The Unicorn
By A. Manley Haight

"The Unicorn"
Part 1/4
A Buffy the Vampire Slayer Story
Erotica: Giles/Buffy
A Blast Furnace Production
Copyright (C) 1999 by A. Manley Haight
ahaight@earthlink.net

RATING: NC-17

Flames are welcome and are, in fact, encouraged for psychological study.
 
This story is not in any way intended to infringe on copyrights held by Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, Fox Television, or 20th Century Fox.  This story may be distributed only with prior permission of the author, and may not be posted to any archive, ftp site, or web page without the written permission of the author.  This story is distributed for the individual personal entertainment of persons of legal age for viewing sexually explicit material in areas where such viewing is legal, and is not subject to purchase or sale by anyone.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: To make the premise of this story work, I've altered at least one concrete event in the show, and made some assumptions about Giles' unspoken background.  I don't think it's much of a stretch, speaking from some personal experience.


The library had been quiet for a while except for the occasional sound of pages turning.  Giles, Buffy, Xander, Willow and Oz were there on a Saturday looking for a way to kill a demon that had so far proved annoyingly difficult to kill.  Buffy had emerged unharmed from a battle with it, but in spite of the application of several weapons, including high voltage electricity, Thaluth had also escaped without a scratch.  Giles had discovered this was because Thaluth was an Arch Demon, of the higher ranks of Hell, and protected by stronger magic than most demons.  Research so far had proved singularly unenlightening because they had yet to even find a reference to Thaluth, much less a recommended method of destroying same.  Finally, someone spoke.
"Oh Lord," Giles sighed.  "Here it is."
"What?" Buffy said, bemused by Giles' tone, which had conveyed dismay rather than excitement.  He handed the book over
to her and Xander read over her shoulder.
"Aw, jeez," Xander exclaimed.  "Not another virgin sacrifice.  If we keep this up, we're not gonna have any virgins left in this town, and then there's gonna be real Hell to pay."
"It's not a virgin sacrifice," Giles said.  "It's a ritual that has to be performed by a virgin, or in this case, the ritual itselfrequires that the virgin lose her virginity.  The virgin is thus consecrated and is the only person who can kill the demon."  He stepped closer but she held onto the book, reading.  "What does it say about the sacrifice?"
"'The virgin shall be a living human,'" Buffy read, "'of good physical form and free of the consumptive and wasting diseases.  If female, she shall have had her first moon flow."
"Menarche," Giles said, taking off his glasses absently to see the dense print better.  "She has to have reached puberty.  Go on."
"'If male, he shall be of no fewer than fourteen years.'"
"An adult, in other words," Giles murmured.  At the sight of his wistful, upside-down reading, Buffy gave the book to him with an amused smile, and he took it with a sheepish glance before putting the stem of his glasses in his mouth and looking down to read again.  "The virgin's partner doesn't have to be a virgin himself," he said thoughtfully, lost in the scholarly nature of the text.  "Does have to be human, not surprisingly.  Well, as sordid as it sounds, I suppose we have to find a virgin who's willing to lose her virginity in the name of destroying evil."
"Again with the her," Buffy said, her smile quirking, and Giles looked up at her blankly and replaced his glasses.
"It's statistically much more likely that any virgin we find of the right age will be female," he said.  "Women typically keep it longer and men lose it as quickly as possible."  He said the last dryly, and Xander cleared his throat.
"Obviously that crosses my name off the list of people to be deflowered," he said, then perked up.  "But not to do the deflowering."
"I think perhaps we should search for another solution to destroying Thaluth," Giles said.  "I have problems with the ethics of this."  Buffy grunted.
"Then we keep looking," she said, turning back to walk toward the stacks.
"Yes," Giles said in a low voice, and the tone caused her to pause at the top of the steps.
"But?" she prodded.
"But," Giles said, "I'm not going to hold my breath, to use an expression."  He gestured with the open book.  "Any other weapon we find that would work against Arch Demons would involve killing people -- small children to be exact -- or performing a special rite during a full solar eclipse.  We're not going to have another full solar eclipse here for several more years.  Those are the only means I have ever heard of for dealing with Arch Demons." "This fighting evil thing sucks," Xander declared grumpily, sitting down at the table with a thump.  "It can't be something simple like burning a few plants and chanting.  No, it has to be virgins and baby killing and things that only happen when all the planets are aligned and the moon rises red and it rains fish for three days in a row."
"Regrettably, the Hellmouth didn't send a stone goblin to harass us," Giles said.
"Oh yeah?  What do you have to do to get rid of them?"
"Throw salt over your left shoulder and say the goblin's name backwards three times," he said deadpan, and from up in the stacks Buffy gave a strangled laugh.
"Hey, do not taunt happy fun ball," Xander said.
"You're mean, Giles," came Buffy's voice again from behind the section labeled 'Western Hermeticism.'  "Xander, stone goblins are what they call the bricks that pave the road to Hell.  It's 'cuz they try to trip you and cut your feet."
"I'm glad to hear that you've been paying attention," Giles said to her.
"I had nightmares about it the day after you told me," she replied sarcastically.  Then she sighed.  "I can't find anything else about how to kill Thaluth in the Demon Hierarchy or the Forty Steps of Hell."  She emerged from behind the stacks and came down thesteps.
"Ooh, here's something," Willow said, speaking up for the first time.  She had Giles' rare copy of Chaos of the QBLH and had been slogging through the labyrinthine English.  Her face fell a few seconds later.  "Oh, wait.  It's the solar eclipse thing."
"Anything else?" Giles asked, leaning forward on the table.
She kept reading but shook her head.
"Nope."
"That pretty much exhausts our avenues of exploration, then," Giles said.
"Guess we better start looking for a virgin," Buffy said.
She glanced at Xander.  "Xander and Faith and I are out.  What about you guys?"  She was looking at Willow and Oz, who
exchanged a look, and then Willow flushed.
"Um, I think we're out, too," she said.
"Swell," Buffy said.  "Somehow I can't really see us roaming the school interrogating people to find a virgin, assuming they'd tell us the truth anyhow."
"And assuming we don't get arrested," Xander added.
"We cannot involve outsiders," Giles said flatly, warningly, and Buffy sat back on the table.
"Yeah.  So what do we do?"
"Does homosexuality count?" Oz said.
"Huh?" Buffy said.
"Well...men can be virgins with other men without being virgins with women," Oz said.  "I think.  At least, some people talk about it that way.  Even if the other person has to be female, couldn't she penetrate him with something?  Her fingers?  Then Willow and I could do it."
"Do you eat with that mouth?" Xander said to him, looking overwhelmingly squeamish.
"That isn't a mating," Giles said in response to Oz's question.  "Plus I don't know what the consequences would be of trying to interpret the text that way.  It could be dangerous."
"So much for that idea," Buffy sighed.  "Good try, though,
Oz."
"There is, um, one other person we haven't considered," Giles said, looking uncomfortable with both hands in his pockets. They all looked at him expectantly.
"Oh yeah?" Xander said with sincere curiosity.  "Who?"
"Yeah, Giles, who?" Buffy said.  "I think we've pretty much covered the bases here, unless you mean Cordelia, and even if she is a virgin, I don't think we could talk her into this."  Her tone was wry.
"I don't mean Cordelia," Giles said.  "I mean me."
There was a pregnant silence, Buffy more than any of the rest of them looking at him as if he had just announced he was Tiamat, the dragon of Sumer.
"No way," Buffy said finally, in a tone of utter disbelief and incredulity.  "You mean you're...but Miss Calendar..."  Giles merely shook his head slightly.
"Our relationship never progressed that far," he said plainly. He caught the expression of mild sympathy on Xander's face and forced himself not to scowl at the boy.  Oz merely looked intrigued. Willow looked like she couldn't believe they were even talking about Giles' sex life, much less whether or not any aspect of it were normal or not.  "It's by choice and not inability, if I may be allowed to defend my own virility," he finally said, irritated.  Buffy jerked her head back slightly, startled by the heat in his voice.
"So you mean you're a...a virgin?" she said.
"Yes," he said, in the flat tone he had used before, as if daring her to mock him for it.
"Oh," she said.  Her mind was racing.  What did you say in response to a revelation like that?  Sticking to the subject seemed like a good idea.  "So...if you're willing to do the ritual, who does the deflowering part?"  Giles looked down at his shoes for a moment, hands still in his trouser pockets, and cleared his throat.
"The mating has to be a male-female union, so it would have to be a female," he replied.  "Not necessarily a virgin herself. Pretty much any female will do, as long as she's human."  Buffy became aware of eyes on her, and turned slightly to her friends.
"Why are you guys all looking at me?" she demanded with the nervous avoidance of the obvious.  Giles cleared his throat again, then glanced up.
"Um, would you all mind giving us some time?" he asked.
"Buffy and I need to talk privately."
"Sure," Willow said, discreetly pulling on Xander's sleeve as she and Oz moved toward the library exit.  "We'll be out in the hall."

