By Gail Christison
TITLE: Blue Eyes
Author: Gail Christison
Disclaimer: Joss owns everything even if he isn't playing very nice at the moment :-)
SUMMARY: Epilogue to Where The Wild Things Are..some days later...Willow challenges Buffy's attitude to Giles resulting in....well, that's for you to find out <g>
FEEDBACK: Always :-)
Author's Notes: Thanks to Karen once again and this is also for Lisa Beth, for reminding me why I love to write B/G...
"...You should have been there, Buffy. It was the
most incredible thing. He just keeps getting better and..."
Buffy rolled her eyes again. She wanted to snuggle down and go to sleep. Since 'the incident,' she hadn't slept very well, and this was the third time Willow had brought up the subject of Giles' new job.
"Whatever," she muttered, sliding down under her covers.
Willow frowned. "Why did you say Giles singing was creepy?" she asked suddenly.
Buffy looked over at her from pillow-level. That was unexpected. "Because it is...?" she offered facetiously.
"Buffy," Willow growled, in a tone she only used when she was really ticked. Buffy reluctantly pushed herself up onto an elbow.
"This is Giles we're talking about, Will. Not Ronan Keating or Ricky Martin. Giles. Singing. Earring. Giles."
"And...?" Willow demanded. "You know, I'm tired of you dumping on Giles. You treat him like he's sixty instead of still being a 'guy' guy." Another frown appeared between her brows for a moment then she focused on Buffy again. "Did you notice that you only dump on him when someone else says something nice, like how sexy he is...? It's like you only notice him when someone else wants him."
"Eieww! You...WANT Giles? Willow, you need help!"
Willow's mouth drew into a flat line. "See what I mean? You did it when Faith was being nice to him. You did it when Jenny was around. Now you're doing it with me. For all I know you did it when Olivia was around too."
Buffy suddenly became very interested in a piece of lint on her blanket.
"You're kidding? What did you say to him?" She was disappointed but not surprised.
Buffy shrugged. "That he was very, very old, and it was gross."
Willow snorted. "You know, you can be a real bitca, sometimes."
Normally Buffy would have laughed at Willow's use of Xander's joke word, but this time she looked up at her friend uncomfortably. "It's Giles..." she said helplessly.
"And Giles is...? Come on, Buffy. Just for once I want a straight answer. I'm tired of the big productions every time someone actually sees Giles as a guy instead of just this... this...whatever it is you and Xander think he is. At least I know Xander really loves him..."
Buffy rolled her eyes again. "Gross, Will."
"Shut up, Buffy," she snapped, wishing she hadn't started the whole discussion in the first place. "If Giles hadn't been there these last three years, do you think Xander would have made it to graduation? The only reason he didn't let his father push him out into a job, or just plain give up, is because he didn't want Giles to be disappointed in him."
"You wouldn't let him do that, either, Will."
"I would have tried to talk him out of it, but Giles didn't have to say anything."
Buffy seemed to look inward for a moment. "No, I guess not," she said softly. "He mostly doesn't, does he?"
"Have to say anything..."
Willow's expression softened a little. "No, he doesn't. That's the thing about Giles. We all love him, and we all take him for granted."
"Love him...?" Buffy said softly, trying out the words. She looked inward again, then up at her friend. "You really love him...you and Xand?"
Willow nodded. "And so do you, whether you see it or not."
Buffy's eyes widened a little, a thousand small moments from the last three years pouring through her mind at the speed of light, then spinning down like a roulette wheel and coming to a halt on just one...
The clear, undiminished memory of her fear as she stood at his door at the end of that terrible summer, waiting for it to open, hung, vivid in her mind. Then the door opened...and she could see his face...and remember the endless moment that followed...
"I see it," she whispered, finally. She rarely let herself remember that moment. It only made what she'd done seem even worse. "What happened to us, Will?"
Willow wasn't completely sure who 'us' was, or if Buffy even knew who she meant.
"Everything," she said quietly. "Angel came back. Faith came," she rolled her eyes. "You and Giles quitting the Council...the world almost ending again there, a time or two, er... three; growing up..."
