By Gail Christison
TITLE: The Visitor
AUTHOR: Gail Christison
Rating: NC-17 for eventual romantic sexual scenes
Summary: Giles has a visitor at his Bath flat. Angst, revelation, transition...
Timeline: Anytime soon :-)
Disclaimer: All belongs to Mutant Enemy...well the bath is mine, though my tiles are Italian bronze not faux marble <g>
Distribution: OMWF http://www.wickedsky.com/oncemore ; Everyone who already has my permission, anyone else would like it, please ask first. :-)
Feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org Always love to hear what you think
Author's notes: This story began as a writing exercise to get some inspiration back because the season had become so depressing and GilesLESS...and grew into a real live ficcy <g> Big hugs to Liz and Gileswench for their support and encouragement and to Melissa for taking time out from her wonderful epic to take a peek :-) I also want to wave to Dawn M and Kirstin and to just say *thank you* and another hug for Gylzgirl for her inspiration which lead to the tub and the damp PJs <g>
Dedication: To the Giles we love and miss so very much
Giles rose from his leather recliner and put down the
book he'd been trying to read since dinner, the aroma of which still hung
heavily in the air. He supposed that it didn't help that he'd opted for an old
university days' standby: bangers, mash and boiled cabbage…
The knock at his door was the first since one of the
elderly neighbours had called with a pot of Minestrone soup about a week earlier.
One thing that he hadn't had to adjust to in the historical but smart Bath flat,
or townhouse, was visitors.
He reached the door still stretching his back.
Exchanging jogging for tramping had seemed like a good idea, and a little
romantic with it, and it had been…there had been a certain cleansing
associated with his forays across the countryside, into the old, old places, but
the legacy was the reminder that one wasn't twenty-one any more, and the damp
British winter wasn't kind to more mature, and oft-damaged bones.
The still mostly-tawny brown head stooped a little to
look through the keyhole, and froze. The long fingers of one hand splayed
convulsively on the wood of the door and those on the other clenched slowly into
a tight fist. It took him several seconds to find his centre, calm his racing
heart, nerves, and the chaos of his thoughts.
When he thought he was ready, he unlocked the door.
"You locked it," she said softly, looking up
at him with tired, old eyes.
He looked away. His door had always been unlocked…for
one reason, and one reason only.
"Come in," he said hoarsely, and stood aside
to allow her to come in out of the cold air.
"Nice," she said softly. "Nicer than the
"Can I get you…?"
"S-some tea," she filled in, emotion gripping
her entire frame for a moment, then the smile flickering at her lips vanished
again. "Tea would be great. Hot tea, the hotter the better. This is some
cold country you've got here, bud."
"H-have you been here long?" Giles asked with
"Long enough to find this place, drive down here
and find you."
"Drive?" he demanded, startled. "You
"No I don't," she agreed. "Unmixy things,
"I borrowed a driver. The Council and I understand
each other real well these days. We had a nice talk and afterwards they were
happy to buy me a plane ticket and let me have a driver and a car."
Giles closed his eyes for a moment. "You coerced
the council into providing transport simply so that you could visit me?"
"There's no 'simply', here," she replied
sombrely and sat in his chair.
Still not sure what was going on, he finally forced
himself to look her in the face. "I-Is everyone all right? Has something
Buffy's eyes closed, a furrow forming between her brows
as she shook her head. "They're fine. Everyone is fine, a mess, but fine.
That's not what…I don't…" She stopped and then restarted. "You
"Oh. Oh yes, tea. You always preferred Orange
spice. Do you still…?"
A flicker of something that could only be described as
pain, lanced through her eyes. "Whatever," she said flatly. "I
haven't had tea since…not for a very long time. Anything will be fine."
Giles frowned but headed for the small kitchen. It was
beautifully appointed and crafted but he'd have given every copper pot and pan,
every oak panel, to be back in the pokey little Sunnydale apartment with her at
that moment, preferably long before Buffy had died, long before Dawn's arrival
and long before his world had become such a relentlessly unhappy place…
When he returned with the tea she was dozing in the big
leather chair, and didn't stir when he slid the tray onto the coffee table. He
sat on the sofa end nearest her with his mug and watched her for a long time,
aware that jet lag had probably caught up with her.
She had changed, and not for the better. Also,
surprisingly, her hair was shorter, and drawn back into a mature chignon. She
wore a high-necked brown sweater, dark green trews and a long, even darker brown
suede coat, gloves and boots.
She hadn't been as conservative with her appearance
since their trip to the desert. Not only that, but it was obvious that she was
neither relaxed nor at peace. In fact she soon grew restless, and showed signs
of subconscious distress.
Giles reached out and touched her arm. He still wasn't
used to that. He had never felt comfortable with allowing himself even the least
of intimacies with her. He wasn't sure why, when he was more than comfortable
about the occasional casual contact with Xander or Willow. With them it was
easier, familial, but with Buffy it had always been…
Except for that one moment. As the memory of it flooded
back he watched her face. She'd stopped fretting but hadn't woken.
It had been the most wondrous and incredible thing…Buffy
back from the dead. His heart had almost burst with the joy of seeing her again,
looking up at him, almost exactly the same. Almost. Without realising he was
doing it, his fingers moved to brush her cheek.
But she hadn't been the same…there had been no joy,
no spark, no life in those eyes, only pain. He closed his own for a moment, lost
in the memory of that crashing feeling when his joy had been usurped by the
realisation that she was not the same girl he lo…remembered. The furrow in his
brow deepened and his jaw twitched.
In the midst of the rising hurt, warm fingers closed
around his but he was too self-conscious to open his eyes.
"I missed you," her voice said, a world of
emotion in the slightest tremble of each word.
"And I you," he whispered hoarsely. "When
you…died…I thought I would never know joy again." Her fingers tightened
their grip. "And when you came back…"
"I came back wrong," she said sadly. "At
least I thought I did. It hurt…so much…and I felt so dead inside."
He drew a jagged breath and forced himself to look at
her. "I'm sorry. If I had known…"
"I know," she told him, affection making her
eyes bright as they looked into his. "I heard you…with Willow."
"You…?" Giles voice trailed off and he
swallowed, remembering what had been said. "I never meant you to hear any
of that, but I meant what I said, Buffy. I would not have allowed…"
"I know," she repeated, with even more
affection. "I wish you'd been there to stop them. It doesn't matter now,
though. If I've learned anything since you left, it's that I really don't want
to die again. I've kinda learned some other stuff too. Like, I don't like me
very much, right now. It's like every time something bad happens in my life,
which is kind of a lot, I become this evil, horrible Buffy."
He tried to smile, but it was little more than an
emotional lift of the corners of his mouth. "I'm sure it can't have been
that bad. At least not as bad as your rather trying Initiative period," he
teased, light finally reaching his eyes.
Her blue-grey ones rolled up to his. "Thank you
for reminding me that I have been the bitca route before," she retorted
dryly, but without malice. "And yes it could. It could be worse. A lot
His own gaze dropped. "I'm sorry I wasn't there."
"Be glad you weren't," she countered, almost
amused. "You really didn't want to be there for all that. But it might have
been…better…if you were. I wish you had been. Even being stuffy and
disapproving of everything I was doing, it would have been so much better to
have you there, instead of stumbling around on my own proving just how stupid I
"Why are you here?" he whispered, without
"I like it," she teased. "Direct, to the
point, no stammering, no ums."
He did half smile, half chuckle then, but only
fleetingly. "Yes, well…"
The smile faded from her face. "I missed you. I-I
knew you wouldn't come, so…"
His head shot up and he stared at her. "Buffy…I
would do anything for you…except allow you to be less than you are, or could
Buffy held his gaze. "I-I know. But you wouldn't
have come," she reiterated.
"Dawn seems to be worried about you," he
offered, not knowing what else he could say to that.
She shrugged. "There's worry. About me, about
her…all of us."
"Y-yes, you mentioned a…mess?"
"God, where do I start?" she said, more to
herself. "And what has Dawn told you?"
"Not a great deal," he said in an oddly
neutral voice. "She's very obviously been unhappy, though I believe she
thinks it doesn't show in her correspondence. She's vocalised concern about you
on a number of counts, talks about Tara frequently, Xander and Anya
occasionally, and conspicuously does not mention Willow."
Buffy, a shade paler and her expression a little
hunted, swallowed. "What…um…what did she say about me?"
Giles made a dismissive gesture. "It's what she
doesn't say that bothers me more. For a long while she has given the impression
that she is very much alone, unsupervised and that you are preoccupied with
issues which don't include her."
"Well, yeah," Buffy admitted reluctantly.
"It's no secret I suck as a parent, and then Will and Tara broke up and
everything, and I…well, I suck majorly in the Dawn raising department."
"Willow and Tara are no longer together?"
"Well, they weren't, for a long time. Willow kind
of let the magic get control of her, y'know, like she didn't mean to do bad
things…they just kinda happened."
Giles drew in an unhappy breath. "Things will, if
you let magic, or anything else, control your life." He didn't see the look
of misery that momentarily twisted Buffy's features.
"It must be my turn to make the tea, huh?"
she offered, suddenly needing to put some distance between them.
His eyes widened a little in bemused surprise. "If
you like. You know how I have mine."
For a moment Buffy didn't move, then she nodded and
headed for the kitchen, hiding her suddenly overbright gaze from view. Within
minutes she was back, collected and ready to face him again.
They sipped in silence for a few moments before Giles
spoke. "Buffy, is there something you want to tell me?"
She froze, her expression changing several times from
surprise, to terror, to denial, to resignation.
"Yeah, but I'm not really ready yet," she
"Fair enough," he replied, and resumed
sipping his tea.
"I hate when you do that," she muttered into
"That," she said stubbornly. "I'm really
not ready, okay?"
"Fine," he said evenly and picked up one of
the shortbreads she'd brought with the tea.
Buffy banged her cup in its saucer and slopped tea over
the sides before putting the whole thing down with a clatter and getting up to
prowl the room.
Giles knew it was serious, but he knew his Slayer well
enough to know that the less he pushed the more likely it was that she would
rise to the bait and volunteer whatever it was that was worrying her. On the
other hand, if he insisted in the least, she would, in her contrary way, close
up or defy him out of sheer perversity of nature…or possibly as an extreme
defence mechanism. He'd never quite worked that one out.
