Buffy angrily wiped at the tears streaming down her face as she slowed down. Somehow her Slayer skills had kept her from falling and breaking her neck in her mad dash into the woods and she knew that was about all that had saved her. <She certainly hadnít been thinking,> she now reflected.
Buffy heard the soothing sound of a stream and walked towards it instinctively. She was hot, tired and felt covered in sweat and grime. She found a small creek running over boulders and cool looking ground. The Slayer knelt down on a boulder and dipped her hands into the stream and let the water splash over her upturned face. She knew better than to drink the water but just cooling her skin felt good. The water was ice cold and revived her energy.
Buffy sat down on another boulder and watched the water flowing and let it take her panic with it. She knew it had been stupid to run off like that just because Xander had made a stupid joke about her possible werewolf status. If she let every Xander comment get to her, Buffy realized, she would have killed him a long time ago.
The Slayer let the sun warm her as her sweat covered body began to cool down in the chilled autumn air of late October. Then her Slayer senses kicked into alert and she looked around cautiously, pretending not to notice anything or to be alarmed.
Buffy cursed herself for running off from the others. She could usually take care of herself and often spent time saving her friends when they tried to help her but she knew things were different now. Giles was right, if Buffy was infected with lycanthropy, she shouldnít be alone where Oz could reach her.
The Slayer somehow knew the movement surrounding her was dangerous. After a moment several figures appeared on all sides of her, four on the other side of the river and three on her side. One in front, side and back. There were five males and two females and they had the same predatory look that Buffy had seen before when spirits of hyenas had possessed several of the students, including Xander. These males and females had that same feral look, even though they were dressed like any other high school or college student.
Buffy stood up slowly and waited, her eyes darting around constantly, trying to keep them all in sight as they moved closer.
The Slayer didnít even bother to look surprised when Oz stepped out of the trees and slowly approached her. He had dyed his hair and beard black, probably in an effort to avoid the police but that was the only thing that had really changed about him.
<In fact>, Buffy thought, <he had gotten scruffier.> His clothes hung limply on him and hadnít seen the inside of a washing machine in quite awhile. His shirt still had the blood from where she had stabbed him with the silver dagger a month earlier.
"Oz," Buffy said easily.
"About time you showed up," he growled. "Ready to join the pack?"
"Not really, I was really looking for some quiet time," Buffy said easily. "You know how it is; slaying day and night, needed a break."
"Donít fight it, Buffy," Oz ignored her quip. "I can smell my mark on you; youíre already part of the pack."
"You know, I discovered when I was cheerleader that Iím not really a joining person anymore," Buffy said casually as she jumped off the boulder, still keeping an eye on the other werewolves. "I think Iíll pass on this one."
"You donít have a choice," Oz growled, his green eyes shifting to wolf yellow. "Same old Buffy though, youíll probably be joking when someone rips your throat out."
"Well, when that happens someday, Iíll let you know," Buffy countered.
"Buffy, either you come with us today and join the pack or I hurt you really badly and we take you anyway," Oz grinned, his teeth growing into fangs.
"Nobody tells me what to do, even Giles learned that one a long time ago," Buffy growled.
"You canít fight me, Buffy," Oz laughed a guttural laugh. "Iím your alpha male."
"Donít you sense something else, Oz?" Buffy grinned right back at him as she pulled a silver dagger out of her belt. "Iím not yours!"
Oz moved a little closer and sniffed the air and Buffyís muscles tensed.
She grinned a vicious smile when his eyes widened in shock and he began to tremble.
"Willow?" he said softly. "You mated with Willow? After I bit you?"
"She insisted," Buffy grinned and answered Ozís growl with one of her own. "Seems she wants me instead of you, even as a wolf."
Oz roared his rage and dived at the Slayer.
Even expecting the attack, the swiftness almost caught Buffy off guard as Oz changed in mid-air and, as a full werewolf, tackled her into the boulder behind her. Knowing she didnít have to worry really about being bitten or scratched, Buffy fought back with no holds barred and rammed the dagger into his chest as he raked hers with one of his clawed paws.
The werewolf fell back howling in pain as his pack gathered around him. Buffy noticed they were circling and appeared nervous but none of them moved in, they were leaving the fighting to their leader until he gave the signal.
Buffy tried to regain her feet but was stunned to discover how much the slashes across her chest hurt.
Oz managed to get to his feet at the same time the Slayer did and they squared off once again: Oz with his claws at the ready and Buffy with the dagger in her hand.
Suddenly shots filled the air followed by screams and sounds of panic. Oz looked around in confusion as his pack was scattering to the woods or across the river and shots were following them. Two of his pack were on the ground, one dead with a head shot and the other moaning with a back wound that was probably fatal.
Oz turned as Buffy attempted to stab him again and backhanded her into the water. He bounded over her to the other side of the river and disappeared into the woods.
"Here!" she called out, getting to her hands and knees in the water and then she began moving towards the embankment. Two sets of legs were there in a moment, splashing around her as hands grabbed her by the arms and helped her to the bank. She was turned over and she saw Giles and Tara examining her as her teeth began to chatter.
"Glad you guys showed up," she stammered through her teeth.
"Weíve got to get her to a hospital, even with her Slayer healing sheís going into shock with that cold water and loss of blood," Giles grumbled as he stripped off his coat and covered the Slayer with it.
Together they got the Slayer on her feet and began walking her back towards the car.
"Itís too far away, Giles," Tara complained as Buffy became harder to guide as she started to slip into unconsciousness.
"I know, I know," he growled. "Listen, give me your jacket. Iím going to stay with Buffy; you get back to the car and guide the paramedics in here. Iím going to call them on the cell phone and tell them where the car is. Can you run that far and back?"
"I have to," Tara said firmly and handed the Watcher her jacket. He quickly added it to his as he laid his charge on the pine covered forest floor.
