Giles decided to take a break. Everyone was surprised by his choice. After all, no one would even think that he would take off when there was still so much to do. Even Giles himself never considered such possibility. But at some point he realized that there was always something to do. The New Council was located on the Hellmouth, and there was no chance on a quiet day. Giles found himself tired, exhausted even, and the fact that even with an army of Slayers, he wasn’t able to rest, was somehow frustrating--because there was more work to do now.
Giles had decided to go to England some time ago. He was sure that if The Council survived his absence, then it would survive everything. Because that would prove that all Council members were perfectly capable of making their own decisions--without turning to him for everything.
That’s why he was now here on a windy day, looking at the Stonehenge, desperately trying not to call Cleveland. He was trying to rest in his house with a great book and glass of scotch. But the telephone was in the same room, and something in him insisted on calling Council. Giles had to go out. He was supposed to rest, not worry about the events in Cleveland and researching in case of any problem.
But even here, as far from home as he could get, he kept his hand in his pocket, touching his cell phone, wondering if he should call Willow.
“Don’t you dare call any of them, mister. You’re supposed to be resting,” he heard familiar voice behind him. He turned around, surprised. He wasn’t mistaken. There, in front of him, Cordelia was standing, wind playing with her hair, much shorter than he remembered. He wasn’t sure if this was real. If she was real. After all, he was talking to Angel not so long ago, and then, Cordelia was in the coma. There was only a brief chance that she would ever wake up.
Apparently his surprise was written all over his face, because Cordelia smiled and walked closer to him. “Yes Giles, I missed you, too. You really don’t have to show your feelings with such enthusiasm,” she crossed her arms after another gust of wind. Giles smiled back, gently touching her arm and squeezed it a little. “I’m happy to see you, Cordelia. Please don’t blame me for being a little surprised. I simply wasn’t expecting you here. Wh-- when did you wake up?” he asked. Angel promised him to call if Cordelia woke up. Everyone from Sunnydale was concerned about their friend. Maybe Giles more than anyone. More than he wanted to admit.
Cordelia shrugged. “I had few things to handle, so I figured that I couldn’t stay asleep any longer. But it was okay. Don’t get me wrong, if you skip the whole big evil hijacking your brain so it could give birth to itself, the coma thing? Really recommend ’em. You should try it too, as should all people who have a problem with getting some rest,” she answered cheerfully. Giles couldn’t help but smile. Cordelia seemed to recover completely. And that fact made him relax even more. “Don’t blame me if I pass on that,” he said. “But I wonder what brings you here. I was sure that after waking up you would want to visit Cleveland as everyone’s there…” He looked away, suddenly uncomfortable.
“Yeah, well, I knew you were here. You’re one of those things I have to handle.”
Giles looked at her curiously. He surely didn’t hear this right. It never occurred to him that Cordelia would have ever wanted to… Handle him. She never acted like she would consider him something more than just Buffy’s Watcher. He noticed that Cordelia was blushing slightly.
“Would you, would you like to go and get some tea, then?” he asked and sighed with relief when she nodded her agreement. He offered her his arm and led her to the car. While driving to the hotel where Giles was staying, they talked about the views. It was somehow silly, but neither of them wanted to talk about their work. Cordelia even said to him, that she did not wish to talk about Los Angeles. For few moments Giles wondered if she had had a disagreement with Angel which caused her trip to England. But he decided not to investigate the matter.
When they got to the hotel, Giles invited Cordy to the restaurant for the tea he promised. When they got their order, they sat there in silence, sipping their tea.
“So, what is that business you have with me, Cordelia?” he started, knowing perfectly that it didn’t sound the way he wanted. It was far too impersonal. And he shouldn’t speak to her in such a manner.
Cordy cleared her throat and looked at him. “I had a talk with Angel lately. I told him that I couldn’t stay in LA. That I’m on a different road now. I think he understands it now,” she said, but it wasn’t exactly the answer to his question. Or maybe, in a strange way it was; he always had problem with understanding. He took a sip of his tea, not letting himself feel any hope. This was easy after all those years when Cordelia was in Los Angeles. “I’m afraid I don’t. Understand, I mean,” he tried to get more of an explanation from her.
Cordelia shrugged, watching her cup of tea, apparently not wanting to look at Giles. “I guess I wanted to say good-bye to you. It felt wrong not to, before I move on,” she grimaced a little. Giles frowned. All those years he was accused of saying things that didn’t make much sense. Now he felt that Cordelia wasn’t making much sense either.
“Cordelia, as flattered as I am that you wanted to say good-bye to me, I don’t think it’s needed. I’m sure that wherever you’re going, you will always be able to call. Just like you called Willow when you moved to LA,” he tried to hide the wounded tone, because Cordelia’s phone calls were one of those things Giles envied Willow. He heard Cordelia whispering something. It sounded like ‘no, I won’t’. He reached over the table and put his hand over hers. “Cordelia, is something wrong?” he asked gently. The girl shook her head and smiled again. “Everything’s fine,” she answered, and Giles was sure that she meant it. Honestly, for him everything was indeed fine. The only question now was, if he could find enough courage to tell her about his feelings.
