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            Disclaimer: I own nothing here. Joss owns everything. I borrow, because it’s gonna be a really long summer!

 

            Author’s Note: This is the first part in my new series called Trinity. This part is called Discoveries. It deals with everything that has happened up to the season finale of Two To Go/Grave. This is my dream for season 7 of BtVS…

 

            Summary: This takes place three months after the events of Grave. Giles has remained in Sunnydale to pick up the pieces of his shattered Magic Box. In the process he and Anya discover their feelings for one another, as they work on deciphering an ancient prophecy. Meanwhile, Spike comes back to town carrying a few secrets he’d rather not tell. (Buffy/Spike, Anya/Giles)

 

            Rating: PG-13 (more eventually…)



 

 

                               

 

                       

                                                                                Part One~

   Discoveries

 

 

Buffy sat in her room looking into the mirror. She looked tired. She hadn’t gotten much sleep the night before, because she had been worried about Dawn. Not because something was wrong really. But because Buffy was beginning to understand that there was more to Dawn than she realized. These last few months, Buffy had agreed to take Dawn with her on her nightly patrols. Dawn had proven herself capable, last spring when they were stuck in that hole Willow created. Buffy knew then that it was time to let Dawn spread her wings.

 

            If patrolling was what she wanted to do, then Buffy wanted to teach her. The only problem was, Dawn didn’t really need much guidance. Last night, she had taken out a group of three vampires all by herself. Buffy had been cornered by two others, and was unable to help. She had panicked that Dawn was going to get hurt or killed, but when the dust settled, all Buffy had seen was Dawn. Smiling broadly, completely satisfied with herself.

 

            Buffy had been astonished. This was the little girl she’d been trying so hard to protect. And in the end, Dawn didn’t need any protection. It frightened Buffy, because she didn’t understand where Dawn’s ability came from. Did she get it from her? If the monks made Dawn out of her, then was it possible Dawn had Slayer in her as well? This is what kept Buffy up all night. Buffy had always wanted a normal life for Dawn. At least as normal as possible considering her origins, and the life they led. But it was becoming clearer that Dawn wasn’t ‘normal’ either.

 

            Just then, there was a knock at the door. Buffy sighed and put away her worried face. She smiled.

 

            “Yeah?” She called out.

 

            The door opened a crack, and Dawn poked her head in.

 

            “Are you almost ready? We’re supposed to be at the Magic Box in like ten minutes. You know how cranky Anya gets when we’re late.” Dawn told her.

 

            “Yeah, I’m ready. Let me just get my shoes on.” Buffy told her.

 

            All summer long, everyone had been working hard to get the Magic Box back to its original splendor. Willow’s little decent into evil had completely destroyed the entire place. It made damage by troll, seem like nothing.

 

            Xander and Anya had put aside their issues for the time being. And Xander’s carpenter skills had definitely come in handy. Buffy knew that Xander still wanted to get back together with Anya, despite her new demony package. Anya hadn’t wreaked any vengeance on anyone since the day the got her powers back. She told them that after watching Willow nearly kill everyone and try to end the world, in the name of vengeance, she didn’t have the heart for it anymore.

 

            Giles had sent Willow off to a retreat in England. She was in the care of a powerful coven of witches, who would see that she was rehabilitated. A temporary binding spell was placed on her, even though Willow swore she was done with the magic for good this time. Once Giles had seen Willow to the retreat safely, he had returned to Sunnydale to try and pick up the pieces of the shop.

 

            It was nearly done, and Giles and Anya had planned to reopen the shop next weekend. Today they were working on getting the shelves stocked with new merchandise. Buffy and Dawn walked into the store to see Giles and Anya standing behind the new counter arguing over something.

 

            “I’m the one who has to run the shop. You’re going to leave me and go back to England, so why do you care where I put the jars of petrified rat’s eyes?” She asked Giles huffily.

 

            “Because, Anya, I don’t think they should be displayed next to the cash register.” He explained.

 

            “Why not? Maybe we’d sell more of them?”

 

            “Anya, it’s not an impulse buy like a pack of chewing gum.” Giles sighed.

 

            Buffy smiled and shook her head.

 

            “We’re here. Reporting for duty.” She said, interrupting them.

 

            They both looked at her startled that anyone had come into the store. They had been so wrapped up in their bickering they hadn’t noticed.

 

            “Good.” Anya smiled. “Tell me, would you be more tempted to buy these if they were sitting right here?” She asked Buffy and Dawn.

 

            “I’m kinda thinking that I wouldn’t be tempted to buy those no matter where you put them.” Buffy said, making a face as she picked up the jar and examined it.

 

            Anya pouted and removed the jar from the counter. She looked at Giles.

 

            “Fine. I’ll put them in the back.” She relented, as she took the jar into the storeroom.

 

            A small smile crept onto Giles’ face as he watched her walk away.

 

            “Thank you.” He told her. Then he looked at Buffy and Dawn. “Right then. Let’s get you two girls to work. There are boxes over there that just arrived from the supplier.”

 

            He pointed to a stack of boxes in the corner of the room. Dawn and Buffy went over and started unpacking them. Anya called out from the back of the shop.

 

            “Rupert? Can you help me reach this box?”

 

            “I’m coming.” He called out to her as he disappeared into the storeroom.

 

            Buffy and Dawn looked at each other.

 

            “Rupert?” Dawn said with a raised eyebrow. “Since when does Anya call him Rupert?”

 

            “Since when does anyone call him that?” Buffy agreed.

 

            They both laughed and kept working on their task. Finally Dawn looked up at Buffy.

 

            “Do you know if he’s back yet?” Dawn asked cautiously.

 

            Buffy looked up at her confused.

 

            “Who?”

 

            “You know…” Dawn said quietly.

 

            Buffy’s face showed recognition and she lowered her gaze.

 

            “No. Spike’s not back.” She said softly. Then she looked back up at Dawn. “Dawn, I don’t think he’s coming back.” She admitted.

 

            “Maybe. But Clem said he was. He just didn’t know when.” Dawn pointed out.

 

            “Yeah, but it’s been almost three months. Maybe he changed his mind.” Buffy said quietly.

 

            She wasn’t sure how she felt about Spike’s disappearance. At first, she was kind of relieved that he was gone. It made things easier for her. Out of sight, out of mind. But once everything settled with Willow, and Tara’s death, Buffy found that he wasn’t exactly out of her mind. Lately, he’d been creeping in a lot more than she found comfortable.

 

            She knew why he left. Or at least in her mind, she did. What happened between them that night at her house was bad. Really bad. And she wanted to hate him for it. She wanted to want him dead for it. She wanted to be rejoicing that he had finally left town after all these years. But she wasn’t. And she didn’t hate him either. She tried to. But she knew that she was partly to blame for what happened.

 

            She had tormented him for months. She had led him on, and spit on his heart over and over again. He was right. She did care about him. Too much, in fact. But she knew it would never lead to anything good. It couldn’t. But she knew how much he loved her. And knew that he had been trying desperately to hold onto what he thought they had together. She was still shocked at his actions when she let herself think about it. But she also forgave him. She had done far worse to him in the past. And despite the hatred she wanted to feel, and knew she should be feeling, she forgave him. And she missed him.

 

            “Maybe it’s better that he doesn’t come back.” Dawn said softly, breaking Buffy out of her thoughts.

 

            Buffy looked up at her.

 

            “What?”

 

            “Well, after what happened…”

 

            “I know. Maybe it is better. He should have left a long time ago. Then maybe none of this would have ever happened.” Buffy said, trying to believe her own words. Then maybe I wouldn’t have fallen in love with him…

 

* * * * * * * * * * *

 

 

            Spike walked up to his old crypt. It had been three months since he’d left it. He hoped that Clem was still the only occupant. He hadn’t planned on being gone quite as long as he had. But after everything that had happened to him, he wasn’t sure he would ever come back here. But deep down, he knew this was where he belonged.

