Title: A New Beginning
Summary: With the library gone, Giles finds out where he fits in the group, with a little help from Buffy.
Timeline: Summer between Seasons 3 and 4.
Word Count: ~4800
Disclaimer: Characters aren't mine, I just like playing with them.
A/N: This was supposed to be a very short one-shot, which turned into a slightly longer one-shot. It’s been a couple of years since I’ve posted a really shippy B/G fic, so decided to dedicate one of my days to my OTP. And because I finished writing this while on vacation, and it being a holiday weekend I didn't have a beta.
A/N 2: Comments not only welcome, but appreciated.
“I was thinking we should invite Giles.” Willow told Buffy as they sat on Buffy’s couch, watching some TV. Oz had band practice, so it was just the two of them for the day. Buffy didn’t mind Oz being around, but it was awkward always being a third wheel. Which she had been ever since Xander left for his cross-country excursion.
“You think he’ll want to? We are talking about the same Giles, right? Tall. British. Nose cemented in a book. I mean, if he even has a swimsuit it’s probably made of tweed.”
“We’ve barely seen him all summer, Buffy. And yeah, maybe asking our only British friend to celebrate a holiday commemorating an event in history where we basically told the British to take their tea and stick it where… okay, I see your point.” Willow said. “But I still think we should invite him. If for no other reason than he’s our friend and friends do the whole holiday thing together.”
“Fine. I’ll talk to him.” Buffy relented. “But when he says no to spending the fourth of July on a beach eating hot dogs and getting sand in unmentionable places I will be forced to say ‘I told you so.’”
“That’s all I’m asking.”
Later that day
Buffy walked up to Giles’ door nervously and knocked. She could actually count on one hand the number of times she’d seen Giles in the three weeks since graduation. He had asked a few times in the beginning if she wanted to do some training. How they were going to manage any sort of training in his cramped apartment she wasn’t sure, but it didn’t matter because she always had something to do.
It wasn’t that she didn’t want to see him, she just didn’t know where he fit into their lives now that the school was gone. He had been fired from the Council, and she had quit, so he wasn’t really her watcher anymore, not officially at least. He wasn’t the school librarian anymore, in fact there wasn’t even a library any more. Everything that forced them together before no longer existed, now they needed to figure out what was left.
She knocked again a few minutes later, but after getting no response, again, she walked inside. “Giles?” She asked, looking around.
Giles had been sorting through some boxes stuffed in the back of his wardrobe. With not much else to do over the summer, he decided it was time to look through the boxes he had failed to unpack when he came to Sunnydale. He had always meant to, but something always came up and kept him from finishing. The box he was currently looking through had some old photo albums and a few of his father’s journals from his time as a watcher. He had been so focused on reading some of the entries that he hadn’t heard the knock on his door. In fact he didn’t even know he wasn’t alone until he heard his name being called.
“Buffy? He called from the loft. To say he was surprised by her visit was an understatement. He looked over the railing, sure enough, Buffy was just inside the door.
“I knocked but didn’t get an answer, and figured I’d try the door. I know how you get when your nose is in a book.”
“I was distracted. Spring, or Summer as the case may be, cleaning.” He explained, putting his father’s journal down and walking downstairs. “Is everything alright?” He asked, leaning against the back of the sofa. Buffy hadn’t been around much since the library exploded.
“Yeah, nothing hellmouthy since the mayor. I’ve only staked a couple vamps this summer. They seem to be in hiding, not that they’re usually active in the summer anyway.”
“Not that I mind, but you coming over here usually has to do with slaying, so to what do I owe this visit?”
“Well, as you know, every year in America, on a specific day in July we get together and celebrate the birth of our nation.”
“More like a childish tantrum.”
“Well, we won, so we get to call it what we want.” She said. “Anyway, Willow, Oz, and I are going to be doing the festivity-taking-part-in and we wanted to extend an invite to our favorite Brit.”
“Well, as appealing as that sounds I’m going to have to-” He knew they were just inviting him to be polite, but he didn’t have any other plans, and he had barely seen them since they blew up the school. “Actually, I think I’ll take you up on that offer. Thank you.”
“That’s okay we-- wait, really?” She asked, shocked.
“Yes, really. Am I to understand that you don’t want me there?” He asked, crossing his arms over his chest.
“No. No, I’m just surprised. Giles and the beach seem like unmixy things.”
“You know, this will be great, Giles.” She turned and headed for the door.
“Did you say beach?”
She stopped and turned with the door poised open a few inches. “We’re taking Oz’s van, so we’ll pick you up here at nine. Don’t forget to bring a swimsuit and a towel.”
