Timeline: A few years post-series, AU.
Synopsis: Buffy’s been hurt. Can Giles show her that it’s okay to love?
Author’s Note: Album fic. Song and lyrics can be found here.
Giles lifted his hand to the side of her face, brushing his thumb over her tear-stained cheek. “It’s alright, Buffy. I’m not going anywhere.”
She sniffled, not meeting his eyes. “Is this what it feels like?”
“What what feels like?” He whispered, wanting more than anything to take her doubts from her.
“To be touched by love.” She lifted her head slowly, finally returning his gaze. “Do you love me?”
His eyes glistened, her pain and fear emanating from her trembling body. “I love you so very much, Buffy.”
“I...I want to believe you.”
He swallowed thickly, feeling an irrational urge to hunt down every man and vampire she had been with in the past. “I understand why you’d find it hard to trust me...”
“No...” She protested quickly, her eyes widening. “I trust you, Giles. I just...I don’t trust...love.”
“I did leave you once.” He whispered sadly.
“You had your reasons. And I understood them after a while.” She wiped the tears from her face and took an unsteady breath. “And I forgave you for that so long ago.”
“I...I’ve done this at the wrong time. I’m sorry...”
“You have all of these beautiful words...” She interrupted him gently. “And...I’ve been hurt by every man who’s ever touched me. I want to give you everything, Giles...I want to be with you. But...I’m so scared because...”
When another tear fell from her eye, a matching one fell from his.
“If you hurt me, I don’t know how to come back from that.” She continued on a choked sob.
“You’d rather close yourself off from love than give yourself the chance to be truly loved...for the rest of your life?” He asked, leaning forward and resting his forehead against hers. “Because I will, Buffy. I’ll love you with all of my heart for the rest of your life...whether we’re together or not.”
“You can’t say that, Giles.”
He lifted his head and brushed his lips across her cheek. “And you can’t say that I’ll hurt you.”
She looked into his eyes and bit her bottom lip. He saw the question in her eyes…knew what it was that she wanted to ask, but instead of answering it he softly requested her to ask.
Her voice wavered as she nervously spoke.
“Is...do you want...would it just be...” She sighed heavily and lowered her eyes. “Do you just want sex?”
Physically, Buffy was still the strongest person Giles had ever known. Emotionally, though, she was fragile. Her last breakup had been hard on her. The pillock, which was the nicest word Giles had been able to come up with as a description for her ex, had used her...but that hadn’t been the worst part. No, the worst part had been her walking in on him and another woman...in the bed Buffy had shared with him.
After that breakup, Buffy had come to the conclusion that every sexual experience she had had...with the exception of Angel...was nothing more than sex. And so she had embarked on a few months worth of sexual exploits...merely for the sake of having sex.
She’d seemed quite happy with that decision until a couple of hours ago when Giles had sat down and poured his heart out to her.
“No.” He whispered tenderly. “Buffy...I’ve had the same mindset that you have at the moment. But, that’s not where I am now. This...if it was just sex that I wanted, I wouldn’t have told you my true feelings.”
“You could’ve just said ‘I want to fuck you’.” She agreed, lifting her eyes to meet his.
Giles closed his eyes and lowered his head. “But, that’s not what I want.”
“No, it’s not. You want a relationship.”
He looked up quickly at the clipped tone of her voice. “I...yes, I do. Because you deserve to be loved...truly loved. You deserve to have breakfast in bed every Sunday morning. You deserve to have a romantic candle-lit dinner once a week. You deserve to have someone listen to your irrational fears, your nonsensical ramblings, your infuriating rants about whatever’s bothering you at that particular moment. You deserve to have someone hold you when you cry when you watch a disgustingly sentimental movie. You deserve...”
“You really do love me.” She whispered in astonishment.
When he furrowed his brow in confusion over the fact that she suddenly believed him, she rested her cheek against the back of the couch and looked into his eyes.
“If you didn’t really love me...you’d say I deserved breakfast in bed every morning...and romantic candle-lit dinners every night.”
Giles gave a soft half-chuckle and tenderly stroked the side of her face with his fingertips. “I’d love to promise you that...but, I can’t.”
She chewed her bottom lip as she thought and then exhaled slowly. “What do you want, Giles? I mean...right now...”
He answered with no hesitation, his eyes locked with hers. “The chance to show you that love does exist...and that not everyone who you give the chance to love you will hurt you.”
“You...don’t want to make love or...”
He smiled softly as she trailed off. “Eventually I would like that opportunity. And...I would love to start working towards that goal. But...no, not now. There’s no need to rush this...”
“I don’t know when I’ll be ready.” She stated truthfully, lifting her head and running her fingers through her hair. “I’m...kinda damaged at the moment.”
“I’m a patient man, Buffy.” He replied as he tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. “And...I'm not exactly in pristine condition either...emotionally or physically.”
She regarded him carefully for a few moments and then cleared her throat. “So...what happens now? We just push each other around until we’re both fixed up and ready for more?”
“Yes...something like that.” His warm smile showing in his eyes.
She licked her lips and gave him a nod. “Okay...do, uh...do you want to kiss me or anything?”
“Very much so.” He admitted on a tender whisper. “But, I think I’d much rather just hold you for a while...if that’s alright with you.”
She gave a relieved sigh and nervously moved into his arms. She closed her eyes when he closed his arms protectively around her, resting his cheek against the top of her head.
The pushing had begun...as well as the healing.
For both of them.