Dawn woke up slowly, stretching as she frowned at her alarm clock. “The alarm is off, so why am I awake before seven o’clock on a Saturday morning? That’s not right at all. I’m supposed to sleep in, because there’s no school.” She groaned, pulling the sheets over her head. “And no school means I don’t have to face Mark.”
In response, Hedwig dropped a t-shirt and a pair of jeans on Dawn’s head.
“Hey!” Dawn pushed the sheets and clothing off her face. “I know it’s not how they did things in your day, but in my day, it’s perfectly normal and natural for a teenager to stay in bed all day on a Saturday if she wants to.”
The covers were stripped off the bed without ceremony or warning, and the mattress was lifted just enough to roll Dawn onto the floor. “Ow! No fair!” The blue jeans and shirt were dropped on Dawn’s head again, and she aimed a grouchy face in Hedwig’s presumed direction. “Fine! I get it! You want me up and moving. Geez! Everyone else in the house gets to brood when they have romantic trouble. I don’t see why I can’t either.”
Hedwig picked up a pillow and waved it in a threatening manner.
“I’m outta here.” Dawn left her bedroom with a dignity that was marred by a sudden burst of ghostly wind that forced most of her hair over her face. She stopped at the stairs long enough to shoot a dirty look back at the room before heading down to the bathroom.
Fergus lay next to a gravestone, grunting and snorting in his dreams. Beside him was an unlabeled, empty bottle, with a small pool of liquid collected in a leaf beneath the lip. An ant paused at the leaf, its antennae twitching. After a few minutes, it took a cautious drink.
It was unconscious within seconds.
She paused at Buffy’s door, indecision on her face, before finally opening it to take a look. Dawn stared at the empty bed for a full minute, her breath coming more quickly and unevenly. “The bathroom. She’s just in the bathroom. It’s not like she’s a complete invalid, you dork. Just check the bathroom, and you’ll find her there. No way could Ethan have snatched her again. Not with the CoWboys on the job.”
For a long moment, Dawn continued to stand in the doorway, studying the empty room. “On the other hand, maybe Hedwig kicked me out of bed because something’s wrong.” She bit her lip. “No. She’s just tired of listening to me talk about Mark. That’s it. I’m sure of it,” she said uncertainly.
Dawn turned and walked hesitantly to the bathroom door. She put her ear next to the door, but she heard nothing. “Buffy? You in there?” she called out softly. Turning the doorknob slowly, Dawn spoke again in a slightly louder voice, “Buffy? Hedwig kicked me out of bed. On a Saturday. That’s like…” She pushed the door open as she finished with, “…a slaying offense, right?”
Her breathing quickened and she pushed into the empty bathroom. She gave a panicked glance to the tub and shower and then rushed to the door to Giles’ room, shrieking his name at the top of her lungs as she charged through.
Dawn’s scream shattered the morning calm, causing Giles to sit up quickly enough to tumble Buffy off the bed. She landed at Dawn’s feet with a thump and a muttered curse. Dawn shrieked again and dropped her clothes on Buffy’s head.
Giles looked around desperately, trying to catch sight of the danger. “What is it?”
Working to untangle herself from the dangling sheets and the clothing, Buffy knocked into one of Dawn’s legs, causing her to fall as well.
“Buffy? You’re here! You’re not gone!” She launched herself onto her big sister, pinning her to the floor.
“Where is it?” Giles continued to look around, even as he fell off the other side of the bed.
“Of course I’m here,” Buffy grumbled. “Get off! Your knee is right in my…”
“You’re here!” Dawn’s eyes grew large. “You’re here. In Giles’ room.”
“Who’s here?” Giles tried to stand, but his foot slipped, and he landed on his butt again.
Buffy managed to shift Dawn enough so that she could get free of both her sister and the bed sheets that threatened to keep her tangled for the remainder of the morning. As soon as she caught sight of Dawn’s face, she spoke quickly. “It’s not what you think.”
“Buffy? Is that you? Is Ethan attacking?” Giles crawled back onto the bed, peering myopically at the pair.
Dawn sat back slowly. “You slept with Giles!”
“What?” Giles backed off the bed, this time managing to keep his feet under him as he reached for his glasses on the nightstand. “She didn’t…”
“Okay, it is what you think, but we only slept,” Buffy said.
Her attempt to forestall Dawn was a failure. “You slept with Giles! You said you weren’t going to do that yet!”
Blinking rapidly, Giles looked down and turned quickly when he realized just how much his pajama bottoms were gaping open. He blushed furiously as he straightened out his nightwear, saying, “What on Earth are you talking about? Buffy and I haven’t slept together.”
Buffy stood, helping Dawn up at the same time. “Um, yeah, we did. But it was sleeping-sleeping, not se… Um. Not the unsleepy sleeping together.”
