Title: Saving the World
Series: Silken Robes, Silken Ropes
Author: Jerri Cocke & Jack
Summary: Giles and Willow steal a weekend away from Sunnyhell.
Disclaimer: Joss owns all, I own none. I do try to not to break them to badly before I return them.
Distribution: If you have it, take it. If not, ask.


Chapter 1

Giles slid the key into the lock of the secluded bungalow. As the door swung open, he stole a sweet kiss from the redhead at his side. "After you my lady love." He reached down and patted her firm butt as she preceeded him into the cottage. Picking up thier bags he followed her inside and shut the door firmly behind them. He grinned at Willow's awed look as she surveyed the luxurious surroundings. He was careful to place one of his bags at the side of the bed as he divested himself of his burden. Re-entering the sitting room, he wrapped his arms around his redhead, bringing her against his hard body. She giggled when she realized just how hard certain portions of his anatomy were.

Willow ran her hands down his chest, opening buttons as she went, baring his chest to her tender lips and sharp teeth. Giles groaned as her teeth began to tease one nipple while her busy fingers taunted the other. Her free hand slipped down his taut stomach to the waistband of his slacks. She struggled for a moment before freeing the button and slowly, sliding his zipper down to discover that he had no underwear on. "Naughty, what if you'd been in an accident. Didn't your mother always tell you that you should have clean boxers on in case you had an accident and had to be rushed to the hospital?" Her hand slipped into his trousers and firmly grasped his raging erection. "Now, what should I do with this?" she mused. Her breath blowing across his wet nipple sent shivers down his spine.

"If you don't know, Luv, I'd be happy to make some suggestions." His breath caught in his throat as she slowly ran her lips down his torso, to nip at the head of his hard cock. As her tongue swirled around his prick like it was an ice cream that she was afraid would melt before she could finish it he gasped, "That was one suggestion." He promptly lost all power of speech as she engulfed his manhood with her warm, wet mouth. His breath hissed out as she relaxed her throat and slowly slid her mouth all the way to the base of his cock. He felt a squeezing senstion as she reflexively swallowed, trying not to gag. She slid her hot mouth up and down on him as his calves and thighs tightened with a will of their own. He could feel the rough texture of her tongue teasing the sensitive underside of his cock and a pulling sensation that threatened to overwhelm his ever precious self control. Her delicate fingers caressed his balls, her fingernails lightly scratching as she sucked his hard on as if to suck his very soul out of the tiny opening. Her tongue lapped up the milky drops of precum that presaged his orgasm. He groaned as his entire body stiffened, trying desperately not to force himself deeper into her spasming throat. He could see her eyes adore him as she sucked him with ever greater force. His hands were entwined in her ruby hair as he suddenly shouted as he came into her throat, amazed as she swallowed and kept swallowing until she had drank every drop of his pearly sperm. She milked his cock for every drop before allowing his softening cock to slip from her lips. He pulled her up from her knees with his last bit of strength and guided them both to collapse on the couch. His lips met hers in a fiery kiss, something deep within him satisfied to taste himself on her lips. Knowing that it marked her as his.

"Was that kind of what you had in mind, Rupert?" Willow asked in a soft voice.

Yeah, Luv, that's exactly what I had in mind. What say we take a nap and when we get up I have a surprise for you."

"Ohh, a surprise. What kind of surprise?"

"The kind that wouldn't be a surprise if I told you." He grinned devilishly at her. "Think you can make it to the bedroom?"

"I can if you can, old man." He shot her a look that promised revenge for that remark and supporting each other they staggered to the bedroom and the bed. Within minutes, they were both sound asleep.

Ripper sat in a chair at the foot of the bed and watched as his redhead tried to turn over in her sleep. He grinned as she came slowly awake and tried to puzzle out why she couldn't move. As she tried to pull her arms down, she realized that something soft and unyielding was around both her wrists and her ankles. Craning her head she managed to see silk cuffs binding her hands and feet to the posts of the bed. She looked up at the canopy, noticing for the first time, it was mirrored. She was amazed at the way she looked, tied spread eagle to the bed. "Rupert, what...."

"Sorry Luv, why don't you call me Ripper.

Chapter 2

"You can call me Ripper, Luv." Giles smirked at the redhead tied to the bed. He leaned forward and purred, "I thought we might play a game."

"What game?" Willow asked in a husky voice, writhing in a futile attempt to free herself. "I don't understand what's going on."

"Oh, I think that quick brain of yours will figure it out in just a while." Ripper grinned and produced a fluffy white plume. He ran it lightly over her body, grinning as she trembled. "Like that, do you? I'm not surprised, there is an amazing amount of passion pent up in that delicious little body of yours." He applied the soft feather to her breasts, stroking the sensitive undersides until she moaned.

"Why are you doing this?" she asked with a shudder.

