Author: missparker85 PM
A slayer and her Watcher forge a new kind of alliance. Buffy:Giles. Season 4 AU.Rated: Fiction M - English - Romance - Buffy S. & R. Giles - Words: 23,597 - Reviews: 37 - Favs: 95 - Follows: 4 - Published: 08-30-07 - Status: Complete - id: 3757978
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Giles could hardly remember the last time he was alone in his apartment with his slayer. She came over less often now, and rarely without the others. But now, here she was, standing in his darkening living room, watching him steadily.
"Would you like me to patrol with you?" he asked, looking to fill the silence. She had come over with Willow and when Willow had left, she'd made excuses to stay. Giles couldn't figure out why, why now?
"No," she said. "I mean, you can if you want, but that isn't why I stayed."
"Ah," Giles said. He knew Buffy would tell him in her own time and so he moved into the small kitchen to put the kettle on. She followed him to the door and leaned against it, watching him gather all the necessary ingredients for his tea.
"Do you know what I really want to do?" she asked.
"Do tell," he said, a little surprised by her coy attitude.
"Go see a movie," she said, dreamily. "A nice, normal movie on a weekday night in Sunnydale."
"Well I'm sure that Willow isn't that far ahead," Giles said. "You could still catch her."
"With you," Buffy said smiling a little. "I meant with you."
"Ah," he said. "That would be a first for us."
"I know you and I are all like, all business and no pleasure but I think that maybe that isn't right," she said. "I think that we could do both, if we tried." The look on Giles' face softened into genuine affection.
"That's a very mature attitude and one I wholly support," he said. "I'd be honored."
"Good," she said. "You pick."
Giles looked up times in the paper while Buffy was in the bathroom 'washing her hands' and, making sure she had a warm enough jacket and a few stakes, they set off on foot toward the theater downtown.
"Are things all right with you and Willow?" Giles asked as they walked side by side in the cool night air. Buffy's shoes were loud against the concrete and he tried to match his own steps to hers.
"Yeah," she said. "I'm just not used to the 24/7 that comes along with sharing a room yet. I needed some Watcher time."
"And your classes?" he asked.
"Same as when you asked yesterday," she said. "I want to hear about you." This made Giles slow their pace and she jerked a little since she was holding onto his elbow.
"Are you sure you're quite all right?" he asked.
"I'm fine," she said. "I'm just trying to make us right again." She smiled at him, trying to convey her understanding that things had not been perfect between them and he smiled back, accepting her need to try to fix them.
"What would you like to know?" he asked, resuming their walk. The lights of the theater could be seen in the distance and he patted her hand encouragingly.
"Everything," she said. "Tell me anything at all."
So, mostly to suit her, he spoke lightly about his week and this took them through the line and up until the previews. And to her credit, or perhaps his own, she didn't seem bored once. Her eyes were bright, she laughed at his jokes, and when the lights went down in the theater, she didn't take her hand off his arm for the duration of the film.
Giles fully expected Buffy's attentiveness to fade away within the week. It wasn't that he accused her of being uncaring but she was a young woman with a full course load and full time job as protector of the human race. It was a lot to balance without adding himself onto her plate. In reality, he was supposed to be a source of strength for her and she should never have to worry about his feelings. Still, it was nice that she did and continued to do so. He could see that she was truly making an effort. And it wasn't just an effort to see him more, but to have more time alone with him. Just a Slayer and her Watcher, she'd explained.
She started to check in with him after every patrol, something she'd stopped when the mayor had become the big bad. Now, every night around midnight he would hear her light knock on his door and he would let her in. Most nights she was fine, perky and filled with the thrill of a successful hunt. Sometimes she was tired from a busy day and didn't stay long after her tea cup was empty. He was always curious to see how she would be each night.
When the knock came on this particular night, he was excited to see her because he hadn't seen her since the night before and it was rare now that he went 24 hours with out seeing or at least hearing from her. When he opened the door though, she was doubled over, clutching her stomach.
"Dear lord," he said.
"I think I'm bleeding," she said, and stumbled into his apartment. He helped her over to the couch and when she moved her arm, he saw the deep gash that was just above her belly button. Her sleeve was soaked with her own blood and she looked a little dizzy.
"Oh," he said, "Oh," and rushed away to get the first-aid kit. She slumped until she was flat on her back and he knelt down and lifted her shirt enough to see the wound. "What happened?" he asked, using cotton balls and hydrogen peroxide to clean it out as best he could.
"Demon," she said. "Big sun of a gun, with all of these claws and protruding bone things…"
"I need you to sit up so I can wrap this," he said and helped her up. She tucked the hem of her ruined shirt into the bottom of her bra so it didn't get in the way. "Is it still out there?"
"In tiny bits and pieces," she said. "It took me a while to realize that it got me. Lucky I was so close."
"I think I'll get you a cell phone," he murmured. "Just in case you're not close."
"Ooh, presents," she said, but it was half-hearted and she was beginning to slump again as he circled her body with clean, white gauze.
"Stay with me, Buffy," he said, loudly and she jolted.
"I feel dizzy," she mumbled as he tied off the bandage.
"I want you to drink some juice before you go to sleep," he said. "Can you do that for me?"
"Sure," she said, yawning. He moved quickly to the kitchen to pour her some orange juice and she drank it dutifully.
"In the morning, we'll have a look at it and see if we need to go to the hospital," he said, though he knew she would heal a lot in the night. "Come on, up to bed."
"Giles, I have to go home to my mom, I promised," she said as he pulled her to her feet.
"Not tonight," he said. "I'll let your mother know you're all right."
She took a few steps and stumbled. He reached for her knees and picked her up easily, maneuvering her up the staircase to the loft. She let her head rest against his chest until he deposited her on the bed. He took off her shoes.
"Raise your arms," he ordered and she did. He pulled her shirt up and over her head. He tossed it in the trash and tried to avert his eyes from her lacy, white bra as he lifted the covers and she crawled in. It didn't show much but still, it was too delicate against her pale skin to be ignored completely.
"My Watcher," she mumbled into his pillow.
"Yes," he said. "You're safe with me."
He made sure she was covered and that the blood was not seeping through the dressing to the blanket before he shut off the light and went back downstairs. This was not the first time she'd appeared at his house injured. Still, calling her mother in the middle of the night was not his favorite task but it would be worse for Joyce to wake up to find that her daughter hadn't returned so he picked up the phone and dialed the number he knew so well. It rang four times before she answered sleepily.
"Mrs. Summers, this is Mr. Giles," he said softly. "I'm sorry to disturb you at such an hour."
"Is it about Buffy?" she asked, suddenly alert.
"I'm afraid Buffy is with me just know. She had rather a rough night," he said. "She's fine, she is just tired."
"Oh," Joyce said. "But she's not hurt?"
"Not badly; scrapes and bruises. I assure you I'll return her to you in the morning," he said.
"I'll come get her," she said.
"She's already asleep, and she's perfectly safe," Giles said. "I just didn't want you to worry."
"Well, thank you, I suppose," she said. "Goodnight."
"Goodnight," he said, and hung up. Giles knew it must be hard from Joyce's point of view. Her daughter too hurt or tired to come home and spending the night at his home, an older, single man. He knew how it all looked. Buffy could talk to her mother about Watchers and Slayers until she was blue in the face but Joyce would never understand. Even Willow and Xander and all the friends that would come along couldn't fully understand the importance of the relationship. How much a Slayer needed her Watcher and how much a Watcher would give in return.
He did have to say that this was the first time he'd put her to sleep in his own bed, but it was no matter. He made up the couch and kicked off his own shoes. He wouldn't sleep well knowing Buffy was just upstairs. He wouldn't sleep well until he knew she was healed.
He did doze for a while and woke suddenly when he heard her footsteps on the stairs. It wasn't yet morning and a glance at the clock told him it was just after four am. He sat up quickly.
"Buffy, are you all right?" he asked, reaching blindly to turn on the lamp. His glasses were on the table across the room so he didn't bother. Buffy was on the stairs in her bra and a pair of his own boxer shorts – a sight that made him stop and startle with a strange prickly heat down his spine. Buffy in his and hers underwear. The image of Buffy going through his bureau looking for something comfortable to wear.
"I'm starving," she said, honestly. "I can't sleep."
"You lost a good deal of blood," he said. "Come down and I'll fix you a snack."
"Thank you," she said, seemingly unembarrassed about her state of undress. Honestly, he'd seen her in less, or at least the same amount in bathing suits and those tiny training outfits she preferred. This was more intimate, thought, with her standing in his living room at odd hours. It was disorienting him. He fixed her a sandwich and a glass of milk and brought it over to the coffee table where she'd taken his spot on the sofa. She smiled and took the meal, eating it gratefully.
"Sit up," he said. "Let me see."
The gauze was stained pink but it didn't look too saturated.
"It doesn't hurt as much," she offered.
"Do you think I ought to redress it before you go back to bed?" he asked and she shrugged.
"It's probably fine," she said, around her sandwich. "Won't even scar."
"I'm glad it wasn't deeper," he said with audible concern. He reached out to press his fingers against the pink stain to gauge her reaction to the pain but she didn't even flinch. Instead she reached out her free hand to touch his tousled hair.
"I'm fine," she said. "Thanks to you."
"If you're finished," he said, taking the empty dishes. "Off to bed."
"I feel bad," she said. "I can take the couch."
"Absolutely not," he said, setting the dishes into the sink. "Not another word on the matter." But she didn't seem ready to go back to sleep. Instead she wrapped the blanket he'd been using around her bare shoulders.
"Did my mother give you a hard time?" she asked.
"None more so than usual," he said.
"It was my fault. I totally promised that I'd come home tonight and I bailed," she said. "I never see her anymore."
"I think she understands, Buffy," he said, sitting next to her of the sofa and putting his feet on the coffee table. "You're in college now, living in the dorms. Most parents don't see their children until the holidays. In all honesty, your mother is lucky you live close enough to come home on the weekends."
"I guess," she said. "Giles, how come you never had any kids?"
"Oh," he said. "I…"
"Wow, sorry," she said. "That was a really personal question and I just blurted it right out."
"No," he said. "It's a valid question. I suppose the answer is because I am your Watcher."
"But," she said, cocking her head as if thinking deeply, but he knew it was because she was tired. "Your grandmother was a Watcher and your father… so…." She trailed off.
"My family has been in the Watcher's Council for many generations, that's true, but I am the only Giles to ever receive an active Slayer," he said. "I learned that you would be my Slayer before you were even called."
"What?" she sat up, the blanket falling off her shoulders. "I didn't know that!"
"Oh yes," he said. "You were a unique case, of course. A potential without a Watcher. You were eleven before anyone in the council realized you were a potential and by then it was too late. Some girls are overlooked and the council just sort of hopes that they are never called. When they discovered you, and discovered that I was supposed to be your Watcher, I think they were pleased because they weren't too happy with me anyway."
"Then why did they send Merrick to L.A. instead of you?" she asked, now awake again fully.
"Because when you were called, it was a surprise and they wanted to send a more… experienced Watcher to inform you of your delicate situation," he said.
"That was stupid," she said. "It got him killed."
"Rather me than him?" he asked, teasingly.
"No," she said. "Thought you wouldn't have gotten yourself killed. Knocked out, maybe," she said, with a smile. "Why didn't you tell me this before?"
"You were never interested before now," he said and she looked a little guilty.
"I'm sorry," she whispered.
"Don't be. You've been doing your job supremely well."
"So, no kids?" she prodded.
"No kids because, and this is going to sound very cheesy so bear with me, because I am completely and utterly devoted to you," he said. "You are the Slayer and I am your Watcher."
"It's not cheesy," she said, smiling and leaning her head against his shoulder, pulling the blanket up over her again. "It's sweet."
"And enough for tonight," he said. "Let's put you back to bed, shall we?"
"We shall," she said. They climbed the stairs together and he made sure she was comfortable. "Will you tell me more about Watchers and Slayers in the morning?" she asked.
"Of course," he said, turning off the lamp and heading for the stairs. "Goodnight."
"Wait," she said, sitting up. "Wait a minute. I'm having a thought."
"What is it?" he asked, concerned.
"You said… um, you said that I was discovered and that you were supposed to be my Watcher. What did you mean?" she asked.
"It's not a random assignment," he said, walking over to her in the darkness and sitting on the edge of bed so he could talk to her. Her hair was almost silver in the moonlight. "Did you think we just drew names out of a hat?"
"I don't know, maybe," she said. "How does it work?"
"There is a spell, I think," he said. "I'm not entirely sure, actually. But that's why it's such a problem when a Slayer loses her Watcher. Partly why, I think, Faith went bad so soon. She saw her Watcher murdered. The council sends another Watcher but the deep bond is gone."
"Are we… are we bonded?" she asked.
"Oh yes," he said, surprised. "Can't you feel it?"
"I… I don't know," she said. "What does it feel like?"
"I only know what it feels like to me, Buffy," he said. "I'm not sure about your end."
"What does it feel like to you?" she asked.
