Chapter 1: The Gashing
A pounding on the door stirred Giles awake. By the time he reached the bottom stair, the door swung open and Riley rushed in carrying a bloody Slayer in his arms. “She needs a hospital.”
Jolted awake by the sight of his bleeding Slayer, he ran to the couch and cleared the books he had left there. Riley laid her down.
“Then why did you take her here?”
“You were closer,” Buffy spoke softly. Giles looked down at her, she looked a mess. Surely, it is bad, but a bloodied white shirt always altered your perception of an injury. He studied her face for pain, her coloring, and pupils. He reached down to touch her forehead with the back of his palm, and she was neither cold nor hot. She pleaded with him, “No hospital.”
Riley interrupted, “She was insistent, but I think we need to call 911.”
With a slight hand gesture, Riley moved back out of the way and Giles crouched next to his Slayer and slowly peeled her shirt up. Revealing four large claw marks, he asked, “What did this?”
It was indeed bad, and the entire length of her injury is masked by her undergarments.
“A demon,” Riley said roughly.
He bit his lip instead of lashing his tongue, “Clearly, but what kind?”
Buffy supplied, “A Pikachu.”
His eyebrows knitted together, translating her language, “A Pikasneese?”
“Bless you.” She winced as she chuckled.
“Buffy, this isn’t funny. Riley is right. You should see a doctor. It’s a small miracle this isn’t a toxic scratch.”
“No, I need my Watcher. Fix me up.”
Groaning in hesitation, he inspected her wound closer. The outer lacerations would heal fine on their own, but the muscle was ripped through on the center cuts.
With urgency Riley spoke, “Don't we need to ya’ know… Get her to the ER?”
“Be quiet.” He turned his attention back to the precious bundle on the couch. “Buffy, I can suture you up…”
His wrinkles in his forehead never bode well for her, but she pressed on. “Spiffy. Let’s get on it.”
It had been so long since she asked him for anything, let alone patched her up. “Your injury is quite severe, if I stitch you up, you may very well have a scar, despite your healing. I’d much rather...”
“No, Giles.” She was resolved. “You know me best. Please?”
Giles got to his feet, feeling some of his bones shift and crack, “Very well.”
Riley threw his hands up in exasperation, “You’re seriously not going to take her to the ER?”
He dismissed him. “It is not her wish.”
His Slayer’s boyfriend began continued to raise his voice, “And you just bend to her will? She has lost a quart of blood. At least!”
Buffy was not incompetent or totally self-sacrificing. If she needed a doctor, she would ask. Right now, she was specifically asking not to go to the hospital.
From the couch she called out, “Riley, you need to leave”.
“No! He doesn't have your best interest at heart.”
Leaving them to their quarrel, he went to the kitchen to fetch the first aid-kit. He kept his ear out as he collected his things.
“I’m the Slayer. He’s my Watcher.”
Riley scoffed, as if that was enough to make him complacent. “I don’t understand!”
“Exactly! That’s why I’m bleeding all over his couch in the first place!” She tried to sit up and the pain shot through her.
Riley’s flinch was response to her wince. He saw the determination in her eyes and called tonight a loss. Softly, she said, “I’ll call you tomorrow.”
A few long strides, Riley was at her side. He kissed her forehead. He glared hard at Giles, “I will go take care of the hostile's corpse.” He exited as quietly as possible in defiance of his anger.
Her relief was palpable as soon as he was out of sight. “Giles, how bad is it?”
Giles returned to the table with an arm full of supplies. He extended his palm with two pain killers in his hand and raised a glass of water. With a hint of vulnerability, she asked, “You won’t leave me tonight, right?”
“Never,” he said softly.
Finding a comfortable sitting position, she swallowed the pills. She suspected he was waiting for them to kick in as he unpacked their necessities as the water on the stove began to bubble.
Giles reached out and slid his hands behind her back to situate her better. “Let’s see the extent of your wound.”
She raised the hem of her shirt as far as she could reach before Giles had to intervene and help remove it completely. Setting it aside, his assumptions were correct, it was more extensive than it looked, but she would heal.
He stammered, “I’ll need to.. To remove your bra… Unless you choose to go to the hospital, we can still leave.”
A strong hand gripped his shoulder, “It’s no big, Giles. They’re just boobs. ” She knew this made him uncomfortable but she really just wanted to get it over with. She reached back to unclasp it herself but cried out.
“Yes, yes. You’re right. Sometimes I forget that not all Americans share the aversion to the bare human form.”
He reached behind her with undid it with expert ease. How much experience does he have?
His inspection of her au naturel state was purely tactical. She reached down to touch herself but he swatted her hand aside. The longest claw mark ran right down her chest, “You are very lucky. Another quarter inch to the right any he would have slashed your nipple.”
The motion of looking down made her cry out once again. Needing to minimize the motion she asked, “Where do I need to be? This really sucks a lot.”
“Further down, flat on your back.” He guided her down so she wouldn't need to use her core. Washing away the dried blood from the outside in and cleansing her skin with antiseptic, he told he was pleased the bleeding has stopped. As he began threading the needle, she chortled.
“What’s so funny?”
“You’re basically ‘Stitches-R-Us’.
He cocked his head in silent agreement. The tiny, but brief smile she saw reminded her how modest he is. It made her miss him more...
How they had become so distant were interrupted by his large hands on her stomach. “I don’t need to remind you this will be uncomfortable, do I?”
She saw the hesitation, “No, I trust you, Watcher-Mine.”
Her comment threw him off. “... Right,” he covered.
His hands were steady and his stitches were were consistent. Each puncture and pull was laced with equal pain and comfort as he delivered 24 sutures to her midsection.
Using butterfly closures for the less deep claw marks, he leaned back to assess his work. “If feel anything out of the ordinary or pain, please tell me.” She nodded, her eyes slightly glassed over. Gently helping her forward, he wrapped feet of gauze around her torso. Buffy slumped back, uncaring of her nude form. Giles patted her knee, “Let me get you some pajamas.”
Returning quickly, he helped her dress in one of his long sleeved navy shirts. It was so large, it almost hung to her knees, and she said she didn’t need pants. Using one of his patented eyebrow raises, he encouraged her to drink half a bottle of gatorade.
“Do you think you can make it upstairs?”
With the pain, and the pain medication, she shook her head.
The couch was comfortable, but it was too small. He offered, “I can carry you. Would that be amenable?”
A sloppy ‘yea,’ slipped from her lips. He deftly maneuvered her off the couch into his arms and carried her to the loft, placing her on the left side of the bed as he turned down the sheets. Shifting her under the covers, he sat down next to her he inquired, “What did you mean that you were bleeding because of Riley?”
Her head rolled towards him, “He doesn’t understand.”
“You mentioned that.”
“I mean, they’re out there with their super tech and thingies, and they deal, but not like…” She paused, “He doesn't take me seriously.”
If she didn’t have Slayer hearing, she never would have heard him call him an idiot under his breath.
“Were were arguing, that girls are just as strong, but their macho man-ness believe girls belong in the kitchen or something. That they aren’t fighters.” He reached out and squeezed her hand. “That’s when the demon came up.”
“Ah." He patted her hand, "Get some sleep Buffy.” He stood and turned out the lights.
Her soft voice called out his name, “Will you stay up here tonight?”
He hesitated, but magic between them tugged at him. “Uh, sure. Let me change.” Soon she felt the bed dip with his weight. She reached out her hand and poked his ribs on accident. He outstretched his hand and wrapped her small hand in his, “Better?”
Sleepily, she mumbled, “Slayer, Watcher, In-Sync… Good.”
It was around 8am when Giles began to stir. Buffy had pressed herself against his entire left side. It was fairly unobtrusive, but unseemly given their positions. He began to separate himself when her eyes opened. Her blonde hair disheveled, her green eyes struggling to focus on him, the tiny flecks of gold reflecting around her irises, making her look like a goddess to him. She held his gaze, taking in the emerald color of his, thinking how rare it was to meet someone with eyes the same color as hers.
They were more rich, deceptively powerful. She concealed the shutter it caused with a yawn and sprawled out more fully over him like a cat claiming their spot. Her back pressed against his chest. “Feeling better are we?”
“Ugh… Dunno’. He slid out from underneath her. She claimed more of the space once he was kneeling before her.
Glad she was looking more like herself he told her, “Lift your shirt, you bed hog.”
It was too early to make sense of anything, so she did as she was told and pulled his shirt up to her breasts. She pulled it up to her breasts. He pressed two fingers against her sternum. She whined a little bit, but there was no seepage. “If you’d like to shower here, we can re-wrap it after. Do you have classes today?”
Crossing her arms against her chest she considered lying, but they were far past that phase. “At noon.” She cried out dramatically, “But I have been gashed! No need to go class today.”
He backed off the bed and when he reached the foot, he yanked her at her ankles and pulling her forward for a reaction. She squealed and was on her feet in an instant looking up at him, waving her finger in his face. “No fair. No testing me before coffee.”
“You were gashed, you’re healing now.” His eyes were sparkling. “I’ll make you breakfast.” He was almost out of the room, “Oh, your bathing materials are in the hallway closet in a box on the bottom.”
“You moved my stuff?”
There was a sadness to his lilt, “You haven’t been around.”
Chapter 2: Donut Tuesday
A bit of introspection in this specific chapter.
A few days later Buffy came waltzing into Giles apartment calling his name only to be met with a familiar face. “Xander? What are you doing here?”
“It’s Tuesday. The day I bring donuts.” He held out the box, “Want one?” She was perplexed but reached out to grab a jelly. “No, no. That’s Giles’. Have a powdered one.”
