A/N: This was my obligatory 'What happened next?' scene from Helpless ;-) Here is my take on what *should* have happened after Travers left them alone in the library (in an ideal B/G world). Confessions abound and smoochies ensue... If Buffy/Giles freaks you out, run away now! Seriously, go! It's no good coming to me and complaining later that you're scarred for life...
Disclaimer: All characters belong to Joss, WB, Fox, Mutant Enemy, etc. etc. Not mine. Not making me any money. I'm just having a little fun with them.
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Buffy looked into Giles' eyes as he gently sponged the cut on her forehead. He was the only person who treated her like that, as if she were fine bone china that might break if handled too roughly. She knew it didn't diminish his respect for her abilities and her strength. It was simply a sign of how much he cared about her. Travers had brought that long-unspoken affection into the open with his scathing speech and for the first time Buffy was forced to consider just what she and Giles really meant to each other.
She didn't always treat him very well. She knew that. What she hadn't realised until today was just how much power he had to hurt her, more than anyone else in her world, even Angel. His apparent betrayal had struck her so hard that for a moment she thought she knew what Angel must have felt as she sentenced him to Hell with one thrust of that sword.
In the end, though, Giles had come through for her, even at the cost of what was not just a job to him, but a calling, a sacred duty. And he had given that up for her. It made her feel humble and more than a little uncomfortable. Giles kept his emotions bottled up so tightly under all that tweed that it was easy to forget what a passionate man he was. What Buffy wanted, no needed, to know right now was how exactly that passion extended to her.
She watched him tending to her wounds and wondered. The expression on his face didn't look fatherly. She wasn't sure what it looked like - a little fierce, a lot concerned and with a sort of vulnerable tenderness shining through that made her heart ache. That was when she realised that she didn't want him to see her as a daughter at all. What was between them was so much more than that. They were like mirror images of each other's soul. Xander and Willow were wonderful friends but she knew that the only one who truly understood her and all that she had been through was this quiet, capable man who watched over her. She didn't want to begin to imagine her life without him in it.
She reached out and placed her hands on either side of his face, forcing him to look at her. "Giles," she whispered, her heart in her throat. "Is it true, what he said?"
His lashes flickered but he held her gaze. "That I love you?" he said quietly, before his lips quirked in that familiar smile. "I'm afraid so."
But Buffy shook her head. "No... that you think of me as a daughter..."
He looked steadily at her for one endless moment, as if considering his reply. "No, Buffy. That is not how I think of you."
She let out the breath she'd been holding without even noticing the ache in her lungs. "How do you love me, then? As a friend?"
He placed his hands over hers, which still caressed his face softly, as if absorbing those familiar features. "Yes," he said and her heart sank. She tried to pull away but he held her hands firmly in one of his before tipping her chin up with the other so she had no choice but to look at him. "But that's only one part of what I feel for you. You are the strongest, bravest woman I have ever known and, with all the tragedy that you've dealt with, you still manage to brighten the lives of everyone you touch. I know you brightened mine.
"You're honest and loving and you have a tremendous integrity and, despite what I may have said when we first met, the world couldn't be in safer hands. I can't imagine any man who could know you and not love you. And I... I would die for you in a heartbeat, even if I had never been a Watcher."
Buffy's eyes glistened as she absorbed what he had said, and all he had left unsaid. "I don't want *any* man," she said. "I just want... I *need* you."
His expression was startled and she marvelled at this man who had such low self-esteem that he couldn't imagine his feelings being returned. She chuckled. "Oh, Giles, I can't believe you never realised that I love you too."
"You... y-you do?" he stammered.
"Sometimes I think I always have. I had a terrible crush on you at first, you know." She smiled at his shocked expression and stroked her thumb across the palm of his hand. "But there was no way I was going to let anybody guess. I acted kind of like those little boys in the playground who pull the pigtails of the girls they like. I figured if I was always teasing you, you wouldn't realise that I actually liked you. Then I tried to put it out of my mind and move on. I mean, I didn't think you'd ever see me that way and spending the rest of my life mooning over my Watcher was never gonna be of the good. I thought I'd managed it, that maybe it *had* been just a crush and I was over it... until today."
"I'm so sorry for what I did, Buffy. If I could take it back..."
"Shh." She placed a finger lightly against his lips. "I forgive you."
He looked at her sadly. "I don't know how you can."
"You've forgiven me for far worse, you know. That's what we do when we love someone." She smiled and inched closer. "You know, there's one way for me to prove to you how I feel."
"You m-mean..." Giles' reply was lost as Buffy's lips touched his tenderly and his world rocked upon its axis. One hand crept up into her hair and cradled her head as he responded helplessly to her kiss. She sighed happily and cuddled closer and Giles took shameless advantage of the opportunity to deepen the kiss. If this was all he would ever have of his darling Buffy, he was going to enjoy every second of it. But she didn't pull away - she responded and clung to him as if he were the answer to every dream she had ever had. He pulled away slowly, amazed, and stared down into those bright hazel eyes.
"I'll be damned. You *do* love me," he said.
Buffy smiled up at him happily. "I told you so," she said and pulled him down for another kiss.