Giles leaned over Buffy and checked her pulse and wasnít happy with what he found. The Watcher moved his body alongside Buffyís and pulled her into his arms, trying to lend his warmth to her quickly cooling body.
He pulled out his cellular phone and started making his calls, first to the paramedics; Detective Santiago was next, followed by the call to Joyce and Willow.
Giles met Willow and Joyce outside the Emergency room.
"She's going to be fine!" he said quickly, attempting to reassure a very anxious mother and lover of his Slayer. "Just as we feared, Oz and his pack found her and she fought with him. We got there in time to break it up but he got in one good slash across her chest and she landed in the creek."
"Then why the hospital?" Willow demanded.
"She went into shock from the loss of blood and the cold water, the doctor's are finishing stitching the wounds now and say that she'll be fine," Giles said gently. "They've warmed her up, replaced her blood and cleaned the wounds. They want to keep her overnight just to be sure."
"When can we see her?" Willow asked.
"They'll let Joyce in right after they finish with the stitches. They want the rest of us to wait until they move her upstairs," Giles answered and moved aside as Joyce rushed past him. He led the distraught witch inside the Emergency Waiting Room where Tara quickly hugged the redhead.
Ignoring the other anxious people waiting for loved ones or waiting to be seen, the taller witch leaned down and kissed Willow lightly on the lips and continued to hug her.
"Goddess, I needed that," Willow muttered. She and Tara went to a free set of chairs with Giles.
The Watcher looked frazzled and Tara looked exactly like what she had been through, she looked like she had taken a mad dash through the woods in the middle of fall. There was mud covering the bottom of her sweat pants and sweat stains on the shirt and her hair was mussed up. Willow tried to ignore the blood on Tara's sweat jacket, knowing it was Buffy's.
"Okay, what happened?" Willow leaned over, whispering to both of them.
"Oz attacked her and they were fighting when we got there," Giles began.
"Giles shot a couple of them and they scattered just as Oz knocked Buffy into the creek and ran," Tara finished.
"She got in a good chest wound and so did he," Giles continued. "Tara ran to lead the paramedics in while I called everyone. I told Detective Santiago that Oz attacked her with some kind of clawed weapon, like a martial arts thing."
"Good thinking," Willow muttered. "How bad are the wounds?"
"Deep but not bad for a Slayer," he whispered. "They'll heal over and barely leave scars."
"She was able to fight him?" Willow demanded, her green eyes shining brightly.
"Yes, they were fighting when we got there," Tara nodded. "I think your bonding worked."
"Thank the goddess," the witch muttered and leaned back in her chair.
"I've called Xander to watch over Buffy's room tonight and Anya to stay with us at Joyce's place," Giles informed the young witches.
"Good idea. Tomorrow we all need to talk about Halloween night," Willow said
firmly. "I know we've been avoiding it but it's time."
"I agree," Giles said wearily.
All three stood up quickly when Joyce entered the waiting area and then rushed over to the Slayer's mother.
"She's awake and asking for both of you," she said with a small smile. "They're
moving her to the third floor, room 17. Go on up, Giles and I will follow."
Willow and Tara were off promptly, trying to refrain from breaking into a run down the hospital corridor to the elevator.
Joyce turned and accepted Giles' offer of an embrace as she began to cry.
"How do you do it, Rupert?" she sobbed. "She looked so small on that bed. Those bandages were so large!"
"I won't lie to you and say it gets easier, it doesn't," he admitted as they began
walking towards the elevators.
"What if she is infected?" she whispered. "How are we supposed to deal with that?"
"I don't know, I just don't know."
Buffy managed to smile when Tara and Willow entered the room and she reached out her hands to both of them.
"Oh my God, Buffy!" Willow cried and held the Slayer's hand next to her cheek.
"I fought him, Wills," Buffy said softly as Tara stroked the blonde hair off Buffy's forehead. "He didn't control me."
"And you almost got yourself killed!" Tara countered with a slight smile.
"I'll be mostly healed by tomorrow," Buffy protested.
"Taking on a pack of werewolves by yourself was not in the plan!" Willow responded.
"Terrific, now I've got two girlfriends to gang up on me!" Buffy grinned.
"You bet!" Willow nodded as Tara grinned and pulled up a chair.
"Giles and your mom will be here in a minute," Tara said.
"Cool," Buffy said softly.
"I'm going to stay here until Xander takes over when he gets off work at the mall," Tara continued as Buffy began to drift into a drugged sleep.
"My God, Tara, I can't lose either of you," Willow whispered, reaching across the bed and touching the other witch's arm.
"I know, neither could we," she agreed. "Let's get through the next few days and see what happens."
Willow nodded as Giles and Joyce entered the room.
Giles had over-ridden Tara's decision to stay with Buffy and insisted that she stay with Willow and Joyce and the three women had finally gone home, leaving the Watcher to watch over Buffy.
The Watcher settled in with his notebook, writing down all the revelations of the last couple of days among the Wiccans and his Slayer while Buffy slept a healing sleep of recovery. Giles was stunned for a moment when he looked up at the sound of the door opening and realized Riley had stepped into the room.
Giles frowned and put his notebook behind him in his waistband as he stood up.
"What do you want, Riley?" he questioned.
The young commando was in civilian clothes but had a very serious look on his face and Giles was cautious.
"I've come for Buffy," Riley responded.
"What on earth do you mean?"
"We heard the police scanner and Detective Santiago's orders to look for Oz in the woods. She's been attacked by a werewolf and we're taking her in for safety," he said in a flat voice.
"Buffy is our responsibility, not yours!" Giles hissed as he ran a hand through his mussed up hair. Riley, watching the Watchers' eyes, failed to notice Giles' other hand moving to his coat pocket.
