Giles wandered over to the bed, making as if he was going to sit down. He must have changed his mind, choosing instead to claim the chair sitting across from it. With the uncomfortable look on his face, it was perfectly clear to me that this would be one of those talks. The kind where hopes get crushed, where egos get trampled, where friendships are strained and hearts ache. At that moment I wished I could take it all back. All except the unforgettable peek at Giles tooshie which I wouldn’t sacrifice even to save the world.
“I think we should…”
“Talk,” I finished, trying to smile easily but feeling my performance was seriously lacking.
“Are you going to sit down?” He asked, suddenly taking on the role of counselor I’d given up the second I realized I’d crossed some line between us. Giles was sliding back into his old shoes, guiding me as he always did, encouraging me through this difficult situation as if it were just another apocalypse. A not-so-small part of me hated it. This wasn’t going to be good.
“Yeah, I probably should.” I sat on the edge of the bed, facing him, legs tight together, hands folded in my lap like a child waiting for punishment. Why had I worn the red, leave-nothing-to-the-imagination, sex-me-up dress? Had I no shame? Apparently not because that was the exact second I remembered the accompanying red rose I’d place so suggestively on the pillow behind me. Panic struck as I glanced at Giles and calculated the trajectory of his line of sight verses the location of the offending item in question. He couldn’t see it. Thank god! Now all I had to do was somehow get rid of it before he noticed it.
“Um, Buffy…I… I came here because I wasn’t sure…”
“Didyouhearthat?” I cut him off so quickly I barely understood what came out of my mouth. He paused, his mind working to translate the strange language I’d spoken.
“Pardon?” He asked, confused.
“I thought I heard something,” I slowed down, gesturing toward the window behind him in an attempt to get him to look.
“I… I didn’t hear…”
“Would you…. could you…um, just take a look and make sure it wasn’t…” Think, damn you, think! Vampire, pizza boy, Avon, Dawn. “… Dawn?”
He shifted sideways and pulled back the curtain with a finger. I jumped into action, twisting, reaching, grabbing, Ouch, thorns! And tucked the rose under the pillow.
“It’s nothing, Buffy,” he said, returning to face me. He looked at me thoughtfully then cocked his head a little sideways, “Are… are you alright. You seem a bit tense.”
“ ‘m Fine.” Oh yeah, way to sell it.
“I know this is awkward, to say the least,” he continued, speaking in that overly understanding, maddeningly empathetic tone.
Why won’t you just kiss me?
“Really, I’m fine, Giles. This is good. Just you and me doing the talking thing like people do. Normal people. Been a while.”
So *not* what I want to be doing!
“Do what?” He asked softly, brows raised in curiosity. Had he heard me, read my mind? No way? I had to repeat the question silently to myself, not following where he was in our discussion. Had I missed something? Had I blanked out? Did he skip ahead?
“ ‘I do, do you?’,” he read from the note I’d left him, eyes lifting to meet mine, waiting in anticipation for an explanation. “Do what, Buffy?”
I felt my jaw drop, literally. He can’t be that thick!
“Don’t get me wrong, I have my own assumptions on the meaning of this. But I’d very much like to hear it from you.” There was patience in his tone and my mind raced for an answer to his question. I got nothing.
“Oh… okay.” I swallowed hard, feeling all moisture suddenly evaporate from my mouth. I can do this. “Well, you know… I… I *do*… do *you*?” I gestured as I spoke, as if providing further physical evidence of what I’d meant. I concluded my argument with a feeble shrug and a weak giggle. Sure, that clarifies everything, duffus!
A smile crossed Giles’ features then faded to a look of subtle disappointment. “You don’t know, do you?”
“Sure I do.” I think I’m lost.
“Tell you what,” he stood and closed the gap between us, holding out the note for me to take from him, “…think about it. When you’re ready, when you can actually tell me what this really means, come see me.”
I reached up to take the note and two of his thick fingers caught mine in a tender grip, his thumb brushing along my knuckles. His green eyes stared down at me, a long illuminating look within me that hid nothing and said everything. He held me there for only for a second but it felt like forever yet not nearly long enough. Then, with a shy bow of his head, he let go, turned and walked to the door.
I couldn’t move, could speak, couldn’t think.
Giles held open the door and paused, glancing back over his shoulder with the slightest hint of a smile curling his lips. “Be sure to remove that rose before you fall asleep. Goodnight, Buffy.”
The door closed and sat there, heart soaring, mind racing, body trembling.
What had just happened?