J&PG "The Conference"
Author: Robin2 ( firstname.lastname@example.org )
Summary: Giles and Willow are finally together but someone's trying to tear them apart.
Disclaimer: All characters from BtVS belong to Joss Whedon.
Note: To Q.
Disclaimer:All characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer belong to Joss Whedon and Fox. I'm using them for my own pleasure. And that totally came out wrong. I'm (obviously) making no money from this. It's just my way of havin' a little fun
They stood at the sink together, her rinsing lettuce and Giles generally being a nuisance ... but in a good way. Willow put the leaves in the colander and then flicked the excess water that clung to her hands at Giles. He ducked, raised a brow and then smirked.
"When you least expect it," he warned.
She laughed and flicked him again, daring him.
"You won't know when," Giles continued and dodged yet another sprinkle of water. "You won't know where...."
"Listen to Mr. Pop Culture," she teased.
Goddess, but she loved this, the normalcy of it all. Just a couple preparing dinner, sharing a bottle of wine, talking about their perspective day.... Her thoughts trailed into a happy closed mouth smile. This was exactly what she'd needed after the day she'd had.
Giles let go of his empty threats and headed full tilt into the battle he and Buffy had had with a particularly disgusting demon. Willow grabbed a tomato and let his voice work its magic. She almost laughed. Who'd have thought that listening to her man talk about the particulars of slaying a Vertali demon would have counted in her book as normal... or soothing?
She paused mid-dice and smiled up at him, loving how he talked faster when he was excited, pleased to see the light in his eyes. He grabbed a carrot from the chopping block and re-enacted the Vertali's final moment.
"... but it's not the heart that kills it.... It's the " he paused, surveyed the salad fixings and then cleared his throat and lowered the carrot. "Well, if I say it now I will never again bring myself to eat eggs. But rest assured that particular weakness hasn't been chronicled before today. More wine?"
Willow nodded though her glass was still half-full, hoping he'd keep talking. Listening to the rich intonation and inflections of his voice pushed her work worries to the back of her mind. In fact, she could be content to hear him read the table of the elements... or binary code... or anything as long as it kept her from worrying about her upcoming presentation or the cranky mood James had caught. She felt the frown just as Giles noticed it.
"Something wrong?" he asked. She saw the subtle shift in his expression as he switched from fun Giles into watcher mode. Willow shook her head.
"Very long day with a very grumpy man," she explained and then sliced the egg. "Lots of tears today."
"Tears?" Giles asked after a short pause. His tone darkened and she didn't have to look up to feel his scowl. "Someone made you cry?"
She hurried to reassure him. "Not me, but one of the technicians sort of... messed up and James sorta... went off on her... or so I heard."
"He made a woman cry," Giles repeated. "You heard him yell?"
Willow put her knife into the sink and wiped her hands on the hand towel. She didn't like where this was heading. There was no love lost between the two men, that was for sure. Which was fine, except for... when it wasn't. Like right now, when they'd had the whole romantic preparing dinner together vibe happening
"I just heard some technicians talking about it," she clarified as she reached for a bowl. "It's been kinda stressful with the conference coming up, so... maybe... you know... they were both... on edge?"
Giles shook his head and pursed his lips. He grabbed the lettuce from the colander and started ripping it. Willow cringed as the irritation rolled from him.
"I didn't get the whole story... just people talking. A-and we all know how reliable that is," she tried to smooth.
"He's never... gone off on you, has he?" Giles asked. He took the chopping board from her and carelessly brushed its contents in with the lettuce. Willow saw him struggle to hold his temper and searched for a way to lighten the mood.
"I've never forgotten to make a back up," she shrugged and then frowned. "Except for that one time in college... and I didn't really forget, it was a bad disc."
She pulled the salad tongs from the utensil caddy and handed them to him. "Everyone's kinda tense with this conference coming up this weekend. Besides, knowing James, I'm sure she has a room full of flowers by now "
"Yes," Giles said tersely. He jabbed the salad tongs in the bowl. "Buying forgiveness is an excellent way to make problems disappear." He started to take their dinner into the dining room but stopped just as quickly and put his hands to his hips. "I don't like him, Willow."
