De veritatibusAUTHOR: Gabriele Schulz
"Alcohol? There has got to be a better way."
"I guess we could get something at a drugstore, but then we'd have quite a bit of explaining to do."
"All right. I think I have a bottle of whiskey somewhere here."
Giles went for the cupboard on the other side of the backoffice, when Willow spoke again.
"Eh, I don't think one bottle will be enough for the three of us."
He turned around.
"What?! How much do we need to kill these damn things in us?"
She held the book up to him.
"Afraid Giles? Don't wanna be drunk under the table by teenagers?"
Giles glared at Xander.
"I'm certainly not concerned about myself."
"What are you saying? That I can't handle a little drinking?"
An hour later Xander lay unconscious on the couch, as was Willow. Oz sat between them stroking Willow's cheek.
"I hope they'll be fine."
"Don't worry, Giles. They'll have one hell of a headache, but at least they'll be rid of their little guests."
"Yes. Well, I think I'll lie down a little myself."
He nodded towards Oz and then went almost without staggering into the hidden room past their private stacks to the couch situated at the end of the room.
When he sat down, he was surprised to see that Buffy had followed him.
"What are you doing here?"
"Looking after you."
"I'm quite fine, thank you."
"Giles, I know that you can take a lot, but I know that you're drunk, and you'd kill me if anything happened to those books."
"Buffy, I can handle this. And I won't touch any books. You can really leave me alone."
"I'm getting the feeling that you want to get rid of me."
"My, are we perceptive."
"See? I told you. You are drunk. You'd never have said that when you weren't. Maybe to Cordelia, but..."
He sighed in exasperation.
"Why don't you just go and help Oz looking after the others."
"They have passed out."
"Exactly. And I will try to get some sleep, too."
"God, Giles, it's not like I haven't seen you drunk before."
He lay down on the couch and looked up at her in a peculiar way.
"Just leave me alone."
She was worried now, realizing that it was not that he didn't want her to see him drunk but something else.
"Giles, what are you afraid of?"
He turned to his side, so that she could only see his back. She crouched down next to the couch and turned him back.
He looked at her and then lifted his hand to gently stroke her right cheek. Then he turned around again.
She looked at him not moving and not knowing what to make of that.
After a minute he spoke without turning around.
She put her hand on his shoulder and turned him around again.
"You haven't answered me yet."
He looked at her and then leaned towards her and gave her a quick kiss on the mouth, before turning his back to her again.
Buffy looked totally perplexed, then got up to join Oz.
Giles sighed in relief.
When he was nearly asleep, he once again felt a hand on his shoulder turning him around.
"Buffy, I thought..."
"I have to know." She interrupted him.
"No, I... I have to know, and I have to know *now* because when you're sober you'll get all watcherly again. I thought about it and I come up with three possibilities. One: You wanted to let me know that I should go, because you might do or say things, you don't mean and kissing me was just an example."
He looked away, sighing, but she went on.
"Two: You wanted me to go because you wanted to do... this with me, because you aren't yourself and feeling weird things, you'd never think about normally."
"*Three*: You want me to go, because you don't want me to know that you... that you want to do these things, whether you're drunk or not, but now that you're drunk you can't hide them so well."
They looked at each other for a while. When it didn't seem as if he would answer Buffy asked him.
"Which one is it, Giles? Why do you want me to go?"
He sat up and looked at her.
"I don't want you to go anymore."
With that he took her in his arms and kissed her. Buffy struggled a little at first, but then couldn't help responding to his wonderful kiss. When he pushed his tongue into her mouth, she knew that this was wrong but she felt a tingling sensation going through her whole body from the point where their tongues met. Then rational thought took over again and she pushed him away.
"All right, so it isn't the first. Second or third, Giles? I have to know!"
He jumped up from the couch, angry now.
"'Giles, I have to know!' God, why don't you just open your eyes, girl."
She flinched at the harshness of his words.
"Buffy, I wouldn't have to tell you if you weren't so damn blind."
"Not 'Giles...'. It's never Giles. It's Angel. It's always Angel. Angel, the center of your world. The only thing you see. It's making you so blind that you can't see anything that's going on around you."
"Is everything okay?"
Oz had come up after hearing the yelling.
"Everything all right."
Buffy motioned to Oz, that he should leave again.
