Title: Tumbling, Bumbling
Show: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Timeline: Immediately following A Portal in Sunnydale.
Synopsis: Buffy and Giles apparently have some things that need to be discussed.
Author’s Note: Thanks to wyvernwolf for the beta.
Giles glanced at the door once more, half expecting the Doctor to come rushing back in, and then slipped the wad of paper into the pocket of his trousers. Buffy was busy rummaging through the grocery bag, calling out guess upon guess as to what he’d planned for dinner. She was wrong with each guess, but it didn’t fail to put a smile on his face.
Buffy looked over her shoulder at him when he didn’t respond with a ‘no’ after her last guess. She turned slowly, somewhat surprised to see the warm smile adorning his features.
“So…you normally bring home pretty blondes?” She asked.
His smile faltered as his eyes widened. “What? No, no…I…” He sighed when she grinned at him. “Are you in the habit of bringing attractive men to my home while I’m out?”
“You think he was attractive?”
“Didn’t you?” He asked, giving her a small smile as he made his way over to her and picked the bag up.
“I liked his accent.” She admitted, following him into the kitchen and hopping up on the counter. “Why are we talking about them?”
“Would you prefer to be talking about something else?”
“Why are you answering all of my questions with more questions?”
He chuckled as he emptied the bag and tossed three potatoes to her in rapid succession. He couldn’t help but grin proudly when she caught each one with seemingly no effort at all.
“Would you care to peel those for me?”
She arched an eyebrow at him, but slid off the counter just the same. “So…where did you run into Rose?”
Giles’ grin faded slightly as he sighed heavily. “Buffy…would you mind very much if we discuss tonight’s events tomorrow?”
Buffy nodded slowly and pulled the vegetable peeler out of the top drawer. “Yeah…sorry.”
He placed a pot of water on the stove before turning towards her. He hesitated for a moment, simply watching her peel a potato. And then he felt the slight rise in his heart rate. It was all very domestic…both of them in his tiny kitchen, preparing a dinner that they’d share with one another.
He swallowed and reached out, wrapping his fingers around her forearm. Her movements stopped and she turned her eyes to his, silently questioning him.
“I’ll tell you everything tomorrow, Buffy. I promise. It’s just…well, I…this is…” His brow furrowed as he tried to grab the right words that were floating just out of his reach. “Fairly idiotic.”
Buffy narrowed her eyes at him. “Fairly idiotic? What’s idiotic? Me? Us?”
“No, no…” He started quickly, pausing when he realized what she’d said. “Us?”
She bit her lip nervously, casting a glance at the candles resting innocently on the table. “I thought…isn’t that what this is about? I mean, earlier I thought I saw…”
“You did. And…and it is.” He stated softly, removing his hand from her arm as he took a step back and nervously leaned against the counter behind him. “I, uh…I’d planned on thinking everything through while cooking and…well, I…I guess I just don’t know what to say.”
A smile appeared on Buffy’s lips, as well as in her eyes. “But, you’re like the word man.”
The corner of his mouth twitched into an answering smile. “Except for when it counts, apparently.”
“Well…maybe just come right out and say whatever’s on your mind.” She suggested, placing the potato she still held on the edge of the sink.
He cleared his throat and shook his head, pushing away from the counter and reaching over to turn the oven on. “No…I don’t think that would be the safest thing to do right now.”
She looked up at him curiously. “Why not?”
He opened his mouth, then closed it, then raked his hand through his hair in a gesture that told Buffy he was full of nervous energy. She came to a quick decision and reached over, flipping the knobs on the stove to their off positions.
She shook her head as she pushed by him, grabbing his arm and pulling him behind her. “We talk now, have dinner later. We’re just going to drive each other crazy if we don’t talk this out now.”
“But…” He started to protest as she led him into the living room.
She pushed him onto the couch and then sat next to him, turning her body so that her back was against the arm rest. “No buts. Talk, Giles.”
He stared at her through wide eyes and gestured towards the kitchen. She cut off any argument he was going to give by crossing her arms over her chest and giving her best rendition of Willow’s ‘resolve face’. She felt oddly proud when he lowered his hand and sighed in resignation.
