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Do you even notice me any more?
“Does anyone know exactly why we’re here?” Xander asked as he sat fidgeting in the chair.
“Buffy just said be at the Espresso Pump at 3pm,” Willow answered. “She said it was a surprise,” the redhead added.
“She could have chosen a better place,” Giles grumbled.
The Scooby gang was assembled in the local coffee shop, awaiting their slayer to break the news.
“It must be something bad, it’s always something bad,” Anya stated.
“I'm sure it’s not, not this soon after one apocalypse,” Kennedy replied, squeezing Willow’s hand.
“Another,” Xander muttered.
“Another apocalypse. That may have been your first, but it was our…… sixth? Seventh?” He turned to the redhead. “A little help, Will.”
“Err, I don’t know. I've lost track.”
“Well, I'm sure all your questions will be answered shortly,” the Watcher said dryly. When the others looked at him quizzically, he nodded his head towards the door, where Buffy had just appeared.
Willow waved, then frowned. “Who’s that?”
“He is Alex, my boyfriend,” Buffy said, as they approached the table.
The man with her was tall, dark and very handsome. “Just a boyfriend?” he asked, kissing her cheek.
“You kept that pretty quiet, missy,” the wicca chided.
“It just kinda happened, guys. After we stopped the First, I took some down time and we met in the Bronze. Been inseparable since.” The slayer looked at her partner with utter adoration.
“Buffy, I think you should be careful what you say,” Giles cautioned.
“Oh no, its ok, Giles. Alex knows all about me and slayerage and vamps.”
“I see.” The Watcher stood up and walked a little way from the table, motioning Buffy to follow. The slayer kissed Alex, then skipped to Giles, who cringed inwardly. “Buffy, you can’t go telling every Tom, Dick and Harry who you are, just to impress them.”
“I wasn’t, I was just telling Alex,” she said innocently, with a sweet smile.
“Giles, I had to tell him.”
“Because I'm going to marry him. We’re engaged. That’s what I wanted to tell you guys.”
The words hit Giles like an atom bomb. Suddenly the world was just noise and colour and nothing made sense any more. He felt like he could have spent an eternity or two like that, if Buffy’s voice hadn’t brought him back to the real world.
“Giles? Giles!”
“Hmm, oh, sorry. Erm, congratulations. Yes, good for you.” He forced a weak smile, then looked at his watch. “Gosh, is that the time? I'm sorry, Buffy, but I have to go.” Giles caught her eyes for just a moment, taking the time to memorise and swim in them, then abruptly left, leaving Buffy very confused and more than a little hurt. She wandered back to the table, where Xander and Alex were deep in meaningless conversation.
Willow saw the exchange between Giles and Buffy, had seen Giles’ face and his quick exit, and put together a sketchy picture of what happened. “Buffy, you ok? Where’d Giles go?”
“Hmm? Oh, I'm ok. Giles said he had to go, do a thing.”
“So what’s the scoop, Buff,” Xander asked, his face shining with innocence.
Alex stood up and put his arm around Buffy, who looked at all her friends, looked at Alex, and in an instant forgot Giles. “We’re getting married. I'm engaged!!!”
“Wow!! That’s great!” Xander said, hugging Buffy tightly. As everyone congratulated the happy couple, Willow decided that something needed to be done, and soon.

Giles emptied his glass in one go and immediately poured another. He’d been too scared to say anything sooner, and now it was much too late. He was no longer the man in his slayer’s life, no longer the one to comfort her when everything else fell apart.
“Painful, isn’t it?” a voice said softly. “Knowing that she’s not going to need you any more. Seeing her with someone else.”
Giles jumped up and spun round, coming face to face with Angel. “Angel!! What…how…” the Watcher stuttered.
“Buffy rang me last night to tell me the ‘good news’. I came straight over.”
“I see.” He sat back down. “Have you seen her yet?”
“Actually, no. I'm not in that much of a hurry,” the vampire said bitterly.
“What are you doing here?”
“I saw Willow. She’s worried about you.”
“Worried? About me?” Giles took a long drink. “Why? No-one’s ever worried about me.”
“You care for her, don’t you?” Angel said, pacing slowly round the room.
“Willow? Of course, I care for all of …”
“I meant Buffy.”
A long pause. “I see.” Giles sipped his drink and thought carefully about what he was going to say. “Of course I care about Buffy, it’s my duty as her Watcher.”
“That’s not what I mean.”
Giles snorted. “She barely even notices me as a person any more, let alone a man. Besides, up until this Alex showed up, she still only ever had eyes for you.”
