Title: Beautiful Time of Year
Timeline: Completely AU. Joyce died the previous year, no Dawn.
Synopsis: Buffy and Giles discover more about his past in a completely accidental manner.
Giles felt the stabbing pain before he had fully surfaced from sleep. A wave of nausea crashed over him and he clenched his eyes in an attempt to control it. He took a deep breath and slowly opened his eyes.
Thankfully, the sun hadn’t risen yet and the room was still dark. He blindly reached for the top drawer of his bedside table, moving carefully as to not wake Buffy. He bit back his groan as the drawer squeaked loudly when he pulled it open.
Buffy stirred, but merely moved closer to him...snuggling against him as she settled back down.
Giles pulled a bottle of prescription painkillers out of the drawer and cursed softly as he fumbled with the lid. After a few moments, he successfully pried the lid off and shook out two of the tablets.
He didn’t bother with water, choosing to swallow them on their own instead. Clumsily, he placed the bottle on his nightstand...finding that he didn’t have the energy to close the drawer.
With a pained sigh, he closed his eyes and willed the medication to take the pounding away.
* * *
Buffy noticed two things as she slowly woke.
First, the sun was up...she could sense it. Second, she was snuggled up to Giles. The sun being up already didn’t surprise her at all, it wasn’t as if she was often awake before the sun rose. What did surprise her was the fact that Giles was still in bed...and not making breakfast or researching some elusive demon, as was normal.
Opening her eyes, she smiled softly and placed a warm kiss on his cheek. His eyes fluttered and he swallowed hard.
She arched an eyebrow at him. “Hey? What happened to ‘good morning, love’?”
“Too much effort.” He mumbled, giving her back a gentle pat. “Sorry.”
She pushed herself up and looked down at him. He’d been sleeping on his back, his arm curled around her as he held her body against him. That wasn’t unusual. Saying ‘hey’ and mumbling when the sun was up...that was unusual.
“Just a headache.” He sighed, cracking one eye open only to immediately close it again. “A...bad headache.”
Buffy bit her lip and glanced at the bedside table, instantly noticing the open pill bottle. “How bad is ‘bad’?”
“Buffy...” He started, stopping when he felt her lean over him.
“Maxalt? You took Maxalt?”
Hearing the panic in her voice, he inhaled deeply and opened his eyes. Ignoring the blinding pain courtesy of the sunlight shining through the window and hitting him square in the face, he pulled the bottle from her hand and dropped it onto the table.
“It’s just a migraine, Buffy. I’m fine.”
“Maxalt didn’t help Mom.” She whispered, tears filling her eyes.
“Shh.” He murmured, pulling her down onto his chest. “Please don’t cry, love.”
“What if I lose you too?”
He heard her muffled question, felt her tears drip onto his chest. “You’re not going to lose me. It’s just a headache...the pills will help and – ”
She lifted her head quickly and stared at him. He furrowed his brow and licked his dry lips.
“I want you to have a cat scan or an MRI or something.”
He sighed heavily and successfully fought the urge to roll his eyes. “For God’s sake – ”
“No, don’t ‘for God’s sake’ me! As many head injuries as you’ve had, this could be a symptom of something bad. Like a blood clot or a tumour or – ”
“I don’t have a blood clot or a tumour. I have a headache.”
“That you took Maxalt for!” She countered. “You don’t take Maxalt for a headache!”
He grimaced and covered his eyes with his left hand. “Please...don’t yell, Buffy.”
She paused and inhaled shakily. “This is the third migraine you’ve had in two weeks. Please, Giles...I’m scared.”
He lowered his hand and looked up at her, his heart breaking at the sight of tears rolling down her cheeks and the fear showing clearly in her watery eyes. He swallowed thickly and tenderly trailed his fingers down her arm.
Before he could change his mind, she grabbed the phone. They were on a first name basis with most of the hospital staff...she was fairly certain that she could talk someone into testing him. Especially if she could get hold of Dr. Alderman.
Just two weeks ago, they’d saved him from becoming a midnight snack for a group of vampires who were raiding the blood bank. Surely he’d be willing to repay the favour.
Giles wanted to argue, but he knew that she was scared. Considering all she’d been through with her mother’s illness and death, he understood. And so instead of arguing, he lovingly stroked her skin as she spoke into the phone.
