Title: In My Darkest Dreams

Author's Name: Laura Sichrovsky

Fandom: Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Rating: PG-13 or FRM

Pairing: Buffy/Giles

Warnings: None

Season: It takes place a few years after the show, so maybe a non-comic season 9?

Spoilers: Possibly for the end of the show. There is mention of the First, Kennedy, and the new Council.

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.

Summary: Buffy, who now lives in Rome, starts having dreams about Giles dying. She goes to find him, but he doesn't seem to

want to see her. What in the world could be wrong and doesn't tie into the dreams?

Author's Notes: 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, for the support and the beta. I need to say,

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.

A Note on the spelling of Willow's nickname here: I spelled it "Wil" instead of "Will" because that was the way

it was spelled in the subtitles on the DVDs.

In My Darkest Dreams

The room was dark, yet there were shadows on the walls. They flickered, moving slightly in a rhythmic pattern. Buffy turned her attention away from the shadows, back to the rest of the room. It was a living room in a home. There was a couch to her left. She cautiously walked around it, moving to the center of the room.

Her heart froze in her chest as she saw a body on the floor. Moving with increased stealth, she circled around towards the body. She could tell that it was a man. He was tall and his body stretched out on the floor in front of a love seat. As she approached, she could see his face and she heard a scream fill the air.

It took her a second to realize that the scream had come from her. In that second she had covered the remaining space and was now kneeling in front of him, her body shaking with sobs that she didn't even feel. She reached out a trembling hand to touch his face.

"Oh, Giles," Her voice was barely above a whisper. "Giles, no."

His eyes were wide and the look on his face was heartbreaking; so distraught, so hopeless. She wanted to back away from him, but couldn't, couldn't stop stroking his face and murmuring his name.

She had no idea what happened here, or even how she got here, but she knew she needed to find who had done this to him. She heard a noise behind her. Turning, slowly, she knew that she was about to face his killer. Before her eyes found the person, the whole room began to shake and spin.

She gasped, pulling in air and realizing that she was sitting in her bed in her apartment in Italy. Her whole body was trembling as the images from her dream came back to her. She fumbled for the phone, dialing his home number. After fifteen rings she gave up and did the mental math on the time difference. He was an hour behind her. It was three in the morning here, so it was two am in London. Where was he?

She tried his office, getting the main switchboard's voice mail. She wondered briefly how that would work in an apocalypse, then moved on, trying his home number again. When he didn't answer, she began to feel the beginnings of panic.

What if this had been one of her prophetic dreams? What if she was too late?

Buffy got up and went to the kitchen, getting a drink of water. After a moment, she dug around in the pile by her phone until she came up with a book. She flipped through the pages for a minute, then picked up the phone.

"Yes, I'd like to make a reservation on the next flight you have from Italy to London. Yes, I can hold. Thank you."

x x x x x x x x

Rupert Giles sat, his head in his hands, his fingers massaging his forehead. He had an abysmal headache, one so bad it was actually making him nauseous. He took a deep breath, focusing his thoughts inward. It really didn't help, but he didn't have much choice. He had to ignore it and go on. There was a mountain of paperwork awaiting his perusal.

Since Sunnydale had been sucked into the earth, Giles's life had gone a decidedly different direction than he thought it would. Instead of walking off into retirement, he had taken charge of the small band of refugees, relieving Buffy of the burdens of command. It hadn't been an easy few weeks, but calling on connections and favors, he'd liberated Council money and gotten all the Slayers emergency passports.

He'd brought them back to England, to a compound the Council owned. There he had offered them all shelter and training. Slowly, more Slayers and Watchers who had been in hiding came to them. After a month, the compound was full and Giles knew someone had to take charge, had to get organized. He called everyone to a meeting and the next thing he knew, he was the newly elected Head of the Watchers' Council.

He was gratified at their confidence and terrified with the responsibility. But, Giles being Giles, within three weeks, had moved the offices into a new building in London proper; set up classes, both academic and combative, for the Slayers; hired himself a staff; and had procured three new training campuses, all within 10 kilometers of each other.

