Mind Games
By Cassandra

AUTHOR: Cassandra
EMAIL: zinelady@aol.com
RATING: NC-17
DISTRIBUTION: BG Shippers. Others please ask first.
SPOILERS: Becomings
FEEDBACK: Very welcome
SUMMARY: My idea of what happened after Becomings.
DISCLAIMER: The characters are the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, Sandollar Productions, Kuzui Enterprises, 20th Century Fox Television, the WB Television Network, et al. I'm just playing with them.

NOTE: Mind Games was first published in Passion, an Adult Buffy the Vampire Slayer zine. Email ZineLady@aol.com for info.


It was 11:30pm but Giles was still far from ready to go home. The library was empty and quiet. Xander, Willow, Cordelia and Oz had finally left him alone at his insistence. They had finished finals earlier that day, and decided to celebrate at the Bronze. Although Giles had several large stacks of books to check in and shelve from the end of the semester, he still searched through volume after volume of ancient texts, hoping to find some hint of what was to come, a clue to where Buffy may have gone.

Taking the glasses off his nose, he absent-mindedly polished them, his thoughts with his missing Slayer. The metal of the splint on his finger clicked annoyingly against the metal frame of his glasses. The reminder of the injury to his hand caused all the aches he had kept at bay by intense concentration of study to come rolling back. Putting the glasses down, he reached with a shaking hand for the bottle of painkillers that the emergency room doctor had prescribed, then stopped. If he took the recommended dose, he'd be asleep in less than thirty minutes. Instead he opened his desk drawer and withdrew a packet of headache powders that he kept on hand to combat the migraines brought on by Buffy's infernal aerobicizing music. At least they did not make him sleepy. Dumping them into a glass of water, he stirred, then swallowed the bitter mixture quickly.

Despite the pain of broken fingers and bruised flesh, Giles knew that he would recover from the physical torture much quicker than the mental torment that Drusilla had put him through. When his fogged mind had at last cleared and he understood that he had been kissing the deranged vampire instead of Jenny, it was all he could do to keep from retching. When he finally realized that he had been the one to tell Angelus how to open the vortex to hell, he had collapsed in a heap, both at once praying that Buffy could stop him and castigating himself for being so weak.

Since then, Giles' sleep had been plagued with reoccurring dreams. He was tied to the chair. His hand hurt, his whole body hurt. Angel was standing over him laughing, holding a chain saw. Buffy came in with a baseball bat and started fighting with Angel. Jenny appeared and sat on Giles' lap. She kissed him passionately, running her hands up and down his body. He tried to talk, tried to tell her to let him loose so he could help Buffy, but he couldn't speak. Jenny kept kissing him. Angel cut up the baseball bat with his chain saw, laughing maniacally. Buffy looked at Giles, begging him for help. Giles struggled, trying to get free. Jenny kept kissing him. Angel grabbed Buffy, kissed her, and then bit her neck, dropping the lifeless body on the ground. Giles, furious, struggled more against the bonds. He looked up at Jenny to demand that she let him loose, but it was Drusilla sitting there. His fury drained away and a feeling of hopelessness filled him. Buffy stood up, her face a vampire's mask. She walked over to him and asked, "Why didn't you help me, Giles? You're my Watcher; that's your job." Her voice was monotone. "Instead you make love to that gypsy bitch. Well, now you can help me...with something I need." She grabbed him with inhuman strength. Bending him over her arm, she kissed him seductively, then savagely bit into his neck. He would awake drenched in perspiration and trembling with terror and illicit aching.

After saving the world and her Watcher once again, Buffy had disappeared. No one had seen her since Xander had helped Giles escape from Angelus' clutches. And no one had seen Angel either. Willow thought the spell had worked, so Giles could only hope that wherever Buffy was, Angel -- his soul redeemed -- was with her. Unfortunately, the longer Buffy was missing, the more remote that possibility seemed. Giles could only imagine what agony Buffy was going through if she had been forced to kill the man she loved.

When Willow had called at the Summers' house looking for Buffy, her mother had tearfully told her that Buffy had not returned home, except to pick up some clothes. They had all took a breath of relief at that news; at least they knew she was alive. The police had cleared Buffy of the charge of murdering Kendra upon hearing the testimony of Giles and the teenagers present during the attack.

Giles had thought about going over to offer what comfort he could for the anguished mother, but his courage was not yet sufficient to the task. He could face down demons, battle with a crazed Angelus, but the thought of actually admitting to Joyce Summers that he had been responsible for sending her daughter into danger time after time, fighting against vampires and all manner of fiends sent him scurrying. According to Willow, Joyce now knew of the existence of vampires and that Buffy was a Slayer or at least thought she was a Slayer.

He knew that he should go and talk to her, to try to explain the sacred duty of a Slayer and a Watcher, to explain the history of vampires, to tell her that Buffy really was not crazy, that she did not need to be placed into therapy, but he couldn't do it alone. Perhaps if Buffy came back...when she came back, Giles corrected himself, they could both sit down with Mrs. Summers and have an extensive talk; a talk that was long past due.

There were times when she still reacted as an adolescent, but the responsibility she carried as a Slayer had matured her quickly. Perhaps the liaison with Angel had been destined to happen. Teen hormones, he had discovered, were always near the surface, and a girl as attractive as Buffy would have been difficult for even a 241-year-old vampire with a soul to resist when she put her mind to attracting him. Not that it was all Buffy's fault. He supposed Angel was attractive in a sort of physical way. Add in the fact that he was an angst-ridden vampire with a soul and Angel became a type of forbidden fruit that a girl like Buffy would be tempted to pick. Or perhaps, she just liked older men.

Giles shook his head quickly as if to banish the idea, but only succeeded in causing his slowly receding headache to re-establish itself. He rubbed his eyes, then reached for his glasses. Before he could touch them, a slender hand picked them up, swinging them slowly in the air by the earpiece.

"Why if it isn't the delicious little Watcher," the dreaded voice of his nightmares purred near his ear. Giles looked up and saw Drusilla dressed in a slinky long white dress standing over him. He jumped up out of his chair and took several steps back. Spike was nowhere to be seen.

"What are you doing here?" he demanded, looking around desperately for a weapon, any weapon.

