TITLE: Potential Motel Room

AUTHOR: Erin Giles


DISCLAIMER: I don't own Giles, or anything to do with Buffy I know this ok so don't rub it in... but everything else is mine! :P

SUMMARY: Potential's POV. One girl wonders why one man saves her and what he's got to hide.


I can't sleep. This whole potential slayer deal is really starting to drive me insane. No matter how many time's Mr. Giles goes through it and explains it to both Emily and myself I still don't think I'll get it. Emily's the other potential that's with us at the moment, one of many I've been told which just gives me the wiggins when I also find out that I'm one of few that's survived the alphabet eye guys. And really the only reason I survived them was because of Mr. Giles 'cause if he hadn't have turned up then I'd have been dog meat by now.

I'm not supposed to call him Mr. Giles though, he says it's too formal but he seems like the formal type of guy with his British accent an' all. It just doesn't seem right to not call him Mr. Giles, but I'm working on it.

I can hear him turning over on the floor at the foot of the beds both Emily and I occupy. He insisted we both have the beds in the room, a British trait I assume, because I wouldn't give up the chance to sleep in a bed for some scared teenage girls. I don't know how he can sleep on the hard floor and not...

I guess he's not sleeping then. I watch him get up from the floor slowly and painful. He must really be hurting from that fight with the Bringers and that just makes me feel more guilty than I already do because the reason he hurts is because of me and my stupid idea of taking a shortcut down one of Chicago's dangerous alleys. But it was really only to get out of the blizzard of snow that seemed to dance it's way down every street. I mean I was only a few blocks from home and...

He's in the first aid kit now that he used on me earlier this evening before telling us both to get some sleep. I glance across at Emily who looks sound to the world, a soft snort from her confirms my suspicions and I can't help the smile that spreads on my face. It fades though as my eyes turn back to the man who was my saviour earlier this night. I didn't want to leave my home and my brother but I know that my brother can't protect me from these bringer guys, but a man almost twice his age can - so I figure I'm better off with this stranger.

I find myself sitting up in the uncomfortable bed that is a trait of all motel rooms.

"Are you aright?" He looks up at me startled. He probably thought that everyone was asleep, like I did. He hurriedly tries to hide the first aid box from view but instead manages to catch his fingers in the box and bang his elbow against the dressing table which he has seated himself beside in an attempt to free his hand. I frown sympathetically as I pull myself from the bed, untangling my spindly legs from the sheets.

"Fine thank you." He manages as I tread lightly across the room, my feet freezing on contact with the cold linoleum floor.

"You know you don't really look all that fine. Plus if I'm bruised from minimal fighting with just one bringer..." my voice trails off as I look away from him for a moment.

"Thanks for that by the way." I say softly. I'm not used to saying thank you. When I was growing up it was more a case of grab what you can or you don't get anything with all my sisters and brothers in the house. Thank you was a phrase rarely used among family members, swearing was a more common occurrence and I feel bad when I swear in the presence of Mr. Giles because he gives me a look that you can tell is disapproving but he doesn't want to say anything because it's not as if he's my dad or anything.

He smiles warmly at me now as I sit beside him on the cold floor.

"You're quite welcome." He replies with a tone that I can't tell if he's being mocking or sincere or some new emotion altogether and I want to reply with some sarcastic comment, but I bite my tongue because I've already figured out that he's not really the kind of man who mocks you. He's nothing like that, but I still find myself being defensive around him because you don't just get strangers who come up to you in the night and save your life and then tell you that you're a potential slayer which is a rapidly declining species and that they're going to take you somewhere that you'll be safe. Really not a common occurrence in the neighbourhood I come from.

He seems to have forgotten that he's trying to hide his injuries as he rolls his sweater sleeve up and inspects the raw knife marks there. It's like being back at home again, with my dad after a night at the bar and he meets up with 'some old friends' as he calls them. He thought I was stupid when I was younger, obviously not stupid enough to pick up first aid skills. I take the box from him without hesitation as my shyness leaves as quickly as it came upon me in that alley nearly six hours ago.

"Accident prone family." I explain as I start to clean the knife wound, but he seems hesitant of my touch like I'm going to hurt him and that almost makes me laugh out loud because it's so hysterically funny.

How the hell could I hurt him? The guy must be at least 6ft if not taller and here's me standing at 5ft4, kidding myself that he's scared I'm going to hurt him. Plus he took on six of those black robed guys and lives to tell the tale and I took on one who proceeded to pound on me until I was nothing but a big bruise on a freezing cold Chicago alleyway floor.

He doesn't ask me about my comment and I'm kinda grateful for that 'cause it's not something I want to get into now, not with a stranger, even if he did save my life. But it seems to come out anyway like he's secretly trying to worm it out of me like he can access my mind or something because I would never, and have never, told anyone this.

