By Kelly B

Title: Dealing
Author: KellyB
Rating: G
Pairing B/G

Timeline: Season Four
Disclaimer: Joss owns it all, but I am borrowing them, and I might not give Giles back.
SUMMARY: A continuation of the last scene in 'Wild at Heart'
FEEDBACK: Please…just play nice!
Author's Notes: Not the first one I have written, but the simplest…and the first one I've submitted. Thanks to Gail for her encouragement and the inspiration of her amazing B/G stories!
Distribution: My site ( and / Otherwise, just ask!

"You saved Willow," Giles said, looking deeply into her eyes.

Buffy looked back. "I think right now she wishes I hadn't... I've never seen her like this before, Giles. It's like it hurts too much to even form words."

"But you've felt that way yourself, and you got through it."

She looked at her hands. "Well, I ran away and went to hell - and then I got through it. I'm kind of hoping Willow won't use me as a model."

The memory was too fresh for him to focus on it. "Fair enough."

"I just don't know how they're gonna deal with this."

He sat there in silence, thinking of the young, bright redhead who had become so dear to his heart. It was hard to imagine her brokenhearted and despairing.

"I know you will do everything you can to help her," he said simply.

"I don't know if I can help the way she helped me. The way you did…"

"Buffy…we've all lost someone in a way that…crushes us. Willow is a strong girl. It may seem hopeless now, but it will get better."

She noticed the way his green eyes clouded. Crushes us. It was a dramatic word, and it brought the memory of Jenny Calendar fervently to her mind. She could still feel the way his body shook in sobs outside the warehouse that night…the night that had changed them forever.

"I'm sorry."

Giles swallowed the remains of his tea. "Sorry for what?"

"There's been so much, Giles. So much about me. The last three years, you've dealt with losing your friends to Eyghon, being betrayed by the Council, countless near brushes with death and apocalypse…and losing Jenny. Not just when she…but before, twice, because of me. It's always about me, and you always…"

She stopped, surprised to find the tears welling, and suddenly sick of the suffering her friends has endured before her helpless eyes.

"You always bottle up your pain so you can help the rest of us deal with ours. I wonder - and too often, I haven't stopped to wonder…who helps with yours, Giles? Where does it go?"

He set his cup down, off guard. "Buffy, you have done the same yourself. Put your feelings aside. It's part of the calling we both have."

"But I have always had my mom, my friends…you. You're always with us, Giles. Except, I guess, when Olivia is around. It's none of my business, but does she…help you?"

Giles sighed deeply, and Buffy wondered if she'd pried too much. He wiped his glasses thoughtlessly, then looked at her. "Olivia is an old friend. It's nice to have someone who knows me without…knowing me as a Watcher, but that has its downside as well. She doesn't understand the things we deal with daily, and therefore she could never fully understand, or as you say, 'help' me."

"I'm sorry if I pried…I guess seeing Willow this way…it makes me worry about the people I love."

It would have been hard to decipher whose face held more shock at her words. Since the day the Cruciamentum had been revealed, the word 'love' had never been spoken in the context of them…and it had never been uttered by them to one another.

He cleared his throat. "I appreciate your concern, Buffy. We have all been through more than our share of trauma the past few years, but we will continue to persevere…"

Buffy looked away, listening to the reason in his voice. That was her Giles…backing off from the threat of sentimentality. Somehow though, his expression betrayed his voice. There was a cloud passing over his eyes.

"Well, I hope there is less to…persevere…in the future. Giles-"

His eyes snapped back from whatever they'd been watching. "Yes Buffy?"

"I want to be here to help you."

He smiled openly at her. "Buffy…every night that I see you, standing healthy and strong and alive after you've patrolled…that helps me more than I could ever say."

"But that's…that's for Watcher Giles, Duty Giles…not…Rupert Giles."

He now smiled softly at her.

"I am only one person, Buffy, with all of those roles. And you…you are important to all of them. That is to say-"

Smile faded, and ritual cleaning of glasses ensued.

She scooted a little closer to him on the couch, not wanting to let go of what he was about to say.

"What is it, Giles?"

She wondered if it was the same man she knew, who placed his glasses on the coffee table, took her left hand between his, and looked into her eyes the way only he could.

"That is to say that Rupert Giles…me…rather, I…love you, Buffy. You help me immeasurably simply by being a part of my life. And with every day, I aspire to help you overcome and endure and even be happy, however I can."

The tears she had formed spilled over. She looked down as the water dripped onto their hands.

"I haven't told you, lately…not ever enough…Giles, I need you. But more than that, I always want you with me. And even though I am a pest and a scatterbrain and just plain insensitive sometimes, I am here for you, and I do love you."

More uncharacteristic than ever, he leaned forward, cupping her face and kissing her forehead. She grabbed his wrists and pulled his arms around her.

Together, she thought, hugging him back, we can deal with anything.