Descent Into the Shadows
By Crystal Paulk

TITLE: Descent Into the Shadows
AUTHOR: Crystal Paulk byron_wilde@yahoo.com
PAIRING: Spike/ Buffy then Buffy/Giles angst Major angst
RATING: NC-17 Warning!!! Violent sexual content. Vampires are evil. Spike is not nice.
SPOILERS: Cannon for season six continues, except the events of "Tabula Rosa" never occurred. Spoilers through season five, "Wrecked" and "Smashed."
SUMMARY: Is gaining your fantasy worth losing the one you love? Giles discovers Buffy's secret. Can he ever forgive her? Is it his fault?
DISCLAIMER: BTVS belong to Joss Whedon, the WB, UPN, FOX and Mutant Enemy and 20th Century Fox Film Corporation. Don't sue cause I have nothing.


Pale hands gripped her hips with bruising strength as the demon thrust his cock in her depths. Fucking viciously, he dragged one hand between her ass cheeks, pinching the tender skin. His human lover ground herself on his length pleading for release as he pushed one finger and then another in her back passage. She screamed in pain and pleasure, wrenching the handcuffs clasped around her wrists. Blood dribbled on her forearms where the cuffs dug into her wrists.

"Like that Slayer," Spike hissed, twisting his fingers and cock in her body. "You like the pain. Can't get enough of it."

"Please,' she begged, tears streaming down her face.

"You're my whore aren't you Buffy," the vampire sneered.

"Yes," she whimpered.

"Don't you forget it," he warned, as he came inside her, still twisting his fingers until her convulsions subsided. Spike collapsed beside her, trailing his claws along her spine, making her wince as they sliced into flesh.

They lay silently, listening to the night sounds. Spike smirking in the darkness. Buffy cringing. Humiliation and guilt flooded her. Now that the sex was over she wanted to crawl back into her grave and die. Fitting then, that she was fucking a vampire in his crypt. She heard the click of a key and felt the handcuffs fall away. The flare of his lighter and the familiar odor of cigarette smoke. She rolled off the bed, seeking her discarded clothing.

"Leaving so soon luv?" he asked, mocking her.

"I have to go."

Spike laughed. "That's right Daddy's waiting for his little girl."

"Leave him out of this!" she snarled, tugging her jeans over her hips. The vampire's mocking laugh seemed to surround her and then her demon lover was standing before her, kissing her, fangs teasing the soft skin of her neck. A chilled hand covered her breast, slid down her belly to cup her mound.

"Don't get high and mighty with me Goldilocks," he said, pressing a finger into her cunt and making her lean against him for support. "That's my seed drying between your thighs. What would the Scooby gang say if they knew where you went to get that itch scratched? Bet it would break the old man's heart if he saw you humping against me with my cock in your ass."

Using all her slayer's strength, Buffy pushed him away. Watching impassively as his naked body slammed into the bed. "I told you to leave him out of this! He can't know. He can never know."

"Sure baby, whatever you say. But we both know where you belong. You're an animal. A creature of the night same as me. A killer. You belong with me Slayer. I love you."

"No," Buffy sobbed. "It's not true. You don't know what love is. It's over. We're over."

Racing up the stairs, she could still hear him laughing. "It will never be over. You'll be with me till you die."

***********

A few blocks from her house, Buffy stopped running. Raking fingers though her tangled blond hair and straightening her clothes, she tried to cover the physical and emotional aftereffects of her tryst with Spike. It was late. With any luck everyone would be asleep and she could shower and slip into bed without notice. By morning, any wounds she'd received during their violent lovemaking would have disappeared. Of course she could always use the old excuse that she'd tangled with something nasty on patrol. Strange how the damage from demon fighting and demon fucking were so similar.

Quietly unlocking the kitchen door she moved into the dark room, not noticing the man sitting at the breakfast table until he spoke.

"It's late Buffy."

She jerked at the sound, grateful for the darkness so he wouldn't see the guilt in her eyes. "Giles. I didn't think you would still be up."