"My dad used to get into fights and come home kinda beat up, and drunk," I screamed at myself in protest to shut up, this man didn't want to hear my life story or my take of woe-is-me but as I dressed his wounds I found myself talking and he offered me nothing but an ear.

"He used to take it out on me 'cause I was the youngest, said I was always needing too much stuff, that was why mum left because I wanted too much. I was the only one left eventually. I used to patch him up when he passed out on the couch." I smiled slightly, remembering the effort it took me at the age of nine to roll a hundred and eighty pound man onto his side in an attempt to bandage his ribs.

"Anywhere else?" I asked as I finished, my voice a little too lighthearted for the conversation that we were having but I can't help it because I've never told anyone what happened between me and my dad, not even my brother. His hand goes to his side as he shifts on the floor but he shakes his head and he's so like me in the way he tries to hide things. He's good at it, but he's not good enough not to be noticed by me, another expert at hiding things.

"Broken?" I question as me hands in voluntary move to his t-shirt, ready to un-tuck it. He stops me though, hands on mine.

"I'm fine." He insists, something in his voice that isn't insistence but... fear. I wonder what he's afraid of though and I smile hesitantly at him.

"Only fair to share." He looks at me as if I'm insane but I don't care, 'cause to some extent I am to have stuck by my father after all these years of hurt and torment, reminders decorating me like tattoos. He shakes his head though, moving my hands away from his t-shirt.

"Please, I'm fine. You should get some sleep." He sounds as if he's pleading now and I can't help but think there's something very wrong with this situation. A man older, taller, stronger, wiser than me is terrified of my presence but not of people who try to kill him. But as stubborn as he may be, I'm ten times more stubborn.

"Not tired." I say, sitting back down beside him, my back to the dressing table. I can see him watching me out of the corner of his eye as he deliberately tidies the first aid box before attempting to pull himself to his feet, clutching painfully at his fragile side.

"You not gonna even bandage them yourself?" he looks back at me from where he's leaning against the bathroom doorframe a look of annoyance on his face, contorted with pain, making the bruises on his face stand out more. His shoulders sag as he looks at me, a picture of innocence on my face, I'm sure. He pulls bandages from his bag and tosses them to me with obvious effort, resignation in his movements now as he un-tucks his t-shirt and pulls it over his head.

"I'll never hear the end of this." He says as he sits down on the only chair in the room, but I'm too speechless to notice as I take in the maze of red lines that scar his bruised back and side. I approach him cautiously, finally taking in his words.

"What d'yah mean?"

"The others. If they find out that I've been talked down by a teenager they'll think I'm going soft." I can't help but smile at his comment as he flinches while I continue to wind the bandages tightly round his badly bruised ribs. I've seen broke ones enough times to know that they're only badly bruised.

"I doubt it." My voice suddenly solemn and serious unlike it ever has been before. I've always been used to acting like an adult and talking like one and I can't really remember ever having a childhood at all, but it seems somehow different talking to this stranger, like he's been through as much as me, in fact considerably more.

"What happened?" I ask eventually as I secure the bandages and help him back on with his t-shirt. He looks up at me questioningly, and I don't mean to pry but I can't help but ask.

"Your back." If he wants to tell me he will, if not then it's not my place to insist. He's been kind enough to save my life and let me tell him my life troubles. I have no right to satisfy my own curiosity. He continues to look at me though, removing his glasses and rubbing at his tired eyes.

"You can have the bed if you want." I gesture at the rumpled sheets I pulled myself from less than half an hour ago but he shakes his head, motioning me to sit down on it before launching into his explanation.

We ended up talking for the rest of the night, only when Emily stirred in her sleep did we realise what time it was and he seemed to shut up, close up, and become a totally different person from the one I had spoken to. He stayed like that for the rest of the journey to Sunny-hell. Well it's called Sunnydale, but to be honest, Sunny-hell is way better suited to the town if you ask me. But no one really does ask me anything, save for Mr... I mean, Giles.

He's different here though, and no one notices it, not even his Slayer or his friends, and they don't seem to care. He's just another person on their side, like me... and I wonder why he's still here, after sacrificing so much, after being ignored so often, after not receiving any gratitude save for an occasional thank you. And I want to ask him why, but he's never alone in this house, always giving advice or helping potentials, or talking to others, and even if I did manage to get him on his own I don't think he would answer me.

It's been a week since he saved me now - It's late and he's back with another girl, both of them battered and bruised. But as he notices me, curled up in my sleeping bag next to the couch, while he passes by the door he smiles faintly, and for a flicker on a second I can no longer see the scars, and for once he's not hiding them, and I know why. He does it for us, for our tomorrows, the ones that he will never have.