Disclaimer: I don't own Buffy the Vampire Slayer or any of the characters mentioned in the cannon.

A/N: A big thank you to those that reviewed last chapter it is greatly appreciated and I'm proud to be getting this chapter out to you so soon :). There is a smut warning for this chapter about midway through I suppose. I hope that you all enjoy this chapter.

CHAPTER 10

Hush

Buffy walked beside Willow as together they headed towards their afternoon Psychology class. Buffy felt another yawn coming on and immediately raised a hand to cover her mouth just before it overtook her. Willow gave Buffy a look as her petite blond friend lowered her hand back to her books. "Are you sure you didn't stay out all night?" She asked a little sardonically.

"No. I actually got back early. Patrol was a little quiet last night." Buffy informed her as they turned into another hall.

Willow raised an eyebrow at Buffy, not quite sure that she entirely believed Buffy. "So, there was no romantic interlude last night."

"Nope, there was no interluding last night." Buffy murmured, with a soft little sigh. Wishing that he had shown up, it probably would have made her night more interesting.

"Uh-huh." Willow murmured sarcastically as she gave Buffy a disbelieving look.

"We didn't." Buffy insisted as they reached the lecture hall their class was being held in. "I just had a bad night, that's all. Sleep was being kinda elusive." She admitted as they entered the hall. Her hand rising slightly to return the wave that Riley gave her as he glanced over at her as he talked softly with another female student who was holding her notebook up, evidently asking for help. The dark brunette shot Buffy a withering look, not appreciating that Riley could so easily be distracted from her by the blond who already had a boyfriend.

Willow also gave Riley a small wave of greeting, before turning her attention back to Buffy. "Was there any reason for said sleeplessness? A prophetic reason perhaps."

Buffy shook her head. "No, no dreams last night. Just one of those times when sleep likes to play the flirtatious bitch that never closes the deal."

"That mean whore." Willow gasped in mock outrage for her friend.

Buffy smiled as she took her seat, setting her book bag down at her feet, before pulling out her notebook and pen. "Well, I much rather be dealing with a sleepless night than a prophetic dream. Sleeplessness tends to be less dire straits." Willow nodded, but didn't say anything as Professor Walsh walked briskly into the lecture hall.

"Alright class settle down." Walsh ordered unnecessarily, her student's voices having quieted at her entrance. "Class is now begun." She said briskly as she shrugged out of her jacket, before facing the class as she began her lecture for the day.

Buffy wasn't sure how much time had passed as she tried to focus on the lecture Walsh was giving as she fought the tiredness that was pressing in around her, urging her to catch up on the sleep she had missed out on the night before. And then suddenly her tiredness seemed to melt away making it so much easier to be alert. Buffy smiled in relief as she sat up straighter and pressed the tip of her pen to the paper of her open notebook fully intent on trying to catch up on what she had unintentionally missed. "So this is what it is…" Walsh continued her gaze sweeping over her students as she continued to talk. "Talking about communication, talking about language not the same thing." Buffy scribbled hurriedly in her notebook. "It's about the way a child can recognise and produce phonemes that don't occur in its native language."

Buffy glanced over at Willow who was paying rapt attention, very glad that she would be able to grab what she had missed from her best friend after class. "It's about inspiration… not the idea, but the moment before the idea when its total, when it blossoms in your mind and connects to everything, before the coherent thought that gives it shape, that locks it in and cuts it off from the universal. When you articulate it, it becomes smaller. It's about thoughts and experiences that we don't have a word for." She lectured, her gaze searching among her students, before focusing on Buffy. "A demonstration. Buffy Summers." She singled out, raising an arm in her direction. Buffy looked around hoping that there would turn out to be another Buffy Summers in the class sitting somewhere behind her. "Come on down to the front here." Walsh urged, beckoning her down with a small movement of her arm.

Reluctantly Buffy stood from her seat and slowly made her way down the steps, her ears filled with the excited whispers of the students that were both teasing and urging her on. She came to a stop beside Walsh in front of her desk, her hands folded awkwardly in front of her; highly aware of all the eyes that were on her. Waiting expectantly for what she would be told to do. "A typical college girl," Walsh addressed the class. "One assumes." She added as she turned her gaze to Buffy a small smile curving up her lips. "Lie down on my desk." She instructed Buffy.

"What?" Buffy exclaimed surprised, not having expected the demonstration to involve lying down on Walsh's desk!

Walsh's smile turned faintly amused. "Go ahead, you're perfectly safe." She assured Buffy as she gestured for Buffy to walk over to the end of her desk that was facing the closed door to the lecture hall.

"Oh." Buffy muttered a little embarrassed as she heard the sound of her classmates laughter at her hesitation. Walking over to the end of the desk she easily slid up onto the end of the desk, sliding carefully back on the smooth clean surface, before leaning back on her elbows not quiet able to bring herself to lie down complete on the desk. Her predatory instincts telling her that it was a vulnerable position that she didn't want to be in a class full of students that for the most part she didn't really know.

"Riley," Walsh called, turning her attention to her TA who was leaning against the wall, his gaze shifting from Buffy to Walsh, his gaze somewhat disgruntled as he focused his attention on Walsh. "If you could oblige."

Riley straightened up and began walking across the room towards the desk. "A demonstration, right?" He grumbled, his tone tinged with anger.

Walsh smiled amusedly once again as she watched Riley cross in front of her. "Be a good boy." She directed, her gaze following him as he made it over to the desk where Buffy was waiting, her hazel eyes slightly wide as she wondered just what was supposed to happen next, especially when Riley leaned over her in a fashioned that seemed very intimate between to people that were just supposed to be friends. Buffy jumped slightly as one of his hands came to rest on her waist. "This feels very strange." She muttered lowly, her gaze shifting nervously to the class who was watching them intently.

Riley smiled at her softly, his gaze soft. "Don't worry." He assured her. "If I kiss you, it'll make the sun go down." He stated confidently.

Buffy opened her mouth to object as Riley leaned in closer to her as she attempted to lean back further only for a sudden crash of the door breaking down to distract the both of them. Riley moved back from her and her gaze landed on the intruder. "Angelus?" She murmured surprised. Her eyes taking in just how tense and angry he looked as he took in her position on the desk, before his narrowed dark gaze landed on Riley who had moved to stand slightly to the right of her.

"If you want to see, Buffy you'll have to wait til after the class." Riley said firmly his arms crossing over his chest as he stared Angelus down, whom merely sneered as he began stalking into the room ignoring the titters of the students his sudden presence had stirred the students to.

Buffy watched as the distance between Angelus and Riley was steadily eaten away as Riley began moving towards Angelus. She bit her lower lip as she continued to just sit on the desk and watch was about to unfold. Recognising the beginnings of a physical confrontation, it seemed a little odd to her that she felt no need to step between the two, to stop was about to happen… at this moment it felt like the most natural thing in the world to just sit there and watch the outcome. She winced slightly as Angelus landed his first punch to Riley's gut, perfectly able to imagine the kind of pain Riley would have to be feeling in that moment, having been on the receiving end of Angelus' punches. Riley threw his own in return, his punch landing solidly against Angelus' cheek. Buffy shifted back across the desk so that she was once again sitting on the end of the desk her arms coming up to cross over her waist as she watched the two dance around each other, each seemingly taking what appeared to be almost playful jabs at each other as if sizing each other up…

Buffy rolled her eyes as she continued to watch, a part of her wondering why no one else was attempting to rush in and stop her boyfriend from beating up the TA. There was no doubt in her mind that Angelus would win… but Riley was holding his own remarkably well as he remained on his feet no matter how many solid punches and kicks Angelus threw at him. The fight didn't last that much longer though, despite Riley's valiant effort as Angelus knocked Riley out cold with a well-placed punch that sent Riley tumbling backwards as he went crashing towards the ground. Angelus immediately lost interest in Riley as his gaze went to Buffy who raised an eyebrow at him as he stalked towards her, his gait predatory for a whole other reason. He placed his hands on Buffy's knees sliding them up her thighs. Buffy tilted her head up so that she could continue meeting Angelus' gaze.

A delicious shiver running over her as his hands slid up over her hips coming to rest on her sides. Her lips parting expectantly as Angelus dipped down towards her, no longer caring about all the pairs of eyes that were watching her and Angelus as their lips met igniting the passion that seemed to always be simmering just beneath the surface when they were together. Her eyes fell closed as their lips moved against each other, sending sparks of desire through her blood heating it. Their tongues met passionately and Buffy raised a hand to caress over Angelus' cheek as she moaned heatedly. Reluctantly she pulled back as she sensed the lights in the room changing. She looked over at the window that let natural light into the hall during the day to see that the sun quickly disappearing as darkness took over the sky. Turning her gaze from the window to Angelus, who was looking around the classroom, a curious look on his face. Buffy followed his gaze to see the now dark hall completely empty of students, their desks sitting empty as if the classroom had always been that way.

"Fortune favours the brave." She murmured as she finished her surveillance of the room, finding it now completely empty aside from herself and Angelus.

Angelus returned his gaze from the room to Buffy, his hands tightening slightly about her sides, drawing Buffy's gaze from the room to him. "How about we continue where we left off?" He murmured huskily in her ear. His head dipping lower to place soft kisses on the slender column of her neck, paying particular attention to the thudding pulse in her neck. Buffy leaned into him enjoying the sensations his mouth on her neck were creating inside of her. She pulled back after a short moment as she swore she heard something beyond the wet sounds of Angelus' mouth working on her neck. "Do you…" Buffy trailed off as Angelus pulled her back against him, his mouth trailing over her neck once again. Shaking herself Buffy pushed him away with a great deal of effort. "Stop it!" She hissed urgently as Angelus attempted to pull her closer once again, causing Angelus to groan in disappointment, but he stilled all the same as he pricked his own ears for any strange sounds that would distract Buffy from the pleasure he had been giving her. "Do you hear that?" She asked.

Buffy slid off the desk as Angelus stepped back a little as he took note of the sound that sounded very much like a young girl humming a tune. Buffy turned her gaze to the door that Angelus had broken down in his urgency to get into the room and began walking towards it, believing that the sound was coming from somewhere beyond the door. Angelus followed closely behind her as she walked out the door and started down the hall. A short moment later Buffy stopped as her eyes landed on a young blond girl that was standing at the end of the hall a small ornate box cupped in her hands, that she was holding up in front of her.

The girls hum became a rhyme as she stared intently at Buffy, her voice rising and echoing back to her. "Can't even shout, can't even cry. The gentlemen are coming by. Looking in windows, knocking on doors, they need to take seven and they might take yours. Can't call to mom, can't say a word. You're gonna die screaming, but you won't be heard." Buffy frowned as the rhyme ended, the words settling a disturbing feeling in the pit of her stomach. She felt Angelus touch her arm gently and immediately she turned to look at him, wanting to ask him if he understood what the rhyme meant, only to jump a scream of surprise building in her throat as she was greeted by a horrifying pasty smiling face. It had sharp fang like teeth filling its mouth, revealed entirely by its wide open mouthed smile, the tall demon wearing a snappy black suit that seemed to give it an air of elegance that its face didn't match.

Buffy jerked away, her heart thundering uncomfortably against her ribcage as she looked around the room, somewhat surprised to see the sun brightly shining in through the window and Riley still leaning against the wall completely unharmed by the fight with Angelus; Angelus nowhere in sight and the classroom still bustling with students. "So, I'll see you all Monday for a final review session." Walsh dismissed the class just as Buffy came to the conclusion that she had been dreaming.

Willow glanced over at Buffy as they began putting their books away. "Boy that was an exciting class, huh?" She stated, fighting to keep the amusement out of her voice and not quiet fully succeeding.

"Oh, yeah wow." Buffy muttered uncomfortably as she stood, swinging the strap of her bag up onto her shoulder.

"And the last 20 minutes was a revelation." Willow teased. "Just laid out everything we need to know for the final. I'd hate to have missed that."

"Just tell me I didn't drool." Buffy pleaded, realizing that Willow most definitely knew that she had fallen asleep during the class.

"You were very discreet." Willow assured her as they exited the lecture hall. "Minimal drool."

"Oh yay." Buffy said in relief as they rounded a corner.

"So, were you dreaming?" Willow asked curiously.

Buffy nodded. "Yeah, it was kind of intense…" She began as they passed Riley who was standing in the hall talking to the same brunette as before, accidentally catching a part of their conversation. Quickly excusing himself much to the girls' disappointment, he hurried after the two. "Intense? Really?" He asked as he caught up with them, falling into step beside Buffy. "'Cause you seemed so peaceful."

Buffy flushed with embarrassment partly because of the dream and partly because someone else had noticed that she had been tired enough to fall asleep during class. "Of course, it was only for a moment." She muttered.

"Right." Riley murmured amusedly, before changing the subject as they reached a turn off point of the hall they were walking down. "Hey, you guys headed over towards Kresge?" He asked hopefully.

"Uh, student centre." Buffy corrected.

"Great." Riley exclaimed, quickly changing where he'd been going to be able to spend more time with her. His eyes going hopefully to Willow trying to silent convey what he wanted to the red head. "So, this dream…" He began curiously.

Willow slowed in her steps reading the look Riley had given her and was more than willing to oblige. "You know," She murmured gaining both their attention. "You guys go, I'm gonna do the thing." She excused lamely studiously avoiding Buffy's gaze as she frowned as she wondered what the thing was… "I'll see you after Wicca group, Buffy." She excused before moving to head off.

"Kay." Buffy muttered still confused even as the notion hit her that Willow was trying to set her up with the Psychology TA.

"Bye." Riley called after the red head happily, glad that she had understood his silent message, before turning his gaze back to Buffy who gave him a small smile, before starting to walk again as she began imagining all the ways she would kill Willow when she saw her after her Wicca group. "So, tell me about your dream." Riley urged.

Unable to help herself Willow only took two steps before looking back after Buffy and Riley's retreating forms. She hurried down a hallway that had windows cut into the sides so that students and teachers alike could see out into the open grass area where students could eat lunch, unable to keep herself from wanting to eavesdrop on the two, wanting to know how well it went.

"As a psyche major I'm qualified to go 'hmmm'." Riley continued trying to prod the information out of her, naively hoping that she had been dreaming about him in a good light… a light that may prod her into looking at him as a possible dating prospect over her current boyfriend.

Buffy shrugged. "I don't really remember it." She said evasively, not wanting to get into the strangeness of her dream with Riley.

"Well, did I appear at all in the dream?" He asked, his prodding getting less subtle.

"Uh… I don't think so." Buffy denied evasively once again.

"Oh." Riley muttered disappointedly as Willow raised her notebooks to hide her face from view, hoping to avoid being recognised by the two. Riley forced himself to solider on, reminding himself that it had been a slim chance that her dream would involve him in any way. "So what have you go going for tonight?" He asked changing the subject once again.

"Oh, patrolling." Buffy answered automatically without thinking it through completely.

"Patrolling?" Riley asked surprised, that not having been the answer he'd been expecting.

"Eh, petroleum." Buffy said hurriedly, picking the first word that jumped into her head that sounded at least a bit like 'patrolling'.

"Petroleum?" Riley questioned again, growing even more confused.

"Uh-huh." Buffy confirmed, as she tried to think of something that would explain why she would be hanging with petroleum on her Friday night.

"Tonight you have crude oil." Riley murmured, trying to understand and hoping that she would explain it to him.

"And homework." Buffy tacked on, deciding it was safer to just ignore the whole petroleum thing entirely. "What about you?" She asked, hoping that it would successfully change the subject from her major slip up that had gone from bad to awkward.

"Oh," Riley fumbled awkwardly. "You know grading papers." He lied, wishing that he didn't have to. Perhaps if she knew what he was involved in she wouldn't be so quick to dismiss him… perhaps even give him a chance.

"Ah, that'll be fun." Buffy murmured, shifting on her feet as she tried to come up with a not rude way of making a quick escape.

"Not petroleum fun, but it passes the time." He attempted to tease her.

Buffy shifted again, feeling a slight heat fill her cheeks as she was once again reminded of her slip… a slip that should not have happened so easy. Her head was still too full with rhyme and demon in her dream… the ugly freaky one… not the hot one she called boyfriend… "So I uh…" Buffy trailed off as she realized the weirdness behind Riley's plans for the night. "What papers?"

"Papers?" Riley questioned, his mind having already moved on from the lie he had so easily told.

"Um, grading, what papers? We only have the final." Buffy explained a small frown darkening her brow as she tried to think of what papers he could still have left to grade as she'd received all hers back.

"Oh, yeah." Riley floundered again, realizing that he had been caught out in his lie. "Uh… um, I…" He stuttered as he tried to think of something that sounded like it could be plausible. "Late, late papers I gotta look at." He finally got out.

"Oh," Buffy said doubtfully, not sure that she believed him… but then… what reason did he have to lie. She was the one that had to watch everything she said to make sure that her extra-curricular activities didn't become known. "Ok. Well, I guess I'll see you in class."

"Uh, yeah." Riley muttered, feeling a little disheartened by the lack of progress he was making. Turning away Riley began to walk away from Buffy, heading towards his original destination. He really wasn't sure what had gotten into him; sure he liked the girl, liked her a lot, but she was taken and he'd never thought that he'd go after another man's girl… but she was… different. Unlike any woman he had ever met before… Riley sighed as he paused looking behind him to see Buffy heading on her way. Willow said that she wasn't happy with Angelus… that he was no good for her… so he had to keep trying. Had to see if there was a chance that she might like him more than that Angelus character one day.

Riley sighed again and began one his way once again. He just had to be patient, if he did there was a good chance that Buffy would dump her boyfriend and then there would be room for him to step in. After all they had just recently had a good fight that had apparently hurt her pretty badly. So there was a chance that he could have a shot with her. From her spot she had been doing her best to hide in Willow sighed deeply completely disappointed in the way things had turned out. It hadn't gone anything like she had been hoping. Lowering her notebooks from her face Willow turned away from her failed attempt at matchmaking. It seemed to her that Buffy was determined to remain clueless about Riley's feeling for her. 'If only she would look past Angelus!' Willow thought a little bitterly. After everything he had put all of them through she found it hard to believe that Buffy could trust him… could love him… and yet… Willow paused in her steps as a small pinch of guilt hit her. Perhaps she shouldn't be going behind Buffy's back trying to set her up with Riley… but she was so certain that Angelus would end up hurting her again… all she wanted was for Buffy to have a chance with someone normal… someone who would take delight in hurting her!

Willow bit her lip as she unbidden she remembered just how caring and careful Angelus had been with Buffy those times she hadn't been herself. How he'd made sure she hadn't hurt anyone when she'd been mostly soulless and the way he had held her when she'd drunk bad beer, allowing her to climb on him and draw on his walls with charcoal… Willow shook her head trying to clear the images. She was right! She knew she was!

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Giles sat at his small desk, a pen in hand as he wrote on a pad as he nodded as he listened to Buffy who was reciting the most important part of her dream; the part that seemed prophetic, the rest she didn't really think that he needed to know. "Can't even shout, can't even cry." Giles repeated back to her as he recited from what he had written. "The gentlemen are coming by." Giles scratched thoughtfully at his head as he underlined the words for emphasis. "Um, it sounds vaguely familiar." He admitted, though for the life of him he couldn't remember where he had heard it before. "You're sure it's… nothing you hear when you were a child?" He asked as he got up from the chair, nodding as he listened carefully to Buffy's response.

