Buffy silently walked out the back door, her brow furrowed. She’d been watching him through the window for some time, but wasn’t a hundred percent sure what he was actually doing. She figured that there was one way to find out…ask him. So, that’s what she was going to do.
She sat down next to him on the bottom step and looked up at him before following his line of vision.
“What are you doing?”
Giles smiled, but didn’t look at her. “Watching those three birds squabble over a worm.”
“Well, that sounds like heaps of fun.”
He laughed softly at her sarcastic tone and shrugged a shoulder. “I find the animal kingdom fascinating. They’re all fighting for the same thing – one worm.”
“Maybe they’re all hungry…”
“Ah…but, they’re all fighting for the same worm to give to the same chick. Mother, father, and…nest-mate.”
“Nest-mate? Is that even a thing?”
He leaned back, resting his elbows on the step above the one he was sitting on. “To be honest, I’m not sure. I do know that those three birds live in the same nest – and only one of the four eggs hatched. And all three have been completely devoted to ensuring the chick’s survival.”
“Menage-a-trois in birdland?”
He turned to look at her, a small smile playing on his lips. “Like I said…the animal kingdom is fascinating.”
“Can I watch with you?”
“You have nothing better to do?” He asked with a laugh.
“I’m semi-retired these days, watching birds with you seems like an enjoyable afternoon to me.”
He looked at her curiously, his focus on the birds forgotten. “Are you alright?”
She shrugged a shoulder and sighed. “I don’t know. I’m having a hard time figuring out how to slow down, you know? For years it’s been go-go-go, faster-faster-faster. And now it’s…oh, hey there’s a gazillion Slayers, I can take a step back. How do I even do that? I mean, your Slayer is pretty much redundant but you still have work to do.”
“You are far from redundant.” He stated softly, quickly. “And I have work to do because I thought it was a good idea to rebuild the Council.”
“It is a good idea, Giles.” She looked back at the birds and exhaled a deep breath. “Right now, I just feel like one of those birds…fighting for something that everyone else is fighting for too. I just don’t know where I stand right now.”
She turned back towards him, confusion in her eyes. “Huh?”
“Stand with me. I feel as though I’ve bitten off more than I can chew with this rebuild and I’m still learning who I can trust. Stand with me.”
“You want me to be your second?”
He shook his head slowly. “I’ve always known my role, at the very core, is to serve you.”
“You’ve never been my servant, Giles…what the hell?!”
He arched an eyebrow at her. “Fairly certain I did not say that I was your servant. I said that I serve you. There is a huge difference there.”
“I’m not standing in front of you, Giles.” She tilted her head slightly. “If you want me to help you, I will. But, we stand with each other…next to one another. No serving. Those days are long gone.”
He gave her a nod. “Would you like to have dinner tonight?”
“Yeah. I mean, I normally plan on having dinner every night.”
He furrowed his brow, replaying his words in his head. Then he chuckled, smiling as she smiled at him.
“With me. Would you like to have dinner with me tonight?”
“Sure. I mean, as long as you don’t try to feed me mushy peas because…” She shuddered, causing him to laugh.
“No mushy peas, I promise.” He glanced at his watch and cleared his throat. “I’ll pick you up at six?”
She reached over, taking hold of his arm and turning it so she could see his watch. “Sounds good…couple of hours should give me enough time to get ready. What should I wear?”
She rolled her eyes. “What are you going to wear?”
He lowered his eyes, taking in his current attire. “Not jeans.”
“Jesus Christ, Giles…you’re infuriating.”
He grinned, lifting his eye back to hers. “Casual, Buffy. I’ll wear trousers, shirt, and a tie. Not a suit.”
“Shirt and tie. Why couldn’t you just say that to begin with?”
“Because I’m infuriating.” He joked, giving her a wink. “Would you like to know what color I’ll be wearing so you can choose something complimentary?”
She pursed her lips in an effort not to laugh. “Blue. You look nice in blue.”
His eyes softened as he watched her.
“Not that you don’t look nice in other colors, but…blue looks…” She cleared her throat and ran her fingers through her hair. “So…I’ll see you at six?”
“Six.” He confirmed with a smile.
His smile faded somewhat as she got up and walked to the back door of his house. It had been a bold move…asking her to dinner. But, he hadn’t actually clarified whether it was a date or just simply dinner. And a sudden wave of anxiety rushed through him as he heard the door close – was it a date?
He sighed heavily and turned his attention back to the birds. His smile returned as the nest-mate won the worm…and flew directly to the nest.
“Good show.” He whispered, waiting for the other two birds to follow the nest-mate before he stood up and went inside.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
She watched him cut his fish, lift the fork to his mouth. She lowered her eyes quickly when he smiled at her. He chewed and swallowed, following that with a sip of his wine.
“How’s your chicken?” He asked, sliding his fork into a piece of carrot.
“It’s really nice, want to try it?”
