Secrets & Lies

by: Lynn
Continuation of The Chains Series

Giles rolled over in bed as he slowly came awake, frowning as his arm fell onto the empty space next to him. "Willow?" He sat up, the sheet falling away as he rubbed his face with his hands, trying to drive away the last hazy vestiges of sleep. His hand dropped to the pillow beside him, landing on the piece of paper that had been lying there. He looked down at it, hesitating before reaching for his glasses. He slipped them on and picked up the paper, almost afraid of what he would find. After last night, there was no telling what Willow was capable of saying or doing.


Dear Giles,

You were sleeping so peacefully that I didn't want to wake you, but something has come up that I need to take care of- something important. It doesn't have anything to do with last night and I'll explain later, I promise. I know that you're probably going to torture yourself over what happened, so let me tell you right now that I don't regret a thing and I hope that you don't either. Thank you for not turning me away last night, Giles. You helped me more than you know.



Willow had gone...left without saying goodbye. Giles stared at the note in his hand, wondering what could have possibly come up in the middle of the night. Granted, he knew that she'd needed to get home before her parents found her missing, but even so...she should have woken him, at least. If she had, then he could have... Could have what? Kissed her goodbye? Turned several shades of red and stammered like a schoolboy? Quite frankly, he didn't know what he could have done, or how he would have reacted if he'd had to face her this morning.

He tore the glasses from his face and pinched the bridge of his nose as the reality of what he'd done struck him full force. He'd had sex. With Willow, his friend and research assistant. A seventeen-year-old virgin. What could he have possibly been thinking? *You 'weren't' bloody thinking, that's the problem...* She had shown up at his door looking like something out of one of his fantasies and his cock had stood at attention, every ounce of self-restraint flying out the window, right along with his common sense. *Bloody priceless.*

Willow's note said that she didn't regret what had happened, but he certainly felt torn himself. On the one hand, he'd behaved in a completely irresponsible manner- worse than Ethan on one of his tears. He'd caused her pain, taken something that- in all conscience- hadn't been meant for him. Her innocence should have been meant for the man she loved, the man that she could share her entire life with. Someone who wasn't old enough to be her bloody father. Someone like...Oz.

On the other hand... Thinking about Oz made him realize that he was hesitant to examine what the other hand held. "Bloody hell!" Giles threw the sheet off and stalked to the bathroom, intent on trying to wash away his guilt in the shower. He relieved himself and then stood in front of the mirror, staring at his reflection in surprise.

He'd expected to see the usual worn and tired countenance that normally peered out at him, expected to see his shame etched clearly in every line of his face. Instead, his eyes were clear and bright, his features softer...more youthful. He looked rested, as if the weight of the world had been lifted from his shoulders. He looked the way he had ten years ago, before he and Meredith had parted and gone their separate ways. And he had another redhead to thank for it.

Giles turned away from the mirror and started the water for his shower. As he stepped under the forceful spray, he finally let himself think what he'd been avoiding since he'd awakened.

Last night had felt good...more than good- it had felt bloody marvelous. He hadn't realized how starved he'd been until Willow had walked through his door smelling like rain and jasmine, heating his blood with just a single touch. The way she'd responded to his kiss, the way her body had melded to his...the way she'd breathlessly said his name... He never stood a chance.

The hot water sluiced down over his body, reminding him of Willow's wet heat. He'd only gotten the slightest taste of her before she'd pulled him away, but it had been enough to hint at the sweetness between her thighs. How he wished she would have let him finish, let him feel her climax against his tongue, let him show her how pleasurable a first time could be. There were so many things that he could have taught her... Perhaps he'd given up too easily, perhaps he should have been more persuasive.

