Title : Rehab
Author : Miss_Ladywriter
Rating : PG I guess, although please correct me if otherwise
Email : email@example.com
Summary : Post Willow Apocalyptic thing, before series 7 gets underway, Willow goes to England with Giles to get over everything…
Disclaimer : Story's mine. All characters belong to Joss Whedon, ME, Fox, UPN, and WB.
Spoilers : Up to the end of season 6 – Post Grave
Distribution : Anyone who wants it! Just please let me know :o)
They had been in England for two weeks now and already she was starting to feel the beginnings of being normal. Giles' usual comforting presence was surrounding her completely and she was letting herself be lulled into his reassurance, dulling her painful senses. It was when she was left alone, however, like this evening that the realisation of all that had happened continued to torture her.
Her lost love, her violent anguish, her desperate embrace of the black arts… her very near destruction of the whole world, here she allowed herself a wry smile. Surely no one but her could have managed such a mess-up of her life!
But sitting alone, thinking back wiped the smile from her face. Tara's face, her beautiful mouth curved in surprise as she was shot, still haunted her. The lust for vengeance had passed to the more powerful emotion of grief, which constantly made her ache for her old white magicks. Surely with a spell or two, she could ease the crippling agony she was in. But she had promised Giles, she reminded herself.
Yes, she had promised Giles. But where was he tonight? No explanation, just a note telling her he had to go out and he would be back late. He had promised her that he would care for her and be there for her, that's how much their promises were worth. Her eyes stung with tears of rejection as she imagined him out with his friends from around the area, leaving her at home alone.
She needed magick, he would understand, she lied to herself. And she knew just where to find it. Giles had locked away his magic books in one of his stock cupboards and the key was in his bedroom. There she would find her release, her blessed liberation from the relentless hurt.
With an enthusiasm almost reminiscent of her more carefree days she bolted up to his bedroom, hesitating only for a second before opening the door. She didn't often go into Giles' private room; it was kind of accepted between them that they needed their own space as much as they were there for each other. This, however, negated that clause. He wasn't there, she needed the key.
The room was as calming as the man himself. For a second she stood, her eyes scrutinising the small home, photos neatly pinned up, a surprisingly sumptuous looking double bed, lots of worn, well-read books and some scented candles. Unlikely they would be used for magic, she noted, curious to see another side to his personality. The bed was luxurious, she had not considered Giles bringing a girl back home, but it would certainly achieve that welcoming effect if he did. She scowled in response to that thought and snatched the key from his bedside table.
"Fine, he can get laid and I'll get high."
Giles nudged open the front door with his free hand, calling out as he did so. He didn't like to take her by surprise, God knew that she had had enough shocks already.
"Willow, I don't suppose you could come and give me a hand…?"
His voice was still only greeted by silence. With an uneasy feeling growing inside him, he unloaded the gifts he had bought for Willow and locked up behind him, before moving swiftly through the house.
"Willow, where are you, love?"
His movements through the house increased in urgency as he discovered her absence from the lounge, kitchen and study. Taking leaping strides up the stairs, he checked the bathroom and spare room, before pausing outside her door.
"Willow, are you in here? May I come in?"
"Come in if you like, honey."
He froze. "Willow?"
Her voice was lazy and unutterably content, but that was not what had made him stop in his tracks. What had taken him by surprise was that her voice was coming through his open bedroom door.
"What on earth are you doing – Willow!"
She was sprawled over his bed, in an alarming lack of attire. Her face was lively but relaxed and it only took a few seconds for his lightning observation to assess the situation and prioritise his problems.
"Willow, please tell me you've not touched my magic books."
She giggled, before slapping a hand across her mouth. "I could tell you that, but I don't think you would believe it, would ya?"
He exhaled with some effort. She flicked a mischievous grin his way, unable to resist a jibe. "So I take it you didn't get lucky then?"
"What!?" This was all too much for him to take in: Willow lying on his bed, her sultry voice, her cheery disposition, her bare legs stretching idly across his duvet. At least her hair was still her vivid red, he thought with some relief.
She giggled again, and he snapped.