"I've come to see you, luv. Didn't you miss your Dru?" she smiled. "We were having such a wonderful time until Spike ruined it." Her eyes shone with an intensity that bordered on insanity. "Well, he won't be ruining it this time." She nodded to herself. "Mummy took care of that. Spike shouldn't have hurt my Angel." As she came forward, Giles tried to retreat, but came up against the wall of his office.

"There's nothing to be afraid of, dearie," Drusilla said as she touched the side of his face, before running her fingers through his hair and firmly gripping his head. There was an indrawn breath from the woman. "Mummy sees." He felt terror, absolute and deep, grip his soul and paralyze his body. Closing his eyes, he shook his head, as his useless legs gave away and he slipped down the wall. He couldn't, he just couldn't go through that again. He would almost rather have her kill him than make him believe that she was Jenny. "Shhh, it's all right," she whispered. "I won't hurt you."

He looked up at her and realized that he had made a mistake in doing so, when he felt himself drowning in her mesmerizing eyes, her white tipped fingers circling in front of his face. "Lose yourself in my eyes. See with your heart." He tried to resist her, but she was too strong. Focusing unwillingly on the dancing fingers, his head spun and it was a blessing to close his eyes when the hand came over his face.

When he opened his eyes, there was Buffy kneeling in front of him, looking at him with a friendly smile on her face. He felt joy infuse his being. Buffy was here and from the looks of her, she was okay.

"Hello, Giles." Her voice sounded the same, she looked the same. There was no evidence of pain or misery evident in her tone or her face.

"Buffy, you're back. Are you all right?" Concern made his voice husky.

"I'm fine, Giles, although you seem like you've seen better days." She touched the metal splint on his fingers lightly. "Angel?" she asked, an apology in her eyes.

"He wanted to know how to bring forth Acathla," Giles cocked his head to the side. "I didn't want to cooperate."

"I'm sorry he hurt you." She brought his hand to her mouth and kissed it tenderly.

"Umm, Buffy," Giles said, as a sense of unease started to fill him. "You needn't do that."

"Why not?" she asked, with a provocative smile on her lips. "I was just kissing it better. My mom used to do that all the time when I was little." She shrugged her shoulders carelessly.

"But, but, I'm your...W-Watcher," he stuttered nervously, trying to retrieve his hand. "It's not appropriate."

She let go, but then touched the fading scar on his forehead. "He hurt you here, too," she pouted, then reached up and kissed him there before he could move back.

"B-Buffy, you must stop," he said, trying to interject sternness in his voice and failing.

"How are you going to stop me?" the girl asked, with a self assured smile on her face, before placing a kiss on his cheek, next to his mouth. "Appeal to my common sense? I'm seventeen years old, Giles. Teenage girls don't have common sense. We live for the moment, remember?"

He tried to get up, but his legs wouldn't support him. His arms felt as if lead weights were holding them down. "Buffy, I'm begging you, please stop."

"But Giles," she reasoned, as she loosened the tie around his neck and unbuttoned the first two buttons on his shirt. He had given up his jacket several hours earlier while reading. "Why stop? I may be dead tomorrow. I may face a vampire that is just a little quicker, just a little stronger, and poof, I'm dead. No more life. Why not experience what pleasure I can today?"

"But it's not right," he insisted, desperately trying to resist the butterfly light kisses and nips along his neck. He was ashamed to feel his body reacting to the stimulation and mortified that he had no more control over his hormones than a seventeen year old boy.

"Is it right for you to send me out to slay vampires?" she asked, she slipped a hand inside his shirt to run her finger through his chest hairs before finding a sensitive nipple. "No, it's not, but you do it anyway, because I'm the Chosen. I give up my youth to fight vampires. All I'm asking you to do is to give a little to me." She lightly scratched the nipple with a fingernail until it was erect. The sensation went directly to his groin, causing him to become even harder.

"But Buffy, I'm over twice your age," Giles protested, trying to squirm away from the determined fingers. "Surely, you would be interested in someone younger."

"Angel was 14 times my age," she shrugged, smiling as she watched the Watcher.

Why was it that women liked to see him squirm? Giles sighed. "I have done the math, Buffy, but that is beside the p-point. He didn't act that-that way, nor d-did he look that much older than you." Giles sighed in relief when Buffy stopped caressing his nipple, but tensed when she started unfastening the rest of his shirt buttons.

"Maybe, I like older men. Maybe Angel gave me a taste for sophistication that I can't get from teenage boys. Maybe I want someone who knows something about making love." She looked inquiringly at Giles, as she unbuttoned his last button. "You do know something about making love, don't you?"

Giles felt himself blush at the question. "W-what I do or do-do not know is also b-besides the point," he stammered, desperately trying to come up with a way to extradite himself from the awkward situation without using force. Although with Buffy being the Slayer, he wasn't sure whether or not physical force would do much good. Best to try authority. "You are a student," he tried to make his voice firm. "I am faculty. That alone forbids any fraternization between us."

"But I'm no longer a student," Buffy rationalized, as she pulled the shirt off his shoulders. "I was expelled."

"I know that, but I believe that we can appeal to the school board, and get you reinstated next semester," he said, hoping to distract her. "Snyder was out of line when he expelled you. You may only have to take your final tests...."

"I don't care about school right now," she said before removing her hand and pulling her top off over her head, leaving a spaghetti strap T-shirt and a brief pair of shorts, her only covering. Her rounded breasts were barely confined within the skimpy material.

Giles closed his eyes against the tempting sight in front of him. Perhaps, if he kept them closed, when he opened them, Buffy would be gone or at least her normal covered self.

When he felt warm hands undoing the belt around his waist, he snapped open his eyes and saw that Buffy had removed her own shorts and now was working on his slacks. He tried to bring up his arms to stop her, but his body would not obey his mental commands. What was wrong with him? It was if he were under some sort of spell. When had Buffy started to dabble in witchcraft?

"Relax, Giles, you're as tense as a tightly wound spring," Buffy purred as she unsnapped the waistband fastener and slowly inched the zipper down over his erection. "Whoa, what do you have here? You've been holding out on me, Giles. You're even better built than Angel..