No. It wouldn't have been right. She hadn't wanted a teacher, hadn't wanted passion and romance. She'd wanted to feel a hard body next to hers. The fact that she'd wanted that body to be his didn't mean that she'd needed anything else from him. She could have just as easily gone to Xander, given their history, but Giles reasoned that she'd wanted someone with experience, someone with less of an emotional investment. He cared for Willow a great deal- loved her even- in the way that close friends often do, but they were not, and in all likelihood would never be, lovers. They were battle-scarred soldiers in the fight against evil, and last night they had clung to each other in desperation, trying to heal their much-wounded inner spirits. Nothing more, nothing less.

Giles turned off the water and grabbed a towel, rubbing it briskly over his skin. His thoughts turned toward the note that Willow had left, and the "something important" that had suddenly come up. What could it have been? And how was she feeling this morning, after everything that had happened? He needed to know that she was all right, that he hadn't hurt her with his lack of restraint. He hoped that his failure to reign in his carnal impulses- Ripper's impulses- hadn't damaged their relationship beyond repair.

Cursing Ripper's tendency toward "self-gratification and screw the consequences", Giles headed back to his room to dress and prepare for another day at the library, where he would return to his usual routine of being a responsible, stodgy Watcher. He would cross-reference and research the latest paranormal activity, and last night would be relegated to the back of his mind, a place that he was certain he'd be visiting time and again, for the rest of his natural life.


Willow watched from the bushes as Mrs. Summers backed down the driveway and drove off. It was still early, barely six a.m., but she remembered Buffy saying that her mom had been putting in extra hours at the gallery, to make up for the days she'd spent at home, caring for her daughter. Thanking her lucky stars, Willow bounded up the steps and rang the bell, wondering how she was going to break this news to the Slayer. She looked down at the papers in her hand, a frown marring her brow.

After quickly making sure that her translations were correct, she'd scribbled a note to Giles and ran back upstairs to retrieve her clothes. She'd hastily dressed and left the note on the pillow, taking a moment to observe him before she left. He'd looked so young, his features softer and more relaxed than they were during his waking hours, and she'd had to fight the urge to kiss him as she'd left, the translated pages gripped tightly in her hands.

Her first stop had been home, where she'd slipped into her room and made up the bed. She'd showered, changed, and bolted down a bagel and cream cheese, then scribbled another note, this one to her parents saying that she was meeting Buffy for breakfast. And now here she stood, waiting for Buffy to answer the door so that she could turn the Slayer's world upside down.

Willow shifted her weight from one foot to the other, feeling her underwear chafe against swollen, tender flesh. The slight pain between her legs reminded her of Giles and what had happened between them just a few short hours ago. She wasn't sorry that she'd gone to him and she fervently hoped that he believed what she'd written in the note...and that he didn't regret being with her.

They had both needed it, had needed to feel the comfort that only the warmth of another human being could give. She'd been frozen before, unable to feel much beyond the pain of grief- a pain that was so great it made breathing difficult. Being with Giles had jarred something loose, like the piece of apple lodged in Snow White's throat. She could breathe again, think clearly again, and not feel as though everything was going to crash down around her. No, she wasn't sorry. Not one bit.

Despite the pain of entry, the experience hadn't been awful. Giles had done his best to make it easy on her, or at least as easy as she would allow. And he'd kissed her with such passion, made her feel as though it was 'her' that he wanted, not just a substitute for Jenny. He'd treated her like a desirable woman, not some charity case. He'd been wonderful, really- far more understanding than she could have hoped for, all things considered.

She shuddered to think how awful the whole thing 'could' have been. He could have rejected her completely out of hand, or could have been angry that she'd even suggest such a thing. He could have felt that she was using him, could have felt hurt that she would risk their friendship in that way. That was the only thing that had given her pause- their friendship. She prayed that what she had done wouldn't ruin what they had, or make things unbearably difficult when they saw each other again. Last night she hadn't even considered what could happen to their working relationship or their friendship; she'd just closed her eyes and jumped without a parachute. At the time it had been freeing, now...

Now she hoped that it hadn't been the wrong thing to do. The sound of the door opening startled her out of her reverie. "Willow? What are you doing here so early? Is everything okay?"

