Title: Don't Ever Leave Me Again
Author: Laura Sichrovsky
Fandom: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Rating: PG or FRT
Pairing: None
Warnings: None that I can think of.
Season: Takes place across all the seasons.

Summary: This is just a little look at Buffy and Giles and the love they feel for each other, no matter what form it comes in.

Spoilers: Takes a scene from each season.

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: Yet another Still Grrr prompt. This one was to use the title from season seven's Never Leave Me. This is what
came to mind. I could see how their relationship changed over the years and the things that changed them. 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. To Jen, Laura (God save the Queen!), Michelle, and Jess for the betas.
I appreciate it! To Ann for everything. I love you, dear! To Samuel for being Samuel. 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.

Special Note: StillGrrr requires that fiction submissions stay under 2000 words. This one kind of took on a life of it's own and ended up at 3900+ words. So, I cut and changed. The point of this note is to let you know there is a shorter version of this with sadder ending. It can be found at StillGrrr on LiveJournal. Hope you enjoy!

Don't Ever Leave Me Again

Rupert Giles stood in his office facing his Slayer. She looked surprisingly well for someone who had died the night before. It was after school hours and as there wasn't a current apocalypse or an impending mid-term, they were the only two in the deserted library. The only reason Buffy was there was because Rupert asked her to meet with him. He wasn't sure what he wanted to say, he just knew he needed to say something to ease the tension he'd been feeling since he discovered that the Master had indeed killed the Slayer.

Rupert had spent all afternoon thinking up little speeches, some way to tell her what was in his head and heart. But now that she was here, he found he had no words. He paced a bit, looking back at her as he did so and he cleaned his glasses twice, noticing that his hands were shaking. The whole time she just stood there watching him in a disconcerting reversal of their roles.

He turned to face her again, determined to say something, anything to loosen the tightening sensation in his chest when he thought of her lifeless body and how close he came to being forcibly freed of his job as her Watcher. He looked into her eyes, resolved to overcome his British reserve and tell her how he felt.

"Buffy, don't ever leave me again." It wasn't what he'd intended to say, wasn't anything like the flowery speeches in his head, but he did feel better. She arched an eyebrow at him.

"I take it this has to do with my rise from the dead?" She was making a joke of it, but he could hear the tension in her voice.

"Buffy," he started to say, but she cut him off.

"Don't worry about it, Giles. If something happens to me, another Slayer is called, right?"

"I don't want another Slayer." She looked at him oddly, but he continued. "Buffy, this isn't about Watchers and Slayers; it's about you and me."

Now she was really looking at him strangely and he didn't blame her. His words did sound rather like a sexual come on.

"Buffy you are far more to me than the Slayer." He tried to make her understand. "You are special to me. I care for you. Why do you think I was willing to face the Master for you? You are more than my responsibility, you are my friend. And while the Council may send me another Slayer, I cannot do this without you. I wouldn't want to try."

He knew it was an emotional declaration, but he didn't care; she needed to know she was more than a weapon to him. She looked as if she wanted to say something, but she stayed silent, looking at the floor. Giles sighed, wondering if he had gone too far in telling her this. He realized as he looked at her that his words didn't bother her, but the serious tone of them did. He smiled at his Slayer.

"Buffy, all I ask is that you be careful. Xander cannot always be relied upon to be there to perform CPR."

She looked up at him and returned his smile. He could see in her eyes that she knew what he was saying, and more importantly, what he wasn't.

"Got it, Giles. From now on I'm Careful Buffy."

He smiled and nodded.

"Then shall we go out for ice cream to celebrate your return from the dead?" He felt slightly morbid wording it that way, but her answering grin convinced him he'd said the right thing.

"If you are buying, I'm there!"

They walked out of the library together, talking lightly of unimportant things.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Buffy felt the smoke stinging her eyes and throat, pulling a cough from her lungs. She felt the rumble of a corresponding cough from the man in her arms and relief flooded through her. He was alive and that was something. She pulled Giles through the door and into the alley at the side of the warehouse, stumbling slightly under his weight.

Once they were clear of the building, she felt him straining against her, struggling to put distance between them. She let him go, thinking he wanted to stand on his own and was startled as he practically threw himself away from her. He whipped around to face her, his eyes flashing anger.

"Why did you come here? This wasn't your fight!" His voice was furious and he half turned, looking longingly towards the burning building.