"Willow, for goodness' sake, sit up straight and make some attempt to talk some sense!"
He thanked the heavens that despite the silly pout she gave him, she did actually sit up and look more Willow-like.
"Now, what magicks have you been doing?"
She had the grace to look abashed. "It was only a little spell I promise."
"WHAT did you do?"
"You were out, I was alone. I wanted to stop hurting. I missed you…"
The last comment was delivered in a winsome voice, but Giles forced himself to be impervious to her charms. He raised one eyebrow, daring her to get to the point.
"Ok, ok! It's just a little enchantment to rid me of negative feelings. It will wear off in a couple of hours, I checked it out thoroughly first and I don't feel any side effects."
"Yeah, like grief, anger, loneliness… jealousy," here, she remembered the pang of resentment she had felt before when she had looked at Giles' bed. A gleam of something began to spark off inside her.
"Were you out with another girl?"
His shocked expression was nearly worth the pain of him having left her. His mouth opened and closed for a few moments, as he considered all that he could say and chose nothing.
"You heard me! Who was she?"
Eventually he spoke, his voice quizzical. "Jealousy?"
"You shouldn't answer a question with a question, it's rude!"
He began to take off his coat and hang it up, being typically deliberate and thoughtful about his movements. Willow watched him, her eyes scanning across his body. Now that he was in front of her, it was very easy to visualise the other side of his character. She appraised his tall, broad frame that had always represented authority and safety, but now declared a different sort of masculinity. Only just averting her gaze from his rear, she stared at the back of his head, feelings swiftly whirling through her mind.
He was now tidying away some of the books she had left out, obviously still thinking to himself.
"You'll regret this in the morning, you know."
"You can't hide your feelings away by magic, they have to be resolved inside yourself."
"You weren't even supposed to be doing magic. We had a pact."
"I know." She was relieved to feel a trace of irritation, despite her inability to feel anger at his lecturing.
"But we also had a pact to be there for each other. And where were you this evening?"
He ignored the baiting tone in her voice. "Not with another woman, which is what you seem to think."
She realised with a rush of adrenaline that her instinctive reaction of blushing was not happening. No shame, she realised! She would not be able to feel that awful awkwardness. He seemed to realise it too, assessing the newly found confidence of her smile instantly.
"I wouldn't blame you if you were."
He suddenly did not want to have this conversation. Not with an empowered, curious Willow who was so apparently incapable of embarrassment.
"I mean, I bet you have needs too, right?"
"We are not discussing this now, Willow."
"You might not be, but I sure as hell am! There's a lot I want to know about you… Rupert…?"
Her voice was teasing, and his eyes widened momentarily with pleasure before retaining his cool disposition. "I'm not going to answer any of your questions while you are in this state."
She smiled, ostensibly unfazed. "You don't have to. I can see it all in your eyes. I saw you that night when you came back and fought me. I saw you just then."
He knew what she meant and hoped she would not say it aloud. The way her voice caressed his name, delighting in its unfamiliarity and connotations. When she used it, she was shedding her childish relationship with him, making herself instead someone on a level with him, challenging him to view her as a different person. He was too slow to govern his reactions to it, and she was too quick to miss them.
"I thought I was supposed to be the Watcher," he attempted to make light of the situation. He had not started to stutter and flush yet which was one small relief, but he was aware that it would only be a matter of time if Willow continued to explore this avenue of interest.
She chuckled, emerald eyes still dancing. "So, needs?"
He caught her blow and parried defensively. "So, jealousy?"
A little half-smile signified her acknowledgement of his response, but she said nothing. Instead she patted the duvet invitingly. He gave her a questioning look.
"Oh come on, you may as well make yourself comfortable. That is, unless you want to leave me alone again…?"
He didn't know what it was that possessed him, but he sat down beside her on his warm comfy bed. She reached out and squeezed his arm sociably.
Her voice was still languid, but there was a subtle tenderness in the undertone that made him begin to feel warm inside. He lay back onto his elbows, ready to make trivial conversation, feeling almost relaxed in her company at last.
