If Ever
By JBG

Timeline: The future. My reaction to the long wait for the last 6 eps of Season 5!

Spoilers: Some for The Body, but mostly speculation about what is to come.

Premise: Buffy decides that her life with Giles is no longer enough.

Disclaimer: I own nothing but my imagination (and the characters I made up.) Joss Whedon, WB, Mutant Enemy and/or a bunch of other people own everything else in the Buffyverse...

Dedication: To Dword, my pitchfork-wielding muse, and to Tagmus, who's leaving her teens behind forever next week! Sorry, Tag, this isn't a challenge fic, but I was already in the middle of this when you issued it.

A special thanks to milk for the beta-on-the-fly!

Buffy/Giles

Rated: PG-13


Buffy Summers was preparing a special dinner for her man. She'd become a pretty decent cook since Giles had moved in to help her with Dawn. He was wonderful to have around, steady and levelheaded, always gentle with his young charge. Buffy fell head-over-heels in love with him before she realized what was going on, and was delighted that he returned her love with equal fervor. Nothing could make her miss her mother less, but having him around made it bearable.

She privately called this evening an anniversary, since it had been six months since they'd declared their love for one another. She thought having him in the same house would become awkward, but he was the model of decorum around Dawn, and never made her feel uncomfortable or pressured when they were alone. He was just the most perfect gentleman in the world, but she wanted more.

Having his warm, male presence so close to her, without being able to express her love in a more... physical... way, was slowly driving her crazy. She wondered if her sister-Slayer, Faith, hadn't been right when she'd mentioned that slaying made her wildly horny. Buffy had even considered sneaking into Giles' room late at night and seducing him until he gave her what she needed, but she'd managed to restrain herself... so far. If something didn't happen soon, she was going to go nuts and start attacking the furniture.

The pasta sauce was simmering nicely, the salad was tossed, the fresh dressing made, and the French bread ready to pop into the oven. Buffy dashed upstairs to make herself presentable... Giles was due home in just under an hour, and she wanted to knock his socks off as soon as he walked in the door. And she had just the dress to do it.

Giles smelled supper cooking the moment he stepped onto the porch, and he paused to take a deep, appreciative breath. Spaghetti... his favorite meal. Buffy certainly knew how to make him feel welcome. He looked down at the bouquet of flowers he'd purchased on his way home, smiling at how their minds seemed to work along the same lines. This was a special day, and they both knew it. Dawn was out of town on a class trip, and wouldn't return until late Saturday afternoon, so they were alone. Finally.

He'd been so careful to keep his feelings in check, but each day he grew more frustrated with the situation as it was. Some nights he could barely sleep, knowing she was only a few feet away from him in the next bedroom. He loved her more fiercely than he could have ever imagined, but he couldn't think of consummating their relationship without some kind of commitment. He'd tried to keep his relationships casual in the past, thinking he was being practical in the face of his calling and lifestyle. However, that attitude had only caused the lady involved to feel insecure. Each time, he'd ended up hurt and alone.

This time, he'd let the lady take the lead. Whatever made Buffy happy would make him happy.

"Buffy?" He stuck his head into the kitchen, wondering where the cook had gone. The dining room table was elegantly set, with Joyce's finest china and stemware on display. He grinned widely that she'd gone to such trouble on their six-month anniversary. She probably didn't think he'd remember, but he did.

He rummaged in the kitchen for a cut crystal vase, and arranged the flowers in the center of the table. He stood back to admire his contribution to the setting, and didn't hear Buffy quietly descend the stairs behind him.

She stood admiring his cute butt for a moment before she noticed the flowers, then let out an involuntary squeal of delight at the sight. He whirled instantly, his mouth open to speak, and froze when he saw her. The look on his face confirmed it... the 'little black dress' was a success.

She gave what she hoped was a sultry wave and said, "Hi there, good-lookin'. Wanna fool around?"

His mouth moved, but no sound came out. She took it as a compliment. Spinning slowly, she let the dress have its full impact before moving to the stunned man's side and giving him a loving kiss. His response was instant and ardent, and he pulled her against him to increase the contact. By the time he released her, she'd completely forgotten her prepared speech about anniversaries and meaningful relationships. She was completely in his thrall.

"Wow," she breathed.

"Happy Anniversary, my love."

"You remembered! And flowers..." She turned to look at the colorful arrangement, smiling. "They're so pretty. You are too good to be true."

"I'm merely responsive to your delightful influence. You've managed to make a romantic out of a stuffy old ex-librarian."

"I kinda like my stuffy old ex-librarian, and he has always been a romantic in my book."

"Thank you. Have I told you lately how much I adore you?"

She giggled in his embrace. "See? Way romantic."

He kissed her again, enforcing that thought to the best of his ability. Buffy seemed to appreciate the effort quite a bit.

