Title: Morning Glory
Characters Buffy/Giles. Post Chosen. Giles has a new life. Buffy won't let go.
Companion pieces (Chronology unclear. Please arrange in any order that works for you) Keeping in Touch : Barricades : Spread My Wings : All At Sea : Relative Pin : Telling : Partial Derailment : Push and Pull
Giles woke from a surprisingly heavy sleep and reached for his glasses automatically. There was gentle female snoring to his side and he reflected that for a man that had lived alone most of his life, he always slept remarkably well with company in his bed. He opened his eyes and remembered that he wasn’t actually in his own bed but Buffy’s, and technically as they lay in a hotel suite, it wsn't even her bed. He looked around the room with a yawn. The hotel drapes were the heavy set kind that gave no clues as to the relative position of the sun and he couldn’t remember what he’d done with his watch. He shifted his position carefully and saw Buffy was curled over one arm and breathing with a slightest of whistles. As he had no idea as to the time of day, he decided not to disturb her, and slipped quietly from the duvet. She didn’t stir at the motion of the mattress so Giles carefully unhooked one of the white towelling robes from the door and made off to investigate the rest of her suite. He found his clothes in a heap on the floor near the couch and retrieved his watch from the coffee table. It was just shy of seven in the morning.
He used the bathroom and washed his face and arms. The robe was designed for someone about a foot shorter than he was which didn't help his modesty. He pulled it across his chest as best he could and returned to the living area. He thought about re-dressing in his clothes from the previous night. He thought seriously about whether he should just leave and go home. Did she want him to stay? He’d missed his lift back the previous night, so staying with her had been the practical solution but perhaps he’d just be in the way today? He wondered how much attention he would draw in his filthy evening dress and what time the trains started up on a Saturday in London. As he checked his jacket pocket he found his mobile phone had one message. It was from Ethan.
How did the posh works do go? Did you get drunk? Did you get laid? Enquiring minds want to know.
Giles smiled and keyed in a response.
Very dull. Lot of academics and some military brass. No-one so much as spiked the punch, so not your sort of thing at all.
He raked the curtains across their heavy metallic pole to find Buffy’s suite had a rather impressive view across the Thames. The sun was sparkling on the water and polishing the familiar landmarks for the benefit of the tourists. Two policemen were walking a lazy patrol; one had his thumbs in his stab vest whilst his partner was laughing at something he’d said. Giles’ phone rang and he jumped to answer it quickly.
“You didn't come home last night, you dog.” Ethan’s rich voice warmed his ear.
“And how do you know that?”
Ethan affected a hurt voice. “I can't wait up? I can't worry?”
The bedroom door opened and Buffy appeared in tee-shirt and panties. She smiled at him and Giles gripped the phone rather guiltily.
“Actually old man,” Ethan said, as Giles pushed the phone closer to his ear so Buffy couldn’t make out who was calling. “I keep a locator spell open on you when you're not under the mystical protection of ancient academia. London is a dangerous place, as we both know. It's a city that can turn a boy’s head.” He paused for effect. “How's yours this morning?”
“Just a minute,” Giles stammered and held the phone to his heart by way of muting it. Buffy eyed him in curiosity for a moment, but then shrugged and gestured to the shower. Giles nodded his understanding and waited for her to close the bathroom door.
“Now is not really a good time,” he whispered to the phone.
Ethan’s voice switched from his customary purr to concern. “Is everything OK? You're not in chokey or anything are you?”
Giles snorted. “One where they let you keep your phone?” he mocked.
He heard the water in the shower start up. Giles sat on the couch and looked at the view outside again. “No. I'm fine. I just stayed over in town for the night that's all.”
Ethan was ecstatic. “You did get laid!”
“No actually, no.” Giles adjusted the dressing gown but it still wasn’t a good fit on a man his height. “It really wasn't that sort of night,” he added truthfully.
There was a long pause before Ethan spoke again. “You would tell me if you weren't OK wouldn't you?”
“Would you tell me if you weren't alone?” he asked slyly.
Ethan chuckled darkly “Be safe Rupert. Or if you can't be safe, be wild and glorious.”
“Yeah. You too. Be seeing you.”