"Slaying vampires and demons is yours and now your Slayer is a hostile, that makes her our responsibility," Riley countered, his eyes showing anger.
"Why, so you can lock her in a cage, put some device in her head to drive her insane for the rest of her life?" Giles demanded.
"What will you do with her?" Riley countered. "Lock her away in a cell somewhere like you did Oz? So she can howl at the moon all night and maybe get out, like he did."
"Buffy isn't going with you," Giles growled.
"Get over it, old man," Riley snapped. "A team is on its way, we'll take her even if we have to go over you to do it."
Riley looked surprised when he moved forward towards Buffy's bed and found himself staring at a Glock automatic pistol in Giles' hand. The commando froze in place.
"You won't do it, librarian," Riley muttered.
"You don't know Watchers, we train girls to fight better than you'll ever achieve," Giles smiled a deadly smile and Riley had the feeling he was suddenly watching a Bond movie. "My nickname used to be Ripper; do you really want to test whether I can pull the trigger to protect Buffy?"
Riley looked down the barrel into the unflinching eyes and calm face of the Slayer's Watcher and knew with a chill that Giles really would pull the trigger and would have less remorse than Buffy over killing.
"Get out of here, I want to watch from Buffy's window and see you moving across the lawn towards the parking lot," Giles ordered. "If I don't, then I'll shoot anyone coming through that door I don't know, including you and I am an expert shot and have plenty of clips in my pocket."
"We'll be back for her," Riley warned.
"If I see anything that looks like you or your playmates, I will nail your sorry bloody asses to the wall and pin your ears back, little boy," Giles growled and cocked the weapon as Riley turned bright red with anger. "Don't think that I'd get away with shooting my future step-daughter's stalking ex-boyfriend as he hovered over her hospital bed threatening her? This is Sunnydale, Riley, they won't even ask questions, especially after you were seen fighting with her physically because she rejected you for a female."
"I'll kill you, Giles," Riley threatened.
"It'll take more than you," Giles snarled. "You're male ego was so assaulted that you assailed her in the hospital after you heard she had been attacked. I found you threatening her and choking her and I had to defend my future stepdaughter. Forget about Buffy, tell your team that she wasn't bitten by Oz because she wasn't; she was slashed. Either you forget about her or I'll make sure every single person on campus hears my version of your hospital visit."
"My superiors won't believe you!"
"Yes they will, they know how hung up sexually you were with Buffy," Giles said easily. "They even doubted your judgment in bringing Buffy into the Initiative, didn't they?"
Riley's refusal to answer was enough of an answer for the Watcher.
"Leave, Riley, and convince your team she wasn't bitten or you'll deal with a very pissed off Slayer tomorrow," Giles suggested.
"You shouldnít mess with the Initiative," Riley threatened.
"I donít know what the conversation is about here but that sounded like a threat," a new voice entered the conversation and both Giles and Riley glanced over and saw Detective Santiago standing in the doorway with his gun drawn on Riley.
Giles quickly lowered his pistol.
"Young Mr. Finn was just leaving," he said calmly. "He and Buffy broke up last week and he isnít taking it well. I was encouraging him to leave."
"Then maybe you should leave Mr. Finn," Detective Santiago said just as calmly, lowering his gun but keeping it in his hand.
Riley turned on his heels and left, quickly.
"Okay, Mr. Giles," Detective Santiago began as he entered the room and put his gun away. "Itís time for some answers and I want the truth."
Giles sighed heavily and sat down and became very attentive when Buffy began stirring.
Detective Brad Santiago waited with his questions as they both watched the young blonde woman begin moaning and thrashing.
Giles leaned over and gently held Buffyís hand and began shaking the Slayer.
"Buffy, itís okay," he said softly. "Come on, wake up, youíre safe."
After a moment the wounded woman slowly opened her eyes and smiled slightly at the sight of Gilesí concerned face. Her eyebrows rose in question when she spotted Detective Santiago on the other side of her bed.
"Hey," she said.
"Nightmare again?" Giles asked.
"As usual," Buffy attempted to shrug and winced at the pain from moving her chest. "Ow!"
"Easy, you," Giles chuckled slightly. "Detective Santiago walked in while I was having a rather heated discussion with Riley Finn."
"Riley?" Buffy tried to sit up and moaned in pain. "What did he want? Last time I saw him he was calling me a dyke."
"Buffy," Giles took off his glasses and began cleaning them with a Kleenex from Buffyís nightstand. "Detective Santiago is demanding answers and knowing him, heís going to keep digging."
"You want him in?" Buffy asked with a frown.
"Hey, Iím right here!" Brad protested but Giles waved at him in a dismissive manner, still focusing on his Slayer.
"Well, it might be advantageous," Giles said thoughtfully.
"If he believes us," Buffy countered.
"Well, there is always the fresh grave approach," Giles smiled.
"Oh right, like Merrick pulled on me!" Buffy smirked.
"Goddamn it!" Brad nearly shouted. "What the hell is going on?"
"Quiet for a moment, detective," Giles ordered. "Itís Buffyís life that is the one ultimately at stake, itís her decision."
"Well, we donít have to answer to the Council for someone other than the Powers That Be knowing what I do," she continued to frown in thought. "Yeah, okay, go for it."
"Itíll be difficult, how to convince him quickly," Giles said thoughtfully.
"Fresh grave tonight?" Buffy suggested.
"Seems the quickest plan," Giles agreed and turned to the detective. "Tell me, Detective Santiago, has anyone died within the last three days from massive blood loss from a brutal neck wound?"
"Well, yeah, one of the detectives was talking about it," Brad answered with a frown.
"Do you know where the victim is buried?" Giles asked.
"No, afraid not," Brad answered, his face still a mass of confusion.
"Thatís okay, Willow can hack into the Coroners records," Buffy said confidently.
"Hey, thatís not legal!" Brad protested.
