One More Time
By Gileswench

Title: One More Time
Author: Gileswench
Contact: gileswench@yahoo.com
Date: 1/12/01
Spoilers: Through Into The Woods
Summary: It's hard to take a chance when you've been hurt. Sometimes love takes a little courage.
Rating: R for violence, demon goo, and snarkiness to the nth degree. There is, however, a sappy ending warning in effect.
Pairing: Buffy/Giles
Distribution: Gabi if she wants it, UCSL. All others, ask and ye shall receive.
Feedback: Constructive criticism always welcome. Praise abjectly sought.
Disclaimer: It all belongs to Joss, Mutant Enemy, etc., etc., etc. I just let them have all the fun Joss won't. I don't own the song One More Time, either. It's owned by Ariel and Jenpet Music International, and is available on the album International World by Ariel. I own nothing except my twisted mind which you really don't want. Please don't sue.
Dedication: This one goes out to Savage Dawn, Quinn, and all my B/G buddies in the Channel 3 newsroom.


Three years.

It was The Anniversary.

Three years since that night that seemed just yesterday, and yet a thousand years ago.

The night when Rupert Giles' heart had died, as he thought, permanently.

Three years since he had returned home to find a single, blood-red rose on his doorstep.

Three years since he had smiled as he inhaled its scent and opened the door to his flat.

Three years since he had found a bottle of good wine, two glasses, more red roses, and a note that simply read "upstairs" on his desk.

Three years since he had followed the trail of crimson petals up the staircase to his loft, only to be met by the glassy stare of the woman he loved. Three years since he had crumpled to the floor, as the wine slipped unheeded from his nerveless fingers.

Three years since Angelus had stolen Jenny from him in the cruelest possible manner.

Three years in which he had been unable to look at or smell roses without dying inside, just a little bit more.

*****

Three months.

Buffy stared again at the photograph of Riley yet again.

It had been three months since her boyfriend had left her and flown off to the jungles of South America to fight demons without her.

Three months since Spike had led her to the vampire brothel where Riley paid demons to suck the very lifeblood from his veins.

Three months since he had told her that she was to blame, and had demanded that she ignore what he had done lest he leave her.

Three months since she had been unable to find the will to fight for his love until it was too late.

Three months since she had received yet another lesson in how inappropriate it was for a Slayer to love anyone.

Three months of guilt, sorrow, anger, and despair.

Love was not for her.

It never would be.

Three months ago, Buffy had learned her lesson.

*****

The graveyard was empty that night, save for the slight figure of a young girl, meandering among the headstones as she idly flipped a stake in her hand.

"Come out, come out wherever you are, vampies," she crooned. "Gotta make my quota, and you guys just are not helping."

At the sound of footfalls behind her, Buffy twirled around, stake held a bit more firmly.

"It's alright, Buffy. It's only me."

"Giles? What are you doing here?"

"I thought I'd join you on patrol tonight, if you don't mind. I felt a bit restless sitting in my flat tonight."

The girl glared slightly. "Is this your not-so-subtle way of letting me know you think I'm losing it and shouldn't be let off the leash?"

"This isn't about Riley. It isn't even about you, come to that." His mood soured further.

"So, what? You decided it would be more fun to follow me around all night than to sit by your cozy fire and read dusty prophecies? Don't even try it." Her words were thick with scorn.

"Of course, the old man is far too feeble to be of any help in slaying, isn't he? He's only the one who trains you, who taught you everything you know, I might add. I was fighting demons long before you were ever thought of, Buffy."

"Not to mention raising them."

Her words stung bitterly. The urge to hurt became too strong.

"Of course, and sleeping with the undead was a much more intelligent choice!"

Before the words were out of his mouth, Giles regretted them.

"I'm sorry, Buffy. I should never have said that..."

"No. It's okay, Giles. At least I know what you think of me now. God, it took you long enough to say it! Now you can just go off and leave me like every other man in my life."

"I'm not going anywhere."

"Why the hell not? My Dad, Angel, Parker, now even Riley; they all left me. God, even Xander's gonna wise up someday and desert me. Why are you still here?"

"Is that really what you think? That I'm just waiting until your back's turned to go? Don't you understand that I can't leave you?"

"Oh yes, destiny, blah blah, Chosen One, blah blah, duty and tides of history and all that other stuff you cram down my throat! You can't leave the damn Slayer alone and unprotected, is that it? That Council jerk had it all wrong. You don't care about me at all, do you?"

Suddenly, a roar from behind brought Buffy back to the moment.

There were too many. Demons. Big ones.

Giles drew his sword, but Buffy had nothing save a stake to protect herself. Without thought the Englishman pushed the girl behind himself and put his weapon to good use.

Again and again the silver blade gleamed in the pale moonlight. Soon three of the five beasts were shorter by a head, spattering pus-colored blood across their attacker. Behind him, Giles could hear Buffy fighting off another of the demons. Pausing only to sever the head of the creature before him, Giles turned and slashed at the air with his sword. The last demon lay dead at his feet.

He turned to the spot where Buffy lay on the grass. She'd been hurt badly. A thin trickle of blood from her lips signaled internal injury.

With the greatest of care, Giles gathered up the precious bundle in his arms and carried her to his car. All the way to the hospital, he kept up a personal mantra.

"She won't die. She can't die. I won't let her die."

*****

Three days.

He'd been waiting for Buffy to wake for three days.

Even with Slayer healing, her wounds had very nearly proved fatal. Now there was nothing to do but wait and pray that she would open her eyes and return to those who loved her.

For three days no one had dared attempt to remove Giles from Buffy's side. A doctor had tried once. It was clearly Ripper who had replied: "I see. So that would be your sense of humor making an appearance, would it?" Now the nurses and doctors worked around him as he held the frail hand in his. The hand that had been so strong just three days ago.

