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Summer Mischief


Project Paranormal

Author: Ares

Season 2

Part 22




Summary: What is it about summer that drives people to do daft things?


Special thanks to Jo for her insight of all things British, and her expert eye for the written word.





Summer Mischief



The sound of laughter brought his head around. Kevin stared at the two women, blondes, at the far table. He could see the face of one of the women, but the other sat with her back to him. He couldn't take his eyes off the pretty face pointed his way. He hadn't seen her about, although that wasn't surprising. Kevin was visiting his grandmother and hadn't been in the village for quite some time. He wondered whether she was new to the town or visiting like he was.


Café umbrellas offered shade from the midday sun, and under one of those he sat careful of his fair complexion. The girl and her friend sat out under the sky absorbing the warmth of the summer's day. He could practically see the girl glow with a golden brilliance as her skin tanned before his very eyes. She is lovely, he thought, as he watched her laugh and toss her head. Of a sudden her eyes caught his, and his breath stopped. A hint of a frown creased her forehead for a moment, before her gaze moved away, releasing his. Kevin ducked his head and looked down at his open book. He didn't see the words; all he could see was the face of the girl sitting a few tables away. 


The two friends stood and went on their way; the leavings of their lunch lay behind them on white china, like flotsam floating on wooden seas. Kevin heaved a sigh and picked at his lunch, the sandwich and date scone suddenly unappealing.


Buffy waved goodbye to Lisa and watched her friend drive away. Buffy had refused the offer of a lift right to the door, the day was a fine one and she intended to make the most of it. A breeze chattered through the trees, and pink and purple mallow nodded their agreement as she passed by. The sun felt good on her face, her arms and legs. It was almost like home this time of year. Buffy was warm, carefree, and was that a touch of sunburn she could feel? She swung the bag she carried carefully, not wanting to bruise the flower heads that peeked above the rim. Blue, purple and cream showered her with a sweet heady scent. She had come across a bucket containing the home-grown flowers, an honesty box for payment, sitting against a garden gate, and she couldn't resist. Angel will love these, she thought, as she inhaled the perfume of the stocks. He had a fine sense of smell and the flowers were a way of sharing the sunshine with him. Her steps quickened at the thought of his delight.


Angel was sitting with pad and pencil when she opened the door to their small flat. Giles was out, Martha also, and Buffy had rescued a vase from the kitchen cupboards and filled it with the heavenly blooms. Angel's smile made her heart go pitter pat as he rose from his seat to take the water-heavy vase from her hands.


"Did you have a nice time?" he asked as he placed the flowers on the small dresser. Buffy noticed that her vampire had his nose buried in the blooms before he straightened to give her a kiss. Her heart squeezed at such a simple pleasure.


"We did, thank you. I love this time of year, it reminds me of home."


His hands ran along both her bare arms. "You're warm, and there is a touch of a tan."


"You think so?"


His eyes twinkled.


"I'm sure."


Her brow wrinkled at a new thought.


Angel noticed. "What is it?"


"There was a young man..."


His eyebrow rose. "Young man?"


She grinned and slapped his arm. The very arm that now snaked around her waist and pulled her onto his lap as he sank back into his chair. 


"Okay, about my age, satisfied? For you, everyone is young." She giggled before sobering. "No, he was staring at me and he looked kinda pale."




Buffy twisted her neck and looked at her lover in amusement. "We were outside, silly. Mind you, he was sitting under an umbrella."


She tried to ignore the lips that began to nibble their way down her neck. "I wonder if he was watching me."


The lips ceased their ministrations. "Why wouldn't he be watching you? You are a beautiful woman and, should I be jealous?"


"Mmm," she stretched her neck in a very cat-like pose, before adding, "if you don't continue with the neck worship, you may have some reason."


The two lovers did not venture out for the rest of the day.




Buffy found Giles poring through the titles of his considerable library the following morning. An open box stood waiting on the floor to be filled and several books lay in an untidy pile on the Englishman's desk.


"What are you doing?"


The ex-librarian looked up from his search and graced her with a smile.


"Good morning, Buffy, good to see you." He gestured to a chair and resumed his perusal of the shelves, his back to her.




"Oh. The church is having a jumble sale and, as Martha is busy making jams and pickles, I thought to donate a few books." He spied a suitable candidate, read the cover and thought, no, he might have a need for the book on Remedies, Ointments and Salves. In their line of work, one never knew. He put it back and moved on. Giles breath escaped in a little sigh. He could never part with anything useful.


"Jumble sale?"


"Didn't you ever have a fundraising where families donated bric-a-brac?"


"Oh, sure, fundraising. Bric-a-brac is just another word for junk."


"It is not junk!" Giles turned in indignation, the book bound in red, The Slayer Dreams, in his hand.


Buffy snickered and pointed to the book. "Well, I don't think you should be throwing that one out. People will begin to wonder."


Giles looked at the book, frowned at Buffy, and returned it to its rightful place.


"What can I do?"




"For the jumble sale. I don't have anything to give."


Giles looked at her over the rim his glasses. "Old clothes, shoes, anything will do."


She pouted. "I don't have old clothes and old shoes. And if I did, I don't think I want to give them away. Shoes and clothing are precious to a girl."


Giles' sigh said it all. "Surely you have something you can bear to part with; it doesn't have to be old." At Buffy's blank stare, Giles gave in. "It's really not necessary, Buffy."


"No, I do want to help. I think I have the very thing."


Giles could swear that her eyes twinkled with mischief as she hopped out of her chair and disappeared out the door. He turned back to his shelves and pulled out a drawer that sat near to the floor. Inside was a collection of dog-eared and battle-scarred paperbacks. The Watcher, educated in all things mystical, demonic and magical, had a secret vice. He loved to read novels. He chuckled to himself as he placed a Tom Clancy, Dan Brown, and a Robert Ludlum into the waiting box. The books on his desk would go back on the shelves.


Buffy wandered through to the kitchen. Martha was absent, home no doubt busy with the jam making. Buffy helped herself to a peanut butter and jam sandwich, a can of Coke, and when the mug of blood was warmed in the microwave, headed off to the flat above the garage.


"Good morning," she sang as she manoeuvred her haul of food through the door.


The vampire in the bed blinked awake. "Morning?"


"I brought breakfast."


Angel sat up and Buffy tried to ignore the delicious expanse of pale flesh.




She held out the mug until Angel took it from her. One hand free, Buffy liberated the can of Coke from under her arm and set it on the dresser. The sandwich, minus a large bite, went beside it as Buffy rummaged through the top drawer.


"What are you doing?"


Buffy continued searching and moved on to the second drawer.


"I know I have it here somewhere."


"What do you have, and why have you woken me? Is there an emergency?" Angel gulped down his food and put a foot on the floor.


"No, the emergency is a jumble sale, and why do they call it that? I mean, is nothing in this country straightforward?"


Angel's foot slid back under the sheets. He tried not to laugh at her complaints.


"Aha! Found it!" Buffy produced a brightly coloured skirt. To Angel the ruffles gave it a peasant look. He liked it.


"You're going to give that away?" Angel couldn't hide the astonishment he felt.


"What's wrong with it?" he continued.


"It makes me look fat, that's what!" She delved into the drawer once more and retrieved something green.


"And that?" he had to ask. He thought the green brought out her eyes.


"Boobs too small."


There was no way he was going to comment on that. Not if he wanted his skin intact. He wisely kept his mouth closed as another garment was added to the two on the bed.




The next day, Buffy found herself back in the village of Westbury. She had a letter to mail to Dawn, and she wanted to check out the art shop just south of the village on Warminster Road.


Mrs Brewster smiled kindly at the American girl as she browsed through the magazine shelves. Such a pretty young thing, she thought, and her with such a pretty young man. She hoped that he could be persuaded to give another talk at the Ladies Circle. He certainly made an impression. She sighed and wished she were thirty years younger.


"I'll take these please." Buffy placed her magazines on the counter with an odd assortment of notes and coins.


As Mrs Brewster sorted through the money, she noted that as usual, Buffy bought magazines like Variety and In Style, the glossy pages filled with all things American. She supposed the girl was homesick and didn't blame her for wanting to be in touch with familiar things.


She smiled as she scooped up the correct money and counted it into the till, leaving Buffy the change. "How are you, dear?"


"I'm fine thank you, Mrs Brewster. I have a letter to post; can I leave it with you?"


The postmistress nodded. "That'll be fine."


Buffy replaced the magazines with her letter. The magazines went into her flax basket and Buffy waved goodbye as she stepped out the door.


So polite, Mrs Brewster thought, not at all like the young people the Americans were reputed to be.


Buffy parked her Mini outside the craft centre. She would have liked to have walked; it helped burn off her restless energy. However, the craft centre was a little way out of town and she didn't feel like lugging her purchases all the way home on foot, so drive she did. She blushed, locking the car, thinking of the other ways that Angel helped her release pent up energies. He was perfect for her, in every way. She smiled, already wanting to be back at Summerdown and with him.


The Slayer found the little art shop nestled in a courtyard arrangement. She was reminded of Lisa's stables; farmyard-like. To add to that illusion there was an outlet that sold produce, most probably from the local farms. Another retailer offered food and drink, likely in cahoots with its neighbour. One window showed off local pottery, the objects graceful of form and lovely of hue. To add to the brightness of the glazes, the wool shop and haberdashery was splendid in colour. A weaver's shuttle stood with woven glory. The jeweller's window caught her eye and she forced herself to pass by the glittering, beautiful things there. Buffy came to the artists' den and wondered at the name above the door. The Slayer peered through the window and couldn't see a soul. Maybe it was closed. She pushed at the glass-panelled door, a bell tinkled over her head. She blinked when a dark head popped up from behind the counter, the pale face somewhat familiar. It was the young man from the garden café.


"Hello." His shy smile encouraged her to advance further.


"Hi." Buffy smiled back and tried not to stare. Instead she allowed her gaze to roam over the overfilled shelves. This was an artist's paradise; Angel would be in heaven here. She couldn't help herself, her fingers wandered along the rows of paper, fine and coarse, enjoying the texture of them all. Above the wall of waist-high shelving sat pencils, charcoal and pastels, all in inviting colours and begging to be bought and used.


Buffy wondered if Angel had spotted this place. He must have, he patrolled the village all the time. The village wouldn't hold many secrets from the vampire. Besides, Angel could get a supply of paper in Bath, and he hadn't. He was using one of Giles' large note pads earlier, she had noticed, and it had given her an idea. Perhaps he hadn't thought to, she mused. Angel did not spend a lot of time drawing, but there were times, she knew, that he became almost obsessed with it.


"Can I help you with something?"


Buffy started, her fingers resting on brightly coloured paper.


"Probably...I don't know what to buy."


"Is this for yourself, a foray into the world of art?" The young man ducked his head shyly when she stared.


"No, it's for a..." Buffy didn't want to say boyfriend, not because she was ashamed of Angel, it was for his sake she said, "Friend." People could find out for themselves if they wanted to. Finding all those bodies in Corbett's field had given Angel a reputation as a dowser. People were already talking.


"What does she use?"


"She's a he, and, use?"


"Does he paint or draw?"


"Oh. Draw. He sketches. Pencils, but I know he uses..." she paused when the man picked up a stick of charcoal, "those." She smiled.


The young man smiled back and dared to look her in the eye. Buffy thought he was cute, not that she was looking.


"Charcoal. Does your friend use pastels?" At her look, he added, "Colour."


"Not that I have seen." She frowned. Did Angel ever draw in colour, or did he use the shadings of the night to convey the colourless world he lived in?


"I need some paper," she added, realising that the assistant was still waiting.


The shopkeeper selected a few pads of various types and prices and laid them out along the top of the shelving. It was quite a feat, juggling the paper along its slim edge.


"This is the Strathmore brand, Windpower. As you see, Windpower Drawing can be used for pencil, charcoal, pastel and crayon. The other is more for pen and ink. Of course there are the Cartridge papers. This one is suitable for the student. The sketch pads are quite reasonable. I also have some Australian paper that is of good quality."


