Stages of Understanding~Chapter Three
Giles was in a daze, stuck in some sort of limbo. He wasn't fully awake but not fast asleep either. He was aware of a few things, like that he was in a bed, someone was with him and that he was exhausted. Also the persistent noise in the background that seemed to be pulling him to reality. Giles groaned. He sat up slowly and waited for the ringing to stop. It eventually died down but he knew it would start up again shortly. There was only one person who had that number and only because she insisted on him getting the mobile phone.
The British man turned and looked at his companion. He smiled as he looked on the golden locks that was spread across his pillow. He imagined her in his bed so many times and even though nothing intimately happened, simply having her there next to him was far better than fantasy. He leaned down and kissed the top of her head and she stirred slightly but fell back into a comfortable sleep. Giles sighed when he heard the phone ring again. He glanced at the clock which read that it was slightly after one in the morning. They had slept for a good while and seeing that it would be around nine in the morning in England, it was no wonder why he suddenly felt wide awake.
Giles got up and walked over to his suitcase that he brought up after Buffy had fallen asleep. He reached in the one pocket and pulled out the mobile phone. It was still ringing and he glanced back at the sleeping women and noticed that she had not stirred. He opened the small flip-phone and headed down the stairs into the living room quickly. He assumed that Buffy wasn't getting much sleep and he didn't want to wake her if she had finally fallen into a deep sleep.
“Hello?” His voice was soft and gentle. His stomach dropped slightly. He suddenly realized who he would be talking to and that he would have to explain why he wasn't in England. It wasn't that he dreaded explaining that Buffy was alive but the reaction that would be received. He knew that things needed to be explained about how she was alive, and he didn't have the time to dig deep into that yet. He was too busy basking in the fact that he was in his slayers presence again. While in the back of his mind he knew he needed to take Willow aside and set things straight, Buffy came first.
“Rupert, love, I called the museum to see if you were in and they told me you were taking a sabbatical of sorts. Is that code for something? As in your not going back to that dreadful excuse for employment? I spoke with your supervisor and he seemed rather put out about your sudden disappearance. As am I by the way, why didn't you discuss it with me? You could have come and stayed with me and got out of London. Oh, which is the reason I called you. I'm going to be in the city and wanted to know if you wanted to have a late lunch?” Giles smiled and sighed. While he may sometimes dread speaking with her, it always ended with a small smile on his face.
“Hello Aunt Georgina, I am well. Thank you for asking.” He spoke and a wider smile on his face. He suddenly realized that he was much like his aunt. There was a time when Buffy spoke similar words to him many years ago. A time when things were complicated but not like this. He was worried about her, as he was now, but for a vastly different reason. It occurred to him that it was almost a mirror image of the situation now, only that it would be Angel who had been resurrected and not Buffy.
“Oh shush and just answer my question.” Georgina stated and Giles could tell that she had a smile on her face. Georgina Giles-Davenport and Giles had always been close to each other, both emotionally and in age. While she was his aunt, they were only three years apart, Georgina being the elder. She had been a late surprise for her parents and Giles's grandparents. While Giles had always been more of a student for his father than a son, Georgina had been the apple of her brother's eye.
“Which one? You asked several.” He teased. He had always been the instigator in their relationship. Georgina had always been strict and when they were younger Giles had always found that bothersome. As he got older his aunt began to influence him more and more. After his years rebelling in London, he enjoyed the quiet that Georgina gave. He always thought that they were two sides of a coin. They were the same in many ways but different in others. As he got older and matured they grew far more similar but Giles hoped he never became as strict and as opposing as she is. He loved her but even he got frustrated in, what his slayer would say, was a stuffy and very English women. Georgina was very set in her ways.
“Rupert, we may be close in age but I'm still older and am very able to take you across my knee.” Georgina stated but behind the irritation, he could hear her fondness for him. Giles leaned against the wall of his apartment and looked around. He almost forgot that he was in Sunnydale. Talking to his aunt always made him feel better. His thoughts flashed to those early days just after his slayer died. It was Georgina who took care of him and let him cry. He stayed at her small house and rarely left the guest room for a few weeks until he was able to get on his feet. If it wasn't for her, Giles believed he wouldn't have been able to survive those days. Georgina had lost her husband in a very violent way and she could understand how he felt. She could help him deal but she knew he would never heal completely because she never could herself.
