"They wiped you out," Buffy said, picking through what remained of Giles' candy.
"Yes, it would seem they did. I should apologize to you." He poured himself a couple fingers of scotch and made his way to the couch.
"Apologize for what?"
"You wanted to patrol and for the second time in recent memory I dismissed you."
Buffy set the bowl on the table behind the couch and shrugged. "Oh, well, patrolling wouldn't have stopped what happened. So, it's no big, Giles. Really."
"Yes, well, I promise to take you more seriously the next time."
"I wish I could say I doubt there will be a next time, but this is Sunnydale."
"True enough." He took a sip of his drink.
"What does that taste like?"
"Hmm, well, it's not something one can describe. Would you like a sip?"
She took a sip and winced. He was right, it wasn't anything she could describe. "You like this stuff?"
"Well, yes. There are varying degrees of quality, as with any liquor, whether it be hard, beer or wine."
"Hmm. I guess it's all right."
"It's somewhat of an acquired taste I guess. In all honesty, I'm not sure I could survive living here without it."
"Well, yes, I'm not working, thus far you've needed my assistance very little."
"Ah. Well, if it makes you feel better, wanna pour me a glass?"
"You want one?"
"Okay, here have the rest of mine I'll get another. Oh, the TV's there, if you want to unbury it I'm sure there are some movies we can laugh at the ridiculousness of together."
"Sure," she said, setting the glass down. She set about doing just that while he went to his kitchen, returning when she was just about to turn the TV on. "I didn't know you had a TV, Giles. The image I've had of you is completely ruined."
"I'm sorry to disappoint you, Buffy."
"I'll forgive you. This time." She was just glad he wasn't kicking her out. She didn't want to go back to her dorm room. Willow would be with Oz, which would leave Buffy alone and she didn't want that right now. It seemed like she was always setting herself to be used by demons with her feelings. She wished she could turn them off, but it wasn't so easy. Feelings just led to heartbreak. Giles seemed to understand she didn't want to go home and had allowed her to stay behind after the others had left.
"Oh, look, it's Friday the 13th."
"Have you seen it?"
"Giles, of course, a couple of times. Haven't you?"
"I can't say that I have."
"Well, then, we'll watch it. It's a classic."
"Somehow I sense that your idea of a classic differs considerably from mine."
"Yes, yes, I'll watch it with you. Where'd the bowl of candy go?"
"Right behind you."
"There's not much left."
"Hmm, no, there's not. Just the miniature Tootsie Rolls. Figures, you would clean me out of the good stuff and leave those."
"Hey. Still here."
"Yes, sorry, of course you aren't responsible. Xander, though."
"He's a growing boy."
"Don't those people do anything but have sex?"
"While we've had the TV on, they've done nothing but."
"Okay, I get it."
He smiled in spite of himself. She really preferred to think of him as a man with no desires or needs of his own. He couldn't blame her, he supposed he felt much the same way about his parents at one time.
"What? That's all guys think about anyway. Sex. And once they get it, they turn into jerks."
He knew Buffy's biggest fear was being abandoned and left alone. Angel had done it, her father had done it. It bothered him that she had no positive experience to look back on. Everyone deserved at least one relationship during their formative years that left a positive taste in their mouth.
"That's not entirely true. You can't base lovemaking on your experience with Angel."
"At least not just him."
His eyes widened as he turned his attentions once more to the television. The young women and men in the film were dropping like flies. And of course the perpetrator was unstoppable and showed no signs of stopping. Or being stoppable. He couldn't help but imagine what Buffy might be like against someone like this Jason creature.
"I'm sorry, I didn't realize you were seeing anyone."
"I'm not. I don't know. I don't know what I did wrong, Giles."
"What do you mean?"
He watched as she downed the entire glass of Scotch, not realizing what she'd intended until it was too late to stop her. He smiled at the face she made when she had finished swallowing. It was good Scotch, smooth, but to one not initiated in hard liquor he imagined it was pretty potent stuff.
"I'll be right back."
She went in the direction of the bathroom, leaving Giles to watch the mindless violence on the television screen while he contemplated Buffy. Had something happened? Had someone else hurt her? He had no idea if that was the case. The fears she had were planted deep, they wouldn't be weeded out quickly or with a few kind words. He wished he knew what to do. She was vulnerable in ways that he just wasn't knowledgeable about. There were no instruction manuals when dealing with feelings.
She returned to the couch and he noticed she had poured herself another drink.
"Are you sure you should drink that much, Buffy?"
She shrugged. "Why not? It's not like I'm driving anywhere and if I get really bad I can sleep right here on your couch."
He wasn't sure how good of an idea that was. He had the room, of course. The couch was large enough to sleep on. He'd done it a time or two himself. He realized, though, he probably shouldn't be encouraging to drink. She was not of legal age. Then again, if she needed to take the edge off, he'd rather she do it here under his supervision.
"You're not going to get all stuffy on me, are you? I'm old enough to slay vampires, surely I can have a drink or two."
"I'm not sure how the two are connected, but go on. Do you have classes in the morning I need to know about?"
"Nope, I sure don't."
"Very well. Perhaps you can tell me the appeal of these movies. Sex and violence rolled into one, but I don't understand what it's supposed to do for you."
"Well," Buffy said. She shifted on the couch, turning to face him and propping one leg on the couch between them. Her eyes met his. He'd noticed before how expressive they were. "I suppose they're great for dates. Girl gets scared, guy comforts girl, girl get mushy, guy gets lucky."
"Is that how it works?"
She smiled, took a sip of her drink. "I've heard. I wouldn't know. I can't find a guy to stick around me long enough to find out if that sort of thing works."
"You and Angel?"
"No, horror movies weren't high on our agenda. We went to a movie once," she shrugged. "It didn't work out too well."
"So, tell me about this more recent experience."
"There's nothing to say. I met him, he seemed nice. I was wrong, but I still can't help but wonder if I did something wrong."
Giles' first reaction was that whatever had happened it had been awfully quick. He knew for a fact she'd seen no one socially over the summer. And they were only a few weeks into the school year. College was a time for experimentation, he knew that, but it bothered him to think of her giving herself away so casually.
"I'm sure that wasn't the case. These things don't always work out the way we hope they would."
"I just don't get what's wrong with me, Giles. Aren't I pretty?"
"Of course you are, Buffy."
"And while I'm not Willow, I'm smart."
Giles smiled. "Yes, you are at that."
"I mean, I know I'm not going to wow anyone with my intellect, but I can form sentences and stuff."
"Yes, you can."
"And I don't rub it in a guy's face that I'm stronger than he is."
"Yes, some might find that intimidating."
"No, but Angel understood who you were and why you needed your strength."
"But he still left me."
The root of the problem was very basic. "I know, Buffy."
"And now this. I feel like an idiot. I should know better. It took me months to get to the point of sex with Angel. So what made me think rushing into it would go any better for me?"
"I'm sure you didn't rush into anything."
"I did, Giles. I know girls who I thought were just slutty for doing what I did. But I couldn't stop myself. But I really thought," she shrugged, taking another sip. He saw tears swimming in her eyes and it broke his heart. He wanted to hold her, comfort her, but he didn't think it was his place. "I can understand why it would be tempting to just do it and get it over with. If they're going to leave you anyway, you may as well get to the good part right away. Right? Funny thing was, he wasn't even that good. I mean, maybe Angel spoiled me. A couple centuries experience compared to a couple years. But I didn't even get time to enjoy that. Boom. My boyfriend's gone and all of the sudden I'm supposed to kill the man I just made love to. And he wouldn't stop killing for me. He loved me, I know he did, soul or not, but he couldn't stop. He didn't love me enough to stop and just be with me."
"And my dad. Don't even get me started on him. How many times since Mom and I moved to Sunnydale has he blown me off. Ice skating tickets. Graduation."
"I know, I didn't want him at graduation anyway, but he wasn't going to come. My own father wasn't going to see me get my diploma. The man who thought for certain I'd never graduate high school."
Her gaze met his and held, distracted eventually by a peak in the action in the movie. She watched the screen, Giles doubted she would retain anything. Between the heartbreak she was experience and the liquor, he imagined most of the night from the time the others left would be rather hazy.
"Buffy, perhaps we should call it a night. You're still welcome to my couch if you don't want to go back to campus."
She took another sip of her drink. He wondered if she'd heard him. She turned her attention to him once again. Her eyes were intense, searching for something he hoped she saw in him. He could see the hurt, fear and doubt there clearly. He hoped for tonight anyway he was her answer, could ease her mind.
"You would never do that to me."
"Well, of course not, Buffy."
She stretched then and Giles assumed she was going to set her glass down. She surprised him, placing her hand at his shoulder and kissing him. As kisses went it was nice. She certainly was enthusiastic. He was caught, unsure how to proceed. If he didn't kiss her in return she would see that as a slight. And if he did he'd wonder if he wasn't taking advantage of her when she was vulnerable. She was an attractive woman. He'd noticed it before now, of course, but had never thought to act on it. It was just a kiss, he rationalized.
He felt moisture on his shirt at the shoulder and realized she had spilled some of her drink. He drew away briefly and couldn't help but chuckle at her soft whimper in protest. Someone had walked away from this woman? Was he mad? He took the drink from Buffy's hand and set it on the table near the nearly empty candy bowl.
"No worries. It will wash out."
"Waste of good liquor."
"There's always more."
She worked the buttons of his shirt. She was no expert but she wasn't overly clumsy either. He had no doubt undressing someone was not an every day experience for her. She peeled away his shirt and kissed his shoulder. Really, it was more of a lick. Either way, it sent shockwaves through his body. An arm went around her waist as she shifted and wiggled her way onto his lap.
"Mmm, tastes better this way."
"Oh Lord," he murmured. His hand slid to her hair, running through it as she kissed, licked and nuzzled his shoulder and neck. The undershirt he wore didn't seem to pose any sort of a problem to her. He couldn't remember the last time he had a woman seated on his lap in this fashion. College, perhaps a little later, but not since his youth. His body reacted in much the fashion now that it did then. It aroused him. There was something about a woman settling onto his lap, arms around him, rubbing against him no matter how unintentional.
She drew away then, her hair hanging along the side of her face like a tempting curtain of silkiness. She smiled and kissed him again. It occurred to Giles as he parted his lips that he couldn't recall the last time he'd seen her smile like she meant it.
In the background, the slasher horror movie had paved way to something more in line with his tastes. He wasn't sure what movie it was, but from the speech patterns and music he could tell that it was a classic.
"Buffy," he said pulling away. He had to at least try and be the voice of reason.
"What?" She gave the cutest pout. Nobody did it better than Buffy. He wasn't used to being on the receiving end of it in this type of situation.
"You've had quite a bit of Scotch for someone who isn't a drinker. You're tired. Your heart has been on the receiving end of a significant blow after a nasty break up."
"You think I'm using you."
"Well, I wouldn't put it like that exactly."
She brought a finger to her lips, parted them and licked her fingertip. His eyes fell closed at the sight. He was only human after all. Seconds later she had placed a fingertip at his lips, running it over them.
"I know what I'm doing, Giles. Maybe I just want to know what it would be like the right way."
"Buffy, as much as that might appeal to me in the baser sense of things. I'm not a plaything. I have feelings, just as you do, and don't enter into relationships on a whim."
"We've known one another for going on three years. You've seen me at my worst. I've seen you at yours. We've saved the world together, more than once. You've seen my heart get broken. I've seen the same thing happen to you."
"All of which could be construed as convincing arguments, but I can't be sure you're thinking rationally. And our relationship as it is, I can't just have sex with you."
"Well, then, you'll just have to keep me here all night so we can find out in the morning."
"Buffy," he said, grabbing a hold of her arms. She was stronger than him, there was no question of that. When push came to shove, however, he was certain she would see things his way. "Be rational, please. You're welcome to stay the night, here on my couch. This isn't the way to do it, Buffy. I can't give you what you're asking for right now."
"You don't love me?"
"You know I do. Very much. And it's because I do that I can't let this go any further. You'd be liable to hold it against me in the morning. Then where would we be?"
"You think too clearly."
"Yes, I assure you, that thought has gone through my mind a million and one times already in the last five minutes. I wouldn't be a gentleman, or your friend, if I allowed this to proceed."
She pouted, which was almost his undoing. "Okay."
"You sound so devastated. I apologize if I've made you feel that way. You probably won't remember this in the morning anyway."
"Yes, well, let me up. I'll get some blankets for you."
She slid off his lap, he felt the absence of her body against his immediately. He closed his eyes, reassuring himself he was doing the right thing. If she didn't hate him in the morning he would hate himself if he traveled down the road she was looking to go tonight. He stood slowly, grateful she headed in the direction of the bathroom while he set about getting her a blanket and pillow.
Buffy woke feeling like a small country was waging war inside of her head. It took her a minute or two to realize she wasn't in her dorm room. She was on a couch, and with that the night before came back to her in a rush. She clutched her head, wondering if she'd really done what she thought she had. Giles probably thought she was crazy.
She pushed away the blanket, smiling at the care he'd taken to make sure she was comfortable. Always the gentleman, he wouldn't have done anything less. Can't get much more respectable than turning down a girl throwing herself at you.
"Oh God," she murmured, clutching her head as she sat up. She looked out the window. It wasn't daytime yet. If she left now she wouldn't have to face him. She wasn't sure that would be wise. If she looked at him, she'd say something stupid or insulting to blow off her behavior.
She found her shoes. Giles must have taken them off because they were right by the couch all nice and neat like. The condition she'd been in last night, she doubted she would have cared about falling asleep with her shoes on.
She was out the door and on her way back to campus quickly. Her dorm room was empty when she got there. She'd expected no different. She was glad Willow had Oz. She fell onto her bed as soon as she shut the door, kicking off her shoes along the way.
"What am I going to do about Giles?" She placed her hands over her eyes, rubbing her temples. She could pretend she didn't remember. She doubted Giles would buy that, but he'd let her get away with it more than likely. That was the way he was.
"You really made a mess of things this time, Buffy." She'd have to see him all the time. She'd have to look at him knowing that he probably thought she was the biggest loser ever.
Only, he hadn't kissed her like he felt that way. He actually seemed like he was in to it for a minute there. Until she'd gone and taken his shirt off.
"Oh," she groaned as the image played in her mind. "You're an idiot."
So what did it mean? He had kissed her back, but he had seemed to have a line set he wouldn't cross. Was that because he wasn't attracted to her? Or because she was drunk? She'd never given much thought to Giles as a person before. Well, that wasn't totally true. She remembered how nice he looked at prom. He'd look very handsome. In some ways, more than Angel had. He'd put Wesley to shame. He exuded confidence, but it was subtle. No one would know he helped to avert apocalypses and save the world.
Her eyes grew heavy. She couldn't fight off sleep anymore. It seemed the more she thought about what had happened after the others left the more tired she got. Avoidance. She knew what it was, but she needed to sleep before she had to go to class.
Her alarm was going off. She heard it faintly, groaned softly as she woke up to shut it off. Her head didn't feel much better than it had when she woke up at Giles'.
"No more alcohol for Buffy," she quipped as she got up and headed for the shower.
She spotted Willow at breakfast and noticed her friend was eating alone. Oz probably had an earlier class or had slept in. Either was possible with Oz.
"Oh, hi, Buffy, I didn't even see you there."
"Lost in thought?"
"Yeah, sorry. You got home last night okay?"
Buffy bit her lower lip, debating about just what to tell Willow. "Yeah."
"You have your worried face on."
"I do not."
"You do, too."
"Do you think it's possible for friends to become more than friends?"
"What do you mean?"
"Well, like you and Xander when you were," Buffy shrugged not wanting to bring up bad memories. "Well, you know. Could you have had a relationship with him after being his friend for so long?"
"I don't know, Buffy. I really don't. I still wish I could explain what happened. Why? Who do you have your eye on?"
Buffy saw the look of relief in Willow's eyes. She was probably just thrilled Buffy was moving on from Parker. Or no longer mooning over him. She spotted him out of the corner of her eye and for the first time since that night didn't look his way.
"No one. I was just curious. I guess that Psych 101 class has me thinking."
"Are we talking about relationships in there?"
"No. I can't think outside the box?"
"Well, sure, you can, it's just," Willow frowned and Buffy couldn't help but laugh.
"It's okay, Will, I'm not doing extra credit or anything."
"Oh okay, good, because if you were I'd probably suggest that's not a good idea."
"No, just curious."
They ate in companionable silence, talking a little here and there. Both were careful to avoid talking about last night, the words they'd exchanged. Everyone probably chalked the whole deal up to the spell or whatever it was the demon did.
It was early afternoon and Buffy was done for the day. Normally, she went back to her room after lunch and hung out, worked on homework or whatever else needed to be done before dinner and patrolling. Today, she decided to head to Giles' after dropping her books back at her dorm room. She left a note for Willow so she'd know not to wait for her before going to dinner.
