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Willow was curled in her bed, clutching a pillow. She didn’t know how long she’d been asleep, but she could still feel the sting of salty tears in her eyes. Her mind searched groggily, trying to find what had awakened her. It was coming from the roof outside her second floor window. The soft plucking of guitar stings forming into a rolling melody. She stayed still and listened, the memory of the last time this happened all too clear in her mind. But his voice soon joined with the music… soft, tentative, almost unsure. Not the luring voice of the demon. The voice of a man, trying to sing what he knew he couldn’t say.
If I could save time in a bottle,
The first thing that I’d like to do.
Is to save every day ‘til eternity passes away,
Just to spend them with you.
If I could make days last forever,
If words could make wishes come true.
I’d save every day like a treasure and then,
Again, I would spend them with you.
Willow felt no need to fight the beautiful pull of his voice this time. She moved, silently, as if floating on an unseen cloud, toward the window.
But there never seems to be enough time,
To do the things you want to, once you find them.
I’ve looked around enough to know,
That you’re the one I want to go through time with.
Her tears began again, but not from sorrow. Did he really mean what he was singing? After everything, was she truly all that he wanted? His guitar sang through the bridge, it communicating his lonely pain like nothing else ever could.
If I had a box just for wishes,
And dreams that had never come true.
The box would be empty, except for the memory,
Of how they were answered by you.
But there never seems to be enough time,
To do the things that you want to do, once you find them.
I’ve looked around enough to know,
That you’re the one I want to go through time with.
Giles picked out the last few cords, the last note still vibrating as he moved to go. But a feather-light hand on his arm stopped him. He didn’t look back, afraid to see what might be in her eyes. “Willow, I…” his words came out in an unsteady breath and faltered.
“That was beautiful,” she once again came to his rescue. “I don’t think I’ve ever heard it before.”
He dared to turn, and almost drowned in the unconditional acceptance he found gazing back at him. “I-I learned to play it a long time ago,” Giles explained, not knowing what else to say. “All the girls always seemed to like it. I’ve… I don’t think I ever understood what it meant until tonight. Funny, now that I have an eternity to live, I’m thinking about time.”
Willow smiled uncertainly. “Did you sing it just because you thought I’d like it? Or is it really how you feel?”
“I sang it because I needed you to know I love you. No matter how far I have to go, no matter who or what forces us apart… I needed you to know that the thought of you will get me through any hell. The chance that you could waste your love on a fool like me…”
She wiped a tear away with the back of her hand. “It’s not wasted, Giles.”
He cupped her cheek, his thumb caressing the soft skin of her face. Then turned away to go again.
“Aren’t you coming in?”
Her loose grip on his arm felt like an unbreakable shackle. “I can’t,” he whispered.
“Oh,” Willow suddenly chuckled. “Giles, I invite you in.”
It wasn’t exactly what he meant, but the unexpected humor of it brought the shadow of a smile to his lips. Before he could resist, she was pulling him inside.
“Please, Luv. You know I have to go. I left Ethan to gather everything we’ll need for the trip.”
“Ethan,” she raised her eyebrows. “And you think he’ll be there when you get back?”
Giles did smile at that. “No, I don’t. But I figure he deserves a chance to disappear. What’s coming isn’t his fight, and he took very good care of Dawn while I could not.”
“We are talking about the same Ethan, right?” Willow smirked.
“The very same.”
“So, your plan was to sing me a song and then make your escape, huh?” He dipped his head, ashamed. “But now you’ve been caught. What if I don’t want to let you go?”
“Willow, you know I need to find answers for Buffy.”
“I’m not saying ever. I’m just asking for one night.” She draped her hands loosely behind his neck.
Giles gently slid his fingers tenderly along the silky skin of her arm. Until they came to a set of fading bruises that perfectly matched their size and shape. The memory of how they came to be there flashed brutally into his mind. He jerked away, hiding his downturned face from her with eyes clenched shut.
“Giles, what’s wrong?” she asked as gently as she could. All he did was shake his head, so she placed a light hand on his hunched shoulder. “Rupert?”
He glanced at her, the use of his given name sounding so sweet from her lips. “I don’t understand,” he nearly keened. She was clearly confused. “How… How can you tolerate me touching you?” He lifted his hand, staring at it in disgust. “How can you stand having these cold, dead things near you? Any of this disgusting…” The vampire was on the edge of breaking down.
