Title: One Step Away 2 - Once Upon A Time
Author's Name: Laura Sichrovsky
Fandom: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Warnings: None that I can think of.
Season: Takes place in mid season four.
Summary: A sequel to One Step Away. Everyone wanted to see what happens when Buffy and Giles tell their friends and family
about their relationship. Here is that plus a bonus look at how Giles knew he loved Buffy.
Spoilers: Well, there are quite a few references and details from season three. From about Helpless on.
Disclaimer: This is where I put the statement saying that I do not own Buffy, Giles (Heh! I wish!), Sunnydale, or anything relating
to the show. No one is paying me to do this and if you feel the sudden urge to send me gifts, you might want to talk
to someone about that. Joss Whedon owns all things Buffy and has not given me permission to use these characters
as I have so if you have problems with the story, please send the pretzel bombs to me, not him.
Author's Notes: So many people wrote and asked for a sequel to One Step Away, that the idea got stuck in my head. People wanted to see what happened when Buffy and Giles told their friends. I thought that was a cute idea, but another one also snuck in. Buffy/Giles stories always seem to be set up like a math equation. (Giles loves Buffy the given. Add Buffy romantic situation true love.) A nice equation, but I have to question the constant. All the stories seem to start out with Giles secretly being in love with Buffy. But how do we get to that point? So, the Giles in my head got together with the plot bunnies to show us exactly what a Watcher has to go through before he'll admit to what he feels for his Slayer. Thanks need to be given, and here is
where they go. Thanks to Joss for creating characters so fun to watch and to borrow for a bit. Thanks to Tony
Head for making Giles so amazing. I tried to fight it, but he was just too remarkable not to fall for. Big thank yous to my sister, Kristen the Beta Goddess. She takes my ramblings and puts them in some
readable order. I could never write without her help and I would never want to try. Love ya! To Janet, who
helped with the details, to Sweetdoggie, who called me on my mistakes, and to Hobgoblinn, who made me stay
true to Rupert while setting the bar so high, thank you, thank you, and…oh yeah, THANK YOU! Thanks to my
amazing husband who not only doesn't get upset when my writing takes over, but who doesn't freak about the
men who live in my head. I love him so.
Once Upon A Time
Sunlight streamed through the windows of Giles's flat, making patterns of shadow and light on the walls. Buffy sat on the couch, her arms around Giles; she was kissing him deeply. Giles ran his hands over her back, pulling her closer to him. After a moment, the two broke the kiss. Buffy leaned her forehead against his.
"Feeling calmer, love?" Giles asked with a smile.
"I am feeling a little better," Buffy leaned in, nuzzling his neck. "But I think I might need more distracting."
"Indeed?" Giles had tilted his head back to give her better access to his throat. He now sat with his eyes closed, a half smile on his lips. "Perhaps I could assist you?"
Buffy leaned away from his neck and smiled up at him. With no further encouragement from her, Giles leaned down and captured her lips in another kiss. Unlike the lazy, comfortable kiss from earlier, this one crackled with intensity. His lips massaged hers, teasing, coaxing, tracing along hers, and eliciting a moan. As her mouth opened for him, his tongue eagerly sought out hers. His hands, roaming across her back, made their way to her hips. He began to gently massage them, his thumbs making erotically slow circles across her hip bones. He broke the kiss to move his mouth to her throat, his tongue flicking out to taste her skin, causing her to gasp. Giles stopped his assault on her neck and pulled back to look at her.
"Huh?" Buffy was blinking. "Did you say something? I don't think my brain is fully functional right now."
Giles chuckled and kissed her on the forehead as he stood from the couch.
"You're leaving?" Buffy looked up at him with wide eyes and a pout on her lips. "You kiss me like that and then you just leave?"
"I could pin you to the wall and ravish you until you are screaming my name, but as our friends and your mother will be here in a few minutes, that might be inappropriate. Moreover, if I do that to you, who will make the tea?"
He had crossed the room to the kitchen and was now rummaging around in the cupboards. Buffy sighed and stood to join him. He was right of course, but that didn't mean she had to like it. She stood in the doorway to the kitchen, leaning against the wall watching him as he put together a tea tray. He looked up at her and smiled.
"You'll be fine, love. Why are you so worried?"
"Why aren't you? We've been together for a month and we're finally telling everyone. This is a big step for us as a couple. We're going public."
"And why should that make me nervous?" Giles pulled his tea kettle out of a lower cupboard. As he turned to fill it with water, it slipped from his fingers, falling into the sink with a clatter. Buffy smiled at him with an arched eyebrow.
"Well," he shrugged at her with a sheepish smile. "I might be a little anxious about how your mother will take the news."
Buffy laughed, crossing the kitchen to hug him tightly. Giles looked at her, leaning down to kiss her, his lips caressing hers. The sound of the front door opening caused them to jump apart as if they'd been burned. Buffy smiled at Giles, rolling her eyes.
"Giles?" The voice was Xander's.
"I'm making tea," Giles called out. He sighed, returning Buffy's smile.
After Giles put the kettle on the stove, he and Buffy moved to the living room, where Xander and Anya had settled on the couch.
"Hey G-man," Xander said with a smile. "How are you?"