"I was worried," he said calmly, though his clipped accent was a bit slurred. "Dawn needed some papers signed and I tried to find you. Where were you?"

"Around," she said vaguely, searching out the Scotch bottle she knew must be close. "Dusted a few vamps. Stopped by Willy's to see if anything was going on. You finished giving me the third degree? I need a shower."

Sighing, her watcher walked to her side and nuzzled her neck. "Sorry luv. I was just concerned."

Buffy jerked at the contact. Not now. Now when she could still feel Spike's undead flesh touching hers. "Giles," she said, pulling away before he could taste the demon on her lips. "I'm tired. Let me take a shower and I'll join you in a little while."

He smiled in the dark. "Of course Buffy. I'm sorry I was so insensitive. Go get cleaned up. I'll be waiting in bed. "

*****

As she mounted the stairs, his face fell. It seemed so unfair that now that he held his heart's desire within his grasp that it would feel so horribly wrong. For nearly two months they had been lovers. Buffy in his arms. Buffy's soft lips against his skin.

It had happened quite unexpectedly. He'd planned to leave. Make her stand on her feet and take charge of her responsibilities. Had bought the plane tickets and only needed to find the courage to tell her. Then one night while lying on the Summers' worn sofa unable to sleep with the ache in his back and the kink in his neck, he'd turned to see her standing in the doorway. The streetlight made her nightgown nearly transparent and he could see the soft outline of her breasts, the tangle of curls at her thighs. He'd hardened painfully.

"You look uncomfortable," she'd said. "Why don't you sleep upstairs."

"I'm not kicking you out of your bed, Buffy."

"No, silly," she answered, reaching for his hand. "Sleep with me."

Maybe it was the exhaustion. Maybe it was the half bottle of whiskey he'd consumed earlier. Maybe his cock demanding release. But he didn't question his good fortune. Didn't wonder why his goddess was looking at him with soft, dreamy eyes. Only took her slender hand and allowed her to lead him upstairs and into her bedroom.

She slid his pajama bottoms over his straining cock and looking up at him with a shy smile, eased her lips over his length, her soft tongue dancing on his cockhead. His knees buckled and he fell to the bed with her hot mouth still surrounding his dick. It was every fantasy he'd ever had. She was every woman she'd ever wanted. She was his slayer. His Buffy. His love. His balls boiled and it took all his strength to drag her mouth from his groin to his lips. Kissing her softly, reverently, not wanting to frighten her with his desire, he gently suckled her breast, teasing the nipple into a hard peak. He withdrew his lips only to tug the silk negligee over her head. He eased a hand between then, felt her woman's wetness and raised back on his hips. Only then did he voice any caution. "Are you sure."

She blinked blue eyes and smiled her half smile. "I'm sure."

And then he sank into her depths, thrusting slowly, gently, always gentle. Too much of her life was harsh, he wanted their lovemaking to be always tender. Always special. And if his soul screamed for more, for darkness, it would be denied. They came together in a shuddering climax that left him weak and trembling. Enfolding her in his arms, he pulled her close. She snuggled into his chest. "I love you," he whispered into her hair.

I know," she answered. "Thank you."

She fell asleep almost immediately and though his heart was breaking, Giles continued to hold her close. To breathe her unique scent.

The following day he tore up his plane ticket and told Anya to put his name back on the business letterhead. When he returned to the house, he saw that his suitcase was in her room and she had cleared a space for his suits in her closet and emptied a drawer for his use.

He was surprised that the gang had so little to say concerning the new sleeping arrangements. Other than a few eww comments from Dawn, which Buffy had immediately squashed, the change occurred quietly. Anya and Xander were occupied with wedding plans and Willow had her own problems fighting magic withdrawal and her deteriorating relationship with Tara.

Time passed. And if Buffy came home late on occasion limping or with bruising, he asked no questions. And if she insisted on showering after patrol or making love in the dark, he asked no questions. And if she never answered his declarations of love . well he would survive. He felt like a coward, but he was terrified of pushing her, of losing her, of never waking up with her in his arms.

