Timeline: AU, S4. Post-Pangs.
Synopsis: After Thanksgiving, Buffy is tired of pretending.
Author’s Note: As always, thank you A.
Giles opened his front door, startled to find Buffy standing there…her hand raised as if to knock. “Oh, Buffy…hello.”
Buffy lowered her hand and smiled, quickly taking in his attire. “Sorry, am I interrupting?”
“Interrupting what?” He asked, slightly confused. When she gestured vaguely at him, he looked down and chuckled. “Oh, I was just going for a run…”
“You run? Leaping and frolicking or other?”
Giles stared at her for a moment, rolling his eyes when she grinned at him. “Ah, yes…funny. I frolic often, I’ll have you know.” He smiled softly and glanced at her arm. “How is your arm feeling?”
“It’s not bad, actually…considering an arrow went through it. Gotta love Slayer healing, huh?”
“Yes.” He replied, leaning against the doorframe. He cleared his throat and nervously rubbed the side of his neck. “And…Angel?”
“Confusing and…painful.” She answered with a heavy sigh. “I’m sorry…I’ll, I’ll let you get on with your run. I can come back later.”
His brow furrowed as she turned and started to walk away. “Buffy?”
She turned back to look at him. “Yeah?”
He pushed himself away from the doorframe and gestured behind him with his thumb. “Would you like a cup of tea?”
She paused for a moment and then gently shook her head. “Thanks, but…you go frolic. I’ll come back for training this afternoon. Normal time?”
“Are you sure? It’s no…it’s no trouble.”
She offered him a soft smile. “It never is with you, is it? Trouble, I mean. No matter what, it’s no trouble.”
He tilted his head slightly, unsure of her words. “Why would it be?”
She gently rubbed her arm, not surprised when Giles’ gaze darted to the movement. “For most people, it can be. Trouble. I’ll be back this afternoon, I promise.”
He returned his gaze to her eyes and shook his head gently. “Buffy, if your arm isn’t – ”
“It’s just itchy…you know like when you have a scab that’s pulling a little? That’s what it feels like. It’s okay, really.” She lowered her arm and took a step backwards. “I’ll see you later.”
Before he could say anything else, she turned and bounded up the stairs that led to the street. He watched her, more confused than he had been in a while. He wanted to go after her, ask her to talk to him…to tell him what was bothering her so. And that urge was strong.
But, he also knew that…for whatever reason…she wasn’t ready to talk yet. And so he decided to give her that respect…and hoped that she’d talk to him at some point. With a soft sigh, he walked out of his apartment and closed the door behind him.
And then he jogged up the stairs that she had gone up a few seconds earlier. He glanced down the direction she would have taken…not surprised to find that she was nowhere in sight. He turned the opposite direction and picked up his speed.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
“How was your run?” Buffy asked, watching Giles’ fingers gently prod at the healing wound on her arm.
“Not much leaping and frolicking, unfortunately.” He replied, carefully bending her arm to test her range of motion. “But, it was somewhat enjoyable. Californian heat in November is incredibly frustrating.”
Buffy chuckled. “This is your fourth Thanksgiving, Giles. You’re still not used to the heat?”
“I’m fairly certain that one does not become ‘used to the heat’ unless one is born and raised here.” He answered, sliding his fingers to her elbow. When he gently pressed again, she inhaled sharply…and he lifted his concerned eyes to hers. “Buffy?”
“Just a twinge, I’m fine.” She glanced at the desk sitting behind the sofa. “Come on, I’ll help you move that and we can have a sword fight or something.”
He shook his head, but left his fingers resting on her skin. “No, not today. We could do some focus training, perhaps?”
She looked into his eyes, not exactly surprised to see a flicker of…something…there. She’d seen it numerous times in the past few weeks, but it had been even more pronounced for brief moments during their Thanksgiving feast preparations. She had been tempted to bring it up, but her panic over having the ‘perfect Thanksgiving’ made that entirely impossible at the time.
As quickly as it had appeared, the flicker was gone. She sighed softly and glanced down at his hand…his fingers still lingering at her elbow. She closed her eyes for a moment and took a deep breath in an attempt to calm her nerves.
He watched her closely, his touch increasing slightly when she reopened her eyes and looked back at him. He blinked, surprised at the intensity he saw in her eyes.