"It was just a bad day. I-it's in the rules somewhere that people are entitled to at least one bad day a year," she teased. Willow grabbed the wine bottle and tiptoed to kiss his cheek. There'd been enough tension at work, there didn't need to be any of it brought home. "Let's eat."
"You would tell me if he ever... went off on you... wouldn't you?" he asked.
Willow raised her eyebrow in a challenge and backed through the door. "If anything I couldn't handle ever came up you'd be the first person I'd call. But I think I can handle an ill-tempered boss. Anya does it all the time."
She got in her dig and then fled for the safety of the dining room hoping Giles would follow and forget he was upset. She got as far as the table and had set down the wine when strong hands around her waist told her that he had followed. His hot moist lips on her neck told her that she was forgiven. A warm thrill went through her as Giles ran his hands up her rib cage and stopped just below the curve of her breasts before turning her to face him. Willow hung her hands loosely over his shoulders as he nibbled and sucked at the sensitive skin at the crux of her neck and shoulder.
"You're feeling rather cheeky tonight, aren't you?" he growled between assaults.
Willow shivered and rolled her head to the side. This was good. This was very good. Much better than talking about whatshisname...and... oh, yeah, there... Giles knew just where to touch her. "Hmmm?" was all she could manage as her knees nearly gave way and then she was hugging air.
"Huh?" The whimper escaped her lips and she blinked away her haze. When she finally found Giles again he sat at the table and popped a cherry tomato in his mouth. A very definite smirk played on his face as he chewed.
"Hungry?" he asked.
Their cries of release surrounded them as Giles's revenge ended. He dropped his head to Willow's shoulder and savored the delectable and fleeting sensation of being free of his body. If payback were always that sweet he'd have no problems with people who stirred trouble. As long as people was Willow.
She giggled and stretched lazily beneath him. "All that for a little splash of water?"
"And the insult," Giles reminded her. He lifted himself to his elbows and shifted his weight to the side loving how she pouted at their separation. He caught her full lower lip between his teeth, gave it a slight tug, and then kissed her soundly. "And for the record, it's Anya who makes me cry."
She laughed again and he pulled her into him as he rolled them to the side. He wrapped his hand around her shoulder and kissed her temple as happiness filled him. Willow filled him. She comforted his soul tormented his body and made him feel more alive than he had felt in... he sighed... forever, and suddenly he wanted very much to make the them they'd become permanent. Marry me, he wanted to say, but held his tongue. When he proposed he wanted the luxury of holding his fiancé the entire weekend not have to kiss her goodbye tomorrow morning knowing full well he was sending her off to dine with the wolves. Or wolf. Or stuffed shirt Pillock.
"What are your plans while I'm away?" Willow asked. Bright big eyes shone up at him and Giles had to kiss her again.
Plans. The first would be to have his grandmother's heirloom ring sent to him UPS. Or, maybe Willow would prefer something new? In that case his time would be better served going from jeweler to jeweler. Or she might actually have a specific ring in mind. Perhaps if he asked Buffy Giles shook himself, amazed at how easily his bachelor mind had accepted his decision. Then he grinned. He had in his arms the woman he intended to marry. It felt exceptional.
"That wasn't supposed to be a difficult question," Willow teased and scraped her nails lightly across his chest in random patterns.
"Sorry," he apologized and then cleared his throat as his excitement stirred. "This weekend? Thought I'd knock about. Do some more research on the Vertali, " his mouth twitched. "Maybe make a few calls to England. Pine away without you here to make life grand."
