'Was that a yes?' Buffy asked, her eyes glued to the shattered glass.

'It's not... We're not… And besides, the Council fired me, so even if we were…' The Watcher's voice trailed off.

'If we were doing the wacky?' the small blonde supplied with a hesitant smile.

'Which we aren't,' Giles quickly replied before fishing out a handkerchief and removing his glasses for a quick polish. 'And since we aren't involved in that way I find the question rather moot' he finished virtuously, shooting a dark glare at the Slayer.

'Still sounds like a yes to me' she sulked. Giles raised a shoulder in defeat.

'There really is no need to worry about this, Buffy' he stated grudgingly. 'I am not going to get in trouble for getting… uh… groiny with my Slayer.' His subconscious sniggered. No, old man. What's going to get you in trouble is wanting to get groiny with your Slayer. The Watcher's lips twitched ironically. Indeed.

'Really really?' Buffy pressed on, still an uncertain tremble in her voice.

'Yes, really really' Giles growled impatiently as he bent down and started picking up glass shards. The blonde's troubled expression brightened.

'Cool' she said, beaming widely. 'So. Patrol..?' she continued, trying to force her uncooperative features into a sad pout. Giles gave the remaining glass fragments a resigned look.

'Five minutes, Buffy' he muttered. 'Longer if you keep pestering me.'

'Consider this a pester-free area, Grumpy Guy' the Slayer accepted. 'I'll get our weapon bags while you finish slaying the evil glass, shall I?'

'Please' he huffed up at her, failing to suppress an affectionate grin. Buffy grinned back and took a couple of steps towards the living room.

'Um… Giles..?' she mumbled shyly, the uncertain tone back in her voice.

'Yes?'

'You do know I… you know… kinda love you, don't you?'

The Watcher blinked at where she was hovering in the doorway, his subconscious losing some of its smugness. Although not the way you want her to, you berk, it observed with a forced smirk. Giles calmly ignored the inner voice with an ease only years of practice could bring.

'Y-yes. Thank you. It's… uh… good to know' he stuttered, looking down at the glass remains in front of him. 'I… uh… kind of love you too.'

Worrying her lower lip Buffy contemplated his bowed head.

'I don't want you to leave' she finally added in a small voice. 'I can't do this without you.'

Giles pulled himself to his feet and raised his suddenly very bright eyes to hers.

'I don't want to leave' he said ruefully. 'But you need a Watcher, Buffy. And much as I hate to admit it, Daniel is good at what he does.'

'But I already have a Watcher' she objected passionately. 'And the bestest one at that.'

'We both know I haven't been your Watcher for quite some time' Giles pointed out with a sad smile. Buffy's eyes widened guiltily.

'Wrong, Repentance Guy. You've always been my Watcher. It was me who wasn't your Slayer. Which is so going to change, by the way. Behold the new and improved Buffy 2.0. Totally user friendly. Very Watcher compatible.' Tilting her head she gave the Englishman an earnest look.

'Yes, and we all know how apt I am with the modern technology' he returned, his eyes softening as they met hers, informing her that no matter what had happened between them she was very much forgiven. 'Now, about those weapon bags...' he continued gruffly, his voice rich with unspoken emotions.

'On it.' She gave him one of those grins that made her look ten years old. 'Guess they must have forgotten to upgrade Buffy 2.0's memory capacity.'

'Five minutes' he warned her, his eyes following her as she left the kitchen. 'And Buffy...' She froze. 'I promise I'll never leave you' he said softly. 'Not unless you ask me to.'

She didn't turn around.

'I won't.'

XXXXX

'…and then maybe we could go for ice cream?'

Giles gave the excited Slayer an amused look.

'As I recall, my fridge is stuffed with chocolate cake leftovers' he reminded her.

'Well, we could get ice cream to bring home to the chocolate cake' she pouted. 'The chocolate cake might feel lonely. And then the ice cream comes, and the chocolate cake is all "Oh, hello Mr Ice Cream, nice to meet you" and the ice cream goes "Hello there, chocolaty goodness" because ice cream is very flirty, and then the chocolate cake goes "Well, don't you look good enough to eat" because chocolate cake? Very flirty too. And then…'

'And then we eat them?' Giles asked hopefully. Buffy looked up at him with an exuberant smile.

