Fic: Watcher’s Keeper
Writer: WickedFox
Notes: Finally... the end.

~~~~~
Part 8: In the Line of Duty
~~~~~

Giles woke to the sound of the door closing softly, an old instinct he’d developed from his Watcher days. Buffy would try to come in quietly to avoid waking him so he adapted to waking with the slightest sound. It came to be a sixth sense, as if he knew when she was near.

Sure enough, he opened his weary eyes to see Buffy moving gingerly as she crept past the couch he had sprawled across in wait for her.

“Are you alright?” Giles sat up and quickly struggled to his feet, causing a look of panic to widen the Slayer’s eyes.

“I didn’t want to wake…” she paused. “Sorry I woke you.”

“Are you okay?” Giles asked again, moving closer with an outstretching a hand.

“Yes… I mean, no… not really.” She smiled meekly. “Unless the definition of okay has been revised to being a total nervous wreck topped with a hearty helping of anxiety attack and a generous sprinkling of eep-age.” She stepped out of range of the consoling hand and headed toward the hall. Giles could see she was soaked to the bone, probably from wandering in the rain for most the night.

“You’re drenched. We should get you out of those wet clothes before you catch your death…”

“Not such a good idea,” she said uneasily, her eyes quickly darting to and away from him, “Seeing as what that led to before.”

Giles relented, uncertain what to make of that; regret and perhaps more than just a little confusion. He could understand completely, battling with his own doubts on what had occurred between them. Their relationship had changed in an instant and now their futures lie at the foreground of a question mark. An awkward place to be, if not hopeful.

“We need to talk…”

“No, we really don’t.” She turned and swiftly began to walk away, surprised as Giles caught her wrist in an gentle yet insistent grip.

“Buffy, we do. This… what happened last night was…”

“A mistake,” she finished, glancing regretfully over her shoulder.

He flinched as if stricken by a ghostly hand across his face and released her.

“I was going to say special,” he sighed, wearing a wounded smirk. Then, as his humor faded, he tucked his disappointment away behind his hand as it combed through his messed hair. “But it seems once more, we’re not on the same page.”

“I’m on that page, Giles. All over that page! I underlined, highlighted and bookmarked that page. It was special… it really, really was.” Her eyes glistened on the verge of tears. “I meant what I said. I do love you, Giles.”

His face softened a little with a faint smile. “Is that so bad a thing?”

“But I *can’t*.”

“And I suppose it makes no difference to know I love…”

She stopped him with a raised hand. “Please don’t say it. It’ll only make this worse.”

“Worse…” Giles got that all too familiar sinking feeling. “I know I’ll regret asking, but make what worse, exactly?”

“Like you didn’t see this coming?” She smiled sadly. “You won. You’re getting your wish. I’ve put in a request for transfer.”

He held back his words of argument for misconstruing his assumed wishes and settled for a curt, “I see.”

“It’s already been approved. After the summit, I’m flying back to the states.” She couldn’t look at him, looking everywhere but at his stony stare. “I’ve already arranged for a replacement.”

Giles bit back his bitterness. “How very… efficient of you.”

“Come on. It’s not like you thought this was a good idea to begin with. And I’m sure me turning into a raging floozy, trampy, ho went a long way in sealing the deal.”

“That’s not at all true and you know it.”

“I messed up, Giles… again!” Buffy wasn’t hearing him, determined to ignore all points to the contrary. “It’s getting to be a bad habit with me when I’m with you.”

“I’d have to agree, present conversation a clear demonstration of that assumption…”

Buffy interrupted him with a submissive gesture, “I know what I’m doing… why I’m doing. It’s for the best.”

“Yours or mine?”

“I’m not going to play the blame game, here. I’m the way guilty party and the gala ends here… ends now.” She spoke firmly, as if she were still trying to make herself believe her resolution. “I wanted to help you, to be here for you. But not like this. I never wanted to …”

“To what?” He urged her sharply, losing patience. “To care?”

“That’s not fair. I’ve always cared, Giles.” Buffy objected, wounded and more than a little defensive. “I never wanted to hurt you. But you were right, I shouldn’t have stayed. You knew this wasn’t going to work. I knew this wasn’t going to work but like always I couldn’t take no for an answer. At least I had the foresight enough to have a fall-back plan.”

“Which entails running away, apparently.”

“I’m not running… okay, maybe I am. But this was never supposed to happen.”