"Oh, alright." He murmured resignedly, realizing that he wasn't going to be getting any further help from her. "And the girl was holding a box, nothing else?" He inquired, feeling hopeful that she might have left something out that might give him a clue as to where he could start looking, not wanting to have to spend too much time with it. Normally he wouldn't care, in fact he'd be thrilled to be involved… but for the first time in a long time he actually had plans and he wanted to enjoy himself, not spend the evening worrying that he should be looking up just what Buffy had seen in her dreams… if indeed it was prophetic. "Well, I-it could definitely be one of your prophetic dreams." He allowed as he took off his glasses. "Or it could just be the eternal mystery that is your brain." He teased, earning a quipping remark from his Slayer. "But I-I'll check it out and um, I'll let you know if I find something." He assured her, listening again as Buffy thanked him. "Alright. Bye, bye." He said, before replacing his corded phone back in its cradle where it rested on the wall. He stared down at what he had written, the words still striking a familiar cord in him, but what was still eluding him. He scratched at his head again a frown of concentration pulling down his brow. "Have you ever heard of a group called the gentlemen?" He asked Spike who was noisily walking around his kitchen chewing on something that he had found there as he searched for what he was looking for.

"Group of what?" Spike asked distractedly as he continued to search for another box of wheat-a-bits to replace the box he'd just finished off.

"The Gentlemen." Giles repeated as he seated himself back down at his desk, gazing down at the words, trying to put the pieces together and growing more frustrated as the answer continued to elude him.

"Dunno." Spike said with a shrug as he opened up a cupboard looking inside it.

Giles tapped his fingers against the words on the page. "You certain?"

"No." Spike muttered unconcerned with Giles problems, not caring in the slightest about what troubles the white hats where having. In fact he'd love it if they all ended up dead. "We're out of wheat-a-bits." He informed Giles, far more concerned about what he wanted to put in his stomach as he came out of the kitchen with a box of wheat crackers and a jar of crunchy peanut butter clutched in his hands.

Giles drew off his glass in frustration. "We are out of wheat-a-bits because you ate them all… again." He grouched as he cleaned the lenses, hoping that the familiar soothing motion would help jog some memory of why the rhyme was so familiar to him.

"Get some more." Spike demanded as he sat himself down on Giles double seater couch.

"I thought vampires were supposed to eat blood." Giles complained as he slid his glassed back on over his nose.

Spike shrugged. "Yep. Well sometimes I like to crumble up the wheat-a-bits in the blood. Give it a little texture." He informed Giles glancing over his shoulder at him, in the hopes of having gotten a reaction from the stuffy ex-Watcher, before lying down on the couch, his chosen food stuffs in hand as he began to eat once again. Despite how much pain and agony he had put his body through during the first year of his existence by continuing to eat human food, he'd never given up eating it. Having enjoyed all the different ways that he could add it to the blood, creating different sensations and now he could eat it without any trouble his body having learned to cope with the solid food he gave it.

Giles swallowed back the bile that had risen in his throat in response to Spike's words, the imagery almost overwhelming him. "Since the picture you just painted means I will never touch food of any kind again. You'll just have to pick it up yourself." He said firmly, finding himself glad to have an excuse to not have to make another trip to the market just for the annoying peroxide vampire that seemed intent on eating him out of house and home despite the fact that he wasn't supposed to eat at all.

"Sissy." Spike goaded from his relaxed position on the couch, already mentally planning all the ways that he would torment his fellow Englishman until he caved and went and bought him some more. Having no intention of going himself to get them, not when he could have Giles do it for him.

***B/A***B/A***

The tenant that live across from Giles condo looked up from her mail as she heard the high pitched sound of an upset woman's voice and a moment later she saw a young man who looked uncomfortable and a young woman following behind. Staring at them for only a brief moment, before she hurried into her condo not wanting to be nosey and deliberately eavesdrop on another couples pain. Xander walked through the courtyard heading towards Giles condo. "I don't get where this is coming from." He grumbled anxiously, not sure he was really understanding what she wanted him to say. What she wanted him to do.

Anya glared at his back as she followed after him. "Well, what am I supposed to think?" She demanded of him, her voice slightly irate as she felt her heart palpitating painfully in her chest as his reactions did nothing to ease her mind.

"Well, how could you say I'm 'using you'?" Xander asked, seriously confused. He wasn't sure what it was that he had done. He'd thought that things were going well between them.

Anya frowned at him hurt that he had to ask. "You don't care about what I think, you don't ask about my day…"

Xander couldn't help his amusement as he began to understand. "You really did turn into a real girl, didn't you?" He joked, unintentionally hurting Anya further.

"See?!" She declared accusingly. "And you make jokes during my pain. You don't care about me at all." Anya cried despondently, hating the way she was feeling in this moment. If there was one thing that she had not missed after becoming a demon, it was this vulnerable feeling that left one feeling so raw and vulnerable.

"I care about you." Xander told her truthfully, trying to sooth her. Not having meant to hurt her with his comment.

Anya looked at him slightly hopeful. "How much?" She prodded. Xander looked at her uncomfortably as he paused in his steps as they were coming up on Giles front door and the last thing he wanted was to be having the awkward conversation in front of Giles and his unwelcome house guest. His mind searching for an answer that wouldn't leave him feeling completely emasculated. "What do I mean to you?" Anya rephrased, impatient and anxious for an answer.

"Well I…" Xander stuttered as he swallowed thickly past the lump in his throat. "We, you know, we spend…" He struggled a blush colouring his cheeks. "We'll talk about it later." He evaded, before quickly turning back towards the door and disappearing inside.

Anya frowned and quickly followed after him, not in the least bit done with the conversation. "Well, I think we should talk about it now." She informed him sternly as she stepped through Giles doorway.

Giles rubbed his eyes, his fingers under the lenses of his glasses. "Thank you for knocking." He muttered sardonically.

His pointed words ignored by both his unexpected guests as Xander turned to face Anya, feeling slightly annoyed know. "If you don't know how I feel about…"

Anya cut him off, her arms crossed protectively under her breasts as she stared at her lover. "I don't. This isn't a relationship you don't need me, all you care about it lots of orgasms." She declared, her voice strained from her effort to keep herself from crying.

Spike who's attention had been caught completely by the last word sat up on the couch looking at Xander and Anya a biscuit in his between his lips, whilst Giles took off his glasses busying himself with cleaning them as he attempted to wipe what he had heard from his memory as he avoided looking in the young couples direction. Xander's face flushed scarlet, before he turned to face Anya once again. "Ok…" He said slowly as he tried his best to keep calm. "Remember how we talked about private conversations? And how they're less private when they're in front of my friends?" He asked, his face still flushing hotly as he could feel Spike's eyes boring into his back.

"Oh, we're not friends. Go on." Spike said bluntly, more than wanting the entertainment to continue. The ex-Watcher not being all that interesting especially after spending as much time with the man as he'd been forced to.

"Please don't." Giles pleaded, the last thing he wanted was to have his ears ringing with details of Xander's sex life.

Anya frowned at Giles, not appreciating his input into the situation. "This is important."

"But why is it here?" Giles asked, certain that if he had to listen to anymore, which he was sure that he would be forced to if the arguing couple stayed for much longer that he would get more than a small earful of information that would make his ears bleed.

Xander turned his attention back to Giles, glad that for the moment the conversation had turned from his private life. "Mom said that you wanted me to swing by." He stated, surprised as much as he was relieved, sure that he'd heard his mother right.

"Oh, oh yes." Giles muttered, silently cursing himself for not being more clear with Mrs Harris when he'd been on the phone with her, but the argument that had been going on between her and her spouse during their conversation had only made him want to get off the phone as soon as possible; being privy to the obviously private argument between the two. "Well, I meant, uh after sunset." Giles stood up from his desk chair, moving around to be able to lean against his desk. "Um, I need you to take, Spike for a few days." He informed Xander, making it a statement instead of a question knowing that if he made it optional he'd get nowhere. None of those that could take Spike off his hands would take him if they had a choice in the matter. The peroxide vampire not being the most popular person amongst the group.

"What?!" Xander exclaimed.

"What?!" Spike growled, his eyes wide as he looked at the back of Giles head, before turning it to the kid that he was trying to foster him off on.

"What?!" Anya demanded to know with an angry glower as her plans for her evening with Xander started to slip from her grasp.

Spike jumped up from the couch. "I'm not staying with him!" He declared, pointing an accusatory finger at Xander like it was all his fault that this was happening.

Giles crossed his arms determinedly over his chest, determined to not budge on this matter. "I have a friend who's coming to town and I'd like us to be alone." He explained, hoping to guilt Xander into agreeing as he desperately needed Spike to be elsewhere when his friend got here tonight.

"Oh, you mean an orgasm friend." Anya deduced, quiet pleased with herself that she had so easily put it all together.

Giles looked at Anya appalled. "Yes, that's exactly the most appalling thing you could have said." He reprimanded. Anya just gave him a look that clearly said 'what? I was just spoke the truth'.

"Worse than the blood in the wheat-a-bits?" Spike asked unable to keep himself from further tormenting the ex-Watcher. Giles sighed and sank back down into his desk chair, feeling rather defeated at the moment as he listened to the uproar he had created.

"He's not roaming around. If he stays with me he gets tied up again." Xander declared firmly, unwilling to take custody of the vampire any other way.

Anya looked at Xander annoyed at him all over again. "What about us?" She asked him shocked that he'd even think of having Spike over when they were supposed to be spending time together. "Our romantic evening?" She demanded hotly, wanting him to just flat out deny Giles request. Giles had him, he could just well keep him! His love life wasn't near as exciting as her own and her need was far greater than his at the moment. She needed to get to the bottom about how Xander felt about her! Giles needs couldn't possibly top that!

Spike felt what he'd just eaten threaten to make a second appearance as he turned accusing eyes on Giles, who was slumped in his chair seemingly not paying attention to all their arguments. "I am not having these two shag while I'm tied to a chair three feet away!" He growled agitatedly, there was no way that he ever wanted to see that boy naked!

Xander glared angrily at Spike immediately retaliating vehemently. "That's not exactly one of my fantasies either."

Anya placed her hands on her hips as she openly glared at Xander more than just a little hurt now, that he could so easily blow her off for something as so insignificant as Spike! Any of the others could look after him for a few days! Why'd it have to be them? "So you're blowing me our evening. Because you don't care about me."

Xander almost howled in frustration, his day just getting worse the longer he stood in Giles condo. "I don't want him to come over! Talk to the Brit!" He grumbled, shooting a glare at the Brit in question.

"And he better have cable!" Spike talked at Giles who was merrily not paying attention to him as he continued to just sit slumped in his chair waiting for everything to sort itself out. "'Cause I'm not missing Passions!" He declared vehemently.

Giles sighed again as he continued to wait for the noise to die down as all three continued to talk over each other as they tried to argue their point. His annoyance growing as they carried on around him, completely ignoring the fact that this was one of the few times that he needed something of them! Getting to his feet, his hands clenched into white knuckled fists. "Enough!" He growled, that one word silencing the entire room. "I need some time alone with my friend so Spike is staying a few days at Xander's and that is final. End of discussion." Everyone in the room looked at him in shocked silence as he breathed hard, catching his breath as he quickly calmed after his outburst. "Now please kindly leave my home until it's time to pick up, Spike."

For a moment his apartment was deadly quiet as everyone just continued to stare at him shocked. Anya was the first to come back to life, stamping her foot as she glared around the room annoyed by the entire situation. "Xander how could you, you jerk!" She cried, before she spun on her heel and stormed out of the condo.

Xander came alive next as he hurried after Anya. "Anya wait!" He called after her as he hurried out the door.

Spike looked at Giles with a small amount of respect. "Wow, way to let the Ripper loose. You might actually be fun if you let that guy out more often." He complimented, before taking his seat once again.

"Yes, thank you for that." Giles grumbled, before he slowly made his way into his kitchen, flicking on the kettle as he did so; feeling the need for the calming effect of his favourite tea.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Willow sat in a student lounge in a circle with thirteen other women looking around her Wicca group as she listened to Nicole the unofficial leader of the group spoke in a dreamy tone that Willow thought she believed must be what Wiccan's sound like. Her hands intertwined with the two women she was sitting next to in the rough circle they had formed. "We come together, daughters of Gaia, sisters to the moon." She chanted in that dreamy tone that was really beginning to grate on Willow's nerves the more she heard it. Maybe it wouldn't bother her so much if what Nicole was saying wasn't complete and utter garbage! "We walk with the darkness, the wolf at our side through the waterfall of power to the blackest heart of eternity." Nicole opened her eyes a smile curling up her lips as she looked around at the members of her group as she released the hands of her neighbours the chant finished. "I think we should have a bake sale." She suggested excitedly, her voice now completely normal.

Cheryl bit her lower lip reluctantly. "I don't know." She disagreed, her talents not lying in baking. Plus it just seemed so… unoriginal to her.

Nicole cut across whatever Cheryl was about to say not wanting to hear anything negative about her idea. "You guys like a bake sale, right?" She asked, addressing the whole group who began nodding their agreement almost immediately, except for Willow and another blond girl who sat nervously hunched down on the floor in between a couch and a chair, her gaze settling on Willow who was sitting as quietly as she was. "I mean we need money for the dance recital and you know, I do an empowering lemon bundt." She enticed with a winning smile.

"The most important thing is the Gaia newsletter." Cheryl spoke up, abandoning her disagreement with the bake sale after seeing that she was outnumbered. "We need to get the message of blessing out to the sisters." She spoke earning approving nods from the other sisters. "Also, who left their scented candles dripping all over my woman-power shrine?" She asked looking around at her fellow sisters, looking for someone to own up.

"Well, this is good." Willow spoke up a little hesitantly, noticing how Cheryl's eyes had landed on her triumphantly for a moment, before she looked away from her obviously realizing that she wasn't about to own up to putting wax all over her shrine. "This is all fun… a bake sale, some baked goods there…" She babbled slightly as she looked nervously around the group as all eyes were on her. "But there's also other stuff… that we might show interest in… as a Wicca group."

"Like what?" Nicole asked dubiously, wondering what a newbie who didn't even attend all their meetings could possibly have to add.

"Well, there's the wacky notion of spells…" She suggested, trailing off at the looks she got from the others, completely missing the interested look she got from the quietest member of the group.

"Well, you missed last week, we did a healing chant for Chloe's ankle." Cheryl said with a slight shrug. "She said the swelling went right down."

Nicole shook her head derisively. "What is she doing on a mountain bike anyway?"

Cheryl shrugged again. "She was trying to impress Justin." She muttered as if the answer should be obvious.

"I was actually talking more about real spells." Willow interjected, not wanting to let her courage to speak up slip away whilst they were talking about completely unrelated things. "You know: conjuring, transmutation…"

Cheryl laughed along with the rest of the group. "Oh yea, and then we can all get on our broomsticks and ride around on our broomsticks!"

Nicole frowned at Willow. "You know, certain stereotypes are not very empowering…"

Tara swallowed thickly as she worked up the courage to try to speak amongst the group that had so many outspoken people in it. "I think that…" She tried only to be cut off as if her voice didn't exist in the group.

"Ones energy can suck the power right out of the circle, no offense." Cheryl said firmly, her expression saying that she didn't care if she did cause offense or not.

"No, no," Willow said hurriedly. "My energies always very…" She trailed off taken aback by all the doubtful looks she was getting from the group. "You really don't do any spells?" She asked, feeling really rather let down as the girls just looked at each other, all obviously wondering just who she thought she was.

"Well, mmmmmaybe…" The timid blond attempted to speak up once again, this time earning the attention of Cheryl who looked at her impatiently.

"Yeah? Tara?" Cheryl asked, glancing around at the girls that were still giggling and talking amongst each other. "Guys quiet. You have a suggestion?"

Tara glanced around at the group feeling suddenly more uncomfortable than before with all the eyes on her. Not used to having so much attention on her and her courage failed her a she just shook her head with an awkward smile as she looked down before glancing over at Willow once again. Wishing that she had had the same courage to speak up as the pretty red head.

Cheryl immediately turned her attention away from Tara, a smile curling up her lips as she addressed the group once again. "Ok, then let's talk about the theme for the bacchanal."

Willow sighed feeling completely defeated as she continued to sit amongst the group, despite not being interested in being there anymore. Completely unaware of the curious gaze that was focused on her.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

"So, not stellar, huh?" Buffy questioned as she walked down the hall with Willow as they headed back towards their dorm room.

"Talk all talk." Willow muttered miserably. "Blah blah Gaia, blah blah moon, menstrual life force power…" She mocked them. "I thought after a few sessions we'd get into something real, but…"

"No actual witches in your witch group." Buffy murmured with sympathy.

"No, bunch of wanna blessed bees." Willow sniped disappointedly. "You know nowadays every girl with a henna tattoo and a spice rack thinks she's a sister to the dark ones." She bemoaned, resentful of all the fodder she had to search through in an attempt to find something real… and there seemed to be more fakes than anything else.

Buffy pushed open the door to their dorm room and stepped inside. "Sorry it was a bust. I know you were looking to go further in that department." She sympathized as she walked over to her bed, sitting down on the edge of it.

"I'd just like to float something bigger than a pencil someday." Willow muttered as she sat down on her own bed across from Buffy. "But anyway, what about you? How'd the rest of your day go, anything interesting happen?" She asked.

Buffy shrugged. "Not really, did what I had to at the student centre, then I went to the library for some study." She summarized with a small shrug. "But now that I'm thinking about it, there was something that I wanted to talk to you about."

Willow looked at Buffy excitedly jumping up off her bed and came to sit beside Buffy. "Ooh, what happened? I need my vicarious thrills."

"Well, don't get too excited. It's not all that thrilling." Buffy warned her, causing Willow to pout. "It just so happened, that as a red headed best friend that I know and love ran off to go do a thing… it occurred to me that she was trying to play matchmaker." Buffy murmured with an accusingly pointed look at her red headed friend that was suddenly looking sheepish and uncomfortable on the bed.

"Ok, maybe I was!" Willow admitted. "But I was only doing for you." She assured Buffy.

Buffy gave Willow a look. "Will, I have a boyfriend. Tall, dark, has a slight fang problem." She said sarcastically.

"More than a slight fang problem." Willow muttered, unable to help herself. "I just want you to be happy and have a shot at a relationship that might actually work." She pleaded for Buffy's understand, realizing almost instantly that she had chosen the wrong words as Buffy's face froze.

Buffy blinked after a moment as she took a deep breath, Willow's words sinking into her brain. "I see…" She murmured slowly. "Well, as much as I appreciate your concern over my happiness… I am happy, Willow. I haven't been this happy in a long time!" Buffy stood up off the bed and took a few steps away as Willow looked up at her helplessly from where she sat on the bed. "And I would appreciate it if you stopped trying to set me up with Riley. There is no way in hell that I'd ever be interested in starting a relationship with a guy that I'd have to lie to every step of the way. Plus… he seems kinda like a snooze-fest fun wise." Buffy tacked on in her anger. She paused taking a breath in an attempt to calm herself down. "I'm gonna go visit my 'boyfriend'" She emphasised the word pointedly. "For a while. I'll be back later." She informed Willow dismissively, before she turned and stormed out of the door she had just walked through mere moments ago.

