Dare You

AUTHOR: katekat
EMAIL: sibylla@gmail.com
SUMMARY: Buffy needs a study partner who can actually help her pass tests. What happens when the finals are over, though? Written in response to PhenDog's Fabulous Finals Challenge
SPOILERS: 4th season, the morning after “A New Man”. Although I screwed with the time-line a little, so Buffy is in her second semester at college.
DISCLAIMER: These characters aren’t mine. Plot lines aren’t even really mine. All hail the mighty and benevolent Joss for making it all possible.
FEEDBACK: Welcomed and appreciated.
DATE: 6/8/2004
Notes: - -Thoughts- - * Emphasis * To my late night betas, the readers who made this story coherent, Rainne, Linda & ElizaBuffy: you are eagle-eyed and I thank you.

Chapter I

There was absolutely no justice in the universe. Which is why Buffy found herself at an 8 a.m. psych final, sitting next to a frighteningly perky Willow, hoping against hope that some demon would break through the windows at the back of the room looking for slayage. She was almost hoping for something hideous and spiny to rear its ugly head and roar at her frightened classmates; that she could handle. Heck, she thought, maybe if Maggie Walsh saw her actually slay something she’d have more faith in Slayers. She looked over at Riley and tried to smile; he looked cute, trying to be encouraging, but her current predicament was partially his fault. Besides, his smile wasn’t going to help her fill a blue book with enough text to pass, particularly because she’d truly meant to study at some point in the last three weeks, but it just hadn’t happened.

It wasn’t right; studying was supposed to be done in the dark hours between midnight and six a.m. giving you enough time to cram it into your head, but not enough time to forget it. She’d learned enough about college in the last couple of months to know peak brain times were in the dead of night. Instead of studying, she had to be out there slaying. When she wasn’t on patrol, she was hanging out with Riley, and whenever she tried to crack the books, he did something to distract her. She wasn’t about to open a book to study during the day. She was sure she’d heard someone in the cafeteria say something about your retention powers in daylight; they were at like 50% of norm. Besides, it was just unnatural to crack books in the middle of the afternoon.

Stupid Ethan Rayne. She should’ve hurt him – more than she already had – when she’d had the chance. Besides wreaking havoc on Giles, he was screwing with her grade point average! She’d truly meant to study last night, but instead she’d practically killed Giles. Poor Giles! She squirmed in her seat again at the close call. And why did Ethan always pick on her and her friends? Didn’t he have anything better to do? She hoped wherever they stuck him was a cold, unfriendly, icky magic-less prison. It was what he deserved. Especially for attacking Giles.

She was still in shock about that. She couldn’t believe she didn’t realize more quickly that the Fyarl demon was, in fact, Giles. Maybe she should just quit college and start learning demon languages, in case it ever happened again. At least then, she’d understand the growls. Maybe Giles would teach her. . . stranger things had happened. He was a much better teacher than any other person from whom she’d learned – except maybe for Willow – that woman was a total teaching fiend. Maybe she could just go to the “School of Giles and Willow”, and then she’d never have to worry about tests again.

Although, come to think of it, Willow was kind of test happy. She remembered Willow catching her up to speed after her expulsion in high school; Willow’s quizzes were way harder than the actual tests. And Giles was always coming up with those pesky little challenges which she was supposed to rise to. That would never work. Damn. Another brilliant Buffy idea down the drain.

Okay, focus, focus, focus. Next question:

20. Which theory suggests that altruistic behavior is governed by calculations of rewards and costs? Give an example of this type of behavior.

Oh god – how was she going to write a paragraph about this one? Did slaying vampires for cookies count?

Somehow, she thought not.

Chapter II

Willow looked over at Buffy’s frowning expression and the blank page of her test booklet, and then back at her own test. She was going to need another book to write in. She could go on and on about every single answer. It helped that Maggie Walsh was so exacting. It challenged her in ways that high school hadn’t bothered with. Who knew essay tests could be so much fun?

It was too bad for Buffy, though. She knew Buffy hadn’t studied. The last time Willow had talked to her about going to the library, Buff had muttered something about not being able to retain information in daylight. Willow knew from that moment on, there was really no convincing her. Buffy would have to come around on her own to the whole studying thing. She wondered if she could convince Giles to talk to her. Maybe he could get through where a friend and roommate couldn’t. Especially since Buffy seemed determined now to stop neglecting him. Finally. She was so tired of reminding Buffy he was around.

This morning, over pre-test coffees, Buffy had pledged to actually make time for her Watcher. She looked so contrite over the rim of her mug; Willow hadn’t had the heart to chastise her about it anymore. Anyway, if Buffy said she was going to do something, she’d do it. Willow only hoped it would lessen the constant Riley-induced vagueness. Willow was all for smoochies and stuff, but – and she’d only admit this to herself – Buffy was getting just a little obnoxious about her boyfriend. It wasn’t just that Willow had lost her own boyfriend; she was getting a little tired of being supportive friend. It wasn’t that Riley was so bad. He did fit the college boy image pretty well, except for the whole urban commando thing, but he was never really going to keep up with Buffy. Even Xander had seen that. At least he was better than Parker was.

Oops! She only had another 15 minutes to finish the last question! Moreover, she’d barely filled out half the pages in her book. If she didn’t start writing now, all the studying goodness would have gone down the drain. There’s no way she was going to let that happen. She had personal standards to maintain, after all!

Chapter III

“I so totally flunked that test; there’s no way I’m going to pass this class,” a tired and thwarted Buffy complained to Willow after they’d handed in their tests. “I thought Psyche 101-B was supposed to be easier than 101! Willow, I’m never going to listen to you again about picking classes.”

“Buffy, it was easier than Psyche 101. Maybe next time you should open the book before you sit down to take the test,” replied a slightly defensive Willow. “You know, that whole thing they call studying? It can actually happen for you, too.”

“I know, I know. It’s just that this whole year, there hasn’t been time for the whole school/study type thing, and being in another class with Riley as the TA hasn’t helped. Every time we start to study, we kind of get distracted.” Buffy’s face broke into a slightly silly grin. Then she frowned, “I didn’t have these problems in high school when I got distracted by Angel. Will, I just had a horrible thought: do you think I’m getting dumber as I’m getting older? Maybe my brains are leaking out every time I get hit on the head by a vampire!”

“Buffy, does Giles get any dumber when he gets hit? I think not. You know the reason why you did better in high school was that you actually used to study for tests. I remember a certain Watcher who used to quiz you on patrol.” Willow said with a ‘not-so-subtle hint’ tone of voice.

Buffy brightened, “Will! you’re a genius! I solve my hanging out with Giles agenda, and get the benefits of his brain! This is perfect. All I have to do is convince him to patrol with me again. Do you think he’ll do it?” She got a warm feeling in her stomach at the thought. Finally, an excuse to hang out with her Watcher which she didn’t have to feel guilty about. She only hoped he wouldn’t be able to say no to this, or tell her she needed to do it on her own.

“Buffy, in case you hadn’t noticed, our British gentleman of leisure has plenty of time on his hands. I think he’d totally go for it.”

“I don’t know what I’d do without you, you brilliant academienne you!” Buffy gushed, and spontaneously hugged her red-haired friend.

“If you’re handing out hugs,” a male voice from behind Buffy and Willow started, “I’d like to get in line.” Riley walked up as Buffy turned and stepped into his waiting arms. “What’s all the hugging about?”

“Willow came up with the world’s best way to fix my sad studying habits; I’m going to ask Giles to dust off our exciting slaying & studying combo from high school,” Buffy gushed happily.

“Giles? What can he do?” Riley said with a frown. “I can help you study. That’s what boyfriends are for, right? Especially upperclassmen.”

