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Clueless

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Title: Clueless
Authors: Kim & Jen
Rating: PG-13
Pairing: B/G, X/A, W/T, S/D (friendship)
Summary: A celebratory movie night takes a strange twist.
Setting: Rewrite of the end Season 5. Glory died before the portal opened, "Doc" never appeared on the tower, and that conversation in the Magic Box about killing Dawn never, EVER, happened.
Feedback: Oh yes, please! It's our drug of choice.
Disclaimer: We don't, never have, never will. We own our obsession with the G-man. We let them have fun and return them relatively unscathed to the Jossverse. Although, they probably have more fun with us.
Warnings: There are movie and television quotes sprinkled liberally throughout this story. They are: Clue; Animal House; Young Frankenstein; The American President; Winnie the Pooh, and those are just the ones we've used when we started posting this monster.

Authors' Notes: Buffy and Giles grew much closer after Joyce's death. The gang has accepted the change in their relationship (hey, this is our world. We can do what we want. *VBEG*). They aren't a couple yet. That's what we're here to do. :D This has been a long haul to get this here. We started this just before Christmas. This originated as an idea in chat. Why we were talking about this, I have no idea. Things like this are the result of people chatting after 2:00 a.m.

Jen's Thanks: Obviously, to Kim: my friend, cohort in crime, and sounding board. You are the best. Jamie, for giving us the idea to use a much-underused Jossian character. Trish, Cat and the ladies on allthejellies for the feedback. And most of all, Phen. You picked it apart, put it together again, and made it better. Thank you.

Kim's Thanks: Hmmm, who to thank. Oh yeah, this chick, Jen, who has become one of the best friends a girl could ever want. You spur my muse on to greater things. To Jamie, Cat and Shelley for your support and assistance. To Phen, finally someone who will be critical. You can bleed red ink on my stories any day. Lastly, I'd like to dedicate this to all of the Clue fans out there, Tim Curry should be venerated whenever possible.


Chapter 1


The town of Sunnydale was celebrating. The majority of its inhabitants did not know what the joyous occasion was; then again, they really didn't care.

The downtown shopping district came to life and people flocked in droves. An impromptu street party formed, adding to the enjoyment. All doors were open and the lights were on, except one.

The Magic Box stood silent and empty. Passersby looked through the windows and rattled the door to no avail. Those who tried to enter simply shrugged and moved on.

The usual occupants of the deserted store were elsewhere as they celebrated more quietly than the rest of the town. They were mentally and physically exhausted, but were reluctant to part company.

The heroes sat in the Summers' living room, rehashing their victory. Junk food covered every flat surface and a movie played in the background. When the credits rolled on the movie, a voice rose above the others.

"Anyone sleepy? No one's going to sleep, are they? Right?" Xander looked around the room at everyone as he got up to pop out the tape.

Buffy stood and stretched. "Xander, for the fifteenth time, no one is sleeping."

"Well, I told you I think we're tempting fate by doing this."

"By renting movies and eating popcorn? I'm not sure that the gods of fate would be upset by that." Anya replied.

"Some of you weren't at the near massacre last year," Xander replied. "You don't know what it was like. There was a guy and he kept talking about cheese. We almost died."

"You're not making any sense. I didn't see you get hit on the head the other night. Why don't you get me more popcorn?" Anya held out her empty bowl.

"I live but to serve, oh light of my life." Xander joked, as he took Anya's bowl and tried to make a florid bow at the same time.

"Let me get it, Xander," Buffy offered, rising up from her seat beside Giles. "I'm going to pop another big batch for all of us. Who needs more to drink?"

"Ugh," Dawn wrinkled her nose. "I think I'm going to have to get some water. If I drink one more coke, I'm going to float away on a sugary river, and that's saying something for me. But, I'll help you carry stuff, Buffy."

"Buffy doesn't need help; she's the super Slayer. After evil goddesses and hell dimensions, what's a few drinks for her to carry?" Willow waved her hand, too content curled up with Tara in a chair to get up to help.

"Says the girl who didn't have to swing the troll hammer," Buffy replied dryly. "You try waving that thing around for a while and see how you feel in the morning."

"Hey," Willow protested. "I did stuff. Tara and I wore ourselves out putting up that barrier to help Spike get up the stairs to Dawn."

"Xander and I helped too," Anya interjected. "He was even too tired to have victory sex when we got home that night."

"Yes, well, as taxing as averting an apocalypse is for one's libido, I'm sure we aren't interested in the details Anya," Giles said pointedly. Trying to change the subject, he asked Xander,

"What movie are we going to watch next?"

"Not to beat a dead horse, but again I say, maybe we shouldn't put in another movie. We could play a nice rousing game of charades to stay awake instead."

"Xander," Giles replied with some asperity, "I explained earlier that we are unlikely to have the same sort of experience that we had last year. All of the research indicated that our dream was the result of our performing the joining spell with Buffy. The First Slayer was quite put out by that. We didn't perform any such spell this year."

"No, we didn't," Buffy said as she came back in followed by Dawn, both balancing replenished bowls of popcorn and drinks. "But Giles, I think we should keep that spell in mind around finals time next year. Some of your smarts would come in handy during my ancient civilizations class."

"I see. I'll be sure to put myself at your disposal."

Buffy stuck her tongue out at him. "Just for that, no popcorn for you."

"Fine, but I won't let you sit back on the couch," he teased back, putting his legs up across the cushions.

Buffy's eyes narrowed as she contemplated her options. After handing out the remaining bowls of popcorn and assorted drinks, she moved over to the couch and plopped down on top of his legs. "I'll just have to sit on you then."

"Oi, what do you think you're doing?" Giles asked as he tried to move his legs.

"Making you uncomfortable," Buffy grinned.

With that, Giles stopped struggling. "I'm not uncomfortable; quite the contrary. I'd be delighted if you sat on my legs the whole next movie. Maybe I could lose all feeling below the waist as you cut off my circulation."

With a whim born of pure mischief, Buffy couldn't help herself, "Trust me Giles, if I chose to sit on you for any length of time, a loss of feeling below your waist would be the furthest thing from your mind."

While Giles gaped at her, Xander started humming a jaunty tune and said, "At least you're not sitting on his..."

All heads in the room snapped toward Xander. At a sharp glance from Giles, Xander blanched. "Oh my God, that was out loud wasn't it? Okay, let's put in that next movie. We have Clue, or we can watch Return of the Living Dead."

"Hey, no zombies that eat people's brains. We've had enough of the brain issues to last for quite a while." Willow frowned, shooting an anxious look at Tara.

"Yes, let's watch Clue," Tara said as she patted Willow's arm reassuringly. "I love Tim Curry."

"Isn't Tim Curry the guy in that Rocky Picture movie?" Dawn asked.

"The Rocky Horror Picture Show," Giles answered. "Yes, he plays Frank-n-Furter. I'm surprised you've seen that film."

"A bunch of people from school went to the midnight movie and that was playing. I didn't understand all of the throwing things at the screen and yelling that went on."

"Tim Curry is very sexy in that movie," Anya stated. "I don't normally find men attractive when they're dressed as women, but he makes fishnet appealing."

"He does all right," Giles sniffed. "I think my portrayal was a bit more flamboyant."

"You were in Rocky Horror Picture Show?" Buffy looked incredulous. "Did the Council know? Did you have a tweed corset?"

Giles glared in response. "I was at University you know. I was in a production there. And no, I didn't come out of the womb in tweed. I looked quite smashing in the corset and fishnets, or at least that is what the reviews said. I still have them packed up somewhere. Don't even think about it." The last was said in response to Anya as she looked between Giles and Xander speculatively.

"Really putting in the movie now, so all talking will stop," Xander babbled.

Pushing play, he went back and flopped on the floor next to Anya. Willow and Tara snuggled further into the chair. Dawn grabbed a pillow off the couch and stretched out in front of the TV. At Giles' discrete cough, Buffy lifted herself off his legs until he removed them from the couch. She then sat down next to him, put the popcorn bowl in his lap, and leaned her head against his shoulder. "It makes it easier to share the popcorn this way," she whispered in response to his quizzical expression.

After a few moments, Giles put his arm across the back of the couch, not quite hugging her shoulders. At her sideways glance, he muttered, "Since I shan't be getting any other action.."

A raised eyebrow was Buffy's only reply as she turned her attention back to the television.

As the movie started to play, Xander tried one last time, "And remember-"

"No falling asleep," everyone chorused back to him.

The movie began and everyone laughed along with the antics on the screen. Each made comments about their favorite lines. Slowly, fewer and fewer comments were made.

Eventually, the only sounds in the room were the dialogue on the screen, and the gentle breathing of seven sleeping people.

********************

Something was tickling Giles' nose. He tried to move his head, but that didn't make the sensation go away. Slowly, he awoke and realized that Buffy's hair was the culprit. She had fallen asleep with her head on his shoulder. As he tried to move her to a more comfortable position, he realized that they were no longer in Buffy's living room. Instead, they were in a large study in front of a large fireplace.

He nudged Buffy.

"I, too, drank the cognac," she whimpered.

"Buffy," he whispered. "Wake up."

Buffy opened her eyes and looked at him. "I was having a really weird dream."

"Well, it appears that we all might be having another dream," he said.

"Huh?"

"Look around."

Buffy looked around the room. "Crap," she said loudly.

At that, everyone started to wake up. Xander sat up and stretched. "I must have fallen asleep. Luckily this time.," he trailed off as he took in their surroundings. "All right, let me be the first to say, I told you so."



NEXT



Chapter Text

Chapter 2

The newly awakened group looked around the room. They wandered around until Dawn squealed.

"I know where we are!" she cried. "We're in the movie, Clue. This is the study."

Giles walked to a table and sighed. "She's correct. Here are the weapons."

Willow began bouncing on her toes. "Ooo! Can I be Miss Scarlet?"

Dawn looked at Willow. "However much coffee you drink in the morning; I want you to cut it in half."

"I don't drink coffee."

"Then hit yourself over the head with a baseball bat."

Tara placed a gentle hand on Willow's back and shot a look of mild reproach to Dawn.

Buffy walked to Giles' side and looked at the contents of the table: a stake, a baseball bat, spell ingredients, a sledgehammer, a gun, a crossbow, and a battle-axe.

"Well, whoever brought us here knows what we do," Buffy said.

The others moved closer to Giles and Buffy and picked up the instruments.

Willow immediately slipped the spell ingredients into her pocket, while Xander hefted the hammer.

"I like this. It'll make nice big holes," Xander remarked.

Anya grabbed the sword and made a few experimental moves with it. "It feels right, holding this."

As Dawn's hand moved to the crossbow, Buffy stopped her. Seeing that there were bolts in it, she told Dawn, "Not on your life."

Dawn glared at her sister, "Yeah sure. Keep the kid away from the cool toys."

Buffy returned the glare and raised an eyebrow. "Don't start," she said as she moved the weapon away from Dawn.

Turning from her sister, Buffy reached for the table at the same time as Giles. Buffy slid the stake up her sleeve, while Giles swung the bat.

"Someone has a peculiar sense of humor," Giles said.

Buffy looked at Giles holding the bat, a shudder running through her.

Giles laid a calming hand to her shoulder and squeezed. "Don't think of it."

Buffy nodded and placed her hand on his.

Her memories of how close she came to losing him the night that Jenny was killed were still enough to make her shudder. She truly meant it when she had told him that night that she needed him and couldn't do it without him. Of course, at the time, she had meant her job--slaying. Over the past year, dealing with her mom's death, Riley leaving, and fighting Glory, Buffy had come to realize that it wasn't just slaying, it was every aspect of her life. She and Giles had grown closer and their relationship had evolved. The teasing banter was still there, but it had taken on a note of flirting that wasn't there before. Buffy felt like they were on the verge of something new, something better. Standing there, swimming in the memories of the night outside the warehouse, Buffy realized that she was looking forward to the new direction they were going. 'I know he feels the same, I just have to get him to admit it,' she thought.

Shaking her head to clear her thoughts, Buffy realized the others were still debating on weapons.

Seeing that the gun and battle-axe were left, Tara gently raised the gun. "I don't like guns. Anyone want to trade?" she asked. She saw the others decline before putting the gun in her pocket.

"Ok, we have one weapon left. Who's it for?" Buffy wondered as the answer to her question stumbled in the room.

Spike looked at the inhabitants of the room and grunted. "Should have known it would be you lot. Why'd you bring me here?"

"We didn't, Spike," Giles replied. "We are wondering what is going on ourselves."

Spike glanced around the room and settled his gaze on Willow.

"Have you been makin' with the mojo?"

"No! It wasn't me. I was asleep. I promise!" she cried defiantly.

"We know, Will," Buffy said, sending a gentle smile to her friend. "We were all asleep, watching this movie. We woke up and here we are."

Xander, looking spooked, started peering behind curtains and furniture.

"Xander, what ever are you doing?" Giles asked.

"Looking for the cheese guy. He's here somewhere. He's gotta be." Xander continued around the room until he stumbled behind the desk. "Uh, Giles, you might want to come here."

Giles and Buffy walked to Xander. Buffy shivered when she looked down. Dropping the bat, Giles gasped. "Dear Lord, it can't be!"

"Keep Dawn back, Spike," Buffy ordered.

"Why? I want to see. Is it really nasty, all gore and pus and stuff?" Dawn enthused, as Spike laid a restraining arm across her shoulder.

"No, can't be. I can't smell the blood, or anything else for that matter," Spike said.

Buffy took a deep breath and agreed. "Me either."

Tara and Willow looked quickly away from the body and held each other tightly.

A broken, bloody figure lay at unnatural angles. It had been repeatedly attacked with various instruments. Pieces of flesh were missing and different objects protruded from the remains. Blood stained the surrounding carpet.

Giles bent to run a finger through the blood and pulled his hand back. Everyone gasped when his hand remained clean.

"This is not natural. No smells, no actual blood. This reeks of a bad joke." Giles said.

The curiosity finally got the better of Anya. She looked at the others and said. "Ok, this isn't real. The body is here, but not really hurt. But, what I want to know is, who is it?"

Giles glanced at her before returning to the body.

"It's. she was. Jenny Calendar."

Buffy drew away from Giles. "Uh, Giles, that's not Jenny. It's my old boyfriend, Ford."

Willow looked askance at them. "What body are you looking at? I see the vampire me."

Xander rolled his eyes. "Guys, it's Jesse! You see it, don't you?" he asked, looking at Anya.

"I see a body. No face, just a body," Anya told him.

"Same here," Tara said. Spike and Dawn nodded their agreement with Tara.

"We are all seeing someone different," Giles replied. "Why is that?"

"Duh! Last year, the spell, work with me British man!" Xander cried.

"Of course, that has to be it. They weren't there, so most of the influence of the spell must be concentrated on us four," Giles told them, as his eyes moved from Buffy to Willow to Xander. "And don't call me that."

"Ok, good. But how do we get out of here?" Buffy asked.

"Solve the murder, would be my guess," Willow said.

"And how do we go about that? That body or whatever it is was ripped to pieces," Spike snorted.

"Look for clues, like in the game," Tara replied.

"Bravo, miss. I wondered when you would figure it out," a new voice told the group.

Everyone turned to the voice in the doorway. Xander jumped and hid behind Anya. "I knew it! I knew you would be here somewhere!"

In the doorway, a small man stood gazing at the people.

"Buffy," Dawn said, sidling closer to her sister, "Who is that?"

"Listen, pal. You gave me nightmares for weeks last time you popped up," Buffy exclaimed. She turned to Dawn and said, "That's the Cheeseman."

Chapter Text

Title: Clueless 3/20
Authors: Kim & Jen
Feedback: Oh yes, please! It's our drug of choice.
Disclaimer: We don't, never have, never will. We own our obsession with the G-man. We let them have fun and return them relatively unscathed to the Jossverse. Although, they probably have more fun with us.


Chapter 3/20


In three strides, Buffy was across the study, her arm against the Cheeseman's throat, pinning him to the wall. "I don't know what sort of game you're playing, but I want answers and I want them now. Why have you brought us here? And how do we get back home?"

In response, the Cheeseman, dressed in an antiquated black suit, made strangled choking sounds.

"You're gonna have to let him breathe if you want him to answer," Spike said.

Buffy looked for a moment like she would rather keep pushing until her arm crushed the windpipe beneath it, but finally she relaxed enough that the Cheeseman could draw a rasping breath. "I'm still waiting for an answer."

"I," he tried to talk, but began to cough. In the face of his hacking, Buffy backed away but stayed close, ready to pounce if he tried to get away. For the next few moments, everyone watched the Cheeseman cough and try to catch his breath, as he bent over and put his hands on his knees. Finally, he stood shakily and straightened his jacket with a disdainful look at Buffy.

"I have nothing to do with you being here. Someone or something brought me here, and when I awoke, I had the knowledge that a murder had occurred and that you and your friends would be here shortly. As to how you get home, the perceptive young lady over there got it quite right; you have to solve the murder."

Xander, feeling bolder from his position behind Anya, asked, "But how can we solve the murder if we can't even agree on who the murderee is?"

Giles shook his head, "Murderee, Xander, really." Turning to the Cheeseman, Giles narrowed his eyes, "You said you were brought here. How?"

The Cheeseman shook his head, "I do not know the specifics on how I arrived. One moment I was elsewhere, and the next I was here."

"Great," Dawn said. "We're stuck in a movie, Cheesehead the butler doesn't know anything, and we're supposed to figure out who the murderer is, when it could be anyone."

Drawing himself up, the Cheeseman glared at Dawn. "I did not say that I know nothing. There is one thing I do know; one of you is the murderer."

Cacophony reigned in the room as everyone spoke at once.

"Listen here, buddy," Xander started.

"I'll have you know," Anya's tone was indignant.

"I haven't yet, but someone's going to get slayed in a moment," Buffy said, advancing.

"I would never murder someone," Willow said to Tara.

A shrill whistle pierced the air, causing everyone to stop talking. "Oi, you lot make my head hurt," Spike complained. "I think we need a little less talking and a lot more doing. This bloke, the Cheese guy, whatever you called him, doesn't seem to know a whole lot. And while it's all well and good for him to say we can't leave, I'll bloody well leave if I want to." With that, Spike strode across the room and pushed past the Cheeseman. After a moment of stunned silence, everyone followed him.

The study was off the main grand hallway, whose floors were brown parquet. Spike marched across the hall and threw open the large oaken door at the end of it. Outside, the rain poured down in torrents, the night sky periodically illuminated by flashes of lightening.

"Right then, you all have a nice time playing detective; I'm getting out of here." Spike turned up the collar of his duster, put his head down, and trudged out into the rain muttering, "Stupid gits, willing to just sit there and argue."

When Buffy made a move to follow him out the door, Giles put a restraining hand on her arm. "Let's just give it a few minutes and see what happens."

Buffy shrugged in acquiescence.

After about 30 seconds, Spike appeared at the far end of the hallway, still walking with his head down, talking to himself. "Take the whole sodding lot of 'em. Can't believe they ever manage to kill anything." Finally, he realized that it wasn't raining anymore, and he wasn't walking outside. As he looked up, the realization that he was back in the house dawned over his face, "Oh, bollocks."

"Yes, well, obviously trying to leave out the front isn't going to get us anywhere. Perhaps we should attempt to discern another means of exodus. Although it's fascinating really, the spell one would need to transport someone back into the house. Some sort of teleportation spell I would presume." Giles' eyes had gotten that far away look he got when talking about the dusty arcane topics that excited him.

