Feelin' the Buffy-Love
Disclaimer: BtVS is owned by Mutant Enemy and whoever's distributing it at the time you read this.
Title: Feelin' the Buffy-Love
Spoilers: Season five through "Intervention"
Summary: A ceremony, a demon, a spell, a game, bedtime.
Rupert Giles stood in his kitchen pouring a glass of orange juice when he heard a knock at the door. Few people would call on him at this hour of the morning; perhaps it was a neighbour come to complain about the noise last night. The music had been rather loud, under the circumstances.
He answered the door, glass in hand. Xander Harris and Willow Rosenberg rushed in, both looking disheveled. "Morning, Giles." Willow seemed perky, despite the concern in her eyes. "Buffy said youíd know how to contact her in LA."
"I do." His two young friends seated themselves on his couch and he on the chair. "Why? Is there a problem?"
Willow nodded vigorously. "We were all on our way out for breakfast, but Dawn wanted to go by the house first to get some stuff, and when we got there, there was this, this thing!" She shuddered.
Xander broke in, "To sum up: big, ugly, sunlight-loviní demon staking out the Summersí home. Since when do you drink orange juice?"
"Man cannot live on tea alone. Staking out? You mean itís just standing there?" He reflexively took a sip of the juice, wincing at the bitterness.
"Actually, itís in a tree across the road. It blends in really well, but itís definitely looking at the house," Willow said.
"Damn. Whereís Dawn now?"
"We didnít stop at the house. Tara and Anya have her at the store. We reinforced the wards and then Xander and I came here."
"Whatís it look like?"
"Itís kind of greyish-brown and scaly. With horns. Or maybe branches. It was hard to tell. You have to call Buffy!"
Giles nodded. "I have to call Buffy." He stood and walked to the base of the stairs. "Buffy!"
"Yeah?" A voice drifted down from above.
"Itís time to come back from LA now."
"Do I have to?" The voice was a little stronger, but no less petulant.
"I believe you do." He moved back to the chair.
"Okay." They heard thumping noises, and then a pajama-clad Buffy appeared on the stairs.
Willow and Xander stared in shock as Buffy came to sit with them.
"Whatís up? Something Hellmouthy?" Giles handed her the glass, still full of juice, and she drank from it gratefully.
"Buffy!" Willowís eyes were huge. "What are you doing here? You said you were going to LA!"
"I lied. I didnít feel right leaving Sunnydale again so soon with Glory around, but I didnít want to be with other people. The sympathy was getting cloying."
"But Giles is here."
"Giles isnít other people." At Willowís glare she added, "Oh, not in a bad way. Giles is like another part of me. The older, wiser, smarter, less self-involved part, but part of me nonetheless." She looked at him and smiled.
He smiled back. "Why Buffy, I do believe thatís the sweetest thing youíve ever said to me."
Buffy got up and crossed behind him, ruffling his hair on her way to the kitchen. "And every word of it is true."
He grimaced and straightened his hair. "Have I told you how much Iíll enjoy having you out of my home again? I want my bedroom back. This couch isnít terribly comfortable."
The grin fell off Xanderís face. "But if demons are watching the house Buffy canít go home yet."
Buffy turned back. "There are demons at my house?" She ran up the stairs, calling back to the three in the living room, "Iíll just get dressed and be right down."
Giles stood. "Why donít the two of you go to the shop and wait for us there. Pick up something to eat on the way; we havenít had breakfast yet, and it sounds like you havenít either." The two nodded, then left.
Twenty minutes later the group had reassembled around the table in the magic shop, busily munching doughnuts and flipping through ancient books as if they spent every Sunday morning this way. They eventually narrowed the search to two possible nasties, neither one terrifically daunting to the Slayer.
Dawn licked powdered sugar from her fingers and looked at her sister. "Are you going to kill this thing now? ĎCause I really want to go change my clothes. And I have homework to do."
