Sound the Deep Waters
By Crystal Paulk

TITLE: Sound the Deep Waters
AUTHOR: Crystal Paulk byron_wilde@yahoo.com
PAIRING: Buffy/other Buffy/Giles Buffy/Spike
RATING: NC-17 Also a warning. Angst. Serious Buffy/Giles angst, Character death.
SPOILERS: Through "Smashed. Spoilers for Seeing Red and Villains"
SUMMARY: Frustrated, angry and confused Buffy goes to London to find her Watcher. She finds someone else.
DISCLAIMER: BTVS belong to Joss Whedon, the WB, UPN, FOX and Mutant Enemy and 20th Century Fox Film Corporation. Manchild belongs to the BBC. Don't sue cause I have nothing.


Streetlights reflected on the black pavement. Buffy buried her chin deeper in the collar of her leather coat. Her body and wardrobe, more accustomed to balmy Southern California climates, were ill equipped for London in January. She was just thankful that she had decided to stash her luggage at the youth hostel, rather than lugging it across town while she figured out the best way to reach Bath and her errant Watcher. Nearly four months had passed since Giles had left her in Sunnydale. Abandoned her to angry memories, a bitter teen-age sister and friends who refused to accept that she would never be same girl they knew before.

Expectations. They all had expectations. Xander, who lacking a close male friend, expected her to be his buddy while he complained about marriage plans. Willow, withdrawing from magic, who couldn't see how painful life was for Buffy. And Spike. Spike, a vampire implanted with a chip that prevented him from hurting humans but had no effect on a resurrected Slayer. Spike could hurt her. Spike who she despised. She had fucked Spike. Wherever she turned he was there. Mocking her. Gloating. A reminder of how far she had fallen.

With her life in disarray. Caught needing the cold embrace of the undead, Buffy had fled to England and the only person she could trust. She was convinced she could make him understand that she needed him. Needed her Watcher. She just hadn't said the correct words.

Her flight from Los Angeles had arrived at Heathrow International Airport in the early morning and Buffy had planned to catch a train from Padington Station that evening which would have put her in Bath sometime after midnight. She hadn't expected to be so enchanted by the city. This was her first trip overseas and the desire to be a normal tourist was too overwhelming to ignore. Besides, it wasn't as if Giles was expecting her. So she'd spent the afternoon exploring: walking along the Thames River, admiring the view from atop Saint Paul's Cathedral, wandering through Picadilly Circus and window shopping on Oxford Street. She'd bought a brie, basil and tomato sandwich from Pret a Manger and eaten it on the marble steps of the British Museum, thinking how much she wished Willow could be sitting beside her.

A late afternoon drizzle had sent her scurrying to the nearest tube station and her hostel. The dorm room she'd been assigned was large, but cramped with four bunk beds and a small sink. Plus it smelled a bit like unwashed socks. She was surprised by the number of travelers, students mostly, who were taking a break from college and life to see the world. Buffy envied them their freedom and innocence. What would it be like to wander though Europe with only a backpack and a "Lonely Planet" guidebook?

Buffy sighed softly as she rummaged thorough her dufflebag for dry clothes. Her fingers brushed against a black sequined haltertop and she had a wonderful idea. A wonderful, exhilarating idea. Tonight she would join the masses. Be just a normal girl in an exciting new city. Pulling on her leather pants, the Slayer felt a bit like Cinderella going to the ball. Earlier, she'd heard her roommates discussing a hot new club and bar in the SoHo area, not too far of a walk from the hostel. Looking in the mirror, Buffy grinned at the blond staring back at her. In the back of her mind a voice from the past whispered a name. Shrugging on her weathered black leather jacket, the one she'd confiscated from Angel so many years ago, Buffy offered her reflection a final glance. "Catch ya later Anne."

Twenty minutes later Buffy was feeling less enthused with her plan. Instead of lessening, the misty drizzle had turned into freezing downpour. She glanced up at the blue neon sign, "Art" and steeling herself ducked into her destination.

"Well Buffy it's certainly not the Bronze," she whispered to herself, studying the sleek interior. No dark shadows in this place. It was bright, almost harsh, with tables of hammered metal. The chairs, brilliantly hued in red, purples and blues, were packed with the happy hour crowd, a mixture of young and old professionals. Absently she noted that the men wore hideous shoes. There was an empty stool at the far end of the bar and Buffy forced herself toward it. Seated, she ordered a Cosmopolitan, hell it seemed to work for Carrie & Co. on Sex in the City. Sipping her drink gave her a little more courage and she realized that she was starting to relax.

* * *

"I still don't see why you had to hang it in the living room. You couldn't be any more obvious, James," said the man to his companion. Patrick, an avid art collecter, was dressed in a burnt orange suit and lemon tie, which looked surprisingly elegant against his caramel skin. At 51, he was far more comfortable with middle-age than his long-time friend. James, recently divorced and staring at the big 5, 0, was embracing his mid-life crisis with a gusto he'd previously only shown toward dentistry. The object of Patrick's ribbing, though, was ignoring him for more pleasant diversion. A woman, in her early twenties, was perched on a stool at the bar absently drinking a rather horrid looking peach concoction. "Ah I see you've spotted your latest conquest," he said nodding in the woman's direction."

James grinned. "The lady looks lonely. I think I'll see if she'd like some company. Wish me luck?"

"You're a scoundrel old man. Go on with you."

Lost in thoughts and nursing her second cocktail, Buffy was startled by the voice. "Is this seat taken." She turned to respond and felt her mouth gape open. Giles? No. Not Giles. This man was slightly shorter with fewer grays in his hair. And while her Watcher had the lean build forged from years of demon fighting, this man was softer. But the biggest difference was in the face. Pain and hardness that had so marked Giles were absent. Her new companion had never considered that the monsters under the bed were real. And he was damn sexy.

