Author: Kat Lee
Fandom: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Character/Pairing: Giles+/Anya, Giles+/Buffy, past Xander/Anya
Challenge/Prompt: nekid_spike A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words: Day 6: and 1_million_words August Rush: Day 2:
Word Count: 723
Date Written: 8 August 2017
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to Whedon, not the author, and are used without permission.
Words used to bring him comfort. He used to be able to surround himself with them first on his old records and later in the ancient texts he had refused to read as a rebellious teenager. He’s always had some source of language in which he could simply cloak himself and the worries plaguing his mind and forget all else.
But tonight is another night when it isn’t working. No matter how many words he reads, no matter how many pages he turns, her face is on every one, bright, eager, wanting to please him, wanting to save the world -- and then failing, failing to save the world, failing to save herself, failing to come home to him.
Rupert sighs wearily and lifts his spectacles from his face. He rubs his temples, then begins to clean his glasses with a white handkerchief. He’s getting too old for these sleepless nights and these worries about which he can do nothing but wait.
Buffy’s proven herself time and again. She’s come back from the dead twice now. There’s no reason for him to believe something as simple as a nest of Dhonnchaidh Demons can take out his girl. He swallows hard, forcing the tight lump back down in his throat, and replaces his glasses upon the bridge of his nose. He grips his book. She is not his girl. His Slayer, yes, but his girl, no, never. He’ll never have that right.
“Well, if there’s nothing else you want me to do, I’m going.” He blinks rapidly, realizing he’s been being spoken to for the last few minutes, and he’s just now heard Anya for the very first time. He blinks again, forcing down his tears, forcing his mind to focus on the present rather than the future -- the inevitable future, he knows, for no matter how long Buffy lives or how many apocalypses she succeeds in stopping, that night when she fails to come home will always eventually happen.
“Very well,” he says, and his voice sounds hollow and strained even to his ears. “Good night, Anya.” He listens as she walks away, hears the door shut and lock behind her, and struggles to return to his reading.
Suddenly aware he’s no longer alone, Giles looks up, hoping to see Buffy. His countenance falls too quickly for him to hide his disappointment. “She’ll be fine, you know,” Anya tells him as she drops her bag and jacket onto a nearby table. Then, before Giles can react, she pounces on him, somehow snuggling down between him and his book, a tome he’s read countless times and always found comforting . . . until tonight.
He must look surprised for she shrugs against him. “It’s not like I have anybody to go home to any longer either.” She snuggles deeper, and Giles receives his first touch of reassurance all night through the simple press of her cheek against his tweed jacket. “Read to me?” she asks.
“This is hardly -- “ he starts to protest.
She shrugs against him. “I don’t care what it is, and what’s wrong with two friends enjoying a book? Nothing. It’s not like I’m asking you to have sex with me, Giles. Just read to me. Make the hours pass more swiftly until we hear from them.” She still can’t believe Xander went with Buffy tonight -- the little, redheaded Witch, yeah, sure, she’s got magic and all that to help and protect, but her Xander?
Giles feels her shiver through their clothes and turns his head back so that he’s looking upon the ancient, yellowed pages of his favorite tome once again. “Very well,” he murmurs and starts to read again at the top of the page.
He knows she’s not interested in the context of the book; neither is he, not tonight. He only picked it up and started reading in his futile efforts to control his racing nerves. But now, with the press of another body against his own, Giles is finally beginning to feel the reassurance which he’s craved all night.
He keeps reading even as his head turns again, his cheek pressing against the top of Anya’s head. Her curls smell of strawberries and other wild berries found in the later Summertime, but if he notices, Giles will never tell another soul. He keeps reading, and at last, the hours slip away.