Forever Rules : Book One

Part Five


Ren let the front door close behind her and took off her jacket, throwing it towards the couch. She ran both her hands through her hair and yawned. Her eye caught sight of a selection of books, some of which lay open, on the table. Curious, she wandered over and looked at the pages.

"Pasturak?" she murmured quietly to herself. "Around here?"

"Around Buffy and Xander actually."

Ren looked up at the sound of Giles' voice. He stood at the top of the stairs looking down at her. He was wearing black trousers and a grey sweatshirt - both of which looked rumpled, which also went for his overall appearance.

"Trouble?" Ren asked, frowning.

Giles shook his head as he carried on down the stairs. "They ran into some the night before last. Spoilt their night out apparently." He gestured to the books. "Just made some notes for our records."

"Oh." Ren held his gaze for a moment as Giles stopped at the foot of the stairs. "You look like hell."

"Well you hardly look bright-eyed and bushy-tailed yourself," Giles replied, not sounding harsh, but managing to carry affection in his words.

"I think it's the fact that Willow and Tara stuffed me full of chocolate and we stayed up 'til the early hours watching movies." Ren gave him a small smile. "Plus I'm still feeling a little nauseous. Residual morning sickness probably."

"That or the chocolate." Giles mirrored Ren's smile.

They stood together in silence for a few moments, neither of them moving, before Ren spoke. "Did you hear back from Cordelia?" she asked. "Willow said you'd called her earlier to say she'd had a vision."

"Oh, um, yes," Giles replied. "Yes, she called last night. Everything was fine. Nobody killed or anything. Nothing to worry about." Giles studied her face for a moment before speaking again. "She spoke to me briefly about you." Giles saw Ren's eye's flicker with recognition. "Said you'd spoken to her… that you were upset."

"I still am," Ren said softly, holding his gaze momentarily before tearing herself away and heading into the kitchen.

Giles watched her in silence then dropped his gaze to the floor and exhaled slowly before looking up again and following after her.

"Ren," he called softly, stepping into the kitchen where Ren had just put the kettle on to boil. "Ren, I'm sorry." Giles leant sideways against the refrigerator and waited a few seconds before she looked at him. "I'm sorry," he repeated again. "I have no excuses for the way I've been acting."

"You mean the way like you were those weeks before Buffy and Xander's wedding?" Ren's gaze was fixed on him. "Like something had crawled up your arse and died? What I thought you'd actually managed to yank out for a while during the wedding, but, oh, lo and behold it found its way back?"

Giles blinked. "Yes?"

"You mean what made you turn away from me because you were more interested in what you couldn't bring yourself to tell me about and all I wanted was for you to hold me?"

Giles lowered his gaze, wishing that the ground would open up and swallow him for a little while. "I'm sorry."

"About how I let you fool me…" Ren trailed off, blinking back tears, "Fool me that… that-"

"I love you." Giles looked back up at her.

"Exactly," Ren replied, holding his look as a tear rolled down her cheek.

Giles took a moment to process those words and when he did, the first thing he did was grab Ren's arm and pulled her to him, claiming her lips with his own. He felt Ren gasp in surprise, and she didn't kiss him back immediately, but she didn't pull away from him either. Giles put his other arm around her waist and pulled her closer, the hand on Ren's arm moved to cup the back of her head. Ren wrapped her arms back around him as she began to respond to the kiss, slowly at first then more eagerly.

Giles clung onto Ren as they continued to kiss, his fingers tangling in her hair as they kiss became ever more ardent. He was right. He had been an idiot. And what he was doing right now and how it made him feel, how having Ren in his arms and her arms around him was all he wanted for the rest of his life.


Ren's voice cut into his thoughts as she broke away from the kiss, her piercing gaze directed at him whilst their lips were barely an inch apart. "Rupert," Ren sounded a little breathless as she spoke again, before he'd even had time to respond. "I don't want you thinking," she continued, "That this means that I've completely forgiven you."

Giles closed his eyes and rested his forehead against Ren's. "What can I do?" he asked softly.

"You can look at me for a start," she replied. Ren settled her hands on Giles' waist when he opened his eyes again. "And then you can tell me what the bloody hell's been going on with you."

Giles took a breath and exhaled slowly as he took his hand from Ren's head and brushed some of her hair back behind her ear. "I panicked," he said simply.

Ren looked back at him for a moment then said, "The baby." Her statement was confirmed when Giles gave a slight nod of his head. "What?" Ren said after a moment. "You couldn't have panicked out loud?"

A ghost of a smile passed over Giles' face. "Obviously not," he replied.

"But you're not anymore?"

"Panicking? No." Giles cupped her face with both hands. "I love you," he told her. "I never stopped loving you."