Feeling more blood rush to his face along with other pertinent areas, Giles closed his eyes in mortification. Why was Buffy torturing him this way? A vague thought took hold in his brain but was banished as Giles felt Buffy extract his organ with delicate fingers before running her tongue up and down it's length, bathing it gently. The sensation was incredible. She playfully licked and nipped her way up to his testicles causing a guttural groan to come from deep within him. This could not be happening. Maybe it was all a dream, a fantasy that his depraved mind had conjured up. Giles brought up his hands and grabbed Buffy's head to push her away, but his fingers with a mind of their own, intertwined in her hair, holding her to him. She was doing things to him that he was surprised that a 17-year-old girl knew how to do. He wondered for a moment why now he was able to move his hands, but that thought flew out of his mind as Buffy swirled her tongue around the end of his penis, then sucked it all the way into her mouth, almost to the root. By all the gods, he was close! He hadn't been this sensitive since his Ripper days.

Buffy must have sensed it because she gave his organ one last caress before kissing her way up his body to his mouth. All the make out sessions with Angel must have taught her how to kiss, because these kisses weren't hesitant or shy. These were soul-devouring kisses that reached a chord deep within him. The thought that Jenny's kisses had not affected him this way, caused him to feel a sense of remorse.

The guilt made him think of protesting but his body let him know that it had gone way pass the stage of protesting. Extraditing his lips from hers, he took a needed breath, and moved his hands down to cradle her face gently in his hands. Looking into her eyes, he said, "Are you sure?" He would give her one last chance to stop even if it killed him.

"Giles," she teased. "You're beginning to sound like a scratched record. We really do have to work on your self-esteem. I want you. Is that so very difficult to believe?"

"Actually," he smiled wryly. "Yes it is."

"Giles?" The word was a question.

"Yes?" he inquired.

"Shut up." She kissed the opened mouth and pushed Giles over to lie on the floor. She straddled his waist and leaned over and continued kissing him. Now that he had accepted his fate, his body was under his control again. What kind of witchcraft was this? The thought was fleeting. His hand came up and slipped beneath the skimpy T-shirt to cup the full breasts. He gently massaged them, then pinched the nipples, rolling them into firm nubs.

Buffy stopped kissing him long enough to grab the T-shirt and rip it off and as though she couldn't stand a obstruction between them.

"Oh, god, yes," she panted. "Don't stop."

Giles leaned up and replaced his fingers with his mouth and laved her right nipple thoroughly then suckled briefly before gently flicking it with his tongue. Buffy moaned deep in her throat and weaved her fingers in his hair, holding him in place. She finally did allow him to move to the other breast to give it equal attention. His hand moved down to cup her buttocks, finding the satin barrier and massaged the rounded globes through it.

He leaned back to look at her, his elbows supporting his weight. She had her head arched back with her eyes closed and her golden hair haloed around her shoulders.

"You're beautiful," Giles whispered reverently.

She opened her eyes and looked back at him with passion swimming in the hazel depths. "Oh, god, Giles, now." She lifted up, grabbing hold of the panties, and ripped them off. "I want you now."

Giles gasped as Buffy lowered herself onto his organ, taking him inside her inch by inch, finally coming to a rest when her body swallowed his whole length. She started to move, but he grabbed at her hips to still her. "Buffy, if you want this to last more than ten seconds, I beg you to resist moving for a few moments," Giles pleaded between clenched teeth.

Buffy froze on top of him, a look of guileless surprise on her face. She is so precious. Giles forced down the sensations that were threatening to take him over the edge. Get another focus, old boy. Books, dusty books. Row after row of dusty books. Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, Shakespeare's sonnets, Hardy's Mayor of Casterbrige. Giles took a deep breath. It worked. He felt almost in control enough to urge her to move again. "All right, Buffy. I think it's safe."

Safe? He almost laughed at the irony. Nothing about this situation was safe. A high school librarian was having unprotected sex with a minor student. What if she got pregnant? What if Snyder found out? What if the Watcher Council found out? Panic started to set in and he went to push her off, but she lifted herself almost off of him, then slid back down and he was lost in the sensations of making love again after so long. His head fell back and his hands came up to grasp her hips. She moved herself up and down in long strokes and Giles started thrusting in time with her. The feelings were so amazing that the only thing he could do was go with them.

Buffy bucked up, her internal muscles squeezing his organ in time with the thrusts. He recognized that she was close to the edge herself. She just needed some extra sensation to push her over. He moved his uninjured hand to the junction of their joining, searched for and found the little nub hidden in the folds. Gently rubbing it, Giles was rewarded when Buffy squeezed even tighter and moaned in pleasure.

She leaned over and kissed him, and he continued his stimulation. "So close," she

whispered huskily. "There's only one more thing I need."

"What?" Giles gasped, so near to the peak himself as he gazed into her eyes.

"This!" she hissed before changing her visage into that of Drusilla in vamp mode. She bit into his neck before he could thrust her off, horror intertwining with the passion in his being. The pain of the bite threw him over the edge and he climaxed, pulsing his life seed into her body the same time she stole his lifeblood.

Suddenly, the pulling sensation at his neck stopped as she tensed above him. He saw a stake through the middle of Drusilla's chest before it and her body disintegrated into dust. Giles shuddered in revulsion and brought a hand up to his bleeding neck. He looked up and saw Buffy dressed in traveled worn jeans and a baggy flannel shirt standing over him, her face a mask of shock.

"Buffy!" he breathed, before his world became black.

***

Consciousness returned slowly. Giles opened his eyes to discover that he was lying in a hospital bed, his clothes exchanged for hospital pajamas, and an IV connected to his left hand above his splinted fingers. Moving his arms and legs, he discovered that he was not in too much pain. Well, not any more than he had been before. Before.... What was it? Why couldn't he remember why he was in the hospital?

"Good, you're awake," a familiar voice startled him. He looked over to see Buffy sitting in a chair. Buffy!

It all came rolling back in a flood. Oh, gods, it wasn't some nightmare! He had actually had sex with Buffy. He shook his head, trying to clear it of the remaining cobwebs. He touched the bandage on his neck. No, it wasn't Buffy, it was Drusilla. But Buffy had been there. She had killed Drusilla and saved him. And saw him having sex with a vampire. He sat up on the side of the bed and groaned, holding his head in his hands. His headache was back and he felt strangely lightheaded. After a moment, it passed. He quickly looked around the room to check for other visitors. They were alone.

