The television series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and all related characters and materials belong to Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and Fox Television. Witchblade and all characters related are properties of Top Cow Comics and TNT Productions.

To my readers and reviewers: Fear not, people. I've been writing a lot and planning out the next stages of my story. However, things have been really busy as of late. Be patient. Hopefully, I'll be done by the end of the year (maybe). There are a few more short stories nearly done, as well as the first chapter of my third story. Like I said, I've been busy.

I hope you enjoy my story.

10:16 pm, Saturday - Slayer Base HQ

The lobby was bustling with a loud subtlety, a loud calm, if there were such a beast. Buffy Summers, Sara Pezzini, Rupert Giles, and Willow Rosenberg all sat around going about their own mindless tasks. Willow was using her notebook computer while Giles was lazily reading an old book. Buffy was sharpening stakes while Sara thumbed through a monthly entertainment guide she'd picked up earlier in the day. Sure they were on high-alert in case Amy's pursuit of power took a nasty turn for them, but they had been pretty much doing all they could do to bring her gears to a grinding halt. Other than that, all that was left was the vigilant waiting. The down-time gave Sara an opportunity to test out her new or, more accurately, hidden powers uncovered with the aid of Willow herself. Though Sara was regretful that Willow had been brought into what was an extremely dangerous encounter with the Witchblade, she was nonetheless grateful for her help.

But everyone had been noticeably on edge after that, particularly Buffy and Giles. Though no one wanted to discuss it, everyone with a pair of eyes could see that Buffy had plenty of reservations concerning Sara, more so after Willow's spell. Giles didn't fear for himself regarding the Witchblade's powers as much he did for Sara. New abilities brought about new challenges and, as Amy seemed the impatient type lately, new challenges wouldn't allow them much time to adapt. It had them all stressed and both Sara and Giles knew their relationship would be tested by those challenges.

That was the reason why Sara had picked up the entertainment guide. She had pressed Giles to get out and do something that didn't relate to work, lest they suffer a breakdown and snap like Buffy had done over three months before. Seeing that they both needed a release and some time to themselves and their relationship, he acquiesced. Trouble was, though, Sara had no idea what she was looking for. Sure, she and Giles liked a little Shakespeare, but she was looking for something a little different; more importantly, something that they would both like.

"Giles," she said, "I'm going through this and I can't find one thing that both of us would care to see."

"Well," Giles replied softly, "keep looking. I'm sure you'll find something."

"Hmpf, fat chance." She continued turning the pages. "Hmm... a movie, no. A play, no. Ooh... how about a musical?"

"NO!" Giles, Buffy, and Willow exclaimed in unison, startling Sara.

"Wow... okay, so no musicals," she said in surprise. "Do I even want to know why?"

"We... just had a bad experience with one," Willow vaguely explained.

"What?" Sara chuckled. "You spontaneously break into song or something?"

Willow, Buffy and Giles looked at each other hesitantly as Sara's face turned from humor to shock. It told her that they weren't joking... not in the least. Her jaw dropped at the realization. Shaking her head she quickly shied away from the subject.

"You know what... I'm gonna go back to my magazine," said Sara hastily as she held up her hand. "Yep, just gonna go back to my magazine and forget I ever brought this up."

"Well, I'm going out on patrol," Buffy said. "I'll see you guys in a bit."

"Actually, mind if I come with?" Sara asked, rising from the couch. "I'd like to make sure I can get this thing going in a real fight. Don't worry: I'll bring stakes just in case." That wasn't the only reason Sara wanted to accompany the Slayer on a patrol; she wanted to have a discussion with Buffy about the events of the last few weeks, in particular her relationship with Giles and her newfound powers. Truth be told, though, she didn't want to discuss anything. But it was either handle the problem while things were relatively in a lull, or try and solve it at a point that would be dangerous for them to do so, and Sara much preferred the former.

"Um, well..." Buffy looked over to Giles and Willow. She didn't feel like having the Bladewielder tagging along, but didn't want to make a fuss about it. Forcing a smile to the surface, she looked at Sara and said, "Sure. Why not?"

Just as Sara and Buffy begun to leave, Rona and Tina had just emerged from the training room only to see Buffy and Sara exiting the front door. Her curiosity peaked Rona asked, "Where are those two going?"