Buffy was reeling from all the info. How hard could it be to buy Angel pen and paper, or for that matter, charcoal and paper?


"Um, what do you recommend?"


"Is your friend good?"




"At drawing."


She nodded. "Oh yeah. He's very good."


"Okay. I would consider this paper, it comes in sheets of 24 and you'll want the charcoal. Does he use graphite?"


Buffy laughed and shook her head. "Enough of the questions, already. I think I'll stick to the charcoal, you choose the paper."


"Sorry. Do you want it gift wrapped?"


"Not really."


Buffy edged away from the young man and journeyed further into the cramped store. The colours of handmade paper caught her eye, and when she touched the vibrant sheets, she felt the lovely embossing stamped there. Canvases of all descriptions stood, and easels, some of which displayed a painting or two.


"I'm Kevin by the way," the young man called from his place at the door. She heard the rustle of paper.


"Did you paint these?" Buffy stood looking at the landscape on the easel.


"No. My grandmother is the artist in the family." Kevin came to stand beside her. "She had a fall and I'm here to help out for a while."


She moved onto the painting that portrayed a field and a horse or two. A watercolour, bright with summer blooms caught her eye and she stepped up to it for a closer look.


"You're American, aren't you?" He blushed when she glanced his way. "I suppose you get tired of hearing that."


"I haven't got an accent," Buffy teased with a wicked grin, and held out her hand. "I'm Buffy."


Kevin's confusion was evident when he shook her hand. "That's not a name we hear a lot around here."


"Nor back home." Buffy walked through the clutter of stretched canvas and brushes. "Do you open late at all?"


"Not really. Grandmother's love is painting. She forgets to open some days, and she has had the odd person knocking on her door. Now she has Julie to mind the shop for four hours during the middle of the day. That way she can paint and not worry about the place being closed. Julie loves to paint too and can display some of her pieces here. The watercolour is hers. My being here has not really helped her in that regard, although I do like to help out. She insists that she can manage, she has friends here, but I needed the break and she needed help, so here I am." Kevin didn't know why he was so chatty. He was usually shy - talking to a pretty girl left him a stammering wreck - and yet, here he was holding a conversation with the girl as if she were an old friend.


"Family is important," she said, and her approval made his heart leap.


"Can I help you with anything else?"


"No thank you, not at this stage." Buffy looked back over the shop as she stepped towards the door. "This place is amazing."


She stopped before the cash register and stared at the hand sitting there. It was beautiful in a creepy sort of way. The fingers were jointed, and when she touched them, she found it was made of wood and the fingers moved. When she looked up at Kevin, she noticed there were several more behind him on display. One hand held a pencil. It was very unusual.


"They are hand-carved. Clever isn't it?"


"A bit creepy, wouldn't you say?"


The young man laughed. "You're not frightened of them, are you?"


The Slayer of vampires and demons thought that was very funny. She chuckled.




"Grandmother likes them. That's why the name of the shop..."


"Yes?" Buffy handed over twenty pounds and waited.


"The Clever Hand. Do you see?" He handed over the brown paper bag containing the goods and her change.


"I do. It is clever, the hand and the name. Thank you for your help."


Turning to leave, she had the door open when he asked, "Would you be interested in a coffee sometime? I mean," she heard him swallow and Buffy turned back, "I'm not from around here, at least not for a while, and you're new..."


Was there something wrong with her hearing? Did this nice man just ask her for a date?


"Are you asking me for a date?"


His pale skin flushed red. "'s just coffee and I thought to make a friend."


She stood and stared. She knew that she was unavailable, but he seemed so nice. Shy, but nice and she could use another friend. No. Think of Angel. She couldn't entertain the thought.


The now thoroughly embarrassed Kevin apologised. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have asked."


Feeling sorry for him now, she said, "Can I get back to you on that?"


His smile made her glad that she hadn't outright refused.


Feeling a little guilty, she left and tried not to hurry away. Flustered, she bumped into a pair of blue jeans, and when she looked up she saw the jeans contained her friend and Watcher.


"Buffy, what a pleasant surprise. I was driving by and saw your car parked out front, and thought perhaps you'd like to join me in a cup of coffee?"


Buffy looked back at the Clever Hand.


"That'll be nice. Let's go."


Giles frowned at his Slayer. She seemed edgy. Perhaps a cup of coffee would lead to her divulging the reason for her mood. On second thoughts, perhaps a cup of chamomile was in order.


He followed her to the small shop that sold healthy snacks, tea and refreshments.


Kevin peeped through the glass in the door, and watched as Buffy and her friend retraced their steps and headed for the tearoom. He wondered if that was the friend who liked to draw.




Buffy bowled through the study door with her gifts in hand to find Angel talking on the phone. Well, he wasn't talking exactly, but he was chuckling at something the caller had said. His eyes alive with laughter, he waved to Buffy and mouthed a hello.


She mouthed back, who is it?


His lips formed one word. Faith.


She didn't know if the lurch in her heart was one of gladness or jealousy. She and Faith were good now, but the way Angel's eyes danced and his lips quirked, she couldn't help but feel the sting of envy.


"Buffy has just walked in. Do you want to say hi?"


Angel handed the phone to her with a smile.


"Hello? Faith?"


"Hi, B. How's tricks?"


"I'm good. There's nothing much happening this side of the ocean, well, not right now. How's Cleveland?"


"The same. The hellmouth has had its moments, but it's quiet for now. There's the odd vamp to dust, the stupid ones anyway. The ones that haven't heard there's a Slayer in town."


"Speaking of, you're not staying in some dump of a motel are you?"


Buffy heard Faith laugh. It felt good to hear and she relaxed a little.


"Doesn't Giles tell you anything, B? I have a sweet setup. Giles has set up an account for me, which pays the rent and buys my food. I've met someone who could possibly turn out to be a decent Watcher. How does one become a Watcher these days? Please don't tell me that Andrew has any say in the matter. Never mind that, you and Angel should come and visit."


"You know that's not possible, Faith. I wish we could."


"I don't suppose you could send the big guy over, could you? I could show him the town."


The sting of envy became a stab. Buffy replied, "He's a free man, Faith. Why don't you ask him?"


Buffy handed the phone back and quickly left the room, her gifts forgotten on Giles' desk.




"I'm sorry, Angel. I made a joke and it didn't go down well. My bad. Tell her I'm sorry and I didn't mean it."


Vampire hearing had not let him down. He sighed.


"It's alright, Faith. Please don't worry about it. You take care of yourself."


"I'll get on to that business for you as soon as I can."


"Do not put yourself in danger, Faith, safety first."


Faith snorted at her end. "Yeah, and you always put safety first."


Angel wanted to plead; instead he forced his voice to sound stern. "I mean it, Faith. Please, I don't want learn that you died on my account." Okay, stern and pleading.


If Faith could sound chastised, she did now. Angel didn't believe it for a minute.


"Okay, boss. I'll be safe as a house. Promise. Now you better go and sweet talk that sister Slayer of mine. Be seeing you."


"You too, Faith."


He placed the receiver gently on its cradle and noticed the paper bag on the desk. Buffy had brought it in with her. Curiosity bade him look inside.





Angel found Buffy warming up in prelude to a training session. She had stripped down to simple black leggings and a bra top. He wanted to stop and stare, but there were more important matters to discuss.




She felt him, the moment he entered the room, and suddenly she felt quite foolish for running out of the study. Buffy lifted her face from her knee, and felt even sillier when she saw the paper bag in his hand and gratitude warm in his eyes. Her smile was one of contrition as she straightened and walked to where he stood.


"I'm such a goose," she said.


"Maybe," he murmured and bent his head to give her a kiss. Her arms circled his neck and she clung to him, deepening the kiss. Bare feet left the ground and her strong legs wound round his waist.


When she could no longer breathe, Buffy tore her lips away from his. Damn needing oxygen.


"Thank you."


She knew Angel meant the paper and charcoal, but she pretended otherwise.


"Kissing is an art," she told him.


"Need a sparring partner?"


Buffy kissed him again, hard and long, and squeezed her legs tight. A normal man's ribs would have cracked under the pressure. Angel chuckled, dropped the gifts onto Buffy's towel and pushed her body up against the wall. She laughed, released her legs, kicked both heels against the wall and spun them both across the room.


"What do you think?" she said.


Angel had a tight hold on his Slayer, twisted about and fell backwards to the floor. Buffy grinned as her vampire kicked off his shoes, holding her to his chest. She broke his hold and rolled away to come up on her feet. She gave him time to pull off his socks before attacking him. He blocked her fist aimed at his head, and as he got to his feet, the other one meant for his ribs. His hook she avoided and the dance began. They lost themselves in the rhythm of blows, blocks and jabs. This had been the only thing allowed once upon a time, as close to sex as they dared. Now, this was just the forerunner. Angel's cotton shirt came off and Buffy grinned. Oh yeah! This was warming up.


Giles ventured in from the garden. He had decided to give Buffy a chance to give Angel his gift in private and besides, he enjoyed the walk about, especially since John and his odd helper had put in the new gardens about the house. The grounds had seemed rather stark, bare, and austere before. Now, they were alive with various shades of foliage and the pretty colours of new flowers that were blooming. Even the new rose bushes offered a new bud here and there, soon to be sharing their glory with the summer sun.


Once inside, he peered into the kitchen to find it bare. The study was empty too. Giles found the two cats sitting outside the door of the training room. Their ears were twitching and their eyes wide. Giles didn't have to put his ear to the door to hear the thump of feet on wooden floors or the smack of fist against muscle. Buffy's laughter rang out and Giles hurried away with a smile. Whatever mood Buffy had been in earlier, Angel had managed to dispel. He turned to see that the cats hadn't budged.


"Come on you two. Nothing to worry about."


Zillah and Aristotle gave him a stare, perhaps considered that the door was remaining closed, and followed the path Giles had taken down the hall, their tails high.




Dinner under the belt, Buffy and Angel retired with Giles to his study. Both men were sipping whiskey, Buffy was drinking tea.


"What did you find at Woodhenge?" Angel was the first to ask. Giles had left that morning on hearing reports of something untoward there.


"Vandalism, pure and simple!" Giles' vehemence showed how much he detested the wanton destruction of such an ancient and precious site. "Fortunately the ring markers are made of concrete. Imagine what damage could be done to the original wood if they still stood. As it is, a couple of the markers have to be reset and others cleaned of graffiti."


"A wasted journey then."


"A waste of energy for all concerned. I don't understand the need to deface public property, let alone target a mysterious wonder of ancient Britain." Giles took a long swallow from his glass. His annoyance had abated in the drive back from Woodhenge, but now it resurfaced in the telling.


"You think that the younger generation would put their energies into something constructive, wouldn't you?"


Two pair of eyes focused on her. "What? I'm right, aren't I?"


An Angelus-like smirk played across Angel's lips. The vampire didn't say a word. Giles, however, wasn't so wise.


"Do you count yourself in that number?"


Buffy's eyes narrowed dangerously. "Young? I hope you didn't mean the other, Giles?"


Realising his mistake, Giles stammered, "I - I'm sorry. I certainly didn't mean to imply that you were a vandal."


"So, I'm no longer counted as young?" Buffy pouted.


It was a no win situation for Giles and he shook his head in resignation. Buffy giggled and Angel's smirk widened.


"You could have warned me, Angel," the Watcher complained.


The vampire shrugged and said, "I'm with her."


The Englishman sighed. Buffy and Angel were a team, no doubt about it.


"It appears as if we have another quiet day ahead of us tomorrow."


Buffy finished her drink and stood up. "Don't sound so upset, Giles. We've had about as much excitement as we can stand. The summer is here, no apocalypse looming, we licked the last one," she eyed Angel when she said that, "let's just enjoy the quiet."


Angel said, "I found something of interest today."


Buffy saw Giles' face light up. She groaned and threw her lover a look of despair.


"Something interesting? Where?" Giles asked eagerly.


"In the newspaper."


He forgot how literal the vampire could be sometimes. "I mean whereabouts and what is of interest?"


