Part Eleven

"So what delicious lunch are you lovely ladies getting today?" asked Xander as he sidled up to Willow and Buffy in the cafeteria line.

"Um, I'm trying to decide between the pheasant under glass," Buffy pointed to a batch of overdone chicken nuggets and then a vat of stew, "Or the beouf bourginon."

"I wish," said Willow making a face at her choice of wilted salads or unknown macaroni dishes. "I think I'll play it safe and go with filler, nitrates and parts." She chose her lunch, as did the other two. The three made it down the line to the cashier.

"Hey, there's Oz," said Xander and they headed over to where he was sitting. "Nice hair today. What do you call that color?" asked Buffy. "Pink," was the response. "Nice," echoed Willow.

"Everything cool today?" asked Oz.

"Sure," said Buffy. "Nothing on the hellmouth menu so far. Just lots of boring stuff to memorize and an essay on Henry IV for English. I so do not understand Shakespeare. Still a classic, hah! Who understands that language?"

Both Willow and Oz raised their hands and then shared a smile. Willow pulled her corndog out of the wrapper and raised it to her mouth. At that moment, one of the cafeteria workers ran into one of the students and dropped a load of trays. A huge *CRASH* sounded throughout the room, followed by the usual hooting and hollering of the onlookers.

Buffy, Willow and Xander all froze for a moment. Then they all raised their eyes to each other. Oz looked on, concerned. Buffy and Xander were staring at Willow. No one said a word. She stared back for a moment and then glanced down at the corndog in her hand. She shrugged slightly and took a bite right out of it. Xander flinched and threw up his hands.

"Wiiilll-llow!" cried Buffy, half-laughing. "That's disgusting." Oz looked on, now confused.

"Hey," she mumbled, and then audibly swallowed. Xander flinched again. "I told you I was beyond embarrassment the other day. And now, I think I can safely say that it's even further away now."

"Um, guys... What's going on?" asked Oz.

Xander turned to him to get away from the sight of Willow enjoying her corndog. "It happened again. Sometime yesterday it started, and we had another," he made the quote marks with his fingers, "incident in the library."

Buffy felt both disgusted and amused by Willow's continued eating of her corndog and couldn't seem to settle on one emotion or the other. "Do you realize that we didn't just sit back and watch this time?" she asked.

Oz got a very odd look on his face, "Don't tell me you participated."

"No, no, no, no," said Xander shaking his head violently. "No, we just got up and went over and stood around watching and waiting for Willow to finish" and here one of those sudden silences that always falls just when you're going to say something embarrassing, fell and the final phrase "going down on the librarian" fell into that pool of silence.

Xander's eyes got really big and his face turned as red as Willow's hair. Oz just looked stunned and swung his head from Xander to Willow to Willow's half-eaten corndog. Nearly everyone had heard what Xander had said and heads started turning towards their table. Willow paled slightly and looked wildly at Xander, not believing that he'd just said that out loud.

And then Buffy came to rescue. "Ewww, Xander," she said with a mischievous gleam in her eye, "you never get to tell us your dreams again. You *are* perverted."

If possible, Xander's eyes got wider and his face got redder. Willow took a breath and decided to take a little pity on her friend. "Yeah, Xander. Ms. Hatch must be, like, 40, now. I can't believe you still have the hots for our grade school librarian."

Several of the nearby table's occupants laughed and turned back to their lunch. Xander did not look like he appreciated the save. He glared daggers at both of the girls. "I can't believe you said that," he hissed. Willow glared right back, "You should talk. Look at Oz." She pointed to the still shell-shocked bass player. "You've completely freaked him out!"

"Yeah, well I didn't want to be alone with that. Completely freaked out pretty much covers the way I feel. It gets worse every time. Willow," here he deliberately lowered his voice, "I do not need these images in my brain."

"Well, it's not like she's doing it on purpose," said Buffy reasonably. "It's just some freaky spell."

"Well then, I have only one more thing to say."

"What's that?" asked Willow.

"We have got to figure out how to break this spell, cuz I'm thinking the next logical step for you and Giles is NOT something I ever need to see."

- - - - -

Giles had been having some tea, looking forward to seeing Willow that afternoon and musing on how to return yesterday's favor, when the spell broke again. He closed his eyes slightly and his lips tightened. Then, very deliberately, he put down his tea, took a deep breath and stood up. He walked over to his desk but as he reached for the phone, it rang.

- - - - -

Buffy followed Willow into the girls' bathroom. She closed the door in the bewildered face of the girl who was following her and said, "This one is full. Please try the next car." She turned to Willow and put her fingers to her lips. Willow cocked her head and looked at her quizzically.

Buffy checked each of the stalls, which were, luckily, empty and then turned to Willow, "Okay, we're alone." She took a breath and an oddly resolute look came into her eye.