Willow sighed as she looked at the closed door that her friend had just walked through. "That did not come out right." She muttered, guilt beginning to eat at her insides as she sat alone in the now completely silent room. Getting up off Buffy's bed, she looked around aimlessly for a moment, before walking over to her desk, hoping that studying would keep her mind off the guilt that was wriggling around in her stomach.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Buffy walked out of the campus building as the sunset lit up the sky with bright gold's pink's and purples. She sighed as she began walking in the direction of the Crawford street mansion. She hadn't wanted to go off to Angelus' like this… she hadn't wanted to ask what she wanted to ask him when she was feeling upset. She'd wanted to be happy or at least only mildly nervous. It was the question that had had her up all night the night before. She hadn't been able to help running over different scenarios of how she would bring up the question… it was such a simple question and yet… it meant so much to her… at least his reaction to the question did. Buffy gave her head a shake, she was just being stupid! Why would Angelus react badly to her question? It wasn't like she intended to ask for much… she just… she just wanted a drawer… that was reasonable, right? It'd save her a fair bit of time if she could get dressed for Uni there if she ended up staying the night, instead of having to rush back to get into fresh clothes before she could head off to class.

Buffy took a deep breath, her hands trembling at her sides; trembling from her anger that was swiftly soothing down to annoyance at Willow for assuming that she could decide who was best for her to be with… the tremble couldn't have anything to do with her question… "Come on, Buffy. It's just a question. The worst that can happen is that he'll say no." She whispered to herself as she crossed the road. Her mind jumped back to Willow and she sighed again… the red heads words running back through her mind unbidden. She supposed that perhaps she shouldn't have gotten so angry… the words had hurt and made her feel betrayed by her best friend, but she could understand where Willow's feelings came from… but she had thought that Willow understood. That she more than her other friends understood how she felt about Angelus… how happy she was… how elated that made her feel… how nervous and scared… but it all felt good… it felt good to feel something that wasn't pain in her heart.

But Angelus had spent more time hurting all of them, not just her than he had been looking out for her… wanting her… wanting to be hers. Despite her understanding it still hurt, after thinking that she had at least support from Willow… it turned out that she didn't as Willow was busy trying to set her up with Riley… and ok he was cute… and sometimes funny… but nothing about him set her on fire with excitement… there was nothing about him that made her feel like Angelus did. Riley was rarely on her mind… in fact the only time she really ever thought about him… was when she saw him…

Buffy gave herself another mental shake, Riley was the least of her problems and so was Willow's misguided matchmaking attempts… what was at this moment more important was figuring out how to word her question to Angelus in such a way that she didn't feel vulnerable… or stupid. Buffy sighed once again, as she began once again running through different ways she could approach the subject, but everything she thought of still had her heart beating a little uncomfortably in her chest. Buffy wiped her hands against her pants, trying to get rid of the sweat that was building up there. She was nervous, a nervousness that grew with each and every step she took towards Angelus' mansion. Buffy hesitated in her steps coming to a stop along the paved path as a sudden thought hit her; what if he wasn't home?

She lingered there for a moment, looking back the way she had come. Considering whether or not she should go back to her apartment, looking back the way she had come where Willow would no doubt be. Shaking her head at herself Buffy began walking again, continuing on her way. 'Stop being such a scaredy cat.' She mentally scolded herself. She'd never been one to back down from anything, let alone from something as simple as a question! And she wasn't about to start now. All she had to do was go to the mansion and if he wasn't there… well she could wait for him or try again another time. 'Maybe I should think about investing in a phone, or maybe a beeper?' She thought idly, the idea appealing to her as she pondered over the benefits it would have.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Riley followed Forrest down a ladder down onto a platform that overlooked a very tall demon in a blue robe with very long horns ascending out of its head along with a member of The Initiative who was carrying one of their specially designed weapons for protection as the lab-techs moved about the platform going about their jobs. The both of them ignored what was going on down on the platform as they continued on their way. "Well, then give up on the girl." Forrest suggested, feeling exasperated with the conversation. It seemed to him that all Riley ever talked about was Buffy. He liked talking about woman as much as the next red blooded man, but all Riley was doing was whining and moaning over the girl… a girl who didn't even seem interested in him.

"Yeah, ok. I know that's probably the logical thing to do," Riley agreed reluctantly.

"Exactly." Forrest exclaimed, hoping the conversation would end soon, wanting to talk about something… anything other than Buffy.

"But," Riley said, causing Forrest to roll his eyes a groan of frustrated annoyance building up in his throat. "I just can't stop thinking about her. She's on my mind all the time. Buffy's just so exciting… like no woman I've ever met before."

Forrest groaned stopping in his tracks. "Oh, 'you can't stop thinking about her and she's exciting' wow. The first 486 times you told me, it didn't sink in, but now I 'see' you think she's all that and more." He said mockingly.

Riley looked at his friend apologetically. "Sorry, I guess I've been talking about her a lot, huh." He apologised sheepishly.

"Oh, not at all." Forrest said sarcastically. "Only all shift so far."

"Sorry man. I don't mean to." Riley apologised again. Forrest nodded satisfied that he had successfully brought the conversation to a close and he went to continue on, the both of them needing to get where they were going. "It's just," Riley began again unable to help himself as he moved a step after Forrest only to have to stop again as Forrest came to a sudden stop his head titling back in obvious annoyance as he rolled his eyes at the ceiling. "I want her to notice me, like I notice her."

Forrest bit his lower lip silently praying for the patience to get through this shift, before he turned around to face his friend. "Then, make your next overture less subtle. Be glaringly obvious… Take the girl and kiss her until she can't stand on her own."

"But, she has a boyfriend." Riley said almost sulkily.

Forrest almost stomped his foot childishly as his frustration grew. "Do you want the girl or not?!" He asked frustrated.

"Well…" Riley said uncomfortably. "Yeah."

"Right. Well, if you want to pry her away from her tall, dark boyfriend. Go all out, pull out all the stops. If you're not willing to do that, then you'd better just put her in your spank bank and move on because you'll never pry her away from the tall, dark and handsome I've seen her wandering around the campus with, being all cuddly." Having said that Forrest considered the matter closed and began walking once again. "God, this is going to be a long night." He muttered with a small shake of his head as he began to descend down another ladder.

Riley hesitated a moment as his mind whirled with the information he'd been given, before he forced himself to follow after Forrest again, knowing that Walsh would tear them a new one if they were late.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Buffy pushed aside the thick curtain that covered the side entrance of the Crawford Street mansion. She walked into the large familiar room not taking all that much notice of it as she smiled slightly as she could feel Angelus close by. Quickly moving through the room she made her way over to the entrance of the atrium, she leaned against the door her small smile getting bigger as she watched Angelus as he looked up at the darkening sky as the setting sun slowly got lower in the sky, the bright pinks, purples and gold's occupying less of the sky. Angelus turned away from the sky a smile curling up his own lips as his gaze landed on Buffy. "Hey." She greeted as she straightened up from the doorframe, before she walked out into the growing night to stand in front of him.

"Hey, what's going on?" Angelus asked curiously, not having expected to see her tonight.

Buffy swallowed as she looked up at him, all the words she had been practising, that had sounded so fluid and natural in her head, sticking in her throat. "Well, I actually…" Buffy floundered as she tried to come up with the words. "I wanted to see you, before I went to bed." She murmured softly, changing her mind about asking him about perhaps giving her a drawer.

Angelus raised an eyebrow at her. "It's barely 8:30 on a Friday night."

"Uh, right. Well, I meant before I went on patrol." Buffy corrected herself. "And now that I've seen you I should probably get going." She attempted to excuse herself, leaning up on her tiptoes she pressed what was supposed to be a swift affectionate kiss to Angelus' lips, only for his hands to settle on her sides holding her in place as he deepened the kiss for a long moment before pulling back to look at her.

"You're lying." He stated as he searched her expressive face, the way her heart beat in her chest all indicators of her lie.

Buffy winced mentally cursing his keen senses as she pulled away from him, forcing him to release her. "I should get going."

Angelus took a step towards her, closing the distance that she had put between them. "So, you came all the way here just to see me for two whole seconds?"

"Yep." Buffy agreed unconvincingly as she turned to go, beginning to wish that she hadn't come, especially now that she was beginning to feel completely and utterly stupid.

Angelus shook his head still not believing her. "I'll keep you company." He murmured as he walked after her.

Buffy paused looking back at him over her shoulder. "You are?" she asked.

Angelus nodded, pressing another kiss to her lips as he moved past her. "Yeah, I have the sudden urge to see you in action." He murmured with a teasing smile.

Buffy watched him walk away from her for a moment, wishing that she hadn't backed out of asking her question, disappointment filling her and her shoulders slumped. "Fortune favours the brave." She muttered quietly, before she walked after him. Wondering if she was about to spend her patrol being badgered by Angelus as he tried to get her to tell him the truth behind her visit.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Spike stared at Xander's back as the boy stood by his bed in nothing more than a t-shirt and boxers as he pulled back the bedding on his foldout bed, knowing that his gaze was getting to the boy, despite the fact that he had tied him snuggly to this damnably un-comfy comfy chair . "Don't see why I have to be tied up." He muttered after a moment as Xander began climbing into his bed.

Xander looked over at his unwelcome house guest, a guest who was the reason he was sleeping in his bed alone Anya having felt that she would be to uncomfortable sleeping with the hostile vampire in the same room, tied up or not. "It's just while I'm sleeping." Xander told him as he began settling himself down on the bed.

Spike rolled his eyes. "Like I'd bite you anyway." He muttered annoyed at being tied up in the dank, musky smelling basement, that also had the distinct smell of laundry detergent and other various cleaners mingled in making it fairly uncomfortable for his sensitive nose.

"Oh you would." Xander said with complete certainty as he pulled the sheets up snuggly about him.

Spike snorted looking away from the boy momentarily to flick his gaze about the basement once again. "Not bloody likely." He grumbled, a bad taste rising at his mouth at the very thought.

Xander raised a hand up off the bed moving it through the air for emphasis as he spoke. "I happen to be very biteable pal. I'm moist and delicious."

Spike rolled his eyes. "Alright, yeah fine you're a nummy treat." He muttered sarcastically.

"And don't you forget it." Xander ordered, not picking up on the sarcasm in Spike's voice as he reached over and turned off his bed side lamp plunging his basement bedroom into darkness.

There was silence for a moment as Xander closed his eyes intending to go to sleep and hope that tomorrow was a better day. "Xander," Spike broke the silence, his voice high pitched to sound like a woman's. "Don't you care about me?" Mimicking Anya an amused smiling curling up his lips as he felt his boredom begin to slip away.

"Shut up!" Xander demanded, a frown creasing his brow as he kept his eyes closed, hoping that he would have to speak to the peroxide blond vampire again until after he'd had a good night's sleep.

"We never talk." Spike continued to mock.

Xander's eyes snapped open as he held up a warning finger in Spike's general direction. "Shut up!" He grumbled, his voice getting angry.

"Xaaaannnder." Spike called into the darkness enjoying himself at the boys expense.

"Shut up!" Xander growled sharply, already feeling that tonight was going to be a bad one… a very, very bad one. He was beginning to really regret swapping his night of romance with Anya for this… 'How'd Giles ever put up with having him around for so long?' Xander thought grumpily as Spike's voice once again sounded throughout the basement, making it impossible for him to relax enough to be able to get any shuteye.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Angelus walked beside Buffy as they headed back towards the university campus after only a short uneventful patrol. "Sorry you didn't get to see any action tonight." Buffy apologised.

"I'm sure I'll survive." Angelus smirked at her. "Maybe your reputation is starting to scare them all away."

Buffy pretended to think about it for a moment, before she shook her head. "Nah, the demon populous in general will never get that smart. Besides, they get all gaga for the hellmouth…" Buffy trailed off a slightly concerned frown creasing her brow. There wasn't much that would get demons off the hellmouth, but whenever they did feel the need to leave… it was never over anything good…

"There probably just taking a break from it all. Even demons like holidays, you know." Angelus murmured teasingly.

"Oh, I wish!" Buffy exclaimed. "If demons liked holiday's so much I'd get more than one night off a year. Which for the last couple of years I haven't gotten off either."

"Yeah, well there are idiots in every crowd." Angelus excused with a small wave of his hand, before he moved a little faster, getting in front of Buffy so that he could grasp the handle of the door; opening it for her.

Buffy walked through the door. "Yeah, well. If the idiots would take the night off once a year like the rest of you, that'd be peachy."

"Well, maybe if you keep dreaming, that might just come true." Angelus murmured as he followed Buffy up the first flight of stairs that was just the start of their journey up to the floor Buffy's dorm room was.

"That unlikely, huh." Buffy muttered disappointedly.

They walked in silence for a short while as they steadily climbed the stairs. "So, are you going to tell me why you came over tonight?" Angelus asked as they made it to Buffy's level in Stevenson Hall.

"Can't a girl just want to see her boyfriend?" Buffy asked exasperatedly, she knew that there was very little point in continuing to pretend that she hadn't been lying, but if she admitted it… then he'd want details… and after her first attempt at asking him tonight… she didn't feel up to making a second one just yet. "I mean… I like seeing you just before bed." She admitted, remembering as she did so the first time she had said something very similar to that… on the morning of her seventeenth birthday and the way Angel had looked uncomfortable, surprised and pleased all at once.

"Of course." Angelus stated immediately. "I just wish that you would entrust me with whatever it was that brought you to me tonight."

"That is why." Buffy lied stubbornly as they came up to her door. Coming to a stop in front of it she looked up at Angelus who was gazing at her searchingly.

"Fine." Angelus said after a moment, a very faint hurt twinge in his voice that Buffy only picked up because she knew his voice so well. "Have a good night." He muttered, before turning on his heel and beginning to stalk away.

Buffy barely hesitated a second before she reached out and grabbed him by the sleeve of his favoured leather jacket. "Wait." She pleaded softly, drawing Angelus up mid step as he turned back towards her. "Just be careful out there." She cautioned.

Angelus turned around fully so that he was facing her. "Buffy, what's going on?" He asked concerned now. It was very rarely that Buffy felt the need to caution him.

Buffy licked her lips as she looked up and down the hall making sure that it was empty of everyone but them. "I had a dream this afternoon. I-I didn't fully understand it… but I don't think it's going to be anything good. I mean anything that has something to do with taking seven and screaming can't lead to anything good."

Angelus frowned. "Take seven. Take seven what?"

Buffy shook her head. "I don't know. But what I heard… what I saw. Wasn't pretty. I mean I've seen ugly demons but what I saw went beyond that. And the snappy suit just added a whole other creepy factor."

Angelus took Buffy by the shoulders. "Buffy slow down, not every dream is prophetic. This could just be a normal dream."

Buffy shook her head. "It didn't feel normal, Angelus. It felt foreboding like something was coming."

"Really? So you didn't dream of anything else?" Angelus asked, realizing in the back of his mind that he was having almost the same conversation with Buffy as the soul had had just before they'd accidentally released him.

"Well, there might have been something else, but it kinda all melded together." Buffy mumbled, not really wanting to tell him that she had dreamed of him and Riley throwing down over her. It might just give him ideas, after all… he didn't like Riley to begin with.

Angelus gave his head a small shake as he released one of her shoulders so that he could touch her cheek. "Even if it is a prophetic dream. Buffy, it's not the end of the world." He assured her.

Buffy bit her lower lip as she looked up at Angelus uncertainly and she stepped back from him. "It ended mine last time." She admitted softly, her voice almost a whisper.

Angelus winced as he took a step closer to her, grasping her shoulders again this time pulling her up against him, his arms folding around her in a hug as he held her against him; relief filling him as he felt her smaller arms slip around his back in return, her face pressing in against his chest. "Don't worry, Buffy." Angelus murmured soothingly, his hands stroking soothing aimless patterns up and down her back. "If you can survive me at my worst, these demons you say are coming will be a snap." He assured her. "And this time, you'll have me on your side." He promised and he felt Buffy's arms tighten about him in response. "Those demons won't know what hit them." He murmured softly, hoping that he was making her feel better. He still wasn't all that comfortable with the process, but he believed that he was beginning to get the hang of comforting his young mate-to-be.

Angelus slid an arm from around her back, using it so that he could gently tilt Buffy's head back so that he could see her face. Leaning in towards her he pressed his lips to hers, moving them against hers in a slow affectionate movement a smirk of satisfaction attempting to curl them up as he felt Buffy's small hands fist in his leather duster. "Are you sure that you don't want to go back to my place?" He asked hopefully.

Buffy bit her lower lip, awfully tempted to do just that. To spend the night with him and wake up in his arms, to have him so close all night and be able to see him in the morning… she really enjoyed waking up beside him. It was something she had always wanted to feel with Angel, but had never quiet gotten there. Things always got in the way. "Uh, no. I better not. I promised Willow that I'd be back tonight. And I wouldn't want to worry her." She murmured regretfully as she glanced towards her door where she was pretty sure Willow was inside waiting for her; suddenly wishing that she hadn't made that promise. "But, I could stay tomorrow night." She offered hopefully.

"It's a date." Angelus agreed.

"Great!" Buffy murmured as she reluctantly stepped out of Angelus' embrace.

"Have a good night, Buff." Angelus murmured.

"Oh, I'm sure that I will. I plan to sleep the rest of it away. Hopefully catch up on all the Zzz's I missed last night. And hopefully my dreams will be a bit more pleasant than they were this arvo." She muttered.

Angelus smirked teasingly. "Just dream of me. That'll solve that problem." He said cockily, getting a small laugh out of Buffy. "I'll see you tomorrow Buff." He murmured in way of goodbye, before he turned and began walking off down the hall, aware of Buffy's gaze on his back as he went. His mind slowly drifted from her and her worry over her dream as he became aware of a craving for blood burning in the back of his throat, causing his plans to change from headed straight back to the mansion to making a quick pit stop at The Bronze, beforehand.

Buffy watched Angelus go until he had turned the corner out of sight, her gaze regretful as she wished that she was going with him… if she had, she might have gotten the courage to try asking that question again in the morning. Turning towards her door, Buffy let herself in not all that surprised to see the light still on, but was surprised to see Willow asleep at her desk, her head using one of her text books as a pillow. Closing the door behind her softly, Buffy slipped out of her jacket, throwing it over her desk chair before making her way over to Willow. Doing her best to gently lift Willow out of her chair and carry her over to the bed without waking her. She was glad that Willow had changed in to her pyjamas before falling asleep at her desk as she doubted very much that she could get her red headed friend into them without waking her up.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Giles sat at his desk, a frown of concentration on his face as he looked down at the words that he had written down on the note pad, the ink making up the words thick now from all the times he had traced over them. "They need to take seven… take seven what?" He mused, his mind still frustratingly pulling up blanks in recalling where he had read something like it before. His musing was interrupted by a sudden knock at the door. The sound made him look up from the pad and get up quickly from his desk to walk over to the door. A smile lighting up his face after he had pulled open the door to reveal the woman he had been expecting to arrive hours ago. "Olivia." He greeted as he stepped aside to allow her to enter his condo.

Olivia smiled as she stepped inside, glad that her journey was over for now. "Sorry I'm so late." She apologized. "The flight was a horror."

"Oh dear, bad weather?" Giles enquired sympathetically, knowing just how horrid flights could be with enough turbulence.

"Baseball movie." She answered simply, knowing that Giles would understand her pain at being forced to watch a movie about baseball.

Giles smiled amusedly. "Oh, I'm sorry." He murmured.

