Title: Step Two
Author: Froxyn
Rating: FRM
Pairing: Buffy/Giles
Timeline: Part 3 of The Way Back series.
Synopsis: Giles and Buffy continue to work through their issues, searching for their way back to one another.
Author’s Note: Special thanks to A for taking the time to go through this for me.


Giles had decided to take a week off work to try to rebuild his relationship with Buffy. During that week, they had spent a lot of time talking and reading and sitting together in silence. Simply doing all they could to learn how to be comfortable with each other again. It had been a tremendously hard week, but very much worth the effort. They had been very candid with one another, sometimes the truths causing tears and raised voices…but always ending with a gentle touch or hug.

Her frustration had been much like a roller coaster – frustration with herself, frustration with him, frustration with…basically the existence of everything in the world. When that frustration resulted in him blocking a backhanded slap from her in the midst of one of those raised voice discussions, he realised something very important.

While her coping mechanisms were different than his…she very obviously still had her own issues. Issues that needed to be discussed and worked through.

“Buffy – ”

She jerked her hand away, eyes widening. “Jesus, Giles…I’m sorry.”

“Talk to me.”

“I didn’t mean to hit you…” She whispered, eyes beginning to glisten.

Giles shook his head and stepped towards her. “Talk to me, what’s going – ”

“It hasn’t been exactly easy for me, Giles. I may not drown myself in a bottle of scotch when it rains, but…” She paused, closing her eyes and taking a deep breath. “Shit…I didn’t…I didn’t mean that, Giles. I’m just…”

“Angry?” He supplied softly, lifting his hand to her shoulder. When she opened her eyes, he gave her a gentle nod. “It’s understandable, even expected given the circumstances.”

She stared at him. “Why are you so calm?”

“Because you need me to be.” He answered. “We’re going to get through this, Buffy.”

A tear slid down her cheek. “How do you know that?”

He gently wiped the tear from her skin and offered her a soft smile. “Because a month ago I wouldn’t have been able to block you. And I’m fairly certain I’d be sitting on the sofa, holding a bag of ice against my face...if I were conscious.”

She inhaled shakily and stepped closer to him, resting her cheek against his chest as he wrapped his arms around her. “I am angry, Giles.”

He nodded and rubbed her back. “I think you should talk to me about it…”

She was quiet for a few moments. “I get why you didn’t come after me. I really do. But…every time I called, you’d hang up on me…then you stopped answering altogether…and…you just fucking threw me and everything away – like it didn’t matter. Like…I didn’t matter.”

“That’s why you came back?” He asked quietly, tightening his hold on her. “Because you thought that I had thrown…” He cleared his throat. “I didn’t throw anything away, Buffy.”

She sniffled and then sighed against his chest. “Yeah, I got that as soon as you opened the door.”

He simply rubbed her back, waiting for her to continue. She exhaled a deep breath and slipped her arms around his waist.

“And there you were…drunk, angry, hurt…and suddenly I was angry with myself for being so…so fucking blind. And then I was scared that I had completely lost you…that the alcohol…” She paused and took a deep breath, pulling back to look up at him. “Giles…situational alcoholism…”

He chuckled softly. “Is not an actual term. I drink – a glass of scotch after a difficult day, a glass of wine with dinner, a beer at the pub…those instances are completely normal and acceptable.”

“That night was not one of those instances.”

“No. No, it wasn’t.” He sighed and looked into her eyes. “There could be a problem when there’s a downpour. It moves in and my first inclination is to pour a drink – and once I start, I don’t stop. That, in itself, is a problem – ”

“Giles…”

“However, that only happens in that specific situation. The doctor referred to it as ‘harmful drinking’ – I don’t like how that sounds. It happens because I’m trying to forget, trying to let go, trying to…” He shook his head and offered her a small smile. “I promise you, I’m not an alcoholic. But, if it would make you feel more at ease…I would have no issues with disposing of the alcohol from the house.”

“What can I do to help?” She asked softly.

“We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.” He tucked a strand of hair behind her left ear and looked into her eyes. “I’m very sorry for hurting you, for making you think you didn’t matter. I was so focused on my own emotions…” He sighed sadly. “I should have given you the opportunity to…I should have listened to you, Buffy. I’m so sorry that I didn’t.”