Tears pricked Buffy's eyes as she saw the depth of his pain. She wanted to go to him, tell him it would get better, but she felt a wave of panic as he looked like he might just go back into the building. In a flash of insight, she understood that he did want to go back in, that he never wanted to come out. She knew she had to stop him from hurting himself until he could think clearly, so she did the unthinkable, balling up her fist and slamming it into his jaw. He fell to the pavement, not even looking up at her, his shoulders slumped. She felt her heart constrict as she thought of losing him, and let loose an angry tirade on him.

"Are you trying to get yourself killed?" Her voice was harsh, nearly hysterical and tears were running freely down her face.

He still wouldn't look up at her, but she could see his shoulders shaking and she dropped to her knees, pulling him into her arms. She expected him to pull away and was surprised when he wrapped his arms around her, clinging to her desperately. She could feel his body trembling and knew that he was crying, his pain so deep that there was no sound, no tears. She pulled him close and soothed him, her hand running along his back.

After a while, his sobs died down and she looked at him, not sure what to say, but needing to ease the tight panic in her chest. She said the only thing that came to mind.

"Don't ever leave me again." She was startled as she recalled when he said those same words to her so many months ago. "You are special to me. I care for you. You are my Watcher and my friend. They may send me another Watcher, but I can't do this without you. I wouldn't want to try."

He looked up at her and now there were tears in his eyes. He pulled her close again, resting his head on her shoulder and she could feel the wetness on her skin.

"All I ask, Giles is that you be careful."

She felt him chuckle lightly, his breath warm on her neck, and she knew everything would be as all right as it could be on a Hellmouth. She pulled back slightly, looking into his eyes.

"Let's go home?"

He simply nodded.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Giles was sitting at his desk, reading through his mail, hoping for some hint of what happened to his Slayer. He expected that she might need some time to herself after having to kill the man she loved, but he had been horrified when he realized that she was nowhere to be found. He didn't know if she was dead or alive, although he suspected that she was alive somewhere; he had to believe that.

He'd spent the last three months looking for her, crossing the country to follow even the slimmest of leads, and being disappointed every time. But he knew he couldn't stop looking. She was out there somewhere and she needed him to find her.

Giles sighed deeply, rubbing his temples. There was nothing in today's mail that was going to help him As usual, he was on his own. He was just considering a cup of tea or perhaps something stronger when he heard a knock on his door.

He expected it to be Xander and Willow. They had been checking on him all summer, making sure he was healing well and hadn't given into despair. He opened the door, prepared to greet them warmly, but his words died on his lips. Xander spoke first, although Giles had no idea what he was saying; it was a meaningless jumble to his ears as he focused only on his Slayer, who was standing in front of him, looking worried. After a minute he realized that Xander was still talking.

"Thank you, Xander," he said, cutting off any further babbling. He looked at the girl in front of him. "Welcome home, Buffy."

She smiled at him and he stepped back, opening the door wider in silent invitation. He had a solid rule of never verbally inviting anyone into his home; this was a Hellmouth after all. He got them all settled, then went off to make tea. While the water boiled he made small talk with them, wanting to know everything that had happened in her life, but afraid to ask.

He'd just gotten to asking her how things with her mother were when the tea kettle went off and he left to take care of it. He could hear them talking, joking, and he felt such relief and happiness that he simply stood in the kitchen for a minute, smiling and drinking it in. She was back and she was safe. What more could he ask for?

He leaned his head against the cupboard, closing his eyes and just listening. After a minute, he heard the murmur of voices, low and serious, and then the light chatter picked up again. This time Xander's voice was the dominant one.

"Are you okay?" Her voice startled him and he turned to find her standing in his kitchen, looking at him.

"I'm fine," he said with a smile. "I'm just relieved you are back."

"Me too," she replied quietly, her face serious.

He looked at her, wanting to take her in his arms, but lacking the courage. They stood for a moment, neither knowing what to say. Then she looked at him.

"Well, I guess I'll go back to the others."

He heard something in her voice, something asking him for more than this. He took a step towards her.

"Buffy?" She turned back to him. "Don't ever leave me again."

She smiled at him, taking a step closer.

"Not liking the Slaying gig?" she asked with a grin.

"No I don't. I..I can't do this without you."

"Wouldn't want to try?" Her eyes sparkled.

"Exactly so."

She nodded, turning and walking back into his living room. He picked up the tea tray and followed her.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Buffy sat, looking down at Giles. He was kneeling in front of her, holding a cold wet cloth to her head. The look on his face was one of total anguish and she knew that he was sorry for what he had done. She wanted to forgive him, she really did, but his actions had put her mother in danger. She was angry at him and then she was angry at herself for being upset at him. She let out a frustrated sigh. Giles pulled the cloth away and looked up at her.

"Did I hurt you?" he asked quietly.

