Unlike the other offering, this one is very much Giles/Anya....
TITLE: Sunset Limited
LENGTH: 5350 words
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS: Mutant Enemy et al.
SUMMARY: Diverging from canon at the Season Seven episode "Bring On The Night." (A brief prequel to the fic can be read here, but you don't need to.) While Buffy, Scoobies, and Potentials seek to find Spike, Giles and Anya take the Sunset Limited train toward San Antonio, enlightenment, and fulfilling a prophecy. Oh, and addressing something started in "Tabula Rasa" and "Grave".....
“Time has changed. It's midnight on this side of the line,” growls the First, as the Bringer comes down the corridor of the train's sleeping-car. “It's my time now, and I'm going to take what you have.”
Giles finds Anya's hand, already there, already reaching for him. They lock together around the Lumen crystal, and raise the fist their link makes. There's power waiting to be released, he can feel it.
“No, Big Evil, it's our time,” she says bravely, and then glances his way. He feels the sweetness of her look as though she's kissed him. “So let's kick some ass, honey.”
Despite the moment he almost laughs, because Anya's inimitable angle of perception is one of her great gifts, one of the reasons he treasures her. But he'll tell her later.
Now they have work to do.
Twenty Hours Earlier
Giles flicked on the light switch next to the sofa in their “Superliner Suite” – ridiculous name, he thought, but at least it wasn't a bloody “roomette,” or whatever the sodding hell these Amtrak people called the cubicles they'd originally tried to palm off on him – and then tossed his overnight bag into the small chair opposite.
“I'm sorry, Anya, this isn't quite the luxury accommodation befitting such an elegant station, but well....” he said. What he didn't say was that at least he wasn't on a horrible Virgin train like the one he'd been stranded on last year outside Manchester. He'd thought everyone on the train would have resorted to cannibalism, had they been there any longer.
What he also didn't say was that he was so tired, and so glad not to be alone. So glad to be with her.
Beaming, she poked her bright head out of the tiny bedroom. “Actually I feel better it's not old-time elegance, not as swanky as Union Station is. I was kind of worried about being under-dressed.”
He closed his eyes briefly, the better to manage two swift flashes of image: Anya dressed in 1940s gear, possibly with a lethally big hat, tripping across glossy tiles; Anya undressed, honey colour and sharp curves and that smile, Christ that smile.
When he opened his eyes, she was to him, her hands on his shoulders. “Turn around, Giles, let me take off your jacket.”
“It gets cold in the desert at night, though --”
“It's ten-thirty at night already, and it's warm in here. If cold happens, you can put it back on.” As she spoke, she drew down the suede jacket, her fingertips brushing against him as she pulled.
He thought, No, once the barrier's down, it's down.... But he suffered her attention, and his own unseemly interest, because this trip was meant. Grace Harkness had said so.
Which, of course, he needed to explain. As soon as Anya had hung up his coat and her own, she tugged on his hand; they tumbled onto the sofa which filled one side of the compartment. Not perhaps the softest place to rest, but anyway – “Now then, Giles. You didn't get a chance to talk me through this, what with the immediate travel rush while everyone else planned to rescue Spike from Big Evil and then my accidentally falling asleep on the ride from Sunnydale. So, okay, San Antonio Potential to be collected. But coven and seers and what?”
Repressing his urgent need to maneuver her into his arms – a need he'd been repressing for almost a year, since before Willow's Tabula Rasa spell – he settled himself more comfortably, stretched out his legs, and pondered how to start. Around them were the sounds of imminent departure, the rumbles and murmurs and shouts a kind of white noise that blocked out the world. They were safe enough here.
“Right,” he began, “you remember the last phone call I made to you, before....”
“Before you dropped out of contact,” she said. She mirrored his moves – settling herself, stretching out – and then grabbed his hand. “Which I guess was right before the big boom in Russell Square.”
“Yes.” He didn't want to dwell on his losses, which were far more than the Council building. “I was in Westbury, and moments before, er, the big boom, Grace Harkness came to find me and give the seer Rosamund's words.”
“Okay.” Despite the seeming agreement, her sidelong glance was interrogation.
