I’m Going Home
By Carmilla

AUTHOR: Carmilla
E-MAIL: carmilla99@hotmail.com
RATING: PG, I think.
DISTRIBUTION: If you want I, of course you can have it. Just let me know where it’s gone. You’ll make my day.
SPOILERS: I’m not sure, I don’t know episode names. Set after Buffy runs away from Sunnydale in Series 4.
FEEDBACK: I’ll love you forever, even if you flame-grill me. Just let me know how to make it better.
SUMMARY: Giles finally has to give up looking for Buffy. But when he gets home there’s a little surprise waiting for him…………
DISCLAIMER: I make no claim on any of the characters. I’m just taking them out for a test drive and will return them in the same condition I found them in.

Song lyrics are from the Rocky Horror Show.

NOTES: My first ever fic. Naturally enough, it’s B/G. I’m proud to say I’ve been a ‘shipper from episode 1. I’m shooting for angsty with a happy ending, let me know if I make it……**-** for lyrics, <-> for thoughts. And it really does help if you know the song.

Giles fumbled around in the dark, trying to find his keys amidst all the rubbish in his jacket pocket…..train ticket, street map, yuck, a half eaten pie…..house keys. He went up to the door, and then saw it was slightly ajar ; the lock had been forced. Grabbing a stake from his belt, he cautiously walked inside, making very little noise and closing the door behind him. The house was pretty much as he had left it. A little colder, a little dustier, but it didn’t look like it had been burgled. He was bemused. Who, or maybe what, would break into the house of a school librarian, and not even bother to steal anything? He winced as he stepped on the floorboard outside his sitting room and it creaked loudly, and as he did so he thought he heard a noise from inside. Carefully, he eased open the door- and got the biggest shock of his already eventful life.

The curtains were drawn, and there were little candles scattered across the room; they smelt of vanilla. It had been cleaned, tidied, and had the electric fire from his attic to warm it. As he stepped in, music began to play from the stereo Xander had bought him last birthday, which he had never used.

**On the day I went away,

‘Goodbye’, was all I had to say**

Standing by the stereo was Buffy, painfully thin and with more bruises than he liked to see, but undeniably Buffy. She was wearing a light blue dress, and trying very hard to smile. <No matter what she goes through, she still looks beautiful> he thought, unable to quite believe what he saw.

**Now I,

I want to come again…and stay**

She whispered the words, hardly daring to look into those eyes.

**Smile, and that will mean I may**

Unable to hold back any longer, Giles ran to her and gathered her into his arms. Buffy held him, sobbing gently. They stood in each other’s embrace, rocking gently, taking comfort from the familiarity there.

**Cause I’ve seen, oh, blue skies,

through the tears in my eyes.

And I realise, I’m going home.

I’m going home.**

"Oh Giles, I’m so, so sorry," Buffy managed. She looked up, searching his face for anger, or pain, or anything to suggest how badly she’d hurt him. But all she found was kind understanding, and relief. Not for the first time, she wondered what on earth she had done to deserve this wonderful man in her life, who always cared for her no matter what.

**Everywhere it’s been the same…feeling,

like I’m outside in the rain, wheeling….**

"There, there, love, shhhhh….be quiet, calm down. It’s okay, you’re back now, you’re safe, that’s what matters. Worry later, if you’re going to worry."

**Free to try and find a game, dealing,

Cards for sorrow, cards for pain….**

She searched for any hint of accusation in his voice at those last words, but couldn’t find any. <Love?> she wondered for a moment. <Where did that come from all of a sudden? No, not all of a sudden. It’s that father-daughter thing again. Wish my real dad cared for me like he does.> She pushed away those other thoughts, the ones that had become harder and harder to ignore over the past few months, the thoughts which had driven her back here, to him. Thoughts that said a father’s love was the last thing she wanted from him. Hopes which she’d never be able to make reality. Especially not now. Not when her love for another had hurt him so badly, had sent him to hell, just as surely as she’d sent Angel there. But Angel came back to her…..could he, as well? Thinking of what she’d done to him, she could hardly bear to look him in the face- and couldn’t accept the forgiveness she found there.

