Characters: Buffy Summers/Rupert Giles
Original Title: Dragon Bones and Dragon's Reverie
Title, Author and URL of original story: Dragon Bones and Dragon's Reverie, by Antennapedia. It can be found at http://antennapedia.com/
Summary: Buffy and Giles go searching for a weapon, and have a heart to heart.
Pairing: Heading towards Giles/Buffy.
Spoilers: I'll just go ahead and say up until "The Gift" in Season Five, even though it's not quite at that spot.
I stand there, staring at the desert through my yellow sunglasses, just drinking in the colors. It surprises me that I'm finding it beautiful. I mean, the desert has always represented death to me (especially after that freaking dream that the four of us shared last year), but standing here, looking at the waves of sand caused by the wind, seeing the reds that give way to yellows, that turn into different shades of brown? It's gorgeous. Completely gorgeous. On the way here, Giles pulled over and let me sit in the wildflowers by the highway, and let the blues, greens, purples, reds, oranges and yellows wash over me. It was amazing to me that flowers were growing in this dead place. But I couldn't enjoy it. Oh, not because of Giles. He was great. But I knew as well as he did that the faster that we got here, the better.
And don't bother asking me where "here" is, because I don't have a clue. The only thing I know is that we're somwhere in Death Valley. And by the way? Even at oh god o'clock, in April, Death Valley is hot. Like, really hot. But if we get the sword, it'll be worth it. In one of Giles' books, Willow found a reference to a sword that does all kinds of nifty stuff, including kill hellgods. The catch is, it's in the middle of the desert. In a dragon's corpse. Well, a long gone dragon corpse that's now nothing but bones. With a spell over it to keep people from seeing it.
Giles interrupts my thoughts by pointing. "Can you see it?" I follow his finger, and grip his arm in a death grip. It's it. It has to be it. We've finally found the spot where a Slayer died, and her watcher cast the spell guarding her resting spot. (This is why you don't piss off a Watcher who's sleeping with his Slayer. They cause whole places to disappear off the maps.) We can see it now because of that true-seeing spell thing that Giles did on us this morning at 3. Giles winces, and I let go of him, telling him I'm sorry with my eyes. Slayer don't know her own strength. If he had a cookie for every time I've said that, he'd have a lot of cookies.
We keep walking wordlessly, and pass through the spot where the desert stops shimmering, and instead glitters, and then we see it. Like, really see it. Big huge bones that have dried in the sun and wind, and been cleaned by sand and age. Bigger than my house, really. I respect the Slayer that took it down, knowing that it would be her death. I can identify with that. Something that a Slayer shares with other Slayers. No matter how different we are, and we're plenty different, we know what it's like to go into a fight, knowing that we're going to die. And if they're lucky, like me, they keep walking away from them. (Thank you, Xander. I owe you my life, many times over. I do see it, even if I act like I don't.)
The Watcher/sorcerer had slapped a geas on his lover's sword. Only the heartsick lover, only those who had unrequited love with they're true love untouched, could take the sword. When the gang found out about that part, every one of them turned to me. Stupid Angel.
Now that we've found this thing, all we have to do is find where it crashed to the rock from hundreds of feet in the sky, and crushed the warrior beneath it. Where it's heart had been. I find the skull, and trace the twisting line fo the neck, back, and around. There. I see a flash where the sun reflected. There's a broad blade of bone jutting up out of the sand, with just a few feet left uncovered. And stuck in it is a black spike. I grab Giles' hand again, and pull him with me, and then soften my grip again, when he gives another grimace. Gotta control my excitement.
The sword is everything the legend said it was. It's fierce, beautiful, black... like Kendra. A slightly roughened obsidian grip, to stick to a leather glove a little easier. (No self respecting swords-person doesn't wear a glove. Skin oil can ruin a blade.) Rubies are at the silver pommel and crossguard. The steel was driven deep into what used to be the breastbone. I sigh without realizing it, dropping Gile's hand. It's beautiful. I picture myself slicing off Glory's head with it.
I touch the hilt cautiously, then look back at Giles. He nods at me, telling me to go ahead. I grip it, and pull. I grunt with effort, shift my grip, and pull again, this time as hard as I can. Nothing happens. My head falls in defeat.
Giles puts his hand on my shoulder. "I had thought-"
"So had I." I cut him off. "But it's not me." I slump to my knees in disappointment, and the sand burns my knees through my jeans. All this way for nothing.
"Perhaps..." Giles trails off, hesitating because of something. He puts his hand on the hilt, and pulls. And that's when the sword decides to let go of the dragon. I reach up to brush his knuckles off, and Giles brings the sword to his face, and kisses the blade.
"Wow." I breathe. I don't get the sword, but Watcher man does. "Way to steal a girl's sword, Mister Watcher guy."
He looks at me, surprised, as if trying to figure out how the sword got to be in his hand. "I'd apologize, Buffy, but..."
