Hey everyone! I wrote another story. This time, it's actually short! Just this part and one other. I swear. No, seriously, I really promise this time! Two part fic! Less than 10,000 words! I'm hoping to write more stories like this if it turns out well. Lots of B/G scenarios I would like to explore, and this seems like a fun way to do it. Hope you guys will like it!
Title: Unguarded 1/2
Rating: This chapter is probably T. The fic as a whole is very much M.
Summary: After the events of Grave Buffy and Giles let their guard down, both emotionally and physically. Could they be something more than Watcher and Slayer, if only for one night?
Spoilers: Up to the end of season 6.
Disclaimer: I don't own BtVS or the characters. I just like to play with them (creepy Drusilla voice) like nice little dollies. :P
Unguarded: Part 1
Rupert Giles had developed quite a skill for assessing his own injuries over his years of keeping Watch here on the Hellmouth. He was an expert at telling whether the wounds were superficial, whether any bones were broken, if he would need stitches, whether or not he were concussed (more often than not), or if there was internal bleeding and a trip to the hospital looming in the near distance of his future.
In this particular case, Willow had beat the hell out of him. Fortunately, much of her damage had been magical in origin and execution. This left a stinging ache, but he had managed to avoid more traditional internal injury. Mostly. Being bashed against the ceiling and the floor had been a bit more worrisome, but the magic lent to him by the Coven had helped to cushion those blows to a certain extent. The thing that had caused him the most discomfort, in actuality, had been Willow's violent acquisition of that borrowed power, along with his own. It had been excruciating, like having all the life-force ripped out of him in one agonizing millisecond. His energy was sapped, and although there was no purely physical effect to speak of apart from a few sore ribs, the spiritual pain and loss of vitality had been paralyzing.
He had known that Xander had been successful in stopping the out of control witch instantaneously; at the very moment she released her hold on the magic Giles felt the vestiges of his own innate power drifting back to him, depleted but intact. He hadn't felt this magically shagged out since his demon-raising days, but it was a sensation he was willing to bear while secure in the knowledge that the world and his loved ones were now safe.
Once he had been able to move again, he had- with the overwhelmingly solicitous assistance of Anya- managed to deposit himself onto the couch in the Summers' living room. He was bruised, battered, and still slightly bloody along the side of his face. Anya had offered to clean the wound, but Giles hadn't felt up to any more of her enthusiastic attention just then. His coat had been removed and left in the entryway of the house, but the rest of his clothes were equally caked in dust from the scene of destruction at the Magic Box. His exhausted mind wondered how Joyce Summers would have reacted to the sight of Rupert Giles in his ultimate state of filth wreaking devastation unto her cushions. He must have looked quite a sight, really, but he was too tired to care.
Giles had just begun to drift off into a fitful sleep when he heard the door to the house open and slowly close. Hushed feminine voices whispered at the bottom of the stairs, and one set of feet began to climb them. The other footsteps approached the living room, now barely lit in the weakening light of dusk. In the doorway, he could see the outline of Buffy's form. Lit from behind, her features were obscured. After a few moments, she approached, quick steps carrying her across the room. Giles felt the couch sink just slightly as she knelt beside him, pressing a hand to his forehead tenderly as if to check his temperature. Buffy exhaled audibly, reassured by the evidence of his life force, the warmth carried by the blood that still pumped through his veins. Her hand dropped slowly and he reached out to grab it as it fell to her lap, needing that same comfort, wanting to feel the pulsing connection and proof that they were both still alive.
Relaxing slightly, Buffy leaned against the cushions next to him. Her voice was quiet, but clear. "I'm so glad you're alright. I was worried that… I mean, Anya had said… but then when she told me you were alive I was-"
"Shhh. I'm fine." He squeezed her hand.
She looked at him skeptically, taking in his thoroughly demolished appearance. Her examination bore concern, but also a note of teasing. "You sure about that?"
Grinning and wincing slightly at the same time, Giles shifted into a slightly more upright position on the couch. "Perhaps not so magnificent at the moment, but after some sorely needed rest I should rally quite effectively."