"Like a deep… a deep pull. Something ancient, something strong that makes me want to protect you, to be close to you. It feels like I know you better than anyone else in the world. Like I understand you. It feels like when you hurt, I ought to feel the same pain. Do you understand?" he asked.
"Kind of," she said. "I'm not sure."
He reached out and touched her neck with his warm hand.
"Go to sleep," he said. "I'll be here in the morning."
"Okay," she said, laying down against the pillow again. "Sometimes I dream about you. Is that because of the bond?"
"Depends on what you dream," he said. She didn't respond. "Goodnight."
"Goodnight," she said. He went downstairs and sat back down on the couch. He put his head in his hands. He felt drained emotionally, and exhausted. But even with his eyes closed, in the darkness, all he could hear was, sometimes I dream about you.
He dreamed about Buffy, too.
Buffy was awake and downstairs when he opened his eyes to the early morning light. The noise of her making tea pulled him from sleep and he sat up, rubbing his face. Buffy had put on his gray t-shirt and was moving quietly around his kitchen.
"What time is it?" he asked.
"Almost seven," she said. "Do you want tea?"
"Always," he said. She smiled. "You look like you're feeling better."
"I am," she said. "I didn't take off the gauze, though. In case all my insides fell out."
"Lovely," he murmured, accepting the cup of tea. She wasn't sure if he meant the tea or her colorful mention of viscera but she didn't ask.
"I was thinking, while you were sleeping the day away," she said.
"You mean while I was sleeping the wee morning hours away after my Slayer kept me up at four am?" he interjected sarcastically.
"Whatever, I was thinking that I want to learn more about this bond thingy," she said, sitting next to him. "Will you teach me?"
"Yes," he said. "I will."
"Great," she said but then her expression changed. "I should go home."
"Let me remove your bandages before you go," he said. She lifted her shirt dutifully while he unwound the many feet of gauze and dropped it into the wastepaper basket. Of her profusely bleeding gash, there was only a dark pink line remaining. In a few days, it would be gone.
"Gotta love that healing rate," she said, happily.
"Indeed," he said. "Want me to drive you home?"
"Nah," she said. "I'll see you tonight. Thanks for taking care of me."
"My pleasure. See you tonight. With my clothes, I hope," he added as she pulled on her jeans over his boxers and gathered her stuff around the apartment.
"Ha," she said. "Why would I even let you borrow my new gray t-shirt?" she asked, closing his front door behind her.
"Damn, I liked that one," he said into the empty room.
When Buffy returned later, it was before patrol and she had Willow with her.
"Hi Giles!" Willow greeted him cheerfully.
"Hello, Willow," he said warmly. "To what do I owe the pleasure?"
"Just hangin' with the Buffster," she said. "Mind if I stay and do homework while you train?"
"No," he said. "You know you're always welcome."
Without the library, they had lost their training space and had learned to make-do. Most nights, they started their training session with a run around the neighborhood before dark really fell. He was already in his track pants and t-shirt. Buffy disappeared into the bathroom and reappeared in shorts and his gray t-shirt.
"Wearing it so boldly?" he asked.
"Girls steal men's clothes," she said. "Deal."
"Are you sassing me?" he teased. "You? The Slayer? Sassing your Watcher? Unbelievable."
"Ha, ha," she said as he opened the door. "We'll be back," she called to Willow who was watching them closely.
"Bye," Willow called.
It was still warm out in the late afternoon sun but they ran through the heat. In the beginning, Giles set the pace while he still had the energy. He ran a couple paces ahead of her, making sure he could always hear her feet beating out his rhythm on the concrete. He led them through the neighborhood and to the nearby park where there was a jogging path. The path was considerably wider than the sidewalk so they ran side by side. Giles was breathing hard and sweating but beside him Buffy was calm and focused. Her eyes stared straight ahead and she took every step as seriously as the last and next. Admittedly, it was hard to get Buffy to focus on a great many things but when she was like this, it was astounding and beautiful.
He got two miles in before he fell behind her. Now it was her turn to lead them and he tried to keep up as long as he could, watching her sweat begin to show through the gray shirt and how her thigh muscles moved beneath her skin. Her pony tale swung with each step as she lead them away from the park and back onto the sidewalk toward his flat. By the time they reached the door, his lungs were burning and he had to lean over for a moment to catch his breath while his vision swam. He felt her cool hand against his sweaty neck.
"You okay?" she asked.
"Yes," he said, straightening up. He did feel a little better, suddenly. "I could use some water."
"I'm on that train," she said, opening the door and heading for the refrigerator where he kept cold water for them both. "Hey Wil," she called.
"Giles," called Willow, her head appearing on the other side of the kitchen counter. "Can you speak Aramaic?"
"Is the pope Catholic?" he called back as Buffy handed him his water with a smirk. He twisted off he cap and drained half of it down in one, freezing gulp. Buffy was doing the same.
"Ha," Willow said, sarcastically. "Well, I was sort of hoping you could maybe help me with my Ancient Languages homework?" Buffy rolled her eyes.
"Only UC Sunnydale would have an Ancient Languages course. Stupid Hellmouth," she griped.
"Now, now," he said, as they entered the living room where Willows academic efforts had consumed his coffee table. "Buffy, why don't you go shower first while I help Willow?"
"We're done training already?" she asked, surprised and, if he looked hard, a little disappointed.
"Today's training is more educational, as per, uh, your request," he said and her face brightened.
"Oh yeah!" she said. "Okay," and she disappeared down the hall into the bathroom. Since his home had become her training space, he'd begun to stock his bathroom with her preferred brand of shampoo and conditioner as well as some flowery smelling body wash that he thought would suit her and so far she hadn't complained. When he heard the shower start he went and sat across from Willow.
"See, I'm supposed to translate this paragraph and then write a response in Aramaic… phonetically of course since we haven't quite mastered the alphabet but there are a few words and phrases that I'm unsure about," Willow said, pointing to some highlighted passages. And so, Giles did what he did best and helped her with the assignment patiently and knowledgeably.
"Better?" he asked, as she gave a final look to her paper.
"So much, thanks," she said. "So, since that's out of the way, I was wondering if I could ask you something else?"
"All right," he said, looking at Willow who now wore a sort of weary expression.
"It's about Buffy," Willow said. "She's been much… more…"
"I want to say focused but that isn't the right word," Willow said. "I don't know! It's like she's still Buffy but she's way more…"
"Mature?" he supplied.
"Yes! But I don't want to imply that she was immature before," she added hastily. "What is it that you two have been doing? You've changed her, Giles. She spends all this time with you now." Giles, in the background, heard the shower turn off. He lowered his voice.
"I'm afraid it isn't me, Willow. All those changes have been Buffy's doing. It was her choice to step up her training."
"But Xander saw you two getting ice cream the other day and Mrs. Summers told me that she saw you and Buffy at the market last week," Willow said. Giles remembered that trip – they'd went out to buy something for dinner since his cupboards had been embarrassingly bare but he didn't remember seeing Joyce. Why had she not approached them?
"We're friends," Buffy's voice startled them both. She stood in the hallway with Giles' green towel wrapped around her. They'd lowered their voices but of course she was the Slayer and probably heard every word. "Friends go to the movies, eat ice cream, and make dinner together."
"Oh," Willow said. "Well, good."
"Your turn, Giles," she said, and disappeared up the stairs into his bedroom to change. Willow at least had enough decency to look somewhat ashamed.
"If there is ever anything wrong with Buffy, I'd never keep it from her friends," Giles promised Willow. Instead of waiting for her reply, he stepped into the bathroom and closed the door. The room was steamy and warm from the shower before and he stripped his clothes and tossed them into the hamper. Inside was his gray t-shirt and the rest of what Buffy was wearing while they jogged. He started the water and stepped under the hot spray. Inside the shower smelled overwhelmingly female. He hadn't lived with a woman in a very long time and it'd taken him a while to get used to the way women took over bathrooms. Buffy didn't even live here but already his shower belonged to her. It smelled like her, it was full of pink bottles and there was even a tiny pink razor that sat on the windowsill. He was thinking about just giving it to her completely and moving all this things to the tiny upstairs bathroom and just dealing with the minuscule shower.
Giles had left his jeans and sweater in the bathroom and he was glad he had something to change into. When he emerged, Buffy was sitting with Willow in the living room, watching something on his small television. She'd apparently brought a change of clothes since she hadn't raided his closet this time. Both girls looked up at him when he appeared.
"Willow, Buffy and I have to train now," he said, softly.
"Oh, say no more," she said, shoving her books and notes into her backpack and zipping it up. "Bye," she said, rushing out of the door. Buffy stood and shut the television off.
"I don't think Willow meant anything by her questions," he said.
"I know. She feels a little abandoned, I think," Buffy said, shrugging. "She doesn't understand about you."
"What about me?" he asked.
"Why I would want to spend so much time with you," she clarified. "For all the time we all have spent together, she still doesn't really understand the whole Watcher thing."
"Exactly," he murmured. He'd had the same thought just last night. "I forgot to ask about your wound."
"It's fine," she said, pulling up her t-shirt so he could see the thin white line it had become. "So, wanna bond?" she asked suggestively. He chuckled.
"Help me move away the furniture. We need a clear space." Together they pushed the couch and table against the walls. Giles moved around his apartment gathering some supplies; a few crystals and a green candle. He set them up in the center of the space. "Turn off all the lamps, Buffy," he said. She killed all the lights and watched him light the candle. It cast a great glow, one much too big for the size of the candle. He heard her breathe in audibly.
"Magic?" she asked.
"A bit," he said. "Come sit down." She sat across from him on the rug and he looked at her through the glow of the flame. "It's going to help with our concentration."
"Okay, what are we concentrating on?" she asked, feeling game. His apartment looked warm and welcoming in the soft light and she realized that there was nowhere she'd rather be than with him, in this moment. Giles with his kind eyes and complete devotion.
"This is going to help you locate the bond. Me too, I suppose. But I already know where to look and you need a little help," he said. "Now, hold out your hands." In to each palm he squeezed a drop of oil that smelled spicy and good; a little like Christmas. "This helps act as a conduit," he explained. He put some onto his own hands and pressed his palms against hers. They laced their fingers together. "Just close your eyes and think about me."
It was all very intimate – almost romantic though thinking that was sort of confusing to Buffy. His hands were warm and large and felt nice in her own. He whispered something in Latin, and she closed her eyes and did as he asked. She thought about Giles. She focused on his steady breathing, on the pulse she could feel through his skin. She felt herself drift away from the room, from Sunnydale, from the whole world until all that was holding her down was the heat she felt from their hands. Suddenly she realized that there actually was heat, more than just two bodies pumping blood and oxygen. There was a delicious tendril of heat that was curling up her hands and through her arms all the way through her heart and down to her… oh my.
Giles heard Buffy gasp and opened his eyes in time to see hers fly open as well. He felt her pull away but he held her hands tightly so she didn't let go.
"What…" she said, breathlessly. "What is that?"
"That's you and me," he said softly.
"I didn't expect it to be so…" she struggled. "Personal." He of course, felt it too, the warmth, the comfort, and then the hot stab of arousal. He at least had sort of suspected something like that to occur after reading through centuries worth of Watchers' Diaries. He'd not yet told her that most of the Watchers and Slayers that actively pursued strengthening their bond often ran into the wall of what to do with their sexuality. It was so deeply connected to the bond.
"You can at least feel it now," he said. "Can you feel it when we aren't touching? When we just sit here?" He pulled his hands away and she seemed reluctant to let go this time. She closed her eyes for a moment.
"Yes," she whispered. "Like a low buzz. It's almost like how I can feel when a vampire is near. Except for it isn't pain this time, but warmth." She looked up at him with a smile. "It's like I'd know you were here even if I couldn't see you."
"Good," he said. "I put together some materials for you to read up on the bonding process."
"Homework, yay," she said as he went upstairs to fetch her assignment. "I can still feel it," she called up to the loft. "It gets fainter as you move away from me, but it's still there."
He reappeared at the top of the stairs.
"Eventually it will get to the point that it's a steady feeling, no matter where we are in the world," he said. "If we pursue this, I mean."
"Cool," she said.
"Enough for tonight, though," he said, coming back down the stairs and handing her a few books. They were marked for her purposes and she shifted them to one hip. He blew out the candle and when the lamp light lit the room once more, it was sort of disappointing. Like the magic had gone. But it hadn't, because she was still warm and flushed in his presence.
"I guess that's my cue to go," she said sadly.
"Oh, if you'd like," he said. "I was going to offer you dinner but if you have other plans…"
"Nope," she said. "Feel free to feed me."
"Well, there's uh, chicken and a salad, and I'm pretty certain I bought a loaf of bread…" he said, disappearing into the kitchen. Knowing her skills did not extend into the kitchen, she left him to it and sat down to start reading the books he'd given her. It was better, at least, than doing her own homework. Soon, the sounds of Giles cooking in the other room faded away and she was completely enthralled in the words she was reading. It was fascinating all the things that could be gained from enhancing this aspect of their relationship. From the looks of this, it was going to make her a much better Slayer.