"Miss? Are you all right?" he asked.

Realizing that her mouth resembled a codfish, Buffy offered a brilliant smile. In a heartbeat she had made a decision. Eons ago when she had first started college at UC Sunnydale she had slept with a boy who was only interested in the one night. He had hurt her terribly, but his words of explanation echoed in her mind. "Can't two people meet and share something wonderful and then move on?" Buffy eyed the man and waved at the empty stool at her side. "Go ahead and if you're very nice I'll let you buy me another drink. I'm Anne."

"James," he said. "And I promise you Anne that I can be very nice."

An hour later the pair had moved to a couch in the corner and were sipping champagne. "A bottle of your best," James had said to the waiter. Buffy had immersed herself in her role. Anne was a psychology student in Los Angeles on holiday. Anne had never thrust a sword in her lover's gut to save the world. Anne didn't have sister crafted of mystic energy and slayer's blood. Anne had not leaped to her death and been ripped from heaven by her best friends only to claw out of a coffin. No slayers. No vampires. Just this moment laughing and flirting with an extremely attractive older man. His arm casually draped across the sofa back. The fabric of his charcoal jacket soft and expensive against her neck. She'd nearly forgotten his resemblance to her former Watcher.

"How long will you be in London?" he asked, enchanted by this lovely American. He collected beautiful women like matchbooks and Anne was among the finest. Golden hair, perfect teeth and flawless skin that likely smelled of sunshine and the sea.

"Just for the night. I'm staying in a hostel nearby and then I'm leaving for Bath tomorrow afternoon. I have a .. a friend there."

Oblivious to her hesitation James moved closer, his leg brushing her leather clad thigh. "Only one night in London? That's a shame. You should take more time to see the city." His eyes, a murky green, were filled with promise and Buffy felt her panties dampen. The voice of reason screamed "Stop. Bad idea. Go back to your room. Do not leave with a strange man." Willing the voice silent, she laid her fingers on his upper arm and gave him a soft half smile. "I just have the night. What can you show me?"

"I think something can be arranged my dear."

* * *

A shaft of sunlight fell over the tangled bedding. James awoke with his nose buried in soft blond hair. Images of the previous evening tumbled in his head. Without her leather armor and platform boots, Anne was tiny, but strong. Unnaturally strong. A lithe body, incredible stamina. The American phrase "bunny in the sack" flashed in his head. Even asleep, her small hands moved across his chest. She was mumbling, "warm so warm." He wondered if a previous lover had cold feet. Delicate fingers brushing his belly and curling around his penis. He opened his eyes to discover her gazing up at him, blue eyes twinkling.

He groaned. "I think you've worn me out luv. There's nothing left."

"Let's see," she said, sliding down his body, her tight nipples raking his chest and the silk sheets pooling around her waist. Her tender ministrations were bringing life to the cock he'd mistakenly thought down for the count. A soft tongue lapping at the pebbly skin of his scrotum. The warm wetness dragging up the shaft to envelope his cock. Busy fingers lightly stroking his inner thigh, cupping his ass to force him deeper in her mouth. His release came quickly in a hot gush of liquid heat that was almost painful. He pulled her to him, kissing her deeply, tasting the musk of his seed in her mouth.

"Umm," she giggled, licking her lips. "That's good."

"And you're amazing," he said honestly. Usually he couldn't wait to get his conquests out and on their way, but this one was different. He wasn't a fool. He knew she wasn't all that she appeared. She couldn't completely hide the pain in her eyes. Plus there was a strange scar on her neck. He felt a tug in his heart, a desire to help her. And then the moment passed. She was just a girl. A breathtakingly beautiful girl, but still just a girl.

As if reading his thoughts, Anne pulled from his embrace. "I need to get going." She dressed quickly, efficiently and was moving toward the door before he even roused from the bed.

"Wait," he said, when her hand touched the doorknob. "What time is your train?"

"Three o'clock. I need to get my bag from the hostel."

"Have lunch with me. I'm meeting a friend who lives in Bath, he could give you some suggestions on where to stay." James held his breath. He couldn't let her just walk away. He occasionally visited the States on business, maybe he could see her again. That haunted look was in her eyes again, making her look so much older, and then it was replaced by a sensual half smile that made his balls ache.

"Where?"

"There's a Greek bistro across the street from the club. You can store your bag at the hostel and pick it up before you catch the train. Say 12:30."

She nodded, "12:30 then," and impulsively walked back to where he was standing in the hall wrapped in the sheet that still smelled of their lovemaking. Perched on tiptoes, she lightly brushed her lips against his in a soft kiss. He heard a whispered "Thank you" and she was gone.

The shrill ring of his mobile broke him from his swirling thoughts. "Hello."

"Yes, we're still on for lunch. I thought we'd go back to Mezza's. Oh and I hope you don't mind I've invited someone to join us."

James laughed. "Well you know me. Looks terrific in a bikini and gives great head. See you there around noon. Goodbye Rupert."

* * *

The restaurant was bright, airy and cheerful. Delicious smells wafted from the kitchen as Giles sought out his luncheon companions. He'd met James at an art show in early fall in those difficult weeks when he'd first returned to England. A bit of a rascal when it came to women, but a nice enough fellow who didn't ask too many questions. An easy comradeship of lunches and the theater, cut short by his Slayer's miraculous resurrection. No. Best not to think of that. Buffy hadn't spoken to him since he'd left Sunnydale. Wouldn't take his calls and he felt certain Dawn and Willow were hiding things. He'd received an invitation to Xander and Anya's upcoming wedding, but hadn't decided if he would attend. His Slayer's anger might still be too raw.