"Donít worry about it, Detective," Giles smirked. "Itíll get much worse," the Watcher turned to Buffy. "Iíll call Anya to watch over you until Xander gets off work."
"Is Xander mad at me?" Buffy asked, her voice sounding younger and smaller.
"No, Anya said that he is fine and thinks that he was an idiot," Giles smiled. "Sit down, Detective Santiago, itíll take Anya a few minutes to get here and we may as well start with the explanations."
Two hours later, Anya joined them and occasionally threw her own viewpoint into the discussion of informing the former New Yorker of the place he had moved to and Buffyís role in it.
Buffy was obviously uncomfortable with being talked about but tolerated it and threw in her own version of things occasionally.
Anya had gone out and brought back sodas for everyone, as Giles was finishing up his explanation.
Brad sat back in his chair and took a long steady look into the face of each of the other people in the room. His well honed detective skills and instincts told him that they werenít lying to him; either they were all insane and shared the same delusion or they were quiet serious. That probably also included Riley Finn, given the encounter Brad had walked in on earlier.
"Vampires, werewolves, secret government operations, witches, slayers and watchers, oh boy," he muttered. "Have I stumbled onto the set of the Twilight Zone?"
"I wish it were that simple, not many people died on the Twilight Zone," Buffy countered. "Here they die every day and usually horribly."
"I can prove it to you in a few hours," Giles said calmly. He was tired and had a headache. He also needed a shower after tracking Buffy through the woods and caring for his injured Slayer.
"Okay, Iíll give you that some things appear weird around this town and no one seems to notice it," Brad Santiago said reluctantly. "Iíll even agree that everything youíve said fits the evidence I have."
"But?" Giles asked with a slight smile.
"How do you intend to prove it to me? Have me sit on a fresh grave and let a vampire pop up like that other Watcher did to Buffy?"
"Something like that, yes," Giles answered.
"Okay, Iím all for field trips and Iíll take you up on it," Brad said.
"Youíre taking this well," Anya commented. "Most run screaming in the night when confronted with vampires, or stand around in disbelief which makes them easy meals."
"Yeah, well, I grew up in New York, Iíve seen a lot of stuff," Brad grinned. "My grandma was also a Brujah woman."
"Brujah, that dumb vampire role playing game?" Buffy asked.
"No," Brad laughed. "No, Spanish witch woman. Incense, prayers, a little home magic."
Buffy began nodding off when the second round of pain medication began to take affect.
"So, Buffy might be a werewolf like Oz, this secret government organization wants her to experiment on, Willow and Tara are witches, and Anya there is a former demon. Does that cover it?"
"Yes, actually, you keep track well," Giles admitted.
"Thanks, Iím putting two guards on the door outside Buffyís room to keep Riley Finn and his comrades out until she can be released tomorrow. Iím going to call my wife and let her know Iím going to miss dinner tonight," Brad said, getting to his feet.
"Donít eat dinner before going out," Anya suggested. "Sometimes the vampires have very poor hygiene and the smell can make you hurl."
A somewhat green looking Brad Santiago joined the Scooby Gang at the home of Joyce and Buffy Summers.
Xander, Tara, Willow and Joyce were obviously confused since Giles had called a meeting to discuss their plans for Halloween and bringing a police detective didnít seem like part of the plans or discussion. Then the Watcher explained that Brad Santiago of the Sunnydale police force had been given the basics about vampires, werewolves, demons, Slayers and the Hellmouth.
Both Willow and Tara started blushing and Xander was angry.
"Shouldnít you have asked us?" he demanded from Giles.
"Probably but there wasnít time," Giles said firmly. "Detective Santiago caught me with an automatic weapon pointed at Riley Finn and threatening his life. Buffy agreed."
"Okay, Xander!" Willow snapped. "Itís done! Giles is right; we could use someone in law enforcement."
"Oh you mean someone who isnít just a mall security jerk!" Xander snapped back.
"I didnít say that!" Willow protested. "Donít go getting male territorial!"
"Me? Who said I was territorial?" Xander demanded.
"Children!" Giles snapped. "Letís get down to the planning, shall we? As unpleasant as it is, we need to discuss what weíre going to do Halloween night."
"Well," Willow said hesitantly. "I kinda had a plan if everyone agrees."
"Letís sit down at the table shall we?" Joyce suggested. "I helped Willow and Tara draw out plans of the crypt and graveyard where Oz built that cell."
The Scooby Gang, minus Anya and adding Brad, sat down around the table and turned their attention to Willow.
"Welcome to the Scooby Gang, Detective Santiago," she said shyly.
"Scooby Gang?" he questioned with a smile.
"Kinda of a traditional name we have for ourselves. Weíre like Slayerettes and Buffy is the Slayer. We help her, doing research and helping during battle sometimes," Willow explained.
"Donít let her fool you, Detective," Xander grinned. "Those two are becoming scary with their magick type skills."
Brad smiled at how both young witches began blushing on cue.
"Why donít you all call me Brad?" he suggested. "After seeing a vampire up close and personal tonight, Iím honored to be included with a group that is brave enough to face that night after night."
There was an awkward silence as the Scooby Gang blushed, no one protested that they were brave but they were thinking it. The Gang looked at it somewhat like Buffy, they didnít have a choice in fighting the evil things because it had to be done and they were there. Brad would have pointed out that it was exactly this attitude that made them heroes if anyone had asked but he kept the thought to himself. <Heíd convince them later,> he thought to himself.
"Hey, enough mutual admiration!" Xander declared. "Night before and Halloween night! Whatís the deal, Wills?"
"Well, I have a new spell I want to try while Buffy is locked in theÖin theÖ" she hesitated as she glanced over at Joyce.
"Itís okay, Willow," Joyce responded to the witchís discomfort. "I know that weíre going to have to lock her up until we know for sure if sheís infected. Itís a cell in a crypt, I can handle that."