"Giles," Buffy interrupted, "English, please."

"Hmm, oh right, we can't leave out the front, so we should try to find another way out." Giles said. "Although I think I made myself perfectly clear before."

"Not everyone here speaks Watcherese, Giles. Even I have to get out my Giles-to-English dictionary sometimes." Buffy's grin softened her teasing tone.

"Okay, we're not getting anywhere listening to you two flirt," Anya said. Ignoring Giles as he started to sputter, she turned to the Cheeseman. "So, Wadsworth, what is it exactly that we need to do to get out of here? I have no intention of spending the evening here when Xander and I had plans for later."

"Why did you call him Wadsworth?" Tara asked curiously.

"Well, that's the name of the butler in Clue, so I figured we could use that for his name as well, unless he prefers Limburger or Muenster."

The Cheeseman gathered himself, trying to appear more impressive than he actually was. "My name is not Wadsworth. I do have a name, you know."

"No, obviously we don't know. I don't remember you being polite enough to introduce yourself the last time we all met." Sarcasm dripped from Xander's voice.

"You may call me Huxley," the Cheeseman said with ponderous dignity, as if he were announcing himself Prince Charles.

"Huxley--that name sounds familiar," Dawn mused.

"You're probably thinking of Dr. Huxtable from the Cosby show," Willow offered.

At Dawn's confused look she continued, "Or not, because you were probably, like, five when it was on."

"Wadsworth, Cheesehead, Huxley, whatever. We need answers. Who brought us here and how are we supposed to solve this murder?" Buffy asked impatiently.

Huxley answered, "Again, I do not know how you were brought here, or by whom. I know that one of you murdered that poor body in the study, using one of the weapons in your possession. The solution to the murder lies in the clues you will find in the mansion. That is all I can tell you at this time."

"Well, I suppose that means we'd better start exploring the mansion. I think for right now it would be best if we don't split up. Not until we're a little more familiar with what we're dealing with and we need to do something with these weapons."

"What would you suggest?" Giles asked.

Buffy looked around the room and walked to an armoire against the wall. Picking up a key from the shelf, she opened the door.

While the others were placing their weapons in the chest, Buffy gathered the cross bow and the battle-axe and put them inside.

She closed the door and flipped the key to Giles.

"Hold onto that," Buffy said as she turned on her heel and started down the hall. After a brief moment, the others followed her.



NEXT



Chapter Text

Title: Clueless 4/20
Authors: Kim & Jen
Feedback: Oh yes, please! It's our drug of choice.
Disclaimer: We don't, never have, never will. We own our obsession with the G-man. We let them have fun and return them relatively unscathed to the Jossverse. Although, they probably have more fun with us.


Chapter 4/20


When they reached the hallway, the group looked from floor to ceiling and door-to-door. Buffy came to a sheepish stop and looked at Giles. Seeing her chagrin, he decided to come to her rescue, for a change.

"Um, Huxley, you said?" Giles asked.

"Yes, sir."

"Would you be so good as to show us the layout of the house?"

"Very good, sir. Walk this way."

Xander moved quickly behind the butler and copied his smooth movements.

Giles rolled his eyes at Xander and pulled him back as Huxley left the study and led them across the hall.

He opened two doors and ushered them in to a white paneled room.

"This is the lounge. There is very little to see here, but you may inspect the room, if you wish," Huxley told them.

The group wandered around the room, picking up and looking at various objects. Buffy moved closer to Giles and tapped him on the shoulder.

"You seem used to being around hired help. Did you grow up around them?"

"I did," Giles answered. "Father was heir to a minor dukedom in the West Country. We lived rather comfortably."

"We? Who's we?" Buffy asked.

"My brothers, mother, and I. When Father passed, the title went to my brother Christopher."

"Is he a Watcher too?"

"No. As the eldest, he was predestined to manage the estates and all it entailed."

Buffy stared at Giles. "Estates? Plural?"

"Yes," Giles said with a slight smile on his face. He couldn't wait to see the look on Buffy's face. "Mother is a distant cousin of the Royal Family."

Buffy's jaw dropped. "Royal family? You.you're. Giles! I once called you a god, but maybe I should have said Lord. Hey!" Buffy exclaimed. "Is that why you say 'oh dear Lord' all the time?" she teased.

"Hmmm, perhaps," he mused with a twinkle in his eye. "That also could explain why women used to call out 'Oh Lord' too," he said wiggling his eyebrows at her. Buffy returned his grin.

"Actually," Giles continued, "I do have a title, but in this day and age it's really just a formality. Christopher is now the Duke of Salisbury, but my younger brother Phillip and I are Lords. That and a quid will get you a pint."

"You have brothers named Christopher and Phillip, and your parents named you Rupert? Did they not like you or something?" Buffy asked innocently.

Giles merely raised an eyebrow at her and she giggled.

The butler led them from the room, their heads bent close to continue the conversation.

"Hey, you two, we're supposed to be looking for clues," Willow chided gently.

Buffy threw Giles a quick glance, and then linked her arm with his. "Lord Rupert and I were just discussing the merits of English titles," she said haughtily with a sniff and a toss of her hair.

Willow simply shook her head, "Sometimes you two are too odd even for us."

As the others moved past, Buffy realized Giles had stopped. "What?" she asked.

"You've never called me Rupert before," he said softly.

Buffy looked into his eyes for a moment, "You're right, but things can always change." In one of her mercurial changes, Buffy lightened the mood. "Now come on, your Lordship," she said as she tugged on his arm. "We need you to be clue guy right now."

The pair caught up with the others just as the butler showed them into the dining room.

Xander looked at the table set for eight and smiled. "Hey, any chance we can get something to eat here?"

Anya slapped his arm. "Stop thinking with your stomach. I want to get out of here so we can go home and have orgasms."

Xander flushed slightly, looking at his friends. Noticing that no one was paying attention to them, Xander pulled his love closer and whispered, "I didn't say what I wanted to eat."

Anya grinned and kissed him on the cheek.

At the same time, Willow and Tara were huddled in a corner.

"Ha...have you tried any spells yet?" Tara murmured.

"I thought about it, but after what happened to Spike, I thought I'd better not. I mean, he left. It was raining and then, poof! There he was again, and dry too. Maybe Giles will have some ideas," Willow answered.

As they walked to the kitchen, Dawn held Spike back and let the others pass.

"Spike, did you notice anything in the study?"

"Like what, Niblet?"

"I don't know. Something seemed off after Cheesehead showed up."

"You think that blighter has something to do with this mess?"

"Maybe, or maybe it was something he said. Just keep an eye out, okay?

"Will do, Bit. Let me know if you think of something else."

They entered the kitchen to see the people rooting through drawers and opening cabinets. Giles had reached for a door, when he was thrown backwards. Buffy was immediately at his side and helped him stand.

Looking at Dawn, Spike reached for the same door. It opened easily for him. They gathered around the vampire and peered in the space.

To all appearances, it was a freezer. Meat hung from the walls, and shelves were filled with foodstuffs.

Giles reached into the space again and felt nothing.

Buffy stormed over to Huxley and backed him against a counter.

"What the devil was that? Are you trying to hurt us? Because if you are, I'm gonna put a stompy foot on you."

The butler gulped and stared at the furious faces looking back at him. "I told you. I don't know anything about this house. I've never been here before. Yet somehow, I know everything I need to know about the house."

"Right," Spike drawled. "New born babes have nothin' on you. Look, let's just finish the tour and figure out how to get out of here."

"As much as it pains me to agree with Spike, I concur," Giles said. "Let's finish here."

They finished the search quickly, looking at the ballroom, the solarium, the billiard room (where Xander and Anya gazed at the table appreciatively), the library (from which Buffy had to drag Giles), and back to the study.

"Right, now, what do we know?" Xander asked, rubbing his hands together.

"Sod all," came the reply from Spike.

"Yes, well," Giles said dryly. "We know the layout of the house. But, did anyone find anything relating to the murder?"

"I got nothing," Buffy told him. Murmurs of agreement sounded through the room.

"Hey! I just though of something," Dawn cried.

"What is it, Dawnster?" Xander asked.

"What if we aren't the only ones here? Just because we didn't see anyone down here, doesn't mean that someone can't be somewhere else in the house, right? And why should we take that guy's word about anything, including why we're here?"

Giles and Buffy looked at each other and grimaced. 'Why didn't we think of that?'

"Quite right, Dawn. Huxley?" Giles called.

There was no answer.

The group looked around the room. The butler was nowhere to be found.

"Did he come out of the kitchen when we did?" Anya wondered.

Buffy walked over to the table and picked up an envelope that had her name on it.

"Giles? Come here."

"Yes?" he said coming to stand by her.

"Was this here before?"

"No, it wasn't."

Buffy opened the envelope and pulled out a piece of paper. In cutout letters, the paper said,

"Have fun getting out, Slayer. I know I'm having a ball."

"First the butler disappears and then this?" Buffy said apprehensively.

"Uh guys? That's not all we have to worry about," Xander said, standing by the desk.

"What do you mean?" Giles asked.

"The body is gone too."

"What?" Several voices cried.

"Yep, it vamoosed."

Giles walked over to the desk on peered downward. He looked at Buffy and nodded his head.

"Giles, I'm getting worried."

"So am I, my dear. So am I."



NEXT



Chapter Text

Title: Clueless 5/20
Authors: Kim & Jen
Feedback: Oh yes, please! It's our drug of choice.
Disclaimer: We don't, never have, never will. We own our obsession with the G-man. We let them have fun and return them relatively unscathed to the Jossverse. Although, they probably have more fun with us.


Chapter 5/20


"Well I'm not."

Everyone turned and looked at Anya with surprise.

"What?" she said. "I'm not worried. So far, this all seems very juvenile. We've been brought to a house that resembles the mansion in Clue, which you have to admit, isn't a very serious or scary film. Then, we see a body, which may, or may not be someone one of us knows, who may or may not have died in some horrible fashion. Then we have a butler who isn't the least bit intimidating and who seems to have disappeared. Lastly, we have a threatening note that a small child could have assembled from watching old B movies. It seems very amateurish," she sniffed. "I could have planned a much better vengeance if that's what this is."

"A...Anya could be right," Tara agreed. "It does seem like someone is following the plots of a bunch of different scary movies. I...I know we shouldn't underestimate our opponent, whomever that is, but may... maybe we shouldn't overestimate him either."

"Him?" Willow looked at Tara. "Are you sensing something about who this could be?"

"No, j...just for lack of a better term."

"Please let it be a he," Buffy muttered. "I'm tired of petite women who can knock me through walls."

"Aren't we all pet, aren't we all." Spike smirked in response.

Giles cleared his throat. "Well, we aren't getting anywhere standing around here. I suggest we conduct a more thorough search of the house. There may be someone here, and we need to try and find Huxley."

"We should probably split up," Willow suggested. "That way we can cover more ground. Tara and I will start in the kitchen. Maybe we'll find a secret passageway, like in the movie."

Xander's comment that he wanted to search the kitchen was quickly cut off by Anya's elbow in his ribs. "Xander and I will start in the billiard room. I'm sure there are lots of clues in there," Anya said, nodding decisively.

"Yeah, I don't think so. I saw the look you two gave the pool table. Why don't you and Xander start in the ballroom? Then you can look in the billiard room. Giles and I will check the rooms down here towards the back of the house," Buffy offered. "I'd better go with him to make sure he doesn't spend the whole time in the library."

"Yes, because I'm sure I couldn't keep my mind focused on the important matters at hand with all those Danielle Steele novels I saw on the shelves," Giles said dryly as he polished his glasses.

"Guess that leaves me and Lil' Bit here," Spike said. "We can start upstairs and see if there's anything lurkin' about up there."

When Buffy started to protest, Dawn cut her off. "I'm old enough to help, Buffy, and Spike can certainly keep me safe."

"All right," Buffy caved grudgingly. "But," she turned to glare at Spike.

"Yeah, yeah, heard it before, if anything happens to her you'll stake me yourself."

"If one of the rest of us doesn't first," Xander threw in.

Spike rolled his eyes and left the room, Dawn trailing after him.

As everyone else prepared to leave the study, Buffy cautioned, "Yell if you find anything or get into trouble; we'll come running."

"Okay, but make sure that it's a yell for help, not some other sort of yell," Anya threw over her shoulder as she and Xander opened the door into the ballroom room.

*********************

Willow and Tara entered the kitchen. For several minutes, they looked through cupboards and pantries trying to find any clues.

"I bet there's a secret passageway in here," Willow said. "There was one in the movie. We just have to find it."

"Do you remember how they opened it in the movie?" Tara asked. "I think I fell asleep before that part."

"Well, I think it was after the part where they found the cook's body. I'm pretty sure it was Miss Scarlet and Colonel Mustard. Martin Mull is so funny. Anyway, I'm pretty sure it was a meat hook in the freezer. We could yell down the hall for Xander; he has the whole movie memorized. "

"Why don't we start on our own and see how it goes." With some trepidation, Tara approached the freezer door, remembering the jolt Giles had received when he tried the handle. She gingerly reached out her hand and rested it on the handle. A sigh of relief crossed her lips when nothing happened.

Once the door was open, the two stared in. "Gross," Willow commented, looking at the meat that hung on the hooks. "That's enough to make you want to be a vegetarian. I prefer my meat to come in non-animal shaped packages from the store."

"I was a vegetarian for a while." Tara said, as she entered the freezer, shivering at the drop in temperature.

"Really?'

"We used to have chickens. Whenever the baby chicks were born, my older brother would torment me by telling me that we'd be eating them soon enough. I refused to eat any meat from the time I was five until I came to college out here."

Willow remembered her brief encounter with Tara's family darkly. Her older brother certainly hadn't been a winner in the nice department. She still got angry when she thought of Tara growing up thinking she was a demon.

"Why did you start eating meat once you got out here?"

"Dorm food. It's hard to avoid the meat. Although I'm not sure I'm 100% willing to consider it meat. Plus, I think being away from my family helped give me a little--"

"Happiness?" Willow interrupted.

"Perspective was what I was going to say, but you could say happiness."

Each spent the next few minutes pulling on all the meat hooks in the freezer. When that proved unsuccessful, they started moving the foodstuffs on the shelves.

"I know it's got to be in here somewhere," Willow said, her teeth chattering from the cold.

"We've moved just about everything in here. Maybe this isn't exactly like the movie, and there's a lever somewhere else in the kitchen." Tara moved out of the freezer. "We're not accomplishing anything in there other than freezing."

Willow followed and wrapped her arms around Tara. "We should cuddle for body heat."

Tara rested her head on Willow's shoulder, relaxing into her lover's embrace. "This is nice, but it isn't helping us look for clues."

"Yeah," Willow grudgingly acknowledged. "We should probably keep looking. Because I have a feeling that Xander and Anya are not looking for clues. But hey, it's not fair that they're always the ones who get to stop and have smoochies. Why don't' we ever do that?"

"Because we're the mature ones who can focus on the problem at hand?"

"That's right; I'm much more mature than Xander," Willow said, sticking her tongue out in the general direction she assumed Xander to be. Tara wisely said nothing in response.

For the next twenty minutes, the girls devoted their time to searching every inch of the kitchen. They opened cabinets, tried to move lighting fixtures, and even went so far as to look under the sink. Nothing led them to a secret passageway, or any other clues.

Finally, Willow flopped down into a chair. "This is getting us nowhere."

Tara agreed. "Maybe we should try another room. Where did the secret passage in the movie come out?"

"No. I know there's something in this room. We have to find it."

"What makes you so sure that there's something here?" Tara asked.

"I don't know. It's like a buzzing in the back of my head. An itch I can feel, but I don't know what to do about it. I know a spell that I think will help us find it."

"I thought we decided we weren't going to do any spells until we talked to Giles first."

"I don't think we need to wait for Giles. It's a simple little spell that will reveal anything hidden in the room that will show us the secret passageway, and anything else that might be hiding."

"Sweetie, I don't know. I don't think it's such a good idea. You saw what happened to Spike. What if something happens to you when you try it?"

Willow looked scornful. "Nothing is going to happen to me. I'm certainly capable of doing a little spell. It's not anything like the spell I did against Glory and look how that worked."

"We've only looked in one room so far. I think we should save the magic until we don't have any other options. Let's just go look in another room."

"Why do you always tell me not to do magic?" Willow asked, standing up to pace around the room. "You like it too. You like it well enough when we do spells when we're, you know," she said waving her hand to indicate what she meant by 'you know.' "And, and you didn't have a problem when we made the barrier while we were fighting Glory."

"No, Willow, because it was needed then." Tara earnestly tried to explain her position. "There's a time and a place for magic use. The more you use it for everyday things, the harder it gets to live without it."

"I don't want to live without it." Willow's voice was harsh. "It's part of who I am. I thought you loved who I am." She moved closer to Tara, her voice pleading.

Tara extended her hand and took Willow's. "I do love you. But, I just think that sometimes you use magic when you don't need to. It doesn't make me love you any less. I just worry."

Willow angrily pulled her hand away from Tara and stormed to the other end of the kitchen, keeping her back to Tara. "I don't need you to worry. I know what I'm doing. I'm not a child; I don't need someone to scold me for doing magic. I like magic, and it's been very helpful. I think you of all people could recognize that. Or did you like being insane?"

With her last angry outburst, Willow knew she had gone too far. She was afraid to turn around. The seconds of silence ticked into minutes, and still Tara didn't say anything. Finally, gathering her courage Willow turned around, Tara's name on her lips. For a moment, all she could do was stand confused. Tara wasn't there.

"Tara?"



NEXT



Chapter Text

Title: Clueless 6/20
Authors: Kim & Jen
Feedback: Oh yes, please! It's our drug of choice.
Disclaimer: We don't, never have, never will. We own our obsession with the G-man. We let them have fun and return them relatively unscathed to the Jossverse. Although, they probably have more fun with us.


Chapter 6/20


Dawn marched up the stairs, leaving Spike to trail behind her. She stopped on the landing and looked both ways down the long corridor, seeing six doors in one direction and seven doors in the other.

"So, which way do you think?" she asked.

"Makes no never mind to me, seeing as how I don't give a rat's arse about it."

"Ok, then left." She turned in the direction of the six doors and opened the first one she came to.

"You look in the doors on that side, that way it won't take us as long," she ordered.

"Yes, ma'am," he quipped, saluting her. "Are you channeling big sister now? Givin' the orders, marchin' all over?"

"No, but since you said you didn't care, one of us has to."

Spike shrugged his shoulders and followed her lead.

Dawn entered her room cautiously.

The sight of an empty bedroom greeted each of them.

Dawn reached for the light switch and flicked the lever. Light flooded the room, and she sighed in relief. She was as brave (or so she believed) as the others.but searching for who knows what in the dark? Not her idea of a good time.

The dust on the floor rose as she walked across the room. Only one door stood out against the plain white walls. She reached for the door, opening it quickly and jumping out of the way.

She peered around the door and giggled to herself. 'Geez, Dawn. Nothing here and you get spooked by a closet.'

Spike, in turn, strode into his room and gave it a cursory glance.

His vampire-enhanced vision made artificial light unnecessary. He walked to the window and glanced out. He started to turn away when a flicker caught his attention. With the rain and lightning, he gave it little thought until the light shone again. This time, he made note of the location of the flicker to pass along. If nothing else, it would give the others something to check out while he raided the liquor cabinet.

