The Longest Night
Title: The Longest Night
Summary: Buffy and Giles have to face some things about their relationship.
Spoilers: Through Something Blue.
Disclaimer: Joss made the characters. I like to mess with them on occasion.
Distribution: Just ask. I'll say yes. :)
Feedback: It's a perfect yum.
Thanks to Tracy, beta Goddess and friend Extraordinare.
Author's Note: Now, I usually wouldn't write this sort of thing-- yes, it *is* B/G, romantically-- but a friend of mine (who wishes to remain nameless. <g>) asked for a fic about them. So I wrote one. If you don't like this sort of fic, I suggest you don't read it. :)
It was in a momentary lapse of reason that he told her the
truth. The sort of spell that everyone has sometimes, a
judgment call that goes awry, in being too anxious to wait for
someone else to make the first move. It started with a
dance at the prom, during her senior year. That was when he
first felt the stirring in his chest, the feeling that he never
expected to have.
Of course, it shamed him to the depths of his soul, to find out that he felt that way about her. He had watched her grow from a pretty child to a stunning woman, though, so what was he supposed to have expected?
But, though he had noticed her timeless beauty before that night, it was when she was swaying gently in his arms, smiling up at him with a twinkle in her pretty eyes, that his feelings came into a clear and startling perspective.
Somewhere, sometime, he had fallen desperately in love with her.
So when she looked up at him with those big blue eyes and he saw her mouth curve up into a sweet smile, he felt as helpless as an abandoned kitten. And to think that he had been scolding Wesley for something which turned out to be *better* than what he was doing.
Buffy waved her hand in front of his face, pulling him out of his trance. He looked at her uneasily, and saw as a blush rose in her cheeks.
"Sorry," he apologized immediately. "My mind wandered off for a moment."
"A lot of guys wander off," she murmured, almost under her breath. He noticed the hurt in her eyes, and he lifted his hand, grazing it over her cheek lightly.
"I didn't wander away from you," he whispered. "On the contrary, as a matter of fact."
As soon as the words left his mouth, he regretted them, for it wasn't his place to try to steal her heart from the vampire who she loved. It wasn't his place to do anything other than keep her from harm, to keep her safe, and alive as long as possible. It wasn't even his place to love her, though that was something he couldn't help.
Her eyes widened in surprise, and she looked at him for a moment, tears shimmering in her eyes, making the blue there seem like a crystal lake. Giles saw himself reflected, tiny, in her gaze.
"Can we?" she asked him softly.
His heart skipped a beat, and he wondered for a moment what he should say. Follow his duty or his heart? Were the two choices always going to be conflicting?
So he sighed, and brushed a silky strand of hair behind her ear, and shook his head. "I wish I could say we could," he admitted, sadness in his tone. "But not now."
He waited for her reply.
But she didn't say anything to that. Not to that admission of his feelings, to the truth that he was just beginning to realize for himself. He worried later, at home, that it might become something between them, something awkward and unworkable, something desperately strained, but in that second, Buffy laid her head against his chest and closed her eyes.
And he closed his eyes too, holding her hand, clasped against his heart. He inhaled deeply and smelled the soft scent of her perfume, and was content. Her fingers dug gently into his tuxedo shirt. So he hoped, for that second, that he had found a way to make her content too.
* * *
* * *
What Angel had done to him had been a convenient excuse to stay away from the tortured couple. Giles knew, certainly, the way one sometimes knows what will or won't happen in their life, that things would never be like he hoped. He hadn't realized then, why he was doing it, passing it off as too painful to be around the vampire who had killed Jenny.
And it was too painful. Because of Jenny, yes, at first.
And then because Angel had something that Giles desperately wanted, even after the vampire decided to leave. Angel had the light in her eyes, the smile that she reserved solely for him, her laugh that filled the room.
But then he was gone, and Buffy was left alone with Giles for the entire summer.
Buffy trained hard that summer, and when she wasn't training, she was spending time at his house, watching television with him, sipping tea, talking about things that she would most likely regret admitting later. Her feelings about Angel, college, her mother, her duty, life. Giles would listen attentively, hoping that one day, that look would come over her face again, the look he had caught once, that night at the prom. But it didn't.
Giles supposed that he should be grateful for that, grateful for the fact that things were as easy between them as they should be, glad that his unthinking comment hadn't made their relationship hard to bear. But he still wanted to see her look at him that way again, as if he were the only thing she could see, as if he was the only thing that was important.
When it finally happened again, it was in the most unexpected time, for the most unexpected reason.
His old mate from college, Olivia, had been driving through California on her way to a business meeting, and she had stopped by to say hello. Saying hello became a drink, and then a long talk about old times and old friends, and then a perfectly innocent offer for her to spend the night instead of drive on while she was falling asleep. So she stayed.
