Title: Don’t Panic
Timeline: Directly after the destruction of Sunnydale.
Synopsis: Giles and Buffy deal with the implosion of the town they once called home.
Author’s Notes: Album fic. Lyrics and song can be found here.
Giles sighed in relief when he finally found her. He had been to her motel room, but she wasn’t there. And after asking everyone, he had realized that no one had known where she was. And he had felt the panic well within him as he took off on a frantic search for his Slayer.
Buffy didn’t bother to look at him as he sat down on the ground next to her. Her legs were bent with her arms wrapped around them, her chin resting on her knees.
“No one out there knows what happened to our home.”
Giles followed her line of vision. Lights from the houses in the town below the hill they were sitting on casting a soft glow.
“No, they don’t.” He answered after a brief hesitation. “Does that bother you?”
She slowly turned her head to look at him. “Are you asking if I want gratitude for saving the world…again?”
He didn’t miss the bite in her words.
“No…that’s not what I meant, Buffy. Why must you think that everything I say now is a criticism of some type?”
She turned back towards the lights and gave him a simple answer.
“Because I’m still angry with you.”
“I know.” He whispered softly.
Silence fell over them for a few moments before Buffy took a deep breath and spoke, still staring out over the town.
“Why are you here?”
“I’m your…” He cleared his throat and began again. “I’m a Watcher.”
She shook her head softly. “No, I meant…why are you here…with me, right now?”
Before he could answer, she gave him a quick glance and lowered her voice to a nearly inaudible whisper.
“And even though I’m still angry with you, you’re still my Watcher.”
He licked his dry lips and ran a nervous hand through his hair. “I’m here…right now, with you…because I was worried. No one knew where you were.”
“So I became your mission for the evening?”
Giles sighed heavily and stared at the ground. “No.”
“Then why – ”
He interrupted her quickly, his irritation growing. “God…look around you, Buffy. For just a moment, look around you and see what you’ve done. What we’ve done.”
“What we’ve done? We got a lot of people in the town formerly known as Sunnydale killed. That’s what we did. And a good number of those people were girls that I was supposed to be keeping safe.”
Giles shuddered as he felt her pain hit him like a tidal wave. His hand trembled as he reached out, placing it on her shoulder as he shook his head.
“This town wouldn’t be here if we hadn’t done what we did, Buffy. We wouldn’t be here. But…we are.”
Buffy was quiet for a minute and then looked at him. “You panicked when you realized I was gone, didn’t you?”
“Yes. I…I didn’t know where you were.” He answered hesitantly.
She huffed lightly. “Thought I’d run away again? I’m not a seventeen-year-old girl anymore, Giles.”
“No, that’s not…” He sighed heavily and shook his head. “I know you’re angry with me, Buffy. And you have every right to be. But…I still love you.”
Just a few weeks earlier, Buffy would have just assumed that he meant that he loved her as a friend, as his Slayer. But, now...now was different. The First had returned a memory to her that had been lost when she died. The memory of the night they shared before she leapt off the tower to save the world.
The First had known that she wouldn’t confront him about it, it wasn’t in her nature. And so the First had used that knowledge…had known that she would punish herself with it. And the First had known that she would think that he had moved on…especially considering the fact that he hadn’t brought up the subject himself.
She hadn’t told him that the First had given her the memory. But, as she looked into his eyes…eyes that were so kind, and so full of love when he looked at her…she knew that she had to.
“I remember.” She whispered, her voice trembling as she looked back out into the night.
When his brow furrowed in confusion, she took a deep breath and continued.
“I remember making love with you…the night before I died. I remember being in love with you, Giles.”
Giles paled as his eyes widened. “I…you…you never said…”
“I didn’t remember until a few weeks ago.” She admitted, lowering her eyes. “That’s why it hurt so much when you lied to me about Spike. Why didn’t you tell me? Why didn’t you force me to remember when I came back?”
“I…” His eyes glistened as he swallowed. “How could I, Buffy? You…obviously didn’t remember. And I couldn’t force that on you.”
“I was so horrible to you…”
“It was understandable. It hurt, wanting to hold you and not being able to…but, I understood.” He lifted his hand and gently touched her cheek. “I never stopped loving you, Buffy.”
“Even after everything I’ve done?”
“Yes, love.” He whispered and brushed his lips across hers. “Nothing could stop me from loving you.”
She shuddered and he pulled her against his chest. She held on to him tightly, relishing the feel of his soft sweater against her cheek.
“How do I do this?”
“Do what, Buffy?” He asked softly, rubbing her back soothingly.
“We lost so many people in this fight, Giles.” Her fingers clutched his sweater. “And I nearly lost you so many times.”
He nodded slowly, finally understanding her meaning. “You lean on me, that’s how you do it. I’ll support you, Buffy…just lean on me.”
She lifted her head slightly, just enough that her warm breath ghosted across his neck. “Will you lean on me?”
“Yes.” He took her hand in his, his thumb rubbing against her palm. “Xander will need us as well…”
“What about Willow?” She asked, brushing her lips across his neck.
“She has Kennedy.” He swallowed thickly. “Xander isn’t dealing with Anya’s death.”
“Just like I couldn’t have dealt with yours.” She whispered and settled against his chest again.
Giles watched the lights in the town slowly go out, house by house, as people went to bed. “Buffy?”
“Hm?” She murmured sleepily, her exhaustion quickly catching up to her.
“Tell me what you see.”
She lifted her head and looked out over the town, a smile slowly appearing on her face.
He nodded, returning her smile. He shifted until he was able to lean against the tree stump that was just to his left and pulled her onto his lap. He wrapped his arms around her as she rested her head on his shoulder.
He knew that she was tired, that she needed to rest. And there was no danger here. They could stay here for a while longer, appreciating the beauty of this new world…and one another.
They could take comfort in one another…giving each other the strength to comfort their friends when they returned to the motel. And they could finally let go of the guilt and anger that they each were carrying.
The First may have returned her memories as punishment, but he saw it as a building block for getting their relationship back on track. And after two years, Buffy was more than ready to let love back into her heart.