I interupt him. "You don't have to apologize. I didn't fit the requirements. You do. I guess it's because Angel loved me. Mass suckage of the universe doesn't count. I sent my boyfriend to hell, but at least I knew that he loved me."
He nods. "I am sorry that you don't get to play with the magic sword."
I grin at him. "Yeah, well, you'll do more than play with it, and I can live with that."
The road south of out Death Valley is a straight line of cracked asphalt, with sand blowing up into drifts across it every now and then. A single broken yellow stripe splits it, the paint faded by the sun. A group of motorcyclists crouched over their tanks blows past Giles’ car at nearly double our speed. I see the riders, big bad boys dressed in leather and probably dieing of heat, stopped at the Badwater marker ten miles further on.
Giles slows the car down, and takes a long look at the group, but doesn’t pull over. For a moment, I think about asking him to. We're at the lowest point on the continent. I think it's even the lowest point of the world, but, hey, I never paid attention in school, so darned if I know. Willow's the one with that info in her brain. Probably Giles, too. Salty pools of water are on the valley floor. I wonder what it used to look like, before the dragon was here. There's salt and borax. Sand and rock. A lot of sand and rock. I'm not finding it as pretty as I was earlier. I'm acting like a spoiled brat, and I know it. But I can't snap myself out of it. I wanted that sword. Then before I know it, we're past the marker, and the possibility to stop, and I straighten in my seat. No more spoiled girl.
Fifteen minutes later, the riders pass us again, the engines shifting in gears, and they're gone. Well, it takes a while for them to be gone, since it's so flat and straight, but they do a good job of it. The road twists left, and the late afternoon sun glares behind us. The sword's in the back seat, wrapped in a leather sheath Giles brought to hold it. He keeps twisting around to look at it, making me nervous. I may not be the world's best driver, but I do actually keep my eyes on the road, and I like it when other drivers do the same. "You want me to drive? Your new toy seems to be distracting you in a major big way." I let the irritated tone come into my voice.
He glares at me, which is what I was hoping for, and the affection under his glare lets me know that he knows he was being teased. He stops twisting and turning and drives the rest of the way more calmly. I occupy myself with homework, trying to put out of my mind that I'll probably have to drop college soon, because I can't afford it. When I can't see the words on the paper, we finally reach the interstate, which was full of trucks heading to LA from Vegas. Barstow is blocky lighted signs, mustard yellows and flare reds that should be outlawed, and cement block buildings on swatches of asphalt. I think both are hideous after the natural beauty of the valley. And the dragon bones, rising from the sound, will stay with me for a long time. Giles looks at me, asking me if I want to stop here, and I shake my head. I've never managed to not break down whenever I stop in Barstow, or Needles. He keeps driving, and then we find a spot that passes muster for both of us. The motel room is cold because of the air conditioning and it smells of laundry detergent. Hey, all I want is a shower to get rid of the dirt and sweat. And then dinner. A lot of dinner. Then I'll be happy. But I'm nice, and I let Giles use the shower first while I use my cell to call Willow about the sword. I give Will the whole story, ending with Giles holding the sword, looking surprised beyond belief and dangerous at the same time. Giles left it on his bed, and I describe it carefully, with a Slayers attention to a weapon's details. It was everything the legend said it would be, so graceful and deadly. It could be used with two hands or one. Always one if you were a Slayer, sometimes two if you were a regular person with regular strength. The silver chasings on the pommel and hilt are a little tarnished, but, hey, they spent a hundred years or so in the desert, and while the spell protected it from other people, it didn't shield it from the weather. It smelled... interesting. Really, there was no other word. The swords I use smells like the clove oil Giles uses. This one smells like dry spices, like the canyon, like bones, like heated metal, like sulfur. "Well, what kind of spices?" Willow demands, not even veiling her irritation that it's not like she thought it would be.
"Willow, you know my cooking skills. Don't you think that I'd be a better cook if I knew my spices?" I ache to touch it again. I want to explore it's balance and weight for myself, but I hold the desire in check. Rule number one, you don't touch someone else's magic sword, especially without asking.
Especially not one you hadn't been able to claim for yourself because you didn't meet the requisite geas breaker stuff.
Giles finally gets out of the shower, and it's my turn. My thoughts are filled with his new sword, and my own shower doesn't last long.
Then it's time for food. Giles insists on not going to a fast food place, so we walk down the road to the first chain restaurant that we can find. I don't bother looking at the menu, I want two burgers and fries. Lots of fries. Giles runs through the menu several times, and, looking really grumpy, finally orders a veggie burger. "Even the bloody salads have meat in them." He grumbles to me.
I think for a moment, and run through five years of pizzas, sandwiches and donuts, and meals in his apartment. "Giles? Why have I never noticed until now that you're a veggie head?"
"Well, I haven't always been. I just started a few years before I moved here, and I don't like making a fuss about it."
My glass is empty before I know it. I must have sweat a lot more than I thought, even with all my bottled water. "That's like you. No-fuss Giles." I shift in my seat and lean on my hands. "You wanna talk about it?"
