Title: Cookie Dough
Spoilers: Through the Series Finale. Set a couple weeks later.
Summary: A B/G potential epilogue for the series
Rating: G, disgustingly enough. There isn't so much as a dirty word.
Category: episode epilogue/pre-het/wishful thinking
Distribution: If you've had my permission in the past, you have it now. All others, ask and ye shall receive.
Feedback: Constructive criticism always welcome. Praise abjectly sought.
Disclaimer: It all belongs to Joss, Mutant Enemy, etc., etc., etc. I just let them have all the fun Joss won't. I own nothing except my twisted mind which you really don't want. Please don't sue.
Notes: I couldn't resist the cookie dough analogy.
Dedication: To Cindy B. who needs this more than most, and to all staunch B/G's everywhere. In fic we trust.
Giles smiled as Buffy walked through the door, still swinging her stake.
"Hey," she said. "Waiting up for me?"
"Old habits, I suppose," he returned with a slight smile. "Any vampires?"
"Not a one." She shrugged off her jacket and went to sit next to him on the bed. "Any luck apartment hunting?"
"I did see one place today, but I'm not sure it will do."
"Why not? Is it out of our price range?"
"No, and it's a good neighborhood, with an excellent high school for Dawn, and ready furnished. It's even vacant. We could move in tomorrow, if we wanted to."
Buffy frowned in puzzlement.
"So...where's the catch? Is the furniture way ugly? Are the neighbors too yuppie for you?"
"There are only two bedrooms. Not three. There would be sharing involved."
"No way," she said, rising. "I am so not sharing a room again after the last few months. I want some alone space. And it's not exactly like you and Dawn can be roomies. We'll just have to keep looking for a three-bedroom place."
She sighed and flopped back onto the other bed. Giles moved to her side and sat beside her.
"We can't go on living out of one hotel room like this forever," he reminded her. "Almost everyone else has moved on. Faith and Robin left for Cleveland today."
"They did? Why didn't I know that? And what's in Cleveland? Is there really another Hellmouth there?"
"It was a joke." Giles rolled his eyes. "Anyone who's kept half an eye on the inductions into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame knows there's something very rotten in the state of Ohio."
"Well, maybe with a little help from our friends, Air Supply and John Tesh will never make it in," she giggled.
"So where's Dawn?"
"Willow, Kennedy and Xander invited her to spend the night at their apartment...the one they moved into a week ago."
"Again with the sarcasm," she sighed. "I just...I want our place to be perfect. Is that so much to ask after I saved the world yet again?"
"Probably. Still, I suppose we can afford to be picky for a few more days. But before the week is out, I want to know I'm going to have a proper kitchen again." He hesitated before he spoke again. "Angel called while you were out."
"Checking up on us some more?"
"Offering us a place to stay. He said he has plenty of space in his hotel. We could all have separate rooms."
She sat up and frowned.
"And be right where he can keep an eye on us all the time?"
"I think he meant it as a chance for us to decide what comes next without being hurried by financial concerns."
"He just wants to make sure he's there when my timer goes off," Buffy corrected him.
"Your...timer...? And yet again, I have absolutely no idea what you're talking about. What timer?"
"Oh, just something he said the last time we met. And something I said back. About the cookie doughness of me."
"Yeah. He sorta wanted to pick up where we left off again. And so did I, in a way. But there was Spike, and it was complicated, and I told him I couldn't make that decision until I wasn't cookie dough anymore."
"Well, that certainly clears nothing right up," Giles said as he pinched the bridge of his nose. "What in heaven's name are you on about?"
"It's just...I'm not ready yet. For the big love of my life thing. I'm still all squishable and raw. And if I go to LA and I live in the same place as Angel, it'll be too easy to just slip right back into that because it's familiar. I mean, he showed up in that crypt with a helping hand and a pretty medallion, and...I kissed him. It was just so...he was there and he wanted it, so I did it. If I go to LA, I'll do it again. I'll be with him because I don't know how to be with me. It's easier to be with me with you."
"I think I may have detected a compliment in there," he teased mildly.
"Yeah. You did. There are times when I feel like you're the only person I can just be me with, because all you want is for me to be me. Everybody else...they need me to be something. You don't. Right now, that's what I need; to just be around someone who is willing to sit back and see who cookie Buffy is, and doesn't have a cookie cutter in his hand. I mean, you've done a little shaping here and there, but for me. Not for you."
"You did your own shaping, Buffy. I may have...pointed out a spot here and there for you to adjust, but you're the one who did it. You're the one who changed the world. I just...beamed rather a lot."
"Stop selling yourself short," she scolded him. "If I'm half-baked, it's all because of you...and I have got to find a way to get this foot out of my mouth."
Giles giggled helplessly until he fell back onto the bed. Buffy frowned and swatted him lightly.
"Stop that!" she exclaimed. "Come on, you wouldn't laugh this hard at Xander if he said it."
"It wouldn't be as funny if he did," he gasped out.
"So you think I'm funny, do you?" she asked dangerously.
"Buffy...no, you wouldn't," he said. "You swore you wouldn't..."
With that, she began to tickle his ribs, her eyes lit with an evil glint. He laughed helplessly and gasped for air.
"No, stop it! I mean it. Don't - ack! Not there! I warn you, if you do that again, I'll...acck! All right, you asked for it!"
Suddenly, he flipped them over. He looked down at Buffy, her face flushed with exercise and mirth. Her eyes held something else, though. A challenge. One of his hands slid to her hair. He smiled gently at her and shook his head slightly.
"Not now," he said.
"Possibly." He brushed his lips against her forehead. "If I happen to be around and wanted when your timer goes off." He slid reluctantly off of her. "I'll have my oven mitts handy."
He took a deep breath and headed for the bathroom.
"Giles?" she called.
He stopped and turned, raising one eyebrow.
"I'll do my best not to burn you," she promised.
He smiled and nodded.
"Thank you. That would be greatly appreciated. Now, I'm going to...take a shower. I won't be too long."
Buffy sat looking after him for a while. At last, she crossed to the desk and picked up newspaper with the real estate ads. She returned to her bed, lay down, and began to read the entries.
"Let's see...three-bedroom apartments..." She frowned. "Maybe two-bedroom places are worth looking at, after all."