Xander looked sheepish. "I told her." He became defensive at Willow's disapproving look. "Hey! I didn't know it was a secret. How was I supposed to know if it was a secret? You never said it was a.."
"Okay, okay. "Willow stopped him. Running her hands through her hair, she looked at him calmly before continuing. "Xander, tell me exactly what Anya said."
"You mean play by play?"
"More or less."
He exhaled, thinking. "Well, we were talking about Buffy and Riley somehow, I'm not really sure. Then, Anya mentions that another commando was after a Slayerette."
"She said that?"
He shrugged. "Something like that. I don't remember the exact wording Willow." Noticing her slightly hurt look, he amended. "I'm sorry Will. I'll try to remember harder."
"It's okay." Willow said miserably. "I guess I'm just a little on edge right now."
"He means that much to you?"
She raised her eyes and Xander gasped. In all the years he'd known her, he'd never seen such depth of emotion in her sparkling green eyes. Love and tenderness, mixed with a sadness he never knew Willow could possess. At that moment, Xander realized the full extent of her feelings for Giles. And it touched him more than he thought possible.
Slowly, Willow nodded, swallowing her tears. When she spoke, it was heartbreaking. "Yes. Xander, I love him. Not in the way I loved Oz. With him it was more a first time love, but with Giles.." She gazed down at her hands thoughtfully. "..with him, it's more like once in a lifetime, storybook romance.."
"Gone with the Wind, true love, one person ever love?" Xander interrupted.
She nodded. "Yeah. I thought it might have been the crush I've had since High School just resurfacing but.."
"You had a crush on Giles in High School?" Xander asked incredously. "How come I didn't know?"
Willow sighed. "Yes, I had a crush on him. Ever since the first year."
"Xander." She said pointedly. "And the reason I didn't tell you is because it wasn't any of your business."
"Did anyone else know?" He asked, still unable to accept her admission.
"No." Willow replied, exasperated. "Buffy suspected, I think. But, she didn't bring it up until a couple of months ago." Willow waved her hands to change the subject. "Can you forget about me not telling you for a minute?"
"Sure. But, just for a minute." He replied, half teasing.
Willow rolled her eyes. "Anyway, Giles and I had been spending more time together lately. Researching, magick lessons and just hanging out together." She smiled fondly at the memory. "We even kissed."
She nodded happily. "Just on the cheek but that was more than enough." She continued. "I took that as a sign that we were becoming more than just Willow and Giles, you know?" He nodded. "So, when Graham asked me out..."
"You told him adios, amigo." Xander quipped, taking a long swig of his milk.
"Yeah. I wasn't interested to begin with. "She trailed off." And then there was Giles..."
"How did Graham take it?"
"Oh, he was great about it. He didn't get mad or anything."
"Okay. So, Mr. Initiate took it well." Xander repeated before Willow broke in.
"Hey, Xan. How did you know Graham asked me out? I didn't tell you."
Xander shook his head. "No. Riley mentioned it in passing while we were all waiting for Buffy to come back from slayage." He looked at her. "I guess good old Riles didn't know about Graham's broken heart."
"Xander." Willow said wirily. "Not funny."
"Sorry, Wills." Xander scarfed down the last of his donut, before continuing. "So to recap, you and Giles were getting it on. " Willow gave him a pointed look. "I mean, 'growing closer'. Then, Graham asks you out then you let him down gently, then.."
"And then, Buffy and I catch Giles with another woman!" Willow screamed.
"SSH!" Xander said. "Are you sure there was horizontal hulaing going on?"
"Gee Xander, I don't know. She was wearing his sweater and coming down the stairs from his bedroom, kinda tipped me off." Willow replied sarcastically.
Xander held up his hands. "Hey, don't get meow with me, Willow. I just asked a simple question." He swiftly changed the subject. "So, was she a hottie?"
Willow flashed him her resolve face with a slight twist to it. Her smile and her eyes had grown a hard look, and Xander gulped a few times. He'd never seen that dreadful look on her face before. Coughing lightly, he muttered, "Sorry. Stupid question."
"Anyway," Willow continued, "She came down the stairs, all hoity-toity, calling him Rupert dear, and wrapping her arms around his waist."
"So, she was like gum on a shoe?" He asked.
