Author's Note: This is the eleventh story in my Being verse.
Verse/Setting: Post-Angel the TV series. 
Rating: R
Disclaimer: I don't own anything from Angel and am not making money from this fic.
Warning(s): AU; discipline of adult.


BEING BELLIGERENT


"Mama told me not to come…
She said, 'That ain't the way to have fun, son'"
  
Mama Told Me (Not to Come) by Three Dog Night


The mansion was quiet…but not ominously so. Faith and Lindsey had just finished eating breakfast and were cleaning up their mess in a companionable silence. Lorne had left two days before to open a new bar that a friend of his was going to manage. It was in Las Vegas and Linda had gone with him as company. Lindsey and Faith had a joking bet as to if they'd get a drunken call joyously announcing 'our happy news' or if they'd receive a panicked call of 'what did we do?' from the pair. 

So far no calls had been received of any sort though. So they'd probably end up owing Spike money, who had scoffed at the idea of Lorne and Linda eloping. Lindsey thought Spike was secretly hoping for a huge wedding so that he could throw a bachelor party.

Spike, Illyria, and Angel had left the night before when they'd gotten a call from one of Angel's friends in San Francisco. Apparently there was a haunting or some such and they didn't trust anyone enough to take care of it - except for Angel. They'd called earlier in the morning to inform Faith and Lindsey that they likely wouldn't be back home before the end of the week.  

This left Faith and Lindsey on their own for the first time since they'd moved in with the ensouled vampire and formed their little family. Finally finished cleaning the kitchen Faith and Lindsey looked at each other, strange expressions on their face.

"Should it be this difficult to figure out something to do?" Faith asked with an amused tone in her voice.

Lindsey snorted. "I wouldn't think so. I mean - it isn't as if Angel maps out our days for us…. Does he?" He gave Faith an impish grin and ducked her hand as she swatted at him.

"I guess I never realized how much noise he, Spike, and Illyria generated." The brunette laughed then shrugged. "Wanna go to a movie?"

Lindsey gave her a bemused grin and pointedly looked at his watch. "At 8:30 in the morning? I doubt any theaters are open yet.  Tell you what…give me a few minutes to check out the papers and make sure there isn't any big bad we should be on the lookout for and then we can go to that new museum that just opened. Supposedly they have all kinds of spy gadgets and weapons on display."

"Oooooh, weapons!" Faith cackled gleefully. "You know just how to make a girl happy!"

"Yeeeeeaah…I'm gonna go get the paper…" Lindsey sidled past her toward the front porch where the paper had been left.

# # #

"Can you believe they are able to do that with a tooth-pick?" Faith leaned against her brother and grinned at him impishly when his face turned slightly green and he grimaced. 

"I would have rather not ever KNOWN they could do something like that with a tooth-pick…" he retorted before snorting at her antics and smiling. Slowing down, he gently turned the car into the drive and pulled up to the garage. He blinked at the sight of a van sitting in their drive.

"Are we expecting company?" he asked curiously. 

Faith straightened up and leaned forwards slightly, a confused expression on her face. "Not that I know of…" she frowned. Her frown turned into a brilliant grin when the passenger door of the van opened and a tall willowy brunette jumped out. "Dawnie!" she squealed, waiting only long enough for Lindsey to park the car before she was jumping out and barreling into her younger friend with a huge hug.

"Faith!" Dawn gasped. "Can't breathe!" She laughed when Faith immediately released her and stepped back with a blush. 

"Sorry…" Faith squeaked, and then glanced at the van. "What's with the ride?"

Dawn smiled crookedly. "Well, there was a prophecy found…." she winced at the horrified look Faith shot her. "Yeah. I know. Giles figured out that it was pointing to something here in L.A."

By this time Lindsey had pulled the car into the garage and parked. He walked back toward the two girls, eyeing the van with a hint of suspicion. He caught the tail end of Dawn's explanation and frowned. "Something going down here we needed to know?" Dawn nodded.

Faith wrinkled her nose. "Well, not that I'm not glad to see you and all - but why didn't you just call us with the information? And why drive here in a throw-back to the 70s? Flying would have been easier, I'd think…."

Dawn blushed. "Well, see…" she wasn't able to complete her sentence though as the van's doors were opening again. Faith's eyes widened in surprise when she saw who was climbing out; Lindsey was startled when his sister moved slightly behind him as if hiding from the people - she didn't even seem to realize she was doing so. Narrowing his eyes, he moved more fully in front of her, his stance protective. 

Dawn watched the maneuvering, her smile disappearing as a sad look crossed her face. She turned to face the other occupants of the van, moving so she was next to Lindsey - also in front of Faith.  If her friend didn't trust or want to face the others, she wasn't going to force the issue - and she wasn't about to let the others force it either.

Giles walked around the front of the van and stood just out of arms reach, seeming to realize that moving any closer would cause Lindsey to react. He glanced at Faith, a sorrowed look in his eye. "Faith…." He stopped himself, then sighed softly and turned to face the younger man protecting her. "Hello. You must be Lindsey McDonald. I'm Rupert Giles…" he held out his hand in greeting.

By this time three other people had lined up behind Giles. Lindsey didn't know any of them; a blond woman, a red-haired woman, and a brunette man stood staring at Faith. They glanced at Lindsey as well; they didn't say anything but they didn't have to. He could feel the minute the blond dismissed him as unimportant. The other woman looked at him curiously, but dismissed him as well. The younger man gave him a sheepish and somewhat apologetic look, but he didn't say anything - taking his cues from the two women.  

Faith didn't seem to fare any better in their opinion, if the look on the blonde's face was anything to go by.  The condescending glances his sister was being given, rubbed Lindsey the wrong way.  He looked back at Giles, a stony glare on his face. He was going to ignore Giles' still outstretched hand, but Dawn looked anxiously at it and then at Lindsey, a silent plea in her eyes. Eyes narrowing slightly, Lindsey's mouth formed a tiny smile as he attempted to be polite for Dawn's sake. "You're Dawn's guardian?" he asked in a soft drawl. His smile became a bit more genuine as he noted Dawn huffing at his choice of words.

"Hello! I'm over twenty-one years old now. I don't need a guardian!" she muttered so only Lindsey could hear - although the tiny smirk on Giles' face indicated he'd heard as well.

"Yes. I watch out for Dawn." Giles answered smoothly, as Lindsey finally reached over and shook his hand. He nodded at the younger man when Lindsey teased Dawn.

"You'll never be too old, Dawnie." He grinned and bumped shoulders with the younger girl.

"Is that what you tell yourself when Angel is being bossy?" she sweetly asked him, giggling at the disgruntled look that crossed his face.  She quickly waved her hand in the direction of the other three who were still standing silently behind Giles. "That one that looks like a stick's up her butt is my sister Buffy. The one giving me the affronted shocked look is Willow. The one trying really hard not to laugh is Xander…" she motioned to each individual as she said their name. Dawn grinned innocently ignoring the scowls or scolding looks being sent her direction.

Faith straightened her shoulders, finally moved forward enough so that it didn't appear she was hiding, and continued the conversation. "So there was a prophecy and you figured it had something to do with L.A.   So why didn't you just call with the information? There are enough slayers here to handle whatever happens. Sally and Trish have a good handle on things and are good leaders….  Not to mention Angel and the rest of us would be more than willing to take care of it. Why drive out here." She couldn't help sound suspicious.

Dawn winced and Giles took off his glasses and began cleaning them rapidly. Dawn sighed. "That's what I told them but…" 

Buffy interrupted. "It was too important a prophecy to leave for just anyone to take care of." Her tone was superior making it obvious just what she felt about Angel and his team's ability to take care of things- or perhaps it was just Faith she was being condescending to, since it was Faith she was staring at.

Faith frowned. Dawn rolled her eyes and gave apologetic glances toward her two friends. Giles blushed slightly, rubbing his glasses even harder. It was Lindsey that answered the comment and tone. "I see. Well. Good luck to you then. You'll probably want to get to your hotel as soon as possible so you can go find one of the libraries that might have your information." He gave Buffy a dismissive look - then turned and smiled at Dawn. "Your room is waiting whenever you want to visit darlin'. I hope you plan to stay long enough so Spike can say hi. He'll be back in a few days and he'll be moody and mopey for the next month if you don't…"

Faith, Giles, and Dawn stared at Lindsey - then turned to look where Buffy and  Willow, were fuming at Lindsey's quick dismissal. Xander refused to look at anyone. Buffy gave Giles a pointed look which he returned with his own look of disapproval.  When she huffed and made motions with her hands, he rolled his eyes and turned back to Lindsey. 

"We were hoping that you would allow us to use your home as a base and make use of the library that I know Angel has." Giles' tone was soft and it was obvious he wasn't trying very hard to convince them to let them stay.  

Buffy crossed her arms over her chest becoming more irritated. Willow - who had been irritated on her friend's behalf - sensed that Giles seemed irritated at the Scoobies, not Lindsey, and began to fidget uncomfortably as she tried to figure out what she might have done to rile him. Xander knew exactly what had been done and gave an apologetic smile toward Faith and Lindsey. He cleared his throat hesitantly. 

Lindsey looked at Giles for a few moments. It was difficult. He wanted nothing more than to tell them to take their request and do something rude with it. If it was one thing Lindsey had never reacted well to it was someone else acting like they were better than him and he had to do what they wanted because they were his 'betters'.  Nothing was more certain to insure he wouldn't cooperate or help.  

The problem was, what they were fighting was going to involve Dawn. It wasn't her fault that her sister and friends were behaving like they owned the world and Lindsey and Faith were beneath them. And it wasn't the fault of all the innocent people that would suffer if they didn't stop whatever the prophecy had warned against.  And he knew that if Angel were here, he'd allow them to stay (although if Angel were here, he suspected the child might have behaved slightly less condescending). He looked at Faith, a question in his eyes. She bit her lip then nodded hesitantly. 

