Title: "Matchmaker, Matchmaker"
Distribution: As long as you ask, and my name stays with it, you can have it.
Content: You watch the show, you can read this.
Summary: Willow decides to try her hand at matchmaking.
Feedback: Please, love it, need it.
Disclaimer: The characters belong to Joss, he's just letting me play with them. "I Loved You" is by Alexander Pushkin. "To Make You Feel My Love" is by Garth Brooks.
"I still don't see the reason why I have to be
here," Giles said.
"Just think of it as a learning experience," Buffy replied. "Besides, you really need to learn to relax more."
They were standing on the balcony of the Bronze. Below Willow and Xander were dancing in a crowd of people.
A lot had happened in the month that Buffy had been away. Oz had moved away. He and Willow still kept in touch, but they weren't boyfriend/girlfriend anymore. Xander and Cordelia had decided that their "relationship" wasn't really working and decided to let things cool down. Cordelia had gone to the East Coast to stay with some relatives for the summer and to "get a change of scenery." And Buffy was pleasantly surprised at what was happening between Xander and Willow. Even though they had both said that they had known each other since they were in diapers and they were best friends, it was still weird to think of them as "going out." Buffy was happy for them, but she was upset because it made her think of Angel. She still blamed herself for everything that had happened, even though the others had told her that they didn't blame her, and she had hardly been responsible. But she knew that she had unleashed a demon that had killed Giles' love and had almost destroyed him. Then when Angel had come back and she had sent him to Hell, it had almost destroyed her. She had locked her heart away, not wanting to let herself be hurt again, ever. She had also found out that Willow had found out about her being expelled and had hacked into the school computer and had unexpelled her. Things between Buffy and her mother had been strained, but they were slowly building their relationship back up. Joyce had even taken an interest in the Watcher/Slayer realm.
"I don't see how you young people can categorize this as music," Giles said, breaking her out of her reverie.
"Didn't you listen to music that was considered weird when you were younger?" she asked.
"Yes, but at least we knew that that was music. This is more noise than anything else."
"Well, rock was considered weird when it came out. Besides, music is only a way for people to express themselves."
"I think it's cute," Willow said.
"What?" asked Xander.
"Those two." She gestured with her head towards Buffy and Giles.
Xander followed her gaze. "I don't see anything cute in that. Buffy and Giles are just talking."
"Well, I do. They're really committed to each other."
"Wait a minute. You're not going to try to get them together, now are you?"
"Why not? They're going to be together forever anyway. Why not have them be *together* together?"
"Well, the May-December relationship is getting kind of old, for starters. Secondly, if things don't work out, they're still going to have to deal with each other. Thirdly, if things don't work out, it's safe to say that you're dead."
"But think about it. They've been through so much together and they've been through so much on their own that they understand what the other's going through."
"There's no point in arguing with you, is there? You're bent on doing this and I'll let you do it, but I'm not going to get involved. I don't want Buffy mad at me like when she found out about Angel."
Through a few slips of the tongue, Buffy had found out that Xander had lied about what Willow was doing. She would have beaten him up pretty badly, if not killed him, if Giles hadn't pulled her off of him. Her self-blame had become stronger. The others could hear her muttering things like: "If I hadn't killed him on first sight.", "If I hadn't pushed us into a deeper relationship.", "If we hadn't had sex.". They felt helpless that they couldn't do anything to help her, but they knew she had to come out of it on her own. Every once in a while, she would start to come out of it, but then something would put her back to blaming herself.
"How do you plan on getting those two together?" Xander asked.
"I thought you weren't going to get involved," Willow said.
"I'm not. I'm just wondering."
"I was thinking of subtly pushing them together and letting their feelings do the rest."
"How are you sure that they have those types of feelings?"
"I just know." She began to watch the pair again.
"Have you ever danced?" Buffy asked.
"Not since I was younger," Giles replied. "Not even with Jenny."
"I don't know. In a way it's like music, a way for people to express themselves, but it's more intimate." He glanced at her. "When a couple dances, they let the other person into their personal space. They have to let down their guard. I wasn't ready for that. I don't know if I ever will be ready to let another woman into my heart."
"Even if you think she's the right one?"
"I thought Jenny was the right one, but by letting her into my life, I killed her."
"You didn't kill Jenny. Angelus did, and he killed her because I lifted the curse, so I'm responsible for her death."
"Excuse us, but before we start having another who-gets-the-greater-blame-fest and it gets real late, can we please go home?" Xander asked, walking towards them, his arm draped casually around Willow's shoulders.
The next day the threesome met early at the library. They had agreed to help Giles in the library if he went with them to the Bronze. They went in and Giles explained to them what needed to be done. They worked hard that day and got about a quarter way through.
