Dancing With Death
By Viv

Pairing: Buffy/Giles
Rating: NC-17 for consentual m/f graphic sex
Distribution: Please e-mail me if you want it on your site/archive, I'd be very honoured!
Feedback: Yes, but no flames please, I'm British! ;-) Constructive comments and criticism are very welcome (compliments even more so, they make me write faster!)
Disclaimer: All characters mentioned in this story belong to Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, Fox Television, etc. The story is written for the pleasure of the author and readers, and has no lucrative purpose whatsoever. Please don't reproduce this story anywhere without the author's consent.
Notes: Contains serious spoilers for the Season 5 plot right until "Checkpoint". Set just after "Checkpoint".


She walked through the dark cemetery, tapping a stake in the palm of her left hand. She could sense its presence, she knew that it was following her. In fact, she could nearly smell its scent of dead flesh, feel its cold breath at the back of her neck. She was walking towards the crypt, that stood out, white as a ghost, in the darkness of the graveyard. Because, somehow, she knew that this was where it was waiting for her. She took the time to run her hands along the rough stone, to stare at the moss and lichen that created a pattern on the pale edifice, to listen to the silence. And slowly, she entered.

In the centre of the room was a heap of serpents, all of them pale as the moon. They slithered over each other, coiling their slick bodies into intricate positions, their heads sometimes craning to look at her, their tongues darting out as if to touch her, their eyes pools of blackness. Buffy stayed immobile at the door, waiting. The mass of snakes started to move slowly, as a waxen body emerged from underneath them, its skin just as cold and glistening as theirs. He wore nothing other than a grin. His sapphire eyes set on her, hypnotizing her, and the tip of his tongue slowly slipped across his upper lip. It was a sensual, provocative and terrifying movement.

'Have you come to dance, pet?' asked his deep voice. She simply gazed at him in wonder, hardly noticing one of the white serpents slip out of the mass and silently glide towards her. She didn't even pay attention to it when she felt its cool body roll around her calf and start climbing up her leg. She was completely mesmerised by the pale naked body, white as alabaster but for the splash of red on his lips, and those glistening blue eyes. He took a step towards her, and she shivered.

Now she noticed the serpent, curling around her waist. She could have sworn it had grown, that its body was now too thick for her to close her hand around it. She also realised that she, too, was naked, and that the snake's cool body was pressing her warm flesh, as if to draw her heat into it. She let out a gasp as its face appeared next to hers, its fangs flashing in the moonlight. But now she was trapped, surrendering to it. Because somehow, she knew that this was exactly what she wanted.

The snake's fangs plunged into her throat and it drank, while he stood immobile before her, a smirk appearing on his lips. She smiled back at him, feeling her life drift away, her warmth slowly enter the serpent and leave her body as cold as his had been. And slowly, she toppled and fell, never losing contact with those sapphire eyes. Blackness claimed her entirely and she greeted it with relief.

'Soon.' It had been a velvety whisper in her ears as her life was drained away from her.

***********

He flew up in his bed, letting out a sharp cry. She was being drained of her life, and he couldn't do anything about it! He panted, wondering where the serpents, the crypt had all disappeared to. The only thing he could hear was his heartbeat, drumming wildly in his ears, and the rest was silence and darkness. For a moment he sat there, terrified, wondering where she had gone, if he could still save her. And then, it slowly dawned on him that it had been a nightmare. With a relieved sigh, he let himself fall back onto his pillow, fumbling on his bedside table to turn the lamp on. He screwed his eyes up when at last he found the switch and that light flared across the room. But the brightness was reassuring. It had seemed so real, too real. His chest was heaving uncontrollably and his throat was knotted. He had to make great breathing efforts to calm his heart to a slower beat. He tried to think of nothing. Staring at the white ceiling seemed to help. But even though his body calmed down a little, anxiety still gripped his chest in its icy hand. Oh, he knew very well that snakes didn't suck blood like vampires, and that Spike still had that chip in his head, which prevented him from doing her any harm. Only, the feeling of his dream had seemed so realistic. As if she had really wanted to be bitten. As if it would put her out of her misery. As if she'd found pleasure - pleasure! - in it. It had even been erotic, in a sick kind of way. He sat up again, feeling his body tremble. He didn't want to go back to sleep after this. He didn't want to have this dream again, or see it continue into something even worse. Throwing his covers aside, he got up and stumbled into the bathroom.

Hardly an hour had gone by before Giles arrived at the Magic Box. It was 5 a.m. and the streets were dark and empty, but as he would find no sleep after the vivid nightmare, he thought that he might as well make use of the time. He had some stocktaking to do. He didn't trust the pillocks from the Council one moment, and wanted to make sure that they hadn't pinched anything from his store. Besides, that would provide a very welcome diversion for his overactive mind. He chided himself for being so protective, so worried for her. Buffy was a grown woman now. She was nearly twenty years old. She took on her responsibilities proudly - she had proved that by standing up to the Council the previous evening. Her concentration, her skill, her technique were all better than ever. She was probably the best Slayer that the Council had ever had. Giles sighed. The thing was that he loved her too much. And therefore, he was probably the one to worry the most about the day when, finally, death would claim her. Gritting his teeth, Giles fumbled for the keys to the entrance, forcing that thought out of his mind.

***********

'Poor Buffy sits a-weeping, a-weeping, a-weeping.
Poor Buffy sits a-weeping on a cold and frosty morning.'

The voice rang out in the empty alleyway, childlike even though a grown woman sang it out. It was accompanied by the sound of satin rustling on the pavement. The nursery rhyme stopped as the singer chuckled silently to herself, revelling in her little plan.

***********

Buffy sat in a corner of the room, curled up into a small, terrified little ball. Never in all her life had she been so afraid. She trembled violently, and hugged her knees closer to her chest, shivering and breaking out into a sweat all at once. She felt as if she were choking, as if she were drowning in the terror that chilled her very bones. She wanted it to stop, she wanted to cry out, to scream until somebody would come and hold her, make it all go away. But it wasn't going to.

"Death is on your heels, baby, and sooner or later it's going to catch you."

Spike's words had returned to her mind as soon as she had awoken. Along with the last word he had pronounced in her dream... "soon". Now she knew what was going to happen to her. She was certain that this was her fate, and that the dream was a prophetic one. It gave her the same anxiety, the same chill as all the other dreams. She had willingly greeted death - she had taken pleasure in the feeling of oblivion and peace that it had brought her. Spike had told her why.