"Yes." Olivia murmured, her gaze darkening as she stared up at him, her hands releasing the bags that she had brought in with her. "That's enough small talk, don't you think?" She murmured, before she leaned up onto her toes her arms coming up to wrap around Giles holding him close as she pressed her lips to his; in a kiss that grew more heated in moments. Giles removed his glasses and blindly setting them down on the desk he had just been working at. Completely forgetting about his research in the face of Olivia's arrival.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Inside the very top of an old clock tower a small ornate box that was just big enough to be held easily in any of the seven demons that stood around the table with impeccable posture, in the palm of their long fingered hands. One of the demons stepped forward, seemingly gliding towards the table. He reached out, his long fingers grabbing the lid of the box and slowly pulled it open just as the clock tower began pealing out the fact that it had just struck one o'clock.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Immediately after the lid of the box had been opened, a house that was closest to the clock tower where the occupants were sleeping peacefully. Inside his bedroom a little boy lay in his bed, his mouth opened with a will of its own and a white mist streamed out of his mouth, when the last left, the boy's mouth closed again as he continued sleeping completely unaware that anything had happened as the white mist that had left his shot out the window, followed by two others. The three mists that were the voices of the small family that lived in the house floated through the air heading towards the box that was calling to them; joining the many other streams of mist that belonged to the occupants of the surrounding houses.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

In a bedroom across the town an elderly couple slept in their bed, their mouths opening in unison as the mist that was their voices spilled from between their lips and floated out their bedroom window to join the many others in their journey to the ornate box.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Giles and Olivia lay asleep in his bed; Olivia curled up against his chest, as their mouths opened and the misty substance slipped from their mouths, before their mouths closed again as if it never happened.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

In Buffy and Willow's dorm room both lying asleep in their separate beds. The spell the box cast when opened causing their mouths to open just like the rest of the towns peoples. The mist rising up from between their parted lips, before it disappeared. Joining the rest of the mists that was coming from the other dorm occupants. The separate small clouds of mist moving swiftly through the town, heading for the top of the clock tower and the open box.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Once the last small cloud of mist made it into the box, the hand that had opened the box closed it. The demon turned to face his six other companions, their grey white faces with their horrid perpetual smiles that displayed their pointy looking teeth. Their grey white skin was drawn tightly across their face making their white eyes look wider than they were. The other demons clapped in congratulations, the demon who closed the box bowed stiffly, his hands fluttering gentlemanly through the air as if bashful about the applause he was receiving from his peers.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Buffy stretched languidly in her bed as she slowly drifted towards consciousness. She lay there for a few moments longer enjoying just lying there, knowing that she didn't have to be anywhere this morning. No classes where demanding her attention this morning. After a few more moments though she sat up and threw the covers off herself. Natures call forcing her to abandon the comfort of her bed before she was completely ready to. Getting to her feet, Buffy slipped her feet into her slippers and grabbed up her toiletry bag, before she slipped from her dorm room and out into the hall. The hall was empty apart from herself as she moved quietly down the hall until she reached the bathroom door.

Quickly using the facilities, Buffy stood in front of one of the sinks gazing at herself in the mirror for a moment taking in her bed rumpled hair, before she pulled her toothbrush and toothpaste from her small toiletry bag and set about brushing her teeth. The sounds of people moving about in the hall reached her ears as she moved the small brush over teeth, loving the way it made her mouth feel nice and fresh before she had even finished cleaning her pearly whites. Finishing up Buffy packed up her things and made it back out into the hall. Her eyes flicked around the hall looking at the people that were standing out in the hall. Her eyes focusing on a girl who was leaning into a man's chest crying. She looked away a moment later, something not quiet seeming right about the scene, but she couldn't quiet put her finger on it.

Walking back into her dorm room, she smiled at Willow who was just getting up, her mouth immediately opening to greet her friend. "Good morning." She tried to say, only to end up mouthing the words as no sound came out. Buffy stopped dead in her tracks her hand coming up to her throat feeling it for anything unusual.

"Hey," Willow tried, wanting to apologise for the night before only for no sound to come out of her mouth either. She looked at Buffy wide eyed, fear clutching at her as she tried to understand why she couldn't hear herself speak.

Buffy pressed the hand she had touching her throat firmly against her throat as she tried to speak again. "Good morn…" She trailed off as no sound once again came out of her mouth. She gave Willow a concerned look as she tried yet again. "Good," When she once again couldn't hear anything coming out of her mouth, she trailed off once again. "Will, can you hear me?" She asked still not hearing her voice, but hoping that Willow could.

Willow shook her head adamantly. "No, I've gone deaf!" She tried to say, her expression showing just how distressed she was.

Buffy shook her head slowly, her mind ticking it over, remembering what she had seen out in the hallway. The girl who was sobbing without sound. "No, I don't think so." She mouthed. "We can't speak." She said, trying to mouth it as clearly as possible so that Willow could understand her.

Willow looked at Buffy shook before she opened her mouth and tried to scream long and loudly… hoping that perhaps if she got her voice loud enough it would work. That there was only something stuck in her throat preventing her voice from getting out, something that just needed to be dislodged. But still no sound came out and all she succeeding in doing was hurting her throat.

Willow massaged her throat as she watched Buffy walk back towards the door she had just come through. Buffy peered out into the hall to see most of the people that lived on this level standing out in it. All of them trying to talk or shout, but despite all the moving mouths and exaggerated frustrated arm waving not a single voice could be heard in the hall, making it a strange thing to witness. Buffy's gaze was concerned as she watched her fellow co-eds continue trying to make sound come out of their mouths.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Xander jumped up from his bed, his mouth working as he tried to get sound to come out. His snarky morning remark having been soundless. "What's going on?" He mouthed, his hands going to his throat. "Why can't I talk?" He tried to ask only for no sound to once again come out of his mouth. Spike who was still tied down to the chair was moving his own mouth trying to make his voice come out of his throat with the same lack of success that Xander was having, his attention was turned from his efforts a moment later though as Xander whirled around to face him; pointing an accusing finger at him. "You!" Xander mouthed soundlessly, his expression angry. "You-you did this to me!" He tried to shout, only for his arm to wave in the air dramatically as he continued to point a finger at the bound vampire.

Spike gave Xander an 'Are you stupid' look. "Me?" He mouthed, before raising his arms as best he could with the ropes binding his arms to the arms of the comfy chair. "How?" He mouthed.

Xander pointed his finger at himself. "I can't talk!" He mouthed accusingly. Spike gave him another look and Xander realized just how ridiculous he was being blaming Spike when he'd been tied down to the chair all night. Spinning away from Spike Xander scrambled over his foldout bed reaching for the phone. The moment Xander's back was turned Spike raised his hand so that the back of it was shown to Xander two of his fingers raised in the air, before he lowered his hand and looked away, completely disinterested in what Xander was doing, and too annoyed at his current situation to want to even enjoy watching the idiot scramble around like the fool he was.

Picking up his phone Xander quickly dialled Buffy's number holding the phone to his ear as he listened to the phone ringing in his ear.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Buffy looked from where she sat on Willow's bed, her arm draped around Willow's shoulder comfortingly as the phone rang. Immediately out of instinct Buffy got up and answered pressing the receiver to her ear as she tried to say 'hello' into the phone. She glanced hopeless over at Willow shrugged a little not sure what they could do about it. Buffy tried again to speak into the phone, only for once again no sound to come out and none coming through the phone.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Xander tried to speak into the phone for the third time before realizing that he couldn't speak, defeating the whole purpose of the phone as Buffy or Willow whoever had picked up couldn't hear him… and obviously couldn't speak either as there was complete silence on the other end as well. Xander began lowering the phone back towards it cradle as he looked around suddenly feeling self-conscious and stupid as he realized that it should have been obvious to him that the phone wouldn't work without a voice. Spike looked over at him, completely bored with the situation. "Untie me!" He mouthed, quickly becoming irritated as for the moment Xander completely ignored him.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Riley jerked awake at the sound of his bedroom door slamming open. Sitting up immediately a serious look on his face knowing that Forrest wouldn't just barge into his room for no good reason. "What's the problem?" He tried to ask only to end up mouthing the words. Riley cleared his throat and tried again. Forrest reached down and shook Riley before he could be completely consumed by his panic. Silently he pointed to his own throat indicating that he had the same problem, before pointing out Riley's open bedroom door.

Riley looked out of it immediately seeing that the others of the Lowell house where suffering from the same problem as they stood around holding their throats, trying to speak and failing. Immediately taking stock of the situation Riley reached for his pants.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Angelus rolled from his side to his back on his lavishly big and comfortable mattress as he came awake far earlier than he had expected to. His senses tingling with the not so pleasant sensation of a vampiric intruder creeping up on him. The intruder's shoes squeaking slightly with their every step. Angelus kept his face blank as he lay there, pretending to still be peacefully sleeping. He waited patiently as the vampire invading his room slowly got closer. Fear was coming off him in strong waves, but he continued on getting closer. Still Angelus waited, waited until he could sense the bastard standing over him. There was a small shift in the air above him and that's when Angelus made his move.

Opening his eyes, his arm snapped up in reaction to the arm that was plunging down towards him stake in hand. His hand grabbed the wrist halting the stake mid strike. Having halted the stakes progress towards his heart, Angelus looked beyond it to the snivelling coward wielding the coward, to see one of the minions he had driven off after taking control of the Gem of Amara standing over him a sneer of effort curling up the ungrateful shits lips. "I should have killed you." Angelus tried to growl, only for his lips to move and no sound to come out. His free hand came up to touch his throat in surprise as he tried to speak again only to once again be forced to mime the words he wished to speak. When he felt his hand slip in his distraction and the stake come dangerously close to his heart.

Angelus forced the arm away from his chest, his hand probably holding the vampire's wrist tighter than necessary as with his free hand he punched the vampire in the face without letting go of the vampire's wrist. His grip forcing him to roll out of the bed as the vampire fell back from the power behind the blow Angelus had delivered. Angelus landed on top of the intruding vampire, his former minion. Who'd come to kill him for the Gem that he wore constantly on his finger. "Give me the Gem of Amara." The minion mouthed angrily as he struggled under Angelus' strength, knowing full well that the longer it took to get the ring off him the more likely it was the he would die. Angelus not being known for his mercy especially to those that try to kill him, or cross him in anyway.

Angelus ripped the stake away from the minions grip, their struggles mostly silent as their grunts rent the air silently. Angelus jumped off his old minion, not feeling like letting him off all that easy. Bending down completely unconcerned with his nudity, he grasped the minions shirt by its lapels and pulled him up off the ground, his expression angry as he stared at the minion who had the gaol to look defiant instead of terrified for his life. "Did someone send you? Or did you think this up all by yourself?" Angelus tried to ask, rolling his eyes in annoyance as his question came out just silent breathes. The minion didn't bother trying to answer the question that he had read on his former master's lips, feeling no obligation to answer. Let the bastard sweat that someone else might come after him. It'd serve the arrogant cocky bastard right!

There was more Angelus wanted to ask, but without a voice it wasn't worth it. With a quick movement Angelus thrust the stake into his former minions heart, before the low level vampire could even register that it was about to happen. His gaze finally turned desperate, a welcome change from the defiant look of before. His hand reached out clumsily for the ring that was one the hand that was holding the lapels of his shirt. His fingers barely grazed the gem that he coveted, before he turned to dust on the stake that had been meant for Angelus' heart. Angelus let out a silent sigh as he wiped his fingers clean of the dust that had dirtied his hands the moment the stake through his ungrateful heart had done its job.

The threat out of the way, Angelus placed a hand to his throat as he attempted to clear it, only for his efforts to go unsuccessful. He could almost think that he had a cold, but his throat felt normal not to mention the fact that he hadn't been able to catch a cold since he'd been turned. Scenting fear and sadness coming from outside, Angelus quickly pulled on a pair of leather pants before moving towards his window, pulling aside the curtain that had prevented the sun from bathing his room in light. Preventing the warm glow from waking him before he was ready. Not that it had done him much good this morning, seeing as one of his ex-minions had decided to stow away in his mansion sometime during the night and bide his time until the time he decided to strike. Angelus scowled, the little punk. He should have just been grateful that he'd let him live. He'd known that he'd missed at least one of the minions that he had kept around the place, before the Gem, but he hadn't bothered trying to track him down. It hadn't seemed worth his time, to track down a minion, he was only one after all and he'd been a coward at that.

Angelus walked out onto his balcony overlooking a fair amount of Sunnydale. He doubted very much that the old minion was working for someone. The idiot was always a coward, but he'd also been a bit power hungry. Angelus had just assumed that he'd be too much of a coward to attempt to take him on, but then again he'd tried to not take him on by attacking him in his sleep. Angelus moved towards the balcony rail and looked out over the town. His eyes coming to rest on the humans that were his neighbours as they moved about in a panic. His keen eyes picking up the fact that they were moving their mouths in an attempt to speak, but like him no sound was coming out. Angelus frowned out over the scene finding it strange that this had happened. 'What could take the voices from a town whilst they were sleeping?' He thought as he swept his gaze over what he could see of the town, before he turned and quickly made his way back inside his room, heading straight for his wardrobe.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Riley quickly followed Forrest down the stairs to the disguised elevator in their Frat house. They both stood in front of the mirror as was protocol as the red scanning laser moved down their bodies. "Retinal scan accepted." The automatic electronic female voice of the elevator monotone, before the elevator door opened. The two stepped inside the elevator calmly, the door closing almost immediately afterwards. The elevator began descending as Forrest using a pad and pen he had thought to grab, began writing. 'It's all over town.' Riley read, just before the elevator came to a sudden stop as per the protocol that it had been programmed with.

"Vocal code not accepted." The elevator monotone-d. Riley and Forrest gave each other concerned looks. "Please state you name for vocal identification." Riley rushed over to the box, leaning in as close as he could, before breathing twice into it, trying to make the breaths loud enough to perhaps get a vocal match off of it. "Vocal code not accepted." The elevator informed them.

"Unauthorized being will be considered hostile." It continued, running through the script that it had been given for this situation. Riley hurriedly moved over to the panel, popping it open as the elevator began speaking once again. "Please commence vocal identification in the next 20 seconds to avoid countermeasures." Riley pulled out his access card, sliding it through the slot. Immediately a red words lit up the small screen above the keypad that had been hidden inside the hidden panel in the elevator. Words that read 'Enter Override Code' with a beep to signal that he could begin. Hurriedly Riley punched in the override code. "Override code incorrect." The female voice of the elevator informed them.

Forrest scribbled on his pad again. Tapping his pen against the paper to get Riley's attention; Riley glanced over at it and read the impatient words. 'Come on. Come on.'

"Lethal countermeasures engaged." The elevator said just as a gas began to leak into the elevator from vents near the bottom of the elevator. Forrest and Riley looked over at the lethal gas, before holding their breath as Riley turned his attention back to the panel, ripping out the wiring to the panel, in the hopes of resetting the panel to re-enter the code.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

The elevator door burst open and Riley and Forrest rushed out coughing and spluttering as they sucked in relieved breathes, both glad to be alive after their close brush in with the lethal gas that was evaporating harmlessly inside the elevator as the vents sucked the gasses back in making it safe once again. Walsh met their gazes with an annoyed expression two scientists standing behind her with clipboards in their hands. Walsh pointed in the direction of a sign, her expression still stern as the two looked towards it. Their gaze landing on a sign that read, 'In case of emergency use stairway.'

Riley's and Forrest' expressions turn sheepish as they looked back at Walsh who raised an eyebrow at the two of them, before she continued on her way immediately followed by the two scientists. Riley and Forrest gave each other a look, before following after her as well. Both of them un-cowed by Walsh's disapproval, both still glad that they were alive after their brush up with the lethal countermeasures of the elevator.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Tara walked slowly down the steps, having only just decided to brave leaving her dorm room. Her mind having been filled with thoughts of Willow and debating whether she should approach the red head. She made it to the entrance hall of her dorm, her gaze going around all the people that were lingering around the hall, the complete silence feeling strange for the normally bustling happy atmosphere. The entire feel of the hall was one of depression as people cried and tried to speak in frustration as they failed. Her gaze lingered over a small group of people that were having a very subdued conversation via notepad.

She began to walk through the hall when a guy who had been carrying a glass of water accidentally let it slip from his fingers. The glass hitting the ground with a loud crash that sounded ten times louder than it normally would in the silent hall. Tara jumped back slightly in surprise at the noise. The guy looked around embarrassedly at all the gazes that were on him, before he slowly bent down to clean up the mess he had made. His cheeks flushing hotly as everyone slowly turned their gazes away from him.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Buffy sighed silently as she trudged down the street beside Willow, her arms wrapped around her waist as she looked about the town that she had never seen so sombre before. No matter what she had faced in the past, the town seemed to go on as normal completely unaware of what was going on around them. Content to be clueless, but this time whatever was happening was effecting them… making them pause in their day to day lives. Well most people had, the bank they had passed a small ways back had been closed; rubbish littering its steps. But out of the whole town one shop had remained open, the liquor store. Who's business didn't seem affected by the sudden silence of the town and the oppressive atmosphere that had settled over the town. As people came and went from the store, every single one of them looking to drown their sorrows.

Buffy frown as she saw two kids exiting the shop, a brown paper bag in one of their hands. A bag that contained some form of alcohol she was sure. She faltered in her steps as she considered going over and relieving them of the alcohol that they had purchased illegally as well as going into the store and having a firm 'word' with the shopkeeper. But she decided against it as Willow who had noticed her distraction had stopped in her tracks and was looking at her expectantly. Buffy caught Willow up, looking over her shoulder at the kids, before forcing herself to shrug it off. She had more important things to be doing that chasing down kids who sought to use the pandemonium to their advantage.

A siren sounded in the distance, the vehicle wielding the siren coming close to the street they were walking down, but didn't turn into it. Buffy's gaze landed on a man who was sitting in the middle of the road, his head buried in his briefcase as if his entire world had ended the moment he had lost his voice and was just waiting for a car to come whizzing along the road to finish him off. Buffy bit her lower lip as she stared at the man as she continued to trudge along beside Willow, the whole feel of the town pressing down in on her. Willow and Buffy both paused in the middle of the street as they came across a small prayer meeting happening off to the side of the road. A black board behind the congregations leader doing the job of telling the small crowd of people what they were to do. All of them had their heads bowed as they read from the open bibles that they held up in their arms.

Buffy turned her gaze away from the prayer meeting, her eyes landing on a man standing off to the side a message board around his neck that read. 'Message boards $10.00'. Buffy and Willow glanced at each other, both pondering the same thing, before they began making their way over to the man. Quickly paying for the overpriced boards, both of them not wanting to be bothered trying to haggle when they had no voices to voice their opinion. They continued on their way, going another couple of blocks towards their destination, when Buffy paused her gaze going down a road that would take her towards Crawford street where there was a good chance Angelus might still be sleeping, completely unaware of what was happening in the town they called home. She wanted to go see him… see if he was still asleep or if he was awake and possible knew of something that might have this kind of power. She didn't think that it was a coincidence that the day before she'd had a dream about not being able to shout and cry and now latterly no one could talk… But mostly she just wanted to see him; seeing him would do something to boost her mood… he had that effect on her these days.

Willow grabbed Buffy's sleeve and gave her a look, before she jerked her head in the direction they were supposed to be going. "Come on, Giles will be waiting for us." Willow mouthed; Giles' tending to be a focal meeting point for them to gather when there was trouble, so it made sense to travel there in times of crisis. Buffy sighed silently, before nodding her agreement and they went on their way again. She could always go and visit him a little later… she was supposed to see him tonight after all… but somehow she doubted that it would be the romantic evening she had been hoping it was going to be.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Buffy and Willow walk into Giles apartment without bothering to knock, making their way into the living room where as they had expected saw Xander and Anya already there. Upon seeing them Xander jumped up from his seat, causing Anya to turn around to look curiously to see who'd arrived, she looked between Xander and Buffy wondering what the big deal was that the blond and the red head had finally arrived after taking their sweet time in getting here. Giles got up from his own chair and walked towards her, Buffy waved 'hi' at the both of them, a wave which Xander returned sullenly. Giles feeling the small wave of hello was slightly beneath him, clasped Buffy on the arm instead, giving her arm a reassuring squeeze as he smiled at her. Buffy placed her hand on top of his, appreciating her effort. "Anything?" Buffy mouthed hopefully as she saw all the occult books scattered about the condo, a hope that was swiftly quashed when Giles shook his head regretfully.

