AUTHOR: Ladyforash
SUMMARY: Giles can't stay away, but finds Buffy in a compromising situation upon his return.
SPOILERS: Season six, shortly after Smashed
DISCLAIMER:Nothing belongs to me. It all belongs to Joss, please don't sue.

Chapter 1

Giles just couldn't do it anymore. He couldn't look at the glazed expression on Buffy's face. He couldn't watch her go through the motions, existing, but no longer living. He couldn't bear the burden of knowing what Willow had taken from Buffy. Heaven. Peace. Rest. But mostly, he couldn't take his feelings anymore.

He knew they were not reciprocated. Perhaps at one time, they had a chance. That year before Glory had stolen his Buffy away. His Slayer. Before he'd told Buffy he'd sacrifice Dawn. Before...all of that pain. Perhaps if he had acted on his feelings, he would have had a chance to show her his love. But he'd been scared, so he hadn't. And now, it was too late.

He thought leaving would be the right thing. It would force Buffy to live again. It would make her at least recognize her responsibilities. But the pain in her eyes had stricken him to his very core.

Rupert Giles had returned to England, and then got right back on the plane again and flew back to Sunnydale. It was his home now. Buffy was his home now. He'd find a way to reach her. His love was strong enough, he reasoned. He'd just have to get past his own insecurities and fears to at least bring her back to living again.

It was night when his plane landed. He was tired and cranky from the long flight, and despondent about the way he'd left. He claimed to love her, and then he'd abandoned her like that? How could he do that! He berated himself again and again.

Buffy wasn't at home. He couldn't find her in the various cemeteries, so he didn't think she was patrolling. On a whim he stepped into the Bronze.

The club literally throbbed with music. It was almost erotic. In his Ripper days, he'd find some bird and show her a good time. The atmosphere screamed of passion and desire and need. The darkness was tempting. Giles immediately recognized what Buffy would be looking for there. It would be an escape from the harsh realities of the day. The blaring music would drown out everything. The pumping and throbbing from the speakers called to the basis of one's needs. It pulled you in and helped you forget for awhile. It poured into all the pain inside, and dulled the sharp edges.

He scanned the dance floor but didn't see her. Still, he knew she was there. He could almost feel her. Slowly he made his way up the stairs to the loft. He remembered when she'd first arrived here in Sunnydale. They'd leaned over the bars of this very balcony and looked down on the crowd. Buffy had said they were all lucky to not realize the danger that surrounded them at every twist and turn. Oblivion was kind in that way. What you didn't know couldn't hurt you, wasn't that what they said?

Giles was mulling that over when he came around a shadowed corner and saw a familiar shape. A leather jacket, and bleach blonde hair. Spike. Giles sighed. At least Spike could probably help him find Buffy. He was taking another step near the vampire when he realized what was going on. Spike's hips were moving...and not in time to the music. No, it was a rhythm as old as man. That's when he saw the petite blonde that Spike was surrounding. He heard the moan and saw the vampire's hips convulse. Disgusted, Giles turned to walk away when he heard the woman gasp. The sound of her voice sent shivers deep into the Watcher's soul. His head turned and that's when he saw them both in profile. It was Buffy. His Buffy. His Slayer. And it was Spike that was deep inside.

Later, when Giles wasn't overwhelmed with his own pain and despair and shock, he realized what was happening. Buffy was trying to escape. The pain was too much. The situation of her life and its circumstances was too much for her. Spike made her feel. He made her feel good in some small way, and that is what Buffy was addicted too. She didn't want to think about her reality. She didn't want to worry about her responsibilities, new and old. In some way, she didn't even want to live. She was fighting it in the only way she knew how, by degrading herself and doing things she never would have done.

But she was alive, and eventually she had to go on. Giles realized this, and blamed himself. If he hadn't turn and ran, maybe she would have come to him. At the very least, maybe he could have prevented her from turning to Spike just to feel something other then her pain. If Giles had known, he could have saved her from punishing herself. Instead, he was too lost in his own pain and despair. He had been so selfish! He was lost himself, how could he possibly find any way to help Buffy?

Giles must have made some small noise in the back of his throat when he saw that it was Buffy that was with Spike. He felt his knees go weak and he had to reach out and grab a bar on the railing to keep himself from falling. That's when Spike turned and his eyes met Giles'. But Spike didn't stop. No, he smiled, and his thrusts became harder. He was pressing his ownership, reveling in the Watcher's despair. The vampire had no thought of how Buffy felt, and how all of this effected her. He only thought of himself.

Buffy didn't say anything as Spike finished. She only shook with her own intense feelings. Her body shuddered, and Giles closed his eyes. His head bent and he gripped at the bar so tightly that his knuckles turned white.

Then Spike laughed. At the sound, Giles lifted his face and opened his eyes. In that moment, Buffy pulled away from Spike and looked up. She saw Giles, and a look of horror and shame splashed over her features. Spike continued to laugh, but neither Buffy nor Giles noticed.

Everyone else in the room vanished. The Bronze dropped away and the music faded. Buffy's eyes locked onto Giles.

Neither could breathe from the pain they were both in. It was several heartbeats later when Giles finally straightened up. Without a word, he turned and walked stiffly down the stairs, out of the Bronze, and into the night.

Chapter 2

Giles went to the Magic Box. He had no where else to go. He certainly was not returning to the Summer's residence, and his flat was now rented to someone else. Thankfully Anya hadn't changed the locks, he mused. He let himself into the back training room and flopped down onto the sofa.

Of course sleep did not come.

He looked like hell in the morning. Anya was shocked to see him at all, but even more so in his condition. He refused to talk about it, and for once she was wise enough not to press.

It was later that morning when the bell announced visitors. Giles looked up from the table where he was sitting, pretending to read a book, and saw Dawn and Buffy. He saw the look pass between the sisters. Buffy must have told Dawn that Giles was back, but he was sure she left out most of the intimate details.

The Watcher didn't even hear all that Dawn said. He saw her mouth moving, but he didn't hear the words. He did hear Buffy announce that she was going to train. Without another look at him, the Slayer slunk into the back training room and closed the door.

Silence reined in the shop. Anya cleared her throat. Dawn looked between the two owners, wondering what she should do now.

Giles sighed heavily and stood up. "Dawn, why don't you head home? I'm sure you have homework to do?"

Dawn looked like she was about to protest but then didn't. She nodded and smiled sadly at Giles. "You'll make sure she gets home okay?" It was strange, this reversal. Suddenly Dawn felt like she needed to take care of Buffy.

"I will," Giles said. He watched Dawn leave and then with a heavy heart he walked back to the training room. Slowly he opened the door and stepped inside, closing and locking the door behind him.

Buffy was standing in the middle of the room. He saw her stiffen when he entered, but other then that she didn't move. She didn't look up at him. She didn't turn away. She just stood there, with her shoulders slumped and her head down.

Giles could almost physically see the walls push up and thicken around the woman he loved. Yes, he loved her still. He needed to love her. He wanted to love her. At this moment, mostly...he wanted to help her. Pushing aside his own pain and need, Giles walked to Buffy.

