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Title: Dear One
Author: Sweetdoggie (stirling_summer@yahoo.com)
Pairing: B/G
Rating: G
Summary: Based on a Challenge by Trish, An unsigned love letter makes the rounds
Spoilers: Up to mid-season 5
Disclaimer: No permission has been granted to use the characters. They are owned by their creator, Joss Whedon, Twentieth Century Fox, UPN, WB, and Mutant Enemy. This story is non-profit and is intended solely as entertainment. No copyright infringement is intended.

Dear One,
You probably think I’m a coward for telling you this way, but I can’t bring myself to do this face-to-face. I doubt that I will even send this letter but I have a deep need to say these words and since it can’t be out loud, it has to be in writing.
I love you. I have loved you for years. I knew the moment our eyes met that you were the one to be in my heart forever. I have fought this attraction with every bone in my body, but it does no good. You are my love and always will be. I think that long after my bones have turned to dust, my soul will still be entwined with yours.
I know ours is a forbidden passion, that it can never be, but my heart cries out when ever I see you. I hear it begging, “Please, love me, please.” But it falls on deaf ears. Perhaps your heart longs for another, but it will never know a love more faithful and deep than that which I have for you.
Your Beloved One

The letter was typed on standard typing paper with nothing to indicate to whom it was directed or from. It had been stuffed into a plain white envelope and left sitting on the counter of the Magic Box quite accidentally by its writer and had been found by Anya when she was tidying up before closing. Curiosity being one of her strong points, she had opened and read it before she realized it was a love letter. Someone had written a love letter and left it lying where she would find it, therefore, it had to be for her.

What did this mean? Although her specialty had been vengeance for wronged women, she didn’t actually know that much about the love end of the deal. She only saw the aftermath when love faded away. This letter, though, made something inside her melt. Who could it be from? Xander? She thought about it and immediately discarded the idea. He loved her and told her so regularly. There would be no need for him to write her a letter and besides, it was totally unlike him to even think such a thing let alone act on it. No, whoever had written this letter was definitely suffering from unrequited love. She ran her agile mind over the possibilities.

Who could it be from? Who had she known for years? Well, that pretty much limited it to Xander’s friends. Giles? She didn’t think so, but there was that saying about still waters running deep. Spike? She toyed with the idea. Could his fixation on Buffy simply be a cover to disguise his true motivation? Maybe. Then a thought hit her. The letter said it was a ‘forbidden passion.’ Could it be one of the girls? She didn’t like females that way. She was going to have to watch carefully. She folded the letter back into its envelope and set it back where she had found it as if it were red-hot. She would pretend not to have seen it. Maybe the writer would come forward or give themselves away somehow.

Anya wracked her mind over who had been nice to her lately. Giles had smiled at her and said the display of powdered bat she had set up was well done. Willow had complimented her on her new hair color just yesterday. Dawn had given her a piece of gum this morning. Tara had helped her sweep up the jar of newt eyes a customer had knocked over. Joyce had given her a knit top that she had purchased supposedly for Buffy but it wasn’t Buffy’s size. Buffy herself had studiously ignored her for weeks. Hmmm. That was suspicious.

Anya had always had a sneaking hunch that Buffy wasn’t quite as heterosexual as she pretended to be. These periodic flings with men were too few and far between to indicate a deep-set interest in the opposite sex, she mused. Buffy hung out with women all day long and often had sleepovers with just the girls present. She also used the public showers at her dormitory. If she were bi-sexual, wouldn’t that be a good way of checking out other women? If her secret admirer was Buffy, Anya resolved to let her down easy because even though Anya considered herself to be very attractive, she didn’t want a Slayer mooning around after her. Poor Buffy. She probably couldn’t help herself and ignored Anya because it hurt her less. That had to be it the ex-Vengeance demon reasoned.

She closed and locked up the shop before leaving, giving the letter one last lingering look before stepping out the door.