Giles couldn’t contain his frustration any longer, wedging his fists to rest on his hips. “And what would that be, luv? The part where I fell in love with you or the part where you fell in love with me?”

That gave her pause and her eyes shimmered with tears.

“Both,” she whispered.

They stood quiet for a long moment, neither one able or willing to break the heavy silence.

Buffy spoke quietly, pained, “I can’t stay and watch you do this… this work of yours? I can’t send you out to… to endanger you, Giles. I can’t watch someone I love risk life and limb out there.”

“I did.”

“But what if you died under my watch…”

“As you did under mine?”

More silence, stalemate.

“I can’t do this. I can’t love you.”

“You mean you *won’t* love me.” His intense stare burrowed a hole through her, demanding her to see things for what they were.

His face softened, almost to the point of looking worn and somehow aged with the burden of the argument. He continued on with a soft-spoken voice, “You know what’s in my heart, how I feel about you. Regardless of what you’ve brought yourself to believe, I think we both know this has little to do with profession but rather, has everything to do with commitment. I’m not a demon. I’m not a soldier or an Immortal… I’m no longer even a bloody Watcher. You know exactly what I am and who I am. There are no excuses with me, Buffy. It’s come as you are or not at all. If that’s not enough for you, then you’re free to leave.”

Buffy’s mouth crept opened as if to speak then shut with awkward silence. She turned and dragged herself to the bathroom. Before shutting herself away from him as she’d hoped to do with her heart, she said softly, “We’ll leave at seven.”

~~~~~

The room was packed with all walks of life and some not of the living at all. A gathering of demons, zombies, apparitions, and otherworldly representatives mingled amongst themselves amidst the festive atmosphere of a southwestern décor and the scent of spicy ethnic cuisine.

Giles did his best to remain focused on the task at hand but found his eyes again searching her out. Buffy stood along a wall, head slowly turning as she scanned the room, looking much more like a human security camera then the beautiful woman she’d been in their last evening out together. She’d made it a point to dress for business and duty, dark grey suit with the minimalist amount of flare. But what bothered Giles most was that her eyes lay hidden away behind cold, sheltering sunglasses. Though he knew well that they were an important tool of her newly chosen trade, he couldn’t help but wonder if it was to hide her stray glances to him.

Even with the air of professionalism about her, he ached to touch her, to steal away a kiss in the shadows of the hall or whisk her away into an unoccupied side room. But that was the point, wasn’t it? Or at least the point she was determined to stand by as her alibi for leaving him. He cursed himself for having pride enough to deny begging her to reconsider. How hard would it have been to simply say ‘stay’… to say ‘I love you’ and make her feel it with one more promising kiss?

At the very least, he had one unforgettably intimate evening with her.

The dull ache in his chest couldn’t help but make him wonder if one night was just one too many.

~~~~~

“Miss Summers, pleasure to see you again.” Buffy forced a smile at the approaching gentleman.

“Likewise, Sir Crackenfir.” She wished she had the motivation enough to offer more of a greeting but her eyes kept finding Giles through the crowd and the bothersome discovery left her mouth empty of friendly words.

“I see Rupert has taken to mingling solo this evening. This, I assume, is purely a strategic precaution.” The demon raised a curious brow in expectation of an answer.

“Not sure what you mean.”

“It would be a shame to cast you to the shadows when you light up the room as you did the other evening.”

She faked another appreciative smile; he was just trying to be polite. “Thank you for your concern but this is a self-induced sidelining. I’m working.”

“Working? Of course. That explains it.”

“Explains what.”

“What such an accomplished warrior would be doing on the arm of a failed Watcher.”

“Failed?”

“Forgive my impertinence. Rupert is a gentle and thoughtful man and I mean him no disrespect. Had he completely failed, you would not have returned to the land of the living. I simply meant that it was kind of you to charity him with your expertise. After all, you are a warrior while he is but a mouth piece for humanities somewhat unbalanced agenda.”

“It’s not charity.”

“Then the Council must be paying quite the handsome stipend.”

“I’m not here for the pay.”

“So it’s a matter of advancement, then. Quite understandable. But a word for the wise, you could fare far better working for me, my dear.”

Buffy felt herself even more tongue-tied with Crackenfir’s assumptions. “You got it so wrong. It’s not charity or money or advancement.”

“Then what holds you to him?” He cocked his head slightly askew and gave a clever smile, awaiting a response.

