Timeline: AU after BTVS S7 & AtS s5 / no comics
Pairings: Giles/Buffy, Buffy/Faith implied
Summary: Rupert Giles is a man who has finally made peace. Perhaps the best tribute to his stalwart work as Watcher is the healing of his Slayer. For Summer of Giles 2013 (my first in 5 years!), with a big dose of love for Giles fandom.
She came to Giles after it was over.
For days, there was no explanation offered. She slept. She drank his tea. She was polite. She lay in the bath for hours and set the table for simple dinners of soup or omelets.
His life was so quiet now, and he was bewildered how her presence made it even more so.
Buffy had always added color and volume, tension and drama. He was used to life without the former, completely done with the latter, but never over her. Of course he knew what had happened, how she’d assisted Angel and Spike, how she’d stayed with Faith and slayed until she was no longer welcome there. She’d wandered, hunted, probably grieved in every dangerous and inappropriate way she could find, not just for the latest loved ones lost in battle, but for her mother and friends and fellow slayers and a life that would never be.
A slayer had never survived in action so long. It perplexed him for days, what was happening to her…a slower metabolism that allowed a few welcome pounds on her diminished frame, the need to actually cool down after miles of running each night, how several scars on her face were not fading with time. He made calls, he consulted volumes, and without her knowledge, cast a seeing spell a time or two.
Her Slayer powers, her essence, were abating. He didn’t think it would go away completely, for it was joined with her very soul, but like teeth or cartilage or muscle tone, it was aging. Her Slayer strength was developing a case of arthritis.
She would be able to rest.
Often, she rested next to him. The quaint guest room next to his own was prettier and cozier than the stark old wood and non-descript, brown quilt of his bed. But night after night, he would turn over and find her there, sometimes staring into the dark, sometimes sleeping like a proper retiree.
Weeks passed. She helped him tend the garden. He installed a hammock between two of the older trees. She took an interest in his horses and books. He taught her how to cook.
They never talked about Sunnydale or vampires or death.
One night she came to him stripped of clothing and pretense. He said nothing as she crawled into his lap. He let her wait there for what seemed like hours but was not very long at all. He returned her kisses. He unleashed every bit of adoration and longing he’d carefully hidden for years. He explored every inch of her. He made her smile. He made her cry. It lasted for hours… not the sex, but the togetherness. She began to talk, about the darkness, about the pain, about the need for him, the only one who really knew her. He held her tightly when she talked about the fear. She knew her strength was not what it once was. She knew she wouldn’t always heal immediately. She knew she was not the One Girl, the only special one anymore. He told her she was to him, always was, always would be.
In the morning, all but her scent was gone from his bed. He felt his heart lurch. He thought he knew. But he was wrong.