************************No Place like Home by Lady Haikara
Giles arrived at the front door of the Summer’s house and sat down on one of the steps, leaving his small luggage at his side. He was tired from the flight, and so he was grateful that he could have some rest before Buffy and Dawn came back from school. He hadn’t told any of them about his arrival, he wanted it to be a surprise.
He inhaled deeply, taking in the smell of the grass, the air and the trees, so different from London. He couldn’t help but feel a tingling in his stomach. Nervous, he was as nervous as a teenager in his first date. And he couldn’t help but grin like a bloody idiot when he though that anytime now she would come walking towards the house. After all these months, he would see her face to face.
He hadn’t waited for too long when she arrived. Buffy. She was sunlight made human. Bright, warm, beautiful, irresistible... He stood up as he watched her slow and unbelieving approach, and his heart swelled and filled up with pure joy when he saw her eyes glitter with a smile wider than the big one on her lips, and she began running towards him. She almost knocked him down with her strength and her hug almost crushed every bone of his body. And he was happy.
“So this is why you didn’t call me last night?” Buffy said, burying her face in his shoulder, her voice a little bit muffled.
He couldn’t see her face, but her voice told him that she was crying. He began to softly stroke her hair.
“I... uh... wanted to give you a surprise. Was it a bad idea?” said Giles as he began to slowly letting her go.
“No. No at all.”
She dried her tears, and looked up at him. They were standing very close, so close she could feel his breath in her face. Their eyes locked, her heart raced and her cheeks burned. But...
It was funny, with all the things said, every one of their conversations over the phone, all their feelings in the open... and she couldn’t bring herself up to kiss him. Neither did he.
“I... “ Buffy began, breaking the moment. “I’ll help you with your... things” Her eyes rested on the small suitcase resting on the front steps of the house “Oh,” she said, disappointment plain in her face. “You’re not staying for long”
“Not this time...” Giles saw Buffy lower her head and kept on saying “Yes, there is some business in Bath that I need to solve.”
“How long are you staying?” she said without taking her eyes off the ground.
“Enough time to find a flat to rent around here...” he offered, tentatively, eyeing her, “Then, I’m going back to England to fix everything...”
The expression on Buffy’s face was priceless. Her eyes snapped open, and so did her mouth. She gaped once, twice, unable to find words. Giles smiled and took his suitcase.
“Are you going to allow me to enter, or should I start looking for a hotel room?” he asked in a tone just a bit short of mocking.
And, still speechless but broadly smiling Buffy, opened the door and guided him to the guests room. Giles kept smiling all the way up. God, it was good being home.
She walked her way home slowly. There hadn't been much vampire activity that night so she was not tired. She thought of her day, the kids in the school, their problems and the way she was helping them dealing with them. When she had told Giles about it his voice has sounded so joyful, proud, it had made her cry from emotion. And now he was here. _Here_, as in a besides-her-now kind of way, and she was so confused. Over the phone it was simple, uncomplicated, achingly sweet to deal with. But now...
Dawn wasn’t home. She had, in her words, this “awfully complex history test” tomorrow and was going to, again in her words, “fry my brain memorizing all that dates and names and stuff”, so, she was staying the night at Catherine’s house. Of course Buffy had gone through all the convenient research before allowing Dawn to go. Anyway, that had meant she spent the whole afternoon with Giles. Alone. They had chatted a bit, kept quiet a bit, and generally avoided anything that had to do with their telephonic romance. For some reason she didn’t want to bring it up. It was like she wasn’t sure if it had really happened, wasn’t sure where they stood right now. She knew that she loved him, and also knew that he loved her back. That was what really mattered, right? If that was so, then why hadn’t he said anything either? Didn’t he want to go on? Was there anything for them to go on with in the first place? She felt childish.
She had offered Giles to join her in slaying, after all Dawn wasn’t home, so he shouldn’t have to play babysitter for her. But Giles had refused, and that had puzzled her. Why would he choose to stay at home alone instead of being with her? Why was she so afraid?
She kept walking till she eventually got home. She opened the front door and headed for the dinning room... and her jaw dropped.
The only light lighting the room came from the candles set on the table. The air smelled of spice and roses, a strange mix but not at all unpleasing. The table was set for two and Giles, dressed up in a casual style that made her heart skip up a beat, was leaning against the door, waiting for her. A husky female voice began to sing, a slow song lost in time filling the room...
