“Will you patrol with me?”


“What do you mean, 'why?'”

“You heard. It's very late. You haven't asked me to patrol with you in almost a year, and now you're standing on my doorstep at,” he looked at his watch with a flourish, “Eleven forty two p.m. on a week night demanding that I come out with you.”

Buffy slowly looked up the robe-clad length of him to his reddened face. “I didn't demand,” she said quietly. “I just asked, but I'm sorry to bug you. It doesn't matter.”

Giles grabbed her arm as she turned.

“Why?” he asked far more gently.

“Too many reasons,” she said without turning. “Mostly I don't want to be alone.”

The hand on her arm fell away. “Oh.”

She turned back slowly, searched his face again. “In the First Slayer's little dreamfest…I was looking everywhere for you guys…but I couldn't find any of you. I don't ever want to be that alone again.”

Giles regarded his bare feet, not sure why he was so disappointed. “I knew it had affected you, but not this much.”

“Neither did I,” she said, looking at him as though she hadn't seen him before. “But I keep having different Buffy versions of that nightmare, over and over…”

Giles looked up, his green eyes looking at her keenly. “Visions?”

Buffy swallowed. “I don't think so. Everyone of them is about me not…” She frowned. “Giles, can I come in?”

He seemed realise for the first time that they were still talking on the porch. “Oh…oh, yes,” he stammered and stood aside to let her pass. It was coming up to summer and a warm night, so Buffy's outfit consisted of shorts, a pretty, white, peasant-style blouse and white sneakers, all of which he absorbed silently as he followed her in.

“You were saying?” he prompted, when she seemed to be distracted almost immediately by the tray of trinkets spilled out on his desk.

She turned and he noticed for the first time how tired she looked. “Oh. My dreams. Forget it. I-It's nothing. My problem.”

Giles folded his arms. “Not any more,” he said pointedly. “You'll be good enough to at least finish your last sentence.”

For a brief moment her eyes narrowed stubbornly and it seemed she would argue, then the wind seemed to go out of her sails.

“Almost all my dreams since the First Slayer visited us have been, well, nightmares …about us,” she admitted awkwardly. “I'm always alone, and I can't find you anywhere. Nowhere. I call and call and you don't come. I search everywhere…”

“Go on,” Giles prompted, straightening and dropping his arms.

“They're all like that. Sometimes I need you to research something so I don't get killed, or so I can save someone, or I have to find you to save you, and sometimes I just want to talk to you…And sometimes its because…because you've left me,” she finished forlornly.

“I have no intention of leaving you,” he said gently.

The blue-grey eyes grew haunted. “In my dreams it's always my fault. I did it to you. It was always me who hurt you and made you disappear.”

He reached out and touched her arm. “It's all right. I'm still here.”

“No, it's not. All the things that hurt you in my nightmares… The worst thing is, it's mostly stuff that really happened. Well, without the purple vampires anyway, or…or the exploding Olivia. Sorry about that…” She frowned. “Or the you in the black leather with Riley in the nerdy all-white suit at my birthday party…”

The muscles in Giles' jaw visibly strained to stop the sudden flash of amusement that danced in his eyes, from escaping.

“Exploding Olivia?” he managed eventually, picking the least amusing item to focus on.

She shrugged. “I guess I have issues,” she said without elaboration. “It was after she said 'he appears' or something, the first time I ever saw her, you know, when you came out of the bathroom. She kind of exploded into millions of little bits of blue cheese then you came out and…” Her eyes widened. The next was a bit she hadn't intended to mention… to anyone. “Never mind,” she said quickly. “The purple vampires were way weirder.”

“I'm sure they were,” Giles said quietly, curious, but not willing to push the issue. “Have you heard from Riley recently?”

She shook her head. “He called about a week ago from the farm. Said everything was fine, that he was enjoying the down time…and that he still had some things to work through. I wish he was here…”

All expression wiped itself from the handsome face. “Why don't you sit down while I change?” he said suddenly.