"Patrol," Willow replied.

"Whoa, hold on... those two are going out on patrol... together?"

"It was Sara's idea," Willow said. "There's been some tension in the air and it's starting to wear on everyone."

"Need I remind you of the last few times those two went on patrol together?" Rona said.

"Well..." Giles began to recall, "that was some time before Buffy left for Italy. One of the training patrols, correct?"

"Yeah, when Buffy beat that vampire senseless so much that Sara had to pull her off of him. She swung at her and nearly broke her hand on the Witchblade."

"Well, that's not an indication that..."

"And remember that time when Buffy nearly had her head cut off because Pez didn't see her and swiped at her?"

"Um... her hair was... actually quite lovely after the stylist fixed it."

"And let's not forget about the gun..."

"Rona..." Giles interrupted, his nostrils slightly flaring as the oxygen tubes filled them, "I get it. Thank you."

"I'm just saying it probably isn't the best idea that they patrol together. Seems a little dangerous in light of everything."

"Well, maybe they'll just have a nice talk, you know, clear the air a bit?" Tina offered. "I mean, as long as nothing bad happens tonight..."

Immediately, Willow's jaw dropped and Giles merely stared at Tina. They should have prepared for something like this, but they truly hadn't given it much thought. Giles himself had too many years experience to buy the whole 'jinx effect' theory, but on occasion he found himself considering the possibility more and more. The stares Tina had elicited from the two would have burned a hole through steel were they capable.

"I'll go put on some coffee," Willow said grudgingly.

"What?" Tina asked in confusion. "What did I say?"

Her only reply was Giles vexed stare.

Rona, seeing that things weren't looking too good for the junior Slayer, decided to whisk the girl away, if only for her own safety.

"I think it'd be best if we got outta here, Tina," she said as she grabbed the young Slayer's arm. Tina, still confused, whisperingly inquired abut what had just happened.

"What'd I say?" Tina asked again, genuinely confused.

"Oh, little Slayer, let me educate you on the little-known, but highly-dangerous 'jinx effect'."

They had scoured over a few city blocks, two total after reaching their destination. Both were surprised as to the fact that there was no activity in the area other than Sara having to break up a few drunken rabblerousers. They had gotten to the beginning of their sixth city block when Buffy decided to break the awkward silence between them. Other than alerting each other on where to proceed next and muttering confusion as to the lack of vampire activity, they had barely said a word to each other, and Buffy wanted to at least have something to do while they patrolled.

"So..." she said uncomfortably, "how are, you know, things going?" She hadn't really cared to know, but in her mind feigning interest was better than avoiding any talk whatsoever.

"Um... pretty well. Work is... alright; a couple of ongoing cases..." Sara then stopped and looked at Buffy. "Oh... did you mean with Giles?"

"Well, not entirely," Buffy replied, "but since it came up... yeah."

"It's difficult, you know?" Sara began. "I mean, there's a lot to consider. There's the age thing for one. Never thought I'd be attracted to a guy twenty years older than me. Kind of weird."

"Look at it this way: that's well below my average," Buffy quipped. It was a light joke, forced as much as possible, but she hoped it was enough to cut the awkwardness for awhile until they got home.

"Right," Sara said, chuckling. "Then there's the whole Amy thing. She catches wind of it and I know she'll try and exploit it. It's just... everything is moving so fast. I mean... I never expected Giles to come out and tell me he was in love with me, particularly after getting shot. Talk about being blind-sided."

"I know what you mean," Buffy replied. "It caught me off-guard too. I've never seen Giles so impulsive."

"Impulsive?" Sara interjected. "What do you mean by that?"

"Oh... well, um, it's just that Giles is usually so methodical about things. He thinks things through and plans stuff out, you know? But with this, he seemed to just kind of jump into it."

"So... you're saying he didn't think things through when we started dating?" Sara inquired. She knew it was a off-handed comment but she still found it offensive nonetheless and wanted Buffy to explain herself.

"Oh, ah... no, I... don't think I'm making myself clear..." Buffy replied anxiously.


