Part 1: Lost and Found
Part 2: Early Morning Wake-Up Call
Part 3: Not for the Faint of Heart
Setting: Post-Chosen; no comics and no references to Angel Season 5
Notes: I'll post Part 3 during the Open Day at the end of July.
Summary: Buffy plans for an apocalypse, mulls over her living situation, and tries to avoid some unwanted fluttery feelings for a certain Watcher.
Buffy had long held the belief that four in the morning was not an hour of the day that should be met consciously. Yet here she was. Part of the problem was that it was 11am in Chengdu and her internal clock was still set to that time. The other part of the problem was that while her bed was fairly comfortable, it was still, in essence, a dorm bed. Better than sleeping on the floor, but only marginally so. Not the type of bed that you could snuggle yourself into sleeping for another hour.
It wasn’t obligatory that all London slayers live in the dormitory near Kings Cross, any more than it was obligatory that the slayers in Cleveland live in the big group home, but most did. It was conveniently located and no one had to hide who they were or why they were always coming home at 3am, looking like they had been in a knock-down fight.
But Buffy hadn’t originally planned to do so. She had Dawn to think about. She was going to find a nice flat somewhere, maybe even a house. But Dawn fell in love with the boarding school that most Watcher families sent their children (Giles was an alumnus) and she had bonded with the other Watcher kids who had survived the Bringers attacks. It wasn’t exactly the traditional definition of “normal,” but Buffy would rather have Dawn surrounded by people who loved and understood her than to feel alienated and burdened by secrets she couldn’t share.
But that left Buffy at loose ends. She didn’t really like the idea of having a flat to herself when, thanks to her crazy travel schedule, she was barely going to be spending any time there at all. And there happened to be a nice suite in the slayer dorm with a small sitting room and kitchen area. Not to mention its own bathroom. It was the only one like it in the building, the rest of the floors were laid out in the tradition dorm configuration with small individual rooms and a shared bathroom, kitchen and common area. The slayers had all been fighting over who would get it, so it seemed to solve a lot of problems to pull rank and claim it for herself. But it wasn’t home. Just a place to store her stuff. She would often stay in hotel rooms that felt more personal. Some of it was because she just wasn’t around. Some of it was because she knew the dorm was temporary.
There wasn’t a lot of space, but right now that didn’t matter. Dawn spent her holidays traveling with Buffy. Dawn loved being able to catch up with all the Sunnydale Slayers and Buffy loved that she was finally able to fulfill her promise to show her little sister the world. Maybe when Dawn graduated, they would find that flat for themselves, but right now Dawn seemed perfectly content to sleep on an air mattress on the rare night they were in London. And Buffy knew that they could always crash with Giles if it was any problems before they found a place of their own.
Giles. Well, that was another issue completely. He had offered her a room in his gorgeous townhouse back when she was first trying to figure out the housing situation, but Buffy figured she was better off seeing if she couldn’t stand on her own. And yeah, some of that back then might have been because of how things went down after she was brought back and worry about what would happen if she ever leaned too heavily on her Watcher again. But, recently Giles had renewed the offer, rightly pointing out that she wasn’t really comfortable in her dorm. And her reasons for refusing now were different.
Giles meant everything to her and it was only natural that she wanted to stay as close to him as possible. Moving in would certainly do that and it would be so easy to just give in. But, if she did, she’d be cheating herself and she’d be cheating Giles. Giles had given up so much for her over the years and Buffy couldn't help but think that letting his Slayer live with him would almost be like Giles was giving up ever having a life outside of the Council. And as for her, there was a good chance that it would start to become too much like. . . well, like a marriage, without the sex. Because she never could seem to get close enough. If Giles was standing next to her, she wanted to be holding his hand. If he held her hand, she wanted to be in his arms. And if he was hugging her, holding her, what she wanted started to veer in truly wig-some territory. She wanted all that he would give her. She wanted everything. She wanted— She wasn’t going to go there.
She had such a lousy track record with love. Male or female, no matter whom she was attracted to romantically, in the end, they always was hiding some deep dark secret. But she knew everything about Giles, all the big stuff and a fair amount of the small stuff too. She knew his flaws, his weaknesses, and was a first-hand witness to some of his dumber mistakes. It would be so easy to just let herself. . .
With a sigh, Buffy decided she might as well get up and make herself a cup of tea. She switched the kettle on and rummaged in the cabinet, trying to decide if she wanted a green tea or an herbal blend. England (and Giles) had its influence, finally, irrevocably, turning her into a tea drinker, but she had developed a taste for more than just the traditional black during her travels. Herbal, maybe. She had been drinking an awful lot of green this past month, even before she left for China. She might have some of that orange and cranberry left, though chamomile would probably be more soothing. A mug of that, wrapping herself up in her throw and curling up on top of her fluffy duvet actually sounded pretty cozy. She might even be able to doze off again.
She had just grabbed the tea box and her favorite mug when the phone jangled, startling her and sending her adrenaline sky high. No one would call this early if it wasn’t an emergency.
“Buffy, dear, this is Margaret Harkness.”
“Hi Margaret. Is everything okay?” Buffy equally loved and was intimidated as hell by Willow’s teacher and head of the Devon coven, so it was still a little difficult referring to her by her first name. But Margaret had insisted.
