“Look here, in this book! It shows the swords and some demon named Balthazar. It says he was planning an Ascension, but some other demon stopped him and took his amulet that he needed.”
“Does it say where he is?”
“No. It just says he didn’t get to ascend and he was pretty pissed off about it.”
“Let me see that!” Wesley snatch the book from Willow’s hand, earning a distinct growl from Oz. The startled watcher paused to stare across the room, allowing Giles to take the book away from him.
“That is my book. If you don’t mind, while you apologize to Willow for your rudeness, I will see what we can learn from this.” The glare that accompanied Giles’s remarks made it very clear that Wesley should not even think about trying to take the book back.
“My apologies,” he said stiffly in Willow’s direction. “I allowed my concern for our situation to affect my behavior.” He saw that Giles was scanning the pages in front of him and, went back to studying the Books of Ascension.
“Well, this is fun, of the kind that isn’t,” Xander said after silence had fallen in the room. “Anybody up for charades?”
“If we’re done here, we could leave the exciting parts to the watchers and take ourselves home,” Spike said, getting to his feet. He glanced at Faith. “Think you can find your way back to the house if I take Buffy with me for a while?” he asked her.
“Sure, my new bestie here can drop me off,” Faith said, nudging Xander’s arm. “Since your snooty girlfriend isn’t here to object to it.”
Xander frowned briefly, then nodded. “No problem. The Harris mobile is at your service.”
As Wesley watched with his mouth open, all five teenagers and the old vampire got up and walked out as a group. He visibly struggled to find words as he realized what Spike had said.
“Buffy? Buffy is leaving with William the Bloody. Is she insane?”
“In a sense, I suppose. I believe the term more often used is ‘in love’.”
“In love? With an unsoulled vampire? I recall there was some sort of a relationship with Angelus, but he had a soul, did he not?”
“As I’m sure you know, the soul was not as firmly anchored as it could have been, and when he lost it, Buffy was forced to kill her first love in order to save the world. She did that with Spike’s assistance.”
“That’s hardly a reason to develop a relationship with him! Surely her thanks would have been sufficient?”
Giles sighed and looked up from the book, putting his finger between the pages to hold his place. One look at Wesley’s disapproving expression had him inserting a book mark and setting the book down on the table. He met the disapproving look with his own less-than-patient glare.
“Sit down, Wesley. I think you need to know more about the events of the last year than the Council may have shared with you.”
Suiting actions to words, Giles poured two glasses of the scotch Spike had been drinking and gestured for Wesley to take one. When they had sat down, drinks in hand, he began.
“Last year was a very difficult one for Buffy. And it didn’t get any better when she sent Angelus into the hell portal he was opening….”
When Giles had finished telling Wesley as much as he knew about Buffy’s time living with Spike, a vampire she’d watched go from heartbroken and drunk former reluctant ally, to helpful housemate, to care-taker, friend, and eventually self-sacrificing potential lover, Wesley had yet to ask any questions.
“As you can see, rather than take advantage of Buffy’s trust and innocence, he kept his word to leave Sunnydale as soon as she was safely living at home and able to return to school in the fall. His only reason for returning when he did recently was to prevent what almost happened when that bloody moron, Travers, tried to ensure she didn’t survive her Cruciamentum. Had he not crept into town just before her birthday, there’s a chance Faith would be the only slayer guarding the hellmouth.”
He stopped and took a sip of his drink, and shook his head.
“Although, probably not. I don’t believe Spike’s help was needed or involved in Buffy’s slay, but that was his reason for being here. To keep her alive if she needed him. I agreed that he should stay on to help us with what we now know is the Mayor’s plan to ascend to a higher rank of demon by way of killing the entire senior class of Sunnydale High School. We are hoping, with two slayers and a master vampire on our side, we can prevent it from getting to that point. If it does, we will need both slayers and Spike to prevent a bloodbath.”
“You talk about Miss Summers as if she was something over and above what she is—simply one more girl in a long line of Chosen Ones.”
Giles frowned at the callous description of the Council’s most important assets.
“Is that what you think she is?” Giles stared at Wesley over the rim of his glass. His eyes refused to allow him to avoid the question. “Just one more in a long line of disposable Council tools?”
Wesley squirmed a bit at the even more callous descriptive, but plunged on.
“Well, surely, she isn’t anything but an unusually lucky and clever slayer? Albeit, one with an unfortunate predilection for falling in love with her enemies. Miss Lehane should be just as capable of performing the duties required.” Wesley was obviously struggling to find a reason not to accept Buffy’s unique way of conducting herself.