"Well... it's just that he seemed, you know, impulsive," said Buffy as she attempted to expound. "You know what I mean?"

"No, I don't know what you mean," replied Sara, her tone getting firmer.

"I don't think I'm explaining this right."

"Then maybe you should," Sara said, forming a sarcastic smile.

"Look," Buffy began to say, her voice indicating her irritation, "all I'm saying is that Giles seemed a little... quick... with this whole dating-you thing."

"Thereby implying that he really wasn't making an intelligent decision about it."

"Sara, you asked my opinion and I gave it. What's your problem?"

"My problem is you implying that Giles' decision to be with me wasn't a smart move."

"Considering the way you're acting right now I'd call that a fair assessment."

"I see: finally got the guts to say what you've been meaning to say, huh?" Sara retorted. "Go ahead, Buffy... say it. I know you want to. Let it out."

"We're not going to have this discussion," she replied as she picked up pace.

"Oh, I think we are," Sara said, catching up and standing in front of the Slayer.

Buffy looked at Sara for a few seconds, reluctant to give her a definite answer. Seeing as how she wasn't going to get out of it, she finally spoke. "Fine," Buffy replied, accepting the challenge, her tone moving from mere irritation to brimming anger. "The fact is I don't like the idea of you two together. I don't like seeing you with him. You're dangerous, and every time I see you around him I always get the feeling he's a microsecond away from you getting him killed. Are you happy now?"

"Oh," Sara snapped back, "unlike the times where Giles nearly got killed being your Watcher. How many concussions did he have mentoring you? Double digits?"

"That's not fair," Buffy replied, clearly offended at the idea that she was a greater threat to Giles than anyone else.

Sara raised her hands in mock surrender, saying, "Right, I forgot. You're Buffy Summers." She then heightened the pitch of her voice and began mimicking the Slayer. "I'm Buffy. And the rule goes that I can dish out criticism of everybody else but soon as someone flips it back on me, I cry 'foul', got it?"

"Oh, okay," Buffy retorted. She deepened her voice began to mock Sara. "I'm Sara Pezzini. I'm a moody cop who wears something she barely understands half the time and just might get you killed if it decides to have a mood swing. So go ahead and trust me completely."

"You've got some nerve," Sara said angrily.

"Guess you're rubbing off on me," Buffy retorted.

"I knew it," Sara said, throwing her hands up into the air. "We argued for a half-hour about this happening. I told Giles that it was just a matter of time before you blew up and started ranting, but he said you wouldn't be that emotional."

"Wait a minute..." Buffy said, "you two had a discussion about me?"

"Yeah..." Sara replied, as if it was too easy to understand.

"You had a discussion about me behind my back?" Buffy said, raising her voice. While she wasn't too mad at Sara for doing that, since she somewhat expected it, the fact that Giles engaged in it as well upset her.

"What..." Sara began to ask, "you think we wouldn't have a talk about how our relationship would affect temperamental Buffy?"

"Me, temperamental?" Buffy replied incredulously. "Isn't that the pot calling the kettle black?"

"Your problem is you can't deal with it," Sara said.

"That's not it, Sara. You want to know what my problem is? You, Sara, you and your abilities. You don't fully understand them, you don't fully control them, and the fact that none of us has died yet because of that is a miracle. We have enough on our plate without worrying about you and the Witchblade."

"You mean you have enough on your plate, 'cause that's what it all comes down to, huh?" Sara retorted. Her temper was beginning to flare as she began to yell. "It's always about you, isn't it, Buffy? You, you, you! You're under pressure, you're under stress, you have to take care of the girls!. If everything doesn't revolve around all things Buffy, there's a problem. 'What does Buffy think?', 'Buffy might not approve', 'Buffy might have problems with the relationship'. Well, here's a newsflash for you, Blondie: I don't give a damn what you think! And that's why you can't stand me, because I don't fall lock and step in-line with what you want. I don't kowtow to you like everybody else does, Buffy, and you know what... I'm not gonna start."

"That is not the issue and you know it!" Buffy shot back in defense. That had struck a nerve. And she wasn't sure of whether or not it was because it was true or because it was just uttered out loud. Pushing the matter aside, she said, "The issue is that you're going to get people hurt, the people I care about. You put my friends' lives and those girls' lives at risk all the time, all because you can't really grasp what you're capable of. Like going all commando when you went after Amy."

