Title: Almost Human
Part 1 of the ABC series

Author: Frau Hunter Ash 
Copyright © 2002 by Hunter Ash. All Rights Reserved.
hunterash@sti.net Feedback welcome!!
Homepage Addy : www.hunterash.com
Disclaimers: The characters and show all belong to Joss Whedon , Fox, Mutant Enemy, Kuzui , and God only knows who else. The storyline, however, is the sole property of the author. This story cannot be sold or used for profit in any way. Copies of this story may be made for private use only and must include all disclaimers and copyright notices.

Terrence Trent D'Arby's “Sign Your Name” used without permission but no harm or foul intended.

F/F romance : the story assumes a loving and sexual relationship between people of the same gender, different genders, and may even include 3 at the same time <G>. If this offends or is illegal for you, then please leave. Come back when you are older, have an open mind, moved, or changed your laws.
Spoilers: Sometime after Wrecked
Willow Rosenberg disappeared shortly after Wrecked. Two years later Giles sees a redhead in a London pub who looks very much like his beloved Willow, especially after several drinks. Willow has returned but a lot has changed, especially the young witch and well kept desires surface.
Rating: Strong R to NC-17 for sex.
Author's Note: First bit of writing straight sex. Be kind.

* * *

Sign Your Name
By Terrence Trent D'Arby

Fortunately you have that someone who relies on you
We started out as friends but the thought of you just caves me in
The symptoms are much too deep, it is much too late to turn away
We started out as friends

Sign your name across my heart, I want you to be my baby
Sign your name across my heart, I want you to be my lady


Giles frowned as he glanced around the pub. Familiar red hair caught his attention. It always did, no matter where he was or even what country he was in, he'd stop in his tracks for a red-head. A certain range of red , he mentally corrected, Willow Red .

It had been two years since his errant witch had run away from the Scooby Gang and Sunnydale. Two long years with hints and deadends but no explanation other than a short note apologizing for the disaster of playing with demons and breaking Dawn's arm.

Giles hadn't been surprised to find out that when Buffy ran away that she was making money under the table and living in a dingy one-room apartment that didn't even look at the tenants as long as they had money for the rent.

Willow 's disappearance was different , he contemplated as the red-head kept her back to him. The computer geek witch shouldn't have been able to disappear as quickly and efficiently as she had. She had surprised them all.

Not that he had been there at the time; he again mentally corrected his memories. He had left Sunnydale and the Gang again. He left them just when everything and everyone was falling apart, including himself.

The former Watcher kept up the pretense that he was doing it so Buffy could stand on her own but, staring at the bottom of his third whiskey glass; he could admit to himself that he had run. Rupert Giles, staunch and stuffy Englishman, had run because he didn't know how to help his Slayer.

Buffy had changed when she returned from being dead for several months. She had lost the spark that she needed as the Slayer and nothing seemed to reach her. He and the others had tried to ignore it, hoping she would snap out of it. Dying for several months had to be tragic and traumatizing, he pointed out to them and himself. They had to expect that things would be awkward.

But things hadn't gotten better; Tara was stressing over Willow 's casual use of magic, Buffy was silent and withdrawn, Dawn was stealing things left and right and no one was saying anything about any of it. Xander and Anya were having spats over announcing their engagement and Giles had been lost, unable to help any of them.

Giles fled, returning to England .

He had heard about Willow 's crash and Dawn's injuries but hadn't talked with the witch and then she disappeared two days later. Giles stayed in England and let the Scooby Gang and Angel's LA group search for their missing witch.

Giles had gotten really concerned after two months and there were still no traces of Willow . Everyone had done everything they could think of but she had totally disappeared. No credit card use, no checks, no registration at any school across the country, and no word personally from her.

It was about the same time that the Council contacted him. No , he scolded himself, let's have honesty after three whiskeys ; it was then that the Watcher Council pounced on him. They had grabbed him, thrown him in an auto and rushed him to the Council.

Giles had been “invited” to return to the Watchers as a trainer and researcher. The alternative was simple. They felt Giles knew too much about the Council, had a dangerous past as a sorcerer and was a liability. Either he join the Council again and become an asset or be eliminated.

Having such wonderful options, Giles choose to join the Watchers again. That had tied him up and left him unable to return to America to help search for Willow .

“Two years?” he muttered to himself. ‘ God, it feels like forever ,' he thought to himself and ordered another drink. Giles had the weekend off, it was Friday night and he wanted to unwind. ‘ No ,' he corrected again, ‘ I don't want to relax. I want to get drunk .'

It was two years since he left America and his Slayer, two years since they had seen Willow; Dawn was now 17, Buffy was married to Riley and they ran a dojo, teaching self defense, Xander and Anya were married and had a small son, and Tara finally stopped searching for Willow and joined Angel's LA group when the Scooby Gang went into semi-retirement.

Two years since he had seen Willow .

Giles left Sunnydale to escape the downward spiral of his Slayer but also to get away from his feelings for the lesbian witch. ‘ Well, bisexual at least ,' he thought. “Not that Willow 'd ever look at you, mate,” he muttered.

