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INNOCENCE RESTORED

AUTHOR: Anna
E-MAIL: joyce19@libero.it or dueuominieunagatta@hotmail.com

SUMMARY: Buffy pays a visit to Giles. (ok, it sucks as a summary, just bear with me and read the story, please!)

RATING: Hm…PG13? I have no idea, Angst

SETTING: Second Season just after Phases, before BB&B

DISCLAIMER: It all belongs to Joss Whedon, WB, ME and Fox. no copyright infringement is intended.

DISTRIBUTION: Go ahead….

SPOILERS: First two season, after Phases…..but before Passion.

FEEDBACK: Please…please, please…but no flames…they’re not healthy.;-)

NOTE: From Gabi’s Challenge:



~ A good cry (Phases) ~

Giles: Buffy, I'm so sorry.

Buffy: (holds up her hand) Not now, Giles. We can all have ourselves a

good cry after we bag us a werewolf.

(Angelus has killed Theresa as a little gift for Buffy.) So how did the

crying go?



That’s my attempt at it.







~*~*~







-1-



The hallway seemed endless. A cold, artificial, white light bathed it. Buffy could hear the click of her heels on the pavement, her breath...ragged.



She was trying to hold back sobs, it was surprisingly easy...the lump in her throat blocked them, choked them. She could taste tears in her mouth, yet her eyes were burning with unshed tears.



The door was near.



She shivered, cold was seeping through her body. She felt like she was never going to be warm again.



She stopped in front of the door. Buffy swallowed, not even noticing how dry her throat was, how fast her heart was beating, pounding against her chest.



She swallowed again, and closed her eyes for a second, steeling herself for what she was about to see.



"You can do that" she said in a low voice. "You owe him this... "



She grabbed the doorknob, surprised at how it didn't break under her grip and opened the door.



The morgue was lit by white neons, it was cold. She could smell formaldehyde in the air.



A young white coated man approached her asking, "Are you ready?"



Buffy opened her mouth to speak, but she closed it. She closed her eyes, and took a deep breath. She wasn't ready...she was far from ready...but she had to do that.



She opened her eyes and nodded at the man. They got close to the body storage. The man opened one of the drawers, apparently oblivious of her sharp intake of breath.



The body was under a white sheet. She hugged her arms and nodded at the man who slowly lowered the sheet to uncover the body's face.



Her eyes filled with tears. She stretched a hand to graze his hair. There weren't bruises on his face. His handsome face



"Oh, Giles..." she whispered. She leaned down, toward him to place a kiss on his forehead, only then did she see them, the fangs' marks on his neck.



"Oh, no..." she said shaking her head, "Oh, God no...please no..."



She turned toward the man but he was nowhere to be seen. She closed her eyes when she heard the low growl coming from the body on the stretcher.



Giles, or rather the demon that now inhabitated Giles’ body opened his eyes. Buffy watched him slowly morphing in his game face. He smiled at her, showing his fangs and said, "Angel sends his love, Buffy…"



She took a step back, feeling her legs as heavy as leaden, Giles’ slowly got up from his stretcher, he took some steps saying, "He says he will come to you…and he won’t be alone…"



Buffy shook her head quickly reaching the stake she hid under her shirt. Giles stopped and looked at her morphing back in his human face, he smiled at her, and Buffy almost let the stake drop.



His smile…that hadn’t changed yet. It was still gentle, and for an instant she wanted to pretend he was still alive, his harsh words, however broke the illusion, "Are you going to fight, bitch? Or are you just going to cry?"



He smiled again, getting closer to her and said, "It looks like it’s the only thing you’ve been able to do lately, crying…"



He punched her in the face. Buffy felt blood in her mouth, she shook her head trying to get rid of the dizziness and panic which were stopping her from moving.







"Oh, yes…" Giles softly said, as if reading her mind, "I am…and I am so disappointed in you… "



"Shut up…" she whispered.



Giles laughed then asked, "Why? Truth hurts, Buffy…doesn’t it?"



