A Mile In His Moccasins
Title: A Mile In His Moccasins
Spoilers: Through As You Were
Summary: When Buffy and Giles switch bodies, they both learn to see things from a different perspective
Pairing: Buffy/Giles, mention of B/S, but it's over at this point
Distribution: If you've had my permission in the past, you have it now. All others, ask and ye shall receive.
Feedback: Constructive criticism always welcome. Praise abjectly sought.
Disclaimer: It all belongs to Joss, Mutant Enemy, etc., etc., etc. I just let them have all the fun Joss won't. I own nothing except my twisted mind which you really don't want. Please don't sue.
Notes: This story comes to you courtesy of Ragna's welcome back Gloveslap #103, which reads as follows: "And for Da Wench, if she should return. I will not be evil, and make you write Riley/Angelus.
Lord knows that's *my* punishment. However, I want something...different...from your normal Giles/Buffy fare. I want Giles and Buffy to switch bodies. They have to hook up, too, while in each other's bodies. I mean I want an explicit sex scene in which the sensations of being a female in a male's body during sex are described in lurid detail."
DEDICATION: To Ragna, for tempting me back to the Stoners fold with this enticing challenge, and to all my fellow Stoners, especially THE fabulous Collie whose insane idea YGTS? was in the first place. And last, but not least, to Rari for her occasionally brutal, but always insightful (or is that inciteful?) betaing.
Rupert Giles sat sullenly across the desk from Quentin
Travers. Giles had never cared much for the man in all the years they'd been
colleagues, but at least he'd been able to understand the man's agenda. This was
not anything he'd expected.
"You really think I'm going back there? Do you
have any idea what you're asking of me?"
"I'm asking that you go back and earn the paycheck
we give you, Rupert. I'm asking you to do the thing you seemed so keen on doing
this time last year. I'm asking you to go back and watch your Slayer the way
you're meant to."
"Buffy doesn't need a Watcher."
"Nonsense, Giles. Every Slayer needs a Watcher,
and your Buffy does seem to have her heart set on having you for the job. We
fired you, you stayed. We threatened to have you bodily removed and she managed
to force our hands so we had to give you two years back salary. She died and you
stayed. You'd barely given up and come home when she was back and you were on
the next plane to California. We pay you to keep an eye on her and train her,
not to mope about Bath ignoring your duties."
"Send someone else, then, and I'll do research or
training or some such here."
"Don't think we didn't try. I have personally
offered Miss Summers two different Watchers, and she turned both down. I won't
repeat what she said. Suffice it to say that her vocabulary remains...colorful.
I even offered to send you back."
"I take it her reply was equally colorful?"
"No, but it was illuminating. She didn't say a
word; just rang off without so much as a by your leave. I don't pretend to know
what sort of quarrel you two have had, but it ends now. The last thing we need
is another mentally unstable Slayer."
"Buffy is not Faith."
"No, she isn't. Not yet. And I intend to see that
she stays that way. Your flight leaves tomorrow at ten in the morning. You can
stay the night here in Council rooms. Anything you need can be sent on to you.
You do have your passport with you, do you not?" At Giles' sour glare,
Travers allowed himself a smug little smile. "Never mind, we'll just send
someone round to fetch it, shall we?"
Giles hated flying. It wasn't because he was afraid the
plane would crash or be hijacked to someplace unpleasant, or even the prospect
of being trapped in a metal cylinder for hours at a time with no escape. No, it
was a far more prosaic reason than that.
There was never enough legroom.
A transatlantic flight always left him stiff and in
pain, and that always left him in a temper.
Not to mention that he invariably ended up on the
flight with a small unruly child or a squalling baby seated near him. This time
it was both. A young mother traveling halfway across the globe with a boy of
about six and an infant in arms was seated right across the aisle from him. The
boy wriggled and fussed while the baby howled and the mother became more and
Giles shifted uncomfortably again and tried to
concentrate on the papers Travers had sent with him about a new demon threat
coming to Sunnydale. The last thing he needed to think about was children.
A strange feeling prompted Giles to look up from his
papers. He found himself being regarded by the little boy who had decided to
come sit next to him while his mother tried unsuccessfully to quiet the baby.
"Will you read me a story?"
"I - a story? I'm afraid I haven't any stories to
read that you'd find interesting."
"What's that, then?" The boy pointed a
slightly grubby finger at the precious documents spread in Giles' lap.
Involuntarily, Giles pulled them out of the child's reach.
"Something grown up that your mum wouldn't want
you to hear. Why don't you go back to your seat?"
"It's not as loud here. Zoe won't stop crying.
Mummy says it's because her ears hurt. If I could go where I couldn't hear it I
"So would I," Giles admitted. "But we
can't always do that, can we?"
"Mummy says if I was Zoe, I'd do the same thing,
but I don't think I would. Would you?"
"I hope not, but I rather think I might."
"Well, because...Zoe's a baby and she doesn't have
any other way of letting people know she's hurt and angry and wants it to stop.
As she gets older, she'll learn other ways to cope with her problems."
"It's a stupid way."
"There are worse."
"If I was her, I'd just say."
"If you were her, she'd be sitting next to me
right now telling me she would never be so stupid as to yell her head off if she
were you. And that's exactly what you'd be doing."
"There's a saying among a tribe of American
Indians. They say you can never really know a person until you've walked a mile
in his moccasins."
"What's a moccasins?"
"A sort of shoe."
The boy frowned as he tried to puzzle out the meaning.
"So if I put on your shoes, I'll know all about
Giles couldn't repress a small smile at the boy's
literal interpretation of the phrase.
"It means you can't fully understand someone
you're not, so it's best to try not to judge them too harshly."
The mother across the aisle had finally managed to
soothe the baby to sleep. She looked up at Giles with a grateful expression.
"Come back here, Antony, and don't disturb the
nice man anymore. Now thank Mr...?"
"Giles. Rupert Giles."
"Thanks Mr. Giles," Antony parroted dutifully
as he returned to his mother's side.
"Yes, thank you," the mother said quite a bit
more sincerely. "I hope he wasn't a bother to you."
"Not at all. In fact, we had a most intriguing
The mother smiled and shook her head.
"Your kids are lucky, aren't they? To have such an
involved father. My Tim forgets they were born now they're here."
"Oh, I - I haven't any children," Giles
"I'm sorry. I just assumed, since you were so good
with Antony. You seemed like a professional."
"Merely a talented amateur, I assure you."
He gifted Antony's mother with a dazzling smile and
returned to his research.
The demon in question looked particularly nasty, but
was mainly harmful for the spells it cast when it felt threatened. The spells
were unpredictable in nature and effectiveness. Watchers of previous Slayers had
written of effects as diverse as felling the Slayer with bolts of lightning to
giving her a mild cold that made her lose the beast as she sneezed
uncontrollably. As far as he could tell, there was no way to predict what sort
of spell might be thrown. The only way to avoid the beasts' magic was to catch
it completely unaware.
Giles pinched the bridge of his nose under his glasses.
While Buffy had many strengths, subtlety was not one of them.
This whole situation was bound to get worse before it
Buffy sighed as she rinsed the final plate and placed
it in the rack to drain. Now all she had to do was take out the garbage, move
the laundry from the washer to the dryer, decide which of the five bills that
had appeared in the previous day's mail absolutely had to be paid immediately,
write the checks for them, and scrub the toilet before it was time to get into
her uniform and go to work. At least she'd managed to cook breakfast and feed
Dawn before she had to go to school.
"It just never ends, does it?" she grumbled
Once she got back from work, she would have to do a
quick patrol and then come home to another round of dishes and dropped clothing
and garbage and yardwork and window washing and all the things she'd simply
taken for granted would be done just a year before.
"How did you do it, Mom?" she wondered.
Of course, it had helped that there had been an
adequate household income in her mother's day. There had even been a period
before Joyce's illness when there had been a maid service once a week to take
care of things like scrubbing in the bathroom and heavy duty vacuuming. Now it
was a matter of dealing with whatever was growing mold and playing Russian
Roulette with the bills.
Giles' fairy godmother check had long gone to full
copper repiping and paying the mortgage.
As for Giles himself...no, she couldn't let herself go
there. If she let herself think about it, she would hurt, and then she wouldn't
be strong enough to deal with all the things that needed her immediate attention.
Things like garbage.
She gathered up the bags and headed to front door. She
flung the door open and headed out, head down, only to collide into something
solid. The obstruction went down with a muffled 'oof' and Buffy stood staring at
something she'd never thought she'd see again: her Watcher sprawled on the
ground knocked unconscious.
When Giles came to he found he'd been moved inside and
laid on the sofa. Buffy was applying a damp washcloth to his forehead.
"I see you're back," she said in a carefully
"Yes, thanks. Did you carry me in here all by
"Will helped. I can deal with the weight, but
you're too bulky for me to heave you around without either a hand from someone
else or a lot of bruises for you. What brings you back to the Hellmouth?"
"I am your Watcher."
"Could've fooled me."
For the first time, Giles heard the bitterness in her
voice. Not for the first time, he mentally kicked himself for not calling and
testing the waters before coming over.
"I know you must be upset with me, Buffy..."
"Upset? Maybe looking for a different word here.
Maybe something like furious. Or possibly not interested." She tossed the
washcloth into a basin of water with a splash that overflowed the sides and
sloshed onto the carpet. Buffy stood and took the water into the kitchen. when
she returned, she held a steaming mug in her hand. "Sit up. I made you some
Giles reached for the mug gratefully and took a sip. He
smiled. A dash of milk and one spoon of sugar. She'd made it just right.
Buffy shrugged. "I figured you'd need it after
that tumble. I could take you to the ER if you want. I think I have time before
"No, that's all right. No major damage done, I
think. Bit of a headache, but I've had my share of those."
The silence grew uncomfortable as Giles sipped his tea
and Buffy stared at him resentfully. Her body was curled in on itself
defensively on the farthest chair she could find from him.
"So do I get an explanation or are you just going
to walk back into my life like you never left?"
Giles set his mug down on the coffee table and rubbed
his chin as he collected his thoughts.
"The Council has decided that you do need a
Watcher, after all. I know you know this, because Quentin Travers told me he'd
spoken to you on the matter."
"And he knows I told him what he can do with his
Council and every Watcher in it."
"Yes, so he told me," Giles said failing
utterly to suppress a smile. "But he insisted, and since we've worked
together well in the past..."
"Operative word 'past', Giles."
"I'm sorry I left, Buffy, but I really felt I had
"Did you have one in coming back?"
"No. It was this or a disciplinary hearing and
unemployment followed by a general blacklisting from every worthy job I might
apply for," he told her bluntly. "I won't lie to you. This was in no
way my idea, and I fought against it. I felt you needed more time on your own.
But I am glad to see you again. I've...um...I've missed you. More than I
realized I would, even."
Buffy looked steadily at the floor.
"Where are you staying?"
"I haven't arranged a room yet."
"Why pay for a hotel? I've got a couch."
"I wouldn't want to impose..."
"Giles, I'm trying here. Don't make me want to hit
you more than I do already."
"Who could resist such an invitation?" Giles
observed with a wry half smile. "All right, I'll stay, but just for tonight.
I don't mind admitting I'm pretty tired from my flight."
"Yeah. Jet lag's a bitch, I hear. Look, I gotta go
get changed for work. You could...maybe take a nap if you want. You can even use
my room after I go."
"Are you sure?"
"Yeah. It's okay."
She stood. So did he. They looked at one another
awkwardly for a moment. At last Buffy moved to the stairs. She stopped midway up
and turned to him again.
"Help yourself if you want some more tea or
something. You know where everything is."
Giles watched until she'd finished mounting the stairs
and could no longer be seen. He moved to the kitchen. Another cup of tea would
"Hey! Buffy! Pick up the pace!"
Buffy looked up, startled.
"I'm sorry, Lorraine. I - I was just...thinking."
"Think about the customers, Buffy."
"Sure. Right. 'Cause that's the Doublemeat
way," Buffy smiled, hoping it would impress her boss.
"That's the spirit. Why don't you take over the
Her smile faded when she saw who was at the front of
"Spike, what are you doing here?" she
"Got a break coming up, pet? I want to talk."
"I told you it's over. We have nothing to talk
"Because you say it's over? What about my feelings?"
Buffy closed her eyes and willed herself not to hit the
"I have a job to do. You're keeping me from doing
it. Go away."
She smiled as brightly as she could and craned her neck
Spike glared at her.
"This isn't over, Blondie."
He swept out of the restaurant, taking several packets
of condiments with him, just because. As soon as he was gone, Buffy let out a
relieved sigh. When she looked up, Lorraine was there beside her.
"You need to tell your boyfriend not to visit you
at work. You have more important things to do right now."
"He's not my - I mean, I'll tell him. Again. He's
not very good at listening."
"Or maybe you're not very good at understanding I
mean this. No boyfriends at work."
Lorraine returned to her office. Buffy counted to ten
under her breath. She needed this job. She didn't dare lose it in a fit of anger.
She pasted on another bright smile and turned back to the line waiting for
"May I take your order, please?"
Despite the fatigue of a long flight and yet another
knock on the head, Giles found he was too restless to take the nap Buffy had
suggested. He wandered from room to room for a while seeing what had changed and
what remained the way he remembered it. Some familiar items had disappeared,
including several reminders of Joyce. Other things were new and spoke of the
youthful tastes and limited budget of the current inhabitants.
When he reached Buffy's bedroom door he laid his hand
on it, but didn't open the door. True, she'd told him he could go in, but he
didn't feel as if he had the right yet. Not until she had forgiven him.
He turned and went downstairs. He'd been at loose ends
before, and recently, but this was different. This was being in someone else's
house, and it felt almost as if he was intruding simply by being there at all,
let alone when none of the residents were about. Had it really been less than a
year since he'd felt as though he belonged in this house as much as the people
who actually lived here?
Memories filled his head of spending time in these
rooms with Buffy and Dawn and Joyce. Then Buffy and Dawn. And finally with Dawn
and Willow and Tara. Then with Buffy again, but no longer comfortably. Their
sense of camaraderie had died with her, and wasn't revived when she was.
A sudden desire not to think combined with a habit of
trying to be useful and occupied at all times made him decide to do a bit of
cleaning while he waited for someone to return.
Perhaps if Buffy came home to a sparkling house and a
home cooked meal, she would be less inclined to be angry with him.
As Buffy trudged wearily home she considered Giles'
return yet again. It was clear that he didn't want to be in Sunnydale anymore
than she was willing to admit she wanted him around.
Or did she?
Part of her did. But part of her didn't. Part of her
wanted the safety and comfort that had always been Giles. The one who kept
believing in her no matter what dumb mistakes she made, the one who made things
right and gave her what she needed to beat the bad things.
But he'd made himself one of the not safe things when
he'd left her. If she let him in, he might pull yet another rug out from under
her feet and she wasn't sure she'd be able to take another betrayal.
She stopped in her tracks and sighed. She was too tired
to deal with this tonight.
"I said it's over, Spike. When are you going to
listen to me?"
"When you say what you mean for once."
"I do mean it."
"Then why are you just standing there? Why won't
you even look at me when you say it? Why can I smell you -"
"Stop it! No smelling. And really no nothing else.
"Please, she says?" Spike laughed. "Polite
was never your style. Don't try to start now. I told you we weren't finished. I
have things to say. Now, you can hear me out right here and now or I can come by
your place a bit later and tell your friends what you've been up to. What's it
"Fine. Say what you have to say and go away. I
have to get Dawn's dinner home to her. And no smushing it this time. We're not
going to do that again. Ever."
"Oh yes we are. You won't be able to help yourself.
Doesn't matter how many times you tell yourself you don't want it, you do."
"And sometimes I want to throw myself off a bridge,
but I figured out that's not good for me and neither are you. Look, I'm tired
and Dawn is probably hungry and her dinner's getting cold."
"And I'm sure she's just sitting home with her
salivary glands going all into overdrive for another Doublemeat burger. She
doesn't want it."
"It isn't a burger. It's the Chicken Strips."
"Yeah. Big improvement."
"It's what I can do."
Spike shook his head.
"You never were any good at anything but the
Slaying, were you?"
"Is that what you came to tell me? Can I go now?"
"Fine. Go on."
Buffy took a step forward only to find Spike moving to
block her path.
"Y'know," he said, "you're really
something. Just break up with a guy without ever even letting your friends know
you were shagging the daylights out of him. Maybe I should take a little jaunt
to Los Angeles and let your one true love know what you did with me."
"Angel would stake you and you know it. Are we
"You really don't get it, do you? We're not done.
We'll never be done."
"I have to go. Let me through."
Spike stepped aside.
"It's not over. You remember that."
He sauntered off in the direction of his crypt. Buffy
watched him go with a racing heart. She fought down the tiny part of her that
wanted to run after him and make him make her forget everything. She turned her
steps for home and willed herself to move in that direction instead.
When she got home, Buffy heard voices in the dining
room. She shrugged off her coat and headed there with the Doublemeat bag in her
hand for Dawn. Buffy blinked when she walked into the room.
Giles sat at the head of the table with Dawn on one
side and Willow on the other. They were just finishing up a meal. Giles looked
up and smiled softly at her.
"Buffy. I hope you don't mind, but we didn't wait.
Sit down and I'll get your plate."
"You made dinner?"
"Earning my keep, as it were. Go on, sit
Buffy sat with a thump.
"I guess I didn't need to bring this home,"
she said as she put down the fast food bag in front of Dawn. "I thought you
didn't have any dinner."
"Hey, I was surprised too. Nobody told me Giles
was coming back. Why didn't you say anything?"
"Because I didn't know. Nobody told me, either."
Giles came back and put a plate of food in front of
"Here you are. I hope you like it. I was
experimenting a bit. There was a rather...unusual assortment in the refrigerator.
Still. There it is."
"I haven't had a chance to go grocery shopping
"Well maybe you can go tomorrow," Willow
suggested. "You're on the late shift, right?"
"It's a double shift. But I could go the day after."
"Sure. I think we can make it till then. Buffy,
I'm gonna go to The Bronze. Mind if I take Dawnie? She finished her homework.
Maybe you could even come after patrol?"
"Sure. You guys go. I probably won't show, though.
Long day. And another tomorrow."
"And I'm guessing maybe some Watcher/Slayer stuff.
I mean, they wouldn't have sent Giles back here if there wasn't mystical stuff
going on you need to know about."
"Yes, there is that," Giles agreed. "But
I'm sure if Buffy wanted to have a coffee and hear a bit of music that we could
still manage to talk afterward. Or I could patrol with you. Kill two birds with
"Go with me? You haven't done that in forever."
"Would it be all right?"
With Willow and Dawn nodding encouragingly, Buffy felt
she had no choice.
"Sure. Great. The more the merrier."
"Hey, maybe you can even talk Giles into coming to
The Bronze after," Dawn suggested. "Y'know, celebrate that he's here."
"We'll see. I don't know if I'm going yet."
Willow and Dawn left quickly after that with a few more
pleas to both Buffy and Giles that they come along to the club after patrol. As
soon as they were gone, Buffy shoved her plate away and stood.
"I didn't think it was that bad," Giles
"No. Just...I'm not hungry. That daily Doublemeat
Medley really fills you up. And hey, it's my one perk so I take it."
"How are things, really?"
"Okay. Things are okay."
Giles decided not to push the question for the moment.
After a moment Buffy spoke again.
"Thanks. For doing that. I know Dawn is sick of
fast food, but it's...fast. I don't always have time to cook now I'm working."
"I did a few other things while I was at it. I
hope you don't mind."
"A spot of cleaning. And a bit of gardening. I
left the laundry, though. I wasn't certain if anything needed special handling."
"Wow. All that in one day."
"I had the time." He ran a hand through his
hair. "You know, Buffy, if you do a little bit every day, it all gets done
and frightening things don't grow behind the toilet."
He smiled slightly to let her know he wasn't scolding
Every muscle in her body stiffened. How dare he tell
her how easy it was?
"Thanks for the hint, Heloise. I'm gonna catch a
shower and change before we go on patrol."
She hurried up the stairs before he could answer. Giles
blew out a frustrated breath and went to clear the table. Couldn't Buffy see
that he was trying to make it up to her?
If Giles had counted on the old routine of patrol to
make things easier, he was faced with severe disappointment. Buffy just seemed
to get more upset with him every time he opened his mouth. If he talked about
demons and his mission from the Council, she glared and snapped. If he tried to
talk about her life since he'd left, she shut down entirely. And he wished to
heaven his head would stop aching.
Buffy couldn't believe this was the same Giles who had
always been the one thing she felt she couldn't do without. One minute, he would
only talk about work, as if he didn't give a damn about her. The next he was
telling her how to run her life. What gave him the right? And what if Spike
decided to show up? If he did, she was completely screwed.
Which meant that he probably would.
"Look, can we just get this over with, Giles? I
know what I'm looking for. Scaly, ugly thing with seriously backfirey mojo. If I
see it, I sneak up and take it out. Easy."
"It isn't easy," Giles told her with some
asperity. "It has caused untold havoc for centuries. Every time it has been
seen it has managed to escape, sometimes at the cost of a Slayer's life."
"I don't die so easy. And I never seem to stay
Giles shook his head in frustration.
"I don't understand you, Buffy. You've always been
a fighter. Why won't you fight?"
"That's a laugh coming from you, Braveheart. You
left. I was stuck here, but I keep on trying."
"Really? Do you?"
"Don't you dare tell me I'm not trying. God,
you're right about one thing, though. You never understood me and you never
will. And you know what else, I'll never understand you, either."
"No, you won't because you don't see what's right
in front of you."
"And you're completely blind! And - and there's a
big, scaly demon behind you, Giles!"
Giles spun around wildly only to find himself knocked
to the ground with a scaly claw. He tried to warn Buffy to let the thing go
until they could catch it unawares, but she was already leaping for the beast.
Buffy was almost on the creature when a bolt of magic flew from its gnarled hand
and hit Buffy in the chest. It ricocheted to hit Giles as well. As the Slayer
hit the ground, her Watcher lost consciousness for the second time since
returning to Sunnydale that morning.
When Buffy came to a little while later, she couldn't
believe how much her head hurt. Or how tired she felt. She raised one hand to
her forehead and was surprised to find so little hair there.
'Great,' she thought, 'that beastie fried my follicles.'
Then she realized there was some object on her face
that shouldn't be there. She felt around, still keeping her eyes closed, and
found it was a pair of glasses. She pulled them off and sat up. About a second
later, she lay down again because her head was spinning. When it stopped, she
opened her eyes carefully. Everything was fuzzy. Really fuzzy. And everything
felt too big.
She let out a groan, surprised at how low the sound
The next thing she knew there was a face bending over
her and a tiny hand expertly checking her pulse.
"It's okay, Buffy. Just lie still a moment."
She knew the voice. She'd heard it before. If only
things would stop being so blurred, she'd be able to see who she was talking to.
Her companion was female and small and had shortish blondish hair. The voice was
talking again. She did her best to concentrate. When would Slayer healing kick
"I know this is a bit of a shock, but we'll find a
way to sort this out, I promise. Can you try to sit up?"
"What happened? Who are you? And what happened to
"It was the demon, Buffy. Why the hell didn't you
listen? You just had to attack without thinking, didn't you?"
"It hurt Giles. Is he okay?"
She brought her hand up to her face again and was
startled to see how large it suddenly was. She turned it over to look at the
ring on the little finger. It was gold with a square cabochon of black onyx.
Looking further up her arm, she saw it was encased in a leather jacket that she
knew as well as anything in her own wardrobe. Her brain shut down as she stared.
"Here," the woman said. "Put these on
and it'll be a bit better."
Buffy accepted the glasses numbly. When they were on,
her vision was much better, but nowhere near what she was used to with enhanced
Slayer night vision. She looked at the woman.
"That's my body. Who are you and what are you
doing in it?"
"Borrowing it while you're in mine, it would seem."
Somehow the pair made it back to Buffy's house without
meeting up with either more demons or anyone they knew. When they got to the
door, Giles stood waiting while Buffy rummaged in her pockets for her key. It
took both of them a minute to realize what a fruitless task that was. She looked
pointedly at Giles. He looked back, confused, then realized the key to the door
would be in his care since he was now in Buffy's body. He fished around in her
jacket pockets until he came up with the key, then unlocked the door.
Once inside, Giles made tea while Buffy paced the
living room. Occasionally she would rub her forehead.
"Giles?" she called to the kitchen.
"Yes, Buffy?" her own voice floated out.
"Could you bring me a few dozen Tylenol with that
tea? Your head's splitting."
"That's what it's like when I get knocked
"And does your back always feel like this?"
"Sore and stiff. Is it always like that?"
"Not always," Giles said as he carried the
tea tray to the living room and set it on the coffee table with an extra hard
thump. "Oh dear. I must remember these things are much closer now I'm so
short. Anyway, my back feels like misery because I've been on a very long flight
and I've been knocked down twice in less than twenty-four hours. Frankly, I'm
relieved it's someone else's problem for the moment. Your back feels just
"Great. So you gonna give it back to me anytime
soon? And don't make short jokes while you're me. It's mean."
"It wasn't a joke; it was an observation."
"Fine, quit with the observations, already. And
you didn't answer my question."
"I will be delighted to get back into my own skin
at the first possible opportunity. Unfortunately, I have no idea how that is to
"So we research."
"We can go to the Magic Box in the morning."
"But what do we do tonight? Why can't we research
"Buffy, take a look in the mirror. You're in no
shape to do any effective research right now. You're in a body that has crossed
several time zones and been rendered unconscious twice today. Give it a rest."
He rummaged in his suitcase and handed her a bottle of
pills from it. She peered at the label curiously.
"What are these?"
"Allergy medication. You'll need to take one of
those every day or you'll spend the whole bloody day sneezing my brains
"What're you allergic to?"
"Buffy, please. Just take the pills and don't
concern yourself with the rest. Now are you taking any medication I should know
"Nope. My body's the picture of health."