“I don't know about that,” a female voice said, a shadow falling over him.

Giles blinked, trying to decide if he was as drunk as he suddenly thought he was. He had to be. There was no way that Willow was standing in front of him. Willow was gone; two years had made it clear she had left Sunnydale and everyone behind, including him.

Giles blinked again.

“Not real,” he muttered. “You know you look incredibly like someone I knew a long time ago.”

The red-head in front of him wasn't Willow . At least, it couldn't be his Willow . This red haired woman was older than his shy witch and she didn't appear shy either. She was dressed in a tight leather skirt that left her gender unquestionable and a green silk blouse that showed off her green eyes magnificently. The hair wasn't like Willow 's either, this was long and so thick Giles almost moaned at the thought of running his fingers through it. The woman also wore a single braid down the left side of her temple.

The smile looked familiar though, so did the eyes. ' When did Willow wear makeup done so well a professional would be envious?'

“Giles, I'm real and I'm Willow ,” the red-head said slowly, sitting down opposite him .

“Nope, can't be,” his fuzzy drunken mind protested. “My Willow disappeared, left Sunnydale. That's in California , you know, the United States of America . Not a bad little town, just has a few demon problems.”

“You know, I could have sworn that babbling was my talent,” Willow smiled and touched his hand gently.

Giles frowned, looking at the hand as if it might disappear at any moment.

“ Willow left everyone behind, no word to anyone, most cruel,” Giles continued. “Searched forever, her friends did. Took Tara forever to get over Willow , I'm told.”

“You never did,” Willow said softly.

“No, you see, you have me at a moment of weakness,” Giles declared, downing his drink. He noticed abstractedly that the woman was drinking what looked like a Black Russian. His Willow didn't drink. Of course, he didn't have a Willow anymore, never really did. “I'm missing what might have been, actually what never could have been. She was much younger and definitely not interested in this stuffy old librarian.”

“Couldn't she see the fire inside you?” the woman asked gently as he took off his glasses and began cleaning them with his shirt.

“No, couldn't let them see,” Giles muttered. “I'm a Watcher, you see, we watch from afar and behind, not out front.”

“You've spent too many years among books and shadows,” the red-head said firmly.

“How do you know I live among books?” Giles asked with a frown.

“You said stuffy old librarian,” she pointed out. “One, you're not old. You're younger than my father; two: you are not stuffy. You just had a role to fill and it became your life.”

“How do you know how old I am?” he muttered, trying to focus and get his glasses back on.

“Giles, this is has been amusing but it's time to focus,” Willow said firmly. “I don't want to spend the rest of the evening in this pub watching you get drunk.”

“Well, since you're not my Willow , I'm open to suggestions on how to spend the evening,” he smirked.

“Giles, the impish side of me would jump on that chance in a heartbeat if I didn't think it would harm any chance at a friendship and relationship we might have in the morning,” Willow said softly. “For now, focus, damnit ! Take me to your place, I'll make tea, put you to bed and we'll talk in the morning.”

“ Willow ?” Giles blinked several times.

“Let's grab a taxi, shall we?” she suggested, gently taking his arm and pulling the slightly drunken man to his feet and holding him steady. She caught his elbows as he stumbled against her and felt his breath catch at her closeness.

“God, please don't be a dream,” he whispered.

“I'm not, I might actually be your worst nightmare,” Willow mumbled and pulled him through the crowded pub towards the door.

* * *

Giles moaned and grabbed at his head as the neighbor upstairs began his daily ritual of getting ready for his work on the docks. This consisted of picking up and dropping his heavy work boots before stomping across the floor numerous times.

“Damn you, Malcom !” he shouted and regretted it instantly.

Giles gave up trying to sleep and threw his legs over the side of his bed, sitting up slowly, still holding his head. The Watcher frowned, he was still in his undershirt and he normally didn't sleep in anything but his boxers. He also normally took off his watch.

The Watcher slowly tried to get his mind working to remember the night before. Giles frowned as images of a red-head came back to him. He glanced at his bed and noticed the other side hadn't been slept in.

“I need tea,” he muttered to himself and stood up slowly. His head was letting him know why he shouldn't drink to excess. Giles always paid for it the next morning except during his Ripper days when it was easily solved with a quick shot in the morning.

“Morning,” a voice greeted him when he walked out of his small bedroom into the living room.

Giles looked like a deer caught in the headlights of a car as he blinked in disbelief.

Willow was sitting in his easy chair reading one of his more obscure magical ritual books. She placed the book aside and watched him closely.

“ Willow ?” he whispered slowly, running a hand through his boyish and unruly hair. He hadn't grabbed his glasses and his mind was fuzzy but Giles didn't think he had reached hallucination stage from one night of drinking.

Willow stood up slowly, as if afraid to startle him. Some part of his mind noticing she was wearing the same clothes as the red-head from the night before.

“Willow?” he repeated as she moved a little closer.

“It's me, Giles,” Willow said calmly and was now standing in front of him. “I'm real, I'm here.”

