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FIC: At Last

Title: At Last
Fandom: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, post-S1
Characters: Giles
Word Count/Rating: 640; G
A/N: Written for the Giles round at genfic_minis for alixtii, who wanted British rock and roll, hieroglyphics, and a conference call. This is quite late, due to RL stomping in last week and sitting on me. Like an elephant. I'm so sorry it's taken me so long to get my thoughts together again.


Giles had been looking forward to this since the morning of that first day at Sunnydale High School, when a smirking senior interrupted Giles’ survey of the grimoires to ask for Penthouse. Half an hour ago the last student had scurried off to the beach or the mall or whatever unutterably Californian place it was these teenagers went during summer hols, and now Giles locked the library doors knowing no one but the janitorial staff and the last of the renovation crew could burst in on him.

He took a moment, forehead to the wood veneer and eyes closed, and listened to the peace. No clamor of voices; no lockers slamming shut. Something clattered distantly: a chalkboard eraser, perhaps, fumbled by a teacher hurrying to leave.

Doubtless they all found their homes more appealing than their classrooms.

He turned and skirted the main floor, where gaps in the tiles remained although the worst of the damage was cleared away – the bookcases mended or replaced, the litter and glass all swept. He’d still to finish bringing the books in order, but that was a project for another day. Now he turned into his office and spread out scans of this latest find from the black market bazaars of Alexandria. A man mustn’t lose his skills in trade.

After ten minutes of unnatural quiet he took Buffy’s training CD player from its cabinet. It took only another five minutes of fiddling before he had the CD loaded: The Who’s Lifehouse - a gift from Buffy after she’d realized he owned no CD’s. “Rock for old English people,” she’d called it, tentative, uncertain. He’d thanked her gravely, somehow not wanting to let on how near his tastes she’d come. Now it broke the stifling silence, allowing him to work.

At four thirty-one – he’d have to adjust that wall clock again – the phone rang.

“Giles speaking.”

Through the intercontinental crackle came Travers’s secretary, inquiring. In moments there were others on the line: not just Travers himself, but Watterson and that new man, Hyde, whom Giles had only met the once before setting off to meet his Slayer. Wonderful thing, this modern technology, Giles thought. Second-guessing from multiple voices at once. How refreshing.

He bit back the unexpected bitterness and let the men talk, answering their questions, describing the Master’s final defeat. He assured them of the Hellmouth’s restored slumber, of Buffy’s continued health; he didn’t mention the summer departure of the latter from the former. Had it really been only a month since the last of these interrogations? And had it felt an interrogation then?

Watterson was on about the Codex now, wanting scans, probing Giles on the subject of just how he’d obtained it. Giles answered briefly; now was not the time to mention Angel.

Giles traced the lines of a hieroglyph on his notepad and waited for them to finish.

Finally they had, their questions all asked if not always fully answered. Weary, Giles set the telephone back in its cradle.

It was the prophecy, he realized as he straightened his lexicographies and his translation of the Book of the Dead. It was the moment he’d told Buffy she would die. Some unfelt loyalty had stretched and snapped.

He finished tidying his desk. It was after six now; dinner from the least appalling of the Sunnydale establishments would be best, so that he could continue work on these scans of the Alexandria stones straightaway.

He stopped at the library door with coat and book bag in hand, listening again to the quiet. No students asking ridiculous questions; none of Buffy’s friends making inscrutable allusion to American popular culture or leaving donut crumbs on the study table. Buffy herself gone for a well-deserved rest, leaving him to mull over his studies in peace.

As he locked the door behind him, he admitted to himself how very long a summer it would be.



( 33 comments — Leave a comment )
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Apr. 3rd, 2010 03:18 am (UTC)
Aw - and probably a very good look at a lonely time in Giles' life. Nicely done.
Apr. 3rd, 2010 01:51 pm (UTC)
Thank you! It seems to me he must have had an awfully quiet summer...
Apr. 3rd, 2010 06:04 am (UTC)
It’s unusual to see something so short succeed so well in capturing an entire atmosphere — not only of place but of mood — so well.

This was excellently done.
Apr. 3rd, 2010 08:16 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! I'm particularly fond of libraries and library quiet myself, so it didn't take too much of a stretch to appreciate Giles' feelings. :)
Apr. 3rd, 2010 07:14 am (UTC)
I loved his realization of the moment when his loyalties were transferred. Perhaps it was her second death that made him transfer them back again: his heart had to protect itself against yet another possible loss.

Still his empty nest syndrome is quite acute at this juncture. Excellent job capturing his little rebellions and his little responsibilities. Not so different from Buffy, in that.
Apr. 3rd, 2010 09:12 pm (UTC)
his heart had to protect itself against yet another possible loss.

That's the explanation that makes the most sense to me. I'm just to the point in the rewatch where he announces leaving again, and oh I'm gonna hurt for Buffy.

