Rating/Warnings: Soft R for mild sexual reference
Timeline/Spoilers: An Alternate Reality S3 - goes off-canon at 'Homecoming': Willow and Xander never have their 'fluke'
Length: 1,862 words
Written for: The Giles/Willow Ficathon
Disclaimer: They're not mine. I just like to take them out and play with them sometimes.
A/N: Thanks & hugs to for the beta!
Feedback: Yes please!
She couldn't really have said when it began. She thought that might have been because it never really did; for her, it was always there. She'd never been the swooning romantic type - that wasn't really an option for girls like her - but she saw him, and her life changed. Not grand romance, not fairytale - just simple fact.
And it grew. Little, incidental things - the sound of his voice, a certain look, a light touch of his hand on her arm or her shoulder - became larger, more deliberate things: finding any excuse to be alone with him, dreaming of him, touching herself with his name on her lips.
She knew it couldn't happen. Infatuated she would own up to, but stupid? Never. Giles loved her, sure - but he loved her in the way he loved all of them. The way he loved Buffy; fatherly, protective, distant. He didn't love her the way she wanted him to - the way she loved him. He couldn't. There was the age thing, the mentor-student thing, the Important Sacred Duty thing - plus, of course, the whole this-is-just-plain-old-Willow-we're-talking-about-here thing. But it was okay. She dealt. Unrequited love was her specialty, after all. She'd been practising since she was five years old, she had to be world-class by now. Willow Rosenberg, Olympic gold medallist in Wanting What You Can't Have.
So they went on, and fought together, and saved the world together, and she loved him. And she learned to live with that. She'd done a pretty good job, she thought, all things considered.
She might not have known when it began, but she knew when it changed.
She hadn't been sure about sending Buffy and Cordelia off together in the first place - and now they were late, and she was worried. So she'd gone to the library to see if Giles had heard anything and yes, if she was honest, to maybe snatch five seconds alone with him.
He'd turned around when he heard her enter his office, and whatever he'd been about to say seemed to die on his lips. He'd looked at her - looked at her for so long she'd started to wonder if she'd made some kind of terrible screw-up with her make-up or her hair. Or her dress - was there something wrong with her dress? She backed up, flustered, but he wasn't looking at her like there was something wrong. He was looking at her as if, for the first time, he was seeing her - she was familiar with his every expression, and this was new.
And oh, that look was doing things to her. Hot, liquid things. Things that made a good Jewish girl feel like she needed to go to confession.
By the time he blinked again, it was gone - she could almost see the process going on in his mind: analysis, understanding and finally refusal. Could see him telling himself no. But it was too late - she'd seen and she'd understood.
She kissed him for the first time then; savouring the reality of his lips on hers, the feel of his hands on her skin. The reality that this was Giles in her arms, Giles's body pressed against hers, and he wanted her, he really wanted her, Willow, that her dream was real, what she'd waited for so long had finally - had finally -
But of course she hadn't waited, had she? The truth was that there was another reality, and it was called Oz.
She'd pulled away, and seen her own feelings reflected so clearly in his eyes; passion, shock and a kind of desperate longing. They'd both stammered something incoherent that might have been an apology, avoided each other's eyes and promised, silently and aloud, that nothing like that would ever happen again.
And of course, they'd lied.
It burned her. All the time, everywhere she went, it burned her. Love for Giles, love for Oz - which was real? Which was right? She wanted them both, was that so wrong? But of course, she knew the answer to that question - and that knowledge burned fiercest of all.
In ways that only she knew, she was hurting them. It had to stop. It had to.
She had to make it stop.
So she gathered her ingredients, and she took them to the source - the library, where she'd first seen him, and where he'd first seen her. Where she could no longer go without touching him - or wanting to.
She lit candles and began to mix the incense, trying to memorise the words of the spell.
"Willow, what - what are you doing?"
She jumped, spilling the finely ground powder over her skirt, and scrambled to her feet. "Giles! What are you doing here? It's three o'clock in the morning." She swallowed. "And yeah, I guess that kind of cuts both ways and so yes, I suppose it means you could ask me the same question. And I do, naturally, have a good reason to be here with the - the candles and the stuff. And I'll be explaining that reason right now. You see, I - uh - "
"- was trying to, uh - "
"Willow. I know what you were trying to do."
"- research the, the - huh? You do?"