"In a bit. I have something I need to do first." She pulled a small wooden box from her purse and looked at Giles.
"Are you sure you want to do this now?" he asked.
"Is there a better time than just before I go into battle?"
"I suppose not."
By this point everyone was watching Buffy as she toyed with the box. She stood, wondering where to start. Easiest first, I guess, she thought.
"Iíve been doing some thinking the past few days and there are a few things I need to say to all of you. Youíve all given up parts of your lives to the whole slaying deal and I havenít given you much back. Itís my turn now. Tara? Anya?" The witch and the ex-demon perked up as Buffy knelt between the two of them. "You two make my friends happy, and that makes me happy. I like you both a lot. Anya, Iím really, really glad youíre not a demon anymore, because Iídíve hated to slay you."
Anya bounced in her chair and stage-whispered to Xander, "She likes me!"
Buffy opened the box, took out a silver ring, and gave it to her. "This makes you a part of my family." Anya put the ring on her middle finger and as her eyes started to tear, Buffy hugged her.
As they broke the embrace Anya stuck her single, ring-clad finger in the air and waved it at the rest of the group. "Look what Buffy gave me!" Xander pulled her aside and murmured in her ear.
Buffy turned to Tara and fished out another ring. "Tara, Iím glad youíre a part of my family. Every time you smile the Hellmouth gets a little farther away. Thank you." They hugged, and Buffy heard Willow sob. She looked up to see her friends crowding around her. She stood, turning around slightly, and approached Xander.
"Xand." He held out his arms and she hugged him tightly. "I love you. Iíve always wanted a big brother and youíre perfect for the job."
"I love you too, Buff. Iíll always be here to protect you." She smiled and handed him a ring. It fit, barely, on his pinky and he looked at it proudly.
"Will?" The redhead appeared beside her. They hugged, both crying now. "I love you. Youíre my best friend and I donít deserve you." Another ring and another middle finger.
Buffy looked around for Dawn, who still sat at the table, head bowed, fidgeting with a napkin. "And now the most important. Dawn?" The girl looked up, eyes full of hope. Buffy took her in her arms as best she could around the chair. "Dawn, I love you. No matter what, you are my sister and that will never change. I will die to protect you from Glory. We all will." The rest of the gang nodded, except Anya who started to object. Xanderís hand over her mouth silenced her. "And if you ever feel Iím neglecting you again, just tell our big brother here and heíll kick my ass for you." Dawn smiled, relaxed, and accepted the ring Buffy held out to her. Like the others it was silver, engraved with a protection rune on the outside and the word ĎSlayeretteí on the inside.
Buffy took the last ring and ceremoniously placed it on her own hand, which was uncharacteristically devoid of other rings. "There. Now you are all officially my family."
Tara spoke up, "But what about Giles?"
He lifted his hand, showing off his new pinky ring. "I got mine earlier, in a private ceremony."
Xander grabbed Buffy around the waist. "Iím thinking we need a group hug with a creamy Buffy centre." The rest of the group laughed and crowded around the girl.
The hug lasted until Giles looked at the clock. "Oh heavens. The store should be open by now. Anya, open the doors and take care of the place. Iíll go with Buffy to get rid of the demon." He grabbed a sword, tossed one to the Slayer, and they left the shop. Giles paused before starting the car and looked over at the blonde. "That was a beautiful thing you did in there. Iím very proud of you."
She looked up at him, green eyes glowing. "Thanks, Giles. I didnít want anyone else to die without knowing how I really feel about them. And if I die in this thing with Glory then youíll all have the rings and some happy memories of me."
"That they will. Perhaps I should do the same for them. Let them know how much I care for each of them." He started the car and they headed towards Revello Drive.
"Youíre not going to die. I wonít let you."
He sighed. "Buffy, if you die I will too. Iíll either be killed at the same time you are or shortly after, trying to finish the job. Thatís what Ďsacred dutyí means."
