TITLE: A Sin and a Song

AUTHOR: Whoser88


SPOILERS: Up to S5, Riley has left, Glory's not really an issue right now (aka Dawn's not in the fic)

SUMMARY: What starts out as a game turns out to mean so much more for Buffy and Giles.

DISCLAIMER: The characters are the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, Sandollar Productions, Kuzui Enterprises, 20th Century Fox Television, the WB Television Network, and whoever else may have a hold on them. I do not mean to infringe upon any copyrights. The song "Change the World" is by the incredible Eric Clapton.

NOTE: I'm really sorry to everyone who is reading my WiP, "A Sense of Self Preservation." RL has been especially hectic this year, and the delays between parts are just unfair to you all. I promise I will finish it before the year is out, and hopefully before summer is finished. Thank you for reading and not giving up on the story. Also, this is only my second song fic, so warnings of sugary sweetness.

Dedication: To John A. Garraty, who made my weekends a living hell with his textbook, and kept me from writing. And to the readers who ask me for the next part of ASoSp, which keeps me going and motivates me to write more. You guys rock!

It was a beautiful Thursday afternoon in Sunnydale. The birds chirped enthusiastically, the grass never looked greener, and everyone seemed happy to just amble along to their destinations.

The Magic Box was quiet on this beautiful Thursday, devoid of customers and the harsh ring of bell that accompanied their entrance and exit. Yes, on this beautiful, wonderful Thursday afternoon, everything was at peace.

"I'm bored," said Xander, plunking his head down dramatically on the table. Anya moved from her position behind the counter and came over to her boyfriend at the tarot table, rubbing his head in an unknowingly condescending manner.

"Yes, it is really unfortunate that we don't have any customers today. Perhaps if we ACTUALLY ADVERTISED," she emphasized towards Giles, who leaned against the counter with his customary cup of tea. He sighed, determined to ignore her.

"He's right, y'know? I'm bored too. Any ideas?" Buffy asked, her eyes not moving from staring at the ceiling, her body limp on the chair.

"Oo! Oo! I've got an idea!" cried Willow, practically leaping from her seat in between Tara and Xander.

"If it involves caffeine Willow, I think you'll have to sit this one out."

"Gee, thanks Xander. Gosh, can't a girl be exuberant these days?"

"Nope," replied Xander.

"That was a rhetorical question."

"Wills - your idea?" Buffy asked, exasperated.

"Yeah! How about 'Anywhere But Here?'"

They sat in contemplation for a moment before Buffy responded.

"Good idea Will, but I'd like to make a slight edit. Since 'Anywhere' usually involves public figures that might make you couples jealous, I'm putting this forward: If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be? And don't give me the 'end world hunger, have a bajillion dollars junk.' You have to be creative. How's that sound?" The group nodded in agreement, " Okay, so who's going first?"

Shyly, Tara raised her hand. "I'll go. If I could change the world, I'd make sure there were no shellfish, especially shrimp." She blushed at their questioning states. "I'm allergic."

"Oh, I know what I'd do," announced Anya.

"Get rid of all the bunnies?" asked Buffy, dryly.

"Yes. But first I'd take them all to a prison, and make them look at all the people they've hurt, then slowly pick them off, one by one --"

"--and I think that's enough of that dream for now, An, honey," Xander interrupted, soothing his near-rabid girlfriend. "Me? I'd make the superhero world real. Like, have the West Coast Avengers around to save the day instead of us."

"There were Avengers for the west coast?" Buffy asked, incredulous.

"Oh sure, in the '80s they decided to start a branch…" Willow reached over and clamped a hand over her best friend's mouth.

"Don't get him started. How about I go now?" At their grateful nods, she continued, "Hmmm. Well, I'd probably go for better courses at Sunnydale U. I mean, c'mon, the stuff they offer sophomores is just, so, not intellectually stimulating!" She stopped, seeing the group's blank stares.

"And you stopped Xander?"

"Yeah, Will - that has to be one of the nerdiest things I have ever heard."

"Well - what's wrong with being interested in education! I, I like to learn!"

"Sweetie, it's fine…" Tara rubbed Willow's back.

"Buff, please tell me you have something more interesting than Miss Mensa over here.

Buffy sat in thought, her minding turning over what she really wanted to change. The obvious answers would be to have never been called, or to get Riley back. But the more she thought about it, the more she realized that she would never have met her friends if she wasn't the Slayer, and more time that passed since when Riley left, the less significant he became to her life. She could live without Riley, but a life without Xander or Willow or Giles seemed impossible. She looked up and caught Giles' eye at this thought, and he smiled back, then ducked his head and pretended to be busy with the books.

"Earth to Buffy - anybody in there? I mean, I hope you're answer's damn creative for all the effort you're putting into it."

"Hey, cut me a little slack - I came up with the idea! Hmmm, creative. How about I'd make a world where demons had seasons, like in the summer they all went into hibernation or something, so we could get a vacation for a couple weeks. Hey Giles, any chance Glory might decide to spend a week in Maui and let us rest for a while?"

"I bet she's packing right now." Giles replied.

"I was joking, sarcasm man."

"A thousand apologies." Buffy shot him a glare, but he could see the laughter she was suppressing, and he simply grinned in response.

"Okay, Mr. Smarty-pants, what's your answer then?"

"If I could change the world…" Giles began, but was cut short by a shriek from Willow.

"Buffy! Oh no, we're gonna be late to class!" She and Tara jumped up, as Buffy looked at her watch in panic.

"Damn it! This is the third time this week! Sorry Giles - European history calls - I'll check in with you after patrol tonight. See ya Xand, Anya!" The trio shot out of the store, frantically running down Main Street in a mad rush for UC Sunnydale's campus.