Willow looked at the Slayer's tired face and sighed. "I need to talk to you, Buffy. It's kind of important."

Buffy gave her a puzzled frown and stepped back from the door. "Come upstairs and I'll get dressed. Mom already left for the gallery."

"I know, I saw her." Willow followed Buffy upstairs, unsure of how she was going to divulge what she'd discovered. She felt grateful when Buffy decided to take a shower before starting their talk, figuring it would give her a few more moments to gather her thoughts.

She settled herself on the bed and quickly scanned the journal entries, hoping against hope that she'd made a mistake. No, she hadn't- it was all still there, in black and white. Willow sighed and closed her eyes, letting the distant sound of the shower's running water lull her into a light doze. Too many nights of too little sleep had finally caught up with her, and she wanted nothing more than to be home in her own bed, instead of sitting here waiting to drop the bomb on her best friend.

Willow drifted off, only to come awake abruptly just a few short moments later. Disoriented, she tried to pinpoint what exactly had roused her, then winced as the familiar sound of Buffy's retching reached her ears. She felt her stomach clench in sympathy, sighing in relief when the noises stopped. After awhile, the Slayer appeared in the doorway- pale and weak- but trying to shrug it off.

"I guess whatever this is isn't going away anytime soon, huh? Maybe I should have Giles look into it, I've never been this sick before in my life." Buffy entered the room and collapsed on the bed next to Willow.

"I thought you were feeling better."

"So did I, but every so often I still throw up." Buffy sighed. "I wonder if this is what morning sickness feels like," she mused. "Not that that's even a possibility, thank God."

Willow closed her eyes and took a deep breath. "Buffy?" she squeaked.


"M-maybe it is." She sat perfectly still, waiting for her words to penetrate.

"Is what?" Buffy said absently.

"A possibility."

The Slayer rolled over and looked at her. "What are you talking about, Willow?"

Willow stared down at the papers in her hand before passing them to Buffy. She met the other girl's eyes. "Maybe...maybe you know...pregnant."

Buffy laughed in disbelief. "Very funny, Will. You know that vampires can't have kids, and I've only been with Spike in the last couple months..." Her voice trailed off as his words came back to her- "I know y'er not on the bloody rag..." She lay the papers down on the bed and her hand unconsciously went to her stomach as she sat there in shock. When had her last period been? *Think, Buffy! It couldn't have been that long ago...* After she'd killed Angel, the day that Spike had called her for the first time... Nearly two months ago...

She shook her head. "No, it's some kind of Slayer flu. Giles will figure it out and I'll be cured, no problem." Her expression was stubborn. "I can't be pregnant, that's all there is to it."

"Anne was," Willow pointed to the pages lying between them. "I translated some more entries, it's all right there. Guillaume got her pregnant... She believed that it proved he had a soul." She tried to hand the papers to Buffy. "Just read it."

Buffy knocked the papers away and leaped from the bed. "I don't want to read it!" she screamed. "You made a mistake, that's all!" She looked at Willow, panic stricken. "I can't be pregnant, Willow. I just can't," she whispered, her eyes welling up with tears.

Willow walked over and pulled the Slayer into her arms. "It'll be okay, Buffy. I'll help however I can... We'll get through this, you'll see." She crooned more words of comfort, and when Buffy calmed, Willow tugged her over to the bed and made her sit down. "First, you need to read Anne's journal. See if there are any parallels between Anne and Guillaume and you and Spike. Then we'll get you a test and figure it out from there." She placed the papers in front of Buffy. "I'll go and make you something to eat while you read."

Willow left the room before the other girl could protest, wondering how they were going to deal with the situation. Giles would have to be told, there was no other way. Imagining his reaction was enough to make her want to crawl into a hole and hide. And what about Spike? She felt completely overwhelmed by everything that had happened- overwhelmed and exhausted. She could only imagine how Buffy felt. With a heavy sigh, Willow headed for the kitchen, trying not to think about the days ahead.