"I'd be better if you would stop calling me that."
Xander ignored Giles's complaint.
"And the Buffster. Big day. We finally get to meet your mystery guy. Is he here yet?"
Buffy's eye widened and she opened her mouth to say something, anything, but she had no words. Just then the front door opened again and Willow walked in.
"Willow!" Buffy bounded across the room to hug her friend, grateful for the distraction. "It's so great to see you! Come sit down."
Willow greeted everyone and was just settling into a seat when there was a knock at the door. Giles opened the door to let Buffy's mother in. Joyce hugged Buffy, and found a seat on the couch next to Willow.
"Okay honey," Joyce said to Buffy. "We're all here now. When do we get to meet your boyfriend?"
"Is he here yet?" Willow asked, looking around the flat.
"Well, yes, yes he is." Buffy twisted the locket at he throat between her fingers.
"Where is he?" Leave it to Willow not to let a subject go. "Oh! Is he up in Giles's loft?"
"No, Wil, he's…"
"Is Giles hiding him in the kitchen?" Willow must have been slightly nervous. She was rambling again. "Did Giles get to meet him yet, because that's not really fair, since we haven't…"
"Willow, focus!" Buffy snapped her fingers to get Willow's attention. "He's not hiding in Giles's house. He's, well, he's…"
"What's the matter, Honey?" Joyce reached out and took Buffy's hand. "Is something wrong? You can tell us."
"It's not another vampire, is it?" Xander asked, his brow furrowed.
"Of course not," Buffy sounded indignant. "It's just, well, I don't want you guys to freak about him."
"Sweetheart, you know that if you love him, we will." Joyce squeezed her daughter's hand. "When do we get to meet him?"
Buffy freed her hand from her mother's and smiled.
"Now?" She crossed the room to where Giles stood, and wrapped her arms around his waist. He froze for a moment and she could feel his whole body stiffen. He relaxed and brought his arms up around her. "Everyone, I'd like you to meet my boyfriend, Rupert."
There was dead silence. Everyone just stared at the two of them, saying nothing. Joyce's eyes had gone wide, Willow's mouth hung open, and Xander's eyes narrowed. Abruptly, there was a loud whistle from the kitchen. Giles shrugged and went to go take the water off the stove. Suddenly everyone was talking at once and none of them sounded happy. Buffy stood to the side watching them, not able to pick out any one comment from the din.
After a few minutes, Giles came back into the room carrying the tea tray that held cookies, tea bags, cups, and a tea pot. Only Giles would think that tea could fix any problem. Giles set the tray on the coffee table, and sat in the chair across from the couch. Buffy crossed the room and sat on his lap. His eye went wide as he looked up at her with a startled expression. She smiled down at him and he brought his arms around her. The two suddenly realized that everyone had stopped talking and was watching them.
"Let me see if I get this," Xander began. "You and Giles?"
"Yep. Me and Giles."
"So Buffy is Giles's new orgasm friend?" Anya asked, oblivious when everyone turned to stare at her.
"Anya!" Buffy tried not to be outraged. Anya really didn't know any better. "It's not like that. We aren't just…we don't just…We love each other."
"Excuse me," Joyce interrupted, an edge to her voice. "You love each other? Buffy, you are too young to love anyone. And you are far too young to be with…him."
"Here we go," Buffy sighed, looking down at Giles. "When you were just Giles, she was so happy you were there to keep me safe. Now she can't even use your name."
"Buffy, love," Giles hugged her reassuringly. "This is a lot for your mother to take in. You should -"
"I don't need you to defend me from my own daughter," Joyce snapped. "How could you do this? I trusted you."
"Joyce, I assure you that I didn't do anything. Buffy and I care deeply for each other. And Buffy is an adult."
"No, you are an adult. She is your responsibility, as good as your child."
"No Joyce. She is your child, not mine. She never was. She is a beautiful, capable woman and you should be able to see that."
"I think we all need to take a minute here," Willow interjected calmly. "I understand that this is a shock for all of us, but are you all getting upset because Buffy and Giles are a couple, or are you getting upset because it's not what you want to hear?"
"Willow," Joyce began. "You don't understand."
"Oh, I think I do. When you pictured Buffy's new boyfriend, you saw someone her age, some sweet college boy. I think we all did. Okay, so Giles isn't a college boy."
"Giles isn't a boy at all," Joyce snapped at her.
"No, I don't think he is." Willow's voice was tranquil. "A boy would be like that guy Buffy dated, Parker. He was a boy. And he got her into bed, then dumped her. Is that more what you had in mind?"
"Of course not," Joyce huffed at Willow. "But she doesn't need to date someone her father's age to avoid that."
"Is that what you think this is?" Buffy asked. "You think I'm dating Giles to avoid boys my own age?"
"Why else would you date someone so old."
"I already told you why. I love him."
"You don't know what love is."
"I think you're selling Buffy short," Willow said, reaching over to the tea tray for a cookie. "Buffy is my best friend. I talk to her all the time and I think she really does understand what love is. Just because what she has isn't what you think it should be, doesn't make it wrong. Buffy? You say you love Giles. What does that mean to you?"
