A/N: Thank you for your feedback! Hope you enjoy this!

Chapter Sixteen

Despite Giles' weakened state, when Buffy untied him him the first thing he did was stagger over to Ethan. The latter chaos worshipper was just beginning to stir from unconsciousness, which Giles fixed with a sharp blow with his fist to Ethan's face. There was a cracking noise as Ethan's nose broke.

"Wanker," Giles spat, drawing a chortle from Spike.

"You show him, Rupes."

"Buffy, can I use your phone?" Giles said. Buffy nodded and pulled her phone from her pocket, handing it over. He dialed a number quickly and then rattled off a string of numbers.

"I have Ethan Rayne here," Giles said. He told them the address and then added, "This time let's make sure he's taken care of, shall we? Yes, thank you."

He hung up and Buffy asked, "Was that the council?"

"Yes," Giles said. "It's the only real way to contain him other than killing him."

Willow and Tara returned to the room and Willow said, "The mark is done-zo."

"Good," Giles said. "That is very good."

"You really think the Council is the right way to go here?" Spike said. "Weren't they the ones who had him in the first place?"

"This time I will insist a course other than rehabilitation," Giles said, his voice gravelly. "Because clearly, he is beyond rehabilitating."

"Should we do something?" Buffy asked, glancing back at the unconscious villain. "You know, in case he wakes up?"

Giles rubbed his bruised wrist and said, "I have a vague idea."

Ethan came to consciousness and found himself tied to the same chair that Giles had been a mere hour earlier. He strained against the restraints and Giles said, "You'll find those nice and tight."

Ethan chortled. "Very nice, Ripper. Don't think the irony is lost on me, here."

"The Council will be here any minute to take you to your cell. It may not be to your usual liking, but the wrought-iron bars have their own sort of charm."

Ethan laughed again, his face twisting. "You think you've beaten me, don't you? But that's where you're wrong. You will never beat me, Ripper. You will never beat me because-"

Buffy cut him off, walking around from the back where she stood and forcing a piece of masking tape over his mouth. She had found it with some other random supplies he had in the warehouse and she lamented, "He's really a talker, isn't he?"

"One of his many flaws," Giles agreed.

"How much longer until the Council gets here?" Buffy asked, rubbing her stomach after it growled loudly. "I believe my hunger just spoke for itself."

"They should be here soon."

Buffy nodded, leaning against the wall. It was just her and Giles there in the warehouse, the others out in town looking for Oz. Their conversations had been mainly topical since they got Ethan tied up in the chair. Buffy didn't want to admit how scared she had been about him, and Giles didn't want to admit how close her fears were realized.

Giles leaned down to pick up the roll of masking tape and winced as pain ripped through his side. Ethan had experimented with a knife there, seeing how loud Giles could scream. Buffy was at his side immediately, helping him to stand. She led him over to the wall and he braced his hand on it, straightening up.

"Thank you," he said in a tight voice, gritting his teeth in pain. One of the wounds had ripped open a bit, and blood stained his shirt. Buffy took in his disheveled form and felt rage build in her chest. She turned back to Ethan who was watching them with an unreadable expression. She bound over to him and drove her fist into his face. She did it again. And again. She did it until her knuckles burned, and she probably would have kept going if Giles hadn't taken a hold of her arm, gently pulling her away from Ethan's prone body.

"Buffy, I think that's quite enough."

She turned into him, sobbing against his shoulder. He slowly put his arms around her, murmuring, "What in the world…"

"You aren't allowed to disappear like this again, okay?" she said, looking up at him. "You're-you're not allowed."

"Buffy, this was hardly my choice, you know."

"You're the closest thing I have to a parent here," she said, lower lip trembling again. "And … and just promise you won't disappear again."

He smiled softly, nodding. "I'll do my best."

"Look at this place," Spike said, shaking his head as they walked through Sunnydale. "It's a mess. Suppose that's the point of a chaos spell, though."

"How haven't we found him yet?" Willow said, glancing around the street anxiously. "We should have found him by now."

"He's probably hiding," Tara said. "You know, considering how he is after the change…"

"Oh God, what if he's hurt?" Willow interjected. "He could be hurt and-"

Willow's phone rang and she pulled it out of her pocket, answering it quickly. Xander was on the other line and she felt her stomach untwist as he told her that him and Anya had Oz at Buffy's house.

"Good news?" Tara guessed.

"Oz is at Buffy's," Willow said, smiling in relief. "They found him on their way back or something. Apparently there's a bigger story there, but Xander insists on telling it in person. He said it involves visuals."

"I like the sound of that," Tara said.

"Not if Harris' at the pen," Spike said. "So, head back then?"

"You really should have one of our medics look at you," one of the Council Watchers said, glancing at Giles' injuries as the others attended to Ethan. Buffy stood at the side, overseeing everything.

"I'm fine," Giles said. "Right now let's just worry about that diabolical man being put behind bars and staying there."

"Of course, Giles," the man said, nodding. "You know that is of our utmost concern."