"Okay," Willow echoed, looking at Buffy with concern. "We're alone. Why are we alone?"

"I have to ask you something, and I want to make sure nobody overhears us." Buffy crammed her hands into her pockets and hunched her shoulders. Willow looked a little scared. "Okay, you said you were beyond embarrassment, so my question is this --- whatwasitlikeandhowdidyouknowwhattodo?" The last came out all in one breath and Buffy blushed bright red.

Willow's mouth dropped open. Buffy sneaked a look at her and said, "Okay, okay - I know. I know. I don't want specifics, but generally. I've heard about it, but I never --- I mean, no one --- it's just ---" Buffy sort of trailed off. "Look, will you tell me or not?"

Willow blinked a few times and then nodded slowly. "Um, okay. Let's see." Willow did her best not to blush or fidget. "I didn't really know what to do, except generally. You'd be surprised at what you can run across on the internet, but I was usually too shy to actually get into those sites much."

"Willow, Willow, Willow," Buffy shook her head in mock dismay. "I can't believe you hit the porn sites."

"Well, you'd be surprised at what comes up when you're doing some of the searches you guys have me do. I have to read for a little bit to sometimes to see if there's anything useful there." Willow opened her eyes widely and looked as innocent as possible. Then she and Buffy started giggling uncontrollably.

Willow sobered up first. "Um, you don't think the spell has started again, do you?"

"No. I'm still a totally wigged at seeing you do that. I can't believe I now know what Giles looks like when he... well, you know. I know what you look like when you... you know. Can I just say - too much information?" Buffy gave Willow a droll look. "But I have been thinking about what you said about how you feel about him. I, too, am in love with someone I'm not supposed to be. I can relate." She and Willow smiled at each other in sympathy.

"So, okay, dish. I've never done it. I've never known anybody who's done that. I want to know. Was it icky? Was it nice? Was it - what was it like?"

"Well, it was bigger than I expected. Who knew what was lurking under all that tweed?" Buffy made a small eww face and then she and Willow erupted into giggles again.

Part Twelve

Giles stood in the middle of Angel's living room. He could have been distressed by where he was and who was standing next to him. But he wasn’t. He was too focused on the unconscious man in front of him, chained to the wall.

"Ethan," he said flatly. "I should have known." He turned his head slightly and addressed Angel, "How did you find out it was him?"

"I got help from a friendly witch. She figured whoever threw the spell must be monitoring its progress, and she worked from there. All I needed to do was track him down and get him."

The door opened and Buffy flew in, "I got here as soon as I heard. Who was our...," and here her eye was caught by the drooping figure. "Ethan Rayne!?" She turned to Giles, "Him again? Are you sure about that 'can't-kill-humans' rule?"

Giles smiled grimly, "I am. Pity."

"Okay, is there a 'can't-*hurt*-humans' rule I need to know about?"

Before Giles could answer, Xander came puffing through the door. "Hah, hah, hah - next time - hah - can you give - hah - a guy a break? Did you have to - hah - go into Slayer-mode running?" Xander put his hand to his side and came up to the group. "So what have we got? Ooh, it's that guy, that, that friend of yours, G-man."

"He's name is Ethan Rayne, and he's no friend of mine."

"Really?" came asked a weak voice. "I'm devastated. I thought we were such chums." Ethan started to straighten up and winced. "What did you people do to me."

"Nothing man," said Oz. "You did it to yourself."

Ethan raised a suspicious eye. "No really, you tripped when you tried to leave, and you knocked yourself out."

"And you tenderly put me in these," rattling the chains, "to help my head trauma?"

"You'll get more trauma, if you don't start answering some questions," glared Buffy. "What have you done, and why have you been doing it?"

"Now why would I help you? You, who interfered in my last job here? That cost me. My reputation suffered, and I lost some jobs." Ethan grimaced.

"Is that what this is about? Revenge?" asked Giles.

Ethan looked him right in the eye. "Why not? You hurt me; I hurt you. Remember, Ripper?"

Giles tried to take a step forward but was restrained by Angel. "Don't let him get to you. You need information." He paused. "First." Giles and Angel shared a look and then turned back to Ethan.

"Right," said Giles. "You hurt me; I hurt you. Tell me or I - hurt - you." Ethan smiled slightly to himself at the look in Giles' eye and leaned forward against his chains.

Buffy bounced on her heels slightly and said, in exactly the same tone Giles had used in the warehouse a month before, "Can I hit him?"

Ethan drew back slightly and Giles said, "No." He looked back at Ethan and said, "Talk. What was the spell?"

Ethan gave him a considering look and then suddenly smiled and shrugged, "Okay, fine. It was Gleichgultige mit Fixierung."