She wore her sunglasses, but they didn't do much to lessen her headache as she walked the familiar route to Giles'. Why did people drink if it made them feel so crappy afterward? She hadn't drank that much either. She wasn't sure what two glasses of scotch equaled in terms of beer, but they were such teeny tiny glasses.
She knocked, for the first time since she could remember feeling a little anxious about seeing Giles. She glanced at the dress she wore. It wasn't anything dressy or fancy, but it was flattering on her. She'd gotten a couple of looks walking on campus, too. Her father had bought as an apology for not making it to graduation. She had milked quite a wardrobe out of him for that. Neither she nor her mother had bothered telling him she hadn't wanted him there anyway because of the mayor.
"Buffy, hello. Are you all right?"
"I am, yeah. Can I come in?"
"Of course, sorry, I was on the phone. I'll finish right up. Come in."
"Okay. If this is a bad time."
"Not at all. Just a chum from London."
"Did you forget something?"
"All right, just give me a minute."
"Sure. I'll grab a glass of water. I'm thirsty today for some reason."
Giles' lips thinned and she thought she saw laughter in his eyes. She pondered that as she made her way to his kitchen. She couldn't hear what he was saying, not that she was trying to eavesdrop. She'd never really stopped to think about Giles talking on the phone, having a life outside of Sunnydale and the Council.
She came into the living room and sat on the couch, making herself comfortable just as he hung up the phone. Her eyes fell on the TV, the side of the couch he had been sitting on last night and she felt the heat of a blush rush to her face. She didn't embarrass easy, but this was one of those times.
"How are you feeling?"
"Fine. My head hurts a little, but fine."
"Yes, liquor will do that to you."
"Will you come sit down with me?"
"I sure, of course, Buffy. As you wish."
"Well, no, I don't wish if you don't want to."
He made his way to the couch and sat. "Obviously, I want to. You're not cutting class are you?"
"Nope, all done for the day."
"Thanks for being concerned."
"I'm always concerned for you."
"I wonder sometimes."
"I know that what you did last night was a nice thing."
"Well, yeah. A lot of guys would have taken advantage."
"I could never take advantage of you, Buffy. In any way."
"I know. I meant what I said last night. You're the one man I can always count on. I know you're not going to leave me, lie to me, hurt me."
"That is correct, though I'm afraid hurting one another is a part of life."
"Well, you know what I mean."
"Yes, I suppose I do."
"So, I was thinking."
"Buffy, I will have no problem continuing on as if last night didn't happen. No one but you and I have to know. I appreciate you coming here and talking to me rather than take the easy way out and pretend you didn't remember or it never happened."
"Well, I thought of that."
"You wouldn't be human if you didn't. And I understand you were vulnerable, raw last night."
"Wait, Giles. You're getting ahead of yourself."
"I didn't come here to tell you I wanted to forget it happened or to make sure we could go on normally."
"Well, no. I," she shrugged and glanced away.
"What is it, Buffy?"
"I guess the alcohol helped, but it was like a light switch was flipped and suddenly everything was clear. You."
"I need you."
"You have me, Buffy. Always, you know that."
"No, Giles, I mean I need you need you. I guess I never thought of you like that before last night. And, I know I was vulnerable, but I stayed here because I wanted to. It wasn't about being afraid or safe. Or because Willow has Oz and Xander has Anya. I wanted to be with you."
"All good things, Buffy."
"Well, yeah, I thought so." She turned, slipping one leg onto the couch so she faced him. She had to do that for some reason. "And when I kissed you I wanted to do that."
"Which is fine. You're an adult, and you were recently hurt, though you didn't go into detail and I'm not sure I wish to hear them."
"He was a jerk."
"I'm sorry. Did he hurt you?"
She shrugged. "My pride more than anything I think."
He reached for her then, which surprised her. His hand rested at her shoulder, his fingertips touching the ends of her hair. "I find that difficult to believe."
"Oh, I proved I'm pretty gullible. Demons, vampires, or apocalypses I'm your girl. Matters of the heart forget it."
"I'm sure it's not your fault, nothing you did. Unfortunately, there are some people that feel, well, that's what college is for. Not just the men either."
"I know. I do. And I guess if I'd gone into it just to have sex I wouldn't feel stupid. I just, my relationships before Angel were, well, I mean, I was fifteen. You know? So, I guess my mode of comparison is off."
"No, I don't think that's it at all. I don't think you're made to flit around."
"Flit? What kind of word is flit, Giles?"
"You know what I mean. You're, by nature, I think a monogamous person who wants a relationship with all the trappings and trimmings."
"Well, doesn't everyone?"
"Ultimately, perhaps, but not everyone is on that wavelength all of the time. No. One could argue after not just a relationship as serious as yours was with Angel, but the emotional upheaval you experienced throughout the time you were together you might want to spend some time sowing your oats."
"I don't eat oats."
"It's a phrase. You didn't like flit."
"Ah. So sowing oats is flitting?"
"Akin, yes. Dating, not being serious."
"Well," she frowned. She glanced at his hand. She didn't really like her hair getting played with, but he wasn't really doing anything. Just kind of touching. She couldn't remember him touching her before this. She'd left her hair down today, too lazy to deal with putting it up. Hungover was more like it.
"The problem is, Buffy, you're not a normal girl."
"Thanks for reminding me."
"I realize that bothers you, more than you realize. You were fortunate that Angel knew. Nevertheless, as you discovered with that lad, the Dickenson fan, it's next to impossible to keep your life as a slayer from interfering. Even more difficult now. The flighty blonde routine isn't going to cut it in college."
"You think I'm flighty?"
He scowled at her. "You're missing my point completely."
"No, I get your point. You've told me before, a million times. See, and that's what I don't get. Angel said he left so I could have a chance at a normal life. You tell me I'll never get a normal life. So, why did he leave? And what am I supposed to do?"
"I think Angel felt he would be a hindrance. I can't speak for him, but there were limits to where your relationship could go. As far as what you're supposed to do. I don't know. You had it once, life with someone special in it who knew the things you did. You understand this is not a conversation someone in my position would ever have with a slayer."
"No, I know, I'm not supposed to think about someone specials."
"That is correct."
"But I've gotten a taste for it. I see Willow and Xander," she shrugged.
"And you feel left out."
"Well, kind of. And what about you?"
"What about me?"
"You don't have anyone either."
"For much the same reason. It's difficult to explain my involvement with you, with your friends. Jenny was unique, very much like Angel was, I don't believe I'll find another woman like her."
"Have you thought about it?"
"Sure, from time to time. I wouldn't be human if I didn't, Buffy. And I assure you, I'm very human."
"Then why did you stop me last night?"
"I wouldn't have it on my conscious that you did something on the spur of the moment. Especially, after I plied you with liquor."
"You didn't ply me with liquor."
"Well, your emotions were raw."
"So that means I can't make decisions?"
"Well, no, but our relationship requires us to work with one another, Buffy. I've invested too much time in you, in Sunnydale to walk away because we made a mistake one night."
"I don't suppose that happens often."
"Oh, I'm sure, it has happened a time or two over the course of history, but it's never been documented if it has."
"Hmm." Her eyes met his and she realized how intensely he was watching her. She wondered if he even realized he was still touching her hair.
"What is it you came here for today, Buffy?"
"I just wondered. I mean, what if last night wasn't a mistake? What if I don't want to forget about it?"
"No, you're right, I'm not the type to just date around. And I don't want to hide from someone who I am, what I am."
"And these are merits I should be thrilled that you consider me?"
"Well, no, there's you. I mean, you're you."
"I guess I've always taken you for granted."
"I would agree with that."
"Thanks a lot."
"Would you rather I lie?"
"No, of course not. It's just for some reason last night I realized it. And I saw you. You know?"
"Yes, I think I understand."
She wasn't sure what else to say. She wasn't even for sure what she was trying to say. So, she did the one thing she could think of that would speak for her without her having to talk. She leaned in and kissed him. She wasn't drunk this afternoon and presumably neither was he, so they had no excuse.
His hand at her shoulder slid to her neck, his thumb stroking her throat as she kissed him. She sighed softly, parting her lips. It was an invitation he responded to. Her hands went to his chest, resting there. She felt the beat of his heart under one hand, and smiled as she felt the pace pick up. That was good, it meant he was affected by her, too.
She slid her hands up along the length of his chest to his shoulders, around to his neck, drawing herself closer to him, deeper into the kiss. He kissed well, but he didn't make Buffy feel like she was just his latest interest. She realized now that she should have known that something was missing with Parker. This. She wished she could name it, identify it. If she could, maybe she'd be able to hang onto it. But, no, she didn't have to worry about that with Giles.
His hands slid to her face, cupping her cheeks as he drew away. His eyes had a hazy look to them and she felt a surge of pleasure wash through her. She had caused him to look like that. Kissing her had done that.
"Have you really thought this through, Buffy?"
"Yeah, I mean, I haven't thought about it for weeks or anything, but it's not like we just met."
"Good point, but you might meet with some criticism. As could I."
"Mm, well, I was on the faculty at your high school, I'm much older than you are, and really I'm supposed to act as a teacher, trainer."
"I'm not in high school anymore, Angel was way older than you are, and you can still train me."
"I," he shook his head. "We shouldn't be doing this. A kiss is far enough."
"Giles." He ran the pad of his thumb over her lips, letting his eyes follow the path. "Why do we have to get and be all serious about it? Can't we just," she shrugged, pursing her lips to kiss the pad of his thumb. She parted her lips and bit him gently with her front teeth. "See what happens. I mean, maybe it won't work. Shouldn't we try?"
"I should say no."
"Should?" She used her slayer strength, pulled him down on top of her as she lay on the couch. He steadied himself and she smiled. "Sorry, forgot myself there."
"You did no such thing."
"You're right. You're thinking too hard on this. It's not a math problem or some sort of scientific equation."
"I suppose you're right. And you realize, right, that I'm not Angel. I mean, Angel will forever be what he is, the youthful prime of his life."
"I get it, Giles. Would you stop talking and kiss me again?"
"Very well. If I must."
"It's torture, I know."
"There are a few devices used to illicit pleasure more than pain."
She leaned up and nipped at his lower lip, kissing it to soothe it afterward.
She hadn't really thought over what would happen exactly. She just knew that she had to pursue her feelings, find out what they were. And what that meant. It made sense in a completely bizarre way, that meant it only made sense in her world. She needed someone who knew about the things that go bump in the night. Unless there was another souled vampire walking around, she wasn't going to find it in anyone else.
She tried to push her thoughts aside, realizing her thought process wasn't being very clear. She wasn't using him, but last night had made her realize that Giles would never turn his back on her. He might push her in the right direction or let her try and jump without benefit of a safety net, but he was always there. She couldn't picture that changing. Even with Angel she knew. Knew what exactly, she wasn't sure. Just that something was missing, preventing them from the forever they had almost childishly spoken of.
Giles had done quite a few cowardly things in his lifetime, but avoiding Buffy for the past few days was one of the worst. He wasn't sure why he was doing it, beyond the fact he wasn't sure what she wanted from him. And he was afraid he was willing to go along with her no matter what she wanted. He had over the years engaged in a mutually beneficial affair or two, but there was no way he could or would settle for such a thing from Buffy. There were a multitude of reasons, most important being he had to work with her. He couldn't ask to be reassigned without a legitimate reason and a love affair gone bad would not go over well.
She would never know how difficult it was to send her home Halloween night untouched. And the following day when she had come to him, wearing her heart on her sleeve. As forthcoming as she was capable of being about anything emotionally rooted. He had restrained himself, keeping their encounter to kissing. He had been a teenager the last time he could remember kissing someone for so long without it ending with clothes being shed by both parties.
Oh, he had been tempted. She had worn a cream-colored dress that fell just above her knee. It had slid temptingly higher along her thighs when she pulled him on top of her on the couch. He wasn't used to having to keep such a clear head about him. He had used every ounce of willpower he had to keep his hands from pushing the skirt even higher.
He could imagine what her thighs would feel like. It bothered him to no end to discover she'd fallen victim. From what he had discovered from Willow, the young fellow was a player using lines as old as time to hook and reel them in. He had asked, discreetly of course, under the guise of needing to know what was affecting his slayer. Willow normally took the best friend confidences rule quite seriously, so she must have been worried about her friend for her to divulge as much as she had. Not that it had been much.
Giles wasn't certain of Buffy's class schedule and didn't believe she and Willow had an answering unit at their dorm room. He had a few errands to run, including a stop at the grocery store and the bookstore. So, he decided perhaps a trip to the campus was in order while he was out anyway. He had avoided her successfully for three days now. It was time to act like a man. Perhaps the few days without having to see or talk to him did her some good.
It certainly wasn't that he found the idea of socializing with Buffy abhorrent. On the contrary. He was struck by how attractive she was the first time he saw her. Of course, she had been under age at the time, but that no longer applied. She'd only grown to be more attractive during that time. No, that wasn't it. The age difference while not insurmountable would be viewed as a problem to many, including perhaps her mother.
He was putting the cart before the horse here, he realized. This was assuming they got to the point of having to tell her mother. And theirs was a strange relationship, one not many would understand unless they had to live it.
He walked to his car and drove to campus first. It was early enough he might catch her without having had lunch. Lunch was neutral, informal. And he was thinking like a schoolboy rather than a grown man.
He knocked on her door and was rewarded with her answering it.
"Have I caught you at a bad time?"
"No, I just got back from class. Come in. Is there something wrong?"
"No, not at all. I just realized it had been a couple of days since I'd seen you."
She turned the volume down on the TV she was watching, some daytime soap opera he noticed, and sat on the edge of her bed. "Yeah, I'm sorry. I had tests this week I had to cram for. With patrolling, I haven't had much time."
"No reason to apologize," he said quickly. He was grateful that she hadn't realized he had been avoiding her, but at the same time irritated. "Willow's not here?"
"No. We usually meet for lunch. Do you want to come? There's nothing like campus food to ruin your appetite."
"I appreciate the tempting offer. I have a few errands to run really. I was thinking perhaps you'd like to join me for dinner."
"Dinner? Uh sure. You sure nothing's wrong?"
He smiled. "Quite positive. A man wants to take a woman out for dinner, that's not apocalyptic stuff, Buffy."
"You've never asked me to dinner before."
"I don't suppose I have."
She uncrossed her legs and stood so fluidly he wondered if women practiced such movements. Or did it just come naturally to them? She walked to him and put her arms around his neck. "So is this like a date?"
"I had that in mind, yes. If that's acceptable to you, of course."
"Hmm, I have to think on that a minute," she said in a haughty tone he recognized as being a cross between teasing and pouting. It was hard to believe she was upset with him judging by the way that she looked at him. She looked besotted. By and with him. It floored him, really. She reached up and kissed him. There was an air of innocence to her that warmed him. It was a nice kiss despite its brevity, full of promise. Promises meant for later. She licked his lower lip before drawing away.
"Was that a yes then?"
"Yes, it was a yes."
"Great. I'll pick you up at five?"
"You don't have to pick me up, Giles. I can walk."
"Okay. Five is fine."
"Very well. I'll see you then. Greet Willow for me."
"Sure," she said, though she still hadn't released him. She kissed him again. This was a bit more intense than the first. She parted her lips and dipped her tongue into his mouth, searching for more of him. It was good that she found being the aggressor acceptable, because if it weren't for her they wouldn't be standing here now.
Attractive or not, feelings or not, he would never have initiated a relationship between them. It just wasn't in him to do it. She apparently found it acceptable and as they were both adults, capable of making a rational decision why fight it.
He broke the kiss, not at all pleased to do it but he had to remember where they were and that Willow could walk in at any moment. He had no idea if her thoughts had ventured past him and to how this might affect the others they knew.
"I'll see you at five then."
"Any hint on where we're going? How I should dress?"
"I trust your judgment, you're always quite fashionable."
"Of course dresses are always nice."
"Hmm, I'll see what I can work out."
"Enjoy your lunch then. Or were you leaving right now? I'll walk with you if you'd like the company."
He opened her door as she grabbed her purse and followed him out, drawing the door closed behind them.
"Can I ask what brought this on?"
"Inviting me to dinner."
"I need an excuse?"
"Well, no, it's just that you haven't ever before."
"No, I suppose I haven't. I just wanted to."
"Okay, good enough. Far be it from me to look the gift horse that is anything but on campus food in the mouth."
"Yes, we'll come up with something better."
"This is where we split. Food is that way."
"Okay, Buffy, I'll see you later then."
She kissed him on the cheek. "I'm glad you came by. See ya," she said with a casual wave before heading in the direction opposite the way he needed to go. He watched her for a moment, wondering if she had any idea how many heads she turned. He doubted it. She wasn't vain, at least not overly so and didn't have confidence enough to be conceited.
He returned shortly before five o'clock and made his way once again to her dorm room. For a town with Sunnydale's rather average population the campus was bursting at the seams with activity each time he'd had occasion to visit. He was surprised when Willow answered the door. It made sense she would since she was Buffy's roommate so he wasn't sure why it surprised him.
