Pot Luck Kareoke
Title: Pot Luck Kareoke
Author: 'tis me, Jacqui firstname.lastname@example.org
Rating: NC-17. It started of "G", but you'll see where it went.
Pairings: A little W/T, some X/A, but mostly it's B/G goodness (I know, I was shocked too).
Disclaimer: I think we all know they're not mine. Buffy and friends belong to Joss Whedon and other WB bigwigs. The songs belong to the Dirty Dancing People (I'm too lazy to look it up), Del Amitri, Marcy Playground, Lucie Thorne, Richard Marx and Sheryl Crow respectively. Some songs had a sex-change operation, it was necessary.
Spoilers: This starts just before season four and contains a healthy dolloping of season four spoilers and such and ends somewhere in the middle to end, but not the end, so yeah. Let's just say everything and be done with it, shall we?
Comments: Yes, it's a poor excuse to add a whole heap of lyrics at once. Just read it. Ooh, um, these are <thoughts>. Some dead guy once said "If music be the food of love, play on." I agree.
Feedback: Oh, please, pretty, pretty please. I would love you forever and ever and ever…
Buffy woke to the feeling of large fingers walking themselves over her stomach, creeping under the flimsy little top of her shortie satin pajamas, the ones with the little teddy bears. Before she could open her eyes she smelled him, could feel him next to her and, like every time she woke next to him, she was amazed at the feeling. A smile teased her mouth as she lay still on her back.
The hand walked itself upwards and then flattened its palm against the skin between her breasts, pressing itself lightly into the bone. She breathed in deeply, letting the rough, callused skin feel not only the rise and fall of her chest, but the pulsing of the blood underneath and the ever quickening thud of her heart.
Large, full lips suddenly descended upon hers, thick and hungry. Now, not only could she smell him, she could taste him and she loved it. Opening her lips, she moved faster than he and plundered his mouth with her tongue, eliciting a half moan, half laugh from deep within his throat. Her hand came up to cup his neck and she lived for the scratchy feel of the yet unshaved skin, the heat of the blood that passed underneath.
"Good morning to you, too, Giles."
He kissed the end of her nose gently.
"Time to wake up."
And there he was as she opened her eyes, filling her vision, grinning down at her, just watching her. Buffy's skin grew hot with the blood that flushed to the surface. Oh, how delicious was that unashamed, hungry stare he had? She pouted.
Giles took his hand away and a sudden rush of cool air touched her skin as both his body and the blankets were taken from her. She glared at him as he stood at the foot of the bed, his eyes glistening with humor and something she'd gotten to know well over the summer.
"You are so going to regret that, Watcher Mine."
"I certainly hope so."
She growled playfully as she leapt out at him, knocking him to the ground and straddling his hips. His stomach trembled, excruciatingly erotic, against the insides of her thighs as he laughed at her. Giles let his hand rest on her legs, just at the hem of her shorts, his thumbs pushing the material upwards.
"So what's the emergency? Why do we have to get up at all?" A thought occurred to her and her eyes widened. "Shit! I have to organize the dorms today!"
Buffy made to stand up, but Giles would have none of it, holding her down by her thighs. She looked exasperatedly into his eyes, but saw no laughter there anymore. His jaw was set and his eyes had darkened with seriousness.
"Buffy? Forget about the dorms. Move in with me, please?"
A shadow flickered over her face, though she tried to hide it. Her heart had skipped a beat, painfully blocking her airways. Damn it. She knew he wouldn't let it go, not this time, he'd bring it all up again. Her fingers nervously played with the wiry hairs of his chest, her eyes watching them, unable to meet his anymore, knowing the expression that would be on his face.
"We talked about this, Giles, I just… I'm not ready to tell the others yet."
"You're ashamed of me."
"No Giles! No!" She leaned down to kiss his forehead, but he moved his head to the side, away from her. "It's not that."
"No? Then what is it, Buffy?" He shifted her off of him and sat up, running a hand through his hair. "Because I can't help feeling like the dirty little secret of the month."
"It's not like that, Giles, I swear it. It's just…" She knelt on the floor, resting on her ankles, her hands on her knees. "I'm just scared, that's all. I've never…"
"Scared?!?" There was an edge to his voice that made her flinch. "You're scared of me? What have I ever done to make you afraid of me?"
He was shaking now, Buffy could see it, his whole body was tense and bristling.
"Answer me Buffy! What have I ever done?"
Her bottom lip trembled.
"Nothing Giles, you've never done anything but make me feel safe. I swear it. It's not you… I don't know what it is…"
"Work it out."
There was something in his voice which sent a chill down her spine.
"I'm tired of playing games, Buffy, you've had three months, the whole summer, to choose. I love you, I love you more than anything else in this world, you know that, but I can't do this anymore. I refuse to hide in the shadows. It's not fair on anyone."
"Giles! Please!" She was begging him now.
"Choose!" When she didn't answer him, he closed his eyes and his whole body sagged, an expression of agony on his face. "Get out."