Later that afternoon, Willow said, "I have an idea. Since it's getting kind of late and we're all tired of working here, let's go dancing."
"All four of us?" Giles asked.
"Why not? It'll do us all some good to go out and relax. I'm sure you know how to dance, Giles."
"That sounds like a good idea, Wil," Buffy said, "but where are we going to go dancing? Giles doesn't really like the Bronze."
"The Bronze is having a DJ tonight instead of a band, so there'll probably be a wider range of music."
"I never said I wouldn't go," Giles said, defensively. "I just didn't think the three of you wanted me with you, especially at a teen hangout."
"You have to realize you're one of the group now, Giles. How about we meet at the Bronze in an hour?"
"Sounds good," the others responded and they all went their separate ways.
"Oh, Giles?" Willow called before he got into his car. "Please, no tweed." He simply nodded, got in and drove off. Willow hoped everything would go well.
Giles went home and quickly got a shower. He then dug into the back of his closet and pulled out a pair of pants and a shirt. Jenny had given them to him when she was alive. She had said that he needed an outfit besides his usual tweed one. He had never really had a chance to wear it while she was alive, and after she died, he couldn't bear to. The pants were a black material that wasn't exactly dressy, but it wasn't exactly casual either. They fit perfectly. The shirt was a blue silk that was a few shades shy of royal blue. The shirt was a little too big, but it didn't look too bad if he didn't try to tuck it in all the way and let it be a little baggy. After he pulled on his shoes, he went to get a tie, but decided against it. If he wasn't going to be allowed to have the protection of the tweed jacket, he may as well go as casual as possible. God knows he was already past his comfort zone, why not just throw all caution to the wind?
When Buffy got home, she quickly ran upstairs. She showered and washed her hair, then toweled dry it and put a towel around it. She picked out a short black dress with thin straps and black heeled sandals. She then put on some makeup and fixed her hair. She didn't know why she was taking so much time to make herself look so good. It was just for Willow, Xander and Giles. They had seen her at her highest and lowest points. But still, something told her tonight was going to be different, special.
As she was finishing up, her mom knocked on the door. "Come on in, Mom," Buffy said.
Joyce came in and sat on Buffy's bed. "Where are you planning on going?" she asked.
"The Bronze," Buffy answered.
"Xander and Willow. Might meet some people there."
"You weren't planning on sneaking out the window, were you?"
"In this? Are you kidding?" They both laughed.
"Just be home before dawn, okay? I'll leave the kitchen door open."
"Just be careful, okay?"
"Don't worry, Mom."
"I'm your mother, I'm supposed to worry." Joyce kissed Buffy on the cheek and left.
Buffy grabbed her purse with stakes and holy water and left. When she arrived at the Bronze, she found Willow and Xander at a table in the corner. Giles was nowhere to be found. Buffy walked over to the table and sat down.
"I hope he shows up," Buffy said, after they all said hi.
"He's never gone back on his promises before," Willow said.
"Ten bucks says he comes in tweed," Xander said.
Willow opened her mouth to speak, but no sound came out. She opened and shut her mouth a few times and pointed to something behind Buffy. Buffy turned to see Giles come up to them.
"Hi," he whispered, sitting down. There was an awkward moment of silence.
Finally, Buffy spoke up. "You look great, Giles," she said. The others murmured their agreement.
Giles stood up and said, "Well, are we going to sit here all night, or are we going to dance?" The other three got up and they went to the dance floor. Xander and Willow went to the middle and Buffy and Giles went to a secluded corner.
"You'll have to bear with me," Giles said. "It's been a long while since I've been dancing."
"Don't worry," Buffy said, "just dance."
She put his arms around her waist and put her arms around his neck. She began to move the two of them to the pulsating beat of the music. Giles tried to pull away and put some space between them, but Buffy wouldn't let him. He finally stopped struggling and began to dance. After a few fast songs, a slow one came on. Giles took Buffy's right hand and put it on his shoulder, held her left hand in his right and put his left hand in the small of her back. He pulled her close and began to move to the music.
Buffy filled all of Giles' senses. The smell of her hair, the way her hand fit perfectly in his, the way they moved together. Why hadn't he seen this before? How perfect they were together? Buffy began to realize how close she and Giles were, the way he held her, as if he was afraid she would break, but also afraid that if he held her too lightly, she would run away.
All of Buffy's warning signals were telling her to run away, but something more powerful made her stay. It had been a long time since she had felt so safe and protected like she did now. They could feel themselves moving closer. Giles lifted her chin up with the tips of his fingers. He bent his head to kiss her lips. He hesitated for a moment.
"No," she said, forcing space between them, "I don't deserve this."
