Buffy would keep her bed. That was never in question. She was the glue holding the project together, she needed her strength, she needed her sleep. And while at first there was enough space for Willow to sleep with Buffy and for Giles to take Willow's room, more girls came and everything had to be rearranged.
Dawn kept her bed and her room, Buffy still had delusions of her sister having a normal life and Dawn was all for that if it meant a mattress. Xander could also keep his ninety minutes on the sofa. But girls bogarted Willow's room and left Giles nowhere.
"I'll take the floor in my room, and Dawnie can sleep with you, and Giles can have her room." Willow said, forever the peacemaker.
"Absolutely not. Dawn you still go to school, you need to be rested and have someplace to do your homework." she looked at Giles. "We'll sleep in shifts." she said and they gave it no more thought. It was nice for about two days- Buffy would grab a few hours in the evening, before sunset if she could, and by the early morning hours, when Giles exhaustedly stumbled upstairs, he could smell her shampoo on the pillow cases and it was comforting. The familiarity of the scent sent him to sleep and he dreamt of the past.
The system inevitably broke down. Anya went to her apartment and Giles tiptoed over sleeping slayers in training to get upstairs. Xander, he found awake, coming out of Dawn's room.
"Spike." he said. "Dawn is on the floor in Buffy's room, so be careful." Giles nodded his thanks for the warning and opened her door. Dawn was curled, asleep in the far corner, just a lump under a pile of old blankets and a quilt, the sleeping bag supply long tapped. What he hadn't realized, but should have, was that Buffy was in bed as well. It was a double, they would both fit, but still, he hesitated. He changed into sweats in the bathroom, tired of sleeping in trousers. She was awake when he came back in.
Without a thought, she held back the covers so he could slide in. He did so and lay flat on his back, staring at her sloped ceiling.
"Did you talk to the Botox thing?" she asked, sleepily.
"Yes." he said, quietly, pointing at Dawn's almost imperceptibly rising and falling heap.
"What was it like?" she said, her voice lowered accordingly.
"Big and... squishy. It blinked a lot." he said, trying to make her smile and she gave him a slight one for effort. "It said the slayer line is in chaos and that is why the first is attacking."
"Is it my fault?" she asked, automatically. He moved on his side, head propped up on his elbow so he could look at her.
"No. When you died, that was the natural order of things. But the fact that you are alive... you're confusing destiny, I think." he said, honestly.
"How is that not my fault?" she asked, sighing.
"You didn't choose to live." he said. "Nevertheless, here you are and I'm glad. Close your eyes, get all the sleep you can." he said, laying back down. There was about a minute of silence.
"Yes, love?" he said, the endearment like a soothing balm to her soul.
"Do you want to know how Spike is?"
"He's not broken. And he has a soul now, you know. I think he can be an asset." she said but he put his hand on her shoulder to shush her.
"You don't have to sell me. Just rest." he ordered. Under the covers, she snuggled closer to him.
Mornings could have been awkward but weren't. Everyone was just too tired to care. So what if Xander walked in on one of the girls in the shower and they walked in on him, so what if Willow had to help Spike drink his blood and relieve himself? So what if Buffy woke up curled into the warm body of her watcher? He would simply kiss her forehead, bid her a good morning and set to the extensive task of waking Dawn. She always took a few moments to watch him peel the layers off her sister and coax her into the waking world. Buffy had always been the type to open her eyes and be ready to go but Dawn needed an incentive and Giles served as one well.
He would take her with him to the grocery store or weapon sharpening. They went to the school and had her transferred to home schooling. Her normalcy all but gone, Buffy felt safer having her near and Giles was more than qualified to teach her. Especially since the fiasco of her possibly being one of the potentials and having that battle at the school. She was kept safe and out of the way by him. This morning, she was to be on Spike and Andrew duty.
"I might have gotten up for Spike but not Andrew, Giles, I can't take the Star Wars references!" she whined, rolling back over.
"Get your ass up or I'll beat it." Buffy chirped and headed for the shower, she didn't get up early for nothing.
"Charming," Giles said, but he smiled.
The four of them spoke without speaking. Xander, Willow, Buffy, and Giles stood in the kitchen eating what they could (what was left) and had strategy conversations telepathically in their heads, thanks to Willow's magic. But they found themselves doing it at other times, joking, reminiscing. They would laugh at odd times and only Dawn would know what was happening. It was the old, familiar feeling of being left out that brought her comfort. At least some things never changed.
