“Have you finished your research on the role of strong women in Shakespearian comedies yet, Dawn?” Giles asked as he entered their library with a tray of tea and biscuits.
“Yup, and I’m just about ready to start my paper. You know this is just busy work, right? I mean, I don’t know why I have to go through all this effort when I’ve already been offered a place at Oxford.”
He saw the girl stare at the bundle of mail he carried under his arm as he placed the tea service down in the middle of the research table. Catching her eyes he simply nodded but continued their discussion, taking a seat across the table from her.
“You know why. All the i’s must be dotted and the t’s crossed. They can always rescind their offer should you not perform to the standards for the rest of the school year. “
“This is so stupid! I bet they don’t even check. And what’s the point of having a dad who’s the head of an international organization and an alumnus if not to slack off a bit my final year in school?” the teen whined, pouring tea for the both of them.
Dad. It had been two years since he had adopted her, and a small, shy smile tugged at his lips every time she called him that. Late one evening a few months after they had moved to London she asked if she could start calling him Dad and he’d readily accepted. They’d both needed the stability of family in the wake of everything that had happened after the final battle with the First and had forged a new relationship for themselves. It hadn’t been much of a stretch considering Hank Summers hadn’t been a part of Dawn’s life since she was nine, and her memories of him weren’t necessarily happy ones. Over the past nine years, Giles had been the only father figure she had really known.
“While some well connected families might rely on nepotism to get in, we do not. My father wouldn’t pull strings to have me accepted, nor to get me back into school after running wild over London for several years, and I won’t do it for you,” Giles responded, adding a small amount of milk to his tea.
Dawn blew a stray strand of hair from her eyes in exasperation before turning the subject to the contents of the post Giles had set down next to the tray.
“So the postcards have arrived?” It was more of a statement than a question, but her impatience came through in her tone.
“Yes, but we wait for Willow and Xander, like always,” Giles replied calmly.
“I don’t know why we have to, they almost always say the same thing... except yours,” the teen complained in a huff.
“Even so, we wait.” He couldn’t really blame her for her irritation. The girl hung onto every word her sister would write on the postcards, which was both a blessing and a curse. While Dawn was grateful her sister was still alive, there was never any indication as to when Buffy would return to her, and this would send the teen into a funk that would last a couple weeks.
The cards always arrived on the 15th of the month every three months like clockwork, and it had become tradition that the Scoobies would read them together over tea at Giles and Dawn’s flat not far from the Council buildings. Afterwards they would discuss the tone of the notes to see if there was a change in Buffy’s demeanor and if there was any indication as to whether she might be ready to return to them.
At first everyone received the same cards and messages. Over time, each one of them received an individual card with similar messages, tailored a little depending on the person addressed, but in the last year, Giles’ postcards had had the same impersonal note handwritten on it. It never changed. He only knew of her experiences because he was privy to what she had written on the other cards, and he wished so desperately that he would receive something more personal.
“You haven’t peeked, have you?” Dawn asked, pulling him out of his thoughts with her teasing tone. He shot her a glare and was just about to answer him when Xander charged through the doors to the library with Willow in tow.
“Hey G-man, Dawnie! Didja get your cards?”
“Xander, don’t call him that! And I swear if you read yours, I am going to tickle you until you pee your pants!” the teen threatened, standing up to full height with her chin defiantly thrust in the air.
The young man just laughed, picked her up in his arms, twirled her around, and planted a kiss on her forehead before setting her down. “It’s good to see you too. It’s been a few months. Russia was fine, thanks for asking, and the new Slayer has settled into her dorm and is making new friends in the dining hall as we speak,” he said, picking up a biscuit and shoving it into his mouth.
“Hey, Giles, ready to find out where in the world The Slayer is today?” Willow asked, putting her bag down on the coffee table and ignoring the banter between her best friend and the girl she considered her baby sister.
“Yes, why don’t we all get started.”
Once the tea was poured for the two newcomers, the group settled down to read their postcards. Giles just stared at his. Nothing had changed. Once again Buffy had written Miss ya, love ya, wish you were here on it. On the front of the card was a picture of a beach at either sunrise or sunset with some buildings in the foreground. He didn’t even bother to look at where it was, he just didn’t have the heart, his disappointment at being left out of her life entirely was pushing him to the edge of depression.
He used to get messages like the rest, but then a year ago things changed when she had sent him a novelty postcard. On the front was a picture of a little village or something in Thailand and on the back were stock phrases with little check boxes next to them. She had checked the three boxes next to Miss you, Love you, and Wish you were here.
“Well, she’s having a great time on Lanzarote in the Canary Islands,” Willow commented, breaking the silence after seeing the disappointment on the face of her friend.
Giles got up, walked over to the map they had hung on the wall next to the fireplace, and stuck a pin in it, marking Buffy’s location. He leaned his forearm against the mantle, once more trying to find a pattern in the places she had visited over the last two years since he’d watched her pass through security at LAX. Unfortunately, there was none. None that he could discern anyway. She had started in Hawaii, then she’d flown to New Zealand, up and over to St. Petersburg, Russia, and then onto New York. From there she had spent time in Thailand, Rio de Janeiro, a small village in southern Japan, and now she was lounging on a beach in Lanzarote. He wasn’t sure why he was looking for a pattern anymore, he’d figured out long ago that there wasn’t one. It went against Buffy’s nature to be predictable. It was one of the reasons she was the greatest Slayer in history.
“She says it’s beautiful and that she plans to explore the national park and climb Montana Roja, the dormant volcano,” Xander added, taking a Jammie Dodger from the plate.
“And she’s picked up some olivine earrings and a matching necklace that she thought I might like,” Dawn added with excitement.
Giles’ ears perked up at that. It was the first time Buffy had mentioned buying something with the intention of giving it to one of them.
