Disclaimer: Someday I am going to get a puppy and name it Giles so that I can say "Giles, get in my bed." Even then the real Giles, and anything else relating to Buffy, does not belong to me.
A/N: Written for the Drunken!Giles-athon at LJ. My assignment was for ladyforash who wanted a Happy ending, set post Chosen, a kitten, with no Ethan, tweed, or Dawn (on tiny mention, but that's it) I hope you like it.
Hugs to settiai for beta'ing, and especially the fixing of my tense issue.
For the first time in years he was taking a vacation. He was worried, though if he was honest with himself the emotion was closer to fear. The last time he stepped away from his job was three years ago after Buffy came back from the grave. It wasn't a vacation then, more of a self-imposed exile spent in brooding self-reflection. This was a vacation. His bags were packed and his plane ticket purchased. For ten days he would be leaving the chilly dampness of England behind in favor of a warm Caribbean beach.
What the bloody hell had he been thinking?
Despite what the shiny picture on the cover of the travel brochure had promised, sipping fruity drinks out of coconuts while wearing swim trousers was not his definition of relaxation. He should be going to Paris to spend a week roaming around museums and galleries or calling in a favor from a friend to observe the unearthing of relics from a dig. He should be staying close to home. What if all hell was to break loose while he was thousands of miles away?
"Your ride is here, Mr. Giles." Vi stood in the doorway, and she stooped to pick up his suitcase. She was trying to hide it, but she was eager for him to be gone. It was her first chance to be in charge of the training, and she couldn't wait to show off. Giles followed her down the front stairs but paused in the lower hallway.
"Maybe I should..."
"Don't even think about it, Mr. G." Rona was holding the front door open and he could see the cab waiting in the street. "Vi and me can take care of the probies. You are going on your trip even if we have to walk you onto the plane."
"I hardly think that will be necessary. I was simply going to..."
"Go over the lesson plan for the twentieth time?" Vi asked sweetly.
"Repeat all of the contact numbers for you, Buffy, Willow and Xander in case we've forgotten them and all our cell phone memories have spontaneously erased themselves?" Rona asked pointedly.
"Oh good lord. I'll be leaving now." Shaking his head, he took his bag away from Vi and patted Rona's arm as he passed. They were good girl, both of them, but it was exhausting being their Watcher. And it wasn't just them: there were thirty-seven girls living in what passed for an exclusive boarding school, though summer vacation reduced that number by half. Slayers, every single one of them, and they were all his responsibility. It was no wonder he needed a few days away.
The two girls—women, he corrected himself because after all that they had been through that's what they were—waved at him from the front steps as his cab pulled away, and when he looked up to the second story a sign hung in one window that read "Bon Voyage." He was reminded of a similar sign in a different place. Leaning back in the seat, he closed his eyes and rested until they reached the airport.
The first day on the island Giles followed the suggestions in the travel guide he had purchased months ago. Wearing a swimming outfit was taking things too far, in his opinion, but he did dress down in a loose linen shirt and chinos. There was a private beach twenty feet away from the back door of the resort he was staying at, and after a lunch of fresh fish the waiter assured him had been caught that very morning he went off to examine it. He was relieved to find it relatively deserted.
Sitting on a large rock he untied his shoes. He pulled off his socks, folding them neatly together and stuffing them into one of his shoes. The sand was warm between his toes, the tiny grains cushioning his weight as he walked down to the water. There was something hypnotic about watching the waves come in and out of the ocean, and he stood there for almost an hour as the water lapped gently against his ankles and the sun bathed his face. He breathed in deeply, taking in the salt and spiciness of the tropical air.
When a little girl running down the beach tripped on a piece of driftwood and fell at his feet, Giles bent down to pick her up. Her blue eyes twinkled and she offered him a laugh as she raced back to the parent calling her name. He watched her until he was sure that she had reached her mother safely then moved farther down the beach. A trail of empty footprints followed him until they were washed away in the tide.
He was bored by the second day. Wandering the beach didn't hold any appeal, nor did lying in one of the many hammocks strewn about the place. Giles took one of resort's courtesy buses into the village and spent the day wandering the bazaar. There were many small trinkets to be found for a handful of pennies, and he picked out enough that he could bring something back for all of his charges at the school. There was a booth full of carpenter's tools, and he was sure that Xander would be amused at the idea of using a traditional Caribbean hammer. For Willow there was a small drum used in celebration rituals of the natives and for Dawn a bright colored traditional dress.
Buffy was harder. It wasn't until sunset that he found a tiny pig charm cast in copper and hung from a chain. He remembered the stuffed pig she had showed him once, the confessor of her childhood that was now buried under the rubble of an entire town. The woman who sold it to him promised that it would bring the wearer luck. He hoped it would make her smile,
He woke to the sound of rain on the third day. It was coming down hard and didn't show any signs of ending anytime soon. He ordered room service and tried to remember what it was like to laze in bed for half the day. He should be good at it—there was that whole year after the high school was destroyed when he watched soap operas and played at being a gentleman of leisure. But he had been so bored then that he had taken up running and dug through his books for any hints of foreboding. By noon he was too restless to stay in his room any longer. He took the book he had been reading and headed for the elevator.
The restaurant was crowded and the indoor pool had no appeal. No one seemed to be in the bar, and he decided that it would do as a place to spend a few hours. Despite the tropical locale they had tried to make it into a dark and rustic pub. They'd failed miserably but he didn't care. It wasn't as if he hadn't seen enough English pubs in his life. He ordered a scotch and soda, and he took it to a couch in the farthest corner of the room. He was a hundred pages into his book and on his second drink when the air around him changed. There was a smell that was almost familiar, but before he could even think of what it was a voice caught his attention.
