Book and Dagger

Title: Book and Dagger
Author: Scorch
Rating: PG-13
Content: C/A
Summary: And Buffy thought she had bad timing. (S3)
Disclaimer: I own nixies
Distribution: AO, FSB, the places of Cal and Lea.
Notes: A rare CLEAN fic!
Feedback: always appreciated.


“You okay?” Xander asked as he killed the car engine.

Buffy hardly heard. Her head had been in the same position and her eyes had never left the entrance to the Hyperion. She knew she had to go in, but that knowledge didn’t make things easier. If anything, it made them worse.

In the last few years, she’d only ever been to L.A. when it involved a sense of duty and not pleasure, and here she was again, which she had a nasty demon to thank for her discomfort. Her fingers gripped the dagger tightly, subconsciously minding not to get herself cut to ribbons on the ridiculously sharp blade.

“Hellooo.” A hand flew in front of her face and startled Buffy into snapping her head round to look at her friend. “You going in there or are you giving Will’s telepathy a try out?”

“Going,” said she. “I’m going.” No move was made to exit the car. “This is me. Going. In there.”

“I can see that.”

Right. Cowardly she was not, and it was this thought that propelled her hand to open the door and her legs to climb out. She’d faced worse than this in her short little life. Hell, she’d died for God’s sake. If she could handle that then she could handle this.

Buffy wrapped her arms around her stomach and took a moment to savour the salty air, memories of her old L.A. home passing absently through her head. She did love the place. Loved how the buildings showed the new to the old, how the air was always warm even while windy, loved how six blocks away was a gorgeous beach.

She missed L.A.

Xander’s voice cut through the silence. “You’re stalling.”

“Am not.” Liar, liar, stakes on fire. She scowled at Spike’s imaginary, irritating tone sounded in her brain.

“Buffy, the Vampire Staller… Bad image, I know, but gimme credit. I’m trying to be sensitive here.”

She had to smile. Xander Harris was one of the few people who could cheer her up without doing anything bar be himself. “If I’m not out in ten…”

“Gotcha.” He scowled at the fact saying things like that was their version of normality. Hell, they even had emergency codes for use over the phone. If vampires were surrounding the house, say three. If Spike’s chip failed, say two. If Buffy came home with more kittens rescued from poker games, say one. If the Hellmouth opened up, scream run for your life.

It worked quite well, if he did say so himself.

Buffy took a deep breath that did little to calm the rising panic and strode with purpose towards the double doors. A quick push had enough room for her head to poke round. “Hello?”

No-one was home. Good. No. Not good. The dagger needed to be enchanted so she could kill the demon.

“Good afternoon, Buffy.”

A cultured accent startled her and she glanced to her right, seeing Wesley Wyndham-Pryce standing there with a warm smile on his face.

“Are you coming in?”

Huh? “Oh. Yes. Coming in.” She fully entered the hotel, her eyes wide with intrigue as she took in the size of the lobby. Sure, the place was old, but it was kinda cool. Like something out of a Hitchcock movie.

“It’s nice,” Buffy complimented, feeling the trepidation disappear as she allowed the Englishman to make her welcome.

His grin was unexpected and it showed two rows of pearly whites. “Thank you. There’s still a bit to do, but it’s home. I’ll get Angel for y…”

She was quick to stop him. “No,” cringing at his rising eyebrow. “No. That’s fine. The faster I get back, the faster the demon gets dead, the faster Giles can study this dagger, and the faster my ears take a break.”

Wesley chuckled, amusement lighting his blue eyes. “I understand. If you’d care to follow me…” He gave a little bow and swept his hand in the direction of the office.

A distinctly masculine voice rose up, drowning out what the Brit was saying. “I was listening!”

Both Buffy and Wesley froze at the sound of Angel’s loud statement. She peered round the ex-watcher’s shoulder in time to see a door pushed open, letting Cordelia Chase out into the lobby with said vampire hot on her heels.

“Then tell me what my last seven words were.”

Buffy’s attention was momentarily caught by an expression of pathetic resignation on Wesley’s face, but rapidly went back to the two currently walking a path in the floor.

Angel fell silent and tried to be appear as contrite as possible.

“See? You never listen.”

“That’s because you never say anything worth listening to!”

Cordelia ceased her marching, only to face Angel with a glaring look of sheer hatred. “You’re confusing me with you.”

“So what were your last seven words?” He demanded.