“Wait, Buffy.” He tried to change his mind but she was already out the door. “What have I gotten myself into?” He muttered to himself.
“Wow, jeans and no glasses, are we sure that’s Giles?” Willow asked from the passenger seat of the van.
Buffy leaned forward and looked out the front window to see what Willow was talking about. Giles was standing on the curb in front of his apartment complex, with a bag clutched in his left hand, he was also wearing the same jeans from the day before.
“Oh, yeah, he was wearing those jeans yesterday too.” Buffy told her friends. “The only time I ever saw him in jeans before was a certain night under the influence of a certain candy that I never want to think about again.”
“Oh come on, Buffy, it wasn’t that bad.” Willow said doubtfully. “Your mom has dated before.”
“Yeah, Ted. Remember how well that worked out? Besides, I don’t think there’s enough therapy in the world to make me forget what I witnessed.”
Willow rolled her eyes while Oz had an amused smile on his face as he pulled over to the curb.
The door slid open and they all said “hi” to Giles, and he replied in kind as he got into the van, taking a seat next to Buffy.
Both Buffy and Willow were looking at him. He looked nervously between the two. “Is everything alright?”
“I was just thinking of the last time you wore jeans. You haven’t been hitting the band candy, have you?” Buffy asked teasingly.
Giles gave her his patented Ripper glare, though it didn’t seem to work with her, she just laughed it off while Oz pulled out into the road.
They made it to the beach before ten, only stopping once along the way at a roadside fireworks stand to pick up some sparklers, fire crackers, and after slipping the guy an extra twenty they were even able to purchase some bottle rockets. Though technically illegal, they were fairly easy to come by.
This early in the morning there weren’t many people around, so they were able to get their pick of prime locations. The beach stretched out almost a half a mile and they decided to take a place off to one side, near to the furthest firepit. It would be convenient for grilling burgers and dogs later, and far enough away so there wouldn’t be much foot traffic from people coming and going.
Willow grabbed as close to two of the corners of the blanket that she could and snapped it up and out, letting gravity work to lay the blanket out flat. When she was done they set the ice chest on one corner and a picnic basket in the other corner to anchor it down.
Giles watched as the three others worked together to get their space set up. They seemed to have a system in place so he stayed out of their way until everything was set up.
Children nearby were chasing the water as it retreated then screamed and ran back when the waves rolled into the shore.
He could still remember his first visit to the beach quite clearly. As a child, his family didn’t leave the city very often, so the first time he stepped foot on a beach was when he was eight years old. He remembered his parents hovering just outside the waterline as he walked in the water up to his waist. He laughed and turned to wave at his mum when a wave came crashing over his head, knocking him off his feet. He’d never forget the frantic look on his mother’s face as he struggled to his feet, coughing up saltwater.
He smiled at the memory and turned back toward the blanket. He sat down and looked over at his slayer. “Where did Willow and Oz disappear to?”
“Oh, they went to go change into their swimsuits.” Buffy said, taking a seat next to him.
“Ah.” He said. “You didn’t join them?” He asked, noting that she was still wearing her halter top and shorts.
“I’m already wearing mine under my clothes. Besides, I think Willow and Oz wanted to find somewhere private.”
“Wh--Oh.” He said in realization, he hadn’t realized they were at that stage in their relationship, though they were both adults, and they had been together for well over a year. Knowing that information surprisingly didn’t bother him as much as it would have before they blew up the school. Just like the school, their foundation had been destroyed, leaving them to figure out how to rebuild. They were no longer students, he was no longer working at the school, and to top it all off he was a fired watcher with a slayer who no longer wanted to work with the Council.
He had hoped that Buffy would still train with him, he had leased a closed down dojo a few blocks away from the UC Sunnydale campus, so far she seemed uninterested. Whenever he broached the subject she always came up with some excuse for why she couldn’t. Granted, it had only been three weeks, there was still almost two months of summer before Buffy was due to start her classes.
“I’m surprised you decided to join us today.” Buffy said, looking over at her former watcher. “Not that I mind. I just never saw you as beach-going guy.”
“I’m not.” He admitted. “However, it hasn’t escaped my notice that you haven’t been around much since graduation. I’m starting to think you’re avoiding me.”
“That’s not true.” She denied half-heartedly. “I mean, it’s not completely true. It’s not like I’m avoiding you, I’m just…” She shrugged uncomfortably. “I’m not going out of my way to spend time with you.”
“Thank you, that makes me feel better.” Giles said sarcastically.