She grinned up at him. "No other reason?"
"Besides the fact that I would die of grief if I lost my Slayer? My friend? No, no other reason at all. Sacred duty it is."
Buffyís expression turned serious. "Iíd die defending you, too. Hey, did we just make a suicide pact?"
Giles smiled. "Of a sort."
"You know, weíre probably the only people who can joke about our own deaths. Is that sick?"
"Itís a coping mechanism. The human brainÖ." He was cut off by Buffyís finger in his face. "What?"
"No lectures right now. Iím too busy being pleased with myself."
"Well donít get too cocky. You have a demon to kill." They pulled up in front of the house. "And there it is, right where it should be."
They parked a short way down the road and got out, swords at hand. Buffy looked up at her Watcher. "The neighbours are going to love this." Her gaze drifted to the tree. "Should I taunt it? Get it out of the tree?"
"By all means. Remember, this species, is, above all, stupid and unsubtle."
The Slayer approached the tree, not going close enough to be attacked from above. "Hey! Brown and scabby!" The demon looked at her. She pretended to trip. "Oh, no! Iím completely helpless! Iím the Slayer and I canít fight!" She rolled her eyes. She wasnít at the top of her game this early in the morning. The demon didnít seem to care. It hopped out of the tree and advanced on her, extending its foot-long claws.
Buffy shouted behind her, not taking her eyes off the monster. "Claws? You didnít tell me it had claws!"
"As a matter of fact I did. You were too busy licking the jelly out of your doughnut to listen to me." The demon came a little closer, still unsure.
Buffy readied her sword and stepped closer to the creature. She could smell it now, a mixture of mold and garbage. "Hey! Demon! Now Iím going to lick the jelly out of you!"
"Buffy thatís disgusting!"
The demon roared and threw itself at the Slayer. She reacted quickly with a series of crescent kicks to the mouth. "Suck some serious Slayer shoe, slimeball." It went down and she lopped off its head, which bounced once as it hit the ground. The corpse dissolved into a puddle of goo. "Not much of a fight. Iím not even breathing hard." She nudged at the goo with her sneaker. "I didnít expect actual jelly."
She turned back to Giles, who stood with his arms folded. "Suck some serious Slayer shoe, slimeball?" he asked.
"Iím getting tired of the puns. I thought Iíd try some alliteration."
They scouted the area, checking for more nasties. "Alliteration. Well, at least youíve learned something in university. I think you need more practice, though. The puns were much better than that." They finished their circuit of the house and came back to the car. "Do you want me to leave you here? I can bring your stuff by later if you wish," Giles asked as he opened his door.
"Nah. I think Iíll hang out at the store. Maybe work out a little. Help Dawn with her homework." She got into the car, and as she sat down noticed that her black sweater was sticking to her side. "Hey, Iím bleeding." She peeled the cloth away from her left ribcage and looked at the wounds.
Giles peered at her side. "Looks like he hit you with his claws. Does it hurt?"
She frowned and shook her head. "No. Not at all, actually. I didnít even notice when it happened."
"The blood doesnít seem to be clotting. Keep pressure on it until I can look after it."
They rode home, Buffy with both hands pressed into her side. She was covered in blood when they reentered the shop, using the back door to avoid customers.
Willow met them. "Hi guys." Her voice faltered when she saw the blood. "What happened?"
Buffy slumped into a chair. "Giles says Iíll never be a poet."
Giles found the first-aid kit and knelt beside her. "I just said that you should stick to your other talents. Donít quit your night job, as it were. Mawathi venom must have an anticoagulant in it. Willow, could you check that, and see if thereís an antidote?" Willow headed to the front of the store and Giles started dressing Buffyís wound, getting himself covered in blood in the process.
"Giles, Iím feeling woozy."
"Lie down. Iíll continue the pressure." She complied, resting her head on his knees.
They sat like that for a few moments, until Giles bent his head to speak. "Buffy?"
