'I need you Giles, I am in love with you Giles,
Laying down her pen, Willow allowed a single tear to make its way down her cheek. This was the third letter in two months that she'd written, the first in the college library, the next two here in 'her' room at the Summers' residence, each several pages long, spilling out her heart to the man she loved. The man who'd left. The tear had evaporated by the time it reached her chin and she calmly wiped up the evidence of its descent before slipping the letter to the back of her drawer with the two others. She couldn't send them; she was too proud, and... he didn't want them.
Anya smiled and looked up as the bell jangled above the entrance of The Magic Box, announcing the arrival of a new customer.
"Good morning, and... or not." The 'selling' smile fell from the ex-demon's face as a decidedly gloomy looking Willow walked towards her. She always seemed moody recently, but this expression was even worse than usual
"Xander and Buffy aren't here."
"So, why are you here? I have customers." Willow looked around "Well I could have in a minute."
"Anya, you and I- we're friends aren't we?" Anya sighed and moved to turn on the Scooby Gang kettle. She had a feeling that this was going to be a long, very human, conversation
"I should hope so- you're going to be best man."
"If I tell you something, ask for your help with something, can you keep it to yourself?" She was genuinely puzzled now,
"Of course, Willow, what is it?" And concerned, don't forget concerned. For Willow- she'd never felt that before. What could Willow want from her that she couldn't get from either Buffy or Xander? She sat opposite the redhead and handed her the white unsweetened tea she favoured above the usual sugary American coffee. Slowly the head in front of her rose to reveal a tear stained face
"Willow, what's happened, what's wrong?"
"I screwed up- I'm so stupid, but- why now?"
"For three and a half years it could have happened and been perfect, but now- why now?"
"If you don't explain, I can't-"
"I'm pregnant. Goddess help me, I'm pregnant."
*** SUMMER AFTER SEASON 2 ***
"Isn't there, like, a location spell or something I- we could do?"
"Willow please. You know I don't like you doing spells and things."
"But you refuse to tell me why."
"Things can go wrong- nasty." The pair held eye contact across the table, the intensity of wills blazing anything in the surrounding area. Over the library table, Oz and Xander exchanged a look. This was the fourth of these 'arguments' between Willow and Giles in as many days. No heated words were ever spoken, but unless someone broke the eye contact, it was as if they were in a war no one else could hear. And it gave Xander the creeps
"Guys can we focus here?" There was no reaction from either party, "No, not there, HERE!"
"Sorry Xander, did you have something to add?"
"Yes. Buffy's been gone for a month and a half now. I'm guessing she's not coming back in a hurry. Either with Angel or without. She doesn't want to. She doesn't want to be found."
"Maybe you're right, but, I just want to know."
"We all do Will, and we will, I promise."
"Giles?" Willow poked her head around the office door. The librarian looked up, startled
"Oh! Willow, come in." She stepped into the doorway but stayed out of the room itself.
"I- we're just going. The boys are out at the van. I just wanted to apologise. Again."
"Apologise? What for?"
"Earlier, y'know, bringing up the magic thing again."
"It's okay- I realise I must seem a bit... restricting at times, but I am only trying to protect you."
"I know- and I'll run anything I do past you first, I promise."
"Does that mean you'll listen to what I say?"
"Now that I didn't promise- well, I'll listen, just then make up my own mind despite your opinion." The two smiled at each other, sharing the joke... and something else that only the two of them could understand. Giles averted his eyes to a piece of paper in front of him, and Willow, following his gaze, stepped into the office
"I just got a phone call. There's a council member in a village outside New York who thinks he's seen a girl fighting demons up there."
"Giles, I was thinking about what Xander said- I think we're going to have to wait."
"I can't just leave it, what if..." Willow took the three steps to the swivel chair Giles was in and knelt before him
"What if you get up there and it was her? She'll have moved on by now for sure. Don't you see? She's running... running from us, from what she is- she won't be stay anywhere, and if she does, it'll be in DC, NY, Chicago, maybe San Francisco or New Orleans- somewhere big, anywhere where she can blend into the crowd, be another nameless face."
"You're right, but..." She placed her hand on top of his on the chair arm
"But nothing." Willow tried to think of reasons to get him to stay, anything believable, "You go up there, you'll be on your own, we'll have no one to let us into the school, we'll all feel alone." silently she pleaded with him 'I'll be alone, I'd miss you' "We should all stay together."
"She's my slayer-"
"Giles, please stay. For me. I need you here." His head shot up, and he met her gaze at last, the two looked at each other for a minute before he turned his hand over to grip hers and gave her a half smile.
