Title: Instant Memories
Timeline: S5ish, no Dawn, no Glory, no Riley.
Synopsis: Head injuries are tricky things.
Author’s Note: Special thanks to fairygothmum for the beta on this one.
Xander glanced at his girlfriend and shook his head. “Yeah, well...it’s eleven-thirty at night...”
“It’s cold.” Anya continued in a huff.
“It’s winter...it’s supposed to be cold.” Willow responded in an annoyed tone.
“We’re in a cemetery.”
Buffy rolled her eyes. “Because this is where the vampire ran...”
“I don’t like this.”
Giles stopped and turned towards Anya. Even in the dark of the night, she could see the flash of anger in his eyes.
“I’m not particularly fond of your penchant for continually stating the obvious. We all know that it’s dark and cold...we all know that we’re currently in a cemetery. And, trust me, Anya...we all know that you don’t like this.”
“You’re grumpy.” Anya stated.
“Grumpy does not begin to accurately describe my mindset at this moment. In fact – ”
“Giles!” Buffy interrupted him with a panicked scream.
Giles started to turn his head to look behind him.
A blinding flash of pain exploded in his head...and then all was dark.
Buffy stared in horror as Giles crumpled to the ground without another sound coming from him. The vampire stepped forward and licked his lips as he twirled the bat in his hand.
“One down, four to go.”
Buffy didn’t take the time to pun. Instead, she pulled the stake from her back pocket and pegged it at the vampire as she ran towards Giles. The demon’s yellow eyes widened as he screamed, the stake lodging deep within his heart.
Buffy was on her knees at Giles’ side before the ash had stopped falling to the ground.
She carefully tilted his head to get a better view of his injury as the others came over to help. She was more than surprised to find that there was no blood...but, there was a lump above and behind his ear that was already the size of a large egg.
“This is what I meant by ‘I don’t like this’...I knew something was going to happen.” Anya said as she looked around for more vampires. “And now Giles is unconscious...again.”
“Because he was arguing with you.” Buffy stated angrily as she checked his pulse.
“Well, I didn’t – ”
“Shut up, Anya.” Willow ground out, kneeling on the other side of Giles’ prone body and looking up at Xander. “Take her home, Xander...”
Xander darted his eyes from Willow to Anya to Buffy, who had gone back to examining the side of Giles’ head, and then back to Willow. “But...”
Willow narrowed her eyes. “If you don’t take her home, I’m going to hit her. And we have more important things to deal with right now.”
Xander sighed heavily. “You know she didn’t mean – ”
“I know. She never means anything, but...”
“Bloody hell...” Giles groaned, his brow furrowing as he rolled onto his side. “Am I still alive?”
Buffy made a sound that was half-laugh and half-sniffle. “Yeah, you’re alive, Giles. You really scared me though...”
“I feel like hell...”
“You were hit with a baseball bat.” Anya supplied, tilting her head thoughtfully as she looked at him. “And...it may be the lack of light, but you look a little green.”
“Xander, call an ambulance.” Buffy whispered urgently as Giles began to tremble.
“No...” Giles forced his eyes open to find Buffy’s worried gaze fixed on him. “I’ll be fine.”
“Yeah, I don’t think so. I’ve seen my fair share of concussions, thanks to you. And you’re looking a lot like you did when Miss Post used your head for batting practice.”
“She hit me with a statue, not a bat.” Giles replied, closing his eyes against the pain. “But, I see your point.”
“Xander?” Willow whispered, looking up at him pointedly.
Xander nodded quickly and grabbed Anya’s hand. “We’ll be right back!”
Giles took a deep breath, hoping to keep himself from vomiting. When he felt the nausea ease off a bit, he slowly opened his eyes. He could hear Anya bickering with Xander over the quickest route to take to the nearest payphone and sighed.
“I’ll be dead before they come to an agreement...”
Buffy’s lips twitched slightly. “That’s not funny.”
He looked up at her and smiled gently. “And yet...I almost made you smile.”
“You scared me.” Buffy whispered, fighting back her tears.
Willow watched them, not surprised by Buffy’s reaction...but somewhat surprised by Giles lifting his hand to her thigh. Judging by the look on Buffy’s face, she was a little surprised as well.
“Please don’t cry.” He said softly before glancing down at his hand. “Where’s my ring?”
“Your Watcher’s ring?” Buffy asked, continuing before he could reply. “As far as I know it’s still at the jeweller’s. You cracked the onyx in it, remember?”
Giles started to shake his head, but thought better of it. “No...no, not that one. My wedding ring? Where is it?”
Willow’s eyes widened even more as her mouth dropped open. Buffy stared at him for a moment and then shook her head slowly. Before she could say anything, Willow gave him an answer.
