Title: One Step Away 3 - Happily Ever After
Author's Name: Laura Sichrovsky
Fandom: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Rating: R or FRT
Warnings: A steamy scene somewhere in the middle.
Season: Takes place towards the end of season four.
Summary: Another sequel to One Step Away. This one follows Once Upon a Time. (If you haven't read those, this one won't
make much sense.) What would happen if someone from Giles's past came and drove a wedge between Buffy and
Giles? Can their relationship survive this?
Spoilers: None really.
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: Sometimes an image gets stuck in my head and later, a whole story forms around it. That was what happened
here. I could clearly see the scene where Giles is in Buffy's dorm room and it haunted me for weeks. Then on
day I looked and there was a whole story to fit it. I have so enjoyed this little series. Buffy/Giles cuteness might
be becoming my new writing style. Hope you like it. 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 best friend, Ann,
She let me ramble this whole thing out to her with infinite patience, and then she took my ramblings and put
them in some readable order. I could never write without her help and I would never want to try. Love ya! To
Heather, who stepped in with a last second beta, 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
Happily Ever After
Rupert Giles turned around quickly, reaching for a spoon and getting a handful of Buffy.
"Hey!" Her voice was indignant, but she was smiling. "Don't do that unless you mean it."
"Of course I mean it," Giles replied, leaning in to kiss the back of her neck. "But I thought you were hungry. I can put the pancakes away for now, if you would rather…do something else."
"Well, as much as I'd rather do something else, I'm starving." She handed him the spoon he'd been reaching for. "And I have class in an hour, so pancakes it is. Although, if you want to help me study again tonight, I wouldn't argue."
"As long as we don't use the Post-its again, I'm happy to help." Giles stirred the pancake batter and tested the pan.
"But, we have to use the Post-its. I've never been so motivated to match questions and answers in my life." Buffy grinned at him.
"Yes, but when you removed them, it took body hair." Giles made a face as he spooned batter into the pan. "Surely we could achieve the same effect if I just lay still on the bed and we set the papers on me?"
"But then I don't get to uncover that sexy backside, mister. And it will be worth the effort when I ace the final, right?"
"You aren't the one losing hair to the cause."
"How about if I promise to kiss any injuries better." She gave him a suggestive look.
"Well, I suppose. But I'll warn you, there are likely to be quite a few injuries."
"I think I can live with that." Buffy walked up behind him, wrapping her arms around his waist and kissing his back. "Do you have any idea how much I love you?"
"I might," Giles said, leaning into her embrace. "But confirmation never hurts."
"My moving in with you wasn't confirmation enough? Or telling everyone we know about us? Or that thing we did last week with the handcuffs and the frosting?"
Giles chuckled, flipping a pancake. He turned in her arms, hugging her to him and kissing the top of her head.
"Oh Buffy, I do love you. And yes, I do know how much you love me. I know it every morning when I wake with you in my arms."
"Aww, now that's sweet." Buffy leaned up, kissing him gently. "Oh! And pancakes now or I'm late for class."
Giles laughed, letting her go so he could rescue the pancake on the stove. He put several pancakes on a plate, handing it to her with a smile.
"When will you be home this afternoon?" He asked.
"I've only got the two classes this morning, so I'll be home around one."
"Would you like me to wait and have lunch with you? We could go somewhere?"
"Now that sounds nice," Buffy said around a mouth full of pancake. "A lunch date and then some exercise to work it off?"
"If you're sure it won't hinder your studies."
"Not if we use the Post-its." She grinned at him and he sighed.
"Yes, well, we can talk about that later." He turned off the stove, helping himself to some pancakes.
"Oh! And now I have to run." She kissed him, going for a quick peck, but changing her mind when his arms closed around her and his tongue got involved. Once his hands started roaming her body, she almost forgot about class entirely. Almost. Breaking the kiss, she looked at him, breathing heavily. "You are so going to have to pick that right up again when I get back."
"Anything you wish," Giles replied, grinning smugly. It thrilled him to know he could affect her so much.
"I like the sound of that. Although I should warn you, it might involve costumes." She gathered up her books, grabbed her bag, and headed for the door. "And theme music. Maybe a dance number?"
Giles laughed as she opened the door. She stopped, turning around to look at him.
"I love you, Giles."
"And I love you, Buffy. Have a good day."
She smiled at him and then she was gone.
Giles turned the water on, rinsing the suds off a glass and putting it in the dish drainer. He was finishing up the last of the breakfast dishes and planning out his day. He would do some cleaning and some sorting; maybe have time to start on his research before Buffy got home. That thought still caught his attention and made him smile.
It had been six months since the night he had inadvertently told her of his love for her and he thanked the deities for every day he had with her. He had been amazed when she told him she returned his feelings; he'd been stunned when three months ago, she'd casually suggested that she move in with him. His life hadn't been the same and he was grateful.
Giles put the last plate in the drainer and began to wash the counters as he debated lunch options. It made him happy to think about taking her to lunch. Before she'd become such a part of his life, his lunch choices were more often than not to eat or not to eat. He'd never fussed, never went to any trouble for himself, and he hadn't wanted to go out; eating by one's self only reinforced that one was indeed alone. Now, however, he delighted in trying new recipes, in cooking special foods, just for her, and in trying every new restaurant. Maybe they were still at the new couple stage, but he couldn't get enough of her company and he still enjoyed doing things with her.
His morning flew by fairly quickly. He folded laundry, vacuumed, and dusted. He hated these chores, but they needed to be done before he got to the research. By eleven o'clock, he was sitting at his desk, absently sipping tea while reading through a Sumerian demonology text. A large yellow legal pad sat next to him and he took notes, writing translations along the margins.
He wasn't sure how long he'd been reading when he heard a knock at the door. Not even looking up from the book, he rose to open it. When the person on his front stoop said nothing, he looked up, feeling a shock run though his entire body.
"Rupert, I know this has got to be a surprise." Olivia always did have a gift for understatement. She didn't even wait to be invited, walking into his flat and turning to look at him. "I'm sorry I ran off. I was scared. But, I think we can work this out."
She was looking at him, expecting an answer, but none came to him. She was absolutely the last person he expected to see in his home; he would have been less astonished to see Ethan. He knew he must look stupid, standing and blinking at her, but he honestly couldn't make his brain work. She seemed to take his silence as a good thing.