Her face was tilting up then. He could tell by the look in her eyes and the set of her jaw that she was going to say something harsh. She wasn't going to do anything but defend herself and lash out to hurt him. Misery truly did love company. But Giles halted her when his arms went around her and he pulled her against his chest in a fierce hug.

No words passed. He held her until he could feel her body begin to relax, and then slump against him. She started to cry. The tears coursed down her cheeks and the sobs racked her body. Her grief was loud as well as deep. Her body became like a rag doll in his arms. His own knees became weak and he lowered both of them to the floor. He held her tightly as her anguish cries soaked his chest. Softly he murmured to her, whispering her name and consoling her. He kissed the top of her head. "I'm here, Buffy. I'm here..."

When she was exhausted the sobbing turned into sniffles and gasps. Still he held her. He had no idea how much time passed until she finally looked up at him. The wall was gone, but all that was left was an empty shell.

"I have an idea," he said softly. "There is a place I like to go sometimes..."

Buffy didn't protest. He took her home and waited while she packed a bag. His own suitcase rested beside hers in the trunk of a rental. As Giles drove, Buffy slept. They didn't speak a single word as he drove all evening and into the night.

When they reached their destination, Buffy was surprised to see a little cabin on the beach. Giles carried a suitcase in each hand and then set them down on the little porch to unlock the door. He didn't explain, but merely showed her to a bedroom.

She cleaned up and changed while he made a light supper for them in the kitchen. There was no small talk as they ate their chicken breasts and spinach salad, and sipped warm honey tea. She called Dawn while he did the dishes, and then they both went to their separate rooms for the rest of the night.

In the morning Giles was the first to wake up. He showered and changed and then put out some fruit and rolls and made some tea. He snagged a book with his breakfast tray and went out onto the back porch.

His breakfast went uneaten, although he did occasionally sip from his tea. The book sat in his lap, but most of the time he watched the waves of the ocean caress the sandy beach. The tide was going out, and it was as if the water captured all the grit of the Earth and washed it clean as it pulled it out to sea, only to redeposit it later, fresh and new.

Giles looked up as he heard the squeak of the screen door. Buffy emerged. Her hair was tied up in a little bun on her head and she wore a pale yellow sweatshirt and jeans. Her feet were bare, and she had a cup of tea in her hands. She stood for a moment and took in the beauty of the morning, and then sunk into a chair opposite Giles.

"How are you feeling?" he finally asked. He'd closed his book and now clasped his hands in his lap.

"Tired," Buffy admitted. "Which is kinda weird since all I've done lately is sleep."

"Not at all," Giles explained softly. "Your body is healing and you've been under a terrible stress and strain lately. You're exhausted."

Silence fell once again. Between them there was so much that needed to be said. Explanations, declarations, rage, pain, sorrow...but nothing would come.

Finally Giles cleared his throat and Buffy looked at him. She waited, almost bracing herself for whatever he was about to say, knowing she deserved his anger and more.

Giles took a deep breath. "I love you," he whispered.

Buffy was surprised at his words at first. She hadn't been expecting him to say that. She swallowed and looked down at the tea in her cup which she held with both hands. "I know," she said softly.

But she didn't know. Not completely, and Giles was resigned to that fact. She thought he meant like Travers had said, "A father's love." But it was so much more then that. It was the kind of love that was so painful for him, that he ached all the time. It made him toss and turn at night because he couldn't hold her close, the emptiness and loss in his heart and soul assaulted him as soon as his eyes opened in the morning. If only she could see it, and know it, and return it...all would be replaced with joy and peace and a completeness that could only be found when you were with your other half.

"So you come here sometimes?" Buffy asked to distract them. She wasn't ready to face things quite yet. The tactic worked for the moment.

"Yes. I bought it a few years back. Sometimes I stayed here over the weekend or summer weeks to recharge," Giles explained. He'd already decided to come here after finding Buffy at the Bronze, but bringing her here to his private retreat seemed like the right thing to do yesterday morning.

"And it comes with a stocked kitchen?" Buffy teased. "Neat!" But the teasing never reached her eyes or her face. It was as fake as the smile she tried to give him.

"I phoned the landlord that watches it for me. She made sure it was clean and did some grocery shopping for me. I rent the place out for extra income when I'm not here," Giles answered.

He finished his tea and set the now empty mug down on the table. "I think I'll go for a walk." Without another word he stood and headed down the walk to the beach.

Buffy watched him go with a lump in her throat. She was surprised when he didn't ask her to join him. He'd just gotten up and left her there. It sort of upset her. But as she watched him walking with stooped shoulders, his hands pressed far down into the pockets of his slacks and his pant legs rolled up to just under his knees with his bare feet in the sand, Buffy understood his need.

Giles moved close to the wet sand, near where the waves fell and receded. He was at such a profound loss of words where Buffy was concerned that he had to move away for a bit and gather his thoughts. He was intent on helping her, and not making the situation about him. Yes, he loved her. Yes, she'd hurt him terribly, but he knew she was hurting herself worse. This wasn't about him. Retorting with angry and hurt words would not be healing for either one of them. It might make him feel better for a moment, to release the anger and bitterness inside, but in the end it would solve nothing. Logically he knew that, but emotionally he was hurting so bad it was hard to breathe.

He couldn't stop seeing them together. Spike and Buffy. His mind twisted the encounter into one of more passion and pleasure for Buffy then it had been. He knew her body had responded, but her heart hadn't. Yet in his mind, she'd smiled at Spike. It was just as if Willow's spell had kicked in again, and Buffy was cooing and giggling as Spike pounded into her.

Giles curled his fists into the pockets of his pants. He shook his head and tried to let the beach breeze clear the images from his mind. It hadn't been quite that way.

Still, Buffy had yet to apologize. What should she actually apologize for, however? "Sorry I don't love you, Giles?" "Sorry it wasn't you, Giles?" "Sorry I came back but I'm not me, Giles?" It wasn't her fault. She'd been in heaven, after all. How could anyone cope after being snatched back to the pain and despair of Earth?

The thing was, part of Giles wished it had been him. Even if it was wrong, at least he'd get to touch her. He'd get to feel her, push into her, become one with her. He'd finally get the joy of loving her. But would it be a hollow love if she didn't return him? She'd just be using him to feel, instead of Spike, and that's not what Giles wanted. A little voice inside kept saying that would be better then nothing...he didn't mind if she used him. He loved her. But the mature and responsible, logical man inside knew that would ultimately destroy them both.

The Watcher had to figure out where they went from here. He had to salvage what he could of the old Buffy. He knew he had to help her find her strength and confidence once again. But how?

Chapter 3

It was almost noon when Giles returned to the small little cabin. His feet had carried him far down the beach while he was lost in thought. When he returned, he found that Buffy had moved back to her room and was sleeping once again. He watched her from the doorway for a moment. He was glad she was getting rest. Exhaustion was never helpful and could harm you in more ways then one.

He fixed himself a light lunch and sat down to read. He also called his favorite little Bistro in the village and made reservations for dinner that night. He thought Buffy might like that.

It was getting close to the dinner hour when Giles first heard her. She was crying out in her sleep. He put his book down and went over to the door. It was still open a crack. " me out. Let me out!"