Buffy blinked as he took the stairs by twos. “Giles, is something wrong?”

“What? No…not at all. What gave you that idea?” he yelled from the loft.

“Oh nothing, just you doing an impression of a startled jackrabbit all of a sudden.”

“A what?

Buffy looked up the stairs and drew a sharp breath. He was holding a shirt, but was naked to the waist and without glasses, looking down at her as though she'd taken leave of her senses.

She'd never seen him without, well, layers, before…except in a few of those nightmares. She shook off the warmth of those memories and compared the reality to the dream. Not much different, except perhaps a little more chest hair, a little more width in the shoulder, less in the waist, and, unexpectedly, way more disturbing than the illusion.

She swallowed and tried to find her voice, surprised how difficult it was to keep her eyes above the waist of his silk pyjama bottoms. “Y-you heard me,” she stammered. “First you're mad because I ask you to patrol with me, and now you can't get dressed fast enough…except you're not…dressed, I mean.”

Giles seemed to become aware of his state of undress for the first time. “Oh lord,” he muttered and disappeared back into the loft.

“You don't have to come,” she called after him. “I mean, it's okay, I know you said I had to handle stuff by myself now that I'm in college. I honestly didn't mean to bug you. I don't even know why I came…”

There was no answer from above. A few moments later she frowned and started up the steps before she thought about what she was doing. She had turned at the landing to face his room before she actually did.

Giles was sitting on the bed, in a pair of black jeans she'd never seen before, new black sneakers and, still unbuttoned, the dark shirt he was carrying earlier. Tipped out of a sport bag she hadn't seen since the library burned down, onto the quilt, were some of their favourite weapons and a bunch of stakes.

It wasn't those which caught her attention, however, it was the small piece of jewellery he was looking at.

“I haven't seen that since before the Ascension,” she said quietly.

He jumped, but only for a moment, then spoke without looking up. “I know. I found it under a shelf when I was doing my last inspection of the library before setting the explosives.”

“I must have lost it when we were training,” she agreed, something flickering in her eyes. “When exactly was the last time we trained together?”

“Do you really want to know?” he asked, a surprisingly bitter edge to his voice.

Buffy's eyes widened, and her colour ebbed a little. “That long, huh?”

Giles handed her the bracelet. It had little or no value, except as a colourful fashion accessory, and she'd forgotten it existed until now.

'That long,” he confirmed softly. “Why did you come here tonight?”

“Why did you keep this?” she countered.

He got up suddenly and moved toward the stairs. “I'm not sure you deserve an answer to that.”


He turned, almost reluctantly. “Why did you come here, after all this time? Is it because Riley is elsewhere? Or a sudden, and one might add, miraculous, attack of remorse?” He spoke without heat, without even accusation in his voice, just a sense of resignation.

“You make it sound like I haven't seen you for a year,” she retorted angrily. “A-And remorse? What is that? Am I supposed to feel guilty for having a life away from slaying…a-away from you? Is that what the drinking was about? You never did tell anyone what Spike said to you.” She dragged a hand through her hair. “What do you want from me, Giles?”

For a long moment he stared at her, so much in his eyes, so much in the deliberate set of his mouth, and then he turned and walked downstairs.

Buffy closed hers, her nightmares closing in on her. He was gone. He was always gone.
She was always so alone in them. Sometimes it was a desert, sometimes the middle of a city … sometimes even his empty apartment. And it hurt. It always hurt…so much.

His voice echoed in her thoughts: Why did you come here?

Why…because she was afraid…because of the last nightmare…because… She swallowed.

The dream had started with Willow telling her Giles was hurt, that he was feeling, in Willowspeak, 'out of the loopy', exactly the way it happened on her last birthday…

Then in a blink, instead of Willow, Giles was sitting opposite her, naked, as he had been in too many of her dreams lately, smiling, as the young witch's disembodied voice droned on and on, listing a litany of mistakes, of awful things Buffy had done, every one of them affecting him, somehow.

