Title: Remembrance
Author: Froxyn
Pairing: Buffy/Giles
Rating: FRT
Synopsis: Buffy wants to talk - Giles is not in the right frame of mind.
Timeline: AU, post-series

Buffy walked up to Giles’ front door and turned the doorknob. 


Rather, she attempted to turn the knob.  The lock was engaged and her eyes automatically darted towards the window.  The lights were on – Giles never left the house without turning the lights off.  That meant he was home.


But, the door was locked. 


They had been teetering on a line for a few months.  Neither had stepped across it, nor had they even really discussed it.  But, she knew that he felt it too.  And that’s why she was even here right now – because it was at a point where it needed to be discussed. 


So, she had mustered up the courage and rushed over – and his door was locked


That was very unusual.  His door was never locked…had never been locked.


She took a deep breath as her panic started to rise.  Her mind was instantly conjuring up scenes that were very much not full of teddy bears and rainbows.  They were full of demons and blood and concussions and…death. 


She took another deep breath and raised her hand.  Her knuckles rapped on the door three quick times.  She bit her lip, rocking nervously on her heels as she waited for a response.  She’d give him a few seconds, then she’d knock again.  If he didn’t answer after a second knock – she’d break the lock without hesitation. 


She lifted her hand and knocked again – this time harder, louder.  She barely stopped herself from literally banging the door down.  And then she placed her palm flat against the door and leaned in closer, listening.  And she exhaled a breath she’d been holding when she heard movement from inside.


She smiled when she heard his familiar footsteps get closer to the door.  The lock disengaged, the doorknob turned, the door opened…and her smile faded quickly. 


“What’s wrong?”  She asked, taking in his dishevelled appearance. 


He stared at her for a moment through glazed eyes, then took a step back and leaned his head against the side of the door.  “Please, come in…”


She arched an eyebrow at him as she walked into his house.  “What the hell, Giles?  You invited me in?”


“You’re my Slayer, why wouldn’t I?”


“Because you never have before.  It’s like…a definite no-no.  Never invite someone in.”  She narrowed her eyes as she sniffed the air.  “Are you drunk or high?”


“Bit of both, I think.  You’re not here to lecture me on casual drug use, are you?  Because, if that’s the case…I can revoke your invitation.”  He said with a grin as he pushed the door closed.  “As soon as I find the herbs to burn…”


When she merely stared at him, he sighed heavily and gestured towards the liquor cabinet.  “Can I offer you a drink?”


“What’s going on?”  She asked in response.


“Because I’m relaxing with a couple of…aids…that means something’s going on?”  He countered with a scoff as he made his way over to the liquor cabinet. 


“No.”  Buffy said softly, watching him cautiously.  “The fact that your door was locked tells me that something’s wrong.  The last time I saw you like this…Eyghon was in Sunnydale.  We took care of him, so I’m pretty sure you’re not being stalked by a demon you raised.  Unless there was more than one.”


He paused briefly, his hand on a clean tumbler, then cleared his throat and shook his head.  “No.  No, there was only the one.”


He quickly prepared a rum and Coke for her, perfectly balanced…just the way he knew she liked them.  He poured himself another whiskey, then picked up both tumblers and made his way over to the sofa.  She followed him without question and sat down, taking the proffered drink from him.  She took a sip and then cradled the tumbler in her hands. 


“So, if it’s not a demon…what’s this all about?”


Knowing she wasn’t going to simply drop it, he swallowed half of the whiskey in one gulp and looked at her.  He held the tumbler along the rim with his thumb and index finger…allowing the glass to gently swing like a pendulum. 


“You have no idea what today is, do you?”  He asked quietly. 


“Thursday.”  She answered, taking another sip of her drink.  “Which means you’re going to have to deal with a staff meeting tomorrow morning with one hell of a hangover.”


“Cancelled it.”  He mumbled, finishing his drink and then dropping the empty glass onto the coffee table.  “You should check your email, love.”


“Giles – ”


“You died seven years ago.”  He interrupted, lowering his gaze to stare at his hands. 


Buffy glanced at the calendar on his desk.  There was nothing entered in the notes – no reminders, no appointments, nothing.  Very much unlike nearly every other entry for the other dates on the calendar. 


“Oh…”  She leaned forward, placing her drink on a coaster on the coffee table.  Then she turned her body towards him, curling her leg underneath her.  She reached out and took hold of his hand.  She’d never held his hand in this manner before, but it still felt completely natural.  She gently squeezed and then rubbed her thumb along his.  “But, I’m right here.”


“But, you weren’t.”  He said emotionally, staring at her hand on his.  “I watched you jump.  I screamed your name as you fell.  And then I heard your body land.  Everyone rushed to you – Spike was convinced you’d survived.  I knew he was wrong.  You died before you hit the ground.  I felt it.  Your last breath felt like razor blades in my lungs.  My heart missed at least three beats when yours stopped.”


He swallowed and lifted his eyes to hers.  “I watched you die.  I watched them cry, surrounding your body.  And then I told them to leave.  No one argued with me, not even Spike.  I’m certain he thought I’d stake him.  And so they all left…and I was alone with you.  My Slayer.  My Buffy.”


Her eyes glistened with tears as she listened to him – his tone, his words, his heart.  There was so much pain that he still lived with – she had never realised. 


“I picked you up and carried you out of there.  I’d been impaled and nearly died – you pulled me through.  I ended the doctor’s life who you brought in to save me – because if I didn’t, Glory would just resurface.  I had one job, to keep you alive.  And I failed.  So I followed the last steps of the hundreds of Watchers before me – I carried you and laid you to rest.  I even failed at that.”


“What do you mean?”  Buffy asked, wiping a tear from her cheek.


