Kissin' Cuzins

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"How are you dear?"

Willow smiled as she heard her mother's concerned but preoccupied voice over the phone line. She stretched on the couch, hitting the mute button on the television. "I'm fine Mom. How are you and Dad?"

"Fine. The flight was rather uneventful. Stewardess was rude but otherwise nice."

"And how is Zurich?" Willow asked, wondering why her mother had called. She had been back from for two weeks, since school let out. Both she and Buffy had decided to stay at home over the summer. Joyce had been thrilled to have someone to talk to and Willow was rather glad for the peace and quiet. Her mother usually only phoned once every few weeks to catch up and be motherly from long distance. She had just phoned the week before.

"Lovely as usual. The house we rented is nice. Should be fun filled four months" Sheila said, finishing with her notes.

"What's wrong?" Willow finally asked.

Sheila looked up, glancing at the books in front of her. "What do you mean, honey?"

"Mom, you just got called last week. Usually once a month is about it...."

"Is it wrong for a mother to worry about her child?" Sheila asked.

"Not a normal mother," Willow laughed.

"Now listen here missy. You aren't so old I can't take you over my knee....when I get back to Sunnydale that is." Sheila said, shutting the book.

"What is it Mom?"

"How is Bunny?"

"BUFFY" Willow stressed her friend's name, "is good. Her boyfriend stayed here for the summer and she moved back in with her mom."

"And Alexander?"

"Xander is fine. He's loving the job at the daycare. Thinking about going to college with us next year to study education" Willow said. "He and Anya are looking for a place to live....they just got engaged."

"Well, that's good. Alexander was always such a nice boy. I can see him as a teacher" Sheila said, smiling as she remembered the young boy. She started when she realized he was engaged. Little Xander Harris getting married. Thinking of it, she realized that her own daughter was almost twenty. She glanced around the room and sighed. Where did the time go?

"Yeah....He loves kids" Willow agreed.

"Well, your father is waiting for me. OH I almost forgot. The reason I phoned."

"Yes?" Willow asked, knowing there had to have been a reason.

"Guess who your father and I ran into when we were at the airport?"


"Your cousin" Sheila said.

"Cousin?" Willow asked. Her parents were both only children. Suddenly, she groaned. "Tommy?"

"Yes. Little Tommy all grown up. Why, I hadn't seen him since Myra's funeral back seven..eight years ago?" Sheila said.

"Seven and a half" Willow said, visions of Tommy filling her mind. She had been eleven when she had last seen her 'cousin'. Her mother's high school best friend's son. The older boy she had idolized when she was a child. Her Tommy.

"Yes, well. Anyway, fix up the guest room for him. He's going to come stay at the house for a few weeks." Sheila said.

"What? Tommy is coming here? Mooooom!" Willow whined.

"He's practically family Willow. He has a bit of vacation and needed somewhere to go. Be nice to him. His father is dead now too. He really doesn't have anyone" Sheila said.

Willow snorted, "Great. There goes my vacation. Maybe Joyce will let me stay with them."

"Willow Anne Rosenberg you will not treat a guest that way. You will welcome Tommy back and be nice. He looked a bit ill. Anyway, have a lovely summer dear. I'll phone next month. Love and kisses."

" and kisses" Willow muttered, glaring at the phone as she hung it up. Just great. Tommy was coming to visit. She closed her eyes and groaned loudly as she turned the television back on.


"Why so glum, chum?"

Willow looked up at Xander and smiled. "Sorry. Am I not here?"

Buffy snorted. "Completely in outer space. Anything wrong?"

Willow looked at her friends' concerned faces and sighed. "Not really. Just got an upsetting phone call from my mom last night."

"Sheila called? Didn't she call last week?" Xander asked, a bit worried.

Willow laughed, "It wasn't anything that bad. Just something I never expected...."

"Damn it, Willow. What was it?" Anya demanded, tired of waiting.

Willow smiled at the girl's bluntness. Anya was a good match for Xander. She looked at Xander, waiting for the explosion to her words. "Tommy is coming to stay for a few weeks."

Xander's eyes widened. "Tommy? Holy shit. Wow....I mean, it's been like six years."

Willow glared at her laughing friend. "Seven I think. I can't believe he's coming here. He hated Sunnydale!"

"Ahem.." Buffy cleared her throat getting their attention. "Excuse me for asking, but who the hell is Tommy?"

"My mother's best friend Myra's son. He use to come here for summers with her until she died." Willow explained. "They always stayed with us and he complained constantly."

Xander snickered. "Uh huh...."

Buffy looked from Willow to Xander. "Ok. What aren't we hearing?"

"Tommy was older than like six years. He was a fucking god" Xander said, remembering. "He was friend's with Jesse's older brother Jay and the three of us followed after them each summer. Jesse and I idolized those guys."

Willow laughed shortly, "Jesse and Xan imitated every word. Constantly. I almost killed them by the end of every summer."

Anya smiled at the wistful look on her fiance's face. "I can see that."

"Hey" Xander said defensively, seeing the sappy looks on the women's faces and the pitying look on Riley's face. "Tommy was the epitome of cool. Even Jay wanted to be Tommy. Tell them Willow."

Willow sighed, "He's right. Arrogant, rich, charming, smart....."

"Gorgeous?" Buffy asked.

Willow glared at her friend, "Gorgeous. He was a jerk though. I can still remember the first time he came to visit. I was six and he was" she thought about it, "Twelve I guess. I know he was in Junior high already. He was constantly whining about the town. He met Jay when he had to take me to Jesse's house and they hit it off. After that, it was the two of them getting into trouble and flirting around with all the women."

"Someone had a crush" Xander said in a sing song voice.

Willow stuck her tongue out at Xander as her face flushed. "Did not. He hated me. I was just an annoying kid."

"Brat" Xander remembered with a smile. Rolling his eyes, he said, "Man, you bugged him to death. Always tagging along at his heels. I thought he was gonna smack you."

"Thanks Xander" Willow said, staring daggers at her oldest friend.

"And this guy is staying with you for a few weeks?" Riley asked.

"Yes" Willow said, her face looking as if she had found out she were dying. "A few weeks. And I'm suppose to entertain him. Great summer."

Buffy smiled at Xander. "Sounds like it should be fun. So, this Tommy is like what? Twenty six now?"

Xander nodded, "Something like that. Jay is twenty seven and he was a bit older than Tommy." Xander just shook his head, "I can't wait to see him again. I mean, it's been awhile. He was still in high school when Myra died. He never came back after her funeral."

"What happened to him?" Anya asked.

Willow sighed, "He had to move in with his father. He and Myra had lived in LA but his dad lived in Newport Rhode Island. After he left, he finished high school there and went to college. Mom got a graduation announcement a few months after he moved and then we didn't hear from him again. I told you, he never liked the summers in Sunnydale."

"Can't really blame him" Buffy said. She flinched as Xander and Willow glared at her. "Hey, compared to LA? This is hell. Literally."

"Fine. Point taken. When does he get here? We'll have to take him out for dinner" Xander said, eager to catch up with his childhood idol.

"I don't know. Too soon, whenever it is" Willow said.

Buffy smiled at the reaction in her friend. There was definitely a history between the redhead and Tommy. She couldn't wait to meet the man that had Willow so anxious. A good looking guy visiting for the summer. She frowned, wondering if he were married or gay. That might not be good. Oh well, it should prove interesting enough, she decided, listening as Xander continued to gush the praises of Tommy. She couldn't wait to meet this guy.


Willow looked around the room, plumping the pillows on the couch. She finally sat down, groaning. She was crazy. That was the only word for it. Her mom had called telling her that Tommy would be arriving sometime Saturday. She had no idea if it would be morning or afternoon or evening and her mother didn't know either, so she was stuck all day until he decided to grace her with his presence. She sighed, knowing the real reason she was upset. Xander had been right. She had had a crush on Tommy. A very big crush that had escalated from being simple admiration to full fledged love to her eleven year old mind.

After Tommy had left for Newport, she had slid into a crush on Xander, transferring her feelings for the older boy to her best friend. She loved Xander, but knew in her heart that it hadn't really been him she wanted. She still remembered Tommy and his smile. As she had grown older, the tingly feelings had come while thinking of her 'cousin'. She had always been such a twit around him, now she going to have to be around him for weeks. When she was a kid, it had been easy enough. He had tolerated her only for his mother. Now, it was different. She was an adult. He was an adult. She felt her face flushing just imagining how silly she would appear now to him.

She stood, smoothing her shorts. She went to the mirror and fluffed her hair. She began to pace around the room, turning the television on then flipping channels. Groaning, she went to the bathroom and washed her face. This was ridiculous. It was just Tommy. She couldn't stand him. That stupid crush was forgotten. It had been almost eight years since she had seen him. She was a completely different person now as she was sure he was. She was nervous though which surprised her. She moved from the bathroom, answering the phone as it rang.


"Hey Wills. Is Tommy there yet?" Xander asked.

"I'm fine and how are you?" Willow said sarcastically. She had to smile though. Xander was really looking forward to seeing Tommy. "No, he isn't here yet. I promise to call you when he gets here."

"Cool beans" Xander said. "So, what are you doing?"