Two hours later, Willow realized that she was out of the ashes of virgin’s blood and needed some to complete her spell. Tara was still at the library so she would have plenty of time to pop down to the Magic Box, get a small amount and swing back before her lover missed her.

Ten minutes later she unlocked the shop door and peered inside. Good, nobody home. She turned on the overhead light and walked to the checkout counter. The ash products were kept on a shelf behind the cash register. Looking quickly through the jars, she found the one she needed. She grabbed a small piece of paper off the counter and measured out a teaspoon full before folding the packet away. She replaced the jar and turned back to the counter to make sure she hadn’t spilled any. That was when she saw it.
Tucked next to the cash register between the jars of henbane was a letter. Henbane was a very common ingredient in many spells and if somebody wished to leave her a message, placing it by the henbane was almost a foolproof way of getting it to her. She opened the envelope and read the letter. It was so sweet, so poignant, that she wanted to cry. Who could be writing her love letters? It wouldn’t be Tara; there was no need. Their love might be frowned on by society, but their friends accepted it and that was all that mattered. Therefore, whoever had a forbidden passion for her had to be someone else. She thought over the possibilities. Could it be Xander? No, probably not. For one thing, the letter was literate and well typed. Unless he had suddenly gained a bunch of hitherto unknown skills, it wasn’t from him. Who could it be? Giles? He was a very kind man and never dated all that much. Maybe it was because he was nursing a secret passion for her? She didn’t really think so because he accepted that she was gay now and besides he treated her like she was a kid even though she was three months older than Buffy who was clearly considered an adult in his eyes. So, not Giles. Spike? Gack! She thought of the blond vampire with revulsion. Surely he knew that she wasn’t interested in him or in vamps in general even. That was Buffy’s shtick and she wasn’t taking up the vamp-lover thing no matter what.

She remembered last year when he had come directly to her room to bite her just after he had gotten the chip. She had seen the looks he gave her sometimes when he didn’t think she was paying attention. She shuddered.

Quickly, to wipe the icky thoughts out of her mind, she considered the other potentials. Who did she know? Buffy? Never in a million years, she thought with a laugh. Anya, likewise. That pretty much left Joyce or Dawnie. She thought briefly about the Slayer’s mother. Why had she gotten a divorce? Could it be that she realized she had secret lesbian leanings and was no longer interested in men? She had dated the psycho-killer robot dude but he was drugging her so maybe that didn’t count. Buffy had told her that her mom and Giles had had sex when under the influence of the Band Candy incident. That was pretty wiggy all by itself, she thought. Eeeeuw! Still, if Joyce wasn’t interested in men, she wouldn’t have had sex with him so maybe that put her off the list. That left Dawn.

Willow looked worried. Dawn was a sweet kid and was very understanding about her and Tara. She was always hugging them and tagging along offering to help with the research. She frequently stayed over all night and liked to try on Willow’s clothes. Maybe she was gay and it was just starting to manifest itself? Willow hoped that wasn’t it, not because there was anything wrong with being gay, but because Buffy would kill her, plain and simple. She was just going to have to keep an eye on her and if things looked like they were escalating, she would have to tell Buffy. She tucked the letter into her backpack for later perusal and left the shop.

When she got home, she reread the letter three times. She was going over it a fourth time for clues when she heard Tara’s key in the door. Quickly, she stuffed the letter back in the envelope and then hid it in the nearest concealable spot which turned out to be Tara’s book bag. Oh, well. She could retrieve it tomorrow morning before they went to class.

“Hi, honey.” The blond Wicca said as she let herself in. “Did you have a good night?”

“Oh, you know. Didn’t really do much. Worked on getting ready to try a new spell, nothing major.”

The two girls sat on the couch and talked for a little while before heading off to bed.

