Giles cursed softly, dropping the wooden spoon onto the counter as he turned the hob off. He sighed as his doorbell rang, glancing at the clock and furrowing his brow. He licked his thumb clean of the sauce that had splattered on him as he walked to the door. A warm smile appeared on his face as he opened the door.
“Buffy, what a surprise.”
Buffy raised an eyebrow at him as he took a step back, silently inviting her in. “That’s a different look for you.”
He looked down and chuckled. “Ah…I’m making dinner – the, uh…the sauce is a tad bit more bubbly than I intended.”
She grinned brightly at him as he closed the door. “Though, I do remember your kitchen mishaps...I was talking about the beard.”
“Oh…” He rubbed his jaw and shrugged a shoulder. “Thought I’d see how it’d go. Was giving it another week before making the final decision on whether or not to keep it.”
“It actually doesn’t look that bad.” She commented softly. “How are you?”
“I’m…trying not to let the stress of the job get to me, but that works better in theory, it seems.” He smiled. “And thank you. Not ‘that bad’ helps the decision quite a bit, actually.”
He paused for a moment and then cleared his throat. “How are you?”
“Better now, I think.”
“You look…well.” He replied. “I wish you’d let me come.”
“You would’ve just panicked, Giles. And really…it looked a hell of a lot worse than it actually was. But, I really…really…appreciate you calling me.”
He ducked his head, a small smile playing at his lips. “I was certain you were going to tell me to stop. That it was too much.”
“If it had been anyone else, I would have.” She answered honestly. “And, uh…it occurs to me that I didn’t ask if this was okay…me just dropping in like this.”
“It’s always okay. You know you don’t need an invitation, Buffy.” He gestured towards the kitchen with his thumb. “Dinner’s almost ready…I think. Would you like to stay? It should be edible.”
“I’d love to stay. You’re a much better cook than you let on.” She laughed and shrugged her jacket off, hanging it on the coat rack. “Also wouldn’t mind a cup of tea?”
“Tea? Since when do you prefer tea over coffee?”
“When it’s your tea.”
He gave her a gentle nod and glanced towards the living room. “Make yourself comfortable. I won’t be long.”
She watched him walk into the kitchen and then made her way to the sofa. She sat down and looked around the room. Not much had changed in the past year, but then…Giles wasn’t exactly known for changing the décor of any home he’d ever had. She chuckled to herself and snuggled back against the cushions.
But, the sofa was different. And then her eyes found the fireplace and she felt a pang in her heart.
She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She concentrated on her breathing, doing her best to stay in the present. No sense in dwelling on…
“Are you alright?” He asked softly, concern evident in his voice.
She opened her eyes to find him standing there, holding two mugs of tea and looking somewhat worried. She nodded quickly and smiled brightly at him.
“Yeah, just a little tired. I hate airports.”
He carefully sat down next to her and handed her one of the mugs. “Are you sure?”
“Positive. They smell funny, they’re always stupid busy and loud…and I can never understand anything anyone is saying over the intercom system.” She paused as he stared at her in confusion. Then she smiled and patted his thigh. “I’m joking. Well, no…I meant all of that. But, I’m sure – I’m just tired, Giles.”
He sat back and took a sip of his tea. She cradled her mug between her hands and turned sideways to look at him.
“So, what’s for dinner? It smells amazing.”
“Hm? Oh…it’s just a Massaman curry. I had some produce that needed to be used…” He looked at her and smiled. “I’ve missed you.”
“You talk to me every week. Most weeks more than once.” She countered with a grin.
“Not the same though, is it?” He asked, sitting back and resting his left ankle on his right knee.
“No. No, it’s not.” She glanced around at the pictures in the room, quickly scanning each one. They all looked very familiar…and if they were newer photos, she recognised the people in them – Willow, Xander, Anya, Oz…
She narrowed her eyes. “Oz is here? When did that happen? And why didn’t you tell me?”