"Waiting for the jerk. Since I can't leave until he gets his ass here" Willow said, irritated that she was so nervous.

"Alrighty then" Xander said. "I'll let you go and vent some of that anger. Talk to you later, Willow."

"Bye Xan" Willow said, hanging up. She went to the kitchen, grabbing a soda and making a sandwich. She sat back on the sofa, settling down to watch television until he arrived. She had just gotten involved in an old Cary Grant movie when she heard the doorbell. She glanced at the clock and smiled, knowing it had to be Xander coming to cheer her up. She laughed as she headed to the door. "Damn, Xander that was fast."

She opened the door, the smile freezing as she stared in surprise at the man standing there. Her breath caught as a heat spread over her. She licked her lips as she stared at the dark haired god, for lack of a better word. He had definitely improved with age. She opened the door wider, smiling slightly, "Tommy?"

He blinked, his eyes running over her slender form with approval. "Brat?"

She couldn't tear her eyes away from him, but she blanched at his old nickname for her. "It's Willow."

He smiled, his white teeth shining brilliantly in the sunlight. He laughed, the husky sounding sending tremors through her stomach. "I know, but I like Brat more."

"Tommy" Willow started, not wanting to get off on the wrong foot so soon. He may be gorgeous but he was still arrogant.

"Damn, I haven't heard that name in years" he said, shaking his head.

"What name?" she asked, gesturing for him to come inside.

"Tommy. That was my middle name, you know. I always hated my first name when I was a kid and wouldn't answer to it so Mom called me Tommy" he smiled as he remembered. Suddenly, his expression changed. His smile faded. "Dad made me use my proper name in school. Tommy got lost somewhere."

"Oh" she said, not sure how to answer. He looked forelorn for a moment. She saw the way he was holding his arm and noticed that his hand was bandaged. "Do you need some help, Tommy? I mean...whatever you go by."

He looked at her, a soft smile crossing his face as he stared into her innocent green eyes. She had definitely grown up. His body had missed that, reacting almost instantly to her beauty. He saw the slight blush creep over her cheeks as he stared. How could anyone that lived in Sunnydale still be so fresh and innocent. "Just call me Lindsey."


"Lindsey? I can see why you prefered Tommy as a kid" Willow said, smiling softly. She remembered how badly Xander had hated his own name, but at least it was more masculine.

Lindsey smiled at the girl, trying to remind himself that she was just a kid. She was still the same pest that had shadowed his every move from the time he was twelve or so. But, looking at her, he couldn't remember that little redheaded rag a muffin. Instead, he saw a beautiful woman with the prettiest eyes he'd seen in a long time. He looked away, cursing himself. Willow was a kid. He had too much to think about already without dealing with some stupid fantasies about the girl next door. "Yeah, well, it wasn't very macho sounding."

Willow sat down, watching him sit his suitcase by the stairs. He saw down and she watched as he massaged his wrist. "Did you hurt your hand?"

Lindsey looked up, surprising that she had noticed his habit. What could he say? Well, see, it was cut off by this dogooder vampire because I'm an evil bastard that deserves to die and I just recently had it replaced by this demon after defending him. Yeah, like she'd believe that one. "Sprained it during raquetball."

"Oh" Willow said, frowning. It didn't look like a sprain, but she wouldn't push. It wasn't any of her business. "So, Lindsey, would you like to see your room?"

Lindsey saw the way she was looking at everything but him and smiled. He remembered her childhood crush on him. Hell, Jay had ribbed him enough during his summers there that he doubted he could forget. He sat back, watching her with a calculating look. "Actually, I didn't have time to eat on the way here. Do you have anything?"

Willow looked at him surprised. She had assumed he'd go straight upstairs and that would be all she'd see of him during his visit. She saw the comfortable way he was sitting in the chair and sighed. Great, he was going to stay downstairs. She'd have to pretend to not notice how gorgeous he was and try not to babble or blush. "The kitchen is full. What do you want?"

Lindsey paused, his eyes running over her face and drifting lazily over her body. He saw her breathing increase as her nipples hardened against the pale blue tank top. He continued his perusal before catching wide green eyes, "Loaded question there, Brat."

Willow gulped, wondering how it had gotten so warm in there suddenly. With just his eyes, he had affected her more than anyone else. It was going to be a very long summer, she decided, blinking at him. "To eat...what do you want to eat."

Lindsey smiled a wicked grin, his eyes darkening slightly. "Yet another interesting question. But, I'll save that answer for another day. Right now, a sandwich and a soda would be fine." He chuckled as she hurried from the room, a faint blush on her cheeks. This was going to be a fun summer, he decided, looking around the room as he waited for Willow to return. Very fun, if he had anything to say about it.


Willow leaned against the refridgerator, letting the cool air soothe her heated body. She couldn't believe she was so worked up by a few casual words and a few glances. She was overreacting. It was that simple. There was no way anyone that looked as good as he did would be interested in her. She was just the little brat that had followed him. If anything, he was trying to get her back for their childhood. She sighed, leaing in to pull out sandwich ingrediants. She shut the door and turned, gasping in surprise as she ran into a hard body. "God, you scared me!"

Lindsey tried to ignore the desire that ran through him as her small, warm body collided into his. He saw her green eyes flash with desire before she looked away, moving past him to set the Miracle Whip and meat on the table. "Sorry. It was taking you awhile. Thought you might need a hand."

Willow tried to ignore the mental images that assailed her mind at his words. His hands on her....she gulped, shaking her head as she reached for the bread. "No. I'm fine. Just got side tracked."

"Still think a lot don't you?" he said, amusement in his eyes. He sat on the table, his eyes watching her fix his food. He saw her pause and knew she was resisting a caustic comment. He waited and was a bit disappointed when she continued making the food. One of the things he had always liked about Willow was her feistyness. She may have had a crush on him during their childhood, but she would always stand up and speak her mind, often disagreeing with him. He had missed that after moving back with his father.

"Sometimes" she replied, remembering her mother's words. Also, Lindsey looked tired. She didn't want to fight with him. Not yet at least. "Oh, Xander said to tell you hi."

"Xander? He's still around?" Lindsey looked at her amazed. He couldn't believe they were still friends. In his world, loyalty was nonexistent. To think that two people were still friends all these years later amazed him.

"Of course" Willow said, looking at him and wondering at the envious look in his eyes. "He can't wait to see you again."

"Oh" Lindsey replied, not sure what to say. He remembered the lanky kid that had followed him around those summers. Always looking at him in awe and idolation. He often heard the boy telling Willow that when he got older, he wanted to be like Tommy. Lindsey frowned, looking at the floor as he became lost in memories. He wasn't proud of what he had become. He accepted it. After all, he had made his choices and couldn't really blame anyone but himself. He ran a hand through his dark hair and realized he was scared of seeing Xander again. He had not lived up to the boy's thoughts of him and in a way he felt as if he had lost something. Gawd, he though. Here a couple of hours and already acting silly. He looked at Willow and saw the curious look in her eyes. "It will be nice to catch up with him."

Willow smiled, not sure what Lindsey was going through but knowing that something was bothering the handsome man. She knew suddenly what had prompted his sudden visit to Sunnydale. He was trying to get away from think. She understood that. He was running away. "He'd like that. I'm sure he'll be calling soon."

Lindsey nodded as he slid from the table and took his food back into the living room. They both settled down to eat in silence, both lost in their thoughts.


"See you soon" Willow said, hanging the phone up. She heard footsteps on the stairs and looked up, trying to keep her breath from leaving her. Her eyes ran over tan legs up past black shorts and a white shirt that covered a very well defined chest to rest on amused eyes. She turned red as she faltered at having got caught staring. "Morning, Lindsey."

"Morning Brat" Lindsey said, his mood lightening as he took her in. She was wearing yellow shorts and a shirt that was in several vibrant colors. He smiled, "You look nice and summery today."

Willow glanced down,"Oh. Well, it is summer and all....."

"You look beautiful" he said softly, moving past her to the kitchen. He had just arrived in Sunnydale the previous day, and already he was feeling better. There was just something about Willow that calmed him down. She was like a ray of sun, he thought smiling. "Coffee....smells good."

Willow had followed him into the kitchen after coming out of her daze at his words. Had he really said she was beautiful? He was just being nice. That was all. "I just made it so it's fresh."

"So, who were talking to?" he inquired, sipping the strong caffeine.

"Xander. He and the gang are coming by to pick me up" she said, adding, "and I think they want to check you out too."

"The gang huh?" Lindsey said, taking another long drink. He and Willow had spoken some the previous day, but mostly about general things. He had learned what Xander had been up to and that was about it. He wondered who this gang was. "Is Jesse still around?"

Willow looked away, busying herself wiping the counters. "No."

Lindsey raised an eyebrow at her curt response. "Did he go away for school?"

Willow faced him, her eyes pained, "He died our sophomore year of high school."

"Sorry" he said, wishing he could kick himself. For a few hours he had forgotten that this was Sunnydale. Of course she had had friends that had died.

She shrugged, "It's been awhile but I still miss him. It's ok."

Lindsey poured himself another cup of coffee as he followed her into the living room. "So, where are you and your friends going?"