He grew a little more insubstantial, and a little sadder with each one, until finally Willow's voice reached an accusatory crescendo as an almost transparent Giles began to waver, and screamed: 'You lost him!' in Tara's voice, as he exploded into dust like a vampire.

At that same moment a breeze had sprung up from nowhere to blow every particle of him from the table, from the ground, his chair, even from her face and hair until not a trace remained.

It was over in just moments, and then there was…nothing.

Just the silence: sterile, empty silence in the midst of the chaos of the coffee shop…and life. She sat in a bubble of nothing…a shatteringly Giles-less nothing

Buffy blinked and shook herself. There was a soul-destroying horror in that nightmare that had stayed with her ever since, haunting her until she had to see him…if only to confirm the living, breathing reality of him to her totally wigged psyche. She clenched her fists against her body's reaction to reliving it yet again.

Downstairs, Giles stood in front of his whisky tray, but refused to pick up the bottle.

Since the episode with Spike he'd gradually drawn back inside himself. He would never again be the stammering Librarian who had so vigilantly tried to stand guard against the emergence of the Ripper or any of his horrible past, but in these last weeks he had found his centre again, away from Buffy, away from the emotional turmoil stirred up so easily by the vampire.

He stared with contempt at the half-empty bottle. He wasn't proud of what he'd done to himself because of her. And he couldn't afford to let it happen again.

He moved away, went to the table and the box of talismans and trinkets he'd been sorting before Buffy arrived and started to put them away. It was the third time since the earthquake that he'd had them out with the intention of identifying and cataloguing every piece, so that nothing as stupid as the incident with the Word of Valios, would ever happen again...

“I'm going now,” a strained voice said unsteadily behind him, breaking the silence and
making him jump. “Before I hurt you any more. But I wanted…I wanted you to know…I only came here tonight because of the nightmares…because I needed to see you, to hear you…to know you were okay.”

He snapped the box closed and straightened, but didn't turn. The odds that anything was going to change after all this time were still so very...

He closed his eyes. “Why?”

“Giles, I need you…I don't ever want you to go away.”

And how many times had he heard that before…?

“I see.”

Buffy made herself continue. “I can't…losing you hurts so much…I was so angry when you tried to kill yourself by fighting Angelus…but it was because I was so scared of losing you…and that test…I thought we were finished…that I'd lost you forever…and then Ethan turned you into a demon and I thought you were dead…”

“And yet you happily left Sunnydale after our little interlude with Angelus…without so much as a word…not even goodbye,” he observed very softly.

Buffy stared at the back of the familiar head. “I saw you,” she whispered. “I never told anyone, but I came to the school. I saw all of you. I couldn't leave without knowing. I had to know that you were…okay.”

“Okay?” he laughed bitterly. “I suppose that's one way to describe it.”

Her eyes grew very bright. “I know I left you…but it was just like the nightmares. I was so alone…I missed you so much…”

“And you don't think anyone else was alone? That anyone might have missed you…?” Needed you… His shoulders hunched a little. “Never mind,” he finished softly.

Buffy's eyes grew wider, as her lips parted. “I know I was wrong, okay,” she told him in a shaking voice that was more intense than any shout. “I've known for a very long time. I just don't have…I just don't know how to say I'm sorry. I mean listen to me. Think about the things I've done and then listen to that: 'I'm sorry.' It's nothing. It's worse than nothing. But I don't know how else to make it right. I made some dumb choices…dumb, scared, stupid choices…and I'm not proud of them and I am so sorry…but I still don't know how to make it right.”

“If that's true, then why?” he asked, turning slowly.

Why…?” She repeated, a tremor going through her and her stomach turning over when she finally saw the profound depth of the hurt in his eyes.

He nodded. “This year…?”

