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Disclaimer: These characters are Joss Whedon's. I'm just mashing their heads together like Barbie and Ken dolls.

"I said I was sorry!"

"Yes, I believe the current count is seventy-two apologies, and yet we still haven't seen light of day."

"Ha, ha, very funny, and - hello? Still night!" Buffy pointed at the sliver of starlight visible in the gap above them.

Giles simply rolled his eyes, bent, and held out his interlaced hands in order to give Buffy a boost. She braced her hands on his shoulders, put her foot into his hands, and glared at him as she leapt to the first outcropping. She'd made a couple of attempts from this shallow ledge, with no success. Giles had insisted she take a brief rest – though listening to him snipe had not been exactly restful.

"Well if you'd told me their blood could eat through rocks, I would have been more careful!"

"Do excuse me for ceasing to be a 'textbook with arms' while I'm fighting for my life!" Giles sighed heavily, and Buffy smiled, her cheek resting against the cave wall. She'd lay bets he was polishing his cracked eyeglasses. At least he was calming down a little.

"I'm sorry Buffy. You couldn't have known about the Haskari blood, or foreseen the possibility that enough blood pooled at the base of that…well, pillar I suppose you'd call it, would cause the cave entrance to collapse. I'm just glad neither of us got much on us. Both Buffy and Giles had multiple holes in their jackets and sweaters from stray blood droplets. They had been lucky. Very lucky.

"Yeah," she agreed, straining to reach the next handhold. After this one it always got tricky. If I could maybe find another place to put my foot. "It was a good idea about the layers."

"Yes, so shocking you took my advice."

She snorted, and kept working, leaving a part of her senses extended behind her,, listening for any danger coming to their position. She could hear when Giles plopped to the ground and sighed heavily. From long experience she could hear the frustration and impatience in his sigh. "Not as if you actually need me here," he muttered to himself.

That stung. "So, sorry," Buffy muttered bitterly, feeling around for a new notch to place her foot. "Too bad time just drags when you're with me," she sighed.

"I'm sorry, what did you say? I didn't quite catch it."

"Nothing." Fine. Go back to England. See if I care.


"I'm trying to concentrate!" Well, I am. "Could you shine your flashlight a little to the left?


"No big, just looking for another toe-hold. I'll have you home and tea-sippin' and tally ho pip pippin' in no time."

"What in the world are you talking about?"

"Jolly old England?"

"Buffy, –"

The light from Giles' torch flared wildly as he darted forward, unable to keep himself from trying to catch Buffy, who'd slipped for about the fifth time, though never from this high up, and tumbled down about 20 feet of crumbling earth and rock. She landed on one of a crumbled bit of cave wall, stumbled, and fell in an ungraceful heap on the ground. Giles heard an odd cracking sound, and scooped Buffy up, dragging her out of the way as a large chunk of the wall peeled away. They tumbled to a heap on the far edge of their refuge.

"Are you alright?"

Buffy smiled at the softness of his voice and the gentle flurry of his hands, checking her for injuries. She couldn't see his face very clearly, since the flashlight was on the ground, but didn't need to recognize his worry. His fingers skated over her scalp checking her head for bumps. It felt kind of nice, actually.

"I'm fine," she said, letting herself lean against his chest for a minute longer. "My ankle's not feeling too great, though."

"May I?"

"Knock your self out."

"Buffy, you nearly …"

"Hey, just kidding, okay?"

Giles shone his flashlight on the opposite wall. "That's quite a bit of rock that crumbled."

She looked over it and smiled shakily. "Looks like I do need you here after all."

The arm supporting her tightened, and his whisper was harsh with embarrassment and censure. "What did you say?'

"I said I do need you here, you big…leaving guy. Hello? Big pile of rocks nearly got me?"

In the dim light she could see his mouth twisting in a cynically rueful smile. "I should have known you'd hear me. I apologize. But it's hardly as if you need me to be your white knight."

"No! It's…it's just nice to…"

"Have me around? Like your favorite slippers? Faithful lap dog? Mr. Gordo?" He gently, but firmly disentangled himself, grabbed the flashlight and stood, striding all of three steps away. He turned his back to her, and examined their options for escape through the opening in the cave above them.

"Well, it seems as if we're trapped, still."

"Sorry you feel that way. Fine. Go ahead and go back to England. I won't stop you."

"Buffy, I mean – "

"I know what you mean, Giles! Sorry I got us trapped in here! Sorry you're trapped with me! Sorry you can't stand to be around me!"