Willow meant to get up early the next morning but forgot to set her alarm. She woke only when Tara closed the front door on her way out of the apartment. The red headed witch sat bolt upright in bed. The letter! It was in Tara’s backpack. She shrugged. Maybe her sweetie wouldn’t see it and Willow could retrieve it later.

Tara was rummaging around in her pack for a new pen when she found the letter. That was odd, she thought. I didn’t put it there. She looked at the plain white envelope and opened it. She was astonished to find out it was a love letter. It wasn’t from Willow, she knew instinctively. Her love was well returned. Whoever had written this letter didn’t think the other person cared about them that way. How sad. Since it had been placed in her backpack, it must have been meant for her. One of the Scoobies had an unrequited passion for her. She would have to find a way of letting them know that while their feelings were appreciated, they were unreciprocated. She loved Willow and always would.
She ran a list of the most likely suspects through her mind and finally ended up with Giles. It was so sweet and touching, so desperate with unfulfilled longing and it would explain why he hardly ever dated. He was in love with a woman who only liked other women. How painful that must be for him. She resolved to be extra kind, but firm with him next time she saw him. He mustn’t hope for anything from her because her heart belonged to Willow.

She read the letter three more times before stuffing it back inside its envelope and then into her pack. Xander was picking her up later so she and Willow, Xander and Anya could rent movies and pick up a pizza. They had talked about inviting Buffy and Giles but decided a couples night would be less awkward since the other two members of the gang were currently without love interests.

“I feel sorry for them.” Xander had said. “I mean both of them are really nice people. It’s a shame they can’t find somebody with a little staying power.”

The others had agreed and the couples-only movie night had been established.

Xander picked Tara up and they headed back to town. “Hey, Tara? Would you mind if I ran into the drugstore for a minute? I’ve got to pick up a couple of things.”

She smiled at him. “No, go ahead. I’ll wait out here.”

While he ran inside, she pulled the letter out and re-read it one more time. She was deeply concerned over hurting Mr. Giles. He had enough problems without adding unrequited love to them. She looked up in time to see Xander hurrying back to the car. She stuffed the letter back into the envelope and quickly stuck it down the side of the car seat. She didn’t want him asking questions that would only embarrass the shop owner. She would retrieve it later.

The movies lasted longer than either couple had planned and Xander and Anya were exhausted by the time they left. Tara had fallen asleep and Willow was nodding softly on the couch. The drive home was short and uneventful. As they climbed out of the vehicle and walked into their apartment, Anya yawned sleepily. “What are we doing tomorrow again?”

“I promised I’d go over to the Gallery and look at installing some new shelving for Joyce.” He said with a yawn of his own.

“In that case, I think I’ll sleep in.” She told him as she kissed him goodnight.

Morning came early for Xander. Even though getting up had been a chore in high school, now that he was working in construction he found he liked the very early morning hours best. The job sites were usually peaceful till mid-day because of anti-noise ordinances. He liked to walk around and do his inspections then. He had promised to meet Joyce at the Gallery at seven A.M. but he needed to stop off first and return the videos. He put them on the front seat of his car. An idiot driver cut him off and he had to slam on his brakes thus causing the videos to slip to the floor. He pulled into a parking space in front of the rental place and leaned over the gearshift to find them all. While he was rummaging around on the floor, he spied something white tucked in the side of the seat. Curious, he reached over and pulled it out. It was an envelope. Opening it, he scanned the contents once then twice before going completely white in the face. Tara must have left this in his car last night. Oh my God! Willow’s girlfriend was in love with him. What a disaster! Willow was gonna turn him into a toad or a roach or something slimy. He wondered what on earth he was going to do.

He dropped the videos off and drove slowly to the Gallery. Joyce was waiting for him by the front door so he quickly stuck the letter into his back pocket to be dealt with later. “Sorry I’m running late, Mrs. Summers. I had to drop some tapes off.”