"I want to be left alone with Buffy," Willow continued and held her hand up against the protest from around the table. "We know from experience that if Buffy is a werewolf, sheíll respond better with only one person in the room and that logically is me."
"Okay, what is this spell?" Giles demanded.
"Two spells actually," Willow tried to smile. "I think Tara should be outside the crypt and cast the second spell. Itís a protection spell that makes a shield of silver; werewolves shouldnít be able to break it. Thatíll keep Oz and any of his pack out of the crypt."
"What about the secret passages, we know they didnít just vanish when you were there," Xander asked.
"The spell will wrap the crypt in a silver light, itíll cover the secret places too," Willow explained.
"And your spell?" Giles demanded again.
"Itís a massive sleep spell and it might catch me in it as well. I figure if Buffy starts changing, I throw the spell and hope to prevent some of the pain and the werewolf frenzy."
Giles frowned but nodded. It made sense and it was a good plan. He knew the rest of the plan had the rest of the Scooby Gang outside protecting the crypt and slaying anything getting too near it.
"Iím on shift Halloween night," Brad said thoughtfully. "Thereís already extra patrols being added because of what night it is. How else can I help?"
Tara giggled and everyone turned to look at her.
"Itís a safe bet that Riley will be looking for Buffy that night, right?" she asked Giles.
"Yes, it would seem likely that he and one of his team will be waiting outside for Buffy to go out slaying that night or for us to take her someplace safe for the night," Giles responded.
"Do you think that Riley could be picked up by the police for the night? A case of mistaken identity or something?" she suggested.
Giles looked surprised and then pleased, everyone else looked confused for a while longer. Then grins spread around the table.
"I think something might be arranged," Brad said slowly. "You know Iím crossing a line here."
"Yes, and if itís beyond what your morals can handle, weíll understand," Giles said quickly. "We would never ask you to do something you couldnít live with."
"I notice that you donít limit yourself to asking me to do something illegal or that could get me fired," Brad pointed out.
"No, Iíll admit that," Giles nodded. "Already youíve been aware that we illegally carry pistols, that we have filed false police reports, have hacked into government computer records, and have destroyed bodies that could be evidence."
Brad frowned. "Okay, Iím in, totally. We moved to Sunnydale to give my daughter a safe place to grow up and now it looks like we moved into Spook Central. Iíll fight that with you."
"Thank you, we try and stay on the legal side of things most of the time, at least the morally legal side," Giles smiled.
"Okay, Iíll get Riley Finn out of commission that night. What about the other government types, wonít they just go after Buffy?"
"Probably only half-heartedly," Giles commented slowly. "Most of them didnít care to be shown up by a small female all the time and resented her presence as well as Rileyís focus on her. Given a choice theyíd rather forget she exists."
"Theyíll also have their hands full that night," Willow added. "Halloween brings out all the crazies, the Initiative doesnít know about the Rule and theyíll expect the dead and undead ones to be out."
"Rule?" Brad questioned.
"Itís kinda of an unwritten thing among them," Giles explained. "They take the night off on Halloween and let the mundanes, the humans play."
"That is totally weird," Brad complained.
"Willow, are you telling us everything about those spells?" Joyce asked pointedly.
"Iím hoping that the spell will pull the wolf spirit into a dormant state," Willow admitted.
"Where did you find this spell, that doesnít sound familiar," Giles asked.
"Through my contact on the internet, Grayfox," Willow answered.
"Heís been very reliable in the past," Tara commented and Giles merely nodded.
"I suggest we move Buffy to the crypt early that day to avoid any potential ambushes from the Initiative," Xander suggested and everyone nodded.
"Okay, Willow, you and Joyce go to the crypt tomorrow and set things up since you know what you need for your spell," Giles instructed. "Xander and I will check the weapons and pick up Buffy from the hospital first thing in the morning."
Everyone nodded and Giles looked around. "Any questions?"
"Yeah, what kills a vampire other than a wooden stake and do silver bullets really work on werewolves?" Brad asked.
Xander grinned and everyone smiled.
"Letís have some coffee while we talk about Slaying 101, shall we?" Giles suggested, including Joyce in it as well.
"Giles, weíre going to the living room and watch TV," Willow told the older man and he nodded.
"Guess that makes me one of the adults of the group, huh?" Brad asked with a laugh. "Reminds me of holidays, kids in one area, adults in the other."
"Yes, but these kids risk their lives and souls every night," Joyce commented bitterly.
It was after midnight when Tara nudged a sleepy Willow and suggested they head to bed. The witch looked over and found Xander half dozing on the sofa.
"You need a quilt?" Tara asked the young man as she helped Willow stand up.
"Nah, I know where they are. I'm going to watch the Dracula marathon," he said softly.
Tara hesitated in front of Willow's door and the redhead smiled playfully.
"You've been in before," she whispered and took Tara's hand and pulled the taller woman into her bedroom. Once inside, Willow shut the door firmly and led Tara over to the bed without turning on the light.
Tara smiled in the faint light of the growing moon and lit a candle on Willow's nightstand and turned to help the other witch out of her shoes. With her left hand and arm in a cast, the red-haired witch had switched her usual jeans and t-shirts for sweatpants and larger t-shirts. If she wanted to wear anything more than plain Birkenstock sandals, however, Willow discovered she needed someone to help her put on socks and tie her shoes.
Feeling like she was four years old again was a hassle but neither Tara nor Buffy complained at tying her shoes or doing anything else to take care of her.
As Tara knelt in front of Willow to untie her tennis shoes, the red-haired witch reached out and began to gently stroke Tara's long hair. Tara laid her head on Willow's thigh with a smile, comfortable in the silence.
