The Watcher that Never Was part 7/10

He'd searched the expected haunts, still no sign of Buffy. Ripper grudgingly tossed his motorcycle keys to the floor and took off his jacket, draping it across the bed. Looked like he was getting the night off, unwillingly. Or perhaps the Watcher managed to scare the Slayer away from another visit. At any rate, Ripper would go through with his original plan and give her what she needed, what he had to give her.

The air grew dense and the sorcerer paused to take in the strange atmosphere. After a moment of uneasiness, he stepped to the window and peered out. Nothing seemed amiss yet he couldn't shake the peculiar feeling. He slid open the windowpane and filled his lungs with the night air. Dropping his head in humbled satisfaction, he stretched out his arm and offered his hand to the darkness.

"Come in, he said in a low drawl. He curled his fingers, coaxing the shadows to reveal their secrets.

"Please." He motioned again, urging his concealed observer to take his hand. After a second, a cautious hand slipped into his and he guided it to the window. He helped the stealthy Slayer into the room and slid the window closed as she entered further. After casually lighting a cigarette, he turned to face her. She stood guardedly across the room from him, as if trying to keep her distance.

She was so beautiful. He hadn't realized just how raw she was, a rough cut gem glistening defiantly in the dismal setting of the second rate slum room. But there was heaviness in her eyes, weighted by doubt and he didn't like it.

"What's wrong?" Buffy's body twitched at his tone and he knew she was still uncertain about him.

"I know who you are," she responded faintly. "I mean... I know who you could have been... *what* you could have been."

Buffy moved warily to the bed as she kept her cautionary gaze focused on him. She took a seat on the slumping mattress, finally letting her eyes fall to the torn up carpet. The nervous churning of her stomach reminded her of how foolish she was being. Why did she come to him? Why was she so drawn to this dangerous figure?

"Your Watcher told you?" He leaned back, sitting against the windowsill as he deeply inhaled the freshly drawn smoke.

"He did." Buffy glanced up to catch Ripper's reaction. There was none, only a calm and relaxed manner as he smoked his cigarette, piercing through her with those stunningly emerald eyes. "He knows I've seen you. He's worried."

"He needn't be. I intend no harm."

"Not about that."

"Then what concerns him? What the Council will do when they find out he's lost the loyalty of his Slayer?"

"He hasn't lost my loyalty," Buffy said defensively.

"Hasn't he? Then why are you here?" Ripper raised a curious brow.

"Why are *you* here?" Buffy countered.

"You're changing the subject." He grinned cagily.

"Yes, I am. Why are you following me, protecting me?" She stood up and took a bold step towards Ripper, determined to overcome her anxiety. She wasn't going to give up until she had her answer.

After a moment of silent contemplation, Ripper spoke softly, "I have to." He turned away from her probing glare, fixing his eyes on a crack in the plaster of a nearby wall.

Buffy saw his uneasiness and took another step. "Why?"

"It's what I'm supposed to do... what I was destined to do." He could see her footsteps from the corner of his eye and felt his heart race with her advance.

"I don't need a Watcher, I have one, a great one." Another step. "But you know that. So why are you here?"

He looked up at the gradually approaching Slayer and was speechless. Her stance emanated a certain conviction that unsettled him. She no longer displayed the uncertain and timid features of the young lady who had entered his room; now she was the Slayer he recognized and it weakened him.

'Don't come any closer,' his mind begged of her as his body responded to her presence. He pulled out another cigarette and lit it with the remains of his spent one, flicking the old one to the floor. Buffy stepped on the smoldering butt and twisted it under the sole of her boot. She closed the space between them, stopping once her shoe touched the inside edge of his boot, focusing on his eyes with an indecipherable gaze. A pulse of energy developed through his leg and into his gut as the sweetly scent of vanilla and rose awakened his senses. The audacious Slayer removed the cigarette from his lips and dropped it to the floor, stepping further between his legs to stomp it out, brushing her thigh to his with the deed.

"You should stop smoking these... you'll end up dying in an iron lung or something." The taunt was insignificant; she just needed to fill the void of silence so she could make her final decision on what to do next.

