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SPOILERS/CHANGES: Takes place after “OMWF”—but the B/S kiss didn’t happen. Giles leaves a note for Buffy telling him he’s leaving for England and she follows him to find out why.

NOTES: Written as a part of a personal writing challenge to include the words ‘homeland’, ‘flummoxed’, ‘uncle’, ‘fanfare’, ‘last rites’, and ‘tomcat.’

DISCLAIMER: The characters are the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, Sandollar Productions, Kuzui Enterprises, 20th Century Fox Television, the WB Television Network, and whoever else may have a hold on them. I do not mean to infringe upon any copyrights.

*****


“Flying back to the mother ship?” Buffy paused several feet from Giles as he sat in the sparse waiting area for his flight. “Got your note,” she continued, her voice lower and heavier with the sadness placed upon it.

“Buffy, I-I don’t want to leave. But I must. Please understand…I must…for the sake of…” he couldn’t finish, suddenly not sure for whose benefit he was leaving.

“It looks a lot like giving up to me. Running away. Heading back to the homeland. Leaving—now, of all times.”

Giles sighed and rose carefully. He was stiff from sitting while waiting for the late plane, but needed to look deeper into Buffy’s broken eyes. “Especially now, Buffy. You need to…continue on. Need…to live.” His voice was below a whisper as he reached out to her. Clutching her shoulders, he looked earnestly into her face, but she refused to look directly at him.

Her face twisted into a look of soured pain. He could tell she was about to cry as her lower lip began to quiver and her breathing became harder. Giles frowned and fought back the lump forming in his throat. “Buffy…” he breathed, and pulled her trembling body to his. He folded her completely in a warm hug and soothed her. He ran one hand in comforting circles on her back and patted her hair gently with his other hand. “Shh…Buffy…don’t worry. It will all be all right…” Giles tried to sound convincing while inside he was convulsing and confused at how close he had just made them. Gritting his teeth, he tried not to overreact to their contact.

Buffy suddenly pulled back, shaking her head. She wiped her eyes and grunted at the mascara she found on her damp palms. “How is it?” she finally asked, meeting his gaze.

“I-I honestly don’t know, Buffy,” Giles sighed, too tired to try to come up with a comforting lie. “Somehow it will,” was all he could come up with.

“Wow, Giles, not really the vote of confidence I was looking for. Why are you really leaving?” She looked down again at the sight of his bewildered eyes.

“Honestly?” He took her set expression as a yes. Blinking several times and staring at the floor-to-ceiling glass windows behind her, Giles began to speak. “I don’t want to hurt you. I want to take care of you, love you, protect you. I also want you to be strong enough to stand on your own. My love for you won’t ever falter or leave, but at least it’ll be more bearable from an ocean away.” His voice was low and haunted, but the words came to Buffy’s ears clear as crystal. The honesty startled her.

Buffy was shocked into silence for a full minute; all she could do was stare at Giles’ open expression. “And what about my love?” she finally blurted out. “For you?”

He frowned and Buffy almost grinned at his completely flummoxed face. “What do you mean?” he implored cautiously.

“I love you, Giles. Not as a father, not as any uncle, not as anything but…you. My Giles. Without you by me…I am hollow and…it’s-it’s as if a huge part of me is just…gone. Missing, wandering. By tonight it’ll be sitting in England.” Tears threatened to flood her eyes again so she stopped as suddenly as she had started.

“My God, Buffy, are you serious?” The anger flared in her pained eyes and he grimaced at asking such a question. “I mean…are you sure, Buffy?”

“Of course I am. I-I’m sorry…”

“No! Don’t be. I feel the same way for you, my love, but I never thought…I could share that part of my being with you.”

“So you tried to pull a Houdini instead?”

“Quite. I do love you, Buffy. More than anything, and with everything.” She reached for him and Giles pulled her into another tight embrace. He was warm, comforting, every inch of him exuding his love and truth.

“Oh God, Giles, if you left, I think you would’ve had to read my last rites…again,” Buffy clutched at his shirt as she whispered into his chest. He tightened at the mention of her death, but relaxed when he heard her smile manifest itself in a short laugh.

“I am so sorry, Buffy.”

“Make it up to me,” Buffy pulled away to arm’s length, “come home with me.”

“Right away, love.” Picking up his suitcases, they walked together out of the airport.


*****


It was almost time for creatures of the night to begin their rest as Buffy and Giles pulled up to Revello drive. They had taken the long way back to Sunnydale, giving them a chance to talk and redefine their budding romantic relationship.

Buffy stepped inside her home, finding Xander sitting anxiously on the couch. He told her he tried calling the house, but Willow had been short with him.

“So here I am. I was just worried,” Xander gave a small smile. “So….what’s new, pussycat?” He tried to lighten the mood that hung in the house like Spike’s stale cigarette smoke. At that moment, Giles stepped in behind Buffy. He snaked his arm around her waist and held her to his chest possessively. “…and tomcat?! Giles?!” Xander’s eyes bugged out at the scene before him.

Giles smiled slightly and squeezed Buffy’s shoulder. Xander’s pleasant shock made even her grin. “I’m going home, Xander,” Giles stated evenly. Xander’s face fell immediately and he frowned in confusion.

“Then why—what’s going on? And why are you holding—Buffy?” Xander was baffled as he looked imploringly from Slayer to Watcher.

“Calm down, Xander. Giles and I are…together.” Buffy took Giles’ hand in her own and squeezed.

“I am home now. Truly.” Giles looked down at Buffy’s shining eyes, devotion flooding his eyes.

Xander gaped at his two friends. Finally he was able to find his voice again. “I’ve got to sound the fanfare! Call out the cavalry! Stop the presses—I’ve got the scoop that’ll turn everyone’s frowns upside down!” He reached the point of rivaling Willow for best babbler at that moment. For the first time in a long while Xander began to feel the shades of gray were lifting to reveal brighter hues for everyone.

“Whoa—down boy. No need to wake everyone up. We’re pretty beat anyway, so,” Buffy looked at Giles seductively, “talking isn’t really on the menu for right now.”

“Oh, well—oh! Okay, leaving! Take care you crazy kids! I love you guys!” Xander quickly hugged them each before retreating, heading home to his apartment and Anya.

Buffy led Giles into the living room and sat languidly on the couch. Her smile was stiff, but her eyes were full of fresh, new feeling she wanted the rest of her body to share. “Sit with me?”

Giles sat close and held Buffy to him. He put his cheek on the top of her head, engulfing her in his warmth. “Buffy, I—”

“Shh…” Buffy shushed him with a slight, hesitant kiss. Recovering from his initial surprise, Giles smiled. He guided her head back to his and kissed her again—deeper, stronger, a firm and equally gentle expression of his love. Buffy relaxed into him, and once the kiss was ended, she yawned.

“I’m sorry, that wasn’t a reflection on you. That was great, really!” She smiled up at him and continued. “I just-just haven’t slept hardly at all…since I’ve been…back. Suddenly, now, I feel…like I can relax. Like I’ll be safe to sleep. And I am so…” she yawned again, “exhausted.” Buffy snuggled into Giles’ chest. He was glad she closed her eyes so she didn’t see the sorrowful smile he now held. Keeping Buffy next to him, Giles laid his head on top of hers. She sighed pleasantly. “You love me. Nothing can happen now. Nothing…” Buffy yawned tiredly and breathed her last word before falling into a deep slumber. “…bad.”

“I won’t let it,” Giles affirmed. “I love you, Buffy.” He glanced down at his love, who was now still and quiet. She was lost in much needed sleep, and quickly Giles joined her there.
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