Chapter ten

He had held off as long as he could, but the two coffees he'd had with Buffy earlier that day had finally hit bottom.

"Time to do my part for the planet and recycle." He said to himself as he tried to move his sleeping friend without waking her. But no sooner had he stood up and the phone rang, causing him to make a run for it before the ringing woke Willow up. "Hello?" he said. "I mean, Rosenberg residence."

"Xander, it's me. I-is Willow all right? Is she there?"

"Hey, Giles. Yeah, she's here and she's fine. Sleeping though. Why, what's up?"

"Oh, well. Nothing then."

"What is it, G-man? Out with it."

"Xander, please stop calling me that." Replied Giles, a little exasperated. "I was just a little worried about Willow, that's all. Apparently I had no need to be."

"No, everything's fine here. She was a little tired though, so I brought her home. She did that spell up there on the Bluff today, I guess that's what wiped her out."

"Ahhh, I see." Said the watcher, but with a puzzled tone in his voice.

"Giles, what's wrong?"

"I don't know… nothing, I guess."

"That's enough, I want to know. This is my best friend we're talking about." The young man said sternly.

"Maybe it's nothing. It's just that, well, with the amount of power Willow has; a little spell like that shouldn't have exhausted her so."

"What do you think is happening to her?" he looked to the sleeping red head. "She must be having a bad dream or something, she's pretty restless right now."

"Yes, of that I am not surprised to hear. She is still having nightmares about Warren, and about what she tried to do to you, Buffy and I."

"But that was months ago… we're all okay with it now."

"Yes, `we' are. But Willow has a tendency to hang on to her guilt, as you well know. I fear that this will bother her for some time yet." He said to the young man, sadness in his voice. "I suppose I should let you go. I appreciate you putting my fears to rest some."

"No problem-o, G-man. I mean, Giles." He couldn't see it, but he knew Giles was smiling at the other end of the phone.

"Will you be staying with her until I arrive?"

"Yeah, I'll be here. And don't worry, everything's fine." He said reassuringly.

"Yes, quite. Thank you, Xander. I shall see you tonight. Perhaps you would like to join us for dinner?"

"Hey, you know me… never one to pass up the opportunity for a free meal." He laughed, causing the older man to chuckle as well.

"Very well, I'll see you tonight then. Goodbye, Xander."

"Bye, Giles." And with that, the young man hung up the phone. He turned and quickly headed up the stairs towards the washroom. `Whew, any longer and I would have been borrowing a pair of Giles pants'. He thought as he shut the door.

When he finished relieving himself and washed his hands, he looked at himself in the mirror. He just didn't have the heart to tell the watcher of what had happened today, not wanting to worry the man any more than he already was. He didn't want anyone to know how he really felt towards the man but Giles felt like a father to him and he loved the watcher for it.

He splashed cold water on his face and dried himself off with a towel, and looked back once again into the mirror. `Damnit! This just isn't right!' he thought to himself. He hated keeping secrets. But the young man knew Willow, inside and out; and today she was different. She was not the girl he grew up with. Giles had said, before taking her to England, that she might never be the same, and he was right.

When she came back she was quieter, wasn't as quick to join in anything and even her interest weren't quite the same either. But these changes were small, easy to get accustomed to. But the girl he had seen today; forceful and down right snarky. This was not his friend.

At least, not until he saw an abrupt change within seconds. She looked confused and almost scared to death, and had quickly tried to hide it. But she wasn't fast enough; he had seen it.

He made his way back down the stairs and stopped to watch her sleep.

"This is more going on with you than just a dinky little spell tiring you out." He said quietly. "What is going on with you?" he shook his head in frustration. "The dream and now this. I don't know what's happening yet, but I `will' find out." He promised himself, and went to the kitchen to find something munch on while he waited for Giles to get home.


Chapter eleven

Giles pulled into the lane way, got out of the car and made his way to the door. He stopped briefly to compose himself, and then plaster a smile on his face before walking in the door. He had not wanted to worry Xander when he had spoke to him earlier on the phone, but something had not felt right.

