Rupert had waited until almost one in the morning, before he left his room and made his way down to the main office.

Opening the door he peered inside, the room was empty.

Clutching a slip of paper tightly in his hand, he entered the room. Closing the door behind him, he made his way to one of the computer terminals. With each step he took, his heart began pounding a bit harder.

He had to do this; there was no other way.

He didn't know whom to trust anymore.

That wasn't true, but unfortunately, she was in America.

Shaking his head, he sent a silent prayer to the heavens that he would remember most of what Willow had tried to teach him.

Sitting down at a vacant desk, Giles reached for the mouse. He noticed that his hand was shaking.

'Get a grip old man. You can do this... I hope,' he thought to himself.

He moved the mouse on the desk, watching the arrow moving on the screen. After a few attempts he was able to move it to the Internet icon.

Looking quickly at the door, then down to his notes he had placed on the desk, he double clicked on the icon.

Subconsciously he bit his lower lip. He kept sneaking peeks at the door, wondering if he would be discovered.

Although there were no rules stating that members could not use the Internet services, he didn't want to be caught.

'Good... I think?' he mused as the Internet provider main page appeared on screen.

Looking at his notes, he moved the arrow to the open button on the top of the screen.

Another window appeared.

He typed the address for the e-mail account that Willow had written down months ago, for when he was supposed to buy himself a home computer.

Hampered by the fact that he was only using one hand, he typed as quickly as he could.

Entering his name, and then his password, he waited until the menu selection appeared.

Choosing, Compose, he wrote his first ever e-mail to Willow.


I need your help.

I fear something is amiss, concerning your kidnapping. As well as the attack on my person.

Anything you, Buffy, or the others can do to shed some light on the subject would be most helpful to me.



He hit the send button. He received confirmation that the e-mail had been sent.

'Blast it all,' he thought. He had wanted to tell Willow that he missed her terribly, but couldn't do it. He didn't want to leave the message that way, but he couldn't remember how to delete the silly thing. He breathed a heavy sigh of relief.

“Hello Rupert. Can I help you with anything?” Mary asked as she entered the room, somewhat surprised to see him there this late.

“Um... no... no. I... I was checking my e-mail,” he smiled. “Nothing new,” he shrugged, as he logged off the computer.

“Lucinda left a note asking that we let you know when Sir Henry brought back the files on Miss Summers. Would you like me to check for you, see if they're back?” Mary said, going to her desk.

“If you wouldn't mind too terribly?”

“No problem at all,” Mary replied, bringing up Buffy's files, on the computer, and then checking the logbook.

“You're in luck Rupert. It seems as if Sir Henry brought the file back late last night. Would you like to see it now?”

“Yes... yes I would.”

Mary had already been told by Lucinda about Sir Henry's request, and had seen the new binder for Rupert's Slayer. She didn't like the deception, but she went along with it.

“Here you go Rupert,” she said handing him the file.

“Thank you Mary,” he replied as he took the binder. “I'll just look at it over there,” he gestured to the empty desk he had been sitting at.

“You could sign it out Rupert,” Mary offered.

“No... umm, that's quite all right,” Giles said walking over to the desk.

“You'll excuse me, I have to finish this file,” Mary told him.

“You've been most helpful, thank you Mary. I'll... I'll try not to disturb you.”

Glancing over quickly, he saw that Mary had indeed begun to finish the project she had been working on. Opening the binder, he read the overview of Buffy's life. It was spelled out before him in black and white.

Where she was born, along with a copy of her birth certificate.

What schools she had attended...

Copies of her report cards, along with school photographs.

She had been a beautiful child growing up, he noticed as he looked at the pictures.

Her smiling face, staring back at you.

The events that led to the death of her first Watcher, Merrick.

Yet, there was nothing there that said how traumatic her experience had been with the Master.

How she was plagued with nightmares for months on end.

He had seen it first hand.

He had tried to help her, but she had to overcome her fears.

Otherwise, she wouldn't be able to fulfill her destiny.

She had to do it on her own.

And she did.

He gave Buffy more credit than he let on...

He wanted to be there for her, when she needed it...

And he would be there the times when she would resent his presence in her life.

He had to she was the Slayer.

Giles flipped through the pages, looking back at Buffy's school pictures, he sighed.

He knew how she longed for a normal teenager's life.

Without having to care about the fate of humanity, weighing on her shoulders each night.

How the legacy that had been thrust upon her had taken away from her the carefree days that high school was supposed to be about.

'Carefree to a certain point,' Giles mused.

He had almost overlooked the request he had Willow e-mail for him. The one to the home office about the books Xander had gotten for him.

“That's odd?” he whispered. He looked through the binder, yet he could not find any mention of the store or its owner anywhere.

It wasn't the case for the other times he had requested materials from the Council. He went through the pages once again, to make sure he hadn't missed anything.

'It's not here,' he shook his head. 'Perhaps it hasn't made it into the file yet?' He found the copy of the message that had been sent to him. Informing him of the test the Council wanted him to prepare Buffy for. But nothing else, he found no mention of when it was to take place.

He'd have to ask Sir Henry about it, it may have been postponed due to his attack.

He glanced at his watch, it was three in the morning. 'Willow should be out of school,' he thought to himself. Wondering how long it would be before she'd reply to the message he had sent.

Sunnydale, CA.
Sunnydale High School Library

“Hi Miss Foster,” Willow said as she walked into the library. “I got here as soon as I could.”

“Good evening Willow. How are you doing today?” Shae replied looking up from the book she had been reading.

“I'm fine, thank you. Is there anything you need looked up? Some spell? Anything?” she asked.

“As a matter of fact, there is. Could you check for sites that deal in possession?”

“Possession? Like... like Linda Blair, Exorcist kinda thing?” she squeaked.

“Yes, like Linda Blair, Exorcist kind of thing,” Shae replied.

“Wow... is someone possessed? Are animals involved? 'Cause that could be very bad.”

“No... nothing like that. I wanted to continue some work I had started before I came to Sunnydale. If you don't mind?”

“No... anything I can do to help...”

“Thank you Willow. I know this must be unusual for you, helping me, while Mr. Giles is away.”

“No, not unusual, just... different,” Willow shrugged. “I'll get right on it,” the hacker replied going to the computer terminal.

“Thank you Willow. As I'm going out with Buffy tonight on patrol, I won't have the time to do it myself.”

“Okay,” the hacker replied sitting down at the computer terminal.

“Oh, Willow?”

“Yes Miss Foster?” Willow answered, turning around to face Giles' replacement.

“It seems that the Council needs a statement from you, Buffy, and anyone else involved with... what happened. There's no rush,” Shae said as she saw the turmoil on the teenager's face.

“Umm, sure... okay. I'll work on it later,” Willow replied.

“Like I said, 'no rush'. I'll be right back; I think I'll grab something to drink. Would you like anything?” she asked.

“No... I'm fine. I'll start the search,” Willow said, as she sat down and logged onto the computer. A thought drifted to the forefront. 'This is how all this mess started. Looking something up,' she mused. Willow did not hear Miss Foster return to the library a few minutes later, as she was engrossed in the search. She had book marked a few sites, believing they were what Miss Foster most likely had in mind. After an hour had passed, Willow decided to check for her e-mail. It wouldn't take very long.

Entering her login name and password, she clicked on the enter button and waited.

Willow turned to see both Buffy and Miss Foster come out of Giles' office carrying some books. Buffy had arrived almost a half hour ago.

Turning back to the monitor, she noticed she had one new message.

Scrolling down, her eyes widen in shock...

It was from Rupert...

Moving the mouse to the message, she clicked on it.

She read the message:


I need your help.

I fear something is amiss, concerning your kidnapping. As well as the attack on my person.

Anything you, Buffy, or the others can do to shed some light on the subject would be most helpful to me.



Willow read the message once again.

He was asking for the same thing Miss Foster had asked her for.

Except Rupert's message seemed more urgent, desperate in some way.

She sent a reply, unsure of when he'd get it.


Miss Foster just asked me to do the same thing.

Would you like us to send the same ones?

I... I hope you're doing well... back home.

What do you think is wrong?

Is it something I should tell Buffy?

Or Miss Foster?

Let me know. I'll check for your reply later.

You... you could call... OR not...

It's up to you.

I'll send you what I've written when I'm done with it, not that I've started it yet, but you know what I mean.


She hit the send key before she realized that she had written 'Love' at the end of the message.

'Oh lordy,' she thought.