Willow smiled, "The park. Riley and Xander are going to play basketball and we girls are going to lounge around in the sun. Anya is making a picnic, which scares me in a way but hopefully even she can't mess up sandwiches."

"She's a bad cook?" he asked, interested in her life and her friends.

"Gawd yes. You'd never guess she was so old" Willow stopped, her eyes wide as she realized that she had been about to tell about Anya's past. To Lindsey. She covered it, "and had never learned to cook before."

"How old is she?" he asked, wondering if Xander had gotten himself an older woman.

"Nineteen or so" Willow said, being deliberately vague. Yeah, like over a thousand and nineteen she ammended in her head.

"Geez, I'm going to feel old around them aren't I?" he said, smiling.

"You're not the oldest in my group of friends. Trust me" she said, thinking of Angel, Spike and Anya. Heck, even Giles was on up there. "Riley is twenty one. That's only a few years younger than you."

Lindsey snorted, "Babies....all still babies."

"Age doesn't matter" she said, her face growing serious. "You can be nineteen and still have seen more than people seven times your age could ever comprehend......"

He studied her a moment, seeing secrets and trouble in those beautiful eyes. He was about to respond when the doorbell rang. She shook herself, beaming a smile at him as she got up to let her friends in. He sighed, wondering what was happening to him.


"Hey guys" Willow said, smiling as she let them in.

"Tommy! My man, looking good" Xander said, grinning at his old childhood idol.

"Xander? Damn, you grew" Lindsey said, not correcting the teen's use of his middle name.

"Wow. This is Tommy?" Anya said, looking the handsome man up and down. "I'm Anya, Xander's fiance."

"Nice to meet you" Lindsey said, feeling a bit uncomfortable from her blatant appraisal. This girl was not shy, to say the least.

"This is Riley" Willow said, motioning to the older boy. "Meet Lindsey."

"Hey" Riley said, smiling. He turned to Willow and saw her glance at the door, "She's coming. Had to run to the store."

"Ok" Willow said, smiling at him.

"Nice to meet you all" Lindsey said, nodding at them. They seemed like good kids. He was glad that Willow had such a strong support system. He saw Xander look at him curiously. "What?"

Xander grinned, having seen the way Tommy had looked at Willow before glancing away. Someone was attracted, he thought. "What did Willow call you?"

"Lindsey. My first name" Lindsey said, "I use it now instead of my middle name."

"Oh" Xander said, frowning. "It may take me awhile to remember to not call you Tommy."

"That's ok" Lindsey said, smiling. "I'll answer to either one."

"So, what brings you back to Sunnyhell?" Anya asked. She couldn't believe this attractive older man would return here without some reason. She saw the slight change in his eyes and narrowed her eyes. He was hiding something. She'd been around enough men that were keeping secrets to recognize the signs. And he was staying with their Wills. She resolved to talk to Buffy about him. She liked Willow and had no intention of seeing the girl hurt by Mr Suave Older Man with Secrets.

"I needed a rest" Lindsey said, shifting under the younger woman's penetrating eyes. He felt as if she were looking into his soul, and judging by the tightening of her lips, she didn't like what she saw. "And I needed some time to think."

"That's cool" Riley said, glancing at the door and wondering what was taking Buffy so long.

"So, Lin, you coming with us?" Xander asked, plopping down and putting his feet on the table.

"I haven't been asked" Lindsey said, smiling as Willow turned red.

"Uh...I figured you'd have plans" Willow said defensively.

"You can come with us" Anya said, not giving him a chance to refuse. She didn't trust this guy and she wanted a chance to study him and decide if he were good enough to be friends with Willow.

"Thanks" Lindsey said, wondering how someone only nineteen could make him feel like a child.

"Hey guys, the party can start." Buffy said walking inside the room. "I'm here!"

"About damn time" Willow said, smiling at her best friend. "Lindsey meet my best friend, Buffy. Buffy, this is Lindsey."

"Hey there" Buffy said, looking him over appreciatively.

Lindsey froze, hearing the name. "Buffy? Uh, hi." The slayer? The slayer was Willow's best friend? What the hell had he gotten himself into? *****

Buffy smiled as she took in the handsome man that Willow had introduced her to. She looked at Willow and winked, giving her approval. "It's nice to meet you. I must say, we've heard nothing but Tommy this last week. Xander is a huge fan."

Lindsey watched as the slayer put her arm around Willow's shoulders, the redhead smiling a soft smile that he hadn't seen before. He felt a rush of jealousy at the small action, envious of the closeness between them. He couldn't believe he was jealous of the slayer. What was wrong with him? "Oh, Xander's the only fan?"

Willow shifted under his penetrating gaze, her cheeks flushing slightly. She glared at Buffy, "Why don't we leave now?"

Buffy laughed, enjoying the flustered way that Willow was acting. Lindsey managed to do something with a glance that Buffy had never seen any other man do. He was a handsome man, but there was something that was bugging her. She felt the small prickles of awareness on her arms that she usually only got on patrol. Her eyes narrowed slightly before she shook it off. Maybe she was just overreacting. She smiled, trying to lessen her doubts, "Wills spoke about you too, but her viewpoint seemed to be a skewed. And she didn't mention how good looking you are."

Lindsey laughed at the girl's frankness. What was it about Willow's friends? They definitely believed in speaking their minds. He was still trying to deal with the idea that the slayer was the brat's best friend. No wonder she seemed so mature despite her youth. He wondered if she even knew what Buffy was...if any of them did. He smiled at Buffy, "I guess I will take that as a compliment."

Buffy nodded, her head rolling on Willow's shoulder as she took her best friend's hand. "Please do. C'mon Will. Let's go enjoy the sun and surf."

"Surf? I can't surf" Xander said, standing smoothly.

"She means the ocean" Anya said, rolling her eyes.

"You can't surf?" Riley asked, looking at the teen in surprise. "Hey, I'll teach you."

"Oh gawd, I feel like we're trapped in a Gidget episode." Willow said, laughing as Xander eagerly accepted Riley's offer.

"Oh, Moondoggie" Buffy said, walking towards Riley, "Did you forget that you don't even have a board?"

Riley frowned before shrugging, "We'll think of something, Gidg."

Lindsey just watched them all, a small smile on his face. He hadn't been around anyone that he had felt so comfortable with in years. Their loyalty and love for each other still amazed him. He had rarely seen something so evident, being used to watching his back and not trusting anyone. He felt a bit of the tension leave him as he followed them to the cars at the curb. He saw Willow get into the car with Buffy and sighed, knowing he was going to be riding with the slayer. He slid into the back seat, closing his eyes as his head fell back. This was what relaxing was. He smiled as he felt Willow get into the back seat, the smell of her shampoo arousing him more than expensive perfume could. This was going to be a good summer, he decided.


Willow laughed as she watched Xander struggling to stay on the surf board that Riley had borrowed. Again, he fell off. She shook her head, looking at an amused Anya. "Good thing he's such a nice guy. His balance is non existent."

"Riley should just give it up" Anya agreed. "He's never going to catch on."

"Give him a chance" Lindsey defended. He frowned as Xander again fell into the ocean. "Or maybe not."

Buffy laughed, "Hey, he might catch on yet. Wills, you want to go get some food?"

"We brought some with us" Willow said, laughing.

"I want something hot" Buffy whined, having seen the small food stand on the hill. "Please, Will? A nice juicy hamburger or a ham sandwich? Think about it." "I can see your point" Anya said, deciding a hamburger would be much better than a sandwich.

"Fine" Willow said, standing. "Anyone want anything?"

"I'll go to help carry everything" Lindsey volunteered.

Buffy smiled, "I think we can handle a few sacks."

Willow took Buffy's arm as they walked through the sand and headed to the stairs. She could feel eyes watching her and knew it was Lindsey. He had spent the majority of the afternoon with his eyes on her. She would often look up and catch them, never understanding the conflicting emotions she saw there. She heard Buffy chuckle and glanced at her friend. Seeing the knowing little smile, she rolled her eyes, "What is it?"

"You and Lindsey. He's spent most of today watching you and flirting with you. Ah, my little girl is growing up" she said, sniffling as she wiped her eyes.

"Whatever. He's gorgeous and older and wealthy. He wouldn't want some silly kid like me." Willow said, glancing down at the two people still laying on the blankets.

"He's interested. Trust me." Buffy said. She thought about it a minute before adding, "You're the realest person I know. Maybe that's what he likes. He did say that he was getting away from everything."

"You're impossible" Willow said, smiling.

"Just, be careful, ok? There is something that just bugs me. I don't understand it but it's there." Buffy said.

Willow looked at Buffy and frowned, "You get that vibe too? He's hiding something, isn't he? I don't know....I don't think he's dangerous but he'd lying about something. You got the prickles?"

Buffy sighed, after she placed the order, "Yeah, the prickles. He's not a demon or anything. At least, he doesn't act like one. He seems to care about you and even Xander. Just, take it slow, ok?"

"Yes Mom" Willow said, chewing her lip as she looked at the ocean. She was glad that someone else had noticed that same secretiveness about him. But, like Buffy said, she didn't think he was evil. Maybe he had just seen a lot like they had. She wouldn't worry about it yet, but she would be careful.


