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Something Old, Something New

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Buffy had walked out a while ago and Willow found herself complaining aloud to Amy the rat. It was a one way conversation but at least she could pretend the other witch agreed with her. 

“It’s just not fair. Everyone is just going around like nothing has changed when my whole world is in pieces.” Willow sniffled, clutching her pillow to her chest. 

“I needed a friend tonight but Buffy has to head over there, instead. To start interrogating Spike with Giles. She’s always finding reasons to go over there.  Even before Spike. I mean, she’s my roommate but I know she keeps a drawer of clothes and everything at his place. She may as well have moved in with Giles,” she huffed. 

“If she likes it there so much, she and Giles should just fall in love and get married already.” Willow frowned down at her pillow, oblivious to the spark of magic in her red-rimmed eyes. 

***

A few miles away, Spike was tied to a chair just a little too tight to be comfortably kinky. He’d been mid-bicker with the Slayer when she’d just...stopped. A look of surprise had washed over her, followed by a flush of deep pink. Spike could nearly smell the surge of blood and adrenaline. It made him squirm in his seat. Buffy turned away from him and walked confidently into the kitchen, where Giles was making tea or something (he assumed). 

“Giles,” Buffy breathed, her heart pounding in her ears over the sudden realization she’d had. Her face was hot and her palms damp but she knew what she had to say. It was a truth so real and potent, she could no longer ignore it. Even her irritation with Spike moments before was a mere echo in her memory. Giles was here and so solid and real, standing so tall and broad shouldered in front of her. God, had she really never noticed those shoulders before? 

Giles turned away from the small charcuterie tray he’d been arranging to face his Slayer. His hands shook and he hid them in his pockets. “Buffy,” he murmured her name like a prayer. 

For a moment, neither of them moved. 

“Don’t suppose you could microwave some O pos while you’re in there?” Spike shouted from the living room. 

They ignored him, eyes locked on one another. Buffy was the one to close the gap between them. She slid both hands up his chest, leaning in on tip-toe to link them behind his neck. 

“I… I love you, you know.” 

Giles inhaled sharply. He had only recently begun to realize his more complex feelings for the diminutive blonde. It was odd that they should both have such a moment of absolute clarity, here and now. When nothing of particular importance was happening beyond the babysitting of a local fiend. Then again, didn’t the extraordinary always arise from the most unexpected, unassuming places?

Her hands were overly warm on him and he felt branded by her touch. He wouldn’t have it any other way - Buffy already owned his heart and mind, why shouldn’t the body follow? Tilting his head down, he pressed his forehead to hers. “Say it again,” he whispered, still half-mindful of the nearby demon with excellent hearing. 

Buffy nudged his nose with hers, her lips a breath away. “I. Love. You.” She kissed him then, softly, sipping gently from his eager lips and pressing her body closer to his. 

Giles deepened the kiss only slightly, not wanting to carry things too far when there was always the chance of a stray Scoobie strolling in. Buffy’s tongue flicked against his bottom lip and he felt his body beginning to respond. Grasping her firmly by the shoulders, he pulled them apart. 

Buffy made a little sound of protest. She didn’t appreciate the loss of contact one bit, not now that she’d finally tasted him. Some tiny, hidden part of her had wondered more than once if he would kiss the way he fought - with an intensity and ferocity that he hid away the rest of the time behind tweed and wool. 

She pouted up at him. “What’s the big idea?” 

Giles cleared his throat. He needed to tell her this wasn’t appropriate. He’d known that even as he longed for it, even as he gave into it so self indulgently. He’d known it before now, as he neatly tucked away recollections of vivid dreams that left him hard and aching. His love for her had morphed into something untenable over the last year. Unsustainable for a Slayer and her (former) Watcher and most unsavory for a man of his years and a young woman of hers.

“We can’t do this,” he managed, at last, forcing himself to drop his hands and back away. It felt utterly wrong to say the words, like he was fighting some imperative command within. “It’s… it’s impossible.” 

“Oh for fuck’s sake,” Spike called out. “First bit of skirt you’ll have had in decades and you’re gonna turn it down? Great bloody wuss, you are.”  

“Shut up, Spike,” Buffy called over her shoulder without turning. 

“Why? So that self righteous hump can keep trying to pretend he hasn’t had his eyes on your arse like it’s gonna tell him the goddamn secrets of the universe?” Spike added fuel to the flame, hoping to keep them distracted while he wiggled the ropes loose. 

Giles flushed red to his hairline. “Shut. Up. Spike.” he ground out between clenched teeth. 

This time Buffy grinned. “Checking me out, huh?”

His stomach knotting itself, Giles could neither confirm or deny. He thought he’d been subtle about his perusal of Buffy’s fit frame but apparently even the likes of Spike saw through his ruse. “You’re a beautiful young woman,” he admitted. 

“So, you have noticed.” Buffy was gleefully smug. “You know, it doesn’t have to be impossible. In fact there’s, uh, a lot of possibility here.” Her eyes dragged over his body as though noticing it for the first time. She knew the strength those loose layers concealed, the scars she’d seen in glimpses when they tended to shallower wounds, the warmth of his flesh. It hadn’t escaped her notice that another part of that flesh had begun to stir when she kissed him. 

The next idea popped into her head as though it had always been there. “We could even make it official.” 

