By Gail Christison
AUTHOR: Gail Christison
Rating: MA15+ for dramatic content. No sex. No violence. Previous violence inferred
Disclaimer: Everything belongs to Joss. Just wish he would play nicer :-)
Timeline: A little while after Restless
Spoilers: general...I'll let you count the episodes
Summary: Buffy finds Giles cuffed to his bed and makes a discovery that opens her eyes to a great many things
Feedback: Always :-) firstname.lastname@example.org
Distribution: my site http://www.wickedsky.com/oncemore; Solo if she wants it.
Author's: notes: Since everyone did such a wonderful job of the PWP for Holly's challenge, I decided to do something different. This is a kind of Buffy and Giles epilogue for the series to date, in the tradtion of my episodes epilogues, I hope...
Dedictation: for Holly, hope you like it! and to Brenda for braving Buffy for me again
“Things are going better, don't you think?”
Willow looked up from the text she was studying. “What things?”
Buffy had stayed in to work on several overdue assignments. Things had been quiet since their surreal visit from the First Slayer, anyway, but it was almost weird being together, in the dorm room, the way they'd both originally envisioned college.
“Everything,” Buffy said. “We're all sorta better now…after…”
Willow blinked. “You mean we're not ignoring each other, neglecting each other or forgetting any of us exist?” she asked, a mixture of innocence and barb.
Buffy rolled her eyes. “Subtle, much. I keep thinking about it. I missed so much stuff, Will…I didn't even remember Xander's birthday this year…” She rolled her eyes. “God, I didn't remember Giles' birthday either.”
“Buffy, you didn't even remember mine,” Willow said wryly. “Jeez, you didn't even remember to tell Giles about Riley. That's not the point.”
“No it isn't. I got lost this year. That's the point. I forgot about 'us.' But I think we're all good now. It was really fun yesterday.”
Willow smiled. It had been fun, all of them together without any big brewin' evil, for a change. Xander had even made Giles laugh…and none of them had heard that for a very long time. Not even Giles' nervous giggling about moon pie had come close to the open, spontaneous roar of laughter at the younger man's antics as his first attempt at baking turned into a keystone cops version of burned fingers, flying cookies and flaming dishtowels.
“Sure it was,” she said softly. “We were together. We wanted to be together.”
Buffy looked up. “Yeah…and Anya was shopping; Tara's away and so is Riley. It was good because it was just us, wasn't it?”
Willow stopped for a moment then nodded slowly. “I wanted it to be like that all year, but when I started seeing Tara I kind of forgot too. Being with her kind of became…”
“I know,” Buffy said quickly and made a face. “Don't beat yourself up about it, Will. Me… Riley…bad. Remember?” She made another, worse face. “Evil Buffy.”
Willow giggled. “You kind of were. You made Giles drink with Ethan.”
Buffy looked at her as though she was crazy. “Of all the ways I've screwed up so far this year what made you pick that?” she asked, bemused.
The smile vanished. “I'm not sure; maybe for the same reason I noticed how much happier he seems to be now; or maybe because it had been coming for a long time. You hurt him a lot.”
“How do you know so much? I mean, I didn't even know there was a problem until he went all demon on me.”
“I told you he was feeling 'out of the loopy'. We all were, but not as much as Giles. You didn't see him, Buffy…when he found out about Riley and the Initiative,” Willow chided. “And I know what I know because I asked,” she added pointedly.
Buffy's eyes widened.
“A-after…after the demon thing. Not the other…thing…with Spike. He still won't talk about that. He asked me to try and find out what happened to Ethan…y'know, with the computer and all. I wanted to know if he was okay. I asked about what happened with Ethan and stuff just kind of came out. Not in so many words, but, well, Maggie Walsh was a bitch…and, well, so were…” She trailed off.
“So was I,” Buffy finished. “He told me…about Professor Walsh. I'm guessing Spike probably tapped into something that's going to take more than a group hug to really fix.” She looked up almost ruefully. “So Jiminy, are you trying to tell me something or just trying to make sure I never do it again?”
Willow half smiled. It was hard to stay mad with Buffy when she was so like her old self again. “Both,” she said boldly. “We are all together again, and that's a good…Xander especially. I like him way better this way…”
“But…?” Buffy asked. “I can hear the 'but.'”
The other girl sighed. “But there's still a part of Giles that's missing. He's been our friend for a long time, Buffy…and he's not the same any more. He hasn't been for a long time. He's all closed up inside…and he never relaxes. Not really.”
Buffy's head tilted to one side, red patches flaming in her cheeks as she realised something for the first time. “I did that,” she said softly.
“You did what…?”
“Nothing,” she whispered. “I think I'm going to go and see Giles…”
“He'll be awake. He always is when I drop by during patrols…after patrols. The light's always burning.”
“Sounds like he's worse at the sleep thing than even I realised.”
Buffy stared at Willow's bent head. She was turning pages in her book, and it was obviously just a casual thought, but…
“You really think so? God, I can't remember the last time I found him asleep, or saw him sleep…not even a nap or forty winks in his chair…well, except for our little video Fright -Night, that is.”
Willow looked up again and shrugged. “He might be one of those people who only need a few hours a night…or not…” she finished when Buffy scowled.
The latter slid out of bed and reached for her clothes. “Why are we discussing Giles' sleeping habits?”
“Because we care about him?” Willow ventured, irony in her voice.
“Y'think…? Subtle much,” Buffy drawled, rolling her eyes as she pulled on her jacket. “I shouldn't be too long, but don't wait up…in case I get um...held up…along the way.”
“Be careful,” Willow yelled after her, hoping the hold ups would be few and far between, and preferably as toothless and clawless as possible.