DISTRIBUTION: Anywhere, anytime...just let me know.
CLASSIFICATION: Buffy and Giles, of course!
DISCLAIMER: I don't own any of these characters; those lovely people at Warner Brothers do. I'm just borrowing them for a day or two--I'll give them back in mint condition, I promise.
SPOILERS: The Dark Age
Her hair is spread out on the pillow, a golden cascade of curls so starkly striking against the dark blue of the linen. It is beautiful. She is beautiful. Giles smiles to see her, so small, so innocent and trusting, asleep on the bed that has somehow becomes theirs. The sight is somehow so incongruous and yet so right that he stops in the doorway to watch. Buffy doesn't really fit in his dark, old-fashioned room with its heirloom furniture and traditional decoration. He has seen her room, in her mother's house, and it fits her perfectly. He loves it, all bright colours and well-loved stuffed animals, her closet full of her extraordinary outfits. That is where she belongs, but she chooses to be with him. She chooses the darkness every time, and he loves her for it.
Her breath puffs out of her perfect mouth, and when he leans in close he can feel its warmth on his cheek. He smiles again, and brushes a loose curl off her forehead with a gentle touch. She makes a small sound in her sleep, and pushes her face into his palm, like a kitten seeking comfort. He is loath to wake her, and he retreats. Buffy so rarely sleeps that he doesn't dare disturb her. Better let her rest. He doesn't know when she will get the chance again. The Hellmouth is notoriously inconsiderate of people's sleeping habits, and she is so beautiful when she sleeps. Her face in repose is something he clings to in his darkest moments. The mere remembrance of the look of peace and serenity on her features as she lies in his bed is better than any charm or spell.
He had wanted to take it slowly, so terrified was he of ruining everything, of frightening her away, but she is no coward. She would never run from him, she promises, only to him. Buffy is like a hurricane, sweeping through his life and mixing up his well-ordered existence. After Eghyon Giles had feared chaos, disruption, and all that engendered it. He was so afraid of losing his hard-worn control, but with her there is none of that. He knows in his heart that she will catch him. He needn't fear anything with her, because she is strong enough for both of them. Sometimes he wonders what he is doing, whether his decisions have the taint of a irrational man to them, but she never lets him wonder for long. She doesn't like it when he is too introspective. He loves that about her: she doesn't have a contemplative bone in her body. Everything is black and white to Buffy, including their relationship. They love each other, and to her that was all that matters.
Two weeks after their first kiss, he was working by the fire, books and papers scattered all around him. It was a wet night and he had trouble concentrating. She was on patrol again, and he worried about her, alone in the cold night. He wished he had gone with her, but she had told him not to. He was recovering from a bad cold, and she had spent the last week nursing him back to health. "I'm not seeing all my hard work go to waste," she said with a smile as she tucked the blanket more firmly around him and left him with a kiss, sitting by the fire looking after her. As the door closed behind her all he remembered thinking was much he loved her.
There was a terrific hammering at the door, the kind of noise only a Slayer in trouble could make, and a high-pitched voice crying his name. "Giles!" she screamed, her fists thumping against the door, "Giles, please! Oh God, Giles, let me in! Hurry!" He was up in an instant, books flying everywhere as he ran to the door. There was a sudden silence, broken only by an evil chuckle, and as he wrenched the door open his skin had gone horribly cold. Buffy was pinned to the wall by three vampires, one with his mouth to her throat, her beautiful elegant throat that he loved to kiss, a dark trickle of blood already staining the white of her skin.
Buffy came so close to dying that he still shudders to remember it. If he had been upstairs, if he had been in the bathroom, if he had asleep...she might have died. The world would have known the Slayer by a name other than ‘Buffy', and Giles hates the thought. Whenever it surfaces he pushes it back down again, back down into the deepest recesses of his nightmares. She always laughs it off, refers to it as one of the dangers of the job, and reminds him that he saved her, as he always has done. But he knows there will come a day when he can't save her, when he won't be there, and he dreads its arrival every moment. Not only the thought that she might die, but that she might die alone. He knows he should stop her friends patrolling with her, that the risk to them is too great, but he cannot find it within himself to say the words. He doesn't want her to die alone, and if he himself cannot be there then somebody should.
He wishes he could tell her these things, mould his nightmares into words, but he knows she wouldn't understand. She doesn't know how much he loves her, it isn't in her to comprehend the depth of his feelings for her. She doesn't know what it feels like to be the sole thing of importance in someone's life, because he doesn't know how to show her. Giles knows they sometimes laugh affectionately at his British reserve, but it is more than just a cultural idiosyncrasy. He wasn't brought up the way they were, in a land of warmth and openness. His home was cold and lonely, and he doesn't know how to tell people he loves them. He never had to before her. He says the words, but somehow they can't convey the true meaning behind them adequately. There is so much more that needs to be said, but there are no words with which to say it.