"Yeah!" Willow replied, her ire slowly rising as she recalled the horrible morning.
"What did you do?"
"I just stood there in shock. Buffy did most of the talking." Willow explained. "Did I mention she was touching him?"
"Anyway, after my bout of rigor mortis left, Buffy pulled me out of the apartment and we came home." She said miserably. "End of story."
"End of story." Xander repeated, his mind thinking. Willow noticed his thoughtful look and asked, "What? Whatcha thinking?"
"Now, I'm not condoning Giles' behavior, but.." Xander approached carefully, not wanting her to see her resolve face again. "Did it ever occur to you that maybe Giles was with this..."
"Lucinda." She spat out, like she had soap in her mouth.
"Lucinda." He continued. "With her because of you."
"I'm not saying it's your fault. It's not." Xander reassured her. "What I am saying is that maybe Giles went for her because he couldn't have you. Maybe, when we accidently told him about your date or non-date, Giles went out to get his own."
"You mean rebound?" She asked hopefully.
He nodded in agreement. "Maybe he was so hurt that he found the first girl who crossed his path and decided to do the booty call with her."
"You know what I mean." Xander said. "Lucinda was probably just a forget-me-not."
"Forget-me-not. One night stand." He explained.
"Is that what they're calling it these days?" Willow wondered aloud.
He nodded absently. "Do you really think Giles would sleep with her if he thought he had a chance with you? When he found out about your date, he probably gave up hope of ever being with you."
"So, he decides to have a one night stand?"
He shrugged. "Look, I'm not saying that Giles did the right thing. I'm just trying to give you a reason why he might do that." Xander continued, thoughtfully. "Maybe he was drunk."
"Yeah." He answered. "He could have had one too many drinks and then boom-bamm, he was rump shaking..."
"Please." Willow held up her hand to stop him. "We don't need to get graphic. Do you think he might have been drinking? Not that, that excuses him, but.."
"It's better than knowing he did this with all his marbles, isn't it?" He asked, not needing to hear her answer.
She nodded. Willow picked up her napkin and shredded it into little strips before continuing, "Xander, I want to believe you. I really do, but.."
"I just don't want to get hurt again. I mean, I've already experienced enough with Oz...but this is different.."
"'Cause you love Giles more?"
Willow nodded slowly. "What should I do, Xander?"
"Like I said Will, you really need to talk with Giles ." Xander explained. "You guys have to straighten this out."
"Me talk to Giles?" Willow looked at Xander in shock. "Who did the wrong here? He has to talk to me."
"He you, you him." Xander exasperated. "Does it really matter anymore, Willow?"
He stopped her. "No, it doesn't. You and Giles..." he started before a tall figure came up to them.
She turned at the sound of her name and her eyes widened. "Graham?" she cleared her throat. "What..what.."
"Hi Willow." Graham said. "I saw you leave the donut shop and thought I'd stop to say hi." he noticed Xander. " I'm not sure we've met. I'm Graham."
"I guessed." Xander looked at him warily. "I'm Xander. You're one of Riley's friends, right?"
"Yeah." he replied. "Know Riley?"
Xander shook his head. "Not really. Buffy is one of my best friends. That's how I know about Riley."
As Xander and Graham were making small talk, an idea unexpectedly popped into Willow's head. She knew the repercutions could be irrepairable but she really didn't have a choice. Not entirely true. She did have a choice but her feelings were clouding her better judgement. Anger and jealousy spurred on by an unaccustomed sense of revenge overtook everything else. If she was half as rational as she should be, she knew she wouldn't even comprehend such an idea, much less go through with it.
Clearing her throat, Willow smiled up at Graham. "Graham?"
"I was wondering..." She touched his arm lightly. "Are you busy tonight?"
"What?" Graham asked surprised.
"What?" Xander asked at the same time, equally surprised.
She sidled up to Graham. "I wanted to know if your offer to go out was still open." she looked innocent. "Is it?"
Flustering a bit, Graham replied. " Umm...sure....would you like to go to the movies?"
Willow smiled. "I'd love to."
"Yeah?" Graham asled and Willow nodded in reply. "Well, how about I pick you up at seven?"
"Fine." she smiled, while trying to ignore Xander's incessant prodding.
"Will..." Xander said incessantly. "We need to go." he looked at Graham. "Now."