Giles put the phone down and wondered if he was expected to join Buffy in the shower. He’d never been anywhere with her other than his own house, and even though it was a hotel, it was still her place. He didn’t know the rules. He didn’t know what was expected of him. A knock at the door saved him from having to make a fool of himself - if she had ordered breakfast to the room, then her plans did not involve anything physical that early in the day. He tightened the knot of his robe self-consciously and opened the door. It was not room service: to his alarm, it was the boyfriend.
“Captain Appleby,” Giles managed to say, deeply conscious of the compromising position he was in. That he remembered the name of Buffy’s young soldier would be no consolation if this young soldier wanted to object to what the hell he was doing in Buffy’s room wearing nothing but an ill-fitting bathrobe. There were limits to the social niceties after all.
“Dr Giles.” The young man replied with a smile that seemed to border on a smirk. He was wearing civilian clothes and carrying a plastic sheet parcel that looked like it had its origins from a drycleaners. “Is Buffy in?”
“No,” Giles realised the idiocy of his denial immediately. “Yes, but she’s in the shower.” He added, and realised that maybe that wasn’t the best thing to say in his barely dressed circumstances. Like a bad farce, the door of the bathroom opened and Giles prayed to every deity he’d ever read about that Buffy wasn’t naked. She was humming happily to herself and Giles stole a cautious glance: she had dressed in pink jeans and white tee-shirt. Proof perhaps there was a deity of some description after all.
“Hey, Ryan,” she said, greeting her visitor in a remarkably casual tone. “Come to trade?”
“Yes please.” He tossed the parcel he was carrying to Giles. “Buffy asked me to do the personal shopper thing,” he added, grinning amiably. “Though actually I didn’t have time so I raided Stores instead, but they should fit you.”
Giles was perplexed.
“You can’t wear a tux on a Saturday morning,” Buffy added in explanation. “Especially not one in that state.”
“Oh.” She’d made plans at some point then. Plans to get him a change of clothes. Maybe plans to get him a train ticket home too? Giles looked from Appleby to Buffy and decided sadly he was surplus to requirements.
“Have you got my mess jacket?” Appleby asked.
“Sure.” Buffy darted to the floor where she’d dropped the official dress uniform of an Officer of Her Majesty’s elite forces, the night before. It was torn, grimy and smelt of turnips and off-milk. It was a garment that was never going to meet the Queen again. Appleby stared at it for a moment.
“Did you two not have time to set fire to it as well?” he deadpanned.
Giles waved his parcel in thanks and took the opportunity to escape to the bedroom and leave them to it. He shut the door to give them all some privacy. Buffy’s world was so different to the one he’d known and her personal life was really none of his business. He dressed and found the clothes were a good fit if a little heavy on the khaki theme. The trousers were a comfortable length and though the officer rank shirt had loops on the shoulders for epaulettes, it was largely passable as civilian and of a good quality material. He buttoned the cuffs and looked in the mirror in some shock. In the seventies there had been a trend for customising army surplus as a protest against the military and the Cold War and he’d gleefully bought a West German army shirt from a market stall, and had ripped the sleeves and added various mod and CND badges. As a young man, he’d been ridiculously proud of that shirt and its gesture to society, and now he was older and wearing the same thing as part of the Establishment. He felt a little uneasy at that thought.
He tidied the bedroom for something to do: pulling back the bedding and drawing open the curtains. He found the suite came with a small balcony so he unlocked the catch and stepped out. The sun didn’t reach that side of the building in the morning and the air was cold. Giles leaned on the small metal balcony guard where it promptly froze his hands. His father had thought his army shirt disrespectful but he’d practically slept in the thing just to spite him. In fact, when he’d dropped out of the Council and gone to London, he had slept in it. Those were the days when he was truly wild and glorious; when the only consequences seemed to amount to his own death, not the death of other people.
Buffy came near the windows and cleared her throat tentatively.
He had a memory of Ethan borrowing his shirt and he hadn’t minded. They’d shared everything back then. He’d probably never gotten it back though…
“What are you doing out there?” she asked gently.
He gripped the balcony rail and stared out to the river. “I just thought I should give you two some privacy. Or do you want me to go for a walk?”