"Yeah?" She didnít look up.
"Your ring says ĎSlayerí, the other rings say ĎSlayeretteí. Why doesnít mine say ĎWatcherí?"
This time she did look up, and smiled. "Because you know youíre my Watcher. You will never not be my Watcher. I though it was more important that you have a constant reminder that I love you, because Iíll probably forget to say it again."
"I love you too, Buffy." He lifted his hand to stroke her hair and noticed his ring once again. "Oh, no."
"The protection rune, the blood, our conversationÖI should have realized earlier."
"Realized what?" Willow reentered the room with a glass vial in her hand. She gave it to Giles. "Pour this over the cuts. They should start to clot in a few minutes."
He set to work on the wounds, pouring the faintly pink potion on and watching it fizz. He redressed them and bound the dressing on tightly.
Buffy stood on shaky legs. "Giles? You should have realized what?"
He shook his head slightly. "Stay here, and sit down. I need to test a theory. Willow stay with her." He strode into the main part of the store. As he reached the centre of the room he doubled over in pain. At the same time he heard Buffy cry out.
Willow ran out to him, concern showing in her posture. "Buffyís hurting!"
"I know." They went back to where Buffy was slowly straightening up.
"Was that your little test? Did your theory pass?" She was relaxed, but puzzled.
"That rune you put on the rings is a special one. Its secondary use is to bind two people as one. Thatís why you chose it."
"Sure. It was one of the four you said would be appropriate."
"Look at the rings now." She did, and saw that they were covered in her own drying blood.
"Oops indeed. It never occurred to me that the circumstances for the binding spell would come to pass. But the rune, the blood, the words we spokeÖweíre now bound together. You felt what happened when we separated. Itís like psychic handcuffs."
Buffy stood. "Mm-hmmm. And we all know how much you like handcuffs." She stopped him as he started to speak. "Letís just goótogetheróto get me some water and change my clothes, and then figure out how to break the spell."
Using Willow to fetch and carry they soon found the ritual to perform the binding spell. Finding the correct way to break it proved more difficult. Willow eventually found it in a later edition of the same book. "Ooh, here it is!" At Willowís call the other two stood behind her to look at the page. "Itís the same basic procedure, except for a chant in Gaelic, and the blood has to be menstrual."
Buffy snorted. "As always, the spell is easier to make than to break. I wonder why that is?"
"I donít know. So whenís your next cycle start?"
She thought about it for a moment. "In a day or two, if I donít skip it like last month."
Willow looked at her friend closely. "Buffy, are you pregnant?"
"Huh? No! It was just stress, what with Mom and all." Just then the rest of the gang came back from the summersí house and conversation turned to other things. The day passed uneventfully from there. Buffy and Giles tested the limits of their bond, and found that it was strictly limited by distance, rather than line-of-sight, or walls, or other factors. "Well at least we can close the bathroom door, even if one of us does have to be right outside it," Buffy joked.
When evening came they made the obvious decision for everyone to stay at the house. As bound as they were, Buffy and Giles would be useless in a fight where separation could disable both. They needed all the support they could get until the spell was broken. The group reformed at the house and ate the last of what Dawn called the Ďpity casserolesí for dinner. The bound pair did the dishes while the rest settled in to kill the remaining hours. When the two came back out of the kitchen they found everyone sitting around the coffee table in the living room. In the middle of the table was a tumbler, and Xander held a quarter. He looked up. "Oh, hey, guys. Have a seat at the table."
Buffy sat cross-legged on the floor with Giles behind her at the couch. "What are we doing?"
"Itís a game called ĎQuartersí," Xander explained. "Actually itís a drinking game, but since weíre alcohol-free this evening weíre using penalties instead of shots. On your turn you try to bounce the quarter off the table and into the glass. If it goes in you get to make a rule that applies to everyone. If you break a rule you have to pay a penalty that someone else decides on." He took his turn, demonstrating how the bounce the quarter. It went in, so he made up a rule: no mention of demons or hellgods of any sort. He then handed the quarter to Buffy, who was on his right.
