Watch Me Love

He was never sure when he fell in love with her. At first sight? Flushed, indignant, backing away from him as he proudly placed the heavy book in front of her in the Watcher’s equivalent of a Masonic handshake? Perhaps. Or it could have been when they first trained together and her face was so intent and serious, blossoming into a smile when he praised her quick mastery of a new sequence of kicks.

It didn’t really matter. He just knew that when Quentin said, in that hatefully smug voice, that he had a father’s love for his Slayer, he realised that it had never been quite that simple. He loved Buffy as any man would love her; seeing her flaws, impatient with her foibles, trusting her utterly, adoring her completely. Wanting her so desperately that keeping his feelings hidden began to wear him down, each hour of concealment rasping away at his resolve until he knew that one day, one moment, it would wear away to nothing and he would tell her.

That moment came when he saw her race up the steps of Glory’s tower, saw that slim, determined figure solve the problem, defeat the goddess, save the world... and this time, pay the price.

As he cradled her body, the tears fell, not just for her death but for the pointless scruples that had kept him silent.

He buried her and thought himself suitably punished for his hesitancy.

Then she came back. He spent the flight back to Sunnydale vacillating between joy so intense it robbed him of breath, fear and anger so bitter it soured his joy, and anticipation so sweet it soothed him and let him sleep, a little, dreaming of her. He had no doubt in his mind. He would tell her. This was his second chance, this was a gift from a merciful providence, this was... impossible.

She hugged him, wept on his shoulder, held him close and asked for nothing more than Travers had condemned him for showing. Smoothing back her soft hair, smiling down reassuringly into empty, bewildered eyes, he let his love lie down where her body had rested during the summer and let her go.

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