Timeline: A few years after the implosion of Sunnydale.
Synopsis: Buffy and Giles are not as they once were.
Author’s Note: After a nine year break, Buffy and Giles found their way back into my head. Special thanks to A for taking the time to go through this for me.
Giles refilled his tumbler for the third time, glancing out the window as he lifted the drink to his lips. The rain had started a few hours earlier and was showing no signs of letting up. If anything, the drops were getting larger and the speed of the downfall was increasing. He swallowed the amber liquid, making his way to the window.
He stared into the backyard, willing his mind to simply shut up…to stop…
As the memory flashed again, he sighed deeply and took another drink. The memory was vivid. He could feel the rain drenching his clothes, soaking his skin, as he trained with Buffy in the yard. He could smell the earth as he landed heavily on his back when he slipped through a patch of mud while attempting to dodge her punch. He could feel the weight of her body landing on top of him as he pulled her down with him. He could hear her breath, feel its heat as she panted heavily. He could see her eyes, darkening with passion as she lowered her mouth to his. And he could taste…her…as her tongue slipped into his mouth.
He swallowed hard, fingers tightening around the tumbler as he turned and made his way to the sofa. He sat down heavily, groaning in frustration as he downed the rest of his drink and shut his eyes in an attempt to stop the memories from invading his mind again.
It had been two years since that afternoon. And it had been nearly as long since he had seen Buffy. There had been a few phone calls, each ending with him disconnecting the line in what could have been taken as anger. But, the fact of the matter was…it hurt too much to talk to her. So, he simply didn’t.
He did his best to not even think about what had happened between them that day. And, for the most part, he was somewhat successful. Except for when it rained.
And it rained a great deal in England.
He clenched his jaw and lifted the tumbler, rolling his eyes when he realised it was empty.
“Bloody hell…” He mumbled, pushing himself up and making his way back over to the liquor cabinet.
He picked up the bottle and wondered why he was even bothering pouring drinks…when he knew damn well that he would end up finishing the bottle anyway. He scoffed to himself and refilled the glass again.
A knock on the door sounded as he placed the bottle on the shelf. A sigh of annoyance escaped him as he made his way to the door, downing half of the glass on the way. A second knock sounded as he turned the knob and pulled the door open.
“What?” He grumbled, eyes narrowing as he recognised his visitor. He shook his head slowly and turned away, walking back into the living area.
“Um…can I come in?” Buffy asked, concern filling her as she watched him pull another glass out and fill it with scotch.
“Why not?” He muttered, taking a deep breath when he heard the door close. “What do you need, Buffy?”
“You okay?” She asked, walking into the living room and taking a quick look around.
He turned towards her, handing her the glass, and chuckled. She was quick to notice that there was no amusement in his eyes to go along with the sound.
“Perfectly. What do you need?”
She took the glass and bit her lip nervously. “To…talk…”
He gave a quick nod and moved across the room, sitting down on one of the two chairs opposite the sofa. “Demon? Vampire? Apocalypse?”
“Us.” She stated softly as she sat down on the sofa.
“Us…” He echoed, an iciness in his tone that he didn’t even try to hide. “Well, now…that’s an interesting subject.”
He leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees as he stared at her. “Buffy, there is no…us. I’m no longer your Watcher. I haven’t been for a very long time.”
“I’m not talking about Watcher/Slayer. I’m talking about Buffy/Giles.”
He shook his head incredulously. “There is no us…in any manifestation.”
She placed her glass on the table next to the sofa and sighed. “There was before – ”
“You fucked me?” He interrupted, taking a sip from his glass, his eyes not leaving hers as he awaited her reply.
“I…thought we made love.” She whispered.
“As did I…” He sat back in the chair and gave a small shrug, lifting the glass to his lips. “…until you left.”
“I didn’t know what to do…” She offered quietly. “I…I didn’t know…”
He rolled his eyes and finished his drink. “There’s this ingenious form of communication…it’s called…talking.” He dropped his tumbler onto the coffee table and stood up, quickly grabbing the bottle of scotch before returning to his chair. “Talking…if you cared…”
“I did…I do…” She watched as he refilled his glass. “How many have you had?”
He ignored her question and narrowed his eyes at her. “If you cared, then you should have talked to me. Leaving is what you do after a fuck – which is what I’ve been doing for the past two years.”
He stood up suddenly and made his way to the window. “Why are you here? Why now? Why…today?”
