It wasn’t The Bahamas, Hawaii, or Key West. It was Oslo. Who the hell lived in Oslo? And why would anyone want to put a hellmouth here? Hers was not the job to question. She just went wherever there was demonic activity. Giles had said Oslo was a spot with some questionable activity of late. He wasn’t sure it was hellmouth level activity, but that was part of her job. Check out Oslo, the reports, and see what was here. If it warranted a team, they’d assemble one and come in for a quick sweep mission. A few would stay behind to ensure things were squelched. Temporarily. It was always temporary. Evil always had a way of resurfacing. That was why their corporation was profitable. It was a never ending battle.
“I’m really sorry about this,” Graham said from behind her. She was standing on the little area outside their backdoor that she supposed Giles would try and say was a porch. She leaned against him when he placed his arms around her.
“It’s not your fault.”
“But it is. If I hadn’t come to you.”
“You had nowhere else to go.”
“I led Riley to you.”
“It was bound to happen eventually, Graham. That’s why we have these places set up.”
“Where do they come from?”
“I’m not sure to be honest. I know the Council had deep pockets. We still do, but different. This was probably a former potential slayer’s home.”
“Not one you’ve found?”
“No, judging by the looks of things in there, this place hasn’t been lived in for a while. She’s gone. I’m not sure what happened to slayers that weren’t called. I mean, when I got called, there were hundreds of potentials that didn’t. When I died, Kendra got called, but she was that age. So, a slayer that was twenty wasn’t going to get called. Does that make sense?”
“Yeah, I’m not sure I get it either. I’d have to ask Giles. It’s just never priority.” She turned in his arms then, wrapping her arms around his waist. “I’m glad you came with.”
“Yes. It wouldn’t be much fun on my own, and I think if we put off getting you out in the field you’ll start to fear it.”
“Thanks I think.”
“I don’t mean that in a bad way. You just have to get back on the horse.”
He chuckled. “Yeah, I know what you’re saying. So, what did you get at the store?”
“Everything your heart can imagine. Or would that be your stomach?”
“Mm, it’d be your stomach since I’m the designated cook.”
“Yes. Next time you should come with me so you see what there is.”
“Mm,” she said, reaching up to kiss him. “It’s kind of romantic in a way. If only we weren’t here to hunt demons and things.”
“We are kind of in the middle of nowhere. How far was it into town?”
“About six miles or ten kilometers.”
“Listen to you with the metric talk.”
“Hey, I’m getting there with all this international travel I’ve been doing lately.”
“You know, he’s not going to tell anyone and he’s not going to look for you.”
“You’re probably right, but I just can’t take that risk. If it was just me I wouldn’t worry about it, but I have more people to be responsible for and to now.”
“I get that. I just hate that you felt the need to uproot in the middle of the night.”
“Giles agreed with me.”
“Giles worries about you.”
“And you wouldn’t?”
“Well, yeah, but that’s different.”
“You must not be too worried.”
“Because you left Dawn and Xander there.”
“If I took them with me, it’d be obvious I really had been there. We’ve got look alikes around the world, Graham, for just this reason.”
“It blows me away sometimes.”
“That you’re girlfriend is on the Top One Most Wanted List by all the demons, vampires, and the US government?”
“Well, yeah. Put like that.”
"I tried telling you. I'm destructo girl. Maybe it won't be on Sunnydale scale next time, but there will be a next time. Another government, another agency will have us on their radar. I guess you can say the secrecy thing is pretty much blown now."
"You know, I'd think less of you for saying that, as if that was all you cared about. Except I know you're concerned for those girls."
"Of course I am. They're my girls. Each and every one of them. I made them this way. I take full responsibility for that, and each time one dies or is injured I have to take that with me to my own grave. Assuming Willow lets me stay dead the next time."
Graham chuckled, wrapping his arms around her tighter. He was way more comfortable on his leg now. She noticed a limp now and again, but it was usually when he was tired and had to think about walking. Or so it seemed to her anyway.
"I know. It was a compliment, Buffy. I wonder if you even realize what you look like to someone like me. You're so generous."
"Pfft, I am not."
"You took me in without question. For all you knew I could have been a plant."
"I only knew you weren't because Riley wouldn't do it that way."
"Riley isn't in charge."
She turned to face him, cupping his face. "No, but you wouldn't have done it either for that reason. You're an honest guy."
She shook her head. "You wouldn't have followed those orders, Graham. If I was a faceless stranger, maybe, but you know the risks I take every day."
"Yeah, I do. But that doesn't change the fact you're the most generous person I know. Giving, always giving. Training these girls, giving them shelter if they choose to work with you, and leaving on a moment's notice so that no one else is in danger."
"I changed their lives, the least I can do is see to it that they know what they are. What I did to them. And who it was that did it to them. I've met each and every one. It might not have been until after they'd gotten to London and were set for training, but I've met them all."
"Of course you have. You're arguing my point for me. I like when you do that."
She laughed then, leaning in to kiss him. "I'll just bet you do."
"So, how long do we have to stay in Oslo anyway?"
"I'm not sure, Giles will let us know when things cool down. Why?"