The others had come and gone in shifts, still making room for some semblance of their own lives in between their fears and hopes for Buffy. Joyce was still too weak from her own hospital ordeal to keep a round the clock vigil, and the others helped keep the streets of Sunnydale safe from vampires at night, but Giles never left even to sleep. He dozed by her bedside, and automatically consumed the food and drink brought to him by concerned Scoobies, but he would not leave.

He had to be there. He had to tell her when she finally woke - for he would not allow himself to believe that she wouldn't - how he truly felt. He had to have the chance to take back the hurtful things he'd said that night. Had to let her know he forgave her harsh words in return.

Nothing else mattered. He had to have the chance to make things right.

Giles breathed his current mantra, "You must wake up, Buffy", even as he heard the door open. He no longer care what anyone thought of his vigil or his mental state. All that mattered was that he be there when those hazel eyes opened.

He was barely aware of the soft hand that settled on his shoulder.

"Giles, you need to go home. This isn't doing any good."

He shook his head. "No, Willow. I have to stay. I must be here when she wakes."

"And how's she gonna feel when the first thing she sees is you all bloodshot with skanky demon blood all over you? Not to mention it smells. If she wakes up before you take a shower, she's gonna pass out again 'cause you're being stink-guy. Plus the Don Johnson look is deader than The Master."

"Thank you for the review of my personal hygiene, but I'm not leaving."

"You don't have to." She handed him a backpack. "See, I packed some clothes for you and shaving stuff and everything. And I talked to this intern, Ben, who said you could take care of stuff in the locker room. He's gonna sneak you in when nobody's looking. I promise, if she even twitches, we'll call you right away."

Numbly, Giles took the pack and allowed himself to be herded to the locker room.

When he was showered and shaved, Giles had to admit he felt better, despite the cold fear in the pit of his stomach that he would miss Buffy's return. As he reached into the backpack for the change of clothes Willow had provided, his fingers landed on a small package.

A cursory inspection showed that it had been sent by Olivia. Dull curiosity spread in Giles' mind. He hadn't heard from her since the incident with The Gentlemen had convinced her that life among the demon hunters was too frightening for her taste. Now she was sending him packages after more than a year apart. Strange. Yet intriguing.

He opened the package.

Inside was a compact disc and a note from Olivia. She asked him to listen to a particular song, and be at his apartment that night at eight o'clock.

Putting the disc aside, Giles dressed quickly and returned to Buffy's room. At his anxious gaze, Willow shook her head. Buffy hadn't stirred. The young witch rose to allow Giles his place at Buffy's side.

"Willow?"

"Yeah, Giles?"

He held out the disc. "Do you have anything I could play this on?"

"Sure. I've got my laptop and it has a CD drive." She took the disc, inserted it into the computer, and qued up the song Giles indicated.

Hopeless romantics got nothing to live for
In a world where love has gone astray.
Pick up the paper. Read all about it.
Love is dead. Love is dead, they say.

One more time I hold my heart out in the offer.
One more time I feel it slipping away.
One more time I feel the magic in the moment.
That moment I can hear you say...
One more time.

Now I'm not a patron of idle gossip.
Nor a fan of scenes shot night-for-day.
But still those voices call out around me.
Love is dead. Love is dead, they say.

One more time I hold my heart out in the offer.
One more time I feel it slipping away.
One more time I feel the magic in the moment.
That moment I can hear you say...
One more time.

The prosecution sings out triumphant.
Resplendent in his words of gold and gray.
But in defense of all that I hold holy, I say:
Love is here. Love is here to stay.

One more time I hold my heart out in the offer.
One more time I feel it slipping away.
One more time I feel the magic in the moment.
That moment I can hear you say...
One more time.

When it was over, Giles looked thoughtful. He couldn't accept Olivia's implied request; it was far too late. Besides which, he had to admit at least to himself, that he'd only been with her because it had hurt far too much to be alone when she'd arrived on his doorstep unexpectedly after so many years. He felt badly that he'd used her, but he couldn't lie to himself or her again.

His heart was no longer his to give.

It lay beside the still girl in the hospital bed.

He didn't know when or how or why it had happened, but Buffy had captured his battered love, and would have it always. Of that he was certain.

A faint stirring of the fingers intertwined with his own startled Giles.

"Buffy? Buffy, love, wake up. Come back to me" he coaxed her as he smoothed a stray tendril of hair from her cheek.

Her eyelids fluttered open as Willow ran to the nurse's station.

By the time the doctor arrived on the scene, Giles held Buffy tightly in his arms as he whispered repeatedly "I love you, Buffy. I won't ever leave you."

*****

One year.

It had been one year since they had exchanged marriage vows in her mother's living room.

One year of kisses and compromises, of dreams and dinner dishes.

One year of blissful togetherness.

Buffy opened the door of their apartment. A wave of nostalgia swept over her at its familiar sight. She never wanted to leave this home, but the news she had just received made it inevitable that she would.

"Rupert? Are you home?"

Giles descended from the loft and kissed his wife. Something felt odd in the way she clung to him.

"Is there anything the matter, love? Did something happen?"

"I think you'd better sit down, Rupert."

She took his hand and led him to the sofa. She looked nervous.

"I'm not really sure how to say this..."

"It's alright, Buffy. Just tell me what it is."

"We're gonna have to find someone else to do the Slaying for a while."

"Why is that? Aren't you well?"

"And I've got the real estate listings here 'cause this place isn't gonna cut it anymore."

"What in heaven's name are you talking about, Buffy?"

"Just this." She took his hand and placed it on her belly. "I know it's a few months off, but, well, happy father's day."

Giles pulled his wife into his arms. He had never been as happy in his life.

 
The END