Giles opened the door and went over to the bed. He sat down and gently put his hands on her shoulders. "Buffy. Buffy, wake up. It's only a nightmare."

Buffy immediately opened her eyes. For a moment, he saw the horror reflected there before she realized where she was. Her body relaxed.

"Sorry," she mumbled. "Bad nightmare. I get them sometimes."

"Do you want to talk about it?" Giles asked gently. His hands were still on her shoulders.

Buffy shrugged. "Not really. Just the same thing over and over. I'm in a box and I can't get out. It's dark. Climbing out of my coffin..."

Giles' expression was sympathetic. He moved to hug her gently. "That must be terrible, Buffy. I'm so sorry."

For a moment Buffy was stiff in his embrace. Then she hugged him back, hard. Then, to Giles' surprise, she was kissing him. Her hands were on the back of his head and her mouth was grinding against his. At first, without thinking, he responded. His mouth opened against her probing tongue. His body reacted and she could feel his arousal against her leg. That just spurred her on.

Then something inside Giles clicked and his senses came back to him. He pulled away. "No,"

Buffy grunted when his mouth came free and she glared at him. "Don't you want me?" She moved her leg against him. "I can tell you do..."

Giles let out a sigh of frustration. "I've wanted you for a long time now, but not like this!"

"Why not? It's just sex!" Buffy moved closer once again but Giles pulled away, anger flashing on his face.

"Precisely! I won't be a replacement for Spike!" Giles stood up so fast that Buffy almost fell off the bed. He looked at her with a hard expression upon his face that was unreadable except for the torment he felt. His hands clenched at his sides. Did he want her? God yes, he wanted her, but not like this.

Buffy just gaped at him for a moment. His expression softened. "Buffy, I love you too much for that." He took another step away from her and ran his hands through his hair. "I made reservations for dinner. Why don't you get changed and then we'll go. You missed lunch and should eat something." Then he turned on his heels and left the room.

While Buffy got ready, Giles went into his own room. He scrubbed his face with cold water. Inside, he was seething. His body was still responding to her kiss. His desire for her was just as strong as ever, maybe even more so. But he couldn't be that for her. Anything but that.

He changed into a button down black shirt and khaki pants and waited for her out on the porch. When she came outside he noted her eyes were red and swollen from crying, but otherwise she looked beautiful. She'd changed into an ivory colored sweater and jeans. "You look lovely," he said gently.

Buffy could barely look at him. "Thanks," she said softly.

"We can walk to the Bistro from here." Giles started down the sidewalk and Buffy soon joined him by his side. They walked in silence the few blocks to the little Bistro. Giles commented that this was his favorite place and he ate there a lot when he'd stay at the beach. The hostess seemed to recognize him and showed him to a little table in the corner near the back. It was quaint and quiet and cozy.

Buffy watched him from over the top of her menu. He was struggling to make small talk but she wasn't really responding. He seemed not to worry about it, providing her with a little commentary about the village and surrounding areas.

When the waitress arrived, Buffy ordered a shrimp salad and Giles ordered a lemon chicken dish. They were both sipping on their water when Buffy finally looked up and made eye contact with him.

He waited to see what she was going to say. He could tell that she was struggling with something. He saw her take a deep breath as she made her decision to speak.

"Did you mean it?" Buffy asked softly. "Do you really love me like that?"

They both knew what she meant by 'like that'.

Giles searched her face. He saw her wariness, and her wonder. Her hand was resting on the table and he slowly reached out and covered her fingers with his own, squeezing them gently. "More then."

"More then," Giles said gently. He didn't take his eyes off her face and his fingers were now entwined with hers.

Buffy was the first to break eye contact. She bowed her head and looked at his fingers in hers. Slowly he rubbed his skin against hers, his fingertip over a knuckle, between her fingers, across her fingertips. They were all healed now. Giles just wished that the heart, soul, and mind could heal just as quickly. It seemed Slayer healing wasn't as complete as it should be.

"But you don't want to sleep with me?" Buffy asked again, her head still bent.

Giles' mouth quirked in one corner. His fingers tightened around hers. "More then anything, I want that. I want you. I've desired you since..." he blushed and bent his own head.

Buffy looked up. "Since when?"

Giles looked uncomfortable. If his hand hadn't been in hers he'd have been furiously polishing his glasses right now. "Since your 18th birthday," he finally said.

Buffy blinked. She heard Travers say, 'A father's love...' Now Buffy understood a lot more.

"What you wanted back there," Giles tried to explain, "was not love, Buffy. It was an escape. A release. Sometimes that can be healing and needed, I agree." He saw that she was going to interrupt him so he slowly shook his head and held up his other hand. "Please, let me try and explain." He saw her throat work around a swallow and then she nodded, letting him continue.

"You can't run away from difficulties, Buffy. Not this. You can't always escape. Sometimes that makes things worse. It's just going to magnify the issues,'ll lose yourself, forever. You'll lose everyone that loves you and needs you as well." Giles moved his other hand to hers so that now both of his hands held her one small, tiny, hand. A hand that had such strength at times. "I can't lose you, Buffy, and I certainly don't want to contribute to your pain. Believe me, I wasn't rejecting you. I'm not rejecting you. I just...want it to be more, and I want it to be right for the both of us."

Buffy felt tears in her eyes. "How can you want me? After what I did? After what you saw? How can you forgive me? How can you even look at me, let alone love me?"

"I'll admit, I'm hurting," he said softly. "But I know that wasn't you. Not my Buffy. You're lost, and I want to help bring you back, not push you further into the darkness. This isn't about what I want or need right now. I just want what's best for you."

"You're wrong." She pulled her hand away. "That was me. This is me. You need to know the truth. You say you love me, but this is me. Now. Here. I am in the darkness. I'm...buried in all this. I don't want to be here, Giles. Not again. There's too much pain. I can't do this again, don't you see?"

The waitress chose that moment to bring their meals. Giles and Buffy were silent. Neither moved towards their food but Buffy took a drink of her water until the waitress left.

Giles picked up his fork and sighed. He knew words could not make things right. There was nothing he could say that would make her see. It was just a process she'd have to go through. She had to wander through the darkness for awhile to get out at the other side. And when she emerged, he'd be there. He could be here now, holding her in the darkness, keeping her safe the only way he knew how.

"I'm not going anywhere, Buffy," he finally said. "I'll help you. You can do this. Isn't that what you told Dawn? Hm? The hardest thing to do in this world is to live in it? That's what she told me you said. I won't let you give up, Buffy. I'll catch you when you fall. I'll hold you in the darkness. You can cry and you can scream and you can rage, but I'll still be here loving you."

Chapter 4

Buffy and Giles worked on finishing their meals in silence. Both really just picked at their food, lost in their own thoughts.