He punched her again, but she blocked it, she had his hand in hers for a second and it was so cold. She couldn’t believe, didn’t want to believe he was dead. She couldn’t believe Angelus had killed him.



"What did I teach you, Buffy? Have you ever paid attention to my words?" he punched her again and said, "I guess not…now, why this doesn’t surprise me?"



"You’re not him…he is dead, now fight and stop talking" she hissed, her voice as cold as ice.



"As you wish…but you are wrong…*you* killed me"



That was the last thing he said, before she staked him. She watched as the body of her watcher, quickly turned into dust.



Her knees gave out and she knelt on the floor. Her eyes burned with unshed tears. She lowered her head, while Giles’ words kept echoing in her mind



~ Angel sends his love, Buffy…~



She closed her eyes, trying to shake away those words. She opened her mouth to sob, to cry for what had just happened, but she was only able to take convulsed gulps of air. The lump in her throat was making hard for her to breath.



~ He says he will come to you…and he won’t be alone…~



She bent on the floor hugging her arms, shaken by silent sobs, yet her eyes were still dry, her mouth wasn’t uttering a sound. The pain, white, dazzling, was too much to bear.



~ As you wish…but you are wrong…*you* killed me ~



A moan, low from her throat, escaped from her lips, followed by another and then another. She covered her mouth with both her hands, while she slowly curled up in fetal position, shaken by sobs.



"No…" she whispered, then louder, "NO!"











-2-



Buffy opened her eyes and abruptly sat on the bed, wiping away sweat from her forehead . She still felt breathless, she tilted her head back, taking a deep breath…she felt like her lungs were on fire…she briefly wondered whether she had been holding her breath while dreaming.



She let out a tremulous sigh and turned glancing at the alarm clock. It was still night, but she knew she wasn’t going to get any more sleep for that night.



She knew in her heart that her nightmare hadn’t been prophetic…but that knowledge didn’t help to placate the trembling of her hands…and the bitter taste of fear and adrenaline she still could taste in her mouth. The fear…the grief…were still flowing in her blood, beating strongly with her heart..



It had all begun when Angel









had killed Theresa. He had sired her, just to send her a message. That had happened a week before…she hadn’t had time to stop and absorbing that news. There was so much to do…and it was becoming hard just to step out of the bed each morning…and functioning…let alone grieving for what was going on.



She left her bed and went to the window. The sky was clouded, she hugged her arms and rested her forehead against the window, needing its coolness against her burning forehead.



The images of her nightmare kept filling her mind.



~ but if it’s guilt you’re looking for, Buffy…I’m not your man. All you will get for me is my support…and my respect ~



She inhaled sharply thinking about that night…and the words Giles had said to her. Both of them had been terribly hurt that day. They had been hurt and betrayed by their loved ones, yet although clearly pained by the truth about Ms. Calendar’s real identity he had been there for her, offering her support and respect.



He had instinctively known what she had needed most. She had needed him to keep respecting her…even after she’d screwed things up. She had needed to know he was still there for her.



Buffy hadn’t stopped thinking about how hurt Giles had been by the truth about Ms. Calendar’s real identity.



She hadn’t thought about it at all…that was the truth. She shook her head, trying so hard to shake away the fear and the heartache that nightmare had given her….but to no avail. Images of her watcher and friend kept coming up in her mind’s eyes…images from both her nightmare and their life together.



What had hurt more about the nightmare was the truth in his words…and the gnawing emptiness she had felt at the thought he was dead.



~ *you* killed me ~



She ran a shaky hand through her hair. She realized she had to see him…not to make sure he was all right…because she felt he was safe…she could always feel it. She needed to see him, even if for a little while…



She needed Giles…and hoped he needed her as well.





-3-



She couldn’t let herself knocking at his door. She just couldn’t. It was ironic, she had left her house to come seeing Giles, but now that she was outside his apartment, she just couldn’t work out the courage to knock at the door. What was with her anyway?



She felt like crying…she felt like shouting her lungs out…she felt so cold. She tightened her coat around her, and took a steady breath, looking around.



