Title: Chip Tooth Smile
Author: Froxyn
Rating: FRAO Overall/FRT This chapter
Pairing: Buffy/Giles
Timeline: AU, one year post-series...no Dawn, Anya survived Sunnydale.
Synopsis: A year after Sunnydale, there are quite a few changes in the Scoobies' lives. There are more changes to come.
Author’s Note: Special thanks to A for taking the time to go through this project for me. This fic is inspired by the album Chip Tooth Smile by Rob Thomas. This is not a typical songfic. (Lyrics and .mp3s can be found on the CTS index page)

Chapter Four - Funny

Giles hadn’t heard his office door open or close, nor had he heard anyone walk through his office…or step onto the balcony where he currently was sitting. But, he felt her without question.

“Hello, Buffy.” He said softly, lifting the cup of tea to his lips.

“Hi…” She replied, leaning against the door frame and crossing her arms over her chest. “I missed you last night.”

Third Friday of the month…movie night. They all took turns hosting. Last night was Willow’s turn. He lowered his cup and placed it on the small table next to his chair.

“I missed you too.” He cleared his throat. “I did let her know I wouldn’t be able to make it, though.”

“Yeah, she said. Not sleeping well, apparently.” She pushed off of the door frame and took a step onto the balcony. “I haven’t seen you around in a while…”

“I’ve been working…” He replied, still looking out across the countryside.

“I haven’t felt you around in a while…” She clarified, leaning against the railing and looking at him. “In fact, this is the first time that I’ve felt you since you left my flat.”

He sighed heavily and finally turned his eyes to her. “I was giving you time, Buffy.”

“You cloaked yourself from me, didn’t you?” She asked, narrowing her eyes.

“Not to hide from you. I was easy enough to find…as I said, I’ve been working. And you do have my phone numbers.” He shook his head slowly and nervously rubbed the side of his neck. “I honestly was just giving you time.”

She tilted her head, regarding him closely…or as closely as she could in the moonlight. “You look tired.”

He nodded, but didn’t say anything.

“Are you okay?” She asked, moving closer towards him.

“Not sleeping well.” He replied quietly. “Are you?”

“Sleeping well?”

“Okay?” He said softly. “Are you okay?”

“I miss you.” She answered, gesturing towards a vacant chair as he stared at her. “Is it okay if I sit down with you?”

“Of course. Um…would you like some tea?”

She shook her head as she sat down, curling her legs underneath her. “No…it makes me jittery sometimes.”

“Tea?” He asked, obviously confused.

She sighed softly. “Tea…with you.”

“Oh.” He replied, not quite sure what she meant. “Can I get you…anything?”

She blew out a breath and fidgeted with a ring on her finger. “An explanation?”

He lowered his eyes as he reached for his tea. An action that didn’t surprise her, considering he wasn’t wearing his glasses. He didn’t have glasses to polish, so a cup of tea was his next best distraction.

“I…reacted badly.” He offered, wincing when she barked a laugh.

“You’ve had three weeks to think about this and that’s what you come up with? You…reacted badly?”

He took a sip of his tea as he gathered his thoughts. “I’ve never been terribly good with opening up to people.”

“Color me surprised with that knowledge.”

His eyes shot to hers, clearly showing his annoyance. “What do you want me to say, Buffy? Because you obviously have something very specific that you’re wanting from me. Perhaps if you just tell me what that is, it would save us both a lot of time and heartache.”

“I’m sorry.” She said, sincerely. “I’m just really nervous right now. I don’t know where I stand with you.”

“I think we’re both a bit lost right now.” He replied, his features softening. “Which is why I shouldn’t have rushed into…well, what happened.”

“Sex, Giles. That’s what happened. Amazing sex, all night sex. The last time that happened for me, mystical forces were at work. Any ghosts around using sex to gather energy?”

He blushed and lowered his eyes, his index finger lightly circling the rim of his teacup. “I think you know as well as I do that it was more than that.”

“But…it was that, right? For you? I mean…”

He nodded slowly. “I thought that would’ve been obvious. Considering…”

“We need to talk this out, Giles.”

He nodded again and inhaled deeply. “Where do you want me to start?”

“The beginning, I guess.” She answered.

He finished his tea, but held on to the cup…staring at it as if it held all of the answers to the meaning of life. With another deep breath, he began to speak.

“I…was a very different person before my arrival in Sunnydale. I never let anyone in, got through my issues with rebellion…but never let anyone see the real me. I could talk my way out of…or in to…anything. And I didn’t shed a tear…I cut those emotions off. They’d get me nowhere.” He slowly lifted his eyes to her. “And then I was assigned to Sunnydale. To you. And all of that changed. A willful and insolent sixteen year old girl somehow worked her way through all of my carefully constructed barriers. And over the years, she’s continually knocked bricks down…even as I scramble to rebuild the walls.”

He turned the cup in his hand, running his thumb along the bottom.

“At some point, she…you…became everything I ever thought about. At night I couldn’t rest until I knew you were home safe. The afternoons were spent training or plotting out various plans to assist you on patrols. The days were filled with researching whatever particular demon was causing havoc. The mornings were my own…and it wasn’t long until even those were spent thinking and worrying about you – and whether I was helping or hindering.”