Ren's hands moved from Giles' waist to his chest, clutching gently at his sweatshirt. Ren knew that there was still much to talk about, but right now there was a question she wanted to ask: "And you're not going anywhere?"

Giles shook his head vehemently. "No." He kissed her softly, his hands still cupping her face. "But I have to know one thing," he said once he drew back. "One thing I asked you when we got together this time round-"

"I promise forever." Ren clutched tighter at Giles' chest as she pre-empted him. She looked into his eyes. "I promise."

Giles couldn't stop the smile spreading over his face and he kissed her again, sinking into the embrace when Ren raised her arms and looped them around his neck. And he knew, just as well as Ren did, that this conversation wasn't quite over. He knew that he couldn't get away with just saying that he panicked, but seeing as Ren was refusing to remove her lips from his so he could get the words out, he had to be content with the fact that Ren *wasn't* removing her lips from his. Giles smiled inwardly and wrapped his arms around her, pulling her even closer.


"Buffyyyyy." Xander tried not to sound like he was whining. Which he was, he just didn't want it to sound like it. "There's nothing he-re."

Buffy put her hands on her hips and turned around to face her husband. She did well to stifle the giggle that threatened to bubble out on seeing the sight of Xander standing a good twenty feet away amidst the shrubbery of what passed as the back garden of the villa, while he took a few aimless swings at thin air with the sword he held.

"Maybe my fuzzy pink slippers that you're wearing scared them away," Buffy said. "Which, by the way, why *are* you wearing?"

Xander glanced down at his feet and then back over at Buffy. "'Cos you told me to hurry my ass up and I couldn't find my shoes." He paused. "You don't like them?"

"On me, yes," Buffy replied. "On my big manly man husband, no. And, honey, if you're going to use the sword to kill whatever flying bugs there are out here, could you at least use the moves I taught you?"

Xander stopped and stared at her. "Say what?"

"You were dropping your guard."

"I, what the… was *not*," Xander shot back defensively. "It was totally up."

"Nope. 'Fraid not." Buffy began to head over to him, wishing herself that she'd found something to put on her feet as the ground was beginning to bake the soles of her feet. "Sweetie, you're not going to learn if I don't tell you these things."

"OK, 'Oh Great Bathrobe Wearing One', why don't you tell me what I'm doing wrong?"

Buffy raised an eyebrow. "Well, you can stop pouting for a start."

Xander pulled a face back at her before losing the petulant look and letting Buffy take hold of his wrist of his sword holding hand. She stood infront of him and raised his arm to where she wanted it.

"OK, hold it there," she said, letting go of his arm. "Just relax your shoulder just a little… OK, now move it down slowly at that angle." Buffy just nudged his arm gently in the right direction. "Now, see, this is good."

"*This* is what I *was* *doing*," Xander griped as Buffy moved around him, apparently studying his movement.

"You weren't," Buffy replied. "Trust me."

"Was too."

Buffy levelled her gaze at Xander. "Fine." She stepped back. "Go on and show me again then."

"Fine." Xander mimicked Buffy's voice. "I will then." Xander began to move again, raising his arm and then bringing the blade down in a swift arc. He was about to take the sword in both hands and repeat the move the other way when suddenly Buffy moved and blocked him, forcing his free arm to the side.

Xander tried to counter, turning in the opposite direction to Buffy, but Buffy moved with him and blocked him once more and this time grabbed hold of his weapon bearing arm and twisted it back just enough so he couldn't move it. Xander tried bringing his other arm back around again but Buffy moved quickly, bringing her knee up to his hand, jarring the sword out of Xander's clutches. She caught it before it had barely began to fall and ducked one more counter attempt from Xander before letting go of his arm and spinning on her heel, taking the sword in both hands as she did so and then brought the sword around in an arc with lightening speed, only stopping when the blade was millimetres from Xander's neck.

Buffy held his look, noting at least that his eyes showed no flicker of fear even as she held the blade still.

Buffy raised an eyebrow and cocked her head to one side slightly. "See?"

Xander stayed silent, his expression was unreadable as he brought his hand up to Buffy's and gently pushed her arms and the sword back down. He stepped closer to her and Xander's gaze flickered briefly over her face before he looked back into her eyes.

Buffy waited for him to speak, and then shot him a questioning look when he didn't. "What? Are you gonna sulk now?"

Xander's brow crinkled a little. "No."

"Good," Buffy replied. "'Cos I don't want you getting too arrogant."

There was a flicker of acknowledgement in Xander's eyes, but he wasn't letting it go just yet. "Are we forgetting who can chargrill demons at fifty paces?"

"And are we forgetting who had to carry who back to the car because they were so drained they couldn't stand?" Buffy shot back. She saw Xander's frown deepen and he looked at the floor. Buffy let go of the sword and pressed it into his hand. "But I'm not forgetting who has the man she trusts most in the world by her side when she goes into battle."