“I think I saw you take it off before we left for patrol. Something about not wanting it coated in Frelnik blood?”
“Ah...” Giles murmured, closing his eyes. “Makes sense...”
“In the way that it doesn’t.” Buffy muttered, the sounds of sirens wailing in the distance catching her attention. “There’s no way that they could’ve gotten to a payphone that quickly.”
“Could’ve come across one on its way back to the hospital...not that far.” Giles stated groggily. “Christ, I’m tired...”
“Don’t you dare go to sleep, Giles! Not when the ambulance is almost here!” Buffy cried, panic seeping into her voice.
Giles opened his eyes and looked up at her. “I promised you that I wouldn’t leave you, didn’t I?”
“Yeah...” Buffy nodded slowly, eyes brimming with a new onslaught of tears.
“And have I yet to break a promise to you?”
Buffy shook her head, glancing up as three paramedics came running into the cemetery with a stretcher. “No, you haven’t...not yet, anyway.”
“I shan’t start now.” He murmured, licking his lips as the nausea hit him again.
Buffy reluctantly moved back...just enough to allow the paramedics room to do what they needed. She stood and bit her lip in concern as Giles finally lost his battle with the nausea, rolling onto his side quickly as his stomach purged itself of its contents.
Willow moved to Buffy’s side, glancing at her before sighing heavily. “He’ll be okay, Buffy.”
Buffy nodded absently, swallowing thickly as Giles raised his hand and gave her a weak wave. She waved back and stated that they’d be right behind him before giving him a gentle order to do whatever the paramedics requested.
Even in pain, Giles managed to shoot her a glare before rolling his eyes as the paramedics began the task of rolling the stretcher out of the cemetery. As Willow took a step forward, Buffy wrapped her hand around her wrist, stopping her movement.
“What’s a Frelnik?”
Willow looked at her in confusion for a second before it clicked. “Oh! It’s a demon that I read about the other day...its blood dissolves gold. It was the first thing I thought of and I wanted to keep him from panicking.”
Buffy nodded again, watching the paramedics closely as they talked to Giles while they carried him over an upturned headstone. “He thinks he’s married...”
Willow opened her mouth and then closed it again, not knowing what to say. She noticed the tears in Buffy’s eyes, the moonlight reflecting in the light sheen. She swallowed softly and gently tugged Buffy forward.
“Come on, we can probably beat the ambulance there if we get Xander to drive us over.”
Lifting her free hand, Buffy wiped a tear from the corner of her eye and nodded slowly. “Yeah...”
Willow wondered if Buffy’s current state was all about Giles’ injury. She and Xander had discussed the possibility of something growing between Buffy and Giles, but neither had mentioned it to Buffy yet.
And now wasn’t the right time either.
* * *
“Who do you think he thinks he’s married to?”
Buffy glanced at Willow as they wandered aimlessly through the halls of the hospital, each holding a cup of coffee, and then shrugged her shoulder. “I don’t know. Olivia, maybe?”
Willow took a sip of her coffee and sighed. “I hope it’s not Miss Calendar…because that’d mean he’s lost a lot of time in his head…”
“I’m not sure how he’d take it if we had to tell him that Jenny’s dead. It was bad enough the night she died.”
“But, do you think he’d consider marrying Olivia?” Willow asked, continuing quickly when Buffy’s eyes met hers again. “I mean, it seemed to be more like a sex thing with them. Even I agreed with Anya on that one.”
“I don’t know.” Buffy repeated softly as they stepped into the waiting room to find Xander and Anya dozing on a small couch. “We should probably wake them up…get them to take you home. Oz will be home in the morning, right?”
“Yeah…” Willow raised an eyebrow at Buffy. “Don’t you want to go home too?”
Buffy shook her head and glanced over her shoulder, towards Giles’ room. “He hates having to spend the night in the hospital. He’d stay for me…I’ll stay for him.”
“Besides, someone needs to be there to field the questions and answers that may or may not have anything to do with his fictional wife…”
“Yeah, I guess so. I can stay with you if you want me to.”
“Thanks.” Buffy whispered sincerely, reaching out to rub Willow’s arm. “But, it’ll be okay. I’ll see you in class tomorrow morning, okay?”
Willow exhaled deeply, biting her bottom lip in uncertainty. “You’re sure?”
“Positive.” Buffy stated confidently, tossing her coffee cup into the nearest bin.
* * *
Buffy made her way back into Giles’ room, biting her bottom lip in thought as she closed the door behind her. She wasn’t sure if she was relieved or disappointed in the fact that he was asleep. Of course, he needed the rest, but…she wanted to know more about his ‘wife’.