She paused. “The moon is made of blue cheese.”

Smugness crossed Angel’s face. “Yeah, really worth listening to. It’d make Einstein speechless.”

“I only said that to see if you were listening. Which you obviously weren’t. You never listen to me, Angel. Never.” Cordelia sounded so heart broken, so teary, that it touched Buffy, who sent a glare towards the vampire that went unnoticed.

Angel sighed in what appeared to be surrender, which it wasn’t. “Here we go with the waterworks,” he muttered loud enough for all to hear.

“Waterworks?” Cordelia screeched, her tears forgotten. “Waterworks?”

“I’ve heard chihuahuas cry less,” Angel laughed, so very pleased with his insult.

“Chihuahua? Are you saying I’m what? Dog ugly?” His laughter faded the instant he realised his mistake. The immediate apology was cut tragically short. “I don’t wanna hear it.” There were some things that just couldn’t be taken back and that was most definitely one of them.

Cordelia turned away from him and Buffy figured it was supposed to be a punishment of sorts, and it seemed to be pretty effective as Angel wasted no time in following the brunette’s footsteps into the office.

Wesley sported as fake a smile as Buffy ever saw. “Perhaps you can wait a few moments?”

“That’s fine…”

“I’m sorry!”

The slayer’s blue eyes once more peered past her host only to see Angel trail after Cordelia as she left the office, steering her feet in the direction of a door past the counter.

“I said I was sorry!” All the sorries in the world obviously couldn’t make up for what he said. “Cor… Cordy… Cordelia!”

The door swung back into Angel’s face, but that didn’t stop him chasing after her.

Wesley squeezed the bridge of his nose. “If you’d like to come this way, I’ll get that dagger sorted.”

Buffy nodded. “That’d be great, thanks. I heard about the Thesulac demon that lived here.”

He winced at the memory. “Paranoia at it’s best.”

She had to grin. “I don’t doubt it.”

It didn’t take two seconds for them to reach the office and she was amazed at the shelves overflowing with books, and she was helpless to stop herself browsing. There was everything from vampires and demons to Jane Austen and Tom Clancy, including what looked to be an impeccable copy of Dante’s Inferno.

Wesley puffed up with pride as he read the admiration on her face. Picking out the Divine Comedy, “I bought that for fifteen dollars at an antique shop.”

“Admittedly, I know less than nothing about that, but it sounds like a pretty good bargain.”

“I dare say it was. The dagger?”

Before the weapon could be handed over, the door closest to the office opened to reveal Angel stalking out with a face like thunder, making the slayer’s free hand aim for the stake in her right pocket.

“So I thought you were Angelus. Big whoop!” Cordelia yelled after him. “I’d take it as a compliment. He’s the one with the dress sense.”

“Only one exit,” Wesley muttered. If they came in, there’d be no escape.

“Oh yeah?” Angel spun on the seer.


“If you’re so keen to play happy families, I can let him out.”

Cordelia stared him down with every bit of guts she had in her. “Go ahead. At least he listens.”

“We’re back to this again.” He sighed. “Angelus doesn’t listen anymore than I do, cus hey. I am him.”

“Then you’re admitting you don’t listen?”

“What? No! I meant Angelus listens as much as I do.”

“Which is not a lot.”

“You’re deliberately twisting my words. I do listen,” he snapped. “I do! So does Angelus. His ears are my ears.”

“Yeah, about that…”

“Are you saying I’ve got big ears?”

“If the shoe fits…”

Cordelia turned to the office, thus facing Buffy and Wesley, much to the Englishman’s horror.

“Dear God, they’ve seen us,” the slayer heard and shot him a look. “Just smile and nod at regular intervals,” was the advice.

“Did he or did he not say he doesn’t listen?”

Buffy was prevented from answering as she watched Wesley’s hand disappear into his pocket, pull out and open a silver flask, then took a large drink. Another rapidly followed.

“And look who I’m asking. Of course she’d take your side.”

Buffy was quick to her defence. “I’m not…” Apparently that was all that was needed.

Cordelia gave a triumphant Ha. “See? Even she agrees with me on you and your demon’s selective deafness.”

“Hey!” Angel bit back. “You leave my demon out of this.”

“You brought him up, not me.”

“I did not.”

“Did you or did you not accuse me of thinking you were Angelus?”

“You did think I was Angelus. Why else would you turn up sporting a cross the size of Texas?”