Buffy smacked him on the stomach. “Riley, seriously, when was the last time we actually studied? Besides, there’s no way I’m going to pass Psych 101-B. If I flunk the rest of my finals this week, I won’t be able to stay in college. Other than Willow, Giles is the best tutor on the planet. He’s one of the smartest people I know. . . and he’s handy with swords and chainsaws so he can help me while I’m on patrol.”

Riley bristled. Buffy wasn’t sure if he looked like he was going to say something about her not needing to patrol anymore, or make mention of a chainsaw wielding Giles, but she hoped he would do neither.

They’d already had a couple of mini-fights about patrolling. Riley seemed to think that she needed to either be a part of the commando team, or not out in the night at all. Buffy had countered with the fact that slaying was in her blood. Furthermore, Maggie Walsh wouldn’t even let her into the complex, much less on the team. Riley kept telling her it was just going to take some time, and that she needed to stay under the radar until he could convince his commanding officer. But Buffy wasn’t going to stop patrolling just because her boyfriend told her to, no matter how cute and distracting he tried to be. It was beginning to be a little bit of a sticky subject. Then, last night, after they’d rescued Giles, Riley had started asking questions about their relationship and not really understanding her answers.

Buffy ignored the look on his face, not wanting to get into discussion about it again, and started to think about running over to Giles’ apartment to ask if he’d patrol with her tonight.

Chapter IV

Surprise. Complete and utter surprise. That was the expression that greeted Buffy’s study request. It was as if she’d suddenly switched to another language. Here he was, putting his apartment back together after the damage he’d done as a Fyarl demon, and she’d wandered in the door and asked him to help her study. Stranger things had happened in his life – recently, even – but it still caught him off guard.

Once it really sank in that his Slayer was asking him to spend time with her, he couldn’t control the grin that threatened to break out. It didn’t help that she was standing in front of him with those gigantic puppy-dog eyes that she only used when she thought she could get away with it. Her winsome expression had always made him want to laugh at her, just a little, because he could see right through it.

“You know I can’t say no to you when you look at me like that,” he groused, trying unsuccessfully to hide his smile.

“That’s precisely why I only use it on special occasions, Giles.” Buffy grinned triumphantly, “But this qualifies as an emergency, and you’re the only one who can take on the tough and dirty jobs like these!” She knew she’d gotten her way as soon as he started speaking. She could always tell when he was going to give in, because the smile reached his eyes before he opened his mouth. It was strangely good to be around the man she could read like a book – even if he could read her too.

“So, what subjects do we need to review? I know you had a final this morning, but how many more do you have?” asked her newly appointed teacher.

“Ummm . . . Philosophy’s on Tuesday, Dionysus & Ritual and Conceptual Physics are on Friday. That means we have one day to cover a couple hundred years of theory, and then another day to help me figure out Ovid and some other Greeks, and a bunch of math. Think you can handle it?” she challenged.

“Dionysus & Ritual? What are they teaching in that college? And am I to presume you haven’t done a stitch of reading?” Giles asked.

“I’ve skimmed!” defended Buffy.

“Did you attend classes, at least? Perhaps some knowledge crept in through lecture?” He returned.

“Yes, Giles,” Buffy rolled her eyes, “some knowledge definitely stole its way into my brain. C’mon – you can’t think that badly of me. I was mostly a good student in high school! And I’ve really only missed a couple of classes this entire semester. It’s just the whole ‘cracking the books’ thing that I don’t have the hang of, which is why major reinforcements like you are called for. Meet you at Restfield Cemetery at sundown?”

“You bring the books, I’ll bring the coffee,” Giles replied.

“Great! Just like old times. Did I tell you how much I appreciate this? If I haven’t yet – Giles, I really, really, really appreciate this. You’re the best Watcher a Slayer could have.”

She knew she wasn’t really supposed to, but she hugged him in thanks, and was pleasantly surprised at the strength of his returned hug. It made her stomach flutter. Oh well, it was probably just pre-test nerves. At least she’d be armed with Giles-instilled knowledge to counteract them.

Chapter V

She backhanded him, and then spun and kicked him against the gravestone. He flailed against it for a second, and then rebounded to launch a punch at her face. She caught his hand and slammed Mr. Pointy into his chest. After brushing the vampire dust off her shoulder, she turned to answer Giles, who was perched on another handy gravestone, in jeans and a t-shirt with a book open on his lap. “Immanuel Kant was . . . isn’t he the one that declared God was dead?”

Giles sighed. This was indeed, going to be a very long night. “No Buffy, that was Nietzsche. Kant said almost the exact opposite. The existence of God was, for Kant, but one of three postulates of morality, the other two being freedom of the will, and immortality of the soul. You know, you might want to remember him. His Critique of Pure Reason is a very interesting read.”

Buffy started to pout while trying to think up a sarcastic response, but saw a vampire sneaking behind Giles, trying to grab him. With a cry of “Duck!” she leapt over a gravestone to push Giles to the ground. They both hit with a thud, the vampire looming over them. Buffy kicked out and watched her foot connect with the newly risen vamp. With a satisfying thud, he slammed into one arm of a wooden cross sticking out of a handy gravestone and exploded.

“That’ll teach them to sneak up on my Watcher. I wonder if he’s finding out just how non-immortal he was? So much for his vaunted freedom of will.” Buffy grinned down and saw the laugh bubble up from the depths of his eyes.

“I don’t think that’s quite what Kant was thinking of, Buffy. But if that’s what it takes for you to remember his theories, I’m a happy man.” He smiled up at her, knowing this was one question she’d probably get right. The combination of physical and mental had always worked best for Buffy. It was so pleasant to just look at her smiling down at him that at first he didn’t realize she was still lying with her body covering his. Then he noticed…quite a bit. He only hoped she didn’t. He’d gotten adept over the years at covering for these minor tell-tales of his body reacting to hers. Buffy only continued to grin at him and, after a second, stood up and offered him her hand.

“Sorry about that Giles. I didn’t see him moving until he was almost at your back.”

“Thank you for getting me out of the way of his teeth, Buffy. I should have been more aware. Luckily, I have a handy guardian to make sure my back’s covered.”

As they stood and smiled at each other, Buffy realized she’d just pushed Giles out of the way and saved him and there was no awkwardness. It was so refreshing to not have the awkward. Every time she tried to convince Riley that she was pushing him down for his protection, he got all defensive. She realized that Giles had always welcomed her protection. Somehow, that seemed right; after all, she was the stronger one. He could handle himself in a fight, she knew that, but he trusted her instincts, too. She heard a noise behind her and turned to find Riley with his hands on his hips.

“Studying, huh? Is this how you study?” He looked confused and a little hurt. “I come out here and check to make sure you’re doing okay and find you in the middle of a cemetery lying on your ‘tutor’?”

“Riley? What’s the big? A vampire can’t be staked in this town without you following it?” Buffy returned; a little confused at the accusation in her boyfriend’s tone. Giles stood behind her, silently wondering what on earth Buffy had said to Riley to make him jealous of . . . him.

‘”I thought you could use some help and came out to find you. There seemed to be a lot of vampire activity tonight and I didn’t want you to be alone.”

”Hello? Riley? Not alone here. Giles is here.” Buffy stuck her thumb behind her, very conscious of the supportive bulk of her Watcher’s body behind her. “Besides, I’m the Slayer, remember? The one that’s been killing vampires for years before you came along. I think I can handle a couple of vamps.”

“So sue me for worrying about you. I thought we agreed you weren’t going to go out patrolling by yourself anymore!” Riley returned.

As Buffy looked at him in shock, Giles broke in from behind her shoulder, “Buffy, maybe we should call it a night. You and Riley don’t need me here for this conversation.” Buffy twisted her head to look at him.

