Listening
By Kim Wylie

Title:   "Listening"  1/1
Author:  Kim Wylie, Keeper of Giles' Adolescent Machismo
Email:  cliff@icom.ca
Distribution:  At my site:  http://www.angelfire.com/id/riordan under "Gilesean Stories".
Spoilers:  Major ones to _Hush_
Content:  Buffy/Giles
Rating:  PG
Disclaimer:  The characters belong to Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy and WB.  No copyright infringement is intended.
Summary:  A small Buffy/Giles bonding moment.  (This is unbeta'd - you've been warned. <g>)

This is for Lisa Jackson, cookies and all.


"He's awfully quiet."

Buffy looked up from her book at Anya's quiet statement.  She was curled up on Giles' couch, Willow was at the other end, and Xander and Anya were snuggling in a chair in a manner that Buffy didn't like to look too closely at.

"I'm worried about him," Willow said, in a hushed tone as well.

"Who?" Buffy asked, and was answered by three startled glances.

"Giles, of course," Anya said.

"He's always quiet," Buffy said, and was given three glares.  Confused, she added, "Well, he is."

"Not like this," Willow said.  Lowering her voice even more, she said, "Olivia left."

"She was only coming for the weekend," Buffy said, wondering what on earth she was missing.

Giles came into the living room with a mug in his hand, crossed over to the window, and looked out.

"Giles, do you want me to take Spike tonight?" Xander asked.

Giles half-turned and shook his head.  "No."

"Olivia's not coming back?" Anya asked.

"Uh, no," Giles said.  "She, um, had a flight to catch.  Her work..." he trailed off.

"She'd never seen anything like the Gentlemen before, had she?" Anya continued.

Giles looked uncomfortable.  "No."  He walked into the kitchen, dumped his tea in the sink, and went upstairs.

Everyone turned their attention back to Buffy.  "Are you going to go talk to him?" Anya asked.

Surprised, Buffy shook her head.  "No."

"Aren't you partners or something?" Anya continued.  "Olivia just dumped him.  Who else does he have to talk to?"

Defensively, Buffy said, "Giles doesn't talk about, well, stuff like that."  To prove her point, she added, "He never talks about Miss Calendar."

Softly, Willow said, "Every once in a while he does, a little bit.  If anyone listens."

Buffy stared at her.

"You're the closest one to him," Willow added.

All at once, Buffy realized that was true.  She looked towards the stairs and said, "Oh."  She caught Willow's glance once more, then closed her book.  "I never...he and I never really..." she started, then got up from the couch and went upstairs.

Giles' door was slightly ajar.  Buffy knocked, then entered cautiously. A single lamp was on.

"Giles, is it ok to come in?  I mean, you're decent, right?" she asked, thinking back to the time when she found him wearing a robe with perhaps nothing on underneath.  "Because I think we have different standards about how much should be covered up."  Then she stopped and looked down at her meager halter top in dismay.

He was in an armchair by the window, looking at her curiously.  He was wearing everything he'd been wearing before - shirt, pants, shoes - but he'd added a sweater overtop.

"Are you cold?" she asked.

"A little," he admitted.

"I don't think you've ever said that before.  In fact, Giles, you've always complained about the opposite."

"It's cold tonight," he said, in a tired voice.

As Buffy walked towards him, she noticed a bottle of scotch on the dresser.  She paused by it for a second, wondering if he'd just brought it up now or if it had been there through the weekend.  Then she continued to the side of the bed and sat down.  Now what? she wondered.

"Is there something you wanted, Buffy?" he asked at last.

"Uh, no," Buffy said, looking down at the carpet.  She understood that, technically, she was the closest one to Giles, but, at this moment, it was occurring to her just how little she actually knew about him.  "Um, about Olivia, is she coming back soon?"

Reluctantly, Giles said, "No.  Probably not."

"That's just because of the demons, right?" Buffy asked, and added quickly, "Of course that's what it is because, otherwise, I'm sure she'd be here.  With you."

She saw his guard come down, like the drop of a steel wall.

"Is she the reason you've come up here?" he asked in an emotionless tone.

"I wanted to check on you."

"It's fine."

"No."  At his swift look, Buffy added quickly, "It's my turn to say that to you.  The comforting thing, you know?"

He sighed.  "It's really not---"

"Giles," Buffy cut in.  "I remember how it felt when Angel left."  At her words, she saw a shadow cross his eyes.  "I don't know how close you were to her.  In fact, I don't know much about her at all.  I don't even know her last name."

"D'Abo," he said.

"Like the actress?"

"Who?"

"Never mind."  Buffy glumly eyed the carpet again.  It quieted between them, and she heard the door downstairs.  "I think the others left." From outside, she heard the metallic scrape of chains.  "Oh, and Xander's taking Spike."

He turned his attention back out the window.

At last, Buffy asked, "When did you meet her?"

To her surprise, he answered.  "Eleven years ago, in London.  She took a class I was teaching, in Babylonian culture."

"She's into old things?"  Buffy abruptly clapped a hand to her mouth. "I didn't mean old, like in old men.  Just because you're uh---"

"Old," Giles said.

"No, you're not.  You're just...older."

To her relief, a small smile touched his mouth.  "That isn't what you used to think, Buffy."

"Well, I matured."

He chuckled.

"Is she an archaeologist?"

"No," Giles shook his head.  "A model, actually."

"I could see that," Buffy said.  "She is lovely."

He turned to look at her.  After a few minutes, he said, "Yes."

"I'm sorry she left," Buffy said, meaning it.  "If you weren't unofficially my Watcher, maybe she ..."

"She didn't leave because of you," he cut in.

"*I'm* doing the comforting here, remember?" Buffy told him.  "It's *my* turn."  She got up, went over to his armchair, and settled on the arm. "I could go out and get you some ice cream."

"No," Giles said.  "Thank you."

"What about tea?  I could make some."

"Buffy, you don't have to---"

"No, I can make tea.  Anyway, I've watched you do it enough."  Buffy jumped up and hurried downstairs.  While waiting for the kettle to boil, she arranged cups and saucers carefully on a tray and readied the teapot.  After pouring out the tea, she put the rest of Willow's chocolate chip cookies on a plate and went back upstairs.

Upon seeing her, Giles rose to help, but she said firmly, "Sit!"

She put the scotch in the closet and shut the door, then put the tray on the table and carried everything over to his chair by the window.  She took her spot on the arm and poured out the tea.

"I warmed the kettle first and used leaves, not bags.  And I got the rest of Willow's guilt cookies, but I didn't bring any sugar.  You don't take sugar, right?"

Amused, Giles said, "No."

"See?" Buffy said proudly.  "I knew that."  She snuggled in against him as she sipped her tea.

They sat in silence for a while, listening to night noises outside. When she felt him relax against her, she asked, "Giles?"

"Hmm?"  He looked at her.

"How are you feeling?"

He smiled, a good smile this time, and the green in his eyes softened. "I feel just fine."

She grinned, then reached for a cookie.

END