"The Hellmouth'd be overrun by the time I got back, wouldn't it?"
"Definitely." Silence passed for a few minutes more until footsteps were heard entering the main library. Squeezing his hand, she stood,
"I'm staying." She grinned
"I'll see you in the morning. Sleep tight."
"Will, you coming?"
"Sure. Tomorrow Giles." Their eye contact was finally broken as she turned to smile at Xander, before following him out. Giles stared at the empty doorway for a moment longer than was necessary
"Tomorrow," he whispered to the space.
Okay, now this one she hadn't seen coming
"For someone who's approaching her 1125th birthday, that isn't a very intelligent question." Ah well, Anya thought, it might have made her angry, but at least the question had gotten her to speak in coherent sentences
"I didn't mean how, I meant... what? Who? When? Where?"
"Pregnant, me, now, here."
"Haha. You know what I meant. Now tell me the rest."
"Giles." Anya felt her jaw drop, and for the first time in her rather long life, she had absolutely no idea what to say, had no comeback, she just sat, staring and feeling rather like a fish as she tried to shut her mouth unsuccessfully
"This is a fine start- if I can't get you to believe me, then I don't know who will."
"No, it's just- how long?"
SUMMER JUST BEFORE SEASON 3
"I'm sorry Will, really I am."
"No Xander, it's fine. It's not your fault you're sick. Besides, you hate patrol."
"Well yes, but I still feel bad about leaving it all to you and G-man."
"Don't call him that, he doesn't like it."
"But I do, have you not noticed how fun it is to get him mad?"
"Honestly, one day you're going to grow up and cringe at everything you used to do."
"Never gonna happen Will."
"What, you're not going to grow up, get married, get a proper job?"
"Geez Will, that's just scary." She giggled and carried the phone over to the closet to pick out her shoes. She heard a knock at the patio door and signalled through the glass that she'd be out in a minute.
"I've got to go, Xand, I'll see you tomorrow, and if you're not well enough, then school the day after."
"Oh joy. Back to math." She laughed again
"Bye." Quickly tying her laces, she grabbed her 'slay-bag,' and opened the patio door
"Xander's ill. Looks like it's just us two tonight."
"Ill?" He raised an eyebrow at her
"Well, he claims to be. Knowing Xander he'll be right as rain tomorrow."
"Probably." They walked companionably in silence to the cemetery. The night was clear and warm, and the pair both revelled in the peaceful naturalness of it all
"Sometimes you get a night that just seems so perfect you don't want to do anything to break the magic of it." Giles smiled at her poetry filled description. Sometimes she would just come out with things that were so innocent and fantasy filled he really had to wonder whether she'd really seen the things she'd seen, because she'd remained so beauty filled, determined to see the good in everything: even the evil filled hours when the sun was far from view
"And it's only ever nights. You notice that? There never seems to be a day where you just want it to last forever. It's always nights." He smiled at her childishness again, but at the same time;
"I know exactly what you mean." She glanced up at him, surprised, before backing up to sit on a headstone
"Really?" She smiled shyly at his slight nod "Usually I just get ignored when I say something like that, or it's 'Yes, uh-huh, what do you think of my new shoes, me too.' People don't usually even listen, let alone respond." He let the fondness he felt for her in that moment enter his eyes and voice
"Then they're idiots." He stepped closer to her, putting a hand on her shoulder. Casual touching had become the norm for the two over the summer months, but sometimes, something more was there that they could both feel
"That's your slayer you're talking about." Her voice was quieter than usual, and had a slightly nervous edge
"Still true." and his had taken on a slightly detached tone, as if he were thinking of something other than his words. His hand moved towards her neck, and she watched him watch it. She didn't' want him to stop, but...
"What?" His words were slightly dazed and he shook his head as if to clear it
"Demon, green, slimy, yuk. And behind you. With an axe!" Realising his imminent danger, Giles took a short dagger from his waistband and turned, moving to one side. The demon was still a few metres away but did indeed have an axe, and, seeing as he'd just moved, was headed straight for Willow.
He reached out an arm, aiming to pull the girl from danger, but she was already a step ahead of him, and on the other side of the demon's path.
The rather large demon was travelling at quite a speed and found himself unable to stop before he charged through Willow's favourite headstone and lodged his axe into the tree behind. Moving up behind the fiend, Giles pushed the blade into the side of its neck and twisted, then backed away, taking the blade with him. Willow stood waiting for any signs of movement with a carefully trained crossbow, but after several minutes of stillness, the pair relaxed, assuming the demon to be dead
"That was easier than expected."
