(This touches on the events in Beer Bad.)
"Good morning." Giles said when Buffy turned to face him. He had sensed when she woke up and hoped that she would look at him. He had taken her a second time during the night. It had been less urgent a joining than their first time. He no longer wondered how Angel had walked away from her. He understood now. He knew the world would have been in imminent danger if Angel had stayed so close to Buffy. He would not have been able to resist her forever. Giles didn't want to. Thankfully, he had no reason to resist.
"You have class this morning I presume."
"Yes, I do."
"I debated about the wisdom in your spending the night, but decided I'd just ensure you were awake early enough to get back to campus."
She glanced at the clock over his shoulder. "Well, I'm not late yet."
He smiled as she rolled to her back, encouraging him on top of her again. Not that it was any hardship. Not at all. In due time he would encourage her to explore different positions. He relished the idea of her being on top of him. Now that he had experienced her, he could imagine it very clearly.
"Just how much time do you have?"
She smiled as she used her hand to guide him into her. "Time enough."
As it turned out, she had time enough to share breakfast with him. He couldn't recall the last time he'd shared breakfast with someone. It seemed rather intimate, homey to study his newspaper as she ate the bagel with peanut butter. She had turned down his offer of cream cheese, which baffled him. But if it was peanut butter she wanted then so be it.
"What do you have planned for the day?"
"Well, it's been relatively quiet I was going to see about cataloging some more books."
"That sounds exciting."
"I suppose not." He removed his glasses and regarded her. She hadn't brought a change of clothes so wore the same thing she had the night before. For that he felt bad, that it somehow cheapened what they had shared. "What did you have in mind?"
"Well, I don't know. I only have two classes this morning. I was thinking I could come back," she shrugged, taking a bite of her bagel.
"If you'd like to come back you'd be more than welcome."
"Are you sure? I don't want to hone in on your book time."
"You'd be a welcome diversion. And I imagine we'll need to work out some sort of schedule. If you plan on spending more time here, that is. We'll both need book time."
"Yes, well, I'm not going to interfere with your studies."
"Not a chance. I should patrol tonight, too. I didn't last night. Somebody distracted me."
"I wonder who that would be."
"Yes, well, need I remind you about all of the times you've told me not to let my hormones rule me."
"That was entirely different of course."
She drank the glass of milk he'd poured for her in record time and brought her empty plate and glass to the kitchen.
"I've got to run or I will be late. I'll see you after lunch then."
"I look forward to it." He set the newspaper down and walked her to the door. "Would you like me to drive you back?"
"No, I'll walk. Thanks." She slid her arms around him. He didn't need her to initiate any longer. He kissed her with no prompting. She grazed his neck with a fingernail and smiled. "Sorry about that."
"You didn't look in the mirror?"
"I'm afraid I haven't yet, no."
"Oh well, it's not really noticeable." She kissed him lightly and drew away. "Have a good morning, Giles," she said before walking through the small courtyard and out of view.
He went to his bathroom to look at his reflection. He suspected what she was talking about, but to see a mark on his neck was a little shocking. He smiled at his reflection, letting his fingertips graze the mark. After a moment of self-congratulations, he set about dressing and planning for the day.
Buffy made it through the morning's classes after going back to her room quickly to change. She met Willow for lunch and had to stifle the urge to tell her best friend what was going on. It was best for now if she didn't say anything. It would be weird enough as it was if she and Giles decided things wouldn't work. If Willow, Xander and Oz knew it would just make things tenser.
"Hey, Buffy. You must have had a late night last night."
"I called to see if you wanted company, but there was no answer."
"So, did you and Giles have a nice dinner?"
"Yes, it was real nice."
"What about you? What did you do?"
"Oh nothing, studied in Oz's. He had practice for a while, which was why I called you."
Buffy felt bad then. She and Willow didn't get to spend a lot of quality time together and she'd missed out on a rare opportunity. Then again, she wasn't sure she would have traded last night. Did that make her a bad friend? "I'm sorry. I'll make it up to you."
"No, it's okay. You're busy doing your stuff. I get that. I'm just glad to see you're, you know, over, you know."
Buffy smiled, taking a sip of her milk. "Yes, I know and I know. Over, done, last week."
"Good. I'm going to do some laundry this afternoon. Do you want to go with me?"
"Uh, I can't today, Will, sorry. I'm helping Giles out with something."
"Oh. Are you sure there's nothing going on?"
"Willow, I'm positive. There's some boxes of books or something," Buffy set her now empty milk carton on her tray.
"Oh. Okay. Because I know you haven't wanted me to try spells and stuff."
"Willow, we're fine. Okay."
"Anyway, I've got to go. I'll see you later. Okay?"
Buffy hated the look in Willow's eyes. She was letting her down. Wasn't she entitled to have a bit of a life, though? Willow had Oz and Buffy was happy for her, but it seemed like whenever Willow had time for Buffy she expected Buffy to be there.
She stopped at her room before heading to Giles', tossing a change of clothes into her backpack after much debate. He didn't have to find out she'd done it, but if she ended up staying the night again then she'd be ready. With that thought in mind, she put the books she'd need for tomorrow's classes in her backpack.