It was all so quiet…nothing seemed out of the ordinary, yet it was like she was seeing everything for the first time. She had never realized how intense colors could be, even at night…she had never realized how the silence and the quiet of the night could be deafening.



For the umpteenth time she raised her hand to knock at his door, but she let it fall. She shook her head and hissed through clenched teeth, "I’m beyond pathetic now…c’mon knock at that door and get it over with!"



She was about to knock at the door when she heard something shattering inside Giles’ apartment, there was a short silence followed by a muffled moan, ignoring the knot which had formed in her stomach, she knocked at the door. Color drained from her face when no answer came.



When she knocked again at the door, she realized her hands were trembling and she had to clear her throat before saying aloud, "Giles? Are you there?"



He didn’t answer her. Buffy took a deep breath, trying to calm down.







No matter how much she tried to rationalize her fear, she couldn’t shake it away, she was ready to kick the door open, when Giles opened the door.



She barely resisted the urge to pull him in a bear hug when she saw him







"Buffy!" he exclaimed surprised, distracting her from her thoughts.



"Are you all right?" he asked, waiting for her to come in. She nodded at him while she got into the apartment, only then did she notice that he was holding his right hand against his chest and it looked like it was bleeding.



"Are you hurt?" she asked in a low voice.







"Uh…ah, yes…I broke a cup while washing the dishes…and cut myself…"



"You’re bleeding…" she said gesturing at his hand, blood was staining the cloth he had used to stop the bleeding and some rivulets were flowing on his wrist.







"Yes...uhm…quite…" he mumbled looking down at his bandaged hand.



"Why don’t you …" she stopped and pointed at his hand.



He nodded at her and looked at her arching his eyebrows before muttering, "Yes…why don’t you make yourself comfortable while I take care of this cut?"



Buffy nodded and nervously smiled at him. She waited until he disappeared upstairs before muttering under her breath, "Stupid, stupid, stupid!"



She sat on the couch, hugging a pillow. She turned her head, looking at the window. She wondered for a second where Angelus was…who was he killing right now.



She tilted her head up and closed her eyes. She was so tired, she didn’t remember when last time she had really rested had been. She squeezed her eyes shut, wondering what was going to tell Giles, when he asked her why she was there…because she had no doubts he was going to ask her.



Giles voice surprised her making her start when he asked, "Was it bad?"



"What?" she asked opening her eyes. Giles took some steps and sat next to her on the couch. He had bandaged his hand in record time. She couldn’t help noticing how tired he looked, she wondered whether they all had the same look on their faces since Angel’s turning.



Giles looked at her, raising his eyebrows, before saying, "The nightmare…was it bad?"



Buffy sighed and said, "Bad? That’s a way to put it…another way is that it wigged me out to the extreme…." She paused to look at him, then couldn’t help smiling when she asked, "How did you know?"



"I’m your…" he started.



"Watcher…I know, dumb question…it’s your job" she finished meekly.



"Friend, I was going to say…" he said in a low voice.



Buffy blinked at his words, it was the first time Giles had addressed them as friends. She smiled, while the knot in her stomach tightened, and felt the lump in her throat becoming almost painful.







"Buffy? Are you all right?" he asked concerned.



She nodded her head, she opened her mouth, trying to reassure him she was fine, but all she could do was taking in air. Just like in her nightmare she felt breathless, while a moan struggled to escape from her mouth. She held it back, for as long as she could, but when she felt Giles’ hand on her shoulder she couldn’t help letting it go.



"Buffy…please tell me what happened…what did you dream about?" he asked, brushing hair away from her pale face.



Buffy raised her head and looked into his eyes. She had never noticed how green they were, and how soulful. People always said, eyes were the mirror of the soul…if that was true, the only thing she could see in those beautiful eyes, was the concern and the love for her.



"Was it Angel?" Giles asked, neither of them was aware that his hand was still on her shoulder.



She swallowed, debating whether to tell him about the dream,







She shook her head, "It was you…" she eventually managed to say in a low voice.