Xander looked up and saw Buffy smiling warmly at him. Xander's expression lightened a little and he leant forward enough so that his forehead was resting against Buffy's. "Where else would I be?" He paused. "You meant me, right?"

Buffy answered by swatting him on the thigh. "Idiot," she said with a smile and Xander let out a small chuckle. "But *my* idiot." She kissed Xander softly on the lips before the pulled apart. "C'mon," she said. "Let's head back in."

"We finished out here?" Xander asked as he glanced around.

Buffy took one more look around herself. "Yeah," she replied. "If anything was here, well, it's not now." Buffy slipped an arm around Xander's waist and leaned in against him when his free arm fell across his back, his hand settling on her waist. "But I think we should keep an eye out," she added as they began to walk back to the villa.

"So, what d'ya want to do now?" Xander asked, idly hitting the tops of the shrubs with the blade of the sword. "'Cos I'll tell you now, sparring was not top of my list for fun things to do on our honeymoon." He paused. "Unless it was a prelude to sex of course."

Buffy looked up at him and grinned. "Well, of course." Then she pouted a little. "Xan?"


"Can you carry me? My feet are really hurting now."

Xander stopped and looked at her. Buffy was still pouting at him. He sighed and rolled his eyes. "C'mon then."

Buffy beamed. "Thank you hon- oh, *hey*, what the *Xander*!" Buffy squealed when instead of finding herself being swept up into Xander's arms, she was unceremoniously draped over his right shoulder, her face almost level with his ass.

"Don't worry Buff," Xander assured her, glad she couldn't see the grin on his face as he carried her back. "I promise this time I won't be dropping anything."


Willow hummed as the afternoon sun beat down on her as she skipped up the steps that led towards Giles and Ren's building and then across the courtyard. Once at their door, Willow knocked once and called out, "Hey Ren?", before she walked straight in. "Ren you left-"

Willow broke off and replaced her words with a high pitched squeaking sound at the sight of two people laying asleep and entwined together on the couch. Two people who looked very naked, but thankfully anything that needed to be covered was - just - by a throw that had previously been over the back of the couch.

Unfortunately, the high pitched squeak caused one of the couple to wake and Willow found herself suddenly frozen to the spot as she met Giles' gaze. Giles' eyes widened a little in shock and he made a subtle attempt to rearrange an area of the throw where it was beginning to slip and he turned Ren (who still appeared to be asleep) so it was just her back that was visible.

To help, Willow clamped a hand over her eyes. "Sorry," she apologised earnestly. "Um, phone." Willow rummaged in her pocket and pulled out Ren's cell phone and held it up. "She left it."

"Then please leave it and go," Giles instructed calmly.

"Going," Willow replied quickly, spreading her fingers just enough so she could barely see out and set the phone down on the nearest flat surface. Willow turned and took a few quick steps towards the door before she turned back to Giles, her hand still over her face. "Y'know, I didn't know you had a tattoo there too."


"Gone," Willow squeaked and spun on her heel and dashed to the door again, almost tripping over an item of clothing on the floor before she finally made it out of the door, slamming it shut behind her. Willow managed a few steps before she had to sit down on a low wall as she burst into a fit of giggles.


Ren was already beginning to stir before the door slammed. "What's going on?" she mumbled sleepily.

"We had a visitor," Giles replied. He draped an arm over Ren and pulled her closer and smiled as she snuggled against him. "Willow brought your phone back."

"Oh. S'nice." Ren opened her eyes a little and found Giles staring right back at her. Ren gave him curious look. "What?"

Giles smiled back at her. "Just looking." He began stroking a few fingers through her hair and sighed. "And thinking."

Ren relaxed into his touch. "About what?" she asked.

"Well, we're going to have to get a bigger place for one thing," he replied, placing his hand as much as he could on Ren's abdomen. "For this little one. And definitely a place with security system that even Willow can't get through."

Ren chuckled as she placed her hand over his and then laid her head against his shoulder. They laid in a comfortable silence for a few moments before Ren realised that Giles was studying her again. She looked up at him. "What?" she asked with a small smile. "Bigger car now?"

"No," Giles replied, smiling back, although his eyes seemed to show concern. "You know, you do still look a little pale. Do you still feel tired?" he asked. "I mean not just from the, um-" he cleared his throat. "I mean-"

"Just sleepy," Ren murmured. "Like I said, residual morning sickness." Then she smiled. "And maybe a little from the, um-" Ren cleared her own throat, not out of shyness, but good-natured mocking of her lover.

Giles shot her a pained look, then smiled. He brushed his fingers over Ren's hair, watching her as she closed her eyes and snuggled closer to him. After a few long moments he closed his own eyes, sighing with contentment as he draped an arm over Ren's back and fell into a light doze with her.



