Giles ran into the airport's main terminal, just shy of a complete panic. Traffic had been fairly heavy and it had taken him almost an hour to get here. He ran to the nearest information board, sure that he had missed her flight. It took him a minute to focus, but he realized that he still had half an hour and dashed off towards the gate.
He ran the whole way and five minutes later he was standing at the security check point, trying to catch his breath. He was desperately hoping that he could get someone to deliver a note to Buffy and was searching his pockets for a pen when he saw her. She was standing in line, waiting to put her bag on the belt to be scanned. He didn't even think about it, turning to run over to her.
He was stopped by a burly security guard, standing in front of a rope line.
"I'll need to see I.D. and your ticket, sir."
"I…I do have identification," Giles said, pulling his wallet out. "But I don't have a ticket."
"I'm sorry, sir, but I can't let you through."
"I just need to speak to someone for a moment," Giles said, struggling to hold down his desperation.
"I'm sorry, but there are rules."
"Please, I need to speak to her before she leaves. I'll just be a moment."
"I'm sorry, sir, but I can't."
Giles felt frustration building in him. She was right there and if he didn't hurry she would be gone without knowing he was ever there.
"Could you take her a note? Or tell her that I'm here? Please?"
"Sir, I cannot leave my post."
Giles drew in a shaky breath and decided to take a chance.
"Sir, I understand that there are rules, but the woman I love is about to board a plane and she doesn't know how I feel about her. I can't just let her leave." He put on his most pitiful expression, hoping the man would understand. "Is there anything I can do?"
The man thought for a moment, then looked at Giles.
"Well, sir, there really aren't any rules about calling to her. I'm sure if you yelled, it would get her attention."
Yelling in public really wasn't Giles's style, but he was desperate. With a grateful nod to the security guard, he moved along the security rope until he was about twenty feet from her. He took a deep breath and calmed himself down.
"Buffy!" he yelled, desperate to get her attention. After a second, he tried again, a little louder. "Buffy Summers!"
She froze and then turned to him, her eyes wide.
x x x x x x x x x x
Buffy had no idea what to do. She had almost been through security when Giles had come out of nowhere. She was really going to have to have a talk with Willow about what "don't tell Giles" meant. She looked at him and sighed, getting out of line and going to him.
"No, don't give me an excuse, just listen," he said, reaching over the rope to take her hand.
Before he could go further, there was a voice from behind them.
"Miss, is there a problem?"
Buffy looked up, seeing a security guard standing next to her. He was eyeing Giles suspiciously.
"No, there's not a problem. The gentleman just needed to speak to me."
The man nodded.
"Please keep it brief," he said, walking away.
Buffy turned to look at Giles. He still hadn't let go of her hand.
"Buffy, I know you are afraid, but please don't leave. I need you." He took a deep breath. "Buffy, I love you."
Everything went out of focus for a second and Buffy felt her head spin. She shook her head to clear the buzzing she was hearing.
"Miss," the security guard had come by again. "You need to move along."
Buffy nodded, not even looking at Giles.
"Buffy, please talk to me."
"What do you want me to say? That this changes everything? It doesn't." She felt desperate and fought the urge to run.
"No, I can't, Giles."
"I know that you are afraid that you'll hurt me, but I'm not worried."
"No, Giles. I'm not afraid I'll hurt you. I'm afraid that I'll get you killed or turn you evil or something."
Giles laughed and she glared at him.
"I'm sorry, but I'm not going to become a demon because you love me."
"You don't know that!" Buffy fumed, upset that he wasn't taking this seriously. "Don't you get it? Every man who loves me dies or is broken. I couldn't take it if I did that to you. I won't!"
She bit her lip, trying to turn her back to him, yet he still wouldn't let go of her hand.
"Buffy," he said gently. "I know that there is a risk, but there always was and that never made me walk away before. Don't you understand? I love you and I'm willing to do anything to give this a chance."
"But I'm not."
"Shouldn't I have a say?" he asked, slightly exasperated. "Shouldn't this be my choice?"
"No," Buffy said. "This is my choice and I've already made it. I won't hurt you."
Giles brought her hand to his chest and she could feel the beating of his heart.
"I am human. I'm not going to turn evil. I love you desperately, and Buffy, the only thing that you could do that would break me would be to get on that plane."
Her lower lip began to quiver as tears blurred her vision.
"Please, Buffy," he whispered.
And for a moment she almost gave in, wanting nothing more than to be in his arms. But better judgment and an angry cough from the security guard broke the spell. She gently removed her hand from his.
"I'm sorry, but I just can't." With that she stepped forward, putting her bag on the belt. "I'll call you when I get there."
She resolutely turned her back on him and stepped through the checkpoint, refusing to look back.
x x x x x x x x x x
Giles just stood there, not even able to breath, until another frustrated cough from the security guard brought him back into focus. He wanted to tell the man that he was sorry, but he couldn't find the will to speak the words. He slowly walked a few feet away to lean against a post.
He knew he should just go home, but he wasn't even sure he could find the exit right now. His body was trembling, his eyes filled with tears and his heart was broken. He had come so close to having what his heart had yearned for, only to lose it to irrational fear.
He looked up at the clock, seeing that it was two minutes past ten, knowing that her plane was gone and she was on her way away from him. He wanted to die, but he knew that his fates weren't that kind. He drew in a shuttering breath and pushed himself off the pillar. He had to accept that he'd lost her and move on. After all, wasn't that what his life was all about?
He was just turning to leave when he saw something out of the corner of his eye. He turned to see Buffy standing just ten feet from him. Tears were streaming down her face.
"I…I couldn't…" Her voice broke and he rushed to her in three long strides. "I'm sorry…I…I just couldn't…"
He pulled her into his arms, kissing her forehead, her eyes, her cheeks.
"Oh, my dearest, thank you for coming back to me."
"But…Giles, this is bad. I'll hurt you. My dream said so. It told me I was going to get you killed."
"I don't think so. I think it was just trying to let you know the power you hold over me. And you do. You are my life and you hold my heart. But I am willing to take the risk. Do you think you could love me as I love you?"
"I already do," Buffy said, relaxing into his arms.
"Then shall we go home?" he asked, moving to stand beside her, but not letting her out of his arms.
"Home? As in your place?"
"As in our home," he said softly. "That is if you'll consent to move in with me."
"Moving a little fast, aren't we?" Buffy asked with a smile.
"Buffy, I have loved you for over five years. Isn't that slow enough?"
"Good point," Buffy said, wrapping her arm around his waist.
"Is that a yes?"
"It is," Buffy replied, learning against him as they walked. "Giles?"
"We're going to be very careful, aren't we? If I lost you…"
"You won't lose me," he said, stopping and turning to gently stroke her face. "I am yours, body, heart, and soul. And yes, I will be careful if you promise to do the same."
"That's a deal," Buffy said, stretching up to kiss him. He returned the kiss, enjoying the softness of her lips.
After a moment, he broke it and they resumed walking towards the exit.
"You do know my luggage is on its way to Rome."
"I do. We'll tell the airlines to send it back."
"And until it gets here? Giles, I have no clothes or shampoo."
"Hmm. As much as I like the idea of you without clothes, it might not be such a good idea with Willow and Xander there. I suppose we'll just have to go and purchase you some more."
"A shopping date?" Buffy asked with a laugh. "You are just the best boyfriend ever."
"I'm going to try to be," Giles said, pulling her closer to him as they walked. "For the rest of our lives, I'm going to try to be."