After a moment Willow raised Tara's head with a gentle finger under the witch's chin and let Tara see the love and desire Willow knew was showing plainly on her face and in her eyes. The blonde witch rose up and slowly met Willow's lips with her own.
Once again Willow marveled at how everything disappeared except for the feelings and emotions surrounding her and Tara at that moment. She felt Tara hesitate and Willow ran her hand through Tara's hair and pulled the other witch's head to her, holding Tara into the kiss as it became more passionate.
Willow moaned and Tara moved Willow back onto the bed while their tongues dueled. The red-haired witch tried to maintain her balance and composure with a heavy cast on her arm.
They ended up on the bed somehow, falling and giggling in the process, as their limbs intertwined. Tara was just grateful they had ended up on the same end of the bed and she hadn't gotten whacked by Willow's cast.
After the giggles had subsided, Tara leaned on an elbow and looked down at Willow and saw the other witch's eyes were slightly darker and her eyelids were heavy.
"Please," Willow said softly and drew Tara to her and let down her mental shields, drawing Tara's mind and spirit in as well.
Tara gasped and pulled back slightly in surprise. Willow tried to take advantage of the movement to remove her t-shirt but lying under Tara and working with only one hand made it more than difficult, especially when she got caught in it. Tara laughed lightly and helped the t-shirt become a memory and then lost her laugh in a sense of awe when she looked at Willow half naked under her.
"Goddess, you're so beautiful," she whispered.
"So are you, my love," Willow smiled, blushing lightly.
"I can feel what you're feeling," Tara said softly and lowered her lips to Willow's neck.
Willow's body shuddered and Tara moaned as the sensation rocked through her body as well. As Tara's hands found her breasts the witch gasped. They had shared long sessions of kissing and making out before, but this was different and both of them could sense it. The sharing of the emotions and sensations was adding an intensity that was causing Willow's breath to quicken and her heart to start racing.
The witch pulled irritably at Tara's shirt and the rest of their clothing was quickly done away with. The intensity swept them higher with each piece of clothing being removed as more and more skin began to touch naked skin.
Willow whimpered slightly as Tara cried out at Willow's touch on her nipples, her back arching.
"I love you, Tara," Willow whispered and moaned when Tara became the initiator with a passion that was surprising both of them.
"Goddess, you feel so wonderful," Tara whispered as she began to nibble from Willow's neck to her nipples while her hands ran along the smaller woman's back, shoulders, lips, and down to caress her wonderful ass cheeks.
Willow felt like everywhere that Tara was touching was electric, like moving too close to a static machine at a science fair and she was squirming while clinging to the other witch.
Willow thought Tara was going to tease and torment her nipples and breasts forever as the lightning danced between them until Tara's lips and tongue were moving across Willow's ribs, exploring almost every inch of the redhead. Willow gasped with twice the pleasure as she felt what Tara could feel in making love to her. It was almost overwhelming for both of them.
Tara thought she was in Nirvana when she worked her way between Willow's legs and inhaled the unique scent that was the young witch. The shy college student had never been with another person sexually but felt this was like coming home and was where she wanted to be.
Willow's hips jerked and she bit her lower lip as Tara's fingers began their own exploration of the inside of her thighs and sexual lips. Tara moaned as Willow's arousal level hit her through their connection and felt Willow's need as if it was coming from within.
Her lips and tongue joined her fingers in exploring her lover and both women cried out as Willow's hips left the bed in reaction to the intensity. Tara thought nothing would ever compare to making love to the beautiful woman with her right then, she knew it would be different with Buffy. As intense and just as emotional but also different. She had been drawn to Willow first and Willow was her first lover.
"Oh my God, Tara!" Willow begged.
Tara let her fingers sink into the warmth that was begging for her attention and Willow's hand clenched the blanket underneath her as her back arched. Tara pulled almost out of the body enveloping her and then pressed in again. Tara's body jerked from their connection and began a rhythm that Willow quickly matched.
Without the connection, Tara would have worried that she was hurting Willow but she could feel how the intensity was building as Willow's body begged for more of her touch. Tara couldn't believe that she was actually causing this much pleasure for her lover and could feel it. She thrust harder and Willow cried out and almost bucked out of Tara's arms.
Tara added another finger and cried out herself as the energy rebounded into her body. Feeling Willow's muscles contracting, she let her tongue begin a wonderful dance over Willow's clit and began drinking in the essence of Willow.
Willow, hovering on the edge of climax, screamed Tara's name as her body arched off the bed. Tara followed, holding Willow's hips with one arm and thrusting into her with the other hand until Willow's body stopped convulsing.
Tara moved up onto the bed and pulled Willow into her arms and gently rocked the witch until her heart rate began to slow back to a safer range.
"Do you need your meds?" she whispered.
"I love you too," Willow mumbled. "I think I'm okay without them."
"That was....w-wonderful," Tara said softly. "Thank you."
"Oh Goddess, thank you!" Willow countered. "That was incredible!"
Tara felt herself blushing and Willow gently kissed her.
The blonde witch squeaked with surprise when Willow rolled over onto of her, the witch's green eyes flashing with mischievous energy.
"That connection was interesting, I want to try it on this end," Willow grinned and lowered her lips to Tara's breast and opened her mental shields up to Tara before the blonde could protest.
Tara moaned and felt fire flowing through her entire body as Willow's skin touched her everywhere. In minutes Willow had Tara in the same heightened arousal Willow had been in earlier.
"Willow, yes!" Tara begged, not knowing exactly what she was craving but needing it immediately. Having had the connection with Willow was only making it more intense and desperate.
Willow started to enter her lover and hesitated, her green eyes catching Tara's blue ones. "Tara?"
"Yes, now!" Tara responded and whimpered slightly as Willow took her virginity then she heard noises and realized she was making them as her body began to shake and buck against Willow's fingers and body. "Oh Goddess! Willow, don't stop, please!"