"Buffy," Giles called softly. "Come sit down." His voice jolted her back to the present and she left the book on the sofa. He held out her chair for her and sat down across from her. She was quiet as he served her and then himself. Once they both had full plates, she started eating, still silent. "Are you all right?"
"Huh?" she asked. "Oh, yeah."
"Penny for your thoughts, then?" he asked.
"I just… why didn't we do this earlier? This bond thing if you knew it was going to help so much?" she asked.
"Buffy, I couldn't just walk up to you and ask you if you wanted to become closer to me," he said, laughing. "It had to be your idea. Your heart must be truly in it if it is going to help at all."
"Oh," she said. "But what if I never asked?"
"You're a good Slayer and I have every faith you will remain one if we don't do this," he assured her.
"You keep saying that," she said. "Do this."
"It's not just homework and hand holding?" she asked.
"There are ritualistic elements," he said, thoughtfully. "The manual suggests we take a retreat somewhere. Go to the woods, perhaps, where no one will bother us. There are strengthening spells, exercises," he shrugged.
"Well we'd better go soon," she said. "I don't camp in the winter." He chuckled.
"I'll start looking for a suitable location," he promised her. "And, Buffy, can I just stay that I'm thrilled you want to take this step?"
"Me too," she said.
Giles decided to take her over the Halloween weekend. It was a slow night for demons and vampires and it would keep them both away from any Halloween hijinks.
"But what about candy and costumes and parties?" Willow had asked, surprised at Buffy's willingness to give up on one of the most sacred of college holidays.
"Oh, I'm bringing the candy, never you mind," Buffy said, throwing a bag of mini snickers into her duffel bag as if to illustrate her point. "I'm sorry, Wil, I know that you wanted to spend this time with me but I have to do this."
"Okay," Willow said. "I just… wish you would tell me what was up sometimes."
"What do you mean?" Buffy asked.
"You and all your special non-scooby training. And how you and Giles seem all hyper-aware of each other all the time," Willow said.
"You noticed that?" Buffy asked.
"People in China have been noticing," Willow said dryly. "You're all finishing each other's sentences and the other night you totally opened the door for him before he even knocked."
"Okay," Buffy said. She wasn't sure why she'd been withholding the details of this new training from her best friend. It just had all seemed very personal and special and she hadn't wanted to share but she could see how left out Willow was feeling. "So Giles and I have been working on our Watcher/Slayer bond," she said.
"And when you say bond you mean, like movie night and palm readings right?" Willow asked.
"I mean dark, mystical magicks and ancient historical precedent," Buffy said. "It's like… we're attached to each other. And the stronger we make the bond, the stronger I become as a Slayer."
"Like a Giles homing signal?" Willow asked.
"Sort of. More like, I sort of know where he is and how he's feeling," Buffy explained. "But it keeps changing. At first I could just tell if he was nearby but now it's more like trying to find his signal on a radio."
"I guess I understand," Willow said in a tone that meant she clearly did not.
"It's just for one or two nights," Buffy promised. "After that we'll party hearty."
"Okay," Willow said. That night in bed with the lights off, Willow's curiosity asserted itself again. "Can you feel Giles right now?"
"Yep," Buffy said, straining to see Willow in only the starlight.
"What's he doing?" she asked.
"Sleeping," Buffy said. "He went to bed a lot sooner than we did."
"Crazy Brit," Willow joked, rolling over. "Night, Buffy."
"Goodnight," she whispered back but she couldn't get herself to close her eyes. This was her favorite time of day – just before she went to sleep. The warm vibes she received from Giles were relaxed and comfortable. They washed over her like waves on the sand and even though he was across town, she felt safe. Eventually she drifted off.
There was, of course, one downside to this bond. When Giles woke up, it jolted Buffy out of her slumber as well. It was easy to fall back asleep but instead she looked over at the clock to see it was so early that Willow wouldn't be up for another couple hours. She and Buffy both had scheduled it so they had no classes on Friday and it was the best thing about college by far – the three day weekend. Since she was awake, she decided to get up and shower before the rest of the dorm did. Clean and dressed she went home to her mother's house. It was early enough that her mother was still sitting at the kitchen counter drinking coffee when she came in the back door.
"Hi honey," her mother said, obviously surprised.
"Hey mom," she said. "Do we have a sleeping bag?"
"In the basement," she said. "Want some breakfast?"
"Not hungry. How about a tent? Do we have a tent?" Buffy asked, opening the door to the basement and looking down suspiciously. The basement was never safe.
"Are you going somewhere?" Joyce asked, moving to fix her daughter some toast despite her protests.
"Camping," Buffy said, disappearing down the stairs rather bravely. There was that cat, after all, and that thing with Xander and all the girls…. It was easy to find the camping stuff, covered with dust. She took what she needed it and wrestled it quickly up the stairs.
"With who?" her mom asked, handing her the plate of toast which Buffy realized she did kind of want to eat. She dropped the gear and sat on the stool next her mom.
"The usual," she said evasively. She didn't want to lie to her mother but her mother also didn't quite grasp the whole 'Giles' concept. At any rate, if her mother found out later it had been just the two of them, she would say that Willow and Xander had dropped out at the last second. Hopefully that wouldn't happen. "But, if you need me, I'll probably get cell reception," she said brightly.
"And since when do you have a cell phone?" her mother asked sternly.
"Oh, Giles got it for me," she said, fishing it out of her pocket. It was silver and small enough to fit in even Buffy's tight pockets. "In case of, you know, slaying emergencies. He got one too."
"I don't think…"
"Mom, it's for work," she said. "Anyway, let me write down the number for you." She wrote it out on the pad of paper on the refrigerator. "We're just going to Breaker's woods. It's not even an hour away."
"Well, let me know when you get home then," Joyce said. "I have to get ready for work."
"I promise," Buffy said. "Bye mom. Thanks for the stuff."
By the time she got back to the dorms with her plunder, it was almost time for Giles to arrive and Willow was deep into her snooze-hitting cycle. She did open her eyes when Buffy came in.
"Blergh," she said and Buffy laughed lightly.
"Don't wake up on my account," she said and Willow pulled her covers up over her head. She left the door cracked for Giles and it wasn't long before he stuck his head in. She put her finger to her lips and pointed to the lump in the bed that was Willow. He nodded, picked up the majority of her stuff, and headed back downstairs. Buffy picked up her jacket and her pillow and with one last long look at Willow, closed the door and headed out for the weekend.
In the parking lot, she searched for Giles' old car but instead saw him standing in front of an SUV she'd never seen before.
"Nice wheels," she said, tossing her pillow into the back before he shut the hatch.
"I rented it," he said. "I'm afraid my car wouldn't make it out alive,"
"Good thinking," she said. He opened her door for her and she climbed in, looking around. It was a nice car, yes, but impersonal and had that smell of over-cleaning. Which she supposed was better than not clean enough, but still. Finally, he got in and they started to drive. When she reached for the radio, he didn't even have to look at her for her to feel the warning signal that was pulsing from him. "Sheesh, you didn't even give me a chance to find something we could agree on before you start complaining," she said.
"Buffy, I didn't say a thing," he defended, slowing and stopping for a red light. They were on the main drag and she could see the early morning crowd at the Espresso Pump.
"Well it sure felt like complaining," she muttered. "Look, see? Who doesn't love The Rolling Stones?" she said, leaning back. He couldn't argue with that.
"While I am happy with our progress, you can't blame me for my emotions. Those are hard to control," he said.
"Okay, Mr. Bay City Rollers," she said sarcastically.
"Now that was a joke and you know it," he said, laughing. She relaxed down into the seat and let her head lull back. "All right there?" he asked.
"Woke up early," she said, giving him a long look sideways.
"Buffy, an 8:00am wake up call isn't the crack of dawn," he said, indignantly.
"You woke up at 6:00," she shot back.
"Well you didn't go to bed until bloody midnight," he grumbled. There was a pause and then they both started to laugh.
"What a ridiculous thing to be fighting about," she said with a smile. "I'm sorry. Grumpy Buffy has left the building, I swear."
"A weekend away will do us both some good," he said. When she didn't respond he continued. "I brought enough food to feed a small country so we can stay as long as you'd like."
"Neat," she said. "I'm just gonna close my eyes for like a second."
"Go ahead," he said, softly. It didn't take long for her to fall asleep, and for him to feel awash in her relaxation. He could tell she felt completely safe and comfortable in the moment, alone in the car with her Watcher. After some time, he began to feel sharp stabs of emotions. Buffy was dreaming. On the outside, she looked peaceful and still but every so often there was a jolt of fear or a wave of confusion. It was irritating and distracting and finally he reached out and put his hand on the back of her neck to calm her. He concentrated on sending her strength and safe feelings and soon she quieted down. He kept his arm draped across the back of her chair just in case. After all, a restless Slayer was a careless Slayer.
Since it was so late in the season, the camp ground was practically deserted. There wasn't even a ranger on duty any longer. It was just them and the woods.
"Are you sure it's safe out here?" Buffy asked, looking around. "I mean, with no one for miles?"
"I've yet to see a situation that we didn't work our way out of," Giles assured her. "We won't go too deep, if it makes you feel better."
"No, go wherever," she said, getting back into the car so he could drive along the bumpy path until he found a site he found acceptable.
"I rather enjoy the creek, but it's a few miles in. Is that all right?" he asked. She nodded her consent and they were quiet while he carefully maneuvered the rented vehicle over the dirt roads. After about four, slow miles, he parked. She could hear the creek before she saw it, down the slope a ways. She got out of the car and inspected the site. Plenty of trees for shelter but there was also a nice grassy area and a fire pit already built in place.
"Acceptable," she teased and he nodded and shut the engine off. "Maybe I should have said this before but I have never in my life put a tent together."
"I have," he said. "Some years ago, but we're both intelligent people. We'll figure it out."
But the next hour proved to be the definition of speaking too soon. After numerous attempts to keep Giles' old tent standing, they abandoned it in a heap of metal and canvas and turned to Buffy's much newer model that went up more easily.
"Well, if that doesn't teach you to respect progress, I don't know what will," Buffy said with her arms crossed, staring at their finally finished product. Giles glared at her.
"We do still need to pitch mine as well," he growled.
"As if," she said. "This tent is more than large enough for two and it's a miracle if I don't set that other one on fire."
"Fine," he said and the fact that he agreed to this without a fight was a testament to his level of frustration. Not that she needed any outward showing to know how frustrated he was.
"I'll unload the car," she said, helpfully. He'd packed it well – a large cooler and some boxes of dry food. There was their sleeping bags, pillows, lanterns, the propane stove, and a couple chairs as well as a very well stocked first aid kit. They could never be too careful. He watched her lift things easily and though the gentleman inside him strained to help her, the mere mortal part of him didn't fancy a whole weekend of being sore. He'd also packed firewood and did help her drag it out from the back of the car. Once they got everything set up to their liking, she looked at him expectantly.
"What?" he asked.
"What do we do now?" she asked.
"We relax," he said, sitting in one of the chairs facing the creek.
"I thought there was like, spells and magic and bonding," she asked.
"Not until sunset," he said. "And Halloween is tomorrow. We'll do most of the deeper magicks then."
"Oh," she said. She sat down next to him reluctantly and fidgeted for a few moments before standing up again. "Giles," she whined.
"Fine, fine," he said. He went back to the car and opened the back door. Under a blanket on the back seat where two swords. She grinned at the sight of them.
"That's more like it," she said and he tossed her a sword. Nothing killed time like a good sword fight, in Buffy's opinion. It was something she and Giles were fairly evenly matched on. When it came down to killing, she would always be supreme but his technique was far better. She had to work extra hard to get the upper hand. It had taken her a while to start using swords again after Angel but with Giles persistence, she now associated the weapon as fun with her Watcher instead of agony with Angel.
"You're not paying attention," he snapped and she snapped back into focus guilty. She had let her mind wander and he could tell.
"I was thinking," she said.
"I just cut three buttons off your shirt," he said, motioning to her stomach with the tip of his sword. The shirt now hung open to reveal her belly button. All traces of the wound he'd tended was gone. Just clear, smooth skin remained.
"Damn," she said, more upset over the shirt than his victory.
"Maybe it's time for lunch anyway," he said, holding out his hand for her sword. She handed it over. He put them back in the car while she undid the rest of her buttons and pulled the shirt off, walking toward the tent. The autumn air felt good on her sweaty skin. Behind her, Giles made a strangled noise. She turned quickly, worried. She'd felt a jab of discomfort from him but visual inspection proved he was unharmed, but staring.
"Are you all right?" she asked.
"Just ever surprised at your lack of decorum," he muttered, turning away again. She didn't dignify his stuffiness with an answer. Inside the tent he'd rolled out their sleeping bags and put their things inside. She dug around her bag for another t-shirt – one not as susceptible to ruin. Though her mother had gotten pretty good over the years at mending clothes Buffy felt had been lost forever. Buttons were pretty easy on the scale of things that she'd brought home.
Giles handed her a sandwich and a Diet Coke and they sat together, eating quietly. He liked to watch the scenery and she liked the feeling of peace that the scenery gave him. She had questions for him, Watcher questions but she didn't want to pester him and so she held them in.