She sighed heavily and picked her glass of scotch up from the table. She shook her head slowly and took a large swallow. She closed her eyes briefly and took a deep breath before looking at him, not surprised to find him still staring out the window with his back to her.
“I wanted to apologise.”
He scoffed, shaking his head in frustration. “Apologise? Again? ‘Hey, Giles…sorry for fucking and – ’ ”
“Giles, stop…” She interrupted, standing up and taking a step towards him.
He turned quickly, his dark eyes staring into hers. “Jesus Christ, Buffy…what the fuck do you want from me?”
She exhaled slowly, finishing her drink and dropping the empty glass onto the coffee table. “I was wrong. What I did was…wrong. I panicked. You’re right, I should have talked to you. I should have…but, I was scared and I really, really didn’t know what to do. I’ve tried to talk to you since, but…you always hang up on me.”
“Because this is a discussion that shouldn’t be had over a phoneline, Buffy.” He replied curtly, glancing towards the bottle next to her glass.
“Which is why I’m here.” She agreed, shaking her head gently as he started towards the coffee table. “Please don’t drink anymore tonight…”
“I’m not drunk, Buffy. I’m not even what you would classify as ‘tipsy’. I honestly don’t think I can get drunk anymore.”
“Then why drink?” She questioned, tilting her head as he looked at her again.
“Because I want to forget.” His tone was soft, but not without conviction. “I don’t want to remember what you feel like…what you taste like.”
She nodded towards the bottle. “Does it work?”
“Hasn’t yet.” He blew out a shaky breath and cleared his throat. “Alcohol, marijuana, sex…nothing seems to work.”
She raised an eyebrow at him. “Drugs? Seriously, Giles?”
He rolled his eyes and walked over to the desk on the other side of the room. “Marijuana, Buffy.” He opened the drawer and pulled out a pack of cigarettes, shaking one out and meeting her gaze. “Nothing heavier.”
She regarded him carefully as he reached for a lighter. “I thought you stopped smoking.”
His jaw immediately clenched and he closed his eyes briefly in an effort to remain calm. When he reopened them, he stared at her and subtly shook his head. “You can’t do this. You can’t come here, after two years, and question every single fucking thing I do. It’s not your place to do that. You are not my Watcher or my keeper.”
She nodded softly in agreement. “I’m sorry.”
“I can’t do this, Buffy. You…” He blew out a deep breath and gestured towards the front door. “You should leave.”
“Giles…” She started, stopping as he turned and walked out of the room. She heard the back door open and close…and then watched as he lit the cigarette on the back porch.
Unsure of what to do, she simply stood there and watched him. Had she made a mistake coming here? Was their broken bond salvageable? Would they even be able to be in the same room together without everything falling apart? Her throat tightened, signalling impending tears, as she realised that she couldn’t actually answer any of those questions. She had no idea…about anything.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Giles inhaled deeply, flicking his ashes over the railing as he blew the smoke out of his nose. The rain was harder now…the memories clearer. Her being in his home wasn’t helping, not in the least. If anything, it was making his pain deeper…more palpable…more…
He sighed heavily, hearing the door open and close…soft footsteps on the wooden deck barely audible over the rain. He took another drag from the cigarette and shook his head slowly.
“I’m not sure what you want from me, Buffy. Forgiveness? How am I supposed to do that? I gave you…” He took a shaky breath and cleared his throat. “It was so long ago.”
“But it still hurts.”
He nodded, lifting the cigarette to his lips. “Quite.”
“It’s…it’s hard to tell the difference between anger and pain over the phone.”
He exhaled slowly, the smoke swirling lightly in the air. “Oh, there was…is…anger. Still, there’s anger.” He turned and looked into her eyes. “You…hurt me, Buffy. More than I can…or want to…put into words. Anger, pain…and regret.”
“Regret?” She questioned, softly.
He glanced into the yard, calculating his next words carefully. “I shouldn’t have.”
“I kissed you.”
“Mm-hm.” He turned back to her and shook his head sadly. “And I should have stopped it there. But, no…I didn’t do that. No, instead I allowed myself to…feel. And that was my error, my…lapse in judgement, as it were.”
She reached out, her fingertips barely brushing his forearm before he pulled away. He took two steps away from her and crushed out his cigarette in the ashtray.
“No. No, don’t…don’t touch me.”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean – ”
“I’m so fucking sick of hearing ‘I’m sorry’…” He grumbled, moving towards the deck railing. “I’m not drunk, but…I don’t think I would make the best of choices right now. No matter how sorry you are…or you’re not..”