After Willow left, Buffy stared at the blurry pages for several minutes before wiping her eyes. *I can do's a mistake, that's all. I'll know as soon as I read it.* Trying to ignore the pounding of her heart, she took a deep breath, braced herself, and began to read.


>From the Journal of Anne LeMaire

31 May 1435

I have never been so happy, or so torn. I love Guillaume with every part of my being, cannot bear to be apart from him, and yet, it is a bittersweet love. We cannot walk in the daylight, or speak of our love in the presence of others. We cannot sleep the entire night in one another's arms, nor can we greet the morning sun together. We are wedded in our hearts, but not in the eyes of God and it is entirely possible that we are both damned, and will burn in hell for all eternity...just for loving each other. I often wonder how long it will be before we are discovered. Just the thought fills me with a terror that is far greater than any I have ever known.


Buffy swallowed, remembering all too well the intense pleasure of being with Spike, tempered by the worry that someone would find out. How it tore at her to leave him each dawn, knowing that their time together would always be too brief. How the thought of being without him had utterly terrified her, and how even now she didn't think she'd ever get over him. With the exception of being written over five hundred years ago, Anne's words could have been her own.


13 June 1435

I find myself hurrying in my slaying duties so that I might spend more time with Guillaume. He is all that I think about, all that I dream about. It is becoming harder to focus my attention on staking vampires and destroying demons when all I long for is to be with him. Lucien is beginning to take notice of my distraction, questioning the number of kills and my long absences. My excuses ring false, but there is no help for it. There is only Guillaume...and my desire for him. Nothing else matters.

29 June 1435

I am so tired... It is becoming more and more difficult to hide my involvement with Guillaume. Marie-Therese has been casting odd glances my way- knowing little smiles. She assumes that I have fallen in love with one of the local if that could ever be true. She has not voiced her suspicions, but has taken to musing aloud on the joys of holy wedlock whenever in my presence.

Lucien is swift in his correction of her. He brooks no argument regarding my status as a maiden. In his eyes I am pure, and must remain so. It is the lot of the Slayer to give her life to her calling, much like the nuns cloistered in the convents. It is at times like this that I feel the weight of my betrayal- the weight of my lies- to the only family that I have ever known. What fate awaits me if I am found out?

17 July 1435

Already the heat of summer is unbearable. It saps my strength...makes me weak...something I can ill afford. I have little appetite and my stomach churns at the smallest provocation. I do not ever recall feeling this way in summers past, perhaps there is something wrong? A stomach ailment of some sort? Has the heat caused the food in the larder to turn? I will ask Oncle if he has a powder that will ease the nausea. I cannot perform my slaying duties if I am unwell.

26 July 1435

Something is terribly wrong. I awoke this morn violently ill- retching uncontrollably until my stomach had emptied itself. Marie-Therese looked frightened, praying as she sat with me and bathed the sweat from my brow. Oncle said that without a fever, there is little threat of contagion, and that perhaps it was the evening meal that turned my stomach so. He prepared a warm tincture of peppermint and after consuming it, I did indeed feel much improved. But I have not been well for some time, surely there is a cause? I can only pray that the episode is over and that my good health will return.


Buffy's hand covered her stomach as Anne's words brought back the vivid memory of the first time she'd thrown up, the morning after she'd gone to Spike at the mansion. She had thought it just a reaction to losing Oz and then Spike, just her body protesting the weeks of stress that she'd gone through. It had never occurred to her that she could be pregnant. Why would it, after Angel had insisted that it wasn't possible? And why would he have told her that if it wasn't true?


1 August 1435

The illness has not passed. I do not want to alarm Marie-Therese or Lucien, and have not told them that I am still suffering from this affliction. I have managed to conceal the fact that I am retching nearly every morn, but how much longer until they take notice of my pale countenance?