Moisture rose and glistened in her eyes as she stared at him. Then the blue-grey pools suddenly grew huge in her small face, as startled as a deer caught in a car's headlights.

Giles became alarmed when the colour drained from her cheeks and started to step towards her, halting only when she raised a hand.

“You want the long version…or the short one?” she finally managed. “Because I just realised I've always known the short one, without knowing I knew…and that makes absolutely no sense…” she babbled, then flushed but didn't elaborate.

He shook his head in bewilderment.

Buffy resisted a sudden, overwhelming, inexplicable urge to throw herself at his neck. Instead she took a deep breath to steady her rapidly disintegrating nerve, and continued.

“The long version goes something like this: Buffy goes to college and discovers she's a very small, scared fish in a very big ocean. So the first excuse she gets, she comes running home, only to find that it's not home any more and she truly is on her own. Not…not only has Watcher-guy decided its time to take a permanent sabbatical from being bugged, he's got company…way more important company than me.”

“That's not true…!” The words were jerked from Giles before he could stop himself.

Buffy's troubled eyes flashed, then slid away. “Buffy decides to do exactly what Watcher-guy tells her to do, only she goes extreme. She goes with the 'I'll show you!' response to a problem. You know, the one normally reserved for six year olds?” she added acidly. “And I was so good at it. First there was Parker, then the beer, then Professor Walsh… Now there was a major piece of judgement on my part. Way to go, Buffy.” Her shoulders slumped and she sighed jaggedly. “Anyway, to keep this long story from turning into War and Peace…and you know the rest anyway: You didn't need me…I didn't need you.”

“Oh, Buffy…” he said, too softly for her to hear.

For several moments there was silence, and then she turned to face him, slowly.

He was surprised to see two bright splashes of colour in her pale cheeks, fear in her eyes as they sought his and her shoulders straightened.

“Like I said, the short version is kinda new,” she said tremulously and came to him. “Everything else still stands…the whole stupid lot of it…but there was one part even I didn't know…until now.” She stopped just inches from him and looked up.

Giles' eyes widened at the raw fear in hers as they stared at each other. His heart jumped and began to race. He didn't know exactly why, only that it was suddenly far more difficult to breathe normally.

Buffy watched him, terrified. Nothing would ever be the same between them again. He was going to freak; going to hate her; he was going to close up like the…

“I love you…!” It wasn't poetic, or dignified, or even romantic, but she'd actually said it. It was out there.

For an endless, frozen moment neither of them moved. Buffy's declaration hung in the air like a frozen scream, waiting for time to start up again.

It was almost more than Giles could do to remain standing. “How…?” he whispered, finally, then shook his head as though angry with himself. “No…there's too much …Angel… Riley. How can you possibly…?”

Buffy reached up and stopped his jaw from moving with a firm palm, holding it, feeling its warmth, its maleness. She also felt him tense.

“Don't think. Feel,” she commanded unsteadily. “Can you feel me trembling? You're doing that.” She took his other hand in her free one and lifted it to her breast. “Can you feel my heart thumping? That's you too.”

When he swallowed, but didn't answer, she let go and leaned forward, pushing the open shirt aside and resting her cheek against his bare sternum.

“Is that me?” she asked, fear still trembling in her voice as she listened to the thundering beat beneath the warm flesh.

Giles made an anguished noise and rested a hand in her hair. “Oh, God. Buffy, please…” he whispered hoarsely.

Her arms slid under the shirt and circled his body as she turned her face to kiss his chest.

“Please what, Giles?” she asked, moving the kisses up to the base of his throat. “Please don't be so scared I can't stop my hands from shaking…? Please don't love you so much I can hardly breathe?”

Two large hands grasped the points of her shoulders and set her away from him, his breath rasping audibly now, his eyes blurred with desire and wide with pain. He dropped his hands and stepped away.