"What was it?"
"I don't know." Giles knelt down beside the body and turned it over to reveal the previously unnoticed marking on its forehead; a flower formed from equilateral triangles
"Yes I do. It's a Siegel Demon. They're fascinating creatures really, almost genetically identical to humans, but basically mindless killers. Their thought processes run along the lines of 'see, charge, kill.'"
"I don't have a problem with that; I do have a problem when they destroy Miss Lostrin's headstone." She looked down at the remains of her graveyard seat.
The pair wandered around the town's numerous graveyards for the next couple of hours, impressed by their total of four and a half stakings (The half was an experience Willow hoped never to repeat, and not just because of the attractive purpley-brown stain on her new top and skirt), conversing easily, and generally enjoying themselves. As they left the last cemetery and headed back to the slightly better end of town the conversation from earlier was revived
"You're worth more than they give you credit for." Willow looked up at Giles, puzzled
"You're a brilliant young woman. The people around you sometimes take that for granted." She smiled shyly at the compliment
"Not all of them," he looked at her questioningly, "not you." He reached out a hand and stroked her cheek. Willow was surprised; not by the gesture so much as the fact that at some point they'd stopped walking and she hadn't noticed. Suddenly something entered Giles' eyes and his arm tensed, preparing to pull away. Not wanting to lose the contact again, the redhead raised her own arm and placed her hand over his. Holding it still she turned her head and placed a light kiss on the palm
"Thank you." Giles felt himself pulled even further under the girl's spell by the lower, more personal tone of her voice
"Not taking me for granted, being here this summer, looking out for me. Being you." He had no reply and after a moment more he felt their hands drop, still clasped together, and they continued their walk in silence. Eventually they reached her bungalow
"This is where I get off." They stood, neither one wanting to let go, until she spoke again
"I'll see you tomorrow."
"Tomorrow." She took a step towards the house and their fingers separated, before she turned back towards him and moved in close.
Giles thought he'd never felt anything better than the light kiss she placed in the corner of his mouth and half a moment later he realised he was responding. It was over far too quickly and left both of them feeling a little phased.
Giles opened his eyes to be met by the purest look of happiness on Willow's face. Her eyes were closed, her head tilted slightly, and a wisp of a smile pulled at her lips, making him want to kiss her again. He wanted to kiss her again so badly; but if he did he wouldn't be able to stop, he knew, so he just stood there, watching as she opened her eyes and smiled again: this time at him
"I've been wanting to do that all summer." He didn't say 'me too,' although he thought it,
"You should go inside. It's getting cold." She felt her heart drop to her stomach and begin to get dissolved by the hydrochloric acid there. After their talks tonight she'd been so sure he wanted this as badly as her. Now though...
"I'll see you tomorrow."
EARLY SEASON 6
"Just a minute, you're telling me you and Giles have been an item for over three years and now he's gone off to England?"
"It's a long story."
"Good thing I've got time."
"I came here for your help."
"Which I'll give you once you've told me the whole story."
"I am NOT having this conversation with you." The younger girl ran up the stairs of 1630 Revello Drive with her sister hot on her heels
"Who is it? Do I know him?"
"Buffy, I'm not-"
"So you're carrying contraceptive pills and condoms around for no reason?"
"I'm on the pill for my period. You know that."
"I know what you told me."
"And the condoms?"
"Willow gave them to me."
"She said she thought that I should have them, in case the right guy showed up at the wrong time."
"Don't lie to me Dawn."
"She'd buy you a whole packet, not three loose ones. It's not like she keeps her own around."
"Right side of the desk, third drawer down."
"Dawn, when you and I are finished with this talk we have to have one about lying to people. Especially me." She stormed through to her friend's room, and went over to the desk. "It's not even believable. Willow hasn't been involved with anyone for two years, why would she-" Her erratic mood caused her to pull at the desk drawer harder than usual, and its contents fell to the floor, scattering over the pristine carpet
"See. Condoms." But Buffy was too distracted by something else to be paying attention to her sister. Kneeling down, she picked up the small box that had come unclasped in the fall. Dawn peered over The Slayer's shoulder to see what she'd found.
"It's beautiful." And indeed it was. The eternity ring sat on a bed of dark red satin, the tiny diamonds shattering the light that hit them to make rainbows over the Summers girls' faces. Buffy wondered, then searched. Stamped on the hidden inside of the lid was a gold seal
"It's an engagement ring."
"Maybe it's her mother's."
"Only if she's got remarried recently."