Buffy saw the twitch of Angel's lips. He had deliberately baited Giles. She looked away trying to hide her smile. Giles didn't stand a chance between the two of them.






"Truee?" Buffy looked back, puzzled.


"Trewa," Giles corrected her.


"That's what I said."


He spelled it, and she rolled her eyes. Angel got out of his seat and retrieved the newspaper he had put aside. He put the paper page up on Giles' desk. The article was a small one and offered little information. Giles and his Slayer leaned over to read.


‘It seems as if ancient rites of witchcraft are once again about to descend on Trewa. The Witches' Rock has said to be returned. Mr and Mrs Braithwaite, while on holiday in Zennor, came upon the mystery during their walk yesterday. The town now waits for the coming of the witches.'


Buffy said, "Not much to go on."


"For those that know the legend, they need nothing else."


Angel made an observation. "Do you think it is linked to the Woodhenge incident?"


Buffy didn't think so. "You think vandals put back a rock?"


Giles nodded, however. "Midsummer could be."


"Midsummer? A bit late for that." Buffy's eyebrows rose.


"The witches used to gather at Trewa at Midsummer, and Woodhenge is aligned to the Midsummer sunrise."


"Uh-huh! Some one needs to go and check it out."


"I'll head off down there tomorrow, Buffy. It's not as if I'm needed here at the moment."


"I'll go." Without further preamble Angel was out of the room. Buffy looked out the window, there was still a little of the day left so her lover couldn't make his escape just yet.


"What's up, Giles? Why is Angel in a hurry to go Tru...Trewa?"


The look in Giles' eyes was one of understanding, and a little sadness. "It was once said that anyone who touched the Witches' Rock at midnight was protected against evil and bad luck. Some say the rock has to be touched nine times to bring about this protection. And, is it only on Midsummer's Eve, or does the charm work with any midnight?"


"And Angel is..." Buffy's throat closed up.


"Wanting to protect us from..."


"But Angelus is not a possibility anymore."


"Not through the happiness clause, no. Think about it Buffy. Angel's past has presented him and us with problems and will continue to do so. There is also the remote possibility of Angelus being cast loose with majicks. Angel knows this and maybe fears it."


"Angel isn't scared of anything, Giles."


"That's not true. He fears harming you, us, and the innocents he has sworn to protect. He may not be afraid for himself, but he is afraid of what could happen to others."


Buffy stood, letting Giles' words sink in. "I think I better go and see this rock for myself."


Giles nodded. "It's a fair way to Trewa. It's north of Land's End, the Atlantic side. The traffic is notorious this time of year. I don't think Angel can get there in time, even driving fast."


Heading for the door, Buffy snorted. "Have you ever seen Angel drive slowly?"


No, he hadn't. "I'll book a Bed and Breakfast for you. Take the phone and give me a ring when you get there."



Angel wasn't all that surprised that Buffy wanted to tag along on the trip to Trewa. She was enjoying the quiet of the warm summer days, and protested at anything that threatened to spoil them, but he knew her, knew that her very being lived for the fight, was finely tuned to the hunt, and that it made her blood sing. He was no different. He was a vampire and vampires were creatures that lived to kill. They drank down the life force of others to maintain their lives and the violence was in his blood. He revelled in it, the thrill of the hunt, the brutality of it all, and he knew that he should be ashamed by it, and sickened to the core. Part of him was disgusted with himself, the other part, the major portion and maybe it was the demon he was, yearned for the letting of blood, the savagery, the passion of the hunt and its conclusion. He listened to Buffy chatter beside him, happy to have her distract him from his morose thoughts.


Buffy babbled about her day, told him about the art shop and its wondrous contents, her coffee with Giles, and the lovely letter she had received from Dawn, to which she had replied immediately.


Buffy eventually settled into silence, giving Angel the opportunity to ponder some more, and to navigate the insane road system the United Kingdom had laid down over the centuries. Buffy still felt uneasy in the passenger seat. In the United States she would have been driving if sitting where she sat.


She didn't think that it was possible to fall asleep while her vampire was speeding through the dark countryside, but she had. The Carrera is a sleek and compact car and it hugs the road exceptionally well. However, it is a sports car, and performance, not comfort, is its prime requisite. The jarring had been an annoyance, but Buffy kept her mouth and her eyes closed. Angel was quieter than usual, if that was at all possible. She dozed.


The journey had taken longer than he had anticipated. The lateness of the hour hadn't impacted at all on the summer traffic. It had been horrendous. Give him a demon to kill rather than to fight the short-tempered and tired holidaymaker behind the wheel of his car. The vampire didn't have to look at his watch to know it was well past midnight and nearer to the new day.


He pulled up on the side of the road. It was time to ring Giles and when he picked up the phone he saw that bar thing that indicated a signal. That in itself was a small miracle. Angel didn't trust cell phones; they refused to work at the most inconvenient times. Buffy stirred at the sound of his voice.


"Where are we?" she asked, her voice husky from sleep.


Angel said into the phone, "Buffy's awake."


He turned to her. "We're near Trewa, or what used to be Trewa. Giles has had a job finding us accommodation. This is the high season, as he calls it, and St Ives is packed solid. The town is pretty and very popular so he gave up and tried something different."


Buffy stretched as far as the car would allow. "I hope he found somewhere," she grumbled, worrying about the soon to be sun factor.


"You talk to him." Angel handed her the phone.


"Giles?" Buffy stifled a yawn.


"Buffy. As I was telling Angel, I've managed to find you accommodation in Zennor itself."


Buffy looked at the window into the night. "Where are we spending the day?"


"I tried to procure you a room at the Tinners Arms, the Zennor local pub. It has a wonderful guest house."




"Tinners, Buffy."


She ignored him. "And? I thought Angel said it was impossible to get bookings at such short notice?"


There was a chuckle from her Watcher. It sounded positively evil. "Angel's right. It is. The landlord believes that you are there to authenticate the Witches' Rock."


"Well, we are, aren't we?" Buffy blinked at Angel, who sat listening to both sides of the conversation.


Giles coughed. "Somehow they have the notion that you are affiliated with an organisation that publishes its findings. If you do find the Rock genuine they stand to gain a lot in tourism."


"Aren't they afraid it could work out the other way?"


"The village folk believe in witches and majick. Whatever you find they are willing to stand by it. The landlord has a sister who sometimes takes in guests. He rang back to confirm that she is agreeable."


"Do we know where to find her?"


"Go to the pub. Her brother will direct you to her home. The name is Berryman."


"Okay, as long as they don't get too antsy about taking in guests at some ungodly hour. Well, I guess it's time to go authenticate. Bye, Giles."


"Good luck, Buffy."


Angel restarted the Carrera and drove the last few miles to Trewa.





Angel got out of the car and handed Buffy a torch. He turned his torch on, for her sake she knew.


"There was an old tin mine here, once," he said as he led the way on to open grassland. It was eons ago, but he didn't say that.


Something occurred to her. "Oh. Tinners Arms."


Buffy could only see to the limit of her light and her eyesight was better than most. She was grateful for the brightness of his glow ahead. What she did see were rocks strewn about, some of which were large indeed.


"Why all the boulders?" she asked as they manoeuvred around them.


"The rocks are granite. St Ives up the coast was built from the granite that was quarried here..."


"I get it, granite everywhere."


Buffy followed Angel's dark form, his night-vision being excellent and he seemed to know the way.


"What's that?" Buffy was surprised but not frightened of the large shape that loomed out at her.


Angel's light picked it out. "Cromlech."


"Huh? Cromlech? What's that, a giant stone?" It looked like one of those Easter Island giant heads to Buffy.


"It's a megalithic rock formation. It could be a tomb; there are a lot of them around here."


Buffy waved her light about and found that as far as she could see, there were odd shapes standing sentinel in the night.


"I can smell the sea," she said.


Angel's words were clipped. She could almost say breathless but that was always true. "We're not far from the coast. The wind and rain has buffeted the stones for centuries, hence the shapes."


Buffy shut up. The land undulated in hills and troughs and through these, Angel navigated unerringly. Her short legs kept up with his longer ones and before long his feet came to a stop. The light of his torch played across the jumble of stones that were flung about in all directions. She could see the beam centre on the pile of stone that sat before them, and race away only to return again and again. Her beam joined his when it finally settled on the pile that first drew his attention.


"Is that it? That pile of rubble?"


Angel didn't answer. His silence told her that something was wrong. She didn't want to shine the light into his eyes, but his stance informed her that this was not what he had hoped for. She laced her fingers through his.


"This isn't the Witches' Rock, is it?"


A soft sigh, before, "No, it's not."


"Touching the rock nine times isn't going to solve our problems," she stated.


She felt him turn his head. "Giles told you?"


"Yeah. He cares, you know." She looked up into eyes that glowed with reflected torchlight.


His voice was a whisper. "It was a foolish wish."


"Doesn't matter, either way."




She nodded. "Yeah."




It was a short drive to Zennor. It could hardly be called a village, more a hamlet if anything. Angel found the Tinners Arms with no trouble. The church of St Senara stood nearby, its tower unmistakable. He pulled into the small yard that served for parking, and it was close enough to morning for the landlord to be up and about preparing breakfast for his guests. The light in the windows beckoned and they entered, seeking sanctuary from the dawn.


The landlord was pleased to see them and invited them for the morning's meal. Angel stood silent waiting for Buffy's reply. If she was hungry they would stay. Buffy wasn't, and with an eye on the window, asked to be shown to their prearranged room.


Thomas Berryman, thick-set and middle-aged, hustled them out the door and up the street, all the while chatting about the Rock, and trying albeit unsuccessfully, to find out what they expected up at Trewa. Angel, already holding their overnight bags, thanked the man for putting them up.


"It's no trouble, I assure you. Mary is happy to have guests that have an interest in the history of the place. Ah, here we are."


Thomas walked them up the lane - Buffy was hoping their temporary bed was in the whitewashed house that stood out, in the grey, glum-looking village - and around the corner. It wasn't. The home they stood before looked like most houses out in rural Cornwall, two-storied and made of stone. Granite, Buffy mused.


They waited while Thomas - Tom, he insisted - knocked, and after the introductions were over, he bid them goodbye and promised them a fine meal at the Arms when they were rested.


Mary was a stout woman and had an easy way with her. She invited them in with a smile and showed them to a small but lovely room. It had its own bathroom, which to Buffy was amazing.


"Don't mind Tom," she said, "he goes on a bit, but means well."


"We appreciate you putting us up at such an hour," Angel said putting the bags down.


"You must be tired after your journey; I'll let you get to your bed. Sleep as long as you like and if I'm not about when you wake, help yourself to the kitchen, and I'll leave a spare key on the hook by the door."


Mary gazed at the two of them, stared in particular at Angel and left them to it.


Buffy had noticed the glance. "I think you have another admirer," she giggled as she headed for the bathroom.




It was well after midday when Buffy woke. She climbed out of bed, showered and changed, and closed the door on the sleeping vampire. Mary was in the front room, a parlour, Buffy remembered, working at an embroidery hoop. A black and grey tabby lay stretched out asleep on the window sill. The woman looked up and slipped her needle into the linen.


"Hello, Buffy. Would you like something to eat? I have some Cornish pasties warming in the oven"


"That would be lovely, thank you, Mrs Berryman."


Mary put down her sewing and led Buffy into the kitchen. There was an old-fashioned hearth filled with a more modern stove against the outer wall, the chimney flu above it redundant. Small pots filled with herbs looked out the window from their place on the sill. A string of onions hung from a hook and bulbs of garlic huddled together atop a bowl of fresh vegetables. The woman loved to cook.


Buffy sat at the kitchen table and watched as Mary set a place.


"It's Quick," the Cornishwoman said.




"My married name is Quick. Berryman is my maiden name, and please call me Mary."


"Oh." Buffy saw the second plate go on the table and added, "Angel's not feeling well. He's sleeping."


With a sympathetic tut, Mary removed the plate. "I thought he looked a little pale this morning. Was it something he ate?"


