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Title: 'Alliance' 1/1
Series: 'Slow Drip Down' (This is the first.)
Author: Starla (
throwmywalrus@bored.com or
Pairings: B/A implications, Wes/Fred implications, C/A, Fred/Gunn,
Disclaimer: Joss Whedon, David Greenwalt and Associates own all. I
intend no
Distribution: Let me know.
Summary: Wes helps Buffy. First of a series, which will explore new
friendships and old flames.
Feedback:Oh, yes please.
Dedication: To Fred, thanks for the beta, and Cav, thanks for the
board. Lub ya both.

//When the brush is out of paint
and we stroke the gaps full
of silence and restraint
and the canvas starts to peel
that's when, thats when, I'll take your hand//
-'That's When You Come to Me' by George

I didn't really think anything would come from this; I didn't expect
her to
be around long. She was here to talk to me about a demon, and then she
go, barely a blip in the radar of my life.

What I didn't count on was finding a connection, finding someone who
understood all the turbulence I'd been feeling lately.

I didn't expect to find a cherished friend in Buffy Summers.

The call was unexpected, to say the least. The last time I'd seen
she'd been stone-cold, unflappable as she moved away from Angel and
into the
Los Angeles night. Before that, the last time I'd seen her had been the
Mayor's Ascension, and I have the feeling she'd only let me lend a hand
because it was absolutely necessary.

You can imagine how astonished I was that now, she was coming to me -
willingly - for help.

"Hey, Wes," she said, a little shyly. "It's Buffy - Buffy Summers?"

I had to bite my tongue from informing her that, as far as I was aware,
was the only Buffy on the planet.

Something about her still made me nervous; whether it was her status as
Slayer, or just that aura of confidence she carries about, I don't
know. I
do know that living in Sunnydale, as her Watcher, was one of the most
anxious times of my life. If I could do-over any one period of my
history, I would choose those few months, because I still can't believe
made such a wanker of myself.

"Hello, Buffy," I said, managing to sound fairly confident myself.
not here, but..."

I trailed off, not knowing the proper end to that sentence. I could
give him
a message? Not without causing much tension among my family. Long ago,
had been an unspoken agreement between all concerned that Buffy and
should only have contact under apocalypse conditions, and even then,
should have supervision.

There was silence for a moment, and then, "Wes, I called your
apartment. On
purpose. If I was looking for Angel, I'd call Angel."


To tell the truth, that actually made a lot of sense. Adding in the
that I'm almost entirely sure Angel hasn't had any contact with Buffy
her resurrection almost two years ago, I suppose that her calling for
wasn't really the most likely scenario.

I recovered fairly quickly, for someone flustered a little beyond
"Uh - is there something I can help you with?"

"I don't know. I hope so." Her voice went far away for a moment,
talking to
someone in the background, "I *said*, I won't be a minute. Don't push
She returns to me with a sigh. "I *swear*, there's something wrong with
people these days. No manners."

"Buffy, where are you?" I said, long-ingrained Watcherly concern
kicking in.

"A payphone about a block from your place," she admitted. "I was on my
but then realised just showing up might be a little rude, so, hey,
check me
using the phone."

I frowned. "You were on your way? Here?"

"Yeah. De-" she stops herself from using the 'D' word. "Troubles with
job. Could use that big brain of yours."

"Mr. Giles-"

"Is overseas. Living in England. Nearly two years now."

That stumped me. I'd known when he'd left, of course, but I'd never
considered the way that would affect Buffy's position in Sunnydale. I
never considered how much she really needed him - her watcher, her
father -

"Wes? Will you help me?"

She sounded like a little girl. A soul in need.

"Of course! I'll see you in a few minutes?"

"Yeah. Thanks."

The phone went dead, and I stared at it for a moment, wondering if I
call for reinforcements. Eventually, I decided that probably wasn't a

Like Buffy said, if she wanted to talk to Angel, she would have called
Angel. Besides, talking to Angel these days generally involved talking
Cordelia - and to Cordelia and Angel as a unit - and I had the feeling
anything involving a conversation between Buffy, Angel, and Cordelia
was a
very bad idea.

In my head, I saw Cordelia's blood dripping from the walls, Buffy
triumphant over the seer's body.

A very bad idea indeed.


She showed up at the door in brown leather pants and a soft linen
hair sparkling and eyes serious. "Hi," she said, simply, "Sorry to just

I stepped aside to allow her in, and then followed behind her,
realising that she was always one step ahead, and waited for her to

She didn't, instead drifting towards my wall with its row of framed
photographs. Her eyes scanned over photos of Gunn, and Fred, and her
tightened against a photo of Cordy and Angel, taken last Christmas.

I wanted to tell her that I didn't think they'd last, but that wouldn't
very loyal, would it?

"Would you like a drink?" I asked, moving towards the kitchen.

"Just a soda, if that's okay," she replied, her eyes still on
smiling face. I know how she felt, having watched Gunn and Fred every
for the past two years.

When I returned with our drinks, she broke away from the photographs,
the can I offered her.

I sat, but she didn't, staring at me, still clearly uncomfortable. I
at her, trying to relax her a little, but she looked exactly as I'd
taught a Slayer should always look - alert, cold, indifferent.

