Of Scars and Nightmares
By Arkin

TITLE: Of Scars and Nightmares
AUTHOR: Arkin
E-MAIL: arkina@trendline.co.il
RATING: PG-13
FEEDBACK: Yes please!
DISTRIBUTION: The New Buffy/Giles Relationshippers, all others please ask.
DISCLAIMER: Joss owns all.


Giles ran in after Buffy and shut the door behind him. 'Vampires.'

'Lots and lots of vampires.' She peeked through the little window. 'I don't see them.'

'They're there. I don't think you should risk going out tonight, bloody bastards like the idea of a slayer's blood. You'll have to stay here.'

'Here where?'

Giles pointed towards the guestroom.

**

Giles woke up to the sound of rain. A thunder shook the windows, the wind whistled around the house. Who would have thought California capable of producing such a storm?

Tying his robe around him, he went to the closet to retrieve an extra blanket. Finding his way in the dark, he went to his guestroom and crept in.

Buffy was tossing around. Small whimpers escaped her lips from time to time. Her hands, in tight little fists, flailed around, struggling with some dream-demon. Sitting on the bed, Giles gently shook her awake.

She sat up with a start, looking at him with wide eyes. 'It's alright, Buffy, it was only a dream.'

'No...'

'Yes, it was a dream.'

'No I...' She looked around her, than at him, looking him up and down, until finally halting on his hands. Her voice was a whisper, small, frightened.

'Angelus.' Shaking a little, she ran her fingers over his, looking at them as if seeing them for the first time. 'He broke these.'

Giles eyed her in surprise. Why would she bring it up now? It has been over a year. He said nothing, choosing instead to follow her fingers with his eyes, not meeting hers.

Her hands moved to the lapels of his robe. His hands jumped to her wrists, begging her to stop. But he applied no pressure. She slowly pushed the rob aside, exposing his torso.

She gasped, and tears sprang to her eyes. His chest, once covered in a uniform liar of hair, now had bald patches where large scars, the result of matches allowed to burn themselves out on his skin, prevented it's growth.

Her eyes went lower, to his abdomen, where the same type of scars drew a cross, following the fine lines of the muscles.

Giles closed his eyes as she reached shaky fingers and traced the cross, a mockery of the one he wore around his neck at the time of his capture.

A sob escaped Buffy's lips, and Giles opened his eyes. Taking her trembling hand in his, he used his other hand to force her to meet his eyes. He caressed her cheek, drying her tears with his thumb. 'It was a long time ago Buffy. No use crying over it now.'

Buffy could barely breath through her sobs. 'It hurt.'

'Yes.'

'How could you stand it?'

He guided her head to his shoulder and held her tightly. 'I don't know. I surprised my self that night.'

'It was all my fault.'

'No, it wasn't. I don't want to hear you say that again.'

'But I...'

His voice grew strict as he forced her to look at him again. 'Listen to me. The guilt here is not yours, and you mustn't try to make it yours. Nobody blames you for what happened Buffy. More importantly, I don't blame you. You had no way of knowing what would happen. This is over and done with. I don't want you to think about it anymore. I want you to promise me that you will let this matter rest.'

Buffy didn't say anything. She put her head back on his shoulder, and had a perfect view of the scars. She wasn't sure she could drop the matter.

Understanding what her silence meant, Giles took command again. 'Promise me Buffy. I have never asked you for anything. I ask you now: make me that promise.'

'I promise.' They sat in silence for a minuet. 'Do you... do you hate me?'

'No!'

'How come?'

'Buffy, stop this nonsense right now, I mean it.'

'He was my lover.'

'You promised me you'd drop this. I can no more hate you for Angel than I can for eating all of my jelly donuts. Would I be here if I did?'

'Guess not.'

'That settles it then. And I don't want to hear any more of this foolishness. What has gotten into you?'

'I saw it.'

'Saw what?'

'That night. What he did to you. I saw it all so clearly. Everything he did.' Her hand slide to his side, stroking the rib Angelus took so much joy in braking. 'And I wish I had the brains to stay in the library that night. And I wish I wouldn't have forgiven Angel. And I promised I won't talk about it anymore so I'm going to stop now. But... could you still please hold me?'

Silently, Giles rested his head on top of hers. Slowly, the tension left her body and she slumped against him, dozing of.