He had held a week long training seminar for all the returning Watchers, making sure they understood how *this* Council was going to operate. Within three months of arriving in England, the new Council was operational. Offices were filled, classes were held, work was being done. Giles had gotten to personally interview the applicants for the Watcher training program. He'd hand picked the Watchers and Slayers who accompanied Robin and Faith back to The States to set up operations in Cleveland. He'd been the model of efficiency and everyone had been in awe of him.

But, that had been a year and a half ago. Now, here he was, bogged down in the paperwork and decisions that marked his position. He was tired, he was worn out, he was bored, and worst of all, he was lonely. He knew that he was sniveling, that it was the headache making him maudlin, but he felt isolated and abandoned. He found himself missing his life in Sunnydale, the excitement and camaraderie. Here, he knew his work was important, but it was not like when he trained his Slayer, all adrenaline and terror. This was important in a 'if that isn't approved, Slayers won't have extra weapons' way; necessary, but not apocalyptic.

He closed his eyes, fighting back the wave of self-pity he was feeling. He missed that time and he missed them, missed the children he'd never had but who were his all the same. After the first six months of setting up, they had all gone their separate ways. Xander had gone off to Africa, looking for Slayers. He wrote Giles from his laptop almost every night, but it wasn't the same; Giles hadn't seen him in eight months. Willow and Kennedy had gone to South America. He got e-mails from them as well. He had hopes of seeing them for the holidays, but the hopes weren't that great. Dawn had gone to Italy with her sister, even Andrew had gone to The States. He heard from them once in a while, but not often. And then there was Buffy. She had left for Italy almost a year ago and he'd had two phone calls from her since. He tried not to think that they had all grown beyond the need for him, but it seemed they had.

Giles sighed, opening his eyes and concentrating on the papers in front of him. If he didn't pay attention he'd be here all night again.

It was about three o'clock in the afternoon when his secretary buzzed to inform him a Slayer was here to see him. He had just started to wonder what the problem could be when his door opened and his mind suddenly refused to work. His heart gave a wild jump, his emotions surged as he recognized not just *a* Slayer, but *his* Slayer, his Buffy. He wanted to jump up and hug her, but he forced himself to stay seated.

He mentally berated himself for his enthusiasm; if she was here, it must be on business.

"Buffy, how nice to see you." He kept his voice level. "Please have a seat."

She raised an eyebrow at him, not moving any closer.

"That's all I get? I come over five hundred miles and I don't even get a hug?" Her eyes were sparkling and a smile twitched at her lips.

Giles forced a smile onto his face. He wasn't really feeling up to playing these emotional games today. She wanted to act like nothing had changed between them, like they saw each other all the time. He wasn't sure he could do it. If he let his guard down, he'd only feel the sting of it all the more when she left again.

"Of course I'd like to hug you, Buffy, but is it really appropriate?"

"Hmm, let me think?" Buffy walked towards him, still smiling. "Is it appropriate to hug your Slayer? Yeah, I think it is. Now, if I was just any old Slayer off the street, I might wonder."

Giles couldn't stop the chuckle from leaving his lips. He always was helpless against her charms. The next thing he knew, he was standing next to his desk, holding Buffy in his arms.

"I've missed you, Giles," she said softly, hugging him close.

"I've…yes, well…" Giles fought the wave of emotion that hit him. Oh how he wanted to just stay this way, holding her, enjoying a physical closeness, even if emotional closeness to her were denied him. He wanted her to be his Slayer again; wanted to be her Watcher and hers alone. But, that wasn't what life gave him. No, his life was to be here, in an empty office, far away from any connections to life. He stiffened against her and stepped out of her arms. "So, what can I do for you, Buffy?"

He sat back down and she looked at him again, her eyes searching. After a few moments, she walked around to his side of the desk, moved some papers, and sat on the edge, bracing herself with one foot on his chair.

Giles's eyes went wide and he felt a momentary panic. He'd been counting on the formality of his position, on the aloofness of this office to keep him distant from her. But, in typical Buffy style, she'd just broken through all convention to make herself his equal. He looked up at her.

