***Part 9***

"So, Kenny," Buffy said as they walked toward town. "You don't seem too weirded out by what's going on."

He shrugged, though Buffy noticed he was hanging onto her hand for dear life. "I know you. I mean, not you, but inside you."

"That sounds a little creepy, but I think I know what you mean. My soul, right. Riley's soul?"

"Yes. You look very different than Mama, but he doesn't look so different."

"I noticed that, too," Buffy said. And she had. It wasn't an uncanny resemblance or anything, but Riley definitely looked more like Daniel than Buffy did Caroline. She wondered why that was.

Once at her house she was surprised her mother accepted Kincaide with the barest of explanations. Buffy had no idea why he was here, maybe he was in danger. If so, leaving him with her mom was the safest idea Buffy could come up with.

"Are you sure he's going to be all right, Buffy?"

"No, Mom, I don't. I don't know what's going on at all. But I can't research with him along. That's my next stop, Giles'. I just need you to keep an eye on him, feed him or whatever seven year olds need."

"All right, I'm doing a lot on faith here."

"I know you are, Mom, and I love you for it." She kissed her mom on the cheek and then went to say goodbye to Kincaide.

"Kenny, I have to go try and find out what you're doing here. How to get you back to Shady Oaks. You'll be okay with my mom, okay?"

He nodded, eyes wide. He seemed to trust her, it was more than Buffy had hoped for and probably more than she'd do if the situations were reversed. "I'll be back as soon as I can for you. But you'll be safe here. Mom will get you cookies or something I'm sure." She frowned, wondering if he would go back to his own time spoiled with stuff he got and saw here. Feeling maternal for whatever reason she brushed back his bangs from his forehead and kissed him lightly there. "I'll see you later."

"Riley, too?"

"Yes, we can't very well do this without him, can we?"


"Okay," she said ruffling his hair before she left the house. She felt a little bad laying this in her mom's lap but it wasn't as if she had another choice.

It wasn't long and she found herself at Giles'. She walked in after a light knock.


"Good morning, Buffy. You're up and out early. Don't you have class this morning?"

"I do yeah, but I have some weirdness going on."


"Yes. And I need you to explain what soul mates are exactly." It took longer than she thought to explain the situation to him. He was very interested in her dreams. She told him what she remembered, said she'd look over her journal and let him know if she left out any details.

"I think bringing him to your mother's was the wisest decision. Who knows what this could mean?"

"So what does a soul mate mean, Giles? I mean, I thought, I assumed, mine was Angel."

"Mm, yes, that must be a difficult thing to come to terms with. That certainly does not mean you did not love him, Buffy. Or that your love meant less. There is only one soul mate for each person. Some speculate that if soul mates are not requited during the life they were created in, that they will continue searching for one another. It sounds as if perhaps something happened to keep Daniel and Caroline apart. You've had no dreams post the baby?"

"No, but Kenny says they were married."

"Hmm, okay. I don't know, Buffy. Another possibility may simply be that rather than unfinished business or unrequited love now that you two are near one another your souls wish to be complete again."

"I don't get it."

"Well, I certainly don't either. You're dealing with mystical, spiritual forces that I'm not sure anyone understands. Do you like this Riley?"

"Well, yeah, I don't know him well enough to say he's my soul mate."

"Yes, well, unfortunately, I'm not sure that plays any part in the decision. And this could be the fates at work if you two are staying apart despite their efforts to put you together. I mean the statistics of someone actually finding their soul mate. The one in all of the world that is the other half to their soul, that completes them. Well, the odds are against you. Not that you couldn't find love without it. Clearly, not every marriage or relationship is one involving soul mates. I'd like to meet him."

"Do you think that's wise? Is this because I'm the slayer? I mean, would this be happening to me if I wasn't?"

"Again, I don't know, Buffy. We're branching into unfamiliar territory. There are some things that are just rumor, speculation, there are no books or texts covering it."

"Should we tell him I'm the slayer?"

"Now, Buffy."

"No, just hear me out. What if this has something to do with my being the slayer? What if he's in danger somehow?"

"Riley or Kincaide?"

"Both of them."

