Games in the Dark
Part 3 of 5

"Will you stop that confounded racket, I'm coming?" Giles yelled as he stumbled down his stairs to the front door. As he reached the entryway, he looked over at his clock, 6:30 am. "This best be very important or heads will roll!" He said loudly as he opened the door.

His face didn't even register the slap until Willow had already forced her way into his home.

"Yes...and a good morning to you too," he closed the door and rubbed his cheek as he turned to his unanticipated guest.

"How could you?" Willow's face had an expression of rage he'd never seen before and hoped he'd never see again.

"Nothing happened," Giles on pure instinct went into defensive mode.

Willow stepped forward and punched him in the arm. "I know! Why not?"

"What?" Giles asked with complete puzzlement. He decided this conversation needed to be carried out in the comfort of a cozy chair or couch. Since all his chairs where covered with books, he settled for the couch. "Willow, what is it your on about?" he took a seat and offered her to join him with an inviting motion of his hand. She did angrily.

"Buffy came home all crying and heartbroken last night and it's your fault," Willow pointed demandingly at him.

"Tea?" Giles offered as he stood up and walked toward the kitchen.

"Yes please," Willow accepted courteously. "But don't think it'll diminish my anger here. Oh and some of those wafer-like cookies please." She smiled then quickly converted her expression to her previous anger. "You did wrong Giles."

"Willow, please don't take this the wrong way..." Giles put the kettle on and began to pull out the required supplies, "But what the hell are you doing here? I'm in quite the mood..."

"Buffy was here last night, was she not?" Willow asked in an accusatory tone.

Giles smiled at her grilling, "Yes."

"She spilled her guts to you and you buckled, you caved in like a flan in a cupboard?"

"Quite...I suppose..." Giles chuckled, "What business is it of yours Willow?" he looked though the open counter area to her, oddly enjoying her snooping.

" have your power back. Most of Sunnydale is still out," Willow quickly returned to her angry face and continued to confront Giles. "Why didn't you sweep her into your arms and make wild passionate love to her?"

Giles raised and eyebrow at her query, "Willow...I value your opinion and trust your intuition on many matters..."

Willow jumped up, "She loves you Giles."

Giles rolled his eyes and concentrated on setting the supplies on his tray. "Buffy doesn't love me... not in that way...she's confused."

"No...she really loves you Giles. And I know you love her. You do, don't you?" Willow's forehead crinkled with worry that she'd assumed too much.

After a moment of serious consideration, Giles knew he couldn't hide his feelings from the strong-headed young friend. He nodded slightly and Willow face lit up with excitement.

"And she loves you!"

"As she would any parental figure or close friend I'm sure." He searched for the milk.

"As in her wanting to have serious smooches with you in the romantic darkness of Sunnydale's first power outage since 1956, Giles. She loves you with all her mature adult-sized heart and well-thought-out soul...and you rejected her." Willow stepped around the couch and into the kitchen. "Tell me what happened. I want to understand here Giles but I just can't."

Giles froze in his preparations and turned to Willow with unreserved astonishment. "She...she loves me?"

"Giles...I care about you. I might even go as far as to say I love you. But you are as thick-headed as, something really think-headed." Willow took the cup from his hand and set it on the tray. "You guys have something special, something worth fighting for. Don't make me go all bad-ass Wicca on you!" She could see Giles mind churning to comprehend the news he'd just been given. "Giles, Buffy loves you with all her heart and has since the prom."

"Wha...w-why?" He stared befuddled at Willow, needing some explanation.

"God Giles...why does anyone love anyone?" Willow reached out and took his trembling hand, feeling for the first time it was appropriate to take such an intimate action toward him. "Go to her, make her happy, make you happy...for once in your selfless lives."

Giles gazed into Willow's determined eyes and smiled. "Thank you!" He gently cupped her chin and briefly kissed her full on the lips. Her face flushed with awkward gratification.

"Um...not me...Buffy remember?" She smiled uncomfortably.

Giles nodded, "Buffy, right. But I have to admit that Tara's a lucky young lady." He said teasingly and smiled as Willow rolled her eyes from his innocent flirtation. "I'll go as soon as I can. I feel I should freshen up a bit before seeing her."

Willow nodded and walked to the door, pausing just before opening it. "Oh, actually..." Willow suddenly shied quiet.

"Hmm?" Giles waited for Willow to continue.

"She kinda prefers you a bit...well, scruffy and laid-back. Says it makes you look almost human." Willow spoke hesitantly, unsure of how Giles would take her suggestion.

"Almost human? As opposed to?" Giles asked frankly.

"Super Bookman, Captain Watcher or the Amazing ex-Librarian guy able to tackle large mounds of research with a single pot of tea, faster than a glaring hairy eyeball..."