“Yes Aunt Georige.”
“Don't call me that.” She snapped and Giles laughed. He heard his aunt suck in a breath and then it got very silent and he realized that it was the first time he really laughed in a long time. Granted he knew that Buffy was suffering and that it would take a good while before she was her normal self again and a good amount of work but she was alive. That alone was good enough to bring a smile to his face. “Rupert, you sound elated.”
“Yes, well, I'm not in London.” He was being evasive. While Giles knew that she wouldn't be angry with him, he was nervous. He was more nervous than he had been all those years ago when he showed up on her and her late husband's doorstep after coming down from his magic high and Randell's death. They hadn't talked during most of his rebellion because Georgina did not approve of his use of magic and Giles was too stubborn to let her help him until it was too late. She of course welcomed him with open arms and allowed him to stay with him while he recuperated. Her husband, Micheal Davenport who was a watcher helped him rejoin the council and to back into Oxford.
“No lunch then. That’s fine. You should come out this weekend to the country. I don't like what London is doing to you. You work to much. It's not healthy. Where are you? Bath? You always loved Bath.” Giles didn't answer right away. He was stalling but he knew Georgina would get it out of him eventually. She always did and it was useless to try and hide anything from her. Besides, when he was recovering from Randell's death and his abuse of the magics, she was the one to help him. She understood magic far better than he ever could and he believed that she could possibly help Buffy. If not her, then maybe the coven she practiced with. It was an epiphany of sorts. Giles pushed off the off-white wall and paced slightly. He took a moment before he answered.
“I'm not in Bath.” He paused again. He waited for Georgina to say something but when she didn't, he plunged on. “I'm in Sunnydale.” That did it. She sucked in a breath. He knew she wouldn't jump to the right conclusion. It didn't take long before she spoke and it was more of shock than outrage but that would come soon enough.
“California! What on earth are you doing in California?” Her voice had gone slightly high pitched. It even squeaked a little. He could understand her surprise when he told her that visiting Sunnydale was not happening in the near future. She suggested that perhaps down the road it would be good for him, to help the healing process but if Buffy was still dead, he would be in no shape to head back there now.
“Buffy's alive.” He let that little gem set for a moment. However, he didn't get the response he was expecting. He heard Georgina take a deep breath and he knew she was collecting her thoughts. When she finally spoke, her voice was gentle and soothing. It was almost maternal. If she ever had decided in the past to have children, she would have made a great mother.
“Rupert, sweetheart, you told me everything of Buffy's death. There is no possible way for her to be alive. I know you are grieving. When Micheal died, there were so many times when I thought I saw him but-” Giles cut her off with an impatient huff.
“I'm not seeing her as an act of sorrow. Trust me, I've seen her around London almost every day. This is different. I got a call from Willow.” He paused. He knew this would set Georgina off in a fury. If there was one thing his aunt hated, it was the misuse of magic. She always walked the straight and narrow but learned from Giles's mistakes. “Willow is Buffy's good friend, the one we discussed. She returned Angel's soul?” Georgina replied that she remembered and then grew silent. He could hear the wheels turning in her head. “She did a spell. A resurrection spell.”
“Are you telling me that this, young inexperienced, foolish and insolent witch brought Buffy back from the dead? I know you said she had power but you didn't tell me that she lacked the mentalities to use such power.” Her voice was low and dangerous. In that moment he was thankful he was across the globe and away from her. A furious Georgina was not a thing that he liked to behold.
“Willow is very intelligent.” Giles defended.
“Intelligence does not equal common sense. You should know that better than anyone.” She snapped and he winced but she was far to angry to apologize. “Does she not realize the damage she could have done? That might still be done? Magic like that does not come without a price. Something will have to, if it already hasn't, be paid. Not to mention the damage that might have been done to Buffy. This girl isn't the first to do a resurrection spell. Those brought back from the dead either go demented and take more lives or take their own. It's a major transition and most would not be able to deal with it.” She paused and took a deep breath. “How is she? Buffy I mean.”
