By Gibberish

TITLE:Unmasked  1/3
AUTHOR: Gibberish
DISCLAIMER: Wish they were mine, but they aren't. Don't sue, no money.
RATING: PG - 13  B/G 
SPOILERS:  Don't think so.
TIMELINE: Between season 3 and 4.
SUMMARY: Halloween. (Yeah, I know. It's August. Couldn't help it. I was inspired by a pic at Totally Bogus.) Costume party.  If you know my writing, then you have a pretty good idea what will happen. I hope there are enough surprises to keep you interested.
DISTRIBUTION: Solo, Jessica, Sai. Anyone else, just ask.
FEEDBACK: Love it.
COMMENTS: Giles works at the Museum. Think Tyrone Power, not Antonio Banderes (That will make sense later, I hope.)

               Late October in Sunnydale wasn't so bad, Buffy thought as she walked across the UC Sunnydale campus. She had just finished her last class for the day and was headed for Giles' for training. Everywhere she looked she saw flyers for a Halloween Party at the Bronze. A masked dance for Saturday night. She wanted to go ... But alone?

       Giles arrived home from a day at the Museum exhausted. He opened the door to find Buffy already there. She had already moved the furniture out of the way and was warming up.
     This had become a routine for them. He knew that when he looked at the coffee table he would find the tea tray. On the tray would be a teapot, a cup and a sandwich for him.
     The sad part was that these were the days that he looked forward to. These were the days that he didn't come home to an empty, silent home. Unlike tonight, when it was filled with color and life.
     "Hi." Buffy said. She looked at him closely. He looked tired. "Hard day?" She asked.
     Giles gave her a small smile. "Just long." He responded. He put down his briefcase and poured himself a cup of tea. He sat in the chair pushed next to the coffee table.
     "Do you need anything?" Buffy asked.
      Giles shook his head. "Just to sit for a bit."  He watched her fight an imaginary foe. "Anything happen today?"
      "Not really." Buffy said, not breaking her fighting stride. "Everyone is all excited about the dance Saturday."
     "What dance?" Giles asked.
     "Costume thing. Halloween." Buffy explained. She stopped and looked at him oddly. "I told you about it."
      "You did?" Giles asked. "I don't remember ... " He paused. "Wait a moment. I remember something about Willow and a flapper."
     "That's the one." Buffy said as she resumed her practice.
     "Well, that comment certainly makes more sense now." He smiled a little at Buffy's laugh. "Are *you* going?" He asked.
     "Why?" Buffy asked. "What's the point? I don't know that many people.
And I don't much feel like tagging along with Willow and Oz. Again"
      "Isn't the point of these things to meet people?" Giles asked.
     "I don't want to go alone." Buffy told him. "It's depressing."
     "You might meet someone there." Giles said. He ignored the pang that the thought gave him. "Buffy, you are a beautiful young woman. You should be meeting people. Ddating." That hurt.
     "I don't feel much like dating," Buffy returned. "Besides, you don't date." She pointed out.
     "That's different." Giles said. "I'm an old man."
     Buffy stopped and gave him an angry look. "Why do you do that? I hate it when you talk about yourself like that. You're not old."
     "This isn't about me Buffy." Giles sighed. "It's about you. I know it's difficult. You go to school, you patrol. In your free time ... Well, if you're not with Willow or your Mother, you're here with me. I think you need more."
     "Am I bothering you too much?" Buffy asked in a small voice.
     "Of course not." Giles assured her. "You're never a bother. It's
actually quite nice coming home and not being alone. But you should be around men your own age."
     "All the men my age are boys." Buffy said. "At least I can talk with you. I don't have to pretend to be something I'm not."
     "What do you have to pretend to be?"  Giles asked gently.
     "Normal." Buffy said sadly.
     "Buffy ..." Giles sighed.
     "I'm serious Giles." Buffy said. "I try, I do. But, I'm never going to be like them. I guess I've just seen too much. All they want to talk about is sex and parties. I just want to tell them to grow up."
     Giles didn't know what to say. He understood what she meant. He had the same problem with the few women that he knew, he just couldn't talk with them. He looked at Buffy sadly, she was much too young to feel that way. "You never know who you might meet. It's one night Buffy, try."
     "Giles ...."  Buffy began. She knew he was worried about her. "All right." She gave in. "On one condition."
     "And what would that one condition be?" Giles asked warily.
     "If I go out, you go out." Buffy said firmly. "That guy at work gave you an invitation to his party"
     "I don't like his wife." Giles mumbled.
     "Why?" Buffy asked surprised. He'd never mentioned that before.
     "She flirts with me. I feel sorry for Ryan." Giles said.
     "Giles, flirting doesn't necessarily mean anything." Buffy told him. "Some people are just like that. It doesn't mean ..."
     "She grabbed my ..." Giles caught his indignant outburst before he finished.
     "She grabbed your *what* Giles?" Buffy asked.
     Giles closed his eyes. She would never let this go, not until she got an answer. "She grabbed my ... Duff."
     "What?" Buffy asked blankly.
     "My ..." Giles gestured helplessly. "Bottom."
     Buffy's eyes widened in shock. "She grabbed your butt? What did you do?"
     "What could I do?" Giles asked in return.
     Buffy started to say something, but changed her mind. The nerve. "Okay, so not that party. Somewhere else ... I can't believe you let her grab your butt."
     "Let is not the word I would use." Giles said stiffly. "Nearly jumped out of my skin."  
     "I bet you turn your back on her anymore." Buffy commented.
     "Yes. And I'm terrified of what she'll grab next." Giles said in disgust.
      Buffy's eyes inadvertently slid down, then shot up as she caught herself. "Sso, do we have a deal?" She knew that her face was red.
     Giles had caught Buffy's glance and his own face flushed, because he couldn't help wondering what she thought. He got a truly wicked idea. "All right. You go to the dance. I'll find something to do."
     "Where?" She asked suspiciously.
     "I'll think of something." Giles told her. He held back a grin. Oddly enough, he didn't feel quite so tired anymore and actually found himself looking forward to Saturday.