Buffy hid her smile. "You could say that." Changing the subject she asked, "Is your husband at work?" Though what there was to do out here in the middle of nowhere was beyond her, she thought.


Bread, thickly sliced and homemade, landed on the table along with a slab of butter and a bottle of sauce.


"No, dear. He died a few years back. It's only me now."


"I'm sorry."


Mary put the warm pasties in front of her. They smelled delicious. Buffy's belly rumbled and she gave in to its demands and bit into the piquant pastry parcel. It was delicious: the minced meat, onions and vegetables melted in her mouth. Mary filled the kettle and when it boiled made a pot of tea. Milk, sugar and two cups were added to the table's larder and Mary sat down to keep Buffy company.


"Quick, that's a strange name."


Mary chuckled. "It's an old one. Around these parts we're all related. The Quicks are reputed to be descended from a sailor that was shipwrecked here. If you visit the church, you will see a sundial on the tower wall. It was made by Paul Quick. And speaking of strange names..."


Buffy swallowed her food in mid chew. "I know, Buffy."


"And, Angel?"


Buffy grinned. "Yep."




After her late lunch Buffy left the house to explore the village. She thought to call in at the church - it dominated the village - and besides, it was only down the road.


Entering the church, Buffy found it full of people. They were tourists come to view one of the ancient churches of Cornwall. Avoiding knapsacks, children and the moving mass of humanity, Buffy squeezed by and peered about in awe. The church was smaller than she had thought, smaller than most churches north of Cornwall and the original stonework leapt out at her from the 12th Century. It was beautiful with its stone arches and the roof was a wonder. The wooden beams curved upwards, reminding Buffy of the ribs of an old sailing boat. And yet when she ventured further the church seemed to gain rooms, and like arms of a sea creature, extend in all directions. It didn't, though Buffy felt as if it did. The south-east portion of the chancel dated back to Norman times, this she learned from listening to a woman reading from a brochure. The colonial that she was - Buffy chuckled at Giles' description of her countrymen - barely knew anything about the Normans. All she could conjure up was Robin Hood and the Sheriff of Nottingham. Or was that Saxon?


Buffy admired the stained-glass window depicting saints she did not know. It was pretty and let in some light. The other slender windows were not so fond of the day at all. The main attraction appeared to be an old wooden bench on the right side of the small chapel. People were clustered about the ends of the seat. When Buffy got a chance she saw a carved image there. It was the Mermaid of Zennor. The mermaid was holding a mirror and comb. She was reputed to have lured a handsome young man, a Matthew Trewhella, into the sea. The mermaid had been captivated by his beautiful voice as he sang in church. He was never seen again, although it was said that his voice could be heard for many years down in Pendour Cove. Buffy silently thanked the stranger who insisted on sharing his knowledge. Who needed a tour guide when the tourists supplied most of the information?


On the south side of the tower a small bronze dial was set. It, too, bore the figure of a mermaid. There was an inscription: the Glory of the world Paseth. Paul Quick fecit, 1737. Oh, Mary Berryman's ancestor. Buffy was impressed. A pair of crossed bones showed that the passage of time ends in death. She gasped. Above the dial an angel's head with wings was rising above mortality. Buffy left the church in a daze. There was so much history here, in the churches, the land and the people. She needed a walk to clear her head.


Ignoring the Celtic crosses in the church graveyard, she strode to the crest of the hill. Turning around at the top, she gazed out over the village to catch sight of the ocean. It was stunning, the view. The land was parcelled off with stone walls, and yellow gorse accentuated the blue of the sea. She would walk down to the cliffs, the call of the gulls a lure. Buffy retraced her steps - her walking shoes comfortable and speedier than the ones she passed on others' feet - hurrying along the road that accommodated the tour bus that sat outside the Tinners Arms. Her arms swinging, her jacket over her shoulder, American or no, Buffy had a local's knowledge of the British weather. It could turn, and often did, within a matter of minutes.




Mary hovered outside her guest's bedroom door. The young woman, Buffy, had set off to sightsee and hadn't returned. It had been hours and Mary had yet to catch a glimpse of her young man. The daylight would be gone and the two investigators hadn't made a move to investigate. She startled when the door opened.


Angel was reading when he became aware of the heartbeat outside his door. It could only be his host and she seemed to be in a quandary. Before she could knock he opened the door.


Mary peered up at her guest. The room was in gloom, the curtains drawn, and Angel was cast in sinister shadow. His smile, however, immediately dispelled that fear.


"Can I help you?" he asked.


Mary relaxed. "I hate to be a bother. Buffy said you were unwell...and I thought you might like a cup of tea."


To Mary, Angel seemed to hesitate before saying, "Thank you, I would like that."


"I have something baking in the oven; do you feel well enough to come down to the kitchen?"


He considered the layout of the house, the windows, and thought that he could manage it.


"I'll come down, thank you, Mary."


She smiled and hurried down the hall to the stairs. Such a polite young man, she thought.


Behind her, Angel sighed and closed the door. He had tried ringing Giles earlier only to find there wasn't a scrap of signal in the village. Oh well, if there was an emergency, Giles knew where to find them. It was not as if they could do anything from here anyway. Angel worried about it though; his shortcomings were an inconvenience if not a hindrance.


Angel waited a moment before following Mary down the stairs. Thankfully, the old houses had small windows and even facing the western sun, there was ample shade for the vampire to traipse from room to room. Entering the kitchen, he saw the sun shining bright over the sink and table. There was, however, a chair at the head of the table that was safe for him to use. He sat and felt something rub against his leg. It was a cat, well fed by the looks. He dangled his hand and felt the cat lick his fingers. He tickled it under the chin.


Mary filling the teapot, noticed.


"Wesley likes you."


The name was unexpected and it felt like a blow. He continued to pet the cat as he tried to gather his equilibrium.


He managed at long last to ask, "Wesley?"


Mary set the cups down. "John Wesley preached here in 1748."


Of course he had. The stone he had used as his pulpit stood by the road leading into the village. Angel had been a real boy back then.


Mary poured the tea and passed the cup to Angel. He declined the milk and sugar. The woman opened the door to the oven to check on something. She closed the door, took a seat and helped herself to a cup of tea.


"Sorry. I help with the meals at the Arms, pasties, apple pies, figgie hobbin and the like. Goodness, where are my manners? Would you like something to eat?"


Angel shook his head. "Am I keeping you?"


"No, not at all." Mary lapsed into silence, looked down at her hands that fiddled with her cup.


Angel did not fidget. He sat and watched his host sitting in her chair, the sunlight falling across her head and shoulders. Was it instinct that sat her there, or something else? The sound of her heart resonated in his ears. It was racing a little; she was nervous. He waited and took a sip of black tea.


"Wesley likes you," she repeated bringing her eyes up to his.


He waited. Mary's heart settled; she had come to a decision.


He heard the intake of breath. "There's something about the two of you."


He sat very still.


"Buffy is special and so are you."


"Buffy is special. I'm not."


Mary shook her head. "You are different. I can feel it. There is something..."


The vampire didn't move.


"You have already been out to Trewa and seen the Rock." She looked to him for confirmation. He nodded not wanting to lie.


She continued, "What are you going to do?"


Angel looked at the window. "Zennor is busy today; there are a bus load of tourists out there." He looked back at her, his gaze deep and penetrating. "We're not going to do anything. Do you want us to?"


Mary shrugged her shoulders. "I couldn't stop you if you were going to, but I am glad."


He leaned back and the cat jumped up into his lap. It settled against his waist with a purr.


"You know, don't you?" he asked, stroking the cat.


"The Rock? I had nothing to do with it, nor the village folk. It'll come out, it always does."


"Not by us."


"Thank you." Mary frowned. "You can sense these things?"


Angel produced one of Giles' cards and put it on the table. "Project Paranormal. Keep it. You may need to contact us one day. And we, you," he added.


Mary picked up the card. "Me?"


The vampire smiled at the witch. "You're special too."




The Slayer had returned from her walk all windblown and rosy cheeked. She had had a lovely day. She had found the Wayside Museum in a cottage that displayed old domestic and mining tools, and had browsed for souvenirs. A typical Californian girl, Buffy had even managed to shop. Buffy helped Mrs Berryman carry the Cornish apple pies and biscuits down to the Arms, and had stayed on for dinner. Angel joined her when the sun finally sank beneath the waves and had a drink with brother and sister before heading for Westbury. They were given an invitation to return at any time.


Buffy was full of fun facts about her day and relayed them all to an attentive Angel. He had a few facts of his own to share, like the cottages a mile over the hill that D H Lawrence, his wife Frieda, John Middleton Murray and Katherine Mansfield had lived in during the First World War. Buffy surprised Angel in that she knew who D H Lawrence was.


"He wrote Lady Chatterley's Lover, right?"


Of course, he mused, everyone had heard of it.


Still a little disappointed, Angel drove through the night, grateful that Buffy had fallen asleep leaving him alone with his thoughts.  He withheld the sigh forming. Oh, he was over his let-down, really. He just couldn't help but brood over it.


In all his long life, he should know better than to expect to have things his way. The universe didn't hand out breaks to demons and mass murderers, or both. He remembered Charles Gunn saying something similar when they were running from the power of Jasmine. Oh, he had been asking for a damned break back then, and yes, the Powers That Be had given them one, but at what cost?


Closing his eyes briefly, Angel tried to shake his glum thoughts. He did have something miraculous in his life. Buffy, her love, and he did have somewhat of a life. He was part of something again, doing what was right, albeit a little at a time.


The sigh escaped all the same when his thoughts turned to the ridiculous pile of rubble sitting in place of the Witches' Rock. The persons who had done such a thing knew that the rock or rocks had been square of shape, and so the muddle of rock had been placed into a square. It wasn't even close. The stones of the original Witches' Rock had been huge and cubed. No ordinary man could have moved them. It was said that the huge rocks of Burns Down - named for the many fires lit by the witches on Midsummer's Eve - and all over this part of Cornwall were called forth by giants. As Angelus, he had seen the Witches' Rock. He had never ventured there among the gathering of witches, too dangerous by far for the likes of him. No, he had stopped by, curious one night, to see what drew the Penwith hags, and curious to know if luck could be had from the touching of the stone. Angelus wasn't the superstitious sort; the demon had found it amusing that he, The Scourge of Europe, sought Good Luck from the evil doings of Witches. Whether or not it had worked, one couldn't tell or care. Perhaps in his heart, Angel's hope of wanting good things was all that it was: a hope for the future, a desire for some peace at last.


One good thing had come out of all this; they had made a friend or two. Mary Berryman had a little power of her own. She had obviously inherited her talent, it was faint but it was there. Mary was the distant offspring of one of the old Penwith witches.


The car sped on, a dark shape ferrying darker thoughts - and dreamless ones - homewards in a race against the morning light.




Buffy woke in her bed later that morning with a vague memory of having gotten there courtesy of vampire arms. She turned her head to see her lover beside her, out to the world. She raised herself on her elbows, kissed the wrinkle of a frown that marred his beautiful forehead and quietly withdrew from the cool sheets. As she headed for the outdoors, having had a quick shower, she spied one of Angel's drawings sitting with a note attached.


For the church sale.


It was a skilfully drawn picture of the old village of Westbury. The church of St Cyprian's was prominent. In fact, when Buffy looked closely she realised that it was a drawing of the old village, as in, back in the day. She glanced over to the bed to the sleeping Angel and back down to the picture. This was beautiful, and an historical record to boot. Once again she looked at her vampire. He must have drawn this before he came to bed that morning. She wondered if the last few nights' adventure had prompted this foray into the past.



"I say," Giles said when Buffy showed him the sketch. Once upon a time, Giles would have shuddered to view a drawing of Angel's. The picture of Jenny the demon had drawn would haunt him for life. Not now, and besides, this was Angel, not Angelus, and both had the hand of a fine artist. Now there was a conundrum. The hand was the same, the guiding light behind the hand, different, and yet both were superb talents. Giles shook his head and the riddle away.