She frowned, and accepted one with a thanks. “Willow will be here soon. What brings you around?”
This was her Watcher’s house, she doesn't need a reason to come over. “Uhh, I need him to remove my stitches.”
He was loud, “You got stitches?”
“Didn’t he tell you?”
“No. Much to your surprise, we don’t talk about you.”
“Hmph, what do you talk about then?”
He shrugged and shoved a donut in his mouth, “Guy stuff.”
Wow, he was limited, whatever. “Oooo-Kay… Where is he?”
“He went to his storage locker, he will be right back.” Willow came in and greeted her friend with a wide smile. “Hi Buffy! What are you doing here?”
“Way to make me feel like I don't belong guys... “
“What do you mean?” She looked towards Xander and he shrugged, “We don’t mean anything… It’s just that its Tuesday. You’ve never joined us before.”
"You knew about donut Tuesdays and didn’t tell me?"
Willow set her bag down, “I did tell you, multiple times. You just, ya’know, never listened.” She trailed off the last part not wanting to offend.
Had she been that distracted? Guilt began to set in. Today was a new day. She needed to get back to being just ‘Buffy’.
“I’m sorry, Will. I’ve been kinda’ in La La Land.”
"You’re telling me."
“Shut up Xander,” Willow snapped. She turned back to Buffy, “I’m just glad you’re here. Hey, why are you here?”
Buffy sighed deeply, and just lifted up her shirt to show them. There were big gasps and its good thing they didn’t see them when they were fresh. Now, the shallow cuts were gone, leaving only what looked like what Giles’ warned, a fairly jagged, pink gashes. And the 24 stitches that stuck out like a sore thumb against her fair tone.
“I know it looks bad, but it’s fine. Maybe they should make flesh-tone suture stuff.”
Their eyebrows were raised in disbelief, Buffy lowered her shirt and rambled on about the sneezing demon when Giles came through the door with a large box. “Oh, Buffy, you’re here. What are you doing here?”
"Geez. If I’m so unwelcome, I’ll just leave." She bent to pick up her bag up and headed to leave. Giles set down the box and grabbed her arm. At his touch, heat rumbled through her whole body and she stopped. Something nudged her not to be mad, “I-I was just hoping you could remove my stitches.”
He reached out and ran his hand down her arm, “Of course. I’m glad you came.” She could almost feel the calm radiating off him. She set her bag back down. “Did you offer her a donut Xander?”
He winked, “Donut you know it.”
Buffy reached for another donut, trying to regain some of her nerves, “So.. you guys do this every Tuesday then?”
They nodded, their mouths full. Willow asked, “You gonna’ come next Tuesday? If you’re not busy with Riley, that is.”
Did none of them like him? “Sure. Yea, I can make it. We broke up anyway,” unsure if her voice held the quiver she didn't want to reveal.
Xander scratched the back of his neck not wanting to be the one to crack that egg. Giles set the kettle on and Willow was a bit awkward. However, she spoke first, “Good. I don’t like him.”
Buffy glared at Willow knowing that she did indeed like him. “That’s not fair. You do like him.”
She bounded from foot to foot, “Well, yeah I do. He’s nice, but not for you. He isn’t..” She looked around for a distraction, she glanced to Giles, and he shook his head. “He isn’t secure enough for you.”
That was all she needed to say and she said it well. Buffy slumped, “I know. That’s why we broke up. He wants to be, ‘the man’,” she air quoted. “He won’t admit it, but he has an issue with me being the Slayer.”
Xander piped up, “Hey, I got no problem with you saving my ass and beating people up for me. In fact, I like it.”
Giles hummed his agreement as he prepared his tea, “It is truly his loss. You are this world’s protector." He added another spoonful of sugar when he thought no one was watching. "If I could have the whole world marvel at your courage and strength I would.”
His tone alone made her feel right. She hasn't felt right in a long time.
In a sweet voice, Willow interrupted, “Oh! It would soo go to your head.”
“Ha, ha. Yes. My ego would be huge, but a little satisfaction would be nice. If you can’t get it from your boyfriend, who can you get it from?"
No one answered her question, and being at Giles apartment with the gang felt like returning home. No one needed to say a word. Slowly they moved onto the mundane and in a short time Willow and Xander were getting ready to leave.
Xander lifted the box, "Want me to return what doesn't fit?
“No need. Just donate them when you can.”
They said their goodbyes and Willow left with Xander.
“You're giving him your clothes?”
“He has some potential job opportunities.
“Neat,” she folded her hands on the table.
He refilled his mug and stood a few feet away.“Don't you have classes today?”
“My literature professor had a heart attack, so class was cancelled.”
“Are you sure it was just a heart attack?”
“Oh yeah. Total heart disease. All he ever did was sit around and read books.” It took her longer to realize what she just sputtered out. “Oh. Not like you or anything. You’re athletic and strong.”
Giving her the side eye, her lips continued to move, “You’re much more likely to be bludgeoned to death...” He pinched the bridge of his nose hoping this torment would end soon. “Err…I mean-”
Buffy felt thoroughly chastised, but this was the perfect segue into what she needed to ask.
"Giles, will you start training me again?"
Taking a long pull from his tea, giving her the illusion of deliberation. "Is that what you want?"
She came over and took the jade mug out of his hand and set it down. “Yes.” She bit her lip, hesitant to gesture to her belly but she did it anyway. "This was a wake up call."
She was stripping him down, so he tucked his hands in his pockets. She had been absent for what felt like years, but he would always be there for her. This was in her best interest and her injury should never have happened in the first place, he would give her what she needed. “It’s going to rigorous.” She took a wide stance. “I’m going to push you to your limits.”
“I can keep up.”
“Very well. Write down your class schedule, any extracurriculars you have and I’ll work up a regime. We will begin in two days.”
“Why not now?” She followed his eyes to her torso. “Right. Now, can we get these out? They’re itchy.”
With a chuckle, he set about getting the shiny chrome scissors, when he heard her call out again, “And thank you.”
It made him pause. Her being alive, the blood pumping through her veins was gratitude enough. Yet, to hear to say the words made something snap back in place he hadn’t realized had been so out of whack. He was certain she felt it too. “You’re welcome.”
Waiting for him to return, she sat on the green velvet couch in the living room. She knew, he knew that she could have removed them on her own, but he was grateful she came back to him. Placing the few necessities on the coffee table, he knelt in front of her. Instead of laying down, she leaned back and spread her legs for him to inhabit the space between them.
What this a game to her? If so, one point Buffy, 0 Giles. She lifted her shirt and stopped shy of her breasts once again. No, she is just a young woman finding herself. Buffy didn’t play games, she couldn’t afford to.
In their positions, they were almost eye level, but not quite. Giles sought approval to begin, and she gave it. Taking out the antiseptic, he cleaned the sutured area. Her skin needed to be dry, but instead of dabbing it with a cloth, he blew his breath against her stomach. She shivered. Taking the chance to look up, her eyes were dilated with desire. One point Giles.
Taking the scissors and tweezers, he paid great care not to touch her skin. He carefully removed every other suture, then doubled back until all the thread was removed. He wiped the trail of tiny puncture marks down with another swath of antiseptic cloth.
She held her breath for him to blow against her skin again and was disappointed when he lowered her shirt. Giles was unsure if he had crossed a line and a twinge of guilt flare within him. He sat back on the coffee table, remaining close.
Her tentative voice inquired, "Is it the magic between us?"
Clasping his hands, he responded, "You felt it too?"
“Yea. It's like... being with you again, a part of me came back too. Does that make sense?"
"Indeed," he took her hands in his. He has touched her more in the last three days than she can ever remember, and she didn’t want him to stop.
She pulled their entwined fingers to her cheek. "We belong together. Watcher and Slayer."
He couldn't decipher her expression, it was new. It felt like equal devotion though. He let his fingers unfurl and ran them through her honey hair, resting his palm on her shoulder.
"That we do." He stood to break their near trance. "Are you planning on patrolling tonight?"
“Yeah, I've been gone for two days. I need to get out there.”
“Well, I shall accompany you to take in your form.”
With a big sigh and grin, she said, “All men want to take in my form.”
It flustered Giles but he recovered. “No, not as such! I’m sure you’re soft from training with those army men. I need to assess your progress, or lack thereof.”
“Whatever Giles. I’ll be back before dusk.” She gave him a wave, picked up her bag and left. She needed to get out of there. This was uncertain ground. It wasn’t bad, but… different. This was Giles.
Walking back to campus she kept him in her thoughts. Her psych class taught her about introspection and more. Giles was safe, consistent, thoughtful and brave. He encouraged her to be better, stronger, smarter. He took solace in her strength and had no issues with her protecting him.
Remembering Angel sent a pang through her heart. He would always have a special place in her heart. She had said she loved him more than anything, and looking back, she did. He always put her needs above his. However, there was always a ‘but’ with him. He never consulted her. He left her. He always hurt her in one form or another. He took her choices away and that wasn’t fair.
Her friends had break ups. Oz left Willow, and that was messy. Xander cheated on Cordelia and he hurt. Those were normal break ups, not kill and torture your friends breakups.
She always assumed that falling in love should hurt, but then she recalled the lecture about redefining how you think about love. It shouldn't be painful. You should step into love. A romance is about partnership and work.
That concept was closer with Riley, but his notions about a man and a woman were antiquated. A stray thought about Parker slipped in and it made her cringe to think how taken advantage of she was. She would never fall for that again.