Dawn was downstairs making popcorn with the girls when Buffy and Giles went upstairs to sleep a few hours. Someone might have pointed out how they almost always slept together now, the shifts idea long gone, but no one noticed, no one paid any attention. And the truth was that they preferred sleeping together, it was comforting. She was bruised and scraped, they attacks of abnormally strong vampires and bringers getting worse. Her arm hurt a lot and she winced when she tried to unbutton her shirt.
"Ah, may I help you?" he asked.
"Yeah... I don't know what happened to the healing; it's beginning to take longer. I think my batteries are getting a little low." she quipped and he moved in front of her and started to undo her buttons, careful not to touch her. "I don't bite."
"I just... didn't want to be... inappropriate." he offered, the buttons all undone.
"This isn't high school, Mr. Giles." she said as he moved around to pull her shirt off from the back leaving her in the flimsy tank top she would probably sleep in. "I mean, I trust you more then anyone else and if I thought you were going to hurt me like that I'd go get someone else to help, Xander would jump at the offer, but- what are you doing? That tickles!" she said, trying to move away. His other hand stopped her and she winced, her arm that he held sore. He didn't apologize.
"You told me you had it removed." he growled. "I can't believe you still have this!"
"You lied to me? And how did you hide this?" he asked, fingering the tattoo at the base of her neck. "Am I blind? You wore next to nothing for the rest of high school, I can't believe-"
"Hey!" she said, indignant of the attack on her wardrobe. "Look, I was careful; I covered it or put make up on it if I thought you were going to see it. And I'm sorry I lied about getting it removed. But you still have yours! Why didn't you get yours removed?"
"It's my past Buffy, it's something I deal with."
"Oh, but being tied to a table and tattooed against my will into a club I had to pry the details of out of you about isn't constituted as part of my past? And then, and then you left me there and didn't ask me about it again. I understand that Ms. Calendar was hurt but for that week I didn't exist." she said, angrily. He stepped back at the sound of Jenny's name.
"But... why do you have it still?"
"What do I have of you, Giles? Besides memories? No pictures, no letters or cards, no gifts. I have training and you in another country. When I'm old and you're dead I will have this. I will have proof of you." He hugged her then, wrapped his arms around her broken body and she inhaled deeply. 'I'm sorry' she thought and he sighed.
"I'm sorry, too." he replied.
"Hey... I didn't think we could do that without Willow." she said, stepping back and pulling back the covers on the bed.
"It's pretty powerful magic. This must be residual. It will probably wear off quickly." he said. She turned around and he changed into his pajamas. She was in bed when he turned back around. He got in next to her, turning off the bedside lamp. "Buffy, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to snap at you. It just shocked me."
'I know.' She thought. He went to sleep.
She was in the library, the old, long gone library. It was intact, all his books there, the evening sun streaming through the windows. Training time. She was standing in the center of the room looking just as bewildered as he felt.
"I wouldn't be dreaming this. I mean... we're doing this together, aren't we? Willow's spell?" she asked him.
"I suppose I would be dreaming the library then." he said, walking in, looking around. "This was my favorite time. Alone in here, training with you."
"I thought you hated it... I made you listen to my music and you always clutched your head." she said walking up to him.
"Besides that. I enjoyed watching you do what you do best. Oh, and I hate to tell you this, but you put me in the tweed." he said.
"No!" she said and then laughed. "It's so Giles." she offered, pushing the tweed jacket off his shoulders. He rolled up his cuffs as was his custom and she sighed, pulling on his suspenders lightly. "This was you."
"I was a bit stuffy, wasn't I? Very much under the council's thumb. I didn't realize how far away they were."
"And now, they're gone." she said, almost sadly. "Years and years of knowledge and procedure and bravery and corruption and... me. Gone."
"Yes... I didn't think I'd be sad either but many generations of my family was devoted to it after all, as was I." She pulled him into his office and down onto the couch. He sat behind her and wrapped his arms around and he she rest her back on his chest, lazily.
"This is what I dream about. Lounging. Relaxing. You." she admitted. He smiled, it all felt so unreal. It was unreal but at least this time it wasn't his mind making up her actions. And at least this time he would wake up in Sunnydale with her (quite literally) and not in Bath where it was pouring rain and loneliness.
"I, as well."
"I guess I didn't realize how many slayers are trained but never called. I mean, most of them are dead for this generation and the next judging how young some of them are, but still, there are a lot of girls sharing our bathrooms."