"Gesh Wil, go right for the big money questions." Buffy smiled at her red-headed friend. "It means I care about him, that I want to keep him safe and make him happy. It means that I enjoy every second I'm with him and I never want to be away from him. I want to take care of him and I let him take care of me. No one has ever treated me better. He gives up everything for me and I want to give everything back to him. I want to be better when I'm with him. Am I even making sense?"
"I think so," Willow smiled. "He loves you for who you are? He lets you be Buffy instead of the Slayer?"
"Exactly. And I love him for Giles, not because he's my Watcher. He's the most caring man I've ever met. He makes me stronger, he makes me better."
"And Giles?" Willow had somehow appointed herself official mediator. "How do you feel about Buffy?"
"She's everything to me." His heart was in his voice. "I want only the best for her and I would give up everything to give it to her. I'll never hurt her and I'll die before I let anything else harm her. I never expected that she could return my love. That was a gift and I'm trying every day to be worthy of her."
Joyce had been watching the two while they talked, her brow furrowing at what they were saying, but more importantly at what they weren't. The way their eyes glowed when they spoke about each other, the little looks they shared, the small touches. She wanted to damn them for this, to be angry, but looking at Buffy, she could see that Buffy was truly happy; and wasn't that really what mattered? Now she just sat, looking at them.
"Mom?" Buffy's voice was tentative.
"Yes, dear?" The anger was gone from her voice.
"Are you…I mean, will you…"
"Are you happy?"
"Then I guess I am too."
Buffy jumped off of Giles's lap and bounded across the room to hug her mother.
"You have no idea how much I wanted you to accept this," Buffy said.
"Would it have mattered if I didn't?"
"Not really. You just wouldn't be seeing me much. I won't choose between two people I love so much and I shouldn't have to."
"No, I guess you shouldn't. Just give me some time to get used to this?"
"Of course. Ten minutes work for you?"
Joyce laughed and hugged her daughter. She looked over at Giles.
"Are you sure you want this?"
"I'd give my life for it."
"Awww," Willow grinned from her place on the couch. "That is just so sweet."
"And you're good with this Wil?" Buffy asked.
"I was good with it from that day in our dorm room when you asked me if you could love an older guy. If you're happy, go for it."
"Xander?" Buffy looked over at the boy. "You've been totally quiet. You okay?"
"Giles, huh? Well, as long as I don't get details, I think I can live with it." He smiled at Buffy in a way that told her that he was actually happy for her. "I mean, who I am to diss your choice? My girlfriend is eleven hundred years old."
Anya lightly punched Xander as Buffy got up from the couch and climbed back on Giles's lap.
"You know Giles, you were right. There really wasn't any reason to panic."
Giles laughed and hugged her to him. Everyone was relaxed now, helping themselves to tea and cookies.
"I do have to ask though," Joyce said, stirring sugar into her tea. "You two have known each other for years, you've trained together, fought together. What made you finally realize that you had these feelings for each other?"
"About a month ago, I was sleeping over here because I was injured," Buffy supplied. "I think Giles might have been half asleep or something because I woke up from a nightmare and while he was holding me to comfort me, he told me he loved me. Kind of freaked me. But it made me think and I realized that he was everything I'd always wanted."
"Giles?" Willow asked, dipping a cookie in her tea. "What about you?"
"What about me what?"
"When did you realize that you loved Buffy?"
"Hey," Buffy looked down at Giles. "That's a good question. You never have told me when you knew."
"Well, I…I…do we have to discuss this?"
"Giles?" Xander arched an eyebrow at the Watcher. "Are you hiding something?"
"Of course not. I just don't want to share this story with everybody."
"Why not?" Buffy was pouting at him.
"Buffy, please don't do that."
"I think it's story time, Giles." Willow was grinning at him.
"There's no way I can get out of this?"
"Nope." Buffy's pout was if anything, deeper.
"This is against my better judgment, you know."
"So when did you know you loved Buffy?" Willow asked.
"Know or suspect?"
"This could be interesting," Joyce said with a smile. "Let's hear the whole story. Start with suspected."
"Me and my big mouth," Giles groused. "Do we really need to do this? It's quite a long and boring story. Surely we can find something more interesting to do, such as alphabetizing my demonology books?"
"Please, Giles?" Buffy snuggled against him.
"You're not playing fair. You know I can't resist you."
"Oh, bloody…fine." Giles made a face, settling further into the chair, snuggling Buffy close. "To put this into perspective, you have to start further back, on Buffy's eighteenth birthday."
Giles stood in the library, leaning against the door jam to his office and looking over at the table where Buffy sat. She was glaring at Quentin Travers. Giles felt terrible. He had known all along that the test was wrong; a barbaric throwback to a lesser age. And yet, he'd let himself be coerced into committing this atrocity on his Slayer. If by some miracle she forgave him, he knew he could never forgive himself.
"Congratulations. You passed," Travers was speaking to Buffy. "You exhibited extraordinary courage and clear headedness in battle. The Council is very pleased."
"Do I get a gold star?" Buffy's voice was low and calm, but Giles knew the anger that was behind the comment.
"I understand that you're upset."
"You understand nothing." Now her voice was starting to sound outraged. "You set that monster loose and he came after my mother."
"You think the test was unfair."
