Variation On A Theme
By RenZach

TITLE- Variation On A Theme
SPOILER WARNING- Up to Hells Bells
DISCLAIMER- Buffy and Giles are not mine if they were they'd be married and clothing would be outlawed in their house :)
SUMMARY- Buffy's in danger it's SuperGiles to the rescue.
FEEDBACK- oh please oh please oh please.

The only sound that could be heard were her footsteps as she sped through the darkened cemetary. Her flight was slowed by the wound in her side, the blood was beginning to cake her shirt. She stumbled as she took a chance backward glance in the desperate hope her pursuer had lost its way. She hit the ground with a thud and gasped from the pain as the gash began to bleed more steadily again. Her attacker had managed to make up the distance in that small amount of time, how she would never know. Oblivion was far better she decided than the existance that was currently her life. All fight left her body as she bared her neck while the creature leaned in for the kill. Giles awoke screaming in a puddle of sweat as he had every night this month.

The water washed over his body as he tried to clean himself not only of the perspiration but also from the image of Buffy's dead body. The dreams were always a variation on that theme, Buffy giving up and ultimatly dying. He knew what they meant, his conscience hadn't given him a moment's peace since he had decided to return home, though England didn't truly feel like home, hadn't for quite some time. He toweled himself dry and wandered through the flat looking for something to take his mind off his troubles for a while. He'd already exhausted his liquor supply so he'd have to settle for plain old tea, there was a time when that would have cured any ail. The phone mocked him as he waited for the kettle to boil. Surely it wouldn't hurt to make a brief call, see that everything was alright, what if the dreams had been prophecy? What if his leaving had only hindered her recovery?

The panic overwhelmed him until before he knew it the phone was at his ear and it was ringing. Dawn answered, she sounded so run down, he wasn't even sure it was her. "Dawn, is everything alright? You sound positivly beat, surely I didn't wake you at 4 in the afternoon."
"Giles? Is it really you? Oh my Gosh you have no idea how great it is to hear your voice, when are you coming home? I miss you Giles, we all miss you."
"I...I don't know Dawn, but I do miss you all terribly too. How's Buffy doing?" He tried to keep the strain from his voice but feared he had failed miserably.
"I'm not supposed to say, what's life like in England is it cold there right now?"
"What do you mean you're not supposed to say? Who told you not to tell me?"
"Xander, he said it'd only worry you and that he was sure Buffy would bounce back any time now."
"Dawn I think you had better tell me everything, I'll take full responsibility should Xander find out."

He could hear the relief in her voice immediatly, how long had things been kept from him? It had taken him half an hour to drag the information from Dawn but he was finally satisified that she had confessed all. His hunt for alcohol began anew as he replaced the receiver in its cradle, there was too much to take in at once. His fears had been realised and although she hadn't given up just yet she was obviously teetering on the edge. "I'm a foolish old man." He threw some clothes and personal items in an overnight bag as he began to dial the airline. "I may not have had the courage to save her from Angel but by God I will save her from herself, even if she spurns my love I will stay this time, I've been a coward far too long."

As she slowly made her way through cemetary after cemetary her thoughts drifted to sour topics. About the only thing that didn't totally suck right now was her new haircut, everyone had been thrilled about it so yay for her. They say the hair makes the woman so maybe she could be a new woman now, or was that the clothes, maybe it was the man, 'Boy do I hope not' she thought miserably as she made her final sweep of the cemetary. How had she allowed herself to sink so low? 'Spike of all people, I mean he's not really even a person, he's not even alive for goodness sakes, course that never stopped me with Angel.' She told the voice in her head to get lost, she had no interest in its opinions right now. She hadn't even protected Dawn and from Willow of all people, how had she not seen that one coming? Because she wasn't seeing anything right now. Ever since she'd been ripped from heaven she'd spent every waking moment hoping to get back, though truth be told life was more bareable when Giles was around.

How could he leave her? Didn't he see she'd been a step away from loosing it? She'd been miserable for so long, even before she'd died. Her emotions were too much to bare so she did what had become common for her, she retreated into herself, trying desperatly to find an oasis inside. She thought back to times with Giles, how they had fit perfectly in all things. In her oasis she could almost feel his hands caressing her, she'd relived the hug in the magic box more times than she dared count. Her eyes closed as she lost herself in the vision of her Giles, his smell intoxicating her. She heard a voice chanting in some obscure language she was sure Giles would have known. Her eyes snapped open, angered that someone had dared interrupt her only relief from the agony that was her life. She intended to give him the beating of his life but when she attempted to raise her arm she found it wouldn't move an inch. Panic consumed her as she vainly tried to move her hand, leg, any limb would do right about now.