Buffy sighed once again as she lifted the board from around her neck, setting it down on Giles desk as Willow picked up her marker and swiftly scribbled something on her board, raising it up for Giles to see. 'Hi Giles.' It read, a small wavering smile curling up her lips. Giles moved over to her, wrapping a comforting arm around her small shoulders.

Buffy picked up the notepad that Giles had written part of her rhyme down on. 'Can't even shout, can't even cry…' Buffy raised a hand to her throat as she read it. 'So much for the dream just being the 'eternal mystery that is my brain' Giles.' Buffy thought, before her gaze focused on the last line that he had written of the rhyme. 'The gentlemen are coming…" Buffy held up the notepad directing it in Giles direction as she pointed her finger to where he had written 'The Gentlemen' with a line underlining the word, a questioning look on her face.

Giles shook his head sadly, having found nothing in the many books he had researched through since waking up this morning to find his voice gone, on the so called 'Gentlemen'.

Buffy lowered the notepad back down her gaze going over the words once more before she dropped it back onto the desk just as Xander started snapping his fingers to gain everyone's attention as he turned up the sound of the TV, the channel showing an emergency broadcast. The small group gathered around the TV as the newscaster began his speech. "We have this breaking news item from Sunnydale, California. Apparently the entire town has been quarantined due to an epidemic of… as strange as this sounds," The newscaster adlibbed. "Laryngitis. It seems that the entire town has been rendered unable to speak. There's no word yet what might have caused this or what other effects might be seen from this epidemic. Local authorities have issued this statement, a written statement, I should say, blaming recent flu vaccinations. A few sceptics call it a city wide hoax, in the meanwhile Sunnydale has effectively shut down. All schools and businesses will be closed for the time being and residents are advised to stay home and rest up. Centres for disease control have ordered the entire town quarantined. No one can go in or out until the syndrome is identified or the symptoms disappear. We wiil bring you more on that as it develops." The newscasters promised, before the channel went back to its normal scheduled program.

Olivia took a deep long swallow from the scotch that she had been drinking whilst watching the broadcast. Her plans to leave in a few days seeming like it was out of the question. Buffy borrowed Willow's board as Xander switched off the TV in disgust. "That's it?' He mouthed irritated, annoyed that once again they still knew just about as much as before, except that as usual the entire town was clueless as to what was really going on. Buffy quickly wrote on the board before holding it up for Giles to see. "Keep researching. I should be in town tonight."

Giles read it and frowned in confusion. "Why?" He mimed.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

"Because there will be chaos." An electronic computerized voice replied to a question Walsh had been asked. The professor having typed the answer on a blue screen of the computer she was sitting in front of. "You will help keep order." The computer continued as Walsh typed rapidly again. "Dress as civilians. A military presence would only increase panic."

Riley wrote on the notepad he had been given and held it up for Walsh to read. 'What's happening?"

Walsh turned back to the computer and began typing again. "We are looking into it." The computer spoke for her once again. "Go. Help maintain order. We will find an answer."

Having received that order the group that had been sitting around her quickly disassembled to get ready to carry out their orders. As he walked away Riley couldn't help but wonder how Buffy was holding up, not having had a chance to check in on her what with having to report in immediately due to the town wide epidemic.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Angelus walked through the small courtyard, heading directly for Giles condo, believing that Buffy would be there with the others of her little group of friends. Giving a brief sharp knock, before entering the condo he walked in and received startled looks. Anya and Xander jumping up immediately from the couch they had been cuddling on, their eyes focused on him wondering what he was doing there. Angelus ignored them as his gaze swept over the living room, his eyes only confirming what his senses where telling him. That Buffy wasn't here. His gaze focused on Giles who was looking at him, only a hint of wariness in his piercing blue eyes as he stared at him relatively calm. "Where is she?" Angelus mimed determinedly.

"You just missed her." Giles mimed back, not needing Angelus to elaborate to know who he was looking for. Angelus nodded, before quickly turning around and exiting the apartment as swiftly as he had arrived.

Xander gave Giles a dubious look, marching over to the desk he picked up the pad, flipping it over to a clean page he hurriedly scribbled something down before aiming the written words in Giles direction. 'What are you thinking?'

Giles gave a small shrug as he adjusted his glasses on his nose. "That Buffy might need help if she runs into whatever demon these gentlemen characters are." Giles mimed, before he sat back down, his hand reaching out to touch Olivia on the arm making her look up at him, she attempted to give him a warm smile as she touched his hand in return.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Buffy walked slowly along the town streets that were teaming with silent people who were just wandering aimlessly in the early night, the only sound they made where the sound of their steps. Each and every one of them walking with their shoulders slumped in misery. Her eyes scanning the growing dark, the street lights only just starting to light up the night, looking for anyone that looked as if they were about to start trouble. But so far the night had been quiet, she'd stopped only once so far… and that had been to comfort a lost little girl and walk her the few blocks back to her house; back to her very relieved parents.

Aside from that though, so far the night had been uneventful thankfully. Buffy turned a corner down into another street, where she jump as a car accidentally crashed loudly into a fire hydrant, that immediately sprang a leak through the dent the car had created, changing the pressure of the water inside. Buffy watched as the driver quickly got out of the car, slightly wobbly at first as he looked at the accident he had created, before he quickly turned and ran away; obviously feeling that on top of everything else that crashing his car was the last straw. Buffy watched him go, remembering the time when another adult had run with a crazy laughter after hitting her mother Jeep after running a red light, having been too busy eating one of those candy bars.

Further down the street she heard a commotion her gaze landing on Riley as he got between a white man dressed casually and a black business man as they got into a fight. Over what she wasn't sure, but Riley was busy trying to keep the peace seeing that he had in under control she went to continue on her way only to see the white guy who was being ignored by Riley as he smoothed the businessman suit down, trying to silently calm the man that was glaring over at the guy that had attacked him for accidentally bumping into him. But then the white guy picked up a pipe his stance completely aggressive as he began moving to attack Riley from behind. Buffy who'd been approaching from behind, grabbed the man's wrist, effortlessly drawing him up short. She gave him a look as he turned his head to look at her, her eyebrow raising in silent question.

The man only took in her look for a moment, before he moved to attack her for getting in his way. Buffy sighed silently as she rolled her eyes, before she twisted her wrist with a strong flick that had the bones snapping as they broke beneath her strength. The man opened his mouth wide in a silent scream of pain, his face screwing up in reflection of that pain. Buffy sure that the man was now successfully subdued released him and he crumpled into a heap of pain on the road. Riley turned away from the business man his eyes immediately landing on Buffy and he smiled brightly relieved to see that she was ok, having been hoping that he would run into her. Wanting to assure himself that she hadn't been attacked by some random that couldn't deal. His smile faded as before he could even move Buffy's attention was drawn from after she had only given him the smallest of friendly smiles. Riley followed her line of sight as best he could and his heart plummeted in his chest once again as his gaze landed on Buffy's boyfriend. A boyfriend that always just seemed to show up the moment he even though that he'd be able to spend a bonding moment with Buffy.

Buffy's smile brightened as her gaze landed on Angelus as she knew it would the moment she had felt him close by. Immediately forgetting about Riley who had seemed like he'd wanted to come over as she moved towards Angelus, her attention completely focused on Angelus. Angelus took a few steps towards her as well, his arms coming around her as he held her close against him. Glad that he had finally found her. His gaze went over Buffy's head to land on Riley who was watching them, a look in his eyes that Angelus effortlessly recognised as jealousy, a look he had seen in many men's and women's eyes over the centuries. Angelus stared Riley down silently challenging him to attempt to come over, but after a moment that seemed longer than it was Riley gave the back of Buffy's head a final look, before turning away; a crash in the distance forcing him to hurry away instead of the miserable trudging that he felt like doing.

Buffy pulled away slightly, her mouth opening to speak, before she snapped it shut again remembering that she still had no voice. Lifting the board around her neck she began scribbling over the white surface, before holding it up for Angelus to see. 'How are you?' She'd written.

"I'm fine." Angelus mouthed silently, before he hesitated a moment. Reaching out he grabbed the board and took the marker from her lax fingers. He quickly wrote something under her question. 'I was worried about you, when I couldn't find you.' He let Buffy read as he held the board around so that she could see it. Knowing all too well that humans could be just as dangerous as demons in times of crisis. A few streets back he'd seen a group of men beating up one what he assumed was another man.

Buffy took the board back from him, erasing the words on the board, before she began scribbling over the not so clean surface once again. 'Sorry, I've been all over the place today. Not having a voice sucks' Buffy hesitated, before she continued on. 'I wanted to come see you earlier.'

Angelus smiled glad that he hadn't been the only one burning to see her, that she'd been worried about him as well. Leaning in towards her, he kissed her, his hands coming up to hold her to him as he tried to convey everything he felt for her with his lips. Satisfaction filing him as he felt her melt against him, giving him her weight as her legs grew weak beneath her. The moment was broke though as a loud crash sounded from behind him and Buffy jerked away from him, returned to the reality of her situation by the noise. Buffy stepped to the side, her legs still a little wobbly as she looked down the street her eyes landing on a woman who was running from a couple of men. With a silent curse Buffy moved swiftly down the street, the weakness in her legs forgotten. Angelus sighed as he turned to watch Buffy run towards the fray, glaring angrily at the human men that had unknowingly interrupted a moment that had felt perfect to him. A silent growl erupted past his lips, annoyance filling him at the silence of the sound, a sound that put terror in the hearts and minds of humans… silenced by something that no one seemed to know anything about.

That's what he'd spent most of his day doing after the minion incident. He'd gone round doing his best to ask questions of the lesser demons, more of them than usual hiding in the sewers. Hiding from the army men they said, but none of them knew a thing about what had been the cause behind the loss of the entire towns voices. Angelus took off after Buffy, a rush of disappointment filling him as Buffy smoothly knocked the two men out, the woman she had saved barely noticing as she continued to run, heading for the safety of her home and unwilling to stop until she got there. At the same time he felt a thrill at seeing her so efficiently and deadly if she so chose, dispatch the two men without even a seconds hesitation. Buffy smiled at him, before she continued on down the street.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Buffy paused in her stride as she looked about the now quiet streets of Sunnydale, all the people that had been wandering around aimless in their misery had finally returned to their homes to try and sleep; no doubt hoping that come morning everything will have gone back to normal. Turning to face Angelus, who had spent most of the night walking the streets with her. Balancing her board on her arm she scribbled on the board. 'I know I said that I would stay with you tonight, but Willow asked me to stay with her in the dorm.' She wrote, an apologetic look on her face as she held up the board for Angelus to see.

Angelus felt his eyes roll before he could stop himself. Finding it very typical that one of her friends would once again ruin his plans where Buffy was concerned. They were always doing it before… it stood to reason that they would continue to do so now. With a silent sigh, Angelus let it roll off him, a smirk curling up his lips not giving up just yet… not even in the slightest. The annoying little red head wasn't going to get in his way of wooing Buffy. He nodded his acceptance and mouthed a, "Fine. I'll stay there as well." He mimed clearly, causing Buffy's eyes to widen in shock for a moment. Her gaze following him as he walked by her heading in the direction she knew the university campus to be.

Before she shook her head and smiled happily; glad that he cared enough for her to spend the night cooped up with not only her in her small dormitory, but with Willow as well. Her smile was replaced by a small frown a short moment later as she followed after Angelus as she wondered just how Willow was going to take to this new development. Quickening her steps to catch up to Angelus she hurriedly scribbled on her board once again, before moving faster to cut in front of him, hating the fact that she couldn't just talk like she normally would. 'You don't have to, you know.' Angelus read as Buffy held up the board for him to read.

He raised a brow at her, his entire expression saying that he thought that what he was about to tell her should have been obvious. Reaching out he lifted the board from around her neck, Buffy watched as Angelus erased what she had written, before moving the marker over the board himself.

It was only a short moment later that Angelus finished writing what he had to say and thrust the board back at Buffy. Buffy moved to look down at the board only to be momentarily distracted as Angelus grasped one of her slender wrists in his hand and began leading her along the streets. Buffy allowed him to as she trusted him to guide her along the path for the moment as she looked down at the board he had given back to her. An affectionate/thrilled smile curling up her lips again as she read what he had written. Any and all thoughts she had had of trying to just getting him to go home for Willow's sake disappearing as her heart swelled with joy once again.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Willow looked up from her laptop as the door to the room opened, relief filling her as she saw Buffy standing in the door. "Anything?" She mimed hopefully. Buffy shook her head in response as she stepped completely into the dorm room. Willow froze on the bed as Angelus stepped into the room behind Buffy, pushing the door shut behind him. Her gaze flicked from Angelus who ignored the red head as he slipped out of his jacket.

Buffy caught Willow's wide eyed look and gave her friend an apologetic shrug as she set down the board. "He doesn't want to leave me alone." Buffy mimed, her gaze glancing over at Angelus to see if he was paying her and Willow much attention.

Willow glanced over at Angelus once again, before turning her gaze back to Buffy as she nodded her understanding of the situation. Buffy smiled in relief and turned away as she began getting organised for bed.

Willow closed her laptop, her gaze catching on the board that Buffy had set aside. Leaning in towards it, she looked down at the words still written in the black marker on the board. 'I'm not leaving you alone tonight. You aren't going to be one of the seven.' She read and she felt herself flush slightly as she imagined the emotion that was felt behind the words. Leaning away from the board once again she covertly glanced over at Angelus from underneath her lashes, watching him for a short moment as he watched Buffy. Paying absolutely no attention to her what so ever. Willow looked away from him again, not wanting to get caught as she got up off the bed as she moved to pack away her laptop completely. She supposed it wouldn't be too bad to have Angelus here tonight… seeing as they had no clue as to what they were dealing with he might just come in handy…

Willow glanced over at him again, this time accidentally getting caught a flush staining her cheeks as she quickly looked away from the sardonic look that Angelus was giving her. She doubted very much that she would be getting any sleep whatsoever tonight! She'd be too nervous that Angelus just might get peckish.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

As the hands on the clock on the top of the clock tower struck 1:50am two of the Gentlemen glided out of the door of the clock tower accompanied by two of lackey's the shuffled awkwardly along the ground, bandages wrapped around them there arms flapping free of the untied strait jackets that they wore, following after the four others that had exited the building just moments before them. As the six glided along the streets, they split apart in groups of two, their hands waving goodbye to each other in small polite hand movements, before they turned away from each other as they glided down the street they had chosen, looking to start the collection of seven they needed. Their servants lumbering along behind them ready and willing to help their masters with anything that they needed.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

In Giles bedroom Olivia lay awake, prompt up against Giles chest. After a moment more of trying to lay peacefully against Giles' chest and let sleep claim her, she carefully got up and pulled on a robe, feeling the need to get a drink. Quietly she made her way down the stairs and into the living room. She was about to go into the kitchen for that glass of water, when something drew her attention to one of the windows. Slowly making her way over to the window Olivia pulled aside the lacy curtain that was hanging over the window, her gaze landing on one of the demons backs as it floated across the street. She startled, her mouth opening in a silent scream as one of the Gentlemen floated right in front of the window she was peering out of, and as if knowing that she was there, looked right at her, causing her heart to freeze in her chest as she tried to take calm steps from the window but ended up jumping back one of her hands covering her mouth as she waited to see what was about to happen. Knowing that she could even scream for Giles to come running to her aid.

But the Gentleman just looked away from her dismissing her as it continued to float down the street, moving unhurriedly after its partner.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

One of the three pairs of Gentlemen glided elegantly towards one of the many houses on the street they were on. Something about the house drawing them towards it, as they floated closer to the house, coming up on its front yard one of the Gentleman nods his agreement to the choice and the two float towards the gate, opening it they float up the path towards the door. Two of their servants lumbering behind them up the path as one of the Gentlemen knocked on the door.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Angelus stirred slightly from where he lay snuggled up around Buffy's small frame. The bed she had been given by the school not really made to fit two, but they had managed. A frown darkening his brow in the darkness of the dorm room, his keen eyes easily focusing on the door, his senses telling him that something hostile was outside the door, he glanced down at Buffy and saw that she was still peacefully sleeping, one of her hands resting on his bare chest, her face lying on the mattress, where it had once been snuggled warmly against his neck. He looked back towards the door, his body relaxing slightly as he felt the presences move away from Buffy's door. But still he frowned, somewhat taken aback by the fact that whatever it was that had just been outside Buffy's door had made absolutely no noise as it moved. If he hadn't been on alert for something coming after Buffy he might never have known they were there at all.

Buffy shifted in her sleep and Angelus looked down at her again, before he settled himself down beside her again. His gaze flicking over to Willow annoyance, the girls presence making it impossible to do anything but lay there and sleep. Angelus sighed silently and closed his eyes once again, his arm wrapping around Buffy's body once again, holding her close, his senses still on high-alert in case the demons came back.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

The two Gentlemen glided around a corner going down a little ways as they continued to pass by doors as one continued to reject each door they passed with a small wave of its fingers that was just big enough to get his message across. They reached a door labelled with the number 118, the one that had been rejecting doors floated over to the door, his arms spreading as if to present the door. Letting his partner know that he had made his choice. Knocking on the door, the two waited only a moment before the student inside who had been woken by the sudden sound opened the door to see who it is. His eyes widened at the sight of the two tall ugly creatures standing in his doorway and quickly he moved to shut the door only for the two minions he hadn't noticed before to rush him. Grasping his arms as they forced him back into the room and onto his bed, holding his arms out wide as the boy struggled helplessly on the bed as he stared up at the two demons that were standing over his bed looking down at him as he struggled to get free. His heart pounding wildly in his chest.

The one that had been making all the decisions this night nodded slightly, informing his partner that this was the one. The other Gentlemen reaching inside his jacket and removed a scalpel from the inside pocket and handed it to the one that had chosen this heart. The Gentlemen took the scalpel gratefully from his partner, before looking down at his chosen victim and slowly leaning down the scalpel held carefully in front of him, the sharp blade aimed towards the boy's chest, who was watching everything happening with wide eyes. His throat wrenching screams going unheard in the dorm as his neighbours remained sleeping peacefully completely unaware that the boy in 118 was in any danger whatsoever.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Back in the top of the clock tower one of the Gentlemen who had just finished putting the last heart they had collected that night into a canning jar, stepped back his hands flourishing as he presented the three collected hearts to his comrades. The five other that were standing around the table that was displaying the hearts and the box with the towns stolen voices clapped at their first nights success. The one that had placed the hearts in the jars waved his hands bashfully, his hands saying what he could not. That he felt his comrades were being to kind.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Buffy felt bile rise up in her throat as she looked down at the body of the boy that had lived in dorm 118. Her eyes taking in the gaping hole in his chest, that was covered in drying blood that was spilled over his chest as well. The terror on his face fixed as he stared blankly up at a monster that was no longer there. Buffy turned away from the boy, no longer needing to look at him, having gotten what she needed. She walked softly back towards the open door, peeking out to make sure that the on-campus security officer was still facing the other way, she swiftly slipped out of the room as quietly as she had slipped in.