“Official?” Giles parroted, blinking rapidly. “You mean?” 

“It makes sense, right? You, me, a church chapel? Flowers and doves and rice being thrown…” She twirled a lock of hair around her finger, the fantasy wedding already taking shape in her mind’s eye. 

“Are you saying...?” Giles felt the burden of his impropriety lift. It would be alright if they were married, something in his mind told him. There was a momentary flicker of doubt but it was snuffed out quickly as the joy of a life with his Slayer permeated. It did make sense, didn’t it? 

“Well?” Buffy tilted her head to the side. He had to do the asking, after all. She could drop the heavy hints, sure. But the man did the asking. She was a traditional gal like that. 

Giles felt himself dropping to one knee, almost as though his body knew what action to take before his brain could keep up. He wrenched the signet ring from his pinky, biting back a yelp of pain as he nearly dislocated the joint. Holding the ring aloft, heart in his throat, he asked the words he never thought he’d say aloud. “Buffy Summers, will you marry me?” 

Spike nearly put a crick in his neck as his head swerved toward the kitchen. “What in the everloving fuck?” 

Buffy’s eyes shone, her heart feeling full to bursting at the realization that she knew exactly what to say next. “Of course I will!” 

“Oh, you have got to be joking,” Spike groaned. “Are you two under some sort of spell?” 

“Shut up, Spike,” they said in unison before joining in a breathless kiss. 

***

Giles couldn’t remember a time when he’d felt this happy. In one hand, he cradled a well brewed cup of tea and in the other, he toyed idly with the hemline of Buffy’s shirt as she leaned against him on the sofa. Occasionally, he’d allow his thumb to skim along the skin above her trousers and she’d giggle. The sound was intoxicating and he found himself picturing a dozen other ways he could produce it - many of them turning giggles into throaty moans before he was done. He kept his legs discreetly crossed as his mind wandered. There was still a vampire in the room, after all. 

Buffy, for her part, was enjoying such a warm and delightful snuggle with her man that flipping through dusty books felt almost like fun. Her beloved Watcher - and soon to be husband! - had suggested research on additional truth spells that might work best on vampires. It wasn’t the most perfect way to spend an afternoon but it did come with bonus cuddles. Every now and again, she’d feel Giles’s hand start to wander and she’d contemplate knocking out Spike so the two of them could have some additional privacy. They could chain him up in the bathroom again but that just made for too many awkward moments during calls of nature. 

“Oh look, this one says it can be used on necromancy victims… that’s kinda undead, right?” She lifted her head to look at him, pushing the book closer. 

Giles leaned toward the page, skimming. “Mm, it’s a good effort but it requires fresh dirt from the victim’s grave.” He planted a conciliatory kiss on her temple.

“Good luck with that,” Spike grumbled. The ropes had been quickly re-tightened after the “love birds” emerged from the kitchen. He hadn’t loosened them enough to run off but he had managed to chafe himself but good. Adding insult to literal injury, Slayer and Watcher were all smiles, practically snogging on the couch while they looked up ways to further violate his mind.

“You could always just tell us what we wanna know,” Buffy supplied, matter-of-factly. “So we could all get our weekend back. Maybe get to do…. other things.” She ran a fingertip down Giles’s face. 

“Yeah, well excuse me for not wanting to end up as dust so you two can play Hot for Teacher, Slayer edition,” Spike snapped back. His back was to them now, which was a small mercy. But with heightened senses like his, he didn’t need eyes to know his remark had gone unnoticed. 

Giles put down his teacup, pulling Buffy’s fingers to his mouth and brushing little nibbling kisses to the tip of each one. “There will be time for that. Soon enough,” he assured her, his voice low and ripe with promise. 

Buffy shivered pleasantly at the unfamiliar timbre and the way it seemed to curl itself right into her core. She kissed him, impulsively, open mouthed and yearning. He only responded for a moment, meeting her tongue with his and suckling her bottom lip before pulling away with notable reluctance. 

His eyes flicked to Spike and he swallowed. In relationships he was not always the most publicly affectionate but he enjoyed letting his lover take the lead in more ways than one. And Buffy responded so deliciously to every little caress… it was hard not to get carried away. Difficult. Not hard. Difficult. Alright maybe a bit of both. He shifted in his seat once more. 

Buffy noted the direction of his wary glance and sighed her acceptance, settling back under the crook of his arm and turning a few more pages. Her mind wasn’t really on the research - not that it ever was but today especially. She had a wedding to plan! They would need to tell Willow and Xander, of course. There might be a little hesitation but they were all family. It would work out. 

She would also need to have a serious conversation with her mother. That thought filled her belly with a cold kind of dread. It was galling enough to recall that Giles and her mother had… history. Very gross, magically induced, totally icky history that even before falling in love with Giles, she’d tried to shut out of her memory. Her nose wrinkled reflexively as she realized it hadn’t even been that long ago. 

Giles felt Buffy go tense against him and ducked his head to see her face. A look of revulsion greeted him and for half a breath, he was desperately concerned that she’d come to her senses and decided to call off the wedding. “What is it?”

Buffy grit her teeth and sat up to face him. It meant losing the shelter of his arms temporarily but it made her feel more adult. “We, uh. We’re gonna need to tell my mother.” 