"Yet another reason I'm glad I didn't continue down the academic highway. Need any help stocking shelves?" Xander asked the remaining two, standing up to assist his girlfriend and her boss as business as usual resumed at the Magic Box.

Later that evening, Buffy strode confidently through downtown Sunnydale, prepared for a mocha with Willow before a nice, relaxing patrol. The last few nights had been fairly quiet on the Hellmouth, with little sign of hellgods and only a couple pesky vamps to muss her hair up.

Buffy scanned the Espresso Pump for her friend, but Willow had yet arrive. Sliding into a booth, she leaned back and ordered two mochas, one decaf, as Willow didn't need anymore energy. The faint sounds of a guitar being tuned skirted the edge of her hearing, and gristle of microphone suddenly appeared. Apparently there would be entertainment tonight. She turned and saw Emma, the Pump's manager, step up to the mike.

"Tonight we have a special guest performing for us. Most of the regulars should remember him from last year, but he's been so busy lately that it's quite an honor to hear him again. Everyone put your hands together for Rupert Giles!" The crowd erupted in claps and whoops, as Giles seated himself on a stool and Buffy's jaw dropped. Willow had told her once that Giles occasionally performed at the Pump, but she didn't realize that he was this popular. Willow had also made mutterings of how sexy his voice was, and Buffy wasn't afraid to stick around and find out. She had a perfect vantage point, a corner booth that gave her full view of her Watcher, yet kept her hidden from his sight.

Something made her wish that Willow would ditch her just this once. It was the same kind of something that had been plaguing Buffy since Riley left, a tingling feeling that occurred whenever Giles was around, the kind of feeling that made her notice how a shirt complemented his eyes, or how she liked the way he wore his hair now, a little longer. Suddenly spending more time with Giles was a priority, training was fun, well, more fun, and all her talk of "ewww" about him was furthest from her mind. If Buffy let herself believe it, she might almost saying she was falling for Giles.

"Stupid brain," she muttered to herself, "let's keep those thoughts quiet, all right? I'm trying to focus on the singing guy." Shaking her head slightly, she looked up to watch her Watcher.

"Ahem. Uh, as Emma said, it's been a little while since I've performed, so please excuse me if I'm a bit rusty. Things have been a bit hectic of late, so I suppose this is some sort of therapy for me. I hope you all enjoy it too. I'm just going to play a few numbers, then I'll be off. Thanks for listening."

As Giles began to sing, Buffy lost herself in the sound, the melody of his voice lulling her into a half-sleep. Willow had not lied, and Buffy was sorry that she hadn't been around as much last year to hear his voice. The emotion rang clear through the notes, and Buffy could tell from his body language how much singing meant to him. She would have to ask him to sing for her again, that was sure.

The songs continued, and Buffy barely noticed the fact that her wish had come true, and Willow was nowhere to be found. As the set drew to a close, Giles paused for a second, and Buffy snapped out of her haze, aware that something was up.

"Um, originally I was going to end with that last song, but a conversation I had today made me think of a more fitting end to the set. The song's dedicated to a friend of mine, in answer to a question she posed earlier. It seems Eric Clapton had this moment in mind when he sang it." Buffy was unsure of Giles' reference to this mysterious question, but the opening chords of the song sounded familiar, and the lyrics revealed all.

If I can reach the stars,

Pull one down for you,

Shine it on my heart

So you could see the truth:

That this love I have inside

Is everything it seems.

But for now I find

It's only in my dreams.

If I can change the world,

I would be the sunlight in your universe.

You would think my love was really something good,

Baby if I could change the world.

And if I could be king,

Even for a day,

I'd take you as my queen;

I'd have it no other way.

And our love would rule

This kingdom we had made.

Till then I'd be a fool,

Wishing for the day...

That I can change the world,

I would be the sunlight in your universe.

You would think my love was really something good,

Baby if I could change the world.

Baby if I could change the world.

I could change the world,

I would be the sunlight in your universe.

You would think my love was really something good,

Baby if I could change the world.

Baby if I could change the world.

Baby if I could change the world.

In an instant, it clicked. The words filtered through, the sorrow in Giles' eyes combined with the love he had tucked away found their way to Buffy's heart. He loved her - she was sure that the song was for her. The idea shocked her, and for a moment, Buffy couldn't breath. Then she saw Giles heading for the door, his set through and his job done. She shot up, dropping money to pay for her and Willow's untouched mochas, and sprinted for the exit, outside into the cool night air.

Giles turned at the sound of rapid footsteps, his body tensing for a fight. He relaxed as he saw Buffy, then tensed again as she ran straight into him, nearly knocking him to the ground.

"Buffy! Are you all right? Did something happen?" She looked up at him, and Giles gasped at the raw emotion in her eyes.

"Was that song for me?"

"What? You heard…"

"That song, the last one, about changing the world? Was I the friend? Was that answer for me?"

Giles stepped away from her, reaching into his pocket for the handkerchief to clean his glasses with. "Well, em, y-you see, th-the song..." he trailed off, a look of desperation crossing his face. Buffy gently took his hands, and Giles looked into her face once more.

"Because if it was, then I wouldn't be so mad about it. I'd probably be pretty happy, you know, if it was for me."

"A-are you saying…"

"That I definitely need to change my answer from hibernating demons?"

Giles chuckled, and stepped closer to her. "But are you sure, I mean, this is all rather sudden…"

"Just because I'm only telling you now doesn't mean I haven't been thinking about it. I'm pretty sure I'm in love with you, Mr. Giles, and if I could change the world, I'd have us together."

"Well, Miss Summers, let me see if I can do something about that." Leaning down, he captured her lips, and made a mental note to send Eric Clapton a thank-you in the morning.