***********

Buffy winced as the scalding water stung the cuts on her wrists left by Spike's handcuffs. It wasn't the first time he'd brought toys into their bed and it certainly wasn't the first time his games had hurt. Spike's games always hurt. Knives particularly held a fascination for him. And a riding crop he claimed was a gift from Drusilla. She'd had to force an argument with Giles that kept him on the couch for two days while the welts healed. This betrayal couldn't go on. Eventually someone would figure it out. Giles would know the truth. He would send her away and the darkness would swallow her. Spike knew it. It was the reason why he kept their secret, because the longer she kept the truth hidden, the worse the fallout when discovered. She hated what she had become. Hated the lies. Hated looking at the love in Giles' eyes and knowing she was betraying him. Each time they would make love and he would whisper his oath and every time she turned from him. But how could she tell him that she loved him and continue fucking a vampire?

Dismayed and torn, Buffy turned off the water valves and briskly dried off with a sweet smelling towel. "He did the laundry," her inner voice whispered. "You were off fucking Spike while your lover was washing your towels."

Shaking her head, the slayer slipped into pajama bottoms and a long sleeved T-shirt that would conceal her bruises. She padded down the hall, relieved to see there was no light peeking beneath her bedroom door. The door creaked, but her watcher's breathing remained steady.

Buffy eased under the covers and settled against his chest. The graying hairs tickled her nose and she inhaled the warm masculine spice that was Giles. Spike, like Angel, had no odor, no texture. Just cool skin that felt like hard marble, while Giles' flesh was warm, creased and very human. Just lying in his arms made her feel safe. Made her believe she could be his golden girl. She was so afraid that he might one day look at her and see the darkness bubbling so close to the surface.

Her lover's arms tightened and he planted a gentle kiss in her hair. And like every night, Buffy shut her dark thoughts and fears away, hoping that he would never know.

A hard kick in the shin woke Giles immediately from pleasant dreams. The object of those dreams was thrashing on the bed beside him, flailing under the covers and crying out his name. Quickly, Giles flicked on the bedside light, at the same time grabbing her wrist before she accidentally slugged him. Without thinking, she cried out when his hand touched the half-healed wound.

Concerned, Giles pulled her hand beneath the light and gasped at the bruised and now bleeding flesh. Buffy yanked her hand away from his inspection, but not before he saw that her other wrist had undergone similar damage.

A sharp memory flashed in his head. Of silver handcuffs, leather whips and Angelus laughing. Buried under that recollection were nights of sweet pain, Ethan and tears.

He looked at Buffy cowering in the cool light and saw what the shadows and her bulky coat had hidden earlier. The bruise fading on her temple, another darker bruise on her jugular. The kind of bruise made by a vampire whose teeth were sheathed. A vampire? Spike.

"I'll kill him," he hissed. "Chip or not, I'll kill him. How dare he touch you. Buffy?" he said, shaking her. "I know Spike did this."

She was crying, choking sobs. Shuddering on the bed and looking at him with wild eyes. Aware that he was frightening her, Giles tried to control his temper. He reached out to her, but she jerked from his touch. "Shhh," he said soothingly. "It's okay sweetheart. Whatever happened, we'll work through it. I promise. I love you. Did he . did he rape you?"

Buffy's sob became a self-mocking laugh. "No .. No he didn't rape me. He never rapes me."

Realization at her words sent Giles stumbling backwards, his mouth gaping. Her eyes flashing fire, hair still wild from shower and sleep, Buffy continued laughing. Even with the truth washing over him in cold waves, Giles was horrified to discover he still wanted her.

"When?" the words barely whispered, but he knew instinctually the answer as if it had been in his mind all along. The night Willow had de-ratted Amy and come stumbling home at dawn exhausted from magic games. He and Buffy had been lovers for barely a week, but it was the first night she hadn't slept in his arms. "All night fight with a demon," she'd said and he had believed her. His heart was breaking. Oh sweet Jesus had he ever hurt this much? Worse than seeing Jenny lifeless in his bed. Worse than Angelus tracing his testicles with the knife. Worse even than hearing the crunch of bones after his slayer dove off a 20-story tower.

