One Month And One Day
One Month And One Day
Rating – PG13
Distribution – Gabi & Dee
Disclaimers – Buffy & Giles belong to Joss, ME, Fox, UPN…pretty much everyone but me.
Spoilers – Season 5, just to be safe
Notes – Heavy on the angst, even for me. ;-)
**EW gave me this idea and a start and told me to run with it. It was one of her many loved but underfed plot bunnies <g>**
**Thanks to Milkie for the excellent beta work**
"You have to do this for me Giles." Her voice sharp and brittle as anger began to edge out compassion as the discussion became more heated.
Giles turned away. His voice reminding her that he was somewhat drunk and so very close to the edge of desperation "Go h-home Buffy. I h-have done an’ been ev’rything you asked. Please, don’t…don’t do t-this, don’t ask this o’ me. I won’t…I can’t…" He searched for his abandoned tumbler and saw it on the counter. He reached for it, desperately needing the contents. He gripped the glass tightly causing the amber liquid within it to swirl. He knocked back the numbing liquid in one swift motion.
Her eyes narrowed in disgust as he walked over to the bottle of scotch and again filled the glass. She took a deep cleansing breath, knowing she would only push him farther away if she lost her temper again.
"I know this is hard for you Giles…."
He whirled on her, his fury barely contained. "You know? You…know?"
He walked towards her slowly. His unsteady pace reminding her again why the bottle behind him was three-fourths empty.
She kept her voice calm. "That’s not an answer, Giles."
His eyes filled with regret and pain as he searched for any sign that she truly didn’t want to do this, to keep putting him through this singularly created hell. He found none. His eyes misted as he spoke softly, his heart in his throat. "Sometimes I just don't have all the answers."
She felt a sharp stab somewhere inside but refused to think about it. She watched as he emptied and refilled the glass yet again and anger and spite won the ongoing battle within her. "Well you sure as hell won’t find the answers in the bottom of that."
He roared in anger and hurled his glass of scotch to the floor, spraying the room with shards of glass and scotch fumes. His broad shoulders shook with the force of his rage and he slammed his fist through the glass display case on the counter.
Buffy thought her heart had stopped. Never, never had she seen him so out of control.
"Giles! Oh my god, your hand, is it…."
He waved her words off as he walked away from her, his anger turning inward as he walked through the shattered remnants of the display case. He deliberately ignored the throbbing in his hand and as well as the blood dripping down his fingertips, leaving a crimson trail on the floor.
The pain cleared his alcohol-fogged brain. His anger with himself becoming stronger as he realised she was lost to him. He had merely been an escape for her that night, nothing more, at least nothing more to her.
One month and one day.
His life had fallen apart in that insignificant amount of time. Again, he was what he always was to her-- a service, a tool for her to use as needed -- nothing more.
He had no choice. He never did. His voice was controlled, hardly above a whisper. "I’ll do it. If that’s the only answer you’ll have, I’ll do it."
He gave a groan of pain and sank into the back wall. "Get out. Just…leave me in peace for now. Tomorrow, it…I’ll do as you ask. Tonight, I just…I’ll…tomorrow."
Buffy turned and fled.
He slid down the wall and didn't even attempt to stop his grief from manifesting. Harsh tears hot on his skin. He drew his knees up to his chest, as silent tremors shook him. His head sank down into his hands; the salt from his tears stinging the bloodied cuts in his hand.
"Oh Buffy. I don’t think I have it in me to do this. I don't even know where to look, where to start. I cannot cease to love you and still breathe…Oh Buffy, I cannot…."
The tremors racked his long frame with devastating intensity.
Buffy ran down the street, tears falling, gulping air as she ran. God, but she was tired. She stopped dead in her tracks, breathing hard. Oh how she’d missed him. It had been one month since she’d seen him. One month and one day. And she’d been so lost without him. Dawn even telling her she was acting like a zombie again.
Giles was her constant, her life, especially now that her mother was gone. Although it had been three months since she’d been buried, Buffy could still smell her perfume everywhere she went. It was so hard to go on now. She’d had to be everything for Dawn lately and without having Giles’ strength to draw from now, she was emotionally drained. What would she do if he wasn’t there anymore? She shook her head. No, it didn’t make any sense.
She knew, she knew, he’d agree.
The thought filled her with self-loathing. Her conscious questioned her harshly: Does it matter to you at all that once he agrees, you’ll have broken him? Does it? Does it matter to you at all? She put her hands to her head and squeezed, desperate to stop the questions.
Again, she wondered for the hundredth time why it ever happened in the first place. She cried out into the night. "Why! Why?" She sank to the pavement, drained. She knew why, she thought wryly. He could never refuse her that’s why. He could never refuse her and…and he …loved her.
Oh how he loved her.
She snorted aloud, her voice dripping with sarcasm. "Yea, Buff, make yourself feel even better about this why don’t you? You turn the best man you know practically into an alcoholic in one month…okay one month and one day that is… And how did you do that? Oh! I know! Because a month ago you begged him to stay with you for just one night. Just one night you said. Which he does after lots and lots of convincing on your part, and then he tells you he loves after giving you, by the way, the most incredible sex you’ve ever had in your life and then, bitch that you are, you completely ignore him afterward." She ran her hands roughly over her face. Her verbal self-discussion becoming more heated. "That is until…until tonight when you just have to see him." She laughed hysterically, dropping her head in her hands. "Ah hell, it just made so much sense two hours ago." She groaned in frustration and her colour rose as she realised what she’d done to him. How deeply she’d hurt him. Her voice was becoming more harsh and angry with each word. "He loves you. This wonderful man loves you and you ask him to pretend that night never happened because you can’t deal with it. How can you do that? He loves you!"