********

The food consumed, the wine imbibed, and the table cleared, Buffy snuggled up to her favorite male body with a contented sigh. There was a fire in the fireplace, and even though it was a fake, gas-log type of fire, she was enjoying the atmosphere. Giles rested his cheek against her head and closed his eyes, peace stealing across his features.

"Giles?"

"Mmm?"

"We need to talk."

He stiffened slightly. In his experience, those words usually preceded something unpleasant. "Do we?"

"Yeah, we do. Or at least, I do."

He straightened slightly and turned to face her as she slid away from him. "All right. What do you want to talk about?"

"Us." She bit her lip nervously, and his heart plunged to his shoes.

"Wh-what about us?"

"Well, it's mostly about me, to start with. See, I really like the way things have been around here for the last six months. You've been so great, just what I needed, and Dawn thinks you hung the moon. You've kept us together, managed to keep the shop and the gallery going, saw me through school, got Dawn into High School without the world coming to an end, and we still have money to go to the movies every once in a while."

The admiring tone of her voice made him blush slightly, which she thought was terminally cute.

"I've only done what I could. You and Dawn have done well for yourselves... I'm so proud of the both of you."

"I sometimes think, 'I could go on like this forever.' Y'know, with the comfort level as it is. But deep down, I know there's something missing. I need something more."

She gave him a nervous smile, and he thought despairingly, She's grown tired of me. Not that I blame her... I'm such a stick-in-the-mud. "Go on," he said dully. If he would admit it to himself, he halfway expected her to find someone younger and move on. Still, he hadn't expected it to be so soon.

She gave him a quizzical look, then sighed. "I want the whole thing, Giles. The husband, the house, the white picket fence, the two-point-seven children, the career... everything. Well, not the station wagon. Maybe a mini-van... and I already have a house, but you know what I mean."

He captured her hands and squeezed them reassuringly between his larger ones. "You deserve all those things, love. That, and so much more."

She gave him a smile, and took a deep breath. "I want them. So, I figured, I have to just go get them, right? Setting a goal is the first step to achieving it, right?"

"That's very true."

"So, I've done the setting thing, now I need to do the achieving thing."

"Yes, that seems like the next logical step." She's moving on. This is as it should be.

He sounded so forlorn she gave him another puzzled stare. He tried to smile encouragingly. She bravely continued, "So, there it is. Will you?"

His depressing train of thought derailed itself in spectacular fashion. "Wh-what?"

"Didn't you hear what I said?"

"I... I thought I had..."

"Then what's your answer?"

His panicked expression made her giggle.

"Buffy, I'm not... I'm not sure exactly what the question is."

"I didn't think you were listening. I just asked you to marry me, silly."

"WHAT?"

It was her turn to look distressed. "Well, the usual answer is either 'yes' or 'no'."

"No... I mean, wait... are you sure?"

"Duh, Giles. I don't go around asking guys to marry me every day, do I? I'm sure. I want you, and I think that's a mutual thing, too, if your daily long, cold showers are any indication. I love you. You love me. They should write a song about us. You already live here, so there isn't even any furniture moving involved. I'm already used to having you around. The getting married should be the easy part."

He blinked rapidly for several seconds, and then smiled broadly. "You know, you're right. Absolutely right. Let's do it."

She giggled again at his choice of words. "Was that a 'yes'?"

He swept her into his arms and kissed her passionately. When she could speak, she said softly, "I'm taking it as a 'yes'."

"It's definitely a yes, my love."

********

Five years later...

The morning paper in Sunnydale rarely had good news to report. Thirteen assaults, seven robberies, two murders, one armed hold-up at the all night convenience store on the outskirts of town, and the mysterious disappearance of the entire delivery of the eight o'clock Blood Mobile truck to the local hospital... to the man's experienced eye most, if not all, of these occurrences could be attributed to supernatural forces.

He searched the pages for a specific section, uttering a quiet, "Ah hah!" as he found what he was looking for. There, on page five, buried between advertisements and community service notices, was a small personals section, an oasis of humanity in the desert of demonic activity.

Rupert Giles smiled as he read. Buffy had often teased him about his fondness for the personals, but he found it oddly soothing. Despite the Hellmouth, despite the horrors that plagued their nights, life continued on. People fell in and out of love, found and lost each other, and generally behaved the way men and women had since the beginning of time.

It was a comfort, somehow.

One particular ad made his smile widen to a knowing grin. It read:

You slew the competition five years ago, and you remain the champion of my heart. Happy Fifth Anniversary, B. I love you. Yours always, R.

When Buffy came down the stairs, she saw the paper on the dining room table, folded back to the personal ads. She read the ad quickly, a contemplative smile on her face. When she finished, she came over to his side, kissed him gently and whispered, "That was sweet. Thank you. Happy Anniversary, Rupert. I'll see you tonight."