Lindsey sighed.  It was obvious the other group's arrival made his sister uncomfortable. He really needed to get her to talk about what had happened when she was still with them to make her so cagey around them. Even so, if Faith was able to ignore her own discomfort for the 'big picture' he really had no right to make things difficult for them. However annoying he found them.

"OK." He answered firmly, then taking Faith's arm in his, turned and headed back to the house ignoring the rest of them. 

"Well….OK." Giles murmured then took Dawn's arm and followed, leaving the other three to follow behind uncertainly.

# # #

Faith and Lindsey showed the Sunnydale group (although perhaps they should be called the Cleveland group now?) to the guest rooms and the library and then proceeded to ignore them as much as possible.

They'd read the papers and researched online and found themselves a job that they could work on that would hopefully keep them out of the way of the original slayer and her posse. 

Unfortunately, keeping to themselves wasn't something they could do forever. They'd put the finishing touches on their plan for their current job when Giles and Dawn had found them - the annoying trio tagging along behind.

"Where are you going?" Giles blinked as he realized that they had weapons gathered and had changed into what was obviously gear meant to help them with a job.

"We're going to retrieve an amulet from a warehouse. The demons that have it in their possession have been using it for some rather nasty rituals." Lindsey’s voice was matter of fact - it was obvious that he was not asking for permission.

Giles looked at the plans frowning slightly. He hesitated to say anything - given how strained things had been in the house between Angel's team and Buffy's team - but he couldn't keep quiet. If Lindsey or Faith were hurt and he could have prevented it, he'd never forgive himself - and he KNEW Angel would never forgive him. "No. You can't go. This is a job for more than two people. The potential to be outnumbered and overwhelmed is too great and it will serve no one if you die…" he shook his head and then looked up seeing Faith giving him a betrayed look and Lindsey looking like he was seconds away from decking the older man. 

When he looked over and saw Buffy's grin his heart sank. He should have waited till she wasn't in the room before saying anything. Things were strained enough between Faith and Buffy without making it seem as if he didn't trust Faith's abilities. The fact he would have said the exact same thing to Buffy if she had been making plans to go after this amulet, didn't matter in the least.

"Thanks for your opinion," Lindsey's smile was frosty and didn't reach his eyes. "We'll take it into consideration. Now if you'll excuse us…" the younger man grabbed the plans off the table, then yanked the pages Giles still held out of his hands before shoving his way past a still grinning Buffy. 

Faith quietly followed him, refusing to look at the watcher or the other slayer. She wouldn't have looked at Willow or Xander either if they hadn't moved into her way. She glanced up, her glare convincing Willow to move out of the way without her having to say anything. Xander didn't cow so easily - but then he probably knew her better than the other two did.

"Are you sure you don't want to make it a threesome instead of a twosome?" he asked as cheerfully as he could, given the angry indignant vibes pouring off of Lindsey and the disappointed hurt vibes Faith was giving off. "Because you know two guys and a slayer is bound to be so much more fun than just one guy and a slayer, and I know I wouldn't mind joining in a threesome with you and Lindsey if you’d allow it…and that didn't sound quite so dirty in my head as it did out loud. Maybe I should just shut up now…." Xander cleared his throat uncomfortably and blushed slightly as he moved out of Faith's way as well. 

Lindsey just stared at Xander in bemusement before shaking his head and snorting. "I'll meet you in the car, Sunshine…" he muttered to Faith before stalking out of the room and heading toward the garage.

"Maybe later Xan," she smiled at her ex-lover and waggled her eyebrows, grinning when he blushed even more. She then gave Giles an indignant look before following her brother out the door to his car and jumping in. Within seconds, they were peeling down the driveway.

"Well, that could have gone a lot better…" Giles muttered unhappily.

"Why? If they aren't able to handle it, they aren't able to handle it. Sugar coating things won't make it less dangerous." Buffy shrugged.

"Buffy…" Willow began, but then sighed and shook her head.

Dawn glared at her sister, then huffed and looked at Giles in frustration. "The way you all treat her, I'll be lucky if she ever wants to come visit me. Just because she does things different doesn't mean she's less capable or that you are better. Even if you want to think you are." She muttered then looked at the one picture that Lindsey hadn't picked up in his haste to leave. She frowned again.

"I do not think I am bet…." Buffy began 

"Oh shut up!" Dawn growled, shocking her sister into silence. "You do so. If you didn't think you were better, you wouldn't act all superior whenever you are around her or anyone who aligns with her…. "She shrugged. "That's not important right now though. Did you happen to notice that the amulet they are going after looks an awful lot like that picture in the prophecy you found?" She glanced at Giles, handing him the page.

Giles took the page and stared at it before removing his glasses and rubbing his nose. "Oh dear…"

# # #

Giles had immediately called Faith's phone in order to tell her about the new development and insist that they return to the house - but she didn't answer. After the fifth time of attempting the call and having it go to voice mail, he'd growled and threw the phone away from him - luckily it landed on the couch so didn't break.
 
Dawn glanced at Xander, her eyes wide and worried. In fact the only one who didn't appear overly worried was Buffy - and even she had a concerned look on her face.
 
"I can't believe that she would be so…so… childish as to ignore the call just because she doesn't want to have me tell her not to do something!" he said in an affronted tone.
 
Xander winced, motioning for Dawn to calm down when it appeared she was about to protest Giles' words quite loudly. He chuckled softly, drawing the irate man's attention to him. "To be fair, G-man," he ignored Giles' rolling his eyes at the despised nickname. "She is probably less ignoring you so you can't tell her what to do, and more ignoring you because you kinda made it seem like you don't trust her or her abilities and there is only so much of that someone can take before they don't wanna hear anymore." Xander spoke from experience, remembering all the times he had felt like the odd man out with no special abilities or powers like Buffy or Willow, but not overly book smart like Giles.  He didn't feel that way any longer - finally realizing his gift was empathy, an awareness of what the group was going through emotionally, and the ability to help them remember why they fought the fight in the first place.  He saw what no one else was able to see (since they sometimes had a way of overlooking their own noses) and brought it to their attention when necessary. He frowned slightly, realizing how badly he'd failed Faith.

Dawn nodded emphatically, pointing at Xander. "Yeah - what he said!" she managed to keep her voice calm instead of shouting.
 
Giles sighed and rubbed his nose wearily. "I….I never meant to make her think that," he admitted. "It is unfortunate that she thinks I do think that…"
 
Buffy and Willow had the grace to look guilty, realizing their part in what was going on, but didn't say anything.
 
"I have Lindsey's number…maybe he'll answer…" Dawn suddenly remembered, pulling out her phone and quickly dialing the number.
 
# # #
 
Lindsey sighed as his phone began to ring. Faith had turned her phone off seconds into the first call that had been made to her. Who knew how many times they had attempted to call her before Dawn remembered she also had his number? He was tempted to ignore or turn his own phone off - but it was Dawn calling and he just couldn't do that to the girl. She might be annoying sometimes - but she was still family. Pushing the little call button on the steering wheel (after his accident, Angel had replaced his truck with a newer version that had nearly every accessory available) he waited a few seconds to make certain the call had connected before drawling out, "Yes, Munchkin?"

"Lindsey! You and Faith need to come back right away! The amulet you are going after is part of the prophecy!" Dawn's words ran together in a jumble as if she was afraid he'd hang up before she could get them all out.

Lindsey shot Faith a startled look, eyes narrowing in concern. "Come again, Princess?"

Dawn huffed. "I'm putting you on speaker phone so Giles can explain better…"

"No! Wait! Dawn…" Lindsey groaned slightly as the connection became slightly more static. 

Then Giles' voice carried through the car. "You both need to return immediately so we can make a better plan. The amulet you are going to retrieve is actually a major component of the apocalypse mentioned in that prophecy that brought us here!"

"So the amulet causes the apocalypse?" Lindsey questioned, even as he continued to drive.

There was a slight hesitation. "No…I don't think so… but it is a major component - without it, the forces who are attempting to start this apocalypse will fail. That means it is very important and will likely be guarded much more strenuously than we even thought before. It is something that two people - even if one of them is a slayer - should not attempt on their own. I am not even sure we should attempt it with two slayers, and five other people to help.... That is why you need to return! So we can form a better plan."

"The plan Faith and I have is sound enough. We'll get the amulet and bring it back and then you all can go from there on figuring out who the big bad is and how to stop them." Lindsey disagreed amicably, enjoying the fact that he was able to frustrate Giles so much - even if part of him felt like it was a bit childish and maybe he should listen.

"Didn't you hear me? The amulet is THAT important…they will have it guarded much more heavily than your plans could have taken into account! Come back so we can work on something together…!" Giles voice took on a tone that Lindsey had never heard before - but Faith obviously had, as her eyes widened slightly.

"I'm sorry. I couldn't hear that… the connection seems to be going bad…. Did you say hurry up and bring the amulet to you so you could stop that prophecy? Yeah. That's what we were planning. We'll make it as quick as possible. You hear me? Giles? Oh darn. I think we lost him…" Lindsey mumbled with an impish gleam in his eye as he disconnected the call and then turned his own phone off.

Faith swallowed nervously. "You don't think maybe we should listen to him…. He…he didn't sound like regular old Giles at the end there. He kinda sounded like Ripper." She squeaked.

Lindsey blinked, glancing over at her with a semi-scoffing snort. "Ripper?"

"Yeah…. Ripper." Faith smiled crookedly. "I know…I make it sound like Giles has a split personality, but really - Ripper is Giles. It's Giles when he stops trying to control himself so rigidly and allows himself to just act or react. Usually he only allows Ripper out when he feels like his family is being threatened and he thinks being nice and civil won't protect them…"

Lindsey frowned. "He thinks we're a threat to his family?"

Faith shook her head. "Nooo… I think he is including us in his family and he thinks our actions are putting us in danger.  I dunno… just forget it," the brunette slayer sighed.