“What?” He followed her eyes and shook his head. “Oh, no…no, he’s not here. He stopped in for a couple of days. I didn’t even see him. The others gave me the photo as proof he actually visited.”
“Where were you?”
“Um…France. I was away for the weekend.”
He looked at her as he took another sip of tea. She sighed and took a long sip of her tea.
He emptied his mug and placed it on the coffee table. “It was a while ago.”
“She was special though?”
“Not particularly. They never are.”
She tilted her head questioningly. “Never?”
“They.” He replied, looking into her eyes for a moment before focusing on another picture on the mantle. “Do you remember that?”
She looked at the picture and smiled, leaning forward to put her mug next to his. “Yeah, I do.”
“When was that?” He asked, furrowing his brow. “2000 or 2001?”
“So, you were twenty.” He said, so softly that it was barely audible.
“Almost twenty-one.” She answered, smiling as he darted his eyes to her. “I still have really good hearing.”
“Obviously.” He whispered, clearing his throat as he glanced out the window.
“Are you okay, Giles?”
He nodded slowly. “Yes, just a lot on my mind lately. Nothing important – well, nothing apocalyptic at any rate. There are things that – ”
He was interrupted by a hand on his cheek. A hand that quickly turned his face towards her. A hand that stroked his beard as her lips found his. He froze for just a moment…and then her tongue nudged between his lips. He gasped as her tongue touched his…and then he tilted his head slightly, opening his mouth to her as he began to return her kiss.
The kiss escalated quickly…tongues sliding against one another, hands roaming and caressing…
And then he heard her muffled groan – and felt her nipple harden against his palm. He felt her shift her body, moving closer to him. He pulled from the kiss suddenly and stood, breathing heavily and running his hand through his hair.
“I can’t, Buffy.” He whispered emotionally.
She looked at him for a moment, her eyes widening. “Oh…there is someone?”
“What?” He asked, his eyes darting to hers. “No, there’s – I’m seeing no one.”
“I…don’t understand.” She said, obviously confused.
“I…can’t. Not again. I…” He began to pace, shoving his right hand into his pocket as he rubbed the back of his neck with his left hand. “I can’t do this and then watch you get on a plane and leave again. I just…I can’t.”
“Oh. Giles – ” She started, her eyes following him as he continued talking as if he didn’t hear her.
“That night – it was…well, it was fucking amazing. But, then taking you to the airport…watching you walk through the gates.” He paused his pacing and looked at her. “I waited there – until they closed the doors. I was so hoping you’d come back.”
He shook his head and took a deep breath. “But, you didn’t…and I was able to hold it together until I got back to the car. And then I wept as I watched your plane take off – and my heart ached…my god, I hadn’t felt that kind of ache in years.”
“Why didn’t you say anything?” She asked softly, standing and walking over to him. “I would have stayed, Giles. I didn’t know…”
He gave her a sad smile and leaned against the wall. “Because it was something you needed to do. You needed to be in a different place, without me…without us. I knew that better than I could have explained. You’d been ‘on’ for so many years – you needed…no, you deserved to have some time to yourself. I couldn’t take that from you.”
He swallowed and glanced at her lips briefly. “But, I can’t do it again. Please understand, it’s not that I don’t want…fuck, I do. I do want…so much.”
He sighed as she took another step closer into his personal space and placed her hand on his chest. “Buffy, please…”
“My lease is up. Scotland is beautiful. But, it’s not…here. And it doesn’t have you.”
His brow furrowed. “What?”
“The flat is packed up…the movers are scheduled for tomorrow.”
“I’ve talked to Willow. She said I could stay with her until I find a place and I’ve rented a storage place for everything.” She took a deep breath and then bit her lip nervously. “I’m kind of hoping that maybe we could explore this…us…a bit more?”
“It’s been a very long year, Giles. And as much as I’ve tried to move on…” She nodded towards the fireplace and smiled softly. “…I think about that and all I can think about is how much I want to be with you.”
“With me?” He asked, exhaling slowly as she nodded. “You mean…sex.”