“Of course, unless she sends them, she’d have to come to London to give them to me and the likelihood of that...” the teen trailed off sulkily, her enthusiasm short-lived.
Xander reached over and took her hand in support, his dark hazel eye trained on Dawn’s blue ones. “She won’t be gone forever, Dawn.”
“I’m sick of not being able to talk to her, Xand! There’s so much going on that she doesn’t know. Giles is the freaking best dad in the world and finds time for me even while working these insane Watcher hours, I got accepted to Oxford, Willow is this amazing Wicca who works for both the Council and the Coven, and is seeing Laurel who is so wonderful I can’t describe her at the moment, and you, you teach at the Academy and travel the world to find new Slayers... it’s just stuff she needs to know!” she yelled before the tears fell. “And... and I just miss her.”
Hearing her outburst, Giles moved to go comfort the girl, but upon turning from his perch against the mantel, he found his adopted daughter in Xander’s arms as she sobbed out her frustration. When she finally settled down, Xander suggested they go out for dinner and then hit the clubs to go dancing. Dawn seemed to perk up a little and Willow called her girlfriend to join them. When the three got their coats, they turned as one and noticed that Giles still hadn’t moved from the fireplace.
“Dad, you comin’?”
“Hmm? Um, no, you three go ahead without me tonight. I don’t think I am up for a night on the town.”
“Then join us for dinner, Giles, you need to eat,” the redheaded Wicca entreated.
“Go on. I’ll be fine. There are leftovers in the fridge. I can take care of myself, you know. Dawn, be back by midnight, please.”
“No worries there, big guy, I’ll make sure of it. Can’t have any creepers ‘chatting up’ our Dawnie here.”
Dawn rolled her eyes. “I’m not a kid anymore. Geez!” She ran back over to Giles and kissed him on the cheek. “Heat up the spaghetti, okay? Seriously, if I weren’t here, you’d forget to eat. I don’t know how you managed by yourself.”
It was the Watcher’s turn to roll his eyes. “Get out!” he shouted with mock-irritation, a smile forming on his lips. If nothing else, he knew they cared as much for him as he did for them.
Wanting to take his mind off his Slayer, Giles heated up the leftovers, ate dinner, and tried reading a crime novel. He was restless and put the book down after reading only three pages. After washing the dishes, he headed back to the library with a bottle of water. Picking up his postcard, he read and reread the words again before noticing the description on the bottom of the card. Playa Bastián, Costa Teguise, Lanzarote. He flipped the card over to look at the picture.
A beach at sunrise or sunset, calm waters, and bungalows in the foreground. Looking down at the table, he realized that in their haste to leave, the younger Scoobies had left their cards on the table. He picked up Dawn’s first.
I hope all is well with you. Bet you’re taller than Giles now. I miss you so much! I’m in the Canary Islands. It’s beautiful here. Definitely worth a visit sometime. Maybe Giles can give you tickets as a present for graduation. Anyway, the islands were formed by volcanoes and there’s a gemstone called olivine here that you can find embedded in the volcanic rock that’s lying all over the place. Most of it’s trash, but when they find a nice nugget of it, they make jewelry out of it. I found a gorgeous set of earrings and a necklace for you. I love you, kiddo. Take care of my Watcher.
Other than the mention of buying jewelry for Dawn, there really wasn’t any new information. The picture was a standard shot of the island with the name blazoned across the bottom.
The other two cards had similar notes written on them. Beautiful, must visit sometime, and the usual about taking care of him. It irritated him that she felt he needed babysitters since when she had left, she had been so fragile that he was afraid of letting her go.
Leaning back into his chair and taking a swig of water, he thought about the day Buffy had left, watching her pass through airport security. After the initial euphoria of victory had bled away, the Slayer had taken responsibility for every casualty during their war with the great evil, and her spiral into depression had culminated with the unexpected death of her father in an automobile accident a few days later. The sisters had learned of the news after making a trip to find him at his company’s corporate headquarters in downtown LA. He had been heading back from a weekend getaway in northern California with his girlfriend after hearing the news of the destruction of Sunnydale from his business partner. Apparently he had taken a curve too fast, swerved to avoid oncoming traffic, and drove his convertible off a cliff.
The Watcher remembered Dawn calling him in a panic after Buffy had locked herself within Hank Summers’ office. Giles still wasn’t sure why she had let him in, but he had eventually pulled her out of her state of shock. The suddenness of Hank’s death had had a profound impact on Buffy, and she wasn’t the same afterwards. Not wanting to make the same mistake twice while his Slayer was gripped by depression, the sympathetic Watcher had leant all his support to her: helping coordinate the funeral, and standing once again with the girls during the service. A few days later, he had pulled his Slayer aside to discuss what she needed. She hadn’t been sure, but she had said she felt restless and needed to “figure stuff out.” It was then that he offered to take Dawn for as long as Buffy needed him to. Considering everything, it was just easier for her to surrender custody and for him to adopt the girl. With the power of the Council behind him, the paperwork didn’t take long, and a few days after Buffy had left, the four remaining Scoobies had headed to London.
Staring again at the communications on the table, something started to niggle in the back of Giles’ mind and he walked over to his desk to retrieve his other postcards. He looked at the recent ones she’d sent him. The message was always the same, but each card showed a hotel in the foreground.
Miss ya, love ya, wish you were here.
Picking up Dawn’s card again, he scanned it quickly.
Definitely worth a visit sometime. Giles can give you tickets as a graduation present.
Dawn wouldn’t finish school for another six months. Buffy knew that. Would she be there for that long? Not according to her traveling habits. Every three months she sent a postcard from a new place.
Take care of my Watcher.
