Timeline: Set directly after the events of Pangs (S4)
Author’s Notes: Special thanks to wyvernwolf who has done another wonderful job as my beta.
This was written in response to a prompt for the Hurt/Comfort Ficathon. The prompt is as follows:
“Buffy; season 4; The arrow that hit Buffy in 'Pangs' is a ghost arrow and Slayer healing can't fix the wound. Giles steps in with research, support and a little bit of magic”
Over twenty-four hours earlier, Buffy had stormed out of his apartment in anger. Giles took some comfort in the fact that he wasn’t the only person she was angry with, but somehow it wasn’t enough. He found that his heart still ached when she was angry with him. He shook his head sadly as he put the last of the clean dishes away.
He turned and looked longingly at the phone. He had called her five times already, each call ending with him hanging up on the answering machine. As much as he wanted to apologize for not telling her Angel was in town, he refused to do so via a piece of electronic equipment.
He glanced at the clock and with a heavy sigh, picked up the phone. He had pressed five numbers on the handset when a knock sounded at the door. He grumbled under his breath as he punched the ‘end’ button and tossed the phone onto the counter.
He opened the door, more than mildly surprised to find her on the other side.
“I’ve been trying to call you. In fact, I was calling you just now. I…I want to apologize…”
She interrupted him swiftly. “So not worried about that at the moment.”
Hearing her words, and more importantly her tone, he took a moment to really look at her. Her face was flushed, her skin glistening, and she was leaning heavily against the doorframe. He suddenly realized that his Slayer was not well.
He ushered her in quickly and closed the door. “What’s wrong, Buffy?”
“I have a problem.”
His eyes widened in surprise as she shrugged her jacket off and dropped it to the floor. “Buffy?”
She smiled wearily at him, lifting her arm slightly. “Something’s wrong.”
His eyes immediately darted towards her bandaged forearm and filled with concern when he registered that not only was her arm bandaged, the bandage was red…blood red. He led her to the couch and sat her down before retrieving his first aid kit.
“What happened?” He asked softly as he sat down beside her.
She stared at him for a moment, and then slightly narrowed her eyes in confusion. “I was shot with an arrow?” She pointed weakly towards the other side of the room. “Right over there.”
He met her eyes, his brow furrowing. “Buffy…that was twenty-six hours ago.”
He gently touched the bandage and then inspected the red smear on his fingertip. “This is fresh blood.”
“Uh-huh. Remember when I said I have a problem? This is it. Slayer healing isn’t kicking in, Giles.” She wiped her face with the back of her hand. “Something’s wrong.”
“Lie down.” He requested softly as he carefully pushed her onto the cushions. “I’ll get you some water.”
He pulled the afghan from the back of the couch, covering her body before rushing into the kitchen.
“You cleaned up.”
“Pardon?” He walked back into the living room and sat down on the coffee table, holding the glass for her as she sipped the cool liquid through a straw.
She swallowed and let her head fall onto the arm of the couch. She lifted her hand and gestured towards the kitchen. “You cleaned up. I was…I was going to help.”
“Oh.” He placed the glass on the table next to him and shrugged a shoulder. “It passed the time. Now…do you mind if I remove this and have a closer look?”
She shook her head. “That’s one of the reasons I’m here.”
He raised an eyebrow, but didn’t question her on her other reasons for coming to him. There were more important matters at hand…namely, figuring out why her Slayer healing was seemingly crippled. He carefully removed the bandage, grimacing when she hissed softly.
“S’okay.” She watched his face as he examined the wound. “What’s the diagnosis, doc?”
“I’m not sure.” He shook his head, his eyes narrowing. “This is rather disturbing.”
She chuckled half-heartedly. “And here I was thinking you were gonna say ‘interesting’.”
His eyes darted to hers. “I do not find this interesting in the least, Buffy.”
“I’m sorry. Just trying to lighten things up.”
He brushed her sweat-dampened hair back from her face. “There is nothing light about you being in danger.”
He cleared his throat and set to the task of cleaning the wound, adding some ointments to it, and then re-dressing it. She watched him closely, not missing the expression of true concern and fear on his face. She reached up and lightly grazed her fingertips along his cheek.
“I’ve missed you.”
He looked down at her, clearly startled. He swallowed and stopped himself before he leaned into her touch. He spoke gently, under the assumption that she was delirious.
“Buffy, I’m not Angel.”
“No. You’re Giles. I’m not healing, but I haven’t completely lost my mind. You’re Giles…and I’ve missed you.”
He took a deep breath. “I’ve missed you as well.” His eyes narrowed again as he glanced at the small red patch appearing on the fresh gauze. “Rest now. Are you in pain? I’m sure I have some painkillers in the medicine cabinet.”
“It doesn’t feel good, but it’s manageable.” She closed her eyes and shuddered lightly. “I’m scared, Giles. What’s wrong?”
“I don’t know, love.” He covered her back up and cradled her cheek in his palm. “I don’t know. But, I’ll find out. You rest for now and I’ll see what I can find.”
