**Part Seven**

Buffy sat at the table watching as Matty paged through the morning paper. She drank her glass of milk. He had a system. It was kind of cute. She wondered if he even realized it. First, he glanced through the main section. Occasionally, he'd read a story but usually he just skimmed the headlines. He glanced through the business section, concentrating on the stocks mostly. She took that to mean he was invested. Something Buffy knew nothing about. And then he spread out the sports section and scoured it. He was like a man on a mission. It was funny, but sweet to see that he took his work that seriously. He followed the careers of the players he represented avidly. And when they were on a streak tried to monetize that for them.

Everyone had been gone for a couple of weeks now and Christmas was looming right around the corner. Things were a little strained between them. She was sure Matty expected her to return to the other bedroom any day now. She had no idea why she'd taken the step she had. It went back to her conversation with Dawn. She liked him. Maybe she didn't love him, but she really did like him. The more she saw him and spent time with him she liked him more.

She'd never had the experience of sleeping with someone before. Not like they did. She knew he didn't sleep well. He'd admitted that to her, but even without him saying so she would have known. He talked in his sleep sometimes. She wasn't able to get much from the garbled words, but Marbles and Teddy came out a lot. She wasn't sure what that meant, and didn't think it was her place to ask. She had things she didn't want him to know about. Yet.

As far as she was concerned after meeting his friend Taylor, she got the better end of the deal. She was sure Taylor could be charming when he wanted to be, but he seemed the type that was out for himself. And very into himself. Buffy wouldn't do well with that type of guy.

"I was thinking," she said after a quick glance to be sure he wasn't immersed in something. He was between pages, so that meant he wasn't.


"How about if I bring you lunch today?"

He paused his page turning to look at her. "You want to bring me lunch?"

"Sure. I'm not working until tonight."

"Oh right. That author."

"Right. Some book signing party or something. Sounds way boring, but I guess they're worried there will be crazed fans rushing the table or something."

"Have you read the book?"

"No. I'm not much of a reader. I mean, I read, I know how to read, it's just not one of my favorite past times."

"What are your favorite past times?" He folded the newspaper back the way it was and gave her all of his attention. She loved when he did that. She'd never really gotten the feeling before that a guy she was with was hanging on her every word. Not that she thought that now, but Matty had a way of making her think he did want to hear what she had to say.

"It depends. I like to dance, movies, music, clubs, you know. I used to ice skate."

"Ice skating? Really? Were you good?"

"Yeah, pretty good. I haven't done it since high school. Hasn't been much time."

"We'll have to fix that."

"Really? Do you skate?"

"Used to play hockey."

"Then you must have been good."

"I could hold my own."

"Huh," she said, breaking off part of her bagel. "So about lunch? Was that a yes or a dear god I don't want you there?"

"I'd love to have lunch with you. But I'll take you out, you don't have to bring me anything."

"Are you sure? You usually eat at your office."

"Because I work through my lunch. If you are going to be there I won't want to do that. So, we may as well go out."

"If you're sure."

"I'm positive."

"Great. Cool. I can't wait to see where you work."

"It's not that exciting."

"You mean, Venus Williams isn't going to be waiting to see you or anything?"

"Uh no."

"Well, then, I'll be sure to leave my camera at home."

"All right. Wear a dress."

"Huh?" Had she just missed something?

"Wear a dress. I'll take you somewhere nice."


"No, come on. We haven't done anything like that since you moved in. I'd like to take you out for a date."


He stood from the table, finishing his orange juice as he walked to the sink to set his breakfast dishes down. He grazed the top of her head with a kiss and slid his suit coat on. She stood and helped him, making sure his tie was straight.


"Don't want my man going out looking sloppy."

"We wouldn't want that. See you at lunch then, a little before noon will work best."

"I'll be there."

"Great. See ya then."

Buffy spent the morning updating her files. The office Matty had set her up with was almost as big as her bedroom, so she had plenty of space. There was a four-drawer file cabinet with a lock, so she was pretty protected. As much as she was going to be in here, anyway. She tried to work a little each day, that way it wasn't overwhelming. There were days Giles had no updates and days he had a ton. So, it tended to work out for her just to keep up the routine. She finished up when it was time for her to get ready for her date.