Giles spoke up. "WaitÖBuffy has an unfair advantage. Her aim is too good. Sheíll overwhelm us with rules and have us all paying terrible penalties." He nudged her with his knee, which she swatted.
"How Ďbout if I use a smaller glass and close my eyes? Then my enhanced, demon-slaying abilitiesÖ." She trailed off as the others laughed. "What?"
Dawn giggled. "You said the ĎDí word. You have to pay a penalty."
"All right. What should I do?"
"I know! Remember that eighth-grade play you were in? Sing that stupid song. Do the dance, too."
Buffy sighed, stood, and moved to the middle of the room, facing the couch. She took a deep breath, held her arms out to the side and started to sing, "Youíre a good man, Charlie Brown, youíre the kind of reminder we needÖ." She finished to hoots of laughter and rounds of applause. She took one step back to bow and collapsed in pain. Instantly Giles was at her side, ignoring his own pain. Everyone but Willow looked stunned.
"Wow," Tara said. "Willow told us the effect was powerful, but I had no idea it was like that."
The two recovered quickly and sat back in their previous places. Eager to regain the merriment theyíd had a few moments before, Buffy took the quarter, sized up the shot glass Dawn had fetched, closed her eyes and plunked the coin right in. "Cool. Now I get to make a rule. Mmmm. Okay. No smiling until the end of this round." She looked around and was met with six stoic faces. "Good." She set her own face and passed the quarter to Giles.
He leaned over the table and gave the coin a quick bounce. It hit the side of the glass and landed on the floor. Buffy fought to hide her smile, instead sticking her tongue out at her Watcher. He looked her square in the eye and said, "Donít stick that out unless you intend to use it." As the other five broke Buffyís no-smiling rule she just raised her eyebrow at him until he looked away. Penalties were bestowed all around, causing Willow to tell a dirty joke, Tara to lend her new boots to Dawn for the evening, Dawn to fetch the next round of drinks and snacks, and Xander and Anya to sit at opposite ends of the table, unable to touch each other.
The game resumed with Dawnís turn. She sank her quarter and looked around the room, speculating. "Okay. The new rule is no names. For the rest of the game no one can use any proper names." She picked up the quarter and tossed it to Anya, now on her right. "Here you go, demon-girl."
"Thanks." She took her shot and missed. "Oh. You there, blonde one, pass me the chips, please."
Buffy deliberately ignored her, bending her head to examine her chipped nail polish. Giles leaned down, putting a hand on her shoulder. "Buffy?"
Her head snapped up around and she grinned. "Gotcha, Watcher-man. You said my name, you have to pay. Give me a back rub."
Xander held up a hand. "Ah, but my dear, you just broke your own no-smiling rule. This round isnít over yet. Therefore you should forfeit your back rub, or be forced to sing again. Perhaps we could negotiate you continuing the game standing on your head?"
"Thatís nothing. I bet I could sink that quarter while in a handstand."
Tara put a hand on Xanderís arm. "Donít take that bet. Iíve seen her do harder things in a handstand."
Xander ignored her. "Okay. You do that and you can have your back rub."
Once again Buffy moved to the other side of the table. She focused, imagining her arm as a part of the floor, and lowered herself into single-handstand. Her free hand groped for the quarter, found it, and plunked it in. She gave a short bow and sat back in her place on the floor. "Come on, Stretch, I know those hands must be good for something other than turning pages." She flipped her hair out of the way and pointed to her neck. "Now."
Giles sighed and started massaging. Dawn looked at him with pity. "Youíre completely Slayer-whipped, arenít you?"
He nodded and dug his fingers deeper into Buffyís shoulders, causing her to yelp. He looked back at Dawn. "I may be whipped but I can still get revenge in little ways." Buffy dropped her head and closed her eyes.