 

            He pushed the door open and walked inside. He could hear the television on, and he walked deeper into the room.

 

            “Hello?” He called out.

 

            A sleeping figure jumped up from the couch. A slightly panicked Clem looked at Spike. He relaxed and smiled broadly.

 

            “Spike! You’re back!” He said happily, as he clumsily threw his arms around Spike’s neck and embraced him.

 

            Spike shifted uncomfortably against the firm embrace of his demon pal. He patted him on the back.

 

            “Told you I’d be back.” He said.

 

            Clem pulled back and smiled at Spike.

 

            “I took real good care of the place. I-I changed the furniture around a bit…Hope you don’t mind.” Clem said sheepishly.

 

            “Place looks tip-top.” Spike said, plunking himself down in the comfy chair. He draped his legs over the side and looked up at Clem. “So, anyone miss me?”

 

            “I did.” Clem smiled.

 

            Spike smiled slightly and nodded his head.

 

            “Thanks, but I meant anyone else?” Spike inquired.

 

            “Oh! You mean Buffy? Yeah, she came by a few times.” Clem told him.

 

            Spike raised his eyebrow.

 

            “She did? What’d she say?” He asked curiously.

 

            “Nothin’ much. Just ‘Hey Clem, is Spike back yet?’ Stuff like that.” Clem explained.

 

            “Did it seem like she missed me?” He asked.

 

            Clem looked at him and shrugged.

 

            “Maybe?”

 

            Spike sighed and rubbed his temples. Why would she miss him? After what he tried to do to her? He still couldn’t believe that she didn’t kill him for that.

 

            “You hungry? I could go out and get you some blood or something? Or I’ve got Cheetos? Oh, and some of those little cookies shaped like animals.” Clem smiled.

 

            “That’s ok. I’m good.” Spike told him.

 

            Clem stood there and shifted nervously. Spike was silent and finally Clem spoke.

 

            “Um, since you’re back and all…Uh, does this mean you want me to leave?” He asked.

 

            Spike was jolted out of his thoughts and looked up at him.

 

            “No mate. Stay as long as you like. This is a big place. No fair me tossing you out just because I’m back.”

 

            Clem let out a sigh of relief.

 

            “Oh phew! That’s a load off. I mean, some slimy, tentacle demon stole my other pad. I didn’t want to have to try and kick him out. You know, cause of the mess? They shoot mucous at you when they get angry. And boy, is that nasty. This one time—.”

 

            “Relax. You can stay.” Spike interrupted.

 

            “Sorry. Was I rambling again? I do that sometimes.” Clem said embarrassed.

 

            “Don’t tell the Slayer that I’m here, okay?” Spike said quickly.

 

            “What?”

 

            “If she comes around again, don’t tell her I’m back. I’m not ready to see her yet.” Spike told him.

 

            “O-okay.” Clem said confused as to why he wanted to hide from her. Then he looked at Spike thoughtfully. “Where’d you go Spike?”

 

            “I went to Africa.”

 

            “Africa? Whew! That’s like really far. And hot. And sunny…You know, you having an aversion to the sun and all…Why’d you go there?” He asked.

 

            “To get something I needed.” Spike said softly.

 

            “Oh…Did you get it?” Clem asked curiously.

 

            Spike looked up at him and sighed. Then he shook his head.

 

            “And then some.”

 

* * * * * * * * * * * *

 

 

            The Magic Box reopening had been a huge success. Apparently, the citizens of Sunnydale had sorely missed the only magic shop in town. Giles and Anya sat on the steps of the shop by the front door. Anya was rubbing her feet and Giles was rubbing his temples.

 

            “Good lord…Why did we spend so much time making this place spotless? Look at everything. It’s a shambles.” Giles complained, surveying the messy shelves with a sigh.

 

            “I’m so tired I don’t even want to count out the money drawer.” Anya grumbled.

 

            Giles looked at her with a raised eyebrow.

 

            “You really are tired then, aren’t you?” He smiled.

           

“If it’s going to be this busy all the time, I’m not sure I can run it by myself anymore.” She said softly, looking at him.

 

            Giles looked down at his feet. He knew that Anya wasn’t looking forward to him leaving again. It was a stark contrast to the first time he left. She practically shoved him on the plane, eager to have the store all to herself. But this time, things had changed.

 

            “I know. But perhaps you should hire someone?”

 

            “Maybe.” Anya shrugged. The truth was that she just didn’t want Giles to leave now. She would miss him.

 

            Just then, the bell over the front door rang, signaling someone had entered. They both groaned and looked at the ceiling.

 

            “We’re closed.” They both said in unison.

 

            “Didn’t you lock the door?” Anya asked Giles.

 

            “I have a delivery for…Anya?” A delivery man told them as he held a large flower arrangement.

 

            Anya turned around and looked at the man with wide eyes.

 

            She stood up and ran barefoot over to him, and grabbed the flowers.

 

            “For me? They’re beautiful.” She smiled happily. Then she looked at Giles. “Did you do this?” She asked.

 

            Giles looked perplexed for a moment and shook his head.

 

            “Afraid not.”

 

            She frowned and started to open the card. She just realized how stupid she had sounded. Why would Giles send her flowers? She had no idea why her mind had immediately gone to him. She read the note attached, and sighed.

 

            “They’re from Xander.” She said softly, putting the card back into the envelope.

 

            The delivery man realized he wasn’t going to get a tip, so he slipped out the door. Anya took the flowers and sat down again next to Giles.

 

            He looked at her curiously.

 

            “Why would you think they were from me?” He asked quietly.

 

            She looked at him sheepishly and shrugged.

 

            “I don’t know.” She whispered barely audibly.

 

            Giles didn’t know what to say. He cleared his throat and stood up to face her.

 

            “Well, that was a lovely gesture from Xander. He’s still attempting to woo you, I take it?”

 

            Anya put the flowers on the step and stood up.

 

            “It isn’t working.” She said, dismissing the flowers.

 

            “He appears to be trying very hard.” Giles pointed out.

 

            “He is. But that’s the problem. He’s trying hard now, but what happens when he gets me? He’s just going to turn into the same commitment phobic Xander, who left me at the altar.”

 

            “Yes, well, I see your point.” He said scratching his head.

 

            “He humiliated me.” She said angrily, remembering the hurt she felt. Then she softened her tone. “And he hurt me.” She whispered.

 

            Giles went over to her and touched her shoulder softly.

 

            “I know.”

 

            She looked up into his eyes. She felt her stomach flutter nervously and she wanted to look away from him. But she couldn’t.

 

            “I don’t think I love him anymore.” She admitted with a whisper.

 

            “You don’t?” He whispered back.

 

            “No. Xander’s just a boy. I need something…else.” She said, feeling her heart pounding in her chest.

 

            The air was thick between them. It was palpable. Over the last few months they had grown very close. They spent night after night together, preparing the shop for it’s opening. In that time, things had changed between them. Maybe they had changed even before that? Neither one was sure.

 

            “What would that be exactly?” Giles asked as Anya moved closer to him.

 

            “A man.” She whispered softly as she leaned over to him.

 

            Their faces were so close that a kiss was imminent. Giles knew that this was somehow wrong, but he didn’t care. Just as their lips threatened to touch, the front door opened again. The annoying bell chimed its interruption and Giles and Anya jumped away from each other. They tried to pretend that things were business as usual between them. They tried to pretend that everything between them wasn’t about to change.

 

            Xander smiled and walked into the shop.

 

            “Hey guys.” He said happily.

 

            “We really need to remember to lock that door.” Giles mumbled.

 

            “Xander! It’s Xander.” Anya smiled at Giles nervously.

 

            “Yes… it’s me.” Xander said looking at both of them strangely. They seemed anxious, and jittery. Like kids who just got caught with their hands in the cookie jar. “You guys alright?”

 

            “Fine. We’re perfectly well.” Giles said, moving across the room to distance himself from Anya and what they had almost done.

