"I…I can't believe it!" Willow exclaimed. "She seemed so…friendly and not cuckoo…"

"They always do," Buffy shrugged.

Xander came running in from the bathroom where the cuckoo was asleep in the shower. "I so told you! I knew she was a big bad!"

"This from the man who insists Artie, the town baker, is really half fly," Giles grunted, nursing the return of his headache.

"I'm telling you, his eyes move funny and he buzzes when he walks," he defended.

"But he did know about her," Willow offered. "I just thought she was distracted. She'd been so helpful before…"

"Bad guys are good at pretending to be good guys. I guess her plan was to kill me off with her pet…Alexminttoss oxyohnostril…"

"Alimentous Oxonous," Willow provided.

"Yeah. That. When it didn't, she decided to try to kill me anyway. She figured I'd be Buffy the sickly Slayer, but you guys gave us that feel good thing and I was up to the not-challenge of fighting her."

"What did she want you dead for anyway?" Xander asked.

Giles looked at her and she looked at him, quickly lying, "Oh. Just the usual anti-Slayer fan club with their annual effort to slay me."

"I'm sorry she put your through that! At least the feathers will be in tomorrow and we can make the cure," Willow said, always looking on the bright side.

"I thought it'd be awhile longer," Giles responded.

"Anya pulled some strings," Xander grinned proudly. "I mean that literally. Some demon she knew knows some guy with a pet raven, so she called in a favor and yanked on his abnormally long eyebrows until he agreed."

"Oh. That's…sweet of her," Buffy nodded, sending a sad expression towards her Watcher.

"Sure was. Say, I'm going home after this. Do you want me to deliver the crazy one to the hospital on my way?"

"Yes. That would be extremely helpful. Hubert will be around to get her by the end of the week. Tell them he'll be the one checking her out," Giles answered.

"Hubert?" Buffy snorted.

"There's a reason we went by Ripper and Hellraiser, you know," he sighed nostalgically.

"Hellraiser?" she laughed again.

"That was his bloody idea, not mine. Those were different times…"

Xander went to the door. "I'll be going, then. Anya's waiting up for me. Will, can you help me with the insane lady or should I deal on my own?"

"I'll help," she promised, walking alongside him. "See you tomorrow with the cure!"

They waved and waited to speak until the Scoobies had gone with Patrice.

"So, the cure is going to be here tomorrow…" Buffy began.

"It appears so."

"No more quarantine."

"No."

"Maybe that whole sorting out thing should happen now."

"You're right. It should."

"I just feel like—" Buffy said at the same time Giles began,

"I don't know what—"

"—all of the sudden—"

"—is the best course of action—"

"—the stuff I thought was Watcher's pet syndrome—"

"—however, I do think we should be cautious—"

"—is really not. It's really me—"

"—since our lives would change a great deal—"

"—and really you really being something else—"

"—so perhaps we should wait a few days—"

"—that I never thought could be real—"

"—before seeing each other to make sure—"

"—but now I really think it isn't unreal but is actually real—"

"—that our feelings are true and we wish to, maybe—"

"—and we're really going to make this something realistic."

"—be together, but only after a pause."

"What?" they said in unison.

"Someone has to say something first and the other has to play the quiet game," she announced.

"All right. You go first."

"No, you go."

"Are you sure? It would be rude of me to go first when—"

"Just go or we'll be stuck here until Carrot Top wins an Oscar."

"Oh dear. Well, in that case, I said that I'm not sure what the best course of action happens to be, but I do think we should be cautious. There's still a chance our behavior is simply from the supernatural element in this situation. I'm not necessarily saying I believe that. However, I want to be sure it's not before we proceed. This is nothing to be taken lightly. A few days apart after the cure should quell any doubts. From there, we may decide things further."

She digested the typically long Giles logic, feeling a bit disappointed. He was always the coolheaded one. She was always the impetuous, stake-first-ask-later one.

"Okay," she agreed. "That's a good plan. A very…safe plan."

"Do you have anything to add?"

A million thoughts came to her, but she shook her head no. He was pretty set on his decision, and it sounded better than what she came up with, so that was that.

"All right. We'll enjoy our last day of lying about and then it's back to work," he sighed. "I was actually becoming fond of being bedridden."

"Except the achy part," she replied, absentmindedly curling into his side. He draped an arm around her and she continued, "and the constantly being attacked part."

"True."

"Goodnight, Giles."

"Goodnight, Buffy."

He fell asleep rather quickly. She stayed up, listening to him, wondering if her feelings would go away with raven feather goop. Each time she thought it, she hugged him a bit tighter. It was early morning when she fell asleep and almost noon when Xander and Willow woke them.

"Para aceta mol mino ilide phen ifebrin, banesin crocin dapa dolo tam tap en anol."

The liquid flashed yellow and Buffy eyed it carefully. Giles did the same thing, asking gently, "Are we sure about the feathers?"

"Anya watched them be plucked from the raven herself," Xander assured them.