"Rupert," he heard his name. "Over here." Ahh yes, James. As usual looking as if he'd just stepped out of a men's shop on High Street, which in all likelyhood he probably had. Strangers often commented on their uncanny resemblance, but Giles didn't see it. James was a little too put together, fighting his age a little too hard with his gym membership, fake tan and expensive cars. Giles was amazed that women actually fell for the bounder.

"Hello James," he said, clasping his friend's hand in a hearty grasp. Flicking his eyes at the empty seat, "So where's your lady friend?"

"You know women, can't ever be on time. Though Anne might be worth waiting for."

Accustomed to his friend's love 'em and leave 'em attitude, Giles did a double take. "What makes this one different?"

"Well she's American for one thing, a real California girl. Gorgeous, all over tan, hot, tight and zero inhibitions. Didn't you live around Los Angeles during your time in the States? You must have known the type old man."

Giles thought of his own California girl. Beautiful Buffy. A continent and ocean between them and she still held his heart. Evading the question, "I didn't have much time for women."

Looking at his friend with disbelief. "Weren't you a high school librarian? All those perky, tight, glossy haired beauties everyday. You mean you never thought about a little extracurricular activities behind the stacks?"

Desperate to change the subject before his thoughts strayed further to those long repressed fantasies of his Slayer. Buffy naked. Buffy pulling him into a tight embrace. Buffy's soft lips engulfing his cock, promising ecstasy. Giles said. "They were children. Barely more than children."

"Children grow up old man," James leered. "Like my Anne. Amazing. Not even 21 and she knew tricks I'd never imagined. All it took was a little bubbly and she was grinding against me as though she'd never had a man."

Giles grimaced. He hated it when James fell into this crude locker room talk. Anne was probably just another one of his vapid models with no brains and less sense. What kind of a woman falls into a man's bed in just one night?

"Ahh speaking of the minx." James rose to show his date to the table.

Taking a sip of water, Giles turned to the door and froze. James had pulled the young woman into a firm embrace and was kissing her quite thoroughly. Blond hair fluttered in a non-existent breeze. A worn leather jacket dwarfed her small frame. A very familiar frame.

"Buffy," the name choked and harsh. He was almost pleased by the ashen pale of her face when she broke the kiss to find him staring at her. Oblivious to the exchange, James led her to the table, but broke off the introductions upon looking at his date's expression, matched by Rupert's look of rage.

"I take it you two know each other."

Ignoring James, Giles fixed his attention on his Slayer standing before him with lips stinging from the kiss of another man. "What the hell are you doing here?"

Defiantly she met his gaze, "Looking for you."

"How hard did you look?" his fury masking the question with scorn.

Flustered, she clutched at her jacket, grateful for its warmth. "My flight got in yesterday morning, I .... I was catching the train to Bath later. I needed to talk to you."

He choked back a laugh. "Talk. Buffy it's been three months and I haven't heard a word from you. What the hell did you need to say that couldn't be said over the phone?"

She hung her head, embarrassed. Of all the ways she'd imagined this conversation, meeting Giles with her body still tingling from the touch of another man was not at all what she'd anticipated. "I wanted you to come home."

"You still could have called."

Flashing him a sharp look. "Would you have come?"

"No."

"Well then."

Looking from his lover to his friend who were making quite a scene, James broke in. "Rupert, . An .Buffy. Why don't you both sit down and discuss this."

Buffy, shaken and wan sank onto the wooden bench. Giles hesitated, torn between a desire to comfort her or slap her.

Not understanding that silence was his best option, James said. "I don't know what's gotten you so upset old man. The lady is an adult. She came to find you. Hear her out."

Giles glared at his friend, green eyes intense with barely controlled rage, then turned his attention back to his slayer. "How could you fuck him? A man older than me."

"At least he was a man," she mumbled.

"What did you say?"

Piercing him with her look she said clearly. "At least he was a man."

"What the fuck are you talking about?" A cold shudder and the bones in his hand began to throb. Surely she wouldn't have been so stupid. "Angel?"

"No. Not Angel," she snapped.

"Then who." his voice trailing and his mind settling on the only logical choice. "Spike? You let that evil thing touch you? Well James is an improvement."

"You don't have to be nasty?"

"No? I guess you've been nasty enough for the both of us." Venom dripping from his words. "What the hell is wrong with you?"

Blue eyes filled with unshed tears, she met his disdain with raw honesty. "You left. The one I needed left me and I took what was available."

Refusing to accept blame for her decisions. Typical Buffy. Giles nodded toward a thankfully silent James, "And him. He was just available? For Christ's sake, Buffy, he's older than me."

Roused from his stupor, James took offense. "Hey, now wait a minute."

"Shut up James," Watcher and Slayer barked together.

"Don't you get it?" she said, pleading with him to understand. "Age had nothing to do with it. One night. All I wanted was one night with a man who didn't know me. Someone who didn't have any expectations except that I be warm and willing and horny." Forgetting herself, she continued. " No great destiny. No monsters. No expiration date. Just me. For one night be the woman I might have been without all this crap. To be normal."

Crying, she grabbed her bag and rushed for the door. Giles remained seated, stunned and hurt by her revelations.

James cleared his throat. "Umm Rupert. Don't slug me. But are you going after her?"

Shaking his head ruefully, Giles shrugged. "I don't think so."

"You are the fool then."

"You don't know anything about it."

"Well I'd say that's pretty obvious," James agreed. "Destiny? Monsters? I don't know what your history with that girl is but it's pretty clear that you're in love with her."

"I thought you didn't believe in love?"

"I don't," he admitted. "But I think you do and I think Buffy does as well."

"She doesn't love me."

"Maybe not, but she didn't fly halfway around the world for kidney pie. She came for you. At least hear her out without jumping down her throat, though it is a very nice throat particularly when she ."

The punch knocked him out of his chair. James grinned despite his sore jaw. Rupert was already storming out of the restaurant. He'd call him later, after he received some nursing from the lovely young waitress."