Hang on! My Watcher. That was new as well. He’d missed that earlier. Previously, she had only referred to him by name. He looked at the other notes as well. She had reused the term on Willow and Xander’s letters, too.
Miss ya, love ya, wish you were here; my Watcher; Definitely worth visit some time.
Damn! She wasn’t excluding him! She was inviting him to join her. It was so simple! How had he missed it? He stopped, his heart pounding in his chest. What if he were reading too much into it? It was, after all, getting late, and he was emotionally wrung out. No, you berk, he berated, you’ve been reading it wrong the entire time!
Looking at the picture on his postcard, he noted the sun just above the water line. East or west? Pulling out an atlas of the western hemisphere, he looked for a map of Lanzarote. Giles trailed his finger along the coastline. There it was! Costa Teguise was on the eastern side of the island. Sunrise. She’ll be on the beach at sunrise.
The excited Watcher ran a hand through his hair as he rushed over to the phone to call the pilot of the Council’s private jet. Looking at his watch, he might be able to make it to Playa Bastián by sunrise if he hurried.
Having made the arrangements, Giles ran up to his room, threw some clothes in his leather bag, and found his passport and Watcher credentials to help pass him through customs quickly. As he waited for the car to pick him up, he wrote a quick note to his companions.
The flight took about three and half hours. The whole way, the nervous Watcher bounced his leg when he was sitting and paced when he could no longer tolerate the adrenaline flowing through his veins. Part of him doubted it could be this easy with Buffy, that she wanted to see him. Their history over the past four years had been volatile, with only pockets of peaceful moments, and of course, their relationship over the past two had been nonexistent. Maybe she wanted to meet him because she could never say goodbye to Dawn, Xander, and Willow face to face. Maybe she was never going to return to them. Damn and blast! What is with these maudlin thoughts, Giles? The only thing he could do was wait and see.
Having breezed through customs and rented a car, Giles checked his watch and looked at the map. If he was lucky, he’d make it a good solid ten minutes before sunrise. The road system was about what you would expect - not very efficient - but he managed to make good time since there was nobody on the road.
As the Englishman approached a set of bungalows after entering Costa Teguise, he pulled into the parking lot and consulted his map and the postcard. This had to be the place. The buildings looked the same and Playa Bastián was across the street. His heart was racing at the imminent prospect of seeing Buffy and he took a moment to try to calm down. The air was still warm despite the season and Giles took off his jacket, rubbing his clammy hands on it before locking it in the car and going in search of his lost Slayer.
Noticing that the sky had lightened on the horizon, Giles took a deep breath as he crossed the road and headed down towards the beach. He stopped to take his shoes and socks off and roll the cuffs of his jeans up to the middle of his calves before stepping in the sand. He didn’t see anyone immediately, but when he looked north, he noticed someone sitting on an outcrop of rocks. Steadying his nerves and resisting the urge to run up the beach, he composed himself and made his way to the rocks.
The moment he stepped closer, he knew it was her. He could feel her. Recognized her. Unconsciously he increased his pace. When he got within fifteen feet, he stopped, taking in the sight of her. She was sitting there with a knee drawn up to her chin and her arms drawn around it, her golden hair flowing in the slight breeze that wafted in from the ocean.
“Hello, Buffy,” he greeted quietly as he approached her.
She didn’t look at him, choosing to keep her gaze on the horizon, waiting for the sun to make its appearance. “You finally came.”
Waiting for an invitation to join her on the rock, Giles answered, “Well, I’m rather thick, you see. I only figured it out a few hours ago.”
“I thought I was being straight forward,” she countered, still watching the surf and the sky ahead of her.
“Straight forward would have been, ‘Giles, please meet me here as soon as possible.’”
“But then the others would have come.”
“Would that have been so bad?” the Watcher asked, taking in her profile. “They miss and love you desperately.”
“You know the answer to that,” he evaded softly, turning his attention forward and shoving his hands in his pockets. Standing awkwardly in the uneven sand, Giles carefully kept his eyes trained on the emerging sunrise letting the quiet settle between them.
“In a minute the sun will peak above the ocean,” Buffy announced, interrupting the stillness of the predawn. “It sort of puts things in perspective.”
“And what perspective is that?”
“I keep chasing daylight. I have to stay up after the hunt to watch the new day begin.”
“I didn’t think you would still hunt,” Giles replied, a little surprised.
“Sometimes, but I always feel the need to start the day this way. Sit by me,” she offered, patting the space next to her. Giles complied and hopped up onto the rock. Once he was settled, Buffy took his hand and laced her fingers through his. “Watch.”
Within seconds, the sun appeared, kissing the ocean and illuminating the sky with yellows and purples. Giles drew in a deep breath.
“It’s never the same,” Buffy marveled, her voice quiet with awe as she leaned her head against his shoulder.
“I’m really happy you’re here, Giles.”
“I am as well.”
They sat in the stillness watching as the sun continued its assent, marbling the sky with various hues of gold, pink, and purple, before illuminating the brilliant blue that reflected in the ocean before them.
“I’ve done a lot of traveling over the last two years and until now I wasn’t sure which place was my favorite, but I think out of all the places I’ve been, I love it here the most,” the Slayer announced, squeezing his hand.
“Why is that?”
“Because you’re here with me,” she stated simply, as if he should have known the answer already. Before he could say anything, she yawned, jumped off the rock, and said, “I think it’s time to get some breakfast and some sleep. Come on.”
Buffy tugged on his hand, pulling Giles off the rock. As he stood before her, he drank in her features in the daylight. She had softened a bit over the last two years, was less angular, her body curvier, and her hair more of a natural honey blonde - a little longer than shoulder length, layered and wispy. Her skin glowed with a lovely tan and she looked healthier than he had remembered her being in a long time.
“Semi-retirement agrees with you,” he complimented as he lightly brushed a strand of hair away from her face. “You look lovely.”