Lena raised an eyebrow in disbelief. "You *ran* *away*?" She pinched the bridge of her nose and closed her eyes briefly. "I do not believe it."

Raif squared his shoulders in defence. "I did *not* run *away*," he stated indignantly. "It was a tactical retreat." Raif glared at Adon when the other demon snorted with laughter. "I nearly made my presence known," Raif carried on. "The Slayer heard me when I knocked something down and they came out to investigate. I teleported as far as I could within my range and then waited."

Lena gave a slight shake of her head then sighed. "Very well then," she said, bringing her laptop nearer to her, preparing to start typing. "What else?"

"I waited for a few hours then went back and watched," Raif replied. He sat down in the nearest chair to him in the office. "Another thing," he continued, frowning a little. "Are we sure they're human?"

"Well they were when we ran the checks on them before sending you out there," Adon said. "Why'd'ya ask?"

"Because I don't think it's possible for creatures of that shape and anatomy to get into the positions that they did," Raif replied. "And copulate. At least I think that's what they were doing," he added thoughtfully. "And in a hot tub."

Lena looked up from her computer and stared at him. "You *watched* them have *sex*?"

Adon smirked and Raif hid his smile as he replied. "Well, you did say observe them at all times."

Lena gave him an exasperated look. "You two are not taking this seriously are you?"

"Oh come on Lena," Adon kicked his feet up onto the desk. "You know as well as I do that this whole thing is ridiculous."

"And you're only putting up with it," Raif carried on, "Because you're up for promotion."

Both Adon and Raif smiled self-satisfied smiles when they saw Lena visibly bristle. She flipped her hair over her shoulder and gave them both an icy look. "Fine," Lena said snippily. "It's idiotic." Then she gave them an insincere smile. "But don't you think that the sooner you get back to them, the sooner this will all be over with?"

Raif glared back at her and muttered something under his breath before getting up. He straightened his suit jacket and pulled the J'polt 2X out of his pocket. Then an evil smile crossed his lips and he thrust out the device and quickly programmed in the numbers, opening up a portal in the middle of the office.

Adon managed to grab on to his desk before the swirling winds blew him from his seat. He shot a poisonous look at Raif before he realised that the blow back from the portal opening had sent an unsuspecting Lena straight off her chair and into an undignified position on the floor, at which the two male demons exchanged grins before Raif walked through the portal.

Lena was just getting over the shock of landing on her backside and she pushed her hair out of her face just as the portal closed. She looked up to see Adon offering her hand. Glowering at him, she kicked him in the shin, sending him hopping out of the way as she got up off the floor herself. Straightening her jacket and smoothing down her hair, Lena stalked over to the intercom, ready to push the button to call one of the two blue demons.

But Rojhar came through the door before she even had the chance. "What was that noise?" he asked, entering the office.

Lena walked back from the door and sat back behind her desk. "Raif came back to check in with information," she explained, getting back to her laptop. "And now he's gone back again."

"He opened up a portal in the office," Adon elaborated, rubbing his shin as he sat back down. "He just went back."

"What news did he bring?" Rojhar asked. "The Slayer?"

"Nothing to write home about so far," Lena replied. "We're still studying her. Although," she added, "You might like to know that she married the young man you were also after that first time."

"I care not." Rojhar shrugged with disinterest. "What of the guardian demon that was with them?"

"That's proving kinda difficult," Adon informed him. "Seems, according to our company's detection people that is, that there is no demon matching her description anymore."

"We have a mortal matching her description though," Lena continued, gesturing to the computers. "We're doing some background research." As the blue demon acknowledged her with a silent nod, Lena looked at him curiously. "Where is Haxor?" she asked. "We have not seen him for a while."

"He is visiting his sister," Rojhar replied smoothly, knowing his words were half true. Haxor was visiting his sister. She just happened to be one of the clan who were organising the mass exodus of the dimension. "Jenna is ill," Rojhar continued, lying wholly this time. "Haxor went to the caves to be with her. He will be back soon."

"So long as he doesn't break the curfew rules," Lena remarked, shooting a pointed look at Rojhar. "Part of the deal that you two get to stay here and look after the place, remember"?

Rojhar narrowed his eyes a little. "We remember," he said, letting no emotion show in his voice. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I'll be attending to some other business." With that, Rojhar stepped back out of the office, letting the door slam shut behind him.

Adon glanced over at Lena as she began to get back to work. "Somebody's not a big blue happy bunny."

"Neither would you be if you had your home and livelihood taken away," Lena met his gaze. "Now, are you going to help me with this or not?"

"Fine," Adon grumbled, getting up and dragging his chair over next to Lena's. "And what other business does he have anyway?"

