Title: The Right
Rating: FRM/possibly light FRAO
Timeline: Post-Series, AU.
Synopsis: Buffy’s restless after the destruction of Sunnydale.
Author’s Note: Thank you wyvernwolf.
Giles ran his fingers through his towel-dried hair and pulled a beer from the mini-fridge. He wasn’t sure how much it cost, but he was certain that it was dreadfully overpriced. As he twisted the lid off and lifted the bottle to his lips, he was also certain that he had no issues with letting the Council buy him an expensive domestic brew considering what they’d been through earlier in the day.
He winced as he swallowed…and then he smirked to himself. Six, nearly seven, years in America and he had never gotten used to American beer. He glanced at the bottle and then picked up the television remote before stretching out on the bed.
“Beggars cannot be choosers in a time such as this.” He murmured to himself, taking another long swallow as he turned the television on.
He stared at the screen, but was paying absolutely no attention to what was showing. His mind was racing…had been from the moment since Buffy stepped out of his line of vision at the high school. It had continued to race throughout the battle…even when he had heard her jump on top of the bus as he sped away.
He felt his eyes burn once more when the thought of how close he had come to losing her swept through his mind. As it was, they hadn’t made it through the war without casualties. So many Potentials lost…and Anya. Xander was obviously devastated, but had politely turned down Giles’ offer of keeping him company.
And so Giles had made his way to his room…at the end of the hall of the floor that had been filled by his group of survivors. The clerk at the check-in desk had seemed pleasantly surprised when Giles inquired about the possibility of procuring fifteen rooms. After all, it was the slow season in this small town on the California/Nevada border.
He had paced in his room for a while, hoping that Buffy would grace him with her appearance. After an hour, he had convinced himself that she would do no such thing. With a heavy sigh, he had made his way into the bathroom and turned the shower on…twisting the knob for the hot water as high as it would go.
He had let the heat loosen his tense muscles and wondered, as he stood underneath the near-scalding spray, if it would be possible to run out of hot water in a hotel. He wasn’t sure how long he’d been in the shower, but the water was still hot when he’d gotten bored and shut off the flow.
And now, here he was…back against the headboard of the bed in his painfully anonymous hotel room, a cold beer in his hand, and wondering what he’d done to deserve to live through the implosion of Sunnydale, California. He narrowed his eyes at the television and flicked through the channels until he found something that wasn’t either news or sports.
He smiled softly when he recognized the movie. He chuckled as the cultured voice on the screen stated that insanity galloped through his family. He finished off his beer and contemplated another. After a short internal debate, he did just that…tossing the lid of the second bottle into the small plastic bin before returning to the bed.
He laughed during the scenes of the movie that always made him laugh…and slowly found himself relaxing as the stress of the day took its time leaving his body.
* * *
He was drinking his third beer when his eyes suddenly darted towards the door. He stared at it as his fingers curled around the bottle. He took a deep breath, not surprised that he could still feel her presence…even though she had theoretically fired him a few weeks earlier.
He drank a quarter of the bottle in one swallow before setting it on the bedside table and pushing himself off the bed. He exhaled slowly as he walked over to the door, reaching out for the knob and pulling the door open just as she had raised her hand to knock.
Buffy arched an eyebrow at him as she lowered her hand. “Well, that was creepy.”
He took a step back in a silent invitation for her to enter and raised an eyebrow at her. “I’m not sure why you’d think so.”
“Oh, yeah…Watcher/Slayer thing…” She stated softly as she moved by him, smiling as she glanced at the television. “Are they having a Cary Grant marathon?”
“I’m sorry?” He closed the door and opened the mini-fridge, pulling out a bottle of orange juice and offering it to her.
She shook her head and reached by him, grabbing the last beer instead. “I was watching Arsenic and Old Lace earlier…got kinda caught up in it or I would’ve been by sooner.”
“Ah.” He murmured absently, watching her open the bottle effortlessly. “Good movie, that. I watched it as well.”