"What?" Lindsey asked, looking at Anya. The girl had been staring at him like he was a bug under a microscope since the girls had gone to get food.

"What do you do?" Anya asked, watching his face change. She sat up straighter, her eyes narrowing slightly at his attitude change.

"I'm a lawyer" he said shortly. Or was, he added mentally. He looked at the water, watching as Xander managed to stand on the board. He still wasn't sure what he was going to do. He had been give two months to think about his future, having been told that if he came back, his priorities had better be focused. He loved his job in many ways, but lately it had been wearing on him. He was beginning to hate his life.

"Oh" Anya said, making a face. "Yuck. Are you a good lawyer or a bad one?"

Lindsey glanced at the girl, "I rarely ever lose."

Anya shook her head, "No. I mean, are you good or bad?"

"Depends on who you ask" Lindsey said, frowning slightly at the look in the girl's eyes. Again he was struck by how mature she seemed to be only nineteen. She was definitely wise beyond her years. "My clients think I'm good. The people I'm against call me the worst names you can imagine."

"What do you think?" she asked, balancing her chin on her knees as she continued to read his face and eyes.

"I don't know anymore" he said honestly, running a hand through his hair. He saw the acceptance in her eyes as she nodded, turning her attention to Xander and Riley.

"If you hurt Willow, I'll kill you" she said simply, a small smile crossing her face as she saw Xander actually stay on the board through a small wave. "Yay Xan!!"

Lindsey glanced at her shocked, wondering if he had really heard what he thought he had. She had threatened him without batting an eye and then was cheering on Xander. His respect for the girl moving up. "I don't plan on hurting her" he said softly, his eyes finding the redhead as she and Buffy walked back across the sand towards them. Buffy waved the boys in from the ocean, smiling as she sat down with the hot food. He settled back to eat, smiling slightly at Anya's glance between him and Willow.


"Hand me the marshmallows" Buffy demanded, almost growling at Riley.

"Here" Riley tossed the bag to her, smiling as she opened them and put one on the end of a long stick. "Does anyone else get any?"

"Nope" Buffy said, smirking, "All mine."

"The slayer has spoken" Xander said, laughing around the Twinkie he was chewing.

Willow rolled her eyes as she laid down on the blanket, looking at the stars. "Buffy, that is your second bag of marshmallows. Don't you think that's enough?"

"You want one Will?" Buffy asked, ignoring the girl's question. She pulled the stick out of the fire, moving the drippingly sticky treat towards Willow.

"No thanks" Willow said, "Too sweet."

"Come dangerously. Sweet won't kill" Buffy said, leaning over and moving the stick so that the white gooeyness brushed Willow's mouth. "Open up, pet."

"Someone's spent too much time around Spike" Riley said, laughing. He had noticed after the blonde had left that the group had picked up several of his sayings, using them quiet often. It was almost as if they missed him and were trying to keep his spirit alive with them, though he knew Buffy would be burned over hot coals before admitting to missing the vampire, even slightly.

"Bloody hell, mate. You bleeding wanker. What the fuck are you saying?" Xander asked, giving a bad imitation of a British accent.

"That you need a life" Anya said sweetly, turning her attention to Willow. She saw the girl laughing as Buffy continued to feed her the marshmallow. She had gotten most of it in her mouth, but there was still some around her bottom lip that she was trying to lick off. Anya glanced up and saw Lindsey watching intently, his eyes concealing what he was thinking. But, if the slight flare of his nostrils was anything to go by, he was aroused. Anya's eyes narrowed, still not sure if he was a good guy or not. They had spent the entire day at the beach, building this campfire as it had gotten dark. She admitted that he seemed like a nice guy, but she had been around long enough to know looks could be deceiving. She was reserving her judgement a bit longer.

Buffy saw Anya watching Lindsey and almost smiled. The exdemon had become a rather trusted friend over the last year. If Anya was suspicious too, there was definitely something Lindsey was hiding. So far, he seemed to care about Willow and Xander. He had told stories of the old days, a fond gleam in his eyes as he had laughed. She could still remember the rather surprised look in his eyes as he had laughed at something this morning. It had made her think for some reason that he must not laugh a lot now. It was a shame. He was a handsome man, but he came alive when he laughed. She would have to talk to Anya later and see what the girl thought was up with him. Until then, she could only hope that he didn't hurt Willow. If he did, she'd kill him. No, she couldn't kill a human, she remembered in disgust. But, if he hurt Willow, well, he couldn't be a good human could he? Maybe she could slide by and get it allowed. If not, she'd call Spike. He loved Willow even if he wouldn't admit it and would torture anyone that dared hurt her. One of his few redeeming qualities in her book was his friendship with the redhead. "Isn't it good, Willow? See why they are addicting?"

Willow laughed, "Yes, they are rather tasty. But an entire bag? My teeth would fall out from the sweet taste."

Willow could still feel the sticky marshmallow on her face and rolled her eyes as she tried to lick at the spot she just knew it had to be. She gave up finally, looking back at the stars. She'd wipe it off soon, but hated having to get her fingers sticky. The sand would stick to it and be hard to get off.

"Want a marshmallow, Lindsey?" Xander asked, putting one on his own stick.

Lindsey was staring at Willow's face, thinking how beautiful and innocent she appeared in the fire light. He could just imagine her on nude body laying on the beach, the fire bathing her in gold. He watched her tongue again dart from her mouth to try to get that piece of marshmallow that was stuck on her chin. He felt himself harden at the completely innocent gesture, Xander's question bringing him from his daze. "Huh?"

Xander smirked as Lindsey looked up. He had been watching his old hero around Willow all day. Someone was smitten. Actually, two someones were smitten. Lindsey definitely didn't seem to be calling her a pest these days. Good. Xander had decided that the man seemed to be nice and would be perfect for Willow. She had been half in love with the guy most of her life it seemed anyway. Besides, their old friend wasn't a demon or a vampire. That right there was just about enough for Xander's approval. Of course, Xander knew well enough to know that there were humans that made demons look tame and innocent. Somehow though, he knew he could trust Lindsey with Willow. "Marshmallow. Want one?"

Lindsey glanced at Buffy who was kissing Riley and sharing her own marshmallows. Anya had leaned against Xander, playing with his hands as she snuggled closer. He looked back at Willow who was watching the stars and smiled. "Don't mind if I do."

Lindsey moved towards Willow, not understanding what it was about this innocent girl that was luring him in like a moth to a flame. In the fire light, with her hair spread out around her pretty face, she was definitely his flame. He wanted her, he knew, almost feeling guilty for the visions he was having about her. He had done many things he wasn't proud of....turned into something he had vowed never to be. She was too good for him....untouchable to someone like him. He almost stopped, his mind controlling his heart as it always did. But, he watched her pink tongue lick her bottom lip. He groaned softly, moving in and claiming her mouth. She gasped in surprise, soon moaning softly as her hands went behind his head and pulled him closer.

"We need to talk" Anya said quietly to Buffy, her eyes on the searing kiss that was being exchanged between Lindsey and Willow. She didn't want Willow hurt and knew the slayer didn't either. Things were moving too fast for the innocent redhead. Anya glanced at Buffy and saw the slayer nod, her own eyes on the kiss unfolding. Anya smiled, hoping for Willow's sake that Lindsey didn't plan on hurting her.


Willow hurried around the kitchen, cleaning everything she could find. She was still confused about the night before and cleaning was her way of dealing with it all. He had kissed her. Lindsey had really kissed her. And not just some peck on the cheek. That had been a toe curling, heated kiss. And not only that one. Willow remembered how that first kiss had drifted into another and another. They had finally had to release each other's mouths when Buffy had kicked sand on them, telling them it was time to come up for air and go home. They had driven back to her house, each going upstairs to shower. Nothing was mentioned about the kiss, good or bad. She guessed she should be glad he hadn't seemed to regret it. She was always in a way glad that they hadn't forced the issue, making it some big lengthy talk. That would have definitely ruined it all.

"Something smells good" Lindsey said softly, walking into the kitchen. He saw Willow turn around and felt his heart skip a beat. He couldn't believe this. His reaction to her was ridiculous. She was just a kid. An innocent, sweet little girl. A beautiful, caring, smart girl. A sexy, amazing, gorgeous woman. He groaned mentally as he poured himself some coffee. He was acting like a school boy. Something he hadn't even done when he had been a school boy.

"I made a cake" Willow said, making a face. She also baked when she was nervous or thinking about something. "And some cookies."

Lindsey smiled as she began to clean the counter again. She was nervous. Of course, after last night, no wonder. He had practically ravaged her under the stars on the beach. In front of her friends no less, he thought in disgust. He had completely lost control, something that he did not allow to happen. She was not a good influence on him. Not at all. He should pack his bags and go back to LA. He was going to end up hurting her, he knew. Not intentionally, but he would nonetheless. She was too innocent. He asked, "What kind of cookies?"

"Sugar and peanut butter" Willow said, glancing at him. His eyes were dark with conflicting emotions. She watched him drum his fingers on the table, a thoughtful smile on his face.

"I like sugar cookies" he said softly. He ran a hand through his hair, looking at her, "I think I should go back to LA."

