One Touch Unchangeable
By Jacqui

Title: One Touch Unchangeable.
Author: Jacqui
Rating: G
Spoilers: Late season 4, post "Who Are You?".
Disclaimer: All Buffy toys belong in Joss’ sandbox (as well as that of his other WB Lord playmates), the song belongs to Melanie C and Lisa Lopez. I own… uh… some lint and a piece of gum.
Distribution: Just ask. If it helps at all, I’m going to say yes.
Feedback: It’s like chocolate. I crave it and will beg.
Comments: Another short, silly song fic. I can’t help it, music and accompanying lyrics are a great form of inspiration. If only you knew how many songs out there I could write about.

I lie there and stare at one spot on the wall, my eyes, like every other inch of my body, stopped moving long ago. Except for, every now and again, great shuddering breaths that rip through my body like the sobs that finally ran out. I’m glad Willow is out tonight, I just don’t think I could be with another living being right now.

I’m naked under the covers and I don’t know why. All I know is that as soon as I stumbled through the door I had to be free of the day’s cloying influence, even down to the earrings I wore. I needed clean air to wash my skin. Which would have made a lot more sense had I not immediately rolled myself into the thick, heavy quilt until it almost smothered me. And I lay here now, delighting in the feel of being held safe and warm by something that doesn’t breathe, doesn’t want or need. It will give me comfort and not ask anything in return.

My belly presses hard into the mattress as I breathe in and out, my breath wafting warm and fevered across my face as it bounces back from the pillow. I have the radio on, but it’s only to drown out my own thoughts and I don’t pay it any attention. I’m too busy asking myself the same set of questions over and over again.

Is it possible? Can it really happen? How can you suddenly realize that you don’t love the person you thought you did? And how can the person who’s been the best friend of your life suddenly become so much more?

How can your life stop in its tracks, do a complete 180 degree turn and change completely all in one day?

But as I lie here now, I know that it wasn’t so sudden after all. This had been building for quite some time. I just hadn’t wanted to see it. I don’t want to now, but I keep thinking about this afternoon, about the things I’d said, about the things we’d both said and done.

I’d been standing by his window, hugging my arms tight around my waist, looking out at the campus, at all the students rushing to class, each one of them blissfully unaware of what was raging inside of me. Unfortunately, so was Riley.

He came up behind me, walking his fingers around my waist and over my stomach as his mouth came excruciatingly close to the back of my neck, blowing lightly on the sensitive skin. A move guaranteed, in the past, to make me shiver and melt backwards into him. Today, however, my body stiffened and tensed as I forced myself not to throw him off. He paused momentarily and then foolishly continued, placing his lips on the mound of bone at the base of my neck and kissing it slowly.

I couldn’t take it, my skin was crawling and there was only one way to stop it. He blinked in comical textbook confusion when I slipped out of his grasp and came to stand on the opposite side of the room. How unfair for him, the way this whole situation turned out, how cruelly unfair.

The worst part was that he would never truly understand, the real reason would never taint his memories of us together. He still believes that I had once loved him and I hope he always does. But in that instant he knew, then and there, without my saying a word, he knew what was about to happen.

How could I explain to him so that he would understand? I’d already tried, but it never came out right. That every touch between us now was tainted with her. That no matter how many times I scrubbed my skin raw under scalding hot water, I could never clean myself of her. Because she wasn’t on top of my skin.

Faith had scratched her signature under every inch of my skin, into the very nerves, and I couldn’t do a damned thing to change that. Neither could Riley, no matter what his intentions had been, or who he’d thought it was, there was nothing he could do to change the truth of what they’d done.

What they’d both done to my body.

Even if I could explain this to him so that he’d understand, he would never understand the worst part of it all. The part that makes me shudder with guilt so deep I just want to scream. I hate to admit it, even to myself, but I wasn’t upset.

I had built myself up for bone crunching pain and misery, but it never came. It was then that I realized I had never loved him, had never felt for him the things he’d admitted to feeling for me. I wanted to, though, I wanted to be as safe for him as he was for me.

And that’s all it ever was. Safety. He’d never hurt me and the main part of that was because I didn’t love him enough to give him the power to hurt me. How sad for him. How terribly selfish and cruel on my part.

It gets worse, it gets oh so worse.

I left Riley’s room in such a state that there was only one place to go. Only one person that would hear my tale and not judge me, only one person who could honestly make me feel better. Only one person that will always be there no matter how little I deserve him.

Giles let me in without a word, he always does.

Wanting reassurance, needing someone to quell your darkest thoughts about yourself, is one poor excuse to invade another’s home. Especially when you’ve spent the last few months avoiding him. It’s not enough to demand from him that he comfort you yet again, even though you know he will.

I didn’t cry, though, as I told him what had happened. His arms surrounded my shoulders, holding me to him like he always does when I’m upset. My nose was filled with his deep, mysterious, spicy scent that only belongs to him and coarse weave of his jacket brushed my cheek as I spoke. That was all I’d ever need.