He smiled softly. “You know I’m not overly fond of chicken…”
She grinned back at him. “Yeah, but I figured if I offered you a bite of mine, you’d offer me a bite of yours. Because that looks amazing…”
He laughed as he swallowed the carrot, then loaded his fork with a bite of salmon and offered it to her. He watched her as she slid the fish from his fork with her lips, inhaling slowly as she chewed.
“Oh, that is amazing!” She murmured appreciatively.
He nodded, but said nothing…content to watch her for a moment longer. She tilted her head slightly and took a deep breath.
She hesitated for a moment, as if she were debating on whether to continue or not. He waited, unsure of the nature of her hesitation. Then she rested her fork on the edge of her plate and looked into his eyes.
“Is this a date?”
He regarded her carefully and then curled his fingers around his wine glass. “This…is whatever you wish it to be.”
“Well, that’s a non-answer…” She said, furrowing her brow slightly.
He smiled and took another sip of his wine before shaking his head. “Or it’s a very enlightening answer. Depends on your view, I suppose.”
“What’s your view?”
“I’ll follow your lead on this, Buffy.”
She narrowed her eyes and sighed heavily. “This can’t be only about what I want…”
“I asked you to dinner.”
“I’ve had dinner with you hundreds of times over the years.” She countered. “I never questioned whether those times were dates or not.”
He placed his glass on the table and leaned forward, resting his elbows on the table and lacing his fingers together. “Nor did I. Yet, when I asked you today…I asked myself the same question. Is this a date?”
“And how did you answer yourself?”
“I didn’t want to presume.” He replied with a slight smile. “But, I’m amenable to the idea if you are.”
“Amenable? What the hell – ”
He reached across the table and grabbed her hand, interrupting her impending tirade of frustration. “I would like for this to be more than what it currently is. However, if you’re not at that same level of…desire…then nothing needs to change.”
“Is that your way of saying ‘yes, but if you don’t want to date then we can still be friends and I’ll be cool with that’?”
“I suppose it is.”
Buffy thought about that for a moment and then gave him a nod. She glanced at his hand still holding hers and then slowly met his eyes.
He merely offered her a warm smile and lifted his wine glass back to his lips with his free hand.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
He followed her into her terrace, closing the door behind him before heading directly to the kitchen. She chuckled, kicking off her shoes and sitting down on the sofa.
“You good in there?” She called out, curling her legs underneath her.
“I’ve made tea here more times than I can count. I’m certain I’m fine.” He replied with a laugh.
She bit her lip and then took a deep breath. “Giles? Can you come here for a minute?”
He walked into the room to find her staring at her hands, fingers twisting her rings. A sure sign she was nervous.
“Are you alright?” He asked, quickly making his way to her and sitting down next to her.
“I want it to be.” She blurted, giving him a shy glance.
“I’m sorry?” He asked, obviously confused.
“A date.” She whispered on a sigh.
She looked at him again, somewhat surprised to find him smiling at her. “I want it to be a date.”
“You do?” He cleared his throat softly. “You’re sure of that?”
He regarded her carefully. “You sound…not so sure, actually.”
“I’m sure that I want it to be a date. I’m sure that I’m feeling…” She exhaled slowly. “I don’t want this to change us, you know? I want to…give this a go, but not at the expense of us – our friendship. We’ve worked so hard to get to where we are and I don’t want to screw that up.”
Her shoulders slumped as she stared at him. “Okay? What the fuck does that even m – ”
He cut her off with a kiss, a soft brush of his lips over hers. He pulled back and lifted his hand, gliding his fingertips along her cheek.
“It means that I’m amenable.” He whispered.
“You kissed me.” She whispered back, bewildered.
“I am aware.” He exhaled slowly, lowering his hand. “I, uh…well, I hope that I haven’t overstepped.”
She looked at him for a moment, long enough that he started to become uncomfortable. Just as he started to launch into some semblance of an explanation, she moved towards him and captured his lips in a kiss. A kiss that started out much more than a soft brush of lips and quickly escalated even further. Caught off-guard, it took a moment for him to respond…but, he caught up quickly. And as her tongue touched his, he groaned and wrapped his arms around her.
He opened his eyes when he felt her start to push him backwards. He briefly worried that she was pushing him away…then he realised that she was following him down. He shifted underneath her, sliding his left hand to rest between her shoulderblades.
They kissed for long minutes, taking turns giving and relinquishing control of the kiss. He felt her nails lightly scratch his scalp as she ran her fingers through his hair. He also felt himself begin to harden underneath her. When she moaned softly into his mouth and pressed her body tighter against his, he was certain that she could feel it as well. From the sudden increase in intensity of the kiss, he was also fairly certain that she wasn’t put off by what she could feel underneath her.
He gently squeezed her hip, shifting underneath her…resulting in a sharp gasp from her. A groan rumbled in his chest as he slowed the kiss down. She ended the kiss, playfully nipping at his bottom lip before crossing her arms over his chest and smiling at him.
He nodded slowly, gazing into her eyes. “Unexpected.”
“But, not unwanted?”
He curled a strand of her hair around his finger. “Definitely not unwanted.”
“We should probably talk, huh?”
He glanced at her lips and sighed. “Probably.”