He’d give her this...just to rid her of her fears. And then maybe she’d understand that sometimes headaches just happen.
* * *
Dr. Alderman smiled at Giles as he entered the room. “Good afternoon, Mr. Giles.”
“Hello.” Giles responded, fiddling with the tie on the hospital gown he’d been instructed to wear.
Buffy grabbed his hand to stop him, lacing their fingers together. “Hi, Dr. Alderman...thank you so much for this.”
“Well, I do kind of owe you.” The doctor blushed lightly and then cleared his throat. “So, how are you feeling, Mr. Giles?”
“Just Giles...or Rupert. No ‘mister’.” Giles stated grumpily. “And I feel fine. It was merely a migraine that I awoke with...and took ten milligrams of Maxalt. I now feel completely normal.”
Buffy stared at him and shook her head before turning her stare to the doctor. “It’s the third migraine he’s had in two weeks. And he’s prone to head injuries. And – ”
“The prescription in my glasses may need to be updated.” Giles finished with a small smile.
Dr. Alderman chuckled softly and gave Giles a nod of understanding. “True, but...it never hurts to be sure. Are you ready then?”
Giles sighed heavily and stood up, giving Buffy’s hand a gentle squeeze. “As ready as I’ll ever be, I suppose.”
Buffy returned the squeeze and then leaned up, pressing a soft kiss to his lips. “I love you, you know.”
“I know.” He smiled, letting go of her hand and running his fingers through her hair. “I love you too.”
As he turned away from her and followed the doctor down the hall, she wrapped her arms around herself and exhaled deeply.
“Good luck.” She whispered softly.
He looked back just before they turned the corner, giving her a small wave and a smile. His smile faded as they rounded the corner. The doctor noticed Giles’ change of demeanor and looked at him curiously.
“Is everything okay?”
“Can we not do this?” Giles asked, pausing outside of the door which had the letters MRI emblazoned in red.
Dr. Alderman’s eyes widened. “Do you have reasons to be concerned?”
“What?” Giles met the doctor’s eyes and shook his head quickly. “No, it’s just…I have issues with being in a confined space and unable to move.”
The doctor relaxed and placed his hand on Giles’ shoulder. “I come across that quite often in my patients. We’ll put headphones on you and pipe in some really horrible elevator music to help drown out the noise, but…the only thing I can do about you being in a confined space is to tell you to close your eyes and pretend you’re somewhere else.”
“Helpful.” Giles responded dryly.
Dr. Alderman chuckled and shrugged a shoulder. “Come on…in thirty minutes, it’ll all be over and done with.”
Giles straightened and stared into the man’s eyes. “Thirty minutes? To scan my head?”
The doctor lowered his hand and furrowed his brow. “No. Your, uh…girlfriend…she requested a full body scan.”
Giles gave an exasperated sigh and reached up to grab his glasses, forgetting that he had left them with Buffy. “Bloody hell…”
“She seemed really worried about you.” Dr. Alderman offered gently.
Giles nodded and rubbed the side of his neck. “Her mother passed away a little over a year ago…from a brain aneurysm. Buffy overreacts at times.”
“I think it’s more that she needs to know that you’re okay.” The doctor pushed the door open and gestured for Giles to enter. “Under those circumstances, I can understand why she’d want you to be checked. Especially considering your history of head injuries.”
Giles rolled his eyes and walked into the room. “By what she’s said, you’d think I get bashed on the head once a week.”
Dr. Alderman grinned and held up Giles’ medical chart. “Once a month, give or take, according to your records. You must have a thick skull.”
“I’m English.” Giles responded, climbing up onto the table and laying down. “We can take a beating.”
The doctor laughed and put a bulbous object in Giles’ hand. When Giles looked at it, Dr. Alderman explained. “Panic button. Squeeze that and I’ll stop the scan and pull you out.”
Giles nodded and then Dr. Alderman slipped the headphones onto Giles’ head. Giles grimaced and closed his eyes.
“You weren’t joking about the horrible elevator music, huh?”
The doctor shook his head in amusement and went about getting things ready. He liked these two…and not just because they’d saved his life a few weeks earlier. He liked that each time either of them had to be treated, the other was there…not willing to leave the room unless absolutely necessary.