Buffy took a sip of her beer and started to pace. Giles regarded her curiously, listening intently as she rambled about the number of Cary Grant films she used to watch with her mother. She seemed on edge, almost nervous...and on her sixth pass by him, it hit him.
She wasn’t nervous. She was…
Her eyes were dark as she looked up at him. Instead of answering him, she reached for him with her free hand…curling her fingers into his t-shirt as she pushed him against the wall. Before he had a chance to protest, she dropped her beer and moved her hand to the back of his head.
As she pulled him down closer to her, he knew he should stop her. As her mouth covered his, he knew he had to stop her. When he heard the fabric of his t-shirt rip and felt her hand on his bare chest, he realized that he wasn’t entirely sure about anything anymore.
And so, after a slight hesitation, he gave in to her…slipping his arms around her as he returned her fierce kiss with one of his own. He recognized the situation for what it was…she was the Slayer, now one of many, and though the battle had been a success the restlessness still coursed through her.
There were three males in their party…one was grieving deeply and Giles was rather sure that the other one was gay. That left him…and Giles would rather her use him than to find some random young man on the streets or in a club. This…this was much safer.
At least that’s what he told himself as she turned, breaking the kiss and pushing him onto the bed. However, when he looked into her eyes…darkened with lust that didn’t necessarily have anything to do with him…he wondered exactly how safe this really was.
She wasted no time in pulling her shirt over her head and dropping it to the floor. His eyes were automatically drawn to her breasts, warm flesh encased in red satin and lace. He swallowed thickly as she shimmied out of her denim shorts and crawled onto the bed next to him.
At that moment, it occurred to him that she had yet to say anything since she pushed him against the wall. He grabbed her by the shoulders as she straddled him and leaned down to reignite their kiss.
She offered him a small smile then, placing her hands on his chest and gently stroking his nipples with her index fingers. “I need this, Giles…I need you.”
“You need…” He interrupted himself with a groan and a soft curse as she rolled his hardened nipples between her fingers. “Fuck…”
“Yeah, that’s exactly what I need.” She chuckled and leaned down as his hands moved to her hips. “Feels like you need the same thing.”
He stared at her as she rocked against his obvious erection, inhaling sharply as she reached behind her back and unclasped her bra. His brief thought of trying to stop her disappeared as her breasts were bared to him.
Instead of stopping her, he groaned and leaned up to cover her left nipple with his mouth. And then it was her turn to mutter a soft curse, slipping a hand into his hair and holding him against her. When he felt her tremble slightly, he quickly flipped her onto her back and leaned over her.
He placed a line of warm, wet kisses from her left breast down to her navel. He looked up at her as he ran the tip of his tongue around the small indentation, smiling inwardly to find her eyes closed and her lips slightly parted.
His mouth slowly made its way to her right nipple and he felt her groan before he heard it. This time when he looked at her, he found her darkened hazel eyes staring down at him. And that was when he knew, without a doubt, that this was a huge mistake.
He lifted his head and then cleared his throat. When he moved to her side, her brow furrowed.
He swallowed and said the words that he really didn’t want to say.
“I…can’t do this, Buffy.”
A smile tugged at the corner of her mouth as she moved her hand to the hard bulge still concealed by his jeans. “Oh yeah you can…”
He grabbed her wrist and pulled her hand away, shaking his head as he stared into her eyes. “No, I can’t.”
Before she could actually protest, he continued…reaching up with his free hand to run his fingers through her hair. “Physically, I can…that’s not the issue.”
“Then, just – ”
“It’s not that easy.” He interrupted softly. “Giving you what you need is the easy part, Buffy. And there’s no question that I want to give you what you need…very much.”
“But, you’re not going to.” Buffy stated, moving her arm just enough to cover her breasts.
“I’m rather sure I wouldn’t be able to cope with watching you leave afterwards.” He whispered.
“I’ll stay the night…”
He shook his head and sat up, resting his back against the headboard. “It’s not tonight that I’m talking about.”