"How do you feel?" Buffy asked, worry evident in her voice.

"A little under the weather," he said, almost wanting to laugh at the understatement, but really all he wanted to do was hide. He wanted Buffy to leave him alone, but he supposed he at least owed her thanks if not an explanation. "But I'll survive, thanks to you."

"Good," she took a deep breath. "Now I won't feel so bad yelling at you. Just what the hell do you think you were doing? Making love to a vampire? And Drusilla at that? Didn't my little foray into that realm teach you anything?"

Giles winced and remained silent. There really wasn't any defense he could use. How could he tell her that he thought he was making love to her? That was even more unthinkable.

"Xander said that when Drusilla and Angel had you prisoner, that she hypnotized you into thinking she was Miss Calendar. Is that what she did? Please tell me that you didn't willingly have sex with a vampire," she said in a tone that only a scandalized teenager could produce.

"Something like that," Giles, said, willing to grasp at the straw that Buffy was offering. "Let's just say that I had no idea that I was having sex with a vampire." The words were wryly bitter. He tensed as a horrible thought occurred to him. "When did you see Xander?"

"After I called the ambulance and they brought you in, I called Xander and Willow. They'll be here later. I asked them to wait an hour or two." His face must have mirrored his worry for she quickly reassured him. "I didn't tell them how I found you. Just that Drusilla had attacked you and I staked her. And I made sure you were presentable for the EMTs," she added, a faint blush staining her cheeks.

Giles was sure he was blushing bright red. "Buffy, I'm so sorry I put you through this."

"Forget it Giles," she said and shivered, standing up to pace the room. "I'm going to...as soon as possible. If I were Cordelia, I'd be saying something like, 'I'm going to be in therapy till I'm thirty.'" Her impersonation almost made Giles smile. "I'm just glad you're alive," she said, bowing her head. "Enough people have died because of me. I should have never left until I was sure all the loose ends were tied up." Her voice was full of self-reproach.

"You can't blame yourself for this," Giles insisted. "It wasn't your fault Drusilla came after me. I was the one that choose to be alone in the library after dark. I should have known better."

"You'd be amazed what I could blame myself for," Buffy said bitterly, her eyes bright with unshed tears. "If only I hadn't fallen in love with a vampire. If only I hadn't made love with him. If only I had killed him before he killed Miss Calendar, frightened all my friends and tortured you."

"Buffy," Giles said, his heart torn for her. "Stop this! It's not your fault! Sometimes bad things happen, things that you couldn't have known would happen. You don't know how many times I've blamed myself for Phillip and Deirdre's deaths. If only I hadn't been such an idiot when I was younger. If only I had never met Ethan. If only I hadn't involved Jenny, then Angel wouldn't have killed her. You can't live your live with 'If onlys.' It will drive you crazy or drive you to drink or worse. I know. Did you think my so-called lost weekend was my first? I've lost track of the number of times that I tried to drown the guilt and pain in a bottle...and it works...for a while. It works until I reach the bottom of the bottle and all that's left are the dregs and my self-respect in tatters. Don't blame yourself for not being able to kill a man you loved."

Buffy's face crumpled, her bottom lip quivering, tears falling down her cheeks. "I did it," she sobbed, collapsing on the bed next to Giles. He hesitated for a moment, afraid of the intimacy, then gathered her in his arms, awkwardly patting her back as she cried. Her slight figure trembled in his arms and he was sure that she had lost weight that she could ill afford to lose. He could almost feel the bones through the frayed clothes she wore. Her sobs were heart wrenching, causing an ache in Giles' chest that had nothing to do with his injuries. After long minutes, she began to recover. She hiccuped and sniffed, rubbing at her eyes with her sleeve. He grabbed a tissue from the box on his bedside stand and wiped her tears as he would a child's.

"Would you care to talk about it?" he asked, gently.

She looked at him, her eyes red and still glistening with tears, before looking down and nodding. He remained quiet, allowing her the time to gather her thoughts. "You probably know most of it. I was too late. Angel pulled out the sword of Acathla. I was ready to kill him. I really was." She glanced up at Giles as if to make sure he believed her. He nodded back, encouraging her to go on.

"I figured it would be a mercy killing." She sniffed, wiping her nose with the Kleenex Giles gave her. "The Angel I knew would have never wanted to exist while doing the things Angelus did. I was all ready to cut his head off with Kendra's sword when his eyes got all glowy and suddenly Angel was back! He was confused, he couldn't remember being evil the past few months, but he did remember loving me. It was so wonderful, Giles," she smiled sadly up at him. "To see him looking at me with love, instead of hate. Then I saw that Acathla was opening up behind him and realized what I had to do. I killed him." She was crying again. "I had to save the world, Giles," she sobbed. "I had to kill Angel."

Giles held her while she cried the last tears of her childhood and hoped that the healing had begun for both of them. But for some reason, he did not think it would be that easy.

***

As soon as the doctor had released him from the hospital, Giles insisted on accompanying a anxious Buffy to talk with Mrs. Summers. The mother and daughter had things that needed to ironed out, but his in-born chivalry would not allow Buffy to face her alone. He tried not to show that he was terrified himself, but Buffy grabbed and squeezed his shaking hand as they got out of his car and smiled. "She's really not that bad. She won't eat you."

Giles realized that his returning smile was weak. "Umm, yes. I k-know you're right. She's not a monster...she's just your mother." He retrieved his hand and straightened to his full height. "That's what frightens me."

"Relax, Giles, you're worse than a boy on his first date getting ready to meet my parents," she teased, as she went up the stairs and waited for Giles to join her.

He stiffened at the jibe. "Buffy," he said in his most affronted manner. "I don't find that amusing."

"Chill Giles, it was a joke," Buffy said. "Put it down to my nerves. I kid when I get nervous." She knocked on the door.

Joyce Summers answered the door, took one look at Buffy and grabbed her into her arms and hugged her with all her strength. "Buffy, are you all right?" Joyce said, leaning back just enough to see her daughter. "I've been so worried."

"I'm all right, Mom," Buffy replied, hugging back. "I've missed you."

