Buffy looked out the window as Giles drove the car along the road leading to the house. She supposed that technically it was the driveway, but the house was so far back from the main road that it had bypassed ‘driveway’ status a few hundred metres back.
He glanced over at her as he pulled up to the house and killed the engine. “So…we’re here.”
“Uh-huh…” She murmured, opening the door and climbing out of the car.
He got out as well, stretching his back as he watched her. He smiled as her eyes widened in awe.
“Wow…” She sighed. “Giles, this is…beautiful.”
“Mm-hm.” He agreed, walking around the car to stand behind her. He slipped his arms around her and gently pulled her back against his chest. “There is a calmness here that I’ve never experienced elsewhere.”
She relaxed into his embrace, running her fingertips along his arm. “You’ve shown me pictures, but…they don’t really do this place justice. I can so understand why you missed home so much.”
“I’m happy to be able to share it with you.” He whispered, leaning down to place a soft kiss on the side of her neck. “I should have brought you here years ago.”
She turned in his arms and slid her hands up his chest to his neck. “We’re here now…”
He nodded slowly as her right hand moved to the back of his neck and she raised up on her toes. “Mm-hm.”
She gave him a quick smile before gently applying some pressure on his neck, silently requesting him to lean towards her. He granted her request without question, sighing softly as her lips touched his. He deepened the kiss quickly, gripping her hip as her mouth opened under his.
When her nails scratched the nape of his neck, moments after her tongue slid against his, he pulled from the kiss and cleared his throat.
“We, uh…we should take our things inside…”
She looked at him curiously and then bit her lip as she pulled her arms from around his neck. “Oh. I’m sorry. I thought that – ”
He quickly pulled her against him, interrupting her unnecessary apology. He inhaled sharply at the contact of her body pressed against the obvious beginnings of an erection.
“You thought correctly, love.”
She took a shuddering breath, curling her fingers in the front of his shirt. “Then why did you stop us?”
He smiled warmly, casting a quick nod towards the house. “Let’s go inside, okay?”
“Please, Buffy.” He whispered, lifting his left hand to push the hair back from her face. “Just come inside with me.”
She looked into his eyes and nodded slowly. “Okay. But, I expect a tour later…because I want to meet your horses.”
“I’ll even take you for a ride.”
She arched an eyebrow at him. “Oh?”
He chuckled softly and took a step back from her, pulling the keys from his pocket. He handed them to her and gestured towards the door.
“The kitchen is down the hall and to the left. If you wouldn’t mind putting the kettle on, I’ll bring our bags in.”
“The kettle? You want tea? Now?” She asked, even as she curled her fingers around the keys.
“I want you.” He replied, stroking the side of her hand with his index finger. “Long flight, two hour drive…I just need a moment.”
She gave him an understanding smile and leaned forward to press a kiss to his chest. “Okay, tea…and a moment.”
She felt her heart melt at the soft, thankful response he had given her. He needed a moment…and it was suddenly very clear that it had to do with more than a long flight and a drive.
“As long as that moment needs to be, yeah?”
He took a deep breath and gave her a nod. Then he watched her as she walked away from him, unlocked the door and went inside. He hesitated briefly before making his way back to the boot of the car to retrieve their bags.
* * *
The kettle had finished boiling ages earlier. In fact, his tea had been ready to drink for at least ten minutes. She sat on the sofa, sipping her mug of tea – and keeping one eye trained on the hallway. As far as she knew, he hadn’t even left the bedroom.
She sighed heavily and placed her mug on a coaster on the lamp table before standing up. She took a step towards the hallway and then paused…and wondered if she should give him more time to himself. Then she shook her head and started walking.
It was a big house…with a lot of rooms – and he hadn’t actually told her which room was the one they’d be staying in. She slowed her pace and concentrated – tapping into something that she wasn’t sure was even still completely active. After all, when she was resurrected, she didn’t actually take the time to try to hone in on him – she just ran to his place, hoping that he was there. And there hadn’t been a reason to hone since then because they hadn’t been apart.