She wanted something better than that. She wanted to be loved, respected and desired. She wanted a man like Giles, but there would never be another man like Giles. He was unique. She wants him to be happy, but couldn’t imagine it working out with another woman either. Is that how he saw her relationships too? Doomed to fail?
Could it be true that it was only supposed to be the Slayer and the Watcher until their deaths? A world where their hearts suffered? Trying to pick up the pace to clear her mind, she made it back to her dorm to change and collect her goods.
All that thinking made her feel so alone until the magic within her stirred. It whispered, ‘Watcherrr’. Not literally, but a call to be back beside him. It was nearing dusk and she headed back to his apartment. Their magic had been quiet. Was there never a need for the pull because they had always been so connected? Self absorbed Buffy was a neglectful Buffy.
Finally finding the place she needed to be, she knocked on his door before letting herself in. “You really need to lock your door.”
He was rocking the ‘sexy professor’ look tonight. Sliding his tweed jacket over his black shirt, he was prepared to head out in a moments notice. Assuming the Initiative would cover the campus, they navigated in and out of town, working their way through the cemeteries.
By the fourth graveyard, Giles’ presence was a steady hum in her internal periphery. He kept within her eyesight and she noticed he didn’t look as old as she remembered. How old was he though? It didn’t matter.
Buffy stayed focused. Plunge, move on. She didn’t want to play. She needed to hunt. Needed to prove to Giles she could be consistent.
Her Slayer sense tingled and her nostrils flared. She took a moment to hone in on the presence, something she hadn’t done in a long time. She took off in a sprint. By the time Giles caught up. She was dusting off her pants, “Got her.”
“Very good. That was the third one tonight. How many have you been staking in an evening?”
She wiped her stake, “Anywhere from 1-6 depending on the cycle of the moon, how many dogs are in the kennel, and how many fire sales are happening at the mall.”
His jaw slackened before a loud laugh escaped, a smile bloomed across her face. “Honestly, Giles… This town isn't that big, where do all these vamps come from? They don't all die here.”
“No. It’s the mystical energy of the Hellmouth that has them flocking here. It’s rather befuddling because it is well known that its protected by you. “
“Dumb vamps. Whelp, I think it's time to call it a night. How about I walk you home.”
“That would be nice,” he extended his arm.
They set their stoll’s pace back to Giles’ apartment at ‘leisurely’. He asked, “Any issues with your injury from the other night?”
“Nope, none.” She replied, sliding a little closer to him.
As they reached his doorstep, she stood up and kissed him on the cheek. “I’ll be seeing you, Watcher.”
He smiled and called out, “Until then, Slayer.”
Chapter 3: A New Routine
Giles and Buffy go on their first date.
Her eyes grew wide when he handed over her new training schedule. He waited for her to complain but she didn’t. He wouldn’t set her up for failure, and if he thought she could do it, then it was manageable.
5 miles before lunch at Giles
-quick patrol , (Monday's were quiet)
Donuts with Scoobies
Afternoon Yoga and Flexibility
Classes all day,
Dinner at Giles to recap
Fencing, minor hand to hand
Yoga and Flexibility
3 mile run
Yoga and Flexibility
Early dinner at mom's
Within the first week many of the exercises left them both breathless. Buffy queried, “Put on the Freshman 15 did ya’ Giles?”
“It appears that I have.” Wiping his brow, “I didn’t know it was contagious.”
“As-If!” She pulled a towel out of the cupboard and wiped her face down while Giles retrieved a pitcher of water. He had done a good job keeping up with her running. She really was quite exquisite when she was focused.
He noticed she has filled out a little bit, a healthy gain. Her face was a bit more angular, her cheekbones slimmed and her jaw is more refined. The teenage look was fading fast.
After their refreshments, Giles removed his long sleeved shirt to reveal a short sleeve shirt underneath. It made him look like a normal guy, and it was appealing. “You wear too many layers,” she told him.
“And you wear too few.” She looked down at what she was wearing, a thick banded sports bra and running shorts.
As they began their cool down stretches, Buffy was watching her Watcher with the same focus she had when she was training. She couldn't remember the last time she saw his arms. How taught his triceps were when he stretched over his head, and the way his back muscles cast shadows as he did the wide toe stretch, and how balanced he was when he stretched his quads.
When Giles calls it quits, she followed his lead-- which ended in his small kitchen. They still retained their natural ease of working in small spaces, but she gave him more room to make their sandwiches and observe from the pass through.
He sat down next to her, passing her plate and asked, “Buffy, how would you like to go out on a date with me?”
She blinked, “A date?”
He kept his tone as unwavering and reassured her, “I’m not suggesting that it turns into anything, but I feel the need to address whatever is going on between us.” He found the courage to continue. “I see you looking."
“Does that bother you?”
He set his sandwich down, “Not at all. It’s all very natural as our relationship is changing. It occurred to me that there are few places where you can be assertive and dating- dating very well not be one of them.” He could see her processing. “At the very least, it will be a pleasant evening out.”
‘step into love’ sang in her heart.
She knew her answer. IT was a resounding ‘Yes!’ but she couldn’t help but tease him a little. “I don't know, I have such little free time. My Watcher keeps me extremely busy. Sometimes tied up too.” Taking a tiny bite she added, “Literally.”
He snickered, “That was one time and you should have been able to free yourself.”
“You should have left me a knife!”
“That was the point!” He threw his hands up in the air. “Perhaps, I should tie you up again!”
“Bollocks, this was a bad idea...”
“Giles, no!” She cried. “I want to go out on a date. Just name the time and place and I’ll show.”
Buffy was standing in front of the mirror fretting. She turned to Willow, “I think I have on too much makeup."
Willow leaned over said nothing, but she could tell by her expression she did. “You look fine. Giles doesn't care. Isn't that kinda' the whole point?”
“He does care. He was very clear to let me know this is my show, but it's weird.”
“Because he's Giles?”
She turned back to the mirror trying to take off some of her eye shadow. "Yeah."
“Is it weird because you think he's sexy?”
“I don't know if I think he's sexy, that's what I'm trying to find out. He’s a man Will, like battle scars and smarts and stuff.”
Willow pulled her legs to her chest, “Well I think it's very mature and cool of him to put himself out there so openly, knowing that you're going to judge him like that.”
“OMG! Is that really what this is?”
“Uhh yeah, Buff.”
Her nerves came to fruition, “And what if it goes… wiggy? What are we going to do?”
Trying to console her friend, “It won't go wiggy. I bet Giles has thought of all the different scenarios. He's thoughtful like that. Plus, I don't think he is as stuffy as we think he is.” Willow’s lip curled half up, “I’ve seen a bunch of ladies hit on him when we go out for coffee.”
Buffy turned around again, “Really?”
“And a guy,” she added. “Hey, that color is perfect on you. Don’t do anything else.”
Buffy sat on the bed next to her friend. “I need Giles in my life. He… he completes me in a way that I don’t think I can live without.”
“Just because you feel that way doesn't mean you need to sleep with him.”
“I am NOT going to sleep with Giles.”
“You say that now…” she cooed. At Buffy’s admonishment she continued, “Listen, I’m just saying that whatever you feel is okay. Giles would never leave you, or judge you. He doesn’t have any expectations. Just be yourself and have fun.”
Buffy stood to slip on the black velvet strapless dress. Slipping on her on her knee high black boots, Willow asked, “Where are you going to put your stake?”
“Giles will bring them.”
“Uhh, well let me remind you that you should never rely on a man to bring protection.”
Buffy grabbed a light jacket and put two stakes in her pocket and a small bottle of holy water. She stuck her tongue out at her friend and headed towards the door.
Willow cried out, “Have fun on your date with a handsome older man!”
Her words rang true. He was a handsome older man and she felt a blush creeping on her face as she left Stevenson Hall.
Her anxiety was in check by the time she got to his door. Knocking, she mused this was role reversal at his fullest. Now, this was being assertive and it made her feel strong.
Giles answered the door and surveyed his attire. A fitted linen green button down, no tie, tucked into… well fitting khakis? Where on earth had he gotten those? Did he go to the mall without her? He turned to fetch his coat, and she saw how they showcased his ass. Was she really going there? She unconsciously licked her lips.
She told him, "You look great Giles!"
"Thank you." He couldn't tell exactly what she was wearing as he coat was a little large, but he told her she did as well.
"So, where are we headed?"
"L'Arpège. It's a little French restaurant a few miles outside of town."
She rolled the name odd her tongue. After four years of French, she couldn't tell anyone what it meant, but she wasn't going to mention that.
On their way, she asked, "Do we need to order in French?"
“No, I suspect that everyone will speak English.” It was a short drive with little opportunity to converse in the car.
The restaurant was quite quaint, somewhat softly lit and the tables were spaced out giving ample room for privacy. Giles noted how she took in her surroundings; marking the emergency exits, the momentary ‘zone out’ as she honed in for a supernatural presence. He felt a surge of pride she wasn’t distracted in a new setting, let alone on a date.
He assisted her in removing her coat to hand to the maitre d, but felt the weight of the stakes and perhaps a few additional weapons. He gave her the side eye. “Shall we keep this at the table with us, Darling?”
The pet name sent a pool of heat between her legs. The blush was back and turned her gaze to her shoes. “Pl-please.”
They were escorted to their table and the chair was pulled out for her. The light glinted off the small gold hoop he had slipped in his earlobe and but couldn’t comment as the server went over the specials and wine menu. She couldn’t recall ever dining in a restaurant like this, at least since L.A. Giles ordered a 30 year single malt Scotch, and Buffy ordered the House Red. If their server did I.D. her, she would have shown him her fake, but thankfully it never came up and Giles did not mention anything.