London, England

“Excuse me Rupert?”

“Mmm, yes Mary?” he said looking from the binder.

“Would you care for some coffee? I was about to get some?”

“No, thank you Mary. I'm almost finished here,” he replied.

“All right. I'll be right back,” Mary answered getting up from her desk.

“Uh... Mary?”

“Yes Rupert? Have you changed your mind?”

“Uh... no. I... ah... I just thought I'd let you know that I might be gone when you've come back.”

“Okay. If you are, good night then.”

“Good night Mary, and thank you for your help.”

Mary smiled briefly, and then left the room.

Giles hadn't gotten any closer to solving the somewhat mysterious situation he found himself in.

'This is not getting me anywhere,' he told himself. Closing the binder, Giles was about to leave when he decided to check if Willow had responded yet. It was a long shot he knew, but something told him to check anyway.

He also knew he only had a few minutes before Mary returned from the kitchen.

He saw that he had one message it was from Willow. He also noticed that she had sent it a few minutes ago. Meaning she was either at the library or at home. He read the reply.

'I see Sir Henry's on top of things,' he thought. “Love Willow,” he read out-loud, a grin appearing on his face.

“I'd better answer this,” he said.

He clicked on the reply button:


Thank you for replying so quickly.

Yes, I would like a copy of what you and the others give to Miss Foster.

I... don't think you should let her know. It's not that I don't trust her, it's just that, for right now, I'd rather she not know. I'll explain things to you later.

Things are well. I've had a chance to catch up with some friends that I haven't seen since I arrived in America.

I... I'd like to call.

I'm not sure when I should. I don't wish to disturb you, if you're sleeping.

If you could let me know when would be an appropriate time. I'll do my utmost to phone you at the arranged time. I must leave.

I don't want anyone to know that I'm investigating this matter.

Take care of yourself.

Give my regards to Buffy, and the others.

I... love you too.

Rising out of the chair, he took the binder and walked over to Mary's desk, leaving it there.

Opening the door, he looked down the hall in the direction of where the kitchen lay.

No sign of Mary, he walked back to his rooms, where he thought about Willow and the ending of the e-mail she had sent him.

Sunnydale Library

Willow had spent another hour searching about possessions for Miss Foster when she decided to check her e-mail.

There was a small part of her that thought she was being silly, there was no way he could have replied so soon.

Willow saw that she had one new message on her account.

“Gosh, he must have read it right after I sent it,” she whispered.

At first, it was a straightforward reply to her e-mail, then it became more personal.

By the end, she couldn't keep from feeling giddy. There it was in black and white...

“I... love you too,

The muscles in her face began to ache, she had been smiling the entire time.

With a slight bounce in the chair, the smile still plastered on her face, Willow wrote a short reply. She arranged to speak with him on Saturday, 12 noon, her time.

She could hardly wait.


“Yes, Buffy?” she replied, looking up from the computer monitor.

“Miss Foster and I are going to be leaving soon. Do you want us to drop you off at home?”

“No, I already called my dad, he should be here in another five minutes.”

“You sure?” Buffy hated the thought of something else happening to Willow. She had made the decision to keep an eye on her. She didn't think Giles could take it again.

“Yes, I'm finished anyway,” Willow replied, closing the browser.


The rest of the evening flew by, Willow had begun writing down the events as she could recall them for the Watcher's Council, and then she saved the information on a disk.

Willow met up with Xander at school the next morning. She told him what Miss Foster had asked her yesterday.

“Hey, Will?” Xander said as he placed his hand on her shoulder.

“Yes Xander?”

“We forgot to tell G'man about that Mercury guy before he left,” he said.

“Oh my gosh... you're right. Um... I think I should let him know right away...” she began.

“What do you think he's gonna do?” Xander asked as they walked through the hall on their way to the library.

“I don't know, but...” Willow looked around. “I don't think we should tell Miss Foster.”

“Really? Why not?” he asked.

“Well, Giles thinks there's something wrong. He wants to see what we send to the Council without Miss Foster knowing about it,” she said.

“You don't... think she had anything to do with it? Do you?”

“No... I don't, she might be in the dark about this as we are,” Willow replied.

Nodding his head, Xander agreed with her. “Okay, I've got to find Cordy, dang if I'm not going to put on a monkey suit after all. I'll see you later, lunch?”

“Sure, I save a table for us. Bye Xander...” she said, watching her best friend wave good-bye.

Willow went into the library, she saw the time, and it was almost 10:30 in the morning. Biting her lip, she decided to wait until she got home to send Rupert the e-mail. Turning around, she left the library and hurried to her English class.

London, England
Friday Night

The gavel came down upon the desk, and the soft whispers that had been heard in the room, stopped. All eyes were on the seven men seated at the table, some of them were younger than Henry, yet they each had the look of wisdom upon them. As if they had seen and done things in their lifetimes that they wouldn't wish upon anyone gathered in the room.

The study had been rearranged to resemble a courtroom. Matthew was seated behind the man he had chosen to defend him against the charges that had been brought up against him.

This was only the preliminary stage.

The charges were going to be read into the record, the actual presentation of the evidence would not take place for another week. Giving Matthew time to go over the evidence with his defender.

He clutched a copy of the Articles that bound each member of the Watcher's Society, he re-read them prior to entering the study:

Article 1

No member, shall in any way, do harm to the Slayer, or a Slayer in training.

Article 2

No member of the Society, shall, with malice aforethought, bring about either by order, or direct contact, harm in any way, to another member of the Society, unless directed by the unanimous vote of the High Council. Nor shall any member do harm to any person(s), unless under extreme crisis, i.e., the member is threaten with immediate bodily harm, i.e., death.

Article 3

No member shall by subterfuge, have other members assist in any way to circumvent the Council's authority.

He didn't bother reading the rest of the Articles, as they didn't apply to him.

“We are here to decide what, if, any punishment should be administered to a member of our Society,” Sir Henry began, “Mr. Lewis,” Henry gestured to the young man seated to the right of Mary, “Would you please read the charges?”

Evan Lewis stepped to the forefront of the table holding a sheet of paper in his hand. Mary was there recording each word, her fingers typing away on the stenography machine.

“The charges against Matthew Halloway, hereby known as the defendant, are as follows:

1. The defendant willfully disregarded Articles 1, 2, & 3 of the Society's Charter.

2. The defendant, destroyed property to cover his acts.

3. The defendant, while a member, risked innocent lives in direct violation of Charge 1, already mentioned previously.

4. The defendant, lied to his superiors, as well as attempted to falsify records to elude detection, pursuant to the above charges.

5. The defendant did detain a civilian, a Miss Willow Rosenberg; against her will, for the purposes of luring Miss Buffy Summers, the Slayer, into a trap. Also a direct violation of Article 1, of the Watcher's Society Charter.”

Evan concluded, and then sat back down.

Sir Henry stood up, and looking in Matthew's direction, asked, “How do you plead?”

Matthew stood up, straightening his jacket and tie, looked Sir Henry directly in the eyes and answered, “Not Guilty,” then sat back down.

Henry didn't expect any other answer from Matthew. In that, he wasn't disappointed.

“This inquiry will reconvene next Friday at the same time. You all have been told earlier that the High Council will have the final say in the matter,” Sir Henry began as he glanced around the room. Bringing the gavel back down upon the desk he said, “The preliminary stage is completed, dismissed.”

With those words, the seven members of the High Council, except for Henry, filed out of the room first. Henry stayed behind, making sure the study was returned back to its original state.

Rupert had gone into town with Rory. They wouldn't return for another hour or so. He wasn't sure how they were going to handle Rupert's presence once the main proceedings began next week.

Henry watched as Matthew walked towards the door, two men flanked him. They would be escorting Matthew back to his room. Now that formal charges had been brought up against him, he would be kept under 24-hour guard.

It was different from how Rory and Kenneth had kept him under surveillance that had been done discreetly. This would be out in the open, and would continue until the verdict had come in.

Although the Society had prided itself on being very straightforward in its judicial proceedings, the extra measure of the guards had been mandated.

It stemmed from an unfortunate incident that took place over five hundred years ago.

The accused, after being charged with a crime had been allowed to freely roam the old headquarters. He took it upon himself to eliminate a few of the witnesses, and since that time, although the accused was innocent, until proven guilty, guards would accompany the accused to make sure the same thing would not happen again.

Sunnydale High School

After Willow had told Buffy and the others that she had finished her part of the report the Watcher's Council had asked for, Buffy and Xander began to write their account while having lunch.