"You could come to England and live with me," she said, smiling at him.
"Olivia…" It was all his stunned brain could produce. He swallowed, trying to force some intelligent thought to surface.
She didn't wait. She was suddenly crossing the space between them, throwing herself at him. He dropped the book and his arms reflexively went up to catch her, wrapping around her waist. His alarm went up a notch as he felt her lips close over his and his body froze. He stood there, arms around her, body pressed against hers, panic flooding through him, desperately trying to force himself to do something.
"Hey Giles…" The last word transformed into a gasp.
He knew exactly who the gasp belonged to and he struggled to free himself from Olivia's embrace. He backed away, looking to the doorway, seeing only the open door. He ran out into the courtyard, frantically looking around. She was nowhere to be seen and he couldn't even guess what direction she went.
He ran back into the house, to his desk, picking up the phone. His hands were trembling, causing him to misdial a few times, but he finally got through.
"Willow? This is Giles. I need to speak to Buffy as soon as you see her. Please. It's important. No, it's not that kind of important, but I must speak to her. Thank you."
He hung up, panic making his whole body shake. He would have called Xander, but he knew the boy would still be at work. He decided the only thing he could do was to go look for her. He turned to leave and stopped dead, seeing Olivia standing next to the door. He blinked, swallowing his alarm.
"Olivia, I'm sorry, but I have to leave. And you have to as well."
"Rupert, what is the matter?" Her look was petulant.
"I don't want to be rude, Liv, but I must find Buffy. I didn't have the chance to tell you, but she is…well, we are together now."
"Oh my." Olivia looked surprised. "That would have been good to know before I kissed you."
"Yes, well, you didn't really give me a chance, did you? I must find her. Please…"
"Yes, of course. I'm staying at the Hilton. Apologize to her for me and call me when you find her."
"I will," Giles said, opening the door and ushering her out.
"And Rupert?" He turned at the sound of her voice.
He nodded and ran for his car.
Buffy walked down the street, not really noticing where she was going. Everything seemed a blur or maybe that was just from the tears running down her face. Her breathing was erratic, it actually hurt to draw in a breath. She turned onto a side street, still not exactly sure where she was headed.
How could this happen? Giles, her Giles. With that woman. It hurt so much, more than she'd ever hurt before. Maybe because she trusted him more than she'd ever let herself trust someone. She had known that Giles would never hurt her and now, she was walking blindly, dying a little with each step.
She'd had no set place in mind, but wasn't surprised when she found herself standing outside Willow and Tara's door. She drew in a breath and knocked. Willow opened the door and her eyes widened.
"Buffy! There you are. Giles is looking everywhere for you. I've never heard him in such a panic and…are you crying?"
Buffy looked up into Willow's eyes, fully intending to tell her what was going on. As she opened her mouth, a gut wrenching sob escaped and Buffy fell into Willow's arms, crying desperately. She didn't remember walking inside, but as Willow gathered her into her arms, she was dimly aware that she was sitting on the bed. Willow rubbed her back as Buffy wept broken heartedly. When she was drained, feeling almost numb, she looked up, seeing Willow and Tara watching her.
"Buffy," Willow said gently, "What happened?"
"Oh Wil, it…Giles…I came home today and he was kissing another woman."
"What?!" Buffy had never heard Willow sound so shocked. "Oh Buffy, Giles would never do that."
"But he did. I walked in on him and…Olivia."
"Olivia? But she left."
"Well, she's back and I guess…I guess he'd rather be with her."
"Buffy," Tara sat down beside her, putting a hand on her arm. "I don't know this Olivia, but I do know Mr. Giles and he loves you. He wouldn't kiss anyone else."
"But I saw them. He had his arms around her and he was kissing her."
"Oh Buffy, I'm so sorry." Willow pulled Buffy in for a hug and Buffy started to cry all over again.
"This has to be a mistake," Tara said with a frown. "Mr. Giles would never cheat on you."
"What are you going to do now?" Willow asked, rubbing Buffy's back again.
"I…I don't know. I can't go home because, well, it's his home."
"You can stay here," Willow said.
"No Wil, this is the first place Giles will come and I'm not ready to face him. I guess I'll go to Mom's place."
Willow nodded, hugging her tighter.
"You can go there when you feel a little better."
"Thanks, Wil." Buffy laid her head back down on Willow's shoulder, her body starting to shake again. "Because right now, I feel like I'm going to die."
Giles drove all over town, checking all of Buffy's favorite places and her friends' houses, but to no avail. He was close to a breakdown, not able to breathe through the panic. After a couple hours, he drove to Willow's. Maybe the red haired witch had finally found her. He walked up to the door and knocked, struggling not to pace the hall. Willow answered, her eyes narrowing when she saw him.
"I haven't found Buffy yet," Giles said. "Have you seen her?"
Willow crossed her arms and just glared at him. He took a deep breath.
"I'll take that as a yes. Is she still here?"
"She left." Willow's voice was cold, her expression angry. "Giles, how could you?"
"How could I what?"
"You were kissing Olivia!"
"No. She was kissing me."
"What's the difference?" She glared harder at him.
"Look, I answered the door. Olivia was there. She threw herself into my arms and kissed me before I could stop her. Buffy chose that moment to walk in. I tried to tell her what happened, but she ran. You know I love her. Do you know where she is?"
"You hurt her, Giles. I'm not sure I should tell you.," Willow said, her voice angry.
"Willow, I'd never try to hurt her. You know that. She's everything to me." He looked at her, his heart in his eyes. "Please. I love her so much. I have to make this right."
Tara walked up behind Willow, putting her hand on her girlfriend's shoulder.
"I knew you'd never cheat on her, Mr. Giles," Tara said quietly. "I told Buffy that right…right before she went to her mother's house."
"Tara!" Willow looked shocked.
"What? I did tell her that. And you didn't betray Buffy's trust by telling Mr. Giles where she went."
Willow raised one eyebrow at Tara and smiled. Her smile was nothing compared to the one on Giles's face.
"Thank you so much, Tara."
"Just make it right, Mr. Giles," Tara said as she watched him turn and leave.