He smiled, a little painfully, and slipped into exposition as if it were one of his old tweed suits. “As usual she wandered around the point, but I've figured out the three key points, and a gift. First, regardless of what had happened and was yet to happen, I must choose a traveling companion for the hard road ahead. Second, er, I think I told you 'slow route,' but I checked my notes when we got here; it was that I should find myself on a 'slow track to enlightenment.' She was insistent that this was general, and, er, specific. Last, that specific track would end in the sunrise, but begin in the sunset.”
Anya furrowed her brow, then nodded. “Well, I understand the train then, because this is going to be incredibly slow to San Antonio, but that's in the east – and the name is the Sunset Limited. So, sure, that's literally true, yay for literalness!”
“Er, yes. Yay,” he said, unable to hide his chuckle.
She hesitated – not, he thought, because of his laughter, but because she'd caught the first point he'd mentioned. She'd been so pleased when he'd asked her in Sunnydale, and now: “You really did choose me.”
“Yes, of course. Because of...” He stopped there. Tersely, “We are still partners, after all.”
“Not that you've done anything for Magic Box by Mail business since July, but yes. Yes, we are,” she said. This was in her usual manner, a blend of tartness and good sense. She'd sounded like this every time he'd rung her during the summer, despite the vengeance-transformation she'd been fighting – what he thought of as the real Anya underneath it all. But then her voice went husky, and her hand tightened on his. “I probably should tell you again that I really, really appreciate it.”
He fell into the moment with a curious gratitude – here in this enclosed space, surrounded by her perfume and her presence, warmed by her. Instead of responding in speech, he rested his cheek on the top of her head. She made a quiet happy sound, but then stilled.
Underneath them, the train began to rumble into movement. They were on their way.
He and Anya, however, didn't move until the sleeping-car attendant – a large man but self-effacing, looming dark in the aisle; his name, oddly, Marion – came to take their breakfast order and wish them a pleasant night. “Your bed's already turned down,” he said cheerfully. Then, looking at them, “You holler if you need another sleeping space, but it kind of looks like you don't.”
After the attendant moved on, Giles cleared his throat. “Er, Anya, we didn't actually talk about that....”
“We'll work it out later,” she said, and to his unspoken disappointment, sat up, crossed her legs, and returned to business-mode. “So three cryptic seer-statements, got it. What was the gift?”
“Right, yes.” He moved to his overnight bag, rummaged around, pulled out the velvet bag in which the item had come to him. Once he was settled again, he released the drawstring.
A crystal, flattened into a disc. It had been an almost opaque cream when he'd looked at it before, its facets only just visible, but now, in his palm, the crystal was turning translucent. No, wait.
Now it was faintly glowing.
She touched it gently with a fingertip. “So was it this way when you got it?”
“No,” he said. “And – hang on. This is new.”
Words, faint as if pen or knife had barely touched the polished surface, manifested. Midnight. Then, Rose in the dark.
“I'm getting a weird Elvish vibe from this crystal-thing.” She frowned. “You know, elves can be kind of assholes.”
He couldn't help but laugh at her expression. Still, “I don't think it's elven. The coven records suggest it's a West Country crystal – from my own county – but the magical making of a Renaissance mage known as Lumen.”
“Lumen.... Oh, Gregory!” Emotion flickered over her face. “Okay, he could be trusted.”
“You, er, knew him?”
“Not that well, but yep. Met him in Rome. He was English, though.” She touched the crystal again, then looked at Giles with those warm, deep brown eyes of hers. “In fact he was kind of like you. Like you now, anyway, with the good power and the focus and smarts – nbut ot like you when I first met you, when you were all fussy and cloaking yourself.” Before he could respond (not that he knew how to speak to that compliment and insult mixed), she added, “He was skilled with tools of foretelling, tuned his instruments to a lot of frequencies. So do we think this means midnight tonight, or --”
“Possibly tomorrow. We'll still be travelling. It's only just eleven now, since we've started a little late.” The train had been scheduled to depart at 10.
“Okay.” She took the crystal from him and slipped it back in the velvet bag. Then, turning to him, she brushed the hair back at his temples. “You look super worn-out, Giles, what with losing the Watchers and collecting all those Potentials and apocalypse in general. I'll keep watch for now. You go sleep.”
“Go.” Then she leaned forward and kissed him. Not the dizzy rush of that first kiss when they were spellbound-engaged in the Magic Box; not the deep hot rush of the kisses he'd been dreaming about in the lonely nights since: this was a brush of sweetness, a delicate touch of tongue, and her hand now on his bare neck, fingertip at the vein as softly as she'd touched the crystal.
