Only A Song
By Ophelia

TITLE: Only A Song
AUTHOR: Ophelia
CONTENT: Buffy makes a discovery when she pays a visit to Giles
RATING: PG, I think.
SPOILER WARNING: Takes place in 4th season, refers to new character, but no specific spoilers.
DISCLAIMER: I do not own these characters, Joss Whedon, WB, Fox, Mutant Enemy etc. do. The song is called Into The Fire, and it's by Bruce Springsteen.
DISTRIBUTION: Please ask first.
FEEDBACK: If you liked it or hated it, so long as you read it, please send feedback!

Buffy knocked tentatively on Giles' door but the music seeping through was fairly loud and she doubted he had heard her. He wouldn't be expecting her; generally she called before coming over after the Olivia thing, and usually she'd be out at the Bronze or some other venue at ths time of the evening, partying with her friends. But she'd told Willow she couldn't go tonight, claiming she had a paper to write. Instead she was here outside Giles' apartment and all because she'd suddenly developed a burning desire to see her Watcher. She raised her hand to knock again and then dropped it. She turned to go but instead reached into her pocket for the key Giles had given her, in case of emergencies. She had a bad feeling. That, given that she was the Slayer, was very likely an emergency.

Giles paced through his flat, barely hearing the Springsteen pounding from his speakers. He felt an overwhelming urge to think things through, and since he also felt an equally overwhelming urge not to find out exactly where the thoughts that had been taunting him for the past three weeks were leading, he'd dug out some of his old records, playing them loud enough that serious thought wasn't an option. But three years of Buffy's 'music' had conditioned him to be able to think even through this noise level and as a result he was tenser than ever from trying to think about nothing.

His tension came from the fact that the revelation pressing up into his conscious undoubtably had something to do with the very vivid dreams he'd been having concerning Buffy, his Buffy, and the most amazing things she could do with her tongue. But he was old enough to be her father, he was her Watcher, and that meant he didn't get to think of her that way. < Tough luck Ripper > he thought. < You'll just have to pick a new object of fantasy. Someone more suitable... less innocent... less perfect. Someone other than my adored Goddess... >

'Damn!' Giles said, as he finally realised where his fantasies had come from. He wasn't fantasising about Buffy because he hadn't had sex in years, but because he loved her. Deeply. And he realised that now, although he knew he'd be happier if he'd never figured that out. Loving Buffy could never lead anywhere, for a multitude of reasons, not least because she would never feel the same way about him.

He loved her beauty and her wit and her fire. He loved her strength and her vulnerability and her bravery. He loved her stunning maturity and her endearing innocence. He loved the way she brought a light all of her own with her wherever she went, and he loved the way darkness wrapped her in its silken jaws... keeping her safe, because she belonged to it as surely as she belonged to the light. He loved that she was all about opposites, and yet so perfectly balanced.

He loved his Slayer, his Buffy.

And now that he knew the knowledge would torture him as long as he lived, because he could never tell her. Never have her look at him, with his desire mirrored in her alluring hazel eyes. Never have her.

'Damn it all!' he exploded, resisting the urge to kick the couch.

He never heard Buffy's soft knock, or the sound of her key turning in the lock. And he never saw the door swing open. And he also didn't hear the next song clearly. But Buffy did.

*Hey little girl is your daddy home

*Did he go away and leave you all alone

*I got a bad desire

*I'm on fire

She stepped further in, closing the door soundlessly behind her, smiling to herself at the words. Yeah, her daddy *had* left her, and she was so very alone, especially now that Angel was so far away. So very sad and tired, afraid and lonely.

But Giles didn't know that. This was just a song. But for a moment it had felt as if Giles had seen right into her soul, seen the secret places she tried so hard to hide. She hated to think that she, the one born to protect others, needed any help herself. That the Vampire Slayer had to fight to keep the tears inside. She didn't want to burden anyone with her pain, the pain that was still so raw and malevolent, tearing her slowly apart inside.

If Giles had guessed and offered his help, his comfort... but it was only a song.