"Willow, good evening."
"Hey, Giles." She frowned, glancing at him as if confused.
"Hi Giles," Buffy called from where she sat on her bed. He watched, intrigued as she slid a pair of boots over her feet one at a time.
"Buffy, good evening."
"Is there something wrong?"
"What? Why would you think that?"
"Well, I know I've been busy and not helping so much lately, but you know if something's going on I'm happy to pitch it. Oz, too."
"Oh, no, nothing at all, Willow. You're fine."
"I'll be back later, Will," Buffy said as she grabbed a jacket and draped it over her arm.
"Yeah, um, okay. Have fun."
"So, do I pass inspection?" Buffy asked once they were outside of her dorm.
"Oh, yes, of course." It was more than suitable. The white tank top fit her like a glove. The black skirt was about the same and much shorter than the dress she'd been wearing the other night. Lord, help him. The jacket she had brought wouldn't offer her much warmth. And the boots he doubted were designed with comfort in mind. All together, though, she made a fetching picture. "You look very nice."
"Thanks. So do you."
"Well, I'm not wearing anything I don't normally wear."
"Me neither really."
"Did you tell Willow we were having dinner?"
"I told her I was going out for dinner. I didn't mention who with."
"Any particular reason why not?"
"No, other than not wanting to make her feel left out."
"Ah, yes, right, of course," he said and opened the door for her when they got to his car.
"So where are you taking me, Giles?"
"You'll just have to be patient."
"Patience isn't my strong point."
"Don't I know it," he muttered with a smile as he closed the door once she was seated.
He hadn't been sure what Buffy expected from his invitation. He had thought about where to take her while running his errands. He had finally decided while at the grocery store that a dinner at home would suit them. If she was surprised when he brought her there, she gave no indication of it.
She had draped her jacket over the back of his desk chair and walked to the table. He had set the scene quite perfectly. Or so he had thought. She seemed to think so, too. He had watched from the door as her fingertips grazed the stem of a fork and the ridge of the dinner plate. He had set the table for the first time in quite some time. Place settings for two, candles, a fresh tablecloth with napkins that matched, and fresh flowers in the table's center all served to complete the picture and the mood he had aimed to set. He had chosen Ella Fitzgerald for dinner. Normally, he would have chosen classical, but figured Buffy might find it tedious.
"It was very good, Giles. And everything looks great. I can't believe you went to all this trouble for me."
"I'm glad you approve. And I assure you it was no trouble."
"I can't say anyone's ever cooked dinner for me before."
"Well, we had to eat, right?"
"Right," she said. "Can I help with anything?"
"No, the dishes can wait until later."
"Are you sure?"
"Positive, Buffy, I invited you to dinner not to work. I hope you don't mind I opted to cook instead of taking you out."
"Not at all. Why would I?"
"I asked you to dinner."
"This is dinner."
"But my invitation implied out."
"I'm out." She shrugged and spun the wineglass in her hand by the stem. "I think you're worrying too much."
"I'm afraid I'm not very good at this."
"Maybe you're thinking or trying too hard."
"Perhaps you're right."
"I mean, it shouldn't be like a job or anything. If that's what it seems like."
"No, it's not that. It's just picking you up tonight, I realized it might cause some interesting situations with the others."
Buffy shrugged. "It's not like we're picking out curtains or anything. They don't have to know anything until we know. Do they?"
"I won't lie to them."
"I'm not saying we should, but people don't always instantly tell their friends the minute they start dating someone."
He quirked an eyebrow at her and refilled their glasses.
"Well, okay, sometimes they do, but we're entitled. Besides, it's you who's been ingrained in my head not to hide things from."
He stood then, pulled her chair out for her and walked with her to the couch. He left the lights out, instead lighting more candles he had bought earlier.
"I suppose you would probably be ending this date at The Bronze or your campus' equivalent."
Buffy shrugged, gripping her glass with both hands. "I guess, yeah. Last one was a frat party. If I never see another one of those I'll be happy."
"Yes, rather trite, aren't they?"
"Well, we weren't summoning demons to possess us."
He rolled his eyes, though he supposed he deserved it. "Touché, Buffy."
He was startled when she leaned against him. He wasn't sure why that would at this point when she'd kissed him more than once. It suggested intimacy whereas kissing didn't so very much. He slid his free arm under hers, resting it at her abdomen.
"I like this."
"What?" he asked, not sure what she was referring to.
"Oh, yes, I admit I was in a bit of a quandary choosing the music. Classical I thought you might find too boring, at least the choices I have that are suitable for dinner. Ella is one of those artists that are rather suitable for most occasions. Transcends time."
"I guess you're not so stuffy after all. I didn't picture you'd have anything like this."
"I'll have you know, I have quite the record collection. Vinyl I mean. I've been told by Oz and others that some are worth quite a bit of money."
"Huh. Would you ever sell them?"
She leaned up slightly, regarding him over her shoulder. "Not even if you were desperate?"
"No. I'd be selling a piece of my past, my life. I couldn't do that."
"Good," she said and reclined against him once again.
It was times like this he wished he was witty or full of mundane topics. He had always been fond of Buffy, but slayer activities aside they'd never had much occasion to talk. Who was he kidding? He failed miserably when dealing with Jenny as well. He just wasn't an overly confident man when it came to women.
"I'm glad you approve."
"Well, I wasn't saying it like that. I just meant, that's good. I don't have a lot of stuff left from LA. We moved, downsized. You know how it goes. There are a few things, pictures mostly. Stuff is important."
"Hmm, I'm surprised you realize that already."
"Well, I guess it's being around you, seeing the books and things you have. And Mom's art gallery."
"Yes," he said and kissed the top of her head.
She turned ever so slightly, enough so that she was nearly facing him while still resting against him. She smiled, tucking some hair behind her ear. He saw a little shyness in her eyes and was baffled she'd feel that way in his presence. Then again, he did, too. Her shirt rose slightly with the movement and he felt the warmth of her skin under his hand.
"Hi," she whispered.
"Hello. Are you well?"
"I could be better."
Her answer couldn't have surprised him more. "I'm sorry?"
"Set your glass down."
"All right," he said, doing just that. She handed him hers and he set it aside as well.
"That's better," she said as she closed the distance between them and kissed him. It was like a jolt of electricity coursing through his system. They'd only kissed a few times, but he doubted the feeling she generated in him would lessen if it were the thousandth time. She was hesitant, not overly confident, and a little frightened all at the same time. He found it both endearing and oddly arousing. How long had it been since he'd been with a woman with virtually no experience.
World and life experiences, Buffy was ahead and then some. But physical experience that was not the case. He relished it, like an intoxicating beverage. He waited for that intoxication to take over. Answering his silent prayer, she deepened the kiss. Their lips parted and he welcomed her into his mouth.
His hands slid along her abdomen and waist. He heard a soft groan as he grazed the underside of a breast with his thumb but couldn't be sure who it had come from. The fact that with the touch he'd discovered she was not wearing a bra made him believe it was him. He could feel how toned her body was. She was strong, deceptively so, yet she was soft and smooth to the touch. There was nothing remotely hardened or unfeminine about her.
She murmured his name as she turned into him, her fingers working the buttons on his shirt with a bit of difficulty. He felt her absence immediately once she'd broken the kiss. His lips felt cold, his mouth empty without hers.
"You're not going to accuse me of being drunk tonight, are you?"
"No," he whispered with a slight chuckle. "I'm a gentleman, but I'm not so sure I'm that much of one."
"Mm, good to know," she whispered before taking his lower lips in between her teeth. This time he was sure he groaned as she rolled his lip between her teeth, grazing it with her tongue as she did. His shirt unbuttoned, she slid her hands from his abdomen up his torso peeling the shirt away as she went.
Her mouth dropped to his chin, his jaw, lower still leaving a trail of damp kisses along his throat to his collarbones. She shifted again, lifting her lithe body off the couch. He didn't need her prompting to slide further onto the couch. On the same wavelength, she straddled him almost immediately after he moved.
He prided himself of being able to exercise a great amount of control, but feeling her body pressed against his, her lips dancing intimately on his skin negated that. He slid the tank top she wore up along her torso, his fingertips grazing her skin. Straddling him as she was he had no doubt she knew what this was doing to him. Her gentle shift, wiggling of her hips was just about his undoing.
She drew away, crossing her arms in front of her and shedding the tank top. She dropped it to the floor, not seeming to be at all embarrassed or shy about him looking at her. She was a remarkable sight and certainly knew she had no reason to think otherwise. Not entirely sure he had the right to, he reached for her, cupping her breasts with his hands.
She let out a soft gasp as he stroked her. Her head fell back and she arched into his touch. He smiled, finding her response arousing as hell. She had just enough to offer a man. Some men went for breasts that could serve as life preservers. He was of the mind that enough to fill your hand was more than adequate. Really, what was there to do with more?
Her fingers traced random patterns on his chest. She had a disadvantage, though, in that she'd have to remove his button-up shirt before his undershirt could come off. That meant unless she wanted him to stop she was stuck with him fully clothed for now.
"That'll work," he said with a soft chuckle when she became resourceful. Who needed to remove a shirt when it could just be hiked up as high as possible? She was aggressive in a gentle sort of way.
"I just need to tell you, Buffy, I didn't bring you back here, make dinner here instead of taking you out somewhere for this purpose."
She laughed then, her head drop back into place so she could look at him. "I wouldn't care even if you had, but I know. Thank you. And I'm not drunk. I do have a confession to make, though."
She leaned forward, pressing her bare chest against his. "I dressed with you in mind."
He swallowed and she laughed softly, kissing his Adams apple. "Really?"
"Yes. No bra."
"You hardly need one."
"Thanks a lot," she murmured, placing another kiss at his throat.
"That's not how I meant it. You are quite fit, a restraint is not necessary."
She slid her mouth to his ear, "I know," she whispered, the words breathy and seductive sounding.
"Of course you do." He wondered what else she might have worn, or not worn, for him but refrained from asking. For the time being anyway, he had to let Buffy set the pace. With her lying on him as she was, he slid his arms around her waist, tracing her spine with his fingertips. He chuckled softly when she shivered under his touch.
He ventured lower, cupping her bottom with his hands. She bit his neck when he did. It wasn't hard enough to cause pain or discomfort. Still he slid his hands lower, thoughts of her setting the pace vanished for the most part. He was giving into the moment, the feeling, both things he rarely did. He felt her thighs, bare to his touch and groaned softly, his arousal growing even more. Her mouth was busy against his neck, sucking and nipping.
Only when he slid his hands up again, pushing the hem of her skirt up in the process did she still. His thumb grazed a buttock and his eyes shot open when he felt nothing but skin. She was watching him and smiled when he looked at her.
"Not completely, no. I'm not that daring."
He glanced over her shoulder, was able to see her bare bottom with a string of fabric between her cheeks. "Daring enough."
"You don't like it?"
"I didn't say that."
She chuckled and sat up again so all that only a thin piece of satin kept her from being bare to him. "Hmm, you sure? Because I can take back all the other pairs I bought."
"No, no. We wouldn't want to put the saleslady out."
"We wouldn't want that."
"Would you like to move upstairs?"
"I thought you'd never ask."
"Yes, well, I can be rather dense at times."
"You don't have to agree so quickly," he said as she slid off the couch. She picked up her top but didn't put it on, which he was glad of. She smoothed out her skirt, but didn't really bother pulling it down more than it had fallen naturally when she stood.
Buffy ran her fingers through her hair and watched as Giles headed up the stairs leading to his bedroom. She really hadn't planned on things going this far. She had been open to the idea, sure. It's not like she just met him or anything. And he didn't seem to mind.
She dropped her tank on a chair when they got to his room and sat on the edge of his bed to take off her boots. She shut her eyes, mentally chiding herself for just about making love to him on the couch with half her clothes still on. Just a quick flick of her wrist, his pants would have been unfastened and it would have been easy.
That wasn't what she wanted, though, and Giles didn't either evidently. That made her happy. Her boots off she regarded him as he pulled the comforter and sheet back on the bed. Realizing she probably looked stupid standing there with just her skirt on she reached around behind her to unzip it, letting it fall to her feet. She didn't bother picking it up. Instead, she walked to the bed and crawled onto it, padding across it on all fours like a cat.
"I think you're way overdressed." She slid his outer shirt off, laughing when she had to undo the buttons at his wrists to get it all the way off. His undershirt came next and then she reached for the waist of his pants.
Her eyes met and held his as she unbuckled his belt, sliding it through the loops and dropping it to the floor. "So formal," she whispered and kissed his stomach. He breathed in sharply when she circled his belly button with her tongue, working the fastening of his pants.
Once she had gotten Angel past the point of insisting they shouldn't she had pretty much relinquished control to him. With Parker she'd been trying too hard and hadn't been herself. Tonight, she was Buffy and Giles accepted that. Accepted her.
She took him into her hand, cupped and stroked him. She watched as she did it. This was no time to be shy or pretend to be coy about anything. He was hard and felt good in her hand. She could feel the veins as her hand stroked him. It fascinated her.
A hand slid to his thigh and she leaned in, taking him into her mouth. She heard him cry out and her body reacted. It was a turn-on, knowing she was turning him on. She'd never done this before, so while it was all guesswork it seemed fairly logical. His hands moved through her hair as she sucked and licked his length. After a few minutes he drew her mouth away.
"Buffy," he said and sat on the bed.
"Was I not doing it right?"
"No, no, God Buffy," he let out a light laugh. He touched her cheek, sliding his hand to her neck and drawing him closer. "On the contrary you were doing it very right. I'm afraid it's been some time, I'd rather make love to you."
"Oh, okay." She believed him. Anyone else she might have wondered or held onto a little sliver of doubt. Giles had no reason to lie to her. She slid her thong off before she slid next to him on the bed and stretched out beside him. "Better?"
"Yes, much. You're lovely, Buffy, beautiful. I can't recall anyone as beautiful."
"It's the truth," he whispered before leaning in to kiss her. It was the first kiss he'd initiated. Her arm went around his neck and she rolled onto her back, momentum taking him with her.
"Whoops. How'd you get there?"
"Hmm, how indeed."
"Since you're there."
"You had something in mind?"
She lifted her hips, arching into him so he could feel how ready she was for him. It seemed like she'd been waiting for this forever. And maybe she had been. She groaned when she felt his hand slide between their bodies, cup her before entering her with a finger.
"Ah yes, you definitely had something in mind."
"Uh huh," she murmured. She didn't think it was possible to be more ready, but the more he stroked the readier she became. He knew what he was doing, too. Sliding deep into her, pulling out until little more than the tip of his finger remained in her. She shifted her hips in an effort to get him back in when he did that. Meanwhile, his thumb was working her nub, bringing her closer to the edge.
It was only after he'd brought her release twice that he entered her. If she'd told him she felt like she'd come home it would have sounded incredibly cliché. But she felt that way, felt a connection to Rupert Giles she'd never felt before. Having him in her, making love to her, kissing her only served to bring him closer.
"Mine," she whispered once he had achieved his release.
She kissed him, running her fingers along his lips. He was still on top of her, inside of her. "Mine," she repeated.
He smiled then, nipped her fingertip. "If you want me to be."
"Very well, if you insist."
"Mm, I do. And if you don't give me what I want I can beat you up."
"Lest I forget."
He lowered his mouth to hers, kissing her. It was gentle, light, barely a graze of his lips but it spoke to her clearly. He wasn't going anywhere unless she wanted him to.
**Part Four** (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 a lot of quality time to spend 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 not, 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."
It had been a while since Buffy looked forward to the end of patrol instead of the actual patrolling. After Angel left it was all she'd had. And then again after Parker. She wasn't sure what that said about her that when her heart took a beating she wanted to go out and kill things. The night had taken longer than she would have liked, but since she had not patrolled the night before she tried to make up for it. So, it was pretty late when she finished.
She was standing just about at the halfway point between Giles' and campus. Her backpack was at his place, so she'd have to get it one way or another. Tomorrow was Saturday, though, so she could have just gone to her dorm and gotten it over the weekend. But she hated the idea of having to go somewhere on the weekend.
"Well, I guess that makes the decision." Maybe she'd left the backpack there for a reason. She found the door locked, which wasn't surprising. She pulled the keys out of her pocket and struggled a little getting it to work. She did manage, though. Her eyes fell on her backpack. He had propped it up against the edge of his desk on the floor.
She thought about getting it and just heading back to her room. He had said he'd look forward to her joining him and she had liked waking up next to him. She'd never done that before. And what was more, she'd made love to someone who didn't turn into a creep afterward.
She walked upstairs and pushed open the door to his room. Making her way to the edge of the bed she watched for a minute as he slept. He looked so peaceful. She'd never given much thought to how he slept or that the things she went through were equally hard on him. She bent down and kissed his forehead before going to his bathroom to get ready for bed.
"Yeah, Giles. Were you expecting someone else?"
"Not tonight, no. I thought I was dreaming for a minute."