Buffy almost laughed at the absurdity of the question. Her face must have shown what she was thinking, as he replaced the cloth and looked at the floor.

"Buffy, I am so sorry. I will do anything to make this up to you. Just tell me what you want."

She looked down at him. What she wanted was for none of this to have happened, for Giles to still be Giles, for them all to be safe. But none of that was an option. She wanted to forgive him, but that wasn't in his power to grant; she alone would have to do that. She reached out and took his hand.

"What do I want?"

He nodded at her, his eyes silently pleading.

"I want…Giles, don't ever leave me again." He blinked at her, his confusion obvious. "The man who poisoned me, who hurt my mother, who put my life in danger wasn't my Watcher; he wasn't you. I never want to see that man again. You are my friend and I trust you. Promise me I'll never have to deal with that man."

"I promise, Buffy," he said, gently squeezing her hand. "The Council can go hang. I am yours, your Watcher, your friend and I am loyal to you."

She nodded.

"Good, 'cause I can't do this without you."

"You wouldn't want to try?" he asked quietly.

"No, I wouldn't."

"I should get you home," Giles said, rising to his feet and pulling her with him. "You need some rest."

She simply nodded, following him out of the library.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

"No. It's not safe for any of us." At the sound of Buffy's voice Giles turned to face her. She was standing, her fists clenched at her side, her breathing strained. He looked at the expression on her face and he knew something grave had happened. She sighed. "So Maggie sends me down into the sewers with one of those blasto guns and the next thing I know it's raining monsters."

"You're saying that Maggie Walsh set you up?" Giles asked, feeling a chill go through him.

"That's exactly what I'm saying. She sent me on a one way recon."

Spike got involved in the conversation and Giles ceased to follow it really. He was watching Buffy, realizing that he might have lost her today. They had drifted so far apart recently and as much as he wanted to blame her completely, he knew he shared some of the blame. He didn't want to push, wanted to give her freedom, and so he hadn't insisted she train, hadn't fulfilled his self imposed duties as her Watcher. He knew something had to change; he just hoped it wasn't too late.

Her idea to hide at Xander's was a good one and a few hours later they were all settling into the boy's basement. Giles wasn't thrilled with the venue, but he was pleased Buffy was safe. He knew this betrayal had hurt her deeply. He saw her standing to the side, watching everyone else and he went to join her.

"Are you all right?" he asked as he walked up beside her. She turned to look at him, her eyebrow arched.

"What kind of question is that? We are hiding in Xander's basement. I'm pretty sure things are not all right."

"I didn't ask about things. I asked about you." He saw pain in her eyes, and then it was gone as the mask she'd worn all year slipped back into place. "Buffy, please don't do that, don't hide from me."

She looked at him, then looked away just as quickly.

"And what should I do? What will make this better?"

"I'm not sure anything can," Giles answered seriously. "But pulling away from your friends, from me isn't helping."

"I'm sorry, but I just don't want to see you all hurt."

"Buffy, it started long before this. You walked out of my life from the moment you started University. I thought we meant more to each other than this."

"We do." She looked back up at him and he saw tears in her eyes. "I was letting you have a life, just like you let me have one."

"What would make you think I wanted a life without you in it?"

"It was just…after I saw you with Olivia, I realized that you deserve something nice and normal too, so I tried to give it to you."

"Buffy, the next time you try to give me a gift, either consult with me or make sure I can return it?"

She laughed, leaning closer to him, her shoulder brushing against his.

"I will. I'm so sorry about this."

"Don't be sorry. Just promise me something."

"What?" She looked at him, smiling.

"Don't ever leave me again. No matter how hard things get, no matter how much you think I don't want to face this fight, remember that you can come to me. Otherwise we both fight alone and I can't do this without you."

"Wouldn't want to try," Buffy said quietly, one of the tears slipping down her cheek.

"No, I don't," Giles acknowledged, reaching out and brushing the tear away. "Shall we join the others before all the good spots to sleep are taken?"

Buffy nodded and followed him over to where the rest of the group was talking.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

"I'm sorry," Buffy said, her voice barely a whisper. She looked down at Giles, taking in the blood and dirt on his face and his labored breathing. She bit her lip, fighting back tears.

"For what?" He asked, working to focus his eyes on her.

"We should have stayed. If we had, none of this would have happened." She wanted to tell him how sorry she was that their lives had come to this, hiding from a Hell God in the desert. She wanted to tell him that he couldn't die, not here, not like this. She reached out and took his hand.

"Don't." His face contorted in pain and he gasped. "What you did…w-was necessary…what I've always admired."