Everyone looked confused for a moment. "I think I speak for us all when I say, hunh?" asked Buffy.

Giles face cleared and he said, "Gleich... but..." and then he stopped and gave Ethan a quizzical look.

"Yes, recognize it? Kind of an old hat but it works. Except this time, it didn't. At least, not the way I had planned. Although this *was* quite amusing to watch unfold."

"Giles," asked Buffy, "do you know what he's talking about?"

Giles nodded slowly. "Gleichgultige mit Fixierung is a fairly basic spell really. It means indifference with obsession or fixation, depending on how you translate the German. But I fail to see why you thought this would hurt Buffy or me."

"Yes, well, there I'm afraid I simply miscalculated." Ethan grinned ruefully. "You see, I assumed it would be her," and he nodded at Buffy.

"Me? Me, what?" asked Buffy.

Without taking his eyes off of Ethan's face, Giles explained, "This spell is supposed to make the focus of it become completely fixated on the person he has," and here Giles glared at Ethan, "a repressed desire for. This person becomes the object of their obsession. The focus then pursues this obsession, oblivious to any and all consequences. The spell also causes any other people in the area of its affect to become equally indifferent to the pursuit going on around them." He took a deep breath, "It usually causes a lot more problems than this."

"More problems than we've had?" said Xander incredulously.

"Oh yes," interjected Ethan. "The focus will do _anything_ to in the pursuit of his obsession."

"But why would me going after my obsession," Buffy flicked a quick glance at Angel, "cause problems? And I didn’t... do it anyway."

Ethan laughed harshly, "He said, ‘repressed desire’ darling. You’re hardly repressing."

"Yes. Buffy, you weren't the focus," said Giles, slowly. "I was, wasn't I?" Ethan nodded

"Then what did he mean, he thought it would be her?" asked Oz.

"Well," explained Ethan. "I thought she'd be the object of his obsession." Buffy and Xander both recoiled. Oz looked like he’d had his guess confirmed. "She’s young, cute, blond, stacked," here Ethan gave Buffy an up-and-down look. This time it was Giles who restrained Angel. "I figured he'd been repressing certain urges, and this would bring them out."

He continued, "Then he'd start going after you, you'd repulse him, he'd try harder, probably rape, and you'd either kill him or hurt him. That would mess up your little group, his job, and your whole Slayer-Watcher set-up. I'd be revenged, and I'm sure I could have picked up some little remuneration somewhere for doing it."

Buffy stalked up to Ethan, smiled mockingly and then swiftly punched him in the stomach. "Buffy, don't," exclaimed Giles. Buffy turned to look at Giles, "I'm not gonna kill him. I'm just gonna hurt him a little. So why not?"

"Because he likes it," Giles said wearily. Buffy turned back to Ethan to see him giving her a sly smile. "YUCK!" she exclaimed stepping quickly back to Angel's side. "Giles, how was this man ever your friend?"

Without looking at her Giles said, "Two words - Billy Fordham." Buffy started to open her mouth and then closed it again. She shrugged and nodded.

"Um, I have a question," said Xander. "Why did the spell keep breaking and how did it get started again?"

"There’s always a trigger for the break, that's to allow for the realization of what's been happening. What good is doing something to people if they don't know you've done it to them? But you always have a trigger to start it again."

"And that trigger was..." asked Giles.

"I think I've been helpful enough. Of course," he said slyly, "you could hit me again to make me tell you."

Angel stepped forward and said, "Would you like *me* to hit you?" Ethan looked him in the eye and shuddered slightly. "All right, all right. Eye contact. Every time your eyes meet, the spell starts again."

"Gack," exclaimed Buffy. "But we've been looking at each other for the last half hour."

"Buffy," said Giles, "You're NOT the object of my obsession, remember. I assume you mean every time she and I look at each other, yes?

Ethan nodded smugly. "Subtle, wasn't it? You thought it was proximity or the library. So you thought you were safe." Ethan started to chuckle.

"So, wait," said Xander, "Giles was the focus of the spell. And the focus goes after the object of his obsession. But Giles went after..." and before he could speak any further, his sentence was finished by a voice from the doorway. "Me," said Willow.

As their heads started to turn, she said quickly, "Giles, don't look." He whipped his head back to face Ethan's grinning one. "Difficult not to look, isn't it?" he asked complacently.

Giles ground his teeth in frustration. Willow gave Buffy a quick hug and waved the others back. "I'll stay here by the door," she said. "It'll be easier."

"Okay, so again," said Xander walking back towards Ethan, "Giles - focus, Willow - obsession - why didn’t it go the way you thought it would? Why didn't Giles just, ugh, jump Willow?"

Ethan just grinned as everyone except Xander looked as if they had just been enlightened. Xander noticed. "What? What? Okay, what am I missing that you all just got?"

