New York City
December 30, 2004 (Th)
"I can't believe I let you talk me into this, Buffy. It's insane."
"It is not. Come on, you can't tell me this hasn't been fun?"
"Perhaps a little. It's bloody cold here. Why couldn't you suggest a holiday in Hawaii?"
"Because I wanted a white Christmas."
"Why that was necessary all of the sudden I don't understand. And why didn't you bring Willow or Xander with you?"
"Because they were busy doing stuff."
"And you don't think I have stuff to do?"
"You said yes, didn't you?"
"Ha, got you there."
"Yes, yes, good point."
And she did have a point. He was hesitant to admit how much he'd enjoyed his time with Buffy. They'd been here since before Christmas. A much-needed break for both of them. He would probably never know the real reason she'd asked him. Whatever her reason, he was enjoying this time with her. He had never had this much time to spend with her uninterrupted.
New York City was a bevy of activity this time of year and they'd done it all. With still a few days left they were now struggling to come up with things to do that hadn't been done before. Buffy had suggested dinner and dancing. A formal dinner.
Little did she realize he was incapable of denying her any request. He was gone. Completely. He knew it, had for some time now. Luckily, he had been able to mask his feelings. He'd learned how to do so when Riley came onto the scene.
"Don't I look all right?"
He scoffed. The very idea she looked just all right was absurd. He couldn't remember a time in all the years he'd known her that all right was a remotely acceptable adjective to describe her.
"You look beautiful, Buffy."
"Thanks," she said. Her smile radiated her appreciation of his compliment. "You look handsome yourself. This is going to be fun."
"If you say so."
"I do. Come on. You like this stuff."
"Well, yes, but you've never displayed any affection for it."
"I'm a multifaceted woman, Giles." She took his hand and tugged him toward the door. They shared an adjoining suite, the doors between their rooms were closed only when they were getting ready for the day. He'd insisted upon it, probably not for the stuffy reason she imagined. He was far better off unexposed to the delicacy that was her tempting figure. It was something he would never have access to, except in his dreams.
He pulled her coat from its hanger and assisted her into it. It was a shame she had to cover the gown. It made him think of her prom, a lifetime ago it seemed. She'd matured since then, was more shapely and filled out this gown better. He'd be blind not to notice.
They said little in the elevator ride down to the lobby. As they stepped out, Buffy slid her hand into the crook of his arm. She made it seem like such a natural thing to do, touch him. He could until this trip count on one hand how many times they'd touched. It just didn't happen.
He hailed a cab. The hotel was a nice one so there was generally a cab nearby any time day or night they'd found thus far. He told the driver where to go. He had gotten the name of the type of place Buffy was looking for from the concierge. He knew nothing about it, but couldn't help but enjoy Buffy seated beside him on the ride there. She didn't remove her hand from his arm and talked animatedly along the way about the city life as they passed it.
It had been years since she'd lived in LA and while she'd done a good bit of traveling the past year there was still something about the hustle and bustle of New York that appealed even to him. It was contagious. He felt alive in a way he couldn't recall having felt in a while.
He paid the driver before offering Buffy his hand to assist her out of the cab. They were at a more upscale hotel than the one they were staying in. Theirs was a nice hotel, but this one was quite extravagant. He'd looked it up when booking travel plans. And while it was right in the center of everything, it was a little steep for him. He knew it would be for Buffy, too. For tonight, though, they could dine and dance as if they belonged here.
It was a busy week. Travelers were coming into town for the traditional Times Square New Year's celebration tomorrow night. Giles thought they were lucky to have gotten a reservation because the hotel looked to be just as busy as the New York streets outside.
"Bloody Americans. Travel in packs to see a ball drop when they would be much more comfortable and get a better view from at home in their living room."
"Uh, did I say that aloud?"
"Yes, you did."
"Sorry, won't happen again."
"Sure it won't. Come on, this type of stuff didn't appeal to you when you were my age?"
"I'm not sure I can remember back that far."
"Ha ha, very funny. That's not what I meant. But you weren't so stuffy back then."
"What makes you think I'm stuffy now?"
She looked at him, blinked, blinked again. He supposed it sounded absurd, she didn't know differently.
"I'll have you know."
"I'm just teasing you, Giles. But can't you see the fun in being a part of something like the ball dropping?"
"I suppose. This isn't your way of suggesting we come back tomorrow, is it?"
"It'd be fun, but we don't have to. I can be content in our rooms watching it on TV. We have to drink champagne, though."
"That I can manage."
"You're quite welcome. I have enjoyed the trip."
"Knock me over with a feather, Giles. Are you suggesting my idea for a vacation away from slayers and watchers and scrolls was a good one?"
"Well, I wouldn't go that far."
They checked their coats. Giles couldn't help but take a moment to admire Buffy once again. The dress she wore was long. It wasn't overly extravagant, but it looked becoming on her. He couldn't help but think he was a lucky man to have her as his date for the evening.
He gave his name to the maitre d' and after not too long of a wait they were shown to a table. The restaurant was busy. Their table was a little more intimate than Giles had foreseen, but he was getting more accustomed to such things with Buffy on this trip. If he wasn't careful he'd fool himself into thinking he could have time with Buffy like this all of the time. Soon, they would be back in London and life would return to normal.
Buffy was finding that activating a multitude of slayers while a good plan, as well as a successful one, had some downfalls. Someone had to train the girls and with only a few having survived Sunnydale they were worn quite thin. It was for that reason that he'd agreed to come with Buffy when she'd asked him. He knew she needed the respite. She was working harder than anyone was to ensure the girls were better prepared to serve out their calling than she had been.
He ordered wine to go with their dinner. One thing he enjoyed about Buffy was her willingness to not just try new things but to let him guide her in those things. She was brutally honest if something didn't appeal to her, but he gave her points for at least trying it. Their waiter had just departed the table from filling the wineglasses when he heard his name.
"Do you know someone in New York?"
"I can't say that I do, no," he said, glancing in the direction the voice had come from. "Dear Lord. It can't be."
"What, Giles? Who is it?" He gave her points for not doing the rude thing and craning her neck to look over her shoulder.
"A blast from my past you might say. I haven't seen him in, goodness, fifteen or twenty years." He was sure it was Alastair Harrington as the man drew closer to their table. Alastair had always been a pompous ass. They hadn't run with the same crowd. While Giles and his crowd had been dabbling heavily in the occult, Alastair was sniffing after whatever skirt would net him the easiest life.
Giles stood from the table as Alastair made his final approach. "It is you." He patted Giles on the shoulder with one hand while they shook hands.
"Alastair. How are you?"
"Doing great. You?"
"Do you live in New York?"
"No, we're just visiting."
Alastair glanced at Buffy then. Giles saw the other man's attempt at a discreet appraisal of Giles' dinner companion.
"How about you, Alastair?"
"About the same. Diana and I, you remember Diana?"
"Yes, of course," Giles said, glancing in the direction Alastair had pointed. Diana did look vaguely familiar. They all blended together, though. The years had not been overly kind to Alastair' wife, but judging by their style of dress they were doing quite well.
He felt the weight of Buffy's gaze on him and glanced in her direction. She appeared transfixed and it was then that he realized he'd forgotten his manners completely and had failed to introduce her. He always hated running into people from his youth. Most were far more successful than he was, even if he was content with his job. He didn't have wealth or physical things to show off. Many had families, something he had long ago given up the fantasy of.
"Forgive me. Buffy, this is Alastair Harrington."
Alastair took Buffy's offered hand and instead of shaking it brought it to his lips in a grand gesture of formality long ago forgotten by most. Flamboyant twit. He was always a smooth one.
"Charmed, I'm sure, Miss."
"Summers. The name does suit you. A breath of fresh air. I can feel the warm breeze now, in fact. A welcome respite from the scene outside."
"Have you gotten a table yet, Alastair?"
"We've already eaten. We were headed to the lounge, though for some dancing. Perhaps you could meet us when you're through."
"We were planning on it."
"We'll try not to tire the band out before you get there then."
"All right," Giles said stiffly. He sounded like an imbecile. He watched as Alastair walked away and returned Diana's wave. He wasn't sure he remembered her at all.
"So, who is he, Giles?"
"We were in college together. He was a pompous ass even then."
"Not much as changed."