"Is it very late?"
"Pretty much, yeah. You can't get after me for slacking tonight."
"I don't think I've gotten after you for quite some time."
"No, you haven't actually. I'll be right out."
"I look forward to it."
She caught herself smiling as she walked to the bathroom, returning a few minutes later. She wore one of his shirts. He'd left it for her, evidently realizing she wouldn't have thought to bring something to sleep in.
"Well, I can definitely say you do wonders for my shirt."
"You like it?"
"You're welcome. You don't need to wear it if you don't wish to, but I didn't want you to think I suggested you come back here just for sex."
"I didn't think that."
"Good. So, how's Willow?"
She told him about Willow's insecurities. It was odd being so forthcoming with him. She was talking to him as she had Angel, confiding in him. Like a boyfriend. A very foreign concept but it felt okay to her.
"You know, Buffy, you should be prepared that they may break up."
"Get out of here, Giles. They're perfect for one another." She sat on the bed, crossing her legs, finding the thought of there not being an Oz and Willow disturbing.
"Yes, well, as much as you may think so, it's not uncommon for high school sweethearts to grow apart."
"But they're more than just high school sweethearts. He's a werewolf and she knows that."
"Yes, you're right, it might be difficult for someone else to understand that about him. I don't know. I just want you to be prepared for the possibility." He stifled a yawn and Buffy knew she should let him get back to sleep. She needed it, too.
"I'm sorry to wake you. You were sleeping so peacefully when I got here, too."
"It's okay, Buffy, I rather enjoy talking with you, even if it is close to two in the morning."
"And since it's Saturday I can stay until you kick me out."
"Now there's an appealing thought. I can assure you I won't be kicking you out anytime soon."
"You don't think so? You might get bored."
He scoffed, placed his hand on her knee. "I think not."
"If you insist."
"So, we can lounge around all day."
"If you'd like."
"I do like. And you said I look good in your shirt."
"You plan on wearing it all day?"
"I guess I can't see any reason not to. Although I may not get much work done. I'm only human after all, and you look quite lovely in it."
"Oh well, it's the weekend. You work too much. And if I really distract you I could just stay up here or something."
"Hmm. I'm not sure that would help."
"Tough choice." She slid under the covers, curling against him. "Good night, Giles."
"Good night, Buffy."
She woke in the morning to find him there beside her for the second time in a row. He had no idea how much that meant to her. Or maybe he did. He was pretty sensitive about things, even if he never admitted to knowing stuff.
She stretched and glanced at the clock. It was late, even for her. Of course, it had been pretty late when she went to sleep. She was surprised he slept this late. Maybe she was a bad influence on him. Or maybe he just needed the sleep. She slipped out of bed, careful not to disturb him and headed to the bathroom for a shower. She would have taken one last night since she'd patrolled but didn't want to bother him. She peaked out into the room when she was done, toweling her hair and smiled when she saw he was awake.
"Good morning, sleepy head."
"I'm not sure what got into me."
She put her hair up in the towel and walked to the bed. "It's okay to sleep in once in a while, Giles."
"Right, of course it is, I just don't do it often."
"All the more reason to do it."
"You smell nice."
"Well, thanks. That would be the showering thing I did."
"I don't recall my soap smelling that nice on me."
"Oh well, I think it does."
"I stand corrected then. You really plan on lounging around in nothing more than my shirt all day?"
"That's the plan. In fact, I was thinking of studying right here in bed. Would that bother you?"
"Not at all. Make yourself comfortable and at home."
"Oh, speaking of," she said walking to her clothes from the day before. "Before I forget to give your key back to you."
"You heard me."
"What? It's not as if we just met. And unless I'm seriously mistaken I imagine you'll be spending a good deal of time here."
"Late nights like last night after patrols won't be unusual. So, keep it."
"Wow, okay. You're sure?"
"Absolutely. Unless it bothers you. I'm not suggesting you move in tomorrow or implying you need to use it every night. It just makes sense for you to have it."
"Buffy, what is it?"
"I just don't want you to think I expect this. Or that I'm using you for a place that isn't my dorm."
"You'd stay with your mother if that was the case. And I know you weren't expecting it. I wasn't really either to be honest. It just makes sense. As last night is proof of we're capable of just sleeping together and I'm sure there will be nights your patrols bring you here later than last night."
"I've never woken up to someone before."
"What?" He look confused now and she imagined it was a rather sudden change in subject.
"I haven't. You're the first. My night with Angel, he'd left and when I saw him again he had lost his soul. Parker, I guess it was morning, but well."
"Yes, I understand."
"Thanks. Anyway, I just never got that before. I can understand now I guess why Willow's so afraid of losing Oz."
"That's very flattering, Buffy. I'm sure Willow would get through a breakup, just as you have. And will again."
"You breaking up with me already?"
He chuckled. "Hardly. You know what I mean."
"Yeah, I think I do. It's nice."
"Waking up to you."
"I enjoy it as well, so you're not alone."
"I'm going to go make a bagel or something. Do you want anything?"
"You could start the coffee if you were so inclined."
"All right. Coffee I can do."
"I'll join you shortly."
Buffy did end up taking her books upstairs, feeling kind of in the way with Giles and his organizing. And, she had to admit, his bed was comfortable. It was nearing dinnertime and Giles had come up a while ago to ask what she was in the mood for. He put in an order for Chinese delivery and she was about to head downstairs. She glanced at her key ring on the table near her clothes. She liked it here, liked knowing Giles was right downstairs. It was a different feeling than living with her mom. She supposed that meant something, but she didn't want to think about it now.
She was the last to finish eating. Giles hadn't eaten that much and was sitting on the couch reading. Go figure, she mused as she cleared off her plate.
"Whatcha reading?" He showed her the cover of some foreign looking research book. "Oh."
"Yes, well, as dry as it may appear there's some fascinating information in it. I doubt it will come in handy in Sunnydale, but one never knows."
"So, nothing pressing?"
"Nothing requiring your undivided attention?"
"No," he replied.
She took the book from him, setting it on the desk behind him and then straddled him. "That's good."
She kissed him, taking one of his hands and sliding it to her breast. He took a deep breath, which she took advantage of meeting his tongue with hers. His other hand moved behind her, lifting the tails of the shirt so he could touch her skin to skin. He groaned into her kiss when he discovered she really wasn't wearing anything but his shirt.
"No, not at all. I had no idea."
"Did I leave out that detail?"
"I'm not sure I should let you get away with leaving out such important things."
"Hmm," she said, finding the same spot on his neck she'd marked before. Her hands slid between their bodies, working the buttons on his shirt until she met the waist of his pants. She unfastened them, pulling his shirt out.
"Off," she whispered as she reached between his legs. He seemed to understand and removed his shirt, tossing it aside followed by his undershirt.
"Buffy," he whispered. Her eyes met his as she stroked him. "We can move upstairs."
She silenced him with a kiss, using her hands to make him accessible to her. She slid onto him then, slowly, deliberately taking him inch by inch. This ignited their kiss for both of them. He worked the buttons on the shirt she wore, breaking the kiss to kiss her breasts. She wasn't sure what had gotten into her, but seeing him sitting there reading so nonchalantly had done something to her. She had been ready for him before coming to the couch, suspecting how he'd react when he found out what she wasn't wearing.
His hands rested at her hips, guiding her along his length though he let her set the pace until he brought her over the edge. He took over then, setting the pace his mouth busy lavishing attention on her breasts. Her hands found purchase at his shoulders, clutching onto him as he drove her over a second time. She knew he was close himself. His breathing was more labored, his thrusts less controlled. She murmured to him, not even sure what she was saying, encouraging him to his release.
She nuzzled against his neck, licking and kissing the pulse point there. It was heady to know she did that to him, made his body react like it did. To her. She found his ear, nipped at the lobe.
"Sorry, didn't want to wait to get upstairs."
"I gathered as much."
"Is that okay?"
"Yes. You're not going to hear complaints out of me."
"You just looked so sexy sitting here reading."
"Buffy, you've seen me reading books for years now."
"Yes, well. You're complaining because I find you sexy?"
"I guess it did come out sounding like a complaint."
"Yeah, it did," she said with a light laugh, kissing him.
"I guess I'll have to read more books."
"Mm, I guess so. And refrain from reading them when other people are around."
"Very well, if you insist. I'll delegate Willow to research then."
"Sounds like a plan." She bit his lower lip, her breathing was normal again. His seemed to be, too. "I'm going to get some of that iced tea. Want some?"
"Sure, why not?"
She slid off his lap, a little unsteady on her feet. She wasn't used to the position her body had been in for the last little while. "Wow, different muscles used there."
"Are you all right?"
"Oh yeah, never better." She buttoned the shirt up enough so she wasn't entirely exposed but left the first couple of buttons undone as she padded into the kitchen. She filled two glasses with ice and poured tea into them, returning to the living room just as Xander barged through the front door without knocking.
"Giles. We need to find Buffy. Something's going on on campus. Willow doesn't know where she is and I checked her usual patrolling haunts."
He obviously hadn't seen her yet.
"What's going on?" she asked, handing Giles his glass of tea while setting hers on his desk.
"Buffy. You're here. Willow didn't know where you were."
"I'm here, so tell me."
"I don't know. It's the guys at the bar, they're acting all caveman-like."
"I'm not good with the explaining. I think you'd have to see it to believe it anyway. But someone's likely to get hurt if we don't do something. They're acting crazy, like they don't belong here in our time."
"Okay. Um," she glanced at Giles. He had apparently put himself together before Xander came barging in. That was good. Of course, it wouldn't be good when Xander stopped rambling and realized she was wearing one of Giles' shirts.
"Wait a minute." She grazed her teeth along her lower lip, bracing herself for what was coming. "You're here and you're not wearing anything."
"I am, too."
"But you're wearing his shirt. Oh man, I so did not need to see this. You," he gazed from Buffy to Giles and then focused his attention somewhere in between them on nothing. "Wow. This doesn't quite make sense, but in an odd way it does." Buffy felt the heat of Xander's gaze. It didn't take much of an imagination to ascertain what she was or wasn't wearing at the moment.
"I'll be right back down," she said and quickly made her way upstairs.
She took a minute in Giles' bathroom, running her fingers through her hair as she put on the clothes from her backpack. She'd have to go back to her dorm room to get more, or stay the night there. She didn't want to, though, and that thought frightened her a little bit. It would be so easy to stay here, not that Giles had asked her to do that exactly. She grabbed her keys, slid them into the pocket of her jeans and went back downstairs.
"I'll drive you. It will be faster."
"Cool," Buffy said. She saw the questioning look he gave her coming down in an outfit other than what she'd been wearing yesterday and shrugged it off.
"Has anyone been hurt yet?"
"Well, no, not yet, but on the verge. The only way I got them out of the bar was to threaten them with my lighter."
"Fire. It scared them. I'm just afraid a girl's going to get raped or something."
"So, this started at the bar?"
"Yeah, those guys that you saw last night."
"They were back again tonight. And they were just getting stupider and stupider. It was like they were regressing or something."
"Very astute observation, Xander. I'm impressed."
"Yeah, well, I'm not a complete waste."
"No one claimed you were."
"So am I allowed to ask?"
"No," Buffy and Giles replied at the same time.
"Can I tell Willow?"
"I'll tell Willow."
Buffy looked at Giles, wondering what he was thinking. She hadn't exactly planned on Xander walking in on them. Thank God he hadn't walked in five minutes earlier. It was bad enough as it was. Maybe he was feeling just as unsure as she was. It had been more her idea to hold off saying anything than his. With that in mind, she placed her hand over his. He turned to look at her briefly and smiled.
"So, it's just that group?"
"Yeah. There are a few others, but they're not as bad as those guys are. It's weird."
"Giles and Xander, you two check out the bar. It sounds like something's going on there. I'll see if I can't find and restrain our time travelers."
"Be careful, Buffy."
"Always," she said and went her way while Giles and Xander went theirs.
Buffy had no idea things could change so drastically in two months. Giles had been right in a spooky kind of way. Oz and Willow had broken up, which shook the very foundation that Buffy's normalcy was based on. Well, in a supernatural, witch and werewolf sort of way. As it turned out the skanky musician was a werewolf, too. It had explained why Oz had been attracted to her, though she wasn't sure that made it any better for Willow. Oz had left claiming he needed to learn how to control his wolf. Whatever that meant. Buffy was glad it was something she'd never have to find out about first hand.
Willow was better now, but for a while there she was pretty scary. Scary like she cast a spell that caused all sorts of trouble. Buffy was engaged to Spike among other things. Thank God Giles had been blind under the influence of the spell or she would have had some explaining to do. Willow had seen her protecting Spike as favoring him over her, which was ridiculous. Spike needed protection from the commando guys. She just wanted to get to the bottom of the whole commando thing. She now knew Riley, the cute TA in her Psych class, was a part of them.
It was Christmas break, which meant she was home for a few weeks. That was fine, she had missed her mom, but she'd gotten used to staying at Giles house more often than not. Her mother had never said anything, Buffy knew that staying out all night at a guy's house was not something her mother would put up with. So, she had spent what time she could with Giles until after New Year's when her mother went out of town for business.
"I still think the best way for me to find out about the commandos is for me to play nice with Riley."
"I just wish we knew more about them."
"Well, he helped me defeat the Gentlemen, so he can't be a bad guy."
"Buffy, Spike has helped you."
"Well, okay, you have a point, but Spike hasn't asked me out. Riley has. And Spike's not involved with an underground project neutering vampires and demons. Riley is. So, why not use that?"
"This isn't your way of telling me you'd prefer spending time with Riley?"
"No, Giles, it's not. None of his friends seem to like me that much, so I think he's the way in. And as far as he knows, I'm single."
"Why is that?"
"Why is what?"
"Buffy. Really. Sometimes I think you enjoy playing dumb."
"I do not. Are you asking me why he thinks I'm single?"
"Yes, that would be the logical question to ask since you've been spending most of your nights at my home for the past two months."
"Well, he doesn't come home with me, does he? And I don't talk to him much. What am I supposed to say? ‘Hi, my name's Buffy, I'm the slayer and involved with someone. Have a nice day.'"
"I wasn't thinking quite that blatant, no."
"Good to know." His lips quivered into a smile. It was a smile that usually meant he was thinking something Buffy should know or notice. "What?"
"You said home."
"You said he doesn't follow you home."
"Just wondered if you'd noticed."
"Yes, I noticed. Don't go getting a big head or anything."
"We wouldn't want that."
"I meant it in the most general sense of the word."
"It's okay, Buffy. I don't mind, I'm not offended or put out with the reference."
"Yes, quite. In fact, it's flattering and pleasing to know you've come to reference my place as home no matter your reasons."
"Okay. So, can we get back to Riley?"
"So, I'm supposed to sit idly by while you spend time with this fellow. A fellow who believes you're single and knows that you're the slayer."
"I'm not sure what the two have to do with one another."
"Oh, very much, Buffy. You're an attractive woman, couple that with your slayer abilities and it makes a very appealing package. If you will."
"Hmm. You think so?"
He placed his hand at the back of her neck, drawing her to him for a searing kiss. It was one that made her toes curl and her body go lax. She loved and hated when he kissed her like that. She hated that he could render her weak, but loved feeling weak for a little while.
"I know so. And if I don't tell you often enough I apologize."
"I'm just going to hang with him, see what I can find out. If I can get down there."
He took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes. It was a sign she was winning the argument.
"It makes sense, Giles. It's the only way. I'm not going to sleep with him."
"I should hope not."
"And we'll have to make sure Xander and Willow know the plan so they don't say anything to him. Thank God Spike's not living here anymore."
"All right. If I saw another way, believe me I'd be volunteering it. I don't have to like it, though."
"Of a good looking young man, closer to your age who fights the monsters you hunt as you do? What's to be jealous of?"
"Giles. That's sweet, but I'm quite happy with who I've got."
"Very well. Don't say I didn't warn you, though, when he takes this seriously. You're toying with his heart."
"He can handle it."
And with that, her plan was put into action when school resumed for the spring. It would have gone off without a hitch, except for one night at a party when things got out of hand. Possessed, she and Riley had an all-night marathon sex session. It hadn't been her fault, or Riley's, and while she knew Giles understood he'd been distant since then. They had defeated Adam and she couldn't have done it without them, but she was no longer sure it had been worth it. Well, that wasn't true. She wouldn't have gained the information she had otherwise. School was over and she was back home. That may have added to Giles' mood, she couldn't be sure.
Since January she hadn't spent more than one or two nights at her dorm room. Willow took to patrolling with Buffy nightly so they had their time and afterward she went to Giles' and Willow went to their room. That seemed okay to Willow. She hated seeing her friend upset and grieving for Oz. She knew first hand how hard it was to have someone you love just leave you.
Buffy dressed for the day, ready for it to be a hot one. They were supposed to go to the beach, but Buffy wasn't so sure she wanted to go anymore. There were fireworks tonight for July 4th, which she wouldn't miss. She packed her suit, a towel, and sunscreen just in case and headed to Giles' after leaving a note for her mom.