"If you can still talk like that you must be okay."
"I will be, I promise. Where is Willow now?"
Buffy leaned her head into her left hand, elbow propped along the back of the couch. Her other hand was still twined with Giles', seemingly requiring that connection. "She's kind of attached to Xander at the moment, so he took her to rest at his place. I think he makes her feel…" Buffy hesitated, searching for the right word. " …safe, I guess. I told him I'd check up in a few hours."
Nodding silently, Giles allowed his eyes to drift shut for a few moments. When they opened again, he regarded Buffy with his attentive green gaze. "It would probably be best if you went upstairs and got some sleep. You don't look much less exhausted than I feel."
"Oh no you don't. I'm not resting until after I've taken care of you."
"Buffy, I assure you. It's not necessary. I-" Giles felt a strange jolt as he was silenced by a finger pressed to his lips.
"Uh-uh. After everything you did today, you're getting some Slayer TLC whether you like it or not."
He gave his consent by remaining quiet. This seemed like a good enough answer for Buffy, as she rose to her feet and held out her hands to him in a caring gesture. He grasped them, allowing her to pull him into an upright position. She supported him with the deceptive strength of her small body and began to lead him toward the stairs. "Come on, Watcher guy. We'll get you cleaned up and you can catch some z's in Willow's room."
Giles leaned his weight against Buffy, giving into the overwhelming urge to let her look after him, this time.
The depth of her relief at finding out that he was alive had been almost alarming in its intensity. When Anya had told them that Giles might not have much time left, Buffy had been devastated. He had come back; and even if it was because of Willow and not for her, she felt like things were finally right between them again. His absence had been difficult for her, but there were things she had needed to learn on her own. Now she could face him without feeling resentment. Regret maybe, for the way things had been before he went back to England, but tempered by understanding. The thought of losing him now that they were okay again made Buffy's heart jump into her throat. On a day that was an emotional roller coaster in so many ways, it was almost more than she could take.
Giles was still here, though. She felt an insane urge to be as physically close to him as possible now that she knew he was alive- as though holding onto him would prove that the scene of their bittersweet laughter and wholehearted reconciliation at the Magic Box hadn't been a dream. It already seemed so long ago, even though it had only been hours.
She thought about those moments as she helped him climb the stairs. Buffy had realized some important things about Giles while he was away. One of the most important being that his role in her life was not that of a surrogate father. She had never really thought of Giles that way, but when Quentin Travers had first made the implication she had found herself strangely confused and unaccountably disappointed at the thought of her Watcher's apparent 'father's love' for her. In his most recent absence, Buffy realized that Giles had gone to great pains in the years following the botched Cruciamentum to debunk Travers' theory without making any out-and-out denials. His actions showed that he couldn't- or wouldn't- fill that father-shaped hole in her world.
At the beginning of her freshman year of college, when Olivia had been in town, he had rebelled against his status as an authority figure in her life. Again, he had not behaved the least bit like an indulgent parent when she insisted on using his home as the venue for her ill-fated Thanksgiving feast. After she died and came back from the grave he had given her money to help with her bills, carefully sidestepping the idea of his showing a parental interest with his awkward comment about a 'rakish uncle'. He had resented every attempt she had made to shirk her duties as Dawn's guardian or to fall back on him as a security blanket when a task came up that she didn't want to handle on her own. And finally, when all else failed, he had forced her to stand on her own. He had all but said that he wasn't her father and couldn't be there just to make life easy for her. Maybe he needed her to be an adult just as much as she needed it for herself.
The other thing that Buffy had realized was more recent, something that was interesting but less than helpful. It had occurred to her that her feelings about Giles were… confused. To say the least. And it had taken the perspective of his going away and the surprise of his return to bring this realization to the forefront. She hadn't had much time to think it over, but once she realized it she knew that the turmoil of her feelings was not new. The strangely familiar thrill she had felt when he pulled her into his embrace had been enough to tell her that.