He passes me his water, and looks surprised. "About what?"
That's Giles, always taking care of me. "How come you qualified to get the sword, and I didn't." I work hard to keep the pout out of my voice, but I don't really succeed. Giles ignores the tone and just answers my question.
"Oh." He figgets with his flatware. It's normally very amusing to me to fluster him, but right now, I just want to know. "I suppose it was that, that your love for Angel was, um, not requited." See, still making the G-man stammer.
I sigh. "Just the one time, and oh, buddy. Every consequence but the one that people usually worry about." I sigh again, a big, explosive one.
Giles reaches across the table, and pats my hand. "You couldn't have known."
I manage a smile. A small one, but it's still a smile. "You just keep telling me that, Giles. You're a sweetie. But that's only the why not me. Why did you qualify? What was the curse-thinger again? The heartsick lover?"
Giles is gripping his bread knife. He slides it along the table, back and forth, back and forth. He shrugs. I stay quiet for a few minutes, to give him the chance to say something. Sometimes he opens up to me if I don't push him, and when we're away from the others. "Jenny?" I make the only guess that occurs to me. Okay, not the only guess. But I'm not going near the subject of Mom. Not unless I want to cry, too.
He shrugs again. "Perhaps. She and I never... though I've never been sure if she was..." He tried again. "True love is such a slippery notion. I've never-" The waitress arrives, and he breaks off. When she finally leaves, the moment is over. The rest of the conversation si about Glory, and the modifications they'll have to make to their plans now that he'll be the swordsman instead of me. The sword of Ryd the Wanderer was alleged to have been a skill-stealer: it drew from the blood of it's victims, and passed their powers and skills along to the person who uses it. I make him laugh by making a list of people he'd kill, just to learn from them.
Giles unlocks the room, and I go in first. We've always done it this way. I enter and leave places first, in case of danger. I protect my friends... when they're not too busy protecting me for me to do my job right. The first thing I see is the sword. "Oh, yeah. Will says there are a couple of differences with the book. The color of the gems, for one thing. She also wanted to know what kind of material you think the crossguard is. The sword smelled funky to me, but she said there wasn't anything in the description about that."
Giles pinches the bridge of his nose, and I feel sorry for him. "The author of the text might not have thought to include it. Or the scent might come from its long time spent deep inside the body of the dragon. Or…" He shakes his head. "Let’s take a look at the gems.” He goes to unwrap the sword.
"Giles. Not tonight." I put my foot down. "Right now, we drink some more water, and I attack the back of your neck where it's sunburned with aloe vera, and then we lie on these horrible little beds and watch something awful on cable. And then we fall asleep. Tomorrow, we drive back, and then you get to do your research."
Giles rubs his neck where he missed the sunblock. He sits still, and lets me put the lotion on it. I don't really get the chance to be so close to Giles. When we're training, we touch- or collide, but we don't really touch outside of it. Hugs have only happened four or five times in the last four years. Giles doesn't really touch people when he doesn't have to. Makes me wonder how he and my mom- Aah! Bad thought, bad thought! Must scrub brain. Must scrub brain!
He felt me tense up, and he stiffened up, too. "Good enough."
"You're too tense. You need a massage in a major big way. So do I. Can't afford it, though." Man, I wish I could. I miss hot tubs, and facials, and all that. Dad sends some money. Sometimes. A little. But it doesn't cover a lot. Certainly not spas. Or even college.
I have a weird dream that night. Flame and smoke, billowing below me. I twist in the air, roll, and dodge the first javelin. Why? Who is she? Why is she angry with me? I can smell the sorcerer, and taste his magic on this girl. Has the human betrayed me? The second javelin, sped by magic, peirces my wing, and I fall. The face of the warrior girl rushes up to me, and my last thought is that the expression on her face is despair. She raises her amrs as if to embrace me. Flame spikes from the sorcerer's right hand. Then I hit---
I wake up, staying still and letting my breathing stay even, as the memories of what happened before I fell asleep come back. I can hear the air conditioning ticking. I open my eyes, and see the light trickling in the window from the streetlamps, and Giles asleep in the other bed, face down and one arm dangling off the bed. His hand twitches. His sword is propped up against the wall between the beds. I pull the blankets over my head and go back to sleep. This time I dream of vampires. But I always dream of that.
The next time I woke up, the sun was bright, and Giles was reading the LA Times at the little table by the window. He smiles, and nudges a paper cup on the table. Vanilla latte, my favorite. "Thank you, oh Watcher of mine. I pledge my undying love to you."
"Perhaps you should save that for someone more deserving." I swat him on the back, and he rubs the spot that I hit.
"What time is it?" I slurp at the latte.
He checks his watch. "Just after nine thirty. You should wear a watch."
"And get it busted? I don't think so. You should have woken me up."
He shrugs. "You looked like you needed the extra sleep. God knows we all do." I don't argue with him. It's the first chance I've had to really breathe since Mom died. Without warning, the sadness overwhelms me. Giles sees the look in my eyes, and he wraps me into hug number five or six, and lets me cry.