"Because," said Giles, "it's very rare for the object of your obsession to," he paused as if looking for the right words and then finished somewhat formally, "return your regard. That's it isn't it?" he asked of Ethan. "It was mutual, that distorted the spell?"

"That wasn't all," said Ethan. "If it had only been obsession, you two would have been at it like rabbits from the start, and I, at least, would have gotten the pleasure of seeing you fired and possibly jailed. But really, old chum," he said gayly, "you should be thanking me. How else would you have known that she returns your affection."

"Affection?!?" Xander exclaimed in disgust.

"Yes, affection," Ethan mimicked. "It changed everything."

Buffy looked at Giles speculatively and then asked, "You love Willow, Giles? Really?"

Giles took a deep breath and then said, "I'm not going to answer that question, Buffy." He looked at her and smiled slightly. "At least, not in a roomful of other people." Willow smiled to herself in the doorway.

"I don't know why not," said Xander. "You've done everything else in front of us. Why should this be different?" He threw up his hands and then dropped to the sofa. Oz patted him on the shoulder in sympathy. "Giles and Willow?" he muttered to himself under his breath.

"Okay," said Buffy. "We know what the spell is, who cast it and what starts it again. Now comes the $64,000 question of how do we break the spell?" She looked enquiringly at Ethan. He gave her a very self-satisfied smirk.

"What?" said Giles with suspicion. "What's the way to break the spell, Ethan?"

"Oh, it's very simple," said Ethan trying to look innocent. "You have to, um, consummate your affection. Without being under the effect of the spell.

"What?" shouted Giles. "I can't do that!"

"Why not?" asked Buffy, "You've done just about everything but that."

"Yes, but I wasn't in control of myself then. Besides, she's underage."

"Actually, I'm not. I turned 18 over two months ago." Everyone turned to stare at her, so she quickly looked down at the ground.

"Oh my god, Willow," cried Buffy. "We forgot your birthday? We're terrible friends."

"No, it's okay," said Willow. "Too many things, bad things, were happening then. It was easier to let it slide. But it means that it's not illegal to break the spell so the only question is, do we break the spell?"

"Do we?" exclaimed Xander starting up off the couch. "Of course you do. No wait, that would mean you and Giles have to... but if you don't then anytime you look at each other, you'll...," he clutched at his head and sank back into the couch.

"Yes, what's the problem. I'm sure you two will do just fine," said Ethan insinuatingly, "After all, who knew she was such the little sex kitten? Pity I won't get to see that happen. I'm sure I enjoyed watching her up until now as much as you enjoyed having her." Giles growled slightly and then got a grip on himself.

"Ethan, quit baiting Giles. Or *I'll* turn Angel loose on you," said Willow.

Ethan subsided. "Giles, we need to talk about this." She turned her back and started out the door. Giles looked at Ethan and then at the rest of the gang. Buffy, Angel and Oz all nodded back. Buffy smiled encouragingly. Xander just sort of waved him away. He turned and walked out the door.

Buffy looked at the empty door for a few moments and then she turned back to the figure against the wall. She tilted her head and considered him. Slowly they all turned to look at Ethan. He started to feel very uncomfortable.

Angel took a small step forward and asked, "What *shall* we do about Ethan?"

"Can we vote?" asked Oz with a glint in his eye.

Ethan started to actually wish that Giles was still in the room.

Part Thirteen

Giles walked a few paces behind Willow. Finally, Giles felt he had to break the silence that had surrounded them. "Willow," he said tentatively. "You said we have to talk?"

"Yes, we do. But let's wait until we're inside."

"Inside where?" asked Giles. Willow giggled quietly. "Look around," she said. So Giles did and realized where they were heading. "My apartment?" he queried.

"Unless you'd like to have this conversation in front of my parents?" Willow asked teasingly. Giles shook his head and then realized she wouldn't be able to see that.

"No. My apartment's fine." They continued in silence. Willow was surprised at how calm she felt. Perhaps it was the talk she’d had with Buffy; maybe it was everything that had been happening and she *really* was totally beyond embarrassment. Or maybe it was actually knowing – KNOWING – that he cared for her. That he lo- - - but here her thoughts stopped and would go no further. But that was okay. She could wait.

When they reached his apartment door, Willow turned slightly away and covered her eyes. She heard Giles open the door. There was a pause and then she heard him say, "Okay, you can come in now."

She raised her hands up at the edges so that she could see beneath them and entered the apartment. Making sure never to raise her eyes and make contact, she closed the door behind her and stayed facing it. She took a deep breath.

"Um, Willow? Are you in the living room yet?"

"No, I'm by the door with my back to the room."