“Well, I’m hoping like hell that’s part of it…but, I actually mean – with you. As in, a relationship?”
Giles’ eyes widened. “A relationship?”
Buffy lowered her hand and nodded. “Yeah, unless…I mean…was it just sex?”
He stared at her for just a moment before cradling her face between his hands and capturing her lips with his in a heated kiss. She curled her fingers in the front of his shirt, moaning softly as he coaxed her tongue into his mouth. He felt her tremble as he turned, gently pushing her against the wall.
And then her arms were sliding over his shoulders, her tongue exploring his mouth as she pulled herself up his body and wrapped her legs around his hips. He broke the kiss and looked into her eyes, somewhat surprised to see the depth of desire that she was allowing him to see.
“It wasn’t just sex.” He whispered, sliding his right hand to her hip.
She licked her lips and smiled. “I didn’t think so…”
“However, there are things that I regret about that night.” He said softly, sighing as she tightened her legs around him…causing his burgeoning erection to press against her.
“You do?” She asked, playing with the hair covering the nape of his neck. “Like what?”
“I should have taken you to bed instead of fucking you on the living room floor.”
She smiled again and placed a tender kiss on his lips. “We both knew where that was going to end up when we sat down in front of the fire to ‘talk’. You felt it, right?”
He nodded slowly. “What do you want tonight, Buffy?”
“A new beginning. Kissing, cuddling, making love, and…talking. Maybe not in that order. We need to talk, Giles.”
“Yes, we do.” He whispered, kissing her again before gently extricating himself from her.
He took a step back from her, smiling as she stumbled slightly. “Dinner?”
She nodded and inhaled deeply. “Dinner sounds good.”
* * *
He was loading the dishwasher when she came into the kitchen and hopped onto the counter. He looked over at her and smiled.
“Yeah…just kinda didn’t want to be in there by myself.”
He raised an eyebrow at her as he closed the dishwasher. “What’s wrong?”
“I need to tell you something.”
He exhaled softly and leaned against the counter, crossing his arms over his chest. “Okay.”
“It’s about the attack. When I was injured.”
He tilted his head slightly, giving her his full attention but saying nothing. She ran her fingers through her hair and closed her eyes.
“It was…worse than I led you to believe.” She said quickly, but quietly. “That’s why I didn’t want you to come. Or Willow. The, uh…the demon said some things that I needed to work through and research and…” She opened her eyes and shook her head. “I’m sorry.”
“That’s why you asked for Ziemer to stay?” When she nodded, wiping the tears from her eyes, he sighed and walked over to her. “It wasn’t an Inslein, was it?”
“No.” She absently rubbed at her abdomen. “It was an Elquist.”
Giles furrowed his brow. “An Elquist? Buffy, they feed on…” He paused and stared at her. “But, you would’ve told me. Wouldn’t you?”
“Of course, I would have, Giles. I wasn’t pregnant.”
“But they feed on…fetuses…”
“Which is why we were pretty confused when it came after me.”
“Ziemer knows? About us?”
She bit her lip gently and nodded. “Yeah. I, uh…I overshare when I drink too much.”
Giles rubbed his hand over his face and blew out a deep breath. “Okay, I think you just need to tell me what happened.”
“Have you ever heard of the Stanlottes Codex?”
“Heard of? Yes. Read? No. There was only one copy and it went missing about half a century ago.”
“The Elquist said some things…said it was in Stanlottes. Ziemer jumped into research and yeah…it was true.”
Giles stared at her in confusion. “What was true? You’re talking, but not really saying anything that makes any sense in any meaning of the word. And you found Stanlottes?”
“Turns out that if The Powers That Be have something in their possession that pertains to a specific person…and that person asks them about it…they’re bound by honour to turn that something over to the person.”
Giles’ stare was unwavering. “What the hell are you talking about?”
“Stanlottes details a prophecy. A prophecy that is about me…or us, actually.”