The Magic Box is peaceful. Or, really, the group being together again is peaceful. Or noisy, depending on how you look at it. But having to take care of Dawn again, dealing with the Hellmouth, figuring out what to do with Glory? Those problems were still there. I'd had a few days of vacation, and it was nice. Oh, well. At least we have a weapon to use against Her Horribleness now.
The training room at the store is second to one in where I feel most comfortable. It used to be home, with the library in second. Now it's Giles' apartment ("flat", he calls it), and the Magic Box. Giles' place is more home to me than home. Weird.
I hug Dawn, and kiss her on the cheek, trying to ignore the face she makes. Everyone perks up when Giles puts the sword on the table. Well, everyone except Anya. Even Tara leans forward to get a better look at it. Willow checks the sword against the book, and drives everyone (meaning me and Xander) crazy in the process.
“Not in the typical style of the smiths of the area, commissioned by a Cornish adventurer and a famous one, Ryd of Carn Towan, also known as Ryd the Wanderer. Bastard sword, or a Scottish sword. Patterns on the blade, check. Tangs on the blade near the hilt, check. Blood gutter, ugh, check.”
“So we’ve definitely linked Ryd with the warrior of the Pueblo legend. Most interesting.” Giles sounds a little edgy. Poor guy.
“Maybe."Wills shrugs. "Your sword is slightly different. The blade wasn’t black when it was forged. And the gems here in the hilt are supposed to be some clear thing, not red.” Willow reaches out, and yelps, yanking her hand back and waving it. “It bit me!”
“Pardon?” Giles' eyebrows can go up pretty high.
Willow sticks her fingers in her mouth and talks around them. “Ow. Is the geas still on it?”
Giles shakes his head. "I shouldn't think so. It kept the sword pinned in place, in the bone, but I broke it when I removed the bone."
"The bone disintegrated." I add. Giles and Willow send me a look, and I go back to looking at the sword.
"And you were able to touch it before. Could you try again?" Willow glowers, as if mad that I could touch it when she couldn't. Oh, wait. She probably is.
I shrug, reaching for the sword and picking it up. "Yup. No problem." I put it down immediately, and look at my palm.
"What's wrong?" Willow examines me.
"Nothing. I just don't feel like holding it for long. It's Giles' baby, not mine. Not nice to mess around with it." Weird, but it kinda felt like something was judging me, and decided that I'd work. It didn't like me, but it tolerated me. Stupid. Swords don't have feelings. They definately can't think.
"Interesting." Giles isn't paying attention. I know because he's sucking on his glasses frames. It's funny to watch.
“Giles, could the blade be turned black magically?”
“Oh, certainly. And the gems could also be colored. This is Ryd’s sword, Willow. There’s no doubt about that. I think we may assume that Anaoc labored over his Slayer's blade, layering on the enchantments.”
Giles rests his hand on the hilt and he leans over. Okay, enough is enough. I need him to focus. I touch his arm-
A man and a girl, in a high tower, open to the sky, the dark moon rising. Candles in a brazier. Charged crystals line the blade, still bright and not yet dark. They lean over the sword and kiss as their blood mingles on their clasped hands and drips down onto the blade. With every drop, something awakens. The next ritual will need more than this simple touch
I shake my head, and it's gone. Giles and Willow are still talking.
“Pardon? Oh, yes, Willow, I think these are variations in the blade’s appearance we may accept as the work of sorcery. There are some non-invasive ways we can probe the enchantments. Let me show you a technique…”
I roll my eyes, and get ready to leave. There's going to be no more English conversation now that they're talking magic. I have to make dinner for Dawn, and study for my next test.
I sit there, watching Giles dancing with his sword. I love watching him; he's trained for years and it shows. I pick things up easily and quickly... and he might be better than me. He's damn good with it, and he doesn't have any super powers. That would earn my respect no matter what. Who and what he is also gets my respect.
His dancing is different than usual. Usually, he's controlled, not wasting any movement or energy. Today he's a little flashier, bordering on pretty. Right now, it really does look like a dance.
Even with the changes, he'd kick my ass if it were only on skill and ability. But it's not. I have the strength and resiliancey. As far as super power dealies go, this is a good one.
He finally comes to a stop, breathing hard and sweat drenching his shirt. He's grinning like a lunatic. "I'm a bit out of practice. Must remedy that immediately. If I'm to be the one that kills Glory."
I shift and coverd my feelings of hurt pride with my larger than life attitude. "Yeah. Let's do more one-on-one training. Trying to keep up with this Slayer will get your Watcher shaped ass in shape." I tilt my head quizzically. "So, what exactly were you doing? A kata?"
He nods at me. "Of a sort. The Council endevers to preserve a style of swordsmanship that's been long since forgotten in Europe. Eastern styles are still very effective in battle. Western styles have evolved into tournament fighting. Completely degenerate. Fencing instincts would be dangerous for you. Even the German style-" He shakes his head. "Well, suffice it to say that the Council maintains it's own school."