"I'll be back Monday morning," she reminded him. "No need to pine. You should be pine free. Pine less. Without pine." Her expression brightened and she pushed away from him and sat up, completely immodest, completely innocent, and completely naked. His arousal did more than stir. "I could see if James would give me a few days off next week and you and I could go to the wine country or hug some big trees or whatever "
Giles sighed. It sounded wonderful, it truly did. Just as it had last week when he'd thought of it. Unfortunately, he'd promised Anya the week off to do whatever debaucherous things she and Xander would do on vacation. He sighed again and rolled to his back. No doubt she would tell him all about it.
"I've already given Anya the week off or I would," he explained. "Besides," he said and pinned her to the floor. He lowered his lips and kissed the rise of her breast. "I have you exactly where I want you right now."
Giles lifted his hand in a final wave and stood at the walkway until Willow's cab was out of site. Though he wanted to be melancholy at the separation he couldn't be. He had a ring to buy and a perfect night to plan. He'd made the decision last night and then reaffirmed it this morning as he'd watched her sleep.
No one else had completed him the way Willow did. No one had even come close. He'd held back a part of himself always, but he couldn't with her. She knew him who he was and who he wasn't. Giles smiled and snagged his keys from the counter and humming a Frampton favorite, left his flat in pursuit of a ring.
Willow tugged on her night shirt and flopped across the hotel bed glad to finally be away from the noise of the hotel lounge. The first two hours had been fun, celebrating her successful presentation, schmoozing with her colleagues. She had colleagues. Willow giggled at that thought and reached for the phone. As the night had progressed from 'yea, Willow' to yea, another round of shots', she'd begged off and welcomed the silence of her hotel room. And cable. They weren't home enough to have cable, so this was definitely a treat. Discovery channel here she came.
But first, she wanted to call Giles. He would have been so proud of her today. She'd made with the joke thing, done the slide and overhead thing... and people had actually listened. A lazy smile spread across her face as the voice she wanted to hear picked up the line.
"Is this the world renowned Miss Rosenberg?" he teased his accent soft and warm. Homesickness settled in and Willow rolled to her back and wound the phone around her fingers as they chatted. Nearly an hour passed before they said their good-byes and Willow rested the phone on her chest and slowly eased out from under the warm cocoon that his soothing voice had spun. She didn't know just how many more times she could fall in love with the man already it was a record once sometimes twice a day.
Finally she put the phone back on the nightstand, snagged the remote and rolled to her belly. The Discovery Channel awaited. Half an hour into Tattoos: Beauty, Art and Pain a solid rap sounded at her door. Willow glanced at the clock and frowned. It was well past midnight.
"Just a minute," she called and threw aside the covers exposing her bare legs to the air-conditioned room. Her sweat pants were somewhere... bathroom or suitcase? The knocking became a bit more insistent as she rooted through her clothes. Triumphant she pulled the tattered and favorite sweats from the bag and stepped into them as she tripped to the door.
She tugged her Kiss the Librarian nightshirt farther down her knees and tiptoed to peek through the peephole. James waved. He knocked again and this time called out her name. Willow sighed and unlatched the lock before her neighbors had a chance to complain. She crossed her arms over her chest and peeked around the door. Small chested or not being braless around your boss was disconcerting.
"Everything okay?" she asked.
James pulled a bottle from behind his back and smiled. His entire demeanor loose, much more than what she'd come to expect. "I thought we'd celebrate," he said. "Let me in?"
"It's kinda late," she said. "A-and we celebrated in the lounge. Remember? Yea, us?" She lifted her eyebrows and nodded. "And you don't drink, remember?"
"Tonight's different," he said and leaned against the doorframe. "Just one drink. One toast and then I'll leave. Promise."
Willow hesitated but then relented and stepped away. One toast, one drink, and then he'd leave. That wasn't so bad. Besides, for all he'd done for her, she could at least do this for him.
"The-there's cups in the bathroom..." she said but James was already two steps ahead of her. "Make yourself at home," Willow said under her breath. She sank to the edge of her mattress and pressed her hands between her knees as she waited. Giles would not like this... at all... but... her thoughts rushed ahead, but it was James and she trusted him. Plus it was only one drink.