"W-What?" he asked. Everything had seemed so perfect, and then.
"I don't deserve this." Buffy turned and ran out, tears blurring her vision.
"Buffy, wait. I.." Giles did the only thing that seemed logical and went after her. He caught up to her outside. He grabbed her arm and turned her around. "Buffy, I-I-I'm sorry. I didn't mean to upset you. You're a wonderful girl and I would never hurt you."
"Is that all I am to you?" she spat, her eyes blazing. "Some girl that needs to be told what to do, how to act, what to say? God! You're as bad as Angel was. Always talking down to me. Making me think that I was something special then dropping me. Sorry, I'm not that foolish. You can go tell your Watcher Council that I quit. I'm sure another Slayer was activated when Kendra died. I'm sure she'd enjoy being moved to the front lines." She turned and stalked off.
Giles felt like his feet had been taken out from under him. He sank to the ground. Was that really how he had been treating her? Like a child? She was anything but a child. He had tried not to, but sometimes his want to protect her from the world became too strong. He had pushed her away once, and now he had done it again. How could he have been so
stupid? He began to cry. Why was he always losing her?
Buffy quickly walked home. God! That man was so infuriating sometimes, and yet, so loveable. Every time she had messed up, he was there telling her that he still loved her, but she had always felt like he was putting some distance between them. Then after she came home, it seemed like he was always around. She didn't really mind since it seemed like he was finally coming out of his shell. Then she had pushed him away. It had felt so good to be in his arms, but she had gotten scared and ran away. Was that how she was going to deal with problems now? Run away from them? God, she was such a coward. She began to cry as she opened the kitchen door. She quickly shut it and ran upstairs. She fell on her bed and cried. She cried until she was too tired to cry anymore and fell asleep.
Buffy went to the library early the next morning and immediately went into Giles' office. "Giles, we need to talk," she said.
"W-What?" he said looking up from some paperwork. "Oh, yes, yes, of course. Please sit down." He got up and shut the door. He turned his chair to face Buffy, who was sitting on the couch. "What did you want to talk about?"
"I'm sorry about how I acted last night. I got scared."
"And I'm sorry for making you feel like a little girl, which you clearly are not, and for scaring you. It's just that, I don't know. There's just something about you that makes me feel very wonderful, but very scared at the same time. Last night every thing was different form the way we usually meet and I thought that I would be able to tell you about it. But instead I upset you." He looked down at his hands and began to pick at a nail. "I'm sorry."
"Things have been moving so fast lately and -"
"Then I'll go slow. I've already waited most of a lifetime."
"But what about the school? You'll be fired. And the Watchers -"
"Don't have to know. It's worked before. And the school doesn't need to know either. I don't always make the right choices, but this seems like one that's right."
"Well, do we tell Willow and Xander?"
"Not just yet. Let's see how things go first."
"You don't have any curses on you, do you? I don't really feel like going through that again."
"No, I don't. I'm basically as dull as they come."
"I'd hardly call someone who deals with demons and vampires on a daily basis dull."
"And would you please try to stop taking regular doses of self-guilt. Yes, you may have been partly to blame, but so were the rest of us. None of us gets off scot-free."
"I'll try. As long as you try to be not so dull."
"Fair enough, but I have been trying."
"And it looks like we should try to get out there and do some work. Xander and Willow just came in."
They both got up. Giles opened the door. He put his hand on Buffy's back as she walked by, as if to reassure her everything was going to be okay. When they got out to Willow and Xander, they looked up expectantly.
"You okay, Buffy?" Willow asked.
"Yeah, just wigged out a bit last night," she replied.
"You forgot this," Xander said, gesturing to her pocketbook on the table. "You seemed to be in quite a rush to get out, you sure everything's fine?" His eyes probed her and his tone suggested he didn't believe she was telling the truth, at least not all of it.
"Yes," she said firmly. "I just let my memories get the best of me again."
They worked hard that day and the next going through the books. They hardly talked and only took breaks when absolutely necessary. On the fourth day they finally finished sorting all the books. All of the good books had been put back on the shelves and a list had been made of books that needed to be ordered.
As they were getting ready to go, Buffy spotted a small red book on one of the tables. She picked it up and it opened to a page that was marked. She began to read the poem that was circled:
I loved you; even now I may confess, / some embers of my love their fire retain; / But do not let it cause you more distress, / I do not want to sadden you again. / Hopeless and tongue-tied, yet I loved you dearly / With pangs the jealous and timid know; / So tenderly I loved you, so sincerely, / I pray God grant you love another so.
"Giles, is this yours?" she asked as he came out of his office and locked it.