She knocked on Giles' door and walked in when she heard his cheerful "come in."
"Buffy, hello. You look," he paused, seemed to regard her closely and she wondered what he was looking for. "Very good."
"Thanks. I kept waiting for Willow to know."
"Hmm, do you think she did?"
"No, but I think she'd understand my being a little gunshy about announcing anything after Parker."
"Yes, of course. And you brought your studies with you. Good. I won't feel so bad about keeping you then. There's iced tea in the refrigerator if you care for some."
"Yes." She set the backpack down and walked toward him. She regarded the small stack of books he was looking at. "How long have you been working?"
"Long enough I think I'm entitled to a break."
"Great. So, what exactly are you doing with them?"
"Well, I've gained some volumes since I've been away from the library and I need to reference what they are."
"You've gotten that many?"
"Quite a few. The Council is always accumulating new texts, unearthing scrolls and what not."
"That's kind of cool, actually." She walked to the kitchen and poured herself a glass of iced tea, stirring a little sugar in to sweeten it just a bit. "It makes me feel not quite so alone. Someone's out there doing something to perhaps make my job potentially easier."
"Yes, I could see where that might be reassuring."
"I think I'm going to go out with Willow for a while tonight."
"I could come back here if you want me to. She looked for me last night. Oz had practice or something. I feel kind of bad."
"Of course you do, though you've nothing to feel guilty about."
"I know. I thought I'd make it up to her. There's a place on campus, it'd be fun."
"Of course. And you're welcome to come back here. I may head up to bed if it gets too late, but you know the way. I'll get you a key if you'd like."
"That surprises you?"
"I don't know. I mean, no. Okay, yes, a little."
"Hmm, if that's a problem."
"No, no problem. I just wasn't expecting that is all. Though I kind of like the thought of joining you."
"I do as well. So we can both have that thought on our minds while you're out with Willow."
"Thanks, you're the best. I'm going to call her."
"I'll see if I can scrounge up the spare key I had made some time ago. I've never had reason to use it."
It wasn't The Bronze, but when she walked into the bar and saw Xander she felt better about meeting Willow someplace she'd never been before. His ID was something else, but it was so typical of Xander.
"And if you and Willow sit here and talk to me like I'm somebody maybe other girls will catch on and do the same."
"Are you supposed to socialize while you work?"
"Well, no, but bartenders can schmooze."
"I suppose you're right. All right, we'll stay by the bar. I can't stay long anyway, I have to patrol yet."
"Oh," he said, draping his bar towel over his shoulder. He was smooth, she'd give him that. "Anything going on?"
"No, I just didn't last night."
"All right, you know where to find me."
"And here comes Willow. She doesn't look too happy."
"No, I picked up on that earlier, which is why we're here."
"Oh. Girl talk. I get it. I'll stay out of your way."
"Thanks for the soda."
"Hey, Buffy, this was a great idea. Xander. What are you doing here? And why are you behind the bar?"
"He works here."
"He does. Don't ask to see his ID, though."
"Okay," Willow said, sounding like she was on the outside of an inside joke.
"Well, you can ask to see it if you want to, but it will give you nightmares for a week."
"It's not that bad."
"Xander, it's terrible."
"I'll have a pitcher of Black Frost."
"Coming right up," Xander said. He set a soda in front of Willow before tending to the order that would actually bring money to the bar.
"So, what's up?"
"Me? Oh nothing."
"Then why are you here with me looking kind of depressed instead of out with your guitar playing boyfriend."
"I think I might be not fitting in."
"What do you mean?"
"Well, there's this girl," Willow said.
Once she started talking, there was no stopping her. Buffy didn't buy for a minute that Oz was interested in this other woman. Who would choose someone over Willow? Especially Oz.
"It's probably just a musician thing. Admiration for talent."
"Do you think so?"
"Sure. I mean, he's a musician and maybe he has hopes of playing for other bands. Or looking out for bands the Dingo's could play with."
"Oh, yeah, hey, that's a thought."
"In fact, I'd say you should go find him. Put your mind at ease."
"Well, yeah. Are you sure? You asked me to meet you."
"I've got to patrol anyway. And it's starting to get a little too rowdy in here for my taste," she said, glancing over her shoulder at the table of guys who'd been going through the pitchers of beer since she'd come in.
"Okay, say good bye to Xander for me."
"Let me know if you need another pep talk."
"No, you pepped me right up. You're good at that. Thanks."
"Well, that didn't last long."
"She just needed to talk."
"And then she just left."
"I'm about to, too. A little too much of a good time being had."
"Yeah, they're in here every night. They're not usually this loud, though."
Buffy took out some money to pay for the sodas and set it on the bar.
"Your money is no good here, Buffy."
"Well, consider it a tip then. You're a working man now. I can tell you personally how much tips mean."
"That they do," he said pocketing the money. "I hope it's a slow night."
Buffy pulled her keys out of her pocket, ran a finger over the most recent addition to the ring. "Me, too," she said with a smile. "See ya, Xander."
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com