"I think you'd better leave town before I get my strength back."
Giles was proud of her for standing up to Travers; for pointing out to him how absurd this whole experience had been.
"We aren't in the business of fair, Ms. Summers." The man was so pompous and arrogant. He had the gall to lecture the Slayer about fighting evil. "We are fighting a war."
"You're waging a war; she's fighting it." Giles couldn't stop himself from interjecting. "There is a difference."
"Mr. Giles, if you don't mind."
"The test is done. Are we finished?" Giles couldn't keep the impatience out of his voice. Buffy was hurting and upset. It was time to send Travers on his way and get to the business of making everything up to her.
"Not quite," Travers's voice was cold. "She passed. You didn't. The Slayer isn't the only one who has to perform in this situation. I've recommended to the Council, and they've agreed, that you be relieved of your duties as Watcher immediately. You're fired."
Giles felt as if someone had struck him across the face. His mind went blank and his breath caught in his chest. He couldn't have heard right. The Council was removing him; sending him away from his Slayer? After a moment, he found his voice.
"On what grounds?"
"Your affection for your charge has rendered you incapable of clear and impartial judgment. You have a father's love for the child. That is useless to the cause. It would be better if you had no further contact with the Slayer."
"I'm not going anywhere." Giles was outraged. How dare they try to separate him from Buffy.
"No, well, I didn't expect that you would adhere to that. However, if you interfere with the new Watcher or countermand his authority in any way, you will be dealt with. Are we clear?"
"Oh, we're very clear." Giles felt some small measure of relief in knowing that he wouldn't be forced to leave, yet his heart was still heavy, knowing he had not only failed Buffy, but himself as well.
"Congratulations again." Travers turned back to Buffy.
"Yes, well. Colorful girl." With that, Travers walked out of the library.
Giles turned his attention to Buffy. She needed him. She was sitting, curled up on a chair. Her hands were shaking and she seemed to be fighting tears. He did the only thing he could think of. He went to her, taking the wet, cold cloth from her hands and gently dabbing her cut for her. He would work every day of his life to make this up to her, to earn back her trust.
He loved her as a daughter and he would be long in forgiving himself for the pain he had caused her.
"Just a minute, Giles." Buffy interrupted his story, pulling him back to the present, back to his flat where everyone was looking at him. "Are you telling me that you loved me then? Because if you are, this is sounding a little too much like a bad Greek play."
"Well, as a daughter, yes. At least I thought I did. I was so proud of you and so ashamed at how I treated you. I look back now and I can see that what I felt was deeper than it should have been for your just being my Slayer. But at the time I had nothing to compare it to. I'd never been a father. How was I supposed to know that it was more?"
"Well," Xander said with a smile. "Your first clue should have been the thoughts about kissing her. You don't kiss a daughter, at least not like that."
"That's the thing. At the time, I wasn't thinking about kissing her. Or holding her or anything else along those lines. That came later. At this point, there was just love for her that I thought was parental."
"So when did the kissing thoughts come in?" Willow asked.
"I'm getting to it," Giles smiled at them. "It's my story and I'm going to tell it right."
"Okay," Buffy said, her hand playing with the hair at the nape of his neck. "So, you cared about me. What then?"
"That was when it started to get complicated." His hand strayed to her thigh, his thumb unconsciously tracing gentle circles across her skin. "I wasn't your Watcher anymore. Once I realized that, panic set in. Not because I wasn't with the Council anymore, but because I realized that with all my sources gone, I wasn't going to be able to protect you. And that thought scared me much more than it should have. After all, a new Watcher was coming and he would keep you safe. But I knew that I needed to do it, that it was my place to protect you. I confused myself a lot with that one. At night I'd lie awake thinking about it, working out exactly how I could look after you and puzzling out why it was so important to me. It made me a bit testy. That was why I snapped at you in the library that morning when we were discussing the Sisterhood of Jhe opening the Hellmouth."
"When you told me it was no laughing matter?"
"Exactly. I was tired and frightened and terribly confused. I fear I took it out on you. That whole experience made me feel powerless. No one would return my calls and even the spirit guides wouldn't talk to me."
"But you got the job done. You did protect me; and everyone else."
"I suppose. I tried to do my best to prove to you that I could still be useful to you. And then Wesley came. There was something about seeing him that made the whole thing real for me. I realized that I'd be seeing you less, that you'd be depending on another man now. And that upset me far more than it should have. It wasn't just that I felt bad for losing you as a Slayer; I was jealous that you'd be going to him, spending time with him. It pained me to admit it, so I didn't. You have no idea the thrill I felt when you gave me preference, talking to me instead of Wes. It wasn't fair to him, I suppose, but it kept me from going mad. I couldn't stop smiling each time you'd walk into the library and come to me instead of him. I think that was when I really started questioning how I felt about you. There's only so much one can explain away with that 'father's love' excuse."
"So that was when you knew?" Buffy's breath brushed across his collarbone as she spoke, causing Giles to shiver.