"I'm sorry about that," Giles said when they were alone.  "I don't want you to think that I meant -- "
"No, hey, it's okay," Buffy said, still nervous.  She perched on the edge of the table and took a deep breath.  She wasn't used to having to be quite this mature about something when Giles was around.  Usually he was the confident one.  Now he was vulnerable and she had to be careful.  "We should talk about it."  Giles nodded, still not looking at her.  She resisted the most obvious thing to say next; so, you're really a virgin, huh?  "Um...sorry I'm acting kind of weird about this.  I mean...I try not to think about whether the grownups I know have sex or not, but I guess we just assume that they have at least once."
"It's a reasonable assumption," Giles acknowledged.  "It doesn't offend me that people think that.  M-mostly it doesn't come
up at all."
"Yeah," Buffy said.  "Guess not."  She looked down at her shoes for a moment.  "So...what are we going to do about Thaluth?"
"I'll do the ritual," Giles said, in the tone of someone accepting that tomorrow he would walk to the guillotine.  He was looking at her now, with a curious, unflinching bravery.  "Then I'll be consecrated and I can kill Thaluth myself.  We can't allow him to walk the Earth even a day longer than absolutely necessary.  There's no other way, and my emotional modesty is in no way as important as the lives of innocent people, not to mention our own.  To be honest, whoever it is has to also be able to take a weapon against the demon, and that will require some skill and experience even with the protection of the consecration's magic."
"Well," Buffy said slowly, "I'm fresh out of ideas for a partner for you, if you're going to insist on excluding me..."
"I am," Giles said firmly.
"So who, then?" she asked, exasperated by his misplaced chivalry.  "Faith?  I'm sure she'd be only too happy to say yes."
"She's too young," Giles said.  "Both of you are, her own promiscuity notwithstanding."
"The book says she just has to have reached puberty," Buffy said.
"That book was written four hundred years ago," Giles said.
"Girls got married when they were twelve or thirteen back then. Plus, it's just an absolute outside boundary.  The ritual would technically work with you...or a girl even younger...but I won't consider it.  It's not acceptable."
"It doesn't look to me like you have a lot of choices here," Buffy replied, still annoyed.
"I thought...I thought perhaps we could ask your mother," he said in a low voice, not meeting her eyes.  "If she'd be willing."
"Do you, uh, do you like my mom that way?" Buffy wondered with a faintly distressed and disgusted look.  Giles shook his head.
"No.  She's a lovely woman and I do like her, but no, not 'that way.'  It just seems like a more appropriate choice."
"It'd make things really complicated between you two," Buffy said.
"As if it wouldn't make things complicated between you and me?" Giles snapped, and Buffy was silent, looking at him.  He looked away, then pushed away from the banister to pace the floor. "I could...well, I could hire a prostitute," Giles said, putting his back to her and pausing by the counter.  "There's no reason for you to be involved.  Any woman will suffice."
"No," Buffy said angrily.  "I won't let you do that.  Jesus, Giles, this isn't just about defending the world from evil.  This is special for you.  It should be with someone you care about...even if you don't necessarily love them."  Her uncertainty made her voice falter, and he wanted to turn and embrace her gently, but kept still to let her regain her composure.  "Giles, do you really want your first time to be like that?  Hollow and impersonal?"  She saw his shoulders sag as he let out a deep, tired breath.
"No," he said, almost inaudibly.  "I don't.  I wanted it to be something I chose to do...with someone I loved and trusted."
"Then let me do it," she said gently, and she heard him sigh again.  Walking up behind him, she carefully put her hand on his back.  His breath caught but he didn't pull away, his head turning slightly.  "Okay, so it's not the kind of love you wish it was...but we do love each other, don't we?  As friends?  And trust each other, too?"  He didn't answer, and she could see his profile.  His head was bowed, lips pressed together tightly.  She realized he had slowly tensed under her hand, so she withdrew the touch.  He didn't relax, but glanced sidelong at her.  His eyes were hard, reflecting everything back and not allowing her to see into his thoughts or feelings. 
"It would be grossly unfair to you," he said finally, his voice low and as unrevealing as his eyes.
"Giles," she said quietly, "I'm the Slayer.  Nobody said this job was easy.  If I could take your place, you know I would, but I can't, and I also can't let somebody else do what I should do myself. That's not right.  I know you think it's sort of perverted...but it's okay.  I mean, jeez, I did it with a guy who was two hundred and forty, and not even human besides.  That's about as perverted as it gets without crossing over into farm animals and rubber bedsheets." Giles let out a long sigh and took off his glasses to rub at his eyes with one hand.
"God, I can't believe we're talking about this," he murmured.
"Ditto," she said.  "Anyway, I'm legal.  It's not like you'd be breaking the law or anything."
"It's not the law I'm worried about breaking," Giles said.
He moved away from her, back toward the table, where he sat down heavily in one of the chairs and threw his glasses on the table carelessly.  She followed him, sitting in the chair at the table's end, not forcing him to look at her.
"I know it'll affect our relationship," Buffy said.
"Everything that happens to us affects our relationship.  The world's not on 'pause,' Giles.  Stuff happens and we deal.  That's the way it works."  She reached out for his hand where it rested on the table, and he squeezed gently, accepting the kindness.  "If you'll let me, I'd feel really privileged to be your first."  She saw his mouth quirk in a wan smile, his gaze still focused on something nonexistent on the other side of the library.
"You sound very sure of yourself," he commented.
"Really?" Buffy said, her eyebrows knitting.  "Must be something in the water."  He laughed quietly, hardly more than a
breath, but it was a good sign.  "Can I ask you something?"  He actually looked at her finally, his expression unconsciously open and guileless.
"If you wish," he said.
"Why?" she asked.  "Why wait this long?"
"I never met anyone I was that close to," he said simply. He glanced away again, but then forced himself to meet her eyes once more.  "It's not something I can do casually.  I just...can't. I've had sexual experiences...had girlfriends when I was younger.  I just...never wanted to take that last step.  It's too private, too close to the center of who I am.  Jenny...maybe we would have done that eventually, maybe not.  I can't say.  I loved her -- I loved all the women I was with -- but I never really knew them.  Do youunderstand?"
"I think so," she said, thinking about how little she knew Angel, and yet had made love to him anyway.  She wondered if that had been a mistake.  "Did Jenny know you were a virgin?"
"No," he said.  "I've rarely ever told anyone.  It seems unnecessary unless I get to the point where I would want to do anything about it, and any woman I felt that close to wouldn't be the sort to mind that I was new to it."  He thumb was rubbing the back of her hand slowly, and there was a long silence between them.
"Are you sure you want to do this?" he asked at last.
"Yeah," she said, covering his hand with her other one.
"I'm sure."
"We'll have to go pretty fast," he said.  "We should do it tonight."  She looked briefly anxious, then nodded.
"I know," she sighed.  "It's okay.  Your place, I guess?"
"Yes.  I've got most of what we need.  The rest I can get on the way home.  Can you come at about six?"
"No problem.  Do you want me to bring anything?
"I'd, um, suggest a change of clothes," he said shyly, "and if you eat supper first, eat lightly, or wait until after.  If you wish I'll take you to dinner."  He was mildly surprised when she giggled.
"The old sex for food routine, huh?" she said, and he flushed.  Before he could object, she waved her hand at him.
"Relax, Giles.  Joke.  Lighten up."  Her Watcher gave a deep sigh.
"Sorry," he said.  "This is just very embarrassing."
"Yeah, I know," she agreed.  "I guess we should tell the guys."

****

Out in the hallway, Xander, Willow and Oz waited.  Willow had made them move away from the door so Xander couldn't eavesdrop, and they had discussed among themselves what the Slayer and her Watcher might be talking about.
"I'm sorry, but I just can't swallow the fact that Giles is a virgin," Xander said.  "It's just so...creepy."
"I don't think it's creepy," Willow said defensively.  "I think it's nice.  It means he's not after women just for sex."  Oz cast her a faintly wounded look and she turned to him.  "Oh, I didn't mean you, Oz," she said.  "I meant, you know, jerky guys and stuff."
"Maybe he can't," Xander said.  "Maybe he's impotent or something.  Or has some really weird and unspeakable disease."
"He said it was by choice and not inability," Willow said.
"He could be lying," Xander replied.  "Wouldn't you lie about something like that?"
"No," Oz offered.
They all started when the library door burst open and Buffy stuck her head out.
"You guys can come back in now," she said.  She seemed relaxed, so they all followed her back into the library.  Giles was sitting at the table reading the book in which he'd found the ritual earlier.  He glanced up as they entered, then looked down again almost as quickly.  Buffy went over next to him to lean against the table.  He didn't seem discomfited by her closeness, but he sighed quietly and closed the book.  "Giles and I are going to do it," she said.
"Wow, that's, um...great?" Willow said, trying to read
Buffy's steady gaze and Giles' evasive silence.  Buffy's mouth quirked.
"Not for Thaluth," she said, "but otherwise it's okay."
"So then what?" Xander said.  "You guys do it and Thaluth goes poof?"
"The ritual itself doesn't harm Thaluth directly," Giles said, looking up.  His voice was clear and pedantic.  "It will render me invulnerable to him, however, and give any weapon I hold the capacity to harm him.  Then I could use a more conventional method."
"Like?"
"Taking his head with a sword is the traditional choice," the Watcher said coldly.  "It will do."  The tone made them all pause, and then Buffy filled the void.
"We'll do it tonight, at Giles' place.  Just us; you guys can go home.  If it works the world will once again be a Thaluth-free zone."
****