"Where were you?" she asked, before noticing Giles standing behind her daughter on the steps. "Oh, Mr. Giles, please excuse me. Won't you come in? I heard you were in the hospital, Willow called. You probably would feel better sitting down."

He nodded his thanks, suddenly realizing where Buffy inherited her tendency to babble, when she was nervous. Joyce led the way into the living room and offered him a comfortable chair before sitting next to Buffy on the couch. She turned back to her daughter. "Where did you go?" she asked again.

Buffy looked down at her unpolished nails. "To LA. I had some thinking to do, some decisions to make about my life. I couldn't make them here. Things were too crazy."

"And I didn't make matters any easier, did I? Making an ultimatum like that," her mother said, putting a hand on her shoulder. "I'm sorry, Buffy. I really didn't mean it, I was so scared. You do know that you can come back no matter what you do, don't you? I think I was in shock, it isn't every day that you find out your daughter kills vampires."

"I'm sorry I couldn't tell you sooner," Buffy said, looking at her mother. "I didn't want to hurt you. I thought if you didn't know, then you would be safe. I was stupid." She looked at Giles, her expression full of sadness. "No one associated with me was safe."

"All those nights when you said you were going out to the Bronze or over to Willow's, you were really out alone fighting vampires?"

"Well, not exactly," Buffy said.

"She wasn't always alone," Giles said, deciding it was time to join the conversation and confess his culpability. "Sometimes, Willow and Xander would join her, but mostly, I helped her."

"You?" Joyce asked, confused. "You knew about this? And you didn't tell me?" Her voice rose, as anger mixed with the confusion. "But you're a librarian, a school official. You're supposed to keep kids out of trouble, not help them get into it!"

"Mom," Buffy said, jumping in to defend Giles. "If it wasn't for Giles, I'd be dead; he's saved my life more than once. I couldn't do this without him. He's my Watcher."

"Watcher? What is a Watcher?"

"A Watcher is a person who trains the Slayer to fight vampires and dispenses advice and assistance," Giles said. "The Watcher Council sent me to Sunnydale a few months before you arrived to wait for Buffy to arrive. I took the place of her Watcher in LA."

"LA!" Joyce exclaimed. "You had a Watcher in LA? You were already slaying vampires?" She shook her head. "Of course. Now it all makes sense; the fights, the expulsion, the gym burning down. All of it had to do with vampires. Buffy, why didn't you tell me?" she asked, looking at her daughter.

"Would you have understood?" Buffy asked. "Would you have let me go out night after night to fight vampires and all other sorts of demons? I am the Slayer, Mom. I couldn't take the chance that you would have stopped me. People were depending on me to save them. Giles, do your explaining thing. I know how much you get a kick out of it."

Giles shot her a censuring look, then turned to Joyce. "Into each generation a Slayer is born, one girl in all the world, a chosen one, one born with the strength and skill to hunt the vampires, to stop the spread of their evil. Buffy is that Slayer for her generation."

"And you're her Watcher?" Giles could tell that Mrs. Summers was making an effort to comprehend such a difficult concept.

"Yes," he agreed. "There have been Watchers and Slayers for countless generations, passed down over the years. Each Slayer is known by her skill and a birthmark."

Joyce nodded understandingly. "The mole you had removed in LA, Buffy."

"I know how difficult all this must be to accept," Giles said. "The first time my father sat me down and explain it to me, I was flummoxed. Both he and my grandmother were Watchers."

"It may take me awhile, but I've finally accepted the existence of vampires. That's what that girl, Darla was, right?" She looked at Buffy for confirmation. "I didn't fall on a barbecue fork, did I? I was bitten."

Buffy nodded. "You were one of the few lucky ones that have been bitten and survived. Usually they take your blood so fast, you're dead."

Joyce looked at the bandage on Giles neck. "That's what happened to you, too, isn't it?"

Giles hoped he was not blushing at the memory. He nodded. "I would have been dead, but Buffy saved me before the vampire completely drained me."

"It took me a few days before I felt my old self," she said. "It's hard to believe that Darla was a vampire. She seemed such a sweet girl."

"Vampire's are like that," Buffy said. "When they are in feeding mode, you can't tell them apart from regular people. They can be very attractive."

Joyce got a look of horror on her face. "Angel was a vampire, wasn't he? I can't believe I was so stupid not to realize it before."

Buffy nodded, sadly. "Yes, he was. But you don't need to worry about him anymore."

"I don't? You made love to a vampire?" her voice rose. "And you say I don't have to worry about him?"

Giles was concerned that mother and daughter would get into another argument that would lead to Buffy leaving again, but Buffy's quiet words stopped her mother's outburst.

"No, Angel's dead." Buffy took a deep shuddering breath. "I had to kill him. It's a long story and one that I promise I'll tell you another time. I just can't handle it right now." The last words were sobbed.

Giles let out the breath he didn't realize he was holding when Joyce immediately went from scandalized to protective and took her daughter in her arms.

"That's alright, Buffy," she comforted her crying daughter. "You can tell me later."

Thinking it was time he left Buffy to her mother's care, Giles quietly stood and Joyce looked up at him. Thank you, she mouthed. He nodded and left.

***

Upon arriving home, Giles turned on the burner under the teakettle, put in a microwave dinner and set the timer. He didn't feel up to cooking and was more than willing to take advantage of modern conveniences. He pulled out the prescription bottles the doctor had insisted that he needed. One of them read 'Ferrous Sulfate: take one three times a day one hour before meals'. He shrugged and popped one of the dark red iron pills in his mouth and chased it down with a glass of water. Another doctor's order, drink at least eight glasses of water a day. Not tea, not coffee, but water. He grimaced at the taste and read the other bottle. 'Take one or two tablets every 4 hours as needed for pain. Do not drive or operate heavy equipment while taking this medicine.' He wasn't planning on going anywhere except to bed, so he took two tablets. He really did hurt. He finished the glass of water and placed it in the sink.

He pulled out the dinner and vented the top to let it cool, got out silverware and poured a cup of tea. He inhaled the familiar aroma of the tea and relaxed. It was funny how a beverage that contained almost as much caffeine as coffee could make him relax, but everything always seemed better after a cup of tea. He took a cautious sip, walked over to the table and sat down to his dinner.

