Because You Loved Me
By Maura Kelly and Gina Martin

SPOILERS: Up to Helpless
FEEDBACK: That would be nice, we always appreciate it.
SUMMARY: An addendum to Giles and Buffy’s last scene together in Helpless.

DISCLAIMER: These wonderful characters are the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, Sandollar Productions, Kuzui Enterprises, 20th Century Fox Television, the WB Television Network, we don’t mean to no infringe on any copyrights.

How many times could a heart break in one day? No longer an abstract question, as so many other inquiries in his life. For Rupert Giles, the query slipped through his mind somewhere between the horror, pain and guilt throbbing his heart and soul. His heart had broken several times since coming to California. More emotional trauma seemed certain. How much pain could a man endure before the emotions destroyed him? A terrible chill of foreboding testified he seemed destined to answer that from a personal perspective.

The first break came three years ago when his Slayer nearly died from a witch's spell. The first near-death crisis the new Watcher/Slayer team faced, the first time his heart cracked with respect and affection for the spunky teen crossed between a cheerleader and a savior of the world. In the three years since they had been through death and life-on-the-Hellmouth together. Past the rocky road of Angel, of Angelus' murders and torture. Well past Buffy's running away and secretly hiding Angel's return from the dead. Beyond the paths of common mortals, to high trails of horror, terror, courage and friendship. Their bond continually held past the anguish, because at the foundation of their relationship was the rock-solid certainty that they were the same, Watcher and Slayer. Destined to fight the dark forces of nature side by side -- Buffy and Giles. They knew when all was said and done, they were in this together.

Until this week when he betrayed his life, his soul, his heart -- her. Today, when he confessed his treachery and heard the most cutting, cruel words possible stake him in the heart. Following the Watcher Council's archaic, fiendish ritual of drugging the Slayer so she would fight a vicious vampire with mortal strength, Giles betrayed Buffy. Unforgivable. There could be no excuse for his actions. Yes, he was obeying orders. That weak plea meant nothing. He violated the center -- the 'everything' in his life.

"If you touch me I'll kill you."

At that moment he would have driven a real stake through his heart if she had given the word.

"I'm deeply sorry, Buffy . . .

. . . you'll be safe now I promise you.

Whatever I have to do . . .

. . . to win back your trust . . .

Later he had saved her life -- the least he could do.

"I have recommended to the Council and they've agreed that you be relieved of your duties as Watcher immediately.

You're fired."

With that sentence he thought he could feel pieces of his heart crumble.

Not 'her' Watcher anymore? He would rather die.

"Your affection for your charge has rendered you incapable of clear and impartial judgment. You have a father's love for the child and that is useless to the cause.

It would be best if you had no further contact with the Slayer."

A father's love? Love, yes, like a father? Defining his love, categorizing the aspects of such a complete affection was impossible, but love her -- he did utterly and completely with every shred of his being. Buffy owned his heart and soul. The Council could dismiss him and turn their back on him. They could not dictate his feelings, what was left of his heart, only Buffy could do that.

"I'm not going anywhere."

"No, well, I didn't expect you would adhere to that.

However, if you interfere with the new Watcher or countermand his authority in any way you will be dealt with.

Are we clear?"

Euphemistic threats meant nothing to him now. What could the council do, kill him to keep him out of Buffy's life? It would be the only way they could deter him. Officially her Watcher or not, he belonged to her. He betrayed her once -- to his everlasting shame. Nothing in Heaven, Hell or in between could take him from her again.

"Oh, we're very clear."

The break in his heart splintered wider when Buffy, across the room, leaned her injured head on her hand. From pain or emotional extremes, she trembled, eyes pooled with tears. When she reached for a cloth to dab her wounded forehead, he acted on instinct. Crossing the room, he gently seized onto the cloth. Trembling with fear, he waited for her to expel him, to verify her hatred for him, complete the destruction of his heart by dismissing him as Travers had fired him from being her Watcher. No obvious rancor in her eyes when she finally made eye contact, no violent remonstrations.

Holding the cloth, their fingers touched. Her's cold and trembling, his cold and nerveless. Beneath that purely physical contact, a warmth, a reassurance. Breathing again, wounded heart beating again, Giles knelt, gently wiping the blood away from her gash. The tears spilled down her face in thin trails of agony. His heart broke again. He would stop counting how many times. Tears hot against his own face, he tenderly accepted her into his arms as she leaned against his shoulder. The first spark of hope warmed him, breathing life back into his shattered psyche. If she could forgive him . . . .