Willow stepped around in front of him and took the hand in both of hers. “Because they belong to you,” she said, kissing one finger and then another. “Because it’s all you.” She continued, her velvet lips caressing his palm, the sensitive bend of his wrist.
Another memory assaulted his mind as she continued. “I should be on my knees, begging your forgiveness.”
With a sweet smile, Willow softly asked, “Do you want to be punished?”
He stared into her knowing eyes, remembering the conversation from only weeks before, though it seemed like a lifetime ago. “I wish to be Rupert Giles,” he said his line in a whispered breath.
“You are.” She reached out to trace the curve of his face. “In the end, we all are who we are, no matter how much we may appear to have changed.” Willow leaned forward, ghosting a kiss across his lips.
Giles gazed at the sliver of floor between them, still afraid to touch her. “I don’t know if I can do this.”
“Then let me,” the beauty before him breathed, her hands flowing down his face, his neck, to the buttons of his shirt.
Nothing was rushed, there was not one hurried movement that night, as they explored each other. Each memorizing the other’s body, as if it were the only chance they’d ever have.
Dawn sighed happily and leaned back against the wall. She had her eyes closed when Buffy came upon her. “What are you doing sitting on the floor in the dark hallway?” the older sister asked.
“Shh,” Dawn whispered. “Giles is being all romantic. It’s so cute.”
“Giles is in there?” Before Buffy could reach the door, her sister was standing in front of her.
“He came to see Willow.”
“I know. I just want to ask him--”
“Buffy, don’t disturb them. Besides, the way things are going, you might walk in on something you really don’t want to see.” The Slayer’s nose wrinkled at the thought. “They both need this, and you know it. Come on,” Dawn took her by the arm and headed for the stairs, “Let’s give them some privacy. You still owe me a slaying lesson before school starts anyway.”
Buffy let herself be drawn way. “I just need to know if he’s…” she murmured.
Her sister sighed. “He’s about the go halfway around the world and ask the people who tried to killed him for help, just to get information you need to know about what might be coming. Doesn’t that sound like he’s forgiven you?”
“No. It’s sounds like he’s being Giles.”
Dawn shook her head as she opened the door into the night. Without having to look, she called out, “Hey, Spike, wanna go with us on patrol.” The vampire appeared on cue.
“Sure you’re up for this, Nibblet?”
Buffy rolled her eyes at them both. “Oh, yeah,” Dawn continued conversationally. “How’d work go tonight?”
“They fired me,” the Slayer replied matter-of-factly. “I’m thinkin’ it’s about time we go with the plan to auction you off as child labor.” She laughed at the younger girl’s worried look. “Don’t worry. We’ll be all right.” Pulling her jacket on, she sniffed at the sleeve. “I’m just hoping the next job I find won’t linger so much.” The three disappeared together into the darkness.
Giles stared up at the ceiling, a beautiful woman resting peacefully on his chest. For the first time since his death he fell content, at peace… warm. It was as if she had torn the hideous memories from his mind and cast them aside. He had found heaven in his hell. The heaven of her arms.
Willow stretched her body along his and moaned happily. She lifted her head to look into his eyes, quietly studying him for several moments. A thought brought a surprised expression to her beautifully flushed face. “Giles… You didn’t bite me.”
“No,” he smiled. “It seems you were enough. Everything I needed.”
“Really?” Willow turned her eyes away shyly, but he hooked her chin and brought them back.
“Everything and more,” he whispered, leaning forward to kiss her. With a wicked twinkle in his eyes, he add, “If I were Angel, I’d be evil right now.”
Willow knew it wasn’t funny, but the thought sent a shiver of heat through her weary body. She began to think again, worrying her bottom lip.
“What is it, Luv?” Giles asked, seeing she was mulling something over in her mind.
“I… I was just…” She frowned, “Would you be mad if I told you I kinda wanted you to bite me?”
He didn’t say anything. Only slowly pushed himself up on the bed to be able to see her better. Gently cupping her cheek, he finally asked, “Willow, why would you want a thing like that?”
“Because,” she brought her hand up to the still healing wound on her neck, “Spike said he could smell the claim on me. Any vampire or demon can. He also said it wasn’t yours, it was his… Magister’s.”
“Spike,” Giles growled.
“I don’t want his claim on me,” Willow continued softly. “I want everyone to know I’m yours.” The vampire’s eyes began to glisten with moisture. “Spike also said that all the magick in my blood would make most vampires sick, but, because you and I are the same, my blood was probably the sweetest thing you’ve ever tasted.”