"We can go out on the common if you feel the need
of some exercise, or a spot of training," he offered easily.
"No," she said quickly. "No, I'm fine,
it's just…I need…" She made a frustrated noise. "Never mind.
Giles, why here? Why not London?"
"I have no fond memories of London," he
mused. "Actually, I already owned this flat, and my roots are here in the
"So this is like…coming home, to you?" she
asked, surprisingly timidly.
He nodded. "Very much so."
"Are you happy?" It was a rushed question,
almost as though she had to get it out before she changed her mind.
That gave him pause. He looked up slowly, then stared
at her for several long moments. "At times," he said finally.
"But on the whole I must honestly say…no."
Giles frowned. "You're unhappy? I thought you had
come to terms with your return?"
Buffy shrugged. "Kinda. But it didn't help
"Do you know why you're still unhappy?"
She stopped prowling again, and nodded unhappily.
"That's why I came. For a long time…ever since I came back, I didn't know
why I was unhappy, dead inside. And then a little while ago I found out."
"Buffy, why didn't you call, talk to me about this
earlier? I wanted you to take responsibility for your life, to learn to be
independent. I never intended for you to be miserable or unhappy."
"Me neither," she repeated whimsically.
"But that's how it was. And my ideas on how to fix it kind of sucked on a
whole 'nother magnitude of suckiness…badness actually. Major badness."
"Which, presumably, is what you're not ready to
tell me about yet?" he guessed.
She twisted her fingers together. "Yeah,
actually," she admitted then started to prowl again. "The thing is, no
matter how I say this you're going to hate me." He started to shake his
head. "YES, you will," she insisted in a tone that brooked no
His heart dropped. "Buffy, you didn't kill
"Of course not," she shot back, irritated.
"Well, I thought I did for a while, but that wasn't my fault…"
Giles raised an almost dazed eyebrow.
She shook her head. "It's not important."
After a moment's silence she explained quietly: "I…um…I was seeing
"Oh? Someone I know?" he asked, barely over
the possibility that Buffy had killed someone, and trying too hard to hide the
turmoil those last words instantly invoked in him.
Again Buffy looked wretched. "Um, well, yeah.
That's sorta the problem."
Possibilities trampled through Giles' thoughts. Angel.
Or Riley was back. Or Buffy had poached Xander from Anya and was in peril of a
vengeance spell. Or for some unfathomable reason she'd become involved with that
Parker creature again. He sighed heavily. None of those choices were healthy and
all fraught with the possibility of heartache at a time when she could least
deal with the inevitable upheaval…
"Best you tell me and get it over with," he
said kindly. "I was there through all of your romantic, um, travails,
"Not this one," she said darkly, and looked
like she might actually flee.
"Buffy?" Giles went from concern to surprise
when she burst into silent tears and began to tremble. "Buffy?"
She shook her head. "I can't. You'll hate me. I'm
dirty and horrible and you can't like me; you won't even want to look at me when
you know what I've done!" she cried, and fled toward the front door.
Giles shot up after her but wasn't quick enough to stop
her. He stopped as the door slammed in his face, unwilling to pursue her in her
current state, frustrated, but confident that she would come to no harm.
He turned slowly to go back to his chair, firmly
repressing a distinct urge to find that single malt he'd unearthed when packing
in Sunnydale all those months ago.
By the time Buffy returned, several hours later, he'd
been through six cups of tea and enough deductive reasoning to have made an
educated, but accurate guess as to who, or what, her latest suitor might be.
She came through the unlocked door wordlessly and sat
on his sofa. It was obvious that she'd been running, and, judging by the smudges
and the slight breathlessness, possibly leaping and fighting as well, though
he'd not heard or seen any vampire or demon activity in the area since his
"Why?" Giles asked simply, after a long,
almost communing silence.
She stared at the floor. "He said I came back
wrong. He said I was alone. He said nobody loved me except him…nobody else
could love me the way I am. And after…he said they wouldn't want to be my
friends if they knew…"
Silence hung heavily for long moments before Buffy
"I'll go now," she whispered, and started to
Giles put out a hand to catch her arm, but did not look
"I'm sorry," she whispered.
"Why?" he repeated.
Despite her best efforts a sob wrenched out of her.
"Because it hurt…because when it comes right down to it, I can deal with
digging myself out of a box in the ground. I-I can deal with no mom, monsters
and vampires and no money and getting jobs and double-meat burgers and fixing
the stupid plumbing," she rambled, her voice getting more and more
emotional and histrionic. "I can even deal with my best friend being an
addict and almost killing my sister, and Dawn working damned hard at becoming a
delinquent. God, I can even deal, badly, but deal, with stupid social workers
who want to take her away from me!"
Buffy pulled away from him, walked a few steps and
wheeled before speaking in a desolate voice. "What I can't deal with is the
emptiness. And he…he filled that, in a horrible, dirty, twisted kind of
way." She looked at once wretched and forlorn. "For those times at
least, I wasn't…I wasn't alone."
Giles closed his eyes for a long moment then stood up
and faced her.
"You weren't alone. You have Xander and Willow,
Tara and Dawn…" he said, almost as if trying to convince himself as much
She stared at him silently for a long time then looked
away. "No, I don't," she said finally, harshly. "This isn't high
school any more, Toto. This is the real world. No mom. No Scooby gang, because,
hello, crappy lives of their own…n-no library to go to when it gets too hard or
someone tells you: guess what, babe? You're not human. You came back wrong.
Nobody wants you. And even before that, when everything was gone except for
the one thing that's kept me sane for the last five years?" She looked up
accusingly. "Then it up and left me too."
Giles stared back at her. How could things have come
to this? How could she have done such a thing to herself? How could he, how
could any of them, have let it happen?
Rage warred with grief, disgust, and misery as he
stared into her eyes. Eyes that held a hurt so deep, it was as if her soul
itself was scarred. His chest tightened.
Perhaps it was…
The staring would have continued perhaps indefinitely,
or until the mutual rage, the hurt, burned themselves down to embers.
Instead, Buffy spoke flatly. "Are you going to
throw me out, or should I just go?" she asked, expecting nothing more, but
relieved that it was done, that he knew, and that they'd had this little time
together, at least.
Giles opened his mouth to speak, but no words came. He
seemed so still, but there was the slightest tremor as he fought for control.
Buffy's eyes widened in fear. She'd never seen him like
that before…like…like he was going to explode, as he had in the library when
Xander had provoked him about the death of Jenny Calendar, and with an intensity
that would have made that nuke look like a popped balloon. Fear turned to
terror. Her fists closed and she started to back away, not because of any fear
that he might hurt her…that was someone else's speciality…but simply to
escape the pain of his disappointment, his disgust. She was on the verge of
fleeing again when she was halted by a word, a tortured whisper.
It took an age for her to turn her head and raise her
eyes to meet his and yet only a nanosecond for them to come together. And then
he was holding her so tightly that if she hadn't been the Slayer she'd have been
crushed against him, and she was returning the embrace so desperately and yet
with such love that she actually managed not to crush any ribs. The reunion
continued in ferocious silence until neither of them could remember how long it
It was Buffy, lifting her head at last from its hot and
damp hollow in his shirtfront, who finally chased away the illusion of peace and
allowed reality to rush back in.
Giles started to draw his arms away but hesitated when
Buffy made a small sound and looked up at him.
"Not yet," she said softly and leaned against
him again, finding a dry spot for her cheek as he willingly closed his arms
around her again, and minutes later, when she'd shown no sign of letting go,
slid an arm beneath her legs and carried her to the sofa.
"Now?" he said whimsically when she finally
lifted her head again, surprised when his gentle face and tender expression
caused her eyes to fill again.
"Now," she said, and smiled a very watery
half smile. "I missed you so much."
Giles touched a damp cheek. "Not nearly as much as
I have missed you. Remember that device I told you about? The one you talk
Buffy failed to stop an equally watery giggle. "I
know. But I was so angry with you. I wanted you to call first."
"I did," he said softly.
"Then how come I didn't…?"
"You were never home…or not taking calls. And
much as I enjoy a chat with Tara or Willow or a conversation with your sister,
it wasn't quite the same thing at all," he told her in a not-quite-rock
steady voice. "You told Dawn you didn't want to know, remember?"
Buffy's eyes widened in alarm. "She told you that?
But it was right after you left. I was going crazy. I hated you so much for
leaving me. I didn't mean it though." She shrugged. "I guess they all
took me literally."
"So it would seem," he sighed.
She rested her brow against the base of his throat.
"Now that we cleared that up…when exactly did we get all tactile? Not
that I h-have a problem with…you know," she stammered, "but I'm not
really clear how we got from Giles-enter-my-personal-space-at-your-own-peril to,
well, after I came back and…now."
He sighed and kissed the top of the fair head.
"You died," he said succinctly.
"I had to die for you to love me?" she
squeaked, only realising the breadth of what she'd said, far too late.
After a moment's silence, gentle fingers turned her
face to look at him again. "I have always loved you. You have been the
centre of my world since the day you faced me in the library and baldly told me
what I could do with my Vampyr text."
"I did not," she said shakily.
He chuckled. "Well, all right, but the intent was
"Got that right," she muttered.
"Indeed," he sighed.
Despite her pleased, pleasantly flushed face, she
frowned suddenly. "But…if you've always loved me…wouldn't that have
been kinda gross…back then?"
Giles coloured a little but laughed anyway. "Oh,
no. It wasn't that kind of love. Not…well, anyway, there was Jenny…a-and you
were a child. An annoying, infuriating, child…"
"Okay, word picture complete," she
complained. "Me…brat. Can we move on? There was Jenny and you're not
creepy. Got it."
"I don't know why you thought you came back
wrong," he growled, piqued. "You haven't changed a bit."
Somehow, after all the heartache, all the tension, his
grumpy, Giles-like observation was far too much.
Buffy started to laugh first, or giggle, more like it,
until the giggle became full blown laughter and Giles found himself chuckling
with her. The release was almost palpable.
They were still laughing when she lifted her head to
look at him, and he looked down at her at almost the same moment, so that they
were but millimetres from each other's mouths.