"Just ask," he said, finally, turning to look at her. She smiled.
"Okay," she said. "Who was the Slayer before me?" She could tell she'd surprised him with her question.
"Her name was India Cohen," he said. "Mostly she and her Watcher, Bothwell, fought in Japan."
"Did you ever meet her?" she asked.
"Not personally, no," he said. "She died in California, but as you know you were a Slayer for a full year before I was officially assigned to you."
"How did she die?" Buffy asked.
"She…" he paused. "Please take this the right way, Buffy."
"Okay," she said, apprehensively.
"She sacrificed herself for her Watcher," he said.
"I never want you to do that," he said. "It goes against everything I've ever taught you to do or be." Buffy watched him closely, trying to read what he was not telling her.
"She was in love with him," Buffy said, finally. Giles' lack of response was her affirmative. "Did they have the same kind of bond we have?"
"Bothwell's diary entries are unclear and understandably so. He speaks of their bond but very little of their relationship since the Council frowns on it rather heavily," Giles said.
"What doesn't the Council frown on?" Buffy asked, irritated. She and the Council had been on the out and out ever since they fired Giles. Giles assured her time and time again that his firing was bureaucratic at best – that the Council knew that until Giles died no one else could truly be her Watcher, but it still made Buffy upset to think about.
"But," Giles continued, hoping to head off another angry diatribe from his slayer. "They were bonded, yes. It was much, much more powerful than ours is."
"Something to aspire to," Buffy murmured. He smiled.
"If you're interested in your predecessors, just tell me. I'll teach you anything you'd like to know," he promised.
"Right now I only want to know about you and me," she assured him. She held out her hand to him and he took it in his own. She laced their fingers together like he'd done at their first boding ritual. They both closed their eyes to the afternoon sun, content with being alone in nature – content with the steady flow of energy that passed between them.
Sunset found Buffy once again listening to her Watcher chant in a language she couldn't understand. She didn't mind – listening to Giles speak was always enjoyable and listening to him speak in another language meant she got to enjoy the timbre of his voice without actually paying attention. The best of both worlds she thought.
He didn't tell her what was supposed to happen. He'd learned early on that Buffy didn't like being bogged down with details and she worked best in the moment, on instinct. She'd told him again and again that she trusted him fully with this aspect of her training.
"It's important," she'd told him. "I get it. Even if it means getting all hot and bothered with my Watcher again."
He hadn't responded to that. Now they sat on the blanket with their legs crossed, facing one another. He chanted and she watched, waiting. They didn't touch but when he stopped speaking, he reached for her. He put his hand on her neck and pulled until she leaned forward. At first, she thought he was going to kiss her but instead he touched his forehead to her own.
"Breathe," he whispered and she hadn't realized that she was holding her breath but it felt good to exhale and then breathe deeply with him so near. He smelled like aftershave and parchment and his laundry detergent and like Giles, her Giles. She didn't know what this was all supposed to accomplish but soon she could hear him telling her to be patient.
Except for that he hadn't said anything. She sat up, startling him, and the eerie connection was severed.
"What the crap?" she asked. He frowned at her language.
"Why did you move?" he asked. The amount of energy it took to perform such a thing was worse for him than for her. He already felt a little drained. Soon it would be dark, the stars would appear, and the most optimal time for performing magic would be gone.
"Um, because you were talking in my head. Which I remember happening once before and the word crazy was thrown around a lot that week," she said.
"Oh," he said. He'd not made that same connection. "I'm sorry, I should have warned you."
"Well," she said.
"Telepathy and mind reading doesn't have to be the same," he said, sincerely. "Before, you could move through my mind, anyone's mind, without restriction. In this case, it's much more controlled. It's like speaking on the telephone."
"That's a stretch," she muttered.
"Would you like to stop?" he asked. She considered this.
"No," she said. "No, let's give it another go." He looked pleased and so she leaned in again. His skin was warm against hers and instead of holding hands, he put his hands on her cheeks and after a moments hesitation, she did the same. She could feel the stubble and the subtle lines on his face. She could feel his pulse, the warmth of the blood inside him. She could feel where his hairline began and the course texture of his hair. She could feel his right palm, rough from fencing for so long earlier, and the way her hair fell through his fingers.
Giles, she thought affectionately. How she adored her Watcher when they were like this – when they were the only two people in the world. How desolate her life would be without him.
She could feel him in her mind. Probing delicately, asking for entrance politely. She could feel him there just as clearly as she could feel his soft exhales against her lips. She let him make the first move.
Slayer, she heard. The word was in her mind as clearly as a bell ringing.
Watcher, she responded in kind. She felt his pulse quicken beneath her. He was pleased with their success. She tightened her grip just a bit. She wanted him closer, she wanted more of him. And as if he had heard her request, he pulled her closer. She had to untangle her legs and scoot a bit, but then he was there, pressed more fully against her. Their legs touched and his hands slid down to her waist so he could steady his grip on her. She wrapped her arms around him and let her head rest against his shoulder. She breathed deeply and heard him.
Feels so right, he said and she agreed. It was as if she found what she'd been searching for her whole life. This was true contentment; to be with someone who knew you fully. If only she could be closer. She could smell the blood in his neck. She was practically pressed into the place where his neck curved into her shoulder and so she did what felt like the next natural step. She nuzzled into his neck and felt him sigh. It was a delicious sound, the harsh expelling of air, and so she let her tongue run hotly along his jugular—
"Buffy," he said, pushing her into a sitting position.
"Hmm?" she said, drowsily. She opened her eyes to see his concerned expression. He was as flushed as she must be. His cheeks were rosy and his hair disheveled. Outside around them it was almost completely dark. How long had they been that way?
"I…I think that's enough for now," he said, stuttering slightly. "Let's make a fire."
He stood up but she remained sitting on the blanket, boneless. She felt weightless and liquid and Giles had tasted like an exotic spice. No wonder India Cohen had fallen in love with her Watcher. The aftershocks of the bond were like alcohol in her bloodstream. She felt totally wrecked. She watched him move around, placing the wood and lighting it on fire. When it was going, she watched him light the lantern and set it on the picnic table. Finally, he brought her a bottle of water, cold from the ice chest.
"Drink this, it will help," he said. His manner was brusque but his voice was understanding.
"How are you even moving?" she asked, limply taking the bottle from him.
"I spent a great deal of my youth intoxicated," he said, smiling. "It doesn't mean I don't feel it too."
Giles made something for dinner and she ate it but she couldn't tell him what it was or what it tasted like. Instead she just watched him move around with a heavy-lidded gaze. Part of him wished they had managed that second tent but part of him knew it would be more agonizing having her be so close yet so far. When she didn't perk up after an hour, he knew they'd have a lot of work ahead of them if they wanted to bonding process to work to their advantage. She would need to be able to connect with him without going weak in the knees. He would need to remind her constantly that while he may feel like her missing piece at the moment, slaying would always have to come first. India Cohen had been a good Slayer but it was a lesson she hadn't been able to learn. He looked down at Buffy who still hadn't lost her flush of magic and what he suspected was arousal. It was going to be a long night.
"Bed," he said, helping her up. "Let's see if we can't get rid of your cobwebs with some rest."
"I'm fine," she said, slowly.
"Good," he said, and couldn't help but chuckle. "Go get ready. I'll give you some time to change."
He followed the path out of their site so he could use the rustic but functioning toilets and brush his teeth in the sink. He wasn't gone long and when he came back, Buffy had changed into some flannel pants and a hooded sweatshirt.
"There are bathrooms that way," he said, pointing. She looked at him blankly. "Would you like me to go with you?"
"Okay," she said, dreamily. He rolled his eyes. She grabbed her toothbrush and walked unsteadily toward him. He took her bicep and walked back the way he'd come.
"You are never, ever to drink," he muttered but she didn't seem to hear him. He felt it too, like a big part of him was under water, like dunking his head in a warm bath but it had hit her so much harder. He was almost worried but she just seemed dazed, not injured. He was beginning to rethink the ritual he had planned for tomorrow. He didn't see how making the Slayer as harmless as a bunny was going to help anything. He waited for her to use the bathroom and when she reappeared she looked a little more like herself.
"Buffy?" he asked.
"Dunked my face in cold water," she said. "It helped."
"Good," he said. "I was beginning to worry."
"I was in serious Giles induced La-La land," she said. "You should come with a warning label."
"Good to know," he said.
"I'm so tired," she said, stumbling a bit. He was too.
"We did that for too long," he said. "Magic takes energy and we pushed it."
"It didn't feel long," she said. "It felt like I could have stayed there forever." It was gratifying for him to hear but he tried not to let it go to his head.
"At least an hour," he said, glancing at his watch. "Now it's really dark. You can see better here than I can."
"I won't let you fall," she said. "Look, there's our lantern light."
At the site, he insisted she go to bed first. He wanted to give her a chance to fall asleep before he got in there. After a while, he put out the fire and turned off the lantern. It was cold. He'd left his pajamas in the car so he could change without waking her but the moment after taking off his jeans and before putting on his sweatpants was chilling.
Inside the tent, Buffy was sleeping on top of her bag. She was a heat machine, that girl. It was how she wore sun dresses in January. He unzipped his sleeping bag and she rolled over to him, restless and only dozing. He didn't want to wake her but her eyes opened anyhow.
"Sleep," he told her. "Get in your bag so you don't catch cold." She did as she was told and wriggled around until she was comfortable and their bags were flush on the loud material of the tent floor. She was close enough so that if she wanted to, she could put her head on his pillow. He could feel her knee against his hip but he didn't pester her about personal space. He felt her drift off into a deeper cycle of sleep. He closed his eyes and concentrated on the sounds of the forest, on the sound of her breath hitching every so often.
He could still feel her tongue on his neck. He'd let it go too far.
She woke up before him and he looked so still and felt so at peace that she let him sleep. She got out of the tent and set about making some breakfast. Breakfast was the one food group that she could make consistently. Besides, it was hard to think with him lying right next to her. She'd slept the whole night through but it had been strange sleep – it had felt foreign. Buffy dreamed almost every night – usual dreams and, occasionally, prophetic dreams. Last night had been, she thought, like both. There were her own dreams of failed tests and vampires sinking their sharp teeth into her neck but then there were other images of places she didn't recognize and people she didn't know.
The idea of her dreams not being her own was sort of unsettling. If those really were Giles' dreams, did he see hers as well?
The smell of bacon pulled him from the tent. He looked appropriate rumpled – his hair stuck straight up in the back but she didn't laugh because her hair probably wasn't at its best either.
"Buffy… are you cooking?" he asked, looking weary.
"Be nice to me or you don't get any," she asked, feeling sort of grumpy for reasons she couldn't describe. He felt the wave of irritation loud and clear and backed off.
"Thank you, I meant," he said, and sat down.
"I'm sorry, I just feel… antsy," she said.
"We'll eat and then go for a run," he said. "Yes?"
"Yes," she said. They ate and he cleaned because she had cooked. "Hey, did you bring my running shorts?" she asked.
"The ones you left in my hamper? Yes, actually, they're in my bag," he said and she disappeared into the tent only to reemerge in her shorts and, unfortunately, his t-shirt once more.
"You washed my shirt for me," she teased when she saw his expression.
"Apparently," he said and crawled in the tent to find his running shoes. It was a little cold without a sweater of some sort but he knew he'd warm up once they started running. Running on the uneven ground was much more of a challenge than running on sidewalk and he stuck close to the creek bed where the ground was the most level. Buffy followed dutifully behind him though he could tell she was itching to kick it up a notch by the way she kept shooting out in front of him before falling back. He was already tiring out.
"I can't keep up with you today," he gasped, slowing down to hold his side. His calf muscles hollered at him – what he got for sleeping on the ground. Part of him didn't want to admit that he couldn't hold his own but she was the Slayer and she already knew.
"Hold my hand," she said, jogging in place next to him. He was reluctant, but did as she asked and they started up again. He knew what she was doing – she was sharing her strength. The pain in his side began to fade as they picked up speed, and suddenly he was feeling euphoric. Suddenly the uneven ground didn't even catch his notice and he dodged rocks and branches easily.
"When you let go of my hand, though, it's going to hurt like hell," he said, and she glanced over at him, and slowed the pace a bit.
"You think?" she asked, slowing them to a gradual stop.
"Yes," he said. Now that they were still, she let go and suddenly the powerful feeling was gone. He groaned and sat down hard on the packed earth. "Ow."
"Oh, Giles," she said, sitting next to him. "My bad!"
"No," he gasped. "It's me, I'm old."
"You aren't old, I'm a superhero," she argued.
"This is a stupid fight," he said, laying back. He closed his eyes and focused on the feeling of oxygen once more filling his blood stream. "Go on, finish your run. I'll walk back."
"Pfft," she said. "Like I'm leaving you here."
He sent her a grateful look and she hopped up, ever the well of energy and held her hand out to him. "No mojo this time, I swear," she said. He let her help him up and then they started walking slowly back toward the camp ground. The cool air felt good against his sweaty skin and beside him, she pulled off the oversized t-shirt and dabbed his face with it. Her sports bra was black and dark against her flushed skin. He wanted to complain but it was nice to have the sweat off his forehead and out of his eyes.