She no longer knocked, which said a lot for how comfortable she was being here. She wondered if that would change. He was sitting at his desk doing something on his computer. It was so cute watching him work with one. He despised them, even more than Buffy did which was saying a lot. But he had come to recognize they were handy. That and boredom of having no job at the moment had encouraged him to see what the machine could do to ease his research and cataloging.
"Good morning, Buffy. I wasn't expecting you."
"I thought you were going to the beach."
"I'm not much for beaches. Don't feel you're leaving me behind."
"I'm not. I brought my stuff in case I decide to go, but we need to talk."
"Okay." He didn't sound very thrilled about it. Buffy couldn't blame him. While both had tried to pretend things hadn't changed they had. Possessed or not, if she hadn't put herself in the position of spending time with Riley she never would have been in that house with him.
She got herself a glass of juice while he finished what he was doing on the computer. There was no question she knew her way around his house now as well as she knew her own. In some ways, she felt more comfortable here then at home with her mom.
"There, I think it's saved. What's on your mind?"
"Well, a few things if you want to know the truth. I've already apologized a thousand times so I can't do that anymore. I need to know if we're going to get past this. The idea was a good one, and it worked. We couldn't have defeated Adam without the knowledge I gained."
"You're right, of course. I'm sorry, Buffy. You think I'm upset with you and that I guess shouldn't surprise me."
"Well, yeah, you look at me like," she shrugged. "I don't know. I can't honestly say I've seen that look from you before."
"It's my own insecurities that are the issue, Buffy, not you. Our age difference while not a huge issue to you or to me, it's there. I witnessed your time with Riley on occasion and you seemed happy."
"Well, yeah, I mean, I like him. As a friend, Giles."
"And I appreciate your assurances, but I can't help but wonder if I'm not holding you back instead of advancing you forward."
"Holding me back from what?"
"Having a social life."
"I have one. I have Willow and Xander, Anya, and you."
"Yes, but college should be about expanding your horizons, making new friends."
"I have friends. Just none I care to hang with."
"But you should care."
"I don't. I mean, I'm happy here with you. With the friends I don't have to hide who I am from. I figured you'd be turning cartwheels I'm not out there putting my secret identity in jeopardy."
"I wonder, though, were you invited somewhere socially you did care to go would you include me?"
"Totally. Why not?" Her eyes widened. She was finally paying attention to what he wasn't saying. "I'm not ashamed of you, Giles. I'm not embarrassed to be with you. You could come to the beach today. That's pretty public."
"Yes, just not my style."
"You prefer concerts and stuff. I get it. So, pick something, we'll go."
"I don't know anything about that sort of thing. So pick something and we'll go. The college's drama department puts on plays, we can go to one in the fall." She stood and leaned against the wall. "Listen, we like different stuff. That's not an age thing, it's just a life thing. I'm sure when I'm not here you blare your classical music. I don't hate it, but I don't think it's something I'll ever be into like you are. That's just how you are. You're Giles and you wouldn't be Giles if you weren't like that."
"I'm not sure if I should be insulted."
"No, I'm just stating facts. I like you the way you are. I like us the way we are."
"Speaking of the fall. You must feel pretty confident in our relationship then?"
"Yes. I don't know why you don't believe me. What do you think this is if I'm not taking it seriously?"
"I know you are, but I think we have different perspectives on serious."
"Don't say that to me. My life has been steeped with seriousness for five years now."
"I know, and that's why I was willing to try this. If you were any other woman your age I would have run for the hills after Halloween night."
"But you're not. I recognize that. If you're serious about attending some sort of function together I can make arrangements. Perhaps an overnight or weekend in LA?"
"Sure. Why not?"
"That'd be very cool, Giles."
"Would you prefer music or theatre? Or both?"
"Mm, you pick."
"Very well. I'll come up with something you won't find overly tedious."
"We're okay now?"
"We always were, Buffy. You did nothing wrong. I realize that. Just the same as what happened with Angel. The force chose the two of you for some reason, and I guess that's what bothered me."
"I'm sorry. I really am. If I would have known."
"No, you wouldn't have done anything different. I know that, as do you. You got answers we needed that we otherwise would not have gotten. I do have to wonder if Riley is going to accept being just your friend."
"He doesn't have much choice."
"And you're all right with that?"
"What do you want me to say? I feel bad. You warned me it was a risk going into it. I didn't count on what happened happening, though. I don't think you could have even."
"No, you're right."
"There is something you should know, though, because he could cause a problem if he finds out."
"What? No one would believe him about the slayer. Or not really anyway, so I think your secret is safe."
"We'll have to be adamant about the point he mustn't tell anyone." He removed his glasses and stared at her. Stared. No blinking or anything. "What did you say?"
"And you think it's Riley's?"
"No. He used," she felt her face growing warm.
"Ah yes, right. Probably best not going into too much detail."
She smiled slightly at that. "That means it's yours."
"Yes, I realize that. I'm sorry, I'm just digesting. When? How? I mean aren't you on birth control?"
"Why on earth would I be on birth control? Until you, the only boyfriend I had was a vampire. And Parker, same thing as Riley. I'm not stupid, I knew what they needed to do."
"Yet you never told me? For months we've. You weren't worried about me in other words? Now, that's somewhat insulting."
"No, it's not, Giles, don't say that."
"So, for the past six months we've been intimate you were at risk the entire time of becoming pregnant?"
"Yeah, I guess. I didn't think. Okay, I should have known better, but it had never applied to me before."
"What? Don't look at me like that. And don't say my name like I just kicked a puppy. I just assumed."
"You assumed what? You knew perfectly well I wasn't using anything."
"Maybe you couldn't have kids or had a vasectomy or something."
"Yes, because a man my age who hasn't married or started building a family has no desire to do so?"
She pushed back from the wall. How dare he say something like that? She grabbed her bag and walked to the door. "You know what. I'm glad that our age difference doesn't matter that much to you. But it's times like this I think you forget that I'm not forty years old. I haven't done this stuff before. I'm going to the beach. When you feel like talking to me, you know where to find me."
"No, forget it. I shouldn't have told you. My mistake. I thought you'd care. In a good way. Bye, Giles."
She didn't need her enhanced slayer abilities to make it to Willow's in record time. She was steamed. Beyond pissed. She was stupid, she could admit that. But she hadn't heard him ask once over the months to be certain his assumption was the correct one. She knocked on Willow's door, hoping she wasn't too late. Since Xander was driving it was difficult to tell if Willow was still home.
"Hey, Buffy. You look, well, okay pissed. Come in."
"You're still going to the beach?"
"Uh, yeah. You're coming too I take it?"
"Okay, but I think you need to like go take a cold shower or bench press my bed or something or you're going to dry up the water."
"It's like rolling off you, hot and sticky. Mad. What happened?"
"Okay. But you know, best friends listen."
"I don't want to talk about it right now."
"Did something happen with Giles? I know things have been kind of weird since that night with Riley."
"Will, I love you, but I don't want to talk about it."
"Okay, this is me zipping my mouth."
"Hi, Buffy," Tara said.
"Hi Tara." Buffy hadn't seen her come in.
"Should I go back to the hall?"
"She doesn't want to talk about it."
"I'm right here, Willow."
"And there's Xander," Willow said at the sound of the horn. "Are you sure you want to come with us, Buffy?"
"Yes, I do. See, I even have my stuff."
"Okay, we might not be back until late."
"Just making sure."
"I'm fine. Let's go have fun." She didn't miss the glance Willow shot Tara. She probably didn't look like someone intent on having fun, but she would make herself if it killed her. She didn't miss the look Xander gave Willow when they got to the car either. Fine, she looked like she was in a bitchy mood. Since she was, she didn't see anything wrong with looking the part.
She should have stayed home. Oh, she tried to have fun. She played volleyball, went swimming, helped Willow and Tara build a castle in the sand, but her heart just wasn't in it. Willow and Tara both seemed to sense that, but said nothing. They were smart. Xander sort of kept out of her way. Smart again. And Anya was just Anya. Buffy wasn't sure she noticed anything that wasn't about her or money.
It was dark by the time they got back to town and Xander dropped the three of them at Willow's.
"You sure you don't want me to take you home or to Giles', Buff? Your mom's out of town, right?"
"I'm fine, thanks."
"Okay. See you ladies tomorrow. The last day before I start working again, have to get in loads of fun."
"What are you guys doing tomorrow?"
"Just pizza and movies. You wanna come? I was going to ask you, but I know your mom's out of town so that means you're at Giles'. But you're not at Giles' today, so if you want to come."
"I'd love to."
"In fact, why don't you and Tara come stay at my place tonight?"
"Yes, my place. The home I've lived in since moving to Sunnydale."
"Well," Willow glanced at Tara who shrugged. "You're not staying at Giles'?"
"Oh, well. Sure, we can go to your place. Do you want me to call Xander?"
"No, let's just make it us girls."
"Okay. Let me grab some things." She pressed the button on her machine before doing anything. Buffy wondered if Willow still waited for word from Oz.
"Willow, yes, hello, it's Giles. If you see or hear from Buffy, which assuming she's with you you will, would you ask her to call me. Thank you. I hope you had a nice time at the beach."
Willow glanced from Tara to Buffy to the answering machine and back to Tara again. "Are you going to call him?"
"Not right now."
"You can't avoid him forever."
"It's only been a few hours. That's not forever. And I know I can't. I just want one day. Okay? Don't I deserve that?"
"You do, Buffy."
"Thanks, guys. I'll call him later or in the morning. Okay? If I try to get out of it you can force me to."
"Um, Buffy, that'd be a little more credible if you weren't the slayer. Combined we can't stop you from doing something you don't want to do."
"As witches combined you probably could," she said with a shrug. "I'll talk to him tomorrow."
"Okay then. I'm ready," Willow said, draping a small bag over her shoulder.
"Your mom lets Tara stay here?"
"Yeah, she sees what she wants to see."
"Well, like a girl then she'll never know."
"I'm not sure that's possible, but I'll think about it."
Her first thought when she woke up the following morning was that she'd missed the fireworks. She'd been so caught up in being mad that she forgot about them. Willow and Tara hadn't said anything, so either they forgot too or hadn't planned on going to see them to begin with. It was a leftover from her childhood. She and her parents would go see them together. Eventually, Buffy got older and would wander off with her friends, but the fireworks had been a staple in their lives. Until she'd been called.
She glanced at her clock and groaned softly. She did not want to get up and face the day. That meant she'd have to talk to Giles. She pushed back the covers and walked to her full-length mirror, lifted up her pajama top and glanced at her stomach. This was crazy. Stupid really. So easily prevented and yet she hadn't done anything to stop it. Really, they were lucky it had taken this long.
"Tara and I are making pancakes if you want some. There's also something for you downstairs. So, don't sit up here and mope all day."
"I'm not moping."
"Sure you aren't. Rise and shine."
"You're far too cheery, Willow," she said, walking to her door and opening it.
"That's me. Now, come on down for pancakes."
"Yum. I'll be down in a little bit."
She showered and dressed for the day before heading downstairs. She could smell the buttermilk and syrup. They must have found a package of bacon, too. Her stomach growling told her that it was in tune with her brain.
"It smells great, guys."
"Good. Willow and I thought you could use breakfast. Well, we wanted it, too."
"No problem. My house is your house."
Willow had a look on her face that told Buffy she was waiting for her to discover something. She glanced around the kitchen, nothing. Willow shifted, rolling her eyes toward the dining room. There was a huge bouquet of flowers on the table. She'd never seen anything quite like it, certainly not for her.
"The poor delivery guy. I think he was scared of us."
"Apparently, he was told under no condition was he to leave the house without delivering them."
She walked to the bouquet. Her heart did a flip-flop knowing there was only one person who would be sending her flowers at this point. And the day after a fight. She was so excited at the prospect of receiving flowers that she couldn't find it in her to be mad at him for doing something so clichéd.
"Did you read the card?"
"No, not yet," she said, pulling it out of the plastic thing that held the card in place amidst the flowers.
"Whatever the fight was about it must have been a good one. I've never gotten flowers like that."
"Me neither," Buffy said absently as she read. For as flamboyant as the flowers were the card was rather straight and to the point. It read simply I AM VERY SORRY. He signed it in his flourishing style that she'd recognize anywhere. That meant he'd gone to pick out the flowers himself.
"You going to tell me about the fight?"
"Not right now."
"Okay. You want to call him or eat breakfast first?"
"Let's eat first."
"Wow. You must really be mad."
"Do you want us to hang out for a while?"
"Whatever you guys want. We're doing movies and pizza tonight, right? And what's the deal with Xander starting work at the end of the week?"
"They're off yesterday and today for the holiday and I guess they figured to get him started training tomorrow."
"That makes sense, I guess."
The phone rang and she panicked. She didn't want to talk to him. Not yet. But what if it was her mother? She picked it up and couldn't have been more wrong in her thinking.
"Hi Buffy. It's Riley Finn."
"Hi Riley. How are you?"
Willow made a tsk'ing sound with her tongue and went to finish helping Tara with the pancakes.
"I'm doing real well. You?"
"Just tired I guess. Out late last night."
"Too many hostiles to take care of?"
"No, nothing like that. Just spent the day at the beach and the night with Willow and Tara."
"Not like that," she said quickly. "Just, you know, a girls night."
"Oh right. That sounds good. So you're holding down the fort?"
"I'm trying to."
"Good. Well, I just called to check in. Bored I guess. No one here knows anything about what I did with the government. I miss it a little."
"Yeah, I know what you mean." She re-read the card while she was talking to him, felt the unshed tears stinging her eyes. "Listen, Riley, I have to go. Okay?"
"Okay. I'll be back in about five weeks. Maybe we can get together."
"I'm not sure that's going to work."
"Okay. Did I do something wrong?"
"No, not at all. It's just I'm sort of involved with someone."
"Oh." She could almost see the frown right through the phone.
"I mean, I want to see you. You know, as a friend, like we were doing before."
"As a friend."
"I can't say I understand. I haven't been gone that long. I thought we'd kind of gotten beyond friends."
"Well, it kind of started before I knew you."
"I'm not sure you do."
"No, I get it. I knew it was too good to be true. A girl like you could have any guy she wants. Why waste your time on some farm boy from Iowa."
"It's not like that, Riley."
"It's not the guy you were engaged to, is it?"
She burst out laughing at the picture of Spike that entered her mind. "No, it's not him. I told you that was a spell."
"Yeah, I remember you saying that."
"Listen, I really have to go. Willow and Tara made breakfast, and I need to do a few things today."
"All right. Stake one for me tonight."
She hung up and went to the kitchen. Willow and Tara were trying their best to appear as if they hadn't been listening.
"So, he likes you?"
"Yeah. I guess."
"Is that what your fight with Giles was about?"
"No. I'd be sending him flowers if that was the case."
"Well, I say eat some pancakes and then go see him."
"I don't know if I'm ready to."
"He's ready to see you, Buffy. He wouldn't have sent those flowers if he wasn't. At least go hear him out."
"I agree with Willow."
"I'll think about it."
She didn't get a chance to think about it. The doorbell rang almost as soon as she'd finished eating.
"Do you want me to get it?"
"No, I'll do it. Thanks, Will."
She stood and walked to the front door. She didn't need to look to see who it was. She knew. She opened the door and found she was disturbingly happy to see him. If she hadn't accepted before now how deep her feelings ran for him she did now.
"I would completely understand if you slammed the door in my face before hearing me out. But, I hope you could at least give me five minutes. I think I deserve that much."
She tilted her head as if thinking about it. She didn't need to. She didn't want him to go anywhere.
"I was hoping you'd come to me, but I realized after some thought on the subject that it should be me who comes to you. I acted rashly, said things I had no business saying, accusations that had no foundation."
"Yes, well, you're not making this easy on a man."
"Is it supposed to be easy?"
"No, I suppose not. You got the flowers?"
"Yes, thank you. They're beautiful."
"Good, good." He stood there and Buffy wasn't sure whether to laugh or cry. He looked so confused. It was rare she saw that look on his face.
"Come in," she said, stepping out of his way.
"I didn't know you had company. Hello, ladies. It smells good. Breakfast?"
"Yes. Do you want some?"
"No, thank you, but I think I'd feel better if we were to resolve this."
"I'm not sure there's anything to resolve."
"Let's go upstairs. Okay?"
"Right, of course."
"We'll be down in a few minutes."
"Okay. You kids talk it out now."
Buffy rolled her eyes at Willow as she led Giles upstairs to her room.
"You surprised me, Buffy. You could have knocked me over with a feather I was so shocked. The thought never entered my mind that you might conceive."
"Well, that sounds romantic."
"I suppose it doesn't. I haven't had very many long-term relationships, so the idea of children hadn't really been a possibility to me. And given my age, I'd contented myself with the fact I would not have any."
"Well, you're obviously still young enough to make them."