It wasn’t often that he’d seen that depth of love and devotion between a patient and his or her partner. But, even if they were annoyed with each other, it was always incredibly easy to see how much they adored one another.
And for that reason, among others of course, he hoped that Giles was right…that there was no reason for the scan other than to put Buffy’s fears to rest.
Clearing his throat, he pushed a button on the console and spoke into the microphone. “Okay, Rupert…we’ll be starting now. If you need anything or need to stop, push the panic button, okay?”
Giles lifted his left hand in acknowledgement and then sighed heavily as the headphones were filled with the dreadful music again. He almost wished for Buffy’s technodance music instead.
As the table began to move into the machine, Giles thought of all the places he’d rather be. He nearly chuckled when an image of the old high school popped into his head. If he’d rather be dealing with Snyder, he’d definitely rather be anywhere than where he currently was.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Buffy stared at the doctor, who was suddenly looking very nervous as he examined the pictures. She held Giles' hand and sat up straight.
“What’s wrong? You have ‘they’re not going to like this’ face.”
“Um, well…” Dr. Alderman started and then looked up, darting his eyes between Buffy and Giles. “There’s nothing showing in the head region.”
“Nothing? Not even his brain?”
Giles slowly turned his head towards her and gave her an incredulous look. “I think he means nothing unusual, Buffy.”
“I know that, really.” Buffy blushed heavily as she looked from Giles back to Dr. Alderman. “I’m not that blonde, honestly. In fact, I’m not a real blonde at all and – ”
“Buffy…” Giles interrupted softly, gently rubbing his thumb along the back of her hand. “He understands, I’m sure. This is a good thing, love. They’re only headaches…nothing more, nothing less.”
“Oh, yeah…” Buffy sighed heavily and tightened her fingers around his. “Sorry.”
The doctor smiled and shook his head. “No apologies necessary. I realize you’re anxious.”
“Yeah, I am…so…um…if there’s nothing wrong with his head, where is something wrong?”
“I’m not convinced something’s wrong.” Dr. Alderman stated as his smile faded. “But, there’s something there…”
“Where?” Buffy pressed, her eyes misting with tears.
“It’s a foreign object…in the abdomen.” The doctor stated, putting the film up on the lightboard.
Giles adjusted his glasses and looked at the scan. “A foreign object?”
“Mm-hm…” He pointed at a spot on the picture with his pen. “Right here.”
Giles didn’t need the doctor to show it to him, he could see it perfectly. An egg-shaped object around a centimetre in length, it stood out clearly. His jaw clenched and the doctor looked at him in confusion.
Buffy looked up at Giles, surprised to see anger etched on his face. “Giles?”
“It’s an implant.” Giles stated bluntly. “They did this…”
Dr. Alderman glanced at the scan. “They?”
“The Council.” Giles mumbled, not noticing Buffy’s mouth drop open in shock. “The people I used to work for.”
Silence fell over the room and suddenly Giles stood, pulling his hand from Buffy’s grip. He moved around the doctor’s desk and stared at the MRI image.
“When?” He asked quietly, mostly questioning himself. “When could they have done this?”
Buffy shook her head and pushed herself out of the chair. “It doesn’t matter when…we need to get it out of you. Like now!”
Giles gave a very subtle shake of his head, not taking his eyes from the lightboard. “No. We need to go to England.”
Buffy stared at him in disbelief. “What? This needs to come out! What if they’re tracking you or something?”
“I’m not that hard to find, Buffy.” He stated, finally looking down at her. “They don’t have tracking implants…they aren’t the Initiative. We can’t have it removed until we know why it’s there.”
“But – ”
“Is it causing any physiological problems?” Giles asked the doctor.
“Well, no…it’s not. It’s just…sitting there. Looks like it’s been there for a while.”
“So, it won’t hurt to leave it for a few more days? Possibly a couple of weeks?”
“I would imagine not.”
Giles nodded and brushed the backs of his fingers across Buffy’s cheek. “See, love? It’ll be alright. And as soon as we discover the purpose and the consequences of having it removed, we’ll discuss what to do next.”
“Consequences?” Buffy whispered, a tear spilling over her eyelid. “What kind of consequences?”
“Shh.” He breathed, pulling her into a hug and soothingly rubbing her back.