Tired himself now, Giles gently put her back in her place and pulled the covers under her chin. She woke up "Night Giles. Love you.'

'I love you too. Sleep tight.' He kissed her forehead and got up, shutting off the light and closing the door behind him.

**

He saw Buffy, standing in a phone booth, crying. She picked up the receiver and dialed his number. As soon as she finished dialing, he knew he wasn't home. She stayed on the line, listened to his answering machine message, and hung up at the beep.

He saw her in a small apartment, huddled up on the bed, staring at a photo of her, himself, Willow and Xander. She was crying again.

He saw her at work. A teenage girl and her mother came in, laden with shopping bags.

Giles woke up. He went downstairs and peeked into the guest room. Buffy was sleeping peacefully. Closing the door behind him, he went to make himself some tea.

He had spent three months thinking only that she MUST be safe. No other thought entered his mind. Than she came back and he tried not to think about those months at all. Thus, he had never thought about how horrible it most have been for her, to need support so much, and be away from everybody she knew.

Giles didn't know what came over him. He went back to her room and sat on the bed. She woke up, and he gathered her in his arms and pressed her to his chest. "You're with me now, Buffy. You're not alone.'

Buffy snuggled against his bare chest. She had no idea what was going on, but she knew she felt safe and warm, and she knew what he said to her was the truth. His right hand was drawing circles on her back, his left arm around her shoulders. Pressed against his warm flesh, she could think of nothing but his warmth.

Shyly, afraid to make a wrong move, she brought her hand up and caressed his face. Without thought, he leaned into her touch, than turned his head and kissed her palm gently.

'You feel so safe?'

'Safe?'

'Like nothing bad could ever happen with you around. You're like Mr. Gordo, the ultimate protector of the slayer. I love you for making me feel that way. I love you for being a stuffed animal.'

'I love you for being you. I love you for making me feel anything, no matter what. What ever you do, it makes me love you all the more. Does that make sense?'

'No. I don't think it's supposed to.'

His hand moved from her back to her face, mimicking her feather light touches. 'Good. Because non of this...'

Her soft lips on his silenced his words, bringing forth a grunt to replace them. 'How much of you loves me, Giles? How much of me?'

'All of me. All of you.'

'Show me.'

**

Buffy was asleep.

She saw him stare at a little box, a small bottle and a syringe.

Her birthday.

He jumped to his feet and throw it at the wall with a power she didn't know he possessed.

She saw him inject her, wake her from her trance and send her home to rest.

And than he cried. He dropped into a chair, covered his face with his hands and cried, trembled, begging her forgiveness.

She saw him in his apartment, and his bruises told her the test had already taken place. He had been fired. He was writing in his watcher's diary. His hands shook as he shut it, and he began to cry again.

Buffy blinked in the moon light. Extracting herself from Giles' arms, she went it search of the journal she knew had to be there, somewhere.

She found it on his desk, under a spell book. Flipping through the pages, she found the last entry:

"No watcher has ever lost his position. No watcher has ever saved
his slayer from the test. Tried to save her, rather, for Buffy very much
saved herself. I do not regret going against the council. I only regret
not doing it sooner. As for their order to stay away from the slayer...
If Buffy will have me, then the council be damned. If she will not..."

**

Giles felt cold, alone. He woke up to find the bed empty.

Following the light to his living room, he found Buffy on the sofa, reading. He peeked over her shoulder and inhaled sharply.

'You didn't finish the sentence'

'I didn't know how'

'Do you know now?'

'Now more than ever, I don't know if I could go on without you.'

'You won't have too.'

'You're the slayer.' He said simply.

'I won't die.'

She could barely hear him. 'You already did.'

Blinking rapidly to hold back the tears, Buffy flipped in the journal, looking for that night.

"She died tonight. I wanted to die for her, but she would not allow it.
It doesn't matter, she was brought back to me. But this changes everything.
I can no longer look at her and imagine she would be safe. I know, first
Hand, than she can die. She will not be here forever. And that is something
I hoped I'd never believe."

Giles sat down next to Buffy, pulling the blanket from the back of the sofa over her shoulders. Not knowing what to say, she leaned her back against his chest and closed her eyes. Tomorrow she will go hunting again, fighting, perhaps for the last time. Tonight she will stay with Giles.

END