They were given time to look over the menu. It was a bit overwhelming, but she recognized more words than she thought she would, specifically ‘beef’ and ‘chicken’. It didn’t matter what she ate, as long as both of the stayed far from the Foie Gras. She looked at Giles, his shoulders looked more broad than usual. She could see the strength he carried every day and was grateful he was on her side, rather against her.
Their drinks came and she took a sip as Giles swished his around in the glass inhaling it. She asked, “How many languages do you speak?”
His gaze was steady and he spoke confidently, “Six or seven coherently. Maybe a dozen if you include the dead languages for translation.
With sarcasm, she comments, "Oh, only a dozen."
"Dear me, I forgot one," his eyes twinkling, "I speak fluent Buffy."
She giggled. "You would think it would be important enough to teach at UC Sunnydale, but Ancient Arabic took its place."
"Ah, well. Buffy is the most important form of communication to me anyway."
"Are you always this charming?"
He smiled and the crinkles on top of his cheeks took their happy position. "No, I haven't had a need to pull out any stops as of late."
“Lucky for me then, I get the full Giles experience.”
Their server returned and Buffy ordered in French, trying to pronounce everything correctly, her date smiled warmly at her and it lit her heart. She was also trying to put her best foot forward.
“In the movies, whenever a guy takes a woman to a French restaurant, they always have him order for her. It makes a bad impression on the young girl!”
Unable to contain his laughter, he let it out. “Well it’s a good thing that even if I didn’t speak French, you could have ordered me then.”
“Do you have a favorite country? Ya’ know, other than England?”
He pursed his lips and took a swig of his drink. “That’s an interesting question. I will say I enjoyed Greece very much, they have a very rebellious, free spirit. Yet, Rome has beautiful libraries…" he trailed off.
Buffy finished that sentence, "...that can make you drool?"
“I was not drooling, but yes. I would say my mouth salivates at the thought of some of their catalogs. What about you?”
“Me? I've only been to Cabo. It's nothing to write home about.”
Perhaps your summer break, we travel. We can go almost anywhere in the world. Given enough of a demonic presence," he added woefully.
She pouted, “It's always about demons and vampires.”
He grabbed her hand. “I'm sorry, it's our life.”
Tugging her hand free she said, "Say we go into La La land, who would guard the Hellmouth?”
His eyebrows rose and he leaned back, "We could always pay Spike."
She crossed her arms against her chest and delivered a sour expression.
It really was a good suggestion. He leaned in conspiratorially, “Come on, you know it's true.”
“What about the Initiative?”
It was supposed to be a fun night out, but their everyday lives bled through. This is what it made it unrealistic for them to hope for a normal life. “You tell them of your absence. Buffy, I’m serious about us taking a break if you’d like. We can make it happen, we can find a way during your summer breaks. You can see the world.”
She wanted nothing more than to believe him. He had never misguided her before. “Really?”
Sincerely he told her, “Yes, luv.”
With Giles at her side, she knew they could accomplish anything. The magic between her told her so. They changed the subject and their meal came in what seemed like no time. They switched to talking about taste and texture, sharing bites.
It was quite intimate and enjoyable. She already knew she would like to do it again, but she didn't know how it would end. Except with a goodnight kiss, the butterflies in her stomach were telling her that’s where they needed to go -- and she wanted to experience it.
On the drive home, she told Giles to take the next right, and he did so obediently. Then another right followed by a left. She was leading him to the pier, “Let’s go for a walk.”
Neither of them had sand shoes, but they could at least walk to the Lighthouse. She loved being by the water, but it was rare she could find the time to go. He parked and she slipped him a stake.
Taking his hand, they strolled, listening to the waves dance across the rocks. They passed a few night-time fisherman, but no vamps pinged her radar. There wasn't much of a view but the tranquility soothed her soul.
When they got to the end Giles braced his hands against the rail. Buffy came up behind him and spoke lowly, "I'd like to do this again." He turned and embraced her. The heat of his core filling her cold spots. "We fit like puzzle pieces, me and you.
“You and I,” he corrected her.
Despite the low light, it didn’t diminish the scowl she tossed him. “Just because Buffy is the most important language, doesn’t mean that I can be less English.”
“Yes. My armored Brit in tweed.” She tilted her head back, “My hero Watcher.”
“Is-Is that how you think of me?”
“Always my tweeded British hero, yes. Something more?” He eyes were wide, holding his breath. “Yes. I think so. If it’s alright... I just, I just need some time to process.”
He responded in kind, “I understand. I’m- I’m processing as well. You’re no longer that infuriating young girl. You’re an accomplished Slayer with the whole of the world at your disposal.”
Their faces were inching closer and closer. She asked, “Am I still infuriating?”
“At times, yes. But that doesn't mean,” he looked away for a moment before lowering his chin, “It doesn't mean I’d change anything about you.”
She ran her hands through the scruff of his neck and he choked back the majority of his moan. The bit that escaped spurred her on, and she pulled his lips against hers. It was a bit of an uncomfortable clash at first given her strength, but it didn’t surprise him. When the kiss began to temper, he pulled back. Both her hands came up to cup his jaw, making her feel small and protected. Something she doesn't allow herself to feel.
Giles maneuvered a knee between their bodies separating them and led down to trace his lips against hers. Slipping his tongue between them, she submitted. The power between them was balanced and fierce. He was demanding and gentle at the same time. This joining was full of potential, devotion and love. Gripping his hips hard, she found her footing.
It left her breathless and speechless. "Wow," she conjured.
“Totally,” he replied, causing her to giggle once again this evening. “We should return.”
“Oh, but you didn’t even get to ravage my exposed shoulders,” she teased exposing her fair skin to the chill of the night.
He placed a kiss, and then another before dipping his tongue in her clavicle. Shifting her jacket back in place, he said, “Perhaps next time?”
“Yes,” she crooned then frowned, “I need to patrol still.”
He took her hand and changed directions towards the shoreline. They slowed to a stop. He asked, “Buffy, is this where we should be tonight?”
She turned her head to look around, “I think so.” She closed her eyes, and focused her energy on darkness. “There are vamps.”
“By all means,” He released her, allowing her prowess to take shape. They walked side by side with sharpened senses, wielding the stakes she brought.
His Slayer staked two vampires with efficiency. Once again she had little tolerance for them intruding on her time with Giles. They had done quite a bit of meditating recently, and their presence was unwelcome. Her training with Giles was already paying off, and she told him so.
Deciding to have him to drive her back to her dorm, he escorted her all the way up to her room. She pressed a hand to his chest. He looked around but she spoke first. “Giles, I know we didn’t talk about our age difference.” He shifted from foot to foot. But I need to tell you that it doesn’t matter to me.” She looked at him expectantly, “Does it bother you?”
He reached for her hair, “Not as such. But, we do need to discuss it.”
“You’re correct. Not tonight,” he repeated. “I had a very nice time.”
“As did I.”
She slipped her arms around him underneath his jacket and peered up at him. “Kiss me like there is only me and you on this earth.”
He pushed her against her door and tugged on her bottom lip, moving his way down her neck to her shoulder, biting and sucking, making her way back up to her earlobe. She rutted against him and felt his length pushing against her, Buffy bit his neck in response. There was a frenzy when their mouths found each other -- The door opened unexpectantly and they stumbled through barely landing on their feet.
Staring up they saw Willow’s surprised face. She apologized, “I’m sorry, I thought someone was knocking. I thought it could be Tara...”
“Oh, there was a knocking,” Buffy said wiping her mouth.
“A little decorum Buffy,” chastised Giles.
“I can go…” said Willow.
Giles righted himself as best as he could, “There’s no need.” He took a deep breath and faced his date for the evening, “I’ll see you Monday for our run?”
Her cheeks were as red as his, “Right-O Watcher-Mine.”
“Then if you’ll excuse me,” he back peddled out of the room.
“Night Giles,” they both called out.
As soon as Giles shut the door Willow’s face lit up like the Griswold House at Christmas. Tell me! Did you need any protection???! Tell me about the smoochies!”
Buffy ducked her head, “Gee Willow. Tone it down a notch, will ya’?” She smiled brightly at her redheaded friend, “Just the stakes, but holy hell does he know how to kiss....”
They both got ready for bed and Buffy spared no details and they giggled all the way to sweet dreams.
Chapter 4: Dinner Part I
Giles and Buffy train and go on their second date.
This chapter is heavy on dialog, but they have to discuss a few things. It was incredibly long and I split it into two parts.
Buffy showed up as promised to their Monday morning run after her class. She was finding that her beautiful wardrobe was falling wayside in lou of exercise clothes. Giles only lived a mile away from campus, but there was little time to keep adjusting her clothes, and her schedule was just as demanding as it looked on paper. She always jogged over knowing he wouldn't deduct the mileage from her run.
He was in his athletic clothes when she arrived. They began their kinetic stretching outside on his patio and began their journey. They ran through the east side of the town and it normally took about an hour. It was easier for Buffy than it was for Giles, but he did well keeping up with her. She set a steady pace and his footsteps echoed behind her. It was as if she could hear every breath of his, she used this to gauge their run based on his ability.
Tomorrow’s run she wouldn't be as kind though because on Friday she had to push herself the whole ten miles and that was hard even with her Slayer strength. After their three miles, he made a protein and carb heavy lunch. She kissed him on his cheek and promised to return after study group later this afternoon for combat training.
By the time Buffy was done stretching, Giles had suited up in layers and layers of padding. “Man Giles, you look like you’re training a K-9 dog today.”
