TITLE: Somewhere Down the Road
AUTHOR: claudine
RATING: G ( so far ...)
FEEDBACK: Sure! - Constructive, but kind. It'll help get the story written faster and better :-)
NOTES: This story takes place long after the gang has gone their separate ways. Buffy was never killed, though. The gang just sort of ... broke up.
Disclaimer: Permission to use these characters relating to BtVS & AtS has not been given. Joss, Twentieth Century Fox, UPN, WB & Mutant Enemy own TM and copyrighted them. This is purely for fun, and no copyright infringement is intended. You know the drill ...

Part one

"What ? Your first time ?" Willow's eyebrows crept to the tip of her widow's peak as she studied Rupert Giles. Giles... Rupert Giles. Double-o-stud. Three lifetimes had gone by since they'd parted.

"It's not as though I haven't thought about it. But I've always held my curiosity in abeyance, always been true to tradition." He shifted as he spoke, nervous and shy, not quite sure what was coming next. Willow liked him like this, at her mercy. He'd always been in charge when they knew each other a million years ago - but at this chance meeting, she had the upper hand, and she was wielding the power.

"Why, Rupert Giles, you naughty boy! Don't you know that curiosity killed the cat?" Her eyes gazed up at him over the rim of her sunglasses. "All these years, all those secrets. If I had known I would have broken you in back when I was in high school. But we always assumed you'd..."

He broke her sentence, " I know. I'm so ashamed. I feel as though I've led a double life. Imposing all those morals and values on the lot of you, when all the time E28093 this curiosity burned inside of me. It's shocking. I'm...quite... stunned myself" His breath was staggered now as his eyes looked anywhere but into h ers. "Can you forgive me?"

And there it was - that thousand watt smile. Willow stood on tiptoe and leaned in to whisper in his ear, "Of course. Now, just tell me how you want it." Giles melted.

Her felt her breath, warm and moist, on his cheek and tickling the fuzziness of his ear, slithering into the collar of his shirt. It had been years since he'd seen her and, while she was well out of high school at that time, she certainly was no match for this heavenly creature she'd grown into. Visions surged inside his head as she wrapped herself around his arm and laid her head on his shoulder. "Surprise me," he said.

She turned to the man behind the counter and spoke, "Two mocha frappucchinos, please."

Part 2

How do you end a day like this ?   Why would you end it ?  Giles reached across the table and took Willow's hand in his.  "Willow, I'm so glad I ran into you today. I've been thinking about you recently.  A lot, actually."  Her hand resting comfortably in his, Willow imagined that if he hadn't reached across the table for her hand, he'd surely be cleaning his glasses at this point.   

"About me?"  She was surprised he'd actually thought about her since she'd been gone, let alone admit it.  Giles was never one to show his emotions or let anyone know what was going on in that stuffy, but sexy, British head of his.  Her smile grew as her eyes widened and her heartraced.   

"Oh yes.  Very much," he said. Even after four hours of catching up, he felt his soul stirring inside him - a feeling he thought long departed - when she smiled.  "I meant to look you up, to keep in touch, but..."  His words trailed off as they both realized that their last momenttogether had not been a pleasant one.  Buffy was gone.  Dawn, Xander, Oz, Cordelia, Angel, Wesley, Anya, Faith, all of them just... gone.   Not dead, but all departed -separated by busy agendas and changing times.  Friends grow apart and people move on  - Giles knew it would happen sooner or later, but you never are truly prepared for such a complete dissolution of friendships and family.

Willow's eyes sparkled throughout the night as they sat and talked.  They had moved on from the coffee shop to a quaint little blues club just off the main drag.  Down two flights of stairs and into the darkness- the path to the bar suggested the clientele would be much like those you'd find at Willie's Alibi Room - but it was just the opposite.  Well, not 'opposite' per se - " second star to the right and stare at it 'til morning" would be 'opposite' of Willie's, but this was still a nice place.  

The Brit excused himself from the table and left Willow for a moment.  Music eddied around in Willow's head with the rest of her thoughts - but she let go of everything for one brief minute and let the music fill her.   Far cry from The Bronze she thought to herself and smiled.  

