Title: In Sickness…
Timeline: No real specific timeline. Basically AU. No Dawn.
Synopsis: Giles rushes to Buffy’s aid.
Author’s Notes: This was a plot bunny given to me by 4thderevko. Thank you wyvernwolf for all of your input, it is appreciated!
Giles rushed from his apartment after Buffy called. It didn’t matter that it was nearly one o’clock in the morning, it didn’t matter that he had actually been asleep when she called. What did matter was the fact that Buffy’s mother was out of town on business for the week and Buffy was crying on the phone. He didn’t think twice about grabbing his keys and telling her he’d be right over when he had heard the first sniffle.
He shook his head, finding the door unlocked, and walked through the front door of the Summers' house. As he hung his keys on the small hook next to the light switch, he made a mental note to discuss locking the door with Buffy. The house was dark except for the flickering light coming from the television.
He walked over and stood at the end of the couch looking down at her. Huddled underneath a thick comforter and curled into a ball, he thought that she looked the most helpless that he’d ever seen her.
“Buffy?” He whispered softly as he shrugged his jacket off.
He glanced at the thermostat when he realized that taking his jacket off hadn't helped reduce the heat he had felt upon entering the house. Shaking his head sadly, he saw that the current temperature in the room was nearly seventy-four degrees.
He knelt on the floor next to the couch, sighing when she shivered. “Buffy?”
She opened her eyes and pulled the comforter tighter around her. “Hey.”
His brow furrowed as he heard the weariness of her voice and saw the glassiness of her eyes. Reaching out, he tenderly brushed sweat-dampened hair from her face. His fingers felt the heat from her skin as he stroked her forehead. His Slayer was sick.
“How are you feeling?” He asked quietly, shaking his head at the absurdity of the question. It was obvious how she was feeling. She was…
“Miserable.” She answered with another shiver.
“You should be in bed.”
She shook her head and glanced at the television. “Don’t have a tv in my room. Keeps me company.”
He picked up the remote and turned the television off. “I can keep you company, Buffy. You need to be in bed.”
She found the energy to raise an eyebrow at him as he stood and carefully lifted her into his arms. “You’re going to keep me company in my bed?”
He cleared his throat and looked down at her as she rested her head against his shoulder. “Um…I’m going to keep you company while you’re in your bed.”
“Where will you be?”
He shifted her weight as he climbed the stairs. “Watching over you.”
“ ‘Cause you’re my Watcher.”
He smiled softly and turned down the hall towards her room. “Yes.”
“My Giles.” She whispered sleepily.
He glanced down at her quickly, swallowing before he replied in a whisper of his own. “Yes.”
* * *
He was able to get her to take two ibuprofen tablets with a few sips of water, but had to stop her when she began to guzzle the water.
“Slow sips, Buffy. You’ll make yourself sick.”
“Thirsty.” She sighed miserably.
“I know, love.” He sat down on the edge of the bed and gently wiped her face with a cool cloth. “When did this start?”
“Didn’t feel great this morning.” She closed her eyes and leaned into his hand as he pressed the cloth to the side of her neck. “That feels nice.”
“It’s more than likely just a flu bug. But, if you’re not feeling remarkably better in the morning, I’d like to take you to the doctor.”
“Don’t like doctors.” She mumbled, her eyes closing.
“I know.” Giles whispered as he dipped the cloth back into the bowl of water he had brought in.
She reopened her eyes when he brushed his fingers across her cheek. “You called me ‘love’.”
She licked her dry lips and sighed as he moved the cloth back to her neck. “Earlier. You called me ‘love’.”
“Oh.” He cursed himself silently, realizing that he had indeed. “Did I?”
“Mm-hm.” She shifted uncomfortably and groaned. “God, I feel like shit.”
Chuckling softly, he nodded. “Yes, I’m sure you do.”
“Do you?” She asked as she rolled onto her side.
He furrowed his brow, moving his hand to her back and rubbing gently. “Do I what?”