She tilted her head slightly as she passed a staircase – she felt the pull and she allowed herself to follow it. Up the stairs, to the left…she bypassed the first door and the second. She stopped at the third and turned her head to look at the door across the hall. After a brief hesitation, she walked across the hall and gently opened the door.
She smiled, silently congratulating herself on a hone well done – and then her smile faded because he didn’t look exactly happy. He was sitting on the edge of the bed, leaning forward with his arms resting on his thighs as he stared at the floor.
He looked up as she walked into the room. “Hey…”
“Hey?” She arched an eyebrow at him. “You okay? You, uh…kinda left me alone down there and I didn’t know where you went.”
“I said I was bringing our bags in…” He said, confusion in his tone.
“Uh-huh…but, it’s not like this is a two bedroom apartment.”
“Oh. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to disappear…”
“It’s okay, I found you.” She smiled softly as she stood in front of him, sliding her fingertips along his jaw. “I…honed.”
He tilted his head upwards, returning her smile as she leaned down to kiss him. When his hands curled around her knees, but he hesitated when she attempted to deepen the kiss, she pulled back and looked at him.
“Are you sure you’re okay?”
“I…don’t know.” He answered honestly, swallowing as his thumbs rubbed slow circles across the inside of her knees.
“I thought you wanted this…”
“I do.” He replied quickly, his thumbs continuing to move. “Christ, I want you, Buffy. It’s just…you were gone – and I was angry and probably a borderline alcoholic. And…”
She rested her hands on his shoulders, looking into his eyes as she asked a question to which she wasn’t sure she wanted to hear the answer. “Giles…how angry were you with me?”
His eyes glistened, his thumbs stopped moving. “There were peaks and valleys. And then the guilt would eat at me.”
He sighed heavily and dropped his hands. She instantly missed his touch.
“You died saving the world, how could I be angry with you for that?”
She blew out a breath and moved to sit next to him on the bed. “Because it cheated you out of the life you wanted. I cheated you out of that life. Anger is normal in that instance, I’d think.”
He lowered his head, staring at the floor again. “I couldn’t even look at Dawn – I didn’t want to be anywhere near her. She was just a reminder that you were gone – you left me for her…and for about ten seconds, I hated you for it. And then I felt guilty because it wasn’t Dawn’s fault. She had no idea what you were going to do – she was the one true innocent in all of that. I came out of it as a murderer who had lost everything…integrity, vocation…love.”
“You consider yourself a murderer? Seriously? What the fuck, Rupert?”
“I killed him, Buffy. I smothered him and I watched him die…I don’t even think my heartrate increased as he tried to struggle. And as the light in his eyes dimmed, I felt…nothing.”
“You did what you had to do. Because I put you in that position.”
“You are a hero.” He whispered.
“You’re my hero.” She whispered back, allowing a tear to escape when he lifted his head to look at her. “You always were.”
“Are you even ready for this? For us…here…”
“Here as in England? Or here as in…bed?”
“Both.” He replied, licking his suddenly dry lips. “I, uh…I’m having a very hard time controlling myself right now. But, I’m not sure you’re ready for that…”
“Giles…how many times have we made love?”
“Too many times to count.” He answered, glancing at her lips.
“So…” She smiled, sliding her hand to rest on his thigh. “…what would make you think I’m not ready?”
“It’s been months, Buffy.” He said quietly, sadly.
“Yeah, it has. And if anything, that has made me very ready.” She leaned over and placed a soft kiss just under his ear. “Can I ask you something?”
“How many times have you…you know…been with someone?”
His brow furrowed as he stared into her eyes. “None.”
She looked completely shocked by that admission…and he wasn’t sure exactly how he was supposed to feel about that. Annoyed…angry…heartbroken…that she obviously assumed that he would have slept with someone after she died. She read his emotions quickly and rushed to explain her reaction.