"Huh?" Dawn frowned at her sister
"It's a new firm: established 1999." The two were silent for a moment
"Look Buffy, this is real exciting and all- but if Willow gets back she's going to be majorly pissed we went through her drawer and made her room a mess." Buffy wasn't listening though; she'd spotted something else
'I love you. I'm in love with you. I want to make love to you and with you. I need to have you inside of me, taking me and making me yours. I need you to tie me down and devour me. To free the passion that's begging for release. And I want to do the same to you.
I need you, Giles. I am in love with you, Giles.'
"Shit." Buffy tried to absorb what she was reading. Willow was in love with Giles? When had this happened? Hesitantly she picked up another piece of paper, decorated with her best friend's rounded scrawl
'I tried to phone you yesterday; I got her, and then the answer machine. You said we were soul mates Giles. If that were true, then why are we here? You return my mail unopened, you refuse to answer the phone. Shouldn't you be able to tell Rupert, to know something's wrong? Come home to me darling, I need you. I need for you to be at my side as I go through this.'
Dawn looked up at the strange whimpering noise her sister made. She was trying to reach what looked to be a pair of earrings from under the bed, but at the look on Buffy's face she sat up
"No, Dawn." She looked like she was in shock
"Giles. Willow. Sex."
"What?" Dawn looked down to the paper in The Slayer's hand and read. "Oh. Giles, Willow, sex. I mean- OH!"
"I- it- she- they- he..."
"Nice pronouns Buff. Only now we know Will's gonna be Doublemeat Palace-y mad. If Giles and her are having some sort of torrid love affair behind our backs, there's a good reason she doesn't want us to know. Heck, I can think of several." Buffy looked up at her sister in horror
"Torrid..." she made another whimpering noise while looking between the letters and the jewellery box in her hands
"Buffy. COME ON! We have to clear this lot up." On auto-pilot, the blonde did as her sister ordered, all the time thinking of how to find a way to read the rest of the papers she was now clearing up, and search her best friend's room for more.
SUMMER JUST BEFORE SEASON 3
Furiously, Willow descended the steps that led to the patio before Giles' front door, meeting the postman who was trying to push a small package through the tiny letterbox. Trust Giles not only to be the sole person in America with a letterbox instead of a mail box, but also with the aforementioned hole-in-the-door two inches smaller than even the most uptight Brit's.
"Here, let me take that. I'm gonna kick his ass anyway, I may as well bring in his lack of mailbox and how much it puts you out each morning."
"Thanks, but it's no prob-"
"Why should you have to almost break your back every morning just because he's too British to change his ways?" She raised an eyebrow to accentuate her question, and he smiled back
"Well, when you put it that way-" The door opened a crack to reveal Giles clad in spectacles and dressing gown
"What is all this- Willow?" The mailman gave her another smile
"I'll see you around."
"You too." She turned to face the door "Can I come in?" He stepped back and she entered, closing the door behind her
"You are aware it's eight am on the last day of your summer holidays?" Willow paid him no attention and began pacing the floor in front of him
"What is it with men? First they say they love you, then they steal and rip apart your Barbie, then they're all sweet with the animal crackers but just forget to mention that they're a werewolf, and then they spend a summer with you turning your crush into love, then they kiss you back and leave with a 'see you tomorrow.'" She stopped moving to stand and glare at him, hands on hips, looking every bit like the woman who would chase Tom with the rolling pin, while Tom fought kitchen and garden implements to reach Jerry.
"Well?" Giles struggled for an answer
"Well- er- I-"
"Giles, what I want to know, is if last night meant as much to you as it did to me?" He looked at her, a beautiful picture of pure anger. He knew what his answer was, but he also knew it didn't matter
"It's not that simple Willow."
"Oh no, it really is." Her eyes were unyielding, almost cold. He tried silently to plead with her not to ask him to do this, but he knew before he started it was no good
"Last night was two friends-" he saw her eyes begin to shine, a single tear begin to form
"Don't lie to me Giles, I can handle rejection, but I want the truth. Last night you kissed me back, then told me to leave. I need to know where I am before I can decide where to go next."
"It means I'm a stupid man."
"Give me a straight answer Giles."
"I can't Willow, I'm a member of The Watcher's Council and of The Sunnydale High School faculty. Anything I say or do has to be led by that."
"Here and now, it's you and me. Tell me whether I stay or go." He searched her face, knowing what she wanted, what he wanted, but unsure whether he could give it to them or not. He thought back over this summer, what it had meant to him, knowing if he answered wrongly he'd never have that closeness with her again, she'd never open up to him again. But if Snyder were to discover- and word would almost certainly spread to Travers. There was so much to take into account, but here and now?
