Buffy woke to the smell of coffee and, behind it, buttered toast. She blinked. Watery morning light filtered through opened shutters. Rain spattered on the windows. Unfamiliar windows: Giles’s windows. Giles’s bedroom, Giles’s bed. And that was Giles sitting on the edge of the bed stroking her messy hair away from her face.
“Good morning,” he said, as if they woke up this way every morning.
Buffy sat up, clutching the sheets to her body. “Mmm. What time is it?”
Giles laughed, and leaned toward her with a coffee cup and saucer in his hand. Buffy let an undignified whimper escape her lips, and reached out more greedily than was compatible with Slayer dignity. They’d been up late, late even for a Slayer. So late it probably counted as early.
The coffee was good, and that was real cream in it. The right amount of sugar, too. Giles had been getting her coffee right for years, though he groused about the sugar, and she had been getting his tea right. Some things didn’t change, even though they were in a ridiculous house in the Wiltshire countryside instead of in a school library in southern California. She wondered if Giles still favored the Darjeeling, if he still abused a dart board to practice with his throwing knives, if he sharpened the knives on the nights when he didn’t clean his guns. She’d wager her best boot knife he did.
Buffy drank the coffee Giles had made her, and reflected with no little satisfaction that she’d be sharpening blades with Giles again soon. And probably getting to use them. Rome had been lovely, but it had no vampires. The only demons were the safe civilized urbane kind, well-dressed and tame in bed and eventually boring. Though she’d miss the clothes. The leather pants she’d had made just before she’d flown here were the most amazing things. For the first time in her life, she got the fitting like a glove thing. Giles hadn’t seen her in those pants yet.
Buffy smiled from behind the shelter of her coffee cup, and drank the sugary dregs.
“Coffee to your liking, then?”
She stuck her empty cup out of the way on the nightstand. She knelt up in bed and stretched, taking care to arch her back, in proper sex-kitten style. One hand ran through her hair, and the other kept the bedsheet in place over her breasts. Giles’s eyes were on her, and he set his own coffee cup down on its saucer without looking away. Buffy let herself smile again and turned to the toast Giles had made. Lots of butter, a little marmalade.
“Stacked, the way toast should be. Not in those rack things I kept getting in hotels.”
“What’s wrong with toast racks?”
“They’re sadistic. The toast gets cold and the butter gets all congealy. Ick.”
“Ah. I shall burn all my toast racks immediately.”
Buffy swallowed her mouthful of toast and said, “How many do you have?”
“I’m sure there’s one somewhere in the kitchen. If not, I’ll buy one just so we can burn it.”
“Good. Buffy approves.”
Giles caught her hand, buttery fingers and all, and kissed her fingertips. He’d shaved, it seemed, before making her breakfast in bed. And a good thing too, because Buffy’s lips and chin were chafed from his stubbly kisses last night. And so were the insides of her thighs. That thought made her blush. She looked over at Giles, covertly, to see if he’d caught her, but he’d turned away and was pouring himself a little more coffee from the carafe.
He was just as handsome this morning in a black robe as he’d been last night in his jacket and tie. Strong jaw, great cheekbones, lovely green eyes. When had he become so yummy? Probably he’d been that yummy all along, and it had taken a year away from him to make her see it. She probably still wasn’t finished re-seeing him as he was.
She remembered him last night in his study, on top of her so unexpectedly, heavy and hard and insistent. Though never inconsiderate of her pleasure. Oh, no, never that. It had been memorable. She’d had lots of sex before. Good sex, bad sex, boring sex, twisted sex, sweet sex. But never before had she been up all night having sex like that, feeling as if it would be impossible to get enough of her partner. And he’d felt the same. All night long, until the long east-facing windows over his bed had grown light. Only then had Buffy let herself curl up against him, head on his shoulder, and sleep.
“What are you thinking?”
Caught looking. Buffy improvised. “Are you going into the city today?”
“Ah, no. I have already rung my staff to tell them I’ll be taking the rest of the week off.”
Buffy raised her eyebrows. That was surprising and gratifying. “So what’s on today’s work-free agenda?”
Giles made a face over his coffee. “I had been thinking of taking you riding.”
“It’s raining in buckets.”
Buffy pouted. “We’ll have to stay inside.”
“Yes, I rather think we must.”
“Whatever shall we do?”
“I’m sure we’ll think of something.”