“So good.” She mumbled, shifting again to give him more access to her back. “Love, you said. Do you love me?”
His hand paused its movement and he bit his lip. “You should sleep, Buffy. Let the medicine work…and your fever should break.”
She sighed and shivered again. “You’ll stay?”
He nodded slowly. “Yes, I’ll stay.”
“My Giles is a good Giles.” She mumbled as she closed her eyes.
He exhaled deeply, thinking that if she knew what had been going on in his head for the past four months, she probably wouldn’t think he was ‘a good Giles’. When he was sure she was asleep, he moved from the bed to the chair at her desk.
He sat back and watched her. Partly because he wanted to make sure she was alright. But, he also knew that part of his reasoning was because he could. He could gaze at her beauty without fear of being caught.
And as he watched her, he realized that even sick with fever and chills…she was still magnificent.
* * *
He opened his eyes when he heard her run from the room. Pushing himself from the chair, he winced at the catch in his lower back. The bathroom door slammed shut just as he made his way into the hall.
He ran towards the door, placing his hand on the doorknob as he tried to decide whether or not to walk in. He heard her wretch and sighed in sympathy. Opening the door a crack, he softly spoke her name.
When he heard her mumbled reply of ‘yeah?’, he opened the door further and walked inside. After seeing her knelt before the toilet, her forehead resting on her arms that she had crossed across the seat, he made his way to the sink and quickly filled a glass with water.
He sank to his knees beside of her and gently rubbed her back. “Buffy, love…lift your head for me.”
It took some effort, but she did as he asked. He flushed the toilet and handed her the glass. “Small sips. Are you okay to sit here for a moment?”
She nodded wearily and took a sip of the cool water. “I feel horrible.”
“I would imagine so.” He responded as he turned towards the bathtub. “I’m going to run you a bath, that should make you feel a little better.”
As he twisted the taps, he heard her stand and shuffle towards the sink. He turned his head, smiling when she reached for her toothbrush. He watched her as she slowly brushed her teeth, ridding her mouth of the foul taste.
He held up the bottle of bubble bath and cleared his throat. “Bubbles or no?”
She spit the toothpaste into the basin and rinsed her mouth. “Depends. You staying in here with me?”
His face reddened immediately. “I, uh…well…I…”
“You don’t have to.” She whispered softly, placing her toothbrush back into the holder.
Catching her eyes in the mirror, he nodded, pouring one capful of the liquid into the bath. “I’ll stay.”
He turned his eyes back to the water and watched the bubbles form before turning off the taps. Clearing his throat again, he stood.
“I, uh…are you alright to get into the tub yourself?”
If she hadn’t felt so horrible, she would’ve laughed at his nervous tone. As it were, she turned slowly and nodded.
“I should be okay.”
He gave her a quick nod and stepped back into the hall. “Just call me when you’re in?”
“Okay.” She whispered as he pulled the door closed.
As quickly as she could, which really wasn’t all that quick, she undressed and stepped into the tub. She sighed as she stretched out, allowing the warm bubbly water to cover her body. She rested her head against the back of the tub and closed her eyes.
“I’m in.” She called softly.
The door opened slowly and he swallowed thickly as he walked in, mentally cursing himself as he felt himself harden slightly. It wasn’t as if he could see anything, but the sheer knowledge that a layer of white bubbles was the only thing separating her nude body from his gaze…
He sighed and knelt on the floor next to the tub. “Too hot or cold?”
Before he could stop himself, he reached out and tenderly brushed the hair back from her forehead. She sighed softly as his fingertips grazed her skin.
She licked her lips and his eyes were automatically drawn to them. He took a deep breath and slowly pulled his hand back, resting it on the side of the tub.
“You’ve called me ‘love’ twice tonight. And…you didn’t answer my question earlier.”
He was quiet for a moment and then answered in a hushed tone. “Perhaps we should talk about this later…when you’re feeling better.”
She opened her eyes to find him staring into hers. She gasped softly when she read what his green irises held.
