Summary: In an AU S2, Willow and Giles fall in love and embark on a secret affair.
Author Notes: Thanks to Lovesbitca, Diva Stardust, and Juliet DeMarcus for their encouragement on this fic.
Story Notes: The title comes from the Elvis Costello song "Little Savage."
Disclaimer: Joss said to write fanfic.
At first Willow didn't know where she was, only that Giles's arms were around her. Apparently she was hugging him, too. She glanced around - they were in the stacks. She and Giles were embracing in the stacks. For a moment she thought she was dreaming - she'd had this dream. She'd fantasized about it, too. (Okay, sometimes she was in the stacks with Xander in her fantasies, but a book-related daydream made more sense with Giles in it.)
For a moment she just stood there and basked in the feeling of Giles holding her. It was even better than she'd imagined, his body so warm and strong - although, in her fantasies, she hadn't felt disoriented.
Then she gave a start, because she truly couldn't remember how she got there. "Giles? What's going on?"
Instantly he pulled away, and she wished he hadn't. He held her at arms' length, his hands making her skin tingle. He looked overwrought, his eyes searching her face. "Willow, are you all right?"
"I...I think so. I don't remember how I got here. And..." She couldn't find the words to ask why he'd had his arms around her. "Did I pass out or something?"
He let go of her and took a few steps backward, his eyes never leaving her face. "No, not exactly."
Then he told her about the other Willow, the older one, from some future that wasn't necessarily theirs. She'd been sent here by Ethan Rayne and Amy (because in the future, Amy got into witchcraft like her mom), and Giles had helped to send that Willow home. He didn't go into much detail. He was usually much more elaborate in his exposition, and Willow got the feeling there was more to the story. She didn't press, though, because she felt so bewildered.
When they left the stacks, they found Buffy and Xander sitting at the library table. She and Giles sat down, and Giles told them what he'd told her.
"It's so freaky," Willow said. "One minute I'm sitting here with Giles, doing research on Spike - and then nothing, a blank, until now."
"Meanwhile two days pass," Xander said, "with that other Willow walking around passing herself off as you."
And where had she been in the meantime? It made her dizzy to contemplate. Maybe she hadn't even existed at all during those two days, which was a pretty scary thought.
Buffy turned to Giles. "Good going, not letting us in on it while that other Willow was here."
"Yeah," Xander said, "what's up with that?"
"It was her decision," Giles snapped - and then, more gently, "I'm sorry, but she didn't want the two of you to know. She felt sure you'd ask her about the future if you did."
"She was acting a little weird," Buffy said.
"Wow, Willow-From-the-Future," Xander said. "Giles, you're the one who spent the most time with her. What was she like?"
"Yeah, Giles," Willow said, "what was I - I mean, she - like?"
He looked at her, and his eyes widened. "She was...like you," he said. "She was you, Willow." A smile burst across his face, then faded.
"What did she tell you about the future?" Buffy asked.
He cleared his throat noisily. "Not much," he said, and darted a glance at Willow, then looked off into space. She wanted to ask what was up with him, but somehow she couldn't. She could still feel his arms around her. She didn't ever want to forget the way that felt.
In the days that followed, Giles couldn't help but think that perhaps Ethan, that older Ethan, had sent the older Willow here so that he would fall madly in love with a sixteen year old. "Ah, Ripper," he could hear him say, "not so pure and good after all, are you?"
And yet, and yet, nothing in his life had ever felt as pure and good as the way he felt about Willow. Which was not to say he didn't desire her. When the other Willow was here, he had held her and kissed her. He had made love to her. And now he still longed to touch her, but he didn't dare. He scarcely dared to look at her, much less tell her how he felt.
A few nights after the younger Willow's return, he was alone with her in the library, researching the Du Lac Cross. Buffy was in grave danger from the Order of Taraka, and he managed to focus on the task at hand, mostly by sitting alone in his office with his books. Finally he found a description of the missing Du Lac manuscript. When he went to tell Willow, he found her asleep at the computer, her head on the keyboard. She looked so young, so vulnerable. It was wrong for him to want anything from her.
He touched her slender shoulder - and remembered how she'd moaned at his touch, how she'd wanted him inside her even though it hurt her, how he'd held her afterwards.
"Willow," he said, jostling her shoulder just barely, and she woke with a start, babbling about tadpoles. How could he ever tell her what had happened? He was a poor excuse for a Watcher, allowing himself to dwell on such matters when his Slayer was in peril - but when Willow looked up at him with her huge, serious eyes, he was undone.
The next night, in the midst of the battle in the church, Willow jumped up on the back of the vampire Giles was fighting. Darling girl, he thought, looking up at her surprisingly fierce countenance. They staked the vampire together, he holding the creature steady, she driving the stake in. Then she helped to brush the dust from his clothes with her small hands that had touched him when they made love. There was fierce fighting, there was fire. And alongside those things, there was his love for this girl, insistent and quite possibly idiotic. It would not let him forget.
That night the agents of the Order of Taraka were vanquished, along with Spike and Drusilla. But the next day, Giles saw Willow walking down the hall with a slight boy, his arm in a sling. They shared a box of animal crackers. The boy wore a soft smile, which was mirrored on Willow's face.
She had mentioned him - Oz, the boy who saved her life, who threw himself in front of a bullet for her, for which Giles was deeply grateful. But it was Oz, who the other Willow had called "my first real boyfriend." He wanted to break this real boyfriend's good arm.
She wore braids - the braids that the other Willow had said made her look twelve - but she didn't look like a child to Giles anymore. It hurt too much to think he might already have lost his chance with her, because he hadn't done what the older Willow had advised and told her the truth. He felt sick with fear.
Before he could stop himself, he followed them down the hall and interrupted whatever nonsense the boy was spouting about monkeys and zoos.
"Willow," he said, and she turned.
"Hi, Giles," she said brightly. "Hey, have you met Oz? He's the guy who - " She glanced at Oz, who raised his eyebrows at her. "Oh, right. He's the guy who did something I'm not supposed to be grateful for."
"May I speak with you?" Giles blundered on. Oz's eyes flicked over him as if to say: I've got your number, you old letch - although it may well have been Giles's guilty conscience speaking.
Willow looked reluctant to leave the lad. "You go ahead," Oz said. "I'll talk to you later." They exchanged another melting smile that made his stomach knot up.
He and Willow walked to the library. "So what is it?" she asked. "Monsters? Because I was hoping we could have a day or two off from the monsters."
"Quite," he said. "That is - no, it's not monsters." They entered the library. Predictably, no one was there. But was he really going to talk to her here? What if someone walked in? Somehow he couldn't bring himself to ask her into his office. He didn't want to corner her, frighten her.
"So what is it, Giles?" She pulled off her backpack and set it on the floor.
"It's a matter of some..." He couldn't think of the word. Vampires made him considerably less nervous than this girl in the gray sweater, flowered skirt and sneakers. "A matter of some delicacy. It's about the older Willow."
"I knew it." She pulled up a chair and sat. "I knew there was something you weren't telling me. Because you've been looking at me kinda funny, ever since that day when I came back from wherever I was."
He sat across from her. "I haven't told anyone what I'm about to tell you. But if you feel the need to tell someone, I shan't stop you."
"Stop me? Giles, what are you talking about?" She gave him an indulgent smile. He was behaving like an idiot, but she was such a kind soul. She thought the best of him. How would she look at him when she knew?
"What I mean is, you can tell the others if you like - or we can keep it between us. It's entirely up to you." Notwithstanding the fact that if she did tell the others, Buffy would probably never speak to him again and Xander would likely threaten to kick his ass. Or vice versa, although Buffy might do rather more than threaten. But it would be wrong to swear her to secrecy.
"Go on," she said.
"The other Willow and I...we shared...certain experiences."
"What kind of experiences?"
"You see...she and I...not I, but another Giles, in their future..."
Her eyes widened. "Giles - just tell me! Is it really as bad as all that?"
"They were together. They were...a couple."
"Really?" He didn't think he'd ever seen her eyes go quite so wide before. Her mouth soon followed suit. Then she actually smiled, ever so slightly. "I feel kind of embarrassed, Giles."
"I'm sorry," he said. "I thought you had a right to know."
"Don't be sorry. I'm glad you told me. So is that it? That's the big secret - that in some alternate reality, a version of me and a version...of you..."
"I'm afraid there's more," he whispered.
She nodded. He thought he saw her swallow nervously.
"The other Willow and I. While she was here, we...became lovers."
She stared at him. She didn't seem frightened or angry - merely stunned. "Wow. Wow. I'm a fast worker, aren't I?" An attack of shyness seemed to hit her, and she stared down at the table. "That's why we were hugging in the stacks..." She looked at him again. "You actually...you liked me that much? I mean, not me, but..."
He hadn't expected that. "I did, Willow. I do." Slowly he leaned forward, and to his surprise, she didn't back away. "It wasn't just physical between us. I developed feelings for her. For you."
"For me?" she whispered. God, her eyes were so beautiful, so green.
Out with it. "I fell in love with her, you see. And that means that I'm...in love with you."
He heard her sharp intake of breath. "Giles, how is this possible?"
She was clearly appalled. He wished he could take it all back, unsay it.
But then her expression softened. "It's just, I'm not the kind of girl who gets fallen in love with on a regular basis. Or ever. But that you could feel that way about me..." She peered at him. "Maybe you're not in your right mind. Maybe you're under a spell or something. Or maybe...was she a lot different from me?"
That she didn't consider herself lovable made him ache for her. "She was more self-assured, more experienced. But she was you."
"But...you didn't have these feelings for me before you met her, right?"
"I would never have allowed myself to be open to the possibility, given the disparity of our ages."
"But I'm still sixteen."
He let out a great sigh. "And I'm feeling like a perverted old man. If she were here, she could explain why it isn't wrong for me to feel this way about you. I know this is all very selfish of me. It's just, when I saw you with Oz - "
She looked incredulous. "You're jealous of Oz? I barely know Oz. He did save my life, but - "
"The other Willow told me that Oz became your first boyfriend."
"Really." She smiled in spite of herself - that soft smile he'd seen her give Oz over the animal crackers. But when she saw Giles's face, the look vanished. "This really bothers you?"
"I know it's wrong," he said. "You should be with fellows your own age."
"You're jealous," she repeated. "That's...wow. No one's ever been jealous over me before. But Giles, why should I be with guys my own age? Buffy's dating a guy who's over two hundred."
"I should have waited. We're supposed to get married later, at least in her reality..."
She gripped the table's edge with both hands. "Married?"
"Maybe I shouldn't be telling you any of this. Perhaps, years from now, it all would have unfolded naturally, the way it did for her and that other Giles."
"We got married?"
"I know this all must be a tremendous shock. I should have waited - "
"Would you quit saying that?" Her eyes flashed. "Maybe I don't want to wait. Did you ever think about that? You may not have noticed, but my life is all about the waiting. Waiting for Xander to notice me, waiting for my first kiss, waiting for someone to want me. And now you do...want me...and you're the most wonderful person it could possibly be, and I'm supposed to wait years to do anything about it? I say enough with the waiting, Giles. I've already been waiting for what feels like forever."
It took a few moments for her words to sink in. "You really think I'm...the most wonderful person it could possibly..." He couldn't help but smile.
"Of course I do, Giles," she said, and gave him a smile that made that other smile she'd given Oz look shabby indeed.
"Willow, are you saying that you would actually want..."
"Yes," she said, "that's what I'm saying. Notwithstanding the fact I think I might pass out right now, I'm so nervous."
He reached across the table and placed his hand lightly on hers. "Willow, please don't pass out," he murmured. "I'm nervous, as well."
"Really?" There was an adorable little crinkle between her eyes. "Maybe we can be nervous together?"
Just then the library doors opened, and Giles pulled his hand away. Buffy and Xander came in. "Hi guys," Willow said in a tiny voice.
"Time for class, Will," Buffy said. "What are you doing in here? You're gonna be late."
"Maybe she decided to wise up and start cutting class like the more sophisticated members of the student body," Xander said.
Willow started to laugh rather hysterically. Giles felt like joining in, but managed not to.
"I didn't think it was that funny," Xander said.
Buffy scrutinized her. "Have you been abusing the caffeine again, Will?"
She laughed again. "It makes me...nervous." She stole a glance at Giles, and a smile spread across her face. Then she steeled herself, made herself frown. He was having a hard time not grinning like a loon.
Willow jumped up. "Bye, Giles," she said, attempting to sound casual.
"Goodbye, Willow," he said, attempting to do the same.
Once the three of them had trooped off to class, he sat for a long while. You're the most wonderful person it could possibly be, she'd said. He couldn't stop smiling.
After school let out that day, Giles was in his office having a cup of tea, when she appeared in the doorway.
He nearly upset his cup and saucer. "Willow, I thought you'd gone home."
She looked tense, apprehensive. She entered the room and shut the door. She stopped, thought a moment - then, to his astonishment, she turned the lock. She looked up at the window, crossed to it and closed the blinds. Whatever it was she was doing, she was doing it thoroughly.
"Willow?" His heart was pounding.
She stood there watching him. "Giles, do you want to kiss me?"
He opened his mouth, but no words came out. He wanted so much to kiss her sweet, grave face, but it seemed wrong even to acknowledge the wish.
She took a step towards him, then another, until she stood before him. "What I mean is, I would like it if you would. I'd like it if you'd kiss me."
Christ, she was so brave. His whole body seemed to hold its breath. He reached up to caress the side of her face, her bright hair. Her eyes lit expectantly, she leaned towards him, and they kissed softly.
It surprised him how much she kissed like her older self. She kissed him as if she knew him very well. He had thought the other Willow kissed him that way because she'd married him, but when this girl pressed her lips to his, she made him feel known and loved just the same way.
She pulled back slightly, her eyes soft and full of wonder, her lips curved gently upwards. They kissed again, her arms around his neck.
Then she straightened up, gazing at him as if he were the most marvelous being in the world. "Giles, what happens next?"
"That's entirely up to you." At the moment, he felt replete. She cared for him, she had kissed him. He didn't need to think about what happened next.
"But surely you must want something from me." She sounded almost disappointed.
"I don't want anything that you're not ready to give." I want to make you happy, he thought. I want to make you feel loved. Somehow he knew that wasn't what she was talking about.
"It's going to take me a little time to adjust," she said. "To be ready to...do anything." She shifted from foot to sneakered foot.
"We don't have to do anything, Willow. You don't have to worry about that." Meanwhile a voice inside him was screaming: Are you insane? Of course you want her.
"But I want to...do things with you, Giles. I just need to work up to it. I mean, you've already done all this stuff with the other Willow. I feel like I need to catch up."
"Listen to me," he said, and took her hand in his. "I love you. Just being here with you, right now, is more than I could've hoped for."
She smiled. "I think maybe you could hope for a little more than that." It took him a moment to realize she was flirting with him. He squeezed her hand, and her eyes twinkled. She was delighted by all of this. She was a little scared, too, but then, so was he - more than a little, truth be told.
"So am I to understand, by your little subterfuge here," he said, and indicated the closed blinds, "that you intend to keep this between us?"
"Well, it's really no one else's business," she said. "And besides, you could get in trouble. With the school, and maybe my parents. Plus, Buffy and Xander wouldn't understand, even though Angel is way older than you."
"That's kind of you to say, but compared to Angel, I'm rather the worse for wear."
"That's not true." She held his hand tightly. "You're not the worse for wear. If anything, you're the better for wear. You're so handsome, I can barely stand to look at you right now, thinking how we might..." She stared into his eyes then as if hypnotized, and they reached for each other.
This time the kiss took them over. She half-sprawled on him, his arms around her keeping her from falling as their mouths met again and again. By the time they came up for air, she was sitting on his lap, looking at him with a dazed expression. "Wow," she said. "That was..."
"I love you," he breathed, and stroked her hair.
"Please don't feel you need to respond in kind," he said. "I don't expect - "
"Shush," she said, and put a finger to his lips. "I've always been at least a little bit in love with you, ever since I met you. So you see, I'm way ahead of you." And she kissed him again, a sweet, resolute kiss.
Perhaps he was selfish, perhaps he was a perverted old man. But joy rang through him. She loved him. He knew he could never turn his back on this, not now.
It wasn't like Willow to daydream in class, but she couldn't help herself these days. She gloated a bit in computer class, thinking how dumb Miss Calendar had been to let Giles go, and how happy she was that Giles was hers now. But it also bugged her, thinking about how Miss Calendar had gone out with Giles. Before all this had happened, it had been kind of fun to see Giles all flustered and awkward around Miss Calendar, and then to see him happy with her, because Willow loved Giles and wanted him to be happy. But now it irked her to remember how much he'd seemed to like Miss Calendar. Willow watched her, so dark and pretty - so much prettier than she was.
Still, all she had to do to wash away that icky jealous feeling was to replay Giles kissing her. It was on an endless loop these days, when she wasn't with him - memories of her and Giles kissing in the stacks, in his office. A couple of nights ago she'd gone to his place for the first time, and at first she'd been nervous, but then they kissed on the sofa, and listened to old LPs from his record collection. He held her, and they talked for a long time. They talked about what it was like to grow up in England, and what it was like to grow up in Sunnydale, and what books they loved. He told her how much he loved her, and how beautiful she was, and how he wanted to make her happy. Then they kissed some more. Giles was such a wonderful kisser.
When the bell rang and the door opened, Giles was standing there, as if her daydreams had conjured him. Love surged through her, and she fought the urge to wave wildly at him. He walked towards her, against the flood of students making for the door. He was trying to keep a lid on his smile. Giles had the sweetest smile. "Hello," he said in a melty tone. Then he put on his public voice. "Willow, I was wondering if you might have some time to help me with that cross-referencing project."
