I'll Be
Author: M. Jade
Summary: Giles writes in his journal
Rating: U
If you have comments or suggestions, email me at jaderozegirl@yahoo.com
Spoilers: All things up to “Restless” are fair game
Feedback: Don't make me beg, cause it's not a pretty sight
Distribution: My site, Strange Brew, Bite Me…Please?, slayerette.org, anyone who asks
Notes: Based on and inspired by Edwin McCain's beautiful song, “I'll be”
More Notes: {  } denotes song lyrics
Dedication: To Andrea, whose bad summer is felt by all who miss her

I never would have realized it before.  I was too much of a blind mug when it came to her, and so I wasted all those years, looking on and never realizing how I felt about her.  I've watched her grow from a shy young teenager to a tremendously strong young woman, and I had no idea how I felt about it.  I hadn't a bloody clue that I've been in love with Willow the whole time.

I've spent the past three years telling myself that all I felt for her is friendship, respect, or any other appropriate emotion to cover up what I really felt.  I can still vividly recall the first day she stepped into my library, those three short years ago.  Her goodness and inner strength seemed to radiate off her like a beacon, and I was drawn to it almost immediately.  The first thing that struck me were her eyes.

{The strands in your eyes}
{That color them wonderful}
{Stop me and steal my breath}

They were so deep, so brilliantly green.  I could have lost myself in them from that moment.  That should have been my first clue.  It was the first sign, but I had already placed that thin veil of excuse around her, trying to keep myself from the truth for fear of it.  Lying to myself in an effort to spare my fragile ego, afraid that if it were true and she would ever find out, she would reject me and I would never see her again.  It was a bloody foolish reason to do so, but I hid it none the less.

{Emeralds from mountains}
{Thrust towards the sky}
{Never revealing their depth}

There's so much beyond that fragile exterior of hers.  I could tell from the beginning that there was more to her than what meets the eye.  Willow was belylyingly stronger and far more keen than she looked, and I learned early on to appreciate that from her.  I also learned to appreciate her sense of loyalty and her outright courage.  There was so much she had hidden before, never having a reason to reveal her true self before she met Buffy.

It was the Slayer who brought out at inner strength and beauty from her.  Being part of the group, Willow felt needed and as if she belonged here with us.  More to the point, she fit quite well into the scheme of things on the Hellmouth.  Willow has always been the type who is willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done, and she could always be counted on to be there when Buffy or I needed her.  I never told her how special and unique that was, or how special it made her for doing so.  I couldn't tell her how fond of her I had become.

{And tell me that we belong together}
{Dress it up with the trappings of love}

I loved her from the beginning.  I'm sure of that now, but I had so many reasons to keep it so hidden in my heart.  First there was the fact that she was underage as well as one of my students.  Then there was Jenny, my darling gypsy, but alas, that relationship seemed doomed from the start.  Then there was Oz the Wonderful, boyfriend extraordinaire.  The bloody prat treated her like she was the blasted universe itself.  As it turned out, he really was too perfect, but that bit of bitterness is beyond the point now.

I could have taken my chance after he left. Willow was so hurt and lonely, and I wanted do to nothing more than comfort the poor thing after that.  I could barely stand to see the melancholy look in her eyes, and I wanted to thoroughly thrash Oz for doing that to her, but I kept my bloody mouth shut.  I was still far too afraid that she wouldn't accept me, that she would think I was some middle-aged git lusting after some nubile teenage girl.  God, that makes me sound worse than Xander, doesn't it?

{I'll be captivated}
{I'll hang from your lips}
{Instead of the gallows}
{Of heartache that hang from above}

All she need say is one word, and she has my attention.  The mere thought of her is enough to keep me from my work at any time.  I can't count how many times I've been distracted by her presence or thought, but I've spent all this time learning how to hide it, how to keep those emotions Willow incited tucked deep in my heart.  Even if she did set the poor thing to racing, I believed it was well worth it just to ensure that she stayed near me and held some kind of place in my life.  Oh, Lord, how I know now just how wrong I was.

{I'll be your crying shoulder}
{I'll be love suicide}
{I'll be better when I'm older}
{I'll be the greatest fan of your life}

So I looked on as Willow grew up before our eyes, finding more reasons to love her as the days wore on.  She never seemed to stop surprising me with how fast she could grow, how much more at ease with herself she could become.  It's amazing how she's eased into herself, and I was there to witness it as it happened.  The whole blasted time, all I could think about were her wonderful eyes and what I wouldn't do to see them happy while trying to keep my growing attraction to her in line for fear of losing it all.

I allowed those mixed emotions to swirl around in my heart for so long, they liked to have overwhelmed me at times.  When I first met Jenny, the first thought I had was how remarkably like Willow she was.  All the wonderful things I had seen in the sweet hacker seemed to shine in my dear Jenny as well.  It never occurred to me that that very thing could be the reason I was attracted to her in the first place.  She was simply more accessible then Willow, so I turned to Jenny and she became the substitute for what I couldn't have.

{Rain falls angry on the tin roof}
{As we lie awake in my bed}

That's not to say that I didn't love Jenny, I did in my own way and I know she loved me.  I only mean that the original reason that I was with her was simply because I couldn't be with Willow.  A part of me was strangely aware of it, but I stayed with Jenny at any rate, and our love did blossom eventually.  We had a few all-to-brief moments together, and those moments with Jenny are something I will cherish forever.  I liked to have died myself when I found her that night, but I can't bring Jenny back, and I've always had my Willow.

