Nature Lovers
By Ruth

"Nature Lovers"
Author: Ruth
B/G, also X/A, W/T. Future fic.
Summary: Where is Giles going on a sunny Sunday morning? The gang are surprised: so is Buffy....
Rating PG13
For Daien's birthday: hope you like. Giles the naturist, as requested.
Disclaimer: All the characters of BtVS belong to Joss Whedon, ME etc and not me. If they were mine you'd see less naked Spike and at least some naked Giles.
Feedback: no begging, but it'd be nice.rufusruff@hotmail.com
Thanks: Rari (naturally) and Daien for the challenge, and the fun visuals!


"Back, stay back, behind the RV!"

"Which is reverse again, Xander?"

"No, no! Just hit the brake, oh God, *gently*, An!"

"Back means reverse. You said that yesterday."

"*Stay* back means stay where we are, OK? Buffy, you can let go of the door handle there."

"Yeah, I need both hands to cover my eyes."

"Remind me again why you're not driving, oh super-coordinated one?"

"Because, Xan-man, the cops saw me go through two red lights trying to dodge Spike in the deSoto, then they saw me ram him. I'm only not in jail 'cause he refused to press charges. What's your excuse?"

"Anya twisted my... well let's just say not my arm. Spike still stalking, huh?"

"*Still*. It's been three months now. I'm thinking of going back to see that nice nun. Men and me equals knit your own Hellmouth." The beautiful blonde pouted deeply; after a couple of seconds a frown appeared as well.

"I know what it is. It's a woman." Buffy drummed her fingers fiercely on the back of the driver's seat. Her foot beat a counterpoint on the floor.

"Hey, stop that! Xander, I want you to be my witness to the police."

"Cops? Where?"

"No, *after* it's all Buffy's fault for distracting me and we have a terrible fatal accident."

"*After* the fatal...? No, forget it." Buffy gulped and drew her hands away, hugging herself as she tried to peer between her two friends at the road ahead.

"Where does he think he's going? He's supposed to have come back to be with me. I mean, to look after me and the Slayage."

"Ease up, Buff, he gets to have some free time too. Just like I have to give up my Sunday rest so you can tail him."

"Sorry, Xand, really. I just...I just can't help being scared he's gonna skip town on me again."

"Relax. He's back here for good. Truly. Tara and Willow are busy with reunion smoochies, footloose and magic free, Spike's on the Buffy reject pile, Giles is back on Watch, and I'm sharing a ...lovely drive in the country with my very own superhero and my new lady wife."

He patted Anya's knee proprietarily and she simpered, taking her left hand off the wheel to gaze at her ring finger for the millionth time. The car swerved and Xander reached across to clamp her hand back on the wheel, just in time to stop the car crossing into incoming traffic.

"Reject *pile*? You make it sound like I've been cruising the sale at Wal-Mart!"

"He only meant, you very wisely got rid of yet another completely unsuitable, despicable or evil boyfriend." Anya was at her most conciliatory: from the heights of marital respectability, she clearly felt it safe to patronise. Buffy sank even lower into her seat. "Riley wasn't evil," she muttered.

"Oh, yes, I forgot to mention boring."

"I have *circumstances* - hey, Xander, he's turning off!"

"He'll be able to tell we're following if we go now. We go past this junction, then double back. Doesn't look like a main road. Maybe you're right, Buffy. Maybe Giles has a lady love."
Xander turned and waggled his eyebrows suggestively, then did a double take at the expression on the Slayer's face. He was about to say something when Anya abruptly turned the wheel, slid into a space between two vehicles more by luck than judgement, and then stepped on the brake, resulting in a blaring chorus of horns.

"I'm tailing someone and I don't want to catch him yet, jerks!" she yelled at the other drivers.

The route Giles had taken wound through a wooded landscape: there was no sign of the red Beemer up ahead as they made the turn.

"Huh" grunted Buffy. "Bet it's some sleazy motel and some bottle blonde."

"Giles prefers brunettes. He told me once." Anya seemed impervious to the glare directed at her back, even designed as it was to melt sheet steel.

Half a mile further on, a billboard announced:

'Silver Sands Club. Members Only.
Applicants welcome at main gate'

"What the...? Well I guess we either apply or spy. Wonder if it's expensive?" Xander looked concerned, Married life was costing a lot more money than cohabitation. Something to do with a theory of Anya's that the division of property was the chief problem in a divorce, so the more joint purchases, the more complex the division and the greater the deterrent.

"I vote spy," Buffy said decisively." It might be one of those gentleman's clubs, like Giles says they have in England. They don't let women in, in case they have to build extra restrooms."