“How?” he asked and then glanced down at his boxer shorts and began blushing. “Be right back,” he muttered.

Willow smiled and followed him into his bedroom. Giles grabbed his robe and quickly pulled it on and turned to face his wayward witch.

“I made tea, would you like some?” Willow asked as he belted his robe closed.

“Yes, please,” Giles muttered, following her into the living room, watching as she moved through his kitchen area with ease. She looked at him with a questioning face, holding up a cup.

“One sugar and cream, please,” he answered.

She sat down at the kitchen table across from the confused Englishman, handing him his cup of tea.

“Like to explain where you've been for two years and how you got here?” Giles demanded after a couple of sips.

“I'm not sure how to tell you,” Willow said slowly and thoughtfully. “I thought I could but I'm scared.”

“Of what? Rejection? You disappeared with no word for two years,” Giles said bitterly. “I'm a little upset with you, yes.”

“You ran,” Willow countered.

“I kept in touch and didn't scare my friends to death,” Giles pointed out.

“I didn't have a choice in that, Giles,” Willow said and the Watcher noticed her calm exterior slipping a little and she looked tired and much too pale. “My life and soul depended on no one knowing where I was or what I was doing.”

“But you can come back and explain now?” Giles asked.

“Yes, that was my demand in the bargain, that I could reach out after my training,” Willow said.

“Start at the beginning, please,” Giles asked.

“I'm sure the gang told you about my collapse, right?” she asked and he nodded. “I totally lost it, Giles.”

“Where did you run to?” he asked, trying not to sound hurt or angry, he didn't want her shutting down now.

“I didn't,” Willow's voice became bitter. “I stumbled out one night; I was totally out of my head.”

“Go on,” Giles urged. “You were detoxifying from the magic.”

“Yes,” Willow nodded and her eyes clouded in memory and Giles noticed her hands began shaking. “I…I could barely stand.”

She was beginning to look like the Willow he knew, shy and hesitant. He waited patiently. Giles found his anger fading as he sensed something very serious had happened to the young woman he had been in love with for years.

Willow frowned and angrily wiped at her eyes.

“No one knew I had gone out,” Willow finally continued. “Buffy was with Spike, Dawn was with Tara, and Xander was with Anya. I don't know where I ended up and I didn't know what I was doing until I was tackled.”

Giles whimpered softly. Being tackled to the ground in Sunnydale usually didn't end up well unless Buffy was around to save someone's life.

Willow nodded, seeing his expression.

“There were two of them, vampires,” she continued, her voice lower as she dropped her eyes and played with her spoon. “I never had a chance. One sank his fangs in my neck and his girlfriend got my wrist.”

“Willow?” Giles' voice was a whimper.

“It didn't take long and everything went gray,” Willow continued.


“The demon inhabiting my body became aware drinking from the female, part of me was still there but it was like I was watching something distant,” Willow began again. “Someone grabbed me and threw me in a cage in the back of a van. The vampire I had become kept screaming in rage and hunger. I saw two men staking the female. I don't remember a lot after that for several days and nights.”

“But, you're here,” Giles protested.

“It was the Council, Giles,” Willow explained. “I came back to myself several nights later. They used one of their witches to restore my soul. I found out they had been planning on kidnapping me when the vampires attacked me. They staked the male vampire and forced the female vampire to turn me when they realized I couldn't be saved.”

“You're a vampire?” Giles squeaked.

“With a soul and no ‘happy equals evil' clause,” Willow quipped.

She held out her wrist to him and he cautiously touched it and frowned at the coldness and lack of pulse.

“Why did the Council want you?” he finally asked.

“They offered me basically the same deal they did you,” Willow smiled a rueful smile. “Train with them, learn to control my magic and become a tool or they would kill me.”

“Oh God, Willow,” Giles knew what that choice was like.

“Yeah,” she nodded. “They broke in and stole all my things and left a note that I was leaving. I was kept locked away for six months before they even let me out of a room with a guard.”

“What happened?” Giles asked.

“I learned, I didn't have a choice,” Willow said bitterly. “If I wanted blood I had to learn my magical lessons.”

“But now you're free?”

“Are you?” she countered and then her face softened. “No, I'm a Watcher, a witch and a vampire, Giles.”

“A Watcher?” he asked.

“Yes, I've been in Scotland training all this time and now I'm officially the most unusual Watcher ever known to the Council,” Willow smirked. “I know the Council secrets, Giles, including how they threatened you and about the other Slayers.”

“Oh God,” he muttered.

Both of them were quiet for a while, slowly sipping their tea.

“You know there's more than one Slayer, then,” he finally said.

“ Yes, and how the Council keeps it from the Slayers so they'll willingly face death,” Willow nodded.

“What do they have planned for you?” Giles asked, wondering why the Council had even let Willow reveal herself to him.

“Depends a bit on you, actually,” Willow smiled and Giles felt his heart skip a beat, seeing a bit of his old Willow .

“What do you mean?”

