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Here we are at the beginning of Fall, and a Monday more suitable to Summer entertains us.
The weather will change soon enough, I suppose.

We're already midway through Enemy, Mine's story. Hoping you're enjoying the tale as it
unfolds.

As always, my thanks go to my beta trio - Twinkles, Micrindle23 and Stalwartsandall. Any
post-beta boo-boos are all due to my fiddling.

All comments are welcome here, as always.


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Rupert Giles opened his door to the sight of his slayer standing next to a vampire he’d hoped to never see again.

Taking a moment to gather not only his words, but also his wits, Giles surveyed the pair before him. Buffy was nearly swallowed up in Spike’s duster; the rolled-up sleeves and dragging hemline looked ridiculous on her small frame.

Spike was, for lack of a better word, supporting Buffy, with a hand at the small of her back.

“What on earth is going on here?” he asked, noting the scratches on Buffy’s face and her disheveled hair (a look she’d usually be loath to sport in public).

“You gonna make us stand in the doorway whilst we unburden ourselves, Rupes?” the vampire asked cheekily.

“Come in, Spike,” he said, making a point of merely standing aside and holding the door open for his slayer.

“I’m still me, Giles,” she said, rolling her eyes as she crossed the threshold. “Well, mostly.”

“And just what is ‘mostly’ supposed to mean?”

“The chit needs you to find out if she’s been bespelled,” Spike said testily. “We think that little Red’s been a naughty witch, throwin’ out spells without regard to their consequences.”

“Now listen here...” Giles began angrily. Spike casting aspersions on one of his children put Giles immediately on the defensive. “What makes you think –”

“We both think it’s Willow,” Buffy said, looking from Watcher to vampire. “I wish there was another suspect, but she already suggested casting a spell on me earlier this evening, and I poo-poo’d her offer.”

Still reluctant to believe Willow was culpable, Giles changed tack and said, “Let’s wait a minute, shall we, before apportioning blame willy-nilly. Why do you think you’ve been enspelled?”

“Because I’ve lost my fighting ability,” Buffy blurted out, staring down at the floor. “And I didn’t come here, first,” she added quietly, “because I thought you might have poisoned me again.”

Giles was aghast. “Buffy, I would never! Well, at least, never again,” he insisted. “I would never put you in any danger intentionally. Nor would I destroy the trust we’ve been rebuilding.”

Buffy sighed in relief and finally looked Giles in the eyes. “I went to Spike, because I thought he would understand what losing my power would do to me.”

“Funny thing is, Slayer’s not really lost her powers,” Spike supplied. “just the ability to use them at will. I tried a sneak attack from behind –”

Giles felt his outrage flair. “You dared to attack Buffy?”

“I can’t hurt her, you git, you know that. I had a hunch, is all,” Spike explained. “I came at her from behind, put a hand on her shoulder, and she sent me tumbling arse-over-teakettle across the crypt.”

“I really did, Giles,” Buffy admitted happily. “I made Spike fly. It was a relief to know I was still full of slayery goodness.”

“Fine,” Giles conceded. “It sounds as if you were right, Spike, as much as it pains me to say. I think we need to have a word or three with our resident witch.

*****

The doorbell rang, and Buffy opened the door, allowing her flustered friend entry.

“I’m so glad you’re here, Buffy,” Willow said, hugging Buffy tightly. She pouted when Buffy shied from her touch, retreating to her previous position on the couch. “I was so worried when you didn’t arrive back at the dorm. Was patrol really busy?”

“Sit down, Willow.” Giles voice was cold as ice. The wounded look on the little redhead’s face nearly broke his resolve, but he soldiered on.

“Is there a particular reason you were worried for Buffy’s safety?” he asked, watching her closely. “Late night patrol is certainly not unusual.”

“N-no, no special reason,” Willow insisted somewhat shakily. “Just the usual fear-for-a-friend-who-fights-monsters fears.”

“I nearly died tonight,” Buffy said softly, refusing to meet Willow’s eyes. “And it wasn’t at the hands of a Big Bad – it was just a bunch of stupid fledglings.”

Spike’s soft, sub-vocal growl permeated the air and Willow’s body tensed.

“What do you mean?” she asked, eyes wide with worry.

“What she means, Red, is that somehow the Slayer found herself unable to defend herself against a bunch of nuisance newbies.”

“Nobody asked you, Spike!” Willow snapped, but went silent as nobody else in the room jumped up in support.

“So now I need permission to speak, Your Majesty?” Spike snarked back, little hints of amber coloring his blue irises. “An’ if I don’t mind my p’s and q’s, what are you gonna do about it? Bring a little sunshine indoors to shut me up but good?”

“What is this?” Willow cried, looking around wildly. She sat down heavily on a chair and rested her head in hands.

