Timeline: AU, late S4.
Synopsis: There’s always been an obstacle along the way.
Author’s Note: As always, thank you A. This is my final offering for Summer of Giles 2020.
Riley followed Buffy into the Magic Box, smiling brightly. As though he didn’t notice the tension in Buffy’s shoulders, her neck, her back…basically, her full-body tension. Anya raised an eyebrow, but didn’t say anything…surprisingly content to see how this would play out. Because from her view, Buffy was anything but comfortable with Riley being here…or anywhere around her.
“So, I’ll see you later then?”
Buffy closed her eyes briefly, as though she were calming herself. Then she shook her head and turned around to look at him.
“No. I told you. I’m training with Giles.”
Riley grinned and slipped his hands into his pockets. “You can train with me.”
She stared at him and then shook her head again…this time much more slowly. “No…I can’t and won’t train with you. I’m the Slayer, Riley. I only train with my Watcher.”
“I can teach you moves he wouldn’t know anything about.” He replied boastfully.
Anya snorted and Riley rolled his eyes.
“I was actually talking about fighting, not sex, Anya.”
Anya nodded, a small grin playing at her lips. “Yeah, that’s why I laughed. You have no idea what Giles is able to do…or what he knows. He’s – ”
“A Watcher. Yeah, I know…” Riley interrupted, missing the glare from Buffy.
Giles came out of the back room and stopped, leaning against the bookshelf that kept him fairly hidden from the others as he listened to the conversation taking place.
Anya stared at him. “He’s the Watcher. To the Slayer. You have no idea what that even means, do you?”
Giles smiled proudly.
Riley rolled his eyes again and leaned down to kiss Buffy’s lips.
Giles’ smile disappeared.
“I’ll see you later.”
Buffy merely stared at him as he left the shop, the bell ringing softly as the door closed behind him. She took a deep, calming breath and exhaled slowly before turning to look at Anya.
“Thank you for that. He just…he doesn’t even try to understand and it does my head in.”
“Why are you even still with him?”
“I’m not.” Buffy said softly. “But he won’t go away.”
“Does he know that you’re not with him? I mean…have you told him?”
When Buffy hesitated in her response, Anya rolled her eyes.
“If you don’t tell him, he won’t know.”
Giles pushed himself away from the bookshelf. The movement caught Buffy’s attention. Their eyes met for a moment…and then Giles turned and walked back into the training room.
Buffy sighed heavily. “Damn it…”
“What’s going on there?” Anya asked, gesturing towards the training room when Buffy snapped her eyes towards her. “With you and Giles? Because…he’s a lot quieter than usual when Riley’s name is mentioned.”
“I’ll go talk to him.” Buffy stated, walking off towards the training room.
Anya narrowed her eyes in thought, not blind to the fact that Buffy didn’t actually answer her question. As the bell over the door sounded, she cleared the thought and smiled brightly at the customer who had just walked into the shop.
* * *
Buffy closed the door behind her and exhaled slowly as she made her way over to Giles, who was gently pushing the punching bag back and forth.
“Hello.” He responded quietly, curling his hand into a fist and resting his knuckles against the red leather of the bag.
Giles glanced at her and then quickly averted his eyes. He took a deep breath and then lowered his fist from the bag.
“We should probably work on your balance today. I noticed you were a bit wobbly following a roundhouse the other night on patrol.”
“I’m fine.” He said, not looking at her.
When she didn’t respond, he blew out a breath and turned to look at her.
“Fine. I’m not fine. What the hell are we even doing, Buffy?”
“Exploring a shift in our relationship.”
He stared at her for a moment and then pointed towards the door. “While he’s still kissing you?”
“It’s not like that, Giles.”
He took a step back as she took a step towards him. She shook her head, holding his gaze.
“It’s not like that.”
“You’re wanting him to be the one to leave, aren’t you?”
“Guilt. You cheated on him…you feel that you need to be punished in some way. And if you are the one to end things, you hold no – ”
“It’s not like that at all, Giles.” She interrupted quickly, closing the distance between them.
“I’ve been there. Granted it was years ago…I was probably around your age. I needed her to leave me so that the guilt didn’t continue to eat at me.” When she started to shake her head, he clenched his jaw briefly. “Please have the courtesy to at least be truthful here.”
“I didn’t cheat on him, Giles.” She whispered, lifting her hand to his chest.
He processed her words and asked a question he wasn’t sure he really wanted to hear the answer to.