At that point, somehow reality checked out. It was as
though the child she had once been suddenly faded to insignificance, a distant,
passing recollection, no longer related to the now. Every part of the woman
Buffy was suddenly came to life and focused on the man whose breath was
caressing her face.
As inconceivable as it had been moments earlier, all
she wanted now was for that beautifully sculptured mouth to touch hers.
The moment hung in the air forever, neither of them
knowing the tumult of emotions rocking the other. Later they would argue about
who moved first, but for that moment: the instant that their lips touched, it
was as though they had come home.
Buffy lost herself in the sweet sensuality of it, the
way his mouth could be so powerful, yet gentle, the way he could make her feel
alive without feeling dirty. She closed her eyes against hurt of those memories
as the kiss deepened, her arms closing around his neck as he moved from the
tenderness of their first kiss, to a kind of love making as it deepened into
something else altogether. She could feel the wellspring of love from which his
passion came, and grieved for the chasm between it and what she had been willing
to settle for back in Sunnydale. When they eventually surfaced from the kiss,
flushed and cautious, to search each other's faces, Buffy couldn't help the
light in her eyes.
"Not even an: 'Oh, dear lord'?" she teased,
her voice thick with emotion.
"Oh…dear lord," he obliged
throatily, barely above a whisper.
She touched his jaw with loving fingers. "You
deserve way better than me."
His stunned face creased into an amused smile. "We
rarely get what we deserve," he told her whimsically, his voice still
breaking up. "But sometimes, just sometimes, we get what we want."
She stopped to contemplate that for a moment and grew
tearful again, much to Giles' surprise.
"I'm such an idiot," she told him. His grin
and the twinkle in his eyes told her she'd get no argument there. "I feel
like there's so much I need to say I'm sorry for…why I didn't I ever 'get'
anything? Was I that blonde?"
Giles laughed, not endearing himself to his companion.
"Well, you must admit you've had your moments. I don't think I have to tell
you where your thoughts were during the majority of your adolescence. Although,
on the whole it was probably healthier that you weren't spending a lot of it
thinking about me."
Buffy sighed a long, heavy sigh. "See, that's the
thing. All I ever wanted was to not be alone. Even when mom and dad were
together they were fighting, at least in the years I remember most clearly. Then
Sunnydale: Willow and Xander were great …are… great …but at the end
of the day, Buffy went home alone. Mom didn't know what I was doing for years;
Willow had Oz and Xand' couldn't decide if he wanted Cordy or Willow; you were
busy being research and 'how stuffy shall I be today?' guy. I guess I did have
Mister Gordo, but you know, much as I love him, Mister Gordo is way overrated in
the not being alone stakes."
"So you fell in love with Angel?"
She rolled her eyes. "I did, didn't I? Don't get
me wrong; it was real, while it lasted. Too real for a while there, when it got
bad. There are times when I still miss him."
It was Giles' turn to sigh heavily. "I'm not sure
you've ever really gotten over him, to be honest."
Buffy sat up straight. "You think
the…thing…with Spike was a substitute for Angel? Eieww. And no. Giles, I'm
not a kid anymore and I don't have vamp issues. The only thing that hasn't
changed is the alone part. I didn't love Angel for the pointy teeth and bumps.
And I didn't love Spike, period. I didn't love me either, during my time with
him. I became something horrible and dirty and powerless while I was with Spike.
I can't explain why I didn't stop, or why I let him do all those things to me.
It wasn't even like I was there, emotionally."
Giles watched her agitation with the dawning
realisation that she meant what she was saying, and with nausea at the
revelation of the extent of her intimate relations with that sodding vampire.
"Not…there?" he asked weakly.
Buffy nodded. "It was like…I guess it was kind
of like being Faith. She always said the slaying made her feel horny and hungry.
She was right. I-I just never…I wouldn't let… anyway, Spike was like my
Xander, you know?"
Giles nodded. "Are you saying that just as Faith
abused Xander, you abused Spike?"
She shrugged. "Kind of. It's creepy that I can
remember how much I w…um…" Buffy reddened violently.
"Go on," he said quietly.
"…How much I wanted him at times…usually at
the worst times, when I thought I was dirt and that I was never going to be
anything but dirt…Alone dirt. Creepy, because I have no memory of wanting him
to love me, or hold me or even really to touch me. Stupid, I know. It's like I
just gave in to the First Slayer, to those drives, because they were the only
things left that I could feel. And the rage…it was so violent…"
"Oh, Buffy." The despairing words were wrung
from him. "I never meant for you to suffer. I left you because I loved you,
loved you more than life, and I couldn't bear to see you give up, couldn't bear
to see you stay a child for the rest of your life." He looked at her
frankly, his whole heart in his eyes. "The truth is I need you to grow
up…so very badly."
Moved, she fought for control of her emotions before
speaking again. "I thought you gave up on me. I thought you were
disappointed in me again, that you didn't want to be with me because I was
'wrong' and horrible. I hated you so much for leaving me."
"I had to go," he whispered. "I couldn't
stay any longer and pretend to be your 'mother' or even your rakish uncle. It
was unbearable wanting so badly to be with you, now that I had you back, and
knowing that if I stayed I never could…"
She frowned for a moment, sorting that out.
"Because I'd never see you as anything but the tweedy old guy with the
He snorted. "I was never…" he began
indignantly, then realised he didn't really have anywhere to go from there.
"Never mind," he said grumpily.
"You had a point," she admitted. "God,
Giles, I'm only twenty one years old, but…" She trailed off, then
continued: "…which by the way, you didn't even send a card. And don't
think you've gotten out of that one, either. Talk. Later." She told him
pointedly. "Anyway, I feel like a hundred and three, and I've died so many
times now I don't think age counts anymore anyway, but I was just a kid back
then. I didn't want to see what was right in front of me. I didn't want to love
you. In a way you-the Council-were a part of the badness. How could I want you
when I was trying so hard to get away from it? To have a normal life, like every
other kid, to be every other kid?"
"Yes, with the adolescent hormone brigade in tow.
I remember. And, of course, the obsession with Angel. Whereas I was, and still
am, old and tweedy and worn out in your eyes," he observed unhappily as she
got to her feet. "This isn't right."
"Oh great," she drawled. "Now he starts
developing the galloping conscience."
He glared up at her. "Well is it?" he
demanded almost angrily.
She thought about her answer for a long moment.
"One," she said finally, "you're not tweedy anymore, nor are you
worn out, and old is a relative term. Besides, I way prefer your kind of warm,
breathing 'old', to certain other kinds of old. Two, if I even remotely
thought it was wrong, I'd have run screaming into the night by now. Have you
forgotten already? There was mutual kissage-with you: Mister Sexy Old
Guy, remember? Operative word: mutual. And last, but not least…"
She leaned down and caught his sensuous mouth with hers
before lifting her head again. "That growing up you were talking about?
He blinked. "And you are not…'wigged' by any of
She giggled as she sat next to him. "Oh, seriously
wigged. You have no idea. And that word is so out, you can't begin to know
how far out." In the next moment, she sobered. "All these years I was
so terrified of losing you. I knew I couldn't do it without you, and I made sure
to tell you that as often as possible. What I didn't realise was why I
couldn't live without you."
She traced his jaw. "I was way too young to get
it. I thought that love, that intense need I had for you to be around,
was because you were, y'know, you. You were there for me, my friend, my safety
net…my Watcherguy. And you were. I'm not supposed to be in love with my
Watcher. I'm not supposed to want someone like you…but where did it ever say
that the Slayer was supposed to want a vampire? And Riley was a mistake…he
thought he was competing with Angel. Poor guy…I don't think it ever occurred
to him that Angel was never his real problem." Her gaze found his.
"What neither of us knew was that he was competing against someone much
more real, and he never really had a chance."
His eyes had been gradually lighting up, but now they
were beaming, and glistening.
"I'm dreaming," he said softly. "I
haven't woken up yet and I'm dreaming impossible, tormenting, dreams."
Buffy smiled brilliantly and pulled several hairs at
the base of his throat. "Yeah, you're asleep," she teased when he
inevitably made an 'ouch' noise. "Besides, you're only getting me. I'm not
a new model. I'm not even reconditioned properly…even Spike's chip doesn't
recognise that I'm me. And I've been used and abused more than most
second-hand…twelfth-hand…cars, even. It's no sweet dream."
"It is to me," he said softly. "You're
not exactly looking at this year's model, yourself."
Buffy made a disparaging noise and looked into his
eyes. "You're sure you want to do this? I wasn't kidding about the wear and
tear. Or the fact that you deserve way better than me."
Giles shook his head. "Don't do that to yourself.
Someday I will tell you in detail about my youth. Sufficed to say that whatever
you think you've done with Spike, I've probably done far worse, thrice over, in
my hellion days."
She giggled. "You had hellion days? I mean,
He looked rueful. "In addition to Eyghon," he
qualified. "I had a lot of rebelling to do, a lot of rage and defiance for
which to find outlets. I was, um, stupid, to frame it in a word," he
Buffy sighed. "It's scary how alike we
are…were…are." She frowned. "Are," she decided.
His amused eyes gave her a dry once over then glanced
down at himself. "So terribly alike," he said ruefully. "Peas in
She snorted. "You know what I mean. This isn't
exactly easy for me either, buster. You could cut me a little slack here."
Giles sobered and cupped her right cheek with a large
hand. "It's all right," he said reassuringly.
"Whatever…we…that is, if you truly want us to be…" He stopped,
too self-conscious to finish his thought.
"See," she teased. "Why can't it just be
man…woman…I've got a thing, you've got a thing…do you like Mexican?"
He sighed, but there was laughter and affection in his
eyes as he remembered the last time they'd bantered those same words.
"I have got a thing," he said seriously.
"The question is, whether you have a thing too, and whether Mexican will
ever be enough for you? You may decided you want spring lamb, or yearling
"Mexican is more than enough," she said,
cutting him off. "It's all I've wanted for a long time, even when I didn't
know I did. Now I want it for breakfast, lunch and dinner and I really, really
don't want to leave without it. Do you want another drink?"
"God, yes," he said without thinking then
blinked. "Oh…tea? No thanks. I'm going to be up half the night going to
the bathroom as it is."
