adults, two children, and one dog staring at him. The younger two of the four children were asleep…Haddie in Ethan’s arms, Evan curled up on Michael’s lap.
Braden slowly made his way to his father, Callie following him, as Giles completed his task of descending the stairs. “Dad? Is Mum…is Mum okay?”
Giles smiled softly as he nodded. “She was injured, but she’ll be fine. She…she wants to see you.”
Lucas started up the stairs, stopping when Braden quickly grabbed his arm. “Wait, Luke!”
Braden turned his green eyes to his father’s. “The man?”
Giles lovingly ran his fingers through Braden’s hair. “Gone. Everything is going to be fine, Ru. I promise.”
“So…it’s really okay if we go upstairs?” Braden asked softly.
Giles smiled and gave him a nod. “It’s really okay.”
A slow smile appeared on Braden’s face as his hand dropped from Lucas’ arm. Without another word, both boys took off running up the stairs.
Giles reached down and lovingly rubbed Callie’s head, causing her tail to wag madly. He took a deep breath as he glanced at Michael. “Are you alright?”
Michael nodded slowly, shifting the sleeping boy in his arms. “Some residual twinges in my back, but Ethan says that the cuts will hardly scar.”
Giles carefully lifted Evan into his arms, raising an eyebrow at Ethan. “Magick?”
Ethan nodded, placing a kiss on Haddie’s head. “Yeah, I…there was so much blood. The cuts were much deeper than I thought…I couldn’t get the bleeding to stop on my own.”
Giles reached down and brushed Haddie’s curls back from her face. “I would have done the same.”
Ethan started to say something, but hesitated when Giles looked into his eyes and repeated his statement.
“I would have done the same, Ethan.”
Ethan’s eyes glistened. “I could’ve gotten everyone killed.”
Giles shook his head and knelt in front of Ethan, sighing as Evan snuggled tighter against his chest. “You did what you had to do to save your husband’s life, Ethan. I harbour no ill feelings towards you over this. However, I do appreciate the wake up call.”
Ethan swallowed when he felt Giles’ warm hand on his shoulder. “I wanted to say more, but Michael was already bleeding…and…”
“No need for explanations, Ethan.” Giles responded in an understanding tone. “Now, Buffy will want to see Haddie and Evan before we put them to bed…and she’ll want to make sure that you and Michael are alright as well.”
Ethan exhaled softly as Giles removed his hand and stood up. Haddie murmured incoherently as Ethan shifted her enough to give him the leverage to stand.
“I can take both of them…” Giles stated quietly.
Ethan stood, smiling as Haddie wrapped her arms around his neck. “It’s okay…the hardest part is standing with a five year old wrapped around you.”
Giles chuckled softly as Ethan extended his hand and helped Michael off the small sofa. Michael grimaced lightly when he straightened his back, tightening his fingers around Ethan’s. Giles’ chuckle ended abruptly, his brow furrowing.
“Are you quite sure that you’re alright?”
Giles nodded, darting his eyes between the two men. “You’ll stay here for the rest of the night.”
Ethan hadn’t planned on arguing, but wouldn’t have had time if he had. Giles reached out and lovingly stroked his daughter’s back before turning and quickly making his way up the stairs, motioning for Ethan and Michael to follow him as Callie bounded up the stairs.
“Come on. I still need to tend to Buffy’s wounds.”
Ethan’s eyes widened. “How bad is she?”
Giles looked down from the top of the stairs. “She’s been worse…once or twice.”
When Giles noticed that Buffy’s eyes had begun to droop, he caught Ethan’s eye. Ethan read the silent question in his best friend’s eyes and nodded before leaning over slightly and whispering into Michael’s ear.
“Stay here with Buffy? I’m just going to help Rupert get the kids to bed, okay?”
Michael yawned and nodded before kissing Ethan’s lips. “Okay.”
Ethan pulled away slowly, gently stroking Michael’s cheek as he stood. Taking a deep breath, he walked over towards Giles and glanced at the four sleeping children.
Giles chuckled softly. “Take Haddie, I’ll take Lucas and Evan…and we’ll wake Ru up.”