“Well duh,” Cordelia blatantly stated. “What would you think if I stayed the night with the fantasy of millions?”

“I’d pray for his safety, then call the hospital so they can get the antivenin ready.”

“Urgh! You know what? I’m done with this and you and your big, dumb demon. I quit!”

Angel stood there, his mouth catching flies as he watched her stalk to her desk, pick up her purse and coat, and headed for the double doors. “Cordy wait,” he walked after her. “You can’t quit.”

“I think I just did.”

“You can’t quit because you’re fired!”

“You can’t fire me because I just quit.”


“I quit first, ask Wesley. Wesley?” Cordelia looked to where Buffy and Wesley stood in the relative safety of the office. “Didn’t I quit first?”

He opened his mouth, but nothing came out as more alcohol went in.

“I quit first! I quit first!” Angel mimicked. “What are you? Six?”

Her purse was swung over her shoulder and hit him in the face. “Walking away from you is what I am. Goodbye.”

“Oh no you don’t. We’re not done here.”

“There you go again with the not listening.”

Buffy grabbed her stake when Angel made a move to choke the life out of Cordelia, only relaxing when he switched tactics, and yanked on his hair. Of course, he switched when the seer glared suspiciously at him.

“Look, Cordelia…”

“Don’t you Look Cordelia me!” She gave one final glare, then marched towards and up the stairs, every intention of retrieving all her stuff.

Angel blinked and was fast to follow. “We can talk about this. I’ll listen. I promise.”

“I’ll believe that when I see it…”

The argumentative voices got fainter as they went upstairs, leaving the lobby peaceful and beautifully quiet. Well, peaceful and quiet bar the stamping feet and slamming door heard from above.

Wesley waited a few moments, then a few moments more before assuring himself it was over for now. He smiled grimly at Buffy who seemed to be staring at the stairs with shock on her face. Slowly, she looked at him.

“Are they always like this?” She asked.

“Only on weekends.” Usually it was much worse. “Right. The dagger.”

“If this is a bad time, Giles can search for the enchanting spell.”

“No, no,” Wesley forced himself to relax. “Who knows what damage the demon can do in the time it would take to look it up.”

Buffy shrugged and grinned, thankful to him. “Here you go. One Dresonian dagger, already blessed by a blind priest and soaked for two days in holy water. Definitely the cleanest thing I’ve touched in my days.”

He had no sooner took the weapon than a deep, rumbling noise echoed through the hotel, and both glanced out of the office in the direction of the elevator. Angel was the first to step out and he didn’t appear in the mood to talk to anyone.

“Angel, please,” Cordelia beseeched, her arms strangely free of purse and coat. “Angel!”

He walked past the office, round the counter, doubled back past the office, and into the basement, all with the seer’s heels clattering behind him. The door crashed shut, but didn’t block out the rising voices.

“Greetings one and all.”

Buffy’s brows rose when a tall, handsome black man strolled in carrying an axe and a big, giant grin on his face. “I got us some action!” He said, waving the axe as a gesture for the Englishman to hurry up.

Wesley stared at Gunn like he was the second coming. “Gunn, thank God.”

It was then Gunn heard the arguing voices and his lovely smile faded seconds before he turned and left as quickly as he arrived, the Brit running after him. “Gunn! Gunn! Charles Gunn get back here!” He bellowed out the doors. “Coward!”

Swallowing down the lump of defeat, Wesley trudged slowly back to the office with abject misery on his face. The voice from the basement paused as a loud, dangerous sounding crash hit something. Probably rare and fragile, but who really cared?

Buffy’s lips pursed into a perfect O. “Are they killing each other?” Sounded like it.

“One can only hope,” Wesley muttered and polished off whatever was in his flask. He opened the top desk drawer, hand full of a bottle of whiskey, which was then offered her.


She shook her head. “Just the dagger.” Was it wrong of her to want to go back to Sunnydale? She was about to say something, but was cut off by the sight of Cordelia storming down the stairs. Huh?

Hadn’t she just gone through the basement?

“Not even the sewers are safe,” Wesley mumbled around the bottle. The immediate sewer systems had been vacated by quite a few demons and it quickly became clear why.

“I’ll stake him,” the seer snarled. “I swear to God I’ll stake him. Mission or no, he comes within five feet of me, I will drive a stake right through his heart.” She paused and spoke so loudly, people in Canada could hear. “Except he doesn’t have one!”