"On that we can agree. He wanted to marry someone with money and a father who could give him a job where he'd have to do the least amount of work possible."
"One of those."
"Yes, one of those."
"I imagine he's got children and everything now."
Buffy took a sip of her wine, watching him. She saw too much he thought.
"Things you don't have. And here you are the night before New Year's Eve with me."
"There's no place I'd rather be, Buffy. Please don't say that."
"I know. You admire him in a way, though."
"Well, sure. I can't tell him what I do for a living. Being a curator for a museum isn't exactly noteworthy. I haven't done much with my life. At least in the eyes of the uninitiated."
"You've done plenty. And you're not a loser."
"I didn't say that I was."
"But that's what you were getting at."
The conversation continued in much the same fashion until their dinners arrived. Alastair and Giles' past were pushed to the wayside and they fell back into the comfortable banter they'd developed while here together.
"We can scratch the dancing if you're not in the mood, Giles."
"No. I have nothing to hide or be ashamed of. Having your nameplate on a corner office's door or a wife and family do not mark a man's success."
"You're right. And, in case I forget to tell you later, you're the most successful man I know."
"I mean it, Giles. Now, let's go dance the night away."
She took his hand as they left the restaurant, lacing her fingers through his instead of sliding it through the crook of his arm. It sent a jolt through his body, being in direct contact with her in such a fashion. Contact she had initiated. Anyone looking at them would think they were together. It gave him a perverse sense of pleasure. He'd enjoy it while he could.
Alastair and Diana were easy to spot. He found for some reason the urge to roll up his sleeves and display his tattoo was strong. A way to reaffirm he wasn't always the tweed-wearing Rupert Giles Buffy knew.
"You made it."
"The band is great."
"Good," Buffy said.
It was difficult looking at the patrons what type of music the band played. The people ranged from grandparents to barely legal drinking age.
"Miss Summers, my wife Diana Harrington."
Buffy offered her hand and smiled at Diana. "It's nice to meet you. And just call me Buffy."
"You're an American." Alastair had married an observant woman at any rate.
"Yes, I am."
"But you're living in London now?"
"Yes, for a little over a year."
"How are you enjoying it?"
"Well enough. I miss LA sometimes. I think maybe I'm finally used to driving on the wrong side of the road."
Diana and Alastair both laughed politely at Buffy's joke. She placed her hand on his knee. Given the situation he was not in a position to ask what she was doing.
"But Rupert wanted to move back to London so I had to go, too."
"I'm sorry?" Alastair looked about as puzzled as Giles felt. It was a good thing Giles was used to subterfuge and playing along with the story of the moment.
"Well, we met in LA. Sunnydale, actually. He was working there. I couldn't let him leave without me."
"You're together then."
"Well, yeah," Buffy said as if it the question was the most ridiculous thing she'd heard. "Can I tell them, Rupert?"
"Well, I know we were going to wait until we got back to London to tell the others, but they're your friends and they're here."
"I," he glanced at her. He had no idea what she was up to. Her eyes told him to trust her, and he did. With his life. His heart was another matter. She lifted her hand from his thigh and he felt the loss immediately.
She flashed her left hand. He noticed for the first time she wore a diamond ring on her finger. How had he missed it?
"We're getting married."
"Well, congratulations. I take it this is a new development?"
"Yes. It was my Christmas present. He's such a romantic."
"You haven't been married before, Rupert?"
"I," he said with a glance at Buffy. She looked at him with absolute adoration in his eyes. If he wasn't mistaken it seemed genuine. His heart had thudded in his chest at Buffy's announcement. Not that it was offensive, but that she had come up with the scheme. She smiled at him coquettishly. The little vixen knew exactly what she was doing. "No, I haven't."
"What made you decide to now?"
"Meeting the right woman will do that. Or so I've come to find out."
"Good point, Rupert. Well, we'll have to get some champagne to celebrate. How long are you in New York for then?"
"We have a few days yet."
"We do, too. Will you be enjoying the festivities tomorrow night?"
"No, Giles wanted to, but I thought a night in would be more fun."
Giles cleared his throat. Buffy made a point of lacing her fingers through his. He had gone along with the charade, he couldn't stop now or he'd look like an idiot. He wasn't sure how he appeared, but she was positively glowing. His mind was filled with questions. One of which was where she'd gotten the ring she wore.
"Would you like to dance?"
"Yes, of course," he said, grateful the song was one he could dance to.
"What in the devil do you think you're doing, Buffy?"
"Giving them something to think about."
"But what? You're never going to see them again."
"That may be true."
She inched closer, the song was conducive to such intimacy. She cradled his face between her hands as they danced and kissed him. This was no peck and it was difficult to believe it was part of an act. She was a good actress, but she didn't need to part her lips as part of an act.
His arms skimmed her tiny waist, tugging her closer. God help him if this was part of the act and when she drew away she'd see him as a letch. He couldn't help it, though. Years of wanting her from a distance, the temptation was too great for him to resist.
Her arms slid around his neck once she felt him respond. Their movements on the dance floor slowed to the point they were barely moving. He couldn't say he minded. He'd dreamt of this, Buffy coming to him. She had lamented more than once that it would be a difficult task to find someone like Riley. Someone who would not just know about her calling but understand the things she hunted. Could it be that she finally realized he was such a man?
"Buffy," he whispered when she broke the kiss.
She lifted her eyes to meet his. If it was possible for his feelings for her to grow even stronger, they did in that moment. Her face flushed from kissing him. A kiss she had initiated. And she was gazing at him as a woman did to a man she desired.
"I said shh," she whispered with a most appealing pout. She kissed him again. He didn't need any prompting this time. He kissed her with as much passion as he could. They were in public after all.
"I've wanted to do that for so long."
"You have?" He hadn't a clue. Was he that dense? Or was he just so accustomed to not seeing what he wished to from her that he missed the clues.
"Yes. God. Come on, do you really think Willow wouldn't drop what she was doing and come to New York with me?"
"Well, I suppose. Why didn't you just say something?"
"I wasn't sure how you felt."
The song had ended. The band was moving onto something that was not conducive to slow dancing. Or talking for that matter.
"Good God, we have to go back to their table."
"We don't have to stay real long, Giles."
"Where did you get that ring, by the way?"
"It was Mom's. I don't usually wear it, but like to when I'm getting dressed up like tonight."
"What? Did you think I had a fiancé stashed away somewhere?"
"The thought had crossed my mind."
"Get real, Giles."
He placed a hand at the small of her back, relishing the feel of her, as they returned to Alastair and Diana's table. They had indeed ordered champagne. Two bottles of it, which meant that they could not leave too soon without appearing rude.
He did remove his suit coat then, draping it over the back of his chair. If he was going to have to endure them for longer than thirty minutes or so he was going to do it comfortably. Buffy slid her hand along his thigh again. He wondered if she had any idea how potent her touch was. And it had nothing to do with her being the slayer. He just desired her that much.
As it turned out it wasn't that bad. Perhaps it was downing the champagne or just knowing that there would be more kisses like the two on the dance floor. He wasn't sure, but he found Alastair and Diana rather charming. There wasn't much to catch up on as it were, given the different social circles they had kept.
"I know you said you wanted to be alone tomorrow night. And I can certainly understand. I do remember what it was like to be newly engaged to Alastair. But you have to eat. Perhaps we could have dinner tomorrow evening. Early so we're not battling crowds. Something fun."
The evening was drawing to a close rapidly, the question from Diana stopped Giles. He glanced at Buffy who shrugged her shoulders. It hadn't been a terrible time and he wasn't sure he minded the idea of playacting at being Buffy's fiancé for a little longer.
"Well, if you don't mind taking the subway there's a quaint little Greek restaurant near where we're staying. It's not the same quality as this establishment ambiance-wise, but we haven't had a bad meal there yet."
"That's a great idea! I've been telling Alastair we need to see more than what's here in Times Square. Everything's so commercialized."
"Yes, I'd noticed that, too. Is that all right with you, Buffy?"
After setting a time and exchanging hotel information Giles and Buffy left, retrieving their coats and flagging a taxicab once they'd made it to the street.
"You sure you don't mind?"
"Not at all, Giles. They're not so bad."
"No, they aren't. It makes me wonder if they were that bad to begin with."