Willow didn't think she'd ever be able to hear the word cross-referencing again without getting all excited. "Sure," she said. "I have some time right now."
"Great," he said, and there was that smile again, irrepressible.
All the other students had gone, but there was still someone else in the classroom. "Hello, Rupert," Miss Calendar said in a dour tone.
He turned. "Hello, Jenny. How have you been?"
"All right." Miss Calendar glanced at Willow as if she should give them some privacy. Miss Calendar wanted to talk to Giles. And there was nothing Willow could do about it.
Giles turned to her, looking supremely uncomfortable. "I'll be along in a minute," he said.
Feeling jealous and miserable, but her heart racing at the prospect of being alone with him, she went to the library and into the stacks, to their special spot, the secluded place where it had begun between them. The place where he'd kissed the other Willow and told her he loved her, the place where she'd come back and found herself in his arms. Now it was their place.
She didn't have to wait long. "That was a nice surprise, you coming to find me in class," she said. "Pretty bold, Mister."
"I couldn't wait to see you." He took her in his arms and kissed her. Life was wonderful.
Still, she couldn't get that nagging question out of her mind. "What did Miss Calendar want?"
"She thought my showing up to ask for your help was a ruse to see her. I believe she called it 'a flimsy excuse.'"
"As if!" But Willow wasn't feeling all that secure. "As if, right?"
"What? Oh, of course," he said. "I feel badly about what happened to her - it was my fault, after all, and I'm concerned about how she's getting on. But on a more personal level, I honestly haven't given her a second thought since..." He gave Willow an adoring look.
She touched his cheek. "Doesn't that make you kind of fickle?" She grinned.
"I'll show you fickle," he growled, and pulled her closer. It thrilled her when he took that tone with her. He kissed her roughly. She liked it when he did that, too. She wondered, though, if he'd ever kissed Miss Calendar that way.
He pulled back and smiled at her, but then his eyebrows crinkled. "What are you thinking about?"
"Sometimes I wish everyone knew about us. I sure wish everyone knew you were spoken for."
"Likewise. I've seen the way Oz looks at you."
"That's not the same thing." Oz was nice - she liked him. She had the feeling he would've been a good boyfriend. Plus, they could've had a more public relationship, which she craved. But she was so crazy about Giles, she wasn't even slightly tempted. "He may have been that other Willow's boyfriend, but to me he's just a friend friend. You actually dated Miss Calendar. How do I know you wouldn't go back to her, if she changed her mind?"
He thought for a moment. Then he gave her such a kiss, she felt it all the way down in her tiptoes. "That's how you know," he whispered in her ear.
"Oh...yes, that's pretty darn convincing..." He kissed his way down her neck. "Also convincing..."
Apparently he was convinced as well - she felt his erection pressing against her belly. It had been making regular appearances during their makeout sessions, but she still wasn't entirely comfortable with its presence. "Wow," she said, "it really is awfully big, isn't it?"
"Sorry," he said, backing up slightly with a sheepish look.
"No, I'm glad I have that effect on you." She cast her eyes downward for just a moment - that bulge in his trousers was big, all right. How on earth would it ever fit inside her? More and more she thought about going to bed with him, but the idea scared her a little. "I'm just sorry if you're all frustrated, Giles."
"Not at all," he said. "You make me so happy."
"You make me happy, too. But I think I'd be insulted if you weren't a little frustrated."
"Very well," he said. "I do want you, Willow. I want you all the time. But I want you in your own time." He gave her a more subdued kiss, then pulled a large tome from the shelves. "This will come in handy," he said, and held it over his crotch. She giggled, and reached up to wipe some stray lipstick from his mouth.
"By the way," she asked as they walked through the stacks, "how was patrol last night? You went with Buffy, right?"
"She seemed unusually...violent. I felt almost sorry for the vampires. She beat one to a pulp, before finally putting him out of his misery."
"That's because her mom has a new boyfriend, and she walked in on them kissing."
Suddenly Willow imagined what would happen if Buffy were to walk in on her and Giles kissing. "Are you thinking what I'm thinking?" she asked as they emerged from the stacks.
"Better Buffy's mother and her boyfriend than us?" he asked.
Better Buffy's mother and her boyfriend than us. Those words came back to Giles when he learned that Buffy had killed Ted. He wasn't sure if she would ever recover from the guilt of taking a human life. While Willow and the others investigated Ted to see if they could turn up anything that would help Buffy, he went patrolling. "Be careful," Willow told him, unable to hold him or kiss him because Xander and Cordelia were there.
"I will," he said, and left with his bag. But while he was making his rounds that night, who should accost him but Jenny Calendar. At that moment, he would have vastly preferred a vampire.
"I saw your car back there," Jenny said. "I wanted to apologize." She wanted to do more than just apologize. She said all the things he'd wanted to hear, before. She said she'd been too harsh, but she wanted to "give it another shot." She spoke with utter confidence that he would jump at the chance.
He couldn't quite remember what he ever saw in her. "Thank you," he said. "But I think it would be best if we left things the way they are."
"What?" She stared at him. "Are you serious?"
"I am. Jenny...I'm seeing someone."
She flinched. "Oh," she said. "I see. Well, you snooze, you lose."
"I'm sorry," he said. They stood in awkward silence. Giles's heart leapt with gratitude when a vampire came snarling through the bushes.
Later that night, Giles was in bed, not yet asleep, when the phone rang. It was Willow, telling him of the grisly remains they had found at Ted's home, and how Ted had turned out to be a robot.
"So you're all right? And Buffy, and everyone?"
"Everyone's fine. Big relief, huh?"
"It certainly is." He was lying on his side, facing the phone, his eyes closed so he could imagine he was facing Willow.
"And it's a big relief to me that you're okay," she said. "I was worried about you, patrolling all alone."
He smiled in the dark. "I only encountered one vampire. Oh, and Jenny turned up."
Giles moved the receiver slightly away from his ear. "She wanted to apologize for the way she'd behaved earlier today. And..." He braced himself. "She said she wanted to give us another try."
But this time Willow didn't raise her voice. "What did you tell her?" She sounded miserable, for all the world as if he were about to throw her over for Jenny.
"I said I wasn't interested, of course. I told her I was seeing someone."
He heard her sigh of relief. "You did? How did she take it?"
"She seemed to take it fairly well. Then she shot me with my crossbow."
"She what? Are you all right? It doesn't sound like she took it very well, Giles!"
"Willow, it was an accident. She was aiming for a vampire. She took me to the hospital. I'm fine."
"You poor thing! And...that bitch!"
Giles couldn't help but laugh.
"I'm sorry, but...that crossbow-wielding hussy, wanting to steal you away from me, and okay, she doesn't know about us, but still. And then she shot you!"
He imagined her indignant face, her flashing eyes. How he loved her. "Willow, I'm all right."
"I think I should come over tomorrow night and take care of you."
"I'd like that, but really I'm fine."
"Then why don't I come over tomorrow night and we can do...the other thing."
This was an unexpected turn. "The other...thing?"
Her voice grew thin and small. "You know."
He knew, all right, and he wanted her more every day. "Willow, much as I would love to, if you can't even say the words, I don't think you're ready."
"I'm ready. I'm good and ready!"
He turned onto his back, forgetting his injury, then stifled a groan and quickly resumed his former position. "Good and ready because of what Jenny said?"
"No, that isn't it." She paused. "Okay, so maybe that's it. But I don't want you to leave me!"
He wished very much that she were with him now, so he could hold her and prove to her how impossible his leaving her was. "Darling, I'm not going to leave you."
"But what if you decide I'm too young and can't give you what you want?"
"And what if you decide I'm far too old for you - which, by the way, I am - and I can't give you what you want?" He prayed that would never happen.
"But you give me exactly what I want, Giles."
"And so do you. Besides, in the other reality, I married you. Doesn't it stand to reason I'm not going to leave you?"
"In the other reality you fell in love with me when I was older and not a virgin. In fact, in this reality you fell in love with me when I was older and not a virgin, and knew all the stuff you liked."
She had him there. "It's true, I fell in love with the older Willow first, but the two of you are not so different. Mainly you're less self-confident, as witness this conversation. I love you. Being with her opened my eyes to how much I love you."
"So you're really not going to leave me for Miss Calendar, even though she's all sexy and experienced?" She put a slight sneer on the word "sexy."
"I'm not going to leave you for her or anyone."
"Even if I'm not ready to...to fully be with you yet?"
"Even if." Christ, even hearing her talk about not being ready for sex was making him hard.
She gave what sounded like a happy sigh. "Okay, done freaking out now."
"Can I still come over tomorrow night and tend to your wounds?" Her voice took on a sweet, soothing tone that lulled him in the dark.
"My wounds don't need tending, but your presence would be greatly appreciated."
"And Giles? I think I will be ready, soon."
"Soon?" The word made him feel lightheaded.
"And not because of Miss Calendar or anything like that - but because I love you so much, and I really want to be with you. I think about it a lot."
"I think about it too, sweetheart."
"I know you do. It makes me so happy that you think about me that way."
When her voice took on that intimate tone, it was almost as if she were in the bed with him. Almost.
Mr. Whitmore wrote the word SEX on the blackboard - as if Willow needed to be reminded. "The sex drive in the human animal is intense," he said. "How many of us have lost countless productive hours plagued by unwanted sexual thoughts and feelings?"
It occurred to Willow that her sexual thoughts and feelings weren't unwanted - they were thoroughly wanted. And she still managed to pull straight A's. But she wished she were making out with Giles right now. He was probably in the library. She could excuse herself to go to the bathroom and drag Giles into the stacks. No, she couldn't do that. Could she?
She pictured the look he got on his face when he touched her and kissed her - all dark and intent and sexy. Just thinking about it made her hot and wet between the legs. She always seemed to be wet these days, and she made herself come every night before she fell asleep. She had to.
"With all sorts of hormones surging through your bodies, compelling you to action," Mr. Whitmore said, "it's often difficult to remember that there are negative consequences to having sex. Would anyone care to offer one such consequence?"
For some reason Xander and Cordelia started babbling about sex in cars, halitosis, and god knows what. What was with them lately? They were fighting all the time. Why did Xander bother to engage her?
Saturday morning Willow had gone to the local clinic for her first gynecological exam, and started taking the Pill. She had a feeling she and Giles might start having sex before the pills even took effect. Luckily the clinic had given her condoms too. Things were getting pretty hot and heavy between them. A few days ago, in their secluded place in the stacks, he'd put his hand under her sweater, caressed her breasts and stroked her nipples through her bra. Only his tongue in her mouth kept her from moaning loudly.
The other day at his place, she'd gotten him to tell her about the time he had sex with the other Willow. In a way it made her feel as if she'd already had sex with him - but if it were possible to feel jealous of herself, she did.
After much hemming and hawing, he admitted they hadn't known if the older Willow's essence had been channeled into her body, or if her teenage appearance had been some sort of glamour. He looked so guilty saying this, as if she would think it a horrible thing if he'd had sex with the other Willow in her body, while she was off in the ether somewhere. And okay, maybe that would've been quite weird, but at least it would've spared her the physical pain of losing her virginity! Alas, she told him, her virginity was very much intact. (If she'd had any doubts about that, the sheer hell of the speculum exam would've put them to rest.) He was relieved. At least one of them was.
What on earth were Xander and Cordelia going on about? Mr. Whitmore seemed rather nonplussed. "Another consequence of sexual activity?" he asked.
Willow raised her hand, and he called on her. "How about pregnancy? That would be a major one, right?"
"Why do you all have eggs?" Giles asked them later in the library, when they were talking about the Gorch brothers.
"They're our babies," Willow said. "For health class."
"Indeed," Giles said, and a secret smile flickered across his face. She knew what he was thinking. Giles had told her that the other Willow and Giles were trying to start a family. She wondered if that Willow had gotten pregnant yet, and marveled at the notion. It was hard to imagine ever having children - her breakable little egg was all the responsibility she wanted right now. Yet it made her happy to think about the other Willow and Giles having a baby. Looking at Giles's face, she could tell it made him happy, too.
Of course those eggs turned out to be evil, making them into mindless drones for that big squishy thing in the basement that Buffy killed with a pickaxe. So much for the joys of parenthood. When they came back to themselves, all confused and dirty, Willow found out she'd even knocked out Xander, for which she felt extremely contrite. Giles looked as bewildered as she felt. She wanted so much to hold him. She didn't yet know exactly what had happened, only that their bodies and minds had been taken away, controlled. She needed to get herself back.
She sidled up to Giles. "Can I come over?"
He nodded. Poor Buffy was busy getting lectured by her mom, and Xander and Cordelia seemed to have already left school. With everyone else milling around, talking about the "gas leak," no one noticed when they got into his little silver car and drove off.
At Giles's house, they each took a shower to wash off the grime of their ordeal. He'd given her one of his shirts to put on, which she liked, and he put on a robe. It was the closest to naked they'd been around each other, and it gave her an expectant, keyed-up feeling. But she felt cozy, too, after the nice hot shower, her hair damp, her body clad in his big shirt. His hair was damp, too, and it made him look even more adorable.
He made a pot of tea, and they brought the tea things and some buttered toast upstairs to eat in bed. They'd made out on his bed before, but this felt different. They planned to have their snack, then take a nap, as both of them were exhausted, but suddenly Willow found herself neither hungry nor sleepy.
They drank a little tea, took a few bites of toast, and then they lay tangled on the bed, kissing, her leg over his. Soon she felt his erection pressing her through the robe, and when the shirt rode up, she didn't pull it back down. Her whole body felt heavy, full of blood.
Giles pulled back slightly to look at her. "Do you want to stop?"
She shook her head. "I want to do more with you."
He unbuttoned her shirt and opened it. "You're so beautiful," he said, "so exquisite." She fumbled with the belt of his robe. His body was so beautiful, it made her breath catch to look at him. Their mouths met, and then their bare skin met for the first time.
His skin felt so hot and good against her. His hands were all over her. She didn't think she'd ever been so excited. She reached inside his robe so she could stroke his back. His cock bumped against her belly, and she didn't dare look at it directly. Then she did look. Its size still disconcerted her - and yet it moved her. The fact that it was big and hard because of her made her proud.
His fingers played with her nipples, and he kissed her mouth, kissed her neck. She moaned. "Willow, may I touch you?"
"Yes...I want you to."
He eased her onto her back. His eyes on her were so soft. One hand flickering across her nipple, he reached between her legs, and she gasped. "I love you," he said.
"I love you, too," she managed to say as his fingers made delicious circles on her. She let her eyes close. She spread her legs for him, for his hand that was the whole world.
When he pressed a finger to her opening, she tensed up and opened her eyes.
He gazed down at her. "Sweetheart, try to relax. I'm not going to hurt you."
She took a shaky deep breath. He pushed his finger inside her. His big hand rubbed her, and his finger moved in and out. "Feels nice," she sighed.
"I'm hoping it's going to feel rather better than nice." Soon it did, much better. If he stopped, she would die, but he didn't, he kept going, just like that, just like that, and it was so much better than nice...
"Giles, I'm gonna..." She threw her head back, and pleasure blossomed violently in her.
When it ebbed, she looked at him, gently smiling. "My sweet darling," he whispered and bent to kiss her.
She put her arms around his neck and kissed him languorously. "That felt so good, Giles."
"I'm so glad."
He was still hard. "You must be...wanting to do that, too."
"I don't have to. Not if you aren't ready."
"I want to," she said. "Show me what you like."
He lay on his back, and she moved onto her side. He took her hand and placed it on him. The skin was smooth, and the tip was silky wet. He moved her hand up and down his length, paying particular attention to the head. Then he withdrew his hand.
She liked the feel of him. She loved how she could make his breath quicken, could make him moan when she squeezed him. She moved her hand faster.
"Yes..." he breathed.
She watched his face grow more and more agitated, watched him grow even larger in her hand. His head moved from side to side on the pillow as she stroked him fast and hard.
Giles cried out and spurted hot wetness on her hand, on his stomach. She felt such a surge of power - the power to give the man she loved immense pleasure.
He reached for a tissue on the nightstand, but she relished the wetness on her hand, a badge of honor. He wiped her clean, then himself. He pulled her close. "That felt so wonderful," he said and kissed her. "I love you, Willow."
"Giles, I love you." After wanting him for so long, this release felt like such grace, and such a relief, too. She gazed into his eyes. How she loved them, their indescribable shade of green. How she loved the way he looked at her. "Do you really think I'm exquisite?"
His rapt expression was her answer. He traced the line of her hip with his fingers. His eyelids began to droop.
"You look adorable when you're sleepy," she said, and kissed him. "I'm sleepy, too," she added, snuggling closer. They dozed off in each other's arms.
When they woke awhile later, they drank cold tea and ate cold toast, and grinned at each other.
He drove her home, and stopped the car a couple of blocks from her house so he could kiss the breath out of her. "Oh no," she said, "now I want you again."
He chuckled. "You may have me anytime you like."
"I wish I never had to leave you," she said.
"Someday..." he said, and held her tight.
Her phone started to ring the minute she walked into her bedroom. "Where've you been, Will? I've been calling you for a couple hours."
"Sorry, Buff. I was...taking a nap. You know, after being taken over by the...what's it called?"
"The mother bezoar," Buffy said helpfully.
"Right. Anyway, it took a lot out of me." She felt lousy for lying - but what was she going to say, I was busy giving Giles a handjob? Besides, it wasn't a complete lie - they had taken a nap. A half-naked, post-orgasmic kind of a nap, but still.
"So how are you, Buffy? It seemed like your mom was giving you a hard time."
"I'm so grounded. Plus Dawn's being supremely annoying. But I'm gonna see Angel tonight. He's going to come to me via the window, since I can't leave the house."
