Title: Something Warm
Rating: FRM (light)
Timeline: AU, S5.
Synopsis: There was an incident. Now they need to work through it.
Author’s Note: As always, thank you A.
Giles leaned against the doorway to the kitchen and watched her. She was tense…so much tension held in her back and shoulders as she washed the dishes. He wasn’t quite sure why she was washing dishes when there was a dishwasher a couple of feet to her left.
“Can, uh…can I help you with that?” He asked softly, noticing she paused for the briefest of seconds before placing a soapy dish into the second basin.
“It’s okay, it’s just dishes. Nothing I haven’t done before.” She muttered, placing a second dish on top of the first.
“There is a dishwasher…” He replied, tilting his head slightly…still leaning against the doorframe.
“Washing dishes calms me down. Always has. I’ve never used the dishwasher.”
“You need…calming?” He asked softly, somewhat confused.
She shook her head in annoyance…pausing her task but still staring at the soapy water. “You kissed me. Two weeks ago, you kissed me.”
Giles quickly stood, glancing back towards the living room before clearing his throat and stepping into the kitchen. “I did.”
“And there’s been nothing since. No kisses, no touches, no smouldering looks…not even a discussion about it.” She shook her head and reached back into the water with a little more force than necessary, splashing suds onto the floor at her feet. “I don’t know why you kissed me. I don’t know why you stopped. I didn’t think it was that bad. You seemed pretty into it at the time.”
“I was.” He replied softly. “And it wasn’t…it wasn’t bad at all. It was lovely. I kissed you because…I couldn’t stop myself. I stopped because I had to.”
She spun around and finally looked at him. While there was frustration and annoyance in her eyes, they were also slightly red. The kind of red that comes from silent tears while you’re washing dishes.
“What the hell does that even mean?”
He took another step towards her and exhaled slowly. “There has been no discussion because I didn’t know how to start one without sounding like a complete prat. There have been smouldering looks, just not that I’ve allowed you to see. There have been no touches because I can’t trust myself to not let it escalate. And there have been no further kisses because…” He lowered his voice to a whisper as he stared directly into her eyes. “I wanted more.”
She stared at him, wide-eyed and showing slight arousal at his words…his tone.
He swallowed and tilted his head slightly, not breaking their mutual stare. “It was the wrong time to kiss you. With everything going on, I should have had more self-control.”
“I was yelling at you.” She whispered, shaking her head in confusion.
He nodded slowly, still maintaining eye contact.
She hesitated and furrowed her brow. “Why can I hear your heartbeat?”
“Things are shifting, Buffy. Changing…in the most terrifying of ways.”
Her gaze darted to his neck, then his lips, then back to his eyes. “You’re going to get me killed out there.”
His eyes glistened as he watched her change in front of him. “I already have, love. And I don’t have the strength to put an end to it. Not this time.”
She moved towards him and wrapped her hand around the back of his neck, drawing him towards her. He didn’t struggle when her lips touched his neck, her teeth piercing his skin. Instead, he closed his eyes and whispered her name…and allowed her to take everything he had left to give.
* * *
Giles gasped as he sat straight up in bed, his body covered in sweat and fear etched on his face. He automatically lifted his hand to his neck, closing his eyes in relief to find no marks, no wounds.
His heart pounded in his chest and he knew…he was going to have to talk to her. This had gone on long enough. If he wasn’t careful, things were going to end in the most disastrous manner. Of that, he had no doubt.
He climbed out of bed and made his way to the shower, glancing at the clock. Even though it was 4:22 in the morning, he knew there would be no more sleep for him right now.
* * *
It was just before 9:00 am when he walked into the house. He offered a wave to Willow and Tara and then smiled when Dawn ran over to him and wrapped her arms around him.
“You’d think that you haven’t seen me in months.” He chuckled softly, returning her hug. “It’s only been a couple of days.”
“Things are always better when you’re here, Giles.” She whispered, looking up at him. “She's better when you’re here.”
He looked around the room before glancing at the stairs. “Where is she?”
Dawn took a step back and gestured towards the hallway. “Kitchen.”
He gave a brief nod and ran his fingers through his hair. Without another word, he took a deep breath and slowly made his way down the hall.
He paused in the doorway, leaning against the frame as he watched her. Really watched her. She was holding so much tension in her shoulders, her back. The only sound in the kitchen was the splish-splash of dishwashing. The radio wasn’t even on…something he found highly unusual.
“Can, uh…can I help you with that?” He asked softly, his brow suddenly furrowing at the distinct sensation of deja-vu.
She paused for a just a moment, carefully placing a soapy dish into the second basin. “It’s okay, it’s just dishes. Nothing I haven’t done before. Besides, washing dishes calms me…always has.”
She sighed heavily…pausing her task but still staring at the soapy water. “You kissed me. Two weeks ago, you kissed me.”
Giles quickly stood, glancing back towards the living room before clearing his throat and stepping into the kitchen. “I did.”