She made her way into the city. She'd been to his office once before, but it was after hours and he was driving so she allowed herself extra time in case she got lost. She found it all right, though. She took a minute to reapply lipstick and to be sure her hair hadn't frizzed out on the way there. She'd only had the windows open a little, so it wasn't too bad.

"May I help you?" She was older than Buffy, but not by much. She was dressed very professionally. It wasn't the first time Buffy was kind of glad she didn't have any administrative skills. It would drive her nuts to have to dress so conservatively all of the time. What was the fun in wearing clothes if you couldn't wear some that were flattering?

"I'm here to see Matty Demaret."

"And you are?" She had a look that Buffy recognized. Buffy wasn't an athlete or anybody famous so this woman was prepared to shoo Buffy out the door in record time.

"Buffy Demaret."

She quirked a brow at her, assessing her much the same way Buffy had done when she'd walked into the building.

"His wife," she added for good measure.

She mouthed a silent ‘oh'. "He's on the fifth floor. You can take the elevator. I'll let Janie know you're on your way up, Mrs. Demaret."

"Thank you. Have a nice day," she called out with a dismissive wave. Oh yeah, she could get used to this rich wife thing.

She hated to admit how much she enjoyed doing that. Whether it was because he was just good at his job or because people knew who his father was. Claiming to be his wife definitely got reactions out of people. And they were usually of the expedient variety. That was always of the good as far as Buffy was concerned. And to see someone who reminded her so much of Cordelia's friends get taken down a notch was just, well, fun.

She made it to the fifth floor, noticing when she stepped off the elevator that there were a few people hovering around. She walked to the receptionist on that floor. Just how many did they need?

"Hi, Janie, right?"

"Yes, ma'am."

"I'm here to see Matty."

"I let him know you were on your way up, Mrs. Demaret. He said to send you back. I'll show you the way."


"I see him, I can make it from here, thanks."

Janie disappeared without a word. Interesting. Buffy wondered how many people knew Matty even had a wife before today. He mentioned that he tended to keep his personal life just that so she imagined maybe no one did. He spotted her and smiled, waving her in while he kept talking just as a redhead stood from her desk.

"He's on the phone. If you'd like to have a seat." She wasn't rude, but she wasn't very personable either. Definitely short and to the point. And definitely had her claws out.

"Hm, that's odd because he just waved me in," Buffy said. She was pretty sure the redhead hadn't seen him. The redhead looked into Matty's office and must have been given the all-clear because she stepped aside.

"Well," Buffy said under her breath. She tried to remember if he'd mentioned his assistant's name. If he had, she didn't recall it. She closed the door behind her and walked to one of the empty chairs in front of his desk.

She'd chosen the dress she had on with him in mind. It was pretty conservative, until you got to the skirt. It was as mini as it could get without being illegal. She had the body and the legs to wear it, so she figured why not. She was tan enough that she didn't need nylons either but she'd worn stockings, the kind with elastic at the top and sitting like she was now you could see the lacy elastic.

She watched as his eyes took in her appearance. He was nice about it. He started with her face and worked his way down. She crossed her legs, timing it perfectly with his gaze getting to that point of his perusal. She was being mean, but figured he deserved it after seeming to imply she was going to show up in jeans and a sweatshirt for lunch with him today.

"Yeah, listen, Steve, my lunch date just got here."

"Well, I'm allowed a date with my wife."

"Yes, I said wife."

"I'm sure you'll meet her soon. Have a good afternoon."

He hung up and ran his fingers through his hair. "Wow. Are you trying to give me a heart attack?"

"Well, you didn't specify the kind of dress." She stood and turned for him. "Isn't this all right?"

"Jesus, Buffy, you're going to cause accidents dressed like that."

"Oh come on, it's not that bad."

"No, it's not that bad. You're just that good in it. I've never seen you dressed like that."

"Because we've never gone out. Not like this. And you're sweet," she walked over and kissed him. "Thank you."

They'd gotten the kissing part down fine lately. She'd even woken up in his arms a couple of times since she'd moved into his room. Neither mentioned it because it seemed they just naturally came together during the night.

"What I'm thinking right now isn't very sweet."

