Author: Hickumu PM
Post "Becoming", pre "Anne". Even as the body heals, the mind still suffers. His fingers may be healing, but the hallucinations are only getting worse, harder to ignore. He finds himself forgetting that she's dead, when she appears before him and smiles. Fortunately, an old friend decides to pay a visit to surprise him, only to receive a surprise of her own at what she's missed.Rated: Fiction T - English - Angst/Hurt/Comfort - R. Giles & Olivia - Words: 1,612 - Reviews: 2 - Published: 01-03-13 - Status: Complete - id: 8869943
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Really, all I have to say here is that writing post Season 2, pre Season 3 fic for Giles is a bitch. Because he has no one to talk to, and wouldn't if he did, and it's a very, very fine line between angst and melodrama that I have completely failed to tread before.
Fortunately, my usual co-author reminded me of the existence of Olivia. She was at least able to keep the story moving past the sidewalk.
The worst part, when all was said and done, was having no one.
Or maybe that was the best part, the most fortunate. After all, without anyone to help, he had to get better. He had to keep going. There was a town depending on it, people depending on it, one girl in all the world depending on it. It was what kept him from calling the Council, reporting on what had happened, and inevitably getting pulled out for being "compromised", and another Watcher sent to replace him.
Another Watcher wouldn't give a damn about Willow or Xander, certainly not Oz or Cordelia. Another Watcher might not go looking for her, and Giles wouldn't stand for that.
So it wasn't as though he had no one. He had four teenagers with an ironclad determination to learn, and to pick up the slack. They became his project, whenever he was in town, and they recovered from their wounds with new resolve that warmed his heart to see.
Giles recovered, too, slowly but surely. There was medicine that he took diligently when no one else was around, and physical therapy to follow that he stuck to erratically and with poor grace. But, it did the job. Slowly, his body healed, patching itself up from this most recent, brutal trauma as it had so many times in the past. Willow and Xander kept after him to take care of himself, and while he was touched by their concern, it was also something alien, something wrong, and most importantly something uncomfortable. He wasn't supposed to need their help taking care of himself, and the fact that he did was a reminder of just how far he'd fallen.
And oh, how far that was. Further than they could contemplate, and further than he ever wanted them to know.
The hallucinations had started that first night. He'd thought – prayed – that it was just a result of the medication, their damn drugs, but being difficult about taking them had only irritated the doctors and brought him more pain on physical, as well as mental levels. It hadn't done a thing to help. She'd still appeared at his bedside again that night.
And he'd been getting worse, instead of better. At first, he'd been able to disbelieve the hallucinations. It had hurt to do so, but he'd been able to. And yet, the more the days went by, the harder he forced himself to keep going, the harder it got to remember that she was dead, that he was free, that she was gone.
Giles might have just suffered with it, never telling anyone. He wished that he could, but circumstances had proven uncooperative…and outright dangerous.
The sound of a car horn blaring, loud and long, knocked him out of his latest daze.
Rupert Giles could think very, very quickly. He could put the pieces together in any given situation and respond accordingly, all in truly record time. It was what had allowed him to survive as long as he had.
And so the very first thing Giles did was run. Because all the impressions received by all his senses – a bright green light just over his head, the feeling of heat and pavement, the rush of colors and the rumble of engines, told him that he'd lost his focus again in the midst of hallucinating, and let himself wander right into the street.
He stumbled onto the sidewalk, panting, his heart racing and his breath tearing in his throat. Then he turned, and saw Jenny just for an instant, smiling at him before she faded away and a minivan raced through the place where she'd been.
It wasn't the first time he'd caused himself inconvenience or even minor damage due to his…"visions". But it was the most dangerous. For a few seconds, Giles' feet refused to move in the aftermath of shock, as he stared into the road he'd so recently been standing on. He had another vision – that of himself, dead and torn, lying there, because his mind had failed him at so crucial a moment. He could scarcely manage to take a step, for fear that it might happen again.
He was a Watcher. His mind was supposed to be the one thing that never failed him, that kept the world safe. Surrendering it to Angelus in a moment of…of weakness had been one thing. To realize that he couldn't even keep himself safe?
It was not a good feeling.
He didn't look up, at the sound of his name. In fact, he turned away, shaking his head in an attempt to clear the fog again. No one left called him by his first name. At least, no one that he wanted to see.
"Rupert, what the hell were you thinking?!"
Someone grabbed his hand – they might have been a real person, they might not. Giles tugged his hand away, all the same, wincing. Then, because there really did seem to be no escape today, he turned to see who else had appeared.
It wasn't Jenny, a fact for which Giles was profoundly grateful. But the sight of her was still so stunning, so unexpected, that Giles still found himself disbelieving even as he felt like all the air was sucked from his lungs.
She looked just as surprised as he imagined he did, and also markedly concerned. Well, Giles couldn't fault her there. While he'd been recovering nicely, he still didn't look…entirely well, a fact he was reminded of every time he looked in a mirror.
This was not how he'd hoped to see her again, not that he'd really expected to ever see her again after coming to Sunnydale.
"What happened to you?" Olivia asked, her gaze taking in everything from the not-quite-steady way he stood, to the last of the bruising under one eye, to the last two casts on his fingers. And she frowned when Giles reflexively moved the hand behind his back, and tried to change the subject.
"I, um, I-I didn't know you were coming," he stammered. "You, um, you should have m-mentioned. I could have, um, at least picked you up."
"I wanted to give you a surprise. Guess I forgot you're not one to be outdone."
She smiled wryly, still staring intently and with concern up at him. He could see her thinking of what to say, filing through all the million and one possibilities, before finally settling on:
"What happened to you?"
Where to start?
Olivia let Giles take her out to some lunch. There wasn't really any good place to eat, in California, in Giles' opinion. Even as far as the low standards of American food went, the available eateries in Sunnydale were subpar. She saw that it was because he didn't want anyone in his apartment right now, but she didn't say anything about it.
There was a reason Olivia was still someone Giles would consider a friend, even if it baffled him just why the feeling continued to be mutual.
Seated across from one another at a formica table in the corner, some bad coffee and even worse sandwiches set between them that Giles didn't even plan on touching, and barely remembered ordering, Giles told Olivia a very, very abbreviated version of events.
Or at least, that was how it started.
Olivia hadn't been involved in the events of a few weeks ago. She hadn't been hurt by it, by Angelus' cruel ambitions, by Giles'…failure. And she wasn't Willow or Xander, who for all their enthusiasm, and their goodness, weren't equal to Giles. Olivia and Giles were equals – always had been and, he hoped, always would be.
So he told her a bit more than he'd admitted to Willow, or Xander, or the police, or Joyce. And then a bit more, and more, until she'd ordered them some actual lunch and made Giles stop and eat because he was shaking with the memories of it all. He hadn't been eating well, lately, his stomach had been a mess like the rest of him. But his attempts to protest were met with a Look – just a Look, but it was enough, and it was heartbreakingly good to see that look on Olivia.
It was nice not to have to take charge, for once. To have someone else who could. Especially when it was someone who used her power over him to try and lead him back to health and well being, and not out into the middle of the road to get hit by a car, so he might join her in death.
Giles didn't manage to tell her everything about Jenny. But he told her some, and that was…something.
Even if he saw Jenny standing over Olivia's shoulder, waiting, staring down at his old friend with coldness in her eyes. She didn't look up at him, or make a move towards him, and she was gone when Olivia next spoke.
He was safe in here, with nothing he could use to accidentally kill himself in a fugue state. If Olivia would stick around, maybe he'd stay safe. At least until he left for Kentucky.
That was something.