"What?" Willow asked surprised.

"Brat...something's happening between us. I know you have to feel it. It practically scorches me...."

Willow sat down, nodding, "I feel it. But...why go back?"

He looked at her, his eyes serious, "I'm not what you need. I can't give you what you need...what you should have. I think it would be better if I just go back."

"Do you want to go back?" Willow asked, strangely touched by his concern.

"No, but I will" Lindsey said softly.

"Why? I'm a big girl, Lindsey. Don't run away on my account. I can handle more than you probably know" she said.

"If I stay" he began, "I can't promise I won't kiss you again."

She laughed softly, "That's a bad thing?"

He smiled slightly, "I can't promise I will stop with just a kiss. I don't want to hurt you Brat."

"You won't" Willow said, smiling. "Why don't we forget about all this angsty stuff? You're supposed to be here to rest and destress. It was just a kiss. If something else happens, well, we can deal with it later. If not, there's no reason to worry. I'm enjoying having someone here."

"Just a kiss?" Lindsey said, his tone less serious and more flirtatious.

Willow flushed slightly, "Just a really amazing kiss. But, remember, not dwelling on it. Let's just have fun and see what happens."

"Not plan?" Lindsey said quietly, wondering when the last time he had done something that hadn't been carefully planned and calculated had been. Probably helping that damn vampire, he thought. Hopefully this would turn out better than that. "I think I might can handle that."

Willow smiled, "Thank you for the warning, Lindsey. It means a lot that you care. But, I'm nineteen years old. You can't protect me from everything. I am glad you decided to stay though. I really would like to get know you. Lindsey not the memories of Tommy."

"You might not like what you find out" he said softly, his hand finding hers across her the table.

"Well, then, I'll deal with it and move on" she said, having plenty of experience with finding out bad things about people she loved or cared about. "So, no more thoughts of leaving?"

He looked into her eyes and felt as if she could possibly read his soul, "None at all."

"Good" she smiled. "So, you want to go to the zoo with us? Anya has never been and is dying for some reason to see the monkeys."

"She's never been to a zoo?" Lindsey asked, surprised despite himself.

"Nope. Not for a long, long time" Willow said, mentally adding about two hundred years according to the ex-demon. "So, you in?"

Lindsey smiled, "I'm in."


"I think he's hiding something" Anya said, getting straight to the point.

"Me too" Buffy said, adding, "So does Willow."

"Good. At least she isn't going into this blind" Anya said. "I don't want her hurt."

"Me either" Buffy agreed. "He seems to actually care about her."

"Yes, but he can still hurt her. Maybe more because he does care."

"What do you think we should do?" the slayer asked, curious.

Anya sighed, "Nothing for now. Watch him I guess. See if he seems sincere. I personally don't care what he's hiding as long as it doesn't affect Willow or us."

"Maybe it's nothing. I mean, he's pretty young to have some huge dark secret."

"And how old are you?" Anya pointed out smiling.

"Point taken" Buffy said, "Fine. We'll watch him. If he steps out of line, we can always kill him."

"Definitely" Anya said, smiling a sinister smile, "If he hurts Red, I can torture him until he regrets even having been born."

"And on that happy note" Buffy said, laughing, "We should find the guys. We have to pick Will up for the zoo. Something tells me after that kiss last night, she may have company."

"Man, that kiss" Anya said, fanning herself. "Holy moly. I'm glad there was plenty of water around. I was beginning to think we might need to use some."

"You're horrible" Buffy said, shaking her head. "But I agree."

"Come on, slayer. Let's round up the boys. Glad we had this little discussion."

"Me too" Buffy said, glad that someone else was watching out for Willow too. "Let's find the guys and go smell all the dirty animals. How you could want to go to a zoo is beyond me."

"It'll be fun. Besides, I've never gone to one that has cages and stuff" Anya said, remembering the only time she'd been to anything resembling a zoo. A bunch of dirty animals tied up that people charged money to see. She had been cursing the man that ran the place, having to fulfill the wish that his own animals eat him up. Not a pleasurable memory to have of a zoo. "I wonder if they have tigers...."

"Just keep Xander away from the hyena exhibits....." Buffy said, laughing.


"So this is the Bronze" Lindsey said, looking around the club. He smiled slightly, "Real happening place."

"So says Mr LA" Xander said, laughing.

Lindsey smiled at the teen, "Hey, this isn't that bad. From the way you all have talked about it the past two weeks, I'd imagined something far worse."

Willow sipped her drink, not believing that Lindsey had already been in Sunnydale for a little over two weeks. After their talk, things between them had become a bit less stressful. They had drifted into a comfortable relationship, almost dating in a way. They spent every day together and most evenings. He insisted on walking upstairs each night and leaving her at the door to her room, often kissing her breathless before going down the hall to his own room. It had become rather frustrating to go into her room alone, her need and desire for him consuming her. She had actually been having to bring herself some release, groaning softly as she imagined that it was his fingers plunging into her. Shaking her mind from those particular thoughts, she said, "It really isn't that bad. I mean, they sometimes have some good bands."

"Willow always look on the bright side" Buffy said, smiling fondly at her friend. She was happy to say that in over two weeks Lindsey had done nothing that she would consider threatening. If anything, he had slid rather easily into the group. She knew that he, Riley and Xander had begun meeting at the courts to play basketball nearly every evening. Usually when she and Willow went on patrol. Even Anya had finally become a little less suspicious of him. Over all, Willow was happier than Buffy had seen her in a long time. Happier but more frustrated. The slayer smiled as she remembered the conversation the previous night about how horrible men were that teased you and then left you to your own devices. She had offered to chain Lindsey up and let Willow have her wicked way, thus causing the redhead to blush and change the subject. Buffy actually had to give him credit for not rushing into a sexual relationship. That was just another example of how much he seemed to truly care about Willow.

"Let's dance" Anya said, taking Xander's hand. She had decided Lindsey wasn't a threat to Willow. Not in the way she had originally thought at least. She still knew that he held Willow's heart in his hands. She also knew that there were more and more signs to the redhead holding his own. That was good. Willow was happy so she was happy.

"If you guys don't mind, I think I want to head home." Willow said, yawning. She and Lindsey had stayed up over half the night watching an Alfred Hitchcock festival that had been on TV. She had gotten less than two hours sleep and wouldn't mind calling this an early night.

"I can walk you" Buffy said, standing.

Lindsey looked at the blonde slayer, smiling, "I can walk her. I'm a bit tired too. Didn't think Strangers on the Train was ever going to end this morning."

"But it is such a fantastic movie" Willow said, smiling. She had been the one that had wanted to stay up until five am to see the end.

"Yeah, it was" he agreed. He smiled at the others, "See you guys tomorrow."

Buffy watched them leave, looking at Riley, "What do you think?"

"About?" he asked, looking at her in surprise.

"Lindsey and Willow."

Riley shrugged, "They seem happy. Sweet in a way, the way they're always sneaking looks at each other. His eyes seem less troubled. She's good for him. Why?"

"Just wondering" Buffy said, smiling. "Let's dance."


"I just can't get into it" Willow said, laughing. "I mean, I know that people consider Psycho to be this fantastic movie. Good for them. Personally, I enjoyed Shadow of a Doubt and Suspicion much more. And Rear Window? That movie kicked ass."

"Psycho was classic" Lindsey said, shaking his head, "but to each his own. I personally couldn't stand Vertigo. Just didn't like it."

"I wasn't crazy about that one either" Willow agreed as they walked back to her house. Since they had left before Buffy and the others, they had decided to just walk instead of trying to get a cab. It was nice, just walking and talking with him. Her hand was in his, his finger drawing shapes on her palm. She had never considered her hand an errogenous zone before, but she was finding out that just about anywhere he touched lately was.

"Did you hear that?" Lindsey asked, glancing behind them.

Willow stopped and looked around, her hand going to the stake she had in her purse. Great, just great. How was she supposed to explain this one to him? "No...why don't we try to get home."

Lindsey nodded, frowning. He had heard something. He continued to walk, noticing that Willow was more alert than she had been. Her hand had been pulled free from his, her other hand in her purse. Her eyes were darting around them as they walked in silence. Something was happening. He felt something grab him and said, "Willow. Run. Vampire."

Willow heard Lindsey exclaim and turned around. She watched as he began to fight the vampire, wondering what was happening. He hadn't seemed surprised to be facing a vampire. She dropped her purse, holding the stake. She moved behind the fighting men, staking the vampire easily. She dusted herself off, looking at Lindsey, "He was new. Easy kill. But I think there's another one."

"What the hell?" Lindsey said, moving as he saw another lunge from the bushes. He watched in amazement as Willow fought the vampire, her kicks hitting target. He had defended several vampires in his career but rarely fought one. The last time had not ended so well, he remembered glancing at his hand. He saw her look at a tree and watched shocked as the branch broke off and entered the vampire from behind. She stood up, pushing her red hair from her face.

"Two tonight. I'll have to call Buffy when I get home" Willow said, reaching for her purse. She looked up at Lindsey and saw a smile cross his lips. Respect shone in his eyes as she asked, "Um...Lindsey...I think we should head home...."