Willow peered at her. "Looks like sheís completely out of it. Must be the blood-loss." She picked up the quarter.
Three rounds later Dawn was nodding off and Buffy was lost in the feel of strong finger kneading her muscles. Giles had left the couch to sit on the floor behind her; she felt warm and safe. The rest of the group was fading fast, so they decided to pack it in. Giles tapped Buffy on the shoulder to rouse her. "Itís time to go to bed." He helped her up and they went upstairs to her room.
By the time they got there Buffy was awake enough to argue over the sleeping arrangements. Giles, of course, offered to take the floor, but Buffy didnít agree. "Giles, youíve slept on your couch the past two nights, which means youíve hardly slept at all. I donít mind spending one night on the floor." She arranged a pallet of blankets near the foot of the bed, away from the door.
"No. Youíre injured and you should be comfortable."
"Iím fine. The cuts are healing nicely, they donít hurt at all, and Iíve probably regained my blood volume by now, despite what Willow said. You will sleep in the bed if I have to tuck you in myself!" She glared at him and, as she expected, he caved. He didnít say a word; his resignation showed in his posture.
"Good. Now turn your back so I can change."
Later, settled into her pile of blankets, Buffy found she wasnít sleepy anymore. "Giles?"
He turned to face her, although the gesture was useless in the dark. "Yes, Buffy?"
"Whatís the spell really for?"
"Itís about control. Wives would cast it to keep their husbands from straying. Thatís why it takes the blood of a woman." He sounded almost sad.
"It was a nasty time."
"Why should the woman have pain too? Whatís the point?"
"Thatís not the way itís supposed to happen. Something obviously went wrong in our situation."
"Story of my life. Is there room in that bed for both of us?"
"I want to be held. Iím craving physical contact right now."
"All right." Buffy heard covers shuffling. "Thereís not enough room for both of us to sleep, though. One of us will eventually end up on the floor again."
"Okay." She crawled under the covers beside him, snuggling close. He lay back and wrapped an arm around her. She tucked her head against his chest. He smelled good, like coriander.
"Much. Thank you. Youíre very cozy."
"Thanks, I think. Buffy whatís going on?"
She sighed. "Same as before. Iím needy. Iím feeling dislocated from other people and it bothers me."
"Well Iím here. If you need anything else, let me know." He felt her chuckle against his arm. "What?"
"You donít want to know."
"Yes I do." His tone was serious, cajoling.
She laughed again. "Wellóand I canít believe Iím about to say this, it must be the anonymity darkness bringsóbut Iím really horny right now. I have been for a few weeks." When he didnít respond she continued, "Iím sorry, I shouldnít have told you. Iím your Slayer and you probably donít even find me attractiveÖ."
"Buffy, dear, of course I find you attractive. Monks would break their vows just to have one night with you. And I did say Iíd do anything. Iím sure that encompasses a little meaningless sex."
"But thatís the problem. Iím not sure sex with you would be meaningless, and Iím not ready to commit myself again. Not with this whole Glory thing, and not so soon after Mom. I would hate to make a mistake and ruin our relationship just because I was feeling out of sorts." She chuckled ruefully. "God, Iím so needy that I kissed Angel after the funeral. I need to have my head examined."
Giles pulled her closer, turning her on her side to face him. "Your head is just fine. Reaching out is a common response to great loss. Going so far as to kiss Angel was foolish, yes, but a natural response to grief."
She put her arm around his waist, sinking into his hug. "What would I do without you, o wise, supportive, caring one?"
"I hope you never have to find out. As long as Iím alive Iíll be here for you. And Iím completely serious when I say Iíll do anything for you."
"Thanks." She leaned up and kissed him softly on the lips. "Maybe another time." With that she rose from the bed and went back to her pile of blankets. "Good night, Giles."
"Good night, Buffy. Sleep well."