"Is this how Westbury looked a hundred years ago?" Buffy asked, beaming at the hint of praise in Giles' two words.


"More like two hundred. This is amazing, and he wants to give it away?" Giles went to his shelves and pried out a book that contained the history of the local area and some old photographs.


Flipping through the pages, he said, "This won't show pictures that old, photography wasn't really in use before 1840 and then it was a cumbersome process. Mind you, the old, and one of the first types of photography was the daguerreotype developed by a Frenchman Louis Daguerre."


"You mean one of those old box-like cameras that stand on tripods and the photographer has to pull the cap off and ignite a flash? I've seen those in Westerns."


"No, that came later. The daguerreotype was virtually an image projected onto chemically treated paper and stayed there. The early attempts had images that faded after a short time...ah, here it is."


Giles pointed to the picture on the open page. It was a photo of a painting and that painting looked similar. Giles and Buffy placed the book above Angel's drawing. The painting in the book contained a few more houses and of course the church. The artist's view was from a slightly different angle, and they could see that Angel's artwork predated the painting by just a few years.


There was a stunned silence.


"Do you know what this means?" Giles' tone was almost one of awe.


"He was here in Westbury before we were?"


Giles chuckled. "Yes, Buffy, but think of it. Angel was here, and he has produced an accurate record of the times. This drawing is a priceless rendition from an artist born of the 18th century who just happens to be using modern paper and charcoal. It never really sinks in, Angel's great age, until something like this reminds us."


"Do we donate this to the jumble sale?" Buffy wanted to know.


"No one will believe this isn't a copy of an early piece. I think it is safe to do so although I am loath to part with it."


"Angel can draw you another, Giles. He won't mind."


"No..." Giles closed the book and put it back in place on the shelf. "Better not." He didn't sound too sure to Buffy.


"Okay, I'll give it to Martha and she can put it with our lot. The sale is for tomorrow, isn't it?"


"Saturday morning, yes." Giles sat down behind his desk and looked Buffy in the eye. "Now tell me what happened. I want details."




Giggles and perfume floated past Buffy as two girls, fifteen years or so, hurried by, one clutching a book, the other carrying a cake on a plastic plate. The cake stall must be doing a roaring trade she thought, her stomach growling.




Buffy looked up. It was Kevin from the art shop.




Kevin noted the fact her hands were empty. "I guess you haven't found anything of interest?"


"To buy?" Buffy looked about. "The cake stall is next. I'm famished."


"You can buy a cup of tea and cake from the table down the far end. I'm a bit hungry myself. Shall we?"


Buffy went tip toe trying to spy out Giles. She thought she saw him at the book table - where else? - and decided that yes, cake would be good.


"Okay, let's party."




"As in tea." Buffy snickered at her own wit. Kevin was turning out to be okay.


"Oh, I see. Make fun of the English," he served back to her.


Definitely friend material she thought, as they headed for the tea table. Buffy's steps slowed when she came abreast with the clothing stall. Oh, had her clothes been bought already? Her hand reached out to the periwinkle blue sleeve that peeked through the mishmash of donated garments.


"Is there something that takes your fancy?"


Buffy withdrew her hand abruptly. It didn't take much for her to get side-tracked, especially when it came to clothes.


She glanced at her companion. "No. The colour drew me. Let's eat," and with that she marched resolutely away to tea.


There was a crowd at the table waiting to be served and the two new friends took their place in the queue. A young mother and her son stood in line in front of Buffy. The child held a balloon and the boy's face had been painted in the likeness of a zebra. The little boy was chatting excitedly to his mother and with one of his frenetic arm movements his balloon escaped. The boy jumped to catch his air-born plaything. Buffy grabbed hold of it, but not before the boy entangled himself causing Buffy to fall into Kevin's arms.


"Sorry," she and Kevin murmured. They blushed as they straightened up and drew away from the accidental embrace.


The mother of the boy also apologised. "Oh, I'm so sorry. Peter gets a little excited. Thank you for saving the balloon."


Buffy handed the balloon back to Peter. "I like your zebra, Peter. Have you seen a real one?"


The boy stuck his tongue out at her, and his mother apologised again before dragging him away.


Buffy giggled. Kevin chuckled, and they both had to cover their mouths with their hands.


"At least we move up in the line," Kevin managed with a huge grin. Buffy's smile matched his and they finally reached the table that sold the refreshments.


Buffy was munching on a muffin, Kevin on scones, when Giles appeared, and with him was Lisa.


"I should have known you'd be here, Buffy." Giles eyed the young man beside her. "I don't believe we've met." He held out a hand. "I'm Rupert Giles and this is Lisa."


"Uh," Kevin wiped his hand on his pants, "I'm Kevin. Kevin Langford," and took Giles' hand. "Hello, Lisa," he nodded to her when she didn't offer her hand.


Well, this is awkward, Buffy thought, not really sure why.


"Hey, Lisa. What did you buy?" she asked, eyeing the basket that Lisa carried.


Lisa's gaze shifted from Buffy's companion to Buffy. "A couple of jars of Martha's jam and a chutney. Oh, and a pair of brightly coloured socks. A novelty, sure, but they'll do for around the house." Lisa brought them out of the basket and Buffy's cheeks burned. Lisa noticed.


"What? They're not yours are they?" she asked in dismay.


"They were. I hadn't anything to wear with them and I needed to find something to give, and..." she was babbling, she knew.


"They are lovely, Buffy." Lisa soothed and thought quickly. "I too have nothing that matches, but I love the colours and I couldn't resist."


Giles coughed. "We'll be getting on."


Kevin asked, to Buffy's consternation, "You're welcome to stop for tea."


"No, we'll let you young people alone." Giles turned to go. He didn't see the look that Lisa threw him.


"Did you do the drawing of the village, sir?"


Giles turned back. "Excuse me?"


"The sketch of Westbury. Buffy bought some materials from our shop and I wondered if you were the artist. It's very well done, if I'm any judge."


"Thank you, Kevin, but I do not have the talent. Another friend of ours is the artist."


Sensing Kevin was about to ask which friend, Lisa butted in. "Has the drawing been sold?" She had mentioned the sketch to Giles and he had informed her that Angel was the artist. Buffy's beau continued to surprise her, and more of a surprise was that Buffy was here with some one other than Angel.


Kevin looked at her. "I think it is going to auction. They do that with some of the more valuable items, and I would say that the sketch is something to treasure."


Lisa nodded her agreement. "It's wonderful, isn't it? I saw the picture early on and thought that it would be snapped up in no time. The church roof will benefit greatly from today's efforts."


Giles had a look in his eye that Buffy knew well. "The art shop you say? The Clever Hand is yours? I thought Mrs Buttsworth was the proprietor?"


"She's my grandmother. I'm here to help out for the summer while she recuperates."


Giles hadn't heard of the old lady's infirmity and didn't want to intrude. "Ah! Good for you. Well, we must be off. We'll see you at home, Buffy, when you're ready. Kevin." Giles gently touched Lisa's elbow, an indication for her to go with him.


She took the hint. "Have a good time, Buffy, I'll see you later. Bye, Kevin."


Buffy's appetite had disappeared about the time Giles and Lisa had arrived. Her nervous fingers pulled apart the rest of her cake. What were Giles and Lisa thinking? She recognised the source of her unease. It was Kevin, or rather the fact that she was having tea with him, in plain sight of a dozen or so people. And that was a sin, because? She wasn't doing anything underhanded. She wasn't cheating on Angel. She was having tea with a friend. And yet, the niggle at the back of her brain told her that if the shoe was on the other foot, she would be miffed. More than miffed, she would be pretty ticked off. Look at how she had reacted with Faith, and with Angel's obvious pleasure in talking to her. Buffy's head wanted to connect with the table, but better not. No, she was mature Buffy, one who could have male friends and not be flustered or feel guilty, and a mature Buffy who could learn to accept that Angel had a friend of his own, female or no.


Kevin didn't notice Buffy's fingers demolish her muffin, he was thinking about her friends. They sat in silence. Kevin finished his morning tea, Buffy fidgeted. The silence grew.


"They seem a nice couple."


Buffy coughed. Luckily her mouth was not full of hot tea. "They're not...a couple, I mean. Just friends."


He looked at her, envious. "You have a lot of friends."


Buffy was about to deny it when she thought, that yes, maybe she did have a few more friends than she realised. She missed her friends, her sister and Sunnydale - the place that was now a crater in good old California - and now she had old and new friends here in Westbury.


She threw Kevin a brilliant smile. "I guess I do. Can you be my friend too?"


His smile was just as dazzling. "I hope so."


She drew in a breath, about to tell him that she was spoken for, when a frog leapt onto the table.




"What's that?" Kevin peered at the intruder. "What's a frog doing in here?"


The frog didn't hop; it walked on to her plate, walked off again, and leapt off the table.


"It's a toad," Buffy said, standing, because several people were edging away from tables, and there was quite a commotion starting in the hall.


Kevin got to his feet, bewildered. "Toad? How do you know?"


"I think there is more than one." Buffy said as she began to move away. Eyes on her feet for any amphibian underfoot, she began to search the hall. Kevin was close behind her.


"Toads are ugly looking; they have dry warty skin and bulbous things behind the eyes."


"You seem to know a lot about toads."


"I've seen a few," she admitted and knelt down to scoop up a specimen. "See." She held it up for him to examine.


He peered at the toad, not at all squeamish and asked why she wasn't.


She put the creature down and straightened. "They're just animals. I've seen worse." Buffy was worried. Was this a regular occurrence here in Westbury? Did toads just suddenly appear?


The chatter of excited people raised a notch and she glanced about. Everyone was looking at the floor and at the tables. She herself looked down to see that, of the toad, there was no sign. There wasn't a toad anywhere.


"Where did they go?" her companion asked.


Where indeed?


"I must go. I'm sorry, Kevin." Buffy edged away, smiling apologetically. "It was nice, the tea and all. I'll see you later, okay?" She turned and hurried away, her eyes searching for anything else out of the ordinary.


Kevin stood and watched her go. Strange girl.



Buffy was a little breathless when she arrived home, having run most of the way. Giles had been her lift into Westbury, not out. She found Angel with Giles in his study.


"What are you doing up?" she asked forgetting her agitation for the moment.


"Good morning to you too," Angel replied, and received a kiss in reply. She moved away and didn't notice the slight flaring of his nostrils as she found a seat.


"Were there toads?" she asked, focusing once more on the strange phenomenon of the morning.




"Maybe you didn't see them on the road. They arrived at the church hall and were gone in a few minutes. It wasn't just me, everyone else saw them too."


"They disappeared?"

Buffy nodded. "As in poof."


Giles frowned at her use of Buffy-speak. "Did you see them *poof*?"


"No. One minute they were everywhere, and when I looked again they were gone."


"Did they appear elsewhere in the village, Buffy?"


"I didn't ask...and perhaps I should have," she admitted sheepishly.


"I'll go back and enquire about town." Giles stood, ready to depart.


"I knew I jinxed it," Buffy grumbled.




"The apocalypse. Toads are a sign, aren't they? And here I was congratulating myself that we had none looming. Didn't the last one fill our quota?" Her shoulders slumped, and she looked sad enough that Angel came to her and kissed the top of her head.


"It may be nothing," Angel murmured, hoping that it wasn't a lie.


"Just like at Woodhenge and Trewa? I don't think so." She wasn't buying it. She had a feeling.


Giles had the same feeling. He hesitated by the door. "It could be another co-incidence."


"Co-incidences don't occur in our world, Giles." Buffy was worried.


Angel said, "Those were pranks, this is something different."


She snorted. "You hope."


Giles left them then, and the last thing he heard was Angel asking what she meant by that.