"Oh, I think they were. I can see it, they have it in them. Something's mellowed them out."
"Perhaps just life."
"Maybe," she said, sliding into the cab they had procured.
"So, can we finish our conversation?"
"What conversation is that?"
"Oh, something about feelings."
"Ohhh, that conversation." She shifted slightly on the seat so she was almost facing him, her knee pressed against his.
"Yes, as if you'd forgotten. I know you're not as scatterbrained as you'd like everyone else to believe."
"My cover's been blown."
"Well, what do you want me to say?"
"You planned this trip for this reason?"
"Well, not for that reason exactly. I certainly couldn't have known you'd run into an old friend of yours that would make you feel all un-macho. I was kind of hoping," she shrugged.
She let out a sharp breath. "Do I need to spell it out for you, Giles?"
"You'll forgive me for appearing dense, but yes."
"I was hoping that if we were alone like this that maybe you'd notice me."
"Notice you? What makes you think I haven't before this trip?"
"I don't know. You don't look at me very much."
He stared at her in disbelief. Not look at her? He thought there were times he bordered on being too intrusive.
"I assure you, Buffy, I look. I just never imagined."
"That makes two of us."
"If I've kept you at a distance, or appeared to, it's been for my own protection. It hasn't been anything personal."
"So, if I hadn't kissed you would you have?"
"I don't know. I'd like to think I would have eventually, but I just don't know."
"Well, then I guess we should thank them."
"I guess we should."
She leaned in and kissed him again. He groaned softly as their lips parted and their tongues sought one another out in unison. His hand slid to her cheek, drawing her closer to him. Kissing her was better than he'd imagined. A part of him was still in a state of shock that he was experiencing it for himself.
Her hand slid from his knee higher underneath his coat to the front of his trousers. He bit her lower lip as he broke the kiss.
"Buffy," he whispered.
"Be mindful of where we are."
"I'm not doing anything."
"You're doing enough."
"I'm sure he's seen worse. This is New York City."
"Perhaps." He found it difficult to think overly clear with her touching him. He was getting aroused so easily he felt like a youth again. He knew it was her, that he wouldn't react so easily and readily with anyone else. He cleared his throat softly when the cab drew to a stop in front of their hotel. He wasn't sure if he was grateful they had finally arrived or wished the cab ride could have been prolonged just a few minutes longer.
"It would seem so." She gave one last gentle squeeze before drawing away and readjusting. He did much the same thing, though it wasn't as simple for him and reached for his wallet to pay the cabbie.
He took hold of her hand as they entered the hotel. She leaned into him, resting her head against his shoulder. The sound of her shoes hitting the tile floor of the foyer echoed loudly. She wore heels. He recalled watching her walk in them earlier, wondering how women walked in them. He wasn't one to complain, though, they did enhance a shapely leg. And Buffy's were very shapely indeed.
They had the elevator car to themselves. Buffy didn't waste any time either. Once the doors closed she fell into his arms. He didn't need much encouragement to respond. He skimmed her waist underneath her coat, drawing her closer. Her hands toyed with the scarf at his neck, loosening it before she slid them to the nape of his neck. He wasn't sure who kissed whom, and it really didn't matter. He could imagine the picture they would make if the doors opened on a floor that wasn't theirs. He didn't care, though.
The elevator stopped and the doors opened. It took them a moment to part and collect themselves. Giles was pleased to discover they had arrived on their floor. Buffy gave him one last kiss, tugging his scarf so that it slid out from around his neck and off.
"Just trying to give you a head start."
His eyes widened. He couldn't help it. He had assumed things would progress once they returned to their rooms. He just hadn't expected her to be so emboldened as to speak freely about her intentions.
"Very well, if you insist."
"You have like way more than I do. So you need it."
"Are you sure about that?"
She rolled her eyes up as if mentally deciphering what she was, in fact, wearing. "Positive."
His heart picked up at the thought of just how many layers she was wearing. The idea that he would very probably find out for himself shortly was still surreal seeming. She took the keycard from her purse and opened the door leading to his room.
Buffy couldn't believe this was actually happening. It was Willow's suggestion she invite Giles to take a trip with her. It had seemed like such a lame idea, but it looked like she'd have to thank Willow. It appeared all she and Giles needed was some time alone without training new slayers and rebuilding the Council constantly on their minds.
She had tried a time or two in London to talk to him, but he seemed so distant. She'd ask him why later. Tonight, she didn't want to worry about it. It seemed like they were finally on the same page. She wanted to keep it that way. The best part, they had a few days left of their trip. She hoped they could establish something good in that time.
She wasn't surprised when she started to take her coat off to find Giles behind her, ready to do it for her. He was a gentleman in every sense of the word. She couldn't believe the opportunity had fallen into her lap like it had tonight. If they hadn't run into those friends of his she had no idea if she'd have gotten brave enough to take the first step.
"Did I mention how lovely you look tonight?"
"I think earlier, but you're welcome to say it again."
"Yes, good, well, you do."
"So do you."
She still couldn't believe this was happening. She sat on his bed, kicking off the heels she wore. She could practically hear her feet sighing in relief. She watched as he took his coat off once he'd hung hers up. This was followed by his suit coat and then his tie. He rolled up his shirtsleeves and came to sit next to her.
"I had no idea."
"Oh God, I tried to tell you. I just couldn't say the right words."
"It seems like forever. I think I realized it when you came back to Sunnydale with the potentials. I was more upset than I realized at the idea that you might be the First. Which meant, of course, you'd have been dead. And then when I did my wandering Buffy thing I kept seeing your face places I wasn't looking for it."
"I wish I could say I am sorry."
"I'm not. I'm just sorry it took me this long to tell you. Willow told me I was a chicken."
"Yes. I wasn't sure, you know? At first I was just confused and talked to her, hoping it would clear things up. And then I just got more and more frustrated I couldn't seem to get through to you."
He raised a hand to her face, stroking her hair before cupping her cheek. He kissed her. Her eyes fell closed at the brief contact. It was the faintest touch of his lips to hers but it packed a punch.
"I could apologize for being dense."
"Mm, you could make it up to me."
"I could, eh?"
"Yeah." She stood from the bed then.
"Where are you going?"
She turned as she reached for the zipper at her side, showing him what she was doing.
"Buffy, I don't expect."
"Giles, it's not like you just picked me up in a bar or something. I know what I'm doing."
"Very well. If you're sure then by all means, please continue."
She laughed softly, it was really more of a nervous giggle. Disrobing in front of someone wasn't a common occurrence for her. She couldn't remember the last time she'd done it. If ever. She leaned toward him and kissed him. The gown she'd taken great care to pick out for just such a night fell to her feet in a pool of silk. She needed the contact with him, to know that he really was into her.
She slid onto his lap and began unbuttoning his shirt as she deepened the kiss. He seemed unsure of exactly what to do, which touched her. She reached for one of his hands, sliding it to her lace-covered breast. He hissed softly against her mouth and she smiled that she could cause him to react that way.
She had dressed earlier with this in mind. She had no way of knowing for sure things would end this way. She held onto hope, though. A romantic dinner and dancing had set the stage. She wasn't about to let the situation that had fallen into her lap pass. Giles seemed to be in agreement.
His hands moved along her body eagerly as she slid his shirt over his shoulders and off. He wasn't clumsy or overbearing when he touched her. She found how he made her feel perfect. It was a combination of worship, awe, and experience. Buffy loved it and only hoped she could come close to making him feel the same way.
She had to stop kissing him for the amount of time it took her to slide his undershirt over his head and off. She drew away slightly, running her fingers along his chest and abdomen. He wasn't Mr. Universe, but in Buffy's eyes he was perfect. And Buffy wanted Rupert Giles not Mr. Universe.
She worked his belt off, loving the sound it made as she whisked it through the belt loops of his pants. It echoed the urgency she felt. She wanted him. Now. His hands cupped her bottom. She felt his hardness jutting against her and it only served to fuel her desire.
He broke the kiss, finding her ear and her throat. "Giles," she called out. She cradled his head to her as his mouth traveled to the tops of her breasts. She felt his fingertips, working the front clasp and just like that her breasts were freed.
She worked his hardened length free as his mouth closed over a taut peak, circling it with his tongue. She cried out, having to be mindful of how tightly she gripped him. A wave of arousal coursed through her, pooling between her legs.