And they shared a look that convinced her that their two hearts beat as one on this topic. Giles had exactly as many regrets as she had about last night. Which was to say, zero. The Geiger regrettage counter was completely failing to click. Though, wait. Where was her dress? She liked that dress. Right, the floor of Giles’s study. Her panties? She couldn’t remember where those had ended up. She hadn’t done a lot of thinking in the minutes after Giles had taken them off her.
“I think,” she said, slowly, as if pondering the question deeply, “that you should take off that robe and get back into bed. We can wing it from there.”
The corner of Giles’s mouth twitched up in a tiny smile, and he set his cup down on the breakfast tray. He stood and shed the robe and dropped it on the bed. Mmm, nude man. Relaxed and ready. Buffy dragged her eyes and mind away from the obvious place to enjoy the rest of the view. Nice chest, not too much hair on it, broad shoulders. Giles was a big guy overall, and there was no hiding it when he was out of those horrible layers of tweed. Middle-aged manly man, that was Giles. Powerful in the ways that mattered. He could throw a punch hard enough to break jaws and shoot a gun to kill when he had to. Sexy.
Buffy folded back the sheets and granted him a rewarding glimpse of nude Slayer. Giles climbed in next to her, and leaned his head on an elbow. He’d been looking at her breasts the whole time.
“Now I have you where I want you,” Buffy said.
She sprang out of bed and leapt for the robe. Mmm, plush. On it went. Giles dove for the sash, but Buffy dodged out of his way and knotted it around her waist. She headed for the bathroom, waving goodbye to him over her shoulder. Giles had shaved, after all, which was cheating, so she could brush her teeth and nobody could grudge her that. She hopped into the shower for a quick rinse-off while she was at it. She was sticky in unusual places. Giles had been unexpectedly wild. Had he poured wine onto her breasts last night and licked it off? Yes, he had. It had been the most amazingly weird dark amber wine, too, much sweeter than Buffy had thought wine could be, from a chunky little bottle. They’d drunk it from tiny glasses before Giles had gone into pervy mode with it. Though he’d followed the nipple-licking stunt with some other tongue stunts that Buffy felt he could repeat any time he wanted.
Say right now.
Out of the shower, toweled dry with one of Giles’s gigantic towels. Or his uncle’s towels; most of the luxuries in this house Giles had inherited, if she understood the story right. His uncle must have been quite a guy. Luxo towels, wine in the cellar, swords, guns, horses, paintings of demonic dogs. Nice bathrobes, though probably this was a Giles thing, given the robes she’d seen him wearing back in California.
Buffy put Giles’s plush robe back on and made her way back to the bedroom.
Her man was in bed now, blankets folded neatly at waist level, with a newspaper. The morning crossword? That was hardly romantic, especially because he wasn’t bothering to look up at her as she came up to the bed. He was scribbling a solution to one of the clues, in pen, the cocky bastard. He’d always done the Sunnydale Herald crossword in pen, usually with a stopwatch ticking next to the paper.
Buffy leaned her hands on the edge of the bed, casually, just hard enough to make it shift.
He said, not looking up, “I need a four-letter word for ‘feel the heat, engaging a battle’.”
Buffy blinked once, twice. “I’m wounded that you weren’t waiting for me to get back.”
Giles capped his pen. “I braced for your usual morning ritual. An hour and my hot water boiler emptied.”
“Had an incentive to make it fast this morning.”
An eyebrow raised, completely and utterly suggestively. Buffy matched it as best as she could.
Giles set pen and newspaper aside, not breaking her gaze. He reached for the end of the sash and this time she let him get it. He pulled slowly and it came untied. Buffy shimmied and let the robe slide off her shoulders and down to the floor. Oh yes, she had him.
Buffy slipped into bed next to Giles and pulled the blanket up over her shoulders. She trailed her hand down his chest to his navel, down lower. She ran her fingertips through the fuzz on his belly, which, thank God, was not another one of those ridged washboard abs deals, waxed bare weekly. It was plush, like his robe.
She said, “Feel the heat. Huh. Four letters?”
“Never mind. Whoa.”
Giles was on her again, seizing her and rolling her underneath his body. And he’d gone right back to where they’d started last night, with kissing. Long deep kisses. He eventually wandered away from her lips, though, to explore other places. Her neck. Her breasts. A little bit of teeth, a lot of tongue, and great care taken to give equal attention to each one. And his knee was thoughtfully placed between hers, so she could get some bonus friction from his muscled thigh. Nice and hard. Riding muscles?
“Mmm? Everything okay?”