Buffy furrowed her brow in confusion. “Huh?”
“Even now. After all of the pain…all of the anger…even with the regret I carry.” He cleared his throat, staring into the rain. “I’d still not be able to stop it. So, I’d like to maintain some semblance of self-respect here…and in order to do that, I need…” He met her eyes and shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t know what I need anymore.”
“You need me to go.” She stated softly.
He started to nod in agreement, then shook his head, then gave another shrug. “Go, stay…I simply don’t know anymore. Help me finish the bottle, share a joint…I’m…I’m honestly at a loss.”
“Giles, I – ”
“But, don’t ask me to take you to bed. Because I won’t be able to say no. And that would quite possibly destroy me completely.” The words fell from his lips on a whisper and he chuckled sadly when she inhaled sharply. “And…that was intended to be a thought in my head. So much for my semblance of self-control.”
“I think we should talk, Giles. Really talk. Because…there’s a lot of misunderstanding going on here.”
“Bloody hell, Buffy.” He leaned against the railing and crossed his arms over his chest. “Misunderstanding?”
“I’m not saying anything right right now, am I?”
He shook his head gently. “It’s not about saying the right thing…or the wrong thing, for that matter. Weather like this…my emotions are anything but stable.”
“What do you mean? Weather like this…what does that have to do with anything?”
His eyes narrowed as he gestured towards the yard. “Because when there’s a downpour, I relive everything.”
“Why is that my fault?” She asked, genuinely confused. “Who are you really angry at? Me? Or…yourself?”
His eyes darkened slightly and he was quiet for a long few minutes. Just when she was beginning to think he had completely shut down from the conversation, he cleared his throat.
He pushed off from the railing and walked past her and back into the house. She shook her head in frustration, pausing when her eyes hesitated on a particular spot in the yard. The spot where he had lost his balance and pulled her down with him as he fell. The spot where she had kissed him. The spot where he had returned her kiss, both of them drenched from the rain.
“Damn it…” She muttered softly as she turned to follow him into the house.
She stopped suddenly, her eyes darting around the living room. “Giles?”
He appeared from the hallway, sliding his arms into his jacket. “What?”
“What are you doing?”
He plucked his keys from the hook on the wall. “Going out.”
She glanced at the nearly empty bottle of scotch and shook her head. “Um…I don’t think that’s a good idea. I can drive you somewhere, if you need to – ”
He barked out a short laugh. “You’re going to drive me to the pub so I can find someone to – ”
It was her turn to interrupt him, her anger building quickly. “Fuck you, Giles.”
“Precisely.” He ground out, slipping his keys into the pocket of his jeans. “This is what I do, Buffy. This is how I keep somewhat sane. It rains…like this…a downpour. I drink. I smoke. I fuck. It’s how I cope.”
She huffed and walked to stand between him and the door. “Healthy…”
“It’s better than the alternative.”
She arched an eyebrow and crossed her arms, staring at him expectantly. “Which is?”
“Sitting home and feeling sorry for myself, wondering how it went so wrong so quickly…and wondering what I could possibly do to rectify it. Knowing…” He paused for just a few seconds. “Knowing there’s nothing. Because it was…nothing.”
She held her hand out, silently asking for his keys. He shook his head, lowering his voice to a near whisper. “No, Buffy.”
“You’re not driving in this state…in this weather. Not while I’m here.”
“Then leave. Again.” He stated sternly, moving to push past her.
She grabbed his jacket and shook her head. “You’re not driving.”
He looked down at her hands before meeting her eyes, not bothering to try to hide his rising anger. “Let go, Buffy.”
She shook her head again, eyes beginning to glisten. “I can’t…I won’t.”
“Why are you here?” He took two steps forward, stopping when her back touched the door. “Are you here?”
“What?” She asked on a barely audible whisper.
“Has my sanity finally slipped?” His breath hitched in his chest. “Because…why would you be here now? After all of this time? There’s no…reason…for you to be here. Which leads me to believe that…you’re not.”
“I’m here, Giles.” She said forcefully, tightening her grip on his jacket and spinning around, pushing him against the door. “I’m here.”
He swallowed hard as he stared at her. “Please…let go of me.”
Hearing the sadness in his tone, she released her grip on his jacket and took a shaky breath. “I can’t let you leave…”
He stared into her eyes. Sighing heavily after a few seconds, he pulled the keys out of his pocket and handed them to her. “Why are you here?”