"Hmm," she said, taking a seat on his lap. She glanced at his desk, wondering what he did sitting here all day. He had the usual things an executive had. Computer, pens, paper, notes. "So, where are you taking me for lunch?"

"I, um, lunch?"

She laughed softly. "Yes, you know, the meal I came here to eat with you."

"Oh right, I almost forgot why it was you came."

"That would be the reason I drove all the way here, yes." She frowned slightly and grabbed a tissue from his desk. "I got lipstick on your cheek. Sorry," she murmured as she blotted it off. That was how his assistant found them when she opened the door.

"Mr. Demaret? Sorry, but is it okay if I leave for lunch?"

Buffy's eyes widened as they met Matty's and she had all she could do to stifle the laugh. She was sure Matty saw it in her eyes, though. She wasn't sure about his reaction. She held the tissue with the offending lipstick smudged on it up for his perusal. "I think I got it all. Sorry, I'll be more careful next time."

"Thanks." He cleared his throat as Buffy slid off his lap, returning to the chair she'd originally sat in to collect her purse. Matty slid his suit coat on and turned his attentions to his assistant. "We'll be leaving for lunch now Amanda, too, so go ahead and go."

"Okay, see you in an hour."

"I'm sorry," Buffy said after she left, noticing she didn't shut the door all the way behind her.

"It's okay."

"Am I going to get you in trouble?"

"For what?"

"I know how women work, Matty. It's going to be around the office by this afternoon that we were doing something we weren't."

"Oh, well," he smiled. He actually smiled! Okay, so that was okay with him. "No, you aren't going to get me in trouble. We weren't in here alone long enough to, um," he cleared his throat. "Well, anyway, you know what I mean."

"Yes, I think I do. And that's good to know."

His eyes darted up to meet hers again and she saw a hint of a grin on his lips. He wasn't mad, that was good.

"You do look nice, by the way."

"You sure your heart can take it?"

"My heart can, I'm just not sure about anyone else's who can see you." He stepped toward her, cupped her cheek with his hand. "I've seen what's underneath it, babe, albeit briefly. The dress is nice, but I'll take you au natural any day of the week."

"Oh," she said, nibbling her lower lip. She was blushing terribly by now. Ugh. She'd opened herself for that one. "Well."

He chuckled softly and kissed her lightly. "Hmm, now I know how to get you to stop talking."

"Was I talking too much?"

"Not at all. Let's go eat before we do give them something to talk about."


They walked to the restaurant, it was just down the street from his office. Buffy was used to walking, it wasn't until the past couple of months that she had a vehicle to drive, so it didn't bother her any. He hadn't let go of her hand since they left his office. She wasn't sure if he noticed the looks, but she did. Yeah, they, more particularly he, was going to be the topic of water cooler gossip today.

It was kind of nice, though, being with him like this. Like a date, only he was her husband. It was odd to think of him in that way, but he was. And she'd proven to herself that she didn't mind throwing the weight that came with that around when it was called for. So, what did that make her?

She wasn't sure how she knew, what made her react, or what made her even think either of them were in danger. She reacted as she had for the past eight or so years of her life, on instinct. She sensed danger from the passing car, and she acted on that. She jumped in front of Matty, blocking his body with hers. She let out a yelp at the sharp pain that singed her arm. She heard screaming and more gunshots but she didn't seem too able to focus on much of anything but the pain. And the idea that she was not invulnerable to a bullet.

"Buffy, Jesus," he said. She saw the look of panic in his eyes. Fear. Anger. Guilt. They were all there, and she stayed focused on him, hanging onto the fear. He was scared for her.

Matty had no idea what happened. By the time he knew what was going on, it was over. How she had reacted so fast was beyond him. It was like she knew. The sidewalk was riddled with bullets and debris. Matty spotted at least two down and heard the sound of emergency vehicles in the distance, rapidly getting nearer. He drew his hand away from Buffy, vaguely aware it was covered in blood.

"Buffy. Talk to me."

"I'm okay," she winced and he knew she wasn't okay. "What happened?"

"You were shot."

"I know that. I don't know what happened, though."

"So were some others, I don't know. It was a car."

"Are you okay?"

"Yes, thanks to you. Don't do that again."