She nodded sleepily. “You’ll keep me safe? Make me better?”
“I’ll do my level best.” He whispered softly.
She smiled. “You always do.”
When she yawned, he placed his hand on her shoulder. “Did you sleep last night?”
He narrowed his eyes. “Buffy, you need rest. You’ve been pushing yourself – ”
“I know, Giles. Trust me, I tried to sleep. But…”
When she didn’t finish her statement, he gently squeezed her shoulder. “But, what?”
“It hurt. And…I couldn’t get comfortable.”
He sighed softly. “You should’ve come to me last night.”
She looked away from him and spoke quietly. “I was mad at you last night.”
“I know. And – ”
“And I don’t want to talk about it right now, okay? Can we just focus on this for the time being?”
“Of course. I, uh…are you sure you wouldn’t like anything for pain?”
“I don’t know. Maybe?”
He offered her a gentle smile. “Accepting pain relief is not a sign of weakness, Buffy.”
She chuckled. “And why do you have a stockpile of painkillers?”
“Numerous visits to the emergency room for head trauma…and various other injuries.”
“And you didn’t take them? You just said that it’s not a sign of weakness.”
He cleared his throat and smiled shyly. “I said that ‘accepting’ isn’t a sign of weakness. I accepted them. I even took a few of them.”
“Semantics, Giles.” She grinned briefly before the throbbing in her arm caused her to wince. “Yeah, okay…maybe something light?”
He gave her a quick nod and rushed into the bathroom. He opened the medicine cabinet and after scanning the labels on the bottles, he found the one he wanted and ran back into the living room.
“You in a hurry, Giles?”
“Well…you’re in pain. The faster I get these into you, the faster you’ll be out of pain.” He shook a pill into her palm and handed her glass of water to her. “This will help…and should help you get some sleep as well.”
She glanced at the pill and then looked into his eyes. “What will you be doing?”
“Researching.” He gestured towards the table. “I’ll be right over there.”
“Promise you won’t leave?”
“I’m not going anywhere.”
She gave him a nod and popped the pill into her mouth, quickly swallowing a mouthful of water to wash it down. As she lay back down, he covered her back up with the afghan.
“Close your eyes, Buffy. Get some rest.”
She took a deep breath and closed her eyes. Fifteen minutes later, her breathing evened out as she fell asleep. He sat with her for a few moments, searching for any evidence of her being in pain. Finding none, he stood and quickly made his way to the bookshelf.
Buffy opened her eyes to find Giles sitting at the table three books open in front of him and two pieces of an arrow in his hands. She recognized the arrow as the one that had pierced her forearm. The wound was throbbing, making her fingers tingle.
She licked her dry lips and spoke softly. “Giles?”
He turned his head quickly, dropping the arrow onto the table. “Buffy, you’re awake.”
She gave him a half-grin and began to push herself up. “Yeah, seems so. How long was I asleep?”
He glanced at his watch and frowned. “A little over an hour.”
“Oh.” She grunted softly with the effort of sitting up. “Find anything?”
He rushed to her side, assisting her in her movement. “Are you in pain?”
“Mm, yeah…a little. My fingers feel all fizzy.”
His eyes narrowed as he draped the afghan over her shoulders. “Fizzy?”
She leaned forward, reaching for the glass of water. She smiled as he grabbed it and held it out to her. “Yeah…you know, tingly…kind of.”
He exhaled slowly and placed the back of his hand against her forehead. “I was afraid of that. At least you’re not running a fever.”
She lowered the glass and swallowed. “Afraid of what?”
He ran his fingers through his hair. “The arrow…well, it was a ghost arrow.”
She raised an eyebrow. “Felt pretty non-ghost-like to me.”
He shook his head slowly. “No. By ‘ghost arrow’, I mean…cursed.”
“Oh, why didn’t you just say it was a ‘cursed arrow’ then? Because that wouldn’t have been nearly as confusing as…” Her eyes widened. “Wait. Cursed? Like Xander’s syphilis?”
“No, not exactly.” He gently pulled her arm out from under the afghan to check on the bandage. “I should probably take you to the hospital.”
“Why? And…what did you mean by ‘not exactly’?”
“Because I’m rather sure this wound requires stitches.” He pointedly ignored her second question. “Your healing isn’t working properly and should you get an infection – ”
“Can’t you do it?” She asked softly as he slowly unwound the bandage.
He glanced at her face before inspecting the wound. “I can. I just assumed that you’d prefer if I didn’t.”
She watched him in silence for a few moments, suddenly realizing how little she had actually seen him in the last few months. What really struck her was the intense feeling of sadness that overwhelmed her at the thought. She took a deep breath and steadied herself before she spoke.
“I’m sorry I haven’t been spending as much time with you lately.”
“So am I.” He exhaled deeply as he gingerly placed her arm on his thigh and reached for the first aid kit.
The denim of his jeans felt soft under her fingertips. She had to stop herself from rubbing the material. “So…this cursed arrow…”
“Mm?” He pulled out a sterile package of suturing thread and set to work. “Oh, yes. The cursed arrow. According to my research, it was standard procedure for the Chumash to place a curse on their weapons in times of battle. The curse was intended to take out the strongest warrior.”