Sometime later, Xander sat upright on the sofa, eyes blinking and heart racing. "I think that wasÖI think this time it was Tara screaming Willow's name," he said aloud to the empty room with a wolfish grin. "Earlier it was Willow yelling 'harder', for the Goddess and then just Tara's name," Xander smirked. He had plenty of ammunition to tease his best friend with and had already mentally filed it away.
He returned to watching Christopher Lee as Dracula bent over to bite another well endowed blonde victim on the television and wished Anya was there with him.
The police officers reported that three young men had approached Buffy Summersí room the night before and had been very insistent on seeing the young woman until threatened with arrest if they didnít leave. From their descriptions Giles confirmed that they sounded like part of Riley Finnís organization, the Initiative.
Brad Santiago and Giles found Anya kneeling beside Buffyís bed with her pistol in her hands and being steadied by the bed as she aimed at the door. Both men moved out of the way quickly and yelled at her to put the thing away.
Giles peeked around the doorway as Anya put the pistol away in her waistband and saw Buffy was doing her best not to giggle. Brad followed him into the room and shut the door.
"What was that about, you know there are police guarding the door," Giles demanded from the former demon.
"They are men and men can be fooled very easily," Anya countered and Buffy shrugged as Giles looked at her for support. "Those two men outside nearly let three large hulking types in last night when they claimed to be friends. I yelled that Buffy had no friends other than geeks and library types, certainly not football type jerks."
"Thanks!" Buffy snapped.
"What?" Anya asked innocently and Giles held up his hand to stop the argument.
"Get dressed, Buffy," he ordered.
"The doctor hasnít released me yet," she responded while glaring at Anya.
"Iím afraid thereís a problem," Giles hesitated and began cleaning his glasses.
"Oh God, itís serious," Buffy muttered and noticed that Brad Santiago wasnít smiling and his eyes were cold.
"How do you know that?" he demanded.
"Giles always starts cleaning his glasses when he doesnít want to talk about something and itís usually serious," Buffy explained.
"They found Ozís body in the woods this morning," Giles said softly.
"His what?" Buffy demanded in a low, disbelieving voice.
"His body, he was cut to shreds," Brad informed her. "He had a silver dagger sticking out of his chest and your prints were on it."
"No, thatís not right," Buffy protested. "I fought with him and he hurt me. I stabbed him but he was up and running. I only stabbed him once and I dropped the knife when I went into the creek, it wasnít in his chest."
"The knife was embedded into his heart, all the way to the hilt, much like he did to Willow Rosenberg, your best friend," Brad declared and glanced at the two police listening in as they stood guard at the door. "There was no evidence of whatever device you say he used on you and there was only your knife in his chest."
"Whoa!" Buffy shouted. "Wait a goddamn minute! Oz was a stalker, he hurt and tried to rape Willow, he threw Giles into a wall, Tara through a window and gave me one hell of a headache and now Iím the bad guy?"
"We only have your word and those of your friends that anything happened to all of you," Brad countered. "We believe that Ms. Rosenberg was attacked and you were angry about that. Angry enough to kill?"
"Yes, no, I donít know! He attacked me!" Buffy shouted and Anya growled. "I certainly didnít make these wounds myself!" she said, pointing to her bandaged chest.
"Actually the doctors admit that there is that possibility with the same knife," Brad countered.
"What?" Buffy whispered and turned to Giles for support and found him looking down at his shoes. "Giles?"
"They want to take you in until they clear this up, Buffy," he said softly.
"Officer!" Brad called and both officers stuck their heads in the open doorway. "You," Brad said, pointing to one of them. "I want you to clear the corridor in 10 minutes when I bring Ms. Summers out."
"Yes, sir," the young, military looking male responded.
"Please get dressed, Ms. Summers," Brad ordered. "You can change in the bathroom, leave the door open."
Buffy couldnít believe what was happening, especially when Giles reached into the wall locker and handed her the clothes she had been wearing the day before.
"I canít wear these," she protested, holding up the ripped and bloody sweatshirt.
"Iíll get the hospital to give you some scrubs," Brad said in a flat voice. "He turned to the two police officers. "Find a nurse and get a set of surgical scrubs. Ms. Summers is going to be heading straight to jail and will be there for several days. Given the nature of the crime, no judge is going to grant bail."
The detective turned back to the Slayer. "Youíll just have to miss playing Halloween pranks with your friends."
"Halloween, youíre going to lock me up over Halloween?"
"Maybe even longer if I can make the murder charge stick," Brad promised.
"Wait a minute! I thought he was on our side!"
"Buffy!" Giles snapped, glancing at the police officers. "I advise you not to say anything. I'll be right behind you and I've phoned for an attorney."
Buffy slammed her jaw shut but her blue eyes were blazing with anger as the police officer returned with a set of surgical scrubs and Brad waited with crossed arms. Buffy grabbed the clothing and moved to the bathroom to change.
Giles opened the door slightly as his Slayer tried to pull the surgical shirt over her head. He took the top from her and helped it over her head and arms.
"Don't fight this and don't escape, trust me," he whispered. "It's not what it looks like. Continue to act pissed off though, you have an audience."
Buffy nodded and followed him out the bathroom door and was quickly turned around and handcuffed.
"Hey, goddamnit, this isn't funny!" she shouted.
"Neither was Oz' body when we found him," Brad Santiago growled.
Buffy was still fuming when she and Brad Santiago walked into the Summers' home to the relief of Tara and Joyce.
"Hey, I said I was sorry," Brad continued protesting as they walked in the door.
"Okay, just easy with the cuffs next time!" Buffy snapped.
"Cuffs?" Tara questioned as she gently drew Buffy into a hug. The tension melted from the Slayer as she felt her body melding next to Tara's and the witch's warmth settling in over her. The Slayer nuzzled the neck of the taller girl and hugged her as tightly as her injured rib muscles would allow.