Guillaume is fraught with worry. He refuses to drink from me, saying that it would only weaken me further. He says that I have grown thin and haggard, and he blames himself. When we are together, he holds me whilst I sleep, and when he makes love to me, it is with such gentle care, as if he is afraid that he will hurt me. He said that I must tell Lucien soon, for I cannot go on this way. Perhaps I have been bewitched, or cursed in some way? Guillaume is right, I cannot continue for much longer.

5 August 1435

Mother of God. I- I believe now that I know what is wrong. But it cannot is not possible according to vampire lore. I have read the Council's manifesto and it clearly states that such a thing is unheard of, but...what other explanation can there be?

Today I went with Marie-Therese to visit with Claudine DeLacey, who is heavy with her first child. We brought fresh food for the larder and swaddling for the babe, tending to chores that were too difficult for Claudine to manage with her swollen belly. I rested my hand there and felt the babe move, asking if it hurt. Claudine laughed and said that it was a great improvement on the early months, when she had been so ill. When I asked what she meant by ill, she told me that she had been very tired, and that she could hardly keep down her morning meal. These early signs are quite common, she said, and are often what tell a woman that she is quickening.

I felt myself go entirely cold at her words. Her tale was a near replica of mine- the fatigue, the nausea, the retching- all of it the same. And she treated it in so casual a manner, as if it was of no import. Could it be true? Could I be carrying Guillaume's child? In the manifesto it said that unsouled creatures, creatures who are of the demon, are incapable of creating life. Is this then the proof of Guillaume's soul? Is the Council wrong? Or have they been lying to us all along?


The Council lying. Now there was a stretch. Buffy gave a sharp laugh as she thought of the cloak and dagger machinations the Council was always engaged in. Giles had to nearly beg for information at times, and even then they were always less than forthcoming. She had heard him grumble over and over about the "Machiavellian Empire," as he often called the inner circle of Watchers. Mysterious and notoriously pretentious, they seemed to take particular delight in letting Buffy and Giles charge into battle unprepared. *Wankers.*

She felt the familiar pang of longing run through her at the unconscious use of Spike's slang. She wanted him- needed him- with her, holding her, telling her that everything would be all right. If it was true...if she was pregnant...she would need his strength in the days ahead. She didn't want to face this alone.


6 August 1435

Last night, I told Guillaume what I suspected to be true- that he retains his soul and that I am carrying his child. He reacted with disbelief at first, for he had never heard tell of a vampire being capable of breeding. I told him that I believe it is my blood that nourishes his soul, and gives it the strength to overcome the demon. Perhaps it is this strength that has allowed his seed to grow within me. Guillaume allowed that he has felt an uncommon peace of late, that the demon does not rage within him as it once did. If this is so, if Guillaume truly does have his soul...perhaps I can make Lucien see that we are meant to be together. Now that there is proof...

As Guillaume removed my clothing, he noted the changes in my body. My loss of appetite has kept me quite thin, although my breasts are larger-swollen and tender- and the tips are no longer light pink, but a darker, dusky rose. Guillaume stared at me for the longest time, until I could feel myself growing warm under his gaze. He said that I was beautiful and that he could not wait to see my belly swell with his child. He made the most exquisite love to me then, caressing and kissing...tasting every part of my body, until I begged him to enter me. We moved together as one, our souls touching, and as I felt Guillaume spill his seed within my womb, I heard him whisper that he loved me. And that he would kill anyone who tried to part us.

10 August 1435

Marie-Therese has been watching me closely and I fear that she suspects that I am with child. If she tells Lucien he will demand to know the name of my paramour. He will be furious to discover that I have disobeyed him and if I tell him that my lover is not human... I shudder to imagine the extent of his distress. Will Guillaume's soul be enough to placate Lucien? He does not appear to want me betrothed to anyone at all, I do not see how he will accept this.

Guillaume wants to take me away from here. He wants our babe safe from the Council and from the witch hunters, but there is something that concerns me...something that I have not spoken of. What sort of child will this be? Half-human, half-vampire? How I wish that I could confide in Lucien so that he might help me. I am so afraid...for myself, for Guillaume...for our unborn child. What will become of us?