"Yes, but chances were, or so I thought, I'd end up with someone my age. Who wants to start a family at this point in their life?"
"I never asked about your methods and I should have. I was just as responsible as you were, in fact more because even if you were on birth control I should have thought to protect you against other things. Not that it's necessary, I assure you it's not. But, caution should have been exercised and I didn't do it. I'm the one with experience, I should know better. It's hard for me to remember at times your experiences in this arena are minimal."
"Yeah, I know."
"Have you seen a doctor?"
"No, I just took the test the other day."
"And you're sure?"
"I took two of them, both said positive."
"Well then. What did you have in mind we do?"
"You believe me that it's yours?"
"Yes. That was never the question to me, Buffy. I apologize if I gave you the impression. I can see what you're saying about Riley causing problems."
"I mean, there's no question it's not his."
"Right, I understand. Are you feeling well?"
"I'm all right. Tired."
"To be expected I hear."
"I haven't done much research."
"I hope you'll let me work with you, Buffy. I want to."
"I'm not sure what to tell my mother."
"You could try the truth."
"I'm not sure how well that would go over."
"You're legally an adult."
"I know, but I'm still her baby."
"Yes, well, I don't suppose you have to tell her – or anyone – right away."
"You're telling me to keep this a secret? Is that really you, Giles?"
"Don't be ridiculous, Buffy. You can't tell the others before telling your mother."
"There is that."
"You don't have to rush into telling anyone. You've only just found out. Give yourself a chance to get used to the idea. And myself as well."
"You want me to have it?"
"Of course. Why would you think differently?"
"I don't know. You just said you assumed you'd never have kids."
"It wasn't a steadfast rule or opinion."
She sat on her bed. She could see the uncertainty in his eyes, on his face. "You can sit if you want to."
"Yes, thank you."
"So, we have to decide what to do and stuff. I mean, I can probably get another quarter in."
"Why don't we take a few days to let this digest and then we can figure out a plan. You're already enrolled, so leave that alone."
"Can I keep slaying?"
"I don't see why not. You should have someone go with you, avoid taking on anything too strenuous."
"Well, I don't have much of a choice."
"True enough. I would say do what you feel you should do."
"That's not saying much."
"Perhaps not." He touched her then, placing his hand against her head. He smoothed back her hair and brought her to him. She didn't fight it. "I'm very sorry, Buffy. Really. If you wish to terminate it, if that's the decision you make while I wouldn't like it I would understand and support you in that decision."
"Yes. You have a lot resting on your shoulders already, a child, having to tell your mother that our relationship has changed. Well, those things would just be added stressors."
"You think I'm ashamed of you. Of us."
"No, you've told the people closest to us about our relationship."
"Well, Xander didn't help walking in on us."
"True. I can understand not wanting to tell your mother. I don't know how she would react, but I've thought about it a time or two."
She laughed, couldn't help it. "I'm not sure what she'd think. I think she'd like knowing I was with someone who treated me nice and wasn't going to go around killing people."
"Yes, I suppose, that's a positive step in the right direction."
"We were going to do movies and pizza tonight."
"Yeah, Xander starts his new job tomorrow."
"Right, I remember he mentioned that. Construction or something, wasn't it? A different company than the one he was with during the school year."
"Good for him."
"So, did you want to join us?"
"If you'd like me to."
"I would. I'm sorry I freaked. I should have stayed and talked it out with you."
"Sometimes time and space apart are necessary, Buffy. I reacted badly. We both should have thought of consequences somewhere along the line. Our assumptions have gotten us here, we'll deal with it."
"So where is this movie night?"
"Here, of course, the only place where there are no parents."
"I don't count as an authority figure?"
"Mm, not so much."
"How ego boosting."
She laughed softly. "Yeah." She stopped when he slid his hand to her stomach. "What?"
"It's hard to believe. You're such a small thing." He looked at her with sincere wonder in his eyes. "I just can't picture it."
"I guess you'll get to experience it first hand."
"It would seem so."
She slid off the bed and sat on his lap, wrapping her arms and legs around him. "Are you going to spend the night tonight?"
"I could if you'd like me to."
"I'd like you to."
"Well, then I guess I'll have to. It's part of the making up process."
"I've been on this end of that process frequently. Or it seems that way at least. So, yes, in my vast experience, you cater to the whims of the one you've wronged."
"Yes. It's a rule, a rather steadfast one or at least I've been led to believe."
"I've heard tell there are other parts to the making up process."
"You have, have you?"
"Mm hmm." She kissed his jaw.
"I guess that gives me more reason to spend the night then."
"I think that might be too long to wait. By then we'll be done with the making up." She nipped at his ear while she worked at unfastening his pants. She was getting better at it so it didn't take that long this time.
"Buffy. Willow and Tara."
"Are adults and can either wait for us or leave. I have to thank you for those flowers, don't I?"
"I suppose since you put it that way."
She slid off his lap and started to take her shirt off, but he stopped her. "Let me."
"Okay," she said, letting her hands fall to her sides.
He took over then, sliding her shirt up and off. She'd never seen him like this. He touched and kissed her everywhere. Sure, he'd touched her, kissed her but this was different. She'd never considered what they did just sex, but there was an element to his attention today that was different. More. It was the only way she could describe it. He lifted her into his arms and set her on the bed. She expected him to undress and join her, but he had other things in mind as he quickly demonstrated.
He was as gentle as he was thorough, lifting her higher and higher. If it was possible to channel their desire for one another they'd accomplished it. Every touch seemed to sear through him as it did her. She'd never realized her entire body could feel so hot and she could cause him to feel it, too. And when his head dipped between her legs, his mouth finding her nub she cried out as her release tore through her.
"Wow," she murmured, still breathless as he removed his clothes and joined her on the bed. He slid on top of her. She saw him hesitate. "What?"
"You're quite certain the tests are accurate?"
"Pretty sure. I don't hear too many stories of false positives."
"And if it is inaccurate?"
"Oh God, Giles, I'm late. Over two weeks and I'm never late. I don't have any condoms here, so if you're worried I'm not and this is going to get me pregnant then we'd better put our clothes back on. Or take a cold shower or something. Because at this point I don't really care."
He smiled then, a smile that lit up his whole face and brightened his eyes. "I was hoping you'd say that."
"Were you testing me?"
"No, just ensuring."
"Stop thinking already."
"Clearly, I've done enough of that for the past six months."
She placed her hands on either side of his face and drew him to her for a kiss to silence him. It worked, and with the silencing he slid inside of her. He held her close, as if he didn't want to risk releasing her. He was always mindful of her, giving her pleasure before he took his but this felt different. She still didn't know how to describe it. She felt cherished as he made her feel pleasure after pleasure.
When he had finished and he still touched her, intent on bringing her still more pleasure she identified what she was feeling. Love. She felt loved. She turned onto her side, caressing his face with her hand. He was watching her as if trying to memorize her.
"I thought I'd lost you. That I'd ruined this with my stupidity."
"You're not stupid, Giles, and you didn't lose or ruin anything."
"I guess I'm a textbook example of someone with lots of accumulated knowledge I don't always know how to apply."
She ran her thumb over his lips, her eyes watching his. "That's what I love about you."
"Well, I can go on doing stupid things for quite some time."
"I wouldn't want it any other way." He either didn't hear what she said or if he did was oversimplifying her meaning behind the words.
He placed a hand against her stomach again. "I still can't believe it, Buffy. It seems impossible."
"Well, obviously all of our parts work. Have there been slayers that have had kids? Families?"
"I know of one. She was one of the two that fell victim to Spike. He was just a young thing when she died. I'm not sure what happened to him after that. He probably stayed with her watcher, but I don't know truthfully. It was twenty years ago and once his slayer was dead he wouldn't have reason to journal any longer."
"She must have been young to have him."
"I think she was, but again I'm not sure."
"Riley called this morning."
"Yeah. I told him I was involved with someone, tried to tell him I had been all along without it making it obvious I was using him for information."
"You think you're how far along?"
"Well, I'm two weeks late. I don't know how it works. A month?"
"All right, well, I imagine if he gets testy about it we will just have to offer him proof. You're talking a six week differential between your night with him and four weeks ago."
"Right, you're right."
"A month, eh? We're looking at a spring baby then."
"If you say so."
"Buffy, didn't you pay attention in biology class?"
"Not anymore than I had to. I was dating a vampire, what did I need to know about reproduction."
He chuckled. "Yes, I'm sure it wasn't high on your list of priorities. Well, it's been some time for me as well, but mid-March or so sounds about right."
"You're not mad? I mean, really not mad?"
"No, of course not, Buffy, how could I be mad? If you'd deliberately set out to do it. Well, honestly, I'm not sure I could be mad even if that was the case."
"It wasn't deliberate."
"I know. I don't think it would have taken this long if that had been your intent."
"Thank you for the flowers."
"You're welcome. I wish I had thought to get you some before now without an argument as the reason."
"Indeed. I did research a weekend excursion for us if the idea of some time in LA appeals to you."
"Yes. Sure. What did you have in mind?"
"Well, I wasn't thinking overly clear at the time, so I'll have to do more research, but I'll arrange for something perhaps the weekend after classes begin. It will give you something to look forward to without your coursework being too difficult."
"I'd like you to think about living with me."
"Well, I imagine Willow and Tara would like to room together, which leaves you ending up with someone you don't know."
"And this means I should live with you?"
"Why not? We're going to have a baby. It stands to reason."
"Giles, I don't want to move in with you because you think I should."
"What other reason is there?"
"Um, like maybe because you want me to."
"Of course I do. I wouldn't have asked ordinarily this soon, perhaps when you were done with school."
"That means I'll have to tell my mom between now and then."
"Yes, it would mean that you would."
"Let me think about it. You're right about Willow and Tara, though. Maybe I can get my own room."
"All right, well, let me know. I don't want to put pressure on you, but you're going to need things for the baby. You're not going to have it in a dorm room."
"Of course not."
"And I won't have you living with your mother when I'm perfectly capable of supporting you and our child."
"All right, if not in the fall, for sure after the quarter is done. I shouldn't be showing for a while, I don't know if I want to tell her that soon. That's less than two months away."
"Right, I understand. Might I suggest you make an appointment with a physician?"
"Oh, yeah. You do know quite a bit about this."
"Well, you don't live to be my age without some exposure to these things."
"I suppose not. And you're sure I can't tell Willow?"
"That's up to you. I think your mother would be hurt if she was the last person to know instead of one of the first."
"Yes, but I need someone to talk to and to eat ice cream with me."
"Well, far be it from me to stand in between a pregnant woman's cravings and the friend willing to join in her indulgence."
With Willow's help she was able to get a single room for the quarter. Well, Willow didn't know it was only for the quarter yet. At least it had worked out that all three of them were happy. Willow and Tara were roommates and Buffy was not only on their floor but not stuck with a roommate. Not that she planned on staying there very often.
She'd been to see a doctor in August and then again last week. She was about sixteen weeks along. So there was no question it was Giles'. Not that she thought otherwise, but she knew Giles had felt better knowing for sure. They'd heard the baby's heartbeat at the most recent appointment. Until that moment Buffy hadn't believed it was real. There was no denying that she was going to have a baby.
She still hadn't told anyone. Giles was right, her mom deserved to know first. Telling her mom was no easy task, though. She'd started to tell her a hundred times since July only to stop. She and Giles were in LA for the weekend and she was glad to be away from everyone for a couple of days. She wasn't sure what he had made arrangements for, but he had specified she bring a couple of dresses.
She was lucky her clothes still fit. They were getting to the point where they didn't so well anymore. She imagined the fact that she was so active helped her get this far without having to invest in maternity clothes. She hated thinking about it even though she knew she'd have to soon.
"So, where are we going tonight?"
"I thought dinner would be a nice way to start. I know you had class most of the day, so I took that into account."
"Okay." She took in their room. "Giles. This is too much."
"It's not anything overly special."
"What? I can afford it, Buffy. I assure you. I know we've had time alone, but this is the first time we've gone away together. So, I splurged on a nicer hotel. If we were sightseeing or something I suppose we could have settled for less."
"I guess the guy taking our bags at the curb should have tipped me off."
"Most nicer hotels have bellhops, Buffy. There's nothing luxurious about that service."
"If you say so."
"Okay." She noticed the king sized bed and smiled despite herself. She walked to the closet area to unzip the garment bag, trying to figure out which dress she should wear. "Any hint on where we're going?"
"Wear whatever you want to, Buffy."
She decided on a black dress. She could wear it with the boots she had on and she had a jacket to go with it in case it got too cool for sleeveless. "I'll be out in a minute then."
"Take your time. We're in no hurry. There's no schedule while we're here other than tomorrow evening."
She shut the bathroom door and cried out when she saw the bathroom had a hot tub.
"Buffy, are you all right?" He didn't bother to knock so he must have been worried.
"Yeah, I'm fine. There's a hot tub in here. Did you know that?"
"Oh right, yes, I'd forgotten. I read that was included in the amenities, yes."
"Too bad I can't use it."
"I didn't realize. Why not?"
"I'm not sure. It's just one of those things I read about in the literature somewhere. Heat or something I think."
"Oh, right, I suppose. Well, we'll come back when you can then. I didn't realize you had a fondness for hot tubs."
"I guess you're right. I'll leave you to dress then."
It didn't take her long. Fixing her hair and her makeup took longer than changing clothes had. When she stepped out of the bathroom Buffy found he had changed as well.
"Is that good?"
"Uh, yeah. I haven't seen you in a suit suit since prom I guess. I'd forgotten how nice you looked."
"As opposed to every other day when I look slovenly?"
"Well, no, but dressed like this you're sexy. Like James Bond. Otherwise you're just Giles sexy."
"So, sexy either way?"
She pursed her lips as she ran a fingertip over the knot of his tie. "Definitely. Either way."
"Shall we then?"
She was impressed with the restaurant. She didn't think Giles had spent much, if any, time in LA. So that meant he'd gone to a lot of effort to plan this weekend. It was a nice place, real nice. A place her parents could have afforded when they were married but would never have brought Buffy to. It was a date place. Romantic tables tucked away to gave you the feeling of privacy even though you were in a restaurant.
She ate way too much, but was getting used to feeling that way. She was thankful she didn't suffer from morning sickness or anything like that. So far, really, she didn't feel any different other than having to use the bathroom more often.
They stood outside the restaurant. Buffy wasn't sure what Giles had planned after this if anything. It was just nice to be here with him and not have to worry about slaying or school or anything else.
"Would you like to take a walk?"
"Sure," she said, taking his offered hand as they walked down the street.
"Do you miss it?"
"Oh. In some ways, I suppose, yeah. I mean, there are days I'd give anything to have that life back. Well, no, not so much anymore. But when I first moved to Sunnydale I wanted that life back. I wanted Cordelia's life."
"Why on earth would you willingly choose such an existence?"
"I don't know. I didn't know any better I guess. It's taken me a while to get to the point that I don't want it anymore, but yeah I still miss it. I miss the friends. I've come to realize, though, none of them were really my friends. Not like Willow and Xander are anyway. You know, not one has kept in touch with me since I moved. They said they would, but it never happened."
"Mm, yes, I suppose that hurt. And then I dragged you back into the slaying."
"Yeah, I remember how it went."
"You've been a pretty good sport about it over all."
"I have not. You're just saying that because you have to."
"I do not."
"Mm, if you ever want to get lucky again you do."
"I suppose there is that threat looming over my head. I worry about it constantly, too."
"I'll just bet you do. Lose a lot of sleep worrying about it, too."
"Yes. You know me too well."
"Thank you for dinner."
"You're most welcome. It was my pleasure. It's delightful spending time with you not having to worry Xander's going to burst through the door. Or having to endure more conversations from Anya on her sex life with Xander. To hear her talk that's all they ever do."
"Maybe she thinks everyone's like that."
"I should hope not. If Xander was my age he'd have had a heart attack by now."
"You hold up pretty well."
"Is that right?"
"Yes. Slayer here and all."
"Perhaps when we get back you can remind me again why that makes you special."
He lifted her hand to his lips and kissed the back of it before taking her into his arms. She went willingly as she always did and waited for his kiss. She didn't have to wait long. She never did. He didn't seem to be able to resist her any more than she did. She broke the kiss, drawing away just a little and met his gaze. She saw so much in his eyes. It was a little frightening and a lot exciting. She could take the frightening as long as the exciting was part of it, too.
"I love you," she whispered. She was about to kiss him again until she heard someone call his name. She drew away and turned, automatically shielding him with her body. She groaned softly when she saw who it was. Talk about ruining a moment. Now she wished she hadn't said it. It was out there, though, no sense dwelling on it.
"Giles. I thought that was you. And Buffy. I almost didn't recognize you dressed, well, like a real person. What are you doing in LA?"
"Good evening, Cordelia. How lovely to see you again."
"I know it, right? I saw you back at the restaurant, but I was with a potential agent so I couldn't break away."
