Buffy paced through the quiet house, unable to sleep. She’d checked in on her friends and her sister, strewn throughout the house and sleeping mostly peacefully. She envied them that ability. She made her way to the kitchen and noticed the back door was slightly ajar. Peeking outside cautiously, she saw a slumped figure sitting on the step.
“Giles?” she whispered. “What are you doing out here?”
“Buffy,” he said, turning to look at her with a familiar gentle smile. “I wanted to get some air but thought that going for a midnight stroll wouldn’t be advisable.”
“Not without some weapons, at least,” she said, joining him on the step. “What are you drinking?”
Giles glanced down at the glass in his hand, grimacing as if he’d forgotten it was there.
“I don’t really know. It was in the kitchen and looked vaguely alcoholic, it could be anything, I suppose.”
Buffy chuckled and took the glass from him. Taking an experimental sip, she shook her head dramatically as it burned down her throat.
“Ugh! Why do you people drink this stuff?” she said disgustedly, batting his hand away when he tried to reclaim his drink. “It’s the worst thing I’ve had in my mouth in ages!”
Giles raised an eyebrow at her, and she flushed deeply as she realised what she had said, taking another quick sip to disguise her embarrassment.
“I’d happily give you something better to put in your mouth—”
“Giles!” she cried, shocked.
“Honestly, Buffy, do be serious.” He impatiently reclaimed his drink from her. “I meant that I would give you a better drink if I could, I don’t know where this swill came from.”
“Oh,” she said, looking down at her hands. “Right.”
“You almost sound disappointed,” he teased gently.
She averted her eyes, looking out into the dark garden instead of looking at him.
“Almost,” she murmured.
Giles refilled his glass from the bottle next to him and passed it to her. They drank in silence for a few more minutes, passing the glass back and forward and refilling it one more time.
“I should probably get to bed,” she said reluctantly, draining the last drops from the glass and handing it back to him.
“Yes, me too,” he agreed. “It’s been a long day.”
Neither of them moved, they just stared at each other. Buffy flicked her eyes down to his lips and then up again to his eyes.
“So, good night,” she whispered, still not moving.
“Good night, Buffy.”
She put her hand on his shoulder and leaned forward to press a gentle kiss to his cheek, lingering as long as she dared. As she started to retreat, he caught her hand in his and brought it to his lips, pressing a gentle kiss to her knuckles. She gasped and met his eyes as he pressed another kiss to the back of her hand and then turned it over to press a kiss to her wrist.
“You should get to bed, Buffy,” he murmured, releasing her hand and cupping her cheek instead.
“Definitely,” she said, her eyes slipping closed as he moved his face closer to hers.
He pressed feather-light kisses to her eyelids and then both her cheeks. He paused, his mouth hovering above hers, his hand slipping into her hair.
“Giles, please,” she said desperately, wanting him to continue but too scared to take that final step herself. “Please, Giles.”
A light flicked on suddenly in the house and they both startled, glancing at it guiltily and then back at each other. Giles sighed and smiled at her apologetically as he withdrew his hand from her hair. He pressed a quick kiss to her forehead before pulling away from her entirely and standing up.
“Good night, Buffy,” he said, not looking at her as he made his way back to the house.
She watched him go and then reached blindly for the bottle of terrible liquor, taking a huge mouthful and willing herself not to feel hurt.
“Good night, Giles,” she whispered to the darkness.