Walking over to Angelus who was leaning against the opposite wall just a little way away from the commotion that was going on just on the other side of the hall as students tried to crowd as close as they could around the security guard all of them wanting to get a peek in at the room and the unfortunate boy who had met such a grisly fate the night before. "Well?" Angelus mimed when Buffy stood in front of him.

"Whatever it is, it's taking hearts." Buffy mimed in response, her hand coming up to rest over her own beating heart, her minds-eye still seeing the gaping hole in the boys chest where his heart was supposed to be.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Olivia sat on the stairs, Giles notepad resting on her knees as she moved a pencil over the page. She looked up grateful as Giles set a steaming mug of coffee beside her, her nerves still very much shaken from the night before. Giles walked over to his door, opening it he picked up the morning newspaper that had been thrown there by the newspaper boy. Flicking the paper open his eyes landed on the gruesome headline.

'BRUTAL SLAYING SHOCKS SILENT COMMUNITY' his gaze moved down to the subheading just beneath it. '15 Year Old Girl Stabbed, Heart Was Missing.'

Giles read the last words again, something clicking in his mind as the new information melded with what Buffy had already told him about the Gentlemen. Looking up from the newspaper his gaze landing on Olivia, who noticing his gaze, lifted her now complete and rather accurate drawing of the demon she had seen during the very early hours of the morning. Giles took in the image of the rather ugly demon that was grinning perpetually at him from the page and everything seemed to fall into place in his mind as he recognised the image from at least one of his many books. Walking over to his bookcase he scanned the many occult books that filled its shelves. Finding the red covered book that he needed, he pulled it from its shelf. The title covering the front of the cover reading 'Fairy Tales' and a picture underneath it that looked very much like the demon that they were after.

Giles opened the book, flicking through the pages until he found the page that he was looking for, wanting to brush up on his knowledge, not having read the tale for a very long time.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Buffy sat in the very front row of a lecture hall in the university that she and the others on Giles order had snuck into. She sat with Willow on one side of her and Anya in the row behind them a small box of popcorn in her hands as she watched Giles make finishing touches to the projector he was setting up. Angelus was standing off slightly to the side his arms crossed over his chest as he looked around the hall that was growing darker with every blind that Xander managed to close. Xander closed the last blind plunging the hall into an acceptable dimness for the projector Giles wanted to use and made his way down the stairs to the front of the hall where he took a seat on the stairs as Giles pulled down the screen.

A creepy violin music played from the boom box as Giles pushed the play button to set the mood for his presentation. Angelus crossed his arms over his chest, a faint smile of amusement curling up his lips finding it amusing that Giles would be one for adding such flare to something that was supposed to just help him explain what was going on with his voice gone. Giles picked up the first transparency he had set up and placed it on the projector, where it was projected onto the screen behind him. Willow and Buffy immediately pointed to the screen, confusing Giles who had thought that he had been doing quite well for someone who still had problems working a computer. Behind Buffy and Willow Anya who had a mouth full of popcorn raised her own hand in the air and extended her index finger and rotated it in a circle.

Finally Giles looked behind him up at the projector and immediately saw the problem and swiftly turned the transparency around on the projector so that it was projected onto the screen the right way up. 'WHO ARE THE GENTLEMEN' The projection read. After a short moment Giles took of that sheet and replaced it with the next one, glancing behind him to check that he'd put it on the right way. 'THEY ARE FAIRY TALE MONSTERS.' His audience watched the screen intently; Willow making small notes on the notepad she had set up on her lap already as they read the next slide. 'WHAT DO THEY WANT?' Willow's hand shot up excitedly into the air, before Giles could even begin changing the transparency drawing everyone's gaze as she pointed meaningly at her chest, where her heart was beating.

Xander looked at Willow a little perplexed. "Boobies?" He mouthed his hands coming up to cup the air close to his chest; forming boobs with his hands. Willow and Buffy rolled their eyes and pointed meaningfully up at the projector screen where Giles had slid his next transparency into place.

'HEARTS' Xander read and nodded as he understood even a he took in the small red hearts Giles had drawn around the word. Giles placed the next sheet on the projector. 'THEY COME TO A TOWN' a picture of two Gentlemen standing on a hill top that was supposedly looking over a town.

Giles changed sheets again, finding that he was enjoying having such rapt attention from the young adults that he'd been endeavouring to guide for the past four years. 'THEY STEAL ALL THE VOICES SO THAT NO ONE CAN SCREAM' a picture of one of the two Gentlemen on the hill reaching out to a group of humans who had their mouths open and misty substance coming out of them and for extra emphasis Giles mimed losing his voice by raising his hand to his mouth and moving it away, before he turned back to the projector and his transparencies. 'THEN…' was all the next slide read and Buffy and Willow exchanged a look, neither of them realizing that Giles had it in him to be such a performer.

Giles held up a finger for a moment, trying to add to the tension he hoped he was creating, before he put up the next page. Buffy's, Willow's and Xander's eyes widened as they were greeted by the gruesome image Giles had drawn with bright red for the blood that was supposedly squirting out of the dead persons chest who was lying on the ground a Gentleman above him the persons heart in its hand, that was still dripping blood according to the drawing. The red on the drawing almost over powering the entire picture. Buffy and Willow exchanged another look, the both of them feeling like Giles might have gotten a bit carried away with the colour red. Behind them Anya remains undisturbed by the image as she ate some more popcorn. Xander bent his head down as he began to scribble on his notepad a sudden question popping up into his head. Giles put up the next sheet. 'THEY NEED SEVEN, THEY HAVE AT LEAST TWO.' A picture of seven red hearts were under the words each with small little red dots about them as if they were pumping out a blood still.

Xander snapped his fingers as he continued to look down at what he'd written for a short second more to make sure he'd spelled it right, the noise of his snapping fingers drawing everyone's gaze in the room. Xander lifted his head as he lifted the pad up for them all to see. 'How do we kill them?!'

Immediately Buffy made a fist pumping motion with her arm, believing that her meaning should be obvious, but as she was greeted with disturbed looks from Xander and Willow and uncomfortable one from Giles who to his credit was trying to keep a straight face and a raised eyebrow from Angelus she rolled her eyes stopping the motion long enough to reach over into her bag and pull out the ever handy stake that she kept on her at all times and repeated the motion again, this time receiving looks of relieved sudden understanding. Buffy rolled her eyes again as she placed her stake away once again a slight flush heating her cheeks that she was determined to ignore.

Giles who was visibly relieved and somewhat ashamed of himself for jumping straight to the conclusion that he had, changing the page with the next one with far more concentration than was necessary to help distract himself. 'IN THE TALES NO SWORD CAN KILL THEM' The transparency read, a picture of a still grinning Gentlemen with three swords sticking out of him as he still stood tall. Giles swapped out that sheet for the next one in his line-up. 'BUT THE PRINCESS SCREAMED ONCE… AND THEY ALL DIED.' A picture of a princess in a badly drawn princess dress screaming her lungs out as the two Gentlemen lay dead on the hill accompanied this projection.

Willow's expression brightened as an idea came to her and she reached into her bag and pulled out a CD, tapping it with her fingers to draw everyone's attention. She mimed putting the CD in a player, before holding her hands over her ears, before putting her hands to her throat to pantomime dying to the sound of a recorded voice. Finishing her silent explanation of her idea she looked around the room excitedly, an expression that dulled as Giles shook his head and held up a finger once again, before he turned to change the transparency once again.

'ONLY A REAL HUMAN VOICE' The transparency read, bellow the words a picture of a Gentlemen stick figure danced to a gramophone that was playing a record. Willow looked disappointedly at Giles as he pointed to his throat, before she put away the CD, bummed that her idea wouldn't work.

Buffy quickly used her marker to write something down on her board and held it up for Giles to read. 'How do I get my voice back?'

Giles shrugged his hands splaying out wide in a gesture of 'I don't know.' Turning back to the projector Giles changed the sheet again. 'BUFFY WILL PATROL TONIGHT' Buffy read that and didn't mind all that much she had assumed that she would be anyway… but what did have her scowling in disapproval was the image of the blond on the projector screen who was holding a crossbow evidentially meant to be her. The image was anything but flattering and had her hands going to her sides before she knew that they were going there.

Giles ignored Buffy's expression as he looked around at the others as he picked up a book in a gesture that they would be helping him research. Giles placed down the book and everyone that had been sitting got up. Buffy walked towards the projector as Giles set about flicking everything off and setting the room to looking like they hadn't been in there. Buffy picked up the transparency Giles had shown, her eyes focusing on the rough image of the Gentleman. Angelus approached Buffy his hand coming to rest on her shoulder drawing her attention from the image, sensing that something was bothering her. Buffy dropped the sheet she was holding back amongst the others as she turned towards Angelus, pressing herself against him with a silent sigh. If she'd known that this was going to happen she would have sucked it up and just asked Angelus her question. Considering the situation… there was a possibility that she may not get to use her voice again… after all Giles had no idea how to get their voices back; which wasn't a good sign.

Buffy pulled back from Angelus, her gaze going up to his face as she did so. "Are you alright?" Angelus mimed, his expression one of concern as he gazed down at her.

Buffy nodded. "Yeah, fine. I think Giles graphic slides got to me a little." She excused. It wasn't really a lie… his slides had gotten to her. Seven hearts… and two had already been collected at the least… and they had to take seven which meant five more possible victims who'd end up just like the guy in dorm room 118. Buffy felt a shiver run over her spine and she felt Angelus' hand come up brushing some hair out of her face and as she turned her gaze up to him again, she could tell that he didn't fully believe her, but she curved her lips up into a bright a smile for him, hoping that it would assure him that even if she wasn't completely fine right now, she would be. But she made a promise to herself, the moment she got her voice back… she'd ask him… no matter what.

From where he stood by the door having been just about to make his exit Giles watched the two and couldn't help, but feel grateful that he had decided to let things play out between the two of them. As even without voices he could see the affection between the two. The softness that Angelus showed her… an emotion that he never showed to anyone else. He just hoped that Buffy didn't end up hurt in the long run… but of course that could just be the course of their relationship, but he'd hate to see her as devastated as she was before… Giles stared at them a moment more before he turned and continued on his way out of the lecture hall. Leaving the two alone. Buffy glanced towards the door at the sound of it closing behind Giles and realized that they were suddenly alone in the hall. "So, are you accompanying me again tonight?" She mimed, wishing that she had her voice. It felt so weird to move your lips and have nothing come out… when it should be.

Angelus nodded. "Wouldn't miss it." He mimed, his cocky smirk in place as he took a step towards her, closing the distance she had put between them, his mind on other things now that they were finally alone together and they had the rest of the afternoon until night fell and they'd be out there walking the streets looking for any sign of the silent moving creatures that were plaguing the town they called home. Buffy gasped silently as Angelus grasped her by the hips and pulled her up against him, allowing her to feel the erection he was sporting beneath the leather pants. Using her gasp to his advantage, Angelus dipped down as swiftly took her lips with his. His tongue sweeping past her lips to tease and taunt her tongue until it was dancing with his passionately. Angelus slid his hands down so that they were cupping the curvaceous mounds that were the globes of her ass.

Easily lifting her off her feet he lifted her up into his arms, her supple legs wrapping around his hips on instinct as Angelus walked them back over to the desk Giles had been stationed at. Buffy moaned silently her eyes snapping open as her back hit the desk and Angelus began leaning over her, lowering her down onto the desk. Reaching her hands up she pressed them against Angelus' shoulders as she tore her mouth from his with a great deal of effort. "Angelus!" She mimed, quiet sure that she would be rasping his name if she had a voice at that moment. "Anyone could wander on in here." She mouthed helplessly, her body aching with need for him, the idea no matter how much the idea of being caught embarrassed her, it also made the heat that she could feel pooling in her lower abdomen rise.

Angelus looked down at her for a moment, his hips still rocking gently against her, before a grin curled up his lips and words weren't needed for her to understand what he was saying.

Angelus lunged down towards her once again, his mouth seizing hers as Buffy's hands that were still resting on his shoulders worked at undoing the buttons of his silk shirt, batting away the folds of the leather jacket that were getting in her way of the buttons, her fingers nibbling undoing each of the small buttons in mere seconds. Her fingers need to explore the newly exposed flesh slowing down her progress. Buffy arched up off the desk as she felt his hands working up inside her shirt, lifting it up over her stomach.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Giles made it back to his car were Xander and Anya where waiting for their lift back to his place. Xander looked behind him, having expected to see Buffy with him, upon not seeing her he gave Giles a questioning look. "Where is Buffy?" He mouthed.

Giles adjusted his glasses on the bridge of his nose, fighting the urge to take them off in his familiar nervous habit. "I believe that Buffy and Angelus felt a need for some bonding time." He mimed awkwardly.

Xander continued looking confused, not quiet able to make out what Giles had tried to say. He went to ask him again, when Anya who's eyes had lit up with understanding and she touched her boyfriend's shoulder, drawing his attention. "Buffy's having orgasms with Angelus." She mouthed as she did a small crude gesture with her fingers. Xander frowned, wishing that he hadn't understood Anya, his gaze flicking back the way they had come to where he now knew Buffy was getting all naked and sweaty with a demon he couldn't help but hate.

Giles didn't allow time for further comment as he ushered the two into the car, actually thankful in that moment that Anya and Xander couldn't speak, it spared his ears the pain of Anya's vulgar remarks and Xander's embarrassed rambling that did nothing to improve the situation. If only his eyes were spared the same… but then he'd never like to be completely blind again. His one experience with that had been more than enough to last him a life time.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Buffy clung to Angelus as he drove himself in and out of her, his leather pants pooled around his ankles as the rest of their clothes littered the floor of the lecture hall, sweat beaded over her skin in a fine sheen. The only sounds in the room was the sound of their flesh slapping together with each thrust, their panted breathes and the sound of the desk rocking with every thrust. Buffy reached out, her hand grasping the projector as she tried to prop herself up, the wood of the desk digging into her back uncomfortably with every downward thrust of his hips. She bit her lip for a moment, her teeth digging into the soft flesh of her lower lip harshly as she felt the heat inside her growing deeper, seemingly filling her entire being with pleasure that sparked and flared with every thrust and shift of his hips. Tears pricked at hers as she felt frustration grow inside of her as she wanted nothing more than to voice at least a small modem of the pleasure she was feeling. The hand that was still clinging to him dug into his back, her fingers drawing a small amount of blood from his back as her nails made small crescent moon cuts in his back. The hand that was holding onto the projector was no less brutal in its grip and without her notice thin cracks began to spread out through the thick plastic from where her hand was clutching.

Buffy's teeth released her lower lip as she gasped silently her eyes screwing shut as she felt her pleasure growing deep inside her, her abdomen seemed to tighten with it. Angelus took advantage of her parted lips as he kissed her deeply once again as he continued to thrust inside of her welcoming tight sheath, their tongue dealing heatedly as they both fought for domination. Angelus felt a growl building up inside of him as he felt her strong thighs squeeze about his hips, as Buffy did her best to show him with her body just how appreciative she was of all the pleasure he was giving her with every thrust of his hips. His hands tightened around her hips in response as he thrust harder reading the silent wants of her body. Buffy felt his chest rumble, with a growl that had no sound. The sensation rocking through her highly awakened body the deep vibration shooting straight to her core sending over her over the edge that Angelus had been steadily working her towards.

Buffy tore her mouth away from Angelus' as her body arched as it was over taken with the blinding sensation of her orgasm as it crashed over her, sending her core into a fevered spasming that clenched around Angelus' driving member. Her hand that was clutching at the projector clenched about the thick plastic and a loud crack rent the air as the plastic that had already been struggling under her strength gave way to it completely and Buffy's hand pulled back as it was zapped by a sudden slight electric shock. Angelus collapsed against Buffy as his own orgasm rocked through him, her spasming sheath too much for the shreds of his control to handle. His seed spurting from him in waves up her hot wet sheath, the dead seed reaching her welcoming womb to no effect.

Buffy groaned silently as her body came back to life after a long moment of nothing but pure sensation as she felt Angelus against her sweaty body, his softening cock still buried deep inside of her. Slowly Angelus righted himself and Buffy forced herself to sit up, her gaze going to the projector a look of shock and horror colouring her already flushed face as she realized that she had accidentally broken the projector. Looking up at Angelus she mimed an "Oops." Angelus smiled amused a silent chuckle resonating in his chest, his amusement going unheard. Buffy slipped from the desk, her legs still feeling wobbly, but as her senses returned… so did her embarrassment over being naked and exposed in a place where just about anyone could walk in without even a by-your-leave. Quickly slipping back into her clothes that had been stern about the foot of the desk, Buffy walked over to the chair her stuff was still resting on. She'd just slung the strap of her bag over her shoulder when she felt Angelus take her hand in his, drawing her gaze. "Quick, let's make our get away before we're caught red handed." He mimed, tilting his head towards the mess they had made on the desk. What with the broken projector and no doubt the still wet evidence of their joining that was no doubt staining the edge of the desk.

Buffy nodded, her cheeks flushing with embarrassed, but also a thrilled heat at having done something that was so… forbidden… she followed Angelus up the steps towards the door, her small hand still clasped in his as they made their get away from the lecture hall Giles had confiscated without permission for his little slideshow.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

In the Initiative base Riley stood beside Forrest as they finished getting into their military uniforms, after the attacks last night after they all called it a night, there had been no question about whether they come out armed and ready tonight. It having been confirmed that something outside of the ordinary had been at work when the entire town had fallen silent. He looked up from his belt when he heard the hurried footsteps coming their way and a frown darkened his brow as he saw one of the newer recruits racing towards them, having been late. When he reached them, Riley drew the boy up to a stop and gave him a stern look that said what his words couldn't at that moment. The newbie swallowed thickly and nodded, his expression apologetic and Riley let him go already planning to have a good talk with the newbie when he had the chance. He felt Forrest touch his shoulder and he turned to look at his friend to see him holding up the notepad he had on him at all times. 'Newbies, man.' It read. Riley smiled as he could just hear the tone of voice Forrest would have said it in. Both Riley and Forrest finished donning their uniforms and picked up the specialized rifles that they had been issued. Behind them are the newspapers that the Sunnydale papers had run with that morning, the information they had… which wasn't much pinned up on the board. Shouldering his rifle Riley and Forrest began walking with a purposeful stride not wanting to wait for the new recruit to get completely suited up before hitting the streets, night having already fallen. Riley tapped one of his soldiers on the shoulder, gaining the man's attention he pointed to the recruit who was hurrying to get into his military uniform. The soldier sighed silently understanding what his superior wanted from him, but nodded as he was trained to do. Willing to carry out his orders.

Seeing that the new recruit would be taken care of Riley marched on with Forrest in toe for the moment as they made their way towards one of the staircases that would take them to one of their well hidden exits from the underground base.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Buffy walked down a street with Angelus by her side. The street was lined with houses only the occasional putting any great deal of distance between the houses. Unlike last night the streets were devoid of people, all of them having chosen to remain in the relative safety of their homes after the killings that had occurred the night before. The silence was eerie, she doubted that she had ever gone so long without hearing another's voice before… she found that she was missing the sound of Angelus' more than anyone else's. And it was more than strange not to hear it especially when he was this close to her. He was after all really rather fond of talking. Buffy glanced over at his tall figure as he kept pace with her.