“It’s just…it would have been understandable. It’s not like you thought I’d be coming back and…I’ve only ever wanted you to be happy. I would have expected you to move on.”
“You would have expected me to be in another relationship less than 147 days after you died? Do you even know me?”
“Okay, that’s not exactly what I mean, Giles. Relationship that soon? No. But, sex? Well, yeah…because sex can be a grief-reliever. Especially anonymous, one night…” She saw the flash in his eyes and she took a deep breath. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean – ”
“I kissed Ethan.” He interrupted. “But, it didn’t go further than that. And there was no one else. I…couldn’t, not yet.”
“Who stopped it? The kiss.”
“He did. And I immediately felt bad…on a few different levels.”
“He loves you, you know.” She exhaled a slow breath. “I felt it through the magick when they brought me back.”
“I know.” He admitted softly. “That’s why he stopped it. He knew I could never give him what he wants…and it was extremely unfair and…unkind…for me to put him through that. Especially knowing that he’s worked very hard to deal with those feelings.”
“So you were angry with me, angry with yourself…and guilty for all of the feelings you were feeling?”
“That’s about right.”
She smiled and then shifted onto his lap, resting her knees either side of his hips as she draped her arms over his shoulders. “Sounds pretty much like human nature to me.”
“What are you doing?”
“We’ve been apart for quite a while…and I’m having all kinds of warm and fuzzy feelings.”
“Buffy, we should talk about…”
“How much we want to be taking advantage of these lovely clean sheets that you’ve just put on the bed?” She interjected, giving him a wink when he stared at her.
“Well, that’s not exactly where I was going with that line of thought.”
“No, it wasn’t. You were going to go in the complete opposite direction. And that’s not the direction we need to be going. At least not right now.”
“Are you sure about this?” He asked, concern evident in his voice.
She nodded and leaned into him, placing a warm kiss on his lips. She kissed him slowly, deliberately…and when his mouth opened under hers, she deepened the kiss. And then her tongue touched his…and a groan rumbled in his chest, causing her to tremble against him.
He grumbled in annoyance as she pulled from the kiss. She chuckled softly and pulled her shirt up over her head, dropping it to the side. His grumble immediately ended, his eyes darkening a shade as she started working on the buttons of his shirt.
She sighed heavily as she unbuttoned the top button. “Fucking layers…”
He chuckled softly at her mutter, but said nothing and allowed her to continue. One button gave her some difficulty and she huffed in frustration. He smiled as he pulled the button free on her jeans.
“Anything special about this shirt?”
“What do you mean?”
She sat on his thighs and looked into his eyes. “Like…did anyone buy it for you, is it one that’s a favourite, is it super expensive, can I just rip this fucking button off so we can get to where we’re going?”
“I bought it, it’s okay but not a favourite, it wasn’t inexpensive, yes…yes, you can rip the button off…”
She curled her fingers in the material of his shirt and stared into his eyes. And then she pulled…and he groaned as the remaining buttons were ripped from the shirt. Before he could say anything, she pushed the ruined shirt down his arms, recapturing his mouth with hers as she did. As soon as his arms were free of the sleeves, his hands moved to her back. He effortlessly flicked the clasp of her bra open.
His mouth moved to her neck as he pulled her bra off and dropped it somewhere to his left. Her fingers grabbed the hem of his t-shirt and she pulled it up and off quickly. She smiled at the soft grumble as he was forced to pause his tender assault on her neck.
He met her eyes as she tossed his shirt over her shoulder. “Something funny?”
“No, not funny. But definitely adorable.”
He returned her smile, wrapping his arms around her before turning their bodies so he could push her down to the mattress. “Adorable?”
“Uh-huh…” She gasped, moving her hands between them to unbutton his jeans. She carefully, but quickly, pulled the zipper down and grinned as he inhaled sharply when her fingers brushed over his erection. “Super adorable.”