He hurried to the car, worrying about the two of them, knowing he was being silly about his reaction to Buffy having tea with another young man. He knew how much in love his Slayer and her vampire were. No question. He was witness and sensitive to every nuance of emotion those two had for each other. Sure, Angel was hard to read most times, but his love for Buffy was now evident, the vampire allowing his love to shine through after many years of burying his emotions. In the back of his head, a worm burrowed carrying with it the niggling thought that all was not well with Buffy. His Slayer hadn't mentioned this Kevin Langford and, why hadn't she? Buffy had male friends before, Xander Harris for one. Was this one any different? And how would the vampire react to finding out? Angel could be unpredictable, not to mention dangerous. He shook the thoughts away. He needed to concentrate on the matter in hand. He had no doubt that Buffy knew that the amphibians had been toads. After all she had had plenty of opportunity to come in contact in her Slayer duties.


Giles drove along Doggetts Lane and parked outside the Punters Wine Bar. He popped his head in the door. A few people were sipping wine - it was near to noon - and he couldn't help but notice Travis, the proprietor, duck away when he caught sight of him. It didn't matter; he approached the couple sitting just inside the door.


"Excuse me; sorry to intrude. Did you notice anything unusual here this morning?"


The portly man with a florid complexion looked up in confusion.


"Unusual? How so?"


Giles hesitated. What could he say?


The slender woman seated across the table from him leaned forward, a gleam in her eye. "Are you referring to the sudden appearance of frogs earlier? It was very strange." Her peach lipstick curved upwards in a smile. "It did make for some excitement though."


Giles was relieved at the woman's straight forwardness. "It was strange, wasn't it? The creatures appeared at the church, and I was curious if they had been seen anywhere else." He looked at her partner. He wasn't at all interested, his drink and the cheeseboard occupying his attention.


It was time he made his escape. "Thank you for your time." He nodded to the woman. "And you too, sir." The man didn't even glance his way. Giles left feeling sorry for the woman, who waved as if to excuse her man. 


His next stop was the little supermarket that catered to the village folk. The newer and brighter supermarket at the other end of town served growing families and busier people; here the pace was more sedate and quiet.


"Good day, Mr Watson, how are you?"


A thin stick of a man, Tony Watson had a good heart. His smile reached his eyes and they crinkled beneath a shock of brown hair peppered with grey.


"Mr Giles. What can I do for you today?"


"An interesting thing happened at the church earlier. I was wondering..."


Watson slid the cigarette carton he was restocking the shelf with onto the counter. His hands gripped the glass and he leaned forward.


"Are you talking about the plague of toads we had earlier? It was the oddest thing. Here one minute, gone the next. I thought I would have to call the pest people. I can't be too careful. The Health Authorities could shut me down."


Giles could hear footsteps walking slowly down one of the small aisles. Whoever it was, was dallying and listening.


He lowered his voice. "How many were there?"


Watson lowered his too, co-conspirator. "I didn't count, but I could see maybe half a dozen, there could have been more in and under the shelves."


"They disappeared, you say?"


Watson blinked. "I know it sounds weird, but I could swear..."


Giles nodded and whispered, "You aren't the only one that swears."


Watson straightened, a relieved smile in place. He raised his voice. "Are you alright, Mrs Larkin? Did you find what you're looking for?"


A fairly young voice answered, "I'm fine, thank you."


"Thank you, Mr Watson. You have been a great help." Giles departed, leaving Watson to deal with his customer.


Giles made several more stops, the last being the outskirts of the new village. He entered Booths the Chemist and received some strange looks at his questions. Toads had not been seen.


Glancing at his watch he saw that it was past lunch. He turned for home and as he made his way through the village something spattered on his windshield. At first he thought it was rain, and then another spatter, more, and he realised the smudges on his windows were insects. He stopped by the side of the road and peered at the mess. Crickets - no, locusts. His frown deepened when he thought on Buffy's earlier prediction. Giles put the car into gear, reversed and drove about trying to determine how far the manifestation went. He hadn't driven a mile before the insects vanished, leaving only the smears to show that they had even existed and, he noticed, decimated flower beds in their once pretty front gardens. He resumed his journey home, keeping note of the gardens and the damage. He pulled up the drive at Summerdown House only to see that his precious new plants had suffered the same fate.


"Ruined!" he cried when he stepped from the Discovery.


Giles walked through his grounds shaking his head at the mess. Fortunately more than half the new foliage and flowers were unharmed. He guessed that the locusts had just made it this far before disappearing back to wherever they had come from.


A third of the asters and half of the dahlias greeted him as did the lobelia and the roses. The catmint survived, at least the cats would be grateful. The chrysanthemums were very chewed and droopy. The hebe, which had been showing such glorious colour, was gone as were parts of the shrubbery. Muttering obscenities under his breath he approached the front door. Buffy stood there waiting for him. Angel, he could see, stood back in the shadow of the hallway. The look on the Slayer's face said it all.


"I see the locusts made an appearance," he grumbled as he brushed by.


Buffy's look of "I told you so" vanished. "I'm sorry about the garden."


Giles stomped through to the kitchen and put the kettle on. Angel and Buffy followed him, not saying another word.


Giles lifted the teapot, received a nod from both of them and started spooning the tea leaves.


"At least I have some garden left. Those gardens were their pride and joy for some of the villagers, and now they have been completely destroyed."


Now Buffy dared say it. "Apocalypse?"


Buffy and Angel pulled out chairs at the kitchen table and watched as Giles set out the cups, milk and sugar.


Giles sighed, giving in. "I think you are right, Buffy. This has all the signs."


"The last apocalypse we had, had no signs at all."


Both human and Slayer stared at the vampire.


He continued, his gaze elsewhere in memory, "There was that one time...there were birds and rats...and fire."


"Oh good, fire, just what we need," Buffy grumbled.


The kettle boiled, Giles poured the steaming water into the pot and sat.






"The earth trembled," Angel said.


Buffy's head hit the table. "Just this once, can't we have a quiet summer?" The table muffled her words a little, her forehead glued to the wood.


Silence reigned as each contemplated the day's events. Giles poured the steeped tea, popped in Buffy's sugar requirements and topped it up with milk. The vampire drank his black and Giles finished pouring his own.


"I find it strange - Woodhenge and The Witches' Stone were not of a mystical nature."


Buffy pounced, lifting her head. "But the timing, Giles. Maybe there was something..."


"I think it's time to hit the books."


Buffy's head hit the table once more. Angel touched her hand ever so lightly and sat back to enjoy his tea. It was well that his lover did not see the corner of his mouth lift in his peculiar half-smile.


They had returned to the library to research when Martha and John rushed into the house, Martha all flushed and bothered.


John, ever quiet, stood as his wife blurted out, "Mr Giles. Your poor garden. Most of the village has been ravaged, our vegetable garden too. What are we to do?"


Giles was touched. "It's all right, Martha, John. The garden can be fixed. You go and tend to your own, we'll manage here."


"I can tidy up a few of the plants and shrubs before I go," John offered but Giles was adamant.


"Thank you, John. Please, it will wait; you go now and look to your own affairs. Please."


Martha wasn't to be put off so easily. "Have you had lunch? It's way past noon. I will stop and fix lunch for you and Miss Buffy."


Giles got up and steered the couple out the door. "Ham sandwiches will be fine, Martha, we can fend for ourselves."


John nodded, "You'll be wanting to sort this business out. We'll leave you to it." John led his wife away down the hall, her voice floating back to them, "I knew there was something about those toads."




The afternoon drifted by unnoticed by the three in the study. Empty plates and cups stood precariously balanced on the corner of Giles' desk, nudged there by copious volumes of research material. Buffy sighed, and not for the first time. Chin resting in her hand, the elbow propped up by the chair's arm, and the other hand turned the pages of the book resting on her lap. Another sigh prompted Angel to lift his eyes from the ancient scroll he was translating. He waited for the flick of the page, and yes, was rewarded with the prerequisite exhalation of breath.


"Not terribly exciting is it," he stated, his dark eyes twinkling.


"I think watching a...a..." Buffy tried desperately to think, "a..."


"Paint dry?" Giles offered.


Her head bobbed. "Paint dry. You got it, Giles. I know we've seen a few apocalypses and every one is different, but this part is sooooo boring."


"And very necessary."


Her shoulders slumped lower. "Give me something to hit and I'll be happy," she muttered and turned a page.


"We've not much to go on, I agree. The prophecies are not forthcoming about any momentous event looming. We may need to broaden our search."


"The Codex is useless, The Black Chronicles have nothing and every book I have flipped through gives hints but nothing concrete. How can we broaden our research?"


Giles smiled at Buffy's little rant. He knew that she was frustrated, they all were.


He cleared his throat. "There's the internet and a few people I could telephone."


In silent agreement with all that Buffy had said, Angel interjected. "Why don't we just wait for another sign? I'm sure something is going to happen that will give us more of a clue."


Buffy brightened, threw her lover a brilliant smile in appreciation, straightened her shoulders and said, "That's the best idea I've heard all day. It's been quiet on the manifestation front all afternoon."


The frown that rearranged her Watcher's face said it all. The same frown was turned on Angel as if to put blame on the older man who should know better.


"And what, pray tell, will that be? The end of the world?"


The vampire shrugged his shoulders. "We don't have enough to go on. According to everything we've read; there isn't an apocalypse scheduled."


"That doesn't mean there isn't one looming."


"No it doesn't, but we need more than what we've seen," Buffy interceded. She knuckled her eyes. "Besides, I don't think I can read another word, the letters are all jumbled."


Angel leaned across, his long fingers purloining her book. Glancing at the pages, he said, "No wonder; this is Greek."


"The pictures were entertaining," she said in her own defence.


"This doesn't have pictures," he smirked back.


Giles gave up. He threw his hands up in despair. "Okay, I concede. You go and do whatever it is that is more important than saving the world. Don't mind me, I'll soldier on, nose to the grindstone."


Buffy jumped out of her seat, snatched up the dirty lunch dishes, jerked her head towards the door in a signal for a quick retreat, not feeling the least bit guilty for all of Giles' speech.


"We are still going to the concert tonight, aren't we?" She asked him as she neared the door. Angel plucked up the cups that were teetering on the plates and waited for Giles' reply.


"What? The concert?" His eyes flicked down at the pile of books and scrolls, and back up to Buffy's hazel gaze. "I think that the world can wait while we enjoy an evening of culture."


She turned, Angel following and both heard his added, "I'll keep working until then, shall I?"




The sun was setting, but not soon enough for Angel; it still held the vampire prisoner until it coloured the sky red with its final goodbye. Buffy had left earlier with Giles, a hamper packed full by the ever-thoughtful Martha. He walked to the village. After being cooped up all day it was a welcome exercise. He caught the strains of violin, cello and viola playing sweetly on the night air. Haydn, he mused, transported back two centuries. The thatched roof tops he passed, the early Georgian cottages, all lent to that illusion. The music changed and it became something modern, the mood was broken. The string quartet was playing a medley of music that Angel vaguely knew. The village green was lit with lamplight, paraffin by the smell, and on many a blanket, folding chair and plastic stool, sat the villagers, enthralled with the delights of the talented local quartet. He spotted Giles and Buffy on the edge of the crowd, quite comfortable on their woollen seat. Nearby he saw the Fletchers sipping a cup of something as they enjoyed the music. The surprise was Collins the policeman. He sat with Lisa, a picnic spread out between them. He saw Buffy turn her head - she had sensed his presence, and it was something he thought extra special about his girl. Angel saw her whisper to Giles and get up and join him.


"Isn't this nice?" Buffy gestured to the stars before taking his arm and wrapping her own around it. "Even the weather has held out. Perhaps we are wrong about an apocalypse."


"The music isn't to your liking?" he asked, gazing not at the stars but at her.


The grin he got was pure mischief. "You know it isn't. The modern bit," - "medley" he interjected - "medley," she repeated, "is okay, but the other stuff," - "music" - "is sort of..."


"Old fashioned," he finished for her.


He let her guide them away from the crowd and they crossed back the way he had arrived, back to the small streets of the village.


"Hey! I like old fashioned." She gave him a look. "I like you."


Pointedly ignoring that, he asked, "What are we doing?"


"Patrolling." She kicked a small ball that was lying in the road. It ran, bounced against the kerb and finished up against the stone wall that fenced one of the cottages. "I feel we should do this as our effort towards the cause."