"That's pretty sneaky. Duplicity, thy name is Buffy." Pot, kettle, black, Willow thought. Yet when she thought about what had happened tonight, she knew it was completely worth it.
"Once you get to a certain point," Buffy said, "seizing is sort of inevitable."
"Wow," Willow said. "Wow." Then the bell rang.
They got up from the bench and walked together on the lawn. It sounded like Buffy was really going to have sex with Angel. Willow wondered if they'd done anything besides kiss, but it didn't sound like they had. It was hard to believe she was now more experienced than Buffy - what with all the things she and Giles had been doing in his bed every chance they got. She wished she could tell Buffy that her virginity loss was probably imminent as well. Instead she just said "Wow" again.
It was Buffy's birthday tomorrow. Everything seemed so exciting, and even simple - though Buffy's boyfriend was a vampire and hers was a secret. But Buffy and Angel loved each other, and so did she and Giles, and that made it simple. She was happy for Buffy, and for herself.
But then there was that business with the arm in the box at the surprise party, and things went downhill from there - way downhill. At first it seemed like Angel would have to leave town for a long time, and then he went missing, and Buffy was freaked.
Then, amid their research on the Judge, Willow turned a corner in the stacks and found Xander locking lips with Cordelia. Apparently she and Giles weren't the only ones with a secret. She just stood there, stunned.
They turned and saw her. "Willow..." Xander said.
"No," she said, "it's okay." She turned and walked out.
A few moments later, Xander followed her into the hall. "You really okay, Will?"
She nodded. Although, she thought, Cordelia? Eeeuwww.
He looked almost hurt. "I thought you might be more upset."
She would've been, if not for Giles. She would always love Xander, but any romantic feelings for him were long gone.
"Why aren't you freaked?" Xander asked. "I mean, I'm glad you're not. Or are you really freaked, and you're hiding it from me? Because you can tell me. We're best friends."
"What, do you want me to be freaked? I'm not happy it's Cordelia. But it's really not my business."
"It is that Oz guy? Is that why you're less freaked?" His dark eyes, that she used to find irresistible, searched her face. "I can tell he likes you - but I didn't get the feeling you were interested in him."
"That would be none of your business," Willow said.
Xander seemed oddly bereft. "Well," he said, "I'm glad you're okay with it."
How she wished she could tell him the truth - that she was in love with someone who loved her back. How she wished he could be happy for her, not flip out over who it was.
"Guess we better get back to work," she said. He nodded with a wounded look.
Not long after that, Angel had her by the throat.
Her life was flashing before her eyes, Xander and Buffy and Miss Calendar all trying to help her - although what was Miss Calendar doing here, and where was Giles? And in the midst of all this, Angel sniffed her neck, twice. Then he smiled at her, a truly terrifying smile. "Isn't that interesting?"
"What?" she squeaked.
"They don't know, do they?" He guffawed. "Don't know why I never noticed before. Maybe the soul blunted my senses. God, it's so obvious." He bent his head and sniffed her hair, her mouth. He tightened his grip on her throat. "He's all over you, little girl."
In that moment, she didn't care who heard. She might be about to die, and it all fell away. She was even glad that someone knew. She wanted everyone to know.
"Leave Willow alone, and deal with me," Buffy said. Next thing she knew, he'd let her go, and she was gasping for breath. No one seemed to have heard what Angel said.
It was all she could do, when they went into the library, not to throw herself into Giles's arms. When they told him what had happened, he went pale and put his hands on her shoulders. "Are you all right?" She nodded. For a moment she couldn't speak - if she did, she would start to cry. He gripped her shoulders, he gazed into her eyes. She glanced at everyone else. How could they not see?
But of course, they all had bigger fish to fry right now. "Some event must have triggered his transformation," Giles said. "If anyone would know, Buffy, it should be you." Willow saw Buffy's stricken face. She'd seized the day all right, and the sun had gone out.
Giles called after her as she ran from the library, but Willow turned to him and shook her head, and he fell silent. She didn't think he'd figured it out yet. When it came to Buffy, he could be pretty clueless at times.
Xander had some plan to deal with the Judge. "I think I need Cordelia for this one." His eyes flickered over Willow.
She found herself saying, "I'll get Oz. He has a van." She saw Giles flinch. Could she be any more insensitive? She lingered after Xander, Cordelia, and Miss Calendar took off (and it was a bit weird that Miss Calendar was hanging around, but she probably just wanted to help).
"Sorry. I'm sorry," she whispered. "I don't know why I said it. Maybe to throw Xander off track. You know, he and Cordelia are an item - and when I wasn't more upset, he wigged."
Giles just sat there and looked at her.
"Plus," she said, "Xander did say we need a bigger car."
"This isn't the time to split hairs about such things," he muttered. "We have more pressing matters."
"Are you mad at me?"
His expression softened, and he placed his hand on hers. "Willow, I'm so grateful you're all right. When I think that Angel could've hurt you..."
She felt tears welling up. "Listen, I haven't had a chance to tell you. I guess it's pretty minor, compared to Angel going evil and the Judge and all...but Angel - he knows about us." His eyes widened. "It's like he smelled you on me. He said something about it, but no one seemed to notice."
He gave a weary sigh. "As if we didn't already have enough to deal with."
"But the thing is...at the time, I just thought how stupid it was that we have to keep this a secret, when you mean more to me than anything. You know that, right? I'm completely in love with you. Xander, Oz - they're friends. It's just you, Giles."
He squeezed her hand, and his eyes glistened. "I love you. And I trust you. Go get Oz. We need all the help we can get."
"So," Oz said, "you and Giles?"
She was in Oz's van, outside the armory. "What about me and Giles?" God, did everybody know?
He gave her the tiniest of smiles. Oz had a nice smile, gentle yet ironic. "Don't worry," he said, "I won't tell anyone."
She realized then that she'd been holding her breath. She exhaled. "How'd you know?"
His gaze on her was steady. "I like you. So I pay attention. It's pretty obvious."
For some reason, that pleased her as much as it alarmed her. "You don't think the others know, do you?"
He shook his head. "They're too close to see it."
Just then it dawned on her that he'd said he liked her. He'd been the other Willow's first boyfriend, and she could feel something between them. Nothing was going to happen, but she felt it.
"Thanks," she said.
His brow scrunched. "For what?"
"For telling me. For keeping the secret. It's kinda nice to have one of my friends know about it, and not be all judgmental."
He nodded slightly. Then he looked past her, out the van window. "We're up."
Driving back to his house, Giles felt exhausted. He'd driven a distraught Buffy home and tried to say the right things to her. His mind was spinning. Angel was evil again, and Jenny, as it turned out, was a gypsy spy. At least the Judge was dead.
When he walked up to his front door, he found her sitting there waiting for him. His exhaustion lifted.
"How's Buffy?" Willow asked.
"Very upset...understandably." He helped her to her feet. "You shouldn't be out alone - it's too dangerous. Especially with Angel on the loose."
She held up a large wooden cross. "Here I am, your everyday run-of-the-mill Jewish girl with a crucifix."
He smiled. "A most extraordinary Jewish girl with a crucifix."
"I needed to be with you tonight," she said.
"I'm so glad you're here." He unlocked the door. When they stepped inside, she dropped her backpack on the floor and was in his arms before he could turn on the light. "I've wanted so much to hold you," he said. Then he did turn on the light. "How long can you stay?"
"How about all night?" She smiled up at him - a smile full of resolve. She was wearing overalls, and her hair was in braids. She looked just like the other Willow had, the day she arrived in his library.
He remembered how the older Willow said she couldn't stay the night with him. She wouldn't take the risk, for fear of causing trouble for this girl. But this girl was more than willing to take the risk, and it touched him deeply. "But Willow..."
"I brought a change of clothes. I already told my mom I might be studying all night again. Not that she particularly pays attention to what I say. The point is, I want to be with you tonight, Giles."
He stared at her. "You mean...?"
"But surely this is rather odd timing, given Buffy's..."
"Given what just happened with Buffy and Angel? I trust you, Giles. Assuming there are no stray gypsy curses on you, I think we'll be just fine." She hugged him. "Life is too short. I don't want to wait anymore to be with you."
All the horrors of the day receded. She felt so sweet in his arms. "You're sure?"
They were naked on his bed, kissing. She'd unbraided her hair, and he stroked it, stroked her body. "You're so beautiful," he murmured. "Willow, I need you." It was so good to be able to say it, to acknowledge how much he'd ached for her.
"I need you, too," she whispered. The words went like a shock through him, and he crushed his mouth against hers.
First he made her come with his hand. He loved how she moaned for him, how wet she got. He loved to feel her contracting around his finger. He loved the relaxed, sensual smile she wore afterwards.
He got a condom from the bedside table, as he knew she hadn't been on the Pill long enough. She watched him put it on, a bit shyly, but with her usual curiosity. "I still find it hard to believe it could possibly fit inside me."
"Believe me, sweetheart, this will very likely be the last time you ever wish me smaller."
The notion seemed to tickle her. "You mean I'll be all insatiable?"
He chuckled. "Something like that."
"I think I like the sound of that." It didn't sound half bad to him, either. He kissed her neck. "Giles, I'm nervous."
He put his arms around her. "We don't have to do this, if you're not ready."
"But I want to," she said. "No more waiting."
They kissed. Slowly, kissing her all the while, he got on top of her. Her arms went round him. But when he began to guide himself in, she tensed.
"Relax," he murmured. "I can't say this won't hurt, but I'll be as gentle as I can. Just tell me if you need me to stop."
She nodded, and he pushed in, just a little. Her face looked very set and still. He moved slowly inside her, trying not to go too deep, trying not to hurt her. She whimpered, and he stopped. "No," she said, "keep going. I want you to."
"But I don't want to hurt you."
"It's okay. I want to do this."
He began to move again. It was like heaven to be inside her. It was the same as that other time, with the other Willow, yet so different. As he stared into her eyes, he loved her completely, and he knew she loved him, knew she felt sure of his love, nervous though she was. He felt himself melting into her, his body, his soul.
"Willow, are you all right?" he whispered.
"Giles," she breathed, "I feel...so close to you."
"I love you so much..." He was pushing in deeper now, moving faster. It was building, deep inside him, the pleasure, his love for her, they were one and the same.
"I love you," she said, her arms around him. "Giles, I love you."
"Oh god, Willow..." It overtook him, and he shuddered again and again.
When he came back to himself, she was watching him with such tenderness. She touched his face, pulled him down to kiss her.
There was blood, like that other first time - but perhaps less. He cleaned her up, like that other time, but this time he didn't need to be asked to hold her.
She rested her head on his chest. "We did it," she said, smiling up at him. "I'm so happy, Giles."
"So am I, dearest." He couldn't stop looking at her sweet face with the red hair tousled around it. "You have no idea how much I've longed for you."
"You tried to play it cool so I wouldn't feel pressured," she said. "But I could tell. I've wanted you so much, too."
"Though I must say, I'm relieved I don't have to deflower you ever again."
She gave a laugh. "That makes two of us."
It wasn't late, but the events of the past days had begun to catch up with them. He turned out the light. He stroked her hair and listened to her breathing grow slow and even. He lay smiling in the dark while she slept. There were difficult times ahead, and yet he felt utterly at peace. He slept.
She woke as the darkness began to pale, and then it was like her birthday, the excitement of waking up beside Giles. They had shifted in their sleep so that he lay on his side, facing her back. She turned onto her back so she could watch him as it grew light. He looked so peaceful - happy, even - and so vulnerable in sleep that she felt protective of him. He was beautiful, and she loved him so much, she could barely contain it. And she wasn't a virgin anymore, and that made her even happier.
He sighed and turned onto his back. She nestled in the crook of his shoulder - moving slowly, so as not to wake him, though really she kind of wanted to. His eyelids fluttered, and his arm crept round her, but he went back to sleep. She buried her face in his chest and lay there, feeling warm and loved.
After awhile, he stirred and opened his eyes. When he saw her, his face lit with joy.
"Morning," she said.
"Good morning." He smiled that glorious smile of his and drew her into a kiss.
"So - still have your soul, I presume?" she asked.
"Ah, Willow," he said, and kissed her again, "if anything, I've regained it being with you."
She snuggled closer. "This is what Buffy should've had - waking up the next morning with her lover. It almost makes me feel guilty to be so happy." She kissed him. "But it also makes me feel even luckier, to have what we have."
"I love you, I love you," he said, and their kisses grew more urgent. She wanted him. She always wanted him.
They had made love side by side, facing each other. They had rested. Now they were in Giles's rather small shower. Willow loved how small the shower was. She was in love with Giles's wet skin - she had to be touching it and kissing it and rubbing up against him with her own wet body. His hands were all over her, too, and then his cock was rising again, and her hand was on it.
"You're going to wear me out," he said with a laugh.
"Got a problem with that?" She stroked him.
"None whatsoever. I'd like nothing better than to spend the entire day in bed with you."
"The whole week," she said, and squeezed him to punctuate the sentiment. He closed his eyes and let out a moan. She grinned. She was good at this.
He stilled her hand with his. "But as we can't," he said, "it would look awfully suspicious if both of us were late for school today."
"Then we'd better hurry up," she said, and squeezed him again.
He regarded her with astonishment. Then he smiled. "Somehow I'm unable to fault your logic." He removed his hand and let her have her way with him. She stroked him fast and hard until he spurted loops of white that went on down the drain. After he caught his breath, they hurriedly finished their ablutions.
Giles dried her with a fluffy towel. Then she noticed that he seemed to be concentrating on drying the area between her legs. After a minute or two of rubbing her, he pulled away the towel and put his hand there. "Still wet," he said. "In fact, it seems even wetter than before. I'd better rub it a little harder."
"Oh god," she gasped as he redoubled his efforts with the towel. She clutched at him so she wouldn't fall over.
"Maybe I should check again," he said, "to see if you're dry yet."
"Don't you dare stop..." she muttered, her fingers digging into his arms. His downright wicked smile as he rubbed her sent her over the edge.
Both of them weak-kneed, they dressed and went downstairs to breakfast on Weetabix.
Bespectacled again, he gazed at her as he chewed his cereal. "I've been thinking," he said. "I don't want you waiting outside in the dark again. It's too dangerous."
She felt a twinge. "Okay, but..."
He smiled. "I'd like to give you a key."
"And if you want to leave some things here...clothes, whatever you need..."
Her spoon clattered into the bowl. She threw her arms around him. "Giles, I love you, I love you." So lucky, she thought. I'm so lucky. How she wished Buffy could've been lucky too.
"It's good to get the fruit while it's fresh," said the man with the big gun, looking from Giles to Buffy.
"You'd be wise to take that back," Giles said. Good instincts, wrong girl, he thought. If he weren't out werewolf hunting with the Slayer, he'd likely be bringing Willow to a tumultuous orgasm right about now.
"Hey, what a man and a girl do in lovers' lane at night is nobody's - "
"Enough, repulsive brain," Buffy said, and for a moment Giles thought she was speaking to him, not the hunter. He could only imagine how repulsive she would find him if and when she found out what he'd been up to.
The next night, he and Buffy managed to capture the werewolf in the woods, before that pillock Cain could kill it. They brought the creature, heavily tranked, to the library and put him in the book cage. At sunrise, the fearsome creature reverted to human form.
"My god," Buffy said, "it's Oz." She averted her eyes. "And hey, nudity..."
"Poor fellow," Giles murmured. He opened the cage and draped a blanket over the slight figure. Poor fellow, he thought, you've lost Willow without even knowing she was supposed to be yours, and now you've lost any chance of having a normal life - well, whatever passes for normal on the Hellmouth.
"And here I thought Willow was missing a bet, not dating him," Buffy said. "Now I'm pretty glad she didn't."
"So am I," Giles said without thinking. He really needed to watch what he said when sleep-deprived.
Buffy glanced at him, but seemed to think nothing of it.
"Why don't you go on home," Giles said. "I'll talk to Oz when he awakens."
The older Willow had certainly never mentioned that her first real boyfriend was a werewolf. It seemed unlikely she hadn't known - although he supposed it was possible that in her reality, he wasn't one.
Well, he thought, as he waited for Oz to wake up, I may be much too old for Willow, but at least I'm not a werewolf. Still, he vowed to help the boy adjust to his new circumstances. Willow had told him that Oz had figured out they were involved, but had promised not to divulge their secret. Giles owed him for that.
When the boy awoke, he took in the situation with surprising grace. Wrapped in the blanket, he emerged from the cage, and Giles told him what had happened.
"That explains a lot," Oz said. "I've been losing time, waking up in strange places. Thought maybe I was going crazy...I guess crazy would be an improvement."
"So long as you lock yourself up the three nights a month, you should be able to lead your life relatively unchanged." That was hardly likely, but he didn't want to alarm him any more than he probably was. "You can use the book cage, if you like. We'll make sure you're all right."
Oz fixed him with a canny stare. "You're not helping me because you're afraid I'll tell about you and Willow? Because I won't, whether you help me or not."
Giles cleared his throat. "I appreciate that. And I'm grateful for your discretion. But I'm not trying to...buy your silence, as it were. I simply want to help." There was nothing simple about any of this. How would Oz react if he knew that Giles had in effect stolen his girlfriend?
"Thanks," Oz said. And then, as if he'd read his mind, he added, "You're a lucky guy."
Giles ducked his head. "I'm well aware of that." They lapsed into an awkward silence.
"So," Oz said, "maybe you could help me find some clothes?"
"Poor Oz," Willow said when they talked about it later.
"You like him, don't you?" Giles asked.
"He's nice. I can see how..." She trailed off.
"How you could've been involved with him?" She was silent. "It's all right - I just want to know."