Giles sighed and finished his drink before he responded. “Faith has a great deal of potential, but I fear stopping an apocalypse by herself may be a bit out of her reach. Whereas Buffy’s ability to survive a test meant to kill her only serves to prove what a mistake Travers would have been making. Perhaps we should get back to the books and try to find a way to end this problem in a way that doesn’t have her facing down another apocalypse.” He stood up and turned his back, hoping his urge to throttle Wesley wasn’t as visible from that angle.
Outside, Buffy and Spike smiling their thanks, but refused offers from both Oz and Xander to give them a ride to Buffy’s house. When Xander continued to mutter about why shouldn’t Buffy just ride with him, Faith smacked his arm hard enough to hurt and said, “Quit tryin’ to mess up Buffy’s love life. He’s getting it, you’re not. Not from Buffy anyway,” she finished with a leer that made him blush even as his pupils dilated.
Once both couples had driven off, Spike growled his relief. “I thought they’d never leave.” He pulled Buffy into a kiss that soon had her mewling in her throat and trying to climb his body.
“Well, that was a bloody bad idea,” he gasped, pulling his mouth away. “Now we’ve got to walk back to the house like this.” He adjusted himself and shook his head. “Should have known we couldn’t just grab a quick snog without—”
“Come on,” she giggled, pulling on his hand. “Last one home is a… a… slowpoke.”
Without further conversation, they began to run at a deceptively easy pace that got them to Crawford Street in inhumanly fast time.
“I won!” Buffy said as she touched the door ahead of him. “You’re a slowpoke.”
“Something I’m going to teach you to appreciate,” he purred as he opened the door. “Might take me all night….”
“Promises, promises,” she said breathlessly, already tugging his shirt off.
“Ah, ah. Slow, remember?” He took her hand and led her into the bedroom where he sat her on the bed and began to untie her shoes. He spent minutes on each foot, massaging it and nibbling on her toes. When he sucked one big toe into his mouth and began to nurse on it, Buffy’s startled “Oh!” of unexpected arousal made him grin.
It took him over fifteen minutes to get Buffy’s clothes into a heap on the floor, spending precious time kissing, licking and sucking on her skin as he slowly exposed it to his talented mouth. By the time he had found his way into her folds and was gently teasing her with his tongue, she was gasping and whimpering in combined frustration and pleasure.
“Spiiiiike” she keened, trying to push into his mouth.
“That’s ‘slowpoke’ to you, love,” he said, taking tiny nips of her clit but never remaining in place long enough for her to go over the edge he’d been holding her on. Only when he thought he saw actual tears in her eyes as she whimpered and begged him to stop torturing her did he finally pull the needy bit of flesh into his mouth and suck the orgasm from her.
When she’d stopped trembling and was lying bonelessly, legs still spread and with his head resting on her lower abdomen, she took a deep breath and sighed, “If you ever go that slow again, I may have to kill you.”
“You didn’t like it?” He did his best to sound hurt, but the twinkle in his eye gave it away and she glared at him.
“Don’t be stupid,” she said, swatting at his head. “How am I going to top that?” She let her head fall back on the bed, sighing dramatically. “I don’t know how to do stuff like that!”
“Don’t have to, sweetheart. Letting me bring you that much pleasure makes me almost as happy as… this,” he said, sliding up her body and into her before she even realized what he was doing.
Even as her legs automatically wrapped around his hips, she was complaining, “Wait! I can’t—” Without moving anything else, he captured her lips and began kissing her, slowly and gently, but with gradually increasing pressure and depth. “Mmmmm,” she murmured between kisses, beginning to move her hips. “Maybe… in another minute or….”
“Take your time, love. I’m not going anywhere. Could spend the rest of my unlife here and dust happy.”
In spite of his words, he began moving in tandem with her and was soon gasping his love and appreciation for her as they brought each other to a mutually satisfying conclusion. Buffy drifted off to sleep, still holding his body to hers and with his purr echoing in her ears.
Buffy entered the library after school, surprised to find Faith already there. As Willow, Oz, and Xander—as well as Cordelia, somewhat to everyone’s surprise—followed, Wesley was left frowning. Although one look at Cordelia temporarily wiped it off his face.
She looked him up and down, noted the expensive suit, good haircut, and smiled as she extended her hand. “Hi. I’m Cordelia Chase. And you are?”
“Wesley Wyndham-Price, at your service,” he said, not quite stumbling over the words as he shook her hand. “How lovely to find someone in this place with manners,” he added, glaring at Buffy and Faith.
“Oh, I know exactly what you mean,” she agreed.
Her disdainful sweep of the room included everyone, and Buffy snapped at her, “What are you doing here, Cordy? We haven’t seen you in weeks.”