"I think the wisest course of action would be to explore your feelings without exposing your identity. Just because your souls recognize each other does not mean you have to force yourself to be with him."

"Well, I do like him."

"Just exercise caution, Buffy. I don't know what else to tell you, but I will look into it."

"Thank you. So, do I leave him at my mom's?"

"I guess I would, maybe you can spend the night there. Or bring Riley with you to see him, keep him at ease. You're strangers. It's your ethereal beings he recognizes, not you, so being near him should offer him comfort. And Joyce won't supply that, beyond the fact that she's a nurturer."

"So, I'm supposed to go to class, patrol and now be responsible for a seven year old kid."

"It would seem so."

"Just making sure I'm not missing anything."

"You can handle it, Buffy."


"You're welcome."

"Well, I guess I'm back to campus to find Riley and see if I can explain this to him without revealing anything about who I really am."

"I'm sorry, Buffy, I just don't think it's wise just yet. Not until we know more about both him and the boy."

"Yeah, you're right," she said. Things were never easy where she was concerned, at least with relationships. "So this soul thing, is that why I was attracted to him?"

"Possibly. The soul doesn't make the person, Buffy, not entirely. So, I don't think that you would be attracted to a man who was unkind or anything just because your soul recognizes his."

"That's good. Okay, I'll let you know what's going on later."

"Thank you, Buffy, and I appreciate your coming to me immediately with this."

"I've learned my lesson about not telling you stuff."

It wasn't difficult to find Riley. He was where she expected he'd be. His room with his door open, welcoming-like. She liked that about him. He was a friendly guy and he seemed sincere with it, too. It was funny that she couldn't tell that with Parker, but maybe it had taken her experience with Parker to appreciate the real deal. She shut the door once she entered the room, her back flush against it as she looked at him. He sat at his desk, deep in thought or really immersed in the book he was reading.


"Oh Buffy, you scared me."

"Sorry. I thought you heard me."

"No, I was zoning out. You got Kincaide to your mom?"

"Yeah, she doesn't understand, but she was willing to watch him for me. She's used to the weirdness that is Buffy's life so she didn't ask too many questions."

"I'm glad."

"While I was out I stopped and saw a friend of mine from high school. He worked as the librarian there and we kind of became friends. He's quick with the information."


"He has some opinions on what's going on."

"Really? I'd like to hear them."

She walked toward him then. She wasn't sure what made her do it, but almost as if her body had a mind of its own her arms went around him.


"Do you like me, Riley?"

"Well, I thought that was rather obvious in an indirect sort of way."

She smiled at that.

"Do you believe in magic? Mystical things? Prophecies?"

"Um, I'm not sure. I guess I'd have to hear it out first, think it through."

"No leaps of faith?"

"I'm a pretty fact-based guy."

She lowered her mouth to his and kissed him. She felt him jerk away at first but soon he gave in and kissed her back. Kissing Angel had been amazing. She had been able to kiss him for hours and everything around them would fade to black. Nothing prepared her, though, for the feeling she had when she kissed Riley. It wasn't earth shattering or fireworks worthy, but with one touch of her lips to his she knew she was home. It was the oddest feeling. She drew away slowly, not wanting to be separated from him for even a minute.


"Giles believes we're soul mates. Fated to be together once our souls recognized one another."

"Okay, let's just say for a minute I believe that. What's the kid have to do with this?"

"I don't know. I wondered that, too. He said something, Giles I mean, about unfinished business. So, maybe Kincaide is here to see that it gets finished."

"You believe that?"

"I don't see you coming up with any more rational explanations."

"After a kiss like that you're lucky I can talk."

"You felt it too?"

"Felt what? I've never kissed anyone like that if that's what you're asking. I know about Parker, so I understand you can't say the same."

"Oh God, Riley, I just shared something more with you than anything I did with Parker came close to being."


Buffy had to make a quick decision, she just hoped it was the right one. Without thought she was sticking her heart out there to get it torn to pieces again. Her attempts at being assertive girl had backfired on her in the past. Angel had lost his soul, Parker had used her. And while in the back of her mind was the idea that she needed to take things much slower with Riley she couldn't do it. She wasn't sure what this soul mate business was or what it all meant.