They moved down the hallway with the same results for each. From Spike's side, he could only see the light from the first room. Dawn's search proved less satisfactory. All she found were the dust motes that her feet made and the occasional bug that crawled across the floor.

When they had finished the left side of the hallway, Dawn sat at the top of the stairs to rest. The dust from the rooms was making her eyes water, and she desperately needed fresh air.

Spike leaned against the wall near her, pulling a cigarette out of his pack. He lit it and took a deep breath.

"Can I ask you a question?" Dawn asked.

"Why not?"

"Uh, you don't need to breathe, right?"

"Nope."

"Then why do you smoke? I mean you can't feel the smoke in your lungs, so what's the point? All it does is make your clothes stink."

"The point? Should there be a point?" At Dawn's raised eyebrow, Spike said, "You been hangin' 'round the old man too much. You almost got that glare down."

Dawn glowed from his words, until she realized the real cause of them. "Hey! No changing the subject. I've always wondered, and I want to know."

Spike sighed. "Fine then. But if you tell anyone, I'll have to tell what I saw you and Janice doing when you were supposed to be studying for that big math test."

Dawn paled. "How did you know about that?"

"Niblet, did you think Buffy was going to leave you unguarded with that skank hovering about? If you took a step out of the house in the last four months, I've been your shadow. Didn't you ever notice that nothing messed with you and the kiddies when you took a walk?"

Dawn smiled at her personal guardian angel. He'd kept her safe and she appreciated it.

"Spike, whatever you tell me stays between us. Unless it's really funny, and I just have to tell someone."

"Right then. It goes back to before I became a vampire. I always had to be doing something with my hands. Writing or messing with an instrument or whatever. When Dru sired me, I thought I looked like a ponce doing those things, so I took up smoking."

Dawn giggled at the images he described. She couldn't see Spike writing anything, but she could see him with a guitar strapped on. "Which instrument did you play?"

"Hmm, what?"

"Which instrument? I bet it was a guitar or a piano."

"No, it was a ." he mumbled.

"A what?" Dawn asked again, standing up and moving closer.

"A flute, if you have to know. My mum liked the sound of it, so that's what I played."

Dawn held the giggles inside and gave him a soft smile. The thought that Spike would learn something to make his mother happy was touching. "I promise, Spike. No one will ever hear about it from me. Mom and I used to read to each other, so I know what it's like to have a special memory of her."

"Your mum was a fine lady. Made the best damn cocoa I ever had, too. Not much can be wrong with a lady like that."

Dawn reached up and gave the startled vamp a hug. "Tell you what. She taught me how to make hot chocolate. When we get back, I'll make some for you, ok?"

"She told you the secret? I hounded her for a year for that. Why'd she tell you?"

"Number one, it's a family secret, passed down through the women. Number two; you are not blood family or a woman. So that leaves you out."

Spike pulled away from the girl awkwardly and began walking down the other end of the floor. He had just started to open the door when he remembered.

"Hang on a tick; I did see something down that way."

Dawn quickly changed her course when he grabbed her arm. "It was a light from somewhere outside. Couldn't tell from where, but it flickered a bit."

She bounced happily. "We found something. This is great! I bet the others haven't found squat."

She turned toward Spike, and they started again. They got the same results from the other rooms, except for the light. When Spike had shown it to her, she'd had to open the window and lean out. But she was just able to see it.

The seventh door led to the attic, and Spike didn't want to chance it with just the girl, in case there was something up there.

They headed back for the stairs to report their findings when a thump from above caught their attention. Spike looked up at the ceiling. He didn't hear any other noises, so he reclined against the wall again to have another smoke.

Dawn, however, had no such qualms about the search and went straight for the door.

"What's wrong, Spike? Is the big bad afraid to go up there?"

He didn't answer.

Dawn turned to him to ask the question again, only to see the empty hall and no lingering trace of the smell that she knew should be there.

"Spike? Did you find something else?" she called out, hoping that he would reappear from whichever room he had gone into.

She waited a few minutes until the thump sounded again over her head. She gazed at the ceiling and called his name again. "Spike?"

A third thump sent her scrambling for the stairs and the relative safety of her sister.

"Buffy!!!!"



NEXT



Chapter Text

Title: Clueless 7/20
Authors: Kim & Jen
Feedback: Oh yes, please! It's our drug of choice.
Disclaimer: We don't, never have, never will. We own our obsession with the G-man. We let them have fun and return them relatively unscathed to the Jossverse. Although, they probably have more fun with us.


Chapter 7/20


"Go search the ballroom. You can't look in the billiard room. No, you might have some fun, and we wouldn't want that now that your night is pretty well ruined." Anya mumbled under her breath as she and Xander walked down the hall toward the ballroom. "Buffy always gets to make the rules."

"Why is that exactly?" Her sudden outburst as she spun to face Xander caused him to jump.

Xander had learned to tune Anya's mutterings out as white noise, so he hadn't been paying attention.

"What? Why is what?"

"Why does Buffy get to make all the rules and boss everyone around? I didn't want to search the ballroom, but we are because she said we had to."

"Anya," Xander took on the patient explaining voice he used when dealing with her questions.

"You can't lead a group by committee. Someone has to be the leader, and Buffy's the Slayer. It's her job to be the leader. She leads, we follow, evil is slaughtered, and then there are usually munchies. It all works out."

"You could be the leader occasionally."

"Me?" he barked with laughter. "I am the last person anyone wants leading a group of people. I'm more of the color commentator figure in the group. We all have our roles and so far they've worked out pretty well."

"You could be a leader if you wanted to. You can be very forceful when you want to be." She looked up at him through her eyelashes. "I quite enjoy that sometimes."

"Role playing is one thing An, leading the gang into battle is another. But, uh, I enjoy that too. Let's hurry up and look in the ballroom so we can move right onto the billiard room." Anya's answering smile lit up her face.

"Well how about Giles?" She asked as they got to the ballroom door. "Why isn't he the leader?"

"Because he's Buffy's Watcher. It's his job to be right behind her, backing her up."

"And I suppose it gives him the best vantage point for admiring her rear too," she mused.

"I'm going to try and forget you said that," Xander answered as he pushed open the door.

The air in the room was cooler. Xander fumbled his hand against the wall looking for the light switch. Finally, he found it, and the room was bathed in a golden glow. "Now this, I could get used to." The ballroom was enormous; the lack of furniture only emphasized the cavernous space. Black and white marble floors gleamed by the light of the sconces that lined the walls. The ceiling was an impressive example of molded plaster design. Delicate cream fabric draped the wall panels; adding an air of warmth to the room.

Anya looked around appreciatively. "This reminds me of the Prince of Prussia's ballroom. I attended a masquerade ball of his in the early 1700's. One of the earls was cheating on his wife. She wished for him to be eviscerated. It was a simple wish, but very satisfying," she said fiercely.

He strode further into the room. "I suppose we'd better check the perimeter even if the room looks empty."

Anya saluted smartly. "Yes sir. I love it when you talk like you're in the military."

"Old habit, I suppose. I still say it's too bad we didn't turn into our costumes last year. It would be cool to have James Bond's knowledge in my head."

"Don't even suggest such a thing," Anya shuddered, flashing back to her bunny costume. "I can't think of anything worse than being turned into such an awful creature."

"But you'd be so cute and cuddly," Xander joked, and then danced out of the way as she tried to slap him. "Come on, I'm just kidding. You go that way, and I'll go around this way. It will take less time."

Xander started a counter-clockwise circuit around the room. A layer of dust coated the floor; however, nothing out of the ordinary jumped out at him. Across the room, Anya had stopped and was closely examining the floor. "Xander, come over here. I think I've found something."

Xander crossed the room and knelt next to Anya. She pointed to a patch on the floor. "I think this looks like footprints."

Xander examined the area carefully. It did look like footprints. Upon even closer inspection, it looked like the footprints came out of the wall. It made no sense, but Xander guessed that someone had come out of the wall, stood in place for a few minutes, then turned around and went back into the wall. After a few moments of contemplation, Xander snapped his fingers.

"There must be a secret passageway here, just like in the movie. Now we just have to figure out how to open it."

Anya stood and leaned against the wall. "This is becoming a lot more work than I thought it would be. It's times like these that make me wish I were a vengeance demon again."

"Well, I have to admit I'm glad you're not," Xander said as he started to run his hands along the wall. "There's got to be a seam around here somewhere."

Anya tried jiggling the sconces on the wall. None of them budged an inch. She took a step back and surveyed the wall, trying to find anything out of place. She then turned and scanned the rest of the room, looking for discrepancies. Finally, she realized that there were two small tables flanking the panel Xander was now trying to pry open with a fireplace poker he'd found. A small candelabrum rested on each table. She walked over and started pulling candles at random out of the candelabra. When that didn't achieve the desired effect, she tried to move the candelabra itself. The whole thing bent forward and Anya heard a clicking sound. The panel Xander was prodding swung into the room, knocking Xander off balance.

Xander looked at the panel, and then at Anya, who still had her hand on the candelabra. "That is too cliché," he said.

"What is?"

He gestured at the candelabra. "That. You know. 'Put ze candle beck'," he said, with a horrible Transylvanian accent. "How many more movies are they going to steal ideas from?"

"We can worry about that later. Let's see where this passageway goes, and who's been using it."

Xander picked up the poker, held it in front of him and motioned Anya to stay behind him. His face was grim as he hesitated before entering the passageway. "Yes, let's hope there's someone on the other end."

Anya grabbed a candle and lit it with a match from the table. She stayed close to her boyfriend, following him into the dark corridor.

The passageway was dark, the gloom lifted by a very faint glow. "It's just as well we can't see very well; there are probably cobwebs everywhere. Places like this are never kept up," Anya reflected.

After a few minutes of walking and several turns, they reached the end of the passageway. Xander located the lever to open the panel in front of them. Before he opened the door, he turned to look at Anya and say, "Stay close to the candle; the stairway can be treacherous."

Anya rolled her eyes at him.

The door swung open on silent hinges and revealed that they were in the billiard room. They were the only ones there.

"Damn, it was probably too much to expect that our captor would be here," Xander grumbled.

"We should probably go tell Buffy and the others what we've found."

"I don't think we need to be in such a hurry," Anya protested. "Buffy said we should search this room, and there's a huge pool table over there just waiting to be searched."

"Anya, we need to tell them about the footprints. And I should go back and look at them a little closer; something is nagging at me about them."

"Well I'm going to be nagging at you soon if you go running off to find everyone else."

Xander looked indecisive for a minute. He weighed the need to share their discovery against his fiancée's pleading features. Finally, he admitted to himself that he would rather spend some 'quality time' with Anya before the rest of the night disintegrated into fighting whoever had locked them here.

"If you insist, I think I could squeeze you in for about twenty minutes."

Anya smirked at him, "Twenty minutes? I didn't say I wanted to do it twice."

Fifteen minutes later, Xander was buttoning his shirt. He looked at his ladylove and said, with a smile on his face, "Empty again. Only the sticky parts left."

Anya had smoothed out her skirt and was still reclining on the pool table, shirt off, with a contented smile on her face when they heard Dawn's frantic cry for Buffy. Xander ran out the door as Anya reached for her shirt.



NEXT



Chapter Text

Title: Clueless 8/20
Authors: Kim & Jen
Feedback: Oh yes, please! It's our drug of choice.
Disclaimer: We don't, never have, never will. We own our obsession with the G-man. We let them have fun and return them relatively unscathed to the Jossverse. Although, they probably have more fun with us.


Chapter 8/20


After the others left the room, Giles bent to retrieve the baseball bat. As he stood, he saw Buffy guiltily whip her head around to look in a different direction. Smiling knowingly, he walked behind her and touched her arm.

She jumped slightly and giggled at her response, leaning against him.

"Giles, what do you really think is going on here?"

"I must say that Anya's point of view about this being revenge of some kind has distinct merit. However, I can't help but feel that there is an underlying menace to the situation. On the surface, the surroundings, the body, the note, all seem amateurish, but someone went to an awful lot of trouble to do all of this for a mere practical joke," he said, waving his hand around the room.

"It's a good thing I pulled out my Giles-to-English dictionary, huh? I actually got all that."

Giles snorted softly and rubbed her arm.

"I know. There's something just out of reach. If I didn't know that he was still in that detention facility, I would swear that it was Ethan," Buffy replied.

"You're right. This does seem exactly like what he would do. How do we know that he is, in fact, still detained?"

"I…I don't know. They would have let us know, wouldn't they?"

"This is a covert branch of the military, Buffy. They were not your biggest fans when they left, and I know of nothing that would have changed their ideas about you."

"I destroyed their secret project and probably saved a bunch of lives. Yeah, why should they like me?"

Giles pulled her to the sofa and sat facing her, clasping her hands. "Buffy, you should be proud of the way you handled that situation. You show an amazing amount of courage each night and have saved the world more times than you should have had to. They should be in front of you, on bended knee, thanking you. Those berks should hold you as the highest example, and yet they simply packed up and moved on, not caring about the repercussions of their actions and the possible response the demons could have had. We were very lucky that none of the demons decided to take advantage in the aftermath."

"You think way too much of me," Buffy said, smiling at him. "Giles?"

"Yes?"

"What's a berk?"

Giles started at the indelicate turn of phrase he had used. `After all, I still haven't answered her when she asked what a stevedore was.'

"Never you mind that. I shouldn't have said that," he said, blushing.

"But, what is it?"

"Buffy, I will not be telling you what it is. Maybe when you are older, I will."

Buffy's eyes widened. "That bad?"

"It rather is."

"Oh." Sensing the turn from the heavy conversation they had been having, Buffy decided to lighten the mood even more. "Could you show me one some day?"

Giles' color deepened. He moved off the couch and drew her with him. He didn't answer her, but she heard him mutter, "I haven't the equipment." Louder, he cleared his throat and suggested that they begin their search.

They walked slowly around the room, picking up objects and inspecting them. Giles lifted frames from the walls. The largest of the pictures wouldn't lift. Just as he started to call Buffy over to help him, it swung away from the wall.

A door-sized opening cut into the wall lay before him.

"Buffy," he called to get her attention from her position of looking under the couch.

She straightened and grinned at him. "Way to go, Watcherman. Wanna see where it goes?"

"Let's," he said entering the opening. Buffy grabbed his arm and pulled him back.

"Let me go first. In case there's something in there," she told him. Not being able to resist the temptation, she added, "Plus, my eyes are better."

Giles rolled his eyes at her quip. He stood back, bowing deeply and said, "After you, my lady."

As she passed him, she ran her fingers down his arm and replied, "Not yet, but if you play your cards right, I will be."

He smiled widely and followed her.

They walked a short distance before the floor began to slope downward. Giles kept one hand on the wall as they progressed through the darkened passage. He felt the wall give way to nothingness as they entered another chamber.

"Do you think that you will be able to use your superior eyesight to find a light switch?" Giles asked her.

Buffy giggled. "I already have."

He heard her move away and the sound of a switch being thrown. A cavernous area appeared before them. Boxes and crates were stacked along the walls. A roaring furnace sat in one corner of the room, heating the space comfortably.

"The cellar. I hadn't planned on coming down here yet, but we may as well inspect it," Giles said.

Buffy nodded and began to look through the boxes. Giles moved to the other side of the room and searched the crates.

Canned foods, blankets, and various other household supplies lined the boxes. Buffy looked at the items carefully, an idea forming in her head.

"Giles, do really think this is another dream, or could we really be here?"

Giles thought for a moment before replying.

"I suppose that a case could be made in either direction. If this is the work of a spell and we are actually here, an enormous amount of power would have to be behind it. It would be easier for the caster if it were a dream. Why do you ask?"

"Because this is an awful lot of food and supplies for a dream," she said, drawing him over to the boxes.

Giles peered into the boxes and sighed. "I fear you are right."

"Do you think you could…?" Buffy started before changing her mind.

"Could what?"

"Nothing," Buffy sighed and continued. "I know that you don't like to do magic unless you have to. But…"

"Buffy, any ideas may be helpful. Now, tell me."

"Is there a way to kind of like reach out and see if there is magic floating in the air? Not an actual spell, but can you get a sense of it?"

"There may be. I'm rather surprised Willow didn't suggest it before."

"You and me, both. Can you do it without supplies?"

Giles pondered the question. "If I were already familiar with the magic of the caster, it would be simple. If not, it would be more difficult, but nothing that Willow, Tara, and I couldn't manage."

"But, what about what happened with Spike? Could doing this make something else happen?"

Giles sighed. "I believe that it will be perfectly safe. I am not performing an actual spell, so nothing untoward should happen. Do you trust me?"

"With my life, Giles. You know that."

Their eyes met, and Giles held his breath at the feeling he saw in Buffy's gaze. For her part, Buffy felt like the air around them was charged with electricity. For just a moment, she was convinced that Giles was going to kiss her.

Just as her eyelids started to flutter closed, a scream wrenched them apart.

"Buffy!!!"

"That's Dawn," Buffy said.

"Let's go."



NEXT



Chapter Text

Title: Clueless 9/20
Authors: Kim & Jen
Feedback: Oh yes, please! It's our drug of choice.
Disclaimer: We don't, never have, never will. We own our obsession with the G-man. We let them have fun and return them relatively unscathed to the Jossverse. Although, they probably have more fun with us.


Chapter 9/20


As Xander ran out of the room, he saw Dawn tearing down the stairs. She flung herself into his arms, shaking.

Buffy and Giles spilled into the hallway to see Dawn wrapped in Xander's arms. They reached Dawn and stood panting slightly from a combination of fear and exertion. "Dawnie, what's wrong?" "Spike," was all Dawn managed to get out before Buffy cut her off.

"Spike? Did he hurt you? I'm so going to stake him this time." Fear for her sister was making Buffy shout.

Disentangling herself from Xander, Dawn grabbed Buffy's arm to stop her from heading toward the stairs. "No, Buffy, he didn't hurt me. He disappeared."

"Disappeared?" Giles asked.

"We were upstairs, checking out the rooms. I heard a noise in the attic as I was going to the door. I turned around to see if Spike was coming and he wasn't there."

"Well maybe he decided to try and leave again. I wouldn't put it past him," Xander suggested.

"Hey," Dawn protested. "Spike would not just leave like that. We were getting ready to come downstairs and let you guys know what we found when we heard the noises. Something captured him, and we have to find him."

"Dawn, calm down, we'll find him." Buffy reassured her. "Let's just think about this for a minute."

"You said you found something?" Giles asked.

Dawn turned to him. "Yes," she squealed, her distress momentarily forgotten. "We saw a light out on the grounds through one of the upstairs windows. We could only see it from one of the bedrooms, and I had to lean out pretty far to see it."

"Hmmm, obviously someone can be out on the grounds without teleporting back into the mansion," Giles mused. "It bears checking out."

Not to be outdone, Xander chimed in. "Anya and I found a clue too. We found footprints in the ballroom that led into a secret passage. It came out in the billiard room. We were going to come and tell you, but decided we might as well search the billiard room while we were there." "Where is Anya?" Buffy asked.

Xander flushed. "Oh, she's right behind me. We were, um, searching, and then when we were finished, um, searching, we heard Dawn yell, and I ran out here while she, you know," he trailed off in the face of their knowing stares.

Giles raised an eyebrow. "Yes, well, why don't you go and, er, see if she's recuperated from searching, and is able to join us; best not to be separated until we figure out what's going on."

They watched as Xander walked over to the billiard room door. He opened it and poked his head in. "An, hon, are you dec=85, ah, ready?" he called with a quick glance back over his shoulder at his audience. "An?" he called again, then walked into the room when he didn't receive an answer.

