A Few Drops
Oh, she was doing much better than she had anticipated. They all had escaped Sunnydale without personal belongings, but with loads of emotional luggage, luggage that, especially at night, used to creep out at night and linger in their thoughts, demanding to be dealt with. And yet, none of them had broken down. She almost laughed at the fact. They had experienced so much, of this she was sure, that this final event couldn't do them any damage beyond a certain barrier they had all succeeded in building for themselves. And yet, even though she knew in her heart that it would get easier again - especially through the healing which time, in the end, always provided - here she sat, in a shady bar in Cleveland, trying to forget. Not forever. Only for the night. The attempt had made her tipsy already, and she felt the voice of her conscience rebel inside, telling her not to continue. Very much inclined to listen to it, she started paying attention to the conversations around her for distraction. Most of it was the usual bar talk, and some of it was the usual talk of a bar like Willy's - this was, after all, a bar that was apparently frequented by creatures of the night as well.
Tonight, she found it particularly hard to focus on other people's conversations. She couldn't seem to concentrate on one thing for more than mere minutes, her own troubles and worries always invading her mind too soon. It was not so much about the losses they had experienced, even though, naturally, she could still bring herself to tears by just thinking of her mother, or Tara, or even of Anya, and of Spike, for that matter. It was rather about all the things she realized she didn't have in her life, all the things an average girl would, of course, have achieved already. Her best example had always been Cordelia: kind-hearted, even though not of the brightest, with a successful career in Los Angeles, now Mrs. Wyndham-Pryce, and, if Angel could be trusted, pregnant with a Watcher's child. Admittedly, Cordelia had always been ambitious, but comparing herself to the girl, Buffy felt far behind. Not that her life goal had even been to marry soon and get pregnant immediately afterwards. She grinned at herself. No. But this was definitely not how she had imagined her life to be.
And strangely, she found she wasn't angry about her calling anymore. That, she had accepted. Lord, she had even been fine with moving to Ohio for the whole spectacle probably to be repeated. Slaying business was her business after all. Instead, she was angry with herself, herself and her continuous blindness and egoism. She told herself that she was to be glad that some people had sticked with her, that she hadn't scared them away yet. And indeed, she was very thankful for Dawn, and for her friends. Ever since her resurrection, she had never felt the same. Something had always been missing. Certainly, she had experienced happy moments, important moments since then. But inside, she was still hollow, and this vacuousness was what drove her to seek distraction of any sort, distraction which she usually ended up trying to obtain by drinking. Not always too much: but enough to think of other things.
Tonight, however, her thoughts circled around the things that haunted her at night, the things which made her wake up at ungodly hours with a strange feeling in her chest, one of aimless longing that seemed to devour more and more of her by the minute. Musing about the people she cherished, she wondered once again why her Watcher had stayed with her: not just in Sunnydale, but here. Generous as he was, he had funded all their accomodations from the last bit of his London savings, now working a "normal" job like all of them to support himself. And yet, there was no reason to be found why he should stay with them, with her, in this goddamn place, rather than return to England which, Buffy thought, certainly was more of a home to him than, well ... Ohio. She didn't allow herself to be as egoistic as to be sure that he stayed on because of her alone; he had learned to love the others as his family. Still, she told her frightened heart that there had to be a reason as to why he hadn't let her scare him away yet.
Just as during all the nights she had spent sleepless since the destruction of Sunnydale, she rewound her memories of all that had happened between Giles and her, and once more, she was beyond surprise that he hadn't left her once again. Of course, she knew him to be loyal, and she knew he cared about her very much, but now that the Hellmouth of Sunnydale had been destroyed, she was sure that he could easily have asked the remaining members of the Council to send her a different Watcher to support her at this new Hellmouth. Her inner eye replayed all the happy moments, but also all the painful events, all that Giles had had to suffer through. She knew it couldn't be changed but couldn't help dwelling on the cruel pictures of which her imagination reminded her. It probably had to do with the little buzz she had, too. Right. She ordered another drink, just to be sure to be able to blame her melancholy and guilt on the alcohol. Halfway through it, still trying to make herself focus on the light conversations around her, she picked up a heated discussion on the far end of the bar, led by two vampires who seemed to be a couple. Lazily, she checked the inner pocket of her leather jacket for a stake, but after a moment of hunting instinct, chose to leave them alone. This was a demons' bar after all, and she wasn't in the mood for slaying.
All the more observingly did she listen to their conversation, though. They were arguing with each other, and when the volume of their love banter became almost imbearable, one among the crowd of their friends, who had sticked to cheering and agreeing so far, chimed in. They had been fighting about whether they were each other's soulmate, each other's true love, or not, and the third vampire cheekily slammed her empty tumbler on the counter between the two lovebirds, claiming that it was some kind of law that if they mixed some drops of both their blood, it would become crystal clear, provided that they were truly each other's soulmates. Buffy pricked up her ears and stared in disbelief as the two in question slit their palms with a pocket knife and both dropped a little blood into the tumbler. After a moment, the fluid turned as transparent as clear water. Buffy was taken aback; suddenly, in her slightly dazed mind, there arose a possibility of all the fights she'd had with Giles making some kind of sense. She waved to the barkeeper and footed the bill.