“No. Giles, I really need to study if I’m going to pass this final. I can’t even tell one philosopher from another at this point. I need your help. Besides, Riley and I had this same conversation two nights ago, and apparently, he didn’t listen to me then. I don’t think having a repeat will change that.” She turned back to Riley, “Riley, WE didn’t agree on anything. I’m going to say this once more, and if you don’t listen, we may not have anything more to talk about, ever. I’m the SLAYER. I learned a long time ago that my job comes with responsibilities. I’m not just going to abandon them because you think it’s best. I will go out on patrol until I’m physically incapable of doing so. I don’t need your squad to do my job.”

She went on, “Let me demonstrate: raise your hand if you’ve saved the world at least once.”

She raised her hand, and continued. “Raise your hand if you’ve *helped* save the world more than once. This means you Giles.” She kept her arm in the air as she felt Giles bring up his hand. He felt silly, but understood the point she was trying to make. He wondered how Riley could have been so blind about Buffy.

She glared at the now chagrined Riley. “All those with hands at their sides, leave!” He looked at her, mouth slightly open in shock. Then her words sank in, and his mouth audibly snapped shut.

He returned an angry mutter, “Fine then, just stay out here and ‘study’ with your ‘Watcher’. You two can defend the world from darkness without me. See if I care!” He about-faced, and walked into the darkness.

Chapter VI

“Coffee?” The tentative question from her Watcher made Buffy sigh. They’d watched Riley leave and canvassed the rest of the cemetery in silence. Now, approaching Sunnydale Cemetery, she realized she was going to have to say something about her relationship, or non-relationship. She felt oddly relieved that she’d had another fight with Riley, and that it kind of seemed like it might be their last. Maybe talking through it all would help. At least it was Giles. He’d understand.

“Sure,” she smiled up at Giles again. They stopped at a handy bench and he began to pour from the thermos he carried on his shoulder. “I’m sorry I blew up at Riley in front of you Giles. I can’t seem to convince him that I can actually handle patrolling, even though I was killing vampires before he was in training. It’s weird; he knows that I can take him down. Last night he even said he liked me being strong, but he’s convinced I shouldn’t be out in the cemeteries. It’s like he’s got two mutually contradictory theories about who I am.”

“I wish I could say something comforting Buffy, but Riley’s acting like a pillock. He knows you’re the Slayer. He has to accept that. This is what you do.” Giles tried to stop the words from coming out, but couldn’t seem to help himself. “He should understand.”

Buffy looked up at him gratefully, “See! You get it.” She sighed again. “That’s the problem, though. He should understand, but he doesn’t. Did you know that, other than Maggie Walsh, there aren’t any other women in the commandos? Apparently, they’re not considered strong enough to fight demons. That’s what Riley told me. He keeps trying to lump me in with the rest of the world like I was a normal girl or something, but I’m not. I’m me.”

“You’re right Buffy. You’re not an ordinary woman, and you shouldn’t be treated like one. Riley should respect your decisions. The fact that he fails to do so is his fault, not yours.”

“I know. It’s just stupid, though. I feel like my diary’s this running baseball metaphor. Buffy strikes out with man again. Oh well.”

Then she frowned. “Hey Giles, what’s a pillock?”

Giles ducked his head and blushed slightly, while removing his glasses to clean them, “Probably a piece of knowledge you’ll never need.”

He paused, smiled a bit grimly, and then went on, “Suffice it to say that it sounds like Riley is not going to be supportive of your slaying, and it’s probably wiser to find someone who will. Although I don’t understand his jealousy. What have you been telling him about me?”

Now it was Buffy’s turn to blush a little. “Nothing, really. He was just confused why I was so worried about you last night. So I tried to explain about us. You know, that you’re my Watcher. And that you’re the smartest man I know. The only guy that hasn’t left me, the only guy that’s been there for me since high school.” Whoops! She hadn’t meant to say all that. Then again, maybe it was good for Giles to hear this stuff. She held her breath, waiting for his reaction.

Giles was a little stunned. After weeks of feeling he like was the least-needed Watcher on the planet, he was being told he was the only faithful man around. He was immensely flattered, and suddenly aware that the woman beside him was regarding him with bated breath. Did Buffy suddenly care about his reaction? Maybe . . .

He smiled back at her. “I didn’t realize you felt that way about me. Thank you. I’ve tried to make sure you know how special you are; that you always had my support. But sometimes I felt like I was shouting into the darkness.”

Buffy sighed, despite the warm glow that started in her stomach at his words. “I know Giles, I’ve been non-hearing girl, but I promise, I’m hearing now! You should know that you’re absolutely appreciated by this Slayer. For more than just your chainsaw wielding skills, although, those come in handy from time to time, too.”

Giles put his glasses back on, and looked into the teasing eyes of his Slayer. “Well, now that that’s taken care of, what about telling me everything you know about Socrates? We’ll do one more review of everything and I think we can call it a night.”

“It’s a deal, Watcher-mine.”

Chapter VII

With a sigh, Buffy closed her door on the dawn. Now that she was on her way to her last final, she could admit to herself that she was kind of sad she didn’t have more to study for. The last three days, with the exception of Riley’s appearance, and the fact that she’d had to break up with him, had been . . . well, since she was just thinking it to herself, the last three days had been practically perfect. Even the prospect of barely passing her finals didn’t really scare her. Her “Study With Giles” plan had been great. She could almost thank Ethan for jogging her out of her Giles deprivation phase.

She had enough time to shower, change, and grab a cup of coffee before her physics final. She grabbed her towel and ran to the shower, mentally reviewing the last couple of hours. There hadn’t been very much activity last night, so she and Giles had uninterrupted study time. It was like the vampires were letting her get on with the serious business at hand. The studying was good, too. He knew exactly how to phrase things so that she’d remember them later. His voice seemed to stick in her head. Besides, praise from him made her glow.

Now that she was washing the thin layer of vampire dust from her hair, she could admit to herself it didn’t hurt that she’d started flirting with him. She giggled to herself in the shower. Yep, Buffy Summers, Vampire Slayer, had started flirting with her Watcher. She couldn’t seem to help herself. Ever since he’d told her Riley was a pillock, she realized something: Riley really was a pillock. And there was a guy in her life that wasn’t. He happed to be amazing at all kinds of things she wasn’t, and helpful with the studying, too. When he told her she was special, that first study night, something ineffable had clicked inside her brain. It was as though, in that moment of indrawn breath, she’d seen him, not just as an older guy who thought she was amazing, but as this attractive *man* who thought she was amazing.

The other crazy thing was that he’d actually begun to flirt back. After a couple blushing rejoinders, he’d kind of gotten over his shyness and actually seemed to enjoy teasing her. It made her grin just to think about it. It did weird fluttery things to her insides, too. She had no idea what was going on, other than a fervent wish that whatever it was didn’t stop happening. If she had anything to do with it, it wouldn’t.

* * * * * * * *

With a sigh, Giles closed his door on the dawn. The last three evenings, with the exception of Riley’s visit, had been some of the most pleasant in his recent memory. He could almost thank Ethan for his brush with death at the hands of his Slayer. After their talk on the first night she was almost coquettish with him, and they’d bantered, studied, and stuck wood in vampires in companionable fashion.

In fact, it made him miss University. Helping Buffy study for finals was almost as frantic as researching for demons, but he liked remembering theologians instead of demons. He wondered again if it was possible to get a job with the University. Then he could indulge himself in non-required research and call it work. Perhaps he’d have to look into it, once he found out Buffy’s test results. At least he could help her study next semester, if nothing else.

