Disclaimer: I don't own anything, I'm just borrowing things for a while and I promise I'll put everything back exactly how I found it when I've finished. Well, almost exactly how I found it. ;)
"Willow! What a pleasant surprise. How are you?"
"Peachy, Giles, and your good self?"
"Willow, have you been eating chocolate again?"
"No! Can't I just be my happy, bouncy self without being accused of being some hyper bunny…?"
"If it isn't chocolate, then what is it? Is something wrong? You don't usually make long distance phone calls at … ten thirty at night."
"Is it? Oops, it's only two thirty here."
"What is it, Willow?"
"Okay, well, you see, Giles, it's Buffy. She's been really miserable since you left, and she's driving us all crazy."
"Because she's miserable?"
"No, because she's been listening to the same song over and over and over and over -"
"- again. She hasn't listened to anything different since you left."
"But…but that's been months, Willow."
"Oh. I see."
"Have you still got your computer, Giles?"
"Yes, that monstrous piece of technology still resides in my office."
"Good. Do you remember how to work the e-mail?"
"Then try using it sometimes, even if it's only to say hi!"
"Was that what you wanted to say?"
"Erm, no. I'm going to e-mail a copy of that song to you. All you've got to do is click on the attachment, click 'open', and the default media player will play the song. Just remember to turn your speakers on."
"Apart from the last bit, I have no idea what you just said, but I shall endeavour to do my best."
"Great, Giles. Oohh, I'd better -"
"- Go. Yes, you do that, Willow. I will talk to you soon."
Giles put the phone down and shook his head. He never failed to have a smile on his face after talking to Willow, and that night wasn't any exception, although his good mood was marred slightly by worrying about Buffy. From the way Willow had made it sound, Buffy had retreated completely into herself. Giles sighed. There was no way he could have stayed in Sunnydale, but did he make the right choice by leave?
"Stuck between a rock and a bloody hard place," he muttered as he tentatively turned the computer on. It made a chiming noise and he took that to be a good thing. While it did whatever it was doing, Giles made himself a pot of tea. By the time he got back, the computer had loaded up and was waiting for him to use it.
It took him a while, but he finally found his inbox, and there was an e-mail from Willow waiting for him.
"That was quick," he mused. Following the redhead's instructions, Giles turned on his speakers and opened the attachment. After a short introduction, a woman's voice began singing, and as soon as Giles heard the words, he knew why Buffy had been listening to the song.
*You took my hand, you showed me how
You promised me you'd be around
Un huh, that's right
I took your words and I believed in everything you said to me
Un huh, that's right
If someone said three years from now
You'd be long gone
I'd stand up and punch them out
Cos they're all wrong
I know better cos you said forever, and ever
Giles put his untouched cup of tea back down, turned up the volume and listened closely. It was almost as though Buffy had written this song about him, and he knew what it meant to his Slayer. He had deserted her, but she wasn't blaming him.
*I wish I could touch you again,
I wish I could still call you a friend
I'd give anything
When someone said count your blessings now
Before they're all gone
I guess I just didn't know how
I was all wrong
But they knew better
Still you said forever, and ever
"What's that old saying?" Giles muttered. "'You don't realise what you've got until you've lost it.' It seems Buffy's realised." But from the lyrics of the song, the Slayer knew what she had long before Giles left. Maybe it was Giles that didn't realise what he had…
*I'll keep you locked in my head
Until we meet again
Until we, until we meet again
I won't forget you, my friend
Giles wiped a single tear from his cheek. In all the time they had spent together, Buffy had never called him a friend, and rarely treated him like one. Had she finally grown up? If he went back to Sunnydale now, would things be different?
*If someone said three years from now you'd be long gone
I'd stand up and punch them out
Cos they're all wrong*
The Watcher chuckled. That was his Buffy through and through. His Buffy…the words didn't sound wrong at all.
*That last kiss, I'll cherish until we meet again
In time things get harder and I wish I could remember
But I keep your memory, you visit me in my sleep*
The breath caught in Giles' throat and his mouth turned dry. He did remember the last, and only, kiss they had shared. When Giles announced he was leaving, the Scooby Gang turned up to wish him goodbye. Buffy was the last to see him, and just before she left, she stood on her tiptoes, put her hands on his shoulders, and kissed his cheek, although it had been closer to the corner of his mouth. Time stood still, neither of them willing to move, and Giles dearly regretted not taking a risk. It would have been so easy to kiss her, and he wouldn't have to worry about losing her. But he didn't, and now they were both alone.