~*~*~*~*~



Giles arched his eyebrows, puzzled. He had rarely seen his slayer so worried. When he had seen her so upset, he had imagined she had dreamed about Angelus…now she was telling him her nightmare had been about *him* ?



"Do you want to tell me about it?" he asked. Buffy looked at him, with a look akin of terror in her eyes, but nodded at him before asking, "Do you still have some soda in your fridge?"



Giles nodded, only then did he realize his hand was still on her shoulder, he pulled it away but smiled at her saying, "Perhaps hot cocoa would be better?"



For the first time since she had entered his apartment, she smiled nodding at him.



When he returned in the living room, a few minutes later, Buffy wasn’t sitting on the couch, she was nervously pacing the living room, hugging her arms. Giles settled the tray on the table and waited for her, she was barely acknowledging his presence, he realized from the look on her face that she was struggling against her feelings.



Although at times, he had problems in interpreting her moods, he could always easily read her feelings on her beautiful face







He shook his head and cleared his throat before saying, "Buffy?"



She stopped pacing and looked at him. Giles’ heart wrenched in his chest, she looked so lost, so tired. She was going through so much, and she carried all of it by herself…the grief, the sorrow, the self-guilt…it was too much to bear for such a young woman.







Buffy slowly approached the couch and sat on it, letting out a silent sigh. She took a cup in her hand and sipped the hot liquid, she idly played with the handle’s cup before saying without looking at him, "He had turned you…just like he did with that girl, Theresa, last week…"







He thought, tightening his grip on the cup he’d just taken from the tray, he shook his head and asked, "What happened, then?"



Buffy raised her head and snapped, "What do you think?"



"You staked me, I presume…" he said in a low voice.



"Yep…right through your heart…" she said in a shaky voice.



"Buffy…" he started.



"You said…Angelus was going to come to me…and that he wasn’t going to be alone…" she continued ignoring him, she took a deep breath before saying, "You said…you were so disappointed in me"



"Buffy it’s just…" he said.



Buffy interrupted him continuing, "you…you said I’d killed you…."



"Buffy!" he said more firmly.



She looked at him, wide eyed but didn’t say anything. Giles sighed and said, "It was just a dream…a terrible dream, but…"



"You don’t understand…" she said shaking her head, "except for the you being a vampire part…it was all true!"



"What?" he asked, louder than he had meant.



"C’mon Giles! Look at me…uh? Look at me and tell me you’re not disappointed in me…look at me and tell me I’m not responsible for Theresa’s death…and the death of all the people Angelus is killing and turning since I screwed this up…since I set Angelus free! Tell me it’s not my fault if…"



She couldn’t finish her sentence, she shrugged and her voice was but a whisper when she said, "It’s my fault, Giles…"



Giles shook his head at her words, "It’s not, Buffy...none of us could ever imagine this…"



"This? *This* is me screwing things up, Giles! *This* is me setting a monster free! *This* is me putting your lives at risk…" she shouted. She felt her eyes fill with tears, she shook her head and tried to get up from the couch, but Giles stopped her, grabbing her wrist.



Buffy stopped and looked at him. They both knew that he couldn’t really stop her, not physically. It was the look in his eyes which stopped her.



Her shoulders slumped, she slowly sat on the couch, while Giles’ hand was still grabbing her wrist, but she made no effort to break free. Her eyes were burning with unshed tears, she blinked, wishing the tears would just fall….hoping the ache in her heart would fade that way.



She couldn’t look at Giles, although she wanted to. She could feel his eyes on her, the care and the love for her seemed to fill the distance between them.



"I’m sorry…Buffy, I’m so sorry…."



She jerked her head on a side, looking at him, "You? You don’t have anything to be sorry about…"



"I couldn’t protect you…I can’t…not from this…not from the nightmares, and the memories…"



~ You got a lot to learn about men, kiddo. Although I guess you proved that last night.

What are you saying?

Let’s not make an issue out of it, okay? In fact, let’s not talk about it at all. It happened.