She lowered herself into the chair next to his bed and sighed softly. Did she really? Did she really want to know that there was someone in his life who he could consider giving his heart to? And did she really want to know who that person was?
What if it was Jenny? Willow had made a good point. If he thought he was married to Jenny, then…well, Buffy didn’t even want to think about what that meant in reality.
Her eyes darted to the door when it opened. A young nurse walked in, pushing a small machine into the room. She offered Buffy a gentle smile and gestured to the sleeping patient.
“I just need to check his vitals.”
Buffy nodded and drew her legs up…resting her heels on the seat of the chair and wrapping her arms around her knees. She watched as the nurse wrapped the cuff around Giles’ upper arm.
“He’s going to be okay, right?”
The nurse pushed a button on the machine and met Buffy’s eyes. “Well, I’m not a doctor…but, this is the observation wing and not intensive care. I think he’ll be just fine.”
“Good.” Buffy returned her gaze to Giles and swallowed thickly. “Good…”
The nurse wrote the blood pressure readings in Giles’ chart and then smiled warmly at Buffy. “He’ll be fine if you want to go home to get some rest. He’ll more than likely sleep the rest of the night.”
“Huh?” Buffy shook her head as she looked at the nurse. “Oh…no. No, he wouldn’t leave me alone. I can’t…I need to stay with him until he wakes up.”
The nurse tilted her head slightly. It was obvious that there was something between the two…and she was fairly certain that it wasn’t familial. The young girl looked nothing like this Rupert Giles…and her concern seemed to be more like that of a lover.
The nurse nodded and gestured towards a button on the wall. “If you need anything, just push that button.”
“Thank you.” Buffy whispered, turning her attention back to Giles.
The nurse quietly left the room, closing the door behind her.
* * *
Giles inhaled sharply, clenching his eyes against a sudden pain in his head. He exhaled slowly as the pain faded and opened his eyes. He sighed as he realized that he was obviously in a hospital room.
He lifted each hand carefully and was relieved to find that neither arm was home to any I.V. needles. That meant that his injury wasn’t nearly as bad as he’d worried about…and that he was being observed.
He rolled his head to the right and smiled. Buffy had stayed. His smile faded slightly as the thought that she could not possibly be comfortable in that chair flitted through his mind. He reached out and lightly tapped her knee with his finger.
Buffy’s eyes opened instantly and she sat up, concern in her eyes. “Hey, you need the doctor?”
Giles chuckled softly and carefully rolled onto his side. “No. But, you can’t sleep there.”
Buffy furrowed her brow and Giles sleepily patted the mattress of the hospital bed. “Um…”
“Plenty of room, Buffy. If you insist on staying, you need to rest. And you can’t rest in an uncomfortable hospital chair. Come on…”
Buffy started to argue, but found that she was too tired. Not only that…Giles had that look in his eyes. He wouldn’t take no for an answer…and she didn’t really want to argue with him right now.
And so, against her better judgement, she carefully climbed into the bed with him and stretched out…her back against his chest. He pulled the blanket up over her and sighed softly.
Before she had a chance to say anything to him, she noticed that his breathing had evened out once again in sleep. She yawned deeply and allowed her eyes to close. She’d wait and see how he was in the morning before she made the decision of whether or not to go to her classes the next day.
* * *
Willow looked up as Buffy rushed into the lecture hall. She tilted her head and raised an eyebrow as Buffy quickly slid into the seat next to her.
“I kinda wasn’t expecting you to be in class today.”
Buffy snorted softly and flipped open her notebook. “Giles was pretty adamant that I not miss class today. Um…do you have a pen I can borrow?”
Willow nodded and pulled an extra Bic out of her bag, meeting Buffy’s eyes as she handed it to her. “How is he?”
Buffy took the pen and sighed as she uncapped it. “He’s going to have a headache for a few days…and that lump on his head looks really nasty. But…the doctor said he’s going to be fine.”
“Does he still think he’s married?”
Buffy paused, gently twirling the pen between her fingers. “He didn’t mention being married this morning…”
Willow arched an eyebrow, getting the feeling that Buffy wasn’t telling her something. “But?”
“He was more affectionate than he’s ever been. Even insisted I sleep on the bed with him when he woke up and I was asleep in the chair.”
Willow smiled softly, her next statement said only in half-jest. “Maybe he thinks he’s married to you.”
Buffy snorted, a little louder than she intended, and then coughed. “Um…no. No, I really doubt it.”
“Why? I mean – ”
“He was a perfect gentleman, Will. Didn’t try anything…not last night, not this morning. Didn’t even go for a kiss when I was leaving.” Buffy smiled, hoping that it was real enough to get past Willow’s keen sense of intuition. “If he thought he was married to me, surely he’d at least try to kiss me.”