"Yeah. Lucky me. Giles, what are we gonna do? I
don't want to be you and you certainly don't want to be me."
"For now, I suggest we get some sleep. It's late,
and my body has been through a lot today. And yours...needs another shower."
Buffy's eyes widened.
"Oh no you don't, Giles! You can't!"
"Buffy, I know what the female body looks like."
"But - but that's my female body! I don't want you
to see it naked."
"I'm not precisely eager to have you see mine,
either, but I don't see how it's to be avoided and adequate personal hygiene
Buffy sighed and sat heavily on the sofa. Giles reached
for his nose and swore under his breath when he found nothing there. Without a
word, Buffy removed his glasses, pulled a handkerchief from her pocket, and
handed them to Giles.
"Go ahead. You'll feel better."
He took them, polished the lenses, began to replace
them on his face, swore again, and handed them back to Buffy.
"Maybe you could get some sunglasses until you get
your bod back."
"I may just do that."
An hour later, the pair were still sitting on the sofa,
sipping tea and trying to decide what to do next. They were rapidly coming to no
conclusion at all. Buffy squirmed uncomfortably.
"What is it now?" Giles snapped.
"I - you - well, this body needs to go to the
"We're both going to have to deal with that aspect
of things eventually."
"I know, but I was hoping it would be a little
longer before we had to."
"Then you shouldn't have had four cups of
"Y'know, if I didn't have to go so bad, I'd come
up with a really great answer to that."
Buffy stood and hurried up the stairs to the bathroom.
Once inside with the door locked, she hesitated again. She wasn't really sure
how this worked.
"Don't look, Buff," she muttered to herself
as she carefully undid the unfashionable wool trousers. Underneath, there was a
pair of cotton boxer shorts. Underneath that was the thing she'd never wanted to
think about Giles having.
And a scrotum.
And all that...guy stuff.
She looked up at the ceiling (which was way too close
for comfort now), turned around, pulled down all the cloth, and sat as quickly
as she could. It seemed to take forever before she hit the toilet seat with a
"When did your legs get so long, Giles?" she
She stared resolutely at the opposite wall while she
dealt with the situation. Everything felt wrong. She wanted her own body back.
"That's sorta ironic, isn't it?" she mused.
"But at least I was used to it."
When she was finished, she reached for some toilet
paper and shuddered slightly at the thought that she would have to touch Giles'
privates. Still, there was nothing for it. She fished around blindly between the
surprisingly well-formed thighs to find what she needed to deal with. When she'd
finished wiping the end, she couldn't help looking. It seemed very long.
"Holy moley, Batman!"
"Buffy?" Giles called. "Is everything
quite all right?"
"Um...yeah, Giles. Just great. I'll be right
Buffy stood quickly and rearranged her trousers. At
first, she tried to center all the genitalia over the center seams, but quickly
found that was extremely uncomfortable. She stuffed them down the left leg.
After all, Giles was the most left-handed person she'd ever met, so it seemed a
She washed her hands and hurried down as quickly as she
could without tripping over her suddenly large feet.
"See? Just fine. All dealt with and no problems at
all. Well, I'm tired. Think I'll head for bed now. 'Night, Giles."
Giles pinched the bridge of his nose.
"You looked, didn't you?"
Buffy stopped and turned. She smiled sheepishly.
"It's not like I could help it, Giles. That's a
lot of...stuff...to figure out what to do with."
"Buffy, it's okay. It's not as if you wanted to
see that, I understand."
Giles went to shove his hands in his pockets only to
discover the pants he had on didn't include that fashion feature. He settled for
running his hand through his hair. Buffy sat down and looked at him
"I know. We should be all mature about this and
realize it's just body parts and it doesn't really matter. But it's hard to
think that way when it's your body parts. Or my body parts. I'm getting confused
with what to call whose parts."
"That makes two of us."
"Look, Giles, I already peed with your body. Go
ahead and take a shower. Just don't..."
"I know, don't touch anything I don't absolutely
have to and keep my eyes shielded at all times."
Buffy laughed slightly.
"That, too. But what I was really gonna say was
don't expect the Doublemeat smell to go away. It gets kinda stuck in the pores."
Giles did his best not to look too closely as he
undressed. Of course that did make the entire process somewhat problematical.
The buttons on her blouse were on the wrong side, he couldn't find the closure
on the pants at all for the longest time. Whose insane idea was it to put a
trouser zip on the side, anyway?
And as for the bra, when he reached around to the back,
there wasn't a clasp. After some moments of searching, he gave up and pulled it
awkwardly off over his head.
Then he tried not to give in to the temptation to look
The problem only intensified as he slid the panties to
the floor and stood naked in Buffy's body all alone in the bathroom.
He steeled his resolve and checked the water
temperature before he got in the shower. A moment under the water proved to him
that being short was a definite advantage when showering. He could now duck
completely under the stream without bending his knees.
He sighed contentedly and picked up the soap.
It was easy dealing with washing his face and shoulders,
but once he started to go lower, things became a bit problematical. He wanted to
do a thorough job so Buffy's body would be as clean as he could make it, but
that inevitably meant touching parts of her body she wouldn't want him to touch.
Possibly even looking at them as well.
Well she'd already looked at parts of him she'd never
shown any interest in before, so what was the difference?
"You know perfectly well what the difference is,"
he told himself. "You've been wanting an excuse to look at them for a very
And Buffy had seemed so flustered by having seen
his...parts. No doubt she'd been disgusted by the experience because it was him.
After all, it wasn't as if she'd never seen a penis before. She'd had lovers.
She'd been to bed with at least Angel and Riley. And there was that time he'd
been in her dorm room when she came home early in the morning with a ridiculous
story about having been in the library all Saturday night. She'd clearly been
either at a party or on a date. A date where she'd stayed out all night. That
meant there'd been at least three men.
No, the problem wasn't shyness or inexperience. It had
to be his body that she found unappealing.
"Well what did you expect, Giles?" he asked
himself. "Did you really think she'd take one look and start turning
cartwheels for joy?"
He began to scrub harder. Surely the fragrance of
hamburgers couldn't cling that stubbornly to the human body if she was cleaning
herself properly. He put the soap away and reached for the fruit scented body
scrub. This would do the trick, no doubt.
Ten minutes later, the water was running tepid and
Giles could still smell burger meat through the scent of guava.
Maybe it was as bad as Buffy said after all.
He sighed and turned off the taps.
He decided to dry off and go to the kitchen for a snack.
After all, while he couldn't fix the aroma from her
job, he could at least do something about the amount of weight she'd lost
recently. She'd gotten too thin by half and it was time something was done about
Besides, it had been a long time since concerns about
cholesterol and excess weight had put an end to his greasy fry-ups. A few
sausages would be lovely just about now.
While Giles showered, Buffy rummaged through his
luggage for something to wear to sleep in. Giles had been right; his body was
tired and needed rest. And Buffy's mind was still reeling from the sudden change.
It wanted to run away. The combination made for one sleepy...not quite Slayer.
Clearly none of her enhanced senses had made the jump into the new body.
"Giles gets all the breaks," she mumbled
unhappily as she sorted clothes. "His brains and my superpowers are all in
the same place now. Who needs me? And what do I get out of this? A dick. Okay, a
big dick. A really impressively big dick. But still, just a dick. It's not like
I'm gonna be using it to do anything but pee, anyway. And I swear Giles has the
worst taste in clothes of anybody I've ever met! Would it be too much to ask for
a shirt that doesn't look like it was designed by Helen Keller? And moss green
cords? Please! The AV club would have laughed at someone wearing those in high
A sudden thought sent one hand exploring the pockets of
the trousers she had on. She found Giles' wallet quickly and opened it up.
"Platinum Visa, huh? Now I know what I'm gonna do tomorrow. Giles, you're getting a makeover."
She stuffed the wallet away hurriedly when she heard
footsteps on the stairs. She schooled her face into the picture of innocence
before he got there.
"Hey, Giles. Nice shower?"
"Very. Though I still smell of hamburger. I was
just going to get a snack."
"And I guess while you're doing that, I should
make up the sofa for you to sleep on."
"Won't that look odd to the others?" he asked
"What do you mean?"
"If I sleep down here, it will look like you've
given up your room to me. They'll want to know why."
"Oh. Right. Well, then you can have my bed and I
guess I'll sleep down here. Then we can explain stuff in the morning."
"Fine. I warn you, though, your back won't be
"Well what am I supposed to do? Sleep with you?"
Giles' eyes widened. So did Buffy's.
"I...well...I don't suppose we need to go quite
that far, "Giles stuttered. "Look, I'll take the sofa. You take the
bed. Please. And if Willow and Dawn have questions when they get back...well, I
imagine I can find a way to answer them."
Giles turned in the direction of the kitchen. He
stopped when Buffy called him.
"Oh Giles? Could you tell me something before I go
"What did you want to know?"
Buffy gestured to the suitcase.
"What do you wear to sleep in?"
He came over and rooted about until he found a black
tee shirt and a pair of sweatpants.
"These should do the trick. Is there anything else
Buffy took the proffered clothes and hugged them to her
chest. She shook her head. Giles placed a comforting hand on her arm.
"We'll find the answer, Buffy."
"And if we don't?"
"We'll find it," he reiterated. "We'll
get this sorted out."
Buffy blinked hard and nodded silently. She managed a
half smile then turned and went up the stairs without another word. Giles
watched her go, his brow furrowed with concern. At last he sighed and went into
When she got to her room, Buffy began to undress for
bed. She put the glasses on her nightstand and pulled the oversized sweater over
her head. A tee shirt followed that, leaving her naked from the waist up. She
stopped for a moment. Giles had taken a whole shower. That meant he'd probably
seen her naked. Shouldn't she get the same chance to see him?
She ignored the voice in her head that told her Giles
wouldn't have looked at all and if he did it was purely in the interest of
cleanliness. After all, he'd been flustered and obviously uninterested when
she'd accidentally sounded like she was propositioning him. She hadn't meant it
like that. Really, she hadn't.
But did he have to be so grossed out by the idea?
Well, fine. If he'd had a laugh at her body, she was
going to have a laugh at his. Besides, she needed to get a good look at him if
she was going to act as his fashion consultant. And if she was going to be Giles
for any length of time, he needed some nicer clothes.
With that feat of spurious logic accomplished, she shed
the rest of her clothes, put the glasses back on and looked into the mirror.
Or perhaps gaped would be a better term.
Angel and Riley had both had great bodies, so did
Spike. All three were lean and had muscles to spare. Somehow, though, she'd
assumed that a man as old as Giles couldn't have a really great body anymore.
Somewhere along the line she'd placed him in the safe category of 'old guy' and
decided that he must therefore be flabby and out of shape. Plus there was the
way he'd never made a fuss about exercising. She knew that if she hadn't caught
him at it, he would never in a million years have admitted he jogged. Even then,
she'd put it out of her mind except when she decided he was having a midlife
crisis she really needed not to support.
Now, standing naked in front of the mirror in his body,
Buffy could see that this was another case of Giles being reluctant to draw
attention to himself.
True, his muscles weren't as defined as Angel's or
Riley's. And yes, he was getting older. Hard to deny that when there were silver
hairs among the tawny ones on his chest and belly. Still, he was muscular and
trim. His legs were long and nicely shaped. She knew his arms and back were
strong enough to carry a grown girl as if she weighed nothing. That was a fact
she'd conveniently shoved to the back of her mind a long time ago, as she did
most reminders of her many near brushes with death when she could.
This was a body that hadn't spent a lot of time in the
gym, but one that had lived hard. Unlike the unscarred perfection of Angel or
the government sculpted youth of Riley, Giles had never liked to show off his
physique. He'd always stayed buttoned down and covered up as long as Buffy had
known him. Almost like he was wearing armor rather than clothes.
Now that she'd seen him, Buffy began to wonder why he'd
felt that was necessary.
It wasn't like this body was something to be ashamed
Buffy couldn't seem to help herself. It looked so
tempting; so exciting. Her fingers took on minds of their own and ran themselves
through Giles' chest hair. It felt good. Soft, yet crisp. Slightly ticklish in a
good way if she touched it too lightly.
She closed her eyes and caressed the body she
inhabited. She stopped when a familiar ache grew in an unfamiliar way. Her eyes
opened and she looked down.
She swallowed hard.
She went to her desk. She knew she had a ruler in
As Giles sat down to his meal of sausages and onions
with a side of fried tomatoes and mushrooms, he realized something. Two things
For one, he didn't have nightclothes or any bedding for
the sofa, and for the other, he was in a body that rebelled against what he was
about to put in it.
"Just bloody wonderful," he muttered.
"She still won't eat, even when I try to make her from the inside."
Still, he forced a few bites of tomato into his mouth
and swallowed them. Small steps. That was the way. A bite here, a high-calorie
treat there. If he kept at it, soon Buffy's body would be eating normally again,
so she would actually recognize hunger when she got back into her own body. He
ate a bite of sausage.
He was going to put some weight on Buffy if it was the
last thing he did.
The sound of the door opening startled Giles. Willow
and Dawn giggled and gossiped as they came into the living room.
"He was totally checking you out, Dawnie."
"Please! Like I'd ever dance with the Ego that
Walks Like an Eleventh Grader!"
"So you wouldn't?"
"Well...only if he asked me."
A flurry of giggles filled the house. Suddenly Willow
"We should be quiet. Giles is probably
"He's not on the sofa."
"Maybe he and Buffy aren't back from patrol
"No, her jacket's here."
"Hmm, I wonder where he is, then."
"You don't think...?" Dawn's voice trailed
off as her eyes moved to the top of the stairs.
"What, are you kidding? Of course I don't think.
They were barely speaking earlier."
"Unlike a certain pair of witches tonight at The
Bronze, who were getting majorly chatty together."
"Well, we're talking, anyway. A little bit. But it
was all, y'know, good stuff."
Willow couldn't repress a grin, and a small blush.
"C'mon, admit it," Dawn teased her. "You
two were totally vibing."
Giles sat in the kitchen and listened. Later, he
couldn't have said what mental imp possessed him, but he decided to say
something he had the feeling was long overdue.
He walked into the doorway between the kitchen and the
living room and folded his arms under his breasts.
"So, you had a good time at The Bronze?"
"Yeah, Buff," Willow said. "You
"Well, unlike some people, I had grown up stuff to
do. Dawn, what time is it?"
"Huh? Time?" the girl stalled. "I dunno.
I don't have a watch on."
"It's after Midnight and you have school
"I know," Willow began, "I should have
paid more attention to that, but we were having such a good time...and Tara was
there. She talked to me and everything."
"Dawn, go to bed. Willow, don't keep my little
sister out so late next time. Well, I'm off to bed, too."
He picked up his suitcase.
"See you in the morning."
"Wait a minute," Dawn protested. "That's
Giles's suitcase. Where are you taking it?"
"Upstairs. Don't make me come tuck you in,
"W- why are you taking Giles' suitcase
upstairs?" Willow asked, clearly not wanting to hear the answer.
"There's something he needs in it. 'Night,
He mounted the steps with a smug little grin on his
borrowed face. At the bottom of the stairs, Willow and Dawn looked confused.
"Buffy cares what time I come home?"
Dawn sounded stunned.
"She's got Giles in her room, and she's taking
stuff up to him?"
Willow was clearly perplexed.
The two looked at one another.
"Scooby research, tomorrow?" Dawn asked.
"Oh yeah," Willow answered.
Giles knocked on Buffy's door.
"Can I come in?"
He heard a muffled curse and some fumbling around
before his own voice floated out with a less than convincing tone.
"Sure. Great. Door's open."
He slipped into the room quickly only to find Buffy
sitting on the bed awkwardly. She was fully dressed, but the covers were wadded
up in front of her. Her cheeks were flushed and her hair standing up at odd
angles. Her expression was clearly meant to be innocent, but it failed miserably
at conveying the concept. Giles pinched the bridge of his nose.
"What's up, Giles?"
"I have the distinct impression I might ask you
the same thing."
"I didn't mean to, Giles. It just...how do you
control this thing?"
"I'm not sure control is the right word."
"Well, does it have an off switch, at least?"
"Have you tried thinking of something unpleasant?
That sometimes does the trick."
"I cannot believe we're having this
"No more can I. In fact, let's not have it right
"Okay. You're the one who'll have to live with the
rep for being a horny bastard if I can't get this under control."
"Oh for heaven's sake," Giles snapped,
"take a cold shower!"
"You don't have to yell at me."
"I thought you might like to know your sister just
got home. Do you have any idea how late it is?"
"I was out later than this all the time. You know
"Yes, but you were fulfilling your destiny as the
Slayer. Dawn was simply out dancing until all hours."
"And she still gets better grades than I did. She
did her homework before she went."
"Did you see it?"
"Well...no. But if she wasn't doing it, I'd get a
call from the school."
"Are you paying any attention to Dawn at all? She
needs you to be involved in her life, Buffy."
For the first time in his life, Giles found himself on
the receiving end of a full-blown Ripper glare. He backed up a step.
"Don't you dare tell me about being involved. You
were so thrilled to find out I was alive again that you hightailed it out of
here faster than a speeding bullet. I needed help and you couldn't get away from
us soon enough. Way to shatter my last damn happy illusion, Giles. Until then I
really thought you cared about me. Guess I was wrong."
"How many times did you expect me to allow you to
use me, Buffy? I was a bloody convenience for you. Fix this for me, Giles. Make
that problem go away for me, Giles. Oh, but don't expect anything in return. I
didn't matter at all. How long did you think I would stay when it was clear you
didn't want me here? Time and again I reached out to you only to find you
"I wasn't?" Buffy asked, genuinely confused.
"Where was I?"
"With Angel. With your misery. With bloody Spike.
Anywhere but with me. Was it really too much to ask that you'd have two minutes
Giles sat on the edge of the bed, defeat clear in the
set of his shoulders. Buffy crawled across the bed to sit next to him, her anger
gone as quickly as it had appeared.
"Yeah, it was. It was more than I had to give
then. And I can't guarantee I've got a whole lot more now. Giles, you made me
the best Slayer you could, but nobody really prepared me to be a grown up. I
wasn't supposed to ever have to cope with all of this. I was supposed to be
dead, if not from the Master, then from Glory. And if not from her, from some
random demon or vamp of the week. I was never supposed to grow up. And I didn't.
I died. I was even okay with it. But now..." she shook her head sadly.
"Now it's all clean house, be Dawn's mom, prove I'm good enough to flip
burgers at Doublemeat Palace, pay the bills on a minimum wage job, and then go
save the world. Again. And it never stops. And just when I've given everything I
have to give and then some, somebody comes along wanting more of me. There's
just not enough me to go around."
Giles took her hand gently and looked into her eyes.
They may have actually been his own eyes, but he could see Buffy looking out of
"Yes, there is, Buffy. I know it's hard, and
you're right, you probably weren't prepared very well for this. But that doesn't
mean you can't do it."
"But I can't do it alone, Giles. I never
Giles shook his head.
"I don't believe that for one moment. You are an
exceptional young woman if only you'll accept the fact."
"Yeah. I know. One girl in all the world, and all
that. Or two now, I guess. I'm not even so special that way, anymore."
Buffy stood and paced restlessly. She stopped and faced
"What's so special about me?" she asked.
"I have superpowers to fight vampires, but you and Xand and Will can do it,
too. Maybe not as well, but you've all dusted more than your fair share of
vamps. I'm not as smart as you and Will. I don't have things under control the
way Mom did. I never seem to know what to say or do. Sure, I can dust a vamp in
no time flat, but I'm a lousy driver and I go through men like...something that
goes through things and is a big disaster. Now I can't even find a group of
loser nerds. They're hitting me on my blind side all the time. I don't feel like
there's anything exceptional about me, with the possible exception of my
incredible lameness as a human being. And now I don't even have being the Slayer
to fall back on. If I'm not the Slayer, what the hell am I that's so
"You're Buffy Summers, who is quite possibly the
bravest person I've ever met in my life."
"Brave, huh? So brave I couldn't wait to crawl
back into my grave as soon as I got out of it."
"Are you doing that now? I don't think so. And
certainly, after sacrificing yourself to save the world and humanity twice,
you'd earned your rest. You were cheated of it. But you're back. And you've
forgiven Willow and Xander and the others..."
Buffy picked at a thread on the bedspread and refused
to meet Giles' eye.
"No, I haven't, really."
"But...Willow still lives here. And she talked
about Xander and Anya coming here for movie nights...I really thought..."
"Giles, I don't have any right to be mad at them.
They were trying to save me. I owe them my life. It's not their fault I didn't
She looked down at herself with a wry smile.
"Whaddya know?" she observed. "that
thinking about rotten stuff trick worked. I'll have to remember that."
"It's one I've relied on far too many times,"
Giles admitted. "And Buffy, you have every right to be angry about what was
done to you. You have the right to let people know you're upset and why."
"After all this time, even?"
"It certainly didn't stop you from giving me a
piece of your mind just now."
"It wasn't like I had the chance to finish yelling
at you before you left. The guys...it's been months and I've seen them every
day. I'd feel pretty dumb saying something now."
"Just think about it."
"When did you get to be touchy-feely share
"I'll let you know when I do."
They smiled at one another.
"So what are you doing up here, anyway, Giles? You
came up here for something and we got sorta sidetracked with your definite lack
of need for Viagra and my eternal angst."
"Ah, well...it would seem that I need some form of
"And you brought your suitcase with you
"Giles, did you pretend to be me?"
"Well...a little. I'm not sure why."
"And what did you do as me?"
"I...well...I told Willow not to keep Dawn out so
"And...well...sort of lead them to think..."
"That we were getting all snuggly up here?"
"No! Of course not!"
"That...I was sleeping in your room and you were
bringing something up to me."
"I'm afraid I did. Is it bad?"
"You know what they're going to be doing tomorrow,
"Researching the history of Watcher/Slayer nookie
with emphasis on mind control spells."
"Oh dear lord. Really?"
"Yu-huh. so there's only one thing to do
"Make them think they have something to research
while we sit up all night telling each other how to cope with being in the wrong
"Buffy," he chided, "that's
"But fun and informative. Now, about this whole
standing up to pee thing...what's the deal with that?"
When Buffy woke up the next morning, she could feel
arms around her. Small, soft, yet surprisingly strong arms with little hands
that squeezed lightly at her...where her breasts ought to be.
It took a moment for the previous days' events to
become clear in her mind again.
Giles back...funky demon...zapped with whammy
Bodyswitch with Giles.
Talk with Giles.
Weird sort of semi-girltalk with Giles.
Falling asleep with Giles.
Sleeping with Giles?!
Just sleeping. Only sleep happened. Nothing more.
Only now she lay in bed with her Watcher feeling her up
while they were stranded in each others' bodies.
And he was asleep.
"Just when you think life on the Hellmouth can't
get any freakier, it does."
She stifled a small groan as her nipple stiffened in
response to Giles' ministrations. It wasn't the only thing that was hard.
His fingers were so gentle, so skillful, as they rolled
her tight nipple. Part of her knew she had to stop this, but the rest of her
refused to do anything about it.
After all, he would be so embarrassed, she told
herself, if he woke up to find himself molesting her...or himself, if looked at
from another angle, which would be a little funky, but perfectly normal...except
it wouldn't be.
Buffy's mind began to swim from the leaps of logic it
took to figure out what exactly was going on.
And Giles' hand was moving south.
She bit her lip to keep from making any noise.
His fingers brushed softly over her now aching cock.
The fingers stopped.
They double checked what they had found.
They stopped again.
Buffy kept her eyes firmly shut and her breathing as
deep and steady as possible. Giles would be too horrified if she caught him
feeling her up, she decided.
She knew the instant Giles realized what he'd been up
to. His hand flew away from her crotch, and she felt him roll quickly out of
Buffy continued to feign sleep until she heard Giles
hurry to the bathroom and start the shower.
Something told her she would be in there next...and
that the water heater wouldn't be involved in any way.
When Giles got out of the shower, he found that Buffy
had discretely vacated the room and left her uniform on the bed for him, along
with a few notes about how to cope with the job he was suddenly forced to do.
Now all he had to do was figure out how to put on a bra and steel himself to
wear that ridiculous cap.
He heard the water running in the bathroom again and
wondered if he ought to try to talk to Buffy when she was done in there. He
hadn't meant to fondle her, really. It was that dream. The one he'd had a
million times where he was holding Buffy and she wanted him to make love to her.
Of course, this was reality where she didn't want that.
And where she suddenly had a penis.
So at least it wasn't like he was touching another man;
just himself, as he had done so many times before.
Except that he wasn't.
He was touching Buffy.
He didn't dare do that again. What if she'd woken up
and found him touching her?
He knew she'd have been at minimum terribly upset, and
more likely would have become violent.
No, it wouldn't do to let that happen again. He'd just
have to sleep on the sofa until they got this mess straightened out.
Now if he could just figure out how to put Buffy's bra
He'd taken many a bra off a woman in his life, but he'd
never tried to wear one himself. Nor had he paid that much attention on mornings
after when the women put their bras back on again. Usually he'd been trying too
hard to either impress them with his breakfast cooking skills or convince them
they really didn't need to get dressed yet.
Maybe he could do just as well without one. It wasn't
as if Buffy's breasts were all that large, after all.
Yes, he would make do without a bra for one day,
And at least she'd put out a fairly sensible pair of
knickers as opposed to the frilly things he'd found himself wearing when they
switched bodies in the first place. He wondered if she often wore silky, pretty
underthings, or if there was a particular purpose to her choice on the previous
Never mind that, he decided, as he slid the panties up
his suddenly short legs to his now oddly empty feeling crotch.
That was the part that felt the strangest.
He could deal with being short and having breasts and a
voice that suddenly reminded him of being ten years old with its higher pitch,
but he missed his penis.
He could only hope Buffy had listened to him about its
proper care last night.
And pray that he got his own body back before he had to
deal with the horrors Buffy had described when she talked about menstrual
When Buffy finished her shower and went downstairs, she
found Giles was already in the kitchen working on breakfast. She could hear
Willow and Dawn moving in their rooms, but neither had emerged to face the day
yet. Buffy was somewhat relieved by that. It meant she'd have a minute to talk
to Giles about what they were going to say to their friends.