As the chorus started again, he led her back to the sofa, still holding her as though she might disappear the moment he let go. <My poor darling> Giles thought, as she continued to cry unashamedly. <What have you been through these past few months? If only you had come to me first. Surely we could have been able to talk it through, if you were hurting then the way you are now. You don’t think I could have turned you away, do you? No matter what you do, I’ll always be there for you. I can’t help it. How could you leave me without even saying goodbye?> He choked back tears of his own, knowing Buffy didn’t need to hear his grievances now. Now she needed comfort, acceptance. He couldn’t cope if she left again.

After a few minutes sitting in silence, Buffy had calmed down enough to talk properly. Wiping her eyes with the back of her hand, she looked up at Giles, who was gazing at her with concern.

"Well?" she said.

"Well what?" asked Giles, slightly startled.

"Aren’t you going to say, ‘We need to talk’, or ‘How come you’re here?’, or even something simple, like ‘Why?’ I can answer you now, if you like."

"I wasn’t planning on saying anything, except something along the lines of ‘Thank every deity known to man or beast you’re back and still alive.’ I decided that if you needed to tell me, you would. At least, I hope you would."

There was a question in his voice. <He’s asking me if I still trust him> Buffy realised.

"Of course, if I needed to talk I’d talk to you." she said, smiling as best she could, which wasn’t all that well. "But don’t you need to hear? I thought, after all you’d been through recently, you might at least want some answers. I came expecting the Spanish Inquisition, at the very least."

"Buffy!" he said, shocked and hurt. "Do you really think I could do that to you as soon as you got back, after all you’ve been through these past few months? Am I really that harsh? As long as you’re not going anywhere again anytime soon, you don’t have to tell me anything you don’t want to."

"No, believe me, I’m not going anywhere." Buffy said, shakily. "I’ve had all the running away I can take. And no, I didn’t think you would be that harsh. You’re the kindest person I know. But you should be harsh. I don’t deserve to be cuddled and made much of, not after what I’ve done to you…….and my mom and my other friends. You ought to be mad at me, the amount of people I’ve hurt. Oh God, why was I so stupid?"

"Shhhhh love, it’s alright, really it is. You were forgiven long before you came back. All we want to know is that you’re safe and well. We want you to be happy, you know. You have won so much love here, Buffy. Nothing you ever do could take that away. So stop beating yourself up, it’s painful even to watch."

"It is painful, isn’t it, Watcher? Always being there, just watching me. Trying to keep me safe, trying to make me happy, and all I ever do is hurt you. That’s all I could think about, you know. I sneaked into the hospital, just to watch you sleep, and it suddenly hit me- how much pain I’d caused everyone, but you especially, over these years. I thought that maybe, if I left you, you could live without pain again. I do so badly want that for you, just that you could be happy. But all I did was make it worse. No matter what I do, I’m always hurting people!" Buffy was getting hysterical, and Giles couldn’t shush her this time. "It’s all I am. I kill monsters and hurt my friends. Everything I do is negative. I’m a horrible, horrible person and I wish I’d never even been born! All I ever do is cause pain. I’m just like some awful machine of destruction. I’m worse than the things I’m fighting against! At least they never claimed to be good-" She broke off into sobs again.

"No, no, Buffy, listen to me!" The sharp note in his voice made her look up, tears still streaming down her face. His eyes met hers, and captured them with an intensity that nearly took her breath away. Gently, he placed a hand under her chin, so that she couldn’t look away.

"Listen to me," he repeated, more gently. "You are the most extraordinary person I know. You fight and fight and never give up. We place the world on your shoulders, and expect you to carry it without complaint, because you were born the only one strong enough to do it. And you don’t turn against us, who expect far too much of you. Nearly every Slayer in the past has become morose, bitter, solitary. You didn’t. You kept your life, your friends, your integrity, your sense of humour, and all those thousands of other little traits which make you so dear to us all. When you were trained, you didn’t become the Vampire Slayer, a lonely woman with only one purpose in life. You were still Buffy, an amazing person whom anyone would be privileged to know. With your wit, your flippancy, your friendliness, your refusal to take your duty seriously, you have broken every rule ever made for the Slayer. And it has made you the best Slayer that ever lived, and the best person I have ever known.

