Title – Slowing Down
Author – Rumidha
Timeline – Post an AU Season 4
Rating – PG
Challenge – For Gileswench: Giles going into full excited geekmode over something he's researching, a purple piece of clothing, a public romantic gesture. Wench Additions: Wesley, a checkbook
Feedback – Would be lovely, thank you! And actually, bring on the flames! I'm interested to see what people are going to come up with. Constructive criticism will, of course, be genuinely appreciated, but flames will just make me laugh my ass off, so please, send them my way!
A/N – My very first fic! It's unbetaed because I'm not entirely comfortable with the idea, but if my writing appears to need a beta, then a beta I shall get!
2nd A/N – The title is taken from a quote from Lily Tomlin. "For fast-acting relief, try slowing down."
3rd A/N – This is the last one, I promise! There is a VERY UC ship in this. I'm sorry, it's the only way I could work in Wesley!
Disclaimer – I own diddly. I own squat. Diddly squat!
Quick, quasi-A/N - If anyone knows how to get asterisks to show on this wretched site, could they please let me know? Thanks ever so much!

Giles could see her out of the corner of his eye, debating as to what her next move should be. He waited, wary of whatever she would decide to do. Ordinarily, he trusted this woman with his life, but with what was at stake, he could afford to take no chances.

"Giles?" The sing-song quality of her voice did not bode well for him. "Hmm?"

"You love me, don't you?" He was taken aback. How far would she go to win? There was no choice but for him to play along and see what happened.

"Of course I do sweetheart, you know that." Now what was she going to do?

"So, you want me to be happy, right?" He could not believe what he had just heard. Was there no stopping her?

"Oh for God's sake Buffy, if the last jelly means so much to you that you'd go to such great lengths to get it, then just eat the bloody thing!"

Buffy beamed at him, delighted with his capitulation. "Thank you, Giles."

He waved his hand in dismissal. "Oh, go on and eat it already. You look as though you want to ravage it. In fact, you've only looked at me like that once or twice. I'm rather jealous."

She grinned cheekily at him, her mouth already full. After swallowing carefully, she retorted, "Once ravaging you involves jelly goodness, come talk to me." Buffy finished her donut and proceeded to rest against the trunk of a conveniently located oak tree. Once she was comfortable, she turned to talk to the man she loved only to find him gazing intently at her. "Sweetie, what is it?"

"You really are happy, Buffy?"

Completely flabbergasted by the question, it took her a second to gather her wits together.

"Well, duh, Giles! You took me on a romantic picnic! You took care of all the food! And you did a way better job than I would have. If you'd left it up to me, we would have had peanut butter sandwiches and potato chips. But you brought cool food! Like, the egg rolls! And mini-quiches! And cheese with crackers, nuts, and other things that I ate a lot of but can't remember, and then the sweet stuff! Strawberries, peaches, and, and jelly donuts! And you, you actually let me have the last one! Seriously Giles, this whole afternoon has been exactly what I needed. After everything with Adam, the Initiative, the First Slayer, finals, and moving into your place, which I'm really happy about by the way, I've just been so completely stressed out! There's also been a serious lack of quality boyfriend time. But, I've gotten my fast-acting relief. I slowed down. And I am perfectly happy."

The dazzling smile he wore made her melt. "I'm glad. That was my intention. Now, if you have no objections, I'm going to get comfortable." And with that, he lay down with his head in her lap.

Both Watcher and Slayer sat in companionable silence, Buffy lovingly running her fingers through Giles' hair. Giles reveled in the unexpected massage until a few minutes later, when the intensity increased dramatically.



"Is everything all right?"

"Of course it is, why wouldn't it be?"

"Because I fear you'll do permanent damage to my skull the way you're going."

Buffy guiltily withdrew her hand. "Sorry. My thoughts were just wandering, and they ended up at what happened this morning. All I wanted was a freakin' checkbook and instead, I walked in on, on, on that."

The front door of 1630 Revello Drive was opened and then shut again very softly. Even though Buffy Summers, world renowned morning grouch, was up and functioning at 8:00 on a Saturday morning, there was no need for her mother to be. She would just grab another checkbook from her mother's desk and leave as quietly as she had come.

Had it not been for the shriek that tore through the house, Buffy could have just collected her checkbook and been gone in five minutes.