And though Giles certainly knew that Olivia was an attractive woman, beautiful by all standards, it simply didn't occur to him that she should be interested in him, or he her. His heart was taken, and that was settled, and though they had had a brief fling in their early twenties, all that remained was a solid friendship.
So when Buffy came over the next morning, and found Olivia dressed in a shirt that Giles had loaned her, he fancied it that she was jealous.
He smiled. "I'm not supposed to have a personal life?"
Buffy pouted adorably, her eyes confused and staring at him with that sparkle he had longed to see. "No, because you're... very very old, and it's... gross."
Oddly enough, that comment didn't bother him because he could see that she was simply bewildered, and wondering how he could have ever gotten a sex life. He had noticed the same look of confusion in his reflection after he had first found out how Angel had lost his soul, though Giles didn't then know why.
But, perhaps... Perhaps it was that she saw him as her father, a suspicion which was later confirmed in his mind when she asked him to give her away at the 'wedding' she and Spike had planned. And Spike, platinum demon that he was, calling him "father" annoyed the hell out of Giles, to be sure.
Of course, he was touched by the sentiment. The fact that Buffy at least cared about him that much, enough to ask him to be an important part of her wedding day. That was special to him, as everything she did was special to him. But sometimes, some specials weren't enough.
So when she fell asleep at his apartment a week later, after a fairly dangerous fight with a particularly vicious demon, he had time to reflect on all of this.
Giles thought about her youth and beauty, the fire in her spirit, the extra sparkle in her eyes when she was angry. Her smile, which never ceased to touch his soul when it was directly aimed at him, the smile that he could feel when his eyes were closed and his back was to her. He thought about the way her skin shined with perspiration as she battled him in training, the way she always knelt over him after winning to make sure he was okay. The touch of her hand. The warmth of her breath. How soft her lips looked.
And he decided to let her go.
Of course, that became inconceivably impossible when he leaned over to tuck her worn figure under a blanket, and heard her whisper his name.
Giles stood up, startled.
"Huh?" he said aloud, with trademark Cordelia gracefulness, then clamped his mouth shut.
Buffy stirred, her eyes fluttering open tiredly. "I said Giles."
He looked down at her in surprise. "You're awake?"
Buffy shook her head, a sleepy smile curving her mouth lazily. "Nope. But then, I never am in this situation, am I?" She sighed. "You're always a dream."
His eyebrows knitted, and he sat down on the edge of the couch. "I am?" He brushed her cheek lightly with his knuckles, his voice lowering to a whisper. "Do I feel like a dream?"
She smiled sweetly at him; shook her head again. "Nope," she repeated softly. "Are you a dream right now, Giles? Am I imagining the look, and the touch, and everything else that's making me feel so good?"
"Everything else?" he echoed.
Her smile turned a bit wicked, slightly naughty, and she looked down at herself before looking back up and meeting his eyes. "The blanket," she clarified.
Giles let out a breath he hadn't realized he was holding. "Oh."
"And you," she breathed. "Being here, next to me, like this. Is the sun up yet?"
He glanced toward the clock. "Hardly. Not for another four hours."
Buffy's hand lifted, and she grazed his mouth with her fingertips. "Do you remember the prom, Giles? When I asked you if this was possible? Do you remember what you said?"
His eyes were dark, sad. "I said not now."
"You do remember," she smiled, studying his face. "Well, the now for then is gone and now there's a now for... now. Can we?"
"I don't know," he replied honestly, his hands finding her hair and burying themselves there. His eyes swept over the contours of her cheeks and neck, her slim shoulders that were peeking out from the straps of her tank top, which had slid down some time in the night. "What do you think?"
Buffy paused, looking at him intently. Her hair was fanned out behind her, like a golden halo on the sofa cushion, and she licked her lips, enjoying the feel of his fingertips on her scalp. "I wasn't the one who needed to be ready," she reminded him finally.
He smiled. "But you were. You... and Angel. You're in love with him still."
The words weren't accusatory, just a simple statement of fact. Strange, he thought mildly, they don't hurt me.
"You're still in love with Jenny," she countered quietly. "It's going to be like that for always. You know? I love Angel; he's a part of me that I can't hide, and that I don't want to hide. Jenny is a part of you. It's like that when someone leaves you, you can't help but love them forever."
"Yes," he agreed, his voice hoarse, wondering where she was going.
"But," she continued, with a wisdom beyond her years, "That doesn't mean we can't love other people, with everything that we are." Her mouth lifted in an impish smile. "How am I doing so far?"
Giles chuckled, falling silent when her hands reached up and brushed through her hair, capturing his palms with her fingers. He cleared his throat, which was suddenly tight, and murmured, "Perfectly well, I think."
"So," he repeated after her, looking into her eyes. Like the seas off the shores of tropical islands. He could drown in both. "Can we see this by the light of day?"
"Meaning?" she asked.