Giles approached her, took her hand to his lips and kissed it.
“Welcome home” he said, and his low voice made her legs tremble. Oh she loved this man, if she had had any doubts, fears, or arguments against it, they had all melted and evaporated right then.
“Hi.” Her own voice sounded so out of place she hated it. “I’m starving...” she couldn’t believe she didn’t have anything better to say.
“Good, because I have made us supper” She rather felt than saw his smile in the dim light.
Giles brought two dishes from the kitchen, and they smelled wonderful. They sat down and she began to eat. Yep, it tasted good too. Giles opened the wine bottle she hadn’t notice was on the table and poured her a glass.
“Pinot Noir. Chilean wine.” He poured a glass for himself and inhaled deeply its aroma before taking a short sip. With his lips. The same ones that had lightly touched her hand seconds before. Soft lips. She swallowed. Hard.
They ate in silence, her eyes only occasionally leaving Giles’. She didn’t know if it was the wine, the night, the music, the food... the long months of phone conversations, the sweet words they had shared even though they were continents apart... Anyway, her heart was racing, and she had to use all her will power to keep her from thinking in his lips. God, how she wanted to kiss him.
Giles finished eating and looked at her; she was sipping her glass of wine, and still hadn’t said a word. But her eyes kept seeking his and, although the lighting wasn’t very good, he was sure she was blushing. He stood up slowly and approached her. Buffy put her glass down and smiled.
“Shall we dance?” he asked her smiling, and offered a hand. Buffy took it and let herself be guided to a slow embrace. The song was still playing and she wondered briefly how many times it had been repeated. She felt Giles’ hand in the small of her back. She stopped thinking.
“This isn’t fair” she said suddenly, in a small voice.
Giles chuckled, “Pardon me?”
“I’m not dressed up for the occasion...”
“You look beautiful” he interrupted her.
“I’m all sweaty and smelly...”
He lowered his head to her neck and breathed in deeply, his lips lingeringly touching her skin and she almost melted right there.
“I like it” he said.
“Stop complaining.” He cut her off, smiling. He stopped dancing and his right hand left hers to pose itself under her chin.
“I’ve been waiting to do this for months” he said.
“Then why have you still waited all day?” she asked, remembering the awkward afternoon, the setting up of the guests room, the tea they had shared, when she had almost been evading his eyes...
“I wanted to do it properly” he said simply, a small glint of the stuffy librarian flashing through his features. She almost laughed. Almost. Giles would always be Giles. And she loved him for it.
His thumb traced her lower lip and she wondered briefly just when the hell had he become so darn sexy.
She closed her eyes, and felt the blood racing in her veins, her heart beating so loud she couldn’t even breathe, a void in the pit of the stomach... anticipation. And then, Giles’ lips on hers. Soft, caring, a little bit awkward -like every first kiss in the history of human kind-, and slow. Achingly, delightfully, perfectly slow.
They parted and he rested his forehead against hers.
“I love you” he said.
“I love you too” she answered, and smiled.
It was late in the night when they finally decided to go to sleep. They had been talking in the couch, Buffy curled up against Giles. Talking about just everything, like they had gotten used to while he was in England. It was wonderful to feel his hands stroking her hair as she talked to him. And to just look up and kiss him whenever she felt like it.
They got upstairs, and he walked her to the door of her bedroom.
Buffy wrapped her arms around his shoulders and brought him closer to her to kiss him. And he kissed her back. It was slow at first, like all the kisses they had shared that night, but, somehow, it became more and more passionate. When he took her face in his hands and his teeth softly bit her lower lip, she felt like her legs were giving in. Her hands tangled themselves in his hair bringing him closer, making her feel him all along her body. Her breathing was coming in ragged gasps, and her heart was pounding furiously, and... suddenly, he broke the kiss. His breath was also harsh as he took her by her shoulders and put some distance between them. His eyes were locked up with hers, the intensity of his stare almost unbearable.
“You... wanna come in?” she tried to sound nonchalant about it but failed miserably, her whole body was shaking and so did her voice.
He slowly brought his lips to kiss her forehead and closed his eyes.
“Goodnight” he said, and made his way to his room, leaving Buffy standing alone. She felt a little silly right them, and, strangely disappointed... but she was so tired, the emotions of the day finally catching up with her. She would think about it, about everything, tomorrow.
She lay down in her bed and was asleep in a matter of seconds. All night she dreamt of Giles.