"What? Oh, that," he said putting his keys in his pocket and taking the book. "Yes, it is. Jenny gave it to me. She said the marked poem reminded her of me. I guess I accidentally put it on one of the piles and it got shelved."
They went out of the library and he locked the door. They had reached his car.
"Since you didn't kiss me last night, I want you to kiss me now."
"I'm not going to kiss you now."
Buffy got into the car with a huff. They rode to her house in silence. When they got there, Giles shut the car off. Before she got out, Giles put a hand on her shoulder and gently massaged it with his thumb. "I'm sorry," he said. "Just because I said I wasn't going to kiss you then doesn't mean I'm not going to kiss you now."
He leaned over and kissed her. The kiss was part fire and passion, part tenderness and understanding, and totally sweet. Reluctantly, he pulled away.
"I'm sorry," he said. "I-I shouldn't have done that."
"Stop apologizing," she said. "We should have know something was going to happen in our relationship. I'll talk to you later."
She got out of the car and went inside. She thoughtfully went up to her room. What was happening? Why did she have to fall for the wrong men? True, Giles was a few centuries younger than Angel had been, and human, Angel had at least looked young enough to be her boyfriend. Maybe she had a curse on her that she would only love those she shouldn't. But she knew that Giles was the right one, the only one for her. He was the only one that totally understood what she was going through, and had gone through. He would always be there for her, and probably after she was gone. She knew that she wasn't going to live to die a natural death. She was entitled to some happiness, wasn't she? She sat down on her bed and sighed. His kiss had been really good. And those eyes. And that smile. He was pretty handsome, even if he was a middle-aged Brit. She must have fallen asleep because the next thing she knew, her mom was waking her up for dinner.
Giles sat outside of Buffy's house for a few moments. He didn't really know why he had done it, it just seemed right. But was it really right? Ever since Eyghon had killed Randall, he had been careful, made sure he played by the rules. But the love he felt knew no rules. How would it look for a 44-year-old to be going out with a 17-year-old? Still, it felt right, and his instincts had never let him down before. The kiss even surprised him, especially when she kissed him back. He had never thought it could taste so sweet. Even though he had never looked at younger women, save Jenny, there was something about Buffy. She had such a determination about her, and her courage was more than most people's. She also had a grace and beauty about her that was a rare quality among young women these days. He started the car and drove home, completely confused and utterly loving it.
After dinner, Joyce said, "Willow called earlier, Buffy. She said she wants you to call her."
"Okay," Buffy said. "I'll call her upstairs."
"If it's about the Slayer stuff, and you need to go out, please use a door."
"Don't worry, Mom." Buffy kissed her mom on the cheek and ran upstairs to call Willow. "What's up?" she asked when Willow answered.
"Well, Xander and I were talking earlier, not that we haven't since then, but anyway, and he got this really good idea, not that he hasn't gotten good ideas before, but anyway -"
"Wil, you're babbling again."
"Oh, sorry. Anyway, Xander's plan was for the four of us to go to the beach for a few days. Giles can come 'cause we need a chaperone and 'cause he's our friend. Xander says he can find a place for us to stay."
"How long exactly are we talking about?"
"I'll have to talk to my mom. When are we planning on leaving?"
"As soon as we can get everything together."
"All right. I'll talk to my mom and let you know."
Buffy hung up. Why did it seem like everything was pushing her and Giles together? Well, it wasn't exactly like guys were lining up to go out with her either. In a way, they were perfect together, like Oz and Willow were, Xander and Willow are, she and Angel were, Giles and Jenny were. The last two couples saddened her, but she remembered what she had promised and didn't dwell on it. She went downstairs to find her mom.
As soon as Willow hung up, she called Xander. "Hey," she said when he picked up. "How'd it go?"
"Great, better than I expected. He didn't hesitate, didn't stutter, and thought it was a great idea for the four of us to take a vacation. How about you?"
"She took it right away. Did he say anything about her?"
"Not besides that she deserves some time off."
"Mom!" Buffy yelled, coming down the steps.
"What is it, Buffy?" Joyce asked, coming out of the living room.
"Can I go to the beach with Willow and Xander?"
"In a few days."
"Who will be chaperoning you three?"
"Do you think that's a good idea?"
"The four of us thought it would be a great idea to spend some time together out side of the school."
But do you think it's such a good idea to have such a close
relationship with your school librarian?"
"He's my Watcher, Mom. We're supposed to have a close relationship."
"How long will you be gone?"
"Probably a week."
"What if something happens with the Hellmouth thing?"
"Everything should be fine. Giles isn't even worried, and this kind of quiet usually freaks him out."
"I'll think about it. I want to speak with Mr. Giles first."