Willow explained that she would take the hand written reports and scan them into her computer at home and transfer the information on to a disk, allowing her to send them as an attachment by e-mail.

London, England

Giles and Rory had returned to the compound from their trip hours ago.

Sitting at the desk in his room, Giles was going over Buffy's files. He had checked them out and wanted to go over them with a fine toothcomb.

There was something there, something he wasn't seeing. He was going to check his e-mail account later on, to see if Willow had sent him the information he had requested.

His alarm went off, it was now midnight.

Closing the binder, which left him feeling frustrated, he glanced at some of the notes he had made.

-- Where is the request for the books he had sent for prior to his attack?

-- Where was the information on his attack?

-- Where was Shae's name?

He hadn't seen any mention of Shae being named Buffy's new Watcher while he was recuperating from his injuries.

-- Where is the e-mail from Sir Henry, requesting the accounts from Buffy and the others?

-- How did Sir Henry know about Willow?

That one was the most puzzling of questions he had asked himself time and again. Nowhere in Buffy's binder was there any mention of Willow's kidnapping to be found.

Removing his glasses, Giles rubbed at his eyes. There was only one way he could think of to find out what was happening, and it involved using the computer again.

He was seriously reconsidering his aversion to the dreaded machine.

Putting his glasses back on, he pushed himself away from the desk and stood up, gathering his notes. Folding the notes in half, he placed them in a book he had on his desk, “Demonology- Fact or Fiction?” He returned it to its proper place in the bookshelf.

Opening the desk drawer, Giles pulled out two sheets of papers; on them he had written notes for what looked like an academic paper.

The title on the page was: “Holy Water vs. The Cross: What is the most effective way to ward off Vampires?”

He smirked, he had actually written a paper on the same subject a few months ago. He had never turned it in for academic review by his peers.

Something had told him to leave the notes out in the open; anyone seeing them would think he was keeping himself occupied on some mundane topic. Not on searching for the truth that he felt was being kept from him.

Putting his jacket back on, Giles subconsciously patted his breast pocket and went to the main office.

Sunnydale High School

By the time school had let out for the weekend, Buffy had handed over a 10-page report.

Glancing at it briefly, Willow realized that by the time she had scanned everyone's report into her computer, she would know more about what had happened to her and Rupert than anyone else would. They only had their parts of the incident and Willow would have everything. It would be like a big jigsaw puzzle, with only Rupert's part missing.

Willow caught up with Xander and Cordelia at the library.

As Cordelia was the only person with the least involvement, her report was only 2 pages long; Xander's was 5 pages long.

Willow decided to e-mail Rupert and ask him if they should ask Angel to write out an account of what had happened.

Willow spoke with Miss Foster and explained what she had planned. She didn't mention that she was going to send Rupert the exact same information she would be giving her.

“That's an excellent idea Willow. I'll forward it as soon as you send it,” Miss Foster told her.

“Okay, I'll see you Monday,” Willow replied. She told Xander and Cordelia good-bye as she left the library.

“Hey... Wills!!”

The teenager turned around and saw Buffy jogging towards her.

“Hello Buffy, what are you doing here? Don't you have to be at the library?”

“I wanted to talk to you, but you had already left. Besides I told Shae...” Buffy started, when she saw the questioningly look on Willow's face. “Yeah,” she nodded, “She said I could call her by her first name,” Buffy shrugged.


“Look, she's okay Willow. But she isn't Giles; she doesn't want to take his place. I don't want her to take his place either; we've already discussed it. Confidentially, I don't think she likes the idea of having to wear tweed,” Buffy said. “I can only take Giles in tweed...”

Willow smiled. 'I can think of something better,' she thought, as she brought up a mental picture of Rupert in his faded blue jeans.

“Willow...? Earth to Willow?”


“Give, who were you thinking of? No one can have the look you had on your face without thinking of someone... spill.”

“No... no one, Buffy, really. You'd... you'd be the first, well, not the first to know... that... that would be me... and then the guy, he'd... he'd,” she squeaked.

Shaking her head, Buffy said, “I get the point Will, I get the point.”

“Um... Buffy?”


“I... I would tell you, you know... about someone,” Willow said as they continued walking down the block. “May... maybe not right away... but, I'd tell you.”

“That means a lot to me Willow. Well, enough of this, what are you doing tomorrow?” Buffy asked, pushing back her desire to tell Willow that she knew how Giles felt about her. It was getting harder for her to do, she hoped her friend would 'fess up, and soon.

“Tomorrow?” Willow replied, 'You mean besides talking with Rupert? Nothing.' she thought. “Yes, as in the day after today, but before Sunday... you know tomorrow? Saturday?”

“Umm, nothing... in the afternoon. Why?”

“Great, how about we rent some videos and stuff ourselves with popcorn. A good old-fashioned slumber party? Wadda ya think?”

“Sure, umm, that sounds great. What time?” Willow asked. 'Please not 12... please not 12.'

“How 'bout six?”

“Six is good,” Willow replied, rapidly nodding her head.

“Okay, I'll see you tomorrow night then. I've got to get back, see ya,” Buffy told her as she turned and started jogging back up the block towards school.

“Bye Buffy, see you tomorrow,” Willow replied. She watched until she no longer saw Buffy, before walking home.

London, England
Saturday Morning
03:10 AM

Giles had returned to his room as quickly as he could without arousing suspicion.

He was seething.

He was being lied to.

He had come from the front office, where he had intended to see if Willow had sent him a new e-mail.

After he walked into the office, he noticed that Mary wasn't behind the desk.

In fact, Mary was sick, and a replacement had been located on short notice to fill her spot.

Her name was Amanda.

Giles had introduced himself to the young woman.

Something told him to ask her a question.

Never anticipating the answers he would receive.

“Yes... um... Amanda? Is it?”

“Yes, Mr. Giles, how can I help you?”

“I believe I'm missing the most recent update on Miss Summers files. Could... could you look in the computer and see if any new reports were added within the last two weeks?”

“Of course Mr. Giles, one moment please.” Amanda typed Buffy's name into the system and waited.

Sunnydale, California
Rosenberg Residence

Willow had been upstairs scanning the reports into her computer. She couldn't believe half of what she had read.

Once she'd completed the task, she logged on the Internet, and chosen her e-mail account address from her bookmarks section.

After typing her login name and password, she first selected Rupert's name from her address book. Under subject, she typed, “URGENT!!” “Rupert,

I need to tell you something we completely forgot about.

Xander recognized the man who kidnapped me.

He was the same person you had sent Xander to get those books you needed.

Jason Mercury.

I'm not sure how this will help you, but there you have it.

By the way, would you like us to ask Angel for a 'report' on what happened?

I'll talk to you tomorrow.

Be careful out there.


She clicked on the send button and watched, as the confirmation appeared that the e-mail had been sent.

Choosing compose, she sent an e-mail to Miss Foster TO: shaefoster

Subject: Completed reports.

“Miss Foster,

I've finished the reports the Watcher Council has requested.

See you Monday.

Willow Rosenberg.”

Willow sent the e-mail, she heard her mother calling her for dinner. Logging off the computer, she went downstairs.

London, England

“Well, Mr. Giles, there seem to have been a few entries made within the last week or so. Is there anything in particular that you're looking for?” Amanda asked.

“As... as a matter of fact, there is. Could you bring up the name of the person I was to contact for the research materials I had requested for me?”

“Of course,” Amanda replied. “Here you are, the gentleman's name is Jason Mercury. Do you need the name of the bookstore as well?” she asked.

“Ah... no, that's... that's quite all right. Um... Amanda? Does it tell you the date the binder was updated with that information? I believe that the pages might have fallen out,” Giles asked.

“Let's see... hmm? It was a month ago,” Amanda said as she looked up from the computer screen.

“Yes, I thought as much. Thank you, thank you very much Amanda, you've been quite helpful.”

“Is there anything else I can help you with Mr. Giles?”

“No... thank you. If you'll excuse me, I need to check my e-mail account,” Giles said as he went to what he come to refer to as his desk.

Getting on the Internet, he was finding, was becoming easier for him. He noticed that Willow had written 'URGENT!!!' in the e-mail subject. He hoped there was nothing wrong.

“Oh... my God,” he whispered, as he read the message. Clearing his throat, he looked over to Amanda, “Um... ah, excuse me... Amanda?”