He'd been hovering rather close since they'd lost their voices, and she couldn't help but think that in a way he was scared of something happening to her, and she understood it, if that was indeed the reason for his hovering, he; by his own admittance knew not much at all about these demons that had come to Sunnydale, with the only warning coming from a prophetic dream that hadn't given them much. She had been scared herself at first, her last prophetic dream had led to the beginning of the worst stretch of her life that she could ever remember, but now she was in her element. She knew exactly what had to be done… all she had to do was find out exactly how she was going to manage it.

Buffy peered at him from beneath her lashes as she remembered their frantic love making in the lecture hall, the intensity and need she'd felt in him as they moved together on the desk. Buffy glanced away… perhaps she was wrong about him being scared of losing her to the Gentlemen's scalpel… but she wouldn't know… she'd never seen him scared since she'd first met him in Angel's apartment. Buffy shrugged slightly, it didn't matter why he was hovering, she was just glad that he was here with her. His presence seemed to lift the heaviness that was trying to weigh down on her the longer she and the entire town remained voiceless… joyless. Buffy glanced covertly into the windows of the house they were passing by, relieved to see that it appeared to be peaceful, not wanting anyone else to die so horribly on her watch.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Riley stood alone on a street by the old clock tower looking around the street looking for any sign of trouble or anything suspicious that would hint at as to what was causing all the misery in the town he now called home. Glancing up at the clock tower to check the time, only to pause and look closer as he spotted a shadowy presence at the top of the tower behind the clock face that was illuminated by a light so that people could read it no matter what time it was. Staring for a moment longer unsure that he had really seen something only for a shadow to move up there again. Adjusting the strap of his rifle Riley moved swiftly towards the tower, using his training to remain as silent as he could as he headed for the only door in or out of the tower.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Tara finished writing Willow's campus address on a yellow post-it note, having highlighted Willow's name and address in the Campus Directory. Pulling the post-it note up from the page of the directory as she began packing up the loose handwritten pages of spells she thought that Willow might like to try with her. Closing up one of the spell books she wanted to bring with her she stuck the note to the hardcover, before grabbing up a couple of others. Gathering them up in her arms she walked to her door opening it she looked back at her dorm room, biting her lip as she wondered if she could really do this. If she could really try to approach a person… even one that seemed as agreeable and friendly as Willow Rosenberg did. Taking a deep fortifying breath a small sweet smile curling up her lips as excitement as well as nervousness filled her. Stepping out of her dorm room she closed the door behind her as she made her way down the completely deserted hall.

Tara made it quickly out of her dormitory building and out onto the stretching lawns of the University campus. She walked through the grass the small blades crunching slightly under her feet. Tara bit her lower lip as she hugged her books and notepads to her chest, glancing around the night, she seriously started to wonder if she had really made the right decision to come out of her dorm room as she had the eerie feeling that she was being watched or followed by… something. She looked behind her, her eyes scanning the night nervously as her heart beat faster in her chest with her growing nerves. Tara let out a startled silent gasp of shock as she accidentally dropped her books and papers. Letting out a soft breath she bent down to pick them up. She'd just picked up the last of them when she felt a chill crawl up her spine making the fine hairs covering her body stand on end.

Turning around her eyes widened in fear as she took in the two slowly gliding figures moved towards her, their hands held in front of them elegantly. Behind them their two lackey's bandaged, with their strait jackets open still to let their arms run free as they held them out at awkward angles as they loped towards her, moving ahead of their masters to catch her for them. Tara let out a silent scream of terror before she turned and ran, her arms dropping the books and papers she had just picked up as her flight or fight response took over and she ran as quickly as she could towards Stevenson hall that was now closer than any other building. The lackey's and Gentlemen giving chase, their Masters gliding along behind them their hands moving minimally, but more than enough to express their excitement to each other.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Buffy paused in her stride as her gaze fell on one of the Gentlemen as it glided along on the other side of the street from Angelus and herself. Buffy braced herself to follow after the demon, a small part of her wondering why it hadn't stopped and attacked her as it had obviously seen them standing there. Before she could move though a movement beside her caught her attention and her eyes widened minutely at seeing Angelus go down an ugly minion demon on top of him. The Gentleman forgotten for the moment she moved to help Angelus, barely missing the silent attack of the second minion. She managed to kick the demon off Angelus before the second demon grabbed her from behind, trying to squeeze the life out of her with its strong burly arms as Angelus flipped back up to his feet, his face hard with the ridges of the demon, his gaze flicking to Buffy to see her struggling in the grip of a second minion. Both brainless lackey's if he'd ever seen.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Tara ran desperately down one of the unfamiliar halls that made up the Stevenson dorm. She banged loudly on the door she was closest to and inside the dorm room a girl sat up fearful in her bed, her sheet clutched to her chest as she sat unmoving silently praying that whoever it was would go away and leave her unharmed. Tara too fearful to stay in one place long raced on down the hall, her heart pounding painfully in her chest and her legs wobbled underneath her weight with her terror. Tara pounded on another door, she couldn't stay there long either though as looking back the way she had come she saw the two tall creatures gliding after her, their ugly lackey's trailing behind them.

Tara did her best to hurry away the doors she had knocked on remaining firmly closed as the occupants inside cowered in fear as they wondered if they were about to suffer the same fate as those mentioned in the paper. She tried to yell for help, but no sound came out, her voice still locked away; leaving her helpless as those inside the dorms feared that the one pounding on their doors was the that had killed so savagely the night before. She looked behind her to see the Gentlemen much closer than before and she hurried her steps. Making it to a stairway she hurried up them. Her heart pounding so harshly in her chest that she feared it might beat right out of her chest!

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Angelus turned away from Buffy as he saw her break free of the minions hold, turning his gaze to the one that had attacked him from behind. Buffy spun on her heel to face the minion, her arms swinging out to backhand the demon sharply, who was evidentially surprised by her strength. The minion swung out at her clumsily, its blow she was very easily able to dodge. Kicking its leg harshly, forcing the demon to its knees. Reaching out Buffy quickly grasped its head and twisted hearing and feeling the bones in its neck break, releasing it the demons body fell to the ground and satisfied that it was dead and would be giving her no more trouble.

She turned to see how Angelus faired, stepping lightly towards him as his blow knocked the demon solidly to the ground blood spilling from its mouth as it looked up at them from its back. Buffy gently placed a hand gently on Angelus' arm, drawing his gaze to her, his body stilling as he paused in his next attack on the sneaky snivelling coward. The minions gaze went to its companion, before looking back up at them. It scrambled up to its feet giving them a last look, before it ran… fearing for its life. Buffy turned her gaze up to Angelus, a look on her face that had Angelus smiling at her. With an over exaggerated movement Angelus motioned for her to lead the way. Buffy couldn't help the smile that curled up her lips at his action finding it endearing and amusing, before she gave chase to the minion that she felt sure would lead them to its home and the other demons that they were hunting that night.

Angelus followed quickly after her, his face shifting back to his human visage as he ran easily beside her, the both of them keeping the Gentlemen's minion in their sight, an easy feat when chasing after a demon that seemed to have to lumber in its steps even when it had to make haste.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Riley cautiously entered the lowest level of the clock tower, his eyes taking a moment to adjust to the darkness of the chamber he had stepped into. Glancing around he cautiously began walking into the chamber, unaware that he was being watched from the darkness as he caught sight of a stairway and turned his feet towards it. He'd barely reached the stairs when he was jumped from behind by something strong, his body sprawling against the stairs he had wanted to go up, his rifle skittering across the floor away from him uselessly. Riley pushed himself away from the stairs and spun around to face what had rushed him and jumped back again. His hand reached down for his boot; closing around the handle of a baton.

Pulling it out of his boot he flicked his wrist sharply extending the collapsing baton to its full length as he started intently at the thing that had rushed him from behind. The demon closed the distance again, but this time was halted in its aggressive attack by the feel of the baton slamming against its head. Riley beat it across its prominent large head, before he swung the baton downwards, slamming it against the back of the demons leg. The blow knocked the demon to its back, Riley went to finish off the downed demon only to have a second demon jumped him from behind in much the same fashion as the first.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Tara raced up the stairs turning into a hall full of doors once again and immediately began banging on them urgently, her breaths escaping her in terrified gasps as she continued to look behind her, just waiting for the creatures that were chasing her to appear once again in the hall.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Willow, who was still awake doing research on the Gentlemen on her laptop as she sat on her bed, looked up from her computer as she heard the banging and the sound of quickly moving feet. She hesitated a short moment as she contemplated what to do, before she put her laptop aside and slowly got to her feet. Swallowing thickly as she hesitantly moved towards the door wondering what was happening out in the hall and not entirely sure that she wished to see it.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Tara pounded firmly at a door, determined to get the person inside to open up and let her in before the demons that were chasing her caught up to her once again. To her relief the door began to swing open and for a bright moment she thought that she was saved, only to see a third tall impeccably dressed demon standing in the door grinning at her horribly as it stood staring at her a bloody heart clutched in one of its long fingered hands. Tara stumbled back her eyes and mouth wide with horror. Seeing movement out of the corner of her eye, she looked back the way she came to see to her horror that the two that were chasing her with their loping lackey's coming up behind them. Upon seeing her however the two lackey's sped up, over taking their masters to do the grunt work of catching her for one of their scalpels. Turning swiftly Tara bolted down the hall making as much noise as she could manage.

She looked back over her shoulder to see how far or close behind her they were, just as Willow got the courage to open her door and step out into the hall to see what was going on. Tara who was still looking behind her slammed into Willow sending the both of them tumbling to the ground, their body's brushing against the door to Willow's door, forcing it to shut on them. Both girls scrambled up to their feet; Willow catching sight of just what Tara was running from hurried down the hall with her, the demons far too close for either of them to want to pause and try to open the door to the dead ended room that was Willow's door. besides the lackey's would probably just break down the door.

The two hurried down the hall as fast their legs could carry them; Willow limping slightly, having hurt her leg in the collision with the terrified blond. They made it to a staircase, this one leading back down the building. Quickly the two mounted the stairs and hurried back down, both of them wanting to put more distance between them and their pursuers. The lackey's hard on their heels as they moved after them as quickly as they could.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Riley managed to push away the demon that was holding him up against a row of barrels; pushing the demon away far enough to be able to effect a back handed punch to the demons face with the fist that was curled firmly around the baton he was using as a weapon. Riley was about to continue his assault on the demon when the first demon that had attacked him got back up to its feet and ran at him, slamming into Riley, slamming him up against a platform with one of its meaty arms. The two fell to the floor, Riley's baton slipping from between his fingers to go spinning across the floor far out of Riley's reach.

Looked around him, desperate for a weapon as the demon tried its best to pin him firmly to the ground, catching sight of his rifle that looked to be within his reach. Riley managed to pull his arm free and reached for the weapon, his fingers grasping at air as the tips of them brushed the weapon but not quiet able to close around it.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Buffy and Angelus ran after the demon that was heading straight for the clock tower. She saw the minion race through the door and she sped up her pace leaving Angelus behind for a moment as she moved with swift feet. Angelus watched her appreciatively his steps slowing slightly as he couldn't help but admire the way she moved, each of her movements graceful and strong.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Riley glanced away from the weapon as he heard the sound of feet entering the clock tower and his eyes widened at seeing a third demon entering the clock tower as he wondered just how on earth he was supposed to deal with three when he was having enough trouble with the two that had been here to begin with. He didn't have to wonder long though as a loud crash sounded. Buffy broke through a boarded up part of the wall, landing on her feet her eyes quickly taking in the demons in the room.

The minion that she had been chasing turned to face her and rushed at her seeing no other recourse now that she had found its masters hideout. Buffy blocked a blow it sent at her as Riley managed to get a grip on his weapon and rolls up to his feet as the demon that had been pinning to the ground had jumped off of him at the crashing sound. Buffy kicked the minion she had been chasing away from her, before turning her attention to another one of them that was rushing towards her. Bracing herself, Buffy thrust the demon away from her with a powerful shove using the demons own momentum against him as her shove sent the demon barrelling backwards and its back hit firmly against a wall, breaking an old shelve that had been mounted on the wall, the old wood easily snapping at being treated so roughly.

Riley spun as he felt something coming up behind him, using the butt of his rifle to club the demon powerfully in the head as the demon that had released him before, took notice of his again as moved to try and hold him once again, knocking the demon firmly to the ground. Buffy and Riley sensing movement behind them both spun around on their heels to face a movement that they considered a possible threat. Buffy swiftly unslinging the crossbow that had been slung over her back by the strap that was attached to it, raising it up to eyelevel, her finger resting comfortably over the trigger. Only to pause her eyes wide in shock and surprise as she stared at the end of an oddly shaped rifle, her gaze widening further as she looked swiftly beyond the weapon to see the man wielding the weapon. 'Riley?' She thought shocked, 'What was Riley doing here… carrying a gun?' She thought momentarily forgetting that she was in the middle of saving the town once again.

The moment stretched on for a long moment as the two continued to look at each other both as shocked as the other. Riley's hands wobbled on the weapon as his thoughts stemmed in the same fashion as Buffy's as he took in the wooden crossbow that was fully loaded with a quail… that was pointed directly at his heart. Angelus growled silently from where he stood watching, having entered through the door and watched Buffy moved, more than ready to jump in if she needed him to. Striding forward with a purpose, drawing both Buffy's and Riley's gaze, Riley began lowering his weapon, his senses becoming overwhelmed at not only seeing Buffy here, but her boyfriend as well.

Angelus reached them and with a quick movement that Riley didn't see coming but Buffy saw the whole of. Angelus grasped the gun Riley had dared to aim at his future mate. Bringing it up with a strong movement ramming the gun up slamming the weapon up into Riley's face. A sense of satisfaction filling him as he scented Riley's blood fill the air as it spill from his now broken nose. Riley fell to the floor and Buffy began lowering her crossbow as she gave Angelus a look that clearly said 'did you have to?' Angelus merely shrugged at her, his gaze going down to the boy, wishing more than ever to see the boy dead instead of just fallen to the ground, where he lay staring up at them dumbly still. Movement caught their attention and Buffy and Angelus quickly burst into movement again much to Riley's surprise. The two moved with a fluidness and grace that left him a bit envious of their agility as lay still stunned on the ground.

He saw Buffy hit one with the butt end of her crossbow, before she kicked out behind her at one that was lumbering up behind her, without so much as turning her head to face the demon that was trying to sneak up on her. Turning his gaze from Buffy he watched as Angelus was tackled by one and was sent sprawling to the ground, making Riley feel somewhat relieved that he wasn't the only one to have been knocked around by the demons, but it was a feeling that fled him quickly as no sooner had Angelus been knocked down, that he had kicked the demon off him, with so powerful a movement as to send the demon flying high in the air, before it came hurtling back down to land in what looked to be a quiet painful manner on the platform.

His breath caught in his throat as Buffy spun around to face him, her hazel gaze landing on him for a moment, before it looked beyond him and without hesitating a beat she raised the crossbow up and squeezed the trigger, freeing the bolt as it shot through the air and landed in something with a soft thunk. Looking in that direction his eyes widened at seeing that a forth demon that had made an appearance had been coming up behind him, before he could move, his gaze was drawn back to Buffy who had grabbed a rope that was dangling from the ceiling and swung herself at the demon that hadn't been as put off by the quail in its thigh like she had hoped. Her feet landed firmly in the demons chest, and Riley watched stunned into stillness once again as the demon was sent flying backwards, its back hitting against a thick post, breaking right through it to Riley's continued shock. The demon kept sailing backwards until it crashed against a shelf, breaking that as well, before it finally fell to the ground.

Riley watched Buffy completely stunned and awed as she released the rope and swung the crossbow off her back once again, unloaded. She used the crossbow to club a demon under the chin, forcing it to stumble back. Riley watched as Buffy was grabbed from behind and he glanced over at Angelus who had an angry sneer on his face that spoke of violence that he intended to dish out to the demon who was attacking his girl, but he was busy with a persistent one that didn't seem to want to stay down. Riley quickly rolled up onto his feet, his nose still throbbing as he raised his rifle up to his shoulder as the demon that had grabbed Buffy shoved her away, slamming her up against a wall. Buffy quickly rolled to face the advancing demon, her hands tightening around the crossbow that she hadn't let go of prepared to throw it at the demon to gain her some more time, but before she could the demon seemed to seize up for a moment, its hands curling and twitching before it fell to the ground, downed by an electric blast fired from Riley's weapon.

Buffy turned her gaze to Riley to see him holding his assault rifle still up to his shoulder, a small amount of smoke coming from the strangely tipped end. Buffy nodded her thanks briefly before she scrambled to her feet, her gaze going to Angelus to make sure that he was doing ok, a smile curling up her lips as she saw him pounding on the demon that had attacked him with a fury that almost made her feel sorry for the poor demon… almost.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Giles stood in the kitchen of his apartment his nose buried in a book as he stirred a cup of steaming tea, dropping the spoon to the table he picked up the mug and moved to exit his kitchen only to bump shoulders with Spike who was entering the kitchen. The peroxide blond having made his way over a little after nightfall, the fact that he was getting free food whilst staying here drawing him back every time despite how often he thought of wanting to leave the house that all the white hats frequented. He opened the fridge and grabbed out the novelty mug that he had been designated. Shutting the fridge door he brought the mug to his lips and quickly began gulping down the cold blood, to hungry to be bothered with heating it up. As he lowered the drained mug from his lips, his face hard with the ridges of the demon a blood moustache staining his upper lip.

He made his way out of the kitchen walking between the couch where Anya was sleeping soundly an open book laying across her stomach and the table, wanting to reach the free sofa. Just as he was walking past her Anya shifted in her sleep, rolling onto her side facing him, causing the book to fall to the floor. Spike hesitated a short moment, before he bent down and picked up the book. At that moment Xander entered the living room, his gaze going directly to Anya, who for a moment he thought was just sleeping peacefully, but in that moment Spike straightened up as he put the book on the table, his face still fully ridged and the blood still staining his upper lip. Spike feeling his gaze on him looked up at Xander who was giving him a look full of murder and for a moment he was confused until he looked down at the still sleeping Anya and realized what it must look like as he was still sporting the face of the demon.

Spike shook his head vigorously, mouthing the word 'no', before Xander raced towards him, Xander leaped over the couch waking Anya the action rocked the couch slightly. Xander tackled Spike, bring the shocked vampire to the ground where he began beating on him with an angry fire fuelled by the love that he had been hesitant to admit to Anya. Anya got to her feet watching as for a moment as her lover sat on Spike chest pinning him down as he continuously punched with his right fist as Giles and Olivia enter the living room from another part of the condo, both taking in the scene with surprised eyes. Anya stood and quickly moved to Xander and touched him on the shoulder a couple of times trying to draw his attention, when she finally did, Xander dropped Spike and jumped to his feet a relieved smile curling up his lips as he took Anya into his arms and kissed her deeply, before pulling back somewhat to look her over and check to see if she was really ok.

Anya gave him a puzzled look for a moment before shrugging it off, not caring as to what had happened between Spike and Xander only thrilled to see his affection for her so openly displayed. Spike got up shaking his head, before looking over at Xander and Anya that were still half embracing. Xander looked over at Spike a slightly guilty expression on his face for jumping straight down Spike's throat before shrugging as he turned his attention back to Anya. Spike rolled his eyes in annoyance as he gave his head a slight shake as he propelled himself completely to his feet. Olivia looked away from the couple for a moment as she smiled up at Giles, touched by the display of affection Xander had shown, before she turned her gaze back to the two and suddenly wished that she hadn't as Anya made a crude gesture with her fingers, clearing indicating that they should go off and have sex. Xander nodded and wrapped his arm around her slim shoulders and they head towards the door, leaving behind a room full of disgusted or in Spike's case disgruntled faces.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Tara and Willow made it off the flight of stairs; Tara now trying to help the still limping Willow along as they looked around for a place to go, their ears picking up the loud steps of the lackey's as they continued to chase them. Seeing a door up ahead of them the hurried towards that, moving as fast as they could whilst Tara had to help Willow move. They made it through the door and quickly locked it behind them no sooner had they locked it then one of the lackey's slammed up against the door trying to get at them. Both girl gasp with fear as the door shuddered against the impact, clearly not going to hold long against the lackey's brute strength.