“This isn’t how it’s supposed to be.” He muttered, leaning back against the cushions of the couch.
“How is it supposed to be?”
He chuckled softly and shook his head. “I’m sure I’ve no idea. But, I’m fairly certain that I’m supposed to be in control of the situation…”
Buffy snorted, allowing her serious expression to soften. “And when are you ever in control of the situation?”
“Rarely.” He admitted, reaching up to remove his glasses. “But…I was hoping this would be different.”
He exhaled a deep breath. “I sincerely hope that you’re not the type to expect long, flowing declarations of undying love on a daily basis because…that’s not me.”
Buffy stared at him, uncrossing her arms and letting her hands fall to her lap. She didn’t have a chance to say anything before he continued, his voice deep and his eyes bright.
“And…this isn’t what I wanted.”
“You don’t want this?” Buffy asked softly, hoping he didn’t notice the tremble in her voice.
“That came out terribly wrong.” He whispered, reaching over to take her hand. “It’s a well-known fact that I’m horrible at this.”
“Well-known by who?”
“You.” He smiled warmly and glanced at their hands as she stroked the back of his with her thumb. “After all, you were privy to my asking a chair out on a date.”
“Is that what you’re doing?”
“Asking a chair out on a date? No…” His smile grew as he looked into her eyes. “I didn’t want to be a bumbling idiot. And it’s very obvious that that is exactly what I am at the moment.”
“No…” Buffy shook her head slowly, not breaking their mutual gaze. “You’re not an idiot.”
He nearly commented on the fact that she hadn’t protested his bumbling nature, but paused when she bit her lip nervously.
“I know that there’s a very good chance that I’m not what you’re looking for. I’d have to be blind to not know that…”
“You were blind once.” Buffy blurted, blushing lightly when he grinned at her. “But, um…just the once.”
“I’m older…” He continued.
“Angel was way older than you.”
He nodded in agreement and tossed his glasses onto the coffee table. “But, he never acted nor looked his age…whereas, I do. I’m – ”
He raised an eyebrow at her, his tone slipping into the one he normally used for lecturing. “Set in my ways, I was going to say. Are you going to let me finish?”
“Sorry.” She apologized sincerely. “But…I kinda like that you’re stuffy…or set in your ways…or whatever you want to call it.”
“And I find it charming that your thoughts come tumbling from your lips before you’ve had a chance to think them through.” He stated, his amusement showing in his eyes.
“Was that an insult?” She asked, tilting her head and furrowing her brow.
Buffy gave an exaggerated sigh and ran her free hand through her hair. “God, why do you have to insist on talking this through? Why can’t you just…”
He arched an eyebrow at her as she stopped herself suddenly. She cleared her throat and offered him a wan smile.
“Tumbling thoughts again…”
“Why can’t I just what?” Giles asked gently, shaking his head when he saw the panic flicker in her eyes. “Tell me, Buffy. Why can’t I just…what?”
He shifted closer to her, ducking his head to catch her eyes again when she lowered them. “Please…Buffy…”
“Kiss me.” She whispered, chewing on her bottom lip as he lifted his hand from hers.
“I’m sorry?” He questioned, placing two fingers under her chin and gently tilting her face upwards. “What did you say?”
“Why can’t you just…kiss me?”
His eyes darted to her lips, red and slightly swollen from her constant worrying. “I’m asking myself that very same question.”
“What?” She gasped, eyes widening in surprise.
“I think I know the answer.” He continued, as if she’d said nothing. “I’m sure of what I want, Buffy. I’m completely certain that I want to kiss you. I want our relationship to become more…and I feel that it’s been sliding in that direction for a while now. But…just as certain as I am about what I want, I’m as unsure as to what it is that you want. And for that reason, I can’t just kiss you.”
“Oh…” She whispered after a moment. “Huh?”
He took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. “I need to know what you want from me. Are you just wanting someone to pass the time with? Or have you felt that we’ve been moving towards something much deeper than simple physical gratification?”
She narrowed her eyes at him. “Did you just ask me if I just want sex?”
He gave her a crooked smile and moved a bit closer to her. “I suppose I did.”
“And…you want more than sex?”
His smile faded as he nodded slowly. “So much more, Buffy.”
