Summary: Willow's not dead, but she'll be okay with that.
Fandom: Buffy: The Vampire Slayer
Characters: Willow/Giles, Buffy/Giles
Disclaimer: ME's, not mine
Original story: Needs by 47_trek_47
Away Grief's Gasping (The Resurrection Remix)
Every night, when she closes her eyes, dreams of her sins are waiting for her. In her dreams, she kills. In her dreams, she succeeds. Xander doesn't come, no one does, and she wins.
In Willow's nightmares, she murders the world. In her days, she's haunted by the ghosts of those still living. She feels guilty and thinks that's supposed to be a good thing. Giles tries to tell her that it is, but she's not sure. Waking up with a stomach full of knots and a throat choked with terror makes it hard to believe.
She sits up in bed, soaked with sweat, and looks at her hands. In the dark of night, the sweat shines like blood.
"Willow," says Giles. His voice, sleep-fogged and lazy, wraps around her like an embrace. She lets herself lean into it, feeling some of the tension draining away to be replaced by guilt.
She shouldn't be happy. She shouldn't.
"Don't." Giles' hand wraps around hers, drawing her back down to the bed. The moon is obscured by clouds, leaving the room darker than usual and his eyes are hard to see; black pools in the night. She shivers.
A light flicks on.
He squints past her, looking at it. His expression gentles further. "Willow. Again?"
Willow nods and shifts, her hips nudging her closer to the warmth of Giles' body. She doesn't tell him what she dreamed. She can't. This bed and what's between them has become her sanctuary. She won't sully it anymore than she has to. She can't stop the dreams, they follow her here, but she won't voice them. She won't speak their horrors into the night. "Again," she admits.
He curls his fingers around hers, squeezing gently. She tries to smile, feels it shaking on her lips. "It will pass," he says.
"It shouldn't." She looks at their entwined hands. "I can't let it."
Giles sighs, kissing her fingertips. His mouth brushes her skin, making her shiver, and lingers. He kisses each finger in turn and then brings her palm to his mouth. Willow closes her eyes, making a soft noise of pleasure as his lips speak the words into her skin. "Not yet."
He looks at her with loving eyes. "Eventually, you'll forgive yourself. You can't just yet."
She can't ever. It's what the dreams keep reminding her. If she forgives, if she forgets, then she becomes vulnerable. She did it once. She lost control, let herself get lost in her rage, and she murdered. It's easy with magic; with the power she still feels singing beneath her skin, calling to the remnants within Giles.
Willow shakes her head. "No, I can't." She leans forward, kissing him. He smiles against her lips, allowing himself to be distracted as she pushes him backward. She closes her eyes, sees him in Tara's place, lying in her arms and bleeding his life away, or on the floor of the Magic Shop with her standing over his corpse.
She remembers the feeling of power unleashed, surging unchecked through her body. Intoxicating and tempting, even now. Giles' hands move over her, sliding beneath the sheets, and she hums.
"You won't, you know," he says, lips on one breast, his hand on the other. His mouth slides over her, wet heat and clever fingers teasing her nipples erect. She squirms closer, seeking more of both.
"Won't?" asks Willow. She knows what he's saying, but can't let herself believe it. She pushes her fingers into his hair, moving forward. He nips at her skin, the tiny flash of pain making her hiss.
"You could," says Giles. He pulls away, looking up at her. "You easily have the power, Willow, but you won't."
She frowns. "How do you know?" Brushing her fingers across his lips, she pictures them still in death; feels her heart lurch, sick at the thought. "If I lose – "
"You'd remember," says Giles. He smiles, thumb sliding over her collarbone. His fingers stroke her neck, slide up into her hair and curl into the red locks. She lets him pull her off balance, lets him roll them. She arches into the bulk of him settling against her, lets the sensation ground her. "It's not freedom, Willow. Not truly." He kisses her. "Merely delayed judgment in the worst sort of hell."
"Would I care?" asks Willow. "I didn't before. Not until you – " she grins. "Until you tricked me."
He chuckles. "You would have remembered. Given the time. I just sped it up."
She closes her eyes, thinking of the pain and the balm of rage burning away everything that was her. Willow consumed by fire and replaced by ashes. "Maybe," she says.
Giles looks so confident she can almost believe it. She breathes out and touches his chest, pressing her palm flat. He shivers and his eyes darken. "I almost killed you."
"But you didn't," says Giles. "You've owned what you did, Willow. Celebrate what you didn't." He leans down, kissing her forehead. "Let yourself feel the relief. You've certainly earned it."
She looks at him. "I thought you'd brought me here to kill me."
He nods. "So you've said." Giles shifts his weight, leaning on one elbow beside her. "Willow – "
Willow silences him with a look. She needs to say this. "I kept waiting for it. I imagined how it would happen, what it would feel like. If it'd be quick, if I'd know, or – " she inhales, shaking off the thought. "I thought it was the right thing to do, but then you were so..." She grins. "Not homicidal."
Giles rests his head against her shoulder, laughing. "Not lately."
"Someone did this for you once," says Willow. "After Ripper?"
"In a way," says Giles. "Though, I must admit, we certainly didn't end up like this." He looks up, gesturing to their bodies and the tangled sheets. "Must say, I didn't see this coming."
"No," says Willow. "But it was a nice surprise." She bites her lip, worrying at it for a moment. "I can't forget, Giles." Again, she touches his chest. This time, she lets herself remember the sheer bliss of drawing that power out of him. She had ripped it out of him without thought to the consequences, not caring what it did to him, and now the memory made her sick. "If I do – "
"No one is asking you to forget, Willow." Giles covers her hand with his. "They are scars you must carry; as I carry mine. You'll learn to live with them and the lessons that they've taught you."
The phone rings and they look at it, Willow twisting to look over her shoulder. It's Buffy. Even across the miles, she can sense her friend's apprehension and the myriad of emotions beneath it. "You should answer," she says. "She needs you."
Giles touches her chin, turning her to face him. "You need me more."
She leans forward to kiss him. "I need you, but Buffy needs her Watcher." She thinks of the other calls, full of Buffy's impassioned pleas and Giles' reasoned refusals. She's not supposed to know about them, but she does. She isn't supposed to know about the reason for it, but she knows about that too.
"She's just confused," she adds, pressing the phone into his hand. "She'll understand in time." Willow smiles. "Tell her that, the same way you tell me." She pauses, glancing down at her nude body. "Well, not exactly the same way."
Giles smiles briefly, then exhales heavily. His guilt is apparent. "I made a terrible mistake, Willow. I thought – " he shakes his head. "We aren't the first to cross that line, but...I was wrong. It wasn't what she needed."
The phone continues to ring, shrilling between them. "And it wasn't what you needed," she adds. "I know." She feels his needs, his wants, and his desires every time she touches him. Knows, now, that she rests at the center of them. Of all her doubts, what she's doing in Giles' bed, and Giles' life, aren't among them.
"Talk to her, Giles," says Willow. She would resent it, be angry about what Buffy's trying to take, but she can't. She understands only too well what Buffy's feeling, wanting what can't, and should never, be yours.
She throws back the covers, kissing him before she gets out. "I'll make tea."
Giles catches her hand, stopping her from going. She turns back, looking at him. "I won't be long," he says, his gaze begging her to understand. "I just – "
She nods. "I know." Pulling her hand free, she picks up one of his shirts. "I'll be waiting." Buttoning the shirt, she leans down again. His lips are warm and dry beneath hers as she reaches between them, pressing the button on the phone. "Good luck."