Giles shook his head slowly. “Buffy, I don’t – ”
“When the Elquist attacked me, it was really confused about the fact I wasn’t pregnant. It was also really confused about the fact that I was in Scotland and not…here.” She paused and exhaled a slow breath. “It was in the Stanlottes Codex that the Slayer’s unborn child could grant remarkable power to the chosen Elquist.”
Giles pinched the bridge of his nose. “Buffy, I’m really not following…”
“It took a while for it to find me because it was expecting me to be here. Apparently, Elquists aren’t known for their tracking abilities because it took a good six months to find me.”
Buffy hesitated for a moment, waiting for Giles to look at her again. When his eyes found hers, she continued.
“We didn’t follow the rules that were laid out for us…because we never have. The Elquist thought I was pregnant because we had…a night. Thing is, it should’ve been more…and I should have stayed – according to the Stanlottes Codex. And that would have resulted in a pregnancy – one that it would have terminated by eating our child and then doing whatever it was going to do with the power it received. I don’t know…it really doesn’t make sense.”
“But, you left.”
“You didn’t stop me.”
“So…there was no baby for him to eat.”
“No, but he searched.” A tear rolled down her cheek. “I thought he was going to eat me alive.”
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
“How was I supposed to?”
He reached out with a slightly trembling hand and wiped the tears from her face. “I should have been there for you. I should have insisted, ignored your request for me not to come. I should have known that it was worse.”
“Like the good Watcher you are.” She replied with a sad smile.
“Like a man who loves you.” He corrected softly.
“Giles…” She whispered.
He lowered his hand, allowing his fingertips to graze her abdomen. “Show me.”
“The doctor was concerned he’d have to…” She bit her lip as his fingers edged under the hem of her blouse. “But, then the Slayer healing kicked in and…he didn’t have to.”
Giles’ eyes glistened as his fingers encountered the lines of scar tissue. “He wanted to perform a hysterectomy?”
“He thought he might have to.” She whispered, stopping herself from flinching at his touch. “I haven’t let anyone other than the doctor see it, much less touch it.”
His fingers instantly stopped their gentle movement. “I’m sorry.”
“You love me?” She asked suddenly.
“Hm?” He murmured, placing his palm against her stomach. “Yes, since…well, for quite a while.”
“That’s a relief.” She whispered as he carefully nudged her legs apart and stepped in between them. “Because I love you too, you know?”
“Very good to know.” He whispered in response.
And then he wrapped his arms around her and held her against his chest. It was a move that surprised Buffy. She had expected him to use their current positions as a way to move forward – possibly with him pulling her clothes from her body and pushing her onto her back across the countertop. That’s how it had escalated previously with other people.
But, then…Giles was definitely not ‘other people’.
He held her and she felt more at ease than she had in months. She slid her arms around him and pressed her cheek against his chest. And it wasn’t just ease she felt – she felt safe. Like nothing could hurt her as long as his arms were around her.
“Ziemer wanted to call you.” She said quietly. “When I asked him if that meant he thought I was going to die and that my Watcher should be with me, he said no. He said that he was certain I would live…but that I needed the safety of love.”
She paused for a moment, tightening her arms around him slightly.
“I didn’t fully understand what he meant – until this very moment.”
Giles gently stroked her hair, not loosening his hold on her as she started to cry.
* * *
“Are you sure about this?” She asked nervously, following him into his bedroom.
He turned to look at her, placing her bag on the chair next to the window. “I am. However, if you’d prefer to sleep in one of the guest rooms, I’d understand that as well. I, uh…well, I’d like to hold you.”
“I have nightmares.”
He nodded slowly. “So do I.”
“I don’t want to disturb your sleep.”
He gave her an understanding smile. “I can’t remember the last time I had an uninterrupted night’s sleep. But, Buffy…if you’re not comfortable with this – you can say that. You don’t have to use an excuse.”
“It’s not that.” She sighed and sat down on the edge of the bed. “I do want to sleep with you.” She furrowed her brow and shook her head. “Literally and the non-slumber version. It’s just…once I sleep with you, how do I sleep without you?”