Buffy walked home that afternoon with a surreal sensation, as if the conversation in the library had been a hallucination.  It was nearly impossible to think of Giles in a sexual context.  He was a handsome and charismatic man -- she knew that -- but he was so repressed and introverted that she never got a sense of sensuality from him at all, much less any indication that he was a sexual being. She wondered if he even knew he was charismatic.  It shouldn't have surprised her that he was a virgin, given all that and what she knew of his personality.  Still, it was hard to grasp.  All the opportunities he must have had, and he had never given in?  Maybe his sex drive just wasn't that strong.  She'd read that it varied quite a bit from person to person.  Weren't men supposed to all be sex-focused, though?
A small, hard knot of anxiety had formed in the pit of her stomach by the time she got home.  She had already decided what she was going to tell her mother, and went upstairs to her room to drop off her stuff and think about what she needed to do.  She lay down on the bed, staring at the ceiling and wondering how she was going to do this tonight.  How much experience did Giles have? He'd said he'd had sexual experiences, so even if he was a virgin, he wasn't a total innocent.  There were a lot of things you could do without having intercourse, some of them pretty nasty.  It left open the question of his past, too, the young thug named Ripper who smoked, stole guns, vandalized and raised demons.  All of that and there had been no room for casual sex?  What was the explanation behind that?
And which of them was going to take the lead?  Should she let him or was he going to be too shy?  She'd thought he was going to die of embarrassment during their conversation in the library; he'd barely even looked at her the entire time.  Would he be offended if she were aggressive?  A lot of men seemed to hate that.  She had a terrible suspicion that he might be a die-hard make-love-with-the- lights-off type.  She at least wanted to see him -- he was cute. /I should take a shower,/ she thought, and got up to dig through her closet looking for the right clothes.  Something sexy? No.  It would embarrass him beyond belief.  She wanted to make him as comfortable as possible, and the "come hither" dynamic wasn't part of their relationship and probably never would be.  Jeans and a T-shirt.  She took a warm shower since it was a cool afternoon, and would probably get cooler that night.  Not that she wasn't always fastidious, but she paid particular attention to washing this time.  Some of it was awareness of the ritual aspect of this thing she and Giles were going to do.  Rituals often required bathing of some kind, or washing hands.  She caught sight of herself in the mirror when she got out of the shower, and spent a moment looking at her own nakedness. /What will he think?  Am I too skinny for him?  To muscular?  Too flat-chested?  What does he look like naked?  Why is it so hard to imagine?
She scurried down the hall to her bedroom, still wrapped in the towel, and got dressed before drying and combing out her hair more thoroughly.  She emptied out an overnight bag and packed a change of clothes and some toiletries.  Vampire hunting stuff went in after -- stakes, holy water, crosses and some lighter fluid and matches.  She wondered if she should wear any perfume, then decided not to.  Best not to be distracting, plus she didn't think she'd ever been able to wear it again without thinking of making love to him -- although that didn't seem entirely bad.  Another sudden thought sent her into the bathroom again to brush her teeth.  She decided not to eat.  She was too nervous.  She heard her mom as she bounded down the stairs, and paused in the kitchen doorway with her bag slung over her shoulder.  Joyce glanced up at the sound of her daughter's presence.
"Were you in the shower?" her mother asked, mildly curious.  She had obviously just come home from shopping, and there were groceries all over the kitchen.  She was busy making herself a tuna salad sandwich.  "You don't usually do that in the afternoon."
"I was cold," she said, which was half the truth.  She pretended to shiver.  "Wanted to warm up.  Oh," she added, trying to sound casual, "I'm going over to Giles' place tonight for training, and then we'll probably go on patrol right after."
"Okay," Joyce said.  There was nothing strange about this announcement.  It was part of Buffy's lifestyle and Joyce had come to accept that Buffy could take care of herself.  "You want something to eat first?"
"Nah," she said.  "Had a big lunch."
"Just be careful," her mother admonished.  They exchanged a wry look, and Buffy went out the door.