He lifted his hips from the bed allowing her to slide his trousers and boxers lower. Lower was all she needed for now. There would be time later for slow. Right now, she needed him. She simply needed. She guided his length into her, using her fingertip to push aside the crotch of her panties so she was bared to him.
"Buffy, I haven't any."
"On the pill," she murmured as she sank onto him, taking him deeper. He stretched her, almost to the point of discomfort but after giving it a moment adapted to his size.
She'd done reckless and needy before, but never with the right emotions involved. Pain and self-flagellation had nothing on how heady love felt. Her lips found his, her kiss mirroring the fevered pitch he was bringing her to.
He wasn't gentle, neither was she. Both seemed to know what the other needed and gave it willingly. She was insistent on touching as much of him as she could. His back, his chest, his arms, his face. If she could crawl inside of him, she wasn't sure that would bring her close enough to him. She needed it all.
She wasn't sure who came first and it really didn't matter. They toppled to the bed in a heap, parting only for Giles to draw the covers back allowing them both to slide into bed. Buffy clung to him, still unable to shake the need to be close to him.
"Yes. I was trying to think of something more flowery and poetic to say, but amazing sums it up nicely."
She circled one of his nipples with her fingertip, snuggling against him. His fingers ran through her hair and he kissed her.
"It wasn't quite how I envisioned our first time."
"Oh, God, I think amazing is a great way to start."
"I suppose there is some truth to that."
"But if we start out amazing, that sets the bar rather high for the future."
"I don't think I'll have any complaints."
"That's assuming you want to again."
"Hmm, I'm not sure there's any doubt there."
"Good to hear."
"So, I guess we should thank Alastair and Diana tomorrow."
"I'm not entirely sure I'm going to let you out of this bed long enough to go to dinner tomorrow."
"Really. Now that I have you here, I feel I have quite a bit of time to make up for."
"No argument here."
"You're amazing, Buffy."
"Only because you bring it out in me."
"You think so?"
"I know so."
"So, an entire day here in bed with you. I guess that means you'd break down and get room service."
"Yes, I suppose it would. Of course, we could order in, I'm sure there are restaurants that deliver."
"I'm game. Let's do it. We don't need to prove anything to them anyway."
"I was hoping you might say that. We'll have to venture outside at some point to get some ice so we can chill the champagne."
She kissed his chest, circling a nipple with her tongue. She smiled when he groaned. It made her feel like she was flying to know she could affect him that way. "I can handle that. In fact, I look forward to it."
"Yes?" She propped herself up against his chest to look at him.
"You're sure about this?"
"Absolutely. No doubts, Giles. Why? Are you unsure?"
"Never. I just wanted to be sure. I realize we all have needs."
"Oh, I needed, Giles. I won't deny that. It was you that I needed." She slid her hand slowly down his torso, over his abdomen, pelvis and between his legs. She squeezed him gently, running the pad of her thumb over his tip. "I needed Rupert Giles. No one else could make me feel like this."
"You echo my sentiments exactly."
"Yes. There hasn't been anybody since I realized it was you I wanted."
"Oh, I tried, believing you'd never notice me as more than a stuffy librarian."
"I'd get to a point and see your face and couldn't take it any further."
He cradled her face with his hand. "Don't be. I'm not. You were well worth the wait."
"Thank you, Buffy. I've felt more tonight than I have in years. If ever."
"Truly. I have nothing to gain by lying to you."
She moved on top of him, straddling him. She continued stroking him and kissed him. He slid his arms around her waist, cupping her bottom. He rolled them so he was on top.
"We're going to do it the old fashioned way this time."
"Long and slow," he quipped before entering her. She wrapped her legs around him and fused her mouth with his as he moved inside of her. She definitely liked long and slow, maybe even more than the fast and hard they'd shared earlier.
Buffy woke slowly, feeling as if she was drugged. A night of incredible sex could do that to you she guessed. She rolled over and stretched, reaching for Giles next to her.
"Mm. Is that breakfast I smell?"
"It is indeed."
She opened her eyes to look at him. He was dressed, reading a newspaper with a cup of coffee on the nightstand beside him. He looked incredibly scholarly. And downright sexy.
"I thought you might be. We exerted a good amount of energy last night."
"You sound awfully proud of yourself."
"When a human can make the slayer beg I'd say that's something to be proud of."
"I didn't beg."
"Mm, call it what you will. But I seem to recall the word ‘enough' being emitted from your lips at some point during the night."
"I was trying to spare you from embarrassing yourself."
"Ah yes. Well, in that case, I thank you. Breakfast is warm, it was brought to the room no more than five minutes ago."
"That must have been what woke me."
"I wasn't sure what you'd be in the mood for, so you'll find a little bit of everything."
"It smells delicious. Are you eating?"
"Yes." He folded the newspaper and set it on the nightstand, retrieving his cup of coffee. He sat at the table. She felt his eyes watching her as she slid off the bed.
"Nothing, I'm just looking at you. Am I not allowed?"
"There were no lights on last evening so I didn't get the chance to take you in."
"Oh," she paused at the door leading to her room. She turned to face him. She should feel embarrassed, naked but she didn't. He was sitting there fully dressed but it didn't phase her to stand in front of him without a stitch of clothing on.
She spotted her shoes from the night before and walked to them, stepping into them. She walked to him as confidently as she could, her gaze never leaving his. She saw desire in his eyes as well as a hint of surprise. She was surprised, too. She and Spike had done some pretty off the wall things, but she'd never felt sexy while doing them. She did now. There was something powerful about watching him shift uncomfortably in the chair, knowing she was the cause of it. And for once that power wasn't rooted in darkness or death. This was a power she could wield happily.
"You like what you see?"
"I think that goes without saying."
"Hmm," she said, kneeling in front of him. "I'm not so sure."
"I'd hardly think a woman who looks like you do would need assurance."
She stroked him through the front of his trousers, licking her lips as she lowered his fly.
"Christ, you're going to be the end of me, Buffy," he whispered as she slid her mouth over the length of him. She'd done this before, but had always felt obligated. Like it was expected. It was the first time she'd initiated it with a pure desire to please her man.
"Can we move to the bed?"
She gave him one last lick. "Breakfast will get cold."
"We'll order more."
"All right." She stood and walked to the bed.
"Leave them on," he said when she started to kick off the shoes.
"What can I say? They do wonders for your legs."
He stood, began to remove his clothes with some help from her. "Okay, seeing you wearing them and nothing else makes me want to bury myself in you."
"Are you saying you mind?"
"Are you crazy? Not in the least."
"Good. Because it's the truth. Seeing you normally makes me hard. This just brought it to a whole new level."
She sat on the bed, scooted herself to the head of it and spread her legs. She smiled when a look of pure arousal entered his eyes. She slid her hand over her chest, lower between her legs.
"You're taking too long," she whispered, finding her nub with her finger before stroking her inner thigh.
"God help me, I thought you'd be sated at least until lunch."
"No such luck."
"Damn it all anyway."
"Such a hardship."
"Yes, well, whatever I can do for the cause."
He was naked now and joined her on the bed. She used her leg to draw him to her, making sure he felt the backs of her shoes against his calves.
"Then get over here and make love to me, lover."
"With pleasure, Buffy."
He slid inside of her. Home. She gasped. "The pleasure is all mine," she whispered before kissing him.
"You look happy."
"I am. I can't tell you how great it feels."
"Well, if you'd listened to me months ago you'd be used to it by now."
Buffy waved Willow off and took a sip of her tea. She was getting used to drinking tea and other things about living in London. "Yes, I know, you were right, I was wrong. Is that better?"
"A little. So, what did that couple say when Giles called?"
"I don't know. He didn't really say. What could they say? I think Giles was kind of proud of himself, and that was okay. That's why I pretended to be his fiancée to begin with."
"I still can't picture Giles being anything but confident."
"I guess we all do it. I mean, aren't there people from school that if you saw now you'd want to show up? Unlike me. I can't walk up to people and tell them I'm training an army of girls to fight evil."
"I see what you mean. I'm just glad it worked. Because it could have backfired."
