Timeline: Most of Giles’ past up to the destruction of Sunnydale
Summary: He’s always liked fierce girls
Pairing: G/OFC, G/Deirdre, G/Buffy
Category: Pastfic, hetfic
Distribution: If you've had my permission in the past, you have it now. All others, ask and ye shall receive.
Feedback: Constructive criticism always welcome. Praise abjectly sought.
Disclaimer: It all belongs to Joss, Mutant Enemy, etc., etc., etc. I just let them have all the fun Joss won't. I own nothing except my twisted mind which you really don't want. Please don't sue. Notes: This is my second offering for Summer of Giles 2013. What can I say? A vision came and I wrote it down.
She was fierce, his father’s Potential, with azure eyes he loved to lose himself in and a tumble of red curls that seemed to fly in her wake like a banner. Her name was Meg. Irish. But of course she’d been raised by another Watcher first. When Stebbins succumbed to cancer, Meg was passed on to Wilfred Giles. Neither was expected to enter the true fray, but the girl needed a Watcher and Giles was next in line. And with a family to provide for, the stipend might come in handy.
Rupert was in the room when Meg arrived, all brashness and curls and defiance. He watched owlishly from a corner, his eyes nominally focused on a study guide for young Watchers to be, but really watching the girl. He’d just reached an age where girls had stopped being the clear enemy, and become a source of frustratingly delightful new sensations. He decided this was the sort of girl he liked best, the sort that had her own strength, like Boadicea. Two twelve-year-olds locked eyes across a stuffy library, and Rupert knew he was in love.
For the next few years, every time they both had time that wasn’t filled with demonology or combat, the two found some corner of the house, the garden, or the village to hide and talk about everything but vampires. They stole their first cigarettes together, washing them down with lager pilfered from the kitchen behind Mrs. Giles’ back. The lager was bitter and the smoke nearly choked them, but neither would back down until there was nothing left but stubbed butts and the last half mouthful of backwash. Then they shared their first tentative, fumbling kiss.
The time came and went in which Meg might finally be called to destiny. Then came the question of what she would do, now that it was certain she wasn’t to spend a short, hard life slaying monsters.
“You could stay,” Rupert said as casually as he could manage. “I’ll have to go to Oxford when I leave school, but I’ll have holidays. And besides, I think Mum would like having your help around the house. My brothers aren’t very tidy.”
Meg kicked restlessly at the crumbling stone wall of an abandoned building where they sat sneaking ciggies and lager.
“That’d be shite,” she said. “I’m not picking up after a lot of dirty boys. If I wanted to do that, I’d go be a hotel maid. Fuck. All these years I’ve wanted to get shut of destiny, and now I don’t know what I’m going to do with myself.”
“We could run away together,” he suggested only half in jest. “A few minutes in the registry office and destiny be damned.”
“Mine’s already buggered, but you’re stuck.”
Rupert shrugged and took another swig of lager. Meg sat down next to him and smiled wanly.
“Most romantic proposal I’ve had all day,” she laughed.
“So what about it?”
Meg stared at him.
“You’re not serious?”
“Who says I’m not?”
“I do.” She stole his fag and took a long draw. “You might think you want me, but mostly you just want to get out of being a Watcher.”
“But I love you.”
She laughed out loud at that.
“You keep saying that, Rupert, but it’s no good. I’m not the sort of girl a man comes home to after a hard day at the office. I’d row with you and make your life a misery.”
“I don’t want a girl to agree with me,” Rupert snorted. “Any wet little ninny could do that. I like to spar.”
Meg tossed the cigarette and clambered onto his lap. The combination of easy familiarity and challenge made him ache with wanting. He pulled her into a demanding kiss.
“Let’s do it,” he said.
“Fuck or get married?”
“I don’t really care.”
She slapped him lightly on the back of the head.
“You’re daft,” she told him. “And I think I won’t do either. I won’t take a man just because it’s something to do. I’ve got a life to lead, now I’m not going to be the Slayer. Even if you did disgrace yourself by marrying me, you’d still be stuck as a Watcher, and I’d have to watch you raise another little girl to kill. I won’t do that. Find an ordinary girl from a Watcher family and make lots of little Watchers, Rupert. It’s your job.”
She kissed him hard, then took off running. Rupert finished the last of the lager and had another cigarette before heading home. By the time he got there, Meg was already packing to go. No amount of urging could make her stay.
Rupert missed her when she was gone. The village girls weren’t as interesting; they weren’t fierce like Meg.
When he got to Oxford, there was far too much work to do to worry about girls very much. Certainly there were appointments with girls who were rumored to be easy conquests, but that was a matter of simple physical comfort. A quick fumble here and a practiced lay there was about all Giles was looking for at that point. The faces and body parts didn’t remain distinct in his mind for long. He was gentle with them and kind afterwards, but girls learned that he would waft away as easily as he smiled at them.
Then there was Deirdre.