 

            “We’re great.” Anya smiled.

 

            Xander knew that there was something strange going on, but he chose to ignore it. He grinned.

 

            “I see you got the flowers.”

 

            “Yes. Yes, I did. They’re lovely.” Anya said, playing with collar of her blouse nervously.

 

            “Great. I was wondering if you wanted to, you know, get a bite to eat or something?” Xander asked hopefully.

 

            “Um…I don’t think so. We really have a lot of cleaning up to do around here.” Anya declined.

 

            “I’m sure Giles can handle this by himself for a little while. We’ll bring him back something.” Xander said, trying to be persuasive.

 

            “No.” Anya said softly.

 

            “What?”

 

            “Look Xander, the flowers were nice, but I’m not going to dinner with you. We’re broken up, remember?” She pointed out.

 

            “An, of course I do…But I’m trying here.” Xander said pleadingly.

 

            “I know.” Anya said quietly. Then she looked at him. “But the answer is still no.”

 

            Xander lowered his head and realized that he was being shot down. No matter how nice he tried to be to Anya, things weren’t ever going to be the same. It was his fault, he knew. He had ruined the one good thing he had in his life. But he couldn’t take back what he did. All he could was try and start over. But it was becoming clearer and clearer that Anya wasn’t interested in starting over. At least not with him. She was moving on.

 

            “Fine. Okay. You want some help cleaning this place up?” Xander offered finally.

 

            “I think we can manage, thanks.” Anya said crossing her arms across her chest.

 

            Xander just nodded and walked back out the door. Anya went over and locked it behind him. She pressed her head against the door and closed her eyes. Giles watched her.

 

            “You could have gone.” He said finally.

 

            She lifted her head and turned around to look at Giles.

 

            “I didn’t want to. I’d rather be here.”

 

            The tension filled the air again, as they both thought back to a few minutes before, and their ‘almost kiss’.

 

            “We really should get this place cleaned. It’s getting quite late.” Giles said, attempting normalcy.

 

            “Right. Cleaning. Together.”

 

            “Yes. Together.”

 

            They both stared at each other from across the room. They both knew they could only pretend for so long that things weren’t different between them. But for now, they were certainly going to try.

 

 

* * * * * * * * * *

            Buffy was getting ready to go out on patrol when Dawn knocked at her door.

 

            “Come in.”

 

            “Going patrolling?” Dawn asked her.

 

            “Yup.”

 

            “Can I come too?” Dawn asked excitedly.

 

            “Dawn, you’ve gone with me every night this week. Don’t you want to do something else? Like hang out with friends or something?” Buffy asked her.

 

            Dawn got defensive and put her hands on her hips.

           

            “You don’t want me to come?”

 

            “That’s not what I said. It’s just, you don’t have to do this every night.” Buffy pointed out.

 

            “You do.” Dawn said matter of factly.

 

            Buffy sighed.

 

            “Yeah, but I’m the Slayer. You’re not.”

 

            “So? I like patrolling. It’s fun. Much more fun that sitting around watching TV. Or talking about boys with Janice.”

 

            Buffy looked at her and smiled. Dawn was turning out to be so much like her. But in some respects, very different. At Dawn’s age, Buffy looked at slaying as a huge burden. She would have given anything to sit at home swooning over boys, instead of battling evil and hanging out in cemeteries all night. But Dawn enjoyed it. Buffy wasn’t sure if that was a good thing or not. She still worried that something terrible would happen to her. Or worse yet, that somehow Dawn was meant to do this work, just as Buffy was.

 

            “Fine. You can come if that’s what you want.” Buffy relented with a nod of her head.

 

            “Yay!” Dawn exclaimed happily. “Xander made this for me, and I really wanna try it out.” Dawn said revealing an intricately carved stake.

 

            “Xander made that for you?” Buffy asked surprised.

 

            “Well, I begged him to. He was always making cool stakes for you, and I wanted one of my own.” She grinned.

 

            “Wow…A stake of your very own.” Buffy said softly, not knowing how to feel about that.

 

            “Come on. Let’s go.”

 

            The two sisters walked through the cemetery together. They had their eyes trained on their surroundings, making sure that nothing snuck up on them. All of a sudden, Buffy stopped in her tracks. Her heart started pounding loudly in her chest and she looked around cautiously.

 

            “What is it? Is it a vampire?” Dawn whispered.

 

            Buffy looked around quizzically.

 

            “I-I’m not sure. It’s just something…” She said, shaking her head.

 

            Spike stood behind a tree and watched the sisters scan the cemetery. He saw Buffy stop and look around. He knew she sensed him. He could tell. And it wasn’t because he was a vampire. It was because they had a bond. He sensed her long before he had seen her walk into that cemetery with Dawn. That was why he had hidden himself behind the tree.

 

            This was the first time he had laid eyes on her in months. He felt his heart swell with the love that he had once hoped he could rid himself of. But that wasn’t possible. He was surprised to see the little Bit out on patrol. Buffy never allowed that before. But things had probably changed quite a bit since he’d been gone.

 

            He got the scoop about most everything that went on while he was away. Clem told him about Tara dying, and Willow going insane. He knew that Giles was back and that the magic shop had only recently reopened. He had stood out front, hoping to catch a glimpse of Buffy that night. But she hadn’t come. He supposed she had come earlier. But he was watching her now. She looked so beautiful. Even more so than he remembered.

 

            “Buffy what is it?” Dawn asked as Buffy continued to feel the presence of someone, or some thing.

 

            “I-I just thought I sensed something. But it’s nothing. Come on. Let’s move on to another cemetery. There’s nothing happening here.” Buffy said, shaking off the feeling.

 

            It felt like Spike. Something about the way the air was charged around her was familiar. Comforting and frightening all at the same time. It couldn’t be him. He was gone, and she had resigned herself to the fact that he wasn’t coming back. Still, a nagging in the pit of her stomach, told her that it was Spike she had felt back there.

 

            They made their way into the next cemetery. The one where Spike’s crypt resided. Buffy glanced over at it, and Dawn knew then why they had come here.

 

            “You think he’s back don’t you?” Dawn asked quietly.

 

            “I don’t know.”

 

            They made their way over to the door and opened it up. They walked inside together. Clem was playing solitaire on the couch and looked up when they came in. He stood up nervously.

 

            “Oh, hey. How’s it going?” He asked with a smile.

 

            “Good. Um, sorry to keep barging in here like this…” Buffy said apologetically.

 

            “Oh, it’s not a problem. I was bored anyway. You guys wanna play cards?” He asked.

 

            “No, thanks.” Buffy smiled. “I-I was just wondering if you’d seen Spike?”

 

            “Yeah.” He smiled, then he remembered that he wasn’t supposed to say anything. He quickly corrected himself. “I-I mean, yeah…I haven’t seen him. Nope. He’s still gone. Probably forever.” Clem lied.

 

            Buffy’s face fell a little and Dawn noticed it. She touched Buffy’s arm.

 

            “Oh. I just thought maybe he was back…But you’re right. He’s probably gone forever. Sorry I keep bugging you.” Buffy said, pretending it didn’t bother her.

 

            Clem saw that she appeared disappointed and he wanted to tell her the truth. He didn’t know why Spike wouldn’t want to see her. But he wasn’t going to betray him by telling her.

 

            “If I see him, you want me to tell him anything for you?” Clem asked.

 

            Buffy thought about it for a moment, and then decided against telling him anything.

 

            “That’s ok. I don’t really have anything to say. Thanks.” Buffy said, taking Dawn’s arm and leading them out of the crypt.

 

            “Okay, then. See you later. Are you sure you don’t want to play cards?” He called out after them.

 

            “Thanks, but we’ve got to get home.” Buffy smiled.

 

            Spike stood in the shadows and watched them leave his crypt. He smiled to himself.

 

            “She missed me.” He said softly.