Buffy was flustered and glanced sideways at her companion for a long moment before shifting her attentions to watch Giles shake the clawed hand of a feathered, goat demon.

“He put you up to this, didn’t he?” She grumbled.

“I’m here on my own behalf, Miss Summers, I assure you.” Crakenfir smiled easily.

“Nothing holds me to him, actually. A matter of fact, I’m leaving after tonight.”

“That would be most unfortunate.”

“Unfortunate or not, I have to.”

“Might I ask why?”

“You can ask,” she smirked sadly, not ready to admit even the slightest of details.

“Forgive the prying of an old sentimental fool but your heart speaks volumes of what your mouth will not.”

“And what is my nosy heart saying?” She grumbled, growing more tired with the conversation and the inquisitive demon.

“One would have to be blind not to see the truth that you care more for him than a person in your station should dare to.”

Finally, someone gets it! “Then my heart would be absolutely right,” She said with satisfaction.

“No, Miss Summers, that is what your mind believes, the lonely mind of a Slayer focused on self preservation and duty. It’s your heart that bears consideration, now… the heart of a woman.” His gaze moved to Giles, drawing hers there with it. “And the soul of the man that longs to capture it.”

~~~~~~~

“How goes the good fight, Rupert?” Roman asked as he slapped a friendly hand to the former Watcher’s shoulder.

“Quiet well, Roman. How are things at the Council?” Giles responded with distraction, noticing how all the demon acquaintances seemed to suddenly disperse with the Council member’s appearance.

“As well as can be expected. Things are rather tight at present,” Roman gestured an inviting wave to a passing N’Gravic which quickly moved on, ignoring the pleasantry. “We could really do with the sound voice of experience. Too bad you’re busying yourself in the political stew these days.” He smiled teasingly. “Speaking of which, how does that lovely partner in crime of yours. I see Buffy has chosen to make herself scarce tonight.”

Giles was relieved with the interruption when a voice announced, “Ladies and gentleman… if you will…”

~~~~~~~

With a raised voice, a short, stout, multi-armed shape-shifting demon lured everyone’s attentions to him. The crowd hushed with the announcement and followed the request to assemble. The various representatives took their seats at the circular wooden table centered in the hall. Giles waited until everyone was seated before taking his own. He directed the attendees to refer to the documents presented before them and began to go over the details contained within. It was all so formulaic, so dry and dull, like watching the public access channel when the town meeting is broadcast. And try as she might to be attentive, Buffy quickly found her mind wandering.

Images twisted the concentration of her mind, refusing to remain buried. A sensual motion of hands along feverish skin, passionate caresses tickling slick crevasses. The sizzling heat of his textured tongue as it sought out her lips and more. The pressing of his flesh to hers as it searched for that longing place, that notch that needed to be filled and was so perfectly by him. The churning of rigid heat, all hardened velvet along her most intimate flesh… within her moist embrace. The memory alone was enough to send her body reeling, yearning to revisit those sensations again.

It was the hell she knew would come with what had happened, the unfortunate aftermath of a selfish night of desire with the man she promised to protect with her life. Now all she could manage was a blank stare as her mind filled with the thoughts of touching him, tasting him, making love to him just one more time in a selfish need to fill that lonely void again.