"Giles, the older Willow dated Oz, and other people. Maybe they were all pretty terrific - but she ended up marrying you." She smiled. "The way I see it, I got to skip to the best part."
"Ah, you're so sweet, so good to me," he murmured, and kissed her.
Then, apropos of nothing, she said, "Valentine's Day is coming up."
"Valentine's Day?" He kissed her again. They were in their secluded place in the stacks - although, now that they were sleeping together, this semi-public spot had become rather an exercise in frustration. At least it was for him, uncomfortably hard half the time and longing to be inside her. Still, it was a joy to be with her, any way he could.
"It's just that, aside from little kid stuff, I've never had anyone to be my valentine before. Not that you have to be, if you think it's stupid or too commercialized or something." She looked up at him with those enormous, beautiful eyes.
"I don't think it's stupid at all, if it will make you happy," he said, racking his brain for what he could give her as a Valentine's present. He couldn't give her jewelry or anything like that, because she wouldn't be able to wear it in public.
On Valentine's evening, they sat together on his couch, and she handed him a red envelope. There was an anxious little crinkle between her eyes as he opened it. The card was an old-fashioned looking valentine - a heart bordered in roses. "You think it's silly," she said. "I wanted to find a more, well, masculine card, but this one seemed appropriate somehow."
He glanced at her. "Because I hail from the 19th century?" he asked, quirking a smile, and she slapped his arm. He opened the card, and read what she'd written: To Giles - I love you, Willow. She'd said the words to him dozens upon dozens of times, but he'd never seen them written down before. He found himself getting misty-eyed.
"Do you like it?" When he looked up at her, he felt quite overcome.
"I like it very much," he managed to say, and kissed her. He had certainly turned into quite the old sap, but it felt rather wonderful. "And this is for you." He gave her the book, wrapped in red paper.
As she undid the wrapping, he suddenly feared it wouldn't be the kind of gift she'd had in mind - but when he saw her face, he knew it was. "The poems of John Donne...Giles, it's beautiful."
"It was my father's," he said, and her mouth fell open.
"You even inscribed it...your father's book..." True, it wasn't like him to actually write in a book, much less an old and prized one, but he had written: To Willow, with all my love, RG. "Giles, I love it. I love you..."
They read poems to each other - something else he doubtless would have found maudlin in the past, but now it seemed exactly right. Besides, it made a nice change from reading aloud from occult texts and hacked medical files. "'Love's mysteries in souls do grow,'" Giles read, "'But yet the body is his book,'" and Willow leaned forward and kissed his mouth. They put John Donne aside for a while.
Then, one night, the bottom dropped out. Giles was at home, and the phone rang. It was Willow, and she was crying. "Dearest, what's the matter?"
"It's Xander!" she wailed.
Oh, no. "Has something happened to him?" Had Angel gotten to him?
"He won't love me!" She burst into fresh sobs.
Giles had to sit down. Luckily the couch was under him or he would've hit the floor. "What?"
"I love him so much, but he won't love me back. It's horrible!"
"Quite...horrible." The room seemed to be spinning, or perhaps he was. "Willow, please tell me what is going on. You and Xander are just friends. You're always telling me..."
"It's because he won't love me!" she cried. "I want so much for us to be more than friends."
"But I love you," he said. "I love you, Willow." He said it again and again, as if surely it would produce the response it always had in the past. Instead, she just kept crying. "But we were happy," he said. "I've never felt so sure of anyone. When I gave you the key to my house, you were so pleased. Don't you remember?"
"It was nice between us," she said, sniffling. "But you're not Xander. It's always been Xander - you know that."
"Yes, I guess I always did." It was beginning to dawn on him that it was really over. He would never hold her again, never make love to her. She no longer loved him, if she ever did.
When they hung up, he sat in a daze. Perhaps he had been meant to wait until she was older, and in his haste he'd lost her. The other Giles had married her, but he, he had shared with her a brief perfection - and now she'd moved on, as teenagers did. What had he expected?
He poured some Scotch. He sat and stared at the valentine she'd given him, the words she'd written - tangible proof, along with the few items of clothing and toiletries she'd left here, that the past months had not been a mirage. The more he drank, the more he thought he could hear Ethan laughing at him. Serves you right for behaving like a sentimental fool, he jeered. Valentines, love poems - did you really think any of that was real? Did you really think it could be yours?
The next day his head hurt and his stomach roiled, but that was a welcome distraction from the utter desolation he felt. He stayed in the library all day, trying to concentrate on work. For the first time since all of this had begun, Willow did not come to visit him. He remembered her kisses in the stacks, how sweetly she entered his arms, how she said his name. He wished he had stashed some whiskey in his office.
When Xander came into the library, it was all Giles could do not to go for his throat. Then Xander confessed what he had done, he and Amy Madison, who apparently was already following in her mother's footsteps. It took a moment to sink in: Willow was under a spell.
The possibility should have occurred to him, except that would have seemed like reaching, like denial. It had seemed inevitable that Willow would grow tired of him, would want a boy her own age.
"I cannot believe that you are fool enough to do something like this," Giles said. He couldn't help but still feel jealous of Xander. Willow had loved him for a long time before she'd even met Giles, and for quite awhile after she had.
He went to try and find Amy, to no avail - and when he returned, Amy had turned Buffy into a rat. Giles's head ached rather a lot.
He lashed out at Xander. "Get out of my sight!" The boy's face fell, and Giles regretted his words. Yet, in spite of the severity of the situation - all the women of Sunnydale deranged by a love spell, Buffy scampering through the school somewhere in rat form - he couldn't stop thinking of the fact that Willow hadn't fallen out of love with him after all. And he was going to get her back.
When he and Amy had reversed the rat spell and the love spell, he tried to phone Willow from school, but she didn't answer. He went home, took some aspirin, and stretched out on the couch. Even though the spells had been reversed, he still feared that Willow's feelings for him had been irrevocably changed.
There was a knock at the door, and he got up. She stood in the doorway, red-eyed. "Giles, I'm so sorry!" she cried and threw her arms around him. He felt a flash of anger - you said you loved Xander - and then it was gone, and he closed his eyes in the bliss of her holding him, loving him again.
He let her inside and shut the door. "You know it was a spell, don't you?" she asked. "You know I really love you?"
"I know," he said, smoothing her hair - but his voice shook.
She gazed up at him, her eyes so contrite. "Those things I said to you...I'm so sorry I hurt you..."
"Shh," he said. "That's over." He kissed her.
They barely made it upstairs. She was more passionate than ever - as if she wanted to prove to him, prove on his body, how she felt. She pushed him down on the bed, unbuttoned his shirt. She kissed his chest, licked his nipples.
He lifted her off him and unzipped his trousers. They tore off each other's clothes, he pushed her down on the bed and pushed into her. "I was so afraid we'd never do this again," he muttered, fucking her hard.
"We're going to do this lots," she said, clutching his back, his ass, pulling him into her.
Then she was moving on top of him, kissing his mouth, his neck, sucking his nipples, grinding on him until she clenched around him, crying out his name. "Oh, darling," he gasped, thrusting up hard, his arms tight around her. He came with a shout.
When they lay in each other's arms afterwards, she couldn't stop staring at him, touching his face, as if he might not be real. "When the spell was lifted, and I remembered how things really are, I was so happy," she said. "It was awful before - when I was under the spell, and before the spell, too. I mean, before you and me, when I kept hoping Xander would look at me the way you do." She kissed him. "I'm so glad it's you, Giles."
They went downstairs, and he opened a can of soup. She kept looking around the place with wonder. "I love this place," she said. "I love this couch. I love this pretty lamp. I love those stairs that go up to the bedroom. I love this vegetable soup you made."
He looked up from his bowl. "Darling, all I did was heat up the soup. You really don't have to overcompensate because of what happened. After all, it wasn't your fault."
She shook her head. "I'm not overcompensating! It's like I've woken up from a bad dream where none of this was real, none of this was mine."
"It is yours," he said, "all of it. I'm so glad you still want it."
The next day, Xander looked sheepish, and Willow wasn't speaking to him. It still irked Giles to see the boy. That afternoon he passed Xander in the hall, and a flare of resentment went through him, though he tried to wear an even expression. Shortly thereafter, Willow joined him in the stacks, and between his happiness at having her back, and his residual jealousy of Xander, he let himself lose control. When her kisses had their usual effect on him, he shoved her against the shelves and began humping her.
"Giles..." she breathed. He bent his knees so he could grind his cock against her in just the right spot. Then he reached between her legs. "Oh god," she whispered, trembling. He brought her off amid the books and dust, his mouth on hers keeping her from crying out.
When he unzipped, her eyes widened. "What if someone comes back here?" He raised his eyebrows. "Okay," she said, face rosy from orgasm, "I walked right into that pun, didn't I?"
He lifted her skirt, yanked down her stockings and panties. He thrust inside. It was a difficult position, since she was so much shorter than him, but he didn't care, he needed her right now. He wished everyone in the school would barge in and see what he was doing to her. "Want bloody Xander to get an eyeful," he grunted, "and see how stupid he is not to want you."
"Oh, I like it when you're like this," she whispered.
He was pretty close to coming, when - "Where's Giles? I actually need a book." Cordelia.
"Don't know." Xander. "And have you seen Willow? I really need to try and work things out with her."
They froze, trying not to breathe. His cock got even stiffer, though honestly he didn't want that little scenario of his to come true.
"Giles?" Cordelia called.
"He's not here. Let's go."
Their footsteps faded. Giles pulled out and moved aside so Willow could adjust her clothes.
"Wait," she whispered, her eyes taking him in admiringly. "I'm not going to leave you like this." To his astonishment, she pushed him against the shelves, and she knelt. She took him in her mouth. He gasped. She was still relatively new to this, but she clearly loved pleasing him, and that excited him as much as what she was doing with her lips and tongue. She worked the length of him with her hand, and looked up. "I want you to imagine that they're all watching," she whispered. "They can all see how much I love you." She mouthed him again. God, she knew him awfully well. Her mouth was hot and wet, surrounding him. His hands moved in her hair. Biting his lip to keep from moaning, he let go.
He helped her to her feet. "You know," she said, as he zipped up, "I think doing it in the library is extra sexy. Maybe because I think books are."
He gave a laugh. "We really are awfully well-matched."
"Darn tootin'. Besides," she added, "'Love's mysteries in souls do grow, But yet the body is his book.'" She grinned. He shook his head. He was the most fortunate man alive.
"I need your sample spreadsheets by the end of the week," Miss Calendar said, and the bell rang. "And I want both a paper printout and a copy on disk." The students began to file out. Willow got up, and Miss Calendar called to her. Boyfriend-stealing gypsy spy, she thought as she walked towards her desk.
The sad thing was that she had liked Miss Calendar, admired her. She was a good teacher, and she was into paganism, which Willow thought was neat. But even leaving aside the whole gypsy spy thing, she just couldn't get past her having had smoochies with Giles, and then being mean to him, wanting him back and shooting him with a crossbow. It was too many strikes against her.
"I might be a little late tomorrow," Miss Calendar said. "Do you think you could cover my class till I show?"
"Me? Teach the class?" In spite of herself, Willow grinned. "Sure!"
"Cool." Maybe Miss Calendar wasn't all bad.
Just then Giles and Buffy appeared at the door. Her heart leapt. She wondered how long she would have to be involved with Giles before her heart would stop leaping every time he walked into a room - or if maybe it always would. Even when he was trying to hide how he felt, the way he looked at her made her feel warm all over.
"Hi, Buffy. Rupert," Miss Calendar said. Willow took it back - Miss Calendar was all bad. It annoyed her to hear her call him Rupert, as if Miss Calendar had the copyright on his first name or something. Sometimes Willow just wished she would go away, so she didn't have to look at her, didn't have to hear her say Rupert in that sour yet meaningful way that meant she wanted to talk to him.
"Miss Calendar," Giles said, and Willow had to fight a smirk. He no longer called her Jenny. So there. Meow, she told herself exultantly.
Unfortunately she couldn't very well stick around - Buffy would expect her to come with her. Giles shot her an uncomfortable look, and she gave him a little grin, because he'd said Miss Calendar, not Jenny, and because she loved him and he was her boyfriend, not Miss Calendar's, even if nobody else knew about it. Well, except for Oz and Angel.
"Sorry, I have to talk to her," she told Buffy as they walked out.
"Whatever," Buffy said. "She's the least of my worries. Angel was in my room last night. He left a picture of me as a souvenir."
A couple of minutes later, Buffy had gone to class, and Willow met up with Giles in the hall. They walked towards the library. "You went to the Bronze last night?" he asked.
"Yes - with Buffy and Xander and Cordelia. It was fun. I missed you, though. Are we on for tonight?"
He smiled. "I'm looking forward to it."
"Me too." Her parents were out of town, and he was going to spend the night. "I need to do some lesson planning after school, though. Hopefully I'll get it all done before you come over. I might be teaching Miss Calendar's class tomorrow."
"Indeed?" He cleared his throat.
"Anything you want to tell me, Rupert?" She only called him Rupert on special occasions, usually when she was feeling a little grumpy.
He flashed her a grin that melted her into a puddle. "Oh, we're on a first name basis now, are we?" he asked. "She only wanted to - "
"Let me guess. She wanted to apologize. Again."
"Right. But she did loan me a book that might prove useful in finding a spell to keep Angel out." He held up the book he was carrying. I could've found that spell, Willow grumbled to herself. He doesn't need Miss Calendar and her books. "If I haven't found what we're looking for by this evening, I'll bring a book or two with me."
"You mean, we can be study buddies?"
He shot her another smile that hit her like a jolt between the legs. "Among other things."
That night Giles brought Chinese takeout. "This is so nice," she said, as they ate at the dining room table. They couldn't stop smiling at each other. It was the most delicious Chinese food she'd ever tasted.
After dinner, they settled on the living room sofa with their books and her laptop. While she was busy with her lesson plan and he with his research, the phone rang.
"Hi, Buffy," Willow said. Giles glanced up nervously.
They chatted a bit. Willow felt her face flush hot - she hated lying to her friend. "I just hope Giles can find a keep-out spell soon," Buffy said. "I know I'll sleep easier when I can...sleep easier."
Willow regarded him with delight - sitting on the couch, his nose in a book. "I'm sure he will. He's like, book-man."
Giles glanced up again and smiled. He waved the book in the air. Willow smothered a giggle.
"Well," Giles said after they'd been working for at least an hour longer, "I've turned up nothing so far. Perhaps I'll have another look at these books later."
"But I haven't finished my lesson plan. It's my first ever lesson plan, and I want it to be good." She grinned. "I know - I'll tell Miss Calendar I didn't have time to plan the lesson because we had a date."
"Very amusing. You've been working on the lesson plan for hours. I'm sure it's more than adequate."
"More than adequate? Oh, there's a ringing endorsement."
"I'm sure you'll be brilliant. In any case, I don't think I can wait any longer." He leaned over and kissed her.
"Oh." She closed her laptop and slammed shut her computer book. "Why didn't you say so? Come on - I'll show you my room."
"I know my room's awfully girly, and the bed's not terribly big," she said. "I hope you'll be comfy here." She had moved her stuffed animals off the bed in preparation for his arrival. Plus, she didn't exactly feel like Stuffed Animal Girl anymore - she had an actual man to hold onto in bed now.
From behind her, his arms went round her. "You're here. I'll be...comfy." It was funny to hear him say the word. "The bed is small, so we'll just have to stay close together all night."
She sighed happily. "It's wonderful to have you here. You have no idea how much I think about you when I'm here by myself."
His arms tightened around her. Then he said, "Willow, why does your aquarium have no fish in it?"
"Huh?" She peered at the fish tank. Then they found the envelope.
"Oh god, oh god," she kept saying. "He was here."
He held her. "I'm so sorry," he said. "But I swear, I won't let anything happen to you."
"Should we call Buffy? Maybe we should call Buffy. Except...we can't. I guess I could - I could pretend I'm here by myself."
"There's nothing she can do tonight," he said. "We don't have the protection spell. But surely between the two of us, we have some supplies. We can make do for tonight. You can tell her tomorrow at school." He touched her face.
She started to laugh.
"What?" he asked.
"You're awfully single-minded, aren't you? You still want smoochies tonight."
He quirked a smile. "Would that be so very awful of me?"
"Somehow it makes me less scared. Although...I feel all creepy crawly. My poor fish! But I'm so glad you're here." It made her feel guilty that her fish had been murdered and she still wanted smoochies too.
They both had crosses, and Giles had a flask of holy water and a couple of stakes. "Have you any cloves of garlic?" he asked, placing the crosses on either side of the bed pillows.
"Maybe some garlic powder in the spice rack?"
"No matter. It's unclear whether garlic truly repels vampires or whether that's a myth." He put the holy water and stakes at easy reach on the night table. Still dressed, they lay on the bed together, he on his back, she with her head on his chest. It was a little odd lying there flanked by crosses. Her heart was still beating fast - adrenaline from the death of her fish. But Giles felt awfully good against her.
He stroked her hair. "Willow, I'll understand if you don't want to..."
She shifted her position and kissed him hard.
"I see," Giles said when they came up for air. "I suppose the danger acts as an aphrodisiac?"
"You act as an aphrodisiac." She kissed him again. He pulled her on top of him. Before long she forgot all about everything but Giles kissing her, touching her, Giles moving inside her.
"I love sleeping with you," she said before they drifted off. "I mean, the actual sleeping. You feel so good. I wish we could do this every night." She was half-asleep, but it still struck her as a pretty bold statement.
He only pulled her closer. "Every night," he muttered, nearly asleep. "Always..."
His words, and his arms encircling her, made her feel warm and safe and happy. They slept.