I, I don’t understand. Was it m-me? Was I not good?

You were great. Really. I thought you were a pro. ~

She shivered, while the words Angelus had told her the day after they had made love, repeated themselves in her mind, twisting her stomach.

"He could have killed me while I was sleeping, you know?" she said in a low voice.



"I beg your pardon?" Giles asked.



Buffy looked at him and shrugged, then said, "After he lost his soul…he could have come back in his apartment…and killed me while I was sleeping…but that wouldn’t have been funny…it wouldn’t have been a challenge to him…" she sighed, "instead he chose to break my heart, he…he"



~ How can you say this to me?

Lighten up. It was a good time. It doesn’t mean like we have to make a big deal.

It is a big deal! ~



Her lips trembled, while the tears stubbornly refused to slip on her cheeks, and said, "he took what had happened and shattered it …"



Giles tightened his grip around Buffy’s wrist, on another person it could have been painful, but she didn’t seem to mind, she even place a hand on Giles’ and murmured, "Well…I suppose killing me would have been too easy…he prefers to send me his love, through my friends…"



Giles didn’t know what to say, what could he say to a young woman whose heart had been shattered by the person she loved most in the world? Which words could he use, words which couldn’t possibly sound hollow in both their ears?



He wished he could erase those painful memories. Buffy had never told him what had Angelus had told her when they had met for the first time after he had lost his soul, but he could easily imagine what the bastard had told her, he could easily imagine how he had played with her insecurities.



And Buffy blamed herself. She blamed herself for setting Angel’s demon free. Despite his attempt to reassure her, on the night of her birthday, she still blamed herself….and worse, she thought they blamed her, as well.



He couldn’t do anything to erase the pain provoked by Angelus’ words, but he could try to reassure her, that the people close to her didn’t blame her, so he put his other hand on Buffy’s and murmured, "Buffy, please believe me, this isn’t your fault., none of us, blame you for what happened…. I don’t blame you…I already told you once…you’ll always have my support and my respect…this won’t ever change"



Buffy’s lips trembled, she shook her head, the first tears slowly rolled down her cheeks, she shivered, that didn’t go unnoticed on Giles, who, hesitantly put an arm around her shoulder. They weren’t used to touching each other, outside their training sessions, yet, despite the initial awkwardness it all felt natural. She raised her head and met his eyes.



Giles pulled her tighter to him while silent tears rolled down her cheeks, she closed her eyes when she felt Giles’ chin on the top of her head and couldn’t help asking in a nasal voice, "Can’t you smell it, Giles?"



"W…what?" he softly asked



She sniffed, and nuzzling her face against the fabric of his shirt she whispered, "Blood, death…I reek of them…it’s all around me"



Giles sighed, and tightened his hold on Buffy. She attempted to pull away, but he didn’t let her, he caressed her hair and whispered, " Life…it surrounds you, Buffy…" he softly smiled and closed his eyes before saying, "you smell like vanilla, and wet earth….you are life, Buffy… "



He could feel dampness on his shirt, and Buffy’s warm breath through the fabric of his shirt. He started when he felt her hand on his face, he opened his eyes and met her hazel eyes, she was frowning looking at him.



Only then did he realize that his cheeks were damp too, he had been crying without even realizing it.



"I’m sorry" she whispered pulling her hand away, she swallowed before adding, "about Miss Calendar, about everything…"



He shook his head and hushed her, placing his index finger on her lips. Electricity seemed to flow between them. they lightly pulled away from each other, scared and puzzled by what was happening between them, yet neither of them wanted to stop it, not that night.



They looked at each other, locking eyes, for a little eternity. Time and space around them seemed to froze while the only sounds in the room were their lightly labored breaths.



Neither of them was sure of whom they were any more. They weren’t Watcher and Slayer, or Buffy and Giles.



They were just Elizabeth and Rupert.



In a moment, the sorrow, the betrayal of the past weeks seemed to fade.



They both instinctively knew that what was growing inside them, the need they were feeling for each other went beyond the boundaries of love or even sex.