Buffy ceased to breathe as a set of calculating hazel eyes came her way. A foot began to tap and it didn’t take a genius to see where this was going. “You slay vampires,” Cordelia stated matter-of-fact. “Slay him!”

The reply didn’t get a chance to be heard when she slapped her forehead. “You couldn’t even keep him in hell.”

“I’m so, so sorry, Cordy.” Angel half ran down the stairs. “I didn’t mean it… Did you just imply I should have stayed in hell?”

“Yeah, so?”

“So? How could you think that? I thought I was your friend.”

Friend? Buffy had other descriptions for what they were. She tried to bring some calm to the situation. “Look, I just want the dagger…”

“Friend?” Cordelia hissed. “You humiliated me in front her!”

“Really, I just came for a spell…” Buffy tried again, but to no avail.

“I didn’t,” Angel defended. “Not really.”

“Aren’t you always preaching how you’re Angelus and he’s you blah blah blah?”

“Yes, but that’s not what I meant! Stop twisting my words!”

“Then what did you mean?”

“I meant,” he began in the quietest voice of the day. “You’d suck if she coached you, thus the insult was hers and not yours.”

“But you were really, and lemme tell you, bad.” Cordelia recited from memory.

“And bad is worse than suck?”

“Oh my God! How much of a dumbass are you? You weren’t supposed to say I was bad!” The end of her sentence came with a petulant stamping of her foot. She looked at Buffy, “It comes to something when you rely on a demon for honesty.”

“I really don’t…” The slayer tried yet again, but the disturbance this time came from Xander, who’d waited a full eleven minutes before braving the Hyperion.

“And look who it is,” Angel’s hand grandly gestured to the newcomer. “The ex.”

“Excuse me?” Cordelia got in before Xander had a chance. “Your ex is welcome, but mine isn’t?”

“Hey, I didn’t ask Buffy to come.”

“Are you saying you don’t want her here?”

“Will you just stop putting words into my mouth? She’s here because she…” Angel drifted off and looked at the girl in question. “Why are you here?”

“This dag…”

“That’s right,” Cordelia seethed. “Go on. Ignore me. It’s not as if I’m important.”

“I’m not ignoring you. I was trying to find out what Buffy’s doing here. Aren’t you the one saying I need to improve my social skills? That’s what I’m doing. Improving.”

“Hate to tell you this, but you don’t have a long enough life.”

“Well thanks, Cordelia. Thanks very much.” Angel shook his head and walked back towards the basement. That punchbag was looking pretty sweet right about now.

The seer was silent for all of two seconds. “Angel, I didn’t mean it like that.” She followed the vampire down into the training room. “Angel? Are you listening to me? Angel!”

“Empty,” Wesley held up the whiskey bottle. It was a jolly good thing he stocked up yesterday.

“What’s going on?” Xander asked as he joined them in the office, completely confused.

Buffy shrugged. “I have no idea, but we’re better off not knowing. Listen Wes, we’re just gonna head back. Giles can look up the spell.”

“That’s really not necessary. I have it right here.” Wesley went to pick up the book, but in his slightly inebriated state, scattered half the pages to the floor. “Oops. How clumsy of me.”

“It’s fine. Honestly. It shouldn’t be too much trouble to seek it out.”

Xander put his foot in it as only Xander Harris could. “Why bother when he has the spell?” He didn’t see the glare Buffy shot him and nor did he see her mime the words we’re not staying.

“Tastes like poison, does it? Poison?” Cordelia slammed the basement door so hard, it rattled the wall. “Well,” she smoothed down her shirt, “If that’s how you feel about it.”

“You leave my blood alone.” Angel used every bit of unnatural speed he had to stop her from going into the kitchen, leaving the other three staring where he’d been less than a second ago.

She wasn’t to be outdone by an idiot of a vampire. She simply rounded the counter and went to the opposite door to the kitchen, and walked oh so calmly through it, while he burst through the other one.

Buffy nervously fiddled with her top. “She wouldn’t really poison his blood, would she?”

“Not before he snapped her neck,” Wesley replied after opening another bottle. “At least he isn’t trying to bite her this time.”

Xander paled. “Bite? As in bite bite? Drain blood kind of bite?”

“To be fair, she did bite him first.”

“And that makes all the difference,” Xander’s sarcasm went unacknowledged as one kitchen door open and Cordelia exited, her arms laden with blood packs.