"Not only to stop the fear and uncertainty, but because you're just a little bit in love with it."

And now, after the dream, she was sure that he was right. Only, she was terrified by it. She didn't want to die! She didn't want to be a willing victim to a cruel death. She didn't want him to be her executioner. She wanted to continue living for her Mom, for Dawn, for her friends... for Giles. But she also knew that it was true - she was getting tired. Exhausted. Everything was wearing her out so much. Slowly, piece by piece, her confidence, her will to live, were becoming chipped. And soon, she would shatter. And soon, she would die.

Buffy grabbed her face between her hands and pressed it against her knees. After the dream, all she had been able to do was to run. Run far from her bed, from sleep that seemed to bring fear rather than comfort, from her Mom and Dawn, who would only worry and fuss, and who just couldn't understand how she felt - who *mustn't know* how she felt! She had come to the only place where she felt safe now - the training room that Giles had made for her in his shop. He had given her a key to the back door, so that she could access it whenever she wanted to train. It was a secret between them - yet another - because if Anya found out that people got into the shop without Giles' or her supervision, she would freak out. Buffy hadn't ever come here on her own, but it felt a little safer than her house. She was cowering in the far corner of the room, and started to rock gently. Was this finally it? Was she going to lose her mind after all?

Everything had seemed so simple a few months ago. She had been with Riley. They had played on the beach and basked in the sun together all summer long. She'd had her Mom, and her bratty kid sister. Actually, even then, everything hadn't been all right. She'd already lost Xander and Willow, somehow. They were involved with other people, or they didn't want to be so involved with her, whatever. They weren't her 110% motivated Scooby gang anymore. And Giles! His drinking, his mid-life crisis, Olivia... he hadn't been her Watcher anymore - he'd become pathetic. Why else would she have gone to find protection with Maggie Walsh, of all people? But things had been picking up. Giles had improved incredibly since she had asked him back as a Watcher. Things had been great with Riley. And then of course... everything had shattered. Once again. Just like when Merrick had turned up when she was fifteen. Just like when Angel had lost his soul. Just like when Angel had moved to L.A. But this time, things seemed to be falling onto her shoulders from all sides. Glory - no, she didn't even want to think about Glory right now. It was too terrifying. And Dawn, not being her real sister. And her Mom getting the brain tumour. Then Riley, his disgusting vampire whores and his disappearance into the jungle, away from her. And finally, the damn test the Council had tried to impose on her, again. They had threatened to take Giles away! Buffy shuddered. If they had taken him away from her, she was sure that she would have just died. Without him... who could she hold on to, to stop herself from falling into death's icy jaws?

A sudden noise in the shop made her start. Someone was in there. Someone was walking around. She hadn't heard the door open, nor the glass shatter. Maybe this time, it was it. Death silently slipping in to claim her, idly looking through the jars of magic potions and ingredients, while it waited until the hourglass of Buffy Summers' life was empty. Buffy grabbed her legs harder, pressed herself in a foetal position against the wall, and slowly rocked back and forth more urgently. She knew it had been a prophetic dream, she was sure of it.

'I'm here,' she murmured, nearly to herself. 'I'm here, come and get me fast. Just don't make me wait...' she trembled at her own words, and buried her face against her knees, unwilling to see the skeleton face of the Reaper as it came for her.

***********

'Pray what are you a-weeping for, a-weeping for, a-weeping for?
Pray what are you a-weeping for on a cold and frosty morning?'

Little Slayer was afraid. But she knew that soon, poor weeping Buffy would be with someone who could sing her lullabies and make it all better. She twisted a brown lock around her finger, giggling with delight.

***********

Giles stopped in mid-count and shivered as he heard a faint murmur come from the training room. He felt paralysed, unable to either run away to safety or go and see what was going on in there. The murmur stopped, and he stood there, a chill travelling down his spine, making his hair stand on end and his skin prickle with gooseflesh. He had to know what it was. Perhaps it had been his imagination. Perhaps he had heard someone in the alleyway talking. In any case, he had to investigate. He picked up a baseball bat, that he had decided to keep around the shop in case a demon showed up again, and silently crept to the entrance of the training room. It was completely dark and silent. He couldn't see much further than the dummy and punching bag, until a car pulled by the window and threw light into the farthest recesses of the room. His breath caught in his throat when he saw what he thought was his Slayer.

'Buffy?' he whispered. He hadn't been sure it was her. It could have been an illusion, his tired mind playing tricks on him. He'd seen a pale figure coiled up in the far corner of the room, gold locks the only indicator that it was Buffy. She had seemed so frail, so lifeless, like an empty shell. There was a slight shifting sound in the room, as she straightened a little.

'Giles?' she practically squeaked. Giles felt his heart bash harder in his chest. Her voice was so weak, so broken. He dropped the baseball bat and it rolled on the floor, the sudden noise causing her to gasp.

'Buffy, are you all right?' he asked, alarmed. He fumbled for the light switch, and after a while, abandoned his search to run into the dark - gaining a fresh bruise on his knee as he knocked into the vault horse's aluminium legs - until he saw a glint of gold lit by moonlight. He fell to his knees in front of her.

'Buffy, are you wounded?' he urged worriedly. He heard rather than saw her raise her head from where it had been buried, behind her curled up knees.

'No... I'm not wounded. It's okay,' she said weakly, her voice trembling with what sounded like fear. Giles sought out her wrist, in the dark, and finally closed his hand over it.

'What's wrong?' he asked gently, trying to pull her out of her foetal position so that he could talk to her properly. She pulled her hand out of his grasp, and curled back even more against the wall.

'Nothing,' she muttered. 'Leave me alone,' she added, her voice nearly breaking with tears.

'Buffy, you can put on a brave face and probably fool some people, but you can't fool me. Please... let me help you,' he coaxed gently, laying his hand on her arm once again. He felt her skin break out in gooseflesh, and she shivered violently.