“Thank you.” She whispered. “Will you listen now?”

“For as long as you want me to.” He replied sincerely.

She stepped out of his embrace and made her way to the sofa. He followed and sat down next to her, turning to face her. When she hesitated, he could easily sense her nervousness.

“Take your time, Buffy. But…be honest.”

She nodded slowly and turned to face him.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The Monday of her second week in his home, he came out of his room dressed in a suit…his jacket folded over his arm. She raised an eyebrow at him and gestured towards him.

“Well, this is…more you than I’ve seen in a while.”

He chuckled softly. “Yes, well…I do need to get back into the office. Though I’m quite certain that everything is running rather smoothly.”

She nodded in agreement. “Probably. I don’t think I’ve actually ever said how grateful I am that you accepted Head of Council. You’ve made a lot of changes there and pretty much all of them have been for the best. The best for the Watchers, the best for the Slayers…things have changed a lot there. And that’s a good thing.”

He lowered his eyes, a smile playing at his lips. “Thank you, Buffy.”

“You’re welcome.” She replied softly. “Can I come?”

He met her eyes briefly, placing his jacket over the back of a chair. “You want to come with me?”

She hesitated for just a moment as she watched him walk into the kitchen. “Yeah…if that’s okay? I mean, I haven’t been to the Council in ages.”

“Of course.” He nodded absently, flicking the kettle on and dropping four pieces of bread into the toaster. “After all, you are the Slayer. You should be kept abreast of what’s taking place.”

“I’m a Slayer, Giles. There’s like 100 of us now.”

“There are currently 93…” He glanced over at her as he opened the refrigerator, pulling out the butter and strawberry jam and placing them on the counter next to the Marmite. “And you will always be the Slayer.”

“Don’t…” She said, seeing the flicker in his eyes.

“One girl in all the world – ”

“Asshole.” She muttered good naturedly, moving into the kitchen as he chuckled.

As she pulled down two plates and two mugs from the cupboard, he leaned against the counter and crossed his arms over his chest. She looked up at him, noticing quickly that he was well on his way to falling into deep thought.

“What’s on your mind, Giles?”

“Hm?” He looked at her and smiled softly. “Oh, nothing really…” He sighed and continued when she merely stared at him, obviously not buying that response. “I was just wondering how long you might be…staying.”

“In your house or in England?” She asked. “Because…if this is too weird, I can go to a hotel…”

“What?”

She gestured between them. “Us…here. If it’s too weird, too…much – ”

“It’s not too weird.” He interrupted gently. “That’s not what I meant.”

“I’ll be here until…” She furrowed her brow and pulled the toast out of the toaster, dropping two pieces on each plate. As she handed him one of the plates, she shrugged her shoulder. “How ever long it takes. Unless I wear out my welcome first.”

“Good.” He answered, clearing his throat and setting to the task of smearing butter and then marmite to his toast.

“I still don’t know how you can eat that…” She stated, taking a bite of her own toast.

He offered her a small grin and took a large bite of his toast, amusement showing in his eyes when she shuddered.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

He held the lift door open for her, smiling at a younger man who walked past. “Good morning, Elias.”

“Good morning, Mr. Giles.” He blushed lightly as Giles arched an eyebrow. “Rupert. It’s good to see you. If you’re not busy later, would I be able to go over a few things with you?”

“Of course. I’ll send you a message once I check my calendar.”

Elias smiled and met Buffy’s eyes. “Miss Summers, it’s lovely to see you within the Council walls again.”

Buffy returned his smile. “Buffy…”

Elias nodded. “Buffy.”

With a quick nod, he turned and continued on his way. Buffy looked up at Giles and smiled. The lift door closed and he pushed a button.

“What is it, Buffy?”

“One of the best changes you made here was making yourself…approachable.”

He slipped his right hand into his pocket and smiled softly. “I’m no better than anyone else in this building. Everyone here has such an important role – previous Heads would’ve been wise to understand that.”

She gestured at the panel of buttons on the lift wall. “Even had the office moved down a couple of floors…”

“Colleagues shouldn’t require a key or special permission to make an appointment to see me. If I could figure out a way to get rid of appointments, I’d do that as well. Unfortunately, those seem to be a necessity.”

