TITLE: Home
AUTHOR: dword
RATING: PG
DISCLAIMER: Everything belongs to Joss, FOX, the UPN…everyone but me! I'm just borrowing. I promise to put everything back where I found it.
DISTRIBUTION: Gabi, Dee, theLIST… Anyone else just ask me first.
SPOILERS: Buffy Season 6 `Bargaining'
FEEDBACK: Yes please, just remember I bruise easily.
SUMMARY: Buffy is back, Giles returns from England… Basically my version of how it should have happened.
DEDICATION: To Arkin for worrying about me. To Ewie for being my Minidword. To Jac for brightening my day with tales of her personal Chaos Demon. To Jolene for creating a B/G universe that I truly love visiting.
Author's Note: Thanks to Jac and Jolene for their beta and encouragement. Any errors are completely my own. In my impatience to get this out I may have missed something.




Dawn finished brushing Buffy's hair. As she turned to place the brush on the vanity, a look of sadness flashed across her face. She gave herself a quick mental shake and after putting on a smile she turned back to Buffy.

"There, all done," Dawn said with forced cheerfulness. "You look great. Let's go down and see what Willow and Tara have made for breakfast."

Dawn took her sister's hand and led her out of the bedroom.

*-*-*-*-*-*

Tara was cooking eggs as Willow set the table. As she placed the fourth setting Willow stopped and smiled. When she looked up Tara was smiling back at her.

"We really did it Tar," Willow said with wonder.

"Yes sweetie, we did it. We brought her back," she replied. "Buffy's home."

Willow drew a deep breath and released it as a sigh. "I just hope she's all right."

Tara walked over and put her arm around her love. After touching her forehead to Willow's in comfort she said, "I'm sure she'll be fine. She's been through something extraordinary. Buffy just needs some time to adjust."

"You're right. Happy thoughts, positive thinking, and her friends and family around her should fix her right up!"

When they heard Buffy and Dawn coming down the stairs, Tara went back to making breakfast and Willow finished setting the table. Both, with their cheerfulness firmly in place smiled, as Buffy and Dawn entered the kitchen.

"Buffy! Dawn! Breakfast is served. Come… sit… Let's get to eatin'. Time to get this day rolling!" said Willow. Buffy's lack of response and the wariness of her stature almost took the wind out if Willow's sails. But Resolve Face came forward and Willow continued, "After breakfast we're all going to go to `The Magic Box'."

*-*-*-*-*-*

Later that day, well after sundown, the whole Scooby Gang (Spike included) were gathered around the research table at the magic shop. They sat quietly and watched as Buffy meandered listlessly around the shop. Finally she sank down into an overstuffed reading chair and settled down to stare off into space with the occasional wistful glance at the back of the store.

Xander turned to Willow concern written all over his face. "Wills, are you sure she's all right?" he whispered.

"Don't say that, Xander!" Dawn hissed. "She's Buffy. She's home. That's all that matters. I have my sister back. She just needs a little time."

When he saw the tears start to form in Dawn's eyes, Spike reached over and took her hand. "There now, Platelet, don't get yourself worked up. We're all glad she's back. And we all have time, especially me."

The last was said with a wink, bringing a small rather soggy smile to Dawn's face. "We all know she'll be ok, but we're cudgeling our brains for something other than time to get her back to fighting form."

"Gee Spike, didn't realize you were so anxious to get your butt kicked!" snarked Xander as he threw a little grin at Dawn.

It had the desired effect. Dawn giggled and her tears dried up. Waterworks averted, Tara picked up her car keys and offered to go get dinner.

"Want to come with, Dawnie?"

"'K."

After Dawn and Tara had left, the rest sat quietly watching Buffy. As she had done most of the day, Buffy began cautiously prowling around the shop. Every so often she would touch or pick up an object before moving on.

"Ok, now that Bitesize is gone," Spike declared, "we really need to talk, Red."

"About what?"

"Please Wills, as much as it pains me to say this… Spike is right," said Xander as he scooted his chair so they could keep their voices down. "There is something not right about Buffy. I'm not even talking about the whole no speaking thing. There's just… I mean she's…"

"She doesn't trust us," said Anya.

"That's ridiculous!" exclaimed Willow. "We're her family… of course she trusts us!"