* * * * *

Buffy was still standing on the sidewalk, looking for all the world like a stray kitten. A kitten with sharp claws and a devastating right hook. He approached carefully. "I thought you'd be long gone."

She snorted. "I didn't know quite where to go. My flight isn't till Friday and it seems I won't be going to Bath after all."

Giles rested his hand lightly on her shoulder. She stiffened and then moved instinctively into his embrace. They stood together for long moments. Buffy crying silently in his leather jacket, his fingers moving softly in her hair. He smelled so good. The oil in the leather mixed with this musky scent she knew was sandlewood. The smell of safety and warmth and Watcher.

"Buffy, luv. We need to talk."

Nodding, she allowed him to lead her by the hand into a nearby pub. Once seated, Giles with a pint of bitter and Buffy with a Pimm's and Lemonade, both hesitated to break the uneasy truce.

Buffy closed her fingers over his hand, turning the palm up. Large and warm. Spike's hands, like Angel's, had been cool to touch, skin smooth and unblemished. Giles' hand though had character. Fingers long and tapered. Strong. Crisp hairs on the back disappearing into his shirt cuff. Calluses on thumbs and palm from years of weapons training. A slightly crooked pinky where the bone hadn't knitted properly following his time with Angelus. Dozens of small scars, tiny lines cross-crossing the flesh of his knuckles. Absently she trailed her fingertips across his wrist, unaware of the effect her light touch was having on her Watcher.

"You have good hands," she said softly. "Keep me safe. I haven't felt safe since you left."

He shuddered. Angry, hurt, confused. Dwarfed in the overlarge coat she looked so vulnerable and lost. His heart ached. He loved her so very much, this Slayer, this young woman. He wanted nothing more but to wrap her in soft cotton and keep her safe from all that would hurt her. "Why?" he asked hesitantly. "I . I can understand Spike. Or at least loneliness. It can be a heavy burdon. One I'd hoped you would share with Willow or your sister."

Buffy snorted. "Dawn isn't even 16-years-old and in reality barely a year. The last thing she wants to hear is that her sister would rather be dead than coping with a house, bills and social workers. And Willow? She's so screwed up right now from the magic and losing Tara that she can barely carry on a conversation. Beating up on Spike. Fucking him. It was something. Made me feel something. Instead of numb."

"And James? Buffy, I'm not judging you, but you couldn't have known him more than a few hours before ."

"Fucking him," she said sharply. "God Giles. When did you get so self-righteous? You were out raising demons when you were my age. And I saw you on that candy. Remember? How much consideration did you give my mother before you screwed her on top of that police car? Huh?"

"Christ Buffy. We were drugged. Joyce, your mother, and I were drugged. Hell I broke into a store for a coat and a stupid hat and beat up a policeman. But what you did with James was downright dangerous. You knew nothing about him. He could have been a serial killer."

"Please, Giles. I'm the Slayer. I can take care of myself and I know all the rules. We used condoms and he was a perfectly nice man. And yes it was stupid," she admitted. "But it was good too. Good and normal and real. Like I said before, being with him had nothing to do with the freak show which is my life. And if I wanted to escape. Even for one lousy night what could be the harm?"

Still holding her hands between his own, Giles asked. "Is that so important to you? To be normal? I'd thought you'd given up on that idea a long time ago."

"Why?" she asked, nearly crying. "Because every time I try it ends in such total disaster? Cheerleading. Homecoming. My last boyfriend turned out to be a drugged out super soldier commando who hunts demons and on occasion lets vamps snack on him. And even my stupid one night stand was best buds with my Watcher. Nope, no normal for Buffy."

"James and I are hardly best buds," he said ruefully. "Just two old men who enjoy the theater and a fine whiskey."

"He's not old. And neither are you."

"That hasn't been your observation in the past. I believe your exact words were very old and very gross."

Buffy chuckled though her tears. "You're never going to let me forget that are you. I was freaked out okay. I walked in on my staid and stuffy Watcher and a gorgeous woman. I just never really thought of you as a man."

"You're not doing much for my ego, Buffy."

"I was eighteen, Giles. Come on. Sure you fought demons and all. But you were my high school librarian. I didn't know anything. I couldn't see anything beyond Angel."

Eyes narrowed he questioned. "What couldn't you see?"

"That you were brave. Braver than anyone. Braver than Angel, even because you were human and could die. But you still waded into every fight. You might get knocked down every time, but you never let that keep you from trying to protect me. That day in the library when you put the sword though the mayor I was so furious with you. He could have killed you."

Remembering his own cold fury and fear that day Giles nodded. "He threatened you. My family. I didn't even think about it."

"I know," she said gently. "But it was still stupid. Brave. But stupid." She flushed. "And kind of sexy."

He arched a brow, smiling. "Sexy?"

Buffy giggled. The first giggle he'd heard since forever. She hadn't had much reason to laugh in such a long time. "Fishing for compliments, Watcher? Yes sexy. I was always kind of jealous that the others heard you sing that night and I missed it. Anya couldn't shut up about it. And Willow would get this dreamy expression. Even Tara said you were hot."

He suddenly realized that instead of simply touching hands, he was stroking her fingers. Embarrassed, he tried to pull away, but she stopped him. "Don't. It feels good. Having you touch me feels so good."

Earlier he'd thought of her as a stray kitten, Giles revised that opinion. Though Buffy was certainly feline, she was no kitten. The sudden image of her pink tongue lapping at his cock flashed in his mind and then he saw her kissing James. He jerked his hands away, as if burnt.

Trying to hide her hurt, she took a long sip of her drink. "Sorry." She said, unable to look at him. "I didn't mean to make you uncomfortable. I guess I better go now."

"Wait," he said, more harshly than he'd intended. He repeated softer. "Wait. Where would you go?"