"Because it's fun and I owe you for a certain remark. I thought I would make you eat those words. 'Old man' indeed." Her stomach danced as he moved the tip of the feather to her navel. She could feel herself getting wet even as she begged him to stop tickling her. Her arousal grew as he applied the feather to her splayed thighs. He carefully avoided touching the core of heat between her legs, choosing instead to dip the plume teasingly against her anus. She jumped as she felt the feather touch her ass, whimpering as she got even hotter.

"Please," she begged.

"Please, what? Stop? Not going to happen Luv. You asked for this." He continued to tickle the bound witch mercilessly. He could feel her arousal coming off her in waves. He ignored her as she pled with him to stop, to make love to her. He brought her to the very edge of completion and then held her there, enjoying the control he had over his lover's body. "You just want a good shagging, don't you? Tell me what you want or you shant get it. And if you cum before I allow it, then I'll leave you tied to the bed all night." He flicked the feather over her clit as he laid down his rules.

Her face contorted with the tremendous effort it took to obey him. "Please, Ripper, fuck me?" she ground out.

"See how easy that was?" He dropped the feather and covered her shaking body with his own. His erection was enormous, he wanted her so badly. He slid his cock home with one movement, burying himself in her tight heat. He froze for a moment, fighting for control. It wouldn't do to cum too quickly, after all he still had a witch to torment, in a slightly different way. Pulling out of her grasping channel until only the tip of his prick remained, he slammed back into her welcoming body, groaning as she thrust her hips up to greet him. Establishing a hard, fast rhythm he pounded into her.

"Please," she begged, weeping. "Let me cum! I need to--"

"Alright, Luv--since you asked so nicely." He slid one hand down from her breast and pinched the swollen nubbin between her legs, catching his breath as her spasming cunt clamped down on his manhood. It was all he could do not to orgasm with her, but he had no intention of this being over that quickly. He pounded into the woman he loved, determined to make sure that she never forgot this night or how much he adored her. His bright, articulate Willow's vocabulary had been reduced to guttural moans and pleas for him to never stop. He had no intention of disappointing her. Sitting up on his knees, he lifted her hips from the bed and slid his thighs under hers, sinking into the cradle he had created. She screamed as the angle changed and he sank even deeper into her body. He knew that he couldn't last much longer, but was determined to bring her off one last time. He stroked her clit until she screamed his name in one final crescendo of passion. Her orgasm broke his last bit of control and he shot his hot seed deep within her writhing body. Using his last bit of strength to avoid falling on her tiny frame and crushing her, he collapsed at her side. He reached up, unfastened the wrist restraints, and freed her arms.

Chapter 3

Willow awakened suddenly. She shuddered as she remembered the night before. She couldn't comprehend why Giles had suddenly changed on her. It had made no sense; why had he tied her down like that. Yes, he had been gentle, but he had also exerted control over her. That's the part that bothered her. Her mind raced as she sought to understand what had happened. Although she knew Rupert would never hurt her in any way, he had scared her with this unforseen side of him. < Great, Willow, now you sound like a frightened ten year old. > What could she, no, what should she do? < Think, Willow, think. What's the best way to show him how I felt during his performance last night? >

The little witch looked at the man who lay next to her. She loved him with all her heart but he had to accept that she was her own person. No one could control her, not anymore. She had been controlled by everyone that she had loved in one way or another for most of her life. She had always met everyone's expectations but her own. She was Xander's best friend, the one who was always there for him, no matter what. She was Buffy's confidant, the one who listened to the Slayer about every gosh darned thing in Buffy's turbulent life. She had only rebelled four times in her life--okay, so 'eating her banana, lunchtime be damned' wasn't that much of a rebellion, but it was something. She had always been the good girl, except for the Xander kissage debacle. And let's face it, after the evil Willow from another world came, rebellion left and hid under the bed. She could see the fear on their faces and knew intuitively she had to be good or they would wig.

She studied Rupert's face, smooth and serene in his sleep. She couldn't lose him, she loved him too much. So...that meant she had to do...something, but what? Without thinking, she began to bind him with the same silken ropes he had used on her. She was careful not to awaken her lover as she secured him to the huge, four-poster bed. She needed more time to consider exactly what she would do, so coffee. She always thought better with coffee in her hands.

She washed up, then made a pot of coffee. Within minutes she sat on the deck, hands wrapped around a mug of coffee, watching the sun rise. From the deck she could see both the sun in the East and the Pacific on her left. The hacker's mind worked as smoothly as her laptop as she processed her decision. That chore done, she sat back to enjoy the sunrise and wait. She didn't wait long.

"Bloody hell, Willow! Willow where are you?" wafted from the bedroom.

She said nothing as the calls became panicked cries. Finally after long minutes she strolled into the bedroom. "Ah, the dulcet tone of my lover's voice. You bellowed, Rupert, or should I say Ripper?"

"Willow, I..."

"No, Rupert, my turn! You scared me a little bit last night. I know that you didn't mean to. I understand that you love me and wouldn't hurt me. But you took away my choice and I can't take that from you or anybody."