At first, for a good hour or so, he had not been able to feel her, then in a flash he felt her fear. Fear over what he did not know, and wasn't quite sure how to go about finding out without upsetting her… or Xander for that matter. He knew Xander was worried about her enough as it was because of the dream they had all shared, so he saw no need to give him any more cause to increase it.

Giles did not want to admit it to anyone, least of all to Xander; but he rather thought of the young man as a son. He was fiercely loyal, and would bend over backwards for any of them if he needed too. `Fine traits for someone so young.' He thought. Xander was annoying when he'd first met him… `But he kind of grows on you; much like a fungus.' He chuckled at this thought.

Giles opened the door and went in, and the smile he wore was real as he saw two happy faces smiling back him. Willow jumped up and ran to him, enveloping him in a huge hug, which he was only too happy to return.

"I made some dinner. Hope your hungry." She said, eyes twinkling.

"I have to say that I am quite famished. So, luv, what are we having?"

"I hope you don't mind `Lumberjack' stew?" she asked hopefully.

"Sounds wonderful." He replied as Willow took his jacket and went to hang it up in the closet. As she did so, he made his way to Xander in the kitchen. "Well, she certainly seems to be in a joyous mood."

"Yup, she is. That nap this afternoon seemed to really perk her up."

"I'm glad to hear that. I'm afraid her energy level has been a little off for at least a couple of weeks. At first I attributed it to being nervous about coming back to Sunnydale. She was scared of what all of you thought about her. Then the flight, plus adjusting to being here again. It's enough to drain anyone, but…" he let the sentence trail off as Willow walked in and went to the stove.

"I hope your hungry, Rupert. I made lots." She said as she scooped out a bowl and placed it on the table.

"It smells absolutely wonderful." He said, sitting himself down at the table and watching her beam in delight at his compliment.

"There's some tea biskets in the basket on the table. I didn't know if you'd prefer those or crackers; so I also put crackers in the basket too." She said as she set down a bowl for Xander and then herself.

Giles watched as Willow went back to the counter and pick up a teacup, causing a wide smile to spread across his lips.

"Ahhh, you've made tea."

"Well, don't be silly. Of course I did." She replied as she set the cup down. As he looked in the cup, his brows drew together when he noticed the tea was not the right colour. Even the smell was different.

"Uh, Willow?"

"Yes, Rupert?"

"The tea; I-its green."

"That's because it's Green Tea, and its much better for you."

"B-but I rather fancy the Earl Grey." He said, but at his words Willow looked a little crestfallen so he quickly back peddled. "But that's quite alright. I wouldn't mind the idea of trying something new. Don't judge unless you've tasted. Isn't that right, Xander?" he looked to the young man for back up.

"Whipped." Was the reply, with his usual goofy grin.

"Oh, do shut up!"

Willow snickered and handed Xander a soda, then set down a bottle of water for herself. All three dug in to the soup hungrily, but after a few chews Giles and Xander paused. They looked at each other for conformation, and then looked to Willow-who was very obviously enjoying her meal.

Not wanting to upset her, they began to chew once again, albeit much slower and with less gusto than before. It took everything they had just to swallow each bite that they put into their mouths. A short time later Willow got up and scooped herself another bowl and sat down, looking at the other two.

"You know, for two `famished' people, you both are eating awfully slow." She said. Xander's head snapped to Willow, desperately trying to think of something to say, when Giles replied.

"Just savoring each delicious bite, luv." He said, and Xander looked totally greatful to the older man.

"Yeah, don't wanna eat too fast. Could either fill me up or make me sick. So I opted for eating a little slower, then I can have another bowl. Please pass the basket." She seemed to accept this and handed the young man the basket-which he quickly dug into.

He grabbed a handful of crackers and crushed them into his soup, then began eating again. Giles saw this and made a gesture to the basket, which Xander passed to him. Giles immediately dug in and took a tea bisket and buttered it.