“Giles, it’s just – ”
“I want more than a night of needy sex, Buffy. If that’s what I was after, I’d ask the receptionist downstairs to come up.” He blurted, reddening immediately as her eyes widened in surprise.
“What are you saying?”
He regarded her closely for a moment and then averted his eyes and moved off of the bed. “I think you rather know what I’m saying.”
She was silent as she watched him rummage in his bag for a clean t-shirt. He didn’t look at her as she quickly put her bra back on and climbed out of the bed. She picked up her shirt and bit her lip as she redressed. When he slipped his shirt over his head and then bent down to pick up her discarded beer bottle, she shook her head and sat down on the edge of the bed.
“I can’t love you, Giles.” She whispered.
His shoulders slumped at her admission. It wasn’t as if it was a huge surprise, but part of him had hoped…
“I know.” He replied, dropping the empty bottle into the bin. “But, I can’t not love you.”
And there it was…out in the open. When she said nothing, he heaved a heavy sigh and walked into the bathroom. Buffy stared after him for a moment, tears filling her eyes. Not knowing how to explain her emotions to him, she did what came naturally.
Hearing the door close, Giles came out of the bathroom with a towel in his hand. Not surprised to find her gone, he exhaled sadly and knelt on the floor…and set to the task of cleaning Buffy’s spilt beer from the carpet.
* * *
It had been three months since that night in a hotel room on the border of California and Nevada. She had left before sunrise…slipping a note underneath his door before leaving. The note had said that she was sorry and that she would call him once she got settled.
True to her word, she did call…but he had been out and missed her. At least she’d left a message on his answering machine. She was in Rome…she had even given him her address and new mobile number.
He had used her number a few times…business purposes only. And he had carefully steered her onto another topic each time she had whispered an apology to him.
He wasn’t angry…he wasn’t upset with her in the slightest. But, he was trying to let go…and hearing the sadness in her tone when she said ‘I’m sorry’ didn’t help. Apparently, neither did the two one-night stands he’d had since his return to England.
He knew it would take time. He was in love with her, after all. This was something he couldn’t rush. Letting go was harder than admitting his feelings had been…and he had denied them for well over two years.
He could only hope that it wouldn’t take two years to let go of them.
He sighed heavily and turned the page in the book he was trying to read.
“You still haven’t learned to lock your door.”
Giles jumped up from the couch, dropping the book to the floor as he spun around towards the voice. “Jesus!”
Buffy smiled softly as she stepped around the end of the sofa. “Sorry, I really didn’t mean to scare you.”
“Yes, well…that does tend to happen when one isn’t expecting company and then…”
“Company shows up out of the blue and interrupts a peaceful night?” She questioned when he trailed off.
“Something like that.” He answered, offering her a half-smile. “You must admit, this is definitely a surprise.”
“A good one?”
He nodded slowly as she sat down on the sofa, lowering himself onto the cushion next to her. “Always.”
“So…what’s with the door being unlocked?”
“Vampires still need an invitation, Buffy.” He stated with a chuckle.
“Demons don’t.” She countered, amusement flashing in her eyes.
“Nor do you.” He replied, clearing his throat as she paused. “Would you like some tea?”
Her amusement faded quickly, her voice taking on the same sad tone as she uttered the same three words that she’d said over the phone. “I’m sorry, Giles.”
“I know.” He whispered, not meeting her eyes as he stood up. “I have coffee, if you’d prefer.”
“I didn’t come here for tea, Giles. Or coffee.”
“Do you need a translation? Or…perhaps assistance in researching – ”
She grabbed his wrist as he walked in front of her. “No, Giles! God, why are you doing this? I’ve been trying to apologize to you for the past three months and – ”
“You’ve nothing to apologize for, Buffy.” He interrupted, carefully pulling his arm from her grasp. “Restlessness lives within a Slayer, it’s always been that way.”
He looked at her sharply, narrowing his eyes in confusion. “I would hardly say that.”
“I hurt you.” She whispered as she lowered her eyes.