She tugged him out of his chair, exerting some of her slayer strength. She gave a soft giggle at the surprised look on his face that she had the ability to do that. If only he knew. She kissed him again, tugging him to the bed while taking his shirt out of his jeans. She fell against the bed, breaking the kiss before she meant to but took advantage of the situation to gaze at him in appreciation. He was nice looking and she could tell that he had not planned on this happening between them. At least not today.

"Buffy, we shouldn't."

"You know, I told my friend that I had a motto when I first met her. Seize the day. You never know when it's going to be your last. You know about Parker, but other than him I don't do this sort of thing. I thought he liked me, he made me believe he did."

"He's good at that."

"I get that now. And I also get that you're not like that."

"No, it's despicable."

"I think so, too." They were talking too much, thinking too hard. She sat up and removed her shirt, tossing it onto the floor by his feet.


"Why don't you join me?"


She sat up further then and tugged on his shirt tails, working the buttons as far up his chest as she could reach. Her hands slid up his stomach. "Impressive," she murmured her eyes never leaving his face. She leaned in to kiss him on the abdomen, her hands following the plains of his chest.

She swirled his belly button with her tongue and chuckled when he reached to undo the rest of his shirt. At least she knew she could be convincing if she wanted to be. Her hands reached for the front of his pants, working the fly. He stepped away then, but his eyes told her he was not going to stop. She reclined on the bed and watched as he kicked off his shoes and began to shed his jeans.

He reached into the drawer of his nightstand. It took him a minute or two to find what he sought, which made Buffy feel good. If they weren't right there at his reach it meant he didn't do this every night.

"You're sure?"

"Never more sure," she whispered, removing her skirt. She sat up to remove her shoes but he stopped her by placing a hand on her foot.


"Okay," she whispered. She was about to ask him if he had a shoe fetish or something when he moved to the foot of the bed and slipped her shoes off himself. He rubbed each foot, bringing it to his mouth to kiss the tip of her big toe before moving to the other foot.

"I knew you were beautiful. I dreamt about you. You, not her, but I'm happy to report my dreams didn't come close to the real thing, Buffy. You're," he shook his head, rubbing the side of his face against her calf before releasing it and joining her on the bed. "Perfect."

"I'm not," she whispered, though his words warmed her right down to her soul.

"To me you are. Beautiful, strong, smart."

"Now I know you're full of it."

"Don't talk about yourself that way. You get distracted easily, but you're not dumb. And if these dreams we've been having are the reason you've been slacking off in Psych class lately, I can't blame you. I was having them, too."

He slanted his mouth over hers, Buffy welcomed the kiss. Welcomed his hands as they explored her body. She knew she was deceptively strong. She didn't look like one of those triathlon athletes or a Ms. Olympia candidate. She looked like a normal girl. It was part of what gave her an advantage against the things she fought, they didn't see her as posing much of a threat.

She felt him sheath himself with the protection and shift his body on top of hers. She welcomed him instinctively, a soft groan emitting from her when he was inside of her. It was apparent that he was probably no more experienced than she was, but he took his time. There was nothing speedy or rushed about it and she relished in it, basked in his gentleness, his attention coming close to worship. She arched against him as he slid deeper inside of her, followed by a gasp as he continued to heighten her pleasure before bringing her over the edge. It wasn't long afterward that he followed.

She felt cherished, loved, whole and relished being able to bask in the afterglow that was him petting and kissing her. It was almost as if he didn't believe she was real. She understood that.

Distantly, she was aware of the sound of her pager going off. She forced her mind to rejoin her body and shifted on the bed, turning to face him. She draped a leg over his and ran a finger along his jaw. "I have to get that."

"I know."

"It could be my mom, or my friend with information."

"It's okay, Buffy, I don't think you planned this and had someone page you to bail on me. I realize I was probably a somewhat sure thing, but I hope I wasn't that transparent."

"No," she said with a laugh, kissing him lightly before leaving the bed. She found her pager and drew his discarded shirt on as she sat at his desk to use his phone. She dialed the number, glancing at Riley who was watching her intently. His arms were behind his head, propped up on the pillow. He looked like he wanted to start all over again, and she had to admit her body and mind were more than willing to go along with that idea. She just hoped there wasn't something wrong.