“Please what…?” he managed to repeat tremulously, his voice hardening again to compensate for the hurt in it. “I'll tell you what: Please tell me that I'm not dreaming. Please tell me that you won't be gone again tomorrow, or the day after, when young Riley comes back and smiles just the right way at you again…or the day after that when Angel calls again. Tell me that you won't…”

His head dropped, the sentence unfinished.

Heart in her throat, hope almost paralysing her, Buffy came to him, caught his shaking hands and held them. “I love you,” she repeated with vehemence and pulled his arms around her, wound hers tightly around him again, nestling her face against the soft chest hair. “I love you more than I've ever loved anyone or anything in my life. Everything else is history. It was history a long time ago. I just didn't know it until now. I don't want history Giles. I want you.”

After a beat his arms suddenly came to life, dragging her to him and crushing her in their embrace.

“You are my life, don't you know that?” he breathed. “You always have been.”

Sorrow lanced through Buffy again, the true magnitude of what she'd put him through only just beginning to truly reveal itself to her now painfully exposed heart. Her arms tightened around him.

“I didn't know,” she whispered truthfully against the warmth of his skin. “Oh, God, Giles I'm sorry…I'm so sorry. I love you so much.” When he didn't answer, she put her head back enough to look up at his face, to find and meet the now over bright green eyes.

“I love you,” she repeated, her heart leaping at the light that came into them. “I think maybe I've been in love with you for a long time. Long enough to want Olivia to explode into little bitty pieces of stinky blue cheese the moment I saw her, anyway. I know I don't deserve it, but I want so—”

Buffy's nervous rambling was halted by his big fingers pressing very gently against the tender mouth, her heart by the smile on his face.

And then she was frozen. No moment, nothing she'd ever experienced compared to the anticipation, the sudden suffocating rush of desire, fear, and love that consumed her as his head bent toward hers. She couldn't even close her eyes, watching instead as his sensual mouth found hers and they merged into one.

At that point all her senses stopped functioning on any intelligible level. All she knew was that she never wanted it to stop. That this was what she wanted, where she was always meant to be.

When they finally parted it was only to look at each other, neither willing to relinquish the other further.

He traced the outline of her face with his fingertips, still trying to understand how it was possible.

She closed her eyes and gave herself to his touch, willing him to continue, but once he'd trailed down to the softness at the base of her throat, he stopped. Buffy looked up at him again and saw the doubt in his eyes.

“Don't,” she whispered.


Her fingers traced an imaginary line down his long torso to his belt, felt him shudder at their caress, and shuddered herself. It was so new…so intense…feeling his warm skin, smelling not just the subtle cologne he'd always worn, but the real, heady scent of his body, touching him as a man, as a lover… Her breath caught and she looked up.

“I want this, ” she said simply.

He shook his head. “It's too soon.”

She ran her hands up his chest and pushed his shirt off his shoulders. “No…because of me it's been too damned long. Giles, you know I'm way too challenged to be able to tell you in words…but I can show you…I want to show you.”

Giles stared into the blue grey eyes with a mixture of wonder and trepidation, absorbing the desire, the desperation in them, and most of all the love. The shirt fell to the ground.
For a few more moments he held his breath and then he took her face in his hands.

“I love you more than anything I have ever loved,” he told her softly. “I want you more than I have ever wanted anything…but you have to be certain this is what you want. There is no turning back for us if we do this.”

Buffy drew out of his fingertips and pulled the peasant blouse over her head, revealing only her small, perfect breasts, tender peaks sharp with desire for him.

“No turning back,” she agreed, moulding herself against his body, waves of pure electricity surging through her as the soft flesh of her bosom pressed against the hard warmth of his body. “Love me, Giles…and let me love you.”

“Oh God,” he rasped, swept her off her feet and carried her in his arms to the stairs, took them two at a time until he reached the loft and stopped dead.

A moment later the raw tension shattered and both broke into giggles at the sight of the mess on the quilt.

