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The Sorrow of Love

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You stare at the calendar and mark an “x” through the date. Almost four months and not one word from Giles.

Some fucking start.

The Christmas gift you purchased with your hard-earned money, Giles’ Christmas gift, mocks you from its resting place on the shelf. Right next to the one left unopened from him.

It sucks that he’s never come back, leaving you while you slept on, blissfully unaware of his cowardly departure. Sucks that when it comes right down to it, you apparently don’t matter.

But then, that’s nothing new, is it?

Sighing, you clip the pen to the top of the calendar and push thoughts of Giles from your mind.

Today is reserved for other thoughts. More important thoughts.

Today is the big day.

GED day.

Thanks to Mrs. O.’s help, and a lot of knuckling down and determination on your part, you’re ready to see if you’ve got the smarts to pass the General Educational Development Test. And then, god forbid, look at attending the local community college in the fall. A whole year before you normally would have, had things been different and you were still attending Sunnydale High.

If your friends could see you n—

You nix that thought before it finishes forming in your mind. They’re gone. A part of your past. You’ve no idea what’s going on in their lives, just as they’ve no idea what’s going on in yours. You can only assume that Buffy is still slaying, Giles is still watching, and Willow is still helping – especially since you’re still walking around and haven’t been sucked into hell.

Though, that’s debatable some days…

Squaring your shoulders, you grab your room key and let yourself out.

~*~*~*~*~

Six weeks later, you’re sitting in Mrs. O.’s kitchen celebrating with cake and Pepsi. Beside your plate is the manila envelope containing the congratulation letter from the GED testing center, complete with certificate and transcript. Having those papers that say you passed in your hot, little hands is concrete proof that you’re not as dumb as your father always said you were.

At least when it comes to school stuff.

Relationships on the other hand… yeah, no question there. You’re dumb as a rock.

“Alex?”

Shaking yourself out of your silent reverie, you glance up at Mrs. O. Note her concerned expression. Screw Giles and his hang ups, his mixed signals… and how his absence continues to rip out your heart.

“I’m fine,” you say. Push Giles to the back of your mind and think about the GED. “It’s just… it’s sinking in. I really passed.”

“You really passed,” she confirms. Beams like a proud mama.

You smile back. Blush a little too. It’s new, having someone believe in you. You blush a little more and protest when she produces a gift and hands it to you.

It’s easy to see it’s a book. It’s always a book. Probably the teacher in her. Once upon a time, you would have rolled your eyes at the thought of reading anything but the comics. Now though, you tear into the wrapping paper eagerly. Books have been your only comfort of late.

You shake your head in denial at the leather-bound volume revealed.

“It’s a gift, Alex,” she says softly.

“But, Mrs. O.—” you start to protest as you open it to the inside cover. The words die off abruptly and your throat closes up as you read her note. Tears gather in your eyes.

Alex – Continue to walk the road less traveled. Mrs. O.

Your thank you is heartfelt, and you make her squeal with pleasure when you jump up, grab her out of her chair, and give her an exuberant hug. Spin her around before setting her back on her feet and kiss her soundly on the cheek.

You laugh as she pats her hair back into place then shakes a finger at you in warning.

Today is officially the best. Day. Ever.

~*~*~*~*~

You’re still riding high as you let yourself into your motel room after work that night. Then you see who’s sitting at your table and feel like you’ve been punched in the gut. Twice. By Mike Tyson.

Why now?

“Giles?” you call out, hating that your voice trembles.

Somehow you get the door shut and locked. You take a hesitant step forward. Then another. You keep going until you’re standing before him, staring down at his bent head.

It’s only when he looks up that you see the anguish on his face, take in his defeated posture that has been hidden by the darkened room.

Knowing you’re setting yourself up for a whole lot of hurt, you place Mrs. O.’s gift on the table and straddle Giles’ lap on the chair facing him. You cup his jaw with both hands, lean in, and press your lips to his. Your intent is to offer comfort. Something.

For one second nothing happens.

One second where you begin to regret your actions. Call yourself a fool.

Then Giles comes alive beneath you. His arms wrap around your back, locking you in place (like you’re going anywhere!). His mouth opens and his tongue darts out to trace your lips. He wants in, and you let him. Let him take the lead and taste you. Your want, your need… your love. Most of all, your love.

You’ll give him anything, anything, to get rid of that look on his face. A look that says he’s given up. That life has no meaning anymore.

He leans into you and you find yourself falling back. You cling to him as he shifts forward in the chair and then off. Marvel at his strength as he carries you down to the floor and then stretches out on top of you. His frenzied hands are everywhere – opening buttons, lowering zippers. Touching you, skin to skin, thanks to your own greedy hands that reciprocates his every move.

And his mouth. Dear god, his mouth. From little kisses and nips to outright ownership. Marking you as his… and you wouldn’t have it any other way. There’s an almost desperation in his actions, and you feed on that. Feed on him. Tug at his trousers as he yanks at your jeans. Then you’re both free, dick against dick without anything in between.

Someone groans. It’s probably you.