Buffy wasn't doing much better at the present moment, feeling unnerving tingles all through her body as Giles leaned against her, molding the side of his body along her form. Her arm encircled his waist, head tucked against his chest as she led him down the hallway toward the bathroom. His clothes were dusty, and she could smell the blackness of ozone left over from the volleys of magic that had passed between him and Willow. Just under that, though, was a tantalizing remnant of aftershave, a hint of wickedly familiar cologne worn by nobody else she had ever met. The combination was making the Slayer light-headed.
"Errr, Buffy, where are we going?"
It seemed he remembered the house well enough to know they weren't headed toward Willow's room. "Bathroom. I can't tuck you in until I've taken a look at the cut on your face. It's a lot harder to patch you up if you're zonked."
He gave her a tired smile, allowing her to lead him into the small bathroom and sit him down on the closed toilet seat. Buffy's breath caught when she saw his eyes, super green and paler than they normally looked under the bright glare of the bathroom light. She reached out instinctively to caress the bloodied side of his face, noticing the way his eyebrows scrunched together in a brief moment of incomprehension. "Umm, I'll get the first aid kit in a sec. Let me just clean you off a bit first."
She reached into the cabinet for a clean washcloth, turning the hot water on and rummaging for a fresh bar of soap. "I'm sorry about your clothes, but I don't think I have anything else in the house that would fit you. Maybe you'd be more comfortable without your sweater, though."
"You're probably right. I can't imagine my undershirt could possibly be as filthy." Flinching just slightly at the ache in his ribs, he pulled the ruined sweater over his head, tossing it onto the floor next to the hamper.
Buffy wondered absently whether it was only her who felt the charge in the air surrounding herself and Giles, or if he could sense it too. She figured it was probably just her being weird, noticing his eyes and the strong line of his jaw, thinking that he looked leaner and yet more solid than she could ever remember him being before. As she gently wiped the blood and grime from his face, he closed his eyes and made a small sound. Buffy worried for a moment that she was hurting him, but his lips were turned slightly upward and his expression betrayed no pain.
Wanting to break the uncomfortable and heavy silence, Buffy ventured a question that had been floating at the edge of her mind. "Giles… what's going to happen to Willow now?"
It took him a few moments to answer. His eyes opened, fixing her own. He exhaled raggedly, a symptom of his exhaustion. "I'm not quite sure yet, to be honest. The only thing I can think to do is bring her to the Coven. They may be able to help."
The first aid kit was open beside the sink, and Buffy had begun to disinfect the small cut next to Giles' eyebrow. "I… Do you think that will work? I mean, will she want to be helped? Is she…" Buffy knew what she wanted to ask, but it was hard to frame into words. "Is she Willow now or is she somebody else?"
Giles quirked a small smile. "Your question is a good one, and I don't blame you for asking it. I can assure you, however, that she is Willow. She has never been anybody else. The magic may have corrupted her, but it could not change who she really is. Believe me, I know." His expression was a little bit far away, and she knew he was thinking back on some of the more painful remembrances of his past.
In mere minutes she had his wound cleaned, butterfly stitched, and neatly covered with gauze. She gently touched the dressing, ensuring that it was properly taped. Satisfied, she let her hand drop to his shoulder, giving it a reassuring squeeze. Buffy's next question was whispered. "Giles, is she going to be okay?" There was a second question built into her query, unasked except within the turbulent flicker of her eyes: '…and what about the rest of us?'
His hand came up to rest atop hers, still at his shoulder. "I don't know, Buffy." His gaze was avid, and when he continued speaking she found herself wondering if Willow was the only thing he was talking about. "I wish I could give you a better answer, but right now nothing is certain."
Buffy nodded, feeling like there were two separate conversations happening at the same time, trembling reflexively as his slightly rough hand caressed hers. Her bewildered mind begged to differ with his answer, thinking that there was at least one thing that was certain: his touch, Giles' seemingly innocent touch against the sensitive skin of her fingers, was affecting her in ways she had never allowed herself to imagine before.
There! That's the first half. There's one more chapter to go, which will probably be at least 60 percent smut. What do you guys think so far? Is it just me, or did everybody think Buffy should have jumped Giles' bones during Grave? Hot fudge sundaes to anyone who reviews to agree/disagree with me! :)