“I've been given a choice of assignments, return to Sunnydale as Buffy's Watcher or to Ireland as the Watcher of another young Slayer,” Willow said slowly.

“I'm not sure Buffy would accept you as her Watcher,” Giles said after a moment. “They were frantic when you disappeared and she doesn't work well with Watchers.”

“That wasn't my fault, if you can understand, they might,” Willow countered. “And unlike previous Watchers, I would treat Buffy like an adult.”

“How do I fit into this?” Giles asked.

“Depends on one thing,” Willow said evasively.

“What would that be? That I go back to Sunnydale as your mentor?” Giles asked, frowning deeply.

“No, as my mate,” Willow said softly, her eyes wide and fearful.

Giles almost dropped his now empty cup of tea in surprise.

“I…uh…what?” he stammered.

“I know you were in love with me before and you were grieving for me last night,” Willow said, trying to appear calm.

Giles frowned. “ Willow , it's been two years,” he protested, unsure what he was protesting about or against.

“And I've been locked away most of those years, I had a lot of time to think about my life and my future,” Willow countered. “There was always this wall between us.”

“One thing, you were a minor!” Giles reminded her.

“And you were like a father for a while,” Willow admitted.

“And that changed?” he asked softly.

“Well,” Willow smiled, holding out her hand and sighed with relief when he held it warmly. “I thought about approaching you when Oz left but it didn't feel right. You were thinking of leaving and I was dealing with a lot of confusing emotions.”

“And then you met Tara ,” Giles added.

“Yes and she opened new worlds for me and I got lost in that. Don't get me wrong,” Willow said. “I loved Tara , very much but something was missing and the magic crash was an excuse for both of us.”

Giles frowned, wishing Willow 's hand was warm. He had always imagined her body as warm and fiery, with hidden strength and fury.

“You're telling me what?” Giles demanded.

“Giles, I have loved you forever,” Willow said bluntly. “At first it was a crush, then a friendship and then some serious lust.”

“Oh my,” Giles muttered. “Willow…”

“Do you still want me?” she asked, just as bluntly as before.

Giles pulled his hand back and ran it through his hair. After a moment he stood up and began pacing.

“ Willow , I'm still older than you and always will be,” he protested. “Especially now! You're a vampire, you'll never age. I'll soon look like your grandfather.”

“And if you're willing and ready, you'll live forever,” Willow countered.

“A vampire with a cane,” he muttered.

“Ever see an old vampire?” Willow grinned.

Giles blinked and poured himself another cup of tea.

“It reverses the aging process?” he asked softly.

“Yes,” Willow smiled.

“The Council would never agree to you turning me,” Giles frowned and Willow mentally cheered, at least he was considering it. “And it's not the best of existences, either.”

“That was my part of the bargain,” Willow repeated. “If I work for the Council for the next 50 years with little question or protests, then I choose who I want in my life and that's you.”

“Fifty years?” Giles snapped. “You're willing to give them 50 years?”

“Giles, I'm now a vampire,” Willow smiled gently. “I have 50 years to give them.”

“What do you mean ‘little question or protests'?” he demanded. “You know how they operate! Morals aren't exactly part of their vocabulary.”

“I made my boundaries very clear,” Willow countered. “I'm also a powerful and immortal witch, they fear me.”

“You chose me? Not Tara or Buffy?” Giles asked in disbelief.

“I love them both, one thing I've discovered as a vampire,” Willow said thoughtfully. “We're intense when it comes to emotions and sex. I will always love them but I want you and I've wanted you for years.”

“I might have to share you, is that it?” he smirked, looking for the absurd in the situation.

“Maybe, I don't know,” Willow admitted. “There is a difference between sex and love with vampires. I love you, Giles.”

“This is all a little overwhelming,” Giles said slowly.

“I understand,” Willow said calmly.

“You've changed, I've changed,” he complained. “Well, I don't know if I've actually changed. Maybe that'll be a problem, everyone else changed and I didn't.”

“I'm an adult now, Giles,” Willow said slowly. “I've been with men and women and I know what I want.”

Giles leaned against the sink, still trying to clear his head.

“Giles,” Willow called and he turned slowly. “I need to rest and I can't leave, can I sleep on your sofa?”

“Take my bed, I'm up for the day,” he offered.

“Thanks, I got my backpack by the door. You were pretty out of it by the time I got you into a taxi,” Willow grinned.

“You undressed me?” Giles asked with a blush.

“Yes, and I enjoyed every minute of it,” Willow smiled, getting up and reaching for a battered military backpack. “You always hid that body of yours in those suits, I knew there had to be some hard muscles under there with all the training you did with Buffy.”

“Yes, well Watchers are in superb physical shape,” Giles muttered. “We also keep low profiles.”

“Usually,” Willow countered, bending over to adjust something in the pack. Giles felt his breath quicken and turned around rapidly before his body could respond to the sight of Willow bending over in a tight leather skirt.

Willow glanced back and smiled, noticing his reaction. “I just need a few hours.”

“What about blood? I don't keep any around since Spike isn't likely to drop by around here,” Giles questioned.

