“I’ve been doing a lot of thinking…”
“About how disrespectful it is to sit on headstones?” Giles asked, casting a pointed look her way.
Buffy furrowed her brow briefly, then looked down and sighed. She jumped off the top of the stone and twirled the stake in her hand.
“Well, no…but, you have a point.” She took a step towards him and smiled. “Wanna know what I’ve been thinking about?”
“Depends on where you’re going with this line of thinking. We’re on patrol and two vampires are scheduled to rise tonight and you’ve only disposed of one. If you’re thinking about our current task or something related to it, then yes. If you’re thinking about extracurricular activities…then, still yes – but, not now.”
Buffy chuckled softly and shook her head, looking around the cemetery. “I was thinking about how many cemeteries there are in Sunnydale…and how vampires can actually die.”
He looked at her curiously. “Go on…”
“Cremation would take care of all of this, wouldn’t it? I mean, there’s sucking…and more sucking, followed by death and then a new vampire arises. But, if victims of vampires were cremated…”
“It has been considered by the Council.” Giles said quietly. “It was determined to be too…difficult…to monitor.”
“Of course I wouldn’t have an original idea.” She grumbled, glancing towards the grave she’d just walked away from. “I wish he’d hurry up and climb out…”
“It’s a very good idea, Buffy. One that we might be able to expand upon…come up with a feasible way to implement it.” He tilted his head slightly and reached out, placing his hand on her arm. “What’s brought this about, then?”
He moved to stand in front of her, concern etched on his face. “Prophetic?”
“No. No, just normal dreams. Well…maybe not normal dreams for normal people, but for a Slayer? It’s a concern…being turned, you know?”
“Yes. Yes, I do.” He whispered.
“I’ve died twice, Giles. Third time’s the charm.”
“The next time I die, cremate me. Because I don’t want to do this again.”
When she saw the sadness flicker in his eyes, she reached out and placed her hand on his chest. “I’m happy to be here, Giles. With you. But, I know you would’ve stopped them if you’d known what they were doing. Not because you didn’t want me back, but because you knew it would be the right thing to do.”
He was interrupted by the sound of turf ripping. Buffy sighed and turned towards the grave, gripping her stake as a hand popped through the surface.
“Hold that thought, okay?”
Giles nodded, watching her as she moved to stand at the foot of the grave…her arms crossed over her chest as she waited for the vampire to emerge. There were so many things that were different about her since her return. That didn’t surprise him – she had been through a tremendous amount of turmoil, but she had been coping remarkably well. That did surprise him – her ability to cope – especially since she admitted to him that she’d actually been in Heaven and was at peace.
She had said that she was only coping as well as she was because he was there…his understanding, his love, his support. He was her anchor. Those first few days after her resurrection, when he hadn’t been there, were torturous for her. She had felt betrayed by her friends and had nothing to hold on to – and then he walked through the door and she hadn’t hesitated to rush into his arms.
They had stayed up all night talking, unwilling to let one another go. It hadn’t taken her long to tell him where she’d been…how painful it had been to be ripped from peace and thrown back into her decaying body. They had both cried. Sobbed, actually. There was a point that neither of them were sure they’d be able to stop.
And then he’d kissed her. Or she’d kissed him. To be honest, they probably had kissed each other. And with that kiss, more admissions were made. At that moment, everything changed – the pain lessened, the reality of what was happening began to become clear. And then he ran his fingers through her hair and apologised for not being honest about his feelings prior to her death. She had responded in kind…and then pressed another warm kiss to his lips before resting her head against his chest. They stayed like that until the sun rose…and they had been together since.
She’d been back for five months and Sunnydale was the same Hellmouth, but things were so very different. And not just with her or her outlook on life.
Spike had left – seemingly for good – after realising that Giles had been very serious the previous year when he’d pushed him against a bookshelf and suggested he stay away from Buffy. That realisation came when Giles slammed a stake into his chest, stopping just as the point touched his heart. This time when Giles suggested he leave town, Spike left town.
Willow was teetering on the edge of full-blown addiction. Giles could see it clearly – he had decided that he’d give her the chance to clear her system as she had requested. But, he had also made it very well known that should she relapse again, he’d not hesitate to take care of the problem. He hadn’t elaborated on what that exactly meant, but she hadn’t tested him again. Tara was keeping close tabs on her, but was also offering her a level of support that Willow hadn’t expected.
Dawn had been testing Buffy – and Giles had not stepped in to take care of the issue. Buffy knew that he was there to support her at the drop of a hat, but she also knew that this was something she had to take care of herself. She had to step up and be a parent…to a newly human supernatural being that was used to nearly destroy the world. Giles had praised her more than once for what she was accomplishing with her sister.
It was obvious that Xander was having doubts about his engagement to Anya. It was also obvious that he had no idea how to deal with those doubts. Giles pulled him aside one day and told him point blank… ‘If you’re not ready, tell her now. Don’t let this continue until it’s too late…you’ll lose everything.’ Xander had taken Giles’ advice. And though Anya had been furious with him for a few weeks, she quickly began to understand the reasons and began to see that it didn’t mean that Xander didn’t love her – he just didn’t want to become his father. It also didn’t mean that they wouldn’t get married…just that they wouldn’t get married now.
Now, as Giles watched his Slayer quickly take care of the newly arisen vampire, he was acutely aware of how different she was. Her love, her compassion, her desire to protect her friends (and the world) was still very much in the forefront of everything – and was somewhat even stronger. But with those strengthened qualities also came a precise directness that he had tried for years to instil within her…and she had fought him at every turn.
He had asked her once why she refused to just plunge and move on and she had responded that it simply wasn’t her style. And her style served her very well for a number of years and throughout a number of apocalypses. But, now here she was…dusting ash from her jacket within thirty seconds of the vampire rising. No puns, no jokes, no extraneous fighting – just merely plunging and moving on.
