When a Plan Backfires
Summary: Willow tries her hand at matchmaking, only to have it backfire on her.
Timeline: Season 4, after Oz left, but before Hush.
Disclaimer: BtVS characters belong to Joss Whedon / Mutant Enemy. I claim no rights to any copyrighted material. Please do not copy or take this story without my permission.
"I'm telling you, Giles; it'll work. Just trust me on this!"
Giles didn't seem entirely convinced. "It just seems awfully risky – deceiving her like this."
"Well, unless you're willing to pour your heart out to her, this is the way to do it," Willow countered, making it clear which option she thought he should take.
He sighed, "I guess. I just hope you're right, Willow."
"Of course I am. Who knows Buffy better than her bestest friend?" Willow answered confidently.
Buffy and Willow's dorm room
A couple days later…
"I'm sorry, Buffy, but I can't help you patrol tonight. I already have plans. Maybe Xander could assist you."
Buffy heard the dial tone from her Watcher hanging up on her. 'Was Olivia back in town?' she wondered sadly. That was the only time that he had brushed her off like this before.
Willow came in before she could sink any deeper into her bad memories. Something was different about her redheaded friend – she seemed happier than she had been since before the Veruca thing and Oz's subsequent departure. "Hey, Wills? Did ya want to go out with me tonight? We could have a girls' night once I finished my patrol."
"No can do, busy tonight. Maybe tomorrow?" Willow replied as she began to change.
Stopping herself from sighing, Buffy answered as enthusiastically as she could, "Sure. Whatcha up to?"
Willow suddenly grew nervous and tried to bluff, "Oh…uh, just helping Rup-- Giles out with some Watcher stuff."
"Rupert? Since when do you call Giles 'Rupert'?" Buffy asked with a frown, wondering what was going on – and why was Willow getting dressed like that for a night with Giles?
"Well, we are in college now. It only makes sense for us to be on a more adult-like basis with him, don't you think?" Willow tried to argue logically.
Buffy considered it. He never said anything to her about calling him something different. "I guess. Does he want us to call him Rupert now?"
Willow shrugged, "You'd have to ask him." She looked at the clock. "Oops, better go. Don't want to keep him waiting!"
"'K. Bye, Wills," Buffy said, still unsure about what was going on.
"Seeya, Buff!" Willow called out over her shoulder.
The next couple weeks went on like that: Buffy asking Giles or Willow for help, only to find out they were spending their time together. Not that they were shutting her out – sometimes they would help…but then would take off right away once they were finished.
Then there were the looks.
Willow would sneak glances at Giles when the gang was researching; Giles would glance back. They each had small smiles on their faces, too. Buffy asked Xander about it, but he was too distracted by Anya to worry about them.
"Just be happy that Wills isn't mopey anymore, Buff. Plus, there's nothing bad about G-man being good too, is there?" Xander asked.
Buffy sighed, "I guess not, but doesn't it surprise you a little…you know, if they are together like that?"
"Maybe a little, but it's not like any of us have normal social lives. Or is the problem that you're jealous of them?" he suggested with a look.
Instantly, Buffy shouted, "No!" At his look of disbelief, she looked down. "Okay, maybe just a little bit. But you're right, what matters is that they're happy!" she finished, trying to convince herself as well as Xander.
Xander gave her a one-armed hug. "That's my girl. Don't worry, you'll find your guy too. I promise."
Buffy gave him a cheerless smile. "Thanks Xan. Go…have fun with Anya. And please tell me nothing about it!" she pleaded.
Giles looked at the young wicca in his apartment. "Are you sure it's working, Willow?"
"Sure, I'm sure. Every time I 'slip up' and call you Rupert, she gets this jealous look in her eye," she promised.
"But shouldn't she have done something by now? When she showed up during Olivia's visit, her reaction was instantaneous," he pointed out.
Willow waved off his concern. "Yeah, but that time she practically caught you….That's it! She has to see us together!" she shouted in triumph, figuring out that that was the reason her plan hadn't worked yet.
Horrified at the suggestion, Giles demanded, "What? Are you out of your mind?!"
"Not like that! But maybe like cuddles and stuff. I know, we'll have a Scooby movie night, and you and I can act like we're together. Right now, it seems like maybe there's just mutual interest or something," she explained to him.