Giles didn't answer right away. He glanced up the stairs and noticed that there was no movement. He sighed. He didn't know what to say or how to say it. Buffy wasn't herself or at least not the Buffy he knew and loved. He still loved her with everything he had and he knew that behind the grief and misery, she was still in there. He just didn't know how to pull her out and he knew that it wasn't going to simply go away like Willow and Xander assumed. He just needed to help her.
“She is....different. I can still see my Buffy in there but its buried behind this wall of emotions. I would say she is depressed but its more than that.” He paused. Giles took a deep breath and Georgina didn't say anything. She waited. While she never dealt with anyone who has been resurrected she knew that there must be a deep pile of damage that would have to be sorted through. “She was in heaven. They ripped her out of heaven.”
“I see! I see! Is that all you're going to say?” Giles snapped. When he told her he assumed that his aunt would be able to pull some answer or solution out of thin air. She did it before. She helped him through the most difficult times in his life but now she was just giving him two simple words. Words that wouldn't help the women he loved.
“What do you want of me Rupert?” Georgina snapped back. While she felt for the girl and she knew how much her nephew loved her, she didn't understand what could be done. In all her years, this is one thing she never faced. She has never known anyone who has come back from the dead so long after passing. She has heard stories of course and they never ended well.
“Help her. Please.” It was pleading. Giles wasn't one to ask for help. He was someone who would try and figure something out, only asking for help as the last viable option. If he was asking for help now, Georgina knew that the cause was great. “Please, I can't lose her. Not again. Not like this. I just got her back and if I lost her.......Aunt Georgie, it would kill me.” His voice broke and he slid down the side of the wall because his knees gave out. It nearly shattered her heart. Giles was the last of her family and she loved him dearly. She was never one who could turn him away, even if there was little she could do.
“Let me....let me make a few calls. I will call the Coven and ask around. If anyone would know something about resurrections it would be the Coven.” Her voice was heavy and distant. He knew that it was because her mind was at work. His aunt was a brilliant women and had many friends in places that Giles wouldn't even think to look. Most of his friends who he would think of asking where shady and lived in the less than stellar areas of London. He would stoop low enough to ask them if his aunt wasn't able to pull through but he wondered if they cause more harm than good.
“Okay, call me if you know anything.” His voice was low. Yet, there was something sounded like relief behind his words. He knew that it was foolish but he couldn't help but hope. Now that he had Buffy back. He couldn't even think about losing her again. Georgina replied saying that she would try but couldn't make any promises. He understood that but it was still a chance. They hung up the phone and Giles stayed on the ground for a little longer. Suddenly, he was exhausted.
He pulled himself up and walked toward the stairs. He took each one slowly. He pushed open the small door that led to his bedroom. He saw the one person in the world that meant the most to him lying in his bed. Giles sat down and pushed a strand of hair out of her face. He studied her and saw the frightened look on her face. She whimpered slightly and Giles laid down beside her. He took her into his arms and whispered in her ear.
“I'm here. Shhh, it's just a dream.” Buffy relaxed slightly when she leaned into his chest. She buried her head into his neck. Giles closed his eyes and easily drifted off to sleep. He dreamed like he always did but this dream was different. Buffy was alive and smiling at him. In dreams before, when he would dream that she was alive, she was out of reach. He could see her but couldn't speak to her. She simply stared back at him with empty eyes. However, in this dream she was more than alive. Dream Buffy held out her hand and Giles took it. She moved closer to him and brought his hand to her lips. She kissed them gently but her blue eyes never left his. Giles realized that he had never seen her eyes so clearly. He leaned in and brought her lips.....
Giles woke up and noticed that the sun was shining through the window. He reached over, already used to Buffy sleeping next to him, and noticed that the side of the bed was empty. His heart dropped and for a moment thought that the night before had been nothing more than a dream. It wasn't until he put his glasses on that realized that he was in his bedroom back in Sunnydale and then he heard a noise down in the kitchen. Giles jumped out of bed and ran barefoot down the stairs. There in his small kitchenette was Buffy. She as moving around comfortably and he just stood back and watched her. It was like he was back in the magic box again, realizing that she was indeed alive and that this all wasn't just some dream.