When she pulled away, he cleared his throat. “Er, I'm not sure how I'm supposed to sleep now, after... that.”
“You'll manage. It's a long trip, we'll have time.” She smiled at him – and then pushed. Hard.
Well, that was Anya for you, he thought as he stumbled up and over the threshold into the tiny bedroom. A kiss and a punch, and either – both – could lay him low.
Strangely, he did fall asleep as soon as he hit the bed. He went deep into dreams, relaxed for the first time in years, floating on the gentle rhythm of the train over tracks, train over tracks, train over tracks –
Until, some hours later, small feminine hands pushed at him. “Giles, move over,” Anya said, and still mostly asleep, he said, “Right, darling,” and curved himself so he could be big spoon.
“Well, that'll work,” came her whisper, and then so eased with her presence as she fitted herself to him – with only a slight kick or two – he went deep into sleep again, even more relaxed.
He woke hours later with her right breast filling his hand, her left foot between his calves, and a rather painful erection cradled against her bottom. Oh sodding hell.
“Giles, are you awake?” she whispered.
When she flipped around to face him, he moistened his lips. In the faint light drifting in from where the shade didn't quite cover glass, she seemed so lovely, all tangled hair and sleep-dusted eyes. Perhaps he was still dreaming.
“I heard somebody outside. I think it's time for breakfast,” she said. “Since we stupidly said we'd eat it here rather than the dining car --”
“Right. But first, this.” And almost without thinking, he pulled her in and kissed her.
Almost immediately he realised that this was not a dream. For one thing, he wouldn't have imagined that morning-fuzz in their mouths, and his slightly aching shoulder from lying on this not particularly comfortable mattress. For another, more important thing, he couldn't have dreamed how... happy... he'd be, with her right there, focused on him, her mouth open to him, and her leg lifting to curl around his thigh, bring him closer, all he'd have to do would be to lift the soft T-shirt she was wearing and –
The outer door rattled, and she scooted back. “We'll get back to that, Giles, okay?” In a moment she was up, pulling on jeans, and bolting into the other room.
Giles collapsed onto the (inadequate) pillow. What the bloody hell was he doing? He and Anya hadn't even talked, and now that he was awake and in a rough approximation of his right mind, he sensed something wrong. Not with them, but elsewhere. Nearby.
Stiffly – in several senses – he got up, stripped off, and went into the tiny shower space. Cold water. That was what he needed.
When he came out of the shower, the blind had been slightly raised, the coverlet thrown over tangled sheets. He could hear her rustling around, but the connecting door was almost closed.
The sense of wrongness intensified, as if dark shapes were pressing in.
As soon as he'd dried himself and dressed, he cautiously slid open the door. Anya, also dressed, was curled up on the sofa, with the breakfast things perched precariously on the tiny tray table. She cradled the crystal in her hand, he saw.
Her gaze flicked over him. “I am really, really sorry to say this, but we have to put the pleasurable kissing and likelihood of sex on hold. Look at this.” She held out the crystal –
Which now was glowing brightly, so that the words they'd seen last night were deeper inscribed. Midnight. Rose in the dark. And something else.... He took the crystal from her and inspected the new words.
Danger until midnight.
“Okay, now I'll take that back, and you can have some tea,” she said, suiting action to words.
He greedily gulped down a mouthful of tea – she'd put in just the right amount of milk and sugar – and then sat down beside her. “That last message seems clear enough, if not particularly helpful. And I can't quite figure out what else is wrong.... Did I, um, miss anything last night?”
“Nope.” She turned the crystal over and over in her hands, as if searching for new hidden clues. “I warded us all up, and stayed awake until we were almost to Palm Springs, and nothing. A whole bunch of nothing.... Say, do you hear anything now?”
“Well. Er –”
And then the wrongness clarified itself: the silence beyond the sound of the tracks. “I forgot my watch in the other room, Anya. What time is it?”
She checked hers. “I have 6:45, which seems early for breakfast. Except, wait, we should be in Arizona by now. Mountain Time would be 7:45.”
It was November –past the Summer Time oddness with Arizona – so yes, it should be 7:45. Which meant “Even though we started late, shouldn't we be nearing Tucson? The train stops there.”
Her gaze met his. “I don't hear anything like arrival noises.”