He sat down next to her and laced his fingers together. “What’s happening here, at this moment, between us…it’s somewhat interesting. Because, it simultaneously feels that this is moving at break-neck speed and has been moving at a glacial pace for eons.”
“So, on one hand I feel that asking you to stay with me is incredibly reckless and quick.” He exhaled a slow breath and met her eyes. “But on the other…I feel that it’s long overdue.”
“Stay…” She tilted her head slightly. “You don’t mean just for the night, do you?”
He swallowed and shook his head. “I’m fairly certain that I can’t let you go again.”
His brow suddenly furrowed as he replayed those words in his head. “That wasn’t intended to sound as abductory as it did.”
She chuckled and reached over, pulling his hands free from one another so she could lace her fingers with his. “Abductory?”
“You know what I meant.”
“Are you asking me to stay or not to leave?”
“I’m asking you to live.” He said matter-of-factly. “Come and go as you please. But, live…with me.”
She answered him with a kiss.
Long minutes later, when they slipped under the covers together in his bed and he pulled her into his arms…she gave a contented sigh and snuggled into him.
“Shh…sleep now. We’ll talk more when we wake.” He murmured, closing his eyes.
She curled her fingers in the front of his shirt, closing her eyes as well.
* * *
It was still dark when she woke and his arms were still around her. She pulled back just enough to look at him for a moment. He shifted in his sleep, murmuring her name. She smiled, lightly running her fingertips along his beard. She had the urge to kiss him, but didn’t want to wake him. Instead, she carefully extricated herself from his embrace.
“Just going to the bathroom.” She whispered when he instinctively tightened his arms. “I’ll be right back.”
“Mmkay.” He mumbled, rolling onto his back.
She smiled and slid out of bed, glancing back at him from the doorway before leaving the room.
She looked into the mirror as she washed her hands, thinking about everything that she and Giles had talked about earlier. It had been surprisingly easy for her to tell him about the attack and while she hadn’t expected him to ask her to live with him, it also wasn’t a complete shock.
She hadn’t actually given him an answer, but she had a feeling that he understood that she’d say yes – if he was serious about it. And she knew that it was a serious question – he wouldn’t have asked if it weren’t.
She ran her fingers through her hair and then dried her hands.
And then made her way back to the bedroom.
She closed the bedroom door behind her and smiled as she walked back to the bed. She paused for a moment, watching him sleep. His right arm stretched across the bed where she had been laying, his left arm resting across his stomach. His chest rising and falling rhythmically, his breathing sounding soft and adorable in the quietness of the room.
She smiled at that thought and quickly pulled her shirt up over her head and dropped it to the floor. She undressed quickly and briefly touched the scars on her stomach. She shook her head to clear the negative thoughts and slipped back into the bed.
He automatically rolled towards her, wrapping his arms back around her. She waited to see if he would react, hoping he would. Within just a few seconds, his fingers lightly twitched against her bare back…and she smiled.
And then his hands began to roam, sweeping down her back…over her hip, her thigh. He groaned softly as his fingers curled around the back of her knee.
“Hm?” She murmured, pressing a kiss to his chest.
“Mm-hm.” She grinned, sliding her hand underneath his shirt. “You’re not though.”
He swallowed and pulled her closer to him, fingers gripping her thigh tightly when he felt her warmth against the front of his pajama pants. “Not yet…”
And then his mouth was on hers, his tongue quickly finding its way into her mouth. She groaned as she returned his kiss, pushing his shirt up as she moved her hands to his chest. He pulled from the kiss and gasped as she lightly pinched his nipple.
“Thought I remembered you liking that…” She murmured with a grin.
He returned her grin and rolled her onto his back, quickly kneeling between her thighs. “Fairly certain I remember some things too…”
“Oh? Like what?” She replied, biting her lip as he pulled his shirt off and tossed it onto the floor.
