Fic: Triangle part 3/?
Rating: NC-17 eventually


4 Merlots and a Dinner Later:

Buffy swallowed down the last swig of her wine and cast a disappointed glance within the empty glass. “Then he has the balls to order me off on this baby sitting op. I mean, come on, he sends me in when a fricken Girl Scout could escort you home.”

“Greatly preferable to your violent tendencies and I love those coconut, caramel confections they guilt you into outside of shops, as well.” Ethan finished of his scotch and considered ordering another.

“The mint ones are the best!”

“The peanut butter variety are also quite addictive.”

“You should try the ice cream.” Buffy was lost within her daydream for a moment.

“On that note, I believe our desserts have arrived.” The server placed them upon the table.

“Might we trouble you for a couple of coffees, my good man?” The server nodded and hurried off to comply.

“Are you cutting me off, Ethan?” Buffy asked with a disapproving pout.

“Only in an attempt to spare you the consequences, Buffy. And in turn, spare me the consequences of those consequences, of course. You'll thank me in the morning.” It didn't slip past him that he'd graduated to first name status.

“Don't hold your breath.” Buffy eyed Ethan's chocolate mousse enviously. “I knew I should have ordered that one.”

“What are you on about? Yours looks bloody delightful.”

“Yeah, it really does. I haven't had cappuccino cheesecake in ages.” She triumphantly spooned a mouthful and savored it.

Ethan slid his dessert across the table, inviting her to a sample. She eagerly jumped at the chance. “So, seeing as how you managed through unscathed, shall we try for an encore tomorrow evening?”

“Uh, what?” Buffy was obviously more interested in the flavor of his mousse.

“Dinner… tomorrow.” Ethan watched her considered her options. He was sure the desserts were winning her over to the concept.

“I suppose I should keep an eye on those Sorry Apostles guys.”

“That would be the Apostles of Sarys. Don't bother on their account. That bit was a ruse to get you to join me.”

Buffy stared narrowly at him from over his half eaten mousse of which she was quickly devouring. “But what about the talisman?”

“A souvenir I picked up while in the French Quarter.”

“Why would you do that?”

“Because I'd be extremely bored otherwise and it seemed like an interesting way to pass the time.”

“With me stealing your dessert and smashing your face in?”

“I'd rather hoped for less of the latter.” He smirked. “So, are we on for tomorrow?”

Buffy finished off the mousse and tucked the remainder of her cheesecake within her napkin. She stood up, gathered up the napkin and circled around the table to Ethan where she planted a perfectly aimed jab straight at his nose and continued on her way, not bothering to even slow in her pace.

“I'll take that as a ‘yes', shall I?” He called after her, applying pressure to his already swelling nose.


Day 3:

Buffy had become elusive the following day, not that he sought her out exactly. But Ethan found himself wondering what curses she willed upon him for his rather innocent deception or if she'd taken to a no harm, no foul policy of late. He was oddly pleased to happen upon her in the late afternoon. Unfortunately she appeared as sociable as a hemophiliac in a vamp nest.

"Now this simply won't due. A pretty young lady sitting alone at a bar, drowning her sorrows in cheap…erm, what exactly are you drowning in, here?" He took the glass from her hand and gave it an investigative whiff, returning it perfectly within her still cupped hand. "I suspect tequila so it can't be all that bad, or should I say 'good' for you. What's happened, then?" Ethan offered an irritating smile as he slipped upon the stool beside her.

"I'm in no mood for you." She didn't bother a look in his direction.

"Not at all surprised. Tell me and perhaps your luck will change and I'll leave you alone."

"I was informed that my cabin has a leak in it and not the charming faucet trickle, either. More like Niagara minus the overrated honeymoon. It's condemned until further notice."

"You must be joking." With a fleeting glance, he realized she wasn't. "Oh, that's right, you were born without the benefit of a sense of humor. Must have slipped my mind."

"Go away," she grumbled.