A moment later, he stepped back out into the hall, all traces of his usual joking self, gone. "She's not here."

Buffy stepped toward him, hand outstretched. "Maybe she heard something and went back into the passageway?"

Xander shook his head. "Why would she do that without telling us? Something's happened."

Buffy shot a quick look at Giles. The situation was starting to get out of hand. "We'll just have to look for her."

"Hey," Dawn broke in, "what about Spike?"

"I certainly think finding Anya is more important than finding him," Xander argued.

Further argument broke off when a door slammed against a wall down the hallway and Willow yelled for Buffy.

Realizing that Willow's tone meant more problems, Buffy briefly let her shoulders slump as she turned to her best friend. "Why does everyone always yell for me?" she mumbled under her breath.

Giles, overhearing her complaint, bent his head so only she could hear. "I believe that goes along with the territory for the Chosen one."

She quirked a mock glare at him. "If you break out that one girl in all the world speech right now, you're in trouble."

He merely smiled in reply.

Feeling somewhat lightened by the exchange, Buffy determinedly moved toward Willow who was rushing from the kitchen. Buffy was surprised when Willow flung herself into her arms.

"Will, what's wrong?" she asked the girl sobbing in her arms.

"We had a fight." Giles stepped forward. "You and Tara fought someone, are you all right? What was it? Where's Tara?"

Willow raised her head from Buffy's shoulder, sniffling. "No, Tara and I had a fight with each other." "I'm sure everything will be okay. You can apologize and make up," Buffy offered.

"Yeah," Xander agreed, "If Anya has taught me anything, it's that groveling is a major part of any relationship."

"But you don't understand. She's gone," Willow wailed.

"Did she get mad and leave?" Dawn asked.

"I don't know. She's just not there."

"Willow," Buffy said, taking Willow's face in her hands to get her attention. "Try to calm down and tell us everything that happened."

Willow briefly outlined the events leading up to Tara's disappearance, leaving out the exact reason for the fight. When she finished, Dawn was the first to speak. "Great, now we've lost three people so far. Four, if you count Cheesehead." "We don't," Buffy stated.

"Three?" Willow was confused until she looked around and counted heads. "Anya and Spike are missing too?" "Yes," Giles replied. "If things weren't bad enough, now we have to search for our missing friends. I suppose we should start with Anya since she disappeared close by=85"

"No, we have to find Tara first! I have to find her!" Willow yelled.

Xander's face turned red. "Why is Tara more important than Anya? Just because she annoys you=85" Dawn put her fingers in her mouth and whistled. "Stop it!"

Everyone quieted, and Willow asked, "Have you figured anything out about it yet?" "No," Giles answered. "We hadn't had time to formulate any theories when you appeared, but my guess is that someone is targeting us one by one. We must be extremely cautious going forward."

Willow started pacing. Buffy didn't think she was moving that fast, but her hair was starting to fly around her face. "If someone has hurt Tara," she trailed off ominously. Again, Buffy was uncertain but thought for just a moment Willow's eyes had gone completely black. Shaking her head, certain her eyes were playing tricks on her, she put a placating hand on Willow's shoulder.

"We'll find them. We'll find all of them," she said, looking at Xander, who was huffing impatiently at Willow. "We just need to make a plan instead of going running through the house so the rest of us can get picked off."

"Excellent idea, Buffy," Giles' said approvingly. "What is your suggestion?"

"Well, first, I think we should go and investigate the noises Dawn heard in the attic." At Willow and Xander's noises of protest, she held up her hand. "Then, we can check out the kitchen and the billiard room. But experience has taught me that things that go bump in the night generally aren't friendly. So it's a good place to start."

As a group, they started moving toward the stairs.



NEXT



Chapter Text

Title: Clueless 10/20
Authors: Kim & Jen
Feedback: Oh yes, please! It's our drug of choice.
Disclaimer: We don't, never have, never will. We own our obsession with the G-man. We let them have fun and return them relatively unscathed to the Jossverse. Although, they probably have more fun with us.


Chapter 10/20


As they ascended the stairs, Buffy kept looking over her shoulder.

At first, Giles thought she was trying to communicate something to him. The third time her eyes passed over him, he called the group to a halt on the landing.

"Buffy, are you alright?" he asked.

The others looked from Giles to Buffy.

"I don't know. I keep getting the feeling that someone is watching us. I can't sense any one thing. It's just that feeling."

Xander nodded. "You mean like that feeling when you're in a crowd, and people look at you funny and it turns out that you have toilet paper stuck to your shoe?"

As the group stared at him, he sighed. "Okay, I guess that only happens to me."

Buffy shook her head and said, "No, not that. More like a painting with eyes that follow you no matter where you stand."

"Oooh, I hate that one," Willow replied. "That twitchy niggle in the back of your head."

The group progressed up the stairs not seeing the eyes blink in the painting they just passed.

They stopped at the head of the stairs and Dawn faced them.

Pointing to the left, she said, "There are six bedrooms that way and six in the other direction. The seventh door goes to the attic, but we never had the chance to go up. Spike wanted to get you guys before we checked it out. I wanted to go without you. When I turned back around, he was gone."

"Show us the light first," Buffy ordered.

Dawn strode to the door and walked in the room. She opened the window and looked out.

"Huh. It's gone now."

Giles leaned out of the window and glanced around. As he started to lean back into the room, he saw it.

"Dawn, is this your light?"

Dawn took his place at the window and bounced. "That's it!"

"If we are able to make our way onto the grounds, we should be able to find it again," he told the others. "Now, show us the attic, if you please."

Dawn led them out of the bedroom and down the hall to the proper door. Buffy opened it and peered up the steps. She looked over her shoulder at Giles, and he nodded.

Motioning Dawn and Xander to stay at the doorway, he pointed for Willow to join Buffy and himself. Taking point, Buffy crept quietly up the stairs. Willow followed her lead, as did Giles.

As soon as her head cleared the floor of the attic, Buffy stopped and gazed at the room.

It was empty. There were no obstructions for anyone to hide behind. She walked up the remaining steps and looked around. When Giles and Willow joined her, they were silent.

"Ok, could it have been her imagination?" Willow asked.

"Probably not," Buffy answered. "If it had been, there would have been creepy bodies floating in mid air pointing the way."

While Giles and Willow searched the space, Buffy moved back to the stairs and called Xander and Dawn to join them.

They heard the reassuring clomp of footsteps before they saw them.

"Dawn, are you sure it came from here?" Giles questioned.

"Yes. It came from above our heads. This is the only place it could have been."

They wandered around the room looking at the nothing that surrounded them. All drew up short when Willow squealed.

"Footprints!"

Xander told the others to stay back as he went over to her. He bent over the prints and said, "These are just like the ones in the ballroom. Boots, of some kind."

Buffy did a double take over his shoulder and replied, "I know that tread. Those are military boots."

Giles stared at Buffy, their previous conversation coming back to them. She shrugged her shoulders.

"It figures they'd return. I knew it was too good to last."

"Who Buff?" Willow asked.

"Who else, Will? The Initiative."

*******************

When they regrouped at the top of the stairs in the hallway, they were subdued.

"Why would they come back now? It's all quiet on the Hellmouth front," Xander inquired.

"Because they can, they got bored doing nothing, take your pick," Dawn answered.

"We do not know if it is the Initiative. Those types of boots can be bought in numerous stores. We mustn't jump to any conclusions, as of yet," Giles told them.

"Giles is right. Let's look for Anya and Tara, first. Will, did you guys find anything in the kitchen?" Buffy asked.

"Nope, we were looking for the secret passageway like in the movie. We hadn't gotten much past that when we started arguing."

"Dare I ask what this argument concerned?" Giles requested.

Willow looked everywhere but at him. "I took the spell ingredients from the table, and I wanted to try a spell to see if it would show us any hidden doors. Tara wanted to wait for you, but I wanted to go ahead."

"Willow," Giles said harshly. "You should have placed them in the cabinet with the other weapons. Need I remind you want happened to Spike? We have no idea where we are, no means of communication with the outside, and no way of knowing exactly how long we may be here. All of our resources must be conserved until they needed. May I please have the ingredients?"

Willow handed them over with a pout and stomped down the stairs. "First Tara, then you. Why do people treat me like a wayward child?"

"Will," Buffy said harshly, as they followed her down, "when you act like a child, you have to expect to be treated as one."

"Oh, says the person who uses that patented pout and quivering lip to get out of training," Willow replied with sarcasm.

"Training is one matter. Life and possible death is another, and Buffy has never pouted her way out of an apocalypse," Giles told her softly as they re-entered the study.

"I know. I'm sorry, Buff. I just… I want Tara back."

Buffy reached for Willow's hand and squeezed gently. "I know you do. But attacking everyone who sees things differently than you do isn't helping us. Right now, we have to be in full Scooby mode to get out of this."

Xander cleared his throat. "Well, I want Anya back too, so let's get cracking. Since we're here, did you find anything?" he asked Giles and Buffy.

"Yes, there is a passage to the cellar from here," Giles replied, walking over to the portrait and showing them the opening.

"And we found…?"

"Boxes of food, blankets, household stuff. We shouldn't go hungry any time soon," Buffy told him as everyone sat down.

"Good. Always a plus. Dawn?"

"The light and the sounds from the attic. That's it."

"Will?"

"Nothing, like I said."

"Okay," Xander said rubbing his hands together gleefully. "Anya and I found another passage from the ballroom to the billiard room and the footprints. Is anything striking any chords with anyone?"

After a few moments where they all stared thoughtfully, trying to make sense of what they had learned so far, Xander sighed. "I got nothing. I was hoping something would jump out."

"It's all random facts right now," Willow agreed.

"Well I'm not going to sit around here and wait for inspiration to strike," Buffy declared, rising to her feet. "Without more information, we don't know what we're up against. We need to pick a direction and head that way."

"Buffy is right. Perhaps we should investigate the disappearances further. If we begin where the person disappeared, we may learn more." Giles followed Buffy's lead and stood up.

"Tara first," Willow declared adamantly as Xander started to argue in Anya's favor.

"Enough!" Buffy shouted. "We can start with Tara, but we are not forgetting about Anya," she said, not wanting to see another display of Willow's temper. "Guess that means we're headed back to the kitchen."

Xander pushed off from the table he had been leaning against. "Maybe we can find something to snack on while we're in there," he grumbled as he led the group from the room.

************

The portrait door closed quietly after they left.

"That was close. I thought they might go back down to the cellar."

"As did I," came the response.

"What's next?"

"Let them stew for a bit. Then, we'll move to phase three."



NEXT



Chapter Text

Title: Clueless 11/20
Authors: Kim & Jen
Feedback: Oh yes, please! It's our drug of choice.
Disclaimer: We don't, never have, never will. We own our obsession with the G-man. We let them have fun and return them relatively unscathed to the Jossverse. Although, they probably have more fun with us.


Chapter 11/20


Xander beat them all to the kitchen, his worries momentarily forgotten to the lure of food. When the others arrived, he was opening cabinet doors looking for something to eat.

"I'm sure that Tara's hiding in one of the cabinets, Xander," Dawn remarked sarcastically. She was a little irritated that no one showed any interest in finding Spike and had decided to take it out on everyone.

"I'm not looking for Tara. I'm looking for this," he said, pulling a loaf of bread and a jar of peanut butter out of the cabinet.

"Xander, we don't have time for food. We have to find Tara." Willow's voice began to creep up the scale as she expressed her irritation.

"All I'm saying is that I find it hard to search on an empty stomach. And look, it's gourmet peanut butter."

"I'd hardly call `Jif' gourmet," Dawn sniffed.

"Speaks the lucky child who has never had to settle for generic peanut butter." Xander started opening drawers looking for a knife. "You guys look around for Tara, and I'll make everyone a sandwich."

"Fine," Dawn said. "As long as it's not monkey brains. Oh," she perked up for a minute, "maybe there's milk in the refrigerator."

"That's the spirit, Dawnster."

Buffy rolled her eyes at her sister and Xander. Sensing that Willow was about to fly apart, she walked over to a tall door. "Did you look in here for a secret passageway Will?"

"Yeah, that's the broom closet. We didn't find anything in there."

"It doesn't hurt to check it again," Buffy said. When she pulled the door open, a figure fell out of the closet and sprawled on the floor.

"Giles," Buffy called, "You'd better come look at this."

Hearing the note of concern in Buffy's voice, everyone came over to look. They all stared at the figure on the floor, a butcher's knife sticking out of its back.

"Hey," Willow exclaimed, "that's…"

"Huxley," Giles said at the same time Xander said "Cheese guy."

"Is he dead?" Dawn asked.

Giles stooped to check Huxley's pulse. "Yes," he said straightening up, "he is dead."

"Huh," Buffy said, as they all stared down at the corpse at their feet.

Finally, Xander turned back to the peanut butter sandwiches he had made. "Who wants a sandwich?"

"Me." Buffy took one from him. "That popcorn we had back home has long since disappeared."

Willow absently took a sandwich as she moved across the room towards the freezer again. Even Giles broke down and took a sandwich.

"Guys," Dawn called. "Are you just going to leave him laying there? Don't you guys care that he's dead?"

Buffy met Giles' eyes before looking at Willow and Xander in turn. Pondering for a minute, she finally answered, "Nope, don't really care."

"I'm not going to do a jig or anything," Xander offered, "but he and his buddy the First Slayer did try to kill us last year."

"Strangely," Giles agreed, walking over to help Willow, "I, too, find myself unmoved."

Dawn shook her head. She wasn't sure the evening could get any weirder. For a moment, she thought longingly back to the days when she merely tormented Buffy and was never invited along anywhere.

Buffy stepped over Huxley and entered the broom closet. She thought she saw something toward the back. Kneeling down, she realized that she was seeing a sliver of light where the back wall met the floor. "I think I found something." She knocked on the back wall and noticed that it sounded hollow. "Maybe the secret passageway." For a moment, she considered her options, and then moved to stand perpendicular to the wall. Just as she leaned back to deliver a side kick, Giles entered the closet and grabbed her arm, pulling her off balance.

She fell against him, and his arms instinctively went around her to keep them both from crashing to the floor. Her head buried in Giles' chest, Buffy relished the feeling of his arms around her for a split second before she remembered he was the reason she had almost fallen. "What did you do that for?" she asked, pushing out of his arms. "I was going to open the secret passageway."

"Given that there is someone or several someone's in this house, and we don't know where they are, it might be best if we don't announce our presence by crashing through walls."

Buffy looked sheepish. "I suppose you might have a point. You take that wall, and I'll look on this one."

Willow watched them from the door of the closet while they looked for the trigger to open the passage. Her frustration grew the longer they looked. She knew she shouldn't jump in, but she had to find Tara. "Aperio," she said, gesturing towards the passage. It opened slowly at her command.

Giles turned to look at her, a stern glare on his face. "What did you do?"

Willow glared back defiantly. "You were taking too long. We have no idea what's happening to Tara. Did you expect me to just stand around and wait when I knew I could open the door?"

"Yes, that's exactly what I expect you to do, Willow. Buffy and I are trying to make decisions in everyone's best interest. Just as I pointed out to Buffy, we can't go running blindly through the house drawing attention to ourselves. If we are to learn what is going on, we need to discover who is doing this to us. The very fact that three of us have disappeared without a sound while someone's back is turned leads me to believe that magic is involved. Your little spell just alerted whoever is using magic here to the fact that we have found this passageway, thereby destroying any element of surprise we had gained."

Willow met his eyes but couldn't come up with a response. Finally, she looked away. "Sorry," she mumbled.

Buffy came up and took Willow in her arms. "I know you're upset, Will. So is Xander. We all are. But, we have to do this the right way, or we could be stuck here for a long time. I'm sure we're going to need your magic later, but let's try to do this Giles' way right now. Okay?"

Willow swiped her eyes with the back of her hand. "All right. I'll try not to do it again."

Xander spoke at that moment, wisely choosing to ignore the drama that had just occurred. "We might as well figure out where this passageway goes."

Buffy nodded. "First, we arm ourselves again. Giles, would you…?"

Giles left the room and returned with the bat and the battle-axe.

He handed the axe to Xander and gripped the bat tightly.

Giving Willow one last squeeze, Buffy moved toward the passageway to take point. Giles followed closely behind. Xander motioned Dawn into the closet between Willow and himself so he could bring up the rear.

The passage went straight for about thirty feet before it turned sharply to the right. After following it another hundred feet, they came to a staircase. Quietly, Buffy started up the stairs; at the top was a door. Buffy found the latch and pushed the door open a fraction of an inch. Seeing that the room appeared to be empty, she pushed the door the rest of the way open and stepped through. Giles followed.

"It's the attic again," she sounded disappointed. "I'm beginning to get a little peeved that we're not finding anyone."

"You just want to make with the knocking of heads so you can get some answers," Xander said, as he was the last to enter the attic.

"True," Buffy admitted. "It would make me feel a little better."

At that moment, the door behind Xander slammed closed, and a door on the other side of the attic opened. Six vampires in game face poured into the room.

"You just had to jinx us, didn't you?" Dawn asked.

Buffy immediately snapped into a fighting stance. "Xander," she barked, "Protect Dawn."

As the first vampire reached her, she kicked it in the face with a roundhouse, causing it to stumble against the vampire behind it. She met the third vampire by tucking her shoulder and using its momentum to throw it over her back. The fourth vampire, however, had time to get in a punch to her face as she stood from the throw. Seeing that the Slayer was engaged, the last two vampires gave the fight a wide berth and charged towards Xander and Willow.

Giles stepped into their path and cracked one of them in the side of the head with the baseball bat. He engaged the last vampire, and they began trading blows. The vampire ripped the bat from his hands and threw it to the side.

The vampire that Buffy had thrown climbed to his feet. He saw Willow standing nearby and decided she made a much easier meal. At its approach, Willow realized she did not have anything with which to defend herself. Hoping that Giles would forgive yet another transgression, she concentrated for a moment, then made a releasing gesture with her hand. "Incendo." Flames licked at the vampire. Surprise showed on its face a moment before it disappeared.

While Giles was occupied with his vampire, the one he hit with the baseball bat got up and approached from behind. "Giles, look out!" Xander yelled. Telling Dawn to stay put, he swung the axe at the vampire. Missing, both crashed to the floor and began to roll around, struggling for dominance.

Buffy circled, trying to keep the three vampires in front of her. "Come on boys, no waiting in the express lane. Who wants to be dust first?"

With a roar, one of the vamps launched at her. She struck a blow to its stomach and followed with a knee to the face when it bent over in pain. Pulling the stake from her sleeve, she shoved it into the vampire's back. Instead of turning to dust, however, the vampire shimmered and disappeared.

`Huh,' she thought, `That's a new one.' Her musings were interrupted as she was tackled from the side. Smashing her fist into the vamp's face, she managed to get her feet under him and flip him over her. She used the momentum to flip herself to her feet, just in time to meet the last vampire's attack. This vampire was big, over six and a half feet tall and must have weighed over 250 pounds. "Is there a professional football team missing a defensive back?" she quipped, sidestepping a punch. The vampire merely growled. When Buffy punched him in the stomach, the vampire didn't even flinch. Thinking that it was going to be one of those fights, Buffy didn't dodge fast enough when he grabbed her by the arm and pulled her to him. Twisting, Buffy put her back to the vampire and tried to throw him, but didn't have enough leverage to complete the maneuver. The vampire pulled her up against him and began to choke the air out of her with his arm across her throat. Scrambling for a way to break the hold, Buffy finally stomped on his instep, causing the vampire to loosen his grip slightly. That gave her enough room to step forward and swing a backward kick that took out the vamp's knee. He dropped to the floor just as the second vampire rushed her again. Buffy blocked a punch and threw one of her own. There was a satisfying crunch when her fist connected with the vampire's jaw. The vampire staggered back, slightly stunned, and she used that opportunity to plunge the stake into his chest. Again, he shimmered and disappeared.

