Christmas Ball
By Selenay

Title: Christmas Ball
Author: Selenay
E-mail:
selenay@talk21.com
Summary: Will Buffy go to the Ball? Not seasonal in August I grant you, but I couldn't get the story idea out of my head. Now I can get back to what I was originally writing.
Setting: Yet again the Gang (Buffy, Xander, Willow and Cordelia) are lodging with Giles. Cordelia has lost her money, but not gone to LA. Events in season three have happened. Wesley has stayed to cover for Buffy not obeying the Council (see? He can be nice sometimes). I think that's everything.
Spoilers: Put it this way; small ones for lots of episodes.
Rating: G
Distribution: The New Buffy/Giles Relationshippers, anyone else who wants it (just let me know where it's gone).
Feedback: Yes please. Let me know if I should hang up my pen (or computer as the case is), but no flames please (I have a very fragile ego).


"So, what are you wearing to the ball?" Willow asked Buffy.

They were sitting in their bedroom with Anya and Cordelia, having a 'girl's night in'.

"I'm not going," Buffy replied absently as she tried to apply the deep purple nail polish to her toes without smudging her freshly painted fingernails.

The room went silent at the news. After a few moments Buffy noticed.

"What?" she asked.

"But-but it's the Christmas ball!" Willow squeaked, as though that alone would make the Slayer change her mind.

"So?"

"It's only the biggest college social this semester," Cordelia said, frustrated.

She was the only one in the room who was not at the college, so she had to try and find someone to take her. When it had come down to it, she had not been able to make herself go to LA. Although everyone here knew about her father's actions, somehow the idea of leaving this group of people who cared about her anyway was not appealing. So when they had asked her to lodge with them, supposedly to help with their rent, she had not been able to say no. They helped her find a job as a receptionist at a firm of accountants, decorated a room for her and generally made her feel welcome and cared for. She was not going to admit it, but it was wonderful after everything that had happened.

Buffy looked at her friends, and knew she would have to try to explain. Even Anya looked concerned. "Look, the Hellmouth has a radar-thingy for me in a formal dress. If I go, we'll end up with vampires, hell hounds or something even yuckier."

"B-but, maybe this time." Willow trailed off. Her friend had a good point. She just had to find a better one.

"This time? That's what I've said lots of times."

"Not every event has gone like that," Cordelia said, desperately searching her memory for a time when nothing had gone wrong. "You got to go to the Prom."

"And I had to kill several hell hounds beforehand."

"Homecoming didn't.Spring Fling.I'll shut up now," Willow finished.

"It's safer all round if I stay home, with a book and."

"Some Bovril?" Giles finished as he entered the room carrying a tray with their ice cream and sodas.

"That's going too far," Buffy complained, remembering his words to her at the Bronze the day they met. "Ice-cream is more me."

Giles grinned at her and set the tray down on the floor. "If you ladies don't need anything else, I'll go and finish off in the library."

"Giles, make Buffy go to the ball," Willow ordered. If anyone could persuade Buffy to do this it would be Giles. She had been noticing the way that her friend looked at the former Watcher over the past couple of months. After all, she was an expert at these things, and they were kind of cute.

He blinked, momentarily surprised. Then he said the first thing to come into his mind. Never a good idea. "Have I turned into the fairy godfather today?"

Buffy giggled at the image that conjured up.

"Buffy won't go to the Christmas Ball because she's afraid she'll jinx it," Cordelia explained.

"If she doesn't go, they'll all feel bad and it won't be any fun," Anya complained. When she put it that way however, it did not sound as good as it had in her mind. "Xander is never much fun when he's worrying about things." That did not sound much better.

The others did not take offence, aware that the millennia old demon still had problems her new humanity.

"Buffy may have a point." Three annoyed females glared at him. "But that is no reason to give in."

Finally Willow found a winning argument. "If you don't go, the Hellmouth will win."

This time Buffy glared at her friend. She hated it when they were all logical and right.

"And Giles is going." Willow suspected that would get her friend better than any other logical considerations.

"M-me?" the man in question asked, surprised.

"It wouldn't be the same without you," Willow told him. "We're going as a big group, that way we can get enough tickets for all of us."

"If you want to be technical," Cordelia confirmed, "I'm going with Xander, Wesley's going with Anya and you're going with Buffy. But as a big group."

"This way," Willow said to her friend, "If anything bad comes there's lots of us and we can kill it fast and get back to the fun."

