The Trouble With Baking
written by Karesia


Rating: FRC
Spoilers: Through the series finale of BtVS.
Summary: Giles tries to help Buffy work through something that's bothering her.
Feedback Author: Karesia
Author's Website: Karesia's Kards


Concerned soft jade eyes watched over his book as the figure before him went from another round of vigorous step exercising to punching the invisible foe that only she could see. If she wasn’t working out with such emphasis he might have just assumed it was habit, keeping in shape, staying ready – always prepared for that next danger. His slayer. The one who had always bucked tradition, the one that lived past her 21st birthday. She had died twice and still that hadn’t stopped her. And whether she wanted to admit it to herself or not, she still had that fire inside her. Mostly though, despite all that had happened, she still had the support of her friends and mixed with her stubbornness, skill, and determination not to ever give up, it was that extra push that had propelled her through her worst times. A twinkle passed quickly in the green eyes, highlighting the brown patch and, had someone witnessed, betraying just how proud he was of her.

Her invisible foe beaten, or perhaps just knocked unconscious for the time being, Buffy began to gear up for another round of serious aerobicizing. When the sudden loud volume of her “exercise music”, or what he liked to refer to as noise, filled the peaceful room, Giles’ eyes rolled back in his head. He placed his book on the end table and crossed the room towards the stereo, which he promptly lowered to an acceptable volume – mute.

“Hey! What gives?”

“What’s the matter Buffy?”

“Matter? Well, I’m trying to workout, stay in shape, and someone just turned off my inspirational muse.” She quipped in defense and to avoid really answering him.

“If you continue to work out they’ll be nothing left of you. And I’d hardly call that noise a muse.”

Buffy looked down at herself and than back to her Watcher and shrugged, ignoring his slam against her taste in music.

“Care to tell me about it or shall I just continue to watch you battling this invisible foe?”

Buffy sighed inwardly. About ready to come up with some quip about battling things she can’t see, her eyes met his and she saw the concern there. She hadn’t realized he had noticed that she was doing anything more than habitual training, hadn’t realized he was watching….

Sitting down she pouted ever so slightly; “Why is it you can *always* see through my facades?”

“I’m your watcher….it’s my job.” He chided softly with a brief smile, as he sat down next to her and removed his glasses.

“It’s Angel.”

“Oh?”

“Well, and Spike…….and Riley and Parker and me and…….”

“So this is about your love life?”

“Yes… and no.”

“Oh dear lord. You know, it's times like this I miss your mother most.”

Buffy smiled, surprised. “You miss mom? You never told me……”

Giles gently lifted her hand reassuringly. “Much like her daughter, your mother was an incredible woman Buffy. After she learned what you were, after she stopped blaming me for… we worked out the issues between us. I daresay we had become almost friends, especially once you moved out into the dorm. “

Tears threatened to spill from her eyes as his words stroked the still-mourning part inside her. Not to mention the waterworks getting an extra push from his expertly concealed compliment. She swallowed them back and managed to meet his concerned gaze, his large, warm hand still engulfing hers.

“When Angel came to Sunnydale to help us defeat the First….we kinda had a discussion of sorts. About us.”

“I didn’t realize you had been considering……” he said, removing his hand from hers.

“I hadn’t been. I mean I’m not. It, well it’s complicated.”

Giles chuckled. “As it is always apt to be where Angel is concerned.”

Buffy couldn’t help but let out a chuckle herself. “Yes well, he had a right this time to wonder….”

Buffy saw the confused look on his face. With a demonstrative intake of breath she tried to sum up for him what had taken place. “I loved Angel more than I thought possible, but we can never really be together anyway, even if I’m done being cookie dough. Spike really loved me and even he admitted that molding me into a certain shape just doesn’t mean I’m ready to be put in the oven or that the baking is complete. Until I know what kind of cookie I’m going to be, how could I ever make another decision about a romantic partner? No matter how much someone might want to eat me.”

Giles simply blinked at her. “P-pardon?”

Buffy rolled her eyes. “Not *that* kind of eating, good God Giles, potty brain much?”

“I – I’m not sure I’m following.”