He nudged her up the bed until her head was resting on the pillow and then he sat on his heels and…just looked at her. She watched him for a moment – his eyes taking in every curve of her body, clothed and unclothed. His gaze paused on her breasts, as it always had, and then returned to her eyes.
“You okay?” She asked softly, wrapping her fingers around his wrist.
He nodded slowly, placing his right hand on her sternum. “I’ve missed you more than I can express, Buffy.”
“I know.” She whispered, gently tugging his wrist. “But, I’m here now.”
He followed the tug, allowing her to pull him towards her. He leaned over her, moving his hand from her sternum to the mattress to support his weight above her.
“I love you.”
“I love you.” She replied, placing her hand on his chest.
He licked his lips, resting his left hand on her hip. “Are you sure you want to do this right now?”
She looked into his eyes, a slow smile appearing on her lips. His gaze drifted from her eyes to her hands…hands which were leaving his body to push her jeans down over her hips. He shifted above her as she lifted her hips, sliding her jeans down her thighs.
“Yours need to come off too, love.” She said with a grin.
He arched an eyebrow at her. “Love? Since when do you call me ‘love’?”
“Since now.” She bit her bottom lip, pulling her legs free of her jeans. “You good with that?”
“You, uh…” He paused briefly as she started pushing his jeans down. He glanced down as his erection was freed and her fingers curled around the warm shaft. “You…can call me anything.”
She stroked him slowly, rubbing her thumb along the underside of the glans. “Mine?”
“Mm…” He murmured, lowering his mouth to her breast. He placed a line of kisses along the slope before running his tongue over her nipple.
His eyes darted to her face when she jumped under his touch. She offered him a smile, sliding her free hand into his hair. His answering smile shone in his eyes as he pulled the nipple into his warm mouth.
“Giles…” She pushed at his jeans with her foot. “…these really need to come off…”
“Busy…” He mumbled as he moved his mouth to her other breast.
“Please…” She whispered, sighing as he pulled her hand from his cock before allowing his mouth to kiss its way to her navel.
He hooked his fingers in the waistband of her underwear and looked up at her. “May I?”
“Pretty sure I’d beg you to right about now.”
He chuckled adorably and quickly removed her underwear. Then he took care of the rest of his own clothing, dropping everything into a heap on the floor. He smiled as he moved back to her, his smile grew when she gasped as he lovingly nuzzled her inner thigh before placing a soft kiss on her skin.
She blew out a soft breath, sliding her legs over his shoulders. “I’m good, Ru…”
He gave her a silent nod, then carefully parted her lower lips with his thumbs. She gasped again as he placed a warm kiss just below her clitoris, then moaned his name as he gently traced her folds with his tongue. He stamped down the intense emotion he suddenly felt, knowing that if he didn’t he’d break down into sobs at that moment.
He closed his eyes, taking in the taste…the feel…and inhaled deeply to stop himself from devouring her. Two things she didn’t need right now were tears and impatience. What she did need was attention and –
“I need you, Giles.” She groaned as he slowly pushed his tongue into her.
He looked up to find her staring down at him. He thrust his tongue three times, then replaced his tongue with a finger as he moved his mouth to cover her clit. He sucked and nibbled at the hardened nub, adding a second finger and curling them slightly inside of her. He pulled her clit into his mouth, gently holding it with his teeth as he flicked his tongue against it. He was rewarded with a loud moan and the sensation of her inner walls tightening around his fingers.
Her right hand moved to his head, fingers curling in his hair as she dug her heels into his back. And then she was whimpering his name, her body trembling underneath him, her nails scratching at his scalp. He watched her face as he pushed her closer to orgasm – a sight that, a week ago, he was sure he’d never see again. And a beautiful sight it was.
He’d barely been able to finish the thought before she cried his name as she came…her fluids hot and copious as her hips arched against his mouth.