Only insignificantly insecure on her feet, she left the bar to walk over straightly to Giles' place. The night air seemed to help clear her mind a little. The silly argument she had witnessed could provide her with an overall solution, or so she thought. If Giles was, indeed, her soulmate, that would explain all the ugly fights and disagreements and estrangement and goddamn trouble. And if he was her soulmate, he would also be able fill the void inside her. She knew she was tipsy, but all the more determinedly did she stroll down the dimly lit streets.
For the first time since they had moved, she didn't hesitate to knock on his door. He opened only seconds afterwards, and it was obvious that he wasn't sober, either. She wouldn't have labeled him as 'drunk', but yes, he looked rather troubled and dishevelled, as if he had been - just the way she had passed her time, in fact - going over the same problem again and again. "Buffy," he greeted her huskily. Without asking, she stalked into his apartment. "Giles," she panted a little; the stairs had gotten to her a little after all. "You look as if you've been, um, drinking. And thinking." She opened her jacket. "Sorry about the rhyme." Taking off his glasses and trying to stay calm while refilling his wine glass, he retorted, "Indeed I have. You seem to have, er ... d-done the same." Charming answer, she thought, but he wasn't to be blamed: he had hit the nail straight on its head. "Yep," she replied, "and now I'm here to verify something." He looked curious, but instead of investigating into the matter, took a sip.
He heard her rummage through his kitchen drawers, and after a moment, she returned with a very sharp-looking knife. "Careful with that, Buffy," he mumbled shyly. It wasn't the first time she had seen him tipsy, but it felt different now that he knew her not to be sober, either. And, God, now that he felt he was slowly but surely getting drunk, her self-confidence (and her very low-cut top) were having an effect on him which he'd already had hard times suppressing even when sober. Her confident and elegant movements stirred a hunger inside him which reminded him all too well of the love for her that he'd kept hidden for years. No, but he wouldn't, couldn't, mustn't let her see it. Not even now, he told himself. After a moment of reflection, she told him, handing him both the knife and an empty glass, "I need a few drops of your blood."
Now, even in his not-so rational state of mind, this was among the few things which he certainly couldn't have anticipated her saying. Words failed him, and she sensed his confusion. "Please, Giles, trust me," she said, pouting a little, and her facial expression persuaded him to comply. He downed what was left of his glass of wine, then did as he was told, carefully slitting his palm just the slightest bit. "Thanks," she whispered, obviously nervous about something. Expectantly looking at her, he poured himself another glass. Who cared if he was already tipsy. He told himself he needed it to fight the absurdity of the situation. Trembling slightly, she brought the blade to her palm, eliciting a small gasp from him; but no, she didn't cut herself. Putting the knife down, she looked around, her eyes settling on Giles' (second) half-empty bottle of wine. "I need more fake courage first," she said cynically, grabbing the bottle and downing at least half of what was left inside it. He stared, her determination having a most physical effect on him, and he figured it was best if he'd just stay where he was, behind the kitchen counter that went up to his chest.
Putting the bottle down, she licked her lips for a split-second, making Giles wish he was able to turn away from her. Still nervous, but secretly wishing her experiment was going to work - God, he was looking at her so intensely that for a moment, she was indeed afraid of melting beneath his gaze - she ran the blade over her palm, dripping a little blood into the glass. Just as she put the knife down again, it dawned on Giles what she was trying to do, and, both shocked and hopeful, he caught her gaze. Buffy tried to blame it on the alcohol but there was something about the way their eyes stayed locked; maybe this was the ominous sparkle everybody was fantasizing of when it came to falling in love. No, something had been there between them all along, but became obvious now that both their inhibitions had been lowered. After a moment of losing themselves in each other's eyes, the tension - and what was it? Love? - between them becoming almost painful, Buffy turned away with a jerk to look at the glass, Giles' eyes following her. Both were stunned beyond measure as the deep red fluid dissolved into absolutely transparent water.
Buffy was the first to move; tipsy or not, she thought, Giles would probably never have dared to take the first step. She flung herself at him, and in the next instant, they devoured each other in desperate, hungry kisses, passion welling up inside them. After a moment, he drew her closer, both feeling the contours of the other's body precisely. The bulge in his pants was more than obvious, and Buffy felt dizzy knowing that he wanted her just as much as she had longed for him these past few weeks. He tasted the alcohol on her sweet, soft lips, and her familiar scent of faint vanilla and roses made him feel far more light-headed than the wine had.
How they had gotten to the couch, neither would be able to explain, but once they had gotten rid of each other's clothes, their bodies united in desperate movements so hungry that the longing and - yes - love they had cherished for one another for so long was more than evident. When, panting, their bodies finally sank down in an embrace, both felt that the void that had lingered inside them had finally disappeared, had been replaced by the one missing piece. No, their union hadn't been a sober one, but with the proof of their genuine love for each other previously presented on the kitchen counter, neither of them held any doubt that this was going to last when they fell asleep, clasped in each other's arms. Therefore, what they had experienced hadn't been a union of bodies only: it had been a joining of souls that had been longing for each other for years.