All eyes were on Wesley and to say he was enjoying the attention would be an understatement. He stood, proud, with the book held in front of him. Feeling everyone's impatience, however, he decided he should say what he had found.
"Well," he began, "it seems that there is indeed a counter-spell. It's quite simple, actually. The ingredients are easily found-" the grin on his face suddenly fell "-except maybe for one..."
Rolling her eyes, Cordelia stood, walked over to Wesley, and snatched the book from his hands. Reading over the spell, she gave it back and shrugged. "Doesn't seem too hard. Though where we're gonna find blood of a virgin..."
"Blood of a virgin?" Xander interrupted. "Anyone here a virgin?" No one answered. "Well," he continued, "I guess we could always go around asking people. We could put up an add. 'Virgin needed for a spell...' or something catchy."
Giles, who up to now had been cleaning his glasses, rubbed his temples and shook his head. "Xander, this is quite serious."
Xander feigned hurt. "I was being serious!"
"You found something?"
Everyone turned to see Buffy standing at the doorway or the living room. The redness of her eyes indicated that she had been crying. Her hair was tied back in a ponytail and she had changed into a new, more comfortable attire. She sniffled a little and quickly her eyes turned cold and she was 'Slay Gal' once again. Raising a delicate eyebrow, she crossed her arms across her chest and waited for an answer to her question.
"Oh, yes," Giles said, snapping into attention. "Wesley did indeed find something, but I believe it's going to be a bit, uh, hard to accomplish."
Rolling her eyes in Cordelia-fashion, she walked over to Anya, who now held the book, and started looking over it. "Hey!" Anya cried.
Buffy ignored her as her eyes briefly wandered over the words. "'Eye of frog, parrot feathers, blood of a virgin,'" she read. "What's the problem?"
"We don't know where to get blood of a virgin," Willow answered.
Buffy frowned. "Don't they sell this stuff in a Wicca store or something?" she asked.
"I don't think they have virgin blood," Willow replied. "Plus, sometimes I don't know whether to trust the new shop owner when it comes to what type of blood it is. Spike killed the lady in the old shop."
"Oh," Buffy stated. "Where the hell do they get this stuff anyway?"
"A virgin is a sign of purity," Angel said softly.
Buffy blinked, not having really expected a response. Her eyes went back to spell, as if reading it again would make it better. "Isn't anyone here a virgin?"
She received no response for a moment.
Then, suddenly, Riley's hand went halfway up. Shyly, he spoke up. "I... I am, actually."
Buffy glanced at him. "Why didn't you say something before?"
He shrugged, looking slightly embarrassed. "What do I need to do?"
Buffy and Angel stood in the center of the circle drawn with chalk on the floor. As she listened to Willow's chant get louder, Buffy felt the tingling feeling in her chest grow and spread to her stomach. She felt herself go woozy and her knees buckled slightly, causing her to tremble and start falling. Angel reacted despite the feelings he himself was receiving from the spell, and caught her before she could fall.
Giles joined in the chanting while Xander silently lighted another candle. The storm that had been raging outside just a few hours ago seemed to resurface as lightning ripped through the sky. Willow raised the vile that contained blood in it and started swirling it lightly as her chant got even louder. Everyone watched in amazement as the blood disappeared, as if evaporated.
Abruptly, the chanting stopped, the vile burst in midair, the lightning stopped, the candles blew out-
And Angel collapsed, causing Buffy to fall with him.
No one spoke in the dark living room as they held their breaths.
"Did it work?" Willow asked softly, as if fearing that the sound of her voice would ruin the spell.
"I think so," Giles replied softly. "Although we can't be sure until Buffy and Angel wake up."
Xander walked to the wall and hit the light switch, causing the flood of lights to invade their senses, and Willow walked over to the heap on the floor that was Buffy and Angel. She knelt down in front of them and waved a hand in front of their faces.
"Uh, guys?" she said. "Hello?"
"Wakey, wakey!" Cordelia cried in Angel's ear from her place next to Willow.
Suddenly, Buffy stirred. "Five more minutes, Mom," she murmured, waving Willow's hand away.
"That's definitely our Buffster," Xander said.
"P- perhaps we should let them get their rest," Giles suggested. "It's late and I am quite sure everyone wants to go to bed."
"But what about the spell?" Willow asked.
Giles shook his head. "It's alright, we can verify it tomorrow. Run along."
Everyone reluctantly started their own way. Everyone that is, except Riley Finn.
"Riley?" Giles asked, causing him to snap into attention. After he had donated a bit of his blood, he had had to sit out of the spell. All the while, his gaze had been on Buffy and the man he felt was competing against him for her heart. Only after the scenes he had just watched, he wondered if he had ever been in the competition at all.
"You can sleep on the couch if you're worried about Buffy, but I think you should rest for the upcoming battle," Giles told him. "I am certain she will be fine."
Riley nodded and took a deep breath, once again tearing his eyes away from the woman he had come to love. "Yeah, sure. I'll see you tomorrow."
Giles nodded. Watching as the boy walked out the door, he couldn't help but feel pity.
"Why didn't you ever tell me about peanut butter and chocolate?" Angel asked as he chewed with deliberate slowness.
"Well," said Buffy, stretching herself out against him, "I figured that if your vamp taste buds couldn't appreciate it, I would only be hurting you."
"Angel? This is the first time I've ever really felt this way," Buffy whispered.
"What way?" Angel asked softly, stroking her arm tenderly.
"Just like I've always wanted to. Like a normal girl, falling asleep in the arms of her normal boyfriend."
"I'll never forget. I'll never forget. I'll never forget..."
"I'll never forget..."
Angel's eyes snapped open at the familiar words. Feeling the hard floor, he realized he had been asleep for a while now. The tiny blonde slayer who was curled against his chest was sleeping anything but peacefully. Her eyes were moving under her eyelids and she was shaking her head. Then, of course, there was the uttering of the forbidden words...
Buffy suddenly pulled back and stared up at him. Tears were streaming down her face abut she was making no move to wipe them. Then came the question he had been hoping he wouldn't have to answer:
"Was it real?"
"They are ready, sir," the Klaraph rasped.
Christian turned too look at the demon, looking slightly bored but thoughtful. "Hold them."
The little winged demon lifted the skin above his eyes, where a human's eyebrows would have been. "Hold? You said you wanted to attack them as soon as possible..."
"I know what I said!" Christian cried, waving a hand. "I've changed my mind."
The Klaraph cocked his head sideways. "May I ask why?"
Christian couldn't help but flinch every time he heard it talk. "No," he answered. "But I know you're going to anyway."
The demon waited as Christian paced slowly, making it obvious he was thinking.
"The spell had an unusual effect that I wasn't expecting," Christian explained. "It didn't serve my original purpose for Angelus to join us. It seems however that the Slayer is experiencing some dreams that might put a strain on her concentration."
Opening and closing his wings as a sign of distress, the Klaraph took a step forward. "Would this be the dreams she was meant the forget?" He and the others of his species had dug inside both the Slayer's and the vampire's brain in order to know what spells to cast.
Christian nodded. "Those would be," he confirmed.
Again flapping his scaly wings, the demon voiced his anxieties. "Would this not be a good thing for her and her lover? To remember such a sacrifice?" he rasped.
Christian shook his head. "Trust me."
But the fact remained that the little demon had asked a valid question.
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