"Slayers don't last very long, I'm afraid. But yes, many are found and trained from birth. You were unusual, not having a Watcher from a young age." he held her closer. "This is dreaming, Buffy, not work, just relax. Nothing can hurt us here." with that, he planted his lips on the space where her neck met her shoulder and drowsily kissed her there not asking more or expecting anything in return. And had they been awake they both might have thought differently but in their shared dream, they had no one to answer to but themselves. It just felt so right that neither questioned it. Her head rolled back to give him more access. The lighting never faded, they never got tired, and the old Sunnydale High felt like home. They turned to each other.
"WAKE UP." they said in perfect unison.
"That was weird." Buffy said, reaching over him to turn off the alarm. "It seemed like ten minutes. How was that five hours?"
"It was a dream. Our perception of time was obviously... ah... skewed." he offered, still groggy. She reached up to where he had been kissing her and blushed slightly.
"It was nice." Dawn knocked lightly.
"Hey, are you guys up?" she asked, pushing the door open slightly.
"Come on in, we're awake." She called, pushing him out of the bed so that she could get out. He cleared his throat and looked at her pointedly. She got the hint and let him stay under the covers, climbing over him to greet her sister. She didn't mind Giles smoochies but his morning/dream induced erection was still wig worthy.
"It's almost sun down, so... you know. Thought the slayer might wanna be awake for what ever is about to happen." she said.
"Thanks, munchkin. We'll get dressed and be down." Dawn left, and she faced him. "Sorry, wasn't thinking."
"Q-quite all right." he tried not to look down. "How is your arm?"
"Much better." she stood in front of her closet thoughtfully. "So, pretty much whatever I wear gets ruined. What do you hate the most?" she said, trying to make light conversation.
"Do you think that if I had gotten a watcher at birth... that if I were more like Kendra was, I'd be a better slayer? I mean, yeah, she was intense at first but she was a good slayer." she pouted slightly at the memory of her friend. Her friend that had, inadvertently, caused Faith.
"Kendra was the ideal Slayer in the eyes of the council, yes, but you are the one that is alive. And Faith, because I know where you are headed with this, was also too extreme. While unorthodox, you are balanced." he got up now, and took her hand. "Now is not the time for doubting." he warned her. "Now is the time for strength." With that he kissed her cheek.
She never wanted to think about evil ever again. They had won but... well, she didn't want to live her life in the lists of people she had lost (Spike) but in the people who had survived. There were two Slayers in training left, but Anya was gone too. Like always though, the Scoobies were all accounted for, the original ones. Willow, Xander, Giles, and herself were sitting in her living room.
"Well have to get the windows replaced in the morning. Did someone call for glass?" Xander asked.
"Dawn is doing it. Leaving a message on the machine. I mean, we give them so much business that they usually show up when we ask." Buffy answered. "I'm tired."
"Where are the girls?" Willow asked.
"Asleep in our bed." Giles answered. Meaning, of course, they were in Buffy's room.
"Where will they go? I mean, if I die, one of them will be called. And there are no more watchers, except you." Willow looked at Giles for an answer.
"Well, I suppose I'll have to start training you two, Willow and Xander. And who ever else wants to learn. The world needs Slayers and Slayers need Watchers, after all." he said. He smiled at them but no one could return the gesture.
"I want to sell this house." Buffy said, looking around. "Let's fix it, and go someplace else. I can't stand it here anymore."
"No. Giles, I know that you like to 'Buffy-' me but I'm serious. We could get one with room for training and everyone who wants to live with me. And you could stay. Closer to the new high school for Dawn." She was right, they all knew it would happen.
"Tomorrow, maybe, we can talk about it. But let's at least fix this one first, huh?" Xander said, becoming the voice of reason. "I'll go make food and them maybe we'll get some sleep." he rose and moved to the kitchen to see what could be scrounged after such a battle. Buffy could see he was trying to make himself useful, trying not to think about Anya. Dawn came in and sat herself between Buffy and Giles. She leaned into him and reached out her hand to her sister who clasped it. Dawn's eye was hidden beneath the baggie of ice she held against it.
"I can't believe I pulled a Giles." she whined. "Ten minutes in I get knocked out and miss all the good stuff." she said.
"I resent that." He said, pulling on her wrist to inspect the damage.
"It kept you alive. That's all that matters." Buffy pointed out. They had found her collapsed figure afterwards, stashed in a dark corner, and carried her come. They had figured it to be Spike. He had, after all, promised to protect the girl. For now, her eye was swollen shut and purple. He sighed and placed the ice pack on it again. She shrugged.
"It at least looks like I'm cool. Like when you bake, but you don't really, you just buy the cookies and put them on the platter. But if you put flour all over your face, who'd know?" she said.
"Dawnie, why don't you go to bed? You had a pretty hard go of it." Willow suggested, getting up from the arm chair. "I'll go too." nodding, Dawn left the comfort of the warmth between Buffy and her Watcher to follow the witch upstairs. They were alone.