"Hey Watcher-man, what's cooking?"
"Good morning, Buffy. It's an omelet."
"What kind?" she asked as she peered over his
shoulder - an operation that was much easier now that she towered a foot over
"There really isn't a name for it, though Xander
called it a kitchen sink omelet when I made one for him once. It's really a bit
of everything on hand."
"You made breakfast for Xander? When was this?
Inquiring minds want to know, Giles."
"It was a couple years ago. And no, he had not
spent the night, nor had anything untoward happened."
"Jumpy much? I wasn't asking anything like
that....and really, *really* not about Xander." She turned to start the
coffee. "Speaking of Xander, though..."
"What about him?"
"Well, not just Xander. Will and Dawn and Anya and
everybody: what do we tell them? About this." She gestured vaguely at her
unfamiliar body. "And when do we tell it?"
"Tell what?" Dawn asked as she bounded into
the kitchen and stole a piece of bell pepper Giles was about to dice.
"Dawn, stop that! I don't want to chop your finger
"Grouchy," Dawn stuck out her tongue at her
supposed sister. She turned to face Giles, as she thought. "What are you
guys up to? Is it end of the world stuff or something I'm actually allowed to
know about? How long are you staying, Giles? You're staying, right?"
Buffy and Giles looked at one another over Dawn's head.
A silent conversation passed between them and a mutual decision was reached
without a word.
Buffy took Dawn's hand and led her to the breakfast
"Sit down, Dawn. I've got something to tell
Dawn clambered onto a stool and eyed her sister warily,
sure that she was Giles. Buffy reached out and stroked her sister's hair. It was
a gesture she often used to comfort the younger girl.
"Why are you doing that, Giles?" she asked,
"Because I'm not Giles. I know I look like him and
I sound like him, but I'm not him. I'm Buffy."
Dawn looked wildly from one to the other. Giles just
nodded and went back to cooking his omelet.
"You guys are joking, right? People don't just
switch bodies like this."
"You know it happened before. Remember when Faith
stole my body?"
"No. I remember when Faith stole Buffy's body.
You're Giles. She's Buffy. Faith was evil. You guys aren't evil."
"We didn't do this on purpose. There was a demon.
A seriously nasty one that's caused all sorts of problems forever with crazy
magic. It hit us and when we woke up, I was Giles and he was me."
"So last night it was really Giles who told me not
to come home so late?" Dawn looked anxiously to the stove.
"I'm afraid so, Dawn. I really don't know what
came over me."
"I do," Buffy said. "I got hit once by
this raygun blaster thingie that made stuff invisible, so nobody could see me. I
went nuts. I thought since nobody could see me, it didn't matter what I did.
It's a sort of a rush not to be responsible for what you're doing. But
responsibility's such a big deal with you that you can't even be really
irresponsible when you're being really irresponsible, so you used your powers
for good instead of evil. Which makes you a way better person than me."
Giles blinked at Buffy.
"Do you know the most frightening thing about that
entire theory? I actually understood what you were saying."
"And...I suppose you're right."
"See Dawn, I was right."
"Yes, I'm far the superior person, I agree."
"You guys really were telling the truth,"
Dawn said. "There's no way you could make that up if you were just
pretending to be each other."
When the girls got to the shop, they quickly explained
the situation to Xander and Anya. All four settled down to research
bodyswitching spells. Eventually, Xander had to leave for work, Anya got busy
with customers and Willow announced that she had to go to class. Buffy stood up
from the table, too.
"Where are you going, G - Buffy?" Xander
"Good save, Xand. I just thought I'd take a break
from the research thing. Maybe go get a mocha or something."
"You might want to check out a barber shop on the
way," Anya observed.
"I didn't want to rip Giles' face all to pieces
trying to shave it. He'd glare at me."
Xander, Willow and Anya shared a bemused smile. Buffy
"Okay, so I know it's sorta wimpy, but it's Giles.
You've all seen his glare. I don't want to see it directed at me is all."
"Um, Buff, I think you forgot something,"
"You're wearing his glare now, since you're
wearing his face."
Buffy grinned from ear to ear.
"Hey! You're right!"
Giles muttered mutinously under his breath as he
lowered the french fry basket into the hot grease.
"How in heaven's name does Buffy put up with
Todd, in the meantime, continued to drivel on
pointlessly about half-digested political ideas. Giles thought if he heard the
Doublemeat power structure compared to something out of Machiavelli one more
time he was going to do serious violence to the boy. Besides that, it was clear
that this young cretin thought he was an utter idiot. No. Worse than that: he
thought Buffy was stupid. Buffy might have her faults - did have them, in fact -
but she was certainly not stupid. Even without her SAT scores it was clear that
Buffy's mind was not lacking. She was an excellent strategist, and perfectly
capable of learning whatever she felt a need to know.
But this barely post-pubescent twit not only thought he
was smarter than Buffy, but that it was his right to tell her so over and over
and over again ad bloody nauseum.
Buffy might stand it for herself, but there was no way
Giles was going to stand it for her.
And the boy continued to blather on.
"...of course, I'm not saying Nazi Germany was a
model society, really, but at least Hitler made the trains run on time, if you
know what I mean..."
"...but of course...what? Mussolini?"
"Benito Mussolini? Il Duce? Certainly you've heard of him?"
"Of course I've heard of him," Todd answered
defensively. "What about him? What does he have to do with Hitler?"
"Aside from the fact that they were allies in
World War II? Not that much, I suppose. Their ideologies were actually rather
different if you look at them in detail. But that's beside the point. What I was
trying to say is that it was Mussolini, not Hitler, who made the trains run on
time. A common mistake among the undereducated and the willfully ignorant."
"Wha...how...that can't be right. Anyway, how
would you know that? You're a dropout."
Giles smiled. Somehow, Todd didn't find it pleasant.
"I've forgotten more than you'll ever know if you
live to be a hundred. And you know why that is? Because I know how to keep my
mouth shut and learn from people instead of carrying on about things I know
nothing about. And while we're at it, don't you have anything better to do than
talk at me? You're at work. Work for a change."
Todd glared for a moment then turned on his heel.
"I'm going on break," he spat as he walked
"And you have no idea how close you came to being
broken in two," Giles added as he pulled the fries from the grease.
Freed from the labors of research, Buffy headed
straight to the mall. If she knew Giles, that credit card in his pocket rarely
got used, and was probably paid off in full every month.
"Not this month, unless he's got a big ol' pile of
money in his bank account," she grinned. "But first, mocha goodness at
She stopped and picked up a magazine to scan while she
drank her coffee. In deference to the body she inhabited, she decided against
Cosmo and picked up Entertainment Weekly instead. She knew Giles would prefer
something more intellectual, but she couldn't make heads or tails of Archeology
Digest or anything like that. Maybe if she had him there to answer her
questions, but not on her own. There was too much she didn't understand. Now if
he offered to take her on a dig, that might work. Hands on always made it easier
for her to understand things.
Learning about Russell Crowe's latest film, she could
do on the printed page.
She sipped her mocha and flipped the pages of her
magazine, content to have nothing better to do for once. After a moment, she
frowned. When was the last time she'd had to just do nothing? Aside from the
months she'd spent in her grave, that is.
When had it been?
Her eyes opened wider when she realized it had been
before her mother died.
Since then, she'd had to care for Dawn as well as the
world. Her own life had been put entirely on hold. She'd dropped out of school,
stopped going to the movies or hanging out at The Bronze. Even the few social
events since then had been tainted with her Slayer duties or her obligations to
Dawn. Usually both.
She didn't want to let her mind go there, but it got
stubborn on her and insisted on looking at what she didn't want to see.
Spike had been her only release valve in the mess of
her life for months now. When she was with him, she could forget responsibility,
duty, Slaying, Dawn, and all the things that made life unbearable to her. God,
she could completely forget life since he was dead.
"Really great coping mechanism, Buff," she
muttered to herself.
Maybe she needed to make the time to do something
healthier in the way of escapism.
She couldn't believe how much better she felt with a
little time off and nothing important to do in it.
Plus reading a magazine and drinking coffee, while not
exactly the healthiest things she could be doing, either, were at least more
socially acceptable than having sex with a vampire she didn't even like.
And spending lots of someone else's money had to be the
most socially acceptable vice in the country.
She heard giggling at another table and glanced over to
see two young women looking in her direction as they consulted one another and
blushed. She looked around to see what boy they were admiring, but there wasn't
a guy in sight...except her.
They were checking her out.
And it felt oddly good.
It had been a long time since anyone had checked her
But they were really checking out Giles, she realized.
Giles. Her Watcher. Tweedman. Safe, old guy Giles.
Couldn't these girls find anyone their own age?
Suddenly it struck her that she'd almost never found a
guy her own age.
Angel was more than two hundred years older than she
was, Riley was six years older, and as for Spike...
He was a great big mistake that she didn't want to
think about anymore.
Plus he was at least a hundred years older than her.
So Giles was...twenty-seven years older. Was that
really so far out of the ballpark? It's not like a Slayer could expect to live
another thirty years when she was already pushing twenty-one.
Really, a guy Giles' age wouldn't be so bad, as long as
he could understand about the whole Slayer thing and protect himself.
But it was all wrong for those girls at the table. They
could have the Owen Thurmans and Scott Hopes out there who needed nice, ordinary
girls who weren't going to die in the next fifteen minutes. Even Riley had found
himself a nice, demon hunting girl who had fully as much chance of living
another fifty years as he did.
Those guys were really off limits to a Slayer. She'd
fought that idea over and over and over again, but she finally realized the
truth of it.
"I can't be normal if I'm the Slayer. I can't have
a normal guy in my life."
But for the first time in her life, she didn't mind
that so much.
Maybe being boy-free Buffy didn't have to be that bad.
And even when everyone else around her coupled off, Giles was there to make her
feel less third-wheely.
If he stayed this time. She wondered if he would.
She hoped so.
Maybe it was time to kiss and make up - so to speak.
But first, she so needed to improve his wardrobe.
She stood and headed out of the coffee shop.
First stop, The Gap.
Xander walked into the Magic Box, the way he usually
did on his lunch hour. He met Anya at the counter with a kiss.
"So, find anything interesting while I was
"In the books?" Anya asked. "Of course
not. I've been working, just like you. But I have been thinking. About Buffy and
Giles and the way they switched bodies."
"Have you seen anything like this before? Ever do
this to some schmoe in your vengeance days?"
"Of course not, Xander. The women I helped wanted
vengeance. They didn't like the men well enough to want to be them. Usually they
just wanted to either hurt or embarrass them badly."
"Okay, so what were you thinking about this,
"I was thinking about what we should do if
something like this happened to us."
"Happened to...Anya, this isn't going to happen to
"How do you know? Anything's possible on the
Hellmouth. We could wake up tomorrow and be each other. This could be just the
start of an epidemic. People could be switching bodies left and right all over
town. What if I got zapped when I was with Willow or Tara? Would I not want to
be with a man anymore? Or if I got changed when I was with you, would I not find
you attractive because you don't have a penis anymore?"
"An, calm down. This was a demon attack, remember?
It's not an epidemic."
"Well, if we ran into the same demon, what then?
Buffy didn't kill it. She was too busy being unconscious...and turning into
Giles. That means it's still out there."
Xander took his fiancée by the shoulders and spoke
sincerely to her.
"It doesn't matter, Anya. Even if you had my body
and I had yours...which is a little strange as a concept, and even
disturbing...even then I would love you. It wouldn't change how I feel."
Anya looked at the floor, then up into Xander's eyes.
She smiled slightly.
"So...you would still have sex with me even if I
had the penis?"
Xander's jaw worked for several seconds before he could
"I...that is...An, I don't know. That's
sorta...weird. But, I dunno, maybe?"
Anya frowned and toyed with one of his shirt buttons.
"Then maybe we should close the shop for lunch and
do it while we're still ourselves."
"Best plan I've heard all day."
Buffy signed Giles' name to yet another charge slip.
She'd worried the first time she tried it. She wasn't entirely sure Giles' body
would cooperate with her on that. What if it signed the slip with her name? Or
if it just blew a fuse trying to sign both names? Or couldn't figure out which
hand to use?
In the end, the body had taken over and she found
herself taking the pen in her left hand and signing Giles' name as if she'd been
doing it for decades.
Now all she had to worry about was maxing out his card.
Then again, Giles deserved a bit of punishment for
abandoning her. And anyway, she was doing him a big favor he didn't deserve.
She'd started with snug-fitting jeans and a few tee
shirts in colors other than black, white, and gray. Then had come some cool
black boots. Next she'd gotten him some underwear she liked better than his
floppy boxers that made her feel as if her new privates were dangling
unprotected. He now owned several pairs of stretch boxers in neat colors and
some fairly abbreviated briefs in tiger stripe and zebra stripe prints. Then
some trendier shirts than he normally wore with tab collars and jewel-toned
prints. A selection of earrings followed that. And now, the piece de resistance:
a form-fitting black leather suit.
Just one more place would do it.
Late in the afternoon, Xander and Willow, sat around
the tarot table researching. Anya joined them in between waiting on customers.
The bell over the door jangled as Dawn walked into the room and joined her
"Hey Dawnie," Willow greeted her. "How
was school today?"
"Okay, I guess. It was sorta hard to
"What did you do afterwards?" Anya asked.
"You know you were supposed to come here right away. You're late."
"I went home to get a snack."
"Was Buffy there?" Xander asked. "Is she
"I don't think she is," Dawn said. "She
was just sitting on the back porch, staring at stuff. Y'know, sorta the way she
did right after...she got back. I tried to ask her what was up, but she didn't
say anything. It sorta freaked me out."
The others looked at one another, concern clear on
"Maybe someone should go talk to her...?"
"It's probably something about the
bodyswitch," Anya theorized. "Maybe she's just upset about that. In
that case, the faster we get her back into her own body, the faster we'll fix
her problem and the faster she'll be okay again."
"And this wouldn't have anything to do with the
fact that she's going to be your bridesmaid next weekend?"
"Well, I can't have a man bridesmaid. That would
"Xander's having a girl best man," Dawn
"And that's more than enough non-traditional
gender roleplay for one wedding. Besides, if she's in Giles' body, Buffy won't
fit into her dress. It will be far too small."
"Guys," Xander interrupted, "I think
we're missing the point here. If Buffy's upset about being too masculine, what
we need to do is find a way to make her girly again. You all know how she is.
She'll brood until we have a cure, so let's crack the books and fix this
"Couldn't we do it the way we did when Faith stole
her body?" Dawn asked.
Willow shook her head.
"That was done with a Draconian Katra spell, so we
could reverse it with another katra that just sorta un-katraed things. But this
was something different. We have to figure out what was done to undo it. And
find someone to do the spell."
Dawn sat. She held her hand out.
"Book me, somebody."
Giles had reached the end of his rope.
He'd been on his feet all day flipping burger patties,
dipping freeze-dried potatoes into vats of grease, and dealing with people who
ate this unhealthy crap on a daily basis. Several of them claimed an
acquaintance with him, which meant Buffy must serve them regularly. They
certainly weren't the sort of people he could see her going very far out of her
way to know. Not one of them had an idea in his or her head that hadn't been
placed there by television.
He began to appreciate how lucky he'd been to have been
chosen to Watch Buffy, who, while not inclined to books, was smart and intuitive
and unconventional even when she tried her best to be average. As for her
friends, Willow was a born researcher and near-genius, and Xander...Xander was
no Einstein, certainly, and his social skills were sometimes lacking, but no one
could question the boy's courage or his loyalty. Anya might be maddening at
times, but her knowledge of the underworld was very useful and every once in a
while her bluntness made for a bracing reminder of what they all needed to
accomplish. Dawn was a difficult child in some ways, but she showed evidence of
the same courage and stubborn determination that had so drawn him to both Buffy
and Joyce from the beginning. As for Tara...he was surprised at how much he
missed her. She was such a gentle, motherly soul, though there was steel in her
backbone if one pushed her too far.
It had been hard to leave them all behind once, let
alone twice. He wasn't sure he could do it a third time.
"Buffy! Hey, wake up!" Lorraine called.
"Okay, that's it," Lorraine said.
"You've been zoning out on me all week long, and today you've been looking
at all the equipment as if you'd never seen it before in your life."
"I've been a bit distracted, I'll admit..."
"Distracted? I think you're more than
distracted." She handed him a plastic cup. "Fill this. I'm sending
Sophie in with you to make sure you don't cheat."
Giles took the cup in a daze.
"Fill this with what?"
Todd began to snicker in the background.
"You've taken this test before, Buffy."
"Is this...you want me to take a urine test? You
think I'm on drugs?!"
"I think if you aren't I'm going to be
Giles drew himself up to his full height, which was now
disconcertingly short. Still, he was furious and he knew well that Buffy's face
could produce a scowl that had made many a vampire run screaming into the night.
He scowled. Lorraine swallowed hard.
"If you think I'm going to go through the
humiliation and degradation of pissing into a plastic cup so you can check
whether I took a hit off a joint a week ago, you are sadly mistaken."
"It's your dignity or your job, Buffy."
Giles removed his hat.
"Why would I want this pathetic excuse for a job?
I can do far, far better for myself than this. The rest of you may be content to
wear a hideous uniform and this ridiculous hat, but I am neither an imbecile nor
insane. How can you all trade in your souls for a minimum wage paycheck and a
daily helping of greasy, unhealthy, unappetizing arterial muck? How you all do
this job without resorting to pharmaceutical aid is bloody well beyond me!"
He marched up to Lorraine and thrust the hat into her
"You can take this job and blow it out your ass,
madam! I quit!"
The rest of the staff stared, dumbfounded, as Giles
stalked off into the night.
At first, he felt good about what he'd done. The nerve
of those people! Thinking Buffy was on drugs was beyond laughable. This job,
this insult to dignity, was beneath Buffy.
Suddenly, it hit him what he'd done.
He'd quit Buffy's job.
He'd quit Buffy's job without Buffy's permission.
She was going to slay him.
He stopped and groaned in dismay.
All at once he became aware of a presence behind him.
He was startled, nearly panicked when he realized he didn't have a stake with
Then he smiled.
Of course. In this body he had Slayer strength.
He prayed he knew what he was doing as he kicked out
behind him and connected with cold, solid flesh.
"Ow! Bloody hell, Slayer! Watch where you're
pointing that thing, will you!"
Giles stood down.
"What are you up to, Spike?"
He really didn't want to deal with Spike.
"We still need to talk, Slayer."
"About what?" Giles snapped.
"About our so-called relationship. About the way
you won't tell your little friends how many times you came to my crypt and had
your wicked way with me."
"What are you talking about?"
"About you and me and the way you're too high and
mighty to admit you did the deed with me. Well you wanted it enough before.
Still do, if you're honest which you never bloody are. So cut the crap and come
with me and we can break it to the kiddies later on tonight while the bites
Giles stared at the vampire. It took him a long time to
find his voice.
It was all he could manage. He couldn't believe Spike
would be saying these things if Buffy hadn't slept with him, but he was
horrified at the thought.
"It'll be great. After your friends toss you out
like last week's garbage, you can give up all your pretending and be with me, in
the dark, where you belong."
Giles decided to play along and see what he could find
"And what about Dawn? She can't live in the
"From what I hear, that won't be a problem much
longer. You've made a right mess of that, haven't you? Turned her into a
bleeding Kleptomaniac. Believe me, Pet, the authorities are going to drag her
away from you in about another two minutes at this rate. Face it, you've
bolloxed your whole life up and nobody wants to be with you but me. I'm all
you've got. Might as well take me while I'm still interested."
"So...you're still interested, Spike? Even after
all the bad things I've done?"
Giles moved closer to the vampire. He put his hand on
Spike's still chest.
"Well...yeah, I am. Nobody hurts me like you
"So you get off on the pain, is that it? Or is it
the rush of knowing you're doing the Slayer?"
"You know me too well," Spike chuckled as he
pushed his hips closer to the prize.
"That's right, Spike. I know you too well to put
up with this bullshit."
Giles brought his knee up with Slayer force between
Spike's legs. The vampire crumpled to the ground in pain, clutching his groin.
"And if you ever come near me again, Spike, I'll
teach you the true meaning of pain, and I don't mean the kind you like."
"W - what...?" Spike gasped out.
"You don't love Buffy. You just want to brag that
you bagged another Slayer the only way you could. All you want is to be in
control and get laid. Well find someone else to keep under your thumb. This body
is off limits to you."
He walked away as quickly as he could so Spike wouldn't
see when he had to stop and retch behind a headstone.
A couple stood arguing at the video display in the
"What about this one, Xander?"
"No way, An. We are not getting that."
"'Bi The Book'? Do you know what that means when
they call a video something like that?"
"It means it's set in a library or a
"Not that part, An. When the term 'bi' is in the
title, it means that there's going to be guys...indulging in some excess
brotherly love that I really don't want to see."
"How do you know that?"
"I just do, okay."
"What's wrong with it if there are men having sex
with each other? You like the ones where two women have sex."
"That's pretty much all of them, An. Except the
ones that don't have girls at all, I guess."
"Yes, but you like the scenes. And you expect me
to like them when I find them sort of boring. I don't think sex can be nearly as
exciting without a penis involved. This has scenes with two penises involved.
Maybe more. I find that exciting. Don't you?"
"No! I really, really don't. And we are not
getting that one. Find another. One that doesn't have boys...being boys
Anya shrugged and put the videotape back on the shelf.
"Fine. You pick something. I need to get more
massage oil, anyway."
She looked up towards the oil display, then tugged on
Xander's shirt sleeve.
"Xander," she hissed. "Look over there.
It's Buffy...I mean Giles."
Xander peered over the film display and swallowed hard.
"He's buying something. Something that seems to
The pair ducked down as Giles turned around as if he
expected to see someone. When they looked over the top of the rack again, Giles
"What would Giles be doing buying things
Anya was clearly puzzled.
"He's in Buffy's bod. Maybe he's been
"What does that have to do with it."
"Well, Slayers...when they slay...they
Anya glared daggers at her fiancé.
"How do you know that?"
Xander tried to smile ingratiatingly, but it came out
as a grimace combined with a slightly hysterical giggle.
"I don't. Pure rumor. Silly, the things those
wacky vampires say when they're trying to throw you off balance."
He watched Anya, desperately praying that she would
accept his explanation. He never wanted to tell her about his twenty minutes of
passion with Faith.
She scrutinized his face for a long moment, then
finally nodded, seemingly satisfied with what she saw there.
"I believe you, Xander."
He blew out a relieved breath.
"Good. Honey, I don't think we really need a movie
to inspire us, do we? Maybe we can just head home and forget about movies and
Slayers and what the hell Giles was doing in a place like this."
"Okay. Just let me get the massage oil. Did you
want cherry or lemon?"
"Surprise me. I love it when you do that."
Buffy moved inside only after it was too dark to see
anymore. She headed up to her bedroom in hopes that she wouldn't have to talk to
anyone else at least until morning.
She sat on the bed, hugging a pillow to her chest for a
long time. She was alone until Giles got back, anyway. Dawn had phoned from the
Magic Box to say she'd been invited to spend the night with her friend Janice,
and Willow had a late class.
When the door slammed, she barely raised her head at
the sound. Giles was back, but she didn't go down to see him.
Not that it mattered since he was on his way up.
"Buffy? Are you there?"
Great. He sounded mad. Had she forgotten to tell him
something important about work? She thought she'd covered everything.
He knocked on her bedroom door.
"Buffy, I need to talk to you. Please let me
"It's open," she said quietly.
Giles came into the room carrying a sack. One look was
enough to tell her he was livid. In fact the last time she'd seen Giles this
angry was a day she wished she could forget; the day Giles had discovered that
Angel was back from Hell and she hadn't told him about it.
Somehow she knew the first words that were going to
come out of his mouth, though she prayed she was wrong.
"I saw Spike."
Buffy winced. Those were exactly the words she hadn't
wanted to hear.
"What the hell were you thinking, Buffy? Why
Spike? I know you don't love him. He said as much when he spoke to me. If all
you want is sex, there are better ways to get it. And if what you're looking for
is a toy, then buy a bloody toy and have done with it."
He thrust the bag at her.
She flinched as if he'd hit her.
"As for Spike..."
"I know. I hurt him."
"I don't care what you did to Spike. I care about
what you did to you. He was using you, Buffy, and you let him. How could you let
him talk that way to you? I've seen you hurt boys badly for less than what he
said to me thinking it was you tonight. If Riley had spoken to you that way,
you'd have torn him limb from limb, and rightly so. And as for your job - which
I'm afraid you no longer have - I cannot believe you lasted a day in that
wretched place. The people who work there are cretins and imbeciles, the work is
mind-numbingly boring, and the rules are specifically designed to break the
human spirit. What were you doing there, Buffy?"
She finally looked up.
"You lost my job?! Dammit, Giles, I needed it! How
am I going to pay the bills without it?"
"How were you paying the bills on that paycheck?
You knew you had to get out of there; you're too intelligent not to have worked
it out. You'll just have to get by on whatever Willow can contribute until you
find something else."
"What about Willow? Surely she's paying
Buffy shook her head.
"She's in school and her scholarships only cover
stuff like tuition and books. She's broke, too."
Giles sat on the edge of the bed. He shook his head in
"Then she can bloody well get a job just as well
as you can. Plenty of people work their way through college. And Dawn is quite
old enough to do some babysitting at least, so she can pay for some of her own
"But...but you...you said..."
"I said you needed to stand on your own two feet,
Buffy. I never said you ought to become the world's doormat."
With that, Buffy burst into tears. She cried
uncontrollably, in great, gulping sobs that seemed to start in her toes. Giles
ignored his discomfort with the situation and reached out to remove the glasses
from Buffy's face and place them out of harm's way. Once he'd accomplished that,
he did the only thing he could think of and pulled her into his arms.