“You’re wrong. I saw the way you two were together when those Native American spirits attacked you on Thanksgiving a few years back. When she told me about the Gentlemen, she spoke of how supportive you were and there was love in her eyes, whether she knew it or not. When you were a demon, and she stabbed you … … Giles, she feels more badly about that than anything else she’s ever done. As for me … … we had our time, but it’s over now. She may still care about me – I know I care about her – but that’s just friendship. And after what I did to you when I was Angelus……”
“Yes, well let’s not talk about that, shall we?”
“I’m just saying that after I hurt you, she’d never take me back. If there was a choice between me and you, you’d win any day. Open your eyes.”
“Oh, I can see perfectly well, thank you!!!” Giles yelled, suddenly. “It’s Buffy you should be telling this to!!”
Angel sighed. “Buffy will come and see you over the next few days. She wants to ask you something about the wedding.” Before Giles could speak, Angel continued. “I know because Willow told me, but I can’t tell you what it is.”
“Then why bother bringing it up at all?!” the Watcher snarled.
“Because you need to think about what you’re going to say.”
Giles shot to his feet and swirled angrily to face the vampire. “Don’t you dare tell me what to do!!! The amount of times I’ve had to deal with Buffy when’s she’s upset by something you’ve done…… I think I should know what to say!!!”
Angel glowered. “I’m just trying to help. I don’t want to see her hurt any more”. With that, he turned and left, leaving an air of fury behind him. Giles watched the vampire leave, waiting for a few minutes then hurled his glass angrily at the fireplace. He retrieved another one from the kitchen, picked up the bottle of scotch on his way past and headed upstairs.

“What do you think, Will? Cream, ivory or white?” Buffy asked her friend, as they lounged on the sofa. They were at Buffy’s house, surrounded by wedding magazines and empty chocolate wrappers. Xander and Alex were out looking at suits.
“I thought they were all the same colour. Does it really matter?” Anya asked with her usual tact.
Buffy frowned slightly. Willow answered for her. “It matters to the bride. And they’re all slightly different.”
Anya sighed and went into the kitchen, yelling “Would anyone like a drink?” Both Buffy and Willow yelled yes.
The redhead took the opportunity to talk to Buffy about Giles. When she had seen him leave earlier, then heard Buffy’s news, she put two and two together and came up with the inevitable four. But Buffy was too blind to see this – or was she? “So, Buffy, when are you going to ask Giles the question?”
“Hmm? Giles? Question? What?”
“About the wedding?” she prompted.
“Oh, right. Giles. Wedding. Tomorrow.” The slayer frowned again. “Roses or lilies?”
“Buffy, would you focus for a minute. What are you going to say?”
“To who?”
“Ok, Will. No need to shout.” Buffy sat back on the sofa and seemed to be lost in thought for a moment. “Did he seem … off earlier? He kinda left in a hurry.”
“Who? Oh,” Willow said after the slayer glared.
“He just seemed shocked, and not in a good way. I thought he’d be happy for me.”
“Maybe you should talk to him about it.”
Buffy gave a half laugh. “Me and talking don’t go, Will, we’re unmixy things. And anyway what would I say to him?”
“The truth, maybe?”
The slayer thought that over for a while. She wasn’t even sure what the truth was. She liked Giles. He had been a good Watcher, if a little stuffy at times, and he was always there for her. He was solid and dependable, and she felt safe and loved around him. Wow, back up. Loved? In a friendly, maybe fatherly way, sure. Wasn’t it?
Willow watched the emotions and thoughts play on Buffy’s face, smiling slightly as the realisation started to dawn. The door suddenly opened and Xander and Alex strolled in. “Hiya all!!! How goes the dress hunting?” Xander asked cheerfully.
“At least her boyfriend is paying attention to the dress. You didn’t bother. Have you been giving him tips on how to run away, Xander? It’s what you’re very good at!!”
Before Anya could continue or Xander could retaliate, Willow shooed them both out. “It’s late, you should both go home. Take the bickering elsewhere.”
Alex hunched before Buffy. “You ok, hun?” he asked, smiling sweetly.
“Oh yeah, fine.” Buffy gave him a vague smile. “Tired, sleepy.”
“I should go, then.” He gave her a long gentle kiss. “See you tomorrow?”
“Yeah. Oh, make it afternoon, would you? I have to see Giles in the morning.”
Alex frowned slightly as something played over Buffy’s face at the mention of her Watcher. “Ok, babe. Sweet dreams.”
“You too.”
Willow shut and locked the door after him, and turned to see the slayer half way up the stairs. “You going to bed, Buffy?”
“Me tired. Sleep good,” she mumbled, slightly incoherently. “Night, Will.”