"Well…even if he is worried about us - he doesn't have the right to just waltz into our town, into our house, into OUR jobs…and think he can start bossing us around. Yeah. Maybe this job will be a bit more dangerous. But we'll just be more careful." Lindsey shrugged, trying to alleviate his sister's concerns even as he pushed his own second thoughts and concerns down to where they wouldn't bother him quite so much.

"You don't think Angel…"Faith began but couldn't finish her thought.

"I'm not letting myself think about it." Lindsey admitted with a chagrined smile.

Faith snorted. "Yeah."

# # #

Five people stared at the phone in Dawn’s hand in shocked indignation. 

"How dare!" Buffy blustered.

"Did he…?" Willow began.

"What…" Dawn started.

"I don't believe…" Giles brow furrowed.

"HE HUNG UP ON YOU!" Xander blurted out in amazement, than started laughing. "He actually HUNG UP on you!" 

Seeing the looks of disapproval on the other four faces, he quickly choked down his laughter and forced himself to frown. He cleared his throat and fidgeted slightly. "Bad Lindsey! Bad, bad boy!  You should never have hung up on Giles. You'll be in biiiiig trouble when you get home!" He nodded emphatically before shuffling a few feet away from the indignant watcher.

Giles let out a huff of air that was a mix between a sigh and a growl. "Dawn. Do you know how to reach the other slayers in the city?"  At her hesitant nod, he grimaced. "Call as many of them as you can. Our plans are being pushed up several days and we are going to need the back up. Hopefully nothing happens to Faith and Lindsey before we are able to carry out our plans. I fear Angel would never forgive me if something happened to them."

"It wouldn't be our fault…" Buffy started out hesitantly, realizing the watcher was right and that Angel would likely be furious with her as well.

"But it would be, in a way." Willow admitted just as hesitantly. "We didn't exactly give them reason to want to listen to anything we had to say…"

"Be that as it may," Giles grumbled, "I had hoped they'd be adult enough to listen to good advice - even if it was coming from someone that they were irritated at. Hurry Dawn! Make that call. I want to begin as soon as possible!" the watcher urged, before stalking out of the library.

Wincing at the tone, Dawn quickly dialed the number for Trish. 

Five minutes later, Trish had promised to contact all the other slayers and have everyone meet at the mansion within the hour. Dawn just hoped they had that hour to spare. 
 
# # #


"Though we can't wait for a savior…
Only got ourselves to blame for this behavior…" 

What Happens Tomorrow by Duran Duran


Lindsey slumped against the wall, running over events in his head for the fifteenth time. Nope. It hadn't been anything they'd done - well not if you didn't count the fact they'd come here in the first place after being warned repeatedly. They had done everything right. They'd taken every precaution - as was evidenced by the lack of wounds or even a scratch on either one of them. It didn't change the fact they were well and truly screwed though. "A magical cage. I'm never going to live it down…" he muttered morosely and cringed when Faith shot him an irritated glare.

"We're never going to live it down. If we live that is. And even if we do live, if Angel finds out … we'll probably be wishing we hadn't," she muttered despondently.

'Lindsey sighed but didn't make further comment. What could he say? They were stuck. They were surrounded by three solid stone walls and one wall of bars that were magically warded. They’d tried several times to get close to the bars in order to see if they could find a way to get out – only to find themselves 'transported' to the back of the cell feeling groggy and light-headed. Each time they had attempted to reach the bars they had been transported and each time the grogginess and light-headedness was worse. They had quickly decided that it was better to avoid the bars of their cage.

The worse part was they weren't sure how they ended up in the cage in the first place. They'd been sneaking down a hallway when Lindsey had felt a slight tingle and the next thing he'd known they were here. Since it wasn't obvious where 'here' was, he wasn't optimistic that it would be all that easy to find them – even if people were looking for them. He somehow doubted they would be after the last few interactions they'd had with Giles and his group.

There was one consolation. They had managed to find and retrieve the amulet before they'd been redirected to their prison. Lindsey had even had time to do a slight spell of his own to 'hide' the trinket. So at least whoever had trapped them wouldn't be able to use it to finish their plans for ending the world.

Lindsey sighed again, closing his eyes wearily and thumping his head back against the wall. He hadn't been sure that he'd hidden the amulet adequately – but the visitor they'd gotten hadn't seemed to realize he had it. The demon had spent a good thirty minutes gloating over how they'd caught a slayer and Wolfram & Hart's bad boy.  Then the demon had left and Faith and Lindsey were left alone to ponder their fate.

# # #

Trish and Sally had come through in a big way. They had not only gotten every slayer within a 30 mile radius to come and help out – but they'd even called in some non-slayer help in the forms of off-duty police and soldiers who were 'in the know' for things that went bump in the night. They'd even managed to recruit a few friendly demons who didn't want an apocalypse to occur to join in. An hour later, the group had grown to almost fifty people and everyone was ready to go join Faith and Lindsey in fighting the battle.

Everyone had split up into groups of two or three. It had been much easier than Giles had anticipated. They'd quickly overwhelmed what forces were at the warehouse. Unfortunately there was only one survivor to question by the time they were done – and all they got out of him was the cryptic comment of "You'll never find them in time…" before he'd stabbed himself in the heart and turned to dust.

Dawn looked at Giles in horror. "They've got Faith and Lindsey…."

"Search this building," Giles called out to the surrounding groups. "Be wary of traps – we aren't certain what they have in lieu of protection…." He reminded the group before going into what had served as the office. He began searching for maps or information on where the two missing team members had been taken.

Willow's group was the one to find the first clue. She had paired up with Dawn and a soldier. They'd been searching a particular hallway when she saw a knife - that she distinctly remembered Faith taking with her – lying on the ground. She'd quickly walked over to pick it up.  

Giles looked up when the yell of a soldier suddenly carried through the building. There were a few moments of quiet and he wondered if he should go to investigate when another more distressed yell carried through the building. He ran toward where he'd heard the shouting, others falling into line behind him as he stopped beside the soldier who he knew had been paired with Willow and Dawn. "She was right in front of me," the man said as he pointed to the hall, "But as soon as she passed that picture…" he pointed to the picture in question, "she just disappeared!"

Giles frowned, motioning everyone else to back away from the area in question. The soldier continued. "I ran over to where she had been, but I couldn't find any evidence that she had been there. Nothing happened to me - but then the younger girl that was with her followed me to see if she could find something and SHE disappeared!"

Giles blanched at the information. "Both Willow and Dawn disappeared?" The soldier nodded, backing away from the watcher slightly – the man's voice taking on a dangerous tone.

"It left the soldier alone though…" Xander muttered to himself.

Buffy frowned, her eyes were anxious. Without a word, she spun away from the hall where her sister had disappeared and ran back to the office to see if the maps Giles had found might give a clue as to where the four missing people had ended up. She just hoped they weren't in an alternate dimension.

# # #

Lindsey had opened his eyes as soon as he heard the yelp. He then blinked, several times to make certain he wasn't hallucinating before he finally drawled, "Well – at least we weren't the only ones to stumble over the wrong spot. You didn't happen to bring anything that will let people track you, did you?" 

Willow gave him a nervous smile, but before she could answer him there was a second yelp and then Dawn was standing there looking between Lindsey, Faith, and Willow in consternation.

"Well, this just keeps getting better and better…" Faith sighed.

Dawn bit her lip, but tried to be optimistic. "Well…. If he hasn't shown up by now, maybe that means that soldier guy that was with us wasn't taken and he can tell the others…"

"Sure thing, sweetheart," Lindsey smiled patiently.  "If we're really lucky, they might actually figure out where we were taken to…."

Dawn slumped then stomped over to slide down the wall and sit next to Lindsey. Faith sighed again and moved to Lindsey's other side and slid down to sit next to him as well.

Willow frowned, getting a frustrated and firm look on her face. "They can't keep us here. I'll just get us out by…" it wasn't clear what her original plan had been. She'd sent a spell at the magically enforced bars and the next thing they knew she was lying flat on her back and groaning in pain.

"Crap! Willow! Are you OK? Don't move!" all three started shouting at her at once. She groaned again.

"Shut up! My ears hurt!" she whimpered slightly.

Lindsey snorted. "Lucky if that's all that hurts. You don't want to use magic against that barrier. Not sure what it is or how it was made – but it seems to feed off of magic.  Faith and I tried to get close to the bars and it literally drained us."

Willow frowned, slowly sitting up and pushing herself back so that she could lean against the wall with the other three. "How is it draining you? I thought you were human…" she slurred out.

Lindsey smiled crookedly. "I am. But I've also had a bit of magical modification done that… well – I guess those bars are picking up on it." He shrugged, not going into detail about what modifications he'd had done.

"So… We're stuck here until someone without any magic at all shows up and can let us out?" Willow asked hesitantly.

"Looks like…" Faith answered in a subdued tone. The four quieted, staring at the barrier keeping them from freedom.

# # #

Buffy hadn't wasted any time in deciding that her missing friends were likely being held in a basement of the building and had run off in the direction of the stairs. She'd ignored Giles shouts to her, not hearing or paying attention. The watcher growled slightly, removing his glasses and cleaning them rapidly before turning toward the two slayers who had actually heard him and had stopped just in case he needed something.

He smiled at the two girls. "Trish and Sally, is it?" he waited for their nods of confirmation. "Good…I don't want any of us running around without a partner – until we know how our friends disappeared or what took them, I don't believe it is safe. If you two wouldn't mind following her?" he motioned toward where the original slayer had disappeared. "Her sister is one of the ones that has gone missing, so she isn't stopping to think or listen…" he sounded frustrated.

Trish smiled slightly and nodded. "It's OK, Mr. Giles. We'll go join her. Lindsey and Faith are good friends of ours so we understand how worried she is. We'll do our best to make sure she stays safe…." With that the two girls took off in a run, heading the same direction as Buffy.