She reached up and gently brushed a piece of lint from his jacket. “Can I make an appointment to see you for lunch?”

He met her eyes and hesitated for a moment. Buffy took a step back from him as the doors slid open.

“Sorry.” She whispered and stepped from the lift and into the hallway.

He followed her quickly, reaching out and wrapping his fingers around her wrist. She stopped her movement and looked up at him.

“You are not required to make an appointment, Buffy.”

She nodded slowly and stifled her sigh when he let go of her. “I’m going to go exploring…so, I’ll meet you at your office in a few hours?”

“Exploring?” He glanced around and chuckled. “In Council Headquarters? I’m not sure there’s much to explore that would interest you, but…have at it. You have free reign here, Buffy.”

“You okay?” She asked as he turned to walk towards his office.

He stopped and looked back at her, a smile on his lips that wasn’t reflected in his eyes. “I’m fine. Have fun. I’ll see you soon.”

She nodded in agreement, making a mental note to ask him again later. Obviously, this wasn’t the right time.

Without another word, and before she could stop herself, she turned and made her way to the stairs.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Buffy opened Giles’ office door and poked her head in, smiling when she heard the unmistakeable tone of annoyance in his voice. She slipped in and quietly closed the door behind her. Judging by his appearance, it had been a busy morning – his jacket had been discarded, his tie loosened, and his sleeves rolled up to his elbows.

He gestured towards the computer screen on his desk as he continued his conversation on the phone.

“It’s a Fyral, Geoffrey. I’m looking at the picture you sent to me – there’s no doubt.” He paused, pulling his glasses off and dropping them onto his desk. “No, beheading isn’t…you need silver. Pure silver, not silver-plated.”

He leaned back in his chair, absently rubbing his chest. “I’m quite certain, Geoffrey. Pure silver. Otherwise you’ll just anger the demon.” He chuckled softly. “Yes, that would be quite…bad. If you need assistance, Tarek is closest to you.”

He glanced towards the door, smiling at Buffy. He moved his hand from his chest and gestured towards the chair. She walked into the room but busied herself with looking at the pictures and weapons and other sundries adorning the walls as he finished his conversation.

“Yes, yes…talk soon, Geoffrey. Stay safe. And take care to avoid the mucus.” He hung up the phone and turned his attention to Buffy. “Hello, how was your exploration?”

“Exhilarating…” She grinned as he smiled.

“Yes, well…I did warn you.” He pushed his chair back and stood up. “What did you get into?”

“Library…armory…training room up on level 4…” She walked over to him and glanced at his chest. “So…a Fyral demon?”

“Hm? Oh…yes, absolutely certain about it.”

Buffy laughed softly. “If there’s one demon you are absolutely certain about, it’s a Fyral. Ethan involved?”

Giles scoffed and picked up his jacket. “No. Absolutely certain about that, as well.”

“How is he?” She asked, taking the jacket from him. “Don’t wear the jacket, Giles…too formal for lunch.”

“He’s…” He inhaled sharply as she reached out and placed her fingertips on his chest, gently rubbing over the area where she had stabbed him years ago. “What…what are you doing?”

She pulled her hand back quickly. “Sorry, I…sorry.”

Giles cleared his throat. “No, it’s…I’m sorry. I, uh…lunch?”

“Nice segue…”

“You just caught me off guard, Buffy.”

“You’re my Watcher. You shouldn’t be off-guard. You should be on-guard…”

“Buffy – ”

“Yeah, I know.” She interrupted. “Our…bond. It’s not back to guard territory yet.”

“No, no it’s not.” He replied quietly.

“But…it is getting better, stronger.” She said quickly, meeting his eyes. “I feel it getting stronger. I am feeling it getting stronger, right?”

“Yes.” He nodded slowly and sat down on the edge of his desk. “But, you also know that I wasn’t referring to our bond.”

“Yeah, I know. But, Giles – ”

He smiled softly as she trailed off. She took a deep breath, exhaling slowly and then returning his smile.

“So…lunch?” She asked, reaching out to take his hand.