Blurry, through the window of the library door, he saw Quentin watching them. Eyes glittering slits of condemnation, of recognition, of malice observed them for a moment. Would this mean more sanctions against him from the Council?

"I love you, too" Buffy brokenly sobbed.

Choking on the knot in his throat -- pieces of his heart surfacing -- he whispered, "I love you, Buffy." Eyes closed against the bittersweet drops, he held her as tightly as he dared. "I love you with all my heart."

Control returned slowly as he imagined his heart slowly mending. Crevices narrowing, he knew the cracks, like the fault line of the Hellmouth, would never fully heal. He had done damaging, unforgivable things to his Slayer, and he could never fully atone for the pain he caused her. That he had not completely killed her faith and love for him was a miracle he would accept without fully understanding the blessing.

Blinking away the moisture, he noted Travers was gone. How much of the touching scene had the councilman observed? Giles felt he would learn that in the future in some unpleasant manner. There will be hell to pay, he thought ironically. Gladly, he would pay it to have Buffy's faith in him restored.

"I'm sorry --"

"Shhh," he tenderly interrupted.

"I said terrible --"

The raw trembling sobs hurt him more than her accusations had earlier that night.

"I did terrible things to you, Buffy. I can never ask for your forgiveness, but I can promise I will never -- "

"Shhh," she admonished, pulling away and pressing her fingers to his lips.

Staring at him, eye to eye, he recognized her familiar resolve, her brave determination, which had nothing to do with her Slayer strength. These powers were totally Buffy Summers.

"We've both made terrible mistakes," she told him, maturity born of life and death on the Hellmouth underlying her depth. No trace of the insecure teen she sometimes exhibited, this was the energy of a woman of unbelievable character. "I forgive you for anything you think you've done wrong, because you love me."

Was it possible for his heart to break into a million pieces instantly? It felt like it at that moment. Breaking from shame and love and pride. How could a heart experience and endure such incredible emotions all at once?

"I'm alive a hundred times over because you've trained me, you've patiently taught me, even when I didn't want to have anything to do with being a Slayer." She fondly wiped the tears from his face. "I never put it into words like Travers, but I knew all along it's because you love me." She threw her arms around his neck. "And I love you so much. Don't ever leave me, Giles, no matter what."

"No matter what, I will never, ever leave you, I promise," he vowed, tears trickling down his face again. He wondered if this protective, all-consuming love burning through his soul was what a parent felt for a child, and knew it was not -- but the passion and possessiveness of soul-connected love. No matter how much hurt they had dealt out, or would deal out in the future, that love remained untarnished and absolute. "I do love you, Buffy," he confessed into the fine strands of hair covering his face. "I will always love you."

Releasing her grip on his neck, she pulled away, keeping her hands on his shoulders. "I won't let the Council take you away." A dire threat from the Slayer. This protective love certainly went both ways. "He threatened you, Giles."

"Don't worry. As long as I keep my place --"

"I don't care about any new Watcher. I'll ignore him."

The loyalty warmed him, driving out so much of the chill fear had deposited inside him. "You'll cooperate the best you can with him, Buffy. You need the support of the Watcher Council, their research and assistance . . . "

"They can't replace you." A threat of her own. A certainty that he had a permanent anchor in her heart as well. "They can never take you away from me."

"No. I will stay on here as the Librarian." Caressing her chin, neck, face, he promised, "I will always be here for you. Always."

For the first time in so long, she smiled. She hugged him again, quickly, then leaned back to study his face. The adoration in her eyes seemed to reflect the bubbling emotions in his mended heart. Leaning over, she gave him a fleeting kiss on his cheek.

Embarrassed, he felt the heat of a blush cover his face. Buffy laughed.

He cleared his throat. "Well, yes, uh, I think perhaps we mustn't waste any more time. I shall bandage your forehead and drive you home."

"That's my Giles," she beamed proudly.

His smile came easily at her prompting. Love. How could he have mislabeled these turbulent emotions he felt since he had met Buffy? Only love was responsible for these highs and lows of emotions. Only because he loved her could he so completely surrender his life to her.