"Back to the hostel I guess. My bag is still there and I'll see if they still have beds available. Do some sightseeing today, tomorrow. My flight's out the day after."

"Care for a tour guide? I could show you some of my favorite parts of the city."

Her smile. A real smile so much like the old Buffy was his answer. "Really. God, Giles that would be great. I wandered around some yesterday, but mostly just got kind of lost. I saw the river though and St. Paul's. That was pretty cool ..." her voice trailed. "But what about you. Your plans. I don't want to keep you from doing something important. I mean you weren't exactly expecting to entertain me."

Smiling gently at her. "I came in early this morning for a meeting with the Council. Like you, they are rather perturbed by my decision to leave Sunnydale. I was going to return to Bath after lunch, but I'd much rather spend the day with you. In fact, forget the hostel. We'll make other arrangements. That is if you don't mind."

"Mind. Are you kidding? That place smells like dirty socks and pee. Lead on."

Giles followed her out the door, pleased by the bounce in her step. He wanted to believe his presence had something to do with her happiness, but he suspected it was simply getting away from the Hellmouth and all her responsibilities. They still had much to discuss. But he resolved to let the heavy conversation wait till later. For a few days he could grant her wish. Let her be normal. Just a lovely young woman and her . her friend.

* * * *

"Please Giles," Buffy whined, gesturing to the garish sign and hideously long que. "Please let's go in."

"Buffy, he groaned. "It's the biggest tourist trap in the city. Besides don't you have enough guts and gore in your life already."

"But that's real. This isn't. It's all fake and touristy. Please," she repeated giving him that perfect Buffy pout. Her lower lip pouching out so slightly. The one she'd perfected in high school that he'd never learned to resist.

"All right," he gave in and her wide, grateful smile was worth every second of agony queuing with the obnoxious tourists. Worth even the leer from the pissant taking tickets.

"You're daughter's gotta great ass."

Giles restrained the urge to smack the smirk off the pimply pillock's face. Luckily Buffy was too busy looking at one of the ridiculous posters to hear the boy or notice the responding Ripper glare. The ticket taker gulped and felt his hands tremble as he passed the glossy squares under the glass. He'd seen some crazy fuck's, but that man was downright dangerous. "Uhh Enjoy the exhibit sir."

Ignoring the youth, Giles allowed his eyes to rake over Buffy's body possessively. Relishing the clench in his gut. The way his cock shifted in his pants. He wanted to pull her to him, tangle his hands in her silken hair, kiss her thoroughly and completely. Claim her before this punk and the bickering tourists. She turned to him and blinked, seeing for a moment his heat. Giles shook his head, pushing the lustful thoughts aside. This was her day.

"Giles..," she asked crossing to him and placing her warm, moist hand on his brow. The simple contact a shock to his groin. "You okay?"

"Of course," he said, the mask of Watcher, mentor and friend firmly in place. He held up the tickets. "Ready."

Snatching the tickets in one hand and clasping his own fingers with the other she pulled him laughing into the dark corridor.

The cold, dank vault of the London Dungeon was even more horrid than Giles had imagined. Actors dressed in knock off Victorian costume jumping out at the foreign tourists. What was this preposterous fascination with English Gothic horror? The life-size wax works of men being boiled alive, tortured or drawn and quartered were hardly frightening or disturbing. But then when one has felt the mechanical heat of a chainsaw held mere inches from the testicles, a few wax sculptures were nothing to get worked up about. Buffy, on-the-other-hand was delighted. Joining in the general hysteria as the costumed actors pounced out of the darkness. Shrieking a girly scream. Clutching his fingers painfully. Laughing out loud at the vampire exhibit and whispering that the waxwork of Vlad the Impaler looked nothing at all like Dracula. "And no chick pit," she said teasing, her breath, hot and moist against his neck. "Poor Giles."

Indignant and flushed from the close contact. "I don't know what you're talking about?"

Tucking a finger under his chin and granting him a slow, knowing smirk. "That's right. You were going to nuzzle them to death."

Their lips were inches apart. Even in the darkness, her golden skin glowed and her eyes blue whirlpools. God he wanted her. His hands jammed in his pockets, clenched in fists, white knuckled, fingernails digging half circles into his palm. Just a taste. What could be the harm in just one taste?

A pudgy middle-aged German woman, tripping over a step in the poor light, jabbed her elbow into his side. Giles yelped, she babbled an apology, and by the time he assured her in flawless German that it was quite all right and yes he'd been to Salzburg and no he wasn't interested in meeting for a drink later, Buffy had moved away and out of sight.

It took only a few moments to catch sight of her lounging against the gray stone wall, reading a series of newspaper articles about the infamous Jack the Ripper who'd terrorized Whitechapel at the turn of the previous century.

Sensing his presence behind her, Buffy shifted slightly so that she was flush against his body. Nodding to the articles and exhibit sign describing the prostitute murders, she questioned, "Ripper. Funny I never really thought about it. Your nickname. Why does Ethan call you that?"

"A stupid affectation for a time best forgotten. I was in a band and Rupurt didn't quite instill the awe I was looking for."

Buffy giggled softly and she was so close, the slight movement made him shiver. "You wanted to impress girls," she said knowingly and then without thinking. "Young dumb and full of cum."

"Whaaat?" he said startled, taking a step back.

Embarrassed, Buffy stammered. "Oh shit Giles. I said that out loud. I didn't mean to. It's just a stupid saying. You know. Willow and I used to say it about Xander back in high school. I mean he told Cordelia once that linoleum made him think about sex."

Smiling at her self-consciousness he offered a cheeky grin. "Yes, well a fairly accurate description I'd say. I'm afraid at that age young men show very poor judgement."

"And what about men of your age," she asked.

Refusing to meet her gaze, he mumbled quietly, "It doesn't seem to be improving." Then gesturing toward the Ripper exhibit. "I suppose we should continue our examination of my illustrious namesake."

