DISCLAIMER: So not mine.
SPOILERS: Everything up to Afterlife (Season Six)
SUMMARY: The phone call between Giles and Willow mentioned in Afterlife. Also references to the 'almost statistically impossible' new friend of Giles'.
Rupert Giles sat in his new apartment, an upturned box as his seat, a framed picture in his hands. Tears fell down his cheeks as he looked at the young woman in the photo. Buffy Summers. The woman he had devoted to protect for his entire life.
'And what a fine job you did of that old man,' he thought bitterly.
Everything in Sunnydale had become far too hard for him to handle. He knew that running back to England was selfish, cowardly even, but…life the robot had affirmed, he had no place there anymore.
Plus, seeing Dawn everyday hadn't been helpful at all. She was beginning to look so much like her older sister that it was painful. Combined with the knowledge that it should have been Dawn that they had buried instead of his Slayer had been excruciating to bear.
A hesitant knock on the door startled him out of his reverie, and with a sigh, he stood up and moved to the door, not bothering to put the photo frame down. He wiped the tears from his eyes quickly and unlocked the door.
As he opened it, he was faced with a complete stranger of about thirty years old standing in front of him.
"Rupert Giles?" the man asked.
"Yes," he replied, half expecting the man to be a member of the Council come to extract the story of Buffy's death from him.
"My name's Daniel Taylor,' he said, stretching out his hand tor Giles to shake. Giles took it, juggling the photo frame into his left hand, still a little confused.
"I live across the hall," Daniel said, pointing to flat number eleven. "Emma, my wife, she's been at me for the past week to come and introduce myself, so…my apologies for not coming sooner."
"That's quite alright," Giles said, unsure of where to take the conversation from there. Thankfully, Daniel wasn't entirely shy. "So, how's the unpacking going?" he asked.
Giles opened the door further and gestured for Daniel to enter, letting him see for himself that the unpacking wasn't going at all well. He purposely didn't give Daniel a spoken invitation, and when Daniel entered freely, he almost breathed a sigh of relief.
"Ah," Daniel said, grinning widely as he took in the unpacked boxes. "You're as bad as my wife. After we got married, she just couldn't bring herself to start unpacking."
Giles smiled softly and indicated for Daniel to take a seat on a box.
"When does your furniture arrive?" Daniel asked.
"It's getting shipped from California. And…knowing the US Postal service, I might just have it by the end of next year," Giles said, attempting a small smile.
He rubbed his eyes which were still sore from several months worth of tears. He placed the photo frame down on the ground face up. Daniel whistled softly as he took in the face of the girl in the picture.
"She's gorgeous," he commented softly.
Giles opened his eyes and saw whom he was referring to. He nodded and picked up the frame, passing it to Daniel for a closer look.
"This picture come with the frame or are you lucky enough to know this stunning creature?" he asked, passing the frame back.
"I, uh…I knew her," Giles said, hoping that his voice wouldn't waver when he explained the answer to the question he knew would come.
"Girlfriend, wife, mistress?" Daniel guessed, a sly grin on his face as he waited for Giles to say that the girl was his daughter or his niece.
"I figured," Daniel said. "Is she your daughter?"
Giles shook his head. "It's…it's hard to explain. She uh…she was a pupil of mine."
Daniel raised his eyebrows suspiciously. "Were you two…together?"
"What?! No, no. Nothing like that," Giles said, surprised by Daniel's question.
Daniel felt himself sigh with relief.
"She's still in California then?" he asked.
He watched as Giles' eyes darkened, tears forming in the corners of his eyes once more.
"She uh…she passed away…nearly three months ago," Giles said, his voice giving out and tears breaking free.
"I'm sorry," Daniel said, immediately feeling guilty for his earlier teasing.
He didn't understand the relationship that Giles had had with this girl, but he could tell that her death had hit him hard.
Giles shook his head, mentally kicking himself for showing his weakness to a complete stranger. He wiped the tears away and quickly excused himself, racing to the bathroom.
Daniel sat in bewilderment of the other man, wishing that he could take back the conversation they'd just had. He stared at the closed door to the bathroom, listening as Giles tried to drown out the sounds of him trying to regain his composure with the lob running water from the tap.
The phone rang shrilling, startling Daniel and making him jump a little. He saw the phone laying on the floor between a suitcase and a flattened cardboard box. After a moments hesitation he answered the phone.
"Rupert Giles' apartment," he said.
"Oh…uh…hi," he heard from the other end. "Um…is Giles in?"
Daniel had to think for a moment before remembering that Giles was Rupert's last name. It seemed strange for this girl to be calling him Giles and he was certain that the girl had an American accent.
"Yes, he is. Can I ask who's calling," Daniel asked politely.
"Uh, it's Willow."
"Just a second," he said, placing the receiver onto the ground next to the cradle.
"Rupert, there's someone on the phone for you," Daniel said, speaking though the closed door uncomfortable. "She said her name was Willow."
The door burst open immediately, and Giles raced for the phone.
"Willow, is everything okay? Is Dawn alright? Social Service hasn't worked it out have they?" Giles asked hurriedly.
"Giles, calm down," Willow said, a small grin dancing across her face. "Dawn's fine and uh…well, we don't have to worry about Social Services anymore."
"What? Why? Did Mr Summers return?" Giles asked.
"No, he uh…he's still MIA," Willow said.
"Then what?" he asked, his mind searching frantically for other options of what might have gone wrong.
"It's nothing bad Giles, trust me," she said. "It's just…I think you should come back to Sunnydale."
"Willow, I do trust you, but…what could possibly be so important to get me to return? I told you that I needed to leave, and I thought you respected that decision."
"With Buffy gone…well…it was too hard for me to stay there."
"What if I told you she was back?" Willow blurted out.
Giles felt every thought except for one fly from his mind.