 

            She had sensed him, and she had gone to his place to find him. That meant she missed him, he thought happily. Then he frowned. Either that, or it meant she thought he was back in town and went there to kill him. She might have even brought little sis there to help with the task. Cheer Buffy on a bit.

 

            He pushed his feelings away and walked into his crypt. Clem stood up and grinned at him.

 

            “Hey, you’re back.”

 

            “Yeah…What was the Slayer doing here? You didn’t tell her I was back, did you?” He asked him.

 

            “No. I didn’t say anything. Just like you told me. She seemed a little sad though. Why don’t you want to see her?”

 

            “It’s complicated.”

 

            “You could tell me.” Clem offered.

 

            “Things have changed. I’ve changed. And I’m not sure if Buffy’s ready to know about it yet.” Spike admitted.

 

            “Changed? How?”

 

            Spike looked at him and sighed. He needed to tell someone. He was dying inside keeping this secret. It took him a long time to try and come to terms with everything that had happened. And he still wasn’t there yet. He supposed it was time he try and explain it to someone else.

 

            “Sit down. This might take awhile.” Spike said, gesturing to the couch.

 

            “Oh, maybe I should make some popcorn?”

 

            “Yeah. You do that.” Spike said with a chuckle.

 

            Spike felt like he was getting ready to tell a ghost story to a bunch of boy scouts over a campfire. Only this wasn’t a ghost story. This was Spike’s life. And it was a hell of a lot scarier.

 

* * * * * * * * * * * *

 

 

            Anya walked into the back of the magic shop with a large box.

 

            “This just came for you.” Anya told Giles, who was reading over the financial records from the day before.

 

            He looked up at her and removed his glasses.

 

            “What is it?” He asked.

 

            “How should I know? It’s a box. I didn’t open it.”

 

            “Well, who is it from?”

 

            “It doesn’t say. The postmark is from Egypt though.” She said, examining the package.

 

            She put it down on the table in front of him and he stood up to look at it more closely.

 

            “I didn’t order anything from Egypt.” He said, leery of what might be inside the package.

 

            “Maybe it’s a bomb?” She offered.

 

            “Yes, well, let’s hope not.” He said, as he began to tear off the packing tape. He peered inside cautiously.

 

            “Well? What is it? It’s not a bomb is it?” Anya asked anxiously.

 

            “No, Anya. I’d say that the fact we aren’t blown up right now, means it’s not a bomb. It’s a book actually.” He said, pulling out a large, very old looking book.

 

            “Oh…Well, that’s anticlimactic.” She said with a frown.

 

            “You were hoping for a bomb?” He asked with a raised eyebrow.

 

            “No.” She said rolling her eyes.

 

            He smiled at her, and opened up the book. A piece of parchment paper fell out, and Giles picked it up and put his glasses back on..

 

            “Something you might be interested in.” Giles read the note aloud.

 

            “Who sent it?” Anya asked.

 

            “It doesn’t say. It appears to be a book of prophecies though. It’s written in ancient Egyptian though, so I can’t be sure.”

 

            Giles examined the book carefully, and Anya watched him. She caught herself admiring the way his brow furrowed when he was deep in thought. It was kinda sexy, she thought to herself. Then she realized that she had spoken the words out loud. Her eyes widened as Giles stared back at her, the corners of his mouth turned up slightly with amusement.

 

            “Come again?” He asked her.

 

            “I-I said that it’s sexy the way your forehead gets all wrinkly when you’re thinking too hard.” She said honestly.

 

            Giles grinned and removed his glasses once more.

 

            “Sexy, you say?” He asked her.

 

            She smiled at him.

 

            “Very.”

 

            There wasn’t much use in denying their attraction anymore. They both knew it. And even though they both attempted to ignore it, it was merely growing instead of waning.

 

            “I-I don’t believe anyone has said that to me in a very long time.” He admitted as he felt his cheeks flush with embarrassment.

 

            “Well, then they must be blind.” Anya said as she moved closer to him.

 

            He reached out and touched her face gently. She leaned in closer.

 

            “You’re quite beautiful yourself, you realize.” He said softly.

 

            “I don’t believe anyone has said that to me in a very long time either.” She whispered.

 

            “Well, then they must be blind too.”

 

            Their lips touched softly at first. They were both in awe of the electricity between them. Their relationship was bound to be extremely complex. Giles was still officially a Watcher. And Anya was still officially a vengeance demon. Albeit not a practicing one.

 

            Anya wrapped her arms around his neck and their kiss deepened. The ancient book slipped off the table as they leaned their bodies against it. It was forgotten momentarily in the wake of their newly discovered passion.

 

            “Hello? Is anyone back here?” Buffy called out loudly from the front of the shop.

 

            Giles and Anya released each other quickly, just as Buffy walked into the room. Giles had lipstick smeared around his mouth and he wiped at it hastily. Anya smoothed her dress anxiously and wiped at her ruined makeup.

 

            “We were just…uh, doing something.” Anya said quickly.

 

            “Yes, we were…reading…” Giles said picking up the ancient book off the floor. “This. Yes, we were reading this.” He said nervously.

 

            “It’s fascinating stuff.” Anya said with a smile.

 

            Buffy stared at them and sensed she had just interrupted something more than a reading session. The faint stain of pink lipstick could still be seen on Giles’ mouth. Buffy pretended she didn’t see it. She didn’t want to see it.

 

            “Did you need something?” Anya asked, wanting Buffy to leave.

 

            “Um, no. But there’s some guy out there that wants to buy something. I told him I’d come get you.” Buffy told her.

 

            “Right. Customers. I completely forgot about…Well, everything for a moment. I’ll be going now.” She said hurrying out of the room.

 

            Giles shifted uncomfortably under Buffy’s scrutinizing gaze. She said nothing and Giles put his glasses back on. He attempted to act naturally.

 

            “Did you come to see me?” He asked finally.

 

            “You were kissing her?” Buffy blurted out.

 

            “What? That’s preposterous. Of course not.” Giles said quickly.

 

            “Uh-huh. Right. So then I guess you picked out that pink lipstick you’re wearing. I must say, it’s an interesting new look for you.” Buffy said with a raised eyebrow.

 

            Giles wiped at his mouth frantically.

 

            “It’s not what it looks like.” He told her.

 

            “Really?”

 

            “Well, alright, it is. But—.”

 

            “You can explain?” She offered.

 

            “Yes. We were just…And then…Well, there was this book…” He stammered.

 

            Buffy just stared at him and he sighed.

 

            “Well, alright. Apparently I can’t really explain it either.” He said shaking his head.

 

            “Giles have you gone insane? That’s Anya. And you’re…all proper and British and old. You’re not supposed to be kissing her.” Buffy protested.

 

            “Yes, well, thank you for pointing out my geriatric condition.” He said dryly.

 

            “I’m sorry. You’re not old, old. You’re just way too old for her.” Buffy clarified herself.

 

            “Actually, she’s over a thousand years old, so technically…” He pointed out.

 

            “Still…It’s strange and icky. And, my god! What if Xander finds out? You’re stealing his woman!” Buffy exclaimed.

 

            “Please keep your voice down. First of all, I’m not stealing anyone. He left her at the altar if you’ll remember. And second, it was just a simple kiss. I seriously doubt it will ever happen again. Can we please talk about anything else but this?” Giles pleaded, desperate to get out of this situation.

 

            “But this is a huge deal. You and Anya? The vengeance demon? Xander’s ex-fiancé?”

 

            “As I said before, it was just a kiss. And I don’t think I need to justify myself to you, Buffy.” Giles said defensively.

 

            “But it’s—.”

 

            “Wrong? Rather like you and Spike were?” He asked her seriously.

 

            Buffy was silenced by his words. She looked down at her feet guiltily. She had no defense for that.

 

            “Right. I forget sometimes that you know about that.” She said softly.

 

            They stood there and looked at each other. Neither one had any more words for the time being. Finally, Giles spoke.