"No, Rupert, please." She was crying uncontrollably. "Don't do this. Giles, I can't…"
* * * *
Buffy had no idea what she was going to say. None whatsoever. She planned on a lot of groveling, much begging, definite flattery. Puppy eyes were a go. Somehow she had to get Giles back, no matter that she'd been the fool, it had all been her fault, she knew this.
The last week had opened her eyes and she was ready to eat humble pie to get him back, she wanted to tell everyone, wanted to shout it to the world. Her life without him was excruciating. College wouldn't be so bad, she knew, if she wasn't so disorientated with the loss of Giles.
The summer had been a dream, three months of stolen kisses and nights away from home. Three months of lying in his arms and listening to his light snore rumble through his chest, of smelling him and tasting him and just seeing him. It had been perfect.
Too perfect, some might say. And that's exactly what had scared her. She'd never been allowed a perfect relationship. Acknowledging it to people would just be inviting badness. At least, that was how her life supposedly ran.
Giles wouldn't let anything happen. There was no way he would, life with him would be worth anything the fates could throw at them. She had no idea why she was so frightened to tell people. It wasn't what he thought, she wasn't ashamed of him, never in a million years would she be ashamed.
If she had the courage, she'd gladly shout it from the highest rooftop, but she didn't have that kind of courage, and she didn't want to tempt the fates. Of course, she'd do all that and more now, if only he'd forgive her and take her back. She couldn't do this without him.
<I can do this, I can make it through college. I just want him. He'll make it all better, he always does. He's Giles. My Giles. He has to let me come back, doesn't he? Of course he will. Because I can't live with that Celine listening, snoring, teeth grinding, jeans ironing freak for a whole year. Not that I only want to move in with Giles to get away from her, but hey, bonus!>
She knocked lightly on the door before walking in.
"Rupert?" Said a voice. "Is this blue cheese, or just cheese that's gone blue? You're not Rupert."
<News flash, honeybunch, neither are you. >
Buffy stared at the woman in Giles' shirt. A shirt she'd worn herself. Many times. After… <don't think about that, he wouldn't… he couldn't> Buffy found herself unable to speak, unable to breathe even. Her heart felt like it was being torn in two.
When he looked at her, he didn't deny it. Didn't even try. She gave him plenty of opportunity, but he didn't deny it. His eyes dared her to call him on it, dared her to say something so that he could retort, but she didn't give in.
She knew, without knowing how, that nothing had happened between them. What hurt, what was killing her inside, was that he didn't even try to reassure her. Not once did he try to put the record straight. It wasn't what he'd done, but what he was prepared to let her believe he'd done.
<Brilliant Buff, Giles wouldn't make you write your name on your milk, but gee, it might be handy if you sew it into your underwear so that it doesn't get mixed up with his houseguests>
Buffy left with less defenses than she came with and that was exactly how Sunday found her.
* * * *
Giles stood with his back to the wall. He was hating every minute of this and, somehow deep down, he knew it would all be his fault. It always boiled down to him somehow. In his hands he held the cheap paper cup of party punch and the paper plate with a slice of cake. The fluffy sponge and sickly sweet icing lining his stomach like lead.
His eyes watched her as she mingled in the room. Laughing, pretending to laugh, smiling and chatting as her hands twisted around the arm of that boy. Giles didn't even bother to hide his jealousy and resentment from himself. The boy had what should have been his.
Things just got worse.
Buffy introduced him to her new boyfriend. Riley his name was. Big, muscle bound, nothing extremely intelligent or interesting to say. In some intangible way, Riley reminded Giles of Angel. There might not be the same amount of resentment seething inside of him for this new boy, but give it time and Giles was sure he'd be able to build up some serious hostility.
And then came the best news of all. Riley was part of the Initiative, the soldier boys he'd been researching all week. Buffy hadn't even bothered to tell him. She hadn't even seemed to know he didn't know, it didn't occur to her to tell him.
He was sorely feeling the brunt of what he'd done.
They were fools, they were both fools.
* * * *
"How did you…?"
"Your eyes. Only you…" She faltered <only you have those eyes, only you could make me lose my head just by looking at me, could make my heart stop with a glance, only you Giles, god why don't you take me back?> "Only you could look that annoyed with me."
She gravitated towards him, stopping only from touching him. It was like she wanted to reach out and run her hands over the familiar territory, to remind herself, to reassure herself that it was still there after the demon, but the thought that she'd given up that right kept pounding through her brain.
<I can't do this, I can't lose Giles, I can't do it>
* * * *
"C'mon Buff." Willow's voice rang brightly in the room. She bounced cross legged on the slayer's bed. "It's all for a good cause. We're all going in, even Giles will be there. It'll be fun."
"I can't sing." Buffy's voice floated out from the closet. "You know that."
"Like any of us can? No one expects you to cut a chart topping single, it's amateur kareoke night. All proceeds go to the new Alpha dorm."
"Yeah, but… you can't choose?"
"Nope! That's what's so fun, the songs are given at random. And there's a prize too!"
Buffy stuck her head out of the closet and glared at Willow.
"You're way too chirpy, do you know that? Ok, whatever, I'll be in it."
Willow gave a little yelping noise as she clapped her hands in delight.
* * * *
"You don't think this is too…?"