          Friday found Buffy and Willow shopping for costumes. Willow already had hers, so they were now searching for Buffy's. The problem was that Buffy just couldn't work up any real enthusiasm. It bothered her. She *should* be excited. But the thought of another party ... Alone. She felt pathetic.
      Willow's gasp drew Buffy's eyes. It was beautiful. Varying shade of green, shimmery, wispy. A fairy costume. It even had a little set of wings. The bodice was leaf green and fitted. The skirt, if you could call it that, looked like a dozen or so scarves in varying shades of green. The wings were silver. "Oh my." Buffy whispered. She had an overwhelming urge to look around the store for Ethan Rayne.
     Well, she had the costume, all she needed were the shoes. Buffy started to get excited.
     She and Willow met Oz and had lunch. The couple always did their best not to make Buffy feel awkward, but she felt like a fifth wheel. It wasn't so bad when Xander was there too, but he'd gone off for a couple weeks.

               Buffy couldn't wait to get to Giles' and show him her costume. Even though she had a key, she knocked. She always knocked and waited, when she knew he was home.
     When she knocked for the third time and he still hadn't answered, she grew worried. She saw his car. She knocked again, still no response. She got out her key.
     Buffy opened the door. "Giles."  She called. She put down her packages just inside of the door. "Giles." She called again. She checked the kitchen, it was empty.
     "Giles." She called as she moved her search upstairs. Buffy opened the door to his bedroom. She took a step in, just as the door to the connecting bathroom opened.
     Giles, having believed himself alone, walked into his bedroom wearing nothing but a towel. He saw Buffy and stopped short.
     Buffy looked at Giles shocked.
     "Buffy, what are you doing here?" Giles asked.
     Buffy couldn't take her eyes off his chest. She saw a droplet of water trail down his chest, over his stomach until it met the towel. She swallowed hard and licked her lips.
     "Buffy?" Giles said. He gloried in the way she looked at him. However, soon his body would betray just how much he gloried in it. He looked at her, her color high on her cheeks, eyes a bit glazed and thought that she had never looked more beautiful. When she licked her lips, he nearly groaned. "Buffy."  He said again, a bit louder. Finally, she met his eyes. "Please,
wait downstairs. I'll be down in a minute."
     "Uh. Right." Buffy said. She blinked several times. She looked him over one more time, then turned quickly and left. She even remembered to close the door behind her.
     Giles released a sigh as he wondered if she had noticed his reaction. He looked down and groaned. Bloody hell. How could she have missed it?
     He dressed carefully and took his time. He needed to give his body a few minutes to calm down. The fact that his hands were shaking slowed him down quite a bit.