"I'm fine," he said.
"Now you're in Buffy La-La land," she said, sounding pleased.
"Is that how you always feel?" he asked, curious. The feeling had been heady.
"I didn't even give you that much," she said. It didn't matter how much he read about or studied the Slayer. He realized that he could never truly know what it felt like to be one – that strengthening this bond would be as close as he ever got.
"It was amazing," he said anyway. "No wonder you break so much furniture."
She laughed out loud.
Buffy wandered off alone for a while, promising Giles that she wouldn't go so far that he couldn't hear her if she shouted. He wasn't too worried, though. He felt confident that if she were to encounter trouble, he'd know. While she was gone, he set up for their ritual. He drew out a large star in red sand over the dirt and grass. He set up candles and built a small altar in the middle.
This was a much more advanced spell than the one they'd achieved the night before. This had much more historical and mystical ties. Instead of just tapping into their own power, tonight, on Halloween, they'd be asking for more. He was just about finished when Buffy returned. She watched him readjust some crystals for a while before she spoke.
"Could you see my dreams last night?" she asked.
"Yes," he said. He was beginning to understand that having this bond with her sort of eliminated their ability to lie to one another. He hadn't yet decided if this was good or bad.
"I could see yours too," she said. "What about my prophetic dreams?"
"I don't know," he said.
"I can't remember them very well anymore," she said. "I could this morning but…"
"Me too," he said, stepping carefully out of the star to stand next to her.
"I think you dreamed of the library," she said.
"Probably," he said. "I used to spend a great deal of time there."
"Do you miss it?" she asked, with a hint of nostalgia in her voice.
"Not really," he said. "It was just a place. You were safe, the books were safe, and the weapons. And now I don't have to stand on top of the hellmouth every day."
"That's… wow. Practical. I never thought of that before. Then why do you dream about it?"
"I don't know. Why do you dream about getting turned into a vampire?"
"Fair enough," she said. "Okay. Let's do this thing."
"Yes," he mumbled, walking back to where his book was open on the chair.
"What is this thing?" she asked, trying to peer at the page over his shoulder.
"A request for more power," he said.
"And who are we asking?" she asked.
"Nature, I think," he said.
"You think?" she asked, exasperatedly. "What if we're accidentally asking the devil?"
"We're tapping into deep and very old magic. The altar serves as gifts, the star a symbol of our purity, the candles a sign of good intentions," he said, ignoring her last comment. "If we're successful, we should gain a whole slew of new powers. According to the Watcher diaries, anyway."
"What kind of powers?" she asked. "Could I fly?"
"No," he said. "And, as I've promised you numerous times before, If I ever find a way to make you fly, you'll be the first to know."
"Fine," she said, pouting mostly for his benefit. He didn't fall for it.
"It doesn't really say what will happen," he says. "It says we'll become more…compatible, whatever that means. That we'll sync up and that conventional forms of communication will become unnecessary."
"We already have all that," Buffy said.
"Yes, but better," he said.
"Will you become stronger? Will I become smarter?" she asked.
"You are smart already," he reminded. "I suggest we just perform it and see what happens."
"Oh yeah, because that never gets me in trouble," she muttered under her breath.
"Just sit down in front of the altar and don't move," he snapped. She did as he asked, crossing her legs against the cooling air. "You have to want it, Buffy," he said.
"I want it," she promised him. "Could anything… could anything go wrong?"
"Just be sincere," he said and sat down next to her. All she could do was let him lead her through this so she did. She made sure to tell whoever was listening above that she was sincere, that she wanted this, that Giles was too important to deserve anything but the very best. He closed his eyes, started to chant. She watched the sweat form on his forehead and dampen the hair at his temples. She could feel the air get thick around them. It smelled like sulfur and around them, the candles lit themselves. She started to feel like maybe this wasn't safe.
When Giles' head flew back and his eyes were dark with power, she tried to get up, ready to fight but something was holding her down. His voice was ragged in the night air and finally she stopped struggling enough to take a look at him. He looked like he was struggling under the weight of something much bigger than them combined. The tendons in his neck were taunt and she could see the veins pulsing just beneath his skin.
He was doing this for her.
And as soon as she had that thought, he slumped. The burnt smell left the air with a gush of breeze and the candles flickered out. It was cold and dark and still again and all she could hear was the sound of her own heavy, startled breathing. It took her a few seconds but then she reached for him, knocking his altar out of the way and put her hands on his shoulders.
"Giles!" she said but he was out cold. It didn't matter how many times she had seen her Watcher unconscious, it was always scary. Her heart sped up in her chest and she put her hand against his neck, his forehead, his mouth. Knowing he was alive, she got the first aid kit and found what she knew Giles of all people had stocked it with – smelling salts. She waved it under his nose somewhat frantically and his eyes opened and he pushed her hand away.
"You still with me?" she asked.
"Sleep," he muttered and closed his eyes again. Frustrated, but encouraged by the speech, she put the kit away and carried him as best she could into the tent where he could at least rest his head on a pillow. She pocketed some aspirin and a bottle of water. She made sure that the fire was doused and turned and then she crawled into the tent with him. She was too wired, too worried to sleep though so she sat up, keeping guard or maybe vigil and listened to the steady sound of his breathing. She couldn't tell if the spell had been successful and it wasn't until almost dawn that she finally drifted off.
Giles woke up Buffy well after the sun had risen. He didn't say anything or touch her, but he woke her just the same. He was sitting up, looking down at her, the blue tent casting an eerie glow over all his features.
"You okay?" she asked. He was fine. She heard him say it as clear as day but he had remained motionless, silent. "Holy crap! It worked!" she said. They weren't even touching.
Say it with your mind, he admonished. She frowned and concentrated on her Watcher – his matted hair and his rumpled jeans and the fact that he still had his boots on.
Can you hear me? she thought and he laughed.
Yes! and his excitement was contagious.
"What else works?" she asked.
"I think we can send images too," he said. "Here, I'll think of a demon and you describe him."
"Okay," she said. And easily, the image was in her head. "Oh, tall thing with flippy bits and this shiny stuff on its stomach and…"
"Well, your vocabulary notwithstanding, I think you got it," he said.
"Okay, I'll think of something, now," she said. "What do you see?"
"The library, your mother, my flat, Willow's red hair, a pair of shoes, the graveyard…"
"Which one?" she asked, smugly.
"Memorial," he said.
"Maybe I am smarter," she said, smiling. "Quiz me!"
"Okay, what's seven times eight?" he asked.
"Giles! Something I wouldn't have known before!" she said, only slightly offended. "Like, give me a book in some crazy language to see if I can read it."
"It doesn't work like that," he said, shaking his head. "But if I know something, I can feed you the information almost instantaneously."
"Okay, you stay here and I'm going to start moving further away," she said. "Tell me when it stops working or starts to fade."
But it didn't stop working – it didn't even fade. And while at first she worried it might be intrusive, they seemed to have pretty good control over what thoughts were meant to be shared and what were to be kept private. Once, when they were packing up the car, she thought she caught him thinking of her licking his neck, but it could have just as easily been herself so she didn't say anything.
"There has to be more," Giles said, as they were driving back.
"Like what?" she asked. Now it seemed strange and unnecessary to speak but she was following his lead.
"I'm not sure. I have more books at home… maybe it will take some time to manifest," he said, but he was thinking out loud now and so she let her mind wander.
Maybe I'll give you the spare room, Giles thought.
What? she shot back. She'd been imagining how nice it would be clean and in clothes not meant for outdoors and she'd missed the wispy thought that had been more about her than for her.
You know, the room across from the bathroom. It's filled with books and weapons.
I know the room, Giles.
I've been thinking about putting a bed in for you. You could keep spare clothes and your training gear. You're always running around from school to your mother's to my flat. You're always stealing my clothes.
That would be… "nice," she finished, out loud.
"I'll start cleaning it out then," he said. "Find a mattress."
"We could just move my bed from mom's house," she offered.
Joyce would bloody love that! he thought.
"Why should she mind?" Buffy asked. "I almost never sleep there and we have a guest room."
Because she already thinks I'm a pervert, he shot back.
"She does not!" Buffy exclaimed. "And when we do it this way, it sounds like I'm talking to myself."
Then practice your new skill, he admonished.
Yes, Watcher, Sir.
"Hey!" she said, crossing her arms. "Am not."
"I don't think that's an insult," she said, laughing.
"Depends on whom you ask," he shot back.
"Xander's uncle has a truck we can borrow to move the bed," she said, thinking of how nice it would be to have a place to crash where nobody nagged her about hanging out at the Bronze or being on time for dinner.
"Let's just… ask your mother first," he said. And he really tried not to think about Joyce or that police car but it was hard keeping the memory out of the front of his mind – it was so embarrassing.
"PLEASE STOP," she said, clutching her head. "STOP. ANYHING ELSE."
"Sorry," he pleaded but the more she squirmed the harder it was to make it go away.
"GILES!" she yelled.
"I can't help it!" he said. She closed her eyes and tried to think of something to distract him. She thought of the time he carried her into of the science lab in her Sunnydale cheerleading outfit, the time he crouched before her and tended to her wounds on her 18th birthday, the time she ran her tongue hotly up his neck and how she had wanted kiss him, to put her hands underneath his sweater, to hook her fingers into his belt loops…
"That's quite enough," he said, his voice low. Suddenly she realized that they were stopped and he'd pulled over crookedly to the side of the road. His face was red and he wouldn't look at her. "Enough."
"Perhaps we need a day or two apart to clear our minds," he said, his voice still low and gravelly. "To learn how to better control the sort of thing we feed one another."
"Okay," she said, timidly. Giles rarely got angry with her.
"I'm not angry," he said, immediately.
"You're a little angry," she said.
"I'm…" he trailed off but she heard the word he didn't say. Flustered.
"Okay, only benign, quiet thoughts," she agreed. She concentrated on something harmless. A fire in a fireplace. The ocean breaking on the shore. Studying in her room with Willow right at the next desk. Xander doing his snoopy dance.
Beside her, Giles chuckled despite himself.
Giles helped her carry her things into her room and then practically fled.
"How did it go?" Willow asked, looking like she already knew the answer by Giles' hasty departure. Buffy thought it was strange how fast he'd gone when distance didn't matter.
Can't get away, she sent him.
A gift, not a toy, was his terse response.
I can feel your panic. Stop panicking. You're making me nervous.
I'm not panicking, I'm tired.
We're both tired! Just calm down.
Get out of my head! he snapped.
Me? You're in mine. I can feel you sitting, waiting. Lurking.
When I get home I'll look for a way to find better control but for right now let's both just agree to—
"Buffy, are you okay?" Willow asked.
"Huh?" she said, her eyes focusing back on Willow. "What'd you say?"
"I asked how your trip went and you went all… glazed," Willow said.
"It was… fine," Buffy said vaguely.
"Oh," Willow said. "Did you make with the magicks?"
"Yeah," she said. "I, uh…"
"Maybe we should call Giles back," Willow said, reaching for the phone. "Maybe you're sick."
Tell her you're fine, Buffy.
"Well, that's just eavesdropping," she said, putting her hands on her hips.
"I don't…" Willow said, looking confused.
"I'm fine, Wil, I just need a shower," Buffy said. "I'll tell you more about it later."
"Okay. Well, Xander was going to come over tonight but if you aren't feeling well…"
"No, it'll be fun. I'm fine, seriously," she said. She grabbed her shower bag and disappeared down the hall.
It was an odd time of day and so she had the shower room to herself. She tried hard to concentrate on the here and now, to not think about Giles or anything, to just clear her mind. It worked for a while until his voice broke her concentration rather badly.
I think I found something, he said.
Not a good time! she shot back.
But don't you want to hear…
If you can't be alone in the shower, what is sacred, what?
Oh, I'll just… uh… And his voice drifted away.
In her room again, she sat in her robe on the bed and contemplated telling Willow.
Giles, I'm going to tell Willow.
I thought we agreed to learn more about the process before we…
She already thinks I'm losing it. Please? She didn't know why she was asking for his permission but she realized she did need this. That this was a Slayer thing she wasn't completely on her own with, that it was happening to him too.
Very well, he said.
"Willow, I can hear Giles' voice in my head," Buffy blurted. Willow looked up from her Political Science book and tilted her head.
"Like, you know in your heart that if you're sick you should let him know?" she asked.
"Like, we can talk to each other telepathically," Buffy corrected. Willow didn't respond and kept her face surprisingly neutral. "Any thoughts on that?"
"Can you hear what I'm thinking?" Willow asked.
"No, it's not like that," Buffy said. "It's more like, he did this crazy spell and his eyes changed colors and then poof, internal walkie-talkies."
"I see," Willow said evenly.
I don't think she believes me, she thought.
Well, can't say I blame her from her point of view, he thought back.
"You're talking right now, aren't you," Willow said.
"And before, when you totally spaced," she said. "Oh good, I thought you were crazy. This makes more… well, a different kind of sense."
"It's new and… distracting. We don't have very good control yet. Giles is researching ways to… I don't know, block out unwanted vibes or something," Buffy said.