“I was thinking–”
Buffy cuffed his shoulder, careful not to hit hard enough to interrupt. “I was thinking of heading back to Rome on Monday.” Giles froze. Buffy kissed the top of his anxious little head, which was all she could reach just then. “Just for a couple of days. I have to pack all my clothes and have them shipped here. But then I had a better plan. I’ll stay here, and Dawn can pack my stuff.”
His shoulders relaxed. Buffy rubbed the back of his neck a little bit to encourage him to start kissing her breasts again. He took the hint and she rewarded him with a happy sigh. Then he said, “That’s a dreadful plan. Your year off has obviously dulled your edge.”
“Watch it, mister.”
“Because obviously the best plan would be for us to go to Rome together and have your clothes shipped by someone else whilst we play tourist.”
Making love in the warm Roman mornings, drinking wine in the warm Roman nights, being snuck into secret corners of ancient buildings so her man could smooch her in the hot Roman days: this sounded good to Buffy.
“It’s probably not raining there,” is all she said to him.
“Mid-week,” he said. “A stop in London first. There’s a dressmaker I’d like you to visit.”
“Why on earth are you interested in my clothes? You only ever snark about them. Cats on my feet, forsooth. No, I haven’t forgotten that one. And wait, why not in Rome? I know a place.”
Giles shifted his weight away from her and rocked himself up to kiss the end of her nose. “This can’t be something outré. Simple, white, properly English, with lace in the usual places.”
Lace in the usual-- “What, are you writing our marriage vows already?”
Giles held himself motionless over her. “Marriage vows are not something one writes, you absurd woman. One recites the traditional ones.”
“Do I have to promise to obey you? 'Cause it isn’t going to happen.”
“Ah. Perhaps we shall write our vows after all.”
“I’m not changing my name, either.” She wrinkled her nose at him. “Would be weird anyway, to call you the same thing that’s on my driver’s license.”
“I do have a perfectly good first name.”
“Which we shall never mention again.”
Giles’s shoulders shook in one of his quick silent laughs. “That’s settled then.”
He sat back on his heels and threw the blankets back from his shoulders. Buffy shifted herself on the pillows and spread her legs to give him room to kneel. He lifted her hips and set her into place on his thighs.
Buffy pointed a toe at the ceiling in a nice slow stretch, then delicately placed her foot on Giles’s shoulder. Taking a Slayer to bed and then asking her to marry you had some payoffs that she wanted to remind him about. She had the flexibility and stamina of a gymnast and she had some uses for them beyond just killing demons. Come to think of it, he had been the one to teach her how to do the gymnastics.
Giles bent his head down to kiss her toes, then trailed his fingers down her leg, from ankle to thigh, and further. His gaze followed his fingers. Along, around, between, to the secret places. He liked what he was seeing. Uncomplicated appreciation for her body. Giles liked all of her. That was good. Sometimes men had been freaked out by how strong she was, how obvious the muscles were when she took her clothes off. By the idea that she could beat them up if she wanted. She and Giles had moved past that one, because she’d beaten him up at least twice before.
God, they were weird.
He entered her slowly this time, a hand guiding himself in, the other bracing himself, his eyes on her body. Buffy watched his face. He was intent, solemn, completely unaware she was watching him. He rocked his hips to settle himself inside her body and there it was, what she’d been waiting for, that eyes-closed surrender to pleasure thing she’d seen him doing last night. That was the biggest surprise of all.
He seemed content to stay just like that, kneeling between her thighs, joined with her, eyes closed. Buffy ran her hands up his thighs, from his knees to the place where her legs were wrapped around him. Fuzzy legs, nice legs, and a firm butt. He’d look good in a morning coat and those striped trousers, assuming he was thinking mega-traditional. Any excuse to see him dressed up. Not at the moment, though. Naked was good right now. Fancy clothes for weddings, no clothes for sex.
“You going to buy me a ring?”
Giles’s eyes snapped open. “'Course I’ll buy you a ring. Several. As many as you like. I draw the line at buying you one for your nose, or whatever body part it is that you have most recently pierced.”
“Do you see anything pierced? No, you do not.”
Giles stroked a hand over her belly and traced his forefinger around her navel. It tickled, and Buffy giggled.
“Oh lord, it’s wonderful when you laugh,” he said.