“Giles?” He jumped started when he saw Buffy looking at him. She came around the archway and into the small living area near the stairs. She stood close to him and Giles placed a hand on her shoulder. He felt this overwhelming need to touch her. Slowly he drew her into a small embrace. They stood like that for several moments before Buffy was able to pull away. “I made breakfast. I wasn't sure if you had eaten anything since your flight.”
“No. I haven’t eaten anything since Willow's phone call.” He admitted and realized that he was indeed hungry. Buffy smiled and took his hand. She led him to the bar and he sat down while she walked back around toward the stove. She opened the oven door and pulled out a small stack of pancakes as well as some bacon. He looked over her shoulder and saw a few shopping bags on the counter from the small grocer around the corner. “You left?” Buffy looked toward the bags and gave him a small smile.
“Yes. I couldn't sleep after awhile and got the munchies. You had nothing editable here and you looked like you weren't going to be up for awhile.” Buffy placed a few pancakes on his plate and topped them with some fresh fruit and whipped cream that she had also gotten from the store. She handed him his plate and told him to 'eat up' while she got a much smaller plate for herself. She picked up her plate and walked around the counter and through the archway and sat down next to Giles. When she sat down next to him, he realized that she wasn't wearing the same clothes as the night before. She was in a pair of lose sweat pants and one of his smaller shirts that he jogged in. It had the word 'Oxford' written across it and Giles believed he left it there when he ran from Sunnydale. She was also freshly showered by fact that her hair seemed to be wet. Buffy blushed when she noticed that she was eyeing her attire. “Yeah...my clothes where getting uncomfortable and these were here and they are well, Giles-y. Plus I felt the need to shower. I hope you don't mind.”
“No. Not at all.” Giles wouldn't admit how much he enjoyed seeing her in his clothes. Just the thought of her smell on his clothing made his pants tighter. He shifted uncomfortably and looked down. The last thing he needed was for Buffy to see him aroused when he just got her back. He needed to take his time and wait until she was ready. He knew she needed him but he would let her come to him because if he pushed and she wasn't ready......his aunts words rung in his mind. He couldn't lose her again. Just the thought made any type of arousal deflate. “Speaking of which. I need to bathe and change. I've spent to much time in these clothes and sleeping in them did me no wonders.” With that Buffy gave a little chuckle. Giles finished his food and stood. He leaned in and kissed the top of her head. He let his hands linger before pulling away. He walked toward the stairs but stopped when he heard Buffy's voice.
“Hey Giles?” He turned and made that 'hmm' noise to indicate he was listening. Buffy smiled at the familiar gesture. Buffy stood and Giles smiled at the sight of his pants rolled up to her knees. “I remember waking up briefly hearing your voice but you weren't in bed.” She felt foolish dancing around the question but she wanted to know where he went. She liked having him near by and wondered what would have taken him from bed.
“Yes. My aunt called. She wondered where I was.” He answered simply and Buffy nodded. They had spoken about his aunt before in a past life. She didn't know much about her only that he was very fond of her. Buffy realized in that moment that her watcher rarely ever talked about himself. Buffy vowed, that when things were clearer, that she would get him to speak more about himself. “She wanted to met for lunch but I told her that it wouldn't have been possible seeing as I was not in the same country as her.”
“You didn't tell her before you left?” Buffy questioned. That seemed like a very un-Giles like thing to do. He was always one to be prepared and wouldn't leave the country without letting someone he was close to know that he was leaving. She wondered if she should feel flattered or worried. The only time in her memory that she could recall that Giles had lost any sense of responsibility was when the demon he raised in his youth paid them a visit.
