Art by eyesthatslay
Day Five – Somewhere in England
“This does not seem like something to make me feel special.” Spike drags his feet, his shoes digging into the dirt on the path up to their destination.
Buffy rolls her eyes. Sometimes getting her vampire to do something is like herding a very stubborn cat. “I promise it won’t be that bad, and I promise it’s the last thing I’ll torture you with in my lame attempts to make you feel important.” She almost calls him a big baby, but she stops herself because well, that won’t get him to budge and might provoke a fight.
“Going to have dinner with your Watcher who conspired to kill me does not seem like my idea of a pleasant evening.” He drops Buffy’s hand, crosses his arms, and replants his feet.
“Good point,” she gives him this.
“Darn right, good point.”
“But it’s not like we’re staying the night, and I’m here. You don’t have to be alone with him. Plus, he’s kinda like my dad, and I haven’t seen him in over a year since we started the slayage world tour.”
Buffy watches him set his jaw.
She then pulls out the one thing she knows he can’t resist. She crosses the small distance between them and kisses him lightly on the mouth. “Do this for me?”
His sapphire eyes glitter even in the dim glow of the small path lights. “Damn it, pet.”
* * *
Sitting in Giles’s living room after dinner, Buffy tries to think of a time when she had one of her boyfriends over for something as traditional as a meet-the-parents. . . or rather meet-the-parent date. She remembers that her mom formally met Riley once, but she doesn’t count the Thanksgiving with Giles when Spike was tied to a chair because well, that was before anything of significance happened between them in the romantic department.
She decides that this meeting thing is not something she wants to repeat with any great frequency. She, Spike, and Giles ate dinner relatively peaceably, probably because the food was a nice distraction from actual conversation of any real depth, but now, the three of them are gathered together without a table between them, staring uncomfortably at anything in the cozy sitting room but one another.
Playing with the fringed edge of one of the plush sofa pillows, Buffy swallows and decides that she should be the one to break the proverbial ice. “So. . . Spike and I are dating. . . we’re like together together now.” She sneaks a glance at Giles who takes a sip of his scotch, adjusts his glasses, and appears reasonably calm.
Giles raises both eyebrows but otherwise reveals very little of what he’s feeling in that very British way of his that always drives Buffy batty. “So it seems.”
Spike, for his part, sits stiffly next to Buffy on the coach. He stayed many days and nights at Giles’s apartment after the Initiative put the chip in his brain, but he never felt so awkward. Perhaps because he was soulless? He never cared before what Rupert thought. Spike raises one eyebrow at Buffy, and she almost giggles but manages to swallow back her anxiety.
She searches her mind for something to say now, but she draws a blank even though she had a whole speech prepared in her head before they got here.
Giles watches his Slayer fidget and puts together what he’s noticed since she arrived. First, beyond the obvious nerves, she seems relaxed. . . more relaxed than he’s ever seen her, and that’s saying something given the amount of traveling, slaying, and skipping through time zones they’ve been doing. Second, there’s a light in her eyes whenever she glances at the vampire, a light that he recognizes because he’s seen it in his own eyes a time or two in his lifetime. It’s the light of a person who is completely in love. . . the kind of love that’s not based in infatuation or lust but that’s balanced and deep. A love that’s based in friendship and trust, and no matter how much he might wish it, he can’t deny that he sees the same thing in the vampire’s eyes. He recalls a time when he had a talk with Spike about his choices, about how the chip in his head might help him to change. . . to do good and help others. It seems that he did so. . . is doing so with or without the chip that prevented him from hurting humans. Nowadays, Giles is also uncertain whether the presence of the vampire’s soul even makes a difference, but he can barely admit that to himself much less the couple sitting before him. And third, Giles realizes that he loves his charge even though she’s no longer really his to watch. He wants her to be happy, and this he finds rather ironic because he never thought he’d wish her happiness with a vampire. . . least of all with Spike. Nevertheless, there it is. Despite knowing all this, he kind of enjoys seeing them squirm a bit.
Spike taps his finger on the arm of the sofa, and unable to stand the silence any longer, he says, “So, uh, you don’t seem to be trying to shove a stake in my heart, so I take it that must mean. . .”