Turning in her chair, she looked over at Rupert, once more suppressing the urge to ask him what kind of accident he had been in.

“Yes Mr. Giles?” she replied, noticing his pale complexion.

“Ah... yes, Amanda... you did say the man's name is Jason Mercury?”

“Yes I did.”

“Um... yes, that's what I thought. Thank you,” he replied and turned back to the computer monitor and read the message again.

He left shortly there after. He had to think, he needed a plan.

He paced back and forth, muttering under his breath from time to time.

Glancing at his watch, he saw that it was five in the morning.

If he were going to do something, it would have to be now.

His course of action decided, he headed for the door. Once he had reached his destination, he began to doubt himself.

Sir Henry was an honorable man surely he wouldn't withhold information.

'Would he?' he asked himself.

Then one thought rose to the forefront of his mind.

The one thing that made him open the door to Sir Henry's office and step in.

'Willow.' Whoever Jason Mercury was, he had hurt not only him, but he had kidnapped the one person he loved more than anyone else.

And Jason Mercury would pay for that offense, and pay dearly.


Rosenberg Residence

Willow awoke the next morning to find the day gray and cloudy.

Frowning, she had hoped that the weather would cooperate with her and remain sunny and bright.

Exactly the way she felt.

Smiling, she reached under her pillow and found the piece of paper she had placed there last night before she went to sleep.

She knew it was silly of her to have done it, but she couldn't help it.

Unfolding the paper, she smiled and felt unabashedly happy, giddy, and every other emotion she could think of.

She had printed out Rupert's last e-mail, and cut everything except...

“I... love you too,

Sighing, she giggled. Bringing the note to her face, she recited a line from Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet”. “Then move not while my prayer's effect I take, thus from my lips, by yours, my sin is purg'd.”

She kissed the note.

Clutching the note to her breast, Willow reluctantly got out of bed.

'Four more hours... four more hours,' she told herself, and left her room and went downstairs for breakfast.

London, England

Giles sat in the pub, nursing his drink. He had been there for two hours now. He glanced around, noting absentmindedly men playing darts in the corner of the pub.

He was going to call Willow...

He was just thinking of what to tell her...

Would he tell her?

How could he force himself to say that she was almost...?

Giles swallowed the bile that rose in his throat.

He thought back to this morning...

Sir Henry's Office

Giles entered the office, quickly shutting the door behind him.

There was barely enough light for him to see by. He wouldn't the risk the chance of being discovered.

Walking over to Sir Henry's desk, he looked for anything that might point him to the right direction.

Giles sat in Sir Henry's chair, opening the desk drawers. Reaching over, he glanced at the door to the office before turning on the desk lamp.

Taking out manila folders, Giles searched, although he wasn't exactly sure what to look for.

He quickly turned off the lamp when he heard voices outside in the hall. His heart was pounding in his chest; he had no idea how to explain his actions had he been caught.

Putting the folders back in the drawer, Giles was about to leave when his hand hit the remote control for the television set.

Frantically trying to locate the off button, he inadvertently hit the 'play' button for the VCR.

Glancing at the screen, then back to the remote, Giles was about to stop the tape, when his mind finally registered what was playing on the screen.

'Buffy?' he thought. She was fighting someone.

Moving closer to the set, Giles watched as she fought. In the back of his mind, he was analyzing her technique. He thought that they would need to improve her blocking, as some of the kicks from her opponent got through her defenses.

He watched in amazement, as did the man Buffy was fighting, when she used a metal railing to flip over her opponent.

'Nicely done Buffy,' he thought to himself. Giles suddenly stopped the tape, a frown on his face. He couldn't recall taping Buffy fighting against anyone.

Curious about what he had watched, Giles looked down at the remote control. Finding the rewind button, he pushed it. He wanted to see the tape from the beginning.

The Boar's Head Pub

That was over twelve hours ago.

He had been sickened by what he had seen on the tape.

He felt each blow, as he watched himself take a beating, from the unknown assailant.

His heart lurched when he saw Willow being brought into his office, unconscious.

He never knew, what had happened after he had been knocked out.

“Don't you touch her!” he heard himself saying to the screen, unable to stop what had already happened. It still affected him.

He had moved closer to the television screen, the anger he felt at what he watched, seeped through every pore.

He stood still; his breath had caught in his throat.

The knife that had been impaled earlier in his desk was in view once again.

“YOU BASTARD!” he growled.

It had taken all the self-control he possessed, not to have ripped the television set from the cabinet.

He stopped the tape, he couldn't watch anymore.

He had sat in one of the chairs, trying to calm down.

He found himself unable to control the murderous thoughts that ran rampant in his head.

As quickly as he had sat, he was on his feet again. A nervous energy flowed in his body. He knew what he would do to the man from the tape if he ever saw him.

He had started pacing in Sir Henry's office; his breath came in short bursts.

He wanted to desperately find some sort of safety valve, something where he could release some of the anger he felt. His hand opening and closing as he had muttered to himself.

“He's dead... I don't believe this... he's dead... dead. I'll rip him apart... not... dead,” he had said.

In his mind's eye, he saw elaborate ways of disposing of the man who had threatened his Willow.

His life.

Voices in the hall, outside Sir Henry's office, snapped him back to reality.

As quietly as he could, Giles walked over towards the door. Placing his head on the door, he listened, trying to make out what was being said.

“Do you want to wait inside?”

“No... I think I want to get something for breakfast first,” came the reply.

Putting the remote control back on the desk, Giles knew it was time to leave.

Opening the door slightly, he peered out into the hall he noticed it was deserted.

He left Sir Henry's office, and went back to his room. Where it had taken him well over an hour to calm down. The murderous rage he felt, slowly dissipated from his system...

Now, he was sitting in the pub, thinking back to what he had done.

Giles was startled briefly as the alarm in his watch went off. Glancing at it, he saw that it was 6PM. Placing his drink on the table, Giles walked over to the phone booth. He sat down and closed the door. Taking out his wallet, he fished out his credit card. Picking up the receiver, he dialed the operator.

“How may I be of assistance?” came the voice.

“Yes... I... I'd like to make a long distance telephone call please,” Giles replied.

Sunnydale, CA.


“Hello... can you hear me?”

“Giles... is that you?”

“Yes... it's me Buffy. How are you?”

“I'm fine. How are you doin'?” Buffy asked, sitting down at the kitchen counter.

“Buffy... I... I... need to ask you something?”


“I... uh... I need you to go to my apartment... and get something for me,” he said.

“What am I getting?”

“Yes... um... in my... my bedroom, there is a night stand next to the bed. There's... there's a small box... inside. Could... could you give it to Willow for me please? It's... it's very important,” he asked.

“Hey... Giles? Are you okay?” Buffy asked.

“Yes... I'm... I'm fine,” he sighed.

“This is me you're talking too, remember Giles? Not some complete stranger, what's wrong?”

“Buffy... I... I promise you... I will tell you later. It's important to me that Willow... that she gets the box before I call her.”


“Please... do this for me. You don't have much time, I'm to call her at twelve,” he said.

“Fine. But... if you don't tell me what's wrong... I'll... I'll... get Miss Foster to tell me where you are, and I don't know how... I'll come over to England and drag it out of you,” she warned him.

“I... promise, you have... you have my word of honor. I'll explain everything later,” he told her.

“Well... all right then. But you promised. Don't let me down Giles,” Buffy said.

“I... I won't,” he said. He knew he wouldn't dare go back on the promise. He could just see Buffy arriving at the compound... no, he didn’t want to think about it.

“Okay... I'd better get going. I'll talk to you later,” Buffy said.

“Thank you Buffy. I'll speak with you soon,” Giles replied.

“Right... bye,” Buffy said hanging up the phone.


Giles looked down at his watch. The whole conversation had only taken minutes, but he felt as if hours had passed.

He had to do this...

Just in case something went wrong.

Rosenberg Residence

Willow was beside herself with excitement. 'Fifteen minutes... fifteen minutes,' she thought. She couldn't wait to hear his voice again.

The way he said her name... Will-low.

It gave her goose bumps.

“Umm... hi Will,” Buffy said standing at her bedroom door.

“BUFFY!” she exclaimed. “You're... early!”

“Yeah... you're mom said it was okay to come up,” she said as she stepped into her friend's bedroom.

“Is there something wrong?” Willow asked. All the while thinking, 'Why now? Why now?'

“No... I... ah... well... that is... here,” Buffy said, as she thrust a small felt box into Willow's hands.