Excellent job capturing his little rebellions and his little responsibilities.

Thank you! Until I read your comment and looked back, I hadn't realized just how many of each there were. Yay subconscious. :)
Apr. 3rd, 2010 07:52 am (UTC)
I love your Giles voice here. :)
Apr. 3rd, 2010 09:14 pm (UTC)
And it's a vote of confidence from the Giles connoisseur! Yay!
Apr. 3rd, 2010 09:34 am (UTC)
This is phenomenally atmospheric - I love it.

The Who’s Lifehouse - a gift from Buffy after she’d realized he owned no CD’s. “Rock for old English people,” she’d called it, tentative, uncertain.

Aww - that's lovely. :D
Apr. 3rd, 2010 10:20 pm (UTC)
Yay! Even though, uh, I think the reason it comes across as so atmospheric is because nothing happens in it. *g*

And yes, after all those music questions, it all came down to one line. Originally, though, there was going to be a whole scene of Ripper and music and magic back in the 70's. Alas.
Apr. 3rd, 2010 10:38 am (UTC)
Mmm, lovely stuff. I do like this early Giles, still enough of a Council man to have his little tics (the inaccurate clock especially!) but just breaking bonds he barely recognises too.
Apr. 3rd, 2010 11:58 pm (UTC)
Yay! I'm so glad you liked the clock. I've never written something this early in the series before, so I hadn't previously given Giles at this stage a lot of thought. But I like thinking that the seeds to his defection in "Helpless" were sown this early.
Apr. 3rd, 2010 03:31 pm (UTC)
Things that I love in this:
1) Buffy gets the right present--because she may look blonde but she's something else.
2) The renovation works--because it's easy to forget that there is always cleaning and fixing things after the big crisis.
3) The consideration about when the slight shift in loyalties starts, that will lately bring forth the better Giles.
And I loved the silence and the surprise that he has in finding the solitude somewhat unpleasant.
Apr. 4th, 2010 12:01 am (UTC)
Yay, lists! I'm so glad you liked all those things. Yep, one of the underappreciated facts of action movies/tv is all that property damage. Always makes me cringe a little.

I hadn't thought before about when that shift of loyalty would happen, but as I was writing this it made sense to me that at least the beginnings of it would happe pretty early.

Thank you for the lovely comment. :)
Apr. 3rd, 2010 04:02 pm (UTC)
I love fic that looks at the characters between seasons 1 & 2, after that traumatic Spring Fling night. Love the details here, too. The renovation, the quiet, the CD player briefly disturbing the quiet, the realization growing in Giles that his loyalties have shifted somehow, possibly before he realized it was possible to have a conflict between loyalties.
Apr. 4th, 2010 12:44 am (UTC)
Thank you for the lovely comment! I've read very little fic from this timeframe, so I kind of felt like I was wading through murky waters. I like thinking of Giles' loyalties beginning to shift this early, though, long before "Helpless."
Apr. 3rd, 2010 04:34 pm (UTC)
You are so good. I was right there - It must be all the perfect little details.
Apr. 4th, 2010 12:45 am (UTC)
Yay! I'm so glad you enjoyed it. I love libraries, so I think it was easier than usual to appreciate my character's view of things here. :)
Apr. 3rd, 2010 04:53 pm (UTC)
nice work...and yeah a little lonely.
Apr. 4th, 2010 12:57 am (UTC)
Thank you! Yes, I think Giles must have spent a fair amount of time being lonely over the course of the series, but those summers when Buffy was gone must have been the worst.
Apr. 3rd, 2010 05:21 pm (UTC)
You've caught the moment of transition wonderfully.
Apr. 4th, 2010 02:48 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! I hadn't given Giles this early in the series much thought before; I'm glad he came across all right. :)
Apr. 6th, 2010 12:09 am (UTC)
Alone at last...be careful what you wish for was made for Giles in this scenario. You captured the moment well.
Apr. 6th, 2010 02:07 am (UTC)
Yep. A little bit more quiet than he was expecting, I think. I'm glad you enjoyed it. :)
May. 1st, 2010 01:19 pm (UTC)
Yes, poor Giles must have had a lot to reflect on.
May. 1st, 2010 01:35 pm (UTC)
And more time to do so than he really wanted, maybe.

Thanks for dropping in. :)
(Deleted comment)
May. 1st, 2010 05:01 pm (UTC)
Personally, I've yet to reach that point, which I think gives me an extra pang of sympathy for Giles here - the poor man, to have his psyche forced to such extremities! OTOH, I've had friends who can only work in that environment.
May. 1st, 2010 08:43 pm (UTC)
A lovely look at how much had changed for Giles in just a few short months and how his loyalties had already shifted.
May. 1st, 2010 11:41 pm (UTC)
That Council mentality doesn't seem to survive much real-world experience, does it? At least not judging from Giles and Wesley.

I'm so glad you enjoyed. Thanks for commenting!
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