He stood and stared at her a moment, then quietly walked back. "May I check your ankle?"

"Thanks," she said, grudgingly.

His fingers were gentle as they unlaced her sturdy boots and removed her sock. She fought to repress a little shiver as he cradled her ankle and rotated it slowly. Buffy whimpered softly.

"I'm sorry, just there?" His voice was gentle, precise. She nodded and he just knelt there, cradling her foot in both hands, fingers not moving, just holding her very carefully. "You know it's not true," he murmured roughly.

Incensed, she jerked her foot back, causing it to twinge painfully. Still wincing, she pulled on her sock and shoe. Giles reached out as she began to jerk the laces, one hand closing over her foot, and the other cupping her cheek.

"Buffy, that's not what I meant, and you know it. I know you're hurt. Don't tie it, just let the shoe support your ankle. "

She pulled her face away and glared up at him, wiping at her eyes angrily. "Then what? Tell me you're not planning on going home when this is over. You can't stand to be around me a moment longer than you have to."

"Buffy. That's enough."

"Oh, enough of what? Enough truth? 'Sorry, was that a bit – honest?' You're just here to bring those Potentials back and forth, and just came out here with me tonight because I practically begged you. You don't give a damn about how I'm doing, really. You're so disgusted about the whole Spike thing you can barely stand to look at me. You try to cover it over, but I can tell, you know. You can hardly stand to be in the same room with me." She laughed wildly, "Well, you're stuck with me now! Nothing like a cave-in for togetherness!"

"Buffy," Giles leaned forward and grabbed her upper arms. "Stop it."

"Or what, Giles? 'Stop it or I'll leave?'" She laughed bitterly, her voice rising in a mocking shout. "You can't! We're trapped! Don't worry though, as soon as I can crawl or climb dig us out of here you can – "

"For once in your life, be quiet!" He thundered, his hands biting into her upper arms.

"No! Not if you're going to leave again without telling me why!"

He jerked her up until their faces were a breath apart in the near-darkness. "Tell me why you want me to stay," he growled, shaking her a little.

Buffy raised her chin stubbornly, "Quit manhandling me," she said coolly, "You know I can take you."

"Then why don't you?" he hissed.

Buffy surged forward and kissed him, hard. Giles released her arms, his hands falling to her waist, and she grabbed him by his jacket lapels and pulled him closer. He shifted and hauled her with him, pulling her to sit in his lap. Buffy wound her legs around his waist.

Hands fisted in his hair, she pulled his head back, kissing and nipping down the long column of his throat. Giles' hands tightened on her hips, his breath coming in ragged gasps.

"Why?" She whispered harshly, her breath hot against his neck. "Why didn't you tell me?"

"Would you have wanted to know five months ago? Were you ready to hear it? Did you have feelings for me then?"

Buffy leaned back and looked into his eyes, rage leaching out of her. "Not-not like this. I just knew I didn't want you to go. I didn't know why."

"That's why I didn't say, or didn't stay – you needed the time." he said, dipping to capture her lips. She jerked her head back, keeping her mouth out of reach. He cupped her bottom and pulled her closer, settling her squarely against him. She gasped.

"Why now?" She said breathlessly, the smile audible in her voice. Buffy tightened her legs around Giles' waist, pushing herself against his erection, and it was his turn to gasp.

"You, uh, seem to be ready?"

Buffy's laugh was full throated and joyful, and her kiss was bright and carefree as she scrambled out of his arms and limped over to the fallen rock wall. "Get the flashlight over here."


She turned around and grinned at him. "You have no idea how ready I am. Let's go home."

Giles was on his feet and at her side in a moment. He gazed up at the cave entrance, above them, then down at Buffy and her badly sprained ankle. She needed time to heal. "There is a house full of children at home."

"And a vampire in the basement."

"There is that," he said mildly. "And for the record, not disgusted. Jealous as hell. Stop grinning like that."

"Like what?"

"Like that. I tell you, it's rather frightening."

"Oh yeah?" Buffy grinned a little wider, limped closer and leaned against his chest. "Make me."

Giles demonstrated a grin of his own. "You don't mind staying a bit longer?"

"Mind? We have no choice! We're trapped, trapped I say!"

"It doesn't feel that way," he said as he drew her away from the crumbled wall.

"No, that latest crumble has given me hand and footholds that look nearly as easy as a ladder.

"That's not what I meant." He said as he shrugged out of his coat and lay it on the cave floor. Buffy threw hers down on top of it and looked up at him shyly.

"I know."
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