“That’s all right, Xander. I just got here myself.” The older woman told him with a smile. She opened the shop and they both walked inside. Xander took a bunch of measurements and wrote them on a small notebook he stuffed into his pocket. He didn’t realize that he had dropped the envelope on the floor by Joyce’s office door. They chatted for a few more minutes and he worked out a cost estimate for her which she said sounded fine. He promised to get the building materials together and start on them after work on Tuesday. He left with a smile and a wave completely forgetting about the letter in his anticipation of a job he enjoyed doing.

Joyce walked back to her office, smiling. Xander had come a long way from the boy who lay around on Buffy’s bed eating cheesy chips and asking for extra cake and soda. He was shaping up to be a fine young man and she was glad to know him. She decided to spend an hour going over some invoices before heading home. Just as she was about to step into her office, she saw the envelope on the floor. Picking it up, she opened it and read the contents. Oh no! That poor boy was in love with her. It had to be from him. None of the others ever sat foot in the Gallery if they could help it, including Buffy. She knew this hadn’t been there earlier so it had to be from Xander. She read the words over and over wondering what would be the best route to take to avoid breaking his young heart. Secretly, she was deeply flattered that such a nice young man would have any interest in an old woman like her, but she didn’t want him that way and wouldn’t lead him to hope for more. She stuck the letter back in the envelope and placed it on a pile of mail that she would take home with her.

When she finally got home she set the mail down on top of Dawn’s schoolbooks. Really, that child needed to be reminded that the coffee table was not her personal dumping grounds and that she shouldn’t leave her stuff all over the place. She moved the books and picked up her stack of mail without noticing that the love letter had fallen off her pile and onto a stack of Dawn’s schoolwork. She put the mail down on her desk and decided to make lunch.

Dawn came tearing into the kitchen a five minutes before twelve. “Hi, mom! I’m absolutely starving. You should have seen the dress Janice got for her birthday. It was so short, I could see her underpants. And it was pink too.” Dawn grimaced.

Joyce smiled but cut off the torrent of words from her youngest daughter. “You left your schoolbooks all over the coffee table. Go pick them up and then wash your hands. Lunch in fifteen.” She ignored the pathetic groan her child gave to elicit sympathy and chivvied her out of the kitchen.
Dawn trudged into the living room and began gathering up her books and papers. She was putting them in order when she spotted the envelope sitting on her most recent assignment. She opened it up and read it, wrinkling her nose at the excessive sentiment involved. Yuk! Somebody liked her in an icky sort of way. It had to be one of Buffy’s doofus friends because none of the boys Dawn knew would write such drivel and they wouldn’t have had access to her house anyhow. She thought about it for a couple of minutes.

It wouldn’t be Giles. He was so gaga over Buffy that he could barely walk straight. She didn’t know why nobody else noticed it. It wasn’t Xander and it wasn’t Willow or Tara or Anya. Who did that leave? Oh, ick! It had to be from Spike. He must have mistaken her friendship over the years as something else. Ooooo. Major cooties! He was like a million years old or something and he drank pig’s blood. She gagged at the thought of him wanting to kiss her. What if he tried to stick his tongue in her mouth? She raced upstairs and brushed her teeth at the thought. What was she going to do? She wanted to get rid of the evidence but was afraid to hide it in her room. What if her mom saw it? God, she would just die of embarrassment.

She had a brainstorm and quickly decided to hide the letter in Buffy’s room. Her sister was such a feeb, she’d never find it and Dawn could retrieve it later for proper burial. Nobody was ever going to know about this. She stuffed it carefully into the pocket of Buffy’s leather jacket knowing her sister wouldn’t be wearing it for a couple of months till the weather cooled down a little. It was the perfect hiding spot. She raced back downstairs and happily had lunch with her mom.
Buffy came home from school tired and cranky. She felt like staking some vampires and maybe kicking some butt tonight. That T.A. in professor Walsh’s class was cute but he gave way too much homework. Plus, he acted like she was an absolute moron. It must be the whole blonde syndrome, she mused. People looked at the hair and didn’t think there was a brain cell functioning under it.

