Disclaimer: I don’t own BTVS or any of the characters therein. I write his purely for enjoyment.
Title: Lean on Me
Word Count: 931
Summary: A missing scene from season 5. When Joyce was ill, Giles was determined to do what he could to lighten the load for the Summers.
Lean on Me
Life wasn’t fair; Rupert Giles was fully aware of this. He had seen many things in his life to attest to that – both as a Watcher and a man. All one could do in this situation was to trust in the medical profession. The doctors at Sunnydale General Hospital were regarded as being some of the best in the area, so he knew Joyce was in good hands. She was a strong woman and one of the kindest people he knew. He just hoped she could pull through this. Joyce and he had their differences in the past regarding Buffy and her welfare, although they had long since mended their fences on that score. They both had Buffy’s best interests at heart after all. Nowadays, he would go as far as saying they were friends.
Giles was concerned not just for Joyce’s sake but her daughters too, especially Buffy. The revelation by Buffy that her mother had a tumour made his heart ache for his Slayer. Buffy had the world to take care of and to save; the last thing she needed was this heartache. Knowing the Slayer the way he did, he guessed she would try to be strong for her mother and her sister. She might have her friends to lean on, but there was always the danger that she would close herself off and bottle up her fear and her pain instead. He resolved to take some of the load off her shoulders, whether she liked it or not. He would check on Joyce when she couldn’t and he supposed Joyce might feel more comfortable speaking with him regarding her fears rather than her daughters. Buffy trying to shield Joyce and Dawn. Joyce trying to protect Buffy and Dawn. There was very little one could do in these situations, but being a shoulder to lean on was all he could do, and he was going to offer it.
It was the late afternoon when Giles pulled into the hospital car park. He got out of his car and took a steadying breath as he stepped out of the car. He was coming to visit Joyce. Walking through the corridors of the hospital he was reminded why he hated hospitals – the overpowering smell of cleaning products and the walls that looked the same everywhere you go.
He quickly found the room where Joyce was staying. She looked small in the hospital bed but she smiled at him as he walked in the door.
He put a bunch of grapes on the table beside. “British tradition,” he said sheepishly.
She sat up straighter in the bed, “Thanks, Rupert. How are you?”
“You’re asking me how I am. My dear, I should be asking you that question.”
“Getting by,” she replied. She shook her head in the direction of chair. “Sit down.”
He was struck by the unnatural pallor on her face and the dark circles under her eyes. He realised he was starring and to cover this up he gazed about the room pretending to be taking an interest in her surroundings.
“Where’s Buffy?” Giles asked, as he took a seat.
“I sent her home with Dawn. They both need some rest and I need a break from all their fussing.”
“They’re looking after you, then,” he said with a smile.
“Suffocating me with kindness,” she joked. She paused momentarily before continuing in a more serious tone. “I know they’re only trying to help and they’re worried, but sometimes I just need some space and time on my own.”
“I can understand that,” Giles said. “Should I leave?”
Joyce shook her head, “Oh no – please stay. I didn’t mean it like that. In fact I’m glad you called. I wanted to speak with you.”
“If there’s anything I can do, just say the word.” He took her hand and squeezed it.
She smiled gratefully at him. “Promise me something, Rupert. If anything should happen to me that you’ll take care of my girls.”
Giles was momentarily speechless, not knowing what he could possibly say.
“Don’t talk like that,” he said eventually, “You’ll beat this.”
“And if I don’t.. “
There was nothing that he could say to that.
“Just promise me.”
“I promise. I will treat them like my own.” Buffy was already like his own daughter after all.
He just hoped it wouldn’t come to it.
“You’re a good friend, Rupert. And you’ve been more of a father to Buffy than Hank these last few years.”
He flushed a little under her words.
She tried to smile, but he could see the weariness in her face. “I’ve been trying to get in touch with Hank. I’ve had no luck. I keep being fobbed off by his secretaries, even though I tell them that it is an urgent matter.”
Giles was disgusted and wondered if the man was getting the messages or was he just ignoring them. What type of man could cut his family from his life like that?
“You deserve better,” he said.
She corrected him, “The girls deserve better.”
“Indeed,” he agreed. “Good job they’ve got you then.”
The door opened and a nurse walked in. She noticed Giles and smirked.
“Well, you’re a very popular lady, Mrs. Summers.” She said with a wink. “This is the second handsome man you’ve had in your room.”
Giles coughed and got to his feet. “I best be off.”
Joyce gave him a little wave, “Thanks for dropping by.”
As he was walking out the door he could have sworn he heard the nurse say, “And he’s English too, huh?”