You practically come from the sensation alone.

Hell, you’re a randy teenager and you last only as long as it takes for him to wrap his hand around both of your cocks and hump against you twice. You jerk against him, cry out Giles’ name. Feel wetness splash against your stomach.

A tighter grip, another handful of thrusts, and Giles is right there with you, whispering your name almost reverently.

And you can’t help but think that this is the most perfect minute of your best. Day. Ever.

~*~*~*~*~

You’re not sure how long you lay there, but you’re in no hurry to get up, to let reality intrude. It doesn’t matter that your pants are down around your knees, your shirt’s rucked up around your armpits. That the rug in your motel room is probably dirtier than the sidewalk outside, that cum is drying on your skin… probably on Giles’ skin too.

Nothing matters but the feel of Giles pressed against you, holding you, nuzzling your neck. Then it’s like he simply crumbles. You feel him shudder against you. Feel his body quake. Feel wetness against your shoulder.

All you can think is, “dear god, Giles is crying”.

Your arms tighten around him. Your hand finds its way to his head, your fingers card through his hair. It’s softer than you expect. You shush him, soothe him with nonsensical words. Comfort him in his time of need.

Something has obviously gone very wrong. Very, very wrong for him to lose his composure like he has.

And come to you.

“Giles?” you softly call his name, then louder when it doesn’t appear he’s heard you.“Giles?”

You both need to get up off the dirty floor, get settled on the bed. Maybe clean yourselves up a little bit too. When he remains lax above you, you push against him. Get him to shift off you.

As you stand up, you debate pulling up your jeans, then figure, why bother. Instead, you shuck them, along with your socks, shoes, and shirt. Modesty is probably misplaced now, especially after what just happened. Besides, with you naked, it might be easier to get Giles naked… or so you hope.

You secretly worry he’s going to disappear while you retrieve a dampened towel from the bathroom. Which is why you haul ass and are back in the main room in less than ten seconds, the ends of the small, faded white bath towel dripping water all over the carpet.

But Giles hasn’t moved, other than to roll onto his back and shield his eyes with his forearm – not even to cover himself. His tears have stopped but his body language is giving off the worst kind of vibes and you take it upon yourself to get him and you cleaned up and him stripped out of his trousers, underwear, socks, and shoes. Gentle prodding gets him to sit up, and then off comes the shirt too.

He offers no protest when you take his hand and pull him to his feet, then go one further and push him towards the bed. It’s only once you’re both under the covers, your arms wrapped around Giles with his back to your front that he opens up. You figure it’s the fact that he’s not facing you that gives him the courage to speak.

“Buffy’s dead. The slayer— She— Angelus—”

The story comes pouring out. How Buffy broke Angel’s curse and made him soulless again… and quite mad, willing to send the world to hell. The ultimate showdown between slayer and vampire, and how in the end, both had died because they were too well matched.

“Willow?” There’s a lump in your throat when you say her name. You’ve been wondering the whole time, praying. Please, god, not Willow. Don’t let her be dead too.

You feel Giles stiffen in your arms. Know the news isn’t good.

“A few scrapes and bruises. Nothing serious.”

Your breath leaves you in a rush. Oh thank god!

But Giles isn’t finished, you can feel it. Almost like he’s protecting you, sheltering you from the harsh facts of life. And damned if you don’t hate that. But at the same time, a small part of you – a teeny, tiny, part – kind of likes it too.

“What aren’t you telling me?” you demand. It’s not like you can’t handle it; disillusionment is your middle name.

It’s a long time before he finally answers, delves deeper into the story of Buffy’s death.

“Willow wanted to attempt re-ensouling Angel. I expressly forbid it. She went behind my back and plotted with Buffy to do the spell. It was the reason—it was the reason Buffy wasn’t fighting as hard as she could have. She just managed to stake Angelus before succumbing to her injuries.”

“Oh, god, Giles. I’m so sorry.”

You ache for Giles, knowing that two teenaged girls’ naïve beliefs had probably cut short Buffy’s life. You grieve for the friend who will now have to live with their mistake. All the while wondering if you could have made a difference in the outcome. If Buffy wouldn’t still be alive if you were there.

Giles turns over, looks you in the eye. It’s almost like he can see what you’re thinking. “You’ve nothing for which to be sorry.”

You shake your head, deny what he’s said. “If I had been there, if I hadn’t left—”

You feel your own tears gather. Misery is clearly reflected in your eyes, and in that moment you want to kill your father for forcing you to leave, forcing you to isolate yourself to hide from the System. Damn him—

“No, Xander,” Giles intrudes on your chaotic thoughts.

“But—”

He shushes you with a finger to your lips. Wipes away a lone tear with his thumb.

“No regrets, Xander.” He leans in and brushes his lips against yours. “I’m glad you got away. Glad you were safe. I couldn’t—” He kisses you rather than continue. Apparently only one emotional breakdown per day is allowed.

You don’t mind though. His kisses are nice and very thorough.

Just what you need to take your mind off things.

Things like you and him, and what this all means – him here with you now.

And what happens next.