Dr. Alderman wasn’t exactly sure what was going on, but he had an idea that this Council was not something he wanted to be involved with.
* * *
Buffy paced as Giles quoted his passport number over the phone. She looked up as he quickly rattled off her passport number as well. Once the arrangements were made, he hung up the phone with more force than was required.
“The earliest flight I could get was for the morning.”
She made her way over to him and placed her hand on his chest, not surprised to feel his heart race. “Talk to me.”
“I don’t know when they did this to me.” He whispered, allowing her to see his own fear for the first time. “Have they been controlling me this entire time?”
“No.” Buffy answered without hesitation.
“How do you know?”
She smiled softly and slid her hand up to his shoulder. “Do you really think they wanted you to fall in love with me?”
“Probably not.” He inhaled sharply as her fingertips grazed along the side of his neck. “What are you doing?”
“You’re angry and I don’t like it when you’re angry.” She answered, rising up on her toes as her hand slipped to the back of his head. “I thought maybe if I kiss you, you’ll not be as angry…”
“Oh…” He murmured half a second before her lips brushed his.
She pulled back and smiled up at him. “Do you think it’ll work?”
He nodded slowly, sliding his left hand to her hip. “In more ways than one.”
She didn’t have to ask him what he meant, she could read it easily enough in his eyes. And as he lowered his mouth to hers, reigniting the kiss and deepening it quickly, she realized that her simple plan had been successful.
She didn’t bother trying to stop him when he effortlessly lifted her and turned towards the stairs. Instead, she wrapped her legs around him and pushed her tongue into his mouth. He gave a muffled groan and, as he carried her up the stairs, she knew that he’d decided that there were better ways to spend the evening than being angry at the Council.
He paused briefly when he’d neared the top of the stairs, pulling from the kiss with the intention of asking her if she was positive about wanting to make love at that moment. Seeing the desire in her darkened eyes, he smiled.
There would be no need in asking.
He poured his own desire into the next kiss, thrusting his tongue into her mouth as he made his way across the room. He didn’t bother letting her go when he reached the bed, opting to merely allow them both to fall onto the mattress.
As she began to undress him, pulling the shirt over his head before working on his jeans, the Council and what he suspected they had done to him were the farthest things from his mind. When her warm hand curled around his thick erection, he would’ve been hard-pressed to remember his earlier anger had he been asked about it.
And that was fine with both of them.
* * *
He looked down at her, slowing his thrusts until he was gently rocking against her when he noticed the tears in her eyes. He brushed her sweat-dampened hair back from her face before tenderly cupping her cheek.
“Don’t stop…” She whispered, resting her knees against his sides. “Please, don’t stop.”
He leaned down and placed a loving kiss on her lips. When he felt her legs wrap around him and her nails dig into his shoulders, he decided that heavy conversation could wait until later. Besides, he was fairly certain that her tears weren’t coming from him hurting her in any way.
“God, Giles…” She moaned, throwing her head back against the pillow and baring her throat to him.
“Definitely certain.” He muttered to himself, latching his mouth onto her throat and thrusting harder into her.
He sucked at her skin until he felt her loud groan rumble under his lips. He timed it perfectly, lifting his head just as her orgasm crashed over her. If there was one thing he loved more than making her come, it was watching her come. It was nearly his undoing each time they made love.
This time was no exception.
Moving quickly, he rolled onto his back and pushed her up slowly. She took his hint and sat up, resting her hands on his chest as she fought to catch her breath. She looked down at him and smiled, whispering a soft ‘I love you’ before straightening further and arching her back as she rode him.
His eyes darted to her breasts, glistening with sweat and jostling lightly with each movement. When a bead of moisture rolled down her left breast and clung to her nipple, he groaned loudly and gripped her hips.
Realizing that he was getting ready to move her off of him, she covered his hands with hers and shook her head. “Not tonight…”
“Buffy…” He whispered, his eyes conveying a mixture of fear and desire.
“I want this, Giles.” She whispered back. “I want to feel you come inside of me…”
“But – ” He started, his eyes widening when she continued gently.
“And I’m ready…for more…for a child…if you want...”
He could see the sincerity in her eyes and he made a decision that could possibly alter his entire life in less time than he’d used to make any decision prior. He glanced at the bead of sweat still clinging to her nipple and licked his lips.