Slipping his helmet on he said, “More like an undomesticated Slayer. Let’s work on your speed.” Then he put in his mouth guard and she rolled her eyes.
She made an assumption; “No holding back?”
He took his stance and took every blow she delivered, only able to block a few as bogged down as he was in his protection. Eventually, they moved on to Sword Fighting and Fencing. Buffy had indeed grown sloppy, where as they used to be equally matched, he now had the upper hand on one of the fiercest warriors. He pinned her against the wall, his blade angled near her neck. “You’re dead.”
Her eyes narrowed, “So are you.”
Looking down, her sword was pointed near his heart. They both lowered their weapons and inched back marginally. Standing on her tiptoes, she kissed him chastely. Plundering her mouth, he pinned her against the wall before retreating, “I’m sorry.”
“Mmm. I liked it Watcher-Mine.”
Holstering their weapons he said seriously, “We must continue with our training uninterrupted.”
“I’m not interrupting. Are you interrupting, Giles?”
He took his glasses off and began to clean them, “Buffy, you know as well as I do that everything we do here is to sharpen your skills. To keep you from making a fatal mistake.
We can’t let our emotions get in the way of that. You are my priority, and I shouldn’t- shouldn't have kissed you.”
“I kissed you first,” she added.
“Yes, and I liked it very much if you couldn't tell.”
“‘Deal’, as you would say. Your safety is more important than anything to me.”
“No more smoochies until date night then?”
Replacing his glasses on the bridge of his nose, he said regretfully, “No. I’m afraid not.”
“Actually, I get it Giles. Buffy Slayer - Giles Watcher -- Life saving training.”
She kissed him on the cheek, needing to get back to her afternoon classes. Buffy understood they needed to have boundaries, especially given the trouble she had found herself in while distracted by Angel and Riley.
The week passed in a blur and she was getting ready for her second date with Giles. She wasn’t as nervous, but Willow wasn’t there because she had already left for her date with Tara. They were getting really close and it made her happy to see Willow in love again. Tara even came to Tuesday Donut Day!
Not knowing where Giles was taking her, she figured she couldn’t go wrong with another black dress. This time, full sleeves with a plunging neckline. Dressed and assessing her outfit in the mirror, she thought she looked good, but something was missing… jewelry! Trying on a few different pieces, she settled on the long rosary-esque one with the cross on it. It settled nicely between her breasts, accentuating the gap.
He was courting her she realized, and at the same time giving her the platform to take charge.
A knocking on the door alerted her to the time. It was Giles dressed in a black button down, black slacks, with no tie and his gold hoop again. “You look lovely,” he told her.
“Thank you. So do you.” She imagined they looked like quite the pair dressed up, ready to hit the town. Grabbing her black leather coat, they headed to his car.
“So where we headed Watcher of Mine?”
“DeGidio's on Main. Is that alright?”
“Will we touring the world with cuisine every time?”
“If you prefer, we can grab a burger at the Jack in the Box,” he said dryly.
Throwing her head back, she laughed honestly. “No, thanks. I’m really enjoying this.”
The little Italian place was a popular place to be on a Friday. Thankfully Giles had the forethought to make a reservation, so they were led to their table when they arrived. The hostess didn’t offer to take her coat, which was a relief because it was weighted down with weapons.
She looked around and saw other couples on dates. She noted the beautiful, mature woman with ample breasts and began to question her choice of clothing.
Giles looked at her curiously and she crossed her hands against her chest. “What’s good to eat here?”
It was a poor time for the server to come and take their order, but they didn’t have a very large menu and he returned quickly with their drinks, leaving them in silence.
“Buffy Darling…” Lifting her chin she saw the candor in his features, “Forgive me for being so brash, but you’re exceptional.”
It didn’t make her smile, “Because I'm the Slayer?”
“Of course not. If for instance, if you were to take away your power at this moment, you will find- that you- You’re determined, resourceful. You’re an excellent strategist.”
She scratched her neck. He continued, “You’re honest, advantageous and a natural leader. Most importantly, you’re kind.”
This wasn't just her Watcher telling her these things, but her handsome date too. It was an odd combination, and she felt the genuineness of his words through the magic.
Feeling a twinge of guilt she looked up to see a distant, cold Giles spacing out thinking of his betrayal on her 18th birthday. “Are you thinking of The Cruciamentum?”
“Undeniably. I’m sorry.”
Reaching out, she pulled his hand in hers, “Don’t be sorry. We’ve moved passed that.” Looking down at his scarred fingers, “We’ve both made mistakes.”
“Let’s get back to you complimenting me. What about my looks? You skipped those.” Her ability to switch modes made him smile.
“Well, one’s worth should not be determined by their beauty. Our society places too much value on attraction, rather than traits…" Her expression was confounded, “I'm guessing my lack of judgement is rather misplaced right now, isn't it?"
He really was the sweetest person she met. “Uh. That's the dorkiest, round about way to say you like someone!”
Casually leaning forward, he told her, “Oh come off it, you're hot.”
This pleased her, "Say it again."
“You're hot. The definition of bloody gorgeous and there's nothing I'd rather be doing other more than-”
She grinned triumphant. “Breaking down our barriers?”
He huffed out, "You cheeky little minx, you."
“So Giles…” she took a sip of her wine feeling confident again, Buffy asked, “How many women have you slept with?”
Completely caught off guard, he swallowed some of his Scotch trying to regain his composure, but also fulfilling his promise to always be honest. “Erm, well more than I can count.”
Buffy was surprised and not at the same time. “You can't even guess?”
Her cleared his throat. "Perhaps thirty or forty if you include the men?”
She almost spit out her drink. “Men?”
Shrugging, “Well, who is to say that love is defined by gender?”
Willow was right, he wasn’t stuffy. “Do you want to include any other species while we’re at it?”
He bit back a laugh. What the hell. “I think a Djinn?” He paused, giving her a lopsided grin, “It was a fuzzy evening. Most orgies are.”
Her mouth was hanging open but she was able to shout his name. “Giles!”
He found it hilarious she was so scandalized. “What? I was 20!”
There food made it to the table. She kept her voice low, “I'm not even 20 and I can't imagine doing any of that stuff.”
He situated his napkin, “Everyone is different and has their own sexual proclivities. If you were to tell me you are strictly interested in men, I wouldn't think any less of you.”
“We're not talking about orientation here. We're talking about sex parties and sleeping with demons.”
He coughed pointedly and stuck his fork in a meatball. She protested, “But that was…
He repeated his sentiment, ”Exactly, everyone, every encounter is different. Generally speaking.”
“I have a lot to learn, don't I?” Her experience was so limited, never even making it past 'cowgirl' in bed.
Needing to clear away any doubt before they ate their meal, he declared, “If it's any consolation, I haven't taken a lover since, since Jenny... and I have a clean bill of health. No STDs.”
She stirred her spaghetti around, “Thanks for telling me. Even if you seem surprised by that last part.”
“Honestly, I am lucky. There is risk engaging in intercourse with a stranger or even some you know.”
Giles was and will probably forever be, Terribly English . It made her chuckle. His eyes lit up in mirth, “You know, most dates aren't as forthcoming as I am.”
Buffy sat a little straighter. “I am totally getting that. But we aren't most people are we?”
“Definitely not. We should toast to that.”
Chapter 5: Dinner Part II- Tea Party
Their date ended at Giles' for tea before her patrol or that was the plan before they found themselves making out on the couch.
From between his legs, she had him pinned down. She ran her hands up his thighs, untucking his shirts and lifting them to expose his bare chest. He was surprisingly furrier and more firm than she anticipated. Sprinkles of grey mixed in with the dark. So manly, and so pliable.
“Buffy,” he hoarsely cried. “Ugh. My sweet warrior… You need to stop.”
“I thought you said I could take my fill,” she nipped on his side.
“That was the plan, but - but this is escalating beyond what we discussed so quickly.” He sat up, pulling down his shirt. “It's only our second date.”
He was deliciously disheveled, “But how am I to know if I want this to go further if I don't see what you're packing?”
She rested her hands against his chest. “Plus, you’ve seen me mostly naked. And I’ve never even seen a guy completely naked.”
“You haven’t? But you’ve - You’ve-”
She was beginning to shy away from him. He reached out and urged her to come closer. “Now isn't the time to be coy. I meant what I said about you being assertive, but we need to talk about some things before they happen. It's what adults do.”
“Yea’ yea, Mr. 30 or 40 partners.”
“No, no. Not when it matters. The matters of the heart. Let me assure you, I'm willing participant. I’m putting myself out here more than I feel comfortable with, because I trust you. So don't shut me out.” He rubbed at his temples trying to make sense of what she had said. “Tell me. How have you never seen a man stripped naked?”
Her shoulders slumped. “I dunno’. ‘On’ me, sure. ‘In’ me, sure.” His dick twitched at that thought and he shook it off.
“Well luv,” he gripped her tight and flipped her on her back with confidence. “I’m sure there are other things you’ve never experienced then.”
Buffy’s green eyes were large and encouraging, “Lots.”
“Hmm,” he leaned over and laid small kisses on her shoulder, leading up her neck to her jaw. He kissed her softly on her cheeks and then booped her nose.
She couldn’t help but smile. “I’m not ready to take this further as of yet, but I have an idea.”
Giles always had good ideas. Mostly good anyway. He got up and left her missing him. “Let me put the kettle on.”
She called out and peered over the back of the couch into the kitchen. “So, are we stopping?”
“No. Yes. Just give me 5 minutes. Can you do that?” He tried to will his arousal away as he turned the stove on.