"You can't do that in California. Unless it's all British guys and they have diplomatic immunity or something." shrugged Xander.

The gang's mystification deepened as they caught sight of a ten foot high close boarded fence up ahead, curving away sideways in both directions. A high gate at the end of the road afforded no view in; to one side of it was a guard hut with a window and counter, presumably the place for application as directed by the billboard. Anya stopped the car in the shadow of some tall trees, and they slipped away from the road. Sandy paths crisscrossed the woods: there was enough ground cover to shield them from sight of the hut and its occupant as they made their way around the compound.

It was Buffy's Slayer-enhanced eyesight that saw it - a sliver of fencing that had been worked loose by a squirrel or skunk. Pulling on the exposed edge she slowly detached the whole board from the fence post beneath and peered through. Twenty seconds of absolute silence later she slumped to a sitting position on the ground.
"Uh." The word came out as a squeak. Xander sprang forward in alarm.

"Buffy? What...Holy moly." He had stooped down to take Buffy's place at the gap and stayed transfixed, mouth agape, eyes bugging. His wife tried to move him out of the way, to get a view of what he was seeing, but she didn't budge him from his tense crouch.

"What? *What*?" Anya snapped, looking back and forth between the two of them. She shook Buffy's shoulder briskly to get her attention.

"People" murmured Buffy "Nudity. Giles!" the last word was an outraged squawk.

"This is a nudist camp?" shouted Anya, yanking on Xander's arm. "You're looking at naked women. Women who aren't me!" she paused, considering. "Are there naked men, too?" He nodded dumbly, and then turned to stare at them both.

"Well, I think it's time for us to go home," he declared, a false smile plastered on his face, "and pretend we never came here, this place doesn't exist, and someone stole Giles' car. And his body."

"Are you kidding?" Anya protested. "We *have* to find out why Giles came here. Maybe there's a demon that's trying to hide and it's only disguised if it takes off its clothes." She frowned. "No, that sounds lame even to me. Come on Buffy, we need a plan."

"Driving back sounds like a plan" Buffy replied faintly, but then a determined expression came to the surface. "No. Demon. Has to be. An all-over-tanning demon. Which I must find and kill before it eats Giles, who has clearly been lured here under false pretences." She stalked off in the direction of the gate.

"So how come we haven't seen his car high-tailing it out of here? Unless he's too shocked to drive," wondered Xander as they trailed after her.

"Yes, he's really prudish you know. He actually told me to *shut up* yesterday when I tried to tell him that sometimes during sex I pretend to be the Bu-fmy mpot - *Xander*, get off", wrenching his hand away from her mouth. "I think that was rude of him," she pronounced, oblivious to Buffy's eloquently hunched shoulders and her husband's scarlet face.

Reaching the main gate, Buffy knocked tentatively on the window and a balding, cherubic-faced middle aged man came out of the small office at the back. He was wearing only a worn pair of denim shorts, an impressive belly hanging out over them. He gave her a warm smile.

"Good morning, ma'am. You want to join, you and your friends?"

"Um, um, yeah, I...I guess", she said in a small voice.

"Hey, no need to be shy. We run a clean operation. Everyone police-checked and registered as singles or couples, and if you wanna change your status you have to re-register. That happy hunting ground idea, well that's just a Textiles' fiction, you know." He winked as if she should be in on the joke. Buffy wisely smiled and nodded.

"So, um, we couldn't go in straight away? A - a - a friend recommended it."

"Well, you could come in as their guest, provided they take responsibility. There's a guest suite apart from the communal areas. You want me to call someone?"

Buffy turned a panicked face to her companions but they nodded vigorously.

"Well, we're not sure if he's here but, uh, Giles, that is *Mr* Giles...that's our friend's name..."

"Oh, yeah, Rupert! Well, any friend of his is a friend of mine. Come on in." He turned to exit the back of the hut and missed the group's stunned expressions. Luckily they'd toned down to what they hoped was normal looking first-time nerves by the time he led them to a side entrance and ushered them through.
The guest lounge was spacious and comfortably appointed, lush potted greenery and well-stuffed sofas dotted the area. Patrons and guests in varying degrees of dress and undress sat or stood around chatting, moving through to a dining area and a small store, or looking out of a huge picture window over the sweeping and well kept lawns, dotted here and there with folksy log cabins. The Pacific Ocean breezes wafted in through the air vents, cementing the impression of Eden. As did the strolling naked people going about their weekend chores or recreation with seemingly not a care in the world.

"It's uh- it's very nice here", Xander remarked inanely.

