“It's fine, Giles. Really.”

Water pouring off his shoulders and head, Giles continued his efforts to help Buffy to her feet, ignoring the corpse of the extremely large hellhound she'd just slain.

“Giles, it's okay. I can do it myself.”

“Nonsense,” he muttered, lifting her off the wet ground.

“Giles, I'm the slayer. It'll be healed in a few hours, tops. I can probably walk on it right n…”

Buffy howled in pain as she touched her foot deliberately to the ground, cut off only when Giles swept her off her feet and into his arms.

“Oh, okay,” she said meekly, nuzzling her head resignedly into his chest, and the last bit of relatively dry jacket under his chin.

Giles made a noise that was a cross between a humph and a chuckle.

“So, where do you plan on taking us, before your sacro' gives out or you burst a lung?” she asked dryly as he started down the path they were on, once again.

Giles, however, carried her easily. “I saw a hunter's cabin last time I was up here. I'm almost positive it's near here.”

“How near is near?”

“Can't be more than a few hundred yards,” he guessed, sidestepping a boulder and some slippery, moss covered ground. “Does it hurt very much?”

Buffy frowned. Her ankle felt like it was broken when she fell, and afterwards the throbbing had come close to making her pass out, but it was subsiding. She was used to the contrast, and the recovery time. She was human, and her injuries always hurt as much as everyone else's, but never for very long.

“It still hurts kind of a lot, but it's not like, faint-worthy, any more. Do you want me to walk…?”

Giles' arms closed more tightly around her. “No,” he said hoarsely. “Slayer healing or no, you don't want to aggravate the damage any further, especially if you broke anything. It needs to heal correctly, since we're not going to find a doctor anywhere up here to align it for you.”

“I knew we should have brought the car instead of having Xander just leave us here.”

“It still would have been a five mile hike back to the road,” Giles pointed out, his breathing slightly more laboured as they moved up a gentle slope, “and there really wasn't anywhere secure to leave the car.”

“Remind me again why where out here, instead of home snuggled up in bed?” she muttered.

Giles coughed, which turned into a strangled choke, his chest moving against her cheek.

Buffy snorted. “I meant our own beds, potty brain,” she pointed out. Her brows drew together. Why would Giles even think for one moment…? She slid an arm up over his shoulder. It did feel very nice, being in his arms…nice and warm and safe and

She frowned again. The next thought wasn't part of the usual deal. It was also one she wasn't sure she could deal with. After a beat in which her heart rate soared and she started to question her sanity, she slid her arm experimentally around his neck.

Oh God, she thought, letting her fingers play with his soft, damp hair as he strode along. This is not happening. I can't believe I'm…I...Oh, as Giles would say…dear God…

Above her head, Giles' mouth had set in a determined line. Carrying the woman in his arms had begun as an act of compassion, but somewhere along the way it had become something else completely. He'd barely been able to control his body's response to her warm nearness, despite the rain, and now she was playing with his hair. In spite of himself, he shuddered when her fingertips grazed the sensitive skin of his nape.

Buffy froze as they emerged from the tree-line, heading for a small cabin set on the side of a green knoll, tall pines in back of it, bare fruit trees to the sides, and a covered rack of firewood against the front wall. She wasn't sure what caused that shudder, but she knew what she was doing when it happened. Surely he didn't…?

“I-I'm going to set you down,” he said hoarsely, when he reached the cabin. It wasn't quite as small as he'd first thought, nor as deserted, and the windows were covered by closed security shutters.

“Cool,” she croaked, gingerly trying the foot as he slid her to the ground. It still smarted too much to put weight on. The rain had eased a little, but it was still miserable. She watched him try the door, then feel around the frame, the woodpile, the hanging baskets across the front porch with the remnants of petunias and nasturtiums still struggling on, and in the big tub of herbs growing scrappily by the door.

The key was in the parsley. He opened the door, fearing the worst. Hunters were not known for their housekeeping or pre-planning when it came to provisioning. He was therefore rather taken aback by the contents of the cabin. It was certainly designed to look authentic, but it was even more obviously a weekender for someone with the money to play in style.