He smiled as she took a few shaky breaths and looked at him apologetically. “Love…”
“Wow, that was a lot quicker than I was expecting…” She whispered, her voice trembling.
He placed a kiss on her thigh before moving back up her body, kneeling between her thighs as she curled her legs around his hips.
“Well, it’s been a while.” He said softly, leaning over to open the drawer on the bedside table. “If it makes you feel any better, I was dangerously close to coming with you.”
She furrowed her brow, her fingers twitching against his ribs as he pulled a box of condoms out of the drawer. “What are you doing?”
He pulled a foil packet out of the box and then quickly looked at her. “Oh, I’m sorry – I thought we…”
“Yeah, we are. It’s just…why the condom?” When she saw the confusion in his eyes, she continued. “We were talking about starting a family before everything happened. So…why the condom?”
He sighed, leaning down and supporting his weight with his left forearm on the mattress. He held the packet in his left hand, the fingers of his right hand tenderly stroked the side of her face.
“Because everything happened, love.”
“And now you don’t want a family?”
His thumb brushed along her cheekbone as he gazed into her eyes. “We need time to work through what’s happened. Neither of us are the same people we were five months ago. We will start a family, Buffy, if that’s what you still want – but, we need to take the time to address what you’ve been through, okay?”
“But…you still want a baby with me, right?”
“Yes.” He whispered. “I very much do.”
“I love you so much.” She whispered back, tears filling her eyes.
He kissed her then – deeply and full of intention. His hand moved to her hip, gripping her tightly as her tongue slipped into his mouth. They kissed for what felt like hours before he moved his mouth to her collarbone, sucking and nipping at her skin. She shifted underneath him, rubbing her foot along the back of his thigh.
“Giles…condom. Because, I’m two seconds away from flipping you over…”
“You’re sure you want this right now?” He asked, lips hovering above her skin.
She gripped his shoulders and pushed him to the left, following him over. She smiled as she straddled his hips.
“I told you…two seconds…” She plucked the foil packet from his fingers and ripped it open. She pulled the condom out and looked at him. “Unless you don’t want to. It can’t all be about what I want. And if you need time, I’ll wait. If we’re not on the same page, then we should wait.”
He looked at her for a long moment and then smiled, sliding his hands along her thighs. “We’re on the same page, Buffy.”
She curled her fingers around the shaft of his cock and licked her lips as she watched her hand slowly stroke him. He tapped his fingers lightly against her thigh, shaking his head when she looked at him.
“If you want to make love with me, what you’re thinking about will need to wait until later. I…can’t do both right now.”
She smiled and rubbed her thumb over the head before clearing her throat. “Okay.”
His eyes darkened as she lifted her thumb to her lips. He groaned softly as her tongue cleaned the fluid from her thumb. She licked her lips as she rolled the condom onto his cock.
“Just a taste for now – and just as nice as I remembered.”
He breathed deeply, his erection twitching gently in her hand. “How do you want this?”
“How do you?” She countered with a grin.
He stared up at her for a moment, his eyes glazed with desire. And then in one quick movement, he rolled their bodies. He grinned back at her as he knelt between her thighs and leaned over her.
“This works for me…” He murmured.
She bent her legs, resting her knees against his sides. “Me too.”
He reached between them, positioning the head of his cock at her entrance. He held her gaze as he gently pushed his hips forward, groaning at the heat he could feel through the thin latex barrier. She moaned his name as he filled her, gripping his forearm when he paused his motion.
“Okay?” He whispered thickly.
“Uh-huh….” She mumbled, arching her hips up towards him. “Please don’t make me wait any longer…”
He gave her a quick nod, hooking his right arm underneath her knee and hoping he could hold out long enough for her to come first. He wasn’t completely convinced he’d be able to, especially when she reached up and placed her hand on the back of his neck to pull him down towards her.
He thought she was pulling him down for a kiss, but she surprised him by gently directing his mouth to her breast. She shuddered as his mouth covered her entire areola – she whimpered when his tongue bathed her nipple – she cried out as he began to suckle at her flesh.