Giles took off his glasses and started to polish them in an effort to calm down. "I don't know; this is starting to get complicated."
Willow gave him a look. "Well, are you ready to tell her how you feel?"
Resigned to his fate, Giles conceded, "Fine. Plan the movie night."
Buffy and Willow's dorm room
"C'mon Buffy! We haven't had a Scooby night without there being some big bad to research. You don't want us drifting apart, do you?" Willow pleaded with her puppy look.
Buffy whimpered silently. Why was her best friend torturing her like this? "Course not, Wills. If it's really that important to you, then sure…I'll be there with bells on – only not literally, 'cause that'd be weird."
Willow smirked once she turned around. This would take care of things for sure! "Good."
The movie night was going along swimmingly for everyone…except Buffy. She managed to hide her reactions, but the longer the night went on, the more she felt her heart being ripped out. It would have been bad enough just being the fifth wheel on a double date. But when she loved one of the guys from one of the couples…it was like torture. And they weren't even officially dating yet.
Seriously, the night started out innocent enough – with Willow and Giles sitting near each other, but not touching. Then, Willow slowly slid towards Giles. Then Giles put his arm around Willow and started caressing her arm. Then Willow leaned into Giles and wrapped her arm around his body. The final straw for Buffy was when Giles started pressing chaste kisses in Willow's hair.
She needed to escape.
But how to do that without seeming like she wasn't happy for her friends? 'Cause she was…honestly, she was. She couldn't think of two people who deserved happiness more. Except for Xander and her mom – and please don't let the Powers take that the wrong way! But even though she was happy for them, it didn't mean that her own heart wasn't breaking.
And worst of all, it probably was her own fault. All those hurtful comments she made about him not being attractive. It probably didn't matter anyhow. She was just his Slayer. That's all she had to offer him. At least Willow was smart enough to share his interests and could keep him challenged mentally.
She went to the kitchen when she felt a tear threatening to escape.
Since they were watching 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail', crying would be completely out of place.
Giles followed her when he saw her hurry out, hoping that this charade would finally be done with and she'd say something. "Are you alright?" he asked gently when he heard her sniffle.
Startled, Buffy quickly wiped at her face. "Fine. Uhh, actually, not really. I'm starting to get a headache, so I think I'm just going to take off," she tried to rush past him.
But he grabbed her arm. "Are you sure? I've got aspirin if you want," he offered, wondering if this was a cover or not.
Buffy shook her head, "Nah, that's not necessary. I'm starting to feel like a fifth wheel anyway. You guys enjoy your night. I know that I haven't said it before, but you and Willow weren't really clear about your relationship before tonight, so I'll just say it now. I'm happy for you two. Take care of each other or I'll hurt whichever one of you hurts the other. Got it?"
And before he could respond, she ran from the apartment.
Willow watched her best friend flee the apartment. "Where'd Buffy run off to?" she asked when Giles came back in the room.
Giles sat down at his desk looking stunned. "She claimed to have a headache. As well as not wanting to feel like a 'fifth wheel'."
"Well, poop. That wasn't supposed to happen!" Willow declared, biting her lip in frustration.
Xander looked between his two friends in confusion. "What wasn't? Something going on here, guys? Aside from you two making with the smoochies?"
The Watcher's head snapped up at Xander's less than surprised comment. "Where did you hear that?"
"The Buffster, of course," Xander replied calmly, still trying to figure out what he missed.
Willow glared at him. "You talked to Buffy about me and Giles? Why didn't you say anything?"
Xander just shrugged, "Figured that you'd tell us when you were ready. What 's the big deal?"
"How did Buffy react?" Willow asked, anxious for some feedback. Buffy had been more closed-mouth about it than she expected.
"She was worried about how I felt about it. And she admitted to being a little jealous. But then she realized that your guys' happiness was more important than her feeling left out," he told the increasingly upset pair.
Giles slammed his hand on the desk as he stood. "Dammit!" he cursed.
Startled, Xander demanded, "What's going on here? I feel like there's something I'm missing."
Willow winced at her miscalculation. Either she misread Buffy's feelings, or she underestimated her friend's selflessness. Neither option made her happy. "It was fake."
"What was?" Xander questioned, still perplexed.
