At first, Buffy didn't like the way it made her feel. When he looked at her, passion burning just behind those intense green eyes, she went weak-kneed. She didn't like that with such a simple glance he could reduce her to a self-conscious shell of a girl, where she could neither find sensible words nor the voice to speak them. It wasn't simply feeling weak that shamed her most of all, but that she actually took some enjoyment out of the way her heart thundered anxiously in her chest when he'd look at her. There was some conflict there, she felt almost as though she was betraying her nature by getting some small bit of pleasure from not having complete control of the situation.
For a long time, there were only looks. Whatever Giles was feeling, he kept it to himself otherwise. He trained her as usual, operated completely as normal. Until his Slayer piqued his curiosity.
They were sparring in the back room of the Magic Box one day when Giles pinned her to the wall with the flat of his sword. She could have easily overpowered him, broken free, but she didn't. Was it out of weakness that she just stood there, breathing heavily from exertion as he eyed her carefully? There was a flicker of something on his face, a slight quirk of the lips, then he released her, saying nothing. They went on with the training, but Buffy couldn't shake the feeling that his subtle display had been very pointed. That he'd catalogued her response away in his mind for future review, although part of her worried she was reading something into his actions that didn't exist.
Thinking over the incident, Buffy was on the brink of some kind of understanding, and how it related to her inner conflict. Not everything fell into place right away, but it was a start in her discovery that she yearned for things she had never before considered.
Over the next few weeks, Buffy found herself less bothered by his glances. It wasn't that they meant any less to her, it was more that she was finally finding a place for the emotions they struck within her – some early way to categorize them in a manner that didn't have to be negative. She still grew weak-kneed and occasionally bumbling at them, but around Giles, she realized she didn't have to feel bad about that. She was a strong Slayer, she proved that to herself and everyone else on a near daily basis – she had nothing to prove to him in private.
Buffy caught one of Giles' looks in the front of the shop one lazy afternoon. She smiled back from across the table, blushing as she did so but making eye contact nonetheless. There was confirmation that not everything had been in her imagination up to that point when Giles reacted by spilling his tea all over a demonology text. Apparently, he hadn't expected his leering to be noticed. Buffy covered her mouth as she laughed, while helping Willow sop up the mess and listening to Giles curse under his breath for the sake of his book. She didn't take her eyes off of him though, she'd never seen him quite this brand of flustered before. She wasn't very surprised to find that she liked it.
Thus she continued to journey on in her understanding, weighing his reaction and the feeling it gave her versus the many times he had flustered her. There was some power there. Was that what Giles was after? Her mind drifted back to when he'd pinned her. Power? She was almost there, but not quite.
She thought that after she'd acknowledged his look, she might find out sooner what exactly was on his mind. It didn't seem he was going to be very forthcoming, however, in the days that followed. Normal. Everything was so painfully normal that she could almost scream. Giles was nothing less than a gentleman, even while he tossed daggers at her and briefed her before her patrols. She began to realize that that bothered her.
She would rather he made her feel powerless than ignored. But it wasn't fair to think that way. He wasn't ignoring her, he was performing in his capacity as Watcher. But Buffy wanted more, and the intensity with which she craved attention from him was something of a shock.
She wasn't going to wait forever for him to explain himself, so she decided to do what she did best. She was going to give his schedule a kick in the ass.
Friday afternoon, the bell jingled above the shop's door as she walked in. Giles was the only face there to look up at her from the counter.
"We need to talk."
Giles shut his book and walked out from behind the counter. "Yes, I suppose we must."
Buffy sighed. Finally. At least he wasn't going to downplay this anymore. That wasn't his style when confronted. Her Watcher was not a coward.
Giles leaned casually against the counter, clad in khakis and his arms folded over his sensible navy sweater. She was disarmed by his ease when she felt like her voice might start wavering if given a chance.
She spoke anyway. "I've seen the way you look at me."
Giles gave a soft laugh, casting his glance to the floor and reaching for his glasses. "Yes, yes. I'm quite aware," he looked up again after he'd cleaned them on his shirt.
She thought he'd have more to say. She almost wanted him to lead the conversation, to take control of the situation. Oh. There was more understanding contained within that thought. She hadn't just come to like the way he made her feel, but the idea that he could take control, even in some small way, allowing her the rare opportunity to be free from the burden of decision-making.
Giles seemed to take note of her expression as the gears in her brain turned. "I've made a bit of a fool out of myself, haven't I?" he looked at her warmly, apologetically. "And I'm not just talking about the tea- though that book, good Lord. That was rather expensive. Rare. But I suppose... well, I'm babbling now," he rubbed the back of his neck.