"I'm sorry--"

"Sorry is good, but you have to learn that I get to help make decisions where 'we' are concerned."

"Willow, I..."

"Bored now," she said in a sing-songy voice. Willow withdrew a scarf from a pocket in her robe. "Want to play."

Giles' only thought was, 'Oh dear God, what have I done now.' He knew that voice. It manifested itself in more than a few of his nightmares since he had first thought that Willow, his Willow, was dead and a vampire. He stared at the woman he loved more than his own life until she applied the blindfold, obscuring his vision. He knew, even if the others didn't, that a vampire's basic characteristics carried over from their human self. He understood Willow had a dark side. He had accepted that years ago. He loved her no matter what, but this could get...intense. He felt both anxious and a dawning sense of anticipation. He strained to hear what his witch was doing.

The only sound in the room was the whisper of silk against flesh as Willow searched for the plume that Ripper had tormented her with the night before. She could only hope that when Rupert reached his breaking point, she would recognize it and not go too far. Finally, she found it under the edge of the comforter. She snatched the fluffy, white feather up and approached Rupert. Very lightly, she ran the feather across his face. She watched with fascination the expressions that flashed across his face. Relief, lust, and most important love. The redhead smiled, then moved the plume to his ears and sensitive neck.

Giles groaned as his cock hardened with desire. She danced the feather down his muscular chest, tracing his numerous scars in great detail. Her lips curved as his nipples became rockhard pebbles. She grinned as she decided to torment him in a slightly different fashion. She leaned down and sharply nipped his skin directly over his jugular.

He jumped as he felt her blunt teeth bite into his throat. 'Thank God, she hasn't any fangs.' His stomach tensed and quivered as she dipped the tip of the feather into his navel. He was sure that he couldn't get any harder.

Willow was sure he could get harder. In fact she intended to prove it. She moved the tormenting feather to the soles of his feet. She traced the convulsing muscles up his calves, paying particular attention to his shins, after she managed to surprise a giggle out of him. Who knew? She slowly approached his hard on, after a prolonged stop at his inner thighs. Giles' erection was long, thick and very hard. The head of his cock was so deep a red as to be almost purple.

He was convinced that there was not a drop of blood anywhere else in his body. His prick was suddenly engulfed in a cavern of wet heat. His moans escalated as he felt his erection hit the back of Willow's throat.

Willow swirled her tongue around his hardness, laving the sensitive underside of his cock. She tried to swallow him whole. His manhood jumped in her mouth and she realized he was close to cumming. As much as she loved what she was doing, she wasn't ready to allow him completion.

"Un-uh," she cooed. Giles' groaned his protest as she pulled away from his aching cock. "Not yet, mister. You don't get to cum until I say so." He grinned around a moan as he heard the laughter in her voice.

"But, Willow," he begged.

"No sir, you are going to learn that we're equals and the best way I can think for that to happen is for you to know how it feels to be out of control." She lightly bopped his dick as she wandered back up his stomach to his chest with her mouth and tongue. She nipped at one nipple while she tweaked the other with her nails. Again, she bit into his neck, not breaking the skin, but she leaving teeth marks. Willow moved to the patch of skin directly below his ear and sucked it into her mouth, laving it with her tongue. She could feel the vibrations with her lips and tongue as he groaned with delight and frustration.

Giles resigned himself to the fact that he would have to beg, after all turnabout was fair play, as he had made her beg him the night before. "Willow, Luv,' he ground out in a rough voice, "please, let me love you."

"You already love me."

"Willow, let me make love to you?"


"Please baby, let me make you cum for me?"

"And just how do you plan to do that, all tied up like you are?"

"Well, I was hoping we could dispense with that," he said with a wry grin. "I want to see your beautiful face when you cum screaming my name."

She reached up and adjusted the blindfold as a tease. She grinned, happily, as he groaned, "Willow..."

"So, does Puppy want to play, too?"


"If she can have Angel for a puppy, I can have you," came the rapid reply. She scraped her nails across his chest just hard enough to leave red streaks on his white skin.

"Please Luv. I need to make love to you."

"Well, why didn't you say so." She ripped the blindfold from his face with a radiant smile. She pressed her body against the length of his as she reached up to unfasten the bindings at his wrists. Rupert, being no fool, latched his lips onto one breast, suckling at her nipple. He sat up, still laving her hard peak lovingly and reached down to unfasten his ankles. With a lithe movement he flipped them, using his weight to pin his redhead to the soft mattress . With his lips firmly attached to her breast, he parted her soft thighs with one leg, firmly settled into the cradle of her womanhood and allowed himself the luxury of basking in her moist heat.

As his redhead moaned, he sank himself to the roots of his prick in her. Her heat engulfed him and he had to restrain himself from cumming immediately. He soaked himself in her juices as he began a slow and deliberate rhythm meant to drive her wild. He knew that he would not be able to last for long so he applied one long finger to her engorged clit and stroked it until she came screaming in his arms. The convulsions of her slick channel squeezing his cock sent his own orgasm racing through his system. He thought he would never stop cumming as he filled her with his very essence.