"I don't know. I feel kind of like James Bond out here. Satellite phone, just in case. A house that while small-seeming on the outside, has a level below ground that is a fortress."
"That's us Council folk. Sneaky and prepared."
"Yeah, but have you really looked at the arsenal down there?"
"It's stock, Graham. All the safe houses have it."
"To sound childish and like a true boy at heart. It is so cool."
"You want to go play with the toys?"
"We can go play with the toys. We should get you some time in anyway."
"Buffy, I know how to handle weapons."
"I know you do, but it's been a while. And these aren't your weapons. Come on, James Bond, let's go see what we've got down there for you to play with."
"James always gets the girl."
"Yeah, I've heard that about him."
He reached for her, touching her cheek, and bringing her face closer to his. "Do I have you, Buffy?"
She blinked. "You know you do. I'm not going anywhere."
"I'm just making sure I didn't screw it up by having dinner with Riley."
"I don't work that way, Graham. I'm pretty much an all in girl. I'm not going to have sex with someone on a whim."
"And, hey, we'll have plenty of time to figure out the nuances of a new relationship while we're stuck here in freaking Norway."
"What," she said with a pout. "Giles probably did this on purpose. Punishing me somehow. As if it was my fault!"
"So what if we're stuck here?"
"You wouldn't care?"
"Not if you're here. We'll make the best of it, Buffy. Besides, I've heard the nights can get pretty chilly."
"Yeah, and James would always do his best to ensure his woman was kept warm." He kissed her then. Just a gentle kiss, a light brushing of his mouth along hers. It was enough to get her body's attention though.
"Warm is good," she murmured.
"I always thought so."
"And then what?"
"Well, we'll have to figure that out on our own."
"I like that plan."
"We can leave, go back if you want to," she murmured.
"Not a chance. It's a nice place. It's a little rustic, but I've slept in pup tents in the jungle, so I can handle rustic. The view is great. I've got a pretty woman here and all the ammo and weapons I'd ever need to defend my fortress. We're good. I'm in, Buffy."
"All right. Well, let's just see what's what in our little fortress. We may be here a while."
"I still say you're worrying about nothing."
"I know. Better safe than sorry, though."
"You're right. I just wish I could call him. Find out."
Buffy shrugged, settling her hand in his as they walked inside. "You know, London's overrated anyway. There's nothing saying I have to be there all of the time."
"Oh? I just assumed."
"Well, I haven't gone anywhere else because Dawn needs to go to school and stuff. And it's easier, of course, being there to train people, but we've retrieved most of the girls we're going to now. So, I'm stuck with more downtime than I was a few months ago."
"If you're sure."
"Yup, besides, for the first time in a while I have things other than Council business on my mind. And I like it."
"What would that be?"
"You and me and sex and love and maybe in the not too distant future a little Graham or a little Buffy."
He squeezed her hand, she squeezed back.
"I'd like that."
"And I've heard tell that Norway isn't a bad place to raise a family. Because like you said, I've given a lot. I wouldn't object to some Buffy goodness that's not steeped in death and violence."
"I think I'm the man for the job."
"Mm, that's what James Bond always says."
"Yes." "Maybe I should prove it then," he said, leading her to the bedroom. Not that he had to lead her too much, she was there on her own. "And if Giles calls back tomorrow and says you can come back?"
"I'll tell him I'm really liking Oslo and deserve a vacation."
"An extended one," he said as she sat on the bed.
"Yes, definitely of the long variety."
"Well, let's start it out in the right way."
"I thought you wanted to go look at weapons."
"I've got one right here that needs seeing to."
"Oh? Should I look at it?" She cupped the front of his pants with one hand, working the button and zipper with the other hand.
"I'd say so, yes."
"Well, let's have a look. You do know how to use it, don't you?"
He smiled widely at that. "I'm a fast learner, ma'am."
She gave the head a swipe with her tongue. "I'd say you'd best prove it. James wouldn't let his prowess be called into question."
"That James. He's a tiger in bed I've heard."
"Yeah, me, too. Let's give him a run for his money."
"I'm game, babe, I'm game."
When this was all over and she was able to get back to London, Buffy would have to remember to send Riley a thank you card. This was the most assertive, forward he'd been since he'd been in London. Maybe it was because it was just the two of them. Or maybe it was just that he was getting more comfortable with his limitations and accepting that he was still a whole man even if he couldn't do everything he once did.
Who needed Hawaii, Key West or the Bahamas. The temptation to leave their house once in a while to get out and enjoy the sun would be far too great. She liked the idea of being confined with him for days with nothing to do but enjoy one another. So, really Riley had done her a favor, because she probably would have hesitated to bring Graham out into the field for a little while yet. She talked a good talk about getting him out there, but she was emotionally invested now and wouldn't want to see him get hurt or depressed from an inability to perform as he expected himself to.
Here they could go at their own pace. They were miles from town, a good mile from the nearest neighbor. They had the privacy and the land to get a lot of training in without it being in your face, life and death stuff. Yeah, Giles knew what he was doing sending them to Oslo. She should know better than to doubt him anymore. And if they never left she'd be okay with that.
"Besides, you know how to do the important things really, really well," she whispered once he was inside of her again.
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com