I nod. "And that's what you taught me."
"Yes. You learned tai chi elsewhere. Angel?" I nod, although it's not actually a question, and I know it. "Aikido also teaches a viable swordfighting style. But this sword is not to be used that way. Two edges and a thrusting point." He turns back to me. "Dawn is...?"
"Safely in the care of Janice's mom all night." I finish the sentence. "They claim they're studying for a biology test. I hope they at least get their homework done." When Willow and I studied, we did more studying than anything else, with some girl stuff thrown in. I have a feeling that Janice isn't as commited to studying as Willow, and they do girl stuff with some studying. Maybe.
"Do you have dinner plans?" I shake my head. "Let me just pop into the shower, and we'll go get something." He leaves, and I decide to look around the shop. Giles comes back, carrying the sword on a baldric that he's used before.
"You're bringing with?"
He nods. "I'd rather not leave it. This place is too easily broken into."
I shrug. "Yeah, but it's not like anyone else could pick it up. Not if it doesn't want to be. You've got yourself a biting sword."
"True. I don't want to leave it. It makes me uneasy."
I skip across the parking lot, singing, "Giles has a baby, Giles has a baby." He chuckles, and unlocks the car.
The baby joke isn't as funny at the restaurant, when Giles is trying to decide what to do with it. He starts to take it inside, but I wouldn't let him. "Trunk. I have enough problems with the police around here. You don't need to get involved, too. Jeez, Giles, you're obsessed with this thing." I roll my eyes. "Men and their toys."
"I object to that characterization. Swords are weapons, not toys. You of all people should know that." He holds the door open for me, and I poke him in the side as I walk through.
Giles picks the seat where he cn watch his car. Or rather, his trunk. He starts thinking out loud. "I need to get a proper scabbard made. Something that fits it. Black, I think. It's not the sort of sword one wears on one's hip. Too long."
Annoying, a little. But still entertaining. "Black, huh?"
"Yes, with silver chasing. Perhaps even with red gems. To match."
I cage him in a look. "Are you sure that you're not obsessing, Mr?"
He looks at me over his menu. "What are you implying?" Oops, he's not smiling. Looks like he didn't get the joke.
"Hey, calm down. Just saying that you're pretty worked up about your new magic toy."
"Buffy, it's not a toy, it's a sword." He speaks as though he's having to explain something to a small child. I'd be offended, except that I can see in his eyes he's teasing me as much as I was teasing him. "A magic sword. A legendary sword. Literally. Legends are told about my magic sword. I have been granted the privilage of wielding a legend. And I am going to use it to slay a hellgod. I think I have the right to want proper fittings for it."
Okay, so he has a point. I can admit it. RIght before I found out that it wouldn't be me using it, I had my own fantasies about it. About how I'd look carrying it. The tricks that I could do with it. Even if it won't be me using it, it should be shown off a little. Strutted with. Giles deserves to be seen as the hero he is. I reach across the table and squeeze his hand, apologizing. "Yeah. Hey, who you going to get to do it? The cobbler who does your boot mods?"
GIles relaxes, giving my hand a squeeze, saying that it's okay. "No, I've met another crafter recently. A woman who works with gems. I've been thinking of teaching WIllow some basic permanent enchantment skills. We could give the sheath some beneficial properties. Nothing like what the sword has on it though. Good lord, Anaoc was more powerful than the diaries made him out to have been. I thought they would have been exaggerated, if anything."
The waitress comes back, and Giles moves like he's going to pick up the menu, but then recites from memory (gotta love that man's brain), "Enchiladas nuevas, de queso. Y un Tesoro Añejo. Gracias. Buffy?"
"Uh... right. The chicken nachos, no sour cream, and a diet Coke." The waitress gives me a look like I should be eating more, but leaves, shaking her head.
We sit there, not really talking until the waitress comes back. Giles is drinking something alcoholic, which bugs me. Okay, so I haven't seen him drink since that one time with Spike... no, wait, he had some wine with Mom at Christmas, but beyond that, nothing. The bottles disappeared from his "flat", and WIllow and I were glad.
Giles drank some of his tequila, looking pleased. "Drinking again?" Oh, yeah, Buff, that came out very smooth. Very suave. Very UN-cool.
"Hmm? Oh. You mean? Not in my flat, and never alone. Not since... well. I did learn my lesson." He doesn't sound mad. In fact, he sounds like he's trying not to laugh.
"You'd tell me if you ever got that unhappy again, right?" I fiddle with my napkins while asking, so that I won't have to look at him.
He reached across and patted my hand. "Silly Buffy. Yes, I'd tell you. I'm rather happy at the moment. Worries about you and Dawn aside."
The busboy puts chips and three stone bowls of salsa in front of us. I have one, and the salt tastes good. I have an addiction to salt. Not like I'm going to have to worry about dying of a heart attack, right? I try some salsa, and it's spicier than it looks. Good. I like spicy. "Hey, Giles. Are your parents still alive?"