“What's this?” Willow asked, a puzzled expression on her face, looking from Buffy to the case and back.

“Um... Giles...” Buffy watched as Willow's head snapped back her way. “He... he called me, this morning. He asked me to bring this to you...”

Willow swallowed as she slowly opened the case, and revealed its contents.

“Oh... MY... GOODNESS!” Willow exclaimed.

Buffy walked around Willow and looked over her shoulder.

“Wow,” Buffy said.

“Why?” Willow thought out-loud.

“It's beautiful Will,” Buffy told her.

“Um... he... he... probably... this can't be the right box... no... it can't be right. You... you have to take it back Buffy,” Willow said, closing the case.

“It was the only one Will,” Buffy answered.

“There has to be some... some mistake...”

“Will... he loves you,” Buffy whispered.

“Giles? Buffy... what are you saying?”

“He told me Will.”

Looking down at the case, Willow asked, “How... how long?”

“Since that night... in the library,” Buffy replied.

“You... you don't hate me?” she asked plaintively.

Buffy reached out and brought Willow's face up. “Why? Why in the world would I hate you Willow?”

“For... for not telling you?” she said.

“Will... I understand completely why you didn't,” Buffy answered.

“Xander... he... he doesn't know... does he?” Willow asked anxiously.

“No... he doesn't. I'm not going to tell him, that's up to you... you and Giles.”

Willow sighed; Buffy could feel the relief pouring off her friend.

“You don't know how many times I wanted to tell you Buffy... honest.”

“That's okay... come on, let's get a better look at it,” Buffy said, seeing the confusion on Willow's face, “Will!! Open the case again.”

Smiling sheepishly, Willow opened the case once more. “It's beautiful,” she said.

“You've got to hand it to good ol' Giles. He's got taste, now, if we could only get him to change his clothes...” Buffy teased.

Willow gingerly took the ring out. She was entranced by the color, the way it danced.



Both Willow and Buffy were startled by the telephone; Willow reached over and picked up the receiver.





“Yes, Willow, it's me. Has... did, ah... um... has Buffy arrived yet?” Giles asked hoping that Buffy had managed to get there in time.

“Yes, she's here, she just got here. Do... you, do you want to talk with her?” Willow asked.

“No... um, did... did she um... yes. Did she give you something?” Giles had no idea how hard this conversation was going to be.

“Giles? Rupert? Could you hold on a sec?”

“Of course,” he replied.

Placing her hand over the mouthpiece, Willow turned to Buffy.

“Um... Buffy? Do you... do you think?”

“Say no more. I'll go visit with your mom... unless, you'd rather I came back later?”

“NO... I want you to stay... please?” Willow pleaded.

“No problem, say hello to him for me. And tell him not to forget his promise,” Buffy said, then left Willow's room and headed downstairs.


“Yes Willow?”

Making sure Buffy had truly left, she told him, “I've missed you... terribly.”

“Probably not as much as I have Willow,” Giles replied.

“Did you... the ring? Why?” she asked.

“Ah... yes, the ring. Umm... do you... like it?” he asked hesitantly.

“Oh... Rupert... it's beautiful.”

“It... ah, it's been in my family for a long time. My mother gave it to me several years ago, as part of an inheritance, on one condition...” he began.

“Really, what was it?” Willow was curious about the ring.

Clearing his throat, he said, “Ah... yes... um... that... that it remain in the family. So that it might be passed down to the next generation... or something like that,” he trailed off.

“I... I don't think I understand Rupert?”

“Well... um, this isn't quite the way I thought... yes... ah. I'm only to present it to the one person... the one person, who I... um,” Willow could hear a banging in the background. “Hold on one moment Willow, please?”

“Okay,” she said.

“Yes... I'm on the phone... I'll be out shortly. What? I beg you, allow me another five minutes...”

Willow could not make out the other voice.

Look here, I'm trying to ask someone to marry me. Would you please allow me the common decency... I'll be off in a few minutes...”

'No... no... he didn't ... nah... I'm hearing things. Did he? He couldn't... could he have? No... no... I didn't hear that. Did I?'

“Thank you very much. Ah... Willow?” Giles said.


“Yes... I'm terribly sorry about that. Now, where was I?”

“One person?” Willow replied automatically. Her thoughts as well as her heart were racing a mile a minute.

“Ah... yes, 'one person'. Well... I'm only to give the ring to the one person... I... um... I wish to um... marry,” he muttered.

“What was that Rupert? I didn't hear that last part?”

“Blast. Willow... this isn't the way I pictured doing this. I... I wanted to wait, until after your birthday. When we were both sure... that is... when...”

“Giles! Rupert, what are you trying to tellme!?!”

“Marry me Willow.”

There he had said it.

“Marry... marry you?” Willow squeaked.

“Yes... Willow. Dearest, sweetest Willow, marry me.” Giles could hear silence on the other end of the phone. “Damn... this isn't the way I wanted to do this. I wanted to take you out for your birthday, some fancy restaurant... or perhaps I could have cooked for you at my apartment. Go for a walk underneath the stars, with plenty of wolfs bane of course. Get down on my knees and ask, beg if I had to... not this... this over the phone business, you deserve more than that...”


“You deserve everything to be prefect, nothing out of place... what did you say?”

“I... I said, yes.”

“Yes?” he couldn't believe his ears.

“Yes Rupert. Y-E-S... I'll marry you!” Willow told him; tears of joy streaming down her face.

“Will? Is it all right for me... Will... what's wrong?” Buffy said as she rushed to her friend's side.

“Willow... are you there?” Giles asked.

“I'm here... Buffy walked back in,” Willow replied.

Willow could hear knocking once again in the background. She wondered where exactly had Rupert been calling.

“Willow... I have to leave. Thank you... thank you. I love you. I must go... I'll speak with you later. I love you Willow... never forget that. I love you more than I can express... good-bye.”

“I love you too Rupert... I love you too... good-bye.” Willow heard the dial tone.

Buffy was somewhat surprised to hear Willow's declaration to Giles. It was one thing to hear Giles say he loved Willow; it was something else to actually hear Willow say it. She watched as Willow hung up the phone.

“Will... are you okay?” she asked.

“I'm better than okay Buffy. Giles... Rupert... he asked me to marry him.”

“HE WHAT!?!”

~ London, England
Boar's Head Pub

“Come on 'Bert. Sir Henry's waiting for you,” Rory said.

“Yes... I'm coming,” he replied, looking at the phone once more before leaving with Rory and Kenneth. They left the pub, getting into the car, and headed back to the compound. 'At least I've told her,' he thought, wondering what he had in store for him when he returned.

“HE WHAT!?!”

“He asked me to marry him Buffy!” Willow exclaimed, the realization of what occurred hitting her.

“Whoa,” Buffy uttered, sitting on Willow's bed. “The ring? That's what it was for?”

“Yeah,” Willow replied, facing Buffy. “It's been in his family a long time.”

“What did you say?” Buffy asked.

“I said yes. I told him I'd marry him. He was so happy Buffy, I wish I could have seen his face,” she said wistfully.

“Put it on,” Buffy told her, gesturing to the ring.

Willow smiled and started to put the ring on her finger, when she stopped.

“What's wrong Will?”

Placing the ring back in the felt box, Willow replied, “I... I think I'll wait, 'til he comes home. Um... I'd... I'll let him put it on, it... it would be more 'official' I guess,” she shrugged.

“Wow! This is big... huge even, of course I get to be the maid-of-honor,” Buffy beamed.

“Of course... we wouldn't have it any other way,” Willow hugged her friend.

“So... what's it like?”

“What's 'what' like?” Willow responded.

“You know... being engaged?”

“Um... nice?”

“Is that all you can say, Will, 'nice'? I mean... there's got to be more than that?”

“I don't how I feel Buffy. I mean this was so sudden...” Willow began to frown.

“What is it Wills?”

“Buffy... something's wrong...” Willow started.

“What do you mean 'wrong'?”

“I'm just thinking about what Rupert said before he hung up.”

“What did he say?” Buffy asked.

“He told me that he loved me... 'Never forget that', he said. Buffy? Why would he say that?”

“Come on Will. This is Giles we're talking about. Mountain out of a mole hill kind of thing.”

“This is different Buffy. I can't explain it... I can feel something wrong.”

London, England
Sir Henry's Office.

“Have a seat Rupert,” Henry directed.

Giles walked over to the chair facing Sir Henry desk.

“Do you have anything to say?” Henry asked.

