Length: ~1150 words
A/N: Unbeta'd. Post Season 5. Still without time. This was not the story I was planning on writing. Concrit welcome.
It's been thirty days--thirty days since the light went out of his world with one selfless act. Giles sighs and forces a smile at the 'Bot and says, "Very nice. Now, this time, don't stop for a witty pun until you've landed your punch."
"Okay," the 'Bot says, nodding. "Thank you for helping me Guyles. You're British. And old."
Giles pulls off his glasses and takes a swipe over them with his handkerchief. "Yes, I suppose I am," he says, for the tenth time this day. "Well, I suppose that's enough training for today."
He misses her. Every fiber of his being is one gaping wound of despair. He takes a second to feel it. His hand shakes.
The door to the back opens.
Giles shoves his hand into his pocket, his second over.
"Willow," Giles says, with a weak smile. "You'll be glad to know, the 'Bot is improving by leaps and bounds. So long as she doesn't get distracted, her fighting skills are completely up to par." He puts a light hand around the 'Bot's shoulder. She beams up at him.
"Good," Willow says, "good."
"Willow," the 'Bot says. "My best friend. Who's also a lesbian. How are you?" She pelts herself at Willow.
Willow oofs and disconnects the two of them. "Fine, Buffy. We're doing fine." She turns a sad smile to Giles. "It's not the same, though."
Giles clenches his fist in his pocket until the shaking stops. "No. Unfortunately it's not."
Willow's smile turns falsely bright and she says, "So, who's up for a little soldering and circuitry?" She tugs the 'Bot behind her to the table where she already has all her tools set up.
Giles watches them go with relief. Being around the 'Bot tends to make him the most maudlin. Other times, he's just melancholy and depressed. When he's around the 'Bot, he feels like there's a knife cutting into his heart.
He steps out the back door, into the alley. He should sort through the new shipment of Nigerian Tiger Lilies and Wolf's Bane. He should, but he's not going to. He's going to go home, drink a half liter of whisky, and imagine her alive once more. It's not wise, but it'll make him feel a little less like jumping off the next bridge.
When he turns around the corner, Spike's there, sizzling away in the dusk. "The 'Bot in there?" he asks, pointing at the back door of the alley.
Giles just nods, tired of talking, tired of trying. At least when he's around Spike he doesn't have to try. Not like when he's around the girls, or Xander, or Dawn.
"Shite, was hoping to nick some of the good whisky."
Giles just raises his eyebrow.
Spike's expression turns sullen. "Fine. Just wanted to see how the 'Bit was." He pulls out his pack of cigarettes, smacks it on the end a few times. "Not like you lot ever let me see her."
Giles holds out his hand.
Spike scoffs, but hands him a cigarette. And when he pulls out his lighter, he holds it for Giles' light first.
Giles takes in the first breath of nicotine. Blessed relief. He's been smoking too much. He has to stop. He can't die too young from a fucking habit he can't kick. He needs to be around for...
Well, he needs to be around for the girls, Dawn, Xander...
But not like before. Not the way he needed to be around for Buffy.
Spike is smoking next to him, looking at the shadows on the side of the building. "Not long 'til it's dark. Think I'm gonna have a spot of rough and tumble. See how the Henderson's Crypt is holding up."
Giles looks at the shadows a second himself. He should patrol tonight. He should. Pretty soon the town will be overrun by vampires. But not tonight. Not yet.
"C'mon mate--" Spike says.
"I am not your mate," Giles says, voice gone gravely from the smoke.
Spike laughs a little, looks at Giles from the corner of his eye. "Right. Well. You going to-- Been a month you know."
Giles closes his eyes. In the dark, it feels good. "I know," he says, hearing the sound of a distant car, a dog barking in the night. If he tries hard enough, he can imagine he hears her voice. Sometimes. It's easier when he's drunk.
"Tonight. Tonight I'm done mourning. Not. Not done-done. I don't reckon I'll ever be fully done mourning her. And I'll live a bloody long time. But tonight. Tonight, I'm done with the self-pity. We got to appreciate what we have while we've got it, right?"
Giles swallows hard, picturing her smiling at him. Telling him to lighten up already, live in the now.
" 'Sides, I don't reckon she'd want us to spend the rest of our lives as a memorial to her. Be bloody boring. And Buffy was never into the boring. She was one to live for the now."
"For tomorrow we might be dead," Giles says, taking one last drag from the filter. He's let it go too far. The ember burns his fingers a little. He stubs it against the wall.
He looks at his fingers for a second. They're tender, a bit red. They hurt, but it's a good hurt. A clean hurt.
He could feel that way, he thinks. A good hurt, not bogged down with guilt and despair. He could just hurt for Buffy.
He looks up and it's fully dark. Spike is just finishing his own cigarette. "Well, I'm off," he says, shoving his hands into his coat pockets and ambling away.
Giles looks at the moon in the sky. It's close to full, werewolves will be out soon. He misses her like longing, how she would've laughed at the moon, made a dog joke or two. He squares his shoulders.
"Ah, Spike," Giles says. Spike stops, at the edge of the alley. "I think I'll join you." Giles walks swiftly forward, back straight and full of purpose.
Spike smiles at him, a little wickedly. "You're welcome to it, mate. Ought to be more than enough carnage to go around."
"Nothing like a good spot of mayhem before settling down for the night," Giles says, falling in line with Spike.
"Wonder if we'll get any mutts out tonight. Close to the full moon. Might be we catch a stray or two."
Giles thinks of Buffy laughing at him, eyes beaming like the sun. He looks forward.