Afterwards as they lay entwined, Willow peeked up at his face with a loving tone and asked, "Well, Puppy did you learn anything today?"

"Yes, my dear. Never, ever, tie you up without your permission."

"Good. I love you, Rupert."

Chapter 4


Heads turned as the woman strode purposefully through the airport. The constant looks no longer concerned her; she was well used to them by now. She merely ignored them; she knew she was beautiful. She didn't need the admiring eyes of strangers to tell her that. She left the security area, the clicking of her spiked-heeled, knee-high black boots resounding with each stride of her long, tawny legs. She swept a lock of her raven-black hair away from one of her piercing jade-green eyes.

She scanned the area and paused when she spotted the ivory sign that read, "Ms. Cantrell." Cassandra Elizabeth Cantrell then approached the man dressed in a neat chauffeur's uniform and identified herself.

He asked for her luggage checks and swiftly retrieved her bags. He then led her to the waiting limousine. She gave him an address in Inglewood and settled in to enjoy the ride. It should have taken about an hour, but traffic seemed particularly heavy, and the ride extended to nearly two hours. It wasn't a problem, though. They would wait for her no matter the time, regardless of how long it took. Paying top dollar did have its perks.

She opened the portfolio that had been placed in the limo's safe for her benefit. It detailed the security arrangements at the facility where he was being held. The mission required that she'd expend a great deal of magical power, but, the reward would more than make up for the loss. She shivered as if she already felt the power of the Hellmouth flowing through her veins. All it would take was one ritual sacrifice of an old lover and she knew just where to find one--the Federal Detention Center for National Security in New Mexico. The limo pulled to a stop in a poorly lighted parking lot next to a neglected warehouse. "Stay here," she purred. "I shall return shortly."

Five men clustered around the table, looking up as she entered the building. "Ms. Cantrell, I trust your journey was uneventful. Were all the arrangements satisfactory?" asked a thin man dressed in an ill-fitting tweed suit.

"As always, Smythe, everything was...satisfactory. The traffic was unexpected but even I can't control thousands of commuters...yet." Her silvery laugh trilled out, enchanting all who heard it. "Well, gentlemen, shall we get down to business?" She laid the plans for the detention centeron the table. "This is your target."

A tall, well-dressed man snapped his head up. "These are plans for a federal detention facility."

"Yes, and--"

"I didn't know you were trying to break someone out of a federal pen. The security is too tight. We might be able to get in but we'd never get out again. There's no way my team can pull off this job."

"Mr. Jones, isn't it? All you have to worry about is getting to the prisoner. I will 'get you out,' quite safely, I assure you"

Jones glared at his prospective employer. She was an impressive looking woman, but no way could she singlehandedly get his crack team out of a federal lock-up. Uh-uh, no way. "Look lady--"

"You may address me as Ms. Cantrell. I am not a peer."

"Ms. Cantrell, there is no way that my men can do this. It's a suicide mission and I learned to avoid those when I worked for my Uncle Sam. We are not doing this job."

A concerned look crossed Smythe's face. He knew what could happen when someone crossed his employer. He stepped back from the table. "Ms.Cantrell, I am certain we can educate Mr. Jones about your abilities and prove to him that you can indeed safely remove both his team and the target from the facility."

Cantrell smiled at her assistant. "An uncommonly good idea, Smythe! She turned to face the burly leader of the mercenary band. Would you care for a demontration of my abilities?" She smiled at the man. He noticed the smile never reached her cold green eyes.

"I don't need a demonstration of anything, Ms. Cantrell. I said we weren't doing it. I meant it."

She began to chant softly and traced arcane symbols in the air before her with delicate fingers. Then her hand made a fist and Jones immediately doubled over in pain, clutching his chest. His face turned red as he struggled to draw a breath. The sorceress watched calmly, expressing no emotion whatsoever. Cantrell raised her right hand and opened it, looking for all the world like someone trying to catch a ball. Suddenly, the large man screamed as his heart tore through his ribcage and flew into her waiting hand. His eyes glazed over and he dropped to the floor, his last breath rattling in his throat.

She turned to face the small group, heart in hand, blood dripping on the floor. She tossed the grisly item into the air and with a whisper, it burst into flames. "Questions or comments, gentlemen?" No one said a word."Good," she chirped. "Now we can focus on the business at hand, obtaining the item I require."

As the four remaining men stood there, mouths opened in shock, she nearly laughed at their stupified expressions, but was able to maintain her decorum. "Smythe, which of these men is suitable to lead this mission?" The men shuffled nervously. She frowned. "Chop, chop, gentlemen! I want this wrapped up quickly; the night isn't getting any younger and I still have things to do!"