Giles sighed then put his hands on his hips, a stern frown on his face.  It was bad enough that Lindsey and Faith had ignored him – and he was going to have a long discussion with them about their complete lack of respect for his position as well as the fact that they had put themselves into needless danger because of said lack of respect; Buffy on the other hand was an entirely different matter.  She might try and pretend that she hadn't heard him calling to her, but he knew the truth. She had deliberately ignored him. She hadn't wanted him issuing warnings or instructions – wanting to rush headlong into the situation. 

She frequently did that. He was seriously considering stepping up as her mentor again and correcting her. Dawn had certainly been willing enough to have him step up and she was thriving under his care and concern. Unfortunately, it had been Spike that had pointed out what Dawn needed. While he had seen what she needed, he hadn't put two and two together that it should be him providing it until the blonde vampire had said so. While he could easily see that Buffy – and possibly Willow and Xander - might benefit from the same arrangement, he wasn't entirely certain that he should be the one to handle it.

He shook his head and forced himself to focus on the situation at hand. First he had to find the wayward kids. After they were all safe and sound at home – then he would deal with the rampant disobedience and stupid chances that had been taken today. Straightening his shoulders, he went back into the office to see if anything else could be gleaned or salvaged.

# # #

Buffy had looked in nearly every room that she'd come across, ignoring Trish and Sally's presence entirely. The other two slayers had stayed a bit back from the blonde, realizing that she not only wouldn't welcome any comments or suggestions from them but that since she wasn't being as careful as she should be, they really needed to stay far enough back not to be affected if something went wrong. If she disappeared too, that would leave them to run back and get help.

When the original slayer found the hidden hallway leading further into the bowels of the warehouse she'd quickly started down it. Trish and Sally waited a few moments then started down it themselves at a slower more careful pace.

Buffy was startled when the darkened hallway suddenly opened up into a well lit room that was split down the middle by metal bars. On the other side of the bars she could see the four missing people – but it was Dawn that she focused on. She ran toward the bars, heedless to the fact that they were glowing eerily. "Dawn!"

"Buffy stop!" Faith yelled out in warning. The blonde shot Faith an irritated and condescending look even as she grabbed hold of the bars, intending to bend them open so that the prisoners could get free. No one but Buffy was shocked when she suddenly found herself lying flat on her back, inside the cell, feeling weaker than she had in a long time.

Faith rolled her eyes and refused to look at the blonde slayer. 

Lindsey snorted. "Shoulda listened blondie. Those bars seem to be attuned to magical beings or those who wield magic. Anytime you get too close, they drain you – leave you weak as a kitten." He muttered in his own condescending tone.

"He's right Buffy." Willow hesitantly spoke up. "I'm still feeling a bit woozy from my attempt to get out…" Buffy glanced at the Wicca. The red-head did look a little green.

At that moment Trish and Sally very slowly entered the room. "Don’t come any closer girls!" Lindsey yelled to them. To their credit, they stopped immediately.

"What's up, Lindy-bear?" Trish asked, a teasing lilt in her voice. "Why is it we never get called in to do fun stuff with you? We just get called in to rescue your sorry butt?"

Lindsey gave the two slayers a sheepish look. "You know me. Always looking and finding trouble."

"Uh huh" Sally nodded solemnly before grinning.

"So…the bars to the cell are enchanted to drain magic or supernatural essence or something. Not sure how it works. All I know is that whenever any of us get too close, it weakens us.  It also managed to put Buffy inside the cell…so we really don't want you two to get too close cuz it just might grab you too." The ex-lawyer explained.

"Ok. So we need some non-magicals then…" Trish muttered. She gave Lindsey a reassuring grin before turning the grin on the other four women. "We'll be right back with Mr. Giles!"

Faith and Lindsey looked at each other with a slight wince then grinned. There were likely going to be a lot of I told you so's in their near future.

# # #

It hadn't taken Trish and Sally long to find Giles and inform him of what had occurred. All he could do was shake his head and follow them back down to where the missing children were (and at that moment there wasn't a person alive that would convince him that they weren't children.)  Xander followed behind bringing along a sledgehammer that still had some flecks of demon goo on it. 

He, Xander, and the two younger slayers stayed several feet away from the bars of the cage. Dawn and Willow had immediately jumped up and attempted to explain what had happened to them and give him some clue as to what they felt when they were close to the bars. He noted that Lindsey and Faith had stood as well but were staying further back and refusing to look at him. Good. A little guilt was the least that they deserved. Interesting that Buffy was also hanging back and having a difficult time looking at him though. He wondered what she had done that she was afraid he'd find out about. It was something to ask after he'd gotten them all out of this cage.

Cautiously he made his way forward until he could grasp the bars himself. Except for a mild tingle that indicated that yes, it was magic, he didn't feel anything at all. 

"That's so not fair!" Willow pouted. "You do spells too! Why doesn't it affect you the way it affected us?"

Giles shot her an amused look, but replied with what he felt was a rather obvious answer. "I have done the occasional spell or incantation when necessary, Willow - but I haven't delved into magic the way you have. Magic has become a large part of who you are. And I really couldn't answer for Lindsey although I could hazard a guess." He eyed the younger man, noting the pleading look in the boy's eyes. He didn't say anymore.

"Oh," Willow answered in a tiny voice. 

"Well," Xander blurted out and moving forward next to Giles. "If it isn't affecting you, then it won't affect me! And I brought the key!" he grinned widely, holding up the still gooey sledge hammer. "You might want to stand back though. In case, you know, something goes flying."

His grin grew even larger when everyone backed up as far away as they could get - even Giles. Lifting the sledge-hammer up he braced himself and then swung as hard as he could.

No one could have predicted what happened next. Apparently, feeling that the magical barrier would keep their prisoners in line, the demons hadn't bothered to lock the door to the cell. As soon as the hammer hit it, it flew open with a loud clang. Of course, Xander - expecting a lot of resistance - wasn't prepared for the lack of any resistance. The hammer kept moving in its forward trajectory and Xander flew along behind it, landing with a thud on the floor of the cell. 

Everyone stood still, looking down at the brunette uncertainly, until they heard a plaintive "Ouch". Xander carefully rolled over, then sat up. Dawn giggled nervously before biting her lip. When Xander smiled up at her, she went over and helped him to his feet. 

Then everyone looked at the now open cage. The bars still glowed, but the area where the door should have been was clear.

"If we go one at a time and move quickly, we should be OK…" Lindsey stated slowly, glancing at Giles to see what the older man would say. Giles couldn't help but raise an eyebrow at the fact that the younger man was willing to listen to his advice now. He smiled faintly at the tiny blush that crept up Lindsey's face. 

When the boy looked away from him, he finally agreed. "Yes. I believe if you come through one at a time and don't touch the bars and don't linger too long, you should be fine."

"OK. Then I'll go first." Lindsey stated, holding out a hand to stop both Faith and Buffy from going first. They frowned at him but he wasn't fazed. "Willow already got zapped pretty hard and I don't want to see what could happen to Dawn if we are wrong about it being safe. And I'd rather not spend all afternoon waiting for the two of you to argue about who gets to go first. I'm going first. End of story."

"We won't…"  "There won't be…" both slayers started to argue then stopped and gave each other dirty looks.  

Dawn giggled again, drawing their attention. "Boy has he got you two pegged!" she chirped happily then looked at the cell door again. Lindsey was safely on the other side. "Can I go next?" she asked, not moving.

Giles gave Lindsey a questioning glance, obviously wanting him to describe how he now felt. Lindsey smiled crookedly and obeyed the unspoken demand for answers. "I felt a slight tingle, but I don't feel drained like I did when I accidently touched the bars. If she moves quickly, I think she'll be alright. If it was that big a threat to her I think it would have affected her more strongly when the cell was closed…."

Giles nodded at the information, then motioned Dawn to come forward. "Quickly then, don't stand too close to the bars for too long…" he said gently as the young girl nearly ran through the cell door then threw her arms around him.

Willow ran through next and then Faith convinced Buffy to go before her - since Buffy was obviously worried about Dawn and wanted to check her over (despite the fact Giles was already doing so). Xander gave Faith a warm smile and motioned her to go through ahead of him. "Just in case something happens and I need to carry you out…" he joked with her - though it was obviously not a joke. She didn't argue.

Once everyone had escaped the jail, it hadn't taken long for them to make their way back upstairs.  The L.A. group of slayers had taken any information, books, and supplies they could find. It was better than leaving it behind for the demons to be able to use for their nefarious purposes. Giles spent a few moments speaking quietly with Trish and Sally and then they'd left with the rest of the L.A. slayers. Pretty soon all the extra help had left to go back home or to their 'day' jobs and the only ones left were the Sunnydale gang, Lindsey, and Faith. Without a word, they'd quickly gotten into their respective vehicles to head back to the mansion.

# # #

By unspoken agreement, they had all met back in the library. Giles hadn't wasted any time in voicing his displeasure to Angel's charges. "You not only completely disregarded the advice I gave you, but deliberately ignored phone calls from me OR HUNG UP ON ME!" his glare kept moving from Faith to Lindsey and back again, as if he couldn't decide who he was most irritated at.

Lindsey frowned, but didn't say anything. He'd known when he did it that it was rather childish. Faith blushed and wouldn't meet Giles' eyes.

"Just because you didn't want to hear it, doesn't mean you didn't need to hear it! You deliberately went into a situation that was entirely too dangerous for just two people! The only reason we didn't have any difficulty is because your friends Trish and Sally managed to call in every available slayer PLUS outside hunters that live in the area. We had close to 50 people come here tonight to help! And if we'd had even five less people, the outcome could have been much more deadly for our side!" Giles growled, pleased when Lindsey dropped his own eyes.

"I think we know how Angel would handle your behavior if he were here right now." Giles stated firmly. That caught both Faith's and Lindsey's attention as they glanced back up at him in consternation. They glanced at Dawn with slightly betrayed and accusing looks.