"How did you know I love tea biskets?" he asked as he bit into it, and then started stuffing it into his mouth only to grab another.

"I didn't. Just made them to go with the stew. Now that I know, I'll make them more often for you."

"That is quite considerate of you." He replied. But after the fourth bisket he stopped eating and turned to Willow. "It appears, my dear, that I stuffed myself. I find I cannot resist your tea biskets, and gorged myself on them. I-I'm afraid I'm too full to finish your lovely stew. I'm sorry."

"That's okay." She said happily. "That means there will be enough left over for dinner tomorrow night too." And she took his bowl to the sink, while Xander gave Giles a dirty look.

"I'm full too."

"Oh Xander. I think you could finish up the last couple of bites you have left." She admonished. Xander glared at Giles as the older man snickered at his predicament. Xander scooped the last few spoonfuls into his mouth and held up his bowl.

"I fiwissed." He said with a mouthful of food.

"Xander! Please, do use your manners and don't talk with your mouth full." Said Giles, only to receive a scowl and a fist shaking in the air. Willow took the bowl as the young man did his best to chew and swallow his food; once done, he took a huge gulp of his soda, making sure to swish with it first.

"Giles, you haven't touched your tea yet." Said Xander with a smirk. "Willow made it just for you, ya know."

"Take a sip and tell me what you think. I kinda like it myself."

"Of course, dear." And he picked up the cup and sipped. It took every ounce of willpower he had not to screw up his face. "Its delightful."

"You really like it? I'm so relieved. I'll start buying that kind from now on. It really is good for you, much better than the Earl Grey."

"Yes, but please! Don't stop buying the Earl Grey. It would be nice to drink every now and again."

"I don't see any harm in that. Besides, I know how much you like that tea. Just promise me that you'll drink the green tea too sometimes instead."

"That would be wonderful. Thank you." He replied.

"Now that that's settled, I have dishes to do. Why don't you two go into the living room and relax. I'll join you in a little bit."

"Yes, I would like that." He said and the two stood up to leave, causing Xander to speak up.

"Don't forget you're tea, G-man." He snickered.

"Yes, how silly of me. Thank you for reminding me, Xander."

"Oh, think nuthin of it. Just happy to help."


Chapter twelve

She was near to exhaustion as she entered the shop and made her way to the counter and placed her order. The Espresso Pump wasn't a long distance from her place, and should be easy to walk to, as she had done many times over the years; but now, even a small trip down the block tired her out. Something was draining her energy-but what?

The red head was worrying more and more; and rightly so. The blackouts came more often, and lasted longer than when they had first started. So far, it had only happened while with her friend's once-as far as she knew. All of a sudden finding herself in a different part of the house, or somewhere on the streets with no memory or explanation as to how she got there; it was really beginning to wear on her nerves and it was taking everything she had not to snap at everyone.

"Your turn to buy again? Don't your study buddies ever buy?" asked the young woman behind the counter as she took the money and counted out the change.

"Hmm? Oh, yeah. Actually, one of the girls is paying for this round. I just happened to get elected to go and get them." Lied Willow with a shrug. The women shook her head and handed Willow the change, as well as push the coffee tray forward.

"The two with the ice cubes is marked on the lids."

"Thanks." And she grabbed the coffees and made her way out the door. Down the street a ways, she sat down on a bench, removed the lid off one of the paper cups and quickly gulped it back. Giving herself a couple minutes, she then removed the lid of the second cup and did the same, thankful for the ice cubes that allowed her to drink the coffee the way she did.

She sat back and tried to let herself relax a little as she watched people walking along the streets, totally oblivious to the real dangers around every corner. She should know; it wasn't that long ago she was the one to be afraid of. She wondered how an entire town wouldn't see the things that go on, how they could be so blind as to not to notice.

Then she realized, she'd lived here for fifteen years before she discovered that what goes bump in the night really does go bump; or, more like `thud', with a little ignored screaming thrown into the mix. Yeah, it's truly amazing what you can make yourself believe or ignore if you try hard enough.