"I got to say, now I've given it some thought, I bet you're pretty good in bed, aren't you Rupert?"
He nearly exploded from astonishment and jerked away from her. "What!?"
She giggled at his reaction, but did not move her eyes from his upper body, where she had been gazing at his carelessly half-unbuttoned shirt. Upon realising, he made an anxious move to pull it together.
"Oh come now, don't be shy! I've seen a lot more of you than your neck!"
He tried to resist the memory of her reaching into his soul to pull out his magick. She had been inside him that night and apparently she was just as aware of it as he was.
"Willow, I really am very uncomfortable with this conversation. I don't think you are being fair."
"You're the one who isn't being fair, Giles!" But she was laughing, not upset. "You walk around here with that body and that mind and expect me not to notice you!?"
His brain was whirling beyond comprehension. "Willow, you will regret this in the morning, you have to stop."
"Nah-huh. We are connected, you and me. That night I felt you the way no one else ever has and you know it."
He shook his head mutely. Amazingly the blush was still managing to hold off.
"So what I want to know is, are you as good in bed as I imagine you are?"
"You imagine me in bed?!"
A light giggle again, green eyes flashing wickedly at his disbelief. "Are you good, Rupert Giles?"
Here he felt himself losing the battle and the stammer began as Giles began to realise he could not escape this conversation without giving her an answer. "W-w-well, I haven't had any complaints."
She smiled. "I'll just bet you haven't."
Giles took one moment to look into her eyes, flickering green swirls of light before steeling himself to his principles. Standing up, he resorted to his most business-like tones. "I'm going to make a cup of tea, Willow. If you need me I will be in the kitchen."
Her eyes followed him as he left the room, allowing herself this time to linger slightly on his rear. What had started as a smouldering inside her had begun to catch light. He was like a drug, she needed to be near him, whether it was due to the magic or otherwise. She had to have him.
Giles stood without moving in the kitchen. His brain was skipping from thought to thought without making any sense. When he tried to reach for a cup, he realised his hands were shaking… from what he could not say. Where had that conversation come from?
Willow was vulnerable, she was under the influence of magic… she was coming onto him. As he replayed parts of their chat, he felt a delicious heat pulsing through him. Her words, the way she had said his name, the desirous way she looked at him. It was not Willow, yet she said that she had not changed her personality. She had only removed the ‘negative' emotions. So whilst she felt no shame, she surely could not be feeling things that did not exist.
Giles concentrated on brewing his tea, attempting to resist all thoughts of the redhead upstairs. But her face forced its way into his consciousness, as pushy as her bewitched personality. He had always known she was beautiful, always known she was intelligent, always known her potential for such power… but yet never seen any hint of partiality for him. Her last lover had been another woman, for goodness' sake! She noticed him, imagined him in bed, used his first name in such a delicate way. She was under the influence, she was on the rebound, she was so young.
It was too much for him to take. Giving up, he nestled into one of the comfortable sofa chairs in the lounge, just through from the kitchen and whispered to himself.
"Willow… what are you doing to me!?"
"Nothing… yet. What would you like me to do?"
With a speed that would have made a skittish kitten look sluggish, Giles was up and out of his chair. It was a few minutes before he realised he was not actually having a heart attack as he supposed, but that he had managed to spill half of his tea down his shirt. He turned to face the quiet redhead leaning against the doorway.
She was trying not to laugh, he could see it. It just made the situation worse. He stormed past her into the kitchen, clutching the remains of his drink and pulling his scorched shirt away from his skin.
"This has gone far enough Willow. I don't know what you hope to achieve this evening, but I can guarantee that it is not going to happen with me. You are far too – "
"Far too what, Rupert?"
There she was again, relishing his first name as intensely as a lover. He shook himself away from that unsettling thought.
"Far too young? May I remind you, I'm twenty two now, not some loser teenager that hangs round the school library!"
"But you are quite a bit younger than me, if you hadn't noticed!"
"I didn't think you would have a problem with that. But I suppose you're right, most forty-year olds can't stand the thought of a twenty-something girlfriend…!"