"Yeah, you know for acting. I have one, but he hasn't done a damned thing. These agents, I tell you you have to stay on top of them."
"I thought you were working for Angel."
"Oh I am, on the side, only until I get my foot in the door. You should so stop by the office if you're here."
"I don't think so, Cordelia, but thanks."
"Well, if something's going on in town, Angel should know about it."
"Wait. Don't tell me that restaurant is run by demons or something? I knew there was something fishy about it."
"No," Buffy said, frustrated.
"Cordelia, Buffy and I aren't here for any reason to have to do with her calling."
"Oh." She frowned as if processing, which Buffy knew could be difficult for Cordelia at times. "Then why are you here?"
"Cordelia, really, the only thing you need to know is that we're not here to infringe on Angel's territory. If you even needed to know that. As the Slayer, Buffy has every right to go where she's needed."
"Well." Her gaze rested on Buffy's shoulder where Giles' hand rested and her eyes widened. "Oh, I get it, you're on a date. Right?"
"Cordelia," Giles said coolly.
"No, Giles, it's fine. It's not like it's a secret. Yes, Cordelia, we're here together."
"All right then. That's all you needed to say. Geez. Get on my case."
"We'll see you later, Cordelia."
"Right, okay. Good night. Oh and Buffy?"
"You look nice."
"You do. I don't know what it is, but there's something different. Whatever it is it looks good on you."
"Uh, thanks," she said, flicking her gaze to Giles'. Cordelia didn't offer up compliments to anyone. And that was a pretty nice one. "You do, too. I hope you get the agent."
"Oh, I will. It's not me getting the agent, it's whether the agent lucks out and gets me."
"Right, well, good luck with that."
They walked back the way they'd come in silence. Buffy glanced behind them to be sure she was out of earshot. "She's going to tell Angel."
"Oh, most definitely. You knew she would. Does that bother you?"
"No, I just wonder if I should have told him first."
"Do you feel he deserves it?"
"I don't know. He did come apologize to me after Faith."
"Oh well, I can't worry about it now. It's too late. He'll know by morning."
He cupped her face then and kissed her next to his car.
"I believe she interrupted something."
"Cordelia? She's always interrupting. What else is new?"
"Something of a matter of import I believe."
"Um," he said softly before kissing her again. "I thought I heard you say something."
"Yes. Something that had we not been interrupted would have garnered a response from me. One would hope anyway."
"Would it have?"
"Indeed." He kissed her again, another feather-light kiss. "Say it again."
"I need to hear you say it, Buffy."
Kissing her like he was she'd do anything for him. He had to know that, too. "I love you," she whispered.
"And I love you, Buffy. Now will you agree to move in with me when this term is up?"
"I'm pushing, I know. I think you're pushing it going next term, your due during finals week."
"That's if the baby isn't late."
"I think most professors would be lenient on missing a class or two for a baby."
"I should have known you'd be stubborn about this. Pardon me, willful."
She shrugged. "I'm not saying I won't. It'll be your place or Mom's. I won't stay in the dorm."
"That's something at least. Now enough of that for tonight. It's early enough we could go for a drive if you wanted. Take in a movie. Get some ice cream somewhere. Pregnant women like ice cream I've heard."
She laughed. "I'm fine. Really. I ate way too much for dinner."
"Well, then, what would you suggest?"
"We could go back to the room and burn off some of those calories in that big bed."
"Why, Miss Summers, are you coming onto me?"
"I think, Mister Giles, I am. Such a surprise, I know."
"Shockingly so." He opened the door for her and she slid inside the car.
They spent Saturday doing pretty much nothing until dinner. Giles took her to another nice restaurant and to the theatre afterward for a production of Kiss Me Kate. She didn't think she was going to like it, but found herself laughing a time or two and getting into the story. If studying Shakespeare could have been this fun she'd have passed English class with flying colors.
Sunday they checked out of the hotel at the last possible minute and spent the afternoon at one of the museums LA offered. It was all pretty much the same to Buffy, but Giles seemed to enjoy himself so she did, too.
Too soon for her liking, they were back in Sunnydale. That meant life was back to normal. No more fairy tales, luxurious hotel rooms, or room service for breakfast. She tried not to pout when they walked from his car to the courtyard that led to his place.
"You had a nice weekend?"
"Me, too. Thank you. Did you enjoy it?"
"Yes. It gives me great pleasure to see you enjoying yourself. Eating well, taking in the show. I wonder if you realize how beautiful you look."
"It's true. And Cordelia's right. You are different. I hadn't noticed it I guess because I see you so frequently, but you do have a certain glow to you currently that isn't always there."
She settled into his arms, his hands splayed over her stomach. She rested her head against his shoulder. "It's nice out tonight."
"Yes, it is. Coming back from LA, it makes you appreciate being here and actually being able to see stars."
"Yeah, you're right, I never paid much attention before." She shivered lightly.
"Are you all right?"
"Yes, just a chill."
"Let's get you inside then. I'll make you some tea and you can watch some TV if you'd like."
"You're so good to me."
"Because I want to be and you let me."
She turned in his arms and kissed him. "Thanks."
"Anything for you, Buffy."
"I think I actually believe you mean that."
**Part Nine** (spoilers through Listening to Fear)
"I can't stay long."
"I understand, Buffy."
"I just wanted to see you today, but I couldn't get away sooner."
"Buffy, I understand. Your mother comes first. As she should under these circumstances. Please don't feel you need to apologize for wanting to be with your family."
"Well, but you're my family, too."
"Yes, that may be, but your mother and Dawn need you right now."
"And I need you."
"You have me, Buffy. Even if it's for the few minutes you can get away before and after doing your patrol I'm here. But Dawn, especially, Buffy. She doesn't know what she really is."
"I don't even know what she really is."
"Well said and good point, but you know what I mean. You need to be there for both of them. And you know I'll do what I can. Be at the hospital while you have to be at class."
"Giles, I can't go to class."
"Buffy, you have to. Your mother wouldn't want you to quit with only two weeks left of the quarter. I'll sit with her, Willow and I will help you study."
"I know, you're right."
"Sit, Buffy. I'll make you some tea."
"I don't have time, Giles. I'm already late for my patrol."
"Buffy, stressing yourself isn't going to help anybody, particularly you and our child."
She pressed her hands to her temples and rubbed. "I know, you're right. I told her, Giles. I had to."
"Well, I've been telling you to for months."
"I know, and I've chickened out every time. I had to, though, in case something goes wrong. I needed to know she knows."
"Buffy, nothing is going to go wrong. She has the best doctors."
"I know, but it's brain surgery, Giles. It's not like fixing a spleen or something. They're cutting into her head."
He set a cup filled with tea on the table. She sat automatically and started to drink it. "Thanks."
"You're welcome. Did you show her the photo?"
"Yeah, I did. She said it was beautiful, I can't see much more than a blob. Are you disappointed?"
"Disappointed? What could I possibly be disappointed by?"
"That it's a girl."
"Not in the least. Hopefully, she'll look like you and inherit my thirst for knowledge."
"Is that your way of saying you don't want her to inherit my brain?"
"Well, no, I wouldn't put it quite like that."
"Could she be a slayer one day?"
"I don't know. I'd have to research that, but I don't know of anyone who's inherited it through bloodlines."
"Will she be normal?"
"Buffy, I don't know. I could see if I can track down the son of Nikki."
"No, no, I'm just rambling I guess, getting my mind off my mother."
"Was she upset?"
"No, oddly. I think she's suspected something for a while. About us anyway. She knows I've been spending more time here than I used to and well, she said she noticed over the summer I didn't use. Well, that I didn't get my period."
"Oh yes, I imagine that would become obvious, wouldn't it."
"I'm not sure Dawn knows. Mom and I didn't talk about telling her."
"She's an intuitive girl, though."
"Yeah, she is. She's not so bad for a little sister. I just wish I knew I could protect her. Stop Glory from getting her."
"We'll do the best we can, that's all we can do. All of us. Nothing's stopped you yet, I doubt that will change."
"I know. Giles. I'm so glad she's not disappointed in me."
"My mom. Keep up with the subject."
"Well, perhaps the possibility of a granddaughter will give her something to aid in her recovery. Frame of mind is important, too. And I'm sure she's happy to know if something should happen to her that you'll be cared for."
"You're offering to take care of me?"
"I've been offering for a few months."
"You know I would, Buffy, if it came to that. We can't send her to your father, she'd be vulnerable there. And it would look suspicious that she was sent to your father's while you stayed here."
"I thought of that. My first instinct when I found out what she was, who she was, was to send her to my dad's. I figured that'd just draw attention to her."
"She wants to talk to you."
"I imagined that would come, yes."
"She didn't come right out and say so, but I could tell."
"It's natural. Perhaps you could take Dawn to the mall or something tomorrow afternoon and I'll pay her a visit."
"That would work. I almost wish I'd told her sooner. Then again if it's being sick that made her react so well earlier wouldn't have done any good."
"You can second guess yourself all over the place. Just as we could about our own lack of forethought. There's just no sense in it, though. Keep looking forward."
"Are you feeling better?"
"Yeah, I am."
He placed a hand on her abdomen, which was becoming obviously round now. "And our daughter?"
"Seems fine, too."
"Good. You don't want to stress her out any more than you have to."
"I never pictured myself a parent. I didn't think I'd live long enough."
"Bite your tongue."
"Well, it's true."
"I don't like to think about it."
"I don't much either. You'll, I mean if something happens to me."
"Please don't, Buffy, not right now with your mother's health hanging in the balance."
"I don't suppose you've gotten any word from the Council."
"No, I've inquired of course. They'll get back to us when at their convenience, which may or may not coincide with our time table."
"Yes. We'll find out about her, Buffy."
"I hope so because I can't focus my attention on Dawn when my mother is sick, too."
"I wish you'd rethink telling the others. Telling them would ensure Dawn is better protected when you can't be around her."
"And would also give Glory more people to try and hurt to get the information out of. I won't put them at risk."
"I think the fewer that know the better. You and me, we're the only ones that need to know."
She stood from the table.
"I'll get that," he said when she reached for the teacup and saucer. "I do understand you need to go home, Buffy."
"I should patrol."
"Go home, Buffy. There isn't anything happening that can't wait until tomorrow. Go. You need to spend time with your mother and Dawn. I'll go by after lunch tomorrow."
"Yeah, I'll take Dawn to the mall. Thanks."
She kissed him lightly and headed for the door. "I wish you could come with me."
"I do as well, Buffy. You have no idea how I wish I could be there for you every step of the way. You'll just have to settle for my presence when you're awake. That's the best we can do for now. We'll deal with next week when it comes. If you need me with you at your home nothing could keep me away."
"I know. Thanks."
"Get some rest, Buffy. You're going to need it, probably more than your mother over the coming weeks."
She wasn't surprised when she got home to find Willow there. She wasn't sure if she'd come on her own or if Giles had called her. Either way, Buffy was relieved, selfishly, to see Willow was alone.
"Is Dawn boring you?"
"No, I've learned more about the Backstreet Boys than I ever cared to know, but that's okay. How are you?"
"I'm good. Come on up."
"Way to be subtle, Buffy."
"If you don't want to talk in front of me, you can just tell me to leave."
"Dawn, you're watching TV. Stay down here."
"No patrolling tonight?"
"No, Giles sent me home. Said I could take the night off."
"It's sweet how you go to him."
"It still feels weird sometimes. A few years ago I did everything I could not to tell him stuff. Now I tell him everything."
"Well, that's the way it happens sometimes. So are you going to tell me what's up? Besides your mom's surgery I mean?"
"Dawn said you and your mom had a behind closed doors talk earlier."
"Dawn would tell you that."
"She said she tried to listen but you must not have been arguing because she couldn't hear anything."
Buffy smiled at that. It was such a little sister thing to do. "No, no arguing. I just had something to tell her that couldn't wait. I put it off long enough."
"She knows about Giles then, huh?"
"Yes, but there's more."
Buffy picked up Mr. Gordo and hugged him to her. She smiled at the memory of finding Angel holding him in her room when she'd come in from patrol one night.
"I'm pregnant, Will."
"What? When? How? I mean, okay, I know how."
"I'm like twenty-four weeks, so March sometime is when I'm due. I have a picture."
"Yeah, we had an ultrasound done Wednesday. Do you want to see?"
"You know I do. Buffy, I can't believe it. You've known for months."
"And didn't tell me?"
"I couldn't tell you before I'd told my mom. I wanted to, but I realized that wasn't fair to her. And it was only this surgery coming up next week that made me tell her now. If something goes wrong, I needed to have told her."
"Of course, I understand." Buffy slid the ultrasound picture out from the page of the book she'd stashed it in. Dawn wouldn't think to look in the pages of books for anything.
"That's the head," she said, pointing to the head on the X-ray like picture.
"Oh right, and there's the body. That's an arm. Oh, Buffy, it's a little Buffy or Giles."
"It's a Buffy."
"Buffy, I can't believe you went this long without telling me."
"No, I just would have been bursting to tell someone. Are you okay? Are you going to get married?"
"I'm fine. The doctor says I'm healthy and progressing nicely. And, Giles has asked me to move in with him."
She frowned at that. "Are you going to?"
"Well, I thought about it after the quarter is over. I'm going next quarter. Giles doesn't want me to, but I don't want to miss any more than I have to. And I'm due right around finals week, so it should work."
"I've seen a couple of pregnant students."
"Yeah, me, too. Thank you."
"But Will, now that my mom's going through this, I think I should move back here."
"Oh, yeah, I see your point. I don't suppose your mom would let him stay here."
"I don't think so. And, it probably won't be for very long, just until she recovers from the surgery and stuff."
"Right. How long can that take?"
"That's what I said. So, I figure Giles and I can set stuff up for the baby at his place and as soon as I know Mom and Dawn are safe and okay I can move in there."
"Wow. Moving in. That's a huge step, Buffy."
"I know. I think having a baby is huger, though."
"Well, right. I just meant. Who'd have thought all three of us would be in relationships."
"Oh, yeah, I guess we aren't so doomed after all."
"Dawn doesn't know?"
"No, I haven't told her yet."
"Can I see?"
"I want to feel."
"Oh," Buffy stood and tugged her shirt up. "I'm used to it by now. Giles does it all the time."
"That's so sweet." Willow placed her hand against her stomach. "You're hardly showing. I mean, I guess I noticed you've changed but for being as far along as you are I wouldn't have known."
"A girl, huh?"
"A little Buffy. I get to like plan a shower and stuff, don't I?"
"Uh, I hadn't thought of that."
"Well, that's what best friends do. I'll get your mom to help, too, that might help her feel better."
"Giles said something similar."
"We'll keep her busy and excited, Buffy. What did he say when you told him?"
"Oh, well, um, you remember that fight we had over the summer?"
"Yeah. He didn't get mad?"
"Well, no, not exactly. He just," Buffy shrugged. "He was surprised."
"I'll bet, but you were, too."
"Right, but it was so soon after what happened with Riley. He was feeling unsure of things I guess."
"Oh. Ohhh, like maybe you'd rather be with Riley than him?"
"Something like that."
"Well, I can see where he'd think that. But I don't know that you'd be happy with someone our age. I mean, sure Angel looked like he was a few years older than us but he wasn't."
"Well, he's fine now, over it. He even helped Riley when he was having problems earlier. So," she shrugged. "We're good. I just wish I knew if he really wants me to live with him or if it's just because of the baby."
"Does it matter?"
"Well, yeah, I guess it's better than getting married for the baby, but not much better. I want him to want me."
"Oh, Buffy, he does. I mean, it's so obvious. The way he looks at you. It's sweet, really. I remember how he was with Miss Calendar and how he looks at you is so different. It's like you're it to him."
"You think so?"
"I know so. Tara and I have talked about it. You have this energy about you, the two of you, you mix well. And this one does, too. She's strong."
"You can feel that?"
"I can sense it, yeah. It's hard to explain, but she's strong."
"I asked Giles if she'd be normal, but he didn't know."
"I don't mean that type of strong. I just mean she'll be a fighter."
"I suppose we should go back downstairs before Dawn thinks we've abandoned her. Are you spending the night?"
"If you want me to. I told Tara I wasn't sure. My mom won't bother her or anything so she's fine."
"If you're sure."
"Buffy, you guys need me right now. I'm not going anywhere. Tara understands that."
"Okay. Thanks, Will."
**Part Ten** (some dialogue taking from episode FOREVER)
She shouldn't have been out. She had stopped slaying weeks ago, but when Angel had appeared at her doorstep she knew she had to go. Giles seemed to understand. For that she was grateful.
All was quiet at the moment. It was as if even the bad guys were taking time off because the slayer's mom was dead. She sat in Angel's arms. She had to laugh at the possessive way his hands rested against her now very pregnant belly. If it bothered him, he said nothing.
"The funeral was... it was brutal. But it's tomorrow that I'm worried about."
"That's exactly what I don't know. Up until now I've had a roadmap. Things to do every minute, having to do with Mom."
