It made him wonder. No matter how he hated that admission that he had made only to himself so far, it was true. Of course Giles wasn't prone to taking the word of Spike at face value - after all the vampire did have an unhealthy preoccupation with Buffy and was more than likely acting out of jealousy - but the Watcher couldn't help but wonder.
Spike had this way of caring despite himself. In his own tactless and smartly blunt way he could sometimes say exactly what needed to be said. Giles didn't want to make the mistake of thinking Spike was any kind of trusted friend, but the uncomfortable truth was that sometimes he was right.
And that's what made Giles wonder, what ate at him when he'd walked home, all during his preparations for sleep and still this morning as he headed for Buffy's - he'd already been by the Magic Box and been told his jacket wasn't there. The morning after was definitely nasty about bringing unwanted clarity. He didn't like the path his thoughts were taking. His own mind betrayed him, pointing out different things that had happened over the years. Different times she had pushed his feelings aside and asked him to smile anyway. He didn't want to think of her in the light he was.
Certainly what had occurred wasn't roses and true love, but...he sighed. What was it? To him it had been a stupid, ill conceived choice to do something that was irreparable. Not that he regretted being with Buffy in the general sense, but more for the reasons they had chosen to do what they had. His relationship with Buffy could never be defined exactly. He could not say he thought of her as the daughter he had never had - if that were so he would never have let last night happen. Yet his mind shied away from calling her his lover, or a woman he wanted as his lover, rather. That term seemed inappropriate, seemed too mundane to be placed on Buffy.
They were Watcher and Slayer. Six years ago it meant teacher and student; two anonymous people thrown together by a stuffy, controlling council that had lost sight of their ultimate reason. Over the years it seemed that definition had expanded greatly. Giles wondered what the other others before them had been like. Had they been ensnared by the same connection he felt for his Slayer?
Watcher and Slayer seemed the correct term to him, though what exactly that meant ultimately was still a mystery. Perhaps he was fooling himself. He was very attached to her, loved her deeper and in more ways than he had ever loved any one person - even Jenny. But to expect Buffy to think of him even remotely in that fashion seemed to be asking much. That wasn't the way she thought of anyone, probably him least of all.
Giles frowned when Angel's brooding face came to mind. Of course Buffy had felt a deep connection with the vampire. She used to routinely make an issue of it whenever the opportunity presented itself. Everything had surrounded Buffy and Angel and their little world back in those days. Rarely did anyone else's feelings factor in, even after Angelus. His Slayer admittedly could forget to have regard for someone else when she wanted to.
There was that feeling again. His mind would step upon the outskirts of believing she'd used him and his breathing would catch for a moment as he reminded himself of who she was inside. Everyone failed to put others first now and then. She was no different, but he couldn't believe she would simply use him for a good time and then push him aside. Yet that very thought came unbidden to his mind, hiding in the background to make him wonder.
He came to her front door and hesitated. Today was Saturday, so he was hoping at least Dawn would be home. But what kept him standing there at the door instead of knocking wasn't the possibility that he was wrong--that no one was home, but it was Buffy herself. What was she going to say when he saw her next? What would she do? He hadn't the faintest idea how she would react to him now that she'd had a chance to think over what they had let happen.
Giles licked his lips and breathed, "Now or never, old boy." He lifted his hand and knocked.
A few nervous moments passed, but just as he had decided no one was home the locks unlatched. The door opened and there she was. Her blue eyes widened a little and she looked slightly uncomfortable as she stepped back to invite him in. Giles entered the house silently and looked around the living room. In his absence he had even missed this room. She closed the door behind them.
Giles turned back to her and opened his mouth to speak, but was finding it a little difficult. On one hand he wanted to dissect their relationship and figure out what was going on between them, but on the other he wanted to bury last night and pretend it never happened for her sake. He took a breath and said, "I came for my jacket."
There was a disappointment in her eyes, he hadn't missed it. She nodded and disappeared upstairs for a moment, bringing it back down with her. Buffy didn't offer it just yet, however. Perhaps she had the courage to bring up what he didn't. "Are you going to leave now?" was her first greeting to him and he sighed.
Taking her hand, Giles led her to the couch to sit. He shook his head, making sure his eyes betrayed truth and not uncertainty. "Buffy, I'm not going to leave. Not if you want me," he coughed uncomfortably, "h-here." There would be no hiding from this. "Buffy, I think we should talk about...what happened."