Buffy stood on her mother's porch for about five minutes, just trying to get herself under control. She didn't want to panic her mom. She took a deep breath and knocked. As soon as Joyce looked at her, Buffy collapsed into tears again. So much for not worrying her.
"Buffy, what's wrong?" Joyce said, gathering her daughter into her arms and guiding her into the house.
"It's…I…He…Giles." It was all Buffy could choke out. She felt Joyce stiffen against her.
"What happened to him? Is he…is he…okay?"
"No, nothing…it's not like that…he…he…I came home and he was…kissing an old girlfriend."
"Oh Buffy, no." Joyce's eyes were wide.
"Yes." Buffy took a breath, collecting herself. "I walked into our pl…his place and she was in his arms. They were kissing."
"Are you sure?"
Buffy gave her a look that usually stopped Vampires in their tracks. Joyce swallowed.
"It's just…I don't think Rupert would do that to you."
"But he did." Buffy's voice was soft and empty. Joyce gathered her back into an embrace.
"You can stay here then. I'm so sorry dear."
"Thank you, Mom. I'm…" Buffy bit her lower lip. "I'm going to go lay down."
"You do that. And if you need anything, just let me know."
Joyce was watching Buffy climb the stairs when there was a knock at the door. She opened it to find Rupert standing there, his face drawn with worry.
"Joyce, have you seen Buffy?"
She did the first thing that came to mind; she closed the door in his face. He pounded on it again and she opened it, scowling at him.
"What do you want?"
"I want to…talk to Buffy."
"No." She was somewhat gratified by the shocked look on his face.
"I warned you what would happen if you hurt her."
"I didn't. It was a mistake."
"You bet it was!" Joyce let her anger flood out. "I never should have trusted you and Buffy shouldn't have either. Leave her alone."
"I can't do that Joyce. I love her. Please…"
She didn't wait for him to finish. She closed the door in his face again and went up to check on Buffy, ignoring his knocking.
Giles stood on the porch, his head in his hands. He considered yelling up to her, but dismissed the idea. It wouldn't help him if the neighbors called the police. He went back to the car and dug around in the glove compartment, pulling out paper and a pen. After careful thought, he wrote her a note.
I know how this must look, but I was not kissing Olivia. She came to see me, as she didn't know you and I are involved. She kissed me before I could stop it. You walked in at the worst possible moment. One second later and you would have seen me telling her that I was taken. For, my dear Buffy, I am. You've had me, heart and soul, since your prom. I love you so much. Please know that I would never do anything to purposely hurt you. Talk to me. Please.
Love Always, Rupert."
He read it over, satisfied that it said what he wanted it to and walked up to the door. He kept knocking until Joyce opened the door, her eyes flashing anger.
"Do I have to call the police?"
"Would you please give this to Buffy?" His voice was quiet, defeated as he held out the note. Joyce just looked at him. "Please?"
She frowned, but nodded, taking the note and closing the door. Giles hung his head and walked back to the car.
Buffy looked up from the bed as Joyce walked back in.
"I'm guessing it was him again?"
"He asked me to give this to you," Joyce said, holding out the note.
Buffy's hands trembled as she took the folded paper. She unfolded it gently, her heart racing at the sight of his handwriting. She took a deep breath and read it. When she finished, she handed it to her mother. Joyce read it, her brow furrowing.
"What are you going to do now?" She asked gently.
"I don't know." Buffy looked up at her, tears in her eyes. "I want to believe him, but…God, if it were anyone but Olivia.
"Honey, why don't you stay here tonight. You can sleep on it and see how you feel in the morning."
Buffy nodded. She went to the window, looking out to see Giles sitting in the car. He wasn't going anywhere, just sitting. She sighed deeply. She just wanted this over, wanted to be in his arms. Why did this have to be so hard? She turned from the window, sitting back down on the bed.
Giles sat in the car, refusing to leave. He wouldn't go, not without her. He watched the sun sink lower in the sky until it finally set. He reclined the seat, laying back and closing his eyes. It had been a long and trying day and he didn't expect any better from tomorrow.
He was just starting to drift off to sleep when a knock at the window startled him. He jumped, opening his eyes and seeing Buffy looking in the passenger side window. He scrambled out of the car, moving towards her. She took a step back and he stopped, feeling like he was facing a wild animal that might bolt at any second. He stood, looking at her, his heart beating wildly. She was just staring, her expression cold.
"Buffy." It was all he said. He put his heart into that one word, making it sound like a plea and a prayer.
"Giles, I'm still upset." She crossed her arms, looking at him.
"I see that. I'm just not sure why."
"Oh, maybe because you were kissing the woman I hate the most?" Her voice was hard and sarcastic.
"I didn't kiss her." Why couldn't he make her understand. This was all a mistake.
"I didn't see you stopping her," Buffy shot back.
"Because you weren't there long enough." Giles was starting to feel exasperated. "You just thought the worst of me and ran."
"Why would I want to stand there and watch you kiss her?"
"Why wouldn't you give me a chance to explain?"
"Explain why your mouth was on hers?"
"Explain why it looked that way."
"You don't even understand how much that hurt."
"Possibly as much as having you run from me? Or how about having your mother slam the door in my face?"
"Please! You…she…It's not even close to the same." The pain was evident in Buffy's voice.
"No, I suppose it's not," Giles conceded, his voice more gentle. "Can we please go home now? Finish this discussion where the neighbors can't watch?"
Buffy stared at him, incredulously.
"Home? Why are you acting like this fight is over?"
"Isn't it?" Giles tipped his head, looking at her. "Olivia is gone. You know what really happened. What else is there?"
"You hurt me badly, Giles."
"By kissing Olivia? Remember?"
"I. Did. Not. Kiss. Olivia. Did you understand me that time?" Giles was beginning to think this was dramatics for dramatics' sake. Why was she still harping on it?
"That was rude." Buffy drew herself up, hugging herself.
"That was frustration," Giles said, his tone mirroring his exhaustion. "I'm sorry you are upset, but I did nothing wrong."
Without a word, Buffy turned to go back into the house.
"Buffy!" Giles's voice was frantic.
She stopped and turned around, looking at him.
"What…"Giles's voice faltered. "What…I don't…Buffy, I don't understand."
"And that's the problem, Giles." She walked back to the house, going inside and turning off the porch light.
Giles shook his head, then got in his car and drove home.