"It better be," Giles said. "I've been bothered by this man more times than I care to remember." He glanced at Buffy and said, "We all have."

"We assure you, he will not be compromised again."

"He better not," Buffy said. "Because next time, we won't go through the nice channels. It'll be Ethan meets the nice pointy end of Buffy's crossbow arrow."

The man attempted to remain unaffected by her proclamation, but she noticed the edges of his mouth tug at a smirk. "Understood. We won't bother you two any further."

Buffy watched them leave, Ethan in a full straight jacket. She turned back to Giles and said, "He wasn't entirely wrong, you know. A hospital might not be a bad idea."

Giles shook his head. "I just want to go home. I've had enough poking and prodding for a lifetime."

"Yes, but their poking and prodding at least comes with a license."

Giles smiled slightly. "While I appreciate your concern, I truly am fine."

"Alright," Buffy relented. "But we're going to check in on you constantly. It'll be the Scooby watch."

Giles shook his head, but his tone was affectionate as he murmured, "I would expect nothing less."

Oz was dressed in some of Xander's old clothes that he had pulled from the back of the closet. The bowling shirt hung loosely on his smaller frame and the pants barely stayed up. When Willow and the rest returned he looked up at them guiltily, particularly Willow who he could barely look at.

"Can we have a moment?" Willow asked, looking around at the others. They nodded, shuffling into the other room. Dawn lingered, fascinated by the exchange, but Spike took a hold of her elbow and pulled her out with the rest.

"Oz," Willow said softly, sitting next to him on the couch. He kept his eyes trained on his lap as he said, "I am so sorry, Wil."

"Hey, it's not your fault," she said gently, reaching over and laying her hand on his arm. He pulled away from her touch.

"I could have hurt you," he said. "I mean, I could have killed you."

"Oz, none of this is your fault," she told him. "It was the spell. It reduced you to your basic instincts. For most that's just being a bit more selfish than usual. For you, it meant getting all wolf-ey."

"I killed someone," Oz said, his voice strained. "Or maybe more, I don't know what really happened. When I came to, I was covered with blood."

"Oh, Oz…"

"How do I come back from that? How…"

He trailed off, at a loss for words. Willow scooted closer and put her arms around him, holding him tight as he sat there wordlessly. After a moment his hand grasped her arm.

"You did nothing wrong," she repeated, voice steadfast. "It was the spell. All of this was the spell."

"But I did it. I killed them."

"No," she said, reaching up and forcing his gaze to hers. "This was not you, do you understand? The wolf is not you, Oz. It's not you."

Spike waited for Buffy to return, each moment feeling like an eternity. He knew nothing else would run amiss after the Council arrived, but he had other things on his mind. His thoughts went back to Ethan running the blade along his lips, his tongue darting out to taste the sweetest nectar he had ever been unlucky enough to sample.

He had tasted her blood. Not even a single penetration of his fangs, and he could already feel the shift in the union. He felt it the moment she walked into the house, his body coursing with desire and need. He heard her talk with her friends for a bit. Xander relayed the story of his and Anya's near-death with the same excruciating detail as earlier. It was disturbing how the boy could take a simple story into a thirty minute saga. It seemed to be ages before Buffy padded up to her bedroom, surprise filling her eyes when she saw him sitting on her bed.

"I was wondering where you were," she said, closing the door behind her. His gaze went to her neck immediately.

"Had enough togetherness for one day," he said, eyes drawn back to hers. "That lot isn't too bad, but every man has his limits. How's Giles?"

"Back home," Buffy said. "I tried to convince him to stay here tonight, but he was having none of it. He should be fine, though. I figure out chaos demon attack for the week is probably all we'll get."

"Yeah, I reckon so."

She sat down next to him on the bed and pulled of her shoes. She exhaled loudly and at up straight, arching her back as she stretched. His eyes followed the curve of her waist up to the slender chalice beneath her chin. He found himself leaning forward instinctively, tongue sliding along his bottom lip. She glanced over at him and gave him a look.

"What are you doing?"

He jerked back and stammered, "Nothing. I was…uh…nothing."

She smirked and said, "Uh huh, I know what you were going for there. Not a chance in this world or the next."


"I'm beat," she said, scooting back onto her bed and stretching out. "So, no smoochies tonight."

"Oh, right," he said, a bit slow on the recovery. "That's just…way to ruin a vampire's night."

She grinned. "You could stay if you want."

He was tempted. Her body was warm and it had always been a fantasy of his to sleep with the Slayer in her bed. After this evening though, there was no way. In the dark with his senses heightened, he couldn't trust himself.

"I think I'll go it alone, pet. Don't want to be a distraction."

"Alright," she said yawning wide. "Patrolling tomorrow night?"

"Yeah," he said, thinking a spot of violence may help. "I'll see you then."

Knowing she would think something was off if he didn't kiss her goodbye, he leaned down and gave her a quick peck on her forehead. He was out of her room before she could question him.

A/N: Bit of a filler admittedly - but it leads to more! Next big arc of the story is coming up :D