Buffy could not find any more arguments, particularly as they had already dealt with her big fear. And Giles going was a huge plus. Giles in a tux again.her mind temporarily got side-tracked.

She could remember the exact moment it hit her. She had come in from patrolling to find Giles sitting in his chair, fast asleep with a book in his lap. She had stood there for ages, watching him sleep. And then she knew; she loved him.

OK, so there had been the Giles coming out of the bathroom in a towel incident a couple of weeks before. He did not know she had seen him, but it had awakened her mind to the possibilities. Not to mention showing her he was much fitter than she had suspected beneath the layers of tweed. Although the tweed had not made an appearance for weeks now. He was not exactly wearing jeans and T-shirts.her brain briefly short-circuited. < Keep your mind on the present. > she ordered herself. < What were they talking about? Oh yes. The ball. >

"I haven't got anything to wear," Buffy protested feebly.

"That's why we're all going shopping tomorrow," Willow said happily, knowing Buffy had given in. "You're coming too Giles."

"M-me?" Giles said again. < Has you're mind become stuck on the same word tonight? > he asked himself.

"You need to get a tux. You're going with Xander and Oz to get fitted while we look at dresses." Willow found herself enjoying talking charge.

Cordelia looked at Willow. "When did you become bossy woman?"

"When I began living with you."

There was no reply to that.

***

"What about this one?" Buffy asked uncertainly as she came out of the changing room.

"It's." Willow searched for something complementary.

"You can say it. It's vile." Buffy flopped down on the chair opposite Willow, Cordelia and Anya. "I'll never find one."

They had been shopping for several hours now, and this was the last shop in the mall. Even Cordelia had found a dress she was willing to go out in. She could not save enough for a designer one, but she was slowly (with a fair amount of complaining) adjusting, and they all agreed she would look incredible in her dress. However, Buffy had not been able to find one yet. Although she was resigned to having another unreturned 'crush', she still wanted to stun Giles into insensibility with her dress. < How mature is that? > she asked herself. < And how likely? >

A harassed looking shop assistant came over with yet another dress for Buffy to try on.

"I'm afraid if this isn't right then there's nothing else," she explained, frustrated.

Buffy took the dress and went into the changing cubicle. When she came out there was a moment of awe-struck silence.

"Well? Is it hideous?" Buffy hoped not. She had fallen in love with it the moment she saw herself in the mirror.

"It's the one," Cordelia breathed.

"It looks great," Anya agreed.

"Are you sure?" Buffy smiled nervously.

Willow stood up and carefully hugged her. "He'll love it," she whispered in her friend's ear.

Buffy looked at her, surprised, but Willow just grinned at her. She was going to take the dress.

***

The men had a much easier time finding tuxedoes. Possibly because there are fewer styles. Instead, Giles was staring at a beautiful corsage of white lilies in the florist while Xander and Oz ordered ones for their dates. Buffy had worked so hard at her Prom to make sure everyone else got to enjoy it that she missed many of the important parts of it. Including her date giving her a corsage. He wanted to give her that at this ball they were dragging him to (although he had to admit that he was not exactly protesting). At least part of that was the selfish need to see her face light up with joy as she received it. Hidden deep down was the faint hope that she would look at him and he would see his love for her reflected in her face. < Impossible. > he told himself.

"She'll love it." Giles jumped, surprised that Oz had managed to creep up on him so well.

"Wh-who?" he asked, trying to get his heart-rate to return to normal.

"The person you're thinking of." Oz replied. "She's hoping for this."

He went back to the counter to finish paying for his flowers, leaving a confused Giles to think. He had though he had managed to keep his feelings hidden all these months, but Oz could be surprisingly perceptive.

While Xander went to a shop next door to find some Twinkies, Giles quickly ordered and paid for a corsage.

***

The ball was being held on the last day of the semester. Anya went home with Buffy and Willow after classes, and Cordelia left work early so they could spend as much time as possible preparing. Giles and Xander were banished to Oz's place, with Wesley, so they would not see the girls before they were ready.

The doorbell rang exactly at eight, and Willow answered it. Oz immediately stepped in and kissed her on the cheek. Then he stood there for a moment, staring at her, somewhat overwhelmed by her beauty.

"It's cold out here," Xander complained from behind him. "Let us in won't you?"

Oz moved away from the door to allow Giles, Wesley and a shivering Xander into the house.

"Tuxedoes aren't made for December weather," he complained.

"You know, there are great things called coats," Cordelia commented. "Ring any bells?"

"It's in the closet," Xander responded, getting it out and putting it on with a sigh of relief.