“No, Ryan’s already gone. His team are shipping out to Germany this morning. There’s ‘something nasty in the Bavarian woodsheds’ apparently.”
He nodded but still took more of an interest in the Thames. There was an early jogger on the Southbank and a barge owner was opening up his door for fresh air. They at least were sights that hadn’t changed in thirty years.
“Giles?” Buffy had said his name almost as a snap and he turned to see her still wet hair fall over her shoulders. “It’s getting cold in here,” she softened. “Why don’t you come inside and we can close the French doors?”
He did as he was bid. Buffy locked the catch firmly as he sat on the bed, then she inspected him in his borrowed persona.
“From roughed up James Bond to sexpot GI Joe,” she said warmly. He just grunted in reply. Girls and uniforms…Appleby was a perfect match for her. She was looking at him now though in a different way. She looked concerned for some reason. “What’s the matter?” she asked.
He recognised he was being churlish in ignoring her, so he made the effort.
“I’m fine. I’m sorry he had to go so soon. Should I offer to pay for the damage to his mess jacket?”
“Nah, I don’t think so.” She grinned in that slightly foxy way she had and added conspiratorially, “You should have seen what I did to his tank.” Giles thought he probably didn’t want to. She sat on the bed next to him. “I like the shirt. The color suits you.”
“I can’t go back,” he said, his voice all of a rush. “I can’t do this.”
She reached for his hand and he didn’t fight it. “What? Can’t do what? Giles, what’s wrong? Talk to me.”
“This. All of this. You can dress me up as a soldier but it doesn’t mean I can be one.”
“What?” She looked at him like he was crazy. “No-one is suggesting anything like that…”
It was a crazy thing to say and he knew it. He needed to explain it better.
“I don’t mean a real soldier. I mean I can’t be a Watcher again. Last night hasn’t changed that, if anything it has confirmed it.”
“Whoa. Where’s this coming from? These are just clothes. Breathe, Giles.”
“I am breathing and I’m telling you I can't be a Watcher again. I know I went back to it before, after Eyghon, but that was different. I didn't have anything else, and I think, deep down, I only did it to make my parents happy.” He pulled at the top buttons on the shirt irrationally, he wanted to pop the stitching but it was too well made. “And I don’t have that now.”
“Alright, it’s OK.” Buffy reached for his hands to stop him. Her skin was soft despite the power it hid. She rubbed a thumb over his tense knuckle. “I understand. No going back. These are just clothes, they don’t mean anything.”
“But are you disappointed with me?” The words escaped before he could stop them. He didn’t want to force the issue and yet he had.
“Of course not.”
“It's what you want isn't it? Everyone back on the team. That’s why you’re here.”
She put her head to one side. “That’s not why I’m here. I don't want anything that is going to hurt you. I know I can't rewind the clock. You have a new life that’s relatively safe, and that’s what I want for you. No-one is enlisting you back into the fight here.”
She looked so earnest he felt guilty. “Sorry. I’m being stupid aren’t I?”
“Not really. I’m glad you’re telling me this. I’ve had a lot of conversations without you. This is good. After breakfast, why don't we go shopping and get you something else to wear? Something you pick yourself, however gross,” she teased.
“Aren't you going to Germany?” he asked.
“No, that’s strictly a NATO nature ramble. It’s nothing to do with me.”
“But what about your soldier?”
“He's going but…oh I see. Giles,” and again she looked so earnestly at him it hurt. “Ryan is a soldier, but he’s not my soldier.”
He didn't understand. “But don’t you have somewhere else to be? You are the Slayer.”
“Not today. Today I'm all yours. Whatever you want to do.”
He crumbled, but in a good way. “I’m sorry. These are just clothes, you’re right and I am being stupid. You wouldn’t want a Watcher that panics in the face of beige anyway.” She beamed and he smiled shyly back.
“It’s nice to hear you make jokes about it. I’ve missed that more than I can tell you.”
He rolled up the sleeves untidily so it looked less formal.
“Better?” he asked.
She nodded and, surprisingly, leaned forward and kissed him on the forehead.
“Let me finish my hair and then we’ll get some breakfast. After that, we’ll do anything you want to. Deal?”
Giles nodded at her bright energy and even grinned back, but privately he knew he had absolutely no idea what he wanted to do next.