Warning: This is fanfiction featuring Giles and adult Willow, certain parts told from each of their points-of-view. Don't complain to me if you don't like the series. Yes there is a lot of sex in this super-long story, but I will be posting the story in smaller segments, and it will take a couple posts to get to the romance. I am a nerd, okay?
Time was a strange thing, really. Even though Giles had thought it would be impossible to keep away from Willow, that things had changed too much and they could never hope to return to how it had been, time slipped by. He saw her just as frequently as he had, in the library and while practicing spells. Sometimes it was harder than others not to be drawn to her, or favor her with more attention. No one seemed to notice, or if they did they didn’t think anything odd about it. Eventually some kind of normalcy set in, their strange relationship becoming almost normal, and time moved faster.
It was easy to get distracted by the crazy happenings in Sunnydale, and their duties to prevent those crazy things from destroying everything they knew. Vampires, Demons and all the like kept them busy. Giles trained his Slayer dutifully, and did what he could to help her in all of their battles. He taught Willow what he knew about magic, and learned from her as her skills developed beyond even his imaginings. They went to college and he was struck with a sense of no longer being needed, though, that was alleviated soon enough. He was a part of their lives as much as he was their.
They made new friends over the years, some that were surprises and became a part of their vampire fighting group, others that were more personal and less involved in the magical realm. Giles befriended a woman near his age, who he had met in a book store and bumped into, spilling her coffee on himself and setting off a bumbling chain reaction of events that inevitably made her take a shine to him. With her he could talk about normal things, never about magic or demons, and he grew to like her friendship. He noticed a change in Willow around then, and confronted her about her jealousy only a few days before he got a call that would take him away from Sunnydale.
An old ‘friend’ had contacted him, and he returned to England to deal with it. While there, he found himself in the company of Ethan Rayne, the two unlikely allies once more. Their past was inescapable, and their futures interlinked. Most of their friends had already been killed, though they had acquaintances that had not been involved in the Eyghon escapades. Those friends had gotten into trouble again, and were implicating Giles and Ethan in a rather serious case of magical murder. Giles had to clear his name, as well as stop the chaos they had unleashed. It was only after a long struggle and very serious danger that Giles learned his old best mate Ethan had, in fact, been the instigator of all the trouble.
It took months of hiding and fleeing the Watcher’s Council and other magic-hunting groups to finally work up enough evidence in his favor. Being drawn to England and being spotted with Rayne had only served to mark him as the culprit, an elaborate set up by Rayne, and he was constantly fleeing in order to stay alive. He couldn’t return to the states, however, because he did not want to abandon the few people he still had left from his past. He was also too proud to let them think him a monster, and he knew in the end that they would just come and find him in America. And then the others would get dragged into it, just like with Eyghon, and someone would get hurt.
So he dealt with it all. A couple of times he was caught by bounty-hunter-like groups who were out for the money being offered through the magical community on him. Those experiences were not too pleasant, but he always managed to get himself out of it. Eventually he cleared everything up, using Black Magic and fairly wicked tactics to do it, though Rayne escaped, and the Council offered him an apology and sent him home. And that was it. All that trouble and stress and near-death experience and they simply issued a sorry and sent him on his way. Back to his Slayer and the duties they still expected him to perform. But he couldn’t complain about that. He was thankful to be home.
He wasn’t going to tell the others what had happened in England. He was still a bit banged up, one particularly glaring cut across his temple still healing after his last confrontation with Rayne. He’d come up with some excuse. He didn’t tell them which plane he would be on, only that he was coming home within the week, so he didn’t think anyone would be waiting for him at the airport. They weren’t, and he made it back to the flat he had kept payments up on even while he was away, hoping to spend a few days in silence and thought before confronting the others. Except the moment he walked in he felt lonely, and he was wondering for a couple of hours, constantly, what the others had been doing while he was away.
So he called Willow and asked her to come over.
Willow had spent the years discovering just how deep her innate magical abilities ran. She was surprised to astonish even Giles at times, but she fed on his praise. They maintained a rather chaste relationship in the aftermath of their intimacy. Buffy had commented on her awkwardness around Giles only once, and Willow had let her assume that her behavior had been caused by a reaction to dealing with Giles' actions while consumed with black magic. It was easier that way, and in time things evened out. She still burned for him, but as the years went by she found it easier to control herself in his presence.
She had dated, casually, but nothing had come of any of it. The dates had been fun diversions, nothing more, nothing less. It was easy to lose herself in college, and after that, commit herself even more fully to her study of magic. She watched her friends change with the years, the same in so many ways and yet the years brought new things for all of them; some had left and some were new. There were jabs at her inability or lack of desire to maintain any long-term relationships, and she played them off to the best of her ability. It wasn't that she was consciously trying to avoid loving anybody else, she just found that she couldn't. It didn't make her happy, she never felt that spark, it just didn't seem worth it to lead others on when she had no interest in them.
When Giles had gone back to England, she had been uneasy. She didn't know what would happen, and even scrying gave her no insight - perhaps she was too clouded with emotion. That emotion had been dredged up from the depths of her heart only a little while before he had left Sunnydale... when he had confronted her about her jealousy. She had spent a good chunk of her life trying to come to terms with her feelings, and his discomfort with their situation, but she wasn't a robot. She was human, she had acted in ways that betrayed her still-harbored affection for him, and he had caught on. She tried to be better after talking with him about it, to push it back down and get back to whatever passed for normal in their complicated interpersonal dealings, but then he'd left.
It was like he was going on in life without her, really it had been like that for years, but with him gone it had suddenly hit her full-f***e. But it wasn't fair to think like that, Giles had obligations and Buffy was strong enough to manage without him if need be, they all were, they all had their duties and they were responsible in his stead. Willow still felt like she had lost him, it had been so many years acting normal, perhaps he wasn't even considering her anymore, perhaps he was too kind to stamp on her heart once and for all. It might have been easier on her if she hadn't had to deal with her feelings, out loud and directly to him, so soon before he left.
She was anxious for his return when the Scoobies were informed that he would be back. She certainly didn't expect his call, or even think that she was the first to know. She didn't bother calling Buffy or anyone else because it hadn't dawned on her that they wouldn't know he was back. Willow had spent so long trying to rid herself of how special he had made her feel, because that made life easier, and so it had become nearly second-nature to consider herself as meaning nothing more to him than any of the others. It didn't always work, especially when he smiled at her, but she tried.
She allowed herself to feel some elation. It was amazing to hear his voice after his time abroad, she wanted to know what had happened, she had so many questions. She wanted to know how he was, she wanted to see him and once again she was faced with those emotions. Even though she had convinced herself she wasn't special, he
was still quite special to her, and that would never change, or at least, hadn't changed in the last smattering of years. She just hoped she wouldn't make a fool out of herself after not having seen him for a while.
Absence and the heart and all that.
It was dreadfully accurate.