Smiling up at him, she gently traced the lines around his left eye with her fingers, “You worry too much.”
“I didn’t know how you were. It made for late nights,” he answered honestly, holding her gaze. Feeling the air growing thick around them, he opted for a little levity, “That, and your sister dates occasionally, which causes me great consternation.”
Buffy laughed, but he could see the sadness creep into her eyes as she grabbed onto his arm and led him towards the bungalows, “How is she?”
“Eighteen, highly intelligent, poised, beautiful, misses her sister dearly.” He paused, debating whether he should go on, but decided to continue, “She calls me Dad.”
Stopping her progress, the young woman turned and looked at him. Taking a moment to compose herself, she nodded her approval before speaking, “It’s as it should be, Giles. She was nine when my dad left, and any memories she has of him aren’t real. Hank Summers was never her father.”
He gave her a shy smile as he tilted his head to the side in slight embarrassment and they resumed their walk arm in arm down the beach to where he had entered. Stopping at his car to pick up his leather bag, he mused at how easy this reunion had been so far. Over the last two years, he had played several scenarios through his mind, most of which had varied on a theme: her showing up on his doorstep, exchanging pleasantries, retrieving Dawn, and moving on.
“I was hoping I could clean up at your place. I need a shower and a shave,” Giles asked, holding up his bag in explanation.
“Of course. You’re staying with me, Giles, I invited you. Can’t have you stuck in a hotel miles away.”
“I don’t want to put you out.”
“You aren’t. Over the last year, I have always rented two bedroom houses,” she explained, smiling up at him as they reached her bungalow. “Have I mentioned how happy I am that you are here?”
His eyes gleamed, “You have, but it’s nice to hear it again.”
“How long are you staying?”
“I-I don’t know. I only just... found you.”
“I didn’t know if you had to rush back...” she trailed off as she opened the door. “Welcome to your home away from home.”
“There are two bedrooms upstairs, yours is the one on the right. The bathroom is at the top of the stairs and is shared between the two rooms,” she explained. “If you want to get cleaned up, I’ll start on breakfast.”
Giles nodded, looking around before heading up the stairs. The main floor had the kitchen with an eat-in area off to the left, and to the right of the entryway was a huge living room with a couple couches and a chair, along with an entertainment center. The space was airy and comfortable.
Having cleaned up and changed into fresh clothes, the Watcher descended the stairs, stopping to watch his Slayer pull breakfast out of the oven. “Smells wonderful.”
“It’s a frittata. I also have fresh fruit and juice, and a pot of tea steeping. I hope you like,” Buffy responded. “I’ve taught myself to cook. I got bored eating out all the time.”
Giles marveled at her a moment. She was very different from the broken young woman he had seen off at the airport long ago.
“I am sure I will. Can I help set the table?” he asked, entering the kitchen.
“Glasses and mugs are in that cupboard over there, plates in the one next to it, and silverware is in the drawer to the left of the sink. Thanks.”
They moved around each other in the kitchen with a practiced grace, neither one getting in the way of the other, and they conversed easily as Buffy explained that she had come to the island a week earlier, had already found the best Chinese restaurant a few towns over, and that siesta was serious business here, nothing was open during the hours the sun was at its zenith. She also found very little demonic activity on the few hunts she had taken. As they sat down to eat, she asked after her friends and for more news of her sister, hanging on her Watcher’s every word.
Having answered all her questions, Giles took her hand in his. “But I have to ask, Buffy, would it have been so terrible to pick up the phone?” His gentle green eyes searched hers, and he could see that tears had formed in her already troubled eyes.
Swallowing the lump in her throat and squeezing his fingers in response, she answered, “I couldn’t. I mean, obviously I could, but If I heard your voice... any of your voices... I would’ve gotten on the next plane to London and never looked back. I missed you guys so much, but I wasn’t ready, Giles. Do you understand?”
He understood the issue well, after all, he had been lost those many years ago, living in squalid conditions, raising Cain and the occasional demon. All it would’ve taken to bring him home was to hear his mother’s voice on the other end of the line - and how he’d wanted that so much, yet feared it so greatly. He couldn’t face his father or the Council, and by the time he was ready, it was too late, the price paid in the blood of another.
“And are you ready now?” His voice was gentle, not intending to push her.
“I-I don’t know,” she whispered honestly as a tear escaped, making its way down her cheek.
Lifting his other hand, he wiped the tear away with his thumb, saying, “Then we enjoy this little holiday together and reassess the situation at a later time. Now, why don’t you go take a shower and I’ll clean up breakfast. Then you can show me around before siesta. By then I am sure we will both be in need of a nap.”
Smiling gratefully, Buffy stood up, and they both looked down at their joined hands before she dropped his. “Sounds like we have a plan.”
He watched her retreating form and after hearing the door to her bedroom close, he pulled out his mobile phone and called Dawn. The teen was furious with him for running off to find her sister without her. When she demanded to speak to Buffy, Giles walked outside onto the patio and pulled the girl up short. After a few minutes, he had the matter resolved, saying that the situation was delicate and he would check in with her in a few days. He could hear her sulking over the line, but she told him she loved him and to give her love to Buffy as well. After hanging up, he looked towards his left, and watched the surf roll in for a few minutes. Feeling the cool breeze off the ocean remove the stress of the outside world, he went back inside to clean up the mess from breakfast.
“You ready to go, big guy?” Buffy asked in good humor, stomping down the stairs. When he came out of the kitchen drying his hands on a towel, she threw him a bottle of sunscreen. “You’ll need that. We’re much closer to the equator here than London.”
He caught it deftly. “Thank you.”