"That's not what I meant, you're just too – "
"Under the influence?"
He was beginning to dislike this new nasty habit she had of reading his mind.
"Well, Rupert, I hate to break it to you but there aren't that many powerful sorcerers in the world either. Who else will ever understand you the way I do? I know what magick does, I'm fairly sure I can imagine the sorts of things you used to get up to when you were my age…"
He permitted himself a condescending grin. She was getting far too cocky, it was winding him up. "I very much doubt it."
She raised an eyebrow. "So I bet you could probably handle me easily?"
Damn. She had tricked him again.
"And if the next thing you are going to say is that I'm too vulnerable, that I would just be throwing myself into a relationship after Tara… well I guess you would be right. But I have always loved you, it's not a new thing. Perhaps now is just our time."
He was speechless again.
"I want you, Rupert."
There was nothing he could do but take a deep breath. This was NOT how he intended to spend his evening.
"I think you want me."
"Willow, I am going to have to stop you. You are not in your right mind. You might think you are doing what you want, but you are not in a suitable state to make that decision. I appreciate all you are saying, but…"
"Your shirt is soaking. Here, let me dry it for you."
She wasn't listening. Instead she grabbed at his shirt and began to pull it away from his body. Her fingertips were grazing at his chest, sending mini-lightning bolts of heat through him.
Glancing up at him with sly green eyes, she commented. "You realise you still haven't told me that you don't want me."
He pulled away from her harshly, ready to deny it immediately, but the words stuck uncomfortably in his throat. She smiled, as if understanding his dilemma.
"It's ok, Rupert…"
He could feel his resolve wavering by the second.
"You don't have to be the grown-up anymore. We are both adults now; you can let the Mr Responsibility act go!"
He was so close to giving in. His body was screaming to be close to her, so loudly he was convinced she would be able to hear him. She was leaning forward, so close that he could just reach down to kiss her, but his conscience forbade it.
"No, Willow. You're right, we are both adults, but only one of us is thinking straight at the moment. You know me, I know you do, and you know that I cannot take advantage of you while you are not completely yourself."
"But you want me." It was teetering on the edge of being a question.
"I brought you here to protect you and look after you. My feelings for you, whatever they may be, are irrelevant. You are vulnerable, you are recovering and I am not going to jeopardise that by any rash actions while you're intoxicated. Do you understand me, Willow?"
She looked at him with a shimmer of wetness forming in her eyes.
"I understand you."
"Are you ok?" With a feeling of dread clamped around his heart, he lifted her chin to explore her face intently, searching for what was troubling her.
She smiled through the tears. "Yes. Thank you. You're right, Giles. But I love you and I want you, and I can feel, in that part of me that is still connected to you… I can feel that you want me too. I'm going to kiss you now Giles, and I want you to kiss me back."
With that, she reached up behind his head with her hands and pulled him down to meet her lips. The kiss was brief but just long enough for both of them to feel the crackle of electricity, before Giles gently disengaged and slipped his fingers into her hair.
"Willow, I can't. Please don't push me, it's not fair. I don't want you to wake up tomorrow morning with regrets as well as the inevitable comedown. I don't want things to be difficult between us."
She ran her hands down his arms until she reached his fingers, removing them from her red locks. With an accusing look, she met his eyes. "No Giles. You can't deal with the idea that things could be different between us, that's your problem."
Turning on her heel, without a second glance back, she stalked out of the kitchen. He could hear her footsteps leading to her bedroom, where the door slammed shut.
He checked the time. About an hour had passed since he had returned home. She was undoubtedly angry, which meant only one thing, the slow return of all her negative emotions. He sighed, touching a finger to his lips, where a trace of her taste remained. It looked as if it would be a long night. Giles put the kettle on.
"Willow, I have brought you some tea. Please may I come in?"
Willow sat on her bed trying to block his voice from her head. She could still feel his lips on hers, driving her crazy with the hint of what could be. But there was another feeling lurking in the background, something she could not name, but that filled her with trepidation.
Like trying to uncover an elusive dream upon waking, the feeling came swiftly and temporarily into focus, causing her to cry out with shock. For a second, such pain entered her heart that she forgot to breathe.