Giles pushed his glasses up his nose. “Well, yes. Traditionally, I suppose I ought to talk to your father first but since he can be…” he searched for a neutral term that did not disclose his less than kind-hearted feelings toward Hank Summers, “elusive, I imagine asking your mother would be… Oh fuck.” Memory was a punch to the gut. Fuck indeed. And he had. Twice. 

Admittedly, it had all been drug induced and not a reflection of his real life desires at the time at all. Although some part of him wondered if he’d been projecting a subconscious attraction to Buffy even then, with his inhibitions so lowered. The thought was not comforting and made him feel incredibly perverse. Not at all in the fun way. 

He removed his glasses to begin the Cleaning Ritual of Anxiety. “Yes. That is. Ehm. Hm. It’s a complication.” 

“Ya’ think?” Buffy grimaced. 

They stared at one another helplessly for a moment. 

“You don’t still think of her like that, do you?” Buffy blurted out, as Giles also spoke.

“It’s all very vague now of course and it didn’t mean- Hm?” He stopped himself mid sentence when he noticed she was speaking, as well. 

“You don’t ever think of her, you know, like that?” Buffy repeated. 

“No! Not for a moment. She’s a lovely woman - erm, person - and we’ve managed to come to a workable truce over the years but… no. That, ahem, night was entirely about the candy. I swear it.” He made the sign of a cross over his heart with his forefinger.

“Ok.” Buffy looked down at her lap, her hands twining together. “I guess that makes it less weird. By like, a tiny bit.”

Giles placed his hand over both of hers, feeling the nervous energy she radiated through those twitchy fingers. “What can I do to assure you, Buffy?” 

“Got a time machine hidden around here?” She offered him a crooked half-smile.

He smiled gently back. “We cannot change the past - regretful though we may be. We can only move forward. Look to the future.” He cupped her cheek. “You are all the future I could possibly want. And more.” 

It was everything a girl could hope to hear from the man with whom her life was already uniquely interwoven. A man she’d already loved and trusted more than anyone, even before this new kind of love had nudged its way into her heart. 

Buffy melted against Giles as Spike made gagging sounds. Absentmindedly and without looking, Buffy chucked a pillow at the vampire. It bounced neatly off his head to land on the floor. 

“Watch the damn hair,” Spike growled. “Humbert Humbert already owes me a new pomade.” 

A muscle in Giles’s jaw twitched and he whipped his head toward the vampire. His voice was hard and dangerous when he spoke again. “Careful, Spike. There are limits to even my seemingly infinite patience with you.” 

Spike snorted. “Yeah well maybe I’d rather be staked than listen to you two bloody ninnies yammer out any more sweet nothings. Just shag and get it out of your systems, already. It’ll be even funnier when this damn spell wears off.” 

Buffy wrapped both strong hands around Giles’s upper arm. “We are waiting for the wedding night, thank you,” she answered primly. She turned wide eyes on Giles. “We are, right? Waiting for the wedding night? I mean,” she slid a hand up his arm and across his clavicle to toy with the neckline of his jumper, “we don’t have to. It’s not like I’m, you know.” She blushed. 

“Oh good Lord.” Giles turned away and coughed into his fist to avoid making some other, far more embarrassing, sound. “Uh, I’m perfectly fine with standing on tradition, if, ahem, if that’s what you want.”

Buffy took a moment to think it over. Certain parts of her anatomy were very much in the “not waiting” camp. Seeing Giles with another woman all those weeks ago had undone something in her that she’d been keeping clamped down tight behind a wall of serious denial. She had hated seeing him so loose-limbed and sensual, all cozy at home with some unknown older British lady. Someone with a maturity and life experience even Buffy’s formidable skillset could not begin to match. It had felt wrong, wrong, wrong, to think of her Watcher like that. Like a man instead of a demon-fighting, factoid-spewing automaton. Until today, she hadn’t been willing to give that feeling a name at all. Now, however, it felt so much like right

But there was something to be said for the quaint formality of making a first time really special. Her own first had been… well, disastrous wasn’t really a strong enough word for it. At least the morning after had. If they were already married, then maybe she wouldn’t have to struggle so much with the devastating fear of an Angelus or even a Parker. 

“I do hear that good things are worth waiting for,” she reasoned aloud. 

Giles was both relieved and disappointed that they’d reached the same conclusion - though perhaps through very different reasoning. The part of him that wasn’t feeling like a lovesick sap was very cognizant of exactly how all of this might look from the outside. A marriage certificate might be only paper but as far as he was concerned, it provided at least a patina of propriety. They would still have some work ahead of them to gain acceptance among their loved ones. 

“Right. Then it’s agreed.” He nuzzled the hair just by her ear and added in a whisper, “and I shall endeavor to make it fully worth the wait.” Buffy responded with one of those sweet little noises he’d found instantly addicting. 

***

“I mean, I’m going through something,” Willow paced Xander’s basement bedroom, a damp tissue clutched in one hand. She’d walked over shortly after Buffy left for Giles’s apartment. Yet again. Being alone with her misery was too big, too painful. She’d tried the drunk way and only felt ridiculous in casting that “will be done” spell that clearly fizzled. 

At least Xander was home and willing to listen. Even if he did keep trying to argue about how Buffy and Giles needed to be all interrogate-y right now. 