“We’ll take my rental, it’s a convertible, so make sure you cover yourself really well.” Giles blanched at the thought of her driving. “I know what you are thinking, and I’m a much better driver now, but if it makes you happy, then you can drive.”
“You know the island better, it’s fine. You’re also not sixteen anymore,” he said, looking at her.
“No, I’m not,” Buffy returned, catching his eyes. She held him in thrall for a moment before he broke the contact slightly flustered.
“I... uh... my sunglasses are upstairs in my bag,” he fumbled, as he turned to race up the stairs. Setting down the sunscreen to root through his bag, he found the case with his sunglasses and took a moment to compose himself. Buffy was starting to make him feel things he didn’t want to think about. Things he couldn’t let himself think about, because it would be too easy to fall in love with her. He’d loved her in some form or another since the day he swore the Watcher’s oath to her, long before they had ever met.
Half way down the stairs, he turned and ran back up, muttering, “Damn! Suncream.”
“Are we getting out of here before siesta, Giles?” she called up, laughing.
Stalking down the steps with a glob of sunscreen on his fingers, he chased her down and painted her nose with it.
“Giles!” she screamed.
“Cheeky wench!” he laughed, as he applied the rest of it to his face and ears before squeezing more into his hands to get his neck and arms. Passing her the bottle, he grabbed her bag and her keys for her and they headed out the door.
Fifteen minutes later, they found themselves in the capital city of Arrecife where they toured the Castillo de San Juan, a 17th Century fort which ironically housed modern art, and walked along the shopping district where Giles bought a hat. Buffy picked out the Panama Jack type white fedora for him, saying he looked rather rakish, and who was he to argue? They window shopped and made conversation about the tropical fashion and she swore that she would get him into some linen. Giles eyed her skeptically, but knew that he would eventually capitulate if she pushed the issue.
“Oh, Giles, look!” she exclaimed, grabbing his hand and pulling him over to the other side of the walking street, “We should totally do this sometime.”
The Watcher looked at the board outside the small sports shop they’d almost walked past. “Snorkeling?”
“I hear the corals around here are beautiful,” she answered wistfully.
“If you like,” he said as she disappeared into the store. He sighed and followed her. When he found her, she turned to him, a triumphant look on her face.
“Tomorrow, 9am sharp, but we need to buy the gear and I bet you didn’t bring your swim trunks.” She giggled when he glared at her. “Well, you can’t snorkel without them. Go pick something out.”
They had lunch before heading back to the bungalow. The lack of sleep the previous evening and the time out in the fresh air and sun had done Giles in and he fell asleep a few minutes after sitting down on one of the couches in the living room.
It was well into the evening when he woke up finding himself sprawled out on the couch under a light blanket. His vision was still blurry from sleep and he reached up to adjust his glasses.
“They’re on the coffee table,” a gentle voice told him, and when he searched his memory to place it, he could only come up with his Slayer to match it with. But that was imposs...ible. He lifted his eyes in the direction the voice came from, and while his eyesight wasn’t great, she was close enough that he could make out her familiar face even in the low light.
Shaking his head to rid himself of the cobwebs, he said in wonder, “I thought I had dreamt all this for a moment.”
“Kinda surreal, huh?” Buffy asked with an amused smile.
“A little. A lot, actually,” he revised. “How long was I asleep?”
“About six hours.”
“You shouldn’t have let me sleep so long. I’m sorry I’ve not been any sort of company this afternoon,” Giles apologized.
“You clearly needed the sleep and it’s not as if I haven’t learned to keep myself company over the past couple years,” she stated matter-of-factly. “I read for pleasure now, check it out: Jane Austen.”
He put his glasses back on, sat up, and looked at the cover of the book. “Emma. Lovely read,” he commented. “Have you really been alone all this time?”
“For the most part,” she answered. “I traveled with an Australian couple when I was in Thailand. Sometimes I make friends where I am staying and sometimes I keep to myself, but it’s mostly been me, myself, and I.”
Keeping quiet and folding the blanket up, he knew his Slayer hated silence and would eventually fill the void by talking. He silently counted to thirty before she offered some more insight into her self banishment.
“At first it was hard. I wanted to be around people, but at the same time I didn’t. After a while, I would sit and meditate like you showed me and eventually I found my center. It took a long time, though. I came to grips with Dad’s death. I know it wasn’t my fault, but having so many issues unresolved between us at the time, and coming off the deaths of Spike and the baby Slayers, it was just too much.” Her stormy green eyes met his jade ones and he saw the acceptance therein. There was still pain, there would always be, but not the haunted look he had seen back in LA.
“Thank you for taking Dawn. I know...”
“It’s not a burden for me, Buffy, I wouldn’t have offered if it was something I didn’t want to do.”
“Oxford, huh?” she asked with a grin spreading across her face. He answered her question with a smile of his own. “Proud papa,” she teased, and he laughed.
They made sandwiches for dinner and spent the evening sitting on the couch together reading to each other from Buffy’s book. He marveled at the tonal quality of her voice as her tongue danced across the words. The language could be quite difficult if one wasn’t accustomed to it, but she had no such difficulty, and he was enchanted. When it was his turn to read again, he took the book from her and she curled up against his side as he continued the tale. Amused by her familiarity with him, he kept his free arm perched on the back of the sofa. After a couple chapters, he found that she had fallen asleep and he put the book down.
“Buffy... Buffy, sweetheart...” he called as he gently shook her. When she woke, he started, “It’s late, we should get some sleep since you have booked us on an excursion tomorrow.”
“Hmmm... okay.” She rose from her seat against him. “This was nice, Giles, thank you.”
He grinned. “It was. Thank you for inviting me here.”
“Will you watch the sunrise with me again tomorrow?”
Stepping into his space, Buffy gave him a hug before they headed up to their separate rooms.