"It's my job."

"I'm not your client, Buffy."

"Sorry, instinct. It's what I do. Save people. Save the world. Since I was fifteen. It never ends."

She was rambling. Was she getting weak? From what he could tell, the bullet had grazed her arm but it was bleeding pretty heavily so he wasn't sure how bad the graze was.

"Do you have your cell phone?"

"Do I what?" She was asking him about cell phones at a time like this.

"We're right by your office, right?"

"Yeah, just down the street, not even a block."

"Good. Call this number, tell them Buffy's been shot. Then get me to your office."

"Buffy, you need to see a paramedic."

"Just do it, Matty. I know you don't know what I'm asking you to do, but please."

"Okay, okay, give me the number."

He drew out his cell phone and dialed the number. The conversation was short. He had no idea who he had just spoken with, but he'd given them the address of his office. They said they'd be there in a few minutes. He wasn't sure how that was possible with traffic the way it was currently. He wasn't sure about leaving the scene either. But, his priority was Buffy. He wasn't sure where the bullet would have hit if she hadn't brushed him out of the way.

"Can you walk?"

"Yeah, just help me. So much for lunch, huh."

"I'm not too worried about lunch."

He shrugged out of his suit coat, preparing to drape it over her shoulders. He noticed she was clutching her arm now.

"No, don't Matty, you're going to ruin your suit."

"I don't care."


"Mr. Demaret," Penny said when he came through the doors to the lobby. "Is everything all right?"

"No, not really. We're expecting someone in a few minutes." He paused and glanced at Buffy. "Name?"

"Willow Rosenberg," she whispered through gritted teeth. He could tell that she was in pain. He could only imagine how much. God, he hated guns, blood, death.

"Willow Rosenberg. Send her up to my office as soon as she gets here, please."

"Yes, sir."

"Thanks." He guided Buffy to the elevator and up to his office, breezing past everyone as quickly as he could. With his suit coat on he thought the blood was fairly well hidden. She just looked deathly pail and sick. Like she'd lost blood. He'd no sooner set her on his couch and started to look at the wound when there was a knock at his door.

"Hi. You must be Matty. I'm Willow. I'd say it's nice to meet you, but I need to get to work. Don't worry I've done this before. Could you shut the door?"

"Uh sure," he said, confused. She didn't look like a doctor or nurse.

"Hi Buffy," he heard her say as he closed the door behind him. He kept his distance, but quickly made his way to her when he heard her starting to chant.

Willow turned her attention to him briefly, her hair had an almost halo-like glow to it and her eyes had lost all of evidence of their color.

"I need quiet, please. She'll be fine."

He backed away, not sure what he should do. He walked to the window, turning his back to the two women. Every instinct in his body told him to go get one of the paramedics on the street. She'd been shot. He wasn't sure what type of new-age stuff she might be in to, but bullet wounds couldn't be healed with chanting. But, Buffy had asked him to call this woman. It was her life, wasn't it? Didn't he have to respect that? Trust her?

He focused his attention on the street below, forcing himself to block out what was going on behind him. He had no idea how much time had passed when he felt a soothing hand rest against his shoulder. He could feel the healing arc from the hand to him. It warmed him. She drew away.

"I'm sorry. I didn't realize. I shouldn't have touched you without permission."

"It's okay," he said, confused. What had happened?

"I'm a healer. Not just of the physical, so if you ever decide you want that taken care of let me know."


"I pulled away before I got anything. I just detected something dark, unsettling." She smiled brightly. "She's fine, by the way. You can see her."

He dashed to the couch. "She's?"

"Sleeping. I put her out. She'll need about an hour. And then she'll be as good as new. Maybe a little TLC would be in order, but I suspect you'd do that even if I didn't mention it."

"I don't understand."

She placed her hand against his shoulder. There was no sensation this time. It was just a hand. Whatever had happened the first time she'd touched him didn't again. He glanced at her, curious.

"It's not my place to tell you. Save my number, though. You'll need it again."

"Are you saying this happens often?"

The woman, Willow, looked at Buffy affectionately. "I wish I could say otherwise. I understand you had Xander down for Thanksgiving. That meant a lot to him."

"You know Xander?"

"Yeah, since kindergarten. Old friends."