She decided it was time to pick herself up and get home; `Sun will be setting soon.' She thought as she popped the top on her third coffee, stood up and walked down the street sipping away, hoping it wouldn't be too long before the sugar and caffeine took effect. This had become her new routine, drinking as much coffee as she could, and eating chocolate. It was becoming a necessity lately.

Although, she was beginning to wonder if it was helping at all. For this past week, everyone seemed to be paying closer attention to her. No one said anything to her, but maybe they were catching on that something wasn't right, and that she was trying to hide it. When she returned to Sunnydale two weeks ago, she knew it would take a while for all of them to adjust to her again. And just when things seemed to be getting back on track, out of the blue it started.

She almost never had any time to herself anymore; there was always someone there with her. Whether it was Xander or Buffy, it didn't matter. Giles was staying with her at her parent's house, so that couldn't exactly be helped; but still. If it weren't for sneaking out to get coffee at the `Pump', she'd never have any peace.

It was hard keeping up the façade that nothing was wrong; no blackouts, and back to her energetic self. But for how much longer she could keep this lie going, she didn't know. But she did know that she couldn't put it off too much longer; soon she'll have to tell them what's happening to her-not that she even understood it herself yet.

* * * *

Willow walked in the front door and could smell an inviting aroma wafting in from the kitchen. Giles had heard the door shut and peeked his head around the doorframe.

"Ahhh, your back." He said.

"Hi, Rupert." She said and sniffed. "You cooked dinner again." And with that, Giles noticed she didn't exactly sound all that enthused about it.

"Uh, yes I did. I hope your hungry." He replied, wondering how to handle this. "Is there something wrong?"

"I-it's just that, well you've cooked all week and I was hoping to cook for you. You know, more than just the once. I guess I'm being a little petty, aren't I?"

"Oh, I see." He commented. "I-I didn't realize that you felt that way. I'm sorry, luv. It's just that it has been so nice to prepare a meal for someone else after so many years of having no one to do this for but me. I guess I've gotten a little too carried away." He finished, looking to the floor.

"Oh, Rupert. I'm so sorry. I didn't really think about it that way." She said, "That's so sweet of you, really!" she said, putting him at ease. Her reward was a bright smile that threatened to make her knees to go weak. She walked over to him and gave him a huge hug and a kiss on the cheek.

"Here, you sit while I finish with dinner." He said, as he pulled away and gestured to a chair for her to sit, and made his way back to the oven. "So, where did you get to today?"

"No where special. Just took a walk around, then went to the coffee shop."

"Well, I must say, you had picked a rather nice day for it. Not too hot, nor too cold."

"How are the plans coming along with the Magic Box?"

"Wonderful! Anya's quite excited about it. We were finally able to agree on a set of blue prints that we were shown, and the rebuilding will begin next week."

"That sounds exciting! How long will it take to do?"

"Well, the main part of the structure isn't really damaged, but we are going to do a little expansion on it. So the back room where Buffy normally trained will be torn down, allowing for a larger room to replace it, and we'll be adding a second storey to it as well. The room will be used for training-as always, but the room above will be used more as an office. Purchasing products and filing and what-have-you."

"Wow! I can't wait to see how it turns out." She said with enthusiasm.

"I would show you the blue prints, but Anya wanted to keep them for herself. She's anxious to get started as soon as possible. I must say, she was quite unhappy that they would not start construction tomorrow."

"Knowing Anya, she'll sleep with it under her pillow." Both couldn't help laughing at Willow's comment as Giles brought over two plates and placed them on the table.

"I hope you like pot roast?" he asked.

"Mmmm, smells great!" she said as she cut a small piece of meat and placed it in her mouth. "And it tastes even better than it smells." But as she chewed a sharp pain hit her temple causing her to flinch slightly and close her eyes.

"Willow, are you alright?"