"Please don't cry so, Buffy. I didn't mean to
upset you. I'm frightfully clumsy at this sort of thing, you know. Shhhh, I
didn't mean to scold you. There, there, now. It's just...I know you can do so
Nothing he said seemed to make much difference, so, in
the end, he just held her and rocked her until she had cried herself out.
When she was done, he silently handed her Kleenexes
until she'd dried her eyes and nose sufficiently to look as though she could
talk to him. He passed her the glasses. She half-smiled at him in a watery way
as she put them back on and sniffled one more time.
"If it makes you feel any better, I'd already
broken up with Spike. He wasn't listening very well, but I'd done it. And this
might show you I'd figured out my future wasn't at Doublemeat Palace."
She stood and walked to her desk. A moment later she
handed Giles a piece of paper.
"See? I was working on a résumé. Not that I'd
gotten very far, but I started it. I was actually counting on getting a
reference from Lorraine, but I guess you fixed that. Just so I know, why did I
Giles felt the blood rising in his cheeks as he read
over the paper in his hand. He might have known nothing could keep Buffy down
that far forever.
"You quit. You...um...you refused to take a drug
Buffy rolled her eyes.
"Great. That's just peachy, Giles. Do you have any
idea how bad that looks to potential new employers? Thanks to you, I'm going to
have a hell of a time replacing that paycheck. You've screwed up my one chance
to move up."
She sat on the bed again and glared at Giles. He looked
sheepishly at her.
"I'm sorry. I suppose I ought to have talked to
you before I flew off the handle like that."
Buffy blew out a frustrated breath.
"You were just trying to help me out," she
said. "It's not all your fault." She cocked one eyebrow at him.
"And I so cannot believe you bought me a vibrator!"
She almost laughed at his blush.
"I - it's...well, actually, I got you...several
items. I - I wasn't sure what you'd like best."
"And I'm gonna use this stuff exactly how while
I'm in your body?"
"S - s - some things...can be
used....well...Buffy, I'm sorry. I wasn't thinking. I was just so angry,
"And you wanted to make a point so I'd get it. I
know. It's okay. I sorta deserved a lot of it anyway. And you're right. I suck
at relationships. Maybe it's time I just got myself some battery-operated pals
and gave up on men. I always seem to mess things up with the real deal."
"You're young, Buffy. It's not as if many people
find their true soulmates by your age. It does, however, help if one sticks more
or less to one's own species at any rate. You know what a mistake it is to get
involved with a vampire. Why did you do it?"
"He kept wanting it so much. And nobody else
seemed to want me very much. Except you. And the me you wanted wasn't the one I
could be right then. I couldn't even pretend to be her. And there was so
much...stuff to deal with. I couldn't. And everybody walked on eggshells around
me, like they thought I was gonna poof into smoke, but nobody wanted to hear
what was wrong. I couldn't tell Will what she'd done to me when she was so proud
of it. And now she knows, neither one of us wants to say anything about it. I
think she's sorry. I have to think that. Giles, everything fell to little pieces
and then you left again. I couldn't take any more. Spike made me forget."
"Everything. Bills, Dawn, Slaying, you, Willow and
Xander and Anya and Tara and Doublemeat Palace and Heaven and digging myself out
of my grave. All of it. It all went away for a little while. I don't like him,
and no matter how many times he tells me he loves me, I don't think he likes me,
either. But for a little while, I didn't have to care about anything. I didn't
have to be me. And now here I am being you. Classic case of 'be careful what you
wish for', huh?"
Giles smiled wryly.
"I don't suppose you really want to be me. It's
not the most rewarding of occupations. Still, I'd grown rather used to it."
"I didn't mean to make it sound like...and Little
Miss Foot In Mouth strikes again. But face it, Giles. You got the good part of
"You get to keep your brain, which is way above
average and filled with all sorts of useful things to learn and know, plus you
get the Slayer strength. What am I left with? My brain which, no matter what you
say, isn't anywhere near as smart as yours and your body which has seen a few
miles. Not that it's not a nice body. I mean, you've kept it in good shape even
if it's a little scarred up in spots and stuff. But it doesn't have super
strength or Slayer healing or hyper-impressive hearing and night vision.
It's...just a body, which is fine, but not like being the Slayer. It is kinda
nice, though, to be able to reach things on the top shelves of stuff. I'll give
"It's nice to know it's better in some way,"
he observed, "if only in superior reach."
"Don't get snarky with me. You know what I mean.
You know so many things I'll never know."
"So you think you have nothing to offer because
you don't read five languages and are currently unable to kill demons without
getting winded? Why do you insist on thinking so little of yourself?"
"Is there really a reason I shouldn't?"
Giles reached out and touched Buffy on the jaw.
"There's one. Just there."
"Huh? What do you mean?"
"That's the spot where you hit me to stop me going
to meet The Master in your place. I thought for a moment when I came to that
you'd broken it." He smiled fondly. "You were only sixteen and you
knew that you were going to your death, but you went anyway. You didn't let a
little thing like that stop you."
"So I have a talent for death. Great. Just what I
wanted for Christmas."
"That's not what I meant, Buffy. If anything, you
have the opposite: a talent for life. Do you have any idea how much I've learned
from you since we met? I spent so many years after Eyghon in hiding from the
world, from myself, I was damn near mummified when I came here. Then you came
along and reminded me that there was so much more to living than duty and rules
and...tweed. You made me believe that, perhaps, I could have more. Friendship,
laughter, even love."
"That love thing hasn't ever worked out so well
for either one of us, has it?"
"Not as yet, I'll admit. But I'm not ready to give
up hope, and I don't believe you should either. You're a lovely young woman,
inside and out. Any man who can get your love ought to be proud to have
Buffy ducked her head as her eyes filled with more
"You think way too much of me, Giles."
"Nonsense. Who's the smart one here?"
"I never said you weren't insane."
"I might have known you'd leave yourself a
The pair chuckled and leaned against one another.
"As loopholes go, I have to say it's one of my
better ones." She sat silent for a moment. "Giles?" she said at
last, "Why don't we ever hug?"
"We do," he protested. She shot him an amused
look. "Well, we do...sometimes. We have a few times..."
"Not many. Why is that?"
"I suppose because we're neither of us very
tactile people. We're not inclined to touch casually."
"But I hug Will. And I hug Xander sometimes. I
think I've hugged Anya more times than you. That's just wrong."
"Is that what you were brooding about when I came
Buffy shook her head.
"Nah. I just wondered."
"If you're hinting that you'd like a hug, you know
you can just try giving me one."
"Really? Anytime? No big disaster necessary?"
"Not even a little one."
With that, Buffy wrapped her arms around Giles and laid
her head atop his. She sighed contentedly.
"Know what, Giles?"
"This is nice. It's nice when we're friends. I
don't want to be mad at you anymore."
"I must admit, I'd rather we were past all this
"Then let's be past it. I missed you. A lot. But I
think this hugging thing is better the other way around."
"What way is that?"
"When I'm the little one and you're the big one.
Makes me feel all girly and protected."
"It does at that. I find I like the feeling
myself. It's a nice break from feeling the need to take care of everyone, to be
the one being taken care of."
Buffy pulled back, startled.
"I never thought about it, but you must get as
tired of that as I do. Who takes care of you, Giles?"
"Tell you what, I'll make you a deal. You take
care of me a little, and I'll take care of you back."
Giles flashed one of his quick, tiny smiles and
"Buffy...may I ask you something?"
"Sure, Giles. What?"
"Why is my body wearing a leather suit? I know I
didn't own one before."
Buffy grinned sheepishly and held out her arms to
display the outfit.
"Surprise? Like it?"
"It's...it's...I suppose it's...a well-made suit.
I'm just not quite certain it's...me."
Buffy looked crestfallen.
"I thought you looked good in it."
"Buffy...I'm sure the suit is very nice, but I'm
forty-eight years old. A man my age in a leather suit...well, he usually looks a
bit of a prat."
"But you don't look all pratty in it. I think you
Giles raised his eyebrows. It took him a moment to find
"S - sexy...?"
"Don't visit coronaryland over it, Giles. I just
meant you look good and you shouldn't hide it. If you'd dressed like this when
you first got here, maybe I would've listened to you more."
"If I'd dressed like that when you first met me,
you'd have laughed yourself sick. You thought I was Methuselah back then."
"Hey, if you'd worn something like this that first
day, I would never have thought you were old. It wouldn't have killed you to
wear an earring now and then, either. What was with all the tweed, anyway? I've
seen other Watchers, y'know. It's not like it's a uniform or anything. I mean,
can you even imagine Wes in one of those awful tweed suits you used to wear with
those ugly sweater vests?"
"Why did you get your hair cut like this? Why did
you get a job that required you to wear such a hideous uniform?"
"Okay, I started the twenty questions game. You
don't get your turn until you answer me."
"This is my answer. Buffy, you could have got a
job easily in a dress shop or a sporting goods store or any number of places,
yet you chose the fast food restaurant with the most ridiculous uniform there
is. You cut off all your lovely hair. I know you've had it around this length
before, but it was different...bigger somehow, and it looked better."
"It's easy to take care of that way. I don't spend
half my morning blowdrying. And Doublemeat Palace was hiring."
"And I had tweed suits that had plenty of wear
left in them. And if I wore them with sweater vests underneath, women paid me
little or no attention."
"Miss Calendar paid attention."
"Yes, well, she had quite an eye
"So you think I'm trying to not be seen?"
"I do. Or you were until you got into my body,
whereupon you seem to have developed an exhibitionist streak."
"You have no idea how many girls checked you out
"Th - they did?"
"Yeah, they did. And it felt...kinda nice...even
if it was you they were really looking at and not me, and even if they were
girls, which is not my usual thing at all, but y'know, it's all good. And there
were a couple guys even. That felt better. But, of course, I know that if I was
me and not you, those particular guys wouldn't be interested in me anymore.
Still. It was nicer than I remembered."
"And I have a new wardrobe out of it. Lucky
"Jealous that I was getting all the looks?"
"It seems as if I was the one getting all the
looks. You just got to reap the egotistical benefits of the situation.
"I worked hard for my egotistical benefits,
"Ah yes, I'm sure it was a great burden to you,
running up my credit card, trying on clothes. A terrible sacrifice."
"Darn tootin', it was. Do you have any idea how
aggressively icksome some men's clothes are? And look who I'm asking. I withdraw
"And I suppose you've never worn anything that
wasn't the last word in taste and elegance?"
Buffy shrugged and smiled.
"Can I help it if my fashion sense is
"Shall we take a tour through your closet and see
just how accurate that theory is? I seem to recall a pair of quite dreadful tie
Buffy narrowed her eyes at Giles.
"You want me to go borrow some shirts from Xander
and wear those?"
"In that case, your sartorial taste is utterly
"Your clothing preferences."
"Knew you'd see things my way."
"So are you ready to talk to me?"
"What have we been doing since you got here?
"About whatever had you so upset earlier,
Buffy stood and began to wander around the room,
occasionally picking something up and putting it down again without really
looking at it. Giles sat patiently on the bed and waited for her to find the
At last, she put down a final trinket on her dresser
and turned to face Giles.
"Do you get lots of headaches, Giles?" she
Giles blinked owlishly and furrowed his brow.
"I do get them, certainly. Between years of
eyestrain from late night research sessions, lack of sleep, and the fairly
astonishing number of head injuries I've had in my life, I probably get more
than the average person does. But I'm perfectly well."
"Is that all? You're sure it's just that stuff? I
mean, when was the last time you saw a doctor about it?"
Giles moved to where Buffy stood.
"Buffy...you're shaking. Are you...you think I'm
ill, don't you? Buffy, I promise you, I don't have a tumor. I'm not dying."
"That's what I thought about Mom. And then she
"Thus proving there are no guarantees in life. But
I promise you, insofar as it is possible to do so, that I am going to live a
long time yet."
Buffy ducked her head and turned to face her dresser
"I know I'm being stupid. It's just...when I - you
- I'm not even sure which one of us got it anymore, but I couldn't help
thinking...and I know one little headache doesn't mean that much."
"It's all right. I can understand why you would be
a bit jumpy about that. I was the same way when my mother died. Except it was
stroke I was worried about."
"Your mom died?"
"When I was eighteen."
"Wow. That's harsh. And I feel slightly less like
the most pathetic human being on the planet knowing that. That you freaked
"It's getting late. Why don't you get some sleep,
Buffy? We can talk more in the morning if you like."
"Sure. Great. After all, it's not like my body has
anywhere to be tomorrow since you quit my job."
"Nor has mine since you spent every cent I'm
likely ever to have on a suit I would never have bought myself."
"But you look so hot in it."
"Good night, Buffy."
"So you're couchbound?"
"I thought it best."
"Did you want me to stay for some reason?"
"No. I mean...sort of," Buffy snorted in
frustration. "Look, Giles, I know it's sorta weird, but I slept better last
night than I have in a long time. It was kinda like having a really oversized,
warm teddy bear with me."
Giles glowered at her.
"A teddy bear? What am I to be next? Your security
blanket? Your faithful watchdog?"
"I didn't mean it like that. I just meant...I feel
safe with you. I know you're a person, Giles, honest. But I trust you. And in
case you haven't noticed, there aren't a whole lot of people I can trust. Maybe
I said it all wrong, but what I meant is really a good thing. There aren't that
many things that make me feel safe. Please don't be mad at me."
"I'm not as safe as you think, Buffy."
"What? Because you used to be Ripper and raise
demons? That was before I was even born."
"Thank you for that reminder that I'm
"You're not neutered, Giles. In fact, I'm in a
position to say now that you're about as manly as they get. I even know now why
you always wore such baggy pants when you've got such a tight butt. It's
just...you don't do that stuff now."
"No, I don't. But sometimes I'd rather not be
reminded what I've become."
"If it makes you feel better, I bet you still
could be Ripper if you wanted."
"No, that's too far past."
"Only because you want it to be. Only because you
decided to be Giles, who, I have to say, I like a whole lot better."
"A whole lot. I'm officially over the whole bad
boy thing. Not interested in guys who just make trouble and hurt people. I've
decided it's much more interesting to deal with guys who could be bad, but
"Sounds to me as if you're only half over the 'bad
"Maybe. But at least I'm over the right
Giles laughed silently.
"And that is a great improvement, I must say. All
right, against my better judgement, I'll stay."
He took a set of Buffy's pajamas and headed for the
"Giles, what are you doing?"
"Going to change my clothes?"
"It's my body. I've seen it before. You don't have
to be all stuffy about it."
Giles stared for a moment, then broke out into a loud
bark of laughter.
"It is rather silly, isn't it?"
Buffy joined in the laughter as they both began to
undress for bed.
They were both still giggling when they climbed into
bed and Buffy turned out the light.
The next two days were spent in virtually nonstop
research. Every moment any of the gang had free was immediately filled with
reading, net surfing, donut eating, and organization of what little evidence had
been found. When everybody began to drop with exhaustion, they headed to their
beds. If any of the gang had anything to say about the fact that Buffy and Giles
shared a bed every night, they kept it to themselves.
On the third night, Giles announced that they all
needed a break and told everybody to close their books. Buffy was the first to
take him up on the offer. She rubbed her eyes.
"Goodie. I was going seriously cross-eyed here. I
swear, Giles, I just got you new glasses, but I'm thinking it's time to hit
Lenscrafters again. I think they got the prescription wrong."
"You might try actually resting my eyes once in a
while. Go spend some time with Willow or something. I'm going to do a quick
patrol and turn in early."
"Be careful, Giles."
"I'll be fine, Buffy. Remember, I train you."
"Yeah, but last night you broke a nail. I don't
want to have to redo the manicure again already."
Giles rolled his eyes in reply and was out the door.
Buffy and Willow headed home for a girls' night in.
They settled in with ice cream, romantic videotapes, and bare feet. In no time
the tape was forgotten in favor of gossip.
"So what's it like, Buffy? Being a guy?"
"Pretty weird, Will. I keep feeling like I need a
shave all over, but I don't think Giles would go for that."
"Um...how much shaving are we talking here? We're
not talking...like...shoulders or anything, right?"
"The shoulders are just fine. It's not like Giles
is an ape guy or anything. Just...I'm not used to being this hairy. Or
"Stuff...?" Willow frowned in puzzlement,
then her eyes grew wide as she understood. "Oh! Stuff. Like...stuff. Yeah,
that's gotta be weird."
"Weird does about sum it up. I mean, I guess it
isn't for Giles 'cause he always had it, but it's the uberfreak for me."
"I wonder how he's feeling not
"He's a little wigged sometimes, but I think the
thing that gets him most is not being able to reach stuff...but not
like...stuff. I mean like shelves and stuff like that stuff."
"I got you, Buff," Willow grinned. So...you
guys haven't been..."
Buffy glared at Willow.
"Gutter brain. It's not like that. It's more
a...comfort thing. And an answer strange questions in the middle of the night
thing. And sometimes an explain the really funky things we've done with each
others' lives thing. I don't think he's into his new wardrobe."
"How do you like your new haircut?"
"Tres Louise Brooks. Not something I was expecting. But I have to admit, it's sorta cute now
I'm done yelling at him."
"It's funny, but when I had my First Slayer dream,
you had that haircut in part of it. The part with the play. Only it was a lot
darker. But I like it even when it's blonde."
"And he said something about the other being too
much work to take care of. I think it's revenge for the leather suit."
"He does give you funny looks when you wear
"I think it's 'cause I told him I caught some guys
checking out his butt when I wore it."
The girls giggled and turned their attention back to
the movie. Several minutes later, Buffy turned to Willow with a thoughtful look.
"Hey Will? How do you think Giles would look with
"I'm thinking not happy."
"At least I'm not going to give him another
tattoo. Speaking of which..." she rolled up her left sleeve. "Eyghon
all gone. I wonder when he did that."
"I dunno, but it was gone when he came back
after...you came back."
"You knew this? Why didn't I know this?"
"I just saw. One night. In the kitchen. A - and
you were a little distracted then, so that's probably why you didn't see. That
and the way Giles is Mr. Layers of clothes."
"He's really not one to show off the goods, is
he?" Buffy stared at the movie pensively for a moment. She furrowed her
brow and bit her lip. At last she turned to Willow again. "I know what he
said to you. That night. Part of it, anyway."
"Buffy, we don't really need to bring this up, do
"I think we do. I think part of why I've been such
a big mess is that I've never talked to you and Xander about this. I tried to
keep you from finding out where I'd been, and then I didn't want to talk about
it when you found out because I didn't want you guys to feel bad. And because I
wasn't sure what would happen if I let myself be mad at you."
Willow turned miserable eyes to her friend.
"You know we wanted to save you, right? And I know
we didn't and I feel kinda bad about it, but are you really mad? I mean, you get
to be alive again. Isn't that a good?"
"Sometimes yes. Sometimes no. But lately it's yes
more than it's no. So I guess the answer would have to be...sort of. And it's
taken me a while to get to this point. Don't get me wrong, Will; I love you guys
and I know you were trying to do me a favor. It's just...if I die
again...just...let me go. Don't do me anymore favors, okay?"
"Don't make me promise that, Buffy. Please."
"I know you don't want to, but when the time comes
again, I really want you to move on and know that I'm okay. And you'll be okay
without me, too. Just think, you could live without being in constant danger.
Like it was before you met me."
Willow shook her head emphatically.
"It can't be like it was then, and I don't want it
to be. Do you even remember what I was like then? Geek girl. Invisible geek
"But safe. You and Xand were going along having
your safe, perfectly contented little lives and then along comes Slaygal to
stick you in the line of fire."
"The Hellmouth provided the line of fire. You
saved us a bunch of times, and helped us learn to save other people. And you
didn't just save my life a million times over; you made me like me. Everybody
else looked at me and saw...not much. You saw more than just smart and nerdy.
You made me see it, too."
"There was always a lot to see. You and Xand...you
have no idea what it was like when I became the Slayer. Up to then I was worse
than Cordelia was when I first met her. I was shallow and into what everyone
else was into no matter how stupid it was because I didn't dare not like it in
case nobody liked me. Being sheeplike was safer. Then suddenly, sacred duty,
which didn't mix very well with sheepiness. No friends at all. Zip. Nada. And
then there was the part where I couldn't tell anyone why I was suddenly spazz
girl. Once you and Xander found out...somebody knew. Somebody understood. As
much as anybody who doesn't have a sacred duty gig can understand."
"Is that why you and Faith got so...so...for a
while there? Did you really think she could understand you better than me?"
"It was such a rush. Suddenly there was someone
who I thought really got it all. And she seemed so confident; so sure of
"In hindsight, yes. Definitely of the less than
stable. But it was kinda nice for a while not to be the only freak."
"Buffy, you're not the only freak...that didn't
come out right."
"It's okay, Will. I got you. So do you promise?
Will you let me go next time?"
"Please, Will. Next time I want it to end. No
bringing me back, no getting anyone else to bring me back."
Willow smiled wryly.
"You had to take away my loophole, didn't
"I know my Willow. Promise?"
"Okay. I promise. But could you promise me
"Don't make me keep this one anytime soon."
"I'll do my best."
The girls hugged fiercely.
"That's one nice thing about being Giles,"
Buffy commented as she held her friend.
"What's that, Buff?"
"I can hug people as hard as I want and not worry
about hurting them. I could get used to that."
"You'll never get used to it, freak girl."
"You know me way too well, Will."
"Buffy? What happens when you and Giles get back
Buffy pulled back and looked at the floor.
"I thought we just agreed I was a freak."
Willow rolled her eyes.
"As normal as you guys ever get."
"I dunno. We haven't talked much about it."
"Well...what do you want to happen?"
"I know...I know I want him to stay."
"Have you told him that?"
"I've hinted. But he always changes the subject.
Pretty clear he's not with that program. Almost makes me hope we don't find an
answer too soon."
"Maybe it's not that he doesn't want to stay.
Maybe it's that he's not so sure you want him to. Did you ever think of
"What are you saying, Will?"
"I'm saying stop hinting and just say what you
mean, you big dummy. Come right out and tell him you want him to stay."
"And if he still won't?"
"Then at least you gave it your best shot. Just
carpe the damn diem already, Buff."
Buffy squared her shoulders and took a deep breath.
"Okay. This is me getting ready to carpe Giles'
diem. I'll do it tonight. I don't want to lose him, Will."
Willow smiled wryly at her friend.
"Were you telling me the truth with that whole
'comfort thing' thing?"
Buffy tried very hard not to blush.
"Could I just take the fifth, here?"
"You want to carpe Giles...like that?"
"I dunno. It might be just about the right amount
"If I don't freak Giles."
"Buffy," Willow chided. "You've been
doing that since tenth grade. Why change now?"
Adrenaline rushed through Giles' veins as the vampire
flew into the wall of the mausoleum. He raced forward to pummel the creature of
the night into submission. One final kick to the goolies and the vampire was
ready for staking. He raised his weapon on high.
Suddenly a pair of preternaturally strong arms grabbed
him from behind and lifted him off the ground. He kicked wildly until his foot
made contact with the creature's kneecap with a sickening crunch of bone. His
assailant fell. Giles rolled to his feet and quickly staked the creature.
He turned to finish off the first vampire.
Which was suddenly nowhere to be seen.
Giles huffed in frustration.
"Well, at least I got one."
He dusted himself off and peered around in hopes of
finding another unholy menace to destroy. When he realized there wasn't one, he
put up Mr. Pointy and headed back toward Revello Drive, doing his best to ignore
the feelings building inside him.
If he'd been in his own body, he'd have been hurrying
to the nearest private spot he could find. Someplace where he could touch
himself without fear of interruption.
But in Buffy's body...
Giles growled in frustration.
Another night of cold showers and holding Buffy,
pretending to be her friend when he wanted to take her in his arms and make her
forget every other man she'd ever been with.
Except that there she was in his body, and he in hers.
All philosophical questions aside, the mechanics of the
situation were bound to be awkward. Not to mention the strangeness of wanting
someone who was, to all intents and purposes, himself. A man.
But she was still Buffy, penis or no.
And he didn't dare touch her. He didn't dare even
Not that that stopped him.
He shoved the idea to the back of his mind as he had
done so many times before.
Though it would keep popping back up.
Part of him wished Buffy might be interested if only so
he could try making love as a woman. He had to admit, he was curious about what
it was like. Even generalized desire felt different in this body. It was similar
enough that there was no mistaking what he was feeling, but different enough
that he wanted to know; to understand on a level he wasn't sure he could without
having the experience.
This sweet, internal ache was so unlike the demanding
and obvious need of an erection. For one thing, he didn't need to try to make it
go away or hide it. If there was liquid warmth between his female thighs, nobody
would immediately notice it. No wonder poor Buffy was having so much trouble
with spontaneous erections; she'd never had to worry about whether anyone
noticed that she was sexually excited before. One needed to look for signs with
the female of the species. And one could very easily miss or misinterpret them.
He was also disturbed by the apparently direct
correlation between losing a kill on patrol and the desire he now felt. Was this
something Buffy felt every time a vampire got away? If so, no wonder she had
made such seemingly unfathomable choices in men. Perhaps this had contributed to
her - for lack of a better word - relationship with Spike. Certainly it
explained a good deal of why she stayed with Riley so long after it was clear to
everyone else that her heart was no longer in it.
Giles began to find a new level of respect at the way
Buffy had managed to keep her feelings at bay for so long with Angel.
And the self control both had shown when he returned
Unbidden thoughts of Faith sprang into his head. Giles
had been appalled by her attitude toward men and sex. Not that he'd wanted to
know about it, but Faith was nothing if not painfully candid about that aspect
of her life. Now it occurred to Giles how easily Buffy might have developed the
same chew 'em up and spit 'em out way of dealing with men - especially in light
of how all her relationships thus far had worked out. But she hadn't. Even in
the debacle with Spike, she ended by feeling guilty for hurting him and not even
seeing what he'd been doing to her at the same time.
It would have been so easy for her to have decided a
long time ago that all she needed or wanted from a man was physical
satisfaction, and yet it was clear that she wanted more. That she was going to
hold out for more.
