Title: You Could Have It So Much Better
Author: velvet_midnight
Fandom: BtVS
Character/Pairing: Willow/Giles
Summary: AU tag at the beginning of Primeval (s4). What if Willow was alone when she showed up at Giles' house?
Notes: Just a small “what if” that plagued me. Title from a Franz Ferdinand song.

Willow knocked on the delicately decorated door, her nerves still crying out in shock & pain. She really wished she'd taken Tara up on her offer for company; she could really use a comforting friend. But, no, she had to pretend she was alright. She'd put Tara through so much anyways—not on purpose! She thought quickly—and after last night, she was worried about how things stood with the now-disparate Scoobies, especially after the whole Tara-girlfriend thing. Going to Giles' to pick up the discs alone was the smart idea.

Or so she thought until the door opened. Giles leaned against the doorframe awkwardly, holding his neck and squinting into the brightness. He'd obviously just woken up; his hair was mussed and his bathrobe gaped open at the chest. Willow tried to keep her eyes trained on his face, her old feelings still stirred up from seeing him sing a month ago. He noticed her eyes flicking between his eyes and lower and looked down.

“Ah, hello, Willow ,” he said softly, folding his arm over his chest. She felt her cheeks heat up to match her hair in hue and suddenly she was fifteen-year-old Willow Rosenberg, student and geek extraordinaire again. Dammit. She met his eyes and saw the tired hurt he hid. He was going through the same thing she and Xander were. Except, no, Xander and Buffy had talked about her and Tara; they'd said she was just going through a phase, a trendy phase. She and Giles were going through the same thing; not Xander or Buffy.

“I'm sorry,” Giles coughed quietly. “Was there something you needed?”

“Oh, right,” she said. “Sorry. I just came to get my laptop and the discs. Kinda important, y'know.”

“Yes, I know.” He stepped back to let her pass and she smelled the alcohol and vomit. Okay, not so sexy , she thought, and blushed ever deeper as she caught sight of clothes hanging over the staircase and her mind wandered. She busied herself with getting her stuff when she noticed a soft cover book pinned underneath papers and other books. The word “Harlequin” peeked from under the messily-arranged clutter on Giles' desk. She grinned, unable to stop herself from picking it up.

“Giles,” she said slowly, giggling. She saw him wince at her high-pitched snicker as she turned around; he stared helplessly as she held the book up, dangling it in front of him. “You didn't tell me you liked Harlequin romances. We can book swap now!” She grinned gleefully, enjoying his utter discomfort.

“That's not actually mine, you know,” he argued, rubbing the back of his neck. In his agitated and sick state, his accent wore off a little, so that his normal Giles accent mixed with what Buffy had told her was his “Ripper” voice. His nice, soft voice acquired a harsh, husky tone. Willow shivered, shaking her head and trying to blink the feeling away; it was strange to have her body react to him like that. Oz and Tara had been the only ones. But now, this subtly-sexy and smart man had changed; their dynamic had changed; she was no longer his student and he was no longer a school administrator, off-limits and distant. He looked her in the eye and everything prickled, that pins and needles feeling in her fingers, all the way up to her heart. She was a schoolgirl with a crush again. Except their eye contact lasted much longer and was infused with a certain layer of intensity that hadn't been there when she was younger.

“It's Olivia's. She leaves them here sometimes.” He looked away, around the room, down at himself. He folded his arms over his chest tighter. Olivia. Right. How silly of her. Olivia's book. Giles' girlfriend's book. Giles' gorgeous, British, intelligent, sexy woman. Her fiery high fizzled and she felt sheepish and very, very young.

“Oh,” she said. She coughed, aware of how much emotion went into that one word. “Well, that makes sense. Tell her she has good taste.” She smiled, turning back to her laptop and busying herself with it. Giles snorted.

“She has absolutely rubbish taste, but I'll tell her what you said.” His accent was a little more controlled, but still tinged with the repressed Ripper, and she smiled to herself. Subtly sarcastic Giles was no longer new to her; if anything, she found comfort and amusement in his comments.

There was a silence as she stalled, checking her laptop and fiddling. After the third time checking it the discs were still there, she realized she was being stupid and irrational. She sighed and turned around, ready to say goodbye. Giles was leaning against the counter, staring at her with a confused, thoughtful expression. His arms were folded again, but loosely, his robe falling aside and allowing her a view of skin. His expression was still intense as she turned to face him and she found herself blushing again. He'd never looked at her like that; she'd only seen him use that look on Ms. Calendar, or, occasionally, after the fiasco with Ethan and the band candy, Buffy's mom. It was almost appraising, as if he were running through all the pros and cons of Willow in his head; it was half wistful, as if he were missing his youth; and it was just a bit predatory, as if the Ripper, the devious bad boy, was peering out through those eyes.

Giles shook his head quickly, coughing discreetly. Willow noticed a tinge on his skin; he was blushing, too.

“Uh, well, I should probably,” she nodded at the door. Giles rose from his lounging position, back to the proper, stuffy librarian she knew.

“Right. Well, good luck.”

“Thanks. I'll, you know, call you when it's done.”

“Good, good. The sooner we can learn anything more about Adam, the sooner we can destroy him.” He sighed and put a hand to his forehead. “I, for one, will sleep better when Adam is no more.”

“And without the drinky-drinky, too,” she said before she could stop herself. She inhaled sharply as she realized what she'd said and winced, looking up at Giles sheepishly. “Sorry.”

“No, no, you're right,” he said tiredly, pinching the bridge of his nose. “Uh, anyway,” he coughed slightly, “you'll, you'll call when you have something?”

“Of course,” she said brightly, trying to shake off her attraction to this hungover version of Giles. But that didn't work so well as he opened his eyes again, the green piercing and quietly intense, quietly pleading. There was a moment of contact, eyes touching spirits, and Willow nearly dropped her very expensive laptop.

“Willow,” he murmured and the husky Ripper voice was back. She shivered, heat filling places that weren't already chilled. She stepped towards him, unwillingly, as if in a trance.

And suddenly, she was kissing him and he was holding her and kissing her back and it was very, very wrong but very, very nice. He tasted tangy, leftover alcohol drops on his tongue, but exactly how she imagined, British, with a tart, almost cigarette taste. He was Giles, Rupert with a little bit of Ripper, and he was a man; he was the third male person she had kissed but the first man. His hands tightened around her waist, on her back, and fingers trilled up and down her side.

And then, just as suddenly, he released her and backed up against the counter. She opened his eyes, missing his heat, wondering if she had gone too far. He was staring at her, scared. Whether he was scared of her or scared of himself, she wasn't sure.

“Olivia,” he said hoarsely, closing his eyes. Willow's stomach felt all weird and liquid-y and she mentally kicked herself for not only forgetting Giles' Olivia but also Tara. When she was kissing him, she had forgotten her girlfriend. Oh, she was a bad, bad person.

“I'm a bad, bad man,” he muttered to himself, his thoughts on the same track as hers. There was silence, awkward and sad, and Willow cleared her throat to avoid a longer silence, one that couldn't be filled with random sayings or non sequitors

“Well, uh, I should—get going…” she gestured to the door.

“Right, right,” Giles said distractedly, avoiding eye contact.

“I'll ring you later,” she said quietly, absently picking up one of his British slangs.

“You do that,” he smiled a bit. She walked away, determinedly not looking back.


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