"No, no. I'm fine, just a headache." She said as she looked up, but a movement outside the window caught her attention.

"Would you like me to get you some aspirin?"

"Yes, would you please?" she smiled at him thankfully as he got up from the table.

"I shant be more than a minute, luv." He said, but once he left the room, the red head got up from the table and quickly made her way to the door and stepped out.

"I told you morons to be more discreet! If you can't hide better than this, then you deserve to be caught and killed! Or maybe I should just do it myself!" she hissed, and the two robed figures backed away and hid in the bushes. "Good help is so hard to find these days." She said to herself and went back to the table and sat down again.

"Here you are." He said as he handed her the tablets. "Would you like some water to wash those down with?"

"You know, I'm actually feeling much better." She said, as her blue-flecked eyes scanned his form appreciatively. "I'm also not all that hungry anymore," and with that, she gave him a seductive smile, "for food that is."

She stood slowly and pressed her body against Giles, and wrapped her arms around him, with one hand finding its way to his head and tangling its fingers in his hair. The red head pulled his head to hers and kissed him hungrily, eliciting no struggle from Giles at first. But the older man regained his senses quickly and gently pushed her back, looking into her eyes and drawing his brows together slightly.

"Willow? Your eyes."

"Yeah, what about them?" she said impatiently.

"I've never noticed the blue flecks in them before. Have they always been like that?"

"I guess it just depends on what kind of mood I'm in." she snickered, "Now, where were we?" and she leaned in to kiss him again, but he held her back. "Now what?"

"You do realize that this will change things." It was a statement, and he couldn't help notice the astonishment in her eyes.

"You mean we…" But she didn't finish the question. `Damn!' she thought, `They haven't even bedded each other yet! SHIT!' "Yes, I realize this will change things for us, but I'm ready for that. Change is a good thing, if it brings us closer together." She said, and seeing the acceptance in the man's face she knew she said the right thing. 'Yeah, I'm good.'

Giles took her hand in his and led them upstairs to his room, but as he turned to shut the door, he didn't notice the sinister smile that came to the young woman's lips.


Chapter thirteen

She lay there quite contentedly for some time after the older man fell asleep, pondering the feelings she was now experiencing. New feelings. She turned her head to gaze upon the man lying beside her as he softly snored. He truly is an attractive man; she could have done much worse. His body was well toned for a man of his age, and his face had a slight ruggedness about it, even in slumber.

She carefully removed herself from the bed and quietly walked to the door, stopping a moment to take another look at him before she left the room and closed the door.

* * * * *

The steam rose and filled the bathroom from the heat of the water spraying from the showerhead. It was really quite invigorating. She stood with her hands flat against the wall with her head bowed, allowing the spray to hit the back of her head and run off. Never before has she felt this way about anyone, and it was confusing.

The young woman was used to taking what she wanted-when she wanted. But this man gave himself to her willingly. She had initiated a frantic pace, taking possession of his lips and trying to tear his clothing off, but he would not have it.

Instead, he stopped her. When she opened her mouth to protest he quickly placed a finger on her lips to silence her and said;

"Please. Just let me love you." With that, he ran his finger from her lips over her cheek in a soft, tender caress. Drawing her close to him, he placed his lips upon hers and softly kissed her. Her lips parted, letting his tongue in to explore, eliciting a soft moan from the red head.

She allowed Giles to take the lead, to be the master of her body as his hands slid down her back until they found the hem of her shirt. He then took hold of it and slid it up as she raised her arms, letting him remove it and dropping it to the floor. The kiss stopped and she opened her eyes, but she could form no words in her throat as his gaze held her spellbound.

Giles lowered his eyes to her breasts, and marveled at their perfection as he took one of the small globes into his hand and began to rub it, causing the nipple to press itself against the offending material that was housing it.

He watched as her eyes glazed over and close at his touch, and moved the material away to let his fingers touch her without obstructions. He brought his head down and took the nipple in his mouth and began to suckle. The red head dropped her head back and moaned as waves of pleasure came over her.