“How long are we going to do this?” She asked softly.
“I’m…what? Do what?” He asked, finally removing his fingers from her elbow.
“Pretend that nothing is happening here.” She gestured vaguely. “Between us.”
“Us?” He asked, a flash of panic briefly showing in his eyes. “Um…”
“You feel it, don’t you?” She swallowed, suddenly very nervous again…wondering if she was making a huge mistake. “I mean, something has been changing between us for a while now. And then, Thanksgiving felt…”
He cleared his throat, shifting uncomfortably next to her as she trailed off. “Felt…what?”
“Domestic. Comfortable.” She shrugged a shoulder, glancing towards the kitchen. “Preparing a dinner for our friends…our family. Together. It just felt…right.”
“And the nearly being killed in a Native American ambush?”
A brief smile played at her lips. “Typical – for us. Something always happens during a celebration of any kind. But, before that…it felt like we belonged here. With each other.”
“I, uh…” He lowered his gaze, the skin above his collar reddening slightly. “Well, we…we have a bond, a very strong bond. Which is why Travers – ”
“I’m not talking about Travers, Giles. I’m talking about us. I’m also not talking about our bond. Which, yeah…it’s very strong, but this…what I’m talking about is…it’s different.”
He hesitated for a moment and then slowly lifted his gaze back to meet hers. “I’m sorry…what are you talking about?”
“The desire I see in your eyes…for just a second, sometimes.” She responded quickly, quietly. “You feel it, don’t you?”
His eyes widened slightly as he stared at her, unsure of what to say…or if he should say anything at all.
“Don’t you?” She asked again, her voice clearly conveying her uncertainty.
He shook his head slowly. “Buffy…”
“Oh.” She lowered her gaze quickly, running her hand through her hair in a nervous gesture. “Oh, okay…um…yeah…”
She stood up and started to walk past him, then turned abruptly and went around the sofa the opposite way…so she didn’t have to go past him.
“Buffy…” He started again, watching as she went to pick up her bag…hesitating a split second before completing the seemingly simple task.
“No, no…it’s…oh, I’m sorry. I, uh…” She glanced in his direction, but didn’t look directly at him. “Just forget this conversation happened, okay? I…yeah, I’m going now. Sorry about the training and not having it…um…yeah, bye.”
He stared after her as she rushed out of the apartment, closing the door behind her a bit more forcefully than she had obviously intended. He sat there for a good five minutes, simply staring at the door as his mind raced.
“Damn…” He suddenly muttered, pushing himself up and grabbing his keys from the hook on the wall.
* * *
Four hours after leaving Giles’ place, Buffy walked into her dorm room. She sighed heavily as she dropped her bag on the floor and made her way over to the bed. She narrowed her eyes when she noticed a note on her pillow. She picked it up and shook her head sadly as she read it.
“Oh, Will…we’re going to have to have a long heart to heart when you get back. Not that I’m the person to be helping you through a heartbreak right now.”
She placed the note on the nightstand and curled up on the bed.
She closed her eyes, trying to calm her racing mind. She had no idea what she was going to do…or how she could even face Giles – not now. Not after she was so obviously wrong in what she had been certain she’d seen.
A soft knock sounded on the door. She decided to ignore it. When the knock sounded again, she grumbled and rolled out of the bed. She ran her fingers through her hair as she opened the door.
Her eyes widened in surprise as Giles walked in, not waiting for an invite. “Um…come in?”
Giles immediately began pacing, his right hand shoved in his pocket and his brow furrowed. He paused for a moment and glanced at her, gesturing towards the bed.
“Please, sit down.”
Buffy arched an eyebrow at him, but did as requested. Once she was seated, Giles began pacing again…back and forth between the two beds in the room. He paused again and stared out the window.
“You caught me completely off-guard.” He murmured, shaking his head.
“I thought we were going to forget that conversation.” She replied softly, lowering her eyes to stare at her hands. “You said you didn’t feel it.”
“I said no such thing.” He answered, slowly turning to look at her.
“You…shook your head. And said…nothing. That’s pretty much the same thing.” She said, still staring at her hands.
He sighed softly and made his way over to her. She looked up quickly when she felt the bed shift as he sat down next to her.