“Take out?” She winced as he began stitching the wound closed. “I guess you don’t mean on a date?”
“No, I don’t.” He turned her arm slightly to get better light on it, inadvertently causing her fingers to brush across his inner thigh. He tried to ignore the pleasurable sensation and began suturing again. “The, uh…the curse disabled your healing. However, it would have been much worse if you weren’t the Slayer.”
“Like… ‘much worse’ as in…dead?”
He repositioned her arm, stifling a sigh as her fingers touched his thigh again. He shifted slightly on the couch, willing himself not to harden in front of her. “Yes.”
“Then who’s a lucky girl?”
“Young woman. You haven’t been a girl in a very long time.” He looked up as he tied off the last stitch. “But, yes…you are very lucky.”
She blushed lightly and placed her palm flat against his thigh as he cleaned the now-closed wound. She felt his muscles tighten under her touch. “So, uh…how do we get the Slayer healing kick-started?”
“There are a few spells that I’ve found. We, uh…we can go over them later.”
She nodded as she watched him apply a thin layer of antibiotic ointment over the fresh sutures. When he re-dressed her arm, she took a deep breath.
“Giles? Am…am I going to be okay?”
He looked up quickly and met her eyes. When he saw a single tear roll down her cheek, he reached out and brushed it away with his thumb.
She leaned into his touch, suddenly craving more. “Promise?”
He nodded, hesitating only a moment before carefully pulling her into a hug, mindful of her hurt arm. “I promise I’ll do everything I can.”
She held on to him tightly. “I’m scared, Giles.”
He rubbed her back soothingly. “I know.” He thought for a minute and then looked down at her. “Is your mother still out of town?”
Buffy nodded slowly, her fingers tightening on his shoulder blades. “She’ll be back Tuesday afternoon.”
He closed his eyes, hoping he wasn’t making a huge mistake. “Maybe you should…uh…stay here. Until we’ve come up with a solution.”
When she pulled back and looked up at him, he gave her a soft smile. “I just think it would be safer. That you would be safer here.”
She returned his smile with one of her own. “Probably a good idea.”
“I, uh…you can have the bed.”
She narrowed her eyes. “And where do you plan on sleeping?”
He gestured towards the couch they were sitting on. “Here.”
“Don’t be stupid, Giles.”
“This isn’t up for discussion, Buffy.”
Hearing the resolve in his tone, she sighed. “There’s no point in arguing with you, is there?”
“No.” He smiled and took in her weary appearance. “You look exhausted. Go have a shower while I change the sheets.”
She looked into his eyes for a moment before she stood. “I could probably use a shower, now that you mention it.”
He gave her a gentle smile and gestured towards her arm. “Be careful to keep the bandage out of the water.”
She grinned lazily at him before she turned and silently made her way to the bathroom. He watched her until she was out of sight and then rubbed the bridge of his nose.
“This really is a bad idea.” He muttered to himself before he stood up and climbed the stairs.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
He was changing the pillowcases when she came up the stairs. Her hair was still damp from her shower and she was wearing a t-shirt and a pair of sweatpants that she had pulled out of her training bag. He raised an eyebrow when he noticed that she was carrying three books.
She smiled shyly. “I thought maybe we could check out these spells before I go to sleep. I mean…if that’s okay with you.”
He placed the pillows on the bed and gave her a quick nod. “Of course.”
She dropped the books on the mattress and climbed onto the bed. “Okay, so what do we have?”
He glanced at the bed and then at the armchair under the window on the other side of the room. He walked over and dragged the chair next to the side of the bed that she was sitting on. He looked up to find her looking at him inquisitively.
“Why do you have a chair up here anyway?”
“It’s not always comfortable to read in bed.” He answered matter-of-factly and reached for a book. “I found three, but one isn’t as promising as the other two.”
He flipped through the book until he found the page he was looking for and turned it so she could see. “This one would probably be the one I’d go with.”
Buffy scanned the page and frowned. “This says it could take up to three days. Isn’t there one that’s more…fixes things now?”
He looked up at her and nodded. “Yes, but…”
“Let me see it.” She interrupted quickly.
He picked up another book and easily found the spell. He handed it to her to read and sat back in the chair.
“This says it’ll take effect immediately. And…eww…it uses blood.”
“Yes, that’s the reason I’m focusing on the other.”
She turned the page. “But, Giles…immediately. What kind of blood do we need? Cow, pig…”
“Mine.” He stated softly.
She looked up quickly, her eyes widening. “Yours? Why yours?”
“I was the first person to touch you after the curse had been put in place.”
“Oh.” She closed the book and set it to the side. “Kind of explains why you don’t want to do that one. I mean, using your own blood would – ”
“I’d use as much of my own blood as necessary, Buffy. That isn’t the reason for my hesitation.” He waited until she met his eyes, then he leaned forward slightly. “Blood magicks can be…extremely volatile and unpredictable.”