"Hey, I apologized for that!" Sara yelled. "What more do you want?"

"Don't you get it? You're a danger to people, Sara. Giles got hurt because of you..." Buffy didn't mean to say it. She knew Sara wasn't at fault for what happened, but she was running on emotion from the heat of the argument and didn't have time to think about what she was going to say. Truth be told, as soon as she said it, regret started to creep in.

"Don't you dare throw that back in my face!" Sara yelled, enraged at the accusation. "I didn't know that was going to happen and you know it!"

"What about Tina?" Buffy asked. "You took her out on patrol with you!"

"Because I saw potential in the girl!" Sara rebutted. What Sara hadn't told anyone was that she was subject to a vivid dream a possible nightmarish future should they have failed in stopping Amy. One bright spot, though, was a battle-hardened Tina who became a fierce and fearsome leader in a band of rebels. That prompted her to bend the rules on preparation for two-Slayer patrols. "She killed two on her own that night and one more with my help," Sara continued.

"She didn't put in the full training time!"

"She was gifted!" Sara protested. "She just needed a chance to shine."

"Fine then, but what about Willow, huh?" Buffy knew she wouldn't get much traction with the Giles-getting-shot issue or Tina going out on patrol, so she moved on to something she knew would strike a different chord: the one person who helped Sara discover her new powers. "She nearly got killed trying to help you with that spell for the Witchblade!"

"No one forced her to help, Buffy! Giles asked and she accepted."

"Which is exactly the point, Sara!" Buffy shot back. "She decided to help you out and nearly got killed. Michelle stopped Amy from killing you and she nearly died. And Tina could've been killed that night. How long until you put Giles in danger, huh? A few weeks? A month? Tomorrow?"

"You've got a lot of nerve," Sara retorted, her anger brimming. "You've got a lot of nerve for someone whose friends got maimed or murdered people under your watch!"

"Don't go there, Sara," Buffy cautioned. "Don't even think about it."

"Oh, I already went there."

"If you feel like restarting our little fight from last year, I'll be happy to oblige," Buffy challenged.

"Hey, I'm cool with it," Sara shot back. "Just name the place and time. You think you can take me, Buffy?"

"Yeah, just like last time."

"Oh, no... this won't be like last time," Sara replied.

"What, 'cause you got a big power boost?" Buffy said in an unimpressive tone. "That just means more of you to smack down."

"Keep talking, short stuff. You'll be the first Slayer with a permanent limp." The two women stood close to each other, Sara looking down at Buffy. The Witchblade's tendrils slithered and covered her right hand as Buffy tightened the grip on her scythe. The tension between them built, the both of them staring at each other. In a flash, the two combatants quickly shifted.

They moved past each other's right side and, gripping the other's left forearm, extended their weapons, inertia keeping them from losing balance. The two vampires that had approached each of them from behind while they were bickering were decapitated. Circling right back to their starting points they began to fight their respective opponents, ten in all, that had gathered to make fresh kills of the two women. Patrols had thinned ranks in the area and a few had hoped a sizable ambush would thin the herd of Slayers. They hadn't counted on facing against the head Slayer and the Bladewielder.

"So what do you think'll happen?" Willow asked.

"Honestly?" Giles replied. "I'm not exactly sure. I'd like to think they'll be closer to resolving their issues with each other than before."

"You really think so, or are you just telling yourself that?"

"Both," he replied grimly.

After Sara had burned the last of the vampires with the plasma-like energy that expelled from the Witchblade, she turned to see Buffy, who was blowing off the remains of the vampires she had killed from her scythe. Buffy looked at Sara, a slight smile creeping over her face. Sara responded in turn with a smirk out of the corner of her mouth and spoke.

"Now... getting back to this whole 'impulsive' issue..."

Buffy let out a loud sigh and rolled her eyes.

The minutes went by like hours for Giles. Willow had turned in for the night, not wanting to get involved in a potential brouhaha. That left Giles to weather the storm, if indeed one was actually coming. He breathed in sharply as the front door opened, then became relieved as he saw it was only Rona.