          Buffy went straight to the kitchen and grabbed one of her bottled waters from the fridge. <Wow> She thought. In the back of her mind, she'd known that Giles was fit. He trained with he and in all honesty, he kept up pretty well. But, she'd never realized ... <Wow> And he had hair on his chest. And his legs were ... Well, pretty good. One thought kept surfacing to mind - Why did he hide under all those layers of clothes?
      Another thought surfaced - Why had she never noticed before? She took a drink of water before she went to sit on the couch.
     The image of Giles as he stood there in nothing but a towel was burned in to her mind. So was the knowledge that before she left, she had seen distinct movement beneath the towel. <Wow>

         Giles knew that he had to face her. He went down the stairs slowly and found her sitting on the couch, an empty bottle of water in front of her. He almost smiled at the implication. Before he could say a word, she rushed into speech.
     "I'm sorry Giles." Buffy said in a rush. "It's just that when you didn't answer the door, I got worried. Then you didn't answer when I called and I got scared. So, I looked for you."
     "Well, you found me." Giles said with dry humor. "I'm not angry at you Buffy, if that's what you're concerned about." He said to her bowed head. "I'll admit to being a trifle embarrassed."
     "You shouldn't be." Buffy said. Her eyes widened in horror. She closed her eyes and clamped her hands over her mouth.
     Giles couldn't prevent the smile that formed at her words. "Thank you, but that really isn't the issue. What are you doing here? I didn't think that you were coming over tonight." He hoped that he sounded calmer than he felt.
     "I wasn't." Buffy agreed. She looked at him, but couldn't quite meet his eyes. "I wanted to show you the costume that I picked out." Suddenly, she wondered why. As soon as she had bought it, her first thought had been to show Giles. Why?
     "Well, where is it?" Giles asked.
     Buffy went over to the door, where she had left her packages. She took them over to the couch and set them down. She took the plastic off of the costume and held it up for him.
     Giles looked at it astonished. "It's quite lovely, Buffy. You'll need all of your Slayer strength tomorrow night to hold all the young men at bay." He told her sincerely. He wondered if he should change his plans.
     "Thanks Giles." Buffy said softly. "I just wish that I wasn't going alone."
     "You won't be alone for long." Giles said. And he knew it was true. It was the way it should be. "Where is the dance to be held?" He asked.
     "The Bronze." Buffy told him as she recovered the costume.
     "It's not a school function?" Giles asked curious.
     "No." Buffy said. "The University is holding one, but we decided to go to the one at the Bronze. Kind of like the home field advantage." Buffy explained.
     "The Bronze." Giles repeated. "Well, have fun. And you needn't concern yourself with patrolling either. Skipping one night won't harm anything."
     Buffy wasn't as thrilled with that thought as she should have been. No patrolling, meant no reporting to Giles afterward. She mentally shrugged. What were the odds that she'd catch him a towel again anyway? She never had before ... What was she thinking? She looked at Giles and had to admit that he looked good in a towel. How would he look out of it? Her face turned red. She got up and started to gather her things.
     "Is something wrong Buffy?" Giles asked, concerned at the look on her face and her sudden action.
     "No." Buffy said quickly. "I just need to get these put away and patrol."
     Giles stood and walked her to the door. "If you're certain ...?"
     "Yep." Buffy said. She looked up at him. "Goodnight, Giles. And, I'm sorry again for ..." She pointed upstairs. An image of Giles in the towel popped into her mind and her eyes slid to his zipper.
     "It's all right Bu ..." His words trailed off as her eyes focused, just for a second on his groin. Then she caught herself and looked away. "Um ... "I'll see you Sunday then, I suppose." He said as he opened the door for her.
     "Rright." Buffy said. "Bye." She went quickly out the door.
     A wicked grin spread across Giles' face as he closed the door behind her. He wouldn't change his plans.

          Saturday evening, as Buffy changed into her costume, she wondered where Giles planned to go.
     It promised to be a mild night and Buffy was glad. Her costume was a bit on the skimpy side. She used glitter make-up and small, silver butterfly clips in her hair.
     She took a few deep breaths and decided that she was as ready as she was going to get. She took a small, thin stake and slid it carefully between her breasts. She would not go out completely unarmed. Time to go.
     The sun had just set as she stepped outside of the dorm. She headed for the Bronze. She was halfway through the park when she felt it. "Not tonight."
     "Why not tonight?" Asked a familiar voice. Spike's jaw dropped when she turned to face him. "Slayer?" He circled her. "I take it back."
     "Take what back?" Buffy asked, confused.
     Spikes eyes raked her. "Every remark about Angel's sanity in regard to his obsession of you."
     Buffy blinked, surprised at what was, apparently, a compliment. "Thank you. I think." She narrowed her eyes. "You're not going to make me fight you while I'm in this, are you?" She asked.
     "Wouldn't be fair Ducks." Spike told her. "I'd be too distracted to give you a proper fight."
     "There's incentive." Buffy commented. "What did you want?"
     "Don't remember." Spike said. "Hope it wasn't important." Buffy rolled her eyes, then turned and walked away.
     "You need a bodyguard Slayer." Spike called after her. "Not fair to a vampire for a Slayer to look like that." He muttered. Then, he proceeded to follow her at safe distance. She'd never know that he dusted one of his own to keep her from mussing her outfit. He didn't plan on telling her anytime soon.
      Spike followed the Slayer to the Bronze and debated on whether or not he should go inside. He decided to hang around outside and try to keep things quiet for her.