How can she do her job when all she can think about is him?

~~~~~~~

The presentation part of the proceedings concluded and the debates began as Giles moderated the diverse representative’s heated exchanges. Buffy was impressed. He was exceedingly professional, inspirationally detached and darn-right dead sexy… even with the big words and boring drone. His peppered tufts had relaxed after long hours of heated discussion, curling down to tickle his creased brow. His jaw clenching in restrained anger as one party accused him of favoritism only to be transformed into a brilliant smile, all patience and confident. His long, lean fingers trailed a resolved line across the page of the contract as he read aloud and the sight sent a tingle through Buffy at imagining what it would be like to be that paper.

It was downright maddening and she couldn’t wait to escape the temptation and torture.

It was a flash of metal out of the corner of her eye, mere nanoseconds passing as the weapon went from suit coat to hand to air and aiming straightaway toward Giles, brandished by a tall figure dressed in an uninteresting navy tailored suit. Buffy reacted without thought, pure instinct sending her running as fast as her legs could carry her after the assailant. She thought of yelling out but favored against it to avoid alerting the attacker and interrupting the proceedings. The figure stalked through the crowd, making its way closer to a better vantage point and clearer path to its intended target. A murmur rose with the unfolding action as eyes shifted to join the Slayer in her charge.

“With all parties in agreement, I’d have to declare this session…”

Giles finally glanced up from the paperwork, eyes meeting Buffy’s panicked expression in an instant of realization. He jerked to his feet, swiveled fast to see the barrel of the pistol come into view. A shot rang out followed by another and another as the crowd scattered in terror for the exits.

In an instant, the assailant was enveloped within a horde of Prakintar’s and brutally wrestled to the ground. Giles took a brief inventory of the representatives, searching for any signs of wounded. They all stood shaken but otherwise unharmed. It wasn’t until the alarmed mutterings of the remaining crowd drew his attention away that he finally noticed the body collapsed to the floor before him. It was Buffy, eyes closed, body motionless and silent. Giles’ heart stopped.

“No,” he said with an agonized whisper and fell to his knees beside her. He sat for a moment, utterly stunned by seeing her fallen… again. Forcing a breath, he apprehensively reached out to caress his fingertips along her cheek and pleaded softly, “Buffy?”

There was no answer and he called out for her again, more urgently with a broken, begging tone. Still silence and he swallowed down his fear.

“You can’t do this, Buffy. You just can’t, you hear me?” He commanded and carefully tucked his hands around to cradle her in his arms. She slumped limply in his grip, head falling back and face ashen. “Buffy, please…”

“Please what?” a shallow voice came from below and Giles pulled back to gaze down at the subtly smiling Slayer, her eyes fluttering open.

“Please don’t leave me.” His fingers trembled as they drew along the gentle slope of her cheek.

“Okay,” she answered with dizzy compliance and carefully pushed herself to her feet, leaving Giles still kneeling and stunned, eyes darting between her and the floor she’d occupied seconds before.

“I… I don’t understand…” he said, eyes searching her surprisingly animated body. “I thought you’d been shot?”

“Oh, I was,” she responded easily and winced as she gathered back the fabric of her jacket and shirt, revealing a thin, freshly damaged armor plated vest. “You think a lady with my impressive record goes commando? May not the best out there but it works enough and doesn’t make me look fat under this suit.”

Giles sprang to his feet and rushed to take her into his arms. “My lord, I thought I’d lost you.”

“Naw… can’t get rid of me that easily.” She brought her hands up and wrapped them around Giles.

She’d almost lost him. In an instant, like so many times before, but hadn’t. It was like hugging a miracle, lost in the wonderful feeling of being in his arms, in having him in hers. She considered what had just transpired, how she managed to be so completely absorbed within her thoughts of him and still take the bullet. There was no greater proof, except perhaps those beautiful emerald eyes staring relieved down at her. “I meant it, you know?”

“Meant what?” He asked quietly, combing the hair tenderly from her face.

“When you said ‘please don’t leave me’?” She smiled as she stroked the concern from his crumpled brow. “I won’t.”

His lips curled to a smile, that patient, gorgeous smile that said everything was alright. “Is that a promise?”

“No. It’s more of a threat.” She grinned and pulled him in for a deserving kiss.

The few feminine guests still in attendance chorused an approving ‘aw’ with the display.

“Looks as if we are a long way off from sealing the peace in regards to your associates, Rupert.” Crackenfir’s voice interrupted. Giles and Buffy apprehensively separated, turning their attentions on the Prakentar’s newly acquired prisoner, a human member of the Council Special Forces division.