"Did you explain everything to Tina?" he asked.

"Yeah, I educated her on the 'jinx effect' when I drove her home", Rona said

"Good," Giles replied. "Then again, our fears may be unfounded. For all we know, things may turn out just fine."

No sooner had he uttered those words that the sound of tonal beeps came from the front doors and were subsequently thrown open. Buffy came into view and held the door open as Sara entered, the detective replying pointedly, "Oh, don't do me any favors."

"I don't plan on it, you certifiable psycho," Buffy replied

"This coming from a pathological egomaniac."

"You're just asking for it, aren't you?" the Slayer retorted as they stood face-to-face.

"I'm wishing it, only because whupping you will be all the sweeter."

"I don't know why I even got into this discussion. I don't have time for this," Buffy said as she turned to leave.

"I'm betting that's probably the first smart thing you've said in your entire air-headed life," said Sara as she turned to leave also.

"Keep yammering, you gun-toting, jack-booted, schizophrenic thug," Buffy muttered out to no one in particular.

"Pea-brained, undersized, blonde bimbo," said Sara in a low voice.

Unfortunately, both of them heard the other's comments, quickly turned around and yelled, "WHAT DID YOU CALL ME!"

They stared at each other for a split-second. "UGH!" both women replied in frustration before storming off. Both Giles and Rona had stayed silent while witnessing the display, caught off-guard by the two. While Giles stood in surprise, Rona broke the silence.

"Giles, they're home."

While still staring at the spot where Buffy and Sara had previously stood, his mind raced at the task he had before him: mediating a dispute between his girlfriend and his daughter-figure. He was almost preferring to face an apocalypse. He turned to Rona and asked, "I don't suppose I would be able to solicit your help in mediating this, would I?"

A loud guffaw emerged from Rona's mouth. The premise had truly humored her. After a few seconds of unbridled laughter, she said, "Get between my boss and your girlfriend? Who says you can't get British humor?" She slapped him on the back, something which clearly annoyed Giles even more. He rolled his eyes while Rona walked away still laughing loudly and muttering, "Silly Watcher..."

There he stood, alone, in the lobby of the building, deciding on his course of action. He knew he was going to have to talk to both of them; the only problem was who to go to first. If he talked to Buffy first, Sara would no doubt take it as putting Buffy before her and their relationship. If he talked to Sara first, no doubt Buffy would consider it a slight on their long friendship. Figuring that he and Buffy's friendship could survive a minor insult, he journeyed over to the room Sara was. She was sitting down in a chair reading a magazine. As soon as Giles entered, she immediately went on the offensive.

"Glad to see I rated higher than Buffy on the priority list. Though you took your sweet time deciding."

"Sara, I didn't come in here to fight. I just want to know what happened."

"What happened?" she said, getting up from her chair. "I'll tell you what happened: Buffy made some snarky remark about you not thinking through when we decided to date. I pointed it out and she blew up."

"Mmmhmm... and you didn't say anything that would antagonize her?" He knew there was always two sides to a story and had a feeling Sara's attitude played more of a part than she let on.

"Just what are you saying, Giles?"

"Well, it's just that you can be a little... confrontational sometimes," he said.

"Oh, I see... take her side."

"I'm not taking anyone's side..." Giles protested.

"No, you're just saying that I go around looking for a fight. Nice to know that's what you think about me." She opened her magazine and continued to read, livid that her current boyfriend seemed to be working hard at becoming her ex.

"Sara, I..."

"Sorry, Giles, I can't talk to you right now. I might get all confrontational and start an argument." She didn't even bother to look at him.

He let out a loud sigh; the conversation hadn't gone nearly the way he planned. Figuring she would need a few minutes, or a few hours, given her expression, he decided he would try his luck with Buffy. Walking with his oxygen tank in tow, something he had been using less and less since he suffered his wound, he crossed the lobby to the kitchen where Buffy was. As he opened the door, he saw Buffy preparing a sandwich, with a butter knife ready to spread the mayonnaise. Though it was a simple butter knife and he trusted her with his life, he was nevertheless having second thoughts of talking to an armed Buffy in a bad mood. Taking a moment to gather himself, he spoke.