'And then we eat them' she agreed. Her smile vanished as a sudden movement from a nearby restaurant caught her eyes. 'Poophead at two o'clock' she informed the bewildered Giles, who, quickly scanning the area, finally spotted a handful of Watchers exiting The Haven.

'That is not two o'clock, Buffy' he complained.

'Yes, and that is of course the main issue here' she muttered with an affronted glare.

'Well, it would be nice to know that if we were to encounter a pack of vampires you wouldn't be giving directions in Greenwich Mean Time' the Englishman remarked sourly.

'So still not the issue. Besides, Poopy and friends are on their way over, so shut up and put out, Loverboy' the blonde hissed as she nuzzled up to her Watcher and put her right hand in his back pocket, squeezing gently. Giles yelped and glared down into her innocent eyes.

'You did that on purpose' he squeaked.

Buffy giggled uncontrollably at his incredulous expression.

'Hey, you have a very squeezable butt. I squeezed,' she finally managed between desperate gulps for air. Giles's brow furrowed. Buffy thought he had a squeezable butt? He waited for a cutting remark from his subconscious, but it seemed just as dumbfounded as he was.

'Ah. Yes. Um. Thank you.'

'You're welcome.' She gave him a breathless grin before turning towards the approaching Watchers with a less friendly expression. 'Hello, Daniel' Buffy greeted the blond man in a bored voice, careful to place herself between him and the by now very tense – and heavily armed – Giles. 'How nice to see you again' she continued with saccharine insincerity. 'Who are your playmates?'

Four Watchers tripped over each other in their eagerness to meet the Slayer, and she reluctantly removed her hand from Giles's pocket. Dan eyed the excitement with standoffish resentment.

'Well, isn't this cosy? Do you ever let the little woman out of your sight, Rupert, or are you too afraid she would go out and find someone better?'

'I'd say it's more a case of me wanting all this Watchery sexiness on tap' Buffy murmured, snuggling closer to the tall man besides her. 'And you know, dark and deserted graveyards?' She grinned suggestively at Daniel, deliberately wetting her lips. 'Very romantic. Very… aah… secluded...'

'Quite. Yes. Right. Uh. I think…' The befuddled man fell silent, his glazed eyes glued to her mouth.

'Good. Thinking? Definitely recommended' Buffy said flippantly. She gave the rest of the Watchers an amiable nod. 'Well, gotta go. Cemeteries to see, demons to kill. Sleep tight, gentlemen. Don't let the vampires bite.'

The Slayer laced her fingers through Giles's and turned to leave.

'Bye, Ripper.' Dan called after them, his voice regaining its malicious quality. 'See you tomorrow. Don't be late.'

Buffy shot the blond Watcher a heavy-lidded smile over her shoulder.

'Oh, I hope you don't expect him too early...'

XXXXX

'Okay, Secretive Guy. Share. What's tomorrow? And why does Poophead hate you so much?' Buffy demanded, crossing her arms and glaring at the mute Watcher.

'Hmm?' he hummed absentmindedly.

'Poophead not head of the Giles fan club – what's the what with that?' she tried again.

'Ah. Yes. The what.' The Watcher smiled sheepishly. 'I guess that would be you.'

'Um. Really not making much with the sense here, Giles' she observed. 'Why would he hate you because of me? Pretty sure I've never seen the guy before in my life.'

'Dan was lined up to be Watcher to the next active Slayer.' Giles rolled his eyes. 'Absolutely full of himself he was too, the wanker. And then you came along.' He grinned sardonically. 'Of course, an untrained American was not what ole Daniel had had in mind, so he convinced the Council to send Merrick instead.' The Englishman's expressive eyes warmed as they met the Slayer's. 'And then John died and the Council decided to clear up two of their problems in one go by sending me. We weren't supposed to survive those first months, you know.' Buffy nodded. 'But we did. And then we kept on surviving, making you the most successful Slayer in centuries.' Giles smirked at her. 'Which now makes you worthy of Dan's attention.'

'Oh, I truly am the chosen one' she muttered dryly. 'Okay, so Poopy hates you for being alive. Nice guy... What was that about tomorrow?'

The Watcher's face darkened.

'Ah. Yes. Tomorrow… I had quite a comfy chat with Travers earlier. Apparently I'm required to attend all of the bloody seminars on this retreat.' He glared back to where they'd left the Watchers. 'It's not like I ever got invited to any of the sodding things, and now they've gone and made me the fucking subject.'

Buffy gave him a sympathetic glance.