She wasn’t some random undemanding shag or clinging vine of a potential wife. She stood alone and demanded what she wanted. Like Meg, she was fierce. She had her own appetites for loud music and arcane knowledge and sex. Ethan, and to a lesser extent Randall both tried to be in charge, but Giles knew to just sit back and enjoy the ride. He knew she could lead him where she liked, but he knew that she wouldn’t want him to be passive, either. When she did a runner from University, he followed.
It was his idea to seek pleasure through less than savory practices. He knew minor spells that could enhance pleasure, and firmly believed that to be enough. Deirdre, though, demanded more. It was Ethan who found the Eyghon spell. Giles had his doubts. He warned the others this might be more than they were ready to handle. But when Deirdre scoffed and questioned his manhood, Giles rolled up his sleeve and accepted Randall’s homemade tattoo.
The sex was amazing, even Giles had to admit. And the first session went off without a hitch. So did the second. After a few tries that resulted in nothing worse than exhaustion from too much sex and not enough rest or food, they got careless.
Never in his worst nightmares had Giles seen such carnage. He left the others that night and went slinking back to Oxford, determined never to let a woman lead him around by the nose again. He avoided Deirdre for years. Fierce women were captivating, but they were dangerous, too.
For far too many years after that, women were rare in Giles’ life. The council rumor mill – and the ones at every cover job he worked – circulated with guesses that he had a young man stashed away somewhere who pleasured him when nobody was looking. Or the word spread that he’d taken a vow of celibacy when his lovely fiancée died in an accident… or was turned forcing him to stake her. Few guessed that his sex life actually consisted mostly of lonely wanks, occasional willing girls found at his local pub, and far too many nights when he just didn’t bother to do anything about his desires.
He never expected to find another woman to love, though his dreams were populated by fierce, uncompromising women who made his passions rise to their fullest. Such women weren’t to be found every day, and when they did appear it was safest to approach them with a caution they would not respect.
Of course fierce little girls were to be found being raised by various members of the Council, but not by Giles. He mostly researched prophecy, whisked dangerous artifacts away from obscure museums and shops, and acted as a walking cautionary tale to other young Watchers thinking of taking an unscheduled sabbatical from the straight and narrow. Do what he did, they said, and you’ll never get an assignment worth doing again. He would never get a Potential – let alone a Slayer – of his own to train. Probably a damn good thing, too.
Then one day Quentin Travers called Giles into his office.
“Sit down, Rupert,” Travers said briskly. “Tea?”
“No, thank you, Quentin. What’s the matter?”
“Right to the point, eh? Excellent. There’s been an accident, if one can call it that.”
“An accident? Did something happen to….”
“Nobody in your family, my boy” Travers assured him smoothly. “No, it’s Merrick.”
“Merrick? Didn’t he go to America? Something about a Lost Slayer?”
“He found her. The wretched girl had eluded our entire network for fifteen years. Merrick finds her and in six months he’s dead defending her. Threw his entire life away, stupid prat.”
“But the girl lives?”
“And needs a new Watcher.”
“Who are you sending?”
“I? But I’ve never trained a Slayer.”
“No more had Merrick. I’ve every confidence in you, Rupert. Just keep in mind that Merrick is dead because he went rogue. You sowed those oats years ago and haven’t given us any trouble since.”
Giles wasn’t sure he liked the smile Travers leveled at him, but returned it nervously.
“I do my best,” he said since he couldn’t think of a reply less likely to get him in trouble. “When do I leave?”
“Next week. I’ve arranged for your cover job as a high school librarian. As a new student, she’ll be obliged to get texts and you’ll be there to contact her.” Travers stood to indicate the interview was over. “You’ll get your travel orders in due course from my secretary. And of course you’ll be issued the standard diary. Keep it regularly, Rupert.”
“Yes, of course, Quentin. I’ll do that,” Giles said as he headed for the door.
“Oh, and Rupert?”
“Don’t go getting yourself killed. You’re a valuable artifact sleuth, you know.”
As soon as Giles was gone, another man stepped out of the next room where he’d been listening.
“Director, are you sure that Mr. Giles is the best choice for the situation?”
“Yes, I do believe he is.”
“But I’ve been qualified,” Wesley insisted obsequiously. “Mr. Giles was never intended to have his own Slayer. It’s my turn.”
“You won’t have to wait long. I know Rupert. He’s going to get himself and his Slayer killed in record time, and then both problems are off our hands. You’ll get the next active Slayer available.”
When Giles arrived in Sunnydale, he took an instant dislike to the place. It was too sunny, too new, and too American for his taste. He took an even more instant dislike to his new cover job. The children were brash and willfully ignorant. They were loud. They were rude. They had no respect for the printed page or interest in knowledge for its own sake.
The one bright spot in the first weeks was an odd little red-haired girl with scarily clashing clothes and a smile that lit the room. Giles was almost disappointed to realize this wasn’t his Slayer. She was the only person in the entire school who seemed to like being in the library. At the same time, he was somewhat relieved Willow wasn’t his Slayer. He was loathe to think of her in danger.