“I want to kiss you again.” She whispered, rubbing her fingers over his tie.
“Could lead to more.”
“We’re adults, Giles. More is okay.”
He licked his lips. “It’s…fast.”
“Fuck if I know.” He murmured. “Probably.”
“Do you love me?”
“Yes.” He answered immediately, as though it was the most asinine question she could’ve asked.
She chuckled softly, understanding what he meant. “Are you in love with me?”
He hesitated in his reply and she gave an understanding smile at the flash of panic in his eyes.
“I don’t know either, Giles.” She said, slipping two fingers between the buttons on his shirt. “And that’s okay. I know that I love you…and that’s always been more than a mentor or friend kind of love. In love? I don’t know…but, we can work through that later.”
She leaned down and kissed him before sliding off of him and sitting on the edge of the cushion near his hip. “Why don’t I go finish the tea you started and maybe we can watch a movie or something?”
“You know…you could stay tonight.” She continued when he stared at her. “We can talk about it later, but just saying – you can…if you want.”
He watched her as she left the room, exhaling a deep breath as he sat up and ran his hand over his face. If someone had told him this morning that by the end of the evening he’d be kissing Buffy and contemplating spending the night with her, he would have been sure they’d lost their mind. But, now here he was…having just received a very real offer of just that after spending the last half hour or so kissing her – and he was very much contemplating that offer.
“Tea first, Giles.” He muttered to himself. “Tea first.”
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
They barely made it fifteen minutes into the movie she had chosen before he reignited the kiss. And now, here they were…movie forgotten, tea cold in the mugs on the coffee table, his tie pulled from his shirt and dropped to the floor, her lying underneath him…her fingers gripping his back as his teeth grazed her neck before his tongue tasted her skin.
“Giles…” She breathed, squirming slightly underneath him.
“Hm?” He murmured against her neck.
He lifted his head and looked into her eyes. “I…”
A sudden clap of thunder rattled the windows. She smiled as his eyes widened.
“Storm…sounds pretty bad – probably not safe for driving.” She licked her lips, sliding her hands down to his lower back.
“Is that the only reason?” He asked.
Her smile broadened, the fingers of her right hand slipping into the back pocket of his trousers. “Absolutely not.”
He took a slow breath, obviously weighing out the pros and cons of the proposition. She moved her left hand to his chest, soothingly rubbing against his shirt.
“We don’t have to continue this right now, Giles. I want you to stay, but it doesn’t have to go further if you’re not comfortable.”
“Oh, I’m very uncomfortable.” He said with a chuckle. “But, I think you know that.”
She laughed softly and pulled a button free on his shirt. “Good or bad uncomfortable?”
“Both.” He answered truthfully, the tip of his tongue darting out to lick his lips. “Good is currently outweighing the bad…”
“If we go to the bedroom, are you going to freak out on me?”
“Freak out?” His brow furrowed. “Do you mean – have a panic attack and rush out of the house?”
She snorted a laugh, but nodded. “Something like that. Your heart is racing…”
“Mm, yes.” He agreed, brushing the hair back from her face. “I’m confident in saying that I’m not going to freak out. Though, I will admit that I’m concerned what will happen in the morning.”
“It’s not even midnight and you’re worried about what is going to happen after the sun’s up?”
A small grin played at his lips. “I worry about what is going to happen next week, next month…of course, I’m worried about the morning.”
“I can’t see anything bad happening in the morning, Giles.” She whispered, unbuttoning another button on his shirt.
“I can, but I’m willing to take that risk.” He inhaled deeply as she rubbed the back of his calf with her foot. “Because, fuck, I want you…”
“You can see bad things happening?” She asked, looking concerned.
He leaned down and kissed her softly before smiling. “I’ve been trained most of my life to look for the bad things that could possibly happen. Of course, I see certain scenarios playing out…”
“Do you only see the bad scenarios?”
He shook his head slowly. “Oh, no…I see some amazing ones as well.”
“What do we do?” She asked after a moment.
“I’ve talked myself into staying.” He admitted. “Where it goes from there…we can let it play out how it’s going to play out or we can talk it through and make a decision afterwards.”
“It’s like nature or nurture for sex.”
He laughed. One of those deep, warm laughs that never failed to make everything seem so much brighter.
“I suppose that’s one way of looking at it. What do you think?”
She pulled the third and fourth buttons free as she slid her leg up over his hip. “I think I’m amenable.”
“Thank Christ…” He murmured, lowering his mouth to hers once again.
He wasn’t sure what tomorrow would bring. And while he hadn’t been able to answer her question about being in love, he knew that in his heart there was a great deal of love for her. There had been for so very long, months before she died the second time. He was certain that the love he felt for her could quite easily transform into the type of love that could drop him to his knees in seconds. And as she kissed him, he could sense that there was much more on her side as well. This wasn’t about desire or sex…
Well, not completely about desire or sex.
They could work out the details later – possibly in the morning, probably in the next few weeks.
For now, they were both amenable to the shift in their relationship with one another.
That’s what mattered.