Willow opened her mouth to respond, but was interrupted by the professor walking into the room and immediately starting his lecture.
Buffy’s smile had a sadness behind it that made Willow wonder if Buffy was more upset about the entire situation than she was letting on.
She’d ask her more about it after class…
* * *
Anya sat in the chair, arms crossed over her chest as she watched Giles tie his shoes. “Are you sure you should be going home?”
Giles smiled as Xander rolled his eyes.
“It’s merely a concussion, Anya. I’ve dealt with more of these than I care to remember.”
“Yeah, that’s what I mean. What if this is the one that’s turned your brain to mush or something?”
Giles raised an eyebrow and chuckled. “My brain is not mush…according to the scans I had last night. I just need to take it easy for a few days and I’ll be fine. Besides…I’d like to be home before Buffy gets there.”
Xander furrowed his brow. “Buffy? She has classes today…”
“Mm…I know.” Giles agreed as he stood up and grabbed his jacket. “But, she always comes home for lunch.”
Giles sighed and slipped his arms into his jacket. “Today is Wednesday…I know this because yesterday was Tuesday. On Wednesdays, Buffy comes home for lunch…Anya teases me enough about leaving her in charge for an hour or two on Wednesdays.”
Xander glanced at Anya, who shrugged her shoulders. “Um…why?”
“I’m sure I have no idea.” Giles stated as he signed his discharge papers. “You’d think that the idea of Buffy and I being married would be not so novel after a year. Yet…Anya still finds humour in it for some reason…”
“Married?” Xander choked out as Anya’s mouth dropped open. “You and Buffy?”
Giles looked at Xander in confusion. His response to Xander’s strange question was cut short when Anya uttered a simple statement that threatened to rock Giles’ world.
“You’re not married. As far as I know, the last person you even had sex with was Olivia.”
Giles looked at her sharply, feeling his confusion grow as he recognized the seriousness in Anya’s eyes. His mouth opened, then closed…then opened again as he cleared his throat.
“I…I have to go home. Buffy will…she’ll be home for lunch soon. I…”
Anya shook her head slowly, standing and placing her hand on Giles’ arm. “She won’t.”
Giles stared at her for a few moments, his thoughts racing. Surely they were playing some cruel joke on him. He remembered their first kiss, an innocent kiss under a sprig of mistletoe the previous year that had quickly turned into more. He remembered their first date, he remembered telling their friends and her mother…he remembered making love to her, asking her to be his wife. He remembered watching her walk down the aisle towards him, Xander at his side.
But, now…at this very moment…he saw the very real concern and confusion etched on both their faces as they stared at him.
“I…don’t understand…” Giles whispered, taking a step back.
Xander pulled out his cellphone and quickly dialled Buffy’s number. Buffy answered on the second ring.
“Buffy…we have a problem.” Xander said, watching Anya run after Giles as he left the room. “I think you’d better get over to Giles’ place. Like…now.”
* * *
Buffy ran through the front door of Giles’ apartment, Willow right on her heels. Buffy stopped suddenly, seeing the tears in Anya’s eyes.
“Oh, God…what’s wrong?”
Xander cleared his throat and tilted his head towards the loft as he continued rubbing Anya’s back. “He’s upstairs. He’s…upset…”
Buffy nodded numbly and met Anya’s eyes. “Why are you crying?”
“I don’t know.” Anya whispered emotionally. “I think…I think I care a lot about him and he’s so confused and….he cried, Buffy. I’ve never seen him cry before.”
Buffy didn’t wait for any further information, leaving Willow downstairs with Xander and Anya as she bolted up the stairs. She wasn’t sure why he was upset…to be honest, she hadn’t given Xander much time to explain anything before she hung up the phone and ran to Willow’s car in the campus parking lot.
But to hear that he had cried…that bothered her more than she could say. She had seen him cry before…but, it took a lot to make him break down in front of people. And that worried her.
She ran into his bedroom and stopped, finding him sitting on the side of the bed and staring at his hands. She glanced around the room, eyes narrowing slightly as she noticed all of the drawers and closet doors open.
“Giles?” She spoke softly. “What’s going on?”
He took a deep breath and exhaled shakily, his voice cracking as he replied. “They…they told me the truth. I…still didn’t really believe them though. But, there are no pictures…no clothes…no extra bottles in the bathroom.”
She moved closer when he paused. She watched his jaw clench and release, instinctively knowing that he was trying to keep his emotions under control. His voice held steady as he slowly continued, even as a tear rolled down his cheek.