“It’s not the same thing, Buffy. Nor is it ‘pretty much’ the same thing.” He sat there, staring at his own hands…and shook his head slowly. “Of course I feel it.”
She tilted her head at his soft admission. “What?”
“The shift in our dynamic – I feel it as well. It became extremely obvious to me as we were preparing Thanksgiving dinner.”
“Huh?” She asked, somewhat perplexed.
“The way you moved about my apartment…as though you were meant to be there, with me. The fact that that felt completely normal to me…” He exhaled slowly and lifted his head, but didn’t look at her. “I feel it, Buffy. I just…don’t know what to do about it.”
He stared at a point on the wall across from them, folding his hands together as he rested his arms against his thighs. “And then…Angel. And I told him it wasn’t fair…that it wasn’t his job to watch out after you.”
She nodded slowly and narrowed her eyes slightly. “How did he react to that?”
“Turned it around and threw it back at me.” He glanced at her quickly, a smile quirking at his lips. “I can’t walk away from you either.”
“Not ‘either’, Giles. You didn't walk away from me. He did.”
“Yes, well…” He cleared his throat and looked down at his hands, gently twisting the ring on his left pinky. “Are you…lonely?”
“What do you mean?”
“Is that what has started this? Loneliness?”
She thought about his question and then shook her head. “I don’t think so. Are you?”
“Lonely?” He looked up at her, shrugging a shoulder as she nodded. “Yes and no. I…miss you.”
Buffy furrowed her brow. “I haven’t gone anywhere…”
He sighed heavily and rubbed the back of his neck. “I inadvertently pushed you away. I feel like I’ve been struggling to make that up to you for the past few months. And then…there’s…some ‘Ken doll looking guy’ circling around you, apparently.”
Giles chuckled nervously. “Xander. He, uh…he mentioned something about it when I asked about you a couple of weeks ago.”
“Oh…Riley? He’s a TA in my psych class – not really my type.”
“Nor am I.” Giles said quietly. “Yet…here we are.”
“Who told you you’re not my type?”
He stared at her for a moment and then gestured towards her. “Um…you did. Very old and gross, I believe you said.”
“That…” Buffy sighed sadly and lowered her eyes. “…that came from embarrassment and a little pain.”
“I’d spent the summer thinking about you…denying things about myself and…there you are, very obviously not thinking about me at all – not like I was thinking about you. And…I covered the pain I felt as quickly as I could. Obviously in the most immature way I possibly could have.” She blew out a shaky breath. “Not my finest moment ever. But, what was I supposed to do?”
He reached out and gently placed a finger under her chin, slowly tilting her face upwards until she looked at him. “You could have spoken to me.”
“Oh, that would have gone amazingly well, I’m sure.” She said, her cheeks reddening.
“Olivia and I are friends, Buffy.”
“Oh, yeah…I got that loud and clear. I mean, I always walk around Xander’s house wearing only his shirt…” She averted her eyes from his.
“Please don’t.” He whispered. “Don’t pull away from me right now.”
She looked back at him as his thumb gently stroked her jaw. “I know you’re more than ‘friends’, Giles. I’m not stupid.”
He shook his head slowly. “I never thought you were. However, you are mistaken in this instance. We are friends, Buffy. We just…we took comfort in one another that night. Fell back into habits that I thought had died well before I came to Sunnydale.”
He paused for a moment, his eyes softening as he collected his thoughts. “I never meant to cause you pain, Buffy. Had I known…”
“How was I supposed to tell you?”
“You did fairly well earlier.” He smiled as she scoffed lightly. “I, uh…I don’t want to do this anymore.”
“Do…what anymore?” Buffy asked, not really sure which way this conversation was getting ready to turn.
“Pretend that nothing’s happening here…between us.” He replied, echoing her statement from earlier. “Because, there’s very obviously something happening here.”
His gaze briefly fell to her lips before returning to her eyes. “I’m just not sure where to go from here.”
She leaned into him quickly, almost as though she was afraid if she didn’t then…she never would. He didn’t move as her lips touched his. She pulled back slightly and then kissed him again. She felt him gasp softly…and she kissed him a third time.
And then he was responding, returning her soft kiss…deepening it slightly as she placed her hand on his chest. She pulled back again, smiling when she saw that somewhat familiar look in his eye…this time stronger than a flicker.
