The Depth of Night
By Jacqui

Title: The Depth of Night
Author: Jacqui
wily_one24@yahoo.com.au
Rating: G
Disclaimer: The characters belong to Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, Fox and the rest of the gang. The song belongs to somebody, I’m sure, but I couldn’t be bothered looking up all the details, just know I’m waiving any claim to them.
Spoilers: Season four up until "Who Are You?"
Feedback: Oh please, oh pretty, pretty please.
Comments: After hearing this song, how could I not write something? This is a really quick fic, there’s not much plot at all. Just something to sate my muses.


He did not know how he got himself into this situation. Every single time he fell into it. The one, endless pattern of his life. Buffy was in his arms, sitting on the sofa crying into his neck asking him, yet again, to defend the latest boy that had broken her heart. Of course he would, yet again, do exactly that, because that was what she needed. But it was awfully hard not to growl out loud, find Riley and beat him into a senseless, bloody pulp.

"He slept with her."

"Yes, Buffy, but he had no reason to believe that your body wasn’t you. He hasn’t seen everything we’ve seen."

His words tasted bitter in his own mouth, he didn’t believe a word of them. She sniffled and snuggled in closer, unaware of the discomfort she was causing him. Not that it was an unpleasant discomfort, he would have stayed here forever with her in his arms, but it ached in a way that he couldn’t define.

"You would have known, you wouldn’t have told her…"

She paused. Giles wondered what he would have done in such a position. Would he have known? Something in the back of his head told him that, had he found himself in such a predicament, he would have known far before things had gotten serious.

"It wasn’t me. It wasn’t me and he didn’t know."

"There was no reason for him to know."

"But I’m not like that! Every time we’ve been together it’s never been like that. I’ve always…"

"Buffy, please!" Giles stood up. Buffy tumbled out of his arms and onto the sofa, she looked up at him, confused, perhaps a little wounded. He couldn’t look at her as he began to pace.

"What? Giles?"

"I can’t do this, Buffy. I don’t want to know what it’s like. I don’t want to hear what it’s like with Riley, or with Parker, or with Angel!"

Buffy flinched as if she’d been slapped. She stood up quickly and faced him. Blood rushed to her cheeks and she lunged out at him with anger, because anger was preferable to the sudden hurt at his attack and the confusion that this hurt bought her.

"Of course you don’t want to know what it’s like. You can’t remember what it’s like!" Even before the words had left her lips she knew how wrong it was. She added shame to her collection of emotions that coursed through her.

"That’s enough, Buffy!"

"Why? I don’t have to be ashamed of what I do!"

"No, no, of course not. That’s not what I’m saying."

"Then what are you saying? Why does it make you so uncomfortable to hear about me with another man? Why are you suddenly acting like a jealous boyfriend?"

And then she knew.

Before the sudden rush of blood up his neck and over his cheeks, before the little strangled choke that came from his throat, even before the deep hurt that seeped into his eyes, Buffy knew that her words were a little too close to home. And as they stood there, the silence deafening between them, she did not know exactly how she felt about it.

"Oh my God."

"Don’t." He didn’t think he could take the inevitable disgust he expected in her eyes. It would kill him. He didn’t want her sympathy, her pity, this would change everything. Every single time he’d wished that he could tell her, that she would know, came back to taunt him now and he cursed himself.

"How long?" She spoke softly, cautiously.

Giles shook his head.

"It doesn’t matter, Buffy, just…" Giles sighed. "Just forget about it."

"No!" She stepped in front of him. "I don’t want to forget about it. How long?"

"I can’t do this." He walked away.

"You will do it! Giles, talk to me!" Buffy stamped her foot on the floor. It made her feel unbearably young, but she couldn’t help herself. For some, unknown, reason she had to know the answer, it was vitally important and she didn’t know why.

"Fine!" Giles spun around and glared at her. "Four years! Is that what you wanted to hear? As long as I’ve known you, that’s how long!"

Buffy’s mouth formed a little ‘oh’ and her face sagged just a little. Understanding flooding her eyes.

"Are you happy now? Does it make you feel better?"

"No, not really." And that was the truth. A million little memories, scenes from their past, things they’d talked about, they all flooded her brain. It occurred to her that it wasn’t a bad thing, in fact, she was warming to the thought.

"I think it’s time you left, Buffy."

The words washed over her like a tidal wave.

"But…"

"I don’t want to talk about it anymore. You know the truth, there’s nothing more to say."