Her heart plummeted when he stepped before her, he looked suave as usual, if he wasn't evil he could almost be considered attractive. "Ah Miss Summers, how lovely it is to see you again." She prepared herself with a quip that would totally destroy him but found she couldn't even open her mouth. "Yes as you've probably noticed by now, although you never were terribly quick, I've placed a spell on you. Oh don't worry it's not permanent but it should last long enough for my purposes." Ethan motioned somewhere in the distance and demon henchmen began to close in from all sides. "One can never be too carefull with a slayer I always say." One of them, whom she immediatly nicknamed Ugly, grabbed her roughly and threw her over his shoulder. She was shoved inside a van of some sort, Ethan could be heard laughing as the engine started and the doors were slammed shut with finality.

A left here, a right there, she tried to keep track of the route they were taking but found it impossible and gave up. They had been travelling for what seemed like hours but the rational part of her brain figured it was closer to 30 minutes. The tires squealed and the vehicle suddenly lurched to a halt. "That's the last time I let a Voraitch demon drive." She could hear the venom in Ethan's words and the dread began to spread though her veins. Moonlight poured in as the doors were wrentched violently open and she was hauled out caveman style by Ugly. The view from this angle was far from pleasant so she made every attempt to get a glimpse of as much of her surroundings as she could. She recognised it as the old drive-in on the outskirts of town that had been a wasteland even before she'd arrived in Sunnydale.

"Well Buffy we've arranged for you to have the best room in the place, granted it's a rat infested hole but you work with what you're given." The fury in her eyes caused him to take an involuntary step backwards, he knew he had to be extra careful with this one. "Yes well, I guess we're at the part of the adventure where I tell you all my evil plans and then you try to find a way to thwart them, I do so love this bit. You see I know that I'm probably the most powerful spellcaster that's working these days, I'm keeping an eye on that enchanting red haired friend of yours though trust me. But as I'm sure you know once you're at the top of your game you don't want to simply guard your place from up and comers you must keep striving for greatness. Where do you come in you may ask? Well you see my dear you are simply... bait. When Ripper discovers I have the only thing that matters to him, his legs won't be able to carry him here fast enough."

Buffy smirked at him as best she could whilst paralysed, he apparantly had no clue that not only did she not matter that much to Giles but he cared so little he'd returned to England. "I can see the thoughts running through that tiny little brain of yours slayer. I know that Giles is, was, in England but I arranged for his transport here. All it took was a simple spell that invaded his dreams, given a little time he had no choice but to return here to the woman he loves." Buffy scoffed, Ethan truely was an idiot. "Oh don't underestimate the love he has for you my dear, though I can't imagine why. He's thought of nothing but you since he left, he's a pathetic shell now, more so than he was here in Sunnyhell. Honestly if you had seen him in his glory days, he was magnificent to behold, but then his conscience grabbed hold and eventually you got your claws into him and now he's just a lap dog for you and your friends. Well if he's not going to use all that power then he should give it someone who will, that would be me for the slow ones in the crowd." Buffy wanted nothing more than to smash that smirk off Ethan's face but she calmed herself knowing that his plans wouldn't work, Giles wasn't on his way back, he was safe in England.

The flight was taking far too long, his anxiousness had only increased since he boarded the plane. He glanced at his watch for the thousandth time and groaned that he was still a whole hour away from LA. Thankfully his connecting flight was due to board within an hour of his landing, just enough time to rush through the many hoops an international travelor has to hop and board his connecting flight. As the wheels on the plane finally touched down, he sprinted to be the first to leave this hellish flight. His relief turned to despair once more as 40 minutes later he sat down for yet another flight, this one thankfully, to the love of his life.