Giles tried not to be selfish, but he couldn't help the thoughts that crept in as he watched Buffy playing with her food. Why couldn't she see how much he loved her, and how important she was to him? How come she couldn't grasp that? And if she come it didn't matter? Did Giles not matter at all to her, after all this time? Did none of them? It made him so frustrated and angry that he wanted to leap out of his chair, grab her by the shoulders, and shake her. She was wallowing do deeply in her own misery that she didn't even see what she was doing to everyone else. Giles was so worried about her that his every thought was of her, how to help her, how to bring a smile to her face, how to guide her into finding herself again. Just to see her smile. If he lost her forever once again, he didn't know how he'd survive. Then he'd berate himself for being selfish once again. God, they were all so selfish that they'd pulled Buffy out of her own grave. What was wrong with them?

He paid the bill and held the boxes of their uneaten food. They walked back to the beach house with heavy hearts, the silence oppressing rather then comforting.

Giles put the box of leftovers in the fridge and came out of the kitchen to see Buffy standing in the middle of the living room. She tilted her head at Giles. "No TV?"

"No," Giles said softly. "I usually do some reading in the evenings."

Buffy sighed. "Don't you ever not research?"

Giles had to smile a little at that. "I actually read for pleasure every once in awhile."

Buffy snorted. "When don't you."

"Well, I suppose that is true. I do find research pleasurable," Giles agreed, "but sometimes I read for no other purpose then to lose myself in a good story." He went over to the book shelf and pulled out one of his favorite books, Excalibur. It was the story of King Arthur and his sword, and the Knights of the Round Table. "Here, sit down. Let me read to you."

Buffy wasn't sure about it, but figured she had nothing else to do. She kicked off her shoes and sat down on the sofa with her feet curled beneath her. Giles sat next to her and opened the book. Soon they were both lost in the epic battle of good versus evil, Merlin and magic, and a deep though anguished love story between the King and Queen and Sir Lancelot.

When Giles read out loud to her, he put everything into the words. It was more then words on a page. His voice resonated and brought the characters to life. Buffy was in awe, and time flew by.

It was very late when Giles felt Buffy's head against his shoulder. Her breathing was easy and deep, and he realized she was asleep. He marked the page with an old leather bookmark and closed the book, setting it on the coffee table. Then he shifted so Buffy's head was against his chest. He put his feet up on the table and took off his glasses. Holding her close, he closed his own eyes.

Sleep didn't come for him however. He couldn't stop worrying about her enough to get his own rest.

It wasn't long before he felt her body twitch. She groaned a little, and then whimpered. Another nightmare had stricken her. He kissed the top of her head and whispered, "It's okay. I'm here, Buffy. It's only a nightmare." His arms tightened around her and she slowly woke up at the sound of his soothing voice. He'd brought her out of it before it had gone too far. Still, she was shaking. He could see the terror and despair in her eyes. Slowly he stood up and cradled her against his chest. He carried her into her bedroom and lowered her onto the bed. He tucked her in and turned to go when he heard her voice. "Stay? Please...just...hold me?"

There was no way he could refuse. Nodding, he laid down behind her and pressed his chest against her back, his arms drawing her close. His legs were tucked up behind her knees and he once again kissed the top of her head. "Sleep, Buffy. I've got you, love."

Buffy slept, and for once, she didn't dream.

He held her all night, listening to her breathe. She had no idea how frightened he was. It tore him up inside and chilled him to his very core. There was nothing worse in the world then feeling so helpless and watching someone you love hurt so much. It was as if she was standing on that tower again, ready to jump, and all he could do was watch her fall.

Chapter 5

"Buffy?" Giles carried a tray into her room and woke her gently. She rubbed at her tired eyes, saw him with a plate of pancakes, and smiled a little, pushing herself up to sit back against the head board.

"You made breakfast?" Buffy said with wide eyes.

Giles smiled and nodded, placing the tray over her waist on the bed. "Yes, and you're going to clean your plate and then get dressed so we can do some training on the beach." Giles thought some normal Slayer/Watcher activities might be helpful.

Buffy gave him a little salute and picked up her fork. He sat down with a cup of tea and told her he'd already eaten while she'd slept in. It wasn't that late, and he was glad she'd rested.

"Thank you for last night," Buffy said softly. After her nightmare, she'd slept really well as Giles held her.

Giles blushed a little and nodded. "It was my pleasure," he said gently.

"Did you sleep at all?" she asked, shoveling a fork full of pancakes into her mouth.

Giles tilted his head and studied her face as he answered. "No, but I rarely do when my Slayer needs me or is hurting," he answered carefully. Even before all these recent events, and Buffy's death, Giles had spent many sleepless nights either worrying about Buffy, or aching in need and desire for her. He was used to not getting a lot of sleep.

Buffy caught his look and this time it was her turn to blush. It was something about his expression that caught her off guard. It was more then the Watcher in him admonishing the Slayer in her. She always knew he cared about her, and she'd always cared about him. But the look he was giving her was something new and unguarded. Time seemed to stop for a moment as they regarded one another, Buffy in wonder, and Giles in honesty.

"Are you finished?" he asked, shattering the moment. Buffy blinked and then nodded.

"Alright," he said, standing up and picking up the tray. "I'll take these into the kitchen while you get dressed. I'll meet you out back on the beach in fifteen minutes."

"Fifteen minutes?!" she croaked. "I can't get ready that soon!"

"Of course you can," he answered. "It's just you and me and the ocean. Throw on some sweats. There are no Prince Charmings that you have to impress. No fancy shoes to buy."

Before she could argue, he was out of the room. She snorted and got out of the bed, grumbling as she went to her suitcase.

It was twenty minutes later when Buffy emerged from the house. She was wearing gray sweat pants and a white tank top, with her blonde hair pulled back in a pony tail. No shoes or socks graced her feet.

Giles merely nodded at her. He was dressed similarly in blue sweat pants and a black t-shirt, and also bare feet. The sand was warm but not too hot, and there was a slight breeze in the beach air. It was another beautiful morning. "Let's work on our hand to hand," he instructed.

"You're way too mechanical, Buffy," he groused at her a bit later. She really was just acting and reacting instead of feeling and using her instincts or that competitive streak he knew she possessed. After a few more minutes of the same exercise in futility, Giles made a quick move and swept her feet out from under her. She fell flat onto her back in the sand with a look of sheer astonishment on her face.

Giles placed his hands on his hips and looked down at her, his head blocking the sun. His shadow fell over her and hid his face. "See? Come on, Buffy. This isn't"

But he didn't finish. Buffy had reached over and grabbed him by the ankle, quickly flipping him to the ground. Now he was the one surprised. She quickly rolled over and pinned him to the sand, a small look of triumph on her face. "What was that you were saying, Watcher mine?"

She was leaning over him with a little smile on her face. Giles was breathing hard from the fall, and his heart gave a little leap when she'd called him, 'Watcher mine.' It had been so long since she'd called him that, and so long since he'd seen her genuine smile like she wore on her face now.

He wasn't ready to quit, however. He bucked his hips and rolled her over. She squealed and rolled him again. Each worked hard at pinning the other one. Finally Buffy exerted some real Slayer strength and ended up back on top. Her legs straddled his hips and her hands pushed down on his wrists, holding his arms down into the sand. She gave him a wide smile once he stopped struggling and gave up.

Giles groaned and flopped his head back into the sand. "Lord, I have sand everywhere."

Buffy giggled. "Me too. Even in places I shouldn't mention."