"Got it...thank you. Something Xander said of course?"

"Yeah...I would never..." Willow grinned and opened the door. "Go with jeans and the unshaven look and I guarantee there'll be heavy petting. I can't believe I'm giving you relationship advice." She closed the door and Giles turned off the stove, trying to figure out a way to get Buffy to forgive him. 'Well, I'll have the rest of our lives to make it up to her.'

That evening...

"Slamming back a few eh Slayer?" Spike came up beside Buffy, taking the stool next to her at the bar. "I'd figured you for a diet coke or decaf fat free latte type myself. Not the bleedin' rat piss Willy serves up in this dive."

" stuff is all fresh from the butchers, except for the beer which is imported from the mystical lands of Milwaukee." Willy objected and continued to restock his shelves.

"Go away Spike," Buffy sipped her beer, staring gloomily at her reflection in the mirror.

"Oh hell, what is it now? Bloody Judgment Day? Sometimes I really hate living on the Hellmouth."

"It's good for business," Willy offered.

"Sod off!" Spike barked and Willy disappeared into he back.

"I'm two sips away from introducing you to my pointy friend?" Buffy said as she twirled the stake she had displayed for all to see.

"You itchin for a fight Slayer? Cause you're gonna get it if you keep up this attitude you've got goin'." Spike warned.

"Bring it bleach boy!"

"Not me, luv. Anyone else comin' in here might just see you as asking for it." Spike leaned forward and examined Buffy's depressed expression. "You are aren't you?"

"Leave me alone Spike," Buffy chugged the rest of her beer and slammed the mug down.

"Uh...does Giles know where you are? Not that I care or anything but I don't fancy loosing my principal means of income over the rash behavior of a drunken Slayer."

"Giles? Who's Giles? He doesn't exist!" Buffy slurred her words enough to make Spike realize just how smashed Buffy was.

"Right. What'd he do...take away your crossbow, make you run laps, make you write 'I will not love a vampire' a hundred times on the chalk board, give you a stern looking-at?" Spike chuckled at the thought of what Giles could possibly have done to get a rise out of the Slayer.

"He loves me," she slammed her fist down to get Willy's attention. Willy peeked around the storage room door and nodded as Buffy motioned for another beer.

"Yeah...and?" Spike waited for her to finish the statement.

Willy slid over a new pint.

"He won't let me...damn him!" Buffy eagerly took up the fresh beer and sipped.

"Let you what?"

"Love him! God you suck at listening!"

" love Giles?" Spike was taken aback.

"Yeah, but he doesn't believe me. Stupid Watcher!"

"You love him? When did this happen? I mean...I knew you were close but, shit!" Spike's mind tried to work out the dynamics of the situation; he just didn't see this one coming.

"He's such a...a prude! That's it. He's so uptight."

"You love him?" Spike asked, unable to accept the news.

"Yes already. But it doesn't matter." Buffy gulped down half her beer.

It wasn't enough Spike had managed to rid the situation of Riley and get Buffy closer to him then ever before and now the Watcher steps into the mix and throws all his plans to shit. Sounded like the old bookworm put the stopper in the romance but Spike wasn't about to take any chances. He needed to nip this possible romance in the bud, bury it like so many corpses lying around Sunnydale. "Hey, got an idea to win him back luv."

"What?" Buffy swayed on her stool to his direction.

"Make him jealous!"

"Yeah...right. How?"

"I don't know," Spike waited a deliberate second before continuing. "Got could be caught kissing someone else."

"Like he'd even notice."

"We could make sure he saw it."

"Fine...who?" Buffy sipped her beer.

"It should be someone that would really piss 'em off. Someone he could never imagine you with."

"That would be him then, cause he won't let me." The drunken Slayer whined.

"Not what I had in mind. How 'bout me?" Spike tried to veil his smile behind his pint of blood. 'Rupert old boy catches one glimpse of his girl making it with another vampire and he's gotta turn tale and run off back to the mother country. Human hearts can only take so much beatin' until they burst,' Spike smirked at the thought. If anyone knew about human hearts it was Spike, he'd become quite the connoisseur.

Buffy glared at him, "What?"

"He can't stand me. You planting a big wet one on me in plain view would drive him into a jealous rage. He'd probably steal you away into the night, music comes up...happy ever after and all that crap. The end." Spike smiled. 'Or he'd die of disappointment!'

"I must be drunk cause this makes sense," Buffy chugged the rest of her beer and tossed a wad of cash on the bar. "Let's go. We've got a Watcher to piss off!" She grabbed Spike's arm and began to drag him along. The satisfied vampire grabbed the cash and followed her out, ready to put on the best show of his life to crush the heart of that pitiful bloke unlucky enough to fall in love with his girl.

Part 4...