She glared at the men facing her, her persona slipping back to the one she was most comfortable using, when she prowled the seedy parts of London a quarter of a century ago with the boys. Stupid gits! If Jones hadn't been such a bloody prat, she wouldn't have been forced to make an example of him. But, on the bright side, she'd have no more rebellion in the ranks.

"This is Philips, Ma'am," Smythe said with a gesture to a rough-looking man. "He was the late Mr. Jones' second in command. I believe he is suitable to lead this mission."

She shook her head slightly, becoming refined again. "Mr. Philips, do you believe you can do what I require of you and your men?" The fearful look he cast on his late, former employer amused her. It warred with the look of greed in his eyes.

He looked up from the body and replied, "Yes, Ma'am. We can do what you ask of us. Now, about the security forces we can expect to find...?"

Once more, they gathered around the table. This time she knew there would be no interruptions. She believed that the key to sucess was to plan for every eventuality, including murder if the circumstances warranted it.

Several hours later, she smiled, satisfied like a lioness that had feasted on a fresh kill. Soon, she would have the ritual's key element in her possession. "Are we finished here, gentlemen?" They nodded. "Yes? Then, Smythe, would you accompany me to my car? I need to speak to you for a moment, before I leave for Sunnydale."

She left quickly and quietly, Smythe hot on her heels. "Are the Sunnydale arrangements in place? Does the staff expect my arrival? Have they been instructed about the essential element?"

"Yes, Ms Cantrell. All of that has been arranged. The care and feeding of the element," he quirked one eyebrow at that misnomer, "has been provided for." They are expecting you within a relatively short time. He opened the car door and gently guided the woman into her seat, careful not to unnecessarily crease the material of her clothing. He handed her the file and murmured, "I am sorry you had to soil yourself with that cretin, Miss. I know you derive no enjoyment from such acts. I shall, of course, dispose of the offal, then join you on the Hellmouth."

Ms. Cantrell looked warmly at her personal assistant and graced him with a gentle smile. "Then I shall see you in a bit. Perhaps we might discuss business over tea?"

He gave her a look of rapture. "I should enjoy that Miss, very much!" He closed the door behind her and turned to the distasteful business before him.

Taking a deep breath, he re-entered the warehouse and rejoined the mercenaries. "I hope Ms. Cantrell's demonstration has convinced you not to fuck with her. I do so tire of cleaning up these little messes," he said, then sighed. He painstakingly chanted in Latin for a few minutes, then the dead body burst into cold flames. Soon all that was left on the floor was a pile of greasy ashes.

Smythe glared at the toughs who towered over him. "That was mild compared to what she's capable of. However, you should also be aware that her rewards for a job well done are equally commensurate." He pulled one sleeve back and let them see the Rolex on his wrist. "You and your teams had best be getting to the airfield. You take off at dawn. Good luck, gentlemen. I'll see you on the other side."

Sunnydale, California

"Boy, that Richard Gere is quite a hottie...for an old guy," Dawn said with a sigh.

Buffy Summers broke their stride and gave her sister an askew glance. "Those holy men must have used a bad batch of Chemical X when they made you, Powderpuff Girl. How could you think that a guy that old could even qualify as a 'hottie?'"

Dawn snorted. "Shows how much you know, Oh Challenged One. They're called the `Powerpuff Girls!'"

Buffy rolled her eyes. "Whatever." The sisters had left the cinema, strolling arm-in-arm along Broad Street in downtown Sunnydale. The early evening darkness hid Buffy's surreptitious smile from her little sister. She had wanted to share a pleasant evening with Dawn, away from the slaying and the gaping hole left in their lives by their mother's death last year. And it appeared the movie had succeeded in allowing Dawn to forget her troubles for a while.

"I thought he and Gwyneth Paltrow made a really cute couple," Dawn said.

Buffy cackled. "Yeah, right! When they put him in the old folks' home in a few years, she could always go and change his bedpan."

Dawn immediately stopped in her tracks, nearly tugging Buffy off her feet. "I can't believe you just said that!"

"Said what?"

"'Said what?'" Dawn whined, mimicking her sister's voice. "Your comment about old men and their young honeys. Hello? Don't Richard and Gwyneth remind you of somebody close to you?"

Buffy shot her a confused look. "No...I don't think so."

Dawn whistled and regarded her sister with a wide-eyed stare. "Yoo, hoo! Here's an all-expenses paid trip from the Land of Denial; why don't you join the rest of us here in the Real World, Buffy? Aren't you forgetting a certain Watcher and a red-headed witch...?"

Buffy scoffed. "Giles?!? What are you talking about? He's not old!"

Dawn shook her head and snorted. "Oh my God! Why, he's way older than Mom..." Dawn's voice faded off into the night.

As her little sister began to cry, Buffy cursed under her breath. Damn! And it had been going so well. "Dawn," she whispered, hugging her sister close. "It's okay, munchkin, I'm here."