Buffy rolled her eyes. "Two great mind pictures.
Go the romance, Giles."
But before she had finished the 's' in Giles, he'd
swept her back against him again and was kissing her hard. There was a great
deal more give and take, demanding and submitting involved in their lovemaking
this time. It might have only been another kiss, but when Giles finally let her
go, Buffy felt as though she'd been making love for hours.
"Romance enough for you?" he asked roughly as
she drew herself up straight.
"Um," she said shakily, aware that her lips
still resonated with the impression of his. "That would h-have to be a yes.
Where did you learn to do that?"
He stared for a moment, until he got it. "Oh,
"Don't tell me…you're a natural?" she
drawled, relaxing again.
Giles went red, his gaze focused on his empty teacup.
It was her turn to stare. She had seen him a thousand
times, and yet she'd never noticed before…how cute he was when he blushed, how
handsome the bent head was. She'd never thought of Giles as handsome, but with
his hair less formal, no glasses and that gold band in his left ear, he was
indeed rakish and incredibly good looking for his age.
She said so and made him snort.
"So I'm lucky that I look presentable, at my
age?" he asked. "If were less…aesthetically pleasing…would you
have still kissed me?"
She looked him in the eye. "Probably not,"
she admitted. His eyes widened in alarm. "Easy, big guy," she
admonished when she saw the shock. "I was just being honest. It's new for
me, okay? As long as you were still you, I'd love you no matter what you look
like, but kissing a seriously aesthetically challenged, older-guy type moosh is
not big on the Buffy to-do list. What are you being so paranoid about? Have I
uttered even one tiny 'eiww' since I've been here?"
"Not this time," he said darkly, annoyed that
they'd managed to stray so far from one of the most important issues in both
their lives. "But many, many times before. You have been a singularly
unsympathetic ally at times, these past few years," he pointed out.
Once again Buffy, being Buffy, stopped to sort through
that. "I never meant to be. There was just…not enough of me…to cope
with everything, the badness, the slaying, and deal with the regular stuff too.
Of all of them, I thought you'd still be there even if I gave all my time to the
other disasters that were my life. The taking for granted thing…I guess it
really sucked, huh?"
Giles looked away, unable to joke about that part.
"More than you can possibly know," he said quietly.
She blinked away a sheen of moisture, shaken by the
depth of hurt in those words. To try to make amends with more words seemed
shallow and trite. Instead she rose and took his hand.
"Come on, show me the rest of your wonderful
abode?" she cajoled.
Dazed, Giles allowed her to lead him to the stairs.
They climbed together. This time there was no loft. The stairs led to a small
hallway, and the doors to the two bedrooms in the flat. The rich, very dark red
of the carpet was complimented by the rich dark sheen of the small mahogany hall
table against one wall. One of Giles' lamps from the Sunnydale apartment graced
The smaller room was decorated in light, feminine
colours and was full of crates still waiting to be unpacked. Giles closed the
door again quickly.
The other didn't disappoint. Buffy took in the entire
room, from the very old, classically patterned carpet in very male shades of
brown, to the equally old, dark furniture she knew was as much a part of the
place as the ancient beech trees out the front. A door on the other side of the
room was open, showing old-fashioned white bathroom tiles, immaculately clean.
"Wow, Giles, Merchant Ivory, much?"
"Funny, I feel distinctly not Anthony
Hopkins," he drawled back with an edge of annoyance in his voice.
"S'okay because I don't feel very Emma Thompson
either," she returned, amused, and then looked at the room again, at the
huge patchwork quilt that was obviously an heirloom she'd never seen before.
"It's kind of gorgeous. Your apartment in Sunnydale never felt
"Real?" he filled in.
Buffy shook her head. "As lived in, as much of a
home as this one. It's like you belong here, Giles. Which could be a little
scary, if I didn't know you so well. All this dark furniture…must be homey,
just like the library."
"Very funny," he said softly, and went over
to pick up a handkerchief that had fallen on the floor by the bed.
Buffy found herself watching him bend over, and blinked
inwardly at her own thoughts. She was actually looking to see what his butt was
like. She swallowed. Well, it followed, didn't it? Lips, hands, and of course,
butt. When the jeans pulled tight across his kidneys and over his rear Buffy
drew a swift, but soft breath. There was nothing 'old guy' about that derriere.
A moment later and he was straightening to find Buffy
staring with fixed interest at his green lampshade, her face flushed and her
"Buffy? Are you sickening for a cold?"
"N-not a cold," she muttered, then gathered
herself and turned to face him. It hurt almost physically to see the concern in
the gentle face she'd missed so much.
"No? Pain? Flu?"
She almost smiled. "You sound like a commercial
for cough syrup."
Giles put a large hand on her brow, surprising her. It
was warm and solid and remained long enough for him to gauge that there was
definitely no fever. When he lifted it she almost missed its presence. To drag
her thoughts from the desire to fling herself into his arms and kiss him again,
she moved to study the quilt, to touch the squares.
"It's beautiful," she said. "So much
work. Someone must have really liked sewing."
"She did," Giles said softly, in a voice that
was at once amused, tender, and melancholy.
Buffy turned and raised a questioning brow.
"My mother," he confided. "It was a
passion of hers. She just wanted to do it once."
"It must have taken a long time," Buffy
mused, running a finger along a seam.
"Forever," he agreed, smiling to himself, his
eyes somewhere very distant. "She danced in the herb garden when it was
done. She never wanted to see another square, another thread, ever again. She
took up painting after that."
Buffy watched him chuckle to himself, despite the
growing sadness in his eyes and wondered if he realised how big a window to his
soul he'd opened for that one moment. "You miss her a lot?"
He didn't look at her. "I did. Terribly. For a
long time. Now I simply wish I could spend some time with her." The smile
widened. "She was the most marvellous listener and she had the most
blinding ability to know exactly what to say to help…" He stopped, as
though he'd suddenly realised that he'd slipped into another accent, another
time, another place.
Silently, as though she knew, Buffy moved to him and
slid her arms around his waist. It was an action she knew was inconceivable even
just hours ago, and yet now it felt like the most natural thing in the world.
She felt his move around her as she rested her cheek against his shirt.
"If I hadn't lost her…" he said, almost
Buffy could feel the slightest shake of his head above
hers. She tightened her arms around him and felt his reciprocating squeeze. This
was one area where she had just as much experience as he did.
"H-how old were you?"
He made a noise in his throat. Buffy didn't know if he
was clearing it, or shifting a knot of tears. "Seventeen," he managed.
"Ripper?" she said automatically to his shirt
"God, no. You couldn't have gotten a more boring,
more studious public school child than I at that age."
"But you…the candy…"
"Forget that rubbish. It was a malicious spell,
not a historical re-enactment of my youth."
"Then when?" she asked.
"After she died. After I lost her, nothing was
ever the same. Nothing."
Buffy wondered if he would regret opening up to her
like this, but the chance to know him, to understand him better, drew her
magnetically. "You rebelled," she guessed.
"Not exactly," he said after a short silence.
"I persevered, as angrily as possible it must be said, with the destiny
that was chosen for me until I was firmly entrenched at Oxford."
His voice was growing more reluctant, his tone less
patient. Buffy knew that the window was closing.
"You told me about Oxford…a-at least the part
before you ran away. Was Ethan there too?"
Giles barked a laugh. "Lord, no. Ethan found me in
a squat after I ran away. He needed money and I was an easy mark…green as
grass." He frowned, straightened and let her go.
"I didn't ask you what you did with your
driver," he said unexpectedly.
It took Buffy a moment to collect her woolly thoughts,
and to realize that he'd effectively slammed that window shut. "Oh…her.
She went back to London. They said to call them when I was ready to leave."
"What will you do?" he asked, moving toward
Buffy followed, missing his arms around her already and
wondering why he felt the need to get out of there.
"Probably stay here tonight."
He half turned. "But you don't have any
"Yeah, I do, in my hotel room…at this really
classy old place not too far from here called 'Ravenscroft'. Cool name, huh?
It's nice there, even if the Council did choose it, but there is also where you aren't.
If you've got a spare toothbrush, a hairbrush, a towel and an old shirt I can
borrow, I'll be fine right here," she said in her perkiest Buffy voice as
she followed him back down stairs. "See, nice couch. No problem."
"Stay here?" He seemed shocked by the notion.
"Here," she confirmed. "I didn't come
all the way to England to discover the delights of Bath…" She paused, and
her eyes danced a little. "Well, maybe a bath, and at this point
maybe even with you if you play your cards right, but you know what I
He cleared his throat. "Y-yes, well, I do have
a…um…a-a tub, a rather large one actually, but I've not bothered…" He
cleared his throat again. "I mean, you're welcome to stay, of course, it's
just that you've never…we've just…"
Buffy made an effort not to smile any more at his
discomfort and found herself sobering as the thought of leaving returned to
appal her even more. "Giles, it's been so long…I don't want to be away
from you right now. That's all. I-is that okay?" she asked him quietly.
He seemed to get very still then, the tension receding
and the discomfiture falling away like a mask.
"Of course it's all right," he said softly.
"More than all right. I only wish I had a decent bed to offer you-" At
the look on her face he turned bright red again which only made her love him
"Not an issue," she reassured him, "I
don't think either of us are going to be sleeping any time soon," and
turned even redder than he was, when she realised what she'd said. "Um, I
mean, we've got a lot of discussing to do…talking…you know, my badness, you
telling me how bad I am…like that…awake stuff…not…not of the sleeping
His mouth had been trying to pull into a smile the
whole time she stammered, and when she came to a grinding halt, it finally did.
"Don't worry," he said softly, "despite
my reputation I am not about to interpret everything you say as an invitation to
bed you out of hand."
Buffy was so shocked her mouth opened slightly while
she was staring at him.
It was plain that he'd enjoyed shocking her both about
his old reputation and his bedding her out of hand, and just as plain that he
was surprised to see a flicker of disappointment in her eyes after he'd spoken.
"You're not really Giles…are you?" she
stammered. "I mean…the hair, the earring, and s-stuff…not Gilesy
things. A-and the kisses…Giles-my Giles-would have a cow. Who are you?"
Giles tilted his head to one side. "Does it
surprise you so comprehensively that I am willing to treat you like a woman,
when you finally start to act even a little like one?"