I've found a way but you didn't want to hear it, he said, sounding a little haughty for her taste. Brain Giles was much less restrained than every day Giles.
I was in the shower, she reminded him.
I know we agreed on space but seeing how that is seemingly impossible, perhaps you should come over, he said.
I'm supposed to hang with Willow and Xander, she reminded him.
Bring them along, he said. Never hurts to have their help.
"Wait, let me guess," Willow said, who'd been watching Buffy's face carefully. "We're moving the party to Giles' apartment?"
Buffy smiled hopefully.
"Looks like you can read minds too!"
It had been a while since all four of them had been together in full research mode. Giles had his nose buried in a book and Willow was on the computer. Xander was cracking jokes and Buffy was… well, doing nothing. She was standing in the kitchen with her hand in a bag of cookies. Giles' attention was completely focused on his book and therefore she wasn't hearing anything from him. She was aware of him, of course, but her head was sort of quiet. She didn't want to interrupt him so she stayed out of his eye line.
He'd found a few things that were supposed to dampen the effect and now her friends were all following up on that information. When she walked in, Giles had given her a bundle of herbs to wear around her neck.
"It should help," he muttered. He had one too, but strangely, neither had put them on.
It was late, and getting later. Buffy had school in the morning and so did Willow. She heard Xander yawn.
Maybe we should call it a night.
She walked out into the living room where they were all sprawled out.
"You're not even listening to me," she said. Everyone looked up at her, startled, and Giles gave an apologetic smile.
"Maybe we should call it a night," he said. She rolled her eyes. Everyone started gathering their things and Giles walked them to the door.
"I'll see you back at the dorms," Willow said and she watched her friends disappear down the dark sidewalk. Giles looked at her expectantly.
"I still have to patrol," she said. "I haven't been out in a couple days, after all."
"Quite right," he said. "Well, check in when you're finished."
She hit the graveyards first, and then the parks. She'd put the satchel of herbs around her neck and it did dampen the effect a bit. She didn't necessarily like the feeling of this barrier between them but to patrol she had to focus.
It was a busy night. Six vampires and two demons. Any other night she might have worried, but she had been gone for two days. That last demon had hit her in the head pretty hard and now her ears were ringing. Her patrol had spiraled her back near Giles' apartment so she knocked before letting herself in. The downstairs was dark and there was lamp light coming from the loft.
"Giles?" she called, pulling the satchel from over her head and dropping it on the dining room table. As soon as it was off she realized he was sleeping. She climbed up the stairs slowly and peered into his bedroom. He was on the bed, surrounded by books, asleep in his shoes, his clothes, and his crooked glasses. "Aww," she said, filled with affection. She pulled the books of his bed quietly and moved to take his glasses off his face. She sat on the edge of the bed and shook his shoulder slightly. She felt him rise back into consciousness.
"Buffy," he muttered.
"You actually get to sleep in a bed tonight! You should enjoy it," she said.
"You have a headache," he said wincing.
"I got hit in the head," she said. "I'm fine."
"I can feel it," he said.
"I'll take some aspirin," she promised him. "I just wanted to check in."
"You should stay," he said. She looked at him, surprised.
"Here?" she asked. "Why?"
"I don't know," he said, shaking his head. "I just feel like I don't want you to go."
Giles was always the most honest when he was tired or when he had a concussion. He always tended to blurt things and then gloss over them as if they didn't mean anything but this time he'd blurted his true feelings and wasn't trying to take the words back.
"Okay," she said. "I'm going to go wash the undead dust off me, if that's all right."
"Okay," he said. She could tell how tired he was. She squeezed his fingers and then went back downstairs. She let herself on to his back patio to call Willow. She knew she'd wake her up but she also didn't want her to worry. Not coming home from patrol usually meant something bad.
"Hey, it's Buffy," she said. "I just wanted to let you know I was going to stay with Giles tonight."
"How come?" Willow asked.
"I don't know. He asked me to. I am beginning to think that it has something to do with my energy level. Like when I go kick demon ass, it makes him sleepy or something," she said.
"Maybe your energy levels are connected somehow," Willow said with a yawn. "We'll figure it out."
"Bye," She clicked off the phone and set it down on the coffee table between several books and a couple of scrolls. She went down the hall to the bathroom and saw that the spare room door was open. She stuck her head in. It wasn't a big room, but it was nice – hardwood floors and fresh paint. There was a closet and, somewhere under that pile of books, a bureau. Too bad the room wasn't ready tonight. Looks like her hopes of sleeping in a comfy bed were history for yet another night. She'd be couch surfing.
She took the shower hot, almost too hot and when she rubbed the mirror clear with her hand. Her skin was bright red and she felt a little over heated. Making sure the big towel was securely around her, she opened the door and let the cool air rush in. She could see on the couch; a pillow on one end. Giles had made up the couch for her. She padded over on damp and bare feet and peered over the edge of the couch.
Actually, Giles had made up the couch for himself. He was there, heavily asleep, curled up with one leg hanging out from underneath the blanket. He was snoring.
"Giles," she whined softly. Now she had to either decide to wake her clearly sleeping Watcher or just take his bed and give him the rest. Finally, she just went upstairs. On his bed, he had laid out a clean t-shirt and a pair of boxer shorts for her to wear. It was sweet of him and she put them on and got into the bed. Her clothes smelled like Giles and the sheets and the pillow. It was like sleeping next to him, but stronger, more enveloping. She fell asleep fast.
She was only asleep a few hours when she realized she wasn't alone. She sat up in bed, reaching blindly for a weapon. Instead she only managed to knock a cup of water off the nightstand and turn on the lamp. Giles was standing at the foot of the bed, watching her.
"What?" she asked. "What's wrong?"
"I think I'm ill," he said, softly. She got up and walked over to him. He was trembling slightly, and covered with sweat. She reached out and touched her hand to his forehead. Immediately she shared his feelings of fever, the dizzying sway, the chills and aches, the underlying yet ever present nausea. She snatched her hand away. He began to sway and she guided him toward the bed.
"Shit, well, what do I do?" she asked, as he scooted up toward the pillow.
"Bring… down… fever," he mumbled, his face pressed into the place where her head had been only moments before.
"Right," she said. She rushed into the bathroom off the bedroom and looked inside the medicine cabinet. There was vitamins, a bottle of ibuprofen, and strangely, a small bottle of scotch. She'd have to think about that one later. She brought him the ibuprofen and filled the overturned cup with fresh water. He swallowed the pills and collapsed back down. "That's going to take too long," she said and he didn't respond. Panicking, she picked up the phone and dialed her mother.
She answered after three very long rings.
"Mom, it's me," she said.
"Do you have any idea what time…"
"Mom, Giles is sick and I'm not sure what to do," she said. "He's got a really, really high fever."
"Did you get him to take anything?" her mother asked.
"Yeah, but it's going to take too long, I think," Buffy said.
"Well you need to cool him down. Feed him ice, put him in cool water. Make sure he drinks a lot of fluids," she said. "If you can't wake him up, I suggest taking him in to the emergency room."
"Okay, got it. Thanks," she said.
"Buffy, it's nearly three in the morning. What on earth are you doing at Mr. Giles' house?"
"I… I have to go, I'll call you in the morning," she said and hung up the phone before she could hear any more protests. She looked down at the bed where he was asleep.
"Giles," she said shaking him. He stirred and opened one eye blearily. Well, at least he wasn't passed out. "Come on, we need to cool you down." Ideally, she'd put him in the tub but she wasn't sure she could get him down the stairs without hurting him, so the shower up here would have to do. "Up and at 'em," she said, pulling him up. As soon as he was leaning most of his weight on her, the wave of his symptoms overwhelmed her and she let him sit back on the bed.
The herbs, he thought and she rushed downstairs to get the little bags. She put hers on and slipped the other one around his neck.
"One more try, Watcher," she said, tugging him up. She helped him into the bathroom and sat him on the lid of the toilet. She turned on the cold water and eyed the small shower. "Clothes on? Clothes off?" she asked. He didn't respond and so she pulled his t-shirt up over his head and left his pants right where they were. "Giles? Can you hear me?"
"Hmm," he moaned. It was going to be a tight squeeze, the two of them in the shower meant for one, but he wasn't in any place to do anything alone. She slipped her arms under his and hauled him up. She worried about the herbs getting wet, but then they could always make more and if he was dead they wouldn't need them.
"Here we go," she said and drug him into the shower. The cold spray hit him first and he whimpered a bit. In order to hold him up, she had to let his weight pin him against the wall. She made sure the spray hit him squarely in the chest. Soon, though, they were both pretty wet.
"Cold," he groaned.
"Yep, nice and freezing," she said. "Kick that fever's butt."
She held him there long enough for her arms to start getting a little numb but she figured she'd know when it'd been long enough, when she could shut off the water and peel off her freezing clothing. That there would be a sign.
"It's too cold," Giles said, suddenly. "Turn it off." After half an hour, she was more than happy to oblige him. She reached around and shut off the spray and they both slumped down until they were sitting. Sure, he was squashing her pretty badly but it was not the worst pain she'd ever felt.
"Can you stand?" she asked.
"Maybe," he said and made no attempt to movie. "I think that this has to do with magic." His speech was slow as if he had to reach very far into his mind to retrieve it.
"With the spell from Halloween?" she asked. "Like an allergy?"
"No," he said. Now they were both shivering and she tried to get them both up without slipping and cracking her skull open. It wasn't graceful the way they lurched out of the shower, but it was effective.
"Take off your pants," she said, turning around and holding a towel out blindly. He followed her order out of instinct mostly and wrapped the towel around his waist. She heard his wet pants splat to the tile floor and she herself was standing in a puddle from his heavy, soaked shirt and boxers. He stood waiting for her next order. "Go lay down, Giles," she said and he walked carefully past her and sat on the bed. She pulled the shirt over her head and slipped down the boxers. She stood in her wet bra and panties and wrung out the clothes to drape over the door of the shower. She glanced in the mirror to make sure nothing was see through – she'd given him the only towel. She looked like a drown rat; her hair was stringy and her skin covered with goose bumps but what could she do. She was also exhausted. It was turning out to be a trying night.
Giles watched her carefully with his glassy eyes while she went downstairs to retrieve a towel to wrap around her. She sat next to him on the bed, suddenly super aware of their wet state of undress, of the feeling of her damp bra strap cutting into her shoulder.
"Now, tell me more about your theory," she said, reaching up to touch his forehead. It was warm, but no longer hot.
"I don't think I can while I'm not wearing pants," he said, dryly. She rolled her eyes, secretly pleased that he was cracking jokes.
"Officially, I am unaware of the location of your underwear drawer," she said. "I'm going to go get you some orange juice so you can take care of that hang up. Are you hungry?"
"No," he said, and he watched her go downstairs. She poured him some orange juice and, while she was out of his eyesight, took off her wet under things. This stripping down thing was almost become normal for them – why did her job have to be so fashion hazardous? As if reading her mind, which was probably exactly what happened, Giles tossed another pair of boxers and a button down shirt over the landing.
"Formal wear tonight?" she called up.
"Do you remember me doing any laundry in the last four days?" she heard him say.
Crabby, she shot back and he chose not to respond. Dressed, she brought him his orange juice which he drank because she asked him to, not because he was thirsty.
"I think that distance is what made me sick," he said, finally. He lay back on the pillow and she looked down at him, his bare chest, and the flannel pants he'd put on. His dress shirt was even bigger on her than his t-shirts and the sleeves at her hands.
"Distance?" she asked.
"From you," he said. "The longer we were apart, the more we tried to resist the effects of the spell, the worse I felt. It's why I asked you to stay."
"But I was here when you were at your worst," she said. He shrugged.
"Maybe it was too late," he said.
"I didn't get sick," she pointed out.
"You're the Slayer, Buffy. Though, I think you might have, if it were longer," he explained.
"So, when the powers that be say bonded, they mean…" she trailed off.
"Bonded," he confirmed. "It was never clear from the texts, I didn't know and I wouldn't have gone through with…" She was shaking her head.
"You can't deny the benefits," she said. "I'm not mad."
"It's going to make things a little complicated," he said. "More than twenty-four hours apart is definitely out of the question."
"I wonder if it goes both ways, though," she said thoughtfully. "Like, the more we're together, the stronger we become."
"That's a thought," he said.
"Either way, I'm going to have to sleep here at night or you're going to have to follow me around all day," she said.
"I'll get that room cleaned out tomorrow," he promised. The idea of tagging along behind Buffy like a puppy all day was not exactly appealing.
"I can't worry right now," she said, flopping back next to him and closing her eyes. "I'm tired."
"Oh," he said. "Uh, if you'd like me to retire downstairs, I will," he said. She looked over at him with unbelieving eyes.
"Giles, I know you were sort of out of it earlier, but I think personal space is a thing of the past," she said. He looked set to argue, but finally he just reached over and shut the lamp off. He climbed under the covers and she fell asleep before he did.