"Why weren't you there?"

"I was out of town."

"Oh," he said with a frown. Buffy hadn't even mentioned inviting Willow. He wondered what that was about. "I'm sorry, I can't remember if she's mentioned you."

"That's okay. You guys have had your plate full. I get that. I have to go, though. Okay? So, take care of her."

"Is there anything I need to do?"

"Just wake her up in an hour. She'll be fine. A little sore maybe, but she heals fast."

"Will she have a scar?"

"Nope. She doesn't scar."

"There's one on her neck, though."

"Yeah there is," Willow said and her eyes took on a sad look to them. "It's the only one I know of she has. I don't know why it happened. I've offered to fix it for her. I'm not sure I could, but I'd try. She doesn't want to, though."

"Thanks. What do I owe you?"

She waved him off with a laugh. "Nothing. I was in the neighborhood." She leaned over the couch and placed a kiss against Buffy's forehead. "Take care. It was nice to meet you, Matty. I'll see you again, under better circumstances."

"Okay then," he said, settling in a chair. What to do for an hour? He couldn't work. Would she wake up hungry? They hadn't eaten lunch yet. He stood and leaned over her, looking at her arm. He could barely even tell where she'd been hurt. There was a little redness, a slight puckering of the skin but the wound was gone. Unbelievable. If he didn't know better. He shook off that thought. He didn't believe in things like magic.

He passed the time bringing some paperwork he could sift through while seated by her side. His suit coat was ruined. As was his shirt. There was blood all over both of them. He kept Amanda out of his office and asked her not to disturb him unless it was an emergency.

An hour to the second he leaned over her, placing his hand on the shoulder of her good arm.

"Buffy," he whispered.

It took a minute for her to come to, but she did. And that was what happened. She came to. She didn't wake up. This whole afternoon was just bizarre. He'd have to remember to check and see if anyone had died on the street. He felt bad leaving the scene, but he hadn't seen anything helpful. He was pretty sure Buffy hadn't either. And, really, the last thing Matty Demaret needed was publicity involving a shoot out outside his office.

She gasped and blinked rapidly, almost as if startled. Seeing her eyes was one of the most welcomed sights he'd ever seen.

"Hi," he whispered, sitting on the edge of the couch to help her sit up.


"How are you?"

"I'm okay. Thanks for trusting me."

"You're welcome, but you owe me an explanation."

"Yeah, now's probably not the time."

"No, probably not."

She sat up slowly, leaning on him a little. "I really hate getting shot."

"It's happened often?"

"Twice now."

"I could suggest you look into another line of work."

She laughed and ran her fingers through her hair. He thought she looked fine, but he imagined she felt pretty crappy.

"I wish it was that easy, Matty."

She lifted her arm above her head, rotated it as if working the kinks out.

"I guess we didn't get our lunch."

"Are you hungry? I can have Amanda order something in. Name it, it's yours."

She probably thought he didn't care or that he was being callous. She'd have no idea how helpless he'd felt when he realized she was pushing him out of the way. He took her face in his hands then and met her gaze with his. "Please don't do that again, Buffy."


"You jumped in front of me."

"I told you."

"I know what you said. And I'm telling you."

"I can't just turn it off, Matty. You don't understand. It's what I do. I can't just stop."

"It's your job, Buffy."

She closed her eyes and sighed heavily enough he heard her.

"No, Matty, it's not just my job. It's what I was born to do. It's in me. I was born to protect, that's what I do. There's more to it then that, but that's all I can tell you for now."


"Because I don't know what we're doing yet. There are things."

"Yeah, I get it."

She smiled slightly and leaned toward him, brushing her lips against his. He drew her to him, hands sliding from her face along her neck to her shoulders. He felt her hands at the collar of his shirt, loosening his tie. She slid his tie off and started unbuttoning his shirt before he pulled away.



"We, I," he shook his head, clearing his thoughts. God, she was beautiful. Sexy as hell. He wanted her. Bad. "We're at my office and you've just been shot."

"I'm fine and I imagine your office door locks."

Holy shit! Was she suggesting what he thought she was?

"I had something a little better in mind than a couch for our first time."

