It was late; Giles had no idea exactly what time it was because he had no clocks in this room. Oh, if he really wanted to know the time he could put his glasses on and look at the LCD display of his VCR across the room, but he had no desire to do that. It was late, that was all he needed to know. Soon, perhaps, he would be able to sleep. The bottle of scotch he had opened only yesterday was almost gone and Giles believed, finally, tonight he would be able to sleep.
It was strange to him how peaceful things were now. Willow and Kennedy were off doing who knew what. He heard from them periodically, but for the most part they had taken to their newfound freedom and ran with it. Kennedy knew sooner or later she would need to return, she would need to train and hone her skills but for now she was fine.
Xander, well, he was having a hard time adjusting to life with only one eye but he and Dawn had gone to Los Angeles to stay with Hank Summers. Xander was employed, though Giles had not paid close enough attention to recall just what it was the young man was doing.
And Buffy, she had taken off shortly after her last success at saving the world for a European tour. Not that she did not deserve a little respite; Giles believed wholeheartedly that she did. On the other hand, every time he had tried to get away from Sunnydale and his responsibilities as a Watcher he kept getting sucked back into it.
Where was his European tour? Where was his break from reality? Giles had begun to believe he did not deserve one, that somehow he had been dealt a hand that while not bad never seemed to improve. It was not like him to be so pessimistic, but living alone with no one around him anymore gave him plenty of time to dwell on the unhappiness of things. He had never dreamed how important Buffy and her friends would be to keeping him sane and sober. Of course there were various stages to both sanity and sobriety.
A light rapping at his door brought him out of his dreary thoughts. He set his glass down and felt in the dark for his glasses. Once he had found them, he glanced at the VCR clock he had avoided looking at earlier and saw that it was close to midnight. He wondered if he hallucinated the knocking but then it came again and he realized he obviously was not that drunk.
He opened the door and thought for sure he was hallucinating when he saw his slayer standing on his doorstep. "Buffy?" he asked incredulously.
"Hi Giles," she said brightly. "It's nice to see you too," she said with a pout as if her appearing on his doorstep at this time of night was commonplace.
"Where are my manners," he said as he stepped aside, wordlessly inviting her in. He had broken down and bought a house outside of Cleveland. He had been tempted to return to London, but with the Council gone he thought close to the active hell mouth was the place for him. Of course, he had no Slayer to help him guard it, but Buffy was no longer the only Slayer out there. "Do you need a hand with your bags?"
"Nope, got 'em, Giles, thanks though," she said as she walked in his foyer taking it in.
He showed her into the living room. "What can I get for you, Buffy? Something to drink? Eat?"
"Look at you, Mr. House Owner all hospitable and everything. I'm fine. I could use a place to crash, though, if you don't mind."
"Not at all, you're welcome here for as long as you need to stay, you know that."
"I was hoping. I don't really want to head to LA right now."
"Did something happen?"
"No, I just," she shrugged as she set her bags down. Giles watched as her eyes took in the living room. "I'm Californiad out."
"As am I," he said dryly.
"Did I wake you?"
"No, not yet. I was about to go to bed, but I can show you to your room. I'm afraid the only other room I have made up will require you to share a bathroom with me."
"Hey, no problem, I shared one with Dawn for years, no big."
Giles smiled. "Right, of course."
"You've got all of these rooms and only one room made up?"
"I don't have guests very often, Buffy. Willow and Kennedy came by over a month ago, but that's about it."
"Any action here?"
"Not much, I'm afraid. Nothing I haven't been able to handle at any rate."
"Good," Buffy said simply.
"You look well," Giles said. He could not help but notice. The outfit she wore barely covered the parts that required covering. She was tan and Giles wondered if she had tan lines before he mentally kicked himself for thinking it.
"Thanks, I feel well. Europe was just what Buffy needed."
"Good," he said as he picked up one of her bags. "I'll take you upstairs."
He was ashamed to admit the room he led her to was one he had decorated with her in mind. It was feminine without being girlish and he hoped she liked it.
"It's great, Giles," she said as she walked to the window that overlooked the large backyard. He had wanted a house that would offer him privacy, and he had found it.
"I'm glad you like it, Buffy, and hope you will feel comfortable here. We can certainly set up a room for you elsewhere if these accommodations are not to your liking."
"What are you talking about, Giles, it's perfect. I'm just going to brush my teeth and stuff real quick before I crash. That flight was a killer."
"Yes, overseas flights generally are. Get a good night's sleep," he advised though he was not sure he remembered what a good night's sleep was anymore. "And we'll talk about your travels and Cleveland in the morning."
"Great, Giles," she said as she sat on the queen sized bed that would be her bed for the time being. She glanced at him, seemingly looking for something in his face. "I missed you."
"I missed you, too, Buffy, and am glad you're back healthy." It was on the tip of his tongue to ask if she was back for good, but he knew better than to get his hopes up. After over seven years of living her life for everyone else Giles doubted she had sowed her wild oats just yet.
"I am, healthy and happy." She stood from the bed and kissed his cheek. "I'll see you in the morning."
"I'll be here," he said with a slight grimace. A kiss to the cheek was not how he imagined things between them when next they saw one another months ago. He had hoped with Spike gone some time away would lead Buffy to him, evidently he could not have been more wrong.
He closed the door to the hallway after showing her how to lock the bathroom door from the inside for when she required privacy. There was another full bathroom on this floor, but it was not functional yet so this would have to do.
"Good night, Giles," Buffy called out through the closed door.
"Good night, Buffy," Giles whispered before descending the stairs in search of his unfinished scotch. Her surprise visit was welcome but it alone would not be enough for a peaceful night's sleep.
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com