Title: Across The Crowded Room
Ficathon: The CYA Ficathon 2006
Request: Giles/Willow, R to NC17, Romance, After Chosen
Notes: Run with it, because it is a romance, trust me :D
The Watcher's Ball would have taken Willow by surprise, had she not been in turmoil inside. She felt abandoned, used, unwanted. And from anyone else she might have been able to cope with these feelings, but not from him. Not from the one she'd finally confessed her feelings to, from the one who'd been so passionate, so loving the night before.
Closing her eyes was a very bad idea: it brought back the images of the night before. It brought back Giles' strong body, the feel of his skin brushing against hers. It brought back the fury with which they'd raced to the bedroom, the bruises she was sure to have from letting her passions run away with her. Willow would bet a million dollars he had bruises too, though she couldn't tell if he regretted them or not.
Opening her eyes again brought her to the present, to the memory of waking up alone that morning in her bed. The memory of trying to call him all day, of searching her apartment for a note explaining his absence. His clothes were gone, his briefcase, his watch and shoes. Everything that could possibly link him to her was missing.
And what had he told her last night? That he wanted her, he always had, he was sorry they hadn't done this sooner.
Now he seemed sorry they'd done it, period.
She had dressed in the afternoon for the ball, wearing her long black gown and whatever jewellery she could find. She wanted him there so badly; she'd expected him to bring over his tux. All night she'd been in his arms, dreaming peacefully that they'd get dressed up together and go hand-in-hand to the ball. Dreaming that they'd dance, that the band would play the perfect song.
And now what was she to do? Just sit here and mope that he was missing, that he was so shamefaced he hadn't even bothered to turn up to the ball he'd helped organise? All the slayers were here in their fabulous gowns, some dancing with their watchers whilst others crowded round the buffet. Willow looked at them all in turn, finding herself jealous that they were all in such high spirits.
Since Sunnydale became ‘the crater', nothing seemed to have gone well for her. Her relationship with Kennedy turned out to be a non-starter, just a semi-exciting fling with the so-called magic of someone new. And Willow had travelled the world over looking for slayers, regaining her magic and missing home all the while.
It had taken her the best part of a year to notice that ‘home' was not the house she'd shared in Sunnydale, nor was it a single, welcoming place. ‘Home' had become the feeling she got when she talked to Giles on the phone; it had shocked her at first to realise how much she missed him. And throughout her travels she kept finding herself wishing she was in rainy old England with him, doing whatever he wanted her to. And that wasn't always work-related.
And Willow had started to feel unashamed of her new-found desires, deciding that the first chance she got she would return to England and see him. She'd decided to tell him, to show him what he really meant to her.
Willow Rosenberg had learned to keep her word. She'd sworn herself to telling him and fulfilled her own wish, and now she hated herself for being so damned obedient.
And perhaps she hated him too, because it had to be his fault that she felt this way.
What had she done to deserve this? Nothing!
Had anything gone wrong last night? Most definitely not!
Could Giles be a different man to the one she'd fallen for?
That, sadly, was a possibility. His fight with Buffy and the stress of the new council had definitely changed Giles over the months since the fight with the First, but Willow could never have imagined Giles was the love-‘em-and-leave-‘em type, or that he could ever become that kind of man. She'd trusted him completely, believed in him.
And looked what it got her: a lonely chair in the corner and a plate of cold cocktail weenies and cheese cubes on sticks. And a ridiculous hope that she was going to look up and see Giles across the crowded room.
And heartbreak, of course, can't forget that.
An hour passed at the ball as Willow lost herself in her thoughts, her fury rising with every passing minute. By the time the clock struck eleven, she'd decided that Giles was a user: a low-down, good-for-nothing, son-of-a-
She looked up to see Giles, incredibly dishevelled despite his dapper tux. She smiled at her with relief and planted a firm kiss on her lips.
“I'm so sorry I'm late darling,” he said, quite oblivious to her distress. “Travers called me in at four a.m. this morning, bastard that he is.” He slumped down in a chair beside her, running a hand through his greying hair. “You would not believe the day I've had, running around after his bloody demons. I don't know why he has to keep them caged for training – it's not as though there's a shortage in London. And of course my phone is dead, so I couldn't call for assistance or even to wake you up!” At that he took a good look at her. “You did get up alright, didn't you?”
Willow smiled back at him, dizzy with relief. “Fine,” she replied after a moment. “I did wonder where you were – you didn't leave a note or anything.”
“I know,” he replied guiltily. “I was in such a rush to get out this morning that it totally slipped my mind.”
A moment of silence passed between them in which Giles cocked an eyebrow at Willow.
“Are you alright?” He asked with concern. “You look a bit dazed.”
“I am,” she replied, still smiling, “but it's a good daze.”
A knowing look swept across Giles' handsome features.
“Didn't think I'd left you, did you?” He asked.
“Not for a second,” Willow replied.
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