He nodded wordlessly, trying his best to ignore the urge to pull her into his arms. Instead, he allowed her to pull him from the desk.

“Thai?”

He looked down at their hands and gently rubbed his thumb against her skin. “Thai, it is.”

“So…Ethan?” She asked, reluctantly letting go of his hand as she opened his office door.

He sighed, instantly missing the connection. “Ethan…well, there’s a story there.”

“I’m sure there is.” She laughed as he pulled the door closed behind them.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The next week and a half had passed quickly, with Buffy going into the city with him each day. She didn’t spend all day each day in the Council building – not because she didn’t want to, but because she was worried about putting too much pressure on him. He wouldn’t admit it to her, but she knew that his focus wasn’t 100% on his work when she was in the building.

Sometimes she would be back in time to have lunch with him, sometimes she was back to catch a ride home with him.

“Home…” She sighed softly, walking through the middle of the small park a few blocks away from the Council building. “I probably should talk to him about that…”

It wasn’t that she felt uncomfortable in Giles’ home. In fact, it was quite the opposite. For the first time in a very long time, she felt completely safe – but, the fact of the matter was, it was Giles’ home. And she was occupying a guest room.

Hearing a twig snap to her left, she turned quickly and blew out a deep breath as a large being with yellow eyes stepped out towards her.

“Really? It’s in the middle of the day.”

The demon clicked his teeth at her…his very pointed, green-tinged teeth.

“Colgate has an amazing whitening formula…” She quipped, easily slipping into a defensive stance.

“Klintlisk t’aal…” The demon growled, before grinning at Buffy and clicking his teeth again.

“What’s with the clicking?” Buffy asked, narrowing her eyes as a portal opened next to the demon. “Whoa…hold up…”

She took a step forward, reaching out to grab the demon. Her fingernails grazed his skin as he stepped through the portal and disappeared.

“What the actual fuck was that?” She looked down and grimaced when she saw that there was a bit of the demon’s skin under her fingernails. “Ugh, really? Giles’ll love this…”

She turned towards the left and saw the top two floors of the Council building in the distance. “Giles…Giles will know what this is…”

And then she took off, running towards the one person she knew would have some sort of answer for her.

~ ~ ~

Giles was sitting at the table in his office, two younger Watchers sitting across from him, on a conference call with Willow.

“Do you think galangal will work instead of jykros root?” Flynn asked.

Giles stared at him, opening his mouth to respond. He was cut off by a scoff coming from the black unit sitting in the middle of the table.

“Yeah, sure…if you’re making a curry instead of a tracker that will find a rogue T’aalish demon.”

Giles smiled as Flynn blushed. Jason chuckled and leaned forward slightly.

“We, uh…we seem to be out of jykros root here.”

“I’ll send some out to you. The problem isn’t the lack of jykros – the problem is…you’re going to need some of the T’aalish’s DNA. And, that I can’t help you with.”

“Yes, well…” Giles sighed. “We have had a few sightings near – ”

He stopped suddenly, his eyes darting towards the door.

“Giles?” Willow asked. “You still there?”

Giles stood up, Flynn and Jason exchanged a curious glance.

“Buffy…” Giles said, moving around the table.

“Buffy?” Willow echoed. “Buffy’s there? Since when is Buffy there? Why didn’t I know that Buffy’s there?”

The door swung open and Buffy ran in. “Giles!”

Flynn arched an eyebrow at Jason. They’d heard rumours of the bond between Rupert Giles and Buffy Summers, but to witness an obvious occurrence wasn’t something that either of them had expected.

“Are you okay?” He asked quickly, running towards her…looking for any obvious injuries. “What happened?”

“Demon, yellow eyes, green pointy teeth…clicky.”

“Clicky?” Jason asked.

“The demon clicks his teeth.” Giles responded, eyes still trained on Buffy. “Are you injured?”

Buffy shook her head, holding out her hand. “Tried to grab him…scratched his arm and he just went poof…”

Flynn narrowed his eyes. “Scratching him made him disappear?”

Buffy turned towards him and arched an eyebrow. “No…I scratched him as he jumped into a portal.”

“He…didn’t harm you?” Giles asked softly.