AND ZZZZZUUUUUPPPPPE HERE WE ARE BACK TO SEASON 6
"That's so sweet. Sometimes I think Xander and I were boring, and very unromantic: 'You're the only man I know that I haven't done vengeful things to, give me orgasms,' and him being a man and all... So was there sex next?"
"Anya! I did not come here to discuss my sex life; I came here to discuss the consequences of it."
"Yes, but if there isn't an act, there's no consequences, therefore to discuss a consequence, an act must first have been discussed or there's no consequences to be discussed."
"God your logic's even more messed up than mine."
"Ooooo, I tell you what. I've been assured that female talks of this nature must take place over ice cream. Why don't we go back to my apartment and I'll buy Ben and Jerry's on the way?"
"Xander? He'll be gone for hours; he has a male bonding session after work. If he gets home at all it won't be 'til some horrible hour."
"How about you get IC and I'll get us alcohol?"
"Ooo, even better. But you have to keep talking."
SUMMER JUST BEFORE SEASON 3 (AGAIN)
"Willow?" She'd been silent for a good two minutes since he'd spoken, staring at him in either shock or horror. Suddenly her eyes seemed to focus and her face broke into a huge grin
"You mean it?"
"Willow, it doesn't mean..."
"Here and now?"
"Here and now, yes, I mean it. Stay. But-" he was silenced as her fingers flew to cross his lips
"No buts. Here and now only." She lifted her fingers to replace them with her lips and suddenly he heard her. Here and now. Tomorrow could take care of itself; she could go back to flirting with the mailman, he could go back to his stuffy Britishness. Here and now mattered. He wanted to feel all of her. The package from Birmingham fell forgotten from his fingers as he grabbed her hips and pulled her closer towards him. He could feel her small hands slip over his shoulders to pull his head further down to hers. He nipped at her lips until she parted them slightly, giving his tongue access to the rest of her mouth
The kiss was rough and desperate. Both knowing that the moment it ended they'd have to face the real world and for that reason alone pulling each other closer still, until eventually Willow broke away, gasping
Somehow, she was even more beautiful now; panting slightly, her lips parted, swollen and beginning to bruise, her eyes wide and shining, her chest pushed firmly against his, causing her breasts to swell slightly above the square neck of her top.
He lowered his head slightly to kiss her again when there was a light tapping at the door, bringing both of them back to their senses. Pulling away, Willow picked up two books from the table and moved to sit on the sofa, while Giles answered the door
"Joyce. What a surprise." He stepped back from the door to give her admittance
"I didn't wake you, did I Rupert?" A strange sensation swept through Willow at the familiarity of the name
"No. I've been up a while."
"I just wanted to apologise for what I said the other day. I didn't mean it- well not all of it. I don't blame you, but I feel I really should be blaming someone."
"It's no problem, Joyce. Really. How's Dawn coping?"
"She misses her. And she doesn't understand- not that I do really, but... she wants her sister back."
"We all want her back Mrs Summers." Willow smiled sympathetically at Joyce, while also glaring at the comforting hand Giles had placed on her shoulder. It wasn't easy, but as Willow, she managed, while also chastising herself for being crazy enough to be possessive of a hand
"Willow! I didn't see you there. Are you two researching or something?"
"Yes, aren't we Giles? Siegel demon we met last night."
"I see. Well I have to go anyway, I have some shopping to do before I pick up Dawn from her friend's, otherwise I have to drag her 'round too. 11 year olds and supermarkets don't mix.
Two minutes later, Mrs Summer was gone, and Willow and Giles were left looking at each other
"We have to talk. But first I have to get dressed." This made her jump slightly, she'd forgotten he was only clad in his dressing gown. He headed up the stairs and she felt dread enter the pit of her stomach. Some insane part of her had hoped that now they'd kissed, the real-world side of things would disappear, but practically, she knew that wasn't going to happen, and now she was faced with 'the talk' from the man she'd spent the summer falling in love with. And she did love him she realised as he came down the stairs in jeans and a t-shirt. She loved him when he got flustered over something Xander said, when he made that clucking noise with his tongue, when he was so absorbed in research he missed all the insults thrown his way. Xander and Oz were dear to her but... they were nothing when compared to the man in front of her, who sat beside her on the couch and took her hand.
"Willow," he steeled himself and resolved what he was going to say, "I care for you a great deal, and, were the circumstances different, nothing would give me greater pleasure than to take this further, but they're not, and Snyder, the council..."
"You've spent the summer making me fall in love with you. I'm not going to give that up because some stupid bureaucrats in their offices say I should."