She liked it, though.   She'd imagined Giles in every settingpossible, doing everything one would do when left alone in a room full of musty, old, leather-bound books : making tea, reading, drinking tea, researching, making more tea, and, oh yeah...drinking tea.  But this place, the 'blues' - she couldn't even imagine 'Ripper' in a place like this.  Why did he bring herhere ?   'Uh-oh.  Maybe he's not Giles anymore, maybe he's Ripper.  He is a little sexier than I remember, although he was pretty darn sexy last time I saw him.  Maybe he found some of that old band candy and slipped into a Ripper relapse.'  Willow's minds eye created a hand just to slap herself with ... and she did.  It was like her own little re-set button, like when your computer freezes up and you hit that magic button that seems to repair everything.

Too many thoughts crowded her mind - too many why's and what-ifs.  She took a deep, cleansing breath and instantly put herself at ease while she waited.  Her mind started to wander again, but this time in a direction that led her to a romantic moonlit walk with Giles - arm in arm on the beach at midnight.  Surely the smile on her face must have given heraway to the waiters that had gathered at the end of the bar to stare at this lovely woman.  She opened her eyes and caught sight of her suitors and began to blush.

When Giles returned to the table, Willow felt her soul stirring with excitement, regret, exasperation, desperation, and a million other things.  The moment he sat, Willow reached for his hand, "Giles, I need to say something and I don't want you to interrupt me because...if you stop me I'llnever get it out - and I need to say these things." She closed her hands around his and let his energy fill her body - he was like an ocean wave rolling over her, the rhythmic beating of his heart dancing with the her racingpulse.

He parted his lips to speak and Willow shushed him "Shush !! Do you call that ' not' interrupting me - I think not."  That's the girl he used to know - he smiled, but continued quickly  "All I wish to say is that I'm all ears...and I'm all yours"  That last part ' I'm all yours' put the butterflies back into Willow's stomach.  She readied herself and looked into his eyes, "Giles - I don't think it's an accident that we ran into each other today.  In fact, I 'know'it's not an accident.  I kind of stopped using magick for a while after ... well, you know - with the ... and the ..."  She nodded her heada lot and fidgeted, not wanting to remind him of the horrible things she'd done after Tara died.  Giles nodded his head in agreement that there had been a strain on everyone after Tara's death but nothing needed to be said at this point to reiterate.  After a moment, she continued, "Anyway - I lost touch with everyone - but most of all, I lost touch with myself. I didn't go out and try to meet new people.  I never finished school.  I stopped trying to be part of this world.  And then I said to myself, "Self - get on the stick ::: blushing, now ::: err, uh ... ball :::: blushing more :::: err, uh ... bandwagon ?  Yeah ... bandwagon ... and get your tookis  in gear. But ... itwas hard to get back into the scene, back into the swing of things.  I haven't made many new friends, and I haven't looked up Buffy or Xander.  I've been feeling a little lonely lately and...Well - I sort of did a spell a few days ago."  

Part 3

"A spell ? " he said.

Giles fidgeted.  He knew that Willow had reckoned with some dark forces in the past.  The incidents following Tara's death had been justabout as bad as he could have imagined.   She atoned and Giles guided her back to path the led to the 'good' in her future.  Without him she may never have recovered, the darkness would have grown and eventually taken her over.  But he stuck by and helped 'de-tox' her.  Shewas grateful he had been there.

Willow knew that the mention of the magick she used would put Giles illat ease, but she wanted to come clean.  She was enjoying herself - she didn't want this night to end. But she also knew that hiding things from him would be a bad way to start a relationship.  And she hopedthis would be the start of a relationship.   

"Giles, please don't freak out."  She took a deep breath and let the voice inside of her guide the way.  "I did a simple spell.  A locator spell." She looked down at the table and away from his eyes as she said this next part. "I asked to be guided to my soul mate."   

"Oh," he said and sat back in his chair.  Part of him was flattered, the other part continually skeptical.  "Well.  I don'tknow what to say.  How many people have you met since you performed the spell?  What makes you think it's me?  Perhaps it's the man who sold us our coffee this afternoon...Or the woman at the table next to us,for that matter."      

Butterflies in her stomach had worked themselves into a frenzy as she continued, "I can't explain how I know.  I just... know.  Like I would know my own reflection when I look into a mirror."  She said the words and she meant them, but Giles' response was like a knife in herheart.  It felt like every ounce of blood had been drained from her body and left her sitting a cold sweat.   I shouldn't have just blurted it out like that.  So stupid.  