You are strong, and clever, and kind, and beautiful, and I am willing to bet every man you have ever met has fallen in love with you. You bring light into the life of everyone you meet. If you do bring pain occasionally, we suffer it gladly for you, and you are worth it. I would undergo every torture known to man for one more day, or hour, or minute, or second spent in your company, and consider I had bought the time cheaply. Elisabeth Anne Summers, you are the most wonderful young woman on this planet, and it isn’t for what you do. It’s for who you are. And you must never, never, never forget that, you understand? Never!"

"For who I am? Because I’m the Slayer?" she asked, in a shaky voice, barely keeping tears of sheer joy and disbelief at bay. <Please let him say no> she prayed silently. She had never had anyone talk so beautifully to her in her life, and the fact that it was Giles, who so rarely showed his emotions, just made it worth more. <Please let him say no. Please let him say no.>

"NO!!!" Giles fairly roared. <YES!> rejoiced Buffy, silently. "Good heavens, haven’t you been listening to me? It’s who you are that matters, not what you are. I love you because you’re Buffy!" He froze, suddenly aware of what he had just said. <Damn> he thought, <that wasn’t meant to be out loud.> Buffy blinked. She mentally replayed what he had just said. She didn’t believe it. She tried again. Yes, he had definitely said it. Then she thought back to what he had said before- ‘every man you have ever met has fallen in love with you’ .

"Really?" she asked, in a very small voice. "You’re not just trying to make me feel better? You really feel that way for me?" If Giles hadn’t been madly in love with her already, he would have fallen the moment he saw her eyes. Such beautiful eyes, brimming with tears, full of questions….and something else. Hope? He decided to chance it.

"Can you doubt it?" he asked. "How could I not love you? You’re my own dear Buffy, the most wonderful person in the world, remember? How could I possibly not love you, and love you more every second I’m with you?"

Mentally, Buffy thanked every deity ever known to man or beast.

"Thank goodness you said that." she breathed. "Because if you hadn’t, what I’m going to say next would have sounded pretty stupid. Now you listen to me. Whenever I was feeling bad, I thought of you. Whenever I thought of home, you were the one I missed most. Whenever I’ve been in trouble, you’ve always been there for me, even though I never thank you, never tell you how much your help means to me. About a week ago, you came to the town I was staying in. When I saw you, my heart jumped, my stomach dropped, and I nearly shouted for joy. But I didn’t want you to see me the way I looked then. I’d been roughing it for quite a while. So I got all my money together, which wasn’t much, and I planned what I was going to do. And I bought the dress, and the candles, and the music, and a ticket back home. I’m afraid I owe you a door lock, a hot shower, and three days’ worth of using this heater every evening. I know it was stupid, but I wanted you to think I looked special when you saw me again. You’re the one I came home for. All this time away from you has made me realise something that I was too blind to see when I spent every day by your side. I love you, Rupert Giles. With heart and mind and body and soul. And if you can still bear me to be near you, after everything I’ve done to you, I never want to leave you again. I want to be yours. Always. Will you have me?" The last few words were rushed, and she had let her eyes drop. Slowly, she raised them, and saw him staring at her with a mixture of joy, amazement, and sheer love. He was crying now, but they were happy tears. Slowly, tentatively, he leaned forward, and claimed her lips with his. It was tender, passionate, and unbelievably sweet. When they finally, reluctantly broke apart, Buffy looked squarely into his eyes without hesitation. At length, she broke the silence.

"I suppose that’s a yes, then?" she said, a shadow of her old playfulness returning.

"Very definitely a yes, darling." said Giles, his voice shaking ever so slightly. And when Buffy saw the depth of love in those beautiful green eyes, she did something that she hadn’t been able to do properly for months. She smiled. And she knew that she had indeed come home, to stay.