Leaning forward in his chair, Giles cuts him off, and without acrimony in his voice, admits, “That I approve? Not necessarily. That I want Buffy to be happy? Indubitably, and if that happiness happens to be with you, someone I,” he almost says, “would never wish for her in a thousand years,” but he shifts directions at the last second, “wouldn’t necessarily want for her, so be it. Buffy’s an adult now, and I love her like my own daughter, and if she is. . . happy, I’m. . . content.” He stops short of saying he’s delighted because that wouldn’t be honest, and he’s done with beating around the bush or being dishonest with Buffy.
Buffy’s shoulders relax as relief floods through her, and she laughs a little.
Giles smiles at her. “What?”
Buffy shakes her head. “Nothing. I just wasn’t sure what to expect given how things have been in the past between you two.” Something about Giles’s confession allows her to add, “And I love you both so much. . . I don’t want the same old tension to get in the way of us being able to be around each other anymore.”
Giles decides to face this head on as the passage of time has allowed him clarity on the choices he has made and the regrets that he has. “Ah, you’re referencing the time I helped the principal to try and kill Spike.”
Buffy’s eyes flash as she experiences a bit of her old anger as his obliviousness. “Well, yeah.”
“I won’t say that that was my finest moment.”
“It’s right up there with you drugging me to take my powers because it was a Council tradition.” Buffy still feels terrified when she thinks about how Giles stripped her powers and allowed her to fight alone against an insane psychopathic vampire who kidnapped her mom.
Giles is silent for a heartbeat. “I don’t know if I’d go that far, but. . .” Buffy glares at him, and he holds up a finger to stop her. “Nevertheless, what I did was wrong.” He doesn’t try to justify his actions with commentary on how they had been in the middle of a war against an intangible enemy and how they were all having to make tough decisions. He can own his behavior and the impact it had on Buffy.
Spike has been silent, taking in the tennis match between his love and her father figure. He’s tempted to fall back on old ways of reacting, but he chooses not to rehash the old conflict. A lot has happened between then and now, and his time with Angel has softened him regarding old enmity. Clearly, the Watcher is different, too. He deliberately meets Giles’s eyes. “Thank you.”
Giles nods at him and puts his hands on his thighs. “Now. How do you feel about dessert?”
“I’d love some,” Buffy says, scooting closer to Spike now that the tension is eased. He scoops her hand into his cool one and smiles at her.
As Giles heads toward the kitchen, Buffy turns to Spike. “Well, that was. . . interesting.”
He brings her hand up and kisses the underside of her wrist. “Your Watcher still doesn’t like me very much.”
“He tolerates you, but you know what? He seems different with you than before.” Buffy threads her fingers with his.
“What? Because he isn’t set on killing me?” Spike is half tempted to start a make out session with Buffy just to bug the Watcher.
“No because he basically admitted that he can tell that I love you. . . that we’re in love.”
“Yeah?” Spike is thoughtful for a moment. He doesn’t know Rupert as well as Buffy does, and he still has his doubts about the Watcher despite what he said tonight. “Well, I’m sure about one thing.”
“What’s that?” She peers up at him with wide green eyes.
“That you love me and that you make me feel like I matter. You went to all this trouble to intentionally think of things to show me how much you care, and that says everything to me.”
She tears up at the earnestness of his words because she knows he hasn’t always felt that way with her and for good reason. “My walls are pretty tall. . .as you know. And the invitations to come in are few and far between.”
Spike knows this well. “For good reason. You’ve had a lot of loss and hurt in a very short span of time.” He runs his index finger up and down hers.
“And so have you.” She moves her gaze to his eyes for a second or two. Then, she resumes her study of their enclosed hands, “I wanted you to know that you are all the way inside, and while you may not know where all the doors and hallways lead or the ins and outs of all the rooms. . . yet, you have a standing invitation to come in and. . . explore.”
He nuzzles her cheek. “Oh, do I?”
She grins and gives him a little nudge. “Not in my Watcher’s house. I don’t want to make him suffer too much. And anyway, I’m not done.” She glimpses his lone eyebrow raise out of the corner of her eye, so she continues, “I’d like to have permission to know the ins and outs of you, too.”
“You know who I am, love. I don’t exactly hide it.”
“I know I can’t possibly know everything in your heart and mind. Just give me permission please?” Her tone is light, but she means it more than she ever has.
He can tell she’s serious. “Okay.”
She lifts her chin for a kiss, and he gladly acquiesces, her Watcher’s house be damned.
“I love you,” he whispers in her ear as Giles re-enters the room with a tray of pastries.
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/585794.html