Granting him a reprieve, Buffy assumed an abysmal English accent and took his arm. "Why think you kind sir. I'm certain you will have no problem protecting this fair lady from any harm."

By the time the pair exited the dungeon, the sun was nearly setting. They walked comfortably, hand in hand across Tower Bridge. Under Giles' direction they clambered aboard a double-decker bus. She insisted they ride on the upper level and in the front seat. Laughing infectious as the rumbling vehicle lurched though traffic. They retrieved her bag from the hostel, Giles surprised that she merely had the one. Joyce, in one of those rare moments the two had talked about subjects other than demons and fear, had once confided that for her first sleep over, Buffy had brought four separate bags, including a cosmetic case. She'd been barely 8-years-old.

Recognizing the origin of his surprise, Buffy offered a shy grin. "I didn't know what to expect. I was kind of in a hurry and knew I'd be taking buses and trains and subway . I mean the tube. Clothes and stuff didn't seem that important. Just finding you."

Touched, Giles tried to keep his heart steady. While a part of him rejoiced that she'd come so far to be with him, the pragmatic side, knew she was still using him as a crutch. If he returned to Sunnydale as she asked, how could he ever expect her to be strong and face life independently?

Seeing the conflict in his eyes, she lay a finger on his lips. "Not now. We'll talk about it later. Just be with me in the moment."

"I can do that." And then laughed when her stomach growled loudly. "Hungry?"

"Starved," she admitted. "We kind of skipped lunch."

"Is there anything you want particularly?"

She made a face. "English food. Yuck. I've seen the pub food. Cholesterol much? And what's with you guys and the beans?"

"I'll have you know young lady that there's nothing so fine as a breakfast of beans on toast," laughing at her expression of disgust. "But that's not what I had in mind. I was thinking curry?"

"Huh?"

"London has fantastic Indian food. Not as good as Leeds, but still delicious."

"I don't know Giles. Me and spicy don't always do so well."

He smiled gently; "Do you trust me?"

Solemnly, she nodded, not breaking eye contact. She knew the question had nothing to do with dinner. "With my life."

Taking her words to heart, he jested. "Then your belly shouldn't be a problem."

* * *

Dinner was wonderful. Buffy, pleasantly surprised at how much she enjoyed the different flavors. Giles overrode her objection to ordering a beer, assuring her that the Indian version was nothing like the swill she remembered from college. They laughed easily over the memory of cave slayer.

"Beer foamy," she grunted. "Buffy likes beer."

"Buffy will like this beer," he promised, barely able to contain his pleasure that she was so willing to mock herself and her rather off color adventure.

"I bet you wanted to throttle me that night," she said, wiping happy tears from her eyes.

"Not as much as I wanted to throttle Xander. I couldn't believe he served you that beer."

"He didn't know it was cursed," she said, defending her friend.

"Yes. But he did know that you were drinking yourself silly with a group of stupid boys. I you had been any girl other than the Slayer you could have been in serious trouble. He showed terrible judgement."

"Giles," she said, interrupting. "Xander can't be held responsible for my actions. He couldn't force me to stop and as it was he barely managed to cut me off. When I'm hell bent on something I don't listen to reason. You of all people should know that."

Remembering that night of the Spring Fling. She'd been so young. So frightened. Faced with the prophecy of her death by the Master. At first denying her destiny and then embracing it. Striding into the library to discover him prepared to go in her place. She'd punched him, knocked him out, and marched to her death. A death averted by Xander's first aid abilities, but death nonetheless. In the aftermath of the battle his mind confirmed what his heart knew. That Buffy was not merely a weapon for the council, a soldier to take orders, but an individual. A vibrant girl who was much, much too young to die. He'd been trained to never get involved. The Council would heartily disapprove of his actions. But he would never again be willing to merely train and research. He couldn't just be a watcher. He would be Buffy's Watcher, her true partner.

Lost in thoughts he dimly realized Buffy's hand was waving in his face. "Giles. Earth to Giles. You in there?"

Smiling. "Yes of course. You finished?"

"Sure, but I hope you don't have any big plans I'm completely wiped. Do you know where we're staying?"

"It's a surprise."

"A good surprise?"

"I certainly hope so."

* * *

"This is so cool," Buffy exclaimed, examining the cherry finish of the railway car's interior. "How'd you find it? We can really stay here? It's like something out of a trashy detective novel."

"Umm .. It . It actually belongs to James."

"What? Huh? He's got that loft. What . does he need ..Oh."

Trying to soothe her embarrassment, Giles explained. "I hope you don't mind. And I know it's awkward. But I called him while you were at the restaurant's facilities. Apologized actually."

"Why did you need to apologize?" she asked, accepting a glass of wine.

"Well I sort of punched him," he admitted.

"Really?" she said, tamping down a surge of pride that Giles had defended her honor. Even if she hadn't really deserved the defense. "And he wasn't mad?"

"No. He was actually . well occupied," he said, judging her response. She had after all spent the night with the man.

"You mean he was with a woman?" she asked, accepting her Watcher's silence as an answer. "I'm not at all surprised."

"It doesn't bother you?"

"Why should it? It's not like I was in love with him. We just had sex. No biggie."

Giles didn't like her tone. He hated that Buffy would treat her body so carelessly. Not that she had much reason to do otherwise. Her taste in lovers was abysmal. Starting with Angel and ending with James. Crossing to the velvet sofa, and sitting at her side, he said seriously. "It is a biggie. Sex. Intimacy is a gift. One you shouldn't offer lightly. I know you've made some poor choices in the past, but that doesn't mean you should assume all men are asses. You need to respect yourself, your body. Don't accept less than you deserve."