Giles snorted and raised an eyebrow at her. Then, in one quick motion, he stood up with her still straddling his hips. She started laughing before she realized what he was doing. By the time he flung her into the ocean she was starting to protest, but the cold ocean waves drowned her cries and giggles away. She came up sputtering and Giles laughed. "Is that any better?"

Buffy gave him a dirty look and then stood up in the water. "No. Now the sand is just wet in all those unmentionable places!"

That caused Giles to laugh even more. Then Buffy was laughing with him. Without thinking he pulled her into his arms as another small wave hit. Her arms encircled his neck as she once again found herself straddling his hips as he held her in the ocean.

When their giggles began to subside, Buffy leaned back so she could look at him. He looked younger without his glasses, she noted. And Giles thought Buffy was so beautiful. For once she seemed as if she'd left her troubles behind. He could see a glint of the old Buffy in her features. His eyes caught hers and they held another long look.

Slowly Buffy moved her hands from around his neck to rest on either side of his face. She studied him closely. His eyes darkened as he looked back at her. He was afraid to breathe. He didn't want to scare her off, but he wasn't sure if this was wise either. He didn't want a repeat of the other afternoon. What did she see as she looked at him, he wondered? Old and gross? Spike? An escape? Or something...more?

He saw her swallow and her tongue slipped out to wet the corner of her mouth. He groaned softly. He couldn't help himself. Something flickered in Buffy's eyes and then he found her soft lips against his.

This kiss was different. Soft. Gentle. An exploration of her velvet lips against his. She demanded nothing, and he gave nothing. Yet he didn't pull back either. He just waited, torn between his own chaotic emotions and logic, on the precipice between what they both wanted, and what they both needed.

When he felt the moist pressure of her tongue pressing between his lips, he groaned once again, and opened to her. Slowly she stroked his tongue with her own. Her legs tightened around him as his body began to respond. Just when he thought he couldn't take anymore, she pulled back, but not away. "Buffy," he whispered. "We shouldn't..." but she put her finger onto his lips to keep him from speaking.

"Shhh, Giles. It's okay." She moved her forehead against his. "I know. I know."

He held her close as the waves gently lapped against their warmed skin, and hope began to flourish.

Giles and Buffy returned to the house to shower and change for lunch. They were quiet as they ate their leftovers from the night before, along with a pot of tea. Unlike the silence from last night, however, it wasn't stressful or oppressive. It was thoughtful and contemplative on both their parts. Buffy even offered to help clean up.

They retreated into the living room after lunch. Giles was debating on going for a walk when Buffy surprised him.

"Giles? Can I talk to you?" She looked almost nervous as she stood there in the center of the room.

"Of course," he said gently. He sat down on the sofa and looked up at her.

She paced for a moment. He was patient and waited for her to figure out how to begin. Finally her shoulders sagged a little and she joined him on the sofa. She sat close to him, their knees not quite touching.

"How are you feeling?" Giles prompted her gently.

Buffy clasped her hands in her lap and took a deep breath. "How about if I start with telling you how I felt? Before..." Her hands clenched in her lap for a moment and then she continued at Giles' patient nod.

"Back home, I felt like going into the kitchen of the house and pulling out all of the dishes from the cabinets, and hurling them down onto the linoleum floor to watch them smash into a million pieces. I felt like standing in the middle of a busy highway and screaming at the top of my lungs, daring cars to hit me. I felt like running as far as I could, as fast as I could until my legs gave out and my body screamed for mercy, and then screaming some more. I felt helpless. I felt angry. I felt frustrated. I felt...sad. So sad, and nothing would make it go away. I couldn't run, I couldn't hide, I could only try and pretend. I felt like if I was wild and reckless then you'd all abandon me and I could fall away into oblivion once more."

Buffy took a deep breath. "Part of me is missing, Giles. It's like a vampire came and bit out this huge chunk of my insides, and I can't get it back. I can't get me back. Not all of me." Slowly she turned and looked at him. "But I want to try. Please, Giles. I'm so tired. I feel like I swam a hundred miles, and my body is so wore out that I can't climb out of the pool. Will you help me? Please... Giles, will you help pull me out?"

Giles felt tears in his eyes. He moved his hand over to cover both of hers. "Always," he whispered.

Buffy moved her fingers so they curled around his. "So what do we do now? Where do we go from here?"

"We go home. We get back to our daily lives, only this time we don't shut each other out."

Buffy turned her head and looked at him. "You're supposed to be in England now. Why did you come back?"

"Because this is where I belong. I couldn't leave you, Buffy. Being with you is where I'm supposed to be. Without you...there is a piece of me missing as well."

"Even after what you found when you came back?" Buffy's own eyes were heavy with tears.

Giles lifted his free hand to her face and with a finger brushed one stray tear away from her cheek. "Sometimes when we hurt so much, all we can do is punish ourselves even more. We hurt the ones we love in turn, even when we don't mean too. We take them for granted, or we lash out at them just to feel release or so that we aren't alone in our grief." He cupped her cheek gently. "I've done things I regret. We all have. It took a long time for me to forgive myself. You actually helped me with that."

"You're talking about Eyghon, aren't you?" Buffy asked softly.

"That among other things," he said with a gentle little smile.

"I didn't mean to hurt you," she whispered, trying to make him understand. "I didn't know about me like you do."

Giles moved his hand down to her shoulder and his jaw clenched for a moment. "Does it matter?" he finally asked.

Buffy kept her eyes on his. "Of course it matters," she said urgently. "You matter to me more then anybody. That's why it hurt so much when I thought you left. That's why I turned to Spike."

Giles flinched at that but Buffy hastened to reassure him. "No, I mean, I would have done something bad anyways, because...because I think I had to go through the badness to find..." her eyes cleared for a moment and then she continued, "To find you on the other side. I realized that I care about you too. To realize is worth living."

Giles took a deep breath and then gently rubbed her shoulder before pulling back again. "I'm not sure what is right," he finally told her.

Surprisingly, Buffy didn't pull away. She smiled softly at him. "Call the record books, that's a first," she teased. "How about if we just agree to take things slow for now. I know that things aren't normal yet. We're here alone and things have been intense."

"That's true," Giles agreed with a nod. "Perhaps we should go back to Sunnydale and see how you feel then?" Maybe things would progress, or maybe they wouldn't. Honestly, Giles was just so relieved that Buffy seemed to be coming back to herself that her returning his love didn't matter as much to him anymore. In the end, her finding hope and having that light in her eyes again...that's what mattered most.

"Okay," Buffy said after a moment. "But can we wait until tomorrow? I want you to finish that book first." At her smile Giles chuckled and wrapped her in his arms. He vowed to himself to never let her get lost again. He was going to hold on to her for as long as she let him.

Chapter 6

Giles pulled into Buffy's driveway and turned off the car with a sigh. Neither made a move to exit the vehicle. It was evening. Both had decided to take their time heading back to Sunnydale. Giles was trying to show his confidence and pride in Buffy, but inside he was concerned. The retreat had been fruitful and Buffy had made real progress, as well as had their relationship. She knew his feelings now, or at least was beginning to understand. But now they were back in Sunnydale, the scene of the crime, and the place of pain. The Hellmouth was aptly named, after all.