"Best naturist facility in So Cal" beamed their guide. "You folks make yourselves comfortable. I'll go get Rupert. I'm Hal, by the way."

Anya, Buffy and Xander sat stiffly in a row facing the window. In a moment they spied Hal, who had shed the denims on his way out, wobbling gently down one of the paved paths. A few minutes later he was on his way back, looking from a distance faintly puzzled: they were all concentrating really hard on his face.
Buffy grinned triumphantly.

"See. It was a mistake! Giles isn't here. But...I can't understand why Hal thinks he is." Her voice was tight and rather loud.

"I understand perfectly well why Hal thinks I'm here. The question is, why are you lot?"
The low, dry tones of her Watcher and friend came from behind them, and they spun around in unison to see Rupert Giles regarding them quizzically over the top of his glasses, apparently naked as a jaybird except for a strategically placed folded copy of the Sunnydale Press, Sunday edition.

"But. But...you're *Giles*. You don't do this kind of thing, right? You're hunting naked demons or doing research, going, er, undercover like I did for the swim monsters, only more so, I mean less so...I mean *help*", finished Xander, his eyes skittering over Giles' face and away again in random directions, except everywhere he lit on seemed to be disturbingly *bare*. Finally he just screwed shut his eyes, cringing in his seat.

"I am, or I was, enjoying a quiet Sunday relaxing with friends. I came up here to buy a newspaper and was planning on going back to my cabin to read it."
"Rupert, you found your friends, then."

"Yes, thank you Hal." Giles waved the fat man past with the hand that was not holding the newspaper. "I'll vouch for them. That is" he asked the trio in lowered tones "if you're staying?"

Xander had opened his eyes again once he had turned back toward the window, and now Buffy and Anya followed his fascinated gaze to where four stunning and well-built young women were playing tennis doubles on a grass court. Eyes narrowing, Anya jumped to her feet and dragged him stumbling to the exit, muttering something about playing naked ball games together in the privacy of their own home. Buffy watched them leave with a smirk, but made no move to follow. Giles took a seat beside her, crossing his long legs. His newspaper slipped and with a mildly hysterical giggle, Buffy saw that he was wearing a minuscule pair of green swim trunks.

"One is supposed to make some concession to the sensibilities of Textiles in the guest area", he told her, and at her questioning look, explained "'Textiles' is naturist slang for clothes wearers. We don't want to offend, merely to enjoy our freedom."

"We? You make it sound like you do this all the time."

"Buffy, I have been 'doing this' as you put it, since before you were born, and no, not all the time, just when I can. California is a damn sight more congenial to this way of life than England. Talk about frozen assets." He chuckled at Buffy's shocked gasp.

"Stop it! You don't talk like that. You're the guy who blushes at sex words and tells Anya to shut up."

"The automatic link between sex and nudity is in the mind. People here aren't thinking about that, it's not why they're here. Of course, if you find it unacceptable I can drive you back."

"*No way* are you more broadminded than me, mister. I'll stay. How, er, how naked do you have to be?" Giles could see she was covering her nerves with bravado, and took pity on her.

"I'll ask one of the girls if they can find you something... minimalist," he offered, "since it's your first visit."

"Girls?" Buffy looked at him, horrified, and he suppressed a laugh.

"Willow and Tara," he explained patiently. "I said I was with friends. I introduced them here, actually. Oh, here they are. Must have wondered where I'd got to. Look who's decided to pay us a visit, ladies." Giles beckoned them over, and the lovers approached, each with an identical filmy sarong knotted on one shoulder, and falling to the top of their thighs. Willow looked extremely surprised to see her friend.

"Buffy! I didn't know you knew this place. Or that you were into the lifestyle."

"I'm, er, well I'm not sure I am really, I just, well ...wondered where Giles was off to this morning and, er..."

"I was followed," Giles put in with amusement. "Not, I might add, terribly stealthily." He grinned at Buffy's glare. "I'm sure you would have managed much better without Xander's car, which I did recognise, not to mention Anya's unmistakable driving" He patted Buffy on the shoulder and stood up. "Now, if you're serious about this new experience, we'd better help you out. Let's go to the transitional area."
It looked a bit like the changing room at a public pool, wall to wall numbered lockers, benches and even a footbath. Giles paused in front of one of the lockers and operated the combination. He turned to Buffy.

"It's customary for members to unclothe before going outside."

"I thought...um, wasn't someone going to lend me something?" Buffy ventured nervously.

"Yes, yes of course, I was just giving you fair warning," and with that he dropped his paper on the floor, turned back and stripped off the trunks, putting them in his locker.