"Oh, I’m in the kitchen. You could go to the couch, make yourself comfortable."

"Giles, I don’t think comfortable is going to be possible any time soon."

She heard him sigh. "You may be right." There was a long pause, then they both started to speak, "Do you..." "Can you..." Willow giggled again and said, "You first."

"Perhaps, considering what we’re going to have to talk about, maybe it’s better we can’t see each other."

"Yeah, I told Buffy I was beyond embarrassment, but it would appear I was wrong."

"You, you, are you unhappy about this?"

"Giles," she let out a little snort, "didn’t you hear yourself? I - ‘return your affection’. The only thing I’m unhappy about is the world-wide audience we seem to have collected," she heard him chortle in the kitchen, "and the fact that absolutely everyone knows what we are going to be doing soon." She paused and then said, "We *are* going to be doing something soon, yes?" Giles smiled happily at the hopeful tone in her voice.

"Yes, I rather think so." Willow grinned in anticipation. "I suppose what we need to discuss is – logistics. We’re going to need a way to ensure we don’t initiate eye-contact."

"Mmmm," Willow said silkily, "have I ever told you how sexy you sound when you get all pedantic?"

Giles blushed slightly and cleared his throat, "Ahem, y-yes, w-well, I, uh." Willow broke in, "Do you have a scarf or piece of cloth or something?" and Giles could hear the smile in her voice.

"A piece of...? Oh! Right. Hang on a moment." There was the sound of drawers opening, and Giles rummaging around. Willow made sure she didn't move. "Got it. So, should this be you or me?"

"Well, I’m thinking the person with the most experience shouldn’t be the blind one."

"Good thinking." He came up behind her and carefully tied a soft, silky cloth over her eyes. "What is this?" she asked curiously, feeling with her hands to make sure it was secure.

"A muffler." There was amusement in his voice. "It was a gift. My friend assumed I wouldn't need a woolen one out here so he got me a silk one. This will be the first time I've ever used it." He took her hands in his and maneuvered her to the couch. They sat.

Willow giggled slightly and said, "What would you friend say about the use to which you are putting it, now?" She didn't see the wry twist to Giles mouth as he replied but she heard it in his voice. "He'd approve actually. Tying up beautiful, young women appeals to him."

"You, you think I'm beautiful?" Willow asked, biting her lip. He pressed a small kiss to the back of the hand he had raised to his mouth. "I have thought you were beautiful since the first moment I saw you. Even in that terrible dress you were wearing. It made you look about 12, and me feel like a complete pedophile."

Willow chuckled. "My mother bought me that dress. I've often wondered if she had issues with my growing up." She cleared her throat. "So, I believe you had something to say to me, with no one else around?" She tilted her head towards him a little.

He groaned slightly, and fidgeted with his glasses. "I didn't particularly want to say it with you sitting here blindfolded, either."

"I don't care." She groped forward until her hand reached his knees and she patted them. "I just want to hear it."

"Oh Willow, I can't. It was supposed to be perfect and special."

Willow grinned. "What, my sitting here blindfolded isn't special enough for you?" Before Giles could say anything, she shook her head, "No I'm not making fun. I just hadn't realized you were such a romantic. I know I hadn't realized a lot of things about you."

"I hadn't realized a lot of things about you either." He took her hands in his again and pulled her forward so that she was in his arms. They rested like that for a few moments.

"All right," said Willow donning her resolve face. "I want to hear those words and if I have to have the blindfold off to do it - fine."

"Willow, no! Don't take it off."

"I'm not going to take it off. We need to get rid of the spell so that I can take it off. And there's only one way to get rid of the spell."

Giles reached out and caressed her cheek. "Oh, love, this isn't the way I wanted our first time together to be." She captured his hand in hers, and then turned her head and placed a kiss on his palm. "Me either. But I do know that I want to be able to look you in the eyes. I have words I want to say to you as well." She gave a little sigh and then stood up.

"Besides, haven't you ever had any fantasies about me?" she asked. Giles quirked an eyebrow and admitted in a sardonic tone, "One or two - - - dozen." She grinned.

"Well," she spread her arms wide. "Here I am, helpless before you. Do with me what you will." With a growl, Giles lunged up off the couch and swept her up in his arms. She squealed a little. He turned and went up the stairs. Willow felt a little scared, but it was Giles so it was a safe kind of scared. She knew he would never hurt her.

He put her on her feet in his bedroom and then stepped back. This wasn't what he'd hoped or even begun to plan as a first time, but he would try to make it as special as he could. But before anything else, he simply had to do one thing. He stepped forward.

Willow felt him take her tenderly in his arms and then he kissed her. It was a gentle kiss, a kiss full of all the words he hadn't yet said. His passion was there and so was his tenderness. It filled her with an ache she was used to feeling around this man, but it promised her that this time, that ache would be assuaged.