A cup of tea and Giles’ arms around me as he hushed my worries and doubts. That’s all it takes to make things right.

It wasn’t until I looked up at him, into his eyes that I broke down. Instead of the disappointment I feared, the unmistakable dislike for my actions, I saw nothing but worry and love and respect. That’s when the tear finally fell.

That’s when my world fell apart.

He reached up and caught the tear on his finger, I can still feel it, so rough and callused, yet so gentle. It turned into a caress of my cheek, brushing my hair behind my ear and then his finger came to rest on my bottom lip. It just sat there.

A moment too long.

A moment longer than can be passed as only gentle concern, a moment longer than can be passed as friendship. And I don’t even know what I feel about that. All I know is that I wasn’t ready for it, that the knowledge rocked me, forced itself into my bones and every cell. And, quite possibly, I knew that I didn’t mind it.

In his face I saw everything I needed to know. I wasn’t meant to find out, I wasn’t meant to know. He never meant for me to feel this. But I knew and I’d felt it. It was something he could never take back, it was a touch unchangeable.

For the second time today, I’d found myself scrambling out of a man’s touch. Found myself running out of a man’s house and in search of respite. So I lie here now, alone and confused, wishing that I could wind back the clock and change a multitude of things.

Giles. My Giles. He is everything to me, but now I know he wants to be more, and I’m trying to decide whether I want him to be more. For the first time tonight, the radio weaves its way into my conscience and the words to the song mirror the thoughts I didn’t know I had.

"Never be the same again.
I call you up when things go wrong.
You’re always there.
you are my shoulder to cry on.

I can’t believe it took me quite so long.
To take the forbidden step.
Is this something that I might regret?

Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
A lonely heart that can’t be tamed.
I’m hoping that you feel the same.

This is something that I can’t forget.
I thought that we would just be friends.
Things will never be the same again.
It’s just the beginning it’s not the end.
Things will never be the same again.

It’s not a secret anymore.
Now we’ve opened up the door.
Starting tonight, and from now on.
We’ll never, never be the same again.

Now I know that we were close before.
I’m glad I realized I need you so much more.
And I don’t care what everyone will say.
It’s about you and me.

And we’ll never be the same again.
I thought that we would just be friends.
Things will never be the same again.
It’s just the beginning it’s not the end.
Things will never be the same again.

It’s not a secret anymore.
Now we’ve opened up the door.
Starting tonight, and from now on.

We’ll never, never be the same again.

Night and day, black beach to red clay, the US to the UK, NYC to LA. From sidewalks to highways. See, it’ll never be the same. What I’m saying, my mind frame never changed, ‘til you came and rearranged. But sometimes it seems completely forbidden. To discover those feelings that we kept so well hidden. Where there’s no competition. And you render my condition. Though improbable it’s not impossible. For a love that could be unstoppable. But wait. A fine line’s between fate and destiny. Do you believe in the things that were just meant to be? When you tell me the stories of your quest for me. Picturesque is the picture you paint effortlessly. And as our energies mix and begin to multiply. Everyday situations, they start to simplify. So things will never be the same between you and I. We intertwined our life forces and now we’re unified.

I thought that we would just be friends.
Things will never be the same again.
It’s just the beginning it’s not the end.
Things will never be the same again.
It’s not a secret anymore.

Now we’ve opened up the door.
Starting tonight, and from now on.
We’ll never, never be the same again.
Never be the same again.
Never, never be the same again."

Sitting up is easier than I thought it would be. And it takes me only a few agonizingly long minutes to throw on some clothes. I don’t even care what they are, just something to cover me. I need to get back to him. I need to tell him how I feel, too.

I need to tell him that things will never be the same, that they should never be the same. The icy air hits me when I leave the dorms. I can’t believe how late it’s gotten. The air is silent and still and it hangs heavily in its emptiness. Not even a tree rustles, there is no wind.

I can’t believe how hard it is to actually knock on his door and in the moments it takes for him to answer I wonder what he’s been doing since I left him. Has he been cursing himself for his blunder? Has he been sitting up, waiting, not knowing what he was waiting for? Has he already dismissed it and gone to bed?

It seems, today, I have the power to express myself without even opening my mouth. For when he opens the door, he knows all he needs to know and he holds out his arm. He doesn’t envelop me like he usually does, he doesn’t pull me into his embrace. He waits for me to go to him, he waits for me to choose.

And of course, I need no second invitation. I don’t wait to be pulled in, I don’t wait for him to make the move. I only wonder what took me so long to realize what was waiting for me. The only bad thing to come of this, is how I treated Riley.

I stayed with him so long because he was safe, because he didn’t have the power to hurt me, because the one person who had that power was right there under my nose. And Giles still has that power now, the total ability to crush me.

He could kill me with a word and I don’t care.