"I recognise a love spell when I see it, Willow. Or rather, a de-love spell."
Oh. She looked away. "I just - I can't stand this, you know? I had to - to do something. I thought - if I could just stop the way I feel, I could - I could - "
He stepped up to her and took her chin in his hands, forcing her to look at him. "Willow. You can't turn feelings on and off with magic. Well, you can - but it doesn't solve anything. Not in the long run."
She began to cry silently, and he wiped away a tear with his thumb. "These feelings are natural, Willow. You have to - "
"Well I don't like natural! I - I don't want it! I want nice, easy, unnatural, feelings. Safe feelings that mean I can be just like everyone else and - and stop hurting all the time."
He pulled her to him, and she went into his arms without thought or hesitation. Her head rested against his chest, and his hand lightly stroked her hair. Natural. Yes, this felt natural. Felt right. But it wasn't - was it?
She lifted her head away, dabbing at the damp patch her tears had left on his shirt. "I made you all wet," she said, her voice breaking.
He smiled gently. "I know. It doesn't matter." He leaned back slightly, so that he could look directly into her eyes. "Willow. I'm here for you, no matter what. No matter what you decide to do. I lo-"
She began to cry again. "No! No, Giles, please. I want you to - to hate me, to tell me I'm bad and horrible and - and too young for you, and - and stupid, and a bad witch. I want you to tell me to go away, and leave you alone."
He looked at her steadily. "Do you?"
She swiped ineffectually at her eyes. Why on Earth had she bothered trying to wear mascara? "No," she said miserably. "Oh, Giles. I don't know what to do, I don't know what I think, I don't know what I want."
"Well - there might be something - "
She looked at him with wide, beseeching eyes, and he sighed. "It won't fix anything, Willow. I need you to understand that. It won't change anything. But it might help you to understand - to understand yourself."
"What is it, Giles?"
He looked down at the brightly burning candles. "A spell. It's quite straightforward, quite easy to perform - if you really want it."
He looked back at her. "The truth. The spell shows you what's in your heart. It won't help you decide what to do, but it'll help you see."
Willow wiped her face and took a deep breath. Did she want to see what was in her heart? Yes - yes, she had to. One way or the other, she had to know.
"Show me," she said.
They sat cross-legged on the floor, knees almost touching. The candlelight played across the angles of his face, blurred slightly by the incense smoke. She repeated the words he chanted, their voices rising and falling together in a soothing rhythm. After a few minutes she became aware that the sound had stopped, and her eyes had begun to close. Was this part of the spell? She should ask Giles. Open her eyes, form the words; how hard could that be?
Harder than she'd thought, evidently. Her eyelids were too heavy, she couldn't raise them.
But she could still see.
Could see Oz, smiling at her in that way he had; the way that made her feel like she was something more than just good old Willow, one of the boys. That she was special. Oz. Dear, sweet, wonderful Oz.
Dimly, she was aware of tears forming in her eyes again, fighting to escape from under her closed lids. She loved Oz, she honestly did. She didn't want to hurt him.
Oh, but then there was Giles. Automatically, her stomach tightened at the sight of him. Tightened into that delicious, excited knot that sent hot lines of pleasure snaking down between her legs.
"What do you want, Willow?" he said, and she couldn't tell whether the words were real or just in her head.
She didn't answer; couldn't. What did she want? So much; so much that wasn't possible. She wanted Giles. Wanted to be with him, to love him, to touch him.
Hot - so hot. She was panting slightly, the smoky air feeling cool as it slipped between her heated lips. She was burning, the lower half of her body turning into something that felt slow and heavy and heated with a kind of primal, unstoppable force. So much pressure building within her, consuming her, filling her with fire. She leaned backwards, her spine arching. So much fire, so much need. She needed - she needed to be touched, held, caressed. She needed hands on her body, touching her skin, feeding the fire. She wanted to be filled, stretched, released.
She threw her head back and cried out wordlessly as the fire burned its way through her body. And when it was over and she came back to herself, trembling and weak, the smoke had cleared. In the room, and in her mind.
She knew what she had to do. It wouldn't be easy, but then that was how things had to be, sometimes. You had to make the hard choices, and live with the harder consequences. She thought maybe that was what she had been supposed to see.
Again, Giles asked her: "What do you want, Willow?"
And again she didn't answer.
This time, she showed him.