 

            “So, uh, was there something you wanted to see me about?” He asked changing the subject.

 

            Buffy regained her composure and her senses and sat down at the table.

 

            “It’s about Dawn.”

 

            He sat down across from her.

 

            “What is it? Has something happened?” He asked with concern.

 

            “No. No, nothing like that. It’s just that I’ve been taking her with me every night. On patrols? And she’s just…Well, she’s good. I mean, really good. I’ve barely taught her anything, and she kicks major ass. It’s freaking me out a little.” Buffy explained.

 

            “I see. Well, that’s good, I suppose. It’s comforting to know she can take care of herself.”

 

            “Yeah, but I don’t get it Giles. I mean, she’s strong. And tough. It’s like she’s been doing this almost as long as I have. I’m starting to think that maybe…”

 

            “You think she has Slayer blood?” He continued her thoughts.

 

            “Yeah.” She whispered. “I mean, she does. I know she does, because she’s made out of me. But I didn’t really think that she was like me, you know? Is that even possible?”

 

            Giles furrowed his brow again and rubbed his temples.

 

            “Buffy, anything is possible where Dawn is concerned. We don’t really know all that much about what she is exactly.”

 

            “She’s my sister. And she’s just a girl.” Buffy protested.

 

            “Buffy, you know that’s not entirely true.”

 

            “But if that’s not true, then what is she?” Buffy asked softly.

 

            “She’s quite possibly something we’ve never seen before. If she is as good as you say she is, then perhaps there is more to her than we’ve considered?”

 

            “What do I do?” Buffy asked.

 

            “Nothing. Just be her sister. That’s what she needs. And in time, if things develop, then we’ll go from there.” He told her.

 

            Buffy thought for a moment and looked up at him.

 

            “She’s just growing up so fast.”

 

            “And so are you.” He smiled.

 

            “I feel like I’m a hundred.” Buffy laughed, as she rolled her eyes.

 

            “Welcome to the geriatric club.” Giles said with a small smirk.

 

* * * * * * * * * * *

 

 

            Spike stood out in front of Buffy’s house. He had gone there intending to see her. But then as he stood there staring at the familiar dwelling, he wasn’t sure he could do it. He couldn’t just walk up to the door and say, ‘Honey, I’m home’. He still wasn’t certain that Buffy even wanted to see him. Clem said she appeared sad to hear he was still missing. But Clem was just a big softie, and might have been trying to spare Spike’s feelings. He wasn’t sure.

 

            Spike tensed up when he saw the door open. He ducked behind the neighbor’s bushes and watched. Dawn emerged alone, and closed the door behind her. Buffy wasn’t with her this time. That was odd. He had assumed she was home, but he didn’t know for sure. He decided that he should follow Dawn to see where she was off to. She shouldn’t be out here alone, he thought to himself.

 

            He followed distantly behind her as she made her way to one of the cemeteries. She pulled a stake out and twirled it in her fingers. This made Spike pause for a moment. Then he kept walking. Apparently, Dawn fancied herself a Slayer now. That was bound to get her killed. Or worse. If Buffy knew what she was up to, she’d go ballistic.

 

            He stopped behind a tree and watched as a vampire emerged from his grave. Spike immediately felt his heart drop to his knees. The little Bit was going to get herself killed. He couldn’t just stand by and let it happen. He started running towards where she was standing. At the same time, Dawn spun around and slammed her stake right into the rising vampires chest. He exploded all around her. She smiled and brushed her clothes off.

 

            “Too easy.” She said to herself.

 

            As the dust settled, she looked up to find a flabbergasted Spike staring straight at her. Her eyes widened, and she wasn’t sure whether to run into his arms, or stake him on the spot for what he had tried to do to Buffy before he left.

 

            “Impressive.” Was the only thing Spike could think to say.

 

            “Spike? My god…You’re back.” She said, completely surprised.

 

            “I’m back, Niblet.” He smiled cautiously. He was still reeling from how quickly and effortlessly she had dusted that vampire. And also because he wasn’t entirely sure he wasn’t going to be next.

 

            “When?” She asked softly.

 

            “Not long. Who taught you how to take care of business like that?” He asked.

 

            She shrugged.

 

            “No one. I learned it myself. And, well, from watching Buffy.” She explained.

 

            “She know you’re out here all alone?” He questioned her.

 

            “No. She’s at work. But I can take care of myself. As you saw.” She said as she tilted her head towards the pile of dust collecting at Spike’s feet.

 

            “Right. You sure can.”

 

            They both stood there silently. Spike hadn’t intended on blowing his cover like this. And Dawn was unsure how she was supposed to react to Spike. Everything was different now.

           

“So then…Well, I’ll be going.” Spike said finally. He figured that it was safer just to leave now. It was obvious Dawn had lost her warm fuzzy feelings for him. With good reason, he had to admit.

 

            He turned around slowly and began walking away.

 

            “Why did you do it?” Dawn asked him.

 

            Spike turned around and faced her again.

 

            “Why did I do what?”

 

            “Try and hurt her. Like that…I thought you loved her.” Dawn said softly.

 

            Spike lowered his head shamefully.

 

            “I never meant to hurt her.” He whispered.

 

            “Well, you did.” She said, putting her hands on her hips.

 

            “I know.”

 

            He said, turning around to leave again. He was too ashamed that Dawn knew the truth about what he had done. He had no suitable excuse. There wasn’t a suitable excuse for his actions.

 

            Dawn watched him walk away and she was torn. She felt badly that he was hurting. But on the other hand, she was also glad he felt bad after what he had done. Still, she couldn’t let him walk away like that.

 

            “She missed you.” She called out after him.

 

            He turned again and looked at her.

 

            “She did?”

 

            “Yeah…We both did.” She added softly.

 

            He smiled at her.

 

            “So much has changed since you left.” She told him.

 

            “Yeah, it has. More than you know.” He said to her.

 

            “What do you mean?”

 

            “I’ll tell you later. Look, don’t tell Buffy you saw me, okay?”

 

            “Why not?”

 

            “Because…Just don’t, okay?”

 

            “Are you gonna hide yourself away forever? Eventually she’s gonna find out you’re back.” Dawn told him.

 

            “I know. But not yet.” He smiled.

 

            Then he turned around and walked off again. This time she let him go.

 

            “Be careful out here, Dawn.” He said, without looking back.

 

            “I will.” She assured him, as he disappeared into the night.

 

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

           

            Giles sat at a table in the Magic Box. He had been trying to decipher the text in the book he had received in the mail. He still wasn’t sure exactly who had sent it to him, or why. But it was most definitely a book of ancient prophecies.

 

            Anya walked over and handed him a cup of tea. The store had closed an hour ago, but Giles had remained after to study the book. Anya sat down across from him.

 

            “So what does it say?” She asked him curiously.

 

            “I’m having some trouble with some of these words. But it seems to be talking about warriors of some type.” He said, removing his glasses and rubbing his tired eyes.

 

            “Maybe I can help?” She offered cheerfully.

 

            “Do you read Egyptian?”

 

            “A little.”

 

            He pushed the book over to her and she studied it carefully.

 

            “This is the phrase that I can’t seem to decipher.” He said, pointing at the words.

 

            “Um, I think it says ‘three warriors that should not be’ or ‘not known to be’. Does that sound right?” She offered.

 

            “Possibly. What about this next part. I was able to get ‘dead’ and ‘living’. What do you make of that?”

 

            She looked at it again and tried to translate what little she knew of the language, in her mind. Finally, it clicked.

 

            “Oh, I’ve got it!” She smiled happily. “Three warriors… a Trinity, that should not be. Neither dead nor of the living.”

 

            “Exactly! That’s it.” He said, seeing the translation now. He smiled at her. “I didn’t realize you read ancient Egyptian.”

 

            “Well, I spent some time in Egypt, back in the twelfth century. They still used a lot of these words.” She admitted.