She grabbed a sword from the weapons chest at the foot of the stairs and charged toward her mother's bedroom, intent on destroying whatever had attacked Joyce.

The bedroom door swung open with a satisfying crash and the Slayer stormed in shouting, "All right, whatever you are, I'm gonna kick your . . . AHHHHH!"

Two more shrieks, both human, sounded with hers.



"What the HELL is going on? Mom? And . . . WESLEY?!"

He smiled sheepishly at her. "Yes, hello, Buffy."

Joyce glared at him, then turned to face her daughter, who was still standing in the doorway looking decidedly put out and brandishing a sword in a manner that made Joyce just a little nervous.

"Buffy, you realize that I don't owe you any explanations? This is my life, and I'm quite happy with what I'm doing. But, because I love you, I'll tell you. Wesley and I have stayed in touch since he left Sunnydale. I visited him in the hospital after your graduation, and we got to talking about art. It turns out that he knows as much as I do about the subject. So, after he left, we started writing to each other. At first, it really was just about art, but then we started talking about anything and everything. Then, we realized that we had both developed feelings for each other, and he came here last night so that we could see where we wanted this to go. One thing led to another, and, well, you can see for yourself what happened."

"I certainly can."

The sword that had gradually been lowered to the ground during the course of Joyce's little speech was suddenly raised and pointed directly at Wesley.


"Mom, let me do this." She then addressed the ex-Watcher in question, who had been watching the proceedings warily and was now wondering if he would make it out of the room alive.

"All I have to say to you is that if you hurt her, the only thing I can promise is that your death will be neither quick nor painless. Understand?"

He nodded fervently, and suddenly, Buffy was all smiles. "Good! Okay Mom, I'm gonna go, and I'll talk to you later! Love you!"

Joyce waved at her. "Love you too, sweetheart. Have fun today."

She sedately walked out of the room, down the stairs, and out the front door before breaking into a run for Giles' apartment. Giles was never going to believe this!

"So, yeah. It's just really, really weird to think about Mom and Wesley together. I mean, it's Princess Margaret!"

"Now Buffy, that's not fair. You know I've been talking to Wesley ever since he left Sunnydale. He's no longer the man you knew a year ago. His time in LA has matured him a great deal, and I feel that he and Joyce will be good for each other. Don't you want your mother to be happy?"

She sighed. "Of course I do. You're right, I'm not being fair to them. I'll be accepting and supportive and everything a good daughter should be."

Giles raised an eyebrow at her. "Does a good daughter threaten to kick her mother's boyfriend's ass?"

Buffy smacked him. "Hey! You know actually, Wesley reminds me a little of you?"

He eyed his girlfriend carefully. "Does that mean you want to kick my ass? Should I be worried?"

She smacked him again. "No! I just think that you and Wesley are kinda alike! I guess it comes from you both being Watchers that got fired. You were Watchers to begin with, with all the Watcher-like qualities, then you grew backbones and became normal people! At the cost of your job, but hey, a salary's overrated. Although, you should be doing something about that. It's not good to be unemployed."

The man in question was indignant. "It's not as though I'm a complete layabout who sits around and twiddles his thumbs all the live-long day. Anyway, before you started to berate my lack of a solid means of support, you were comparing me with Wesley. Pray, continue."

"The research thing! You guys go nuts when something new comes up that you have oodles of time to research. It's like your birthday and Christmas all rolled into one!"

"The information I look up can and has saved lives!"

"Ah, if you treated it that seriously, then it'd be fine! But you go into full on geekmode when you have the chance to do in-depth research! It's ridiculous! And, it was the cause of our first fight."

"Trust you to remember."

The sound of a voice babbling excitedly came through the door to Giles' apartment two seconds before the owner of said voice.

"Oh my God, Giles, you have absolutely no idea how very, very excited I am about tonight! Now, I know you wanted it to be a surprise and all, but can you please at least give me an idea about what I should wear? I mean, how am I going to know what to wear if you don't help me . . . Giles, why have your bookshelves exploded?"

The Watcher remained immersed in one of the many volumes scattered through his living room.


No answer.


Still no answer.


He finally looked up from his book and smiled distractedly in her general direction, failing to notice the mutinous look on her face.

