Wesley wanted to cringe when he saw the various cuts and bruises across Buffy's body, but he knew that probably wouldn't help, so he suppressed it. Instead, he set to work, gently cleaning her injuries and bandaging the ones that needed it. Even though he knew with Slayer healing, she be better by morning, he hated that she was obviously in so much pain. That had obviously been a somewhere older and powerful vampire - a fledging wouldn't have caused so much damage.
He was just shifting around her on the bed when Buffy's question went straight to his heart like a dagger.
"What?" he asked. He couldn't believe that she would actually think that, not after what they had come to mean each other. Reaching over, he gently cupped her face and turned it toward him, staring into her blue eyes. "Buffy, I don't think you should have done anything. This has been hard for you, and that vampire obviously was able to take advantage of a situation you weren't ready for. For the last several weeks, it's just been the two of us, working together - you haven't had others around, haven't had to think about what you left behind. But with everything you went through here, of course coming back was going to throw you off."
He caressed her face softly with the tips of finger, brushing very lightly over her skin, not wanting to cause her any more pain by accidentally pressing down on her bruises.
"I will never, ever think you weak, love, because I know better. I know how strong you are. You just need time to adjust. And I think I'd be a pretty poor boyfriend if I were to up and leave you when you needed me. I've screwed up relationships before, but never because of a selfish action like that." He leaned in a bit closer. "Besides, I'm quite in love with you, so don't think you're getting rid of me that easily."
With a gentle smile, he kissed her softly on the lips.
Buffy waited with baited breath for Wesley to agree with what she'd just said. He could do so much better than her and he was going to realize it. But, when he started to talk, and didn't say what she was waiting for him to say, she could do nothing but stare at him. Wes was going to stay with her. He wasn't going to leave her behind like so many people in the past. He understand what she felt and knew it wasn't her fault.
But most of all, he was in love with her.
"Wes," she whispered after they'd broken the kiss. "I'm sorry...I just thought...I don't have to best track record when it comes to people staying and I just thought..."
She leaned against him and took a few shuddering breaths. "I want to protect them," Buffy quietly said. "Willow and Xander and Tara. After I sent Angel to Hell, I ran away from home. I was gone an entire summer and when I came back, all of them were mad at me for leaving. It hurt and I don't want that to happen again."
Buffy then pulled back and looked up at the man she loved. "I love you so much, Wes," she said before cuddling against him. "I never want to be without you."
"Honestly, love, I don't think either of us have had the best track record before now," Wesley told Buffy after their kiss and she had apologized. She never needed to apologize with him. "We'll figure it out together, I promise."
Wrapping his arm around her, he rubbed his hand up and down her arm, listening to her as she spoke, wishing there was a way to take away the pain she was obviously feeling. He remembered reading the reports before he had come to Sunnydale the first time and how there had been curious gap in the reports the summer of 1998. Now, he understood why - Buffy had been gone because of what had happened with Angel, and Giles had protected her by not telling the Council. If he had, he knew that the Council would have sent more people to look for her.
"I know it's hard," he told her, resting his cheek against her head. "But just give it time. They love you as much as you love them."
When she told him she loved him, Wesley smiled softly. "You have me as long as you want me, which since it seems to be forever, works out quite nicely for me." Kissing the top of her head, he carefully shifted them so they could stretch out on the bed, wrapped together in each other's arms. "Why don't we rest for now? We'll figure out what we'll be doing in the morning."
Buffy gave Wes a small smile as he reassured her things would be okay. It was a start - a big one at that - and it made her feel a little better. She still had a lot of healing to do, something she hoped would happen eventually, but until then she was going to be thankful for the man beside her. Buffy knew Wes loved her for who she was inside, and not because of what she could do.
"Maybe tomorrow we can go to the cemetery and visit Dawn's grave," Buffy suggested as Wesley pulled them down to the bed. She snuggled close to him and sighed. "It's all kinds of weird going to the place I patrol to visit my sister's grave. I guess it's the way our lives are now." She let out a small yawn and snuggled against him.
Buffy was starting to feel both emotionally and physically tired. It'd been a long day and she had the feeling things weren't completely finished. They lived on a Hellmouth and there was always something going on, even though she often wished there wasn't. All she wanted was a few weeks off with Wes so they could go somewhere nice.
"Love you," she murmured as sleep started to take her over. "You're a good Watcher, Wes." And with that, she fell asleep.