"Me and Giles. We were only pretending to be together to get Buffy to admit how she really felt about him," Willow explained.
"Why didn't you just ask her?" Anya asked bluntly, as was her style.
Giles ran his hands through his hair. "I'm starting to wonder that myself. I didn't believe Willow and wasn't willing to risk looking like a fool in case she was wrong."
In sudden understanding, Anya casually remarked, "Oh, you mean about Buffy loving you like I love Xander?"
"You knew too?" Giles looked dismayed at how obvious he had been.
"Sure. Didn't everyone?" the former vengeance demon looked around at the others.
Xander answered for them, "Ah, not really Ahn."
Anya shrugged, "I just figured that she didn't want to risk losing Giles in case the demons ever found out about them."
Setting that problem aside, Xander asked, "So what now?"
Grabbing his coat and car keys, Giles went to the door. "Now I do like I should have done before, I simply tell Buffy the truth and hope that she'll forgive me."
Before he could get out, Xander called him back, "Umm, are you sure you want to do that, G-man? Buffy might be hurt by the fact that you tricked her – with Willow, her best friend, no less."
"Don't call me that. And no, I'm not sure, but look where sneakiness has gotten me so far," Giles pointed out bleakly.
Willow looked concerned that she had screwed things up again – this time without even using magick. "I can tell her if you want. After all, it's my fault," she offered, mentally calculating how many cookies this might take.
Giles shook his head, "No. You told me I should just say something. It's my responsibility."
"Well, good luck; we're all rooting for you," he heard called out as the door closed.
Buffy and Willow's dorm
Giles rushed to the dorm room, only to find that Buffy wasn't there. He started to worry. What if she went patrolling in her emotional state? Now that he had a clearer head, he could see that she'd been very upset – not with a headache like she claimed – but with the thought of him and Willow being a couple. He only hoped it meant what Willow and Anya believed it did…and that she would still feel the same way after she learned the truth.
Before he got out to his car, he saw Buffy walking back to the building, eating an enormous bowl of ice cream. He dared not get his hopes up too high; it may not mean the same thing it did when Angel left Sunnydale. Or at least not for the same reasons he was thinking of. Maybe she really did feel like a fifth wheel.
"Buffy?" Giles saw the tear tracks on her face and felt wretched. "My dear girl, whatever is the matter?"
Buffy looked up in surprise. "What are you doing here? Shouldn't you be at home with Willow?"
He caught the small hitch in her voice when she said her friend's name – like she had a hard time getting it out.
Seeing the crowd of young people walking around, Giles tried to get her in a more private setting for their conversation. "Let's go to your room to talk about it."
Sort of worried, Buffy didn't even put up a token protest. "Fine."
When they got to the room, Buffy looked at her ice cream, then at Giles, before deciding to put it in her freezer for later. She figured that she'd need the comfort food after he left.
"So, what's up?" she asked as she sat on her bed.
Giles pulled off his glasses and began to clean them. "I'm afraid I made a rather horrible mistake, Buffy."
Her heart skipped a beat at the familiar act. Then she squashed the feeling, reminding herself that it wasn't her place to think that way about him – it was Willow's. "What do you mean?"
"You see, a while back, Willow came to me to ask about my feelings…for you," he quickly added, hoping that she'd be able to come to the right conclusion.
But her head wasn't very coherent at the moment so she just asked, "Me? Why me?"
Sighing, Giles went on to explain, "Seems she got it in her head after Oz left, that life was short and feelings shouldn't remain hidden if there was a chance that they would be returned in kind."
Buffy just wished he would get it over with. She really needed a good cry in private so she could get back to being happy for her friends. "What are you talking about, Giles?"
"Willow told me that the reason you were so upset about Olivia was because you were jealous of her. And Anya seems to agree. Are they right, Buffy?" he asked her hopefully.
Now she was really confused. "What difference does that make? You're with Willow now, and you're happy. That's all that matters," she finished, looking at her hands as if they held the secrets to the universe somehow.
Giles knelt in front of her and pulled her chin up with one of his hands. "But neither of those things are true, Buffy. I'm not really with Willow, and I'm not happy," he declared earnestly.
"But tonight-- with the cuddling-- and the smoochies? And all the times the past couple weeks where you two were together?" Buffy wondered, still trying to catch up to what he was implying.