Buffy scowled. "I don't think I like growing up very much. I'm not good at it."
Willow smiled wryly. "Everyone's noticed. You've been so weird since we started college. Scary, almost."
"It's true. You were more...together...more grown up...back when you started at Sunnydale, Buff. Since we started college...I don't know what happened to you...but you're not you any more."
"I'm not? I mean, I'm not," Buffy frowned. "I know I'm different. But I'm really trying. I'm trying to be grown-up, take charge Slay-girl, fun college girl and everything, and..."
"It's not working," Willow said succinctly.
Buffy stopped babbling. "I know," she said unhappily. "I can't be everything. I just don't have the stuff to go around, you know? If I have to get the job done I can't risk falling to pieces because I'm scared..." A memory of Giles in terrible pain, both physical and emotional, vivid, horrible scratches standing out on his face, while she made herself calmly plan to save the world yet again, twisted her insides. "And I get so scared..."
"Is that supposed to explain why you stopped having time for any of us, especially Giles? Why you suddenly became GI-Buffy and we all got so invisible?"
Buffy looked away. "You're not going to let me forget that, are you?"
Willow shook her head. "Nope. It hurt, Buffy. A-And not just me...I mean, I know I was having my own wallow-fest there for a while, y'know, after Oz, but you...you hurt everyone, especially Giles."
"Especially Giles? I thought...after he did the big demon thing...that he was just mad about being out of the loop? That I needed to talk to him more about stuff-"
Willow slid out of bed suddenly and prowled across to her computer, her fists clenched. Finally she turned back to her friend.
"What's wrong with you?" she demanded, her voice a mixture of anger and despondency. "He...he loves you and you...you treat him like...like crap," she yelled, suddenly, unexpectedly.
Buffy sat up straight, shocked at the strength of Willow's feelings. She'd heard Willow swear before, but it wasn't normally the girl's weapon of choice for dealing with issues.
And then it slowly began to sink in.
He loves you...
She closed her eyes. Of course she knew. She knew only too well...had known since her eighteenth birthday, if she hadn't already known long before that...
A memory of Giles hitting the floor with a thud and Jenny Calendar looking up at her appeared from nowhere...
...Giles who, even then, had been willing to die for her...
Buffy opened her eyes and faced her friend, who had returned to sit cross-legged on her bed.
"He loves you too, Will. He'd never say so in a million years, but he cares about all of us," Buffy said slowly. "We're...all of us...we're family...more even than blood. I mean, let's face, it our own families aren't exactly Brady Bunch material..."
Willow sighed. She should have known Buffy wasn't as clueless as she appeared to be.
"You know that only makes it worse," she said quietly.
"That you've known all along how much he cares about you, and you still did what you did ...what you've done...to him. You know what I mean!"
Buffy screwed up her face. "Not really, Will," she said dryly. "But I'm guessing you're going to tell me anyway."
"Damned right!" Willow scowled. "Maggie Walsh for one...since when is-was she smarter or better than Giles? And the Initiative for two; three years we were a team, the four of us. We may not have had guns and radar and all that hi-tech stuff...but we always got things done...And you dump us without even so much as a 'what do you think?' for the testosterone patrol...shoot first and 'uh, what's a question?'" she mugged and rolled her eyes. "You as good as told us all we were obsolete, not good enough for you...and you hurt him, Buffy. You hurt him bad."
It was Buffy's turn to get up and prowl the room. "How can you know that? Giles doesn't-"
"He does," Willow said quietly. "If you're there to listen. He may not advertise like we do, but he gets lonely, he hurts and he needs to talk, like anyone else."
"And he talks to you?" Buffy demanded angrily.
"Sometimes," Willow retorted. "A little...when we're researching, or even...when I make cookies..."
Buffy stopped suddenly. "You're still making cookies?"
Willow coloured violently. "I have very deep guilt...a-and he likes them. I-It'll bottom out soon. Besides we're not talking about cookies. We're talking about Giles noticing the big Buffy no-shows...the big Buffy no-caring. I heard you, you know."
Buffy put her hands on her hips. Willow upset was harder to follow than an invisible demon. "Heard what?"
