By Darcy Galvan
Author: Darcy Galvan
Rating: G (well, actually, there's like, ONE bad word, but that's it.)
Spoilers: Yoko Factor spoilers specifically, and then general season four
Distribution: Solo, Sha, whoever wants it (I would be so pleased)
Summary: What if it was Buffy who'd walked in on Giles in The Yoko Factor rather than Spike.
Disclaimer: Joss, WB, Mutant, they own BTVS. "Freebird" belongs to Lynyrd
Author's notes: Hee hee! Look! My second happy fic (and I bet y'all thought I couldn't do it! *G*) !!!! Well, it goes into the slightly less than happy, BUT ONLY FOR A SEC, and it's necessarry when dealing with the lyrics, dontcha know. I would like to give this fic to Sharon, *G* seeing as how she provided me with Giles' question posed to Buffy in this. You'll see. THANK YOU SHA!!!
"If I leave here tomorrow
Would you still remember me?
Well I must be traveling on now
'Cause there's too many places I've got to see"
Buffy paused at Giles' door. Through the wood she heard a clear, warm tenor voice and the strum of an acoustic guitar. The voice wove up and down, letting the words out in a slide of emotion.
< It's kinda sexy. > Willow's words ran through the Slayer's mind as she stood on her Watcher's door step. The tune was achingly simple, and it caught her as she listened. < Wow. Wow indeed. > When her friends had spoken of Giles' singing, she hadn't quite believed them. Giles. *Her* Giles, a singer? There had been that old photo of him, young and arrogant, guitar in tow, but she'd never really connected Giles to it.
Like one of those novelty photos one took at the fair. A person would stick their head through a hole in a board with a picture on the other side. And from the front, with their true forms hidden behind an image, they were a weight lifter, King Kong. A man was a woman, Little Billy was a hula dancer. Looking at it, though, the real person was never thought of literally as being that character.
Giles had stuck his head through the picture of a rock star, but now, somehow, standing there, she knew it *was* him.
< Giles sings. > Buffy clasped the door handle, moving it ever so carefully. She hesitated a bit. If she were performing a talent so personal, would she want someone else barging in? Her need overthrew thoughts of common courtesy or privacy and she inched the door open.
The edge of the wood caught something, though, scraping and thumping it across the floor.
Giles let out a little shriek and jerked, dropping the guitar. Buffy giggled involuntarily < Sings *AND* squeals > but clasped her lips around the sound, cutting it off. She didn't think she'd gain any points by laughing after she'd interrupted and startled him.
"You know, for someone who's got 'Watcher' on his résumé, you might want to cast an eye at the front door every now and again," Buffy teased gently.
Giles pursed his lips and adjusted the guitar, leaning it against the couch, wondering weather to scold Buffy or retort.
"Well, at least my alarm system was effective," he said crisply, pointing at the guitar case that had caught the door and given Buffy away. The words were a bit sharp at the edges and a shadow of a frown marred Buffy's smooth brow. Giles let the corners of his mouth drift up so that she could see he wasn't upset and she relaxed.
"Giles, I never knew you could sing. Well, I mean, I *did* technically. Willow told me you could." She grinned. "She said it was kinda sexy." The familiar eyebrow rose and his cheeks rounded in an amused smile. He had always had the most adorable smile. "But I didn't really, you know, *believe* it."
"Shall I assume that you're a believer now?" he said, crossing his arms and tilting his head, lips and brows quirked, face open and questioning, eyes dancing with mirth.
"Am I ever. You were good." His cheeks colored a little and he tilted his head down. "And I thought drawing was your big artsy thing." He slipped around behind her to close the door and she turned, tracking his embarrassed movements. < Maybe he's gonna make a run for it. > Giles merely headed for the couch and perched his comfortably long frame casually on the arm. Buffy sat at the far end, curling up, leaning into that arm. "Giles, why didn't you ever tell anyone that you could do that? Well, I mean, show anyone? Why didn't you ever show me?"
"Buffy, do you keep a journal?"
Buffy looked at him incredulously. He tilted his head, requiring a response. "So I can write about things that I wouldn't tell anyone else. A way to let feelings out."
"Why don't you show anyone?"
"Because it's personal. It's mine. Okay. I see where you're going, Giles. I shouldn't have barged in, I shouldn't be asking questions, I should just forget this whole thing." She made to get up and Giles put his hand out. She plopped back down.