"I do have chairs, you know." He indicated the two plush office chairs in front of his desk.

"Yeah, but that's so stuffy." Buffy grinned at him. "This is how I always used to sit on your desks in Sunnydale. Why not now?"

Why not now? He wanted to tell her that this wasn't Sunnydale, that he wasn't her Watcher, that she was the one who had cut him out of her life, that he had a position to consider here, that having her this close, that reliving their time in Sunnydale, that pretending nothing had changed was killing him emotionally. He wanted to tell her this and more, but his affection for her kept him from saying anything. Instead, he simply nodded at her.

"Yes, well, what brings you to my office?" His voice had become formal again as he mentally rebuilt his barriers.

"Actually, I'm here to ask for a favor."

Ahh, she needed something from him. Of course. He knew there had to be some motivation to pull her away from her life in Italy. He denied to himself the stab of pain her words had given him. He would never admit to being fool enough to think she had wanted to spend time with him.

"And what would that be?"

"Well, you see," She leaned forward, putting a hand on his arm. "I'm in town indefinitely visiting this very nice British guy and I need a place to stay."

Giles felt as if she'd slapped him. She was here after a boy and she wanted him to find a place to put her up? He took a breath, pulling himself together before he answered her calmly.

"We could put you up in one of the Slayers' compounds if you don't mind being a bit out of town and sharing a room." He could hear how cold his voice had become. It should worry him, he knew, but he didn't really give it much thought as he went on. "And just where in London does your young man live?"

Buffy looked at him for a minute, then burst out laughing.

"There isn't a young man, you lunatic. I was talking about you."

"You were…me…I don't understand."

"I'm here to visit you. You are the nice British guy. I'm not sure how long I'll be here, but I was hoping you'd let me stay with you. Since you are the reason I'm here and all."

Giles felt a jolt as he looked into her eyes and saw that she was serious. She was here to see him. But…

"Why?" He asked the last part of his question out loud, not even realizing he'd done it.

"Why what?" Buffy smiled at him.

"I'm sorry?" He frowned, his mind whirling in confusion.

"You asked why and I was asking why what."

"Oh, sorry. I…it was just…nevermind."

"No, what is it you wanted to know?" Buffy touched his arm again, smiling at him.

"It's…well, why are you here to see me?"

Buffy tilted her head looking into his eyes.

"Do I need a reason?"

"Yes…I mean no, you don't, but you usually have one."

"I woke up the other day and I realized that we haven't really seen each other much."

"Yes? And that brought you here, why?"

"I missed you. Simple as that."

"And you'll be staying until you don't miss me anymore?" He was striving to keep the bitterness out of his voice.

"Well, now that would be impossible, wouldn't it?" Buffy teased. "The minute I leave I'm missing you again."

"That hasn't stopped you from being absent for almost a year." He knew how petty it sounded, how childish, but he couldn't help himself. Somewhere behind his walls, a dull ache had started. He couldn't even begin to guess when, but it was such a part of his existence that it had to have been there a while.

"Giles?" Her lips had pulled into a pout and he could see worry in her eyes. He sighed.

"I'm sorry. That was uncalled for." He brought a hand up to rub the back of his neck. "I've…I'm tired and I have a rather nasty headache. Still, no excuse for snipping at you."

"It's…well, it's not okay, but I understand. Why don't you take me to your place?"

"I…well, I have all this work to do."

"It can wait. I came here to see you and you need a nap. Both good reasons for us to leave right now. Okay?"

He looked into her eyes, feeling defeated and tired. A part of him wanted to embrace this, to settle into the comfort she was offering. The greater part knew that it came with a price that he couldn't pay. She would be leaving and he would be alone again. He sighed. She was right about one thing; he needed some sleep.

He stood, taking his coat from the back of his chair and shrugging it on. As he walked towards the door, Buffy fell into step next to him, taking his hand in hers. He wanted to fight it, he really did, but he hadn't the will right now. After telling his secretary that he'd be back in the morning, he walked out of the building with Buffy, holding her hand and carrying her bags as they went to the nearest Tube station.

x x x x x x x x

They walked into Giles's flat and Buffy stopped, looking around with wide eyes.