“No, I’m good…promise. He did say something though…”

“Oh?” Giles asked.

“Yeah…” She thought for a moment and then continued. “Klinlicker?”

“Did you say clit licker??” Willow asked in an amused tone.

Giles instantly blushed, Jason and Flynn snorted, and Buffy grinned. “Will! How are you?”

“Annoyed that you didn’t tell me you were going to see Giles. How long have you been there? And…I really miss you.”

“I miss you too. When will you be back in the country?”

“In a couple of weeks, I guess. Will you still be there?”

“Oh, well…I – ”

Giles glanced at Buffy’s hand. “Is that skin?”

“Huh?” She looked down as Giles gently turned her hand over, palm facing up. “Oh, yeah, it is. You have no idea how much I want to wash my hands.”

Giles smiled and met her eyes. “You have no idea how glad I am that you haven’t.”

“You have skin?” Willow asked. “Great! We have DNA. All you need is the jykros root and we’ll be able to track him. I’ll call back when I get it sent off.”

“Thank you, Willow.” Giles said, as he carefully removed the skin with a pair of tweezers he had pulled out of the top drawer of his desk.

“Buffy?”

“Yeah?” Buffy answered, watching as Giles dropped the skin into a specimen jar and closed it.

“We’ll talk later, yeah?”

Buffy met Giles’ eyes and arched an eyebrow in a silent question. He gave her a nearly imperceptible nod.

“Absolutely, Will. Soon?”

“Without a doubt! Bye Buffy, Giles.”

“Goodbye, Willow.” Giles responded and looked over at Jason and Flynn as Willow disconnected the call. “Would you two mind dropping this sample off on your way to collect the rest of the ingredients for the spell?”

Jason and Flynn stood, Flynn answering for the both of them. “Of course, Rupert.”

Jason took the sample and the two Watchers left the room, closing the door behind them.

Giles sat down on the edge of his desk and regarded Buffy carefully. “You’re positive you’re okay?”

Buffy nodded slowly. “Positive. He didn’t touch me, Giles.”

Giles cleared his throat. “I think it’s safe to say that the demon didn’t say ‘clit licker’…”

Buffy’s eyes widened slightly. “Um…um, no. No, those are definitely not the words that…”

She trailed off as he reached up and gently caressed her cheek. “I’m so very grateful that you’re alright. When you were running down the hall, I…I was very concerned.”

“You…felt me?”

He nodded slowly. “The first time in a very long time that I’ve felt…you.”

“Klintlisk.” She whispered, sighing softly as he lowered his hand. “That’s what he said. Klintlisk tall…or something?”

“Hm…interesting.” He glanced over at his bookcase. “Klintlisk…”

“You’re going to be here for a while, aren’t you?” She asked, a smile playing on her lips.

“Most likely, yes.” He admitted, returning her smile. “You can take the car. I’ll get a cab.”

“You sure?”

He nodded and handed her his keys. “I won’t be overly late. It’s, um…it’s supposed to rain tonight.”

“Oh…” Buffy bit her lip gently. “I can stay…”

“It’ll be fine, Buffy. I’ll be home before it starts, I promise.”

~ ~ ~

She opened his desk drawer and searched quickly, easily finding the small wooden box pushed towards the back. She pulled it out and grabbed a lighter…and then headed out the back door.

Buffy inhaled deeply as she took her time with her current task. The aroma of rain was thick in the air…and she wasn’t sure what was making her more nervous – Giles’ tendency to drink when it rained or his tendency to completely shut down.

She blew out a breath and licked the paper, rolling the joint between her fingers. The past couple of weeks had been…good. Really good. They had been working and relaxing and concentrating on everything and each other, doing everything they could to help their bond. She couldn’t help but wonder if all of their hard work would just completely fall apart in the next hour or so.

She lit the joint and took a puff, blowing the smoke out through her nose. She arched an eyebrow and coughed lightly.

“Hm…good stuff…”

“I only buy the good stuff…”

“Jesus, Giles!” Buffy jumped, nearly dropping the lighter from her hand. “What are you doing sneaking up on me like that?”