“I don't hear anything at all,” he said. The rest of his tea would have to wait.
He slid open the outer door and looked out. An older couple had one of the only other bedrooms on this lower level; he and Anya had also seen three people go upstairs to the cubicles there. Yet there was no movement, no sound.
“I think I'll check the Car Attendant's room--”
“Are you armed?” she demanded. “Because Gregory's crystal is saying very clearly you should be.”
He'd ordinarily have protested her officiousness, but in this case she had a rather compelling point. “My dagger's in my bag.”
“I'll get it.” She bolted past him.
Which reminded him – “Didn't you see, er, Marion when he brought breakfast?”
“No. The tray was outside the sliding door.”
“In that narrow corridor?”
She appeared in the doorframe, dagger in hand. Their frowns must have looked like mirror images, he found himself thinking. She said, “You're right. That's probably a bad sign.”
“Which ward did you use on the threshold, Anya?”
“Right, then.” Turning back to the door, he chanted the tracer spell he'd been working on with Grace. Anya's barrier flared up in green and gold, and there was only a thin blue break to indicate his own quick look outside. “Ward's still in operation.”
“I don't know what that means, but I don't like it,” she said, and moved closer to him.
“Nor do I.” After he took the dagger in his dominant hand, with the other he collected her. “Let's investigate,” he said.
But there was no one in their carriage – no living being downstairs, no one in the Attendant's room. They prowled quietly up the small staircase to the upper level, but it too was deserted. When they approached the connecting door on that level, however, the singe of an extremely intense barrier spell hit them – and under it, curling around it, the smell of death and something else foul.
In the last cubicle was Marion, dead with his throat cut, covered in decayed roses.
Giles took an unsteady step back. For a moment he was in his Sunnydale apartment, with dead Jenny lying in his sheets, and the smell of roses and blood everywhere –
“Don't fall, Giles honey, I don't think I can lift you,” Anya said, and her arms came around him in support that was more than physical.
He covered her hands. “Thank you, Anya darling,” he said, and silently he thanked the coven for insisting he travel with some one, and silently he thanked himself for choosing her. Then, “They've locked us in, it seems.”
“Yes. Damn it.” She tugged on his middle. “Let's check the outside door.”
Together they clattered down the staircase – no need to be quiet – and to the outer door. Its window seemed at first glance to be on fire, but no, it was the early sun reflecting off another train rushing by on a parallel set of tracks.
The same barrier-magic singe, strong and hot, greeted them. Beyond the barrier was sun and life and noise, but all he heard was the rumble of the train and the hush of his and Anya's breathing.
They were in Tucson indeed, just a little late. And –
“Looks like we're trapped,” she said, and her hand found his.
They aim their hands and their intent.
The Bringer halts. Its blind head tilts waiting for its master to speak. But the First has paused too, hovering in the doorway. Waiting, waiting for fuck knows what –
“Sod it, now,” Giles says, and they breathe together, and speak the words, and light unfurls like rose petals in the desert night.
“I would just like to say,” Anya announced, “it seems really, really evil to trap us on a train for... how many hours have we been here?”
Giles shifted his weight on the sofa. “If we were trapped at 7:30 this morning, Mountain Time, and it's, um, almost 10:40 pm now....”
“Still Mountain Time. But we're almost to the boundary where it changes. It's all so flexible, as if time didn't mean anything.” Sighing, she flopped sideways so that her head rested in his lap. “And it's like a word problem in math. Did I ever tell you I almost flunked math when I, you know, became a teenage human girl after a millennium of living? Just because I was unprepared for word problems. They're so imprecise and shifty.”
Smiling, he stroked her hair. If the time wasn't what it was, he'd have teased at her ear, sent his hand down below the jumper and filled his palm again with her sweet weight. But –
“As I was saying,” she continued, “it's really Big Evil to trap us on a train for fifteen hours and yet keep us on the edge so much that we can't allow ourselves to have actual sex.” She sighed again, and then grabbed the Lumen crystal – which she insisted on calling “Gregory's deal” – off the table. After inspecting it, she said, “Getting close now.”
The crystal had begun to darken that morning. As each hour had passed, it had grown blacker, its warning words a starker crimson. The only thing was, Giles thought now, that it had seemed rather a lie.
Nothing had happened for those fifteen hours. Or rather, nothing unduly horrible had happened.