"I didn't say anything!" Dawn protested her innocence. "He and Spike had a really long talk and… well he isn't a fool!"

Giles gave Dawn a disgruntled look. "Thanks for that vote of confidence…I think." Shaking his head, he returned his stare onto the younger man and woman who had completely disregarded their safety so they could ignore him. "Dawn is correct. And by the way you are fidgeting and looking even guiltier, I can assume that you agree with me that Angel would handle things exactly the way I implied."

Lindsey ran a hand through his hair nervously, and then shoved his hands into his jeans pockets when he couldn't help but twitch. "Angel isn't here, so unless you plan to tell on us, it doesn't really matter," he mumbled.

"Oh. I won't be telling him. You will. But even if you don't, it does matter. I am the one you completely disrespected to put yourselves in danger, so I believe I will ensure that the appropriate consequences are dealt."

Lindsey just stood looking at Giles in shock for a moment, glancing at Faith only long enough to see that the brunette slayer seemed ready to submit to Giles' decision. He glanced around the room at everyone else. Dawn looked surprised and a little nervous. Willow and Xander looked uncertain and worried. Buffy had a grin on her face like Christmas had come early; it was the grin Buffy wore that set him off.  

Yes, he and Faith had disregarded Giles' advice and had as a result put themselves into unnecessary danger - but their actions had been a direct result of the disregard and disrespect he and Faith had been shown by the self-righteous blonde and the Sunnydale group's inability or desire to stand up to her or reign her in. He'd be damned if he'd give her even one reason to think she was correct in her assumptions that Lindsey and Faith were 'less than' her. 

It rubbed him wrong that Giles felt he had a right to assume Angel's position of authority, but the fact that the man had decided to try and usurp that authority in front of the blonde bimbo set fire to Lindsey's temper and he lashed out without even thinking about what he was admitting to in his anger.

"No. There is NO WAY IN HELL, that you're gonna lay one finger on Faith or I! You aren't our daddy, and I'll be damned before I let you take the right to act like him! I don't even know you!" Lindsey growled ominously, his tone causing Giles to take a step back in surprise.

Faith stood next to Lindsey, her mouth dropping open as her brother lost it.  She wasn't entirely certain he wouldn't hit the older watcher, so she put a hand on her brother's arm in an attempt to calm him down.

Lindsey swallowed hard and took a deep breath before stepping away from Giles. It was then that he and Faith noticed Xander, Willow, and Buffy - standing still as statues with varying looks of shock and disgust on their faces.

# # #

Angel had noted he van that was sitting in the driveway; the van that most decidedly did not belong to anyone in the family. He wrinkled his nose curiously, wondering who was visiting, but didn't say anything. Carefully pulling into the garage he made certain the garage door was closed before he opened the car door. It wouldn't do to have the special Low-E glass in his car if he stepped into a random sunbeam while exiting it, after all.

While it had not taken them as long to stop the haunting as they had thought it would, it had still been a tiring case. All he wanted was to go inside, grab a mug of O-neg, then take a long shower before falling into his nice comfy bed. If the way Spike was dragging his feet was any indication, he felt the same way. Even Illyria seemed wilted somehow. He should have known that he wouldn't be able to rest yet. No sooner had he opened the door between the garage and the kitchen, he had heard the shouting from down the hall where the library was. Uncertain as to what exactly was going on, he motioned Illyria and Spike to remain silent, then stealthily moved toward the library, listening to what was being yelled.

"You deliberately ignored my warnings…" Angel frowned as he recognized Giles’ voice.

"You aren't our boss! I'm entitled to ignore you if I want!" Angel blinked at Lindsey's rather childish retort and frowned. What warnings? And why would they be ignored?

"I can't believe you want to…" Buffy's voice, sounding disgusted and somewhat shocked, carried shrilly over the two men's voices. His eyebrows rose slightly.

"He isn't going to!" Lindsey growled, interrupting the blonde slayer before she could finish her statement - leaving Angel to wonder what exactly Giles wanted to do.

"Uh…I'm still reeling at the thought that Angel would do something like…" Willow's voice was softer and hesitant. More like the girl she was when Angel first met her than the self-assured young woman he now knew her to be.

"He would." Giles confirmed. "What you did was reckless and unnecessary!" he was obviously addressing Lindsey again. Angel crossed his arms over his chest and looked at Spike (Illyria had disappeared upstairs by this point), not liking the sound of those words.
 
"And again I have to say… You ain't got the right!" Lindsey drawled. "And stop giving me those disgusted looks Twinky!" He snarled. Just who Twinky was supposed to be Angel didn't have a clue, but if the affronted gasp was any clue - he was talking to Buffy.

"Kinda hard not to give disgusted looks when it's so disgusting. Even if I can't have any problem believing that you'd be into the whole slave/master thing - I can't believe Angel would want to involve himself…" Angel's eyes widened and his eyebrows almost disappeared into his hairline when he heard that declaration.

"Slave…Mast…" Lindsey spluttered, too angry to form coherent words.

"It's not like that!" Faith protested hotly. "Angel has never… with either of us!" Angel could only imagine that Faith had provided some sort of hand motions to indicate what he never did - the lack of words only added to his confusion. Just what the heck was being discussed????

"Eeeew!" Dawn's voice could be heard over the other two's protests. "Angel isn't their master! He's their father! And…and…you… You better not be looking at Giles and me like that! Cuz it's a family thing, not a sex thing and…and…that's just wrong!" the younger girl was very indignant on behalf of her friends. 

Angel grimaced at the thought of Dawn and Giles having a 'sex' thing, then suddenly realized what Faith, Lindsey, and he were being accused of. He glanced at Spike completely flummoxed. 

"You and Giles?" Xander piped in, his voice confused. "Why would we think you and Giles…."  Everyone seemed to realize at the same time as there were several gasps before Buffy screeched.

"YOU HIT DAWN??! HOW DARE YOU TOUCH MY SISTER IN THAT WAY! HOW COULD YOU???" If the argument hadn't been loud before, Buffy made certain her voice carried through several rooms of the mansion if not the entire building.

"I do NOT hit Dawn!" Giles protested indignantly. Angel could only imagine him taking his glasses off and cleaning them furiously.

"He doesn't hit me Buffy! He spanks me. There IS a difference…" Dawn admitted just loudly enough to be heard over the mumblings and affronted accusations of the other members of the Sunnydale contingent.

"It's the same thing Dawn!" Buffy huffed.

Angel quietly snuck into the library and leaned against the wall, watching the tableau in front of him. Spike came in stood next to him. Xander saw both of them, but at the minute shaking of Angel's head, he didn't say anything. 

Faith was standing next to Lindsey a withdrawn and miserable look on her face.  Lindsey was standing protectively next to her; the boy looked like he was ready to rip the head off of anyone that made a wrong move toward the brunette slayer. Dawn was standing next to Giles, an embarrassed and ashamed look on her face; what she was embarrassed or ashamed of, Angel didn't know yet. Giles was frustrated; his stance, the look on his face - everything screamed irritation. Willow looked confused, slightly worried, and uncertain. Buffy looked like a cat whose tail had been stepped on; ready to tear into the older man. The only one who looked calm was Xander; the younger man shot Angel an apologetic and sheepish look, but kept quiet.

Deciding that it was time someone step in and stop the argument before it actually progressed to blows - Lindsey truly looked ready to attack someone if one more word was said - Angel cleared his throat ignoring how everyone in the room jumped in surprise at his presence and then got varying looks of trepidation or accusation on their faces. 

Smiling slightly, Angel said softly, "I really appreciate you standing up for me Dawn. Although I have to say it is a bit disappointing that someone - who once claimed to love me and understand me - would assume that I would hit my family; even if she believed that I'd taken on some slave harem." He gave Buffy a betrayed look, causing the blond to look down in embarrassment and shame at her own accusations.

Angel, not certain his point had been made but deciding that he didn't really care to bother to try and explain to a group that had so obviously jumped to conclusions, turned to Giles. "Maybe you can explain just what is going on: why my son looks like he wants to murder someone; why my daughter looks like she wants to dig a hole in the ground to bury herself; and why you - apparently - think they need to be spanked."

Giles straightened his shoulders and nodded at Angel, even as he noticed Lindsey's attitude change nearly immediately from one of belligerent anger to guilty worry as the younger man glanced from the older watcher to the eldest vampire. He smiled slightly in vindication, even if he felt his own guilt at the embarrassment and upheaval he had inadvertently brought to the younger man. Lindsey was worried about what his father was going to think - which meant that Giles couldn't have been completely in the wrong. He calmly and quietly began his explanations to Angel. No one else in the room had the nerve to contradict or interrupt him.

# # #

Thirty minutes later, Giles had mostly finished his explanations of what had brought the Sunnydale group to L.A. and what had transpired between that moment and the time Angel had walked into the library to find them all arguing so vehemently. Angel had listened quietly, asking the occasional question to clarify what had been done. Anytime someone other than Giles had opened their mouth to offer an opinion however, Angel had given them a look that had immediately shut them up. Even Buffy hadn't been able to ignore the look, to her frustration.

"In short," Giles finally drew the explanations to a close, "I am afraid I over-stepped my bounds. It wasn't my place to come in and start giving out orders and expecting immediate obedience…" he glanced at Faith and Lindsey apologetically.

"Overall, this whole mess could have been avoided if we had treated you as colleagues and equals instead of hired help," he glared at Buffy, who shut her mouth and swallowed the protest she had been about to make. "And it would not have worsened had I not ordered you around or attempted to scold you in front of Buffy or the other two. Especially knowing the history between Faith and Buffy and knowing that Buffy would take it as an opportunity to gloat." Buffy had the grace to look embarrassed at the comment and looked at the floor - feeling guilty at her own actions.