He met her eyes and gave her a subtle nod before closing his eyes and crying her name in ecstasy as he thrust one more time and came deeply within her.
* * *
Ten minutes later, he was lying on his back, staring at the ceiling, his arm curled around her and her fingers tracing indistinct shapes on his chest as his breathing slowly calmed. Giles’ rationality had apparently returned, Buffy thought as she watched him.
“What’s going on in that head of yours, Giles?”
“Was this about fear?” He asked suddenly, sliding his hand to her lower back as she draped her leg over his thigh. “I mean…is that what spurred your decision?”
She smiled and shook her head before pressing a tender kiss to his chest. “I love you. I want to have a family with you. This was all about love and nothing about fear. Well, almost nothing about fear.”
He turned his head towards her and furrowed his brow. “Almost?”
She propped herself up on her elbow and took a deep breath. “The fear of maybe losing you got me to thinking…about what I want in life. And…well, what I want is you. I want my life to become our life and I want to look into our child’s eyes and know that our love did the most incredible thing and created him or her.”
She smiled as his surprise shown in his eyes. “So fear may have started the thought, but…love finished it.”
“Do you want to get married?” He asked, trailing his fingers down the side of her face.
She chuckled softly. “Not particularly. This isn’t about a piece of paper, Giles. I don’t need to be Buffy Giles to be yours. I’ve been yours for…well, for longer than we’ve been together. I know that you’d marry me if that’s what I wanted, but…I seriously just want you.”
“And a baby.” He added softly, a smile tugging at the corner of his mouth.
“Not a baby…our baby.” She corrected, leaning down to kiss him. “Does all of that make sense?”
His smile appeared full-force. “Absolutely.”
“Good.” She glanced at the clock and heaved a heavy sigh. “What time is our flight?”
His smile faded as her hand came to a rest on his abdomen…directly above where the implant was located. He covered her hand with his, knowing that her concern was resurfacing.
Buffy nodded slowly. “Which means we’ll need to leave at about five, right?”
“We should probably start packing then.”
He grabbed her wrist as she started to move off the bed. “It can wait.”
She started to protest, but gave in quickly as he sat up and leaned in for a kiss. “I guess there’s plenty of time for packing, huh?”
“Plenty.” He whispered, covering her mouth with his and gently pushing her back down to the mattress.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The flight to London had been uneventful.
In fact, once they’d boarded their connecting flight in Los Angeles, they’d fallen asleep fairly quickly. Buffy had been dubious about being able to fall asleep on the plane, but…Giles had thought ahead when booking the tickets.
He hadn’t gone all-out and purchased first-class seats, but…he had opted for business-class. And Buffy was more than comfortable, smiling as she snuggled up next to him and closing her eyes as she listened to him promise that he’d take her on a proper first-class trip one day.
They woke up an hour out of London. Even Giles had been surprised that he’d slept for nearly the entire flight. Hearing her sigh as she looked out the window, Giles regarded her closely.
“What’s wrong, love?”
“It’s so beautiful.” She started, not seeing the proud smile form on his face. “My first trip to your home and it’s all about business. That’s sigh-worthy, you know?”
He leaned over and kissed the back of her head as she continued to look out the window. “Perhaps we could take in a few days worth of sight-seeing while we’re here.”
“Really?” She asked as she turned to face him.
He nodded slowly and glanced out the window. “There are so many things that I want to show you.”
She noticed something flicker in his eyes as he took in the scenery. It was something that she’d only noticed when he looked at her after she’d done something amazing on patrol.
He looked into her eyes and gave her a half-smile. “England will always welcome me home. And it will always be a large part of who I am, whether I reside in California or not. I’m proud of where I come from…and I’m excited to share that part of my life with you.”
She returned his smile and reached up to run her fingers through his sleep-tousled hair. “So, we get the Council stuff over and done with quick-smart, yeah?”
“Yeah…” He murmured, sitting back in his seat before he gave in to his urge to kiss her.
She flashed him a knowing grin and allowed her eyes to drift back to the window.
* * *
Quentin Travers looked up as his office door swung open. His eyes widened in surprise when Rupert Giles walked in, followed quickly by the current active Slayer.
“Rupert, Miss Summers. This is…a surprise.”
Forgoing pleasantries, Giles merely threw a large envelope onto Quentin’s desk. “I think I deserve an explanation.”
