Notes and disclaimers: All big corporate entities, not owned by me. No profit garnered ever. Thanks to Tigs. Title from Edna St. Vincent Millay.


Connor's just watching Buffy's ass as she crawls through the ventilation pipe and he has to say something to distract himself. "Isn't this technically illegal?"

"We're crawling through the ceiling, Connor, that's usually not even technically okely-dokely."

"Sometimes it is," he says.

"We're not wearing blue jumpsuits," Buffy says.

Thank all the powers that be for that, he thinks. Buffy is actually wearing very very tight jeans. There is no visible panty line and he has a lot of visibility from here.

He knows it's a little silly to still be leering like the closest he gets to a girl's ass is a subscription to Maxim. Or free internet porn. He's seen Buffy naked, with her knowing about it and everything. He'd laugh but Buffy would ask why and he doesn't like to remind her that he's the younger guy. She didn't laugh at all that time he called her a cougar.

Buffy says, "Is this the smell?"

He will not say 'huh' or babble like an idiot because he was thinking about sex. He takes a deep breath and smells and remembers Dawn's postcard about the prophecy and markers and stuff. Disguised as a recipe she just had to send from somewhere in South Carolina, which was pretty lame. Another thing he's not going to say out loud because no one makes fun of the Summers girls except the Summers girls.

"This is the smell," he says confidently. "You want to kick out the vent or, what?"

She's grimacing when she looks back at him.

"Or we can look for an easier way out so we're not jumping down into some ambiguous mystical hotspot."

"That smells," Buffy says. "I don't think we should forget the smell."

"Okay, but you can't even tell it smells," Connor says. "Also, I think that one leads to the room next to the room we want."

"I don't want any room," Buffy says. She wrenches the exit vent grill from the wall with a grimace and puts it to the side. "I know I'm very complain-y Buffy, but it seems like there are way better things we could be doing right now."

"You're not complaining that much," he says. "You've totally complained a lot more at other times."

"You make me sound so darned pleasant," Buffy says. "You go first."

He slips by her and drops to the floor. A quick scan tells him he's in a very nondescript cubicle laden room. He almost says "Dwight?" but instead he holds up his hand to help Buffy down.

"I can do it myself," she says, landing next to him. "Ha, places like these always make me want to check if I have enough flare. You know, Office Space."

"I was thinking the Office," he says. "Also, Jennifer Aniston worked at a restaurant, not in the cubicle office."

"Yeah, and I've worked as a waitress, and given the choice of all those characters, of course I'd identify with Jennifer Aniston. I love her hair," Buffy says.

Connor tries to think of some witty reply but it's not like Buffy doesn't know he's a dork. So he starts to look around for the book disguised as a textbook they're supposed to be looking for, the one with the smell.

That's when the bomb goes off.


Buffy holds up the postcard from Dawn then starts waving it around like a Polaroid picture. She took off her tank top right before she got in the bed, so he's not so much looking at the postcard as watching Buffy's breasts move as she straddles his chest.

"Totally not listening, huh?" She smiles and puts the postcard on the bedside table. "You never pay attention when I'm wearing this shirt." She covers her breasts with her hands. "Can you hear me now?"

"I'm totally paying attention," he says. All of him is paying attention. "I'm just not paying attention to that postcard. I really like that shirt." He pulls her hands off and she doesn't even try to stop him. "Really, a lot."

"We have to deal with this tomorrow," she says. "Or after we're done here. Tell me you're listening now or I actually will put on clothes. And I don't want to do that."

"In an hour or two, possibly three, we will talk about the postcard from Dawn," Connor says. He wishes he had someone to tell that he's sort of proud of himself for having learned her body well enough that she's ready just from his hands on her breasts. And what he's doing with his hands. But he's pretty sure she'd kill him if he talked about sex with her with anyone else. So he's just proud to himself. He's also really interested in taking advantage of her being turned on.

"Postcard from Dawn," she says. "Also, three hours? Who do you think you are, Sting? And ouch. One time there was this haunted house --"

"Stop," he says.

"Okay," she says.

He thinks, this already happened. This happened last night. And when he remembers that, everything starts to hurt. There was a bomb, he thinks. An explosion.

He opens his eyes. Besides the pain, he has no wounds he can see. He's landed flat on his back on a pile of crap that used to be cubicles and computers and ugly grey rug.


She's under a desk, under more rubble. But he's close enough to see she's breathing. As he rushes over, her eyes open and she swears. Way more than she usually does and for much longer.

He says, "I think someone else decided to destroy the book." He lifts the desk off her.

There's a piece of metal going right through her forearm. He fights the urge to vomit, he's so grossed out because it's her. He squats down next to her and says, "How are you feeling?"

"Like I have a stake through my fucking arm," she says. She looks over at her arm and then up at him. "Oops, not a stake."

"What do we do?"

"I think you should pull that out," Buffy says. "Right now, before I --" He pulls it out.

She sits up and starts swearing again. He presses on either side of the wound. "Are you sure that was a good idea?"

"I can heal," she says. She grits her teeth. "I think we need to get out of here before there's more boom boom."

"Okay," he says. "Promise not to get upset?" He lifts her up. "You'd do this for me."

"I wouldn't stop and ask you to stop being upset," she says. He's already running towards where he smells the night and less soot and smoky air. He can't do his full speed but it's faster than Buffy could go even without the gaping hole in her arm.

She says, "If you had this kind of hurt, you'd be all ow ow ow everything hurts whineypants."

"I'd be stoic," he says. He jumps down about 25 feet to the parking lot and starts walking. "I'd totally be stoic."

"You wouldn't," Buffy says. She's holding her arm and wincing. "We're sure the book is bits of dust now, right? Cause Dawn had this whole thing we were supposed to do."

"I think she just thought bomb planting was a little more than we had time for on a Saturday night."

He hopes so because he's not going back into what's left of the building. He's carried her about a hundred feet away from there. He keeps staring back at the smoke and wondering if he'll see who planted the bomb or the book walking around or something. But there's nothing and all he smells is normal. Normal for the situation.

"I think we're okay," Buffy says. "No book, you can put me down."

"That sounded a little whineypants," he says.

"Shut up," she says. Her arm already looks better.

"Someone went really far to get that book gone," he says.

"Or they really hated their jobs, like Office Space," she says.

"Works out for us," he says.

"I could have used some warning," Buffy says. "Home now."

He says a silent thanks he decided to park four blocks away. And another that Buffy's not seriously hurt. He says, "We're okely-dokely, right?"

"Totally," she says. "Some sleep and I'll be all good. Even okely-dokely, you big dork. And in the morning, you can try to be half-Sting again."

"Okay, good," he says. "Good."

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