He marveled again at her attitude during the last several days. The night after her fight with Riley, she’d seemed tired and a little sad. Apparently, the solider hadn’t taken her comments seriously in the light of day, and she’d broken up with him for good. Giles couldn’t help the warm twinge at the thought of the blond commando’s crestfallen face. Served the idiot right. If he couldn’t handle a beautiful, intelligent, *strong* woman, he didn’t deserve her. Moreover, Buffy didn’t need the armed forces behind her. She’d always done supremely well by herself. When they’d talked about it again, he’d told her that. She’d reminded him that she hadn’t quite done it all on her own, giving him a sly look out of the corner of her eye that made him blush; he couldn’t seem to stop doing it, actually.

But the next night, last night, she’d seemed back to her old pertness. Now that he was alone with his thoughts and he could admit it to himself, she was absolutely adorable last night. If he wasn’t mistaken, she’d been flirting with him. It made his secret hope flare in his heart. Every time he really let himself believe Buffy might truly be flirting with him on purpose, his emotions surged wildly. But flirting was such a tenuous sliver of hope to go on. He’d just have to wait and see what happened after her finals.

Chapter VIII

Arms wrapped around each other for support, Buffy and Willow safely made their way across campus from the post-finals “Dusk-Till-Dawn” party at Stevenson. “Wills, there are now officially three things I love about finals week,” slurred a giggly and slightly tipsy Buffy as she and her best friend hobbled to their dorm room. “Pre-final Giles study and slay time, post-finals party, and lemon drops.” A new thought came to her. “You know, the only thing that could make it better is if they could be smooshed together: vodka, philosophy, Giles, and good music.”

Willow giggled, then looked speculatively at her girlfriend. She’d been conscious of the fact that Buffy’s breakup from Riley didn’t require the usual post-boyfriend rituals. There were no trips to the Espresso Pump, no late night runs for ice cream. She’d wondered about that, thinking it was just because Buffy had finally broken up with one of her boyfriends, instead of having them break up with her.

But, she’d noticed how often Giles had come up in conversation since then. Almost as if . . . Willow wondered if Buffy realized how much she’d thought about her Watcher this week. Buffy had been talking and thinking about Giles with every breath that wasn’t focused on finals. As a woman who hoped her best friend would someday finally be happy, Willow couldn’t be more pleased. She’d long ago moved her own crush on Giles into the realm of sixteen-year-old fantasy, and had realized after Angel left that there might be something to this Slayer/Watcher thing that Buffy hadn’t considered, although she’d be willing to bet Giles had it on the brain. She’d seen the way he sometimes watched Buffy when he thought no one was looking.

Her mischievous side got the best of her and she decided that it wouldn’t hurt to give Buffy a little nudge. “You know, we could always call Giles and tell him to come celebrate with us. The night is young, and so are we. Besides, I bet he’s tired of studying just as much as we are.” Buffy stared at Willow in shock, and then hugged her tight enough pop her bones.

“Will, you are the bestest friend a girl could have! And the most brilliant person on the planet. Have I told you that this week? No? Let me tell you again!” She was simultaneously excited and scared. Those pesky finals butterflies instantly erupted in her stomach. Then a thought struck her, “But, Willow, what if he won’t come celebrate? What if he’s busy? I took all of his time this week making him study with me . . . do you really think he’ll come over?’

Will looked at her friend, shook her head at the incredible insecurity, and then picked up the phone and handed it over. “Just call him, Buff.”

Suddenly shy, Buffy looked at the phone in her hand and turned back to Willow, “What should I say?” she questioned.

“Buffy, this isn’t brain surgery. It isn’t even an exam. Giles is your friend. Just tell him we’re going to hang out here and have a post-final mini party, and he’s invited as a thank you for all the help. And stop worrying!” an exasperated Willow encouraged. At this rate, she’d never get any peace.

A hesitant Buffy dialed his number, hoping he’d pick up, and realizing how silly she was being. This was Giles! She’d bled on his couch more times than she could count. She’d known him since she was 16 years old. She should be able to call him up and invite him over without all of these giddy feelings. Somehow, though, they didn’t go away. Then his voice came over the line, rich and deep and slightly rumbly, as if he had been reading and hadn’t spoken in a while. “Hello?”

She shook herself, realizing she’d daydreamed just at the sound of his voice. “Giles? What are you doing tonight? We’re, um, we’re giving thanks to the fact that finals are all over, I mean, until next semester, and we, um, I – um, would you like to come over and celebrate with us? There’ll be lemon drop making – have you ever had one?” All of her flirty nature of the last two nights had evaporated (or maybe the stomach butterflies had eaten away her flirting powers?) and she felt incredibly young waiting for his answer.

“Buffy? I haven’t had lemon drops in years. Sickeningly sweet things, if I remember correctly, I don’t really know if you’d want your Watcher at a party. Remember your birthday?” Giles shuddered at the prospect of another evening of feeling far too old, but Buffy broke through his private thoughts.

“But, Giles, you made my celebration possible! Willow and you. Besides if it’s just Will and me it’s not much of a party. We need a third – someone to pour.” Buffy knew she had to find some reason to make him say yes. Battling against the fierce swarms of stomach fluttering, and promising her brain it would have a lot more space-out fodder if Giles were actually in the room instead of just hearing his sultry voice (when had his voice become sultry? She had no idea, but it definitely was), she played her trump card. “You know, if you don’t want to come over, we can always just bring the party to you. . . ”

Willow saw her chance to opt out, and started shaking her head and waving her hands at Buffy, who was too intent on Giles’ response to notice her friend backing out of the proposed evening outing.

Giles was caught between hope and dread. It wasn’t every day that his Slayer asked him to celebrate things with her. He’d realized before she’d asked him to study with her they’d been in great danger of seeing each other only during crises times. He didn’t want that to happen again. Here she was offering to share a part of her life in a way she hadn’t done before. Besides, he’d earned it, hadn’t he?

- -He’s taking too long- -, Buffy was sure he was thinking his way out of this, and she wasn’t going to let him. Now that the initial offer was out there, she was determined to make him accept it, one way or another. She was the Slayer, after all! She could make an executive decision if she had to. “Don’t worry Giles; you don’t have to move a muscle. It’ll be better to be off campus, anyway! We’ll see you in 15 minutes. And we’ll bring the lemon drops!” Before he had time to protest, she clicked the phone off and grabbed her jacket and a stake. That was when she noticed Willow was sitting on the bed.

“Willow? Grab your coat! We’re going to Giles’!”

Willow looked at her girlfriend with a little smile to herself and said, “You go ahead Buffy. The alcohol’s starting to wear off, and I’m really tired. Besides, you don’t need a third wheel. Go hang out with Giles and toast one for me.”

“Are you sure? Now’s your chance to get Giles relaxed and ask him all those awkward magic questions you’ve been wanting answered.”

“No, I’m sleepy. You ask Giles for me, okay? That way my goal gets covered and I get happy dream-time too.”

“As long as you’re positive. . . “ At Willow’s emphatic nod, she opened the door, “okay. I’ll see you later. Sweet dreams.”

Willow murmured after her roommate left, “Don’t worry, Buffy, I won’t wait up.”

Chapter IX

She stood outside his apartment, bottle of vodka and bag of lemons in her hand, imagining the scene inside; Giles was probably in his favorite chair, mug of tea beside him. Glasses were probably beside the teacup, and a book was on his lap. She wasn’t sure if she really wanted to interrupt, but she couldn’t go home. She took a deep breath, told her stomach to settle down, and grabbed the door handle.