Willow and Xander entered at a run, stopping short of plowing into Buffy and Dawn, both demanding, “What’s wrong? What happened?”
“That’s what I’d like to know,” Giles said, looking bewildered. Suddenly alarmed, he added, “Dear lord. The CoWboys. If they heard Dawn’s shriek, they’ll…”
“Mr. Giles!” Willow and Xander were abruptly slammed forward into Buffy and Dawn, and the four of them landed in a heap on Giles’ bed. The bed frame on that side collapsed, and the four slid down toward the feet of the two security members who had rushed into the room. The taller of the pair reacted quickly, jerking her partner back into the hall before they were caught up in the general chaos on the floor.
His hands on his hips, Giles shouted, “Enough!” When the group on the floor stopped struggling to stare at him, he continued, “Margaret, you and Harold may return to the front lawn. Whatever is happening here has nothing to do with Ethan.”
Margaret looked uncertain. “Are you sure, sir?”
“Absolutely. Please…” he made a shooing motion with his hands. “Just go. This is a family matter.”
Clearly skeptical about the wisdom of the order she’d been given, Margaret moved down the hall then returned to tug her partner along with her. Harold gave a startled yelp before he reluctantly turned to follow his team leader back out of the house.
Giles looked at Willow and Xander as they stood up, both clumsy in their efforts to disentangle themselves. “You two, out,” he said, pointing at the door.
“But…” Xander put his hand over Willow’s mouth to prevent her from saying anything more. He nodded at Giles and backed the two of them out of the room as quickly as he could manage.
As the two headed down the hall, he whispered to Willow, “Come on. Giles said it’s a family thing.”
Willow pouted. “We’re family!”
“I know, but I think we should be dancing for joy that we’ve been excused from this particular family thing. Did you see…”
As their voices faded, Giles turned to Dawn. She stood there in her pajamas, her hair in a tangled mess, looking mildly embarrassed by all the fuss. “Perhaps you could explain why my bed is broken?” He spoke gently enough, but Dawn flinched away from the look on his face.
Dawn offered an innocent look. “Because a bunch of people just fell on it?”
Giving up, she said, “I went into Buffy’s bedroom this morning to… you know… to check on her.”
After a long pause, he asked, “Forgive my ignorance, but how does that explain why my bed is broken?”
Buffy started inching toward the bathroom door, and without looking at her, Giles said, “Not another step, Buffy. Not until I know why I have to shop for a new frame today. Pray, continue with your explanation, Dawn.”
Dawn swallowed hard. “A… and then I thought maybe she was in the bathroom.”
Though Buffy cast a longing look toward the bathroom door, she stayed put.
When Giles said nothing, Dawn continued, “She wasn’t in there, so I… I called out for you.”
Giles held up his left hand to pause her narrative. “An accurate description of events is vital, Dawn, especially if you eventually decide to become a Watcher…”
“You want to be a Watcher?” Buff y asked as she stepped forward quickly, looking equal parts proud, alarmed and amazed.
“And the accurate description of your reaction to not finding Buffy immediately is that you screamed your bloody head off, causing me to wake suddenly from an extremely pleasant dream.” Giles gave her a very direct look.
Dawn ignored him in favor of Buffy’s question. “Well, maybe. I’ve kind of been talking to Percy about it on email. He’s just so… well, you know what he’s like. He just gets it. And he knows so much about everything and he makes being a Watcher seem so cool.” She smiled enthusiastically at her sister.
“I’m not cool?” Giles asked, hurt.
Dawn looked worried. “Oh! Oh, no! Not that! I mean, sure Giles. You’re cool. You’re like the coolest Watcher ever! It’s just that Percy, well…”
“Never mind,” he interrupted. “I’ve clearly lost another woman’s heart to Percy’s charm and wit.”
“But hey, he totally respects you.” She turned back to Buffy. “Percy’s the one who said I should talk to Giles about it, so I did.”
“When did this happen?” Buffy looked from one to the other.
“Dawn approached me Wednesday night,” Giles said absently. He frowned slightly as he added, “But that isn’t the…”
“I don’t remember that,” Buffy said, staring at Giles.
“It was the night you fell asleep on the couch while Giles was singing… um…” Dawn broke off and looked at Giles. “What were you singing that night?”
“Er, Wednesday? I don’t…”
Dawn interrupted him. “Never mind. After a while, all those ancient love songs start to sound alike, especially since you’re making him sing every one that’s ever been written…”
“I am not making him…”
“Anyway, Giles had to carry you up to bed,” Dawn continued quickly. “When he came back down, I asked, he answered.” She looked at Giles out of the corner of her eye and added teasingly, “It was cool.”