Giles shook his head. “Officer Miller, can’t say it comes as too much of a bloody disappointment…”

“Fuck you, you poncy traitor!” A heavy hoof to the midsection sent the man buckling to the floor and Giles smiled graciously at his defender, none other than Ricky, the bully Prakintar who was donning a fresh black eye and curiously missing a fang in his toothy smile.

“I’m afraid the Council security has oddly thinned to and unimpressive number,” Crackenfir mentioned suspiciously.

“We were not at all a part of this. I assure you,” Roman insisted, pushing through the crowd to reach his old friend. “These… these uncivilized beasts are to blame in this. I think it’s become deathly obvious that this fruitless hobby of yours, Rupert, is getting quite out of hand.”

“Hobby?” Giles protested.

“It was one of your headhunters that let that bullet fly in hopes to end one of your own. Care to explain that, Watcher?” Crackenfir questioned.

“He was acting of his own accord. As for the men’s absence… it was simply a matter of unwise timing, is all.” Roman suggested. “They where momentarily unavailable.”

“I find that highly suspect, don’t you? There is a bold attempt on Rupert’s life by a lone gunman who managed to bypass metal detectors and the Council security detail leaving only a sole protector nearby and the only present Council operative on the premises during the attack just so happens to be the assailant himself? I question your tactics, Watcher.” Crackenfir grumbled accusingly and looked to Buffy. “Are you alright, my dear?”

“Fine. Just stings a little and I’m sure I’ll have a Technicolor rainbow bruise tomorrow. But I’m good.” Buffy smiled. “Really, really good.” She wrapped her arm around Giles’ waist and gave him a relieved squeeze.

“This has gone on long enough, Giles. It’s time you returned to the Council, to attend to more proper work befitting an accomplished Watcher and not this... this futile exercise in interspecies relations.”

“I happen to feel we’ve made progress here, regardless of what your Council believes,” Giles argued. “Much in contrast to your impressively flawed security detail, I might add. If you’d really like a word or two from the voice of experience, I’d highly recommend you focus your attentions more on disciplining your inadequate Reich than on recruiting me back into your self-important fold.”

“I assure you this matter will be thoroughly investigated,” Roman insisted.

“Hmmm…. Quite. Pity I won’t be around to review the entertaining records of the evenings events. I’m sure it would make fascinating reading,” Giles responded tersely.

“What are you saying, Rupert?” Roman asked nervously.

“That I’m no longer in need of the Council’s assistance.”

“That’s absurd…”

“Moreover, I’ll expect my things boxed and delivered to my flat before the end of the week otherwise your astounding failure in this matter will become the laughing stock of all the demon nations in attendance.”

“This is ludicrous. It was simply a matter of oversight, Giles.”

“An oversight that nearly got him killed,” Buffy stormed forward, gesturing back at the Prakintar’s. “I put more faith and trust in these 'uncivilized beasts', as you called them, than I do in your so-called security team?”

“Be reasonable in this,” Roman pleaded in frustration. “I don’t envy your chances, one retired Slayer and half debilitated, former Watcher? How do you propose to keep him safe, Buffy?”

“With a little help from her friends,” Crackenfir smiled and stepped forward in a show of support. Ricky quickly joined along side his boss as well as the other Prakintar’s. Cane and his band of N’Gravics made their presence known, coming forward as well. Soon other demons, many of whom Buffy knew were in dispute with one another, stood together, united in their endorsement of the former Watcher turned unlikely peace keeper.

“I no longer work for the Council, Roman,” Giles declared proudly and gestured to the crowd of demons. “I work for them. As it should be.”

Admitting defeat, Roman nodded with as much good humor as he could manage. “So be it. I’ll make the necessary arrangements.”

“Thank you,” Giles said and returned his attentions on the crowd, extending his hand in thanks to his improbable supporters.

Buffy slipped back a few steps, letting him mingle as she watched the Council take the unsuccessful assassin away in handcuffs. She reached out and gripped Roman’s wrist, stopping him. The Council man turned to her with a look of surprise.

“What can I do for you Miss Summers?”

“You tried to play me. Bringing me here in hopes of talking him into quitting… to bring him back to you.”

“It wasn’t my intention to…”

“You better pray that I never find out you had anything to do with this attempted murder.” Buffy threatened. “Because if I do, me and all my Slayer buddies along with a certain powerful witch friend and my well-connected contractor friend will introduce you to the darker side of the hero business. You’ll learn the true meaning of the term hostile takeover.”

With that, she released him and watched until all the Council members left. She turned around to see Giles staring at her from across the room, a contented smile along his lips and a fresh sparkle in his eye.

She returned the pleased smile and silently mouthed, “I love you.” It felt so right saying it and even better when he responded with his own silently mouthed, “I love you.”