Giles chuckled and sat down next to her, gently pulling the joint from her fingers. “I’m not exactly ‘sneaking’, Buffy. I told you I’d be home before the rain came in.”

He inhaled deeply, holding the smoke for a few seconds as he passed it back to her. She narrowed her eyes slightly as she flicked the ashes.

“Are we getting high together?”

“Mm…” He leaned back in his chair and glanced at the sky. “Seems as such.”

“You okay?” She asked, concern in her voice.

“The rain is moving in quickly this time.” He replied, turning to look at her. “Who taught you how to roll a joint?”

Buffy laughed, smoke swirling around her head, and passed it back to him. “Wouldn’t you like to know?”

He merely smiled and then turned his eyes back to the dark sky. “Are you okay?”

“I don’t know...” She stated, shrugging a shoulder and leaning her head against the back of her chair. “I’m nervous.”

“As am I, Buffy.” He admitted softly, sighing as the first raindrops fell.

“We should go inside…”

“I’m not sure it really matters where we are.”

“Can we get through this?” She whispered, turning her head towards him. “Can you – ”

“The urge is there, I won’t deny it.”

“To drink?”

He closed his eyes briefly. “That too.”

“Giles…”

“The…pain…isn’t as…” He paused, taking another drag and letting the smoke escape through his nostrils. “Perhaps because you’re here. Perhaps because we’ve been working so diligently on repairing our bond.”

“Maybe you’ve decided to stop punishing yourself?”

“Maybe.”

“But, you still want to drink?”

“Why did you decide to smoke tonight?”

Buffy opened her mouth to respond and then closed it, her eyes meeting his. His eyes were slightly glazed, but she could see so much…probably things that he had wanted to keep from her. And then she realized that he was staring just as hard into her eyes – which were probably just as glazed and just as bad at keeping secrets.

“Um…”

“Perhaps you shouldn’t answer that right now, Buffy.” He whispered. He lifted his right hand and gently stroked her cheek with the backs of his fingers. “Are you alright? It’s pretty potent…”

She nodded slowly, leaning into his touch. The rain was coming down harder, large drops that were soaking the ground. The temperature had dropped a couple of degrees, but they didn’t seem to notice.

“Giles…”

He lowered his hand and swallowed hard. “I’m…I’m sorry, I need to go inside. We…should go inside.”

Lightning crashed in the distance and he stood up, gazing out into the yard for a moment before turning and walking back into the house. Buffy’s brow furrowed.

“Nope, not complicated at all…” She mumbled, wobbling slightly as she stood up.

She held onto the railing until her head stopped swimming, staring out at the rain – which had quickly turned into another downpour. She sighed heavily and as a memory began to replay in her mind, she pushed away and made her way through the door.

Giles glanced at her as she lightly bounced off of the door frame on her way into the living room. “Graceful.”

“Shut up…” She muttered, closing the door behind her as a thunderclap rattled the windows. “You sure that was just pot?”

He smiled as he watched her carefully make her way to the sofa. “Mm-hm.”

“So…do you smoke this before going out? Or…after you come home?” She asked, dropping onto the soft cushions. “’Cause I don’t know how the hell you’d function before…”

His smile faded and his eyes darted towards the liquor cabinet. “It…depends…”

“Shit, I’m sorry, Giles. Um…it kind of loosens my tongue a bit…obviously.” She looked over at him and followed his gaze. “Hey…you okay there?”

“What?” He turned to look at her, instantly recognising concern in her eyes. “Oh, yes. I’m…fine.”

“Why do you insist on lying to me? You’re obviously not…fine.”

He blew out a deep breath and made his way to the sofa. “This is the first downpour in two years that I haven’t had a drink – it feels…strange.”

She turned her body towards him as he sat down next to her. “Did you know that we are…legendary?”

“What?” He asked, confused by the seemingly sudden change in subject.

“Me and you…our bond. It’s been written about by a few different people. How unique it is.”

He narrowed his eyes as he looked at her. “What are you even talking about, Buffy?”

She sighed heavily, curling her legs underneath her. “We’re mentioned in a few texts in the Council library. I think someone wrote ‘no previous bond has ever occurred as quickly or as strongly as the bond between Rupert Giles and Buffy Summers’. And then someone else has stated that he ‘aspires to have the type of bond with his Slayer that R Giles has with B Summers’.”