"Ithurtsithurtsithurtsohgodithurts," his mind screaming and Buffy laughing that crazy laugh. "nononononono." Falling down. Rug burning his knees. Hands clutching something fuzzy. That stupid pig, Mr. Gordo. The one that was always in the bed even when they made love.

"Why?" his voice rough with near tears. "Why would you do this to me."

She finally stopped laughing and it's somehow worse because instead of a crazy woman, it's Buffy. Beautiful Buffy. Soft, wounded, and needy. His darling woman child. His heart is breaking, but he wants to hold her. Still needs to take her pain away, warm her with his body. Keep her safe.

She looked at him sadly. Blue eyes filled with tears. Open and exposed. Full of love and shame. She loves him. Has to love him and his heart whispered that this is all a dream. Just a terrible nightmare. One of thousands he's had since becoming her Watcher. Buffy dying. Buffy becoming a vampire. Buffy looking at him with disdain. But all of those nightmares came true in a fashion. So were they dreams at all? A dream is a wish your heart makes. Nightmares are darkness. Nightmares twist reality? Then she speaks and he knows this is no dream. It is too real. To close to his own fears. Too much the truth. He is a middle-aged man desperately in love with a woman half his age, a woman with supernatural stamina who has touched the supernatural intimately. He is only human.

"I found your flight itinerary," she said, her voice warm and husky. Honey and spice. Dripping promises and sweet satisfaction. The voice he hears when he's cumming inside her. "I couldn't let you leave."

"You could have said something?" Is that him? That man sounds so calm. Giles is not calm. The woman he loves is eating his still beating heart. In his mind's eye he sees the blood staining her lips.

"Said something?" she said bitterly. Her eyes cold, numb. "Reminded you of duty? Of Love? You still would have left." Buffy rose from the bed and peeled her sleepwear from her body so she stands before him naked. "But my body. For my body you stayed."

And though Giles wants to deny her words, he is unable to speak because for the first time in days he is looking at his lover unclothed in the light. Bile in his throat. Hot, thick medicinal. The remains of the glass of whiskey he had for dinner. Naked Buffy has on occasion made him weep for joy, now he weeps in rage and despair. The golden skin his lips and fingers know intimately is mottled with bruises. Hard purple bruises on her hips. Mirror images made when a supernaturally strong man is fucking a woman who does not bruise easily. The bite on her neck he glimpsed earlier still glows as if lit from within. Its twin on her right breast, struck by the same mouth oozes blood. There are long curling stripes along her belly and thighs. A nagging voice in Giles' head tells him they are the marks made by a whip. The watcher bore similar marks in the not so distance past. Thin leather cracking in his ear, stinging his flesh.

All this he observed in seconds which feel like hours, but she moved closer, still speaking. Breasts brushing his chest. Her breath searing his Adam's apple. "Don't feel bad Giles. I was dying inside and you were willing to walk away, but I offered you a much, better, deal." And her delicate hand stroking his hard cock because he is naked. Always naked when sleeping with his Buffy.

"Why do you let him do those thing to you?" he asked, wanting to wrench from her touch, but unable to leave the tight warmth of her hand.

Buffy grinned wickedly, "Let him? Giles I beg him to hurt me."

Despite his bleeding heart, her words and knowing fingers aroused him beyond control and for the first time in their brief intimacy and long friendship Giles releases the Ripper. Hands twisting in her hair, he crushed her mouth to his, tongue sweeping her mouth and relishing the sweet copper blood where his teeth cut her lips. Laved his tongue over the bleeding bite on her breast like a mother cat cleaning her young. Teased her nipples until they are tight points, painful and near bursting. Raking his back with her fingernails, he growled, a feral animal claiming his mate. Cock jutting hard and angry against her belly. A slight shift and he pushes inside. A sharp crack when her head strikes the wooden floor. His thrusts deep, fast and not for her pleasure. Regardless, she cums with a primal roar, her orgasm triggering a dark echo from her lover. For one moment, with their eyes closed and hearts beating wildly, Giles forgets the past. The Ripper is sated by this female and that is good. Eyes open and the moment slips away.