Giles spent the longest night of his life tossing and turning, struggling for a sleep that wouldn't come. He was surprised when he realized that he was staying on his side of the bed, despite the fact that Buffy wasn't there. He was also a bit shocked at how empty the bed felt.
When he finally fell asleep, somewhere close to dawn, he woke, gasping and reaching for Buffy, feeling an almost physical pain at her absence. At six o'clock, exhausted, but unable to stay in bed any longer, he got up to start his day. He went to the kitchen to make tea, stopping in the doorway. Yesterday, he and Buffy were in this same kitchen, sharing, playing, loving each other. He turned away, unable to even look anymore.
As he tried to go about his morning, he realized that everything in his life reminded him of her, from the CDs on the coffee table to the demon books he was researching; everything was for her. Was it a bad thing? He didn't think so. He loved her, he needed her, but most of all, he wanted her in his life.
At noon, he gave up on the foolish notion of pride, of who was right and who was wrong. He called her, letting the phone ring about twenty times before he realized that she was probably still in class. Knowing how foolish it was, he kept calling every fifteen minutes until at sometime shortly after two, she answered.
"Buffy, it's me."
"What?" Her voice was cold, edged with anger.
"Please…I can't…we need to fix this." Giles wasn't a man given to pleading, but for his Buffy, he would do whatever it took. Unfortunately, Buffy wasn't in a forgiving mood.
"I'm not the one who kissed someone else."
"Neither am…oh bloody…Buffy, please."
Giles put the last of his pride in his pocket, willing to do anything. Even if it meant apologizing when he didn't think he'd done anything wrong.
"For what?" Her voice was hesitant and he knew his answer would decide this one way or the other.
"For whatever it was I did wrong. For hurting you and making you cry. I'm sorry."
"Giles, it's not that easy." Her voice was back to cold and he knew he'd answered wrong. "Don't you even care why I'm upset?"
"Of course I do. I'm apologizing, aren't I?"
"No, you aren't. You are just trying to make it better and you don't even know what went wrong."
"Buffy, I…" He didn't know what to say.
"I…I can't do this."
He heard a click and knew that she'd hung up the phone. He sank into the chair at his desk, his heart starting to pound in his ears as he realized for the first time that this might not work out at all.
It was late evening when Xander sat on Giles's couch, shaking his head.
"I go to work and the whole world falls apart?"
"Mine did at any rate," Giles replied despondently from his place at the other end of the couch.
"Oh Giles, it will be okay," Willow tried to reassure him. She sat on the chair across from him.
"You need to fix this, G-man," Xander said gently.
"You think I don't know that?" Giles looked up, his eyes desperate. "I…I can't do this without her. How do I fix it?"
"Apologize?" Xander suggested.
"I tried that. She said I was apologizing for the wrong things."
"What were you apologizing for?" Tara asked quietly. She'd pulled up a chair next to Willow's and was sitting, lending her support as much as she could.
"I told her I was sorry for whatever I'd done, for hurting her and making her cry."
"Well, maybe that's the problem," Willow said thoughtfully.
"I don't understand," Giles replied.
"Exactly." She tried not to laugh at the bewildered look on his face. "You don't understand what upset her in the first place and with Buffy, if you don't fix the problem, it gets worse."
"She was upset that Olivia kissed me. I understand that."
"Giles, I think that was just a symptom of her bigger fear."
"You see that she was upset by the kiss. But she loves you, she trusts you more than she's ever trusted anyone. Ever. You pulled that out from under her and that hurt."
"But I didn't kiss Olivia, so there is nothing to be upset about."
"No," Willow said, her brow furrowing. "But she thought you did and it brought up the feelings that were there."
"Well," Tara said, her face a study in concentration. "She did say she thought you'd rather be with Olivia."
"She couldn't…But I've…She couldn't think…" He broke off, his eyes wide and confused.
"She can't think she's your second choice?" Willow asked gently. "That you are only with her because Olivia ran?"
"Good Lord!" Giles was stunned. "But I've told her I loved her. I've done everything I can to show her. She must know."
"Yeah, but sometimes it's not enough." Xander shrugged when Giles looked at him. "When you spend enough time getting kicked around by life, you start to believe the worst."
"And nobody has ever stayed," Willow put in. "Buffy thinks it's because of her, so why wouldn't she think you felt the same?"
"But I've never left her, never even thought about it." Giles was exasperated.
"But she thought you did. She thought she lost you to Olivia. And now she has doubts."
"She thinks I only stay because I have no choice? I don't have a choice, but that's only because I can't live without Buffy. Surely she knows that."
"She knows it in her head," Tara said. "But it's her heart that's hurting."
"How do I convince her? What do I do?"
"Apologize again," Willow suggested.
"Only this time, do it right," Xander added.
The next morning, he went to Joyce's house, prepared to apologize, to beg if that was what it took, but no one was home. He waited all morning. Finally, at one thirty, he went home. He called Willow, but she had no idea where Buffy was. He called Joyce's every half an hour until he got an answer, just after six o'clock.
"Hello?" Joyce sounded tired.
"May I speak to Buffy please?"
"She's not here."
"When will she be back?"
"She won't be, Rupert." Her voice had become gentle, almost apologetic. Giles felt a wave of panic wash through him that stole his breath.
"Excuse me, what?"
"She's…moved out. She left late this afternoon."
"Where did she go?" His breath was stuck in his lungs, he felt a desperation he'd never known.
"I can't tell you. I'm sorry." And she really did sound sorry, right before she hung up on him.
Giles stood there, holding the phone, not even aware of his surroundings. She was gone. But he couldn't give up. He hung up the phone, only to pick it up again and call Willow.
"Hello?" Willow's voice filled him with calm. He would get through this.
"Willow, it's Giles. I called her mother's house and…Willow she moved out. Do you know where she went?"
"I…I have no idea. But I'll see what I can find."
"Thank you, Willow." His body relaxed. "Call me when you know something, no matter how late."
"I will, Giles." She hung up.
Giles spent another sleepless night and when Willow opened her door to him the next morning, her eyes went wide as she stared at him.
"Giles, you look…when was the last time you slept?" She asked as he walked into the dorm room.
"I'll sleep when Buffy gets home." He ran a distracted hand through his hair. "Did you find her?"