He drew back slowly and looked down on the face of the woman he loved. He could finally admit it to himself, free of the fear of being ridiculous or of being rejected. He hated to admit it but Ethan was right. In a way, he did owe him a debt of gratitude. He might never have had the courage to say or doing anything about how he felt. But knowing now that Willow cared for him as he cared for her, gave him all the confidence he needed.

Willow smiled sweetly and then, in a husky voice, said, "I don't think that's going to break the spell." Giles' voice had a smile in it, "No, love, we're just getting started." "Ahhh, nice start."

"We have to keep the blindfold in place," he said. "But the, uh, rest of this," and he tugged at her shirt, "has to go." Willow blushed slightly. And then she pouted. "I don't think it's fair that you get to see me, and I don't get to see you."

"Life," he said with satisfaction, "is not fair. But, if you really like, I could wear the blindfold."

She pretended to think about it for a bit, then shook her head with mock despondency. "No, as the less experienced person, I still think it should be me."

"Less experienced, hmmmm? Really, you seemed to have a pretty good idea of what you were doing the other day," he teased just to see her blush even more. Which she did, a nice rosy red, and she put her hands on her cheeks to cover it. "Ruuu-pert. Don't remind me of that." He leaned close and whispered in her ear, "Why not? I quite liked it. Maybe I'll return the favor." If possible Willow blushed even further red but didn't protest any longer.

Giles reached for the small buttons of her shirt and began to undo them slowly. She closed her eyes under the cloth and tilted her head a little. Once all the buttons were undone, he slid his hands underneath the cloth and around her waist. He drew her close to him and held her. Bending his head, he caressed the top of her head with his cheek and simply enjoyed having her in his arms. His to touch; his to love.

He stepped back and drew his hands up, lightly skimming her breasts, causing her to gasp. He slipped the fabric from her shoulders, drawing it down over her arms. She stood there, shivering slightly from the excitement, with the black cloth covering her eyes and the white lace of her bra covering her breasts. He quickly removed his own shirt and undershirt. Then he drew her into an embrace that pressed them close together.

She took fire from the heat rising off of him. The touch of his leg to hers, his torso to hers, his lips to hers. Added to that, she could feel him swelling against her abdomen. All of these started a raging inferno inside of her. Any lingering embarrassment was discarded - she needed no spell to make her want this man – and no spell would stop her finally from having him. Her arms curved around him, drawing him closer. She wanted to merge with him. She tangled her fingers in his hair drawing him still closer. They kissed more deeply, mouths desperate to taste everything.

He drew back, gasping. She drew a deep breath, which caused her breasts to graze his chest. His nipples grew as hard as hers already were. She brought her hands down, smoothing over his shoulders, his pecs, and finally resting on his abdomen.

She tilted her head a little towards him and then stepped back. He hissed a little in disappointment as her hands left his body. Then his gaze sharpened, and he felt himself grow even harder as she gracefully unzipped her skirt and stepped out of it.

She stood proudly before him. It was easier than she thought it would be. In a way, having the blindfold on helped. She couldn't see him, so there was no self-consciousness. She knew he desired her. She knew that he loved her. That made her feel beautiful. That made her _know_ she was beautiful.

He couldn't believe her loveliness. Nothing he had imagined prepared him for the reality. Her skin was like milk, her slim waist flared into rounded hips, her small but perfect breasts. And it was all for him. No one had seen her like this. 'And no one *ever* would,' a fierce voice in his head said. '*MINE*.' His smile turned slightly feral. In one swift step, he was next to her again. He pulled her close and rained kisses down on her upturned face. He drank deeply from her mouth and then buried his face in the crook of her neck. His hands ran from her shoulders to her hips and back up again.

He unsnapped her bra and drew it off her. Then he picked her and carried her to the bed. Giles placed her gently on her back and drew back a little to gaze with reverence upon her. He began to caress her breasts, using only his hands at first but joined in short order by his mouth. Willow gave out little breathy moans as he worked his way up from her chest to her shoulder to her neck to her mouth. He left a trail of fire where his mouth had been.

Willow had never felt anything so wonderful as the feel of Giles. Giles' hands, Giles' mouth, Giles' body. The tactile sensations were flooding in and she couldn't cope, didn't want to cope, she just wanted to feel. For once, she could completely shut off her mind and just *be*. There was one tiny snag though. Her hands sought his belt buckle and tried to push him away long enough to get rid of it. When Giles became aware of what she was doing, he abruptly rolled onto his back and undid the belt himself. Belt, pants and shorts quickly hit the floor and then he rolled back.