Ripper gingerly exhaled the remainder of smoke into her face, inciting her to continue her advance though he knew what would come of it. "It could never happen."

She leaned in close, smelling the musk of his arousal. "How can you be so sure?"

He gazed into her questioning eyes and smiled. " ‘Cause I die in your arms."

Before her mind had time to absorb his words, Buffy's body reacted. She seized his mouth with hers; tasting his lips with hurried passion as if forbidden fruit she was sneaking. Perhaps they were, perhaps her actions sent them spiraling towards doom, but she didn't care. She had to experience this dangerous man.

'You'll be the death of me,' he thought, releasing a soft sigh of breath. The satin touch of her lips embracing his made his heart flutter in tortured delight. She'd done it, she'd taken the final step and he didn't know what to do. Every cell cried for satisfaction, screamed for him to ravish her but his mind was uncertain.

Buffy's heart pounded in her chest as she eagerly waited for Ripper to participate, hoping she hadn't misinterpreted his feelings. She felt an unsteady finger trace along her hip and knew he was caving. With an exploring hand, Buffy tickled a fingertip along his neck as she pressed her lips to his again. After a tantalizing nibble of his bottom lip, she felt him give in to her, the pressure of his tongue forcing through her teeth, determined to meet hers.

'God yes,' she thought and brought a trembling hand to his face, lightly dusting her fingertips along his cheek as she let him feast on her, kissing her at a fevered tempo that blurred her mind. The only thought she could decipher in the fury of the moment was how desperately she wanted to feel him. She longed to strip him bare of his air of mystery and see him for what his soul hid.

Her body bowed forward between his parted legs, her upper thigh pressing firm against his groin. He cried out at the brazen contact, his hands instinctively jerking up to clutch her thighs to spanking them hard against his erection. His fingers clawed at her, begging for more, making Buffy moan with every pulse of his arousal sheathed beneath the protective layer of black leather.

It wasn't enough to taste his mouth; she needed to feel his flesh heating hers, pumping hers. With urgent fingers, she unbuckled his belt and unbuttoned his pants. Buffy glimpsed the dark forest of curls beneath the leather; he wasn't wearing anything under there and it made her moist just thinking about it.

She was in complete control of him, ruling his every motion. He held his breath as her fingers teased along his buttons, working to free his pounding member. Breathlessly tugging at her sweat pants, he lowered the fabric to unveil her delicate lace panties. It made him wince; under the defenses of this deadly weapon lay an exquisite woman wanting desperately to be touched. And he couldn't refuse her, no matter the cost.

Buffy kicked her sweat pants aside, trailing a curious finger along his flesh to part the seam as she unzipped his pants. She watched his aching eyes as she dipped her fingers within the heated leather. With one brisk movement, she released his stiff cock from the confines of his pants and rocked hungrily into his glistening flesh with her lace-shielded core. His breath screamed into her neck as she grinded her moisten curves against him.

The Slayer and unlikely Watcher devoured every sensation offered to them, rubbing and pressing flesh with wild abandon. Ripper's grasping hands cupped her ass as he stood, lifting her slight frame from the floor and directed her to part her legs for him. She eagerly followed his nonverbal cues, wrapping her legs around his waist as he held her with his powerful arms. Gripping his neck, she lifted herself long enough to bury her fingers between them to gather her panties aside, inviting him further.

Ripper gazed into her eyes as he readied himself, resting the tip of his cock at her moist folds. He waited, needing her final blessing to invade her. She mouthed a silent 'Please' and in a single vigorous upward thrust, they were as one. Fervent moans escaped their lips as their muscles tensed with the union. With neither person able to restrain their physical response to the other, the improbable couple paused, panting and sweating as their eyes met in mutual enthrallment.

"I'm yours," he whispered. He withdrew from her wet embrace to sink within, drawing out a groan from her as he delved deeper. Buffy arched back at his thrust, her muscles spasmed under his influence. It was pure pleasure like she'd never known. She craved more, needed more as she bucked against his waist, driving him to pierce her again and again.