"Feeling guilty?" he teased, and then became aware of another's presence. There was a figure walking up the street towards them. The figure materialised into a young man. Angel felt that there was something familiar...


The beautiful sound of Beethoven caught his ear as they continued to walk, the young man nearly upon them.


"Is that you, Buffy?"


"Kevin?" Buffy was horrified to see him, and her standing there beside Angel, an Angel who seemed to have turned to stone like one of those angels that stand guard over a tomb. And Buffy was that tomb. She berated herself. In a village this small it was bound to happen that they would run into Kevin. She should have mentioned the young man to her lover, should have told him about her new friend and then this awkwardness wouldn't be happening.


He arrived, his eyes wide in the gloom, a puzzled crease upon his brow.


"Are you leaving the concert?" Kevin glanced up at Angel, who stared back, his face expressionless. Kevin was almost the same height, not quite.


"Only for a little while." She bit her lip fully aware of granite boy next to her.


"Kevin, this is Angel. Angel, Kevin here is helping his grandmother for the summer. She owns the art shop." She held her breath.


Kevin stood staring at Buffy and her companion. The hollow feeling in his stomach intensified. The dangerous-looking man next to her made him uneasy. Who was he? He lowered his eyes and saw Buffy's hand around the man's arm. He felt sick. Was this her boyfriend? She had never said she was seeing someone, but then she hadn't said she wasn't. Buffy was a beautiful woman, how could she not be spoken for?


A deep voice, soft as an unheard threat broke him from his spell. "Kevin."


He looked and with amazement saw a large pale hand stretched out for a handshake. Dazed, he clasped it with his own.


"Angel," he murmured, shocked.


Buffy was in shock too. Angel hadn't batted an eyelid. In fact he was being the perfect gentleman. Her eyes narrowed. What was he up to? Where was the jealous rage?


"Angel is my boyfriend," she blurted out.


The handshake over, Kevin was glad to get his hand back. "Is he the artist?"


Angel reassumed his role as a piece of stone. They were talking about him. What else was new?


"He is. Kevin, I'm sor...umph!" Something big and hard slammed into the both of them knocking them over. Kevin fell, too, in the tumble.


Angel got to his feet pulling Buffy along with him. His eyes tracked the large shape that ran away down the road. He had been so intent on Buffy and Kevin, he hadn't stayed alert. He felt stupid.


"What was that?" Kevin asked as he climbed to his feet.


"Are you hurt?" Buffy asked, watching the same shape disappear around the corner.


"No. Who was that?"


"Go on to the concert, I'll explain later. We'll go and check this out."


Kevin Langford stood looking down Meadow Lane, watching as Buffy and her boyfriend ran off after the unknown assailant. He wasn't physically hurt though his heart was sore. He knew he was being silly. He barely knew the girl. He shook his head. Obviously not, ‘cause look at the bombshell she just dropped. Americans are a breed unto themselves, he thought as the two veered to the left and vanished. Why would you run after a thug? He turned and headed towards the sound of music. And what sort of name was Angel?


"Demon?" Buffy asked, running beside Angel.


"Demon," he answered, his long legs not at all an advantage, for the Slayer was keeping up.


She waited for his questions, he had a right after all, but they did not come.


"There!" he pointed, and she could see the demon's head showing above the fence of the property ahead. The owner would not be pleased, the demon had smashed itself through the fence; the picket fence would need repairs. It was fine by her, and she barrelled through the gap. Angel flew over the top of the fence and landed gracefully on the lawn.


"You really risk a staking doing that," she said as they both tackled the snarling beast.


"Weapons?" he asked as if that reminded him. He lashed out a fist, and felt it connect, but in doing so he received a blow in return.


Buffy pulled Mr Pointy from somewhere in her clothing. "Of course. Never leave home without it." She darted in and attempted to stab the demon in the chest. The blow glanced off and a jab to her stomach left her winded.


Angel yanked her away and lashed out with his leg in a powerful swing. The demon stumbled back, its red eyes gleaming. Sharp teeth glistened and it growled.


"A relative?" the Slayer puffed as she tried to regain her breath.


"Because it growls?" The vampire was trading blows with the creature, feeling its strength, and it was strong. It kept up the onslaught, a match for any vampire. Angel wasn't just any vampire, he was determined, and besides his girlfriend was watching.


Said girlfriend flew at the demon, both feet cracking its ribs when they connected. The beast flew back and rolled away. Before Buffy could get to her feet, Angel was upon it from behind, his hands and arms circled about its thick neck. The creature's clawed hands marked his face in two bloody furrows as it tried to break free. Angel vamped.


"There is a resemblance," Buffy quipped as she slammed both fists into its gut.


There was a sickening crack and the demon went limp. Angel dropped the carcass and it sprawled in an ugly heap at his feet.


"The skin is the wrong colour," he said pointing out the greyish green skin. The vampire narrowed his eyes. The demon looked singed around the edges.


Buffy grinned up at him. Patrolling with Angel was never boring. He had a sense of humour not often shared, and she never had to worry about him getting hurt. Well, not much.


"Are you all right?" She reached for his face and touched the wounds there. 


Angel regained his human appearance. Two bloody trails marred his otherwise perfect features.


"I'm okay. I'll heal."


Buffy knew that the scratches must sting, but didn't say anything more. She could see the cuts healing before her eyes.


She kicked at the dead thing on the ground. "What are we going to do...?"


The body vanished and Buffy didn't finish her sentence. They both stared at the crushed grass.


"That solves that problem. Where did it come from?" Another thought popped into her head. "Is it another manifestation? Is this the beginning of the apocalypse?"


Angel's head came up. He looked back towards the road. She swore she heard him inhale.


"What?" she asked.


"Smoke," he said, "and screaming."


"You can hear that from here?" They took off back the way they had come, Angel a dark figure in black and Buffy bright in a mauve top and cream pants. "Remind me to never whisper while you're around."


Buffy stopped short. Angel did too. "About that...I want to explain..."


He graced her with his amazing smile. "For what? Making a friend? Okay, a male friend...and can we do this later." Angel motioned with his head. "Fire," he reminded her.


"Fire," she nodded, relieved. "Come on, what are you waiting for?"


The two faster than human runners were soon back to where they had been knocked down. They followed the clues of a broken gate and a ruined back hedge into the yard of a two storied stone cottage. The screams were coming from one of the upper windows. Smoke was pouring from the downstairs windows, fire licked at the curtains and they could see a raging inferno through the non-existent backdoor.


Buffy heard Angel mutter, "There's always fire."


His keen eyes perceived the remains of wood and glass scattered on the back steps.


By now several people were arriving, the sound of a siren rang faint in the air. The people in the window saw help arriving and screamed louder.


Angel could see they were both young girls. He pointed to the roof. Buffy knew Angel was right. There was no way through the fire downstairs for a rescue. Help would have to come via the roof.


Somebody yelled for the garden hose and water soon started in a spray. It wouldn't do much good but it was the effort that counted. Buffy and Angel circled around the house. The front door was shut. It was blackening and they knew the flames were devouring it from within. They looked about, saw that people were rushing to the backyard and waited till they were alone. Angel watched as Buffy launched herself up to the higher window. She put her hand to the glass.


"It's hot," she said looking back down at him.


"Keep going," he said. When she had scrambled the rest of the way to the roof the vampire leapt, seeming to fly. He landed cat-like on the rag-stoned roof. Sure-footed he ran along the apex and crawled down to where Buffy was leaning over the edge.


"We're here to help," Buffy called down.


Two faces looked up, tear streaked and sooty. The girls were no more than fifteen, and terrified.


"Can you get to the attic windows?" the vampire asked.


The girls' heads shook negatively. "T-th-the f-fire."


The vampire spoke in a quiet whisper to the Slayer. "It's no use breaking through the ceiling even if the fire hasn't reached there. The girls have to come up."


"You'll have to climb up to the roof," she called looking back down.


The girls wailed and shook their heads again. Angel saw that they were clutching at one another, too petrified to let go.


"I'll come down and help you. Is that alright?" he called.


The girls quieted into shuddering sobs, one of them begged, "Hurry please."


The crowd was growing and the village's two fire engines had yet to turn up. The fire alarm was sounding. Where the heck were they? Buffy looked to the other roofs. The house to her right was thatched; one spark and it would go up in flames. They couldn't wait, it was time to move.


"I'm lighter, I'll go down."


"I'm bigger and have a longer reach. I'll pass the girls up and you pull."


"Vampires don't do fires, remember?" Okay, she did worry about him. He may be immortal but he wasn't indestructible, at least not quite.


"The girls won't believe that you can pull them up. You do not look that strong."


She lightly punched his arm in response. He was right. Reluctantly, she gave up the fight. Angel inched forward on his stomach until he was hanging precariously off the edge. His hands took a hold of the guttering. Without being told, Buffy repositioned herself to sit on his legs. She was his anchor. The early Georgian cottage and its steep roof allowed the vampire to dangle his torso until he was mere inches above the girls' heads. He heard a shout and imagined that he and Buffy had been spotted. A light shone up blinding him. He blinked away the pain of the bright light, his night vision not coping at all well.


When his eyes adjusted, albeit painfully, he reached out to the scared girls.


"One at a time, please," he coaxed but the girls huddled closer, both shaking their heads.


"There isn't time," he insisted.


"Both," they insisted back.


He sighed, marvelling at their courage and loyalty to each other. It could get them killed, but still, admiration was there.


"Okay." He smiled, hoping it was a reassuring one, and brought his other hand down.


"Give me your arm, one each," he said.


He felt Buffy shift, and knew she had repositioned her feet bracing them on either side of his waist. He hoped her shoes found enough purchase.


His large hands and long fingers wrapped around the right forearm of one girl and the left of the other. He lifted both and heard another shout from the crowd. It couldn't be helped. He had a job to do. The girls had stopped crying, their eyes were huge, their breath held in as he slowly brought his elbows up drawing the girls closer to his body and the roof. Two hands clutched at his coat.


He whispered in their ears. "I can't wriggle back. You have to reach out to Buffy. She'll help you up."


Completely trusting him and his partner, one of the girls put up her hand. He felt Buffy lean forward, and Slayer strength allowed her to bring the girl across. The next one followed and soon they were all together, not quite out of the woods yet.


"Listen," Buffy said. "What are your names?"


The redhead wiped her eyes. "Rosemary and this is my friend, Pauline."


"We have to get down from the roof. Can you crawl up and over the other side?"


Both girls nodded. Buffy stood up and led the way, the brave teens crawling behind her. Angel took up the rear ready to catch a body if they slipped. Once on the other side, away from the lights, Buffy stopped and prepared the girls.


"We don't have time to wait for the fire brigade. Do you trust us?"


Two heads nodded.


"Okay. Someone gets Angel and no fighting over whom." Buffy rolled her eyes at him. He showed his teeth in return.


Rosemary and Pauline looked at each other in silent communication. Pauline was the lucky girl to have the vampire's arms around her. He lifted her up as if holding a baby, which to one of his advanced age, she was. Again, Buffy rolled her eyes when she noticed how comfortable Pauline snuggled in. She slung Rosemary over her shoulder in a fireman's lift and ordered, "Close your eyes," before they both jumped.


Both girls yipped in fright and then it was all over. They were safe and sound on solid ground. Angel gently placed Pauline on the grass. He could hear the sound of running feet.


Before they were interrupted, he asked, "What happened?"


Rosemary sidled up to her friend. Buffy was reminded of Willow. The two girls held hands, their faces now guilty as hell beneath the tears and grime.


"You had something to do with the demon," he said.


The tears started flowing again.


Pauline sniffled and wiped at her nose. "We didn't mean to. We threw the candles at it to make it go away."


Buffy made a connection. "I saw you at the jumble sale this morning."


Rosemary was worried what her parents would do to her when they found out that she had caused the fire. "We were there."