A tear escaped when he blinked. “I’ve never craved anything more,” Giles confessed. “But…” he shook his head.
“Even if I want you to?”
“I can’t bite you, Willow,” he whispered pitifully.
“What if you don’t have to?” She raked her nails across the old wound, ripping away the scabs and letting her blood pool at the surface of her skin. Snaking her arms around him, she gently guided Giles’ face into the crook of her neck.
His broad tongue drifted across her flesh, collecting the crimson droplets. As he slowly wrapped himself around her, licking and suckling at her neck, Willow was enraptured. It was the most erotic thing she’d ever experienced. Even after having just spent hours making love to this man. He clutched at her, holding her tighter as if afraid she’d somehow vanish. She could feel his sharp fangs scrape along her tender flesh, yet never penetrate. An exquisite ache grew in her with each passing moment.
“Rupert,” she breathed huskily. “Make love to me again…”
They lay together in a heap of tangled limbs and sated flesh. Holding on to each other as their time ticked cruelly away. The singing of the birds welcoming the dawn outside was the most hateful sound Willow had ever heard.
“Do you have to go?”
Giles kissed the top of her head. “If I don’t want to be trapped by the sun.”
“There are worse places to be trapped,” she whispered lightly.
“Go to sleep, Luv. When you wake, this will all have been a wonderful dream.”
“As if I could keep my eyes open…” Willow snuggled into his solid chest. “Sing me to sleep?”
“But my guitar’s on the other side if the room.”
“You don’t need it,” she murmured drowsily.
Giles hugged her to him. “Anything for my lady…” Then he began to softly coo the first song that came to his mind.
Lady… I’m your knight in shining armor, and I love you,
You have made me what I am, and I am yours…
The smell of breakfast lured Willow to the kitchen much sooner than anyone expected to see her. It was her stomach that announced her arrival. Three sets of eyes looked up at her from the table.
“Hey, Wills,” Xander smiled. “You look better. You have a good night last night?”
Willow blushed profusely, and Buffy elbowed her friend in the ribs. “Xan-der!” she groaned.
“I didn’t mean… I was just trying to…”
“It’s alright,” the redhead smiled. “Yes, I had a wonderful night.”
“Is he gone?” Dawn asked softly.
Willow nodded, swallowing the sadness that wanted to come. “He and Ethan should be on their way now.”
“They’ll be back soon,” the girl tried to comfort.
Xander snorted, “They… You really think we’ll ever see that guy again?”
“Of course, I do. We’re everything Ethan needs, but is afraid of having.”
“What? A bunch of people who are willing to kick his butt?”
“No,” Dawn said sincerely. “A family.”
None of the supposed adults had an answer to that. After a moment, Willow looked at the Slayer and said, “He, um, he wanted me to tell you, Buffy. He found it. The answer to your question is, yes. And he said, when you need him, he’ll be back. Same as always.”
Tears gathered in Buffy’s eyes. Knowing she had Giles’ forgiveness felt like being let out of a prison cell. But she frowned at Willow. “What about when you need him?”
A wicked grin crossed the witch’s lips. “Then he’d never get to go anywhere…”
Xander screwed up his face, but before he could make the inevitable disgusted remark, Spike came barreling through the back door.
“Spike!” Buffy yelled, more upset that he’d startled her than anything. “What are you doing here?”
“Nibblet invited me.” He winked at Dawn. “Said she wanted to spend her last day of freedom thrashing me at every game she could think of.”
“Hey, I thought we were gonna play,” Xander groused.
“It’s more fun with more people,” the teenager stated. “And I just spent more than a week wrangling a moody vampire and a chaos sorcerer. So don’t think I can’t make you two behave.”
Willow and Buffy laughed, and Spike put his hands up in mock surrender. The vampire crossed behind Willow on his way to check the refrigerator. He inhaled close to her neck. “I see someone claimed herself a big, bad vamp last night,” he purred.
The redhead’s hand shot up to the new bandage at her neck, her blush back in full force.
Xander griped, “What is it with vampires and sniffing?”
“So, you gonna tell us all about the new beau?” Dawn grinned, ignoring him.
“Kinda the best friend’s right to hear all about it,” Buffy chuckled. Then, with a hint of a frown, added, “Only, not too many details. He is still my Watcher, and some mystery is a good thing in that relationship.” Everyone laughed, nodding in agreement.
To be continued in… Magister 3.