Buffy got up from the sofa and walked stiffly over to Willow. Her friend raised her head to meet her gaze.

“We spoke about it, Wills,” she began, calm patience in her tone. “You mentioned a forgetting spell after the bizarreness of being engaged to Spike. Do you remember me telling you to go ahead and do it?”

Willow’s shoulders stiffened. She had obviously been caught out, but she wasn’t going to go down easy.

“You didn’t say so… specifically,” Willow admitted. “But I knew you were feeling disgusted and the memories of it were haunting you.”

“So you decided to take the initiative, and do the spell anyway?” Giles asked, frowning with disappointment. “How could you do such a thing, Willow? Without consent, it boils down to… to… well, as distasteful as it sounds – it’s assault, plain and simple.”

“Assault?” the little redhead squeaked, horrified. “I would never… could never…!”

“And yet you did,” Buffy insisted, sticking up for herself. “Except you didn’t get the results you wanted. I remember every single moment of being engaged to Spike,” she said, looking at said vampire and gathering courage. “You took something else from me, instead.”

“But I did everything right!” Willow insisted. “I followed the spell to the letter, I swear! The only thing you should have lost –”

“She lost her knowledge of the fight, you stupid, arrogant child,” Giles bellowed. “Thanks to your meddling, she couldn’t fulfill her sacred duty and she couldn’t defend herself against attack.”

Willow’s lip wibbled, tears forming in her eyes. “I only wanted to help,” she insisted.

“And the bint’s still not gettin’ it,” Spike growled. If looks could kill, Buffy was fairly certain Willow would be dead where she sat. “Where do you get off decidin’ what Buffy remembers? What gives you the bloody right?”

“I’m sorry,” Willow wailed, hiding her face in her hands. “I’m not a bad person. I’m not! I only wanted to help my best friend feel better,” she insisted once more.

“Then you should’ve performed the ritual for which teenaged girls the world over are famous,” Giles informed her. “Ice cream and girl-talk… not magic spells to alter perception.”

“I promise that’s what I’ll do in the future.” Willow looked up, contrite. “No more mind spells from this girl, ever.”

“If only I could believe you, Willow,” Buffy sighed. “But this isn’t the first time. It comes right on the heels of your ‘will be done’ spell, which made Giles blind.” She met Willow’s eyes and added, “And almost got Xander killed.”

“You need to remember something else, Willow,” Giles continued. “Just because you can do a thing, it doesn’t mean you should.

“Okay, okay.” Willow’s exasperation shone through. “I get it: don’t do anymore spells without permission.” Added in a half-whisper, “No matter how much I think they would help.”

Giles shook his head, his own frustration clearly reaching its limit. “You must remember you are not the center of the universe, Willow. You might very well be an integral part, but your wishes are no more important than… than… Spike’s, for example.”

“Oi!”

“Be quiet for once, damn it,” Giles hissed. Turning once again to Willow, he continued, “If we were all to simply follow our desires, then Spike would currently be ridding himself free of the chip that curtails his bloodlust and would be free to murder at will once more.”

“Bloodlust isn’t curtailed, Rupert,” Spike muttered. “I know a little witch who’s very lucky I’m still muzzled.”

“That’s enough, Spike,” Buffy chastised. “You don’t have to threaten Willow. I’m sure she’s seen the light and won’t put her needs above ours or anyone else’s from now on.”

Spike clearly wasn’t mollified, but at least he kept quiet for the moment.

Willow broke the ensuing uncomfortable silence, asking quietly, “Can I go?”

Giles simply nodded and escorted Willow to the door. He waited for her to exit and then turned to Spike.

“Time for you to go about your business too, I believe. I’ve got a nice scotch waiting for me, and I’d like to indulge – alone.”

“Like I want to linger,” Spike said belligerently as he swaggered towards the door. “Let me know when you’ve got the Slayer all sorted, mind-wise.”

“Of course,” Giles murmured sarcastically. “you’re the first person I’ll call.”

“That’s enough, you two,” Buffy soothed. “Giles, thanks for your help with Willow tonight. We can start the researchy thing tomorrow.” She turned towards the vampire she’d come to trust… mostly. “Thanks again for your help, Spike.” Then she added softly, “I’ll see you tomorrow and keep you in the loop about everything.”

“Ta, love,” was Spike’s simple reply as he headed out the door.

“Goodnight, Giles. I’m overdue for a nice, hot bath and a soft, cool mattress.” Buffy wrapped Spike’s coat around herself a little tighter. “Time for this one to go home.”

“Are you sure you would want me to drive you home?” Giles asked. “It’s no bother.”

“No thanks,” she murmured. “I’ll be fine. Now that I know what’s wrong with me, I’ll be uber careful.”

“Goodnight then, Buffy.” Giles saw her out the door, and headed for his liquor cabinet.





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