'I... Giles, I'm...' her voice was thick with unshed tears. He decided that she was in no state to argue with him. He gingerly sat down against the wall next to her, and extracted her from the corner, into a strong embrace. She grabbed at him, throwing her arms around his chest, and burst out crying, burying her face in his shirt. Her tears alarmed him. Willow had told him that she had been a little shaky while he was away in England, but he thought that she was getting better by the day. As usual, he had been blind. Now, all he could do was hold her as tight as she was holding him, gently stroking her hair as she sobbed uncontrollably. Her hands were terribly cold - her entire body seemed to be chilled. For an instant, it reminded him of the dream, and he flinched.

Long minutes passed, and Buffy's weeping slowly subsided. Giles felt that his shirt was soaked through, but he didn't give a monkey's. He smoothed down her hair delicately, before letting his fingers roam onto her cheek and wipe the moisture off them gently. Buffy sniffled in response, and slowly relaxed, releasing his chest. She had been holding him in a tight grip, and it was only when she let go that he realised that she'd been crushing his ribs with her Slayer strength. He was certain that he'd have bruises later on, which made him smile fondly.

'Are you going to tell me what's wrong, now?' asked Giles gently. Buffy backed away from him again, to sit against the wall once more. She took a long, deep breath. 'Perhaps we'd better go somewhere brighter, or at least switch the lights on - it's pitch black in here...' continued Giles, wondering if he'd be able to actually find the switch this time around.

'No, Giles...' said Buffy, still sniffling. 'I... feel more comfortable here. In the dark.'

'All right,' replied Giles, sitting against the wall next to her. He had never been so close to her. She hadn't ever cried in his arms before. It wasn't the physical closeness that was most important to him, but the fact that she had been able to let go, to let him see that something was wrong. She always seemed to play brave little soldier in front of him. As if her vulnerability would disappoint him, or something similarly absurd.

'I... never told you what Spike had said about killing the two Slayers,' she murmured softly. Giles frowned.

'Yes, you did, Buffy... you told me that it had been luck more than anything else...'

'Giles!' she interrupted him, and he went quiet. 'I didn't tell you everything.' There was an awkward silence. Giles felt afraid, all of a sudden. The dream came back to his mind, Spike killing her... he shuddered.

'Spike was lucky to kill those two Slayers, because they were... well, ready to die.' Giles felt confused, he narrowed his eyes at best he could to see her through the dark. 'He said that every Slayer has a death wish... 'cause death is their art...' she sighed, while Giles felt an invisible icy hand grip his heart. Could it be that Spike was right? That you merely needed to wait until the Slayer was ready to let herself be killed? The thought was appalling.

'And... you believe what he told you?' asked Giles softly. Buffy sniffed hard, and he heard her wipe her eyes again.

'I... I know that it's true,' she replied. 'I... I let Dracula drink from me... and... and then I had this dream,' said Buffy shakily. Giles could feel that she was trying yet again to make things as businesslike as she could, to show him how she could deal with it. The truth was that he was probably just as terrified as she was of her death. And that obviously neither of them could deal with it.

'What dream?' he said gently. Buffy drew in a long breath.

'I dreamt that I came to Spike so that he could kill me. That I let him kill me,' she said glumly. 'Only it wasn't Spike who bit me. It was...'

'A snake,' let out Giles, feeling horror invading his body completely. They had dreamt the same dream. About her death. He shivered.

'How did you know?' asked Buffy quietly. Giles could hardly breathe.

'I-I had the same... the-there was a-a-a heap of... of snakes, right? They were white? And-and Spike... watched... as one fed off you?' he asked, hearing his voice shake, feeling his tongue catch on every word.

'That's right,' she murmured. 'I guess it really was a prophetic dream. Do Watchers also have them?' Giles shuddered again.

'N-not to-to my knowledge, no. Y-you could... it might be...' he was at loss with words now, panic seizing him completely.

'It might be nothing? You and I had the same dream, how could it be nothing?' Buffy sounded angry.

'I-I wasn't saying that,' he replied. 'It... It could be something else. A possession... someone projecting pictures into our minds - we're on the Hellmouth, after all.'

'Giles... I... I feel that it's coming,' said Buffy quietly. He felt his throat cramp painfully at her words.

'No, Buffy,' he grabbed her hand, feeling that he was about to snap. 'You know that your dreams are signs, not things that are set in stone.' His voice shook with emotion and anger against this thing that was trying to get her. She tried to pull her hand out of his grasp, but he held tight. 'You're not going anywhere, do you hear me?' There was no answer from her, so he grabbed both her arms and pulled her up, until she was standing. He knew that he was no match for a Slayer, that when and if she started fighting back, he was going to get a serious walloping, but he didn't care. At this point, all he could think of was to stop her from losing her mind, from thinking that she was going to die. Because if she did, if she did give in to despair... then maybe Spike would be right. Maybe she really would die. He dragged her through the room, towards the dim light of the front of the shop.

'Why not?' she spat back suddenly, wrenching out of his grasp. 'I'm tired Giles! I've had enough of all this mess!' He fell silent, stunned, as cold and immobile as lead. Buffy started to cry again. 'Don't you think I've lived through enough already?' she asked, her voice breaking. 'The Master. Angelus. Faith. Your stupid Cruciamentum test. Angel leaving. And when I thought that things were finally getting better, I get a triple helping of trouble!' Giles closed his eyes, unable to say a word. He didn't know how to comfort her. Those were things that he could never make better, even if he tried.

'First my Mom gets a brain tumour, then Riley leaves me... and let's not forget Glory - a god! - who wants to get the kid sister that was artificially implanted into my family for me to guard!' Giles winced, biting his lip, feeling tears well up in his eyes. 'There will always be another and another enemy, and every time they'll be stronger, and it'll hurt more. What is there to live for, Giles?'

'Buffy!' he barked at her, moisture rolling onto his cheeks. He wanted her to stop. Because she was right, there probably wasn't anything for her to live for. Because her destiny was cruel and would only make her suffer day after day, before a cruel and probably horrible death claimed her. But it was just too painful to hear it, to see that she was slowly disintegrating. He knew that if she fell, he was going to fall too.

***********

'I'm weeping for my lover, my lover, my lover.
I'm weeping for my lover on a cold and frosty morning.'

The voice went on, with faked sadness. Oh, yes, the Slayer was so sad. Pretty toy soldier had gone away, and now she was all alone. She knew that this couldn't be good. Slayers got all petty when they didn't have a lover. And then they tried to steal hers. And that wouldn't do, would it? That's why they got nasty nightmares, and Watchers to play with.