Instantly her eyes dropped down and she pushed a stray lock of hair behind her ear. Her voice became lower. "Yeah. I guess we'd have to, huh?"
"Yes," he replied seriously, wishing she would look up at him. She granted that as if she had read his mind. "Something like that can't be left in the dark. If we don't understand why then it could serve to tear us further apart." Giles inhaled deeply, watching her struggle with her thoughts. "Why?"
Buffy blinked, then looked away again. She didn't have an answer reflecting back from those eyes of hers. "I don't know."
That wasn't exactly a promising start. Giles stood up and began to pace a little. Spike's voice flashed through his mind and he looked down at her. He had to know for sure. "D-did you...sleep with Spike?"
Her eyes went wide and she stared up at him for a moment, a mixture of emotions passing through her expression. Finally she spoke. "What did Spike say?" Her voice was angry. She stood and began pacing herself, her hands brushing through her hair. "What exactly did he tell you?"
Giles stood back away from her, allowing her space to wring her hands. "He told me you were pretty upset with things and that in some effort to feel something other than pain, you had taken to sleeping with him. He said you u-used him." He cursed himself his stammering tongue and waited for a reply. There was none, save a few muttered insults aimed at the vampire, so Giles looked at her. "Did you?"
Her eyes met his with uncertainty. That emotion was going to set the tone for this evening, he was sure. He could only pray pain wouldn't be part of it--much. Buffy crossed her arms and looked down, obviously at odds with having to make such an admission. "I don't know what I was doing, but it's over. Funny he tells you I used him, cause he tells me every damn day I did it out of love." She finally looked up. "I don't love him, Giles."
He rubbed his chin and nodded slowly, letting that much soak in. So she had slept with Spike. So what? Alone that fact wouldn't bother him at all or make him love her any less, so why should it bother him now? It didn't apply to him. At least he hoped. What was wrong with him? He could feel himself shaking. "Y-you used him because you...you were feeling lonely and angry. You needed to feel something, right?" She nodded, her face showing her confusion as to where he was going with this. He didn't want to ask her this, but his own security in her love demanded it. "Buffy, when you kissed me and took things further...was that...was it like Spike?"
She looked shocked that he would suggest it for a moment, but that faded and left behind an almost frightened look. He swallowed and waited, allowing his darker fears to resurface. "No," she began, not meeting his eyes. "Not...not like Spike. I just don't know what..."
Giles took his glasses off and started to polish them. A stupid habit. He frowned at them, but continued where she could not. "You were upset before we, ah...had s-sex. Did you want to feel anything but that pain?" He looked up.
"Yeah, but..." she said, but he quieted her by holding up his hand.
Giles paced a little again, beginning to see now what had happened. His fear come true. How could she? "You wanted to feel something else for a little while and I was there instead of Spike," he summed it.
Buffy came to him and took hold of his sleeves, shaking her head. "Giles, that is not how it was."
With a little more emotion than he had anticipated he would have if something like this came up, he yanked his arms away and furrowed his brow at her. "Then how was it, Buffy?" It bothered him. Of course he didn't have any delusions of her being in love with him--he didn't even know if that was something he would want, but to be a substitute for Spike? Was that all he had been?
"Giles," she said firmly, not backing down from his harsh tone. "I don't know what happened between us, but it was not like Spike. He's nothing like you and I wouldn't just..."
"No, you wouldn't 'just...' because why? Because you love me?" He backed away, struck by the situation more than he had prepared himself. "Buffy, there are two reasons people have sex. Love and lust, and while the latter would be flattering from another person, it's not so well received from someone I care so much about. You've used me and pushed me aside once too often. It is entirely unacceptable this time, Buffy."
Buffy crossed her arms, her expression hurt and angry. "Look, it's not like I held you down! So, what you were using me?"
He frowned at her accusation, answering firmly, "Of course not."
"Then why did you do it, then? You didn't exactly say no." She had expected some tension between them because of their night, but not this. He was so angry at her.
Giles glared her down, an answer behind his lips that he was fighting. "Because..." he trailed off. He was trying to calm himself and bite back whatever might be lurking within his thoughts. She could always tell that about him.