When Buffy did, at length, arrive on the scene, he wasn’t sure what to make of her at first. She seemed a great deal more fragile than he’d expected. She was reluctant to take up her duties. And yet there was something about her he recognized; something that made him have hope that she would both do her duty and beat the odds.
Something… almost fierce.
No. Something exactly fierce. And yet, something tender as well. Within days, he understood Merrick’s sacrifice and vowed that he would do the same, if fate required it of him.
Over time they rowed, they teased, they wept, and they rebuilt broken trust over and over again.
Then one day it was over.
They stood at the edge of a precipice staring down at the smoking remains of the town they’d called home for seven years. The world had changed completely. Buffy was no longer the only Slayer. The Council lay in ruins. Sunnydale was no more. In one desperate battle, everything they knew and understood had either gone or changed to be unrecognizable.
Giles was nearly overwhelmed with an urge to laugh. He finally understood how Meg felt when her eighteenth birthday released her into a wild she wasn’t prepared for.
The he heard the first peal of laughter from Buffy. It wasn’t mirthful. He tried to go to her, but she waved him off and stalked away. He knew that if he went to her now, he would suffer for his pains. Fierce things must be respected when they need space. She would come to them when she was ready.
Three days later in a shelter for the victims of the Sunnydale earthquake, Buffy came to Giles.
“Could we maybe go for a walk or something?”
Her restlessness matched his own. He was happy to fall in with her plan, and eager to hear what she might have to say to him. Outwardly, he simply shrugged and headed for the door. Inwardly, he felt nearly giddy. He and Buffy had been too far emotionally apart for too long.
They walked for a long time in silence. When they found a liquor store, Buffy headed in without so much as a by your leave. Giles followed. He didn’t say a word when Buffy chose a bottle of vodka. He just followed her out of the store and down the street again. Even though he’d given them up years before, he felt almost as though he ought to get a packet of cigarettes. If she’d chosen lager, he might have done it.
Eventually Buffy found a spot she decided was conducive to the discussion she wanted to have. She slumped down the wall of the abandoned factory, opened her bottle, and took a swig. She passed it to Giles who followed suit.
Giles stayed silent. He wanted Buffy to come to her own point in her own time.
“All these years,” she said at last with a rueful shake of her head. “All these years I’ve wanted out and now I don’t know what to do.”
Giles shrugged and took another drink. She looked up at him with sad eyes.
“What do I do now, Giles?”
“I suppose that depends on what you want to do. You could stay in California, find a job and a school for Dawn.”
“And do what? I’m a college drop out from a town that doesn’t exist anymore.”
“Ah, but a non-existent town whose survivors are going to get public aid,” Giles reminded her. “You might be able to get help going back to school, getting a degree.”
“Yeah. Because school and me always got along so well.” She took a long swig. “You’re going back.”
“I suppose so. I really haven’t made up my mind. I might stay here and help clear up the mess.”
“You and your terminal neatness.”
Giles was pleased to hear a sliver of her old teasing tone. He took the bottle and raised it.
“Maybe I should get married,” Buffy said just as he began to drink. “So how about it?”
There was a lull in the conversation as she pounded Giles’ back in hopes he would stop coughing.
“What the bloody hell…?”
“Relax, Giles,” she said. “It was a random stupid thought. Who’d want me anyway?”
Giles wiped his streaming eyes and put his glasses back on.
“It wasn’t that,” he said. “It was surprise. You’ve never expressed much interest in marriage before. And the way you said it was… open to interpretation.”
“Interpret away,” she said.
“You don’t mean….”
“I might. What do you say? We could take care of it with a quick run to the courthouse, or an even quicker trip to Vegas where they don’t make you wait three days.”
“Such a romantic proposition makes my head spin,” Giles grumbled. “And the answer is no.”
“Yeah, I guess I already knew that.”
“What you don’t know is the reason.”
“You don’t marry someone because you’re confused or because you want someone to take care of you. You’d be miserable and you know it.”
“I know. I’m a pain to live with.”
“Yes, you are.”
“And you’re a crusty, confirmed bachelor who fights everything normal.”
“Yes, well, I never claimed to be Prince Charming. It’s true, though, I’m not a comfortable person to be with. I don’t make nice.”
“Neither do I. I don’t want someone who makes nice. I want to be with someone who gets me, but isn’t afraid of me. That kind of leaves you.”
“Fuck,” Giles said with feeling as he laughed mirthlessly.
“That a proposition, Giles? Because I don’t do public sex, anymore.”
“No, it bloody wasn’t a proposition! I don’t do public sex anymore, either, and we’ve nowhere private to go.”
“That the only reason?”
He shrugged again.
“It might be.”
“So marriage is out, but sex might be in. Good to know.”
“I don’t think either is a good idea just now.”
She took the longest drink yet.
“That doesn’t mean they’ll always be bad ideas.”
He was glad to see the first smile on her face since Sunnydale was destroyed.
He took the bottle from her and placed it out of harm’s way.
With that, he took her chin in his hand and kissed her soundly. He was pleased with the slightly dazed look on her face when they finished.
“I’ve always had a secret fondness for fierce girls.”