AUTHOR: Gabriele Schulz
DISTRIBUTION: The New Buffy/Giles Relationshippers, A Watcher's love. Others please ask first.
SPOILERS: through Graduation II
FEEDBACK: I'd be thrilled. (Thanks for not flaming ;-)
SUMMARY: Buffy asks Giles, if he loves her, and gets an answer to another question as well. B/G
DISCLAIMER: The characters are the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, Sandollar Productions, Kuzui Enterprises, 20th Century Fox Television, the WB Television Network, and whoever else may have a hold on them. I do not mean to infringe upon any copyrights.
NOTE: This was better, when it was still in my head and I have to say, I am not satisfied with the way it turned out. But here it is for those of you, who cannot get enough.
DATE: 6/2/99

Xander, Willow and Oz had just left, so she was sitting alone with Giles in his home, while he did some research and she - well, she sat on a chair, a book in her lap, not even pretending to read it. She missed the library. It had been their place, their headquarters against evil so to speak. And Giles' house, now crammed with books in any possible and impossible place was not really an adequate replacement. Plus it wasn't Giles' place anymore, but theirs. Now he couldn't even go home to relax or just be away from them. Not that he has complained.

She looked away from the pile of books next to her chair to the sofa where he was sitting. He was watching her and now quickly looked back into the book before him. Caught him again. She usually didn't. Most of the time she just felt him watch her. But that more and more frequently. She remembered the first time she has seen it in his eyes. After he had been fired for loving her - like a father. It hadn't been a father's love she had seen in his eyes. But she had dismissed the thought immediately. But that look had returned and every time she had seen it, she had wondered whether it was real or if she just imagined it. Not that it mattered. She knew that he would never tell her that he loved her or do anything that would risk the relationship they had. And even if he did tell her it wouldn't matter, because he would still be her friend. If Xander had managed that, Giles could do it, too. So she had just left it at that. But now as she watched him concentrating on the book he was reading, she wanted to know.

"Do you love me?"

His grip on the book intensified and she could see that he stopped reading although he did not look up. When he did look up, he smiled artificially, the answer supposed to sound like the most natural thing in the world.

"Buffy, you know that you are quite dear to me and I-I guess you could call it... love."

The look on his face betrayed his words. The way he loved her (*not* like a father, friend or mentor) was clearly visible. And he knew that she saw it. She felt bad. The look was full of pain.

"I'm sorry."

His face changed immediately to surprise and compassion.

"Don't be!"

She was surprised at the vehemence of his words.

"Loving you is... not painful to me. At least most of the time. I usually am quite content loving you."

He smiled at her, assuringly.

She thought about what it had been like to love Angel. Content was definetly not one of the words she would use to describe her feelings. (At least not after that fateful day.) And yet his smile told her that he was telling the truth. She was a little envious, but then realized that even if it didn't hurt most of the time, he too had to have moments of pain and desperation - because of her.

But he smiled even more brightly than before.

"I know that's probably difficult to understand, but that's the way I feel. I stopped expecting anything from life a while ago and now I am actually happy, knowing that I am a part of your life, not only yours, but also Willow's and Oz' and yes even Xander's."

She returned his smile.

"But most of all I live on the knowledge that you love me, too, even if it is 'only' like a daughter or a friend."

He looked at her and added.

"You do love me, don't you? I mean... in some way."

The fear in his eyes prompted her to quickly answer.

"Yes, yes. I do love you. I love you... I love you... I don't know how I love you but I do."

He smiled and went on reading.

She was confused. Wasn't it that *he* had just admitted to loving *her*? Why was he smiling so happily while she felt... She didn't know how she felt - except confused. How did she love him? She had never spent much time thinking about that. She loved, had loved, whatever, Angel as a man, Xander as a friend, but Giles? Of course she loved him as a friend, but there was more. There was a bond between them that went beyond what she felt for Xander or even Willow. She had thought that it was, because he was her Watcher, but that was only a title, he had lost a while ago. She looked at him, reading his book, a smile on his face, that was nearly a grin. Why was he so happy?

As if he had heard her he looked up.

"I'm sorry, I can't stop smiling. It's just that this was not nearly as painful as I thought it would be, actually it wasn't painful at all. And I guess I'm a little 'high' on the fact that you love me. Even though my mind knows, that it doesn't mean, what I wish it meant, my heart is just happy that it... heard the words aloud. Oh God, I'm rambling. I'm sorry. It's just so different to hear you say it. Can you understand that?"

"I think so."

He nodded and wanted to proceed with his research, when he heard her voice again.

"Can you say it for me?"

He looked at her. Buffy had no idea, why she had asked him, but it was too late. He spoke, his words calm and sincere.

"I love you, Buffy."

A shiver went through her body. God, what was happening with her. A feeling of warmth spread from her stomach to fill her whole body. She was afraid now. She stood up, her knees shaking. She took two steps, and then went on to leave when his worried "Buffy" stopped her. She turned around, looked at him and then walked until she stood next to the couch. Then she bent down and kissed him. When he didn't react she moved her hands into his hair and increased the motions of her lips to coax a response. She had to know. If it could be... Did she love him, too?

And then he did respond, kissing her back and she felt as if her whole body would melt away. When they came up for air she looked into his face, that seemed to ask, what exactly had just happened.

She walked past him at let herself fall on the couch next to him, but not very close. She was flabbergasted. All those time she had never ever considered that she could return his feelings. But the feeling in her stomach told her that she did. Wow. She looked at him, his face a mixture of worry, confusion and hope.

"Could you read something to me?"

"Eh, yes, of course."

He took the book in front of him and started reading.

She didn't listen to the words only to the sound of his voice. How soothing that was. She felt herself relax. Her heart was returning to its normal rhythm as did her breathing. She loved Giles. A simple fact and yet so amazing. She wondered when it had happened. It must have happened before today, but she couldn't say when. Maybe it was impossible to tell. Maybe it had just happened along the way, without a single point in time when it had stopped being the love of a daughter, Slayer, friend and had begun being the love it was now. But in the end it didn't matter. She was sitting next to the man she loved and who loved her and she suddenly felt a peacefulness she hadn't felt since... she couldn't remember having felt so at peace at all in her life. Certainly not after she had found out about her calling and after she had come to terms with being a slayer there had always been Angel. Now Angel had left and for the first time in her grown-up life she felt that things not only *could* but *would* be all right. And she didn't mean happiness. She knew that Giles would make her happy, so happy in fact that she probably couldn't imagine it right now, but happy was never something you could constantly be. She knew that much about life. Happiness came and went, sometimes more often and more powerfully than other times, but what was important, was how you felt, when happiness was not present. With Angel it used to be insecurity and longing and after he had returned from hell the pain of what they never could be had been added. But with Giles, she realized, things would be different. There would be happiness and if there wasn't she would always return to that peace that filled her now.

She would tell him that she loved him, she would kiss him and touch him, she would make love to him and be happy, but right now she enjoyed just sitting next to him and listening to his voice, grateful for her new found love and for the prospect of a life of contentment. And most of all enjoying the peace inside her.