“I have a tan line from the Watcher’s ring.” He rubbed his thumb over the ring finger of his left hand and sighed. “But, not one from a wedding ring. It’s true, isn’t it? I…I’m not married, am I?”
Buffy knelt in front of him and gently covered his left hand with her left as she shook her head. “No, Giles. You’re not.”
“I should’ve known by the fact that you’re not wearing your rings either.” He stated quietly, almost inaudibly.
Buffy’s eyes widened. “My rings?”
“But…you slept next to me last night.” Giles continued as if Buffy hadn’t asked a question. “You offered no arguments, just…just slid into bed with me when I asked.”
“You thought…we…that you’re married to me?”
He looked up slowly, his earlier tears causing his eyes to be the most beautiful shade of green Buffy thought she’d ever seen. He stared at her for a moment and then swallowed as he nodded.
“Who else would it have been, Buffy?” He asked on a whisper.
“I…I had no idea. Giles…” Buffy started, trailing off when she realized that she also had no idea of what to say.
“Why did you sleep with me last night?”
Buffy thought for a moment and then shook her head lightly. “You…insisted…and you were hurt. We were both exhausted and…I’m sorry, Giles. I didn’t know.”
“I should probably discuss this with the doctor.” He stated softly.
“I can go with you.” She offered without thinking, back-pedalling quickly as his brow furrowed. “I mean…if you’d like to have someone there with you. I could…I could wait in the waiting room. I mean, I don’t have to go in to talk to the doctor with you or anything. I just think that you shouldn’t have to do this alone, you know?”
“This involves you.” Giles replied, lifting his hand and gingerly rubbing the large knot on the side of his head. “This affects you…and if this false memory is one that I’ll forever feel as true…”
He sighed and averted his eyes from her as he continued.
“You should be aware of what is happening. And…should this become more of an issue, then we’ll have some decisions to make in the near future.”
“Decisions?” Buffy whispered, biting her lip as Giles stood and walked over to the closet. “What kind of decisions?”
He closed the closet door and slowly, methodically began closing each of the dresser drawers. “Whether or not I should stay…should these memories stay.”
Buffy stood up, shaking her head furiously. “No…you’re staying, Giles. We can work through whatever happens, but…you have to stay.”
Giles cleared his throat and ran his fingers over a small trinket box that had rested on top of the chest of drawers for as long as he’d been in Sunnydale. Buffy watched him, wondering what was in the box…but she didn’t have the chance to ask before he made a gentle request.
“I…should see the doctor today. Could you…would you mind…” He sighed and turned his head towards her. “I’d rather the others not see me in this condition again today.”
Buffy nodded in understanding. “I’ll ask them to leave….and then we’ll go see your doctor, okay?”
Giles nodded slowly, but said nothing. Buffy noticed the tears welling in his eyes once more and felt her own sadness growing.
“We’ll figure this out, okay? Just…promise me that you won’t leave. I can’t do this…any of this…without you, Giles. I need you. Not just for the slaying stuff. I need you.”
Giles gave her another nod and waited until she left his room before he turned back to the trinket box. He listened to her run down the steps as he lifted the lid with trembling fingers. He took a deep breath, another tear trickling down his face, as the box revealed itself to be empty.
No sentimental reminders of their wedding night…no cufflinks, no lone pearl from the necklace that he’d broken in his haste to rid her of her wedding gown. Nothing. It was an empty box that served the purpose of cementing the fact that his memories were his alone.
He and Buffy were not married.
He replaced the lid and made his way back over to the bed. He sat down on the edge and lowered his head to his hands.
He could hear Buffy’s muffled explanations to Xander, Anya, and Willow. She wouldn’t tell them everything, he trusted her in that. But, she would tell them enough that they’d understand what was going on.
He inhaled sharply and lifted his head as he heard the front door open and close. He stood and ran his hand through his hair, wincing as his fingers pressed against his bruised scalp.
Hopefully the doctor would be able to give him an explanation.
* * *
Giles cleared his throat as he stepped up to the information desk in the hospital lobby. The attendant looked up and gave him a gentle smile, frowning when she glanced at the side of his head.
“Ooh…nasty bump, there. We might need to get you over to the triage center to have it looked at.”
Buffy smiled at the compassionate woman and shook her head. “Actually, he was admitted last night. He was just in for observation and was discharged this morning. We were wondering if we might be able to talk to the doctor who treated him…um…”
“Is everything okay?” The woman asked, concern in her eyes as she looked back at Giles.
Giles sighed and rubbed the side of his neck. “I think there may be a complication. My name is Rupert Giles…and I was treated by Dr. Robertson.”
The attendant nodded quickly and punched a few keys on the computer keyboard. She read for a few seconds and then frowned.