Cordelia looked somewhat taken back as she stammered a little. “Well, I mean not that I want to be, but I am still part of this bizarre little in-crowd, and I heard… I mean, I thought… Don’t we have planning to do, or something?” She looked at Xander for the first time since she’d come in. “You told me there was an apocalypse coming and everybody had to help.”
Buffy rolled her eyes, but nodded. “We can probably use all the help we can get, but we’re hoping to put a stop to it before it gets to apocalypse time. I’m sure Giles and Wesley have been busy researching all day. Right, guys? Have you figured out how to stop that old man?”
Giles gestured for Wesley to speak, sighing when the younger watcher preened in front of Cordelia’s rapt attention. Faith’s snicker momentarily distracted Wesley, but he soon recovered.
“Yes. Well, as Miss Summers—Buffy has so cleverly guessed, Mr. Giles and I spent quite a bit of time last night and today going over both the Books of Ascension and the book with the account of Balthazar’s attempted Ascension and it appears there is a strong connection between the presence of the amulet and swords here when there is another Ascension ritual being planned.” He looked around to be sure he had everyone’s attention.
“It is possible there is also a connection between the Wilkins demon and the amulet, but we have yet to learn what that may be. I have contacted the Council and they are researching the old records there.”
“Hey, maybe we can find this Bathtub guy and sic him on the Mayor.” Xander said with a laugh.
“As much as I hate to admit it, that is a possibility we’ve been discussing,” Giles said, wincing. “Well done, Xander.”
Everybody stared at Xander, who seemed just as shocked as they were. Buffy gave him a smile and Faith high-fived him. Cordelia just sniffed and continued to look at Wesley.
“Yes, quite,” Wesley said, appearing somewhat disconcerted by both Xander’s comment and the slayers’ reactions to it. “We have indeed determined that it is possible your mayor is the demon that stole the amulet and prevented Balthazar’s Ascension decades ago. If Balthazar’s minions have been able to steal it back, that would certainly go a long way toward thwarting Wilkins’ own Ascension, as well as to explain their presence in Sunnydale.”
“Well, neither one of them has it now, do they? We gave it to you,” Faith said.
“Yes. We have it now. And we will be destroying it at the first opportunity, as soon as we have researched how best to do that. The destruction of the amulet may be all it takes to interrupt the Ascension. But we won’t know that until we hear back from the Council and have determined what is the best way to destroy it.”
“Sledge hammer?” Xander’s attempt to earn more praise brought nothing but sighs and head shakes.
“Come on, Xan. You’ve been around too long not to know it won’t be that easy.” Buffy gave him a sympathetic smile.
“Might have been,” he muttered, sinking into his chair.
“Mr. Giles and I will remain here the rest of the evening, waiting for a call from the Council, and continuing to research the amulet’s proper mode of destruction. I suggest Miss Lehane and Miss Summers return after sundown for further instruction.”
“What about us?” Willow folded her arms and glared at Wesley. “I’m the one who found out about it. What if you need magic to destroy it?”
“What if the Mayor figures out we have it and tries to get it back?” Oz added softly. “Seems to me we should probably all be here.”
“And Spike,” Buffy said. “He’ll want to be here.”
“Unless we have some reason to think the Mayor is aware we have it in our possession, and that we intend to destroy it, I see no reason why he would try to come after it immediately. If we can work out the correct procedure, we can destroy it this evening.”
“Sounds like a plan. Let’s just hope Wilkins doesn’t get wind of it.”
“Indeed.” At a slight sound, Giles raised his head to frown at the library’s main doors which were quivering as if someone had started to open them, then changed his mind. Buffy and Faith got to the doors so quickly the others didn’t even see them move, throwing them open and entering the hallway.
Oz spoke up. “I heard it too. There was somebody there.”
“I didn’t hear anything,” Wesley said. “And I’m closer to the door than you are.”
“Guess I just have better ears,” Oz said with one of his laconic smiles.
Buffy and Faith returned from their exploration down the hallway, grumbling to themselves about students without enough sense to go home at the end of the day.
“Anything?” Giles asked, bypassing Wesley who seemed to be about to ask the same question.
“It’s hard to tell. There are still a lot of kids milling around out there. Could have been anybody.”
Faith spoke up. “We should probably stay here to help guard it. Just in case….”
“We’ll all stay,” Xander said. “We can send out for pizza for dinner.”
Wesley glared around the room, clearly wondering how he’d lost control of not just the slayers, but the other teenagers as well. A glance at Giles for help went unanswered as he just nodded and went back to his reading.
“This is highly irregular and against all protocol,” he muttered to no one in particular, as he sat down and pulled one of the books toward himself. “Completely against protocol.”
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