He brought a hand up to the bridge of his nose and massaged his eyes ashis head spun. As hard as he tried, he couldn't dispel the parallel of theevents that had led him here to Sunnydale and the magicks Willow had used. He was scheduled to speak in a lecture series in L.A. for the Watcher's Council, but the tour had been canceled.  Instead of getting on a plane back to England, somehow he'd found his way to Sunnydale.   His heart raced, torn between believing that he and Willow were meant to be together and frightened that she had altered their reality somehow.   

Tears in her eyes and a lump in her throat, Willow softly spoke his name and reached to touch his hand, " Giles?"   The man shook his head and took a deep breath and he looked into her eyes. "Willow, I'm sorry.  I...I would be lying if I said I wasn't a little confused rightnow."  

She immediately grew defensive and apologetic, "Giles, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to..."

"Let me finish," he interrupted.  His free hand slid across the table and covered hers as he continued, "I would also be lying if I told you that the thought of ...us...together had never crossed my mind.  I've missed you more than I will ever be able to articulate."  

He missed me .  "Giles, I've missed you, too.  And I promise you that nothing that I've done has altered reality or erased anyone's memory or caused anything bad to happen to anyone.  It was a guidance spell.  That's all.  I didn't even think that it worked...until I saw you today."   

This made him smile.  "What in the world makes you think that a spell to locate your soul mate, the person you are destined to be withfor eternity - led you to a broken old man like me?"   

Willow stood and slowly walked around the table, finally arriving at his side.  He looked up into her eyes and saw his reflection in their shimmery veneer.  And he understood. She bent and kissed his lips lightly, her hand firmly planted in the center of his chest on his breastbone.   

He covered her hand with his and curled his fingers around it.  Hestood and pulled her to the dance floor with him.  Her head on his shoulder, his arms tight around her waist, Willow relaxed into his form and swayed with the music.   

Words almost failed him as held her in his arms.  He was breathless as he whispered in her ear, " It's not magick, I know that, now."  She looked up at him and he leaned in and rested his forehead on hers," Magick wouldn't have swept my soul away like this."   Their lips met.  And their hearts danced.  And their souls soared.

Part 4

4 am found a slightly inebriated Rupert Giles trying so valiantly to escort the woman up the flight of stairs that led to her front door. But he failed and fell, pulling her down with him as he sank to his hands andknees on the slick cement steps of her home. He laughed and apologized as he turned to sit on the step. Reckless abandon aside, he pulledher close to his chest, embraced her and announced," I am very, very drunk."

"I noticed." Her husky tone, voice exhausted from their long night, excited him.

"In fact, I am so drunk, that...I'm not quite sure which one of you I'mgoing to kiss goodnight first." He sighed, his hand smoothing back a fallen strand of Willow's fiery mane. Never before had his eyes sparkled like they did at this moment. Soft, misting rainfall filled the space around them leaving dewdrops in Willow's hair and his Giles' eyelashes.  

"Aim for the one in the middle," she teased and eased herself forward to kiss him, his body slowly leaning back until it found the steps behind him. He loved the feeling of her body resting on his, her heartbeat like a drum on his chest. "Giles, why don't you come inside."

"Mrs. Robinson...are you trying to seduce me?" He laughed at his joke.

"Not yet. But just for the record, when I try to seduce you - you'll know." She stood and took him by the hand, led him to her door. As she fumbled with the key, Giles closed in and embraced her from behind, nibbling on her neck as she struggled to find the right damn key!!! Her concentration was thrown off by the tingling down herback and arms as Giles continued his romantic assault. Almost drained of every ounce of strength in her body, Willow leaned forward against thedoor, her face pressed up against the cool, dewy stained glass panel, his strong body working his own brand of magic on her emotions as he stroked her hair and whispered in her ear.

Barely an ounce of resolve left in her bones, she pushed the door opened and walked inside, his hands still on her waist as she moved. As the door closed behind them, Giles stopped her and turned her to him. His voice soft and dreamy, he raised his finger gently to the underside of Willow's chin and lifted her face so that her eyes met his. "I really should go." He regretted the words even before he spoke them. Please, Gaia - let her dispute me.

"No. You shouldn't." Never before had such glorious words been spoken to Rupert Giles. "You are too drunk to find your way back to your hotel room. And it's 4 am. Vamps are trying to find one last meal before beddy-bye." She casually tossed her keys onto a table by the door and slipped out of her coat.

