Title: Chip Tooth Smile
Rating: FRAO Overall/FRT This chapter
Timeline: AU, one year post-series...no Dawn, Anya survived Sunnydale.
Synopsis: A year after Sunnydale, there are quite a few changes in the Scoobies' lives. There are more changes to come.
Author’s Note: Special thanks to A for taking the time to go through this project for me. This fic is inspired by the album Chip Tooth Smile by Rob Thomas. This is not a typical songfic. (Lyrics and .mp3s can be found on the CTS index page)
Chapter Eight - It's Only Love
Giles smiled as he nursed his third beer, listening to Xander prattle on about whatever was in Xander’s head. Giles wasn’t drunk…he wouldn’t even classify himself as ‘tipsy’ – but, Xander…he never could hold his alcohol. And in a safe environment, Giles had always found it amusing.
He listened to Xander, but his eyes were following Buffy – who was currently throwing darts with Willow. He made a mental note to show her…well, show them both…how to properly hold a dart. He was fairly amazed at how spot on Buffy’s accuracy was, considering she was holding it entirely incorrectly. But, then…she was Buffy. She had always done things her own way…and they had always – most of the time, at least – worked out perfectly well.
“I love you.” Xander sing-songed, causing Giles to look at him sharply.
Giles shook his head in amusement as Anya sat down next to Xander and grinned before giving him a soft kiss. He envied Xander, in a way. The ease at which he could tell Anya that he loved her. The way the words simply rolled off his tongue.
He glanced back at Buffy and sighed. He did love her, that wasn’t even in question. But, the words just wouldn’t come. They almost surfaced a couple of times…while he was deep inside of her, hearing her moan his name, feeling her warm breath against his skin as they moved together.
He took a deep breath, silently cursing himself – his mind for wandering to that place, his body for reacting. This was definitely not the time for this – alcohol, public venue…if he was the person he was twenty-five years ago, he would’ve already had Buffy pinned to the wall in the hallway and wouldn’t care who saw. But, he wasn’t…and Giles very much cared who saw.
He was going to have to talk to her about it – the reason he couldn’t say the words. She was right, actions do speak louder than words – but, he knew without a doubt that Buffy longed to hear the words. And he wanted to say them, but fear was a funny thing…and there wasn’t much that he did fear. Telling someone he truly loved that he was in love with them? That was high on his list of what he feared.
It had cost him in the past. The saying of the words, as well as the not saying of the words. He glanced at his glass and arched an eyebrow. He saw a coaster hit him in the chest and he looked up, sending a quick glare to Anya…who was currently staring at him.
“Why are you throwing things at me?”
“Because you’re doing that weird thing again. Where you go off into Giles-land and ignore everyone.”
Xander giggled drunkenly, causing Giles to smile. Anya rolled her eyes.
“Maybe I’ll go play darts with them.” Xander said, gesturing towards Buffy and Willow.
Giles snorted a laugh. “Oh, yes. That would be a bloody brilliant idea.”
“Why do they put dart boards in pubs anyway?” Anya asked. “That’s just asking for trouble – alcohol and sharp, pointy things that could put someone’s eye out.”
Giles laughed again and lifted his glass to his lips, swallowing a mouthful of beer. Xander slid off of his stool and grinned broadly.
“I’ll be back…”
For a moment, Giles was concerned that he actually was going to head over to Buffy and Willow. He relaxed when Xander turned and made his way to the hallway that lead to the restrooms instead.
“So…would you like to tell me what really happened to your neck?” Anya asked, smiling as Giles immediately lifted his hand to cover the bruise. “I’m going to guess it wasn’t a vampire because there’s no way that Buffy wouldn’t have panicked over that.”
Giles lowered his hand and sighed in resignation to the fact that he wasn’t going to be able to hide this from Anya. He was partly relieved, but he was mostly terrified.
“The fact that Buffy jumped in with the whole ‘I hit him with a staff in training’ excuse tells me that she knows what really happened. Question is…does she know because you told her? Or does she know because she’s the culprit?”
Giles stared at his glass, his mind scrambling for words.
“Culprit, then…” She looked at the bruise again, smiling at the tell-tale sign of a tooth mark peeking out from under the edge of his collar. “Bite, not just a hickey. Deep bite too, from the looks of it. That kind of bite happens during sex, not just making out. So, you and Buffy have graduated to orgasm friends now. Interesting.”
Giles drained the rest of his beer and quickly caught the bartender’s eye, gesturing for another.
“You’re not going to say anything?”
“You seem to be doing just fine on your own, Anya.” He replied, sliding his empty glass to the end of the table.
“So, you are? Having sex with Buffy?” Anya smiled as she leaned forward, crossing her arms on the table.
Giles glanced over at Buffy and then looked up as the bartender placed a fresh beer in front of him. “Thank you.”
The bartender smiled and picked up the empty glasses on his way back to the bar.
“It’s more than sex, isn’t it?” Anya asked, regarding him closely. “You’ve loved her for years…”
Giles’ eyes snapped to hers. She easily read the emotions held in those green irises.