"I'm sure it's nothing important," Lena replied. "Now get to work. You have an Aurora demon to find remember?"


(Later that day)

"Hey Buff?" Xander called out as he wandered back into the bedroom after his shower, only to find Buffy standing infront of two open and empty suitcases on the bed. "Um, Buff? Watcha doin'?"

"Packing," Buffy stated simply before heading over to the chest or drawers and lugging out one drawer completely and then emptying it in one go into one of the suitcases.

"OK, not that I don't admire your style of packing," Xander remarked, "In fact I find it one of your more endearing features, it's just… why the hell are you doing it *now*?"

Buffy turned to look at him just as she had another drawer half way out. "Um, because we're leaving tonight?" she answered, sounding a little patronising as she stated the obvious to her husband. "Can you find some clothes to put on before I pack your stuff?" she continued, then paused briefly as she looked him up and down. "Actually, don’t bother. You're fine as you are. It'll save time later." Buffy went back to pulling out the drawer.

Xander just stared at her as she emptied the contents of the drawer before putting it back. "Honey, I'm naked. And so are you. Don't you think you're-" Xander stopped and thought for a moment. "Wait. What the hell am I getting worked up about? We're both naked, c'mere."

Buffy shrieked and then giggled as Xander closed the distance between them and pulled her into his embrace, claiming her lips in a passionate kiss. "Xan-der!" she exclaimed after a few moments. "You're still all damp." Buffy tried to wrestle, albeit half-heartedly, out of his grasp. "C'mon, we have to pack."

"Yeah, but why now?" Xander whined, reluctantly letting Buffy go and stepping back. "Like you said, we're not going 'til tonight."

"And if we pack now," Buffy was sounding slightly patronising again, "We'll have all the entire rest of the day to do other things." She shot a pointed look at Xander. "*Lot's* of other things."


"Lot's and lot's and lot's." Buffy grinned, emptying the final drawer into the suitcase. She put it back and then bundled up several items from the dresser into her arms and put them into the case. "Now just find something you want to wear to go home in."

"Why can't we have it now?" Xander pouted as he watched Buffy pluck a thong back out of the case and put it to one side. "We can have some now, then pack, then some later."

Buffy turned to face him and her shoulders sagged a little when she saw the plaintive, puppy dog expression he was wearing. She knew it was entirely put on, but even after all this time she still couldn't ignore it.

And, after all, she had done *some* packing.

Buffy smiled seductively and sauntered over to him and saw Xander's pout turn into a grin. "Now what am I gonna have do to satisfy my man, huh?" she said, running a hand down his chest. "Hmm… let's see…" and with that she sank to her knees.


"So they're going to be bringing the Slayer back here?" Esta said, stroking his chin thoughtfully as he turned to the two other Elders, Vellen and Vable, that sat to his left around the granite table. "Now this begs an interesting question." Esta put both his hands palm down on the table and looked back to Haxor who stood waiting patiently with Jenna and D'nal either side of him. "Do you know how far along they are in their plans?" Esta asked.

"I'm not sure, sir," Haxor replied. "Rojhar has told me that they have sent one of the demons that came the other day to watch the Slayer, but I have not been at the castle to know if he has returned yet."

"But they *do* plan to bring the Slayer back?" Vable looked for clarification. Haxor nodded dutifully. Vable looked to Esta. "Maybe some could stay?" he suggested.

"No!" Vellen protested, banging his fist down on the table. "We're not staying. Everyone goes."

"But the Slayer-" Vable tried to interject.

"Will pay at the hands of those who have taken over," Vellen stated, his hand still clenched into a fist. "If that Pagaelian wants to take this up as a idiotic hobby, then let him." He glanced around at the others. "Isn't that what it turned into for us?"

Esta paused for a moment, looking thoughtful. "Maybe Vellen is right," Esta said finally. "We let our success as mercenaries cloud over what our ancestors worked for." He sighed. "We have to think of ourselves now. We go somewhere new and maybe we can build up our respect again."

"Exactly." Vellen let a small smile settle on his lips. He looked at the three standing silently before himself and the other two elders. "Haxor, you go back to the castle and let us know whatever you find out. Jenna and D'nal, you take care of the troops here. Prepare for a total move."

"We'll need to bring in Yester and Malax," Jenna stated as Haxor left. "Also, can I just ask… where exactly will we be going?"

"The codes work the same with the J'polt we replicated as with the old Denzion we used," Haxor added. "We have many places to choose from."

"Then I'll make a suggestion," Vable said, looking at the others. "I propose that, seeing as how *we've* decided that we leave the Slayer to her fate here, we try and seek revenge on the others that helped her."

"I think they plan on bringing the male with her," Haxor informed them. "I'm not sure about the guardian demon."

"The Cavgor said there was a witch," Vable added.