****

Giles had bathed with similar conscientiousness, but was now in the position of playing host to tonight's events.  He reviewed the ritual he'd found for destroying Thaluth, and compared it to his own Watcher's books about fighting Arch Demons and the proper use of virgins in consecration ceremonies.  The bedroom was not really going to be a good location for it, he concluded.  He couldn't set the candles up the way they needed to be; at equidistant points in the shape of a pentagram.  Pentagrams were used for power rituals, and symbolized man's physical and spiritual state.  The large rug in front of the fireplace was the only large space suitable, and since it was cold that night, he built a fire in the hearth.  The pentagram didn't have to be drawn, but needed to be fairly big to accommodate the space for the lovemaking itself.  He placed the white candles down carefully in copper pans to catch the wax, measuring the distances to be certain of the correct dimensions.  Some herbs were to be burned, and he set these out to be ready when needed. Other things were needed, too, and these were zipped up inside a black bag under the chair at the edge of the rug.  He moved it slightly as he unfolded a large, goosedown comforter on the floor. It was a deep, forest green, and would be much more comfortable than the bare rug.  He put another blanket on the couch, and resisted reviewing the contents of the zippered bag.  He already knew it contained what was required.  He had seen no point in wearing shoes, and went barefoot into the kitchen to get a glass of water.  He hadn't been able to eat, his belly twisted into an impossible tangle of nervousness, fear, and anger.  That this would be the only way to kill Thaluth -- surrendering this precious part of himself that he had kept so long -- made him almost blind with fury.  There was nothing the Hellmouth would not take from them.  To let Thaluth walk the earth was to invite a catastrophe as well as send a message that Slayers and Watchers were powerless against Arch Demons.  They could not allow that message to be sent, and if it also showed what a Watcher would willingly sacrifice in his fight against the Darkness, so much the better.
The rage would consume him if allowed, and he sat down on the green comforter, taking a few moments to calm himself.  A stick of white cloud incense helped to clear his mind of distractions. He wanted to be completely focused on the ritual, not just for its own sake, but because Buffy deserved nothing less than his full attention.
It wasn't that he had never noticed that she was beautiful.  It was obvious enough, but the pride he had felt in her had always been paternal, and his awareness of her beauty had been similarly avuncular.  She was just, well, a child in his mind, in spite of being on the verge of full maturity.  He sat on the floor for a while as the warmth from the fire filled the room, trying to quiet the trembling that seemed to start deep in his belly and spread outward to consume him.  What was he afraid of, exactly?  Trusting her?  He didn't think that trust would be misplaced, and he had to remind himself that she was probably much less experienced than he was sexually, in spite of the fact that he was a virgin and she wasn't.
There was a knock on the door, and he started, then glanced at the clock on the wall.  She was a little early, but that was understandable.  He was glad he hadn't asked her to come later. The waiting would have killed him.  He rose to walk across the floor in the house's calm silence.  He had opted not to put any sort of music on -- to do so seemed incongruously romantic.  Pulling the door open, he found her casually dressed with a leather bag over one shoulder.  Their eyes met for a long moment.
"Hi," she said awkwardly.  Giles stepped back slightly to let her in.
"Come in, Buffy," he was quietly, warmly.  She entered his house with a trepidation that was wholly out of keeping with her usual energy in his presence, as if she had never been here before. She jumped at the sound of the door being shut behind her, and glanced back to see Giles coming toward her.  "Let me take that," he said, offering his hand out for her bag, and she gave it to him.  She took in the dark comforter on the floor and the fire in the hearth, which cast gold and orange light around the otherwise shadowed room.  White candles were spaced out around the rug.  She jumped again when Giles' hand came to rest on her shoulder.  "Why don't you take your shoes off and we'll sit."  She obeyed in silence, bending over to slip off the athletic shoes without untying them and lining them up at the edge of the couch.  Giles came around her onto the comforter, and looked back at her when she gave a muffled laugh.  "What?" he wondered, curious of her amusement.
"Just realized I've never seen you barefoot before," she said, and he followed her gaze down to his feet.  He gave a sheepish
half-shrug, and sat down on the floor, gesturing slightly for her to join him.  She sat cross-legged in front of him, not too close, and realized that he was looking straight at her, unlike their conversation earlier that day.  "So," she said, desperate to break the quiet.  "I guess we should, uh, get started."
"I thought we might talk for a bit first," he said, and she sighed, relaxing slightly at his calm, low voice.  "We're both nervous...but I don't want you to be afraid of me."
"Um...am I afraid of you?" she asked, shifting a little.
"You look like you expect me to eat you alive," he said. His voice was still gentle and sonorous.  "If you want to ask me something, you can, you know.  You must still be wondering about the fact that I'm a virgin."
"It's just all the stuff we found out about your juvenile delinquent days," Buffy said, lacing her hands together in her lap and sounding apologetic.  "Stealing, fighting, demon summoning.  I just sort of assumed that sex came in there somewhere."
"It did," he said, surprising her with the blunt answer.  He glanced away ruefully.  "I daresay I've done everything but intercourse.  That was a long time ago...but I'm not naive and I'm not ignorant."  He sighed.  "I'm sorry about all this."
"Actually, I was thinking before that we should be pretty darn glad that you're a virgin," Buffy said.  "Otherwise we'd be screwed for a way to kill Thaluth."  She realized what she'd said as Giles flinched.  "Sorry.  Bad choice of words."
"It's all right," he replied, shaking his head slightly.  He wasn't wearing his glasses, but the buttoned shirt and charcoal trousers were different from the clothes he'd worn earlier.  "I think erhaps we should try to find our sense of humor about this.  I must be making it sound like I would rather die than make love to you, which isn't the case at all.  It's just...not the way I've come to think of you...not the sort of thoughts a Watcher would have..."  He trailed off, just looking at her.
"What?" she asked, and he looked away again.
"Sorry," he murmured, then gave a nervous laugh.  "You're just...so young."
"I'm eighteen," she reminded him, then cocked her head.
"How old are you, anyway?"
"Forty-three," he said.  "God, I could be your father."
"But you're not," she said with a twinkle in her eye.  "So how does this ritual go?"
"I just have to light the candles and speak an opening incantation.  Then I'll start some herbs burning and we, uh, make love.  It doesn't really matter how long it takes, as long as we're inside the pentagram while we do it.  When it's done, there's a closing incantation.  Don't worry about those -- I've already memorized them, and they're in Latin anyway.  If the ritual is done correctly, I will be consecrated and Thaluth will not be able to harm me.  I can take a sword to him tonight and kill him."
"Sounds pretty straightforward.  Does the consecration make you permanently invulnerable to Arch Demons?"
"Yes," Giles said.  "So at least there is something else longstanding to be gained."
"So how do we do it correctly?" Buffy wondered.  "Is there a wrong way to lose your virginity?"  Her Watcher looked away again shyly.
"We, um, there has to be penetration.  The position's not important as long as the coupling itself is accomplished."  He took a careful breath, struggling for the composure to talk about it academically.  "It doesn't...it doesn't have to be taken to orgasm. Intercourse is enough."
"Ah," Buffy said.  "Okay."
"Oh...um, there's something else I need to do," he said, suddenly rising to his feet.
"What?" Buffy asked, frowning.  She hadn't detected anything in his description of the ritual that seemed to be unmet, from what she could see of their surroundings.
"It's just a minor thing," he said, turning away toward the stairs.  "I'll just be a minute."
"Giles," she said in a warning tone, and he paused as if jerked to a halt by an invisible leash.  "What?"  It was a demand, tolerant but firm, and Giles sighed, then came back to the comforter to sit down again.  He rested his elbows on his knees wearily and rubbed at his face, then back through his hair.
"It's, uh, it's been quite a while since I, um..."
"Played with yourself?" she supplied with an arched eyebrow.  He grunted, presumably an affirmative reply.
"I won't have any control," he said, shaking his head slightly, obviously embarrassed not only by talking about this, but by the fact itself.  "I would have taken care of it earlier except that I just realized it."
"Well, uh, if all we have to do is get it in there, that probably won't matter."  She knew she was blushing, but gazed at him steadily since he wasn't looking at her.  He sighed.
"You're going to have to trust me on this," he said.  "I should do something about it before we start."
"Don't I get to do it, then?" she asked, and he lifted wide eyes to her.
"Um..."  He cleared his throat.  "If...if you wish, I suppose."
"Is that okay with you?" she wondered anxiously, still shocked at herself that she'd had the audacity to make the offer in
the first place, and fascinated by his stunned reaction.  "I mean...obviously it's up to you, but...oh, I don't know what the heck I mean.  Forget I said it."  He just stared at her, still with that astonished expression, and she realized the nature of the choice she was forcing upon him.  "You couldn't forget that any more than you could stop breathing, could you?" she asked with gentle sarcasm, and her Watcher swallowed hard.
"Buffy...you're under absolutely no obligation to do any of this," he said softly.  "Truthfully, I'm glad that it's you.  I doubt that I could, well, perform with anyone else.  Even so it's going to take some effort on my part to relax enough."  He looked apologetic. "When I was sixteen I could be ready at the drop of a hat.  Not quite that easy anymore, I'm afraid.  Takes some patience and I've never been particularly quick to rouse unless my mind is engaged as well as my body."  He sighed and looked away, then rose to his knees to stretch over to the hearth for the matches.  "I should start the ritual before we go any further."  He lit the candles one by one, making sure they were seated in the copper trays.  The herbs he put in the glazed ceramic dish he'd used for the Japanese incense.  He lit a small clump of dried lemon grass and mixed it in with the herbs as it burned.  The sweet, earthy smell filled the room, and Giles moved back to the center of the green comforter to speak the incantation that would begin the ritual:

"Tonight I am pure, innocent in mind and body.
Evil cannot touch me here, and I am immortal.
I surrender my identity for this moment,
To open my soul for the Flaming Sword.
I eat from the Tree to see my enemy's weakness.
My eyes thus opened, nothing shall stay my blade."