Giles stretched a hand to softly graze her cheeks, Buffy tiled her head and closed her eyes leaning in his touch.



He stroked a thumb on her cheek, wiping away some tears, wishing he could take away her sorrow with his touch. He was mesmerized by the look in her eyes, by the softness of her skin. He almost started when Buffy stretched her hand to caress his hair, she ran a hand through it making him shiver.



They kept looking at each other, soft smiles playing on their lips. Giles opened his mouth to speak, a flicking of doubt crossing his mind, his duty as Watcher kicking in, his love for her…a love, he was discovering, was stronger than anything, fearing the outcome of their actions, should have they decided to go on.



Buffy silenced him, though, covering his mouth with hers.



He wanted to pull away from her…but at the same time he needed to hold her tight to him. Buffy’s lips were soft and warm, and her taste…was simply inebriating. He trailed soft kisses on her lips, gently teasing them with his but he almost jumped out of his skin when he felt the tip of her tongue brushing his lips. He parted them open, out of surprise, his heart began to pound furiously against his chest when their tongues met, teasing each other, dancing a dance older than time.



He hesitantly stretched a hand to caress her silky hair. He could feel her fingers tracing random patterns on his back, and then raising to caress his hair.



He didn’t realize the kiss had become so intense until she lightly pulled back from him. Her lightly swollen lips and flushed cheeks sent a jolt of sheer pleasure throughout his body, yet he asked real concern in his voice, "Buffy, did I do…"



"Oxygen becoming an issue, Giles…" she interrupted him, smiling, she placed her hand above his heart and whispered, "It’s beating so fast…"



Giles smiled back at her a sad smile, then placed his hand above hers and said, "It’s you, Buffy…"



Buffy didn’t know what to say. She could feel his desire, their desire…the air in the living room was electric. She still loved Angel…her feelings hadn’t changed, but what was happening with Giles was too strong to pretend it didn’t exist.



To say it had been a moment of weakness would have been wrong, it would have been a lie. She had wanted Giles, she had needed him…and she knew he had needed her as well.



They needed each other to stop the pain…they knew they were the only ones who could do that., yet they pulled away from each other.



"I don’t want to hurt you, Buffy…" he said. He craved for her, longed for her kisses, for her skin…and although he could feel she wanted him as well. He felt it would have been a mistake. He would have hurt her…and he’d rather die than hurting her.



"Neither do I, Giles…" she said in a nasal voice. she had read the hesitancy in his eyes, the fear to hurt her. As always he hadn’t even thought about himself. She swallowed and stretching a hand toward him said in a small voice, "C…can you just hold me? "







He nodded at her smiling, and lightly squeezed her hand in his before gently pulling her at him, enveloping her in his arms. She rested her head against his chest with a sigh and he softly brushed her back with his fingers, inhaling the sweet scent of her hair.



"Will it ever stop?" she asked in a low voice after a while, her breath warm against his chest.



Giles sighed, tightening his arms around Buffy’s body, he had to close his eyes for some seconds, when images of Jenny’s smile and the look of love in Angel’s eyes while gazing at a sleeping Buffy replayed themselves in his mind’s eyes, he kissed her hair and said in a low voice, "It will...eventually…"



Buffy nodded against his chest, he could feel tears dampening his shirt, he heard her breath softening, "We will make it…we’ll heal…" she sleepily said



Giles nodded, blinking back tears, he closed his eyes, her soft breath and smell, slowly lulling him to sleep.







~*~*~*~*~





He could see them through the living’s room window. What a lovely picture did they form.



Angelus smiled as the Watcher and the Slayer slept together on the couch, his arm protectively draped around her shoulders, her face half buried in his chest, on both their faces soft smiles.



He had spied on them. He had seen how they had cried into each other’s arms, had smelled their desire, had heard their words.



He grazed the glass of the window and whispered, "Enjoy it, lover…because it won’t last long."



He shook his head and smiled, slowly slipping into the shadows of that cold night



" It will never stop…I haven’t even begun…"



THE END
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