"Not yet, but I have class with her in an hour."
He looked at Willow hopefully.
"Will you tell her that I love her and I miss her?"
"I will." Willow put her hand on Giles's arm.
He simply nodded, sitting on the bed. After Willow left, Tara asked Giles to go to the student union for breakfast. He smiled, but declined, laying on the bed. He was tired, he was empty, and he didn't realize when he fell asleep. The next thing he knew, he was gasping, reaching for Buffy. He heard voices and blinked himself awake.
Willow was talking to Tara over by the desk. He sat up, running his hand through his hair, fighting the disorientation of waking in a strange place.
"Willow? Did you find out where she was?"
"Well, she wouldn't tell me." Willow gave him a half smile. "I think she knew I'd tell you. I told her what you wanted me to and I told her she was being unfair to you. She wouldn't tell me anything."
"That's it then." Giles's whole body slumped in defeat. "She's gone. Unless I stalk her on campus, I don't see her."
"Not necessarily," Willow said. "I don't know where she is, but I can guess."
"And what would you guess?" His face was intent.
"Well, that dorm room we shared is paid up through the end of term. No one is living there as Buffy and I both moved out. We both still have keys. So…"
Giles was off the bed and across the room in one smooth move. He hugged Willow tightly.
"It's only a guess." Willow said from his embrace.
"It's better than I had. Thank you." Willow got him the key and he hugged her again on his way out the door.
As Giles crossed campus, he formed a plan. He was going to lay everything on the line; whatever it took to make her understand. He'd show her that he was nothing without her. He'd beg if he had to.
Twenty five minutes later, he was turning Willow's key in the lock on the dorm room door. He could see from the belongings scattered about that she was indeed living here. He sat down on the bed to wait.
It was completely dark as Buffy walked into her dorm. It was late and she was tired. She'd spent the day at the gym, taking her frustrations out on the defenseless equipment. Staying until after dark, she went straight to the cemetery for patrol and after dusting three vampires she was feeling a little better.
But now, as she climbed the stairs to her room, her feelings were in turmoil. She was still hurt and upset, she still felt as if she didn't really matter to Giles, but maybe Willow was right. Maybe she was being unfair to him to just disappear like this. But she couldn't face him; she wasn't ready.
Buffy opened the door to her room and walked into the darkness. She contemplated turning on the light, but decided against it. The darkness better fit her mood.She closed the door behind her, letting the darkness envelope her. She was about to step forward when she realized that there was someone else in the room.
Her eyes had adjusted to the shadows and she saw a silhouette against the window. Before she could puzzle it out, the light on the night table clicked on, illuminating the room. After squinting for a moment, Buffy looked at him standing there. He looked terrible; there were dark circles under his eyes and he looked haunted.
"Giles, what are you doing here?"
He looked at her, taking a trembling step forward. After a heartbeat's hesitation, he dropped to his knees.
"Begging." The word came out strangled and desperate. Tears were in his eyes.
Buffy wanted to stay angry at him, she wanted to tell him to leave. She knelt beside him, gently touching his shoulder. His eyes met hers.
"Buffy, please. I can't live without you. I never meant to hurt you. What can I do to prove to you that my heart is yours alone?"
"Giles," She swallowed hard, tears filling her eyes. "I love you, but…"
"Please don't finish that thought," he begged. "I love you so much. I'll do anything to prove it."
She looked up at him, the tears running down her face.
"Buffy," his voice was gentle, tears sneaking from his eyes as well. "I'm so sorry."
"For what?" She couldn't stop the question from leaving her lips.
"For making you feel that you are less than the goddess you are. For making you think, even for a moment, that you don't deserve my love. But mostly, for making you feel alone again."
Her eyes flew wide as she sat, staring at him.
"I understand now," He continued. "I never meant for you to think you weren't good enough. And you were never my second choice. You were the dream that I'm not worthy to have and I'm sorry you don't know it. I need you. I love you. And I want you so much; I always have."
Buffy gasped as she gave way to sobs, falling into his arms.
"Giles," she wept. "I…I love you so much. I…I thought…I thought…"
"Shhh," he soothed, pulling her close, his arms protectively around her. "You'll never lose me, love. Shall we go home?"
She nodded, making no move to leave his arms. Somehow he got them to their feet without letting go of her.
"We'll get your things tomorrow if that's okay."
Again she nodded, losing herself in the feel of his arms around her. She had him back, her Giles, and all was right with her world.
Giles pulled her closer, reveling in the feel of her. She was back in his arms, in his life and he would never let her go again. He'd never remember the ride to the flat, simply that she was home again and his world was complete.
They walked into the flat and she turned to step into his arms. He pulled her close, losing himself in the feel of her in his arms. She looked up at him, tears in her eyes again and he leaned down and kissed her deeply. His mouth caressed hers as he put all his love into that one kiss. Her mouth opened for him and his tongue sought hers, teasing and loving her.
She broke the kiss, looking up at him.
"Giles, I thought when I left that I'd never…that we'd never…"
He didn't let her finish, kissing her again, pulling her to him as completely as he could. His mouth left hers, moving to her throat, nipping and kissing along her skin. He lost himself in her, in the taste and feel of her, in the moans and gasps that she was making as his hands and mouth explored.
Her clothes were scattered on the floor as he removed the barriers to her skin. He needed her, wanted her, wanted to let her feel his love for her. When her hands found his arousal, he broke off his kisses with a gasp. She began fumbling with his belt buckle and he pulled her to him again, kissing her deeply, encouraging her to wrap her legs around his waist.
He carried her upstairs, laying her on the bed, standing back to look, to admire her. She made a small whimpering sound of need and he came to her, letting her divest him of his clothes, showing her how much he loved her.
Later, in bed, as he held her after they made love, he decided that she belonged in his arms and he might just never let her out of his embrace again. He leaned in, kissing her on the temple.
"Buffy?" His voice was a gentle rumble against her skin. "Did you really think I would ever choose anyone over you?"
"No one else has ever stayed." She was running her fingers along his arm. "Why would you?"
"Because you own my heart? I'm never leaving you."
"That was what my father said to my mother and you saw how that worked out. And he loved her enough to marry her."
