I Last night before you fell asleep
You whispered something to me
Was it just a dream
I'm gonna listen to you close
Coz your goodnight kiss
Felt like a ghost
What are you trying to say to me

/b The Corrs - Intimacy /b /I

Buffy's mood matched the pall that had descended over her home. Dawn wasn't putting up much of a fight at being grounded, realizing just how close she had come to dying but that didn't mean the household didn't feel very strained. Xander and Anya were angry with Dawn for making them look bad. To add to Buffy's ill-humor, Angel was getting ready to go back to L.A. and it occurred to her how much she really wanted him to stay in Sunnydale. She wasn't looking to go back to what they had had that last year of high school, not really but having Angel and Spike around was useful. They could fight more evil.

The only bright spot in the last few days was that the cultists confessed and offered up that the kids were held hostage in the basement of a home over on Maple Grove Avenue. All of Dawn's friends, except for Evie, had been found alive. Evie had been one of the bodies in the woods.

Buffy concentrated on Giles' happiness, trying to borrow a little of it for herself but even that was becoming strained. Ceara's TV shoot in Sunnydale was coming to an end and she was getting ready to leave. Giles wasn't ready for that and everyone knew it. They were walking on eggshells around him, nervous about how he'd take it when his son left.

"We'll be going back to L.A," Aidan was saying to his father when buffy tuned back into the conversation. "We're going to shoot even more holiday footage of haunted hotels and stuff there for the show. I was kinda hoping for New York when we first came over here because I'd like just one Christmas to have snow. That'd be different."

"Snow's overrated," Spike offered from where he was sprawled on a living room chair, not about to let Angel out of his sight, not when he could get in some more tormenting.

"I miss the snow," Angel said. Buffy wasn't sure if it was true or if Angel had to say something was black just because Spike said it was white. "Giles, I have a large hotel as my base in L.A., you can easily come to stay if you'd like to spend the holiday, if you'd like."

Buffy caught the surprised look on her Watcher's face but it was absent from Ceara and Aidan's so obviously they had brought up the possibility to Angel prior to this. She hoped he'd say yes. He deserved a little happiness.

"Thank you, Angel." Giles looked over at Buffy, who waved him on. "I'd like that, if I wouldn't be any bother."

"Not at all. It's not entirely private, not with me, Fred, and Gunn living there. Wes and Cordelia might as well live with me, too, for all the time they spend there. It's big enough that you can hide out for a while without tripping over anyone." Angel smirked.

"Well, when you put it that way, I can't see how I can say no," Giles said, with the biggest smile Buffy had ever seen on his face.

"In fact, we wouldn't mind having everyone up for a visit," Cordy put in, an excited gleam in her eyes. "Ladies, we still have a few prime L.A. shopping days left."

"We thought it might be nice to have one big party," Ceara said, giving Cordelia a conspiratorial look. "We all have isolationist tendencies that need to be fought against. Besides, before we left for Sunnydale, Fred and Cordy were discussing making Angel dress up as Santa. Who could turn that down?"

"I bloody well couldn't," Spike snorted, his eyes dancing.

"You aren't invited and I am not dressing as Santa," Angel growled, glaring at everyone.

"We'll just see about that." Buffy patted Angel's arm. "Willow, Cordy, Tara, Dawn, time for a little holiday confab. Giles, I believe Ceara had some plans for you tonight. Aidan will be sleeping over here."

"Guess I know what that means. Ewww." Aidan shuddered, making a face. Dawn mirrored it.

"Cut that out," Ceara said, cuffing her son lightly on the back of the head.

"Nope, I reserve the right to shudder," Aidan said, exercising that right again.

"Don't blame you," Dawn said, tucking against Aidan. "When I'm done with the holiday confab, you can help me study for my history final right? Upstairs?" She stroked his arm. Aidan beamed.

"With the door open," Ceara interjected, giving her son a stern look. "No one's coming to save you if her earrings get caught on any of the metal bobs in your face, son."

Aidan went viciously red. He looked to Giles for help. Giles ducked his head, grinning. Aidan scowled at his mother. "Thanks for mortifying me, Mum."

"That's what I'm for. Shall we, Roo?" Ceara linked arms with Giles and dragged him towards the door.

Buffy watched them go with a smile.

"So where are we going?" Giles asked as he got into his car with Ceara.

"No big romantic plans actually. I was just thinking back to your place for some alone time." She smiled at him. "Without having to worry about work or child related interruptions."

"Ah." He favored her with a cheeky grin. "That is not without its charms."

Ceara stroked his thigh. "Thought you'd see it that way."

Giles' grin widened and he pressed a little harder on the accelerator. They didn't say much on the way back to his home. Once inside he poured a scotch for both of them. His fingers brushed hers as he handed her the drink. He allowed some of his doubts leak through. "Do you truly want me to come to Los Angeles?"

Ceara sipped the smoky liquor. "I do. And it would mean the world to Aidan if you did."

Giles gnawed at his bottom lip for a moment. "But what..."

"What if we're confusing him by being together for what might be a short time? Aidan's old enough to understand and sadly jaded enough not to get his hopes up about too much," Ceara said bitterly. "And for all we know it might not be for a short time. There's nothing standing in our way this time, Rupert."

He took a drink, considering that. "Other than I am here and you will leave to return to Australia. You have a job to do."

"A job that might send me here to L.A. permanently. But that's the future." She set her drink down, putting her arms around him. "And right now, all I'm worried about is tonight. Let the future sort itself out."

Giles put his drink aside as well. He said nothing, leading her back to his bedroom, his lips and body doing his talking for him. The future was too ephemeral. Ceara and Aidan represented something he didn't want to let go of, not yet, not ever if he could help it. Giles was well content in living for the now.