Before, So Long. And Yet...
By Brier Allison

Title: Before, So Long. And Yet...
Author:  Brier Allison
Category:  B/G definite angsty material here
Rating:  PG
Spoilers:  None, other than it takes place in season four
Disclaimer:  Not my characters, just my words
Summary:  Giles laments about not telling Buffy his true feelings (gee, what could those be?!)  S'about all for the set-up.
Feedback:  This is my first venture into Buffyfic-and look, I chose B/G to start with!  Please let me know what you think, and if I should expand this, or expand upon the context, I mean.  Also, being my first fanfic, it may suck (can I say that?), and if so, I apologize.  I'm open to advice, just not to flames.

I'd also like to extend a big THANK YOU to all the readers and writers at The New Buffy/Giles Relationshippers, without whom there wouldn't be some of the most beautiful and funny, but always touching, prose I've ever read. And of course, fellow shippers to share with!

Before, I told myself that she was just a beautiful girl, inside and out, and I took pride in her accomplishments and beauty as any father would. Before, I thought, "Perhaps I had something to do with molding this beautiful person into who she is, today." And that was all, before.  Before I realized that she not only depended upon me, but that I was just as dependent upon her.  Before I was fired, I had a duty to perform, to guide her in her destiny, but after I was fired from my position, with my "father's love" interfering with the detached supervision the Council would have deemed more appropriate, I stayed.  Before, I thought it was only temporary, though I never dared to tell Buffy such.  I decided before, once the new watcher came, I would shift over my authority, or the authority Buffy allowed me to have over her, to Wesley.  My responsibility to Buffy would be no more, and if things went according to plan, I would leave before our relationship merged into something else, something beyond a watcher and his slayer, a guardian and his charge.  Before, I thought I would be able to leave.

But after, I realised otherwise.  I realised that the dependency was, in fact mutual, so I stayed, not wanting to cause Buffy more pain, or so I justified my 'sticking around'. The new watcher wasn't working out, and there was a 'big evil' as they called it, which needed my attending to.  After all, I had the world to save.  But with contrition, I realised my actions weren't nearly so virtuous.  At the heart of it, I simply wanted to be around her, in any way that I could.  What was I sorry for?  I'm not sure.  Just in that I know my feelings for Buffy go far beyond a father's love, as my head so endlessly reminds me, how inappropriate my feelings for Buffy are. I always felt guilty, even before I consciously knew what I was feeling guilty for. For the feelings cannot be reciprocated. And a part of me didn't want them to be-it would just make life more difficult for the both of us.

So I continued to provide support, and I'd like to think, companionship. Companionship for the both of us.  As she fluctuated in her love life, I was the constant she could turn to, to discuss matters of personal and global importance with.  For she still depended on me with her life.  But little did she know, and little did I want to admit to myself, and certainly not to anybody else, that she had become my life.  As surely as my heart would beat, her energy would sustain me.

She thinks I am kind, she thinks that I stay to protect her.  But I stay because I am protecting the both of us.  So long as I am here, I can be with her and never have to tell her how much I care for her.  Love her.  As pure and primal and full and torturous and multi-faceted as love can be. If I left, I would fear I'd make my feelings, my true feelings, known to Buffy.  And what purpose would that serve?  If I were to confess and then leave like the coward that the Council has already pegged me for?  Buffy is young, she has her whole life ahead of her. At least that's the mantra I have kept repeating to myself. I can't burden her with my feelings. But my torture is to never love her physically.  I am a man, as Buffy seemed surprised to know when she caught me with Olivia.  And as inappropriate as it is, I desire Buffy; desire her with every fiber of every tweed suit I ever owned. But I told myself, so long as I was able to be around her, to stay in her life in some capacity, so long as we could carve out a new niche in our relationship, I would be content. I lied, of course. Having accomplished all of that, the new yet familiar footing that used to be guardian/child and has morphed into that of friend and confidant, (much like a parent/child relationship matures as the child comes of age, so my inner Travers reminds me), I'm still not content. And it is little wonder why.  I do not want to be thought of as a parent.  I want to be thought of as a man.  And maybe a part of me was ready to admit such to Buffy, when she first began her studies at University. But after she, what is the term they call it, 'wigged out', at the first sign that I was anything but a nonsexual being, I knew I could never confess to her.  She wouldn't handle it well, and with all of her 'man' troubles, seeing me, her one constant, her reliable friend and mentor, in that light, was the last thing she needed.

And yet, I grew still more attached to Buffy.  I tried to rationalize my feelings, that Sure, she is a beautiful young lady and I'm still virile. Like any man with eyes in the front of his head, and feeling below the belt, I was going to feel a measure of attraction towards her.  But my attraction to her went way beyond the physical.  How I've only wished that were all I could feel.  I've dated younger women before; I can deal with age differences.  But Buffy and I were never just a man and a woman.  I've been, for better or worse, her fill-in father for the past four years.  Our relationship was so strong, so molded within those dynamics, that even if feelings were to change, the situation between us simply can't.

Self-esteem has never been my strong suit, and I would never presume Buffy feels anything other than gratitude towards me.  But beyond that, I guess it just boils down to me not having the nerve to tell her.  And yet, that's all I think about on some days.  How could I tell her my feelings, how could I make her understand, my desire, if not return it?  At this point, sometimes I feel just to have her know would be enough.  And yet, I feel remorse for even having these thoughts, because she does not deserve for my burden to be thrust upon her. If I don't know how to deal with it, how could she? It is not her burden, not yet, not just so I could alleviate my conscience.  And yet, I also wonder if she has the right to know?  I certainly would wish to know if a person had such strong feelings toward me.  Maybe, she deserves to know.

And yet, I find myself crumpled here on the pavement, unable to speak, watching the very essence of life spiraling heavenward. All my thoughts are spinning along with it, until it's part of one blurry ectoplasmic swirl. The only thing I can clearly distinguish is your face, but when our eyes meet, I feel the love flowing between us.  Is it my imagination, or is it, in fact, mutual?  And yet, part of me wonders, does it really matter, now?  In this instant, I'm not wondering if your love is love in the same context as mine.   We both love each other in some capacity, both meaningful, and I tell myself, that is what matters in the end. And yet, as we're bathed in this ethereal cyclone of energy, I feel the only opportunity to tell you, I see life quite literally, passing us by.