"Giles, this is amazing."

She walked across the main room to a set of glass doors that looked onto a private garden. Buffy had never seen so many flowers in one place. They grew in every size and shade, looking almost wild, yet not quite. It was obvious that this garden was well cared for. There was a fountain surrounded by flowers and vines. A table and three chairs sat on a small brick patio.

"This is yours?" Buffy asked, turning to look at him.

"It…well, yes, it came with the flat. I simply look after it."

"You're doing a great job. Is this where you take your tea these days?"

"I don't have time for tea," He replied. "Why don't we take your things to your room?"

He led her down a hall to a large, airy room with a bathroom attached. There was a door that led into the garden.

"Isn't this the master bedroom?" Buffy asked, looking around.

"Actually, the master bedroom is next door. We'll be sharing a bathroom. I hope that's okay. If it's not, the other bedroom has a private bath, but not garden access."

"No, this is good," Buffy smiled. "I don't mind sharing with you."

He put her bags down on the bed and turned to go.

"I'll leave you to unpack now."

Buffy frowned to herself as she put her clothes in drawers. She had been almost in a panic when she arrived at the Watchers' Council that afternoon, absolutely sure that Giles wouldn't be there. When his secretary had informed her that he was indeed in, she had almost sagged with relief. She wasn't too late to stop the dream from coming true. Now that she was here, she wasn't sure what to make of the way Giles was reacting to her.

She took a small bag into the bathroom, finding places for her toiletries and musing further. The whole time they had lived in Sunnydale, Giles had been at least mildly comfortable around her. Now, he carried himself stiffly and tried to keep a distance between them. Even his voice was vague and business like. She found herself wondering what was going on in his head.

When she finished putting her things away, she went back to the main room to see Giles sitting at a desk going through mail. He didn't even look up as she entered the room. She stood for a minute, watching him.

"So, what do we do now?" She asked tentatively.

"Beg your pardon?" Giles replied, not looking up from the letter in his hand.

"Do? You and me? It's about six o'clock. Maybe we could eat?"

"I don't really have much here," Giles said, frowning. "I usually eat at the office."

"You eat dinner at work? How late do you stay?"

"As late as is necessary." He'd gone back to the mail and his voiced sounded distracted.

"Well, we have to eat," Buffy said. "What do you suggest?"

"We can order take away, I suppose." He still hadn't looked up.

"Can we go out?" Buffy asked.

"Eat at a restaurant?" Giles looked up at her, frowning again.

"People do it. I know they do."

"Well, yes, but I haven't for a while."

"So you are totally due for it." She smiled at him. "Where do you want to go?"

"Well, there's an Indian restaurant up the road. It's fairly close."

"Do they have good food?" Buffy walked over to the desk.

"I've never been there."

"Okay, so they are close, but what do you like to eat?" She realized that she didn't have his full attention. After a moment, she sat on the edge of the desk. He was still reading his letter. She scooted over until she was right in front of him, a foot on either side of his hips for balance. He blinked and looked up at her, his eyes wide.

"Buffy, what are you doing?"

"Sitting." Her voice was casual, but left no room to argue. "So, what do you like to eat?"

"I…I haven't really thought about it for a while. I eat what's convenient."

"Well, not tonight." Buffy leaned forward a little, putting a hand on his shoulder. He turned and looked at her hand, his eyes still wide. "So, how do you feel about Mexican?"

Her grin was wide, but he gasped, looking into her eyes. She could see panic fluttering in his.

"Giles," she said gently. "It's okay if you don't like Mexican."

He drew in a breath and looked back at her. She frowned as she noticed his eyes were empty again, like he'd flipped a switch or put up blinds in there.

"I don't really know of any good Mexican restaurants, but there is a good Spanish place by the museum."

"And you've eaten there?" Buffy asked.

"When I first moved into this flat. The food was very good and they have a two for one special on weeknights."

"Then what are we waiting for?" Buffy smiled at him.