“You were researching us in the Council library?” Giles asked, rubbing his left palm against his thigh.

She shook her head slowly, his movement drawing her attention. “No. Well, not intentionally. I was looking up how bonds work – you know, how long they take to form…”

She reached over and covered his hand with hers, stilling the movement. “Everything says that it normally takes months…sometimes years.”

Giles nodded and glanced down at their hands. “That’s true, for the most part.”

“Ours…was very different, very unusual by Council standards...according to what I read.” She gently squeezed his hand. “I trusted you completely within weeks.”

He cleared his throat and met her eyes. “Why were you researching bonds?”

“It’s not taking as long to…” She paused for a moment and then gave a small shrug. “I thought it would take longer for it to get better. And then I got worried that maybe there was something wrong because everything seemed to be falling back into place so quickly and…”

“Buffy…”

“I didn’t want to fuck it up again, so I was looking it up. To see if it was normal to happen so quickly.”

“We…were somewhat of an anomaly, Buffy.”

“I like ‘legendary’ better…” She muttered, rubbing her eyes with her left hand.

He smiled softly and pulled his hand out from under hers. “Tired?”

“Mm-hm…highs wear off pretty fast.”

“Normal Slayer metabolism.” He offered, glancing towards the hall. “You should probably sleep…”

“Mm-hm…” She murmured, leaning against him and resting her head on his shoulder.

He turned towards her quickly. “Oh, I meant…you know…in bed.”

She shook her head sleepily and yawned. “Can you just...hold me? For a little while?”

Giles opened his mouth to protest and then sighed in resignation as she shifted, slipping under his arm and resting her head against his chest. “I guess this is one way of keeping me from drinking tonight...”

She chuckled softly. “Didn’t really think about that, but...yeah, I guess so.”

“How often do you smoke?” He asked quietly, resisting the urge to place a kiss in her hair.

“Mm...not often. ‘Cause of this...” She gestured vaguely. “After a hard night, can’t sleep...smoke some pot, get a little high...then pass out and sleep like...something that sleeps really well.”

She was quiet for a moment and he briefly thought she had drifted off to sleep.

“Giles?”

“Hm?”

“Is it getting better too quickly? I mean...do you feel that it’s getting better super quickly?”

After a slight hesitation, he shook his head. “Our bond originally formed at a rate that frankly terrified me. No bond had ever formed as quickly as ours. It has taken its fair share of hits over the years...but it never severed that connection.”

“Not until two years ago?”

His body tensed for a moment and then relaxed. “I thought so. But, looking back...I’m not convinced it was ever truly severed. I think it was dangerously damaged, near complete destruction. I think that it buried itself so deeply for protection that neither of us could sense it any longer. And I think it stayed hidden until...recently.”

“That’s why it feels like it’s moving so fast?”

“Is it moving too fast for you, Buffy?” He asked softly.

She shook her head slowly and then snuggled closer to him. “I want to look at rain differently.”

“As do I.” He whispered, a smile playing at his lips as he felt her slip into slumber. “Goodnight, Buffy.”

Buffy mumbled incoherently. Giles stared out the window as the rain pelted against the side of the house. He sat there for nearly an hour, listening to her sleep...listening to the rain...lost in his thoughts.

He briefly considered carrying her into her bedroom, but was fairly certain that wouldn’t be the best thing for him to do. Instead, he gently maneuvered himself out from under her and carefully laid her down. He watched her sleep for a few moments before retrieving a blanket from the blanket box near the window. He covered her and smiled as she curled up under the blanket.

With another softly whispered ‘goodnight’, he turned and made his way to his room.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The sun was up when he awoke. He sat up slowly and realised that he felt different. And then he rolled his eyes at himself. Of course he felt different. There was no headache, no lingering taste of alcohol on his tongue, no aching muscles or scratches. For the first time in two years, he had awoken after a downpour with no ill effects from the night before.

He opened his bedroom door and narrowed his eyes at the piece of paper stuck to the outer side of it at eye height. He sighed nervously as he pulled the paper down and read the note that had been left for him.