It was the strangest thing, moving around Giles' dreams. Before, she only caught snippets of images, but now it was like walking through a door and sitting down to watch the show. She didn't claim to understand what she saw, but she saw it all. Then the dream ended and the screen went black and then Giles was in her head, watching her dream like a film and she was aware of him, of his scrutiny but it didn't change the dream at all. She still was late for class, she still was wearing two different shoes, she still was watching Willow and Xander walk away from her again and again.
She was sort of… laying on Giles. Not on purpose, of course. It had just happened in the course of the night. They had shifted and somehow her leg had been thrown across him and somehow his arm and snaked around her and, at some point, she'd abandoned her pillow for his arm-shoulder-chest area. It was hard to say.
They were both awake, though. Neither were willing to make the first move on untangling themselves. Finally, the moment stretching too long, she spoke.
"How do you feel?" she asked. His fingers were drumming on her spine.
"Bloody phenomenal," he said, rather honestly. She sat up and the came apart.
"What?" she asked. He was rumpled but he did look better. He had good color.
"I think you were right about being closer making us stronger. As sick as I felt only a few hours ago, after having you so near I feel like I'm 25 again," he said.
"Oh," she said. "Great."
"I'm sorry," he said. "Was that too much information?"
"No, no. It's just sort of strange to think about how I got here," she said.
"How do you mean?" he asked, reaching for his glasses and settling them on his face so he could see her as she spoke.
"I mean, first I date a vampire who goes ultra bad and then good and then deserts me," she said. "Like sleeping next to an ice pack. No warmth."
"I see," he said.
"And then there was that fiasco with Parker and naïve-Buffy," she said. "That was bad and I learned a very valuable lesson." She shrugged.
"I'm not sure I understand," he said.
"Now, I learn that I'm going to be sharing a bed with my Watcher for… forever, probably, and a month ago I would have never believed it," she said.
"And now?" he asked gently.
"Seems like the most natural thing in the world," she said, laying back down and staring at the ceiling. "Like, why haven't I been doing this since day one?"
"Legalities of that aside," he said. "You weren't ready. Neither was I, for that matter."
"Things change so fast," she said. He didn't have an answer for that, and so he did the next best thing.
He put his arm back around her.
It didn't take Willow very long to realize that her roommate was moving out a little bit at a time. Buffy never slept at the dorm anymore and soon her clothes started disappearing too. When Mr. Gordo wasn't to be found, Willow confronted her about it.
"I know you're all…snuggly-wuggly with Giles, but if you move out, I have to make arrangements for a new roommate and to do that you have to, I don't know, admit to me that you're moving out," she said, looking at Buffy with her resolve face firmly in place.
"Okay, I'm sort of moving out," Buffy said. "But not really. Not officially. I'm just going to be the roommate who is never here."
"I want you here!" Willow said. Maybe it was selfish, but it was true.
"I explained it to you," Buffy said with more patience than she felt. In her mind, Giles whispered soothing things to her. "Proximity and yadda, yadda."
"I know," Willow said, sullenly.
"It's good," Buffy said, hoping Willow would learn to agree. "My kill rate is through the roof. My healing rate has doubled. Giles hasn't been knocked unconscious in weeks. He's stronger. I'm a better Slayer."
"I know all that. But I also know you're my best friend that I never see and that you've dropped two of your classes to focus on slaying," Willow said. "Giles used to want you to go to school."
"He still does," Buffy said. "But a college degree isn't going to stop an apocalypse. I can't just wave it at a demon and expect him to run away."
"Everything is changing," Willow said, revealing her true feelings.
"Believe me, I know," said Buffy.
It took Joyce a little longer to figure out about her daughter's change of address. But when she did, it wasn't pretty. Buffy was bad about keeping her cell phone charged and on her since her telepathic link with Giles made it unnecessary. Joyce had gone to Buffy's dorm, the Bronze, the coffee shop, and finally to Giles' apartment in an effort to locate her daughter. She knocked and, unfortunately, Buffy answered the door.
"Mom!" she exclaimed. Joyce stepped into the apartment uninvited.
"You are pretty hard to find these days," her mother said.
"Yeah, well," she said, uneasily. "You know how my social calendar gets."
"Where is Mr. Giles?" her mother asked. Buffy cocked her head for a moment.
"At the intersection of Maple and Prospect," she said and then, at her mother's strange look, realized that her answer had been a tad specific. "He went to the store to buy milk."
"Well, I wanted to talk to you about Christmas plans. I didn't realize I'd need a map to find you," Joyce said. Buffy motioned for her to sit down on the couch.
"I thought we were staying in Sunnydale for Christmas," Buffy said. But Joyce was looking past her at the row of framed pictures on the mantle that had once been on Buffy's nightstand. "Mom?"
"What is going on here, exactly?" Joyce asked, meeting Buffy's eye. She winced, knowing that she wasn't that good of a liar. "Tell me."
"It's sort of a long story," Buffy said, shifting uncomfortable.
"Give me the short version," Joyce snapped.
"Sometimes I stay here," Buffy said.
"Six, seven nights a week," Buffy said. At her mother's overcoming look of outrage she held up her hand. "But there are extenuating circumstances!"
"What could possibly be so important that you had to move?" her mother roared.
"Slayer stuff," Buffy mumbled. Internally, she was begging Giles to hurry home and save her. The general sense of his response was No, thank you.
Coward! she shot back.
"…the least of my worries being, why am I paying for you to live on campus?" her mother was saying. She'd missed the first bit.
"Because moving in with my ex-high school librarian appears unseemly?" she said, meekly.
"I can't believe we're even having this conversation," her mother said, shaking her head. "I've put more trust in Mr. Giles than he deserved and this is how he repays me? By taking advantage of my daughter? I thought he was supposed to protect you!"
"Mom! He isn't taking advantage of me! We aren't sleeping together… well, I mean, we're not having sex," she amended, trying to keep the lies to a minimum. "It's all Slayer related."
"I've heard that line before," she said. "Either you live at school or you move back home. There is no third option. There is no Mr. Giles."
"You can't do that!" Buffy exclaimed. "Mom, you don't understand!"
"I think I finally do," Joyce said, standing. "You're coming home with me, right now."
"I'm eighteen," Buffy said, horrified that she had to play the legal adult card. "I'm not going anywhere."
"You do what I say or I stop paying for your education," her mother threatened. Buffy threw up her hands in exasperation.
"And last time you gave me an ultimatum like that? How did that turn out?" she asked. "You can't make me choose between life and slaying. It's not an option. You can't make me choose between you and Giles. You won't win," she said. Her mother looked like she had just been slapped.
"I can't believe I'm hearing this from you!" her mother cried.
"You can take away the money, if you really want to, but I'm not going with you," Buffy said, with a tone of deep finality. Outraged, Joyce left the apartment, slamming the door behind her. A few minutes later, Giles returned with his bag of groceries.
"I'm so sorry," he said. "I actually did try to get here quickly."
"I know," she said, wiping her eyes.
"I never wanted you to choose," he said, gently.
"It's not even a choice," she promised him. "I didn't even have to think about it."
Buffy woke him up in the middle of the night because he'd been dreaming about torture and she was tired of looking at it.
"What?" he asked, sleepily. "What is it?"
"I know you think about having sex with me," she said, the darkness making her brave.
"And you think about me," he said. His muscles had tensed beneath her – he was nervous.
"Aren't you curious to see what would happen? How it would feel? What would change?" she asked, tracing circles on his warm stomach.
"I am curious," he admitted, trying to ignore the shivers that went through him when her fingers hit a particularly sensitive spot. Of course, she knew his reaction immediately and repeated it. "But I'm in no rush."
"I'm curious," she admitted.
"Having sex just because everyone already thinks we do is not really a good enough reason," he admonished her.
"But what about making me a better Slayer? Is that a good enough reason?" she asked.
"It's a better reason," he agreed.
"And if I told you that I loved you?" she asked. "What then?"
"I know you love me," he said. "And you know that I love you, but again, sex for the sake of sex isn't my style."
"I'm not India Cohen," she reminded him.
"You're Buffy Summers," he responded. "You're my Slayer and I'm going to keep you safe no matter what. The right time will come, I assure you." This was strangely appeasing and she snuggled back down into him.
"You were dreaming scary stuff," she whispered. "Otherwise I would have let you sleep."
"I understand. Some things I cannot control," he said, his lips moving against her hair. He thought she'd drifted off again, or at least was well on the way, but she squirmed against him instead.
"I'm totally with you on the sex," she said, finally. "But how do you feel about making out for a while?" He laughed, a big, belly-shaking laugh of true mirth.
"I'd say that's fair game," he said, finally, after regaining his breath. She grinned into his chest.
"Good to know," she said, closing her eyes. "Goodnight, Giles."
He groaned, but said nothing else.
Sometimes, when Buffy had an hour or so between classes, Giles would come onto campus with coffee and they would sit at a table on the lawn. She would tell him about her lecture and he would offer advice on assignments. To anyone passing by, though, they were sitting quietly, heads bent over a shared book. Sometimes Willow would join them, and they would speak out loud for her benefit.
In the end, Joyce hadn't stopped paying for Buffy's education but conversation had all but stopped and Buffy understood that she would be applying for financial aid, just in case. Or, perhaps, ceasing her education. But whenever that thought even came close to the surface of her mind, she received an angry tongue lashing from Giles in response.
"I want to fight, I want to make Sunnydale a safe place, I want to be the best Slayer I can be," she argued. "How am I supposed to do that and go to class every day?"
"Buffy, what happened to wanting to be normal?" Giles argued back, his coffee sloshing over the lip of its paper cup.
"Giles, I can be better than normal," she said. "We are always fighting back, we are always reacting. Aren't you tired of being on the defensive?"
"You're the Slayer, I grant you that, but you're beginning to think that you can take on all evil by yourself and that's a slippery slope," he said.
"I can at least start to be proactive," she murmured, dabbing at his hand with her napkin.
"There is a balance to be found," he agreed. "However, education of any kind makes your more intelligent and the more intelligent you are, the better Slayer."
She hated it when she couldn't fight his logic. Instead, she let him walk her to class and at the door to her classroom she kissed his cheek and went inside. The students swarming around him looked at him with questioning eyes. Creepy, protective father or lecherous boyfriend? Even if they could understand that he was the third option, they wouldn't understand.
Christmas was spent with Joyce. Buffy had given him one opportunity to bow out but he decided to take the high road and go with her because it was what she wanted.
"We can just set aside our differences for one night," Buffy said in the car. Willow and Xander sat in the back. Oz was gone and Willow didn't say much anymore. Xander had invited Anya but she had declined and Buffy hadn't thought to ask why. Giles hadn't cared enough to. Giles navigated carefully the busy streets of Sunnydale. Buffy rolled her window down even thought it was the coldest winter he'd spent in Sunnydale yet. Giles could practically hear Willow's teeth knocking together behind her, but no one asked Buffy to roll the window up.
In the front window of Buffy's childhood home, they could all see the Christmas tree twinkling merrily. No one walking up to the house felt particularly merry, except maybe Xander but it was hard to tell under all the sarcasm. Giles walked with his hand on Buffy's back, guiding her forward with the gentlest of pressure. Joyce met them at the door with a stiff smile and took everyone's coats and scarves. When she offered Giles a stiff drink, he was not too proud to take it.
Eventually, Buffy and her friends put on a movie and piled into the living room. Joyce trapped Giles in the hallway by the stairs and spoke low enough so that only Buffy could hear. He could see Buffy watching them but she wouldn't come over unless he asked her to.
"I want Buffy to take a full course load next year," Joyce said, sternly, in a way that vaguely reminded him of his own mother.
"I want that as well, Mrs. Summers, but I can't force Buffy to do so," he said, feeling tired and a little light headed from the alcohol. He shouldn't have had a second before dinner.
"You seem to be able to force her to do everything else," Joyce said, rather savagely in his opinion.
"You seem to think that I'm some sort of monster," Giles said, keeping his voice even and low. "This is the way men and women have been behaving since the beginning of time."
"She's a child!"
"She is, most emphatically, not," he said loud enough so that Buffy started to rise but he shook his head and she sunk down low again. Xander looked a little shell-shocked and Willow couldn't be bothered to care about anything but her own heartache anymore.
"You always talk about the past and the future. We're living right now, Mr. Giles, and right now I am worried about my daughter's reputation," Joyce said.
"To her peers at school she is a normal girl. To me, she is a hero. To the vampires and demons, she is powerful and to be feared. To her friends, she's just Buffy. It seems to me, Mrs. Summers, that the only one judging her poorly is you," Giles said, crossing his arms.
Maybe his comment helped or maybe it didn't, but for the rest of the night, Joyce was nearly kind to them all. When it was time to leave, he handed Buffy his keys and hung back to speak to her mother once more, hopefully for the last time on the subject.
"When I was training to be a Watcher, I took an entire class on the proper way to watch a Slayer die," he said. "At the time, it wasn't that bad. Where to put the body, how deep to dig the hole. Who to call and where to go. Now, though, it's not just some girl. It's Buffy." Joyce looked white as a sheet.
"Why are you telling me this?"
"Because one day, I am going to have to bury your daughter. Please, I beg of you, Madame, please do not try to take from me the time I am allowed with her," he said.