He shakes his head. "No, my father died when I was a teenager." I give him a look, telling him that I want to hear more. "He died with his Slayer."
Okay. Not going near that one again. We both agree: talking about Watchers dying, or Slayers dying, we don't do, unless absolutely necessary. We especially don't talk about people we know. "What about your mom?" Wait. Was his mom a Watcher? I hope not.
"She died about a year before I came to Sunnydale. It wasn't unexpected." He exhaled sharply. "We all go through it, Buffy. It hurts, and it's hard, but we muddle through."
I nod. "Yeah. It's not..." I trail off, and try again. "It's not fun. But I'm beginning to see how life will be okay again. I just... I wish we could get this thing with the stupid hellgod out of the way. I feel like I can't feel anything all the way through as long as this is hanging over me."
"It does get easier, Buffy. You probably feel a little numb right now. It's normal. I remember feeling that way myself. I'm... I'm here, to talk to. Any time."
I give him a slight smile. "Yeah. I know. And speaking of hellgods, let's get back to business." I can admit it, and so can Giles: talking about how we're going to stomp a hellgod into the ground is comforting.
Giles lifts his glass. "To business." I clink my diet Coke against it.
There's a spark of... something in his eyes that I haven't seen in him in a while. Humor, playfullness? "So, your sword packs a big mean wallup?"
He laughs. "To say the least. Willow and I were completely outclassed in attempting to understand it's enchantments. We are fairly certain that it's latent at the moment. Most of the magic is inactive. Some of it might trigger when needed, in battle. And some of it might need ot be consciously invoked by me."
I raise an eyebrow at him. "I know that you have a close relationship with your new toy, but do you know how?"
He gives me a look, and I grin at him, causing him to sigh. "No. For instance, the skill-stealing aspect. I have no idea how to use it."
"The old stand by, research?"
He sighs again. "Can only get us so far. We do have some of Anaoc's writings to consult, but he wrote little directly about the sword. I suspect I'll have to use it, become familiar with it. Perhaps take it on patrol with you soon."
"Gee, go patroling with a genius with a sword, and a gorgeous sword? That's a hardship." I can smell his tequilla from across the table. It smells like the desert. When I lean forward to smell it better, Giles passes it to me and gives me a smile. I taste it, and it's smoky and dark, biting and smooth. It tastes like the desert. I sneeze, and pass it back to him. I hate alcohol. Giles makes a great attempt to not laugh at me, but I don't need to be a Slayer to see his shoulders shaking. "Hey, isn't it traditional to name magic swords?"
I wait a moment, and he doesn't answer. “So?”
He sighs. “I have an idea. But I’m not sure. Perhaps after fighting Glory I might know. I have the sense it’s waiting for something. It’ll tell me what its name is later.”
I wait another moment. “You didn’t mean that literally.”
He gives me a Gilesy look. “Of course not.”
I'm still worried.
There's a splotch of bright color that is Giles, and not Anya. Whoa. Someone let the Watcher out of tweed. He should do that more often. "New shirt?" I finger the dark green silk. Wait a minute. Silk?
"No, actually, it was hanging in the back of my closet. It caught my eye this morning." Well, even with the different shirt, and the gold loop in his earlobe, his body language is still Giles. His hands are in his pockets, and he's trying to blend into the background, without making it look like he's blending. He's good at that.
"It's good for business." Anya chimes in. "Women customers have spent much more time than usual in the store today. He's decorative."
Giles blushes, but doesn't deny it. "Well, Anya, you'll have to continue without my powers of attraction until closing. Is that all right?"
Either Anya didn't notice, or she chose to ignore, the sarcastic edge to his voice. "Go train with Buffy. Improve our chances of averting another apocalypse, please." She took the fun out of being mean.
Giles disappears behind one of the screens in the back room to change. I'm already in workout clothes, so I take the edge off of my energy by doing a quick routine on the pommel horse. The kind that shows off Slayer balance and power. The sort of thing I've been working on with Giles this year, and it reminds me how much I miss gymnastics. By the time that I'm finished, he's out and watching me.
"That was good. Very smooth and controlled. This is the best form you've ever been in. But you need to straighten your legs to get more power. Well, shall we?"
I get out two of the weighted blunted broadswords that we use for training, and toss one to him as an answer. MIne is weighty enough that I notice it. Especially when Giles makes me lunge and hold the lunge until sweat drips off my nose. I don't know who said that girls don't sweat, they glisten, but let me tell you, I don't glisten, I sweat. I wonder if Giles is gong to want to work on muscle stuff, or just technique. My guess is technique, plus endurance. I mean, he will be facing off against a hell god. He's going to need it.
He catches the sword, and frowns. He puts it back and steps away. "No. I should get used to the weight and balance of my sword. Let me just..." He slips the plastic sleeve over the blade to cushion it, especially on the edges and point. The sleeve will prevent the worst injuries, but he can still break bones with it. Then again, so can I. Pretty easily, too. This training is dangerous.