*My darling, I miss you, my darling*
Could it be true? Did Buffy really miss him that much? Did she really dream about him? Giles turned his speakers off and sat staring blankly at the computer. She had been so needy when he left, too much so. She had needed to grow up, but from the sounds of things, she had, and he just hadn't noticed.
"Is it possible I've been such a fool?" Giles wondered to himself, and he knew there was only one way to find out. But did he want an answer to that question?
Buffy sat alone in her room, listening to her stereo. She had the same song on repeat, and she found it soothing, even if the rest of the house didn't. There was a knock on the door, and Buffy turned the volume down before shouting, "Come in!"
The door open and Willow stuck her head around it. "Hey!" she said brightly.
"Hey, Will. What can I do ya for?"
"Nothing. Just thought I'd come and see how my favourite Slayer was doing."
Buffy frowned. "Will, have you been on the chocolate again?"
"Why does everyone keep asking me that?" Willow said, too indignantly.
"Who's 'everyone'?" Buffy asked.
"Giles," Willow replied, and then clapped a hand over her mouth.
Buffy's eyes widened. "You spoke to Giles? When?"
"A coupla days ago."
Buffy's eyes then narrowed as she stared at her friend. "Will, what did you do?"
"I didn't do, haven't done, anything!" Willow protested. "Just talked to him, that's all."
"I hope you didn't tell him how pathetic I've been since he's been gone," the Slayer said in a small voice. "I'd hate him to think I was weak, or something. Mind you, it can't be any worse than what he already thinks of me, can it?"
"What makes you think that, Buff?" the redhead asked.
Buffy shrugged. "He left. I know why he did, but he still left. They all leave, the men in my life. And I thought Giles would be the one who'd always stay around. It just hurts, ya know, Will? But I know I've hurt him plenty, so I guess this is my punishment. I just wish I could tell him I'm sorry, show him I've grown up, and that I was before he left. I just want him back, Will," she whispered. "I feel like I'd do anything right now just to have him back."
Willow smiled and crossed the room to hug her friend. "You want hot chocolate with those little marshmallow thingies on?" That always cheered Buffy up.
But the Slayer shook her head. "Nah, I'm good, Will. But you go ahead. Just make sure you tell Tara you've had a chocolate fix. That girl deserves to be warned."
Willow grinned. "Okey dokey! See ya later, Buff, and you know where I am if you need anything."
"Thank, Will." Buffy smiled, but it fell off her face as soon as the door was shut again. The Slayer turned the volume back up on her stereo and let the music flow over her. A few moments later, there was another knock at the door. "Come in!" Nothing. She shrugged and went back to staring at the ceiling when there was a second knock. "Come in!" Still nothing. Buffy started cursing, thinking that it was some kind of joke. At the third knock, she got off the bed and stalked across the room, muttering, "If this is your idea of funny, Dawn, I've got news for you, it…ain't." The last word was uttered very quietly as Buffy yanked the door open and saw who was knocking.
"I should have done this before I left, and thenI might not be in such a quandary," Giles said in greeting. Before Buffy could reply, he bent his head and brushed his lips against hers. Instantly, she responded, bringing her hands up to slide around his neck. But he pulled away, leaving Buffy hurt and confused.
Giles silenced her by putting a finger on her lips. "I don't think you're pathetic, Buffy, and I accept your apology," he said with a smile. "I should have seen how grown up you had become before I left, but I didn't. Please accept my apologies for deserting you. I wasn't trying to punish you at all, I honestly felt like you didn't need me any more. But that song showed me differently."
Buffy had been on the verge of tears at his words, but then her eyes narrowed dangerously. "What song?"
"That song you've been listening to…Willow sent it me…Oh," Giles said, comprehension dawning. "She didn't tell you?"
"No, she didn't." Buffy was just about to yell for the redhead when Giles cupped her face with his hand.
"Does it really matter?" he asked in a soft voice. "Her intentions were the right ones, and they brought me back here to you, where I belong."
Buffy nuzzled into his hand and looked at him with luminous eyes. "Really? Because I want you to know that I love you, Rupert Giles, stuffy librarian that you are. I just never knew how to say it before."
Giles smiled. "And I love you, Buffy Summers, annoying Slayer that you are."
"Oh, goody, we agree on something at least!" Buffy grinned and clapped her hands together. "Now, where were we before the words got in the way?"
"Here." Giles leant forward again and kissed her more firmly. Buffy opened her mouth willingly, and their bodies aligned and melded together seamlessly.
"Eeeiwww! Get a room, guys!" Dawn commented as she reached the top of the stairs and saw them. But they didn't pay her any attention, and she turned around and went back down, grumbling to herself.