******

Nothing obvious happened, but when Giles looked at her again, she saw in his eyes that he had committed himself to this completely.  "You can leave the pentagram if you need to, but all of our lovemaking must take place inside it until the ritual is done." Buffy nodded her understanding, then also got up on her knees and shuffled around behind him.  "What are you doing?" he asked, more than a little apprehensively.
"I don't have to be turned on for this to work," she said matter-of-factly.  "One advantage of being a girl.  You, we're going
to have to figure out how to turn you on.  You gotta help me, but we can start by relaxing you.  The traditional gimmick is a massage. Works every time."
"Oh, I -- " The sensation of her hands digging into the taut muscles in his shoulders made him momentarily lose coherent thought.  "I see," he said breathlessly.  She was actually touching him, actually laying her hands upon his body.  He couldn't really take in this fact, confused as he was by the anxiety and guilt -- and now, pleasure -- that flamed inside him.  In the next instant he was moving forward, out of her reach, his breath coming hard in his chest.  "I don't think I can do this," he panted, starting to get up to leave the pentagram, but Buffy grabbed his arm and jerked him to a stop.
"Giles, we have to," she said.  "I know it's hard.  Jesus, you think this is easy for me?  It's okay.  You can trust me."  He was on his knees, half-turned back to her with panic in his eyes. "I don't want this to destroy us," he whispered.  "There has to be another way to kill Thaluth.  I can find someone else.  Buffy, I'm so afraid that if we do this, it will ruin our friendship and our ability to work together.  I can't take a risk like that with the Slayer. I can't take a risk like that with you."  He moved again, this time back toward her, lunging to take her in his arms and hold her to him tightly.  "I'm supposed to be your teacher," he murmured against her soft hair, stroking her back soothingly.  She hugged him in return, accepting his fear and his love, then pulled out of his embrace to look at him.
"Giles, if I were the virgin and somebody had to do this with me, I'd want it to be you," she said seriously, quietly.  He looked painfully torn, and she touched his face gently.  "What you are most of all is my Watcher.  I know our friendship can survive this, because we care too much about each other to let anything else happen.  It's okay for you to like this," she said, and he gave a strange, half-flinch.  "That's what scares you, isn't it?  That you might enjoy this.  I want you to, Giles.  I want to make you feel good.  That's what lovemaking is supposed to be -- showing how much you love someone." She leaned forward slowly, giving him the chance to refuse, but he met her mouth with his own softly, just barely brushing her lips with his eyes half-closed.  His lips were warm and sensuous even though the kiss itself was chaste.  His expression was difficult to read when she pulled back enough to look at him, but after another heartbeat, he was the one who moved to kiss her, still with that amazing gentleness.  His hand came up to twine his fingers in her hair, holding her head carefully, and they kissed slowly, learning the other's rhythm and exploring cautiously.
Both of her hands were in his hair, stroking, caressing him. She rubbed at the muscles in his neck and shoulder, trying to reassure him.  The kindness made his throat tighten, and he found himself kissing her with real desire, still yet gentle but filled with affection and warmth.  It was when her mouth opened beneath his that he discovered how much he wanted to taste her, and he accepted the invitation eagerly, his tongue finding hers in another caress of love.
Buffy was a little surprised by the sudden sincerity of his passion -- the difference was striking.  She tasted fire in his soul and hunger in his body, and when he began nuzzling under her chin, the touch of his mouth on her skin seared her like a white-hot brand. She sensed a certain amount of clinical method in it, but there was an underlying sexual heat that made her stomach clench.  Lifting her chin, she tried to keep still to let him kiss softly at her throat, her hands around his neck and shoulders, enjoying his warmth.  That was one marked difference between him and Angel.  Angel was cold, as all vampires were.  No breath or blood moved in his body.
Giles was hot, burning her with his touch, and she felt the man that he was for the first time.  It was actually a bit of a jolt, really grasping him as male and not just as a force called "Watcher" in herlife.
"It's all right for you to touch me," he murmured.
"What?" she asked, a little dazed.  He drew back to look at her, and she expected him to be amused by her disorientation, but he just gazed at her seriously.
"You were right before, when you said that my own arousal is crucial to the success of this ritual," he answered, his voice low.
"You need to touch me."  He hesitated.  "Talk to me a little.  If...if you really want to make me feel good, I'd like to know it."
"Oh.  Um, what do you want me to do?" she asked, her anxiety returning now that they were having to discuss this instead of just acting as they had been a moment ago.  Giles shook his head slightly, an ambivalent gesture.
"I don't really have a preference at this point.  Explore if you're curious, or ask me a question.  Don't worry about whether you're doing it right or not."  She glanced up into his amber eyes, wondering how he had read that fear in her so accurately.
"Everyone's different.  I'll let you know if something's uncomfortable."  He swallowed, visibly debating how much he should share with her.  "I like being touched, n-not just sexually." She heard the implicit challenge, saw it in his eyes; Find the places that make me tremble and moan and make me want you. It would have been very easy to make a wry remark, or do something else that made light of what Giles was telling her.  The harder thing to do was to take the confession as he gave it -- trustingly, as a private confidence.  She didn't smile, and reached up to put her palm against his jaw and neck.
"Can I keep going with the massage?" she asked, and Giles nodded, inwardly relieved that she didn't want to rush this any more than he did.
"Of course."  He shifted farther into the center of the invisible pentagram and Buffy got behind him again.  He wasn't sure what to expect as he sat down in a half cross-legged pose, but the iron surety of her strength caught him off guard, and he grunted as her fingers dug slowly into his shoulders.
"Sorry," she said.  "That hurt?"
"No," he said truthfully.  "I just keep forgetting how strong you are."  She was rubbing carefully across his trapezius with both hands, going deep but not hard.
"Yeah, me and Lou Ferrigno should join the Olympic
Weightlifting Team," she muttered.
"No, I like it," he said, turning his head slightly.  "You have natural talent, which shouldn't surprise me."  He paused, feeling her silence heavily.  "Does it embarrass you?  Having preternatural strength?"
"It's weird sometimes," she admitted, still in that quiet voice.  "Being able to stop three-hundred-pound football players in their tracks.  Being in the big no-no position of protecting Xander from getting beaten up.  He's never going to forgive me for that, either," she said with a sigh.  "I remember what it was like before I became a Slayer, before I got the strength.  Pretty much everybody else could kick my butt.  Now, I could knock you into your next life if I wanted to."
"Don't be so sure of that," he replied wryly.  "You may be stronger, but I outweigh you by nearly a hundred pounds.  I also fight dirty."
"So do I," she said defensively.  She could hear him smiling.
"No, you don't, from what I've seen," he said.  "And Watcher-Slayer conflicts are historically fairly nasty." "Hey, who's giving who a massage here, huh?" she said, and made him grunt again with a deep probe into the muscles below his shoulder blades.
"It feels wonderful," he said gratefully, leaning forward to let her rub along his spine.  A sensuous warmth was pooling in the pit of his stomach, slowly spreading down into his groin.  "It's been a very long time since anyone's done anything like this for me."
"There's something deeply twisted about a world where it takes an Arch Demon coming out of the Hellmouth just to get you a backrub," she said.
"At the moment I'm not complaining," he purred.  Her hands slid to his sides and flanks, making him draw in a sharp breath of surprise.  She froze, and he exhaled quiveringly.  "Not complaining at all."  She was fascinated by what she had learned of his musculature, and he had asked her to touch him, so she reached around his body to rub her hands across his chest and stomach, learning the lines and curves and feeling him flinch slightly at certain places.  He said nothing, and when she laid her palm on his breastbone, she could feel his heart pounding fast and hard.  That she could excite her own Watcher so much, when he had admitted he was horribly nervous and shy, was a tremendous thrill. She was pressed close up against his back, her knees on either side of his hips, and Giles discovered that he was actually holding back from turning to kiss her again.  Her hands brushed across his chest, just barely stroking his nipples, and he wondered if she realized how good it felt to him.  He'd been afraid he would feel violated by this encounter, and had steeled himself for it, but she was coaxing sounds from him -- low, brief purrs of pleasure -- and he had never needed to fake that.  He flinched again when her hands returned to the collar of his shirt, and all at once he realized she was unbuttoning it.  A flood of wanting and helpless desire made him gasp, but she didn't stop, her movements determined and gentle.
"You want me to?" she asked quietly.
"Yes," he breathed, the answer leaving his throat without conscious thought.  She worked her way down, the feather-light touch at each button sending a ripple of ice-cold adrenaline up his spine.  Then his shirt was undone, and she pulled it away from his shoulders.  He freed the tails of the shirt from his trousers to help her, shrugging out of it self-consciously.  She did something with the shirt behind him, and then her hands settled on his bare shoulders. Buffy felt his body tense sharply under her hands, his breath leaving him through his nose in a soft rush of enormous emotion as his head half-turned to her over his shoulder.  She could feel the question burning inside him; Do I please you?  Am I beautiful enough? 