"Hello, Buffy. I'm so glad you told me about the commandoes that you ran into on the way to deal with Oz and Willow. I've been researching all morning, and it's just so exciting! I haven't had something like this to research since the Ascension! And this time, I'm the only one researching! I get to do everything! And imagine Buffy, what if there really is a military presence in Sunnydale? Think of how that affects us! Oh, I'm going to be researching for days!"

Eyes narrowed and lips pursed in anger, Buffy stalked over to his desk, grabbed the book out of his hands and hurled it across the room.

Giles leapt up out of his chair, completely outraged. A book! She had potentially damaged a book! In his flat! In front of the other books! There weren't enough words for him to sufficiently express his indignation.

She pointed an angry finger at him. "Don't you start with me Giles. You PROMISED me that we would be having an amazing night on the town, come rain, snow, demons, or apocalypses! But, I guess your precious commandoes are more important than your girlfriend. Fine! Let's just see how warm they keep you on a cold night!"

With that stinging diatribe, she bolted from the room.

Blinking in confusion at the events that had just transpired, all Giles could be certain of was that he was in heap big trouble.

Buffy laughed. "God, I was just so, SO mad at you! I mean, we had only been on one real date since we became a couple. Then a whole boatload of crap happened. Kathy, the roommate who was literally from hell; Spike trying to kill me; Gachnar; that whole Cave-Buffy nightmare; and Veruca. We had had cuddle time and that was it. And what with you promising that this would be the date to end all dates, I was so beyond psyched. Then I come to your place and you've turned into Tweedy Book Guy and completely forgotten about me."

Giles smiled ruefully. "I felt like such an idiot after you stormed out of my flat. I had completely forgotten about our date. And I had no idea how to make it up to you. I called Willow in a blind panic and she came up with the entire thing. Poor girl, it took her mind off Oz for a bit."

"Yeah, well her plan was brilliant."

"I don't WANT to be at the Espresso Pump. I want to be at home, wallowing in my misery. I'm a good wallower." Buffy pouted at her friends, hoping that they would just let her be.

"No, no can do Buff. The Xand-man's doing double duty tonight, cheering both you lovely ladies up. But, he's not Super Xand-man, which is why he needs caffeine to help."

Willow perked up a little bit at that. She hadn't realized that her getting caffeine was part of the plan. "I get caffeine?"

A gentle smile was the response she got. "In whatever form you want. Espresso, frappacino, latte, you name it. As for you Miss Summers, I'm thinking a big chocolatey mocha is exactly what you need."

Oooh, a pout would probably win her whipped cream! She said as much, and Xander grinned. "Well, duh! In fact, I'm thinking creamy, chocolatey mochas for us all! I'll be back in a few minutes. I wanna get back before tonight's entertainment starts."

Buffy looked up at him. "Is that why we're sitting up front? Because the entertainment's supposed to be really good?"

Xander shrugged. "That's what everybody's saying. K, time to fetch the caffeine!" And with that, he was off.

Willow flashed a tiny smile at her blonde friend, who had put her head down on the table and was just being very miserable. "Poor Xander. He's being such a good friend to us. The dateless freaks. We've got different reasons for this happening, but the outcome's the same. We're dateless freaks."

"Yep. No argument from me. We'll probably remain dateless freaks for the rest of our lives." With that fatalistic pronouncement, she went back to her wallowing. The table remained silent until Xander returned with the mochas.

"Mocha for you, mocha for you, and mocha for me! There, we're all set and just in time, cuz I think tonight's entertainment's about to begin! Yay!"

Buffy looked askance at the mocha-provider. "Xander, are you sure the caffeine didn't get to you? I mean, you are WAY too excited about this."

The mocha-provider's best friend just glared at him. He was gonna mess this up if he wasn't careful! "Maybe caffeine sensitivity is contagious?" It was Xander's turn to glare at Willow. What kind of cover-up was that?

Luckily, Buffy remained oblivious. "Whatever, let's just get this show on the road."

The lights in the coffeehouse dimmed and the crowd quieted as a man walked into the spotlight with his guitar in hand to sit on the stool that was awaiting him.

The two friends held their breath in anticipation of Buffy's response. She sat staring open-mouthed at the front of the room, unable to believe that it was Giles. After gawking for what seemed like an eternity, she eyed her friends carefully, taking in the lack of surprise and the eagerness which they were barely able to conceal. "I take it you both are behind this?"