“Protocol stated that the Slayer’s body was to be cremated after death.”  His jaw tightened and he shook his head.  “I couldn’t bring myself to do that.” 


“I’m sorry.”  She whispered, moving closer to him.  “I’m not sure if I’ve ever actually told you that.”


“You’ve shown me many times.”  He whispered in return, eyes briefly darting to her lips.  “I, uh…I’m sorry, we shouldn’t be having this conversation right now.  Especially not under these circumstances.”


“I said some horrible things to you.”


“I suggested we kill your sister.”  He sighed, gently pulling his hand out of her grip.  “I can’t help but think I deserved some of those things you said.  I never held those against you.  Not once.  Because if someone had suggested that I kill my sister, I dare say my reaction wouldn’t have been as civilised as yours.”


“You don’t want to talk about this at all, do you?” 


“I drink to forget.  I smoke to help alter my mindset.  For one night…”  He trailed off and looked at her curiously.  “You’ve never come by on this night before.”


“Huh?”  She rubbed her palm against her thigh. 


“Why are you here?”  He asked, probably more bluntly than he had intended. 


“Oh…”  She looked away and ran her fingers through her hair.  “Like you said, we shouldn’t be having important conversations right now.  I mean – ”


“Is there a conversation we should be having, Buffy?” 


She was quiet for a long moment.  She reached out and picked her drink back up – he noticed the tremble in her hand as she lifted it to her lips and took a deep sip.  He inhaled slowly and then stood up – he hesitated for a second, opening his mouth as if he were going to say something.  She looked up at him expectantly, her eyes widening when she saw the tears in his eyes. 




“I left so much unsaid then.  I’ve left so much unsaid since then.  There’s actually quite a lot I’d like to say – but, tonight isn’t the night for it.” 


“Because of the drinking and smoking?”


He shook his head and offered her a sad smile.  “Because of the emotional vulnerability.”


“Yes.”  She said simply, running her thumbnail along the rim of her tumbler. 


“I’m sorry?”  He replied, obviously confused. 


“There is a conversation we should be having.”  She chewed the inside of her lip nervously and shrugged a shoulder.  “That’s why I’m here.  Well, that’s why I came here tonight.”


He studied her closely for a few long moments, willing his head to stop swimming long enough to see something…anything.  He exhaled a deep breath and licked his dry lips.  He sighed softly when he noticed her eyes drift towards the movement. 


“Are we pushing boundaries?  Or…are we dancing?”  He asked, so softly that she asked him to repeat himself. 


He steadied himself and looked directly into her eyes. 


“What are we doing?”  He asked, slipping his right hand into his pocket.  “Are we doing anything?  Are we simply testing our boundaries to make sure they’re solid?  Or…are we dancing around this line that’s between us?”


She stood up and gently touched his arm.  “I want to dance with you.”


A slow smile appeared on his lips.  “I’d like to dance with you, as well.”


“Yeah?”  She asked, relief heavy in her tone. 


“Yes.”  He nodded, lifting his left hand to gently brush a strand of her hair back from her face with his fingertips.  “But, not tonight.”


“Okay.”  She whispered, allowing her hand to slide from his arm.  “I can come back, um…well, whenever.  Just give me a call when you’re ready to talk.  I mean, it’s not like I live that far aw – ”


“Can you stay tonight?”  He interrupted, his tone hopeful…nearly pleading. 


“Stay?  Here, with you…”


“To talk.”  He clarified quickly, obviously worried that she’d misinterpreted his question.  “I…would really like to just…talk.”


“About that night?” 


“About everything.  Everything that’s been left unsaid for so many years now.”


“Can we sober you up?”  She asked, offering him a gentle smile.


He nodded slowly.  “I can make coffee…”


“Can I help?”


He smiled warmly – his eyes still showing the effects of the joint he’d smoked before she had arrived.  “You already have – more than you could possibly know.”


She looked at him for a moment and then snorted a laugh.  “You’re super sappy when you’re high, aren’t you?”


He shrugged a shoulder, lifting his left hand to scratch at his neck.  It was then that she noticed he wasn’t wearing his ring.  She couldn’t remember him ever not wearing his ring. 


He lowered his hand and followed her gaze.  “Ah…I take it off on the anniversary of your death.  It’s, uh…well, I took it off the night you died.  Because I wasn’t a Watcher any longer.  Even though I watched you all night – hoping you’d just…come back.”


“You did?” 


He nodded slowly.  “I knew in my soul you weren’t.  Because, as I said earlier, I felt you…leave.  But, I couldn’t bring myself to leave you that night.”


“I didn’t know that.”


“You were never meant to know.  Anya was the only one who knew.  She came to check on me.  If not for Anya that night, I’m not quite sure…”


He trailed off uncomfortably and allowed his eyes to drift away from hers.  “I’ll…just go get that coffee started.”


Before he could move, she had slipped her arms around him.  She held him tightly, pressing her cheek against his chest.  He gasped in surprise, but quickly wrapped his arms around her as well.  They had hugged many times over the years, but when he felt her fingers curl into the material of his shirt…he knew this hug meant something very different. 


This was the beginning of their dance. 


He closed his eyes and held her even tighter, pressing a soft kiss in her hair when he heard her sniffle softly against his chest.  Tonight they would wipe the line away and they would talk until one or both of them fell asleep.  He smiled inwardly at that thought…being comfortable enough with someone to fall asleep together.


He’ll make breakfast in the morning.  And he’ll be completely sober.


And he’ll ask her to dance.


And maybe this anniversary will be the last he’ll spend alone.  And maybe, just maybe…it could become a different anniversary. 


His smile grew and he exhaled a slow breath. 


But, first…they’ll dance.

~ End

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