Giles, contrary to Buffy’s imagination, had paced restlessly around the flat since her call. He felt giddy. Buffy and Willow were coming over and suddenly he wasn’t sure if the jeans and charcoal sweater he had on were suitable. Should he change? He looked around his apartment, for the first time feeling like it was too adult. He felt like he should have posters up…or something, anything to encourage college girls to stay. His eyes caught the stereo and he pulled some music out to make it seem more like a celebration. Just as he’d turned the sound up to a semi-audible level, he felt an odd presence, as if someone was standing outside his front door. Strange, Buffy usually had no problem walking through his door. He started toward the peephole.

Buffy’s nervous charge through the door slammed in to a startled Giles’ forehead. He rocked back. His feet tangled with the edge of the door, Buffy’s feet tangled with his, and they fell together in a pile. The bag of groceries spun on the ground, scattering lemons everywhere. Buffy took one look at the lemons, the door, and his crooked glasses and began to giggle. Giles blinked at the woman who’d fallen across his lap, and felt a laugh rumble its way out of his chest. They chuckled companionably, neither really wanting to get up. Giles loved the sight of a laughing Buffy, especially when she was practically sitting on him. Buffy’s stomach was quiet, but there were other things getting tight and warm watching her Watcher grin sexily below her. Neither had the courage to say anything, instead, they simultaneously hopped up and began to pick up lemons, still smiling at each other over their shoulders.

Giles looked around, “Buffy? Where is Willow? I thought you were both coming over to celebrate?”

She turned to him, lemon in hand, and smiled again, “Willow decided the lemon drops had already had taken their toll, so she’s probably riding the dream train, even now. I’m under orders to make you do shots and spill about every magical thing she’s not supposed to know.” She felt a little shy all of a sudden, “It’s okay that it’s just me, right?”

Another one of those sexy and slightly shy smiles lit his face. “Absolutely.” Buffy’s knees felt a little weak all of a sudden. - -Okay, get a grip. You need lemons and sugar! Cutting stuff will make this easier.- - She walked into the kitchen to grab a cutting board and the rest of the supplies.

“So, when was the last time you consumed these?” she asked, figuring it was a safe topic (or at least one that would let her keep her attention focused on the task at hand).

Giles looked at the woman in his kitchen, leaned against the pass-through so he could watch her cut, and tried to remember the last time he’d done shots. “Probably some point with Ethan.” He shuddered. “But lemon drops . . . . Hmmm. . . you know, I’m not quite sure. I think it may have been one of those nasty initiation things I did when I first went to University. Although, the version you’re making there seems a little different than the one I remember. Don’t you need Triple Sec?”

Buffy looked at the lemon in her hands and then back at her Watcher. “Um, Giles, I’m non-drinking girl remember? Me and alcohol have been traditionally un-mixy things. Cave Buffy ring any bells? So, considering my relative inexperience, I’m making them the way they were taught to me by the venerable upperclassman at Stevenson . . . whose name I can’t seem to remember right now.” Giles felt a surge of jealousy at her mention of some senior trying to get her drunk, but then a little happy rush at the fact she couldn’t remember his name. Buffy continued reeling off the recipe, suiting action to her words. “Take one lemon. Cut into slices. Dip lemon in sugar. Pour shot. Then there’s this whole coordination thing, with sucking on the lemon and drinking, but I’m not going to get to that part until I get another shot poured. Don’t you have more than one shot glass?” She started rifling through cupboards.

“Yes, of course. Look in the other cupboard; that one only has tea things. Just how many of these shots do I need to do, Miss Summers?”

“Well, Mr. Giles, I think you need to at least catch up with me. That means you’ve got to have three. Or maybe four? And then there’s the one we have to take together to celebrate the Willow soundly sleeping back at the dorm. And then . . . well, we’ll just see, won’t we?” She looked over her shoulder at him. “Where the heck do you stash your glasses? Do you have a mini-black hole in one of these cabinets?”

He laughed as he walked into the kitchen. She had the correct cupboard open, but couldn’t see the glasses on the top shelf. He came up behind her and reached over her head to take one down. “Poor little Slayer, you completely missed the top shelf didn’t you?” he teased.

Buffy was all too aware of how close Giles remained standing as he taunted her.

She turned around and put her hands on her hips in mock anger, “Hey, that’s not fair! There shouldn’t even be shelves that high. It’s not like normal people can reach them!”

“Don’t worry, if you need anything you can simply ask me and I’ll fetch it for you. Unless you’d like a little step stool?” Giles grinned at her, not wanting to move away, searching for something more to say. He put the shot glass on the counter. “I believe you told me you needed someone to pour the drinks?” and poured the second shot. He handed one to her and raised his own glass with a quirked eyebrow. “What happens next?”

“You take a lemon, dip it in the sugar, then we do the shot and suck on the lemon to kill the taste of vodka.” She suited action to words, surprised to see her hand trembling a little, and dipped her lemon into the bowl of sugar she’d poured.

Giles gingerly took a slice and did the same, then looked at his Slayer standing close to him, shot poised. “What shall we drink to?”

“World peace, of course,” Buffy said cheekily.

Chapter X

“Oh my god! You did that…and you weren’t even under the influence of magic? Or anything evil? Just for a dare?” Buffy giggled at her Watcher from the couch in the living room. The bottle of vodka was slightly depleted (although not enough to qualify either of them as anything more than tipsy; Slayer metabolism and Watcher experience meant each only had a gentle buzz) and sitting on the table in front of them along with a cutting board, sugar bowl, and some very well-used lemons.

Giles chuckled at her from the floor. “No, really, it all seemed to make sense at the time. Running naked around campus at three o’clock in the morning, singing the national anthem at the top of my lungs seemed very logical – at that point.” He looked up at her through his glasses, “Besides, it gave me a reputation. I became quite the popular man on campus after running past the women’s dorms.”

Buffy snorted, but it turned into a choke. Was Giles really implying what she thought? That after seeing him naked, women ran after him? She couldn’t quell the shiver that ran up her spine at the thought of Giles, naked, anywhere. - -Bad brain! Bad! Down!- - She looked back at him and her thoughts scattered . . . she was caught by the way the shadows softened the planes of his face, the way his lips looked when he smiled, the crinkles in his eyes. Unconsciously, she sighed and forgot to think of something to say. She’d promised herself she’d only ogle, but now that he was in front of her she found herself wanting to know how his skin felt. She felt a little reckless and caught herself thinking that she should do something about it instead of just looking.

Giles looked up at the sweetly blushing Buffy and couldn’t believe he’d told her that story. He breathed a sigh of relief that there were no “ew”s in sight. Then he noticed she seemed mesmerized by his face. He wondered what she was thinking. It made him rather self-conscious.

“Buffy? Is there something wrong with my face? Did I spill sugar down my chin with the last shot?” Buffy shook out of her contemplation with a blink.

“Sorry Giles! No, your face is absolutely sugar-free. Just got stuck in thought for a second there. I think it’s time for another shot, don’t you?”

“Of course. We need more lemons though. I’ll be right back.” Giles unfolded himself from the floor and went over to the corner of the room. Although Buffy couldn’t figure out why he was going toward the bookshelf, she certainly enjoyed the view while he went. Comfy jean-clad Giles was definitely her preference for evening entertainment. She snapped out of her reverie again, and grabbed the bottle to pour two more shots.

“Giles? I know you think the sum of human knowledge is found between those musty pages, but I don’t think descriptions of lemons found in books will taste very good, sugar or no sugar. I think there are still some real lemons to be found in the direction of the kitchen.”

Just then, Giles bent to pick something up from the corner just out of her sight, and held a single lemon out towards her. “This one must’ve gotten away from us earlier.”

“Yay, Giles!” Buffy clapped her hands at the introduction of a new citrus to cut up, “I thought we were missing one when we cleaned up. Good eyes.” He gravely dropped it into her waiting hand as she asked, “So, any more good college stories to tell me? Or maybe we should start talking about magic now, so I can make a full report to Willow in the morning.”