“Night.” The redhead watched her friend disappear, then flopped on the sofa in the living room. “I hope you two sort it out soon, or I’ll have to start banging heads,” she muttered.

Giles was awoken by the sun streaming through his window, sprawled on the bed still in his clothes from the day before. His head felt worse than all the times he’d been thrown around when fighting vamps or demons. Groggily and gingerly, he hauled himself up, stumbled downstairs and into the shower. As he was letting the water soothe his skin, he heard a knock at the door. Swearing, he climbed out of the shower, wrapped a towel around his torso and went to open it.
Buffy was stood there, alone, looking radiant and positively glowing with happiness. Until she noticed Giles in a towel. Nothing but a towel. And to make things worse, he was wet.
Giles noticed Buffy’s eyes widening, but didn’t wait for the inevitable ‘eeiww’ and turned his back to her, muttering “Come in,” as he did so. But his turning around made him fail to notice that ‘eeiww’ was nowhere near Buffy’s thoughts. It was more like she was … … noticing him, and for the first time. She closed the door behind her, but didn’t venture further into Giles’ apartment. Giles had rushed off up the stairs to get dressed. He was the first one to break the silence too. “What can I do for you, Buffy?”
“I, err, we, err,” she stuttered. Get a hold of yourself, girl, she mentally chided herself. It’s only Giles. “I wanted to ask you something. About the wedding.”
The Watcher came slowly downstairs and went straight into the kitchen to make himself a cup of tea. “I see.” A pause. “Would you like anything? Tea? Or, dare I ask, coffee?”
“No, thanks. I’m good.”
“What about the wedding?”
“Why did you run off like that yesterday, Giles? I really wanted you to meet Alex,” Buffy snapped suddenly, almost not hearing what Giles had said.
“I’m sorry, Buffy, but I had things to do. And before you think it, your news took me by surprise.”
“Well, I am allowed to have a life outside of slaying, you know!”
“Buffy, that was uncalled for.”
“No, Giles. For once, I thought you’d be happy for me.”
“Buffy … …”
The slayer stood up abruptly, not only ruffled by Giles’ nonchalant attitude, but also by her own vehemence. Why was she getting so annoyed? “It’s ok, I won’t take up any more of your precious time!” She stalked across the room and flung open the door, barely remembering not to do it too hard otherwise she’d pull it off its hinges. “As for the question, I was going to ask you if you’d do me the honour of giving me away. I could ask my dad, but he’d probably say he was too busy. The day’s supposed to be about family, and the people you love…” Buffy trailed off quietly, realising what was coming out of her mouth. She and Giles had rarely shown affection of any kind and this was more than a little embarrassing. “I have to go.”
“Yes.” His word stopped her, but she didn’t turn. “If that’s what you want, then of course I will.”
“Thank you,” Buffy said, still without turning. She hesitated for a second, then left. As she left the courtyard, she turned and glanced at his apartment. “You don’t notice me any more,” she whispered softly.

Buffy moped for the rest of the day. There was something nagging her, but she couldn’t put her finger on it. After dinner, Willow finally confronted the slayer. “Alright, what is going on with you? You’ve been walking around like a puppy dog with a long face all day and I’m sick of it!”
“Sorry, Will, “ Buffy replied quietly.
“Did ya ask Giles?”
“You could be a little more enthusiastic.”
“We fought. And it was stupid. I just got so angry at him, and he hadn’t done anything,” Buffy said suddenly.
Willow smiled. “And you left without making up?” The slayer nodded. “Maybe you should go over there now. It’s not too late.” She smiled again. “It’s never too late to see Giles.”
“You’re right. Thanks, Will.” Buffy gave her friend a brief hug, then headed over to Giles’ apartment.

It was evening. Giles had just eaten and was about to settle down with a good book when there was a knock at his door. He sighed. If he ever got a moments peace again, it would be a minor miracle. He opened the door and there stood his slayer, for the second time that day. He was more than a little surprised.
“Buffy? What’s wrong?”
“Nothing. I – I just wanted to apologise for earlier. I don’t know why I got so angry at you.” She gave a watery smile.
Giles smiled back, his face filled with warmth and affection. “You have a lot on your mind at the moment. All in the past. Would you like to come in?”
Buffy just stood there, like she was waiting for something. “Well?” she said, after Giles gave a puzzled frown.
“Well what?” he asked, confused.
“Aren’t you going to apologise as well?”
“Me? What for? As far as I’m aware, I’ve got nothing to apologise for.”
Buffy exploded. “Nothing to apologise for? How about being unreasonable for a start?!”
