Title: Now My Feet Won’t Touch the Ground
Timeline: early S6, AU.
Synopsis: A different take on Buffy’s return after her death.
Author’s Note: Album fic. Song and lyrics can be found here.
Guh. The hard ‘g’ sound. Ghost, goblin, gadfly, gutter.
Giles poured another drink and gulped it down. Giles. Not a hard ‘g’ sound. But, how was he supposed to explain that to a robot? A robot with her face, her voice, her smile…
smiled at him when he corrected her pronunciation for the hundredth time.
Giles had muttered something about not bothering and stormed out
of the house that once belonged to Joyce Summers. He supposed it now belonged to Dawn, but
He had taken himself back home and had wasted no time in cracking open a fresh bottle of scotch. He had called before he had his second drink…just to make sure that Dawn was alright. Spike had answered the phone and assured Giles that he was watching out for her.
When Giles didn’t ask where the others were, Spike volunteered
the information that
He was now just a hair over three-quarters the way through the bottle. He could hear motorcycles roaring in the distance, but couldn't bring himself to care. He decided to skip the glass for this drink, sinking onto the couch with the bottle in his hand and tears welling in his eyes.
* * *
Buffy clawed her way through the dirt, gasping for air as she broke through the surface. She looked around, the darkness of the area seeming overly bright to her eyes. She squinted and huddled her body against the headstone, her vision blurred.
She had been warm. She had been frolicking in the sun with friends who had been long gone, her mother laughing happily from the sidelines. She had just rolled her eyes at some joke that Jessie and Billy had told her…and then she had woken up.
In the cold, in the dark…and very alone.
Giles. The first name that slipped into her mind. It was familiar and warm…and so she grabbed on to it like a lifeline. Giles could help her…she was sure of it. He always had before.
She stood and stumbled lightly, her eyes darting around her surroundings. Taking a deep breath, she let her instincts take over. And as they led her in a specific direction, she started to run towards the one place she knew she’d be safe.
She started running to Giles.
* * *
Giles had just swallowed the last drops of the bottle when someone pounded on his door. He groaned and considered ignoring it. But, the pounding continued…growing more frantic with each second.
He pushed himself up and waited for the room to stop swaying before he took his first step. He stumbled to the door and jerked it open, rolling his eyes when he saw who was standing on his doorstep.
“What do you want now?”
Buffy’s eyes narrowed in confusion. “I…you can help me…”
Giles shook his head drunkenly.
“You’re programmed to go to
He started to close the door, stopping when he heard her soft sob. He sighed heavily and stared at her.
“Why the bloody hell are you crying?”
“I don’t know why you’re mad at me, Giles…”
“I’m not mad. I’m tired of this entire situ – ” He stopped suddenly and furrowed his brow. “What did you just call me?”
“Giles.” Buffy answered uncertainly, now beginning to wonder if she had woken up in some other dimension where she had a different relationship with this man standing before her.
It was then that Giles finally looked at his visitor. Looked into her eyes and saw the person who was standing there. The person with dirt in her hair and her skin pale from lack of sun exposure. His eyes glistened with sudden tears and he grabbed the door to keep himself from falling.
“Buffy? Dear God…Buffy?”
She caught him before he hit the ground. Her tears mixed with his as she held him…hers for what she had left behind when she was pulled out of Heaven, his for the pain of her death that he still felt each second of every day.
* * *
He sat on the couch, cradling a hot cup of coffee in his hands as he stared at her, still not truly believing that she was alive. Buffy sighed and picked up the empty scotch bottle from the floor and placed it on the coffee table.
“How much are you drinking these days?”
“I buried you.” He whispered, his eyes filling with tears again. “I waited…I waited until your body was…it was…you…you weren’t…warm.”
“Giles…” She reached out, wrapping her hand around his wrist as he dropped the cup of coffee to the floor. “God, Giles…did they leave you alone?”
“I…told them to. I couldn’t…I didn’t want them, or anyone, near me. I just…I wanted you.”
“How long has it been?” She asked after a brief hesitation.
Giles swallowed thickly, lifting his left hand and running his trembling fingers through her hair. “One hundred and forty-seven days.”
Buffy thought about that for a moment and then leaned into his touch. “Have you been drunk each of those days?”
He shook his head slowly, closing his eyes as she reached up and glided her fingertips along his jaw. “I…I didn’t have a drink until after the…after the, uh…the…funeral.”
“She can’t pronounce my name.” He whispered painfully, opening his eyes and meeting her gaze. “She has your voice, your face…but, she can’t pronounce my name properly…and her eyes…”
“What about her eyes?” Buffy whispered as he trailed off.
“They’re the right color…but, they’re…they’re not yours.” He licked his dry lips as a single tear rolled down his cheek. “Christ, I’ve missed you.”
Buffy took a deep breath and then asked the question that she had been avoiding since he had opened the door to her.
“Do you still love me?”
He answered without thinking, staring deeply into her hazel eyes. “I never stopped, Buffy.”
She exhaled slowly and laced her fingers with his. “I was in Heaven.”
Giles lowered his head, closing his eyes as he allowed her pain to rush through him. Instead of telling her he was sorry, he pulled her into his arms and held her tightly. He brushed his lips across hers and tasted the magic on her breath.
He felt a sudden rush of anger towards the witch. She was becoming too arrogant, too…she wasn’t thinking of the consequences anymore. He’d have to have a long talk with her.
When he was sober again…
When he was sure that Buffy really was here this time…and it wasn’t just a figment of his drunken imagination. He hoped that this time was different.
He looked down at her scraped knuckles…raw and caked with blood. His breath caught in his chest…each time he had imagined her arrival, she had been returned to him in perfect condition.
She felt his gasp and lifted her eyes to his face. She followed his gaze, not surprised to find that he was staring at her bloodied hands.
“I know.” He whispered, lifting each of her hands to place tender kisses along her knuckles. “I’m sorry…”
“I still love you too.” She whispered back.
For the first time in one hundred and forty-seven days, he smiled. A true smile.
They’d sit here for just a while longer, holding one another…comforting one another…and then he’d run a hot bath for her. He hoped that she wouldn’t mind if he stayed…he’d turn his eyes from her, of course. But…he didn’t want to be out of her presence. Not now, at any rate.
And then he’d ask to hold her throughout the night.
Tomorrow they could deal with
And maybe, just maybe, Buffy would allow him to disconnect the robot’s batteries…and he’d never have to hear his name pronounced with a hard ‘g’ again.