CruelAUTHOR: Gabriele Schulz
She couldn't breath. She knew that if she would, the only thing invading her
lungs would be water. She struggled. It was useless. She could see Giles. Blurry
behind the glass. He was trying to tell her something, but she couldn't hear
him, plus she was running out of oxygen. She stopped struggling and - woke
God, what a nightmare.
When Giles saw her that morning in 'The Library' he immediately sensed something was wrong. But since she didn't want to talk about it he didn't press the issue. She knew that she could always come to him, if she wanted to talk.
The next night Buffy had a similar dream. She was once again in a tank. And again she couldn't get out. She struggled, not able to get out and listen to what Giles was telling her. But this time, when she stopped struggling, she could lift her head just enough to look out of the water. Giles was saying something, but since her ears were still under water she couldn't hear him.
She woke up, not as panicked as the last time, but the dream left her uneasy.
The next night it was the same, only this time she wasn't as afraid, because she knew, that if she would stop struggling, she could get out of the water. Once again she moved out of the water just far enough to see Giles behind the glass.
Her nose was still under water, but for some reason she didn't feel like suffocating. She felt strangely calm and tried to concentrate on Giles, knowing that it was immensely important what he told her. But she couldn't understand him.
When she got to 'The Library' that day, she considered telling Giles about the dream, but decided to wait another day. It was as if an inner voice told her to.
She took some of the books they had used for research the evening before and carried them into the hidden stacks. When she had put back half of the books her gaze fell onto Oz' cage and she sharply breathed in and dropped her books.
Giles was behind her in an instant.
"Everything all right?"
She pointed at the tank in Oz' cage.
"Oh, that. Yes, I thought it would be nice to have some fish in here."
"If you think that's a stupid idea..."
"No, it's just..."
She looked at him, then told him about the dreams.
"You could have told..., but you know that."
"Giles, I thought about telling you today, but something held me back. Do you think the dreams were prophetic?"
"Under normal circumstances I would say 'no'. Being in a tank doesn't seem like a prophecy to me and your inability to hear me could just mean..."
"That I should listen to you."
"Well... but the fact that I bought the tank this morning... coincidences and Slayer's dreams don't mix well."
"I'll make it come true."
"We'll fill it and I'll get inside."
"Buffy do you think that's a good idea?"
"Giles, this thing is less than three feet high. I know that I'm small, but that's ridiculous. Besides you'll be there to rescue me if something should happen."
He still wasn't comfortable with the idea, but let her continue.
She closed the store, filled the tank with the hose, they used to clean the shop-windows, then got out of her shoes and socks and her trousers.
Giles held his breath for a second, wondering how much more she'd remove, but then she got into the water wearing her panties, bra and t-shirt.
She smiled at him uneasily before getting totally under water. She held her breath and looked around. Everything seemed all right. She wanted to get out of the water again, but couldn't.
Giles saw her starting to panic. She obviously hadn't noticed, that one of her hands was holding her shirt down.
"Buffy, move your hands."
But she couldn't think clearly and started to struggle. In her dream she had just relaxed, but this was real and she was drowning. Just when she thought, she'd faint, she felt Giles hands lifting her out of the water.
She took one deep breath after another. She was in Giles' arms on his lap. He was kneeling next to the tank, holding her to him, rocking her back and forth.
"Oh god, Buffy. If something had happened to you. Don't ever scare me like that again."
When she could breath again, she said.
"I couldn't get up. I tried to but something kept me down."
"Your hand. The shirt was between your hand and the bottom of the tank."
She thought about that, then suddenly got out of the shirt and up from his lap. When she got back into the tank, he protested.
"No, Buffy, don't do that again. You scared the hell out of me. I don't know if I can take that again."
"Giles, I have to. The scary part is over. I need to know this."
She kneeled down.
He put his hands on the edge of the tank and looked at her pleading.
"It'll be okay."