He quickly put his hand on her shoulder when she started to sit up. “Please, Buffy…”
“You love me?”
His heart began to race in his chest. He hadn’t wanted her to know, period…much less find out like this. He increased the pressure against her shoulder, gently pushing her back into her prior position.
She lowered her eyes and exhaled slowly. “Or…am I just imagining things? Fever-induced transference…”
His eyes widened. “Transference?”
She chuckled weakly. “I do listen to you. Even though you think I don’t.”
“I – ”
“It’s okay, Giles. I didn’t really think I had a chance and – ”
“Listen to me.” He interrupted her quickly.
She looked up and met his eyes. “Giles?”
“I need to be very sure that what you’re saying isn’t fever-related.” He averted his eyes briefly and lowered his voice to a whisper. “Before I admit anything, I have to be sure.”
She stared at him in surprise for a moment before she lifted her hand out of the water and touched his cheek. “Be sure…”
He looked into her eyes, leaning into her touch and covering her hand with his. “As soon as you’re better, we’ll talk.”
Her eyes still looked feverish and glassy, with a hint of the tears that were threatening to build. “Promise?”
Nodding slowly, he carefully moved her hand from his face and rubbed his thumb across her knuckles. “I promise.”
She looked at their hands and sighed. “I’m getting pruney. And…I’m really tired…”
“I should get you back into bed.” He stated absently as he stood and grabbed a towel from the rack.
As sick and tired as she was, she couldn’t help but smile when he stood next to the tub with the towel spread open and closed his eyes. “Giles…”
“I’m not looking, Buffy. But, I can’t…in good conscience…allow you to attempt to get out of the tub by yourself in this condition.”
Carefully she manuevered out of the bath and stepped into his open arms. He quickly wrapped the towel around her, holding her against him for as long as he could without raising suspicion.
She didn’t seem to mind, instead she rested her cheek against his chest and sighed.
* * *
The following morning she insisted on going downstairs and watching the inane morning game shows, stating that’s what she did when she was younger and had been sick. He had laughed softly and helped her to the couch, arching an eyebrow at her when she told him to sit down.
He hadn’t questioned her, but thinking back on it, he probably should have. As soon as he sat down, she lay down beside of him and curled up into a ball…using his thigh as a pillow. He looked down at her as she pulled the comforter tighter around her.
“Mm-hm. Is this okay? I mean, I can move if – ”
He shook his head as he rubbed her shoulder. “It’s fine, Buffy.”
“Thank you for taking care of me, Giles.”
He smiled and reached for the remote. “It’s no hardship, love.”
She smiled sleepily at the endearment. “Channel eight, okay?”
He turned the tv on and looked back down at her, exhaling slowly when he realized that she had already dozed off. He leaned back and propped his feet on the coffee table, shaking his head at the annoying game show host.
“Utter rubbish.” He mumbled as he absently curled a strand of her hair around his finger.
* * *
Two hours later, her fever broke. It wasn’t a gradual process…one minute she was sleeping peacefully, the next she was drenched in sweat. He realized what had happened when she shivered violently and then he felt the dampness on his jeans where her head was still resting on his thigh. Opening her eyes, she threw the comforter off of her.
“God, it’s hot! And…eww…”
She sat up quickly and stared at Giles. He felt his heart sink and quickly looked down at his hands.
“I’m sorry, Buffy.”
She narrowed her eyes in confusion. “Sorry? Giles…”
“How glad am I that I waited before actually admitting anything?” He mumbled to himself.
Though he mumbled, she heard and understood him perfectly. It was then that she realized what she had done.
As he moved to stand, she grabbed his arm and shook her head quickly. “No, Giles…the ‘eww’ wasn’t about you.”
He turned his head slowly and looked directly into her eyes. She loosened her grip on his arm and licked her dry lips.
“The ‘eww’ was about the fact that I’m drenched in sweat and feel completely disgusting. Not to mention, a little nauseous.”