“You can’t help who you love, Buffy. Just as you can’t help who you don’t love.” He replied as he sat down on the coffee table in front of her. “Please, do not burden yourself with this.”
“I didn’t say that I don’t love you.” She took a deep breath and exhaled slowly, lifting her eyes to his as she continued. “I said that I can’t love you.”
“You don’t need to apologize.” He reiterated, rubbing his palms against his knees as his eyes darted towards the kitchen. “I’ll…I’ll make some coffee…”
She recognized the look in his eyes. Flight instead of fight. It was the same look that she'd seen in her own eyes when she’d gone back to her room that night in the hotel.
“Please don’t run from me right now.” When he opened his mouth to respond, she reached over and covered his left hand with her right. “Please let me explain…because I don’t think you really understand what happened that night.”
“I know that we were involved in a massive battle. I know that you prevailed. And I know what happens to a Slayer’s psyche when the adrenaline is rushing through her veins.”
“Is that the Giles way of saying that a Slayer either gets hungry or horny after a big fight?”
“No.” He looked down at their hands when he felt her thumb rub over his wrist. “It’s the polite way of saying precisely that.”
“I came to you for a reason, Giles.”
He snorted and shook his head. “Andrew’s sexuality leans another direction and Xander was mourning Anya’s death. And last I heard, you tend not to go to women.”
“You think you were the last resort?”
He looked up at the disbelief in her tone. “Wasn’t I?”
She exhaled forcefully and shook her head. “Do you have any idea how much I suck at relationships?”
“No, I don’t…because in the time I’ve known you, you haven’t been in one.”
Buffy furrowed her brow in confusion. “Um…where’ve you been?”
He smiled nervously and licked his lips. “No. No, what I meant was…you haven’t been in a healthy relationship.”
“Okay, I get that about Angel and Spike because…hello, vampires are never healthy even if a soul is involved. But…what about Riley?”
Giles’ eyes darkened at the mention of Riley’s name. “He wanted to change who you are. He never understood what it meant to be the Slayer…he never tried to understand. That relationship was doomed from the start.”
“Didn’t care much for him, huh?”
He sidestepped the question and looked into her eyes. “I don’t think you’d ‘suck’ in a relationship…a true relationship. And it saddens me that you’ve never experienced one.”
“I don’t want to hurt you.”
“Then don’t. Just…let it lie, Buffy. Letting go is…” He sighed and rubbed the side of his neck. “Well, it’s hard and…if you keep bringing it up, it’ll just make it harder. So please…”
“I didn’t want to hurt you that night either. And that’s why I said that I couldn’t love you.” She slid from the couch and knelt on the floor in front of him, her fingers gripping his wrist as she looked up into his eyes. “I was afraid that if I admitted my feelings that I’d end up breaking your heart…because of the whole sucking at relationships thing. And…I think…maybe if you show me what a real relationship can be like…well, maybe I wouldn’t suck and…”
“Buffy, this is…”
“I love you so much, Giles.”
“…insane, you – ” He stopped suddenly at her whispered admission and stared at her. “What?”
“I said I couldn’t love you because I love you.” She shook her head and slid her fingers up his forearm. “I know that doesn’t make sense, but…”
“It’s Buffy-logic.” He finished as she trailed off.
“Yeah, I guess.” She sat on her heels and blew out a nervous breath. “Can we try? Will you let me love you?”
He was quiet for a long moment and then stood up. She watched him as he walked over to the window…and then to the fireplace…and then to the bookcase. She watched as he repeated the circuit, pausing to look at her and then pull his glasses off.
“Have you come across any Adival demons lately?”
She tilted her head slightly, obviously not expecting that particular question. “Huh?”
He hurried to the bookshelf and pulled a large volume down. He flipped through the pages until he found what he was looking for and placed it on the coffee table. Pointing at a very human-like demon with glittery purple eyes, he cleared his throat.
“This…is an Adival. Have you seen one within the last six months?”
“Um…not that I know of. Why?”