For the first time, she saw him lock his door. She was suspicious, not of his intent, but of the idea. The kettle whistled and she watched him curiously making them two cups of tea and setting it on the table. He honed in on the magic between them. There was trust and it calmed his nerves.
“I don't want to sound condescending, but there are a few things you should be told, rather than learn the hard way.” He stood between the dining room and living room, completely still.
“Oh yeah? What's that.”
“Believe it or not, the most important things are what not to do naked.” He continued, “Don’t cook naked, especially bacon, and don’t pour tea naked.” He cocked his head remembering one more, “Actually, it's also not a great idea to shower with a cat, but that doesn’t pertain to us tonight.”
A giggle escaped but she was still confused. “What if I meow?"
“Then we can put it on the docket for later.” He tutted at her, “And you’re interrupting again.”
Leaving the couch, she closed the distance between them. “Gee! If I can't interrupt while were training, I'm going to do it on date night”.
The comment held so much promise. She shifted his collar over and sucked on his neck.
Closing his eyes, he immersed himself in the sensation for only a moment before placing his hands on her shoulders, gently pushing her back. “My idea. Do you want to hear it?”
He began unbuttoning his shirt and smirked. “I’m going to take off all of my clothes and have a nice cuppa’ in the Buff.
He waggled his eyebrows. “I’m not ashamed of my body. I don’t hide anything from you, I won't hide from you, and that includes my body.” He put his dress shirt on the chair. “You can keep your clothes on, or you can strip into your panties. Or- or you can join me in nudity. It's completely up to you.”
His hands were a bit shaky as he undid his belt. Pulling it out of the loops in one fell swoop, the air snapped. “We shall have no surprises.”
Giving her another platform, another advantage over him. Fuck, she was falling for him. He was really undressing for her with no expectations. She was completely mesmerized and couldn’t even choke out a noise.
He pulled off his undershirt and laid it on top of his other shirt. Giles was undeniably sexy right now. She didn’t think she had ever been so turned on in her life, but this wasn’t about sex. Bending to remove his socks, his pants slid a little below his hips revealing a happy trail. He asked softly, “Would you like me to continue?”
Gulping, she finally found her voice. “Let's even the playing field.” Even if started this in a light manner, it was weighty now and she wanted to meet him halfway. Step into it with him.
Setting aside her strappy shoes, she gathered the bottom of her dress and shucked it off and her barefeet traveled to the chair to set her dress beside his clothes. She hadn’t worn a bra this evening, so it left her in her black panties alone.
He didn't make a comment but this felt like presenting herself. Ohhh... Just like Giles must feel right now and she felt her cheeks flush. She stood straighter, his Warrior. Her inner slayer was fond of that pet name. He smiled at her and she felt a pulse of pride.
He worked the button on his trouser open and unzipped his fly, the sound clamorous in his quiet apartment. He slid his pants off and tossed them on the chair, falling into a heap on the seat. There were no more layers left, he usually went commando.
Her eyes roamed all over his body, she wanted to avoid looking at his manhood but couldn't help herself. Not knowing if he was half hard or not, he was definitely 'full'.
Following his trail back up his chest, she met his emerald eyes. In that moment she knew he was hers. Slayer and Watcher, partners.
Sliding her fingers in her waist band, she went to went to pull her knickers down, "You don't have to," his voice gravelly.
She sensed his vulnerability. "I want to. What fun is a naked tea party if you don't get naked?”
“Quite right. Except instead of invisible tea, we have invisible clothes.”
All tension was broken by her loud laugh, and a snort. Finding her own confidence. She strode over to the table and sat down, yelping when her backside met the cold chair. She crossed her legs, “I think I need this tea to warm up!”
Taking the seat kitty corner, he flinched as he sat. “Indeed.”
They took sips and their eyes met, laughing out loud at the absurdity of this. Neither of them knew what to talk about. Giles rose to retrieve the sugar, more or less walking around for her. “More sugar?”
“No thanks. I’ll have a little more milk though.” She got up and opened the fridge, and added some more milk to her tea. He watched her stick her back leg out as she bent over. Did she always do that? It was adorable. Replacing the carton she asked, ”So what are you doing tomorrow?
He brushed her side as he went to rinse his mug, “You mean after our training?” She leaned against the counter, cup to her lips, and noted all the scars he had scattered over his body. A few large bruises too, probably her doing. “I don't think much of anything, really. Maybe some reading? What about you? “
She sighed and set her mug down, ticking off the things she needed to do. Her bosoms bouncing as she punctuated every finger. “I have a Bio paper I need to get done. 10 chapters to read for psych for our test on Monday. Like, four 100 word essays about some poems.” Then she remembered, “Dinner at mom’s and then patrol. Do you want to come with me?”
“To which? Patrol or your mother’s?”
Hmmm. “I can certainly join you for patrol, but are you sure your mother wouldn't mind me coming for dinner?”
“Nah, I think she'd be happy for the company.” She handed him her mug and he washed it for her, “I could invite Will and Xander and we can order pizza.”
Adjusting his glasses, he turned to her, “Either is fine. Just talk to her and ring me tomorrow.”
She burst out laughing again.
“What's so funny?” She kept laughing and was trying to restrain herself, but Giles started in too. “How- how domestic we sound!” She slapped his arm lightly, “ Like we’re talking- as if we totally aren’t naked, making plans... Talking about having dinner at my mom’s.”
His smile reached his eyes and he joined her with equal disbelief. He stretched a little bit as he scratched his neck. Giles was even sexier naked than in clothes.
She wanted to know, so she simply asked, “Are you really this comfortable being naked?
“Naked by myself? Yes. Naked with you, having tea? Uh,” he chuckled. “It certainly helps that you are as undressed as me.“
She inhabited his space and pressed herself against him, taking care not to have their genitals touch, something he was incredibly grateful for. Their skin seared against one another, their connection and magic flaring to life. She pulled back and let go. “I should get going, unless you want to shower with a pussy cat?”
He winked at her, “Did you want me to drive you home?“
“Nah. I'll do a quick sweep on the way back.“
She went back to her clothes and looked at the strappy shoes and sighed. Stupid Giles, always criticizing her footwear. She couldn’t walk back to campus in these, let alone patrol. “Okay, Giles. Can you drive me back to the dorm? “
“Of course, luv.” They stood there naked, staring at one another. He broke the silence by stepping into his wrinkled pants.
“I almost don't want to put my clothes back on.” He held out her panties and she snatched them out of his hand, “They seem so confining now.”
“We can always do this again.”
As she slid the dress over her heard, her voice was a little muffled, “Naked tea parties?”
“Why not.” He came up behind her and straightened her dress. He nuzzled her neck, inhaling the traces of her faded perfume. Even though he only had pants on, he felt measurably more comfortable embracing her.
She ground her butt into his groin, “How about something more lickable?”
Pulling her tighter to him, he suggested, “Like strawberries and chocolate?” Feeling her agreement, “I’ll put together a list then.” Planting a final kiss on the back of her neck, he released her and re-dressed to take her back to campus.
Tonight would be their third date, about 4 weeks after they delved back into training. Buffy found that her days passed quickly with the exception of the anticipation of date night. Managing, school, training, patrol and her friendships was okay. It was a big help that Xander, Willow, even Tara came over for pizza last week to her mom's.
She thought her and Giles did a good job not letting anything slip. Especially, because she kept remembering their naked tea party.
Of course Willow had pried all the details about their date because Buffy was looking more and more like a beet every time she avoided a question. At first, she was shocked. Then a little jealous at how cool it was, and overall excited she was dating the 'right' guy. Like her other dates, she had little expectation of what tonight would bring.
With a couple of knocks, Buffy let herself in. Giles had turned to face her in a snug black henley top, and those well fitting khakis. He was a little more dressed down than their previous dates but looking as handsome as ever. He set his mug down and walked over to greet her with a soft kiss on her lips. It wasn’t enough for her and she practically crawled onto him, forcing him to hoist her around his hips. Kissing her madly until he set her on the table to take a deep breath.
Separating himself from her she tried to pull him back between her legs, but instead he ran his hand through his hair. Complaining, she tried to tug him back, but he eluded her again. "But I’m so horny!"
“I am too luv, but when we go to bed for the first time, we're going to make love for hours. Not a quick shag before tacos.“
Swinging her legs off the ledge of the table, "Ooo!" Is that what we’re heading tonight? A Mexican restaurant?”
Giles eye crinkles took their happy place again. “A country beautiful and hot like my date."
Purring, “I’ve already been to Mexico. Why don't we just skip dinner and move on to dessert?”
“Because those are your hormones talking right now. “
She hopped off, her black lace up boots clattered against his hardwood floor. “Who cares, why don't we do what they want so they shut up, so we can have a nice meal.”
Hm. "And thought of ruggedly good looks is going to prove terribly distracting?"
Maintaining eye contact he knelt down before his Slayer. Her heart pounded in her chest. "Yea,'' she murmured. He ran his finger tips up and down her bare legs, admiring how her black leather mini skirt is the perfect length.
His fingers toyed with the elastic band of her panties. "And you just can't survive the evening if I don't take the edge off?" Nodding, he slid her underwear down and she obediently stepped out of them.
Feathered touches trailed all along the back of her thighs until he ran them up to her butt, kneading her ample cheeks apart and back together again. The motion causing her core to grow tighter and tighter. He lifted her skirt a bit and kissed each of her quads before sinking back on his haunches.
Tracing his previous trail, he slowly meandered closer and closer to where she wanted him to touch her. To fuck her.