She considered his words and then reached up to place her hand on his warm cheek. “Just for the record? You’re so not horrible at this…”
His smile returned as he leaned into her touch. “Have dinner with me, Buffy.”
“Like a date?” She asked, mirroring his smile as her fingertips stroked his cheek.
“Precisely. I…think we should…if you want…” He glanced at her lips as he reached up to tuck a strand of hair behind her ear. “Christ, I want to kiss you…”
She moved quickly, closing the gap between them and covering his mouth with hers. He responded without hesitation, surprising Buffy as his mouth opened beneath hers. She gasped as he threaded his fingers in her hair, tilting her head back as his tongue slipped between her lips.
The kiss grew and intensified to the point that she was positive that they would forgo dinner and head straight to his bed. And as she stroked the underside of his tongue with the tip of hers, she decided that she was definitely okay with that scenario.
With a deep groan, he slowly ended the kiss and pulled back just enough to rest his forehead against hers. He panted heavily, his breath warm against her skin as he fought his internal battle.
“We can…” She stated between her own pants. “If you want…we can…”
“God, you’ve no idea how much I want.” He closed his eyes and slid his hands down her arms, pausing at her elbows before moving them back up to cradle her face. “But…we shouldn’t. Not tonight.”
“Too soon?” She whispered breathlessly, turning her head just enough to kiss the pad of his thumb.
“Mm…” He murmured, pressing a soft kiss to her lips. “Far too soon.”
He chuckled softly and sat back, gazing into her eyes as he nodded. “Dinner.”
“Maybe a joint patrol tomorrow?” She asked hopefully.
“That’d be nice.” He agreed, standing up and offering his hand to her.
She grinned up at him, slipping her hand into his and allowing him to pull her off the couch. She started to speak, but then noticed a wadded piece of paper on the leather cushion. Giles’ eyes widened as she reached down to pick it up.
“Um…that’s…uh…” He blushed heavily as she deftly unfolded the wad. “Um…I…”
Her eyes scanned the handwritten words quickly. After she had finished, she carefully smoothed out the paper and folded it in half. Looking up at him, she realized just how embarrassed he was. She offered him a reassuring smile and placed her hand on his chest, rubbing her fingers over the soft wool of his sweater.
“I thought you said you didn’t do long, flowing declarations of love?”
“Not on a daily basis, no.” He corrected, glancing at the folded piece of paper still held in the hand that wasn’t currently stroking his chest. “You can…throw it away or – ”
“Throw it away?” She asked, genuinely displeased with that suggestion. “It’s beautiful, Giles!”
“Yeah, it is.” She whispered, leaning up to give him another kiss. “And…unless you really want me to throw it away, I think I’ll just hang on to it. For like…ever.”
The redness of his skin faded to a light pink as he gestured towards the kitchen. “It’s nothing really complex or anything…it’s just salmon with dill and potato…”
“Not really wanting to talk about the letter anymore?” She raised an eyebrow at him, grinning before gesturing towards the kitchen. “There was no fish in that bag…”
“I stopped by the fish market earlier today.” He replied with a wink. “What would you say to setting the table while I finish up?”
“Did you mean what you said in the letter?”
He nodded slowly, gazing into her eyes. “Every word.”
She gave him an adoring smile and walked towards the china cabinet, placing the letter in a safe spot on the desk on her way. “Is it okay if I use the silver?”
“Absolutely.” He whispered softly.
He stood there for a moment, content to watch her pick through the silver left to him by his grandmother. Feeling his gaze on her, she looked over her shoulder at him and pointed towards the kitchen.
He shook his head as if to clear his thoughts and grinned. “Ah, yes…dinner…”
She chuckled to herself as he rushed into the kitchen. Opening a door on the bottom of the cabinet, she peered in and found an elegant set of silver candlesticks that seemed to be a perfect match for the cutlery.
Standing back up and making her way over to the table, she glanced over at him and sighed happily. The night had turned out even better than she could’ve ever imagined…and something told her that she had a Time Lord and the woman he loved to thank for it.
She smiled brightly as Giles turned and shot her a look that cemented the meaning of his words in the letter.
Maybe she’d get the chance to thank them one day.