"Meaning, you go to sleep," he explained with difficulty, "And I go to sleep, and we do this separately, and see how things look when we wake up? I must admit that I'm not at my most objective when it's the middle of the night, and a woman whose beauty surpasses anything I've ever seen is staring up at me with... Feelings... in her eyes."
"Lust," she grinned. He started. Her voice became soft, velvety. "And other things. Nice, fuzzy things. Okay, I see your point."
"My point?" he asked hollowly, forgetting himself.
"I have a distinguished, handsome man, looking down at me like I've been put on the Earth only to bring beauty to it, and I have a feeling that that doesn't make me all too objective, either," she murmured with a smile.
Giles smiled back. He slowly disentangled his hands from her hair, careful not to pull, and then stood. Buffy stretched, her eyes already drooping closed again.
"Goodnight," he whispered, turning away.
"Giles?" she called after him.
He stopped, and turned back to her for a moment. "Yes, Love?"
"Promise we'll talk in the morning? And it won't be like this night never happened?" she asked him, a little fearfully.
Affection melted over his face. "I promise. I could never pretend otherwise," he confessed, and waited for her response.
It didn't come.
At his promise, she had promptly fallen asleep.
* * *
* * *
He was making coffee in the morning when she woke up. She stumbled into the kitchen, brushing her hair out of her eyes, and moaned quietly. "It's so early!"
"It's almost eleven," Giles pointed out with a smile. He gestured to a chair at the table. "Feel awake enough to talk?"
"Talk about what?" Buffy asked casually, sitting down.
Giles's hand faltered as he was pouring her a cup of coffee. He blanched. Was it possible that Buffy had been asleep, or that it had all been a dream? It had certainly... felt real. But then, sometimes his dreams did.
His throat burned as he set down the mug of steaming coffee in front of her. He sat down across from her at the table, and rubbed his temples with his hands.
Buffy burst into a sunny smile. "I'm kidding, Giles. Don't have a stroke on account of me."
Giles relaxed, seeing the look on her face, and pulled a smirk up through the feeling of shock that had numbed him for a moment. "Very funny, Buffy. And if I'm not having strokes on account of you," he muttered jokingly, "Then I might as well not have them at all. And they've become something of a habit."
"Very funny," she parroted, blushing. She took a sip of her coffee. "Sorry about that. You just looked so calm... I feel like I'm shaking inside."
He smiled. "I didn't sleep at all," he admitted. "I feel the same way."
"You didn't sleep?"
"No. One of the longest nights of my life, Buffy. Somehow, all of my long nights have been due to you," he said with a grin. "But this one, especially so. I weighed the options very carefully. I debated over the pros and cons of allowing this relationship to progress into something other than a friendship, other than a partnership. You're so young, and I'm so... not. You have your whole life ahead of you."
"Which is most likely only going to be a few years, at the most," she pointed out.
He winced, stung. "No," he denied harshly. "No." Giles exhaled. "And I thought about your relationship with Angel, and your budding... ah... friendship with this Riley fellow. And either of them are more suited to you than I am, you have to admit."
Her eyes narrowed. "I don't have to admit any such thing!" she cried angrily. "Giles, think about this for a second. You and me. Spend every day together, doing something or another. Training, killing things. It's a pretty bonding experience, no? And besides that... You know me. You know everything about me, which is something that I like. No secrets. Granted, I don't know everything about you, but that'll come in time. And, Angel? Even older than you are."
He struggled to hide his smile at that comment, trying to remain objective. "Still, Buffy, perhaps it would be wisest of us to..."
She stood, setting down her mug on the table so hard that some of the coffee spilled out. "Wisest of us to admit our feelings, and get on with it," she insisted firmly. She walked over to him, her eyes resolved, and placed herself directly on his lap.
Giles looked up at her in shock, automatically moving to hold her in place as she wiggled to get comfortable. She smiled when his hands threaded around her waist. "That's better."
He stared into her eyes, which were unrelenting, even as they radiated unbelievable kindness. He thought about the previous night, the night where she was away from him, when she could have been in his arms, keeping him company while he kept her warm. He smiled.
"Well," he said casually, tightening his hold on her, "If you've made up your mind."
Buffy gave him a shining smile, and the little squeal she had perfected. Her arms looped around his shoulders, and she leaned down to kiss him.
At first, the kiss was simple warm and pleasing, but after a moment it was hot and far more pleasing than any other kiss Giles had experienced. Her mouth sucked at his hotly, her tongue sweeping over his lips. Giles opened his mouth obligingly, letting her tongue delve in, and then battling it with his own. In a fight to the death, there was no question as to who would win. In this fight between kisses, the winning spot was still up for grabs.
Finally he pulled away with a breathless gasp of delight. Buffy's smile was seductive, her voice was a purr.
"If you thought last night was long," she said slowly, her eyes drinking him in, "Just wait for the ones to come."