With physical effort, Giles pulled his cock from the wet vise of her cunt. Hoisting his large, still quivering body to his feet, he rummaged though the hamper for clothing. Jeans, a thin T-shirt. She is silent watching him dress. Giles speaks four languages, can understand a half dozen others, but words have never been their forte. Action, passion, fists. Long meaningful glances and burning glares. This is their communication. It fails them. He sees a calculating temptress who twisted his love to her purposes. She sees yet another man walking out her door.

"You were wrong about one thing Buffy," he said finally. "I didn't stay because I wanted you. I stayed because I believed you wanted me." The quiet click of her door. The heavy tread of shoes on the stairs. Another door squeaks open. He is gone.

***********

After three years, the rusty brown streaks still show against the smooth, gray stone. A wooden chair covered in cobwebs leans heavily against the wall. Unconsciencely Giles flexed his right wrist, knowing that his fist will never be tight because the bones in that hand did not knit properly. Broken fingers do not heal, when one ignores doctor's orders in favor of searching for a young girl who does not wish to be found.

"I thought I'd find you here," a tired voice echoing in the cavernous room. He didn't move when a soft hand settled on his shoulder. Catching a glimpse of bright red hair in the corner of his eye, he smiled slightly. Willow.

"Of course the options were limited," she continued. "Your apartment has been sublet. You weren't at the Magic Box and the old library still has a rather nasty leak."

Grimly teasing her back he replied, "As I recall the library is missing a school."

"Yes, well those things happen when there's a gas leak."

"Drug gangs on PCP."

"Backed up sewers."

"City officials who transform into giant snakes." Her grin was infectious and Giles barked out a laugh that was too loud and too harsh for the slight joke. "They were good times," she said, remembering the musty smell of ancient books, the tang of oil he used on the weapons. The way Giles would bang on the computer in frustration and look to her for help. Xander may have been her first love, Oz her first lover and Tara her first everything, but Giles had been the first man to see beyond the white tights and knitted sweaters to the untapped potential inside. She'd had a bit of a crush on Buffy's watcher in the early days, but mostly she'd just genuinely liked him. And while Buffy and Xander teased him about his books, in Giles Willow had discovered a kindred spirit who considered her studious nature a quality to be cherished rather than ridiculed. Just looking at him now made her heart hurt.

It had actually been extremely easy to find him. Angel's abandoned mansion on Crawford Street had been her first choice when she found Buffy scrubbing her body raw in the shower near dawn. The hot water was long gone and except for the maniacal scrubbing, her best friend was near catatonia. With Dawn's help, she'd coaxed Buffy out of the bathroom, but she'd flat out refused to go to her own bedroom. Instead, they'd settled her in Dawn's room and tried to make sense out of her incoherent ramblings. Willow had a rough idea. Buffy had slept with Spike. Giles had found out. Giles was gone. With Dawn under strict orders to keep vigil over her sister, Willow called Tara for assistance. She hadn't waited for her ex-lover's arrival, but left immediately.

Watching him in the shadows, scuffing his toe against the blood stained floor, Willow could nearly blink back years to the summer following 11th grade when she and Xander had witnessed Giles quietly and with minimal fuss self-destruct. Buffy had run away, possibly with a re-cursed Angel, and the remaining Scoobies were trying rather unsuccessfully to keep the vampire population under control until her return. It had been Xander who first initiated the unofficial suicide watch. Giles' bloodshot eyes. His tendency to stare into space. Xander had a lifetime of experience watching adults fall apart with a bottle in hand.

"It was awful Will," she recalled Xander trying describe rescuing Giles from the mansion that morning when the world hadn't ended. Her oldest friend sobbing in her lap. She had still been in a wheelchair. Oz was on the road with the Dingoes and Cordelia in Mexico with her parents. "What they did to him. The blood. He didn't know what was real, that I was real. And Buffy never even looked to see if he was all right. She still only saw Angel."