This time, he leaned into her…capturing her lips in a heated kiss as his hand slipped to the back of her head. He groaned softly as her tongue nudged between his lips to touch his. And then he allowed his walls to come down. He kissed her with such passion that she hesitated for the briefest of moments…then she curled her fingers into the front of his shirt and shifted to her knees in front of him on the bed.
He was only aware that she was gently pushing him backwards when his head touched her pillow. His eyes snapped open and he broke the kiss, shaking his head.
She smiled in understanding as she ran her fingers through his hair, while straddling his hips. “We’re just kissing.”
He glanced down pointedly at their current positions. “This is not just kissing…”
She carefully moved to his side, purposely not commenting on the very clear beginnings of an erection that she had felt underneath her. “Better?”
His eyes darted around the room, pausing on the clock. “Um…it’s nearly eight o’clock. Willow…”
“She’s not coming back tonight.”
Giles furrowed his brow. “What?”
Buffy gestured towards the note on her bedside table. “She’s staying at Oz’s tonight.”
“Oz is back?” He asked in surprise. “When did – ”
“No, he’s not. She’s been spending a lot of time there…” She sighed, resting on her heels next to him. “I don’t think she’s handling this as well as she’d like us to believe.”
Giles pushed himself up and leaned back against the headboard. “Perhaps we should…have a discussion with her?”
“Mm-hm, yeah. But…” She glanced at his lips and subconsciously licked her own. “She’s not here…not going to be here…and I kinda like where our discussion was going.”
He successfully stifled his groan at the sight of her licking her lips. “Buffy, I didn’t come here for…I wasn’t expecting this, not at all.”
“Why did you come here?” She asked with no accusations in her tone.
“To set things straight – and everything seems to have gone all topsy-turvy now. So, I very obviously have failed in that venture.”
Buffy smiled, her eyes sparkling with amusement. “Topsy-turvy?”
“It’s an accurate description.” He ran his fingers through his hair and cleared his throat. “I just wanted you to know that you were right. Things have changed…I do feel things…”
Her smile grew. “And you didn’t think that maybe, just maybe…that revelation would lead to a kiss?”
“I…didn’t think that far ahead.” He admitted with a shy smile of his own. “Where do you want this to go?”
“Tonight? Or…soon? Or…eventually?”
“We, uh…it shouldn’t go much further tonight.”
She nodded in agreement. “But, soon?”
A knock on the door interrupted his response, but she continued staring at him. “Giles?”
A second knock sounded and she huffed in frustration, moving to the edge of the bed and giving him a very pointed look. “Don’t go anywhere.”
He chuckled softly. “Well, there goes my plan of jumping out the window.”
She rolled her eyes, smoothing down her clothing as she made her way to the door. She turned the knob just as a third knock sounded.
“For God’s sake…” She muttered, pulling the door open. “What?”
“Hey, Buffy.” Riley Finn smiled brightly at her.
Giles sat up on the bed, running his fingers through his hair and trying his best to look as natural as possible.
“Riley…” Buffy said, stopping herself from glancing towards Giles. “What are you doing here?”
“I just came by to see how your Thanksgiving was. I just got back in town…”
Giles rolled his eyes. He’d never met the young man, but he could already tell he didn’t like him. Of course, that very well could have been because he was obviously hitting on Buffy.
“Oh, Thanksgiving was…well, it was great. Made an amazing dinner with Giles for everyone.”
“Giles? Who’s Giles?” Riley asked, leaning against the doorframe and obviously waiting on an invitation to enter.
“Giles is my…” Buffy paused, a smile playing at her lips. “It’s kind of hard to explain who he is, but I guess ‘mentor and friend’ is a quick descriptor.”
“Oh, okay. So, you guys spend a lot of time together then?”
“We did…and then we didn’t…but, now we’re getting back on track.” Buffy shrugged a shoulder. “A bit of miscommunication and misunderstandings…”
Riley nodded, obviously not interested in what Buffy was saying about Giles. “So…can I come in?”
Buffy looked at him for a moment and then shook her head. “No. That was some pretty definite disinterest in what I was saying, so…”
Riley grinned. “Sorry, my interest was elsewhere.” He let his eyes wander down her body briefly. “You can’t really blame me.”