"Too what?" Willow turned to face Buffy who was adjusting her halter neck dress for the millionth time that night. Even though the night was cloudy, it was still quite warm. Her eyes narrowed as she took in Buffy's nervous, edgy movements.
"It's just that Riley said…"
Willow let out an exasperated sigh and stopped Buffy with a glare, it was obviously a subject she'd grown tired of lecturing her about. On her other side, Willow felt Tara's hand tightening slightly on hers, down by their sides, between them, and was grateful for it. They walked on ahead in silence for several moments, the breeze rustling Willow's skirt in small ripples. The quiet was loud.
"Riley talks too much anyway."
Both Willow and Buffy turned to look at Tara, their eyes wide. Then all three began to laugh with the broken tension, slowly at first, giggles escaping through tightened lips trying to restrain them, then building to a helpless volley of cackles.
"You look good, Buffy," Willow nodded to emphasize her point as they reached the campus bar. "You'll sing and you'll sound good too. Damn anyone who says otherwise."
"Yes." Buffy nodded back. "Damn them. Damn Riley too."
She walked into the already crowded bar and missed Willow's hand at the small of Tara's back, gently guiding her through the warm, pulsating crowd. There was no one on the stage, but it was clearly set for the coming night of singers. A smooth, but energetic CD was playing in the background, drowned out by a multitude of voices in a multitude of conversations.
They made their way to a table in the back, which had been conveniently secured by Xander, Anya and Giles. Xander raised his eyebrows in greeting as he titled his head back and tossed a handful of peanuts into his mouth. Anya smiled dutifully, giving a little wave before returning to the pressing task of stirring her drink with a straw.
It was Giles that Buffy noticed as she pretended not to. Tonight, as was his habit recently, he had forgone the tweed and his skin almost shone out of the black dress shirt, that heated salty skin. She pretended not to notice when his eyes lingered over her a little too long.
"Hey guys!" Willow came up behind her all of a sudden, she and Tara immediately sat down, leaving only one seat. The one next to Giles.
He caught his breath and held it. It surprised him every single time he saw her, though he knew he should be used to it by now, that she managed to find some new way to captivate him. Standing up, he pulled the other chair back for her and she looked puzzled for a moment before her face broke out into a mind stopping smile.
"Thank you, kind sir." Was he mistaken? Was there something in her eyes or was he looking too hard?
"My pleasure, milady."
The smile on Buffy's face faded as she sat down and watched her hands twisting nervously into each other on the top of the table. She hadn't failed to notice, when he'd stood up, the criminally erotic way his shirt tapered inwards down to his waist, where it was tucked into impossibly tight jeans. The man had no shame. The back of her shoulders burned with the knowledge that his hands rested on the back of her chair, inches from her skin, but not touching. She was glad when he sat down again.
Their table was small and elbows were poking where they weren't wanted, but in a way it felt right. They were close, intimate in a way they hadn't been all year. Somehow they were beginning to rethread everything that had gotten torn loose. And many things had been unwoven from their group. So many trusts shaken, so many ties severed. The only thing that marred the night, so far, was the growing sense of unease Buffy got when she felt his eyes on her.
"So, where's the beefstick boyfriend tonight?" Everyone turned to Anya with wide eyed disbelief. Everyone, that is, except Xander who managed to squeeze her thigh under the table. "What?"
"He's…" Buffy paused, rethought her words and started again. "He had other things to do."
Tara watched Giles' reaction to these words carefully. She took in his furrowed brow and the smallest hint of a sneer that formed on his upper lip, she saw the tightening of his fingers into a loose fist, before it all disappeared. When she'd first met them, Tara had been convinced that Buffy and Giles were involved, or at least had been. Willow had soon set her straight on that score, but every now and again she caught some look, some gesture, that blurred the lines again.
The night progressed quite well, with most people performing tolerably well, some better than others but nothing exceptional, which surprised no one. Without knowing which songs they'd be performing, nobody could practice. The group at their table talked quietly, gently poking fun at those whose act could not escape it, praising others generally easing a lot of the pressure that had been building recently.
She could hear their light conversations, see the laughter in their eyes, but Buffy wasn't focused. Every time she looked, which was often, it seemed Giles was looking at her. They'd come to some form of agreement, an unspoken rule that the previous summer would be forgotten. Or at least ignored. Tonight, it seemed, the rules were made to be broken.
Buffy could almost taste the tea as she watched it pass his lips, no longer strictly tea, but mingled with the subtle tastes that were him. <Bad Buffy> Even after a year, those senses flooded back to her so easily. She tried to shake it by getting lost in the night.
Xander and Anya were the first of any of them to be called, neither of which could be convinced to sing alone in public, they'd agreed to sing together. They were the only duo and, as such, the organizers had prepared a special song for the two of them.
Xander stood to the left of the little stage, red faced and edgy with terror. Anya stood to the right, her back to him, a nervous look of excitement on her face. No music played and the audience began to whisper, but then Xander spoke.
Anya looked over her shoulder at him and batted her eyelids exaggeratedly.
A few titters of laughter echoed around the room as the scenario was recognized. Buffy's chuckle was soon hidden behind her hand. Xander smiled into his audience, quickly warming to the role. His eyebrows quirked high.