Buffy wasn't prepared for the all-to-familiar tingle in the pit of her stomach. She snapped into slayer-mode, her senses fully alert. She glanced around until she spied a humanoid form dragging itself out of a nearby alley. "Dawn, something is going down. I need you to run as fast as you can back to the theater. I want you to stay there until I come for you. Do you understand?"

Dawn glared at her sister. "Don't treat me like a baby!"

Buffy glowered at Dawn and snapped, "I don't have time for this! I need to-"

"You're just wasting time, you know. I'm not leaving you out here alone."

Buffy's sensitive hearing detected a low, anguished groan from the prone figure across the way. He might need immediate medical attention; she couldn't stand here and argue any longer. "All right, stick close to me and Don't. Touch. Anything. Got it?"

Dawn bit her lip and nodded. They crossed the street and Buffy felt the hairs on the back of her neck stand up. The figure on the ground moaned, rolled over and flopped onto its back. Tiny horns sprouted from the figure's forehead. As they crept closer, she saw the thing wore normal clothing. It appeared mostly human, except rather than smooth pink or brown skin, it had tiny, overlapping olive scales covering its face. That is, in those places that weren't battered and bruised. The creature lay on the dirty sidewalk, wheezing and trembling.

Buffy approached, ready for anything. She stood over it and saw one of its eyes had been pummeled and swollen shut. It opened its other eye and the glint of moonlight that fell over her shoulder readily showed the creature's terror. "Please...no more. No more...Slayer," it said with a sob,"haven't you...done enough? Why...? Myclan...never troubled you. Why did," he muttered with a gurgle, his eye growing dim, "you...do...th--" he mumbled, then fell eternally silent.

Buffy knelt and felt for a pulse. She detected nothing. She wiped her tiny hand over the creature's open eye and shut it for the last time.

Dawn brushed against her back with a knee and stuttered, "Why...did...he say that to you? You didn't do this. You were with me."

She stood up and hugged her sister. "I don't know." She glanced down and saw a trail of lime-green blood lead further into the alley. "He came out of there," Buffy said, pointing at the blood stain. They sneaked down the passageway until they came upon two other bodies similar to the one at the alley's mouth. One body looked like it had been an adult female, the other looked like a juvenile's. Both had been beaten to death. The female's body lay on top of the younger one's almost as if she had tried to shield her child.

Buffy felt Dawn shiver against her arm. "They killed a mom and her kid...just killed them..." Dawn muttered.

Buffy whispered, "And made them think I did...this."

She wanted to turn them both away from the horror, to shut her eyes and wipe it from her memory. As the Slayer, she had seen her share of death, had slayed many of the creatures of the night. But she had always tried to do it quickly, cleanly. She'd never have done anything this...brutal. This was bad and she needed to put a stop to this. But she'd never seen demons like this before. She didn't know if there was some reason the thing that masqueraded as her had picked them as targets.

She didn't know, but she knew someone who did know or who'd find out for her. Although he was in San Francisco, she had to make the call.

Because she needed Giles. She needed him now.


San Francisco

"You look scrumptious, darling, good enough to eat!" Giles said, beaming with pride and love as he helped her into her chair and took his seat across the table. She wore a flowing green dress that clung to her lithe body like a glove. It touched every part of her lovingly. 'Oh dear God...I'm jealous of her dress! Very good, you bloody idiot. That'll endear you to her.'

His favourite redhead sat across the table from him, her eyes sparkling with love and fun in the mellow glow of the candlelight. She lifted her wine glass to her lips, barely touching the ruby liquid inside with the tip of her tongue. A throaty moan escaped Giles' lips as he remembered exactly what that wicked little tongue could do. He was amazed at the depth of passion he had mined from his hacker, his Willow. 'Bloody hell, just face facts, old man. She's an angel.'

His life sat facing him over a table covered with fine linen and British bone china. The crystal appeared to be French as was the cuisine. All in all, an up-scale place to ask the love of his life to consider moving in with him. He nervously cleared his throat. "Er...um...Willow...? I wanted to ask you about...well...if you'd consider..."

Willow thought he looked adorable as he searched for words to ask her whatever he wanted to know. As the redhead parted her lips to speak, an annoying buzz sounded both inside her tiny purse and on Giles' belt. They removed their respective pagers, glimpsed at the number, then each other.

Giles closed his eyes and sighed. Damn it all, this simply is not fair! Then he sobered, feeling a lump in the back of his throat. Buffy is in trouble, she needs me! His eye had extreme regret in them as he signalled for the check. When the waiter approached, he presented his credit card and shooed him away.

He looked in Willow's eyes, and saw pain, sorrow, and confusion. He wanted to explain to Willow, but what could he say? That when Buffy called, he would go. It was his destiny to guide and protect the slayer. He didn't have a choice.

Willow knew that the evening, as well as the weekend, was over just as soon as she saw the number on the pager. *Great...Buffy has to face big evil, so Willow can just swing in the wind. Doesn't matter that Willow has been looking forward to this weekend for how long, now? It just matters that Buffy wants, Buffy gets.* Willow gathered her purse and rose from the table, turning away from Rupert so he wouldn't be able to see the hurt in her eyes.