She rolled her eyes, clearly annoyed. “Yeah, this…whatever you thought this was…isn’t going to happen.”
“Hey, I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable or anything. I just…I really like you, Buffy. And…well, I thought…”
Buffy sighed when he trailed off. It was then that she turned and looked at Giles. Giles offered her an understanding smile and stood up. Buffy opened the door a bit wider and gestured behind her.
“Riley, this is Rupert Giles. Giles, this is Riley Finn.”
Riley stood up straight, puffing his chest out as he looked at Giles. Giles smiled…but held back his chuckle…as he walked up to stand next to Buffy.
“Riley…nice to meet you.”
Riley glanced down as Giles extended his hand. He reached out with the intent of shaking Giles’ hand. He was immediately surprised as Giles squeezed a bit harder than Riley was expecting.
“Um…yeah, yeah…nice to meet you too.” He shook his hand lightly when Giles released his grip. “So…what are you doing here?”
Giles glanced at Buffy, easily reading her expression. He shrugged a shoulder and smiled. “Getting things back on track.”
Riley stared at him for a moment and then his eyes widened as he looked at Buffy. “Oh…oh. I…” He tilted his head and gestured towards Giles. “Him…and you?”
“We’re still working out the details.” She replied, looking up at Giles.
Giles’ eyes sparkled lightly as he met her eyes. “But the general foundations have been set.”
Riley’s eyes darted between Giles and Buffy, not really sure what to say. Buffy took a step back, looking back at Riley.
“See you in class, okay?”
Riley stared at her in confused disbelief as she gently closed the door.
* * *
Buffy took Giles’ hand and led him back to the bed and sat down. When he sat down next to her, she smiled.
“So…not tonight, we’re in agreement there. But…”
He returned her smile, lifting his hand to her cheek. “Soon. Definitely soon.”
“Yeah?” She asked, leaning towards him.
“Yeah.” He replied, meeting her halfway and brushing his lips across hers.
He looked down at her hand resting on his thigh. “I was thinking…dinner? Patrol?”
He lifted his eyes and smiled. “Fairly certain that could be arranged.”
He glanced towards the door and cleared his throat. “More Captain America than Ken doll…”
Buffy snorted. “He’d like to think he’s Captain America.”
“No American hero for you, then?” He asked, sliding his fingers through her hair before resting his hand on her shoulder…his thumb rubbing along her collarbone.
“Like I said…not my type.”
He stared into her eyes, moving slightly closer to her. “And your type?”
“Pretty sure my type is you.” She responded on a whisper.
“Lucky me.” He whispered back, moments before he captured her lips in a warm kiss.
She deepened the kiss quickly, slipping her tongue into his mouth as she slid her arms around his neck. As she leaned back, he followed her down, sliding his hand to her hip as he leaned over her. He kissed her slowly, passionately…as if they had all the time in the world.
When her nails lightly scratched the back of his neck, he pulled from the kiss with a soft sigh. “Um…dinner?”
“Foundations well and truly set now?” She asked, smiling as his fingertips lightly rubbed against the outer seam of her jeans.
He nodded slowly, licking his lips as he looked into her eyes. “We need to take our time with this, though. As much as I want to…be with you…we can’t rush this.”
He smiled and sat back up, gently pulling her with him. “Yes, yes I do.”
Her smile broadened. “Then I can take this as slow as you need.”
“How do you feel about Thai?” He asked as he stood up and extended his hand towards her.
She took his hand and stood, lacing her fingers with his as they walked to the door. As he opened the door, she knew that she’d ask him to stay the night. She knew that he’d stammer and try to make numerous excuses.
She also knew that they wouldn’t make love tonight, even if she would be able to convince him to stay. But holding each other all night, kissing and talking while awake…there was nothing to say they couldn’t take that step.
That’s what foundations were for…to build upon.
She smiled as he paused and bent down, kissing her lips softly.
“Let the construction begin.” She murmured, blushing lightly as he tilted his head in a silent question. “Foundations…building…silly analogy.”
“I don’t think so.” He replied, giving her a wink. “Dinner, patrol…then I’ll drop you back here.”
“Maybe we can put the flooring down when we get back?”
Her smile turned into a grin. Maybe convincing him to stay wouldn’t be as hard as she originally thought.
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