"While I didn't intend to treat you as children, I admit I did treat you as children - I treated you as the children of a man I feel I owe a great deal to. After the promise Angel made to Dawn - I just…I guess I felt I owed it to him to try and keep you safe." The watcher admitted with an embarrassed and chagrined smile. "It wasn't my intention to try and take Angel's place. I apologize for expecting you to follow my lead without question and for acting as if I had the right to correct your behavior when you balked at my actions."  

Lindsey had found it difficult to remain quiet while Giles was giving Angel the low-down on what had happened that night. He had wanted several times to jump in with his own two-cents. At first, only Angel's stern frown had kept him quiet. Toward the end of the explanations, he had to admit he kept quiet because Giles had been up front and honest about everything - he hadn't left anything out, even when it put himself and his own group in a bad light. 

Which made it more difficult when he told of the stuff Lindsey would have preferred not been said. Toward the end Lindsey's anger had started to ebb and he'd begun to feel guilty. Hearing about his actions described from Giles' point of view made it more difficult for him to justify his actions. Hearing Giles' apologies was the icing on the metaphorical cake. His shoulders slumped and he looked at the floor and swallowed hard. He glanced at Angel from beneath lowered lashes to see if he was allowed to speak.  

"Do you have anything to add to that? Or explain about it?" Angel’s voice was calm, but it was obvious to both Faith and Lindsey that he was highly disappointed in their actions. 

"Just that…Giles was right about everything. I should have listened to him. You would never have agreed to Faith and I going on our own…and the only reason I didn't listen to his warnings was because I wanted to prove he wasn't in charge. Which was childish and foolish…." The young lawyer grimaced, knowing that in admitting such a thing he’d just ensured that he wouldn't be able to get out of any consequences for what he'd done. 

He finally looked at Giles. "I apologize also. I…don't react well to people who think they are better than me." He glanced at Buffy, but for once the look wasn't heated. "But that's my own hang up and disregarding good advice because I didn't like the method it was delivered…well that's all on me. I'm sorry I made an already difficult situation more difficult for you…" the younger man drawled out softly.

"I'm sorry too…" Faith said quietly, giving Giles a tentative smile. "I was embarrassed that you seemed to know so much about our family business and I guess I was just…I dunno…" the brunette slayer shrugged and blushed.

Spike chuckled slightly, "Oy. Only reason he knew Princess was because I told him. There was no reason for you to be embarrassed and get your panties in a twist."

Faith shot an affectionate glare at the blond vampire. "I know that… didn't help at the time. Still, I am sorry." She glanced back at Giles expectantly.

Giles cleared his throat. "Well, if you all can forgive my presumptions, I'm certain I can forgive your reactions to my presumptions." He smiled faintly at the quick nods of agreement he received from the two younger members of Angel's team. He then looked at Angel. "I'm sure you would like to speak with your two youngest on your own…and I'm afraid that I will need to speak with my own children…" he looked from Dawn, to Xander, to Willow, and finally let his gaze rest on Buffy. "Things have been revealed tonight that need to be explained and discussed. And one thing has become clear. Certain attitudes have gotten out of control and it may not only be Dawn who needs a father's guiding hand…." The smile on Giles face was all Ripper. Willow and Xander audibly gulped, while Buffy's eyes widened comically and she bit her lip nervously.

Angel smiled at the watcher. "You may stay here for your discussion. I'll take my brood upstairs."  At Giles' accepting nod, Angel turned and grasped Faith and Lindsey's arms in a gentle grip, leading them out of the library and up to his bedroom.

# # #

Angel had led his two youngest upstairs, keeping them slightly in front of him and nudging them gently along by placing a hand on the small of their backs. Spike had disappeared into his own room as soon as they had reached the top landing, so when Angel finally turned to close his bedroom door, the only two in the room with him were Faith and Lindsey. They stood at the foot of his bed looking very much like two naughty children who had been caught red-handed doing something they knew they weren't supposed to do. Faith was giving him pleading puppy eyes while biting her lower lip. Lindsey was refusing to look at him at all, suddenly finding his feet very interesting. They were both fidgeting from foot to foot.

"Well…" Angel finally began with a sigh. That one word caused both of his kids to wince - Angel's disappointment heavy and clear in his tone.  "I know what you did. You've admitted to doing it and that it was wrong. Do you want to say anything else before we take care of consequences?" he softly asked them, willing to give them a chance to offer a defense that might allow him to be lenient and let them off the hook.

Lindsey finally looked up, staring into his father's eyes. Angel could see the guilt and shame easily even before the boys face turned red. "Any reasons I give for my actions would just be excuses, sir." The younger man admitted. "I knew better. Faith even asked me if I thought you would approve, and I told her I wasn't allowing myself to think about that. I didn't want to think about it because I knew you wouldn't approve…" Lindsey swallowed uncomfortably.

Faith nodded slowly, her eyes tearing up. "I knew you wouldn't like it either - I just…I was upset at Buffy and wanted to prove something to her. I chose the wrong way to do that though…" her voice quavered as she struggled not to begin crying immediately.

Angel nodded, giving each of them a sad look. "I'm glad you are able to admit your errors in judgment. I wish I didn't have to correct your behavior, this really isn't what I wanted to come home to…" he sighed softly, smiling slightly in an effort to take the sting out of his words. Lindsey and Faith didn't even attempt to capitalize on his comment by trying to convince him not to punish them. If anything, they looked even guiltier. 

Realizing that they needed to atone for their misdeeds - sooner rather than later - he straightened his shoulders and looked at Lindsey. "Go stand in the corner, son," he commanded gently pointing to the corner he wanted the boy to stand. 

Lindsey paled when he realized that he would be able to hear Faith receiving her punishment - he hated to hear when she was punished. Swallowing hard he walked to where his father had directed him and pressed his nose to the corner as close as he could get without actually leaning on the wall and closed his eyes tightly.

Angel sat on the end of his bed, then beckoned Faith closer. Once she was next to his knee he quickly divested her of her jeans then tugged her over his knee. Gently he tugged her until she was pressed up against him and unable to move easily, then keeping one arm tight around her waist he used the other hand to quickly pull her underwear down. Faith couldn't help but whimper at the action.

Resting his hand against the small of her back Angel asked, "Why are you about to be spanked Faith?"

"Because I deliberately did something that was reckless and endangered my life…and there was no good reason to do it." She admitted in a tiny, childlike voice. "I’m sorry…" she whispered.

"I know you are, Princess." Angel answered her softly before raising his hand up and letting it land on her bottom with a resounding smack.

Faith couldn't help but yelp as the first slap landed. As Angel relentlessly colored her backside with firm, hard smacks, she didn't bother to try and hide the fact that it hurt, whimpering and gasping each time his hand fell. She did attempt not to squirm - but after the fifth smack, even that was beyond her. Angel was holding nothing back. By the seventh smack, he'd had to pull her in even more tightly against him and lock her legs between his own knees to keep her in place.

Faith let out a tiny sob. "Da..daddy…please! I'm so….so sorry!"

Angel hardened his heart to her pleas, wanting nothing more than to end the punishment there. But he needed to make certain that the lesson stuck. "You will each receive twenty-five smacks…you have ten left," he responded to her quietly.

Faith was grateful that he'd picked a set amount, but the thought of ten more was almost more than she could bear. Her father's hand was so firm, and hard, and was making certain that every inch of her bottom was covered with punishment. Choking back another sob, Faith went limp over Angel's lap and accepted the remainder of the spanking without attempting to get away or somehow 'lessen' the blows. 

In response to her submission, Angel quickened his smacks and lessened the force behind them so that the spanking would end as fast as possible and he wouldn't have to cause any more pain than necessary. It was important that he keep his word and hold his children accountable, but he could afford to give them a little mercy; especially when they obviously knew what they'd done wrong and were repentant.

As soon as the spanking was over, Angel gathered Faith up in his arms, holding her close and kissing the top of her head before whispering into her hair, "I don't care who is telling you what to do or what not to do - if it is an order that you know I'd agree with and make myself, I want you to listen. I couldn't bear if something happened to you because your pride kept you from keeping yourself safe…" his voice caught in his throat at the thought of Faith or Lindsey being hurt.

Faith sniffled and pressed even more tightly against her father, burying her face against his chest before nodding. "Ok, Daddy. I’ll try and remember…" she agreed through more sniffling.

"See that you do." Angel gave her one last, tight, squeeze before gently helping her off of his lap and pulling her clothes back into place. Turning her to face the corner he wanted her to go to, he gently ordered. "Go stand in the corner now." 

As Faith quickly obeyed him, Angel turned to face his boy. "Lindsey, come here son."

Lindsey had stood in his own corner, shoulders hunched as he listened to his sister be punished. He couldn't help but wince with each smack he heard. Knowing that Faith was in pain, and knowing that he could have prevented it if he hadn't been so headstrong - she would have listened to him if he'd said they should listen to Giles - made the guilt he already felt about disappointing Angel grow. By the time the smacks had stopped and Angel was whispering forgiveness to the girl, Lindsey's eyes were streaming tears. He angrily wiped at them in an attempt to stem the waterworks, feeling ashamed that he had already lost control of his emotions and he hadn't even been touched yet. It didn't work.

When Angel called for him, Lindsey turned slowly around and walked to his father's side, standing at his knee. He kept his face to the ground, hoping that Angel wouldn't notice that he was already crying - but he wasn't surprised when the vampire reached out with a gentle finger and tilted his face up so that he had to look him in the eye - tear stained face and all. Angel gave him a searching look, then smiled faintly and squeezed his chin gently. 

"Why are you about to be spanked, Lindsey?" Angel asked softly.

"Because I did something I knew I shouldn't do and endangered my life and Faith's life because of it." Lindsey swallowed hard. "I let my pride and emotions control my actions…" he admitted forlornly.

Angel nodded in agreement. "Yes. You did. When pride and emotions are running so strong, that is when you need to consider and reconsider your actions very carefully - to make certain they aren't leading you astray."