“I'm alright until tomorrow morning,” Willow answered truthfully.

“How do you feed?”

“Underground bars, butcher shops, occasional one night stands, I never take enough to harm,” the red-head answered. “Good thing the British love blood pudding, butchers don't look twice when you ask for blood.”

Giles shook his head as Willow headed for his bedroom.

“Oh God,” the thought of Willow in his bed woke his body up faster than a cold shower. Maybe a cold shower was in order.

* * *

Willow quickly stepped out of the boots and skirt, next the blouse landed on the discarded clothing to be replaced by a pair of gym shorts and a baggy t-shirt. The witch welcomed the scent of Giles as she climbed into his bed and smiled.

Willow knew she had hit him with a lot of shocks in a very short time and he was still very hung over. She also knew he would need time to adjust, the problem was that she didn't have time. The Council was unhappy with her decision and demanded answers. They had expected her to request to be reunited with Tara or to choose Buffy but they had never anticipated that she would choose Giles: another Watcher and a rebel.

Willow also didn't want to leave him alone for too long with the decision. It was going to be very unfair and rushed, the witch knew, but she had to force Giles to decide quickly if he wanted to be with her. She knew if he didn't choose to be with her, she needed to disappear into her new assignment and not approach Giles for a very long time or the Council might decide one or both of them were a liability.

The vampire needed blood soon and she didn't want to leave Giles to go and find some. Willow didn't dare ask to feed from him, the Watcher was already in shock over her undead state.

Willow: vampire, Watcher and witch, fell into an undead sleep.

* * *

Giles crept back into his bedroom after an hour and found Willow sound asleep. He wasn't surprised, if she truly was a vampire like Angel, she would probably sleep the day away if he didn't rouse her. He was surprised to find her breathing softly and quickly checked her wrist and frowned when he didn't find a pulse.

The Watcher grabbed his glasses from the nightstand and sat down in a chair and examined his Willow visually with a critical eye.

She was much too pale under the makeup and very thin, he decided. The full lips, the…

Oh God, he still had it bad for her.

The Watcher decided he needed some time, some space and some sobriety. He took a quick shower, relieved that the noise didn't cause Willow to even stir, and left the apartment to wander the neighborhood. With his hands deep in his pockets, he roamed the streets with no real destination in mind.

He finally settled in a small local pub for a half pint and deep thinking.

The Watcher, a fighter of evil and especially vampires, was being offered eternal life as a vampire by the young woman he had been in love with for years.

His Willow was now a vampire and a Watcher like himself. They were almost more a prisoner of their fates than Buffy. She had broken away successfully from the Council, he and Willow were still its slaves. He had no illusions that he served the Council out of love or respect and he doubted the Council had any doubts of his motives. He served to live because he was too cowardly to end his own life. Giles didn't have a life outside of Sunnydale and it had moved beyond him, just as Buffy had.

Now Willow was offering some ray of light in his dismal existence. He laughed softly to himself. Light from a vampire? Life sure had a way of throwing monkey wrenches into the machinery.

He could have Willow and she said she wanted him. Giles still couldn't believe that part of it.

He had fought against the idea of every having Willow in his arms years before, long before she had disappeared. She was one of his students at first and then a comrade later with a boyfriend and then a girlfriend. Mates that were her same age.

The Englishman frowned. Willow was an adult and had been through some horrific things, especially becoming a vampire with a soul. He had to admit she was an adult.

She was a grown and beautiful woman who was currently in his bed.

Giles ordered another half pint and sat frowning, not really thinking for another hour as everything tried to absorb into his brain.

Unknown to the Watcher, he was being watched.

* * *

Willow felt someone shaking her gently and resisted coming out of her deep sleep with her hand around someone's throat. Her trainers had long ago learned not to startle the young vampire and witch out of a sleep. It could be deadly, either with magic or fangs.

The energy was familiar and the scent was comforting.

“Willow?” Giles called softly, keeping slightly back from the bed. He remembered how Spike could be when awakened.

Willow snapped her eyes open, one hand drew back in a fist instinctively and Giles danced back several feet out of reach.

“Easy!” he said gently.

Willow blinked and tried to calm her breathing as she sat up in the bed. After a moment she lowered her fists and tried to smile.

“Sorry, deep sleeper,” she muttered.

“I understand,” Giles nodded and sat a large tankard on the nightstand.

Willow felt her fangs trying to extend at the scent of blood. She raised her eyebrows in question and Giles shrugged.

“Butcher shop,” he answered and turned back towards the living room.

“Giles,” Willow's voice stopped him and he turned back. “This is what I am now, you need to know that. All of it.”

Giles felt his jaw tightening and tears filling his eyes.

“I'd rather not,” he said softly.

“Yes,” she said firmly. “This is part of your choices. You and I can live together until you die of old age and I let you go, we live together for years until you're ready and I turn you, or I walk away tonight.”

“Tonight?” Giles shouted. “You can't expect me to make a decision like this in one day!” he protested.