“Look, Spike is our only lead about the Commandos,” Xander reasoned in a mild tone. 

His calmness only aggravated Willow further and she scowled at him. “Right, so he’s more important than me being in need. I don’t see why! I mean,” she turned away and paced back toward the wall, “come on, Spike isn't going anywhere. 

Again, without her knowledge, her eyes flashed bright in the poorly lit basement. But the light was gone by the time she was walking again toward Xander. 

Xander clutched at straws as Willow seemed determined to see nothing but the negative. How had this become his responsibility? He didn’t know the first damn thing about helping a girl mend a broken heart. He’d done a piss poor job with his own in the past. He pulled out every cliché he could think of, trying to find a way to give Willow some light at the end of her Oz-created tunnel. And okay, that sounded kinda dirty. 

“We’re not doomed,” he insisted. But Willow wasn’t hearing it. In fact she had to go and make it extra personal. Things deteriorated quickly after she called him a demon magnet and she left still in a snit. 

***

Buffy had excused herself to the bathroom to freshen up before going out on patrol, leaving just Giles and their unwanted guest. 

“So, you and Mama Slayer, huh?” Spike turned his head as far as it would go to side eye the former Watcher. After some very careful maneuvering, he’d managed to create a little slack in the ropes again. With Buffy in the shower, all he needed to do was distract the old man. 

“That is absolutely none of your business,” Giles snapped, his lips going thin and tight as points of color appeared high in his cheeks. 

“Can’t help but make it my business when you two forget your houseguest has working ears,” Spike shrugged, feeling the ropes shift with him. “Think Joyce’ll give her daughter pointers on how to hit your sweet spots?”

Giles felt his hands curl into fists, his jaw clenching. If Buffy didn’t kill Spike after they got the necessary information out of him, he’d gladly volunteer. Honestly, if this was what it was like to live with the vampire, it was a wonder Angelus hadn’t finished him off ages ago. It was enough to drive any sane man to drink - and after 4 years on a Hellmouth, Giles was none too sure about that sanity bit. 

“There is no need to be vulgar,” he admonished through gritted teeth.

“Me? You’re the one playing musical chairs at the Summers’ family dinner.” Spike laughed deep from his belly. “God this is better than the soaps. More like a Greek tragedy, you two. I hope you both get torn apart by lions.” 

Giles stood up quickly, fighting the urge to propel the nearest pointy object toward the bound vampire. He took a deep breath. Not worth it. Spike liked to push buttons and today Giles just happened to have a few too many on display. 

“Actually the Romans were more likely to use Lions.” He rounded the couch and stood in front of Spike. “Now, one more word out of you about the matter earns a gag.” He leaned forward, uncomfortably into Spike’s space and offered a smile like a knife. “And you don’t need to breathe so I can get creative.” 

Spike snapped his mouth shut, glaring daggers up at the other man. Clearing his throat, he tried a different tack. “Yeah, alright. A fella just gets tetchy when he’s not fed regular, y’know? It’s been since yesterday. That’s got to be against some sort of prisoner code of conduct, innit?” 

Giles straightened up and eyed Spike warily. “Fine. I’ll microwave some blood and see if we have any straws left.” 

“You’re a real prince among men,” Spike drawled. 

Rolling his eyes, Giles headed to the kitchen. 

Now was the opportunity he’d needed. Tensing and contracting every muscle he could, Spike let gravity do the rest of the work, yanking himself free of the ropes. Before the Watcher could notice, Spike had made his way to the door and flung it open and —

And then he couldn’t exit. He strained to move but he could only lean toward the open door, not even through.  

Swearing loudly, he whirled back toward Giles, fists balled at his sides. “Did you spell the bloody door?” 

Giles, for his part, looked as incredulous as Spike felt. He’d come out of the kitchen, emergency stake in hand, as soon as he heard movement. But Spike’s feet seemed stuck firmly to the floor, just at the edge of the doorway. 

“There are wards, of course,” Giles replied peevishly. “But those are to keep evil things out not in. I’m not an idiot and I have no desire to keep you in my home any longer than is absolutely necessary.” He raised a hand in front of himself and waved it through the air slowly, sensing for any frisson of nearby magic. Walking slowly to the door, he pushed Spike out of the way. Giles was able to step in and out of the doorway with no difficulty. 

Spike stumbled back, too confused to even puff himself up over the shove. His eyes fell on the window, partly open but screened in. When God closes a door, he thought with some hint of irony. Reeling back, he prepared himself to take a run at the window. Until Giles barreled into him from the side. They both fell against the wall, Spike’s body cushioning Giles’s fall and a few objects crashing to the floor around them. 

“Goddamit!” Spike shoved Giles off of him, his head panging right after since he’d done it with enough force to send the other man rolling. 

Giles, shielding his face with his forearms, felt his shoulder jam against the floor as he skidded to a stop. 

“What the hell.” 

Both men looked up to see Buffy wrapped in a robe that was clearly far too big for her, her hair dripping onto its velvet collar. 

Spike swallowed and looked away quickly as he righted himself. 

Momentarily distracted by the sight of Buffy in his bathrobe, Giles found his injured shoulder forgotten as he came to his feet. God, she looked so perfectly at home, here. He kept a drawer of clothing for her, usually for emergencies only, and she could have grabbed any number of items from it. Instead she was enveloped in something of his, covering her nude body with the same fabric he’d worn just this morning. It made his heart do a little gymnastic routine that he’d never ever mention aloud, even under threat of torture. 