          Buffy made her way across the crowded club and found Willow and Oz at a small table. "I can't believe how crowded it is in here." She said as she joined them.
     Giles had been right. She was approached by several guys. If one had been able to keep his eyes from her cleavage, she might have danced with him. She could have lived with a glance, but they stared.
     It was nearly eleven, when Buffy saw him. He was on the upper level, he looked down at them as he leaned his hands on the rail. Zorro. Buffy and her Mom and Dad had watched the old movie together. One of the few things they had still done together up until the separation.
     Buffy felt her gaze return to him again and again. He stood there for the longest time, his hands braced on the rail as he watched her.
     Willow and Oz smiled at each other at the preoccupation of their friend. The went to dance to see what would happen if they left her alone.
     Buffy was disappointed when she looked up to find him gone, Until she saw him coming towards her. He was very tall. He didn't say a word, he just put out a hand in invitation.
     Buffy took his hand and he lead her to the dance floor. He took her gently into his arms and held her to him as they danced. Slowly.
     It was the strangest feeling, but Buffy felt like she belonged right there. Her heart pounded. She looked into his eyes and familiar green eyes looked back at her. Did she know him?
     When a fast song would play, he would disappear, but for every slow song, he would take her into his strong arms. He never said a word.
      They danced for hours, until the DJ announced the last dance. He held her tightly to him, as if he didn't want to let go. He held her for another moment after the song ended, then pulled slightly away. Buffy felt his heart pounding in rhythm with her own. He leaned down and gently kissed her lips.
     When Buffy opened her eyes, he was gone. She looked about frantically, but she didn't see him. She began to wonder if he'd ever been there.

          Buffy walked back to the dorm slowly. Willow and Oz had tried to get her to ride with them, but she'd wanted the fresh air. When the guy jumped oout if the bushes, he took her by surprise. Before she knew it, he was behind her with an arm around her throat.
     Buffy didn't have a chance to take out her frustration on him. He was yanked away from behind. She spun and found Spike beating the hell out of him.
     When the guy was out, but good, Spike turned to her. "You tryin' to get yourself killed Slayer?" He lit into her angrily. He didn't examine why he was angry. "He's not even a vam ... pire." Spike had seen a lot in his time, but he'd be damned if he ever expected to see a Slayer burst into tears. Especially this Slayer. But that's just what she did. He found himself putting his arms around her as she cried on his shoulder. <What's wrong with this picture?> He asked himself. "What's wrong Slayer?" He asked her. Somehow he knew it wasn't what had just happened. "Tell Spike all about it." He urged her.
     "Me." Buffy said. "I'm what's wrong."
     "You seem all right to me." Spike said. "Aside from you bein' the Slayer and me bein' a vampire and all." He patted her back.
      Buffy gave a tearful laugh. "What is it about me? Men don't want to stay." If she had been rational, she would have been appalled that she had this conversation with Spike. "Dad left. Angel left, twice. Scott left, Xander. And now Zorro." She looked up at him with tear drenched eyes. "Why?"
     Spike was at a loss. What the hell did a vampire say to that? "Your Watcher stayed." He pointed out, proud of himself. "Even when they tried to make him leave." Then he looked down at her confused. "Zorro?" He asked, it just registered.
     "At the dance." Buffy explained.
     "Listen Ducks," Spike said. "If he could leave you, the way you look tonight, he's blind as well as stupid."
     Buffy started laughing. Buffy, the vampire Slayer was crying in the arms of Spike, the vampire.
     Spike smiled down at her. "You'll be all right then Ducks." He urged her and they began to walk. "And don't worry. I won't tell anyone if you don't. We'd never live it down." With that, he flung an arm across her shoulders and walked her home.

           Sunday morning, Buffy awoke with a headache. Snatches of the night before sprang into her mind. Dancing with him. His eyes. His kiss. The feeling that she knew him.
     Then snatches of her conversation with Spike. She groaned at the memory. <I'm what's wrong.> She'd said. <Men don't want to stay.> <Why?>
     God, she'd had a heart to heart with a guy whose heart didn't even beat. Then, she remembered what he'd said. <Your Watcher stayed.> He told her. <Even when they tried to make him leave.>
     Buffy sat straight up. Giles *had* stayed. Why?
     She got up and dashed down the hall for a quick shower. She came back and finished getting ready. She had to see Giles. Now. She had to know why he stayed.