“You haven’t told her. Why haven’t you told her?”
Giles opened his mouth, then closed it. Then took a deep breath and shrugged a shoulder. “It’s not that easy…nor is it that simple.”
“Of course it is. It’s only love, Giles.” She looked over her shoulder at Buffy and smiled as she turned back to Giles. “What kind of marks would she have on her if she didn’t have Slayer healing?”
Giles drank a third of his beer in one swallow.
“What were you guys really doing when we showed up tonight?”
“Patrolling.” Giles answered unconvincingly.
“Does she at least know you love her?”
Giles hesitated for a moment and then nodded slowly. “She knows. She also knows that I can’t tell her yet.”
“Does she know why? Do you know why?”
“I’m painfully aware.” He replied quietly.
“You should tell her, Giles. Tell her why.”
Hearing a crash, they both looked over to see that Xander had spectacularly walked into another patron of the pub. Giles chuckled and met Anya’s eyes.
“You should go take care of him.”
Anya nodded in agreement and stood up. She paused, leaning over to carefully adjust his collar for him.
“Go talk to her. Really.”
He watched Anya walk over to Xander and then he finished his beer. With a deep breath, he stood up and made his way to Buffy and Willow.
Buffy smiled at him as he stopped next to her. “Hey, what’s up?”
He hesitated for a brief second and then lifted his hand to her cheek, staring into her eyes. “I need to talk to you.”
Willow’s eyes widened. She had seen Giles touch Buffy numerous times over the years, but never in a way that said ‘I’m about 2.3 seconds away from kissing you’.
“Giles?” Buffy whispered as he glanced at her lips. “What’s going on?”
“Anya figured everything out. They’ll all know by morning, most likely. And…I really need to talk to you.”
“Anya figured it out?” Willow asked, darting her eyes between the two of them. “Seriously? You two are…you’re…Anya? How did Anya know before me?”
Buffy glanced at the side of his neck. A barely perceptible smile played at his lips.
“You okay with this?” She asked, smiling as he nodded. “Will? We’ll talk tomorrow, okay? I promise…”
“Um…yeah, okay…” Willow said, staring as Buffy and Giles made their way through the crowd towards the door. “What the hell is going on?”
“Buffy and Giles are having sex. He loves her, but hasn’t told her yet. She knows he loves her, but doesn’t know why he won’t say it.” Anya stated quickly, her arm around Xander’s waist. “Xander’s drunk. We need to go home now.”
“Buffy and Giles are…” Willow shook her head and looked at Anya. “How did you figure it out?”
“What?” Xander asked suddenly. “Buffy and Giles are…what?”
Anya smiled and shrugged a shoulder.
* * *
Buffy sat down on the bench and looked at Giles as he sat down next to her. “Okay, so how did Anya figure everything out?”
“My collar slipped. She…deduced. It was an odd conversation – or monologue, as it were. It wasn’t much of a conversation…more her simply telling me what had happened.”
“And that was that?”
“Pretty much.” Giles said as he took a deep breath. “That’s not what I need to talk to you about though.”
When he was quiet for a long moment, she reached over and took hold of his hand. “Giles?”
He lowered his eyes, watching her thumb rub gentle circles over the back of his hand. “I’m scared.”
“You’re scared?” She turned to face him, placing her other hand on his knee. “Of what?”
“It’s been twelve years…” He started, leaning back against the bench and staring off into the distance.
“Since what?” Buffy asked quietly, recognising the look of internal struggle on his face.
“Since I said ‘I love you’ to someone…I loved.” He swallowed and looked up at the sky. “That ended…well, ‘badly’ would be a gross understatement. And…what I feel for you is…stronger.”
He paused and took a deep breath before slowly turning towards her. “I want to say those words to you. I’ve nearly said them, but…horrible things happen when I do. And I can’t put you in that pathway. It will end horribly, tragically…and it will all be my fault…”
“I know it all sounds so paranoid or superstitious or…” He lifted his hand and gently brushed her hair back from her face. “I’m trying to work through that. Logically, I know how absurd it all sounds and I know that me saying ‘I love you’ didn’t bring about her death, but…it’s an absurdity that I’m going to have to work through on my own. Because, however absurd…it haunts me. But, please know…I’m working so very diligently to get through this. Please…give me time, don’t give up on me.”
“She…died?” Buffy asked, tears glistening in her eyes.
His thumb gently stroked her cheek. “Another story, another time. There are no need for tears right now…”
“The tears are for your pain, Giles. They’re not for me. I’ve never seen…” She exhaled a slow breath and a single tear slid down to Giles’ thumb. “Your pain is deep, covered by years’ worth of scar tissue. Your fear is very real, fed by that pain – I wouldn’t call that absurd, not at all.”
“It’s only love…” He whispered sadly.
She shook her head and placed her hand on the side of his face in a loving caress. “But, it’s not, Giles. I get it now…I’m not giving up on anything, okay?”
He nodded in understanding and leaned down, kissing her warmly as they slid their arms around one another.
Chapter Nine - Early in the Morning
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