"I hope the ship is sound otherwise. Hate to see the Council's generosity go to waste." He couldn't help himself. "So that would make you homeless, then, wouldn't it? They've always said wishes can come true." He gestured to get the bartenders attention.

"Just leave me alone."

"Where are my manners? Would you care for something? There's an interesting concoction entitled Titanic that's simply to die for. Seems rather appropriate, don't you think?"

"Think I'll go for a Bloody Sorcerer, Bloody Mary's less masculine cousin."

"Was that a barb? Could it be the budding of a sense of humor after all?" Ethan chuckled as the elderly bartender approached. "Might as well keep them coming, mate. I think it's going to be a long cruise. Scotch on the rocks for me and how about a Vampire for the lady."

"What makes you think I want that?"

He cocked his head aside and offered a knowing glance.

"One word and you're going overboard."

He smirked. "Clever irony aside, you'll like it. Trust me."

"Oh, well, when you say it like… NO. Nuh-uh. Never!"

Ethan nodded at the uncertain bartender, sending him off to fill the order.

"Then bugger the bit about trusting me and give the drink a chance. It's rather like you, tart and a bit abrasive but with a sweet aftertaste that can't be denied."

"Whatever, as long as it gets me numb."

"That's the spirit."

"That's the idea, spirited away by spirits."

"If it's not too meddlesome of me, might I inquire as to how you're funding the open bar of your own private wake?"

"With this." She slapped a credit card to the counter and Ethan couldn't help but smile.

"I wondered where that'd gotten off too. Well done." His hand drifted over to claim the card, blanketing Buffy's in doing so. She flinched noticeably and pulled away, blushing.

"I figured you'd be mad."

"Not particularly."

"Darn. I was really hoping to punch you again."

"Anger is a waste of emotion. I don't get mad, Buffy. I get even."

"And how are you going to get even with me?"

Ethan smirked and raised a brow intriguingly. "I'm sure I'll conjure up a suitable punishment at dinner."

“I don't think I'm up for it.” Her long expression and slumped body was more than a little depressing. “I'm minus a room and my patience and looking at a reservation for one in a broom closet at this point.”

“I won't take no for an answer. Besides, there are still six other desserts you've yet to commandeer from me.” He considered her predicament for a moment. “I propose this, temporary accommodations in my stateroom, at least until they find you a suitable replacement.”

“Sharing a room with you is about as high on my list of things not to do as…nope, it's at the top.”

“It's not as if we'd be sharing the bed. The room is quite spacious, more than enough to lodge us both comfortably.”

“Okay, spill it, Rayne. Why are you doing this?”

“Rupert.”

“Rupert what?”

“If you must know, Rupert practically begged me to get along with you. He had little to no faith in you showing restraint in our reunion so he put it upon me to keep things civil.”

“Giles asked you to be nice to me?”

“That about sums it up, yes.”

“He trusted you to be the nice one and thought I would…”

“…Beat me within an inch of my life at every turn. Judging by my nose and jaw, his assumptions are spot on.” Ethan could see the anger welling within her. “If it lessens the sting, he offered me a bonus of sorts to mend our relationship to an amiable partnership.”

“A bonus? He bribed you to get along with me?”

“That isn't better, is it? Kind of shady of him, actually.”

Buffy was fuming. “I can't believe him!”

“Regardless of Rupert, I'd hoped to bury the hatchet, so to speak. I intend to make this Council appointment work, Buffy. For a man of my… shall we say colorful timber, I've assembled an impressive trail of enemies, enough so to make any locale a dicey visit. Working as a consultant for the Council just might keep me alive these days. So I have a physical as well as financial benefit in starting over with you.”

“I can't believe he'd trust you over me.”

“Then show him the error of his ways. Take me up on my offer.”

“How much of a bonus?” Buffy stared narrowly at him. It was obvious she was plotting something.

Ethan smiled. “Come to dinner and it's yours.”


part 4...