In the morning when she woke, he was sitting up in bed. She took him in: Giles, naked, bespectacled, reading a book. It was quite a picture, his torso and beautiful arms (one with the tattoo) emerging from beneath the blankets, his eyes intent on the page.
"Mmm..." she purred, and he turned to smile at her.
"Good morning," he said.
"Come here," she said, and held out her arm.
"Just a moment," he said, and turned back to the book. "Yes, there it is - the ritual to revoke the invitation to vampires. I haven't the requisite herbs on hand. We'll have to perform the ritual after school."
"Good," she said. "Now come here."
He set the book on the floor, took off his glasses and put them on the night table. He put his arms around her. "What time is it?" she asked between kisses. "Do we have time to - "
"We have time," he growled.
After all that lesson planning, Miss Calendar showed up for school on time for her class. All that time wasted, Willow thought, watching her hurry towards the classroom building - time I could've spent having even more sex with Giles! Miss Calendar, grumble grumble, Miss Calendar, she thought.
That evening Buffy and Cordelia were at Willow's house, putting the finishing touches on the protection spell. As Willow nailed a cross to the wall, behind a curtain so her parents wouldn't see, she glowed with the memory of Giles making love to her in her bed.
"Willow," Cordelia said, "are you aware that there are no fish in your aquarium?"
She whimpered. Cordelia was doing a good job of dampening her secret glow.
"Cordelia, we've already done your car," Buffy said. "Call it a night if you want."
Cordy picked up her coat from the bed - and then she picked up an envelope that was under it. Not another envelope! She handed it to Willow. At least there were no more fish to murder.
She pulled out a folded sheet of paper. She unfolded it.
It was a drawing of her and Giles - a very good drawing of her and Giles, asleep in her bed. Their faces were soft, relaxed. The top of his strong chest was visible above the blankets, as was her bare arm flung across him. He was on his back, his lips slightly parted, hair mussed. She nestled into his side. Her hair was messy too.
Even though Angel had drawn the picture, she couldn't help but love it. It was the two of them, how they looked together. They looked beautiful. They fit.
Then reality came crashing down. "What is that?" Cordelia asked.
For a moment Willow contemplated stuffing the drawing in her pants pocket and disavowing its existence.
"Let me see," Buffy said, and took the paper.
"Eeeww, gross," Cordelia said. "Is that - eeeww, gross!"
"Angel's a little off his game," Buffy said. "What's he gonna do next, draw a picture of Cordelia in bed with Snyder?"
"Make me yak!" Cordelia said.
Hey, Willow wanted to say, watch it with the Giles-Snyder comparison! But the horror of it was beginning to penetrate. Angel in the bedroom while they slept, drawing them. Angel coming back, leaving the envelope. Buffy seeing the picture. But Buffy didn't believe it was real. Maybe Willow could play along.
"This is just weak," Buffy said, and made as if to rip the drawing in two.
"Buffy, don't!" Willow cried, before she could stop herself.
Buffy looked up at her slowly. She let the paper waft to the floor. "Willow?" she asked. "Don't even tell me."
"Wow," Cordelia said, "you really are a bigger freak than I thought. And Giles - robbing the cradle much?"
Willow couldn't stand the look of revulsion on Buffy's face, the scandalized amusement on Cordelia's.
"How..." Buffy said. "With Giles?" She looked like she was going to vomit. Willow fought the urge to run from the room. "You've what, been sneaking around behind our backs?" Buffy's voice shook.
"Well, we couldn't exactly hold hands at school. We knew you'd freak."
"'We'? Now you and Giles are a 'we'?"
"We are," she said softly, and even amidst this craziness, she was proud to say it. It felt good to actually get to say it. "We love each other."
Buffy looked like her head was about to spin around like a top. "I so do not understand."
"It does make a twisted kind of sense," Cordelia said. "They're both big book geeks who don't have lives. Now they can not have lives together."
"Hey!" Willow said.
"What? I'm defending you guys. You're perfect for each other. Aside from the mammoth age difference - but hey, Buffy's got you beat there."
"Hey!" Buffy said, sending a murderous glance at Cordy.
"I'm trying to help," Cordelia said.
"The thing is," Willow said, "no matter how upset you are, Buffy, there are things we need to do right now. We need to finish doing these protection spells, or we're gonna not have lives for real."
Buffy let out a sigh. "I can't argue with you there. So let's put aside this...this thing you've gone and done, until we've Angel-proofed my house."
"And Giles's place," Willow added. Buffy grimaced.
"I suppose you guys have been...spending time together there?" she asked. Then, before Willow could reply: "I so don't want to know. Let's get going."
As they drove to Buffy's house, Willow said, "Promise me you won't tell anyone. Giles could get in so much trouble - "
"Ya think?" Buffy asked.
"You mean like lose both his jobs and get deported? Oh, and arrested?" Cordelia asked, behind the wheel.
"Oh god, please don't tell anyone!"
"Even Xander?" Cordy asked.
"Well...I guess he should know, too," Willow said. God, she could just imagine his face when he found out. "But he can't go blabbing to people."
"Oh please," Cordelia said, "who would he tell? He doesn't have any friends besides us."
"Aren't you forgetting, Will?" Buffy asked. "Angel knows."
"I know," she whispered. Her head started to swim. Please, she thought, please let no one tell on us.
Cordelia dropped them off at Buffy's, then sped off, doubtless about to tell Xander the hot dirt. Willow and Buffy did the ritual without looking at each other, while Dawn kept interrupting: "What are you doing? Is that witchcraft? I'm telling."
"Could you be any more of a pain?" Buffy asked. But just as they finished the spell, the door opened, and in came Buffy's mom, with Angel trying to follow. The spell sure worked - Angel banged up against an invisible barrier.
"Sorry, Angel," Buffy said, "changed the locks."
But before she could slam the door in his face, he said, "So, match made in heaven, eh? Just because it didn't work out for us, doesn't mean we shouldn't give those crazy kids our support."
She shut the door, and Willow braced herself for another onslaught from her best friend. Instead Buffy's mother said, "So, Angel tells me you and he got very close before the two of you broke up."
Man, Willow thought, when it rains, it pours.
Buffy and her mom went up the stairs, Dawn following at their heels. "Go to your room, Dawn," Mrs. Summers said.
"But I wanna know what's happening!"
As soon as they were out of sight, Willow grabbed the phone. She called Giles at home - no answer. She tried the library, and he picked up. "Giles, I'm at Buffy's. Please get me out of here."
"What's wrong? Are you in danger?"
"No - the protection spell's working. We need to do your place now." She lowered her voice. "Angel did come back last night, while we were sleeping. He left a picture of us. Buffy and Cordelia saw it."
Silence on the other end.
"I suppose we knew we'd be found out sooner or later. Is she very upset?"
"That's putting it mildly, but she kinda has her hands full right now. Angel paid her mom a visit and told her they slept together. Giles, please come and get me." She felt like she might start to cry.
"I'll be right there."
She paced the Summers living room, praying Giles would arrive before Buffy came back down the stairs. When she heard his car, she rushed out of the house.
"Are you all right?" he asked as they drove off.
"Better now," she said. He took her hand and squeezed it.
They drove to his place and did the protection spell. Soon after they finished, the phone rang. He picked it up. "Buffy, I..." His face fell as he listened. He handed the phone to Willow.
"I thought you might be there," Buffy said. "I tried calling your house, and when you didn't answer, I got worried."
"I'm okay. Thanks. Are things all right with you and your mom?"
"I'm glad you're safe. But that doesn't mean I'm okay with any of this. I'm far from okay with it." The line went dead.
"She hung up on me." Willow started to cry. Giles sat beside her on the couch. He put his arm around her. "This is all my fault. Buffy didn't want to believe it. I could've lied. I could've told her it was just Angel messing with us, that it didn't really happen. But I couldn't let her tear up the picture."
"It's a relief in a way, to have the truth out."
She sniffled. "But what if this ends up ruining your life? I begged them not to tell anyone. What if they do? Or what if Angel does? What if you get fired or arrested or deported, or maybe fired and arrested and - "
He kissed her mouth, soggy though she was. "Dearest, it's not as if we haven't all become adept at keeping secrets from Sunnydale at large."
He had a point there. She clung to him. "Promise me you won't leave me, whatever happens."
"I swear, I won't let anyone come between us." There was a fierce look in his eye.
"Even if Buffy's all disgusted with us? I know how much being her Watcher means to you."
"It does mean a great deal to me. But no one's more important to me than you, Willow." His gaze steadied her. "I think you know this isn't some passing fancy of mine. I want us to be together."
"I want that too." He kissed her again. When he kissed her like that, she could forget all of it, forget the awful way Buffy had looked at her.
In the morning, she stretched and settled back in Giles's arms. "I always sleep so much better with you," she said. "I wonder why that is?"
"Maybe it's because I've always just shagged you senseless." He grinned at her.
"I even feel ready to face them. Although I think I'd rather just barricade myself here with you for a week or so."
"While I appreciate the sentiment, I think we'll have to settle for..." He took her hand and placed it on his erection.
"More shagging?" His cock butted against her hand - always so eager for her. Then his fingers were flicking her nipples and stroking her between the legs. "So good," she sighed. "Always so good." Always, she thought. If we can always be together, it will be all right.
"Now I'm nervous again," she said as they hurriedly finished getting ready for school. Amid all the shagging, they'd lost track of time.
"Come here," he said, and put his arms around her. "It's going to be fine, Willow."
"You didn't see the look on Buffy's face," she said into his chest. "She was scary."
"I can well imagine. But we'll make it right."
"Really? You really think we can?"
"Let's just say I'm extremely motivated." He kissed her. Giles is right, she thought. Their friends would see how much they loved each other, and they'd keep their secret, and get used to them.
She gave him a shaky smile. "I'm ready," she said. "Ready as I'll ever be."
He opened the door. His pleasant expression turned to a frozen stare. She turned to see what he was looking at.
The body was slumped on the ground, just outside the door. Miss Calendar's eyes were open. Willow screamed.
Tucked under her arm there was a piece of paper. Very slowly Giles reached down and pulled it free. It was a drawing of Miss Calendar, dead.
"Oh god, oh god," Willow kept saying. Giles pulled the black hair back from her neck.
"She hasn't been bitten," he said.
"Oh god, he killed her..."
Giles closed the door and led Willow to the couch. He put his hands on her shoulders. "Willow, darling, I need you to pull yourself together. I need you to go to school. I'm going to call the police, and you mustn't be here when they arrive. Do you understand?"
Numbly she nodded.
"I'll be along as soon as I can," he said. "Can you manage this?"
"Yes," she said. "If you'll be at school later."
"As soon as I can. I love you." He stroked her hair. "We're going to get through this."
She started to cry, and he pulled her close. His arms around her made her feel strong.
"I can do this," she said. Yet leaving without him - walking past the body on the doorstep - was one of the hardest things she'd ever done.
She wept on and off as she trudged to school. It occurred to her that she was going to be late. Then she realized it didn't matter - her first period class was Miss Calendar's. She started to cry again.
When she got to school and went to her locker, Xander zeroed in on her. "Cordelia told me something last night," he said. "And then I called Buffy, and she said the same thing. But I'm still willing to believe you if you say it isn't true." He had his big shocked eyes - the eyes he usually reserved for his parents' drunken fights and particularly bad vampire attacks. It seemed so unfair that he would look at her this way because of her and Giles.
"Look, Xander, something's happened," she said, and wiped away another tear that coursed down her face. Now Buffy and Cordelia were closing in on her too, from opposite ends of the hall. All of them staring at her, judging her. She wanted to shrink into the floor.
"Just tell me it isn't true," Xander said.
"Oh boy, is it true," Buffy said.
"You don't believe me, Xander?" Cordelia asked. "Are you still in denial?"
"I just want to hear it from Willow," he said.
Willow shook her head. "It's true. It's all true. Except that doesn't matter right now, because Miss Calendar's dead. Angel killed Miss Calendar."
Finally Xander's eyes matched the situation.
They went to the computer room, where everyone was standing around the smashed, burnt-out shell of Miss Calendar's computer on the floor. Buffy stared at it with widening eyes, then fled the room. Willow followed. In the hall, Buffy sank to her knees. "This is my fault," she said. "Because I didn't kill Angel when I had the chance."
Willow put her hand on Buffy's shoulder. "It's not your fault. It's all Angel's fault, Buffy." She had a flash of gladness that she and Giles had been upstaged - and then she hated herself for having such a horrible thought. It wasn't even true. She hadn't wanted any of this.
Giles didn't get to school until afternoon. She went into the library and saw him sitting at the table. He looked as awful as she felt. She wanted so much to put her arms around him, yet it seemed wrong somehow to go into his office or into the stacks, to sneak around. For one thing, Buffy and Xander might be keeping an eye on them, and for another, Miss Calendar was dead, hardly a time for hanky-panky.
She sat next to him. She touched his sleeve, and he jumped. "Are you all right?" she asked.
"I had to go to the police station." He stared straight ahead. "He broke her neck, you know."
"Giles," she whispered, "my parents don't come home until tomorrow. Can I come over tonight?"
He gave a laugh that jarred her. "You really want to spend the night at a crime scene?"
"I don't want to be alone."
He glanced at her. "Maybe it would be best if you stayed at Buffy's tonight."
"Giles, I can't do that. Things are not good between me and Buffy right now. And yeah, maybe this horrible thing has taken her mind off us for the time being, but still..."
He looked at her as if she were speaking much too loudly, which she wasn't, or too quickly, which she likely was. "All right," he said, "all right."
That evening when they walked up to Giles's door, both of them stood there and stared at the yellow tape across the doorway. Willow could still see the body, the broken figure, the black hair, though it was gone - she was gone. Giles tore the tape, and they went inside.
They sat in a daze on the sofa. She thought of how happy she would've been, before all this, to spend three nights in a row with Giles. And in a way she still was, which had to make her the world's most selfish bitch.
"Principal Snyder wants me to teach her class, until they find a replacement," she told him. Now Willow had everything Miss Calendar had wanted - Giles and her job. "God, I was so awful to her."
"What are you talking about?" he asked. "You weren't."
"Okay, maybe just in my mind I was, but still. I wanted her gone. I wanted her gone, Giles."
"This is not your fault. If anything, it's mine. My god, I saw her at school last night. She wanted to talk to me about something, but I said I didn't have time. I was on my way to pick you up from Buffy's. If I'd stayed, perhaps..."
"Perhaps Angel would've killed you too, Giles. None of this is your fault, either."
He got up and poured himself some whiskey. She had half a mind to join him.
"Did you talk to Buffy today?" she asked.
He looked at her wearily. "She blames herself for Jenny's death." In death, Willow noticed, she was Jenny again. God, she had been so catty - in her mind - so smug about Giles calling her Miss Calendar. Was that only two days ago?
"So Buffy's speaking to you, at least," she said.
"For the moment. But she looks at me as though she doesn't quite recognize me." He put his head in his hands. "What a mess."
She remembered the things he'd said before they'd found her, the body. How they were going to make it right. How no one was going to come between them. She wished he would say those things now, though she knew it was selfish of her. "Are you ashamed of what we've done?" she asked.
He looked up in surprise. "Are you?"
"Of course not. I'm proud to be with you, Giles."
"Even now?" She nodded. His expression softened. "Willow, being with you - it's been like a miracle to me. But it's far better than I deserve."
"Don't say that! You're just...grieving, and going through a lot. I love you. You're the best man I know. And I need you. Maybe it's wrong to say that right now, but I really do."
He set the glass of whiskey on the table. "Christ, I need you too," he said hoarsely, and pulled her to him. They held each other for a long time, as the tears seeped out of her eyes. When he looked at her, his eyes were wet, too.
They didn't say much the rest of the evening. He made sandwiches, and they ate in silence, watching each other, needing each other to be there. When they got into bed, they didn't have sex - just held each other until they slept.
Sometime during the night Willow found herself awake. They were facing each other in the dark. "Giles, are you awake?"
He reached out and cupped the side of her face. All at once she was fully awake as their mouths met, as their bodies pressed together. He hardened against her. Then he pushed inside her.
"I love you," he murmured again and again as he moved inside her. "I love you, Willow..."
"Giles, I love you..." She didn't come, she didn't need to. All she needed was for him to be inside her, his ragged voice in the dark saying I love you.
He moved inside her for a long time, and he came with a long, broken moan. She held him, the sticky liquid on her thighs so comforting. It was life. They were alive. "We're going to be all right," she whispered.
He sobbed in her arms. "I don't know if I can keep you safe. I need you safe..."
"We're going to keep each other safe, Giles. I love you." She felt strong. She didn't know where it came from, feeling strong and sure. It felt good to be the one to take care of him for a change. No, she did know where it came from. It came from loving him. She was not ashamed. It made her strong.
First Jenny died. Giles barely had a chance to come to grips with that before Buffy went into the hospital.
"Don't get me wrong," Willow said. She looked up from the library table where she was doing Buffy's homework. "Things have been awful lately, and I feel so bad for Buffy...but do you feel a little grateful that we've been overshadowed?"
Reluctantly he nodded. "Although I feel as though I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop."
"Seems like a lot of shoes have been dropping lately," she said, and he smiled. She was truly a miracle. She had gotten him through this past week. When they found Jenny's body, she had been so afraid - and yet that night, when he was truly wretched, he had clung to her and wept, and she had been the strong one.
In the hospital bed, Buffy looked from him to Willow and back again with a puzzled air, as if trying to understand how it could possibly be true that they were sleeping together. She was apparently too weak for righteous indignation.
"I did all your assignments," Willow said. "All you have to do is sign your name."
Buffy brightened. Giles handed her a bunch of grapes, but ate rather a lot of them himself. Since he and Willow had been found out, being around the others was fairly nerve-wracking - and he was sure the feeling was mutual.
