Willow is sitting alone in her room with two photographs sitting on the bed in front of her. One of them is a picture of Buffy, Xander and her from their sophomore year of high school. This is her favorite picture of the three of them, a testament to youth, energy and optimism. She lifts the framed photo and traces the faces of her two closest friends. A part of her wishes that life could return to those days when danger came in the form of a vampire or a demon robot… and her love life consisted of an unrequited crush or two.
She sighs and sets the photo back down on the bed and picks up the other one. A soft smile lights her face as she caresses the image of Giles through the glass. 'Love is supposed to be simpler than this,' she thinks to herself. Her heart can't help skipping a beat as she remembers how she recently found out that her last, and longest, crush is not as unrequited as she had believed. She lays back, clutching Giles' photo to her chest as she allows memories of the previous day to wash over her.
The day had started off unremarkable enough. Willow had gone to classes, lunched with Xander and then headed over to Giles' to do her homework and see if he needed help with any research. She had been sitting at his desk, absorbed in writing a paper for one of her classes, when she felt the hair on the back of her neck stand on end.
A shiver ran down her spine and she could almost hear a whisper in the back of her head, in a voice that wasn't her own, but was familiar nonetheless. She didn't want to alarm Giles, figuring that it was probably just a breeze from the open window. She subtly turned her head towards him under the guise of getting more comfortable in the chair. She had expected to see Giles immersed in a large tome on his lap. What she saw instead made her breath catch in her throat. Giles was looking at her through narrow, unfocused eyes, with a blatant look of desire all over his face.
Willow quickly looked back at the computer screen, hoping that he hadn't caught her catching him. She glanced at him again and his face remained unchanged. He obviously wasn't looking at her at all, but focusing on something in his mind's eye.
She idly wondered whom he was thinking about. 'Fantasizing about is more like it,' she amended. A small part of her hoped that it was her, but she didn't believe that it could be.
She stole another glance, this time allowing her gaze to linger. He had closed his eyes and his breathing was shallow. His hands were clenched into fists on his thighs. Willow could feel her temperature rising as she watched him. She licked her suddenly dry lips and tried to turn away, but found that she couldn't move. Again, she wondered who Giles was imagining, wishing it was her.
She didn't have to wonder much longer. She slid out of her seat and made her way to the kitchen to get some water when she heard Giles rasp, "Willow." She spun around to see what he wanted, but his eyes were still closed. He was calling out to her in his fantasy – SHE was his fantasy woman.
Without allowing herself to think about it, Willow slowly crossed the room to where Giles was sitting. She leaned down and whispered in his ear, "I'm here," before gently kissing him. Giles immediately responded, pulling her down on his lap. The passion fueled kiss lasted for several blissful minutes… until Giles realized that his fantasy felt a bit too real.
Giles opened his eyes and pushed Willow away, panting out, "Willow, what are you doing?"
Slightly annoyed with his reaction, she snaps, "What does it look like?"
"You were kissing me. But why?"
"I thought you might want me to."
"Wherever would you get an idea like that?" he demanded.
"From you smarty pants. Wasn't I just staring in your little fantasy?"
"Wh-what are you talking about?" he tried to deny, but couldn't help blushing.
"The fantasy you were obviously having just now when you were staring off into space and breathing hard and calling out my name?"
"Dear Lord," he gasped. "I apologize Willow. It was an accident. I would never…"
Her face fell at his denial. "No, I'm sorry. I must have misunderstood. I thought you might have wanted me too." She tried to push herself off of his lap, but he held her in place.
"Too? You want me?"
"Well, I did kiss you," she mumbled, not meeting his eyes. "I've been wanting to kiss you for a long time, but I didn't think you wanted me to. Then when you said my name with such emotion just now…." The rest of the sentence was lost under Giles' lips.
When they finally separated for air, Giles explained, "I have longed to do that for longer than I can remember. I don't know exactly how this came to happen today. I have always been able to control my behavior around you before today. You must have lulled me into a false sense of security. It looked as if you were much more absorbed in your studies that you apparently were."
"You mean you've fantasized about me while I was here before?" she blushed, secretly pleased with the thought.
"I, uh, um – not on purpose," he sheepishly admitted. "Somehow I find it difficult not to when we are alone."
Willow ran her fingers through his hair and down his face. "I know what you mean."
They had talked and kissed and held each other for hours. They discussed their feelings, their budding new relationship, their friends, and everything and nothing long into the night. They agreed that they would take this relationship slowly, rationalizing that since it had taken them this long to even admit their attraction that they could wait a little longer for everything else.
Willow sighs and flips over to lie on her stomach. She knows that she should be ecstatic about this new direction her love life has taken. She is about to embark on this fabulous journey with a man she has loved for years.
Unfortunately it is the man she has chosen for herself that is bringing about her worries. Willow reaches for the photo of her best friends again and places it alongside Giles' photo in front of her. Will they be able to support her relationship with Giles? Will they be repulsed? Will they mock her? She giggles, Xander will whether he supports her or not. Is she destroying the group dynamic by being with the man she loves?
She knows she won't find the answers to her questions in the unresponsive photographs. Buffy will be back from class soon and she will tell her then. Maybe she should tell them together.
She picks up the phone and dials her oldest friend's number. "Xander, can you come over now? There's something I need to tell you and Buffy."
Let the storm begin…
Next: Beckoning Tides
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