"You're a student Willow."
"I don't have to be." Giles' next argument fell from his lips
"I have enough to graduate already. With the teaching I did along with those extra classes- Snyder told me told me before the summer, told me it was time to 'rid myself of the unsavoury elements of Sunnydale High,' i.e. Oz and Buffy. I told him I quite liked it here and had every intention of staying, but the fact remains."
"You don't want to though."
"But I can."
"We'd still have The Council to cope with. They already disapprove of you because you help Buffy. If they were to discover there was something between us..."
"So we don't let them find out."
"They have sources everywhere, there are too many-"
"So we don't tell anyone."
"We tell no-one, not Xander, not Buffy when she gets back, no-one."
"Willow you're young. You don't want that type of relationship."
"I do if it's the only way I can be with you. I want you, Giles, I need you." She begged with her eyes and returned his grip on the hand he held. She saw him weakening and leaned into him, feeling incredibly manipulative and guilty, but at the same time wanting her own way for once, as she brushed her lips lightly over his
"Please Rupert." He didn't know if it was her soft lips, or the gentle way she whispered his name, but he knew in that moment he was lost, knew he couldn't deny her.
He kissed her back desperately but gently
"I love you Willow."
"I love you too."
"Then was there sex?" Willow rolled her eyes, but answered anyway
"Not then. But about a week later. After Buffy got back."
"This is all very sweet and stuff, but I don't understand. What about Oz? I mean you were dating him when I first met you, and then the whole Veruca thing..."
"Oz was our cover story. He was the one person who knew about us. He agreed to keep up the 'public face' of being my boyfriend unless he met someone else. It kept suspicion off us and helped him to get rid of groupies."
"Still. That's a pretty great thing for him to do for you."
"He's Oz. He's a pretty great guy."
"So tell me about the sex."
Buffy sat in front of the TV, aware of the pictures, but not really paying any attention to them. It was 11:30, which probably meant Willow wasn't coming home tonight- but usually she'd phone. Still...
Creeping up the stairs so as not to wake Dawn, The Slayer began to head for her room. Just as she was about to enter, her attention was caught by the desk visible through her best friend's open bedroom door.
She knew she really, really shouldn't, but somehow she didn't seem to be able to stop herself. She wanted to know what was in the rest of those letters. And just what had gone on in her absence over the past summer...
"Willow, you coming?” She looked up from the library table at her friends by the swing doors
“No, y’all go patrol, I’m happy here with the books.”
“You sure Will?” She looked up to meet her best friend’s gaze. Buffy was trying so hard since she came back, and after her initial anger, Willow had forgiven her, but it was obvious she was still worried about rejection from the hacker.
“I’m sure. Giles could use the company and I’m not big on the action girl.”
“Well, if you’re sure.”
“I’ll meet you for breakfast, okay?”
“Okay. Make sure Giles takes you home. I don’t want you getting eaten on your way.” Willow looked down at her hands, trying to stop her mind going to places it shouldn’t
“Okay. Bye.” Buffy, Xander and Cordelia left as Giles came out of his office
“You’re not going with them?”
“No, I thought I’d look through some more stuff, find another prophecy to defeat, check my email… spend some time with you.” Her voice trailed off
“Willow.” Although his tone was almost warning, the very fact that she was in the same room, alone, with him, made him not only hyper-aware of everything, but also strangely pleased
“You don’t want me to spend time with you?”
“I love you spending time with me. I just- don’t know if you should.” She sighed
“Willow, it’s not-”
“I know, it’s the school, The Council.” Shutting down her laptop, she stood and began to pack her things away.
“What are you doing?”
“If you don’t want me here, I’ll see if I can catch up with the others.”
“No, don’t go.”
“Giles, if you want this relationship, act like it, if you don’t, tell me.”
“I want it.”
“Then Rupert, be happy for us. What’s the worse that can come of us?” Giles stared at her, unable to quite believe she’d just said that. Realising the possible Hellmouth ramifications of her words, Willow had the good grace to look guilty.
“I believe that’s called tempting fate.”
“Ooops?” The two stood facing each other for a moment before Giles smiled
“Y’know-” he stopped and Willow distinctly heard him mutter something about American youths, before he re-started “Do you know what I’d really like to learn?”
“What?” she answered cautiously.
“How to use one of those damn machines.” He nodded to the computer sat on the library table. Surprised, her eyebrows shot through the roof
“Really?” Guiltily, Giles nodded, “Miss Calendar and I decide you were a lost cause.” Willow watched a cloud cover his face and realized how casually she’d mentioned the ex-teacher.