"You're most welcome, love. Have a good day at work. I'll be home around six."

She gave him another thoughtful smile, pulled on her coat, and left with a wave.

He was truly looking forward to the evening. They had reservations at Taliano's, a romantic... and expensive... Italian restaurant, and had plans to go dancing afterwards. Rupert had never been much of a dancer, but Buffy didn't seem to mind, as long as they were together.

He spent the day at the Magic Box, caught between the business of running an occult shop and his delightful daydreams about the evening to come. The little store had provided them with a fairly generous income, even after Buffy sold the Gallery, and she helped him several days a week as her work schedule permitted. He never thought she'd become a Physical Therapist, but she loved it with all her heart. It enabled her to help people during the day in a completely different way than her nightly Slaying could. He was so proud of her generosity and kind spirit. The life Buffy led could have easily made her bitter, cruel, and hard--but she was none of those things.

At last, the workday drew to a close, and he said his goodbyes to Anya as he locked up the doors.

"Happy Anniversary, Giles," the ex-demon said unexpectedly. She hadn't mentioned the date all day.

"Oh, thank you, Anya."

"You're welcome. I hope you and Buffy have lots of hot sex planned for tonight."

He smiled tolerantly. Living as a human for almost a decade had not completely eliminated her tendency to blurt out the first thing that popped into her head. Usually, the first thing was something crass.

He had long ago given up trying to correct her. "Let's just say we have a pleasant evening planned, and leave it at that, all right?"

"Sure, boss. I'll take the early shift tomorrow, so you just go and enjoy yourself. Well, at least as much as is possible at your age."

"Goodnight, Anya," he said firmly, ushering her out the door.

********

As he drove towards his home on Ravello Drive, Anya's comment about his age began to bother him. The twenty-five-year difference between his and Buffy's ages caused many a raised eyebrow in Sunnydale, but his young bride had always insisted it didn't matter to her. In fact, she took a perverse sort of pleasure in shocking the general public with her open displays of affection for her older spouse.

When he was feeling down about himself, the age gap frightened him. She was so young and strong, more beautiful than the first day he'd married her, with a delightful, breezy nature that was in sharp contrast to his more taciturn personality. When he was with her, he was in turn awed and intimidated by her.

It wasn't that he doubted her love. No, she'd proven herself to him time and again. Now, when she said, "I love you," he believed her wholeheartedly. Their life together was a joy to him, each day a constant surprise and delight as she grew more firmly entrenched in his heart.

He thought about their wedding day with a dreamy smile. He remembered the words he'd said to her, the vows he'd made to and received from her. He meant every word... 'til death do us part. But he still had a hard time believing she could do the same. Not that he thought her fickle, but it was beyond his ability to imagine that she could be content to begin her adult life with a man who was rapidly drawing nearing the end of his.

He knew she would never be cruel, or cheat on him, but his overwhelming self-doubt prompted him to offer her an escape door, should she ever want one. His thoughts suddenly shifted to an earlier time, to the night she proposed, and he remembered what he'd said to her after he'd said yes.

********

The fire still crackled merrily, but the couple was no longer seated on the couch. They were stretched out in front of the hearth, her head resting on his bare chest. The quilt that normally draped the back of the couch now covered them from the waist down. Giles' head was propped up on an overstuffed throw pillow, one hand behind his head and the other one stroking Buffy's blonde hair. They both looked supremely content.

"Whatcha thinkin', Watcher mine?"

He dropped a kiss on the top of her head and smiled down at her. "How very lucky I am, and how very much I love you."

"I was thinking that, too."

"I was also thinking..." He paused, trying desperately to get his thoughts in order.

"Uh oh... unsolicited heavy thinking. Danger, Will Robinson!"

He gave a dutiful chuckle before turning serous again. "Buffy, I don't ever want to be a burden to you."

She sat up straight, shocked. "A what? A burden? How could you be a burden? I love you!"

He sat up with her and cupped a hand around her cheek. "Please, hear me out."

She nodded reluctantly.

"I want you to know... the past six months have been heavenly, Buffy. I never dreamed you could feel for me what I feel for you. It's been wonderful. But, I am twenty-five years older than you, and there are bound to be repercussions."

"I don't care from repercussions. They don't keep me warm at night." She snuggled into his shoulder, sighing happily. "You can. You will."

"I will be there for you as long as you want me, Buffy. But, promise me something... that if you change your mind, down the road..." He touched her lips with his fingertips, stopping her protest before she could voice it. "If ever you feel trapped, or burdened, by being married to an old man with less future than past... promise me, you'll tell me. If life with me isn't enough, just say so. Tell me, 'Rupert, I'll always love you, but I need something more.' Don't give up your dreams for me. Don't stay with me out of pity, or obligation. Promise me. Please."

She watched his eyes as he spoke, seeing the loving and protective expression she'd come to know so well. Even if it meant his heart would be broken, if she told him to go, he would go. Her needs came first.