“Your Watcher’s gone feral, that’s what.” Spike gestured toward Giles. 

“You were trying to jump out my bloody window!” 

Buffy glanced back and forth between them, her brow creasing. It was bad enough that demons destroyed her mother’s house every other week but Giles seemed to be getting in on the trend now, too. “There’s a door. Right there.” She pointed. “In fact, it’s open.” She looked at Giles. “Why is it open? With an untied hostage, no less?”

Ignoring the second question because it was too embarrassing to answer that he’d clearly fallen for a ruse to distract him, Giles focused on the former question. “It seems… Spike can’t leave.” 

“Well, I know our hospitality has been unparalleled but, um, why?” 

Spike huffed a sound that wasn’t quite a laugh. “Isn’t that the question of the hour? I’m guessing a spell. Like whatever’s got you two trying to tie the knot five minutes after finally admitting how you bloody feel.” 

Buffy looked thoughtful. “I could try staking him and sweeping out the dust.” 

“No, I don’t want to risk the dust getting stuck in my doorframe for God knows how long.” Giles stepped closer and grinned at her. Spike might be a wanker of the most bothersome variety but he had reminded them both of their recent joy. 

Buffy giggled and slipped her arm around his lower back, leaning her head into his chest. 

“Oi, gelded informant still standing right here. Bad enough I can’t even defend myself proper.” Spike straightened his shirt by the lapels and rolled his shoulders. “Undignified, that’s what this is. If I’m gonna go out, rather do it with my teeth buried in a slayer. Not watching her flirt with her bloody cradle-robbing librarian.” 

Giles glared again, his face heating. He couldn’t really argue the point seeing as how he’d been accusing himself of the very same from the first time he noticed his admiration for his Slayer tripping into the realm of the romantic (even sometimes libidinous, if he was in his cups far enough to admit it). 

Buffy detached from her fiancé's side and sauntered up to Spike, hands at her hips. “How old are you now, Spike? 100? 150?” 

Spike sniffed loudly, mouth twisting, but he didn’t answer. 

She stepped just into his space, straight backed and predatory. “Did you know your last girlfriend was in my high school graduating class?” Without looking back at him, she called to Giles. “Hey, isn’t there a word for that?” 

Pressing his lips down around a very smug smile, Giles airily supplied the word, “Hypocritical?” 

“Sounds about right,” Buffy raised her eyebrows pointedly. 

Spike scoffed and held his hand up, palm facing the Slayer. “Try talking to someone who didn’t leave his morality in the 19th century, luv.” He turned away, lowering his hand in a dismissive gesture. “So,” he sucked air through his front teeth, “magic gone awry. Again. This town does love a theme....”

Back to business, Buffy looked at Giles. “We thinking Willow?” 

Giles bobbed his head from side to side before nodding. “She does seem the most likely source.” The last time he’d seen the redhead, she’d been a bit of a mess.  

“Maybe she felt bad for flaking on the truth spell and cast some sort of...binding? On Spike?” Buffy shrugged. “I’ll call her once I get dressed.”

She disappeared into the bathroom a few moments, pulling on some of the soft, comfy clothes she kept at Giles’s place. They’d never even really talked about him keeping her things there, he’d just opened a drawer and offered it up. That had been that. Kind of like their engagement today. It was just an absolute fact that they belonged together. 

It felt like she’d known it before in some undefinable way but there’d been too much doubt and uncertainty. It was such a relief to know for sure that he felt the same. She smiled brightly at her reflection. 

“Mrs. Buffy Giles. Hm. Maybe I’ll keep my name. He can deal.” With a cheeky wink, she headed back to the living area to call her poor, confused friend. Maybe their happy news would even cheer Willow up...

Halfway across the living room, Buffy froze in her tracks as a loud scuffling sound outside turned to a full on cacophony and suddenly Xander and Anya were running through the open door, two demons hot on their heels.

“Help!” Xander shouted, maybe unnecessarily since it was pretty obvious what was needed. He was a little too frazzled to think about that, though. He and An had been fighting for their lives for at least half an hour by now. Without superpowers, at that. He deserved a medal if he still a had chest left to pin it on after this. 

Buffy went right into action mode, grabbing a candlestick and bashing one demon on the head. The other ran for Xander and Giles tackled it, stake poised to strike. Spike stepped out of the way, rummaging in his pocket for a pack of cigs. Anya and Xander closed the front door and pulled heavy furniture in front of it. 

The skirmish lasted only minutes, though it did break a table and crush one of the ornaments that had been earlier knocked to the floor.

Panting heavily, Giles leaned against the breakfast bar and wiped sweat from his forehead, silently thanking his past self for getting excellent renter’s insurance. Demon hunting was simply untenable without it. Although, they hadn’t been hunting these. He looked to Xander and Anya, clutching each other near the far wall. “What was this about, then?” 

Anya stepped forward with an air of exasperation. “Demons!”

“Clearly,” Giles observed as Buffy stacked the bodies next to one another.

“No, I don’t just mean these two. They just keep showing up! There are 2 more in Xander’s room and we lost one on the way!” Anya walked to one of the bodies and kicked it on the shoulder. “I didn’t even get to have sex.” 