Quentin sighed and lowered his pen. “An explanation about x-rays? Surely your doctor in California can explain them to you. I’m not a qualified radiologist, Rupert.”
Giles’ eyes flashed as he stared at Quentin. “It’s an MRI, you ponce. Look at the scans.”
Quentin picked up the envelope in an annoyed manner and pulled the film out. He held it up to the light and immediately saw what Rupert was concerned about.
“Oh my God.” Quentin breathed, narrowing his eyes as he examined it closer.
Giles’ anger was quickly replaced with confusion. “You didn’t know?”
Quentin darted his eyes to Giles. “You thought I was behind this?”
“Who else?” Buffy questioned.
Quentin shook his head quickly. “Implants haven’t been used in over twenty years, Rupert. And…from all I’ve read on them, they were always placed near the brain.”
Giles slowly sank into one of the chairs in front of Quentin’s desk and swallowed hard. “Who did this to me? And why? And…when? When did anyone have the opportunity to…why me?”
Quentin heard the confusion in Giles’ voice and he’d have to be blind to not see the fear in his eyes…as well as in the eyes of the Slayer. It was no secret within the Council that Rupert was in an intimate relationship with Buffy Summers. And seeing the love in the Slayer’s eyes for this man sparked something within Quentin Travers.
Because it was true love…pure and simple.
“I don’t know.” Travers answered honestly, glancing at Buffy and gesturing for her to take a seat next to Giles. “But, I’ll find out.”
“Why?” Buffy asked, earning a surprised look from Travers. “I mean…why are you being so nice and helping him? He doesn’t work for you…I don’t work for you. So, why do you want to help him?”
“Because no one deserves to be controlled in any way by any person or thing. Rupert was a great Watcher…one of the best this organization has ever seen.”
“And yet, you fired him.” Buffy countered, slipping her hand into Giles’.
“It’s not what I wanted to do, Miss Summers.” Quentin admitted softly. “I was under strict orders…your bond was too strong. The Council was concerned that your love for one another, whether romantic or not, would endanger the existence of the world itself. I found no joy in terminating Rupert from his role.”
It was Buffy’s turn to look surprised. “But…you were an ass about the whole thing.”
“If I’d been nice, would it have been any easier?” Quentin asked with a gentle smile. “You would’ve fought me…and then he would’ve fought me. But, I knew that if I were ‘an ass about the whole thing’, you’d be angry…and he’d refuse to leave you. I could’ve had him removed from the country. That’s not what I wanted. The two of you needed one another whether you realized that at that point or not.”
“Oh…” Buffy mumbled.
“But I knew nothing about the implant, I assure you.” He turned his eyes back to Giles. “Your records were sealed before I took over as Head of Council. It’ll take some time to get permission to reopen them. But, I’ll get started right away.”
Giles nodded silently.
“Take Buffy and show her the city at night.” Quentin cast a quick glance towards the window. “The East End has had a fair amount of vampire activity over the last few weeks. Be careful should you venture that far.”
“We have each other.” Buffy stated, making it perfectly clear that she and Giles would be just fine…even if they stumbled into Vampire Central. “When do you think you’ll know something?”
“With any luck, I’ll have the seal broken by morning.”
Buffy nodded and stood, gently pulling a still-stunned Giles up with her. “We’ll be back in the morning, then.”
“Thank you.” Giles added softly.
Quentin gave him an understanding nod and picked up the phone on his desk. As Buffy led Giles out of the office, they heard Quentin start the process of having Giles’ records opened.
Buffy looked up at him and offered him a tender smile. “What does Buckingham Palace look like at night?”
He squeezed her hand and took a deep breath. This was not a night to allow maudlin thoughts to come between them. And so he forced his concerns as far back in his mind as he could and gazed into her eyes.
“It’s a sight to behold.”
“Well, how about we go do some beholding then?”
Giles chuckled, surprising them both, and led her out of the building. He silently hoped that when they returned in the morning, Quentin would have answers…many answers for many questions.
It shocked him that he could put so much hope into Quentin Travers. But, then again…Quentin was the only one with the power to help him. And it was also very obvious that Quentin was telling the truth…about everything.
It was strange to be seeing Quentin Travers in a different light all of the sudden.