"Home sweet home," Buffy muttered. Then she looked over at Giles. "I guess this is where the test really starts."

Giles smiled softly at her. "You'll do fine, and I'll be here if you need me."

Buffy gave him a grateful little smile and then opened her door. Giles extricated himself from the car and wrinkled his nose. What was that smell? He turned to peer over his shoulder and saw Spike. He was leaning against the tree beneath Buffy's bedroom window with a cigarette in his hand. The smoke is what had caught Giles' attention. The ground beneath Spike's feet was littered with cigarette butts, evidence that Spike had been there awhile, perhaps night after night.

The vampire sneered at Giles. "About time you two came home." He pushed himself off of the tree and took a step towards the car. He smiled at Buffy. "Miss me, pet?"

Giles clenched his hands at his sides. "Leave off, Spike!" Just seeing the vampire again brought his temper to a boiling point. He knew Buffy would have to face the vampire eventually, but so soon?

"Oh, jealous are you?" Spike laughed but stopped when he saw the look on Buffy's face. It was a tired expression. She barely looked at him when she asked, "What do you want, Spike?"

"You know what I want, pet." Spike leered at her once again. Before Buffy could comment Giles was there. In two quick strides he reached the vampire and punched him in the jaw. Spike, more surprised then hurt, fell flat on his back.

"Giles!" Buffy ran over to the vampire but hesitated in helping him up.

Giles turned to look at Buffy. He was hurt that in even that small way, in the way she'd said his name, Giles knew she wasn't over Spike. Maybe she never would be.

Spike started to laugh and rubbed his jaw as he sat up. "Not bad for a ponce Watcher."

"Shut up, Spike," Buffy retorted. She saw the hurt look on Giles' face but was torn on what to do about it.

"I'm only here doing my job," the vampire said. He stood up and brushed his pants off.

Giles went over to the car and opened the trunk to get out Buffy's bags. The emptiness that was crowding inside his heart was doing battle with the anger and jealousy. He tried not to look at the two of them. It hurt too much. But he couldn't help over hearing.

"What job?" Buffy asked, confused. She crossed her arms over her chest and glared at Spike.

"Watchin' the Little Bit." Spike sighed and lit another cigarette. "I was beginning to wonder if you were going to get home before it was too late."

"Dawn? What's wrong? Where is she?" Buffy started to panic and Giles slammed the trunk on the car and came back over to stand by her side. The Watcher was aiming to punch Spike again if he didn't explain soon, but Spike held up his hand.

"She's with Red. I followed them, but...I could only go so far."

Buffy's frown deepened. "What are you talking about? She's with Willow? Why would that be a bad thing?"

"Because Red is addicted to the magics, and she went to visit her pimp." Spike actually looked a little worried himself.

"Pimp?" Giles asked.

"Yeah, his name's Rack. Big bad. He's been providing Willow with a magical high now for awhile, and when you both were gone, Willow had to take Dawn with her." Spike flicked his half smoked cigarette to knock the ashes onto the ground.

"What?!" Buffy shouted. "She took Dawn? What the hell is she thinking?!"

"Obviously she's not," Giles groused. He could see the expression on Spike's face. Maybe a part of him was worried about Dawn, but Giles could tell that the vampire was more interested in getting back into Buffy's good graces. Or more accurately, in her pants. Giles turned away from both of them and headed back to the car. "Come on, Buffy. We'll find her."

Buffy didn't hesitate. She grabbed up the bags and threw them back in the trunk and headed into the car.

"Wait," Spike started. "I can help!" But the vampire's words were drowned out by the sound of the engine. Giles gunned it once and then screeched out of the driveway.

Buffy nervously glanced at Giles. "Do you know where to go?"

Giles was quiet for a moment. "Not exactly, but I can find them. I've never heard of Rack, but I know of others like him. There will be a hidden door. Once I find that door, we'll find them." He turned to look at Buffy. "Don't worry, Buffy. We'll find them." He didn't voice his worry on whether or not both Dawn and Willow would be okay, however. Obviously Willow was far from it. He just hoped that Dawn hadn't been pulled into anything or exposed to any danger.

"It's not all his fault, you know," Buffy said softly.

Giles was forced to stop at a busy intersection and sneaked a glance at her. He knew she was referring to Spike. "He took advantage of you in a time where you were most vulnerable. That's unconscionable."

"But I took advantage of him too," Buffy whispered. "You know how the Council views the Slayer as just a tool? That's what Spike was to me, Giles. He was just a tool that I used so I could feel...something. Feel anything. I know that now."

The light turned green and Giles quickly sped off again. "Buffy..." Giles swallowed and quickly gave her another glance. "You're amazing, you know that?"

Buffy looked up and smiled a little as she looked at him.

"Don't worry, we'll find Dawn." He moved to hold her hand, keeping one hand tightly on the steering wheel. Once Dawn and Willow were home safe and sound, he and Buffy could talk about this revelation more. If he wasn't so worried about them and this Rack fellow, he might even have smiled a little.

They had parked the car downtown and were now walking in the poorer district. Not that Sunnydale had a lot of 'districts,' but if one considered real life crime, this part of town would be on the top of the list. "There," Giles whispered. "I see the doorway."

"Where?" Buffy strained her neck but she didn't see anything. Giles reached out and took her hand, letting a little of his magic flow out to her. Just to the right, Buffy could then see what he was talking about. The air seemed to shimmer slightly, reality shifting. It was a doorway. Buffy let go of Giles' hand and stepped in front of him. "If Dawn is hurt in any way..."

Giles reached over and gently squeezed Buffy's shoulder. "Be careful."

Buffy nodded and they both stepped into the room.

It was a waiting area and Dawn saw them enter immediately. She leapt up from a chair. "Buffy! Thank God you're here!" She ran over and the sisters hugged each other.

"Dawn, are you okay? Where is Willow?" Buffy leaned down to look into her scared sister's face.

"I'm okay, just really scared. Willow went in there and I haven't heard or seen anything since. I've been waiting here forever!" Dawn sniffed and then saw the hard expression on Buffy's face.

Buffy let go of her sister and looked up at Giles. "Take care of her, Giles. I'll get Willow." Giles nodded and placed his hand around Dawn's arm. The girl didn't protest.

The door looked imposing, but it only took one fierce kick from Buffy and it blew inward, falling off of its hinges. Giles couldn't help but peer over Dawn's shoulder. He gasped at what he saw.

Willow was on the ceiling, her back tightly pressed against the high wall. There was a blank expression in her eyes. Her mouth was open as if she was moaning. Her red hair was black, flowing outwards into the air.

Lying on the floor on his back was Rack. He was singing something about strawberries and stroking himself. Giles pulled Dawn back and away, turning her so she couldn't see inside the room.

As the door imploded, Rack turned his head. His eyes widened when he saw the Slayer. He smiled and opened his mouth to retort something, but it was too late. Buffy had taken a sword out of the car before arriving, and she now held it aloft over her head. In one smooth stroke she brought it down. Her target was Rack's neck, and his head was severed in one quick motion. Giles shouted and then hurried into the room with his arms outstretched. Willow's body fell from the ceiling and Giles caught her in his arms.