Buffy looked at her. “You’re sure about this? Being a Watcher, I mean. You could do anything you wanted. You don’t have to…”
“Excuse me!” Both sisters turned to Giles, and he said, “We were talking about why my bed is broken and why Dawn is under the impression that you and I had se… er… slept together last night.”
“When I came in here, Buffy fell off the bed.” Her eyes grew wide again, and she pointed her finger at him. Sounding outraged, she demanded, “She fell off your bed, mister, and I want to know just what your intentions are toward my sister!”
Giles was taken aback by the sudden vehemence in Dawn’s voice. “You want to… What?" He stepped back and then turned to the other woman in his room. "Buffy? What is she talking about? I distinctly remember leaning over to give you a goodnight kiss after you fell asleep in your bed last night.”
Blushing slightly, Buffy looked at him apologetically as she started to babble. “I had a dream. It was kind of freaky so I came in here to make sure you were still here and I was still here and your bed looked so comfy that I figured sitting down wouldn’t matter much and the next thing I knew you were having a nightmare about hokey-pokey and you held onto me like I was your own personal teddy bear and…”
“Wait!” When Buffy stopped speaking, Giles continued, “At least let me sort out what you just said so I can catch up to you.”
Dawn, her eyes bright with amusement, said, “That’s easy. She had a bad dream and came in here so you could protect her.” To Buffy she added, “I don’t think you took a single breath during that. I’m impressed, and I can’t wait to tell Willow you broke her record.”
With that, she turned and made her escape, not even pausing when she heard Buffy’s desperate squeak.
Fergus woke up and groped for the bottle he’d been drinking from. Taking it in hand, he tilted it up into his mouth, not realizing immediately that there was nothing left. When he did notice, he gave the bottle a mournful look. “And you’ve left me, too, now. ‘Tis a sad, sad day when a…” Abruptly alert, he sniffed the wind. “Single malt, Highland blend… no, no blends, if I don’t miss my guess. Too bad there’s naught but Scottish whisky, but beggars can’t be choosers.”
He stood up, swaying just a bit before catching the scent again. He straightened his shoulders and coat then marched in the direction of the alcohol, determination straightening his spine.
In the kitchen, Dawn finished telling Xander and Willow what happened as she ate her breakfast. “And now I have to go back to my room to get more clothes, ‘cause I dropped my other ones in Giles’ room, and there’s absolutely no way I’m interrupting that conversation.”
“They really slept together? In the same bed?”
“For the third time, Xander, yes,” Willow said, sounding impatient. “It’s not like we couldn’t see this coming.”
“And pushed for it.” Dawn stabbed at her eggs.
“Frankly, I’m kinda surprised it hasn’t happened already this week with all the ‘training,’” Willow punctuated the word with finger quotes, “that’s been going on. I only know for sure that it hasn’t because Buffy hasn’t started giving off that glow yet. She’s only got the anticipatory glow going.”
“But is now really the time to start glowing?”
Willow patted his shoulder. “Did you honestly expect they would wait until everything was perfectly quiet and normal before they… you know…” She stopped abruptly and turned back to Dawn. “Oh god… You do know, right? I mean, we’re not going to have to talk about this, right?”
“Puh-lease! I’m 17!” Dawn rolled her eyes. “Anyway, Spike talked to me about sex the summer Buffy was… um… dead.”
Xander’s mouth dropped open. “Spike told you the facts of life?”
Dawn sighed. “Xander…”
“That bastard. If he hadn’t burned up saving the world, I’d…”
“Dawnie, please tell me Spike didn’t teach you about… stuff,” Willow said, sounding worried.
“No way,” she said dismissively. “I learned about sex in health ed class before Mom died, and she talked to me about the whole find-someone-to-love deal. Spike just filled in a few details about what they don’t teach…” She stopped speaking when Xander and Willow turned twin looks of horrified fascination on her. “But that isn’t important right now. I think the two of you missed the part where I said they just slept. Nothing more.”
Willow blinked and shook her head. “No. We caught that part. We’re just…”
“Maybe we didn’t actually catch that part long enough to absorb it,” Xander said. “And now that I think about it, we should have known nothing happened, right?” He looked to Willow for help.
“Right! Because tonight's the night!"
Xander looked up at her, surprised. "Tonight?!"
"Haven’t you been listening to the muttering all week about tonight?" Dawn interjected.
"I remember hearing them talk, but it’s just another date, right? Nothing special with…" Xander’s voice trailed off as he looked up to find both Dawn and Willow looking at him with pity. He shook his head. "I don't think I'm ready for it to be tonight."