Ripper moaned with every thump, feeling his straining member choking within her pulsing quim. She was exhilarating. Selfish satisfaction overcame him as Buffy cried out for more. He would give her all he had until there was nothing left to give. He would claim her as his own; earn her loyalty with every thrust. She was finally his Slayer.

His body arched at her command, longing to hear her whimper as he penetrated her. With every plunge, he felt his spirit seep into her and it was miraculous. For once, his life wasn't a curse cast upon him; it was a gift.

Ripper fell back onto the bed and Buffy wrenched from the rapid motion, bringing her nearer to her climax than she could resist. She needed him hard and fast, her hips rocking powerfully as he pumped into her.

He could sense her urgency and drove upward as she moaned her delight. In an instant of crazed desire, their bodies stiffened. Buffy could feel her orgasm take her, tensing muscles around him as he spilled within. She wanted to drain him of every ounce he had, then taste more until he begged her to stop.

She continued to grind, the rhythm echoing in her mind, as their bodies slowed to rest. Ripper panted uneven breaths, tugging Buffy's shirt up to savor her breast as she sank into his eager mouth. Playfully nipping at her, he rocked her along his waning erection, not ready to give up the feeling of being sheltered within her.

"You're miraculous." Ripper breathed against her chest, kissing along her glistening flesh as Buffy curled her fingers through his hair.

"That's my line." She smiled and pulled back enough to look at him. He peeked up with a contented smile. "How'd you do that?"

"What?" He licked her nipple and nestled it as it hardened against his prickly stubble.

"How'd you make me trust you?" She sat up and gazed down at his smiling face.

"You don't trust me."

"You're right." Buffy grinned shyly. "So, are you going to stop robbing banks or what?"

Ripper's smile faded and he looked away uneasily. He carefully lifted her from him, unlocked their joined flesh and worked his body out from under her. Buffy watched him curiously as he pulled off his shirt and wiped himself off then tucked himself back within his leather pants and carefully zipped up.

"Eww! We're going to have to buy you a new wardrobe at this rate."

He couldn't help but smile in response. He rolled onto his side and stared into her warm eyes. With a gentle motion, he dipped his hand down between her legs and pressed the shirt to her moisture. The activity was serving two purposes, wiping away the mess they'd made and diverting Buffy's attention away from her question. It was working and she gasped at this touch. Ripper grinned and leaned in for a kiss. A hand stopped his ministrations and he reluctantly pulled back.

"No fair! You didn't answer my question," Buffy challenged. "You're stopping the robberies, right?"

He fell back, discarded the shirt to the floor and covered his eyes with his forearm. "I plan to," he mumbled, already feeling sleep coming on hard. "I have to right some misdeeds." His voice trailed off and Buffy shifted, resting her head on his rising chest.

"Good," Buffy said confidently. "My mom would kill me if I brought home a felon!" The uncomfortable thought made Ripper want to wince. "So kidding."

His arm dropped to his side and he glanced down at her with a troubled expression.

"Buffy... I..."

"We have a lot of catching up to do. I have to fill you in on the local happenings and show you around all the Hellmouth hot spots. You're going to need a better place to stay."

Ripper sighed, knowing full well this was going to happen and cursing himself for allowing it to progress. But he couldn't tell her the truth. He couldn't hurt her, not after having given herself to him. How he wished he could give her what she wanted, but it wasn't his to give. Besides, fate had another plan for him. "Making up for lost time?"

"Exactly." Buffy looked into his heavy lidded eyes and smiled. "You’re tired. Sleep, we can talk in the morning."

Morning after...

Somehow the blindingly sunny streets of Sunnydale seemed different to Ripper, someway altered from their previous state. Perhaps it was his overwhelming desire to sing out the praises of the previous nights activities, but he couldn't stop smiling. He could see her beautiful face donning every flowered bush and rippling puddle, her loveliness forever burned into his memory.

Ethan and Faith stared forward in deep contemplation as Ripper drove the van down Main Street. He knew they were nervous, as usual. The jobs never got easier or routine and there was a reason for that. One second of overconfidence could cost someone his or her life. Ethan insisted on going it unarmed and Ripper could appreciate that, he was never one to carry a gun either. But Faith didn't like depending so much on magicks. Though they'd never failed them before, Ripper had his doubts. That's why he'd slipped a semi automatic under his jacket, just in case.