As she turned to the behemoth vampire behind her, Buffy noted that Giles and Xander were both still fighting hand to hand with their respective vampires. Neither had a stake or sword to end the fight, and Xander had lost his weapon. At that moment, the remaining three vampires shimmered and disappeared. Xander's hand hit the wall when the vampire was not there to meet his punch. "Ow," he yelled, shaking his hand. "That was rude."

"Is everyone all right?" Buffy asked.

Giles was bent over with his hands on his knees, breathing heavily. He looked up at Buffy, and she saw that he had several bruises, but seemed to be all right. "I'll be fine once I catch my breath," he said.

Xander had a cut over his eye and was still massaging his hand. "Since when do vampires just disappear? Are they too good for dust now?"

"Magic," Willow said as she assured Buffy she was fine. "It was some sort of projection."

Buffy looked around frantically, "Where's Dawn?"

*****************

In another part of the house, a figure stood watching the action in a large mirror. Whispering a word, he waved his hand, and the scene in the attic disappeared. "That was fun," he remarked, turning to face the rest of the people in the room. "Don't you all think so? Oh that's right," he taunted, "you can't answer right now."

Chained to the walls and gagged, Spike, Tara, Anya, and Dawn could do nothing but glare.



NEXT



Chapter Text

Title: Clueless 12/20
Authors: Kim & Jen
Feedback: Oh yes, please! It's our drug of choice.
Disclaimer: We don't, never have, never will. We own our obsession with the G-man. We let them have fun and return them relatively unscathed to the Jossverse. Although, they probably have more fun with us.


Chapter 12/20


"Well, my pretties, are we having fun yet?"

Spike tugged on his chains again, to the delight of their captor.

"Now, now, there will be none of that, William." At Spike's surprised looked, he laughed.

"Oh yes. I know all about you. My associates thought it advisable that I be well versed in your exploits. And you," he said, moving in front of Anya. "Don't you wish you were still a vengeance demon?"

When Anya growled, he moved on to Tara. "You, my dear. I don't remember you. Was this to be your initiation into the gang? Or are you just along for the ride? I smell power all over you; such a sweet fragrance. It reminds me of the old days."

He stepped back from them, as if looking for a connection. Then he walked to Dawn.

"You are the unknown here. I know who you are supposed to be, but you aren't. Who are you, or, should I ask, what are you?"

With a wave of his hand, Dawn's gag came off.

"You are so gonna regret this, mister. When my sister finds you, she's gonna make you sorry that you ever laid a hand on me. I promise you, you're gonna…"

With another wave of his hand, Dawn's voice disappeared. Her lips were still moving, but no sound emerged.

"Your sister? Ah, yes, our lovely Slayer. You're Dawn, of course. I definitely want to know more about you. The last time I was in Sunnydale... Tell me, what would happen if I were to do this?"

He lifted his hand to run a finger down her cheek. At the first contact of skin, he flew away from her and crashed into the door. He slowly picked himself up and stared at Dawn.

"What the hell are you playing at, little girl? How did you do that? You can't. Those restraints prevent any magic. What are you?"

Dawn smiled smugly and kept her lips shut.

"Play nice with each other. I'll be back."

Before he left, he motioned at Dawn again. Her gag flew back into place. Her muffled cries of renewed anger relieved the others that their captor had done no damage to her.

After he closed the door, he stalked to a handheld radio. "Get your bloody boss down here now. I have questions, and I want them answered, or he can finish this without me. Good."

He sighed, sitting in the chair at the desk. He watched his captives through the mirror. His gaze particularly fell on Dawn. To do that to him without even trying? She was an untapped source of power that he couldn't pass over. He wondered how his request would be answered.

At the sound of footsteps on the stairs, Ethan Rayne stood and waited for his associate to arrive.

*********************

The group looked frantically around the room. Xander raced to the door and yelled for Dawn down the stairs.

Buffy called to Xander before he could rush down the stairs.

"Take Willow with you. Hold each other's hands if you have to, but don't lose contact. And Will," Buffy smiled, "Nice job on the vamp."

"Uh, really? Because I thought that because of before, with the magic…"

"Willow, you must be allowed to protect yourself. It's not like you were on double secret probation," Giles said.

As the others stared at him, Giles replied, "What? I'm not allowed to quote movies?"

Willow grinned, then turned and followed Xander, who was shaking his head in admiration, down the stairs that led to the kitchen.

"Giles, what are we going to do now?" Buffy asked. "These people are picking us off like flies, together or apart. We have to figure out some way to stop this."

"I know, but right now our hands are tied. I really am at a loss."

"And we keep losing more. Come on; let's look for Dawn."

They turned to the door and left the empty attic.

They made their way to the second floor, checking the walls for hidden openings.

When they reached the landing, Buffy's gaze darted around the hallway, wishing that something would jump out at her.

Giles, seeing her agitation, walked up behind her and wrapped his arms around her. She sighed and leaned against him, accepting the solace that she needed to clear her mind and think rationally. Giles rested his cheek on her head and held her closer.

She turned in his arms, snaked her arms under his, and buried her head in his chest. They stood motionless for a few minutes before Giles pulled away.

"Giles, what…?"

Giles held up his hand for quiet. He looked around the hallway, slowly shaking his head. He walked to the staircase and began to descend. Buffy followed him, making as little noise as possible.

When he reached the landing of the second floor, his gaze roamed the walls. Not finding what he was looking for, he continued until he stopped at the turn of the stairs.

Buffy saw the painting hanging on the wall. She looked at Giles and he nodded his head.

She walked to the painting and put her hand against it. With the slightest touch, the painting moved. She swung it away from the wall and shrugged.

"Should have known it," she said.

"What?"

"This," she replied pointing at the back of the picture.

The canvas, where the eyes should have been, had been cut away.

Giles looked at the wall behind the painting and pointed. Buffy followed his finger. She sighed when she saw the holes in the wall. "What made you think about looking here?"

Giles ran his hand through his hair. "I was thinking about everything that had happened. I remembered the feeling you had when we came upstairs and thought we should look into it. This proves that someone could be watching us at all times. They know our every move. We have to come up with a way to communicate that they can't decipher."

Buffy smiled, "Well, Watcher-mine, I think I can help us there. Well, Willow can, if we find them again."

***************

Xander and Willow reached the kitchen in a rush. They looked around the room, hoping that Dawn had returned there during the attack.

"Dawn! You can come out now, the vamps are gone," Xander yelled.

But, Dawn did not appear.

Blowing out a sigh of frustration, Willow sat heavily on a stool and laid her head on the island.

"Xan, I don't think I can take much more. I want Tara back, and everyone just keeps disappearing, and next it's going to be you or Buffy or Giles, and I know they don't want me to do magic, but it would go so much faster if I did, and…"

Xander walked to Willow and laid a comforting hand on her shoulder.

"Wills, you gotta think this through. Yes, we keep losing Scoobies, but no bodies have shown up. That means they are alive somewhere. If they are alive, we will find them. We just have to take a breath and look at what we aren't seeing to see something. And speaking of seeing what we aren't seeing…" Xander pointed to the floor next to the butler's body.

The unrecognizable form from the study lay next to the prone body of the butler.

"Huh?" Willow asked, confusion in her voice. She looked where he pointed and sighed.

"Forget the bodies for now. What do we keep seeing? People who go poof, either away from us or to us. Dead bodies falling out of closets, and mysterious passageways leading to other rooms. Think about it. What do all of those things have in common?"

Willow looked at Xander, as the implications of what he said sunk in. "Movies! Bad scary movies. Everything that has happened since we got here is right out of the bad movie handbook."

"Yep. The only thing that's missing is the hockey mask wearing, chainsaw wielding manic." Xander looked at the ceiling and yelled, "And just because I said that, doesn't mean you have to throw Jason at us too!"

Willow giggled and rose from the table. She patted Xander on the arm as she passed him, heading for the hallway. He followed her out and fell into step beside her.

They looked up the stairs to see Buffy and Giles looking at the painting.

Buffy breathed a sigh of relief as soon as she saw Willow and Xander. Giles let the painting fall to the wall, and they made their way down the stairs.

Xander led the group back to the kitchen. He showed them the latest addition to the puzzle.

Giles peered at the bodies and asked, "Why did you have to show us this?"

"Just checking."

"Everything alright?" Buffy inquired.

"Yep, two corpses, everything's fine."

As they left the kitchen, Willow told them about Xander's idea and they fell into agreement. Buffy told them about the holes in the painting and wall, and the idea Giles had given her. Giles assured them that this was not magic, but a safe way of communication, and that until they were all reunited, anything of importance should be shared in this manner.

Going back into the study, Willow sat on the couch to clear her mind. The others hovered around her until she told them to sit down.

Tentatively, she reached out with her mind and said, `Tara?'

***************

Tara was startled at the first sound of the voice in her head. Thinking that she was hallucinating, she shook her head to clear it, when she heard it again.

`Baby?'

Tara breathed softly and returned the contact.

***************

Willow visibly sagged in relief at having reached Tara. She started to apologize until Tara stopped her, telling her that they would take care of that later.

Tara told her that they were unharmed, but chained and gagged. They had seen one person, but she didn't know who it was, and they didn't know where they were.

Tara relayed the description of the man, and Willow bristled. Tara calmed her down, and told her that she should try to tell her fellow captives what had been happening.

Willow quickly reached out and contacted the others.

She told Anya that Xander was beside her and not hurt. Willow decided to pass along Anya's message to Xander later.

Dawn told her that she wanted Buffy. Willow reassured her that they were trying their best and would get to them soon.

Spike told Willow to pass along a message to Giles that made her shudder. He knew who it was and wanted in on the payback.

**************

Willow came out of her trance and smiled brightly at her friends.

"They're fine! I talked to all of them. They don't know where they are, but Tara gave me a description of the guy who has them. Dawn wants you to kick his butt in the worst way," she said to Buffy and got a smile in return. "I'll give you Anya's message later," she told Xander.

Xander waved his hand and replied, "Nevermind, I can guess what it's about."

Willow looked at Giles and stood up. "Giles, Spike's message was for you. He said that he recognized the, and I quote, `poncy bugger' and that he was `gonna teach him how I got my name.'"

"Who?" Giles whispered quietly.

"Ethan."

"You're sure?" He asked.

"Spike said it was the guy who turned you into a demon, and Tara gave me a description of him. It's Ethan."

"Told you," Buffy said, referring to their earlier conversation.

"Yes, I know. But now we have confirmation. Now, we can proceed because I know how he thinks. We can anticipate a few moves he may make."

"Good. That's good. Right?" Xander asked.

"It's very good," Giles assured him.

"Now, what do we do?" Buffy asked.

"We check out the light outside," Giles said.

"How can we do that? Spike reappeared in the house when he tried to leave," Willow wondered.

"Spike left the house with the intention of leaving altogether. We are simply going outside. I have no thought of leaving until we get the others back. Knowing Ethan, it's his idea of a sick joke. We should be safe."

Buffy looked at everyone before nodding her head. "Then what are we waiting for? Let's find that light."



NEXT



Chapter Text

Title: Clueless 13/20
Authors: Kim & Jen
Feedback: Oh yes, please! It's our drug of choice.
Disclaimer: We don't, never have, never will. We own our obsession with the G-man. We let them have fun and return them relatively unscathed to the Jossverse. Although, they probably have more fun with us.


Chapter 13/20


"Wait," Willow said. "At the risk of being chastised again, we should think about the fact that Ethan can monitor our movements magically. It's not going to do a lot of good if he knows where we're going."

"He probably already knows if he's watching us," Xander disagreed.

"But if he doesn't, then we should try to hide our movements. Even if he is watching, we should protect ourselves., keep him from performing more magic on us."

"How?" Buffy asked.

"A cloaking spell," Willow answered while meeting Giles' eyes.

"You can do a cloaking spell?" Xander asked. "Cloaking as in Romulan ship cloaking? Cool. I can't believe you've never shared that you can do that."

"I can't do it by myself. But maybe Giles and I can."

"I thought we had the magic discussion earlier," Buffy objected. "No wily-nily magic use. Right, Giles?"

Giles looked thoughtful for a moment. "I might actually agree with Willow this time, Buffy. As I explained, there is a time for magic use, and this might be one of those times. Ethan won't hesitate to use magic, and we shouldn't bind our hands unnecessarily. We need to be able to move freely and search for the others without interference from him." He glanced toward Willow. "I assume you are thinking of the Dagashi cloaking spell."

In response to her nod, he caught her gaze firmly, his green eyes piercing into hers. "You realize what will happen?"

"I'm okay with it, are you?" she challenged.

"What's going to happen?" Xander asked, looking from one to the other.

"When two people work magic together, it opens up their minds to one another. It allows the casters to see the thoughts and feelings of the other, if they choose to look."

"Romulan cloaking and a Vulcan mind meld? Who knew magic was so much like Star Trek?"

Willow rolled her eyes. "Nice, Xander. Keep making cracks, and you'll be the next guy in a red shirt beaming down."

"It's not like we have a ton of time for mutual soul searching here, so let's get going," Buffy said impatiently. "Ethan has a date with my fist that he's late for."

Giles walked to the middle of the room and moved the coffee table. He sank gracefully to the floor, crossing his legs as he sat. Willow moved to sit opposite him. Suddenly shy, she held her hands out to him. "Ready when you are."

"I'll let you cast," he said as he took her hands. "You'll have to make it quick because Ethan will sense the magic."

They both closed their eyes and started to focus on breathing in time with each other. After several minutes of silent breathing, Willow began to speak in a low-pitched voice, syllables rolling off her tongue. The tone of her voice grew in intensity and sweat stood out on Giles' forehead. With a final `et lux fiat,' Willow finished. She slowly blew out her breath and tried to draw her hands from Giles'.

Giles, however, had not opened his eyes, and he tightened his grip on Willow, preventing her from letting go. Willow struggled briefly as Giles' forehead crinkled in concentration.

"No," she cried. "Let me go, I don't want to see."

Giles didn't respond, and after a few moments more struggling, Willow finally tore her hands away, breathing heavily. Her eyes opened wide, reflecting horror at whatever she had seen.

Giles' head dropped for a moment, as he centered himself. Finally lifting his head, he looked at Willow with regretful eyes. "I'm sorry, perhaps this wasn't the best time or place, but it was an opportunity I couldn't let escape."

Panting, Willow pressed her hands to her temples as tears filled her eyes. "How could you?" she choked out.

Giles' voice was laced with regret and sadness when he answered, "To you? Or to him?"

Buffy and Xander, who had watched the events unsure whether to interfere or not, approached the pair hesitantly.

"What did you do, Giles?" Buffy asked.

Giles looked off into the distance, his eyes seeing events from a different time. "I showed her some memories of my youth, of the magic I worked, memories of Philip, and Ethan, and," he hesitated for a moment, "of Randall." Turning to Willow, he reached out a hand only to pull it back as she flinched away. "I'm sorry you had to witness that, Willow. However, I believe you have set yourself on a dangerous path. A path I trod and from which I almost didn't return. I would sacrifice almost anything to spare you the pain of knowing everyday that your actions caused the death of another human being, of someone for whom you care. I care about you too much for that."

With a little cry, Willow launched herself at him and flung her arms about his chest. Taken aback for a moment, Giles was quick to put his arms around her and stroke her hair. "How can you bear it?" she sobbed.

"I almost didn't," he replied softly. "But it's better now. What I showed you was what I felt then. The spiraling pull of the magic, and the utter desolation and horror after Randall died. It has never gone away, but it has lessened over time. I like to think the work I have done here has somewhat atoned for it. I do not," he said fiercely, "want to have to pull you back from that brink. You are better than that, Willow."

"I'll try to keep that in mind," she sniffled, wiping the tears away with the back of her hand. Looking at her hand then, she wrinkled her nose. "Ugh, maybe you and Buffy should go find this light while Xander and I stay here. I think I need to find somewhere to blow my nose."

Xander moved forward and offered Willow a hand. Pulling her up, he threw his arm around her shoulder. "It's just never a dull moment around here, is it? You guys go ahead, and Willow and I will stay here and poke around some more. I know," he said before Buffy could open her mouth, "`hold hands and stay together.' Same thing our kindergarten teacher used to tell us."

Buffy helped Giles off the floor, giving his hand a warm squeeze before regretfully letting go. "Before we go, are we sure the spell worked?"

Giles looked questioningly at Willow. "I have no cause to believe it did not. Do you?"

"Nope," she replied. "Everything seemed okay on my end."

Buffy was confused. "But we can still see each other. I thought it was a cloaking spell."

"That's the beauty of the spell," Willow explained. "It prevents people using magic on us, unless they are in the same room with us. I think that's how Spike got poofed back in to the house earlier."

Willow's voice began to pick up in excitement as she started to explain how she changed the spell. After a few eye-glazing moments, Buffy waved her to a stop.

"An explanation isn't necessary, Will. I'm more of the `if you tell me it works, I'll believe it girl' where magic is involved." She turned to Giles, "We might as well get going."

Xander and Willow followed Buffy and Giles out into the hall.

Xander still had his arm firmly around Willow's shoulders. "Have fun storming the castle, kids," he called, and then doubled over when Willow shoved her elbow in his side.

They stood in the hallway for a moment, deciding which door to use. "Well, Spike left through the front door and had problems," Buffy said. "Maybe we should try the back door."

"True," Giles agreed. "The light did seem to be coming from somewhere out back."

Once they reached the French doors leading out into the garden, Buffy pushed them open and stepped out into the night. The deluge from earlier had subsided, but periodic flashes of lightning split the sky.

"You know," Buffy remarked. "Now that Xander has pointed it out, I don't know how many more clichés I can take. Was the `it was a dark and stormy night' bit really necessary?"

"Oh, I don't know; I find this type of weather enjoyable."

Buffy could barely make out his face in the dark, but a flash of lightning let her see the grin. "Liar." A light in the distance caught her eye. "I think we want to head that direction."

They started out toward the light, keeping their senses alert for any lurking dangers.

"So," Buffy said after a moment, "you care about Willow."

"What?" Giles almost stumbled in surprise.

Buffy grabbed his arm to steady him. "You told Willow you cared about her. I'm just throwing that out there on the table as something you've never said before."

Giles kept walking. "Er, of course I care about her. I see a lot of myself in her. Willow has a tremendous amount of potential that could be easily diverted down the wrong path. I do not want to see her make the same mistakes I did."

"And Xander?"

"I'm afraid I'm not following you, Buffy. What about Xander?"

"Do you care about him too?"

Giles thought for a moment. "Yes, to some degree. Lord help me, but sometimes I think Xander is like the son I never had. At a bare minimum, he's the nephew that lives to torment me. I care about all of you a great deal, Buffy."

Buffy's heart sank to her knees. He thought of Xander like a relative. Maybe he felt the same about her. Had she been wrong earlier in the study? "So Travers was right," she mumbled.


"Travers?" Giles snorted. "What could he possibly have been right about?"

"You love me like a daughter."