"You want to go to the Slayer's dimension," Esta stated. It wasn't even a question. "To the Hellmouth." He looked at Vellen who nodded in agreement. "Fine. I'm sure the other elders will agree. Go," Esta instructed Jenna and D'nal. "I want to see if we can get a scout group together."


Xander still hadn't managed to shift the stupid grin from his face. It had been half an hour since Buffy had obliged him and then he'd obliged her. Twice. Now she'd sent him out to the jeep with a couple of bags and instructions to start tidying up when he got back.

Once outside the front door, Xander shouldered one of the bags so he could put on his sunglasses - making sunglasses and deck shoes the only things he was wearing. He let himself enjoy the feel of the sun against his skin for a moment as he looked up toward the sun, squinting at it's brightness even behind his shades. Xander took a deep breath and exhaled slowly before starting down the steps towards the jeep, blinking away the sunspots that danced a little infront of his eyes.

He'd just finished dumping one of the bags on the floor in the back of the jeep when he heard a noise from behind him; the sound of the baked ground being scuffed by shoes. Xander turned around, expecting to be confronted by Buffy, but instead found himself almost face to face with someone who wasn't even human, let alone female.

"What the fuck?!" Xander exclaimed loudly, automatically shifting into a defensive stance.

The demon blinked momentarily in shock before it seemed to gather it's senses and muttered something that sounded suspiciously like "Merde." before it vanished into thin air.

Xander stared at the spot where the demon had been for a second before he blinked himself back to the present. He threw the remaining bags into the back of the jeep haphazardly and hurried back inside the villa.

"Buffy!" Xander called out. "Buffy!" When Xander didn't get an answer straight away, he went jogged through into the bedroom. "Buffy?!"

"What?" Buffy emerged from the ensuite bathroom clutching a towel around herself and her hair was slightly damp and clinging to her face. She gave him a puzzled look as Xander began searching for his clothes. "Xan?"

"I just had a run in with a demon outside."

Buffy's eyes widened. "*What*?!" She wrapped the towel more firmly around herself. "Are you sure? Are you OK? Where is it now?"

"Yes, yes and I don't know." Xander answered each one of her questions in turn as he pulled on some underwear and grabbed a pair of jeans that he'd rescued from Buffy's packing spree. "I was putting the bags into the jeep and I heard a noise. Turned around and there it was and then just as quick, there it wasn't."

"It disappeared?" Buffy tried to clarify as Xander continued to get dressed; buttoning his jeans and pulling a white t-shirt over is head. "How? Did it run? Did you see where it went?"

"It was like it vanished into thin air," Xander replied. "Just *pfft*. Gone."

Buffy's brow crinkled. "That doesn't sound like one of those from the other night," she said. "What'd it look like?"

"Uh, taller than me, but not by much," Xander replied. "Human looking, but had little horns here," Xander pointed to just above his temples, "and it had tattoos on it's face. Little ones over it's cheeks." Xander stopped and looked at her. "And I don't know if it's definitely gone yet either," he told her. "So, if you got *dressed*, we could go look."

A little shiver went down Buffy's spine as it always did whenever there was any sign of dominant Xander. Buffy's jaw still set a little though. "I thought it went pfft."

"Yeah, but it could have pffted back by now," Xander replied, throwing Buffy her jeans that she'd left out at before he began to put on his trainers. "Look, I'll go and check outside," he continued as he headed towards the door. "You get your ass in those jeans and come out and give me a hand."

Buffy stared after Xander as he left. "OK," she said quietly to herself as she quickly began to look for underwear. "I know I definitely preferred the other kind of tongue lashing I got earlier."


Raif was watching for a safe distance when he saw the human male exit the villa again - this time fully clothed. Raif kicked himself for not being careful enough, although, in his defence he thought, he had still been slightly overwhelmed by their zeal to pleasure each other.

Raif shook his head and sighed then stepped back quickly behind his hiding place when the male looked over in his direction. Raif berated himself again. What was he going to tell Lena? Was it really going to make that much difference if the Slayer knew something was going on? After all, it wasn't as if they knew *exactly* what was happening. Raif could make a case to Lena that at least this way they would now know what to expect from a Slayer on her guard as no doubt she would be when they wanted to take her and her husband.

He waited until the Slayer's husband became more interested in checking out the other side of the villa before teleporting himself to the opposite side. Through a window, Raif saw the Slayer hastily buttoning up her jeans then pull a blue tank top over head and chest before rushing outside.

With a grunt of effort, Raif jumped up and caught hold of the edge of the railings that formed part of the balcony under which he now hung. With another grunt he hauled himself up and over the railings and then stood on of the chairs to help him get up onto the roof.