“Oh.” He whispered softly.
She smiled and tenderly stroked his arm with her fingertips. “Does that mean you do have something to admit to me?”
Clearing his throat, he gestured towards the stairs. “I’ll, uh…I’ll draw you a bath, yes?”
She bit her lip and removed her hand from his arm. “I’m transferring, aren’t I?”
His mind raced, unsure what to do. He could put an end to this right now, one way or another. He could look at her and say ‘yes’ or he could just tell her the truth. As he weighed his options, she shook her head sadly and stood up.
“It’s okay. I can run my own bath, Giles. You, uh…you can go home if you – ”
“Yes.” He interrupted quietly.
She lowered her eyes, not wanting him to see them fill with tears. “Yes, I’m transferring?”
He shook his head quickly, cursing himself inwardly. “No.”
She sighed in exasperation. “Giles, I’m tired and sick…and pretty much sick and tired of being sick and tired. Please don’t confuse me right now.”
“I’m sorry, Buffy. I didn’t…I answered the wrong question.”
She finally met his eyes again. “The wrong question?”
He stood up, nodding as he took a step towards her. “Last night…um, last night, you asked me – ”
“If you love me.” She finished for him in a whisper.
He took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. “And the answer is yes, Buffy. I do love you.”
When she smiled brightly at him, he blushed lightly. “I didn’t exactly mean for you to find out in this manner.”
“And just how were you going to tell me?”
“Honestly?” He tilted his head slightly, grazing his fingers along her arm. “I had no intention of you ever finding out.”
She swayed gently and he grabbed hold of her arm. “Buffy?”
“Just a bit dizzy, but I'm good.”
He shook his head and picked her up, his left arm under her knees. “Come on, a nice lukewarm bath will make all the difference in the world.”
As he climbed the stairs with her in his arms, she looked at him and made one request.
“No bubbles, okay?”
He stopped in the hallway and stared at her. “No bubbles?”
She bit her lip nervously. “I want you to stay and talk to me, but no bubbles this time.”
“There must be bubbles, Buffy. I can’t…it isn’t right. Not right now. This…” He sighed as he leaned against the wall. “You should know that this isn’t about sex to me. This is…well, this is about love. Sex can come later, if you so choose. And for me to see you unclothed and bare to me…”
She smiled and caressed his cheek. “My gentleman Giles.”
He chuckled softly. “I wouldn’t exactly say that I’m a gentleman. But, I want to take whatever it is that we have…slowly. And I’m rather sure I’d be unable to do that if – ”
She cut him off with a gentle kiss to his lips. “Bubbles it is, then.”
He stared at her for a moment, shock and happiness showing clearly on his face. He took the opportunity to lean into her and return her kiss, allowing his lips to linger for a few moments.
When he pulled back, she sighed softly and ran her fingers through his hair on the back of his head. “That was really nice.”
He offered her a smile and carried her into the bathroom. Lowering her gently to the floor, he quickly turned to the bath, twisting the taps and watching as the water filled the tub.
He grabbed the bottle of bubble bath and unscrewed the lid. “Yes?”
“Just so you know…I love you too.”
He turned to look at her, unceremoniously dumping a capful of the liquid into the water. His smile grew as she grinned at him. Reaching over, he turned off the taps before taking a deep breath and gesturing towards the door.
“Um…I’ll just wait outside while you get in…”
She reached out and grabbed his arm as he walked by her. “I really do, Giles.”
He lifted his free hand and caressed her cheek before leaning down and softly kissing her. “I really do, as well.”
She sighed happily as he stepped away and walked into the hall. Undressing quickly and slipping into the warm bath water, she smiled. He would want to discuss these new revelations before taking anything further. Normally, she hated discussions.
But this one? This was a discussion she was looking forward to.
Her smile grew as she called out to let him know she had gotten into the tub safely. This time, she heard his soft gasp as he walked back in. Her smile shone clearly in her eyes.
Yes, she was definitely looking forward to it.