"Well, it worked out. If he hadn't kissed me back on the dance floor I would have just said it was part of the act," she shrugged. "I'm glad he kissed me back, though. And might I just say that anyone who claims you can't spend three days in a hotel room without getting claustrophobic is dead wrong."
"My ears. They're burning."
"Yeah yeah. So, what's going on with you?"
"Mm, nothing. The usual. Working with the coven, helping Dawn with the research stuff."
"I was a little worried how she'd react."
"I knew she'd take it just fine. Anyone who saw the two of you knew something was up. I think Xander might be the one you have to worry about."
It was Willow's turn to shrug. "I don't know that he ever completely got over his crush on you. It's one thing to lose you to Angel, Spike, or even Riley. But Giles is human."
"I'm not saying he's head over heels or anything, but I just think he'll be a little hurt. Just be easy on him. Anya's gone, we just found out Cordelia's gone. He's a little raw."
"Is that why you sent him off with Andrew on another possible goose chase?"
"Yes. I figured this would happen and you and Giles would come back all post-coital, new relationship glowy."
"Yes, glowy. As in, positively one hundred percent gone."
"It looks good on you."
"It feels good. I can't tell you how good it feels. But you know. You had it."
Buffy reached across the table for her best friend's hand and squeezed. "And you will again. Not the same, but you will again."
"I know. Being alone right now is good for me. I need to be focused. I still have a ways to go before I feel like I would be good being cut off from the coven completely."
"I'm glad they're here for you."
"I wouldn't be here if it weren't for them, Buffy."
"Don't say that."
They were both quiet for a while after that. They had both been to dark places. It wasn't fun. Buffy couldn't help but wonder if her state of mind after Willow brought her back was part of the reason Willow had gone off the deep end. If Buffy had handled things differently would Willow have been able to handle Tara's death better? It was something she'd never know for sure. She'd stopped feeling guilty about it a while ago. She had to put that time behind her and move past it or she'd never be functional.
"So, what happens now?"
"I don't know. Giles wants me to move in with him."
"Are you going to?"
"I guess that's up to you, roomie."
"I could find another flatmate."
"I realize that. I don't know. There's a part of me that wants to slow it down a little. I mean, I've known him for seven years so it's not like we rushed into anything."
"I know what you mean."
"Good. I think I'm just going to do that for a while, make sure we fit."
"Do you think you won't?"
"No, it's not me I'm worried about. There are times, Wil, I feel like he's way out of my league."
"What? It's true. I wouldn't know my way around his library of books if you did one of your illumination spells to make me see the path to the book I needed."
"Well, that may be true, but."
"No, buts Wil, one of these days I'm not going to be able to slay. And then what?"
"You can still advise and train. There are drill sergeants in the Army that are older."
"What? It's true."
"I know." She ran her fingertip over the rim of her teacup. "It's just I wish I knew what he saw in me."
"Besides the bravest, most selfless woman he's ever met you mean?"
"Buffy, you are. Even if you don't have a choice."
"I tried to have choices."
"Yes, you did, and you always came back to it. You've sacrificed yourself, Angel, and goddess only knows what else. Again and again you've done it with only a handful of us to say thank you."
"That's not why I do it."
"Which is what makes you special, Buffy. That's my point. And we'll find something for you to do. Then again, maybe you and Giles will get married and you'll be a housewife with kids."
"You saying you haven't thought about it?"
"No, I have. He's the first guy I've thought about it with. I mean, with Angel sure, I thought about the forever stuff, but never anything concrete or real. It was all fairy tale stuff."
"Realer than real. One of the things that made me hesitate with Riley was that I didn't know what I had to offer him. Dying on him before I was thirty? So we got married and had a kid or two and then I leave them without a mother. I was twenty when Mom died and that was too young. So, I never gave much thought to all of it."
"Now you do."
"There's nothing wrong with that, Buffy."
"I just think it's too fast."
"But you're just thinking right now, Buffy, you're not doing anything about it."
"There's nothing wrong with planning or thinking about your future. Especially with the person you love."
"I do love him."
"I know you do. You've always loved him, it's just changed the last year or so. So, just enjoy it. You get to have a future, Buffy. You didn't die at eighteen and Giles knows the risks. You could lose him, too."
"Don't say that."
"It's true. He's been a target before and you know he could be again."
"So, are you going to not see it through because you might lose him?"
"Stop with your Willow logic."
"At least you see that it's logic."
"I want as much time as I can have with him. He's older than I am, so even if we live normal lives chances are he'd be gone before me. I want whatever time I get with him and I don't want to regret a day of it."
"I think that's the kind of thing you need to tell him."
"I think he knows."
"It's still nice to hear it, Buffy."
"I'm not good at that stuff."
"It sounded just fine to me."
"You and Giles would say it better."
"We can't speak for you and your heart, Buffy."
"I know. Oh, I almost forgot."
"I have a present for you."
"You're just now remembering?"
"I would, but I don't think you'd even notice. Head in the clouds much."
Buffy set her teacup down and went to her room. She returned a few minutes later with the bag. "I'm sorry it's not wrapped or anything. Unless you count tissue paper."
"It's fine, really."
"I'd say Merry Christmas, but that doesn't really apply. Neither does Happy Hanukkah, especially considering the gift."
Buffy laughed and took a seat, watching as Willow opened the bag. It wasn't anything real special.
"Giles and I went to Salem one day. It was only like four hours away and the weather was somewhat decent, so we figured why not."
"Buffy, it's great," Willow said holding up the T-shirt. It was a smiley face wearing a witch's hat. "Thank you."
"Oh come on, I wouldn't have gone on that trip if it wasn't for you and your idea."
Willow dug in the bag and found the small box at the bottom. She took the cauldron charm out and held it up.
"I couldn't resist. They've got so much stuff there. I didn't know what you might need as far as like incense or anything, so I just went with the silly things."
"It's great, Buffy, thank you." Willow hugged her and Buffy teared up.
"You're going to go over there now, aren't you?"
"Actually I was. Is that okay?"
"Yes. I was thinking we could see a movie sometime this week, though, if you think you could pencil me in."
"I'll even use permanent marker."
"Nothing but the best for you."
"Thanks for the shirt and the charm, Buffy, they're great."
"I'm glad. I could have gone broke buying stuff for you there, so Giles limited me to two things. And once I'd bought them we had to avoid going in any more stores."
"I'm glad you had fun."
"It was so great. Rockefeller Center, the Empire State Building. It's funny, isn't it? I went from California to London, traveled abroad, only to go back to New York to have the time of my life."
"That's the way it works sometimes."
"Yeah, I guess so. I'll see you in the morning."
"Bright and early."
Buffy put her coat on, grabbed her keys and walked to the door.
"Do you have like clothes and stuff?"
"Oh yeah, that would help. Geez, where's my head tonight?"
"I could take a guess, but I'd probably get in trouble."
Buffy reclined against Giles on his couch as Dawn busily looked through her gifts. Since everyone, including Buffy and Giles, had been scattered around the globe at Christmas they agreed to converge at Giles' house for a belated Christmas party.
The tree was fake, but it didn't lessen the jovial mood felt by all. Giles had managed to start a roaring fire, which was still providing an extra bit of warmth to the living room. He slid a hand along Buffy's arm before grabbing his teacup for a sip.
He could get used to this. While in Sunnydale there was always an air of them versus him. Tonight, the air was crackling with not just the spirit of Christmas but family. Aside from Willow, neither he nor Buffy had gone to any great effort to announce the change in their relationship. Not only did no one seem to mind, but they treated their cuddling as if it had been an expectation.
It was the first time in recent memory that he could remember having someone to share his time with while most of the rest of them did not. The only exception being Robin and Faith. He was usually the single one. He smiled at the feelings the welcome change awoke in him and kissed the back of Buffy's head.
"What was that for?"
"Just thinking what a nice holiday this has turned out being after all."
"It has, hasn't it?"
"Yes, though I think we spoiled Dawn entirely too much. The look on her face says we exceeded her expectations."
"Exceeding her expectations isn't a bad thing."
"Not at all," he whispered.
"What are you two all conspiratorial about?" Willow joined them on the couch with her own cup of tea.
Giles noticed she had placed the cauldron charm on her necklace. He smiled, remembering the care Buffy had taken in picking out Willow's gifts. Anyone who claimed Buffy lacked a heart or was unfeeling clearly had never observed her in such a circumstance. To those she loved there was no question the devotion she felt for them. No one in this room would question whether Buffy would die for them.
