Author: Goddess Michele
Date: June 7, 2014
Spoilers: not really
Rating: PG13 for kisses and hugs
Beta: I am my own worst beta!
Disclaimer: Joss Whedon and the continuity kings at Mutant Enemy own Giles, Xander and the Scooby Gang.
Feedback: Yes, please! firstname.lastname@example.org
Archive: Written for the Summer of Giles 2014
Summary: Somewhere in an AU future, where everyone lives.
Author’s Note: Happy Birthday to me. And thank you to everyone who helped make this late.
In the end, we all are who we are, no matter how much we may appear to have changed.”
-Rupert Giles, BtVS 7x01 Lessons
Woodhouse Lane, Uplyme, Lyme Regis:
Giles slowed the SUV as the road turned gravelly under the tires but he couldn’t avoid the bumps in the road from jostling the sleeping man in the passenger seat.
With a flail and a snort, Xander woke, looked panicked for a moment, then let his expression turn to bleary eyed and frowning.
“This isn’t Disneyland,” he pouted. Giles refused to consider this adorable for all of five seconds, and then with a quick downshift, he stretched a hand out to cup Xander’s knee.
“No, it’s not,” he confirmed. A quick squeeze, and then both hands were back on the wheel as the road turned abruptly and smoothed out into a better maintained dirt path.
“We’re in the country,” Xander continued to grouse, but with less petulance and more hand on Giles’ shoulder. Without having to think about it, he stroked and soothed an old war wound that had been starting to ache after three hours of driving. “There’s grass, and trees and a clear lack of asphalt.”
“Also a pub, and Wi-Fi and a complete lack of vampires,” Giles replied. He turned his head briefly, pressed a quick kiss to the hand on his shoulder, and then swerved violently when Xander pulled back with a startled “Cow!”
The imminent death by Ruby Red Devon turned out to be two calves gazing dimly at them from behind a sturdy pasture fence, and by the time Xander had stopped gasping and clutching his heart melodramatically, the field and the tiny animals in it were behind them, and the shrubs and grass to either side of the road had started to take on a landscaped feel.
“That’s not what cows look like at Disneyland,” said Xander. “In the Magic Kingdom, they are way smaller, for one thing, and rounder, and mostly covered in cheese and bacon.”
“Xander,” Giles tried to find his patient voice, but discovered he had left it on the plane the first time he had flown to California, to Sunnydale, to Buffy and the Hellmouth and….
Oh, but that was ancient history.
“Xander,” he tried again, “did you really think that two old duffers were going to jump in a Land Rover with nothing more than a wash kit and some Jaffa Cakes and wind up in Disneyland three hours later?”
“It could happen!” Xander replied. “Remember that time Willow tried using Skype with magic—you wound up in Abergavenny!”
“Fair point,” Giles had to concede.
The house came into view, and both men stopped talking as Giles brought the vehicle to a stop in front of a large old farmhouse. They looked up at whitewashed stucco, large windows and what looked like new shingles on a roof with two chimneys, one at either end, bracketing a state of the art satellite dish.
“Farming?” Xander threw Giles a skeptical look.
“Farmhouse,” Giles replied. “It doesn’t necessarily imply farm work, although—“
Xander leaned over as far as his seatbelt would allow and cut off the sentence with a short kiss followed by his hand over Giles’ mouth.
“Old McXander did not have a farm, Rupert. E-I-E-I-No.”
Giles told himself that he wouldn’t smile. Xander had been doing silly things with language for close to four decades now and Giles was determined to show him the error of his ways. So far he had failed spectacularly every time, but with any luck, now he would have years more to work it out.
And that did made him smile. Which made Xander pull his hand away. Which gave Giles the opportunity to return the kiss.
This was a longer press of lips on lips, and Giles reached for Xander’s seatbelt while he ran the other hand through Xander’s shaggy hair, coarser now for the grey strands peppered throughout. His own hair was thinner now, and silver all the way through. He had considered just shaving off what was left, until Xander swore he would do the same. That was the end of that idea.
Xander was slightly breathless when Giles pulled away, but that might have been from the leftover effects of the last fight he’d been in as much as the kiss, and remembering how his lover had fallen under a demon sword, chest open in a way not meant for the living, replaced the warm smile he’d been wearing with a grimmer expression.
Xander rubbed a thumb over the worry line (not the only one these days, thought Giles) between his brows and muttered, for the millionth time “I’m fine.”
“I know,” Giles replied. He pulled his features into something not quite happy but more neutral, at least, and popped the locks on the car. “Come on.”
Without looking back, he climbed out of the car and walked towards the house. He stopped several yards away from the door, but close enough to see the care that had gone into the restoration of the house, and a glance to his right confirmed the existence of two smaller outbuildings and an expansive garden.
Xander’s arms wound around his waist as he snugged up behind him and gave him a quick kiss on the ear.
“Haunted farm house?” he asked.
“Not to my knowledge,” Giles replied.
Another warm kiss on his neck, and he gripped Xander’s forearms tightly, leaning back into his husband with a sigh.
“A few mums in the garden; might be a mantis or two, but mostly cabbage moths and bees, neither ones sentient or murderous.”
A minute or two of silence while Xander’s mouth played over the bits it could reach above the collar of Giles’ shirt, and they both enjoyed the warm embrace. Then soft words whispered so close to his ear that he shivered.
“So what are we doing here, Rupert?”
Giles turned in Xander’s arms, kept them in a loose embrace and replied “Retiring.”
Before Xander could protest (and Giles could see it coming) he continued. “Xander, between the two of us, we have saved millions of lives, dispatched thousands of evil creatures, trained hundreds of Slayers. We have earned this.”
“We’re not old!” Xander exclaimed. Then, softer: “You’re not old.” And suddenly Giles could see the boy he’d first met decades ago in the man he’d loved for nearly as long.
“I never said we were, love,” he murmured, ghosting kisses over Xander’s cheeks, lips and the tip of his nose. “But it occurred to me while you were—how do I put this delicately? While you were bleeding out in my arms six months ago, that we’ve taken lots of chances over the years where we could die—I just want us to take a chance to live.”
Xander manfully didn’t sniffle, much. Or wipe a tear from his eye; Giles did it for him. He did make a thorough inspection of Giles’ mouth with his tongue, and let his lover take the same advantage. And then he looked at the house again.
“There’s a home theater in the lounge,” Giles countered.
Xander pushed Giles towards the front door. “If there’s a butter churn in the kitchen,” he said, “the deal is off.”
An iron scrollwork sign next to the door proclaimed the house to be called “Foxgloves”.
“Nope,” said Xander. Giles gave him a quizzical look as he pulled the sign from the wall in a shower of stucco.
“We’re calling it the happiest place on earth.”
“Noli me renuere, umbra ducens. Sapienta manium super me effundatur.”
-Rupert Giles, BtVS 3x13, The Zeppo