Something about that phrase stuck in Giles's head. He couldn't seem to shake it. He pulled Buffy closer, breathing in the scent of her hair, his mind in a whirl. As they drifted off to sleep, he was still thinking about it.
The next morning, after Buffy went to class, Giles dug in the back of his linen closet and brought out his fire safe. It was where he kept his most important possessions. He'd just gotten it open when Xander walked in.
"Hey G-man! Everything is good this morning?"
"Everything is perfect."
"Ahh, the wonders of make up sex."
Giles glared at him, but Xander just smiled.
"And what is with the big grey box? Are we burying a time capsule?" Xander walked over and put out a hand to rummage through it. Giles stopped him.
"These are my personal things. Please don't paw through them."
"What are you doing?"
"Looking for something."
After a moment, Giles pulled out a small white box. He opened it and turned to show Xander who let out a gasp. In it was a delicate gold ring. The ring itself looked like lace as the gold was twisted and spun together like vines to form a pattern. In the center was a diamond surrounded by tiny emeralds. The gems were slightly recessed into the ring.
"This was my grandmother's," Giles said quietly. "The one who was a Watcher. It was her engagement ring. The stones are down in the ring so as not to hinder her vampire fighting."
"Wow Giles, that's quite a family heirloom."
Giles nodded and smiled at Xander.
"Will you go upstairs and bring me the ring off Buffy's bedside table?"
Xander looked at him speculatively, but went up without question. When he came back, he held the ring out to Giles and arched an eyebrow. Giles took the ring with a slight smile.
"Yes?" He didn't look Xander in the eyes.
"Does this mean what I think it does?"
"That depends on what you think it means." Giles was still smiling. Xander looked at him very seriously.
"I think it means the Watcher is getting a wife."
"Only if she'll say yes," Giles replied with a grin.
"When are you going to ask her?"
"When I get the ring properly sized. I'll use this one that I know fits to show the jeweler the correct size. I want everything to be perfect."
"We could go to the mall right now," Xander suggested casually. "They have some good jewelry stores there."
"I know someone. I'll take it to him."
Xander stood up.
"Let's go, G-man. I'll even let you drive."
"Now?" Giles arched an eyebrow.
"Were you doing something more important?"
Giles smiled at him, standing and walking for the door.
Twenty four hours later, Willow was sitting on Giles's couch her eyes wide and a box in her hands. It had only taken Giles's friend a day to resize the ring. He operated a demonology shop and did the jewelry as a hobby. For Giles, he'd put everything else aside.
"Giles, it's gorgeous!" Willow exclaimed.
"It really is," Tara agreed from her place next to Willow. "And it was your grandmother's?"
"It was left to me when she died. I was beginning to think it was going to stay in the box until I willed it to one of you lot."
"You're willing us stuff?"
Giles just smiled at her.
"Can we get back to the happy stuff?" Xander asked. "You know, Buffy, Giles, Married?"
"When are you going to ask her?" Tara inquired.
"Well, I was thinking about tomorrow night." Giles looked a bit nervous. "I've made reservations at our favorite Italian restaurant for seven o'clock."
"Is that the place off Main, by the bookstore?" Xander asked.
"Yes. That was where she ordered the food from on our first…well, I think it was a date. We had it delivered. That was the night she told me that she loved me. A few weeks later we discovered that they have a lovely patio at the back. I asked for us to be seated there."
"Aww, how romantic!" Willow exclaimed. "Moonlight and romance."
"I rather hope so."
"And you know how you are going to pop the question?" Xander asked.
"How I'm going to…what?"
"You've got to do it right," Xander said. "If you're just all, 'hey, want to marry me?' then she's going to say no."
"Xander, could you ever imagine Giles saying that?" Willow laughed. "You do have something better, right?"
"I…I hadn't thought about it."
"You're going to wing it?" Xander asked. "With your nervous stutter?"
"Well, thank you for that."
"No, I just mean, what if your mind goes blank?"
"I hate to say it, but Xander might be right." Willow said. "I mean, this is a once in a life time moment. You'll always remember it. It should be totally romantic. Storybook, white knight stuff."
Giles furrowed his brow. He hadn't really thought of that. This should be an amazing moment. Buffy deserved no less.
"I think I'd better start planning," He murmured.
"What are you doing, Wil?" Xander asked, walking into the dorm room that the red head shared with Tara. It had been about three hours since they'd left Giles and Xander was there to fix a bookcase.
"Yes, I'd like a table for four please?" She made shushing noises at Xander and turned her attention back to the phone. "Tomorrow night at six thirty. And could we get a table out on the patio? Wonderful. The name is Rosenberg. Okay. Thank you."
"What did you just do?"
"I made reservations for us so we can watch Giles propose."
"You did what? And who is us?"
"I made it for four. You, me, Tara, and Anya."
"Willow, is this such a great idea?"
"Don't you want to be there for their big moment?"
"Well, yeah, but Wil…what if she says no?"
"They don't know we are going to be there. If she says no, we won't ever tell them. But if she says yes, it's hugs all around. And do you really think she'd say no?"
"I…I hope not."
"She's going to say yes. And I want to see it."
"I guess," Xander replied. "So, where's that bookcase?"
"Let's see, I should start out with…" Giles sat at the desk, paper in front of him, muttering to himself. Having spent most of his life living alone, he'd never had the need to censor his thoughts. He'd also learned that talking out loud made it seem as if he weren't the only one living there. Of course, he really wasn't the only one living there anymore, but old habits died hard.
Buffy was at the library researching a paper for her history class and Giles was taking this opportunity to put together his proposal. It wasn't going as well as he'd hoped. The first line was particularly difficult. He wanted this to be a surprise, so he'd have to be careful of his wording.
The paper in front of him was covered in scribbles and large sections were crossed out. He'd given up on starting out with, "I have something we need to discuss." It sounded like he wanted to repaint the kitchen. "We have a few options available to us" sounded like he wanted her to purchase insurance. "Buffy, I was thinking," made it seem as if he wished to discuss vacation plans. And "Buffy, you know I love you," was out of the question as it made it sound like he was moving to Europe.
His work after the first line wasn't much better. He'd never been very good at emotional situations and at this moment he felt particularly in over his head. He wanted her to know what she meant to him, that he noticed all the wonderful things about her and that he'd realized his life was empty without her in it. So far what he had sounded like an advertisement for the Boy Scouts.