Lindsey saw the nervous way she glanced at the dust and then at him. It seemed it was time for a confession of sorts. But, would he lose her if he told her everything about his life? Knowing now without a doubt that she fought the demons with the slayer, he knew he most likely would. His heart squeezed painfully in his chest at the thought of losing her. wasn't the time for her to know everything. He'd tell her just enough to prevent more questions. But as she said, when they got home. So, he smiled softly at her and said, " got some splainin' to do....."


Willow almost smiled when she heard Lindsey's words. He was taking this rather easily, she realized. He had almost been killed by a vampire yet he was making jokes. Her eyes narrowed slightly as they walked towards her house. He was taking it way too easily. She glanced at him, her eyes suspicious. She walked into her house, locking the door as he walked past her into the living room. She moved to sit down, aware of his eyes looking at her as he waited for an explanation. "So..."

Lindsey smiled slightly, watching as she struggled to decide what to tell him. She had no idea that he already knew all about Buffy and had figured out her own part of the slayer's life. "What exactly happened?"

"It was vampires" she said, looking at him and waiting. She had heard him call out the warning to her so she knew he was aware of vampires. She wanted to know what he had to say.

"Vampires?" Lindsey repeated, trying to decide what to tell her. He couldn't tell her about his past. Not yet. Not until he had made some decisions about his future. "I knew that."

"I thought you did" she said softly, her eyes watching him in curiosity. "Talk."

"Hey, wait a minute" he said, smiling at her. "I'm not the one that made it go poof with a tree branch."

"I asked you first" she said, her lips twitching slightly.

"Women" he muttered, running a hand through his dark hair. "Fine. In LA, I've run across some vampires before. I've never fought one, but I have been in places where they have been before."

"You hang out in places that vampires do?" Willow said, slightly surprised. By her impression of Lindsey's life in LA, he wasn't the type to frequent local vamp hang outs.

"No" he said, "But I have been in a place once or twice with them."

"And how did you know?" she asked, still suspicious. Something wasn't making sense. "I mean, they don't usually wear big signs that say, Hey, vampire here. Sometimes they are darn hard to spot."

"I just knew" he said, groaning. Seeing that she wasn't going to drop it, he sighed, "Fine. I was with a demon that pointed them out to me. It was a local club and I was a bit surprised at how many were there. Ok?"

She frowned, still not believing he was telling the entire truth. Whenever he spoke of vampires, there was a slight twitch in his cheek. "Why were you with a demon?"

"He was a client" Lindsey said, speaking the truth.

"You have demons for clients?" Willow asked, not sure if she liked that.

"He was a good demon" Lindsey said, hoping she would drop it. He was actually speaking the truth. The firm had a variety of clients, some good some bad. This one had been harmless. Lindsey had been handling some tax work for him at the time they had gone to the club. What he had failed to mention was that he had met vampires for several years before this particular incident. At least he wasn't lying to her, he realized.

"A good demon" Willow said softly. She looked into his eyes, seeing the truth there. He was not telling her everything though. She knew that as surely as she knew her name. "Ok. That makes a bit of sense."

"Now, talk missy" Lindsey said, sitting back and waiting.

"About what?" Willow asked, deciding to let her doubts go for now. He looked so adorable sitting there getting irritated.

"Vampires and flying branches?" he said, snorting at her look of innocence.

"Vampires? Well, Sunnydale is a hellmouth. That means, it calls out to all things evil and undead. I found out about it when Jesse was killed by a vampire."

"Good God" Lindsey said softly, having no idea that Jesse had died by a vampire.

"And when I was almost killed by one" Willow added softly. "Xander had to kill Jesse and after that, well, we found out all about the dangers of the night."

"You were almost killed?" Lindsey said, not understanding why his heart tightened so badly at the thought of her dying.

"Several times over the past few years" Willow said softly. "Anyway, my Junior year I got interested in magic. I am not very good yet, but I can fly a mean pencil."

"Or tree branch" Lindsey said, smiling softly. There was so much he didn't know about her. He couldn't believe Xander had had to kill Jesse. He had never imagined that their lives had been so traumatic. His respect and admiration for them all went up another notch.

"Or tree branch" she repeated, laughing softly. She had not mentioned Buffy to him and really hoped he wouldn't ask. That was the slayer's business. It was not her secret to tell. She stood, sighing. "I'd better get some sleep. I'm pretty tired."

Lindsey stood too, not asking about Buffy. He knew Wilow had already told him enough for the time being. He wouldn't push about the slayer. He moved closer to her, seeing her look at him in surprise. His hand caught her face as he smiled, "Thank you."

"For what?" she asked, trying to ignore the heat that spread through her from his touch.

"Saving my life" he said softly, leaning over and capturing her mouth in a gentle kiss that soon escalated as their passion grew.


Buffy looked at Willow in surprise. "He didn't freak when you fought vampires?"

"Nope" Willow said, looking at Buffy and Anya and sighing. "He said he knew about vampires because of a demon he defended."

"You don't believe him?" Anya asked, apprehension spreading over her.

"No. I mean, I believe his story about the club, but I don't believe for an instant that's when he first learned about them" Willow said, speaking the truth.

"What are you going to do?" Buffy asked.

"What can I do?" Willow asked. "I'm falling in love with him, guys. He's hiding something and I don't know if it is something I need to know or just a part of his past he's trying to forget. I mean, I don't want to lose what chance I might have because I'm paranoid."

"I don't think he will hurt you" Anya said, having spent many an hour watching Lindsey around her friend. "He cares for you."

"But will his secrets end up hurting her?" Buffy asked, remembering her time with Angel and the secret he had kept. The consequences for that were still felt each time she remembered Kendra or Jenny. She wouldn't have Willow go through that personal hell. "Do you trust him?"

"Yes" Willow said honestly. She knew Lindsey would never do anything to hurt her. The problem was as Buffy said. What if she ended up hurt and he didn't intend it to happen?

"Then, don't worry." Buffy said. "You'd better run along before he comes searching for you. I swear he's an overprotective one."

"Give him our best" Anya said, watching the redhead gather her stuff and leave, promising to find them tomorrow. She looked at Buffy and repeated, "Don't worry?"

Buffy shrugged, "She won't have to. I plan on worrying for her."

"It does seem a bit suspicious" Anya said. "Knowing about vampires and then not freaking out when he finds out she is practising witch craft......worries me a bit."

"Worries me a lot. I don't want to think he would hurt her, but I have to know. I can't lose her" Buffy said, sighing. She stood and moved towards the phone.

"Calling Riley?" Anya asked, frowning. "I doubt he'd know anything."

"Not Riley" Buffy said, taking a deep breath as she dialed. "Hello? Angel? This is Buffy. I need your help."


"You're joking?" Lindsey asked, sitting down. "I'm fired?"

"Yes" Lilah said. "They're scared spitless, Lin. Mirken has sworn to find you and kill you. They don't want any connection to you anymore. They've already boxed up your office and sent it all to storage."

"I'm sure you're loving this" Lindsey said, his tone slightly bitter. He had simply called the firm to check on some of the cases he had left in the hands of his associates. Now he found out that not only was the brother of a former client after his life, he had been fired because the firm feared repercussions in their direction. They had hung him out to dry.

"Actually, I do believe it is for the best you are no longer a part of the firm" Lilah said, "But I am not happy that Mirken is trying to find you to kill. It isn't your fault his stupid brother died. You just deliberately sabotaged his case to get him put into prison, after all. Seriously, Lin. Watch your back. He is not someone that will fade away into the background and forget. He will find you and kill you."

"Great" Lindsey said, sighing, "No one knows where I am at least. I made sure of that."

"Keep it that way" she said seriously. She disliked Lindsey, but didn't want to see him demon chow.

"Thanks for the warning Lilah" he said softly. "Forgive me if I say that I hope I don't see you again."

She laughed, "I return that sentiment. Take care of yourself Lindsey."

"Will do." He hung up and ran a hand over his face. He had been leaning more towards leaving the firm, especially after his grown feelings for Willow had begun. But he had been fired. There was a big difference between quitting and being fired. He sighed, closing his eyes and trying to forget what was happening in LA. Willow would be home soon. He smiled thinking of his redhead. At least there was one bright point to his life. Willow.


Willow walked into her living room, shutting and locking the door behind her. Her hands were playing with the hem of her cotton shirt nervously as she looked at Lindsey. She sat down opposite him, noticing that he seemed very distracted. She frowned, her plans to discuss vampires and such leaving her mind. "Are you ok?"

Lindsey glanced up, a smile crossing his face. "I am now."

Willow blushed under the intensity of his gaze as she shifted in her chair. "Something is bothering you. I can tell."

"Nothing major" he answered, feeling better now that she was with him.

"Lindsey" she spoked softly, looking deep into his eyes, "I've been told that I'm a great listener. Why don't you try me?"

He kept his eyes on hers, speaking as softly as she had, "You'll hate me. I can't tell you Will. If I do, you'll never look at me with those pretty eyes with anything but hatred."