"Sure, Buffy. Everything all right. Just an old drunk man. I'm astonished that you can say that though. I mean now that Angel's gone."
"Giles, you're drunk."
"I am indeed. Because, when I'm not I can feel sorry for you. Poor Buffy. Since I know you, it's Angel this and Angel that. Thinking of him, lusting for him. Three long years beginning with 'Cryptic Guy', then '*sigh* Angel', then 'Oh, God, he's a vampire, what will I do. Ah, nothing. I'm in love with him, so I'll just ignore that.'. Hugging. Smooching. And then poor Buffy couldn't wait or think and just had to shag the vampire, but *surprise* now he's a bad, bad boy."
Tears were forming in Buffy's eyes. More than the words themselves it was the contempt, pain and disgust in them, that were breaking her heart.
"'I'm afraid I have to kill him. Boohoo. How horrible life can be. Oops, he killed Jenny. Giles, I'm *so* sorry I couldn't kill him for you, but now I'm ready'."
The tears were running down her face now.
"Well, you were. Kind of. You sent him to hell, and as he was your life, *his* end meant *your* end as well. So you just walked away from your so-called friends."
His words were harsh and loud but he was too drunk to care.
"Not a single note. You left nothing to let us know you're alive, but I guess, since Angel meant all and everything to you, you saw no reason to inform us."
"That's not true, I thought of you every day."
"That's right. And you did come back, didn't you. And fortunately for you, so did he."
"I know, I should have told you..."
"But you didn't. It was Angel. You had your life back, what else did matter? Certainly not your old Watcher."
"Giles, that's not..."
"*Friends*. That's what you would be. 'But then again maybe I want more. But Giles, I swear I won't shag him. Really!' God, that it was *Angel*, who had to tell you that this would never work. But of course it was him. Poor Buffy after all is blinded by her love. 'Buffy and Angel forever'. And you want to know what I feel for you. If you'd have cared only a bit, you would have seen. Angel means everything to you, more than your own life even, but I'll tell you something, Buffy. Compared to what you mean to me, your feelings for Angel are nothing."
She wanted to hug him, but he pushed her away violently.
"How dare you. And now leave, before I do something, I could never live with."
His teeth were clenched and he stared at her fiercly.
A new flow of tears started to spring from Buffy's eyes and she ran out sobbing.
She sat down at the table in the backoffice and when she stopped crying she looked at Oz, who was watching her.
"Is he right? I mean, did you have any idea that he was feeling this way?"
"Well, I had a hunch."
"And Willow was sure."
"Oh, God. Was I really so blind? I always feared that I had hurt him, but that he felt like that! He thinks that I only cared about Angel, but that's not true. You mean so much too me. All of you."
She started sobbing again, burying her head in her hands. Then she felt a hand on her shoulder and got up thinking it would be Oz, who offered his shoulder to cry on. But it was Giles who now stroked her hair.
"I'm sorry, Buffy."
"You? *I* am sorry."
She looked up at him and saw nothing but compassion in his eyes. He took her hand and led her into the hidden room, where they sat on the sofa next to each other. There was a silence before Giles started.
"I didn't mean most of that. I was drunk and not myself."
"And now you're sober again?"
"Realizing what I was ready to do to you was sobering enough."
"And now you'll tell me that you love me like a daughter."
She looked at him.
"But that's only a small part of what I feel for you. And it's by no means the strongest."
He smiled weakly at her.
"Oh, Buffy, our relationship has always been very complex. I never meant to make it even more chaotic, but I have to admit, that I'm glad it's out and we're both clear about our feelings now."
"Are we not?"
"You said you loved me, well, you didn't really *say* it, but - as you said - it's out, but what about *my* feelings?"
"What about your feelings?"
"I... I've had some strange dreams. Not many really, actually only three, but..."
"What kind of dreams are we talking about?"
"Let's just say they were about you and they were x-rated."
"Buffy, just because you have strange dreams, doesn't..."
"I know", she interrupted him, "I mean I have dreamed about people, who I *most* definitely do not want to be with or anything, but when I woke after dreaming of you I felt, I don't know, kinda... weird."
"Was that when you dropped that spell book?"
She looked down.
"Yes. I mean you sneaked up on me and when you tipped on my shoulder it was like a bolt through my whole body."