And as for the rest? 'A bad desire'? Giles, desiring her? Yeah, that was likely.

*Tell me now baby is he good to you

*Can he do to you the things that I do

*I can take you higher

*I'm on fire

She smiled wistfully, wishing for an instant that Giles would turn around and say to her, Yes, Buffy. I can take you higher, so high that you'll forget all about Angel and his cold, dead hands, hands that can arouse so much passion and need in you. Hands that won't ever again make you wish you were dead just because you can't bear the absolute pleasure they're bringing you. Hands that are miles away, hands that don't belong to you, not anymore.

She tried so hard to hold back the first tear, but the next lines seemed to rip something free inside her, breaking down the walls she's built so high and so carefully.

*Sometimes it's like someone took a knife baby

* edgy and dull and cut a six-inch valley through

* the middle of my skull

Giles finally heard something over the music and turned. The sight that met his eyes near beggared belief. Buffy Summers, Vampire Slayer, standing on his carpet crying as if the world were ending. Instinctively, he knew that all the pain she'd been holding inside for so long had finally broken free, and though it killed him to see her unhappy, he was glad it had happened at last. Dealing with instead of simply avoiding the hurt would be good for her.

He stepped towards her, and soon she was enveloped in his arms, warm and soft and trembling.

'Shh, Buffy. Let it all out,' he murmured into her ear.

*At night I wake up with the sheets soaking wet

* and a freight train running though the middle

* of my head

As she sobbed into his shirt front, he raised his head and listened to the song playing. 'I'm on Fire.' It seemed bizarrely appropriate, given the lyrics, as he recalled. 'Bad desire' indeed. Then a thought occurred to him, what if Buffy thought he was playing it because of his feelings for her? He dismissed it; to her, it was only a song.

*Only you can cool my desire

*I'm on fire

Giles held her tighter, and she gratefully sank into his comfortable embrace. < If only it were more than a song > Buffy thought. < If only Giles really wanted me that way > The thought surprised her, but as she considered it she realised that she loved Giles. Had for so long it was practically second nature to her now.

But there was something more than affection and gratefulness. There was desire. There was yearning and passion, and craving and longing. She wanted Giles to want her, to hold her with more than fatherly affection. To look into her eyes and reveal not tenderness, but lust.

She sighed, her tears dried up for now. There would be more later, when she could handle the emotional upheaval, but now she was done. The first steps had been taken.

She pulled out of his arms reluctantly, her head automatically adjusting to give her a view of his face as she said, 'Giles, I'm sorry about this.'

But what exactly 'this' was, she never said.

Instead, she caught the full force of Giles' desire, not yet hidden. He'd only just realised it, and had had no time to raise his shields.

She gasped and Giles stepped back, heartbroken. He'd lost her now, how could she ever trust him or confide in him again now she knew just what a low creature he was?

Buffy saw the shades drop down over Giles' eyes, his true self hidden from her once more, but she'd seen enough. Her heart sang with the knowledge - Giles loved her, wanted her, needed her?

And she moved closer to him, reaching out to grab his hand.

'Do you burn, Giles?' she asked softly.

He caught the reference to the song immediately, and could barely refrain from pulling her into his arm and showering her with kisses. Did her words mean what he thought they did - what he *hoped* they did?

'Intensely,' he replied, hardly daring to breathe as the woman of his dreams glided closer still to him, till he could almost touch her.

'Does it hurt?' she asked, with a child's curiosity.

'No, Buffy. Loving you could never hurt.'

She smiled delightedly, and took the final step, enfolding his hand with hers. 'I'm glad, Giles. The last thing I would ever want is to hurt you.' She smiled impishly.

'You wanna let me see if I could cool you down?' she offered, her heart poised on the edge. One word from him would seal her fate, one word from him could destroy her. And one word from him could resurrect her.

'I don't think anything could cool my desire for you, Buffy,' he said hoarsely, and the glow that spread over her cheeks was all the thanks he needed.

'Come to bed, lover?' she entreated him, tugging him gently over to the stairs.

'Gladly,' he replied, letting his beautiful young goddess lead him to heaven.