The door burst open. "Willow!"
Giles was there, suddenly in front of her, one arm outstretched to comfort her, the other holding a mug of tea.
She looked up, dazed. "Giles?"
The cockiness was gone, only fear remained in her eyes. He placed the tea on the table beside her bed and took her hands. She noticed abstractedly that they were shaking.
Another blinding bolt of emotion hit her.
Giles clutched at her, desperate to save her from the agony he could see striking her. She moaned again, her eyes closing in a particularly painful memory.
It was all he could take. He had not meant to touch her, but in second he had wrapped his arms around her, pulling her into his chest.
He heard one word. "Tara."
Then the tears began.
Giles lay awake on Willow's bed staring at the face of the woman lying in his arms. Her sobs had subsided in the last ten minutes, and her exhausted breathing had slowed to deep even breaths, as she gave way to sweet sleep. He had to admit he was beginning to tire himself, having spent at least an hour cradling and soothing her as she relived the torments of her most recent history.
She stirred and mumbled in her sleep, and he automatically stroked her hair from her face, murmuring to her still body.
"Oh Willow, you don't know what you do to me. But I promise… I promise that I will try not to think of all that you said tonight. I know that you won't feel the same tomorrow and you don't have to worry that I will treat you any differently."
Her eyelashes flickered slightly and he leaned forward to catch her whispered words.
"Please… Rupert. Please, remember."
"Please don't forget all I said tonight. It's important. I do love you." She was mumbling and he couldn't help a smile at the earnestness of her voice.
"I love you too, Willow."
It was an instinctive response, out before he could help himself. In desperation he scanned her face for recognition of his words, but gratefully realised that she was thoroughly asleep once more. Yawning, he finally conceded to the waves of sleep surrounding him, cuddling down to the slight redhead with more than a shade of pleasure.
The morning sunlight streamed through Willow's unclosed curtains, highlighting the occupants on the bed. Willow awoke with a start, her head full and fuzzy. She felt an unexpected warm muscular arm encircling her waist and looked down with surprise. She only needed a second to recognise it as being Giles'.
The events of the previous night began to slowly shift into clarity as she tried to make sense of why the tall ex-Watcher was lying so comfortably beside her. She turned in his embrace, to absorb his sleeping face. At once she recalled everything and her heart plummeted in shame.
Her voice was unintentionally loud. Giles' eyes fluttered open prettily before resting on her face with drowsy contentment. Just as his arm pulled her tighter with reflexive affection, he was too struck with the recollection of where he was and with whom and froze.
"Willow." His voice was guarded, unsure of her reaction.
She instantly flushed in response to his voice. She didn't know what she was expecting, but the sound of him saying her name conjured up even more emotions than she was already experiencing.
He immediately released her, backing away. "Nothing happened, Willow, it's ok."
She stared at him, dazed.
"I'll make tea. Take your time to get up. Don't worry about last night, consider it forgotten."
He wished he could sound more authoritative, that the sight of the tousled redhead didn't affect him so much. With almost desperate movements, he slid off the bed and made for the door.
Her eyes were still on him, unreadable but intense. She managed a small nod, and he slipped through the door, exhaling deeply.
Willow took a few seconds before she too walked to the door. Placing one palm on the wood, she leaned against it, trying to figure out why his statement of indifference had hurt so much. She remembered the jealousy she had felt when thinking of him with another woman, the exhilaration of teasing him about his feelings for her, their split-second kiss… Oh, the kiss! A pool of heat formed in her tummy as she replayed it, considering the moment he let her tangle her fingers into his curled hair and pull his lips to meet hers.
"My God," she breathed to herself. "I'm in love with Giles."
But it wasn't Giles anymore, she amended. It was Rupert. It had been since he had returned to Sunnydale, with all his force to challenge her. He had proved he was more than just a stuffy librarian or a middle-aged shopkeeper. Not just a Watcher but a powerful sorcerer in his own right, he was the only man who could ever match her or influence her now. She sighed with pleasurable acquiescence.