"Not even by half." Giles pulled her closer and ran his hand gently up and down her arm. "Denial is an amazing thing. I kept telling myself that it was wrong for me to love you, so therefore, I didn't. I made justifications for all my thoughts and feelings. Every time I'd notice how happy it made me when you chose me, I'd explain it off as caring about a friend or child. But even Wesley could see it for what it was. He told me I had an emotional problem as far as you were concerned. He told me that my affection for you was far deeper than was proper and it was blinding me. I argued back, telling him it wasn't his business. Again, I was angrier with him than I should have been. The truth can hurt when you're hiding from it."
"So, how far did the denial thing take you?" Willow asked.
"Not far enough. I finally began to question what was really in my head about the time your vampire double came to town. Wes had taken Faith out for a run on the obstacle course and he looked completely spent when they got back. I knew I should have just left it, but I couldn't. I rather snidely asked if he felt up to taking Buffy out or should I. I realized as I was saying it that I was trying to show off for Buffy. It was the craziest thing. I pushed that thought down and convinced myself I was just harassing Wes. But then, when we were in the library after we found out Willow was alive, Willow said something that brought thoughts to my mind that actually scared me."
"What did I say?"
"You jokingly said that every night you and Oz played Mistress of Pain. Admittedly, the first thing that came to mind was that image. But it was only in my head for the barest of seconds. It was replaced by the image of Buffy and myself playing some sexual game or another. After the initial shock of that, I found that I really liked the idea. Then Xander broke into my thoughts asking if anyone else had gone to a scary mental place. As the reality of what I had been thinking sunk in, I was terrified."
"And that was when you knew you loved me?" Buffy linked his hand with one of hers.
"That was when I knew that I was seeing you differently; as an adult." He looked down at their joined hands and smiled. "I was still trying to deny why. But those interesting mental pictures kept cropping up more and more often. You didn't even have to be around. One night, Wes and I were staying late to do research on the ascension. We hadn't found anything and I was extremely frustrated. I sat at the table and my neck cramped up. As I reached back to work out the cramp, I had this image of you doing it for me. I could almost feel your hands on my skin. I pictured you trailing your hands up to my face, kissing me. I went into full scale panic. I had to do some fast mental talking to convince myself it was just the fatigue. It became harder and harder to deny, when I spent my last hazy minutes every night before I fell asleep thinking of kissing and caressing you. And the dreams I had about you were absolutely scandalous. I was torturing myself, really. When I'd let my guard down, just as sleep came, I could acknowledge what I felt for you. When I was awake and rational, I would deny it vehemently."
"Why did you keep denying it?" Willow asked.
"What good would it have done to admit it?" He wrapped his arms around Buffy's waist, resting his chin on her shoulder and leaning his head against hers. "I couldn't tell anyone. Buffy was still a student. And she wasn't interested in me that way; she was still attached to Angel. I thought if I didn't admit my feelings, I wouldn't have to face the fact that they'd never be returned. I don't think you understand what I was going through. I was having inappropriate thoughts about my Slayer; a girl barely older than a child. I was charged to take care of her and I wanted to take her into my bed. That alone had me tied up in emotional knots."
"But she wasn't a child," Willow said gently. "She was eighteen. You were both old enough to decide if this was right for you. And I don't think she was looking at you like a father."
"I wasn't really," Buffy responded. "I wanted a man in my life, someone to care for me like family does. But I didn't want you to be my father. I just wanted you in my life."
"Be that as it may," Giles said, trailing fingers down Buffy's arm. "I knew very well that she wasn't my daughter, but I couldn't bring myself to admit how far from that I was actually seeing her."
"Hey," Buffy suddenly interrupted. "Wasn't all this about the time I got that aspect of the demon thing and could read minds?"
"I believe it was."
"Well, how come I didn't see any of those 'interesting mental pictures' of yours?"
"At first it was just blind luck on my part. You happened to catch me on a day that the naked images of you were at the back of my mind. After I found out that you could read my thoughts, I worked very hard to keep them away from you."
"I wonder what would have happened if I'd have seen one of those thoughts." Buffy turned her head slightly and gently kissing his jaw.
"My guess?" Giles turned to smile at her. "You would have taken out a restraining order against me."
Willow and Joyce laughed.
"Okay," Willow said. "So you were still in big time Buffy denial?"
"I was." He resettled his chin on Buffy's shoulder. "My thoughts started to disturb me even more when they progressed past sleeping with Buffy."
"What does that mean?" Joyce asked, raising an eyebrow.
"I was still having scandalous thoughts about her, but they were surrounded by images of cooking meals with her, sitting with her on the couch watching television, playing with children."
"Children?" Buffy looked startled. "You were thinking about children? With me?"
"I was thinking about an entire life with you. A home, holidays, and yes, children. Why do you think I was so terrified of myself? I realized that I not only wanted you, but I wanted a life with you and the implications of that floored me."
"I had no idea." Buffy was looking at him, amazement on her features.
"You were never meant to. Even I didn't want to look too deeply at it. This went beyond the sexual fantasies of a forty year old librarian. I was afraid to look into the reasons. I didn't want to face what I knew I'd find. So, I tried to lose myself in learning about the mayor and the ascension, but about this time, you lot started obsessing about the prom. I was going to have to chaperone it, although I had no desire to go. Buffy was going to be attending with Angel, and much as I hated to admit it, the idea of a night watching the two of them cuddling cut me deeply. After we found out about the Hellhounds, of course I had to go to make sure nothing happened, but I was still unenthusiastic at best."