"At your birthday. I heard what you said to him."
Buffy shook her head helplessly. "Said what? I didn't say anything..."
Willow's eyes glistened and red splashes glowed in her pale cheeks. "You said Maggie was the smartest person you knew...and why would anyone who's forty want to hang around a bunch of kids..."
"Well why would...? Oh..." Buffy's righteous indignation drained away leaving a hollow in the pit of her stomach. "God, Willow, can't you, like, stuff something in my mouth when I'm being that big of a moron?" She stopped to remember the rest. "Oh, no. Riley asked him if he was retired...and later, Professor Walsh...No wonder he was so..."
"Yeah," Willow said. "He was so...and where were you?"
Buffy shifted uncomfortably. "Trying to get a life...trying to make sense of mine..."
Willow looked at her speculatively, anger making the green eyes flash and the red patches in her cheeks burn even brighter.
"With Riley? You know, it's not my place to say this, but frankly I don't give a flying f...er...leap, any more. The truth is, you're not being fair to Riley, either."
"Oh...really?" Buffy said dangerously.
Willow, however, didn't care. "You're just using him...you...you know he won't hurt you...you know he loves you and you can play the love game all you want without getting hurt yourself because you don't love him. It's mean, Buffy."
Buffy's blue eyes clouded and her mouth set mutinously. "I love Riley."
Willow shook her head. "He's like Parker...just there so you don't have to be alone. With Angel there was passion, there was chemistry...with Riley it's like two little kids playing sweethearts...no fire...like none of it's real, at least not to you."
"I love Riley," Buffy said again, but it sounded hollow even to her ears.
Willow sighed heavily. It was going to take more than talking to wake her friend up.
"You know," she said, resigned, "this discussion is going nowhere and we were turning in early for a reason." She opened the bedside drawer and took out a miniature cassette player, stood it on her side table. "Tara and I went to see him again the other night. I made this so I'd have something...in case he quits or something." She pushed the play button, turned off her overhead light and curled up in her blankets.
Buffy, who hadn't bothered to turn on her own overhead light, stood silently in the dark, listening to the gentle voice and the lonely notes of the accompanying guitar.
When, eventually, she turned and picked up her jeans from the end of her bed, the moonlight streaming in the window glinted on moisture, sparkling like silver shards on the smooth, pale cheeks...
* * * *
* * * *
"I'm sorry, Giles," she said quietly,
"really sorry...it's just, 'take charge girl,' you know...Buffy trying to
stand on her own two feet and tripping over them instead. I never meant to hurt
"And that helps no end," he snorted and finally faced her. "Why did you come, Buffy? What do you want from me now?" he demanded, his tone growing harsher and harsher.
"Riley busy tonight?"
She stepped back. "Riley has nothing to do with this."
He went and deliberately poured another drink, threw it back, turned slowly. "No I don't suppose he has."
Her eyes narrowed. "You don't think it's real, either."
"I beg your pardon?"
She stared at him for a long moment debating whether to answer or not.
"Willow says I don't love him. That I'm with Riley because he can't hurt me."
Giles was suddenly very glad of the second drink. "And you?" he managed, surprisingly calmly.
"I thought he was the answer to everything," she said slowly. "He's sweet and gentle, strong and funny...and he'd never..." She looked up suddenly, her voice tapering off into stunned silence. "No...I don't love him," she managed, startled at her own honesty, her voice little more than a dry whisper.
Giles neither moved nor spoke, searching her face for answers, his soft green eyes, his handsome features gradually relaxing back into the strong, gentle lines she knew.
Buffy swallowed, clenched her fists to stop her hands from trembling. Willows words echoed crazily through her thoughts...He loves you...he loves you...he loves you...he loves you...
And you love him, whether you see it or not...
I see it...
"I'm sorry to bother you," she half choked, mortified, and fled toward the door.
Before she could get it all the way open, however, two large hands took hold of her shoulders so that she froze and let it close again.
Giles' fingers continued to hold her gently as she stood, her eyes closed, trying to understand the maelstrom of emotions and feelings racing through her. She didn't know who she was any more...