~~~~

“Are you sure you’re ready for this?” Buffy asked, forehead crinkled with concern.

“As ready as I’ll every be,” Giles smiled, barely masking his own apprehension.

“You can change your mind, you know. We can make other arrangements.”

“It’s alright, Buffy. I knew this was an eventuality. It’ll be fine.”

“Okay then, here we go... ” She shrugged and with a turn of the knob, opened the door to a very grumpy faced Dawn.

“What’s with making me wait?” Dawn frowned. "This isn't a doctors office, right?"

“Just some last minute preparations,” Buffy covered and helped her sister with her bags. The moment the young lady was luggage free, she pushed passed Buffy and charged after Giles.

“OHMYGOD! Sasquatch Giles!” She giggled giddily as she scratched teasingly at his beard then pulled him into a frantic hug. “I so, so, so missed you!”

“I missed you too, Dawn,” he said gently, working clumsily to gain enough space to return the embrace. He just managed an awkward trio of pats to her side as she pulled away and started to tour the small space of the flat.

“Nice place. Really cozy and… um… compact,” She said tactfully. “Way to use the space.”

“Well, I make due.” Giles smiled graciously and helped Buffy with the bags.

“First things first,” Dawn fidgeted a little, “Bathroom and bedroom.”

“This way…” Buffy lead her down the hall motioning toward the bathroom and continuing on by. “That’s the little girl’s room…”

Giles objected with a corrective cough.

“And the not-so-little-boys room so keep it sparkling spic-n-span clean or you’ll suffer the wrath-o-hairy-eyeball, got it?” Buffy warned.

“Hey, I’m not the one who hangs blood and dust stained nylons to dry in the shower…” Buffy’s furious glare stopped Dawn’s observation cold. “Nevermind. Got it.”

“And this is where you’ll stay,” Buffy smiled proudly as she opened the door to the training room. Dawn’s mouth dropped open in wonder as she made her way inside.

“Wow… this is…”

“Perfect,” Buffy concluded, offering a thankful smile to Giles who stood quietly amused in the doorway.

“I was going to say ‘da bomb’, but yours sounded better.” Dawn admired the displays of weapons along the walls and finally noticed the futon unfolded to an improvised bed. “I know it’s only for a month, and it’s not that I’m complaining, but even when Buffy and I were tiny tots, we didn’t share a room. How in the world are we gonna manage with one twin size bed?”

“It’s all yours, Dawn. Well… except for when I need to train, so you’re gonna have to get acquainted with that insanity inspiring enigma that is your folding bed there. Tuck it away when you’re not using it. But other than that, this room’s yours.”

“But I thought you said he only has two rooms. If this is mine, then where…” Dawn turned and froze at the sight of Buffy wrapped tenderly in Giles arms, both facing her with calm and hopeful smiles.

“Riiiiiiight….” Dawn drawled out with a subtle smile curling her lips. “You have to tell me everything!”

Buffy opened her mouth to speak only to be hushed by a demanding hand from Dawn.

“*After* I acquaint myself with the loo,” she snickered. “And you say I talk gibberish.” She shook her head as she carefully manuvered her way passed them both.

“She took it rather well,” Giles smiled, pleased as he watched the door shut behind his new tenant.

“Too well. She’s in shock.” Buffy slipped back into his arms, nuzzling into the scruffy beard tickling along her nose. “Give it a moment to sink in and the shiznit will definitely hit the fan.”

“Are you two going to continue with this butchering of the English language the entire time?” Giles teased, holding her closer. “I distinctly saw a smile there. Perhaps she expected this?”

“That’s rather optimistic of you, Mr. Giles.” Buffy reached up and guided his face to hers, placing a feathery kiss to the very tip of his nose.

“A certain alteration in lifestyle has turned me on to a new way of thinking,” he grinned and returned the kiss, placing another one briefly to her lips. “Or perhaps it’s something in the water.”

“Perhaps it’s that persistent beard of yours growing inward. I think it’s about time for another special visit by the super friendly stylist that makes house calls.” Buffy clawed her nails through his beard, gripped and tugged him down for another, more thorough kiss. “Though that scruff certainly has its benefits, Sasquatch Giles.”

“Too much information. That’s more than enough of that!” Dawn ordered as she returned from the bathroom, rolling her eyes as the couple clumsily separated. “Get a room. Oh, right… done and done.”

Giles hazarded the first in what he thought would certainly be a lengthy conversation. “Dawn, I know this is…”

“Yeah… you could say that,” Dawn interrupted with an easygoing shrug. “But not so much.”

“So does that mean that this… that we’re okay here?” Buffy asked nervously.

Dawn turned around to face them both and a stern look fell across her face. She lifted her hand and pointed sharply. “You two… go to your room!” She smiled, pleased.

“Don’t mind if we do,” Giles nodded obediently and sent Buffy on her way with a wink, following along after her.

Dawn shook her head at the frolicsome twosome as they disappeared behind a closed door. “Always wanted to say that.”

~~~~~~


The End.

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