“Are you cheating on me?”
“I didn’t kiss him out there. He kissed me. I didn’t react, did you miss that part?”
“You know that’s not what I’m asking.”
She looked into his eyes as she moved her hand to rest on the side of his neck. “I haven’t slept with him in over a month. When I realised that I was having very non-platonic feelings for you…I couldn’t…with him.”
“And yet…he still calls you his girlfriend. You can understand my concern here, yes?”
“Yeah.” She admitted softly. “I don’t know how to tell him that I’m in love with you.”
Giles’ eyes widened slightly. Buffy sighed and lowered her eyes, along with her hand.
“And…that’s not exactly how I had planned on telling you.”
He placed his hand under her chin and gently tilted her head back so he could look into her eyes. He looked at her for a long moment and then lowered his mouth to hers. He kissed her slowly, deepening it only when he felt her arms move around his neck. When her fingers slipped into his hair, he pushed his tongue into her mouth.
When he felt her press her body even closer to his, he gently broke the kiss and rested his forehead against hers.
“I’m in love with you too, Buffy.” He whispered emotionally.
At that moment, Buffy made a decision.
She would see Riley later.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Riley opened the door and then grinned boyishly. “Hey, I wasn’t expecting you to come by. You said you’d be training with Giles.”
Buffy nodded and walked into Riley’s room. “I did say that…and I have been training with him.”
He reached out, placing his hand on her hip and pulling her towards him. “And now you’re here…and it’s been a while.”
Buffy looked up at him and shook her head, taking a step back from him. “I’m here because I have to talk to you. There’s something you need to know and it’s really, really important.”
“It can’t wait? You know…until after?”
Buffy stared at him. “I’m not having sex with you, Riley.”
The disappointment shone clearly on Riley’s face. Buffy exhaled deeply and ran her fingers through her hair as she darted her eyes around the room. And then she realised that she wasn’t overly nervous about this. She was calm.
“Then why are you here?” He asked pointedly.
And suddenly she was very sure.
“Because I’m ending this. We’re not good for each other, Riley. You’re not good for me.”
“You don’t understand what it is to be the Slayer.”
“Maybe not, but…that’s only part of you.”
She stared at him in disbelief. “The fact that you say that is complete proof of the fact that you have never understood…and you never will understand.”
“Well, good luck finding someone who will. Because…that’s not something – ”
“I already have, Riley.” She said quietly.
She was annoyed with him, but didn’t necessarily want to hurt him. But, it was obvious that he wasn’t just going to let this go – she was going to have to break it quickly and properly.
He stared at her, confusion showing brightly in his eyes. “What? Who?”
“The one person who has always understood…even when I didn’t.”
Riley’s mouth dropped open and he took a step back. “Giles? You’re sleeping with Giles?”
“Technically, you’re not wrong…but, it’s more than that.”
“More than…” His eyes widened. “You love him? Giles?”
“I know this is hard to wrap your head around…”
“How long? How long have you been cheating on me?”
She thought about correcting him, but realised it didn’t really make a difference in the grand scheme of things. Plus, technically he was right. Because until just moments earlier, they were still actually together. So, yeah…she had been cheating on him…
“Three weeks.” She folded her arms and sighed. “It wasn’t planned. I had been having thoughts…and they were distracting me on patrol. So, I needed to talk to him. And then…it turned out he’d been having thoughts too. It just…happened.”
“But, you love him?”
She nodded slowly. “Yes. Yes, I love him, Riley. And I’m sorry I couldn’t love you. But, it never would’ve worked out with us…I think deep down, you know that’s true.”
“That doesn’t make it okay!”
“No, it doesn’t. I’m not saying that as an excuse for what I’ve done. I should’ve ended this when I realised my feelings for him had changed. Because, if what we had was real…my feelings wouldn’t have changed. But, they did…and things feel right now. He knows me, he understands my calling…and he loves me.”
“I love you.”
Buffy smiled sadly. “You love the thought of me. You can’t love someone you don’t truly understand…you know?”
“So…this is it?”
Buffy nodded. “Yeah. I’m sorry I hurt you. But, I can’t love you…and I can’t be with you. I care about you and I don’t want to see anything bad happen to you.”
“We can’t be friends, Buffy.” He said, narrowing his eyes.
“No. No, we can’t.” She exhaled a deep breath and walked around him towards the door. “Take care of yourself, okay?”