Like most microwavable meals, it tasted like cardboard, but he dutifully finished it, and threw away the container. That was another advantage to modern dinners. Minimal washing up to do afterwards. He placed the silverware next to the water glass and poured himself another cup of tea. He carried it into his bedroom and placed it on a coaster on the bed stand while he unbuttoned and removed his shirt.

Deciding to forego a shower at this point, he washed his face and neck in the sink, being careful not to get the bandage wet. After drying his face on a hand towel, he took in his reflection in the mirror. Definitely a middle aged body, thickening a little at the waist. He really did need to work out a bit more, some sit ups, a few weights. Sparring with Buffy definitely counted for aerobic exercise, but he could use some toning. The majority of the bruises left on his body were fading, a greenish yellow in color. The cut on his forehead was almost healed. The muscle aches were also fading, the worst being his fingers when he forgot and tried to do too much with them. He looked down at the tattoo of Eyghon and wondered why he never had it removed. Had it been his reminder of how foolish he had been? A warning of sorts or a punishment?

He brushed his teeth, finished dressing in his nightclothes and got into bed. The first few nights after he had found Jenny dead in his bed, he could not bring himself to sleep in his bedroom. He had tried to lay on his lumpy couch, but sleep eluded him. One night, he even stayed in his office at the school, but finally, he forced himself to face his bedroom and it's memories. He couldn't let Angel win. He had been swift to give Buffy advice about not letting Angel's games affect her, and decided he had to take his own counsel. It hadn't been easy, but he had, after a fashion and with some help from a doctor, succeeded.

After a half-hour, Giles knew it was going to be one of those nights. His mind refused to let him rest, replaying scene after scene. Jenny lying dead in his bed, Buffy dragging him out of the burning warehouse, hitting him and then both of them crying in each other's arms, being tortured, helpless in his bonds, feeling each finger break, Drusilla morphing into Jenny, giving him hope, then the hope crashing as he realizes it's all a hoax, Buffy back and kissing him, making love to him. Giles violently shook his head. This has to stop! He turned on the bedside lamp and picked up the bottle of sleeping pills the doctor had prescribed after Jenny had been killed. Surely one wouldn't hurt. If he could just get some sleep.... He washed one down with tepid tea.

He picked up a book, not even bothering to read the title and opened it up. He planned on reading until he became so sleepy he couldn't keep his eyes open. Maybe then, he could sleep. By the time he got to the second chapter, his eyelids felt heavy. Finally, he thought with satisfaction, as he turned off the lamp and settled down to sleep...and to dream.

He was in his office, reading. Buffy came in blowing bubbles, followed by Willow, Xander and Cordelia. "What's up today?" Buffy asked, smacking her gum. Giles replied, "The world is going to end unless you can stop it." Buffy shrugged and blew another bubble. "What else is new?" He shrugged back. "Mr. Snyder is a transvestite." Willow giggled, sucking on a purple sucker. "She asked what's new, Giles. We've known that since school started." Xander and Cordelia were making out on the couch. Jenny walked in and sat down in front of the computer and started typing. "Hello, Jenny, aren't you dead?" Giles asked her. She looked up at him, her head lolling to the side. "Oh, yes, but I have some stuff to do on the computer." Willow went over to help her. That left Buffy with Giles alone. She grinned up at him, playing with a wooden stake in her hand. "Hey, Giles. You want to go slay some vampires?" Giles thought about it for a moment. "No, not really." Buffy nonchalantly threw the stake over her shoulder. "Okay, let's make out." She grabbed Giles and began kissing him. The shock sent him reeling back against the desk. Her lips were soft and warm on his. He tried to get loose, but her grip was too strong. Xander paused long enough in his own lip lock to say, "Way to go, G-Man. Bagged the Slayer." Willow looked up and smiled. Jenny looked at him with sad eyes. "I haven't been dead for two months. Buffy always did come before me." Buffy's hands roamed his body, undoing buttons. He tried to protest, but couldn't. Her lips left his and made their way to his neck. His own hands started undoing buttons. Clothes disappeared from both of them. Giles took hold of her face and kissed her until she moaned. He was kissing his way downward, when he heard the class bell ringing and the door opening. "Mr. Giles! Ms. Summers! I'm shocked at this display! You are both expelled!" Snyder, wearing a black teddy and sling back heels was standing in the doorway. Buffy shrugged. "I'll just leave again." She began to fade away. "Noooo," Giles cried, reaching out for her hand. The bell continued to ring...ring...ring.

Giles started awake, his heart racing and a feeling of impending doom weighting down his soul. At first he didn't know where he was, but as reality came back, he perceived his surroundings and his rumpled state. God, that was the last time he mixed medications! He silenced the alarm clock, easing the pounding in his head. Groaning, he swung his legs over the side of the bed, his body protesting the movement. When would these nightmares cease? Obviously, he had 'issues' that he needed to face. Perhaps, if he wrote them down...not in the Watcher's diaries, but in his own personal journal. But first, he needed a pot of tea and a shower...a cold shower.

***

Giles re-read the book he was trying to study for the third time and still got nothing out of it. His powers of concentration were shot, as the Americans were fond of saying. He had tried earlier to write in his journal, but couldn't get pass the first sentence. How could he admit his feelings when he wasn't sure just what his feelings were? What would the Watcher Council think if they knew the contents of his nightmares of late? He briefly wondered with a sardonic laugh if any Watchers in history had to be admitted to a psychiatric hospital for a nervous breakdown. Perhaps, he should step down from being Buffy's Watcher, let someone else more qualified, more stable, to take his place. That thought caused the torturous knot in his chest to tighten. The idea of another person, another man, taking his place in guiding Buffy through the perilous fight against the forces of evil made him shudder.

He was anxiously waiting for Buffy to show up for their first training session since her return. She was late, as usual. For the past week, he had been occupied with recovering from his injuries and finishing the end of semester librarian duties. The Slayerettes had helped some, but Willow's family had taken her on vacation and Xander and Cordelia spent most of their time either sniping or making moon eyes at each other.

Giles was sure that Snyder had refused to give him any help in the library because the principal hadn't got his way in reference to Buffy's expulsion. When Giles and Mrs. Summers had complained, the school board had rescinded Snyder's edict. Unfortunately, Buffy could not take her missed finals to obtain enough credits to be a senior in the fall, so she had been busy getting settled back in home and registering for the dreaded summer school session.