“So much for spontaneity,” he sighed and put her down reluctantly. She giggled again as he bent and swept the weapons aside, ran her hands over his bare back, resisting the temptation to dip down and trace the glorious tension on the seat of his jeans as he leaned over.

Giles paused for a moment, his body responding to her touch in ways he hadn't experienced for years, then continued, his breath shortening as her hand slid around to caress his chest as stakes, crossbow, bolts and holy water were flung onto the floor and he pulled the covers back.

Then suddenly he turned and swept her off her feet, pulling her against him and kissing her hard, revelling in her immediate response: the arms that closed around his neck, their plundering of each other, trading strength for strength, passion for passion, her hands burying themselves in his hair, his glorying in the curves of the tender buttocks he was holding.

When he couldn't stand it any longer he turned, still holding her against his body, and lay her down in the bed.

He watched the rise and fall of her breasts as she caught her breath, the rumple of golden hair in disarray, but it was the look in her eyes: the smouldering desire; the very real, unconditional love, that took his own breath away.

She was so beautiful…

Buffy smiled at his goofy look and looked his long, lean figure up and down, making him grin back self-consciously.

“Show me,” she ordered, grinning again when he shot a glance at her, his eyes flashing, before fumbling momentarily with his belt, then sliding it out and dropping it.

“Giles, you're beautiful,” she said softly when he hesitated again, confirmation shining in her eyes.

He relaxed, exhaling a long breath, and removed the pants with the ease of experience, enjoying Buffy's gasp of surprise when she realized he wasn't wearing any underwear.

“Beautiful,” she repeated, when all of him was revealed.

He grinned again, leaned over her and took hold of her shorts, drawing them off equally as easily when she lifted her hips obligingly, his fingertips hooking and removing her pretty lilac lingerie at the same time.

And then it was his turn to gasp. If he was ready for her before, he was achingly ready now.

She shifted across and he joined her in the bed, only to find her in his arms and nestled close within moments, the heat of her naked body burning against his sensitised skin. He drew her closer and kissed her hair.

“We don't have to do anything, if you don't want to,” he told her gently.

The golden head lifted and soft fingers slid down to his groin to caress his straining manhood. His moan reverberated around the room.

“I dare you to say that again,” she teased and kissed his chin, the base of his throat and the curves of his chest, as her hand closed around him. “I just missed you, that's all.”

When her lips reached his navel, he growled low in his throat and used his strength to roll her over easily, so he was looking down at her.

“So we're good?” she purred as the tawny head bent to explore her tender curves, the purr turning to a moan as his mouth enveloped a soft breast, sending waves of the most intense desire she'd ever felt surging through her. And as he continued to take control, to explore every inch of her body on his own terms, it surged even more, making her ache for him, burn for him...

By the time he'd reached the centre of her desire and had her crying out in ecstasy at what he was doing to her, she was so intoxicated by his power, his strength and her love for him, that she could hardly think straight let alone form thoughts and words.

All she could manage to do in the end was touch his hair so that he looked up, saw the plea in her eyes and rose to meet it.

Buffy slid her arms around his neck as he lifted her hips.

Giles smiled as her thighs curled around his and watched her flush as he pushed himself into her soft folds.

She smiled back…then gasped when he finally entered her.

“I love you so much,” she declared fiercely and pulled his head down to hers.

His kiss was deep and tender, as tender as the slow joining of their bodies was powerful.
As it deepened so did he sink into her, their merging a slow fusion of flesh and spirit, until they both gasped and shifted, desire driving them to rise to each other, Giles glorying in her with long, rhythmic strokes as she strained and lifted to him.

“Oh…Giles…oh God…” she gasped as his strokes accelerated and his growls turned to urgent, demanding groans. They rose as one and both of them cried out as their bodies exploded with the power of their orgasms..

“Buffy…!” Giles gasped as the maelstrom died away, leaving the two of them locked together, breathless and exultant, her arms locking around his neck when he moved to shift away.