Before they had time to say anything more the crowd was upon them. Buffy looked up to see that Angel was edging away. The mothers of both girls were crying and hugging their daughters. The fathers shook Buffy's hand and tried to grab a hold of Angel. The noise was building. The engines had arrived, and the firemen were trying to contain the fire. The babble of people's voices added to the din.


Giles was there, as was Lisa and Ian Collins, and lurking like another pale person she knew was Kevin. Men slapped Angel on his shoulders as he backed away, Buffy sidled past well-wishers to join him and they made their escape to the other side of the street. Giles, Lisa and Ian followed and, as if attached by an invisible thread, went Kevin.


"It had to be you two," DCI Collins said as they turned to watch the spectacle. Collins suspected - and not for the first time - that he was in the presence of two extraordinary people. Being a policeman, he was not supposed to believe in things that spoke of the supernatural. His roots were well fertilised in the myths and legends of the Celts, Druids, and the like. How could he not believe?


"Sorry about the concert." Buffy leaned into Angel's side and he wrapped an arm around her. She was very aware of Kevin's stare and his hanging on every word.


"It was well done," Giles said. "There will be another concert."


Lisa laughed. "Maybe Angel will be able to attend the next one. He could keep Buffy interested in the music."


Buffy ignored the gentle jibe. "Angel was right, there was fire."


Giles' eyebrow went up a notch.


"We have a hunch." Buffy was careful with her words. "We need to speak to Pauline and Rosemary tomorrow."


"I'll find out where they will be staying. No doubt the parents will be pleased to see you as well," Giles agreed.


Angel had seen many a fire and he knew that the house was doomed. The firemen were doing their best to save the houses on either side by trying to control the blaze. The family would lose most of their possessions but not their lives. That was the important thing.


"How did you do that?" It was Kevin, and he was very aware that all eyes were now on him.


"We couldn't let them die." Buffy realised she was channelling Angel and she had a sudden insight into his cryptic ways.


Kevin stared at Buffy. His eyes shifted to take in the dark shape that was her boyfriend. The man looked menacing even in shadow. He'd never really got to see Angel's face in the street. Kevin's Adam's apple bobbed in a swallow. He was curious about him, about a man that was a fine artist, a man with a girlie name who could handle himself, rescue damsels in distress and end up with the princess. For Buffy was a princess, and unattainable to one such as he.


To Kevin's astonishment, Buffy disengaged herself from Angel, heard her murmur something to him before coming over to stand along side. Angel seemed to vanish into the night before his very eyes. Wide-eyed he stared at Buffy. She took his hand and pulled him away from the others, dragging him gently away from all the excitement.


Beneath a lamp in a quiet part of the street, Buffy stopped them both.


"I'm sorry I didn't tell you about Angel. I wanted to..."


"No." He shook his head. "You don't have to explain."


It was her turn to shake her head. "But I do. I know that you are interested..." She raised a brow. He swallowed anxiously and nodded. "A girl can tell, you know." Buffy brushed at her hair. "Okay, nervous here. I really like you, Kevin. I do. I didn't mean to deceive you. Angel and I are complicated."


"You are?" He wondered how.


Buffy thought about it. "We were complicated. Not so much now, but still, there are certain things. What I'm trying to say is, I like you and I want you to be my friend. I like spending time with you; you're fun to be with. I didn't want to ruin any chance of a friendship by pushing you away. Can you be my friend? And Angel's too?"


Fun to be with? He hadn't really thought he was funny at all. His heart, heavy with disappointment, lifted a little at the idea of being Buffy's friend. Interesting things happened when she was around. Perhaps the friendship thing would not be so bad.


He smiled his acceptance at her. "Deal. Are you sure that Angel won't hurt me?" he couldn't help adding.


He was rewarded with her laugh; it was the first thing he had noticed about her.


"If Angel wanted to hurt you, you would be in a world of hurt already." She laughed again. "He's a pussycat."


"Sure he is."




The next morning Giles, accompanied by his Slayer, went around to Pauline's home. The Smiths lived three streets away from Meadow Lane. The girls were life-long friends as were their parents. Rosemary and her folks were now billeted with the Smiths, their own house a smoking ruin. When Giles and Buffy called in, the Smiths and their guests, the Fitzpatricks, were back at the burned-out cottage hoping to find anything that might be salvageable. Rupert Giles was happy the girls were alone. It would make their task easier.

Buffy had already told Giles about her theory.


Once seated, Giles had the girls start at the beginning. "Buffy says she saw you at the jumble sale yesterday. What were you doing there?"


"We bought old Mrs Fisher's book of spells. People think it is make-believe but we know that it isn't." Pauline turned her head to look at her friend. Rosemary nodded. "She was our primary school teacher. She was a nice lady and she was fun. People thought she was a little strange. Even her son thought she was loopy."


Rosemary broke in, "She died last year. Mr Fisher doesn't believe in majicks and he was throwing out her books and bits and bobs."


Pauline added, "She was kind to animals. She was always fixing them up when they were sick or injured. She helped some of us kids at school too."


Buffy said, "So you found the book and tried a few spells."


"The book was hard to read. Some of it was Latin. We knew a few words, and the internet had a translation thingy. We used that."


Giles couldn't help himself, he felt his eyes rattling in the back of his head. "The toads?"


"We were going for frogs."


"I see." Giles bit back his retort. Instead he asked, "The locusts?"




Giles sighed.


Two very humble voices spoke in unison. "Sorry."


Buffy felt rather sorry for them. "Were the spells difficult to do?"


Rosemary shook her head. "We went for the easy spells and we couldn't see the harm in it."


"No you wouldn't, would you, in a book of majick," Giles grumbled under his breath.


Buffy heard him and gave him a look.


Giles put on his most stern face. "The demon wasn't an easy spell."


The guilt just kept on piling up. The girls looked ashen. Rosemary picked at her fingers. 


"The spell went wrong. We must have said something we shouldn't have."


"What were you trying to do?"


The girls looked at one another. "We wanted to be lucky."


"For boys you mean?" Buffy asked.


The reply was a timid one. "Among other things."


Giles lips thinned. "You wished for luck. Mmm. I don't suppose you used the word infelicitas?"


The girls fidgeted. They were glad their parents were out, but Mr Giles was just as scary. They nodded.


"Maybe. We don't remember exactly."


"It's the opposite of good luck."


Buffy interrupted. The parents could be back any minute. "Can we move along? The demon appeared and you threw the candles?"


"You're not going to tell Mum and Dad are you?" Rosemary asked, worried about her hide.


"No we won't. What happened next?"


"We didn't expect a monster...the demon. We had candles and herbs and incense, and when it appeared in the circle we screamed and tried to get away. We threw the candles at it, and bolted up the stairs."


"I think it started to burn, because it was growling and running about. It looked mean!" Pauline said.


"We didn't move for awhile because we thought it might come back and hurt us. When we tried to open the bedroom door the house was on fire." Rosemary started to cry. Pauline gave her a hug and wiped at her own nose.


"Mum and Dad will kill me," Rosemary sniffled.


"They are happy that you are alive. Did you tell them you were playing with candles?"


With pleading eyes the girls nodded.


"Well, you were playing with candles. I don't think we need to mention anything else." Giles sat back in his seat. "Let this be a lesson to the both of you. Majicks are not to be played with. It is something only a trained person should do. Promise me you won't try anything like this again."


Two meek and chastened teens answered, "Yes, Mr Giles."


Rosemary added, "The book was burned anyway."


Buffy's eyebrows rose. The girl reminded her so much of Willow. She had her fire. Buffy stifled a giggle.


Giles lips twitched and she saw him try hard to stay forbidding.


"Will the demon come back?"


"No. It's gone. For good...we hope," Giles added just to scare some sense into the girls.


It worked. The girls looked up at the window and back.


It was time to go. As they said their goodbyes, the girls asked, "Is Angel your boyfriend?"


Buffy rolled her eyes and said he was.




Buffy was sprawled on a tartan picnic blanket, her head on her vampire's lap. She was replete. The blackberry pie Martha had baked and which now filled her stomach had been delicious. Angel sipped at his red wine, his gaze out into the night. The fingers of his left hand played with her hair, his mind elsewhere.


"Penny for your thoughts."


He glanced down into her green eyes. She is beautiful, he thought, and said so.


"You are beautiful."


Buffy looked up at him. "You too." Her heart squeezed. She had been a fool.


"I've been a fool."


His lips quirked into his half smile.


She pouted. "You could argue with me."


The half smile grew. "I know better than that."


Sobering, she continued, "I should have told you about Kevin. It was stupid, I was stupid."


"No you're not."


She sat up and stared. "Where's the jealous rage?" She reached out and touched his cheek. "Where is the Angel I know who would beat the living daylights out of a potential rival?"


He caught her fingers and brought them to his lips. "He hasn't lived here for a long time. I've matured."


She snorted. "Matured!"


His killer smile was her reward. "I can smell you," he reminded her. "I caught his scent all over you when you got back from the jumble sale."


Her mouth dropped open. "Why didn't you say anything?"


"It was raining toads and, you didn't say anything."


Admonished most deftly, Buffy had to agree. Still, her treacherous mouth wouldn't stop.


"Again I say, where is the jealous rage?"


"I can smell you."


Her mouth worked for a moment before managing a small, "Oh."


As if sensing Buffy needed rescuing, Giles chose that moment to appear bearing gifts. He carried a tray on which sat a pot of coffee and cups.


"My hero," Buffy chirped getting to her feet to help Giles with the tray.


Not believing a word, Giles coughed, "Yes, quite." His eyes searched out Angel's and he believed he saw amusement there, in the evening gloom.


His knees creaking, although he would never admit to it, Giles sat on the blanket and played Mother. He handed Buffy her coffee and gestured to the milk and sugar. Angel raised his glass, shaking his head no.


The vampire leaned back against the pile of cushions placed there by a certain blonde. He was thinking about Buffy and Kevin. Angel had no right to be jealous, things had happened between him and Sabrina, and it was he that had wronged his lover. He could forgive her anything. Buffy settled next to him cup in hand.


"This is lovely." Giles was commenting on the warm summer evening. Cricket song filled the night air, an owl call sounded eerily from afar, their small part of the world was at peace.


"Another apocalypse averted, eh Giles?"


He turned to look at his Slayer and her vampire. "Apparently so." He smiled at the two of them. They looked comfortable and his fears were unfounded. Angel as usual was quiet.


"We can put it down to summer mischief."


The End.




Author's Notes.


A huge thank you to Jo, who, among other things, helped me understand the time it takes to drive from one part of the United Kingdom to another. This story is 6000 words longer than it would be, and all the better for it.


For those of you who wish to read more about the legends and actual places used in this story, I have included the sites below.


History of the camera can be found here.


Frogs and toads of the U.K.


Trewa, the home of witches.

I hope that I have the area described correctly; my details come from the legend which can be found here. There is no actual village, but it is a place in Cornwall.


The tin mine Angel was referring to at Trewa was an ancient Bronze Age mine. There are other more recent mines in Cornwall, and some of the ruins are still standing.


The site below gives you a fair idea of the history of Zennor, and the look of the town and the surrounding area. You can find the family tree of the Berrymans here. It also mentions John Wesley and his sermon. Oh, and there is no cell phone signal in Zennor.


An added note about the name Berryman. There are villagers named Berryman and Quick in Zennor, I mean no disrespect, and the people in my story are entirely fictional.


The Mermaid of Zennor is mentioned briefly above, for a more in-depth look, click on this site here.


Here is an excellent picture of the church of St Senara and the Tinners Arms is in the background.


The Tinners Arms is a real pub in Zennor. I have no idea who the owner is and I have used the common name of Berryman, common to Zennor, as the fictional publican. To have a look at the pub go here.


The Wayside Museum in Zennor can be found here.

Figgie Hobbin: A plain pastry sweetened with raisins. In Cornwall raisins and currants were often referred to as figs, hence the name 'Figgie Hobbin'.

D H Lawrence got a very brief mention but if you are interested here some fascinating facts.


Forgive my very poor translation of the Latin that was used in this tale.

Bad luck: infelicitas. The girls wanted Felicitous : beatitas.









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