The vampire brushed a gentle thumb against Lindsey’s cheek, making certain the boy was still looking at him. "It doesn't matter who is telling you to do or not do something. If you know that I would agree with them or would tell you the same thing - then listen. If it makes it easier, then just pretend they are delivering a message from me and it isn't them you are actually obeying." The older man snorted when Lindsey gave him a surprised and chagrined look.

"I…I hadn't thought about it in that way…but it would make it easier…" the younger man admitted sheepishly.

"Well, then think of it that way. Because if anything happened to you because you were too proud to do the smart thing…" the vampire allowed his fears about that to show through on his face, "… I really would die inside, Sport. I need you in my life, I need ALL of you in my life, too much now to survive something happening and for it to happen because…" the vampire shuddered, finally letting go of Lindsey’s chin.

Horrified at the fear he'd seen in his father's eyes and not knowing what to do about it, Lindsey quickly shoved his jeans and underwear down before almost throwing himself across Angel's knees. Gripping the vampire's leg tightly so that he wouldn't reach back and try and stop his reward for foolishness he begged, "Please punish me…I…I want things to be right again…" he choked out.

Angel blinked as he suddenly found himself with a repentant backside presented for his discipline. Realizing that waiting any longer would be cruel to the young man who was submitting to his care, he quickly adjusted Lindsey so that the boy was held tightly against him. "You will receive twenty-five smacks," he said firmly before raising his hand and landing it in the middle of the boy's bottom.

Lindsey barely managed not to squirm or try to get away - although his grip on his father's leg became tighter and tighter with each painful smack. He didn't attempt to keep quiet either although his vocalizations weren't loud enough to carry outside of the room - it was easy for Angel and Faith to hear him. As was usual, it did not take long for the pain to disrupt his focus, making it impossible for him to control his emotions; soon he'd given up all control and lay limp over his father's knee, quietly sobbing out his guilt.

There was no need to talk - everything that needed to be said had been said. Angel was methodical, making certain that every portion of pale skin was a rosy red and hot to the touch before moving on to another part of his son's bottom. He saved the sit-spots for last, making sure they received a little extra attention by increasing the force behind the smacks. When the vampire was through, Lindsey's entire backside and upper thighs looked and felt like he'd gotten a nasty sunburn.

"It's over now son…" he consoled as he gently rubbed the boy's back before tugging Lindsey up to sit on his lap and wrapping his arms around him tightly. He smiled when the younger man tried to squirm free, but didn't allow him to escape the comfort he was offering. The boy quickly quieted and snuggled closer to the vampire once he realized he wouldn't be able to get away.

"I am sorry…" Lindsey whispered hesitantly. "Forgive me?"

Angel snorted, putting a finger under the boy's chin and forcing him to look him in the eye. "Of course I forgive you. I love you. Both of you!" he said for Faith's benefit who was still looking at the corner, but was obviously listening.

Lindsey gave the vampire a tiny smile and hugged him quickly before standing up and pulling his underwear and jeans back up. He hissed as the material chafed very sore skin.

Once he was fully dressed, Angel called out to Faith. "You can come out of the corner Princess." He wasn't surprised when the brunette slayer came back and stood next to Lindsey, their shoulders almost touching. He was less surprised when Lindsey put an arm around her shoulders and pulled her in even closer. Both Lindsey and Faith then looked at him with twin looks of uncertainty, not sure what else would happen. Angel couldn't help but chuckle - the looks they were giving him made them look so much younger than they actually were. 

They resembled thoroughly punished and repentant children looking for their daddy's approval; although Angel supposed in a way they were exactly that. They were his children, after all; and he had thoroughly punished them; and they had been repentant before they even made it up the stairs. The look on their face made him feel every one of his 250 plus years. 

"Come here," he sighed, pulling them both back into his arms so that each one sat on one of his knees. Faith quickly put her head on his shoulder. Lindsey again briefly fought against the affection before giving in - Angel wasn't letting go - and put his own head on the vampire's other shoulder. 

"We'll have dinner later tonight. Until then, I want both of you to take a nap. Stay in here where I can see and hear you," he ordered and gave each one of them a tight squeeze and kiss on the forhead before shifting so that they were no longer on his lap but sat beside him on the bed. "I'm going to take a shower. Then I'M going to take a nap. The bed's big enough for everyone." With that, he got up and headed toward his bathroom.

"Uh, Angel?" Lindsey called out hesitantly. "We can go lay down in our own rooms if you want us to…" he said with a slight confusion in his tone.

"I know," Angel answered. "I just want to be near my family. Hear you breath. That's all." The vampire shrugged not saying anything else. Nothing else really needed to be said.

Lindsey and Faith watched as he disappeared into the bathroom and the door closed before they looked at each other.

"You take left and I'll take right?" Lindsey finally asked.

"Works for me. Pops can have the middle." The slayer grinned impishly before crawling up to her space and laying down on top of the covers. Shrugging, Lindsey did the same. By the time Angel came out of the shower fifteen minutes later, they were both sound asleep.

# # #

Down in the library, Giles and Dawn stood on one side while Buffy stood on the other. Willow stood closer to Buffy, but Xander had positioned himself firmly between the two sides. Giles had stood there patiently while Buffy had loudly voiced her objections to his handling of Dawn. Dawn had voiced her own opinion of Buffy's opinion just as loudly. There had been the occasional input from Willow or himself, while Xander had remained uncharacteristically silent on the subject. Finally, seeing that Dawn just wouldn't or couldn't admit how wrong it was for Giles to physically punish her for what he viewed as bad behavior and knowing that the younger woman looked up to and respected the male member of the scoobies, Buffy turned to Xander and huffed in frustration.

"Can't you talk some sense into her? You can't possibly be okay with this, but you haven't said anything!" the blond accused.

Xander winced as every eye turned toward him. Swallowing, he sighed then looked at Dawn. "Just answer a couple of questions?" he waited for her nod before continuing.

"You only get smacked for breaking a set of rules Giles has given you?" he asked for clarification, and motioned for Buffy to keep silent when it looked like she was going to start loudly objecting again.

Dawn eyed Buffy almost distrustfully before facing Xander and nodding. "Yeah. Pretty much the same rules Angel has for Faith and Lindsey, actually…" she admitted quietly. At Xander's slight nod she continued, "Take care of my health; don't lie; obey any direct orders Giles gives me; don't deliberately and unnecessarily do life threatening stuff; and no hiding things to avoid being given a direct order…" she shrugged before giving  Xander a tiny grin.

Xander wrinkled his nose thoughtfully. "And the consequences of breaking any of those rules is a spanking?" he asked uncertainly.

"No," Dawn corrected with a slight huff. "The consequences of deliberately putting myself into unnecessary danger is a spanking. Breaking the other rules has consequences that are different…" At Xander's encouraging nod, she reluctantly explained all the rules and the consequences that went with them.

After listening to Dawn's explanation, Xander nodded. "Well…good then. I'm glad Giles is looking out for you and taking care of you the way you need to be taken care of." He gave both Giles and Dawn a smile then turned to Buffy who was spluttering.

"How can you…Why would you…." the blond furiously tried to argue against his agreement with the rules and the consequences.

"Buffy," he glanced at Dawn apologetically. "For the last several years - but more so when Dawnie became legally an adult - we've been leaving her more and more to her own devices. She makes her own decisions and suffers from the fallout of her decisions. Which is good and normal and fine… except that sometimes she needed someone to help her make the best decision and none of us were there for her…we dropped the ball. The rules Giles has given her aren't really onerous…he hasn't taken away her free will or her ability to function as an adult with a mind of her own. He's just given her some guidelines that she takes into consideration whenever she is forming her plans." 

Xander paused before continuing, "And the rules make sense. I know I'm happier knowing that she'll think twice before throwing herself into a battle where she can easily die. I'll be happier knowing that she is actively thinking about taking care of her health instead of it being an after-thought. Being expected to obey a direct order from Giles isn't all that bad. She'll be expected to obey direct orders from lots of people if she gets any jobs with supervisors or bosses. I doubt seriously Giles is micro-managing her day for her…" he glanced at Giles for confirmation.

"Lord, no. I don't want to have that much control over her actions…" the watcher muttered and went back to cleaning his glasses.

Xander grinned. "The lying…well, it does seem a bit childish - but if we can't trust each other to be honest, there is bound to be some problems and it isn't like she hasn't lied in the past. So that just gives her extra incentive to make sure she’s truthful." He ignored Dawn's pout before finishing, "As for the hiding things….well my guess is that was one of Angel's rules and since Giles has pretty much borrowed his rules from Angel, he just left it in place." He ended with a shrug.

"Quite right…" Giles said quietly. "I think he's had problems in the past with Lindsey hiding things so that he could claim he hadn't done anything wrong…"

"Well, he was a lawyer once upon a time…" Willow finally remarked with a smirk.

Buffy looked at Willow in surprise. "Don't tell me you think it is a good idea too?! I guess now you're going to think it is perfectly normal for Angel to be playing father to two adults!"

Willow gave her friend an apologetic smile but nodded. "Yeah, actually, I do think it is OK and what is normal anyway? I don't think it is weird anymore, if that's what you mean." She looked at Dawn. "You and Giles began this arrangement after you came out and visited Faith several months ago, didn't you?"

"Yeah," Dawn said softly.

"Well, I've noticed that you've seemed a lot happier and at ease since returning than you have for several years before hand. I can't rightly argue against something that has helped you to be more at ease, confident, and happy," the witch said almost wistfully.

Giles watched her closely, seeing the almost jealous look in the red-head's eyes. He cleared his throat. "I’m glad to hear you say that Willow. And I'm glad you agree that the rules are valuable Xander. Because I firmly believe that the rules should apply to everyone in this family, not just Dawn." 

Xander and Willow blinked, but didn't say anything. Buffy's eyes widened. "You…you…" she made a swatting motion and then pointed between her watcher and herself.