Ethan raised an eyebrow. “Okay, but wouldn’t it be easier if you took the two smaller ones?”
Giles swallowed and pushed himself up. “It would. But, I need to take Lucas and Evan.”
Ethan nodded, bending over to pick up the small girl. He understood Giles’ reasoning. Lucas and Evan were the ones who had been threatened. Ethan didn’t question him again. Instead, he leaned over and gently shook Braden’s shoulder.
“Braden? Come on, it’s time for bed.”
Braden’s eyes fluttered open. “Luke stays with me, okay?”
Giles smiled as he picked Lucas up. “Okay.”
After Lucas shifted, making himself comfortable in his father’s embrace, Giles glanced at Evan. With a move that had obviously been practiced many times over the years, Giles knelt and slipped his free arm around Evan and carefully lifted him.
Evan mumbled in his sleep, resting his head against Giles’ shoulder. Giles smiled and placed a warm kiss on the boy’s forehead before tilting his head towards the hallway.
“Haddie first. Evan can stay with her.” Giles glanced at the fireplace, finding Callie laying in her bed but looking at him curiously. “Come on, Callie. You can sleep in Haddie’s room tonight.”
Callie stood up and stretched before running down the hall in front of Ethan.
Ethan shook his head in amusement and made his way down the hall, a very sleepy Braden following close behind.
Buffy’s tired eyes watched them until they were out of sight before she allowed them to close.
* * *
Giles sighed softly as he and Ethan walked back into the living room. The children had been put to bed without issue, even Braden falling back to sleep before the two adults had time to leave the room. Buffy had fallen asleep on one sofa, Michael was snoring gently on the other.
“Do you need any help getting him to bed?” Giles asked quietly.
A smile tugged at the corners of Ethan’s mouth as he shook his head. “No, as soon as I wake him up he’ll be okay to walk.” He glanced at Buffy and then met Giles’ eyes. “Need help with her?”
Giles chuckled and shook his head. “I’ve carried her more times than I can count. I’ll be fine.”
Ethan gave him a quick nod and then knelt in front of Michael, softly whispering his name. Michael woke rather quickly and groggily pushed himself up, leaning heavily on Ethan as they walked towards the guest room.
Giles waited until he was sure that Ethan and Michael were alright before leaning over and lifting Buffy into his arms, his left supporting her back and his right under her knees. He brushed his lips across her forehead as she pressed her cheek against his shoulder.
“Come, love…let’s get you into bed.”
“Mm.” She murmured, causing him to smile as he carried her into the bedroom.
* * *
It had taken him a while to get her changed into her favourite nightgown. Not because he had problems removing her torn shirt and ruined jeans, but because he took the opportunity to check on her wounds once more.
He was relieved to find that her Slayer healing was working quite well. The deep gashes in her shoulder and back were now thin lines…with shades of blue and purple blotching her skin.
The bruising looked rather painful, but he much preferred the look of the bruises as compared to the lacerations that more than likely would have killed a normal human. After slipping her gown over her head and pulling her arms through the sleeves, he quickly changed into his pajamas and climbed into the bed next to her.
He gathered her sleeping form into his arms and held her tightly against his chest. Only when he was sure that she was comfortable and sleeping deeply did he allow his mind to consider the thought of how close he had actually come to losing her to the demon.
His arms instinctively tightened around her, but he successfully held his tears back.
What could have happened wasn’t important right now. He could think about that later…when he was documenting the battle in his journal. At the moment, he chose to concentrate on the fact that she was warm in his arms…safe and warm.
With that thought in his mind, he took a deep breath and whispered a soft ‘I love you’ before closing his eyes and allowing her gentle breathing to lull him to sleep.
* * *
He wasn’t sure how long he’d actually been asleep and, at first, he wasn’t sure why he was awake. And then he felt her move against him, felt her soft tongue glide over his left nipple…and he knew exactly why he was awake.
She lifted her head and smiled. “Hi, you’re awake.”
He chuckled softly and gently caressed the side of her face with his hand. “Mm-hm…and it seems as though you’re feeling better.”