"You did well." he said.
"People died." she countered.
"People, but not the world. Not humanity. And not you." he said, his hand reaching across the back of the couch to massage her neck. He leaned her head forward to let him.
"I wish they could have lived. The potentials... Spike. He was a jerk, but I sort of liked him. Even Andrew, as annoying as he was..." she started to choke up. "Even he could have lived." She wiped the tears around when Xander came in with bowls of cereal for everyone.
"Well, I didn't expect they'd leave." He looked down at the extra bowls. "I'll eat them." But looking he saw how exhausted the Slayer was and that Giles' eyes were closed. "All of them."
"The only one who has good enough credit to get a loan is you, Xander." Giles concluded, hanging up the phone. Xander looked up.
"The bank ran a credit history on everyone who is supposed to live in the new house, wherever it may be, to see who will need to put their name on the loan and it turns out that it is you." he said again.
"Wow. I've never... I mean... you kinda all are going to have to depend on me. It's trippy." he shrugged and went back to drilling. He was fixing a wall that had been busted through too many times by too many people. The whole house was beginning to take shape, look livable. Dawn and the potentials were all going to high school, Dawn's brief stint of home schooling overruled by her sister. Buffy was still playing guidance counselor as well. Giles' glanced at his watch, forgetting it was broken. Despite not knowing the exact time, he knew the car full of girls should be home any moment. At five, the real estate agent was supposed come and take he and Buffy, and now Xander, house hunting.
He felt her before he saw her. Through the drilling, he looked up to see her car coming down the street and the four girls got out, laughing. Backpacks and long hair. He almost wished for libraries and high school Buffy again, if only because that had been an easier time. He knew his place then at least. Now, at night, he kissed her neck and in the mornings her small body was hard against his and she liked to run her toes along his calf.
"Hey manly men." Dawn said, coming in and dropped her pack to the floor. "How goes the repairs?"
"I get to buy the house! Woohoo!" Xander said, his excitement finally betraying him.
"What?" Buffy said, glancing at her watcher.
"His credit was the only one that checked out." Giles supplied.
"Not even the G-Man can save this one." Xander nodded happily.
"Xander, you don't have to. I mean, buying a house is a big thing and I don't want you to feel obligated to do it." Buffy said.
"What? This means I get to stay with my best friends forever! OF COURSE I want to do it!" He said. Buffy grinned and wrapped her arms around him.
"Thank you." She said and he couldn't help but smile.
Later, in the living room of the house that Buffy wanted, Xander stood signing his name on document after document. The Seller wanted to sell as much as the Scoobies wanted to buy. It wasn't for sure but the house was big and all the fixing it needed could be easily handled by Xander. It had a basement for training and a tall fence. Not to mention lots of rooms for lots of people. Giles, Willow, Xander, Buffy, Dawn, and the two Potentials at least. Buffy and Giles were upstairs doing a more thorough inspection.
"I like how the master room has a balcony. Those are so much easier to get out of then windows." Buffy commented. Giles chuckled and shook his head. "You know," she continued. "Because sometimes there are bad things at the front door. And you have to go out another way."
"I was thinking we could put the bed over there. And if we get a storage unit of some sort, perhaps an antique then the closet will be big enough." He said, thinking aloud, eyeing the room some more. She was looking at him oddly. "What?"
"You still want to share a room... a bed with me?" she asked, almost but not quite surprised.
"Oh... that was quite presumptuous and out of line. Buffy, I apologize... I assumed when I shouldn't have. Of course we will get our own space... I don't even have to live here..." he was blushing and falling back on his old habit of stuttering.
"Giles! Whoa, chill. Of course you'll live here and it will be in this room, in OUR bed and I will have it no other way. I, also assuming, figured you'd want your own space." she admitted. He visibly relaxed.
"Good... good." He touched her shoulder briefly and went into to the adjoining bathroom to continue the inspection.
"But... Giles? We're going to have to talk about this pretty soon. I mean, we have our little dream conversations every once in a while but we have never- I like waking up with you." she said, following him into the bathroom. He stood at the sink and looked at her reflection behind his in the mirror.
"Can't we... I don't know what you want." He sighed and turned around.
"I know what I don't want." she said shrugging. "I don't want you to go back to England. I don't want you to have your own space or to stop doing what you have been doing."
"Do you want more?" he asked.
"Hey, guys? Are you ready?" Xander's voice called up the stairs and Buffy answered.
"Yeah. I'm ready." she called. She looked at Giles. He smiled.