"Part of Willow's plan to open your eyes and make you see me as a desirable man. She said since I was too much of a coward to just tell you how much I love you, that making you jealous was the next best option," he told her, hoping that she would forgive his foolish actions.
Buffy gave him a wounded look. "So, this was just some kind of game for you two?"
He felt like a heel. "No! Of course not!" he insisted vehemently.
But she turned away from him. "I think you need to leave now. I can't look at you right now," she explained heartbrokenly.
Giles reached out his hand to comfort her, only to pull it back when he realized she didn't want it – from him at least. "I understand. I am sorry, Buffy," he murmured as he made his way out the door.
Buffy figured it was only a matter of time before Willow came back to the room, and she wasn't ready to see her best friend either. She packed an overnight bag and headed back home.
"Buffy! Not that I'm not happy to see you, but what are you doing here?" Joyce called from the living room when she heard her daughter come in.
"I just had to get away from the dorm tonight. I hope you don't mind," Buffy answered tightly.
Then Joyce saw the tear streaks on her daughter's face. "What's wrong? Did you have a fight with Willow?"
Buffy shook her head, "Not exactly, but I don't want to see her right now."
Joyce grabbed her hand and pulled her towards the kitchen. "Let's get some hot chocolate, then you can tell me all about it."
After they settled back on the couch with their mugs, Joyce asked, "So what happened?"
Buffy haltingly spilled out the story of Willow's plan to make her jealous, and how it was supposed to get her to admit her feelings for her Watcher.
"Did it work? Are you ready to admit how you feel about him?" the elder Summers woman wondered aloud.
The younger one just snorted in reply, "Mom, I've known how I felt for-- well, since I started to feel that way," she finished helplessly.
Joyce had her own idea of when it happened, but she still asked, "How long has that been?"
Buffy leaned back into the couch cushions. "The first time I realized it was when Wesley showed up. The look on Giles' face-- it was as if he were afraid that I would care about Wesley instead of him. It felt like a punch to the gut, because it made it clear to me that my feelings for him weren't just Watcher/Slayer related anymore."
"Why didn't you say anything to him?" her mother prodded.
Buffy just gave her a incredulous look. Why was she taking this so calmly? "Besides my track record in romance? He deserves someone better, Mom. Someone who'll be around 10 years from now," she answered with a touch of bitterness in her voice.
Joyce reacted to the last statement angrily. "Don't say that!"
"I'm sorry, Mom, but it's true. It's a miracle I've survived this long," Buffy apologized. "And anyway, I never expected him to feel the same way about me. I'm not in the same league as Miss Calendar, Olivia, you or Willow – even though that turned out to be fake. She really would be a better choice for him. She's so much smarter and well-rounded than I am. I'm just the muscle."
Narrowing her eyes, Joyce made her daughter look her in the eyes as she remarked, "First, there was nothing to Mr. Giles and me; that was purely the result of that candy. But more importantly, I never want to hear you speak of yourself like that again! Do you hear me, young lady? The only reason your grades aren't up there with Willow's is because of your slaying."
Before Buffy could protest, she continued, "I know the others help you out with research and stuff, but the responsibility rests on your shoulders, not theirs. You are the one who has nightmares about the ones you couldn't save; about every single time they got injured; about every time you got injured."
Buffy smiled sadly at the strong woman next to her. "I think the Council is crazy for not letting Slayers keep their moms; you make a great cheerleader. Thanks." She gave her mother a hug, then was surprised by a yawn. "All these heartfelt confessions has taken a lot out of me; I'm going to head up to bed. Thanks again for listening and not freaking out on me."
Joyce shrugged at the unasked question. "Granted, he may not be who I pictured when you were growing up, but I doubt that he was who you pictured either. All that matters is that you care for each other. It helps that he wants to keep you alive as much as I do. Are you going to forgive them soon?"
"My head understands what they were doing and why, but right now my heart remembers every break from the past few weeks from watching and hearing them be together. It may have a harder time forgetting that," Buffy said as she made her way up the stairs, attempting to hold her tears in until she made it to the safety of her room.
Joyce glared at Giles and Willow when she stormed in to his apartment a half hour later. "Congratulations. You two have sent my daughter home in tears," she declared.