"You are incredible, Rupert Giles, do you know that?" She leaned up, wrapped an arm around his neck, and pulled him to her for a deep, warm kiss. "You are also the biggest idiot on the planet, but I forgive you for that. How could I ever leave you, now that you've said something so totally self-sacrificing and insane?"

"Promise me, Buffy. I won't rest easy until you do."

She kissed him again, more passionately than before. "Okay, Mister Insecure Guy, I promise. If I ever get tired of you, I'll tell you. But I'm not going to. 'Til death do us part...' isn't that what the wedding vows say? That's good enough for me."

********

Buffy shivered pleasurably as her husband cupped her elbow with his hand and guided her to the door of the nightclub. It was such a courtly gesture. At first, she thought it was a little old-fashioned, but she'd grown to love it. It was a part of who he was. He paused, holding the door for her, a possessive smile on his face. She gave him a saucy wink as she passed him, trailing a fingertip across his chest suggestively. His quick intake of breath let her know he hadn't misinterpreted the gesture.

The ride home consisted of snuggling, kissing at every stop light, and generally acting like newlyweds. She loved his ability to make her feel precious and treasured. He never seemed to take her for granted, no matter how comfortable they were together.

When they entered the quiet house, Buffy stopped Giles as he started to remove his dinner jacket. She took his hand and led him to the couch, smiling as she pulled him down beside her.

"What's going on?" He looked a trifle confused. He'd planned on heading straight for their bedroom.

"We need to talk, hon."

"Now??" His mind was definitely already upstairs.

"Yes, now. Take a deep breath, Casanova, and listen."

"Have... have I done something wrong, love?"

She shook her head slowly. "No, you pretty much do everything right. It's me. I have a problem."

That made him sit up and pay attention. "Is something wrong? Are you ill?"

"I'm okay. But something is wrong. I've been trying to ignore it, just go on with life, but it's gotten to the point where I can't ignore it any longer."

What on earth... His natural insecurity kicked in, and instantly, he feared the worst. This is it... she's finally tired of me.

"Remember the night I proposed to you?"

He smiled warily. "I'll never forget it."

"Remember what you said? 'If ever you feel living with me is no longer enough, you must tell me.' Do you remember saying that?"

He nodded, dropping his gaze to the floor. He remembered... vividly.

"This is something I've been thinking about for a long time now. I can't help it. It's just a part of my dream. I promised I'd say something, if I ever felt that way, so I am. It's not enough, the two of us, any more."

His world suddenly flashed from color to bleak black and white. It was over.

"I see." He cleared his throat, willing away the hoarseness that had suddenly developed. "What do you want to do, then?"

"Well, I only know one way to remedy the situation. Actually, there are a couple of ways, but I only want to try one right now."

She slid a finger under his lapel in a definitely seductive manner, and he had to clench his jaws to keep from saying, "Huh?"

"I don't even know if it's possible. I tried to find a precedent in your Watchers' Diaries, but I got totally bored and fell asleep several times, so I just decided to ask you. After all, it's your decision, too."

What she was saying wasn't in any way tracking with what he was thinking in his head, so he gave in and said, "I'm afraid I don't know what you're talking about... again."

She gave him an exasperated glare. "Rupert Giles, you are the sweetest, kindest, sexiest guy on the planet, but you are also the densest. I want to make a baby with you, and all you can do is sit there and stare at me."

"WHAT??"

She rolled her eyes to the ceiling. "Here we go again."

"A b-b-b... y-you want... a b-b-b..."

She began to giggle. "I stopped taking the pill last month. I know, I should have told you, but you were so busy getting the tax stuff ready..."

"A baby?"

"Yeah. I'm sure you remember what babies are... small, don't talk much, interesting smell at times..."

"Buffy, I'm fifty-two!"

"So? I'm twenty-six. Is that an issue? If you were having the baby, I could see a problem."

He began to grin. "A baby."

She began to casually untie his tie. "Actually, as energetic as we've been lately, this whole conversation could be moot. I might already be pregnant, you fifty-two-year-old Stud Muffin, you." She finished unbuttoning the top two buttons of his shirt, and placed a kiss on the revealed skin underneath. "Honey, if you were any younger, I couldn't keep up with you, and I'm the Slayer."

"A baby..."

"I can tell I'm not going to get anything coherent out of you tonight, so why don't we go upstairs and practice?"

His eyes finally came back into focus, and he sprang to his feet and swept her up in his arms. She giggled happily as he began to carry her towards the stairs, gazing into her amused face.

He paused on the bottom stair, a serious look on his face, and gave his beloved wife a warm, passionate kiss. "If ever I doubt your love again, you have my permission to thrash my fifty-two-year-old butt, darling."

"That's a promise I'll be happy to keep."

 
The END