"Wait, Red," interrupted Spike. "I think I get what Anya means. I've noticed it too. It's not that she doesn't trust *us* specifically… it's more like she distrusts her entire situation. It's like she's keeping herself detached from everything…"

"Yeah, Wills," Xander added. "Like she is staying behind this invisible wall, separating herself from everything. Like it's not really her or it's not really us…"

"Bloody Hell! I'm sure the Watcher could figure this out!" growled Spike. "Did you get in touch with him?"

"Yes," confirmed Willow. "He was in shock I think… and I'm sure he'll be in full lecture mode once he gets over it. He'll arrive tomorrow night."

"I think we should all go to the airport to pick Giles up," said Anya.

When she heard Giles name, Buffy immediately stopped her wandering and went to stand near the others. When she placed her hand in Willow's, Anya said, "Buffy thinks so too!"

*-*-*-*-*-*-*

The gang arrived at the airport well before Giles' flight was due to land. They were all there, Willow and Tara, Xander and Anya, and Dawn and Spike with Buffy between them. Dawn held Buffy's hand as they stood by the windows watching the planes land and take off. Spike kept watch and fidgeted. Tara and Willow went off to find out at which gate Giles would be arriving. Anya and Xander set out on a refreshment/snack run.

Xander and Anya returned first and passed around their bounty before joining in on the plane watching. No one wanted to sit down. Nerves and anticipation made it impossible. When Willow and Tara came back they all moved closer to the correct gate but stayed near the windows.

About five minutes before Giles' plane was due to land Buffy began to fidget slightly. Dawn tightened her grip on Buffy's hand and glanced over at Spike. As Buffy's restlessness increased Spike took her other hand in a firm grip, ready to restrain her if necessary.

Giles flight had just been announced over the loud speaker when Buffy began to twist this way and that as if looking for something. Then she started to mumble under her breath. Soon, as her agitation grew, the gang could make out what she was saying.

"Giles," she said with a kind of reverence and yearning. They all looked at Buffy with shock and confusion. This was the first thing she'd said since she had come back.

"Giles, Giles, Giles…" It had become a chant. The urgency in Buffy's voice increased.

"Giles, Giles, Giles… " They continued to watch Buffy nervously. Dawn and Spike both tightened their grip on Buffy's hands, as her fidgeting became more intense.

"Giles, Giles, Giles… " As her volume increased Buffy began to draw the attention of the crowd around them.

"Giles!" Suddenly with a shout and a jerk of her arms Buffy broke free and moved closer to the arrival gate, frantically scanning the crowd.

"Buffy!" cried Dawn as she and the rest of the gang tried to follow.

"Giles! Giles! Giles!"

Giles chivalrously helped and elderly woman with her overhead luggage and allowed her to proceed him from the plane. He was slightly distracted as he exited the plane. Then, as he began his trek up the ramp to the main part of the concourse, he felt *something*. Then he heard…

"Giles! Giles! Giles!"

"Buffy?" he whispered in disbelief.

"Giles!" Her call was louder and closer.

"Buffy!" he said, hope and wonder creeping into his voice.

"GILES!" Joy and desperation were both evident in her cry.

And then through the crowd he saw her. Alive. Dear God, blessedly alive. His every hope and dream… his life… running toward him, still calling his name. He had barely managed to drop his suitcases before he was all but knocked over by the impact of his Slayer throwing herself into his arms. As his own arms instinctively closed around her to draw her close to his heart, Buffy's arms tightened around his neck to hang on for dear life. She buried her face in his neck, tears running down her face, still chanting his name over and over again.

Giles, crying himself, held her close using one hand to rub her back soothingly. He began to whisper in her ear, his thoughts and emotions just tumbling from his lips.

"Shhh Buffy, don't cry luv. I've got you. Shhh. Please Buffy, I can't take it when you cry."

"Giles, Giles, Giles."

"Shhh. I've got you, don't cry. Everything's all right. In fact everything is so much better than all right. You've come back to me. And I am never going to let you go." His tears flowed faster and he tightened his arms around his Slayer. Whether it was due to his words, his arms, or his presence, Buffy started to calm.

The other debarking passengers moved around Buffy and Giles, many with smiles on their faces. Their lives made a little brighter having witnessed the incredible love of these two people.

Giles set her back on her feet and took her head between both his hands to drink in every precious detail of her face. Buffy's smile was the sun emerging from behind a cloud.

"Home," Buffy said with wonder. "Giles, I'm really home."

Buffy wrapped her arms around his waist and laid her head on his chest. Giles rested his head on her hair, looked up at the rest of the gang as they approached, and smiled.

"Yes you are."