“What’s the worst that could happen? I’ll start enjoying research?”
He stared at her and sighed heavily. “Blood magicks have been known to bond the participants. They’ve also been known to fail miserably if done incorrectly. I think – ”
She interrupted him. “What do you mean by ‘bond’?”
“There are different types of bonding.” He ran his hand through his hair and averted his eyes from her. “However, the most common would be emotional bonding.”
She narrowed her eyes. “You mean like feeling you need the other person around all of the time?”
“Something like that.” He picked at a stray thread on the arm of the chair.
“Well, we kinda already have that, don’t we?”
“I thought so.” He responded quietly.
“You don’t want – ”
“I do. It seems as though, lately, you haven’t. But, that’s beside the point.” He swallowed and pulled the loose thread free. “More often than not, the emotional bonding that occurs is…more intense than what you’ve described. For your sake, I suggest we go with the other. It may take a few days, but…it’s safer. And…you can stay here until things are back to normal.”
She was quiet for a few moments, thinking over his words. “You think this is best?”
“Under the circumstances…” He looked up and met her eyes briefly. “Yes, I do.”
“Okay.” She put the books on the bedside table. “I trust you. When do we do it?”
He tried not to think about her choice of words. “Uh…tomorrow. There are ingredients for this spell that I need to pick up from the Magic Box. I doubt they’d be open at one in the morning.”
He gave her a gentle smile and moved to stand. She quickly reached out and placed her hand on his knee, stilling his movement. “Will you stay?”
He tilted his head in a silent question. She shrugged her shoulders and pulled her hand back.
“I mean…until I fall asleep? I just…well, I’d feel safer if you were here.”
He sat back in the chair and gave her a nod. “Of course, Buffy.”
Giles woke suddenly with his heart pounding frantically when she screamed his name. Buffy was sitting straight up in the bed staring at him with wide eyes. Recognizing fear in her eyes, he pushed himself out of the chair and sat down on the edge of the bed.
“Buffy?” He glanced at her arm, cradled against her chest. “Is it your arm? How bad is the pain right now?”
“Pain?” She followed his line of vision and exhaled slowly. “My arm…yeah, it’s okay.”
He gingerly took hold of her arm and pulled it towards him to have a closer look at the bandage. When she sucked in a sharp breath, his eyes darted to her face. “Yes, I can see that it’s perfectly ‘okay’.”
She huffed softly. “Okay, so it’s not okay. But, I don’t want any more pills. They make me feel loopy…”
He shook his head, unable to hide his distress. “We should have this looked at before –”
He pulled back quickly, clearly startled when Buffy jumped as a flash of lightning lit the room.
“Sorry, I…I didn’t mean to scare you.” She flinched as a loud rumble rattled the window. “I…I, just don’t like storms.”
He took a deep breath and pulled her into his arms. “It’s alright.” He glanced at the clock, narrowing his eyes when he realized that he had been asleep for nearly three hours. “Now that we’ve ascertained that the reason you screamed in the middle of the night was due to Mother Nature and not a wound that required several sutures to close…would you like some tea?”
She chuckled softly. “The magical cure for everything?”
He pulled back and smiled down at her. “You’d be amazed at what a nice hot cup of tea can do.”
“Can I come with you?” When he shot a quizzical look at her, she sighed. “I really don’t like storms, Giles.”
He released her from his embrace and stood, taking hold of her hand and pulling her up. “Come on then.”
She followed him down the stairs and perched on a stool as he walked into the kitchen and placed the kettle on the stove. She watched his fluid movements as he retrieved the tea and cups from the top cabinet. When he heard her sigh, he turned to face her.
“Is everything alright, Buffy?”
“Huh?” She shook her head as if she were coming out of a daze and smiled. “Yeah, everything’s good.”
He gave her a quick nod and then turned to take the sugar down from the next cabinet, placing it on the counter before pulling the refrigerator door open. She felt her pulse quicken as she watched him. She lowered her eyes when he turned around with the carton of milk in his hand. Her finger traced an imaginary picture on the countertop.
He placed the milk and sugar on the counter and leaned forward, resting the palms of his hands on the cool surface. “Are you sure you’re alright?”
“Yeah. I guess the thunder freaked me out a little more than I was letting on.” She raised her eyes to find him staring at her in mild disbelief.
“Okay, and the whole needing you to stitch me up because I don’t have super Slayer healing powers at the moment isn’t making me feel all that hot either.”
He offered her an understanding smile and covered her hand with his. “I know this is difficult, but it will be rectified. One way or the other, I’ll fix this for you.”
She looked down at their hands, the fingers of her free hand still tracing along the countertop in slow movements, and spoke softly. He easily recognized the sadness in her tone.
“Giles, why didn’t you tell me that Angel was here?”
The kettle began to whistle and he let go of her hand to reach around to grab it. “He asked me not to.”
She rubbed her hand, missing the warmth of his. “And you were okay with that?”
He shook his head and poured the water into the cups. “No. In fact, I told him that I didn’t think it was fair. Him being able to see you and you not being able to see him.”