"I just thought you weren't a dance kind of guy," Buffy said, her finger tracing a pattern across the back his hands.
"I'm not really, but this was worse. That was when I discovered that Angel wasn't taking you. When I saw how much pain you were in, I just wanted to take you in my arms and hold you. Of course I didn't. Do you remember how I hesitated when you told me? I think I said something about not knowing what to say?"
"The first thought that came to mind was to ask you to go with me. For one moment, I was actually going to ask. Then reality set in. There was no way that you'd want to go with the school librarian. So, I stuttered for a moment, and said something stupid about taking you for ice cream."
"You were really going to ask me?" Buffy again seemed shocked.
"I can only imagine what you would have said."
"I would have most likely said something about you being nice, and turned you down. You're right. I really was far too into Angel for my own good."
"You're getting off the topic," Joyce interjected. "Was that when you knew that you loved Buffy?"
"That was when I knew that I cared for her as more than a friend. I was too afraid to admit any more than that at the time. The undeniable moment when I knew that I loved her, really loved her, came later that night."
Music pulsed through the room, the lights were low and people milled about, dancing and talking. Giles stood next to Wesley at the food tables trying to keep his panic under control. It wouldn't do for the younger Watcher to see how deeply worried Giles truly was. Logically he knew that it would take Buffy longer than this to dispatch the Hell Hounds, but logic was nowhere in his thoughts.
He'd wanted to go with her, had almost insisted, but she had charged him with protecting the students at the prom. He knew it was the wisest course of action; no one but Buffy was more qualified than he was to take on the beasts. But the worry for her was eating him whole. His mind tortured him with images of all the things that could go wrong, all the things that could happen to her. If she died while he was here at a dance, unable to protect her, it would kill him.
Wesley stood beside him, nattering on about dips and salsas. Giles had no interest in any of it, but he feigned curiosity to mollify Wesley. After a moment, Giles realized there was an odd tone to Wes's voice and turned to see what had caught the other Watcher's attention. Ah, yes, Cordelia. Shaking his head at the absurdity of Wesley's actions, he turned back to his own thoughts.
Time seemed to stand still for Giles. Every second was an eternity, dragging out, causing his worry to mount. Every time someone entered the room, he turned to look, his heart hammering in his chest. And when it wasn't her, his breath would catch and the mounting dread would come back in force.
Willow and Oz came to talk to him. He suspected that they were hoping to distract him from his anxiety. He tried to keep his mind on the conversation, but he was sure that he was poor company. He couldn't stand still, his apprehension causing him to pace and bounce on the balls of his feet. It was absurd really, but he couldn't seem to control it. After a while, the two teens gave up on him and returned to their evening. Giles honestly felt bad about ignoring them, but he couldn't get past his fear for Buffy.
He was considering leaving the dance to go look for her when something told him to turn and look at the door. He would never know what it was; call it Watcher/Slayer connection, the bonds of friendship, or simply the knowledge that the other half of his soul had finally arrived. Whatever the cause, he turned and saw her standing there.
Never had anything affected Giles as that moment did. He felt as if lightning shot through him. His very soul was on fire and in one blinding moment, he understood everything. He loved her. Not as a daughter, not as a Slayer, but as a woman. And that knowledge changed his world, changed his reality. He no longer owned his heart, it belonged to her, just as every part of his life was hers.
She noticed him, her eyes meeting his. She nodded ever so slightly, and smiled at him. Relief at her safety flooded through him and he nodded back. She turned back to the crowd, looking for her friends and he stood watching her. She was stunning. He'd always known it, but had never allowed himself to notice. Now, he reveled in the beauty that was Buffy. Her dress was amazing, accentuating every curve and line of her body. Giles had fought his desire for her, now he let it flow through him, let it complete him. He was hers entirely and there was no shame in that.
He had hidden from his feelings, knowing they could never be returned and sure that her rejection of him would break him. Now he understood that he had no choice in the matter. He loved her unconditionally and the fact that she would never know it changed nothing. Far from condemning him, embracing his feelings for Buffy made him stronger, filled the empty spaces in his heart and soul. He would never tell her, never burden her with it, but it was now undeniably a part of who he was. He could stop his heart from beating before he could cease to love her.
He wanted to go to her, to talk to her, to just be near her, but he didn't. She wanted to be with her friends and he wouldn't intrude the company of the school librarian on them. It was her night and he would let her have this little piece of normal in her chaotic world. He contented himself to watch her. She had the grace of a Slayer and the beauty of a goddess. She laughed and talked with her friends and he couldn't get enough of her smile. To see her happy like this, safe, content, truly happy, filled his heart.
Just as time had stopped for him when she had been in danger, now it sped on as if making up the difference. After, what seemed to Giles, mere minutes, the prom committee handed out awards. Giles turned his attentions to his duties as chaperone, watching the gathered crowd in an attempt to keep order; it wasn't really necessary, but he did it anyway.
When the last award was announced, Giles couldn't hide his smile. As a Slayer, Buffy had never been conventional. She did things her way and that was what made her great. Trust Buffy to garner an award for performing her duties as Slayer. He watched her as she walked up to get her award, the very picture of poise and charm. The room erupted into applause and Giles joined with the crowd, his pride evident on his face.