Willow looked around the laundry room that they had locked themselves into, looking for anything that they could use to barricade the door. Seeing a soda machine in the middle of the room by a pillar, she hurried towards it. throwing her weight against it she tried to manually push it towards the door, Tara falling in beside her to try and help move thing machine, but it was too heavy for even the both of them to move even an inch, not even the adrenaline that was pumping through them helping. Willow gave up her chest heaving from the exertion, taking a step back only to put her weight on her injured leg, causing her to lose her balance and fall in a heap with a wince of pain. Tara going to her side, kneeling beside her hoping that Willow was ok. Willow glanced over at Tara for a short moment as she pondered whether it was a good idea to try what she was thinking of in front of Tara, before the lackey slammed up against the door again, breaking the glass pane of the door. The thought of dying at the hands of the demons looking to carve out their hearts making her decision for her.

Focusing her gaze on the soda machine she frowned in concentration as she stared at it intently. A short moment later the machine began to shake as Willow's magic tried to get it to move and she managed to move it a mere inch, before she had to stop exhausted from the mere effort of doing that much. Tara who had watched the whole thing, slowly reached out her hand and intertwined it with Willow's. Their gazes meeting and a clear understanding gripped them and as one they turned to look at the machine together, frowns of concentration on both of their faces and to both their surprise the machine practically flew across the room with hardly any effort at all this time as they worked together. The machine crashed against the doorway and they looked at it in relief for a moment, believing that they would be safe now with the soda machine barricading the door for them. They turned their gazes back to each other their hands remaining intertwined as they looked at each other, neither of them wanting to lose the connect that they were sharing in that moment.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Buffy ducked as one of the minions went to smash a barrel over her head. The barrel instead crashing over one of it comrade's head. Quickly straightening up Buffy grabbed the demon that was struggling to get the barrel off its head and threw him into the one that had wielded the barrel, before springing away to stand in the middle of the room. Glancing behind her when she felt movement behind her only to relax as it was Angelus coming to join her in the middle of the room. Her gaze landed on Riley who club a demon over the head sending it to the ground, he gave it another wack to be sure that it would stay down a bit longer.

Buffy looked away from Riley when Angelus touched her arm. Looking up at him questioningly, she saw him gesture towards something. Following his arm her gaze landed on a staircase where one of the minions where quietly trying to slip away to the upper level. Buffy turned her gaze back to Angelus. "Will you be right here?" She mouthed.

Angelus nodded as he elbowed one of the demons in the face, before turning to look at her again. "I'll be up as soon as I can." He mimed. Buffy nodded and quickly moved across the room heading for the staircase. Pausing just before she mounted the stairs she looked about the room again, her gaze focusing on Riley making sure that he was alright. Seeing that he was holding his own against his demon, she quickly moved up the stairs.

She moved passed the pendulum that was slowly swinging back and forth to the ticking of the clock. Making up to the top of the tower she slowed as she made it into the room, her gaze focusing on the table where seven jars were arranged in a circle around an ornate box, taking note of the fact that only two were left empty now. Buffy let out a silent startled cry as she was kicked from behind by one of the minions that had been waiting up on this level of the clock tower. Before she could fully regain herself three of the ugly minions surround her and take hold of her so that she couldn't move. She attempted to struggle, but paused in her efforts as she looked up to see three of the six Gentlemen standing before her; the tallest at the front of the three his hand delicately holding a scalpel.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Angelus looked from the demon he was wailing on as he heard a thump from above them and a moment later the scent of Buffy's fear reached his nose. It was a scent he would be able to pick up even in the midst of a herd of fungus demons. Glancing about the room once again, he hoisted the demon he was fighting off its feet before he threw it into two others that were advancing towards him. Laying up most of them for the moment Angelus made a quick run for the staircase, not caring in the slightest about the fate of Riley… who was dressed suspiciously like an Initiative operative.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Buffy stared at the approaching Gentlemen, fear clear to see on her face as the leader was bending towards her scalpel getting closer as she tried to struggle free of the three pairs of gripping hands that were successfully pinning her on her knees, her arms held out to the sides to expose her chest for the looming scalpel. She stilled though as the Gentleman with the scalpel paused, a look that could almost resemble surprise on its face, its hands floundered in front of him and for a second Buffy was concerned the scalpel would cut her by accident, but a second later the gentleman was thrown to the side taking the Gentlemen that had been floating on his right with him as they flew across the room. Buffy looked up at Angelus relieved, her heart beating easier in her chest at seeing him; knowing that he had saved her. Angelus winked at her before looking to the remaining Gentlemen, who was looking at him, not at all sure what to do, its hands fluttering at its sides.

Angelus didn't get a chance to do anything though as a blast of electricity hit him sending him flying back away from the two, drawing Buffy's and Angelus' gaze to the entrance by the stairs to see Riley standing there his gun still primed and aimed. Riley squeezed the trigger again, this time sending the blast of energy into one of the demons that were holding Buffy down, blasting it away from her, freeing one of her arms. Immediately Buffy struggled once again, wrestling free of the grips of the two remaining minions that couldn't contain her strength with only the two of them. Immediately she attacked the two, before ducking as a forth that had been coming over to replace the third that had been blasted away, threw a punch at her. Kicking out at it, she caught it in the stomach, before she backed both of the two that were in front of her.

Behind her Angelus stood still for a moment as did Riley as the two stared each other down for a moment, neither being able to help themselves as they sized the other up. Hearing a crash Angelus turned his gaze away from Riley his gaze searching out Buffy to see her struggling against three once again as they all worked together to try and throw her over a railing that was there to prevent people from falling down to the bottom level in amongst the bell and pendulum that was swinging back and forth. Angelus rushed towards her, whilst Riley attempted to fire another shot at the demons attacking Buffy only for his Rifle to malfunction on him. The demon that he had brought down before with a blast from his rifle came charging at him, forcing him to deal with it instead of attempting to help Buffy like he wanted to do.

Angelus punched one of the demons away, and Buffy having an arm once again free, used it to punch another of the demons forcing it away from her. Kicking away the last demon she straightened herself up and moved away from the railing they had been trying to force her over. The Gentlemen stood to the side their ever present grins still on their faces, but there was a worried look about them now as they watched the intruders fighting rather successfully against their minions. Angelus grabbed the one he had punched away from Buffy and sent it vaulting over the railing, it fell silently but there was a thonk as it hit against the swinging pendulum. Buffy ducked down avoiding a punch that was aimed for her head. Swinging her leg out she swept its legs out from under it, before she swung herself around and brought down her other leg down heavily on its gut.

Jumping back up to her feet Buffy turned towards the table that was almost like mini shrine with the canning jars placed around the table in a circle. Her eyes landed on the box in the centre… the same ornate box the little girl had been holding so carefully in her hands and she suddenly realized what she had to do to get her voice back! She made to reach for the box, only for one of the Gentlemen that had gotten ballsy and had been cautiously moving forward throughout the battle that were taking place around them. Scalpel in hand he sliced at Buffy from behind making her cry out in silent pain her hand recoiling from the box she had been reaching towards.

Angelus stiffened as he scented Buffy's blood in the air. Looking over at her as he fought to keep his face from changing, he was in time to see her reaching towards her back a Gentlemen retreating in its strangely graceful way, the scalpel it was holding shining wetly with the red of her blood on the blade. A moment later Buffy who was still stunned by the sudden pain in her back and the feel of the warm liquid seeping from her wound was tackled by one of the minions, thrown up against some ropes, before it grabbed her around the neck and shoulders from behind. Angelus growled silently, his eyes shining amber for a brief moment. He was about to go to her when two of the minions lunged at him, preventing him from going to her aid as they struggled to keep him at bay.

Riley spun at the sounds of commotion and saw Buffy who'd been a handful for three before was struggling to get away from one now. His gaze going to one of the Gentlemen as it moved back to the others the scalpel still bloody in its hand and his eyes widened in alarm as he turned his gaze back to Buffy completely unconcerned with Angelus as he fought against the two that had swarmed him. He didn't have long to just stand and be concerned though as another of the lackey's came at him. Using the butt of his gun he clubbed at the demon, sending it to the ground, but he knew that it would just end up getting up again. Buffy watched him fighting with demon as others closed in around him, she struggled with her captor that was trying to pull her away to somewhere she didn't know, but she wasn't going to go, not when she was so close to winning… if only she could get to that box.

Buffy struggled forward, sweat beading on her brow as she struggled against the demon, the drying blood crusting around the deep wound the scalpel wielding Gentlemen had given her. The demon threw her back up against the large spoon of rope, knocking the breath out of Buffy for a moment, before it grabbed her again and tried to drag her away, but Buffy clutched onto the spoon, her eyes focused on the box that was on the table. It was so close, but so far… there was no way that she would be able to reach it. Look around she saw Angelus battling his way towards her, throwing punches and kicks that would have seriously injured any other demon, but these ones just kept getting back up as if nothing could kill them. Her gaze went back to Riley who had wound a length of dangling rope around one of the demons neck, before clubbing it once again with the butt of his rifle. Letting the demon fall to the floor at his feet. Buffy banged her arms against the spoon of rope gaining both Angelus' and Riley's attention.

Buffy pointed to the table urgently curling one of her hands into a fist and bringing it down, struggling to keep her perch as the demon holding her pulled at her. Buffy watched hopefully as Riley seemed to get what she wanted as he moved towards the table in front of them quickly raising the gun high, she watched as he brought the gun down towards the table, only for her face to fall as he smashed a completely useless blue vial that was next to the box, that she had wanted destroyed. Riley frowned at the lack of approval from Buffy as she rolled her eyes in annoyance as she kicked back at the demon that was trying to pull her way. Trying again Buffy this time pantomimed opening a lid with her hands, for a moment Riley still looked confused, before his eyes lighted on the box that had been next to the vial. But the moment he realized what she wanted was the moment he was knocked off his feet as the demon he had taken down just before grabbed his ankle and yanked, sending his gun spinning across the floor. Buffy let her head fall against the spoon feeling defeated for a moment before she heard the scrape of metal against wood and she looked up to see Angelus picking up the gun, the two demons that were trying to waylay him hanging off him as he determinedly moved towards the table.

Buffy pantomimed the action once again, just in case Angelus hadn't been able to see it the first time she'd done it. Not there was much now to smash on the table. Buffy held her breath for a moment in anticipation as Angelus reached the table despite the Gentlemen's lackey's best efforts at keeping him away from the table. With a smooth quick motion Angelus brought the butt of the gun down, smashing it against the box, breaking the ornate wood box into small little pieces. Immediately hundreds of small misty clouds shot up into the air and began spinning about the clock tower, before most shot off out into the deepening night to find their owners. Buffy gasped as hers slipped back into her mouth, the feeling kind of strange as the mist slid down her throat and settled there. As all their voice returned the minions released them backing away in fear as their masters looked on with horror as well as the voices they had so carefully locked away escaped them.

Buffy looked around the clock tower for a moment taking in the room, everyone's gaze on her as Riley got to his feet a hand at his throat as his voice settled back into his vocal cords, a mere moment later Buffy took a deep breath and let out a calm, but long winded scream as she along with Riley and Angelus watched as the demons writhed on the floor in silent agony at the noise and the Gentlemen raised their long fingered hands to their ears trying to block out the deadly noise, but after a moment their arms fell back to their sides shaking uncontrollably as they lost complete control of their bodies. A moment later all three Gentlemen that were present stilled a fraction of a moment before their heads exploded.

Buffy grimaced as she raised a hand and wiped some exploded Gentlemen brain off her cheek, and picked another bit out of her hair, shaking her fingers gingerly to get the clingy bits off her fingers. She looked up as Angelus stood over her, his hand extended towards her. Buffy took it without hesitation, letting him pull her to her feet. "Where's Riley?" She asked, as she looked behind Angelus to where Riley had been when she had last saw him. Beyond glad that she could actually ask instead of just mime.

Angelus shrugged at this moment unconcerned about the boy's whereabouts. "Don't know, must have slipped off. How about we go get cleaned up?"

Buffy nodded as they began making their way out of the clock tower that was looking much worse for wear after their little visit. "Sounds good." She murmured as they descended the stairs.

Once they were outside Buffy took a deep breath glad that the smell of dead demon hadn't followed them outside… but after getting sprayed by demon bits she definitely felt the need for a long hot shower! Buffy glanced over at Angelus as they walked side by side, her hand still in his as they moved down the street heading towards his mansion. "So, there's this question that I've been meaning to ask you." She began keeping to the promise she had made to herself.

Angelus cocked his head towards her, a funny feeling settling in him that they were finally getting to the reason behind her sudden appearance at his mansion a few nights ago. "Oh?"

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

"So, what's all this?" Willow asked as she re-entered her dorm room to find Buffy looking over things that she had splayed out on her bed.

Buffy looked up at Willow as she came a little further into the room to stand beside her. "I'm trying to decide what to leave at Angelus'… I asked him if he'd mind giving me a drawer for some of my stuff last night."

"And he agreed?" Willow murmured a little timidly, not wanting to anger her friend.

Buffy nodded with a happy smile. "He said that I could have half the wardrobe if I wanted." She said, unable to help her excitement, even as Willow gave her a surprised look. "But I said a drawer was all I wanted. I mean things are nice… even great between us at the moment, but I'm not ready to move in with him… besides it's much easier to get to classes from here." Buffy rambled slightly as Willow's expression turned relieved, not having wanted Buffy to move out on her… especially when she knew just how hard it was to find a roomie that you didn't want to murder in their sleep.

"I'm happy for you." Willow said slowly, finding that she actually meant it for the first time in a long while. "Have fun sorting through that stuff." She offered, before turning to go out again.

Buffy looked over at her. "You going out somewhere?" She asked curiously.

Willow nodded a little nervously, not fully understanding where the nervousness came from, but still it was there. "Yeah, I'm just meeting up with someone. I'll be back a bit later though." She assured her friend before she turned and hurried out the door, closing it quickly behind her, before she moved off down the hall, not wanting to be late in meeting Tara.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Willow sat next to Tara in a University lounge area. "You were looking for me?" Willow murmured surprised and touched that she'd braved the night just to come see her.

Tara nodded nervously and a little embarrassedly as she bit her lower lip for a short moment. "I thought maybe we could do a spell… make people talk again." She admitted a little sheepishly, feeling her nervousness begin to ebb away as Willow smiled at her; silently encouraging. "I-I'd seen you in the group. The Wicca group you were… you were," Tara stuttered. "Different than them. I mean they didn't seem to know…"

"What they were talking about." Willow finished for her in full agreement with the pretty, shy blond.

Tara nodded a smile curling up her lips. "I think if they saw a witch they would run the other way." She murmured with a small laugh.

Willow curled herself up on the cushion of the chair she was in, drawing her legs up onto it. fully intending to settle in, excitement filling her at having finally found the real deal in amongst all the fakes and phoneys that dared call themselves Wiccans. "How long have you been practicing?" She asked.

"Always," Tara replied immediately. "I mean, since I um, was little… my-my mom used to, she um, had a lot of power, like you." Tara murmured as she looked up at Willow from beneath her lashes.

"Oh, I'm not much…" Willow flounder surprised and flattered by the compliment. "I don't have much in the way of power." She murmured and Tara smiled up at her. "Really," Willow tried to impress upon her new friend. "I mean most of my potions come out… soup. Also spells going awry, friends in danger… I'm definitely nothing special."

"No, you are." Tara assured her, looking Willow directly in the eye as she said it. Her gaze full of meaning and complete belief, before the moment passed and she looked away embarrassed by her unintended forwardness.

Willow smiled shyly at Tara touched by the belief she'd seen in her eyes. "Well, I thought we made a pretty good team… not getting killed and all." She said, drawing Tara's gaze back to her, the blond embarrassment forgotten almost as quickly as it had come. "With some soda machine, boom!" Willow exclaimed, not making too much sense in her excitement as she recalled how it had felt to be able to move the soda machine with Tara. "Pretty cool. Seems like you're kinda powerful." Willow complemented.

Tara shook her head immediately. "I'd like to be." She admitted. "I feel like I'm stuck. Like I'm at the door and it won't open."

"I know exactly what you mean." Willow murmured softly. The two meet each other's gaze again, their expressions friendly and open as they felt the beginnings of a bond of friendship forming between them.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Giles leaned back in his couch with Olivia curled up against his chest, his fingers stroking through her hair. The two of them alone for the moment, Spike having been shipped off back to Xander's the moment their voices had all returned to them. "So, would you say this was uh, your best visit ever?" He asked a little uncertainly.

Olivia was silent for a moment as she gather her thoughts. "All the time you used to talk to me about witchcraft and darkness and the like – I just thought you were being pretentious."

"Oh, I was. I was also right." Giles murmured his hand continuing to move over her hair gently.

"So everything you told me was true?" Olivia asked curiously.

"Well, no um," Giles muttered a little self-consciously. "I wasn't actually one of the original members of Pink Floyd. But the monster stuff, yes."

Olivia shivered slightly as she shifted a little closer to Giles warmth. "Scary." She murmured softy.

Giles hand paused over her hair. "Too scary?" He asked.

Olivia hesitated in giving her answer for a moment. "I don't know." She murmured truthfully, she had no idea if she could handle the kind of things that were in his life. Giles hand picked up its movements once again as he stared thoughtfully over his apartment, not really seeing it as he wondered where things would end up with them now.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Buffy stood over her bed still looking down at what she had left on her bed, the rest that had been sorted in a pile on the other side of her bed waiting to be put away once again. A small overnight bag on her bed now as well. She picked up a small bottle of perfume that she liked and placed it gingerly in the bag that already had something's in it, before she took it back out again and placed it back on the bed… completely undecided about adding it to the bag that was being filled with stuff that was going in her drawer over at Angelus' mansion once he cleared one out for her. There was a knock on the door and she glanced up to see it slowly opening as Riley peeked his head in a bandage covering his nose that was black and blue from the hit Angelus had given it with Riley's own rifle. "Hi." Riley greeted nervously as he opened the door fully and stepped in, taking her silence as an 'ok' to come in.

"Hi." Buffy replied her arms crossing under her breasts as she looked at Riley apprehensively, not sure what to expect from him, now that she had a good idea what he was.

Riley walked over and sat on Willow's bed, his hands clasped between his knees to keep them from fidgeting with the nervousness that he felt as he sat in front of the girl he liked. Buffy slowly sat on her bed, moving the overnight bag she was packing to the side so that she could do so. "Well, Uh, I was kind of hoping that we could talk."

Buffy was silent for a moment not sure what to do about the situation. "I guess that we probably should." She murmured carefully after a moment… wishing that she had Giles here beside her so that he could handle this instead… The silence stretched between them as both had no real clue what to say, both bound by secrecy that had their tongues tied in knots as they pondered what they could say and what they shouldn't… or if this conversation should be taking place at all…

A/N: Well, that's Chapter 10. I hope that you all enjoyed it. I didn't realize how much of a challenge it would be to write scenes where the characters couldn't actually use their voices. Please let me know what you think :)