Once on the tiles, he crouched down as the Slayer walked into view around the back of the villa. He wasn't going to run away this time. Not that he had the first time mind you. That was a tactical retreat. Or something like that. Raif squinted against the sunlight as he watched the man join the Slayer and Raif saw him shaking his head and said something while he gestured for the Slayer to check around the side of the house where Raif had just been. The Slayer nodded and left while the other human started back into the house.

As the Slayer got nearer to him, Raif moved more into the centre of the roof out of her sight and crouched down again. It was interesting to see how each of them took charge, Raif noted. He had assumed the male would automatically defer to the Slayer, but Raif had seen different. //It'll be interesting to find out// he pondered, //Just exactly why this 'Xander' acquired special attention from the Powers that Be in the first place.//


Buffy looked carefully around as she made her way down by the side of the villa. She couldn't hear anything, just the sound of the windchimes by the backdoors as they tinkled in the breeze. Buffy sighed heavily, enough so that she managed to blow a lock of hair from off her face. She stopped underneath the balcony and put her hands on her hips as she looked around.

It wasn't like earlier that day when there was just something that have her the wiggins; Xander had *seen* something and Xander didn’t just slip into what she had dubbed his 'militaristic mode' *and* ignore her practically naked for no good reason. And Buffy was completely ready for any hint of danger. She was honed, her senses tuned into all her surroundings; her muscles tensed as her body coiled, ready for her to spring into action.

There was just one thing that might be a problem.

She was incredibly horny to boot.

Buffy turned and watched Xander through the window. She could see he was on his guard as he began to search through the downstairs rooms of the villa. Deciding that she should probably check out the upper rooms, Buffy shook herself out from allowing herself a lingering look as Xander bent down to do something. Buffy jumped up and caught hold of the bars of the balcony above her. Effortlessly, she pulled herself up and swung herself up and onto the balcony.

Then she stilled. Something had just kicked off her Slayer senses big time. All thoughts of wanting to pin her husband to the floor and screw his brains out disappeared. For the time being. Buffy turned and looked up at the roof, listening for the sound she thought she'd heard before.

And there it was again.

Somebody was on the roof.

And whoever it was wasn't moving around too much, but it was enough so Buffy could tell which side of the roof from her they were. Silently she stepped to the left side of the French doors that lead out onto the balcony and stood almost face to face with the white stucco wall before reaching up and jumping with catlike grace to grab the guttering. Buffy pulled herself up just enough so that she could peer over the edge and up the slight slant of the tiled roof.

She couldn't see anything at first so she pulled herself up a little further, pulling back almost immediately when she spotted the demon. It was crouching and it's back was to her.

And it was wearing a suit.

//OK. This is new// Buffy thought to herself. //And seeing as how it's made the effort, it would be rude if I didn't introduce myself.//



It was about a second too late when Raif heard the sound of movement behind him. He landed back on the roof, albeit five feet away from where he'd been, after having the Slayer pick him up by the scruff of his jacket and throw him.

"Who are you and what do you want?" was what Raif heard the Slayer say as he shook himself from his daze.

"Um…" Raif tried to blink away the dancing spots of white light from his eyes.

Apparently his answer wasn't good enough and he found himself face to face with an angry Slayer as she closed the distance between them quicker than he would have liked and then hauled him up by the front of his shirt with one of her hands. The other arm was pulled back, the hand curled into a fist and poised to strike if the occasion arose.

"Well?" The Slayer raised an eyebrow expectantly.

Raif groaned inwardly. This was not a good situation to be in. Normally, he would have teleported straight out, but he couldn't do that while he was attached, as it were, to another being.

"Sightseeing?" Raif smiled weakly.

That remark earned him a broken nose.

The Slayer pulled back her fist and scowled at him. "Try again."


Xander took one more cautious glance around the main area of the ground floor of the villa. His brow crinkled a little as he was feeling a little antsy about the lack of demon activity. Had he just stumbled across a demon that was just simply passing by… their villa in the middle of nowhere where the Slayer just happens to be.

//OK, scrub that// Xander thought. //But then, if it was interested in Buffy, where it is now? And why didn't it attack straight off? Hello? Naked human, pretty vulnerable I think//.

Deciding that he'd let Buffy finish checking the outside of the villa, Xander scratched at his jaw, making a mental note somewhere in his brain that he needed a shave, and he walked over to the telephone that sat on the table behind the couch. Buffy had said she hadn't called the airline before she'd come out, and Xander really wasn't in the mood now to see if the demon was going to come back. If it didn't, well, they weren't going to be here.

Xander found the airline's number on a scrap of paper they'd left by the phone. He punched in the number and has gotten as far as about five rings before he jumped out of his skin when something large landed heavily on the ground outside by the veranda.

Dropping the phone back down in the cradle, Xander rushed out to the veranda to investigate. What he found was a dazed, suit-wearing demon with tattoos on his face rolling around on the dusty ground groaning.