"How do you call your lover boy?"
As the music swelled and the two budding stars began to sing, quickly learning to ham it up for the laughing audience that ate it up, Buffy's mind drifted elsewhere. Back to a day when, secreted away from the rest of the world, she and Giles had watched that very movie. Cuddled up to each other, their chests pressing together as if their breaths were fighting for space, their hands slow and roaming careless. Back to an intimacy and comfort she suddenly realized was missing from her life. Missing and sorely missed.
The crowd began to clap and cheer as the music died down and Xander and Anya bowed, their faces glowing before Xander had to pull Anya off the stage. Buffy was returned to reality and was startled to realize that Giles was watching her, intently. Her skin itched under his gaze and she wondered whether or not he'd been thinking of that same day.
Then Giles' name was called.
Buffy watched him talk to the organizers as the girl on stage finished her song. He looked as if he were asking them something, from their gestures and the resigned look on his face, Buffy suspected he wasn't happy with the choice of song. Her mind raced with all sorts of inappropriate possibilities and she couldn't repress her smile or the twinkle in her eyes as he came to stand at the front of the stage. He looked nervous, he looked very nervous.
There was a growing feeling of tension in her stomach and Buffy was surprised to realize she was actually nervous with him. She was really looking forward to hearing him sing. Properly. A few times she'd heard his voice over that one magical summer, but that was between them, personal and enclosed. She could still remember the warm, growling feeling it gave her deep in her belly.
As the music began to play Buffy's breath caught in her throat and before she could look away, his eyes met hers. It felt as if he was holding her gaze by force, as if he wanted her to hear this. Then his voice rose, drifting clear and powerful across the room.
"So you're in love with someone else, someone who burns within your soul? And it looks like I am the last to know. I hear you've never felt so alive, so much desire beyond control and, as usual, I am the last to know."
The crowd had gone quiet, caught by the power of his voice. He was easily the best person that had sung so far. Buffy wasn't all that surprised, she'd heard his voice, laid her hands flat on his naked chest and felt the words rumble out of him, but he'd never made her feel guilty with his voice before. She was the first to look away.
"The last to know how you're feeling, the last to know where you are, the last to know if you're happy now, or if he's treating you like I treated you, or if he's cruel. I'll be the last to know."
Her eyes flew back to him, but he was no longer watching her. He was facing the other way, yet as she scrutinized him she sensed that he was as hyper aware of her as she was of him. It was in the way his body strained to her, even when it wasn't facing her.
"We spent summers out by the bay and you said 'these are such perfect days, but if the bomb drops, baby, I wanna be the last to know.' But now you're living up beyond the hill and though we share the same city and feel the same sun, when your winter comes, I'll be the last to know."
She saw his eyes moving towards her again and quickly looked down to the glass in front of her, wishing it would swallow her whole, anything to escape this torture. Buffy nearly jumped out of her skin when she felt Willow's breath on her neck and her voice in her ear.
"Wow, he's good, huh? Did you know he could do this?"
"Little bit." She waved off Willow's questioning glance and shrugged. Her eyes and ears were trained to the figure who had caught all their attention.
"Always the last to know how you're feeling, the last to know where you are, the last to know if you're happy now, or if he's pleading with you like I pleaded with you 'if you go.' Don't let me be the last to know, don't let me be the last to know."
Though he sang to the room, his eyes always returned to Buffy, holding her gaze longer than necessary and she felt the words like arrows, aimed directly at her. And definitely hitting their target.
"Creation's gone crazy, that ain't so, but everything's gone mad, that ain't so, but you're the only sane thing that I had."
Tara hadn't missed any of this, her mind raced with this new information. A small hand rested on the flesh of her upper arm and warmth radiated from the careless touch. She gave Willow a secret smile and thought to herself that people only really saw what they wanted to see. As she raised her eyes across the table, she saw Anya's eyes flicker between Buffy and Giles and then to her. They both had to stifle their giggles.
Maybe Willow and Xander were too close to the situation to see what was really there.
"Always the last to know how you're feeling, the last to know where you are, the last to know if you're happy now, or if he's cheating on you like I cheated on you." Buffy wondered whether anyone else had noticed the little catch in his voice. "You were the last to know, you were the last to know, please don't let me be the last to know."
Not surprisingly, Giles left the stage to cheers and clapping. He came back to the table just in time for Willow to get up. She managed to kiss him lightly on the cheek and congratulate him before nervously approaching her orders.
"Hey G-man, you got something you want to share? What else have you been hiding, can you juggle too?"
"Hmm?" Giles wasn't paying attention, he was focused on Buffy, who tried to smile as she nodded slightly at him. The fact that she hadn't walked out already was a relief, though he could see that she was trembling.
"It's a pity you can't sing, Buff," Xander continued on, regardless. "You could be the first singing Watcher/Slayer duo in history. Might be fun, think of all the sing'n'slay parties you could have and why are you all looking at me like that?"
Even Anya looked as though she couldn't believe what he'd just said. Any further comment was silenced when Willow stepped up to take her place. Her face was deathly white and her eyes looked wide and frightened, but as she looked over to the table she saw them all grinning at her and she seemed to melt into the music.