"You didn't let me finish. This," he motioned at the guitar, "really is quite a personal thing." Giles chuckled. "Of course, I took it up so I could show off at parties, but that's quite another matter. I've not been inclined in recent years to share it with anyone because it's something that I have that is purely mine. Everyone needs something that only they know of, that they can enjoy, or use as a way to let out emotion they would otherwise keep locked up." Buffy grinned and rolled her eyes.
"You know, Giles, even with the tweed and the stuttering and that uncomfortable look you'd get every time anyone would actually like, address you as a normal guy when I was in high school, I always did know that, underneath, somewhere, you were big ole macho Watcher guy." She smiled wickedly. "That image is starting to slip. You're going all emotional on me. Just tell me that you don't have a Lisa Frank diary stashed under your crossbow bolts and demonology books and maybe we can let this go."
"Ha very ha," he said dryly. But his mouth smiled. "At any rate, I suppose I don't mind anyone knowing about this, not really. I just, never felt that I had to initiate it. If someone heard, as was witnessed just now, well, fine."
He rubbed his chin. "Although, perhaps I might try to prevent any future discoveries. I hear that the locksmith has very good prices. Perhaps a new lock, a few dead bolts, maybe a crossbar...."
Buffy gently slapped the couch. Giles' face relaxed into a neutral expression.
"Who was that by?"
"Lynyrd Skynyrd." Buffy's nose wrinkled in an amused 'yuk' face. "Would you play for me?" she asked casually.
Giles looked at her, gaze thoughtful, as if weighing his options.
"Ah, well, I uh, ah-I suppose...so," he said, stumbling a bit over the words. Buffy watched in half amusement, half concern. He hadn't stuttered since she was in high school, not really. He moved a bit unsurely to retrieve the instrument. It seemed that he took a bit longer than necessary in settling himself before he touched his fingers to the strings and began plucking out a gay little tune.
"No." Buffy's words stopped him short.
Buffy caught and held his eyes and spoke slowly. "No. Play the one that you were doing when I came in. Please," she added after a slight pause.
He looked as if he wished to protest. But he merely raised his brows in a facial shrug and gingerly placed his fingers on the strings again. There was a momentary pause as he took a breath and began to play.
"If I leave here tomorrow
Would you still remember me
Well I must be traveling on now
'Cause there's too many places I've got to see"
The voice that lent so much warmth and color to words in books, even prophesies and dry Watcher diaries, did that and so much more to these words, this tune. Buffy let her body relax and fall back against the couch as she observed, nearing awe.
The words themselves and their meaning suddenly began clicking over in her mind.
"And if I stay here with you girl
Things just couldn't be the same
'Cause I'm as free as a bird now
And this bird you'll never change"
For a few moments, she sat as he strummed and sang, just thinking. Letting her ideas gather.
It was him.
Oh, God, it was him. < Does he really feel that way? > she wondered, stomach clenching. She didn't know why she thought this. He could have been singing the song for any number of reasons. Maybe it was the only one he knew, perhaps he just liked the tune. Could it have been the first song he'd learned? Her mind feebly grasped at other options, but somehow, her first thoughts were true. She was sure of it.
It was Giles singing, as if the words had been expressly written for his situation.
< And I'm her, > her mind stated, inner voice small.
"Is that true?" Giles' performance halted at the quiet, unsure voice.
"Is that really how you feel, Giles?" Giles eyes widened for a split second and he opened his mouth. Buffy spoke gently. "Please, Giles, tell me the truth. Do you really feel that way?
"Sometimes...well, most times, yes, it is." He kept his eyes on her, face stoic. She'd asked for the truth and she'd received it like a sharp, stinging slap to her face and to her heart.
"You want to leave?" She wouldn't meet his eyes anymore and her gaze rested somewhere around the left corner of his mouth.
"Sometimes I wonder that I shouldn't," he said calmly, lowering the guitar to the ground once more. "I don't particularly cling to the idea, but I'm not sure how necessary my presence is around here."
"You're necessary," Buffy said, eyes rising quickly to meet his, to reassure him, though she wasn't sure if he could believe her.
He smiled lightly, resigned. "You need a place to meet, not necessarily myself. Aside from the fact that my residence is a bit closer than his, you could meet at Xander's, or at Riley's house or even at your dorm."
Buffy began to shake her head, but images of this past year had flashed through her head and she stilled, lower lip caught between her teeth, brow furrowed.
"You think I wouldn't miss you if you left?" she asked, barely whispering.