“You like talking…touching…” He ran his fingertip down the slope of her breast. “…tasting…” He leaned down and pulled her nipple into his mouth for just a moment, pulling away and smiling when she whimpered. “…and teasing…”
“You liked it when I pushed you to the edge…and then held you there.” He said, his tone deep and rich. “You begged for release and demanded I not stop, to keep going…to keep you coming.”
“And I wondered, at some point while I was fucking you, if I could make you come…without fucking you.”
“What?” She breathed, lightly scratching her nails over his skin.
“I’m certain I could – but, I’m also certain that I’d invalidate the experiment with my inability to not be inside of you.” He smiled as she trembled underneath him. “I’m certain I could, though. Because, you’re very close now. But, I’m curious – is that due to my words, the thoughts I’m putting into your head, or the fact that we’ve been apart for far too long…when we both just wanted to be together?”
“Maybe all of the above?”
“This tension is too great.” He murmured, placing his hands on her thighs and rubbing his thumbs against her soft skin. “Christ, I want to tease you, Buffy….but, I’m not sure I can right now.”
“Then don’t.” She said simply, covering his hands with hers. “Just…”
“Just…what?” He asked, tilting his head slightly as he gazed at her.
“Just love me.”
He pulled her right hand up to his lips and placed a tender kiss on her palm. “Oh, I do, Buffy…”
His eyes closed briefly as she moved her left hand to the waistband of his pajamas. She watched his chest heave with a sharp inhale as she carefully freed his erection, curling her fingers around the warm, hard shaft.
“Giles?” She said softly, stroking his cock how she remembered him liking it.
“Huh?” He mumbled, opening his eyes and staring into hers.
“Don’t fuck me tonight.”
He understood her words immediately and gave her a gentle nod. He shifted just enough to remove the rest of his clothing, while allowing her to maintain her contact with him. He took a deep breath as he glanced at her stomach, moving his hand to rest lightly underneath the largest of the three scars.
“I love you so…” He whispered, returning his eyes to hers as her thumb glided over the head of his cock.
“I wanted you to come.” She whispered back. “I wanted you to take care of me.”
“I would have.” He replied, the tips of his fingers touching the edge of the scar. “I will, from here on out. If you’ll allow me.”
“Can we take care of each other?”
He hesitated for just a moment and then leaned down, lovingly brushing the hair back from her face before kissing her lips. She reluctantly let go of his erection and slid her arms around his neck, allowing her fingers to play with his hair as she kissed him back.
When he felt her hand move to his jaw, he pulled back and smiled at her. “We can take care of each other.”
“I love you too, Giles.” She whispered emotionally, stroking his beard with her fingertips.
He reached between them and carefully guided his erection into her, sighing heavily as he pushed forward. He felt her tense for a split second and he paused.
“Are you okay?”
She nodded slowly, her fingers trembling against the back of his neck. “I just…haven’t been with anyone since…”
“Since the attack?” He asked. “That’s understandable. I’ll be – ”
“Since you.” She interrupted, her eyes glistening. “I tried to move on, wanted to move on…but, I couldn’t. I know you did and I’m all good with that – ”
He shook his head and placed his palm against her cheek. “Sex is not moving on, Buffy. Not that there was a lot of sex going on, but…what I did have was not me moving on. Because I couldn’t. That’s why it never went further than it did – I couldn’t let them in. I tried, but…I only saw you, felt you.”
“God, we’re idiots.”
He smiled and began to move within her, slowly…carefully.
He was sure that tomorrow they’d talk more…and he would reiterate to her that he definitely wanted her to stay with him. But, he’d also respect her decision if she wanted to wait. But, all of that could wait a few hours.
Right now, in this moment, this is where he wanted to be. And as she moaned his name and rested her knees against his sides, he knew there was no other place he wanted to be...
He had nearly finished his thought when she suddenly shifted and flipped him onto his back. As she moved over him, taking him within her once more, he smiled up at her.
Yeah, okay…there were other places he wanted to be…as long as she was with him.