"A cloaking robe of elvenkind hangs in my wardrobe behind all those things that mother said were proper for a girl. And I know I could not say why on this summer evening sixteen books on magic spells stacked beneath the cloak of elves and sixteen books on magic spells so elegantly bound."
Buffy leaned forward, a dreamy smile on her face. She was musing over the fact that Willow had changed so much, for the better, in the last few months. When she'd first met her, Willow was introverted, shy and so easily afraid. That Willow would never have gotten up and done this. Even the newly confident Willow who had graduated high school wouldn't have gotten up. She had come into her own and college was definitely good for her.
Her hand brushed against something on the table and she gasped when she realized it was Giles' hand. Pulling back sharply, she regretted it immediately. All eyes turned towards her, questioning, and she covered by chewing on the corner of her thumb,
"Hang nail." She shrugged, everyone turned back to the stage, but Buffy found herself haunted by the hurt look she'd seen in Giles' eyes. She stood up. "I… I have to go."
"Buffy…" He sounded so disapproving, so disappointed, that she had to smile as she gestured to the corner of the stage.
"That's my number, I have to go get my song."
Giles watched her talk to the organizers, her face smoothed out into laughter and her shoulders shook with it, but it wasn't a happy laugh. It was more a disbelieving laugh, as if she couldn't believe her bad luck. He knew how nervous she was, could read it in every gesture. That was something he missed, being able to read her, to sense exactly what she was feeling and thinking by one little movement of her neck or tilt of the head. It had been a while since he was allowed that luxury.
"I can't believe I did that!" Willow was red faced and gushing as she rushed back to her seat.
They all congratulated her, Giles too, but he was distracted, watching Buffy walk to the front of the stage, biting her lip all the while. This was something, he knew, she feared a great deal. Never one to back away from a challenge, Buffy was someone who excelled in private, preferring to attempt the hardest things alone. Failure was not something she liked to share.
As the music began, he recognized the notes and immediately relaxed. She would be fine. This was not a song that relied on the voice, but the emotion behind the voice. It wouldn't require a great amount of talent, just that she meant what she was singing.
Her eyes met his and he recalled in an instant the exact words she would be singing. He wasn't sure, but it felt as if his heart would explode with the sudden need for oxygen. Buffy nodded to him again, then lifted her chin slightly into the air. Her words, when they came, were strong. Not clear, but definitely having an impact.
" Well I'm thinking of another and I want to be his lover and I hope that it will happen sometime. But it's good to have a lover, share in passion with another, that's the way it's good sometimes." He watched with interest as she looked across the room and her eyes focused on something in the distance, her throat seemed to close up, then she took the words again.
"I don't love him and he don't mind, that's the way it's good sometimes. He don't love me and I don't mind, that's the way it's good sometimes."
Giles turned to see Riley standing near the door, surrounded by his Initiative friends, his eyes focused intently on Buffy, a sadness to them as if he were registering the words too, but there was a slight hint of belligerence there as well. It made Giles want to hit him.
"His heart is with another and he cannot help but love her and he hopes that it will happen sometime." Giles couldn't be sure, but it seemed that if he looked really hard, he could see the slightest trace of a tear in Buffy's eye. Or maybe it was just the lights.
"But it's good to have a lover, share in passion with another, that's the way it's good sometimes. I don't love him and he don't mind, that's the way it's good sometimes. He don't love me and I don't mind, that's the way it's good sometimes. It's good."
Applause broke the silence that followed, there were a few cheers, but it was quiet appreciation that followed her off the stage. When she got back to the table, her eyes were glistening and her face was stretched into blankness, as if she were trying to stop an overload of expressions. She sat down with a thud and rested her head in her hands, leaning on the table.
"It's over." She mumbled. The others looked blankly, not sure what she was talking about, but Giles rested a hand on the back of her neck and massaged the skin there. She didn't push him away. "I knew it was coming, but it's so final."
They didn't know what she meant until Xander followed Giles' stare, more of a glare really, across the room to where Riley stood. He was pretending to laugh with his friends, but it wasn't very convincing, his eyes were glued to the little group.
"That bastard." Xander said the words like they tasted bad. "I thought he had better things to do tonight."
"He did." Buffy drew herself up and wiped the tears from her eyes, resolute to show no emotion. If Riley could play that game, then so could she. "It just wasn't with me."
"Innocent face? Ha! He's… he's…" Willow struggled to come up with an appropriate term to express her outrage. She sighed and relented. "Very bad."
Tara gave Willow an encouraging smile, she found it adorable when Willow did that. She also found it interesting that Giles still had his hand on the back of Buffy's neck and neither seemed to think anything unusual about it. His touch was intimate, knowing instinctively her pressure points.
"I guess," Giles was eager to change the subject, knowing that talking about it would only draw the wound out more. He suddenly became aware of the intimacy with which he was stroking the back of Buffy's neck and how it must look to the others. He gave a little squeeze and then drew his hand away. "that only leaves you, now, Tara."
