Author: Kat Lee
Fandom: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Challenge/Prompt: tv_universe: Quoteables - The Return: "Learning never exhausts the mind." - Leonardo da Vinci (If you join, be sure to tell them Kat Lee of Team Bunny Ears sent YOU!)
Word Count: 1,007
Date Written: 7 March 2017
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to Whedon, not the author, and are used without permission.
"Giles!" Buffy calls, jerking her Watcher awake.
He jumps to a sitting position, instinctively removing his spectacles and starting to clean them before he's even truly entirely awake. Through the fogginess of his natural vision, Rupert thinks he sees a puddle of his own drool looking up at him from the pages of the ancient text book he was studying and frowns deeply.
"Why do you keep doing this to yourself, Giles?" Buffy demands. "You're always on my case about doing my best, but you can't do your best if you're too darn tired to do anything!"
"Buffy, I -- "
"You need to get your head out of these books!" the teenager persists. "We're doing this every morning now! Every morning, I come in here to train, and I find you face first in a puddle of drool! That's a Xander move, not something I expect from you, Giles, but you're too tired! Get some rest!"
He winces as he looks at her, wondering if she knows just how bright her blonde hair shimmers in the early morning light.
"Giles," Buffy says warningly as though she's the one in charge, as though she's the one who's got to keep him alive instead of vice versa.
"I . . . I . . . " he sputters, feeling almost like a disobedient schoolboy only that, if he was an actual schoolboy, he might have the right to look at her and see her beauty. He might have the right to admire her shapely curves, be alarmed by her disarming smile, or worry over her every second of every night and day -- but, by God, he does have the right to the last for he is her Watcher!
"Learning never exhausts the mind, Buffy." He wonders where that quote come from -- he's pretty certain he read it somewhere just last night -- even as he can't help but to think that she exhausts his mind. There's many reasons why he spends his hours going over his books again and again until he can go straight to any passage they may need, and not the least of them is the fact that he is in a sore need of distraction from her beauty. And God, is she ever so beautiful!
Buffy rolls her eyes, looking every bit the teenager that she is and reminding him yet again that he shouldn't be having such naughty thoughts about a girl her age. His place here is to protect her, to guide her, and to guard her, to keep her alive so that she, in turn, can keep the world alive. It's not to be obsessed with her, especially with her beauty. He shouldn't even be noticing the way her hair looks this morning, and he certainly shouldn't feel that odd twitter in his heart when she smiles at him! If only she would smile again . . .
"That so sounds like something you Brits would say! Maybe learning doesn't exhaust the mind, Giles, but it definitely exhausts your eyes! You need to get some rest!" She softens a little as she adds, "Miss Calendar wouldn't want you living like this."
Ah, Jenny! He does miss her, but the ache isn't as terrible as it was when Angelus first took her from him. It isn't all consuming, and it isn't the reason he's here night after night, day after day . . .
"Look at you," Buffy says, grabbing hold of his hands and pulling him to his feet. "You can barely walk. Your clothes and hair are a mess. You -- "
"My attire hardly matters in keeping you alive, Buffy."
Buffy cocks her head to one side, as though surprised at what he's just said. He wishes he could take back the words, but they're out in the open now, hanging between them. "Is that what this is about?" she asks softly. "Giles, I kicked the Master's ass. I'm going to kick Angelus' ass if Willow doesn't find the spell in time. I'm not going anywhere. You're not going to get rid of me that fast. I promise."
Suddenly, her arms are around him, and Giles doesn't dare move. He doesn't even dare breathe lest she hear the shakiness of his breath and know what her closeness is truly doing to him. But slowly, ever so slowly, he lowers his arms around her small frame, all too aware that the fate of the whole world rests on those slim, light shoulders that barely feel like they should be able to bench press anything, let alone stop all the hordes of Hell. "Buffy," he breathes her name, giving in to the shakiness he feels, but she pushes him away.
"Go home, Giles. Get some rest. Eat something. Drink something not alcoholic. Go home. Rest. I'll come check on you tonight."
"Buffy, I -- "
"Go home," she instructs again with a very pointed expression, "or I will kick your ass home. Do you understand me?"
"Yes," he says, his lips sliding up into a tiny smile. "Yes," he repeats, placing his fogged glasses back onto the bridge of his nose where they belong and smiling a little more widely, "I do."
"Good." She folds her arms before her chest and watches as he gathers his things and leaves, all the time wondering who really is supposed to be in charge between them, who is taking care of whom, and if she has even the slightest inkling of how much she shakes him to his very core. He should be mourning Jenny, but instead all he can think is about Buffy. He'll pour over his books more at home, he promises himself as he leaves the library, and Buffy's stern glower, behind. He'll never stop researching, never stop studying, because everything he reads is something from which he might gleam a little bit of knowledge, and the more knowledge he possesses, the more likely he is to be able to keep her alive and to keep her happy sunshine bubbling in his life.