"Hey, no problem." Graham looked checked his watch. "I gotta go too."
"Great!" Xander exclaimed, as they both turned to him. " I mean great that it's no problem that you have to go too. he grabbed her arm. "Cause we have to go too."
He started to walk awya, pulling Willow reluctantly along with him. They barely got out of earshot when Xander barraged her. "What was that?"
"What do you mean?" she asked. "And you're squeezing my arm. Ouch."
"Sorry." he let it go. "Okay. Explain to me what that was all about." he looked her straight in the eye. " Why did you make a date with Graham? Did I miss something? Did I miss you go completely batty?"
"I haven't gone completely batty." she protested, her hands on her hips. "I changed my mine. I can do that. It's my prerogative."
"I don't believe this. " Xander paced in a little circle. " Just ten minutes ago, you were professing your undying love or Giles and now you made a date with someone else. What's going on, Willow?"
Nothing." she said a little defensively. "Why are you asking? Why is it any of your business anyway? Don't you have to orgasm with Anya or something?"
"That comes later." Xander replied, before realizing what he'd just said. "Er...forget I said that."
She nodded. "Forgotten."
"Good." he nodded in agreement. "Anyway, we were talking about you here. You love Giles but have a date with Graham. Are you trying to make Giles jealous?" Willow's eyes flashed quickly but Xander caught the look. "Wait a sec... is that what this is...a way to make Giles jealous?"
"No...yes...er..." Willow stepped away.
"Willow!" Xander yelled. "You're just adding more fuel to the fire."
"Whose side are you on?" she asked defensively.
"Then act like it." Willow interrupted. "Geez Xander, you act like this is all my fault but it's not. Not really. I wasn't the one who slept with some skany-ho he barely knew to satisfy some animalistic desire that all men have."
"Whoa.."Xander tried to interject but Willow continued. "A few drinks, a few winks, then boom-bam, horizontal hula time...Do I hear poor Willow? No, not anymore. Make one date with Graham and now it's poor Giles?" she looked at Xander pointedly, waiting for him to say something.
Xander had seen Willow like this before and he knew the best thing for him was to make an exit as quickly as possible. Her resolve face was on combined with her resolve voice made for a very unpleasant Willow. And he wasn't brave enough to face that.
Exhaling, Xander calmly said, " Look Willow, I think you're making a mistake." she started to interrupt but he ventured on. "..but there's nothing I can do so I'm going."
Willow stared silently at Xander's retreating back. Part of her wanted to tell him that he was right, that she was making a mistake. But the other part, the 'resolve' part was too stubborn to back out now.
"I guess I'd better get ready." she muttered to herself as she walked back toward campus.
She had an uneasy feeling about this...
"And you think it will work?"
Buffy nodded. "I guarantee it will." she flopped on the couch. "Now, if I could get Riley to do that.."
The door burst open and a slightly distressed Xander burst in. "Giles.." he exclaimed as he ran into the living room.
"Xander?" Buffy cried out.
Giles rolled his eyes. "Well, now that the two of you know each other's names. What are you doing here, Xander?"
"I was with Wills. " he replied, watching curiously as Giles started to perk up at that.
"You were?" Giles asked, trying to appear nonchalant.
Xander nodded. "Yeah..and I know all about you, Mr. Happy Pants."
Giles groaned. "Xander, I can..."
"Giles, I don't wat to hear it right now. " Xander snapped.
"Xander!" Buffy said. "Give Giles a break."
"No." Giles replied. "It's all right. I gather from your reaction Xander, that Willow must have told you everything."
"She did." Xander said incredulously. "Look Giles, I know you wouldn't deliberately hurt Willow but she is my best friend..."
Giles held his hand up. "Say no more. I understand." he quietly continued, "I hope you don't hate me."
Xander shook his head no. "Never, Giles. It's just... you'd better make this up to her, that's all."
"Don't worry, Xander. I intend to." he replied.
"In fact, that's what we were talking about before ou busted in here. " Buffy said. "We've come up with a plan to woo Willow."
"Well, " Xander sat next to Buffy. " It better be soon."
"Why?" Giles asked, trepidation in his voice.
"Spill it, Xander." Buffy growled.
"Because she has a date with Graham tonight." Xander replied quickly.
"What?" Buffy and Giles screamed in unison.