“Oh.” She played with the tag on her teabag. “What did he say to that?”
“That he wanted to help you.” When she looked up with annoyance clearly etched on her face, he intercepted her next question. “And I told him that he isn’t responsible for you any longer.”
“Neither are you.” She responded quietly.
He cleared his throat and pushed the sugar bowl towards her. “He said the same.”
“You’re not my Watcher anymore.” She dropped a spoonful of sugar into her cup.
“Trust me, I’m painfully aware of that fact.” He disposed of his teabag and poured some milk into his cup.
“But, you didn’t leave.” She added some milk to her tea and took a sip. “Why?”
“Because.” He picked up his cup and walked into the living room, sinking down on the leather couch.
She swivelled around on the stool and glared at him. “That’s the answer a parent gives their three-year-old kid when they can’t come up with a good excuse.”
When he turned and stared at her, she bit her lip. “Or when they’re afraid that the kid won’t understand the real reason.”
“You’re not a child. And…I’m not your parent.” He stated firmly.
She slid off the stool and sat down on the couch beside of him. “No, you’re not. You’re my Watcher.”
He snorted softly. “I thought we had already established the fact that I am no longer functioning in that capacity.”
“You’ll always be my Watcher, Giles. Just like I’ll always be the Slayer, your Slayer. She looked down at the steaming cup of tea in her hands. “I don’t work for the Council anymore either, you know.”
“I’m sorry that I didn’t tell you he was here.”
She shrugged. “I guess it was for the best.”
“Perhaps. But, it doesn’t make the situation easier for you.”
She gave him a slight grin. “You never really approved of our relationship, did you?”
“Who am I to judge?” He finished his tea and placed the cup on the coffee table. “That said, it was much easier to deal with your relationship before…”
When he trailed off, she looked up at him. “Before he hurt you?”
He shook his head slowly. “Before he hurt you.”
He stood suddenly and collected the empty cups from the table. “Would you care for another cup of tea?”
With a quick nod, he walked into the kitchen and placed the cups in the sink. He rested his hands on the edge of the basin and took a deep breath. He turned around, startled to find Buffy standing right behind him.
She reached up and placed her palm against his chest. “Your heart’s pounding.”
He gave a small chuckle. “Yes, that would be the result of you sneaking up on me.”
“Oh.” She blushed lightly and let her hand drop from his chest. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to.”
He looked down at her, aching to run his fingers through her hair. “Would you…when was the last time you had anything to eat?”
She shrugged her shoulders. “This morning…well, that would be yesterday morning now. I had breakfast.”
“You…you should eat something.” He turned towards the refrigerator and swung the door open. “There are plenty of leftovers. I can heat them up for you.”
“Giles, it’s like…almost five in the morning.”
He pulled out a few containers, placed them on the countertop and began popping the lids off them. “It doesn’t matter. You need to eat.”
She put her hand on his arm. “Why are you so worried about this now?”
“I always worry about you, Buffy.” He responded softly.
She smiled and moved in front of him, laying her head on his shoulder. She wrapped her right arm around him and rested her injured one on his chest, cradled safely between their bodies.
“You’re my rock. You know that, right?”
He returned her hug and inhaled deeply. “I’m not quite sure I know what you mean.”
“You’re always here for me. It doesn’t matter what I do or how badly I screw up…you’re here. I don’t know what I’d do if you weren’t here.” She rubbed her cheek lightly against his sternum. “And…you give the best hugs. We should do this more often.”
“What? Have you wounded by cursed objects?”
She giggled softly. “No…the hugs. We should hug more.”
When she felt the muscles in his back tense, she looked up. “I mean, it’s just that it feels nice and…right.”
“Yes.” He whispered in agreement. “Yes, it does.”
They looked at one another for a moment before Buffy leaned up on her tiptoes. He released his hold on her and took a step backwards.
His warning tone caused her to avert her eyes.
“You don’t feel it, do you?” She asked sadly.
He moved around her and stepped back into the living room. As he began to pace, she made her way to the couch and sat down.
“I’m sorry, Giles. I thought…well, I thought you – ”
He stopped pacing and stared at the floor. “I do feel it, Buffy.”
“But, you don’t want?”
He licked his dry lips as he searched for the right words. “It’s not that I don’t want.”
She tilted her head in confusion. “But, you stopped me…”
He ran his hand through his hair and sat down on the coffee table in front of her. “Buffy, I…I feel the tension between us. And…well, I do want to do something about it. But…”
She reached out, placing her hand on his knee. She tried, unsuccessfully, to hide her confusion. “But?”
“We’re both vulnerable right now. It…it wouldn’t be right.”
“Vulnerable?” She shook her head and sighed in exasperation. “Giles…”
He glanced down at her hand and sighed. “You’re extremely vulnerable emotionally at the moment. Angel’s appearance in town without your knowing, the issue with your healing, your first year in university. All of these things combined, and I’m sure there are many more…it’s…well, I’m just not sure that…” He met her eyes and took a deep breath. “This very well may be a transference of different feelings.”
