"It's not that we don't care,
We just know that the fight ain't fair.
So we keep on waiting,
Waiting on the world to change…"
For a long time, the other members of the Scooby household just stared at Dawn like she was absolutely, unconditionally insane. The information she had just thrust upon them was simply too much to comprehend, especially when the end of the world had only been avoided two weeks ago. After a few minutes of blank stares, the younger Summers sister made an impatient noise and crossed her arms defensively across her chest. "Come on! It's not that weird."
That seemed to snap Xander and Willow out of their dazes. The young man mouthed silently until he finally managed to articulate his intense shock. "You're…you're dating Andrew."
"Long distance," Willow reminded him weakly. They both looked shell-shocked.
Dawn sighed heavily. "Yes! Now would you two get over it already?"
"No," Xander replied instantly. "No. I will not ever get over this. Not even when you two get married and have nerdy genius babies and start calling me Uncle Xander. This will never be OK and holy crap that was the most disturbing mental image ever!" He put his face in his hands and moaned weakly. Willow patted him on the back reassuringly.
"It really was," Buffy agreed, looking rather ill. She pegged her sister with a stern glare.
Before the Slayer could start off on a rant, Dawn cut her off. "He promises that he'll never hurt me, that he can't dump me but I can dump him at any time, that he has to send me daily reports on everything he does and that when he comes out this summer he'll take me on a real date." She smiled dreamily, and the expression was so sincere it almost hurt to look at. "Besides, didn't you say I could do way worse than a guy who likes me and wants what's best for me?"
Buffy actually smiled at that. She was also dangerously close to tearing up as she stood and wrapped Dawn in a firm embrace. "Yeah," she agreed at last. "Yeah, you could do a lot worse." She pulled back and gave her a glare. "But you are so busted for not telling me about this beforehand. What happened to the Summers date-tell-all pact?"
"There's no date to talk about yet," Dawn reminded her. The teen looked over her sister's shoulder to Giles. "And he said to tell you thanks." The others traded confused glances as the Watcher and the teenager shared a moment of understanding. Then Dawn broke the moment with a happy squeal and dashed out of the room. "I have a boyfriend!"
"Who you are not going to call long-distance!" Buffy shouted after her. It was too late. Upstairs they could hear Dawn's door slam.
Xander rose hastily from the couch and hurried after her. "I'm going to…" he reached for an excuse, only to give up immediately. "…Eavesdrop shamelessly on her conversation. Care to join me?"
Willow was already on his heels. "If you distract her I can pick up the other phone without her noticing." The two friends left the room.
Buffy watched after them a moment before turning to Giles, who had remained remarkably silent throughout the entire ordeal. He sat quietly on the couch, looking off into the distance. He hadn't moved once in the last fifteen minutes. "You already knew, didn't you," she realized with a sigh. She sat heavily on the couch next to him.
His green gaze drifted over to her and he smiled. "Andrew called me last week to ask my permission. Something along the lines of, 'I have no idea where her real Dad is, and since you're less scary than Buffy and this is kind of a man thing, I thought I should ask you.'"
Buffy shook her head in amusement. "They're going to be a really cute couple, aren't they."
"Almost unbearably so," he agreed with mock disappointment. They shared a grin before he said honestly, "It's high time that someone in this house had a successful romantic relationship. And she could do far worse. Andrew is a good boy, rapidly growing into an equally fine man. They'll take good care of each other."
His Slayer raised an impressed eyebrow. "Wow. I would have killed to get that endorsement for one of my dates back in high school."
Giles' lips twitched into a smile despite his best efforts to remain serious as he said, "If you had dated someone like Andrew when you were Dawn's age, I would have questioned your sanity. I'm relatively sure that understanding every other word a man says is important in your relationships."
Buffy looked him over critically for a moment. When she answered, her tone was more serious than the situation warranted. "It never stopped me from being around you…"
His eyes came up to meet hers in surprise. For a long moment the two of them sat frozen, locked in a gaze that did nothing to diffuse the tension suddenly zinging through the room. Giles cleared his throat rather nervously and leaned back a little, lessening their physical proximity, if not their sudden emotional closeness. "Yes, well." He whipped off his glasses and polished them furiously. "We have never had what could be called a conventional relationship. Or even one that could be defined at all, really."
"Not by anyone else, anyway."
At her comment he looked up again, eyes unhindered by his glasses this time. "Oh?"
Buffy reached out and put her hand over both of his, encasing his fingers and his glasses in her grasp. "Watcher," she said simply. "Slayer." She smiled widely at him and scooted closer to rest her head against his shoulder, leaving her hand where it was. "It makes perfect sense to me."
His arm reached across her shoulders seemingly of its own volition. Giles felt her weight settle against him and smothered a smile even though he knew she couldn't see it. "I'm afraid that explanation will seem very odd the rest of the world, which might question what exactly a middle-aged man is doing living in a household full of young people."
"It'll catch up eventually," Buffy said with a confidence in her voice that made Giles wonder what she knew that he didn't.
"And if it doesn't?" He murmured into her golden hair.
She snuggled deeper into his side and draped an arm across his stomach. "Screw it. The world owes us one anyway."
"At least," he agreed with a silent laugh. Sitting here, with Buffy safely in his arms and the rest of his makeshift family happy and finally at rest, Giles could almost understand what happily ever after felt like.
Giles dropped a kiss onto Buffy's crown and rested his cheek against her head. "You really are quite something," he told her with warm affection in his voice.
Her tone was equally affectionate. "Likewise, Watcher-mine."
For a long moment, he was torn between what he wanted to say and what was expected of him. For the first time in a long time, what he wanted to do won. "Yes," he whispered. "Yours."
The word hung there, a simple statement of fact amidst the golden sunshine of England in early fall, and it looked so right there that neither of them tried to recall it or sweep it away. They let it stay, marking a new chapter in their history.
They'd never been accused of waiting around for the world to catch up to them anyway. It seemed a shame to start now.
The Very Last (for real this time!) Author's Note: I know, I know, I said I was done. But I wrote a B/G bonus epilogue for my author's commentary and it seemed a shame not to post it. The lyrics belong to John Mayer.
The first installment of my author's commentary is officially ready for sending! I say "first installment" because it turned out to be so absolutely, ridiculously long that I'm packaging it in easier-to-read six-chapter increments. If you'd like me to email it to you, just say the word (or wait for me to do it if you've already mentioned it in a review). A new Buffy story not quite as long as this one will start posting in late June. A sneak preview of the first chapter is included with the commentary!