Tears were streaming down her face now and she felt the need to say something to break the suffocating fear that had enveloped her.

"The running away?" She smiled at him.

"Being able to…place your…heart above all else." He looked so pale, his breath coming in short gasps and she swallowed hard, fighting back tears. "I'm so proud of you. You've come so far. You are everything a Watcher…everything I could have hoped for."

He made a pained face and closed his eyes. She looked at their entwined hands, her body shaking with her silent sobs. His breathing became more labored and he opened his eyes, looking up at her. She saw in them his love for her, his pride in the woman she'd become. She also saw that he was saying goodbye and she clutched his hand harder.

"Giles no." She now made no attempt to hide her tears. "You can't die, you can't go. You promised. Please, don't ever leave me again. I…I can't do this without you."

She felt his hand tighten around hers and she looked into his eyes.

"You…wouldn't want…to try?" His voice was rough and weak.

"I refuse to try," she answered firmly. "You have to stay with me. Promise me."

"I…promise to try." He drew in a ragged breath, looking up at her.

"You rest," she said, gently touching his face. "We'll get out of this yet."

"I know you will," He replied, his eyes closing as sleep claimed him.

She touched his face again and turned.

"Willow, open a door."

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Giles stood alone in the gathering darkness, looking at the ground. He wanted to say something, anything that would ease the crushing pain he felt, but no words would come to him. He looked down at her gravestone, taking in her name and the inscription that was unique, just as she was. He watched in fascination as the letters blurred, barely noticing the tears that ran down his face.

It had been two long months since Buffy had jumped from the tower; two long months of empty days and endless nights. Two months of nightmares, seeing her fall again and again, knowing he could do nothing to save her. Two months of a painful existence, of drinking himself into a stupor to survive. Two eternal months of trying to live a life without her in it.

"Oh, Buffy, I miss you so." His voice was rough, barely above a whisper. "You were my friend, my family. You shouldn't have left me again. I cannot do this without you."

The rest of the familiar ritual went unsaid, lost in the echoing silence as she wasn't there to complete it and he fell to his knees, sobbing.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

"I have to," Giles said quietly, looking down at his hands. Buffy was quiet for a minute.

"Uh-huh," she said, her voice sounding distant. She moved from her place beside the couch to sit on a pile of workout mats. Frowning, she looked up at him. What was he saying? Why was he saying it?

"You have to be strong. I…I'm trying to," But she didn't give him time to finish.

"You are trying to what? Desert me? Abandon me? Leave me alone just when I need you most?"

"I don't want to leave." She could hear the pain in his voice and it angered her all the more.

"So don't," she said, moving to sit next to him. "Don't go. You are my family, my friend. I need you. Please, Giles, don't ever leave me again. I can't do this without you."

She looked at him expectantly, but he continued to stare at his hands, unwilling or unable to complete their ritual.

"Giles?" Her voice was tinged with doubt.

"I think it's the right thing to do," he said quietly.

She felt as if her world were falling apart. Everything she trusted, everything she needed was gone. She rose to her feet and looked at him, her eyes narrowed.

"You're wrong." With that she turned her back and walked away.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Giles stood, looking out at the endless expanse of desert around him. He closed his eyes, breathing in the dry air, willing himself to relax. It had been twelve hours since they fled the hole that had been Sunnydale. He still had a very long drive ahead of him and his shoulders were knotted from the hours he'd already driven. He heard a noise behind him and opened his eyes, turning to find Buffy walking up behind him.

"Are you ready to go?" She asked, shading her eyes against the setting desert sun.

"I suppose so." Giles wiped his hands on his pants, looking at her. "Which direction are we driving?"

"We really need to decide where we are going, don't we?" Buffy asked with a sigh.

"We?" He focused on her eyes, trying to read her emotions.

"Of course we," she replied, smiling at him. "Giles, I might have gotten upset at you, but nothing has really changed. I still have this big responsibility and I still need you. You are my friend, my family."

He felt tears prick at the corner of his eyes and quickly looked away. He had been so sure she'd meant it when she told him she didn't need him anymore. He was surprised at the depth of his relief at her words.

"You…I thought you would want to make the decision on your own," He stood with his hands in his pockets, looking at her.

"I told you, I need you. You can't ever leave me again, Giles. I can't do this without you."

"Wouldn't want to try?" He asked, smiling.

"I did try. That's how I know that we need each other."

For a moment he was stunned, just looking at her, her words sinking in. And then he stepped forward, taking her hand in his.

"We should go. We need to find a hotel for the night that will take so many of us."

She nodded, following him to the bus, not taking her hand from his as they went off to face the future together.

The End