Thankfully, Giles no longer had to worry about his slayer dying in the line of duty. Barring an apocalypse of great magnitude, she was here in London training and teaching. As was Faith.
"Yo, B, there are a couple here you haven't opened yet." Speaking of Faith.
"I was told I couldn't until next week. My birthday." He didn't need to be facing her to see the pout.
"Oh, man, doesn't that just suck."
"Yes, because the obscene amount of wrapping paper strewn all over my floor would indicate there was a lack of gifts exchanged."
"Touchy there, Giles. How does she rate anyway? Birthday and Christmas presents?"
He smiled at the dark haired slayer. It was difficult to believe she had once been rogue. Under that tough, tiger-like exterior lurked the heart of a domestic cat. She was still no one he would want to encounter in a darkened alley, but the violent nature that lurked just beneath the surface when she'd first come to Sunnydale years ago was no longer present. She would always be rough around the edges. Street smart with the speech to indicate she'd grown up hard and fast.
Her eyes had lit up at the sight of not just the tree and the presents beneath it as if it was something she'd never seen before. But, also, at the happiness on the faces of everyone when she and Robin had entered the room. It was something she was still getting used to, being a part of a unit. A family.
Who would have thought a former slayer's son would be the one to soften her? One might say tame, but Giles wasn't sure anyone would ever truly tame Faith Lehane. The two were compatible and happy. Happiness wasn't something Faith had been on the receiving or giving end of very often and it suited her well.
Xander and Dawn were looking at one of the comic books Xander had gotten. Giles couldn't help but notice the look in Dawn's eyes when she looked at Xander. He wondered if Xander noticed. Perhaps he was not ready to. Dawn was no longer a girl. Giles knew it was difficult for most of them to stop seeing her as Buffy's younger sister who needed their protection. She was a capable researcher and had taken to walking in Giles' watcher footsteps quite well. She and Robin both had the heady task of overseeing all of the slayers until more watchers could be trained.
Xander was the only one among them who had obtained work outside of the slaying field. Giles pulled some strings and Xander was working in an office. He had been hired at an entry-level position, but was proving himself capable despite his handicap. Giles was proud of Xander and thought if anyone had taken the opportunity to get away from Sunnydale and run with it, it was Xander. The company offered education reimbursement, which Giles hoped Xander would take advantage of one day.
And then there was Andrew. He didn't really fit in with the group, but he had somehow managed to become a part of it. He wasn't the weakling so many thought he was. Easily influenced, yes. Giles had to work on keeping the young man focused, otherwise work would never get done. But with a tight leash, and more than a fair amount of patience, Andrew was turning into a fairly decent researcher.
"Well, it's my house."
"So it is, big guy. More than one, too, that must mean he's pretty serious about you, B."
"Faith," Robin reprimanded.
Giles could tell it was difficult for him to be too upset with her. He had to bare in mind she came from a life where more than one present was more than likely a big deal.
She held up her hands as if surrendering. "All right, all right, none of my business. I get it. I was just saying. I mean, we're walking around like on eggshells or something not saying anything about them. I guess you all are just used to accepting anything that comes your way without commenting, but I'm not. I have to say something. I think it's cool, okay?"
"Thank you, Faith," Giles said simply. "I think it's pretty cool, too, if I may say so."
"See," Faith said, smiling as if Giles had just bestowed the best compliment in the world on her.
"I'd better get her home before she starts going all sentimental on us. She'd shoot me tomorrow if I allow it to happen."
"We'll see you out."
"No, you're comfortable. We know where our coats are and everything. Thanks for everything, Rupert."
"We're glad you could come and were willing to put off Christmas for a couple of weeks for our benefit."
"See ya everyone."
"Good night," the remainder of them said almost in unison.
"You're not upset I'm making you wait until your actual birthday to open your presents, are you?"
"No, I can wait. It wasn't very nice of you to put them out here, though. That's like teasing to an extreme."
"Well, nothing, they're with the Christmas tree and the other presents. Wil, back me up here."
"I apologize for teasing you, Buffy."
She turned in his arms to face him. "I'm already thinking of ways for you to make it up to me."
His eyes widened, surprised she'd said that in front of the others. While they hadn't hidden anything, flaunting where their relationship had gone hadn't been done to this point.
"Yes, well, I will do my best."
"You always do." She kissed him and stood from the couch.
"Where are you going?"
"I was going to get you some more tea. You're empty."
"Thank you." He was still getting used to having someone to look after him and notice details like that.
"I'll add it to your tab."
"Mm, it's getting rather long, isn't it? Perhaps I should cash it in."
"You guys, quit with the innuendos."
Giles smiled wryly at Xander's interruption as Buffy took the cup and saucer to the kitchen. He didn't miss the smile on her face before she'd turned from him, though. He didn't miss Dawn's delighted squeal either when she caught him watching Buffy's exit from the room. She was compelling to watch and very easy on the eyes.
"I think that's our queue, guys."
"Oh man. The night's still young."
"Well, we can continue this party at our apartment, the three of us. Buffy and Giles need some alone time."
"Alone time. They're not alone, they're together. All the time."
"I know, I know. I'm getting my stuff together. Am I spending the night?"
"You can probably have Buffy's bed. Right, Giles?"
"You'd have to ask her, Dawn."
"I just meant, she's probably not coming home tonight."
"You're right, I probably won't be. Why?"
"Xander wants to spend the night. I told him he could probably have your bed."
"Sure. Have at it. I'll just push you to the side if I come home."
"Buffy," Xander said, with a positively stricken look on his face.
"What? What did I say?"
"You can't sleep with me."
"He'll what? Get jealous? Giles?"
"Hmm. I'm sorry to say, Xander, but it would not bother me."
"Well, that's just great."
Giles stood from the couch as Buffy set his fresh cup of tea down. "Thank you, dear."
"You're welcome," she said and kissed him.
Together they walked Xander, Dawn, Willow, and Andrew to the door. Giles kept his arm around Buffy who had a particular glow about her tonight. They hadn't been together as a group like that for some time. Everyone was busy doing their own thing, including them now. They returned to the living room and began to clean up after the present unwrapping. It was such a couple thing to do, Giles basked in it.
"Did you have a nice night?"
"I think everyone did."
He wasn't sure where the time had gone. They had gathered at his house late in the afternoon and it was now after midnight. It didn't seem like hours had passed. It was amazing to be able to spend uninterrupted blocks of time with the people most important to him.
Once the living room was picked up, they moved to the kitchen and tackled the mess that was there. Feeding that many made for dishes, even if he hadn't prepared the meal himself. Luckily, he had a dishwasher and all but a few things went into it.
He took Buffy into his arms once things were to his satisfaction and leaned against the counter. He found her mouth, still a little baffled he really had her. He would never tire of her or grow complacent. He had lived alone far too long, knew what his alternatives were for him to allow that to happen. He hadn't waited this long to think of settling down only to ruin it.
She looked at him with such adoration in her eyes when they parted. It was both arousing and humbling. One look from her could bring him to his knees. He cupped her face with his hands, needing to really look at her for a moment.
"God, I love you."
She blinked and he thought for a moment he had erred. Was it too soon? Should he have held back? He didn't think so. He would not have lies or mistruths between them.
"You've lassoed my heart, Miss Summers."
She placed her hand over his chest and smiled. "Well, then I guess I'd better treat it with the tender love and care it deserves."
"I'd say so. It's delicate."
"That's a calling I will gladly answer." She hugged him, a little too tightly. "I love you, too, Giles," she whispered. It was so soft he almost thought he'd imagined it. "Who'd have thought?"
"I'm not sure how you can top this."
"What do you mean?"
"My birthday. I almost think you're more excited about it than I am."
"I am excited at the prospect of giving you a truly happy one."
"Oh, well, in that case. Count me in on the plan."
"I thought you might agree to it."
"So, was Santa good to you?"
"Yes, quite. He gave me everything I wished for and then some."
"I do have one wish left, though."
"Hmm, did Santa forget something?"
"No, it's about that tab I have to pay off."
"Oh, that." He enjoyed the spark of desire that flashed in her eyes. It aroused him to no end knowing that mere words could put her in the mood.