Buffy's jaw dropped open entirely of its own volition.

<<Oh. *Oh*. Nice butt, Giles. I *so* did *not* just think that. Don't turn around, please don't turn arou- oh, God>>

"B-Buffy?" She jumped at the sound of Tara's voice behind her, and turned to her gratefully. Then she jumped again. Tara was smiling, holding out the sarong, which had obviously been her only garment.

"You'll get used to it in no time", Willow assured her cheerfully, also bouncing up in her birthday suit. Not, fortunately for Buffy, who was becoming more and more distracted, that her friend had a great deal to bounce; she'd always been as slender as her name implied.
Buffy took a deep breath, aware of her Watcher's presence at her back and guessing at the look of challenge that must be on his face.

<<Vampires. Check. Demon goo. Check. Resurrection (both times). Check and check. Going almost naked. Uh, *check*, dammit!>>

She pulled off sandals and sundress with clumsy haste and passed them back over her shoulder. Giles took them wordlessly and stuffed them into his locker. Buffy then tied on the sarong and undid her strapless bra underneath it, wriggling also out of her panties. Standing up, she lifted her chin and turned, looking Giles in the eye. He looked back, both proud and mischievous, the corners of his mouth turned up and his eyes twinkling. Picking up his paper he inclined his head in the direction of the outside door and began to walk, the women following. Tara and Willow, bringing up the rear, chattered happily about some Wicca meditation ritual they were planning on attending. Giles was doing his explanatory thing, pointing out the amenities and trying to outline the philosophy behind it all.

Buffy let the flow of words buoy her up in the sea of naked skin all around her, until it really did start to feel totally natural, and she could see what he meant about the artificial messages put out by the clothes people wore. Certainly the way Giles dressed seemed in retrospect to have led her to some pretty inadequate conclusions. That awful tweed had made him seem so old, out of touch and out of place in her High School existence, but he'd been her anchor then. The buttoned up three piece suits he'd worn during her final year had acted like armour, reinforcing the emotional distance wrought by Jenny's death and Angel's return but denying the loyalty and courage he'd shown for her sake. Her first, inglorious year of college, and Giles had seemed to come unravelled like some of his ropier sweaters, torn by her neglect and the Council's ungrateful rejection, when in fact she'd needed him more than ever: she'd just been too blind to see that. In the year of Glory, so hard in terms of her life both as Slayer and as a person, he'd metamorphosed again, being in turns the respectable professional in a smart suit, and the trusted older friend who was able to let loose, just a little.

She just hadn't expected that he ever let loose quite this much. The real Giles, *this* Giles, beneath all the textile messages, was just a man. A very special and unique man.

"Here we are then." He stopped at a pristine and well-appointed cabin with a sundeck out front containing a rustic bench with cushions and a small table. "Time for a cuppa, I think", and he proceeded inside, the clinking of china and rustling of cookie packets soothingly familiar.

"Actually Giles ", called Willow through the open door "we have to run along or we'll be late for our meditation. See you at lunchtime?" At his affirmative answer the witches waved merrily to Buffy and skipped away arm in arm like a pair of wood nymphs, red and gold hair dancing together as they went.

"Sit inside or out?" Giles' head popped round the door.

"Um, inside, I think. Unless you plan to tan?"
He shook his head.
"I burn dreadfully. Always need a strong sunscreen. Come on in, then."

She wasn't quite sure whether to be relieved or disappointed that he had pulled up a chair to a solid oak table on which, once tea was ready, he set the pot, china mugs and a plate of chocolate chip cookies. She still had the benefit of sight of his broad chest as she took a place at right angles to his, and had a sudden flashback to the way the pattern of hair extended down to his navel before narrowing down to his...<<*Bad* Buffy. Should *not* have noticed that.>>

Giles cleared his throat, and she came crashing back into focus.

"Why did you follow me here, Buffy?" He searched her face, asking for honesty, but not harshly. She hesitated. So many different reasons, but mostly:

"I don't know you really, do I? I want to, I think, but just when I'm getting near I run away. Or you do." She was tapping a cookie on its edge against the surface of the table, watching the crumbs grind and scatter.

"This is about last autumn." It wasn't a question.

"No. Yes. I - I suppose. You know what happened after you went back to England. How could you abandon me?"

"It's never been my place to cocoon you, and it shouldn't be. Suffering is terrible, but it's *unavoidable*, unless you want to hide away in a corner and forfeit life altogether. I *wanted* to stay, so very much. But I knew that I must not. I knew you had the strength to come through. You are the Slayer: it's not your skills but your courage, your heart that make you who and what you are. My duty, my joy and pride, Buffy, is to help make you strong."

