Saying It
by Gyrus

It was times like this when Giles most missed his manual transmission.

He and Buffy had been on the road for almost half an hour, driving eastward towards the desert. Conversation between them had been sporadic. Giles understood; Buffy had a great deal on her mind. Not the least of which was the question she had been grappling with, in one way or another, for as long as Giles had known her. Could she be both a Slayer and a human being?

It was a terrible question to have to ask, Giles thought. That Buffy might have to sacrifice her own humanity to protect the rest of the human race seemed an inconceivably cruel irony. Snuffing out the spark of her wit, her warmth, and her individuality might be necessary in order to make her a better weapon against evil, but Giles knew he could not bear to escort Buffy down such a path. Whatever the consequences, he would not assist in the gradual destruction of a soul he had grown to-

He stopped himself and glanced at her furtively. She was looking elsewhere and didn't notice.

What is wrong with me, Giles wondered. Why can I barely even think the word? Why, instead, do I sit here wishing I had a gearshift and a clutch pedal to keep my mind occupied?

The answer is all too obvious. I wish for distraction because I am a coward.

She said them to me. Those all-important words. And I didn't say them in return.

Why do I deny, even in my own mind, what Travers once stated as if it were obvious -- that I feel as if she were my daughter? She makes me happy and angry and frustrated and so very proud. And part of that pride comes from the fact that I helped to make her what she is. I cannot imagine that a real father's feelings are any different.

So why can't I say it?

Is it the vestiges of my professionalism as a Watcher? Do I still cling to the notion that I must not have feelings for her, that I must remain detached and objective?

Nonsense. I let go of all that years ago.

Perhaps I've forgotten how to express it. It's been a long time. Olivia and I never said it, and we would have been liars if we had. At least in a romantic sense. She is a good friend, and being with her reminds me of old times, makes me feel young again. But that's all.

The last person I spoke that word to was Jenny. And she died.

Is that the problem, then? My fear of Buffy's death? That she'll be taken from me if I dare to tell her how I feel?

If that's what it is, it's absurd. Fate is merely indifferent, not deliberately cruel. Buffy's life does not hang on whether or not I tell her I...


Perhaps I just don't know how a man expresses such things. My father never said it, and thus I have no model to follow.

But it's just a word. I don't need a bloody model to say a word!

Giles had to stop himself from slamming his hand against the steering wheel.

He glanced at her again. She saw it this time, and turned her head to look at him.

"Buffy..." he started.


I love you.

"Ah, could you have another look at the map? I don't want to miss our exit."

"Sure." Her hands fumbled in the glove box.

He cursed himself inwardly. Then, deliberately, he pressed his left foot down on the non-existent clutch pedal and shifted the car into Neutral. The engine roared in protest for a moment, then quieted as Giles shifted the car back into Drive.

"Are you OK?" Buffy asked. "You haven't done that in, like, six months."

"Oh, no," Giles said, "I'm fine. I just forgot myself for a moment."

If only I could.