Giles walked up the stairs and closed the bedroom door after him. The slow, definite sound of the door closing made it clear to her that she was not welcome to follow. And why would she be? Asked a little voice in her head. How many times have you used him again and again, flaunted Angel and the others in his face?

And thus began the beginning of the end. Buffy knew, whenever she looked back, that it had all started that night. When he moved back to England less than a month later her heart broke, harder and more cleanly than it ever had before. All the times she had cried on his shoulder and now she was crying longer and deeper and she didn’t even have him to comfort her.

* * * *

Giles begged his way out of another evening at the local pub. Sure, there’d be laughter and beer and good conversation, but there was always that moment at the end of the night when everybody would say goodbye and he’d be left standing alone. It was a bitter pill to swallow. Much easier were the nights he started off alone.

So he stayed longer at the Museum, doing a few last minute things, as everyone else went off to drown their troubles. He let himself smile slightly as he remembered a line that George had told him one day. "I tried to drown my troubles, but the little bastards learnt how to swim."

He decided to walk back to his apartment, it wasn’t a bad night out. The stars shone in the sky, somehow they were never quite as bright here in London as they were back home. Back in Sunnydale, he quickly corrected himself. It had been a long time since there was home.

His apartment was empty. That was no surprise. It felt so much larger than it really was, because there was no one to share it with, no voices joking and laughing. He sorely missed the children, no, not children. They had long since left the ravages of childhood behind. There was only one choice, he placed the CD in the stereo, poured himself a scotch and pressed play, letting the words consume him.

-You won’t hear me sigh, when we say goodbye, I won’t find it hard to forget, memories will fade, quicker than the shade, and I won’t waste a day in regret… and yet-

He let mind return to where he knew it wanted to go. What he missed most cruelly of all. The saucy bounce of a blonde ponytail, the gleam of brown eyes shining with laughter, the defiant lift of a chin. Buffy. Too many times he found himself wishing for her.

-In the depth of night, I’ll be thinking of her, walking where it’s light, with the sunshine on her face, but in a place so far away from here. And when it grows light, she’ll be sleeping softly. In the depth of the night, with the moonlight on her hair and that is where my thoughts will stray from here-

He was a fool, he was a bloody fool. He’d had no business acting so rashly, but he couldn’t help it. At the time it had cut so deeply, so cruelly, that he had had no choice but to leave. If only she’d said something, anything, to let him know how she’d felt.

-In the light of day there are distractions, of another world that may have it's attractions, there'll be other roads to take and different plans to lay, and others who will make the night seem bright as day. And in the depth of night, it won't matter who was wrong and who was right, for there'll be no fiery spark to spoil the dark, in the depth of night-

Oh, how many times did he throw himself into the distractions of his daytime duties? The work of the Museum a blessed change from his moping. And did he even care at all who had been right? Had either of them really been right? The details had blurred with time and only the regret remained.

-By the early morning glow, where nothing looks the same, I'll find it's time to go and play it safe again. Still in the depth of night, I'll recall her eyes, both angry and alight, and I think one may surmise, I'll miss those eyes, in the depth of night-

Her eyes. Those deep brown pools that could express so much more than any form of communication. How he missed those eyes, how he missed seeing them brighten as she looked at him, how they filled with laughter or tears, every emotion dancing in them.

-Give way to dawn and in it's brightening, one can banish the forlorn, as quick as lightening, but the very moment when the nighttime falls again, until the early light comes creeping, someone somewhere won't be sleeping-

His hand came to rest over his telephone, his heart aching to call her, to hear her voice. To say he was sorry. To hear her scream at him, accuse him. Anything. He missed her so much. But what right had he to ask such things from her now? He had failed her as much as, if not more than, any of the boys he had cursed from the sideline.

-In the depth of night, I may wonder what she’s doing, in the light, and from time to time, if she might think of me, in the depth of night-

Giles drained his glass and refilled it. He hoped that, whatever she was doing right now, Buffy had forgotten about him and was happy. The thought of her suffering because of him was the worst feeling in the world. Surely she would be happy now, he couldn’t have left for nothing, the fates would never be that cruel.

END


The song "In The Depth of Night" is sung by the character Phineas Phogg, in the stage production of Around The World In 80 Days. If you want to hear Anthony Stewart-Head, himself, sing these words while you read the fic, go to http://www.geocities.com/TelevisionCity/2434/depthnit.html and download. J