Apparently not. Giles decided to take his hand from hers, but Cordelia stopped him. He looked into her eyes. He saw there something he couldn’t describe. Now Giles was able to understand Wesley’s fascination with her, back during younger man’s brief stay in Sunnydale. Or maybe he understood it perfectly for a long time but didn’t want to admit it.
When he was sitting like that, looking for words to say, Cordelia leaned across the table and kissed him. Giles felt her lips on his, but she broke the kiss before he was able to respond. He watched the girl in slight shock. The idea that she might not see him only as Buffy’s Watcher, never really occurred to him.
Giles realized that despite the fact that Cordelia was sitting in front of him again, he could still feel the touch of her lips. Soft and warm. He wanted to object when she also took her hand away, but he couldn’t find right words. Simply asking her to touch and kiss him again seemed too rude to him.
Cordelia smiled cheerfully; her eyes lit up. “I so need to call Xander before I leave. I made Giles lose his words. I think that the current pool is in thousands!”
It took a moment for words to sink in, but when they did, Giles chuckled a little. He was aware of the fact that his friends were betting, but he didn’t know they were betting about him.
But it wasn’t the betting thing made him chuckle. It was that spark in Cordelia’s eyes. It was good to see her acting silly again. “If I knew you would react that way, I would have kissed you years ago,” she added with a grin.
Giles cleared his throat. “Yes. But I believe the pool wouldn’t have been so big then. If I recall properly, more than few Slayers put their names in Xander’s black book.” Not that he enjoyed the idea of gambling that was openly going in the new Council. He was very disapproving. Until he won one of the bets. Winning showed him that nothing bad was happening--as long as Xander was keeping it low profile.
“Oh! Money! Shopping!” Cordelia clapped her hands happily and Giles once more saw what a young girl she was, one that was enjoying everything, especially shopping. “But before I go to Cleveland to collect my fortune,” she cocked her head and raised her eyebrows, “are you planning on kissing me in near future? ‘Cause I’m kinda short on time,” she smiled innocently.
At first, Giles had no idea how to react. Recently he had been playing that scenario in his head, wondering what he would do if Cordelia woke up. He wanted to be sure he wouldn’t lose another occasion. And here they were, sitting in front of each other. Apparently he just got an open invitation to kiss those soft lips. Maybe even to take her into his arms. A little smile appeared on his face while he leaned over the table and kissed Cordelia. He tasted the moment, trying to make sure it’d last long. He tried to be gentle, but her response threw being gentle out of the window. He simply had this urge to claim her. In every way he could.
Much to his ire, they had to break the kiss when his cell phone started ringing. He cursed under his breath, smiled apologetically to Cordelia and answered the phone. He saw sadness flashing in her eyes. She sat deeper in her chair and looked away.
“Rupert Giles,” he said to the phone. He heard Willow’s voice on the other side. She was talking slowly, like she was trying to calm herself. Obviously something was wrong, but what she was saying wasn’t making sense. Cordelia couldn’t be dead because she was sitting in front of him. He touched her, and he knew she wasn’t The First. But Willow was sure. Giles thanked her absently and ended the conversation. He looked disoriented while his eyes rested on Cordelia.
“How can it be? They say you’re dead,” he started quietly. Cordelia shrugged, not knowing what to say. Or rather how to say it. “There are few things a girl’s body just can’t handle. Even if she’s part demon. I used credits I earned while fighting the good fight and came here; the power of those rocks really helped,” she took a deep breath, “I can stay here as long as you’re here. That’s the deal. After you leave the area, I have to move on to wherever they’ll send me.” Her voice was sad. Giles knew that she didn’t want to tell him. Something told him she was right. He would… No, he would do everything to keep her here. With him. It seemed easy.
“I’ll stay here, then. You won’t have to go anywhere. We’ll just stay here.” She smiled and shook her head. “No. You have to be back in the Council in three weeks. The fight is coming, and you need to be there. All of you,” she gently put her hand over his. Then Giles saw in her the grown up woman she had become. He felt like a selfish kid, wanting to keep her here. Even if that meant giving up the world. But at the same he knew it wasn’t the way.
“But until then…” he tried. He wasn’t ready to lose this woman.
“Till then we have all the time in the world,” she assured him.
And they had.
Until one day Giles got the phone from Cleveland that the Wolfram & Hart office in Los Angeles was destroyed and that all Slayers were being transferred there because of the alarming rate of demon activity. He knew that it was time for him to go. He turned around to tell Cordelia that, but all he saw were sheets. With no one in them. But the fact that Cordelia had made the decision for him, didn’t change the fact that flying to States was the hardest thing he ever did.