He merely smiled sadly and opened his hands, bobbing his shoulders in a tired little shrug. "I don't know," he said. His gaze drifted off when Buffy didn't respond. Acute sadness rested low and heavy in his chest. He breathed slowly, allowing the pain -- forcing it -- to dull slightly as the quiet continued, as he realized that he had to accept it. He couldn't let it matter or it would be too much.
Two small, warm hands suddenly gripped his forearms. His gaze rushed back down to meet Buffy's face.
Her voice was commanding and pleading at the same time as she said, "Don't think that Giles. Please, don't ever, *ever* think that."
His expression was somewhat akin to confusion as she tightened her grip and gave a small, firm shake. "I *need* you Giles. I know that what has happened this year hasn't been good. I realize that I've been pretty much Buffy-centric." She let him go slowly, his full attention on her, and flipped her hair out of her face, voice rueful when she said, "I want to tell you that it's just this whole first year of college, finding myself, overdoing the whole new experience independence thing. I guess I can't make excuses, though, huh?"
"Well, I wouldn't say--"
"Shut up, Giles," Buffy said with a small smile. "I hate it when I know you're mad at me and *you* know you're mad at me and you *still* insist on defending me. Lemme knock myself down a couple notches and make myself feel like a real bitch and you can be nice later, okay?"
"Fine, bitch, continue," he said, lips quirking with humor. Buffy grinned, feigning stern speech. "Hey, I didn't say I needed any help, I just wanted you to shut up." Giles nodded. "Okay." Buffy shook herself and her face was serious again.
"I don't want to make any excuses. I shouldn't have just neglected everybody the way I did. You, Willow, Xander. I mean, sure, I talked to you guys and all, but, it wasn't the same. I guess that stuff can't stay the way it was forever, I mean, things change." She locked eyes with him, emphasizing her words. "But I want us to always be together. I want you to always feel like you're needed, 'cause you are. I may be too dumb to ever think about actually saying it, but, I do. I love you, Giles."
He kept her gaze, his voice somber, he spoke. "Do you feel like enough of a bitch now?"
Buffy laughed. "Yeah, I think I do." Buffy knelt on the couch and leaned up, wrapping her arms around his neck suddenly. Giles beamed. It was rare that they actually hugged and he cherished each encounter immensely. Her cheek was pressed to his and she felt his warm breath on her ear. Her fingers drifted in distracted circles against the nape of his neck as something inside of her suddenly clicked into place, albeit somewhat vaguely. She frowned lightly.
"That line in the song, what is it, 'If I stay, things just couldn't be the same,' something like that?"
"I don't think I want them to stay the same." Her words were almost questioning as she tested them in her mouth.
She pulled back just enough so that she could look into his eyes. They were tinged with confusion. Her hand rose to trace the side of his face. Down his profile to rest against his throat where his blood beat warmly under the skin, it's steady pulse speeding up ever so slightly.
Giles remained absolutely still as Buffy leaned forward until their faces were scant millimeters apart. "Do you?" she murmured against his mouth, her breath and soft lips brushing against his own, making them tingle. Her pale lids dropped and she tipped her head forward, bringing their mouths together in full, sweet contact.
Somewhere, vaguely, Giles knew that he should be more shocked and that he should not allow this to continue.
His own hands came up to lightly cup either side of her jaw as Buffy's moved to rest on his biceps. Her lips were parted slightly and he gently slipped his tongue between them.
When they broke contact, Buffy looked up at him.
"I just kissed Giles," she said with a silly grin. "Wait until Willow hears about this."
He looked at her and her goofy grin, his heart swelling. "Buffy, is-are y--Buffy, be sure this is what you want. I won't go backwards. I've wanted to hold you for too long to just turn around later and let you go."
"Giles, this is you. There's nothing I could ever be more sure of." His face spread in a smile, tiny lines fanning out from the corners as his eyes crinkled in joy. Buffy loved that face. Every line of it. She smiled shyly now that her actions were less spontaneous and kissed him again, relishing in the feeling of his lips pressed to hers; their breath, their flesh, mingling.
"Will you play that song for me now? I want to hear the rest, it was beautiful." He nodded and picked up the instrument, once more beginning to sing. She hoped that he would sing to her for the rest of her life.
"If I leave here tomorrow....." The words, now sweet and familiar flowed through her. She hoped that he'd never feel the truth in them again.
When the song was over, Giles looked at her and stopped. She was frowning lightly, eyes distant.
"Buffy? Is something the matter?"
"Giles? I'm not too sure I want to tell people that we owe our relationship to a group called Lynyrd Skynyrd."