The Way to Go
By Gabriele Schulz

TITLE: The way to go
AUTHOR: Gabriele Schulz
EMAIL:
gschulz@gschulz.de
RATING: PG
DISTRIBUTION: Everyone who has my general permission. Others please ask first.
SPOILERS: set directly after Primeval
FEEDBACK: Keep believing in B/G. That's all I want!
SUMMARY: Buffy talks with her friends about her relationship with Giles and what to do about it. B/G bonding/friendship/subtext (at the most) whatever you want to call it, no smoochies here, this could pass as canon! (W/T and X/Anya, but since it's set directly after Primeval that doesn't need to be mentioned, does it?)
DISCLAIMER: The characters are the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, Sandollar Productions, Kuzui Enterprises, 20th Century Fox Television, the WB Television Network, and whoever else may have a hold on them. I do not mean to infringe upon any copyrights.
NOTES: Not yet betaed, since Lily is on vacation, but I wanted to get this out before I get officially jossed. I am not sure about when Buffy last patrolled with Giles, but going through the episode list and assuming they didn't in season 4 it seems to me it was Revelations (with Faith as well), but feel free to correct me. Boy this is another reason why I really need to get my episode guide going...
DATE: 05/23/2000


When Buffy entered her room she saw Willow and Tara on Willow's bed.

"Buffy, hey."

Willow smiled at her enthusiastically.

"Hey you two."

"How's Riley?"

"Riley is fine. Well, he's okay. It's been a tough experience. But I guess it was on all of us."

"Are you okay? You seem tired."

"I'm all right. It's just that suddenly I remember all the nights that I didn't sleep in the last couple of months."

"Quite many, huh?"

"Leave out the quite and you're almost there. But at least it's over now."

"I just told Tara about how great you were."

"Oh please. Just normal slayer duty."

Tara looked up at her from the bed.

"Thank you. Thank you so much for saving Willow."

Buffy who was still standing in the middle of the room didn't quite know what to say. She wondered how she could have even had a hint of a doubt that what they had was not true love. She smiled widely and sat down next to Tara. Then she turned to the two of them.

"I... I'm so sorry Willow."

"I know, I know, this wasn't all your fault, you know."

"Only most of it."

Willow didn't say anything.

"I just want you to be happy."

"I *am* happy, Buffy."

"Yes, you are."

She looked from Willow to Tara and smiled again. Then her smile faded.

"But what about Xander? Is he happy? And why don't I know it? I know nothing about him anymore. Or about..."

She trailed off.

"You should talk to him."

"I know, I know. That's why I'm here."

Tara raised her eyebrows and looked at Willow to see if she was the only one having  trouble with that logic.

"You can't run away forever."

"Thanks for bringing that up."

"Oh. I didn't wa-"

"I know Will, just kidding. I... there's so much I did wrong. And I don't even know where to begin to make up for it."

"We are going to the Bronze to meet Xander and Anya. I didn't know if you would be able to come, bu-"

"I'll go with you. Two more to go, Xander next. Step by step I'm working my way to the really hard stuff."

"You make it sound like they're mortal enemies to fight."

"I wish they were."

*~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~*

When Buffy saw Xander coming towards them she immediately hugged him forcefully.

"Woah, I thought we had that already. Not that I'm complaining!" She hit him playfully, not letting go though.

"How could you let this happen? Why didn't you come and yell at me to stop being so selfish?"

"Because you were never there?"

She looked up at him miserably.

"I could yell at you now, if you would feel better."

"I'm not sure. Would you feel better?"

"I'm feeling pretty good right now."

He embraced her a little more tightly.

Buffy could see Anya behind them. She didn't look happy, but didn't say anything.

Buffy looked up at Xander.

"Are you happy?"

"I'm fully my Xanderish self."

She didn't laugh, but looked at him seriously.

"But I may be on the way to Xanderific."

"Xander..."

"I'm... well, things could be worse and at the same time there's mucho improvement possible, so I guess that's good. And at least I have friends I fully intend to share my misery with."

"Please do that."

Not letting go of each other they walked to the sofa.

Buffy, Xander and Anya sat down on the sofa, while Willow and Tara sat down opposite them.

Anya immediately hugged Xander from the other side.

He grinned.

"I could get used to this."

He looked at Willow.

"Hey Tara, I think Willow could need a good hugging right now, too." He winked at her and Tara put her arm around her girlfriend.