"Giles," she replied, not bothering to look at him as she scooped out some mayo.

"Are you...?" he asked.

"I'm fine... you know, aside from the fact that someone decided to go see if his girlfriend was alright over the friend he's known for the past seven years. I mean, we've only gone through countless battles, life, my death, the near end of the world, but hey... what's all that compared to your moody girlfriend, huh?"

"Buffy, I didn't..."

"Sorry, Giles, it's just that I expected you of all people to show a little spine and be a friend," she interrupted, her disappointment palpable. "I was also expecting you not to have discussions about me behind my back. Guess I was expecting a little much. Thanks a lot, traitor."

He'd had about enough. Buffy's comment about being a traitor finally pushed him over the edge. The two strongest combatants they had were only a few feet apart and bickering like children. He knew that if they couldn't resolve their issues, the fate of their nascent army of Slayers was already sealed. Realizing this, he grabbed the knife from Buffy's hand and slammed it on the counter.

"Giles, what are you...?"

He then grabbed her left hand and began to pull her towards the lobby, Buffy protesting all the way. "Giles, I... was... making... a ... sandwich..." As soon as they approached the couch, he grabbed Buffy by both arms and pushed her down onto the couch.

"Sit down and shut up," he said, Buffy opening her mouth in shock at the command. He then went over to the room Sara was in and grabbed her magazine. He threw it down on the table, much to Sara's chagrin.

"Hey, I was reading that!" Sara yelled. Giles gripped her right arm and began to pull her toward the foyer of the building as well. Like Buffy, Sara put up a minor struggle the entire way. Though she and Buffy could have resisted, they both reluctantly decided to be dragged along for whatever Giles had planned. Similar to Buffy, he put both his arms against her, pinning them to her sides. He then pushed her down onto the couch as well.

"Sit down and shut up," he repeated.

"Excuse me?" Sara remarked as she put her hand on her hips, clearly offended by the command. Giles merely held up his forefinger. Sara's jaw dropped and she crossed her arms in protest. Oh, he'd better have a good explanation for this, she thought.

"You two..." he began, "you two are the best warriors we have. The girls look up to the both of you. Without you, Buffy, these girls would stand far shorter than they are against what's out there. Without you, Sara, none of them would know about the Witchblade or what to expect from it. Having said that, you two are hurting this group as much as you're helping it."

"What do you mean?" Buffy asked.

"We're all tired of the bickering and fighting," Giles replied. "We're all tired of trying to play sides to you two. With so much going on, some of it happening in our own personal lives, you two are making it hard for all of us to concentrate on what's at hand. Your mistrust is not only taxing, but dangerous. We won't stop Amy, much less anyone else that comes along, if two of our leaders don't trust each other."

"Sara," he said as he turned to her, "Buffy, Willow, and I have lost loved ones over the course of the last few years. And the only thing that kept us going was each other. Because of that, we're very protective of the people we care about, Buffy in particular. And her being in a position of leadership like this puts even more pressure on her. She wants the people around her to be safe and sometimes she can be very adamant about it. Sometimes that dedication and care can manifest in negative ways." Sara listened and tried to understand it from Buffy's perspective. Though she could be distant, she herself was protective of Danny and Jake to her very core and would do nearly anything to keep them safe as well. And when the Witchblade came into play, she made it even more her mission. She cared so much that she kept her partners at arms length to make sure they wouldn't be hurt by it. It gave her the reputation around the precinct of being "hard to work with", something she began to regret as of late. Her experiences with the Slayers only illuminated what was already common knowledge among her colleagues.

"Buffy," he continued, "Sara and I have gone over all the risks we're taking on going into this relationship. We've discussed how it would affect things... even the group dynamic. And yes, I admit we've discussed how it would affect you. We're fully aware of the dangers involved and we've decided to take them on together. This relationship was by no means entered into lightly. I know you've had your differences with Sara, but please trust that I've made a well-thought out decision to be with her." Buffy took it all in and realized how much she had not trusted in Giles on judgment. It made her feel guilty inside that she had such a low opinion of him regarding his own personal life, despite that wisdom he had always shown as her Watcher.