“The Council didn't give either of us that much time, did they?” Willow countered. “I don't have time either, Giles. They think I'm a loose canon and aren't sure if they want to use me or melt me down for scrap.”

“God, I bloody well hate this,” he muttered, sitting down in the chair. He was frowning as Willow lifted the mug to her lips and tried not to whimper when she shifted into game face. It was almost too surreal, seeing Willow with vampire ridges and yellow eyes. “Like your double from the other world,” he muttered.

“Yes,” Willow agreed as she sipped the blood. He had remembered to warm it in the microwave. “Only I'm not focused on killing. The sexuality thing, we do have that in common.”

Giles shifted in his chair, uncomfortable at being reminded of Willow and sex.

She finished off the blood and reverted back into her human features and Giles relaxed a little.

“Giles, even if you won't come with me, can I have the night?” Willow asked softly.

Giles felt his breathing quicken and his pulse begin pounding. “Willow,” he stammered, wondering what to do with his hands and resorted to his typical cleaning of his glasses. “If I make love to you tonight, I won't let you go in the morning.”

Willow smirked at the Englishman.

“Well, I was kinda hoping that'd be the case but I'm not going to jump your body and have you making decisions in the heat of the moment,” she declared. “I'm going to take a shower while you make tea and do some more thinking.”

Giles frowned as she threw the covers back and he got a look at her long legs and body he had been dreaming about for years.

“No,” he said firmly, stopping the vampire in surprise. “I've done enough thinking for the day. I did a lot of thinking today and I'm not sure I like some of the answers I came up with. Go take your shower and I'll make the tea. We'll talk.”

“Okay,” Willow said softly. The determined look on Giles' face worried her. She was accustomed to a confused Giles, not “resolve face” Giles. He usually only looked that serious when facing a battle.

Fearing her emotions over-running her common sense, Willow grabbed her backpack and dashed into the bathroom without letting Giles see the tears that were threatening to fill and overflow her eyes. Giles wanting a serious discussion over tea could only mean he was going to send her on her way.

Willow quickly turned on the water, hoping the sound of it would drown out the sound of her gentle sobs.

Without Giles, Willow wasn't sure she had the strength to go on with her strange existence. She knew she couldn't face Buffy and the others without someone standing with her.

She fumbled with her t-shirt as tears blinded her.

* * *

Giles continued frowning as he stood outside the bathroom door, listening to Willow crying. He hated himself for having caused it but it did answer some of his nagging doubts. This Willow might be a vampire but she did have feelings and, apparently, truly a soul.

The Englishman turned and left the bedroom with a worried look on his face.

* * *

Willow had finally managed to stop crying and looked much better after having fed and showered. She had reapplied her makeup, not as heavily as before for a night of pub hopping in search of Giles, but just as adeptly.

She was dressed in a simple man's white shirt with open vest and black slacks over her boots. With her red hair falling around her shoulders like a mane, Giles felt his heart give a lurch as he poured tea for both of them.

“So, shall I call for a taxi, then?” Willow asked softly, not meeting Giles' eyes.

“What would you do if I said ‘yes'?” he asked.

“Call a cab, wait downstairs and leave,” Willow said simply.

“You wouldn't argue or fight?” he asked, his voice soft and gentle.

“No, I wouldn't,” she said, almost in a whisper. “I'm not going to talk you into something as serious as this.”

“You wouldn't come back either, would you?” Giles stated the obvious.

“No, I couldn't,” Willow nodded. “I'd ask that you not tell the gang that you saw me or know what happened to me. Let them go on thinking I ran away or died.”

“They deserve the truth, that you didn't run away from them, ” Giles protested with a frown.

“No, but I died,” Willow countered. “I'll move on and try to rebuild my life with a new Slayer in a new country. Hell, I'm even good at picking up accents; I'll fit right in among the Irish with this hair and green eyes.”

“You do have a bit of a Scottish brogue now,” he commented.

“Aye, my trainers were Scots,” she said, slipping into a semi-thick Scots' accent.

“I took a good long look at my life today, Willow,” Giles said, turning the conversation serious again after a moment. “I didn't like what I found. Just like I didn't like what I found when I did the same thing in Sunnydale. I was in love with a woman I couldn't have, my Slayer didn't need me anymore and I felt out of place.”

“And now?” Willow asked softly.

“I don't even know why I'm alive,” he admitted. “I've been offered other Slayers but it didn't feel right. Some of the Council tell me it's natural; Watchers always out-live their Slayers but can mourn and move on. I'm the first Watcher that out-lived his usefulness for his Slayer because Buffy is the oldest living Slayer in history. I'm decent at the research but others are better. The Council keeps me around because they don't know what to do with me and feel too guilty to kill me.”

“What do you want, Giles?”

“I want a life!” he suddenly snapped. “I'm magically trained, I'm excellent at research and I'm a Watcher but I haven't excelled at any of it.”