“Oh yes, I can see how agreeing to give you away at your wedding could be construed as being unreasonable!”
“If it’s such a big problem to you, I can ask someone else!”
That cut Giles to the bone and he started to unleash years of anger and hurt caused by the young woman in front of him. “Well, there’s a surprise. I knew you didn’t really need me after all!! Story of my life!!!”
“You’re such a martyr aren’t you?”
“Me? I’m just some … some poor … schmuck who has to look after things for you when you can’t be bothered. I’m the one that picks up the pieces when things get a little too tough for you, or when you’ve run off to some bloke’s arms!!!”
“That is sssooo cheap coming from you!! Mister ‘ooo, now you’ve started college, you’re on your own’, ‘oh, you’re dead, so I’ll just leave Dawn and everyone else to cope of their own cos I’m selfish’, ‘oh you’ve just been ripped out of hell, but you still don’t need me’!!!” Buffy yelled.
“I don’t have to listen to this. I think you’d better leave,” Giles said coldly.
“I’m not going.”
“Giles, why won’t you…”
“You just don’t…”
“… notice me!!!” they both yelled in unison. There was a long silence as the light of understanding between them began to dawn. But it s too late. Buffy risked a brief glance at Giles’ face, say the hurt in his eyes and ran. She knew she was proving him right, but in that instant, she didn’t care. Giles watched his slayer run off, saw the anguish in her eyes, but was powerless to stop her. He was rooted to the spot, unsure of how long he stood there, roused only by a soft, low voice.
“I’ve never known anyone to cause so much love and so much pain in one go as she can.” Angel emerged from the shadows.
“You heard the whole thing?” Giles’ voice was raw with emotion.
“Only the last part.” He walked slowly around the courtyard. “You should tell, Giles. Tell her what you think, what you feel.”
“Why? What good would that do? She doesn’t notice me anyway, as a person or as a man.”
“Then make her see.”
“Why?” he asked, utterly dejected.
“Because I heard what Buffy said too – you don’t see her either. You two need to talk and if you don’t do it soon, you’ll both regret it forever. And believe me, forever’s a long time.”
Giles remained silent. He heard Angel’s words, but his mind was far away. The vampire saw this and decided it was time to go.
“You have every right not to listen to me, but I know I’m right. I’m heading back to L.A. tonight. Good luck.” Without another word, he disappeared into the night.
Giles stood in his doorway for another half an hour before he stepped inside and shut the world out.

Willow could tell as soon as Buffy came through the door that things had gone badly. The ranting that followed proved that theory. “He is so unreasonable!! He accused me of running away anytime things got tough, leaving him to pick up the pieces, when all he does is disappear when I need him the most!!!”
“Did you tell him this?”
“Yes! Then he had the cheek to say that I don’t notice him, when it’s clearly the other way around!!” Buffy stomped into the kitchen. The redhead sighed and followed.
“Buffy, why has Giles suddenly got you so ‘grrr’?”
“He doesn’t notice me, Will. Doesn’t see who I am, or how I feel…” she left that sentence trailing.
“So why don’t ya tell him, you big dummy?” Willow said affectionately. “He ain’t gonna know if you don’t say anything. And before you say anything,” she added, as Buffy opened her mouth, “I know you don’t do talking well, but this is Giles.”
“Maybe you’re right, Will. But I don’t think it’s such a good idea until I’ve sorted out what’s going on in my head.” She sighed. “I’m going to bed. Night.”
“Night,” Willow said, shaking her head in despair.

A week passed, and not a word passed between Watcher and slayer. In fact they didn’t even see each other. Giles launched himself into reading and doing some work repairing the Magic Box, while Buffy worked almost manically at the wedding. But stress signs were beginning to show. One day, Buffy and Alex were arguing about the wedding.
“You’re being unreasonable!!” Alex yelled angrily.
“Giles would agree with me!” Buffy retorted, then her jaw dropped in shock as she realised what she had said.
“Then maybe you should go be with granddad then!” Accompanying Alex’s words were a realisation, and both hit Buffy like a lightening bolt. She looked at Alex, then at her left hand. Another part of her took over, and she started to act like she was in a daze. She took of her engagement ring and held it out.
“You’re right, Alex. Maybe I should be with him. But whatever happens, I know now that I shouldn’t be with you. Please take your ring and leave.”
“Gladly, bitch,” he growled, snatching the ring and storming out. Willow appeared at the top of the stairs when she heard the door slam
“Everything ok?”
“I think so. I just broke up with Alex,” Buffy said, still feeling dazed. “I’m sorry, Will, I have to go and see Giles. Be back in a bit.” With that she walked out.