Her answer to this wouldn't accept words.  He had strength in his shoulders, an unassuming, masculine grace that she found heart-stopping.  She ran her hands down his arms, feeling the curved bulk of muscles there, and she felt them move as he shifted against her.  She kissed him on the back of his neck, a soft, erotic mouthing that was almost a lick of her tongue, and was rewarded by the low sound of a purr from his throat. Then she embraced him, slipping her arms under his to mold herself to his back and resting her chin over his shoulder.  Her bare arms around him, her hands on his chest and stomach, the sensation of her body pressed against him, was overwhelming.  She just held him like that for several long moments, which stretched into minutes, and he felt no desire to end it.  To feel arousal was not so difficult.  Their bodies helped them with that.  For her to cherish him, however, to respect and appreciate him, those were other, more complex things.  He felt these in her embrace, and she was trying desperately in that warm silence to tell him how deep it ran in her. When her hands began to move again, he felt the profound difference in her touch.  She wanted to please him, not just for the sake of the ritual, but because she wanted to give him that joy as a personal gift.  She stroked down his stomach to the edge of his trousers, gauging the way he shuddered.  Back up the gentle line of his ribs, her fingers ran over his nipples lightly, and he couldn't help but gulp a harsh breath at the flash of sweet pleasure that ripped through him.  The way she started told him that she hadn't done it on purpose -- hadn't known that he was sensitive there or even suspected it.  She did not recoil, but held him firmly, and her solid strength let him push back against her without fear.  He'd never been with anyone who could handle him like this so easily, and the wildness in his belly surged hungrily.
"Looks like I found a good spot," she murmured playfully, and he groaned desperately as she toyed with his nipples.  He had leaned his head back onto her shoulder, the clean smell of her hair another kind of pleasure that he drank in with a soft purr.
"Care -- careful," he panted.  "T-told you I'd be quick the first time.  Too much to take in after so long..."  He was stunned to hear her laugh softly against his neck.
"If I can make you come that easily, I want to see it," she said, and one of her hands slipped down to his groin to cup the shape of his hard cock in his trousers.  He shivered and pushed up into her palm, one of his feet finding leverage on the floor.
"God, oh," he gasped, the coiled tension in his loins shifting warningly.  It was delicious and hot and he turned his head to try to bite her neck.  Her hand slid into his trousers in the same moment, under the soft boxer shorts he wore, and the feel of her cool fingers closing around the length of him was too much to endure. He reached back to hold her as the climax tore him apart, groaning and panting with ecstasy as he came through her fingers and over her hand in his shorts.  She was stroking him, applying pressure in time with his own contractions, bringing the pleasure up to a high plateau that it wouldn't have reached on its own.  He felt fantastically out of control, reaching for her throat with his mouth as the orgasm began to fade, and he knocked them both to the floor as he bent over her and sated the urge to bite by bruising her throat with his teeth and growling roughly.
She was giggling even as he pinned her to the green comforter in his feral pleasure, and when she withdrew her hand from his trousers, he grabbed her wrist and descended on her fingers with his tongue, devouring every trace of his semen on her hand. When he looked at her again, she was no longer laughing, uncertain whether he was rational right now or not.  He bent his head to her hand again and kissed her knuckles softly.  He was calm in another breath, but heavy with satiation and relaxed pleasure.
"That fast enough for you?" he asked in a deep voice.  She merely raised an eyebrow.
"Pretty impressive for a guy who says he doesn't get aroused as easily as he used to."
"I didn't want you to be concerned if it turned out to be difficult for me," he replied, sitting up again and helping her as well.  "Apparently I don't find you to be a turnoff."
"Flattering, I guess," she said wryly.
"I didn't mean it that way," he said with a sigh, and she giggled again as he lay down on his back for a few moments, recovering his breath.
"I know.  So do you feel more relaxed now?"  He surprised her by laughing lazily.
"Infinitely," he murmured.  "I should clean myself up."  He rolled over to stretch toward the chair where he'd left the zippered bag, and took a small hand towel from it.  Rising to his knees, he faced away from her to unfasten his trousers and deal with the mess he had made.  His modesty amused Buffy no end, and she scooted across the floor to hug him from behind, kissing his bare back.
"Don't I get to watch?" she teased, and he grunted tolerantly.
"Well, you've basically put me in the position of having to take off my shorts anyway," he said with mock gravity, "so you'll get plenty to look at in a moment if you can just contain yourself." He finished with the towel and then shed his pants and boxers, putting them outside the pentagram.  "Come take a look now if you want," he said softly, amused by his Slayer's fascination with his body.  He turned to face her kneeling, and touched her jaw and shoulders lightly as she studied him.  His penis had softened somewhat, and he saw the faint, ghostlike smile on her lips as she took it in her hand.  She brushed her fingerpads across one of his nipples again, watching his stomach contract in a flinch at the sensitive caress.  "Do you know, you're very beautiful," he murmured.
"You don't think I'm too skinny?"
"Let's find out," he said, and dragged her shirt up over her head before she could say anything.  She yelped indignantly but was giggling again when he moved in closer and reached around her back to unfasten her bra.  "Whoever invented these bloody things should have been shot," he groused.  She helped him and together they got it off and it, too, was flung beyond the perimeter of the pentagram space.
He couldn't help but reach out and touch her collarbone, drawn by the sharp strength that was visible in her musculature.  He wondered if it wasn't her perceived skinniness that bothered her as much as this taut physique.  It was considered unfeminine by a large segment of society, but the sight of it enthralled him.  "No," he said.  "Not too skinny, by any means.  You're magnificent, and don't argue with me.  I'm your Watcher and I know these things better than you do."  She had opened her mouth to object, but now closed it as he made her accept his words and the gentle affection as he kissed her lightly on the lips.
"Okay," she said, her voice unsteady because he had started to kiss down the side of her throat, then along her shoulder.  Virgin or not, he definitely knew what he was doing, and she lifted her head to let him kiss under her jaw.  "You gonna bite me again?" "Do you want me to?" he asked, his breath warm across her neck.
"Yeah...but not so hard this time," she whispered.  His mouth brushed over an unmarked place on the side of her neck, and the bite that he offered was gentle and sensuous, just barely letting her feel his teeth.  It felt less like a bite and more like he was trying to completely take in the taste and smell of her skin.  "Nice," she said softly.  The bite became more kisses, and she shivered.  "I thought...I thought you were the one we were supposed to be turning on," Buffy said in a strained voice, unwilling and unable to pull away from the glorious warmth and pleasure of his attentions. "That's what I'm doing," he mumbled against her shoulder. He pulled her up close to him and laid her down on her back, covering her with his body to continue kissing and nipping down her neck to one of her breasts.  She felt the thick weight of his penis against her thigh and realized that he was slowly becoming erect again from pleasuring her.  The delicate wetness of his tongue on her nipple made her arch against him with a cry of surprise, and she grabbed at his shoulders as he hummed with amusement.  He sat back just enough to use both hands on her jeans, unbuttoning them and then dragging them off along with her panties.  She heard him make a soft sound, possibly words, but his amazement was clear in his tone.  She shivered at the light stroke of his palm down her muscled thigh, and then he took one of her wrists to guide her hand down between his legs to feel his hardening cock. 
"See what you do to me?" he murmured.  She held him firmly, curious and fascinated by the way his expression changed when she caressed him.  The erection in her hand stiffened a little more, its comfortable length seeming to make a silent demand of her that she didn't resent.  "I'm ready," he said.  "Is it all right?"  She swallowed hard.
"Yeah," she said.  "Um, condom..."  Giles nodded and backed away from her.
"I know," he said.  It was one of the other things he had in the zippered bag, and she rolled onto her side to watch with interest as he took out a dark blue condom package and opened it.  She wondered if he'd ever even used one before, being a virgin, but he seemed to be doing it right so she didn't say anything.
"So?" she asked when he was done and looked up at her. She was surprised to see him gesture for her to come to him and he laid down on his back.
"I want you on top," he said, his voice soft and strained.
"Easier for you to control and harder for me to hurt you."  She complied carefully, straddling him and looking down at his penis, which was amusingly sheathed in a pale blue condom.  She lifted her gaze to his eyes and they were both silent for a long moment.  There was a strange ache deep in her loins, a physical wanting that seemed to permeate her very bones.
"Okay?" she asked.  He nodded, repressing another shiver, and reached down between them to hold his penis.  "Let me do that."  Her hand was guiding him, and he rested his palms on her thighs, not sure what else to do as she moved into the right position to accept him.
He could not have imagined the sensation; a mixture of tightness and heat that was overwhelmed by a feeling of contentment and completion.  His back arched and he tried desperately not to thrust into her as his eyes closed and he groaned from the bottom of his soul.  She was going so slowly, gradually taking him in and making soft, tense sounds of pleasure and pain.  When he could open his eyes again, she was bowed over him, her face a tableau of rapture.  He felt her contract around him briefly, then relax again, and she sank down to take him completely, finally sitting astride him.
"All right?" he asked quietly, rubbing his hands gently up her arms in a comforting gesture.  She nodded slightly, not looking at him, but he saw the smile that flashed across her face and was gone again the next breath.  He felt peaceful, in no hurry to do anything or go anywhere, just lying there buried inside her and thinking about how much he loved her.  "I think this is enough," he said, almost inaudibly because he was afraid of breaking some other kind of spell around them.  "Let me finish the incantation."