Buffy tried to cry out as the blade pierced her skin, arching it's way across her arm. Ethan placed a bowl under her hand and clapped with glee as the blood began to slowly drip inside. "Oh don't worry m'dear I only need enough to write your watcher a small note, oh and a map, we wouldn't want him to get lost on the way now would we? On second thoughts I think he might need a little more blood than that to make him really hurry, I don't have all day you know." When he was satisfied a sufficient amount of slayer blood had been collected he grabbed the bowl and left her cell, which was a far more appropriate name for her surroundings than best room in the place. Fifteen minutes later she heard the tires squeal outside as the van pulled out of the parking lot and made it's way presumably to Giles. Boy were they in for a suprise when they realised he wasn't anywhere near the states. 'I am so gonna kick Ethan's arse for this, when I can move.'

Giles dashed outside the airport and hailed a taxi. The sweat was pouring from him, his heart was ready to explode. A taxi squealed to a stop nearby, he had to leap over an old couple and a rather large looking man but he dove inside the car before the others even noticed the vehicle. "Rovello Drive please, there's a $50 note in it for you if you get me there within 10 minutes." The driver smirked as the cab shot away from the airport. Giles thought the closer he got to Buffy the calmer he would feel but as they neared her house his heart only began to pump harder, he was sure he would have a coronary any moment now. What would he say to her when he got there? Could he finally confess his feelings for her? 'Maybe this time apart has helped her to see me as something other than a stable dependable wall upon which she can lean in times of trouble.' He was shaken from his daydreams as the cab lurched to a halt, his head came within inches of the windshield. Money flew from his hand as his body leapt from the taxi.

A package on the stairs caught his attention, he swooped to pick it up as he neared the front door. He was more than a little suprised to see that it was adressed to him. Curious, he ripped the top open only to find his curiosity further piqued. Inside was a small glass jar with some kind of red liquid inside, attatched to the jar was an envelope with one word printed on it. His heart stopped as the letters RIPPER stared blankly at him. With trembling fingers he opened it and managed to pull the card from inside. It was square and white, no distinguising marks but then the name on the envelope had said it all, there was no doubt in Giles' mind whom had sent this package. In small red letters it simply said 'I have your slayer, proof is in the jar. Come to this adress before it's too late" and below it directions to the Sunnydale Drive-in.

A closer look at the jar left no question as to what the contents were. It slipped from his fingers causing the blood to pool on Buffy's front porch. Without thought for weapons or his own saftey he rushed after the cab in a desperate attempt to attract the driver's attention. He caught up to it when the taxi was forced to pull over for a stop sign. Throwing the passanger door open he leapt inside and handed the directions to the driver. Startled but happy to take Giles' money for another fare he headed towards Buffy's prison. Giles prayed that bastard Ethan hadn't hurt his Buffy or he'd make sure he'd never be able to hurt anyone again.

Far too many minutes later they arrived at their destination, the gravity of the situation forced him to actually think of a plan. He'd stupidly brought no weapons and no one knew where he was. He scavanged for something he could use to beat the life out of Ethan but the best he found was a large stick which he threw away in disgust "Well if he wants a fight thats what he'll get." Giles gathered some twigs nearby and a variety of herbs growing in a patch near the drive-in screen. He sat cross legged on the ground and pulled a lighter from his pocket chanting all the while.

"I can feel him nearby, I could always feel him." Panic began to grow in Buffy, could Ethan really feel him? Surely he wasn't really back in Sunnydale let alone close enough to be sensed. Loud screams echoed from outside her cell, she was comforted by the sound though as it was coming from the demons Ethan had been using as guards. He rushed out to check on his henchmen, distracted by this task his spell on Buffy weakened enough for her to get free of her bindings. By the time Ethan reached the first of his 'men' it was too late, all that remained was a rather big green puddle that was oozing and popping in a decidedly disgusting fashion. "Dammit, never send a demon to do a man's job, people are always telling me that." Buffy slid up behind him while he was trying and failing to get demon goo off his $200 shoes. One good punch in the side of the head and he was down for the count.

Giles raced inside fearful of what he might find. Tears of relief flooded his eyes at the sight before him. Buffy was standing over Ethans unconscious form, kicking him repeatedly in any area she could access. She turned when she heard Giles' intake of breath, the sight of him distracting her adrenaline rush. She collapsed to the floor in a teary heap. No sooner had she hit theground than Giles was by her side bundling her up in his warm embrace. "What are you doing here?" She managed to get out.
"I was worried about you luv."
"Of course, the dreams."
"How did you know about those?"