"Well get ready, because that anticipatory glow Buffy's got going is going to ignite if she doesn't, well, you know, and soon." Willow frowned thoughtfully. "She didn’t change glows, did she? I mean, if they had gone ahead and decided to, um, change the big night, Buffy would have said something yesterday. Warned us.” She looked at Dawn and Xander for support. “Right?”
“Absolutely.” Xander sat back in his chair, looking relieved. "It hasn't happened yet." He grinned at his friend. “Anyway, it was quiet last night. Didn’t we figure on both of them being pretty loud in the moment?”
Dawn brought her toast to her mouth, but she dropped it on her plate in favor of looking at both of them like they were insane. “You two have talked about what Buffy and Giles will sound like when they have sex?”
“I wouldn’t put it exactly that way,” Willow said, looking to Xander for support. When he shrugged, she sighed and shrugged too. “Okay, maybe I should put it that way. It’s just…”
Xander picked up the sentence when Willow trailed off. “It’s just… It’s good to be prepared, right? That’s why I stocked up on supplies to soundproof their rooms.”
“And if that’s not enough,” Willow said happily, “I have spells!”
Her mouth open in disbelief, Dawn looked from one to the other before saying, “You two are weird beyond the telling of it. I’m going upstairs to take a shower and get dressed.” She stood and headed toward the front hall, saying as she left, “You’d better not let them know you’ve been planning like this. Soundproofing is so totally unromantic."
Willow looked at Xander for a moment. “Do you think that maybe I should just go ahead with that silencing spell now?”
“Oh yeah, because if you don’t, I’m gonna have to learn magic to take care of it myself.” Xander stood up. “Soundproof both rooms today. And the bathroom too,” he said seriously as he headed for the living room.
It hadn’t taken long for Fergus to find the house with the good stuff once he left the cemetery. Large and imposing, it looked exactly like the sort of place that might have a goodly supply of the elixir of life. He straightened his cap and made his way to the property.
When he detected the warding, he paused to sniff the air, diving for a bush just as he caught sight of cold, hard iron.
Giles looked at his broken bed. “There’s no help for it. I’m going to have to make a stop at the mall to get a new frame today.”
“Why?” Buffy’s question was abrupt, and Giles looked up surprised. “Today’s Saturday, remember? Our special night is tonight. No reason to buy a new frame just yet.” She smiled seductively as she stepped toward him and caressed his bare chest. She continued huskily, “We talked about that place in Eugene, remember… the bed and breakfast? Margaret’s gone to a lot of trouble to make sure we’ll be safe there.”
Giles stared down at her as he captured her hand and held it against his heart. “I remember,” he said in a soft voice. He put his other hand on her hip and drew her close, smiling at her as they drew close to each other.
Her breathing speeding up, she said teasingly, “Just so you know, I wouldn’t want to push you into anything too fast.”
He pushed his hips forward. “Does it seem as though I’m in the slightest bit reluctant?”
She reached up with her free hand and pulled his head down for a long, lingering kiss before murmuring, “Nope. In fact, so not in the slightest.”
Fergus crept cautiously along the porch, his eyes darting back and forth as he approached the front door.
Freshly showered and dressed, Dawn paused when she heard soft noises coming from Giles’ bedroom. She covered both ears as she hurried past to get to the stairs. At the bottom landing, she gasped when she caught sight of a long thin arm reaching through the keyhole.
Giles pulled away from the kiss, frowning a bit. “By the way, I seem to recall that you and I are supposed to have a conversation this morning about your pouting.”
Buffy gave him a look of wide-eyed innocence as her hand drifted down his stomach and past the waistband on his pajamas. “We are?”
Dawn looked around quickly then grabbed the baseball bat that stood near the door. She lifted it overhead, bringing it down hard on the arm with a loud karate shout. At the answering yelp from outside, she yanked open the door to find… nothing.
Buffy froze at the sound of Dawn’s yell. “That didn’t sound good.”
“No, it didn’t,” Giles said on a sigh. “Let’s go have a look, shall we?”
He grabbed a t-shirt and a robe off a nearby chair. Handing the robe to Buffy, he shrugged on the shirt as they started down the hall.
Margaret gave Dawn a long-suffering look from the front walk. “Another problem, Miss Summers?”
Dawn looked around the porch, her eyes darting to the front and side yards. “You didn’t see anything just now?”
“Aside from you opening the door? No.” She paused before adding, “I trust this isn’t a repeat of this morning’s kerfuffle.”
After a moment, Dawn said hesitantly, “No. Not a repeat from earlier. You’re sure you didn’t see anything out here?”
At the side of the porch, hidden beneath a lilac bush, the small man muttered and cursed as he tried to put his arm back together again. “The sheer gall of it. I’ve never… Rude little wench… I’ll teach her a lesson she’ll not soon forget…”