“And there’s been nothing since. No kisses, no touches, no smouldering looks…not even a discussion about it.” She shook her head and reached back into the water with a little more force than necessary, splashing suds onto the floor at her feet. “I don’t know why you kissed me. I don’t know why you stopped. I didn’t think it was that bad. You seemed completely into it at the time. No…you were completely into it.”
“Buffy…please look at me.” He requested quietly.
She turned slowly and met his eyes. While there was frustration and annoyance in her eyes, they were also slightly red. The kind of red that comes from silent tears while you’re washing dishes.
He took another step towards her and exhaled slowly. “There has been no discussion because I didn’t know how to start one without sounding like a complete prat. There have been smouldering looks, just not that I’ve allowed you to see. There have been no touches because I can’t trust myself to not let it escalate. And there have been no further kisses because…” He lowered his voice to a whisper as he stared directly into her eyes. “I want more.”
Her eyes widened as she stared back at him, her skin flushing. He wondered if that had to do with his words…or his tone.
“Giles, I don’t understand.” She said finally, furrowing her brow in confusion. “You want more…so you back off? Not even just back off…you…act like it didn’t even happen?”
“I’m scared, Buffy.” He admitted, taking another step towards her and glancing out the window.
“Of me?” She asked, clearly not understanding.
“Of you getting hurt.” He gestured towards the window. “Out there…at night, on patrol.”
She hesitated for a second and then shook her head. “You think if we’re together, I’m going to lose my focus and worry too much about you and not about what I’m doing…”
He said nothing, but returned his gaze to her.
She took the two steps needed to stand directly in front of him and lifted her right hand to his chest. Neither of them seemed to notice the transfer of suds from her hand to his shirt.
“Don’t you get it, Giles? My focus isn’t on anything but you right now…wondering what I did wrong, wondering why you kissed me, wondering why you stopped, wondering if you know that I actually love you…”
His eyes widened and she could feel his heart pound in his chest. She swallowed nervously.
“And…I didn’t mean to actually say that last bit out loud…”
She started to remove her hand, but he covered it with his…holding it in place, directly over his heart.
“You…love me?” He asked, bewilderment heavy in the question.
“Why did you kiss me?”
“I…couldn’t stop myself.” He replied, his breath hitching slightly.
“But…you did. You did stop. Like…we were kissing and then…” She paused, flushing lightly. “…and then we weren’t. Why?”
“I had to.” He sighed heavily. “I had to stop…because I didn’t want to stop.”
She stared at him blankly. “Huh?”
He lifted his hand to the side of her face, his thumb gently stroking her cheekbone. “The timing was all wrong, love. Everything going on…”
“Don’t you think that would be the right time?” She whispered, leaning into his touch. “What did I do wrong? Did I do something to make you – ”
“No.” He interrupted swiftly. “You didn’t do anything wrong, Buffy.”
“You can’t just kiss me while we’re arguing…and then make me…and then pretend it didn’t happen.” She shook her head and momentarily diverted her eyes from him. “That’s not fair, Giles.”
He nodded in agreement, glancing to his left…the counter where he had lifted her, moved between her thighs, pulled her against him, rocked his hips against her until she cried out his name as she…
“I think we both know it was more than kissing.” He interrupted his thoughts, looking back to her. “But, the timing was…not the best.”
“But…you do want to be with me?”
He regarded her carefully for a long moment. And then he leaned down and captured her lips with his. He kissed her slowly, not pushing for more. When he eventually pulled back, he met her eyes and smiled…almost sadly.
“I love you.” He whispered emotionally.
“Can we…can we just have this? Forget about the timing…forget about what’s going on around us. Can we just have us?”
His smile faded. “We can’t just forget what’s going on around us, Buffy.”
“Where you and I are concerned.” She clarified. “I know we can’t forget about Glory or what mystical force is going to come after us next. I know there’s a lot going on right now. But, we can have this and defeat whatever is thrown at us. I know we can…can’t we?”
When he hesitated in his response, she sighed. “What’s wrong, Giles? What’s really wrong here?”
“I don’t know what to say next…” He replied, chuckling nervously as he ran his hand through his hair. “I’m kind of in new territory here.”
He took a deep breath and sat down on a stool at the island. “Oddly I had a dream about this conversation. Up until a few minutes ago, I knew what to say.”
“Okay, so how did that conversation end?”
“You were actually a vampire and you turned me. Fairly certain I was your first feed – you seemed somewhat confused about the fact that you could hear my heartbeat.” He looked at her and shrugged a shoulder. “You’re not a vampire, we’ve told each other that there is actually love involved here, and I’ve kissed you again. I…don’t know what’s next.”
“A vampire?” She asked, eyes narrowing slightly. “You dreamed I was a vampire? Is that…do you have prophetic dreams?”
“Not as a rule, no. It’s a fear I have, you know this. A nightmare, as it were.”
“But, you…you let me turn you?”
“I’m not sure of the circumstances that led to you becoming a vampire, but I felt responsible. I couldn’t bring myself to…” He shook his head slowly. “I couldn’t.”
“So, I was a vampire…who returned home to wash dishes after digging myself out? And you were all calm about it all…and just talked to me about the fact that we had kissed?”