His strokes were deep and purposeful. She recognised the rhythm he had picked as the one he had used to push her to orgasm quickly more than once – normally during moments of ‘the guys will be here soon, but fuck I want you’. A quick, hard pace that had never failed to make her scream his name.
She reached above her head with her left hand, curling her fingers around a spindle in the headboard. Her right hand gripped his shoulder, her nails digging into his skin. He pushed deeper, sucked harder and was rewarded with a loud groan and a quiver of her inner walls around him. He lifted his head, flicking her nipple one last time before covering her mouth with his and thrusting his tongue between her lips.
The quivers intensified and he pulled from the kiss and stared down at her. Her eyes closed, her mouth slightly open as she gasped and moaned…beads of sweat dotting her forehead, her skin glistening…
“Fuck, I love you…” He growled, letting go of her leg and leaning over her…his hands on either side of her torso.
She tried to respond, but what came out instead was a scream of bliss as she suddenly came. He groaned at the sensation…the heat surrounding his thrusting cock, the near-violent contractions of her inner walls around him. He vaguely registered the sound of a crack as he lowered his mouth to her neck…and nearly paused to see where it came from. But, then he heard her…
“Jesus, Ru…fuck me…”
…and decided there were more important things to focus on. And so he did as she so eloquently requested. He fucked her…and groaned her name as she came for a second time.
And that was his undoing.
His teeth clamped onto her neck, marking her flesh as he came. Her hand moved to his back, slipping through the sheen of sweat as he lifted his head and whispered the most sinful things in her ear. And then she nearly broke into tears when he buried his face in the crook of her neck…exchanging sin for declarations of undying love.
She held him tightly as he rolled onto his side, pulling her with him. His fingers trembled against her skin as he tried to calm his body. She listened to his heart race, felt his chest heave….and she held him tighter, reluctant to let him go.
He held her just as tightly, stroking her sweat-dampened hair as he fought to control his breathing.
“I love you.” She whispered after long moments. “And I think I broke your bed.”
He snorted a laugh, untangling himself long enough to dispose of the condom. She took the opportunity to inspect the headboard. She smiled shyly at him as he pulled her back into his arms.
“Yep, I broke it.”
He rolled onto his back and curled his arm around her, laughing softly as he kissed her.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
He reached over to pull her closer to him. When he encountered sheets but no Buffy, his eyes opened. He pushed himself up slightly and looked around the room, somewhat surprised to find himself to be the only occupant.
“Buffy?” He called out, tilting his head as he listened for a response.
A response was not given and he touched the pillow that she had used. It was cool to the touch…she had been gone for a while. He climbed out of bed and quickly slipped his clothes back on. He scratched the back of his head as he made his way through the house – checking the bathroom before heading downstairs.
The house was quiet – she wasn’t in the kitchen, the conservatory, the library, the living room…though there were two mugs of cold tea on the coffee table. He was more than a little confused…then he glanced out the window and blew out a breath of relief.
She was sitting on the ground, looking out across the paddock. After a brief hesitation, he put his boots on and headed out to her.
* * *
She had felt him wake up, felt his growing confusion as he looked for her, felt that confusion begin to edge into panic when he couldn’t find her. She knew when he had seen her when she felt a rush of relief and calmness.
This was new…these feelings. She’d always been able to sense him, that was part of their bond. But, actually feeling what he was feeling? That was new…and she wasn’t sure she liked it.
She didn’t look up at him as he approached, nor did she look at him when he sat down beside of her. She did lean into him and rest her head against his shoulder.
“Hello, I was wondering where you’d gone off to.” He said, leaning down to kiss the top of her head.
She sighed…not an unhappy sigh, but not overly happy either. “I’m here – listening to wildlife, watching the birds. The birds are different here…I don’t think that’s something I’d ever thought about before.”