{You're my survival}
{You're my living proof}
{My love is alive and not dead}

Willow, to me, symbolizes all that I have spent my life fighting for.  Her soul is more pure than any other I had ever encountered before, and she keeps reminding me of the good fight.  My love for her was what kept me afloat in all the chaos that we found surrounding us in those early days.  Angel's turning, Jenny's death, Buffy's bolting; the one thing that remained steadfast through the turmoil was Willow and her strength.

I nearly left Sunnydale after Jenny died.  I was so close to leaving it all behind me convinced that I had given up enough of my life to my damned destiny.  The only thing that kept me here was the thought that if I left, I may very well have never seen Willow again.  I wouldn't see her bright smile, her radiant eyes, or to hear her kind words.  So I told myself that I was being a friend, that a friend would never abandon another at a time like that and I stayed.  I was too damned blind and too damned British to tell myself the real reason why.  I was too in love to let her go.

{Tell me that we belong together}
{Dress it up with the trappings of love}
{I'll be captivated}
{I'll hang from your lips}
{Instead of the gallows}
{Of heartache that hang from above}

It wasn't until recently that I realized how much of a mug I really am.  It was the dream that I had about the first Slayer that did it for me.  In that moment, I realized that Olivia could never be what I wanted, no matter how much I told myself she could be.  She's far too detached from my world to understand it, and it hurts me to see that, but it is the truth.  I'm not sure she could ever accept what goes on here, and for there to be any hope for us at all, she has to.

Willow, however, is a different story.  She knows how the Hellmouth works, and she understands what my job calls for.  Willow comprehends my being a Watcher and the Hellmouth itself in a way that Olivia never could, in a way that Olivia never had a chance to.  Willow is just as involved as I am, and that makes all the difference.  In my dream, she even called me ‘Rupert'.  It was my own way of telling myself just how intimately I had come to think of her.

{I'll be your crying shoulder}
{I'll be love suicide}
{I'll be better when I'm older}
{And I'll be the greatest fan of your life}

And now there's Tara.  I come to my bloody senses in time to see her fall in love all over again.  I would never begrudge Willow any amount of happiness or whatever method she goes about to find it, but I have to say that it's a bugger of a deal to see them together.  It hurts me more than I can say to miss yet another chance to be with her, and to have to look on has someone else reflects that love in her eyes that I can't.

{I've dropped out, burned up}
{Fought my way back from the dead}

It seems that my experience with Willow has been nothing more than a series of disappointments.  I appear to be doomed to be the friend who looks on as she lives her life forever, and I'm not sure how much longer I can hold on.  I keep telling myself that it can't last forever, that there will be a day for us, that I will get that chance, but how much longer must I wait?  I've been to the brink once before, and I hold no intentions of ever going back.

{Tuned in, turned on}
{Remembered the thing that you said}

Every time I falter, Willow gives me a reason to hold on.  It may be the look in her eye, or the softness of her voice, or simply a smile.  Some small assurance that my hopes aren't all misplaced.  She was the one who was there for me when I lost Jenny.  It was Willow's spirit that kept me afloat in my grief.  For that time, she was my reason for being, and she still is.  The thing that comforts me the most is what she told us the night Buffy, Xander and I thought she had died: “I love you guys, too.”  No matter what capacity that it is in, it helps to know that it's there.

{I'll be your crying shoulder}
{I'll be love suicide}
{I'll be better when I'm older}
{I'll be the greatest fan of your life}
{The greatest fan of your life}

I don't even know how I would tell Willow if I had the chance.  Would I dare to admit to all the dreams, the times I've slipped and nearly told her?  How could I even begin to explain what she means to me?  The closest I've come is this song.  It seems to mirror my thoughts.  All the feelings that swirl about when Willow is around.  I would be whatever she asks of me, friend or otherwise.  I won't say which I prefer, but I'll take what I can get.  And ‘fan' definitely describes how I feel about her.

I came very close to telling her.  I had listened to the song incessantly for three days straight once, and had finally broke down and recorded it myself with some old recording equipment I've kept well hidden.  I even went so far as to label the cassette case ‘For Willow', intending to break the ice with the song.  I changed my bloody mind at the last minute, though, and never gave it to her.  I simply put it away in my…oh, dear.

Now I can't find the blasted thing.  I've looked all over this apartment and it still hasn't show up.  Bloody hell, if the wrong person hears that tape…


Giles was interrupted by a knock at the door.  He slapped his journal closed and laid it down on the desk.  He opened the door to find Willow standing on the porch, giving him a soft smile.  “Come, come in,” he offered and moved to the side to let her in.

“Thanks, Giles,” she greeted him and walked into the living room.  The room had various papers and books strewn about, a leftover reminder of his search for the missing cassette earlier.  “Have you been cleaning,” she asked, looking back at him with a grin.  Giles blushed deeply.  If she only knew what he thought about that blouse…

“Somewhat.  I seemed to have misplaced something and I haven't had a chance to tidy up after myself.  Is there so-something that you needed?”  She gave him another smile and walked over to him.

“I just wanted to give you a message.”  Giles swallowed hard as she come nearer to him.

“Wha-what would that be?” he asked tentatively.  God, he could practically reach out and touch her…  She leaned in and whispered in his ear.

“I'll be.”


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