***********

There was silence for a moment, as Buffy started to hear her Watcher draw sharp breaths and turn away. His sudden shout had stunned her into muteness. He had sounded so desperate for her to stop. She didn't remember ever hearing him quite so terrified. For an instant, she forgot all about her own fear, and stilled her breath. She could hear the quiet sighs of his weeping. For a moment, it seemed surreal. Giles was crying. She had actually been able to make him cry. She felt ashamed of herself.

'Giles...' she murmured gently, walking towards him. She heard him brush his hand against his face, to wipe away the tears.

'I'm sorry I snapped at you,' he said stiffly. 'I simply don't know what to do, Buffy.' She came closer, and laid a hand onto his back. He shivered at the contact, and lost all of his composure. 'But I can't... I can't let you die. Prophecy or destiny, or whatever you want to call it, I'm not going to let you go without a fight.' His voice had been so intense. Buffy was speechless once more. Perhaps she had never realised how much he cared for her. Perhaps she was trying to pretend that neither he nor her friends cared for her, because it would be easier to let go and meet death, that way. Giles slowly turned towards her. His features were dimly lit by the light coming through the window. He was scowling deeply, but had a determined, no-nonsense expression. Before she could react, he had taken hold of her arms once more.

'I'm here to help you, Buffy. I'll always be here. You're the only reason I stayed here in Sunnydale for four long years.' Buffy snorted ironically. Yes, and he had nearly left her this summer. She was still angry with Giles for staying there with her for the bad reasons. It was time she told him.

'Is it 'cause of your Watcher's duty... or 'cause of your father's love for the child I am? Because... I don't want you to stay with me because it's your duty, and I'm not your daughter,' she hissed at him, trying to wriggle out of his grip. She saw his eyes flare, and a shiver ran down her spine. His hands tightened on her arms, and he pulled her to him, slamming her body against his chest. She was so surprised that she didn't even try to fight back.

'Happy you finally made that clear,' he murmured. She stared at him, feeling another kind of apprehension fill her. She hadn't thought of what she had been saying. She didn't know herself what she'd wanted him to reply to her. Actually, she'd probably wanted him to remain silent because he really was staying for the wrong reasons. Anyway, she was pretty sure that she hadn't been waiting for him to deny both his duty and his fatherly love.

'Wh... why, then?' she let out, trembling, uncertain that she actually wanted to hear it. Giles let out a sigh, and she felt his face come closer to hers, until his forehead brushed against hers.

'You are my reason to live, Buffy. I love you. Not like a father, or like a friend, or like a Watcher.' The words were like a slap in her face. Giles loved her. Two feelings came crashing onto her from opposite directions. The first was overwhelming joy. Because, deep down, she knew that she felt the same. Because she didn't want him to belong to anybody else but her. Because she had always loved him too, not like a daughter, or a friend, or a Slayer. However, the other feeling that rose in her was a new kind of terror. Thinking of what she had gone through with Angel, and Parker, and Riley... she didn't want to love him. She didn't want him to go away as they had. She turned her face away from his.

'Oh my God,' was all she managed to squeeze out of her tense throat.

'I wager that wasn't what you wanted to hear, then,' he murmured. Buffy was torn between the need to wrap her arms around his waist and kiss him senseless, and the desire to run out of the room at once.

'I... I didn't expect it,' she replied. 'I don't know what to say.' Giles remained silent for a moment, the tip of his nose lightly touching her cheek, his hot breath warming her frozen skin.

'You don't need to say anything,' he replied quietly, speaking into her ear. She felt a shiver go through her body, sending sparks down her back, right to her lower belly. She pressed her lips and eyes shut against the sensation. She wanted him. It wasn't as if she hadn't ever felt that thrill go through her before, during training, or when his jade eyes held hers with this incredibly intense and sexy look. But at the time, she had just put it down to her overactive Slayer hormones. She hadn't thought that it could be more than that. She hadn't ever thought that he felt the same.

'Giles,' she said, turning her face towards his. He didn't pull back, and their lips were so close that she could nearly feel his against hers. She could hear that his breath was ragged and fast. His hands gripping her arms nearly hurt her, but she didn't care. He pulled her upwards a little more, until her feet nearly left the ground, and their lips met. At first it was soft and gentle. Their closed mouths just pressed together, trailing against each other shyly. Then Giles' lips became bolder, and he kissed her fervently, claiming her mouth as his. She couldn't resist him, couldn't stop the excitement from rising wildly in her body, couldn't refrain from kissing him back. His arms wrapped around her waist and shoulders, pressing her closer against him, trapping her in his warmth. Buffy let out a whimper, her tongue exploring his mouth, her lips sucking at his hungrily. His body was pressed so hard against her that she could feel his erection grinding into her pelvis. One of his hands roamed down her waist, towards her buttocks, and suddenly, she realised what they were doing. She broke off the kiss, although Giles' mouth continued to seek hers out, latching on her cheeks and throat instead.

'Giles,' she murmured, as he continued to kiss every inch of flesh he could reach. 'Giles, please!' she whimpered. His mouth went immobile, then, very slowly, left her face.

'I'm sorry,' he whispered. 'I-I... got carried away.' His arms released her, and she sighed, in both relief and disappointment. She took a step back.

'I... It's okay, I guess,' she replied shakily, licking her lips unconsciously. She wanted more, she wanted him now, hard and fast, against the vault horse. But she knew that it wouldn't be right. That it was dangerous. She let out a sigh. Giles simply stood there, silently, probably not knowing what to say or do. God knew that she didn't want to turn him down. But he would probably get more hurt if she let him go further.

'I... I think I'm gonna... go back home, now,' let out Buffy.

'Yes, b-by all means do... you need some proper sleep,' replied Giles, turning away from her. She heard him remove his glasses to clean them with his handkerchief, which was what he usually did when he felt uncomfortable. She smiled a little. Still the same old Giles, the Giles she loved. That last thought made her shudder with fear. She walked towards him, and laid her hand on his back again.

'Thank you,' she said softly. He turned towards her, making her pull her hand away from him.

'Do you feel a little better?' he asked gently.

'I guess so... that dream really gave me the wig,' she replied.