He just wished she would allow him to be the one to
give it to her.
Even if he was currently a woman.
Giles shook his head to clear his thoughts.
This was pure nonsense. Even if Buffy wanted to be with
him it wasn't as if he could accept the offer.
No. Best to get this situation dealt with and head back
to England as quickly as possible. Get back to his new life in his new home and
let Buffy forget he'd ever been back to Sunnydale.
Let her find someone young and strong without all the
baggage of forty years of demon hunting. Someone who would actually want to wear
that blasted leather suit.
Someone who would still be of use to her in a years'
Lord, but he wanted a drink!
Unfortunately, Buffy's body had a very low resistance
to alcohol and Giles didn't dare take the chance of getting drunk in his current
"Just bloody wonderful," he muttered.
"If I was me it wouldn't matter what stupid thing I did to myself."
With another sigh, he turned onto Revello Drive and
headed to Buffy's door.
He stopped in his tracks when he felt an odd sensation
in his gut.
"Not now, Spike," he growled.
"If not now, then when?" Spike taunted.
"I could practically smell you down the block. You know I can make you feel
better. Or are you waiting for Watcherboy to make the naughty feelings go
Giles spun around to face the vampire.
"What do you know?"
"Touchy. I know he's here, and looking a right
prat, too. Trying to rediscover his lost youth from the sound of things. Leather
suit, earring, snazzy new specs, it's pathetic."
Spike lit a cigarette.
"Is he doing it for you?" he asked.
"Trying to make you notice him? Or has he already got you into bed?"
"That's none of your business, Spike. Nothing I do
is any of your business."
"Is that right? You're the one made it my
"Is that what you really want? Or do you want me
to scratch your itch for you? You know he won't be up to the job."
"So...you think I should sleep with you because
nobody else will?"
"Well it's not as if they're lining up round the
block now, is it? Face it; I'm it, Pet. It's me or a plastic pal who's not so
fun to be with. So which is it gonna be?"
"If this is your idea of sweetalk, you're gonna be
pretty lonely, Spike."
"Well so are you if you don't quit playing games,
and you don't care for being alone."
"I'm not playing games. And you know what, Spike?
There are worse things than being alone."
"You're a fuckin' tease, you are. Look, I know you
needed your little show of independence after Soldier boy and all, but you've
made your point. I know you, and I know what you need."
Giles laughed and crossed his arms over his chest.
"What I need? You know what I need? Go on, Spike.
Tell me what I need. This should be good."
"You need a man with a bit of monster in him.
Someone who can be as ruthless as you. Someone who won't give out in a hurry.
Someone with plenty of passion, lots of imagination, and the guts to make you
stop playing games long enough to admit he's what you want. You need someone to
let you know who's in charge and make it stick. Someone as dark as you. Someone
who knows what the kill is like and how it makes you burn. That's what you need,
Slayer, and I don't see a whole lot of takers. And if you think Giles can take
you on and make you like it..." the vampire dissolved into giggles.
"No, I'm sorry, I'll be alright in a tick. Just...the idea...of
Giles...you'd break him into little tweedy pieces in no time."
"Then maybe it's a good thing he's not going to be
here much longer."
"Oh, now I get it! You just don't want Daddy to
find out who you've been shagging! Look, just put Giles on the plane already.
You're all grown up. You don't need him mucking up your life. I been tidying up
the place since you and Captain Cardboard blew it sky high, so you can come by
the crypt anytime."
"You really don't get it, do you?"
"That this isn't about Giles. That this is about
self respect. Maybe...maybe you have a point with some of what you say.
Maybe...I...need some darkness. But there's light, too. And goodness. Humans
need those things. Can you give me that? Can you give that to anybody for long?
All summer you kept an eye on Dawn, but now...when was the last time you even
spoke to her? Face it Spike, you're not a man with a bit of monster in him;
you're a monster with the face of a man. If you want someone to be with, go find
yourself a vampire girl or a demon. This whole thing is sick and it's pointless.
If you keep this up, it can't end well. Just do yourself a favor and stop
Giles walked away Spike called after her.
"You can't just walk away from this, Buffy! I know
you need me!"
Giles turned back and shook his head.
"You don't know me at all, really. And you have no
idea who you're talking to."
He turned again and strode back to the house, leaving a
confused vampire in his wake.
Buffy checked herself in the mirror one more time. She
was still Giles. She was surprised at how much that still startled her whenever
she looked. After all, she was a foot taller than she used to be and had male
body parts, so she had no idea why she should still expect to see her own face
looking back out of the mirror. But she did.
She took off her glasses and cleaned them again. She
put them back on her nose and looked at herself again. She smoothed her hair and
straightened her collar one more time.
"Great, Buffy. You're never going to impress him
with his own face."
And yet she wanted to impress Giles. She wanted to make
him want to stay with her so maybe she could make him see how she felt about
At least she could show him she was taking good care of
his body during her impromptu stay in it.
She began to half hope she could talk him into trying
romance while they were still switched. Not that he'd be likely to want that,
she reminded herself, but just because it must be so...different to have sex as
a man. She wondered what it would be like. Guys always liked it so much, after
all. Once in a while, she'd actually wondered if she would like sex more if she
was a man. Now here she was being a man, and it didn't look of the likely that
she would find out.
At least she thought she'd learned something about guys
by being one. She'd found out in the shower that some touches were more erotic
in this body than she'd expected.
Then again, that might be something only about Giles,
and she didn't dare ask him in case he was embarrassed.
Okay, time to be honest. She wasn't sure she could work
up the courage to ask him, either. It wasn't like she wanted to let him know she
didn't know what was normal and what might be particular about him when it came
After all, why would he be interested in her if she
didn't know whether it was something normal or odd that he seemed to have very
Besides, to ask him things like that might encourage
him to ask her some very embarrassing questions in return.
What if he'd heard the squeak she couldn't help making
whenever...but he wouldn't have done that.
Buffy pushed that thought to the back of her mind. It
was too embarrassing to even consider. After all, it had made both Riley and
Spike laugh at her. She wondered if Angel or Parker would have laughed if they'd
done the thing that caused that reaction. She really didn't want Giles laughing
Anyway, he couldn't have heard the squeak. She couldn't
do that to herself, so that meant he hadn't.
She sighed in relief. Her secret was safe.
Then she frowned.
Was that what she really wanted? To be safe from Giles?
Was that part of why she'd turned to Spike so many times when Giles had last
been around? Now that she thought about that time, she had to admit there was a
pattern emerging. When she was angry with her friends or when Giles tried to
prod her back onto her feet, she turned to Spike. When being a grownup seemed
too difficult to handle she turned to Spike.
When Giles showed her tenderness and
understanding...she walked away and turned to Spike. When Dawn needed her to be
the mother she didn't know how to be, she turned to Spike.
When she did or said or felt something she thought she
shouldn't, that was when she sought out the vampire.
Now that she'd actually talked to Willow and made her
promise to let go next time, it was like a huge weight had rolled off her
shoulders. Another had gone when she admitted she did find Giles attractive.
Still a few boulders left to deal with, but having just
two of them gone had already made a huge difference. She had to admit that Giles
had taken care of a third when he quit her job.
Best of all, she didn't want to find Spike over any of
it. She realized what she'd really been using him for; why she put up with all
his manipulation and ran again and again to someone so obviously bad for her.
Why she'd treated him so badly, too.
She couldn't wait to tell Giles what she'd figured out.
But she didn't have long before he'd be home. She
needed to set the mood.
When Giles walked in the front door, he heard music
playing. He recognized the singer as one Buffy had spoken of as romantic. He was
Sitting on the coffee table was a teapot and a pair of
cups along with a plate of cookies.
Giles smiled slightly. He remembered how much he'd
enjoyed his late night cups of tea with Buffy in the days when she used to check
in with him after patrol.
He looked at her sitting on the sofa. She seemed oddly
nervous. He raised an eyebrow and sat on the coffee table next to the tea tray.
"All right," he sighed, "what have you
"Is it a piercing, an alarming mode of
transportation, or a date?"
"None of the above, Mr. Suspicious. I just thought
some tea and post patrol bonding might be sorta...nice. Wouldn't it?"
"Well...um...yes, it would be nice. Thank you,
Buffy. That's very...thoughtful of you."
He moved to sit next to Buffy. She scooted a bit closer
as she leaned over to pour the tea.
"It's been too long, Giles. I missed just sitting
and talking like this. I - I've missed you."
Giles smiled tightly and set his teacup down.
"No, please. Don't say anything yet, okay? We've
been sort of dancing around this whole thing ever since you got back. I know I
drove you off last time..."
"Oh yes I did. I really did. The mess I was in...I
didn't know how to do anything else. And then Spike..."
"You don't have to explain that, Buffy. I - I can
understand. After all, Spike is...is good looking and, as you say, he's always
there. It's not surprising that..."
"Giles. Shut up. You're not getting it. I didn't
really get it until just a little while ago, so there's no way you can
understand it. Spike was my punishment."
"Punishment...? For what, precisely?"
"All of it. Being mad at my friends. Not wanting
to deal with Dawn. Being such a big loser I can't even die right. Making you go
away. That was...it wasn't until you were gone. I even held out a few days after
you left, just in case you changed your mind and I didn't have to be punished
"You didn't make me go away, Buffy."
"Maybe. But I sure couldn't talk you into staying,
"If anyone could have, it would have been
Buffy stood and moved to the fireplace.
"And I blew that one, didn't I? My fault.
"Let me finish, Giles. I know I didn't exactly
welcome you back with open arms, and I know I've been a pain the whole time
you've been here. But in case I haven't made it clear, I want you to stay.
Y'know, after...we get back where we belong in body terms."
"You get your turn later. Right now, I'm doing the
talking. Look, I know you left so I'd have to grow up and deal on my own. And I
know I said I couldn't do it without you. I said it and said it and said it. And
I believed it. I don't anymore. I can do this on my own. I can be the Slayer and
be strong and battle evil without you...as soon as I get my body back. You were
right. I don't need you. Maybe I never really did. I mean, Will can do the
research and Xand can whittle stakes with the best of them. And if a prophecy in
Latin or Greek or Ancient Sumerian comes along, Wesley's just a phone call away.
So I'd be okay if you left again. I just don't want you to go. Right now, even
if I'm a little freaked being a guy and not being the Slayer, this is still the
happiest I've been since Willow resurrected me. And it's because you're here and
we're...being friends. So I'd really like you to stay, Giles. Please? Will
Giles stood and stuffed his hand in his pocket. He
massaged the back of his neck with the other as he crossed to her.
"Buffy...I...as pleased as I am to hear you say
all that, you must understand...I can't just...pack up and move back here
because you want to be friends. It isn't that simple."
"I don't see why not. All the time you lived here
before, you almost never got in touch with anyone in England. And you have the
Magic Box here. You should be here to keep an eye on your investment.
Unless...you don't have another Slayer over there in England, do you?"
"No, I don't," he smiled. "Nor do I have
any romantic entaglements in Bath, in case you were going to ask about
"Must've read my mind. And even if I don't need to
be Watched all the time, you're still my Watcher. Aren't you supposed to be
Watching me at least sometimes?"
"You begin to sound like Quentin."
Buffy glared at him.
"Wash your mouth out. I just don't see why you
can't do this. I thought...I thought you liked me."
"I do, Buffy. I always have done."
"Goes both ways, y'know. Even when I don't say
it...or even show it, I really do care. A lot."
"Then what's the holdup? Why can't we just cut to
the happily ever after?"
"H - happily...Buffy...?"
"Oh. I guess I forgot to say the part where I'm
sorta crazy about you in a man/woman sort of way, too. Which I kinda am. So what
do you say?"
Buffy bit her lip nervously as she waited for Giles to
answer. He lowered his head and stuffed both hands in his pockets. After an
endless moment, he spoke.
"This is very sudden."
"Love's like that sometimes."
"Yes. Yes, I suppose it is."
Giles returned to the coffee table and sat on it,
indicating to Buffy that she should sit on the sofa again. She moved warily to
the seat and waited with tense shoulders as he gathered his thoughts.
"Sometimes...there are other factors which need to
be considered, Buffy."
"Factors? What factors? There aren't any factors
here, Giles. There's just you and me. So do you want to be with me?"
"I do...very much...but..."
"But what? What's the hitch? If I want you with me
and you want you with me, why are you still sitting there looking like somebody
squished your puppy? Isn't this where we kiss or something?"
"You...you want to kiss me? Like this?"
"Well, yeah. Y'know, 'cause it's still you in
there. 'Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds'."
Giles goggled frankly.
"You're quoting Shakespeare?"
"Before you get too excited, let me tell you it
was in the chick flick Will and I watched earlier. Sense and Sensibility. Which
also got me thinking how Alan Rickman-like you are. Only cuter. Anyway, I
remembered because it's what's going on with us. Lots of alterations, but we're
still the same people and I'll still feel the same way about you when we get
back to being our normal selves. I know how I feel. It's not gonna change. What
Giles stood and walked to the window. He looked out on
the night, running one finger over the glass.
"My feelings don't matter much in this case. I
will leave as soon as we find a solution to our current situation. And I very
likely won't be back again."
"You don't...want to be with me?"
"It isn't a matter of what I want, Buffy."
She stood and strode to his side.
"The hell it isn't! Either you love me or you
don't. What's going on, Giles? What aren't you telling me?"
"I'm no use to you, Buffy. You said yourself that
you don't need me."
"I said I have other people who can do stuff for
me. But it's a whole lot more convenient to have you here. You can do all the
stuff it takes three or four other people to do, but that's not the important
thing. The important part is where when you're not here, I'm miserable. Isn't
that useful enough for you? I like training with you, and nobody can make out
those musty books like you can."
"That's just the problem; I won't be able to do
that much longer."
"But you're okay. You told me. You said you're not
sick. Were you lying when you said that? You're not...please tell me you're
"No, Buffy, I told you. I expect to live for quite
some time yet."
"Then why are you making it sound like you're
planning to have tea with the Grim Reaper in about an hour? Stop scaring me and
just tell me what's going on."
He looked up at her with sad eyes and took her hand.
"It's not something life-threatening, Buffy. It's
just...I've had so many head injuries, it was bound to have some sort of effect
eventually. I started having trouble with my vision."
"You've always had trouble with your vision,
Giles. You've been wearing glasses as long as I've known you."
"Yes, but this is...I'm going blind. In a few
months' time, I won't be able to see at all anymore."
Buffy stood stock still for a moment. At last she
blinked and turned away, wiping her palms on her jeans.
"And I guess not too many ancient Sumerian scrolls
get made into books on tape," she said with an attempt at a laugh that
Giles looked at the floor. He'd always understood
Buffy's need to joke in the face of danger or tragedy, but that didn't mean it
"Not many, no."
Buffy found the nearest chair and sat heavily.
"What can we do?"
"Nothing, it seems. I've seen several doctors and
they all agree the case is hopeless."
"How long have you known about this?"
"Does it really matter?"
"How long, Giles?"
Buffy was silent as the tears welled up in her eyes.
Giles began to speak again.
"That's why I left in the first place. Even then,
it took me a couple months to work up the nerve to walk away. Then you were
back. I had to see you. It might well have been my last chance. I wanted to stay
then, but I couldn't. I couldn't become one more burden in your life. So I
"You bastard. You told me it was because I wasn't
being grown up enough and all the time it was because you didn't want me to know
"What was I to do? Stay and be just one more thing
you didn't want to deal with?"
"So that makes it okay for you to just say it's
all my fault you were leaving? Didn't I have a say in it?"
"It wasn't your problem."
"Like hell it wasn't! You're my Watcher. And what
about Dawn? I thought you cared about her, but you just left her alone with a
bunch of screwed up teenagers and a vampire. Didn't you care what happened to
"Of course I cared. And she knew I was a phone
"And an ocean. And a continent or two. That's a
pretty long way in an emergency."
"Well it's a pretty long way across town with a
white cane and a guide dog."
"So you ran away. We'd have taken care of you,
Giles. Didn't you know that?"
"Like you all did before? I've been injured many
times without assistance from any of you. Not that I blame you. You were young
and thoughtless, as all young people are."
"We're not as young as we used to be. And you
never gave us a chance. You never asked for help, and the few times one of us
thought to ask, you turned us down. It's not fair."
"Life isn't fair, in case you hadn't noticed. And
there was nothing you could do."
"So you're going to just crawl into a hole and
disappear? Real mature, Giles. There's stuff we can do."
"Like what? Did one of you become a qualified
surgeon in my absence? Perhaps Xander perfected a new treatment for my
particular condition behind my back and I missed the article in The Lancet. What
on Earth do you think you can do?"
"We can research. See if there's something the
doctors you talked to don't know about. Maybe find a different way of dealing
with this, or at least slowing it down. Oz didn't get control over his wolfy
side by going to your average GP. And if we can't find a way to fix it, we can
still be here for you. I can still be here for you. I've got enough of me back
so I can do that now."
Giles stared stubbornly at the floor.
"No. I've taken a lot from you over the years,
Buffy. Your anger, your resentment, even your occasional heartlessness. But I
won't have your pity."
Buffy moved to his side.
"Then it's a damn good thing I don't do pity,
She lifted his chin to make him look at her.
"This sucks, Giles. And once it sinks in, I'll
probably hate this just as much as you do. But we're gonna fight this thing,
just like we've fought all the other things that we couldn't fight."
"And if we can't win this time?"
"Then we go down fighting. Like always."
"This isn't life and death, Buffy."
"Which is a good thing, since I'm a little tired
of life and death and life again. If we can't stop this thing, we'll learn to
deal. Doesn't change a thing."
"It changes a great deal. If...when this happens,
I shall be very vulnerable. I'll become a liability to you. And if I'm your
lover as well as your Watcher I shall be a popular target for demons."
"Then we better find a way to fix your eyes,
'cause I'm not giving you up. Not unless you tell me you don't want me."
She faltered slightly. "You...do want me, right?"
"Yes, of course I do," Giles assured her.
"Good. So I want and you want."
The two stood looking a bit nervously at one another
for a long moment.
"So what do we do now?" Buffy asked.
"I'm...well, I'm not quite sure."
"Well, we're done fighting, right?"
"I believe so."
"And we're...together, right?"
"I...I...I think so. Are we?"
"Yeah. I mean, I think so, too. So we must
"Yes. We must be."
He ducked his head with a shy smile as Buffy bit her
lip. Neither one seemed to know quite how to react now that they'd worked things
out. At last Buffy came up with an answer.
"Tea," she suddenly blurted out. "The
tea's getting cold. I'll go make more."
She picked up the teapot and hurried to the kitchen.
When she got there, she leaned against a counter, her heart racing. Togetherness
with Giles. She wanted it desperately. But now that she was faced with it, she
found herself almost panicked at the strangeness of the concept.
Turning resolutely, she lit the burner and put the
kettle on. There really wasn't anything to be scared of, she reminded herself.
Giles knew her at her worst as well as her best and he still cared. And she
could say the same of herself about Giles. She'd seen him well and ill, drunk
and sober, determined and defeatist. Hell, at this point she'd even seen him
both flaccid and erect.
Which was sort of the problem, wasn't it?
As much as she'd been curious about making love as a
man, there was still the fact that she wasn't sure she wanted to make love to a
woman. Herself, in fact. She wasn't even sure if the fact that it was her body
she was considering making love with made it more or less skanky.
Meanwhile, out in the living room, Giles was in a twin
As much as he wanted to be with Buffy, and as curious
as he was about lovemaking from a female point of view, he wasn't entirely sure
he could perform when faced with a penis instead of a vagina to pleasure. The
fact that it would be his own penis only made matters more confusing rather than
And what if he got carried away as he sometimes did in
bed? What if he hurt Buffy since he couldn't judge Slayer strength accurately?
What about birth control? What if she got him pregnant?
Giles sat heavily and tried to calm himself.
Making love was a completely natural thing. He loved
Buffy. She loved him, as difficult as it was for him to really grasp the
But she'd been with two different vampires. They had
super strength and centuries of sexual experience. Even when he got back into
his own skin, might she not find him a bit...disappointing?
Buffy groaned. She wasn't sure she could do this. She
didn't know how to control a penis. What if she couldn't find where to put it?
What if she missed? What if he wanted her to try oral sex on him? Her stomach
filled with a battalion of butterflies.
The kettle boiled.
Giles began to pace. What if he froze up in bed? What
if he didn't come for her? What if she wanted to try something...exotic?
He nibbled a cookie absently as he tried to think what
Buffy might consider normal sex, considering some of the fairly abnormal
partners she'd had.
Buffy swallowed hard as she remembered the night of the
band candy spree. Her mother had had sex with Giles that night and she'd ended
up with a pair of handcuffs. Was that the sort of thing Giles liked in bed?
Would he expect her to want something like that, too? And she hadn't slept with
anyone but Spike since her return from the grave, so unless Giles had some
condoms hidden in his suitcase, she wasn't sure what they would do about birth
She picked up the teapot and headed back out to the
Now if she could just figure out what to say when she
As Buffy walked through the door, Giles moved to take
the teatray from her. Their fingers touched briefly and both started as if hit
with an electric shock. Giles nearly spilled the contents of the tray to the
floor, but managed to steady himself and move the tray to the coffee table. The
two sat next to one another on the sofa and Giles poured the tea.
Buffy took the cup from him gratefully.
"I don't know why I'm so nervous," she
"If it's any comfort, you're not alone. This all
happened so...so suddenly."
"And all backwards, bodywise."
"Which does add to the confusion, I must
Buffy put her teacup down and turned to face Giles more
"So what do we do? About all the
Giles took a sip of tea then set his cup down, too.
"Perhaps it would be best if we took things a
little more slowly from now on. Take a bit of time to...adjust before we take
the next step."
"Is that what you really want? To take it
"Yes. And no. You?"
"There's no rush, you know."
"No, I guess there really isn't."
Buffy's gaze dropped to her knees. Giles reached out
and lifted her chin.
"What is it? Did I say something wrong?"
Buffy took his hand in hers.
"Of course not, Giles."
She smiled wryly.
"You know me way too well. Okay, okay, I
just...there's this little piece of me that doesn't want to wait."
"In case something happens to one of us?"
"Well...yeah. That's part of it."
"And the rest would be, what?"
"Sort of really morbid curiosity?"
To her great surprise, Giles began to laugh.
"What's so funny?" she demanded.
"You," he told her. "You never fail to
"But, in a good way, right?"
"More often than not," he grinned.
Her eyes narrowed, but her lips insisted on curling
into a smile. A moment later, they were both laughing. A moment after that,
Buffy pulled Giles into her arms and rested her cheek on the top of his head.
"I know this is gonna sound a little funny,
but...I want to know what it's like. For you. How it feels."
"Are you sure? Because I have to admit, I'm
awfully curious, myself. But it would be fine with me if you wanted to wait
until...well until we're more ourselves."
Buffy lifted her head, then looked down at Giles. Her
face looked back at her in nervous anticipation.
"Hey," she said, "love is not love which
alters when it alteration finds."
She leaned down and pressed her lips to his.
The kiss was tentative and a bit hesitant on both
sides, but warm and sweet all the same. Her hands moved to cup Giles' cheeks as
his slid up to wrap around her neck, his fingers treading through her hair.
Buffy pulled back from the kiss and rested her forehead against his.
"It already feels different," she laughed
"Yes, it does," Giles agreed. "I never
realized how large I must seem."
"Well, you're a big guy," Buffy said. She
blushed deeply when she realized how it must have sounded. "I
"I know how big it is. It's mine, remember?"
Buffy stared at Giles for a moment before bursting into
laughter. Giles joined in almost immediately. They giggled helplessly for some
minutes, holding each other all the while. Whenever one began to calm, the other
went into a fresh gale of laughter and set the first off again. At last, they
sat sprawled on the sofa, still holding one another, the belly laughs having
been reduced to the odd giggle.
Giles wiped away a tear that had formed on Buffy's
"That *was* a happy one, wasn't it?"
"I haven't laughed that hard in a long time,"
she replied. "And yes, happy tear. I can't believe you made a dirty
"It wasn't a joke," he huffed. "It was
an observation. And I know a great many more dirty jokes than you might
"Okay, okay, you don't have to prove you're not
stuffy...as if you could."
"Stuffy I may be, but at least I usually know how
to act my age."
"And I don't? When didn't I act my age?"
"Don't be ridiculous, Buffy."
Buffy stared at him.
"Are we having our first fight already?"
Giles sat back and pinched the bridge of his nose.
"If you'll recall, we had our first fight the day
we met and we've battled it out ever since. Did you really think that was going
"Maybe? I thought at least we could get to the
afterglow without a squabble."
"I wasn't squabbling."
"So that age acting crack wasn't about me?"
"No. If anything, it was directed at Spike."
"Spike? You're making out with me and thinking
about Spike at the same time?"
"I have what you Americans would call 'issues'
with him, I suppose."
Giles sighed. He knew Buffy wouldn't let him off the
"He was your last lover, and he's a vampire, and
he's...very unlike me."
"And you think you can't measure up? Is that it?
Giles, I hated what I was doing with him. It made me feel dirty and sick. Why
would I want someone like him? And what does that have to do with acting his
"How old do you think Spike was when he was
"I dunno. I guess I never really thought about it.
"Look a bit closer and I think you'll find he
looks older than that; probably closer to forty. And he still dresses like Billy
"And he acts like a punk kid, yeah, yeah, I know.
"So...he looks like a prat."
Buffy's eyes widened.
"This isn't even about Spike, is it? This is about
the leather suit. You think you look like a jerk in it, don't you?"
"I never said that..."
"Yes you did, a million times. And I kept on
wearing it. Is it really that important to you?"
"It's just...yes, it bothers me a great
"Then I won't wear it anymore. We can even donate
it to Goodwill if you want. But before we go that far, do you think you could
tell me what the problem is?"
She reached out to stroke his hair.
"Whatever it is, you can tell me, and I promise I
won't tell anyone else. I just want to know. What's the big?"