As they were stopped at a traffic light, all three members scanned the outside of the premises the Hometown Bank of Sunnydale.

"No surprises outside," Ethan said with a confident wink to Faith.

"Drive once more around the block. I wanna check out the back before we go in," Faith said, sounding more nervous than usual.

"Butterflies luv?" Ethan asked, covering her fidgeting hand with his, caressing it with the calming motion of his finger.

"A little. I'll get over it. Just got a bad feeling about this one.”

"Perhaps we should call it off?" He suggested.

"No, I need that jewel. It'll be gone by tomorrow," Ripper objected.

"Faith's intuitions are usually dependable, Ripper. Perhaps this isn't meant to be?"

"It has to be. I need that jewel. You said it yourself Ethan, one last job. The time is now." Ripper drove past the bank to circle it again. They couldn't stop now, they all needed this last job for various reasons but Ripper knew his was the most important, the most selfless act he would ever do.

Buffy awoke alone but happy. The slight scent of smoke and sandalwood filled her nose with reminders of the incredible night she'd experienced with Ripper. She still couldn't believe what had happened between them. It was like an exotic dream made real and wild. Buffy had never lost control as she had with him; so free to revel in the pure temptation she'd felt for such an extraordinary person. He was like no other man she'd ever known or ever would, she supposed.

Stretching to rouse her muscles, she kicked the wrinkled and discarded sheets off the edge of the bed. Buffy got up and started to gather her clothes. Ripper had been gone for a while; the aroma of smoke had faded in the room. She wondered where he disappeared to during the daylight hours.

Startlingly loud pounding at the door made Buffy jerk upright.

"Get out! Time's up!" She recognized the clerks voice and struggled to get dressed as she rushed to the door. "Get out or I'll call the cops!" She opened the door and squinted at the bright sun shining down.

"I thought the room was covered?" Buffy griped.

"Bastard asked for his deposit back. Get out!" The clerk shifted nervously on his feet and Buffy noticed he had quite the fresh shiner on his eye. "Had two friends pick him up in a van. Left his bike, though. I should trash it. Fuckin' freak!"

Buffy saw the keys to the Ducati sitting on the floor and picked them up. "Did he leave any messages?"

"Like I'm a secretary now?" The clerk kicked the door open, impatiently glaring at his unwanted guest. "Get out now!"

"Fine, but can I just get dressed first?" Buffy slipped her shoes on and hobbled on one foot out the door. The satisfied clerk slammed the door shut behind her and locked it up.

"Tell that prissy pimp of yours he's lucky he had that gun, else I'd kicked his sorry ass into next week."

"He had a gun?" Buffy froze in her tracks.

"It was the only thing keeping me from tearing his head off. Now get outta here before I call the cops!" The clerk went into another room and slammed the door closed behind him.

'I have to get to Wes and the others,' Buffy thought and glanced apprehensively at the motorcycle.

Willow marked off her completed errands on her mental 'to do' list as she waited in the short line at her local bank branch. She'd managed to accomplish quite a bit considering she was running on only four hours of sleep. Eight hours was the minimum for a completely functional Willow.

Sipping her extremely hot almond latte, Willow looked around the small bank and noticed how empty it seemed; only six customers and five employees including two security guards. It was getting close to noon so the lunch crowd should have been out in full force yet the only bank for a couple of miles was eerily vacant of patrons. With all the recent goings on, she couldn't help considering how the quiet bank would make an easy target for her friendly neighborhood robbers. The image of Ethan heartily laughing at her misinterpretation of his rejection made her smile. She really wanted to see him again.

Masked and ready for action, the trio entered the bank swiftly and Faith got to work on an officer positioned near the vault. She dispatched him with ease and removed his firearm.

"Ladies and gentlemen..."

Willow spun around to see who was addressing the crowd and sighed disheartened at the sight of the recognizable trio of masked robbers. 'I had to think it!'