“Dr. Robertson is actually on rounds at the moment. But…if you’re willing to wait, I can get a message to him and he’ll be down afterwards. About…an hour, an hour and a half?”
Giles nodded slowly and Buffy smiled appreciatively at the woman, glancing at her name badge. “Thank you, Lorraine. We’ll wait.”
Lorraine picked up the phone and watched as the young woman followed a very sad looking Rupert Giles over to the waiting room chairs. She wasn’t sure what Rupert had meant by a ‘complication’, but it seemed to be upsetting him a great deal.
She watched the young woman with Rupert very closely for a moment. There was a sadness about her as well…though she was obviously fighting very hard to keep it hidden.
Lorraine sighed and left a message for Dr. Robertson to come to the lobby waiting area as soon as he possibly could, making sure to mention that Rupert Giles had returned and needed to discuss a complication.
* * *
Two hours later, Dr. Robertson had collected Buffy and Giles from the waiting area and led them to a small office down the hall. He smiled apologetically as he closed the door and gestured towards two chairs in front of the desk.
“I’m so sorry that it took so long…there was an emergency that I couldn’t leave.”
Giles smiled nervously as he sat down, watching Buffy take the seat next to him. “Um…that’s quite alright. This isn’t…well, it isn’t a life or death problem…”
The doctor sat down behind the desk and opened Giles’ chart. He skimmed through the notes he had taken the previous night and then met Giles’ eyes.
“You mentioned a complication?”
Giles nodded and gave Buffy a quick, sideways glance. “Yes, um…there may be…well, I’m not sure…”
Buffy sighed and spoke softly. “His memories are a bit screwed.”
Giles paused in his ramble and arched an eyebrow at her. “Skewed more than screwed, actually.”
Dr. Robinson held back his chuckle and rolled the pen between his fingers. “Temporary memory loss is fairly common in cases of head trauma.”
Giles lowered his eyes and stared at his hands. “It’s not memory loss. I remember everything…”
“It’s more ‘memory addition’.” Buffy supplied, her nervousness showing in her eyes as she looked at the doctor. “He’s just added a few details that weren’t there before he got smacked in the head with a bat.”
“Oh?” The doctor questioned, obviously intrigued. “Such as?”
Giles took a deep breath and exhaled slowly before answering. “I have very vivid…false, but vivid…memories of…being married.”
Dr. Robertson scribbled something in Giles’ notes. “Okay.”
“Everything else is the same as before…the memories haven’t been altered, exactly.” Giles continued, wringing his hands together. “But, I remember…all events leading to the wedding and…”
The doctor and Buffy both looked at him in concern as he paused. Giles cleared his throat and lifted his right hand, rubbing the side of his neck.
“I feel married. I feel love…I feel…none of it’s true, but it feels so real – and I’m more than mildly confused about it all.”
Dr. Robertson nodded slowly, waiting until he had caught Giles’ eyes before speaking. When Giles finally looked at him, the doctor smiled in understanding.
“This is not unheard of, Rupert. The person that you think you’re married to…does she know?”
“That’s why I’m here.” Buffy replied gently. “I just want to be able to help him through this.”
“Ah…” The doctor thought for a moment, his gaze darting between the two sitting in front of him. “May I ask the nature of the relationship between the two of you prior to Rupert’s accident?”
Giles and Buffy looked at each other…and after a moment of silence, Buffy answered.
“He’s one of the best friends I’ve ever had. In fact, he’s probably the best friend I’ve ever had. He’s been there for me through everything. All of my mistakes, all of my victories. He’s…he’s my Giles.”
Giles looked away quickly, wiping his fingers across his left eye to stop the tear from falling. Dr. Robertson smiled and asked Buffy another question while Giles composed himself.
“You obviously have a deep affection for him, but…there was no romantic relationship between you?”
“No.” Buffy shook her head. “Until very recently, I had a boyfriend.”
The doctor looked at Giles, who had seemingly gotten his emotions under control. He wanted to ask if Rupert had had feelings for the young woman prior to the attack, but had a feeling that he already knew the answer. He also had a feeling that Giles wouldn’t answer truthfully in front of her.
“Your friendship obviously runs very deep…for both of you. Sometimes the brain gets the details wrong when it’s putting the pieces back together again after an injury.”
He leaned back in his chair as Giles met his eyes and furrowed his brow. The doctor continued quickly, doing his best to explain his thoughts in the easiest way possible.
“Think of it as a jigsaw puzzle. Sometimes the pieces almost fit, but not quite. But, it’s human nature to try to make them fit. And that’s what the brain does.” He leaned forward again and closed Giles’ folder. “You know that the two of you have a deep-set relationship of sorts and…for the brain…romantic relationships are easier to make fit than platonic ones. Especially when the emotions run as deeply as yours do.”