'Come on, Watcher mine. Let's go slay something.'

XXXXX

The Slayer cast a bad-tempered glare towards the stairs as she tried to curl into a more comfortable position. Giles's light snores kept drifting down, emphasizing the fact that she was still very much awake.

'…so he convinced the Council to send Merrick instead.'

Buffy stared unseeingly into the dark. What would her life had been like with Daniel as her Watcher? She rolled her eyes. Probably a lot shorter... She doubted that he would have cared about her. Not like Merrick had. Not like Giles did.

With a frustrated sigh she got to her feet and padded impatiently towards the kitchen. Life without Giles as her Watcher? Not to be contemplated without the addition of ice cream.

Armed with a spoon and a tub of Baskin-Robbins she puttered around the dimly lit flat, occasionally grinning at a particularly Gilesy touch. A Harry Potter book half hidden behind The Black Chronicles. An abandoned tea cup on the window sill. A pile of old leather bound books on the table beneath it. A photo album on top of a book shel... Buffy brightened. Watchery pictures to take her mind off her lack of sleep? Perfect!

Returning to the couch she opened the album and poured all over the photographs. The first snapshot was of her Watcher as a toddler. She giggled quietly. No tweedy diapers, but definitely adorable. Turning the sheets she smiled as every page revealed something new about the Englishman. Her eyes widened and she giggled again. Like the fact that he had been quite the little nudist in his early age...
Turning another leaf she came face to face with an adolescent Giles grinning shyly into the camera. Buffy's index finger trailed the angular features. Wow. Her Watcher had been a hottie! She turned eagerly to the next page only to find the spread filled with pictures of different girls fawning over Teenage Giles. She scowled irritably. God, wake up and smell the slutty already! Jealous again, huh? Of course not. Just disapproving from a feminist perspective. Pointedly ignoring anything else her subconscious might have to say she tilted her head and focused on her Watcher. Mmm. Beyond hot. And eerily Gilesy. Same smile. Same eyes. Same… She put the album down and eyed the stairs thoughtfully. How had she missed that Giles was a studmuffin? Umm… Shut up.

She shot the loft a hesitant glance, and, chewing her lower lip, got off the sofa and pattered over to the staircase. Carefully creeping up the steps she hesitated on the landing, anxiously listening to the Watcher's even breaths. Inching herself across the bedroom she perched herself on the wooden chair by the bed and examined the sleeping form intently. See? Yummy! She nodded, her eyes fixed on a well toned leg escaping from the sheets. Wow. Giles has legs. Um… yes? But… She waved indistinctly. Legs! Giles. Legs. Still with the yes. But Giles isn't supposed to have legs! Right. Hate to disagree with me there, but most people have them. Uh-uh. Not legs like that they don't. And, oh God, did I just ogle my Watcher? If I mean did I just look at him like I wanted to strip him of his clothes and go at it all night, then I'd definitely say so. Oh. Okay...
Her subconscious gave her a calculating look. I do remember Riley, don't I? Boyfriend. Muscely Guy. About yea high. Yeah. Sure. Whatever. Buffy's eyes were glued to the white T-shirt clinging to the Watcher's torso. So he wasn't as sculpted as Riley, but… ooh, chest hair. Her hand was impulsively reaching for the wisp of hair straying up over the neckline and her inner voice sighed resignedly. Like having a conversation with a fruit fly... What? Riley? Remember him? I guess, Buffy admitted petulantly. But… Watcher goodness on display! Her subconscious arched an eyebrow. Watcher goodness? Yes? What happened to eew? The Slayer pouted. Well, it was eewy with Olivia. With me… Her eyes widened. Had she been on the verge of saying "with me it would be yummy"? No. Of course not. Had she? Oh God, she had. Okay, think of Riley. She smiled. Riley… I like Riley's hands. Her eyes travelled to where her Watcher was holding his sheet in a death grip. They're not as sensual as Giles's, but they are nice… hands… Okay, what is going on? Her subconscious smirked. Looks like someone has the hots for her Watcher… Do not, she objected indignantly. Right. That's why I'm looking at Giles like Xander looks at his pictures of the Swedish Bikini Team then? I don't! Buffy hesitated. Do I? Mmhmm... But. Riley? Apparently Riley isn't bikini material... Oh, I am so not having this discussion. And I do not have the hots for my Watcher. She looked down at the sleeping Giles with a guilty expression. Much…