Giles rolled his eyes. “It was a dream, Buffy. Few dreams are logical. This one surely was not.”
“Okay…so then you wake up and come over to make sure I’m still human. And then…kinda played out your dream?”
“What? No. It wasn’t like that at all, Buffy.” He stared at her, wondering if that’s what she really thought. “I woke up…terrified. Because I’d lost you. And…I don’t want to lose you. So, I came over to talk it out. To try to explain.”
“Try to explain?” She paused, glancing over at the counter before shaking her head. “How do you explain what happened? I’d like to hear you explain how we went from arguing…yelling at each other…to you kissing me and then dry humping me until I come…to you ignoring it even happened and refusing to talk about it.”
She watched as he reddened and lowered his eyes.
“Please, explain away, Giles.”
He was quiet for a moment and then sighed. “Perhaps this was a mistake.”
She grabbed his arm as he shifted to stand, tightening her grip on him as she shook her head furiously. “NO! You are not leaving. Fucking talk to me, Giles!”
His eyes snapped to hers. “I’m fairly certain I have been.”
Buffy growled in frustration and let go of his arm before taking a deep breath to calm herself. “You know what I’m talking about, Giles.”
“Damn it, Buffy…do you really think that’s how I wanted our first…” He paused, clenching and then unclenching his jaw. “I lost control. I wanted you. I wanted to give you…release. God help me, I still do. But, it shouldn’t have happened like it did.”
“You still do? Want me? Want to make me come?”
“Jesus Christ, do you have to make it sound so…” He stared into her eyes, unwavering as he continued. “Yes, I want to make you come. But, not on a kitchen counter…and definitely not clothed. But, I took what I could. And then I felt terribly guilty and…ashamed…because that’s how I allowed you to see it – that it was nothing more than…”
He continued staring at her as he trailed off. She exhaled forcefully, almost a deep sigh of resignation.
“Giles…I could have stopped you if I really didn’t want it to happen. You know that, right?” She waited until he gave her a subtle nod before she continued. “There was nothing to feel guilty about. You know what I felt? Excited…because you wanted me as much as I wanted you. Losing control…that’s not always a bad thing. Especially when it’s with someone you trust…love…”
“I’m sorry for hurting you.” He whispered sincerely.
“I think I get it…for the most part anyway.” She replied, stepping in between his knees and placing her hands on his thighs. “Can…we just hold each other?”
He looked down at her hands and swallowed, nodding even as he reached for her. He pulled her against his chest, closing his eyes as she gently nuzzled his neck. She wrapped her arms around him, fingers curling in the back of his shirt.
“I’m sorry.” She whispered, her breath warm against his skin.
“Hm?” He murmured, willing his fingers not to edge under the hem of her shirt as he held her tightly.
“What I said…it was bitchy.”
“But not entirely inaccurate.” He replied softly. “I could have handled all of this so much better. I should have.”
Her lips pressed a warm kiss to the side of his neck, causing him to inhale sharply. She smiled against his skin…and then kissed him again.
“Maybe we should go upstairs to talk?”
He pulled back slightly and looked at her, gently shaking his head. “As lovely as that sounds, we both know where that would lead right now. And…I think that would be a beautiful mistake.”
She looked at him curiously. “A beautiful mistake?”
“There are three other people in this house at the moment. Making love to you would be beautiful…but, not with three other people in the house.” He gave her a smile that bordered on the shy side. “That is what you’re thinking, yes?”
She smiled, nodding as she slid her hands back to his chest and then up to his shoulders. “I kinda forgot that there were people here. That kinda happens a lot when I’m around you.”
“Are…are we okay, Buffy?” He asked, an air of concern in his tone.
She leaned forward, brushing her lips across his. She pulled back and lightly fingered the earring in his left ear. “Are you going to pretend that this conversation and all that it encompassed didn’t happen?”
The corner of his mouth quirked into a half-grin. “No.”
“Then we’re just fine, Giles. As long as we’re honest with each other about what’s happening between us, we’re going to be just fine.”
Sudden laughter could be heard coming from the living room and Buffy carefully extracted herself from his embrace. He instantly missed her nearness, her warmth.
“Perhaps you should come by my place after patrol tonight.” He shrugged a shoulder when she raised an eyebrow at him. “To…let me know what transpired. On…patrol.”
“Did you really just use me giving you a patrol report as a euphemism for sex?”
He smiled as he stood up and slipped his hands into his pockets. “Take it however you want, Buffy. I’m going to follow your lead on this one.”
He gave her a wink and then slowly backed towards the door. He paused in the doorway and licked his lips.
“No hiding, no deflecting, no pretending. This…what’s happening between us? This is real.” He pulled his left hand out of his pocket and covered his heart. “I feel it in here. What happened two weeks ago need not define us…but we can use it as stepping stone to something more, something warm. I do love you, Buffy.”
And with those words, he turned and made his way back towards the living room. She stood there, staring at the empty doorway for what felt like ages, but it was more likely just a few long seconds. And then she smiled and turned back towards the sink.
She paused long enough to put the kettle on the stove and turned on the burner.
She’d have just enough time to finish the dishes before the water boiled.
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