He placed the cup on the table and stood up, sliding his hands in his pockets as he walked to the railing and stared at nothing.

“Then I was fired…and refused to leave. Then you left the Council…and it was just us again. But something had shifted…the change was beginning and I did everything in my power to quash it – even as our bond strengthened.”

“Olivia.” Buffy whispered softly.

He chuckled softly as he nodded. “And then there was Riley…” He turned and leaned against the railing, hands still in his pockets. “And then everything I did was wrong. No…not wrong. Useless.”

Buffy’s eyes widened. “Giles…”

“So when Ethan showed up, I drank with him. And I drank so much that I almost died…not unlike my time away from the Academy when I was younger. Then you saw me…for the first time in what felt like years. You saw me…and knocked a few more bricks out of my wall.” A small smile played at his lips. “And off we went again…back and forth, ebb and flow…Slayer and Watcher, friends and hints at more.”

His smile suddenly disappeared as he lifted his eyes to meet hers. “And then you died.”

He pushed off the railing and began to pace back and forth across the balcony. “You were gone…and yet, you were still consuming my thoughts. Do you know that I tried to make a bargain?”

“What?” She asked, staring at him in disbelief.

“Oh, yes. Not to bring you back from the dead, because things have a tendency to go very wrong there.”

“No shit.” She murmured, watching him pace.

“No, I wanted to go back…to change things, to do things differently.” He paused and shrugged a shoulder. “The ‘Powers That Be’ refused. And I started drinking. Drinking to remember, drinking to forget, drinking to…just stop.”

“They never said anything.” Buffy said, tilting her head slightly as Giles looked at her. “Willow, Xander…they never said.”

“I asked Xander to say nothing. Willow was too…preoccupied…with witchcraft to take notice as to what was becoming of me.” He offered her a sad smile. “And then I left – came back here, actually. To regroup, recharge, detox…whatever you want to call it. I’d barely landed when Willow brought you back. Back to Sunnydale I went…with no hesitation. Because, you see…it was all about you and I had to see for myself.”

“I’ll never forget that moment.”

“Nor I.” He whispered. “Christ, how I wanted…”

Buffy’s eyes widened as he trailed off. “How you wanted…what?”

“But, then there was Spike. A vampire who wore his dead heart on his sleeve for all to see – and I’d given my chance away. And besides, I was standing in your way.”

“So you left me…us…Sunnydale.”

He nodded slowly. “And I rebuilt my walls. Problem was…I didn’t kick you out before I rebuilt them. So, everything remained about you…only colored in new and different ways.”

“I…am really confused right now, Giles.”

He laughed softly and leaned against the railing again. “I’m not surprised.”

“Can we skip the next year? Because…that was not my finest year.”

He regarded her carefully for a moment and then exhaled a deep breath. “It was not…for either of us. But, against all odds, we made it through…and we averted yet another apocalypse and survived.”

“And then I followed you here.” She stood up and walked over to stand next to him, looking out across the green field. “And it’s beautiful here.”

“It truly is.” He agreed softly, glancing at her briefly. “I’d do it all again, Buffy. Every single moment.”

She turned towards him, surprised to see his eyes glisten in the moonlight. “Giles?”

He continued softly, his voice seeming to hang in the air around her.

“I’d change nothing. And how I feel could never fade. No matter how hard I try to make it otherwise.”

She merely looked at him and then took a steadying breath. “How do you feel?”

He was silent for a long moment and then lifted his left hand to her cheek. “Like I want you to knock down the rest of the bricks and stop me from rebuilding.” His thumb gently stroked the skin in front of her ear. “Please stop me.”

When his eyes darted to her lips, she smiled. “Stop you from rebuilding? Or stop you from kissing me?”

He looked into her eyes and lowered all of his defences. “Both.”

When he heard her soft gasp, he gently pulled his hand away…allowing his thumb to brush over her bottom lip. “There are words that are extremely hard for me to say…that I haven’t said in many years. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t feel them intimately. It’s not that I don’t want to say them…I do, desperately. But, I…I can’t. Not yet.”

She considered his words and then placed a trembling hand on his chest, directly over his heart. “Will you be able to at some point?”

“Christ, I hope so.” He whispered emotionally.

He covered her hand with his, pressing it tightly against his chest. “I am so very sorry for hurting you. As much as it wasn’t my intention, I realise that there was no other way that was going to come across to you. And I was wrong. If you can find it in your heart to forgive me, to give me another chance…I rather think that I would very much prefer for our night to have been the start of something amazing.”

“Jesus…so many words, Giles.” She replied with a smile that sparkled in her eyes. “Something amazing…I like that.”

“I’m tempted to ask you to come home with me tonight.” He smiled as she arched her eyebrow at him. “To continue this conversation. However, I’m concerned that my restraint will fail at some point. Would you like to grab a coffee?”

“I was thinking maybe a training session…letting me work out some of my frustration with you on you? And then…I’d love to grab a coffee.”

His smile gave way to a soft laugh as he gestured towards the door. “After you…”

“Our lives…are funny…” She said with a chuckle as she walked back into his office.

He nodded in agreement as he followed her.

Chapter Five - I Love It

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