"Oh no." Tara shook her head back and forth, letting her hair fall in front of her face like a curtain. "Not me. I… I made a donation."
"Yup." Willow piped up. "A sing free donation."
The night continued with no more dramas, but the tension returned. The easy way with which they'd all been together somehow became divided groups, though without hostility there was a definite separation. Anya and Xander, Willow and Tara, and earning the most strange looks were Buffy and Giles.
It was not long before the acts were done, several people in white shirts and little black ties tied in a bow at their necks, went from table to table, collecting the votes that would determine the winner. Eyes followed them around the room, eagerly looking for some hint that would give anything away.
The evening's hostess eventually came to the stage, announcing that they had raised more than enough to rebuild the alpha dorm. Her black hair hanging straight in a razor sharp bob against her cheek, she smiled as she awarded third prize to Xander and Anya, second to a guy from Willow's biology class.
The tension had been bled out of the room, there would really be no surprise as to who had won. Nobody had sung as well as Giles, nobody had caught the audience's attention quite so much. Buffy gave Giles' hand a squeeze and smiled at him in congratulations as Xander and Anya cooed to each other over their dinner for two prize.
"Well," Came the voice from the stage. "This is a first. It seems, folks, that there's a draw. When this happens, there's only one thing to do, get them both back on stage for…"
She drew the last word out, a flush of red infusing her cheeks as the audience answered enthusiastically.
"Welcome back to the stage, Rupert Giles and Buffy Summers!"
Buffy was stunned, she could barely believe it. There was no way she'd been anywhere near as good as Giles. She noticed that he had stood up and was waiting for her, she also noticed that every pair of eyes in the room had turned to watch them.
They walked to the stage together, though it seemed to Buffy that Giles felt none of the nervousness that plagued her every breath. Singing one song, just like everybody else, that had been one thing. It hadn't mattered that she couldn't sing. Now, she sighed, now they all expected her to be good. It was too much like a performance than she cared to admit. She hoped that whatever song they gave her, it wouldn't be too hard.
As it turned out, seeing that this was their repeat performances, vying for first place, they were allowed to pick their own songs. Buffy was only slightly relieved. Giles, however, felt a growing surge of excitement. The whole night had been like a game. A back and forth swapping of voices. And up until now, it had all been random luck.
Now they were to choose their own songs. If anything were to be resolved tonight, it would be the next few moments that would decide. He stared at the list of choices offered him with an intensity he rarely knew, when his eyes flicked over to Buffy, he saw her frantically searching the list in her own hands, and smiled. She knew it too, she'd agreed to play the game.
Giles walked to the front of the stage, his ears tuned to the silence that hung below the conversation and superficial noises, waiting for the first strains of music to orientate him to the song. He couldn't ever remember being this nervous about singing before. Behind him, though he couldn't see her, he felt Buffy. Not just her eyes, which seared the back of his head, but her whole self, and he knew she was attuned to him as well.
"Oceans apart, day after day, and I slowly go insane. I hear your voice, on the line, but it doesn't stop the pain, if I see you next to never, how can we say forever? Wherever you go, whatever you do, I will be right here waiting for you. Whatever it takes, or how my heart breaks, I will be right here waiting for you."
Again his voice sliced through the air, strong and clear and catching everybody's attention.
"I took for granted all the times, that I thought would last somehow. I hear the laughter, I taste the tears, but I can't get near you now. Oh can't you see it, baby? You've got me going crazy. Wherever you go, whatever you do, I will be right here waiting for you. Whatever it takes, or how my heart breaks, I will be right here waiting for you."
He couldn't help himself, he had to turn around, even for just a second. She was staring at him, her lower lip hanging open slightly, tears forming in her eyes. She nodded to him and he turned back to the room.
"I wonder how we can survive this romance, but if the end if I'm with you, I stand a chance. Oh can't you see it baby? You've got me going crazy. Wherever you go, whatever you do, I will be right here waiting for you. Whatever it takes, or how my heart breaks, I will be right here waiting for you."
Buffy sighed as he began to fade out. It sounded as if the words hurt him as they left his throat. When he walked past her, she saw the sweat on his brow, it shone under the lights. Her hand brushed his arm as she stepped up to the stage.
Giles breathed heavily as he watched her, he was used to singing in public, it didn't bother him, but he'd never put so much emotion behind it before. There had been times when he'd mustered up the feeling, but it had never brewed within him so easily and erupted with such force.
Buffy was nervous. More nervous than she could remember. Her heart was racing, beating at such a pace that she was convinced everyone else could hear it and knew the reason. She was sure that everyone in the room knew what was going on, that they'd all guessed by now. Then it occurred to her, she didn't care. It really didn't matter to her whether or not people knew about her and Giles. What mattered, what counted, was what happened after here.
She closed her eyes and let the room disappear. Behind her lids the rushing of her blood cells created a dark red pattern that melted into itself and she stopped thinking about having to sing and started to think about Giles. About the times she'd spent with him, about the times she'd spent away from him. About the coldest nights when the only thing to keep her from crying was to break through those boundaries with someone else, to push him away with the only person she could.
When the string arrangement began to sing, Buffy was ready.