The following morning they sat on the same outcrop of rocks watching the sunrise, but this time, she sat in his embrace, their proximity not an issue for either of them, and Giles wondered how it was that she fit so perfectly within his arms.
“I never cease to be amazed at how truly different each dawn is,” Buffy whispered as the sun rose above the waterline. “I used to come in from patrol, shower and fall asleep before the sun rose because I knew then that I had beaten back death, kept it at bay in the night. Now... now I want to face life, embrace it. I said yesterday that I’ve been chasing daylight. It’s true. The first daylight. I don’t feel the darkness anymore.”
He hugged her to him and returned in a hush, “You are the light, Buffy. When you beat back death in the night, you allow for the day to dawn. Now is your time to enjoy it. There are others who are happy to have taken up your mantle.”
“I know, and I am finally okay with that too. We did a good thing. No one fights alone anymore. The sacrifices were hard, but they weren’t in vain.”
“No, they weren’t,” he agreed, placing his chin on her shoulder as he watched the sun climb higher into the sky, and he smiled into her hair when she nuzzled her head against his cheek.
Sitting in the boat as they headed out to the reef to go snorkeling, Giles watched Buffy talk to the guide. She was smiling, wearing a wrap around flowing skirt and a light blue tank top, and when she looked over at him, her eyes twinkled. The moment seemed to last forever, like slow motion, and he knew in that instant that his heart didn’t belong to him anymore.
When the boat stopped and anchored, he pulled his snorkeling gear out of his bag, took off his glasses, and stripped down to his short blue trunks when he heard his Slayer come up behind him, “Wow, Giles, you stud, still keeping in shape, I see. Need some help applying the sunscreen in those hard to reach places?”
Slightly embarrassed, Giles turned around and nearly lost the power of speech. Buffy was standing before him in a red bikini and he got an eyeful of the curves he had noticed the previous morning, fueling him with images and fantasies that could very possibly last his lifetime.
“I... uh... that would probably be a good idea.”
“Alright, but you have to return the favor. The sun is intense at this latitude,” she stated as she turned him back around and started massaging the lotion into his neck and back. He loved the feel of her hands on his body and he tried to suppress the light moans that threatened to escape his throat, not entirely sure if he was successful in that endeavor. However, nothing compared to the sensations he felt when it was his turn to apply the sunscreen to her back. Her skin was like silk under his calloused hands, and she turned her head, reaching back to lift her hair for him. Their eyes locked, and when he started to rub the lotion in, she closed her eyes, letting out a soft sigh. Her lips parted and her breathing quickened when he ran his hands down her sides, and she turned ever so slightly towards him. Unable to resist her pull, he wrapped his arms around her and drew her into his body, lowering his head as she raised her hand to guide his lips to hers.
At that moment, the boat lurched in a wake as a speed boat zipped by. They both lost their balance and Giles did everything he could to push Buffy to safety as the momentum threw him out of the boat and into the ocean. Sputtering as he broke the surface, he looked up and found a very concerned Slayer waiting for him.
“Giles, are you okay?”
“Fine,” he called back as he swam towards her. “I’m in now, just throw down the gear.”
She joined him in the ocean, and they donned their masks, fins, and snorkels, exploring the reef and its wildlife. Taking the time to enjoy their surroundings, they also played in the water together, splashing, laughing, and dunking each other under the waves, and when the time came to head back, they were tired, hungry, and happy.
Later they ate dinner at the Chinese restaurant she had recommended, and afterward, the Watcher and Slayer spent the evening in the living room reading Emma to each other, much as they had the previous evening, except when Buffy curled up against Giles this time, he wrapped his arm around her.
The next couple days were spent watching the sunrise, exploring the island, and reading together. They rode camels in Timanfaya National Park, climbed Montana Roja, and spent time walking along the beach. They were almost always touching in some way, holding hands, pushing each other around when they were joking, and, whenever possible, they found excuses to hold one another. Saying good night took longer and longer as they hugged each other before retreating to their rooms, neither one wanting to say the final goodnight.
Lying on his bed that night, Giles reviewed the last few days he’d spent with his Slayer. He wasn’t an idiot, he knew what she wanted, and, ultimately, he knew what he wanted, but so far, he didn’t know what she wanted long term, and he wasn’t sure he could just have a fling in paradise only to head home without her. As it was, he was going to have an excruciating time of it if they were to part. It took a long time for sleep to overtake him and he groaned when he heard the early morning knock at his door.
“Hey Giles, time to go to the beach,” she called.
Rubbing his hands over his eyes, he responded, “Just a moment.” Pulling on the linen slacks and sandals Buffy had bought for him while they were out the previous day, he padded into the bathroom to splash water on his face and change his t-shirt.
Again they sat on a rock holding each other, waiting for the sun to make its appearance. As they waited, Giles decided to test the waters. “I talked to Dawn again yesterday while you were in the shower.” Feeling her stiffen in his embrace, he instinctively nuzzled his cheek against her hair and felt her relax.
“How is she?”
“Hurt that she hasn’t had a chance to talk to you, but she’s trying to be understanding. She passed along Willow and Xander’s love as well.”
“I’ll call her after the sun rises,” Buffy decided.
The Watcher smiled to himself. She was ready to stop running. If she realized it yet herself or not, he wasn’t sure, but what he was sure about was that he was now willing to risk his heart.
“She’ll be thrilled,” he stated, and moved his hand from around her waist, entwining his fingers with hers as she leaned back into him. He kissed her temple and closed his eyes, taking in her scent.
“Not to go all Beatles, but here comes the sun,” Buffy quipped, and the contented Watcher opened his eyes to welcome the day with her. He understood her fascination, but he found his focus wasn’t really where it was supposed to be.