"Tonight I am pure, innocent in mind and body.
My hand is raised and I see the Lightning Path.
I am redemption.  I am God.
Demons of the Seventh Circle cannot touch me.
Grant me courage, for I must walk untouched
Through chaos."

******

Giles felt a suffusion of strength and magic that coincided with the loss of his fear regarding Thaluth and the havoc the demon
could wreak.  The power spread through him, intertwining itself with his very being and becoming part of his magic as a Watcher.  It was like filling in gaps between loose bricks and cementing a foundation to support a great weight.  He knew he could kill Thaluth now, and any Arch Demon that might follow after. "Did it work?" Buffy asked him, and he sighed.
"Yes.  I feel the magic settling inside me.  I think we did it right."  He was smiling gently, almost fully relaxed on the floor and gazing up at her with sleepy pleasure.
"Guess you're not a virgin anymore," Buffy said, smiling down at him.  His answering hum was content and joyful.
"Guess not," he murmured.
"Then we can stop now," she said, touching his chest lightly for a moment, lost in thought.  His smile faded as she moved to withdraw from him, and she caught the silent longing in his face.
"You don't want to stop, do you?" she said softly.  He didn't answer for a long moment, but touched her face with both hands, then her shoulders.
"I don't have the right to ask," he replied quietly,running his hand lightly down her arm with hesitant tenderness.  Buffy settled her weight on him again gently, accepting him completely inside her, and he hissed softly, closing his eyes for a moment.
"Yes, you do," she said.  He swallowed hard, stroking up across her shoulder again.
"You mean more to me than I've ever been able to express," he whispered.  "I never...never thought of trying to show it this way...but I want to make love to you.  This feels...it's unbelievable.  I didn't know it could be so incredibly sweet."
"I think it's different with different people," Buffy told him softly.  She leaned down to kiss him gently.  "Depends how you really feel about each other."  She smiled at his expression of innocent wonder.  "Do you want to change positions?  Or do you want me to keep going?"
"I like what we're doing now," he said, finally putting his hands on her hips.  "Go slowly with me.  I want to savor it." The next time she rose up off of him, it was a deliberate thrust and drove a strangled grunt of ecstasy and astonishment and awe from deep in his throat.  Her eyes were half-closed, not revealing her inner emotions, but he could see and feel her desire in the way she moved.  She rose again, plunged down on him with excruciating slowness, then again, and again until it was a continuous, building wave of pressure and joy inside him that was so intense it felt like it would rip him asunder.  "Oh my God," he growled.  "God, Buffy, does this feel to you the way it feels to me?"
"I dunno," she whispered, leaning on his chest and bending down to kiss him as she paused for a moment.  "Does it feel like you've been waiting all your life to do it?"  He knew what he needed to do then, and he sat up from the floor and turned her over carefully, ignoring the boundaries of the pentagram now.  He settled his weight on top of her and pushed deep, drowning in the satisfaction of being able to fill her this way, and lowered himself to devour her mouth with soft, thorough acceptance and wanting.  She answered with pure hunger, her arms around his neck, welcoming him as totally as a woman could welcome a man.  He relaxed and then gave another slow, sensuous thrust.  Her legs wrapped around his, holding him to her, and he let out a long, shivering breath. She couldn't tell him this was what she wanted, that she wanted him to take this from her as surely as she had taken him at first.  He was trembling, his body straining to go slow, to keep control of this as he rocked her with deep, full thrusts.  He was relishing each one, wringing every last ounce of sensation and elight, his face unconsciously showing her the strength of what he couldn't say aloud.
Her hand stroking at the soft hair of his neck gradually gave way to an iron grip around his shoulder, each breath coming harder and more labored as he moved them toward some indefinable conclusion.  Sweat pooled between their bellies, his back slick with it and the hollow of her throat glistening.
"Breathe, luv," he whispered, laughing softly.  "You've got to breathe."
"Feels too good," she moaned.  "You feel too good, Giles..."  That name uttered with such longing and passion made fire ripple up his back.
"Oooh, God," he breathed, brushing his mouth along her shoulder.  "I'm close, Buffy.  God, it's fantastic."
"Come on," she said.  "Want to see you."  He hissed softly against her skin, letting go of the tension that had held him back, the reluctance that had made him afraid to let her see that she could rouse this in him.  It had shocked him to discover it, but now it felt like the conclusion of a long journey they had begun unknowingly. The flame gathered in his loins, at the base of his spine, liquid sensation coalescing into a point of intolerable glory.  It could only have been a few pounding heartbeats that he felt the climb, but the traveling itself was delicious beyond his imagination. "God, Buffy," he panted.  "Oh, Jesus --"  The climax was like none he had known.  No sudden explosion, no violent release, just a huge, consuming wave that lifted him up and filled him with ecstasy.  His cock let go suddenly, surging quick and hard, making him shudder again with the need to spill his seed in her and claim her somehow with the act.  His throat ached, his voice rending the quiet house with tormented, joyful groans and whimpers.  He knew it had to go away, and when the orgasm faded it was like losing part of his soul, and he moaned with loss.  He kissed her throat, lingering there with tenderness as his blood cooled and he was left with the sated serenity of his love for her.
"What is it?" she asked, rubbing her fingers through his hair and stroking his jaw.  He nuzzled her gently.
"Just don't want it to stop," he whispered.  "Let me pull out and I'll do something for you -- "  She held him when he tried to
pull away from her.
"No," she said.  "It's fine.  Just...just stay here for a minute."  He sank into her embrace again, holding her close for as long as he dared now that he was losing his erection.  He knew he needed to get the condom off, and he finally gave a quiet sigh. 
"I know," Buffy said in his ear, sounding distinctly amused.  "Go ahead."
"Maybe I should just get a vasectomy and be done with it," he muttered, and she gasped as he withdrew from her.  He removed the condom carefully, tied the end into a knot, and wrapped it in a tissue before using the towel again to clean himself as much as he could.  "I should go tonight," he said, reaching for his boxer shorts and quickly starting to dress.  "I'm sorry for how this looks," he said wryly, "but Thaluth should be dealt with immediately.  It shouldn't take me long.  You're perfectly welcome to stay here. More than welcome, truthfully."  His voice was warm and quiet, the sort of voice she had never heard from him before tonight.
"I'm going with you," she said, crawling to the edge of the comforter to find her underwear and jeans.  Giles stopped her when she tried to stand up.
"No," he said.  "You won't be able to fight him and he could kill you."
"But you can't go by yourself.  Even lightning won't take that guy out."
"I'm invulnerable to him now, Buffy," he said gently.  "He can't harm me."
"But what if the ritual didn't work right?" she said.  "What if...if something went wrong and Thaluth winds up killing you?"
"If that's true, then you coming with me won't prevent it, and if I can't kill Thaluth now, then there's nothing we can do to stop him from destroying the entire city of Sunnydale and moving on.  I have to go alone."  She watched him, frowning, as he went to the chair again to retrieve the scabbarded broadsword he had put there earlier.  He drew the blade with a rasp, examined it once more in the firelight cursorily, then sheathed it again and sat in the chair to put on his boots.  "This house is yours, as always," he said when he looked up.  "Take a bath or get something to eat if you wish. When I come back we can talk about dinner, if not tonight, then another time."  He went forward to kneel in front of her.  "You've given me a greater gift tonight than you realize," he whispered, and kissed her softly.  "I'll be back in a little while."
"Be careful," she said, hugging him.
"I will."

****

The house seemed too quiet after he left, and Buffy blew out the candles from the ritual, then lay down on the comforter on the floor, thinking.  Her body ached from their lovemaking, a pleasant ache that made her wonder how much she might have hurt him if she felt this exhausted.  He hadn't seemed to be in pain, but maybe that was just the power from the ritual.
She hoped that the spell worked as advertised.  Giles had been quite sure that it would, and she had to trust his judgement. Waiting around like this was going to be hell.  She wished she had followed him, just to have something to do.  She still could go, but she knew Giles was right that she would only be putting herself at risk needlessly.  She'd brought a book with her that she was in the middle of reading, so she decided that a shower and a change of clothes was a good idea.  Then she could get lost in the book and not think about whether or not her Watcher was going to get killed tonight and precede the total destruction of Sunnydale. "If I die before I get to finish this book," she muttered on her way up the stairs, "I'm gonna be really pissed."