Giles stood up and offered his hand to help her off the desk. She felt a stir of unease at how stiffly he held himself and as soon as she was standing he let go of her hand and stepped away from her. She hoped she could get him to talk at dinner; she was starting to worry. She followed him to the door and he held it open for her, following her into the London evening.

x x x x x x x x x

The restaurant was as pleasant as Giles remembered it, with polished wood floors and starched white table clothes. Buffy seemed delighted with the idea of tapas, ordering several different dishes to share with him. They had just placed their order when she reached across the table, taking his hand and smiling at him. He felt himself stiffen.

"Relax, Giles." Her thumb stroked across the back of his hand and it was everything he could do not to pull away. "So, where were you last night?"

"Last night? I was at work." He squirmed in his seat, unable to pull his eyes off their joined hands. Something about this should bother him. When had he developed such an aversion to being touched?

"All night?" Buffy asked quietly. "I called your place at two in the morning and you weren't there."

"I had reports to review." He dragged his gaze up to her, feeling a flash of irritation. What gave her the right to keep tabs on him? "Why were you calling at two in the morning?"

"I…I had a bad dream and I called you to talk about it."

"Is this the reason for your unannounced visit?" He knew there had to be something to bring her all the way to London.

"Well, partly." She looked up at him, smiling. "It made me realize that I missed you. There was nothing holding me in Italy. Dawn is over eighteen now. She's actually thrilled to get the place to herself."

He nodded, not sure how he felt about what she was saying. He felt childish behaving like this, holding stubbornly to his anger, but some part of him whispered that if he let her in, she'd only hurt him more and he was tired of hurting.

"So," her voice was enthusiastic. "What do you do for fun these days?"

"Fun? I don't really have much time for fun. Fighting evil is a full time job."

Buffy laughed, lightly squeezing his hand.

"I'm sorry, but that sounded so…comic book hero. Now come on, you must do something fun. We fought evil full time in Sunnydale and we still had time to play on occasion."

"I really have been busy as of late," Giles replied neutrally. He wanted to tell her that in Sunnydale, he'd been part of a team. Here it was just him, alone against a mountain of paperwork, knowing that if he missed one important thing, the world could end. He even went so far as to open his mouth to say it, then decided against it. He didn't want to hurt her.

Their appetizers arrived and Giles retreated back into his shell, answering her questions as simply as he could. He knew she was worrying, he could see it on her face; it only served to annoy him more. After a while, she seemed to give up, not really talking to him as she ate. She maintained this all through dinner, although Giles could see her start to speak a few times.

They ordered chocolate fondant to share for dessert. When it arrived, she couldn't keep her silence any longer.

"Giles, what is wrong?" There was genuine concern in her eyes. He almost broke down and told her everything; almost.

"Buffy, there isn't anything wrong. I'm just tired."

She nodded and he knew she didn't believe him. But she didn't push. They finished their dessert in silence and caught the tube to the station a few blocks from his flat. He wasn't surprised when she took his hand as they walked along the canal to his home. He was actually getting used to it and something about that disturbed him.

When they got into his flat, Buffy sat on the couch, her expression one of determination. Giles escaped the only way he could think of, pleading exhaustion and going to his room.

Despite his agitation, he got ready for bed and turned off his light. He was in all honesty, in need of sleep. He slipped under the covers and closed his eyes, but sleep wouldn't come. His mind kept replaying every moment he'd spent with Buffy today, torturing him for both treating her so coldly and for letting her get so close.

He took deep breaths, his mind running over all the reasons he needed to stay strong against her. How deeply she could hurt him topped his list. When she had first gone off to Italy, he'd honestly believed he still meant something to her. He'd hoped for an e-mail, a phone call, even a letter, yet nothing had come. As his days increasingly weighed him down, he relied on the ties to his friends, his little family, to keep him sane. Slowly, the distance eroded their affections and now he was just a name from their pasts, an old man left adrift and alone. He knew he was exaggerating, but to him it felt real. The children had gone on with their lives, no longer needing him and it hurt.