Willow looked like she had tears in her eyes and in a matter of seconds she had dragged Tara up with her and was sitting somewhere half between and on top of Buffy and Xander hugging him. At the same time Anya and Buffy didn't let go, so they sat like that tangled around Xander who quite obviously enjoyed every second of it.

"The only one missing is the G-man. Why isn't he at this party?"

Willow sat up and looked at Buffy, who was burying her face in Xander's shoulder making an unhappy sound.

"You didn't talk to him yet."

Buffy made another sound and Willow just shook her head in confirmation. She and Tara moved back to their place, while Buffy still didn't look at any of them.

"Afraid?"

She finally looked at Xander.

"More than of Adam."

"You have no reason to be afraid."

"That's right. If he's been stupid enough to stick around all this time he won't leave now either."

They all stared at Anya.

"What? Nobody in his right mind would voluntarily stay on a hellmouth."

"You did."

She looked at Tara.

Then snuggled closer to Xander.

"I love Xander." She said it as if that was an obvious answer.

Willow frowned a little about Anya then turned to Buffy.

"What are you afraid of, Buffy? You know that Giles will forgive you."

"Yes, I know. But maybe he shouldn't. I don't deserve it."

"He'll do it anyway."

"I know, I just... I can't..."

When she didn't go on Willow got up.

"Maybe we should go to the dorm. Somewhere more private."

*~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~*

The way to the dorm was silent. When they were in Buffy and Willow's room, Willow, Tara and Buffy sat down on Willow's bed as they had earlier and Xander and Anya sat on Buffy's bed.

They were all waiting for Buffy to speak until Willow felt that she needed some prompting.

"What are you afraid of?"

"I... I don't want to hurt him. I hurt him so much already, not only this year, but... I guess this year was worst because it was nothing but hurting and ignoring. And I'm so sorry about that. I miss Giles so much. It's... I want it to be like it was, but that's not possible."

"Why not?"

"For once because of the library. It was all so great. I would drop by and we would talk and if we didn't I would just go. And now I can't do that. I can't just come by without a reason."

"Why not? Pretend you're just there for his food. Works perfect for me."

"You *are* there for his food."

"Come on, his food isn't that great. Okay, so it's partly for the food, but it's also because I want to spent some time with him."

"Well, I don't think that food would work for me. Besides I don't just want an excuse to be there. I want... I think we need to find a way to have some kind of relationship again. I can tell him that I'm sorry and I can tell him that I miss him, but that's not enough. I don't want to give him empty promises again. I want to be able to tell him 'Giles, this is what I want, this is where I want us to go from here' the only problem is that I have no idea where I do wanna go."

"Then maybe you should tell him exactly that."

"Xander is right. Tell him what you feel. That things can't go on like this and that you want them to change, but don't know how."

"But what if he thinks I should know? What if he thinks I don't care enough to know? I'm so afraid to break what's left of us. I can't loose him. I..."

"Love him."

She looked at Xander then to the ground, before nodding.

"You know, maybe you should tell him that as well."

"He... he knows that I love him."

"Even if he does, it never hurts to actually say it once in a while."

Buffy didn't say anything.

"When was the last time you told him you love him."

"Oh, wait let me think, hmmm, oh, I got it. Never."

They stared at her.

"What? Oh, come on. Xander, did you ever tell him you love him? And I know you do."

"Yes."

"Really? When?"

"It was in the hospital after..."

"Angel tortured him."

Xander nodded. Buffy tried to push the thought away. She felt enough guilt for the last year. If she added more to it she would never work up the courage to speak with Giles.

"What did he say?"

"At first nothing, and then when he awoke his first word was Buffy."

That second time on only one day hadn't been as painful as Willow though. But he chose to keep that to himself.

"So he wasn't even conscious."

"At least I told him. Buffy, more than anything he needs to know that you still care about him. Trust me. I know it."

She looked away guiltily again.

"You showed me. It's time to show him. Or maybe I should make that *tell* him, cause we don't want him to get any wrong ideas."

He grinned but Buffy couldn't really laugh about it. She was still afraid of talking to Giles and of what could happen. The possibility that it was just too late to mend the wounds was too terrifying to ignore.

"Buffy?"

She looked up at Willow her face a picture of misery.

"It's getting late."

"God, do I really have to."

"No. You *want* to."