"Buffy, you are amazing. I love everything about you. You are brave and smart and beautiful and resourceful. You're good and kind and you make me so happy." All he needed to add was that she was thrifty and clean. He sighed. Why was this so hard? He loved her and there were oh, so many reasons. How did he tell her what was in his heart?
His brow furrowed. If only there was a way for him to highlight each thing he loved, to keep them from blending into one, sappy picture. He could…the idea began to coalesce into something more solid, his eye widening. Yes, this could be exactly what he was looking for.
He rummaged around the desk until he found the phone book. After a minute of searching, he put in a phone call to the florist's.
Saturday morning was Joyce's usual time to shop. She was wandering the grocery store with a list, her coupon folder, and a half full cart. She was still having to get used to only shopping for one person again. When she and Buffy had first moved to Sunnydale, she'd shopped for one adult and a growing teenager. After Buffy's friends had started to come over she'd found herself keeping the kitchen stocked for several teenage children who ate roughly the equivalent of a small developing country. And now she was back to buying soup for one.
Joyce would never admit it, but she was pleased that Buffy and Rupert had resolved their argument. She groused about the relationship, about the fact the Buffy was romantically involved with her Watcher, but in truth, she could think of no one better suited for her daughter. The young men she'd been dating hadn't treated her well and Buffy's strong personality tended to overwhelm them. Rupert was settled in who he was and wasn't threatened by a stronger woman. Joyce also knew that he would do anything for Buffy.
As she walked down the aisle with the cereal on it, she heard a familiar voice. She turned to see Willow and Tara turning onto the aisle.
"Good morning, girls," she said cheerfully.
"Hello, Mrs. Summers," Willow replied with a smile. "I see we aren't the only ones who have shopping to do."
"Oh no. I do mine every Saturday morning." She put a box of raisin bran into the cart.
"We usually do ours on Saturday evenings," Tara said shyly.
"Why the change today?" Joyce asked.
Willow and Tara looked nervously at each other.
"We…we have dinner reservations." Willow said.
"Alright," Joyce gave them her best stern mother face. "I've had a child long enough to know when something is up. What is it?"
"It's…well…" Willow blushed. "Giles is going to ask Buffy to marry him tonight and we are sort of tagging along."
"He's...what? And you are…"
"He's taking her to that Italian place they love so much. We sort of made reservations at the same place without telling him. We're going to be rude and eavesdrop."
"You two are?"
"Well, us, Xander, and Anya. I made the reservation for four people."
"Willow, could you do me a favor?" Joyce asked.
"Could you change the reservation to five people?"
Willow smiled at her.
"I think that could be arranged. It's for six thirty. We'll all meet at your place at six?"
"I'll see you then." Joyce impulsively hugged her, then went off to finish her shopping.
Giles was close to terrified as he and Buffy walked into the restaurant that night, though he'd done a valiant job of hiding it. As they waited for the maître d' to seat them, he took a moment to admire her beauty again. When he'd told her they were going out tonight to celebrate having made up, she had gotten excited and dressed for the part. She looked amazing in a silky peach colored dress that hugged her curves. When she'd come down the stairs, his heart had stopped. Now, as he looked at her again, he was overwhelmed with how much he loved her.
They were led to a table outside, next to the flower garden, with a beautiful view of the night sky. Giles held Buffy's chair for her, then took a seat across from her. He put the plastic bag he was carrying down next to his chair and picked up his menu.
"You still aren't going to tell me what's in the bag?" Buffy asked. She'd been trying to get him to tell her since they left the flat.
"I told you. It's a surprise for you and if I tell you, I'll ruin it."
"When do I get my surprise?
"After we eat."
She made a pouty face at him, but then she smiled. He knew she loved to tease him and that pout was usually the surest way to get what she wanted. But not tonight. Tonight he was going to wait. Everything would be perfect.
Three tables over, just behind a planter, Willow, Tara, Anya, Xander, and Joyce sat eating their dinner. They'd seen the couple come in and were pleased that they had such a good view of their table. If they strained hard, they could hear the conversation.
"Do you think they saw us?" Willow asked nervously.
"Of course not," Anya replied. "Giles is too tense to notice anything. If they'd seen us, they would have said something."
"I wonder what's in the bag," Joyce mused.
"Maybe the ring?" Tara answered.
"In that big bag?" Xander asked. "There has to be something else in there."
The group sat, speculating, while they ate their food and watched Buffy and Giles place their order.
"That was a great dinner," Buffy said, wiping her mouth with her napkin and pushing her plate away.
"It usually is here," Giles replied. He was twisting his napkin between his fingers and looking at his plate.
"Okay Watcher guy," Buffy said, reaching across the table to still his hands. "What's up?"
"Buffy, it's…well, I just…" He stopped talking as the waitress came over to gather their plates.
"Would you like dessert?" she asked cheerfully.
"Maybe in a little while," Giles replied with a forced smile.
The waitress nodded and went away. Buffy took his hand again.
"So, you were saying?"
Giles took a deep breath, swallowing his panic. He reached under his chair and brought up the bag.
"I…I have something for you." He brought out a single red rose and handed it to her. Before she could say anything, he began talking again. "This is for your beauty. Every morning when I wake up next to you, I'm rendered speechless by you."
Buffy was staring at him, her eyes wide. He reached into the bag and pulled out a white rose.
"This is for your compassion. You are always willing to help someone who needs you, no matter the cost."
She took the flower, still watching him wordlessly. He pulled out a yellow rose.
"This is for your intelligence. You may think you are not clever, but your insights and ability to remember things leave me in awe."
She was watching him closely now and he thought he might see tears in her eyes as she took the yellow rose from him. He brought out a pink one next.
"This is for your bravery. I know your calling frightens you, but you have never failed to face a foe, even when you knew you couldn't win. I am so proud to work with you."
She took the flower from him with trembling fingers. He brought out an orange one.
"This is for your strength. Other men have tried to make you hide it, hide who you really are, but I never want you to be anything but the amazingly strong woman you are. I love that you can knock me on my butt with one punch and I equally love that you won't be intimidated in an argument. Your strength leaves me breathless and makes me love you all the more."
She swallowed hard as she took the rose from him and he smiled reassuringly at her. He brought out a lavender rose.