'Me too, Buffy. But even if it is prophetic... we're there for you.' Buffy nodded, although in the dark he probably couldn't see her. In fact, she didn't have the wiggins about the dream anymore. Now she was freaking because of what Giles had told her. Her whole world had been shattered again... but this time, in a good way. Even so, it was terrifying. She needed some time to understand what was happening, to work out what she wanted to do... what she had to do.

'See you around, yeah?' she said, walking towards the shop's back entrance. Giles simply stood there in silence, and Buffy walked out into the back alley. Once the door was closed again, she broke out into a frantic race until she arrived back home.

***********

'And who will be your lover, your lover, your lover,
And who will be your lover on a cold and frosty morning?'

She smiled as she saw the blonde Slayer emerging from the alley behind the Magic Box. The white tips of her blood red nails plucked the last petals off the daisy she was toying with. Now the Watcher just stood there, shivering and wanting her even more. And little miss Slayer wanted him too. Soon, they would be together, and little Buffy would never come between her and her darling ever again.

***********

Giles had been distracted all day long. He rubbed his neck as he drove home. It was only four in the afternoon, but Anya had practically kicked him out of the shop after he had given the wrong change to a customer - for the third time in the day. Obviously, his very short night's sleep and his conversation with Buffy had worn him out, and he was glad to be going home and straight to bed. When he stopped at the red lights, he took a glance at his face in the rear view mirror. The setting sun caught his strained features. Oh yes, he looked like a wreck, with the dark rings under his slightly puffy eyes, and his five o'clock shadow. He'd been so anxious to leave his house that he hadn't even bothered to shave. No wonder Anya had made him go home, he had probably frightened off the customers, looking like this. He sighed as he parked his car outside his apartment flat complex.

He opened his eyes wide when he saw Buffy sitting on the edge of the fountain, in the small courtyard. She was absent-mindedly dipping her fingers into the water. Giles stopped in his tracks and blinked, to make sure that this wasn't his hopeful imagination. But no. It seemed that she really had come to see him. He felt both pleased to see her again and extremely worried. Perhaps she had come because she was angry about the feelings he had expressed towards her. It sounded stupid: she had made it clear that she didn't see him as a father substitute. Of course, that didn't mean that she considered him as a potential lover. But the kiss had been so intense. She had responded to him, she had held him tight against her. However, she had run away immediately afterwards... which wasn't his idea of how things should have ended, ideally. Giles managed to muster up the courage to come towards her. As he approached, she looked up at him. Her expression was very mixed. There was fear in her eyes, but a shy smile on her lips. Giles responded with pretty much the same feelings. He was happy to see her, but afraid of what she was going to say. Buffy stood up.

'Hey,' she said, a little breathlessly.

'Hello,' he replied, his lips twitching rather than smiling. They remained in an uncomfortable silence for a moment, neither of them knowing what to say next.

'I... wasn't expecting you so early,' let out Buffy, uneasily shifting from one foot to the other and tucking strands of hair behind her ear.

'Well... Anya sent me home early... I-I wasn't very focused... and... well, I look a mess, don't I,' he added.

'I... guess that's my fault...' let out Buffy, toying with the hem of her pullover and looking down at her feet.

'And-and you... why...?' She cleared her throat nervously.

'I... well I tried to sleep, but I really couldn't, so I went to class and I couldn't listen to what the teacher was saying... and I finally figured... I'd be better off waiting for you to come back,' she explained. Giles smiled a little.

'Well... let's go inside, shall we?' he asked. Buffy nodded, and followed him towards the door to his apartment. Giles noticed that she kept a good distance between them now. As if being too close to him physically made her uncomfortable. It was hardly surprising. If she came too close, he wasn't quite sure if he'd be able to refrain from touching her, hugging her, kissing her wildly... he winced and tried to get that idea out of his head.

They silently entered his apartment. Giles switched the lights on, and, by habit, made his way to the kitchen, to put the kettle on. He watched Buffy from the corner of his eye, as he did so. She looked around the place, as if she were seeing it for the first time. Then she made her way to the couch and sat down on it, nervously rocking back and forth. Giles decided to focus his attention on making tea for them, setting cups, spoons, saucers, sugar, milk and a teapot onto a tray. He even added a small plate of biscuits. Anything to avoid having to wait uncomfortably for the water to boil, without having something to occupy his hands and mind. Finally, when the water boiled, he filled the teapot and brought the tray to Buffy. She seemed very nervous. Giles sat on his armchair, while she remained on the couch, still swaying nervously.

'Tea?' he asked her. She abruptly looked up at the tray, then at him, and quickly averted her gaze again. Giles grimaced sarcastically, thinking that she looked even more tense than he was, if that were possible.

'Uh... yeah, tea... great,' she said jumpily. Giles poured her a cup and handed it to her. He couldn't help but notice that her hands were shaking. As a matter of fact, he was also trembling quite obviously. He tried to keep himself busy pouring himself tea, and milk, adding sugar and stirring it all carefully, and Buffy did the same, although very absently. The silence was pressing on him like lead, the wait was dreadful. Finally, Buffy put her cup and saucer down, and cleared her throat.

'Okay... I... I guess I'd better just...' she swallowed hard. 'Well... well actually, I had even written it down... but now I've forgotten my lines,' she cleared her throat again, nervously. Giles smiled a little, and lay his cup onto the coffee table. Buffy stood up, and started to pace nervously around the room. He watched her, unable to avert his gaze from her pretty slender body. Her high-heeled sandals clapped on the ground as she moved. She was wearing a red short-sleeved turtleneck top and a pair of fitted grey trousers. Her hair was held up in a rather messy bun, and she generally looked... incredibly different from the Buffy he had met four years ago. She had matured a lot. Aged, perhaps. But he nevertheless found her incredibly beautiful.

'Uh, I don't know where to start,' sighed the Slayer. Giles now noticed that she had blushed a little.

'Maybe... maybe I-I could... help?' he offered. Buffy looked at him, with a slightly dubious look on her face. She obviously believed that he wasn't any good at this kind of conversation, and she was probably right, too. But finally, she looked down at her shoes, and smiled a little.

'Well... you can try,' she said softly.

'First of all... w-what... exactly... do... do you wish to-to discuss?' he asked, trying to seem sensible and in control, when in fact he was panicking incredibly.