Xander gave Buffy balloons, and Cordelia, predictably, gave her nothing. Xander had grown quiet and sullen around Giles of late. Cordelia, on the other hand, obviously couldn't care less, though from time to time she'd let fly with one of her unbelievably tactless remarks - luckily never around anyone who didn't know the score.
"Did you pass the night well enough?" Giles asked Buffy.
As it turned out, she hadn't. They were called upon to investigate the death of a child, a suspicious doctor, and a young boy who saw Death. Giles was grateful they could work together once more for a common goal. He had wondered whether the revelations about him and Willow might have destroyed that possibility.
By the time they had defeated the Kindestod, and Buffy was back at school, Giles had been lulled into a false sense of security. Not where Angel was concerned - and he and Willow were still shaken by recent events. Yet those events had brought them closer. He felt more committed to her than ever, and more certain that what they had together would last.
He didn't expect to be able to explain any of this to Buffy. It was hardly something she would want to hear, so soon after the loss of the man she loved.
The other shoe dropped the afternoon Buffy felt up to training again. Her punches kept landing on him, and despite the padding, Giles could tell he was going to be very sore later on. Her face had that closed-off look to it - all violence, little self-awareness - that seemed to be more and more at home on her, as death and loss made their mark.
He felt for her. Still, he'd had quite enough.
"Buffy," he said, and she walloped him again. She didn't seem to hear him. She wound up for another punch. "Buffy!"
She stopped. "What?"
"Buffy, I am not your punching bag."
She pouted darkly up at him. "Are you saying we're done with training for today? There someplace you'd rather be, Giles?"
"You're still angry with me. You feel betrayed." He removed his padding and eased himself into a chair.
Now that he no longer offered himself as a target, Buffy turned on the actual punching bag. She rained blows upon it.
"I think it would behoove us to talk about this," he shouted above her grunts as she pounded the bag.
She wheeled on him, fists clenched. "Oh, now you want to talk? Months of sneaking around behind my back, and now it's time to talk?"
"Are you saying I'm not allowed to have a private life?"
"Not with my best friend! She should be with someone more her own age."
He gave a laugh. "In other words, do as you say, not as you do?"
Suddenly the fight seemed to go out of her. "Yeah, I dated an older guy - and look how well that turned out."
"I am sorry about that. I know it's difficult for you."
"Try near impossible. And since I found out about you and Willow, I haven't exactly felt like I could talk to you guys the way I could in the past. Although I guess that's the way it's supposed to be, right? Being a Slayer's not really something you can share with your friends."
It was awfully unfair, he thought, that the girl he'd met, the one who wanted desperately not to have this burden foisted upon her, should have to endure so much.
"Buffy...although I've made a commitment to Willow, that does not negate my commitment to you and the Council. I am your Watcher. I am also your friend. Willow and I kept quiet because we feared your reaction - not out of any disrespect for you."
"Okay," she said. "Maybe I get that."
"You know why Angel revealed our relationship - to create dissension among us. Divide and conquer."
She flinched at Angel's name. "I know why he did it," she said slowly. "What I don't understand is why you did it. Not the keeping it a secret, but getting involved in the first place."
"I love her." She visibly recoiled. "Buffy, you wanted to know, and I'm telling you. When the older Willow was here, she told me that she and the older Giles were married." He glossed over his involvement with that Willow. To him it did not feel like an affair with a different woman. It was all just Willow. "She opened my eyes. After our Willow returned, I discovered I did in fact have feelings for her."
"You got married?" she whispered. "I mean - later on, you're supposed to..." Tears filled her eyes.
"Sorry," she said hoarsely. "It's just...happy endings...I've begun to think they're just a myth, you know?"
"Buffy, I'm so sorry." But he also felt hopeful. Had she begun to accept their relationship?
"I'm gonna go home," she said. "I'm glad we talked. I can't say I fully understand what's going on with you guys. Maybe I'm starting to."
Thank god, he thought. "Thank you for hearing me out."
"It's gonna take time, Giles. If you guys stay together, maybe..."
That went rather well, he thought when she'd gone. Then he heaved himself up from the chair, and he winced. He was a mass of aches and pains. At least that meant he was still Buffy's Watcher.
Xander kept looking at her funny. Which at least was a step up from his patented Shocked Eyes. He looked at her like he was trying to work an algebra problem in his head - and Willow knew he couldn't do that. When she and Giles were in a room together, he looked from her to him and back again until she thought he might get whiplash.
Finally, one night at the Bronze when Buffy wasn't there and Cordelia was in the bathroom, he said: "Okay, I wanted to give you time, after Miss Calendar and all. But can we talk about it? Has it been long enough?"
It was a relief they were going to get this over with. She hoped. "You want to talk about me and Giles. That's fine."
"So what I want to know is..." He was trying to figure out the best way to phrase it, and then he burst out with: "Just because I got together with Cordelia, you got together with Giles?"
He could be so infuriating sometimes. She shook her head. "This has nothing to do with you, Xander. Giles and I have been together since way before I even found out about you and Cordelia."
Uh oh, the shocked eyes were back. "Wow, my female friends sure do have a thing for older guys."
"I don't have a thing for plural older guys - just one."
He seemed to be spiraling into a daze of disbelief. "You've had sex with Giles. You're having sex with Giles. You're having sex."
Willow remembered last night at Giles's place, his head between her legs as he licked and sucked her, his fingers moving inside her, until she came so hard it felt like her whole body dissolved. Her face flushed at the memory. She tried to snap out of it.
"Well, yes," she said. "That is true. But it's really not anything you need to concern yourself with." Apparently Xander was not having the sex. Who'd have thought she would be the experienced one? Cordelia returned and sat next to him. Not putting out, Willow thought - who'd have figured?
Xander gave Cordy a big nervous smile.
"So what are we talking about?" Cordelia asked, smiling indulgently. She did seem to actually care about him. Again - who'd have figured?
"Nothing," Xander said in that craven tone he used when he was on the defensive.
"Talking about Willow and a certain librarian, huh?"
"Yep," Willow said.
"Well, it's about time. You guys so need to clear the air and get over it. It's so last week's news." Willow shot her a look. "Although, of course," she added, "it's not news. It's last week's secret."
"So long as it's also this week's secret," Willow said.
"Well, duh. Like anyone even cares what you do."
Willow fervently wished that were the case. But when she looked at Xander trying not to gawp at her, she knew some people still thought it was news.
Giles peeked into the classroom. Did it make him a horrible person that the sight of his beloved standing in front of the class set his heart alight just the same as ever, even though the woman who should be teaching the class was dead? He wished Jenny were still alive, and yet Willow was so vibrant and lovely, and she made him so happy.
"I bet you'll think coding is pretty cool," she said. "I mean, if you find two-digit, multi-stacked conversions and primary number clusters a big hoot."
The students laughed, and her face lit up. He smiled.
The bell rang, and everyone began to file out. Then she saw him, and hurried to him. "Giles! I made them laugh, did you hear? I did the joke thing!"
He followed her to the desk. Everyone else had gone. "You did indeed." He briefly cradled the side of her face with his hand. "I'm proud of you, dearest. You're clearly doing a wonderful job."
She beamed - but then her smile faded. "I had good lesson plans. Miss Calendar had them on her computer." Her eyes went watery. "I wasn't her biggest fan - but she was a good teacher."
"Willow..." he whispered.
"I feel guilty sometimes." She glanced at Jenny's computer. "I was so jealous of her, Giles. I feel like I'm only starting to get to know her, now that she's gone."
"How do you mean?"
"I found some other things on her computer while I was looking for lesson plans. A bunch of files and Internet sites on paganism and magic and stuff. It's really interesting."
"I see." He felt a chill of fear.
She touched his hand. "I know what you're thinking. Don't worry. I'm just learning...just reading."
"That's how it begins."
"I know you said that I...that the older Willow was a big-time witch. And that she'd done some things to hurt you, and you figured it had to do with the magic."
"It happens," he said. "I know from experience."
"But it must've worked out for them, right? They ended up married." The word seemed to make her shy - for a moment she looked down at the desk. The word made his heart beat faster. "And anyway, I bet she didn't have you when she was just starting out with the witchcraft - not the way I do."
He smiled. "You think that will make a big difference?"
"It makes all the difference. You can help me to learn. You can help to keep me from making the same mistakes. And you know I would never do anything to hurt you. It won't be that way for us - I know it."
Her eyes on him were so sweet, so sure. "I believe you."
They walked into the hall. Students bustled about, everyone busy with their own dramas - apparently too busy to notice the middle-aged librarian who couldn't keep his eyes off the schoolgirl. "Is that a new dress?"
"You noticed!" She grinned. "Do you like it?"
It was simple and green, but rather shorter than her usual - though she paired it with pale stockings that added her characteristically demure touch. "I like it very much. You look beautiful."
Happiness blossomed on her face. "I bought it with you in mind. But I wasn't sure if I could pull it off."
He cocked his head toward hers. "I'd like to pull it off you right now," he murmured.
She gaped, her eyes lit with delight. "Then my work here is done!"
They sauntered towards the library. As if the idea had only just occurred to her (although he doubted that was the case), she said, "Want to do some...cross-referencing? I have a free period."
He smiled. "I know you do."
"You know my schedule? Giles, that's so sweet of you."
Happily, the library was deserted. It was awfully convenient that no one at this school besides the two of them liked to read.
"I wish we could go together to the Sadie Hawkins Dance," she said as they hurried to their place in the stacks. "I'd love to ask you to go with me."
"Oh, that would go over so well."
"I know, I know." She set down her backpack. "It's just...I love that I have somebody so wonderful to ask. Even though we can't go."
He put his arms around her. "Perhaps we can have our own celebration."
"You mean it?" She smiled up at him. "Would you dance with me?"
"If I can hold you in my arms? Absolutely."
"Oh...I would love that." She stood on tiptoe to kiss him. She tasted sweet. She always did.
He stroked her back with his fingertips and felt her shiver. His hands moved down to her ass. He kissed her sweet neck, so soft beneath his mouth. He flicked it with his tongue, and she let out a breathy sigh. "Oh, Giles," she murmured, "I want you so much..."
He was already very hard. "Want to be inside you," he whispered in her ear.
He put his hands on her shoulders. "We can't, darling. We almost got caught last time. And since then, we have been caught."
She cupped his erection. "So big," she sighed. He thrust into her hand, once, twice, three times. He was rapidly ceasing to care about consequences.
He kissed her again, fucking her mouth with his tongue. He put his hand up her skirt. She was already sopping wet, so ready for him. His arms around her, he eased her to the floor.
She undulated on his lap as they kissed. She moved aside just long enough for him to unzip and pull his cock out, for her to remove her shoes, pull off stockings and panties and place them on top of her backpack. She straddled him and sank down on his prick. They both gasped.
She moved on him, his thumb on her clit. "So fucking beautiful," he whispered. They kissed, and her tongue slid into his mouth. Oh, he loved this best of all, their tongues in each others' mouths, his cock inside her. As she rose and fell on him, he felt as fucked by her as vice versa. He was hers.
"Always need this," she breathed, "always..." Her face was pink, her eyes half-closed, her lovely mouth open. She was close to the edge, striving towards it with each thrust of her hips. He touched her a bit faster. She began to tremble. Her mouth contorted, and she squeezed his cock again and again. Yes, he thought, yes, yes.
She half-collapsed against him. He held her hips steady and took over. Yes, yes, up into her wetness. He looked at the place where they joined so perfectly. He pulled her to him. "Oh god, yes," he whispered, coming deep inside her as they held each other tight.
They sat still for a minute or two, he inside her, both of them breathing heavily. Then, heavy-limbed, they scrambled to their feet.
"I'm all drippy," she whispered. She reached into her backpack and produced a tissue. "I love to be all drippy with you," she added when she'd put her panties and stockings back on and stepped into her shoes. She gave him a languorous hug. "I love you, Giles."
"Willow, I love you so much."
They each took a book from the shelves. She grabbed her backpack, and they made their way out of the stacks. It occurred to Giles that perhaps they should each walk out separately - and indeed, that would've been a good idea, for as they emerged, who should walk in the library but Buffy and Xander.
"Hey," Buffy said, "what are you guys doin'?"
"Cross-referencing," Giles said - unfortunately at the same moment as Willow squeaked, "Research."
"Right..." Xander said in a long, descending tone.
Giles reached up to smooth his hair - was it terribly rumpled? Surely Willow would have told him. He hoped he had no lipstick on his face. He glanced at Willow. She looked fine - she looked far better than fine - but rather lipstickless. Perhaps Buffy and Xander wouldn't notice.
"Hey," Buffy said. "Were you two..." She lowered her voice to a whisper, though no one else was there, "making with the smoochies in the stacks?"
Giles prayed she wouldn't suspect that they'd been doing rather more than that.
Willow drew herself up in an adorable but wholly unconvincing manner. "Why, Buffy, I don't know what you mean! We were researching..." She ran out of steam as she held up the book she'd brought out from the stacks. "Researching...uh...horticulture. Because it...relates to...monsters from..."
"Nice try, Will," Xander said.
"Hey!" Willow said brightly. "What happened to you, Xander?"
"Oh, now you notice," he said. It was too true - only now did Giles notice Xander's torn shirt. "I'll have you know I was just accosted by some kind of locker monster."
"Loch Ness Monster?" Giles asked.
"Locker monster is what he said," Buffy corrected. Giles was heartily glad of something to distract her and Xander from what he'd been up to with Willow. It was some sort of poltergeist, apparently, and he was intrigued.
"Fabulous," Buffy said. "Now we're Dr. Laura for the deceased."
"Only if we can find out who this spirit is," Giles said. A vague dread filled him. "Or was," he added. No, not vague. A very specific dread.
"Giles?" Willow asked. "You think it's Miss Calendar, don't you?"
"What, are the two of you telepathic now?" Buffy asked.
"So you're thinking maybe Miss Calendar's ghost swooped down and saw you two fooling around in the stacks, and now she's all wrathful?" Xander asked.
Damn, the conversation had circled back to the stacks already. "I was thinking more along the lines of Jenny's tragic death here at school," he said. Well, yes - but also what Xander had said. The hellmouth hath no fury like a woman scorned?
Willow looked dismayed, and he felt terrible for frightening her. "We don't know for certain that it's her," he said gently. "I'll begin my research. We'll figure it out."
"As for you, young lady," Xander told Willow, "I think you've had just about enough research for one morning."
When Giles saw her frozen grin of embarrassment, he longed to put his arm around her. Instead he pretended he hadn't heard what Xander said.
That night Giles was in his office, immersed in research, when he heard quarreling, a man's voice shouting: "Don't walk away from me, bitch!" As he walked out to investigate, he heard a woman's voice, close by him: "I need you."
Was it Jenny? He couldn't tell. Had she really cared so much for him that she would haunt him in particular? It didn't seem likely. She had never told him I need you. Willow said it all the time. He was glad she was home safe, studying, away from whatever paranormal activity was going on here.
When he reached the hall, he saw the janitor holding a gun on Ms. Frank. The gun went off.
"Do you still think it might be Jenny?" Willow asked the next day in the library.
He sighed. "I don't know."
"It doesn't seem quite her speed," Buffy said.
"Yeah," Xander said. "I mean, she did some questionable things, but out-and-out violence?"
Willow's eyes widened. "Oh! The gun! It can't be Miss Calendar. Angel didn't kill her with a gun."
That, at least, was a relief. "You're right," he told her.
"Then who?" Buffy asked.
"Let me do a crosscheck on other shootings at the school," Willow said, and sat in front of the computer. Soon she found something. Giles stood behind her and peered at the screen.
"Do you mind?" Xander asked. "This is a public forum."
"What?" Giles asked, then noticed how close he was standing to Willow. He stepped back. "But I always did this, long before Willow and I were...involved. Why should it bother you now?" Of course now he knew that his standing close to her had given her goosebumps ever since they'd met. And the way she looked up at him now, he could tell he hadn't lost his touch.
"Because now I have all these pictures in my head," Xander said. Buffy raised her eyebrows, while Willow glowered at him. Giles felt almost sorry for the boy - he quailed before them. "So, Will, tell us all about the shootings!"
"It says a student murdered a teacher on the night of the Sadie Hawkins Dance," Willow said. "The rumor was they were having an affair, and she tried to break it off. After he killed her, he went into the music room and shot himself."
Giles found a copy of the 1955 yearbook, which they opened to reveal the teacher, Grace Newman, and the student, James Stanley - whom Buffy had apparently dreamed about.
"Is everybody thinking what I'm thinking?" Buffy asked.
"That it's about time for lunch?" Xander asked.
"No! That the ghost is obviously here because of you two." To Giles's astonishment, she looked from him to Willow. "See any parallels?"
"Buffy, you can't mean..." Giles said. "That isn't fair."
Willow looked like she might start to cry.
"You don't think it's a little odd that this ghost should show up so soon after the two of you got together?" Buffy asked.
"It hasn't been that soon," Willow blurted out, and Buffy's eyes widened.
"And if this is all about us," Giles said, "why did you have that dream about the boy and Miss Newman?"
She put her hands on her hips. "I'm the Slayer. Revealy dreams go with the territory."
"Perhaps," he said.
"It does sorta track," Xander said. "The whole older-younger thing."
"With some real obvious differences!" Willow cried. "Like not breaking up. And hey, not shooting each other!" She turned plaintive eyes on Giles. "Like not breaking up, right?"
"What?" Giles sat next to her and covered her hand with his. "Willow, of course...that goes without saying." She clutched his hand.
Buffy and Xander goggled at them. He faced them down. He was tired of having to justify himself. He was more than tired of them treating Willow as though she were doing something wrong. "Listen," he said, "what's important is that we figure out how to communicate with the spirit."