She put her hands on the tank next to his and stroked them slightly before moving her head under water.
"God, please let her be okay."
She moved her head out far enough that she could see, but not hear him.
"I love you, Buffy."
He had said it to himself, knowing that she couldn't hear him.
She stuck out her head and smiled at him.
He sighed relieved.
"What did you just say?"
"I asked what you just said to me."
"I... I said I hope you're okay."
"Giles, you have to tell me the truth. I think, this is what this dream was about. Whatever it was, I need to hear it."
One of her fingers lightly stroked his fingers that were still on the tank.
"I said, I love you."
She smiled at him again.
She leaned forward and kissed him on the forehead.
"I needed to hear that."
Both her thumbs were stroking his fingers now. He looked at her and couldn't help himself.
"It's not like a father, Buffy. I..."
He leaned forward and kissed her. She didn't respond.
When he pulled back to look at her, her face was devoid of any expression. At least any he coud read.
"I love you so much."
He kissed her cheek.
"I love you like I never loved anyone or anything in my life."
He trailed kisses down her throat, then whispered into her ear.
"And I desire you more than anyone."
He kissed her shoulder. She didn't move an inch. He kissed a way down her chest, not touching her wet bra though.
"You are my life."
He looked at her again, for any sign. To go on, or to stop. But her face remained emotionless.
His voice was desperate. And finally she spoke.
"I... I just don't know, Giles."
They looked at each other for a moment.
"Then let me try."
He kissed her again and after a few seconds, she started to respond. Giles tried not to be too euphoric, tried to remind himself, that she was just *letting* him do this. With his confession and his inability to leave it at that, everything had changed between them. But which way was yet to be seen.
He lifted her out of the water and carried her to the bed, where they made love. Buffy was no longer passive. Her moans touched his soul, although he wished she would call out his name only once, making this more personal. When they climaxed together, Giles uttered a strangled cry.
"I love you, Buffy."
After they came down he held her in his arms, not able to wait any longer.
"I love you, Buffy."
She didn't answer the question lying underneath this statement. But that was answer enough for him. He had risked everything and lost.
The last remaining bit of hope was crashed, when she didn't keep him from getting up and dressing. He looked at her one last time.
She lay on the bed staring at no particular point.
He turned around and walked away. When he was about to reach the backoffice, he heard her voice.
"How long have you been in love with me?"
He stopped, but didn't turn around.
"About a year now."
"How did it feel when you realized it?"
He turned around and walked back until he could look at her from the aisle.
"It was quite painful. But that was because you had run away and I didn't know if I'd ever see you again."
"Do you believe in love at first sight?"
She still wasn't looking at him.
"I can't say that I ever experienced it myself."
"Angel says he fell in love with me the first time he saw me. I think under all those brooding he's a hopeless romantic. So was I. But I was sixteen. What excuse does he have?"
Giles looked at her, not quite sure, where this conversation was leading.
"He should have known. We could never be together. He should have kept us from going too far. I was too young. I'm not young anymore. I don't believe in immortal love. The only things I know that can't die are already dead."
Giles looked at the ground in front of him.
"I wanted to fall in love with him. He was my wildest fantasy come true. But I don't want fantasies any more. I don't want problems. I don't want fear. Giles, loving you would mean as many problems as I had when I was in love with Angel. I don't want to fall in love with you. But I guess we can't always chose."
He looked up at her. She finally turned around to him.
"I'll be everything you let me be. That is if you still want a cruel 18-year-old, who tortures you with uncertainty before finally telling you how madly she has fallen in love with you."
He was at her side in a second.
"I'll never stop wanting you. But please don't ever be so cruel again."
She kissed him.
"I didn't mean to be cruel. But I needed to think about it. My experience with Angel was too painful. But I realized there is no such thing as a guarantee for happiness. And I also realized that it was too late to chose."
"Buffy, I love you."
"And I love you, Rupert Giles."