"You're ashamed of me."
Buffy stares at Giles' face, smiling as she denies it. Of him, no. Of herself? That's another story.
"We're going to have to tell them at some point. Eventually they will figure it out, and they'll feel badly that we didn't trust them enough with the truth."
Even though she knows Giles is referring to something else, the words make her cringe inside. She's not afraid of them knowing she's with Giles. She wants everyone to know. He's hers and she wants everyone to know she owns his everything.
But everyone knowing comes with a risk, with a price. They'll figure out the truth she's trying to hide and it'll ruin everything.
Buffy smiles at him, says, "Trust me, they're happier not knowing."
And that's mostly not a lie at all.
She allows him to distract her with sex because that's easier than talking about this anymore, than thinking.
College is all the things she thought she'd never have. She never had believed she'd survive high school—without irony, she thinks bitterly—and now that she has, everything that had given her comfort, security is slipping away.
Buffy's the first person to admit she's not exactly the most observant person in the world when it comes to someone else's pain. Her focus tends to be on surviving, killing the next big bad who thinks Sunnydale's the hottest open buffet on the planet. But even she can see Giles slipping away, feeling useless. She can see his eyes travel toward the door, the sky, and she knows he is going to leave, leave her.
It was such a simple thing. It's convenient to be roommates with a witch, especially one who's too busy with her girlfriend to pay attention to her books and ingredients left in her room.
Buffy consoles herself with the knowledge that she's not making Giles do anything he doesn't want to do. He's just a bit of a prude and never would have acted on it without help. He shoots her a quizzical stare when she offers to get tea for the two of them, but shrugs and sits down in his living room, telling her about some boring blah blah blah that she won't be able to recall, even with a knife at her throat. He drinks the tea she offers him without hesitation and a part of her dies a little at how much he trusts her, how little she deserves it. But it's not going to stop her, regardless. She needs him too much to leave his presence in her life up to chance. Especially with her non-existent luck.
"What are you doing here?" she asks. Not that she minds Giles showing up when he does. The Scooby meetings are different now that it's more like a group date instead of friends bemoaning their collective bad taste in men, women, and monsters.
Everyone greets Giles' presence with the same sort of horrified awkwardness she would have only months ago. Her friends immediately assume that a monster, evil, is why Giles is here now. They just don't realize that the monster is her.
"Dance with me?" The request surprises her, but Buffy lets Giles lead her to the dance floor anyhow. It's easier in the faceless throng of people to let go, to be close to him like she is when they're alone. She tries not to think about the subtle way her Giles is changing and focuses on how good it feels to know she'll never be alone.
When she can't sleep in those few moments before dawn, Buffy thinks of Ripper and whether he'd be the type of guy she'd go for. Or if he'd go for her. She wonders if Ripper would do what she's done and if he'd feel guilty after. Then she gets out of bed, starts the day, and tries not to think about it anymore.
"I want to learn to dance like that. Xander, why don't we ever dance that way?"
"I don't know--I don't know--I never want to know," Xander babbles. "I never want to think about dancing again. Hysterical amnesia. That's what this is. And blindness. Can I be blind now?"
Idly, she wonders if Xander will actually say the very clear "ew" that's on his—and everyone else's—mind. Instead, she smiles her biggest, brightest, shut the fuck up smile and deflects everyone in the way she always does when she's uncomfortable.
She knows that this isn't the end of the discussion, that her friends will demand more than flip words and a quick escape. But that's later. Now, she draws Giles away from them, closer to her, and lets him fuck her against the wall, in a dark corner on the second level. Buffy makes light of the situation because she's Buffy and Giles tries to discuss it anyhow, because he's Giles.
It's late when she gets back to the dorm room. She hopes Willow's asleep or, better yet, at Tara's.
"I know what you did."
Unfortunately, it's neither and Buffy turns to face Willow, who's sitting on her bed in the dark room. Willow has a speculative look on her face, open and curious, and Buffy has no idea what to say, where to even start.
"Well, not exactly, but I have a good idea. What you did. Since you did do something. You have Guilty-Face. I just...Buffy," Willow says desperately, "why? Why didn't you ask me for help?"
And that—Willow being more upset about not being asked to help instead of what Buffy's done— is what shocks her into speaking.
"I didn't make him love me," Buffy defends,"I just...helped him along in the acting on it part."
Willow looks helpless. She knows Buffy's wrong, but she also knows, if given the chance, she'd have done worse. "You sure? What did you do? And, hey, jealous that you could make it work, even if you're a total newbie."
She smiles despite herself and shows Willow the spell. "You can't tell anyone, Will."
"I know that," Willow says, rolling her eyes, "Did you see Xander's face? He looked like he was gonna faint." Willow grins at the memory, before getting serious again. "You love him, too, right? That's why you did it."
"Yeah," Buffy says, feeling restless, anxious. She wants to go to Giles, reassure herself about all these things and more.
"Go," Willow says, giving her the permission she craves, doesn't deserve. "I was just here to pick up a few things before going to Tara's." Willow's always letting her off the hook when she shouldn't. Buffy feels desperately grateful for this and hugs Willow quickly before darting out the door again.
One thing Professor Walsh taught her echoes through her mind as she jogs over to Giles' place...the id wants what it wants. She can't help how she feels, how much she needs him. She can't help that he feels the same, even if he'd have never acted on it without a little nudge. She can't help all the things that try to kill her. She can't help feeling lost and so desperately afraid that one day, she'll wake up alone, with no one to help her deal with the rest. So, she lets herself have this, have him, and hopes that if he ever figures it out, he'll love her enough to forgive her.