Buffy held back a (mostly-fond) eyeroll and crossed her arms. “Well, they have to be coming from somewhere. Do we think it’s tied to why Spike can’t leave?” She looked at Giles and noticed he had a cut on one cheek. “Oh! Sweetie, you’re hurt.” Stepping over body number two, she ran to her Watcher to examine the damage. 

“Spike can’t leave?” Anya echoed. 

“Did you just call Giles ‘Sweetie’?” Xander asked simultaneously. 

Both heads swiveled between Buffy tending lovingly to Giles and Spike lurking conspicuously near the door, holding a bent cigarette between bloodless lips and trying to light it with a lighter that wouldn’t spark. 

Around his last ciggy, Spike mumbled “Don’t fuckin’ ask me. I’ve been stuck with that all night.” He tilted his chin toward the Slayer and Watcher, who only seemed to have eyes for one another, faces painted with goofy smiles. 

Giles wrapped his hand around Buffy’s where she was dabbing gently at his cut face with a scrap she’d ripped from her shirt, and lowered it away. He smirked at the torn fabric. “I do have paper towels.” 

She shrugged, grinning bashfully. “Wasn’t thinking. Just saw you like this and… instinct, y’know?” 

He swept a few stray wisps of hair back from her face, caressing the cheek. “Yes, I do know.” 

Xander shook himself and looked away, his tongue sticking out of his mouth as he made a rude noise. He turned to his girlfriend. “Did someone make a wish?” 

Anya cocked her head to one side as she watched the other couple in the room. “How should I know? I’m not really in the loop these days.” She looked back at Xander. “Do you think he’s better at sex because he’s been alive longer? I mean Angel was even older but obviously that had its own issues. Giles probably won’t turn evil after. So, I can see the appeal, there.” 

“Therapy. I’m gonna need therapy. And lots of it.” Xander massaged his temples. 

The whole tableau was interrupted by a growl from outside and Xander gathered Anya closer, pulling them both away from the door. Something scraped against the wood and bellowed out a series of angry-sounding grunts. 

Buffy pulled away from Giles with a huff of impatience. “Can they not take a hint, already?”

“I told you, demon after demon, it’s like they can’t stop chasing us. They’re drawn to something. And it isn’t me because I left with all my debts cleared, thank you very much,” Anya announced. 

The demon rammed into the door, causing the wall to shake. The window next to it slammed shut and the glass shattered. Spike, who had given up on the lighter and tucked away the precious tobacco, started cackling madly. 

“Oh no!” Spike managed between chortles, “looks like a demon broke your bloody window!” 

A large scaly arm busted through the screen and swiped the air. Spike jumped back, swearing at it as Buffy vaulted across the room and slammed a fist down on the forearm. The creature howled and withdrew but only for a moment. The arm appeared again, long dirty claws grasping. Giles made a beeline for the weapons chest.

“You lot better get the little witch on the horn before this Big Bad blows the whole house down,” Spike edged further away from the window, keeping his eyes on the wiggling arm.

“Willow!” Xander exclaimed and all eyes turned to him. “That’s what I’ve been trying to think of. She said it earlier.” He nodded to Anya, “just before you got there.” He tapped his forehead with one palm. “It’s right there. On the tip of my tongue… Demon magnet!” His eyes lit in triumph. “She called me a demon magnet. And said Spike wasn’t going anywhere. And Buffy… well, I’m not even sure what she did there… but come on, I mean, Giles?” 

Buffy frowned at Xander, catching the sword Giles tossed her and swinging it down in an impressively swift arc. The demon made a sound of deep anguish as its arm was detached from its body and thumped motionless to the floor. Arterial blood sprayed out and Buffy stepped back, her other hand raised to keep it off her face. She succeeded admirably well. The demon seemed sufficiently cowed by this and lumbered off, grunting furiously. 

With hands on hips, Buffy faced Xander. “And what exactly is wrong with my loving Giles? He’s been by my side through everything, supportive, kind-hearted, understanding.” She switched her gaze to the man in question and it softened as they looked at one another. “He doesn’t judge me or doubt me - even when I’ve doubted myself. And, yeah, the wardrobe could use an update but that’s what wives are for,” she grinned. “Love is a partnership, right? Well, that’s us. Now, we’re just making it official.”

Giles flushed but his smile suffused his whole face, eyes crinkling at the corners as he fought down the lump that had risen in his throat. Even now, with his ring on her finger, he’d harbored doubts. Could someone so extraordinary really give her heart to the likes of him? It seemed she could and she had. Impassioned by her bravery, he crossed the room to her and cradled her face between his hands. He didn’t care about the looks on the faces of their unwanted audience. He didn’t care about the Council warnings against loving a slayer. He didn’t even care about the blood getting on his jumper as he pressed closer. He just needed to kiss her more than he needed oxygen in his lungs. 

Anyone could have knocked Xander over with a feather the moment Buffy referred to “wives” but he reminded himself that it had to be a spell. He started saying it out loud, over and over again when Giles and Buffy started playing tonsil hockey, covering his eyes with his hands for good measure.

Anya slapped his shoulder with the back of her hand. “Stop that, you sound possessed. Why don’t we just go find Willow and figure this out?” 