"This is for your sense of humor and fun. Your life hasn't been an easy one, yet you face every day with a smile and you have brought such light to my world. You've taught me to laugh, even in the face of danger. You make my days brighter just by living in them with me."
She put the lavender rose with the others and he brought out another red one. This flower was decidedly different. It was indeed a red rose, but one need only look at it to see that it was silk.
"This one is because I love you more than life itself. It's the one that reminds me the most of you."
"'cause it's artificial?" She asked, looking at him suspiciously.
"No, because while it is beautiful, the real value lies on the inside."
"Oh, well, that's much better," she said, suddenly stopping as she realized what he'd said.
She gently opened the flower, pushing the petals aside. She gasped when she saw the ring inside, sparkling up at her. Her eyes went wide and she looked up at Giles. Her eyes went even wider when she saw he was on one knee in front of her.
"Buffy, the day I realized that I loved you, everything changed. The day you said that you loved me as well, I finally understood how. I'd had a life, but I wasn't living; my heart wasn't beating. I know this because I felt it begin to beat the moment you walked into your prom and smiled at me. This last week was a nightmare for me. It showed me what my life would be like without you in it and I never want to experience that again." He reached out and took her hand in his. "Buffy, I love you. Would you do me the honor of being my wife?"
Buffy looked at him, tears streaming down her face. After a moment, she took her hand from his and touched his face.
"Oh Giles, I can't think of anything else I'd rather do. Yes. I'll marry you."
Giles took the flower from her, removing the ring and slipping it gently on her left hand. She grinned at him and suddenly flung herself into his arms. He stood up, bringing her with him in a tight embrace.
Before either of them realized what was happening, they were surrounded in a group hug.
"Oh, that was beautiful!" Willow exclaimed from behind Buffy.
"Willow?" Giles was shocked to say the least.
The hug eased up and Buffy and Giles faced their friends.
"You spied on us?" Buffy asked.
"We had to be here for this," Willow said, grinning. "I wouldn't have missed seeing my two best friends getting engaged."
Buffy suddenly realized that her mother was there.
"Mom, what are you…how?"
"Willow invited me. Oh honey, that ring is beautiful."
"And you are okay with this?"
"Sweetheart, you were living with him. I didn't see this coming?"
"So, Buffy Giles, huh?" Xander asked with a grin.
"I…I guess it will be." Buffy looked a little overwhelmed.
"You…you don't have to…change it if you don't want to." Giles was looking down again.
"Of course I want to." Buffy turned to put her arms around him. "It might take some getting used to, but I want to be Mrs. Buffy Giles."
"Congratulations," Tara said quietly. "Do you know when you want to get married?"
"Soon," Buffy replied with a smile. "Very soon."
"Excuse me," a voice said from behind them. "Is there a problem?"
They hadn't realized that they were making a scene, standing, hugging, talking. The maître d' had come to see what was happening.
"We are so sorry, " Willow responded, smiling at the man. "But our friends here just got engaged."
"Congratulations," the man replied, smiling at the couple. They came in quite a bit and he knew them by sight. "If you will all sit down, dessert is on the house."
"Thank you so much!" Buffy said, taking her seat again.
Everyone pulled their chairs over to Buffy and Giles's table, crowding in close; no one minded.
"So, you were talking about a date?" Joyce prompted. "How long do we have to plan this wedding?"
"How fast can we do it?" Buffy asked.
"Why the hurry, love?" Giles asked. He'd moved his chair next to her and now put an arm around her.
"Well, you know…Slayer…expiration date. I want to be your wife. Why wait?"
"We have to order invitations," Joyce said thoughtfully. "Those should take about a month to get. Then we have to send them out. Three months?"
"Three months," Buffy mused. "Okay. I guess I can wait that long. An August wedding it is."
"We should go dress shopping on Monday," Willow said as the desserts arrived. "There's a nice place on Main. If we go after class your mom can meet us for lunch. We can look at bridesmaid dresses too. I'm not wearing anything fluffy or pink."
"And what makes you think you get to be a bridesmaid?" Buffy asked, hiding her smile.
"Because you love me and you know it."
"Guess I can't deny that one. But you don't get to be a bridesmaid."
"Huh?" Willow looked hurt.
"You'll be too busy being the maid of honor." Buffy grinned at her. "I'm afraid Tara and Anya have to do the bridesmaid gig alone."
Willow squealed, leaning over to hug Buffy while Anya and Tara smiled.
"Uh…this does bring up something," Giles said, turning to look at Xander. "I'll…I'll need a best man and…well, I can't think of anyone who fits the bill better. Would you?"
"You want me to…Giles, I don't know what to say. Of course you realize that this means I get to throw the bachelor party."
"I hadn't thought of that," Giles said with a frown. "I think I can live with it as long as you don't get me deported."
"I make no promises!" Xander exclaimed with a grin.
Later that night, Buffy was stretched out on the couch while Giles went through some mail at his desk. She held her hand up admiring the ring in the light.
"This is beautiful. I couldn't have picked anything better myself."
"Because it won't interfere with your slaying?" Giles asked, not looking up.
"Nah. Because the emeralds remind me of your eyes."
He looked up, startled and she smiled at him.
"It's like having a piece of you with me all the time."
She was beautiful, laying there looking at him. She'd changed out of her dress and was wearing nothing but one of his dress shirts. He put the mail down and went to sit beside her, pulling her into his arms.
"I love you so much, Buffy."
"I know. I have the jewelry to prove it. Thank you."
"For the ring?"
"For making all my dreams come true. You've given me everything I wanted and thought I'd never have." She lay her head on his shoulder.
"Everything?" He asked gently.
"What else is there?"
"Oh, I was hoping that some day we might…well, that is if you want them…But if you don't…"
"We aren't talking about a cat, are we?"
"No, I really wasn't. You don't want children?"
"Of course I do. But aren't you rushing things a bit?"
"And just when were you planning on starting on this?" She didn't hide her grin and he smiled back.
"Well, I don't suppose we need to get started right away, but I do subscribe to that American philosophy."
"Which one is that?"
Giles stood up and pulled Buffy to him, flipping her over his shoulder and striding to the stairs, ignoring her giggling and squirming.
"The one that says that practice makes perfect." He replied as he carried her up the stairs.