They had been trapped indeed. The mobiles didn't work, any communication devices with the rest of the train didn't work, banging on the windows didn't work. At Hour Six he and Anya had tried a spell to contact the coven – who after all had told him to come – but nothing penetrated the barrier. It was if they were in a fold of a pocket in time and space, unseen and unheard by those outside the fold.
He looked at the window, unscreened now to let in the indigo night. They'd passed through New Mexico without stopping. At tea-time they'd reached El Paso in Texas, where the train had stopped for almost an hour – it had almost been more frustrating than anything else, being that close and yet unable to connect.
He stroked Anya's hair again. While they might be cut off from the outside world, they had managed to connect extremely well in here. Other than the regrettable lack of sex, of course.
She checked her watch – a complicated mechanism, with an alarm capacity – again. “I think I'll set the alarm. Should I change this to Central Time now?”
“No, I shouldn't think so. There must be something telling about midnight, and, er....”
“You do and don't want to hurry it. I get that.” She looked up at him. “Like last year when you were getting ready to leave us. I wanted the Magic Box to myself, yay responsibility, except I really, really didn't want you to go. To leave me.”
“And I didn't want to go. More so after Willow's spell... and I bloody well should have heeded my instincts and stayed.”
She caressed his cheek. “Well, everything was all so filled with barriers and crap, inside and out. At least those are gone.”
He bent down, best he could, and she scrambled onto her (sharp) elbows to reach his mouth. They kissed again, as they had at odd moments throughout this ordeal. It had become familiar and comforting but also somehow enlightening, as though they were exchanging stories and selves through this medium of touch.
Time indeed was flexible, he thought as she pulled away. Only fifteen hours since waking, and yet they had talked through their post-apocalypse plans – a shop, of course, probably in London; a small house together, although the borough was still a matter of contention – and worked through three scenarios for the midnight end-game, settling on a spell that seemed to contain all that the coven and Gregory Lumen would have wanted. She had foraged in her capacious carry-on for snacks (thankfully better prepared than that Winnebago trip a year and a half ago), and together they'd cast a spell to heat water for more tea at the appropriate hour. And they had talked, and kissed, and centered themselves.
Centered themselves for the coming hour.
After he checked her watch again – 10:50, which would be 11:50 on the other side – he urged her to sit up. “I'd like to make one more patrol of the car, darling, before, well... you know.”
“Yes, before the clock strikes.” She frowned. “That turn of phrase seems awfully violent, doesn't--”
At which point there came a literally unholy battering at the train carriage's outer door.
He grabbed his dagger and the potion made from crushed roses which he'd packed, she grabbed the Lumen crystal, and together they leapt for the dimly lit corridor outside their suite.
Bringers at the outside door, faces pressed to the glass. Another unholy bang, this time from above, and wordless Bringer howls. And the smell off the barriers intensified, as if it were being burnt from outside.
A clatter on the stairs, familiar somehow, and then –
“Ethan,” Giles said numbly.
“The First,” Anya said, and pulled at his hand. “Giles, you know this.”
“I didn't know... I wasn't certain he was dead.” When Giles had contacted the Initiative prison some months after Ethan's last visit to Sunnydale, they had 'lost Mr Rayne's records.' He'd hoped that somehow Ethan's trickster skills had helped facilitate escape, but Anya was quite right.
Giles took a pinch of the crushed roses, added a kick of his own, and blew it toward the First. Ethan's face and body shimmered when the magic reached him – it – and behind the fluctuating light was nothing. “What do you want, First Evil?”
“What do you think I want? Chaos!” the Ethan-First said merrily. “Chaos and dark and all the things you once liked, my friend.”
“Wrong as usual,” Giles said, and grasped Anya more tightly.
“I just had to follow you.” Ethan-First's smile twitched into frown. “I just had to, I don't know why.” Then, more cheerfully, “Perhaps because this is the best way to kill you! Separate from your little friends!”
Behind Ethan, the door shattered, and a Bringer and the desert night poured in just as the alarm on Anya's watch went off.
Focused through the crystal, their magic blossoms and blossoms, red and white and gold sparks of light over nothingness.
The First shouts incoherent rage, goes dark, fades before the magic can reach where the manifestation has stood. The Bringer says nothing, but the wind from the broken door pulls him back, and a huge dark hand from the depths of midnight sweeps him up and out and gone.