The next day Giles called Buffy. After she answered, he said, "I suppose you know your mother called me last night. She doesn't approve of all the time we spend together, but said she thought it was probably needed for your training. She agreed to let you go on one condition."
"What?" she asked. "That you come to dinner?"
"How did you know?"
"My mom makes an effort to know all my friends. You're basically the only one she doesn't know very well."
"And did she invite Willow and Xander over for dinner also?"
"No, she made friends with them when they would come to get me or call. She usually only makes dinner for the available older men."
"Well, you should probably tell her that I'm seeing someone."
"We aren't exactly going out, and how would I explain that to my mom? What is this thing you have against my mom?"
"I don't know to both questions. I guess it's just that she so 'normal' that it, as you commonly say, wigs me out."
"You have to come to dinner, Giles. I really want to go to the beach, and besides, it's only one meal."
"I think I know why Angel lost his soul. He couldn't say no to you."
"But I'm sure you still love me anyway. When are you coming?"
"Tomorrow at 5:30. Xander found some hotel rooms for us. We're leaving the day after tomorrow."
"Well, I'm going to start getting ready. See you tomorrow, Giles."
"Good bye, Buffy."
The next day Joyce was practically a basket case. She kept asking Buffy things about Giles, even if she had already known them. Buffy finally got her to concentrate on making dinner. Promptly at 5:30, the doorbell rang. Buffy ran to get it while her mom finished up the dinner. Giles was at the door with a bouquet of flowers.
"These are for you and your mother," he said, handing them to her as he came in. "I don't know if your mother drinks wine and I dare not test myself."
"The flowers are fine," she said. "They're beautiful."
Joyce came out to the front door. "It's so nice to see you again, Mr. Giles," she said, offering her hand. "It's been a while since I last saw you."
He shook her hand. "It's nice to see you again too, Ms. Summers."
"Excuse me," Buffy said. "I'm going to go put these in water."
"I'll do it, honey," Joyce said. "Thank you, Mr. Giles, these are beautiful." She took the flowers and went out to the kitchen.
"Round one, meeting the mother, is through. You've survived so far."
"But will I be able to make it through the rest of the evening, that is the question," Giles said, smiling.
Dinner went smoothly. Giles didn't get too "wigged out", Joyce's nerves settled, and Buffy was able to relax with the two of them settled.
The next day Giles picked Buffy up early. She put her bag in the trunk of his car and they went to Xander's house next. A look of shock crossed Giles' face when Willow also came out of the house, but he quickly covered it.
"Don't worry, Giles," Buffy said. "They've been sleeping over at each other's houses since they were little. They haven't gone all the way. Willow would have told me if they had."
"She-She t-tells y-you these kinds of things?" he stammered, blushing.
"In her round-about way, yes."
Xander and Willow also put their stuff in the trunk and climbed in the car. As soon as they were settled, Giles took off.
"Hey, Buffy," Willow said after a few moments of silence, "did you bring the extra money?"
"Yeah, did you?" she replied.
"Extra money for what?" Giles asked.
"We have to stop at some stores before we hit the beach, if you don't mind."
"No, not at all."
They pulled into a line of outlets before they hit the beach.
"What types of clothes did you bring, Giles?" Willow asked.
"The usual. Underwear, swimming costume, dress clothes like I usually wear, and that outfit I wore to the Bronze the other night," he said.
"Hate to tell ya, but that isn't gonna cut it. We're going shopping."
"What do you mean?"
"We're getting you some new clothes."
"I'm not going shopping."
"Yes, you are."
"Come on, Giles," Buffy said. "You won't die."
"Just this once, and only for you."
The foursome went from store to store looking for clothes. Giles did find some outfits he liked, and had to admit that he had fun. When he got a few new outfits to please Willow and Buffy, they headed to the beach and their hotel.
After a few minutes of following obscure directions, they finally found the hotel. It was a rectangular cream building with red pipe shingles and balconies on the second and third floor rooms. It was at the end of the boardwalk, and set a little apart from the rest of the buildings. They signed in and got their room keys. They went up to their rooms, which were right next to each other and had connecting doors.
They met in the hallway after they had everything situated. "Let's go find some dinner," Giles said. "I'll treat you all." The other three agreed and they set off to find dinner. They finally decided on a seafood restaurant.
After they were seated and began looking at menus, Buffy said, "Are you sure you want to treat us, Giles? This is kind of expensive."
"Can't I treat my three best friends to dinner? You can think of this as a reward for all of your hard work if you want." He smiled shyly and Buffy could feel excitement tingle inside her body.
Willow could sense something good happening between the pair. She hoped everything would work out and the plan wouldn't backfire. She smiled secretly to herself. The waiter came with their drinks and took their orders. Then the foursome began to plan what they would do during the vacation.
