Title: Speed of Sound
Timeline: Post-series, AU.
Synopsis: Giles seems to have adopted a stray cat.
Author’s Note: Album fic. Song and lyrics can be found here.
Giles sat on his back porch, a glass of scotch in one hand, and looked up at the night sky. A stray cat wandered up the steps and meowed softly. Giles smiled and motioned the cat forward.
“Come on then.”
The cat had been by each night for the past two weeks. Each night, Giles fed the cat…and watched the stars as the cat quietly purred as she ate her food. Giles had been ready for her tonight, lowering the bowl of food to the floor as he spoke softly to her.
“Have a good day, did you Tilly?” He wasn’t sure why he had taken to calling the cat by that name, but it seemed to fit.
Tilly gave a flick of her tail and then sat down to her dinner.
Giles watched her, musing about the changes in his life in the past two weeks. Two weeks…who would’ve thought that so much could happen in fourteen days or less? He gently scratched Tilly’s head and smiled.
The first night Tilly had arrived, Buffy had called from London. He hadn’t thought twice about offering to come into the city for dinner. But, she had surprised him by declining…stating that she’d rather see the sights of Bath and that she had already bought her train ticket.
He had held back his laughter when she had nervously asked if it was alright for her to come down. An hour after they had gotten off the phone, Tilly had walked through the backyard and up the steps to the back porch. An hour after that, the doorbell had rung.
And thirty minutes after that…he had held her in his arms as she kissed him.
Just like that, his life had changed.
He shook his head as he took a sip of the scotch. No, it hadn’t changed…it had merely corrected itself. And with just one kiss, everything that had been in disarray for the two previous years simply snapped back into place.
Everything became clearer, the sounds and sights surrounding him sharpened. The panic he hadn’t even realized that had taken hold dissipated almost immediately. He felt relaxed, he felt warm, he felt…at peace. For the first time since his childhood, he was at peace.
Buffy’s arrival should have caused an upheaval in his life. He had expected anger and raised voices…possibly resulting in her storming out of his house. He hadn’t expected her to sit there…on his couch…and calmly tell him that she loved him.
At that moment, everything stopped. The rushing, the voice telling him to let her go…he was sure that his heart even stopped for a beat or two.
And then he remembered her smiling at him…telling him to breathe. So he did. He took a deep breath and felt everything start to move around him again…albeit at a much slower pace.
He had asked her if she was sure. If this was what she really wanted.
She had smiled, leaning towards him and gently stroking his cheek as she nodded. She was sure. She was sure that she’d spent too much time hiding from what had been embedded into her heart years before. She was tired of hiding from the love she felt for him.
It was time. Time for her to be truthful…with herself, with him.
She loved him. Dearly, she loved him. Passionately, she loved him. Then she had kissed him…and he felt her desire as much as her love. Within seconds, the walls around his heart crumbled…and he gave in to his love for her.
Two weeks had passed…each night Tilly came for dinner, each night he sat on the back porch and looked at the stars. He smiled as he heard the front door open and close, the soft sounds of boot soles against the hardwood floor resonating in the living room.
Each night, she went on patrol. Demons loved Bath…though most of them were of the non-evil variety, there were still a few that attracted the attention of the Slayer. Each night, she returned to him after patrol…and she would bring him his journal.
He looked up as she sat down in the chair next to him, handing him the leather-bound book and a pen, and smiled warmly. He took the book and wrote down his notes regarding her findings on patrol…notes for future Watchers to read long after he and Buffy were gone.
And then he closed the book and leaned towards her, kissing her warm, soft lips.
Tilly finished her dinner and stretched, turning her amber eyes towards the couple. As the kiss deepened, she looked up at the sky…staring at the stars.
She wasn’t just a cat. But, this man and woman would never know. They didn’t need to know that Tilly was, in fact, a Tillanean…and that it was because of her that they were happy…that their friends were happy…that the world continued to thrive.
Two weeks ago, the beginning of the end started with a train disaster. A train travelling from London to Bath jumped the rails. There were no survivors. Giles had lost his Slayer, the woman he loved but had never told his true feelings to. And as a result, he locked himself away…and refused to see anyone. He even turned Willow and Xander away.
Six months after the Slayer’s death, and four months after the Watcher’s sanity slipped for the last time, the demons rose up and took over Earth. The Watcher was the last to die…but, he hadn’t even known what was going on.
Tilly had changed that. She had gone back in time and delayed the train for fifteen minutes…just long enough for the group of teenagers to safely push their stalled car from the tracks. The train never hit the car, therefore it never jumped the rails…and Buffy arrived safely at Giles’ house.
The birds flew at the speed of sound as reality slowed for just a moment…what should have been and what now was finally meeting as one.
He’d always blame the sense of time slowing for a brief time on the fact that that was the moment when Buffy told him that she loved him. And Tilly was just fine with that. She purred softly and curled up on the porch as Giles stood up and led Buffy inside.
Tilly yawned and closed her eyes. She’d sleep for a while, but would leave as the sun came up the following morning. But, she’d come back tomorrow night…and sit with him as he waited for Buffy to return.