He picked Buffy up and carried her inside, assuaging his guilt about trespassing and dripping water on the rug, by reminding himself that her ankle needed attention and that Slayer or not, she was as susceptible to viruses as the next person. A Slayer with pneumonia or influenza didn't bear thinking about…

“Wow. You know how to pick 'em, Giles. I like the Navajo touches, but I'm not sure the double-barrelled shotgun mounted above the fireplace is exactly legal.”

He chuckled. “Neither is our breaking and entering,” he pointed out. “But it can't be helped in this weather. We'll just have to make sure we leave the place as we found it,” he added, locating and walking into the bathroom.

Buffy watched as he put her down again and turned on a faucet in the shower. After a few moments steaming water came out of it and he turned it off again, satisfied.

“Neat trick,” she murmured. “This far from civilization.”

“Not really,” Giles replied. “These days it takes a lot of money to own a place like this. No doubt they could afford mains water to be piped here from Eldale, which isn't more than a couple of miles as the crow flies.”


“In a straight line from here,” he explained. “For hikers it's more like five or six, due to the nature of the terrain. Power isn't a problem because there are lines right across this valley, as you saw, probably from the grid in South Sunnydale, to supply Eldale, itself.”

“You think too much about this stuff,” Buffy teased, as Giles unconsciously stripped off her backpack and wet jacket. He was about to undo the top button of her denim shirt when he realised what he was doing and snatched his hands away.

“I…” he began, shifting uncomfortably, and looking like he wanted to bolt.

The colour flew to Buffy's face and her eyes grew very wide. Her heart was pounding a tattoo.

“It's okay,” she said softly. “I like you taking care of me.”

He lifted his head a little and looked at her out of uncertain eyes, before half-smiling self-consciously.

“Stupid thing to do,” he said roughly. “I just wanted…we don't…you're always so self-sufficient, so independent,” he stammered.

“I'm supposed to be, remember,” she pointed out, amused, and moved close enough to push his backpack off his arms and start unbuttoning his coat. “Destiny and all that crap.”

Giles was too surprised to stop her. She finished unbuttoning and pushed the coat off his shoulders so that he let the sopping sheepskin slide to the floor in a wet puddle.

“Wow, your shirt's not that wet,” she murmured, running her fingertips over both breasts of it.

Giles made a noise in his throat. “I-it's probably part body heat, partly the w-water r-repelling qualities of the w-wool in the coat.”

“Oh,” Buffy said, without real interest. She was too mesmerized by the way his chest felt under the damp shirt.

When Giles made another noise, Buffy finally realised what she was doing. At first she lifted her fingers as though scalded, then stopped them only inches above his shirt, before slowly raising the blue-grey eyes to his.

For an endless moment they stared at each other, the air crackling around them, hearts unknowingly rising to their eyes.

With trembling hands Buffy slowly moved her fingers to his top button. Aware that his Adam's apple had moved several times before they slid the hard button through the hole, Buffy moved to the second, and pushed the shirt edges open enough to touch the chest hairs in the vee, caressing the warm flesh beneath until Giles made a very soft, but tormented sound. She unbuttoned another.

“Buffy…” he whispered finally.

In reply she leaned forward and kissed the spot she had caressed. He shuddered and took her shoulders with his hands.

He was not rough, nor did he push her away but she could feel the tension in him.

Buffy continued to unbutton the shirt as she grazed her mouth over the goose-pimpling flesh. By the time she reached his belt, her mouth had found and fondled both nipples and left his breathing ragged and uneven.

“Buffy…” he managed to croak once more, and made an effort to lift her chin.

The soft eyes, blurred by desire, stared up into his, her lips parting just a little as she searched his face, parting even further when she appeared to find what she wanted.

Giles trembled a little in spite of himself as her head tilted back just a little more and her mouth moved a little closer to his. His fingers moved from her chin to do something they'd wanted to do for a long time.

Buffy closed her eyes as they caressed her cheek. Then his palm cupped it, his thumb brushing the sensitive skin under her eye. She turned her face slightly into the hand and kissed it softly.

With a swiftly indrawn breath, Giles held her face with both palms and found her eyes again, looking into them searchingly before finding what he was seeking, and slowly bending his head.