“Adivals are mischievous demons who love practical jokes. They force their victims to give into the wishes and desires of others…causes a bit of turmoil, which they enjoy.”
Buffy stared up at him, shaking her head in disbelief. “You think I’m under a demon’s spell?”
He inhaled deeply and shrugged a shoulder as he shoved his right hand into the pocket of his jeans. “I’m rather sure I have no idea what to think right now.”
“See, we haven’t even started anything and I’m already sucking at it.” She sighed and pushed the book away before standing up. “There’s no demon, Giles. Just me. A very nervous me, but still…just me.”
She ran her fingers through her hair and nodded. “Do you know how long it took me to work up the courage to come here? To do this?”
He shook his head silently, his eyes searching hers and finding nothing but sincerity.
“Three months. It started the morning I left the hotel.” She reached out and placed her hand on his forearm. “I really didn’t want to leave, Giles. I just…I didn’t know what else to do.”
He glanced down at her hand when her fingers began stroking his skin. “And you know what to do now?”
She paused at his question. It hadn’t been asked in a sarcastic manner…or a tone of frustration. It was almost like he was needing confirmation…and considering what had happened, she could understand his need.
“I’m asking for a chance, Giles. I know I did the wrong thing…on so many different levels. But…yeah, I know what I want to do now. But, I need your okay before I can – ”
He interrupted her with a sudden kiss. As his hands cupped her face and his tongue slipped between her lips, she realized that her chance was being given. She accepted readily and wrapped her arms around him as she returned the kiss with an equal amount of passion.
When he felt her start to tug his shirt up, he broke the kiss and took a step back. His breathing was heavy as he stared into her eyes.
“We…can’t fall into bed together right now.” He licked his tingling lips and ran his fingertip down the side of her neck. “As much as I want…it would be a tremendous…I can’t give you everything tonight.”
She smiled softly at his nervous stammer, understanding with perfect clarity what he was trying to say.
“We can take this as slow as we need to, Giles. I don’t want to hurt you any more than I already have.”
“Thank you.” He whispered, swallowing the sudden lump in his throat. “Would you like to stay? I mean…there’s a guest room…and you’re more than welcome to be my…um…guest…for as long as you’d like.”
“What if I come to the decision that I don’t want to leave?”
He gave her a gentle smile and leaned back down, brushing his lips across hers. “We’ll discuss that should it occur.”
She returned his smile, knowing that she’d already made the decision…but also knowing that she couldn’t tell him now. Instead, she took her turn at softly kissing his lips and then mentioning something about dinner.
He glanced at the window and chuckled when he realized that the sun had set long ago. He cleared his throat and nudged her towards the couch.
“Make yourself comfortable…and I’ll see what I can do about finding sustenance for you.”
She laughed softly as she sat down, her eyes growing bright as he walked over to the front door and turned the lock.
Some things never changed.
“I love you.” She whispered emotionally. “I just hope that maybe you can love me again sometime.”
His journey to the kitchen was halted by her soft statement. He looked over at her and gazed into her eyes, a little surprised to see tears in them.
“I never stopped, Buffy. There will be no ‘I love you again’ because I’ve loved you always.” When he heard her gasp, he blindly gestured to the kitchen behind him. “I, uh…I made a lasagna last night…it was perfectly edible. I could, uh…warm some up if you’d like. Or…I can put a chicken in the oven.”
He furrowed his brow and lowered his eyes. “No, that would take too long. Um…we could – ”
“Lasagna sounds perfect.” She smiled. “Kinda like you.”
He looked back up and snorted adorably. “I’m rather sure I’m far from perfect. But the lasagna wasn’t half bad.”
“Can I help you with anything?”
“You already have.” He gave her the sweetest smile she’d ever seen and continued as her confusion shone in her eyes. “You really are quite lovely.”
And with that, he left the room to prepare their dinner. She stared at the kitchen door for long minutes before the smile found its way to her lips.
At that moment, there was no doubt in her mind that she’d finally made the right decision…for once in her life.