"Yep. Trust us, you're gonna love it," Xander said, taking her hand with his. "Now watch."

"Hello, everyone. Ordinarily, I'd be doing an entire set, but that's not the case tonight. Tonight, I'll just be doing one song. I was an insensitive boor today, and I hurt someone very dear to me with my thoughtlessness. My performance is only one of a number of things I'll be doing to make up for it." And then, he began to play.

The opening chords of the Lifehouse song were very familiar to Buffy; she had bought their CD when it released after graduation and had played it incessantly since then. Giles had asked to borrow the CD several weeks earlier, and she had never remembered to ask for its return. For that, she was so very, very grateful.

Find me here
And speak to me
I want to feel you
I need to hear you
You are the light
That's leading me to the place
Where I find peace again

You are the strength
That keeps me walking
You are the hope
That keeps me trusting
You are the light to my soul
You are my purpose
You're everything

Was that really how he saw her? Did she really mean that much to him?

And how can I stand here with you
And not be moved by you
Would you tell me how could it be
Any better than this

Tears filled her eyes. She had been so horrible to him, and he was telling her that it couldn't be any better than this?

You calm the storms
And you give me rest
You hold me in your hands
You won't let me fold
You still my heart
When you take my breath away
Would you take me in take me deeper now

And how can I stand here with you
And not be moved by you
Would you tell me how could it be
Any better than this

Up until this point, his head had been bent toward his guitar, it being the sole focus of his attention. But now, he looked up and fixed his gaze on her, shaking his head ever so slightly at her tears.

And how can I stand here with you
And not be moved by you
Would you tell me how could it be
Any better than this

Cause you're all I want
You're all I need
You're everything.. everything
You're all I want
You're all I need
You're everything.. everything
You're all I want
You're all I need
You're everythiny.. everything
You're all I want
You're all I need
Everything.. everything

And how can I stand here with you
And not be moved by you
Would you tell me how could it be
Any better than this
And how can I stand here with you
And not be moved by you
Would you tell me how could it be
Any better any better than this
And how can I stand here with you
And not be moved by you
Would you tell me how could it be
Any better than this
Would you tell me how could it be
Any better than this

He finished to the sounds of tumultuous applause, but he only had eyes for the woman he loved, who had stood up at the close of the song and was now walking toward him, tears streaming down her face. Her fuzzy purple sweatshirt, which he knew to be one of her favorites when she was feeling out of sorts, showed signs of moisture, indicating that it had been used in lieu of a tissue. She stopped in front of him, words evidently failing her. He set his guitar down gently and then wiped her tears. He pulled her toward him and bent down to kiss her amidst the wild cheering from the patrons of the Espresso Pump.

"You realize that's my favorite song now?"

"Well, you also have Willow to thank for that. I had chosen something I thought to be very fitting, but apparently it's a stalker song? Do you know what I'm talking about?"

Buffy stared at him, totally perplexed, until her eyes lit up in sudden understanding. "Oh my God! You wanted to sing "Every Breath You Take," didn't you! Giles, how could you think that was fitting?!"

Miffed, he replied, "Well, all I knew was that it was a song about someone watching over someone else. It seemed like a good idea at the time! But don't worry, Willow set me straight. I'll never ever sing that song again."

"Oh hush. Anyway, we better get going. I just realized that we've been here for about two and a half hours. So, I'll pack up all the picnic stuff if you'll go get the car?" She smiled winningly at him.

"Like I'd let you touch my car."

"Hey! Well, you actually have a point. Cars and Buffy are un-mixy things. So, you go do your thing, and I'll do mine!" They set off to do exactly that.

Several minutes later, Giles pulled up to the edge of Rhode's Field, where Buffy was waiting for him, picnic basket in hand. She tossed the basket into the back of 'the Tramp' and hopped into the front passenger seat.

"Let's hit the road, Watcher-mine!"

And the road was hit, albeit distractedly. Giles' mind was evidently on something else, and he made the something else known when he asked, "Darling, why are you and cars such, un-mixey things, as you so eloquently put it?"

"You're asking me why I'm a bad driver?"

"Bad is putting it mildly, but yes."