“Yes you did,” Willow protested. “Buffy is the oldest living Slayer in history. You were more than important in that. You could have followed the Council's orders and kept us from Buffy; you could have followed Council's orders and left Buffy on her birthday; you could have insisted Buffy follow orders and tried to break her of that independent streak of hers. It all would have added up to the same thing, Buffy would be dead and so would the entire Scooby Gang.”

“I know you're right,” he nodded. “But that time is past. I'm a relic and you want me?”

“Yes, I do,” Willow said firmly, her eyes blazing with intensity. “More than ever! I don't have a life either, you know. I'm a powerful witch, a vampire and a former Scooby Gang member and feel like I have nothing in my life. I have no friends and my future is decided by a group of stuffy Englishmen!”

“I resemble that remark!” Giles smirked.

“Yep,” Willow grinned. “I don't know why they want me to return to Sunnydale after keeping me hidden for so long. I think they want to use me to shock Buffy into returning to the Council, retiring as a Slayer and training future Slayers, under their conditions.”

“Always planning and always needing to be in control,” Giles nodded. It sounded like the Council. “It bruises their egos that Buffy went solo and has done well without them. Buffy won't though; she's already semi-retired and has Riley.”

Willow's face grew serious. “I can't prove anything but I think the Council has plans to eliminate Riley. They want Buffy under ‘protective custody' where they can control her contact with other Slayers.”

“No,” Giles muttered. “You want to go against the Council and save the gang and you want me for that.”

“No,” Willow shook her head. “I can warn Buffy of the Council's plans without her knowing it's me. I want you because I want you. I love you Rupert Giles and I want you so bad that it sends a heat through my body I haven't felt since I was alive.”

Giles felt his pulse quicken again at Willow's words and tried to fight his body's reactions back down.

“If I say ‘yes'?” he asked softly.

“I will be the happiest vampire ever in existence,” Willow teased. “I hope you'd take me to bed and love me through the night and most of tomorrow. Then we'd decide if we merely warn Buffy and go to Ireland under Council eyes or we go to Sunnydale and try and save the universe again and take on the Council.”

The thought of Willow under his body made Giles suddenly warm as he tried to think rationally.

“If we take on the Council, we'll have everyone against us,” he pointed out. “Watchers, Slayers, vampires and demons, and possibly the law if the Council sets us up.”

“I know and it might not be a long life,” Willow nodded. “Despite adverts of how long vampires live.”

Giles frowned, staring into his cup of tea as he pondered his future and his desires.

Finally he looked up. “I love you, Willow Rosenberg. I have no life here and I couldn't bear losing you again.”

Willow sighed with relief and Giles reached out for her hand.

“I've been meaning to ask something,” he muttered as tears of relief flowed over her cheeks. “You breathe?”

“A small spell,” she smiled, her body relaxing. “It made my trainers uncomfortable that they could never tell if I was ‘alive' or not when they would find me sleeping. I did a spell that reminds my body to breathe like a human.”

“Willow,” Giles' voice was suddenly strained and the young vampire woman was out of her chair and bending over him in a flash, capturing his lips with hers. Giles reached up, running his fingers through her hair with one hand, the other arm wrapping around her waist and pulling her closer.

Both Watchers moaned with the intensity of the kiss and sudden touching of bodies.

Willow broke the kiss first and leaned her head on top of Giles', his lips nuzzling her neck.

“Giles,” she gasped. “There's something…”

“What, luv ?” he asked softly, lightly nibbling her neck as his arms held her close.

“Oh Goddess, that feels…don't stop please!” Willow whimpered but suddenly pushed herself out of his arms.

Both appeared stunned.

“ Gotta stop for a moment!” Willow muttered. “Giles, I'm a vampire now…”

“I know that and I accept that and I'll cross whenever you want me on that side of the sun,” Giles said easily.

“Until then, there are some things you have to know!” Willow snapped, holding up her hand to stop the Englishman before he could get out of his chair.

“Okay, talk and make it fast!” Giles growled, a bit of Ripper coming to the surface.

“Good,” Willow nodded approvingly. “Vampires are intense! Emotionally, physically, and sexually. It gets really rough on humans on all levels.”

“That's why Spike and Angelus could put up with Druscilla's insanity all those years,” Giles pondered.

“Yes, exactly,” Willow nodded. “And why vampires are so vicious, violent and bloody. Everything is intense: the blood, the sex, the fear, the feelings, everything.”

“Well, I may be British but I'm not fragile when it comes to sex,” Giles smirked, pleased when Willow blushed. Giles stood up and approached the now skittish vampire slowly. “You like it rough, Willow?” he whispered and saw her breathing quicken.

Willow's eyes widened in surprise as another blush spread across her face and body of the recently fed vampire. She wasn't sure she wanted to admit to Giles that she occasionally liked it rough before she was a vampire. Once turned, it was almost impossible to find a human partner that could please her and the Council more than frowned on her dating a soulless vampire when they were the enemy.

“You want to scream as my fingers enter into you and my tongue dances across that beautiful spot that will send you flying?” Giles asked softly, his accent thicker and voice more dangerous.

Willow suddenly knew she was dealing with Ripper and Giles in the same body.