His tongue teased, his teeth nipped softly as he undid the bra and pulled it off her shoulders, letting it fall uncaring to the floor. He then pulled back and removed his own shirt as she watched, marveling at his muscular chest, the sandy coloured hair that covered it. She couldn't help herself and reached out to run her fingers through the hair, to feel the softness of it.

Giles leaned in and kissed her as he scooped her up in his arms and walked to the bed, gently laying her down on her back. He parted from her once again as he undid her pants and pulled them off, as well as her panties. He then shed himself of his offending clothes and her eyes widened at the whole sight of him.

He was beautiful, and as she looked into his eyes, she could see the promise of wondrous things to come. He moved towards her, and before she knew it, he was above her-covering her with his body. She could feel his arousal as it lay against her, teasing her; and all she knew at that moment was that she wanted more-wanted him.

He moved so that he lay beside her, letting his hand have the freedom to move over her entire body. They caressed every inch of her, exploring, savoring, and memorizing the way she felt. Then his fingers found the tuft of hair between her thighs, and gently parted her legs.

She was lost in the sensations he made her feel. She hadn't even realized that he had parted her legs until his fingers were upon her, the palm of his rough hand rubbing against her. He then slipped a finger inside of her and she began to move uncontrollably, moving her hips to match each stroke.

As his fingers continued they're ministrations, he kissed her neck and made his way up to the side of her face and then to hear ear.

"You are truly magnificent." He whispered to her.

While his finger worked its magic, his thumb began to rub her nubbin, and he pulled his head away to watch the ecstasy in her face as he took her over the edge. But as her body shuddered, he could take no more and moved to position himself atop her. This was the moment he had waited so long for; to be one with her.

He leaned down and kisses her mouth hungrily and slowly sank into her, a moan escaping his mouth as her warmth surrounded him. He moved soft and slowly at first, remembering that this is the first time her body has felt a man inside in years.

But it didn't take long for her to adjust to his size and he found he was drowning in the sounds of her pleasure. His strokes became quicker and harder, but the more sounds she made, the more excited he got. He was close and he knew it, and the pressure was building.

He sped up the motions, going at a frantic pace as she called out.

"Ooooh, GILES!"

He blinked, but was too close; he couldn't stop as he poured his essence into her. It seemed like an eternity before they're bodies ceased it's shuddering, and Giles looked into the face of the woman below him, the woman he loved.

She looked back at him with such tenderness, he smiled and rolled off, pulling her into his arms and cradled her. She rest her head on his chest and sighed contentedly as he stroked her hair.

It was the first time they had been intimate with each other, she was allowed to slip and call him Giles. `After all, she's only been calling me Rupert for a week.' He thought as he drifted off to sleep.

* * * * * *

She stood under the hot spray of the water falling from above, as anger began to fill her.

"It wasn't me, it was her! It was her!" And she took the facecloth and began to roughly scrub her skin, trying to wash away any evidence that he'd even touched her. "How could he do this to me? That son of a bitch. How could he make me feel?"

She scrubbed until her skin was raw, much like her emotions, then shut off the water and dried herself with a towel. She then went to `her' room and found a pair of boxers and matching top and put them on, and plopped down onto the bed.

She went over the events in her mind until she felt something sliding down her cheek. She brought her hand up and touched it, but when she brought her hand down to look at; it was wet. "Bastard." She said as she lay down on her side, drawing her legs up to her chest in the fetal position.

Yes, she was mad, furious at the man she had lain with; but she was madder at herself for feeling the way she did. She had allowed herself to care. An emotion she couldn't afford to have.


Chapter fourteen

Willow awoke to the suns rays shining in through her bedroom window, but as she looked around sleepily, she desperately tried to remember how and when she got there. She looked down at herself and noticed that she wore pajamas; something else she didn't remember changing into.

She rose from the bed, noticing that her muscles ached a little, and went to the bathroom to relieve herself and brush her teeth. Once finished, she left the room and went downstairs and saw that the dinner from last night still sat on the table-untouched.