So they watched the Watcher. Xander, offering a half-baked story about fights with his father, slept most nights on the librarian's sofa. Willow mothering them both. It was easier when Mrs. Summers finally confronted Giles about Buffy's absence and admitted to their fight. It gave Giles direction, convinced him to search. But despite their vigilance, he still managed to elude them on occasion until Xander thought to look in the mansion. They never disturbed him. Just watched in the shadows as he cried, screamed out frustrations, beat his broken fingers against the wall. Angry at a slayer who abandoned him, furious at the gods who abandoned them all.

"How is she?" he asked breaking the silence and surprising Willow that even in his grief, despite all she has done to hurt him, he could still only think of Buffy.

"Not so good," she said, remembering those haunted blue eyes swirling with rage, sexuality and the torment of the damned. Her friend's bruised flesh. Crying out for Giles to forgive her and cursing him with her next breath. "There's something wrong with her Giles. Really wrong. The old Buffy would never have."

"Fucked a vampire," he interrupted. "I may be a stupid, old man Willow, but I'm not senile." Memories of Angel, their friend, enemy and ally, moved in the brightening shadows. Dark-haired, brooding, handsome and deadly. The way he looked at Buffy, as though she was his sunlight.

"This is different," the witch insisted. "We're talking Spike. Spike doesn't have a soul. Spike is evil."

"So was Angelus and she still couldn't kill him," he said bitterly, remembering a dark-haired woman with a gentle smile. "Not when it counted for Jenny." He laughed softly in the dark lost in memories. "Do you know when I first knew I was in love with her?

"Miss Calendar?" Willow asked confused."

"No. My Slayer."

"I never really thought about it," Willow answered, considering. "After the Watcher's test with the vampire on steroids? Buffy told me what Travers said when he fired you. But that's kind of icky now that .. you know."

"Yes, I hadn't really thought of it like that, but it wasn't then. Oh don't get me wrong Travers was right. I loved her. I loved her courage, was terribly proud of her. Even a little bit in awe. I was her Watcher. She was my Slayer and like all of you, still very, very young."

"Oh ..," Willow said thoughtfully. "What changed?"

He answered her with a question. "What did Buffy tell you about out excursion to the desert last spring?"

Willow scrunched her eyes. "Not much. Something about you, the Hokey Pokey a magic gourd, a cougar that led her to the First Slayer. Did something happen to you?"

Giles smiled. A magic older than first civilization and his Slayer boils it down to a horrible dance craze. "The purpose of the Hokey Pokey, as Buffy so eloquently phrases it, was to transfer my guardianship of the Slayer to a spirit guide. In her case it was the cougar.

"I performed the ritual, felt something, a buzz . a force. I looked to her and it was as if a veil had been lifted, the flick of a light switch, and I was seeing her for the first time. Not my Slayer. Not my charge or duty. Just a woman. A beautiful, desirable, sexy woman. And I knew that I was in love with her. Painfully in love with her. Wanting her like oxygen.A slow burn."

Willow knelt beside him, the hard stone rough on her knees. "Giles. I know this is hard for you to hear. I know you're angry with me about the spell, about bringing her back. Did I do this? Because there is something wrong with her. Really wrong because it's not just about her being with Spike. I. I saw her and what's been going on. It's not normal."

Consequences. There were always consequences even with the best of intentions. The young witch and the older sorcerer considered their actions. In trying to save her friend from death, she had pulled Buffy from Heaven and eternal peace. Magic used to reverse the natural order.

"It wasn't your spell," Giles said softly, taking her hand. "Though I still believe it was rash and ill-advised, you didn't cause this to happen. . It was me."

Looking at him with questions in her eyes.

"As long as demons have walked the earth there has been the Slayer," he recited, as if in a dream. "Primal, acting on pure emotion. A weapon of muscle and action. Fierce. She fought alone, died alone and another was called. And then the first watcher came. A human versed in magics, knowledge and history to hone the weapon and give it direction. The bond grounds the Slayer, allowing her to walk in the worlds of both demon and human. Without the bond, the Slayer would truly become a creature of the night, of the darkness."