Buffy sighed. “I didn’t mean that in a bad way. I just don’t see why you care so much suddenly. I wasn’t around last summer or the summer before that.” She pointed out.
“Last summer you ran away from home, and I spent the entire time looking for you. The summer before that you had just died at the hands of the Master and you were spending the summer with your father, both of which I understood as reason for your absence.”
“I’m not here to argue with you, or chastise you. You’re an adult, Buffy, I’m not going to force you to include me. However I do think we need to figure out what, if any, role I’ll play from here on out. Without the Council, and without the library, I have no formal title in your life.”
“Yeah, I guess this is new territory for us.”
Willow and Oz came back before they could continue their conversation, both wearing their bathing suits. Which prompted Buffy to unveil her own. She stood up and stepped out of her flip-flops, pulled off her halter top, unbuttoned and unzipped her shorts before pushing them down and stepping out of them.
Giles’ heart pounded in his chest as he took in the sight of Buffy in a small two-piece. Obviously he was aware that Buffy was a beautiful woman, and she wasn’t exactly known for her conservative dress, but that didn’t mean he was prepared to see her in a bikini that covered just enough to keep him from having an actual heart attack.
He realized that he was staring, not wanting to make her uncomfortable, he reached into his bag for the book he brought with him. Before he could start reading it was plucked out of his hands. He looked up to see Buffy standing over him looking at the cover.
“You know, I love--” She looked at the cover again, “Don Quixote, really?” At his shrug she continued, “as much as the next person, but this is the fourth of July, and we’re on a beach. You need to do American things not--”
“Read?” He asked with a small smirk.
“Exactly.” She said, either not catching or ignoring his jest. “Go put your trunks on and get out there in the ocean with us.”
He took his book back. “I don’t own swim shorts.”
“You’re probably going to regret that in a minute.” She said.
Giles watched curiously as she bent over her bag and started digging through it. He looked around to see if he could possibly receive help from the other two, but Willow and Oz were already splashing around in the water forty feet away. His view was hindered when Buffy shoved a bag in his face. He looked inside and it was far worse than he could’ve imagined.
“You can’t possibly expect me to wear those.” He said, looking up at Buffy, the look on her face conveyed that she in fact did expect him to wear them. “There’s no chance you’ll let this go is there?”
He sighed in resignation and returned his copy of Don Quixote to his bag, then he took the plastic bag Buffy gave him and walked back toward the changing rooms.
Buffy grinned as she watched her watcher walk away then went to join her friends in the water.
“Where’s Giles headed?” Willow asked when she caught sight of him heading back down the beach.
“He went to change into the present I bought for him.” Buffy said with a grin.
“Oh, Buffy, you didn’t.” Willow said, shocked. She and Oz had been with Buffy at the mall the night before to get new swimsuits and Buffy had mentioned she might buy Giles something to swim in, just in case he didn’t bring anything himself. Buffy’s grin widened, answering Willow’s question.
“Poor Giles, with Xander on his road trip, Giles will be winning the most ridiculous swimsuit award.” They had all been subjected to Xander’s choice in swim attire before, his current pair of trunks could be most accurately described with the words “neon” and “vomit”.
“I don’t think it’ll be that bad.” Buffy said, suddenly feeling bad, she didn’t want to embarrass Giles.
“Well, let’s hope you’re right or Giles is never going to come out with us again.”
Giles felt ridiculous. He spent five minutes just standing in the small room, gathering up enough courage to step out into the open. Buffy apparently thought it would be funny for him to have the stars and stripes across his derriere. He didn’t think he had ever worn anything more ridiculous.
By the time he made it back to their spot on the beach Buffy had joined the other two in the ocean. He took a moment to watch them laughing and splashing away. Part of him wondered if he would ever truly have a part in their group. They were all young and vital; and he was a middle-aged former librarian.
When he noticed the others staring at him he made his way into the ocean, giving them a self-conscious smile. He didn’t have to be worried, because as soon as he was in to his waist, Buffy tackled him into the water. He came up sputtering while the others just laughed and started splashing him while he returned in kind.
Three hours later they were all seated on the blanket, exhausted from their ocean activities.
“I think I preferred The Yardbirds with Jeff Beck, to be honest.” Giles told Oz.
“But few guitarists compare to Clapton.”
“Agreed, I thought he did his best work with Cream. His talent was wasted on The Yardbirds. He was better able to showcase his talent in Cream, while the Yardbirds, with Beck’s influence, were able to grow in a way they hadn’t with Clapton.”