“Uh-huh, transference.” She pulled her hand back. “And your feelings? Are you transferring too?”
“Buffy…” He lowered his eyes and took a deep breath.
Her eyes widened slightly. “You said that we’re both vulnerable. Why are you vulnerable?”
He briefly closed his eyes and shook his head. “Buffy, please…”
“No.” She crossed her arms and stared at him. “You told me all about my vulnerability. What about yours?”
“You have the power to hurt me.” He stated softly. “And if I allow myself to…”
“To what?” She whispered.
He stood up and moved to the stool at the kitchen bar. He glanced at her briefly before staring at his hands folded in his lap. “If I were to give in…and you accepted me…” He shook his head as he twisted the black onyx ring around his finger. “This isn’t the time, Buffy.”
She pushed herself off the couch and walked over until she was standing directly in front of him. “You think that my current vulnerability is to blame for what I’m feeling?”
He looked into her eyes and swallowed. “Isn’t it?”
“No. But, you’re not really gonna believe me right now, are you?”
“I want to.”
She nodded slowly and exhaled. “So, we wait until the current crises are over. And then…when you see that this isn’t going away…we’ll talk?”
“Buffy, I don’t – ”
“When the Magic Box opens, we’ll go get the stuff we need for this spell. We do the spell and I’ll stay at the dorm until we find out if it worked or not.”
“That’s not necessary…you can – ”
She shook her head. “No, I can’t. I can’t stay here right now, Giles.” She reached up and placed her palm on the side of his face. “Not when all I can think about is how good it feels to be in your arms.”
“Buffy…” He didn’t stop himself from leaning into her touch this time.
“I’ll check in every day. And…once the spell takes, we can start training again. And I’ll come by with my nightly patrol reports.” She rubbed her thumb across his cheek. “We’ll give it some time and then we’ll talk. Nothing has to change, Giles. Not right now.”
She gave him a small smile and willed her tears not to show in her eyes.
He swallowed and gave her a nod. When she lowered her hand, he instantly missed her touch. He cleared his throat and gestured towards the containers of food sitting on the counter.
“You should eat something.”
She smiled and stepped back from him. “Will you eat with me?”
He returned her smile and slid from the stool.
The night of their talk hadn’t been mentioned again. The spell had been successful and her Slayer healing was back in action within two days.
They had resumed their training regime and, true to her word, she stopped by each night after patrol. However, to Giles’ dismay, the past month or so she had been dropping by with her new boyfriend, Riley Finn.
He frowned as he pulled the kettle from the stove.
On the one hand, it hurt him to know that she was actively seeing someone. On the other, he was glad that he had made the decision not to kiss her that night. He wasn’t sure that he would have been able to handle it had he taken that step and then had to watch her fawn all over some young man.
He grumbled to himself as he dumped a spoonful of sugar into a mug. “Simple case of transference indeed, you bloody idiot.”
He looked up as the front door swung open.
“Buffy. Good evening.”
“Hey, Giles. How’s it going?” She replied cheerfully as she closed the door behind her.
He gestured towards the pile of books resting on the table. “I’m rather sure something is brewing on the Hellmouth.”
“Yay, fun for me.” She pouted and sank onto the couch. She looked up and pointed at his cup. “Can I have one of those?”
He quickly prepared her tea just the way she liked it and made his way into the living room. He handed her the cup and then sat down on the couch beside of her, picking up his journal and a pen.
“How was patrol?”
“Boring.” She grumbled. “Nothing happening at all.”
He glanced around quickly, suddenly realizing something. “Where’s, uh…Riley?”
“Super secret army meeting. Slayers not allowed.” She shrugged her shoulders. “It’s good though… ‘cause we kinda need to talk.”
He made a quick note in the journal before he set it aside. “Is everything alright?”
“No. No, Giles…everything’s not alright. Everything’s so far from being alright that it’s…so not alright!”
He raised an eyebrow at her sudden outburst and leaned back against the cushions. “Would you care to talk about it?”
She lowered her eyes and sat back, crossing her arms. “It’s not going away, Giles.”
“I mean, obviously it has for you. But…” She looked up at him. “It’s been three months and it’s not going away.”
He opened his mouth to speak, closing it quickly when she continued.
“I mean, I did the right thing. I tried to…” She sighed heavily. “I’m dating a really nice guy, Giles. I know you don’t really like him, but he’s a nice guy.”
“I’m sure he is.” He replied tightly.
“But, see…the problem is…he’s not you.”
“He doesn’t understand Slayers. He sees everything as a competition. When he tries to comfort me when I’m upset, it’s…like he tries to make my problems disappear. You never did that. You helped me work through them, not make them go away. I’m the Slayer, problems don’t just ‘go away’.”
“Maybe in time – ”
“No, see…I’m tired of giving things time. I know what I want. I know who I want. The question is…do you still feel anything?”
He took a long, shaky breath and turned his body towards her. “I feel everything, Buffy. I never stopped feeling.”
“But…you never said anything else.”
“I, uh…you started dating Riley. I assumed that I was correct in my observation about transference.”