Then he shifted back and away from her body, but only long enough to lie down on his side next to her, his arm under her head. Buffy wrapped her leg over his thigh and he slid himself inside her again. She sighed and squeezed him, just a tiny bit. He felt good moving with her like this. Honestly, all sex felt good, even the twisted kind, but sex with Giles was a number of things Buffy could list that were in addition to good. Last night, intense and surprising. At the moment, comfortable. He fit inside her just right, and this position was perfect for kissing. Slow mellow kissing, from a man with his eyes half-shut and a silly-happy look on his face.
Rainy-day sex, cozy. Sunshiney sex might be good too. Honeymooning in Italy would be nice. Maybe somewhere in one of those villas she’d spent a weekend at with the guy whose name she’d already forgotten, the motorcycle racer. He’d been vapid. Never read a book in his life, and she’d been able to tell even when he’d had his mouth shut in bed. But that villa had been gorgeous.
“Rome? Next spring?” she said.
“Too long to wait. Fall. In the church in town here.”
“People will say we’re rushing into it.”
“Rushing? How long have we known each other?”
Buffy counted, and was surprised by the answer. “Eight years.”
“We’ve taken our sweet time.”
And they were taking it now. Leisurely morning sex. Had she done this before? Not exactly. She’d always been too impatient, or her partner had, or there’d been some excuse for why it had to be over fast. Giles seemed to be prepared to take all day. Which, okay, would probably be too long, but why not spend the rest of the morning like this? Slow slow simmer. She sighed and ran her fingers through Giles’s hair. A nice haircut he had these days. What had he called it? Posh, and he’d shaken his head dismissively. Dawn would squee over it when she saw him, though.
Uh oh. Dawn.
“What am I going to say when Dawn asks me how you proposed to me? I can’t just say you did it while we were f–”
Giles kissed her hard, sticking his tongue into her mouth deeply and completely without invitation. He pulled back and kissed her again more gently, and Buffy kissed him back, mollified.
“I’ll make giving you the ring memorable,” he said.
“Oh, now we’re down to just one ring.”
Giles glared at her adorably, but continued as if she hadn’t spoken. “None of your American flim-flam or public displays of nonsense. But you will want to tell Dawn the story of how I put the ring on your finger. I promise you that.”
“Holding you to it.”
“Oh, God, I-- Buffy. Truly?”
His face had changed completely, and he looked uncertain of himself for the first time since she’d barged into his study last night. Buffy took a deep breath and put all of herself into her answer.
That was what he’d needed to hear. He clutched her to him almost hard enough to hurt, touched his forehead to hers and just held her like that for a while. Then he abruptly let go of her and pulled away. He knelt straight up in the bed and wiped a hand over his face. Too much emotion too fast; Giles hadn’t changed in that department either. He’d need more time to process everything.
Buffy stretched her arms up to him and he lay down with her again. On top of her this time, in the traditional manner, her legs wrapped around his waist. A warm solid weight over her, inside her, around her, kissing her hard now. He was moving with intent, intent to give her pleasure, to take pleasure in her, to bring them both to the edge and over. Buffy met him halfway, lifting her body to meet his, her arms tight around his shoulders.
He shifted and buried his face in her neck. Kissing, licking, kissing again. He found the place where every vampire she’d ever slept with and some she hadn’t had bitten her, just there on the side of her neck. And he bit her. That sent Buffy right over the way it always did, her big secret that Giles had apparently taken one night and one morning to discover, and he was biting hard, oh boy oh boy, Mister Hidden Depths was taking her on a ride. And going right on it with her.
“Mine,” he said, in her ear, and he was almost growling. Buffy had never heard Giles like this before. “Mine,” he said again and followed it by thrusting into her hard and holding himself there and coming.
He stayed there for a long while afterward, breathing with her while they both came down from it, brushing his lips against her neck, nuzzling her ear. Buffy stroked his back. His skin was damp with cooling sweat.
He rolled off her and onto his back, and blew out a long breath. Buffy sat up and retrieved the blankets from the floor where they’d been kicked. She spread them out over Giles, who was rubbing his forehead. He touched her arm.
“Everything all right? I wasn’t too, er, Neanderthal?”
“I enjoyed primitive Giles. You can go all bone club smashy on the toast racks.”
“I’ll be sure to, ah, grunt while I smash.” Giles yawned wide enough to show her all his teeth. He covered his mouth with the back of his hand belatedly. Buffy smiled down at him fondly. Yawning Giles. Yawning fiancé.
She said, “We’ll kill the bad toast racks later. Nap now.”
He lifted an arm to her. Buffy tucked herself under it, head on his shoulder, and snuggled in. Rainy mornings were good.