“Oh Rupert, I’m sorry.” He smiled awkwardly.
“It’s quite alright, really. So how do I turn this thing on?” After a moment’s pause, Willow put down her things and began booting up the library PC
“What’s your username?”
“Username. The thing that lets you into your part of the network.”
“Did you get a piece of paper with your name, a number and a password on this week?”
“That said ‘network ID’ across the top?”
“That’s the one.”
“Er- it’s somewhere here…” Shuffling through a pile, he turned, triumphant, when he found the A5 sheet.
“That’s it,” she took it from him, “’R T Giles.’ What’s the ‘T’ for?”
“Er- it’s kind of embarrassing…”
“Cummon Rupert. You know if you don’t tell me I’ll only hack into the school records and find out.”
“Tracy.” He watched her fingers type in the information from the paper, marvelling at the agility. He looked up at her squeal.
“You’re kidding me? Really?” He nodded, “Me too!”
“WTR- Willow Tracy Rosenburg.” Her excitement, even at something such as a shared middle name was infectious, and for the first time in his life he didn’t curse his mother for naming him after her aunt.
“So what do you want to learn?” He looked at her blankly
“How to use it.” She smiled
“Rupert, you can’t just learn everything straight off. What do you want to use it for?”
“Research and er- email?”
“Okay,” she stood up, “come and sit here.” He took the seat in front of the computer and breathed in the scent of Willow as she sat beside him. “Click there.”
“With the mouse. Move the arrow over that icon and click the button twice.” He did as he was told and a window opened in front of him. “Now who do you want to mail?”
“I don’t know- there’re some watchers I’d like to be able to contact.”
“Okay, I’ll show you what to do and then when you get the addresses you can do it. Okay… compose, type in the address and subject, then type your message…” she told him her own address, and he then typed ‘hello’ “… then click send. Got that?” He looked at her
“Compose, address, type, send.”
“Good… now research. If we start…” After an hour Giles had found, although both knew that Willow had been the main contributor, all the information he required on the demon he’d been researching and had discovered the advantages of chat rooms; an idea he had formerly abhorred, having found four different ‘watchers only’ rooms, and several with uses for research.
Willow leaned over and closed down the window they were using when Giles suddenly put a hand to the side of his head.
“You’re getting a head ache. You shouldn’t really look at the screen for more than 20 minutes without a break. Here.” She turned her chair slightly and raised her hands to begin massaging his temples. After a few moments, his eyes shut and he leaned into her touch.
“Better?” He could feel her breath caress his lips and he opened his eyes the tiniest bit to see that her face was centimetres from his own. He leaned forward slightly and rested his forehead against hers.
“Always when you’re here.” He brushed his lips gently across hers and moved to deepen the kiss when he saw the time flash on the screen in front of him
“Good God, it’s almost 10:30, we should get you home.” Ten minutes later they were doing the Citroen version of speeding across town
“I could have made my own way home you know.”
“And have Buffy after me for anything that happened to you? I think not.” She laughed “Besides, I prefer knowing exactly where you are and that you have someone with you all the time.”
“I can take care of myself. Heck, I will be as soon as I walk through that door.” She pointed to 6305 Westminister Drive.
“What d’you mean?”
“I mean I’ll be on my own anyway. God knows where Mom and Dad are. They mentioned Chicago. And Tokyo.” Giles looked at the girl with a sort of stunned horror as he stopped the car
“What if- what if something happened?” She shrugged
“If they cared, they’d find out when they got back.”
“I’m sure they care Willow.”
“They were in Sunnydale when Dru and minions knocked me out. Did you see them at the hospital?” Giles had no idea what to say, although she spoke nonchalantly on the subject, it was obvious it hurt her to think about. Leaning over, he stroked her cheek and then kissed her
“You know you’re still loved though.” He didn’t phrase it as a question and she was glad: she didn’t want this man of all others to pity her. “And you’re not alone. Any time.” She smiled softly at him
“I know. Thank you.” They kissed again; a gentle exploration of each other, until Willow broke away and reached between them to unclip her seatbelt. Her hand paused on the clasp and she looked into Giles’ eyes, searching for something
“Tonight… I don’t want to be alone, Rupert,” he remained silent: unsure of what exactly she was asking, “will you take me home?” His heart jumped at her words, but he required no time to think.
Fifteen minutes later they arrived at Giles’ apartment.