Rupert would never forget the pain in her eyes as they left the restaurant, en route to the B & B. They needed to pack quickly and head for Sunnydale. He knew that, but he also knew that if he wasn't careful he could lose Willow and there was no way he could let that happen. God, he loved her so much. He didn't think he could live without her and...if he didn't stop talking to himself and start talking to her, she just might leave without him. "Willow, I'm so sorry that we have to leave. I don't want to; I want to stay here, make love to you on that bed, and watch the sunrise with you in the morning. I wish we didn't have to go. But, it's my job."

"I know, they require your presence to guide the slayer. I understand that Rupert, I just don't particularly like it right now." She growled at him as she began throwing her lingerie into an open case on the four poster bed where she had tickled, then fucked him into submission. She never looked at the bed or at him. She knew that if she did, she'd bawl like a baby. She knew she was behaving like a spoiled Buff--, er.. brat, but damn it, it was her turn to have some love and fun in her life.

"This was supposed to be our weekend, nothing Hellmouthy was supposed to happen, and now this. I'm sorry if you're disappointed in me, but that's how I feel." She slammed the lid of the case down on the tangle of naughty bits, purchased just for this weekend. If it wouldn't have upset Rupert, she would have cried.

Giles looked helplessly at the woman he loved. He drew the slight redhead into a tight embrace, stroking soothingly down her back. "I'm so sorry, Luv, but I have no choice. I have to go. I wish that things were different, but if things were different than I would never have met and loved you. And I can't tell you how empty my life would be then."

The witch lovingly snuggled into her lover's embrace, "I know. I don't like it right now, but I do understand. We had better get on the road. It's a long drive back to Sunnydale."

Giles dropped his head and kissed her firmly, enjoying the warm, sweet lips that tasted of lust and love. He reluctantly released her and gathered their luggage. He shot one last glance around the bedroom, where he had learned so much about his future. Well, he thought ruefully, his future, if his dedication to Buffy didn't get in the way.

He followed Willow out to the car. He threw the bags in the boot and opened the door for his Willow, tenderly assisting her into her seat, drawing the seatbelt across her and carefully fastening it, double checking to make sure it was secure. He drew her delicate hand to his lips, kissing the palm, before laying it gently in her lap and shutting the door to the little red Tramp.

Giles drove in silence, Willow couldn't stand to leave him hurting, not after the way he had treated her. She knew that he loved her, she didn't doubt that. She loved him because of his dedication to Buffy as much as any other reason. *Note to self; don't act like such a jealous bitch. Be the kind of partner the man you love needs.*

"Rupert, I know we can't celebrate in San Francisco tonight, but we can celebrate kicking evil's ass in your bed, if we manage to survive." She shot her gamin grin at Giles and he was lost.

"Um, Willow, I was trying to ask you something at the restaurant and did a poor job of it...but would you consider making it OUR bed. I can think of nothing I should like better then to wake up next to you every morning and for your sweet face to be the last thing I see every night."

The hacker was silent. She couldn't breathe, let alone, think. *Uh, oh. Oxygen becoming an issue...* She forced herself to draw some air into her lungs. *That's better. The wuzziness is gone now.* "Are you asking me to move in with you, Rupert?"

"Yes, I am. I want you with me, always. I don't want to have to get out of bed to take you home, ever. I want to go to sleep with you in my arms and wake up the same way. I want to fight through a tangle of stockings and lacy nothings to get to my sink to shave. I want to wonder if I've grabbed the right toothbrush in the mornings. I want to..."

Willow gently placed her fingers across his lips, stopping him in mid-sentence. "I'll move in with you, just as soon as we have the time. We'll run by the house and I'll pick up enough clothes to last me through a few more days and we can say it's a done deal. I love you, Rupert Giles. Nothing would give me greater pleasure than waking up with you every morning."

Ripper peeked out of Giles' psyche and smirked. He'd surely find a way to make her eat those words when he could come out and play. Then, she'd really scream. Shaking his head to regain control, Giles tucked Ripper away. He picked up Willow's hand, kissed it, and gently placed it on his thigh as he smoothly pressed the Tramp's accelerator to the floor.
Somewhere in New Mexico

The dying wail of the undead prisoner's demon brought a welcome respite to his solitude. Ethan Rayne shook his head and a single thought came to mind. Lucky bastard! At least they had staked him and bloody well put him out of his misery.

Ethan sat on his cot and stared sullenly out of his cell. He was bored. They had given him nothing to read, no paper to write on, not a thing to employ his mind. He assumed the penitentiary guards had been told by those Iniative blokes to keep anything that he could use for spellcasting away from him. He snorted. Idiots! If he were powerful enough to cast any decent spells simply from writing them down or reading them from a book, he would have been long gone. No, he'd never had innate power. He'd always required ingredients, compounds, and elixirs to practice magick. He wasn't a born practictioner, not like Deidre or Lizzie–or Ripper.