He came from the bathroom, plastic cups full and balanced in one hand and half-empty bottle of wine in the other. He held the cups out to her and Willow stood and took one. James made a grand flourish of putting the bottle on the nightstand and then turned back to her. He flipped his bangs and cleared his throat.
"To us," he said. "We make a helluva team."
Willow nodded and raised her cup. That was a nice safe toast and true. They did work well together.
"And to J&PG, Inc " he continued. Willow stopped short. Poor form to drink before the toast was finished. "- a helluva company."
Willow nodded again and tried to drink again.
She rolled her eyes. This could take all night. Geez, drink already, she thought but covered it with a smile.
"- to you. Willow."
Willow felt the blush crawl up her neck and lowered her head demurely. Okay... he didn't have to finish just yet. She had worked her bottom off.
"-you're not only a helluvan assistant who goes above and beyond the call of duty, you're intelligent " his voice lowered noticeably and Willow looked up not sure she liked where this was going. "You're beautiful, and sexy as hell."
Oh, boy, Willow thought. Oh, boy, she thought again.
Her voice squeaked and she took a step away. Any suspicions that he was already drunk were laid to rest. "Y-y- you've been celebrating a lot tonight, haven't you?"
James swallowed his drink and dropped the cup to the bedspread. Willow saw the dregs seep into her bedspread and then she looked back to James. This was so not good.
"We should go to bed," she said and then scrambled to clarify. "In our own rooms. Far, far away from each other."
James closed in on her and put his hand to her cheek. She smelled the sweet and sour remnants of the wine coming off his breath. "Sweet Willow," he said.
She shook her head and took another step away. "Not so sweet, really," she faltered. "I- I've got a terrible temper." There had to be a way out of this without losing her job and to save James some dignity. He was drunk and would hate himself tomorrow. She felt the chair press into the back of her knees. "Ask Giles," she said. "I'm... really... really cranky in the morning."
His eyes darkened and he rested his hands on her shoulders. "I'd love to find out," he murmured and then all Willow saw was puckered lips and closed eyes.
Willow twisted from his hold barely avoiding his kiss and stepped aside. She held her hands up in front of her.
"Okay, James," she breathed. "You're kinda drunk... very kinda drunk. Let's just think about this -"
His grip cut her off. "Oh," he assured her. "I've thought about it. Many, many nights."
"I've got a boyfriend," Willow stammered as she tried to squirm from his hold. His fingers dug into her flesh. This was no longer worrisome. She felt full-blown panic brewing in her stomach. "You're hurting me."
"But you like it rough," he rasped. She flinched as James stroked his finger past the nearly invisible mark Giles had given her. "Don't you?"
"No," Willow started but he cut her off with a hard kiss. Bone ground against bone as the pressure forced her lips apart and teeth met. He let go of her arms and held her head still against his.
With a terrified grunt Willow shoved James away and then without thinking, infuriated by his smirk, she pulled her fist back and let it go. She wasn't raised on a hellmouth for nothing.
James swore and stumbled back a few steps grabbing his eye. Willow wiped her mouth with the back of her hand, adrenaline making her breath come in gasps. She crossed one arm over her chest and pointed a shaking finger toward the door.
"You need to leave," she managed.
"No way," James said. He pulled his hand from his eye and checked it for blood. A predatory grin spread across his sharp features. He crossed the space she'd put between them and grabbed her again, this time pining her arms to her side. "The fun's just starting."
He jerked Willow against his chest and kissed her again, this time shoving his tongue past her teeth. Stuck with no other option Willow clamped her teeth down and drove her bare foot down on his. This was not going to happen. The response from him was instant and painful. Willow flew from his hold and stars exploded behind her eyes as the back of his hand met with her cheek. She cried out again as her back met with the corner of what she guessed to be the dresser. James loomed over her.
The incantation was out of her mouth before she realized it and James flew back and slammed solidly into the wall. He slid down and landed on the floor with a thud. Willow scrambled to her feet, grabbed her purse and ran.
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