“Not this late- if I have caffeine after eight pm I don’t sleep until about 3. So I avoid it.” As he attended to things in the kitchen, Willow took the opportunity to study the contents of his living room. Although she’d been here several times before, it had always been briefly and she’d never had a proper look around. She soon discovered her favourite thing about his main room was the shelves; most of them were full of books that included everything from demonology to ‘Teach Yourself Dutch,’ ‘Pride and Prejudice’ to ‘A View from the Bridge,’ but a lot of the shelves were dedicated to artefacts, records, videos and stones, among which was the rose-quartz she’d given to him on Jenny’s behalf.
The diversity exhibited by the books was also apparent in the other collections and Willow soon found herself absorbed in the wide selection.
“Find anything you like?” Giles had been watching her for a good ten minutes before he asked. Her fascination was almost childlike and her obvious thirst for knowledge insatiable. He remembered his own quest for facts at her age and the likeness between them pleased him.
“Yeah. Everything. I’d love to have collections like this.”
“I’ve been going for a long time.”
“What’s this?” She held up a video case.
“That is the best film ever made.” She looked quizzically at him and then the case.
“The Italian Job?” He nodded, “What’s it about?”
“The greatness of being British. It’s a comedy.”
“They can make tea, scones and Oxford funny?” As he began to defend his country, he saw the teasing glint in the girl’s eyes and changed his expression to a mock glare
“Give me that and get over here. I’ll show you the funny side of England.”
NINETY-SIX MINUTES LATER
“That can’t be the end.” Giles grinned at the expression on Willow’s face “I mean- they can’t just… did you do something to your video? No, ‘cos credits. But…” She turned to face her partner on the couch and caught him as he tried to hide a wide smile “You’re mocking me, aren’t you?”
“Would I ever?”
“Okay, so explain it to me again… Michael Caine is given an idea to rob the Italian bank. The guy in jail gives him loads of money… why?”
“Because he doesn’t like the Italians as they’re taking money from the British- and the Chinese gold.”
“Oh! So that’s why his cell is full of pictures of the Queen- cos he loves England?”
“But he’s a criminal. So how can he love his queen and country so much?”
“That’s the joke.”
“Oh, right. So then they go over to Turin, hold up all the traffic be putting a dodgy programme into the computer that controls the lights, bypass the authorities by dressing as soccer supporters, as well as The Mafia, steal all Italy’s gold, then escape in three little multicoloured cars…”
“They’re Minis- homemade British genius… and they’re not multicoloured; there’s on red, one white, and one blue- the colours from the union jack.”
“Fine, anyway… and then they escape in a big bus… everything’s perfect… and then the bus half falls off a mountain.”
“But what happens at the end?”
“That is the end… it’s a cliff-hanger.”
“Ha ha…but it can’t be the end… I mean- who finds them? Or do they plunge to their deaths?”
“That bit’s up to you.” Willow looked up, puzzled.
“How d’you mean?”
“I mean you get to pick the end… in your own mind.” Tagging onto the idea she smiled.
“So if I watch it in a good mood, then the British come along and all’s well, if I’m mad, the mafia come along and crush the bus, first saving all the gold, and if I’m in an ‘all men are stupid and must die’ mood, then the driver gets a bright idea and steps out and is left to watch as everyone else plunges to their deaths?”
“That’s about it.”
“And me what?”
“What’s your opinion on the ending.”
“Well- Switzerland’s pretty treacherous up in the mountains- for more than one reason. I figure they all got eaten by a tribe of Tikaash demons. The gold would be like a magnet to them.”
“I like it when you call me Rupert.”
“But you just sentenced those people to death. I’m not happy with you right now- why should I try to please you?”
“Because then there are so many ways that I can find to please you in return.” A thrill of excitement ran through Willow at his gently teasing words. She half turned in the loose embrace they’d shared during the film, lifted her hand to turn and lower his face, and pressed her lips to his. The tentative kiss increased in power as the couple increased the contact they had with one another; hands and lips caressing, fingers and tongues exploring.
The clunk as the VCR finished rewinding the tape caused Willow to pull back slightly and actual thoughts to penetrate her consciousness. As she suddenly realised the situation they were in, one thing pushed itself to the fore above all others.
“Rupert, I’m scared.” Pulling back further, Giles looked up at her face, worried.
“Of what’s about to happen. I’m not exactly experienced, and-”
“Willow, we don’t have to do anything that-”
“I’m not saying I don’t want to, just that- this isn’t something I’ve done before and I’m gonna need you to guide me through it.” She moved forward, stopping as she brushed his lips with her own, “I love you.”
Hearing her quietly spoken declaration, Giles pressed his lips to hers, before standing an offering his hand to lead her upstairs.
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