"What?" Giles asked incredulously.
"She's asleep upstairs," Willow said proudly.
"Willow, if this is some sort of a prank then-"
"It's no prank Giles," Willow interjected. "It's true. She's upstairs."
Giles felt his knees weaken and he knelt down on the ground, placing one hand on the floor in front of him for support.
"Dear lord," he whispered softly.
"She's back Giles. We got her back!" Willlow said happily.
"But…how? It's impossible….how could this happen?"
"Uh…it was a spell. I didn't think it would work, but…poof! She's back."
"You said that already," Willow said.
"Oh, um…I'm sorry. This is all…it's a little unexpected is all," Giles said, still trying to wrap his mind around what Willow had told him. "Dear lord."
He removed his glasses out of habit and began polishing them.
"Uh…do you think you can come home?" Willow asked.
"What? Oh, um…of course, home. I uh…I just need…I need a few days to…to sort things through here, but…I'll book a flight," he said, still bewildered.
"Good cos…she misses you. A lot."
"I know the feeling," Giles whispered. He coughed uncomfortably and shook his head, trying to regroup his thoughts.
"Tell her I'll be home mid next week," Giles said.
"Sure thing," Willow said. "Night Giles."
He heard the phone click and the tone went home. He placed the receiver down slowly and stared at the wall for a matter of moments.
Daniel watched him, trying to work out what Giles had just been told to make him so upset.
"Rupert?" he asked softly. No response. "Rupert?"
After a few seconds, he tried a different approach. "Giles?"
Giles looked up suddenly, remembering Daniel's presence in the room.
"Are you alright?" Daniel asked.
Giles stared at him blankly and gave a slight nod.
"She uh…my…Buffy, she's uh…she's alive," Giles said, unable to get his mind around that concept.
"Buffy? You're student?" Daniel asked.
Giles nodded and stood up shakily. He walked over to the kitchen, pulling out two cups and two saucers. Daniel followed him and saw Giles beginning to make tea.
"Do you want me to do that for you?" he offered.
"What? Oh, no…no that's fine. It's uh…it's a bit of a ritual really," Giles said, shock still written across his face.
His hands shook tremendously and he sat down for a moment on the kitchen stool.
Daniel just watched, feeling a little helpless. What exactly do you say to a man who has obviously just been given incredible news that he doesn't know how to deal with.
"Can I…can I get something for you? Do you…do you want help organising a flight back to California?" Daniel offered.
Giles shook his head vaguely. "No. No, it's fine. I can, uh…I can organise it all."
Daniel nodded, and tried again. "What about your apartment?"
"I'll uh…I'll speak to the landlord first thing," Giles said.
His eyes rested on a photograph that had been taped to the refrigerator. It was a group photo, Willow and Tara hugging, Xander and Anya hugging, and he and Buffy hugging as well. They had asked a passer-by to take a photo of them on a rare group outing, and the photographer had told Buffy and Giles to move in closer. Closer, it seemed, meant for Buffy to perch herself on Giles lap. Of course, he hadn't been complaining.
Daniel followed his gaze and saw the photo as well.
"Which one's Willow?" he asked.
Giles stood up and took the photograph down. He held it out and Daniel came and stood next to him.
"That's Willow there, with the red hair. Next to her is Tara, they're uh…"
"Together?" Daniel asked.
Giles coughed a little uncomfortably and nodded. "Uh, yes. And that's Anya. She works at the store that I own. And…that is Xander he uh…he's the closest thing I have to a son. And myself and Buffy."
Daniel couldn't help but raise his eyebrows at the position Giles and Buffy were in. The blonde girl seemed to be quite content to be sitting in his lap with his arms loosely around her waist and her arms around his neck.
"You thought of Buffy as your daughter?" Daniel pressed.
He watched Giles scowl at the thought. "Uh…our relationship was always rather…complex, for lack of a better word. I was…her mentor. We were uh…extremely close."
"I can see that," Daniel said quietly, still looking at the photo.
"Hmm? Oh, uh…I don't mean to be rude, but-"
"I'm already gone," Daniel said, heading towards the door. "Will you uh…will you leave a number where I can call you? Just in case?"
Giles hesitated but eventually nodded. If he was going to come back to England, it would be good to have friends, and Daniel seemed like a nice enough guy.
Giles pulled out a piece of paper and a pen, quickly jotting down Buffy's phone number from memory. Daniel resisted the temptation of asking him how he knew her number so easily.
"Hey, it was nice meeting you," Daniel said, a grin playing about his face. "I just hope that all of your days aren't this eventful."
Giles laughed a little. "All in a day's work."
Daniel nodded and quickly shook Giles hand. "Make sure you say goodbye before you leave, alright?"
Giles nodded and closed the door behind him. He leant against it, inhaling deeply. With the photograph still in his hand, he slid down the door, sitting on the ground. He covered the other four members of the group and stared at himself and Buffy, wondering if anything could ever happen between them.
He was, however, resigned to the fact that if she offered him only friendship, he would take what he could get.
He sighed, thinking of the past few months, before Buffy's death. Ever since Buffy's encounter with Dracula, she had been turning more frequently to hi. It was a nice change of pace seeing as she had practically ignored him for a year. Though, he could hardly blame her.
After his little speech about having to be independent and self-reliant, he was surprised to even be included at all. Plus, when the Initiative had wanted her, he had been a little glad that she was getting extra protection.
But, it was good for her to be back with him. Their friendship had got back on track, and they had never been closer. He found out a lot more about her, and he had revealed things to her that no one else had ever known.
Except, he had never told her that he had fallen in love with her, hard and fast.
Sometimes, he often wondered if she felt just a little for him as well. There were times when he thought he saw something there in her eyes for him. He smiled, thinking that now, he might just have a chance.