“Nothing... except... I'd do it again,” Giles replied.

“I see,” Henry said, threading his fingers together.

“How did you find out?”

Gesturing towards the television set, “The tape...” Giles responded.

“You care for her a great deal... don't you Rupert?”

“Yes... I've grown quite fond of Buffy...”

“Rupert... don't play games with me. You know whom I'm referring to,” Henry said.

“I love her. I've loved her from the first moment my eyes beheld her,” Giles said looking directly at Sir Henry.

“I could tell there was something, when I saw your reaction when Miss Rosenberg was brought into your office.”

“I didn't know it was that obvious,” Giles replied.

“I've known you for a long time Rupert. I can honestly say that I have never seen the depths of emotions run so high for anyone before... that includes...”

“No... you don't need to bring her up,” Giles said. “I've asked her to marry me, and to my utter delight and continued amazement, she has accepted.”

“Has she now?”


“That doesn't change why we're here. You know that don't you?” Henry asked.

“Yes... I understand.”

Henry stood up from his chair and moved to the liquor cabinet and poured two glasses of brandy. Walking over to Giles, he handed him a snifter.

“Thank you,” Giles said, taking the drink.

Sitting back down, Henry swirled the dark amber liquid, before taking a sip. He enjoyed the sensation as it slid down his throat and left a warmth in his stomach.

“At least you didn't kill the man,” Henry said breaking the silence.

“I would have... if... if it hadn't been for my arm.”

“I believe you would Rupert, I believe you would.”

It had taken both of the guards to pull Giles off Matthew.

Giles didn't know what to do with himself after he had left Sir Henry's office.

He had tried to sleep, that didn't work.

Each time he closed his eyes, the events from the tape would play back in his mind.

He spent the remainder of the day contemplating. He knew he would be speaking with Willow later that evening.

He couldn't wait to talk with her, if it hadn't been for the tape, the telephone conversation would have most likely have been the most eventful thing to happen today.

He realized that leaving had been a mistake. The distance between them only made his heart ache for her if nothing else.

Seeing her picture on the nightstand only reminded him of what he had left behind.

But... before he could return to her, he had to find out who Jason Mercury was.

He had to avenge Willow's honor, he would not be able to live with himself if he didn't try.

He had gone over in his mind, the events that had led to his beating and Willow's kidnapping.

He knew, regrettably, that there was nothing he could have done. There was nothing to indicate that his attack was even coming.

He had tried, and that was all he could have done, the odds were against him.

He knew that he would rather die, than allow any harm to come to Willow.

But, the threat had been made.

'Call her, or we'll get her ourselves.'

He had tormented himself too long.

'This is not getting me anywhere,' he thought.

Around five in the afternoon, he had decided to stop moping and went out for some fresh air. Perhaps a new perspective on things.

He had been outside for about an hour when he heard a voice.

He turned; the voice was coming from an open window on the ground floor.

“It's the truth.”

“Come on Matthew. You can't expect me to believe that this was some elaborate scheme of yours to test the Slayer?”

'Buffy? Who's Matthew?' Giles asked himself.

“My job was to test the Slayer. The one the Council was going to give her was far too easy.”

“So... you took it upon yourself to change it, without approval?”

“Yes... and Miss Summers performed beautifully,” Matthew replied.

“And what about Miss Rosenberg? Mr. Giles?”

“Well... I knew that Mr. Giles would be informed about the test. When it was to be given, he would be there to witness it. But... what's the point? Really. If Miss Summers knows that the test is being given, how is she to perform to her utmost capabilities?”

“Fine... so, you used Miss Summers relationship with Mr. Giles, and Miss Rosenberg. Why her?”

Giles moved closer to the window.

“Ah... Miss Rosenberg. She's a delightful creature. During our surveillance of Mr. Giles, we were able to ascertain certain facets of information. She cares for Rupert... Mr. Giles, and not in a friend sense of the word. If you get my meaning,” Matthew explained.

“Is that so?”

Giles had heard enough, he ran around the front of the house. Fighting through the pain he felt in his arm, the jarring motion aggravated his injury. But he didn't care; he had to get to Matthew.

Entering through the front doors, he looked down the hall trying to pinpoint the exact location of the room.

He spotted a man standing in front of a door, as if he were guarding something.

Giles walked down the hall towards the man, when he heard voices' coming from the room the man was standing in front of.

Giles was stopped when he tried to enter the room.

“I'm sorry sir, but no one's allowed access to the room at the moment.”

“You don't understand... I need to speak with... Matthew. It's quite urgent,” Giles said.

“I'm sorry, but no one's allowed to speak with Mr. Halloway,” he was told.

“I see... just when can one speak with Mr. Halloway? If I might ask?”

“Not until after the inquiry I believe.”

It was at that exact moment when the door to the room opened. Matthew was facing his defender, Reginald Harrington.

Giles had taken a step back when the door opened.

“Sir, you'll have to move along now,” Matthew heard.

Turning his head, Matthew came face to face with Giles.

“Mr. Giles... come to gloat have you?” Matthew asked. “I was wondering why I didn't see you last night during the reading of the charges. I would have thought you would have sat in the front row. Oh... how is Miss Rosenberg doing?”

'Charges?' Giles thought.

As soon as he heard Matthew utter the last comment, Giles snapped.

With a cry that came deep from his soul, he barreled his way past the guard and tackled Matthew.

The action stunned everyone.

Giles had begun hitting Matthew in the face with his good hand.

Both the guard and Reginald frantically attempted to pull Giles off, who by this time was using his cast, pressing it down on Matthew's throat.

Matthew desperately tried to push Giles off him. Giles didn't feel the blows from Matthew, nor did he hear the cries of protest.

He only saw Matthew's face; he only saw what this excuse for a human being... the waste of breathing space had attempted to do to Willow.

With Rory and Kenneth assistance, the guards were finally able to get Giles off Matthew.

Rory grabbed Giles by his jacket and physically dragged him out of the room.

Matthew was wheezing, desperately trying to get air into his body.

Kenneth grabbed Reginald telling him and the guards to get Matthew to the infirmary.

Matthew was bleeding from the lacerations he had received from Giles' cast.

Rory had the devil of a time restraining Giles when Matthew was led out of the room.

“Rupert... 'Bert! Stop this... NOW!!” Rory shouted.

“Get him outta here!” Kenneth told Rory. “Take him to the pub. I'll contact you, go.”

“Right,” Rory nodded. “Come along now Rupert. Don't make me use force 'Bert. For God's sake... don't make me hurt you,” Rory pleaded.

Giles, his chest heaving, watched as Matthew was being led down the hall and out of sight. He only hoped he had been able to hurt him.

Giles felt himself being ushered out of the house and into a car.

The next thing he realized was a drink was being placed in his hands...

Then the phone calls...

The proposal...

The acceptance...

Which led to him back to Sir Henry's office, at close to two o'clock in the morning.

“Well... what am I going to do Rupert?” Henry asked.

“I'm... sorry, to have to put you in this position Sir Henry,” Giles replied, looking down at his hands before facing the man he truly respected.

“No... I should be the one apologizing to you, and Miss Rosenberg. I should have told you from the beginning. How did... or what made you suspicious in the first place?”

“When... when you mentioned Willow's name...”

“Really? Why?” Henry asked, not seeing a connection.

“I knew I hadn't said anything about her involvement in the matter. Then other things weren't adding up,” Giles said.

“I see,” Henry nodded.

“What's going to happen?” Giles asked.


“Whatever the Council decides... I will abide by. Although I would do it again,” Giles stated.

“That's were you and Matthew differ Rupert. Matthew would have ducked his responsibilities” Henry began. “You take them very seriously. We convened a very impromptu meeting. You are not going to be charged with your attempt on Matthew's person. We believe that not enough time had passed from the time you arrived, to your attack to warrant Malice Aforethought. The fact that you didn't find out until a few short hours ago that it was Matthew helped greatly in the decision that was made.”

“Sir Henry, before you tell me of the Council's decision, I must ask a question of you?”

“All right Rupert,” Henry replied.

“Who are Matthew Halloway and Jason Mercury?”

A surprised look came over Sir Henry's face, “You don't know?” he watched as Giles shook his head. “They're the same person.”

“I... I don't understand.”

“Matthew took the name of Jason Mercury when we, the Council sent him to make preparations for the test he was to give Miss Summers. Believe me Rupert, when I say, that no one, no one on the Council knew what was going to occur. We would have never allowed for such a thing to take place.”