Giles pressed himself to Buffy's side and wrapped his
arms around her waist. Buffy allowed him the time to gather himself despite the
growing frustration at not knowing what was going on in his mind. When he
finally spoke, he didn't even look up at her.
"It reminds me of a time I'd like very much to
He took her left hand and touched the long fingers
gently. Buffy stared at their joined hands. She frowned, trying to connect the
dots in her mind. She remembered a sunny spring day when Giles' left hand had
been bandaged and splintered and Oz steered Willow in a wheelchair. All at once,
she understood and squeezed his hand lightly.
"It's gone," she told him quietly.
"It's really the trousers, more than anything
else," he admitted. "The jacket's actually not bad."
"But the pants make you remember. It goes in the
Giles looked up at her, gratitude and relief shining in
his eyes. Buffy couldn't help leaning down to kiss him again. This time she
lingered longer than she had before.
"You do know," she commented when she pulled
back, "life would be a lot easier if you ever told people what you were
"Says Miss Pot to Mr. Kettle."
"Shut up and kiss me."
Buffy nibbled softly at Giles' lips, teasing, tasting,
exploring. She tentatively snaked the tip of her tongue out to encourage him to
open to her. With a tiny, slightly startled sound, he did. The touch of his
small, pointed tongue against her now broad one thrilled Buffy even as the
confusion rose in her mind again. She pushed away the voice in her head that
told her she didn't like girls that way and reminded it firmly that this wasn't
a girl, but Giles. Her Giles. She redoubled her efforts, much to Giles' combined
confusion and delight.
Warm lips and an insistent tongue filled his senses.
His own fingers caressed his as yet unfamiliar body. His nipples stood up and
begged for attention as warm desire flooded between his thighs. He pulled his
mouth from Buffy's and began to kiss and nibble along her slightly bristled
jawline up to her earlobe. He tugged gently at the earring with his teeth. He
smiled and did it again when Buffy gasped at the sensation.
She groaned and shifted as she hardened under Giles'
ministrations. The combined feeling of power and an odd vulnerability was still
strange to her. An erection was such a strong image, and yet so exposed, it
frightened her a little bit. She swore she would never laugh again when she saw
a hard penis spring out of a man's underwear. Not that she'd ever meant it as a
bad thing; just the sight could be vaguely comical despite the erotic pleasure
it gave. Still, it couldn't have been very good for Riley's ego that that had
been her first reaction.
She hoped Giles wouldn't laugh when the moment came.
Oh great! Buffy could feel herself deflating at the
thought. She pushed the unpleasant thought resolutely to the back of her mind
and attempted to focus on Giles nibbling her neck.
He certainly knew where all the sensitive spots were.
She moaned softly when Giles grazed his teeth just under her ear. She took hold
of his face and devoured him with kisses. She could feel herself rehardening.
She moved to straddle Giles' lap.
She stopped and looked down at him.
"I'm too big to do this now, aren't I?"
"A bit," Giles giggled. "And I think
this might be a good time to move this to a less public venue, don't you?"
She stood and held out her hand to him. He took it and
raised his other hand to her cheek. Giles stood on his toes to reach Buffy for a
"Lovely," he said. "Oh, and before we go
much further...how far can we go?"
"That sort of depends," Buffy said. "You
didn't happen to pack any condoms, did you?"
"I hadn't any idea I was going to end up in bed
with anyone on this trip."
"End up? I thought you wanted to be with me."
"Of course I do. I love you. I simply meant I
didn't expect to sleep with anyone when I came here, so I didn't prepare for it.
That's all I meant. It's not as if you're any better prepared, is it?"
"No, I'm not," she admitted. "So what do
She frowned for a moment, then began to smile.
"What is it, Buffy?"
"I'm not prepared, and you're not prepared, but
someone here is."
"Surely Willow doesn't have any use for
"No, not her. Dawn."
Giles' eyes widened.
"Dawn?" he sputtered. "Are you telling
me that Dawn has already...good lord, Buffy, she's fifteen!"
"Calm down, Giles, she's not...I don't think. It's
just...I know I've blown it with her in a lot of ways, and I don't want her to
have to go through what I did. With Mom. She was sure I wouldn't until she found
out I had. And what if I'd been going out with some ordinary guy when I decided
to just say yes? What if I'd just gotten carried away with someone who could be
a daddy? I want to make sure Dawn doesn't have to worry about that, at
"I doubt your sister will be so impulsive. She's
an intelligent girl."
"So am I, or at least you keep telling me so.
Didn't stop me. I'm just making sure that if she makes as rotten choices as I
did, she doesn't have to deal with as much fallout as I did. If I learned one
thing from you, it's that a ounce of prevention is better than a whole shitload
"At least you learned something."
"But you don't approve. You don't think I should
have given them to her."
"I didn't say that."
"But you're thinking it. A lot."
"What I was thinking was that I ought to have
understood both you and Dawn rather better. And I was thinking that since this
is really a lucky thing for me, I ought to accept it a bit more
"Did you really just admit I was right and you
were wrong about something?"
"Don't get used to it."
As she glared down at Giles, Buffy got a wicked idea.
She reached down, picked Giles up, and threw him over her shoulder in a
"Hey! What do you think you're doing?" he
demanded through his giggles.
"I think I'm getting in touch with my inner
caveman - without beer this time."
"This is something else you had better not get
used to unless you want to try it from the other angle when I get my body
"Yeah, yeah, promises, promises."
She carried him to her room and flipped him
unceremoniously on her bed. She leaned down and kissed him hard.
"Stay right there, sweetie, while I get the
She turned to leave, then turned back.
"And if there's a little less in the way of
clothes in the way when I get back, I wouldn't hate that."
Giles grinned and pulled his blouse off. He stilled
when he realized Buffy had only crossed the room rather than leaving it. She was
rooting around in a grocery bag.
"Buffy? I thought you said..."
Buffy turned and blushed through a sheepish smile.
"Well...I got them for her. I just hadn't actually
given them to her yet."
"I couldn't figure out what to say. And I couldn't
just tell her the condom fairy left them in her room while she was asleep, could
Giles laughed until he rolled to his side clutching his
belly. Buffy glared at him.
"Well you try figuring out what to tell your
little sister when you give her a box of rubbers!"
"Luckily, I never had to do that." He held
out his hand to her. "Come here, Buffy. We can figure that out later."
"You'll give the talk, but I'll help you work out
what to say, if you like."
She returned to the bed and crawled onto it. Giles got
up onto his knees and draped his arms around Buffy's neck.
"Now come here," he said, "and let's not
worry about that for tonight. Dawn's out, and Willow's...where is Willow,
"Out for the rest of the night. It's just you and
"This smells of a setup."
"Only a little bit of one. Dawn didn't know."
Giles rolled his eyes.
Buffy grinned at him.
"Y'know, you kinda are. So tell me, Giles, have
you been going braless this whole time? Or was tonight a special occasion?"
"I - I haven't really got the hang of them, I'm
"They're sort of a pain, I know. I'm not wearing
"Good. I know things aren't as firm as once they
were, but, well..it's good to know I don't require that level of support
"You're doing just fine in that department, stud
guy. Check it out."
She began to unbutton her shirt as Giles leaned forward
to kiss her again. Soon both were shirtless and Buffy lay back. Giles followed
her down, kissing her all the while. Buffy wrapped her arms around Giles and
kissed him back with everything she had. She couldn't believe how tiny - how
fragile - he seemed in her body. Nor could she believe how large she felt. The
whole situation still felt odd, but being with Giles, in whatever form, also
seemed very right.
And his kisses were making it difficult to think at
"Buffy," he murmured as he nipped her
"Uh huh?" she breathed in reply.
"Touch me, please."
"I thought I was touching you. See? Hands on you,
attached to me."
Giles snorted and plucked the glasses off her nose to
put them out of the way.
"Then use them a bit. Don't be afraid to show me
how your body likes to be touched; how you like to be kissed. I want to know
what excites you most and this is the perfect opportunity to show me."
She ruffled his hair affectionately.
"You never stop with the research, do you?"
"Not so long as it does you any good."
Buffy rolled them over so she was on top and bent to
nuzzle at his throat. She ground her awakening length against Giles' thigh. She
gasped when she felt small, soft fingers deftly rolling one nipple and then the
other. It was amazing to her how similar the sensation was to the familiar
feeling when she was in her own body. It gave her the nerve to cup one of the
small breasts below her and give the nipple a gentle tweak.
When Giles whimpered and kissed her harder, Buffy
smiled and repeated the caress.
Buffy felt her confidence surge. She moved her kisses
from Giles' lips to his throat, and then to his ear. At last she rolled them to
their sides and nibbled on the nape of Giles' neck.
Giles felt a flood of desire as well as embarrassment.
Buffy pulled back and rubbed her nose against his.
"Like that?" she grinned.
"Do you always make that noise when somebody does
that to you?"
"Every single time. But it feels so good."
"It certainly does. Though I imagine it's a bit
alarming to men."
"But it won't alarm you now, right?"
"Would you do it again?"
Buffy grinned as she leaned over to make Giles squeak
Soon both grew too heated to continue wearing pants.
Giles stripped his off and turned to help Buffy remove her jeans. She couldn't
wait to get them off. Her erection had gone from somewhat uncomfortable to
actually painful in the confines of the form fitting denim. Giles quirked an
eyebrow at her when he saw the straining briefs underneath.
"I thought they were more manly for bedtime fun
than zebra stripes. Anyway, you're wearing my purple thong so you don't get to
"You need to do some laundry," he told her as
he slipped them down his legs. "They're not terribly comfortable."
"I could have told you that. And these were fine
when I started out, but they're pretty anti-comfortable now."
She hooked her thumbs into the elastic at her hips and
removed her underwear, too. She stifled a giggle as her penis sprang out. Giles
leaned over and kissed her.
"I love to hear you laugh," he said.
"So you're not mad? That I laughed?"
"Of course not. If you're laughing, you're
enjoying this. I want you to enjoy it. Besides, I sometimes have to stop myself
laughing when I take off my underwear. It looks a bit silly."
"So you don't have a problem if I laugh at your
"Is it a particularly laughable one?"
"No. It really isn't."
"Then I assume it was the moment rather than my
"Yeah, it's kind of a moment thing. You really
Giles smiled and took Buffy's hand in his.
"Will you just relax? Laughter is fine, so long as
it isn't meant as an insult. Now, are you ready for the condom, or do you want
to play a bit yet?"
"I - I don't know how much more I can play if you
want...y'know...to...I mean...this still feels really weird."
"Do you want to stop?" Giles asked levelly,
though every nerve in him screamed both yes and no at the same time.
Buffy shook her head.
"No. I want to. It's just sorta of the freaksome.
I think maybe I better put it on. If you still want to, that is."
"Yes, yes I do," he answered a bit quickly.
"You're sure? 'Cause we could stop if you
She bit her lip, a little unsure what she wanted his
answer to be.
"I'm sure," he said with more confidence.
"Just?" she prompted.
"I know this is a dreadful cliché, but...be
gentle with me?"
"I'll do my best," Buffy promised. "But
you might need to give me a couple pointers. Are you ready?"
Giles took her hand and guided it to the triangle of
curls that hid his sex. She found him wet and willing.
"You tell me."
"I think you're ready," she said wryly as she
slipped her thumb over the tiny bump of his clitoris. At Giles' answering gasp
of pleasure, she smiled and rubbed again. "Like that?"
Giles ground himself against Buffy's hand wantonly. As
strange and confusing as the very internal sensations of female pleasure were to
him, he knew what was about to happen. He wondered vaguely if Buffy was
multi-orgasmic before his mind clouded entirely with need. A moment later, he
shouted his release. Another whimper followed each pulse of his sex.
Buffy pulled him into her arms and held him as he
trembled with the unfamiliar feelings he'd just experienced.
"That was...that was...I have no words for
it," Giles breathed.
"You don't need them," Buffy reminded him.
"I know exactly how you feel right now."
She kissed his sweating brow and reached for a foil
packet. Giles stilled her hand.
"Ever the gentleman, huh? Even when you're the
Buffy lay back and allowed Giles to take over. He
worked Buffy's foreskin back and swiped his thumb over the head of her cock,
coating it with the large drop of precum. Buffy gasped and thrust her hips
involuntarily. Somehow she'd never been able to grasp the idea that something
that big could be so sensitive. Giles gently urged her back down with a few
soothing words and a hand on her hip. He ripped open the packet and rolled the
condom onto Buffy. She frowned slightly.
"These really aren't all that comfortable, are
they? In fact, this is one tight squeeze."
"It's a bit like a sausage casing. Then again, if
they were roomy enough to be comfortable, they wouldn't work, would they?"
"All I know is I'm going on the pill ASAP. Hey,
you could take the exam for me. Ever wanted to know what a visit to the
gynecologist is like?" she grinned at him.
"I leave that pleasure entirely up to you,"
he giggled in return. "So we'd best find a cure soon."
She stuck her tongue out at Giles. He licked it with
his own and pulled her into a deep kiss. Buffy rolled to lie atop him, cradling
him between her thighs. They stopped kissing and looked down where their hips
"I think we're a little backwards again,"
Buffy said with a slight frown.
They repositioned so Giles cradled Buffy. They kissed
again and again, raising their mutual desire to fever pitch. Giles pulled his
knees up in silent invitation. Buffy drew up slightly on her hands and knees.
Their eyes met. Buffy could see her own nervousness reflected in Giles' eyes.
She smiled at him.
"I love you," she told him. "No matter
"I love you, too."
Buffy balanced on one hand and took her cock in the
other to guide it into Giles waiting depths. She froze.
"And just so you know, I've never had anything
this big in there. I hope it fits."
"Thank you for putting me so entirely at my
He braced himself as Buffy moved the tip of her cock to
the cleft of his core. She rubbed it against his entrance, looking for the right
spot. When she found it, she tried to move forward, but found Giles had tensed
so much that it was almost impossible to gain entry.
"Hey," she soothed him, "it's okay. I
won't hurt you, Giles."
"I - I want it, but..." he turned his head to
hide his frustration.
"But it's not easy for you to open up this way.
You're not used to letting anyone in, are you? Giles, this is what love's all
about; letting someone in. It's just...a lot more literal for a girl than for a
"I do love you, Buffy," he told her softly.
"I want to let you in, figuratively as well as literally. I just...perhaps
"Do you want to wait after all? I mean, we could,
if you need to."
"No, I don't want to wait. I know exactly how you
feel right now, and I wouldn't wish that frustration on anyone. And I want this;
I honestly do. I want you. But I'm having a little trouble with...I think it's
the position that's the trouble."
"So you just want to change positions? We could do
that. So...um...how do you want it? Do you want to be on top?"
"Or possibly...like this."
Giles rolled to his stomach and pulled up onto his
knees. He took hold of the headboard. Buffy moved behind him and kissed his
"Doggie style, huh? Okay, if it works for you. But
I just want to remind you when your knees start to give out, this was all your
Giles spread his legs a bit more in preparation as
Buffy caressed him gently from behind.
"Are you ready?" she asked.
She ran her fingers across Giles' sopping nether lips.
She smiled at his groan. He still flinched slightly, though. Buffy continued
touching him until she felt him begin to relax under her ministrations. Soon he
was thrusting back against her hand. She gently spread the swollen pink lips and
inserted a finger into his waiting warmth. Giles mewled at the welcome invasion
and clutched the headboard tightly. Buffy pressed a kiss to each soft buttock
before her and slipped the finger out. She repositioned herself and placed her
cockhead at Giles' tight entrance.
As the tip slipped in, Buffy groaned. She held Giles
hips as he pushed back against her. Even through the latex, she could feel how
snug and warm it was to be inside Giles. No wonder so many guys were in too big
a hurry to get to this part. It was dominance and homecoming in one sweet
thrust. She surged forward until her groin was pressed firmly against Giles soft
rump. Her balls hung down, heavy and exposed, against Giles' hungry vaginal
"How's that?" she asked a bit breathlessly.
"Very strange," Giles admitted, "but
"I know what you mean."
She began to thrust, gently as she could manage at
first. Giles met her every stroke with one of his own. The swing of Buffy's
balls felt strange to both, but Giles soon decided he enjoyed the way they
caressed his clitoris on every stroke. What he was having the most trouble
getting used to was the way his breasts swayed as well.
Then again, with the wonderful feeling of fullness
Buffy's cock was providing, and the constant stimulation to his clitoris, Giles
soon found he didn't much care what his breasts were up to. He pushed back
against Buffy wantonly and began to vocalize.
Buffy couldn't believe how much it excited her to hear
Giles moan, whimper, and beg her to fuck him harder. She sped up the pace and
did some talking of her own. She told him how good it felt to be inside him, how
much she wanted to make him come Her words only made Giles move faster and cry
He clutched the headboard harder as his cries turned
incoherent. Buffy moved as fast as she could, drilling into Giles fiercely. She
could feel her balls swelling and then contracting as the first wave of sperm
surged through her penis. She yelled at the strange, yet exciting sensation. As
the second wave hit, she could feel Giles begin to come, too, milking her with
his internal muscles. Wave after wave coursed through both. Then, as suddenly as
it had arrived, the fury left.
Giles' knees gave out and he fell to the mattress in a
sweaty heap taking Buffy with him. They lay there, utterly drained, until Buffy
somehow found the strength to roll off of Giles and pull him into a tight
"So," she panted. "Was it good for
"Good? I think I broke your bed."
Buffy looked over his shoulder at the piece of her
headboard on the pillow and laughed.
"You're paying to replace that, buster."
She bent down and kissed him deeply. He returned the
kiss eagerly. At last, Buffy pulled away gently.
"I think I need to take this thing off before it
falls off," she observed. "Then I think I need to fall seriously
"If I might recommend," Giles said, "I
think a shower might be a good idea for both of us."
"Sounds yummy," she agreed. "Then
"You're all alike," Giles huffed in a mock
aggrieved tone. "Once you've had your way, you can't be bothered to stay up
"Hey, it takes a lot out of a guy," Buffy
protested teasingly. "Besides, I was up for a long time and we talked
"I've been up longer."
"Well, it was my first time. I couldn't help it if
I was a little trigger happy. Was I...? Giles, did you get enough?"
"You were wonderful," Giles assured her as he
leaned up to kiss her.
The pair moved to the bathroom. Buffy disposed of the
used condom while Giles started the water in the shower.
As they cleaned up, they shared kisses and warm
caresses. Buffy felt herself begin to stir slightly again. She pulled Giles
closer and kissed him deeply. Before things could get any further, though, the
front door slammed and deliberately loud footsteps were heard on the stairs.
Buffy relaxed her hold on Giles slightly and groaned in frustration.
"I guess Will's home."
"I thought you said she was out for the
"Not all the night, the night. Just as long as The
Bronze was open the night. I thought you got that."
She reached out and turned off the taps. The pair left
the shower and toweled off, then grabbed their robes and scampered into Buffy's
room as soon as they were sure the coast was clear.
In her own room, Willow smiled. It was good to hear
those two laughing.
The next morning, everybody met up at the Magic Box for
another round of research. While Giles immediately threw himself into the work,
Buffy found it difficult to concentrate. She couldn't stop her mind from
thinking about the night before. And that morning when they had repeated the
exercise in a somewhat quieter fashion. Each was still a little awkward with the
body parts they were using, a bit hesitant about some things that wouldn't
bother them if they were in their own bodies, but the lovemaking was still
exceptional. It was warm, and tender, and wildly passionate.
But now that they sat at the tarot table with their
friends, she kept waiting for Giles to make some sort of announcement about the
change in their status. Either that or for Willow to blurt out something that
would force them to blush and admit they were now lovers. Of course Giles made
no such statement, and Willow seemed to have drunk deeply from the fountain of
discretion. Nothing was said. A small part of Buffy began to panic that she'd
dreamed the whole thing.
Suddenly, she felt something under the table around her
ankle. She jumped slightly and peeked over to see Giles keeping a careful mask
of indifference on his face. She felt the movement again. A smile spread across
her face as she realized what was going on: Giles was playing footsies with her.
"Who gave you that happy, Buff?" Xander asked
from across the table.
"Huh? H- happy?" Buffy stalled.
"That big ol' smile you had a minute ago. I
thought maybe that Watcher whose diary you're reading might have something to do
with it. Did he run across this beastie, too?"
"Oh, that. Um...no, *she* didn't. No joy."
"But you were smiling," Anya insisted.
"It was...something other. Not Watcher
"Oh yes it was," Xander teased. "Admit
it, Buffy. It's Giles."
"What do you mean?"
She peeped at Giles who continued to bury his nose in a
book, though she could see the color rising in his cheeks.
"Come on, Buff. We're all feeling it. It's like
old times in the library. The circumstances may be pretty freaky, but it's great
to have the old gang doing the Scooby thing just like we used to. Of course back
then, Giles wouldn't have been caught dead in a skirt, and you would have staked
yourself before you covered that much skin with clothes of any kind, but
still...it feels good. Makes me wonder where we lost this. Having Giles back -
even if he's being more Ruthie than Rupert...we're glad you're back, Big Guy.
Buffy missed you, y'know."
"Yeah, I did," she agreed.
She smiled warmly at Giles. He looked up from his book
and gave her a shy grin.
"Well, it's nice to be back," he agreed.
"I missed all of you, as well."
Buffy ducked her head to cover her blushes when she
felt Giles' foot against her own again. Nobody else noticed because they had
returned to their research.
The day wore on much as the days before it had. The
gang engaged in research that seemed to lead nowhere. Various members of the
group came and went as they were required to be elsewhere. Even Tara arrived to
help, since Willow had informed her of the situation the night before. At last
Buffy couldn't sit still anymore and headed for the training room. She needed to
work off the frustration in a physical way.
She was still pummeling the punching bag with
everything she had when Tara walked into the room half an hour later. She
stopped and smiled at her friend.
"Hey, Tara. Taking a break from bookishness?"
"I wanted to talk, if that's okay."
"Sure," Buffy said. She stilled the bag and
began to unwrap her knuckles. "I could use a break anyway. Giles is in good
shape, but he's not exactly the Slayer."
Tara went to sit on the couch as Buffy got herself a
cup of water.
"So what did you want to talk about?" Buffy
asked when the silence had stretched on for several seconds.
"How are you doing?" Tara asked.
Buffy thought about the question.
"Really? That's hard to say. Frustrated, confused
most of the time, mad at that stupid demon, but, at the same time, I can't think
of when I've been happier. Having Giles back - even in this really weird way -
is great. Tara, can I ask you something really crazy?"
"Hellmouth crazy, or Buffy crazy?" the witch
"Sorta both crazy."
"Good thing I brought chocolate, then," Tara
observed. She pulled out a bar and broke it in two, handing half to Buffy.
"Go ahead. Ask."
Buffy took the candy and nibbled at it in a distracted
fashion. She paced the room, then returned to the couch and flopped down on it
next to her friend.
"Do you think I could be gay?" she blurted
Tara blinked. This was not the question she'd been
expecting from Buffy.
"Is there a reason you think you might be?"
Buffy stood and began to pace again.
"I don't know. But...it's complicated."
"Is this a Giles question?"
"What makes you ask that?"
"He's here and he's suddenly a girl. It seemed the
likeliest reason you'd ask that. Besides, I saw Willow last night. She didn't
say anything, but she was smiling way too much. Something happened between you
and Giles, didn't it?"
"You could say that," Buffy blushed.
"You could say that a lot."
"So you and he...made love?"
"And you liked it."
"It was...incredible...like nothing I've ever felt
before. But he's a girl, and I never thought I'd want to be with a girl - no
offense, Tara, I'm totally okay with it for you...it's just...I'm saying this
"I don't think there's a lot of right and wrong in
this, Buffy. At least, not an objective kind. There's only what you feel. Do you
"I never knew how much before."
"Will you still love him when he's a man
"He's Giles," Buffy replied simply. "I
love him no matter what."
"And you don't have big, burning passion for,
say...me or Willow or Anya or Jennifer Lopez?"
"Again, no offense, but not interested. Especially
"Then I don't think you're gay, Buffy. You're just
really and truly in love."
"That's a relief," Buffy breathed. "Not
that...I'm sorry, Tara. Again, I don't have a problem with anyone who is
"It's just you want to enjoy the Gilesy goodness
when he's back to being Giles again?"
"Something like that."
The two sat on the couch and ate their chocolate
"This is way better," Buffy observed.
"Than the last time I told you I was sleeping with
someone. No more tears this time. I like who I'm sleeping with and I like how
we're sleeping together. Plus, chocolate. Definitely the superior confessional
"I like it better, too. Happy Buffy is good. I've
"Speaking of missing...you and Will. What's the
"There's talking. Some talking."
"I know. But is there anything else I should know
about? Any looking or, say, touching?"
"Buffy!" Tara blushed despite her smile.
"Hey, I keep on telling you, when are you gonna
"When there's something to tell."
"Tara, do you want a piece of advice from probably
the single most screwed up source in the world?"
"I don't talk to my father anymore."
"Okay, second most screwed up. As in me."
"Buffy, you're not screwed up. What is it?"
"Am too. And it's this: I know Willow hurt you,
and I totally understand why you're afraid to get back together with her. I
would be, too. But she's better now. And you guys just seem...so right. I know
she wants you back."
"So your advice is forget it and take her?"
"Not forget. Just try to forgive."
"As in 'love means never having to say you're
"No. As in sometimes love means forgiving the
unforgivable. Like Giles and me."
"I - I want to. But I don't know if I can."
"Just think about it, will you? She tries not to
say, but she's really hurting without you."
Before Tara could answer, the door opened and Xander
stuck his head in.
"Guys, I think you need to come out here. We found
Buffy and Tara stood.
"What is it, Xand? Did Giles find a way to swap us
"He's triple checking now, but he seems pretty
excited. He completely forgot his tea in midsip."
"That's a good sign," Tara said as she
squeezed Buffy's hand comfortingly.
