A/N: Originally written in 2000 during Season 5, or as I call it 'The Riley Years', this was my attempt to address the shift in Buffy and Giles' relationship.
DISCLAIMER: I own nothing, it all belongs to Joss and the merry band of companies whose names I can never remember. Don't sue me 'cause I don't have anything you would want.
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The Penny Drops
Buffy flopped down into the booth opposite Willow and rested her head on her hands with a groan.
"Bad day?" Willow asked.
Buffy peered up through sun-streaked blonde hair and grunted noncommittally before snagging a passing waitress. "Can I get a half-fat latte, with three sugars and extra chocolate sprinkles?" she asked hopefully.
The waitress gave her a sympathetic look. "Man trouble?"
"One caffeine and sugar overdose coming right up, honey."
As the waitress walked away, Buffy glanced at Willow and sighed. "Men. Can't live with them, can't chop them up into itty bitty pieces and bury them in the garden... Not without getting arrested anyhow."
Willow smiled. "I'm gonna take a wild stab in the dark and guess Riley did something to tick you off."
"He's driving me crazy!" the Slayer said through gritted teeth.
"Well, I kinda guessed that part. What with all the, you know, 'chopping' remarks."
Buffy chuckled. "Guess I sounded kinda loopy, huh?"
"Just a little," Willow said.
Buffy pounced on the latte as the waitress brought it over and sipped at it with a heartfelt sigh. "Ah, coffee. You know where you are with coffee. No arguments, no cheating, no irrational jealousy..."
Willow latched on to the last comment. "Riley's been acting jealous again?"
"When is he not?" Buffy said with heavy irony. "But, this time really beats all, Will. Can you believe he's started interrogating me about the amount of time I'm spending with Giles, of all people?"
"Well, um, yes?" the redhead offered tentatively.
Willow explained hurriedly. "Oh, I know there's nothing actually going on, 'cause you know... it's you... and, and Giles. But, well, he wouldn't be the first person to get the wrong idea about the two of you."
Buffy's eyes widened in shock. "You mean... people have actually thought that me... and Giles were..." She couldn't bring herself to actually say it out loud. "Who? Who thought that?"
"Lots of people, Buffy. Most of the guys at school for a start. I mean, you do spend a lot of time together and there is kind of a, I don't know," she searched for the right word, "a rapport between the two of you. I mean, half the time the rest of us feel like you're having a private conversation."
She smiled but Buffy was still looking shell-shocked. "That was supposed to be a good thing," she pointed out anxiously, hoping to erase the worrying expression from her friend's face. "It's great that the two of you get on so well. You know, for the slaying and stuff."
"I never realised," Buffy said quietly. "I guess I just never thought of Giles in that way."
"Well, I certainly did," said Willow with a wicked grin. "I had the biggest crush on him for the first couple of years he was here. If I'd had to choose between him and Xander, it would have been a close call. It might even have gotten ugly."
"Really?" Buffy said, intrigued. "I never guessed. You don't think he's a bit, well, old?"
"Not particularly." Willow shrugged. "Men mature better than women, anyway. I mean look at guys like Sean Connery, Pierce Brosnan..."
"Sensing a 007 theme developing here, Will," Buffy said with a smirk.
"There are others too. How about Tom Selleck or ooh, ooh, Harrison Ford," she said, almost bouncing in her seat.
"Down, girl." Buffy said, secretly amused at her friend's enthusiasm. "I'm on board with the Harrison thing. Anyway, don't you think you're getting a little over-excited for someone who now plays for the other side?"
"Just because I'm happy with Tara, doesn't mean I can't still enjoy looking. I mean, men are like art..."
"What – two-dimensional and occasionally surreal?"
Willow giggled. "No. I mean, you can appreciate them like you would a beautiful painting or a sculpture, without actually wanting to, um, touch or... anything."
"I don't know, Will. I've always been more of a hands-on girl myself." As a mental picture of getting hands-on with her newly reinstated Watcher popped into her head, Buffy almost choked on her coffee. What was wrong with her today? Four years and she'd never once thought of Giles in that way. Well... apart from that weird dream a couple of years ago when she woke up all hot and sweaty... oh, and that time she'd found herself checking out his rear as he bent down to lift some heavy boxes. Buffy groaned. How had she managed to block out those memories until now? a little voice whispered in her mind.
"So, what are you gonna do about him?" Willow asked, interrupting her friend's reverie.
"I don't know, Will. I mean, I can hardly walk right up to him and say 'Oh, by the way, I think I may have repressed feelings for you, so how about a date sometime?'"
Willow's eyes widened until they looked too big for her face. "What?!"
"What?" Buffy looked puzzled.
"Buffy, I meant what are you gonna do about Riley?"
"Oh." The blonde Slayer blushed and took a sudden interest in the cup in front of her.
"Jeez, Will, keep the volume down. I think the whole coffee house is listening."
"Are you telling me you have... feelings... for Giles?"
"No, actually I wasn't telling you anything. It just kinda... slipped out."
"Then you do have feelings for him?"
"I don't know, Will. Mostly what I'm feeling is confused. It's all your fault, too. Until I came in here I was perfectly happy in Denial-land. I had no idea I even thought about Giles like that and now suddenly all I can think is 'Yummy' and 'How could I have wasted all this time?'" She banged her head down onto the table again, before saying in a muffled voice, "I need help, Will. Possibly psychiatric."
"Well, I can't do anything about that, but... another latte?"
Buffy nodded without raising her head. "Make it a double."