"Follow me," she took him by the hand into the living room and led him to the sofa.

"Sit," she ordered.

"Yes M'am," he tipped and imaginary hat to her and then took a seat.  

"I'll be right back. I'm just going to get a blanket and a pillowfor you." Her legs barely moved. Instead she stood for a moment breathing in every reminiscent ounce of him; scanning the rugged handsomeness of his face, and the muscular form of his chest and arms. Her mind was swept away to the days when he was a permanent fixture in her life. Things had been clearer, safer when he was around.

Their eyes met and he reached forward to grasp her hand. He gently pulled her to him, her body folding like silk linen as she fell into his lap, her eyes never leaving his. "Willow. You are exquisite.  Never in my life have I met someone who makes me feel the way that you do. Such beauty in your eyes." He was speaking at a whisper, almost inaudible as he breathed her in. His hands traveled around her leg andup the line of her back pulling her close to him so that his lips touched her ear. "I always wanted this for us." Giles kissed her softly, justnext to her ear and continued, "I never imagined it would happen, though. I wouldn't have left for England if I thought you felt anything for me, other than friendship." He added, "Why didn't you tell me sooner?" He pulled away and looked into her eyes, "You could have saved me a lot of sleepless nights."

Willow could not control the surge of energy she felt as he spoke softly in her ear. Why hadn't she told him? She blushed and then returned his affectionate tone, "I guess it wasn't time for us to happen, until now." Her heart soared as she sat nestled in his arms. "You always taught me that everything happened when it was meant to happen. Patience, remember?"

He smiled warmly, squeezing her tighter as he moved in for another kiss. " No more talking," he whispered, " We've waited long enough."

Part 5

Willow woke still in her clothes from the night before. She had fallen asleep in his arms, on the sofa. What an amazing way to wake, in the arms of someone so gentle and good. Careful not to wake Giles, she slipped out of his embrace and headed for the bedroom.

She closed the door behind her, quiet as a mouse, before she gathered some things and slipped into the shower. Her mind raced with all the scenarios that could play out the rest of the day, and the rest of her life. Would they end up together? Would they move to England or would Giles moves here? Maybe they would move someplace new and start a brand new life together - a fresh start. And don't even think about babies. Not going there-not now, maybe not ever.

Her body wrapped in a warm, clean towel and her hair pulled up into a loose knot on top of her head, Willow sat at the foot of her bed obsessing. Her soul afraid Giles would leave and break her heart, her head afraid he would stay and break her heart. Ah, the rigors of uncertainty and paranoia. Wonderful things. Relationships had been anything but easy for Willow. Confusing at best.

The forces inside her struggled to find the right path, her minds eye trying so desperately to see their tomorrow. After half an hourof playing the 'what-if' game with herself, Willow finally dressed and decided to wake Giles and make him breakfast. I shall wake him with a kiss, she thought to herself in her best fairy-tale inner voice.

She entered the living room and found the sofa empty, the blanket neatly folded on the spot where they had slept. It was a somber moment forher, she had expected this to be the start of something good. He washer soul mate, right? Something must have scared him off. I bet it was me and my big mouth. I should never have told him about the spell.

"I'm not gone, love." His embrace strong and warm as he wrapped his arms around her from behind. "And I know what you're thinking - you thought I left because of the magick, didn't you?"

Willow turned in his arms, her body smooth against his as she moved, "Ok, you're reading my mind and still, somehow, I'm the scary one?" Her eyes looked into his and all questions were answered. She saw their future together. A long life, a proper life. Fraught with peril, but whose life isn't without a little bad luck to balanceout the good. His eyes promised eternal love. A soul that matched hers, demon for demon, a closet with more skeletons than a personshould accumulate. That's how she knew they belonged together. His past, his path, had been laden with tremendous guilt, as was hers. But here they were, together at last. Right where they belonged.

"No, you're not the scaryone," he said, "I told you last night..." His browfurrowed and his eyes looked up as he searched his memory, "At least I think I told you last night... that I know magick didn't lead me to you. The only question is...where do we go from here?"

"Not sure," she said, her body completely atease in his arms. "But I'm looking forward to finding out...together."

He smiled and placed a tender kiss on her lips.

Next: A New Life

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