* * *
“Wow.” Buffy stated as she sat down on the steps leading up to the statue of Queen Victoria in the mall outside of the Palace. “It definitely is a sight to behold…is that real gold on the gates?”
Giles chuckled and sat down behind her, kissing the top of her head as she leaned back against him and rested her arms on his thighs. “Gold-plated, actually.”
“Have you met the Royal Family?”
Giles laughed and wrapped his arms around her. “Oh yes. I used to come over for Sunday dinner each week.”
Buffy rolled her eyes, but decided to play along. “Why did you stop? Did you and Andrew have an argument over which jam to use on scones?”
Giles snorted, moving his fingers just enough to graze her nipple. “No. I had sex with one of their housekeepers. There are certain lines you don’t cross in the Palace. Fornicating with staff is one of those lines. I was banished from the Palace grounds and haven’t spoken to any of them since.”
Buffy laughed and covered his hand with hers, her laugh turning to a soft sigh as he gently massaged her breast. “That feels nice…”
“Mm…we should stop though. Not the time, nor the place…” He murmured in her ear before nipping her lobe with his teeth.
“Where are we staying?” She asked, tilting her head to the side and shuddering as he glided his lips down her neck.
“There’s a place in The Strand…”
She turned and met his eyes, smiling as her arm brushed his now obvious erection. “Then maybe we should go?”
He grinned and gave her a nod. “We could stop for dinner on the way. Or…there’s room service…”
“Room service sounds pretty good to me.”
He looked at her for a long moment and then reached up, cradling her face between his large hands. It seemed like he was getting ready to say something, but instead he kissed her soundly…not bothering to hide his passion from her as he pushed his tongue into her mouth, even as they sat on the steps outside of Buckingham Palace.
He broke the kiss only when she started to push him backwards, smiling as he shook his head.
“We should go.”
She nodded in agreement and then pushed herself up, looking down at him curiously when he remained sitting.
“I love you.”
She smiled adoringly at him and lightly fingered a slightly unruly strand of hair curling above his left ear. “I love you too. So…let’s go keep each other busy for a few hours, what do you say?”
“A few hours?” He sighed as he stood up and wrapped his arm around her. “I’ll try, but…there was an international flight and jetlag can be fairly bad at times.”
Buffy laughed at his playful banter and leaned against him as they walked along the front of the Palace. She briefly wondered if they’d be laughing like this in the morning…but pushed that thought as far away as she could.
They’d deal with tomorrow’s impending news tomorrow…
* * *
Quentin Travers rubbed his tired eyes as his office door opened. He looked up from the papers on his desk and gave a weary smile.
“Good morning. Please, do come in.”
“Have you been up all night?” Giles asked, glancing around the office.
“Mm.” Quentin murmured and lifted a steaming cup of coffee to his lips. “I had a lot of work to do on this one.”
“Color me impressed.” Buffy stated with a genuine smile as she and Giles took their seats. “Maybe you’re not as evil as I thought you were.”
Quentin chuckled and gestured for his assistant to bring two more cups of coffee. “I’ve never been evil. Misled perhaps, but never evil.”
Giles took the coffee from the assistant and took a sip before clearing his throat. “Were you able to find anything?”
“Always straight to the point. That’s what I have always admired most about you, Rupert.” Quentin smiled as he sat back in his chair. “Yes, I do believe I’ve found something…and quite a lot more.”
“Let’s start with ‘who’.” Giles stated, crossing his left leg over his right and resting his coffee cup on his ankle.
Giles arched an eyebrow. Buffy darted her eyes between Travers and Giles.
“Who’s Marcus Murray?”
“He was a friend of my father’s, taught a languages course when I was in the Academy.” Giles answered quickly. “He was killed by a Costeri demon, from what I recall.”
Quentin nodded in agreement and turned a page towards Giles for him to read. “Marcus noted that, according to your progress in the Academy, you had the potential to become the greatest Watcher in Council history.”
“Well, that doesn’t make sense.” Buffy said, as she read the handwritten note. “Isn’t that a good thing?”
“Not when you’ve been turned down for promotion to Active Watcher five years running…and here comes a seventeen year old kid who will, in all likelihood, be accepted on his first application.” Quentin replied quietly.
“When?” Giles asked, taking another sip of his coffee.