Snyder had not said anything in front of Mrs. Summers but had come to the library today and confronted him. "That Buffy Summers is trouble. I would have thought you'd have realized that by now. Just what is your interest in her?" The question was a thinly veiled accusation.

Giles had felt like punching the little man, but had controlled his anger and replied stiffly, "I happen to care about all the students. I want to see them get a good education. I would hope you would feel the same way. That is your job."

Snyder snorted. "Hah, my job is to keep order, make sure no one gets eaten. If you were smart, you'd stay away from Summers. Wherever there's trouble, she's there. Your job is to provide books for the simpletons who attend this school, not to be a social worker."

Giles said nothing. He was afraid that if he replied, it would be something over which he could be discharged. He couldn't afford to lose the position so close to the Slayer. The cretin, he thought, fuming in silence.

"You can let her know," Snyder said, seemingly oblivious to how close Giles was at losing his temper. "I'll be watching her...and you. One miss-step, she's out of here. You and that mother of hers may had gotten the school board on your side this time, but with her record, I think I could persuade them to my way of thinking."

Finally, the principal left, the door swinging shut behind him, almost hitting him. "Someone should give him a swift kick," Giles muttered under his breath, still furious. He began naming every derogatory epithet he could think of in five languages.

He had finally wound down and was trying to concentrate on the book in front of him when Buffy came bouncing in, sweat beading on her face. "Boy, it's hot out there!" she exclaimed. "I ran all the way from home to loosen up."

"You're late," Giles said shortly, then opened the small refrigerator in his office and pulled out one of the bottles of water he kept there. "Don't drink too fast," he warned, a bit more harshly than he intended as she took a long swig on the bottle, then laid it against her hot forehead. The sweat was trickling down her long neck. He turned away, putting up his book.

"Thanks, Giles," she smiled, apparently not noticing his bad mood. "That really hits the spot. So, what's the plan today?" Buffy asked as she sat on the edge of the library table.

"You could sit on a chair," Giles hinted exasperatedly, nodding to a straight back chair a few inches from where Buffy sat, swinging her feet back and forth.

"That's okay," she said, oblivious to his cue. "I'm fine where I'm at."

Giles took a deep breath and stood up straight. "I thought we could run through basic hand to hand combat." He got out the padding he wore during training.

"Okay," Buffy nodded and put down the bottle. "Sounds good."

Giles watched Buffy progress through the training. She moved with the same grace and precision, hitting the intended target each time, but the strength behind the blows was minimal. He finally realized that she was pulling her punches because she was either afraid of hurting him or her heart wasn't in the fight. Giles suspected it was a combination of both and the realization made him angry. This wasn't the time to attenuate in her training.

He began hitting back with more force than she was accustomed to from him. She fell back in surprise and he got in a unanticipated blow to the head, which knocked her to the ground.

She looked up, surprise warring with hurt on her face. "What's up Giles?"

"You're not giving it your all," Giles reprimanded sternly. "You're pulling your punches. Do you think that will work with the vampires?"

"No," she shook her head. "But you're not a vampire."

"No, I'm not," he agreed harshly. "I'm your Watcher. I'm responsible for training you to fight vampires. The way you're fighting, I doubt you could beat Xander."

A mutinous look came on her face. "That's not fair," Buffy said. "I was just trying not to hurt you. You've been injured."

"If I need babying," Giles said, exasperated. "I'll let you know. Just fight."

Buffy nodded curtly, got up, and resumed a fighting stance with lips compressed. Her moves were much more forceful and soon she had him pummeled back against a wall, her arm up against his neck, cutting off most of his oxygen supply. Giles nodded, and gasped out, "T-that's b-better." She hesitated a moment and Giles, becoming uncomfortably aware of the feel of her hip against his thigh, said, "You can let go now, Buffy."

She finally released him and backed off. He took several deep breaths and rubbed his neck. It was sore, but he did not think Buffy had caused any further damage. His other various aches and pains were also making themselves known. He would definitely need some pain relievers later. He removed the work out padding.

"Why did you do that?" Buffy demanded. "Why did you make me mad at you? And why are you in such a rotten mood? It has to be more than just me being late. I'm always late."

Giles wondered that himself. Was it merely because he was in a bad mood? Or because he wanted to punish himself? He went over and got one of the water bottles and drank. The cool liquid felt good on his abused throat. Buffy, not apparently willing to wait for him to answer, came over and invaded his personal space. He took a step back and said, "I haven't been sleeping well and Herr Snyder came by today." Perhaps he could divert her attention.

"Oh, the troll," Buffy nodded. "He's enough to give anyone a rotten mood."

"He's not happy about you being back. He's watching you, Buffy and he's watching me," he warned, drinking more water. "He wanted to know why I'm taking such an interest in you. He could make trouble for us."

Buffy shrugged. "That's a no-brainer. Just tell him you have a thing for my mother. You're trying to look after me to keep me out of trouble."

Giles could feel the blood rush to his face. "Y-your m-mother?"

"Yeah," she said, obviously getting into the idea, pacing back and forth. "And you can tell him you're trying to impress her. To prove that you'd make good father material."

"Buffy, I don't know about involving your mother in this," he said, uneasily, sitting down in a chair.

"Who said anything about involving Mom? You just pretend. Did you ever play 'let's pretend' when you were a kid?" At Giles irritated look, she went on, "Right, I forget who I'm talking to. All you do is drop a few hints that you got the hots for my mom in front of Snyder. Don't worry. I won't get any ideas about match-making. It would be too weird having a Watcher for a step-dad! Then you'd be watching me all the time!" She shuddered in mock revulsion. "Oh, come on," she urged. "When I graduate, you can let her down gently. The worst thing that will happen is that you'll take some kidding from the gang."

"Oh, joy." The dry irony of the words made Buffy laugh, which in turn released a little bit of the knot that had seemed to lodge in Giles' chest.

"Oh, no," Buffy moaned, flopping down in the chair next to Giles. "What if you meet some women you want to date? Having a 'pretend relationship' could put the kinks into that."