 

            “Right. Well, thank you.” He said sincerely.

 

            “What do you think it means?” She asked, pointing at the book.

 

            “I’m not sure. Not yet. This is just the first passage. It’s going to take some time.”

 

            “You want me to stay and help?”

 

            “You don’t have to. You can go home if you’d like. I’ll lock everything up here when I’m done.” He assured her.

 

            “Or I could stay.” She smiled as she reached over and touched his hand.

 

He grasped her hand tightly and smiled at her.

 

“Are you certain? It’s all very boring to you, I’m sure.”

 

“Yeah, but you’re doing that brow crinkling thing a lot. And well, you know…I’m a sucker for that.” She said with a grin.

 

She leaned over the table and kissed him again.

 

* * * * * * * * * * *

 

 

            Buffy walked through the cemetery trying to find Dawn. She had gotten home from work and realized Dawn wasn’t at home. Her gut instinct told her that Dawn had decided to go out patrolling alone. Normally, Buffy didn’t work nights, but she had to fill in for someone else tonight. She had lost her job at the Doublemeat Palace when all Hell had broken loose with Willow.

 

            Apparently having a psycho friend who was trying to end the world, wasn’t a suitable excuse for missing a weeks worth of shifts without calling. It was just as well. She hated that job anyway. She had gotten a job at a small clothing store on Main Street. It was a lot nicer than flipping double-meat all day. And a lot less draining on the psyche.

 

            She shook her head and mumbled to herself about how she was going to kill Dawn for this. If she wasn’t dead already. That was the problem with all this. Dawn suddenly thought she was Supergirl. That kind of thinking was bound to get her in trouble.

 

            Buffy was walking so briskly and completely lost in thought, that she didn’t see the low gravestone in front of her. She tripped over it, and landed flat on her stomach in the damp grass.

 

            “Damnit! Dawn… I’m gonna strangle you for this.” She muttered as she spit out a mouthful of grass.

 

            She looked up and saw a pair of boots standing in front of her. Her gaze traveled upwards revealing the owner of the boots.

 

            “Hello Cutie.” Spike smiled at her.

 

            She stared at him in shock and disbelief. And also some embarrassment that she was lying face down in the cemetery, with grass on her face. But he’d seen her in worse positions before.

 

            “Spike?”

 

            “It’s me.”

 

            She scrambled to her feet and attempted to brush off her now grass stained khaki pants and her white t-shirt.

 

            “Wonderful.” She muttered as she saw that her clothes were ruined.

 

            “Wonderful to see me?” He asked.

 

            She just looked at him and said nothing. She didn’t know what to do. She had been convinced that he was gone for good, just like Clem had told her. But now here he was. And suddenly she didn’t know how she felt about that. Should she be happy? Sad? Pissed off?

 

            “Where were you?” She asked finally. That seemed like a safe question.

 

            “I had some things to take care of.”

 

            “Things? What things?”

 

            “Personal things.” He said secretively.

 

            “Right. Well, good.” She said shifting her feet awkwardly.

 

            “Right.” He nodded his head. They were silent again for a long time, and finally Spike spoke again. “I’m so sorry.” He whispered.

 

            “About what? Leaving? You don’t need to be sorry.” She said dismissively.

 

            “No, not about leaving. About the other…”

 

            “Oh, yeah…Well, I don’t want to talk about that. It’s over. It’s done. It’s forgotten.”

 

            “It’s not forgotten. Buffy, what I did…I never meant…” He said unsure of what exactly he wanted to say.

 

            “I know. Look, things were just really out of control. For you…For me. You didn’t have to leave town.” She told him seriously.

 

            “That’s not why I left. Not exactly. But, I had to go. There were some things I needed to do. Things I needed to figure out.”

 

            “Did you figure them out?”

 

            “Yeah. Most of them. Look, I know you don’t love me. You never have. I see that now. And it’s alright. I accept that now.” He said sincerely.

 

            “You do?” She whispered softly.

 

            “I do.”

 

            “Then why’d you come back?”

 

            “Because…This is my home. If you’ll let it be, that is.” He added, giving her a questioning look.

 

            “I don’t own this town. It’s a free country.” She said with a shrug.

 

            “Wrong. You do own this town. You and little sis apparently. Did you know she was out here all by herself scaring the vamps right out of their graves?”

 

            “What? You saw Dawn? Out here? And you just let her go?” Buffy asked incredulously.

 

            “What was I supposed to do? She was clutching that stake of hers pretty tightly. And I saw first hand what happens to a vampire who gets in her way.” He said with a small chuckle.

 

            “Oh my god…She’s gonna get herself killed.” Buffy shook her head unhappily.

 

            “Relax. She seemed to be holding her own. What happened to her while I was away?” He asked her curiously.

 

            “I’m still trying to figure that one out.” Buffy said as she looked around her. “Which way did she go?”

 

            “That way.” He pointed across the street.

 

            “I’ve got to find her.” Buffy said purposefully.

 

            “Right then. I’ll see you around.” He said, as he turned in the opposite direction.

 

            She looked at him and let out a deep breath.

 

            “I’m glad you came back.” She said quietly.

 

            “You are?”

 

            “Yeah.” She looked at her feet and kicked at the grass. “I have to go.”

 

            “I’ll be around.” He told her.

 

            “Me too.” Buffy turned around and walked quickly across the street to hopefully locate Dawn.

 

            Spike watched her walk away and sighed deeply. That hadn’t gone as badly as he feared it would. Of course, she hadn’t thrown herself into his arms and smothered him with kisses either. But she didn’t hate him. She was willing to forgive and forget. Maybe they had a chance at starting this whole thing over? That’s what he was hoping for. A second chance. And then maybe he’d be able to tell her everything.

 

* * * * * * * * * * * *

 

            Buffy sat in the training room of the Magic Box playing with the zipper on her jacket. Giles walked in and watched her for a moment. She was completely lost in thought, and didn’t even hear him enter.

 

            “Is everything alright?” Giles asked her concerned.

 

            She looked up startled.

 

            “Yeah, everything’s cool. I was just getting a little training in.”

 

            “Yes, well, you’ll be in top form for the championship zipper pull next month.” He said wryly.

 

            She looked down at her nervously fidgeting fingers and laughed.

 

            “Okay, so I was doing more thinking than actual training. But my intentions were good.” She grinned.

 

            He sat down next to her on the bench.

 

            “Something’s troubling you. Is it Dawn again?”

 

            “No… I mean, yeah, it is. Did you know she went out patrolling by herself last night? She’d dusted four vampires before I found her and dragged her home.” Buffy told him.

 

            “She did?”

 

            “Yeah. I was so mad. But that wasn’t really what I was thinking about.” She admitted softly. “Spike’s back in town.”

 

            “Spike? I see. Well, how do you feel about that?” He said, looking up at the ceiling.

 

He had been hoping Spike was gone for good. It would save him the trouble of thrashing him for getting involved with Buffy. When he found out that Buffy and Spike had been together, his first reaction had been to laugh. It was the only way he could keep his head from exploding at the shock of it. But he hadn’t really had much time to absorb the information, when Willow had broken out of her magical hold and tried to kill them all again.

 

“I’m not sure how I feel about that. I thought I’d be happier with him gone…But I missed him.” She said softly.

 

“Buffy, I’m not going to tell you how wrong it is for you to be involved with him. You already know that.”

 

“I do. I totally know that. And nothing can ever happen between us again. But, it’s still strange seeing him. He seemed different.” She said shaking her head.

 

“How so?”

 

“I can’t really put my finger on it, but something was different. He was quieter…or maybe just sad? Or…I don’t know. He just wasn’t the same.”

 

 “Sounds like an improvement.” Giles smiled.

 

“He said he figured some stuff out. But he wouldn’t tell me what.”

 

“Perhaps it’s not for you to know.”

 

“You’re right. It doesn’t matter. So what if he’s back? There’s nothing between us anymore. That was my choice. And it was the right choice.” She said trying to convince herself.