Well, he wasn't going to succeed this time. "Because why?" she demanded in a voice that she saved for such occasions. It usually made him angry enough to answer. Of course she half wondered as his eyes widened if she really wanted to hear it. He had likely only let her because he missed her. It wasn't as if he were any less guilty, but did she want that kind of reason from him?
True to her ability to keep him talking, Giles did answer her question, but what he replied wasn't exactly what she had counted on. "You want to know why, Buffy, that I allowed what I did? Because I love you," he told her angrily, then looked like he immediately regretted it. "Damn it," he breathed, taking in her shocked expression with much the same on his own face. He shook his head and went to the couch, grabbing his coat. "I have to think."
Her eyes just about as wide as she could get them, Buffy stood there in her living room and watched him head towards the door to leave again. "Giles, wait!" she called after him, but he didn't listen. He loved her? As in he loved her loved her? No way. He had to have meant friendship, then been too embarrassed at her reaction to face her.
Oh God, she thought, realizing the expression she must have registered. He probably thinks I was grossed out or something stupid. Buffy sank onto the couch and rubbed her arms, mass confusion spreading through her system. He didn't mean true love--flowers and candy and date love. Yet what if he did? She rubbed her cheek and stared at the floor a moment, realizing that if he had been harboring some feelings for her then what happened between them was now ten times worse than a simple mistake.
No wonder he had been so angry. Here he had come, maybe hoping she loved him back--and she did feel something--and she just about told him she had just pulled a Parker on him. This couldn't possibly get any worse. She could fully recall how that felt.
Yet of course things could get worse, as they had always proved to her in the past. Without warning an angered teenager with a very good set of ears came into the room, her arms crossed and her Angry-Dawn-Face on. "What did you do to him?" she demanded.
Buffy glared up at her sister, not in the mood for this right now. She had bigger things to worry about than a moody teen. She had to think. "None of your business. Go to school...or something."
Her lips puckered in traditional sarcasm, Dawn shook her head. "Brilliant suggestion, Einstein, seeing that it's Saturday. You've been using Spike? And then you what, thought you'd screw Giles over too? Way to go. Now he really won't want to stay."
The Slayer got up from the couch and pointed an angry finger. "You do want to hang out for the next two weeks, don't you? This isn't your problem, so by all means please stay out of it. I don't need you telling me how to handle things."
Dawn's eyes slit and she stormed towards the door, hissing, "Yeah, because you know how to make everything better, don't you?" She ushered herself out with as much hostile energy as she could muster and slammed the front door behind her.
Exhaling deeply, Buffy smoothed her hair back and looked out the window with an uncertainty she had never felt so deeply before. The first time Giles had left she had been so angry, too angry to be frightened about life without him. Now she was just afraid. He thought she had used him, that he was no different than Spike in her eyes. The emotional marathon man would take something like that and run with it.
Not that she blamed him for thinking that. She hadn't really given him any straight answers as to why she had started what she had. I don't know, she thought to herself, running through the events in her mind again. Buffy walked softly to the kitchen and turned the sink faucet on, washing her hands in the warm water and bringing some to her face.
She called it back to memory, the night before, for the first time since. Oh, during her shower last night she had been tempted to entertain certain thoughts about him again, but had shied away from it in the confusion that had been going on inside. But now, now she wanted to face it again.
His lips had been soft and smooth against hers, and he had definitely kissed her in return once he got used to the idea of what was going on. At first he had been gentle and seeking, but later had abandoned himself to enjoy kissing her with full passion while she moved. A little chill ran through her at remembering that. She liked his shoulders, she realized, thinking back on resting her hand against one to brace herself in weakness of pleasure. Her hand had curled around that strong shoulder, feeling the firmness there beneath his thin shirt.
She turned the water off and grabbed a towel, leaning against the counter and gazing absently ahead. He had been so warm and that felt good against the coldness that was Spike. And the sounds his voice made with her. She had always liked Giles' voice, though this was different than her previous, non-erotic opinion. His voice was pleasant and soft, gentle and strong and wise. Everything he was inside. She had enjoyed hearing him whisper in desire.
With a soft smile Buffy realized just how weird this all was. She would have had to have been pretty dumb not to realize he was in fact of the male variety, but now she was thinking of him as a man man? Okay, once in high school she might have let it cross her mind when she had been a little extra randy that day.