She focused on cutting up the lemon, afraid if she looked back up she’d get lost looking at her Watcher again.

Giles watched her cutting another lemon sliver, and wondered what kind of magic story to tell her. Most of his weren’t terribly amusing, and he didn’t want to scare her. Then again, it was pleasant to talk to her about something other than slaying. Come to think of it, the entire night he’d been able talk to her about anything but slaying. It was truly lovely. He realized she’d asked him about himself. He cleared his throat.

“What do you think she’d want to know? What about you? Are you curious about magic? It is a component in our lives, after all.”

“Yeah, I’ve always wondered a lot about it. But I kinda felt like I missed my opportunities to ask you about stuff. Especially since every time we encounter magic it seems to be the *wrong* kind. Do you have any good stories? Ones where people don’t get hurt or anything from spells?”

Giles winced, knowing all too well her associations with magic were, by and large, terrible. He settled down on the floor again, this time on the short side of the coffee table so he was perpendicular to Buffy on the couch. He took off his glasses and began to clean them. “You know, magic can actually be a very nurturing force.”

Although she loved his characteristic eye-wear cleaning, Buffy saw where this was going and headed him off at the pass. “Okay, Giles, I’m gonna interrupt here. You just went completely into ‘lecture mode.’ We absolutely cannot have that, not on a night when we’re supposed to be celebrating.”

She paused in thought. “I know. . . we need a way to talk about fun magic stuff, but something that won’t send you right back into that big brain of yours and leave me behind. I think it might be time for a double shot and - I can’t believe I’m gonna say this - but a game of truth or dare.”

Chapter XI

“Truth or dare, Buffy? It’s been years since I played that; college if I remember correctly. . . ” his voice trailed off. He also remembered only playing truth or dare at University when he and his mates tried to challenge co-eds into getting in trouble. Dares had to be sexual, and the truths were just thinly veiled attempts to get each other hot. He remembered quite liking the game when he was younger, as a kind of college cat and mouse. - -But surely Buffy didn’t want . . . ?- - his head came up at that, and he looked her straight in the eyes. Did she know what she was implying? Particularly as they were the only players.

He caught something indecipherable in her expression, as though she was holding her breath again, waiting for him to answer. He took a deep breath and decided to take the plunge. At worst, he’d tell her more embarrassing stories. The wild feeling he’d had earlier in the kitchen begged him to believe otherwise. He smiled at her, and this time his smile had just a little wickedness in it. What the hell: if she wanted to play truth or dare, they’d play.

“You know, I think I take offense to that. I wasn’t going into ‘lecture mode’. Just for that, I get to go first. Pick up your shot, Miss Summers, and then get ready.” He held his shot glass up in the air and grinned, with eyebrow arched, at his Slayer, who was momentarily speechless. Then she responded to the smile with an impudent grin of her own – and a mental prayer to . . . the happiness gods . . . in the hopes this would work out – and picked up her shot glass.

“What shall we toast to this time?” she asked.

“Hmmm, how about an Irish toast? I think you’ll like this one.” Giles asked, eyes still twinkling.

“May those who love us, love us.
And to those that don't love us, may God turn their hearts.
And if He doesn't turn their hearts, may he turn their ankles so we'll know them by their limping.”
Buffy, who’d held the glass to her lips, almost sputtered at the last line. She was totally unprepared for the silly bits at the end. She managed to do her shot in one gulp, and then realized she hadn’t sugared her lemon. As the vodka burned its way down her throat, she grabbed the first slice she could reach and quickly dipped and sucked. Giles was in a similar predicament; both had been too intent on each other to remember the sweet part of their drinks. They looked across the table and simultaneously smiled. Buffy collapsed in giggles at the picture of Giles with a lemon peel making a yellow smile in his mouth.

Giles removed the offending lemon, “I think that’s hardly called for. After all, I’m not laughing at you and you look ridiculous rolling around on my couch with a lemon in your mouth.” He sighed in mock-disappointment. “I suppose we’ll just have to get on with the game then. Buffy, truth or dare.”

Buffy quieted, tucked her legs under her on the couch, and, mostly serious and partially composed, responded, “Truth.”

“Describe your first kiss.”

Deep Slayer breath. Her Watcher knew how to pick questions! “His name was Eric Martin. I was 14, and it was in a game of truth or dare, actually. He was the hottest boy at school, and it was a birthday party. My best friend dared me to kiss him. We were locked in a closet for sixty seconds. It was actually really good compared to other first kisses I’ve heard about. Although we did bonk noses. But his lips were really kind of soft, and I put my hands around his neck, and then he leaned in even further and actually put his tongue against my lips, which felt really weird but good, somehow. I didn’t know what to do with my tongue, but then he backed off and took a deep breath, then kissed me again. I kind of got the idea at that point. I think we ended up being in there for like 5 minutes. I was boy-crazy from that moment onward.” She grinned at the thought, and then realized it was her turn.

She reached down, poured them both another shot, and handed it to him. Giles took his glass automatically, a little surprised to realize he was fiercely jealous of a boy whom he’d never known. He couldn’t help but imagine how soft her lips were, couldn’t help but wonder . . . he mentally shook himself, accepted the lemon from her outstretched hand, and looked at her expectantly for the toast.

“Salut, Giles”, she said, looking directly into his smoldering eyes.

“Salut, Buffy”, he replied, doing the shot and sucking the lemon, but never removing his eyes from hers.

Both put their glasses on the table. Giles leaned up sideways against the couch, put an arm across the cushion and propped his head in his hand. She cleared her throat after the sugar smoothed the bite of the vodka, “Truth or dare Watcher-mine.”

“Truth,” he responded, wishing he had the nerve to ask her to dare him something.

Slightly disappointed that they were still stuck on truth, she had her question ready, “Boxers or briefs?”

He took a deep breath, and Buffy wondered why, since it wasn’t usually a question that was tough for guys. He looked back up at her, that sly flicker in his features. “Well, since we have to tell the truth, neither.”

“Giles!” She looked at him, giggling but just a little scandalized. Nothing? That meant he was sitting here right now in nothing but his jeans! And what about training? She had to ask more: “All the time?”

“Well, usually. Unless I know we’re going to be training or fighting. It’s just . . . something I picked up in college and never really. . . except when I wear tweed,” he finished, trying not to blush, but failing completely.

Chapter XII

Buffy was hopelessly enchanted. And now, she couldn’t keep her mind off of his pants! She never thought a simple question could be so demonic. It made her checking out of his ass earlier when he’d grabbed the lemon even more . . .

Giles interrupted her speculations, “Buffy, your turn. Truth or dare?”

“Ummm.” For some reason she felt like she couldn’t call dare. She had to outwait him. Unless something drastic changed in his nature, he’d never really dare her to do anything . . . fun. So she had to dare him. If only he’d call it. It was the truth or dare waiting game. “Truth.”

Giles smiled up at her with eyes that hinted he understood her hesitation. She felt like he knew exactly what she was thinking. - -Was he doing the mind reading thing again?- -

It might’ve been the vodka, or the feeling that he’d just read her mind, but Giles decided if he had to reveal embarrassing facts about himself, so would his Slayer. His voice quietly rumbled out, “What’s the most sensitive spot on your body?”

She was shocked. Her Watcher had asked her a titillating question with nary a glass-rub, blush, or stutter in sight! And his voice was driving her wild. She was getting hot for her Watcher, the guy leaning against his couch with his leg tucked up, waiting for her response. If he was going to start getting her into trouble with just his voice, she was going to retaliate.