Her laugh was bitter, and mocking. Cold. "And what do I deserve exactly, Giles? Love is about honestly. Well in my life honesty gets people killed. Hell, my mere presence gets people killed. Death is my gift. Remember? The gift that just keeps giving."

He'd seldom seen her so angry and self-loathing. It was that moment in the Magic Box all over again. Him trying to explain why he must leave and her begging him to stay and then storming off. Refusing to say goodbye. "I know it's difficult. Our lives. And I haven't been the best example for you. My own love life has not been the stuff of great romance."

"And that's my fault too. Olivia totally wigged after that thing with the Gentlemen and .. and . Miss Calendar." She was crying. Great gulping sobs. Her chest heaving and shoulders shaking.

Giles took her glass from her fingers, placing it and his own on a side table. Then drew Buffy into his arms, tucking her head beneath his chin as if she were a small child.

"Shh. Shh. Olivia leaving was not your fault. We'd been friends long before and I'd never made it clear exactly what my world entailed. She thought it was all dreams and fancy. Bedtime stories to make me appear dashing and heroic."

"But you are dashing and heroic," she protested, her sobs subsiding as she cuddled on his lap.

Praying that she would cease wriggling, Giles continued. "Nonetheless, the reality was terrifying and not your fault. And as for Jenny. Yes, I loved her. But she placed herself in a position based on lies. Withheld information that could have cost your life. As it was it cost hers. And I am sorry. I'm sorry she died. I'm sorry I couldn't avenge her. But what happened to Jenny was beyond your control."

"But it wasn't," she said earnestly. "That fight after we blew up the Judge. He was there and I had the stake and instead of killing him I kicked him in the balls."

Despite himself Giles chuckled, imagining the big vampire on his knees, clutching his bruised scrotum. "And I bet it was a very satisfying kick." Speaking seriously. "And, yes, looking back killing Angel might have saved Jenny. But nothing would have salvaged our relationship. She'd betrayed you and by betraying you, she betrayed me. I'm not sure that's a wedge that could have been overcome."

"Giles," she argued. "I saw your apartment that night. The scene was set. You were expecting her."

"All I was expecting was that the two of us might talk without the threat of Snyder or anyone else listening. The scene was Angel's. A perfectly designed stage meant to send me mindless after him. By killing me he hoped to weaken you." Stroking her hair, wiping her drying tears. "You kept that little tableau from its ultimate ending."

"He hurt you so much," she whispered. "How can you stand knowing he's alive."

"For a long time I couldn't," he admitted. "I hated him. Hated him more than Xander if that's even possible. But more than hating him because of what he did to me, I hated him for hurting you. That first time you were together. Neither of you knew the repercussions, though Angel might have taken some time out of 100 years of brooding to research into his curse."

Speaking honestly, and more from the heart than he intended, Giles continued, "But I came to understand that Angel's return from hell was also a curse. He's not alive. To love a woman and know that you can never have her. Never walk in the light with her. Never to have a future. To see her happy with another. Know that she's moved past you. Knowing that in all likelihood you will stand witness to her death. That is also a kind of hell."

His hands were quiet, gentle holding her. The room silent, but for their raspy breaths. The sounds of night in a city muffled. She heard the roar of an airplane or maybe the rush of blood in her veins. "Loving someone is never easy is it?" she asked hesitantly.

"No," he agreed, his voice rough with emotion, barely audible over the steady thud of his own heart. "In fact, except in rare moments, love can be quite painful. Almost unbearable."

"It's a wonder we even bother," she said. "It must be because the alternative is truly unbearable."

So warm and soft in his arms. How he wished the rest of the world would just go away and leave them alone. "Perhaps. Perhaps we're just a couple of fools."

"Better a fool with you than any other fool," she said softly, her hand reaching up to lightly cup his cheek. She felt wetness on her fingertips and realized he was crying. Tipping his face toward her own, a tear dripped on her own cheek. Their lips barely a whisper apart.

"Buffy?" a question. A promise.

"Shhh." Her fingers sliding into his hair. Her hold was steady, but not unbreakable. He could still move away. Instead he moved into her mouth. A light, chaste brush of lips. Soft, warm. His stubble rough on her skin. Their tears mixing. Another kiss. This one much less tentative. Blood boiling. A fire igniting the flesh. His own fingers tangling in her golden hair. No past, no tomorrow. No slayers or watchers. No bloody demons. All the reasons why this should not be were cast aside. The miles between them. Mistakes. Pain. An empty grave and too many others filled with lost friends. Just this moment with this woman. Her tongue teasing his lips, seeking entrance. A whimper. Her? Him? The watcher retreated, leaving only the man. He turned the kiss against her, plunging his tongue in her mouth, seeking submission. Tasting sweet wine, dinner's exotic spices and her own essence beneath. Deeper, richer than he'd possibly imagined. Her shirt discarded. The ties of her halter top ripped in eagerness. Her own fingers impatient with buttons, fumbling with need to touch bare skin.

Pressing together. Naked breasts. Perfect. With diamond hard nipples that burned tiny holes in his chest. His shirt gone, tossed to the side. Still too many clothes. He cupped her ass, forced her tight into his groin. Her bucking, dry humping him. Her lips latching on to a nipple. Teeth tugging at the hard peak. Sharp fingernails teasing the other, making flesh shiver and pebble. His mouth found the scar on her throat. Angel's dark kiss. Dracula's. Spike's? Giles' mind roared that these creatures had dared touch her. The hard pulse of her artery. Teeth scraping the skin. He bit lightly, then harder as her thighs clutched his sides, still riding him. Sweeping her into his arms, their mouths fused, nipping viciously. Teeth and tongues sliding and dueling. The bedroom. Dark, only light from the window. Enough to see her. Skin glowing. Magic lit from within. Good skin. Soft skin.