“No. I was far to concerned with getting to Sunnydale to deal with telling my aunt.” He paused before speaking again. “She didn't take the news particularly well.” Buffy looked down at her hands and sighed. She bit her lip and seeing her hurt expression. Giles walked toward her. He wondered how she was feeling. Was she hurt that his aunt would not be glad with her return? Then was she confused because she didn't want to be back at all? Why should she care if a women in England who she never met is happy she is alive? The answer was simple. It mattered to Giles. “Buffy, it's not what you are thinking. Aunt Georgina is simply worried. She has a long history with magic and knows that some things should never be tempted and a resurrection is one of those things. What brought you back is powerful dark magic and she believes that it might have caused you harm.” Giles paused before continuing. “She wants to help you Buffy.”
“Help me? How can she help me?”
“She knows a powerful coven in Devon. She is going to make a few calls and find out what she can. Your situation is unique and well, there have only been a handful of people who have come back from the dead.” Giles was shocked when Buffy's head snapped up. She opened her mouth to say something but closed it and shook her head, apparently changing her mind. “What is it Buffy?”
“It's nothing. Just a fleeting idea but a bad one. Plus I don't want him involved.” Giles looked at her and Buffy knew she wasn't going to get out of it so she decided to express her thoughts. “Angel. He called and I remembered that he was brought back once. I thought he could help but....I really don't want to ask him. He is of the past. Another life. If I'm going to do this right, I don't want him in this life.” The thought brought a smile to Giles's face. He hated that vampire and never really forgave him for the hours of torture he suffered at his hands. Not to mention Jenny's death. The idea that Buffy wanted nothing to do with him was pleasing.
“I agree that involving Angel would not be wise. The situations are vastly different. He was in Hell, you were not. What he went through and what you are going through are night and day. He would cause more harm than good.” Buffy smiled and leaned into him. She inhaled his scent and felt safe. She knew that he was pleased with her decision but would never admit it. “Now, I am going to take that shower and then we can head to your house. Does that sound pleasing?” Buffy nodded and Giles pulled away. He headed for his stairs, in hopes of grabbing some clothes for his shower but was stopped once again when Buffy spoke.
“When your aunt calls, will you let me know?”
“Of course. I would never make a decision without consulting you first. This is your life Buffy and your second chance. I would never force you into something you didn't want to do.” Giles knew the subtext of his words and wondered if Buffy did too. It was true, he would never push her into anything that she didn't want. Even if that meant that he never got the chance to be with her and had to watch her from the sidelines.
“Thank you.” Buffy smiled gently at him.
“Oh, and Buffy, please clean up my kitchen. I would not like to be stuck with the clean up like the last time you decided to cook in my kitchen.” Giles stated with a small grin. He hoped to lighten the mood slightly. It worked. Buffy laughed lightly and Giles marveled in the sound. There in front of him was the old Buffy shining through. She was in there and Giles vowed that if it was the last thing he did on this earth, he would unearth the women he loved so deeply.
Once his shower was finished and Giles felt clean again. He dressed in some fresh clothing. He went to the sink and brushed his teeth. He caught his reflection in the mirror and smiled. He let out a laugh. He stared at himself and for the first time he noticed how tired he looked. The last few months had been trying and he realized suddenly at how miserable he had been. The almost two days that had past since Willow's phone call had been like seeing the sun for the first time in years. While it was exhausting and worrisome. He had hope again and he had a reason to live again. He had a reason to love again. She was alive. It fully hit him. His Buffy was alive and if he walked through that door, he would see her again.
Yet, Giles was no fool. He knew the next few months were going to be difficult but he would stop at nothing to help her. If his aunt couldn't find anything to help her he would dig up every contact he had even those he had no desire to ever see again. He would cash in favor after favor to find some answer. Hell, he would even call Riley and ask to have Ethan removed from that facility if his old friend was willing to help Buffy. Granted he knew that the chance of Ethan running was without the chance of helping was high. Then if all else failed, he would go against his better judgment and ask Angel for help. He told Buffy otherwise, and he greatly believed that Angel would be no more help than Ethan but if it was a last ditch effort, he would take it.