"That would be a yes," she managed, just.
"It shouldn't," he told her. "And just
because I let myself be dragged into the illusion you three had of me in
Sunnydale and found myself growing old before my time, doesn't mean I am…old,
I mean. I'm forty bloody seven. Not sixty. This is who I am. This is how my
friends, how Olivia, even Ethan, know me. The Council might have required that I
wore tweed back then, but only Sunnydale…and you, could have turned me into an
old fool before my time."
Buffy leaned forward a little, her hurt at his previous
words subsiding as her curiosity got the better of her. "That's why you've
had your left ear pierced for as long as I can remember? I know I first noticed
it when you saved me from Amy's mom but so much happened, I forgot about it.
That's also why you're so different with Ethan? The record collection, the
singing…that was all really you, but the librarian, the tweedy guy, that
wasn't really you, was it?"
"You're starting to get it," he told her.
"But they were both me, Buffy. I had to make myself fit in at the high
school, had to be what you needed me to be, but it was so mind-bogglingly alien,
that I found it difficult to do anything else but act the part, and rather
badly, if I might say so. The harder I tried to really be purely a school
teacher and a scholar and to repress the rest of me, the more mistakes I
"The more you stammered and ran out of words and
went to make tea," she guessed fondly.
"And the cuteness of not knowing how to ask Miss
His face glowed. "Jenny was a rather…forceful
individual, and an American…and here was I with-"
"With only a tweed suit and musty books to impress
her with," Buffy filled in. "Being terminally old fashioned to her
modern computer gal technomag-i-ness wouldn't have helped much, but still…I
mean, you couldn't ask her out on a simple date when you can kiss like
"Yes, well, it's one thing to know how the other
person feels and another all together to not know, and be terrified of being
turned down because, despite the man you really are inside, you also know that
at the time you're presenting to the world at large, and her in particular, as
an utter prat."
Buffy's smile faded. "Hey, you were never a prat.
You're the guy who reached God status within just a couple of weeks of being my
Watcher, when you saved me from 'Catherine The Great' Madison," she
shuddered. "And then you were going to die for me to stop that prophecy.
Prat-like-ness never came into it. Stuffy definitely. But definitely no prats.
What the heck is a prat, anyway?"
"A fool," he said softly. "An utter
"Then your prat is the wrong gender," she
pointed out, "because there was only one real fool and you weren't it.
Trust me on this. My whole life since Merrick appeared has been one long rush
either toward death…or monumental stupidity. The spirit guide was right about
that part. I don't know anything else except death, and there's the monumental
stupidity. Giles, I don't remember one day of being truly happy. It's so stupid.
Most people have a day…a special day…"
"The Prom," Giles prompted, pleased that she
didn't remember him as the twit he was sure they all saw him as during so much
of those early high school years.
Buffy's eyes lit up both with amusement and regret.
"Nope. All pain," she dismissed.
"But…the class remembered you, and you danced
"Those were nice things all right, but all I
remember was pain…and you asking me if I wanted ice cream…and hellhounds
having stinky breath. Most of all I remember your face when I finally made it to
the dance. Was the dance, or Wes, so bad, that anything else was an
improvement?" she teased. "You looked like you won the lottery."
"And you looked…breathtaking," he
remembered, "the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen. And more importantly,
Buffy was enchanted, but her tone was dry. "I was
breathtaking and you still didn't dance with me?"
He looked distant and a little bleak. "I planned
to, even sidetracked Wyndham-Pryce for the purpose, but the moment was
Buffy frowned for a moment then looked at him with
genuine sorrow. "Angel. Crap. You and vampires, Giles…Seems like they're
just there to mess things up for you every time...and usually because of
"I rather thought they 'messed things up' on
somewhat of a regular basis for you too," he pointed out, touched that
after all this time she would finally understand what it cost him that day to
hand her to that particular vampire for that particular last dance.
"Were we still at the 'you're so a child' stage by
then, or had things already changed?" she asked perceptively.
He took a moment to answer. "It should never have
been, but the moment you walked into that room, I knew. It was as though I had
been waiting for you to grow up…waiting for you all my life. I'd loved you
fiercely for such a long time, but somehow, despite your early penchant for
training in attire more appropriate to street-walkers than high school students
or Slayers, I wouldn't let myself see you, or any of the others, as anything but
children. Not until that moment."
"Wow. You're some guy, Rupert."
His eyes flashed and a smile did peek through at the
use of his given name.
"It's true. You're something else. I never once
remember you copping a feel, even accidentally, in training, or catching you
peeking for too long. You were always Mister stuffy, shy, stammer guy,
"Yes," he said dryly, not sure if he was
being complimented or not. "And now we both know one of the reasons why,
though of course not the only one. There was the small matter of Council
enforced career and character changes contributing to my everlasting
discomfiture and the endless amusement of you three."
"You know I actually understood that,"
she teased. "For a couple of people who've never been able to string
together two lines of conversation with each other, we're doing pretty good now.
Even though a person would swear one or both of us is stalling, we really are
doing a great job…for us."
Buffy walked up to him and slid her hands up his chest
to touch his cheeks. "Stalling," she confirmed, and drew his head down
gently to give her mouth to his.
The kiss was hungry, seeking and both of them were
ravenous, but it was Giles, eventually, who paused, breathing heavily.
"We…we need time," he managed.
"For what?" she breathed back. "Don't
tell me you've decided Mexican isn't mature enough for you after all?"
"Bugger the food metaphors," he said almost
harshly. "Of course I want you, Buffy. I've loved you for so long now, how
could I not? But it's too fast. Especially you. Buffy, you were still looking at
me as though I was your mother just months ago…"
"No," she objected vehemently, then subsided
a little. "No, I said it felt like when mom was there. Safe. Not parental.
I didn't want you to read me a story or buy me a kitten. You just made me feel
safe, and loved…taken care of, besides I was kind of an emotional vegetable,
not to mention pathetically needy back then. And you know me. I never say
anything right. I have verbal dyslexia," she decided, trying to lighten
things up. "That's what it is. Wait, that is a thing, right?"
"I have no idea," Giles said, dazed, and
trying not to think about the persisting discomfort in his nether regions.
"So what does 'ewww' mean in your peculiar vocabulary?" he added
Buffy's shoulders drooped. "It means: if I think
about this too much I'll have to face the way I feel about him and then losing
him will be so much harder. Much better to think of him as the old guy, parent
like, destined to leave me eventually anyway, or vice-versa."
"And did it work?" he asked resignedly,
suddenly no longer having the 'cramping' problem.
She shook her head slowly. "When I thought the
Fyarl demon had killed you, it was every bit as bad as it could be. I could
hardly talk, couldn't think…it was like I was catatonic, almost. I was a total
wreck. I mean, think about it…I tried to kill you with a letter opener. I was
a moron. Lassie could have figured it out faster than me."
"Then I at least had that," he said softly.
"What? Oh. I said: I wish Lassie had been there,
then," he improvised, winced at the result and then glared when she rolled
her eyes. "At least she wouldn't have listened to Ethan or used the bloody
"So I'm dumber than a dog now?"
"I didn't say…you're the one who brought up
sodding Lassie. I will simply never understand why you were trying to kill the
only lead you had as to where I was. Why on earth would you ever want to listen
to Ethan bloody Rayne, for God's sake?"
"You can talk! You got drunk with him," she
shot back sullenly. "And I told you why. I thought you were dead. I thought
my world had collapsed in on itself."
"Your wha...?" Giles gaped at her. "Your
world," he growled. "You didn't even bloody know I was alive.
You had the Nancy Ninja boy and Walsh and everything you wanted. How the hell
did you even notice I was gone?"
It was Buffy's turn to gape. Yelling, except at Ethan
or Travers, was not a Giles thing. Something niggled at the back of her
thoughts. Except for…except for when he thought she was going to die and he
wanted to give them Dawn instead…
She closed her eyes. He wanted to sacrifice Dawn,
because they had to sacrifice someone, but he knew if they saved Dawn, there was
only one other…he knew, even then…Of course he knew! God, could she be any
She looked up at him. "I hurt you more than I ever
have, that year, didn't I?"
The flash died in his eyes and after a beat he looked
down and shook his head. "It's done with, past history…"
"No, it's us. And it's now," she insisted
tremulously. "I can't make it right, any more than I can make The Prom or
Jenny or Angelus, or running away…or any of the bad things right, no matter
how much I want to. There's no way. There's so much…"
He raised a hand, then stepped toward her and touched
her troubled face. "None of it matters anymore," he said very softly.
"Only one thing matters now."
Her eyes lifted to meet his and their gazes held for a
long time. "Maybe, but there's so much. Don't you get it? The times I hurt
you the most…think about it: I come to you when I'm hurting and there's
Olivia, and you in your robe sending me away, telling me to go do it myself, to
get lost…that I don't need you any more. And look what happened. Look what I
did…look what I did to us-to you-to pay you back for not loving me. Not just
then…but when you left me this time…I did it again. Spike, the violence, the
not talking to you, not mentioning your name…God, I've been such a jerk, to
everyone. And the horrible thing is by tomorrow I'll probably be just as stupid
again, but right now I know. I know all the horrible things I've done, and I
Giles' look was unfathomable. It was impossible for her
to tell what he was feeling. Then he spoke quietly.
"Are you saying I caused all your flaws? That it's
my fault you've been acting the way you have?"
"God, Giles, no. I'm saying that it's me. That
only you could hurt me enough for me to be that stupid. I've had a lot of
pain, a lot of things to grieve, and a whole universe of things that hurt me:
really, really hurt me, but none of them made me as crazy as being hurt by you.
Riley and the Initiative and ignoring you were my way of showing you I could do
it without you, that if you felt that way then I didn't need you either. As bad
as it was, at least that time I was being proactive. This time…this time it
was all totally destructive. I was already a mess after being dragged back and
all the badness that went with that spell, and I couldn't see any way out. And
then you were gone. After everything else that had happened, you just left.
"I shutdown, not just emotionally, but everything.