Ethan felt the acid churn in his stomach and start its climb up his esophagus. Ripper! This whole mess was his fault! "Bastard," he hissed.

If it hadn't been for Ripper, his Slayer–the little tart, and her soldier boy, he wouldn't be rotting in this stinking hole. But, wasn't this just par for the course? Ripper and his little pet always jammed their noses into his business, mucking things up. Wasn't it Ripper who had put a stop to his Halloween fun when he first came to that godforsaken town four or five years ago? Then there was that business with Eyghon, when the Slayer... He paused, then shrugged. Well, can't blame her for trying to survive after he had marked her for the demon. She had just as much right to live as he did.

Well, what about the band candy caper? he fumed, his rage enflamed once more. Again, Ripper and his bottle-blonde bimbo queered that deal but good. He had a hard enough time finding work after that debacle. Perhaps it had been Trick or his Honor, the Mayor, who had put out the word on the street that if you dealt with Ethan Rayne, you stood a good chance of having both the Slayer and her Watcher involving themselves in your affairs.

When he had heard about the Initiative, he had known that nothing good could come of that business. No government, anywhere, had ever done well with the occult. Bureaucrats were born without the gene to respect anything. Not people, not nature, and, most certainly, not the supernatural. So he had wanted to warn Ripper about them. Was it really so bad that he took the opportunity to tweak ol' Rip a bit to repay him for his past interference?

Ethan drew a deep breath, then sighed. He raked his hand through his hair and stared down at the floor. It WAS his own fault. If he had just warned Ripper, left it at that, had left...him feeling good about being together again rather than slipping that potion to him, he wouldn't be here. He would have had an ally against the soldier boys, might even have had a chance to rebuild something with Rip. Instead, he nearly shoved him into the Initiative's camp, along with that delicious little Slayer.

He stood up and stepped into his toilet area. Ethan gazed into the mirror, seeing his gaunt face. He was growing paler every day while he languished here. "So, this is what worshipping Chaos has done for you, old boy," he whispered to his reflection. "Back then, seeing how Ripper had used it, it had seemed like a good idea. He always did have luck with the ladies...and you."

Ethan closed his eyes, he didn't want to look into the mirror anymore. Yes, it had been easy for Ripper. He'd cast a little spell, or sing with that velvet voice, or appear dangerous and untamed. And they all went for it, Lizzie, Deidre, hell, even me, he mused. Now, even though the bastard went and got old, in the process becoming a fuddy-duddy Watcher, he still snags the birds.

His mind tumbled back to the recent past. He could see Ripper's little schoolteacher friend during the Eyghon affair. She certainly was a looker. He also recalled that little red head dressed like a strumpet during the Halloween fiasco and smirked. Twenty five years ago, Ripper would have had his way with her several times before even bothering to remove her clothing, what little of it she had on. Of course, one couldn't forget the petite blonde. Ethan smiled. So like Ripper...running from her responsibility, yet fiercely protective of her mates. Strong, vicious, and passionate. He chuckled. "Perhaps I should call HER Ripper from now–"

Ethan's heart leaped into his throat as the explosion resounded down the hall. He stumbled when the floor trembled and fell. Lying prone, he glimpsed out into the hall through his plexiglass cell door. A large man dressed head-to-toe in black assault gear, carrying an automatic rifle, and wearing a gasmask trotted to his door. The man peered inside the cell, studying Ethan. "Over here!" the man yelled. "I've found him!"

In a moment, three other men joined him, all dressed like the first. One stuck a silver tube on the cell door with some putty-like material. Another barked, "Rayne, plant your face on the floor and cover your eyes, now!"

Ethan did as he was told. Even with his eyes shut, he noticed a bright light flare through his lids. Then he heard footsteps hustle into his cell. He looked up and saw the device had melted a passageway through the unbreakable glass. He stared at them, dazed by the suddenness of it all. "Who...who...are...?"

One of the men snapped, "It doesn't matter. Come with us, if you want to live."

"Come with you? How? Don't you think the guards have regrouped by now? They'll be ready for you."

Three of the men ignored him and went about the room placing several rods on the floor in a circular pattern. The rods looked like they were pure gold. The fourth man dragged Ethan off the floor and jostled him into the center of the circle. "They're not going to be ready for this," the man said.

After the others jumped into the circle, the man next to Ethan pressed a button on a small device he held in his left hand. Soon, Ethan could see eldritch energies, swirling about him, increasing in speed until the cell winked out of view. The next thing he knew, he stumbled from a vortex and fell hard onto a concrete floor inside a vast room. He smelled something in the air, instantly recognizing the scent. As he lay on the floor, he was stunned, not by the stress of having undergone a mystical transport, but by the fragrance of jasmine.

"Lizzie," he gasped, opening his eyes wide.




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