Her mother met her with a quick kiss on the cheek. “It looks like you’ve had a really hard day, baby. I hate to ask you this, but could you swing by the cleaners and pick up my blue dress? I forgot on my way home this morning and I need to wear it to a showing tomorrow.”

Buffy smiled. “Sure, mom. No problem. I’ve been meaning to take my leather jacket in for cleaning and I promised Spike I’d pick up his duster for him anyhow. He got it dirty with demon blood the other night and said it was my fault.” She shrugged. “I figured he was right so I offered to get it cleaned for him. It should be ready.”

Joyce shook her head with a tiny smile on her face. “I don’t know what the world is coming to when the Slayer picks up a vampire’s dry cleaning for it.”

“Well, you could do what the gang always does when this weird stuff happens.” Buffy offered.

“And that is?” Joyce asked.

“Blame it on the Hellmouth.” Buffy laughed at her mother’s expression.

Buffy gathered up her jacket and a couple of dry-clean only blouses and walked the few blocks to the cleaners. She didn’t see the envelope in the pocket of the jacket. The owner of the cleaners was a small man and Spike’s duster was heavy. He had a bit of a time levering it over the counter. In his haste, he knocked Buffy’s jacket onto the floor and the envelope fell out of its pocket. He was in a hurry today so he swooped up the letter and tucked it into the pocket of the duster. He figured it was her coat, she’d find her letter. He didn’t really care however, one way or another. Buffy paid for the coat and her mother’s dress and walked out of the shop with the clothing swinging over her shoulder in their slick new plastic bag homes.

She dropped her mom’s dress off before heading over to the cemetery where Spike had set up a new residence. She kicked on the crypt door to warn him before opening it. As annoying as he was, there was no need to crisp him till he needed it. “Hey, Spike. I got your coat.”

He walked out of the shadows as she closed the door on the bright sunlight.

“Thanks, pet. I’d hate to lose this.” He smiled at her.

“Yeah, well, you’re welcome, I guess. Thanks for helping with that demon. He sure stunk.” She wrinkled her nose.

He would have liked to persuade her to stay and spend some time with him but couldn’t think of any reason that wasn’t lame. “Er, want a beer?” He asked casually.

“No. You know me and alcohol is not a good combination. Especially beer.” She shuddered. “I’ve gotta go anyhow. I said I’d meet Giles for training tonight.”

“That old man works you pretty hard.” He commented.

“That old man keeps me alive.” Buffy countered. “And I’d watch the old comments since you could be his great, great, grandfather.”

“Not me, pet. I was a virgin till I was turned.” He grinned at her so she wouldn’t know how to take his remark though it was the absolute truth.

“Don’t tell me any more. I want to keep my brain as free from Spike-biased information as I can.” She slipped out without saying goodbye.

He would have felt hurt at her actions, but he thought overall that had been a pretty good conversation. It wasn’t exactly a date, but he thought he might be making progress since she hadn’t hit him once during their exchange. Plus, she had cleaned his coat for him after all.

He stripped off the stinky plastic. It smelled terrible to a vampire’s enhanced senses. He imagined that Buffy hated the smell too. He ran his hands over the leather, now soft and supple and free of demon slime. Something crackled in the pocket. He reached in tentatively and pulled out a white envelope.

“Bugger! What’s this then?” He opened the letter and read it. It had to be from Buffy. She was the only one with access to his coat. It must be her way of saying that she loved him, but that she could never be with him because theirs was a ‘forbidden passion.’ Well, he’d show her that if she could love that ponce of a step-sire of his, she could just as easily love him. And the best part was, he, Spike, didn’t have a pesky soul to go missing at a critical point in the relationship. He resolved to face her about the letter as soon as he could get her alone. He lay on a nearby sarcophagus and waited impatiently for the sun to go down. He’d go to the bloody Magic Box later. She and her idiot friends would be there and he could talk to her.