The confrontation was over just like that. Willow was unconscious. Giles held her in his arms and Buffy took Dawn by the arm and they hurried back to the car. The Watcher eased Willow into the back seat and Buffy took the rear with her friend, holding her head in her lap.

Dawn got into the passenger seat and she turned to say something but Buffy held up her hand, cutting her off. "We'll talk later."

Tara met them at the front door. Giles carried Willow upstairs and laid her down on the bed. Then he left and called Xander and Anya. They came over and took Dawn for the night. Buffy and Tara were doing all they could to care for Willow. Giles made one more overseas phone call. He was looking out the window when something in the lawn caught his eye. He frowned and then hung up the phone and then went out into the garage. He grabbed a broom and a dustpan from the closet and then went outside and over to the tree. Quickly and efficiently he swept up the butts. His movements were a bit stiff and jerky. Where Spike was concerned, he couldn't get past his emotions of bitterness, anger, and pain.

He heard the front door close but didn't turn around. One cigarette butt was being darn right pesky, eluding his attempts with the broom. Finally the straw brush grabbed the butt and he swept it into the pan.

"Giles?" Buffy asked. She stood behind him, peering over his shoulder but he wouldn't turn around.

"I had to clean up this mess," he finally replied.

"I saw you from the window," Buffy acknowledged. "Here, put this under the tree."

Giles turned to find Buffy holding a stake in her hand. Attached to the top was a little sign. "No Smoking." It was also drenched, dripping with what looked like water. He looked up at Buffy with an expression of surprise and astonishment.

One corner of Buffy's mouth quirked up into a smile. "Holy Water. I figured that would at least slow him down in getting rid of the sign."

Giles grinned as he took the home made sign from her. He stabbed it into the ground beneath the tree. "Perfect," he said. He moved the broom into his other hand and turned around to walk back to the house with Buffy. "How is Willow?" Giles asked.

"She's sleeping now," Buffy said. "Tara is with her. I'm sure she'll make sure Willow stays put and is okay. I think that was part of the reason Willow wigged. She needed attention. Well, she's going to get it now." Buffy was still beyond miffed at her friend, especially for including Dawn.

Giles chuckled softly. He wondered if Buffy realized what she had said about doing things you regret later, just for the attention.

They entered the house and Giles put the broom and dustpan away before sinking into the sofa next to his Slayer. "I think I know of some people that can help her." Giles glanced at Buffy. "There is a coven in England. Bath, actually. I think I should take her there." Giles felt responsible in some way. He should have known better where magic was concerned. Hadn't he learned from his own mistakes? That knowledge should have helped him recognize the signs in Willow.

Buffy was quiet for a moment, but then she nodded. "When will you go?"

"In the morning. I've already phoned them." Giles swallowed and looked over at her. "I don't want to leave you though. Would you want to come with us?"

Buffy smiled softly and moved closer to him. "You'll be busy with Willow. I know. She needs you now, I think. And...I think I should stay here. I need to be strong. You were right before. I was leaning on you too much. I don't want you to be my crutch anymore."

Giles moved his hands to her waist and gently lifted her, placing her on his lap. "Do you have any idea how proud I am of you?"

Buffy smiled again. "I won't lie, it will be hard while you're away, but I think it will be good for me. Besides, Dawn needs me here too. You go and take care of Willow. I don't want you to worry about me. You're not my crutch, Giles. You' partner."

Giles moved his hands up to cup her face. His fingers slowly ran over her cheeks, chin, and eyebrows. His eyes drank her in. "Buffy..." In such a short time he knew his Buffy had changed. His Buffy was slowly coming back.

Slowly Buffy leaned down and brushed her soft lips against his. Giles whimpered and moved his hands to the back of her head. He deepened the kiss, pouring all of his emotion into it. For once, he didn't hold back, and Buffy met his passion with her own.

It didn't take long before Giles was mightily aroused. He knew she could feel his throbbing hardness between her legs. It was taking all of his self control to not arch upwards into her. He knew it was too soon. Still, if she pressed, he'd be lost. Part of him wanted her to press. Please...please press it...

Buffy broke the kiss first. She moved her arms around him and hugged him tightly. Her lower body was still against his, but she didn't move. Soon he felt her body start to relax. Then he felt her hot breath on his ear, and she whispered, "Come home to me soon." Then there was a rush of cool air as her body left his. He watched her hurry upstairs and then heard the closing of her bedroom door.

Giles groaned and leaned back against the sofa. "Bloody Hell."

Chapter 7

Giles and Willow were in Bath for a couple of months. In that time, Giles had become intimate friends with the telephone. At least once a day, if not more, he and Buffy talked. Sometimes they talked about Dawn. Sometimes they talked about shoe shopping. They always talked about the progress Willow was making, and they always told each other they missed the other.

Then, one night, Buffy said the words he'd always been hoping for. "I love you, Giles."

Since then, Giles was on cloud nine.

Buffy had also informed Giles that Spike had left town. He'd approached her on patrol one night and Buffy had rebuffed him. (Giles had chuckled at her term, rebuffed.) She'd finally told Spike the truth; that he was a tool that she'd been using. He'd just been a hard, cold body that she didn't want or need anymore. Then she'd given him a hug and a kiss on the cheek. "I never meant to hurt him. "

Giles sighed and crossed his legs. He was sitting on a sofa in a waiting area of the coven while he waited for Willow. "He was using you, Buffy. Don't blame yourself, love. That...that wasn't you."

"No, it wasn't," Buffy smiled softly. "Are you coming home soon?"

It had been a couple of weeks later when Willow felt well enough to go home. Tara was just as anxious to see her. At first, Giles knew that Willow was nervous about seeing her old friends. Would they reject her? Did they still blame her?

Whatever fears and concerns Willow might have had, they disappeared when they all greeted her at the airport. Xander held a huge sign that said, "Welcome Back Willow." Giles didn't understand why it was written in yellow crayon, but Willow seemed to love it. Then Buffy and Dawn hugged her, before Tara wrapped Willow in her arms, holding her close.

Then Buffy stepped in front of Giles. She grinned. He grinned and dropped his bag. Oblivious to the others staring at them, he wrapped her into a huge hug, spinning her off of her feet and into the air. Then her soft lips found his and he was home. Giles was home, where he belonged.

Dawn filled in the gang about all of Giles' late night phone calls while Buffy and Giles walked hand in hand back to the car. Giles couldn't stop smiling. He was happy to see that Tara and Willow seemed to feel the same way. They would have issues that would still need to be worked out, but they were all well on their way to being completely healed.

He was grateful when Xander pulled up to the Summer's home. He was tired and it had been a long flight. So he was surprised when Buffy told him to not unpack.

"You and I are going to the beach house," she informed him. "Don't worry, I can drive and you can sleep on the way."

Giles gave her a look mingled with fear and wonder. "Sleep? While you drive? I....rather...don't...."

Xander started laughing. "Don't worry, G man. She's had lessons. It's one of her surprises."