"We dragged Buffy out of the hospital in handcuffs," Brad explained.
"You what?" Joyce demanded as she hugged both girls quickly and turned to the detective.
"Anya said that three football type guys tried to get into Buffy's room last night and my police officers almost let them," Brad explained and sat down on the sofa. "I already suspected I might have a couple of Initiative types on the police force so Giles and I already had this planned. I arrested Buffy on the charge of murdering Oz in the woods yesterday and injuring herself to cover the killing. I dragged her out of the hospital protesting. The Initiative 'containment' squad will be checking the jail for Buffy, not here."
"That means we have to get her out of here," Joyce reasoned.
"Yes, Giles suggested moving her, Willow and Tara to the crypt now," Brad confirmed.
"Is Oz dead?" Joyce asked with a frown.
"No, heís still alive," Brad explained.
"Where's Willow?" Buffy asked.
"Upstairs on her laptop," Tara said.
"Let's go pack an overnight bag," Buffy suggested, reaching up to quickly kiss Tara and then dart upstairs.
Brad and Joyce watched the two young women disappear, pounding up the stairs and Joyce caught the detective shaking his head.
"What?" she questioned.
"She was nearly dead yesterday and now she's barely hurting," he commented.
"Giles says that's normal for a Slayer, its one way she was able to keep being the Slayer a secret from me for so long," Joyce explained. "I hardly ever knew she was hurt and if I did she'd shrug it off as a gym accident or something."
"Where's Giles?" Joyce asked after a moment.
"Watching the police officer I suspected, he should be here any minute."
A few minutes later the three college students came down the stairs, Tara and Buffy had bags.
"Where's your bags, Willow?" Joyce asked.
"I'm staying here tonight, I need some time to get ready for the ritual part tomorrow night," Willow smiled, holding Tara's hand.
Joyce's eyes narrowed in suspicion but merely nodded.
"Okay, Brad is going to drive you," she said as she hugged Buffy tightly. "We'll be there before dark that night. Got things to keep you occupied?"
"Yeah, a couple of board games and stuff," Buffy smiled but her mom could see the underlying tension and hugged her daughter again.
"You're not alone, Buffy," she whispered. "We'll be right there with you."
"Thanks, Mom," the Slayer whispered back and moved aside to let Joyce hug Tara as well. "Don't let her drive you crazy with that energy of hers."
"I won't, Mrs. Summers," Tara answered.
"Joyce, or Mom, please."
"Joyce Mom?" Tara smiled and Joyce hugged her again affectionately.
Willow hovered over her laptop and frowned. There was another email from Grayfox and this one was marked urgent.
The red-haired witch debated about opening it but clicked on the email.
Willow closed the email without responding and called up the file Grayfox had sent her days before. It had taken her forever to figure out the translation from the mixture of Old English, Latin and several witch glyphs. Parts of it were intentionally obscure and backward, making translation from a foreign language very difficult. Fortunately, she had been able to retrieve the same program that Jenny Calendar had used to translate the spell to bring Angelís soul back to the vampire. The program was a random search pattern of various old dead and obscure languages as well as known glyph type writing systems. It had worked just as well on this spell as it had for the one she used on Angel.
The ingredients hadnít been a problem; the spell was more mental, emotional and physical.
Willow continued to frown and set the laptop aside. She began to gather the ingredients she would need for the spell. It wasnít easy with one hand but she wanted everything right and ran down the list twice.
She looked up as someone knocked on the door and opened it slightly. Giles stuck his head in and Willow smiled.
"Come on in, Giles," she offered and sat down on the bed, leaving room for him.
"We didnít talk much over dinner," he began.
"Nope, youíre being a typical father figure image and British, which is making you a reserved type guy. Makes asking about relationships and possibly sex difficult for you?"
"God, I do like your babbling at times," he muttered.
"But tonight is not one of them, right," she smiled.
"Right and youíre trying to distract me," he smiled back. "Willow, you didnít go to the crypt tonight with Buffy and Tara because youíre giving them space and opportunity to be together, arenít you?"
"Yes," the witch admitted.
"You were with Tara last night?"
Willowís eyes widened and her face flushed but she nodded.
"Willow, did you plan to be intimate with both of them just for your spell?"
"No, Giles, honest," Willow stammered. "I want them, both of them and they both love each other too."
"Willow, what is this spell youíre planning?" Giles asked gently.
"Hopefully, itíll send the wolf spirit inside Buffy to sleep," Willow explained.
"Is that all?" Giles asked.
"No," she admitted. "Thereís a risk of it backfiring and sending me into a coma for a week."
"Willow!" he suddenly shouted, jumping to his feet.
"Giles, calm down!" Willow smiled. "Itís not fatal! Iíd only sleep for a few days. If it means me catching up on my sleep or leaving Buffy as a werewolf, Iíll take the risk of falling asleep."
Giles continued to frown.
"Willow, I donít want you to take any risks," Giles muttered. "I also understand that Iím not going to stop you from this, am I?"
The college student stood up and hugged the closest thing she had to an actual father figure. "I love her, Giles, I have to try something. She took the bite for me."
"I know, I just feel so helpless," he complained.
"Me too," she whispered. "Especially with that damned Initiative looking for Buffy."
"I agree, that young officer went immediately to the frat house where Riley lives after Brad took Buffy away. Moments later Riley and the officer came out and drove off. I assume they were headed to the police station," Giles recounted thoughtfully. "You know theyíll be here tomorrow looking for Buffy."
"I know, Joyce Mom and I are going out with Xander and Anya at first light for breakfast and a day trip while you sneak food into Tara and Buffy," Willow smiled and sat back down on her bed.
"Just be careful," he asked.
"You bet, just take care of Buffy and Tara until we get there," Willow countered.