"Considering how violent it is, I figure the ghost is James," Buffy said. "I don't want to communicate with him. He's a murderer, and he should pay for it."
It seemed to Giles that the ghost wasn't the only one with whom Buffy didn't want to communicate.
Next thing Willow knew, they were fleeing a snake-filled school. That night all of them went back to bind the spirit. Willow was so pleased that Giles liked her suggestion of creating a Mangus-tripod. She knew it worried him that she wanted to learn witchcraft, but he trusted her, too, and that made her proud.
She handed everyone a sulfur-stinky scapula.
"So Giles," Cordelia said, "what are you gonna do while we're making this Mangus-whatever-thingy - make moon eyes at Willow?"
He cleared his throat.
"I know," she said, "not tactful."
Willow kinda wished they could exorcise Cordelia while they were at it.
"I'm going to patrol the halls," he said. "Watch out for paranormal phenomena."
"Whatever," Cordelia said. "If nothing else, the ghost'll probably head for the hills when it gets a whiff of this spatula thing." She fanned the air.
When the others had gone, Giles put his arm around Willow. It was so nice to be able to walk through the school like this, the way the kids who were dating did. "Please be careful," he told her before he rounded the corner alone. She walked up the stairs.
She hadn't told him, but she still had her doubts. Maybe the ghost was Jenny Calendar, angry at her and Giles. Maybe they had caused this. She loved being with him, yet her friends' attitudes towards them made it easy for her to believe this was all their fault.
Willow set down her candle. A hand reached up through the floor and grabbed her, tried to pull her under. "Giles! Help!" Was this Miss Calendar, now that she knew why Giles hadn't taken her back? Was she taking her revenge?
"Willow!" There was his voice, his running footsteps. He ran up the stairs and grasped her arms. Frowning with the effort, he pulled her out, and they rolled down the stairs, her arms around his neck. They landed at the bottom, his body covering her. Then they rolled again, and she was on top of him, both of them breathing hard. Definitely a position she'd never expected to be in with him at exactly this spot.
"Willow, are you all right?"
"Yeah." She pulled a strand of hair away from his face. "Deja vu, isn't it?"
He gave a laugh. "Indeed." They got up and sat on the stairs.
She took his hand. "Thank you for saving me."
He looked at her as if she were the only precious thing in the world.
"Giles, do you think this is about us? Did we cause all this?"
"I don't believe we did." He squeezed her hand.
"But if the ghost is James, what if he's...I don't know, jealous of us or something? Because we're together, and he didn't get to stay with Miss Newman?"
Just then the clock struck midnight. They walked up the stairs and lit the candle. Then they were running from a whole lot of wasps.
After it was all over, and Buffy and Angel had reenacted the dead lovers' final moments, Buffy sat in Giles's office.
"Are you feeling any better?" he asked.
"James picked me," she said. "I guess I was the one he could relate to. He was so sad."
He sat beside her. "They can both rest now."
A tiny smile flickered across her face. "But the two of you - you're not sad. You make each other happy. I can tell."
Giles barely dared to believe what he was hearing.
"Giles, I owe you and Willow an apology. This wasn't about the two of you. It wasn't even remotely the same thing."
"Willow will be happy to hear you say that."
"How about you?"
They rescheduled the Sadie Hawkins Dance, and Willow and Giles had their own celebration as well. They stood in his living room, arms around each other. They didn't so much dance as sway slightly to the music on the stereo, but as far as Willow was concerned, that was perfect. She'd never heard a lot of the songs he played - they were on LPs, not CDs. Some he'd already played for her.
"Who's this?" she asked, smiling up at him.
"Al Green, sweetheart."
"I like it a lot. I like your record collection."
That made him smile. "I'm glad." He kissed her.
This was better than any school dance. They held each other tight. She looked forward to the day when they could dance together in public, but things were looking up. Buffy was actually beginning to accept them. Xander...well, that might take more time. But they already had what Al Green sang about with his voice like caramel: love and happiness. Even Buffy was starting to see that.
They celebrated Willow's seventeenth birthday at the Bronze. Buffy gave her a pink shirt, and Xander gave her a CD. Then it was Giles's turn. He handed her a little wrapped box that made her think crazily of engagement rings - even though it wasn't exactly that kind of little box, and even though she was still a year too young for that. She opened the box and held up a slender chain from which dangled a sparkling green gemstone.
"Wow," Cordelia said. "That is a nice piece of jewelry."
"It's beautiful, Will," Buffy said.
Willow couldn't stop staring at it.
"Do you like it?" Giles asked. "The crystal - it matches your eyes."
"Well, loosely speaking," Xander said, and Buffy smacked his arm. "Ow..."
"It's beautiful, Giles. I love it." She wanted so much to throw her arms around him and kiss him. Instead she hugged him chastely, the necklace held tight in her fist. He put his arms around her and held her pretty damn tight, considering they were in public. Even though they couldn't kiss, they were together, they had each other. Buffy didn't have the guy she'd loved - the guy she'd shared her birthday with. That thought gave Willow a chill, and she hugged Giles tighter. "I love you," she whispered.
"Let me help you with that," he said, and she pulled her hair back so he could put the necklace on her.
Xander and Cordelia were kissing on the couch. "Jeez, get a room," Buffy said. They were oblivious. Why should they be allowed to make out in public and not her and Giles?
Giles must've seen her crestfallen look - because he whispered in her ear, "Do you have any idea what I'm going to do to you later?" She tried to keep her expression even, though her whole body went hot. She looked down at the necklace. She had loved the book Giles gave her for Valentine's Day - his father's book - but this, this was something she could wear to remind herself that he loved her, something to wear with pride.
"Can I get you anything?" he asked.
She suddenly realized it was the first time they'd been out socially together. Of course they couldn't go on a regular date without the others here as camouflage - but she smiled. He was acting like a real boyfriend on a date. "Decaf mocha?" she asked.
Buffy cleared her throat, and Giles looked her way. "Aren't you going to ask if any of us want anything, Giles?"
"Sorry," he said. "Of course, Buffy - would you like something?"
"No...I'm just being a pain."
They'd come up for air. "We're gonna go dance," Cordy said, and they headed toward the stage. There was something else she and Giles couldn't do - but she couldn't really picture him dancing to this band.
When he'd gone off to get Willow's drink, Buffy grinned at her. "I can't believe I'm saying this, Will, but I think you've got yourself a keeper."
Buffy's acceptance made her so happy, she nearly burst into tears. "I think he really loves me, Buffy."
"He does. It's obvious. I've just been too absorbed in my own stuff to notice."
"Well, you've had pretty heavy-duty stuff. Plus we were trying to be sneaky. And we still do have to. Sneak, I mean."
"I know. But you have a lot. I'm happy for you, Will. Even though..." She stopped.
"What?" She expected Buffy to say, Even though he's old enough to be your father. Instead she said, "It's just painful, sometimes, to see anybody in love. Because of what I've lost."
Willow hugged her friend. "I know. I want you to be happy, too."
"Meanwhile," Buffy said, "you guys can be my happy ending."
After Willow had her mocha, she and Giles decided it was past time that they were alone. They said goodnight to their friends. When they got into his car, Giles said, "Happy birthday, darling," and they lunged for each other. He kissed her ravenously. "Christ, I couldn't wait to do this..."
"Me too..." she managed to say as he nuzzled her neck. "But...we should go home. Someone might see us..."
"You're right," he said, his hand caressing her knee, then moving upward. "Just need to drive back to my place...can fuck you properly..."
She crushed her mouth against his. Then she made herself stop. "Drive," she breathed. And he did, but with her hand stroking his thigh and wandering to his crotch, and his mouth on hers and hands all over her at red lights, it was a wonder they didn't crash the car. Luckily the car didn't go very fast.
Back at Giles's, they barely made it to the couch. Their clothes were strewn about, and Giles was inside her, telling her how unbelievably beautiful she'd looked at the Bronze, how he'd wanted to take her right there in front of everyone, how envious they would've been of him, how lucky he was to have her. And then she was coming, as much from his words as from his cock inside her, his pelvis rubbing against hers. Then he was fucking her even harder and moaning and coming.
"I hate to take you home," he murmured afterwards, stroking her hair. "Especially on your birthday."
"I wanna stay more than anything. But I really don't think my parents would buy my having an all-night study session on my birthday."
"Do you think they'd notice your being gone all night?" His lips grazed hers. That was all it took to stir her into wanting him again.
"Usually not, but this is pretty much the one day of the year when they pay attention."
"Although it's worked out in our favor oftener than not, I truly am sorry that your parents treat you so shabbily. You're worth so much more than that. You know that, don't you?"
His eyes were so soft and warm. "I do," she said. "You make me feel so...important, so valued."
"Oh, darling," he said, and pulled her closer, "you have no idea how important, how valued you are."
One Saturday morning, a few days after Xander had narrowly escaped being turned into a sea creature, Giles was dozing in bed, when there was a knock at the door. Then a series of knocks. "Just a minute!" he called, dragging himself up and donning his robe. When he got downstairs and opened the door, he smiled - albeit in the midst of rubbing his eyes and suppressing a yawn. "Good morning," he said, and let her in.
"Did I wake you?"
A yawn obscured his reply.
"Sorry...I guess I could've let myself in, but I didn't want to startle you. Or I could've phoned, but that would've spoiled the surprise."
He moved towards her, then noticed she was carrying a box. She opened it. "Breakfast!" she announced triumphantly.
He peered inside. "Donuts?"
"I got plenty of your favorite." She indicated the jellies nestled among the buttermilk and chocolate.
"That was very thoughtful of you."
"Thoughtful enough to make up for me waking you?"
"I can't think of a nicer way to start the day," he said, with only a smallish yawn. They sat on the couch - he flopping down sleepily - and she put the box of donuts on the table. She smiled and snuggled in his arms.
"Do you want a donut?" she asked.
"Was that 'Mmm,' I'm hungry or 'Mmm,' I'm about to fall back to sleep?"
He gazed at her from beneath his heavy lids. "Mmm...you feel wonderful."
"Oh!" She seemed delighted, as if that option hadn't occurred to her. "Well, I think I'm going to have one." She tried to reach for the box, but he held her fast. "Giles..." He loosened his grip, and she grabbed the box.
She picked out a buttermilk donut with multicolored sprinkles, he a jelly. As he ate, some jelly dripped onto his hand. "Oh, bugger," he murmured. "Don't want to get jelly on the couch."
Willow set her half-eaten donut on the lid of the box. She took his hand and sucked the jelly off. He was suddenly completely awake. When she'd finished licking and sucking him clean, he kissed her. She tasted sugary. "Right," he said, "we're going back to bed."
Some time later, they lay spent and drowsing in the rumpled sheets. "So," Giles said, pushing some unruly strands of hair back from her face, "to what do I owe this unexpected pleasure?"
"Woke up this morning and missed you," she said, her head on his chest. "But also..."
"Yes?" His hand idly stroked her back.
"I've been thinking about summer. We won't be able to see each other as much, so I wanted to come up with new ways for us to spend time together."
"Whatever makes you think we won't see each other as much?"
"For one thing, I won't be in school! I'll miss seeing you in the mornings."
How was it he hadn't thought about this? The prospect of seeing her was the first thing he thought about when he woke up each weekday. It put the spring in his step.
"You'll be at school when summer school's happening," she went on. "Maybe I should take a class."
"Surely not just to see me." Yet it pleased him that she would consider such a thing. "Willow, don't you want to relax this summer? You've certainly earned it."
"Well, I love school. And I love you. I mean, not in that order. What I mean is, you and school, it's like the perfect combination. Like vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup."
He grinned. "And which of the two am I, in your analogy?"
"Definitely chocolate." She kissed him. "And hey," she added, "now I'm craving a donut." She'd brought the box upstairs with them, and she reached for it. They shared a chocolate donut with sprinkles. "Besides, I won't be able to use the 'studying all night at Buffy's or Xander's' excuse during summer."
"You mean you can't spend the night here all summer?" Despite the fact they didn't spend the night together all that often, he no longer slept well without her.
"Hopefully my parents will go out of town, and then I can."
"Perhaps they would accept an anonymously donated world cruise?" He popped a piece of donut in his mouth.
She giggled. "Maybe I can sneak out from time to time. But you see what I mean about summer?"
"I do." He sighed. "It's dreadful."
"So I thought I could come over sometimes, first thing in the morning, like today. We could pretend I'd been here all night."
"Not exactly the same thing, dearest...although this is wonderful, too."
"I wish I were older already, so I could be with you all the time, every night." She scrutinized him. "You want that too, right?"
He kissed her. "You know I do."
"You'll wait for me, won't you? It seems like such a long time."
"Just one year. Slightly less. And of course I'll wait for you. It's not like we won't be together in the meantime. We're together now." He remembered how slowly time moved when one was a teenager. Yet it moved slowly for him, too, waiting for her to turn eighteen, when they would no longer have to keep their relationship a secret.
"So long as we can just stay alive," she said, "and not get bit by any vampires."
"Well, the other Willow and Giles managed to survive. It stands to reason we can, too."
"We have to, Giles. I'd just die if we died and didn't get to be together."
"We won't. I really believe that." What other choice did he have? The alternative was unthinkable. She was so warm, so sweet, naked in his arms but for the necklace he'd given her, and when he kissed her, she tasted like chocolate.
When she and Buffy told him about the disk they'd found, Giles looked stunned. "What are you saying?" he asked.
Buffy held out the printout. "The curse," she said. "This is it."
"Looks like Miss Calendar was trying to replicate the original curse," Willow said. "To restore Angel's soul again." She thought this might be her chance to make peace with Miss Calendar, to make things right - and, of course, to help Buffy. But Giles looked as though he'd seen a ghost.
"This is good, right?" Cordelia said. "We can curse him again."
"This certainly points the way," he said, "but the ritual itself requires a greater knowledge of the black arts than I can claim."
Willow approached him. "You know I've been going through Miss Calendar's files and researching the black arts. I may be able to work this."
He put his hands on her shoulders. "Willow...channeling such potent magicks through yourself could open a door that you may not be able to close. And while you might want to follow in the other Willow's footsteps - "
"Excuse me - what?" Xander asked. "What do you mean, follow in her footsteps?"
"The other Willow was a witch," Buffy said.
"Am I the only one out of the loop here?" Xander asked. Willow felt bad. She had only just told Buffy more about the other Willow, now that their friendship was back on track. Her friendship with Xander, on the other hand, had suffered greatly since she'd gotten involved with Giles, and especially since he'd found out about them. She wondered if they'd ever be close again.
"I didn't know about it either," Cordelia said. "That other Willow wasn't all warty or anything, was she?"
"Witches are so not like that!" Willow said.
Cordy rolled her eyes. "Sorry - just checking!"
"The point is," Willow said, turning back to Giles, "I may be the best person to do the spell."
"It's true that curing Angel seems to have been Jenny's last wish," he said.
"Oh, and you cared so much about Miss Calendar's wishes when you were putting the moves on Willow," Xander said.
Giles turned on him. "That is enough!"
"Xander!" Willow said. This was really bad. Giles looked completely enraged.
"Come on, Will," Xander said, "you know it's true. Angel killed Miss Calendar - but hey, all is forgiven? Give him back his soul?" He turned to Buffy. "You wanna forget all about Miss Calendar's murder so you can get your boyfriend back." Then he turned to Giles. "And you want to forget Miss Calendar, because you've moved on."
"How dare you?" Giles advanced on him. Buffy got between him and Xander.
Willow tried to stop herself from shaking. "Buffy," she said, "what do you wanna do?" At her quavering voice, Giles turned.
"I don't know," Buffy said. "I don't know..." She walked out of the library.
Willow stared at Xander. He glowered at her - then he got up and marched out of the library. Cordy shrugged, then followed him.
They were alone, thankfully. He took her hand.
"I'm sorry," she said. "He had no right to say those things."
"Don't apologize for him," he murmured. That angry look he'd worn was gone. He gazed at her with tenderness. "Are you all right?"
She felt on the verge of tears. "No," she said. "But I'm so glad we'll be together the next few nights." Her parents had left that morning to visit family in Phoenix.
"I'm glad, too. Especially with summer looming."
She sighed. "Why does it have to be so difficult?"
"In spite of everything, it feels terribly simple to me. I love you, Willow."
She squeezed his hand. "Giles, I - "
Jonathan walked in, and they let go of each other's hands. "I need a book on the Cuban Missile Crisis."
Pretty soon the situation in Sunnydale made the Cuban Missile Crisis look like a walk in the park. It was save-the-world time again.
Willow sat cross-legged on the library table. She was nervous, but also excited to be doing her first big spell, and to be doing it with Giles. Kendra guarded the doors. Cordelia made with the incense, while Xander...well, Xander did nothing really, except watch with low-key disapproval.
Willow cast the stones. She turned to Giles and nodded.
He opened the volume and read: "Quod perditum est, invenietur." He was so sexy when he read those dead languages. Oh, the things she was gonna do to him tonight, if the world didn't end...
Okay, she told herself, not now with the lust. She began: "Not dead, nor not of the living. Spirits of the interregnum I call."
They hadn't gotten very far before vampires burst in. "Get out! Go!" Giles shouted to her and Cordelia.
She went up the stairs, praying that Giles would be right behind her - but he wasn't. Xander was fighting a vampire. She hid behind a bookcase. Giles, please hurry up, she thought. Please be all right.
The bookcase crashed down on her, and she screamed. It hurt and it didn't. It happened too fast for her to feel it. She had a flash of memory - she and Giles sitting on the floor, she straddling him, his eyes cherishing her as she moved on him - Giles - then she lost consciousness.
He came to on the floor...somewhere. The first thing he saw was Angel's gleeful face. "Hi, Rupert. I wasn't sure you were gonna wake up." Nimbly he leapt to his feet.