The journal entries ended there. Buffy surmised that Willow had stopped translating as soon as she'd realized what the entries had revealed. Laying the papers down on the bed, she got up and crossed the room to the mirror. She stood there, staring at her reflection, trying to find some sign that her body had changed. If anything, she was thinner than before, her stomach almost concave. Her breasts were sore, but she'd just correlated it with the fact that her body felt like one big bruise to begin with. Everything felt sore...trampled on...and it showed.

Buffy had avoided looking in the mirror for two weeks. Now that she was faced with her appearance, she nearly sobbed at the sight of the stranger who stared back at her. Her hair was limp, the shimmering strands of gold faded to a dishwater blonde. Her eyes were huge, surrounded by deep purple shadows, set in a pale and too thin face. Weren't pregnant women supposed to glow? She wasn't even giving off a faint glimmer. Instead, she looked beaten, defeated by life.

"Buffy?" She turned to find Willow standing there with a tray in her hands. The redhead walked over to the bed and set it down. "I made scrambled eggs and toast. I thought that juice would be too acidic, so I brought ginger ale instead."

Buffy waited for the familiar heaving of her stomach but it never came. The food smelled delicious for a change and she offered Willow a weak smile. "Thanks, Willow. It does look good." She sat down and picked up the fork, tentatively taking a small bite of the eggs.

Willow looked at the papers on the bed. "You read them?" At Buffy's nod, she continued, "And did you see any similarities? Do you think you think it's possible?"

Buffy stared down at the food, her hair covering her face. "I think so," she whispered. She looked up, letting out a sound that was half-laughter, half-sob. "What did I expect? Did I really think that I could ever have anything resembling a normal life? I should have known better...I should have known the Hellmouth would find some way to fuck everything up."

"Listen, nothing is definite yet. We need to confirm whether or not you're pregnant, then we'll worry about the rest of it. One step at a time." Having someone other than herself to focus on gave Willow a welcome sense of relief. She could be the strong one for a change, instead of grasping onto everyone else like a drowning victim. And it enabled her to shove her anxiety over the night before into the background, and only deal with Buffy's problem at hand. "Buffy... if you are pregnant...we're going to have to tell Giles. He needs to know."

"I-I know I have to tell him, but... Oh God, How am I going to tell Giles that I've been lying to him this whole time? What will he do when he finds out that I've been sleeping with Spike?" Buffy could feel the tears starting again and it made her angry. She was sick of crying, sick of feeling helpless... sick of feeling sick. She was pathetic- taking to her bed like an invalid, giving up- she deserved Spike's contempt for the way she'd gone to him, begging his forgiveness. Willow was taking control of her life, why couldn't she?

She angrily brushed the tears away and picked up the fork again, determined to get the food down and keep it there. She needed her strength, needed to find herself again...beginning now. Scooping a forkful of eggs, she shoved it in her mouth and chewed, ordering her stomach not to revolt. She looked up to find Willow staring at her and swallowed, praying that it wouldn't end up flying right back out again. When nothing happened, she grinned, and the redhead grinned back. "One step at a time, right?" Buffy said.

"Right," replied Willow, relieved to see that Buffy was getting some of her inner strength back. She was going to need it, if what they suspected was true.

Buffy continued eating in silence for a few moments, until her stomach couldn't handle any more food. She set down the fork and looked up at Willow. "Thanks, Will. I hadn't realized how hungry I was." She rested her hand on her stomach, wondering if there really was a life growing inside of her. "I have to see Spike again. Whether or not I'm pregnant, he still should know that he has his soul. And even though he's given up on me, maybe...maybe I'm not quite ready to give up on him. I need to find out if there's a chance that he still cares."

Willow's face lit up. "Oh, Buffy...I'm so glad. And Spike does still care, I know he does."