"What? No," Buffy shook her head and approached him. "You haven't. I... I just needed to know. Wanted to be sure I wasn't making all of this up in my head."
Giles blinked. She thought he even looked relieved, like a schoolboy who had skirted a detention. "Would you have reason to? Make, ah, such things up, I mean?"
"Um, Giles, well, see, it's like this," she fumbled over her words, shifting her weight to either foot in succession. "When you look at me like that... I can't... can't help but feel... something." Oh God, she sounded idiotic.
Giles was intrigued, and he leaned forward as she went on.
"I... I feel like- like there's been something sparked within me that I'm only just now coming to understand. Or trying to."
Giles nodded. "I must admit, of course, with some – a little – shame, that, ah, that I've been testing you. I should probably feel worse for it, but I don't. Though not feeling worse does, in fact, make me feel a bit bad. Hmm, funny that," his brow creased.
Testing her? She considered what he could mean, but then he went on talking without provocation, and Buffy was thankful for that.
"That time we sparred, when you didn't fight back... I had expected you to, as you always had before, but you didn't. I thought, then, perhaps, that I wasn't so mistaken in-"
"In what?" she breathed.
Giles raked a hand through his hair. "In... pursuing you. Offering you a-a choice, one that you aren't often given. Safely, I mean. To have the option to cede power to another in a rather symbolic fashion – ah – of course, quite presumptuous of me to assume, you know, ehm..." he was getting flustered again.
Buffy took the opportunity to respond, though her head was spinning with newly blooming connections and highly charged emotions. It was as though he had read her mind a few moments earlier with the things he was saying now, and she was deeply affected by it.
"You're my Watcher," she smiled, "it's your job to... have insight into my mind. Even presume things every once in a while," she edged closer. She'd have to be direct with him now, despite how awkward she felt saying the words. "So... y-you want to dominate me? Play pretend that I'm not the Slayer and can't fight back?" She hadn't meant to sound harsh, but the words had fallen less than tactfully from her lips. Giles at once looked hurt, and she regretted not taking a moment to come up with a better phrasing.
"N-no... well, no, that's not it at all, not really," he sighed. "Buffy, it's not that I just want power over you. It's that I want you to be able to trust in me to, ah, make certain decisions- since you are forced by destiny to decide for yourself in all other aspects of your life. Hmm. I'm not sure I'm making myself as clear as I'd hoped here."
"That makes two of us," Buffy put a hand on his arm.
"My intention... is to provide you some release from- from the pressure of your duties. If I could be so lucky," he patted her hand. "Admittedly, yes, your submission would be key but, ah, only if freely given. And I realize the difficulties in such an arrangement," he sighed, "most notably, though perhaps most superficially, my age. I have an inkling that you're not quite-"
She cut him off. "Giles, you come in under the double-century mark," she offered with a slight smile, "that counts for something, at least."
He shook his head with a bit of a laugh. "Right. You have a point of course, but still, I can't help but recognize – through both my position and my age – that I hold some authority over you, perhaps the reason I waited for you to approach me yourself, though honestly I wonder if maybe you're still too..."
"I'm not a naïve little girl," Buffy asserted. "Believe me. You of all people should be able to appreciate how fast I've had to mature. This calling, this life..."
Giles nodded, put a hand to her cheek. Buffy tilted her face into his palm and met his serious gaze.
"T-there's a logic in that, yes," he said. "Then I think... I'm ready to hear your thoughts on all of this." Those green eyes searched her face with such need that she felt she had to hold onto him for stability. He slipped his other hand deftly around her waist to offer her support.
Buffy knew what she wanted, the conflict was fading. She finally understood that what she felt was not a weakness or a flaw of character that had to be beaten down or hidden, that there could be a time and a place where she didn't have to worry about the burdens of being the Slayer, and above all, didn't have to feel ashamed for it. She didn't have to be afraid, either, because there was no-one she trusted more than her Watcher. She now had the option to be passive and let someone else take charge in one area of life at least. Alone with Giles she might be able to let the crushing pressure slip away as he took the reins, if only for a little while.
"Giles," she tipped her head to kiss at his fingertips and felt his body shiver from the sensation. "I want to give myself to you," she whispered, "completely."
His breath hitched in his chest before his lips descended upon hers, claiming them hungrily and that was all she needed to know. She had power over him in her own way, but for now she was content to find out just how satisfying losing control could be.