Slowly Giles stood. "What do you want?"
"Sorry to take you away from your little schoolgirl. I know how much fun schoolgirls can be. Maybe I should give your girl a try - she's so cute, so helpless. I bet you enjoy that about her."
"You stay away from Willow. I swear, if you hurt her, I'll kill you." Then he saw Acathla, the sword protruding from it.
Angel chuckled. "I'll tell you what. You tell me about Acathla, what I'm doing wrong with the rituals, and maybe I won't fuck and kill Willow. Not necessarily in that order."
Giles shook his head. "If I tell you what you want to know, you'll unleash hell on earth, and we'll all die."
"Well, there is that. Besides, I don't even know if your girlfriend survived my minions' little onslaught."
Please, Giles thought - please let her be all right.
"I can see that your girlfriend's not a valuable enough bargaining chip. Fine with me. I really wanna torture you, anyway."
And he did.
Willow couldn't wake up. Or maybe she didn't want to. Her head felt huge and full of cotton batting, like a fluffy cloud with a headache. "I love you," Giles said. Giles was there. She needed to wake up. With a tremendous effort, she forced herself up through layers of sleep. She squeezed his hand.
"Giles," she whispered. "Giles..."
"No, Will...it's me, Xander."
She opened her eyes. "Xander...where's Giles?"
He bent towards her. He looked worried. "Giles isn't here."
It was coming back to her - vampires in the library. "Can you call him for me? I know it makes you uncomfortable, but I need to see him."
"Willow...we think Angel has him."
"What?" She closed her eyes tight. "No. Oh, no..." She started to cry. It made her head feel even weirder than it already did. "Giles..."
He was still holding her hand. She tried to pull it away, but he wouldn't let go. "We'll get him back."
She looked at him, at his wholly unconvincing eyes. "God, oh god. What if he's..."
"Willow, we'll get him back."
She couldn't stop thinking about how they were supposed to spend the night together, with her parents out of town. If they could just find him, everything would be okay. They'd go back to his place and be together. It would be like none of this had happened. She couldn't seem to get her mind around the idea that she might never see him again.
"Rupert, buddy...I'm here to tell you, I'm impressed."
He wondered if this had happened to the other Giles. If only the older Willow could've warned him. If this had happened to the other Giles, he had lived through it. But if it hadn't...
Willow, he thought. Please let her be all right. Please let me see her again. This can't be all the time we got to have together. They got married. I never told her that I wanted to marry her too. I was afraid it was too soon, she was too young, there would be time to tell her, later...
"Tell me when it hurts."
Willow was on the phone with Buffy. "Any luck finding Giles?"
"Yep - I got a lucky break." She sounded confident.
Thank god, thank god. "What?"
"You wouldn't believe me if I told you."
"He has to be okay, Buffy," she said. "I love him so much."
"I know. I'll get him back - I promise."
"Thank you." She was trying not to cry again. "I'm sorry I didn't get to cure Angel." It was hard for her to think of anything but Giles. The world was still slated to end if Buffy didn't get to Angel first - but she couldn't think about the world, or even her own life (since, after all, she was in the world).
"It just wasn't meant to be," Buffy said. "I know I'm never gonna get him back the way he was. It just makes it easier."
And then it occurred to Willow. She needed to try the spell again.
"I don't like it," Xander said. It seemed like that was all he said these days. "You're talking about messing with powerful magic, and you're weak."
"This can help save Giles. It can help Buffy." She let him have it with her resolve face. Then she sent Cordy to the library to get her magic stuff, and told Xander to go let Buffy know what she was planning.
It would be a little weird doing a spell with Cordelia, but if it could help Giles, it was worth a try.
The torture had ceased for the moment. Drusilla wiped his forehead with a cloth. He braced for attack. Perhaps she would kill him - even turn him. Given the choice, he hoped she would merely kill him.
Instead she called him "poor thing." She stared at him with those dark, amoral eyes. "Be in me," she said, and he could not look away. "See with your heart."
Then she was with him, as close as Drusilla had been. "Willow...my darling girl. Thank god you're all right."
She smiled. It made him forget the pain to see her smile like that. "Giles, I'm fine."
"I was so afraid I'd never see you again."
"I'll never leave you," she said. "I love you."
"I love you. God, I love you. We have to get out of here. Angel...he'll hurt you."
She touched his cheek. "Did you tell Angel? About the ritual?"
"No. We have to get him away from Acathla."
Her beautiful eyes gleamed in the dark. "Tell me what to do. We'll be together. I love you more than anyone. Just tell me what to do."
He told her Angel's blood was the key to awakening Acathla. Then Willow kissed him. Thank god, he thought, everything is going to be all right. But her lips were so cold.
She pulled away. "Sorry...I was in the moment." Drusilla's voice. He opened his eyes. "Willow..." he whispered. Drusilla laughed.
"You just wave the incense," Willow said from her hospital bed. "I'll handle the Latin and the translation. It should work out okay. I hope."
"I don't know about this," Cordelia said. "Just don't accidentally turn me into a toad or give me warts or anything."
"You're awfully fixated on warts, aren't you?"
She began to recite the Latin, thinking of Giles. Then she thought of the older Willow. Had she done this spell too? "Not dead, nor not of the living..."
Xander appeared at the mansion. At first Giles thought it was another trick. "Willow," he said. "Is she..."
"She's going to be fine," Xander said, supporting him. "But you don't look so hot." He got him out of there. He managed to flag down a car and got the driver to take them to the emergency room.
"I must see Willow," he said at the hospital.
"You can barely walk," Xander said. "Let a doctor take a look at you first."
"Are you sure she's all right?"
"Head trauma - but the doctors say she'll be fine." Xander stared at him. "Aren't you in a lot of pain?"
He gave a ragged laugh. "Of course I am. That hardly matters."
The coin seemed to drop then - and Xander smiled at him for the first time since he'd found out about him and Willow. "Soon as we get you checked out, I promise I'll take you right to her."
It felt like hours before a doctor saw him. Finally Xander helped him walk to Willow's room.
"Hey, Will - got yourself a visitor."
She looked so small and pale in the bed. But when she saw him, her face lit up, and she opened her arms. He got to her as quickly as he could.
"Willow, are you all right? Thank god you're safe..."
"Me? What about you?"
He sat on the edge of the bed and put his arms around her - gently, for both their sakes. She was crying softly. "You're hurt," she whispered. "Your poor head is all gashed." She reached up and touched his forehead. "And your fingers...did he break your fingers?"
"I'm all right. Everything's going to be fine."
"Unless the world ends, of course," Xander said. But he was smiling slightly.
"I think the spell worked," Willow said. "I felt something go through me." She brightened. "Giles, I did the spell!"
"You're a wonder," he said.
"Maybe Angel got his soul back before he could, you know, end the world," she said. "Maybe Buffy's with him now."
"Perhaps she'll be along shortly." He couldn't help but think she would. After all, he had survived, and he was far less hardy than Buffy. He had survived to be with his beloved again.
"I'm gonna leave the two of you alone for awhile," Xander said. "I'll be out in the hall. I'll give you a heads up if your parents show, Will."
"Xander, thank you," Willow said. "Thank you for bringing him back to me."
"Yes," Giles said, "thank you."
His eyes shone. "I'm just glad you're both gonna be okay." He left the room and shut the door.
"Did you see that?" Willow asked. "He's on our side. Took both of us getting all injured, but..."
He kissed her. It had made his blood run cold when he realized he'd kissed Drusilla. But Willow's warm, soft lips blotted out that memory.
"So if Buffy's okay, and the world doesn't end, and you and I heal up, everything will be great," she said. "Oh, and I still need to be a year older."
"Slightly less than a year," Giles said, and she smiled. They were together. Somehow he believed everything would be all right.
Giles phoned from Seattle Friday night with the usual news. "Another false lead, I'm afraid."
"Uh huh." A burst of irrational anger went through her. Lousy summer, lousy false leads. Thank god school would be starting soon.
"Willow? Are you there?"
She was sitting on the edge of the bed. Her house felt very big and lonely. "I'm here. I wish you were."
"I'll be home tomorrow morning."
"My parents left this afternoon." The long-awaited parental trip out of town, and here she was, alone.
"I know. I'm sorry. But we'll have a wonderful weekend together, as we planned."
"Almost as we planned." She sighed. "I'm sorry - I'm being all bitchy. You know I want you to look for her. I just miss you is all."
"I miss you, darling."
When they hung up, she just sat there. Friday night. She supposed she could call Xander. Maybe he'd want to rent a video or go to the Bronze. Nah, she'd rather mope. Or maybe she could try another spell. Fire out of ice?
An hour later, she'd burned a nice hole in her bedspread. Perfect. Maybe she'd better stick with making feathers float for the time being.
She stared at the blackened hole she'd made. Damn false leads. Damn Buffy running away.
She felt guilty for thinking that. She missed Buffy and hoped she was okay - but yes, sometimes she resented all the time Giles spent looking for her.
It hadn't been a bad summer - much of it had been very nice. When summer school was in session, she visited the library often enough, and no one seemed to think that odd, geek that she was. Once she'd gotten over her fear of the stacks (what with being crushed unconscious under the shelves), she and Giles had fun there again. They fooled around in his office, too. Sometimes they'd just kiss, sometimes she got down on her knees before him. Sometimes he pushed into her, standing up, or on the floor.
They spent plenty of evenings and weekends together, too. After summer school finished, she would walk to his place in the morning, let herself in and crawl into bed with him. Sometimes she brought donuts. But every week, or every other week at least, he went out of town looking for Buffy.
Cordelia was out of town for the summer, and she hung out with Xander, both of them missing their respective people - although Willow assumed she missed Giles much more, because who could miss Cordelia that much?
Some nights she patrolled with Giles and Xander, sometimes Oz too (when there wasn't a full moon), and they tried to do some slaying, with mixed results. But they didn't die, which was the main thing. When Giles was away, sometimes she patrolled with Xander and Oz, and Giles begged her to be careful. She was.
It was still early, but Willow got undressed, put on a sleep shirt and crawled into bed with her John Donne book. She read a couple of poems and stared at the inscription: To Willow, with all my love, RG. The thought popped into her head: Not all his love. And that was stupid, because she loved Buffy too. She wished so much that Buffy were here, so she could tell her about her forays into witchcraft and her serious dating with Giles. She talked to Giles about these things, of course, but she missed her girlfriend.
She read the inscription again, and this time no insecure thoughts blurted at her. He loved her. He'd be home tomorrow.
The next day, he picked her up in the afternoon, and they drove to Breakers Woods. "Are you sure you're not too tired from your flight?"
He put his hand on hers. "I've been so looking forward to this, Willow."
"Me, too. Our first-ever trip out of town together! Even if it's just barely out of town."
They walked through the woods hand in hand, and it was almost stereotypically romantic - except for the part where he showed her where the Druids had performed rituals. That was more their speed.
"It's so green here," she said. "Nice to be someplace with greenery that's not a cemetery." He opened his mouth to speak, then closed it. "What were you gonna say?"
"I was just thinking of home...of England."
"'England's green and pleasant land'?"
He smiled. "Quite. Have you been reading Blake?" She got the feeling he'd wanted to say something more, but she didn't press.
Before nightfall, he set up a tent. "It would be lovely to sleep under the stars with you," he said, "but on the off chance anyone should show up..."
"Just another thing we'll have to wait until I'm eighteen to do," she grumbled.
He put on his glasses and gazed mildly at her. "Are you still feeling cross about my leaving town?"
She shook her head. "I'm sorry - I'm just cranky. It's so good to be with you." She put her arms around him and pressed her face into his chest.
It began to get chilly, and he built a fire. They ate the sandwiches, fruit and chocolate she'd packed, and he brewed some tea over the campfire. "It's quite impressive that you know how to do all this stuff," she said. "Pitching tents and building fires. You're so...capable."
He put his arms round her. "I'm glad you approve."
Absently she rubbed the nubbly sleeve of his sweater as she stared into the fire. "It's been years since I've done anything hike-y - not since I was in the girl scouts. I slept under the stars once - and I got a mosquito bite on my nose."
He gave a chuckle and kissed her cheek, kissed her hair.
"I was a lousy girl scout...I was much happier in school, even though the kids picked on me. I did like toasting marshmallows, though. Too bad we didn't bring any." She looked up - there were stars, some clouds. "I'm so glad school's starting soon."
When she turned, he was gazing at her as if searching for the little girl she'd been. "Are you sure everything's all right, dearest? You sound a little...dispirited."
She fought the urge to say Everything's fine. "Well, there is something. But it's gonna sound so petty, and you'll think I'm a terrible person."
"I sincerely doubt that, Willow."
Sometimes she was afraid she'd say the wrong thing, and he'd realize he didn't love her after all. But she couldn't live in fear of that. "Okay...I'll say it. Sometimes I'm jealous of Buffy."
"Jealous of Buffy? But why?"
"I mean, I know you don't feel about her the way you feel about me. Right?"
He kissed her lips. "Right."
"I know you care about her - and so do I. But she got to spend so much time with you, training and all. And I know she didn't appreciate it the way I would. Not that I'd want to train with you, I mean, but...you spent all this time with her, because you're her Watcher. And now you're spending all this time looking for her - and I really hope she's okay, and I miss her a lot. But I can't help but feel like it doesn't matter to her that you're looking for her...not the way it matters to me to have you with me. And I know that sounds awful."
He listened with his head slightly bowed, just a trace of a smile at the corners of his mouth. "It doesn't sound awful. I understand - and I'm glad you told me."
"I just...want more. More time with you. More everything."
"Does it help at all to know that I feel exactly the same way?"
"Actually it helps a lot." It was such a relief to finally say all this stuff and have him be so sweet about it.
"In fact...there's something I've been wanting to tell you for some time."
Oh, now what? "Something bad?"
He smoothed her hair. "I hope you'll think it's something good."
He looked at the fire for a good couple of minutes. Then he turned to her. "It's just that I want more with you, too. So much more. When you're older, when we can, I want to marry you."
Her mouth opened so wide, she could've caught flies - even mosquitoes. "Wow. Wow..." It took a minute to sink in. Then her happiness rose to such a pitch, it didn't seem quite possible. "Giles, I want that, too!"
"You do? I had hoped..." He cradled the side of her face with his hand, leaned in and kissed her. "I'm so glad you feel the same." He kissed her again.
"You really didn't know I would? How long have you been thinking about this?"
A rueful grin flashed across his face. "For a very long time. It's just that you're still so young. Most girls your age are thinking about who they're going to the school dance with, and where they might want to go to college - not making lifetime commitments."
"I made that commitment to you long ago, Giles."
"Earlier, when I mentioned England...I wanted to say that someday I'd like to take you there with me. Perhaps even to live there."
"Really?" She felt a bit overwhelmed at the prospect - but also excited. "You know, speaking of college, I was thinking of applying to Oxford and Cambridge."
"That's wonderful. You should."
"But what about the Hellmouth and Buffy and Watchering and all?"
He pulled her closer. "There's plenty of time to think about all of that."
She imagined being with Giles in England. The British Museum. Oxford. Some big green countryside-like field. It seemed unreal that she could have all of that with him. "I used to fantasize about it," she said. "Before you told me how you felt about me. That you would take me to England and show me where you used to work. That we would be together."
"You did?" He got that melty expression that so often seemed to come over him when he looked at her. Then he pulled himself together. "But I thought it was Xander you used to daydream about."
"Well, yes...Xander. Also John Cusack. But Giles, that it turned out to be you...that's still so beyond my wildest dreams."
"Even with all my...Watchering? Not to mention my being so much older than you?"
"That's all part of who you are. I wouldn't change a thing."
"Nor would I..." He kissed her at length. It occurred to Willow - although thinking was pretty much optional at this point - that this had turned out to be one of the best nights of her life.
A little later he put out the fire, and they got in the tent. They made love in the zipped-together sleeping bags. He moved inside her, his body furnace-hot, and they began to sweat, though the night air kept her nose cold. His face was close to hers in the dark, and she reached up to touch his hair, to put her arms around his neck and kiss him. His tongue pushed inside her mouth.
She wrapped her legs around his, moved her hands over his sleek back and down to his ass to push him in deeper again and again. That seemed to excite him, and she felt him grow even bigger inside her. "I'm close..." he breathed. "Oh, Willow...I love you so..." She caressed his open mouth with hers until, with a last hard thrust, he moaned and arched his back.
"I love you, Giles," she whispered, holding him. He stayed inside her, hard enough for her to grind up against him, the tension quickly building. She cried out and contracted deliciously around him.
They lay in each other's arms, the quiet of the woods surrounding them, punctuated by an owl's occasional who whoing. He fell asleep first. Hopefully no vampires frequented these parts - but they had stakes, crosses and holy water in case. That made her think of Buffy, with a flash of guilt to be so happy when very likely her friend was not. But Buffy had accepted her and Giles, and she wanted their happiness. That much Willow knew. She slept.
In the morning they drove back to town, so they could spend Sunday at his house - which meant reading and listening to music, eating and making love. She kept smiling at him in the car. "I feel so relaxed," she said. "That was a wonderful trip."
"I thought so too, dearest."
"Though I am craving a hot shower."
"We'll take one as soon as we get home."
As they neared his place, the usual cares descended upon her - finding Buffy, keeping their relationship a secret, fighting vampires. But Giles looked so beautiful, his intelligent eyes focused on the road, flicking over to look at her, a smile playing across his lips.
She thought of the other Willow, who had made this happen for her. She believed it would have happened between her and Giles eventually, but she was so glad she hadn't had to wait until she was older. She sent a silent thanks to the older Willow, wherever she was, already married to Giles, as she would be one day.