“I’m afraid not. I do believe we have another apocalypse on our hands.”
“Cleveland?” Buffy put the chamomile away and pulled out her box of English Breakfast. No use pretending anymore that her day hadn’t already started.
“I’m afraid so. The seers couldn’t make out their identities, but they will succeed in opening the seal to the Hellmouth if you don’t stop them in time.”
“There’s only about eight slayers stationed there right now. Will that be enough?”
“I would say at least twenty or thirty more if you can.”
“It’s not even midnight in Cleveland. Is it going down now? Because I don’t know how I’ll be able to get enough able bodies there in time.” The kettle clicked off, as Buffy grabbed a second mug. She pour the hot water into both and let the tea bags seep.
“No, we have a least a day. But time and distance will no longer be an issue. The multi-user portal is ready.”
“You guys figured it out?! I thought that was only in the theoretical stage.”
“It’s not much past theoretical, but it will hopefully do the trick.”
“Well, it’s not the first time we’ve faced an apocalypse on a wing and a prayer. Should I wake up the girls?”
“No, let them sleep for now. There’s nothing that can be done for several hours and we don’t want rouse suspicions with the sudden appearance of a slayer battalion.”
“Right. I’ll check in with Giles and form a battle plan. Keep me posted if you guys find out anything else.”
“Oh, and Margaret? Thank you. I don’t know what we all would do without you and the coven.”
“It is our honor, dear.”
Hanging up the phone, Buffy turned her attention to the tea, removing the tea bags. A little bit of milk and lots of sugar in the first mug and more milk and slightly less sugar in the second. With a twirl of the spoon, she set them both spinning.
She had only taken a couple sips of her tea when a knock came at the door. Placing it down again, Buffy picked up the second cup and opened the door for her Watcher.
“Bless you!” Giles said fervently, as shifted the scrolls and papers he was carrying to grab the proffered mug.
“Margaret called and filled me in. Thirty extra slayers?! That’s more than the battle with the First.”
“There’s every indication this is part of some deeper plan. It doesn’t just stop with opening the Hellmouth. It’s starts with it.”
“Why am I even surprised anymore? Alright. Show me what you’ve got.”
Over the few hours, Buffy and Giles poured over maps, consulted prophesies, and made battle plans. Margaret called backed three times with more information. A little after six, Buffy stretched and offered to make more tea. The other slayers would be stirring soon and they would need to be ready to brief them.
“Are you alright? Has jetlag had been troubling you?” Giles asked, as Buffy handed him his mug and took her seat opposite him once again.
“I don’t think I even know what time zone I’m supposed to be in anymore. I’m more concerned about you. Weren’t you wearing that suit yesterday? Did you get any sleep at all?”
“Not really. I was about to go home when last night's team came in. It was Lewis’s first time flying solo.”
“That’s right! How did she do?”
“Quite well, from the sound of things. The slayers were very complimentary.”
“That’s good. But, Giles, they had to have come in after midnight, at the earliest. You never should have been at the office at all.”
“Nothing waiting for me at home,” Giles scoffed. A mischievous grin, then appeared on his face. “I’d leave earlier if I knew you were waiting there.”
“Giles. . .” Buffy warned.
“I’m just reminding you that there would be mutual benefits. I would be leaning on you as much as you might happen to lean on me. If you were worried about that sort of thing.”
“Would you even believe me if I tried to tell you I wasn’t?”
“Then let me assure you that I’m being quite selfish in my offer. I’ve grown so sick of living on my own.”
“Giles,” she said, reaching across to grab his hand. “That’s the thing. You deserve to have someone waiting for you. You deserve to have a home. I’ve always wanted that for you.”
“Buffy, whether you move in or not, that will not change the state of my romantic prospects,” Giles said, perceptively. Buffy grimaced at how well he could read her. If she didn’t know better, she would say it was more of their freaky Watcher-Slayer bond thing coming into play. It seemed to be getting stronger lately.
“You don’t know that. Giles, life is short. I want you to be happy.”
Giles shifted and took both of her hands in his own and looked into her eyes, all warm and sincere.
“Buffy, I am happy. You make me happy. Far happier than any romantic entanglements I’ve had, I can tell you that. And any man or woman who doesn’t understand what you mean to me is not someone I would wish to join my life with. There’s no sacrifice here. Not at my age. I’m done with it. Done with the games and the posing and the pretending. I just want something real in my life, in whatever form it happens to come in. This here, what we have, it’s as real as it comes.”
God, how do you respond to that? Buffy leaned down and placed a kiss on his hands and briefly rested her forehead on them.
“You make happy too,” she told him softly. “Look, let’s go save the world. We can talk about this afterwards.”
“That sounds like a very reasonable suggestion.”
She was just going to have to get over these fluttery feelings, because they were clearly only going to be keeping her from having what she really wanted, which was Giles by her side. He made the good times sweeter and the bad times more bearable. Yeah, it was easy to get that kind of attachment confused with the more hearts and flowers side of things, but, like Giles said, what they had was real. And she would always take what was real over some illusion, especially when what she got in the end was a brilliant, kind man who was willing to share his life with her. If that wasn’t exactly what it she wanted, it was certainly close enough. She had no complaints.
Go to Part 3