"Tomorrow the stuff of everyday living resumes."
"And everybody expects me to know how to do it because I'm so strong."
"You just need some time. I'm sure everybody understands that."
"Time's not the issue. I can stick wood in vampires. But Mom was the strong one in real life. She always knew how to make things better. Just what to say."
"You'll find your way. I mean not all at once, but..."
"I don't know. I keep thinking about it. When I found her. If I'd just gotten there 10 minutes earlier..."
"You said they told you it wouldn't have made a difference."
"They said probably it wouldn't have made a difference. The exact thing they said was "probably". I haven't told that to anyone."
"Doesn't make it your fault. You couldn't have done anything different."
"I didn't even start CPR until they told me. I fell apart. That's how good I am at being a grown up."
"It would be okay if it was just me I had to worry about. But Dawn..."
"Look it's okay. I know you don't feel like it right now, but you are strong, Buffy. You're gonna figure this out. And you have people to help you. You don't have to do this alone."
"And you have Giles and the baby to look forward to."
"I know. I wish she could have held on for another month so she could have seen her."
"She will see her, Buffy. You have to believe that. Hold on to that. For Dawn's sake, for your sake. Once the baby's born, it sounds like you're going to have your hands full with Glory. You can't let grief cloud your mind."
"That's easy for you to say."
"No, no, it's not, Buffy. I know how hard it is. You don't think I've grieved for you. That I've missed you. It's not like the loss of your mom. The two don't compare, but the world rests in your hands. I'm just a helper of the cause. You are the cause."
"Nothing like a little pressure added to the mix."
"Well, Buffy, what do you want me to say? You're the slayer. It's not just what you do it's who you are."
"I know. I'm sorry I didn't tell you about Giles myself."
"It's okay. I get it. I admit I was a little surprised when you answered the door looking like you do. I wondered if Cordelia hadn't told me intentionally, but realized when she saw you that you probably weren't far enough along for her to notice."
"No, I wasn't."
"Are you happy?"
"Yeah. I don't know why it happened or how. It just did. You were gone. I had a bad experience with this guy right after school started. I just realized that he'd never left me."
"And your mom was okay with it?"
"I guess. She didn't say anything. I didn't tell her until Thanksgiving, I needed her to know before her surgery. Just in case."
"That's all I wanted for you, Buffy. A chance at real happiness, normal happiness. I know you said at the time things like kids didn't matter to you. I think you'll find once you have this one you'll realize you were wrong."
"Oh, I know, I already know it just feeling it move around."
"And I'll always be there for you, Buffy. Always. Don't ever think you can't call me, count on me."
"I know. Thanks."
"It's gonna be light soon."
"I can stay in town as long as you want me."
"How's forever? Does forever work for you? That's a bad idea. I'm seriously needy right now."
"Let me worry about the neediness. I can handle it."
They looked at each other and Buffy leaned in and kissed him. They kissed softly for a moment. It turned a little more heated and they pulled away, both breathing harder.
"I told you. You better go."
"No. I'm so grateful that you came, Angel. I didn't think I was gonna be able to make it through the night."
Angel looked up at the sky "Well, we still have a few more minutes until I have to go."
She put her head on his chest and leaned against him. He put his arm around her shoulders.
"I love him."
"I just thought I should say it. No secrets, no misunderstandings."
"It was just a kiss, Buffy. I don't think he'd fault you for that right now."
"I made it sound like I couldn't count on him."
"No, you made it sound like you needed a friend. Someone who wasn't so personally involved in what's going on right now. Someone who hasn't sat with you through all of this. Giles knows how much you mean to me."
"I've got to go."
"Thanks for coming, Angel. Really."
"Anytime, Buffy. Good luck with the baby," he said lifting his hand from her abdomen.
He stood, offered her a hand which she took gratefully. She wasn't exactly coordinated at the moment. She watched as he walked in the direction of the mansion where he could spend the day safely. Once she could no longer see him she took one last look at her mother's grave and left the cemetery headed for Revello Drive.
It was strange having him in her bed. She crawled in to join him glad that without being asked he had spent the night at her house since her mother's death.
"Good morning," he murmured.
"Did you have a nice talk with Angel?"
"Yeah. It was nice. Thanks for understanding."
"He was an important person in your life. I wouldn't begrudge you time with him under these circumstances. Feeling better?"
"Good. How's the baby?"
"Oh God, fine. Feels like I'm carrying around a set of weights."
"I imagine so. You don't have much longer."
"And then the fun begins."
His arm went around her and he ran his fingers through her hair. "Are you worried?"
"A little. Angel says I can't let this or the baby distract me from Glory."
"He's right. As much as I hate to say it. You know that we'll all help, but Glory needs to be your focus once you're able."
"That's so unfair."
"You're right it is. No one said this is going to be easy, Buffy."
"I wish I knew what to do now."
"Well, I've given that some thought over the last few days."
"First, you need to at least finish the quarter out. That's the easy part. As for the other. We could live here."
"I don't have the space to accommodate you, a baby and Dawn. And as I've been suggesting for the past eight months or so I want to be with you."
"I know it's soon, but think about it. Dawn's routine wouldn't be entirely disrupted. There'd be plenty of room for the baby."
"What about your place?"
"I'm renting and have been on a month to month lease for quite some time now."
"Of course I am. It makes the most sense, doesn't it?"
"Buffy, you don't have to decide now. But you can't leave Dawn here alone, you're due pretty much any day now."
"No, you're right. I'm just tired."
"Rightfully so. Get some rest. We can talk about it when you've thought it over some."
She curled against him as she normally did. She yawned and slid her arm around his stomach.
"I kissed him." She blurted it out before she'd really thought about what it would mean to tell him.
"Angel. I kissed him."
She felt his hand at her hair still. "And you expect me to what? Yell? Scream? Leave you?"
"Well, I wouldn't blame you."
"Buffy." He sat up then, leaned over her and looked her in the eyes. "I appreciate your honesty, but I'm not leaving you. You're at a very vulnerable point in your life right now. Your hormones are out of control. That in itself would be an excuse. Add to that your mother's illness, her death, schooling, Spike's developed crush on you."
"Oh, God, can we not talk about that please."
His lips twitched into a hint of a smile. "My point is, Buffy. I understand. You have feelings for Angel, you probably always will. If you want me to tell you you're a horrible person for turning to someone you care for for comfort I'll tell you. Is it going to happen again?"
"What? No, of course not."
"Well then. I won't deny it bothers me, I wouldn't be human if it didn't. But I know you didn't do it to be heartless or cruel."
"You're too good for me."
He stroked her cheek with the back of his hand. "I'm not leaving you, Buffy. I'm not going anywhere. It's not because you're pregnant. It's because you're you and I love you. If you went around kissing Angel every day I might have a problem with such behavior."
"Why don't you want to marry me?"
"You heard me."
"I, is that why you've hesitated to agree to move in with me? You think I don't want to marry you?"
"Well, it's all you've suggested."
"Because you're young yet, barely twenty years old. I wanted you to finish college, get a job," he shrugged. "Your heart is still a little raw from Angel and the other young man. I just assumed you'd prefer the option that required less of a commitment. That seems to have scared you enough. I'm not sure how you'd react to the suggestion we get married."
"Does that ease your mind?"
"I want whatever you feel comfortable with, Buffy. You've experienced a lot of changes in the past year. I think for now we should keep things as normal as we can, but that includes Dawn now. And you'll need to be with her."
"Just think on it. You do need to make a decision soon, though. The baby is going to be here within a month one way or another."
"Yeah. Are you getting up?" She asked when he slid off the bed.
"Just using the washroom. Is that all right?"
She draped her arm over her eyes while she waited for him to come back. It was so strange, foreign to her. She thought for sure telling him she kissed Angel would send him in the opposite direction. Maybe that was why she'd kissed Angel to begin with. Self-destructing. How was she supposed to know? She should have paid more attention in Professor Walsh's class.
She heard the door open and close again. She felt the extra weight on the bed when he joined her. She took a deep breath and turned her head to look at him.
"Let's do it."
"Live here. Us. You're right. It's the only thing that makes sense."
"Finally, she sees reason."
"We should clear it with Dawn first."
"Well, I'm not sure she has much choice. She doesn't want to live with Dad. Not to mention she can't."
"You should still make her think she has some say in things."
He set his hand over her abdomen. She was always amazed at how gentle he was with her now. Protective. She linked her hand with his, both laughed when the baby kicked.
"Active this morning."
"Yes, I'm surprised she has enough room to move. I don't think I have any room left to grow."
"You look beautiful, Buffy."
"You do. I've never paid much attention to women who were with child prior to this, but I can't recall seeing a prettier one."
"I feel huge. I can't walk right, I can barely see my feet, and I have to go to the bathroom all of the time. If we do this again we have to invest in a second bathroom."
"Another one? My, you are ambitious."
"I said if."
"Duly noted. Now, get some rest. We'll talk to Dawn later."
**Part Eleven** (spoilers through The Gift but AU as far as the end result)
It was done. Buffy stood at the edge of the platform, staring at the ground below her. She'd been too late. So close, but too late. Buffy knew Dawn did it intentionally. She had to have heard Buffy and Giles arguing.
Buffy had been unwilling to sacrifice Dawn. Giles had tried to get through to Buffy by using their daughter. Of course she deserved to live. She hadn't carried her for nine months and gone through labor only to have her live so short a life.
Damn it, she was tired of losing things. Was this the way it worked? She got Giles, lost her mom. Got Sydney, lost Dawn. Was life nothing but a bunch of trade offs.
"It sucks," she whispered, not bothering to wipe the tears away. She let them fall. Her gaze swept over Willow, Xander, Anya, Tara, Spike, and Giles. All looked exhausted but alive and breathing. Well, all but Spike who didn't need to breathe.
"I'm sorry, Dawn," she whispered. She had hoped there'd be another way. She tried to think of how proud she should be of Dawn. She had fought her way out of her restraints so that she could jump off. Her blood had to stop flowing. She had heard, she knew the ritual was about her blood.
Their plan had almost worked. Almost didn't count, though. She wondered now that Dawn was dead if the memories go away. She hoped not. She didn't want to forget. Spike collected Dawn's body in his arms, cradling her to his chest like a doll. She considered herself lucky to have Spike on her team. He had taken a beating from Glory which more than made up for the robot he'd had made in her likeness. At least as far as she was concerned it made up for it. Giles may not feel the same way.
She made her way from the platform down to the ground, watching the sky for any signs that the portal was still open. All appeared quiet. Job well done. So why did she feel like she'd gone fifteen rounds with Mike Tyson? And why did her heart feel worse than after she'd driven a sword through Angel?
She went immediately into Giles' arms. Her crying became little more than uncontrollable sobs then.
"I'm sorry, Buffy."
"I know. It shouldn't hurt this bad. I mean, I've only really known her less than a year, but it feels like Mom died all over again."
"At least you're not telling me it was for a good cause."
"I thought about it," he said and Buffy sensed he was teasing. "Are you ready to go home? We're all exhausted and will have to take shifts with Sydney as it is."
"Oh God," Buffy murmured. "I have to tell Janice. What do I tell her? Your friend left with us but didn't come back sorry. Oh and thanks for babysitting."
"We'll worry about that later. We'll think of something, Buffy."
She glanced at Spike who until a minute ago clutched Dawn to him like he could breathe life back into her. "What did you do with her? Where's Dawn?"
"Uh, Slayer, I didn't do anything with her. One minute she was here the next poof, she's gone."
"What do you mean?"
"Just what I said."
"Shh, Buffy, it's all right. I imagine her key powers had no more use for the human form they'd taken."
"I," she sobbed. "She's gone? She's really gone?"
"Let's get you home."
She let herself be led. She had no idea what the others were doing. She knew she should ask or find out, but there was a stronger pull for her to get home. To her daughter. Life must go on. She'd stopped it again, but there'd be another apocalypse. It never ended. It could suck the life out of someone. She got that now. She was grateful she had her friends, Giles and Sydney. They kept her grounded, gave her the will to live. And to keep trying.
She sent Janice home and curled up on the couch, putting her head in Giles' lap. She expected there to be nightmares but when she dreamt there was nothing but stillness, peace. And a reassuring presence that told her she'd done all that could have been done. She didn't have to like it or understand it. It was what it was. She was only supposed to have Dawn for a short amount of time.
She woke in her mom's room. Well, the room she and Giles shared now. It was still weird for her to get used to that. This house was hers now. She stretched and let her eyes flutter closed before the panic hit her. She had slept in. She had slept through Sydney crying. She threw back the covers and ran down the stairs only to find Willow reading a magazine with Sydney in her infant seat nearby.
"Buffy, hey. We didn't wake you, did we?"
"Uh, no. What's going on?"
"Well, this is give Buffy some rest day. We all thought you'd earned it."
"You guys helped."
"Well, yeah, but," Willow shrugged, setting the magazine down. "We didn't have the emotional stakes you did. I mean, we all loved Dawn."
"I know. I still can't believe it. She's gone. Why give us the memories if they were just going to take her away again?"
"I don't know. I guess we never will."
"Where's everyone else?"
"Tara's upstairs in your old room sleeping. She was on the early shift. Xander and Anya are off doing whatever they do. But you weren't really asking about them, were you? You're wondering where Giles is. And I don't know. He went out earlier after making sure I didn't mind having baby duty for a while."
"So, if you want to sleep some more, take a shower, or whatever go for it. Take advantage of the free babysitting while I'm still feeling generous."
"Yes, I know, because caring for your goddaughter is such a hardship."
"You know it is. Go get some more rest. You not only deserve it, you need it. When you get going again it's going to really hit you hard."
"Maybe I will. Thanks for everything, Will. You helped. You all did. I couldn't have done it without you. I mean, Dawn wouldn't have had a chance without you guys."
"You don't need to thank me. Any of us."
She went back upstairs and got back into bed. Willow was right. She deserved a day to just wallow. Tomorrow she could be Buffy again. Today she needed to say good bye to Dawn.
She must have dosed because the next thing she knew Giles was lying next to her and it wasn't so light out anymore.
"Hmm, yes, Buffy, it's me."
"What time is it?"
"Oh. I'm sorry."
"No, it's fine. We were all in agreement that you get as much rest as you needed."
She pushed her hair back and sat up, propping a pillow up behind her. "Are you mad?"
"Mad? Whatever for?"
"Well, you moved in here for nothing."
"Buffy. That's the least of my concerns and shouldn't even be one of yours. I moved in here of my own free will. You didn't twist my arm or make me."
"Yeah, but without Dawn we could have made do at your place."
"And made do is exactly what we would have done. That place wasn't designed with a family in mind, Buffy."
"Buffy, I kept that place because I had no reason to look for a different one. To be honest, I assumed Sunnydale would only be a temporary stop in my life."
"Obviously, that's not the case. If Ethan could hear me now he'd be laughing. But my home is with you and Sydney, Buffy. It doesn't matter to me what structure's roof we live under. And I know it would mean a great deal to you to raise Sydney here."
"Yeah it would."
"So, this is where we'll stay. This is my home now, Buffy. I do have one question for you, though."
"Will you let me make an honest woman out of you?"
"Well, now that the hormones aren't raging a war inside of you and Glory has been dealt with." He showed her the palm of his hand. Inside was a diamond ring. "It was my mother's. It's nothing fancy, but it seemed fitting you have it even if you don't say yes. So that Sydney can have it, too."
"Giles, it's beautiful. I don't know what to say."
"Yes would be a start. Or at least tell me your answer isn't no. We don't have to do it tomorrow. A year from now, two years from now. Whenever. I want you to know the intention is there. I'd still like to see you finish your schooling."
"Yes?" He slid the ring onto her finger. She stared at it for a minute, not believing it was real.
"Do I need to repeat myself?"
"I was just making sure I heard correctly."
She heard Sydney fuss.
"That would be our cue. I'm afraid Sydney Joyce has worn out the volunteers today, so we're on our own for the rest of the evening."
"That's fine. I could use some time for just us."
"I thought you might. Lord knows how long the quiet will last."
She slid out of bed, the glint of the ring catching her eye as she ran her fingers through her hair.
"Do you like it?"
"Yes, very much."
"As do I. I meant what I said, Buffy. I've spent years with no place to really call home. Until now. You've given me that. A home. A family. I hadn't even realized what I was missing."
"Family's pretty important."
"Yes, I'd say so. And that includes those that get taken in to the fold as well as those born into it."
"Good thing I have plenty that I've taken in."
"Indeed. And if I failed it to mention it yesterday. You did well. I know it was a difficult situation."
"Thanks, but I didn't really do anything. Dawn did it. She jumped before I could stop her."
"She was a brave girl and knew what needed to be done."
"I loved her so much."
"We all did."
"Buffy Giles. I like the sound of that. Does that mean I have to start calling you Rupert?"
"I've been meaning to talk to you about that."
"Yeah, yeah," she said as they headed down the hall together to check on Sydney.
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com