When he simply stood there, staring at her, she whispered a ‘goodbye’. And then she opened the door and left.
Riley stood there for a long moment and then took a deep breath.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Giles looked up as Buffy walked through the front door. His eyes followed her as she purposefully made her way to him, not saying a word. He tilted his head quizzically as she pulled the book from his hands and dropped it onto the coffee table.
And then he smiled as she slipped onto his lap, knees on either side of him as she straddled his thighs.
“So, I’m single now.”
He arched an eyebrow at her. “Are you?”
“Mm-hm.” She murmured, leaning forward to kiss his cheek.
“I don’t remember ending our…union.”
She pulled back slightly and looked at him. “Huh?”
He smiled, sliding his hands up her thighs to rest on her hips. “I remember telling you that I’m in love with you too. I don’t remember saying it needed to end. Therefore, how could you possibly be single? Unless, of course, you actually ended things with us – but, then that would beg the question…why are you sitting on top of me and kissing me?”
Understanding slowly shone in her eyes and she smiled back at him. “I officially ended things with Riley. I even told him that I love you…that I’m with you.”
He exhaled slowly. “I’m sure that went over swimmingly.”
“He took it better than I thought he would. He may have been more surprised at the ‘who’ than the ‘what’, though.”
“Ah…” His eyes darted to her lips as his fingers toyed with the belt loops on her jeans.
“But, I don’t think he was completely surprised.” She leaned into him and brushed her lips across his. “I don’t think many people will, to be honest.”
“Hm?” He mumbled absently as he slid his left hand under her shirt.
“I think Anya suspects something is going on between us.”
He licked his lips as he nodded. “She does. Did you lock the door when you came in?”
“What?” She asked, eyes widening as she leaned back slightly.
“Did you lock the door? If you did, I’ll continue putting my thoughts into motion…if you didn’t, I’ll need to get up – and if that’s the case, we might as well go upstairs where we’d be more comfortable.”
“What?” She asked again, obviously confused.
“My plan is to make love with you…right now.” He said, shifting underneath her so that she rested against his erection. “If the door is locked, there’s no point in getting up. If it’s not…it needs to be locked.”
“No…no, I mean…Anya suspects?”
“She knows what to look for – and apparently my eyes wander a bit too much to be a successful covert lover.” He replied, gently squeezing her hips.
“And you’re okay with that?”
“I’m not going to hide my feelings for you, Buffy.”
A slow smile appeared on her face. “Good. Because I’m not either.”
“Sorted.” He said, shifting underneath her again. “Now…is the bloody door locked or not?”
“Oh…no. No, it’s not.” She grinned as she pressed against his erection, causing him to groan. “But, then…does it matter? Since we’re not hiding?”
He stared at her for a second and then chuckled. “While I have no intention on hiding our relationship, I have no desire to put on a sex show for our friends.”
He smiled adorably as her eyes darkened a shade. His fingers lightly tapped at her hips.
“Come on, love…let’s go upstairs.”
“I really do love you, Giles.” She whispered, staring into his eyes.
“And I really do love you, Buffy.” He replied, sliding his hands back to her thighs. “But, you really need to let me up.”
She laughed softly, lovingly rubbing his chest before moving off of him. He stood and winced uncomfortably. She smiled as she watched him carefully adjust himself.
“You could lock the door and just come back here…”
He reached down and grabbed her hand, gently pulling her from the sofa. “I’d much rather take you to bed. So much more room…”
“Meet you up there then.” She said, glancing up at the loft. “Don’t take too long…”
“I’m locking the door, not going to the corner shop…”
She laughed and took off up the stairs. He chuckled as he watched her…and then inhaled sharply when her shirt landed at his feet. She grinned down at him.
“You’re taking too long…”
He shook his head and made his way to the door, quickly flicking the lock and hooking the chain. As he walked up the stairs, he wondered if it would be different this time…this first time together as a proper couple.
And then he paused at the top of the stairs, meeting her eyes as she smiled brightly at him – stretched out across his bed, completely nude. He pulled his sweater over his head, dropping it to the floor as he walked over to the bed.
As she sat up and reached for him, he realised…
They’d always been a proper couple. There had just been…obstacles…previously.
“No more obstacles…” He whispered as she unbuttoned his jeans, running his fingers through her hair.
She smiled brightly and sat up on her knees, sliding her hands up his chest and over his shoulders.
He returned her smile and gently lowered her back down to the mattress.
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