A ghostly laugh echoing on the edge of her mind. Faith. Faith, the other slayer, Buffy's dark twin. Faith, who had witnessed her watcher's murder and never had another to fill the void. Faith, who had turned from the light. A killer now seeking redemption in an L.A. prison.

Understanding flooded Willow as she sought his eyes, " In the desert. You never resumed the bond. Well that's great, you just shake the gourd and it will be right again. Buffy will be fixed. and what's wrong?"

His fingers were tracing faint scars on his wrists, fine white lines like criss-crossing spiderwebs. The bloodstains seemed to glow in the early light. He spoke hesitantly "When the ritual is complete, when the bond is in place, so will the shield that prevented me from being with her."

"Well that's stupid," the redhead declared. "Who came up with such a stupid rule?"

"Think about this carefully Willow," Giles explained, staring at the bloodied floor. "The Slayer is on the front line of the battle between good and evil. The Watcher must train and prepare her to follow her duty. Even the Powers that Be are not so cruel as to ask one to send their lover to die. It would be barbaric."

Willow knew there was no choice. Buffy was already nearly gone, as evidenced by her interlude with Spike. But it was unbearable. To give up his lover to save her soul. It was Angel all over again. She felt his strong, warm fingers close over her smaller, chilled hand. She smiled. It was so like Giles to offer comfort and not expect any for himself. Giles and Buffy together had seemed so fundamentally right. And knowing that they had found each other had relieved some the guilt she felt about pulling Buffy from heaven. But what Spike had done to her friend was a nightmare. It couldn't continue.

"When it's over. Will you . will she remember?"

"I don't know," he said. "Perhaps. I don't really understand how the bond affects the Slayer. Before . Buffy never gave any indication that she was attracted to me. It will likely be that way again."

"That's horrible."

"Yes," he agreed. "Isn't it."

******************************

Buffy blinked blurry eyes. Her Slayer's senses telling her it was nearing sunset. She spied a Back Street Boy poster on the wall and knew she was in Dawn's room. Confused, she tried to remember why she was in her sister's bed. A pain lanced through her shoulder and a strange swirling image of Spike and Giles danced though her memory. A noise in the chair by the bed startled her.

"You're awake," a familiar accented voice spoke.

She cringed in the bed, afraid to look at him. Afraid to see the hate in his eyes. She felt his hand stroking her hair and instinctually moved into his caress. Tears left shiny tracks down her face. A finger slipped under her chin, forcing her to look at him. His green eyes glittered with unshed tears, soft and sad.

"Giles . I ..I."

He cut her words with the brush of a finger against her lips. "Shh. You don't need to say anything. What is happening isn't your fault."

Buffy tried to speak and again he prevented her words. "I love you. I love you more than my own life. Know that in your heart." He brushed his hand over her eyes. "Close your eyes." He dragged his lips across hers in a whisper soft kiss. She felt his warm breath across her cheek. "By the Blood of the First Slayer. Across the sands of time. From dusk to dawn. I walk by her side. I bind her to the light. I bind myself to her."

Their eyes pulsed blue and green fire. Giles felt his memories slipping away. Images of loving Buffy, of her lying naked in the morning light tucked in his arms. "No," his heart begged. "Don't take them all." But magic shows little pity for the softer human emotions. For one moment he held her gaze knowing that despite everything, she too had loved him and then it vanished. She was his Slayer no longer his lover.

For Buffy the fire blazed hotter, warming the parts of her soul, which had been numb since before her resurrection. The darkness, which forced her into Spike's cold embrace, lightened and then disappeared. The anger at her friends stopped burning. Her heart opened and she found Giles' looking down at her with love and compassion. "This is love," she thought. "Real love. I wonder if ." A whisper in her mind that she had forgotten something wonderful, something precious and then it was just Giles, her Watcher and friend.

From the doorway Willow looked on. She would need to inform the others of the situation and something must be done about Spike. She saw her friends hold each other's gaze. Witnessed love burn hot and then diminish. The sacrifice for destiny and duty had never seemed so costly.

The End