“Don’t you dare,” Angel warned as he half ran after her. “I mean it.”

“Don’t dare what? Rid you of my poison?” She didn’t hesitate in throwing one blood pack into the bin, the liquid could be heard splattering at the bottom. Another pack followed, then another, and another until every last one of them sat in the bin, completely destroyed.

“Oops.” Cordelia faced the vampire with fake shame that lasted all of five seconds. “I guess I did dare after all. Oh well. You’ll just have to make your own from now on.”

Angel came to stand by her side and though his gaze remained fixed on the useless blood, his words were directed at her. “You threw out my dinner.” Then, and only then, did he look at her. “You threw out my dinner.” Repeating it didn’t really help in believing it.

Hazel eyes blinked once or twice before drifting down to stare at the bottom of the bin. She remained quiet.

“You threw out my dinner!” As though to prove his point, he flung a gesturing hand at the blood.

“I…” She wasn’t entirely sure what to say. “I’m sorry?” Cordelia tried with a tiny smile full of contrition.

Angel’s glare was cold enough to give hell an ice age and when he turned it on her, everyone in the office held their breath for fear they wouldn’t be able to stop him before throttled the life out of her. Silence reigned for a few ridiculously long seconds and Xander went to speak, but a finger prevented him.

Then it happened. Angel’s lips twitched at the corner. It was barely visible, but it was there nonetheless and it had an immediate effect on the seer. So very, very slowly, Cordelia’s own lips curled up until her smile threatened to split her face and his own followed.

She swung her shoulders back and forth, he stuffed his hands in his pockets and tapped his boot off the floor. “I didn’t really mean it tasted like poison.”

“And I didn’t mean you should have stayed in hell.” Her voice was everything whispery and light and choc full of pretty little sorries that worked like charms.

Angel averted his gaze for a moment and confessed. “Actually, I quite like the mustard.”

A lovely pink hue appeared on her cheeks, drawing his attention to the fluttering dark lashes hiding big doe irises. “Really?” Cordelia asked.

“Adds zest.”

“Mustard?” Xander whispered in confusion, not wanting to shatter the peace now drowning the tense atmosphere.

Wesley sighed and got on with sorting out the spell. “She mixes his blood.” He got two identical expressions of disgust.

“With what?” Buffy asked through her grimace. “Mustard?”

“Mustard Monday, Turmeric Tuesday, Wasabi Wednesday, Tandori Thursday, Five Spice Friday, Sichuan Pepper Saturday…” He paused. “I wonder if she knows Sichuan pepper makes the mouth numb.” A deep, thoughtful look crossed his face. “No matter.” Angel with a numb mouth meant less arguing.

Xander snorted and shook his head free of the disturbing images. “What she give him Sunday? Sock Sweat?”

Wesley smiled slightly, his forming headache quickly disappearing as the truce between vampire and seer continued. “Sloe Screw Sunday. Used to be nutmeg, but the hallucinations put a stop to that.”

“Of course,” Buffy mumbled, her wide eyes never once leaving the sight of Cordelia and Angel. The ex watcher’s words sank in and both brows rose as she graced him with a bemused look. “Hallucinations?”

He nodded with a sigh. “Apparently his breakfast mug wanted to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony.”

She couldn’t stop the grin if she tried. “Sounds fun.”

“I’m sorry I threw your dinner out, Angel,” Cordelia’s voice cut through the humour in the office. “If you’re hungry, you can have some of mine.”

The vampire took the offered wrist and stroked it softly, letting the steady pulse calm the anger. “Nah. I’ll just go out later to get some more.”

“Oh lord,” Wesley rubbed his head.

Hazel eyes blinked once or twice. “You’d rather have pig’s blood than mine?”

Angel was quick to defend himself. “No, no. Your blood is nicer than a pig’s. Too nice, in fact. I wouldn’t just have some, Cordelia, I’d have it all.”

Buffy and Xander’s attention went to the brunette, whose blushing and preening slowly disappeared, leaving her face full of suspicion. “How do you know my blood is too nice? Have you been snacking on me in my sleep?”

She didn’t wait for an answer. “I knew it! I knew I was feeling odd around you lately. Wesley? Wesley!”

“The watcher you are calling is not available. Please try later,” the Brit muttered under his breath. Speaking louder, “Yes, Cordy?”