Buffy sighed as she ended the kiss with Giles. She tapped her hand against his chest. “Anya’s right. That one armed demon may be coming back with his pals to even the score. Either way, something wiggy is going on.”

Giles nodded, his eyes still slightly glazed behind foggy glasses. “We ought to secure Spike before we go. I don’t want him loose among my artifacts.”

“Two dead bodies and a bleeding arm and I’m the problem,” Spike muttered, flexing his wrists in preparation for the seemingly inevitable return to bondage. “Could you at least leave me something to eat?” He pointed at the arm. “Not that.” 

***

After the trip back to the dormitory revealed that Willow was being courted as a vengeance demon by D’hoffryn, the four of them made their way to the crypt where Anya said she could summon her former mentor. Xander kept sneaking uncertain glances back at Buffy and Giles, who kept exchanging sly little grins. It was only Anya’s warning that kept him from falling into an open grave. 

And then came the demon, all red and horny - Or horn-ed, as Giles helpfully corrected mid-run. 

By the time they made it to the crypt, there were even more demons on their collective tail. Anya got right to work on the spell as Xander watched her back. Buffy and Giles fought shoulder to shoulder (or close enough, given the height disparity) and even Xander had to admit her partnership speech made sense - gross out factor aside. They were a cohesive unit in battle, he just couldn’t see why Buffy always seemed to go for the oldest guy in the room. His pondering was cut short by something large and purple that had made it past the front line of defense. Anya broke from her ritual as she saw the others getting overrun. 

No one realized Willow had appeared until suddenly the demons were gone. Buffy stumbled back and Giles caught her around the waist then released her quickly to her feet. They looked at one another, open mouthed and wide eyed, then looked away. Giles became very interested in the wall of the crypt as a pink cheeked Buffy studied her shoes. Anya and Xander nearly collided as their opponent also vanished. Four sets of eyes, filled with varying emotions, all turned toward Willow. 

She swallowed, fighting the urge to shrink into her oversized jacket, and waved. “Hi guys.” 

***

It was two days later when Buffy knocked on Giles’s door, a saran wrapped plate of cookies in her other hand. Willow had been baking up an apologetic storm at the Summers’ residence. She’d originally wanted to go to Giles’s apartment but Buffy hadn’t been ready to face her Watcher again so soon after sucking face with him. Under the spell. It had obviously been the spell. She’d been steadily reminding herself of this for the last two days. 

Yes, they had been very good kisses. Toe curling, in fact. But Giles would never… not in a million years… even if Spike had made that offhand comment about him checking out her ass. Just because someone was window shopping didn’t mean they wanted to go in the store or try anything on. Or commit to a purchase. 

Okay that metaphor had gotten away from her quickly. 

She was grateful that her train of thought was interrupted when the man himself appeared in the doorway. 

“Buffy,” Giles greeted her, a little breathlessly. He’d known it was her, of course, from looking through the peep-hole. Being face to face again, though, hit him harder than he could have anticipated. Willow’s spell had forced him to face some hard truths about his no longer platonic feelings for his Slayer. Worse than that, it had enabled him to live in the fantasy that she could ever return those feelings. 

This was the second plate of sweets the red haired witch had sent his way, the first being delivered by a Xander who could not quite look Giles in the eye. To no surprise, Xander had not accepted the half-hearted invitation to come in and partake of said sweets. Giles was no closer to figuring out how to forgive the errant Wicca but he had to admit she knew her way around a snickerdoodle. 

Buffy hoisted the plate between them to cover the awkward silence. “Guilt cookie?” 

“What flavor this time?” 

She sniffed. “Um, I think chocolate chip with walnuts.” 

Giles opened the door wider, his heart clenching as Buffy hesitated slightly before walking through it. He noted how careful she was not to let any part of herself brush against him.

Buffy dropped the plate on the breakfast bar and turned to face Giles, her hands coming to rest at her lower back. Her mouth was a prim, tight line and her eyes didn’t quite meet his. She’d opted to deliver the cookies herself because she knew they needed to talk about the spell, clear the air. She’d run into Riley on campus the next day and was reminded of how much she’d been ready to climb that particular tree just before Willow’s spell made her refocus her attentions. He was a good guy, Riley. Solid, handsome, smart, seemingly dependable. Everything a nice, normal college gal should want in a boyfriend. More importantly, he hadn’t hit puberty before she was even born. 

She drew a deep breath and forced a smile. “So, obviously Willow sends her regards. And pleas for forgiveness.” 

Giles inclined his head, hands stuffing themselves into the pockets of his jeans. Moments ago, he’d been contemplating lunch but his appetite seemed to have scarpered off, now. It wasn’t a coincidence. “But I take it that’s not why you’re here.” 

“Right,” Buffy clasped her hands in front of her, twisting a ying-yang ring on her middle finger. They were both uncomfortably silent for a moment before she decided that she may as well be just as uncomfortable with her mouth full. Of cookie. Oh Jesus, this was already going so badly. “Milk?” she asked, her voice coming out a little too high pitched. 

“Of course.” Giles, man of action, went straight to the fridge and poured them each a half glass. “Shall we, uh, sit?” 

Buffy glanced at the couch and immediately remembered his mouth on her neck, his calloused fingers stroking just above her bellybutton. Heat flickered low in her belly and she turned toward the stools at the breakfast bar. Much safer territory. Free from confusing and irritatingly arousing memories of getting snuggly with her Watcher. She pulled up a stool. 

