Here today.....
By Renee

PLOT - Buffy gets an unexpected visitor on the job.
TITLE - Here today.....
AUTHOR - Renee
SPOILER - Set mid season 6
DISCLAIMER - Joss owns everything Buffy, but he's nice enough to let us fantasise about them.

She looked wearily at the clock, 'Man it's already 11, apparently time flies when things suck too'. She'd only worked for the Doublemeat Palace a month or so now but it felt like a lifetime, if slaying had seemed like the worst job in the world she knew differently now. When she was out there in the night, fighting the demon masses, she felt at home. 'How sick am I that I'm more comfortable now prowling through a graveyard at midnight than being in my own home?' Her hands were raw from scrubbing the hot plate, somehow it was her turn again to clean up and close for the night. At least the new boss wasn't a complete freak like the old one, course that didn't mean he'd deserved to be eaten. Oh well that was Sunnydale for you, here one day lunch the next.

She put the rest of the cleaning supplies away and wiped the sweat from her forehead. She grimaced remembering all the gunk on her hands. 'Great I probably have crap on my face now, a perfect end to a perfect day'. Sighing she washed as much of the grease and sweat from her hands and face then gathered her things more than ready to get out of there. Her spidey sense kicked in, she knew he was standing behind her before he'd even made a sound. "Spike I told you we're done, that's it, now leave me the hell alone!" The coldness and hatred in her voice was enough to chill even a vampires heart. He made a move towards her and she screamed at him, "I told you to get out, if you try to rape me again I swear I'll kill you this time!" She heard an intake of breath and wandered why a vampire would do that, course Angel had always simulated breathing to make her more comfortable and Spike did smoke after all.

She grabbed her purse and walked towards the employee exit when a voice swept through her, paralysing her to the spot.
"Buffy." It was barely a whisper but the stillness of the night carried it across the kitchen and into her soul. She'd know that voice anywhere, had dreamt of hearing it again.
"Giles?" Her voice caught with surprise and joy at the thought of being near him again. His heart ached to see how broken she'd become. Once she'd been a proud warrior, standing tall and brave just as a slayer should, now her shoulders were hunched and she was barely more than skin and bones.

"What are you doing here?" Her tone had changed in the blink of an eye and he noticed now how tense her muscles had become. The sound of a clock ticking was the only thing to be heard for several painful seconds.
"I..I've returned."
"Why?" The harshness cut like a knife but he supposed it was warranted, he'd deserted her when she'd needed him most. He'd left thinking it was the right, no the only thing to do but one long conversation with Dawn had forced him to realise what a horrible mistake he'd made. She'd confessed everything to him in that call, it had taken quite a while to get everything out of her but it had taken even longer to absorb it all. But he was here now and ready to admit he'd been wrong, he'd do whatever it took to help her get back on her feet again.

"Buffy, I'm sorry." She flinched from the hand he'd tried to place on her shoulder.
"You're sorry? OK great you can go now." She began to slowly walk towards the entrance.
"Buffy please," she halted refusing to look at him. If she saw him she'd lose all sense of control. He couldn't know how desperately she needed him, how badly she wanted to turn and run into his arms and never let go. So many nights had been spent fantasising about that, about holding him and showing him her love. But no, she couldn't give in now, she'd allowed herself to slip too deep into the abyss. He couldn't know what she'd become, how dirty and disgusting she was. If he knew then it would all be over, he'd leave again but this time he'd never come back. Better he leave now and remember her as she'd once been, his slayer.

"Goodbye Giles." Before he could say another word she bolted out the door, he flew after her knowing he would never be able to keep up but refusing to let her get away. He followed her across the street and into a park, she hadn't lost her speed. He was relieved although in the current circumstances it made things slightly more difficult. She was getting farther ahead and he knew he could only keep this pace up one maybe two more minutes. He called out her name as he bent over desperately sucking in gulp fulls or air. She stopped but still refused to turn and face him. Gathering himself up he walked toward her, his hand unconsciously rubbing the stitch in his side. He was grateful she'd stopped he needed to convince her that he was here to stay, if she'd have him.

"Buffy there are some things I need to say and I need you to listen alright, I know you don't owe me anything in fact it's I that have wronged you but I beg of you to listen. Can you do that for me, please?" That accent got her every time, she'd never been able to hear him talk and not melt. It was like his voice had some kind of mystical quality, it broke through her every defence, left her breathless and exposed. She simply nodded her head not trusting her voice to be able to speak. He sighed, thankful for the chance to talk.