“I miss…us…” She whispered, a single tear spilling down her cheek.
He moved around her and made his way to the sofa, dropping heavily onto the cushion. She wiped her face and followed him, sitting on the chair he had been sitting in earlier. After a few moments, he took a deep breath and rubbed the back of his neck.
“So…this is you coping?” She asked quietly.
“I think you should work on your coping mechanisms. Alcohol, drugs, and sex? How’s that working for you?”
He opened his mouth to respond, closing it when he realised that there was no decent answer. Instead, he merely gave her a shrug and lowered his eyes.
“People are concerned about you, Giles.”
“Who called you?” He asked, lifting his gaze to hers.
“I’m concerned about you, Giles.”
“People are concerned? Or…you’re concerned?” He licked his suddenly dry lips and repeated his question. “Who called you?”
“No one. I’ve been calling. Once you stopped even answering my calls, I started calling other people…and when the Head of Council starts taking unexplained leaves of absence, people start talking.”
“I’m entitled to leave, Buffy.”
“Yeah…” She reached over and picked up the nearly empty bottle. “But, when you can drink this and still function…there’s a problem. I’m not going to comment on the pot…because, well, that would be the pot calling the kettle black…”
Giles raised an eyebrow. “Oh? The Slayer shouldn’t – ”
“Hello, kettle…nice to meet you.”
He rolled his eyes and gestured for her to continue. She held up the bottle and tightened her fingers around it.
“This is a problem.”
“So…this is an intervention…”
“Goddamn it, Giles!” She threw the bottle, not flinching as it shattered against the wall. “It’s not a fucking intervention!”
“You sure about that, love? Because, you’re…intervening…”
She narrowed her eyes at him. “What are you doing? Picking a fight?”
“Quite possibly.” He admitted, running his left hand through his hair. “Anything else you’d like to discuss concerning my coping mechanisms?”
She shook her head slowly. “No, no there’s not. Because…I can’t talk about it. And I’m not even sure that there’s much point talking about anything else right now either. I don’t…” She exhaled slowly and continued. “I don’t want to fight with you. I don’t want to hear about what you do, who you do it with…I’m here because I’m concerned. Because I care. Because I miss you. And because…I was wrong in leaving.”
He furrowed his brow as she stood up. His eyes narrowed when he saw her pick up her bag and put it over her shoulder.
“What are you doing?”
She shrugged a shoulder, while digging her keys out of the bag. “Going to the hotel.”
“So…you’re leaving?” He asked, standing up and slipping his hands into the pockets of his jeans.
“Giles…” She sighed and met his eyes. “You literally told me to leave. And, like I said, I don’t want to fight and there’s nothing more to say right now. So, I’m going to the hotel and I’ll come back tomorrow…when things are clearer…if that’s okay with you.”
He nodded slowly. “I…have a guest room…”
“You really are all over the place, aren’t you?” She asked gently, wrapping her fingers around her keys.
“I…yes, I suppose I am.” He took a step forward, his eyes not breaking their gaze. “Truth be told…I don’t really want you to go, Buffy. But…I don’t trust myself. So…I have a guest room. And maybe we could talk in the morning…when I’m not under the influence?”
She regarded him carefully, knowing that she didn’t want to leave…but wanting to make sure that he truly wanted her to stay.
She sighed softly, giving him a gentle nod. “Okay. But…we have to talk, Giles. Really talk – and we have to be prepared to listen to each other.”
He nodded in agreement. “Do you…do you have a bag? Or is it at the hotel?”
“It’s in the car.” She replied, slipping her handbag from her shoulder and dropping it on the chair.
“I, uh…I can bring it in for you.” He stated, a smile finally showing on his face when she handed him her keys.
“It’s on the back seat.”
He gave her a gentle nod and opened the front door. As he walked out into the rain, she sat down on the sofa and waited. When he ran back in, bag in hand and water dripping from his hair, she smiled softly.
She wasn’t sure what tomorrow would bring, but she hoped for the best. She wasn’t naïve enough to think it was going to be easy – alcoholism, trust issues, anger, pain. Their new challenges were only beginning, but the rain was on it’s way out according to the weather report – so, maybe they could at least start out on the right foot. And maybe one day, further down the track, she’d be able to tell him what she hadn’t been able to tell him two years earlier.
That she loved him. That she’d loved him before that day in the rain. That she’s loved him since.
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