She could remember it, too. All day she had been in the mood--being a teen after all--and locked in training with him for a good few hours. He had removed his tweed vest, leaving his upper body dressed only in a moistened, blue dress shirt. Suddenly and without warning an image had come to mind of him pushing her to the mats and kissing her. Of course that had been back in the 'old equals gross' days, and so being she had dismissed it quickly as if merely thinking it made her geeky.
Of course now she was older. Being in Heaven had taught her one thing and that was that all the little, petty things she had thought were important in high school paled in comparison with love and friendship and companionship. Time here was entirely too fleeting and living here too terrible compared to Heaven to not take happiness and joy where it was given.
But did all that wisdom mean she loved him that way? Oh, she loved him deeply. More deeply than she loved anyone else right now except Dawn.
Buffy pictured another scenario, one of them together in bed and at first it felt a little strange, but not unwelcome. No, she definitely didn't have a problem picturing sex with him. Still leaning over the counter, she let her mind travel to his bed back in his loft. He would probably be shy at first and that was more than okay, it was cute on him. She would wear something with off the shoulder sleeves and there he would start, pulling her into his embrace and laying little kisses on her bare shoulder.
She tensed with the absence of the reality without notice and furrowed her brow, picturing him run a hand to her hip to rub. In turn she would rub his sides, pulling his shirt untucked as his lips explored her. Wow, she thought, not hearing the door open and shut nearby. "I gotta stop."
"Stop what, pet?" intruded a voice, jarring her from her guilty pleasure.
"Spike?" she gasped. Buffy whirled around and started hitting his shoulder and arm as he fended her off. "Get the hell out of here! God! I can't believe you would actually show your face around here."
Laughing, the vampire slipped around her and stood behind the false safety of the counter. "Ah, ah, Buffy. Make nice with lover. What's got your pretty panties in a twist and can I do the honors and untwist 'em?"
She picked his drop cloth up off the floor and tossed it at him with a glare. "After what you did you should know better. Get out!"
Lighting up, Spike shook his head and watched her. "What? That wanker of a Watcher come cryin' to you about what I told him? Ain't like it wasn't true. He doesn't deserve to think you did it out of love. You owe him that much."
Buffy crossed her arms, wondering if she had just heart right. Spike knew? "What? What did you tell him? I thought..."
"Hmmm?" he replied with a small smile. "Oooh. You think I just told him we had sex. You hadn't counted on me seein' your little show. I gotta admit, baby, it was a good tease, but if you're gonna use 'em and lose 'em, you really should try and find someone that doesn't love you."
Not only had Spike told Giles about them, but he had probably done all he could to convince her Watcher that he too was being used. Her stomach ached just now. "I hurt you," she breathed, looking away. "I hurt you, so you hurt me. I deserve that, but not him. He didn't deserve that."
The vampire wrinkled his nose and took a breath of his cigarette. "He didn't deserve to have you use him like that, no. I didn't do anything but warn him about your little habits. Can't let you walk all over him, no matter how easy it may be."
She drew her hand back and slapped him, her eyes dangerous and her anger rising. A quiet moment passed between them before she spoke. "Get out," she growled, not sure she could stop things from getting out of hand if he stuck around.
Spike's eyes narrowed and he advanced, grabbing her wrists and pulling her into him. "I let you fuck around with me, pet, 'cause we're both the same, you and me," he breathed darkly, squeezing her arms as she tried to pull away. "We dance to the same rhythm and carry the same darkness. But he ain't like that. He's not part of this. You're mine, Slayer." He shoved her back. "Don't you forget that."
Facing him down, Buffy didn't let her gaze falter. "Get out, Spike. If you ever come back in this house again I can't guarantee you'll live to regret it."
That darkness didn't leave his expression as he held her eyes for a moment longer, but without warning he laughed as easy going as if nothing had happened. "Seeya 'round, Slayer," he said, tapping his cigarette over the garbage and picking up his drop cloth. He shrouded it over his shoulders and left her alone.
Leaning back against the counter, Buffy stood for a moment and waited for the shaking inside to stop. As she sank to the floor, wondering what to do about these situations, she couldn't help but decide again since her return that life just plain sucked.