They had been sitting there, trying to figure out how to fix the mess they created. Unfortunately, they couldn't come up with anything, but wait until she was ready to listen to their apologies.
Willow spoke first, "I'm sorry, Mrs. Summers. I just thought she would react, not give up," she explained lamely.
"And I was a coward for not admitting my feelings to begin with," Giles added.
They both looked truly wretched, but Joyce still wanted to make them suffer…just a bit. Starting with Giles. "You're right; you are a coward. And you…" she turned to Willow with a disappointed expression, "…Didn't it occur to you that she wouldn't want to get in the way of the happiness of two of the people she cared most about in the world?"
Shaking her head, Willow answered, "Not until it was too late. Will she forgive us?"
Joyce sighed, her anger already slipping away. "She said her head has, but her heart only remembers all the pain from the past few weeks. I'm going back to my daughter. You'd better start thinking of a way to make this better for her."
A week later, Buffy was still staying at her mother's. She was going to classes and patrolling, but avoided Willow and Giles. Even in the classes she shared with her redheaded friend, she sat in a different part of the room. And she just left notes for Giles to tell him what happened during her patrols.
Surprisingly, it was a conversation with Cordy of all people to turn things around for the heartbroken Slayer.
Calling to check up on her old friends, Cordy called Buffy's mother's house, since that was the only number she remembered. Well, she remembered Xander's, but that wasn't about to happen. She was surprised to get Buffy; she thought Mrs. Summers would give her Buffy's dorm number. But she recovered quickly and inquired with her usual tact, "So, what's going on back in Sunnyhell? You and Giles finally get off your butts and start dating yet?"
Stifling a sob at the memories, Buffy responded as casually as she could, "No. He and Willow decided to force me to admit my feelings by pretending to be a couple, though."
Cordy snapped in annoyance, "What are they…deficient? She's the last person to use in a situation like that! Or maybe your mother. But still! If they wanted to make you jealous, they should have used somebody you didn't care about! Hire someone if necessary. Or just do the phantom girlfriend routine – although not literally, 'cause then you might have to banish her."
Buffy quickly interrupted what seemed to be turning into a babble, "I get what you mean, Cordy. It wouldn't hurt so much if it had been a stranger," she admitted quietly.
"But you understand his desperation, don't you?" Cordy defended the man she cared for as a substitute father. Certainly, he cared more about her than her own did.
"What do you mean?" Buffy asked.
Rolling her eyes, Cordy figured she'd have to spell it out. "Oh, you two are the most emotionally-stunted people I've ever met! There's no way that he would ever believe that you cared about him like that – no matter how many people told him! My guess is that even if you told him, he'd find a way to not believe it. Especially since you're 'action girl'. Until he saw how you feel about him, he'd convince himself it was just wishful thinking on his part."
Buffy couldn't help the hopeful tone in her voice, "You think so?" She needed to believe there wasn't any other option for Giles and Willow.
Cordy sniffed in her self-important way, but it was clear she was only pretending now, "I know so. I'm Queen C, after all; I know about these things. Now, get over your pity party and make with the smoochies. And please, never give me details! I so do not need that mental image."
"Thanks, Cordy. You guys take care of yourselves," Buffy replied, her heart feeling lighter than it had in months.
"Same to you, slaygal," Cordy shot back.
Twenty minutes later, Buffy was standing in her Watcher's doorway. "Giles, can we talk?"
Giles stepped back to let her in as he started his apology, "Of course! I'm so sorry. I really should have--"
Buffy just cut him off, though, "You don't have to explain, Cordy did for you."
"Pardon?" he asked, clearly confused.
"I talked to Cordy a little while ago and she explained that you wouldn't believe words from me about how I feel, just actions. That's why you did what you did." Then she leaned over and gave him a light kiss on the lips.
When Giles finally regained use of his brains, he sighed, "Remind me to send her a thank you."
"Still trying to make me jealous?" Buffy teased.
Pulling her into his arms, Giles declared, "Never again!"
Happily curling into his side, Buffy explained the flaw in their plans, "Well, if you do, just don't use somebody I care about, 'k?"
A/N: I couldn't help myself; I was reading a fanfic titled 'The green eyed monster' by Catchoo on the site, , and thought, 'What if the plan blew up in their faces?'