Buffy grinned, now realizing what that must have sounded like in one breath like that. With a glimmer in her eye she decided to take advantage of the opportunity to get one in on her Watcher. “It’s an analogy Giles – you know, the kind of thing *you’re* supposed to be good at deciphering. Easier than a prophecy anyway.”

“Oh ha-ha.” He retorted.

“Basically, I’ve decided that I’m cookie-dough…”

“Cookie dough?”

“Yeah, you know, the raw stuff that the cookies are before they finally become the cookie.”

“So you are worried that you are not a full fledged cookie. What does that have to do with Angel?”

“I was telling him how right now I think it’s time for me to find out what kind of cookie I’m going to be. I mean, am I a straight up chocolate chip cookie woman or am I going to be more of a dull, oatmeal cookie.”

“You would never be dull, even if you are oatmeal Buffy, you’d have at least raisins or some other surprise in you.”

She smiled. “Maybe I’m a peanut butter cookie, with chocolate chips – that could be exciting.”

“Ah, but then you’d stick to the top of people’s mouths.”

“GILES!”

He pulled up his sweater sleeve and gave her a devilish grin. “What?”

Her you-naughty-boy look was enough to make him blush slightly. “But see that’s just it, how can I be presented for….consumption….if I’m still all raw and doughy?”

“Buffy, even if you still feel raw, there are core parts that make up who you are. Oatmeal will never be peanut butter no matter how long it bakes.”

“I know. Which is why I could never love Spike like he wanted me to love him. I’m peanut butter and he’s oatmeal. We look good on the same plate, but that’s about it.”

Giles couldn’t help but laugh. “You realize if Dawn and the others heard this conversation they’d have us both committed to some mental institution?”

“For sure.”

“So what about Angel?”

“What about him?”

“Do you still think you could become the kind of cookie that he would want?”

“I think he thinks I will be. But, I don’t know, thinking about it recently, I’ve kinda decided that Angel is a well-done chocolate chip cookie. He’s done, baked – a very long time baked.”

“And this is a bad thing?”

“No, not in theory. I love chocolate chip cookies, like most everyone does. And as much as I may love chocolate chip cookies and will always love them, they aren’t always the best for you. And there is always the issue of my shelf life not being quite as long. What if I’m not baked as well and my softness won’t allow me to last as long. That’s something important to consider as well.”

“So you are saying you want variety and something that will match your expiration date?”

Buffy smiled at his summary. “Not necessarily, there’s just so much to consider about cookies and their interaction.”

“That’s the trouble with baking Buffy, every chef will put something different into the mix. Baking can be a very tricky process, but the end result is always the best when the chef finds the combination that works best for him/her.”

Buffy considered his words. He was right, as he often was – as much as she loathed sometimes admitting that. Fact was, her relationship with Giles was always evolving and changing. This past year was not their best period, but she had also been thinking recently how grateful she had been that they went through that. After everything had been resolved with the First, they had had a long talk about what had happened. Giles had once again surprised her by being more understanding about her behavior than she expected, and if she were honest, more than she deserved. They mutually had decided to finally stop pretending things hadn’t changed and to begin to work together on the adult level instead of the levels of their past.

And here he was again, guiding her, understanding her – even down to her cookie analogy – but allowing her to ultimately decide what was right and best for her. It was one of the things she loved about him. “Thanks.”

“I hardly think I helped, but you’re welcome. Do you feel any better?”

“Actually, yes. I think I do.” She moved to get up and picked up off the coffee table the magazines she was working her way through. “I think I’m going to go do some more baking in a nice hot, relaxing bath.” She looked at the cover of the top one and decided she was more in the mood for the other and dropped it back onto the coffee table.

As she started out of the room Giles said lightheartedly to her retreating form; “So, just out of curiosity Buffy, if you’re peanut butter, Spike is oatmeal and Angel is chocolate chip – what kind of cookie would I be?”

She looked back at him, gray-blue eyes meeting his soft green ones and said, “Double chocolate fudge – definitely.”

As Giles heard the water being run, he pondered her quick response until something on the magazine cover caught his eye. There it was, in bold, the name of one of the features; “Polls unanimous – favorite flavor combination: peanut butter and chocolate”

The Watcher looked from the magazine toward the bathroom and a smile spread across his face.

END