"Why would you think that?"

Dejected, Buffy explained, "He said that on my eighteenth birthday. You didn't disagree with it." Suddenly the fact that Giles hadn't confirmed it right then pierced the fog in her head.

"Wait, you don't love me like a daughter?"

"No, Buffy, I don't."

"But you love Willow and Xander?"

"Yes, I thought we just covered that."

"And you care for all of us?"

"Buffy, do we have to do this right now?"

"I think we do. If you think of Willow as some younger, much more feminine, version of yourself, and Xander is a long lost relative, what does that make me?"

"Buffy, I really think this discussion can wait for another time and place." Giles did not want to answer Buffy's questioning right now. He had no idea how she would react, and the middle of a murder mystery was hardly the place for confessions of long-kept hidden love.

"Giles," Buffy stomped her foot and threw a pout his way. "This is important."

"Why?" Giles decided to turn the tables a little. "Why is this so important to you to pin down how I feel about you?" he asked, moving closer to her.

Thrown on the defensive, Buffy could only sputter nervously. "It just is."

"Why?" Giles voice deepened a notch as he took yet another step closer. "It's never been important for you to define my feelings for you before."

"It seems important now. If you care for me, but not like a daughter, than what do you feel?"

"You're very important to me, Buffy. Not only because of our callings, but as a person as well."

"Oh," Buffy said quietly. "How important?"

Wondering how he got himself into these messes, Giles mentally shrugged; in for a penny, in for a pound, he supposed. He reached out and cupped the side of Buffy's face with his hand. Lifting her chin so their eyes met, his thumb caressed her cheek. "This important," he said before he bent his head and brushed his lips across hers.

Buffy stood still in shock. Giles was kissing her. Giles didn't love her like a daughter. His kiss led her to believe that he might love her in a much more pleasant fashion. Finally, she realized that she was still just standing there when he drew back, a look of disappointment on his face at her lack of response.

"I am very sorry…," was all he had time to get out before her hands shot to the back of his head and pulled his face down for another kiss. This time, she was no passive participant. Buffy threw her soul behind the kiss, trying to convince Giles that she delighted in and returned the feelings he had for her.

Stunned for only a moment, Giles quickly deepened the kiss, sinking his other hand into Buffy's thick tresses. They stood that way for a few glorious minutes, saying everything that needed to be said without words.

Finally, they broke apart. Buffy's hand went to her lips. "Oh," was all she could say for a moment. "That was… that was amazing."

"Indeed."

"Definitely not a daughter, huh?"

"I should think not."

"Good."

"Really?"

"Well," she teased. "You'd better kiss me again so I can make sure."

"Incorrigible wench," he giggled, pulling her into his arms. He kissed her soundly and thoroughly, reluctantly ending it after a few short moments.

"We really do need to find that light," he said.

"Light? What light? "We're not in Kansas anymore, Toto?"

Failing to keep the smug tone out of his voice, he chided, "Buffy, be serious, as much as I would love to stand here and kiss you all night, there are people depending on us."

Buffy shook her head as if clearing cobwebs. "People depending on us. Right. We should get moving. And we will, after you do that one more time."

"We are never going to get out of here."

Suddenly Buffy was serious. "No, Giles. We will. But this is important too. What we are to each other, how you feel, how you make me feel, that's crucial. I've told you before, and I don't know how many different ways to say it, but I need you, and I can't do this without you."

Giles said nothing as he claimed her lips again. Buffy thought her knees would give way at the passion in his kiss. He didn't just kiss her; he invaded her mouth and staked a claim of ownership.

Eons ticked by until Buffy pulled back slowly. "Okay," she said in a shaky voice, "You are entirely too good at that. Let's hurry up and get out of here so we can devote some quality time to discovering whatever else you're good at."

Giles grinned mischievously. "I have many hidden assets or should we say talents, Miss Summers. I would be delighted to assist you in discovering them."

Buffy laughed delightedly and took Giles hand. "Oh Giles," she said as they continued on, "I love you." Then she stopped, amazed at how easily the words had slipped out.

Giddy at her declaration, Giles pulled her in once again, swinging her off her feet and spinning her in a circle. "I love you too, Buffy. I never thought I would get to tell you, but I do."

After another short but serious kiss, Buffy slid down until her feet touched the ground. "This evening just got a whole lot better."

"Quite. Let's find that light, shall we?"

"Let's shall, Watcher-mine."

With that the two strode off, hand-in-hand, toward the light in the distance. As they got closer, they dropped into hunting mode again. Finally, the light resolved into the glow from a window in a small cabin. Buffy stopped about twenty yards from the cabin, trying to determine the best way to approach.

"I don't see any guards. Do you?" she whispered.

"No, but that doesn't mean there aren't people on watch in the cabin."

"I'd really like to get a look in that window." The window in question was about eight feet off the ground, too high for either to see what was inside.

"I could give you a boost up," Giles offered.

"Okay."

After they approached the side of the cabin, Giles tried to determine the best way to lift Buffy up. The ground was muddy, and he stared distastefully at the idea of getting mud all over his hands.

"Bend over," Buffy suggested.

"What?"

"If you bend over, I can get on your shoulders and see in. Just hold my hands in case I need to flip down quickly."

"I think you're just trying to get me into a compromising position as quickly as possible."

"That too," she smiled. "Do you have any other suggestions?"

"No." He leaned over, and Buffy spread her legs slightly. Giles started conjugating Greek verbs in his head, reminding himself that this was merely part of the job. Ducking between Buffy's legs, he got a hold of her hands, and slowly stood up. When Buffy tensed her thighs around his neck, other parts of his anatomy immediately sat up and took notice. He swore slightly under his breath.

"Problem?" Buffy asked.

"No, just getting situated."

"Oh," Buffy sounded disappointed. "I thought maybe you were finding this a little fun." She emphasized the word fun with a little wiggle. "I know I am."

"Please, Buffy, concentrate. As much as I am enjoying this, I don't want to be caught like this if we can avoid it."

"Fine, move me over to the window."

Giles did as she instructed. He waited a few moments while she looked in. "Do you see anyone?"

"No, it appears to be empty right now. It's just one big room, so I don't think there's anywhere else someone could be."

"What is in the room?"

"Lots of computer equipment and televisions, it looks like."

"Do you want down now?"

"Yeah, just move away from the window, and I can get down so you don't have to bend over."

Once Giles moved from the building, Buffy tightened her grip with her thighs again, and leaned backward until she was flush against Giles' back. Balancing her hands on his waist, she kicked off and flipped over him. "Ta da."

"Show off."

"Admit it. You're impressed. Guys like flexible girls, and trust me, they don't come any more bendy than the Slayer."

Greek verbs had ceased to be effective, so Giles started on Fyarl, a language he still remembered. "You are going to be the death of me."

Buffy giggled. "I'm just teasing. Well, sort of. Let's see if we can get into this cabin."

They moved around to the front door. Buffy tried the handle. "Locked." She took a step back and prepared to kick it in. Giles' hand on her arm stopped her.

"Why is your first instinct always to break the door down? Why don't you let me?" He took his wallet out of his pocket and withdrew a small metal pick.

"You're going to pick the lock? And you have a lock pick with you? Wow, Giles, delinquent much?"

Giles flashed her a quick grin. "I don't regret everything from my youth. Some skills still come in handy."

After a few seconds, Giles had the door open. They cautiously entered the room. Buffy went over to the row of video monitors. "Hey, these show almost every room in the mansion."

Giles looked at the computer equipment. "We should have brought Willow with us. She could get some information out of these. Although I am puzzled. This seems quite elaborate for Ethan, and a little beyond his technology level."

"Who knows what Ethan picked up in his stint with the Initiative?" Buffy said as she moved down the row of monitors. Her sudden cry sent Giles running to her side.

"What is it?"

Buffy could only point at one of the monitors in return. Giles looked at the screen; there, in a non-descript room, were the missing members of their party.



NEXT



Chapter Text

Title: Clueless 14/20
Authors: Kim & Jen
Feedback: Oh yes, please! It's our drug of choice.
Disclaimer: We don't, never have, never will. We own our obsession with the G-man. We let them have fun and return them relatively unscathed to the Jossverse. Although, they probably have more fun with us.


Chapter 14/20


Ethan sighed. His compatriot in this endeavor wanted no part in harming Dawn. Yes, she was annoying, but that didn't mean he wanted her out of the way. He had informed Ethan that he needed her, just as he needed the others.

Ethan tried to explain to him that no lasting damage would be done; it would be discomforting for a while, but she would be fine.

The man's last words rang in Ethan's ears. "I want Buffy isolated, not injured. If you pull another stunt like the one with the vampires, I'll send you back."

Ethan smiled at the threat. If all else failed, he would call on Rupert. Not Ripper, mind, because Ripper would have no compunction to sending him back into confinement. No, Rupert, the kindhearted gentleman he had become since moving to that awful place. Sunnydale sucked the life out of people, regardless of how much or little time one spent there.

His partner proved that theory, in spades.

He turned back to his mirror and waved a hand.

No one appeared.

He repeated the incantation, with the same result.

Cursing, he picked up the handheld radio. When a voice answered, he said, "Get in the house. I can't find them. Report back on where they are."

****************

Willow and Xander made their way back to the ballroom. Willow wanted to see where the passageway led.

Xander showed her the mechanism to release the door. She giggled at the obvious movie reference she could hear Xander make in her head. As she started for the opening, Xander held her back.

"It leads to the billiard room. As far as we could make out, there were no branches leading off the passage, just straight on through."

Willow nodded and headed back to the hallway.

"Are there any places that you think we haven't checked yet?" she asked Xander.

"Well, it's not like I made a map of the house the first time we went by, but I think so."

"Did Buffy and Giles say what all they looked at?"

"They started in the study, found the way to the cellar, and looked around down there," Xander answered.

"Ok, that leaves the Solarium and the Library to check out. Let's go."

The twosome entered the Solarium and looked for a light switch. Xander found one on the wall next to him, and flipped it on.

Broken furniture and unused household items littered the room. They gingerly stepped over the pieces and looked for anything relevant to their cause.

The rain-splattered glass windows reflected the occasional flash of lightning and the trees behind the house. Willow shuddered at the gloomy scene before her and said, "Next time, we're going to Disneyland."

"I hear ya, Wills. This dream stuff is getting old. At least at Disneyland, maybe we can run into a demon Tigger."

"Or a vamp Rabbit!" Willow squealed.

"Don't say that around Anya. She'd never let me hear the end of it."

Willow snorted and continued around the room.

"Do you see anything important here?"

"There's a lot to look at. My uncle Rory keeps his backyard cleaner than this. Maybe we should come back when the G-man and Buffster are with us."

Willow smiled again and turned for the door. Her gaze slid to the left of the doorway, and she stopped.

"Uh, Xand?"

"Yeah?"

"Do you see that?"

Xander moved to her side. "See what?"

"On the tree stand," she said pointing.

Xander followed her hand with his eyes and they widened.

"Do you think we have it figured all wrong?" he asked.

"I didn't think so, but now I wonder."

Xander walked over to the tree stand and lifted the tweed jacket from its perch.

"Oh man, Giles is just going to love this."

******************

Buffy and Giles looked around the room, searching for a way to get to their friends. Buffy started pushing random buttons on the console, when Giles stopped her.

"That might not be the wisest idea, Buffy," he told her.

"Why not? We can see them. They are right in front of us. One of these should open a door or something to let us get to them."

"Or they may not. This is just the center to monitor them. They could be underneath us or anywhere on the grounds. We can see that they are relatively unharmed. Bound and gagged, yes. However, they are safe for the time being."

"I know, I just… I'm the Slayer. People are not supposed to be able to pick my friends off like this," she sighed in frustration.

"Listen to me, love. We will get to them. For now, we need to get Willow and bring her here. She may be able to understand the equipment better than we can."

After a calming breath, Buffy nodded and slipped her hand in Giles', allowing the fingers to intertwine.

"Then let's go get her."

****************

Xander replaced the jacket on its peg and they left the room. As they exited the Solarium, a flurry of footsteps echoed down the hall.

They stopped, waiting for whomever to reach them and stepped back when they saw who it was.

"Graham?" Willow cried.

"Oh thank goodness I found someone else. I've been wandering all over the grounds looking for anyone," Graham wheezed.

"What… what are you doing here?" Xander asked.

"I…I don't know. One minute, I was on patrol in the jungle and the next, I was here. Wherever this is."

"We're not quite sure ourselves. We fell asleep at Buffy's and woke up here," Willow replied.

"Buffy? She's here? I never thought I'd be happy to see her again. Where's everyone else?"

Willow quickly gave him a brief rundown on what had happened. Graham's mouth opened in shock at all the events that had taken place since their arrival.

"Ok, we have to find everyone and get out of here," Graham said, placing a hand on Willow's shoulder.

"Well, Buffy and Giles are looking outside right now. We found a light on the grounds and they went to investigate it," Xander told him.

"Outside!? They can't. They'll never find their way back."

"They always come back," Willow assured him.

As the threesome started walking down the hall, Willow made a slight detour.

"Uh, Wills, we gotta stick together, you know."

"I know that, but where I need to go, you can't come," she replied, blushing slightly.

"Oh! Ok, we'll just stand outside the door and wait," Xander said.

Willow walked into the bathroom and closed the door. The men took places in front of it.

"So, uh, how you been?" Xander asked.

"Pretty good. We've been searching for HST's in South America, but I can't say more than that."

"I get it. Need-to-know, top secret, yada, yada. How's Riley making the adjustment back to military life?"

Graham flinched slightly. "Not so well. He, uh, decided to pack it in and go home to Iowa."

Xander was surprised. "Really? I thought he would've been happy to be back."

"No, too much happened for him to really fit in anymore," Graham said.

Xander turned to the door. `She's taking a long time in there,' he thought as he knocked on the door and said, "Willow? You ok in there?"

After getting no response, Xander opened the door far enough to peep in.

The room was empty.

Xander flung open the door and looked more closely.

Willow, too, had vanished.



NEXT



Chapter Text

Title: Clueless 15/20
Authors: Kim & Jen
Feedback: Oh yes, please! It's our drug of choice.
Disclaimer: We don't, never have, never will. We own our obsession with the G-man. We let them have fun and return them relatively unscathed to the Jossverse. Although, they probably have more fun with us.


Chapter 15/20


Before Buffy and Giles could exit the command shed, one of the monitors in front of them changed pictures.

"They must be set on some sort of timing sequence to rotate through the locations where there are cameras," Giles surmised.

"Maybe we should watch for a minute just to check out everywhere they have cameras."

They stood silently, watching as various monitors changed displays.

"Look, there's the ballroom," Buffy pointed out.

A moment later Giles said, "And there's the attic."

"They've been able to watch everything we've done. I'm really going to kick some butt when we find these guys."

"Xander," Giles exclaimed, gesturing to a screen.

"Who is that with him? And where's Willow? I thought I told the two of them to stay together."

"He looks familiar."

"I think that's Graham," Buffy said after studying the picture for a few seconds. "Oh no! He's there with Graham, and Graham is part of the Initiative."

"Graham doesn't appear to be hurting Xander. In fact, the two appear to be chatting quite cordially."

"We have to get back there and rescue Xander and find Willow. If nothing else, I'm sure Graham would be delighted to give me some answers," Buffy said grimly.

As she turned to go, another monitor caught her eye. The ballroom was visible again, but this time it wasn't empty.

A lone figure fought four assailants. All of the fighters wore fatigues and masks. But it was clear from the action that the four were ganging up on the one. For the moment, he was holding his own.

Another monitor revealed five additional soldiers headed down the hall toward the ballroom. "Looks like he's in trouble," Giles said, stepping up to get a closer look.

Buffy studied the melee in the ballroom. "That fighting style is really familiar," she said, her head tilted to one side. "Oh my god!" She yelled suddenly. "I know who that is."

"Who?"

"I have to go. I have to warn him." With that, she turned and ran out of the building, leaving a stunned Giles behind.

Breaking free of his stasis, Giles rushed after her. "Buffy," he yelled. "Stop. You could be running into a trap."

But either she didn't hear him, or she chose to ignore him. In a burst of speed, she was gone.

Giles gave a sigh. "Bugger," he said before starting off after her.

The sprint back to the mansion gave Buffy only a small amount of time to think. `Break heads first; ask questions later.'

She burst through the back door of the mansion running full tilt toward the ballroom. She passed Xander and Graham who were staring into an empty bathroom.

"Buffy," Xander called, "Willow is missing, and look who showed up."

"No time right now," she yelled over her shoulder.

Xander and Graham looked at each other, shrugged, and took off after her.

Buffy burst into the ballroom. The solitary fighter had his back to a corner and was trying to fend off the attacks of six soldiers. He was making a good showing, as three of the original nine already lay unmoving on the ground.

In a split second, Buffy assessed the situation and jumped into the fray, fists flying. The soldier furthest back had no idea what hit him. Another turned in time to see his comrade crumple in a heap on the floor. He tried to launch an attack, but Buffy easily blocked it and sent a swift punch to his midsection followed by an uppercut to his chin that laid him flat.

Xander and Graham followed into the ballroom, but when Xander moved to join the fight, Graham stopped him with a hand on his shoulder. "I'm not sure if one more person will help or hinder things." Xander stepped back, ready to jump in if Buffy needed him.

The cornered soldier took the distraction Buffy provided to send another opponent crashing into the wall. The remaining three opponents moved to regroup. Together, they rushed the two. Buffy and her partner blocked a flurry of kicks and punches.

These last three must have been the cream of the litter, Buffy thought. She sent one with the shoulder stripes of a ranking officer staggering with a roundhouse kick to the head only to spin into the attack of another. The blow across her cheek caused her to stumble back, giving the attacker a chance to press his advantage. A second blow to the face knocked her off balance, and she fell. When she hit the floor, Buffy swung her leg in a low sweep and knocked her opponent down as well. She then used the momentum of the motion to flip herself up in a graceful fluid movement. She found herself back to back with the other fighter, who was still looking for an opening against his opponent.

Both the officer she had kicked earlier and the soldier she had just knocked down regained their feet. As they advanced, Buffy wryly thought it was typical that she was the one fighting multiple opponents.

Ducking under a swing, Buffy spun and side kicked the soldier into the wall, which he slid limply down. "Even I've seen that movie with Richard Gere," she quipped as she turned and caught the officer's punch in her fist, pushing him off balance. She immediately followed it with two rapid kicks to his head, causing him to slump limply against the other. "And you might be an officer, but you're hardly a gentleman."

Looking around, Buffy realized the fight was over. The lone fighter was bent over with his hands on his knees, breathing heavily. As Buffy walked over to him, he straightened and pulled the mask off his face. As his features, followed by a shock of sandy brown hair, came into view, Buffy knew she was right.

"Riley?" she asked, amazed that he was in the dream. "What are you doing here?"

Riley closed the distance between them and swept her up into a huge hug, spinning her around, laughing. "Oh, Buffy," he cried. "It is so good to see you. I've missed you so much. I was afraid I was too late."

"Too late for what?" Buffy asked as she tried to get free, aware of her audience.

"Too late to save you," he said, and before she could get away, his mouth descended toward hers. "And too late for this," he whispered, right before he kissed her.

Giles chose that moment to burst, panting, into the room. His eyes darkened as he saw Riley and Buffy kissing. His hopes from earlier collapsed, and he turned to go.