“Are you alright?” He asked softly.
“No. No, I’m not.” She answered without hesitation.
When she felt him tense slightly, she looked up at him. “But, it has nothing to do with making love with you, Giles. That was perfect and beautiful and I’m very alright with that.”
“Ah…good to know.” He said with a nervous smile. “Would you like to talk about what’s troubling you?”
“I was a fucking idiot.”
His brow furrowed as he stared at her. “I’m sorry?”
“I threatened everyone, I said some really horrible things to all of you – and then I left all of you to deal with the aftermath of my idiocy.”
Giles opened his mouth, closed it, then shook his head. “I’m not sure I’m following you on this, love.”
“If I could go back, knowing everything that I know now, I’d follow your suggestion.” She shook her head sadly and sighed. “About Dawn. She…wasn’t human.”
“She is now.”
“But, she wasn’t then. She was a mystical being – and I think the monks who altered our memories also injected some super high power protectiveness into me. That’s the only thing that I can come up with. Because, I really don’t think I was thinking straight. And I gave up everything to save her.”
“You saved the world, Buffy.”
“I could have done that by pushing her off the tower.” She said quietly, looking up at Giles with tears in her eyes. “And I wouldn’t have left you.”
“I was all about saving her…but, left you to deal with Ben. What the fuck kind of person does that?” She wiped the tears from her eyes and blew out a breath. “Thing is, I learned something while I was away…and I don’t really know how to deal with it.”
“Can I help?”
“I…I think you’re the only person who can.”
He reached out and took hold of her hand, lovingly rubbing her skin with his thumb. “Talk to me, darling.”
She was quiet for a few moments. Giles gave her the time she needed to gather her thoughts. She closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and then reopened them – focusing on a point in the paddock.
“I should have sacrificed Dawn. It kills me to say that, especially since she’s human now. And I do love her. She is my sister.” She squeezed his hand and continued. “But, she wasn’t then. And if I had sacrificed her…everything about her would have gone away with her.”
She nodded slowly. “Everything. All of the memories, all of the emotions, all of the protectiveness. It would have been as though she had never even been there. And I don’t know why I couldn’t see that at the time. It makes sense when you think about it. The memories came when she did…they would have gone when she died. And the world would have been saved and we’d probably have a baby on the way by now.”
She turned towards him, another tear rolling down her cheek as she looked into his eyes. “I’m so sorry, Rupert. I’m so sorry I was such a fucking idiot. I’m sorry I burdened you with Ben. I’m sorry I left you alone. I’m so fucking sorry for all of it.”
“Oh, love…” He let go of her hand and pulled her into his arms, holding her tightly against him. “It’s all going to work out. What’s done is done…and you’re here. And we can work through any residual issues we have concerning Dawn. Because, the thing is…she is human, she is your sister – and she needs us.”
“How do we do that? How do I reconcile the fact that as much as I love her, I wish that I had let her go?”
“We talk about it. Maybe not to her yet. But, you and I…along with the others? Maybe we should have that discussion. Because the longer it’s bottled up, the worse it will be for all of us.”
“And us? Where do we go from here?”
He pulled back slightly and arched an eyebrow at her. “What do you mean?”
“I still want everything I wanted before I died. I’m not sure you do.” She felt a wave of nervousness rush through him. “Oh, and there’s something else – I can feel you now.”
“Well, I am holding you.”
“No. I feel you.” She said, placing her hand on his chest. “I feel what you’re feeling. You’re nervous…I feel that. I don’t know why you’re nervous, but you are. Painfully nervous. And I’m not really sure how I feel about knowing how you feel…I mean, inside? Like fear, panic, confusion, nerves…those are personal…those are yours.”
She stared at him in disbelief. “Interesting? What if you feel something that you don’t want me to feel? I don’t know if I can turn this off or if it’ll just go away or – ”
He cut her off with a sudden kiss, deepening it slightly when he felt her begin to relax. When he ended the kiss moments later, he smiled at her.