From the other side of the kitchen cut out, Giles slid her a glass of milk. She thanked him and got to uncovering the cookies. She’d forgotten breakfast again, opting to sleep in after a late patrol. “No sign of the commandos again last night. It’s weird. Like one minute they were all around and now,” she shrugged, breaking the cookie in two to dip one half in her milk, “poof, not a peek of camo chic to be found.” 

“That is odd,” Giles agreed, only half paying attention. It might look off if he didn’t have a cookie, now that he’d poured himself a glass of milk. But he didn’t want a cookie. He wanted a glass of something much stronger and perhaps even a cigarette. The pack he’d lifted from Spike was still in his dresser drawer upstairs so perhaps he’d treat himself later - depending on how this conversation went.

“Where’s Spike?” Buffy looked around, only just noticing how quiet the apartment seemed. 

“I’ve asked Xander and Anya to watch him for a few days. A... friend of mine is coming to stay.” He grabbed a cookie just to give his hands something to do. The last day and a half had been a torment of self recrimination and futile attempts to think of proper redemption. It was the loneliest he’d ever felt, in all his years of living solo.

At last, he’d given up and drunkenly phoned Olivia. Lucky for him, she worked the late shift and had caller ID. She’d teased him about making a long distance ‘booty call’ but agreed to fly down from San Fransisco all the same. He hadn’t told her about Buffy or about the spell and he had no intention of doing so. Even thinking about it now made his stomach twist in knots. 

“You have other friends?” Buffy attempted a joke, feeling it fall flat the moment the words were out. “I mean, I just figured everyone you know is kind of…” already here or dead . She left the last unsaid because she knew they were both thinking it. 

Nice going. Really smooth, Buffy. Good thing you’re taking Psych this semester because you kinda suck at this people thing, sometimes. She bit off the soggy end and redunked the rest. 

Giles shrugged one shoulder, nibbling the edge of his cookie. He might as well say it and rip off the bandaid. There was bound to be a Scooby at his door again and he didn’t need it getting back to her second hand. “You’ve, uh, you’ve met her actually. Olivia, my old friend.” He gave an ironic smile, remembering all too well how Buffy had reacted upon meeting Olivia the first time. “With whom I do ‘old people’ things. You know, darn socks and play shuffleboard.” 

The crumbly sweetness was ash in Buffy’s mouth, her heart plummeting into her toes. So that was it. Giles had hated their enchanted interlude so much that he’d gone and called in a palate cleanser. Between him and Parker, her self confidence was just not having its best year so far. In fact, add in Angel and she was headed for a serious complex. She clenched her teeth and pushed herself to smile and act happy for him. “Gee, sounds fun.” 

“Yes. Thank you,” he murmured, dodging eye contact by taking a drink of milk. As he swallowed the cold liquid, he reminded himself that he was, in fact, the adult here - even if he was no longer an authority figure in Buffy’s life (as much as he could ever have claimed ‘authority’) and he ought to be the one to address what had happened. The words just felt stuck, thick as peanut butter, behind his teeth. “Look, Buffy… I um--” 

“I may have a date,” Buffy interjected, desperate for him not to start apologizing and humiliate them both further. “With a guy on my campus. A TA actually. Brainy type, believe it or not.” She tittered then took another big bite of cookie to make that sound stop coming out of her. 

Giles’s eyebrows raised, his mouth opening slightly in obvious surprise. What, like she wasn’t a catch? Spike had probably been full of shit but she knew Giles had eyes that worked. He could see she was… good looking. Pretty, even. 

Beautiful . The word he’d used was beautiful. But that was a spell and she didn’t want to think about it anymore.  

When she was mostly finished chewing, she swigged the rest of her milk and stood up. “So, we’re good, right? You and me?”

Giles nodded vigorously, clutching his glass a little too hard. This was good. Buffy should be dating boys she met at school, not a middle aged former rock star wannabe with a tarnished past and an appallingly good tolerance for concussions. “Absolutely. Never better.” 

She shot him a skeptical look. 

“Well, relatively speaking,” he amended. He stood up as well and for a moment he thought she might hug him. He wasn’t sure if he wanted her to or not. If he might just fall apart in her arms, after all. 

There was a moment of indecision in her eyes before she gave a singular nod and turned heel to leave. He took a breath, seized by the mad impulse to call after her, but there were simply no words that came to mind. He loved her just as he always had. And he also now knew for certain that he loved her in a way that was new and terrifying. But she never needed to know that anything had changed, that the tectonic plates of his world were shifting beneath his feet even as all he could do was stare helplessly at her back. 

Buffy bit the inside of her lower lip as she walked calmly to the door. Some part of her wanted him to stop her, tell her that he was just being all stiff upper lip-y about it. That he didn’t even want to be with Olivia. That he needed her here with him, where she belonged, not just as his Slayer but as his lover. As an equal partner in the crazy life they were leading. Because who could understand a Slayer better than her Watcher? But she was being silly and childish. Exactly the reason it would never work between them. 

It was better to go back to the way things had been before. Leave Giles to do Giles-y things and go talk to the cute guy who was actually interested in her. 

Buffy made a silent vow to put the whole spell out of her mind for good.