"Riley, stop," Buffy said, as she pushed away. "What do you think you're doing? You can't just waltz in here and assume we're going to pick up where we left off." She paused for a moment. "Speaking of that, how did you waltz in here?"

"Yeah," Xander called, "and is there a way to waltz out?"

Distracted by Xander's comment, Buffy didn't see Riley's jaw clench for a second.

"Buffy, I thought you'd be glad to see me."

"I am glad to see you. At least I hope I'm glad to see you. We were beginning to think the Initiative brought us here, and, last I checked, you were part of the Initiative." As she spoke, Buffy walked over to Giles. "Besides," she said, taking Giles' hand, "I'm not exactly available for welcome back kissing at this moment."

Giles' heart leapt out of his shoes where it had sunk, and back into its proper place in his chest. Although, if he wasn't careful, it was going to pound its way out, due to the overwhelming love he felt for Buffy at that moment.

"And if we could bring the conversation back on track, or at least the track I would like to be on," Xander said, "what are you doing here, and how can we get out?"

Riley looked from Buffy to Giles then to their joined hands. "Gee, I guess I have been gone a while. But hey, can't blame a guy for trying. Congratulations, you two. I always wondered about that."

Giles chose to momentarily ignore what *Riley* was speaking about. "Were we incorrect in assuming that the Initiative is somehow behind all of this?" He inquired.

Riley, still staring at their interlocked hands, took a moment to answer. "No. You guessed right. I left the military about two months ago, but I still have contacts there," he said gesturing at Graham. "I found out that they were planning on capturing all of you to determine if they could harness or duplicate your powers."

"Because the power of the hammer and belt sander are such mysteries to secret government commando squads?" Xander asked sarcastically.

"More Buffy's powers. And Willow and Tara. Well, and Anya's whole `former demon' status. They look at it as an opportunity to use or eliminate all of you. They consider you to be quite a nuisance."

"So instead of picking up the phone and saying `Hey Buff, guess what I found out,' you decided to let them kidnap us and then try and get us out?" Buffy questioned.

"It took me until right before they executed the plan to learn all of the details. I couldn't figure out how they were going to get all of you. Then I found out that they had an accomplice."

"Ethan," Giles stated.

"Yep," Riley confirmed. "They offered him a chance out of the detention facility if he would help them capture you. Seems he has a teeny bit of a grudge, and a healthy dose of self-preservation."

"Typical." Giles squeezed Buffy's hand, then dropped it to polish his glasses.

Riley continued, "So I found a witch who could send me here, thanks to contacts I kept up. I also asked her to send someone I considered a good backup. That's where you came in," he said to Graham.

"I'm just glad to know how I got here," Graham said.

"Did your Glinda happen to slip you a return pair of ruby slippers too?" Buffy asked.

Riley chuckled in acknowledgment. "I have a way out for us."

"Good, then all we have to do is find the rest of the gang, break Ethan's arms into multiple pieces, and get the hell out of here." Buffy looked at the group. "Any questions?"



NEXT



Chapter Text

Title: Clueless 16/20
Authors: Kim & Jen
Feedback: Oh yes, please! It's our drug of choice.
Disclaimer: We don't, never have, never will. We own our obsession with the G-man. We let them have fun and return them relatively unscathed to the Jossverse. Although, they probably have more fun with us.


Chapter 16/20


Xander raised his hand. "Yeah, I have several questions. One, where are our friends? Two, how did you guys know to come back just then, and three, what did you find?"

Giles and Buffy took turns telling them about the monitoring station, the images on the screens, and Willow's appearance with the others.

Graham and Riley's eyes grew as more facts came to light.

"Man, they really want you out of the way. That sounds exactly like a set-up for a major HST hunt," Graham said.

"They must have pulled more field officers into the mission than I had been told. We have to get out of here," Riley replied and reached for Buffy's hand.

Buffy pulled it out of his reach and moved closer to Giles. Giles wrapped an arm around her as she rested against him.

"Riley, I told you. I'm not available."

"Sorry," he said with a sheepish look. "It will take a little getting used to."

"Well, acclimate yourself quickly," Giles told him. "And you said, `we have to get out of here'. Don't you mean all of us and our friends?"

Giles didn't miss the flash in Riley's eyes that faded quickly. Riley looked at Buffy and asked if they knew where they were being held. When they responded in the negative, he sighed.

"Okay, that makes it harder to get out of here. The longer we stay, the harder it is to leave. We need to split up and search the house."

"Been there, looked all over it. That's how they have been picking us off," Xander said. "Any more ideas?"

Graham and Riley stepped away to confer while Giles, Buffy, and Xander pulled closer.

"How much have you told Graham?" Giles asked Xander.

"Only the basics, nothing specific."

"Good. I have a wiggy feeling about this. They showed up just at the right time, and that makes me nervous," Buffy said. "Xander, wait a few minutes and try to contact Willow and see if she's seen anything else."

Xander nodded, and Giles murmured in agreement. "The timing is unusually convenient."

Riley and Graham walked back over to them, and the others turned around.

"We've searched the house from top to bottom, and you guys and the butler are the only other people we've seen," Buffy said.

"Butler? What butler?" Riley asked.

"Oh, no one important. Just a holdover from our shared dream."

"Shared… Buffy, is something like this normal?"

"Riley, I told you about that dream. The First Slayer trying to kill us."

"Oh, that one. Okay, what do we do now?"

Giles spoke up. "I believe that we should explore the grounds. It is the only place that we haven't looked."

Graham and Riley protested. "Do you have any idea how long it took me to make my way inside? Now, you want to go back out there?" Graham exclaimed.

"We have to. The house has told us basically everything it can, so the only thing left is outside," Buffy responded.

"This time, we will stay together, or at least within a few feet of each other. No wandering off alone," Giles said as he led the group to the door.

*****************

Buffy and Giles showed them the command post, and Riley whistled at the sophistication of the equipment. He and Graham began to look on the floor for a trapdoor or other means to reach the prisoners.

Xander stared at one of the screens, and a smile lit his face when he saw Anya and Willow. The smile faded to nothing when he saw them chained and gagged. His gaze went blank, and he nodded to himself. He made eye contact with Buffy, mentally letting her know that he had talked to Willow, and she would find out what she could and let them know. Buffy tilted her head in acknowledgement and looked at Giles. He rubbed a finger down her cheek and smiled at her.

The agents rose from the floor, and Riley clapped his hands together. Buffy jumped slightly and raised an amused eyebrow at Giles. He smirked back, and they faced the men.

"Well, there's nothing in here to give us ideas. Where to next?"

"The rest of the grounds, of course," Giles replied with a slight grin.

*****************

Ethan approached the redheaded witch and grimaced. `Couldn't these bloody army types do anything right?' The witch should have been the last one taken, except for the Slayer. This one had strong magicks running through her, and it scared him. That much power in one so young? Nothing good would come from that.

Willow stared at Ethan, and her eyes widened. She had punched through his mental blocks with ease. She shared her information with Tara, in case she and her girlfriend were separated. Tara's shock at the information was surrounded by her ever-present love for Willow.

Willow sent the new information to Xander.

Ethan never knew what occurred as he continued to look at his prisoners

*****************

Xander and Graham separated from the group to investigate a small stand of trees near the path where the group was walking.

Xander was on his hands and knees, searching the ground, while Graham searched the canopy of leaves above them.

After a few minutes, Xander emitted a noise of triumph when he uncovered a trapdoor in the ground. He looked around for Graham, but the commando was nowhere to be seen. Xander tried to lift the cover, but soon realized that stronger muscles would be needed. Willow's thoughts reaching out to him distracted him for a moment. `What!' He exclaimed in shock. As he turned to go find Buffy, a whistling sound behind him made him turn quickly. His world faded into black as the nightstick landed against his head.

*****************

Buffy, Giles, and Riley heard Graham's voice call out, "Stop, what are you doing?"

They rushed to where they had been searching, but found no evidence of the two men.

Buffy stomped her feet in frustration. Giles pulled her into a hug and told her, "This is quite enough. When I find the people who are doing this to us, they are going to be very sorry."

"Indeed?" Buffy whispered as she wrapped her arms around him.

"Indeed," Giles responded.



NEXT



Chapter Text

Title: Clueless 17/20
Authors: Kim & Jen
Feedback: Oh yes, please! It's our drug of choice.
Disclaimer: We don't, never have, never will. We own our obsession with the G-man. We let them have fun and return them relatively unscathed to the Jossverse. Although, they probably have more fun with us.


Chapter 17/20


Riley started to walk back toward the surveillance station. "Well, we're not going to find them standing around here. With only three of us left, we're going to have to be extra careful."

Buffy made no move to follow. Picking up the sledgehammer that Xander dropped, she hefted it a few times. "Might as well stock up on extra weapons." As she began to turn away, she noticed the leaves Xander had pushed to the side. "Hey! I found something," she announced dropping to the ground to brush the leaves off the trapdoor.

Giles knelt beside her. "Perhaps this will lead us to the people behind our captivity."

"I just hope it leads to someone, so I can let them meet the personal side of my fists." Buffy found the ring on the trapdoor and tugged. "Wow, this is heavy."

Riley stood with his arms folded, watching Buffy strain. "If you can't lift it, it's not very likely that the people who captured us are using it."

Buffy stood to get better leverage. She clenched her jaw as her neck muscles stood out, tense from trying to lift the door. Even with her slayer-strength she was only able to lift the trapdoor a few inches. With a heavy thud, she dropped it back to the ground. "That's ridiculous."

"We need something to use for leverage once you've lifted it again." Giles grabbed the sledgehammer. "The handle should work nicely."

Buffy shot him a dry look. "Lift it again? All right, but you're the one who has to take care of me while I recuperate from a hernia."

Riley moved past Giles to stand beside Buffy. "Here, let me help."

Buffy looked dubious, but decided the situation was tense enough without questioning Riley's manhood in front of Giles. She reached down to grab the ring again, and Riley set his hands beside hers.

With a mighty pull, they lifted the trapdoor off and dropped it on the ground. "Someone's been eating their Wheaties," Buffy noted. "I don't remember you being that strong when you left."

"Interestingly enough that part of Professor Walsh's research wasn't independent. With a little help, and a few modifications, I'm as good as new."

"I didn't think there was anything wrong with the old you," Buffy remarked sadly.

"Right. So, are we gonna go down there, or stand here all night?"

Giles had watched the exchange with curiosity. He was certain there was more that Riley wasn't saying. "How do we get down?"

Buffy peered into the hole. "No stairs, but it doesn't look like that far of a drop. I'll go first." Before anyone else could react, she dropped into the hole.

Giles swore under his breath. Someday he was going to beat it through her head to think before acting. Although now that he had other methods of persuasion at his disposal, maybe the lesson wouldn't be so difficult. "After you," he gestured, not wanting to give Riley an opportunity to stay above ground. Riley nodded in acknowledgment and disappeared down the hole. Giles hoped Buffy was correct when she said it wasn't far. Gritting his teeth, he jumped down the hole, landing with an "oomph." He took a few moments to collect himself under the guise of looking around. Conveniently, the tunnel was lit periodically by lanterns. The light revealed rough walls, extending as far as he could see in either direction. He could hear a dim sound down one direction, which, although he strained to hear, he couldn't identify.

"Here we are. Now we just need to figure out where the bad guys are so we can kick some butt, rescue everyone, and go home." Buffy swung her head, trying to determine which direction to take. Pausing, she cocked her head to one side, obviously hearing the same noise. Giles found the way her nose crinkled while she concentrated utterly charming and soundly wished that Riley were far away so he could tell her so.

Buffy's sudden intake of breath interrupted Giles' reverie. "Gotta go," she said, gesturing the opposite direction of the noise. "Something wicked is definitely this way coming."

"What is it?" Riley asked.

"Run first, questions later." Buffy took off down the corridor just as four large demons lumbered into sight. Riley and Giles were quickly on her heels. The uneven floor of the tunnel prevented them from running at top speed. Even so, Buffy quickly outstripped Riley and Giles as she searched for a way out of their predicament. Her momentary indecision over which direction to take when the tunnel forked allowed them to catch up with her.

"Right or left?"

Giles watched Riley out of the corner of his eye. When Riley looked down the left-hand tunnel, he made his decision. "Right."

"Right it is," Buffy agreed, setting out once more.

With Buffy in the lead again, they ran for a few minutes. "I'm hoping we find a way out soon," she called back over her shoulder as she rounded a bend. "Because if we don't, we could run in circles all ni. . ." She stopped suddenly, bouncing off the figure in front of her, and landing on the ground.

"Sorry, I didn't see you standing there. Oh crap," she said, as she looked up and realized she was looking at fifteen or so vampires. "Are you guys the kind that disappear?" A few of the vampires snarled in response.

Giles and Riley rounded the bend in time to see Buffy jump to her feet. "Guess there's only one way to find out."

The vampires swarmed forward. At first, Buffy was concerned by their full assault, until she realized that the vampires were not engaging her, instead, they ran straight for Giles.

Two of the vampires grabbed Riley and threw him back toward Buffy, knocking her to the ground again. "Get off me," she struggled. "I have to help Giles."

By the time she pushed Riley off and jumped to her feet, the crowd of vampires had swept Giles back around the bend. Buffy took off running. When she rounded the corner, she stopped short. There were no signs of Giles or the vampires. Straining to listen, she picked up no sounds of a struggle. The tunnel was silent.

Turning back, she marched up to Riley. Without giving him a chance to react, she grabbed the front of his jacket and pushed him up against the tunnel wall. "You'd better start talking."

Riley looked surprised. "Buffy? What are you doing? Talking about what?"

"I think you know more about what's going on than you've told me. If I find out that's true, and Giles is hurt, you're going to wish you'd stayed in the jungles of South America. Now tell me everything you know."

"Buffy. I've told you everything. I can't believe you don't believe me. I thought you trusted me. Or at least you used to," he said bitterly.

"I don't have time to rehash our water under the bridge, Riley. I need to find Giles."

"We'll find him. Trust me."

************

For a moment, Giles was convinced that his life had reached its end when he saw the vampires rushing him. After they reached him, however, he realized that they weren't attacking; instead, they were pushing him back down the tunnel. After a few seconds, a door opened in the side of the tunnel, and the vampires pushed Giles through.

The room he was in was pitch black. Giles stood, trying to breathe normally, listening to any sounds he could pick up. He heard what sounded like a slight cough. "Who's there?"

The sound of a match striking rent the air. Giles could dimly make out the figure that touched the lit match to a cigarette. Even though Giles couldn't see who it was, he knew instantly the moment the figure spoke. "Hello, Ripper."



NEXT



Chapter Text

Title: Clueless 18/20
Authors: Kim & Jen
Feedback: Oh yes, please! It's our drug of choice.
Disclaimer: We don't, never have, never will. We own our obsession with the G-man. We let them have fun and return them relatively unscathed to the Jossverse. Although, they probably have more fun with us.


Chapter 18/20


"Hello, Ethan," Giles said in a relaxed tone. "We were wondering when you would show up. I mean, this does have your name written all over it."

"Well, yes. I did try to explain that to my cohorts that I wouldn't be the surprise they expected me to be. I can still feel you, sometimes, when the wind blows just right."

Giles laughed. "You mean when you get randy enough and every woman in your sight has turned you down."

"There's that, too," Ethan responded with a smile. "Tell me, how's the Slayer treating you these days?"

"Quite well. We've grown closer recently. She seems to think that she's in love with me."

"I could have told her that years ago. Finally, I thought I detected a hint of jealous during that unfortunate candy incident. I must say, she has excellent taste."

"Ethan…" Giles said with a growl.

"Right, sorry. Not a topic of conversation. Moving on then, what's your take on the situation, thus far?"

"You escaped from the Initiative and decided to stir some trouble? But not by yourself. Some elements scream your name, but others are far too technologically advanced for you. You tend to stay with the classics of chaos. So, who are you working with this time?"

Ethan opened his mouth, then closed it suddenly. "I would tell you, if I could. But they placed a spell on me, preventing me from telling or helping directly, in case I was captured. But I can say that some of your ideas were close to the truth."

Giles was suspicious. "Why are you being so helpful all of a sudden? If you're working with our captors, I don't think they would consider your assistance a show of good faith."

Ethan spread his hands, assuming a guileless expression. "Now Ripper, you know me. Always willing to help a mate."

At Giles' glare, Ethan fidgeted slightly. "Fine, why don't we just say that it appears that I wasn't on the winning team. You know I like to be on the winning team – self preservation and all."

Giles looked closely at Ethan and decided that he was telling a form of the truth. Since Ethan wasn't trying to harm or stop him, he paced the small room and continued with his theories.

"A tweed coat was found, but as it stands, we are on decent terms with the Council, so I can discount them." Ethan nodded. "The monitoring station Buffy and I found, leads one to think of the military." Ethan inclined his head slightly. "But not an approved military operation?" Ethan nodded again. "Damn. We knew that their appearance was too timely."

"By George, Ripper, I think you've got it," Ethan laughed, threw the cigarette down and ground it out.

"Can you take me to the others?" Giles asked.

"Would, if I could. That counts as help. But, I have a feeling that you could find them, from here, if you concentrated hard enough," Ethan suggested.

"If I were to try, would you stop me?" Giles asked.

Ethan thought for a moment and replied, "No, I don't think so. I'm rather looking forward to the dust up, when all is revealed."

Giles nodded and closed his eyes. Something tickled at the edge of his senses and he opened the door, motioning Ethan to follow him. He turned left and started walking.

************

Buffy climbed back through the opening and turned to give Riley a hand. He jerked away from her and stomped off.

"Why would you think that I had anything to do with hurting your friends?" Riley asked harshly.

"Let's see. You have always had sucky timing, then you happen to show up, just when we could use help? If you wanted to help me, where were you when we were fighting Glory or when my mom died? That's when I needed someone, and you weren't there. I have someone who was, and it's nice. No, it's more than nice. It's what I deserve, not being asked to be less than I am and being told that everything is my fault. So yeah. Give me a reason why I shouldn't think that?"

"But Buffy, I do want you. This time apart has made me realize just how special you are, and I need you in my life. I need you to keep me going. I'm a better man when I'm with you."

"Oh please! Get over yourself. You expected to come back and have me fall in your arms, like nothing happened! Well, guess what? I've moved on and grew up. I had to when I buried my mom," Buffy sniffled, mad at herself for wanting to cry.

"I'd have been back sooner if I'd known. And your mom!" Riley exclaimed. "What would she say if she knew that you were involved with someone she slept with?"

"She always wanted me to be happy. It would have taken her a while to get used to the idea, but she and Giles were friends. She knew he was a good man."

"Look, let's just find the others and get out of here, okay? I just can't deal with this anymore."

"Fine," Buffy ground out. She started to walk away, when she realized something. "Hey! How did you find out about Giles and my mom? I never told you," she said, turning around.

The strike to her temple knocked her out cold.

************

Giles felt the magic surrounding him caress his skin. The closer he got, the warmer the air became. He stopped in front of a door and looked through the window. More monitors sat against a wall, and he opened the door. Ethan followed him in and smiled.

"Well, Ripper, haven't lost your touch. Still finding the lost boys and girls to rescue them."

Giles grinned, "Come off it. You were never lost, simply misplaced."

"You know, I quite like you when you're in lust. It's a becoming shade for you." Ethan rejoined.

"You aren't so bad yourself, when you're not a thorn in my ass. So where are they?"

"Ripper, look around you. See what there is, or rather, isn't there to be seen," Ethan suggested.