"Sorry. Don't want to injure Buffy." He says, to the sword. This is really starting to freak me out.
We stretch, with weapons in hand, and yup, Giles makes me hold the lunge for a lot longer than I want to. But he did it right beside me, grunting and sweating too, and that makes me feel better. It's always nice to have someone suffering along with you. He makes sure not to wear us out, though. He has worse plans for us. A long series of exercises. When we finish with that comes the treat: sparring. But only after all the other work is done.
Fun frustration. That's what I think of when I spar with Giles. He alwasy seems to know what I'm going to do, and if he gives anything away to me, it was to mislead me. I'm fighting with one part of my mind, and trying to learn with the other part. The Slayer in me responds well to that challenge, as fascinated by this as it had been bored in algebra. The Slayer in me wanted to be good at this, so that I can hunt vampires and take thier heads. I laugh with the spare breath I have, which isn't much. Giles gives a wheezing laugh back. He understands. He understands everything.
Finally, I get through his defense, and smack him one, remembering only at the last moment to pull back. "Gotcha!" I rest the blunted swordtip on the mats, and swipe sweat off my forehead.
"You, of course, are dead three times over." Giles lifts the bottom of his gray t-shirt and rubs his face with it. Dang. Watcher man is in good shape. Really good shape.
I fidget to cover up the fact that I'd been staring at him. "Well, yeah. But I'll take my victories where I can, thank you."
He fixes me in place with a look. "I don't think you're fighting at full capacity." He brings his sword back up.
"Hey, me Slayer, you Watcher. It's training. I don't want to kill you."
"Glory will, and she won't hold back. Not doing it now could kill me then." ANd he attacks. No warning, no flicker in his eyes, no shift of his feet. Just his body and sword, coming at me. His sword is coming at my head.
Gotta love Slayer instinct, because it's what had me blocking and sidestepping. Then I let go of my control. The previous sparring had been miniature golf. This is football without pads. Twice the speed. Full contact. Shoving. And I can't keep up. Giles keeps finding ways past my guard. Only Slayer reflexes and speed is saving me. My grasp of technique has completely disappeard in the face of this adrenaline rush. If this were real, I'd be in deep trouble. If this was a vampire, I'd be dead.
"Fight to win, dammit!" He snarls at me. How he found the breath to talk, I don't know. I was fighting just to supply enough oxygen to my brain to keep moving.
I finally beat him down, using sheer strenght. No technique, nothing. Just brutal hacking, and a foot hooked behind his legs to make him stumble. He falls to his knees. "Pax! I yield!" Sweat is soaking his hair and shirt, his breath coming out too fast, but slowing down. I know that I look the same. But he somehow looks really good like that. Sweat making his shirt cling to his chest, broad shoulders, corded forearms laid against his thighs... even his sweat smells clean. Man, he's... Bad thought! Bad thoughts keep coming at me. Get a grip, Buff. He's too old for you. He's a lot younger than Angel. Well, my brain does have a point with that one...
I shake my head, trying to ignore those thoughts, and grasp his arm to pull him up-
The girl and the man from the tower, this time in hot daylight in a shadeless courtyard. The Slayer is wearing man's pants and a shirt, moving smoothly, dripping with sweat, a black sword held in both hands. The Watcher gently laughs at her. "Only madmen go out in the heat of the day here." He says, in the language of their homeland. "And only you would train in it." The Slayer grins at him. "I need to be able to fight in any conditions." "And I agree with you. But try to limit your time. I don't want you dying of heat stroke. Come. I've conjured ice for you, Ryd."
An hour later, Giles and I are at my house, after we've showered and changed, but we're still pretty freaked. "Ice?" Giles asks.
I nod. "Ice. Weird." I dump pasta into the boiling water and set a timer. Giles sits at the kitchen island, staring a glass of ice water.
"I've conjured ice for you." He repeats softly, swirling his own ice around. Then he looks up at me. "How many times."
I shrug. "I don't know. A couple. I don't actually remember them. It was more like a sense that I'd seen them before. In a tower?" I shake my head. "Maybe. If you hadn't said anything, I probably would have forgotten this one, too."
"I believe it's happened to me more often. It's quite fascinating. I think we've been getting little peices of the sword's story. Things that have happened that affected it." Okay. I was freaked. Giles was looking like a kid in a candy shop.
I get the sauce into a pan, and sit on a stool across from him. "Aren't you freaked?"
"Goodness, no. Visions sparked by artifacts are quite normal. I'd be more surprised if it wasn't happening. The sword is attempting to establish a link with it's new owner. Perhaps show me how to use it."
"Then why is it doing it to me, too?"
"I'm not sure. Perhaps it knows that you're my, my Slayer. If I were to fall, I'd want it to go to you."
I shudder. "Morbid. Anyway, I'm much more likely to die first. I mean, it has already happened."
Giles winces. "Yes, please, let's argue about this."