Buffy's heart was hammering in her chest, his touch, his scent, and his warmth, overwhelming her senses in a way she never dreamed possible. In her soul she had always known she couldn't live without him, but until now she had never known exactly why…

His breath caressed her face just before his mouth finally touched hers. Not much more than a brush of velvet against her tender lips, but enough for her to seek more, to capture his teasing ones with her own.

Giles felt his whole body charge when the sweet, soft mouth merged with his. He returned the pressure then took over, punishing her lips, her mouth, her tongue with an outpouring of need that had been pent up for so long, he was stunned by the strength of it. When he realized she was kissing him back with just as much wanton demand, the charge went straight to his loins.

Before he lost himself in paradise, Giles scrambled to bring the kiss to a halt.

“Buffy…I'm sorry,” he breathed.

“What for?” she asked, mussed, flushed, beautiful and blinking with confusion.

“I…we…you…” he stammered helplessly.

“…Need to get out of these wet clothes,” she finished, and smiled mischievously at him. “You aren't seriously going to tell me that we shouldn't do this, are you?”

“I…” Giles sighed as Buffy pulled off the damp shirt and dropped it on the floor then sucked in a breath as she undid the buckle of his belt. You…your ankle,” he managed weakly.

“Is getting better all the time. It's gone from shoot me now to kiss it better since you carried me here. Gotta love that Slayer healing,” she added as she pulled open the stud of his jeans.

At that point Giles suddenly seemed to regain control of his senses. He took her in his arms and kissed her again, until she was literally breathless.

“Are you certain?” he breathed when he lifted his head.

“Never more in my life,” she replied with certainty. “Do you love me?”

“With every fibre of my body, every beat of my heart,” he said hoarsely.

“Good, because I'm not into the unrequited love thing, and if I loved you any more I don't think I could deal, because it would hurt so bad.”


“Not being able to be with you twenty-four-seven.”

Giles blinked. “Oh,” he said, relieved. Then his face fell. “I already know how that feels…”

“You do?”

“Bad enough to decide to go back to England rather than continue to watch you with him…”

Buffy's eyes grew bleak. “Oh God, Giles, why didn't you…? No, forget I said that…stupid, much, Buffy. Of course you wouldn't say anything. I'm so sorry. I'm sorry I didn't know how much I was hurting you, and sorry I hurt him by being so blind.”

“It doesn't matter,” he whispered, shivering involuntarily from the dampness and the cold.

“You're cold,” she exclaimed, then, herself, shivered, before giggling at the absurdity of the moment.

He chuckled too, but his fingers moved with confidence to her top, resuming the job they'd started earlier.

Buffy quickly fell silent. It was a moment she couldn't have envisaged in a million years, and yet, now, she couldn't imagine it any other way.

With each button the wet blouse opened a little more until the inner curves of her breasts were clearly visible.

She heard Giles draw a ragged breath when he undid the last button. However, instead of removing it completely, he stopped for a moment, as if unsure again, and extended his fingers until they brushed the soft curves.

Buffy's eyes closed and she shuddered, overwhelmed by the intensity of her response to his touch.

Giles felt himself respond, and swallowed hard. It was too soon, too much. He removed the wet blouse mechanically. “Y-you must have a hot shower,” he managed less than steadily. “Or you'll chill and catch your death.”

Buffy opened her eyes and looked at him with patient affection. “If I shower now, it has to be with someone to support me…my knee, you know,” she reminded him cheekily, her fingers nimbly lowering his zipper and pushing his pants off his hips.

“Y-yes, your knee,” Giles agreed bemusedly, easing his feet out of his boots and stepping, self-consciously, out of his jeans.

The golden-brown hair on his chest tapered provocatively down into his black stretch briefs; briefs which were now being tested to their limit, Buffy noticed with another tremor.

“I'm sorry I can't be twenty again, for you,” he said softly.

Buffy realised she was staring and her eyes flicked up to his. “I don't want Ethan's Ripper. I want you. You're just…I never knew you were so…that you still…it's of the good, Giles…way, way, good,” she whispered hungrily, then, “Are you scared?”