"Yes, Buffy. If you take unnecessary chances with your life, I fully intend to spank you." Giles answered her unvoiced question, his eyebrow going up in challenge. "I will, of course, take into account the fact that you are the slayer and that in some situations it is necessary for you to take risks. However, some risks are not necessary. Such as running toward the locked door of a magical cage and grabbing hold of it - despite being warned by the people in the cage not to grab it…." His eyes were stern and he was pleased to note the quick, 'oh shit, he knows' look in Buffy's eyes before she guiltily looked away.

He let it go for the moment and glanced between all four members of his family. "I of course expect all of you to talk to me and let me know if you feel I am being unreasonable or unfair. But I think having family rules to keep us all thoughtful of our actions might help improve the way we do our jobs and improve our relationships. I know it has done wonders for Dawn and I."

Xander grinned wolfishly, "So… if we break a rule, I'm assuming you'll enforce it with us G-man. But what if YOU break one of the rules?" 

Giles rolled his eyes and sighed. "I doubt seriously it will be a problem for me - but if I should break any of the rules that we've agreed are for the whole family, I will be willing to have Sam Zabuto oversee the matter - if he is willing. Or perhaps if you are reluctant to have outsiders know of family business, I could ask Angel."

"OK…I don't mind Sam knowing…. Besides. After the way some of us reacted when we found out about Angel and his 'kids', I think we really owe him and Lindsey and Faith an apology before we ask them for any favors…." Xander stated seriously.

"Me too…" Willow hesitantly agreed.

"I don't like it…" Buffy muttered, but at the almost chiding yet pleading look on Dawn's face, she relented. "Fine…I agree to it too….and I'll apologize to Angel." At the other's expectant looks she rolled her eyes. "And I'll apologize to Faith and Lindsey too."

"Well, good. We can apologize tonight, after dinner. We have a few hours before then, so I suggest we go to the rooms Angel has so generously given us and clean up and maybe rest a bit," the older man suggested.

None of the group disagreed and soon they were all sequestered in the guest rooms either sleeping or reading quietly.

# # #

Later that evening, Angel had ordered in Pizza as no one truly felt like cooking. It also enabled everyone to eat in the recreation room in front of the TV instead of at the dining room table - a fact Lindsey and Faith were grateful for as sitting on the well cushioned couch made it easier to hide the residual discomfort they felt from their punishment.  

Before starting the movie, Lindsey and Faith had pulled Giles aside to apologize once again for disrespecting him so badly. He in turn had again apologized for coming in and trying to bulldoze them into rapid obedience. Giles had said that in the future, if he came to LA, he would not expect unquestioning obedience but would instead request them to listen to him. If he felt they were doing something Angel wouldn't like, then he'd inform Angel and let their father rein them in. 

Lindsey had then sheepishly promised that if they were in Giles' territory, then they would do their best to follow him without undue questioning. Faith had nodded enthusiastically in agreement to the promise. Both had blushed darkly when Angel - who had been listening in - said that when they were in Giles' territory that if they broke the rules, Giles' had his permission to take care of it.  Giles and Angel had shared a significant look then the watcher had nodded and given both Lindsey and Faith a smile that Faith swore was a 'Ripper' smile. 

They'd gone to sit on the couch next to Xander and Willow. Lindsey was slightly amused that Xander had managed to position himself so that he was next to Faith. Every so often he could see the male Scoobie whispering to his sister. Finally, unable to keep quiet any longer, he'd glanced at the other young man over Faith's head and growled in amusement, "Do I need to give you the shovel speech?"

Xander eeped in surprise then looked at Lindsey with wide eyes. "You know the shovel speech?"

"Course he does," Spike interjected from his position on the floor, before he stood up slowly to head over to the blond slayer who was looking rather uncertain and agitated. "One of the first things I taught him when we both became big brothers to a pretty girl." He winked at Faith then wandered over to Buffy.

"You don't seem very happy, considering you averted an apocalypse with no bloodshed on the good guys side…" the blond vampire sidled up to Buffy, keeping his voice low so that their conversation wouldn't carry too far.

"I…it's just…I still don't understand it.  Faith and Lindsey are both adults and yet they let themselves be bound to Angel's rules and let him punish them for breaking those rules… and now I find out that Dawn has gone and formed the same arrangement with Giles, and Giles fully expects Willow, Xan, and I to jump on board with it…." The tiny blond sputtered, "and both of them are perfectly happy going along with it!" She shook her head. "We're all adults…how can they just submit in that way and accept consequences like that?"

Spike frowned thoughtfully before remarking, "Governments have rules and consequences for breaking rules and you're perfectly willing to obey those without question," he pointed out.

Buffy rolled her eyes then snorted in exasperation. "Yes…but the rules are so that people don't hurt other people...or so that the government can run more smoothly. They aren't to make sure that someone doesn't go somewhere or do something that might be dangerous to themselves."

"Not necessarily true," Spike grinned. "They have rules about wearing seat-belts in a lot of places. They have rules about where you are allowed to go and can arrest you if you disobey the warning signs about not going there…and most the time that is just to keep people from going somewhere they can get hurt or killed…" 

Buffy frowned. "OK. So they have rules to protect people from themselves. They still don't have consequences that…that…that are so childish!" She pouted.

Spike chuckled softly. "So it isn't really the fact that Giles has placed rules for the group, so much as he's planning to enforce those rules with consequences that you don't feel are adult enough?"

"I'm an adult. That's too old to be spanked." Buffy winced.

"I'm over 150 years old. Angel is over 250 years old. If anyone is too old to be spanked it is us. But we both have been. Because we knowingly and willingly chose to break the number one rule of the house - don't take unnecessary chances with our lives." Spike admitted candidly.

Buffy stared at him with wide-eyes. "But…how can you accept it? Doesn't it make you embarrassed or feel out of control or childish?" her voice was small and uncertain.

"All three, I expect. But then that is the point." Spike shrugged. "The embarrassment - along with the pain - reminds us at future times when we have to make a decision on what to do, that we better be certain we are doing something necessary and for the right reasons. Otherwise we'll be feeling embarrassed and sore again." He smiled at Buffy, still noting that she seemed uncertain.

"Feeling out of control and childish is… well,  I'd be more likely to call it being vulnerable. And allowing yourself to be vulnerable and accepting consequences for actions that you chose to take - especially when you know that the actions you are taking are going to result in those consequences - is actually the adult thing to do, I would think." Spike wrapped an arm around Buffy's shoulder and gave her a friendly hug. 

Spike gave her a serious look. "It only works with someone you trust implicitly. If you don't trust Giles with your life, then you can't very easily trust him with your arse. Not if it is to have any lasting impact or mean anything, anyway. If you don't think you trust him enough to have your best interest at heart and to protect and take care of you, then you have more serious issues than him giving your family rules and punishing you like a kid."

Buffy frowned and protested. "I trust Giles completely! I know he'd never do anything to harm me… and I trust that he would only enforce those stupid rules if he felt one of us was stepping out of line in a dangerous way," she stated.

"I just…" she sighed softly before finally admitting, "I just figured as an adult, I make my own decisions without anyone else – outside of the faceless government - telling me what to do. I'm not sure I like having someone else order me around or being accountable to someone else."

Spike laughed. "Hate to tell ya, slayer… but ninety-nine percent of adults are ordered around and accountable to some one else. Unless you are the CEO or big boss… there is always someone above you in rank calling the shots. Consequences for normal everyday Joes breaking their 'rules' tend to be a bit messier and longer in length.  I think we actually have it easier. Especially when you take into account the fact that OUR bosses love us and only step in when they are worried about us, AND are willing to accept the same consequences as us if they break the rules. They aren't being hypocritical."

Buffy grimaced thoughtfully. "Yeah. Guess you're right. I…I still don't like it - but I think I can live with it."

"You may even come to depend on it, some day…" Spike nudged her gently with a smile then wandered back over to Illyria, sitting down next to her and grabbing a slice of cooling pizza off the coffee table.

# # #

The next morning saw the Scoobies milling around the front door, bags in hand, giving Angel's group hugs goodbye and promises to keep in touch. At some point after her conversation with Spike, Buffy had pulled Faith into a private corner and they had had a discussion. No one but them knew what the discussion was about, but by the end of it, both girls were crying and hugging each other like long lost sisters. The Scoobies departure was a lot more friendly and a lot less stressful than their arrival had been.

Willow and Dawn had been the first to go to the van - wanting to claim the prime seats. Xander wasn't far behind - he'd been giving Faith a rather long hug when they'd started out the door, so he'd had to run to catch up with them.

"Don't forget to call… and if you need our help with anything…" Buffy was hedging, but finally gave Spike, Angel, and Faith big hugs.  She hesitated in front of Lindsey, until he gave her a crooked smile - she'd then thrown her arms around him in a big hug as well before running out the door to the van.

Once Giles was the only one left, he cleared his throat and shook Spike and Angel's hands then turned to face Lindsey and Faith. "You two behave and take care of yourselves. I will be highly perturbed if I get news that you've done something to get yourselves into the hospital - or worse." He chided gently, a teasing look on his face.

Lindsey smiled back sheepishly, "Can't make any promises about that - they've got a room with my name on it, after all…but I'll do my best." The younger man was caught by surprise when Giles pulled him in for a side-hug.

"I'll be good Giles," Faith promised simply before throwing her arms around the watcher tightly.

Angel smirked, placing a hand on his son's and daughter's shoulder once Giles was finished embracing them. "You know I'll be keeping an eye on them too. You take care of yourself too, old man."

"Old man! This from the 250 year old!" he muttered, then chuckled. "We'll keep in touch." 

Nodding once more, he exited the mansion and went to get in the driver's seat. The sound of Dawn and Willow squealing and Xander protesting something carried through the morning air back to the front porch, causing the four remaining people to smirk.

"Yeah. He's got his hands full…" Angel muttered in sympathy before turning and heading to the kitchen for a mug of blood.


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