His hands were everywhere. Caressing, touching, exciting. Willow hadn't thought it possible to be more aroused, but she was. And when his hands drifted to her panties, she moaned in anticipation. He tugged slightly and then whispered in her ear, "Lift your hips a little, love." She did and he eased her underwear off over her feet. The underwear joined his clothes on the floor. From the vantage point at the foot, he looked over this auburn-haired goddess that graced his bed. A part of him - a small part - would have been content merely to gaze upon her in reverent adoration. But the larger, ahem, part of him pretty much said, "Bugger that for a game of larks, mate! Get in there." He decided to obey such a wise voice.

He began by kissing the arch of her foot. Then her pretty, little ankle. Her calf came in for its share of attention. And he was lavish with praise for her thighs. But the apex of it all, there he worshipped her. With his fingers, with his mouth, with his tongue. Willow clutched at the sheets. Forces were building in her that she couldn't control. She writhed and he pinned her hips in place with his hands.

"Ruuuu-pperrtttt," she wailed in a voice that had him smugly grinning to himself. "You're killing me." He raised his head slightly and asked, "Why do you think they call it the 'little death'? Don't worry, love, just getting you ready." And he decided that she was ready enough. He slid up the rest of her body, running his leg between her parted thighs. The feel of the hair of his leg upon her most sensitive body parts caused her to moan again. Giles wasn't sure he could last much longer and knew he had to bring them both to a consummation, quickly.

He told her to wait a moment and rolled over to the other side of the bed. Willow, making little clutching motions with her hands at the loss of everything wonderful and good could hear the drawer open and then a rustle of something. It took her a moment to realize what was happening. ‘Oh,’ she thought to herself, ‘thank the gods, he’s got protection.’ Then she frowned slightly, ‘Why does he have protection? Should I be wo..." but this train of thought was completely derailed when he rolled back and was above her once again, touching at all points.

He shifted her hips up and told her, "Bend your legs, love." She obeyed. He maneuvered himself into place and then paused a moment. Willow fretfully shook her head. "What's wrong? Am I . . . Is it. . ." she trailed off worriedly.

"No, it's all right. But I think you're going to need to help."

"Help?" she gulped. "What do you mean help?" He took one of her hands and placed it on his erection. "I mean, you'll need to _help_" and he placed a special emphasis on that word. Willow looked as bewildered as one could with a blindfold on. He gave a small sigh and a little laugh. Willow frowned. "What's funny? Is it supposed to be funny?"

"Supposed to be, I don't know. But it often is. And that's what makes it so wonderful. Darling, things don't always," he paused looking for the right word, "mesh perfectly. I don't want you hurt you. You're going to have to help me get inside you." At those words, said in that husky accented voice, Willow shivered again and gave a great sigh. "I'll try," she said shakily and tentatively tried move Giles into the right place. There was a small yelp, and she jerked back. "Willow," said Giles trying hard to keep the amusement out of his voice, "think of it like a, uh, tampon."

"But I don't use tampons," she wailed. "I don't know what I'm doing. They don't have these problems in the movies."

"Yes, the cinema has a lot to answer for. Just not right now." He took a deep breath. "I'm going to try not to hurt you, help if you can." Taking another deep breath and bracing himself on one arm, he carefully probed until he felt the place where he belonged. He slipped inside slowly. Willow gasped again and grabbed his shoulders tightly. "Easy now, easy," he gentled her. It took all his control, but he continued a slow slide in. She was so incredibly tight. She was hot and damp and everything that was wonderful and he was going to die if he didn't bury himself in her fully but he couldn't, wouldn't hurt her no matter what it cost him.

Willow could feel him everywhere. She hadn't fully understood this act could mean but this sensation! She could feel him inside her and feel him outside her. There was a core of heat penetrating her but at the same time, she felt his warm, sweat-dampened skin touching her skin all along the length of her body. She turned her face to his shoulder and pressed a kiss there.

He reached her barrier and paused. "Willow," he whispered, "Take a deep breath." She did so. He gathered himself and then punched past. Willow gave a small yell and actually bit his shoulder. They both said, "I'm sorry" at the same time. Willow giggled a little and Giles chuckled. "Are you all right? Am I hurting you?" he asked.

"No. It's just - different. I didn't expect... I'm not s-sure what I expected but this - I feel literally fulfilled. Do you think we could stay like this forever?" she asked wistfully. "Oh, love," he said with a rasp in his voice, "it gets better." "Better?" she queried doubtfully. He drew back to the edge and then plunged right back in again. "Aaaahhhhh," she gasped. "Better." He began his rhythm. In and out. Back and forth. Slowly at first, but speeding up. Ragged breathing filled the air. It didn't take very long for both of them to reach the brink. Giles didn't pause, and he took them both over into ecstasy.