They watched in silence as the sun broke through the horizon, announcing the arrival of the day. The surf rolled in and they were content to sit and hold one another, neither one wanting the moment to end. It was Giles who finally moved, taking a moment to look at his watch after the sky evened out to it’s normal blue hue.
“Dawn will be getting ready for school now. Are you ready?” her Watcher asked softly, pulling out his phone from his pocket.
“As I’ll ever be,” Buffy answered, turning to face him. “I just sort of worry that it will be like it was when I came back from LA that summer after killing Angel, or worse yet, after I died.”
“They’ve all grown a lot since then, Buffy.”
“I know, but I left you all with a huge mess... again,” she responded, gnawing on her lower lip and gazing at their footprints in the sand.
Giles lifted her chin with his forefinger, his pale green eyes reflecting his concern for her. “If they want to be mad at anyone, they can be mad at me. I told you to take the time you needed, and you did. Right now, it’s just a phone call. What happens after that is entirely up to you.”
They held one another’s gaze, both knowing his words had an entirely different meaning behind them than those pertinent to their conversation.
“How did I ever let you go all those years ago?” she breathed, searching his face for answers.
“I’m here now,” Giles answered barely above a whisper.
Dropping her gaze to the mobile phone in his hand, Buffy steeled her resolve. “Okay, call her.”
He nodded, dialed the number, and put the phone to his ear, “Good morning, sleepyhead, it’s Dad... yes... everything’s fine... the weather has been lovely and we’ve done a lot of sightseeing.” Looking over at his Slayer, he smiled apologetically. “Dawn, listen, your sister would like to speak with you...”
Pulling the phone away from his ear at the sound of the excitable teen screaming, Giles passed it to Buffy. He squeezed her shoulder and motioned that he was heading back to their place, allowing her to talk to her sister in peace. As he left the beach, he figured the call would probably cost him a fortune, but it didn’t matter.
He whiled away the time puttering around the house and getting things ready for breakfast when he noticed that an hour had almost passed. Worried that she hadn’t made it back yet, he walked back to the beach and found her still sitting on the rock, her eyes red from crying. Racing over to her, he thought that if Dawn had said something to upset his... Buffy... he would ensure that the girl would be grounded until graduation, perhaps longer.
“Buffy, are you alright?” Giles asked, crouching in front of her and handing her his white handkerchief.
“Mostly happy tears... I promise,” she sniffled. “And some regretful. She sounds so grown up. Oh, I made her late for school.”
He laughed, taking her hand in his. “I am sure she doesn’t care, and who am I to chide her for tardiness when she was given the opportunity to speak with you?”
Her lips twitched up into a small smile. “I never asked, do you have a picture of her?”
“I do.” He pulled out his wallet and fished out Dawn’s most recent school photo. Handing it to her, he said, “This was taken at the beginning of term.”
“Wow. That’s my baby sister.”
“Indeed. Most days, she’s still a bit of a goofball and her tendency to whine a little to try and get her way hasn’t faded as I would have hoped.”
Buffy laughed. “She told me how good you are with her.”
He ducked his head, slightly embarrassed, “Come on,” he said, standing up again. “I have breakfast ready and we should go back while I can still feel my lower extremities.” He offered her his hand and when she stood up, she embraced him.
“Thank you. We’re both so lucky to have you in our lives,” she declared, looking up at him.
“I’m the lucky one,” he murmured, his finger tracing her cheek.
“I want to see her, Giles... and Willow and Xander.”
His voice was soft yet husky, “Then we fly to London. When do you want to go?”
“Soon... day after tomorrow, maybe?”
“You tell me, and I will have the Council jet here, ready to take us home.”
“Traveling in style these days?”
“Being the boss has its benefits,” the Head Watcher responded, mesmerized by the look of amusement in her mossy green eyes. “Come on, let’s have some breakfast, shall we?”
They lounged around the bungalow the rest of the morning talking and reading together, and as Buffy read, Giles sat on the floor below her, enjoying listening to the sound of her voice and the calming touch of her fingers combing through his hair. After finishing the book and eating a quick lunch, they drove south to explore a couple of the coastal towns they’d missed earlier in the week. When the sun went down, they stopped and had a late dinner in Arrecife before returning to their bungalow.
As they walked through the door, Buffy asked, “I’m not really tired, do you think we could watch a movie on the DVD player?”
“I’d like that. Why don’t you choose the film whilst I get us some drinks?”
Halfway through the remake of The Thomas Crown Affair, Buffy got up to refill her glass of water and when she came back, she found her Watcher sprawled out on the couch. Glaring at him, she moved one of his legs off the sofa and settled herself between them using him as a backstop. Giles put his arms around her and she took one of his hands in hers.
The movie was full of sexual tension and intrigue, and Giles found himself half watching the movie and half watching Buffy as she lightly dragged her fingers along his left hand. Between the low lighting in the room, the film, and her touch, Giles was incredibly turned on. He responded to her caresses by gliding his fingers back along hers and he nuzzled his face into her hair, periodically kissing the top of her head, until he no longer cared what was on the screen. Even the light floral scent from her shampoo had an affect on him. Their fingers danced along the other’s, slow and methodical - light exchanges, but enough to cause their breathing to become erratic. When her fingers traced up his arm, Giles shivered, and she turned part way in his embrace.
Tracing his jawline with the back of her hand, she then ran her index finger over his lips. He held her gaze and kissed her finger. Buffy shifted so that she could lean down to kiss him, teasing him lightly, brushing her lips against his, until he ran his hand through her hair and around to the back of her head to take control.
He’d been waiting for this moment for days and as he applied more pressure to her lips, she parted them for him, her tongue peaking out, and he caressed it with his. He felt her hands exploring his chest beneath his shirt, and when she scraped one of his nipples with her fingernail, he tore his mouth from hers, letting out a strangled moan.