“That's little consolation Sir Henry,” Giles said.

“I know... I know. We've brought Matthew up on formal charges. The inquiry will begin next Friday. Rupert... the Council has banned you from the proceedings...” Henry told him.

“I... I'm not at all surprised. I... I probably would have attacked him again.”

“Yes... well, on to the Council's decision on your behavior,” Henry said, clearing his throat. “The Council has decided to... Rupert... you are to stay away from Miss Summers.”

“WHAT!?!” he said as he bolted forward from the chair, and headed straight for Henry.


“The Council has decided to let Miss Foster continue her role as Miss Summers' Watcher... for the time being,” Henry told Rupert. He knew that Rupert would not do anything rash, not without risking further censure.

“And... and how long will this be for?” Giles asked.

“For the remainder of the school year.”

“That long?”

“Rupert... we could have easily made it longer.”

“Yes... yes, I understand. There's nothing I can say... to change their minds?” he asked Sir Henry.

Shaking his head, Henry replied, “I was the one who got them to agree to this Rupert. They thought it was too light of a sentence, regardless of the circumstances involved... they won't budge.”

“Why Buffy? There are so many things happening, she'll need me,” he told Sir Henry.

“Rupert, we've given you far too much leniency in regards to Miss Summers training methods. The Slayerettes for example... don't look so surprised Rupert. We've known about Mr. Harris, Miss Rosenberg and Miss Chase for quite some time. Miss Summers needs to stay focused on her duties as the Slayer. Her involvement with her friends jeopardizes that.”

“How can you say that? If... if it wasn't for the so called Slayerettes, her friends... Buffy would not be alive today!” Giles argued.

“Yes, I know, the Council knows, but you must admit Rupert, if it wasn't for involvement of those teenagers... Matthew would not have been able to accomplish what he did. You are letting your emotions get the better of you Rupert. We are not here to baby-sit the Slayer; we have to imbue her with everything she needs to fight. Not only for herself, but all of humanity, it's not an easy task. Who better than you to realize that fact?” Henry said, getting up from his desk and moving towards Giles. He placed his arm around Rupert's shoulder and led him back to the chair.

“Yes... of... of course. I... I can't guarantee Buffy's behavior. She can be quite stubborn at times... and, um... I wouldn't have it any other way. She challenges me everyday, makes me re-evaluate the way I view things. There hasn't been a day that has gone by that we don't learn from each other. I... I... um... I consider her a part of my family,” Giles stated, looking up to Sir Henry.

“Rupert... you know as well as I do, that the life expectancy for a Slayer is never a long one. One day, and we all pray that it never arrives, some vampire, or demon will eventually defeat her. Her passing will be mourned, but then the new Slayer will be trained and the fight will continue, as it has for generations. I'm sorry Rupert, I think every Watcher develops a strong emotional tie to their Slayer; they wouldn't be human if they hadn't. However, we will brook no interference from you. If you do, I have been told that Miss Foster will become Miss Summers permanent Watcher, and your position with the Society will be... Terminated. Do you understand Rupert?”

“Yes... I understand, perfectly. Is there anything else?” Giles asked.

“No... that's all. You're very lucky; you have no idea how close you came from being removed. Go on... you've had a long day, try to get some sleep. Just remember, it's not forever Rupert.”

“I'll try to remember that,” Giles replied getting up from the chair. Giving Sir Henry the empty glass. He made his way to the door when he heard Sir Henry's voice:


Turning to face him, he replied, “Yes sir?”

“I know... I wanted to say, to tell you I know how you feel. The fact of the matter is I don't, I can't imagine what's running through your mind at the moment. But I can say this and mean it, from the bottom of my heart. Congratulations Rupert, I hope you and Miss Rosenberg will be very happy.”

A small smile appeared on Giles' face.

“Um... thank you Sir Henry. Thank you very much. I only hope I can make her happy... as happy as she's made me.”

“Of that, I have no doubt. None whatsoever.”

Giles walked back slowly to his room, the full weight of Sir Henry's words fallings on his shoulders.

He knew he had to call Buffy; he had to be the one to tell her.

Closing the door behind him, Giles walked to his bed. Sitting along the edge, he took the picture frame from the nightstand.

'She's going to be furious,' he thought.

Sighing, he placed the picture back, and picked up the phone.






“Rupert... are you all right?” She asked.

“I'm fine... is, um... is Buffy still with you?”

“Yes... hold on, I'll get her for you.”

“Hey Giles...”

“Hello Buffy.”

“So... what's up? Are you calling to keep your promise?” Buffy asked.

“Um... no... I, ah... I haven't forgotten, it's just, um... that's not the reason I called.”


“Buff... Buffy... um... yes. Um... how... how well do you get along with Miss Foster?”

“Well, I guess. Why?” Buffy was already suspicious. Whenever Giles stuttered, it always meant he was trying to tell her something she might not like.

“I... I... um don't... know, that is. I'm not sure, how... how to say this,” he stammered.

“Giles, what's going on? I have the feeling I'm not going to like this conversation much,” Buffy said.

“The... the Council has decided... that... that Miss Foster is to remain your Watcher... for the remainder of the school year,” he told her.

“This isn't funny Giles,” Buffy replied agitated.

Willow had been listening to Buffy's side of the conversation. She could tell that whatever Giles was telling her Buffy didn't like it.

“I'm not trying to be funny. I'm quite serious about this Buffy.”

“They can't do that!”

“They can... and have,” Giles stated.


“Ah... as to why. I... um, I broke the rules,” Giles said.

“You... you? broke the rules?” Buffy asked incredulously.

“Yes... I... um... I broke the rules, and because I did... I was relieved of duty,” Giles explained.

Buffy sat down, trying to digest everything Giles had just told her. “I'll... we'll still be able to see each other, won't we?” Buffy asked quietly.

“Yes... I'd like that very much Buffy. I... won't be able to offer any assistance of any kind. At least none that are related to my Watcher capacities, I regret to say.”

“Does Miss Foster know yet?”

“I'm not quite sure. Buffy... I'm sorry.”

“About what?”

“I should have handled myself better, I let my emotions get the better of me,” he said.

“Giles... what exactly did you do?” Buffy had to know.

“I... um... I attacked another member of the society,” he muttered.


Willow rushed over to Buffy; she had to hear what was going on.

“Yes... I'm not proud of my behavior, but given the circumstances, I would have done it again,” Giles said.

“Okay... so, who did you go after?” Buffy moved the phone so that Willow could also hear the conversation.

“I attacked the man responsible for my beating, as well as Willow's kidnapping...”

“Wait a minute... I thought you said you attacked someone from your group?” Buffy asked.

“Yes... that's true. Apparently he was using the name Jason Mercury.”

“That's the guy Rupert sent Xander to get books from,” Willow added.

“That's correct. It seems that he was to give Buffy the test as required by the Council. He took it upon himself to bend the rules...”

“How?” Willow asked. “He... he found out about... he used my feelings towards Willow...” Giles trailed.

“You mean he found out about us... he used us to get to Buffy?” Willow didn't want to hear the answer to the question, but needed to.

“Yes,” Giles sighed. “Yes, he used us both... and very nearly...” Giles let the statement drop.

“He nearly what?” Buffy asked. She would have to talk to Willow later, make sure she didn't blame herself about what had happened.

“Noth... nothing. It's not important. What is important is that you continue to work with Miss Foster.”

“Gi-les...” Buffy pouted.

“None of that Buffy. You must... please, don't let me down. Don't let the Council believe that you're not strong enough to handle this... I implore you,” Giles pleaded.

“Please Buffy... for Rupert's sake,” Willow added.

“This isn't fair, two on one. Fine... I'll be nice. But this is only for the rest of the school year... right?”

“That's correct... thank you Buffy,” Giles said.

“Only for you Giles... the rest of those guys can just... kiss my... “

“BUFFY!!” Willow exclaimed.

“What... all I was going to say was, that they could kiss my feet. You know... I'm kinda of thirsty all of a sudden. I think I'll get something to drink. Here you go Will... I'll be right back,” Buffy said as she handed the phone to Willow and left the room.


“Yes Willow... I'm still here,” he replied.

“Um... I'm...”

“Don't even think about saying you're sorry. It wasn't your fault,” he told her.

“Only if you don't blame yourself... it works both ways Rupert,” Willow said.

Sighing he knew she was right. “Agreed.”