Willow was serious and Buffy got up and straightened herself.

"Okay. I'll go."

"Don't forget. Sorry. Miss you. Want change, but don't know what. Love you. Four things. Even I could do that."

She nodded and took a deep breath.

"See you guys later. And thanks."

"Just go and get things back on track with him. We're Slayer, Watcher, Slayerettes. It doesn't work without one of them."

She nodded again and left.

"So do you think she'll go through with it?"

"She has to."

"Poor Buffy. No fight so dangerous, that she wouldn't face it, but when it comes to talking with her friends..."

*~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~*

"Buffy."

"Hey."

He stepped aside to let her in.

They stood for a moment not talking.

"How's Riley?"

"Wow, everyone asks about Riley. Didn't know you cared so much about him."

"He's an important part of your life. And we care about you."

"Yes, you do."

She looked at him. Then she looked at the ground and smiled nervously.

"Boy, why is this so difficult? I only have four things to say and still I don't know how to begin."

"Maybe you should begin with the easiest."

"That's a good plan. The easiest. I guess that would be I'm sorry." He didn't say anything.

"I really am. I... I know that that doesn't make things better, but... I am so very sorry."

He accepted her apology silently.

"I missed you. I know that sounds probably weird, because I was never here, but that wasn't because I didn't want to. I..."

"There were other things."

"No. I mean yes, but that's not the only reason. It's just... different than the library. Which kind of brings to number three, I miss you was number two by the way, anyway, ehm... I... I miss how things were and I... well what I really want is things to be like they were, but since we can't just hop into a time machine I just know that I want things to change. We can't go on like this last year, at least I don't want to, but I don't really know how we can change things so that they are better again."

She looked at him waiting for a reaction, but he just watched her listening carefully.

"Do you know what I mean?"

A slight smile crossed his face.

"Yes, I do. I... know how you feel. Last year certainly wasn't our best, *but* I'm sure that if we try we can find a way to... change things."

"How?"

"Well, maybe we could start by patrolling together."

"Now?"

"Why not now?"

"You're right. Why not."

*~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~*

"Boy, it seems like ages since we last went patrolling together."

"November 21st 1998."

She stopped in her tracks.

"I... I went through my Watcher's diaries the other day."

"That's one and a half years."

"I know."

"What happened with us?"

"You grew up. You don't need a Watcher any longer."

"Please don't say that. Maybe I don't need someone to train me. Maybe I can do reasearch with the help of Willow and the others, but..."

"But?"

"Do you remember that you promised me never to leave?"

"Of course."

"Do you want me to do it alone from now on?"

"No."

"That's good because I don't want to do it alone. I can't. I need you guys. *All* of you."

"I won't go anywhere."

"I know. But *we* need to go somewhere."

They stopped walking.

"I... how about starting training again? Or maybe I shouldn't call it training. Workout. I really tried to stay in shape this year and I think I'm still a bit of a match for you."

"Ha!"

"Oh, yes. I remember. Nothing can beat a wilful Slayer."

"Wilful?"

"Headstrong. I-can-do-anything-with-my-slayer-strength. I-don't-need-training-Giles-I-would-rather-wave-pompoms-to-impress-some-boys."

"Hey, I gave up cheerleading. And I was just sixteen."

"Oh, yes, and now you're 19 and so much wiser."

"Maybe not wise, but clever enough to beat you in training with *skill* and not just my Slayer strength."

"So it's a deal?"

"Training, beginning when you feel ready."

She stuck out her hand and he took it.

"I'll let you know."

They began walking again smiling to themselves, enjoying the pleasant silence.

"What was the fourth thing?"

"Fourth what?"

"You told me you had four things to say. One was that you're sorry, the other that you miss me and number three that you want things to change. What was number four?"

"Nothing you don't know."

"Then I suppose you can tell me."

"It was just Xander thinking... well, he felt I should let you know... even though we all think that you know already."

"Know what?"

"Well... I... Xander loves you."

He stopped and looked at her, before a gentle smile spread over his face.

She had stopped as well and turned towards him.

"I love Xander, too."

She watched him, then smiled and lifted one hand. She wasn't sure if she should hug him. Their relationship had never been very physical (or full of words for that matter). In the end she just put her arm around his.

"Let's go and find some vampires who are stupid enough to think they can take on a Slayer and her Watcher."

He smiled down at her.

"Let's go."

END