Chapter Nine - This Little Game I Play

The night was dark and cold and there was barely a star visible in the sky. Buffy and Xander were out on night patrol, and were wishing that they were home and warm. It had been two hours since Buffy had staked a vampire trying to get out of its grave and in those two hours, Xander thought he was going to die of cold.

"Full moon's coming soon, Oz better lock himself in his house, again," thought Xander aloud, looking at the only visible object in the sky, the moon, as his teeth chattered a bit.

Buffy, with her slayer abilities, wasn't as cold as Xander, who was shivering like a cute kitten in the storm. With a sigh, her breath was a swirl of cloud in the night, she glanced at him and asked, "Xander, if you're so cold, why did you volunteer to come and help me patrol? It's a Saturday night and you could be warm and cozy in the Bronze, and…"

"And alone," finished Xander, "Buffy, I'd rather be out here with you freezing, then being stuck at the Bronze for another Saturday night, watching Cordelia groping with Colin."

"Gee, Xander, you sure know how to make a girl feel special," said Buffy sarcastically with a smile.

"You know what I mean, Buffy," he said giving her a Look.

"Yes, I know what you mean, Xander," said Buffy nodding her head, "But you've got to stop agonizing over Cordelia. I mean, the more pitiful you look the more she'll think you're suffering. Are you suffering, Xander?"

"Suffering from what? Post Cordy Syndrome?" asked Xander raising his eyebrows. "No…maybe a little angry and a little disappointed, but no, I'm not suffering."

"Then, why all this agonizing over her?" asked Buffy, who still thought it a wonder that he had even been with her in the first place. "What is it that you find in her that's making you go totally maxi-wig over everything, lately?"

"I don't know, I guess with Cordelia, I had, and I stress the word, had, security," replied Xander, and Buffy frowned.

"What do you mean, Xander? By security?" asked Buffy glancing at his face in confusion.

"You wouldn't understand," he said shaking his head, and Buffy knew not to ask any further.

It had been three weeks since Xander had broken up with Cordelia and in those three weeks, Xander was seemingly hanging out with her…a lot. Not that she minded, not in the least. She rather liked having him around more often it was…nice. It was just that she was so confused about everything, and about how she felt. She knew that her feelings for Xander were evolving, but to what it was evolving to was beyond her. Deep down inside, she knew that her answer could be found in something so simple and so powerful, but it was something that she knew she wouldn't be able to have, at least not from him. She needed to be kissed again.

Buffy hadn't forgotten their first kiss, nor did she think she'd ever forget such a kiss. His warm lips pressed so gently against her own, sending a wave of electricity down her spine that jolted her entire self. With every racing heartbeat she felt something that succeeded passion and crushed the boundaries between two souls. Was what she felt... could it be... could she now after Angel have truly found... love? But how could she tell so much from just that one kiss and a planned kiss at that. That was why she needed to feel his lips against hers feel that it wasn't just passion or the heat of the moment or just the spell, itself, and most of all, to see if she could discover her heart again. She needed all this to find what Xander had known ever since he first saw her.

There was so much confusion within her mind and her heart that they both had begun to crash into something that was slowly, but surely becoming more than she thought she could handle. It wasn't as if Xander was in his normal-frame of mind, whatever that may be, either, for he was in a state of confusion himself. He was free from his bondage with Cordelia, and free to love Buffy, but was Buffy unbound, too? Or was she still clinging onto a hope and a love that was in the lost Angel...her lost Angel? Every time Xander looked at Buffy, he just wanted to kiss her again, and hold her close...and never let go. But he couldn't hold her and he couldn't kiss her. All he could do was love her.

As Buffy and Xander became immersed in their thoughts, a silence had grown between them. When they came back to reality, it was rather awkward, but it wasn't awkward for long. Suddenly a vampire crawled out of its grave in a dirty black suit and grabbed Buffy's leg. Buffy kicked the vampire off of her leg and then punched it squarely in its fanged face.

"Bye," said Buffy before she staked it, causing it to fall into ashes on the dewy grass beside the empty grave.

"I wonder how many of these graves are really empty," said Xander as Buffy stood up.

"Too many to count, Xander, too many to count," said Buffy with a sigh as she and Xander began walking to another section of the graveyard.

In the distance, a pair of evil eyes watched them intently them. A smile of evil contempt fell on Angelus' lips, as he read their minds through their actions. As they walked away from his viewpoint, a mental picture began to become twisted in his wicked thoughts.

"So my lover's gotten over me already? And for who else but the White Knight that hates me so greatly?" whispered Angelus in the night, "She has fallen, but she'll fall even harder. After all, this is all part of this little game I play, in which I'm bound to win, especially when she sees her gallant white knight, dead and in the ground..."