Willow gulped, not sure what he was wanting so desperately to tell her, but knowing enough to realize he did want to tell it. She was going to have to push him. Did she even really want to know? She sighed, "I could never hate you, Lindsey. No one is perfect. Look at my friends? They've all done terrible things at one time or another but I still love them. What are you thinking about?"

"I got fired today" he said simply.

"Oh my God" Willow whispered, her eyes wide. "I'm so sorry."

"Actually" he grinned a crooked little smile, "I'm not. I haven't really been happy there for awhile. It just surprised me is all."

"Why?" she asked.

"Why does it surprise me or why was I fired?" he asked, knowing he was going to tell her everything. He had done some thinking over the two hours he had sat after talking to Lilah. He wanted a future with Willow. He had fallen in love with her over the past few weeks, if he hadn't really been in love with her their entire childhoods. He was going to have to risk losing her or he'd never have a chance with her.

"Either...both" she asked, knowing that whatever he told her about his life couldn't possibly be as bad as what Angel or Spike had done. She loved them both, so she knew she would continue to love Lindsey. She just really wanted to know the truth.

"You know that I'm a lawyer" Lindsey said, trying to decide the easiest way of telling her the truth. "What you don't know is that my firm tends to represent demons and vampires. The powerful and wealthy. We would do anything to protect our clients. Almost a year ago, this vampire moved to LA. A real do-gooder that went after a client. For the past ten months or so he has been a thorn in the firm's side. I actually respect him. He is doing what I intended to do in the beginning. Before the power and money seduced me. He's helping people."

Willow waited, not believing what she heard, but also understanding. She suddenly sat up, realizing who he was talking about. "Angel? You know Angel?"

"What?" Lindsey asked, hearing the recognition in her voice. "You know him?"

Willow smiled softly, "He's one of my best friends. He used to date Buffy before he moved. They never would have made it, but he still holds a place in all of our hearts. I think he may have mentioned this firm to me before. Wolfram and something right?"

"That's us" he said, amazed that she knew Angel. He shook his head slightly, "Anyway, a few months ago there was a case we were dealing with. I didn't agree with it so I went to him for help. It felt good, you know? Being the good guy for once. There's something about him that makes you want to help out. Well, the firm wasn't very happy. Over time, I began to realize I was going to have to get my priorities straight. There was a fight. He cut my hand off, actually." He flexed his hand, "This is the product of a satisfied customer, so to speak."

"You chose the firm?" she said, almost sadly. She could see by his eyes the struggle he must have gone through. To give up everything familiar to help people or to stay in what was comfortable. It would be a tougher choice than most realized, she knew.

"Yeah" he said, sighing. He ran a hand through his hair, "But, it wasn't two weeks later that I was given a case that made me regret my decision. A client was being accused of killing kids. Not only killing them, but torturing and molesting them before he drained them. I was supposed to get this guy released knowing that he was guilty."

"Sounds like a great job" she said dryly.

He looked into her eyes, seeing understanding and sadness but not anger. He straightened up. "I set him up on the stand. I got him to incriminate himself so badly that it was open shut. He was found guilty and sentenced to die. I found out today that he didn't survive a week in prison. Underneath the cruelty, he was weak. I made the decision to see justice done and ended up getting him killed." He laughed softly, "You know, I don't regret it at all."

"Is that why you were fired?" she asked.

"In a way. It seems his brother, Merkin, blames me. He is a rather nasty demon bent on revenge. The firm wants no connection to me in case he decided to go after them along with me. He's searching for me. That's what Lilah was telling me....sort of giving me a warning."

"Goddess" she whispered, moving to sit beside him. She saw him look at her in surprise and took his hand. She squeezed it, smiling softly, "I told you Lindsey, I just wanted the truth. If anything, I love you more after hearing all that. Angel of course probably won't be too happy that you're involved with us. Sounds like you really pissed him off. He doesn't usually hurt humans...unless they deserve it."

"I deserved it" Lindsey said matter of factly. He smiled slightly, "You amaze me. Do you know that? I just told you things that would send anyone else running for the hills. Not you. You tell me that it makes you love me more." He suddenly froze, his eyes flying to hers, "Love?"

Willow nodded, smiling sheepishly, "As if it wasn't obvious. I love you Lindsey."

He brushed his fingers across her cheek, amazement on his face, "You know that a demon is looking for me? He plans to kill me. I can't stay'd be in danger if I did. But, damn...I don't think I can leave you. Not again. I love you Brat."

She smiled as he leaned over, his lips brushing hers softly. She moved her hand behind his head, tangling her fingers in his thick hair as she moved against him. The kiss deepened as he pulled her into him, his arms tightening around her. He didn't plan on letting her go.


"Buffy?" Angel asked, glancing at Spike who was listening with a slight frown. "What's this about?"

"Willow" Buffy said, sitting beside Anya. "Wait, let me put you on speaker phone. Someone else will want to hear this."

"Willow?" Angel said, glaring at Spike as his childe and lover took the phone from him.

"Willow? What the hell is wrong with my Red?" Spike demanded, already visioning the slayer's death if she let anything hurt Willow. He scowled at Angel as his sire took the phone back.

"Sorry, Buffy" Angel said, listening as his ex-love laughed softly.

"That's all right. His devotion to Willow is one of his only redeeming qualities" she said, still finding it a bit hard to stomach the idea of her ex-lover with one of her enemies, though Spike really hadn't been that bad since he had been implanted. He was completely loyal to Willow, their friendship being one of the pleasant outcomes from the implant.

Angel smiled slightly before turning serious, "What's wrong with Willow?"

"A few weeks ago this old family friend came into town. He's a good guy, but Anya and I were a bit suspicious. Willow even thought he was hiding something. Well, we just found out he knows all about vampires and demons and stuff. Just has a bit concerned."

"Sounds suspect" Angel agreed. He looked at Spike who was practically bouncing in his seat, "Some guy that is keeping secrets that is an old friend of Willow's."

"So, we were hoping you could do a check for us. He's from LA" Buffy said.

"He's gorgeous and rich, but he is hiding something" Anya said, making sure Angel knew that. "I know he is. But, I don't think he would hurt Willow. We just want to make sure nothing else could hurt her."

"I understand" Angel said. "What his name? What do you know about him?"

"He's a lawyer. Lindsey know, I never did hear his last name" Buffy said, looking at Anya and frowning.

Angel stiffened, "Lindsey? And he's a lawyer?"

"What is it?" Buffy demanded, hearing the tone of his voice.

"That double crossing bastard?" Spike asked, having heard all about the creep from not only Angel but Cordelia and Wesley as well. "If he hurts Willow, I'll rip his spine out...."

"I know him. He helped us on a case or two a few months ago. Then, he double crossed us for his firm" Angel said, thinking about it. "You say that you don't think HE would hurt Willow?"

"He's in love with her" Buffy said softly, worry evident in her voice.

"Fuck" Angel said, cursing under his breath. "If he loves her, he won't hurt her. I honestly trust him despite everything. He did want to help. I could see that in his eyes. He just reacted....rather like a scared child at the time. The firm acting as his parents. He wouldn't intentionally hurt her if he cares for her. He wasn't evil, just scared."

"Would anyone else hurt her because of him?" Anya asked, trusting Angel's judgement on the man.

"That's what worries me. There are rumors through the city. He disappeared, taking a break that the firm insisted on when he threw a rather important case he was working on. I must say, my respect for him had to go up a bit at that. Anyway, the client's brother has vowed to find him and kill him. He's looking all over LA for him. If he finds him in Sunnydale with Willow, well, Mirken's loved one was killed. If Lindsey does love Willow...."

"She's in danger as long as this guy's around" Buffy finished, grimacing. "Great."

"Tell the slayer we'll come and take care of Willow" Spike said, standing and moving towards the bedroom to pack.

"Tell Fang that I can handle this guy" Buffy said, knowing that Spike would want to run back and protect Willow. "Angel, I'm serious. You two stay there. We can handle this. I'm the slayer, if Blondie would ever remember that."

"Mirken isn't that strong. Not compared to what you've faced" Angel said, knowing that other humans would consider the demon to be rather evil, but Buffy had faced far worse. "I won't say that Lindsey is a good guy. He seems to want to be, but he isn't very strong in his convictions."

"I can handle this Merkin thing. And Lindsey? Well, if he makes Willow happy and wants to be good, we'll just have to make sure he suceeds. With our help of course" Buffy said, her tone determined.

"If he doesn't," Anya finished, "We'll arrange for an accident of some sort. Thanks, Angel."

"Yeah, thanks Angel. It's nice to know what we're facing." Buffy said, "Now comes the tough part....telling Willow."

"I'll chain Spike to the bed to make sure he doesn't interfere" Angel said, hearing Anya's sultry laugh, "She really needs to get her mind out of the gutter."

"Who me?" Anya asked innocently. "I'm not the one discussing chaining my handsome virile lover to a bed, now am I?"

"Good bye" Angel said, rolling his eyes. "Be careful. Tell Willow we love her."

"Will do" Buffy said, "Good bye Angel. And thanks." She hung the phone up, looking at Anya. "Guess we were right to be distrustful. How do you think Willow is going to handle this?"