"It was Ethan, it was all him, he did some kind of spell to make you have nightmares about me. I figured it wouldn't work I mean the nightmare of living with me made you leave why would they make you come back to me?"
"Buffy is that what you honestly think?" She found the floor suddenly very interesting. "Buffy I left because I cared too much not too little." She looked up into his eyes and gasped at what she saw there. For once there was no barrier hiding Giles' emotions away in a vault, he was there in his eyes. Relief, fear and Could it truly be?
"Giles there are some things I need to tell you and you're not gonna like it all but I hope that in the end you get a better glimpse of who I've become and I pray that you like that person."
"Buffy you could tell me anything, I've always been open to whatever you've had to tell me before, in fact if you remember correctly most of our problems have been due to secrets rather than the truth they held."
"Well let's at least tie up Ethan first, we could be a little while and I don't want him coming to and making a break for it."
"Oh indeed, I'd rather forgotten he was there." Buffy smiled at him, thankful for his return but frightened that what she had to tell him would make him leave for Bath immediatly and she'd never see him again. She wouldn't blame him, this time she had really messed up.

Giles took a little too much relish in chaining Ethan to the wall, the Ripper tended to come out when Ethan was nearby. He was still unconscious as they left the room to find a quieter place to talk. Buffy grabbed Giles hands and began to pour her heart out to the man she trusted more than anyone else. She told him everything, her feelings about being expelled from heaven, how bad a sister she'd been to Dawn, the problems Willow had been having and how she hadn't seen them in time to save Dawn from a broken arm. Finally it was time to confess the most difficult part of her last few months, she took a deep breath and blurted it all out in record time. To Giles' credit, though she could see the hurt and anger in his eyes he never let go of her hands and when she was done and all she could do was weep he pulled her into a warm and loving embrace. "I'm proud of you." His voice was heavy with emotion.

"How can you say something like that after everything I've just told you?"
"Because my dear sweet Buffy, you've come through it and from what I can tell your a better person for it. I won't say I agree with all of your choices, far from it in some cases, but Buffy look at you. The old Buffy wouldn't have had the courage to tell me these things and in the end you did make the right choice, you walked away from a bad situation with your head held high. I never liked Riley Finn but I think he finally did you a favour this time, by making you see you're worth more than that. Buffy I've had a secret of my own for many years now, I thought you'd figured it out when I returned before but as time went by it seemed my secret was still safe." She looked at him hope in her eyes but fear in her heart as she remembered Ethan's words. "I love you Buffy, I always have, from the moment you first walked into my library. It wasn't always this kind of love, at first it was fatherly, then as an equal, a friend.."
"And now Giles?" She tried to keep her voice neutral but she was desperate to know if her heart was the only one bursting with love.
"And now Buffy I love you as a woman, a beautiful, kind, intelligent woman. One whom it has been my deepest hope would feel an ounce of my love in return."

She chose not to answer in words for no words could do justice to what her heart wanted to say. In her ethusiasm she knocked him to the floor in a flurry of kisses. After momentary shock his arms grabbed her and held her so tight anyone other than a slayer would have been in pain. Between kisses he whispered 'I love you's ' and she the same. Nothing else existed for them in this moment so it was a very sore but quiet Ethan that managed to make his way beyond the couple and to freedom. Minutes maybe hours later, neither of them knew, they lay in a heap their bodies intertwined, lips swollen from all the kissing.

"I have two questions for you Buffy."
"Shoot, I'll answer them if I float down from this cloud I'm on." He smiled and placed a kiss on her forehead.
"First of all do you think we should go after Ethan?"
"Nah let him worry about us for a few days, now we're together he has no hope." She glanced at him uncertainly, "we are together right? I mean I love you, you love me, you're not gonna walk away from all that are you? Well why wouldn't you every other man in my life who supposedly loves me has left. Giles I couldn't live without you, I barely did it before I know I couldn't now." He silenced her with a sweet and gentle kiss.
"You didn't let me ask my second question." He pulled her up until she was standing in front of him and he was on his knees. "Buffy Anne Summers would you do me the honour of being my wife?"
She squealed a wonderous if not slightly annoying sound to Giles' ears. "Yes oh my God yes nothing would make me happier, I love you Rupert Giles."
"And I love you, the future Mrs Giles." She looked more peaceful that he'd ever seen her, there was an aura of happiness that radiated from her, he was sure he looked the same. 'Thank you Ethan wherever you are.'