A week of peaceful sleep, Giles could hardly believe the difference it made on his entire outlook of things. The first night Buffy had crawled into bed with him he had been sorely tempted to make love to her there and then. But the gentleman in him refused to let him when he was in the wrong frame of mind. The gentleman had been right, Buffy deserved better than his taking her out of urgent need.

It was not just sex either that he needed from her, he believed Buffy could keep him safe. Until he was safe on his own accord, could sleep through the night without reaching to ensure she was really there he would not make love to her.

Tonight would be the true test, she was patrolling because there had been a few suspicious deaths listed in the obituaries. He had no idea how late she was going to be, but he refused to pour himself the glass of scotch that was calling his name before he headed to bed. He had gone almost a week without a drink, without that crutch, and he needed to prove to himself that it was not just Buffy that was enabling him to do it.

He had spent a good portion of the past five years going to bed each night numb. He could not do that any longer if he had any hopes of hanging onto Buffy. Hanging onto Buffy. Is that what he wanted to do? God, yes, it was. But he refused to enter into anything with her when either of them was broken.

He buttoned up the house and prepared for bed, leaving the bathroom light on so that Buffy would see her way clearly. He doubted the risings she was seeing to would take her too long and so he fell asleep, comforted in the fact that he would not be alone for very long.

He woke suddenly; sweat permeating off his body and gasping for air. Despite it being just a dream, he tasted bile and other fowl things in his throat as if the dream had really occurred. He went to the bathroom, knowing that when it was this bad there was no alternative for him but to empty his stomach of its meager contents. At least the nights he drank he did not wake up in this manner. He would take a hangover any day.

As if things were not bad enough, Buffy finding him in the bathroom heaving into the commode was not at all what he had envisioned for her return. How humiliating!

"Giles," she called out. "How long have you been like this?" she asked. He heard her moving around the bathroom, but felt so weak and embarrassed that he did not hasten a glance in her direction for fear he would see repulsion in her eyes for being such a weakling.

"I don't know, Buffy, it seems like forever."

Suddenly, she was near him, flushing the commode before she knelt beside him. He felt a cloth applied to his face which she had dampened with cool water and groaned in pleasure at it. "I'm so sorry, Giles. I had no idea."

"It's okay, not your fault. I have to learn to get through this on my own."

"No, you don't, Giles. It's not as if I'm going anywhere. I want to help you through this."

"And then what? You leave? I don't know that I could stomach that, Buffy."

"I hadn't really thought about it. Do you want me to stay?"

He glanced at her as she continued to sponge his face and neck with the cool washcloth. "Yes," he whispered. "I want you with me. Forever."

Her eyes looked wounded and he wondered what he had said wrong. "There is no such thing as forever, Giles."

"I'm not Angel or Riley, Buffy. I have never left you."

"But you did, when I needed you most you left."

"When you needed me least I left, my dear. I left because you needed to come to rely on yourself and your abilities where Dawn and life in general were concerned. I was sick of being your crutch while you carried on with Spike right under our noses."

"I was in a bad place, Giles."

"I know you were, but you never once talked to me about it. I'm sorry if I hurt you, and I swear to you I'll never leave you again, but it had to be done."

"This isn't just because you can sleep when I'm here is it?"

"Hardly. I was sleeping without you, I just couldn't be sober to do it."

"I had no idea you felt this way. This past week has been amazing. I've never felt so loved, so cherished, so accepted."

"And it's high time you experienced those feelings. I've felt this way for some time, but never deigned to believe you would reciprocate so I remained quiet. But the minute you crawled into bed with me, I knew I couldn't keep quiet a moment longer."

She smiled slightly at him and he wondered what she was thinking. "I don't make it a habit of crawling into bed with just anybody."

"I'm fully aware of that, which is why I knew I couldn't let you leave again. If you truly wanted to," he sighed softly.

"I'd like to travel some more, I won't deny that, but it'd be more fun if you traveled with me. Going it alone gets kind of boring after a while."

"Here here," he said with a low chuckle. He sat up slowly, his head was no longer spinning and he felt all right. He cupped her cheek with his hand and met her gaze with his own. "I love you, Buffy," he said fully expecting her to recoil from those words. He had seen her do it time and time again.

"I love you, too," she whispered and Giles could tell though the words were spoken with sincerity they had been difficult to say.

"I'll clean up in here and then you can tell me about your patrol."

"Sure," she said as she stood from the floor and placed the washcloth over the edge of the sink. "Take your time." He saw the concern for him evident in her eyes and he realized that he was not going to heal or get better over night. It was going to take time, but he felt as though a huge weight had been removed from his shoulders knowing he know longer had to bare the burden alone as he had for the past five years.

~The End~

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