 

“Yes, it was most definitely the right choice.”

 

“Then why does it still hurt?” Buffy asked sadly.

 

Giles only hugged her tightly. He couldn’t answer that for her. He knew why, but he didn’t want to speak the words out loud. Buffy hadn’t just had a desperate fling with Spike. She had fallen in love with him. Giles couldn’t even begin to grasp the confusion that Buffy must be feeling. Or the confusion he was feeling himself over his feelings for Anya.

 

Sometimes, people fell in love with the wrong person. Or maybe it was the right person, but the wrong time? Or maybe when it came to love, there could be no wrong or right? He had the suspicion that the latter may be true. But sometimes people had to do the right thing. Even if it hurt.

 

* * * * * * * * * *

 

            That evening, Giles was still working on the prophecy book. He gathered his notes and the ancient text and put them into his briefcase, while Anya bustled around him closing up the shop.

 

            “You know, these crystal amulets are really selling well. I think we should order more. Maybe in different colors?” She said, going through the sales log.

 

            “Whatever you’d like.” He said, preoccupied with putting his items away.

 

            “Are you going home now?” She asked with a slight pout.

 

            “I was planning to, yes. I need to finish this, and I’ll probably be up all night. It’s best I just go home now.” He said, picking up his briefcase and looking at her.

 

            “Oh…well, you usually work on that stuff here. You know, so I can help.” She said with a small smile.

 

            “Do you really want to help?”

 

            “Yeah…And I thought you’d want the company. You know, my company?” She said with a half smile.

 

            Neither one of them had openly admitted their feelings for each other. But they were there. A stolen kiss in the back room, ‘accidentally’ brushing up against each other in passing, holding hands over the table as they talked. All the signs were there, but nothing had truly been spoken.

 

            He looked at her then lowered his head.

 

            “Anya, I’m not sure we should be doing this.” He said quietly.

 

            “Doing what? Working on the book together?” She asked confused.

 

            “No…This. Whatever this is between us. I think maybe we should put a little distance.” He told her.

 

            It pained him to try and step back from all this. But he couldn’t help but fear that getting involved with Anya was a mistake. She was one of Buffy’s friends, she was a demon, and she was formerly engaged to Xander. It was all very complicated. Not to mention, that for all appearance sake he was twice her age. And most importantly, he was planning to return home to England in a few weeks. He hadn’t told anyone yet when he was leaving, but he had already purchased the ticket.

 

            “You don’t like me?” She asked hurt and confused.

 

            “Anya, of course I like you. You’re wonderful. You’re very intelligent and beautiful. You’re everything any man could ever want.” He said sincerely.

 

            “Then what is it? Is it because I’m a vengeance demon? Is that it?” She asked defensively.

 

            “No. It’s not. It’s more complex than that.”

 

            “Well, explain it to me. Because I’m starting to feel very hurt. And I don’t like feeling hurt.” She said looking at him sadly.

 

            “I think that maybe we should just keep things professional between us. It’s better that way.” He said, not really convinced of that fact.

 

            The last thing he wanted to do was hurt her. But he was also trying to be logical and reasonable. He was trying desperately to listen to his brain and not his heart.

 

            Anya crossed her arms angrily and glared at him.

 

            “Fine. Leave then.”

 

            “Anya…”

 

            “It’s fine. I don’t care if you don’t like me, because right now, I don’t like you very much. You’re stuffy and boring and that look on your face right now is neither sexy nor intriguing. So just leave now.” She told him huffily.

 

            Giles wanted to go to her and tell her that he cared for her deeply. And that he was wrong to try and stop it all from happening. But instead, he just clutched his briefcase, lowered his head and walked out the door.

 

            Anya slumped down in a chair and felt the tears on her face. Why did she let herself care about another man? They were all worthless. And love only leads to pain and heartbreak, so why was she even attempting to start another relationship? She wondered to herself.

 

            “Because he’s not worthless. He’s smart and sexy and funny…Damnit! Why can’t he be worthless so I can hate him.” She answered her thoughts out loud.

 

* * * * * * * * * *

 

            Giles walked into his apartment slowly. He flipped on the light and put his things down on the table. He took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes. He shouldn’t have pushed Anya away. But he felt at the time it was the proper thing to do. Stop things before they got out of hand. Before either of them did something they might regret. Only, he was feeling regret now. Regret for going against what they both wanted.

 

            He opened his eyes and turned around to go into the kitchen. He was startled and jumped back.

 

            “Ahh!” He shrieked, as he came face to face with a teary eyed Anya. She had teleported herself into Giles’ living room.

 

            “Sorry. But it’s quicker this way.” She shrugged.

 

            “Anya…”

 

            “Look, I know you said you didn’t think we should see each other like this…And I know I said I didn’t like you anymore, but that was a lie.” She began to tell him.

 

            “Anya, please—.”

 

            “No, let me finish. I-I have feelings for you. The warm, fuzzy type of feelings. The ones where my stomach does that flippy thing, and my heart beats really fast. The kind of feelings that make me smile when I think about you. And make me wonder what you’re thinking about when you’re all quiet and taciturn. And I can’t stop them just because you say I should.” She told him seriously.

 

            He looked at her affectionately.

 

            “I know.”

 

            “And just because things are a little complicated, doesn’t mean—.”

 

            “Anya, I know. I was wrong.” He interrupted her.

 

            “You were?”

 

            “Yes, Anya. I was wrong.”

 

            “Oh…So you do like me?” She asked hopefully.

 

            He moved over to her and put his hands on her shoulders.

 

            “Very much so.”

 

            “Is your stomach doing that flippy thing?” She asked with a smile.

 

            “As we speak.” He smiled back.

 

            She leaned up and kissed him passionately. He pulled back and looked at her with a half smile.

 

            “Are you sure you want to do this?” He asked.

 

            She responded by kissing him again. They fell onto the couch together, and Anya glanced over his shoulder at the briefcase on the table.

 

            “Oh, what about your work?” She asked him breathlessly, between kisses.

 

            “I suppose it can wait. It’s already thousands of years old, what’s another few hours?” He smiled at her. “Besides, I’ve been told I’m boring, so perhaps I should try and rectify that?”

 

            “Well, you’re doing a good job so far.” She said, kissing him again.

 

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

 

            The next morning, Giles was in his kitchen making tea. He heard a knock at the door and frowned. He looked over at the clock and noted the early hour. He went to the door in his bathrobe and pulled it open.

 

            “Giles, I need to talk to you.” Xander said, pushing his way into the room.

 

            “Xander? What on earth are you doing here? It’s only 7:30am.” Giles said anxiously.

 

            “It’s Spike. He’s back in town. Dawn just told me when I was dropping her off at school. We’ve got to do something.” Xander said hurriedly.

 

            “First of all, I already knew that he was back. And second, it’s not a very good time for me. You should come by the shop later and we’ll discuss this.” Giles said, wanting to get Xander out of the apartment quickly.

 

            “You knew he was back? And you didn’t kill him? I mean, after what he did to Buffy?”

 

            “We can’t kill him. Wait, what did he do to Buffy?” Giles asked suddenly perplexed.

 

            “She didn’t tell you?”

 

            “Tell me what?”

 

            “Man…You are so not gonna like this.” Xander said shaking his head.

 

            “Rupert? What’s taking so long? Come back to bed.” Anya said sleepily as she wandered out into the living room wearing only Giles’ shirt.

 

            “Oh my god! Xander!” Anya said with shock.

 

            “Oh sweet mother of…Oh my god.” Xander said completely dumbfounded.

 

            “And I can see you’re not going to like this.” Giles muttered awkwardly.

 

            “You? A-and you?” Xander said looking back and forth between the two of them. “When? How? What?”

 

            “I’m very sorry Xander. I never meant for you to find out like this.” Giles said remorsefully.