"Thanks for seeing me," she said.

"Take a seat," I offered, gesturing at the couch a few feet from her.

There was a pause before she complied, reluctantly. "I looked on my
own, but
I couldn't find anything. Figured I might have more luck with you."

"What seems to be the problem?" I asked, dimly registering that she's
she'd looked into it on her own. I knew Giles was gone, but what of her
friends? Of Willow?

"I've just been having a little trouble with this demon," she said, a
defensively. One thing I'd learned about Buffy: she hated asking for
"And last night it cut me, and then this morning I was all itchy, and I
better than to just write that off."

"What sort of demon was it?" I adjusted my glasses.

"A Sir Glow-a-lot," Her voice was confident, as if she thought that
help me. "We found a whole nest of them."

"We?" I asked, curiousity burning within me. I found it bizarre that
would come to me with all the help she had at home.

"Me," she elaborated, "the guys. Us. We."

"I'm sorry. I'm just a little - curious, about why you would come to me
about this, rather than seek out help from one of your friends," My
eyes met
hers, and she wavered a little. "They've been so useful in the past."

"I-" her face tightened. "Everyone is kind of preoccupied... and I
wanted to keep this to myself." She rolled her eyes, "Every little
these days, they think is going to kill me."


"Besides... after what happened with Willow..." she shrugged. "Maybe I
wasn't supposed to draw them into this world."

I'd heard little about 'what happened with Willow'. I knew, in some
part of my brain, that she'd been drawn too deep into the world of
so deep that no-one was sure if she'd get out, but I'd assumed that all
was over with now... that Willow, brilliant, awkward Willow, was okay

From the look on Buffy's face, that wasn't entirely the case.

"Can I see the cut?" I asked gently, and she nodded.

When she started to take off her shirt, I panicked for a moment. What
someone came in? What if *Angel* came in? No matter his new-found
for Cordelia, I knew he'd have my hide for this, and there'd be nothing
blood, and bloody broken bone - -

I relaxed when I saw the tank top she wore, as low-chested and
midriff-baring as it was. The relaxation last only a second, though, as
laid eyes on the cut that ripped it's way across the perfect skin of

It didn't look pretty; the edges were turning black, and glinting
the open flesh, I could see traces of green and purple. The skin
the wound was red and angry.

"Suppose you can see why I was worried," she said to me, a hint of
humour in
her voice.

"I think I can guess," I replied with my own smile, and then stood,
to the bookshelf. Most of the best volumes were at A.I HQ, but I
thought I
could make a fairly good diagnosis with what I had at hand.

For half an hour I read, and it was with some relief that I looked up
told her that this was normal. "A Chandayma demon," I explained. "The
means that your body is rejecting the demon's fluid," I explained. "If
was any sign of blue, I'd have to take you to a doctor I know."

Buffy looked down at her stomach, and poked it a little. "I don't see

I closed my book, placing it on the coffee table with care.

"How are things?" Buffy asked me suddenly. "I meant to ask earlier, but
was kind of freaked out to be here, and all that."

"Things are -" I stopped, taking a moment to think. How *were* things?
I supposed. Nothing extremely good *or* bad. Just... "Mediocre?" I

She smirked at me, "Hey, join the chorus line." She pulled her shirt
on, and relaxed against the cushions of the sofa. "There's nothing like
good old mediocrity to tide you over til painsville."

"Or Happydom," I pointed out.

"If you're optimistic."

"And you're not?"

Her smile faltered for a moment before she spoke, her voice strained.

"Who wants to be an optimist, anyway?" I said gently, "It's far more
fun to
be the pessimist, and get to say 'Told you so' when it's all over."

She laughed at that, hands rubbing at her arms. "At least then you're
prepared for torture." She went still for a moment. "Speaking of, how's

I felt my heart beat, once, twice, and I really didn't want to be the
that talked to her about him. About him and all their broken dreams.

Her eyes darted to the wall behind me, to the smiling, happy
and she said, "Good. I'm glad."

"You - you knew about him and Cordelia, I take it."

"Xander told me," Buffy said. "It's okay. Mostly."

I wanted to tell her that he'd never love Cordelia the way he did -
does - love her, but I doubt she would have believed me.

I stood up and went and sat at her side, mostly on impulse. "I fell in
with Fred first," I said eventually, when our silence had grown to
proportions. "For a while, I thought maybe - but she chose Gunn."

"And you didn't stop loving her?"

Our voices were very quiet, and I felt so connected to her, in that
She was young and sad and hurting, and so was I, and even if Fred would
never love me the way Angel loves Buffy, I felt like we were in the

"No. I didn't."

Her hand touched mine, briefly, like comfort and softness and lonely,
forgotten sorrow.

"Is Fred happy?" she asked.

"Yes," I said. "I think so."

"And that makes you happy."

It wasn't a question, but I answered her anyway. "Sometimes," I said.
fear I'm not selfless enough to be overjoyed."

Buffy laughed, then, and met my eyes. "That's not selfishness," she
"It's humanity."

We changed the subject, then, and shortly after, Buffy left, because,
really, what else was there to say?