"Perhaps it's a blessing that you're not looking at me right now, I don't think I'd have the courage to speak if you were. Buffy I am truly sorry I left, I honestly thought at the time it was the right thing to do but now I know I was merely running away. I know everything that's happened since I left, let's just say a little bird called me, so you needn't worry that you have some dark secret that I mustn't discover. I know about Spike and I still love you." He held his breath as he waited for some kind of response on her behalf. Slowly, finally she turned to face him but dared not look up. His hand slid gently under her chin and raised it until he could see her eyes. One look at him and all pretence of anger left her body. Her knees went weak and the world began to spiral around her, the last few months finally taking their toll. His reflexes were top notch from slayer sparring sessions, his hands flew out in time to catch her. Picking her up he held her to him as though his life depended on it, in some ways he knew it did.

He carried her every step of the way home, even when it became apparent she could walk again, he refused to put her down. They arrived at his flat, he'd had it on the market for rent but the powers that be must have known something because it was still in his name. He fished in his pocket for a moment, she offered to get down to make his task easier but he would have none of it. Finally the door was flung open and he carried her to the couch. After laying her down he walked to the kitchen and yelled over his shoulder, "tea?" "Yes please." She called back amazed at the familiarity of it all.

When he returned he gave her the steaming cup and knelt in front of her. His hands rested on her knees, she shivered with delight at the gesture. His gaze was intoxicating, she was tipsy from it. Everything was quiet as they simply drank in one another with their eyes, it had been far too long since she'd been allowed that gift. He was such a handsome man, the men she'd dated had probably all been what you'd call pretty boys but not Giles. He had a maturity , his appeal was that he'd really lived, you could look at his face and see every pain he'd experienced but also every joy. That face was the most beautiful thing she'd ever seen, she'd often just sat and stared at him when he wasn't looking.

Finally he broke the silence, "Buffy there's something I need to tell you, I don't expect you to say anything and I understand that you will be shocked and probably confused but I want you to know it changes nothing. You'll always have my respect and support." She smiled as she remembered another time eons ago when he'd said those same words. She'd been lost and afraid and was terrified of his disapointment in her, instead he'd raised her up and made her feel loved and safe, how he was able to do that she'd never know.
"Buffy, I love you not just as a watcher or friend or any other category we've shifted into in the time we've known one another. I love you as a man who sees a beautiful woman before him, someone filled with a light that no one else can touch. You're my goddess Buffy and you're my heart. I needed you to know that, you need to know that you have a light in you that's so precious that nothing Spike nor anyone else does can dim it. You're glorious Buffy and I love you."

Tears welled up in her eyes until all at once the flood broke free and cascaded down her face. She leapt forward and wrapped her arms firmly around his waist. He laid his head softly upon hers allowing her scent to overwhelm him. His hand gently stroked her hair as he whispered sweet nothings into her ear. Eventually her sobs subsided and she raised her face to his.
"How can you love me after everything I've done? Don't you see what I've become?"
"Luv all I see is a stunning creature before me whom I've loved since the moment I set eyes upon her. We all make mistakes Lord knows I've made more than a few, how do you see me?"

Gathering her strength she opened her soul to him, "I see a smart, funny, kind man who's always made me feel special. Who's loved me when I didn't deserve it and who's stood by me when he shouldn't have. A handsome man who I've spent countless hours wondering what it would feel like to kiss," his eyes opened in amazement, "Who deserves to be loved like no other and deserves to be with a woman who can treat him like the prince that he is. I love you too Giles, so much so that I know you deserve better than me, all I've ever given you was heartache and it kills me to know that."

"Y..y..ou love me?" The hope and giddiness in his voice brought more tears to her eyes, she'd never seen him this happy.
"With all my soul."
He held her tightly cradling her face in his hands, "My dearest love you have no idea how I've longed to hear you say that."
She pulled away, "Giles didn't you hear anything else I've said? I'm dirty now, I'm not worthy of your love, you deserve better."
"Nonsense," the harshness in his tone jolted her, "You are beautiful and you are Buffy and it's you that I want, it's you that I've always wanted. Luv I need you, I love you, please say you'll allow me to show you."

Her last defence tore away and she allowed him to place a soft kiss on her lips. A fire burned within her, one that had been locked away for an eternity. It exploded the instant their lips met, her every dream came true in that one moment and her heart burst from the love she felt. He consumed and surrounded her and it was heaven. His kisses left her lips and trailed down her face until he was nuzzling her neck, she moaned in ecstasy when his teeth bared down and bit. Pleased by her reaction he grazed them along her skin until she begged him to bite her again. His heart was filled with pride that she would trust him enough to open up like that, they both knew what it was to bare your neck to another. He forcefully bit down this time drawing blood and was rewarded with a cry as she exploded in delight.

"I love you Giles," she moaned the words again and again as his mouth moved further down until he'd covered every part of her in wet kisses. "I'm yours Buffy." He held her until they drifted off into a peaceful slumber. Her head rested on his arm and he held her from behind, their legs intertwined, every part of their bodies touching. They had both finally come home.