They decided to alternate going to the beach with doing something else. After they finished dinner they eagerly returned to the hotel. They explored the hotel for a while, finding a pool, arcade, and restaurant with a dance floor. A sign said that there was dancing every night. Then they went up to their rooms to get ready for bed. Xander and Willow's goodnight kiss took forever.
The next day Willow and Buffy sat on the beach blanket under and the umbrella and watched Xander's antics in the water. They hadn't seen Giles all morning. After a while they let their eyes wander the beach. Some movement from near the water caught their attention. A man about Giles' age had come out of the water. He seemed oddly familiar to them. He was wearing baggy navy blue swimming trunks. He was walking towards them.
"Buffy, does that guy look familiar to you?" Willow asked.
"Yeah," she replied. "He looks like."
"Giles!" the two girls exclaimed as he came up to the blanket and grabbed a towel.
"What?" he asked, drying off.
"Where were you all morning?" Buffy asked.
"I didn't like my other swimming costume, so I went to buy a new one. Then I came out here for a swim and to find you lot." He flopped down onto the blanket. The rest of the day felt like heaven. The foursome played in the ocean and attempted to build a sandcastle. Buffy and Giles took a walk along the beach and held hands. In the afternoon Buffy took a nap. When she woke up, she found herself snuggled against Giles, who had his arm around her. She felt comfortable and happy.
They went back to the hotel that evening. For dinner they went to a pizza place. Giles had found a miniature golf course and they all readily agreed to go play. They all had fun and enjoyed the game. Each got a hole-in-one, along with many balls in the bushes. Giles put his arm around Buffy's shoulders as they walked back to the hotel. She responded by putting her arm around his waist. They were walking a little behind Xander and Willow, who were walking hand in hand.
When they got back to the rooms, Giles said, "Good night, Buffy." He gently touched her cheek.
"Good night, Giles," she replied. She quickly kissed his cheek and went into her room.
"What's going on?" Willow asked as she came in.
"What do you mean?" Buffy asked, getting ready for a shower.
"What's going on between you and Giles?"
"Nothing's going on between me and Giles. At least not right now, anyway." She went into the bathroom and shut the door.
Willow went to the adjoining door and knocked. Xander opened it. "We need to talk," she said.
"Okay," he replied. "Your room, my room, the balcony, the beach, where?"
They went out onto the girls' balcony and shut the door. Xander subconsciously took her hand as they leaned against the railing. "What's up?" he asked.
"I don't think it's working," she said. "Buffy said nothing's happening, and she doesn't seem to be hiding anything. Giles doesn't seem to be hiding anything. What if this whole thing backfires, Xander?"
"Willow, I hate to burst your bubble, but maybe they weren't meant to be together. Sure, Giles is only a middle-aged human and Angel was a 242-year-old vampire, but that doesn't mean there's going to be fireworks between them, or even sparks."
"But I want them to be happy."
"And they aren't happy now?"
"I don't know."
"I don't want to see you get in over your head, Wil. If nothing comes by the end of the trip, will you promise me you'll give it up?"
"Oh, all right."
"That's my Wil." Xander gently kissed her.
Buffy saw the pair kissing through the window. She felt a pang in her heart. She couldn't bear to see them kissing. It reminder her too much of Angel. But it also made her thing of Giles, and what they'd probably never have. He had told her he loved her, danced with her, kissed her, slept next to her, and yet. She still wasn't sure where they stood. His actions seemed to say he wanted to be with her, wanted her, yet, at times, it also seemed like he was saying for her to back off. She curled up in her bed and began to cry. All of the emotions she had bottled up came out.
The next day the foursome paired off and went in opposite directions on the boardwalk. After walking aimlessly for a few hours in silence, Giles guided Buffy over to a bench. They sat down and Giles moved closer to Buffy. Buffy tried to move away, but he caught her hand and kept her from moving.
"We need to talk," he said quietly.
"No, we don't," she said, trying to get up, but he held fast. She relaxed a little and bowed her head.
"Yes, we do. Our relationship is changing, Buffy. It's no longer just Watcher and Slayer, friends, research partners. It's become something a whole lot more. I don't know about you, but it's scaring the hell out of me. The last time I got close to a person, this close to a person, she was killed. I'm scared to death I'm going to lose you. That, more than anything else in the world, would destroy me. I don't know what else to say, Buffy, besides that I love you."
"When I was going out with Angel, I liked it. I liked the risk that was involved. But I was also afraid that the curse would be lifted. When it was, I was devastated. Now when I'm with you, I feel like I did with Angel, but even more. But I'm also scared. This isn't the sixteenth century, Giles. It doesn't look good for the two of us to be together. I'm not saying what I had with Angel was right, but to outsiders, it looked like it was. I love you a whole lot, but I don't know if what I'm feeling is right."