"And I wondered what you were so nervous about."
A smile played on his face. Then it faded away.
"That still doesn't mean, that you love me. Angel is gone for only a month. He meant so much to you and now that he's gone, you look for something else. And..."
"No Giles. It's not just replacing Angel. And it's not just those dreams and the uneasy feeling after that. When you kissed me it felt... it felt like nothing since Angel. I've never felt that with anyone else, but with you."
"Yes. But I did feel it with you. Doesn't that mean that I love you?"
"*Do* you love me?"
"I... I don't know."
He nodded, patted her on the knee and got up.
"Where are going?"
"I'm sober enough to open the store again."
"I don't think we're finished talking."
"I think we are."
They said nothing for a while.
"Buffy, you have to find out for yourself, whether you think you love me. When you do, let me know, so that I can decide, whether I believe you."
It was quite clear that he didn't think he would believe her. And that made her angry. He started walking out. She went after him and pulled his left arm, stopping him and turning him around to her.
"Why are you so damn sure, I don't love you?"
He only looked at her and turned around again walking through the backoffice into the display room.
Buffy ran after him.
"Giles, I'm talking to you."
"You don't even know, if you love me. Why should *I* believe you do?"
"Because I do."
He turned around to her. Her look was determined.
"I love you."
"No, you don't."
He turned around again and changed the sign from closed to open.
He wanted to open the lock, when Buffy whirled him around and kissed him passionately, but he pushed her away, not violently, but firmly.
"Buffy, that isn't love. I know that you want nothing more in the world, than having what you and Angel were never allowed to have. But falling in love with the next best guy who looks at you will not give you that. Even if *I* happen to be that guy."
"But you love me."
"And that is exactly why I have to tell you that. Buffy, I want you to be happy.
But just because I love you and we are good friends and you are willing to sleep with me, doesn't mean that I could make you happy. It just isn't enough, Buffy."
Tears began rolling down her already wet cheek once again.
"Well, if that's not enough, how about something else? How about I sometimes don't wake you up immediately, but watch you sleep in the backoffice after a night of research. How about I hate getting up in the morning, but then I think that I will see you and jump out of the bed. How about whenever I catch you looking at me and you look away quickly, it lights up my heart and I can't keep myself from smiling.
Giles, I am not blind, I just never thought, that you loved me. And I never thought that I loved you.
How about I am a stupid, blind fool with a rotten sense of timing."
With that she slid to the ground, a crying pile of misery.
Giles looked at her for an eternity, not knowing what to say, do or think. How could he doubt her feelings for him? Why was it easier to ridicule her and stay in a constant state of self-pity? Who was he to judge, what would make her happy? What would make *them* happy?
He looked up to see Oz standing in the door to the backoffice. What he saw in his eyes was compassion for both of them and encouragement. There was no such thing as a relationship without problems or a guarantee of love. Oz was a werewolf in love with a witch. He was a Watcher in love with his Slayer. And just as Willow returned Oz' feelings, Buffy returned his. Whether they could be happy together, they wouldn't know until they tried.
He got down on his knees in front of Buffy and put his arms around her, but she pushed him away.
"I don't want your pity."
He firmly gripped her wrists, but she looked down, struggling to get out of his grip.
"Leave me alone."
He let go of one hand, lifted up her chin ignoring the free hand, that tried to shove him away. Her eyes were closed. When she felt his lips on hers, she realized what he wanted and immediately stopped struggling instead moving her arms around his neck and pushing her tongue inside his mouth. Her passionate efforts were so powerful that he fell down on his back and Buffy on top of him.
She lovingly looked down at him and then hugged him fiercly.
"Buffy... I can't breathe..."
She stopped and rolled off him, smiling. She stood up and held out one hand to help him up. She was standing towards the entrance of the store now and Giles with his back to the backoffice. They exchanged a smile and then kissed again.
"Oh, God, I must be hallucinating. I can see Giles kissing someone in the store."
Giles turned around and Buffy looked past him, thereby revealing herself to Xander, who wasn't fully conscious yet.
Then he passed out, falling noisily on the floor, before Oz could catch him.
"I think that went pretty well."
Giles smiled at her comment and kissed her once again before examining how much damage had been done to Xander's body and ego.