I totally didn't care about anything. The violence…I didn't know why then, but
it's obvious now. I was punishing both of us. I was taking out all my rage at
you on Spike, and I was letting him use me and abuse me because I hated myself,
not just because I was destroying myself. Not just because I thought nobody
would want me, or that I wasn't human, but because I thought you didn't want
They both stared then, slightly open-mouthed, both
shocked by her revelation, and astonished that she should have found such
insight after being so blind for so long.
Buffy finally swallowed, not sure what Giles was
feeling. He was pale and still staring, and not moving. She was shocked by what
she had said, what had come from her heart out of desperation, but she knew it
was true, and in a truly shocking insight, she knew at last exactly how
incredibly horrible she had been. It was all she could do not to turn and run
Giles was watching her, not able to do more than marvel
that after so much time Buffy had finally opened her mind, and her heart. It
seemed inconceivable. He thought they'd all lost her…that amazing girl he come
to assume Watcher duties for so long ago, who while still little more than a
child, had the strength of character to joke and laugh and make friends, all the
while terrified for her own mortality and tortured by the loss of freedom,
choice and future that being the Slayer represented.
He'd known they were losing her after she returned from
Los Angeles that summer. Certainly she was never again the Buffy they all knew,
and by the time Angel had moved on and she started college, it was obvious that
they were unlikely to ever get that girl back again. She had carefully packed
away that generous heart of hers after Angel was done with it, wrapped it up
tight and put it far away where it couldn't be broken again. None of them were
allowed to see it, and not even Riley, for all her neediness, was privy to the
lacerated, broken thing it was, particularly after her mother's death.
What was stunning in her revelations was that, of all
of them, it was he who had the most power to hurt her. He'd always assumed the
opposite…that she gave not a single whit nor felt a moment's censure over
anything he said or did…or felt.
Now he wanted that single malt more than ever. He was
such a turmoil of emotions, not sure what he wanted more: to throw her out, to
hold her close, to shake the living Christ out of her until her teeth rattled,
or to take her in his arms and teach her how to truly love…and then to love
her until both of them dropped.
Buffy, watching the subtle changes in his expression,
the torment in his eyes, couldn't hurt him any longer. The words were wrenched
"Oh God, I'm sorry!"
And with them, feeling as though her heart had exploded
and imbedded itself in tiny, hurtful pieces in the wall of her chest, she fled.
This time, however, she did not count on the speed with
which he could move with enough warning. By the time she'd reached the front
door he was there, and his powerful hands had seized her. They were hurting her
as he turned her and lifted her off the ground. She could have killed him
easily, but she did nothing, ready to take whatever he felt the need to do to
With just as much force she was dragged against him,
his arms wrapping around her and crushing her, and kissed, harshly, demandingly,
until her lips were bruised and he threw back his head.
"I didn't say you could go," he growled.
Buffy was almost afraid to look into his eyes. They
were blurred with pain, and anger, and desire.
"I'm done with hurting you, Rupert," she said
miserably, using his given name deliberately. "I won't. Not any more. I
love you too much."
The pain and anger faded away, leaving the green eyes
bright with love and blurring once again with desire.
"Then love me instead," he demanded and met
her seeking mouth with the same desperation and greed.
Their kiss transformed into a kind of erotic dance,
seeking, taking, provoking each other's lips, mouths, tongues in a sensual
exploration, questioning, answering, merging into each other's souls.
Somewhere amid the passion, Buffy had wound her legs
around his waist, and he had moved his hands to cup her buttocks. The momentum
of their desire drove their movement…Giles turning obliviously toward the
stairs. She weighed next to nothing, and the combination of his desire,
adrenaline and the hypnotic effect they were having on each other, meant that
he'd reached his bedroom even before either of them realised what they were
He finally forced himself to relinquish her lips,
breathing heavily and desperately wanting to plunge back into them again.
His body language told her he wanted to put her down,
but didn't want to let her go. Buffy, electrified and almost exploding now with
unresolved desire, didn't make it any easier, deliberately keeping her legs
around him as she slid, until her warm centre contacted the hard contour of his
He groaned loudly, echoing her soft moan. Both of them
trembled then grew still for a moment. Then Buffy let go and landed easily on
her feet, still feeling the waves of pleasure rolling over her and Giles' warm
hands on her arms. One of them moved to her cheek, his thumb stroking the soft
skin as he looked down at her.
"I love you so very dearly," he whispered.
For the first time in her life Buffy felt a rush of
love, a sense of belonging, so powerful, so strong that it took her breath. She
wanted to love him, hold him and take him, all at the same time, forever and
"Then love me," she whispered, her love, her
desire, lighting up her face and her eyes with a glow the like of which he had
never seen in them before.
It was true. He had never seen Buffy truly
happy…until this moment.
This time the kiss was slow and tender and impossibly
intense. By the time they parted both of them were finding it difficult to think
Buffy smiled at him a little when he hesitated before
reaching out to unbutton her coat with trembling fingers. She stroked his
forearms reassuringly as he worked his way through the buttons then helped shrug
it off so that it slid to the floor. Then she raised her arms slowly.
Giles drew a rattling breath at the implicit invitation
and swallowed hard. As a lover he was without fear or peer. Normally nothing
phased or truly challenged him, but at that moment the enormity of what he was
doing was almost suffocatingly upon him.
As though she understood, Buffy shifted and began
undoing his shirt buttons instead. He did not object, but the rhythm of his
breathing changed as her knuckles brushed his skin and her fingers worked their
way toward his belt.
If his desire had wavered in that one moment, by the
time she reached his belt and began unbuckling it, it had got over itself and
was once again straining the limits of the denim of his jeans. When the buckle
was unfastened he stopped her from proceeding further.
"I-I want to see you, but it feels…"
"Wrong?" Buffy filled in, pulling the pins
from her hair. "I know. But things change. We change." She reached
down and slowly pulled the sweater over her head, listening to his guttural
exclamation as her bra-less form was revealed. She smiled. "Now that's
something I never expected to hear my stuffy Watcher say out loud."
"My God, Buffy," he whispered. "You are
beautiful…but so terrifyingly young."
She stepped toward him, took his hand and placed it
over a small, full, breast. "No I'm not," she said quietly. "I'm
old. Way older than you'll ever be."
Their eyes met again, and Giles could see the truth in
hers. Life and death had taken so much from her, as it had from him.
As if to reinforce her point, Buffy's fingers
unbuttoned his jeans and slid the zipper down slowly. The tension was growing
almost unbearable, but neither one of them wanted to rush.
Slowly, but drawn, like a moth to a flame, Giles bent
his knees and his head to caress her right breast with his lips. Her cry of
pleasure was audible, as were the small moans that followed while he pleasured
her with all of his considerable experience. He found himself trembling as he
did so, still stunned at the way fate had turned, and almost overwhelmed both by
his own passion and the very act of finally being able to touch her, to love
Buffy shuddered as his warm, firm mouth closed around a
tender bud and held it while his tongue explored the soft, sweet skin and toyed
with the rigid peak. Her whole body was resonating with the intensity of her
She brought her fingers to his hair, the act of burying
them in it as erotic as what he was doing to her. As he continued, her skin
became more and more sensitive to his touch, so that when his lips slid across
to the other breast she gasped and threw her head back, arching when she felt
him unbutton her pants at the same time, and burning with anticipation.
Never before had she been so completely aroused, so
connected to her partner. Never before had she been so in love…
His fingers slid inside the open zipper, just enough to
make her groan with pleasure.
And then they both stopped at exactly the same moment,
each of them flushed and glowing-eyed, and looking longingly at the other.
Each knew why the other hesitated, why this moment was
so breathtaking. And neither could bring themselves to make the next move.
Instead, Giles took her in his arms, and when Buffy's
had wound around his neck, they kissed each other with all the pent up passion
and longing in their bodies until finally he swept a hand beneath her knees and
lifted her, carrying her to his bed and sweeping all the covers to the floor as
he lay her on it.
Buffy watched his jeans fall and shuddered as he
removed her boots and easily slid off her woollen pants. She liked the dark blue
designer boxer-briefs he was wearing. They were small and made of a soft,
stretch fabric that hugged his legs, his waist, and the very obvious evidence of
his desire for her. And it was equally obvious that Giles was entranced by the
tiny slip of lace she was wearing.
Nice underwear was Buffy's one continuing fashion vice
as the Slayer. Regardless of what she was required to wear or how disgusting the
mess got, she could always feel special anyway by wearing pretty underthings.
They were not one of her favourites, cut too high and too narrow at the back,
giving them a tendency to ride up and pinch, especially in pants, but she'd worn
them for luck.
Never in a million years would she have believed Giles
would ever see them…yet here they were, and he was running a forefinger under
the lace. She shuddered and gasped as it caressed her soft folds, aware of the
muffled sounds of desire he was making as his fingertips contacted the tender
"You are so very lovely," he whispered and
bent to kiss the rising curve of the pale blue lace.
Buffy groaned again, and arched to him, but he was
moving again, to lie beside her. She turned immediately, wanting to run her
fingers across that broad chest and to touch…just to touch all of him.
"So are you," she said whimsically, aroused
even more by the feel of the soft golden mat of chest hair and amused by the
sprinkling of grey ones. She kissed his chin and mouthed his neck.
"Nice to know," he said, the words coming out
in a breathy whisper as he caressed the small, creamy breasts she presented to
him once again as she turned.
"Giles," she said as her fingers roamed his
"I love you."
He paused. "Buffy, are you all right?"
She looked up at his concerned face and nodded.
"I-I wanted to say it out loud…I needed you to know. Whatever else I've
done. You're the first…the only one I ever truly loved. I just wanted to tell
He drew her into his arms and held her close for a few
minutes. "Silly girl," he chided gently. "How am I to remain
suitably aroused, if you're going to get all sentimental and silly?"
From her blissful snuggling against his chest, Buffy
shifted and let her hand slide down to his boxers, allowing her fingers to
search out the contour of his erection and to caress and play with it. Within
moments he was again stretching the fabric to its limit.
"Problem fixed," she giggled.
In reply he trailed his hand down and slid his long
fingers beneath the band of her g-string, letting the tips caress and stroke
once more the swollen flesh beneath, until she groaned and whimpered in his
"Turn about is fair play," he pointed out
then lapsed into silence, albeit a groaning one, as Buffy slipped her hand back
into the opening of his boxers and extended that thought.