The question surprised him. “A little,” he admitted then wondered if he'd done the right thing. Apparently he had. Buffy was smiling again.

“Me too. We wouldn't be human if we weren't.” She caught the fingers of his left hand and drew them to her breast again. “It's what makes us human, and that's what gives us this…the ability to love. And I want you to love me, Rupert Giles, but you know what I want even more?”

He shook his head, overwhelmed.

“I want to love you…I want to love you so much that it washes away all the hurt, all the pain I've caused you since the day we met. I want to love you so much you forget all those lonely hours…” her voice faded, a tear trickling down her right cheek, as though sneaking past her defences. “Damn,” she said awkwardly, “I'm starting to sound like one of your soaps.”

“I only had one,” he shot back with mock indignation, his voice very full, and his eyes very bright.

“Giles, I love you. I just found out, but it feels like I've never, not loved you. Is that crazy?”

He shook his head very slowly. “I wasn't just waiting for you to grow up. I was waiting for you to understand your own heart. I hoped that you might one day learn to care for me as more than just your friend and your Watcher, but I have always known that you do care.”

She half-smiled. “Not enough,” she said sadly. “Too many times I just didn't care enough…”

Giles opened his mouth to answer her, but closed it again when she shivered violently. “Symposiums about the past later. Right now you need to be warm.”

Buffy eyed the goose-pimpled flesh of his chest as he unzipped her dripping wet pants and let them fall to the ground. She hobbled out of her shoes while he vanished for a moment and returned with soft blue towels. He adjusted the hot shower before turning back to her.

“Ready?” he asked.

The word had a wealth of meaning, but Buffy only needed one. She slipped off the scant wisp of silk as he discarded his briefs. He was no longer aroused, which made sense, but it was still a shock to see all of him for the first time.

“Ready,” she told him after a dazed beat, and allowed him to slide an arm around her and help her into the glass cubicle, despite being able to put almost her full weight on the ankle now.

Once in the shower, Buffy turned into Giles' arms, sliding her arms around his waist and resting her head against his chest. The water was blissfully hot and the glass was already steaming up when she felt him press his lips to her hair

“All right, love?” he asked very gently, his heart beating a tattoo beneath her ear.

“Better than all right. I keep expecting to wake up.”

He laughed a little against the top of her head. “Me too.”

Buffy let one of her hands trail down his back to rub a surprisingly hard buttock, slippery with the hot water. “But it's not a dream.”

“No,” Giles growled deep in his throat, as Buffy's hands continued to explore.

“You feel solid…rock like,” she told him, tracing the contours, first of his back and backside, then of his chest and abdomen.

When she was done he let his palms finally slide down her smooth back to her small, rounded buttocks and massaged them sensuously. “And you feel soft…woman like…”

Buffy moaned deep in her throat, not wanting him to stop. “A-all of me, or just that part?” she managed, provocatively.

He smiled above her head and let his hands slide up the sides of her body, so that Buffy felt herself almost exploding with anticipation, until the firm hands finally cupped her soft breasts. Buffy closed her eyes. Tremor after tremor went through her just simply from his touch.

“All of you,” he confirmed and began to massage the tender flesh until her nipples were hard with desire and she was moaning softly.

Giles paused again when she arched against him and took her face in his hands. “I have no defence against you,” he said softly. “I shouldn't have allowed this to happen, and yet here we are.”

Buffy looked up at his dear face and blinked as water cascaded over hers. “Here we are, because this is where we belong. Neither of us was ready until today. Now we are,” she told him, clear eyed and sure.

He searched her face, her gaze, and found them true and determined. “I can't lose you,” he repeated her own words. “Do you understand me, Buffy? If I lost you now, a part of me would die…”

She did understand. From the first time she'd been confronted by the possibility of actually losing him, when he'd been taken by the Chosen One, to the moment she was driven to beg him to help her again after Dracula visited, she'd known what it felt like. The younger Buffy had not recognised the nature of the bond forged between them…only that no greater black hole existed than the one that beckoned each time she was faced with a future without him in it.

Buffy nodded. “I know,” she said softly. “I've known for a very long time.”