Anya sighed, "Well, seeing as two of her best friends used to be sadistic, murdering evil vampires and another friend was a demon that tortured men for over a thousand years and another was involved with an experiment that almost got her and her best friends killed several times, I'd say that his being a demon representing lawyer wouldn't be that hard to forgive."

"Well, if you look at it like that" Buffy said, smiling. "Looks like we get to have a little chat with Lindsey."

"Oh, I can't wait" Anya said, sighing. "I'd better go find Xander and fill him in on everything."

"Me too. Riley that is" Buffy said, standing. "See you tomorrow? We can drop by and talk to Willow."

"It's a date" Anya said, smiling as she left.


Willow distantly heard the doorbell and lazily opened one eye. She smiled as she felt strong arms holding her in place. She rolled over in the bed and kissed Lindsey's mouth softly, "Honey, there's someone at the door."

"Let them leave" he said grumpily, not wanting to let her out of bed. They had spent the remainder of the evening before making love. He knew it was definitely not sex or fucking. Their emotions had been evident in every caress, every kiss. It was the first time he had ever experienced anything that felt so right. When he had sunk into her, breaking through her virginity, he had known that that was where he belonged. No more running. He wasn't letting her out of his life.

"Lin, come on" she said, laughing softly. "If it's Buffy or the others, they have a key. Would you like for them to walk in on this? I mean, I do think you have a very nice ass, but I'd rather not share it with them."

"You think my ass is cute?" he grinned, reluctantly moving his arms. He sat up, untangling the sheet from their bodies. In the night, it had wrapped around them. "Not as cute as yours, Brat. That little dimple on the left cheek...and the freckles...."

She kissed him deeply, catching his words as her face flamed. He had taken her places that she had never even imagined. He had been so gentle and sweet with her, so careful not to hurt her. She pulled back, smiling. "That's enough of that. They're getting impatient. I think they may break the doorbell."

"Fine." He got up, pulling on a pair of jean shorts laying beside the bed. He stretched, his tan body appearing almost gold in the sun. He glanced at her and saw that she had pulled on his T-shirt, the black cotton falling past her knees. He felt himself harden as he noticed that she had put on underwear or shorts. "Willow! Put something on underneath that."

"What?" she asked, looking down. "I'm covered. Hopefully they'll get the hint that I'm otherwise occupied and leave."

"I don't want you walking around all naked around Xander or Riley. They might get some ideas."

Willow laughed, "I promise not to give them any ideas. Now, come on."

She walked down the stairs, hearing him grumble about falling in love with a woman that wouldn't listen to him. She laughed as she went to open the door, hastily trying to straighten her hair as she opened the door. "Buffy. Guys. How nice to see you all so EARLY."

"It's after noon" Buffy said, her eyes taking in Willow's attire. She would have smiled if she wasn't there to threaten Lindsey. "Guess we got you out of bed."

"Uh oh" Willow said, frowning. "You all look so serious. Come on inside. What's happening?"

"You bastard" Xander said, upon seeing Lindsey walking in from the kitchen. He moved fast, hitting the surprised man. "I should kill you!"

"Xander! What the hell is going on?" Willow demanded, moving and pushing her friend out of the way. "Are you ok, Lin?"

"Yeah" he said, standing. "What is it with your friends and hurting me? First Angel now Xander."

"Hold up!" Buffy said, looking at the redhead. "You know about Angel?"

"Yes, I know about Angel" Willow said, glaring at them all. "Lindsey told me everything. Now, mind telling me how you knew about Angel?"

"We um called him to see if he'd investigate Lindsey. We didn't want you hurt, Willow" Buffy said, seeing the sparks in the redhead's green eyes. "We kept Spike away."

Willow had to laugh, "I bet he was threatening everyone Lindsey had ever met, huh?"

"You could say that" Anya agreed, smiling softly. "I'm glad you knew. I would have felt awful telling you after you two had sex."

"What?" Xander broke free of his glaring at Lindsey to look at a blushing Willow. "Wills! He's a bad guy."

"Oh, whatever" Willow said, rolling her eyes. "I love him Xander. Making love was the next logical step in our relationship. So deal with it."

"You know about the demon hunting him?" Riley asked, glad that his friend was ok but still not wanting her hurt.

"Yes. I don't know what to do about it" Willow said, feeling Lindsey's arms go around her.

"I'm planning on leaving. At least until he either kills me or forgets" Lindsey said softly. He tenderly stroked her arms, his mouth brushing a kiss against her neck. "I don't want to put Willow in any danger."

"You're not leaving" Buffy said, having to admit to seeing the love in his eyes. What had Angel called him? A scared child? Well, they had all been that way once. Together, they had grown up. "I'm sure you know that I'm the slayer so I won't bother with explanations or stories."

"I knew as soon as I met you. I'd heard the name" Lindsey admitted.

"I figured" Buffy said. "If you love her, stay."

"I can't put her in danger. Any of you actually. If you've been seen with me, you're all in danger" Lindsey realized, grimacing.

"Danger?" Xander said, grinning sheepishly at Willow and Lindsey. He could see they were in love. As long as Lindey didn't hurt her, he could deal with the whole lawyer past. Besides, it wasn't like she was shacked up with Spike. That thought made him shudder and be even more happy that it was Lindsey that had stolen her heart. "We laugh in the face of danger. Ha Ha."

"He's right. From our research last night, this guy is nothing" Riley said, moving to sit on the sofa. "We can take care of him like that" he snapped his fingers.

"It's what we do" Anya said, also sitting. "Fight demons and evil things. You think you're up to that?"

"I think I'd like to try. Not like I have a job to worry about" Lindsey said, laughing as he realized that they had accepted it as easily as Willow. As long as he didn't try to hurt them, he had their approval. He felt so lucky to have found a group of friends like this.

"Hmm....not much call for lawyers around here" Buffy said, thinking as she sat beside Riley. "But, they may be hiring at the mall."

"Oh, joy" Lindsey said, rolling his eyes. He pulled Willow onto his lap, his hands holding the hem of her shirt down just in case Riley or Xander's eyes strayed.

"I am not going to date a guy that works at the mall" Willow said, amusement in her eyes.

"What about the gas station?" Anya asked, laughing as Willow threw a pillow at her. "Guess that's a negative."

"Guys, what do we plan to do about this demon guy?" Buffy asked, smiling as they continued to rattle off possible jobs for Lindsey.

Willow smiled, "Actually, I've already thought of a plan."

"Why does that scare me?" Xander whispered loudly to Riley.

"Because, her plans usually mean risk of death?" Riley whispered back.

"Ahem" Willow cleared her throat, glaring at them both before she continued, "We can lure him ambush so to speak. I figure it shouldn't take Buffy long to kill him. Then, all threat is gone."

"I don't know if I like having Buffy fight my battles for me' Lindsey remarked.

Buffy snorted, "Don't think you won't be there by my side, pretty boy. I like you, but I don't plan on fighting alone."

"We always fight together" Willow said, "We've learned recently that it is the best way to win."

"Together huh?" Lindsey said, smiling slightly. "I think I could live with that."

"So, anyone up for the beach?" Anya asked, smiling at the group of friends.

"That sounds great" Buffy said, looking at Willow and Lindey. "You two love birds go get dressed. We'll wait here."

"Sure thing, Gidget" Lindsey said, laughing as the slayer ordered them around.

"Ah, know you like the beach" Buffy said, winking at the man.

"Especially the marshmallows" Xander reminded.

"Smores huh?" Lindsey said, standing and carrying a laughing Willow. "We'll be right down."

Willow rolled her eyes as he carried her up the stairs. "You're impossible, you know that don't you?"

"Me? Have you taken a look at that group of friends down there?"

"Don't forget the ones in LA" she reminded, "If you ever hurt me, you'll have two vampires torturing you."

"Don't worry. I promise to do my best to win them over nest time they visit" he said seriously, knowing she cared a lot about the two vampires in question.

"Knowing Spike? That won't be too long" Willow said, laughing as she searched for her clothes. "I figure he allowed Angel to um chain him last night, proceeding to seduce the handsome brooder into believing I was forgotten. And then, this morning, he probably started the psychological games. By now....he most likely has Angel convinced that I'm in extreme danger and that they are the only ones that can save me. I figure by dusk, they'll be on the way here. They're so predictable. You'd think Angel would learn Spike's games over the past hundred and something years...."

"Love sometimes blinds us" Lindsey said, shaking his head at her insight. "Great. This afternoon I get to face an irrate slayer. Tonight, two vampires. The things I do for you, Brat."

"I promise not to let them bite you" she said sweetly. "But, you do deserve a bit of torture for not telling me the entire truth all along."

He sighed, "A bit of torture? Fine. I'll accept that as long as there is no blood involved. I have a weak stomach."

Willow started to laugh, her seriousness lost. "No blood, then. Come on. We'd better get dressed before Buffy comes up here and dresses us."

"Bit controlling isn't she?" he said, pulling on a clean pair of shorts.

"You get used to her bossy ways. She's the best friend you could ever have" Willow said. She smiled at him, "I do love you, you know."

"Not as much as I love you" he said, smiling. "You're my savior, Brat."

She smiled as she went into his arms, their mouths meeting again as they kissed deeply. Downstairs, their friends planned the day's events as they lazily waited.