He focused then and looked down at her. Her hair was everywhere. Tenderly he smoothed strands away from her face and off her brow, before brushing her reddened lips with his.

She smiled up at him. “I want to stay like this forever,” she sighed and tightened the circle of her arms.

“As do I,” he agreed softly then thought of something. “Not so very gross after all?” he asked dryly.

“That's no fair,” she pouted. “I was being obnoxious when I said that and you know it. I was mad at you and even if I didn't actually know it at the time, I wanted to scratch Olivia's eyes out for daring to presume to touch my guy, much less wear his shirts…and eat his icky cheese!”

He kissed her delicious mouth again, the tip of her nose and her brow. “You're a very silly girl,” he chided, amused.

“I was,” she agreed and mouthed his chin. “But I think I'm finally starting to wise up, don't you?”

He chuckled softly. “My sweet love…”

Buffy wrinkled her nose and wriggled. “Something tells me we're going to have to move.”

Giles raised an eyebrow and shifted slightly. “I see what you mean.” In one smooth movement he rolled away, snatched some tissues from his side table and handed them to her.

When she was done, she immediately moved back into the circle of his arms, drawing herself up enough to look down into the eyes she'd come to love so much.

He watched her contentedly as she stroked his rumpled hair.

“No regrets?” she asked softly.

He snorted. “Stealing my lines now,” he growled, before suddenly growing serious. He cupped her face with a large hand, his fingers spreading into her hair. “Nothing on this earth could ever make me regret loving you...”

Buffy swallowed. “But I could. I did,” she said sadly, then made a noise when he shifted to enclose her in the warm circle of his arms.

As she snuggled contentedly against him, burrowing her nose into the warm maleness of his wide chest and entwining the rest of her slender limbs with his, Giles drew her even closer.

“You couldn't know the power you wielded over me,” he said gently.

“Are you trying to make me feel worse?”

“Yes,” he replied dryly. “Is it working?”


He threw his head back and groaned suddenly. “Buffy!”

She smiled into the warmth of his body. “You didn't tell me you could do that. And to answer your question: no it's not working.”

Giles moaned again. “What are you doing to me, woman?” he groaned, arching to the ministrations of her mischievous fingers.

Buffy shifted to straddle him, taking him inside her in one movement as she settled over his hips. “Exploring that power you said I wield over you,” she told him lovingly and began to move in slow, languid strokes. “I think I like it.”

He started to respond, his hands clasping her seat.

“God, so do I,” he breathed as they both felt the embers of their previous passion roar back to life and their movements became urgent again.

“What am I doing to you?” Buffy gasped as they reached their second crescendo. “What the hell are you doing to me??”

Afterward both lay on their backs heaving for breath. “Giles, what was that?” she managed breathlessly, her body awash with glorious afterglow.

“You trying to kill me,” he managed between rasps then tried to form a grin between the panting breaths. “A delightful…way…to go, I might…add.”

In response she turned over and drew herself up once again, to look into his eyes, searching them as she spoke.

“No, I think maybe it was a demonstration of what the rest of your life is going to be like.”

Their gazes held for a long moment, then his previous amusement deepened into a kind of inner joy she'd never seen in him before.

Colour flooded back into her face and she released the breath she'd been holding.

“So this means I get to choose the cheese from now on? Blue is definitely out,” she grinned.

“Buffy…” Giles enveloped her in his arms, cocooning her against his body as she wrapped herself around him, her embrace every bit as fierce as his.

She kissed the bridge of his nose. “Okay,” so you can choose the cheese, as long as I get to stay forever.”

“You and your bloody cheese,” he muttered, lovingly into her hair before his voice grew hoarse with emotion again. “If you think I'd ever willingly let you go again, now that you're finally mine—”

He was prevented from finishing the sentence by Buffy's lips covering his. “I got it,” she told him when she lifted her head again, her eyes gleaming, her cheeks as flushed with joy as his were.

“Forever it is…”

* * *