'I... I wanted to...' Buffy grimaced a little. 'To talk about... what you said to me. About how... you said you feel about me.' Giles mouthed an 'oh' and nodded, feeling his entire body start to tremble. 'You said you...' Buffy blushed until her face nearly matched her top. 'You... you said that you loved me...'

'Y-yes... I...' he sighed, feeling incredibly awkward. 'I-I didn't mean to-to make you feel uncomfortable. You... you must know that... e-even if... if it's my greatest wish... I-I don't expect you to... feel the same.' He was actually amazed at how smoothly - relatively speaking, of course - that had come out. Buffy sighed a little, and came back to sit on the couch.

'I... still don't know what to say. Which is stupid, 'cause I was sure that I did have something to say when I came to see you...' she laughed nervously, and Giles smiled at her fondly. 'I guess... I feel I do have to say... something...' Giles felt a shiver go through his entire body.

'P-please, do. You... needn't spare me, you know,' he nearly whispered the last sentence. She looked up at him, and he felt that he was melting under her gaze. Her eyes were gentle and sad. Then she looked away again, and stared at the window as she spoke.

'Giles... I can't. I just... I'm too afraid,' she said, finally. Giles frowned a little, trying to understand what exactly she was trying to tell him.

'Can't what? Too afraid to do what, Buffy?' he asked gently. There was a long silence, until he heard her sniffle. Forgetting his British stiff upper lip, Giles got out of his armchair and sat behind Buffy, close to her, taking her hand in his. She let out a short sob. He didn't want to insist and to make her suffer more than she already seemed to be. So, he simply stroked her hand a little.

'I was hurting so much after Angel,' she said, her voice trembling. 'I thought that if I found someone nice and safe, things would be okay. That I'd feel better, that I'd forget him. And I did. With Riley. But... he went away too. Can you believe that? I... I even managed to make rebound-guy run away into a foreign country!' Giles held her hand tighter.

'But I'm not going anywhere, Buffy,' he whispered into her ear. 'Whatever you say or do, I'm not going to leave you.' She snatched her hand away from his.

'Yeah? That's not what I heard from Willow, you know,' she muttered, her voice shaking, as she turned around to face him. Her cheeks were streaked with tears and her eyes were immense puddles. Giles gritted his teeth, angry with Willow, and with himself. 'You were going to leave. If I hadn't asked you to be my Watcher again, you would have left.' Giles let out a sigh.

'I suppose I might have, yes,' he replied. 'I... I was feeling useless, and alone, Buffy.' She sighed, and wiped her face with the back of her hand, turning away from him again.

'Yeah, well... it looks like I can make guys feel like that even when I'm dating them,' she murmured. Giles laid a hand on her shoulder and stroked gently. He felt her shiver under his touch, but she didn't push him away.

'Is that what you're afraid of? That I'll leave you?' he asked softly. She sniffed.

'I'm afraid that you'll leave me, yeah... if... if I get too close,' she whispered. 'That's what happened with all the other guys. God, it even happened with my Dad. I don't want it to happen with you.' Giles felt her pain shoot through his heart like an arrow. So, that was it? The Slayer was supposed to stay alone, whatever happened? He couldn't accept that. Without thinking, he wrapped his arms around her waist, and leant into her, laying his chin on her shoulder.

'Giles, why are you doing this?' she sighed. 'You're making it even harder for me. I told you, I can't...' her voice broke as tears rolled down her cheeks again, but he held her tight.

'What can't you do?' he whispered into his ear.

'I can't love you, Giles. It's... it's too dangerous.' He felt a flicker of hope ignite in his heart. She wanted to, though. It was obvious now, that she wanted to be with him. This was why she was so upset, because she was afraid... of losing him.

'It's not something you choose to do, Buffy. It's something you feel, or not,' he replied gently. Buffy sobbed, and he held her waist tighter.

'But I don't want to,' she brought her hands to her face. 'I'd die without you, Giles.' A warm glowing feeling went through his chest. When she had said that he was the one thing that she couldn't lose, she hadn't been exaggerating, then. She really did feel the same as he did. He pressed his cheek against hers.

'And I'd die without you, Buffy. As soon as I met you, I knew that. That I could never lose you. Have I ever abandoned you?' he asked softly.

'Well... what about Olivia?' she growled at him, and he winced a little.

'Olivia is an adventurer. She comes and goes as she pleases, and she doesn't get too attached to anybody. When Anya called her an orgasm friend, although it's very crude, I think it's also very true. She's no more than a friend. Who comforted me when I was feeling lonely.' Buffy let out a sigh.

'I felt so bad when I came in here and she was there,' she muttered angrily. Giles smirked a little.

'Jealous?' Buffy half turned towards him, so that she could glare at him.

'You're enjoying this way too much,' she grumbled. 'Besides, I was kinda trying to tell you that I don't want to have a relationship with you.' Giles pulled back a little. That comment had the effect of a cold shower.

'Is there nothing I can say or do to make you change your mind?' he asked quietly. She let out a long sigh.

'Giles... I dunno. I'm just so confused. I don't want to rush into anything. Not after what happened with Riley... I mean... it isn't that long since he bailed... hardly a month.' Giles nodded a little, and couldn't resist placing a little kiss in her cheek.

'I've waited for you four years long. I'll wait all my life if I have to,' he said, trailing his lips down her face, to her neck. 'Only, perhaps in fifteen years' time, I won't be fully functional anymore,' he added with a small grin.

'In fifteen years, Giles, odds are I'll be dead and buried for a long time already,' said Buffy darkly. Giles held her closer to him, but removed his lips from her skin. 'Do you really want a girlfriend who has an expiration date?' He felt tears sting his eyes. Speaking, even thinking of her death was the most unbearable thing for him.

'I want no other,' he answered, hugging her close. 'Buffy, there is nothing you can say or do to make me stop loving you; to make me stop longing to touch you, to kiss you; to make me stop wishing to wake up by your side every morning of your life, however short it is.'

There was a silence, as Giles buried his face against Buffy's shoulder, breathing in her warm scent. Her skin smelled of vanilla. Not simply the cheap, synthetic smell of shower gels and air fresheners, but a rich, heady, sensual perfume. He thought that he could stay here forever, lost in her heat. His hands were closed around her waist, and he suddenly felt moisture fall onto them. He held her tighter while more of her tears landed on his hands and arms.