Buffy slyly eased her arm around Xander’s elbow. “We’ll go. It’s fine. Giles should be able to…”

“Get me the uninvite spell.” She stalked into the office, shoved Xander out of her way without an eyelash bat, and snatched up the phone, her finger violently stabbing a familiar number. “I want to file a harassment case on my boss…”

“Buffy, Xander,” Wesley said loudly. “You don’t have to go. Really.”

“This looks like a bad time.” The slayer replied with a smile that was as forced as the Brit’s.

“There’s no such thing as bad time here.” Wesley said, trying to ignore the voices once again rising.

Angel grabbed the phone off Cordelia and snapped, “No, she doesn’t. I want to file charges for attempted murder.”

Buffy watched as Wesley took his life in his hands and yanked the phone off the vampire. “Sorry about this, Mz. Morgan. Have a nice a day.” The receiver was quietly put down. “Could you two please take this elsewhere? Some of us are trying to work. Including Lilah Morgan.”

Cordelia glared hellfire at the Brit. “And some of us are trying to stay bite free, thank you very much.”

“You don’t have to worry about being bitten,” Angel threw over his shoulder as he left the office, aiming his stomping feet towards the basement. “I wouldn’t infect my veins.”

“You know what?” She seethed and smoothed her ruffled feathers with a deep breath. “If you won’t bite me, then I’ll find a vampire who will.”

“Really,” Buffy smiled and dragged Xander backward to the doors. “It’s fine. It won’t take Giles long to look up the spell.”

“Infect your veins?” Cordelia yelled. “Are you saying I’m poison?”

Wesley followed Buffy and Xander. “Are you sure you want to stay for coffee or tea?” He held up the whiskey bottle. “Or something stronger?”

“N-no,” the slayer grinned a forced grin. “It’s alright. Just gimme the dagger… Thanks. Look, we gotta go…”

“You’ve scared her away. Buffy?” Cordelia hollered. “Buffy!”

“I did not scare her away!” Angel defended. “Why would she be scared of me? She’s stronger than me.”

“And for that we can all be grateful. Buffy! Where are you going? Buffy, Xander?”

“Are you sure you don’t want to stay?” Wesley asked, following Buffy and Xander. “I can make us all a lovely lunch.”

The slayer held up her hands. “It’s fine. We’re not hungry. Are we, Xander?”

The dark haired boy shook his head. “No. Not hungry.”

“Then perhaps you’d like a…”

Cordelia’s voice cut Wesley off. “And if you weren’t scaring her, then why is she leaving, huh? Oh!” Her hands made a flourishing gesture and sarcasm followed. “Because you’re not scary.”

Angel stopped following the seer and vamped out. “Maybe you need a lesson on how scary I can be.”

“We’ll see you later, Wes,” Buffy said with a false smile. She was almost at the doors. Three more feet and they’d be home free.

“You think fangs are scary? This is how scary I find fangs. Go ahead and bite me. Right there.” Cordelia pointed to her throat. “Go on. I’ll make it easy and won’t put up a fight.”

Wesley was hot on the slayer’s toes. “Are you sure I can’t tempt you to stay? I know David Nabbit…”

Buffy tugged on the arm of Xander, who recognised the name from his computer games. “David Nabbit?”

“I’m sure Wes will give him your regards.” Buffy dragged one step further to the doors.

“You really don’t have to leave,” Wesley half begged. “I’m sure Angel will be with you in a moment.”

“Angel is with any girl in a moment,” Cordelia sniped.

“Are you saying I’m quick?” Angel demanded as he followed his seer towards the basement. “I’ll have you know…”

Their voices faded, leaving Wesley alone. “They don’t mean to be so rude. I can order something to eat and do the spell.”

Buffy tried to let him down gently. “Don’t worry about it.”

“Truly,” the Brit said with a large smile. “It won’t be a problem. Lunch can be here in ten minutes, twenty at the most.”

Xander yelped when a deceptively weak hand squished his arm. “Buffy!”

She gave an apologetic smile. “Sorry.”

“Do you have to go?” Wesley asked as he followed them. “You’re very welcome here. You really don’t have to go.”

“We don’t,” Buffy agreed with that same false smile. “But we are anyway. That demon has my name all over it. Nice seeing you again. Have fun.” She didn’t stop dragging Xander until they were safely in the car and the doors were firmly shut.

“Thank God for that,” she said with a sigh. “I thought for sure we’d catch what they had.”



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