"What do you mean she has a date with Graham?" Buffy asked, grabbing Xander by the collar. "What did you say to her?"
"Nothing, I swear." he choked out. "She came up with the plan all by herself."
"Payback." Giles whispered, hurt evident in his voice.
"Giles?" Buffy asked. She rose from the couch to stand beside him. "Are you all right?"
"Yes." he gave her a small smile. "I really messed things up, didn't I?"
"No, Giles." Xander piped up. "Wills is just doing this to get back at your for the Lucinda incident."
Giles sank into the couch. "Well, now that Willow is dating Graham, I guess my 'picnic' is out of the question."
"Why?" Buffy stood in front of him, hands on her hips. "Why can't you go through with it? If you really love Willow."
"Of course, I love Willow." Giles yelled out. "I'd do anything for her. But, with this bloody Graham in the picture...what makes you think I have a chance?"
"Because she loves you." Xander said simply. He watched as the Watcher's emotions changed dramatically from shock, to acceptance until finally resting on contentment.
"Really?" Giles whispered, not wanting to get his hopes up. Both Buffy and Xander nodded their heads in unison. "She has for a long time." Buffy admitted.
"I never thought she would..she could.." Giles trailed off, still trying to process their admissions.
Xander smiled. "But she does."
"I've got to get her back." Giles said determinedly
"What are you going to do about Graham?" Buffy wondered.
Giles grinned. "I've got a few ideas."
"I have nothing to wear." Willow screamed, as she angrily flipped through the clothes in her closet. She had searched and searched and found nothing appropriate to wear on her date with Graham.
A nice enough guy who was friends with her best friend's boyfriend. She couldn't quite figure out his interest in her since they'd only met twice. But, he was interested, which was a problem. She knew it was wrong for her to use him as a tool for revenge but he was convienient. He'd asked her out before but she refused, the reason being her love for Giles. But when she found out about Giles and the hussy, she'd felt betrayed and angry and hurt. She'd wanted to hurt Giles, let him have a taste of what it felt like to have a heart broken, the way he made her feel. And Graham was the perfect person to aid her. However, she was starting to regret her decision of using Graham but it was too late to back out now. Besides, she didn't want to cancel with Grahamm twice in one week, it might hurt him. 'Like you're not hurting him by using him' her inner voice scolded her.
"Stop!" she yelled aloud. "I made the date, I can't turn back the clock."
She researched her closet finally pulling out a pale green, off the shoulder gauzy dress with soft ruffles cascading her shoulders. It was springy yet fun.
"How much time do I have?" she mumbled. She glanced at her clock. She had about one hour left to go. "I guess I'll just read while waiting."
She went to her bookshelf to pick out a title when her eye caught on a photo she had on the shelf. It was of her and Giles, taken back in her sophomore year of high school. She had a tremendous crush on him back then and now...
"I love him" she said softly as she traced his picture with her finger. "Oh, Giles..."
Back at Giles' Apt:
"Giles, do really think this will work?" asked Xander.
"Positive." Giles replied as he ran down the stairs.
"Woo-woo!" Buffy and Xander yelled as they took in Giles' appearance. He was wearing a dark blue silk shirt with a black suit and no tie. He was dressed to the nines. Hair combed, no glasses and he was wearing his earring.
Giles blushed." Buffy, Xander..."
"Looking good, looking good." Xander said, mimicking 'Chico and the Man'.
Buffy nodded in agreement. "I totally agree, Giles. You are going to knock Willow's socks off."
"I hope you're right, Buffy." he glanced in the mirror. "Oh, and don't worry, I'll take care of Graham."
Xander looked at him skeptically."What are you going to do?"
"Nothing...much." Giles muttered under his breath. "Just a little storytelling, that's all." 'Maybe a little warning' he thought to himself.
"Try not to hurt him that much Giles." Buffy offered. "I mean he's still my boyfriend's best friend."
"I'll try." Giles turned to face them. "Look, I know my plan is a little..."
"Sneaky?" Xander offered.
"Deceitful?" Buffy teased.
Giles gave them a contrite look. "I was going to say colorful." he looked at them. "I know this sounds odd but I'm doing this because I love her."
Buffy smiled sincerely. "We know." she squeezed his hand. "As Willow once told me, Love makes you do the wacky."