Buffy looked over at the guys while she and Willow sat near the basket with the food. They were munching on chips. Despite his initial hesitation, Giles had quickly become comfortable with them. They had even played a few rounds of chicken, and there had been minimal stutter when she explained that she needed to climb onto his shoulders. Now he was talking to Oz about music and seemed to actually know what he was talking about.
She had to admit, she bought the American flag shorts as a joke. Turned out the joke was on her. Giles looked amazing. He had fantastic legs, and his shoulders and arms were what you’d expect on a Greek statue. He had a little pooch around the middle, but considering he was forty-five he was definitely a dish.
With that thought she blushed and looked down at the blanket. She couldn’t believe she was thinking about Giles that way. It was different with Miss Calendar, or her mom, they were both an appropriate age to be thinking about Giles that way. She couldn’t possibly be attracted to him. Maybe it was the chemicals in her suntan lotion messing with her brain.
“I can listen to him talk about music all day.” Willow gushed, looking over at her friend.
“What? Just because he has that British charm thing-- you were talking about Oz, weren’t you?” Buffy asked, receiving a nod in response. “Right.”
Willow wasn’t stupid, she could see something was clearly going on in her friend’s head.
“I’m glad we invited Giles out with us.” She told her friend, quiet enough so Giles couldn’t hear her.
“Yeah, he and Oz seem to be getting along.” She said nonchalantly.
“Not just that, but you and he also seemed to be getting along really well.” Willow prodded. “And who knew Giles had such nice arms.” She knew she hit the nail on the head when Buffy’s cheeks flared a brilliant red.
“I’m going to get Oz and start on the hotdogs.” Willow said before Buffy could formulate a response.
Buffy sighed and looked over at Giles. She gave him a small smile as he came to sit next to her.
“You and Oz seemed to have a lot to talk about.”
“He’s very knowledgeable when it comes to Rock and Roll, I quite enjoyed our conversation.” He said with a fond smile. “I think we should finish our discussion from earlier.” He told her.
They were both quiet for a minute, neither really sure how to start. She had caught sight of some of the boxes in his loft the day before and she didn’t want to admit it at the time, but the thought of Giles leaving scared her. He was someone she always assumed would be there.
“I don’t want you to go.” She finally admitted. “Maybe it’s selfish, but I don’t want to do this without you.”
He opened his mouth to argue.
“I can fight, and Willow can do the research, and Xander… well when he gets back he can continue with the wise-cracking, but you’re the only one that really gets it.” She told him. “You know things about the Slayer, and the resources to explore it further.”
“That’s true.” He said. “But if what you want is someone to answer questions about slayers you could read the handbook. What do you need from me specifically?”
“I want you to be my watcher again.” She paused for a minute to look at him. Her gaze met his. “If you want to go back to England, I’m not going to stop you, it’s probably the sane choice.”
He was touched by her words and the sentiment behind them. “If I’m going to be your watcher again that means we’re a team. You need to train with me at least three times a week and you check in every night after patrol. You don’t need to come by my flat, a simple phone call will suffice.”
“Deal.” She said after a minute of consideration. “But where are we supposed to train, you don’t exactly have a lot of room in your apartment.
“I have something in mind, if you come by my flat tomorrow I’ll show you.”
“You’re not going to just tell me what it is?” She asked, her lip jutting out in a pout, hoping he would tell her.
“That would ruin the surprise.” He said simply before getting up to see if he could help Willow and Oz with lunch. He had been self conscious before with how little clothing he was wearing. It wasn’t that he was self-conscious about his body, he was in good physical shape, especially for a man of his age. He was pleasantly surprised to find they had been mature about it.
Buffy watched as her watcher worked with Willow and Oz to get lunch made. She blushed when she realized she was staring and she got to work unpacking the paper plates and the plastic silverware.
“Willow, where did the tea go?” Buffy asked as she dug through the picnic basket.
“It should be in the basket.” Willow replied.
“I’m looking, it’s not here.”
“I decided to liberate it.” Giles revealed. “I figured with today being Independence Day, and you lot being American, I should hide it before you had the chance to throw it into the nearest body of water.”
Buffy rolled her eyes. “Well then I guess you don’t get any tea, English-guy.”
“Lipton is not real tea.”
“Then why would you care if we threw it in the ocean?”
She had him, and she damn well knew it, if the smug look on her face was anything to go by.
“Come on, Giles, we fight hell beasts, don’t tell me you’re afraid of a few rocks.” Buffy taunted her watcher, trying to get him to follow her up onto an outcropping of rocks.