Buffy giggled at his reaction and pushed his shirt up over his head before licking and sucking her way up along the vein pulsating in his neck towards his ear. “You have a beautiful body, Giles,” she said appreciatively. “Wide shoulders...” she started a list as she kissed her way to each body part. “Well developed pecs... sensitive nipples...”
“Dear God, Buffy,” he gasped as she sucked the one she hadn’t teased earlier into her mouth and flicked it with her tongue.
Having finished her exploration of his chest, she moved further down, continuing her list, “Toned tummy with a cute little belly button...” and he writhed beneath her as she dipped her tongue into the dimple. “And now we come to the happy trail, Giles, so tantalizing...” she murmured as she made her way towards the button of his slacks.
He whimpered and pulled her back up his body, sitting up to kiss her along her neck and chin. He ran his hands along the outside of her legs and lifted her skirt before resting his hands on her hips.
“I didn’t get to show you how much I admire your legs,” she admonished, running her hands through his hair as she moved to straddle his lap, her forehead pressing against his as she lowered herself to grind against his hard groin. “Long and lean... powerful thighs.”
He looked into her eyes, moaning appreciatively as his hands trailed up her sides, taking her tank top with them, and she raised her arms over his head to help him remove the garment. She wore a lacy white bra and in the low lighting from the TV, he caught sight of her hardened pink nipples. Latching on to one with his lips, he nibbled and licked at it while he teased the other, rolling it between the forefinger and thumb on his left hand, enjoying the lascivious sounds coming from his Slayer as she continued to undulate against him.
“I think we need to move this party upstairs,” Buffy whispered in his ear before scraping her teeth along his earlobe.
“Wise idea,” he responded breathlessly. “Your room or mine?”
“Ours,” Buffy answered, settling herself back onto his thighs, her eyes searching his.
Steadying himself, Giles cupped her cheek, declaring, “I love you.”
She smiled at him, leaning in to kiss him, once, twice, three times, “I know... I love you, too.” Climbing off of him, she stood up, and offered him her hand.
Unable to stop kissing or touching each other, it took them a few minutes to make their way up the stairs, but when they finally made it to the top, the Slayer took his hand and opened the door that was once only her bedroom. He followed her in and she let go of him, turning to face him as she undid the clasp of her bra and shrugged it off.
Giles drew in a sharp breath. “Beautiful, Buffy, simply perfection,” he murmured as he stepped forward, taking her in his arms.
They made love slowly, and when he finally entered her, it was as though all the pieces fell into place. Everything they had been through had brought them to this place. He loved watching her above him, but quickly flipped her over and settled between her thighs when he felt them drawing close. Hovering above her he stopped his movements to look at her.
When she felt him still, she opened her eyes and claimed him, “Mine... my Giles.”
Lowering himself, he kissed her softly. “Always.”
It was then that they abandoned themselves to the physical sensations and let go. Giles increased the pace, rested his forehead in the crook of her neck, and she met him stroke for stroke.
“Take me over, Giles,” she begged, grabbing his backside with both of her hands.
He gently bit down on the pulse point of her neck and she screamed her release. The sensations of her inner muscles grabbing his cock threw him over the edge and he called out her name as he came.
As they lay in the afterglow caressing each other, the contented Watcher looked at the clock next to their bed. “It’s about time to greet the day, my love.”
“You don’t mind?” Buffy asked, knowing he had to be exhausted.
He rolled onto his side and brushed his lips against hers. “Get dressed,” he answered softly.
They took up their customary spot on the rocks, Giles holding her in his arms as the first fingers of light graced the sky.
“I figured it out a while ago... that we were supposed to be together. When I would watch the dawn break, there was only one person I wanted to share it with.”
“And when did you come to this epiphany?”
“The first time I stayed up to watch the sunrise from the high rise apartment I rented in New York. It was my last day in the city and I was leaving for Thailand that evening. After that, I sent you the invitation to meet me.”
“I’m sorry I didn’t figure it out sooner,” he replied regretfully.
“I probably wasn’t ready then,” Buffy responded insightfully, pulling her lover closer to her. “Doesn’t matter, we’re here now.”
Giles looked at his watch as he sat in his overstuffed chair in the library. Dawn would be home any minute. He had only beaten her home by an hour and left his leather bag in the hallway to herald his arrival when she walked through the door. It had been a week since he had met Buffy on the beach in Lanzarote and he knew his adopted daughter would be anxious for news of her sister.
Picking up the crime novel he had forgotten the week prior, he started to reread the first three pages.
“Dad!” A high pitched voiced squealed as he heard the front door slam shut.
“In the library, sweetheart,” he called back, steadying his voice.
The girl ran into the room, and launched herself into his arms as he stood up, “How are you? Is Buffy coming home? I got the highest mark in the class for that Shakespeare paper I turned in. Hey... you’re tan!”
Giles laughed at her babbling. “Well done! I’m fine. The holiday did me some good,” he stated with amusement. “I have something for you.” He held up an open box containing the olivine earrings and necklace from Buffy.
Dawn took it and inspected the jewelry, “They’re beautiful!” she admired, her voice unstable. “How... how was she? Is Buffy-”
“Hey, kiddo,” the Slayer greeted as she moved out of the shadows.
Dawn looked at her sibling, for once speechless, and started shaking as the silent sobs wracked her body. In an instant Buffy was at her side, pulling her into an embrace, allowing her tears to fall as well.
“Are you staying?” the younger girl asked when she finally found her voice.
“Yeah, I am. Forever,” Buffy replied, lifting her eyes to her lover and taking his hand. “I’ve finally caught up with the daylight.”
Giles gave Buffy a soft kiss on her lips before turning his attention to Dawn.
The teen’s eyes widened as a goofy grin crept to her face. “Oh. My. God!”