She brushed her hair off her neck and tilted her head to the side, curling her hand down her skin. “The side of my neck, from just behind my ear, all the way to my collarbone.” She felt sultry, looking at him from between her eyelashes. She hid a smile. If he was trying to shock her, he had, but she liked it. She could feel him staring at her and it made her skin hot.

Giles was enthralled, other thoughts forgotten with the revelation of her skin. - -Gods, she’s lovely. I’d like to sink my teeth into her,- - he couldn’t prevent the thoughts from coming. He was going to have to do something more than talk in a second. If she didn’t move soon he was going to throw caution to the winds and simply take what had been so invitingly offered. But Buffy tilted her head back to a normal position, her hair fell, and asked again, “Truth or dare?”

Giles’ attention moved from the half hidden spot on her shoulder back to her face, “Truth.”

“Hmmm.” She wondered aloud. Time to start asking the *good* questions. “What’s your favorite part of sex?”

He quirked an eyebrow at her, and decided he quite liked this line of questioning. “Actually, I rather like every part, but if I had to choose. . .” His voice lowered slightly, almost rumbling forth as he looked directly into her eyes. “I love lying beneath a woman and watching her move above me.”

Buffy, caught by his eyes, couldn’t look away but couldn’t help the mental image; Giles beneath her, his eyes looking at her as they were now, watching her ride him. She shivered, suddenly covered with goose bumps but feeling too warm for her own skin.

Chapter XIII

“Buffy?” Giles’ soft voice roused her out of her daydream daze. “Truth or dare?”

She couldn’t give in. . . yet, “Truth.”

He smiled again, this time with a bit of wicked seduction thrown in. He realized he was getting in deeper and deeper, but he wasn’t about to stop. “What’s your wildest fantasy?”

Looking at him, her eyes widened slightly, “Can I have two?”

“You may have as many as you like.”

“Okay. The first – and I know this isn’t particularly wild – I really want to wake up and have sex in the morning.”

Giles instantly sobered. He wanted to get up and take her into his arms, to wipe all memory of those two incredibly, criminally, stupid men out of her eyes. He settled for reaching to cup the side of her face. She shivered, just a little, and leaned her cheek into his hand. He hated the knowledge that gypsy fate and stupid college men could have scarred her. Angel, then the disastrous Parker, they were just . . . “Pillocks.”

The solemn moment broke. She smiled into his eyes and butted her cheek into his hand. “You know, someday you really are going to have to explain that word to me.”

“Someday.” His single word response held a promise that made her glow. Regretfully, he withdrew his hand and settled back on the floor. “And the other?”

Buffy decided to tell him the truth. Maybe it would scare him off, but she didn’t think so. At least she hoped not. “The other . . . um . . . yeah”, she bit her lip, looked with liquid eyes directly into his face. “I have these fantasies of a lover that can hold me down.” Her tongue darted across her lips, and she bit the corner of her mouth. “He likes it that I’m strong, stronger than anybody, but somehow he has the strength to bind me. He makes me lose control with him.“ As she spoke, her eyes closed, and he felt himself moving inexorably closer, drawn by the dream of words she spun around him.

Giles moved onto the couch, unable to take his eyes off her. She was beautiful as she revealed herself to him. His Buffy was showing a side he’d never expected. He was mesmerized by the movement of her lips, by the sound of her fantasy. - -And- - he realized - -I have some chains in my weapons chest upstairs. . .- - He couldn’t keep himself from leaning towards her.

“He pushes my boundaries, binds me with chains I can’t break, and demands I go wild,” she finished, and opened her eyes to meet green ones, dark with desire, inches from her face. Lips a hair’s breadth away from each other, they were stuck in a timeless moment. The furious blush that started with her story turned into a thrumming in her veins. Her breath caught, but she spoke again. “Giles? Truth or dare?”

He didn’t really know what he was saying, but the word came out, whispered against her lips, “Dare.” He wanted so much to kiss her, but something held him back. Buffy looked at him and felt like she was falling, but he didn’t lean any further. She didn’t want him to hold back.

Buffy’s eyes flicked down to lips a breath away from hers, “Dare you.”

He closed the gap between them and she fell into his lips, fell into the rampant green of his eyes, fell into his arms. As his mouth moved over hers, he stole her breath. His hands curved around her waist, burning through the thin material of her top. She leaned into his warmth, wanting to feel more of him against her skin. He ducked his head, and finally put action to thought with his teeth, biting along her neck, down toward her shoulder, making her moan and shudder.

“Dare you,” he whispered into the perfect shell of her ear, moving his hands over her hips, bringing her body closer to his. Her hands grabbed the sides of his head, pulling those velvety lips back to hers. She kissed him wildly, all tongue and teeth, and he drove his own tongue into her mouth.

He stood, pulling her with him, and caught her body in his hands, bringing her hips to grind against his, and barely kept his feet. She broke their deepened kiss with a moan, grasping at the bottom of his shirt, trying to reveal the warm flesh and knotted muscle she knew were waiting. He released her to help, tugging on his clothing. Finally, his shirt moved above his shoulders to fly off in some corner of the room. She ran her hands down his chest, the muscles cording under her touch. She loved the feel of him: so pulsing and alive. He moved back to her neck, unable to resist the blood throbbing there, and bit again, making her growl low.

He grabbed the bottom of her shirt and pulled it up, her arms rising with his, but didn’t pull it off her hands. He kept them imprisoned, bringing them behind her head. Her body stretched and arched against him, her lace-covered breasts pressed against his chest, heaving. She gasped. This was perfect and she loved it, loved the feeling that she couldn’t quite get her hands free. His lips and teeth nipped at her mouth. She struggled a little, brushing her hips over his again and again. He growled, and pressed his lips into her neck, loving the feel of her body but hating the fabric between them.

He let her hands go, and she dropped the shirt. His hands caressed her sides, back and waist, fingers nimble and rough. He pulled at the buttons of her jeans, one at a time, each making a pop that brought a corresponding pant from Buffy’s lips. She couldn’t stop touching him, neck, shoulders, waist. Her hands ran from one point to the other, catching on his nipples until he pulled her back into his body and ground her against her again. His hands smoothly unhooked her bra and tossed it away, then returned to her hips to shove her pants and panties down her legs.

She giggled at the catch in his breathing and the look on his face. “Giles?” He was stunned at the woman who stood, caught with her jeans around her ankles. She was flushed from their kissing, red marks fading on her neck where he’d bitten her, laughter fresh on her face. He grinned at her and grandly offered his hand to help her step out of her clothing, then, when she was free, pulled her back into his embrace. She was like quicksilver in his arms: lithe, beautiful and strong. He bent down and whispered again into her ear, “Dare you.”

She shivered again as his breath on her skin made hers catch. His hands now moved on her bare hips, the rough pads of his fingertips stroking towards her breasts, making her burn hotter for him. She was slowly being consumed by his lips, his hands, and the fire that burned her entire body.

She realized he still had his jeans on, and reached to rip them from him. Only one button broke in her frenzy, but she was able to pull them off and move them down his legs. “Mmmm.” She buried her nose in the hair at the base of his cock, inhaling his truest scent. Her cheek brushed against his cock, and his groan made her body twitch. She settled on her knees and licked him from base to tip, watching his expression and loving every second of it. She’d never wanted anyone like this, wanted to fill her mouth with him, watch him gasp above her. She suited thought to action, and his entire body shuddered. His hands gripped her shoulders, tighter than he’d ever held her, as she buried him in her mouth.

Chapter XIV

“Buffy,” his voice strained above her, growling as her mouth began to move on him. “Buffy . . . I . . .” Her lips were warm, her hands gripped hard on his hips, and he felt consumed by her. It made him weak and wild at the same time. He wanted, no, he needed more than her mouth around him. The sweet torture of her actions warred with the pain of not being able to touch her body.