Giles cleared his throat. "Umm, Buffy, you don't need to worry about that. I've learned my lesson with Jenny. It hurts too much when you lose someone you love. I'm not giving the vampires any more ammunition than they already have."

"But Giles, you're still young. Well, kinda young. What if you meet someone? You deserve happiness. You need to have a life. Otherwise you'll shrivel up like a prune like Mr. Snyder."

"I have a life," he replied, smiling slightly at the vision of Snyder with prune-like wrinkles. "I'm a Watcher," he said firmly. "That is my life." Not wanting to give Buffy any chance for rebuttal, he suggested, "Maybe, we ought to change our venue of training. The library may no longer be safe. If Snyder's really out to get us, he could burst in on us at any time."

"It would be hard to explain why a student would be beating up on a librarian," she agreed. "Any ideas?"

"Well, we need some place with a deal of open space."

Buffy perked up. "I could clean out the family room in the basement. Mom's been after me to do that for awhile. Your 'budding romance' with my mom could be a cover for your coming to my house to train."

He ignored the comment since he still wasn't sure about the idea of pretending to have 'the hots' for Buffy's mother. "I take it, then, that everything is going well with your mother?" Giles asked, thinking over the pros and cons of practicing in the basement of the Summers' house. Privacy would definitely be a asset, but he was concern about Joyce's reaction.

Buffy nodded, smiling. "Yeah, amazingly enough, she's pretty cool about it. I'm really surprised. She even helped me whittle some stakes last night. I don't know what will happen the first time I go out on patrol, though. I hope I don't find her following behind me. It could do some damage to my credibility as the Slayer to have my mom looking out for me." She exchanged a smile with her Watcher. "Although, you know when she went after Spike with that ax, he ran. She might be an asset."

"Then again, there's the danger she would be in," Giles mentioned.

Buffy winced. "Right. Well, I'll talk to her." She perked up. "I'm getting pretty good at that. Talking to her, that is. I don't know, but I think me leaving has made her treat me more like an adult than a kid."

Giles frowned, thinking of his own worry while Buffy was gone. "Maybe, she's afraid that you'll run off again if she pushes too much." At Buffy's beginning pout, he continued. "I don't think you realized how worried she really was...how worried we all were. Poor Willow was beside herself, thinking that she somehow messed up with that spell of hers. And Xander kept kicking himself for not staying to help after getting me out."

Giles decided it was time to get personal, to work on one of his 'issues'. "If you want to be treated like an adult, then by God, you need to take responsibility like an adult." Buffy opened her mouth to speak, but Giles went on, "Until your mother told Willow about the note, I didn't even know if you were alive or dead! The last I saw of you, you were fighting Angel. Granted, the world wasn't swallowed up by Acathla, so you had obviously stopped Angel, but that didn't mean you were alright. You disappeared," he accused. "You just vanished. I understand that you needed some time to yourself, but couldn't you at least have left me a bloody note?" He glared at the girl sitting next to him, her head down, her face hidden by long blonde hair.

The words were quiet when they came. "I don't know why I didn't leave you a note...probably because I was ashamed. I was leaving, deserting you and my duty as a Slayer...but I hurt so bad. I had to kill Angel. I was so messed up. I'm sure my note to mom was barely legible." She took a deep breath and went on. "I thought I could go home to Dad. I thought he could make it right. That's what dads are supposed to do, right?" She looked up at him, finally, her eyes pleading.

Giles hesitated, unsure how to reply. His own father had been a stiff dour old man even when Giles was young, always hammering in responsibility, always complaining that Giles wasn't trying hard enough. Giles wasn't sure just what fathers were supposed to do, but he did know that if Buffy were his daughter, he'd surely do all within his power to 'make things right' for her.

"What happened?" he finally asked.

"When I got there, I realized that Dad couldn't do anything, he couldn't help me, hell, he doesn't even know me. I realized that if anyone would understand, it would be you. You're my Watcher. You've known me for less than two years, and you know more about me than my own father, probably even my mother. I couldn't do this without you."

"Buffy..." he started to protest, uncomfortable with the thought that Buffy was closer to him than her father, but at the same time, he couldn't help being pleased.

"No, I mean that I'm sure they both love me," she gave a half smile. "They have to, I'm their daughter, they're stuck with me, but they just don't understand me. Maybe if I was just a normal kid, that didn't get into trouble at school every other day, maybe they could cope."

"Perhaps, they simply need a chance," Giles offered. "Your mother just found out about you being the Slayer. Give her the time to come to grips with that and you may see a difference. Just don't shut her out...don't shut any of us out."

She nodded. "I should've realized what my leaving like that would have done to you all. I'm sorry. I know I was wrong." She didn't say anything else, but simply sat there quietly before looking up at him, her eyes shimmering with unshed tears.

For a brief moment, he wondered if it was just a trick, a way to get out of trouble, but the sincerity in those eyes was so genuine, Giles felt the remaining knot in his chest loosened and fall away. He loved this girl, God help him, but he did love this girl. How could he not? He wasn't sure whether or not it was with the perverted passion that Drusilla had made him feel or with the love and pride that a father felt for his daughter. He decided that it really didn't matter. At that moment, he made a promise that he would do everything within his power not to let anything hurt her, including himself. The future would take care of itself and they would face it, together.

Giles smiled down at his Slayer. "That's the first step...knowing you're wrong."

"The second step?" she asked.

"Admitting it and making it right."

"And if you can't make it right?" she persisted, obviously thinking of the mistakes that she had made in the past that she could not correct.

"Accepting that and going on, trying not to make the same mistake again. Unfortunately, that's a part of life." Giles smiled wryly at her. "Making mistakes. Adults make them too, it's just they make bigger ones."

Buffy cocked her head to the side and looked at him, her face serious, but with a gleam in her eyes. Giles didn't trust that look. "I'll make you a deal. I'll promise not to ever leave again without telling you first if you promise never to have sex with any more vampires."

Giles felt his face grow hot. "Are you ever going to let me live that down?"

"Not in this century," Buffy smirked, with just the barest hint of moisture left in her eyes.

Giles counted the days until the end of the century and shrugged. As long as Buffy was around, he could live with it. She held out her hand to shake on it.

Giles took it and smiled. "Deal." His Slayer was back. Somehow, he thought that he would be able to sleep undisturbed that night.

END