****

They knew where Thaluth was living.  His trip to the earthly plane had not been easy to accomplish.  Normally it would have been impossible, but the Hellmouth had provided the necessary thinness between the dimensions.  He was hiding for a time, waiting until he was fully recovered from his arrival before he set upon the world of men.  Even so, he was already more than even a Slayer could handle, and once completely recovered, no manmade weapon would be able to harm him.
Giles went to the shipyard, where pleasure boats lined the slips in dark, gently bobbing rows.  Beyond this were the commercial docks, where ships came in with cargo.  One seaworthy vessel was tied up there, a few lights on inside the inner cabins, but Giles went still farther down the wharf, to where an old, scuttled tanker lay in the still ocean.  The outer hull was breached and rusting, only still afloat at all because of the double-hull that some tankers had.  It was far from seaworthy, however, and had been abandoned for several years awaiting a refit by a shipping company that had since gone bankrupt.
Oddly enough, there was a gangplank up to the ship's bow, presumably so that Thaluth's minions would be able to come and go easily.  Giles drew his sword and went up the wide board carefully, wary not only of his footing, but of being detected by whatever might be inside the ship.  He reached the deck in silence, pausing for a moment to listen, but the only sound he heard was the slow lapping of black water at the hull many feet below and the occasional, irregular clanging of a depth buoy out in the channel. He went in through an open hatch, finding two beyond it to be dogged tight, but the corridor led him down into the bowels of the ship, where he began to encounter electric lights.  Bemused, he wondered where the power was coming from, then decided that someone must have run a power cable to the ship, since there was no sound of a generator.  He wondered what demons needed light for.  Vampires could see quite well in almost total darkness, and Thaluth himself surely had no need of artificial lighting. The answer came when Giles entered one of the ship's cargo holds, where the light was brightest.  Thaluth, Lord of Hell, was reclining on a large pile of textiles and blankets, reading a large book by the light of a floor lamp that had obviously been brought in for the purpose.  Giles made his way silently into a corner of the room, staying behind crates and in the shadows of the electric lights.
The demon was as big as Giles remembered, probably about nine or ten feet tall when standing upright.  His skin was a deep scarlet, his tabard and loincloth of fine, black fabric that draped his muscular body.  His feet were like a camel's padded toes, his large hands surprisingly dexterous as he studied the book he held with intense interest, turning a page now and then.  Folded neatly behind and partially under him were the enormous wings Giles had seen before, spanning a dozen yards when unfurled.  He had a serious, not unattractive face, although it was vaguely doglike, with a square muzzle, flared nostrils and dark, intelligent eyes.  Arch Demons were of approximately human intellect, but were more dangerous by virtue of centuries of experience.  His ears were like a deer's, set high on his head and relatively mobile, and a pair of ebony horns curved sharply away from his temples.
"Mortals write some interesting books," Thaluth said in a deep, contemplative voice, and Giles realized that the demon had a companion, a vampire, who was sitting on another pile of cloth nearby.  "It's good that only a few of them are intelligent enough to think like this, though.  Do you read much, Anton?"  The vampire shrugged slightly.
"Not much anymore, Master," the vampire said easily.  "I spent a hundred years reading and then couldn't find anything new that was worth it."  Thaluth hummed thoughtfully, still paging through the book which Giles now recognized as a sorcerer's journal, because of the gold and silver inlaid design on the cover. The magical seal was intended to keep the book from being read. Obviously it hadn't given the demon much trouble.  The vampire lifted his head suddenly, peering out across the cavernous room. Thaluth glanced up at him.
"Do you smell something?" the demon lord asked.
"Mortals aboard the ship?"
"One, Master," the vampire replied, standing slowly.  "In this room with us."  Thaluth sighed, and Giles decided there was no more to be gained by hiding.  He came out into the open, giving himself room to use the sword.
"Who the Hell are you?" the demon grunted, surprised but not particularly concerned.  "No, that just doesn't sound right.  I suppose I should be saying 'who on Earth are you?'"
"My name is Rupert Giles," Giles said, moving farther into the room slowly.  "And I am a Watcher."
"Ah, yes, I remember," Thaluth said, getting a better look at him.  "You and the Slayer tried to electrocute me the other day. Perhaps I should have told you it wouldn't work, but no one ever believes me.  You think you can destroy me just because you're good and I'm evil.  Quite a few knights died during the Crusades because of that conviction.  So where is your Slayer?"
"Safe," Giles replied.  "And you might want to stand up. It would be rather undignified for one of the Lords of Hell to die sitting down with a book in his lap."
  "Oh, have you come to kill me?" Thaluth asked, still unmoving from his comfortable position with the book, wings folded around him like a leather hammock.  He waved one hand at his vampire associate.  "Eat him, won't you, Anton?"
  "Thank you, Master," the vampire said, rising to his feet to approach Giles warily.  Giles kept his distance for a moment, holding the sword ready in both hands.  The weaponless vampire would have had a lot of trouble with a sword-bearing enemy even under the best of circumstances.  Giles, however, wasn't even worried about the vampire.  That was not the reason he was here. Anton finally made a lunge and Giles took the creature's head with barely a sound, the suddenly headless corpse bursting to ash to dust the floor lightly.
Giles turned to face Thaluth, saying nothing, but watching the demon lord carefully. Thaluth closed his book and put it aside, never taking his eyes off of Giles as he stood and flexed his wings one at a time.
"You took the Earth from us, mortal," he said in a voice that was now devoid of humor.  His unusually long canines were visible when he spoke.  "We will take it back, and now that I have risen I will flatten this city and open the Hellmouth once more.  The lower demons have been too weak, but you won't find a Lord of Hell so easy to kill, Watcher."
Giles knew he had one chance, not because the demon would harm him, but because once Thaluth realized that Giles could not be killed, he would flee and then they would never find him.  He charged, running at full speed, and Thaluth lazily lifted a hand, palm out.  Giles willed himself to keep going as a ball of white flame formed in Thaluth's grasp, and then bolted toward him in a flash of deadly light.
The fireball passed harmlessly through Giles' body like a phantom, and Giles saw an instant of confusion in the demon's face before driving his blade home through Thaluth's heart with such force that it emerged from the other side gouting blood.  They stood for a moment, frozen, Giles with both hands on the sword hilt, gazing up into the astonished eyes of a creature almost twice his height.  Then a great shudder passed through the demon's body, and he fell to his knees hard.  Giles pulled the sword free and Thaluth gave a blood-choked gasp.  "_You_ were a virgin?" the Lord of Hell said in a strangled voice.
"Thanks to my Slayer, no longer," Giles said, and with a growl of effort, sliced the demon's neck cleanly in two with a smooth, arcing stroke, and Thaluth's head fell to the floor as Giles wiped demon blood from his face with a tired hand. He started to leave, then paused as he remembered the sorcerer's book that Thaluth had been reading.  Hard to know if the magical seal would let him read it, also, but it wasn't the sort of thing that should be left lying around, so he picked it up and took it with him.  On his way out of the ship, Giles cut the power line, and the cable fell into the water with a rasp and a hiss of electric fire.

****

Buffy started violently at the sound of the front door opening behind her, and she turned on the couch to see her Watcher enter, splashed in crimson blood and carrying his sword in its sheath.
"That was quick," Buffy said, surprised.  Her heart had leapt at the sight of him, and she got up from the couch.  "So did you kick Thaluth's ass?" she asked with a grin.  Giles grunted, and then held his hand up when she moved as if to hug him. "Better not touch me yet," he said, overwhelmed by his pleasure in seeing her again, knowing that he had saved her life because of her own courage and his trust.  "I'm covered in demon's blood.  Let me take a shower first."  Buffy giggled, taking in his ruined clothes.
"Guess those go into the fire, huh?" she said.
"Indeed," he said with a chuckle, dropping the sword on the floor by the kitchen counter and quickly unbuttoning his shirt.  Buffy watched him raptly, a wry smile on her mouth.  "Burn that, would you?" he asked, handing her the shirt.  She pretended to be grossed out, taking it daintily between two fingers.
"Ick.  With pleasure.  What's that?" she asked, nodding her chin at the large book he set down on the countertop.
"A sorcerer's journal, I think," Giles replied.  "Thaluth was reading it when I came upon him.  It shouldn't be allowed to fall into the wrong hands, and may prove valuable to us."
"Huh.  The things demons do nowadays."

****

He hadn't been quite sure how to act when he'd returned to the house.  It all still seemed a little unreal -- he'd killed an ArchDemon!  And it had been easy.  Well, no, that wasn't quite the truth. The difficult part hadn't been running the demon through with his sword.  The difficult part was still in the house with him.  He bagged his clothes as he took them off, intending to destroy them as he'd asked Buffy to do with his shirt.  A cool shower was next.  He felt overheated and anxious, and right now wanted only to be clean of what he had done to Thaluth.
But did he want to be clean of her?  He'd left the house with her scent still strong in his nose and his thoughts.  The sweetness of their lovemaking had given him the resolve to enter the darkened ship, had given him the courage to face the demon with such calm.  They couldn't go back to the way things had been between them.  They had been transformed by letting themselves be seen with such utter clarity by the other.  He was still her elder by many years, and she was still only on the verge of adulthood, but she was a Slayer, and he was her Watcher.  She had been right in saying that such a relationship was never easy. He got out of the shower and dressed in clean clothes with an uncomfortable weight in the pit of his stomach.  He didn't know how to feel now.  He knew he loved her, but it wasn't the romantic love he had longed for all his life.  Yet it was more than just as a father would love a daughter, more than just as a friend.  She'd been right in that, too.  They had committed a brutal transgression, shattered a taboo that was surrounded by disgust and revulsion and fear, and on the other side of that terror, they had found delight and contentment.  For their lives to go forward, both of them were going to have to admit that.

****

She was sitting on the couch again, reading, when he came down the stairs.  She looked up at the sound of his footsteps, and got up to leave the book behind and come over to him.  He grunted as she embraced him, holding with more strength than he had expected, and he hugged her to him fiercely. "I was so afraid you wouldn't come back," she murmured against his chest.
"How could I leave you?" he replied softly.  "You're the center of my life.  Without you I'm aimless and empty."  She was
silent for a long moment, letting him rock her slowly.
"So now that Thaluth's dead, what do we do?" she asked.
He sighed deeply.
"That's a good question," he said.  He let go of her and made her look at him, his hands on her face gently.  "You were right before when you said I was afraid that I might enjoy making love to you.  I did enjoy it.  It was wonderful and sweet and satisfying.  I don't know where we should go with that, or if it should go anywhere.  If we were meant to be lovers, we did it too soon.  Buffy...I love you.  I don't know what kind of love it is, or what it may mean for us, but we must be careful."
"Go slow, you mean, in whatever direction," she said.
Giles nodded.  She had her hands around his waist, and looked down for a long moment.  "I couldn't stop thinking about you while you were gone.  Not just worrying about you, but thinking about us...about what we did.  I've wished for a long time that we could be closer, although mostly what I wanted was just a friendship.  I guess one of the reasons I wanted to be your first was because I saw it as a way of getting to know you.  You're hard to get to know. You don't let anybody in, but you had to this time.  That sounds cruel, and actually I'm kind of ashamed that I did it, for that reason, anyway."
"Don't be," he said, lifting her chin so he could look at her eyes.  He saw there how much she loved him, even though she couldn't say it.  "You were gentle with me, and I appreciated that more than you know.  I don't think we should pretend this didn't happen.  It's all right to just let it be, to remember it for what it was; a moment of profound love.  The rest...we can get to know each other, the way you wanted, the way we should."  He paused for a moment, stroking her cheek with his thumb.  "Your friends aren't going to understand.  Not at first, if ever."
"Yeah, I know," she said, looking away again but not evading his touch.  "Guess we'll have to be careful about that, too."
"We can talk about it later," he said.  "As it becomes necessary."
"You said before you'd take me to dinner, if I wanted," she said with a smile.  "That offer still good?"  Giles chuckled softly.
"Yes.  You want to go tonight?"
"Mm hm.  I'm in the mood for Japanese."
"As you want, then," he said.  "Let me get my coat."  He opened the front door for her, and they stepped out onto the porch. "So how does it feel to not be a virgin anymore?" she asked.  Giles shut the door and stood still for a few moments,
considering.
"Different," he murmured.  "Not sure how yet.  Ask me some other time."  He smiled and they left together, arms around each other.

END