And though it was something he had been trying to get her to do since the day he met her…it made him incredibly sad to watch her do it now.
She turned to look at him, her smile fading as she noticed the light sheen of impending tears in his eyes. “Hey, what’s wrong?”
He forced a smile back onto his face and cleared his throat. “Oh, uh…nothing, love. Just reminiscing…and thinking.”
“Yeah, not very convincing…”
His eyes darted to the pile of ash behind her. “Um…very well done. Your speed and strength are improving daily.”
“Yeah…” She agreed, slipping the stake inside of her jacket. “I plunged and moved on and everything.”
His eyes shifted back to hers. “Yes. Yes, you did.”
“That’s a problem?” She asked, interpreting the tone of his voice.
“Not as such.”
“What does that even mean?”
“It’s just something I’m trying to get used to.”
“Oh…okay.” When she realised he was getting ready to take a step back from her, she grabbed the front of his jacket. “Hey…please tell me what’s wrong.”
He took a deep breath and exhaled slowly before looking into her eyes. “I’ve just gotten you back and you’re asking me to…take care of you when you die. Again. I understand why, but the thought of losing you again? That’s unbelievably painful.”
Her eyes softened, her fingers loosened their grip on his jacket. “Giles…I’m not expecting that to happen anytime soon. My goal is to spend many years with you – like, many years. Like white picket fence, pets, kids…those kind of years. I mean, are you okay with that?”
He nodded slowly, lifting his hand to her cheek and resting his thumb near the corner of her mouth. “Yes, Buffy…I’m very okay with that.”
“Even with the kids part? Because we, uh…we haven’t really talked about that.”
He smiled softly, the pad of his thumb gently rubbing her skin. “Yes, love.”
“I want to spend the rest of my life with you. I want to start a family with you, figure out a way to close the Hellmouth and move to England with you. I want – ”
“What?” He asked, his eyes narrowing slightly.
She smiled up at him. “You’re not happy here in California. Not truly. You never have been. California is where you live, but it isn’t your home.”
“It’s yours though.”
“No…my home is where you are.”
He stared at her for a moment and then lowered his head, covering her mouth with his. He kissed her slowly, cradling her face between his hands. A soft groan rumbled in his chest as her tongue slipped into his mouth. She slid her hands underneath his jacket and around to his back. She gripped him tightly as their kiss intensified…somewhat dangerously, considering they were still standing the in the middle of a cemetery.
She sighed heavily as he slowly pulled from the kiss, resting her forehead against his. “I love you.”
“I love you.” He replied, sliding his hands to her hips. “And yes, I will.”
“I’ll make sure that your wishes be carried out. That…how did you say it? Third time’s the charm?” His thumbs edged under the hem of her shirt. “Your wish, my command and all that…”
“Know what I’m wishing right now?” She asked, moving even closer to him.
“That we can just go home. Curl up on the sofa, with a cup of tea, snuggled up against you.”
She chuckled at his slight disappointment and then grinned at him. “Tea to relax, bed to decompress…”
“It’s a very polite way to say I want you to fuck me…until we’re too tired to move.”
“Take me home, Rupert.” She said, smiling as he licked his lips. “Or…take me here. Up to you.”
He snorted a laugh, his short nails lightly scratching along the skin just below her ribs. “As if I’m going to say yes to that.”
“Maybe not.” She agreed, glancing down towards the obvious erection she could feel pressed against her. “But, you want to. You may not give in, but you think about it. Don’t you?”
Even in the dim light of the cemetery, she could see his eyes darken. She tugged at the back of his shirt, deftly untucking it as he gazed into her eyes.
“I think about it.” She continued, raking her nails along his lower back. “You pushing me up against a crypt wall, bending me over a – ”
He cut her off with a kiss, swallowing her groans as he pushed his tongue into her mouth. He slipped his fingers into her belt loops and pulled her tight against him. When he felt her tremble in his arms, he ended the kiss and grinned at her.
“I think about it.” He whispered gruffly. “Trust me, I think about it.”
“I’m taking you home. I’m not making tea. I’m not sitting on the sofa.” He licked his lips, loosening his hold on her for a brief second before pulling her right back against him. “We’re going home. We’re going to bed…and we’re spending the next while touching and tasting and building…and then we’ll take turns fucking each other. But, we need to go now, love.”
She nodded distractedly, smiling when he suddenly let go of her belt loops and took a step back. He tilted his head in a silent question. She shrugged a shoulder and ran her fingers through her hair.
“How many people do you think go from a heavy discussion about end of life to nearly making his girlfriend come in the middle of a cemetery?”
“At least two…if you substitute ‘his girlfriend’ with ‘her partner’.”
She laughed brightly, slipping her hand into his. “You know you’re my boyfriend, right?”
He rolled his eyes and laughed with her. “I know I’m in love with you.” His laughter ebbed and he looked down at her. “I also know that I’ll do whatever I can to make you happy…and if that means making sure you’re cremated when you die, then I’ll do that too.”
“Thank you.” She said lovingly, squeezing his hand.
“I’m also going to do everything I can to make sure that I go before you, so…”
The corner of her mouth twitched in amusement. “Let’s go home, Ru.”
Desire flickered in his eyes as he nodded. “Yes, let’s…”
As she led him out of the cemetery, he decided that he’d work up a proposal to the Council about her idea. It was true that it had been discussed in passing years before, but things had changed over the years. And if anyone could make it work, his Slayer could be the one to do it.
But, that could wait until tomorrow…or the day after…or the day after that…
His eyes drifted to the curve of her ass she pulled him through the gate towards the car.
The Council discussion could wait. He had more compelling things on his mind right now.