She thought for a minute before answering. "Well, despite my kinda obvious need for speed, I'm not really comfortable driving. And I've always been absolutely terrible at it. It used to make my dad nuts. I got my permit a few months before the Slaying started, so Dad and I had time to start driving. God, it was horrible." She shook her head and laughed at the memories. "He didn't think to tell me that, as attractive as they might be the rest of the time, platforms are not practical shoes to wear the first you're behind the wheel. So, we're driving around in this neighborhood, he said that real L.A. traffic could wait a while, and I'm about to make a right turn. I'm going about 25, it's nothing really fast, but I was still a bit spooked. So, I reached for the brake. My foot slipped, and my sandal got caught. As I desperately struggle to get my foot free, the car is still turning, and by the time I can slam on the brake, the car's driven on to a lawn. Dad was actually really calm about it."

Giles turned to stare incredulously at the woman next to him before focusing on the road again. "Why don't I have a problem believing that? And why do I think that that was the first of what must have been many such incidents?"

Buffy giggled. "Oh trust me, it was. And they only get worse. So, after the lawn deal, Dad decides that places with living people probably aren't the best places for me to practice. He found a housing development a few miles away, so he'd drive to the development, and then I'd start to practice. This one time, I was going about 30, still not really fast, and I made a really bad left turn. I almost turned on to the sidewalk. And, um, oh God, I missed a port-a-potty by literally an inch. The man inside was not happy."

Giles was helpless with laughter by that point. After the few minutes necessary to regain his breath, he exclaimed, "Are you telling me that you almost knocked over an occupied port-a-potty? I can't believe your father let you get behind the wheel of a car ever again."

"Trust me, it took some serious persuading. Even still, Mom doesn't want me driving as far as I can help it. It can get kinda expensive. The summer after the Master? Dad let me drive, which Mom wasn't happy about by the way, and I managed to get two flat tires for the two months that I was there. And both times, it was something called a sidewall blowout, which meant that the tires had to be replaced. So, that was a few hundred bucks right there."

She turned to see what Giles thought of this last bit of information regarding her driving skills, or lack thereof, and saw him patting the dashboard comfortingly. "There, there, precious. I won't let her touch you, it's all right." The only response she had to that was to smack him. Hard. He stuck his tongue at her, and the sight of her serious Watcher resorting to so childish a retort left her giggling. He smiled indulgently and then pulled his car into the parking lot of his apartment complex. Once the key had been taken out of the ignition, Giles got out and chivalrously opened the door for his beloved.

"Thank you, kind sir."

"You're welcome, fair lady." He pulled her toward him and they set off for his apartment.

"Satisfied darling?"

Buffy nodded vigorously. "Oh yeah. I feel so much better! You know, the gang's gonna be happy. They all came over to tell me that I had been Stressed and Un-fun Buffy and that I was scaring them."

"Why'd all of them come?

"They were hoping that in case I snapped, the four of them together would be able to stop me from killing them."

Sighing in fond exasperation at the antics of their friends, he bent down and dropped a kiss on Buffy's head. She was about to snuggle closer when she suddenly looked up at him, puzzled about something.

"Hey, what were you gonna do to get the last jelly?"

"Convince you that letting me have it would be very much worth your while."

"Really? Wow!" Her voice took on a sultry tone as she casually mentioned, "Hey, umm, I know that there's no jelly, but that convincing sounded nice."

Giles shook his head. "No, sorry, it isn't going to happen. I was only willing to put in the effort if I had gotten the jelly. No jelly, no convincing."

Buffy stopped walking and stared at him in absolute amazement. "WHAT? Are you actually going to deny the both of us sex just because you didn't get a damn donut?"

He got a devilish gleam in his eyes and reached for her. "Well, since you put it that way . . ."

"Giles? Giles? Giles, put me down! Put me down! Eeek, no, don't tickle! Ahh, stop it! Eeek!"

The courtyard rang with the sound of her laughter long after the door to Giles' apartment had slammed shut.

The End

4th A/N – Just wanted to say that I made Lifehouse's album 'No Name Face' come out a year earlier than it actually did, and Giles bought his 'little two-door tramp' a few months earlier than he did in the show.

5th A/N – Sorry, this should be the last one! I just wanted to say thanks for sticking with my very first fic, and Gileswench, you were far more confident than I was regarding my writing abilities, so I hope I didn't disappoint too badly!