“Yes,” she whispered, feeling her body responding in ways it hadn't since she was human.

“How do you want it, luv ?” he asked, his eyes darkening with desire as he pulled her into his arms. “Slow and loving the first time? Where I make it last forever? Or fast, hard and rough and then slow and loving?”

“Oh Goddess,” Willow whimpered as she fell into his arms. “Fast, please!” she begged. “I've wanted you for so long!”

Giles growled and grabbed the front of Willow's shirt and pulled, ripping the buttons away as he went to his knees, raking his teeth from her neck and over her nipples. Willow cried out as his arms held her tight against him and then moved up to undo her bra. A quick jerk and the straps snapped and his teeth were teasing first one nipple and then the other as her hands ran through his hair, encouraging him.

“Giles!” she whimpered and his hands moved down to the back of her boots. She understood and jerked her foot out of one boot and then the other, using his shoulders to lean on for balance. Before she knew what was happening, the Englishman had her trousers undone and down around her ankles.

Giles moved back up to Willow's lips as she stepped out of her pants and ripped his shirt open. He whimpered at the feel of her breasts against his chest and cupped her lovely ass cheeks with his hands.

Willow growled as she kissed him deeply, feeling his arousal against her body. Her hand moved between them and fumbled at his zipper and inside his clothing. She gasped as she felt his hardened manhood for the first time.

“Yes!” she hissed as she freed him and positioned him inbetween her legs. “Giles!”

Giles moaned and his knees almost buckled as she slid down onto him without warning, her body already heightened with desire and ready for him. She held onto his shoulders and lowered herself onto him slowly, teasing both of them until he growled and swept the table clear with an arm.

Willow held tightly as he lowered her to the table, her eyes bright with desire.

“Now!” she demanded, challengingly and Ripper growled in answer and thrust deeply into her, relishing the cry of passion and the look on Willow's face as she snapped her head back and grabbed at the edges of the table above her head. She cried out again as he pulled almost completely out of her body and bit her lip when he thrust hard, almost brutally. She raised her hips and pushed back, meeting his thrusts as he cried out himself.

The Englishman fell across her body, his teeth grabbing a nipple as a hand raked across his back.

“Giles! Harder! Oh Goddess!” Willow cried out, wrapping her legs around his waist, her nails drawing blood down his back.

He could feel her tighten around him and felt his own body approaching an edge.

“Ah! Willow !” he muttered.

“Yes!” she screamed as both hands grabbed at the table, both bodies shaking with release that left both of them with quivering muscles and no energy for several minutes.

Giles raised up slightly, brushing red hair off Willow 's face as she wrapped her arms around him.

“I haven't felt like this in years,” he said softly.

“Me either, I never thought it could be so right with a male,” she muttered, her eyes heavy with love.

“It's not the gender, luv ,” Giles said with a smile as he pulled back from her body and lifted her into his arms. “It's the love between the people. I have no doubt that the sex between you and Tara was sweet and gentle as well as wild and abandoned at times, yes?”

“Yes,” she nodded in his arms. “She was so gentle most of the time but there was a passion under the shy exterior that could have made Faith blush. I hope she found someone special, Giles.”

“I know and I'm not jealous of the love you had for the others or will have,” he said gently. “As long as you come back to me.”

“Forever now,” Willow promised.

“I want the next time to be slow and wonderful for you,” he said as he carried her to the bedroom.

“We've got all night and tomorrow,” Willow smiled. “You won't believe the stamina of a vampire,” she promised.

“Oh God,” Giles muttered and Ripper grinned.

* * *

Giles felt like he had been hit by a lorry as he climbed into the shower the next afternoon. Willow had finally fallen asleep sometime mid morning, leaving Giles with his thoughts and exhaustion. Being too tired and keyed up to sleep, the Watcher opted for a shower and deep thoughts.

The young woman had been right, he reflected. Vampires had amazing stamina! “Good thing I remember a few magic spells of my own, spells that kept me very popular with the ladies,” Ripper grinned to himself.

Now came the time for more decisions. Either return to the States and Sunnydale or move onto Ireland with a new Slayer. Ireland would mean leaving Buffy and their friends totally behind in the past. Willow would probably never see them again and Giles knew realistically that he'd have little contact with them after awhile.

Was he ready to let go of Buffy, Xander and Anya or even the LA gang? Could he just warn them about Council plots and walk away, trusting to their maturity and resources to be able to handle it?

If he and Willow returned to the States, what kind of reception would they receive? Would the group be as understanding of Willow 's disappearance as he was? They hadn't lived under the Council's death shadow like he and Willow had.

On the other hand, Willow was a powerful witch, if his casual computer research the day before in Council records had been any indication. She could help protect Buffy in ways no one else could and Giles knew the Council and how they thought.

Then would come the day when he would have to choose death or a life as a souled vampire like Willow and Angel. A life eternal with Willow or final peace.

Giles crawled back into his bed and finally fell asleep, one arm protectively over Willow 's ribs.



Next: Blasphemous Rumors

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