 

            “Really? And how were you going break it to me? You’re sleeping with my—.”

 

            “I’m not your anything, Xander. We’re over.”

 

            “Right, so then I guess it’s okay for you to just sleep with every guy I’ve ever met.”

 

            “Stop it! That’s not true.” Anya said defensively.

 

“Isn’t it? I mean, first Spike? Now, Giles? At least your taste is improving.” Xander said full of hurt and confusion.

 

“Rupert is definitely a step above you.” Anya shot back at him.

 

            Giles looked over at Anya, still trying to absorb Xander’s last remarks.

 

            “Spike? You’ve slept with Spike too? Is there no woman in Sunnydale that is immune to his charms?” Giles asked shaking his head.

 

            “It was one time. It meant nothing. I was hurt and angry and it just happened. You know that, Xander.” Anya interjected.

 

            “And this? What exactly is this?” Xander pointed at the two of them.

 

            “I love him.” She said sincerely.

 

            “Oh my god.” Xander shook his head.

 

            “You love me?” Giles asked her with surprise.

 

            She nodded her head and smiled.

 

            “This is insane. Everyone is completely insane. And you know what? To make myself feel better? I’m gonna go kill Spike myself. I don’t need your help.” Xander said, slamming the door behind him.

 

            Giles and Anya stood there looking at the door that Xander had just slammed. Anya couldn’t help but feel sorry for him. This wasn’t the way she pictured him finding out about this. But this was also her life to do as she pleased with it. The day Xander left her at the altar, everything changed. She realized that while he wasn’t ready to settle down and get married, she was.

 

            Giles stood there scratching his head. He wanted to know what Xander was talking about in regards to Spike and Buffy. Apparently there must have been something she had left out when she confided in him. Either way, he knew Buffy had deep feelings for Spike. He couldn’t allow Xander to kill him for whatever reason.

 

            “We have to call Buffy.” He said finally.

 

            “Why?”

 

            “Because, Xander is going to kill Spike. We need to stop him.” He explained.

 

            “Right. I should get dressed. I can beat Xander to Spike’s crypt. I’ll just zap myself there.” She said, turning for the bedroom.

 

            “Oh, and Anya?” Giles called after her.

 

            “Yes?”

 

            “I love you too.” He smiled.

 

* * * * * * * * * * * *

 

 

            Buffy ran into the kitchen and picked up the ringing phone.

 

            “Hello?”

 

            “Buffy, it’s me. We have a problem.” Giles told her.

 

            “What? What is it?”

 

            “It’s Xander. He’s in a rather bad mood this morning, and it seems to cheer himself up, he’s decided to kill Spike.”

 

            “What? How does he even know that he’s back?” Buffy asked.

 

            “Apparently, Dawn told him this morning on the way to school. But listen, he said there was something you didn’t tell me about you and Spike. Buffy what happened? Why is Xander out for blood?” Giles inquired.

 

            “Giles, I can’t explain now. I need to stop him.” Buffy said hurriedly.

 

            “Anya is getting dressed, then she’s going to try and stop Xander as well.”

 

            “Good. Wait? Getting dressed? At your place?” Buffy asked with a raised eyebrow.

 

            “Um, yes, well, I told you Xander was in a bad mood. Perhaps, I left out the why.” He said awkwardly.

 

            “We seriously need to talk, Giles.” Buffy said disbelieving. “But we’ll do it later. I need to go.” She added quickly.

 

            Buffy pulled on her shoes and ran out the door. This was the second time she’d had to run to Spike’s rescue because Xander was bent on his destruction. And Spike not being able to fight back alarmed her. She hoped that she could make it in time, or that Anya would be able to talk sense into him. Although she doubted that, since Xander had apparently just learned that Anya was sleeping with Giles. A concept that still gave Buffy a major wiggins when she thought about it.

 

            Anya zapped herself into Spike’s crypt, and startled Clem who was watching cartoons.

 

            “Oh!” He shrieked as he fell off the couch.

 

            “Sorry, Clem. Um, is Spike here?” Anya asked.

 

            “Uh, yeah. He’s downstairs.” He said nervously. “Spike!” He called out.

 

            Spike pulled himself up the ladder and looked at Anya. Seeing her again was a little awkward after what they had done. He shifted uncomfortably.

 

            “Anya.”

 

            “Spike, listen. Xander is on his way to kill you, so you might want to hide or something.” She said quickly.

 

            “Kill me? Why? Is he still sore about us?” He asked.

 

            “No. Well, yeah, he is. But that’s not it. There’s something else apparently. He says he wants you dead.”

 

            “Bloody hell…” Spike muttered. He realized that he must know about what happened that night. “Right, then. I’ll get gone, right quick.” Spike nodded his head.

 

            “Too late, pal.” Xander said as he burst through the door. “I should have done this ages ago. You have a lot of nerve showing up back in town again.”

 

            “Xander, stop this. Killing him won’t solve anything.” Anya interjected.

 

            “But it will sure make me feel a lot happier.” Xander said, approaching Spike, and grabbing him by the collar.

 

            “Look mate, I don’t know what Buffy told you—.”

 

            “She told me the truth. What you tried to do to her…You’re sick.” Xander hissed as he tossed Spike backwards, and he hit the wall.

 

            “It wasn’t like that. I swear.” Spike told him as he stood to his feet.

 

            “Xander, stop. Whatever it is, Buffy doesn’t want you to kill him.” Anya told him.

 

            “Well, then Buffy is crazy. It’s just too bad she never could do the job herself.”

 

            Xander punched Spike across the face, and he reeled back. Clem watched the scene in the corner. He wasn’t much of a fighter, so all he could do was watch and hope that his best friend didn’t die.

 

            Xander kicked Spike in the gut, and he doubled over. Spike was furious. He couldn’t let Xander think he could get away with this now. He wasn’t going to get beat up or die just because Xander thought he couldn’t fight back. He hauled back and punched Xander square in the jaw. He stumbled back, and clutched at his face. Then he looked at Spike who was not in any pain.

 

            “Your chip?” He asked with recognition setting in.

 

            “Gone.” Spike smirked.

 

            “Good. Now I really have a reason to kill you.” Xander said as he launched himself in Spike’s direction again.

 

            Spike tried his best to duck the punches, and dealt his blows carefully. He didn’t want to kill Xander, but he could have. That’s why he was trying to hold back.

 

            “I don’t wanna hurt you, mate.” Spike said, breathlessly.

 

            “But I wanna hurt you. And stop calling me mate.”

 

            Xander grabbed Spike’s shirt and shoved him towards the still open door. The sun was low in the sky, casting shadows over the doorway.

 

            “Care to take this outside?” Xander asked, as he pulled Spike closer to the door.

 

            “Xander don’t!” Anya shouted.

 

            Just then, Buffy ran up and saw Xander and Spike struggling in the open doorway. Buffy could already see what Xander was trying to do.

 

            “Xander stop it!” She shouted as she ran closer.

 

            All at once, Xander used all his force and launched Spike out of the open doorway. He flew into the grass, and lay right at Buffy’s feet. It took a moment for everything to sink in. Spike sighed and looked up at Buffy’s astonished face. He shielded his eyes from the bright sun, so he could see her more clearly.

 

            “Why aren’t you on fire?” She whispered in disbelief.

 

            Xander walked out, past a gaping Anya who was in the doorway. He stood over Spike. His face was a mask of confusion.

 

            “What the hell?” He shook his head.

 

            “Spike? What’s going on?” Buffy asked him.

 

            “Yeah, what’d you do? Invest in some SPF five million? Why aren’t you dust now?” Xander asked shaking his head.

 

            “Because I’m not a vampire anymore, you moron.” Spike said as he pulled himself to his feet.

 

            “Huh?” Buffy asked still trying to get used to how amazing it was seeing Spike in the sun.

 

            “Then what are you?” Xander asked.

 

            “I have no idea.” Spike said shaking his head sadly.

 

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

 

 

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