Giles nodded slowly. “Will these feelings…fade?”
Dr. Robertson tilted his head slightly and gave Giles a gentle nod. “In most cases, around ninety-five percent or so, they do fade…and eventually go away. Once the brain starts healing itself, it realizes that the pieces don’t really fit properly…and it’ll rectify its error.”
“And until that happens?” Buffy asked, finally reaching over and placing her hand on Giles’ forearm.
Giles looked down sharply at her hand. The doctor couldn’t help but notice the action…and reaction.
“Until then…give him all the support you’re able to give him. The most important thing you can do is to be there for him…as the friend that you’ve always been to him.”
Giles cleared his throat and carefully pulled his arm out from under Buffy’s hand. He stood and offered the doctor his hand.
“Thank you, Dr. Robertson. You’ve been a tremendous help.”
The doctor stood and shook Giles’ hand, not failing to notice the tremble…but choosing not to comment on it. “You’re very welcome. And…should either of you need to talk…my door is open.”
Buffy stood and nodded graciously. “Thank you…”
The doctor released Giles’ hand and watched as the two left the office. He was sure that one of them would be back to talk at some point.
He just didn’t know which one.
* * *
A week after the accident, Giles proclaimed himself ready to partake in Buffy’s training exercises. To which Buffy rolled her eyes and proclaimed that he had at least two more weeks to wait before she’d subject him to physical blows of any sort.
As he grumbled about being useless in training, Buffy smiled and jumped onto the pommel horse. She waited until he looked at her and her smile grew.
“Are you done grumbling and mumbling now?”
“Well, I’m glad you find a source of entertainment out of the entire situation…”
Buffy sighed and executed a perfect handstand-to-flying kick combo that had always impressed Giles to no end. She landed directly in front of him and placed her hand on his upper arm.
“I don’t find it entertaining, Giles. But, you’re not useless…you don’t need me pummelling you senseless during training in order to be helpful. You’re still teaching me…showing me…”
“How much better have my honing skills gotten in the past week?”
“Honing bores you.” He mumbled, turning away from her.
Buffy took a deep breath and glanced at the weaponry cabinet. “One week, Giles. Give it one more week…and we’ll have a swordfight, okay?”
Giles turned to face her, a small smile playing on his lips. “One week?”
“We hone until then, yeah?”
His smile grew as he nodded.
And that was when Buffy was sure that his brain had started replacing the wrong pieces with the correct ones. And she wasn’t exactly sure what she should be feeling about it.
* * *
One Month Later
Buffy grinned as Giles explained the purpose of a specific charm to a customer. She met Willow’s eyes and tilted her head towards Giles. Willow smiled and gave Buffy a quick nod. Willow looked at Xander and tapped her watch with her right index finger. Xander’s brown eyes sparkled as he leaned into Anya and whispered something in her ear.
As Anya began to grin, Buffy made her way out of the main store area and into the training area.
Giles successfully finished his sale twenty minutes later, escorting the customer to the door and holding it open for her. He wished the lady a good evening and a hope for repeat business before closing the door and flicking the lock. He sighed heavily as he turned the sign to read ‘Closed’ and loosened his tie.
“Well, that certainly took longer than I was expecting.” His brow furrowed as he looked around the room. “Um…where’s Buffy? We were to go over the details surrounding the Frelnik that she came across last night…”
“Oh, well…she said she’d be right back.” Willow offered clumsily.
“Be right back? What was so important that she had to leave now?”
“That.” Xander replied, smiling as Buffy emerged from the training room, a cake bearing one lit candle held securely in her hands. “Happy Birthday, Giles.”
Giles tilted his head slightly in wonder as his four very dear friends sang Happy Birthday to him. He had barely remembered that today was his birthday…he hadn’t expected anyone else to remember.
Buffy stopped right in front of him, holding the cake out towards him. He reached out, supporting an end of the cake with his left hand as he looked into her eyes.
Her eyes darted to the candle and then back to his as she gave him a whispered order. “Make a wish, Giles.”
His smile reappeared as he lowered his head and blew a light puff of air across the top of the candle. Their eyes met again as the others clapped.
“Thank you, Buffy.” He whispered, staring into her hazel eyes.
At that moment, they both realized something and he swallowed hard. He took a step back and glanced around the room.
“I…thank you. Thank you all.” He stated quickly before rushing towards the training room.
Buffy stared after him, handing the cake to Willow. “Um, Will?”
Willow took the cake and nodded. “Go, Buffy.”
As Buffy ran off after Giles, Willow placed the cake on the table…carefully removing the candle and placing it to the side.