It wasn't too much later that Giles was sitting, watching Buffy from across the room, when Wesley walked up to him, asking advice about Cordelia. As Giles answered him, something struck a chord.
"For God's sake man, she's eighteen, and you have the emotional maturity of a blueberry scone. Just have at it, would you and stop fluttering about." Giles might as well have spoken those words to himself.
He could keep hiding, or he could face his Slayer. Before he had the chance to talk himself out of it, he went to Buffy. She had spent the night talking to her friends and watching them dance. It hardly seemed fair that the woman who saved the prom wouldn't even get one dance. He might not be able to give her everything, but he could give her this. She was standing, looking on as everyone else danced, her award in her hands. He walked up behind her, fully intending to ask her to dance. Instead, his nervousness betrayed him.
"You did good work tonight, Buffy."
"And I got a little toy surprise." She turned to face him, smiling and showing him her gold umbrella.
"I had no idea children en masses could be so gracious."
"Every now and then people surprise you."
He drew a breath to ask her, then noticed someone behind her. His heart sank as he saw Angel walk into the room. He wanted to ask her anyway, but he knew that she would prefer the company of the vampire. He smiled at her.
"Every now and then." He reached out, took her award from her, and turned her to face her date. He held the little gold umbrella for her as he watched her finally have her dance with the man that she wanted to love.
"Oh Giles, that was just beautiful," Willow said.
"Yes, well, it didn't feel so at the time." During his story, Giles had let his arms drop from around Buffy. She pulled them back up around herself.
"Giles, I'm here with you now. It's right where I want to be."
"I know, love." He smiled at her, hugging her close. "It's just that sometimes I wonder what it is that you see in a retired librarian."
"The man I love."
Her answer was simple and spoken with affection; it went straight to his heart. He turned her in his arms so that he could look into her eyes. After a moment, he leaned in and gently kissed her. She had stolen his heart years ago; now he was blessed that she had replaced it with hers.
"Okay, you two are being too cute," Xander commented.
"Sorry, Xand," Buffy said with a smile, after breaking the kiss with Giles. She looked up at her boyfriend. "So you've known you loved me since the prom and you never said anything?"
"Why would I have? You loved Angel. We were getting ready to face the mayor. There wasn't a reason to complicate things by telling you that your Watcher had fallen in love with you."
"Hey, was that why you put a sword in the mayor when he threatened Buffy?" Willow asked.
"Partly. As her Watcher, I had to protect her. As the man who loved her, I was outraged that he dared to speak of her so. I wanted to see him suffer, so I did the first thing that came to mind."
"That was completely stupid, you know," Buffy said, turning to put her arms around him. "He could have killed you right there."
"It was worth the risk to protect you, love."
"Awww," Willow grinned.
"Okay, this is bothering me." Buffy looked at Giles with a furrowed brow. "Why would you think that I'd never be interested in you?"
"Buffy, love, you were completely enamored with Angel. I understood. I didn't like it, but I understood. That was why I helped you when you brought him to me after Faith shot him with an arrow. I didn't want to. He was the man who had tortured me and terrorized you. But you asked it of me and I could deny you nothing."
"I never meant to hurt you." Buffy gently touched his face.
"I know. But you have no idea how much it upset me when you told Wesley that you couldn't watch your lover die. You called Angel your lover and it stung. But I knew that you weren't doing it to hurt me. That was why I supported you when you walked away from the Council. Whatever you needed, I would be."
"That was why you supported my plan to blow up the school?"
"I supported that because it was a good plan."
"And you were never going to tell me how you felt?"
"I didn't want to confuse you. Although I must admit that I almost told you after we defeated the mayor. I had been so worried that I'd lose you in the battle that when I didn't, I wanted to tell you everything. But you weren't in the mindset for it. I believe your exact description of your mental state was, 'fire bad, tree pretty.' I decided there would be time later. When I didn't see you over the summer, I convinced myself that you'd be better off not knowing. I'm sorry. I should have told you at least somewhere along the way."
"Well, you did in the end." Buffy hugged him close. "I know it was an accident, but I'm so happy you told me."
"As am I." Giles kissed the top of her head.
"Xander's right. You two are cuteness overload," Willow laughed. "You know, it's nice to see Giles loosen up."
"Oh, he loosens up alright," Buffy laughed. "You should have seen him at the movies last week."
"Buffy." Giles's voice was stern.
"What? It was cute."
"What did he do?" Joyce asked.
"We were in line to get the tickets and it was cold. You know me; I wasn't dressed for the weather and I started shivering. So Giles, being all gentleman-like, walks up behind me and wraps me in his arms to share his coat. Well, there was this woman behind us and she made this disgusted noise and said, 'Really now, he's old enough to be her father.' Giles turned around and looked at her. He smiled and said sweetly, 'But I'm not.' Then he totally kissed me right in front of her."
"Go, Giles!" Willow laughed.
"Oh, that's not the best part," Buffy continued. "The lady got all huffy and said, 'well, I never!' and Giles stopped kissing me, looked over his shoulder at her, and said, 'Perhaps you should try it. Might improve your attitude.' Then he went right back to kissing me."