Taking two fingers, he slid them merrily over her soft mound. Pushing her folds apart slightly, saturating his fingers in her juices. She moaned loudly, "Giles."
“I’ll give you what you need my warrior..” He could never deny her anything. He moved his index finger and pulsed it against her clit and her legs almost gave out, gripping his shoulders tightly, he tried not to wince at her strength.
He began flicking her clit with his thumb with the perfect amount of pressure, inserting the tip of his index finger, dipping it in and out. She was so close to orgasm he could almost taste it.
She met his eyes and he added his middle finger, just deep enough to give her the sensation she needed to push her over the edge. Her legs shuttering against he own weight, she came with a guttural cry.
He guided her to the floor and kissed her deeply, her breathing still uneven. “Holy-”
The magic between them humming melodically. He gave her a moment to come back to reality.
“Better,” she repeated? Her skin was flushed and she was a sight of beauty.
He laughed and helped her up. “Yes. Better than before.”
“Uhh well I don't think there is a better than before,” she smiled at him. “I should go-” she pointed in the direction of the bathroom. “Giles? What about you? I’m sure you have blue balls.”
Blue Balls? Imbecilic American slang. “It will subside. Go.” He waved her off with a smile for good measure. He was afraid that if he adjusted himself, he might come too, but now he had weeks of training with her, trying to urge erections away. He rubbed at his forehead and tried to think of the most vulgar and foul demons. It was working and he felt some of the blood retreat before adjusting himself in his pants.
Buffy returned after a few minutes. “You ready to go then? “
“Hmm? Yes.“ She smiled brightly at him and slid her arm in his.
“Buffy, are you forgetting something?”
He turned them around, nodding his head to her knickers on the coffee table.
“Oh. Well, if I don't put them back on, will we have a repeat of that event?”
In a no-nonsense tone her told her, “If you don’t put them back on, we will not be leaving the house.”
Possessive Giles was hot. She liked possessive Giles. Quickly, she went over and put her panties back on. “Let’s go!”
She had actually eaten at Chubascos a few times. They both ordered margaritas and this time the server did ID her. She reached into her jacket and pulled out her ID handing it over. He did a double take, but gave it back. Giles’ eyes sparkled with amusement. Buffy ordered the same thing she always did and Giles ordered the carne asada bowl.
They cheersed to another night out together.
Looking across the table at her date, still in her post orgasm bliss, she realized in the last month or so that she really didn't know anything about him. As if all the information he shared made her feel like she knew him less and less. Oh, she knew her Watcher, but these dates had been like taking a course in Rupert Giles, The Man. She wanted to get an A+ in the subject and then take the next class.
She started with the basics. “Are your parents back in England?”
“My parents?” This question caught him off guard. “Well, my mother splits her time between England and Belgium with her husband. And, and my father passed away about 15 years ago.”
Unsure of exactly what to say she told him, “I’m sorry about your dad...”
“Me too, luv. He would have enjoyed your spirit.”
“What about your mom. Would she like me?”
He blushed. His mother would very much like Buffy, as it was hard not to like her. “Barring some concerns about our age difference, yes. But it would be pardoned because you are the Slayer.”
His mother knew about Slayers? Giles divulged some of his family history. How his father's death was partly due to council in a roundabout way, but that his mother understands his calling as Watcher and supports him. More so now that he and Buffy both ‘quit’.
Munching on some of the chips that came, “Do you have any siblings?”
His gaze was unfocused, “I have a younger brother named Raymond. He is in England as well.”
“Raymond and Rupert. That’s cute.”
“We haven't spoken in many years. He always believed that our family’s involvement in the council was ‘Hocus Pocus.’”
“Shame on him then. You’re the most incredible Watcher they have ever had.” Giles was at heart a modest man, and Buffy’s loyalty to him was flattering.
“I always wanted to have a sister. Or a brother.” She revised her statement, “Nah, a sister. But only so I could dress her up. Make sure she was cool and do whatever I want.”
He laughed at the thought, she would be a bossy big sister. “Would you ever want to have children?”
This surprised her. “I’ve never thought about it. I mean, ‘hey kid. I gotta go kill some stuff after you go to bed. I’ll be back before dawn.’ Oh wait, I died.” The mood turned a little sour. She was curious, “Why do you ask though?”
“Because you're a young woman and I don't think it's unreasonable for you to have children. You're the first Slayer to go to college and you're doing quite well. I honestly don't believe there is anything you couldn't have if you set your mind to it.”
Her nose scrunched, “What about you? Do you want to have kids?”
“Me? I think that ship has sailed. If I were to have a child next year for instance. I would be in my mid-sixties when he or she graduated from high school.”
“So? Lots of people have old parents.” She pointed to the verde salsa, “Is that hot?”
He shook his head, and pushed it across the table. Responding to her actual question, “And pray tell, who would I be having children with?”
“What about me?” Then he would be in his mid-sixties and her in her mid-thirties. Bloody hell. Though, she said it didn't matter to him and unfortunately, the reality of their situation was that he was more likely to outlive her. It sent a chill down his spine. He couldn't afford to think like that.
“Dear,” he reached out to grab her hand. “I’d love to. But I don't think it's in our cards.” His focus would always be keeping her alive. He would give her his life. Perhaps, she could outlive him. He hoped that would be the case. His life wouldn’t mean anything without her in it. He decided that he wanted to spoil her, now and forever.
She felt a bone deep sorrow and didn’t know if it was hers or his. “I know. I’m sorry,” she said. She got up and switched seats so she could sit next to him.
He patted her leg, grateful for her nearness. “Me too.”
Their server came and left the food with them in their new position. Tostadas were awkward to eat, but she managed not to drop food on herself. “So, I was thinking Watcher-Mine that we don’t spend enough time together.”
Knowing exactly what kind of time he was referring to, he agreed. He had given this some thought as well. Their time training was becoming more and more difficult to keep separate.
They needed to make another adjustment because it was almost too distracting now. Alas, but she was in school and dialing back her training was the second to last thing he wanted to do.
“What if on Wednesdays I spend the night? I mean, we already have dinner and patrol together.” This would have been a bold suggestion if it wasn’t for earlier tonight. Naturally, it would be the next step. “I have school work to do and stuff, but it would be nice.”
He leaned in and kissed her on the cheek. She turned her head just so their lips could meet. “Hm. I’d like that very much.” He kissed her again, just because he could.
He craved her with his whole being.
Part of me thinks this chapter came to an abrupt halt, but I felt like it was complete too. Let me know what you think? It would be helpful!
Chapter 7: The Looking Glass
Buffy let herself into her mother's house. It was warm and inviting, more so now that she moved out. She followed her nose to the kitchen and found her mom in front of the stove with a wooden spoon in her hand. “Hey Mom!"
“Hi Honey. I’m so happy to see you. Dinner is almost ready, would you mind setting the table?”
Taking the plates and glasses down, she found everything she needed for the place setting. Pouring their drinks, she helped her mom carry the chicken, potatoes and rice to the table.
Joyce could sense her daughter wanted to tell her something, but couldn’t fathom what it could be. She waited as they began their supper, but the tension was growing. “Buffy, just spit it out.”
“Whaaatt?” Her mouth hung open, her half chewed chicken falling out of her mouth onto the plate.
Her mom covered her mouth trying to stifle her laugh. “Not your food dear! Whatever it is that you want to tell me. You may be the Slayer, but you're still my daughter.”
Much to Joyce’s chagrin, Buffy looked embarrassed. “My bad.” She moved her spit food to the side and set her fork down. “I’ve, uh, I’ve been seeing someone new.”
How could she be? She has a full schedule. Oh… “Is it Mr.Giles?”
“Eww... Don't call him that.” No denial there .
“You're seeing Rupert then?”
“Don't call him that either! He's just Giles mom.” This was going as poorly as she thought it would.
Her mom didn't seem angry though. Joyce asked, "For how long?"
Buffy couldn't help but smile. “We've been on three dates.” She defended him, “He has been the perfect gentleman before you say anything.”
“I’m sure.” But there was no accusation. “I have to ask though, what changed?”
Buffy realized that her mom was treating her like an adult. That she needed to accurately portray their relationship. This is important to her, to Giles, and her relationship with her mother.
“Last month, I got hurt pretty badly.” Joyce’s face was full of concern but made no motion to cut in. “It was my fault because I allowed myself to become distracted. Not just that night, but since I started school. I wasn’t keeping up with my training, and if I need to be out there every night, it’s not acceptable.” Joyce heard Giles’ words when Buffy said that.
“Even with Riley being a commando, and knowing what I do, he just didn’t understand what I am. What I need to do. How I don’t have a choice. It’s a compulsion, to hunt. I’m a supernatural magnet, there isn’t an escape for me.” The corners of her mouth down turned, speaking her truth wasn’t always easy.
“But I really broke up with him because he couldn't bear me being stronger than him. And that's basically what we were fighting about when I got hurt.”
Joyce was patient and eager to hear the rest of her story. “I hadn't seen Giles in months. And when I had Riley take me there - to Giles’, everything snapped into place.” Buffy took a sip of water. “He never judges me, he gives me options, sets me up for success… And I’m stronger with him. I thought, ‘He is the type of man I want to be with.’ But it turned out... That he is the man I want to be with.”
“Thank you for telling me.” Joyce thought carefully about her words, “It’s been hard for me to see you grow into the young woman that you have. You have done a wonderful job balancing your… Calling with college life. I’m very proud of you.”
Buffy was hesitant to ask, given how understanding her mom seemed to be, “Do you have a problem with me being with him?”