“I am not afraid, it simply seems like a bad idea to be climbing up there, knowing that when we climb down it will be dark.” He rationalized.
It was after eight and the sun was just setting over the Pacific. When they finished lighting all the fireworks they’d bought from the TNT stand, Willow and Oz volunteered to take everything back to the van. Then said they’d meet the other two at the van after the fireworks show.
Buffy had noticed earlier a ledge halfway up a nearby cliff. It would be easy enough for them to get to, but she had to convince Giles it would be worth it.
“Come on, Giles, where is your sense of adventure?” When he didn’t reply she started climbing up. “Look, I’m going, you can either stay down there and watch the show by yourself, or you can come up here and keep your favorite slayer happy.”
Eventually he relented and they were soon climbing up and along the rocks so they could reach the overhang. Buffy made it safely up, but just as Giles was stepping up a rock he had used as a foothold dislodged. If it hadn’t been for Buffy’s lightning reflexes he would’ve fallen. The drop would have been no more than five feet, but nonetheless it would have been painful.
Buffy used all of her strength to pull Giles up and he fell on top of her on the ledge. He gave her an embarrassed smile.
Buffy looked up at him, and though he had his shirt back on she could still imagine what he looked like earlier without it. She didn’t give it much thought when she brought her hand to the back of his neck and pulled his head down, kissing him softly.
He was shocked, to say the least, but pleasantly so. He had been struggling all day, watching her prance about in her swim costume. Though she had put her shorts and halter back on, he could clearly remember every curve of her body. Those curves which were now underneath him. So when she pulled his head down and kissed him, he didn’t think to stop it. Instead he deepened it, each exploring the other’s mouth.
They broke the kiss off when the sound of the fireworks show startled them. They were breathless and their hearts were pounding in their chests. As he looked into her eyes, Giles could tell she didn’t want to stop so he leaned down and kissed her again as his hand slipped under the edge of her shirt.
Buffy moaned and broke off the kiss. “Giles, as much as I want to continue, and believe me, I really do want to continue, I have sand in uncomfortable places.”
Giles couldn’t help but chuckle, resting his forehead on her shoulder. “As much as I loath to admit it, I do as well.”
Buffy kissed him softly. “To confirm, this will continue later.” She said, looking up at him hopefully.
“It will.” He said before rolling to her side. He settled down with his back against the face of the cliff and Buffy opted to sit between his legs, and she leaned back against his chest.
He wrapped his arms around her waist and nuzzled her neck. He was having a hard time believing this wasn’t a dream; and if it was, he’d rather not wake up. He hadn’t ever considered a relationship like this with her before. As the librarian, and as her watcher, the relationship would’ve been wildly inappropriate. With those expectations gone, room opened up for them to form a new kind of relationship. Throughout the day they had all demonstrated that he was more than just Giles, the former librarian, he was also their friend.
“Aren’t they beautiful?” Buffy asked, watching as the fireworks rained down in brilliant red, white, and blue.
“Breathtaking.” Giles responded, not taking his eyes off her.
“Thanks for the ride, Oz, but I’m going to stay here for a bit to talk to Giles about our training schedule.” She said, glancing over at her watcher. “He can give me a ride later.”
Giles blushed profusely at the unintended, or so he assumed, double entendre. He climbed out of the van, then helped Buffy with her things before leading her into his flat.
“Are you quite sure this is a good idea?” He asked, after setting her bags on the floor and turning to face her. He barely had time to brace himself as Buffy jumped onto him, wrapping her legs around his waist, and her arms around his neck.
He laughed and placed his hands under her knees to hold her up. “I will take that as a yes then.”
“Since yesterday, I’ve been thinking a lot about you, and about how you fit into the group. And tonight I finally figured it out.”
“Oh? Care to share?” He asked, carrying her over to the sofa before sitting down.
Buffy unhooked her legs as he sat down, then straddled his lap. “Right here.” She told him. “This is where we both belong. Giles and Buffy. Watcher and slayer. You know, if you’re amenable.” The last part was said with a teasing smile.
He laughed and pulled her closer, letting her feel just how amenable he was to their new arrangement. “I think you’ll find I am.”
She smiled and snuggled back into the body behind her. Then she froze, as she tried to remember where she was.
Giles had been awake for nearly twenty minutes. He felt her freeze. “Everything alright?” He asked, holding her close.
She smiled when she heard his voice. It all came back to her. “Perfect.” She turned to face him and kissed his jaw. “I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.”
He smiled and cupped her cheek. “I couldn’t agree more.