"And this would certainly qualify as wacky." Xander said, earning a glance from Giles.
Buffy opened the door and shoved Giles out. "Okay, Giles. We'll take care of Graham and you take care of Willow."
"And give us all the dirty details tomorrow." Xander winked knowingly at Giles, causing him to groan.
Willow's Dorm, 20 minutes later:
Lying on her bed, Willow had tried for awhile now to read but couldn't do it. She tried to get her mind to concentrate on 'Sense and Sensibility' but her thoughts kept wandering. They kept wandering all the way back to Giles and what she was about to do to him and their relationship.
'If Giles hadn't done the deed with Lucinda, then none of this would be happening.' she thought, even though her heart was telling her otherwise. She knew that what Giles did was his own business and not hers but she hurt just the same. And instead of talking to him or yelling at him, she decided to confound the problem by making a date with Graham, a guy who she didn't really want to go out with. She was using Graham, while at the same time making Giles jealous and quite possibly hurting him as well.
"What did I get myself into?" she wailed, covering her face with her hands. She was thisclose to calling Graham up and cancelling, 'But he's probably on his way' she concluded.
The loud knocking pulled Willow out of her reverie and she jumped off the bed. 'He's here.' she thought, a slight nervousness overwhelming her.
"Coming!" she yelled. After taking one final glance in the mirror, Willow turned the knob and opened the door.
"Hello, Graham." she started to say before her heart jumped into her throat.
"Hello,Willow." he said in a loving tone.
"Giles !" Willow yelled in surprise.
Smiling softly, Giles offered, "Willow, I.." he barely got out before Willow tried to slam the door on him.
"Goodbye,Giles." she started to close the door but his strength stopped her.
Pushing against the wooden door, Giles barged in, knocking Willow a little off balance. He grabbed her arm to steady her and a electric tingle surged through him at their touch. He looked wildly into her eyes and knew she had felt it too.
Closing the door, Giles, still holding her arm, asked. "Are you all right?"
She nodded, unable to speak. The unexpected feel of Giles had sent a thrill through her that she welcomed. 'God, he's making it so hard for me', she thought as she looked at him, her gaze running up and down his body. 'WOW!' she thought, her eyes taking in his well dressed body. 'Is that an earring?' she wondered, as she stared into his handsome face .
He stared at her, wondering at her silence. At least she hadn't thrown him out yet. Squeezing her arm lightly, he began, "Willow. I came over here because I wanted to talk to you."
Snapping out of her lustful reverie, she shook him off. "We don't have anything to talk about." she turned away. "Besides, I'm expecting someone."
"He's not coming." Giles said.
"What do you mean?"
Sighing, he explained. "Graham. He's supposed to come to pick you up for a date." he leaned against her desk. "but he's not coming."
Willow furrowed her brow. "What did you do?"
"Persuade him not to come." he answered matter-of-factly.
He smirked. "I just told him it was in his best interest not to come."
"You didn't go Ripper on him, did you?" she asked suspiciously.
"Not too much." he pushed himself away from the desk towards her. "Enough about Graham. I came to talk about us."
"There is no us." she said a little too quickly.
He reached for her hand. "Why?"
Willow turned to give him a dirty look. "Why? Why do you think?" she pulled away from him. "You and Lucinda and horizontal hula and her in your sweater and..." her voice broke as she tried to vent her frustrations.
He touched her shoulder. "Willow," he begged her. "Please let me explain." When she didn't protest, he continued, "I've been an ass. A complete ass. I made a mistake and in the process, hurt so many people." he turned her to face him. "But, no one more important than you."
She stared at the floor, not wanting to look at him, afraid that if she did, her eyes would betray her true feelings for him. Instead, she kept silent and let him continue.
"Over the past few weeks, I've felt that we were growing closer than ever before. And I had hoped.." he stepped away from her, "..for something more."
He continued. "Yesterday, when Anya and Xander came over, Anya, in her less than subtle way, let it slip that you had a date with Graham." he said the name in a loathsome way that Willow looked at him curiously. "I was upset to say the least. So, I went downtown."
He shoved his hands into his pockets. "I went to the bar and had a few drinks. Actually, more than a few.." he went on, "After awhile, Lucinda came over."
Willow choked. "I don't need to hear anymore."