The house is so quiet and in the pre-dawn hush all Giles can hear is his own heartbeat. It is these moments he treasures most, when he can potter around downstairs, doing whatever needs to be done, knowing that if he gets to missing Buffy too much all he need do is walk up the stairs. He's a private man, and he isn't used to sharing all of himself with another person, so he needs time to himself. But there are mornings when he doesn't want to leave the warmth of their bed, when he can't bear to let her out of his arms. She is so soft and pliant against him, her cheek resting on his chest, her arms around him loosely. He holds her until she awakes, with a yawn and a ready smile. Sometimes they make love, and sometimes they just lie looking at one another, their hearts in their eyes.
He doesn't allow himself to think of Angel very often, but occasionally he cannot help himself. He knows that the vampire played a major role in making Buffy the woman she is, and he respects that. He knows she loved him very much, and he would not dare deny her the memories. She still talks about him from time to time, and Giles doesn't mind. He knows there is only room for one man in her heart, and he is that man. He doesn't feel threatened. He trusts her. He knows that if Angel showed up in Sunnydale tomorrow his love would welcome him with all her heart, and when he left again she would have no qualms about watching him walk away.
He told her once that she had terrible taste in men. It was only meant as a joke, at his own expense more than hers, but Buffy got very angry. He can still see the ferociously protective, loving look in her eyes as she cupped his face in her hands. "I love you," she said fiercely, her tone brooking no argument. "You know that. I love you. Do you think I care that you're older than me? Do you think anyone does? You are the best thing that ever happened to me. Why do you always put yourself down like that? Why can't you see yourself the way we do?" He had no answer, of course. He could only shrug helplessly, his eyes beseeching her to understand. She kissed him roughly, her lips softening the moment he responded. He could taste the salt of her tears as she cried, and he wished he had the words to take the pain away. "I love you," she whispered, and that was when he said the words for the first time.
That she loves him is, to Giles, the greatest miracle of them all. He had almost convinced himself that his love for her was wrong when there she was, tears in her eyes, her hands held out to him, begging him to love her. He doesn't know what prompted her sudden realisation and he won't ask. It isn't pride that keeps him from asking, merely a lack of curiosity. He doesn't need to know. It is enough that she is with him, in his arms, in his life. The reasons why aren't important.
Giles stops in the kitchen, kettle in hand, listening carefully. He can hear her moving upstairs, and he smiles. She isn't a morning person like him, but sometimes she purposely rises early to surprise him. There are rare occasions when she is up before him, when he is greeted by a smile, a kiss and a cup of tea in bed. It often surprises him that she can be so thoughtful, but he never mentions it. She is so young and exuberant; he doesn't expect her to think of him before herself. She is blinded by the single-mindedness of youth, and he understands completely. It helps that he has been through it all before.
"Buffy?" he calls, and there is a sudden silence from above. He hears the closet door close and her footsteps cross the floor. He hears the creak of the loose floorboard by the stairs, and reminds himself to fix it at some point. Everytime he steps on it he freezes, terrified that the noise will wake her. Giles puts the kettle back on the counter and emerges from the kitchen, in time to watch her glide across the floor towards him. Her hair is mussed and she wears ones of his shirts and nothing else. He is enchanted by the picture she makes. "Good morning," he says, and she smiles.
Latching her arms around his neck, she leaps up and wraps her legs around his waist. She does this every morning without fail, and he looks forward to her routine. He wraps his arms around her and smiles as she leans in for a kiss. She refuses to speak in the mornings before she has kissed him. He doesn't complain. "Mmm." Leaning back, Buffy regards him with a sleepy, heavy-lidded look and says, "It is now."
"Sleep well?" he asks, feasting his eyes on her exquisite face. Sometimes the love he feels for her swells up inside him--his heart feels too big for his chest, and he is afraid he will just explode. She has become such an integral part of his life now; he cannot breathe without her. She leans into him, resting her head on his shoulder, and he holds her like he would hold a child. Sometimes Buffy can be so childlike, and these are the times he wonders what he is doing with her. He knows Buffy is his soulmate, but he doesn't always know that he is hers. They are so different, opposite ends of the spectrum.
"Wonderfully well," she says, her unique smile curving her mouth. "But it would have been even nicer if you'd been there. What are you doing down here?" Her face contorts into a mock-pout and he kisses the pout away until she is squirming in his arms, giggling and squealing.
It is enough. He knows there is so much more he wishes for, a lifetime together, a family, but this is enough. To ask for any more would be asking too much. He once swore that if only he could Buffy safe within his arms his life would be complete, and he was not lying. This is enough.