For the 'no pressure'Giles ficathon. Valentine's Day - England/Sunnydale. Prompt - Lost
Pairing: Buffy/Giles (sorta)
Rating: FRT - probably too high, harmless, really.
Summary - Valentine's Day isn't always a good day.
Rupert Giles sat on the bus starring bleakly out of the window at the passing shop displays. Valentines Day. The day for couples, for love. Another reminder that he was alone. He sighed. He wasn’t just alone; he was adrift, lost without reason or purpose. A Watcher with no one to watch since his Slayer was half a world away.
Oh, he was busy enough. That bastard Travers saw to that. Asking him to research some prophecy or to give the Council a report on some demon or other. Requesting that he expand on his journal entries from his early days in Sunnydale. Or having him run an errand such as he was doing now. Normally a new recruit would be doing this type of menial task, but he had been happy enough to leave the closed, stuffy, confines of Watcher headquarters. He could take his time, perhaps stop somewhere and get something to eat.
Gilles glanced at his watch. Just past noon. 4 a.m. in Sunnydale. Buffy should be safely home from patrol by now. Buffy. He closed his eyes and once again the memory of that conversation in the training room played through his mind.
"You have to be strong. I'm, I'm trying to-"
"Trying to, to what? Desert me? Abandon me? Leave me all alone when I really need somebody?"
"I don't want to leave-"
"So don't. Please don't. I can't do this without you."
"You can. That's why I'm going. As long as I stay you'll always turn to me if there's something comes up that you feel that you can't handle, and I'll step in because, because ... Because I can't bear to see you suffer."
"Me too. Hate suffering. Had about as much of it as I can take."
"Believe me, I'm loath to cause you more, but this... I've taught you all I can about being a Slayer, and your mother taught you what you need to know about life. You ... you're not going trust that until you're forced to stand alone."
"But why now? Now that you know where I've been, what I'm going through?"
"Now more than ever. The temptation to give up is going be overwhelming, and I can't let-"
"So I won't! No giving up. You can be here, and I can still be strong."
"Buffy, I've thought this over ... and over. I believe it's the right thing to do."
The sensation of the bus stopping pulled Giles from his thoughts. He checked the address. They were still a few blocks from his destination, but he decided to walk the rest of the way. He rose quickly and got off the bus. Walking had become a new pastime for him. A way to tire himself so he could sleep at night.
Not that it was working. He still woke in the night, reliving the last few days that he was in Sunnydale. Thinking and re-thinking his decision. He usually ended up going out and hunting vampires. There had been some close calls, especially the night before, and he carried many bruises from those encounters.
Giles saw that the next intersection had several people waiting for the light to change. He wasn’t in the mood to be a part of the jostling crowd, so he stopped a few feet back. As he waited for the congestion to clear he glanced in the shop window next to him. The color red filled the display. Cards, boxes of chocolate, coffee mugs, even lingerie. He frowned slightly. In the corner was an exception. One card was different.
Instead of red, it was white. The center of the card had been cut out in the traditional heart shape, but the card behind the cut out was black. There was writing on the black heart. He moved over a bit and peered closer at the card. ‘My Heart is empty without you. Please come home.’
Giles caught his breath and tears stung his eyes. Home. Oh, Buffy, if only.
Giles turned and walked away, thinking about what might have been.
In Sunnydale, Buffy climbed quietly through her bedroom window. She silently crossed the room, going out into the hall to the bathroom. She shut the door and turned on the light. She caught sight of her reflection in the bathroom mirror.
Her blouse was dirty and torn. Her face twisted as she remembered Spike pushing her against the wall of his crypt. Buffy ripped the blouse off and threw it in the trash. Against her will, her eyes were pulled to her reflection again. She wasn’t wearing a bra, Spike had destroyed it, and the bruises and bite marks on her breasts were clearly visible. Also clearly visible were the other bruise marks on her upper torso, along with her ribs.
Buffy looked at the stranger in the mirror. Thin, dirty, bruised. Eyes hollow and filled with despair. Lost. Angrily she flicked off the overhead light and stepped into the shower. With her Slayer vision she didn’t really need the light on. Turning on the water as hot as she could stand, she scrubbed herself over and over, until the hot water gave out. She wrapped a towel around her hair, another around her body, and crossed the hall to her room. Without bothering to put on pajamas, she slid into bed.
The various cuts and scrapes on her skin were stinging, especially the crude heart that Spike had etched between her breasts with his fingernail. A Valentines’ gift he had said. The tears that had refused to fall while she was in the shower now slid down her face. She glanced at the clock.
A little after four. That would make it just past noon in London. She wondered what Giles was doing right then.
Like so many times since that day, the conversation between the two of them played through her mind. She could see his indecision, his desperation. Over and over she changed what she had said, trying to find a way to make him stay, but nothing worked.
Her hand slid under her pillow and touched the card she had hidden there. The card she has seen and bought, but hadn’t had the courage to send. She pulled it out and looked at it in the pale light coming through her window from the street light. A white card with a black heart.
My heart is so empty, so lost, without you. Please come home, Giles, she whispered. Please come home.