He held the letter to his breast and drifted into the vampiric version of rest. When the sun finally set, he rose and pulled on the duster for confidence. He sauntered out of the cemetery and down the street planning just how he was going to confront his little Slayer with her secret desires. He got to the Magic Box and was surprised to see Joyce and Dawn there in addition to the Scoobies and Buffy.
He walked up to Joyce for a chat. After all, she was practically going to be his mother-in-law. “Hallo, Joyce, Niblett.” He said to Dawn with a leer. He was surprised when Dawn gave him an oddly uncomfortable look and just waved at him.

Giles came in from the back room. “Oh, I see everyone’s here. Very good. I’ve been researching this latest influx of unusual demons we seem to be having. As you know, Buffy and Spike killed a Coshcash demon the other night. They are extremely rare—” He stopped when Buffy interjected a comment about their smell. He smiled at her. She was so lovely. He sighed. She would never care for him like that, he knew. He was old and worn and she had definite preferences for a pretty face rather than a large brain. He continued speaking about possible causes of the new infestation.

Spike grew bored waiting to speak to Buffy and headed up the ladder to the small loft containing the more esoteric books. He didn’t realize the letter had slipped from his pocket and landed on the hand railing directly over the rapt group below. Giles called up to him to bring down a specific book and though the vampire grimaced he grabbed the book. As he turned the edge of his coat caught the letter and sent it wafting down gently to land in the center of the research table in front of all of them.

The people around the table fell into deathly silence as every gaze was riveted to the letter. Giles looked up from his book and saw everyone gazing at the object on his table. “Oh, I say. What’s this?” He started to reach for it, but eight hands beat him to it as eight voices simultaneously exclaimed, “It’s mine!”

Babble arose from the table as everyone made claims and counterclaims about ownership of the letter. Finally Giles yelled out that everyone just needed to be quiet for a moment. It did the trick and everyone turned to look at him. He reached for the letter and read it quietly. When he was done, he put it quietly back into the envelope and set it down on the table.

“I think we need a reasonable explanation of this.” He said quietly. “Who wrote this?”

Faces looked eagerly around as each person gazed at the one they suspected had been the author. “Come, come.” Giles said. “We need to resolve this or it will eventually destroy our peace of mind. Whoever wrote it should step forward. There will be no ridicule. We need to know who authored this lovely sentiment and for whom it was meant.”

Silence reigned around the table. Finally, with a deep sigh, Buffy stood up. “I wrote it.” She didn’t meet anyone’s gaze.

“I see.” Giles said sadly. “Would you please give it to the person for whom it was intended?”

Spike sat up anxiously as he waited for Buffy to come to him. She picked up the letter and looked slowly at each person in the group before moving to stand directly in front of Giles. “I wrote it for you, Giles.”

He was shocked. “You, you feel this way about me?”

“I have for a long time.” His beloved told him. “I only got interested in Angel because I couldn’t have you. I know you don’t feel this way back and that we can’t have anything together because you’re my Watcher and all, but I just wanted to put down what I feel. You were never meant to see it.”

He placed his hands on her shoulders and drew her close to him. “Buffy, dearest, I have loved you since you were a child and I have been in love with you since your prom. If you could ever see your way to giving this old man a chance, I think I could make you happy.” He looked deeply into her eyes, the others in the room totally forgotten.

Buffy put her hands on his chest. “Oh yes, Rupert. I want that more than I want to breathe.” She leaned into him as he bent down. Their lips were joined in a kiss that went on and on as they learned the taste and texture of the other.

“I love you, Buffy. I love you so much.” Giles whispered tenderly.

“And I love you, Rupert Giles. You belong to me.”

He bent down and swept her up into his arms and carried her out of the store leaving seven badly shocked people and one deeply embarrassed vampire sitting around unable to meet anyone’s eyes.

The End.
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