Giles cried out her name. Willow made a few vague noises in the back of her throat and then passed out again. He rolled onto his back and tried to get his breathing under control. He dealt quickly and efficiently with the condom and then drew her into his embrace. He shook her gently awake.

"Willow," he whispered, "wake up."

"MMMmmmm, don’t wanna," she murmured back. "I was having the most incredible dream."

"It gets better when you wake up."

"Im-possible," she said firmly. "Nothing could be better than that." Then she felt his hand go to the back of her head and untie the scarf. She blinked up at the man she loved. "Willow," he asked, "how do you feel?"

She blushed and said, "Wonderful." She smiled up at him. He tossed the scarf aside. "Now," he continued, "how would you feel if I told you Buffy and Xander are standing in the doorway?" Willow jerked around and scrabbled for the sheets before realizing that no one was in the doorway. She subsided and clutched her chest. "Don’t do *that* to me."

He smiled and reached for her. "Just testing. I wanted to make sure the spell was broken." He drew her back and then cradled her face between his hands. He face grew solemn. Willow’s eyes got big and she paled slightly. "Willow," he said and she held her breath, "I love you. I have always loved you even when I knew it was the wrong thing to do. Even when I was trying to love someone else, you were always there in my heart. I – love – you."

By the end of this speech, Willow had tears in her eyes. She leaned forward and pulled him into a hard embrace. She snuffled a little and then leaned back enough to say, "I was wrong; you were right. It got better." She looked at him with shining eyes, "I love you, too. From the first moment I saw you in the library, I loved you. When I thought you had found happiness with someone else, I still loved you. When I thought I would never have a chance to be with you, I loved you. I don’t think I could live, if I didn’t love you – it’s everything I am. I – love – you."

Giles thought his heart would burst with happiness. He placed a reverent kiss upon her lips and the sat for a moment, forehead leaning on forehead. Then they shifted so that they were lying in each other’s arms.

"So." Willow said.

"So." Agreed Giles.

She sighed a big, happy sigh. Then her hand started to play among the hair on his chest. "Do you think," she said half-muffling her face in his shoulder, "do you think we could try that again?" She looked up a little shyly and bit her lip. "I’d really like to *see* you this time. Feeling you was, um, nice. But..." she trailed off. Giles was relieved that his body responded to this quite nicely. He’d had a fleeting worry at the beginning that he wouldn’t be able to, er, keep up. But now he felt like that 17 year old boy Xander had once mentioned. He captured her hand with his and placed a kiss on her palm. "That sounds do-able, love," he said. He placed her hand further down. She giggled and agreed, "Definitely do-able."


"Gahhh!" Xander screamed as he backed out of Giles' office. "It didn't work! It didn't work! Oh my God!"

Buffy ran to him, panicked. "Xander," she asked. "What are you talking about? What do you mean it didn't work?"

"Them!" he yelled again, pointing to the doorway, where Willow's and Giles' heads could be seen poking out, looking concerned.

"They were--- they were--- kissing!" he exclaimed in the accents of highest tragedy.

Buffy covered her mouth, so that he wouldn't see the incipient smile. "Oh," she said, trying to sound suitably sober. She looked over at Willow and Giles. Giles looked irritated to be interrupted but Willow gave her a wink and a smile. "Oh," she said again, enlightened. She turned to the trembling boy. "Um, Xander," she started. "So, they were kissing?"

He just nodded with a wild look in his eyes.

"How do you feel about that?" she asked, in her best psychiatrist tone.

"Feel?!" he yelped, outraged. "Completely wigged - that's how I feel. What do you expect? I can't believe that she -- that he -- that they -- you know, had to, you know and it didn't work! That means it's gonna start again and then we'll be all..." here, Xander trailed off as the import of his words sunk in. "Wait. Wait. If it didn't work, I'd be indifferent, right? But I'm not, so it did work. But then..." he trailed off again and his eyes grew wide with horror.

He started shaking his head and said, "No" very faintly. Buffy, looking sympathetic, nodded yes and then took him by the arm. "Look, it's going to be all right. It'll take a little getting used to, I admit - but everything will turn out just fine." She led Xander away.

Behind her, she heard Giles mutter, "Good riddance," and Willow's giggle before the unmistakable sound of the door shutting and the lock being engaged.

"But, but, but," Xander sputtered futilely as he looked over his shoulder at the now closed door. "But that means that they're... Oh God. What further horror can the Hellmouth throw at me? What is it with you femmes and OLD guys?!"

Buffy stopped patting him on the arm and said, "Heyyyyy! Remember, I can kick your butt!"

Xander looked at her pathetically. She sighed and started patting his arm again as she took him towards the vending machines. It wouldn't cure his problem, but large amounts of snacks might at least start the healing process.

- - - - -

End Epilogue and the end of Something Strange.

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