“Sorry I fell asleep on you last night. I’ve gone to the store to pick up some things. If you wake up before I get back...I’ll be back soon. Buffy”

He smiled and made his way to the bathroom.

~ ~ ~

He had just finished his shower and gotten dressed when the phone rang. He felt a sudden pang in his heart...a memory flashing in his head that he hadn’t welcomed.

He picked the phone up slowly and took a deep breath. “Hello?”

“Okay, Giles...we need to talk.”

Giles relaxed and then furrowed his brow. “Good morning, Willow.”

“Oh, good morning. I didn’t wake you up did I?”

He chuckled softly and sat down on the sofa. “No, not at all. What do we need to talk about?”

“Buffy. You. You and Buffy?”

“Willow...”

“I know what happened a couple of years ago...”

Giles sighed, fingers rubbing against the blanket that he had covered Buffy with the previous night. “I assumed so.”

“I knew before I got it out of Buffy. The way you’d change the subject when her name was mentioned. The flash of pain in your eyes when you’d change the subject. The way you’d yell at me to mind my own business...”

“Yes, well...where are you going with this, Willow?”

“Are you guys...okay?” She asked softly.

Giles smiled at the concern in her voice. “I think we are.”

“Are you...together? I mean...”

Giles’ smile faded slightly. “No, well...no, no we’re not. At the moment...or...”

Willow chuckled softly as he stammered. “She’s loved you for a long time, you know. Probably as long as you’ve loved her.”

“What?”

“When she died, we all saw it. The pain...the love...” She continued, her voice gentle and understanding. “Funny thing was, none of us were surprised. And when she came back, the look in your eyes when you walked through the door and she was there...”

“Willow, I don’t understand why you’re bringing all of this up now...”

“Do you still love her?”

“Yes.” He replied with no hesitation.

“That’s why I’m bringing all of this up now. You two...neither one of you are anywhere near your best without each other. Could be the Watcher/Slayer thing...but, I think it’s more the Buffy/Giles thing.”

Giles glanced at the door, smiling softly as Buffy walked through the door carrying quite a few bags of groceries.

“Hey, I’m home.” She smiled back, pushing the door closed with her foot before heading towards the kitchen.

“She is, you know.”

“She is, what?” Giles asked softly.

“Home.” Willow replied with a smile.

“Yes.” He agreed, nodding slowly as he stood up. “Yes, she is.”

“Talk to you later, Giles.” Willow said and then ended the call.

He heard the radio turn on in the kitchen and took a deep breath. And before he could stop himself, he made his way to the kitchen...hanging the phone up on his way.

He smiled warmly as he watched Buffy, emptying grocery bags while dancing and singing along to the song playing on the radio. She turned, a wedge of cheese in her hand, and grinned at him.

“Bought you something…”

She tossed the cheese to him, not surprised when he effortlessly caught it in his right hand. What did surprise her was the fact that he simply dropped the cheese onto the counter and took two large steps towards her. With no words spoken, he lifted his left hand to the side of her face and lowered his mouth to hers.

She dropped the bag of oranges she had been holding and wrapped her arms around him. She opened her mouth to him, moaning softly as his tongue found hers.

He kissed her slowly, gently stroking her cheek with his thumb. His right hand moved to her back, gently pulling her closer to him. He felt her fingers on the back of his neck, her nails lightly scratching his skin as the fingers of her right hand toyed at the buttons of his shirt.

He ended the kiss slowly, almost regretfully, and sighed as she gave a soft whimper.

“Buffy…” He whispered softly, his thumb moving along her jaw towards her chin.

She smiled in understanding, knowing he didn’t want to end the kiss…but that he needed to. This wasn’t going to be the same situation from a couple of years ago – making out and then going to bed. It was going to be more this time…and for that to happen, they needed to slow down.

“I should buy you blue cheese more often…” She stated, amusement in her eyes.

“I’m glad you’re home.”

“Me too.” She smiled up at him as she slid her arms around his neck. “I’ve missed you.”

He laughed softly, pulling her into his arms as he brushed his lips across hers.

And as the last piece of their bond snapped back into place, their eyes met and they knew...

Their paths had reconnected and they had finally found their way back to one another.


~ End

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