He leaned forward and caught her lips with his. He kissed her tenderly, yet passionately. A fire swept through their veins, unlike any other. Buffy knew then that she loved him with every particle she had, but she was still scared. "Tell me you didn't feel anything," he whispered.
"I-I-I don't know, Giles," she stammered. Tears welled up in her eyes and she tried to blink them away. He blinked and looked away. He didn't want her to see the tears in his own eyes and knew that his heart was breaking into a million pieces. Because of her, he was alive, and because of her, he would die. His existence was solely for Buffy, and she didn't realize it. They sat there quietly for a while, not saying anything. After a while they went back to the hotel. Neither Willow nor Xander had come back yet.
Before they went into their own rooms, Giles took Buffy by the shoulders and made her look at him. "Think about what I said," he told her. "I couldn't love you any more than I already do, and nothing would make me love you any less. Please, give me a chance."
"Good night, Giles," Buffy replied. She gently pushed him away, unlocked her door, and went into her room.
Giles stood looking at Buffy's empty spot for a few minutes after the door had clicked shut. He had to make her see. She had to know the extent of his love for her. And he also had to know how much she loved him. He knew it was more than she was letting on. Then he had an idea.
Buffy went into her room and kicked off her shoes. She took a quick shower and then sunk onto her bed, exhausted. She hadn't known it would be so hard to keep her heart encased in ice. She knew it was hurting Giles, but she didn't want to be hurt again. She knew the truth behind everything he told her, but she didn't want to risk anything.
A little while later she heard Willow come in, and pretended like she was asleep. She heard Willow move around and get ready for bed. Then she felt Willow sit down on the bed.
"Come on, Buffy," Willow said. "I know you're not asleep. What's bugging you?"
"Nothing's bugging me," Buffy mumbled.
"Something's bugging you and I'm not going to let you sleep until you tell me what's wrong."
Buffy huffed and sat up. "It's Giles."
Willow raised an eyebrow. "And?"
"Well, we've kind of started to get involved, and I'm scared. I want this to happen, but now I'm not so sure."
"Have you kissed him?"
"Yeah, twice. I feel like I did with Angel, but so much more too. I feel so complete with Giles, Willow. It's like I've found my other half."
"So what's the problem?"
"What's the problem? Willow, about three months ago, I sent my boyfriend to Hell. My boyfriend, not my ex-boyfriend. That hurt me more than anything. I don't want to get hurt again. But aside from that, Giles is like forty-something. Most people consider our age difference a big ick factor."
"Remember what I told you on your birthday? Carpe diem. Seize the day. Buffy, something like this might never happen again."
"That's what I thought with Angel."
"I'm sure things will work out. Try to get some sleep, you don't look too good."
The next day went by quietly. Buffy and Giles didn't talk beyond what was necessary and basically avoided each other.
That evening when they arrived back at their rooms, there was a cream envelope and a rose on the dresser. The envelope was addressed to Buffy. She hesitantly opened it. The short note read: Meet me in the restaurant at 6:30. Buffy looked at the clock. It read 6:00.
"I have to get ready," Buffy said, shoving the note and the rose at Willow. She quickly showered, dressed, and did her make-up and hair. Some premonition had told her to bring her black dress, and she was glad she had.
At 6:30 Buffy casually walked up to the maitre d' stand. "I'm supposed to meet someone, she said.
"Right this way," he said. He led her to a table. He pulled out a chair for her. She thanked him and looked at her companion. Giles sat across from her, studying her with his intense eyes.
"You look gorgeous," he said.
"You're not too bad yourself," she said. He was wearing the same outfit that he had worn the last time they danced. His sleeves were rolled up just past that elbows and the top two buttons of his shirt were undone. His hair was slightly tousled. The dim light played off his eyes, making the most beautiful she had ever seen.
After they had eaten, Giles clasped Buffy's hand across the table. "I'm sorry," he said, "but I love you. I can't stop feeling this way, nor would I want to. You're the most wonderful, exciting, loving woman I've ever met, Buffy."
He stood up and guided her to the dance floor. A slow song had just begun. Giles gently pulled her close and began to sway to the music. "You are so beautiful," he whispered in her ear. After dancing for a while, he said, "Stay right here," and he left.
Buffy obeyed, like she always had. She saw Giles go up to the band after the song and speak to them for a moment. They nodded and the singer said, "We have a man here named Rupert Giles who would like to sing a song for a special lady in his life."
Giles hesitantly stepped to the microphone and nodded to the band. The band began to play and Giles' rich tenor washed over her.