Nipping her belly. Feeling it quiver under his touch. Boots off. Leather pants peeled away. More skin. Smooth silk. Her fingers on his shoulders. Tugging his hair. Urging him. And those sweet cries. Glorious whimpers as he bites the sweet skin of her thigh. Gentle bites and lapping. Her flat stomach taut. His fingers sliding over the scrap of silk covering her mound. He can smell her. Feel the heat, the wetness. Flailing legs. He holds her thighs to the bed. Teases her folds through the cloth. Taste rich. Like her mouth, but more. Fuller. Still Buffy. More. Needs more. Dragging the panties down her legs. Perfect legs. Strong. Able to cause terrible pain. Tonight they'll wrap around his waist as he rides her. Naked now. Quivering. Trembling. Skin like pink coral. She's a natural blond. He'd always wondered. Moisture, beading in the folds. Her clit ripe, swollen. Still teasing. Soft and delicate motions. Taste is unbelievable. Still in his jeans his cock is hard. Painful. It hurts from wanting. Her foot sliding against the denim, seeking his need. Soon. One finger sliding to the knuckle. So wet. So tight. Inside her muscles clench. Every part of her is strong. Squeezing him till he might pop. Another finger finding, stroking her pleasure point. Teeth scraping endlessly over the swelling nub. She's crying now. Pleading. Begging. He likes it. Music in his ears. When she cums, her thighs clench so tight his head pounds from the pressure. Taking her over the edge again so easy. Riding the waves of her pleasure nearly as sweet as cumming himself.

"Jesus, Giles Fuck me." Pushing him off snapping the buttons of his jeans. Stripping him as if he's a doll. Both of them naked and her sliding down his body. Pink kitten tongue dipping into his navel. Better than heaven. The tortures of hell. Endless moments of hot breath on his shaft. Balls heavy in the sack. Tongue slippery and electric against his scrotum. Then back up the shaft. He's never been so hard. Afraid he might spill before he gets inside, but can't stop until he's felt her mouth on his cock. More of that warm, wet, electric heat. Clutching sweaty handfuls of bedding. Desperate not to grab her head and force her mouth where he needs it to be. Evil woman. Bad Slayer. Lips circling the cockhead and tongue lapping at the foreskin. And then it's nothing less then fire. Tingling fire and a dull throbbing ache deep in his gut and behind his balls. No more. Too much. He drags her soft wet mouth from her prize. Reluctantly, but wanting her other heat more.

Rolling so that he's looking in her eyes. Sparkling, flashing. It could be magic. Poised at her entrance. Loving the way she wriggles. Those lovely, lovely legs locked around his waist. Dragging the tip of his penis through her sobbing folds, over the swollen bud. Damp curls tickling his cock head. More pleading. A soft insistent growling. Her legs tighten and his first thrust is deep and true. Those inner muscles he'd felt earlier on his fingers gripping his cock, not wanting to let go. He pushes deeper. Can feel the hard wall of her womb. His balls against her ass. And that lovely mouth with its perfect, clever tongue sucking sweat from his throat. He withdraws, thrusts again. This time she cries out. Animal. Primal. Once in his youth, traveling with his parents in Africa, he saw cheetahs mating. The male powerful. Muscles bunched and tight beneath tawny smooth fur. Claws raking its mate. Buffy's cries are like the she-cheetah's. Out of the darkness and the wild. Her fingernails leaving bloody welts in his back. But what is a Slayer, if not wild. Wild and wonderful. Passionate and more alive than any other. He answers her roar. His howl a deeper echo of her own. Reaching between sweating bodies to find her clit. Pinching the slippery nub and loving the responding spasm around his cock. So close. He worries the clit again, ripping the orgasm from her core as his own release fires.

They lay together for long moments. Buffy curled contently at his side. Her hair damp with perspiration. Giles has never loved anyone so completely. In her sleep she is peaceful. Their lovemaking has exhausted her and Giles feels pride in the knowledge that he has loved her so throughly. Sleep beckons, but his thoughts are too tumultuous. And though she is warm, safe and alive in his arms, he knows her life will seldom be those things. Peace. A normal life. She begged for those things. Death is her gift. But her death will be hard. Destiny dictates that her death will be violent, brutal and painful. Death by the hands or claws of some creature who only cares that she is the Slayer. Perhaps a vampire seeking glory and fame. Whatever, it won't care that the life it snuffed was special. That this Slayer was not just an instrument, but a warm, vibrant, loving woman with dreams and passions. Death is her gift.

She sighs softly, whimpers, fingers curling in his chest hair. So breathtakingly beautiful. He kisses the top of her head. She smiles in her sleep. He slips easily from her grasp. Straddles her. Kissing both breasts reverently and the nipples pucker and harden from even that slight contact. The pillow in his hands. Over her peaceful face. She bucks hard and he's ashamed that his penis responds to her movement. Writhing, shuddering, she nearly throws him from the bed, but while she is strong, he is large and dead weight. He cries as her leg jerks once, twice and is still.

Dripping with sweat Giles awakes. His own bed. The flat in Bath. Gasping, sobbing. Oh Jesus, just a dream. None of it real. A sharp ringing. The telephone. His answering machine picks up. And his blood is ice to hear the voice of a dark-haired young man across the ocean.

"Giles!" Xander is crying and screaming with fear. "Oh Jesus Christ, Giles. Where the fuck are you? It's Willow. Oh God it's Willow."

The End

Author's final note. I know I hate the dream cop out as well. Bobby Eweing in the Shower. But I think it works here. I couldn't just leave her like that. Besides I'm still counting on the big, bad and hopefully naked watcher coming to save them all. A girl can dream right?

And looking back who is James? A real friend. Or Rupurt's other side. An older Ripper. One his subconscious thinks might appeal to Buffy. Oh the possibilities

As for Manchild. It's a great show. Tony is a hoot. Check it out. We have to get him somewhere and Joss and Marti aren't helping us out.