“Yeah.” She whispered, licking her lips as he glanced towards the window. “It’s nearly daybreak…and…I kinda wanted to make love to you while the sun rose.”
His eyes darted back to hers as she climbed on top of him, straddling his hips as she pulled her gown over her head. He swallowed, his eyes raking over her body to find that she had, indeed, healed during her sleep. The only physical evidence of her battle with the Brishkan demon was a small bruise on her shoulder.
“Are you sure?”
Her nipples tightened as his hands moved to her hips. “Very sure. Unless, I mean…you don’t want – ”
She trailed off as he suddenly sat up and pulled one of her darkening nipples into his mouth. She groaned, sliding her hands into his hair and holding his head to her breast as he alternated between suckling and nibbling at her sensitive flesh.
Feeling her warmth dampen his pajama pants, he slowly pulled back and looked up into her eyes. His voice was gravelled with lust and love as he spoke.
“God, I want.”
She rocked her hips against him as she rubbed her thumb over his bottom lip. “Then…take.”
His eyes darkened as he pulled her thumb between his lips, flicking his tongue against the pad. She shivered at the contact and slowly removed her thumb from his warm mouth.
“Jesus…” She mumbled as he smiled. “How do you do that?”
He carefully rolled her onto her back, leaning over her as his left hand slowly moved over her skin. “What’s that, love?”
She licked her lips as he deftly removed the pajama pants he’d worn to bed. “How can you almost make me come with the simplest of touches?”
He looked into her eyes as his left hand slid along her inner thigh, gently coaxing her legs apart. “Perhaps the same way that you can almost make me come when you smile at me. I love you, Buffy.”
“I love you too.” She whispered breathlessly as his fingers brushed through her damp curls, grazing her swollen clitoris. “Giles….”
A grin played at his lips as she trembled at his touch. “No foreplay?”
She bit her lip as the tip of his finger teased her. “Foreplay was waking up in your arms. Please, Giles…I want you.”
“You’ve always had me.” He whispered seriously as he moved between her legs, lowering his mouth to the side of her neck. “I’ve always been yours.”
His lips tasted her tender flesh as he slowly entered her. Hearing her gasp, he lifted his head with a smile on his face. His smile faded when he saw the tears in her eyes.
She shook her head and smiled, even as a tear escaped her right eye and rolled towards the pillow under her head. “Don’t stop…”
“You’re crying.” He whispered, cradling the side of her face in his left palm. “Talk to me.”
She bent her legs, resting her knees against his sides as she swallowed. “It’s just…I thought…for a minute…”
His brow furrowed in concern as she trailed off and leaned into his touch. “Thought what, darling?”
Taking a deep breath, she ran her hands up his chest and over his shoulders. “That we’d never have this again.”
As his eyes glistened, she quickly continued.
“I was so scared, Giles. And…he almost won. And – ”
He cut her off with a gentle kiss, inadvertently pushing deeper within her as he moved. When she groaned into his mouth and lightly scratched her nails across the back of his neck, he pulled back and slowly pushed again as he ended the kiss and gazed into her eyes.
“You won. Just as I knew you would. I was frightened as well, but…I knew…I knew in my heart that you would prevail.”
She lifted her hips to meet his gentle thrusts, closing her eyes as she tilted her head back against the pillow, baring her throat to him. “What if I hadn’t?”
His fingers moved over her throat, his thrusts quickening slightly.
“I don’t want to think about that, Buffy.” He whispered, his voice tinged with sadness.
Her eyes opened quickly. “I’m sorry, I didn’t – ”
He smiled softly, placing one finger over her warm lips. “Ssh. It’s alright. I just…love me, Buffy. Just love me.”
Her eyes fluttered closed as he replaced his finger with his lips before moving his mouth to her throat. “Always, Giles…I’ll always love you.”
* * *
Ethan opened his eyes and looked at the man sleeping next to him. He ran his hand over his own chest, chuckling softly to find his skin slightly sticky. He had brought Michael to bed for sleeping purposes. By the time Ethan had closed the bedroom door behind them, Michael was fully awake and his hunger had shown clearly in his eyes.