Her touch was an exquisite experience, like fire along
his length, the movement of her fingers sending waves and waves of pleasure
through his whole body. He felt about eighteen again and just as hard…not to
mention in just as much peril of disgracing himself like a nervous virgin.
It was time to take things in hand. He leaned down to
kiss her then eased her back, before setting his mind to removing the slender
g-string and his own briefs.
When the last barrier was down, he hesitated just
slightly before laying down beside her once more.
Buffy had been watching him and smiled at his small
discomfiture. "You're beautiful, Giles. And in tip top condition too,
circulation wise, judging by the kind of extreme attention your friend is
standing at, there." She caressed his almost painfully hard erection, her
admiration genuine, as genuine as his shudder of pleasure.
He smiled and coloured slightly, but continued to
caress her body as they spoke, letting his fingers roam over every curve,
enjoying the small sighs and gasps and occasional groans that he managed to
elicit from her.
"And so are you, I see," he replied, trailing
fingertips down the inside of a creamy thigh and smiling again when they parted
a little more, and she made a small whimpering noise.
She was painfully lovely, if too thin after the long
road back from her traumatic resurrection, with her ripe breasts, their pale
pink buds also at attention, and those womanly curves all the not eating in the
world couldn't hide. Whether she liked it or no, Buffy had baby-bearing
hips…woman's hips, and if she would only let herself relax long enough to
actually ingest sustenance, she would again know the glory of them…
For a moment he allowed himself to remember the
full-figured sixteen-year-old Buffy and how much promise she held of the woman
she would become, before fashion took hold and she'd succumbed to the temptation
to turn herself into, at times, an almost androgynous coat hanger to the modern
trends. Something that made him wish all fashion houses, designers and magazines
to hell and a fiery death for the risks they drove their young devotees to
endure for the sake of fashion.
"But you're too thin," he told her, letting
his fingers play across the heat beneath the small triangle of dark curls.
Buffy gasped, then scowled. "I am not. I'm just
"Something we can argue about on cold
nights," he said gruffly, "while I feed you buttered toast and bacon
to fatten you up."
As though to reassert herself she pushed him back and
straddled his hips. "First of all I can think of better things to do than
arguing and better things to eat than toast and bacon. Second of all…"
she said, settling her damp heat over his hard length and wriggling a little for
effect, "I can think of way better things to do right now than worry about
how much I weigh."
Almost beyond speech at that point, Giles agreed, but
stopped her for a moment and reached down to the side drawer next to his side of
the bed. He drew out an open box of condoms and spilled them onto the cupboard.
"It's open. Should I be jealous?"
He made a growling noise. "Bloody thing's been
open for a good two years and hasn't had any use since." "A little
past their use-by date, then, aren't they?" she observed dryly.
Buffy looked at the small foil packages and then at his
annoyed face again, and moved herself with deliberate provocation while she
reached for one and ripped it open, stretching it to test its strength and
smiling when he shuddered and groaned while still scowling. Despite a recent
lack of practise, it didn't take long and she was soon teasing and tormenting
him again with her body.
Every nerve ending in his simply wanted to turn her
over and take her, right there and then. And then she was kissing him, claiming
him almost, moving her hips infuriatingly so that her wet folds were caressing
his length but not allowing him egress. She was making small pleasure noises as
she moved, and enjoying herself and his discomfiture, just for a few moments,
then she put her hands on his shoulders and lifted herself just enough to allow
him to find her. As they finally became one and their bodies fused, Giles cried
out, using another epithet Buffy had thought would never hear pass his lips.
"Oh Christ, Buffy," he continued to gasp as
she slid down his length and began to make love to him.
He was overwhelmed not only by the fact that he was
being made love to by the woman he loved and adored for so long, but by the
staggeringly tight passage that was holding him fast as she moved, and driving
him insane with pleasure. She increased her pace as his groans grew louder and
his hands took hold of her waist, her pleasure mounting as she found her own
rhythm and depth in her enjoyment of the impossibly hard shaft inside her.
"Oh God," she shuddered as it continued to
mount, and shifted suddenly to pull him on top of her. "Giles!"
He rose to her demand, taking over, drawing her hips to
his and entering her again, listening to her shout of ecstasy as he sank into
her. Then they were both striving to each other, stroking faster and faster as
their cries again grew loud and demanding. And then Buffy was curling her hips
up and yelling as she pulled him deeper and harder. She was jolting and bucking
beneath him in a maelstrom of ecstasy that triggered an explosion that literally
took his breath away, convulsing him so that he was barely able to thrust as
orgasm after orgasm tore through his body with a ferocity he hadn't known since
his troubled youth.
Not until they both came back to earth and Giles slid
away to dispose of the prophylactic and retrieve the heavy quilt to cover them
against the cold of the evening, before returning to lie at her side while they
caught their breaths, were they both able to focus enough to realize how truly
incredible it had been.
In that same instant, they both reached for each other,
enfolding and entwining arms and legs with the same ferocity as their
love-making, holding on to each other as though reconfirming the commitment
their hearts had just made, as though there was still a need to reassure
themselves it was all real and not just a wonderful dream.
Buffy buried her nose in his warm skin and kissed the
soft hair of the chest her head was resting against, happy in the tight circle
of her lover's arms. And Giles held her to him with the possessiveness of one
given a second chance, and not willing to let anything take it away from him
They woke at sunrise, within moments of each other, in
almost exactly the same position.
Giles took several moments to grasp the reality of the
woman in his arms. Too often…far too often, he'd wakened in the morning only
to mourn the parting from his dreams, and the illusion of his slayer in his
That she was truly there, and curled up in his arms,
holding him as tightly as he was holding her, was almost beyond comprehension.
Slowly, as the room grew brighter and Buffy stirred, the events of the previous
day filtered back to him, including the inevitable replays of speeches
exchanged, things said in anger and things revealed, leaving him exhilarated and
apprehensive at the same time.
"Good morning," he said tenderly when her
eyes finally opened.
They filled with moisture. "It's real," she
whispered. "You're real. I'm really not in hell any more."
The momentary bleakness of her waking expression, and
the joy that replaced it when she realised where she was, and with whom, almost
broke his heart. He bent his head and kissed her very tenderly.
"No you're not," he told her gently and
smiled reassuringly. "Unless hell is cold and draughty."
Buffy slid her arms around his neck and kissed him
back. "Good. I'd rather be where you are any day," she purred and
wriggled even closer to his warm body. "Mm," she murmured
appreciatively, discovering exactly how pleased he was to see her, and slid her
leg over his thigh.
Giles groaned as her velvet soft warmth made contact
with his impossible morning hardness. "Buffy…"
She smiled, completely awake now, and started to move
as she caught his lips again, enjoying his involuntary groans throughout the
With little more than a nuance of body language, she
invited him and he moved over her and into her, barely able to control his
response to the pleasure of entering her again.
Buffy wrapped her legs around his hips and raised hers,
allowing even deeper penetration and an even greater sensation of fusion with
the man she now loved beyond all reasoning or care.
And then each of them gave themselves to the other,
until they both exploded together, then both came down slowly, dreamily,
together, and Giles finally moved to her side.
"Ick alert," she giggled as he eased back,
and waited while he retrieved a handkerchief from a drawer by the bed. How come
you get to be the ick-less sex?" she grumbled. "Especially since it's
all your fault, anyway."
Giles chuckled with genuine amusement as she completed
her task, threw the offending item away without a care and snuggled down again.
"Comes with the territory," he offered.
Buffy groaned. "Note to self: the man slays puns
in the morning. I'm so not making you breakfast after that one."
He stopped chuckling and looked at her with something
"What?" she asked, half bemused, half
"Yesterday I woke up alone, just as I have for a
hundred, five hundred…more… mornings before that, and I lay here thinking of
you, and unhappily mapping out my life for the thousandth time on the premise
that I would never see you again," he said quietly. "And then I forced
myself to get up and begin a new day; one that I expected would inevitably lead
to another just like it…"
There was nothing she could say to that, only slip a
hand up from the covers to cup his rough cheek for a moment before putting her
arms around his neck and sharing a silent, comforting embrace.
"I'm not leaving you again," she told him
when they parted. "I died. No matter what they say, the Council has no hold
over me anymore. Whatever you want is all that matters now. If I have to bring
Dawn to Bath and put her in a snooty Girl's school…which you'd have to pay
for, by the way, I will. I mean it. I won't leave you."
He smiled and touched her lovely face, amused by her
adorable disarray and moved by the vehemence of her feelings.
"Nor I you," he said quietly. "There's
plenty of time to discuss the future, now that we both have one. What we have to
discuss right now is who is going to make breakfast, and who is going to have
the bathroom first…"
The tension broke and Buffy beamed. She was relieved
beyond measure that there was to be no more soul searching for a while and glad
he didn't seem to have realised that they didn't use any protection this time,
and therefore wasn't having a cow about it...yet. For him she would accept any
consequences, if there were to be any, including the not unpleasant thought of
bearing his child, though it was highly unlikely given her current cycle.
"Bathroom…bath. Don't I remember you saying you
have a big tub?"
"Well, yes, but I didn't mean that particular
bathroom…and it's six o'clock in the morning. I don't think…"
She kissed him hard on the mouth. "Don't think.
Do. As in breakfast, in the tub," she declared, and started to get out of
the bed, until the ice-cold morning hit her warm but naked body. Within
nanoseconds she was back under the covers and fastened to his warm chest and
"I take it this is less an invitation and more
about shared bodily warmth?" he asked dryly, though not managing to keep
the utter contentment from his voice.
She nuzzled into his neck and snuggled even closer,
letting her hand trail down under the covers to check and to find him semi-erect
once more. "How old did you say you were again?" she drawled.
He chuckled. "Old enough to know better, and young
enough to be this foolish in the midst of such temptation, particularly after
such a ridiculous period of enforced deprivation. At least you are, at last, in
no doubt that I am, in fact, a man."
She kissed the point of his jaw and absently caressed
his length. "No doubt whatsoever. Although…I've never been with anyone
who…I mean, I thought there were limits…"
Giles cleared his throat. "Of course there are. As
I said, these are special circumstances and you are a beautiful woman."
"Come on Giles," she teased. "Admit it.