"Giles, how does a Watcher handle it when their Slayer dies?" I know that we have a silent agreement not to talk about Slayer's deaths, but... I need to know. I need to know if he'll be able to keep going when I die.
He looks away. "Buffy, the bond between Watcher and Slayer is quite strong. From what I've been told, it is akin to losing a, a soul mate, if you will. When a Slayer dies, her Watcher has to continue on, without the person that completed him."
"Are all Watchers male?" Wait, I already know the answer to that one. I forgot about Gwendolyn Post.
"Traditionally, any Watcher assigned to a Slayer is. Only in the last century has that started changing."
And now to approach the other unspoken subject. "Giles, how many Slayers marry their Watcher?"
Giles blushes a little. "Most of them do. Keep in mind that for centuries, it was the only way for a Slayer to be with a man unaccompanied. And there is the bond that I mentioned earlier. It is quite easy for a Watcher to fall in love with his Slayer."
My mouth operates before my brain. "Sounds like you're speaking from personal experiance, here." Oh, crap. Why did I just say that?
He turns a brighter red. "That, that-"
I cut him off when my mouth keeps going. "It's pretty easy for a Slayer to fall for her Watcher." Oh, man, that's even worse. If I wasn't red before, I am now.
I can see Giles fight to breathe. "Yes, well-"
I sigh inwardly. In for a penny, in for a pound and all that. "Giles. Maybe you didn't quite get what I was saying." I catch his eyes, and I make sure that he sees what I'm saying and not just hearing. "I love you."
He holds up his hand. "Buffy, I-"
I interrupt him again. "I know that you love me. That's why you got fired as my Watcher. Newsflash. The Council can't fire a Slayer's Watcher without her permission. Especially after she turns 18. I had WIllow look it up in the Slayer's Handbook. So you're still my Watcher, and not because of duty. You're here because you love me."
"Buffy, you're going through a difficult time. First Riley left, and then your mom died. I can't be what you use to make yourself feel better."
I feel like I've been slapped. "Is that what you think I'd do? What I'm doing right now?"
"Not intentionally, no. But I need to know if you'll continue to believe you're in love with me a month from now, or if it's just a passing thing." He rolls his shoulders and winces.
I jump at the chance to change the subject. "Injured?"
Giles, thank GOD, goes along with it. "Merely bruises. You caught me in the ribs."
I shrug. "Sorry about that. I got a little carried away."
"Don't be sorry. You were fighting the way I told you to. Although, I will wear protective gear next time."
I roll my eyes. "Macho idiot. That was crazy fun, Giles. Totally out of control. How come we've enver done that before?"
He shrugs. "I've never needed to challenge myself before. That was as much for me as for you." He examins the knuckles of his right hand, which he'd apparantly skinned. That last fight had been stupid. COmpletely different from any training I've ever done with him, which was usually calm and focused. I can't wait to do it again.
"So, we spar like that until you can beat me?" Maybe I came across as a little too eager.
"I likely never will. You'll always be the Slayer. But I'll improve." He sighs. "In many ways, it would have been much better if the sword <i>had gone to you. I'll be at a sever disadvantage facing Glory, with merely human strength and speed. Particularly if I cannot discover how to awaken it."
Me and my smart mouth. "Seems like it's pretty awake to me."
Giels sits up straight on his stool, then winces. But he's obviously extremely excited by whatever he's just thought of. "No, it's not. It's dreaming, Buffy. These are it's dreams that we're sharing. My goodness."
"Let me get this straight. Your sword is dreaming?"
He's pacing excitedly. "Dreaming of it's past, while it waits. I broke the geas, Buffy, but all that did was bind the sword to the bone. Now I need to discover how to wake it up."
While I'm thinking about that, the timer goes off. "Crap!" I race to turn off the burner and drain the fettuccine before it turns to mush. Pasta is one of the few things that I can make without burning.
Giles goes to get Dawn from her room, then sets the table. The three of us have eaten dinner in the dining room almost every night since Mom died. Dawn rambles about what a piece of cake her biology test had been, and I tease her. Giles didn't seem to notice his food. He was somewhere else, somewhere deep in Watcher brain. Truth be told, I'm not really paying attention, either. I'm thinking about our conversation earlier. He was right. No, not that I'm using him to make myself feel better. But that is something that I could do, and I owe it to him to get my feelings straightened out before I talk to him about it again.
Giles stays late that evening as a favor to me, to guard Dawn while I patrol. I'm paranoid, and I know it, but he's done it without me even asking about it, ever since Mom died. THe patrol is long; the docks had more newbies than usual. I don't get home until almost dawn. I slip in as quietly as I can, and figure, even though the living room light is one, that Dawn and Giles are asleep. I was right. Giles is sprawled out on the couch, one hand touching the sword one the floor next to him. He's still wearing his glasses, but they've gone crooked. I work hard to stifle the giggle that tries to overflow, and he murmers something, and shifts. I'm able to get the glasses off his face, and turn off the light, leaving Giles and his sword to dream.