Giles walked around the room and saw the shimmer in a corner. As he got closer, the shimmer became brighter. He looked over his shoulder at Ethan and walked through the shimmer.

He saw his friends bound to the wall. When he started walking toward them, their bindings fell off and all but Spike rushed him.

They talked over each other until Giles raised a hand for quiet. Since Xander was the last one taken, Giles asked him how they managed it.

"It was Graham. Got me on my blind side when I turned away."

"You found something before it happened?" Giles asked.

"A trapdoor in the ground," Xander replied.

"Yes, we found that as well. That's how I ended up here. Buffy's still up top with Riley. Maybe they'll find us soon."

"But Giles!" Willow exclaimed. "Don't you know?"

"Know what, Willow?"

"My dear girl, how can you know everything from down here?" Ethan asked.

"I uh, see, when I got here, I kind of read you. It was all there on the surface. All I had to do was look." She shot him a shy smile. "I can even break the block you have, if you want."

"Really?" Ethan drawled. "I think I may take you up on your offer."

"Not right now, Ethan. Willow, I would be interested in knowing what you've found out."

"Giles, it's not the Initiative. It's Riley!"



NEXT



Chapter Text

Title: Clueless 19/20
Authors: Kim & Jen
Feedback: Oh yes, please! It's our drug of choice.
Disclaimer: We don't, never have, never will. We own our obsession with the G-man. We let them have fun and return them relatively unscathed to the Jossverse. Although, they probably have more fun with us.


Chapter 19/20


Buffy woke to a pounding in her skull. Lifting her head to look around, she stifled a groan at the lance of pain the movement caused. A second later, she realized that she was chained and back in the mansion, in the drawing room.

Someone, a very unlucky someone when she found them, had chained her hands together and bound one ankle to the radiator. Taking a deep breath, she brought her wrists apart abruptly in an attempt to break the chains.

Unfortunately, they refused to snap and she succeeded in nothing but causing bright spots to dance in front of her eyes from the strain. "Fine," she thought, "If I can't get my hands free, at least I can break this radiator and be able to move around."

Standing, she tried to pull back on the chain around her ankle, hoping the radiator would give. When that proved fruitless, she began kicking the radiator; certain she could break it eventually. Her concentration on freeing herself, and the noise from her kicking, prevented her from hearing the door open and close.

"I wouldn't bother, the chains are magically enhanced."

Buffy spun her face reflecting the surprise she felt at who stood before her.

"You had better know that in an `I just learned that from the evil mastermind' way rather than in an `I am the evil mastermind' kind of way. Otherwise, you're really going to regret life when I get loose."

Riley looked offended. "Evil mastermind seems a little harsh, don't you think? I have a question I need to ask you, and unfortunately you haven't been willing to listen to a word I have to say."

"So you hit me over the head and chain me up? You couldn't have just said, `Hey, Buffy, I need to ask you a really important question?'"

"You always do this. You make everything about you. Sometimes it's about other people Buffy."

"Gee, color me confused, but I don't think it was me signing up to donate blood on a nightly basis to skanky vamp chicks."

Riley ran his hand through his hair in frustration. "Look, this isn't getting us anywhere. Could you just listen to me for a second?"

Buffy folded her arms as best she could. "By all means. I'll try to listen over the clinking of my shackles."

Riley strode over to the fireplace, where he began to pace back and forth. "I know when I left, that things were sort of strained between us." He looked up at her snort, decided to ignore it, and went on. "But my time in the jungle gave me some time to think. We were good together, Buffy. We belong together. But I realized that I couldn't come back and be the Riley I was when I left. Spike's right, you know? You'll never be satisfied with an ordinary guy."

"I can't believe you think you can make relationship decisions based on what Spike says." Buffy's tone conveyed her annoyance. "I hardly think that Spike qualifies as an expert on my love life."

Riley's eyes narrowed. "Maybe he's not. Because if you're with Giles, like you claim to be, then maybe you don't mind ordinary."

Buffy shook her head. "You just don't get it." A wistful smile crossed her face. "Giles is the least ordinary man that I've known. It just took me a while to realize that."

Brushing aside her comment, Riley continued, "I decided I needed to be what I was before. I needed my enhanced skills back. Then we could be together, a team, like we used to be."

Buffy tamped down her rising frustration and decided the best way to get answers was to just let Riley talk. If he didn't hurry, however, she was going to find a way to wrap the chain around his neck and make him talk.

"I started doing some digging; trying to locate Professor Walsh's colleagues. I found Dr. Huston doing research in Seattle. He was one of the people who had helped her develop the serum that she used to give us. He had his own version that he was perfecting. I convinced him that I would be a perfect candidate to test it on. It was great." Riley turned, his face flushed and excited. "I was better than ever. I was going to come back for you then, but my unit got sent to clean up some demons in El Salvador."

"Riley," Buffy's tone was gentle, trying to calm Riley's rising energy level. It was time to nip these ideas in the bud. "Even if you had come back, I wouldn't have gone with you. I'm not going to go with you now. Hello, Slayer. I have to stay in Sunnydale. My life is there; Giles is there."

Riley's excitement turned to agitation. "You don't understand, Buffy. I need you."

"You don't need me Riley. You didn't need me before you left, and you sure don't now. You just think you do."

"No, Buffy. You're the one who doesn't get it. I *need* you."

"I'm only going to say this one more time Riley, and then things are going to get ugly. You. Don't. Need. Me."

Riley walked over to her, careful to stay out of reach. "I'll always need you, Buffy. But this time, it's so much more. I don't just need you, I need your blood."

*********************

"Riley?" Giles exclaimed in shock. "Why would he do this to us? To Buffy?"

Dawn slapped a hand to her forehead. "That's where I'd heard the name Huxley before. That's Riley's hometown."

Willow's eyes widened as she realized Dawn was correct. She returned her attention to the rest of the group and explained. "I'm not quite clear on that. Unfortunately, either Riley didn't let Ethan in on the reasons for his plan, or he managed to shield it somehow."

Ethan shrugged his shoulder, a casually elegant gesture. "He said he needed something, and he thought this was the best way to get it. Quite honestly, I wasn't going to ask too many questions if it meant ending my stay as a guest of the government." He sniffed. "Substandard accommodations, if you must know."

Dawn rolled her eyes. "Okay, people. We need to get out of here, and we need to figure out what Captain Creepy wants with Buffy."

"Captain Creepy?" Spike mused. "Better than Captain Cardboard, even."

Xander turned to Ethan and Giles as best he could with Anya clinging to his arm. "So, shall we go find the Buffster and contain the situation?"

At Giles' raised eyebrow he blushed. "Sorry, it's hard not to revert back when I'm around military stuff."

"I think it's very sexy," Anya declared.

"Yes, well, as fascinating as this is, we should go," Ethan suggested. Before they could all move toward the door, it opened suddenly.

"I don't think you're going anywhere," Graham said, releasing the safety on the machine gun he held.

******************

"You need my what?" Buffy shrieked. "Are you crazy?" Deciding that escape from the madman was an excellent option, she began struggling against her chains again. With a sudden thought, she stopped for a moment. "You're not a vampire are you?"

"No," he replied defensively.

"Okay," she acknowledged as she started kicking the radiator again.

"Buffy," Riley began. When she gave no indication she could hear him, he yelled, "BUFFY!"

She stopped her efforts, but moved into a defensive stance, determined that he was not going to get near her.

"Something was wrong with the serum."

"What serum?"

"The serum Dr. Huston developed. Its effects aren't as long-lasting as Professor Walsh's. I found out that the effects would only last for a couple of days at a time. I had to start taking more and more of it, but the results kept diminishing. I'm up to four doses a day. You don't understand, pretty soon, it's not going to work on me anymore." He clenched his fists tightly at his side, eyes wild. "I can't go back to being normal. I won't."

"Riley, there are worse things than not having super-strength. Don't you remember how sick you got?"

"That's where you come in, though. I told Dr. Huston all about you, your strength, and your healing ability. He thinks if he could use your blood, he could come up with a lasting serum that didn't wear off."

"Well you can forget it. That's just creepy. You cannot have my blood."

"See, I thought that's what you'd say." He moved back to the fireplace. "I thought about it for a long time. I needed to find a way to get you to agree to go with me, willingly.

"This was your brilliant plan? A game of Clue? Gee, maybe we could have played rock, paper, scissors for it?"

"I decided that if you wouldn't give me your blood, maybe blood from some other people would help while you changed your mind. Why do you think everyone else is here, Buffy? If I just wanted your blood I wouldn't have brought all the rest of them. I figured that a couple of witches, a Watcher, and a former vengeance demon might have some power running through their veins. Plus, watching Dr. Huston experiment on your friends might give you the incentive you need."

Buffy's mouth gaped in shock. She fervently hoped that Riley didn't have the first clue about Dawn. "What about Xander and Dawn? She asked. "And Spike"

"Xander and Dawn are collateral damage. And there are quite a few people who would like to have Spike back to do more tests on."

"Well forget it Riley. None of us, and most definitely not me, are going to cooperate. There's no way you're getting blood from anyone."

Riley turned towards her, a look of utter seriousness on his face. "Fine. You know, I didn't want to have to do this. In fact, I hate it, Buffy, but I've got everyone else trapped. If you don't agree to come with me, I'm going to kill them."



NEXT



Chapter Text

Title: Clueless 20/20
Authors: Kim & Jen
Feedback: Oh yes, please! It's our drug of choice.
Disclaimer: We don't, never have, never will. We own our obsession with the G-man. We let them have fun and return them relatively unscathed to the Jossverse. Although, they probably have more fun with us.


Chapter 20/20


At the sight of the gun, Dawn screamed. Xander took a step backward and motioned the girls behind him. Ethan leaned against the wall and crossed his arms over his chest, as Giles took a step forward.

"Stay where you are, Mr. Giles," Graham said swinging the gun at him. "I don't want to hurt you, but I have orders to keep you here."

"Yes, your orders," Giles drawled. "Since when does the government detain people using the level of magic you have here?"

"The government?" Graham snorted. "They don't have the first idea how to deal with HST's. Science? Technology? The only good HST is a dead HST. We have a better plan, a better way. The old ideas, like books and magic are history. Riley's come up with the perfect blend of the mystical and the medical to make those who follow him forge a new path in the world," Graham replied, a touch of mania lacing his voice.

Tara sensed the emotions roiling off the man and moved further behind the others. She grabbed Willow's hand and squeezed, sending along the beginnings of a plan. Willow's eyes narrowed slightly as she added more detail. Both girls nodded at each other; it was definitely workable.

"The mystical and medical?" Giles asked. "Stupid boy, don't you think it that were anything other than a horrible idea, others would have already accomplished it? Did the hubris that created Adam teach you nothing?"

"Adam was a mistake. But every plan has designs that don't work. What I do know is that we are on the verge of a new day in the fight, and I will be on the front lines," Graham said, pointing his gun at the others in the room. "All we need is the Slayer's blood to make it work. Now, if you don't mind, Mr. Rayne, Mr. Giles, move closer to the others. When they didn't move, Graham aimed the gun at Dawn's head. "I said I didn't want to hurt you. I didn't say I wouldn't."

******************

"Kill them?" Buffy replied haltingly. "You wouldn't. You can't! Riley, what happened to you besides going crazy?"

"I'm not crazy!" Riley screamed, proving exactly otherwise. "I'd watch what I say, if I were you. I hold your friends' and your," he spat the word, "boyfriend's lives in my hands." He continued, agitation and anger warring in his voice. "Can you ever make anything easy? You can't just do things like a normal girl. I should have been able to sweep in and save the day, your hero. But no, you always have to be the hero, don't you? You can't let anyone else do it; except your precious Watcher. Why Giles, Buffy? You were supposed to be waiting for me."

"Waiting for what?" she cried tugging on the chains again. "The little woman, crying her eyes out for you? Sorry, but I have a life to live; people to take care of, a world to save."

"Buffy, just stop it!" His tone turned pleading, "I know you love me, and I love you. I, I need you to keep me going, in more ways than one now. The blood is just a small part of it, don't you see? The two of us, plus a few others, all super beings, can rid the world of demons permanently. Not just a few at a time, but for always. We can make it safe for children, our children, to play outside; make it safe for people to walk the streets at night. All we need is some of your blood."

Buffy stared at the man she thought she'd known and shook her head. "No, Riley. The only way you will get my blood is over my dead body."

"That won't work. I need you alive. The others would be a bonus, but they're not critical. You're the only one I really need. But if not over your dead body, how about your friends'?" Riley asked, taking a radio out of his pocket. "Graham, change of plans, kill them."

******************

Graham acknowledged the call and pointed the gun at Spike.

"Hate to break it to you, mate, but that won't kill me."

"No, but it will make it easier to stake you," Graham sneered. Suddenly, he looked down at the gun, which had floated out of his hands and was moving toward the ceiling. "What the…" he exclaimed, as the gun rose out of his reach. He jumped, but couldn't reach it.

"Now!" Tara yelled as Spike and Giles rushed the man. Spike aimed a blow at Graham's face that connected and fell to the floor in pain caused by his chip, as Giles caught the man with a shoulder to the stomach. They crashed into the wall, knocking Graham out cold.

The gun floated toward Xander, and he grabbed it. Dawn and Willow hurried forward with some of the chains and quickly bound the unconscious man. Willow whispered a spell over the bonds and they glowed briefly.

Ethan stepped away from the wall and approached Willow. "Now, little witch, what were you saying about that block?"

"Not now, Ethan!" Giles growled. "We need to get out of here and find Buffy. I hate to think of what Buffy will do if she thinks that we are dead."

The others nodded and filed out of the room behind Giles.

******************

"Riley, don't!" Buffy screamed. Sobs wracked her body as she imagined the cruel and senseless deaths of her friends. She swore that as soon as she was freed, Riley would die a slow and painful death. Tugging harder on the chains, she managed to pull the radiator away from the wall slightly.

Riley slid the radio back into his pocket. He smiled nastily at Buffy. "Well, now what do you have to live for? Your friends are dead; your only family is dead. I'm all you have left."

"You're wrong," Buffy said, swiping at her tears. "I have me, and that's all I need to kick your ass. If you ever touch me again, I'll kill you in ways that your sick brain can't even think of."

"Damn it, Buffy! What do I have to do to make you see that I'm all you need?"

"Well, for starters, you can get the hell away from my girlfriend!"

Buffy and Riley faced the door and saw Giles leading the charge. Giles flew into the room and slammed a fist into Riley's face, knocking him over the couch and away from Buffy. Riley snarled and started to rise, just as Xander pointed the machine gun at him.

"You just stay right where you are. I like you better over there," Xander said.

Willow, Tara, and Dawn rushed to Buffy and released her from the chains while Xander and Spike made short work of biding and gagging Riley. Buffy hugged the girls briefly and then rushed to Giles, checking him over to make sure he was unhurt before kissing him soundly. The others saw the action and stopped.

"What? When?" Willow stuttered.

"What have I been telling all of you? I told you they were together, but no. You just wouldn't believe me," Anya said smugly.

"Ok, ok. You were right, we were wrong. Happy?" Xander asked.

"Yes, as long as we can go home. I don't want to rent anymore movies with Buffy for a very long time. She seems to be a bad luck magnet. I do, however, think we should go home and have sex." She looked around earnestly. "Sex is an appropriate activity after a life-threatening experience."

"Is there ever a time when you find sex inappropriate?" Giles muttered under his breath.

Xander blushed, and the others, pointedly, looked away. "Well, I think we can manage that, but we have to get out of here first. Anyone know how we do that?"

Ethan cleared his throat. "All you have to do is ask. First, your little witch needs to remove her clever blocking spell, I can't cast magic on you with it in the way. Then, if she would be so kind as to remove the barriers the government was so kind to place in my mind. I can't help you as I am."

Buffy moved closer to Giles and slid her arm around his waist. Giles bent his head and kissed her forehead as he looked at Ethan.

"How do we know that you'll send us back where we were? What's to keep you from sending us elsewhere?"

"Nothing, old man," Ethan grinned, "except for the fact that I'll need to be able to get to the wedding, whenever that occurs. You have my word, on Janus, that you go right back to where you belong. I quite like having you around."

"I ought to thrash you within an inch of your life for getting us involved in this madness to begin with," Giles pointed out.

While everyone looked between the two, waiting to see what would happen, Giles finally chuckled, "But maybe I'll save it for your next visit." He nodded, and Willow stepped forward, placing one hand on Ethan's head and the other on his heart.

Ethan's body went taut with shock, then relaxed as Willow backed away. "Thank you, my dear girl. That was quite," he paused searching for the right word, "powerful. Please remember to look me up if you ever want a walk on the wild side. Should make for an interesting time."

Willow blushed slightly, then his words penetrated. "Hey!" she cried.

"Now, I suggest that everyone find a comfortable position, sit along the walls or on the floor," Ethan said. When no one moved, he sighed. "I have to put you back to sleep to get you out of here, unless you'd rather fall asleep standing."

Everyone reluctantly did as he said. Ethan started with Spike, and the others watched as he fell asleep and disappeared. One by one, people faded away until only Buffy and Giles were left.

Giles gave Ethan a wry smile and Ethan nodded. With a wave of his hand, Giles' head fell to the side and he vanished.

Ethan stood in front of Buffy and hesitated. "I'd like a word with you first, Buffy."

Buffy eyed him warily, but said nothing.

"Take care of my Ripper. He really does love you," he grudgingly admitted. "As much as my actions in the past might seem to the contrary, he deserves to be happy." He grinned roguishly. "If I can't make him happy, I suppose I'd rather it be you."

Buffy stood and hugged him quickly. Ethan patted her on the back and she pulled away. "Promise. If I do hurt him, I'll give you one free shot at me." Dropping the flippancy for a moment, she looked at him solemnly. "I do love him."

"I know, dear girl. I know. Now, get ready."

Buffy sat against the wall and closed her eyes, then opened them again quickly. "Why do we have to be asleep? What will happen to Riley and Graham? And why Clue?" she asked.

"I suspect Clue because the spell is shaped, in part, by the subconscious of the participants. You were all watching the movie when the spell was cast. As to the young men," Ethan said with a nod toward Riley, "they will remain here. A fitting punishment, I think. They wanted me to create this world, shouldn't they have to stay?" Ethan laughed as she faded. "And to answer your first question, because you aren't really here."

******************

Buffy rubbed her face against her soft and moving pillow. A hand moved up and cupped her head. She snuggled closer to the pillow and placed a kiss on it. Realizing what she had done, she sat up quickly and looked around.

Willow and Tara were waking up from their doze, still snuggled in the chair. Anya rolled over and her outstretched hand slapped Xander in the face. He sat up quickly looking at everyone. Dawn continued to sleep.

"Who? What?" Xander mumbled.

"Yes, Xander, well put," Giles rolled his eyes. He pulled Buffy back into the circle of his arms and tightened his hold. She relaxed against him and smiled up at him. He placed a kiss on the tip of her nose and took in the others, slowly coming out of their slumber.

"Where are Riley and Graham?" Giles asked her.

"Ethan said that he was going to leave them there. They helped to create the world, they should live in it," she smiled.

"Dare I ask what else Ethan said to you?"

"Nah, just girl talk." At Giles' incredulous look, Buffy laughed. She rose to kiss him on the cheek and whispered in his ear, "He wanted to make sure I was taking proper care of you."

Giles blushed and whispered back, "I think that we should discuss 'taking care of each other' when there are fewer people around."

"We will, Rupert. We will."



THE END!