"I didn't feel strong, last year. That's why I listened to Spike. Why I..." she stopped. Giles' surge of anger was unmistakable but she understood somehow that it was not directed at her. He took a deep breath and she could feel him, even across the space between, consciously releasing all the tension in his body.

"You don't need to explain yourself to me. You don't need to explain Spike either. He's a vampire. However charming, however sympathetic, however loyal they may seem and act, at base they exist to *take*. It's their nature. Just as it is your nature to *give*: to give life, to give hope."

"To give Spike the sharpened end of a stake if he dares touch me again."

Giles smiled, something a touch feral in it. "That, too."

"So once I was extra strength Buffy again, you came back?"

"Just so. One thing I was wrong about, however." He looked disapprovingly at her faux-shocked expression. "I said I'd taught you everything you needed to know about being the Slayer, but the truth is, you'll never stop learning while you're alive, and I can still help and support you. But we have to pass beyond teacher and student, move on."

Buffy tossed her hair back over her shoulders and looked straight into his face. This was not a Buffy and Giles conversation. They didn't talk about their relationship, or at least they hardly ever had until now. Perhaps it was long past time.

"Where are we moving on to, Giles?" she laid her hand, palm up, on the table top; her eyes invited him to take it. His fingers, warm from holding the tea mug, curled around hers. With his other hand he carefully removed his glasses and put them down next to the teapot.

His eyes were the colour of the sea and as changeable. They could storm with anger or sparkle with humour; they could carry the undercurrents of the feelings he kept from public display. She floated, let the hidden currents carry her, draw her in until she moved forward unconsciously, about to land on an unfamiliar shore. Their lips were a breath apart when she stopped, a question in her eyes. He brushed her mouth with his and then withdrew, bowing his head, waiting.

Buffy giggled. His open dismay made her laughter subside into soggy chuckles and she stroked his cheek with tender caresses, keeping their tight handclasp.
"It's OK, it's OK ,"she soothed, "Only you could get naked *before* you kiss me." Then he was laughing softly too, reaching to cradle her face in both hands, kissing her again thoroughly. He released her, streams of her hair caught between his fingers, lifting them so that the gold took the light.

"Beautiful, wonderful girl," he whispered.

"I thought you preferred brunettes to blondes," teased Buffy

"You're not a blonde."
She pouted a little, about to concede the strict truth of that, when he shook his head gently.

"You're Buffy. There's no other word that can sum you up."

"How about "yours"?"

"Yes. Oh, yes, love. My Buffy."

When they kissed this time, their hands moved over each others' skin, Giles slipping his fingers under the knot of the sarong to describe circles on her shoulder blade, Buffy taking full advantage of his lack of clothes to trace the contours of his chest, to rub her hand from the nape of his neck down over his back. They were both breathing fast and shallow between kisses, when Willow's cheerful voice and brisk rap on the cabin door made them spring apart with a gasp.

"Giles? Buffy? You there? The meditation's been rescheduled. Would you guys like to go for a swim? We can find you a costume, Buffy."

Giles sat tight in his seat, looking tense and somewhat panicked.

"Aren't you going to get the door?" hissed Buffy, then she had cover her mouth with both hands to suppress a snort of laughter. Giles' face had turned red and he was looking down at himself ruefully.

"I don't think I am, no. Not just now."

Buffy composed herself with considerable effort and walked to the door. Opening it just enough to talk to her friends, she favoured them with a sunny smile, and a 'shooing' motion with one hand.

"You two go on. We...um, need to get a grip. On some stuff. Training, er, yeah."

"Doesn't Giles ever let you have any fun?"

"Sure he does." She was fighting to keep a straight face, and Willow and Tara gave her a doubtful look.

"OK, if you say so. See you later."

Buffy closed the door quietly and turned back to Giles with a cheeky grin.

"Calmed down now?" she asked innocently. "I thought you said sex and nudity were all in the mind?"

"When you kiss me like that they're certainly in *my* mind. I think, if we're going to carry on, we should make it official." Buffy looked startled, and he hastened to explain, "I mean, we should register here as a couple. If, if that's alright?" His face was so hopeful and uncertain that her heart melted.

"If those are the rules. Stuffy, though. You couldn't swing some influence with the Committee or the Chairman or whatever, so we can do couply things now and register afterwards?"

Giles shook his head. "I don't think it would be proper. Those who set the rules should abide by them."

"Huh?"

"I *am* the Chairman."

"Oh. Wow. Let's go see Hal."

END
6th February 2002