Above them there's the thunder of Bringer footsteps on metal, and then through the open door they see the fall of Bringer after Bringer, a half-dozen or so onto the tracks before they're as disappeared as their master.
Around them comes one more blast of that smell of scorching, and then with the last petal-fall of light, a susurration like fabric against fabric, a fold undoing itself, and a different smell entirely, good coffee and recirculated air and humanity.
Above them, the sounds of humans settling themselves, murmurs and scrapes; down the car, conversation from the old couple's room –
“'Scuse me, folks,” says Marion from behind them. Giles and Anya whirl around to see the car attendant grinning at them from the doorway of his room. “Thought you two were going to hide in there all the way to San Antone.” He rubs absently at his neck, where a faint red line gleams. “Sorry, got the weirdest sore throat. Anyway, would you like a snack? I can bring you something from the dining car.”
“That would be great,” Anya says, beaming, “it would be so, so great. You have no idea.”
“Yes.” Giles realises that at some point – thank all the gods – he and Anya have put their hands down. It would have been slightly embarrassing to be caught hurling magic at a phantasm. “Er, yes, thank you, Marion. Whatever light meal's available.”
“Not a problem.” Smiling, the man comes toward them, so Giles can see that the outer door remains unbroken. Beyond it is midnight, but nothing seems to be stirring in the desert.
Anya tugs at Giles's hand. “C'mere, you.”
He raises his eyebrows, but allows himself to be dragged back inside their suite. As soon as he's past the threshold and the door slides shut, she's in his arms. As she manages to toss the crystal on the folding table, she says, “We did it, honey! Although I can't imagine why we had to or what that was for, we did it!” And then her mouth is on his, and she's delicious and present and oh so real –
He falls backward onto the sofa, almost gracefully, and she's with him; on her knees, she straddles his lap and links her hands behind his head. They smile at each other for a long moment, there in the dim light, there in the midst of life. Then she bends her head to his.
They've been kissing for some time – perhaps for eternity, he's lost track – when his mobile rings. “I do have to get this,” he murmurs against her lips, and then reaches over for his phone. The call is from Buffy.
When he answers, his Slayer's already in full spate. “--We got Spike out of the First's cave-clutches, Giles! And it was weird, because this morning it was, like, boom, the First and the Uber-vamp and all assorted minions were gone. Like they had, I don't know, elsewhere to be. So Willow cast a locator spell for Spike, and Xander and I and a couple of the girls you brought with you went a-hunting, and it was easy.” She pauses. “So why weren't you answering your phone for the last, like, day? Actually, um, don't tell me, I don't want to know what you and Anya were up to.”
He and Anya gaze at each other. The First had cited a compulsion to follow them, which meant that Sunnydale had a day free from siege.... Anya turns and grabs the crystal, which is now a lovely translucent rose colour. There is only one word inscribed on its face, in a deeper rose.
“Sorry, sorry,” he says to Buffy. “But well done of you to, er, rescue Spike. I think that he must be more important to the war effort than I would have imagined, and, anyway--”
“Anyway, yes,” Anya says into the phone. “Yes. That's all what we want to say.”
“Oh God, don't, don't,” Buffy begs, “there is a twosome thing happening in your voices and I think I'm scarred for life. I gotta go be not-scarred in a brightly lit room, possibly with chocolate. And Spike needs some stuff, and.... look, we'll see you when you get back. I just wanted to let you know. Bye.”
“Goodbye,” Giles says to a dead line, and then laughs, and clicks his mobile off.
“So we were bait for the First,” Anya says. She tosses the Lumen crystal in the air, catches it, presses it to his heart. “Or this was.”
“Or both.” He takes the crystal from her, and puts it and the mobile on the table. “I'll ring Grace Harkness tomorrow, try to get a few proper answers. But for now, we'll let all of that go.” He grins at her. “As a wise woman recently said, 'C'mere, you.'”
His hands cradle her face, thumbs tracing her cheekbones and the edges of her smile, and then he kisses her again, soft and deep and present.
Then the door slides open, and Marion says, “Excuse me. Um, do you want me to come back later?”
Annoyance flickers in Anya's eyes, but Giles strokes away the frustration-line above her brows. “No, it's fine,” he says. Despite weariness, evil, and the shiftiness of boundaries – “Anya and I have all the time in the world.”