"I spent a year in the mouth of a whale with a flame and a book of signs. You'll never know how hard I failed, trying to make up for lost time. Once I believed in things unseen, I was blinded by the dark. Out of the multitude to me he came and stole my heart."
Her voice was not the best, she knew, but it was strong and clear, holding the words steady. She no longer cared about the prize. When she opened her eyes she was almost surprised to see so many people looking back at her.
"When the dust in the fields has flown and the youngest of hearts has grown, and you doubt you will ever be free, honey, don't bail on me, don't bail on me. The river is wide and oh so deep and it winds and winds around. I dream we're happy in my sleep, floating down and down and down and the tide rushes past where we stand, the earth at our feet turns to sand and we're waiting for someone to see, honey, don't bail on me."
In the corner of her eye, Buffy saw Giles walking around the back of the room, not drawing attention to himself, but getting a better look. He could barely take his eyes off the stage to look where he was going. It was magical, she realized, to be able to look at him that way again. To be able to let her eyes wander where they had previously been denied. To know that he was looking at her the same way too.
"Tell Ma I loved a man, even though I turned him down. Lovely and fine I could have been, laying down in the palm of his hand, laying down in the palm of his hand, laying down in the palm of his hand. Staying down in the palm of his hand. In the morning we wait for the sun and secretly hope it won't come, but time washes everyone clean, honey, don't bail on me."
Even before she'd finished singing, Buffy had seen the entrance door open and close, admitting a very sore and sorry looking Spike, the blood already beginning to dry and crust on the side of his head. She bowed quickly, smiling a false smile to the crowd, and ran off the stage.
By the time she'd reached him, Spike had already made his way to Giles and was telling him a tale of vampire gangs. He needed, he said, the Slayer. Giles looked doubtful. Buffy sighed. Even though she trusted Spike about as far as she could throw him, there was nothing to do but go.
Her hand rested on the side of Giles' waist as she leaned forward into him, placing her mouth right next to his ear.
"Tell the others I had to go, pressing business. Can I come by your place later?"
He gulped and managed to nod. The feel of her fingers hot against his stomach and side, even after she'd pulled them away and he'd stood still watching her rush out the door. He couldn't help but laugh to himself when he saw Buffy's hand come up and slap the back of Spike's head. It didn't help when he heard the faintest echo of 'ow! Watch it, Slater!'
* * * *
They watched Giles as he walked out of the club moments after Buffy. Taking the time only to come to the table, collect his and Buffy's things, Giles had murmured something about trouble and having to leave.
"Poor Buffy and Giles." Willow sighed absently. "Something always comes up."
"Yeah," Agreed Xander sympathetically. "They didn't even get to hear who won."
Anya giggled, but covered it up and made her face deliberately blank when Xander and Willow looked at her questioningly. It lasted all of about ten seconds and then she couldn't resist herself, managing to speak through her laughter.
"I think they both won tonight."
"I think it's sweet they're back together." Tara sighed. "They make a good couple."
"Oh no." Willow rushed to correct her. "I told you, Buffy and Giles were never a couple."
"I bet he went after her so they could have lots and lots of orgasms."
Xander coughed suddenly and loudly.
"Bad, bad visual, Anya." He shivered. "Bad."
* * * *
Giles paced the room. On the table sat a glass half full of whisky, a book that had been picked up, flicked though and set aside and his glasses. There was no way he could concentrate on anything. He was sure she'd meant what he thought she'd meant.
The small knock at the door almost startled him.
Buffy edged her way past him into the apartment. Her arms were hugging herself tightly and she seemed just as nervous as he was as she shrugged out of her jacket. When he turned around after closing the door, she did not step back. They stood like that for several moments.
"How was patrol?" His hand came up to brush at the few wisps of hair that had come loose and were curling around her ear. "Did you find anything?"
"Vampires." She lifted a hand to his shoulder, but stopped inches short of actually touching him, running her hand down his arm without making contact. "I killed them."
"That's good." He looked at her.
"Yes." She looked at him.
Without a sign from either of them, they both jerked forward and threw themselves into a deep, hungry kiss. It had been months since either of them had dreamed of being this close, no matter how much they'd hungered for it, neither had let themselves get lost in the fantasy. Until now.
Her arms came up to clutch the back of his head, drawing him closer, allowing her to deepen the kiss. His hand came up to cup her breast through the dress, his thumb brushing lightly over her nipple. Then Giles heard it.
Buffy gave a little unconscious whimper, almost a plea. He looked at her face, taking in the flushed skin, the shallow uneven breaths, the glassy eyes that pleaded and begged, the lush little mouth with the bottom lip that was pushed open slightly by the little pink tongue that rested there.
She had no idea how erotic she was. Giles could see that she felt the same hungry need. There was time enough, they had their whole future for little kindnesses and tenderness. Loving caresses and gentle whispers. They both needed now.
He kept his hand just below her breast and brought his other hand to her hip, without warning he began to thrust her backwards. Buffy groaned as she pedaled her feet backwards, her breaths coming quick. The wall slammed into her back, connecting with her shoulders and the small of her back.