"You are two of the most extraordinary women I've ever met. You have responsibilities we can never fully understand and you do them every day as best you can. It's the reason why I love you both. I know that deep down inside you respect each other, even though you never say it. I'm not asking you to be best friends, but I am asking you to put aside your differences. If not for me then for those girls who follow you."

Buffy and Sara looked at each other, wondering what the other was thinking. It was true: both of them did respect each other. Buffy herself admitted as much when she confronted Amy over the Onyx issue. She respected how much Sara dedicated herself to her job, both of them, even at the cost to her own personal life sometimes. She led two lives that required everything she had and more and she always gave it. And deep down inside Sara respected Buffy as well, who had been in the slaying-evil game longer than she had and was so young when she became a Slayer. She had faced things Sara would have probably only seen in her nightmares and came out swinging, ready for more. Determination like that was something the cop always admired.

An awkward twenty seconds passed before anyone made a sound.


"Sara... oh, I'm sorry, um... you go first," Buffy said sheepishly.

"No, no... you," Sara replied.

"No, you wanted to say something and I think..."

"Anyone can go first," Giles interrupted. Buffy decided she was going to be the one. "Sara, I'm... I'm sorry for the way I've acted toward you. I haven't given you a chance at all and I was wrong not to. I just... I care so much about Giles, you know? He's like the father I wish I had and I guess I get a little over-protective."

"No, I get it," Sara said. "I should apologize for being so hard to work with. I know you don't have it easy and I'm not always the one to make it any easier. It's just... you see what I see day in and day out and you get a thick skin. You don't want to, but it happens anyway. Then someone like Giles comes along and starts giving you a reason to hope and you get scared that it'll get taken away. And you fight so hard that to keep it that you make everyone the enemy, whether they are or not. I'm sorry."

"Just promise me you won't hurt him," Buffy requested. "I know it sounds stupid, but I just need to hear it."

Looking Buffy square in the eyes, Sara said to her, "I promise you: I will not hurt Giles."

"Truce?" Buffy asked as she extended her hand.

"Truce." Sara said as she accepted it and smirked.

"Well, I think this calls for a little late-night snack," Buffy chirped. "I've been so busy I've barely eaten today."

Sara nodded in agreement. "I didn't eat much either. I'm up for it if you are."

"Splendid idea," Giles said. "I have to admit I'm a tad peckish myself."

"Um... actually, honey," Sara said as she patted Giles' chest, "I think this is just going to be one of those, you know, 'girl things'."

"Yeah. Sorry, Giles."

Giles was a bit disappointed, but he knew it was probably for the best. "Oh, uh, um... of-of course. You two go out and, uh, enjoy yourselves."

"Thanks a bunch," Sara said, kissing him on the lips. "So... what's the plan?"

"I'm in the mood for Thai for some reason," Buffy said as they made their way to the door.

"Ehhh, too spicy. I feel like Mexican," Sara replied in disagreement.

"Nah, I'm from SoCal. You can throw a rock and hit a Mexican restaurant."

"Oh, come on. I know some pretty good late-night Mex spots."

"Well, I'd like to try something different for a change," Buffy countered.

"Like that pizza we ordered a couple of weeks ago?" Sara chided.

"It was... unique," she lamely defended. "Besides, your suggestion wasn't much better."

"Definitely better than yours."

"Are we gonna go through this every time we get something to eat?"

"Well, if you ordered something good once in a while we wouldn't."

"Hey, I always get good stuff," Buffy said. "And right now I feel like getting Thai."

"Well, I don't," Sara replied as she and Buffy walked.

"Well, I don't feel like having Mexican."

"You know, you always do this. You always..." Sara began to say as their voices faded past the door.

Giles couldn't believe it. They were still arguing after that sit-down. Still, he reasoned, if the discussion was limited to choices of food, he could live with that. And so could everyone else. Flabbergasted, he merely whispered to himself.

"Baby steps. Many, many, many, baby steps..."

To my readers: The reason I wrote this is because I wanted to get to the root of Buffy and Sara's animosity towards each other. It'll help advance the story and part of it will have an impact on a later portions in my third chapter. I hope you liked it. If not, well... the mind-wiping machine is ready on stand-by.