His hands were warm and strong on her shoulders and when she started to tremble as the enormity of it all began to hit her, they drew her back against his equally warm, strong body.
A part of her wanted to pull away, to run, to scream 'no' at the top of her lungs. Instead she let herself relax into the warmth of him and leaned her head back against his chest, her trembling ceasing as his arms drew around her, covering her hands and holding them gently against her waist.
For the longest time they stayed like that, she too confused to do anything but stay there, safe and warm and comforted, and he too afraid to move, to let go...
In the end it was Buffy, unable to stand it any longer, who turned slowly in his arms and looked up at him, her eyes large and luminous, and widening even more when they saw his face.
She reached up and touched the corner of one eye. "They're so blue," she said tremulously as they closed and he made the smallest of noises in his throat. Surprised, she let her fingers trail experimentally down the side of his face, felt the tremor that went through his body and the answering one that went through hers.
"Willow said I loved you," she said softly, tracing his jaw with her fingertips, "and...and that you loved me..."
His eyes opened suddenly, everything he was, everything he was feeling in those intense green pools.
Buffy almost drowned in them before she realised that he was doing the same in hers. Gradually the hurt subsided and they suffused with warmth, and Buffy knew then that he had seen into her soul.
"I love you," she whispered. "I love you," she repeated, louder, and again, more desperately, as her arms slid around his neck, and his around her, lifting her off the ground. "I love you!"
"Buffy..." Giles breathed as their mouths met, his covering hers possessively, demandingly and hers responding hungrily, desperately, trying to tell him everything she could never say with words.
It took forever for them to finally part, neither able to bear to relinquish the other. Finally, Giles lifted his head, and, suddenly self-conscious, allowed her to slide down.
The glow faded from her face and she started to step uncertainly away, only to have her hands caught by his, drawing her back, close to him again. He took her face in his hands.
"Are you sure...?" he demanded hoarsely.
She nodded against his long fingers and watched the slow smile that lit up his face.
"I love you so much." She reached up and touched his mouth. "I wanted to hurt you for not being there...for hurting me...I'm sorry...sorry about all of it."
"I never meant to hurt you," he whispered.
Buffy moved the fingers to still the velvety lips. "I know. It doesn't matter. All that matters is that you love me...and..."
She was cut off by another kiss, this one slow and tender, turning her legs to jelly as she lost herself in it.
Eventually, Giles lifted his head and looked down at her flushed, glowing face, scarcely able to believe it was happening; that she could have even the remotest of feelings for him...but the truth was there, in her eyes...where no lies were told:
She was truly his...
Suddenly it was all too much. He'd waited such a long time...so long that he'd given up, cauterised the wounds on his heart and withdrawn into the background, where everyone seemed more than happy to consign him, anyway, especially...her.
He stepped away, moved to sit down hard on the sofa, elbows on knees, head silently in his hands, trying to make sense of everything.
Buffy followed him, the hurt emanating from him almost palpable. When he didn't look up, she stroked his hair gently. "I'm sorry," she whispered, her hand shaking. "I'm so sorry. I never wanted to hurt you...I love you..."
Then, suddenly, his arms circled her small waist and drew her between his knees, her arms circling his neck automatically as his head rested against her breast.
"My God, Buffy...I never expected..."
She looked up at the ceiling, her eyes glittering with unshed tears of anguish. She kissed his hair. "I love you," she told him and kissed it again. "I love you. I love you... "
Giles shuddered and sighed a long sigh before shifting to draw her down into his arms, so that he was holding her in his lap, her arms around his neck. He ran a large finger down a tender cheek.
For a long moment they just looked at each other, then Buffy reached up and caught his lips, her kiss a declaration of love, desire...and most of all, sorrow, letting her lips, her mouth, merge with and become his, giving herself completely.
When they parted, both were aroused and breathless...and happy. Buffy reached up and touched his gently smiling face.
"It's going to be okay now, isn't it?"
"Is it?" he countered gently and drew her even closer.
She nodded. "I can tell," she smiled contentedly and caressed the soft skin below his beautiful, glistening, sea-green eyes.
"They're not blue any more..."
Giles didn't reply. He was too busy kissing her again...