"I'm sorry to say the bank is now closed," Ethan yelled with a raised hand to get everyone's attention. Ripper cased the outer perimeter of the room, quickly scanning the ceiling and walls while carefully taking a mental note of the various surveillance cameras bolted in each area. Ethan stepped further into the bank and inventoried the faces of the small crowd. His eyes fell on Willow and he winced.

"Wi..." Willow's eyes went wide with panic and she shook her head slightly to prevent him from speaking further. After glancing at Ripper and Faith, who had already notice the familiar redhead, Ethan decided they couldn't stop now. He walked up behind Willow and wrapped a forceful looking arm around her slight neck, trying to make it appear he was accosting her as he dragged her back toward the front doors.

"Pretend to pass out and cover your ears until I say," he whispered. Willow wasn't sure what was going on but assumed he was trying to prevent her from falling victim to the sleep spell so she did her best to make it a good show. Using the soap operas she frequently watched as material, she gasped for breath and clawed frantically at Ethan's restricting arm, flailing her arms wildly and ending with the overly dramatic grand finale of throwing her head back in anguish and slipping through Ethan's arms to the floor. He wanted so badly to applaud her efforts but kept in character.

"Fret not, we don’t intend any harm. After we’ve finished making our withdrawal, we’ll leave you in the good hands of the Sunnydale police department. But in the meantime, we require some involuntary silence." Ethan waved his hand toward Ripper who took position at the back of the bank. Faith leapt up onto the teller counter and took a quick count of the crowd, flashing gloved fingers to communicate ten people to Ethan. Faith covered her ears and began to hum as she paced back and forth on the counter top, watching her sorcerers at work.

"Nighty-night!" Ethan said as he and Ripper concentrated to perform the sleep spell they'd used perfectly on so many occasions. Faith kept her eyes busy scanning the bank patrons as the verses spilled past Ethan and Ripper’s masked lips, chanting in a foreign tongue Faith always found astounding. In total unity, Ripper and Ethan motioned toward the ceiling and the crowd collapsed to the floor, asleep.

Ripper breathed a sigh of relief at the results.

"Now, if you will, Ripper, take care of the cameras, Faith will take watch at the windows and we can get our little business transaction underway," Ethan ordered.

Ripper started at one end of the room and began the next spell, confident that the mixed spirits myth was just that, a myth. The power light on the camera flickered off and he smirked at his success.

Once Ripper had finished working his magic with the cameras, Ethan knelt down to Willow and gently pulled her hands from her ears.

"Alright luv, deed is done." He helped her to her feet and she looked around at the sleeping customers scattered along the bank lobby floor.

"Huh, how does it work? Hearing the words, the incantations?" Willow looked up into Ethan's dark eyes, the only feature visible through the mask.

"That's part of it but it is a bit more complicated than that. Are you alright?" He looked around quickly and then gazed down at Willow's innocent face. He couldn't talk to her through the mask, it wasn't right. As he pulled it up Faith jumped down off the counter and hurried to stop him.

"Not a good idea boss," she warned but he slipped off the hot fabric and ran his gloved fingers through his hair, enjoying the slight breeze of the air-conditioning on his cheeks.

"Cameras are off, customers are out, relax, pet. Draw the shades and flip the open sign, we'll improvise from here on in." He turned his attention back to Willow and grinned awkwardly. "I'm sorry. I never imagined you'd see this."

"I already knew. Why do you think I came over that night?" Willow was both disappointed and excited that he'd hit another bank. She wondered if it made her a bad person to hope Ethan and his friends succeeded.

"I'd hoped it was to learn some spells or perhaps... other distractions." He caressed her hair and saw her brow wrinkle with concerned.

"You shouldn't do this, Ethan," she said, beseeching him to stop with a fretful stare.

"It's already done, luv. Just sit back and enjoy the show." He cupped her chin and softly kissed her lips. Willow watched him strut toward the teller counters, skipping over the sleeping customers as he headed for the vault with Ripper following close behind.

Willow was left alone with Faith who was occupied with keeping watch out the windows so she felt confident she could sneak a quick text message to Wesley and Buffy via her cell phone.

Part 8...