Buffy reached Giles door before she snapped back to reality. The dawning realisation of what she had done and what she was about to do froze her to the spot, and she found herself quite unable to move or even speak. She gave up Alex……… for Giles? She was searching for why that should be wrong, but all her instincts said it was right. She only hoped he could forgive her for everything, at least.
Giles was in his kitchen making a pot of tea when he suddenly stopped. He wasn’t sure why, but he found that something was drawing him to the front door. Cautiously he opened it, to find Buffy stood there like a statue. He switched instantly to Watcher mode and scanned her from head to foot to check for damage. His eyes paused on her left hand, which was now ring less, and he too froze. What seemed like an eternity passed between them before they both spoke at once.
“Would you like to come in?” Giles asked.
“We need to talk,” Buffy said. They both looked at each other and smiled, breaking the tension slightly.
“Come in. I just made tea, would you like some?”
“Please,” she replied, closing the front door.
That made shock number 2 for Giles. “Are you ok, Buffy?”
“I think so. I hope that in a while I’ll be more than fine.”
Giles brought the tray with tea on into the living room, and they sat at opposite ends of the couch. “You wanted to talk?” Giles stuttered after a few moments. He always stuttered when he was nervous. He always stuttered when he was nervous. Buffy found it annoying before, but now it was cute.
“Yes, talk.” She took a deep breath. “Giles, I’ve never been good at the talking thing, as you know, so please bear with me. I mean, give me a demon and a vampire to kill and I’m quite…”
“Oh, right, sorry. Talking.” She sighed. “I broke up with Alex.”
“There’s someone else.”
A lump formed in Giles’ throat, and he found that it was his heart. “Do I know him?”
Buffy couldn’t resist teasing him a little. “How do you know it’s a him?” Giles gave a good impression of a fish in response. “Yes, you know him. He’s a very intelligent, kind, gentle man, who’s always been there for me.”
“For a moment, I thought you meant Xander, but then you mentioned intelligent,” Giles said dryly, getting his own back.
Buffy hit him playfully with a cushion, and mood in the room improved greatly. “Don’t be mean. And no, it’s not Xander. This man has always been there for me, as I was saying, and he’s never let me down, though I’ve let him down many times.”
“No, you haven’t,” he whispered.
Buffy didn’t hear him. “And up until recently, I didn’t notice him. I always saw him as a person, but never before as a …… man. That’s sounds stupid,” she said, frowning.
“No, it doesn’t. Continue,” he croaked.
“I always thought that he never saw me as anything other than a silly little girl. I know now I was wrong. I know that he sees the woman I am, and always his done. I now see the man that’s always been there, and wonder why I didn’t see him before.”
“Buffy…..” Giles stopped. He so desperately wanted to say that he had always seen her, always … loved her, but he was too afraid that she wasn’t talking about him, that she was in some way going to hurt him again.
She slid across the couch closer to him, and looked him straight in the eye. “Right now, that man is wondering whether I’m talking about him or not. I can see it in his eyes……in your eyes, Giles, wondering if this is real.” She slowly lifted her hand and gently placed on the side of his face. Giles leaned into it slightly, wondering if he was suddenly going to wake up from this dream.
“Buffy…” He tried again.
The slayer placed a finger on his lips, while still caressing his face. “Giles, let me finish. I know I’ve hurt you, and I’m sorry. I want to make it up to you now, please don’t tell me it’s too late. And don’t doubt this – I know what I’m doing. For once, I have no doubts at all that this is what I want. Please don’t turn me away.”
Giles trailed his fingers across Buffy’s face, leaned forward and kissed her forehead. “Buffy, I would never, could never do that. If I ever did, I thought it was for your own good. And if this is what you really want, well then I……I welcome your decision with open arms.”
There was no need for words. Buffy leant forward and tenderly kissed Giles on the lips. He was shocked, but recovered quickly and responded equally as gently. As they parted, something snapped inside Buffy and she started to sob. Giles remained silent, just gathered her close to his chest and held her, stroking her hair. As she let more and more pain and anguish out, he felt himself snap, and tears began to roll down his face. They stayed like that for ages, both releasing so many years of hurt, and slowly their tears turned to ones of joy of being together.
Buffy raised her head once. “That’s the first time I’ve been able to do that in a long time. I finally feel like I truly belong somewhere.”
Giles gave a watery smile, kissed her again and held her close. “I hope this is the time for a new beginning for us both, my love. From now on, I’ll always notice you, Buffy Summers.”
“And I you, Rupert Giles,” she sobbed happily.
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