"Is it quite extensive?"
"Well, we'd best get working on that then. I don't like being in anyone's debt." Her hand was already reaching for his as they left the kitchen for his bedroom. He liked to think of it as their bedroom, and hoped it would be that officially soon. Xander could take over Buffy's place at the flat she currently resided with Willow and Dawn.
"Tell me again what we're doing here?"
"It's a surprise."
"And does it go with this birthday present you haven't explained yet?" She held up the antique looking key. She'd examined it more than once since she opened the box that had held it. She'd never seen anything like it.
"All will be clear, yes."
He stopped at a gated entrance and entered a code into the box at the side of the driveway. It looked out of place, the modern equipment. She watched in awe as the gates parted and they drove along the private driveway. She turned to look behind her just in time to see the gates slide shut.
"Very cool, Giles."
Her eyes widened as she took in the house. "Giles. What is this place?"
"I've only recently discovered it myself."
"Yes. The Council was headquartered in London, as you know, but they always realized a direct attack was possible. So, believe it or not when you thought I was drowning in paperwork I was really trying to assess the situation."
"Why did it fall into your lap?"
"Because I have you. The Slayer."
"But I'm not the only one anymore."
"No, but you're still The Slayer, Buffy. We didn't know what the situation was. We had no idea how many watchers there were scattered around the world, how many had survived the attack. Watchers that perhaps hadn't been assigned a potential yet. Robin, Andrew and I decided we needed to hit it right away. Any sign of discourse, confusion would show a weakness we had no room for."
"The all-powerful Watcher's Council."
"And since I've been with the Slayer for the past seven or so years, I have a lot of texts and scrolls that others do not."
"Makes sense. But what does that have to do with this place?"
"This is one of the Council's properties."
"And I thought you might like to live here."
"What?" They were on the outskirts of London. Not real far, though she wasn't totally familiar with things yet to know that for sure.
"There's room enough for the others if you want to include them."
"Are you trying to tell me something?"
"What?" He stepped out of the car and she followed suit.
They met at the front of the car and regarded the home for a moment. Home didn't do it justice. It was big enough to be a castle. Well, maybe not that big. Big enough. "You're moving me further away from you?"
"Hardly, Buffy. I would live here, too. If you'd have me, of course."
"Oh, well, in that case."
"Let's have a look around. The key you are in possession of only opens the doors inside. It's a skeleton key."
"Okay. I've heard of those."
"The locks on the exterior have been modernized."
"You've been by to see the place?"
"Yes, and hired a cleaning crew to give it a thorough going over."
"Why did it take you so long to bring me out here?"
"Buffy, I only recently discovered the place existed. I don't think you understand how vast the Council's reach was. I was most concerned with money, finding a way to support the slayers so they wouldn't be in the position you were in after your mother died."
"Luckily, Quentin was smart enough not to keep anything of real value at headquarters. He, as all before him, had to know the Council would continue no matter what."
"I bet it'd piss him off to know you're in charge."
"We're in charge, Buffy. I couldn't do this without your help. And Faith's. The opportunity to have a slayer with the experience and expertise you both have is worth more than this home."
"I wouldn't go that far."
"I would. Just think of how better prepared you might have been going into battle if someone who'd actually been there had trained you."
"Okay, you have a point," she said as Giles pushed open the front door.
"There's a building in the back. From my research, this was used many years ago as housing for watchers that were being trained or had completed training and were waiting for assignment."
"Yes. We'd have room to house quite a few slayers. They're not extravagant quarters, but sufficient one room apartments."
"You had those cleaned, too?"
"Why isn't this place vandalized?"
"Well, there's a wall around the perimeter. Someone would have to scale it to get in, and there's a spell cast on the grounds that prevents most laymen from proceeding further."
"Yes. It's nothing harmful, just gives them a sense of foreboding. I'm going to have Willow look into it and see about strengthening it some."
"So, watchers, slayers, and the like are welcome, but non-in the know humans and demons aren't?"
Buffy had no idea how long it took them to walk the house. It was furnished, some of the furnishings were antiques and some were more modern. Modern stopped about circa nineteen seventy, though. It was all very tasteful, though. She didn't know the first thing about the age of something like a house, but she guessed this one was old. Older than old.
They were walking through the massive dining room that could seat an army, and perhaps at one time it did.
"You really want to live here with me?"
Giles smiled as he regarded one of the wall mounted candleholders.
"You are nothing if you're not persistent."
"What? What did I do?"
"I don't understand."
"I was hoping we'd get back to my place before you wanted to sort out the details."
"Oh." She frowned, not really understanding.
"Very well, I see that I've confused or upset you. I'll just get on with it then."
He pulled a chair out and gestured for her to sit, which she did. She took a moment to look at the chair, wondering how old it was and who had sat in it before her. He had a real serious expression on his face and she really wondered what she'd done wrong.
"I was hoping to gauge your reaction to all of this a little better first."
"I'm sorry, was I supposed to react a certain way?"
"No, I just thought, the idea of a house like this, property as vast as this is, a place you know the other girls with no homes would be safe. I just thought that would keep your focus for a while."
He pulled the chair next to her out, but instead of sitting in it moved it out of the way. He fumbled with his suit coat pocket for a moment. Really fumbled, too, which was totally uncharacteristic of Giles. Her eyes widened when he moved to kneel on the floor, taking hold of her left hand. Her heart skipped a beat when he cleared his throat. She was sure if he could have just then he'd be polishing his glasses into oblivion.
"Yes, well, I'm sure it hasn't escaped your notice that I prefer my time with you spending it with me. I know it's only been a couple of months, but a man reaches an age when he knows that something is right. You're right for me, Buffy, and I hope that you feel the same way."
"You know I do, Giles."
He cleared his throat again, taking hold of the tips of her fingers with one hand.
"In that case, I was hoping you'd do me the honor of being my wife. Making this our home. Whether we fill it with the family we have now or make a family of our own would be entirely up to you."
"Well, not entirely. I think you'd have something to say about it, too."
"Yes, well, you know what I mean." She saw his hand tremble as he slid a ring onto her finger, over her knuckles and settling it where her finger met her hand. "Will you marry me, Buffy?"
Tears had already spilled onto her cheeks. The mention of wife and home had started them. She threw her arms around him, sending him off-balance. She toppled on top of him on the floor and laughed.
"Is that a yes?"
"A resounding yes."
"My, that sounded rather British."
"It did, didn't it?"
She kissed him, stopping only to breathe. "I love you, Giles."
"I love you, too, Buffy. I was going to do this on Valentine's Day, but it seemed entirely too common. I wanted you to remember today as special for what it is not because it's a holiday."
"It's the best day of my life. Well, second best."
"What was the first best?"
"Walking into the library my first day at Sunnydale High."
"I would have to agree with you there. It changed my life forever."
"Mine, too." She released him and stood, offering him a hand to help him from the floor. "Sorry, probably got your pants dirty."
"It's all right. I've never done this before, you know. I wanted to be sure I did it right. I was hoping to do it a little more romantically, set the mood and all."
"I think the mood is perfect here, Giles. I would absolutely love to make our home here. If Willow, Xander, and Dawn want to, too, that's fine. If not, we'll come up with another way to fill all these rooms with family and love."
"I never imagined being able to share my life with someone, not completely. It's a wonderful feeling knowing that you not only accept what I do, but have a hand in it, too."
"I know what you mean, and it is. So, let's go take a look at the other building. Hey, we could get married here, couldn't we?"
"Yes, I suppose we could. There's enough room. Buffy, are you sure that's what you want?"
"I'm positive. Mom's not here, Dad's who knows where. I don't need a church. I just need you and my friends. And I don't want to wait months. Not to sound morbid, but in our line of work anything can happen in months."
"Yes, let's not dwell on that possibility. We'll come up with a plan then."
"I love your plans."
"I'll remind you of that one of these days."
"I'm counting on it, Rupert," she said, taking his hand as they left the main house to explore the grounds.
"So, do we have to like do anything to live here?"
"What do you mean?"
"Jump through any hoops?"
"No, the papers are in proper order. Willow has ensured that all of the paperwork we've found that requires legal change of name bears mine."
"Pretty slick having a witch on your side."
"This is like a dorm."