“Um…I thought this was a birthday party?” Anya asked, thoroughly confused. “Where are the presents?”
Xander gave a half-chuckle and wrapped his arm around Anya. “We’ll give him our present tomorrow okay?”
Before Anya could make the jump that Xander knew she would eventually make, he led her to the door and looked back at Willow. “Coming, Will?”
Willow smiled and placed the Tupperware cover over the cake, glancing at the door to the training room as she nodded. “Yeah, I’m coming…”
* * *
Buffy ran into the training room to find Giles pacing back and forth, his left hand running through his hair. She bit her lip and softly closed the door behind her.
“The memories didn’t really go away, did they?”
Giles stopped suddenly and stared at her. His jaw clenched and released as she walked over to him.
“I’m not really sure how you’re going to take this…” Buffy started, running her hand through her hair nervously. “But…I went to see Dr. Robertson a few weeks ago.”
“Why?” Giles finally asked.
“I didn’t know what to do.” She whispered softly. “You were looking at me…like you used to. Like I was just your Slayer and…and I didn’t know what to do.”
His eyes narrowed slightly. “What?”
“The memories were fading…and I was pretty sure that I didn’t want them to.” She looked up at him and placed a slightly trembling hand on his chest. “But, they weren’t really…were they? I mean…I saw it out there…I saw that look again…”
“Buffy…” He shook his head and closed his eyes, giving a sigh of resignation. “I’m sorry.”
“Why are you sorry?”
“Because…” He swallowed and opened his eyes, staring directly into hers. “I thought I could hide it…so that we could go back to what we were and – ”
“I didn’t want to go back.”
“ – you wouldn’t have to worry about the fact that every time I look at you, I want to…”
He paused, as if he suddenly realized that she had said something. As if he suddenly heard what that something was that she had said.
“Want to what?” Buffy asked, moving closer to him.
“Giles? Tell me what you want…”
“I…” He shook his head and, without warning, lifted his hand to her cheek as he lowered his mouth to hers.
For some reason, she had expected him to kiss her slowly…more like a series of light pecks. Instead, his tongue quickly pushed its way into her mouth as he kissed her with more passion than she thought possible.
And as her arms moved up to wrap around his neck, she was certain that she preferred this to what she had expected.
His groan rumbled in his chest as she returned his kiss, her tongue sliding against his as she wove her fingers in his hair. He moved forward, blindly pushing her back towards the green leather couch that she had found for him in the shop down the street.
She pulled from the kiss and gasped as he lifted her into his arms and sat down, holding her on his lap as his lips found the sensitive skin of her neck.
His hands tightened on her hips as he tore his mouth from her neck and leaned back, resting his head against the back of the couch. His Adam’s apple bobbed as he gasped for breath, his fingers twitching against the waistband of her low-riding jeans.
“I love you.” She whispered emotionally, lifting her hand and tracing her fingertips down the side of his neck. “I loved you before.”
He looked at her, surprise showing clearly in his darkened green eyes. “You…do? Did?”
She nodded slowly, carefully moving off of his lap to sit next to him. She bit her tingling bottom lip as her hand moved to his chest, resting over his erratically beating heart.
“Your false memories didn’t exactly wig me, Giles. And…I was kinda sad when I thought they’d gone away.”
He searched her eyes, smiling when he saw nothing but truth, love, and desire. His fingers lightly caressed her cheek as he licked his lips.
“You…don’t even know what the memories were…exactly.”
“Maybe you should tell me.” She countered, a teasing grin on her face.
“I will.” He answered, leaning into her and brushing his lips across hers. “After dinner.”
“Dinner?” She whispered, taking her turn at kissing his lips. “Are you asking me on a date?”
“Hm?” He murmured, his lips pressing soft kisses to her skin below her ear.
“Did you feel something before?” She choked out, a pleasurable shiver racing down her spine as his lips made their way to the juncture of her shoulder and neck. “Is that why your brain picked that scenario?”
He lifted his head and smiled as he gazed into her eyes. “Are you asking if I love you?”
She shook her head, lifting her fingers to the knot of his tie. “No…I’m asking if you loved me before.”
He was quiet for a moment, something about her question and the way she asked it filling his heart with more love than he thought possible. Finally, he nodded slowly and tucked a strand of hair behind her ear.
As she smiled brightly at him, he realized that the pieces of the puzzle that were in his head now were the right pieces. He had just been trying to fit the wrong pieces in before the accident. And as he leaned in to kiss her again, the final piece snapped into place…and his birthday wish was granted.
Love. Her love.
It was all he’d ever wanted…and for some reason, he felt the urge to thank a vampire and his bat for giving him what he so desperately wanted.