“I’m fairly certain we can work on that together. You said you felt nervousness in me. What do you feel right now?”
“Hope, love…the kind of love that makes your heart ache. Happiness…you’re happy.”
He nodded slowly and then bit the corner of his bottom lip. She narrowed her eyes at him.
“And now you’re nervous again. What’s wrong?”
“I want something that I’m not sure you’re ready for…to ask you something and…I’m not sure it’s the right time or place or…”
“What is it?” She asked as he trailed off.
He looked at her for a long moment and then took a deep breath. “You’re right. I have so much hope and I love you more than I can possibly put into words – and I’m happy beyond belief. And all of that is rolled up in you…in us. And…we’ve talked about children in the past, but we’ve never broached the subject of marriage and…”
He paused, licking his suddenly dry lips. Her eyes widened as he reached into his pocket and pulled out a ring.
“I bought this a month before you died…and then everything just happened and I never got the chance. But, you’re back now…and we’re here together and everything I felt then is still very much relevant and…”
“Would you consider marrying me?”
“Well, yeah. I mean, I want to have a family with you – why would you be so nervous about this part of our relationship?”
“Honestly, I don’t know. Having a child should make me far more nervous, but…it just doesn’t. Maybe it’s because of our own individual views and experiences with marriage.”
“I’ve never been married…” She said, obviously confused. “Did you forget to tell me that you were married at one point?”
“What? No. I’ve never been married.” His previous statement replayed in his head and he smiled. “Ah…by experiences, I meant what we’ve seen and how we, as individuals, sat within those experiences.”
“Your parents’ marriage ended quite abruptly and not completely amicably. Xander’s parents’ marriage is…well, disastrous wouldn’t be a false statement. Willow’s parents seem indifferent to one another.”
“What about your experiences?”
“Infidelity, mainly. My father had a wandering eye that his body tended to follow.”
“And that explains your importance on loyalty.”
“Mainly?” She paused for just a moment. “You said ‘mainly’…which kind of says that there are other issues that you’ve experienced.”
“Not from my parents’ marriage, but friends…extended family. Abuse, mental and physical…drifting apart…”
“Yeah, I get that. I get all of that. But, we’ve always been different, right? I mean…all of those things have one common denominator that could have helped out. Communication. And if anything, we’re pretty damn good about communicating with one another.”
When he snorted a soft laugh, she smiled. “Well, it took us a while to get there, but we did. Giles, I can tell you anything…no matter how bad or scary or stupid. I didn’t hesitate to tell you where I’d been. Because I trust you and I know that we can work through anything if we put our minds to it.”
“So…that’s a definite yes to consideration?”
She glanced at his hand holding the ring and then leaned up to place a soft kiss on his lips. “That’s a definite yes to a yes. Maybe not for a wedding tomorrow or even in six months, but I don’t need to consider it.”
He exhaled a deep breath and smiled as he slipped the ring onto her finger. “When you’re ready, we’ll talk about it.”
She looked at her hand, her smile growing. “It’s beautiful.”
“It reminded me of you.” He replied, watching her turn her hand back and forth.
“You’re such a sap…always have been.” She said playfully.
He laughed then, a deep laugh that made her laugh as well. And then he leaned back, his palms resting on the grass behind him. She leaned against him, her left hand on his thigh.
“Sun’ll be going down soon.”
“Mm-hm.” He agreed, shifting his right arm to a spot behind her. “Wait until you see the sunset here. I used to sit out here every night just to watch it.”
“Pretty amazing then?”
He nodded slowly, gazing out over the paddock. “And now I get to share it with you.”
He chuckled and nudged her in the back playfully. “Watch…”
They sat there in silence as the sun set before them. And then they sat there even longer, talking until the chill in the air forced them inside.
There was much to discuss, but huge headway had been made.
And it was only day one here on their semi-holiday.