The simple action of him drinking coffee was seemingly calm. But, Buffy knew that underneath his calm exterior, Giles was seething…and more than a little confused. The subtle tension in his shoulders, the barely noticeable twitch in his jaw, his tighter than normal grip on the handle of his coffee cup…he was definitely not calm, but determined not to let that be known by just anyone.
Quentin rifled through the paperwork some more and found the page he was looking for. “You were admitted to the Academy infirmary…”
Giles nodded slowly. “Severe dehydration following a bout of flu.”
Quentin met Giles’ eyes. “The implant was inserted then. It was activated a few weeks later…”
Giles straightened, his eyes widening. “I left the Academy a little over a month after I was released from the infirmary.”
“Um…I’m confused.” Buffy said as she placed her coffee cup on the edge of Quentin’s desk. “This Marcus guy…he puts this thing in Giles’ brain to make him leave the Academy.”
“Yes.” Quentin agreed, folding his hands as he nodded.
“But…Giles came back…and now the implant is pretty far away from his brain. How does that work?”
Quentin pulled an old x-ray out of the file and held it up for them both to see. “This was taken during your physical upon your return to the Academy. The implant had been dislodged somehow and was already working its way down through your body.”
Giles narrowed his eyes in thought as Buffy asked a very valid question.
“Why didn’t Marcus just do another implant?”
“Luckily for Rupert, the practice of using implants as a means of control had been abolished during his absence. Once he passed his physical and then went through the mandatory rehabilitation period…there was nothing holding him back any further.”
“Huh…” Buffy sat back and glanced at Giles. “Well, that would explain the non-Gilesy behaviour. The drugs, the magick, the demon-raising…”
Giles stared at her and, for a moment, Buffy thought he was angry with her for mentioning it. Then he lowered his eyes and ran his fingers through his hair.
“When Eyghon jumped from me to Randall, I thought I felt something…” He shook his head and swallowed hard. “Even through the high, things seemed…clearer…”
Quentin nodded slowly. “My initial thought was that at some point during that time, something had caused the implant to dislodge. When the connection was lost, so was the control.”
“I didn’t come back immediately though.” Giles stated absently. “I suppose that the further the device moved, the clearer things became…the more my real self resurfaced.”
Buffy rubbed the back of his hand with her thumb. “Giles?”
Giles returned his gaze to Quentin. “What will happen if it’s removed?”
“As far as I know, nothing.”
“Get rid of it.” Giles said, more as an order than a request.
He turned towards her and exhaled slowly. “I want to build a family with you. And I’d like to do that without any mind-controlling devices stuck in my body, whether they’re active or not. I need it gone, Buffy.”
Any argument that she had considered making disappeared as he whispered that last sentence to her. Instead, she gave him an understanding smile.
“A family?” Quentin asked, surprised at the declaration. “You’re starting a family?”
Buffy smiled and held Giles’ hand in both of hers. “We’re trying.”
Quentin smiled and fingered the edge of a document that he had decided not to show them. They didn’t need to know that this had been foretold generations earlier. Some things in life deserved to be a surprise.
Rupert now understood the reason behind his desertion of the Academy and the turmoil that resulted from it. He and Buffy were obviously deeply in love. Quentin would schedule the surgery to remove the implant at the Council-approved hospital located in the English countryside…and once they returned to the city, he would more than likely ask Rupert Giles to return to Council.
A Watcher of his calibre could be just what Quentin Travers needed to turn the Council around…to make it what it should’ve always been. An entity that the Slayer could trust and come to in times of trouble instead of fear and question.
And he had a lot of work to do in order to regain the trust of Buffy Summers.
“You should take her to Westonbirt. It’s beautiful this time of year.”
Giles nodded and shot Buffy a loving smile. “Everything is beautiful this time of year.”
“Sap.” Buffy whispered, even as she leaned into him and placed a soft kiss on his lips.
Quentin gathered his research together and slipped it into a manilla folder, which he then placed in his desk. Yes, he had a lot of work to do…but, he’d already taken the largest step. And he had to admit, putting things right with Rupert and Buffy felt good and…right.
Quentin smiled when he realized that neither Buffy nor Giles were paying attention to anything other than each other anymore. He knew, without a doubt, that everything was going to be fine between them…after all, it was a beautiful time of year.