"That's just not something you'd expect from our Giles," Willow said smiling.
"She upset me," Giles replied. "I was trying to keep my girlfriend warm and this woman decides that she had the right to pass judgment. I suppose it was rash of me, but I just don't understand why she felt she had to comment."
"Well, some people are just ignorant," Xander said quietly. "But the people who love you, we know better."
"Thank you, Xander." Giles sounded startled.
"Don't sound so surprised, G-man. You've always been supportive of me, even when everyone else thought I was being stupid. So why wouldn't I be behind you guys when you make a good couple?"
Giles just smiled at the boy.
"Well, I hate to break up the party, but I have to go into work early tomorrow," Joyce said, rising from the couch. She gathered her things, hugging Buffy. "Try to stop by the house more often? The two of you are welcome any time, you know."
"We'll have to take you up on that and come over for dinner soon." Buffy smiled at her mother as she saw her to the door.
Giles rose from the chair and went to where Joyce stood as Buffy went back to her friends.
"Are you sure that you're all right with this?" His voice was quiet.
"I'll admit that you wouldn't have been my first choice for her." Joyce looked over to where Buffy was joking with Willow and Xander. "But she's happy and I know you'll keep her safe. Of course, if you hurt her, not even the Hellmouth can hide you."
"That is a deal I can live with," Giles laughed. He opened the door for her. "Drive safely, Joyce."
"We should be going too," Xander said, getting up from the couch and offering Anya his hand. "I start work pretty early since I started working construction. Who knew there was a six in the morning?"
Buffy laughed and hugged him.
"Poor Xander. I'll be thinking about you when I get up at nine o'clock."
Xander made a face at her and walked over to Giles.
"Stop calling me that." Giles grinned at him. "And thank you."
"For what?" Xander asked, moving to the door and putting his arm around Anya's waist.
"For being family."
It was simple, but it said everything. Xander looked at Giles, nodding.
"Be careful please," Giles said, opening the door for them.
"See you later, Giles."
Giles closed the door, and joined Buffy and Willow on the couch.
"I want to thank you, Willow," He said as he settled in next to Buffy, putting an arm around her.
"For what?" Willow smiled at him.
"For supporting us and for keeping everyone calm. Without your intervention, I fear things would have deteriorated quickly."
"Yeah, Wil," Buffy grinned. "You were total Zen girl."
"Well, I just hate to see everyone fighting. Besides, you two do make a perfect couple." She turned to smile at Buffy. "So, this is Harrison?"
"Hey, what did I tell you? Dashing older archaeologist action hero. That's my guy."
Willow giggled and Giles arched an eyebrow at the two girls.
"Should I be afraid to ask?"
"Nah," Buffy put a hand on his thigh. "When I was playing 'do I love him, do I love him not' a month ago, I talked to Willow, but I couldn't tell her who you were, so I just told her to think of you as Harrison Ford. Whenever we talked about you, we referred to you as Harrison."
"That man from Star Wars and Indiana Jones?" Giles's eyebrows arched. He seemed impressed.
"Yup." Buffy hugged him. "A totally perfect description of you."
"I guess I should go too," Willow said. "I'm glad everything worked out."
She rose from the couch and Buffy and Giles saw her to the door.
"Thanks again, Wil," Buffy hugged her. "You're the best."
"Hey, that's what family is, right?" Willow startled Giles by hugging him as well. "I'll see you for lunch tomorrow, Buff. You should bring Harrison."
"We'll see," Buffy laughed. "I might want some just the girls time. See you tomorrow."
"Be safe, Willow." Giles smiled.
"Will do, Giles. Night."
They watched the red-head walk into the darkness, then closed the door. Giles moved behind Buffy, wrapping his arms around her and kissing her neck.
"That went better than I expected," He said, nuzzling against her skin.
"You expected worse?" She turned around in his arms to look at him.
"I hoped for better, but I did mentally prepare myself for worse."
"Worse would be?"
"Worse would be your mother disowning you and trying to get me deported and all of our friends not speaking to us."
"Wow. When you go worse, you go big."
"But, the worst didn't happen and now we can officially be together."
"You mean we can be all couply in front of our friends?"
"To a point."
"Oh? We have limits, British guy? And just what can't we do in front of our friends?"
"This." Giles pulled her to him, kissing her deeply. His hands ran down her back to settle on her butt. He gently massaged and it took Buffy a minute to realize that he was also easing up her skirt. She gasped and pulled back slightly.
"You did ask, love. I was merely demonstrating."
Buffy smiled at him. She stepped out of his arms and moved towards the stairs.
"Hey, Harrison," Her grin got wider. "Why don't you come upstairs and demonstrate that for me in detail."
She didn't wait for an answer, but started upstairs.
"All right," Giles replied, following her. "But it might take me a minute to remember where I put my bullwhip."
Buffy stopped, turning to look at him, her eyes wide.
"What?" Giles grinned, wrapping an arm around her waist, guiding her up the stairs. "All the dashing older archaeologist action hero types have one."
Buffy's laughter turned into shrieks as Giles tossed her to the bed, pinning her with his kisses.
"Wait until you see what I can do with it."