Buffy gently nudged herself out of his embrace. He reluctantly drew back, thinking that she was going to run away again. But she simply turned on her seat and faced him. Her eyes were still full of tears, but they shone with something that hadn't been there before, a joyous brightness. A small smile curled her lips.

'You really are Mister Emotional Marathon Man, aren't you?' she asked. 'You never give up!' He chuckled a little.

'I suppose that's one way to describe me, yes,' he said with a smile.

'What am I going to do with you? I mean, how am I supposed to resist that look you're giving me?' she said with a small grin. Giles raised a brow, and continued watching her. 'Stop looking at me like that,' she tried to command. He tilted his head to the side and tried his best to give her a seductive gaze. 'Giles!' Buffy protested, turning away, blushing a little and nearly laughing in her attempt to look outraged.

'I have no idea of what you're talking about,' said Giles with a grin. Buffy gave him a dirty look.

'Who am I trying to kid, eh, Giles?' she said softly, moving closer to him. 'I'm still terrified. But I know it's gonna happen. Today, or tomorrow, or in a week, a month, a year... time isn't going to change how I already feel,' she sighed, and smiled up at him. He felt himself start to tremble in anticipation now. 'The only problem is that I don't know if I have a month or a year to live,' she continued gently, reaching out to stroke his cheek with the tip of her fingers. He felt his throat knot, and swallowed hard. 'I guess I might as well seize the day,' she whispered finally. Giles felt his entire body tense at her words. He hardly dared to believe what he thought she was trying to tell him.

'What are you saying?' he whispered hoarsely.

'I'm saying that I love you, and that I want to be with you, as long as I live,' she answered softly. His breath caught in his throat and he closed his eyes. He felt dizzy with emotion, and forced himself to blink back tears of joy. Slowly, Buffy leant towards him and her fingers tangled into his hair, while her thumb stroked his earlobe. He took in an aching breath and bent towards her, until their lips were only inches apart. They stayed there for instants that seemed like an eternity, immobile as statues, holding their breath. Then, finally, Buffy made the distance to his lips, and kissed him gently. He revelled in the sensation of her warm mouth on his, so gentle and soothing. He hardly dared to touch her, in case this was all a dream that would break when he moved. But when Buffy's lips became bolder, when they started to suck at his, when her tongue darted out to trace the rim of his lower lip, his passion exploded. He grabbed her waist and pulled her onto his lap, so that he could plunder her mouth with his tongue, taste her raspberry lipstick, entwine his lips with hers. Time didn't seem to exist within this blissful kiss, only the sensation of her body against his, her arms wrapping around his waist, his fingers discovering the soft flesh of her arms... Giles believed he truly was in heaven. Then Buffy slowly drew back, reaching behind her head to fidget with the hairpin that held her chignon together.

'It's difficult to believe,' she murmured, looking at him intensely, a small smile on her lips. Giles stared up at her, his breath short. The hairpin was removed, and her locks tumbled down onto her shoulders like a cascade of gold. He was mesmerised by the vision.

'What, Buffy?' he asked quietly.

'How good this feels,' she said, kissing him again. 'How right this feels,' she added, her lips still entwining with his passionately. 'How much I love you,' she whispered finally, her lips closing over his once more. Giles felt his heart pound with violent emotion, love, desire and joy all mingling into one overwhelming feeling. He pulled her hard against his chest and ravaged her mouth, sweeping through it with his tongue until a moan escaped her throat. Her hips pressed harder against his bulging crotch, her hands started to move over his pale blue shirt, trying to open the buttons. Soon his hands found their way under her pullover, discovering the silky skin of her back, while she pulled his shirt aside and started to run her fingers through the fine down on his chest. He felt as if he were on fire, in fact he could hardly breathe. Surely, he was going to die with arousal. And the way Buffy tugged at his clothes and pressed her round breasts into his chest was doing nothing to help him.

Moaning with desire, Giles pushed her back a little, pulling her red turtleneck over her head, so that he could at last see those round breasts that he had only ever dreamed of. They were cupped in a creamy white silk bra, delicate lace enhancing rather than hiding them. Giles licked his lips, feeling his breath catch in his throat. She was so beautiful, so perfect. Buffy seemed to grow impatient with his silent admiration of her bust. She gently took hold of his left hand, and made him trace the outline of her waist, bringing it upwards to her breasts. Giles smiled crookedly at her and trailed his fingers over her skin, ever so slowly. She whimpered impatiently, grinding her pelvis against his erection. He smiled at her once he arrived at her breast, and ran his fingers over to her back. She groaned in frustration. Then he suddenly pulled her up, so that her groin pressed against his stomach and her breasts were level with his face. He buried his nose between them, biting at the fine lace of her underwear until he heard her unfasten it, and felt it fall away slowly. His lips discovered her skin, his tongue trailed around her nipples endlessly, before he finally sucked the taut bud into his mouth and teased it mercilessly. Buffy let out a long mewling moan, throwing her head back in pleasure, pressing her knee between his thighs. Giles grabbed her waist and stopped her from bucking her hips against him as his lips and teeth latched on her other nipple. If he wanted to keep from exploding right away under her sensuous movements, he had to take control. But Buffy took advantage of the occasion to start unzipping him. He grunted, his lips still moving wildly over her breasts, and his achingly hard erection begging to be let out.

Buffy slowly sat back onto his lap, drawing her bust away from his face, and looked at him straight in the eye. Her grey eyes had nearly turned black, and her lips were swollen with desire. She was the most beautiful goddess he had ever beheld. Slowly, she slipped a finger down his chest, making him shudder uncontrollably. Her long nail grazed his skin pleasantly, and he squirmed against her touch. She soon reached his erection, that bulged in his tight boxer shorts. Her finger ran over the cloth of his underwear, causing him to gasp and groan with desire. He clenched his teeth, feeling himself pulsate under her touch. Buffy finally cupped him in both her hands and massaged gently. He grabbed her harder, growling loudly as his arousal drove him mad. Buffy's lips curled into a smile and she bent forward to kiss his lips, her hands releasing him. Giles sighed in relief, knowing that any more fondling would have most certainly thrown him right over the edge. He pulled her closer, kissing her deeply, mimicking with his tongue what he intended to do with the hard shaft she had just been toying with. Buffy shivered against him, and suddenly got up.