“You seemed happy when Olivia came back into town.” She muttered softly.
“What was I supposed to do, Buffy?” He ran his hand through his hair. “I watch you kiss him, smile at him…imagine you making love with him. What was I supposed to do?”
He shook his head sadly. “So, yes…I fell into self-preservation mode. I pretended I was alright with your budding relationship. I pretended that everything that happened between us that night was nothing more than two vulnerable people seeking comfort. And when Olivia came for a visit – ”
She interrupted him quickly, holding her hand up in a request for him to not to finish his statement. “I don’t need to know what happened while Olivia was here. I’m sure I can figure it out without the details, okay?”
He nodded slowly and narrowed his eyes. “Where is this conversation leading, Buffy?”
She was quiet for a moment, plotting her next course of action. She suddenly smiled, then quickly leaned into him and pressed a soft kiss to his lips. She pulled back and looked into his eyes.
“Here. If it’s what you still want.”
He regarded her closely, studying what he was reading in her eyes. Understanding, concern…but most of all, desire. His hand trembled lightly as he lifted it and ran his fingers through her hair.
“I do. God help me, I do.”
Before she could respond, he leaned forward and captured her lips with his. He deepened the kiss quickly, nudging his tongue between her lips. She groaned as his tongue touched hers. She wrapped her arms around him and held him tightly, returning the kiss with equal passion.
When the kiss slowly ended, they broke apart with both of them breathing heavily. He gently brushed his thumb across her bottom lip.
“What about Riley?” He whispered.
She placed her hand on his chest, relishing the sensation of his heart pounding under her touch. “You’ve just made me feel more with a kiss than Riley has made me feel with…anything.”
Her fingers toyed with the buttons on his shirt. “If you tell me that we have a chance here…a solid chance of making a go of this…I’ll end it with him right now.”
“You’d stay with him if I said otherwise?”
She smiled as she shook her head slowly. “No. It wouldn’t be fair to let him think things are okay when they’re not. I know he loves me…but…I can’t love him. I’ve tried, but…it’s just not there.”
His eyes darted to her lips and then back to her eyes. “I want to make this work, Buffy. We have, as you put it, a solid chance of making a go of this. I want this…I want you.”
“And Olivia?” She asked quietly, unable to mask her apprehension.
He curled a strand of blond hair around his finger. “I’m rather sure Olivia shall not be returning.”
“The Gentlemen wig her out too much?”
He nodded and brushed his lips against hers once more. “That and…I think she understands Watchers as much as Riley understands Slayers.”
She looked up at him, her eyes dark with passion. “I want you, Giles.”
He smiled lovingly at her. His smile faltered when she stood up suddenly and grabbed her coat.
She met his eyes and recognized his confusion. “I’m sorry…”
“Sorry?” He swallowed the burning lump in his throat.
When she saw his eyes glisten, she quickly made her way to him and caressed his cheek. “God, Giles…that so didn’t come out like I meant it. I’m sorry that I need to leave right now. I’m not sorry about us.”
“Why…why do you have to leave?”
She smiled brightly and leaned down, kissing him soundly. She stood back up and combed her fingers through the hair above his ear.
“I need to talk to Riley. But, I’ll come back. I promise.”
He took hold of her other hand, tugging her down gently until she was on his lap. “Can’t that wait until tomorrow?”
She shifted until she was straddling his thighs. “It could, but I really should – ”
He held her loosely in his arms as she sat on his lap, one arm draped over his shoulder as her other hand pressed flat against his chest. He knew that she was torn between staying and running off in search of Riley. Even though he didn’t mind the reason she would be searching for the soldier, Giles decided to press a little more in the hope of convincing her to stay.
“Stay with me tonight.” He reached up and tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. “It’s late and…isn’t he in some super secret no Slayer allowed meeting?”
She chuckled softly. “The meeting’s probably over by now.”
“Let it wait until morning then.” He kissed her lips tenderly. “We…we don’t have to…I mean, I’m not attempting to pressure you into, um…”
“I know, Giles.” She smiled adoringly at him as he blushed lightly, and returned his kiss.
“I…I want to take this slowly, Buffy. I don’t want to rush either one of us into sex.” He gazed into her eyes, showing her in very certain terms that his needs and desires were as strong as hers. “But, please…stay with me tonight. Just let me hold you.”
She weighed her options. Stay in Giles’ apartment, in his arms, all night. Or…
She smiled when she realized there wasn’t really a choice to be made. “It can wait.”
His smile flickered in his green irises. “Thank you.”
She sat back slightly, unable to break the mutual gaze. “I need to say something.”
He tilted his head in a silent request for her to continue, not moving his eyes from her face. She cleared her throat softly and gently rubbed his chest.
“There are certain words I have a hard time saying. I want to say them, but…sometimes they kinda scare me. So, I just don’t…say them, I mean. Well, not often.” Her hand moved to his neck, her thumb brushing along his jaw. “But, I feel them…the words. I feel them a lot. Like…right now.”
He smiled in understanding and pulled her into a hug.
“I love you too, Buffy.”