Giles saw Buffy shoot Xander a look. The boy blushed and mumbled something to Anya. Then Buffy turned back to Giles. "You'll be perfectly safe, I promise."

The jet lag won out and Giles did fall asleep on the drive to his house of retreat on the beach. The seasons had begun to change, and Autumn was now in the air. Dawn would be starting school soon. He realized when they arrived that they probably wouldn't be doing any swimming in the ocean on this trip.

"What are you up to?" he finally asked Buffy. But she just smiled and unlocked the door.

The sight that greeted Giles made him speechless. Romantic candles created a soft and aromatic lighting to the room. The curtains were drawn, making the house look cozier then ever. On the table was a silver set with dinner being hot held and a bottle of wine was chilling. On the coffee table was an old first edition of "Excalibur," the book he'd read to Buffy. "Surprise," she said softly.

The meal they shared was the best that Giles could ever remember having, though if you asked him later, he couldn't recall what they ate. He was pleased that Buffy cleaned her plate as well.

After the meal, he stood and offered her his hand. Without a word she slipped her hand into his. "I think it's time," she said with a smile.

Giles smiled and squeezed her fingers, and then led her to the bedroom.

Again he was greeted at a wondrous and romantic sight. The bedroom was also covered in candle light. The bed was already pulled back with new sheets, and the curtains were closed. Soft music played on the stereo.

Giles pulled Buffy into the room and knelt down on the floor before her. He was so choked up he had to take a moment before he could look up at her. "Buffy, I was suppose to do this for you. I was suppose to be the one to show you how much I care and how...tender love could be."

Buffy just smiled down at him. "Giles, you have, and you are. You show me in every action how much you love much you have loved me. When I finally realized that, I...realized how much I had hurt you. I've never felt more destroyed in my whole life...both of them..." (they each smiled at that,) "then when that revelation came to me." Buffy squeezed his hand. "It's me that needs and wants to show you how special you are to me, and how much I love you."

Giles blinked back tears and opened his mouth to speak, but nothing came out.

"I'll let you be the boss in bed," Buffy teased him.

"Oh, really?" Giles quirked one eyebrow at her. Then he raised from his kneeling position, and quickly turned her around so her back was to him. In one quick motion, he spanked her.

"Giles!" Buffy was shocked, but then giggled when she felt his fingers lightly rubbing her ass.

"After everything you've put me through, don't you think you deserve a good spanking?" Giles was leaning over her, his voice just over her shoulder, whispering in her ear. His hand cupped and he spanked her once more. Not enough to hurt, but just barely sting. He knew it would cause a vibration inside Buffy that would slowly drive her wild. He smiled when he heard her intake of breath, and how her body trembled all around him.

"Buffy..." Giles turned her back around and pulled her into his arms. His mouth crushed hers and his tongue immediately found what it was looking for in the recesses of her mouth. They both groaned and Giles pushed her back and down across the bed. His body covered hers. She surrounded him.

He'd wanted to go slow. He thought she'd need him to be tender and caring and loving. But the passion that had been building for so many years was threatening to take them both over. He struggled to pull back. Then he cupped her face in one hand and smiled at her.

Buffy's lips were puffy and her face was flushed. He felt her hands moving up and down his back. "Giles, make love to me. Please, make real love to me."

There was little that Giles could refuse his Slayer, his lover, his Buffy. "With pleasure," he whispered again in her ear.

She was wearing a simple white tank top. Giles wondered if she knew how feminine she looked to him in it. He ran his hands down her neck and over her bare shoulders. She wasn't wearing a bra. He bent his head and sucked one of her nipples into his mouth, and then molded it to his tongue. The hardened nub grew, and Buffy whimpered at the sensations his tongue caused through the cotton of her top.

When he was certain she couldn't stand it anymore, he moved to the other breast and repeated the same actions. She was bucking beneath him now. Finally she worked her hands down and had pulled his shirt out of his belted pants. He trembled when he felt her fingers on his skin. He had to sit up and helped her with his shirt buttons. They both giggled a little. He tried to pull it off but it got stuck on his shoulder. Impatiently he tugged and they both heard a rip. Buffy fell back in a fit of giggles. Giles laughed, threw the ruined shirt to the floor, and moved his hand to the bottom of her tank top. "You'll be punished for that."

Buffy grinned. "I sure hope so!"

Giles pulled her tank top up and over her head. Then he just gazed down at her, drinking in her beauty. Slowly he ran his hand over her breasts again, down her stomach, and around her ribs. "So beautiful..." he whispered with reverence and awe.

Giles worshipped her every inch. He started at her face and moved his lips over her forehead, eyebrows, eyelids, cheeks, lips, chin, and then down her neck. He kissed her breasts and over each rib. Buffy was moaning and groaning beneath him, which just stirred him up more. Eventually he pulled off her shoes and socks, jeans and underwear, leaving her completely naked beneath him.

Then Giles stood up. While she watched, he slowly undressed. His eyes never left her face. The heat of her gaze made him so hard. When her tongue peeked out to wet her bottom lipped, he groaned out loud. Buffy moved her hips suggestively, uncontrollably. "Please, Giles...please hurry."

But he wouldn't hurry. Once he was free of clothes he started at her feet, and again pressed his lips and grazed his tongue over every square inch. He had to hold her hips down as he kissed up her thighs, and then he was at her core, and he tasted her.

It didn't take long. Buffy cried out his name twice as he made love to her with his mouth. Her leg rubbed against his arousal and he had to stop and catch his breath. Then he eased his body up, and slowly slipped inside, penetrating her all the way up to his hilt.

Slowly he moved inside of her. He couldn't believe the moment he had dreamed about was finally here. He was deep inside the woman he loved. It felt more wonderful then words could express, and more right and perfect then anything ever had before.

Sweat pooled in the small of his back as he took his time thrusting inside of her. Her legs wrapped around his waist tightly, pulling all of him inside. When he felt her hands squeeze his ass, he lost control. Thankfully he felt her throbbing all around him as he spilled, and they came together in a powerful crescendo of pleasure.

When Giles could breathe again, he slowly rolled them both over so that Buffy was lying on his chest. His arms were still wrapped tightly around her. They were both wet with sweat and their skin red with pleasure. His eyes were closed and he had a smile on his face as he held her close.

Giles was startled when he felt her move. She rolled off of him and then reached down below the bed. But she turned her head and smiled up at him. "I know you. You can be stuffy and British and way too hesitant. I don't want to wait for you to ask me." Buffy smiled and reached into her bag and pulled out a little jewelry box. She set it on his chest and waited.

Giles gulped and studied her face. Then he slowly sat up and opened the little box. Nestled inside was a man's wedding ring.

"Giles, will you marry me?" Buffy asked softly.

Giles swallowed again. He couldn't take his eyes off of the ring. "I...uh...I don't know what to say..." he whispered.

He heard Buffy chuckle softly so he looked back up at her face. She was grinning at him. "Yes would be good!"

Giles grinned and pulled her to him. He wrapped her up in his strong arms. "Yes. Yes, Buffy, oh yes."

Buffy smiled softly and relaxed in his arms. "Good, otherwise, I might have had to spank ya."