Giles stared at her for a long moment then bent his head again. The kiss began as a tender seal of their passion and grew into a searing statement of it, oblivious to the streams of water cascading off their respective heads.

When they finally parted, Giles moved his mouth to her throat, kissing his way down to the hollow of her shoulder, and making her crazy in that most sensitive of spots, only moving again when she groaned aloud.

Buffy's eyes widened as the soft, velvety lips trailed deliciously across to brush the curve of an equally tender breast. The incredible realization, that he was actually making love to her, exploded, both in her thoughts and her loins. Every inch of her flesh pulsed with desire, with need for his touch. She moaned and shuddered as he took a hard peak into his mouth and let his tongue caress the soft flesh around it until she was making small whimpering noises and burying her fingers in his wet hair.

“Oh God,” she moaned softly as he kissed his way across to the other breast, his gentle fingers cupping each of them and massaging them as his lips did their work.

Eventually his kisses moved back to the soft skin between her breasts, then trailed downward to leave a tickle of his breath across her navel, before reaching the creamy skin of her lower abdomen. He trailed his tongue provocatively over the soft flesh, dipping down far enough for far more sensitive regions to feel the nearness of his warm breath.

Buffy closed her eyes and leaned back against the wall as he lowered himself to one knee in the confined space. Her womanhood was screaming for his touch, swollen with the most intense desire she'd ever felt, and he was still tormenting her, caressing her inner thighs, the incredibly sensitive skin where thigh met torso, even slipping his fingers, feather light, up and down the backs of her thighs, her knees, until she could barely stand.

Finally, she spread her feet a little, opening herself to him, only to whimper when his talented lips worked their way down the inside of each thigh again. The whimper became unashamed arching and moaning as he continued to tease in the most erotic way, without giving her what she wanted.

And then his hands slid up her legs and around to cup the small, firm globes that were her buttocks.

Buffy's gasping scream of ecstasy as his mouth finally buried itself in her reverberated around the bathroom until it blended with her whimpers and writhing groans, as he continued to pleasure her, utilizing a wealth of experience and intuitive talent to bring her to a vocal, writhing explosion of completion.

He was up and holding her in his arms again before she'd finished crying out.

“Oh my God, w-what the hell was that?” she demanded shakily into his wet chest as the hot water finally began to falter.

Giles smiled and rubbed her back soothingly. “You'll live,” he teased.

She wrinkled her nose and smiled at him. “I think we need to get out of here before we both turn into prunes,” she sighed. “Cold prunes. What was the bed like?”

“Big,” he said, turning off the faucets over her shoulder.

Buffy looked down. “And that's not the only thing,” she said dryly. “Anyone ever tell you…?”

“Yes,” he smirked, and swept her up into his arms again, hooking one of the big towels off the cupboard on his way out.

The bed was indeed huge and blissfully soft. It had a wonderful, thick, expensive quilt on it.

Giles lowered Buffy onto it and towelled her off in slow, provocative fashion, finishing with slow sweeps up her thighs and a very erotic cupping and slow massage of her womanhood, leaving her flushed and breathless again while he swiftly blotted all the moisture off his own body.

Buffy watched his erection spring away from the towel as he wiped his own thighs and groin, and wondered how she could have ever thought him stuffy. Every inch of his body made her feel more alive, more wanton than all of her previous lovers put together. She wanted him again and, she knew, looking up into the smiling green eyes, he wanted her.

He dropped the towel, as she drew her legs up so that her knees were bent, allowing them to open slightly.

Surprisingly tentatively, Giles ran his fingers down the inside of the firm pale thighs again, and let them brush across her womanhood.

She moaned, not seeing the transient doubt in his eyes. “Make love to me,” she begged, when her throbbing response to his teasing became unbearable…His teasing, and the mere thought of him inside her…

The expression on the handsome face cleared, as though a last shadow had been lifted.

Within moments he was over her, his thighs nestled between hers, his hands lifting her hips as he brought himself to her.

Buffy felt his tip touch the still swollen centre of her and bucked from the electricity that jolted through her.