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
He sat on the edge of the bed and looked at her. A shy smile tugged at his lips as she sat down and turned her body to face him.
“You okay? You look a little like a deer caught in the headlights.”
He chuckled softly. “I’m fine. Better than fine, really.”
She grinned and leaned into him, pressing a tender kiss to his cheek. “Yeah?”
“Mm, yes.” He turned his head and captured her lips with his.
She pulled back from the kiss and smiled at him, placing one hand on his chest. “Don’t you want to lie down?”
“Very much so.”
She gently pushed him backwards until his back was flat against the mattress. She stretched out on her side next to him, her fingers slowly picking at the buttons on his shirt. When he felt her fingertips graze his bare nipple, he glanced down to find that she had already unbuttoned half of his shirt.
“Buffy, what are you doing?” He asked in a husky voice.
“We’re going to bed, aren’t we?” She rubbed across his hardened nipple again, delighted to hear his soft gasp. “How many people normally sleep fully dressed?”
“You, uh…” He closed his eyes as her fingers finished opening his shirt. “You should…probably…um…stop…”
She ran her fingers down his abdomen, stopping when they met the waistband of his pants. “Should I?”
“Too soon, Buffy. It’s…too soon.” He placed his hand over hers, stilling her movements. “Asking you to stay with me tonight wasn’t about getting you into bed.”
When she laughed, he opened his eyes and blushed. “Well, it was. But…not like this. I didn’t ask you to stay for sex. I was serious when I said that I didn’t want to pressure –”
“I’m not feeling pressured, Giles.” She leaned down and kissed him softly. “Do you feel pressured?”
“Not exactly.” He loosened his hold on her hand. “But I do think it’s too soon.”
She rubbed her fingers against his abdomen, smiling when she felt him tremble. “Too soon for everything?”
He licked his suddenly dry lips and spoke in a hoarse voice. “Everything?”
She lowered her head, circling her tongue around his nipple. When he hissed in pleasure, she looked up at him innocently. “Is it too soon for that?”
He shook his head slowly, edging his fingers underneath her shirt. She grinned and pushed herself up, moving until she was straddling him. He stared at her, his eyes darkening as she pulled her shirt off and tossed it across the room.
“Too soon for this?” She whispered.
He sat up, shrugging his shirt off and dropping it to the floor. His hands moved up her ribcage and around to her back as he kissed her. Her lips parted immediately and his tongue slipped inside. Her hands moved to his head, and as her nails scraped along his scalp, his fingers found the clasp of her bra and deftly snapped it open.
She shivered as he slipped the straps off her shoulders. She pulled away from him long enough to enable him to rid her of the garment and toss it to the side. He nibbled along her bottom lip, groaning as her nipples brushed against his chest.
She echoed his groan and broke the kiss slowly, her skin flushed with desire, and looked into his eyes. “I guess it’s not too soon for this either?”
He inhaled shakily and pulled her to his chest. “We’re going too fast, Buffy.”
She shifted slightly, closing her eyes and stifling her moan when she felt his erection press against her. Hearing the moan he was unable to stifle, she smiled. “Are we?”
When he didn’t answer immediately, she leaned back and sighed. “We both obviously want.”
He swallowed and moved his hands until they rested on her denim-clad hips. “What I want isn’t in question.”
“What is in question, Giles?”
“Whether or not the new turn in our relationship can survive if we make love tonight.”
She tilted her head and thought about his words. “It goes back to vulnerability, doesn’t it?”
“Yes.” He smiled, thankful that she understood what he was saying. “God knows I want you, Buffy. I want to make love with you. I want to taste you. I want so much right now.”
“But…wants aren’t what’s important right now?”
He shook his head slowly. “We are of importance right now. This…this is all so new and I’m afraid that if we continue, it could jeopardize our future.”
“I want to lose myself in you. It would be so simple for me to do so. And…that frightens me.”
“I’m not sure I understand.” Confusion tinged her voice.
He offered her a gentle smile. “If I allow it to happen right now and…you decide that you’ve made a mistake – ”
She reached up and caressed the side of his face. “Okay…now I understand.”
She leaned forward and kissed him tenderly before repositioning herself beside him. “Do you still want me to stay?”
He nodded, quickly glancing down at her breasts before meeting her eyes. “I very much want you to stay.”
She grinned, but made no effort to cover herself. “So…we sleep together, hold one another, kiss…but, no sex?”
“Not tonight. Tonight…I need tonight to be just about us. And…technically, you’re still seeing someone else.”
She climbed out of bed and opened a dresser drawer, pulling out one of his t-shirts and slipping it over her head. “Only because you asked me not to go.”
He chuckled as he removed his pants, leaving him only in his boxers, and slipped under the covers. “Very true. I can be a fairly selfish man at times.”
She crawled in beside of him when he lifted the sheet and blanket for her. “I think I kinda like it when you’re selfish.”
She moved into his arms easily, sighing when he held her close to him. “So…what about tomorrow night? I’ll be officially yours…”
He laughed and pressed a kiss to the top of her head.