She bounced off, falling forward and into Giles, her whole body pressing into his. She raised both her arms again, clasping his head and bringing her mouth to his, sucking out his hot breath as she felt herself being jammed between the wall and Giles.
Never in her whole life had she wanted anyone so close to her before, it was as if he could never be as close as she needed. Her hands tried to pull him even nearer, she wanted to pull him through her so that he felt the wall too.
Giles broke contact with her mouth and began to suck at the skin at the side of her neck, feeling the vein bulge and contract with her quickened pulse. His hand slipped from her hip to her thigh, roughly pinning it, brushing the sensitive skin cruelly with his thumb.
Her hands ran down the front of his chest, pulling at the buttons on his shirt, clawing at them, desperately trying to get them undone, to pull the cloth from his skin. She wanted to feel his chest again, to thread her fingers through the wiry hairs she knew were there.
He lowered his head, bringing his lips to the bones of her shoulders, grazing them with his teeth. The hand at her breasts cupped, kneaded, shaped bringing her nipples to taut submission, while the hand at her thigh reached around and dragged it upwards against his hip.
Buffy's dress bunched up around her waist as she rolled her leg outwards, giving his insistent hand easier access. She left his shirt hanging open as she brought his head back up to hers, claiming his lips as her own as she braced herself against the wall to lift her other leg against him, climbing his torso.
Giles groaned into her mouth as his hand fumbled at the small triangle of cloth in his way, she gave a breathy giggle as he eventually ripped her panties off. She dipped her head to suck at the skin of his neck, her hands reaching in under his open shirt, cupping his sides as her thumbs reached around the front of him, brushing the sensitive skin of his chest. Her legs rolled outwards as she pressed against him.
Buffy's hands fell greedily to the waistband of his jeans, clumsily fumbling at the top button, her throat grumbling in a frustrated growl when she had to try three times to get it undone. The friction caused Giles to moan loudly.
To feel her, to bruise her, to cover every inch of her skin with his own, felt like the only important thing at that moment, he couldn't think past it. Giles grabbed both her hands and drew them above her head, keeping her immobile as he took her mouth into his possession, forcing his tongue between her lips, pushing it over her teeth and around her own tongue.
She whimpered as she thrust her hips forward, her feet pedaling fast at the back of his legs, pushing the jeans down. It was too much, she'd waited too long. Buffy could only growl when Giles took both her hands in one of his own and let the other fall diagonally against her stomach, pressing her to the wall so tightly she could not move.
At first he moved slowly, nudging her open, drawing it out as she begged him to go faster. Soon, however, he was thrusting fast and deep, taking as much as he could as quickly as he could. His mouth left hers and he buried it in the crook of her elbow.
As Giles rolled his hips at the end of each thrust, causing her to tighten and tense, Buffy felt his tongue nudge itself between the crevasses of sensitive skin inside her elbow, she nearly lost it then and there. Instead she leant forward as far as she could and sealed her mouth over his neck, sucking the sweat and after shave.
"I…" She gritted between her teeth. "… can't…" Buffy pulled her hands down, twisting her shoulders awkwardly so that his arms weren't ripped out of their sockets as she forced them down. "… wait."
Suddenly her hands were all over him again, pulling the shirt violently from his back and throwing it to the side. A laugh welled up in his chest at her frustration and he thrust towards her, backing away at the last moment.
"You are so gonna pay for that, Mister."
Buffy found her waist attacked by his hands, she felt the material of her dress being pulled upwards, roughly, over the skin of her breasts and past her head. Cool air caressed her naked body, only to be replaced by the heat of his mouth.
He lifted her up and began to walk towards the stairs, reveling in the feel of her hands at his back, making trials of fire with her fingers, pressing into all the sensitive points. What he hadn't planned on, was tripping over the pants around his ankles. They both went sprawling.
She laughed as she managed to crawl out from under him and run up the stairs.
"You can't catch me!"
"That…" Giles viciously tore one pant leg over his shoe, pulling his foot free. "…sounds…" He fumbled with the other leg. "… like a challenge!"
He ran up after her, suddenly free of all clothing.
* * * *
Willow knocked on the door and turned to face the group, the morning sun making her eyes crinkle.
"We'll ask Giles, he'll know what happened."
Xander nodded emphatically.
"Yeah," Said Anya. "I bet he knows what happened. Over and over again."
Xander's nods turned vigorous shakes of the head.
"No." Willow glared. "Stop that."
"You." Tara paused, as if rethinking speaking at all, then continued. "You said yourself, Buffy didn't come home last night."
"Which is why we should be worried. Not high fiving each other like boys in a locker room." She glared at Tara and Anya.
There was no answer, even after repeated knocking. Suddenly they were all nervous. If Giles wasn't to be found either, then something was definitely wrong. Willow grabbed the key from the little pot plant near the door and let herself in.
She stopped five steps into the house. Xander barreled into her, he stopped asking what was the matter when he saw the same thing she saw. Clothes. Lots of clothes. Spread over the room. There was no mistaking, they were the same clothes as both Buffy and Giles had been wearing the night before.
"Should we tell them," Anya held up the remains of Buffy's panties, Xander reddened and turned away, choking. "that they both won last night?"