That night, he didn't sleep. He knew his dreams would be about Buffy's demise as they were on so many nights and he didn't want her to see them. Instead, he left her in the bed – she was such a heavy sleeper – and prowled around his apartment in the dark, trying to keep himself moving, trying to keep himself out of Buffy's head and her out of his. He didn't want her to know what he'd said to her mother, ever.
Buffy woke up alone feeling sleepy and restless. Giles wasn't in bed with her which was unusual. She didn't realize how much she liked waking up to find him there, either with his arms wrapped around her or his back to her, until he was gone.
"Giles?" she called, looking into the empty bathroom. She went downstairs quickly, searching the room for him.
In the spare room.
He was sitting among the boxes and general mess on a hard wooden chair looking ghostly and exhausted.
"What's wrong?" she asked. "Are you okay?"
"Just fine," he murmured.
"Well, you look like crap," she said, walking up to him. She was in her sports bra and a pair of soft shorts with hearts printed lightly all over them. He reached up and put his hands lightly on her waist. She was so skinny, no matter how much he fed her. His fingers could practically meet. She was warm and smooth; everything about her hummed.
"You're so beautiful," he whispered, pressing his face into that expanse of smooth, unblemished skin. She put her hands on his head. "So flawless."
She hadn't seen him like this in a while - this unguarded and she didn't quite know what to do. He had called her strong and he had called her graceful and he had called her tardy, incorrigible, and hard-headed. He had never called her flawless. It wasn't true of course, but as far as soldiers go, she was as close as anyone was going to get. She was trying to decide what to say when he started to kiss her. One kiss, just above her belly button and one just below. From each place his lips touched, heat spread like ripples in a pond. He kissed her on her hip just above the elastic waist of her shorts and again on the other side. Her skin fluttered.
"You're tired," she said, running her fingers through his hair. Her nails scraped his scalp lightly. "I can feel it."
"So give me strength," he said. He stood up, knocking the chair back. She jumped a little and took a small step back. His eyes were dark and a little wild. It reminded her of the time he ran around Sunnydale breaking windows with trash cans and told her to sod off. Of the first time she saw him not completely sober. Of the time he stuck that sword straight through the mayor and Wesley had flinched beside her. He lifted her hair off of her neck and licked from her collarbone to just below her ear. She groaned so loudly that it startled the both of them.
"Jesus," she said.
"It was torture," he whispered. "When you did that to me, it was torture and I had to stop you."
"I'm sorry," she whimpered. He kissed her earlobe and she didn't even realize they were moving until her back hit the wall. She could feel him pressed against her, hard and hot through his shorts. It would be so easy, she knew, to just shift some fabric around and end the wait but it wasn't the way he wanted it so she didn't rush him. She stood still and let him nibble at her jaw, let him slide his hand down to her ass, and let him scrape his stubble across her cheek so hard that there would be marks.
But still, he didn't kiss her. Not on the mouth, anyway. The more energy she fed him, the weaker her knees got and finally they buckled. The sudden motion, the limpness of her body, made him step back. She could see the realization on his face almost instantly.
"God," he said. "Buffy, I'm sorry."
She didn't open her eyes just yet.
"Why?" she murmured. She had to remind herself to breathe in and the sudden intake of oxygen made her even more dizzy. She let herself slump down to the floor.
"I shouldn't have…." And he rushed past her and she heard the bathroom door slam. The water came on and she could feel the jolt of cold as he stepped under the freezing spray. She could hear his inner monologue, something he would have normally blocked but apparently couldn't. The lines of communication had been wrenched open by the prolonged contact.
Horrible, selfish, lecherous, needy, greedy old man, he was thinking. Buffy got up on her wobbly legs and forced the door open, busting the lock. She pulled back the curtain where he was naked and freezing with his back to her.
"Get out," he pleaded.
"You have some sort of crazy guilt trip thing happening Giles. It isn't healthy," she said, reaching past him to turn off the spray.
"This wasn't how this was supposed to be," he moaned, refusing to face her. She draped a towel over his shoulders and waited for him to situate it before turning to face her, though he didn't meet her eyes.
"I sleep in your bed every night. Of course this is how it's supposed to be," she scolded. "The only wrong part is you wigging out every time you touch me."
"Buffy," he said, stepping carefully out of the tub. "You couldn't possibly understand."
"I can read your mind! Of course I understand! One day I'm going to die and leave you here alone and you're afraid to give in to something that's almost certainly temporary. Is that it?" she asked. His eyes finally met hers with an almost prideful expression.
"Perhaps," he said.
"It isn't any way to live your life," she said, sadly. Upstairs, the alarm began to sound. The alarm that meant Buffy had to leave for school in 15 minutes or be late.
"Go to school, Buffy," he said, walking past her and up the stairs. He didn't talk to her as she threw on clothes, when she brushed her teeth or her hair. She didn't try to get in his head and she didn't say goodbye before she slammed the door.
After classes, Buffy didn't want to go home to Giles and so she sat instead in Xander's basement, feeling her fever grow as the night ate away hours. They were on their third kung-fu movie and Xander was afraid to bring up the issue because he still wasn't sure what happened, exactly.
"Are you okay?" Xander asked for the fourth time in the last hour.
"Fine," Buffy said, from behind clenched teeth. It had been 12 hours now since she'd seen Giles and it was the longest they'd been apart since that first night when Giles' had gotten his bad fever. Go ahead and burn, she thought spitefully.
"Cause you look a little…clammy," Xander said, hoping that Buffy wouldn't sock him. On the bed across the room, Anya was flipping through a magazine.
"She's got the fever," Anya offered up.
"I'm fine," Buffy said again.
"If you say so," Xander said, uncomfortably. And then, as if hearing Anya for the first time, he said, "What fever?"
"I hate kung fu," Anya said. "Can't we watch that gay fashion show?"
"Anya," Xander said. "What fever?"
"It's nothing," Buffy said, reaching for the remote and turning up the volume a few bars.
"From her Watcher's bond," Anya said. "I've seen this sort of thing before."
"Giles is making you sick?" Xander asked, snatching the remote from Buffy's hand and shutting the movie off. "Why?"
"Who knows why Giles does anything he does," Buffy said, unable to keep the anger and hurt from her voice. "If he didn't want to be near me, then he probably shouldn't have strengthened the bond in the first place."
"How can you say Giles doesn't want to be near you?" Xander said. "Giles is your number one fan. It's like all Buffy all the time with that guy."
"I don't see him running after me right now," Buffy muttered, rubbing her temples slightly in an attempt to relieve the ache.
"Well look at you," Anya said. "You're the Slayer and you feel like crap. How do you think Giles is feeling right now. How long has it been?" Buffy glanced at her watch.
"Almost 13 hours," she admitted. Anya sat up and the magazine slid off her lap.
"Seriously?" she asked.
"Yeah," said Buffy. "Not since early this morning. Why?"
"Buffy, you're going to kill him," Anya said. "We have to go to him right now!"
In Xander's car, with Buffy sprawled across the back seat, she managed to ask, "How do you know so much about the bond?"
"Oh, I cursed a Watcher once," she said brightly. "The Slayer called me to curse him and they were bonded. But the curse hurt her as much as it hurt him… very messy in the end."
"Ew," Buffy said.
"Yeah, I didn't tell you that story for a reason," Anya said. "I sure hope you didn't kill your Watcher."
"Anya!" Xander said, pressing his foot harder on the gas.
"He isn't dead but I can't hear him," Buffy said, suddenly in full panic mode. "I'm so stupid, so, so stupid!"
"We're here," Xander said. He got out of the car and helped haul Buffy out and to the front door. Anya opened the door and saw Giles first, lying unconscious on the kitchen floor. Buffy moaned at the sight of him, a low and mournful sound of pure regret.
"What do we do?" Anya asked, her knowledge clearly at an end.
"Bed," Buffy mumbled. "Both of us."
Xander and Anya managed to get Giles off the floor and drug him up the stairs where Buffy was already climbing wearily. Upstairs, she started to pull off her clothes and directed Xander to do the same to Giles.
"Um…" he said but Anya just reached for the hem of Giles' sweater. Buffy pushed off her pants until she was just in her bra and underwear and she helped put Giles into the bed with her.
"Will you stay, please? Until he wakes up?" Buffy said, draping herself across him. She needed as much of his skin as she could touch.
"We'll be downstairs if you need us," Xander assured her and he and Anya disappeared from her view. Buffy pressed her face into his sweaty neck.
I'm sorry. Sorry, sorry, sorry, she sobbed. Slowly but surely, Giles lifted his hand and rested it heavily on her head.
Buffy, she heard. Sleep now.
So she did.
Buffy woke up to hear Giles downstairs, dismissing Xander and Anya.
"Thank you so much," he was saying.
"Are you sure you're okay, G-man?" Xander said. "We did find you in a big heap, you know."
"I'm aware but I'm feeling quite well now, I assure you. I'll make sure Buffy calls you when she wakes up. I'm sure she'll want to thank you as well," Giles said.
"Come on Xander," Anya said. Buffy heard the door close and Giles' feet on the stairs. She closed her eyes and pushed her face further into the pillow.
"Faker," she heard Giles say.
"Caught me," she said, patting the empty space beside her. "Have I mentioned that I'm sorry?"
"Only about 50 times," he said, climbing back in bed. She was still mostly naked but he'd put on sweats and a t-shirt. "I'd say we both learned a valuable lesson."
"Storming out: not an option," she recited dutifully.
"Very good," he said.
"Denying your true feelings for no good reason: not an option," she said, narrowing her eyes at him.
"Fair enough," he said. "You have to understand that this is difficult for me."
"Stiff upper lip and such?" she asked.
"I was trained very thoroughly to be your Watcher but the council was exceptionally silent about the bond. I'm flying blind here, Buffy, and I need your patience," he said.
"All right," she said. "Waiting is one thing, but you're just a tease."
"A tease?" he said. "Me?"
"You! You're the worst kind of tease. You feel me up and then hide behind your dignity so I don't get to return the favor," she said. "Just cruel."
"Well, that was a little unfair," he murmured, peeling the sheet back from her body so he could examine her more fully. He'd cleaned out three drawers for her lingerie alone. He was never disappointed with what he found beneath her clothes. Unwilling to wait for him any longer, she pulled his head down and pressed her mouth against his. His arms snaked around her and she pushed her tongue into his mouth.
The kiss went on and on, each second passed brought the energy between them higher and higher. When Giles reached for the clasp to her bra, she thought she was going to pass out. When Giles put his mouth on her right nipple, everything on the nightstand began to rattle. When Giles slipped his hand inside her panties, the mirror in the bathroom shattered.
"Don't even think of stopping," Buffy groaned, when Giles finally looked up at the noise to see the carnage his bedroom had become.
"I'll get a new apartment," he promised.
Three days later, Giles received a transatlantic phone call. He and Buffy were still cleaning up the mess they'd made of his apartment. There wasn't a window, picture frame, or tea cup left in the place. There were gouges in his hardwood floors that wouldn't ever be repairable. All the food in the refrigerator had gone bad and the plumbing was still on the fritz even after he'd called a plumber out. It still wasn't safe to walk barefoot even though Buffy had been sweeping up glass for days.
"Is this going to happen every time we, uh, you know?" Buffy had asked, that first day, wearing only his bed sheet while he stared down at the wreckage in horror.
"God I hope not," he'd said but she'd wanted to test the theory just in case. But it hadn't happened again, the build up and out pour of magic.
"Are you going to answer that?" Buffy asked, leaning on her broom and pointing to the phone.
"Ah, yes," he said, and grabbed the new cordless phone, the one that hadn't been demolished. "Hello?"
"Hello, Mr. Giles," said the tinny voice on the other end.
"Travers," he said, the contempt in his voice palpable. Behind him, Buffy growled.
"I seem to recall relieving you of your duties as Watcher, Rupert, and yet three different covens have reported to me in the last 72 hours that the Slayer has performed all three stages of the bonding ritual," Travers said, sounding more angry with every word.
"And?" he asked.
"I do hope you are about to inform me that Buffy has bonded with Mr. Wyndam-Pryce," Travers said. Behind him, Buffy made an exaggerated gagging noise.
"If that's what you'd like to hear," Giles said, casually.
"To perform such a rite without consent of the council is in direct breech of the Watcher's code!" Travers said loudly into Giles' ear.
"Luckily, as you've so diligently informed me, Quentin, I no longer work for the Watcher's council," he said. "And, neither does Buffy. So, if you wish to speak about Slayer business, I suggest you call Faith." And with that, he hung up the phone. Buffy rushed into his arms, hugging him so hard that he had to remind her that while his strength had increased considerably, she was still stronger and a little over-zealous with the hugging.
"We're going to be okay now, right Giles?" she asked.
"Buffy, I can't promise…"
"Giles, just lie to me," she said. He kissed the crown of her head and smiled.
"Of course," he said. "The good guys are always stalwart and true, the bad guys are easily distinguished by their pointy horns or black hats, and we always defeat them and save the day. No one ever dies, and everybody lives happily ever after."
"Liar," she whispered.