Giles quickly strode to her and grabbed her. "No, you have to." he gazed pleadingly into her. "Please?"
Nodding faintly, she relaxed somewhat and he preceded. "Anyway, by that time I was completely drunk and when she came over, I glanced up and saw you."
"What?" she exploded.
"Green eyes, auburn hair. Her eyes reminded me of yours." he released her. "And in my condition, I thought she was you. I so wanted it to be you." he pressed on. "Well, we started talking and drinking and the next thing I knew we were.." he trailed off.
"Getting it on?" she offered, a hint of sarcasm in her voice.
He nodded. "Yes. I guess I was flattered that she wanted me. That someone wanted me." he admitted. Willow's heart melted at his admission. She didn't realize how lonely he was at times, how much he was taken for granted. 'Giles, I still want you.' she thought to herself.
"Giles.." she started to speak before he shushed her.
"Willow, please.." he begged. "It was a mistake. I was drunk, lonely and I thought you had rejected me by dating Graham, and it shouldn't have happened." He looked straight into her eyes, "Please forgive me. I know we can't ever be more after what I did, but I don't want to ruin our friendship anymore than I already have." he grabbed her arms, "I'm sorry."
Willow stood there, processing all that Giles had said. It was obvious that what went on between him and Lucinda was a mistake. It didn't make it hurt any less but she was relieved that he wasn't serious about Lucinda. And that he was truly sorry.
She looked at him and saw his face, and her heart softened. He looked so forlorn, so dejected that all she wanted to do was wrap her arms around him and kiss him. She knew what she had to do.
"Giles," she began, "I'm sorry, too."
His head snapped up at her words. "What?"
She nodded. "For pulling that stunt with Graham. I shouldn't have done it but I did." she started to pace a little. "Oh, Giles. I was just so angry and hurt and I guess I wanted you to feel the same way I felt when I found out about Lucinda." she faced him. "Forgive me."
Giles couldn't believe his ears. She was apologizing to him, even though he started this whole mess. 'Gods, she's an angel.' he mused.
He stepped toward her and grabbed her hands. "Willow," he brought them up to his lips, "You have nothing to be sorry for. I made the mistake. You only reacted because of my stupidity." he squeezed her hands. "Forgive me."
She stepped closer to him as well. "I forgive you, Giles."
Giles released the breath he'd been holding and thanked whatever gods might be listening. He pulled her to him and held her close. "Thank God." he whispered, wrapping his arms around her.
Tangling his hands into her hair, Giles pulled her back to gaze into her eyes. "My beautiful, sweet Willow..." he said lovingly. "I love you more than anything."
And before Willow could respond, Giles crushed his lips to hers in a mind searing kiss. Nibbling and sucking, he swept his tongue across her mouth until she opened it for him. He plunged his tongue inside, sweeping it all around her mouth, claiming her as his own. Willow moaned at the invasion and gave herself over to him completely, wrapping her arms around his waistt, holding him to her.
Needing some air, Giles pulled back, panting harshly. He glanced down and smiled lovingly at her. She had the most beautiful look on her face. Part passion, part love, all glorious. He ran his hand down her face, caressing her skin lightly.
She opened her eyes and smiled sweetly at him. "Wow." she exclaimed, licking her lips.
He grinned sexily. "Wow, indeed."
"I love you too, Giles." she admitted, smiling up at him.
"Willow," he offered, before giving her another spine tingling kiss.
Pulling away, Willow said. "Mmmm, you're a good kisser."
He smiled rakishly. "I'm better at other things too, love."
"Will you show me?" she asked, her heart speeding up at his words.
"Later, love." he ran his hands through her hair lovingly.
"Later?" she pouted.
He ran his finger across her pouty lips . "Not much later, I promise." he lightly kissed her pout. "I want to take you out. Make it up to you."
"Giles," she offered. "You don't need to."
He shook his head. "No,Willow. I want to. I'd do anything for you." he kissed her nose. "Let's go to Stanley's."
"Oooh...Stanleys." she replied, her eyes wide. "Fancy."
"Nothing but the best for my Willow." he said, as he wrapped his arm around her.
As they were walking to the door, Willow asked, with a twinkle in her eye. "Then will you show me what things you do best?"
"Forever and ever, if you'd like." he replied, with a Ripper-like smile.
Willow couldn't wait.
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