"Look what I found honey," Buffy said as she somersaulted down from the roof after the demon and landed more gracefully than the demon had.

"Nice. Now what do we do with it."

"You say au revoir," Raif managed to groan out before he teleported.

Buffy groaned loudly in frustration and kicked at the dusty ground where the demon had lain, still hoping that her quarry hadn't just disappeared on her and had only turned invisible.

"I hate it when they do that," she grumbled, realising that the demon had indeed vanished.

Xander saw Buffy begin to look around. "You wanna check if he's still here?" he said. "I mean, it's kind of a rule of thumb that demons don't happen upon us for no reason. Couple that with the weirdness that had me outside in boxers and furry slippers earlier…" he trailed off. "I'm thinking maybe that demon wasn't just here for the panoramic views."

"I'll do another scout around," Buffy replied. "I don't think he's coming back anytime soon, but better to be safe than sorry." She headed out into the sparse garden. "You call it in to Giles then see how quickly you can get us out of here." Buffy turned back briefly and saw Xander give her a nod before he headed back inside.

Buffy looked back up to the roof again, but saw nothing. She jogged back over to where she'd jumped on to the balcony a short while earlier, but this time she followed the path around to the front of the house, only to find it demon free.

Running a hand through her hair she turned around slowly on the spot, glancing up to the roof when she faced the front of the house again.

"Come out come out wherever you are," Buffy called out softly in a singsong voice. She sighed when there was no sign of activity whatsoever. "That almost never works anyway."

Buffy took a quick tour of the uninvestigated side of the villa, but once more found it deserted. She continued around to the veranda at the back of the house and entered through the open doors just as Xander was putting down the phone.

"Anything?" he asked. When Buffy shook her head he continued. "Giles says he'll start checking it out as soon as he can untangle himself from Ren without waking her," Xander told her. "I think there he gave me more information there than I wanted to know."

"We're not the only ones with a love life," Buffy reminded him. Then she pouted a little. "But it's not fair we have to cut our honeymoon short."

Xander closed the short distance between them and placed two fingers underneath her chin, tilting her face up to his. "I've got three words for you, honey." Xander grinned. "Mile. High. Club."

"And I can't think of anyone else I'd rather get airplane sink imprints in my ass for." Buffy grinned. "C'mon, you call the airline and I'll finish packing and then let's go home, huh?"


"Well… this is… interesting." Esta sat back in his seat, or what passed as a seat as it was actually a hollow hewn out of the rock. He rubbed at his forehead, deep in thought. "This definitely puts a new outlook on things."

Jenna looked towards Vellen who sat in his own 'seat', his fingertips templed underneath his chin. "Hax said they just came straight out and asked himself and Rojhar," she said. "I really think that this is an opportunity that we shouldn't miss."

Esta's eyes flickered back towards her. "It doesn't matter what you think," he pointed out. "The Elders make the decisions here."

Jenna had the sense to look contrite. "Sorry, sir. I just meant-"

"I know what you meant," Esta interrupted her. "I understand your desire."

"It's a desire that we all have." Vellen murmured quietly.

Esta turned to him and raised an eyebrow. "I thought you wanted to leave her to the fate of Pagaelian?"

"They want our help to deal with the Slayer," Vellen replied. "They specifically *asked* us for our-" he smiled, exposing all his sharp teeth, "-expertise."

Jenna allowed a smile to settle on her lips at Vellen's apparent change around. "D'nal has plenty of… expertise… in these matters," she remarked. Jenna caught Vellen's eye. "His brother was on the last attempt at the Slayer. I'm sure he wouldn't mind a chance to exact revenge."

Esta sighed heavily. "Then what do we do about our scouting mission? If we were to loan D'nal and some of the others to Pagaelian, it would seriously dent our chances of success when we get to the Hellmouth."

"I'm sure Jenna is quite capable of leading the scouting mission." Vellen turned to the female warrior. "Unless she would like to assist the Pagaelian crowd?"

Jenna paused and looked between the two Elders; Esta was looking at her expectantly. The smile stayed on her lips and she squared her shoulders. "I can take the scouting mission." Jenna hesitated after Esta nodded in acknowledged. "I'd also like to take Haxor for my second in command."

Esta nodded again. "If he wishes." Esta stood. "Vellen and I will talk with the other Elders and decide who will assist Pagaelian. Consideration will be given to those who lost someone to the Slayer and her colleagues."

Jenna bowed slightly to both Elders. "I'll tell Haxor the news."

Esta turned to Vellen as Jenna left. "What about those left behind at the castle? How will they follow us out of this dimension?"

"We'll leave another copy of the J'polt," Vellen replied. "They can join us once they've finished with the Slayer."



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