While the two bickered, Willow and Oz ogled, and Wesley and Anya tried not to feel so embarrassed, Buffy and Giles stood and stared at each other.

Buffy's major thought was, < I thought he looked good at the Prom. This is.wow. He should always wear a tux. >

Giles' thoughts were not too dissimilar. < Wow. Wow. Wow. > His mind became stuck on that word for a while. Then, < You've been spending too much time with them. You're starting to think like them. Wow. > He had thought her beautiful at the Prom, but tonight she was even lovelier. It was as though something had changed. After a moment he realised what it was. She did not have that aura of unhappiness around her, the way she had after she and Angel broke up. Tonight she looked radiant, glowing. And she was smiling at him.

***

< It's working. > Willow thought happily as she watched Buffy and Giles from her comfy perch on Oz. They were all sitting at a table in the function room that had been converted into a ballroom for the night. Everyone had danced and had fun, keeping a wary eye out for any Hellmouth creatures that may want to ruin the evening, and the pair had not been able to keep their eyes off each other.

It had taken a lot of effort on Willow, Cordelia and Anya's part to ensure Buffy went to that shop last, and they had had to bribe the sales assistant to show her that dress last. But Willow considered the effort worth it simply for Giles' expression when he saw her.

The dress was actually very simple. It was a midnight blue, ankle-length sheath with narrow blue-black chains as straps. When Buffy moved, the mid-thigh length slit showed off one long leg. It hugged her in all the right places, and Willow almost giggled at the memory Giles' blush when he realised he was staring at her leg earlier. The Slayer fingered the corsage Giles had given her, and Willow was glad she had told Oz to make sure he bought her one. Even Xander had been in on the plan, in his capacity of making sure he left Giles alone in the florist. If everything went according to plan, Anya would drag Wesley off to dance, followed by Xander and Cordelia and her and Oz. Then the former Watcher and his Slayer would have to overcome their nervousness and dance. Hopefully together.

Just as Willow was beginning to panic, Anya said, "I've never danced with a Watcher. Come on Wesley."

Not the most prosaic way to ask for a dance, but it worked. She grabbed his arm and dragged him off to the dance floor. Xander and Cordelia quickly followed suit, and then Oz and Willow hurried away, leaving Buffy and Giles alone together.

For a moment they sat in awkward silence. Although they had been chatting and laughing together easily before, now they were alone together they did not know what to say. At the Prom, they had been able to talk about the events of the evening. Giles had been able to distance himself from Buffy by her preoccupation with making the Prom a perfect moment for her friends and her heartbreak over Angel. Buffy had not had her current feelings for Giles, or if she had they had been overshadowed by events with Angel. She was no longer even sure if she had really loved the vampire towards the end.

"The decoration's nice," Buffy managed eventually.

"Y-yes," Giles answered. <You could ask her to dance. You could complement her looks. You could tell her you love her. Instead you're reduced to monosyllabic.words worse than Xander. You're not even making sentences! 'Yes' is not going to keep a conversation going. Even making a comment about the weather would help. > Giles was feeling more annoyed with his communication difficulties than normal.

"No demons so far," Buffy said.

"I noticed." < Two words is better than one. At least it was a sentence. >

They continued to sit in awkward silence until Buffy finally gathered the courage to ask, "Would you like to dance?"

"Well I.uh." <One word. That's all you need. > "Y-yes."

She took his hand and led him onto the dance floor. It was a slow song so they took their place among the swaying couples. She kept possession of his hand, and he very properly put his other hand on her waist. They began dancing slowly, both enjoying the feeling of being in each other's arms. After a moment, their eyes caught and held.

Buffy felt as though she was drowning in Giles' eyes. She had never been able to study them before, but she realised now that they were not brown but green with flecks of brown. The look in those eyes took her breath away.

Giles was also lost in Buffy's hazel eyes. < I never realised there were so many colours. > It felt wonderful holding her, and he wished for the moment never to end. As he continued to gaze down at her, he saw her expression. She was looking at him with.love. < She loves me? >

They continued dancing, unconsciously moved closer until Buffy's head was resting on his shoulder and Giles was gently stroking her loose hair. Neither of them noticed when faster songs were played. They stayed, gently swaying on the edge of the dance floor, caught in the wonder of their discoveries. He placed a tender kiss on the top of her head, and Buffy sighed in contentment.

Looking at them, Willow hugged Oz happily. "I told you it would work," she said.

"I never doubted," he replied.

END