“No sweetie. There are no guarantees in life and it’s taken me a long time to realize that you will never be ‘typical’. You deserve a man that loves you beyond himself.”
“Wow. I wasn't really expecting that.”
“Would you like me to play devil’s advocate? Tell you that the age gap is too large?"
“No. It's actually going pretty well.”
“I have no problem with his age and yours. It’s not typical but I’m old enough to know that sometimes love isn't conventional. Honestly, I’m just more surprised that he doesn't have a problem with it.”
Buffy poured some more gravy on her potatoes. “Well, I think he is having a hard time with it.”
“Because Rupert is a good man. There are moral implications of being… involved with someone half your age. I understand that it isnt about,” uhem, “sex, but that is unfortunately what people will see. It’s what I saw when you were younger and I was ...and I was wrong.”
Her voice rose an octave, “You were wrong?”
“If I could offer a little advice,” still reeling from her mother’s admission to interject, “It’s that you remember that his feelings are just as valid as yours are. You are the light of his life. Just be sure he is yours before you get too serious. I don’t think that man could live on if he loses you,” she said sympathetically.
“Mom are you feeling okay? Do you need to go to the Doctor?”
“Buffy, I’m fine. I just came from the doctor.” The implication hanging in the air.
“Why were you there?”
There goes dinner Joyce thought.
“I’ve been having headaches. I had a little scare but the scans were clean. I’ve had some time to think about what’s important in life. And if you’re happy, I’m happy.”
Instead of being relieved, she was slapped her hand against the table. “Why didn't you tell me?”
Joyce set her silverware down and a stern look came across her face, “Buffy, you have a lot on your plate right now. And quite frankly, I didn’t want to bring it up unless I needed to. But I can assure you, everything is fine.” Buffy still wasn’t happy and her mom could tell but she was just as stubborn as her daughter, “Is that a good enough answer for you?”
“No,” she whined. “But I can accept it.” Both of them picked at the rest of their meal.
The next morning Buffy met Giles in town for coffee at the Strewn Bean. It was a beautiful California morning with blue skies and not a cloud in the sky.
Exiting the shop with tea and a macchiato, they were barely on the sidewalk when they bumped into Riley. They had seen one another in class, but they barely spoke. “Buffy, Giles,” he greeted them. He looked down to see their hands entwined. His face twisted, “What’s this?”
Having no reason to hide, she told him the truth. “We’re dating.”
Looking between the two he was trying to process what she said. He repeated, “You’re dating?” There was an uncomfortable pause. Giles remained quiet as this was something that Buffy needed to lead. “But he’s… twice your age, Buffy.”
“Uh-uh. We are sooo not doing this.” She let go of Giles’ hand and began to walk away.
“No, I want an explanation.” A warm hand connected with her bare skin to slow her down. She spun on her heels. He was facing a pissed off Buffy right now, but he forged ahead. “Did you break up with me to be with him?”
She saw the ache in his eyes, “Riley, no. This is new.”
The hurt morphed into anger. “Please explain to me how an adult that has known you since you’re in highschool has now just developed feelings for you. That’s not ok! That’s textbook Grooming!”
Giles was gobsmacked and Buffy didn’t know what he was talking about. She looked around and noticed a few people turning to look at their outburst. Giles found his voice, “I beg your pardon!” Furious at the accusation, “I have done so such thing!”
With her jaw clenched and her voice dangerous she said, “Riley, you need to leave.”
“You know Buffy, you always tell me to leave you when you’re with Giles. But that’s exactly the problem. You can’t see what he has done to you.” Riley’s face was becoming more and more red. “He is hiding behind YOU, like predators do.” Jabbing his finger in the air, “Only most victims don’t have the ability to break bones with the flick of their wrist.” He turned around and stormed down the street leaving people staring at them.
Giles was visibly shaken and threw his tea in the trash and began walking the opposite direction.
She didn’t understand. She was groomed, she has been an active participant in her grooming as the Slayer. She didn't understand what he meant and why the negative connotation.
“Giles!” She called out and ran after him. “Giles, please look at me.” He turned towards her with a horrified expression. “I must go. I’ll call you later.”
But later never came.
It had been a total of eight hours and Giles had never called her. With every passing hour, she was getting herself more worked up. Finally, unable to take it any longer, Buffy made her way to Giles’ apartment and knocked on his front door.
When there was no answer, she turned the knob and found it was locked. This was definitely bad. Not wanting to break his door down just yet, she checked for nosy neighbors before trying his windows, which were also secure.
She knew the stairway window was always open as it was a pain to close on a good day. Taking another glance around, she sprinted and scaled the side of the stucco building with ease. However, with less grace, she fell onto the stairs before stumbling to the landing.
Startling Giles out of his drunkenness, “My heavens!”
Following his voice, she spotted him sitting on one of the hardwood chairs in the middle of the room with only the kitchen light illuminating the apartment. He didn’t even bother to stand. She swept her hair aside, “Giles, you old fool!”
His head was lowered as he felt her approach. “Buffy, he sighed. “I told you I would call you.”
“That was hours ago. Many hours!” she exclaimed. Taking in his appearance, she couldn’t recall him looking so dejected.
“And it hasn't been long enough,” he took a swig, clearly inebriated.
Stomping towards him, “No. You’ve had enough,” she swiped his drink and drained it in the sink.
He almost stood, but fell back on his rump, at least staying in the chair. “That was good Scotch!”
“Who cares.” Making her way back to the living space, she turned one of the lamps and his eyes squinted against the brightness of it.
He protested, “I do!”
“Oh, you care about your Scotch, but not about your Slayer? I call bull.”
“You can't understand.”
Try me,” she sneered.
He looked at her with desperate eyes. “Please, just leave me be. I’m an old man that’s taken advantage of a beautiful young woman.” His slumped over and put his head in his hands.
“Is this about what Riley said?” His groan was an affirmative.
“You're right, I don’t understand. I have been groomed and I like it," she said petulantly.
He lifted his head, but looked no higher than her feet. His gaze held so much sadness and a dash of pity, “You’re such a peach …”
“No, I’m not a peach! I’m the friggin’ Slayer. So please explain it to me!”
“Ughhh. Come back another time.”
“No! You don’t get to do this to me. You tell me now. YOU of all people can't abandon me!”
The self loathing was verbalized and the alcohol fueled it, “AND ISN'T THAT THE PROBLEM. I’ve made you dependent on me. I’ve- I’ve gained your complete and unquestioning trust. I’ve isolated you from those of your youth… I’ve allowed our relationship to become sexual. I’m a- I’m a bastard!” He smacked his head hard with his fist and she heard his teeth clatter.
The totality of ‘grooming’ smacking her upside the back of her head, understanding what Riley was accusing Giles’ of. Realizing shouting wasn’t going to get them anywhere, she took a deep breath and called upon the magic between them. When she first connected, her heart almost shattered from his anguish.
Kneeling before him, she placed her palms on his legs and he recoiled. Using her Slayer prerogative, she gripped the spot above his knee caps. He was stiff, but he wasn’t moving. Urging him to believe her, “You’ve made me better. You’ve kept me alive.
You wanted me to be assertive? This is me being assertive.” Searching her face, he raised his lips, saying nothing. Buffy honed on the magic and shoved all of her love and gratitude towards this beautiful man. “You can’t doubt me. You can’t take away my choices too. I want you. I love you. I’ll fight for you.”
Finally acknowledging her, a tear tumbled down his cheek. “You didn’t groom me in the way he meant but that's his problem, not ours.”
Her words were finally cutting through, “You’re the only man for me. And not just because you’re my Watcher. You are brave and smart. You’re sarcastic,” she quipped, “But a funny sarcastic. You’re handsome and wild.” He was loosening beneath her touch. “You’ve got a great butt too.”
“Buffy,” another tear slipped before he could blink it back.
Wiping it away like it never occurred, she moved to rub his chin. “You are the other half to me and you know it's true.” He nodded despite how he felt. “It’s me and you battling against evil. We’re a pair.”
Giles’ eyes anchored on her. It had been decades since he has felt this out of control. He hungered for her to absolve him of his sins, unfair as it is. His love for her would always be true and Buffy returned it, freely and wasn’t that the struggle of it. He implored, “I would never, never coerce you.”
"I know you wouldn't." Pressing on his thighs, she attempted to bring him back to the physical world. "Mom even gave us her blessing yesterday."
He hiccuped, "Joyce Summers?"
“Yup. Said you were a good man, but that some people can’t see past the moral implications but that she does.”
Huh. "Is she Okay?"
She chuckled, “That's what I asked too. She’s fine by the way. Had a health scare and said she knows what's important now.” His eyes were drooping, Buffy knew how emotionally exhausted he must be. She tugged on his legs, “Rupert Ripper Giles, stop being such a wanker and come back to me.”
“My middle name is Edmund,” he said softly. She stood up and kissed him on his forehead. Taking his hands, she steadied him on his feet and they swaggered up to the loft. She plopped him on the edge of the bed, first removing his glasses, then his ill-fitting sweater. She undid his boots and set them aside. Giles was going to be hurting tomorrow, but she knew deep down they would be okay. The Slayer and her Watcher.
Hooray! Only one chapter to go! The next chapter might take me a few days to finish, but it will be a nice long chapter. I do plan on turning this into a series. Even if I don't, I do have the intermission fluff piece written.
For some reason, my posts have an additional space between lines. Should I edit them out? Any opinion on how it reads? Personally, I can go either way. Thank you guys for the kind words as I update as well! I means a lot to me :)