Buffy took a deep breath and followed her friends out
to the main room where Giles continued to read avidly. He moved from one volume
to another with a surety that made Buffy's heart skip a beat. She hated to think
that he might not be able to do what he loved best if they didn't find the
answer to his eyesight problems.
The others held their breaths and waited for him to
glance up from his research. At last he looked up and sought out Buffy's eyes.
He smiled warmly.
"I've got it," he told her.
"What? What have you got?" she asked eagerly.
She moved to sit next to him.
"I can't quite believe it myself. Here I've been
reading and rereading these Watcher diaries for any information I can find, and
the answer has been staring at me for two days at least. The first clue was in
the diary of Augustus Greer, a Scotsman from Aberdeen with the most appalling
handwriting. Anyway, he and his Slayer, Wilhelmina, met up with our fiend in
1856 in Bavaria..."
"Giles. I don't have time for War And Peace, here.
Just tell me, already."
"Oh, yes, of course," he stammered.
"Well, it seems from several accounts of meetings with the creature, that
if the Slayer wasn't killed outright by the spell, it was reversed in a few days
on its own. We don't have to do anything. Just wait it out for another day or so
and we'll wake up in our own bodies."
"Just like that? No spells, no fuss, no
"Not even a bit of muss."
Buffy couldn't sit still. She stood and grabbed Giles
into a bear hug. Giles glared as his feet dangled a foot off the ground.
"You're enjoying this entirely too much, you
realize," he grumbled affectionately.
"Portable Giles. It's a good thing, on a temporary
She held him tighter. After a moment of hesitation, he
returned the embrace with enthusiasm. Willow and Tara grinned. Xander goggled.
Anya returned to the register as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened.
"Okay, this is some sort of victory over the
monster thing, right?" Xander asked. "Am I right?"
"No, Xander, as a matter of fact, you're quite
wrong," Giles assured him as Buffy lowered him to the ground.
"So...you two are..." Xander gestured vaguely
with his hands so as not to have to say the words.
"Breathe, Xand," Buffy advised. "And
yes, we are."
"But you're not...not while..." again, Xander
used a vague gesture to get his meaning across.
"I really think that's none of your
business," Giles said firmly.
"Oh God. That means you are. While you're all
"I don't see what the problem is," Anya piped
up helpfully. "You said you would if it happened to us."
A chorus of raised eyebrows met Xander. He giggled
nervously, then turned on his fiancée.
"I said maybe, An. Maybe. Not the same thing as
"Okay, hetero boy, we hear you," Buffy
teased. "And we're still doing the one from column A, one from column B
thing. We just switched columns is all. Shakespeare wrote a whole poem about
"Yes, well, I'm not entirely sure this was the
situation he had in mind," Giles corrected her.
"I know, but it works. And hey, if the sonnet
fits, I say wear it."
"Come on, Xander," Willow cajoled. "Tell
them you're okay with this. You know you will be."
"On one condition," Xander said. He
approached Buffy and Giles with a fierce look on his face. "You two are the
best friends I have, along with Will. You have to promise never to break up,
because I don't think I could ever choose sides, here. Besides, whichever one of
you I didn't choose, could hurt me. So, is this a forever thing?"
Giles smiled up at Buffy as she answered for both.
"Yeah, Xand. It's a forever thing."
"Then in that case..."
Xander hugged Buffy tightly. When he finished he turned
to Giles and hugged him, as well, lifting him off the ground.
"Whaddya know! Buffy's right. Portable Giles is a
"Xander, I may be half your size right now, but I
have Slayer strength."
Xander put Giles down. He gave a sheepish grin.
"Sorry, man. I just got carried away in all the
Buffy gave Giles a hard look. He did his best to ignore
it, but he found he couldn't. He shoved his hands in his pockets and looked at
the floor. The others watched in consternation.
"There's some not so good news, too, isn't
there?" Xander asked.
"You don't have to tell us now if you don't
want," Willow assured Giles. "You could wait. Or not tell us at all if
it's not our business."
"No, Buffy's right. If I'm to stay, you'll know
pretty quickly anyway. You'd better all sit down."
Buffy gave his hand a reassuring squeeze as they all
returned to their seats. He smiled tightly at her, but squeezed back gently.
A few minutes later, everybody was scanning books
again. Willow sniffled as she read and the others all sent worried looks to
Giles when they thought he wasn't looking. When Giles stood to get himself
another cup of tea, Buffy followed him into the corner of the room.
"You okay?" she asked him quietly. "I
know that was sort of rough, telling them."
Giles poured his tea and added the milk and sugar.
Buffy could tell from the set of his shoulders that he was still uncomfortable
after the confessions of the last half hour.
"I'm okay," he told Buffy at last. "Or I
will be, at any rate."
"Liar. Come on. We need to talk."
Buffy ushered Giles into the training room. The
Scoobies watched the couple until the door shut behind them. At last Willow gave
in and burst into tears. Tara moved to take her hand.
"It's not fair," Willow declared brokenly.
"This shouldn't have to happen to Giles. Not now, when he just got together
"When should it happen, then?" Anya asked
"An," Xander said, "I don't think that's
what Willow means. And we're not gonna let this happen. Giles is gonna be okay.
We'll find something."
It was left to Anya to bring up the question nobody
wanted to answer.
"What if we don't? What if there isn't anything we
can do? If Joyce died, Giles can go blind and we might not be able to stop it.
What happens then? He can't be Buffy's Watcher if he can't see."
Tara took one look at the set of Willow's jaw and
decided it was time to intervene.
"We'll think about that when the time comes, Anya.
Right now, let's just assume there's something we can do and look for it. If
there isn't, then we'll all look for ways to help Giles adjust. Willow, I think
it might be helpful to check out some medical websites. Maybe there's a new
treatment Giles' doctors just haven't heard about."
Willow pulled her laptop out and booted it up as Xander
and Anya returned to their books. Tara moved to the counter.
"What are you doing?" Anya asked. "We're
all working. Why aren't you reading?"
"Because I have a phone call to make."
"If it's long distance, you'll have to pay for it
when the bill comes."
Tara rolled her eyes.
"Okay, Anya. I'll pay for it."
She turned to the phone and dialed.
Buffy sat on the couch and watched Giles prod at the
punching bag with a contemplative finger.
"Was I wrong?" she finally asked.
"Shouldn't I have said anything? Did I violate the guy code or
"No, no, it's alright," he said in a
"Okay, I obviously screwed up. Could you just tell
me how so I don't do it again unless it really, really needs doing?"
Giles didn't answer this time. Buffy stood and moved to
"I know you're not heavy into the sharing, and I
know you don't want them to feel sorry for you, but it's not like they wouldn't
notice after a while. This way they get to help us look for a cure. And if...if
we can't find one..."
"Then Willow can cry every time she sees me and
Xander can pull obstacles out of my path while I can still see them, and Anya
can shout at me because she doesn't understand that blind and deaf are different
Buffy flinched at the bitterness in his tone.
"I'm sorry, Buffy," he sighed. "It
really was the right thing to do, I know. It just makes things...so..."
"Real. Yeah, I know," she told him. "I
took away your place where you could pretend things were okay, didn't I?"
"With the best of intentions, I know, but
Without another word, Buffy took Giles in her arms and
kissed the top of his head. She held him close, hoping that her arms could
express what her words never seemed able to convey. From his answering embrace,
she knew he'd accepted her apology, and offered one of his own. At her warm
caress in return, he relaxed. At last, Buffy pulled back and led Giles to the
couch. They sat very close and continued to hold one another.
"I wish I knew what was to be done," Giles
"We'll figure it out. It's what we do."
"Now who's lying?"
"Come on, you know it's true. We'll find a way to
fix your eyes and kill that stupid demon for making me know the humiliation of
wearing your shoes."
"Shh. I'm lying to you. And then we'll go away
somewhere on a nice, long vacation where there's a beach for me and musty
museums for you and a five star hotel with big soft beds for when we get
together at night. And while we're gone, Faith will be taken out in a prison
riot so a new Slayer will be called and sent to the Hellmouth. She'll be majorly
kickass, but really dogly so I don't have to worry about her stealing my guy.
Then the Council will send me a gold watch and I can retire and make pretty
babies by the overflow method with you."
"Really? How many babies is that, precisely?"
"How many would you want it to be?"
"That many? You'll never see your feet
"Of course, you get all the diaper changing and
butt wiping duties."
"Poor Junior will have to settle for being an only
"Thought you'd see it my way," she giggled as
she cupped his cheek. "Everything will be great. Honest."
"I almost believe you."
Buffy bent down and kissed Giles softly.
"Whatever happens, it's you and me. Believe
"I'm beginning to."
A soft tap came at the door, followed almost
immediately by Tara's head peeping into the room.
"Is it okay if I come in for a minute?"
"Sure, Tara. What's up? You guys find something
"That was fast. What have you discovered?"
"It's not so much a what as a who," Tara
explained. "Mrs. Wilmot. She was a friend of my mother's, back home. She
knows things. Healing things."
"A witch?" Buffy asked.
Tara shook her head quickly.
"An herbalist. She knows how to can cure all sorts
of things. And she knows a little magic, too. She helped me learn after my
mother died, but mainly she knows herbs and things like that. Depending on the
cause, she might be able to fix this."
"Why didn't this come up when my mom got
sick?" Buffy wondered. "You all said magic and medicine don't go
together. How is this different?"
"We don't know that it is yet," Tara
answered. "She might not be able to do anything. She's never been able to
cure a tumor with herbs, so I didn't even bring it up then. There were better
things to try. Things that worked. This time, it may be the only option we
"And you think a pinch of tarragon will fix Giles'
eyes?" Buffy asked skeptically. "I was thinking more there might be an
operation or a pill. Or a chant. Chants work for some things."
Giles' hand moved to his nose to remove his glasses. He
fluttered his fingers in frustration when he found, once again, they weren't
there. He stood, ran his hand through his hair and began to pace.
"Of course!" he exclaimed. "I ought to
have thought of this avenue of inquiry before."
"Sticking spices in your eyes? No offense, Tara,
but I don't get how this is gonna work when medical science is baffled."
Giles returned to Buffy's side and gave her a bemused
"I know this seems a bit strange, Buffy," he
told her, "but some folk remedies have been found to have a solid medical
basis. Not everything, of course, but a surprising number of the old poultices
and mixtures can be quite effective when used properly. This just might
"Then we'll try it," Buffy said quietly.
"If you think it can work, I think it can, too. And hey, if it doesn't cure
you, maybe it'll be yummy on a salad."
"I rather doubt it; most of these concoctions
taste quite foul," Giles said with a smile. He turned to Tara. "Can
you get in touch with your friend?"
"I already did. She's on her way. She'll be here
in a few hours."
"That fast?" Buffy asked. "How's she
getting here? Magic carpet?"
Tara shook her head.
"Private jet. Her son made a killing in real
estate in the eighties. Not a literal killing, though. Nobody died for
"It's sad we have to spell that out, isn't
it?" Buffy mused.
That evening, while they awaited the arrival of Mrs.
Wilmot, Buffy and Giles caught Dawn up on what had been going on. She took the
news of her sister's new romance calmly.
"I knew that already," she said. "You
guys have been sleeping together since Giles got here. It's about time you said
"We weren't..." Giles sputtered. Then his
eyebrows raised and he gave a silent laugh. "Alright, we were, but not like
"We only just figured it out last night,"
Buffy clarified. "So are you cool with it? Think you can stand to have
Giles around a lot more?"
"You're not gonna go away again, are you?"
"I'll have to for a short time, to tie up loose
ends in England and get all the red tape cleared away so I can stay here
legally, but after that, I intend to stay...indefinitely."
"So are you guys getting married or what?"
Buffy and Giles looked at one another, twin expressions
of startled confusion on their faces.
"I - I don't know," Buffy said at last.
"I hadn't really thought about it. What about you?"
"I...hadn't really thought about it either. Did
you want to?"
"I dunno. You want to?"
"Well I suppose we could, if you like."
"But we don't have to," Buffy added hastily.
"I mean, it's no big deal if we don't."
"No, no, I suppose it isn't. People do stay
together without it, don't they?"
"Yeah. Like...okay, I can't think of anyone, but I
know it happens. Not that there's anything wrong with getting married."
"Nothing wrong with it at all."
"Except when it doesn't work out. That can get
"Oh yes, very ugly, as you say."
"Like Mom and Dad. I don't want that to happen to
"So is that a yes or a no?"
"Did you ask yet?"
"I think I may have done."
"So that's a yes?"
"I think it was."
"Well, then, that's settled."
The pair hugged gently. Dawn rolled her eyes.
"If anyone ever asks you about the proposal, make
something up," she recommended. "They'll never believe this."
Xander and Tara stood leaning against the wall at
Sunnydale airport outside the area for passengers and personnel only. Just
beyond the turnstile they could see a coffee bar, but there was no way to reach
it. They had no idea how much longer they would have to stand there, waiting for
Mrs. Wilmot to arrive. Rock, paper, scissors and thumb wrestling had long ago
worn out their power to amuse. At last they had turned to reciting lines from
movies and guessing the source.
"Um...laugh while you can, monkey boy," Tara
"The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the
Eighth Dimension. Duh!" Xander returned. "You can't go home again, but
you can shop there."
"Was that your quote, or are you being extra Dada
"In the words of Grandpa Simpson, a little from
column a, a little from column b. Didn't you ever see Grosse Pointe Blank?"
"Wasn't that about a hit man?"
"No, it was about two hit men. And a girl. And
Eighties rock. And the humiliation of high school reunions. Your turn."
"Okay...his recipe for duck a la banana goes with
him to the grave."
"Now who's being Dada?"
"Didn't you ever see Four Weddings and a
"Please! As if! That's a chick flick, and I don't
do chick flicks."
"What makes it a chick flick?"
"If it's got Hugh Grant in it, or there's a
wedding in the title, that pretty much makes it wrong for a man to see it. Or if
it stars Susan Sarandon."
"So The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a chick
"Ah, no. See, that's Susan Sarandon in her
pre-Thelma and Louise period, so that's alright."
"So a movie about a man who can't understand
marriage is a chick flick, but one about a mad scientist in women's underwear
building a muscle man as his personal snugglebear is manly?"
Xander took a breath to answer, then paused.
"You've changed, Tara."
"I - I have?"
"It's not a bad thing. Actually, it's a good one.
I like this Tara. You're confident now, but you're still nice. It's cool. Not
that you weren't cool before, just...it's easier to get to know you now."
"Well, I think I learned a lot with you guys. It's
hard to hang with the Scoobies and stay too shy."
"I think there's something about Buffy that brings
out the inner exhibitionist. Okay, in my case, that didn't take much, but you
should have seen Willow in the old days."
"The shyest. Almost as shy as you used to
There didn't seem to be much to say to that, so Tara
stayed quiet. The silence stretched out, but not uncomfortably. At last, Tara
stood straighter and craned her neck. Xander followed suit, despite the fact
that he didn't know what he was looking for.
"What is it, Tara?"
The girl grinned and pointed.
"There she is. Mrs. Wilmot." She waved wildly
to her friend.
Xander peered in the direction Tara was waving. He
He goggled at the woman. She was very short, and very
nearly as wide as she was tall. Her thinning hair had obviously been dyed that
vivid shade of red and was permed within an inch of its life. She was dressed in
black polyester stretch pants and an oversized chambray shirt with the American
flag sequined over the breast pocket. She strode firmly, her small, wheeled
suitcase following obediently in her wake.
"That's your herbalist friend? Are you sure?"
Tara rolled her eyes and moved closer to the turnstile.
"Mrs. Wilmot!" she called. "Over
The strange little woman smiled broadly when she saw
Tara and hurried over, wheezing as she went. With her free hand, she was already
opening her pocket to draw out a cigarette. Xander could now see
nicotine-stained fingers and worried anew.
"How do, Miss McClay," the woman muttered
around her cigarette as she pulled the girl into a bear hug. She pointed to
Xander. "That your young man?"
"No, he's not."
"In fact, I'm marrying someone else entirely on
Saturday," Xander hurried to explain. "I'm just a friend. Xander.
Mrs. Wilmot shook her head.
"That's too bad, Tara honey. He's good looking.
So, where's the patient?"
"We'll take you to him," Tara said. "Oh,
and there's a slight complication I should probably tell you about, but not
until we get to the car. People around here, they wouldn't understand."
"Can I take your suitcase?" Xander offered.
"Thank you kindly, but if it's all the same to
you, I'll keep it myself," Mrs. Wilmot insisted. "I don't let nobody
but nobody touch my medicine cabinet. Let's go, children. Time's
She marched out the door with Tara and Xander following
behind. For a moment, Xander worried he'd be blinded when they got out the door
and the sun hit the huge Old Glory sequined to the back of Mrs. Wilmot's shirt.
He waved away a plume of smoke from her cigarette when she stopped to light up.
"I really hope she knows what she's doing,"
he muttered under his breath. "And what the hell is Giles gonna make of
Buffy, Giles, Dawn, Willow and Anya sat in the living
room nervously awaiting Mrs. Wilmot's arrival. Conversation was at a minimum
among the group. Buffy kept an arm around Giles as much for her security as his.
The fact that he leaned against her in front of their friends told her just how
worried he was. If this didn't work, they knew there were few likely
possibilities for a cure. Willow's research had turned up nothing in the
conventional medical community.
When the kettle began to whistle, Willow headed for the
kitchen to make some tea. Dawn followed saying something about getting out some
cookies. A moment later, Dawn stuck her head into the room to ask Anya to help
her. A few hand gestures and raised eyebrows later, Anya got the hint and left
the room. Buffy smiled wryly after her.
"That was in no way unsubtle," she observed.
"Those guys should never consider a career in spydom."
"Still, they meant well, one assumes."
"One knows. How're you doing? Really?"
"Really? I feel as if I might be sick."
Buffy smoothed his hair and held him a bit tighter -
but not too tightly.
"Need a bucket?"
"If I need to, I imagine I'll be able to make it
to the toilet."
They sat quietly for a moment. Buffy stroked his head
the way she had always found comforting when her mother had done it for her.
Giles felt his stomach settle a bit. He took a deep breath and pulled back.
"You gonna be okay now?" Buffy asked.
"I think I'll manage."
He squeezed her hand gratefully, then grimaced when
"Sorry. I'm afraid I don't know my own
"It's okay," she told him as she flexed her
injured hand. "It takes getting used to. You've really done a pretty
amazing job of not breaking stuff...most of the time."
Just then the door opened and Tara and Xander led Mrs.
Wilmot into the room.
Buffy tried not to let her heart sink at the sight of
the strange little woman, but lost the battle when Mrs. Wilmot lit up a
cigarette and sat heavily in one of the armchairs.
"So you're her and she's you?" Mrs. Wilmot
Buffy and Giles looked at one another, then at their
"Um...yeah, that's about it," Buffy replied.
"Um...look, not to be all bossy, but...the smoking? We...don't have any
"Oh don't worry about that, honey," Mrs.
Wilmot said with a wave of her pudgy hand. She rooted around in a pocket of her
suitcase and pulled out a small aluminum tray. "I always carry my own, just
Buffy and Giles exchanged a worried look. They turned
as one to Tara.
"Could we talk to you a minute?" Buffy asked.
"We'll be right back," Giles assured Mrs.
Wilmot as he and Buffy ushered Tara out of the room.
When they got to the kitchen, Willow was just putting
the teapot on the tray.
"So, Buffy? What do you think? Can she help?"
"We're not sure yet. Tara, I don't want to make
you think we aren't grateful, but this woman...I have to ask..."
"She's a little off putting, I know, but she
really knows a lot. If you just give her a chance, she can probably help."
Buffy looked to Giles.
"What do you want to do, Giles? They're your
peepers. Think you can trust her with them?"
Giles leaned back against the counter and put his hands
in his pockets. He frowned at the floor for a moment. At last he looked at Tara.
"Has Mrs. Wilmot ever dealt with anyone with my
particular condition before?"
"Not exactly, but she helped people who were
losing their sight from other things. She couldn't cure them all, but even the
ones she couldn't save their sight entirely kept their vision a lot longer than
the doctors expected. I think she can at least buy you some time."
"How much time?"
"I don't know. Maybe a few weeks. Maybe even a few
months. Or she might be able to cure you entirely. I really don't know."
"Has she ever made things worse? I don't mean to
be rude, but I have to ask."
"Not that I've ever seen or heard. She won't take
cases she doesn't think she can help with."
Giles nodded and looked at the floor again.
"Since it would seem that this is my only option
for the moment, I'll take it."
"Okay," Buffy nodded. "We try it. But I
don't want a housefull of smoke. She takes her cigarettes outside."
The group returned to the living room as a nervous
clump. Willow put the tray down on the coffee table and retreated to Tara's
side. Anya sat on the arm of Xander's chair and Dawn took a spot on the floor
next to them. Giles took a deep breath and moved to Mrs. Wilmot's chair with
"I assume you'd like to perform an examination,
She shook her head emphatically.
"Not you, her," she said pointing at Buffy.
"She's got your eyes, so she's the one I have to look at. Come here,
Buffy looked nervously at Giles. He nodded
encouragingly. She removed her glasses and knelt on the floor before Mrs.
Wilmot. She was relived when Mrs. Wilmot stubbed out her cigarette, but tensed
when the odd woman began to touch various spots on her face and throat with a
look of intense concentration in her watery gray eyes. Giles put a comforting
hand on Buffy's shoulder as he watched the proceedings anxiously.
The rest of the group instinctively leaned toward Buffy
and took up similar protective positions with those nearest them. Every nerve in
the room was taut.
At last Mrs. Wilmot nodded and settled back in her
seat. She indicated she was finished. Buffy moved to the sofa and Giles sat
"You're getting headaches, aren't you?"
"Some," Buffy replied.
"Once in a while," she admitted. "Not
much unless I read too long."
"And you do a lot of that, don't you?"
"The last couple days. Most of the time, I can
resist the temptation to do brainy stuff, but Giles is research guy, so I know
he did it a lot even when he wasn't here."
Mrs. Wilmot glared at Giles.
"You've done a lot of damage you didn't need to.
Makes this harder to fix."
"Can you fix it?" Giles asked.
Buffy took his hand as they waited for the answer. Mrs.
Wilmot contemplated the pair for a further moment in which Buffy thought she
might need the bucket she'd so cavalierly offered to Giles earlier.
"Not a damn thing I can do until you both get back
where you belong," Mrs. Wilmot answered at last. "I'll probably be
able to do it then, but when your energy is this divided, it's tricky. I might
blind you in one go, this way. How long until you unswitch?"
"Perhaps a day or two," Giles told her.
"Can you stay that long?"
"Long as you've got a bed for me to sleep in and
good coffee in the morning," she said with a laugh. "Nowhere I need to
be most of the time. And I can watch my stories anywhere. Any of you watch
Later that night, Buffy and Giles lay curled in one
anothers' arms. Mrs. Wilmot had been given Willow's bed and Willow was camping
out in Dawn's room in a sleeping bag. Buffy sighed and pulled Giles closer.
"Don't worry so, Buffy," Giles told her
softly. "It'll be okay."
"But what if it's not?"
"It will be. It happens to every man once in a
"Great. I get to be the world's first impotent
"You're not impotent, Buffy. You're merely
He leaned up and kissed her warmly. Buffy tried not to
react, but couldn't resist kissing Giles back. When his lips parted, she took
the invitation eagerly. They kissed and petted for long minutes. At last Giles
pulled back and smiled at Buffy.
"Still feeling impotent?"
"You know exactly how impotent I'm not feeling,
Giles. Wanna test drive it?"
"Can I be on top this time?"
"I think something could be arranged."
They giggled and went back to their caresses.
The morning sun streamed through the peach colored
curtains. Out in the hall, Buffy could hear voices and movement. She pulled the
covers more firmly over her head to block out all knowledge of the fact that day
had dawned. She snuggled further into her pillow.
It was furry.
It wasn't furry when she went to sleep the night
It was also now fleshy and making a regular thumping
sound under her ear.
Buffy sat up hurriedly. She looked down at Giles still
asleep next to her. She greedily took in all the details of his rumpled brown
hair and unshaven jaw. With a tiny, excited squeal, she decided to wake him up.
"Giles? Giles?" she whispered. No response.
"Wake up, Giles. Sweetie? Rupert?"
He blinked at the sound. He tried repeatedly, but
couldn't get his eyes to focus properly. A pair of glasses found their way into
his hand and he put them on. He found his fiancée grinning down at him.
"Buffy...? The spell wore off in the night,
then," he mused. "I must say, I like waking up to this particular
vision," he added as he pulled Buffy close. "Have I ever told you how
beautiful you are?"
"Nope. And I'm sure a guy with your impressive
vocabulary can come up with lots and lots of words to tell me," she
laughed. "Oh, and let me take this opportunity to tell you that I like
waking up to a naked Watcher. You're all cute and rumpley in the morning."
"Cute and rumpley? Oh, and is your interest
specific to the particular naked Watcher in your bed, or will any naked Watcher
"Well, I can't imagine Wesley getting as rumpley
as this, and pretty much every other Watcher I've ever met is either dead or a
friend of Travers', so I guess I'm stuck with you."
Giles pulled Buffy down for a deep kiss. She reveled in
the feel of his strong arms around her, his soft lips against hers, the sheer
bulk of him. This felt right.
"I've decided something," she said when she
finally pulled back. "It's good to be me."
"Not as good as it is to be me," Giles told
her as he rolled them over. "Because if I'm me, I get to have you."
"Just so we're clear," Buffy said, "this
having would consist of...what exactly?"
She looked up at him with wide, innocent eyes and
softly ruffled his chest hair with her fingertips. Giles groaned and kissed her
Soon their kisses and caresses had grown fevered. Each
explored the other with a confidence they never had with any other lover. Each
knew what the other wanted, what would please them best. By the time Giles was
inside her, Buffy had already decided this was her best sexual experience of all
time, and it was far from over. She moaned as Giles gave a firm thrust. Both
stiffened when a knock came on the door.
"Buffy? Giles? Are you up yet?" came Dawn's
"Um...yeah," Buffy managed as Giles dissolved
into giggles against her neck.