"Thanks for saying it, but somehow I doubt that it's true. You haven't seen him, he's...different now. The last time I saw him...he was so full of anger...and he looked...he looked as if he hated me." Her voice had dropped to a whisper, as if the words were too painful to say out loud.

"I have seen him," Willow said calmly.

Buffy stared at her in shock, then her eyes narrowed. "What do you mean, you've seen him?" she asked in a low voice.

"I- I mean that I've...seen....him," the redhead stammered. "The day of Oz's funeral, w-when I was out walking...I found myself a-at the mansion." Willow cringed at the dark look on the Slayer's face. "I went in...and...talked to him."

"And you didn't think to tell me this before now? Do you have any idea how dangerous that was?" Buffy got up and began to pace around the room. "God, Willow! You could have been killed! Did you even think?"

Willow was reminded of Giles' rant the night before and suddenly became angry. "I'm not a child, Buffy. I can take care of myself," she said through gritted teeth. "Besides, do you really think that Spike would hurt me? You said you loved him...don't you trust him?"

Buffy whirled around and looked at her helplessly. That was it, wasn't it? The reason why he hated her now? Because she hadn't been able to trust him, because she hadn't had faith in him. Was it still an issue? She loved him...but that didn't mean anything without trust.

"I- I do love him. And I was foolish not to trust him before, I know that now. I should have known that he would never hurt my friends...I should have been able to feel it in my heart- I do feel it- but I've hurt him so badly. I don't know if he'll ever forgive me. When I said that you could have been killed, I meant by his fledglings. He only killed Angel's, you know, and they weren't the only vampires living at the mansion."

"Well, the mansion seemed empty, except for him." Willow got up and walked over to Buffy. "I told him that you were sick and he looked...scared...for a minute. He tried to hide it, but I saw. He still cares, Buffy. I'm sure of it."

"Well, I'll find out for sure tomorrow, won't I? One way or another, I'm going to see him...and make him listen to me." She said it with a quiet determination, certain now that she wasn't going to let anything else stand between them. She had to try one last time, had to tell him that she loved him. If he turned her away again, then so be it. She told him once that she'd never leave and she'd meant it. She wasn't giving up without a fight.

Willow reached over and took her hand, squeezing it in a comforting gesture. "I guess we should see about getting you a pregnancy test then, huh? Tackle one problem at a time?"

Buffy squeezed back and smiled wistfully. "Yeah, one problem at a time." She turned to the mirror and ran a brush through her hair before grabbing her purse. A thought occured to her and looked at Willow questioningly. "Will? How did you happen to translate the entries? I hadn't realized that you were helping Giles again."

Willow lowered her head and began to gather up her things. "Um, yeah, well...I told Giles that I needed something to do...because I wasn't sleeping nights. He said I could work on Anne's journal." She could feel herself flushing profusely and prayed that the Slayer wouldn't notice. She let out a tiny sigh of relief when Buffy just said, "Oh," and let it drop. She wasn't quite ready to deal with what had happened with Giles, and it would suit her just fine if Buffy never found out about it. Last night had been between her and Giles, no one else.

Buffy' eyes were drawn to the pages in Willow's hand and for a moment she was back in her dreams, feeling everything that Anne had felt, experiencing the love and fear that had dominated the young Slayer's life. She slowly looked up and caught the empathy reflected in Willow's green eyes. "What do you think happened to them, Willow? Is there any chance they made know, lived happily ever after?"

"Buffy-" Willow didn't know what to say.

Buffy sighed. "I know...stupid, huh? Let me have my fantasy before you translate the rest of it, okay? That her life was perfect, that she was able to have it all- the baby, Guillaume- true happiness. Just let me keep deluding myself for a little while longer..."

The two girls linked their arms together and headed for the door, each one wrapped up in her own thoughts about how much their lives had changed in such a short time. Thinking about Anne and what was most likely a tragic end for both her and Guillaume. Thinking about their own recent tragedies... and wondering if the future held any more surprises in store for them.