"I'm in love with Rupert."
The man in question was not making tea at all. Indeed, tea was the last thing on his busy mind. Only one thing was occupying his thoughts and that was the redhead he had just woken up next to.
How could he have let himself lie next to her? He should have extricated himself long before she awoke! He paced across the kitchen floor unhappily. How could either of them put the previous night's events behind them if it was still with them in the morning?
Here he gave a wry laugh. "How can I ever forget last night anyway!?"
A little more thought. "Do I really want to?"
She had told him she loved him. More than once. And he had reciprocated, with no untruthfulness. She was right; when she had reached inside him to take his magick, she had formed a new bond between them. It was no longer little Willow and responsible Giles. It was something different. He didn't know how long he could deny it and he honestly didn't know how much longer he wanted to.
She had bewitched him without any use of spells. In her he saw the same drive for knowledge and awareness of the world as he had himself. But she was stronger than him, more than his equal both magically and emotionally. She had matured so quickly to deal with both Oz's leaving and Tara's death and he wanted her to have more than just another broken heart. He wanted to give her everything he was capable of, to cherish her and have her as his own.
He just found it hard to believe that she could still want him.
Having resolved her heart, Willow skipped happily to the bathroom. Whilst brushing her teeth, she thought of kissing Giles again – no, kissing Rupert, she smiled. Showering, she let her imagination conjure up pleasant images of them together, resisting the blushes that would usually accompany them.
She wanted him, she wanted him, she wanted him. And she was going to get him!
Giles sipped tea slowly. He was trying not to let his mind dwell on her until he knew where he stood. He could hear the shower being used and he tried to ignore the pictures his head was creating of her half-dressed body spread across his bed. It was no use, he could envision her mischievous emerald eyes raking him over and smiling at him.
He was going to have to have a shower in a minute. A very, very cold one, in fact.
They met just outside the bathroom door. Giles clad in boxers and a t-shirt, Willow hugging a towel around her. There was a hesitant moment of awkwardness, as each of them tried desperately to think of something to say.
‘Why don't those wonderful movie moments of just falling into each other's arms happen in real life?' Willow lamented silently.
‘Why could she not be wearing something safe like a bulky anorak?' Giles speculated with more than a little concern for his thin boxer shorts and what they could not easily conceal.
"So… last night," Willow ventured.
Giles smiled politely. "Last night."
The blush was inevitable for both of them.
"Have you had a chance to think about any of the things I said?" Willow managed with some effort.
Giles swallowed. She had done her part, it was up to him now.
"Um… yes. In fact, it's rather been all I have thought about."
She lowered her head, unsure of what to expect.
"Willow, you know how I feel about you. Do you need me to tell you?"
Her heart stopped for a second. She could hear the plea in his voice, don't make me say it aloud, not yet, but couldn't help herself.
His hand was suddenly on her hair, running through it, pulling her head back to face him. He was very much closer than he had been a few seconds previously, the practised moves of experience, she supposed.
But there was not much time left for thoughts. Giles was slowly, exquisitely moving his head down towards her. As she met his eyes, there was no struggle to suppress it.
"I love you Rupert."
He let his mouth drift down to kiss her once. As he lifted his head, he murmured back. "I love you Willow."
This kiss was long and intense, the execution of all they had felt for each other over the preceding twenty-four hours. When Willow finally broke off, she stroked his face with increasing wonder. He reached around to kiss her fingers with a small smile on his lips.
"Are you sure its not too soon for you, sweetheart?"
She tilted his chin down again towards her, eyes sparkling with a joy that had finally returned to her. "The only thing you should be worried about, Rupert… is that it's been an awful long time since I was with a guy. Do you think you'll be able to remind me?"
He couldn't help the laugh that bubbled up inside him. The object of his fantasies, his closest friend, his soul mate had suddenly become known to him, and become his within a day.
"I think I can handle you, Willow." He gave her a wicked grin. "At least, I think we can handle each other…"
Their speech lowered and lessened as he led her through to his bedroom, where finally, the candles were lit and the lovers claimed each other.
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