Giles watched, panting, as Buffy smiled down at him. She set her foot onto the coffee table, and started to work on the multiple straps that held her sandals closed. Giles' fascinated eyes followed her every move, as she rid herself of her shoes, slowly, one after the other. Then she stood before him, and unfastened the button that closed the top of her trousers. She slipped a hand under the waistband, and Giles felt desire shoot through him like a lightning bolt, as he thought of what those trousers were hiding. Buffy worked the zipper down and slipped her trousers off her hips, her movements tantalisingly slow. Giles swallowed hard as he saw her standing before him, in his sitting room, entirely naked but for a pair of lace and silk panties. Buffy held out a hand for him, and he grasped it, extracting himself from his chair so that he could pull her body against his and kiss her lips fiercely. As their mouths meshed, he felt her pull his trousers off, and he helped by kicking away his shoes as best he could. His erection pressed hard against her stomach, only separated from her skin by the thin layer of cotton. Buffy's hands roamed onto his buttocks, pinching them, filling her palms with his flesh, and Giles ground into her even harder, while she pressed her moist panties against his thigh. Soon he grabbed her buttocks into his hands, grazing them slightly with his nails, his lips still passionately sucking at hers.

'I want you,' he growled between two savage kisses. She nearly bit him in her frenzy.

'Take me, Giles, I want you so much...' she panted, her hands slowly moving to the waistband of his shorts. He let her pull his underwear down, and discover his swollen member. He saw her eyes hungrily run over it, and then her fingers came to discover his skin. He let out a moan as she touched him and pressed himself into her hand. She closed her fingers around him, and he bit his lip hard to refrain from crying out loud. He gently took hold of her wrist and removed her hand from his shaft. She looked up at him in wonder, and he simply smiled and drew her close, to kiss her again. He backed towards the couch with her, running his hands over her satin buttocks and thighs, pushing her panties down a little more with each movement. Soon, her underwear dropped to the ground, and Giles grabbed her waist to sit on the couch, drawing her onto his lap as he did so. Buffy kissed him harder and faster, pressing her swollen bud against the underside of his member, shuddering at the sensation. Giles cupped her buttocks in his hands, pressing her moist core against his erection, guiding her movements until she started to moan aloud and buck her hips. He kissed her deeply as he made her rise above his hard shaft, until its tip slipped between her soaked lips. He gnashed his teeth at her mouth as he let her move down onto him, and moaned in bliss.

Her burning channel sheathed him entirely, its tight walls closing around him hungrily, as if to keep him there forever. Giles released Buffy's lips and threw his head back, as she started to move over him. She grabbed him tight, pressing her breasts into his chest, rubbing her nipples against his flesh. Her voice rose in short moans of pleasure as she thrust her hips against him, and he joined her in her song of love, his growls and gasps of pleasure mixing with hers. Buffy's movements became erratic, she whimpered and dug her nails into his shoulders, burying her face against his throat as her buttocks rose and fell, as her hungry sheath closed over him. Giles responded to her movements, thrusting in rhythm with her, feeling that he was no longer able to hold back. His loins were boiling, his body tightened as he hugged Buffy to his chest. She screamed into his ear as he felt her body spasm, her opening pulsating around his hard member, grabbing at it, pulling him into ecstasy with her. He cried out her name as her orgasm made him explode, as semen gushed out into her womb, as he finally released all his pleasure. He felt like everything had stopped, his heartbeat was gone, he couldn't draw another breath, and time itself was hanging still, as the most incredible pleasure came over him. He had died - he had surely died and arrived into heaven.

'Giles?' Buffy's voice brought him back to reality. He took in a sharp breath and threw his head back as he slowly came down from paradise.

'Oh my God,' he whispered, feeling his heart pound so violently in his chest that he believed that it might stop any minute now. Buffy removed her face from his shoulder, and kissed his lips gently. Giles opened his eyes again to see tears streaking her cheeks. He gently reached out to touch her. She smiled and wiped her face a little.

'I'd never... it was so powerful that I just started crying,' she explained, kissing his hand.

'God yes,' he gasped, smiling a little. 'I thought that I was going to die... are you sure I still have a pulse?' Buffy smiled and pressed her head to his chest.

'You bet. I love that sound,' she murmured. 'I love you.' He threw his head back and did his best to refrain from crying too, his heart was brimming with joy. For a while, they remained immobile, panting in their ecstasy, tears still rolling down Buffy's cheeks as she released all the emotions she had been holding back. Finally, he drew her closer and kissed the salt of her tears off her cheeks.

'I love you too, Buffy,' he murmured as he kissed her. 'I'll always love you.' he added. Buffy wrapped her arms around his waist and snuggled against him, curled up like a kitten. Giles' arms held her tight, protecting her frail yet powerful body, promising himself to never let her go. Sleep started to claim them and they greeted it, content.

'Forever,' sighed Giles, his voice a velvety whisper in her ears as she fell into the darkness of slumber.

***********

'Now you're married you must obey,
You must be true in all you say.
You must be kind and you must be good,
And help your wife to chop the wood.'

She clapped her hands with a happy chuckle, watching the couple nestle in the Watcher's sitting room. She knew that they were made for each other. She could smell it on the air whenever they were together. Picking a primrose from one of the flower pots on the Watcher's window sill, she started to walk away, nearly dancing for joy.

'See, Primrose, now poor Buffy isn't a-weeping anymore,' she cooed at the flower, then giggled. A light wind rustled in her long brown locks and she shivered in delight.

'I'm going to tell you my story, pretty Primrose. My Spike is bewitched by the Slayer. But I couldn't kill her, could I? He wouldn't love me anymore, he'd just be angry and miserable,' she pouted. 'Ungrateful Childe! Rrrr!' she growled, and bit a petal off the flower.

'But nobody said she couldn't find another true love. One he'll never ever be able to fight. So I brought her and her lover together with one silly little nightmare. And soon my Spike will be all mine again! Just give it some time,' she chuckled and ran her hands over her red velvet dress.

'Give it some time,' she repeated, revelling in her victory, before starting to walk back to the mansion where she had taken refuge. It wouldn't be long now before her Childe came running back to her. And Drusilla knew that the Slayer would never come between them again. She would be far too busy with the love of her life.