Giles turned and looked at the door. He opened and walked calmly through it even though he felt anything but calm. When he looked around the small flat he saw Buffy curled up on his couch. He glanced in the kitchen and saw that it was spotless. While he was happy to see it clean, his Buffy would have put the food away but left the dishes in the sink. He expected it to be like the Thanksgiving dinner all over again. Suddenly he wished his sink was full of dirty dishes.
He walked over to his old couch and sat down. Buffy instinctively moved and laid her head against his shoulder. Giles moved his arms so she was nestled into his side and he could hold her. He just sat there for a moment looking at the empty fireplace. He placed his hand on her shoulder and traced small circles with his thumb. Buffy shuddered slightly but basked in the affection. Her watcher had always been affectionate but never like this. He felt more like a boyfriend than a mentor and she wanted nothing more than that. However, she was too fragile to take it any further than that. She would leave their relationship undefined until her thoughts were clearer.
Buffy looked up at him and gave him a small smile. He returned in kind and leaned in to kiss the top of her head. It was moments like this that caused the anxiety that Giles had felt earlier that morning while on the phone with his aunt to settle. He let himself fall into the fantasy for a few moments. While a good portion of his fantasies were adult rated, there were some that were more appropriate for child audiences. He imagined what it would be like to hold her in his arms, not only as a lover but something more personal and something more domestic. He thought back to their shared Thanksgiving with fondness, not because of the meal but because how they moved in the kitchen. Even though they had bickered and teased, it felt like the most natural thing in the world. He wanted that life. One where he woke up everyday with her by his side.
“Hmm?” Buffy smiled at the sound. She knew that he only did that when he was either absorbed in some book or if he was content. See that there was no book in sight she knew that it was the latter. He was happy to be with her and that a small bubble of happiness that she hadn't felt in a long time. She didn't want to ruin the soft moment but she needed some type of answers. She wasn't sure if Giles would have the answers but she had to ask.
“Do you think I will ever be able to forgive them? Xander and Willow I mean.” He sighed and pulled his glasses off. He was silent as he cleaned them. It made Buffy nerves and she didn't like the silence. She pulled away and sat up. She crossed her legs in the Indian style fashion. She had that determined look on her face that used to worry Giles. It was that look when she got some hair-brained scheme up her sleeve. He knew that she wasn't going to drop this subject anytime soon. “I mean, I know they were trying to help but somethings need to be left alone, ya know? I was fine and happy and you can't tell me that there isn't some type of spell out there to let them know that I was in Heaven? I mean, if Willow can pull me from being six feet under I'm damn well sure that she could do some sort of seance?” At this point Buffy pulled herself from the sofa and began pacing back and forth in front of a still sitting Giles. “I mean, what was she thinking!? Wait I know. NOTHING! She was too busy focusing on her pain to really think that I might be somewhere good. To busy thinking about herself to think that I might be with my mother!” With that Buffy froze. Her body seized up and Giles knew that she was about to cry again.
Giles stood quickly and stepped over to her just as her legs were about to give out. He caught her and held her to him. Giles felt her shake and sob and heave. His heart broke as he heard her. He hated to see her cry. He had seen her cry so many times and each time he had been there for her. Yet this was different. Before he knew that Buffy was strong enough to recover but this was different. These tears were far worse than the tears she cried when her mother died. These tears showed how broken she truly was. He held her tightly and prayed for his phone to ring. Yet the flat was silent except for his slayers tears. It was a few minuets before she calmed down. When Giles felt her tears start to subside, he gently led her back to the sofa and they sat down. Buffy leaned back into his arms and he began rubbing small comforting circles on her arm.
“I know it doesn't feel like it but this is good Buffy.” He whispered in her ear. “The emotions you are feeling can not be bottled up like they have been the last few days. I'm not saying you need to come clean right away but it will have to be done. That is the only way you can put this anger aside.” He didn't know if his words were true but he felt that they were. He wanted nothing more than to help her. She needed a rock to lean on. Someone for her to confide in. If he had to be that person he was more than happy to step up to the plate and guide her. The only problem was that he was guiding her blind. She was lost in the dark and Giles had no light to help guide her out. He only hoped that some one out there could hand him a flashlight so he didn't guide her father into the darkness.