"When the rain is blowing in your face / And the whole world is on your case / I could offer you a warm embrace / To make you feel my love.
"When evening shadows and the stars appear / And there is no one to dry your tears / I could hold you for a million years / To make you feel my love.
"I know you haven't made your mind up yet / But I would never do you wrong / I've known it since the moment that we met / There's no doubt in my mind where you belong.
"I'd go hungry I'd go black and blue / I'd go crawling down the avenue / There ain't nothing that I wouldn't do / To make you feel my love.
"The storms are raging on a rolling sea / And on the highway of regret / The winds of change are blowing wild and free / You ain't seen nothing like me yet.
"There ain't nothing that I wouldn't do / Go to the ends of the earth for you / Make you happy, make your dreams come true / To make you feel my love."
Giles' voice and the music faded out. Everything was quiet for a moment, and then everyone started applauding loudly. Giles smiled nervously and slipped off the stage. Tears were running down Buffy's cheeks when he returned to her.
"Why?" was all she could manage.
"Because it's all true. I would do whatever I needed to make sure you knew I loved you," he said. He pulled her into an embrace. Then he bent his head down and kissed her. It was full of longing, hope and desire. Buffy could feel herself tingling all the way down to her toes. When they parted, he said, "Are you still scared?"
"You give me hope," she replied.
A fast-paced song started and Giles held her close and began to move to the music. His touch was soft and gentle. Buffy loved the feel of his body close to hers and drew comfort from it. She wrapped her arms around his waist and held onto him.
Through out the rest of the evening, people approached Giles and congratulated him on singing and told Buffy that she was very special to have him. After about the seventh or eighth person, Giles whispered in her ear, "I'm sure a lot of people saw us kiss and dance and we haven't got any weird looks or comments."
"But this isn't Sunnydale," she said. "No one knows us here. How are we going to deal with it at home?"
"The same way we deal with everything else, when we get to it. Are you ready to go?"
She nodded, suddenly feeling very tired. Giles paid the bill and they left. As they went up to their rooms, Giles put his arm around her shoulders and held her close. When they got to their rooms, Giles pulled Buffy into another embrace and kissed her tenderly.
"Good night, sweet angel," he whispered.
"Good night, love," she replied, and slipped into her room.
The rest of the vacation went by quickly. Buffy and Giles spent a lot of time together and became inseparable. On the last night of the trip, Buffy flopped down on her bed, exhausted, and sighed contentedly.
Willow also flopped onto her bed. The she turned to Buffy and propped her head up. "What was that note all about, Buffy?" she asked.
"What note?" Buffy replied.
"The one you got earlier this week with the rose."
"Oh. Giles and I had dinner and danced. He sang a song for me." A smile crossed her lips.
"He sang a song for you? What was it like? How is he dancing? Did he kiss you? What's it like?"
"Calm down, Wil. Yes, he sang for me, and it was really sweet. He's a great dancer. Yes, he kissed me, and. I don't know how to describe it."
"Better than Angel?"
Willow squealed in delight. Buffy's mind started clicking. Willow had started them dancing. Giles had worn the same outfit both times. True, it was the only dressy one he had besides, the tweed, but still. And now Willow was asking all these questions. Something was up.
"Wil?" she asked, when her friend had calmed down. "Do you know anything about Giles asking me to dinner?"
"Well, not exactly," Willow replied.
"What do you mean, not exactly?"
"Well, remember when I had us all go dancing and Giles wore that spectacular outfit? I had wanted the two of you to see the love that was between you. It seemed like everyone but you two saw it. Then I thought it might help you two to get away from everything for a while, so I organized this trip. I'm sorry."
"So you played matchmaker. Did it ever cross your mind not working?"
"Not really. I just knew it would."
"Was Xander involved?"
"Only in getting the hotel. Anything else, I don't know about it."
Willow was expecting an outburst of anger from her best friend, but Buffy threw her arms around her and hugged her. "Thank you," Buffy whispered through happy tears.
The next morning a knock came on the girls' door early. Buffy opened it, rubbing her eyes. Giles stood outside. She quickly got dressed and slipped out, not disturbing Willow. They walked down to the beach and sat on the sand to watch the sunrise. Giles put his arm around her and she snuggled close. After the sun had risen, he handed her a little black box. She opened it. Inside was a claddagh ring. She gasped.
"I hope I'm not out of line in getting you this," he said.
"No, it's perfect. I just wasn't expecting it." She took it out of the box and slipped it onto her finger. It was a perfect fit. She kissed him gently. Then they sat quietly and watched the waves. A while later the foursome loaded their stuff in Giles' car and headed home. Buffy and Giles held hands on the way, giving and getting strength for what was to come.