But Buffy had the power to hurt him far more than the others ever could. She had always been his destiny, his Slayer. He'd felt the bond between them should be stronger than it was with the others. And yet she'd just gone off to find a life without him in it and never looked back. And if he tried to pretend everything was the same between them, when she felt the wanderlust strike again, he'd be left alone once more.

Giles sighed, turning over and opening his eyes, staring into the darkness. He couldn't help but think about the way she was treating him, touching him so freely, sitting close to him. This was probably worse than anything else she'd done. Once, what seemed like a lifetime ago, when she'd first started college in Sunnydale, he'd loved her. Not as a friend, not as her Watcher, but loved her as a man loves a woman. He'd nursed his romantic fantasies in silence, watching her go from bad dating choice to bad dating choice, wanting nothing but to be with her. But Giles wasn't a stupid man. He knew she would never see him as anything but old and after a time, he'd mastered his emotions towards her. He'd been her Watcher, she'd been his Slayer, his friend, and nothing more.

Yet this evening, when she'd taken his hand across the table, he'd felt the smallest stirrings of old feelings better left buried. He would not, he could not go down that road again. He'd fought long and hard to see her as nothing but a friend and to revisit those feelings would only bring him heartache. And Giles knew he couldn't take any more heartache.

When the children left, it had taken him many long and lonely days lost in work for it not to hurt every minute. If he let himself relax into this, even into the friendship she was so easily trying to resume, when she left, he'd have to start all over again and he was pretty sure he couldn't do it.

He closed his eyes again, drifting off. As he entered that grey area, somewhere between awake and asleep, his thoughts drifted to times past, times when he was her Watcher and he had people who cared for him. He fell asleep with a frown on his face.

x x x x x x x x x

Buffy walked into the dark room, knowing that when she turned she would see Giles, dead on the floor, but she couldn't stop herself from looking. She felt her body tremble as she looked at him, eyes empty, face a study in anguish. She turned and walked to him, kneeling beside him and touching his face.

She was about to take his hand when she heard a noise behind her. She whirled around, only to find herself sitting up in bed, breathing hard and shaking. She took a deep breath and was just debating getting up for water when she realized that someone was in the bathroom and the shower was running.

Buffy turned to look at the clock on her night stand. It was ten minutes after three. She furrowed her brow, looking up at the glass door and taking in the darkness outside. No, it really was three in the morning. She got out of bed, pulling a robe over her pajamas and wandered down the hall to Giles's room.

She knocked lightly on his door and when he didn't answer, she let herself in. His bed was empty, so she went and sat on it, waiting for him to come back. She sat, lightly drowsing, and after a time, she heard the shower water go off. She wasn't sure how long she waited until the bathroom door opened and Giles walked into the room, a towel around his waist, another around his neck. He was drying his hair and he stopped short upon seeing her.

Buffy sat blinking, her mind almost refusing to work. Giles was amazing! Why on earth did he hide himself under twenty layers of clothes when this gorgeous body was underneath? She was about to ask him that, when she saw his face. He was frowning at her, yet somehow managing to look concerned at the same time.

"Is everything all right, Buffy?"

"Giles what are you doing?"

"I didn't mean to wake you, Buffy. I was getting ready for work." He went back to drying his hair, but he kept eyeing her nervously. He collected some clothing and went back into the bathroom, pulling the door mostly closed. She could hear him moving around.

"At three in the morning?" Buffy called to him. "How long does it take you to get dressed?"

"Well, I usually leave at three thirty," He called back.

"Leave for what at three thirty?" Buffy stifled a yawn.

"For work," he replied.

"Every day?" Buffy asked.



"I do have a lot of work to do."

"Giles?" She called to him.

"Hmm?" He responded, walking out of the bathroom. He had on dress pants and was buttoning up a blue shirt.

"Are you starting your own country?"

"What? Of course not." He looked at her with wide eyes.

"Then you do not need to be up at three in the morning. Come back to bed."

"Buffy, I can't." He pulled a tie from his closet and walked over to his dresser mirror. "I have three reports to go over and a few proposals to read before my breakfast meeting at nine."

"And you need that information for your meeting?" Buffy asked quietly.

"Well, not exactly..." He hedged, looking at her in the mirror.