"I just need," she whispered, nipping his lip before she kissed him. God, he could feel the passion, the need rolling off her. She took his hand, slid it between her legs. The legs he'd admired not too long ago for looking magnificent in the dress she wore. "Won't take long."

He sort of understood what was going on. She'd just gotten shot. Could have died. She wanted release. His hand paused at her thigh. If he did this, they were crossing a line. He couldn't go back to just kissing her. It was difficult enough having her in his bed night after night.

She whimpered softly, breaking the kiss. "Just kiss me," she murmured. "I'll do it."

"Christ," he whispered in return. Her hand slid between her legs. She wrapped her calves around his thighs, arcing against him as she pleasured herself. Never in his wildest dreams had something like this happened to him. Talk about a turn-on.

She went off like a firecracker. It hadn't taken long at all. He wondered, given as needy as she was, if he would have been able to get her off anyway. She went loose against him, but didn't break the kiss right away.

"God, I'm sorry."

"Don't be. That was," he broke away and gestured to the front of his trousers. "Arousing as hell."

"I know, and I shouldn't have."

"Don't worry about it. I get it. Maybe when we get home we can let things happen the way they should have."

She slid a fingertip along his arm and smiled. He brought her hand to his mouth, sliding the fingers in and out. He could taste her, smell her scent and it drove him wild.

"I need to go sit at my desk or Amanda's going to get an eyeful if she comes in here."

Buffy laughed, sliding her finger along the edge of his lips. "Thank you."

"No, no, thank you."

"You say that now. Later, you'll think I'm a freak or something."

"Nothing freakish about that at all. I can assure you my mind won't change on that later either. You can do that anytime."

"Anytime, huh?"

"Guaranteed I'd never stop you."

"Hmm. You liked that then?"

"Uh, let me think how to answer that. Yeah!"

"I've never," she blushed and it was beautiful on her. "I mean, you know, I haven't done that in front of someone before. I know if we took that step it would change things. I shouldn't have asked. I just."

He brought her hand to his mouth and kissed the palm. "I get it, really. You were scared. You could have died. I could have died. I'm glad it's me you wanted to burn it off with."

"There isn't anyone else."

"I know that. I was just saying. If I let you leave here not knowing."

She lay back down, draping her arm over her head.

"Are you okay?"

"Yeah, fine. I wouldn't have gone off and found someone, Matty."

"I know that. I was just saying. To think if you'd gone home and, well," he shrugged. "I would have missed it."

"Oh!" She blushed even more and brought her other hand to her face, in an unsuccessful attempt to cover it completely.

"Don't be embarrassed, Buffy."

"I just can't believe I did that."

"If I have my say about things, we'll be doing more than that eventually. Don't think that way. I know it was just the moment and a need, not really what you wanted."

"But I did want. Geez, Matty, I would have. Here in your office with your admin. right outside the door."

"Yeah, well, I guess she really would have had something to talk about then. I think us coming back from lunch covered in blood will give them enough for the time being though."

"Oh God. Your suit. Your shirt."

"Your dress."

"I don't care about the dress. I have a million of them. Suits are expensive."

"I care about the dress. You look incredible in it. I was hoping to see you in it again."

"I have another one like it."

"You do?"

"Yeah, different color, but I liked it. So, you'll get your chance."

"Well, that's good. My mind can rest easy now."

She laughed, letting her hands fall away from her face.

"Yeah, I guess that's the least of your worries right now. I told you, me and relationships."

"You think I'm going to walk away because you got shot? Because you did an incredibly brave – stupid but brave – thing and pushed me out of the way of a bullet?"

"Well, the thought did cross my mind."

"Buffy. You were unbelievably fast. I don't know how you reacted so quickly. I don't know how you knew, but you did. I can see why you do your job."

"I wish I could have saved those others."

"I don't know what happened to them."

"I saw them, Matty, they were gone."

"Yeah, probably."

He remembered how a body looked when it was dead. He was pretty sure she was right.

"Let's get you home."

"We came separately."

"I'll arrange to get your car home. I'm not letting you drive home, Buffy. I don't care how fine you say you are."

"No, no, you're right. Topline can do it for us, though."

"You sure? Jim could take care of it, too."

"I don't care. Whatever's easiest."

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