They were both trembling when he began to push into her very slowly, smiling when she reached up and laid a hand against his cheek. After a beat his mouth opened a little and he closed his eyes. Buffy shifted her hand to hold his hips and closed her eyes, too, as he slid home, both of them crying out as they were finally made whole, joined as one in their desire.

Then Giles began to move and they both opened their eyes to search for, and find, each other's gaze.

While her eyes flashed demandingly at him, Buffy groaned with a combination of raw lust and sheer surprise. He was filling her beyond anything she'd ever known before, moaning, himself, as her body clenched almost greedily around him.

They rose to each other, Giles moving faster and faster as she moved wantonly beneath him, her nails raking up and down his back, red marks in their wake. Her legs wrapped themselves higher and higher around his body as both of them spiralled up into another level of pleasure and sensation.

Buffy threw her head back, moaning and gasping in small, rapid breaths as he pounded into her, her body constantly on the verge of exploding with every stroke of that great shaft, as it buried itself over and over in her waiting channel.

And then it was upon her. It rose from her toenails, and rocketed into her core from every extremity of her body. Her scalp crawled, her fingers and toes pulsed, her entire spine shuddered as an explosion of ecstasy ripped from her pulsing centre and she screamed out her release.

The combination of the sound of her ecstatic cry, and her channel's violent clamping as she arched against him over and over, sent Giles hurtling over the edge, crying out in spite of himself as his orgasm was torn from his body, every nerve ending alive as he convulsed over and over. Finally, he began to slow, only to have Buffy deliberately clench his tip hard. It set off an unexpected, second thundering orgasm, milked and driven by her continued clenching and her arching response to his ecstatic member spearing back into her waiting womanhood as he climaxed.

When he finally shuddered to an exhausted, spent halt, Buffy put her arms around him instinctively, drawing him down before he could move away.

Surprised, Giles gathered her in his arms and rolled to his side.

“Eiwww,” Buffy complained almost immediately. “Good move, Don Juan. You been saving all this up, or something?”

Giles laughed aloud and reached for the towel. “Sorry, love,” he said ruefully and made things right very quickly before dropping it again, pulling her close and tucking the quilt around them.

“In case you haven't noticed, I lead a rather solitary existence and I'm not particularly fond of stop gap solutions…quite apart from the fact that I love you to distraction, of course,” he added matter of factly.

“Well you weren't distracted then,” she teased, her eyes drooping with sleepy contentment as she spoke.

He touched her face again with the backs of his fingers, bringing her eyes wide open again.

“No I wasn't…” he said softly and kissed her tenderly, her arms winding contentedly around his neck as it deepened.

“I wonder if this place is for sale,” she mused when they laid back, curling up together. “It'd be nice to have somewhere that's just ours. Somewhere we know it's going to be just us, together…no interruptions, no stupid destinies…”

“…But I think I shall be, for the rest of my life.”


“Completely and utterly distracted by you.”

Giles growled as Buffy's hand travelled up his thigh, found and clasped its target.

“So…is that a good?”

“Most definitely a good,” he managed, turning and moving over her, smiling as her arms curled around his neck once again.

“You're don't…?” she exclaimed playfully.

He kissed her brow, her nose, then captured her lips in the most tender and passionate of kisses.

“No, I do not,” he twinkled when he lifted his head. “But thank you for the vote of confidence.”

Buffy giggled and shifted to the hollow of his shoulder as he rolled back. “Good, because I have the big sleepy. My foot has stopped hurting, I'm feeling no pain…in more ways than one, and I'm snuggled with the love of my life…”

“Ah, you want me to…?” he offered, sliding a hand up a silky thigh, beneath the quilt without really moving from his very comfortable position.

She giggled again. “I want you to listen to the beautiful rain on the roof, feel how gloriously warm and soft this bed is and…” She stopped, listening instead to the sound of barely audible snoring, just above her ear.

“…Come to sleep with me,” she finished ruefully and smiled to herself, tilted her head back and brushed his chin with her lips before curling up beneath it, utterly content for the first time in her life…

Moments later only the sound of the rain could be heard over the soft snores of the entwined couple, safe and warm beneath the iron roof of the small cabin…

* * *