"Hurry up. Tara's here and she's making
"Tell her we'll come as soon as we can,"
Buffy said a bit breathlessly.
As soon as her sister's footsteps had retreated, Buffy
wriggled against her lover.
"Better get a move on, big boy," she grinned.
"Hang on, then," he said, "and we'll be
eating pancakes all too soon. Finesse will just have to wait."
With that he began to pump fiercely into Buffy. She
gasped and held him as close as she could. They kissed to swallow their mutual
cries of passion. Soon Buffy could feel the wild need for release growing in
her. She could see the same need in Giles' face as he pounded harder than ever
inside her. His hips moved even faster.
The fury hit them both at the same time. Buffy wondered
at the sight of Giles, her cool, in control Giles, in the throes of orgasm. His
flushed face and pounding heartbeat delighted her. His soft cries as he did his
best not to let the rest of the house know what they were up to seemed the
sexiest thing she'd ever heard. Even through the haze of her own climax she
found his intoxicating.
At last, it was done. Giles stroked Buffy's cheek
gently and smiled down at her. She closed her eyes and leaned into his caress.
"That was fantastic," he panted.
"And no breakage this time," she grinned
back. "Come on, we'd better hit the showers and go eat breakfast."
She gave him one last, lingering kiss before he rolled
off her and dealt with the condom.
"At least this answers one question," Buffy
said as she chose clothes for the day.
"The hot sex wasn't all about the switch. This
bodes well for married life."
During breakfast it became clear that, hard as they'd
tried to be discreet, everybody knew exactly what Buffy and Giles had been up
to. Between the merry giggles Willow and Dawn shared, the disapproving sniffs of
Mrs. Wilmot, and Tara's gentle, sympathetic smiles, they felt a bit awkward. All
in all, they were relieved when breakfast was done.
Buffy moved to clear the table, but Tara stopped her.
"I have a clean up crew already," she said.
"I think Mrs. Wilmot will be able to do something for Giles today. You
should be with him."
Buffy turned at a sound behind her only to see Dawn
clearing plates while Willow filled the sink with hot, soapy water.
"Thanks guys," she breathed in relief.
"I really do want to be with Giles today. Sort of hold his hand."
"Or maybe other body parts I don't want to think
about Giles having," Dawn piped up.
"In front of Mrs. Wilmot?" Buffy replied with
a withering glare. "Eeiw. Willow, you have the soap. Feel free to wash my
sister's mouth out."
She turned on her heel and went into the back yard
where Mrs. Wilmot had already dragged Giles for another consultation. Buffy
moved to Giles' side and took his hand. He smiled tightly and gave her hand a
slight squeeze in return.
Mrs. Wilmot, in the meantime, muttered to herself as
she scanned a tattered notebook and organized jars of herbs. Buffy and Giles
watched her nervously. At last, Buffy couldn't take the not knowing anymore.
"Find anything?" she asked.
The old woman grunted and nodded, but said nothing.
Buffy waited as patiently as she knew how, but had to ask another question when
several more minutes had passed without further information.
"What is it? Is it gonna work?"
"Not much of a one for waiting, is she?" Mrs.
Wilmot asked Giles. "That's the trouble with young folks now. Rush, rush,
rush. Can't be bothered to take their time over anything. Instant gratification,
that's what they're after. Well, Missy, this takes as long as it takes and your
questions only make it take longer."
Giles pursed his lips and narrowed his eyes.
"I'd like an answer to Buffy's question,
myself," he said in a dangerous tone.
Mrs. Wilmot met his eye with amusement.
"So there's a backbone in there, after all. I was
beginning to wonder. Yes, I've got something. It'll take a couple hours to
prepare. Why don't you take your girl somewhere else for a while? But no
caffeine for the next two hours."
"Will it mess up the cure?" Buffy asked.
"Nah. It's just bad for you."
Buffy couldn't believe she was strolling down the
street with her honey on a sunny day. It had been a long time since she'd done
that. She'd forgotten how good - how normal - it felt. So there'd been a few odd
looks from the passers by and a couple comments about cradle robbers and gold
diggers that Buffy wouldn't have heard without her enhanced Slayer hearing, but
there'd been some approving and even jealous looks as well. On balance, Buffy
decided to exert her famous powers of denial to deal with anyone who didn't like
her choice of partner. If she was happy, and he was happy, what did it matter
what anyone else thought? She slipped her arm around Giles' elbow and leaned
closer to him.
"So where're we going?" she asked at last.
"Somewhere I think you'll like."
"Cryptic guy," Buffy grumbled. "Can you
give me a hint? Is it bigger than a breadbox?"
"Yes, it's bigger than a breadbox. And yes, that
is your hint."
"Are we getting anywhere near it?"
"You're really not much of a one for waiting, are
you?" he teased. "It's not far. We'll be there soon."
Buffy tried to glare at him, but Giles looked so happy,
even boyish, she couldn't help smiling instead.
"You're lucky I love you so much," she
informed him, "'cause you're about the biggest pain in the butt I've ever
Giles just grinned at her and led her into Weatherly
"Okay, I know this place already," Buffy said
impatiently. "Killed about a zillion nasties here, caught that aspect of
the demon, found Hansel and Gretel. This place has sort of lost its charm for
"Trust me, Buffy, there's something you'll like a
bit further on."
"I've been over this whole park I don't know how
many times on patrol. There's nothing here I haven't seen."
Giles just took her hand and walked faster until Buffy
almost had to trot to keep up with him.
"It's just over here," Giles told her when
they reached a row of trees near the back of the park.
"I've seen these trees, Giles. Pretty standard
tree-like things. Bark, leaves that fall off in the aptly named Fall, an
occasional bit of sap in the spring. Trees. Nothing special."
"Not the trees, Buffy. Behind them."
Giles parted some low-hanging branches and indicated to
Buffy that she should step through them. She did, though she raised her eyebrows
at Giles as she followed his instructions.
Once through the line of trees, though, her eyes went
wide at the sight before her. There was a tiny clearing surrounded by the trees
that everyone else thought marked the edge of the park. In this small place,
wildflowers bloomed in abundance. Everywhere she looked, Buffy saw more flowers.
"When did this get here?" she asked.
"I can't tell you that," Giles said,
"but I found it shortly after you and Willow went off to college. I had a
lot of time to myself, then, and I went wandering one day. I was feeling a bit
lonely and sorry for myself, so I just went wherever my feet took me, as it
were. The next thing I knew, I was at the back of Weatherly Park, and I saw a
flash of something behind one of the trees. When I went to investigate, I found
myself surrounded by poppies. It all looked so cheerful..."
"It made you feel better?" Buffy guessed.
"When we were staying away in droves?"
"Actually, that first time, if anything, it made
me feel worse. I was a bit offended that anything dared to look so bright and
happy when I wasn't. But after a time, I found myself wanting to come back. It
became something of a ritual to come here about once a week and just daydream
for a while."
"What did you dream about?" Buffy asked as
she wrapped her arms around Giles' waist.
"Any number of things. What I might have done with
my life if I hadn't been born a Watcher, changes I would make if I was head of
the Council, how good it would feel to hold you and kiss you...and how
satisfying it would be to turn you over my knee and give you a good spanking. I
thought about chucking it all and going back to England. And I wished with all
my heart that we were back in the library at Sunnydale High. Silly, really. One
can't turn back the clock."
"If you could, would you do it?" Buffy asked
Giles looked down at Buffy. He drank in her sweet face
filled with both affection and concern. He smiled and shook his head.
"No," he answered, "I don't believe I
"But if we went back, maybe I wouldn't do so many
stupid things that hurt you."
"There were mistakes enough on both sides, Buffy.
And most of yours were a result of having a great deal of growing up to do. I
had some of that to do as well."
"Giles, you're grown up. You've been grown up as
long as I've known you. You were grown up way before you came here."
"In some ways," he said. "In others...I
feel as if I put that on hold along with my studies when I was twenty one. Of
course, I went back to Oxford. But for the rest...I'm not entirely sure I ever
picked that up again until I came to Sunnydale. In some ways I feel as if I've
been growing up alongside you."
"Is that why you did it?" she asked, her hand
rubbing involuntarily across his left forearm. "Because you decided you
were too grown up for Eyghon now?"
"What...? Oh, that! It was silly, really. I just
looked at it one day and it hurt too damn much. I thought of you and I thought
of...of Jenny, and how much both of you were harmed by it. How I'd lost you both
before I'd ever really had you. I just couldn't bear to look at it again."
"You still miss her, don't you?"
"Don't you miss Angel?"
"Yeah. Sometimes." She snuggled closer to his
chest. "And sometimes not. Right now, I'm really not. But it's okay if you
are. Missing her, that is. I don't think you miss Angel all that often."
"Not that often," he admitted as he wrapped
his arms tighter around Buffy. "And this is most definitely not one of
Willow and Tara both decided to skip classes so they
could watch over Giles' cure. Dawn complained when she was told she had to go to
school anyway, but she did finally go. About an hour after her departure, the
doorbell rang and Willow found Xander and Anya on the doorstep.
"Don't you guys have to work?" Willow asked
as she ushered them in.
"I tried," Xander said. "But after the
fifth time I hammered my thumb instead of the nail I was aiming for, the boss
sent me home to sleep it off."
"Couldn't concentrate, huh?" Willow smiled
"That's a much better way of putting it than the
one Carlos came up with. You don't even want to know what that was."
"Construction workers can be very crude,"
Anya supplied helpfully. "They often ridicule their co-workers'
"What about the Magic Box?" Tara asked, as
much to change the subject as to learn the answer.
"Oh, that," Anya said with a wave of her
hand. "It's closed for illness in the family. Giles is family. He's
She glowered fiercely, daring anyone to argue the
point. Nobody did.
The four went into the dining room and sat around the
table. After a moment, Tara got up to make tea for those who wanted it. By
mutual unspoken consent, they stayed away from the topic on all their minds. The
conversation flitted from one inconsequential matter to another.
"This is silly," Anya said at last.
"None of us is saying what we want to. We're all worried about Giles, but
nobody will come out and talk about it. I want to talk about it. I need to talk
about it. I feel bad. Like I might throw up."
"I know," Xander told her, "We all feel
like that, An. That's why we're not talking about it. So we don't feel quite so
"That's stupid. Not talking about things doesn't
make them go away."
"Talking about them doesn't do that either,"
he reminded her.
"No," Tara agreed, "it doesn't make them
go away. But sometimes it helps anyway. What did you want to say, Anya?"
The former demon looked around the table a bit
"That I felt bad. I said that already. I just
wanted to make sure I wasn't the only one."
"You're really not," Willow said. "I
feel all tumbley in my tummy, too."
The others shared bemused looks. They understood what
Anya meant, even if she did phrase it badly.
The door opened and every head turned to watch Buffy
and Giles file through it into the house.
"What are all of you doing here?" Giles
"Circling the wagons," Xander told him.
"We wanted to be here for you, big guy."
Anya launched herself across the room and pinned Giles'
arms to his sides with a fierce bear hug.
"Yes...well...thank you all," Giles said as
he carefully extracted himself from Anya's embrace. "But I can manage if
you have other things to do - as I'm sure you all do. There's really no need to
"It's gonna be pretty boring from what Mrs. Wilmot
said, anyway," Buffy added. "And you know what they say: a watched
poultice never heals."
"Who says that?" Willow asked.
"They...do. People who do say that."
Tara got the hint.
"In that case, why don't we go get some lunch and
come back later?" she suggested. "We could have a pizza party tonight
in honor of Giles' recovery."
"What if he doesn't recover?" Anya asked.
"We'll see you later. I'll bring the pizza and the
beer," Xander volunteered as he steered his tactless love out the door.
Tara and Willow followed in their wake. Soon the house was empty except for
Buffy and Giles. Giles heaved a sigh of relief.
"Thank you for that," he said to Buffy.
"I know you wanted to be fuss-free, but you'll
have to get used to it if you're staying. They're pretty crazy about you,
"I'd forgotten how...intense they can be."
"I'm not going anywhere," Buffy told him in
no uncertain terms.
"Buffy..." he began.
"Uh uh. No way. Honestly, Giles, you're just like
a cat sometimes."
"When I was a little girl, we had a pet cat once.
Every time it got sick, it disappeared and my dad would have to drag it out from
under the bed or something to take it to the vet. This one time, it vanished
into thin air and we didn't find it for a week. That was when the stink started
coming from under the house. Mom never let me have another pet. If I let you,
you'd duck out of this and disappear, wouldn't you?"
"I would not!" he protested. When she raised
an eyebrow and folded her arms across her chest, he caved. "I might think
about it, but I wouldn't do it. You'd find me and hurt me and make me do this
"Scratch the hurting part. I think I've done
enough of that already. But the finding and making, definitely."
"All right. Lead me to my doom," he joked
Together they went into the back yard to find Mrs.
Wilmot. The lady in question was mixing herbs rapidly and muttering to herself.
When she saw Giles, she took a deep puff on her cigarette and smiled.
"Almost ready," she told him. "Now,
Buffy, you spread out some old newspapers around that lounge chair. Mr. Giles,
take your shirt off."
"I - I beg your pardon?"
"Go on, honey, you ain't got nothing I haven't
seen before. I been married. Go on, this gets a little messy. You don't want to
ruin that shirt."
Buffy and Giles shared a long, nervous look. At last,
they both gave a mental shrug. There wasn't a lot of choice. Buffy began
strewing newspapers around the chair and Giles unbuttoned his shirt.
Within minutes, Giles was ensconced, topless, in the
lounge chair with a nearly scalding poultice over his eyes. As Mrs. Wilmot had
predicted, glops of the rank herbal mess seeped from the cloth they'd been bound
in, dripping onto the chair and down Giles cheeks. At first, Buffy did her best
to keep the rivulets of herb juice from running down his throat to his
shoulders, but even she had to give up after a while. She finally draped an old
towel across his shoulders to soak up the mess as it fell.
Later, she could just throw the towel away. She was
sure she'd never get the smell out in the laundry.
In the meantime, she stayed with Giles, holding his
hand and talking to him.
Every half hour, Mrs. Wilmot removed the poultice and
replaced it with a fresh one.
The day dragged on tediously. Giles did his best not to
get snappish, but that was difficult between the smell, the wretched heat across
his face, the growing chill across his towel-draped chest, the enforced
immobility and the complete deprivation of his sight. He held onto Buffy's hand
as if it was an anchor, keeping him from floating off his emotional moorings.
Buffy talked of everything she could think of until she
was hoarse from the exercise. She stroked Giles' hair and held on tightly to his
hand. All she wanted to do was to find something to hit - or at least scream at
- but she knew Giles needed her to be sttrong and adult. She could hit something
later. Or maybe Giles would need some help in the shower after this.
That was something to hang onto in her mind.
Eventually Dawn returned from school. She offered to
relieve her sister from Gileswatch duty, but Buffy would have none of it.
"You need a break, Buffy," Giles told her.
"You've been at this so long you're making my throat sore when you
Buffy shook her head stubbornly.
"Not moving," she croaked. "Not shutting
up, either. Dawn can get me a drink and we can take turns talking to you, but
I'm not leaving. I'm staying right here with you."
Just then, Mrs. Wilmot puffed her way out of the
kitchen and handed Buffy a mug.
"Drink up, dearie. It's lemon tea with honey for
your throat. You'll sound better when you've had that. Probably feel better,
too," she said kindly.
Buffy took the mug with a grateful smile. Maybe Mrs.
Wilmot had some redeeming features after all.
"Thanks. Now I don't have to go at all."
"Just drink it, Buffy," Dawn told her.
"You sound like a frog."
"A frog who can ground you for life."
"Did I say a frog? I meant a supermodel."
The sisters smiled at one another. Dawn took up
talking, telling Giles about her day at school. Buffy sipped her tea but never
let go of Giles' hand.
It was nearly nightfall when Mrs. Wilmot removed the
final poultice and told Giles the treatment was over for the day.
"Just for the day?" Buffy squeaked.
"Isn't it done for...ever?"
"We'll see," Mrs. Wilmot said. "But he
probably needs another couple treatments and then a little follow up down the
road. It took a long time to get things to this point, it'll take a while to fix
completely. Don't you fret. He'll be good as new in a short time - if this today
did any good at all."
Giles toweled the remaining gunk off his face silently.
He reached for his glasses and his discarded shirt. He put his glasses on and
took them off several times, changing his focus from things as close as his hand
to as far as could be seen from the garden.
Buffy and Dawn watched nervously from the sidelines.
Mrs. Wilmot lit up yet another cigarette. Buffy fumed at the thought that she
could be so unconcerned with how her cure had worked. She watched as Giles
blinked one last time and shook his head. At last, he placed his glasses firmly
on his nose and turned toward Buffy.
"I'd best shower before the others get here,"
he said quietly.
Buffy moved to his side and put her hand on his arm.
She looked up at him with large, worried eyes. His demeanor didn't seem right if
he was any better.
"Are you okay? Didn't it do anything?"
He smiled down at her softly.
"I think we may just have something to celebrate
after all," he told her.
Buffy launched herself into his arms and squeezed as
tightly as she dared without hurting his ribs.
"Don't ever scare me like that again, you
creep!" she admonished him. A moment later, she pulled back and made a wry
face. "Okay, into the shower with you, pronto. You smell gross."
She dragged him into the house, both grinning widely.
Dawn followed, almost dancing in her excitement. Mrs. Wilmot shook her head and
laughed under her breath at the comical display. Then she set about cleaning up.
This was what she had set up as a healer to do. She took a satisfying drag on
her cigarette and looked up at the darkening sky.
"Did you see that, Abel? Another couple like that
and maybe I'll be found worthy to see you in the hereafter. Just you wait for
That night passed merrily with the Scoobies. Everybody
ate too much pizza - including Buffy who found herself remarkably hungry on her
return to her own body. She limited herself to only one beer, however. The
Slayer metabolism that allowed her to keep trim on a high calorie diet and to
heal at astonishing speed had the unfortunate side effect of lowering her
resistance to alcohol. Still, she had plenty to be thankful for, she decided.
She was alive and well and herself again, Giles was home with her and his
eyesight had already improved, Dawn was rapidly losing the angry, slightly
desperate edge that had been her trademark for so long, and Willow and Tara were
talking again. She began to wonder how she had gone so long without appreciating
the miracles around her.
Giles smiled warmly at her. He reached over with a
napkin to wipe a stray bit of cheese from the side of her lip as she leaned in
to steal a kiss. Xander made a rude sound and told them to get a room.
"Xand!" Willow admonished him.
"What? I'm kidding," Xander said. "You
know me, I kid. So, Buffy, Giles, when's the wedding?" he joked.
"As soon as I get my affairs in England
settled," Giles informed the room calmly. "That is, unless Buffy wants
"Why wait?" Buffy asked. "We're not
getting any younger. I say let's do this thing."
The Scoobies stared with their mouths open, except for
Dawn who grinned wider than the Cheshire Cat. Even Mrs. Wilmot looked surprised.
At last Willow gave a shriek of joy.
"Really? No way, you guys are really gonna do it?
"Sure are, oh maid of honor," Buffy grinned.
Xander continued to stare, shellshocked.
"You guys aren't kidding, are you?" he asked
"We're not kidding," Giles confirmed.
"And it's really gonna be as soon as you can do
"Yup," Buffy agreed. "Are you gonna be
cool with this?"
A dangerous grin spread across Xander's face.
"Can I plan the bachelor's party?"
Buffy and Giles looked dubiously at one another. A few
changes of expression later, Giles turned to Xander.
"You may plan the bachelor's party - so long as
you keep it within reason,"
"What's within reason?"
"No hookers, no strippers, no cigars, and minimum
booze," Buffy ordered.
"That sounds quite reasonable," Anya agreed.
"Excuse me, but I believe this is my bachelor's
party we're planning," Giles objected. "I agree to no strippers,
hookers, or cigars, since I don't want any of those, but I reserve the right to
get stinking drunk if I so desire."
"Darn tootin'!" Xander added.
Buffy glared at Giles, signaling her disapproval. Giles
returned her look with a raised eyebrow and pursed lips. At last Buffy backed
down with a grudging look.
"Okay, okay, you can drink like a fish if you
want," Buffy agreed. "And now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to kill
things and make the world safe for humanity. Coming, Giles?"
"Of course," he replied.
As soon as the two were out the door, the rest of the
Scoobies huddled closer together. They had wedding night pranks to plan. They
were all amazed at how fiendish Mrs. Wilmot could be.
It was a quiet night on patrol. Buffy and Giles had
wandered through four graveyards without encountering a single vampire, demon,
or necking couple. They decided to take a turn through Weatherly Park before
That was when their luck changed.
A woman, huddled in terror, was being pinned against a
picnic table by a scaly demon. Buffy recognized it immediately as the one who
had zapped her and Giles a few nights before. The beast had its back to them.
Buffy gestured to Giles that he should move left while she took the right flank.
Giles drew a sword silently from its sheath. He nodded to Buffy. She moved
boldly into the creature's line of vision.
"Hey! Scaly!" she called. "Why don't you
pick on someone your own size?"
The demon unfolded to its full height. It stood nearly
seven feet tall. It hissed and extended a claw at Buffy. She rolled swiftly,
barely managing to duck the bolt of magic that spat forth from the beasts' claw.
Before the creature could regroup. Giles had swung his sword in a wide arc. The
blade sliced cleanly through the demon's neck and sent its head tumbling to the
ground. A moment later, the rest of the body followed with a loud thump.
"Huh," Buffy said. "I guess the bigger
they are, the harder they fall."
She and Giles turned their attention to the terrified
woman at the table.
"Are you alright?" Giles asked.
"I - I think so," the woman said. "What
Buffy and Giles looked at one another. At last, Buffy
man. We're rehearsing for a new independent
horror film, called...uh..."
"Sunnydale Swamp Creatures," Giles supplied
with an ingratiating smile.
"Well...we'd better make sure Fred here is
okay," Buffy added. "What with the...stunt and all. We'll take it from
here. You don't have to stay."
The woman backed off slowly, then turned and broke into
a run. As soon as she was gone, Giles turned to Buffy.
"An independent horror film?"
"It wasn't so bad until you came out with that
"Well what did you expect? I thought I did pretty
well for the spur of the moment."
Buffy shook her head.
"You are so out of excuse practice. How are you on
grave digging detail?"
"I beheaded it. I rather think it's your job to
bury the damn thing."
"Hey, I was decoy. That should earn hazard
The pair bickered amicably as they disposed of the
The next couple of months passed in a whirl for Buffy.
Xander and Anya were married successfully, despite the attempt of a demon to
ruin their big day. Giles' treatments continued daily for a week, after which
Tara was taught how to make the poultices and told to administer them once a
week until Giles' eyesight was fully restored. The regimen was so successful
that soon Giles only needed glasses when he was reading. He and Buffy were both
pleased with the result; Buffy because she got to see Giles' eyes more fully
more often, and Giles because, while he appreciated the clear vision
tremendously, he never quite knew what to do with his hands if he didn't have
glasses to use as a prop.
Within a few weeks, Willow and Tara began to date
again. Everyone had high hopes that this time they could make it work.
Mrs. Wilmot returned home, but promised to come back
for Buffy and Giles' wedding. Despite the rocky start they'd all gotten off to,
everyone was sorry to see her go.
Spike showed up sporadically for a few weeks, but once
he was certain Buffy was serious in her refusal to see him, he disappeared.
Rumor had it that he was on his way to Prague and that Drusilla had been sighted
there. Buffy wasn't sure whether to hope Spike found her or not.
Buffy spent a week in abject misery when Giles had to
go back to England to make suitable arrangements for his permanent return to
Sunnydale. Since he was to go back as her Watcher, the Council did all in their
considerable power to speed things along. What ought to have taken several
weeks, was accomplished in one.
When Giles came home, he and Buffy spent a whirlwind
two weeks organizing their wedding. The affair was kept quite small; virtually
Scooby only. The honeymoon destination was kept secret from even the best man -
Xander, and the maid of honor - Willow. The honeymoon suite was prank free.
Quentin Travers sat at his desk going through his
morning mail. He methodically dealt with Council business from all over the
world. One query after another was answered. One dispatch after another read. At
last there was only one piece of mail unopened: a small package from Sunnydale.
Travers wondered what on earth Giles could have sent him.
Remembering his reception the last time he was in
Sunnydale, he considered asking the bomb squad to take a look at it.
At last, he gingerly opened the package himself. Inside
was a smaller box, an envelope, and something wrapped in bright pink tissue. He
decided to start with the box.
Inside that was a small slice of cake, such as might be
served at a wedding. Travers wondered at the meaning. He opened the
Inside that was a small silver picture frame. Inside
the frame was a photograph of the Slayer and her Watcher in formalwear looking
entirely too affectionate.
Travers turned to the envelope, hoping against hope
that it wouldn't be what he thought it was.
It was what he feared.
A wedding announcement for Buffy and Rupert Giles who
had been married a week ago.
A personal note had been added to the bottom of the
Quentin (it read),
We couldn't have done this without you. Thank you for
all your help.
ps: Buffy sends her usual regards.
The color drained from Travers' face. In the entire
history of the Watcher's Council, a Watcher had never openly married his Slayer.
He poured himself a stiff drink.
Buffy lay in bed drawing lazy circles on her husband's
"I wish we could stay here another day or
two," she sighed. "This has been of the blissful."
Giles pressed a light kiss to her forehead.
"I wish we could stay here forever, but we
"I know. Lots of responsibilities to resume. And
I'm ready to resume them. Besides, I start my new job next week, remember?"
"My wife, the aerobics instructor. Are you going
to play that appalling noise you call music for classes?"
"Anyone who actually owns Bay City Roller albums
does not get the right to criticize my taste in music."
"We still have a few hours of honeymoon left. Are
we really going to spend them arguing about music?"
"That or something else...unless you have any
Giles growled and rolled atop Buffy. She shrieked with
Moments later, the room was filled with the sound of