He pulled his hips backwards and leaned down, bringing her up in a rush. At first, Buffy didn’t want to leave the floor, but then she realized there were other things they could be doing to each other. She shimmied along his body. As she rose, he groaned.

His mouth came crashing down on hers, lips trembling, feasting on her like he was starving. Buffy could feel his entire body pressing up against hers, but this time, without clothing, it just made her more aware of his cock against her stomach and the ache between her thighs. His leg moved between hers as his hands reached for her breasts. She rubbed against him, gasping, and then his fingers moved from her nipples to between her legs. She broke their kiss to moan, “Oh god, Giles!” as he touched her. He moved back to her neck, biting and sucking, and she, lost to the feel of his fingers and teeth, nearly fell over.

Giles caught Buffy as she stumbled and pulled her with him onto the couch. Buffy remembered imagining him beneath her earlier, but this was better than the spine tingling rush she’d felt then. His hair was tousled, his eyes on fire, and both were panting from the feel of skin on skin. She ground herself into his lap and watched him close his eyes and groan.

“Liked that, did you?” she asked, breaking the silence, wanting to hear him.

*Pant* “More than I can express,” he growled, grabbing her hips and grinding her more firmly against his erection. “You?”

She bit her lip at the sensation of him running his cock over her clitoris. It was good but . . . “I’d like it a little better if you were inside me.”

“That can most definitely be arranged, but we need one thing.” Giles lifted her off his body, and Buffy gave a cry of protest. “Don’t worry, love, I just need to get something from the cupboard.” Buffy realized she knew exactly what he was going for and appreciated his thinking of it.

Giles got up and staggered into the bathroom, leaving Buffy panting on the couch admiring the view from behind. She was never going to let him wear underwear again . . . or clothes of any kind, for that matter. She heard something fall and Giles curse and half leaned over the couch to call to the bathroom, “Everything okay in there?”

A naked Giles appeared in the hallway with a packet in his hand, “Fine. The bathroom was trying to kill me.” He looked at her, disheveled, lips kiss swollen, sitting naked on his couch. “It’s okay though, I’d face death of any kind to come back out and see you like this.”

She smiled at him, the 1000-watt smile making him humble. - -What in the nine hells had he done to deserve her?- - It didn’t matter, though. What mattered was this woman in front of him.

Buffy arched an eyebrow at him, “So you just going to stand there, Watcher-mine?” Her voice was a challenge, an invitation, and a claim all at the same time. Giles smiled, a grin of total happiness half-filled with lust. Buffy almost laughed with joy at his expression. He was, indeed, hers and she saw it in his eyes.

“No, I don’t think I will.” He knelt on the floor between her legs and drew her face to his again. As their lips met, he ran his hands over the perfect shape of her breasts. Her skin felt like warm rose petals and he traced their curves over and over, unable to deny himself the feeling of their silky texture. She moaned beneath his lips and rocked them both. - -His lips and hands were great- - Buffy thought impatiently, - -but hadn’t he gone to fetch a condom so she could feel more?- -

He broke the kiss to begin nibbling on her ear, hands fanning along her waist. He loved her steel muscles, wrapped in the softest silk of her skin. He kissed down the side of her neck, then bent to wrap his lips around a nipple. Buffy gasped above him, loving the feel of his mouth on her sensitive skin. He began to suck, using lips and tongue, and slowly introducing his teeth to see her reaction. When he lightly bit her, Buffy let loose a deep moan and pulled his head harder against her. She leaned back, drawing more of his body into contact with hers, and undulated against him. He moved to her other breast, loving the feel of her against him, soaking up every moan and movement.

He released her nipple and looked up to see her still moaning, eyes closed and head thrown back. Wickedly grinning, he moved back a little on the floor, and dipped his tongue into her wet and waiting sex. Buffy arched off the couch, gasping and moaning at the feel of his mouth. No one had ever used his mouth on her, and she was overwhelmed at how good it felt. Giles was in heaven, licking and nibbling, sucking on her clitoris in time to her groans. He tilted her hips and plunged deeper into her with his tongue. Buffy mewled and moved her hips against his waiting mouth.

It wasn’t enough, though. She wanted him inside her.

She began tugging on his shoulders, bucking in time with his tongue but trying to get him to come back to her. Giles realized she was pulling him forward and, a little regretfully, began kissing his way back up her body.

“Giles, come here!” Buffy, slightly frustrated, pulled her lover up her body, then groaned at the renewed contact of his chest hair against her skin. He moved to the couch beside her, and she immediately pushed him down so she could straddle him again. He closed his eyes at the feeling of her wet center against his cock, but opened them again when he felt her lean over to reach for the condom.

“May I?” she asked shyly, reaching to stroke him again while she waited for his answer.

“Please?” he begged, arching into her touch and hoping the hunger he felt didn’t scare her off. He wanted her so much; he could barely restrain the impulse to dispense with protection and just bury himself inside her.

She opened the packet and slowly rolled on the condom, making him groan again as her fingers slid sensuously over the length of him. She smiled the sounds he was making, then, when she was done, leaned with both hands on his chest to kiss him deeply. His hands on her hips guided her over him, and she slid his cock into her with a shudder. He broke their kiss to growl in pleasure as she closed around him.

His hips rose and fell of their own accord, bucking against her as her body responded in kind. They were both bound to that movement, enthralled and enraptured at the feel of their bodies moving together. Buffy felt, at last, that she could let go. She arched up, chanting his name at every thrust. Giles gazed at the woman who moved above him and was lost. Every cry from her lips pushed him closer to the edge. As he buried himself in her again, he tried to hang on. The exquisite torture of her body above and around him only pushed him harder. His fingers moved between their bodies, his thumb found her clitoris, and he pressed in time with his thrusts and felt her body clench around his. Buffy’s orgasm flowed over her and melted every bone in her body. She fell against Giles as he bucked into her one final time and came growling her name.

They lay together, panting, as their bodies came down. Buffy looked at his face, her Giles, and realized that she felt utterly complete. Giles held her tightly to himself, stroking her back and trying to calm his beating heart. He was spent, satiated, and, he could admit to himself now, completely in love with the woman lying on him. He softly kissed her swollen lips.

Both spoke at the same moment.

“Giles, that was . . . “

“Buffy, I . . . “

Buffy giggled and put her hand to his cheek. He waited for her to go on. She started again, “Giles, that was incredible. I’m not even sure I know my own name. Would it horrify you if I told you I think I’m a little bit in love with you?”

She felt the laughter in his chest bubble up, and saw the twinkle in his eye. The side of his beautiful mouth turned up, “No, love. Particularly since that’s exactly what I was going to say to you.”

She tucked herself back into his body again, “Good. Because I don’t plan on moving in the next three hours, and it would have made it very awkward if you didn’t feel the same.”

“Well, as much as I love you,” he smiled again at the words, then shifted, pulling her off of his body, “we can’t stay like this for the next three hours.” Buffy frowned at him, and then comprehension dawned. Giggling, she let him up and watched him pad back into the bathroom. She heard the water running, then he reappeared. He walked around to the front of the couch and held out his hand.

Buffy looked quizzically at his outstretched hand and allowed herself to be pulled from the couch. She instantly leaned back into the heat of his body, and began stroking down his sides and kissing his chest. Giles bent down, and suddenly she was being carried in his arms. “Where are we going?” she asked as his lips moved towards hers for another kiss.

“I thought we might be more comfortable with covers.” He smiled down at her, amazed that this miraculous woman was in his arms, and winked. “Besides, I’ve got chains in my chest upstairs.”