"A real Lenore squawking raven," Willow nodded.

"What?" Xander and Buffy said.

"Poe reference again," Giles mumbled.

"Right. Knew that," Xander weakly responded with a laugh.

"That must have been one of the English classes I skipped while saving the world. Maybe," Buffy commented.

"Oh yeah. Use the Slayer excuse," he shot back.

"Can we not fight? I just…there's a cure, remember? Yay?" Willow interrupted. "We're getting back on their good side and I'd rather set the bad side aside, you know?"

"It's okay, Will. You're not on my staking list. Unless this doesn't work," Buffy warned.

They drank their cure, happily finding it was, in fact, a cure. Both Willow and Xander breathed a sigh of relief. Xander ran a hand around his neck, the one his head would stay safely fashioned to until he screwed up…again.

"So, we're officially on the side of good, right?" he inquired. "I can not sleep with my eyes open worrying you'll come at me with an axe?"

"Yes. Now, everything can go back to as it was. Buffy can go home to Dawn and leave my disheveled flat and tea behind. Training can wait a few days until we're strong again," he tacitly responded, patting her awkwardly on the shoulder. Their little plan would go into effect and everything would be as it was. No cozies, smoochies, cuddlies, or anything remotely –ies worthy with Giles. Totally Slayer/Watcher again. Nothing more.

"No."

"No what, Buff?" Xander swallowed nervously.

She looked Giles right in his pretty eyes, stating again, "No."

Everyone was completely baffled, even the G-man.

No to the plan. No to everything going back to the way it was. No to no cozies, smoochies, cuddlies, or anything remotely –ies worthy. No to the totally Slayer/Watcher relationship. No to nothing more. Yes to Giles. Her Giles. Yes, yeah, yup, yep, yeppers, and ya.

"Buffy? Are you feeling okay? Did it not work right?" Willow asked carefully.

"Yeah, it did. That's not what I meant," she answered, focusing on Giles. Before she could really think it through, the words spilled out. "During this little quarantine, we've had high fevers that almost killed us, a fight with Mr. Fugly that almost killed us, and a disturbing face off with some crazed fan girl that—guess what—was supposed to have killed us. That's a lot of almost killed for you and me. The point is, I've been in here with you and I don't know how long I'm gonna be with you before death number three—or one for you—separates us. I keep trying to write this off as a fever thing or say, 'The magic made me do it' and that's not it. I look back and now, more than ever, I know how much I can't lose you. You're Giles, my Giles, whether you're in tweed, silly costumes, or demon form. I don't need a few days for the cure to kick in to tell me what I've already known."

Xander and Willow looked between them in amazement, awe stricken into silence. They waited, along with Buffy, for Giles to reply.

"What is it you've known?" he said softly.

"Do I really have to spell it out for you? You're the smart one. I'm just the Slayer in need of watching."

"I won't believe it unless I hear you say it."

"I don't want things to go back to the way they were. I want to be with you."

"I want to be with you too, Buffy."

"Really?"

"Really, I do and forget about being cautious."

Without thinking, they kissed in front of the Scoobies. Xander covered his mouth, hoping it would keep him from vomiting and Willow quietly went, "Awww."

As soon as they pulled apart, Xander said, "I think I'm going to be sick."

"Shut up, Xander!" Willow snapped. "I was worried you two were together behind our backs, but I guess this is the first of the togetherness, huh?"

"Pretty much," Buffy nodded, pulling his arm around her shoulders. "And unless you want to be on my list again, Xand, I'd stop with the grossed out face. 'Kay?"

"Got it," he choked. "Good luck telling the others."

"I forgot about them," Buffy frowned.

"They won't cause a fuss," Giles shrugged confidently. "Surely, they'll see we're both adults, old friends, and incredibly close. If they don't, we'll threaten them with violence and bribe them with cookies."

"Right. What's the worst that could happen—off-color jokes from Anya for a few weeks and bratty laughter from my sister? That isn't too bad."

"Dawnster might feel it necessary to point out the G-man's…teenage escapade…with your mom…" Xander warned. "She sort of found out from Anya when we ran out of things to do babysitting awhile back…maybe."

"Okay, still not too bad. At least we're alive, together, and freed from quarantine!" Buffy exclaimed happily. "I'm finally free of the ickies. Well, we're finally free of the ickies."

"We are indeed," Giles agreed, placing a kiss to her forehead. "If I had to deal with a headache for another day, I'd have lost my mind."

"Same for me. If I had to see another box of tissues, someone or something was getting slayed."

"In that case, I'm glad the cure worked!" Willow smiled, "I was worried, I'll admit, albeit only a teensy bit. And now…now…now…" she started huffing, ending with a mighty sneeze. She held her nose in horror, squeaking, "There's a cold going around. It's not too bad or anything. I doubt you'd get it."

Buffy and Giles looked at each other, sneezing in unison. They looked angrily at the Wiccan. She gathered her things quickly, muttering, "Uh-oh…"

The end

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