“Rupert... when are you coming home?”

“Soon Willow, I promise, soon,” he said.

“Good... I've missed you, and uh...”

“What? You can tell me,” Giles asked.

“Um... I've... I've... missed kissing you,” she whispered, as she looked around making sure no one else had heard her.

It was the truth she had missed kissing Rupert.

His kisses had left her weak-kneed and flushed.

And wanting more.

Smiling he replied, “As I do Willow, as I do.”

“So... hurry home?” she asked.

“I will... there are still some things I need to take care of prior to doing so. I'll be home before you know it. If... if it's all right, I'd like to call again... next Saturday?”

“I'd like that Rupert, I'd like that a lot,” Willow responded.

“Very well then, until next Saturday... take care of yourself. Don't take any unnecessary chances,” Giles said.

“I'll be careful Rupert,” she told him.

“I know you'll be careful... it's just... I'm not there, and I worry. I can't help myself, given that the library is on the Hellmouth... I worry,” he explained. “It's part of my job description.”

She laughed... “I'll do what I can Rupert.”

“Well... I must go. I love you.”

“I love you too Rupert. Oh... Rupert, before I forget, it's about the ring.”

“Don't you like it?” he asked.

“Oh... I love it. It's beautiful. I've decided not to put it on yet, that's all.”

“Why, if I might ask?”

“I want to wait... until you come home. I want you to put it on my finger. You don't mind, do you?”

“No... of course not. Thank you... I can't... can't tell you... thank you Willow. Until next Saturday, good-bye.”

“Good-bye Rupert.”

He couldn't believe the myriad of emotions that were surging in him. The intensity of them, it may not have seemed like much to other people, but the simple fact that she wanted to wait.

Wait for him to slip the ring on her finger...

Took his breath away.

He had thought she would have been wearing it by now.

He knew he had to return to her...


Buffy was talking with Willow's mother in the kitchen when Willow walked in.

“Honey? Do you want me to drive you to the video store?”

“No... um, I think I'd like to walk. Do you need me to pick up anything from the supermarket for you?” she asked her mom. It was a block away from the video store.

“Hmm, let's see, some potatoes and a bag of carrots.

You are staying for dinner aren't you Buffy?”

“Yeah... um. I guess Will forgot to mention that I was spending the night. If that's okay with you, Mrs. Rosenberg?”

“Oops, sorry. It slipped my mind,” Willow explained.

“Of course it's all right Buffy. You're always welcome here,” Mrs. Rosenberg replied, smiling.

“Thanks,” Buffy answered.

“We better get going, before all the good videos are gone,” Willow said, as she put away the money her mother handed her for the vegetables. Willow gave her mother a kiss before leaving the house.

“So... Will? Are you really serious about Giles?” Buffy asked as they walked to the store.

“Oh yes Buffy. I'm very serious about Rupert,” Willow answered.

“You know, I don't want anything happening to either of you two... in case, you know, it doesn't work out. Not that I don't think it's a great thing and all...”

“Buffy... I've given this a lot of thought. I really have. I can honestly say, without a doubt, that what I feel for Rupert is... is stronger, deeper. It's more meaningful, than... than anything else I've ever felt before, ever,” Willow told Buffy.

“Even for Xander?” Buffy had to ask. She wanted to be sure. She had no idea how the gang would survive if... let alone Willow and Giles. 'Quit being so pessimistic,' she told herself.

Willow sighed. It was a tough question. One she had asked herself countless number of times since they shared their first kiss.

She was positive of her answer.

“Yes Buffy, even for Xander. I... I know that I love Xander, and I always will. That's something I don't ever want to change,” Willow brows furrowed in concentration. “What I feel for Xander... could, could never come close to what I feel for Rupert. I feel... happy. That's not the right word... I wish I could tell you how I feel for him Buffy... it's almost magical. He's so caring, and gentle with me, he'd never rush me into anything... I can't wait for him to come home, to feel his arms around me again... I know Rupert loves me, without question. I was a little worried, at first, when he left. But I understand now why he had to do it.”

Buffy stared as Willow face beamed.

“I can't wait to kiss him again... ooh, those were nice,” Willow smiled.

“Excuse me?”


“You've kissed... Giles?”

“Of... of course I have. What? Did you think he proposed to me without having kissed me?”

“I'm... I'm not sure what I thought Will. I mean, I've heard you both say that you love each other...”

“We can't go around kissing in front of everyone Buffy. No... that's not... it's not...”

“So... um, how many times have you kissed?”

“Um... a couple,” Willow replied, her face beginning to flush.

“They must have been pretty good Will. You're getting awfully red,” she teased her friend.

“Tell you the truth?” Willow said.

Buffy nodded her head.

“They're wonderful.”

“Okay... so... what do you want to rent?” Buffy asked as the video store came into view. Not wanting to hear any more information than she really needed.

“Oh... I don't know. Why don't we just pick something out when we get there?”

“Fine by me,” Buffy replied.

Willow and Buffy watched the videos in the living room, closer to the kitchen, where the snacks were.

They pointed out the inaccuracies of the vampire movie they'd rented.

“Hey,” Willow said glancing over to Buffy, who was munching away on popcorn. “This is like Mystery Science Theater,” Willow laughed.

They ran through a tissue box while watching “Somewhere in Time.”

“This is so sad,” Buffy told Willow, while wiping at her eyes.

“That stupid penny,” Willow uttered.

Halfway through the third movie, they decided to pack it in for the night.

“That was boring,” Buffy said as they walked upstairs.

“Yeah, who knew the could mess up the “Avengers” that way? I mean, not even Sean Connery could save that turkey,” Willow added.

“Sean Connery huh?”

“Oh... I just love his voice!” Willow exclaimed.

Buffy just laughed.

Willow had changed into her pj's when Buffy came out of the bathroom. Having slept over before Buffy knew her friend preferred the right side of the bed. So she walked over to her side and slipped underneath the covers.

They talked and laughed about all sorts of things, until the pauses in the conversation became longer and more pronounced.

“Good night Will,” Buffy whispered.

“'Nite Buffy,” she replied, her eyes slowly closing, as she fell asleep.

Buffy woke up first. The sun had barely begun to rise; already she could feel the warmth seeping in her... around her, as if it embraced her.

Looking down, she saw that Willow had draped her arm around her stomach.

She also felt Willow's breath on her ear.

'Great, I'm being used as a teddy bear,' Buffy sighed. Buffy began to move from her friend's grasp, trying to do so without waking Willow up.

As soon as she had moved, Willow scooted closer, wrapping her arm snuggly around Buffy's waist.

“No... don't go Rupert,” Buffy heard Willow mutter in her sleep.

“Oh brother,” she said out-loud. Knowing it was a losing battle, Buffy decided to stay put. Hopefully Willow would wake soon.


It was an hour later when Buffy felt Willow finally waking up.

“OH MY GOSH!!” She heard Willow say as the arm that had kept her so firmly in place finally relinquished its hold.

“Morning Will... sleep okay?” Buffy asked, turning to face her friend.

“Oh... hi... um, fine... um... how... how did you sleep?” Willow replied.

“Well... actually...” Buffy said, a feral look appearing on her face as she started moving closer towards Willow, who instinctively began backing up.

“Uh... Buffy?” Willow gulped.

“Yes Will?”

“I'll be right back!!” she said hurriedly, as she practically jumped out of bed. She stopped as she heard Buffy's laugh fill the room, turning to face her friend once more, she saw Buffy on her back laughing. “HEY! You... you did that on purpose... didn't you?” Willow asked.

“Oh... that's priceless Will... of course I did that on purpose,” she replied. A smirk appeared on her face, “I don't think I've ever been mistaken for Rupert before though.”

“Rupert?” Willow wore a confused look, when the realization of Buffy's statement hit her square between the eyes. “I... didn't... no... tell me I didn't... please?”

“Oh yes you did... you rascal you.” Buffy watched as Willow turned a deep shade of red. “Come on Will, let's get downstairs, I'm starving,” Buffy said as she took her robe out of the backpack she had brought her extra clothes in.

“I'll... I'll be right there,” Willow replied. Willow watched as Buffy left the room.

Going to her dresser drawer, she opened it, taking the small box out, she lifted the lid.

She didn't think she'd ever tire of looking at the ring, and could hardly wait until the day Rupert slipped it on her finger.

“Hurry home Rupert,” she whispered. Closing the box, she put it back. She went downstairs to join Buffy and her parents for breakfast.


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