He laughed. "That too," he agreed, sliding
out of bed and pulling on some dark silk pyjamas and sneakers so that he could
give Buffy his heavy robe and slippers. He didn't see Buffy pocket several foil
packs with a grin.
The bath was downstairs, far too heavy when full to be
borne by the upstairs floorboards. Buffy was impressed. She knew that the small
row of townhouses was old, but expensive, but she wasn't expecting anything this
Giles looked up from starting the faucets running.
"Yes I know. Odd in a place like this, but someone was obviously fond of
these things. This room is a converted sunroom, hence all the mod cons, the
Buffy liked it, or at least she would have in a modern
apartment, but somehow it seemed out of place among the old fashioned things,
with its faux marble tiles and glass and big hot tub set in the centre of it.
An hour and a half later they were resting contentedly
in the continual wash of the jets of hot water and soap bubbles, empty coffee
and tea mugs and plates covered in toast crumbs, bacon grease and dried egg
yolk, set on the side of the tub.
"It never occurred to me before to eat breakfast
in the bath," he mused when Buffy murmured something about more caffeine.
"You see, you can be spontaneous and enjoy
it," she grinned, turning a little in his arms and stretching out in the
water like a contented cat. "It might be a tad decadent, but tell me it
wasn't gorgeous and you didn't enjoy every minute of it."
"Are you talking about breakfast, or…?" he
"Both," she replied with satisfaction, still
glowing from their pre-breakfast tryst in the bubbles. Giles was the first lover
she'd even been with who'd come close to satisfying the true breadth of her
Slayer appetite and drive. She rolled over and drew herself up to his eye level
to kiss his mouth unexpectedly. Seconds later she was sliding down again to beat
the chill already biting at her warm soapy body.
"What was that for?" he asked gruffly.
"For being you," she said cryptically, then
sighed contentedly. "I think I just want to stay in here forever."
"Lovely thought," he conceded, "though
the thought of looking like a shrivelled mummy puts a dampener on the
She giggled. "You big silly." The smile
faded. "What are we going to do, Giles? You belong here. I belong in
Sunnydale. How do we make the twain do what we want?"
He shifted a little and wrapped his arms around her.
"I don't know," he said quietly. "I do know that with Faith in
jail, and the succession effectively stalled, there is still only one person
standing between humanity and the darkness."
"Oh please," she muttered. "If you dare
start that 'one girl in all the world' speech I swear I'll drown you."
Mischief lit his face. "I always liked that
speech. 'One Girl in all the world who could…" The sound of gurgling
reverberated about the bathroom as Giles found himself pushed under, though only
for a few seconds. He surfaced and continued the speech out of devilment in his
best librarian voice, between giggles as a laughing Buffy resorted to tickling
to shut him up. "Pax!" he cried eventually, when she found the sweet
spots at the base of his rib cage, where tickling drove him insane.
Still giggling, she collapsed against his chest, both
of them dripping water now, even from their hair.
"I have to go back, don't I?" she asked him
when they fell quiet.
Giles stroked her arm. "You don't really need me
to answer that, do you?"
Buffy curled up in his arms, burying her face in his
wet chest hair. "I won't ask you to leave here. I can't do that to
"What happened to never leaving me again?" he
teased in pouting voice.
She raised her head and looked into his eyes with
miserable ones of her own, and saw the warmth and the twinkle lighting the soft
green. After a beat a slow, reluctant smile grew from the thin line of her lips,
and moisture suddenly cluttered her view.
"You're going with me?"
He flicked a drop of water from the tip of her nose.
"Of course I'm going with you, you silly goose. Did you think I would let
the love of my life walk out of it again so easily? Or that I would ever again
allow the Council to interfere in my life to that degree?"
She half giggled rather damply. "You're the
big silly, but I love you so much."
"Well that's terribly reassuring," he mugged
and then added an 'ouch' when she thumped his chest, before catching her as she
threw herself into his arms and flung her arms around his wet neck, making
plumes of water slop over the side of the tub and the plates as she lunged.
They shared the hug for some time before Buffy shifted
back into the water to warm up her chilled back.
"It doesn't seem right. You love it here. It's
Giles country. Where will you live in Sunnydale if you go back?"
"Well, the Sunnydale flat belongs to me and has
been leased. The lease is due for renewal fairly shortly, so I daresay I shall
be able to 'go home' as it were, to the old place. How do you feel about
sleeping in a loft?" he added dryly. "And of course I don't have a hot
tub. Perhaps somewhere else would-?"
"Giles, reality check. Dawn? Don't get me
wrong…I want to be with you, like all the time, but you're the one who
forced me to grow up. Three into your old apartment just don't go."
He sighed. "I'm aware of that, love. I'm sure once
they're apprised of the situation, Dawn, Willow and Tara will be more than
willing to help make things easier for us, but you will, of course, stay with
your sister for the time being."
"Or you could move into my place," Buffy
suggested, clutching at straws. "Or not," she added when she saw his
"I'm sorry, Buffy. I think it would
"What? Willow and Tara aren't exactly celibate,
and I've had…never mind." She scowled.
"That's not what I meant," he said quietly.
"I was thinking more of your mother."
The scowl vanished. "Oh," she whispered, the
change in her tone audible.
Giles gave her a reassuring squeeze. "We'll think
of something. In the meantime you'll simply have to visit me at the flat.
"Well at least that's not new. Regular
post-slayage stop off, remember?"
Giles raised an eyebrow. "Regular?"
"Well, okay, sometimes stop-off, and sometimes
before slayage a-and occasionally all night research place," she defended.
"Just so long as you come," he replied. He
wasn't laughing anymore.
Painfully aware of that, Buffy answered. "Just try
to keep me away! I miss you already," she groaned. "Dawn can have me
for dinner and breakfast, her school stuff and the supervision of homework and
chores, but other than that, I'm all yours."
"Marvellous," he grumbled. "Fit me in
between the PTA meeting and the nest of demons on twelfth and Barton…Tuesday
Buffy made a disparaging noise. "As if. You can
start patrolling with me again and we'll go back to your place afterward to work
off my post-Slayage tensions. I'll make sure Dawn is cool with me spending
nights, in advance."
"Post Slay…?" He cleared his throat.
"You've never mentioned any…'tensions' before."
"Yeah, you know, tensions. As in now I can report
back from patrol that I'm horny and I'm starving and what are you going to do
about it? Instead of how it used to be, pretending I'm fine and calm and
everything and going home to…" she stopped, her eyes widening.
"Well, never mind."
"I am a grownup, Buffy. I'm well aware of the
process. I've been alone now for the greater part of the last six years but I'm
not a bloody monk. And it occurs to me that we didn't use a condom when we woke
up," he added, concern in his tone. "Why on Earth didn't you say
"At the time, I didn't realize any more than you
did. Spontaneity, remember? Neither of us has exactly needed them for a very
long time. It'll be okay, Giles. Since I came back I've barely even menstruated.
Willow thinks it's stress. Not really conducive to the baby-making though."
"I bloody hope so," he growled. "The
last thing I want is to burden you with motherhood at this point in your
Buffy looked at him lovingly, but seriously. "I
don't care," she said. "If it happens, it will be yours...ours...and
that's all that matters. Now where were we? Oh yeah. From now on we take care of
each other's...'tensions.' And as soon as Dawn goes to college, I'm moving in
with you forever and nothing and no one is going to stop me."
He kissed the top of her damp head. "Forever is a
long time, Buffy."
"For some of us," she murmured.
Above her head Giles' eyes grew bleak for a moment,
before he closed his eyes and kissed her hair again.
After the bath, Buffy went ahead to the bedroom while
Giles tidied the bathroom and dropped the plates in to the kitchen. She was
almost dressed when he arrived, the thin silk of his pyjamas stuck to him where
he hadn't towelled off properly. She sat on the bed and watched him cross the
room, noticing one particular damp outline and repressing an urge to go and
explore it. She enjoyed watching him dress too. There was a sense of belonging,
of contentment, in being this much a part of him now. She also enjoyed watching
him turn, grin lopsidedly and blush, as he always would, when she showed her
appreciation of the view as he bent to retrieve clean underwear and socks from
"I don't suppose you want to come back to
bed?" she purred when he turned, dressed now in a chunky white cable knit
sweater, black jeans and dark tan boots.
He stared at her for a moment then laughed.
"You'll be the death of me."
A subdued Buffy slid off the bed and walked into his
arms. "Not if I can help it."
Giles wrapped his arms around her, aware that her tone
implied something far deeper than ensuring he didn't have a heart attack trying
to keep up with her in bed.
"My own personal bodyguard. I'm impressed,"
he teased gently. "Shall we run up to Ravenscroft and collect your things?
I know a nice place to have lunch, very authentic."
"You? Running, leaping…frolicking?" Buffy
"Very funny. I drive."
"The tramp is here in England? Isn't the steering
wheel on the wrong side?"
"Afraid not. Though it fetched a good price from a
private sale before I left."
"So what do you drive?"
Giles chuckled. "It's called a Kawasaki
Buffy frowned. "That sounds more like a
motorcycle…oh…your closet hobby, huh?"
He huffed a little. "Yes, my closet hobby. I
believe I've earned the right to a few toys. And I think you'll like this
Buffy looked impressed then concerned. "Am I a
Giles looked down at her, not sure if she was joking or
not. "Of course you aren't. You are the joy of my life and the woman I
love. You are also one of the most frustrating, infuriating people I've ever
met, both of which violate the criteria of being a toy." It amused him
watching Buffy try to work out if she'd been complimented or insulted. Finally,
he chuckled. "Come on, let's go and get your things. How long did you
arrange to be away from Sunnydale for?"
She made a face at him. "They gave me a week, if
you wanted to see me, and I told them two days, if you didn't. Willow is
watching Dawn. And the others and Spike are sharing the patrols."
At that his smile widened. For the first time he was
glad he hadn't had the motivation to go and look up all his contacts to find
"Then you shall have your week. I'll enjoy showing
you something of the West Country while you're here."
"And a lot more of your bed, I hope," she
"Of course," he agreed, grinning, a certain
amount of smug satisfaction in his voice.
"And then what?"
He took her in his arms and kissed her.
"And then, my darling, we're going home."