Ethan hadn’t stopped him when Michael pushed him against the door and fell to his knees in front of him. He hadn’t stopped him when Michael quickly pulled his belt free and unbuttoned and unzipped his jeans. And he hadn’t stopped him when Michael pulled his quickly hardening cock into his mouth.
Ethan did stop Michael before he came, pulling his husband to his feet and carefully pushing him towards the bed. They had taken comfort in one another, whispering how much they loved one another between kisses. They had swallowed one another’s cries and groans as their orgasms crashed over them.
And then they had fallen asleep in one another’s arms.
Ethan glanced at the window, smiling when he realized the sun wasn’t up yet. He rolled onto his side and pulled Michael against his chest, closing his eyes as Michael sighed contentedly in his sleep.
It was far too early to be awake right now.
* * *
“So close…” Buffy whispered urgently into Giles’ ear, her teeth grazing his earlobe before moving down the side of his neck.
“I know.” He murmured as her teeth nipped along the ridge of scar tissue on his neck. “Christ, Buffy…”
She pulled her mouth back and bit her lip to stifle her groan as her nip caused him to thrust his hips harder against her. Smiling, he slipped his arms around her back as he rolled their bodies until he was looking up at her.
She gasped, bracing herself with her hands on his chest. “Smooth…”
He chuckled softly and moved his hands to her hips, guiding her movements. “I like…watching you.”
She smiled, the fingers of her left hand gently pulling at his nipple. “You…always have…”
She had barely gotten the words out before her inner walls began to contract around his thrusting cock.
“God, yes…Giles…oh God…”
His hands tightened on her hips, pulling her down forcefully as he thrust upwards. “That’s it, love…come for me…”
He cursed softly as her voice rose in volume, moving his left hand to the back of her neck and dragging her to his lips. His mouth covered hers, swallowing her scream of ecstasy as her fluids flooded over him.
As his tongue probed her mouth, mimicking the motions of his thickening cock, she came again and stilled the movements of her hips. He panted as she lifted her mouth from his, swallowing reflexively as he trembled gently.
Her chest heaved as she swallowed a lungful of air. “I…I need you…to come…please…”
He lifted his hand and ran his fingers through her sweat-dampened hair. “Buffy…”
She swallowed as she started moving her hips again. He watched her eyes clench shut, felt her inner muscles rippling against his erection. With a loud groan, he moved both hands back to her hips and stilled her motion.
Her eyes snapped open. “Giles – ”
“God…just kiss me, Buffy.”
“Kiss me.” He growled softly.
Confusion colored her eyes, but she did as he requested…or commanded, as it were. She leaned forward and brushed her lips across his, pulling back slightly to look into his eyes.
“More.” He whispered gruffly. When she tried to move her hips, he gripped her harder and shook his head. “Just…kiss me.”
She stared into his eyes for a moment before lowering her mouth to his. She felt his groan rumble in his chest as she nudged her tongue between his lips. As his fingers flexed against her skin, she understood and smiled inwardly.
She stroked his tongue with hers, sliding her right hand to his neck. When she felt his trembling increase, she rubbed her thumb along his ear and flicked her tongue against his.
His orgasm caught her by surprise. Not the fact that he came, but the force behind it as he emptied himself within her. She swallowed his groans and pulled back only when his hands loosened their grip on her hips.
He moved his hands up her back and held her against him as he rolled them onto their sides, facing one another. She glanced at the window and smiled.
“Mm-hm.” He mumbled, sighing as his softening cock slipped from her. “Kids’ll be up soon.”
When she chuckled, he raised an eyebrow at her in a silent question.
She ran her fingers through his damp hair and smiled. “Nothing. I just like how your voice kinda…slurs…after you come hard.”
He laughed softly and brushed his lips across hers. “And I like how your skin quivers under my fingers after you come…”
She grinned, her fingers trembling slightly as she lovingly traced over the scars on his chest. “We should get dressed.”
“Mm…after we shower. Give me five?”
She smiled warmly and snuggled against his sweat-drenched body. Maybe the kids would sleep in.
After all, it was Saturday.
With that thought she closed her eyes and inhaled deeply, content to be in her husband’s loving arms.