"Bed! Now!" Buffy demanded, putting her hands on her hips while still sitting on the bed.

"Buffy..." His voice sounded exasperated. She cut across all his arguments.

"That's it! I guess I have to use my Slayer strength on you!"

"To do what?" His eyes were wide again and he sounded positively scandalized.

"To keep you in bed," she said simply.

"Do you understand how wildly inappropriate that sounds?" He asked, turning to face her.

"Not as much as it's going to look when I'm sitting on top of you to keep you in bed."

His face paled and he looked at her in horror.


"Right now!" she said, getting to her feet. "I'll undress you if I have to."

He blinked at her, taking in her serious expression and began to untie his tie. She watched him as he folded the tie and put it on the dresser. He took the shirt off, hanging it over the back of a chair to the side of the dresser. He was wearing a white undershirt which he seemed to debate on taking off. After a moment, he went back into the bathroom.

"You do realize that you've put me completely off schedule for the day." He called from the bathroom.

"Any schedule that starts at three in the morning deserves to be redone."

"Now I won't be able to come home until after dark."

"We'll talk about that later," Buffy replied.

"Buffy, I have certain things that need to be done in a day."

"I'm sure we can figure out something that won't have you working a fifteen hour day."

Giles walked out of the bathroom wearing dark grey sweatpants and a blue t-shirt.

"Much better," Buffy said with a smile. "Now, let's get you back in bed."

She climbed in, pulling the covers around her and laying down. Giles stared at her.

"What are you doing?" He asked, his voice tight.

"Going back to sleep? Now get your butt in here before I come after you."

She watched him take a deep breath. His face looked like he was going into battle instead of back to bed. He climbed under the covers on the other side of the bed, resting right on the edge. One wrong move and he'd be on the floor.

"Giles, scoot over before you fall out. Sleeping shouldn't be an extreme sport."

He didn't move and she sighed.

"Do I come and get you?"

He moved marginally closer and she let it go. At least he wouldn't fall out.

"Buffy?" His voice was so tense. She could picture his jaw clenched. "Why are you doing this?"

"Why am I making sure you actually get sleep?"

"I don't need a babysitter."

"No, I don't suppose you do. But at least this way you get some sleep and I know you are safe."

"What does that mean?" He sounded confused.

"That means I'm staying here and so are you. Now, get some sleep."

x x x x x x x x x

Giles had to admit that he was still tired. He hadn't slept well the night before. He'd just about jumped out of his skin when he'd walked in from the bathroom to find her on his bed. For one crazy moment he thought it was a dream, one of those wild, passionate dreams that had so dominated his life five years ago and that still occasionally plagued him. But the look on her face had been enough to convince him that this was real; she looked sleepy and worried.

He'd almost fainted when she ordered him to bed with her. He'd tried to fight her, but Buffy was Buffy and now, here he was, laying stiffly in his bed listening to her breathe. From the evenness of her breath, he could tell she was sleeping again. He wondered if he could get up without waking her and quickly dismissed the thought. Even if he could, when she woke and found him gone, there would be hell to pay.

He shifted carefully into a more comfortable position and was surprised by a yawn. It seemed at this point, his only choices were to lay here, overly aware of the woman beside him, or to go back to sleep. He closed his eyes, willing his body to relax. After a few minutes it even began to work. His thoughts began to drift and the next thing he knew, Buffy was shaking him gently.

"Giles? It's almost seven o'clock. When did you want to get up?"

He yawned and rolled over to look at her. His breath caught as he was struck by her beauty. She sat there, smiling at him, the morning sunlight setting her hair aglow. Her eyes were alight with her smile and her skin was flawless. He swallowed hard, fighting desperately to shove these feelings from him. He sat up quickly, leaving the bed.

"Now…is good," He said tightly.

"Do you need the bathroom?" Buffy asked, getting up.

"I showered a few hours ago. I don't need it just yet."

"Good. I've decided I need to earn my keep around here. I'm going into the office with you."

He nodded as she walked past him into the bathroom. He sighed deeply. Why was he getting the impression that it was going to be a very long day?