"Hi Willow."

"Hi Buffy, sorry to bother you, but your mom called. It sounded kind of important. She wouldn't say anything, but said it was about Kenny."


"I'm assuming that means something to you because I was racking my brain while waiting for you to call back and I don't know anyone named Kenny."

"Yes, I'll explain later, Will."

"You'd better. I don't like feeling out of the loop."

"Never, I just haven't seen you."

"Okay. I'll see you later."

"Should I ask where you are?"


"Oh really?" Buffy could tell even over the phone what the unspoken question was.

"I'll tell you later."

"I want details!"

"All right. I'm going to call Mom."

"Okay, bye Buffy."

Buffy hung up and dialed her home number. Her mom answered on the third ring. "Hi Mom."

"Hi, Buffy."

"What's up?"

"I'm glad Willow was in your room, I looked for your pager number but it's gone. It must have fallen off the refrigerator and gotten thrown away."

"It's okay, Mom, what's up?"

"It's Kenny."

"What about him?"

"He's gone."


"He's gone, Buffy. One minute he was here, the next minute he was gone."

"What do you mean gone?"

"I mean, Buffy, he was sitting in the kitchen eating a grilled cheese sandwich and then he wasn't there anymore."

"Okay. Um."

"Is he okay, Buffy?"

"Did he say anything?"

"Well, no, but for the past hour or so he was acting very strange. Like he couldn't concentrate."

"The past hour?" Buffy asked, glancing at Riley's clock. It was about an hour ago that they had started. Could that be it?

"Yes. About that. Until then, he was fine. He didn't want to watch TV, but he sort of followed me around asking me about the different things in the house. But then he just sort of stopped. I made him the sandwich thinking he was hungry or something."

"You did fine, Mom."

"You think he's gone or did something happen?"

"I don't know. I'll call Giles and tell him."

"Okay, Buffy, I'm sorry."

"It's okay, Mom. You didn't do anything wrong."

"I just feel like I let you down. You never ask anything of me when it comes to your slaying."

"Mom, it's okay. I think I have an idea but I'll talk to Giles. I'll see you on Thursday for dinner." Her eyes flicked to Riley then and she smiled at him since he was still watching her. "I'm bringing someone."

"Oh really?"


"I'll set the table for three then. Good night, Buffy."

"Night, Mom."

She set the phone on the cradle and glanced at Riley.

"He's gone."

"How'd you guess?"

"I'm pretty good at filling in the blanks."

"I need to call my friend, the one I mentioned earlier and tell him."

"Okay. You look like you need some privacy. I'll head to the bathroom and come back in a few minutes."


He slid a pair of sweatpants on and sat forward on the bed to kiss her. "I think I'd do about anything you asked looking as you do wearing my shirt."


"The fact I know what you have, or don't have, underneath helps too."

"I'll keep that in mind."

He stood, bringing the shirt front together, his knuckles brushing against her breasts. "Oh, I'll remind you, don't worry."

She dialed Giles' number once Riley had left the room and relayed the information to him. He was perplexed until she'd informed him of what she and Riley had done that afternoon.

"Well, perhaps that was his purpose. It sounds as if you two were fighting your attraction to one another, so maybe the powers thought you needed a little push."

"They want me with Riley?"

"It would appear so."

She nibbled on her lower lip, that thought had occurred to her when she heard the news from her mom. "Okay, Giles, I'm going to go, I'm on his phone."

"Okay, Buffy, be careful."

"I will be."

She set the phone down and went to the bed. She opened the nightstand and drew out a second packet, sliding it into the shirtfront pocket of his shirt before laying on the bed waiting for him to come back.

"Wow. I thought for a minute I'd imagined the whole afternoon."

"Nope, you've really got Buffy in your bed."

"I don't think I'll ever get tired of that."

"Really?" she asked as he joined her on the bed.

He kissed her, touching her jaw and neck before his hand drifted lower. She knew as soon as he found the packet in the pocket.

"Are you trying to tell me something, Miss Summers?"

"I believe I am."

"Well then. Us farm boys don't leave a task unfinished."

"Is that right?"

"Let me show you."

"Actions do speak louder than words."

"So, I've heard."

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