A.N. - This randomly came to me and now I'm reposting it after having it gone for so long...please enjoy!

She stared at him, trying to understand the feelings that were raging inside her.

These were feelings that she was positive that she'd never held before for her Watcher, but now were so strong that they threatened to take her over.

Where had they come from?

He said absolutely nothing, looking at her with an almost pleading expression on his face. God, did he even know how much harder that was on her? He had perfected that expression over a good many years, and when it was turned on her so suddenly she was powerless to it.

She closed her eyes, trying to hold back the tears that she could feel were threatening to fall at any moment, trying to fuel her emotions.

Why was he doing this to her? He had never, ever evoked these kinds of...god, she didn't even know how to explain it. But it was absolutely overwhelming.

She thought that by not looking at him, it might make things easier, but all it did was make her more acutely aware of his presence in the room.

His scent was distinctive and uniquely him in every way. It was warm scotch, soft leather, and peppermint tea...the perfect concoction to drive her senses into overdrive and make her insides feel as though someone suddenly decided to make a celtic knot out of them. Why was he doing this to her?


She felt her body twitch at the sound of his voice, begging her to go to him, to find solace in his arms...but she had to physically restrain herself from moving.

No...she was not going to give in. She was strong. She could fight...

"Buffy...please...don't leave."

Every cell in her body was raging at her, telling her that she was being an idiot and should just go to him already, but her mind fought back with all of its' muster, not wanting to give into the temptation that was her Watcher. She couldn't, she just couldn't...

She squeezed her eyes shut even tighter, as though blocking him out, but the sound of shuffling cloth told her that he wasn't staying still.

She braced herself for the relief, but also the pain and disappointment, for when he left the room...but instead of the sound becoming distant, it got louder. Louder...and closer.

Without even opening her eyes, she knew that he was standing directly in front of her. She could feel the heat rolling from his body onto her own, as though he was trying to imprint himself onto her very soul.

It was as if someone had ripped open all of her emotions from every single wish and hope and dream that she'd had throughout the years that had anything to do with him...and it was absolute torture. Nothing but pure torture to stand so close to the man that she'd recently discovered that she loved more than anything in the world, but unable to touch for fear of destroying the rest of his life.

Unwilling to open her eyes, but finally willing to let herself speak, she felt her vocal chords strain to make her thoughts known...

"Y-You don't...you d-don't w-want this..."

The words sounded less than convincing as they fell from her lips as they held no conviction behind them.

She could practically hear the expression forming on his face; one of hurt and confusion, and it burned her to know that she was hurting him as she spoke those words. But she had no choice.

The touch of his hand against her cheek was enough to make her eyes finally open...and what she saw nearly took away all of her reserve.

There he stood before her, the soft touch of his fingers gently caressing her jaw line, his eyes completely open to her, and his face a complete open book for her to read. And she could read it easily. Years of being around him had taught her how to read his face...and his eyes.

Oh dear god, his eyes. She had never known a man with eyes like his. They could say everything in a single glance. And what she read in them at that moment made her reserve waver.

They held hope...and not just any hope. It was so earnest and true that she felt her heart ache at the sight.

The look nearly undid her and she could feel her chin shake slightly as she tried to hold back her tears again...but they wouldn't listen.

Soon, the tears fell. And as they made hot, burning trails down her cheeks, she felt the coolness of his fingers reach up and ever so gently brush them away. This gesture was her undoing. She soon found herself falling into his arms, leaning her weight against his chest, unsure if her now unsteady legs would hold her.

He slid his arms around her slender frame, trying to convey the depth of his emotion in that simple action. And he did; she felt it.

She moved closer into his embrace, relishing his warmth, and that was when she realized...this was what it was going to be like for the rest of her life. No more hiding behind walls...no more barriers.

Just her and the man she loved more than life itself for the rest of her shortened days on earth.

It wouldn't be perfect...but that was okay.

There were going to be hard days ahead, and nights, too. There would be times where she would hate him, and he would hate her. There would also be times where she would have sleepless nights of worry over him, as he would also have over her...but it would be worth it. It would all be worth it in the end; to be with the one who would always be there, no matter what.

To be with the man who would have to bury her, but would have the strength to go on living because he knew she wanted it.

Because he...because he loved her.

He loved her.

She still found that hard to believe, but here she was...and it was real. More real than anything that she'd ever experienced...and wonderfully imperfect.

But after all...who ever said that life was perfect anyway?