"It's amazing, Giles. We could have used this a year ago."
"I realize that, and believe me I've been kicking myself since discovering it for not getting through things faster."
"Oh, Giles, there's so much. It's not your fault."
"I guess watchers didn't have families?"
"No, not really. Why?"
"All the apartments have only one bedroom and a pretty small living area."
"Well, we were expected to live rather bland existences."
"While the head honchos partied it up in the main house?"
"Something like that, yes."
"Of course, Buffy. I'm on your side, you know that. We'll all work together to make the Council a better, more functional organization that those outside of it are frightened but those in it are not."
"That'd be a nice change of pace."
"We could surprise them."
"Invite them here to show them our new home and have a wedding."
"A surprise wedding?"
"That'd be kind of fun. I wonder if they'd freak out."
"Well, we don't need gifts, and it's just their presence we want. We can have cake and some casual fare to eat."
"I like it."
"Are you sure?"
"Positive. I've waited long enough to start my life with you."
"Very well, we'll put it into motion then. If you change your mind."
"I won't. I do want a dress, though."
"Hmm, that can be arranged."
"Willow and Dawn will just die when they come up to the room and see me putting a wedding dress on."
"I imagine they won't be entirely shocked."
"Well, just that we kept it a secret."
"You really are content with the plan? I'm perfectly willing and able to give you a wedding you are deserving of. Complete with all of the trimmings."
"Content is Buffy."
He kissed her then and Buffy knew that as long as she had him everything would be okay.
As far as they knew, their plan had worked. Buffy's stomach was in knots. The plan for the day was that Giles would send Willow, Dawn, and Faith up to see her under the guise of showing them where their potential rooms were. The house was so huge that Buffy and Giles had their own private wing. They could feasibly go without seeing the others if they wanted to. Not that they ever would but she imagined some people were like that.
She had put on her makeup, had fixed her hair, and had made sure she had Giles' ring. That was the most important thing. She had the ring, she had her dress, and her groom. Anything else was just a bonus.
She couldn't believe she was getting married. Today. It was something she had come to believe wouldn't happen. She heard voices in the hall and walked to the window, overlooking the huge yard. She wasn't even sure where in the yard she was looking in relation to the things she knew. Like the driveway.
"Yo, B, nice digs. You're definitely moving up in the world."
"Buffy, this is so cool. Giles said you wanted to show us something."
"Well, yes, I do. Willow," she said with a glance at her best friend. "Could you help me with something?"
"Sure, Buffy. This is some place. I thought I might get lost coming up here."
"It is pretty huge, isn't it," Buffy said as she opened the door that led to the dressing area. "I have a favor to ask of you."
"Good. I was kind of hoping you'd be my maid of honor."
"Sure. You know I will. Just tell me when." Buffy saw it on Willow's face when she noticed the gown. Giles had promised her she could have a true wedding gown and that is what she got.
"Well, we have about thirty minutes. Do you think with Dawn and Faith's help you can have me ready?"
"You know we can."
"Dawnie, Faith, come in here. This is so exciting. Did you plan this?"
"Yes. We didn't want to make a huge deal out of it."
"But, Buffy, you're getting married."
"I know, Wil, and I can't tell you how happy I am. We just wanted to do it this way."
"You're getting married, Buffy?"
"Oh my God! When?"
"In about thirty minutes."
"No way, B. I never knew you were this impulsive."
"We've been planning it for weeks. It was tough keeping it a surprise from you guys."
"Is that what all those mysterious calls to your cell phone were?"
"And here I thought it was Giles calling to talk dirty to you."
"Well, there were a few of those, too."
"That dirty dog." Faith smiled widely and held up her hand for Buffy to give her a high five. "Phone sex can be smoking hot if done right."
Buffy felt the heat of a blush and turned away. "Okay, guys, enough talk about that. Let's get me ready."
They worked quickly. It seemed too quickly and yet not quickly enough at the same time. Buffy stood in front of the floor length mirror and admired her reflection. She felt like a princess. And she felt as thought she might throw up.
"Would you and Dawn go get Xander for me?"
"You want us both?"
"Sure you bet. Come on, Munchkin, let's go find Xan the man."
"Are you getting nervous?"
"Getting? That would mean I wasn't before."
"This is so exciting."
"It is, I can't believe it's really happening."
"Well, it is." Willow gave Buffy a hug, and Buffy was glad that she'd gotten this time alone with Willow.
"We really do want you, all of you who want to, to live here. There's plenty of room. No pressure and no decisions need to be made today or tomorrow, even. But it would be nice to have our family here."
"I'm in, I'm sure Dawn and Xander will be, too. I can't speak for Robin and Faith. They seem happy doing their thing."
"Yes, they do."
"He's good for her."
"He is. Who would have guessed anyone could be?"
"I've been summoned," Xander said from the bedroom.
"In here," Buffy and Willow called out together. Buffy took a couple of steps back so he wouldn't see her right away. She wanted the shock factor. If Giles had kept his end of the bargain, no one downstairs would know what they were doing here today.
"Wow, some place. Do you need something fixed up in here?"
"Not exactly," Willow said as Buffy stepped into view.
"Buffy. Wow. I. Wow."
"You said that already."
"I get that. I was hoping you'd give me away."
"I, wow. Okay." He glanced from her to Willow. "Did you know about this?"
"Not until we got here."
"Wow. A more beautiful bride I don't think I've ever seen, Buffy. And in case I didn't say it earlier. Wow."
Buffy smiled and kissed his cheek. "Thank you. I think you're also serving as best man."
"Cool. So, does that mean if I object to the wedding as the one giving you away, that I as the best man can step in and marry you?"
The ceremony was quick and to the point. Buffy felt a little foolish when all was said and done to be wearing a wedding gown when everyone else was dressed casually, but she felt that she owed at least that much to her mother. Giles had arranged for a lunch to be catered afterward.
At one time, Buffy had envisioned a huge wedding with all the trimmings. She had sat to Giles' left at the dining room table and couldn't imagine a more perfect wedding. Their friends, their family, had been there. What more did they need?
Giles had surprised her by donning a tuxedo. She wasn't even aware that he owned one. And if she could say so without sounding biased or conceited, she thought they made a very attractive couple. They were in their bedroom now. It was their first night together in this house. It seemed appropriate to start their life together here, where they would live their life together. Raise their family together.
Buffy worked the bowtie from around his neck and tossed it aside.
"I think our surprise worked."
"Yes, Missus Giles, I would say everyone was quite surprised."
"Missus Giles. It's going to take me a while to get used to that."
"Did you plan on keeping Summers?"
"No, it's just that I've been Buffy Summers for twenty-four years."
"Indeed. Perhaps if we have a daughter we can give her the first or middle name of Summer."
"I like that."
She worked the buttons on his shirt, opening it and removing it before working on his undershirt.
"Just slightly. I've never made love to my husband before."
"Oh quite right. Very good. That does have a nice ring to it."
"I thought so." She turned her back to him then, and he took the hint. Her dress was off in no time. She did take the time to hang it up. She'd spent enough money on it she couldn't just toss it in a heap. When she returned to the room he was already in bed. She spotted his trousers tossed over the same chair the rest of his things were.
She crawled into bed, spooning up behind him. Her hand found his and she lifted their joined hands up to look at them in the light. Their wedding rings, his plain gold and hers a bridal set, sparkled in the light. She sighed contentedly.
"So, Mister Giles."
"Yes, Missus Giles?"
"Care to make love to your wife? Or has it been too exhausting a day?"
He turned onto his back, squeezing her hand before tossing the covers aside. She saw how exhausted he wasn't and smiled.
"Does that answer your question?"
"Mm, I'm not sure. You may need to be more direct in your approach."
"I'm nothing if I'm not direct. So I've been told."
"Prove it, big man," she quipped as he moved on top of her. Her legs parted for him expectantly. God, she loved him.
"Those are fighting words."
He slid inside of her, hard, fast, deep. He seemed to understand the urgency she felt to have him inside of her. Her eyes fell closed and she groaned softly, the day's tension disappearing as their bodies began moving together.
"I'm afraid you married the wrong woman. I'm a lover not a fighter."
"I suppose that will have to do. As long as it's me you love we're good."
"No one but you, Giles. Only you."
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com