She sighed and went to the counter and began brewing a fresh pot of coffee, and put the kettle on for tea. She then went to work clearing the table, wondering if she should just throw the meal out in the garbage. For the time being, she put all the food into a large bowl, then took the kettle off the stove as she heard it's high pitched whistle.

Grabbing a cup for the cupboard, she poured the dark liquid into it and added a fair amount of milk to cool it off a little faster. Willow took a large gulp of coffee, and then took the cup with her back up to her room to drink while she changed.

She had absolutely no memories of the previous night; nothing to tell her what happened. The last thing she remembered was sitting down at the table and taking a bite of the pot roast Giles had set in front of her. She hadn't even finished chewing; when a stabbing pain hit her in the head-then all went black.


"This makes twice that it's happened while with a Scooby." She said to herself. "I can't keep this quiet much longer."

Willow headed down the stairs with cup in hand, only to see Giles in the kitchen already, still in his bathrobe.

"Ahhh, Willow. There you are."

"Morning, Rupert."

"I see you have the coffee already brewed this morning. Would you like a cup, or would you prefer tea?" he asked as he walked over to her and gave her a soft kiss.

"Coffee would be great, thanks."

"I must say I missed you this morning. Were you up very long?"

"Not very. I came down and started the coffee and cleared the table, then went and got dressed." She said, a little confused. `Missed me?'

"Yes, I suppose the table should have been cleared last night, but…" he let the sentence trail off as a shy smile came to his lips.

"No, it's okay. I didn't mind." She said, but Giles couldn't help notice the slightly distant look in her eyes.

"Willow, luv? D-did I displease you in some way last night?" he asked, concerned.

"No! No, everything is fine-really." She replied quickly as an idea came to her. She held up her coffee cup, "Sorry, just not quite awake enough for coherent thoughts yet." She said sheepishly, and saw the relief flood the older man at her words. `Displease me? About what?' she wondered.

"Ah, yes. Quite understandable." He said, and poured some coffee into her cup.

"What do you have planned for today?"

"For starters, Anya and I will be cleaning out the store, to prepare for the construction next week."

"Anya will probably be jumping up and down in her excitement."

"Yes. I foresee a rather exhausting week ahead of me." He chuckled, "And what about you?"

"If I know Xander, he'll be over sometime today."

"I sense a lack of enthusiasm on your part. I take it that you do not wish to see him?"

"Its not that really. It's just that I see him almost everyday. I have to sneak out of the house just to have some time to myself; you know?"

"You know Xander. He's just worried about you. After all, you have only been back for just over two weeks. Your forgetting, for those few months that you and I were in England, he lost his best friend. In his own way, he is just trying to make up for lost time; couple that with the fact that he has to adjust to our relationship. He's coping with the changes the best way he can."

"I suppose your right. I didn't think to look at it that way." She said, lowering her eyes.

"Sometimes we all go through periods where we don't see the answers to our questions, even though they are right in front of us. It happens to the best of us."

"Does it happen to you?"

"Of course. I wouldn't be human otherwise." He smiled and gave her a hug. "I afraid I must get showered and changed. I told Anya that I would be at the store in forty-five minutes." He kissed the top of her head. "I'll be down shortly, luv." And he left.

Willow sat there, slowly trying to go over the conversation in her mind.

`Missed me? Displease me? What's all that about?' she wondered, `What on earth happened last night!' He frustration was building the longer she thought about it, when the phone ringing brought her back to the present. Willow went to the phone and picked it up.


"Hey there, Willster!"

"Hi, Xander."

"How's my bested bud? You got any plans today?"

"Nope, none that I can think of."

"Great! `Cause my schedule is free and clear! See you in an hour." He said and hung up. Willow sighed and hung up the phone, then went back to her coffee and gulped it back before pouring herself another.

"Give me strength." She said as she looked up.

Tbc in chapter fifteen of Admissions of Guilt.


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