She broke down into deep heart rending sobs wondering why it hurt so much if it meant so little.
In that split second, the instant she asked herself the question, she knew the answer. It crashed into her with astonishing force and left her with serene clarity.
She took a steadying breath as she looked up at the trees; the leaves rustling in the wind. The sky behind them becoming a canvass of molten colours as the sun began its descent. She lifted her face and the breeze caught her and carried her to simplicity.
It was a beautiful moment, one she would cherish always.
The moment she first knew what it truly meant to love someone.
She saw his heart everyday; she just didn’t know it. He was a compassionate and generous man. Had she overlooked it all this time or had she chosen to ignore it? No matter what she had done to him, he'd always been there. He'd never left her. Even when he'd been ready to turn his back and leave. He'd stayed; stayed because he loved her enough to sacrifice himself for her again and again. She was chasing the wrong dream. Clinging to Angel’s memory and pining for an absent Riley. Chasing down love where she could never find it. She didn’t really love either of them. Deep down she knew she never had. It was Giles she loved, Giles whose heart she ached for.
She stood slowly on shaky legs, trying to keep herself in check. Tears formed in her hazel pools as she remembered how utterly destroyed he’d looked when she ran out.
She turned her head sharply in the direction of the Magic Box. He had been bleeding. What if? "No!" She took off running as fast as she could.
She was winded when she again arrived at the door to Giles’ store. No matter how hard she tried, she could not make herself open the door. Her heart was beating frantically and her hands were clammy. She wiped them hurriedly against her jeans, trying to stop them sweating. She breathed deeply, put her hand to the cold metal handle and turned it.
She pushed the door open slowly, not wanting to have the bell ring as she walked in quietly, closed the door behind her, and locked it.
Seeing the shattered glass and splintered wood cascading across the floor, she took a sad breath. The smell of scotch was almost overpowering. She clenched her hands in anger. Angry with herself for having driven him to this.
Hearing no sound, she began to panic all over again. Walking past the counter, she saw him… and her heart stopped. He looked so helpless. He was sitting with his back against the wall, his arms around his knees, and his head was bent. She wanted to scream when she saw blood on his neck, his arm and his slacks and prayed it all came from the cuts on his hand. He didn't move as she approached him.
She knelt beside him, aching to touch him and whispered quietly, "Giles…."
He made no move so she gently reached out to grasp his bloodied hand.
He started violently and she gasped audibly as he looked up.
He made no effort to mask the misery in his moist green eyes---he looked utterly bereft.
That was the only word Buffy could think to explain the look on his face. As she witnessed the depth of his pain, her view of him began to blur. It was only as he reached up towards her to brush away her tears that she realised she was crying.
"Hush now. It breaks my heart see you so." He smiled sadly at her.
Her eyes widened, he always thought of her first. Even in the midst of his own grief. Her chest tightened and her throat closed up. She looked away, ashamed, not knowing what to say.
Instead, she tore off the lower part of her tee shirt and stood up, offering her hand to Giles. He looked at her quizzically but took her hand as she helped him to stand.
Walking him back to the bathroom in silence, she turned on the tap and pulled him forward. He winced in pain as she placed his hand under the running water and began cleansing the gashes. Relieved to see the bleeding had stopped and that none of the cuts were deep enough for stitches, and feeling no glass, splinters or other debris remained, she wrapped his hand neatly in the torn tee shirt. She tore off more of the shirt and ran it under the tap, wrung the excess water out of the cloth and began to softly wipe the blood away from his arm and then removed the bloodied streaks on the left side of his cheek and neck. It felt so intimate to both of them. Neither able to speak as she finished her task.
When she finally looked up, she saw his eyes. Such emotion, such loss. A single tear escaped from him and she watched it travel down his roughened cheek. Without thought, she reached out and caressed it with her thumb, stroking back and forth, needing to touch him, to know that she could touch him.
She felt him shiver and heard his sharp intake of breath. He leaned into her touch before pulling away and sinking down to the floor.
He dropped his head, his voice hoarse, "Don’t, Buffy. It’s too much. I’ve agreed. What more do you want? I’ve n-nothing left. Nothing." The last was barely above a whisper as he began to feel the tremors overtake him again.
Sinking to her knees in front of him, she reached over and pulled him into a tight embrace, rocking him back and forth cooing softly in his ear.
"I love you Buffy," he said softly as he buried his head in her shoulder, inhaling her scent. She grasped him tightly to her and placed a kiss on top of his head. Her tears falling into his soft, dark hair.
"I know Giles, I know." Her voice dropped and she laid her head atop his, rubbing her cheek against the soft crown. "I love you too. Please forgive me Giles, please…."
He held onto her tighter, his breath hot on her throat. "Anything Buffy. For you…everything. Always, Buffy, always. I miss Buffy so…so long without her…so long now…" his voice breaking to a lost whisper, before he closed his eyes, leaving this reality behind.
She shook her head sadly, her eyes bright once again as she realised he was past the edge, speaking more to himself than to her. She pulled him closer.
"Oh Giles, everything will be okay. I promise…I promise I’ll make everything okay."
Somehow, she would explain everything. When he came back to himself, she would tell him. For now, she simply held him, letting her love envelop him and rocked him to sleep.