          Buffy didn't realize just how early it was until she got to Giles', 8am. She knocked once and then let herself in. She closed the door behind her and listened. Not a sound. She took several deep breaths before she headed upstairs.
     She slowly opened the door to his room and peaked inside. Good, he was still asleep. She crept over to the bed and watched him for a minute. He was on his back, in the middle of the bed. The sheets had pooled around his waist and his chest was bare. He looked sexy.
     She sat on the edge of the bed and continued to watch him. Why had she never noticed before? Relaxed in sleep, he looked years younger than she knew him to be. She watched his chest rise and fall with his deep even breathing. Buffy let her eyes slide down his body, his shape quite visible beneath the sheet and lightweight blanket. She saw a distinct, very distinct, rise in the blanket and her eyes widened.
     Buffy shifted and his hips jerked as the covers rubbed against him. She tore her eyes away from that most fascinating area and returned them to his face. She reached out a hand to touch his shoulder. His rather warm, muscular shoulder. "Giles." She said as she nudged him.
     Giles grabbed her hand and pulled her down. "Go back to sleep Luv." He rolled on to his side, facing her and threw an arm over her.
     Buffy froze. Who was he dreaming about? She was startled by the jealousy that surged through her.
     Buffy was now on her back, her feet dangled over the side of the bed and Giles' arm thrown across her stomach. He moved again, his hand slipped under her shirt and began to slide up her stomach. "Giles?" Buffy said again in a shaky voice. His hand made her stomach flutter. "Giles." She said it more firmly this time.
     Giles eyes opened slowly. "Buffy?"  He wasn't certain if he were still dreaming.
     "Giles, your hand." Buffy said, nervously.
     His hand was on soft, warm skin. He became fully awake then and jumped a little to realize that she was really there. When he jumped, his hand brushed her breast, before he pulled it away. "Buffy, I'm sorry. I I ... " He had rushed into an apology without thought. Now, he stopped and his eyes narrowed. "Why are you here?"
     Buffy sat back up and straightened her top. "I need to talk to you." When she looked at him, his eyes were focused on her breasts. "Giles."
     His eyes snapped to hers with a guilty look. "Um ... Talk about what?" He asked. then, he grew concerned. What would have brought her out so early on a Sunday morning? "Everything all right? Did something happen?" His concern outweighed his desire, but just barely, and she had his full attention. He sat up, careful to keep the blanket close.
     "Sort of." Buffy said. "I need to know something." She looked him in the eyes. "Why did you stay?"
     Giles blinked in confusion. "What?"
     "Why did you stay?" Buffy repeated. "Here. With me. After Travers fired you."  She clarified. "Why did you stay?"
     "You came over, woke me up at ..." Giles glance quickly at the clock, then back to Buffy. "At bloody 8:15 on a Sunday morning to ask me why I stayed. Seven months ago."
     "I I need to know." Buffy said quietly, but urgently. "I have to know."
     "Why?" Giles asked, completely perplexed.
     Buffy looked at him with wide, sad eyes. "Because you're the only man that hasn't left me." She told him. "Dad, Angel, Scott, Angel again. Even Xander. They all said they loved me, but they all left."
     Giles was stunned. "Buffy ..." But what did he say? He'd never imagined that she felt this way. "Buffy, your Dad ..."
     Buffy cut him off. "I'm not asking about my Dad. I'm asking about you. Why?" Her eyes pleaded for an honest answer.
     Giles couldn't have lied to her to save his life at that moment. He put a hand to her cheek and his thumb caressed her cheekbone. "I couldn't leave you. Somewhere along the way, you became the most important thing in my life. I love you Buffy." He took a deep breath. "And despite what Travers believes, it is not a father's love." He caught her tear and swiped it away with his thumb.
     "Why didn't you say anything?" Buffy asked in a whisper.
     "I was afraid that I would lose you." Giles said ruefully. "I've been content to be here if you should need me."
     "I always need you." Buffy told him. "That *was* you last night, wasn't it?" Buffy asked as she again looked into his eyes.
     Giles looked surprised. "How did you know?" He asked.
     Buffy shrugged. "I think I realized it when I woke up this morning. That's why I had to know."
     "And now that you do?" Giles asked and held his breath.
     Buffy leaned forward and brought her lips to his. When she opened her mouth, he eagerly accepted the invitation and deepened the kiss.
     "I love you Buffy." Giles gasped as they broke apart to catch their breath.
     "I love you too."