Title: Swallowed in the Sea
Timeline: Early S7, AU.
Synopsis: Giles’ attachment to a Potential causes some issues for Buffy.
Author’s Note: Album fic. Song and lyrics can be found here.
Giles smiled at the young Potential sitting at his feet in Buffy’s living room. The girl reminded him so much of Buffy as she had been just a few years earlier. The Buffy who had been lost when Angel broke her heart…for the umpteenth time.
The Potential smiled back and then went back to painting her fingernails. Giles looked up to find Buffy glaring at him. He arched an eyebrow and popped a grape into his mouth.
“Yes?” He asked as he chewed.
“We need to talk.” She stated matter-of-factly, standing and stomping through the living room to the kitchen.
The Potential looked up and then looked at Giles. “Is she mad?”
“So it would seem.” Giles sighed softly as he stood. “You should probably get some sleep. Tomorrow will be…”
“Busy, yeah I know.” She smiled up at him and held up her left hand. “As soon as these dry though, okay?”
Giles chuckled and gave her a nod. Hearing one of the kitchen cabinet doors slam shut, he sighed again and made his way into the kitchen.
The Potential smiled and blew a puff of air across her nails.
* * *
Giles watched silently as Buffy angrily went through the motions of making a pot of tea. He winced as she manhandled the fragile tea leaves.
“Careful…you’ll bruise them.” He became more confused when Buffy stared at him, fury raging in her eyes. “What’s wrong?”
“She’s all over you!”
“She? She, who?”
Buffy pointed towards the door leading to the living room. “Her! You’re my Watcher…not hers…or theirs!”
“Ah.” Giles stated, his confusion clearing to be replaced with mild amusement.
“Don’t ‘ah’ me, Giles!”
His amusement was short-lived. He crossed his arms over his chest and stared back at her.
“Jealously has never looked good on you, Buffy.”
“Jealousy? I’m not – ”
“You are.” Giles stated calmly, refusing to give in to the sudden rush of anger he felt. “These girls need me, look up to me. And you’re not used to having to share me. You’ve kept me on a shelf for so many years that you’ve gotten used to me being there for only you.”
He exhaled deeply and continued before she could launch into a tirade.
“It’s as much my fault as yours. I allowed myself to be kept on a shelf…your shelf…as long as it made you happy. But, eventually…all it did was make you become too dependent on me…and we both know where that led.”
“It’s not just her…”
“Ricki.” Giles said softly, moving closer to her and leaning against the counter. “She has a name, Buffy.”
“Are you sleeping with her?”
Giles barked out a laugh and then suddenly realized she was being deadly serious. “Excuse me?”
“It’s none of my business, but…are you?”
“You’re right, it is none of your business.” His anger nearly broke through, but he reined it in and shook his head. “But, no…I’m not. She’s a mere child, Buffy.”
Buffy raised an eyebrow. “She’s an eighteen-year-old Potential. She’s not a mere child.”
“So, you assume I’m in a sexual relationship with her?”
Buffy shrugged a shoulder and lowered her eyes. “You’re very aware of her…and where she is…and what she’s doing…”
“She reminds me of you.” When she looked back up at him quickly, he smiled. “In some ways.”
“She’s opinionated. She’s abrasive. She’s charming and loyal. She has a natural talent.” Giles sighed and dumped a spoonful of sugar into one of the mugs Buffy had placed on the counter. “But, she doesn’t make me feel like I’m drowning. Not like you do.”
He smiled nervously and glanced at her briefly before continuing. “I…feel like I’m lost without you. Just…treading water in the middle of the ocean all alone. But, then…you’ll pull me down from my shelf…and I feel whole again. For those brief moments I can catch my breath…and rest my arms…and know that the sea can’t swallow me.”
“I…God, Giles…I don’t mean to make you feel like that!” Buffy whispered urgently, unshed tears glistening in her eyes.
He smiled and met her eyes again, tilting his head to one side. “It’s not a completely horrible feeling, Buffy. And it’s something that no one has been able to make me feel in a very long time. Granted, there are things that I would enjoy more than the sensation of being swallowed in the sea…but, there many more things that would be worse.”
“Are you trying to confuse me?” Buffy asked in a puzzled tone.
“No, I…” He shook his head and then moved closer to her, lifting his left hand to the side of her face. “I’m going to kiss you.”
Buffy’s eyes widened. “Kiss?”
“Yes.” He whispered, his eyes darting to her lips. “You can kiss me back…or not. But, I’m going to kiss you.”
Before she could say anything else, he did just as he said he would. He kissed her…a warm, loving kiss. She hesitated only a moment before she kissed him back, curling her hands on his chest as his tongue nudged its way into her mouth.
A moment after that, her arms were around his neck as she returned his kiss with as much passion as he was giving. As his right hand moved to her hip, she pulled from the kiss and stared into his eyes.
“You don’t belong in the sea, Giles.” She panted as his fingers edged under the hem of his shirt.
“No?” He whispered, smiling as she shivered against him and shook her head. “Where do I belong then?”
“On dry land.” She licked her lips and took a deep breath. “Like…really dry land. California dry land.”
“Hm.” He murmured, sliding his hand to her back underneath her shirt. “Dry land can be…lonely.”
“Not if you’re with me.” She answered hastily, her eyes widening as she realized what she’d said. “Um, I mean…”
“I’ve always belonged to you, Buffy.” He said in a gentle voice, rubbing his left thumb over her bottom lip.
“Can we belong together?”
He smiled, gazing into her eyes as he nodded slowly. “I would like that very much.”
As he leaned in for another kiss, he paused and swallowed hard. “Please, do not take this lightly, Buffy.”
“If it was casual sex I wanted, I’d go find some guy at the Bronze.”
He turned their bodies until her back was against the counter. “What is this to you?”
She smiled at his wary tone and jumped up to sit on the counter. “The beginning.”
“Of?” He whispered as she pulled him close to her, draping her arms over his shoulders.
“Forever.” She whispered back, gently pulling him down to her lips.
* * *
Xander walked through the front door and raised an eyebrow at Ricki. “So?”
She gestured towards the kitchen, grinning as her Slayer hearing picked up a soft moan. “Yeah, worked like a charm.”
Xander smiled and dropped the pizza box on the coffee table and sat down next to Ricki. “Tandoori chicken and pineapple. I knew someone else who liked that combination…”
Ricki grinned and opened the box. Maybe she’d work her magic on him and Anya next.