"Imagine finding you in a place like this." He was no longer alone as a woman slipped into the chair across from him. Giles took off his glasses and cleaned them on the edge of his pale blue shirt, replacing them before he believed his eyes.
"Buffy?" he asked softly.
"You were expecting someone else?" She grinned at him, and he marveled at the familiar wide smile. It had been almost a year since he had seen it.
"No I wasn't, but then I wasn't expecting you either."
"I should hope not. It would hardly be a surprise if you knew I was coming." Seeing the new customer a waiter came over to them. Giles ordered another scotch and soda. Buffy smiled wickedly when it was her turn to order.
"I'll have a sex on the beach." The waiter nodded and left them alone.
"Buffy," Giles scolded.
"It's a drink, Giles. One of those fruity ones that sometimes comes with those cute little umbrellas. Or would you feel more comfortable if I ordered something tame, like a beer?"
"Tame? I still have nightmares about you and beer. No thank you," he shuddered.
"You have nightmares? I'm the one who had to spend way too much money on a trip to the salon just to get my hair back to normal. Cave girl frizz just was not popular that season." She laughed as she accepted her drink and held it up, clinking her glass against his. "Here's to non evil drinks."
"Cheers." He took a sip of the scotch then set it down on the table. "What on earth are you doing here?"
"Giving into my curiosity. Also, trying to win a bet."
"A bet?" He took another sip of his drink, fortifying himself for her answer.
"The girls have a pool going on how long you'll be able to stay away from the school. Vi didn't think you'd make it out of the country. Most of the girls gave you about four days before you showed up with some excuse about ruined plans. They asked me if I wanted in." Weight supported by her elbow leaning on the table, she rested her chin on her hands.
"And you said yes, of course."
"Do I look like someone to turn down a sure thing? I told them you'd stay away for the full ten days. I know you; once you set your mind on something you stick to it."
"But you came down here just to make sure? I would think that whatever you paid in air fare would negate any winnings."
"I wouldn't be so sure about that. At ten bucks a pop the pool is somewhere around three hundred right now. Besides, that wasn't my only motivation." Buffy caught the waiter's attention and motioned towards her empty glass, holding up a single finger to ask for a refill.
"You mentioned something about curiosity. What, exactly, are you curious about?" The room behind Buffy was a little fuzzy. Either his glasses needed cleaning again or he'd had a little too much to drink. This was his last glass, either way.
"I wanted to see what you were like on vacation. I've met librarian Giles and Watcher Giles and fighting-for-his-life Giles, not to mention demon Giles and, though I try really hard to forget, teen Giles. I want to see who you are when you are away from all the responsibility; when you just get to be you."
"I'm more me when I am with you then I am anywhere else." Shit. He must be more pissed then he thought to be waxing philosophical.
"That was either really deep, or you're quoting from a fortune cookie."
"I named my kitten after a fortune cookie. It said that luck would follow me always. The next day I went out for a walk and a little grey kitten followed me home, so I named it Luck."
"You have a kitten?" She tried to remember if she had ever heard Giles mention wanting a pet or having one as a child.
"Not so much a kitten anymore. It's almost grown now, like you are. You're a woman. You weren't when I met you; you were just a girl with too much of a burden to bear alone." The waiter passed by their table and Giles grabbed at his sleeve. "Another drink, please."
"I didn't have to bare it alone, Giles. I had Willow, Xander, my family. And I had you."
"It was still too much to ask of one girl. I'm glad that the others aren't alone any more." He reached for his glass, forgetting that it was empty. At that moment the waiter appeared at his side, handing him the fresh drink.
"I like the whole many Slayer thing, because more girls equals more vamps going poof and less work for me, but I feel sorry for them a little."
"Sorry? What about the old way could you possibly miss?"
"This." When he frowned at her she continued. "Not the drinking in a bar thing, because you didn't come to the Bronze with us that much. I mean the one-on-one time. Some of my favorite memories are of training with you or patrolling at night, especially when the vamp population was being quiet."
"You always tried to get out of the training."
"What's that they say about kids and wishing half their lives away? I didn't always know at the time how important those moments were. I was caught up in school and boys and apocalypses. But those times mattered. And the best present anyone has ever given me, still, is that training room you designed for me in the back of the Magick Box."
"Do you still train?" It was the only safe question he could think to ask, and he was still rational enough to know that he didn't want to know about boys or other presents she had been given recently. Selfishly he didn't want to know the details of her life in Italy at all.
"Everyday, though it's not the same." She eyed his empty drink and stood up, reaching her hand out to him. "Let's go take a walk or something. I want to see this island that tempted you away from the mother country."
"A little fresh air might be a good idea." He started to rise out of his seat but his legs shook and he fell back down. When he rose again Buffy slipped her fingers through his in an effort to steady him. He staggered slightly but was able to walk to the door.
"What about the drinks?" she asked, looking back at the bartender.
"I don't think they'll let us take the glasses to the beach, but they might have some plastic cups." He started back towards the bar but she stopped him.
"No, not new drinks. I mean what about paying for the ones we just had. They don't usually like it when you walk out on a bill."
"That would be rather rude, not to mention criminal. Good thing I had them charged to my room. Wouldn't want to spend the rest of vacation in jail."
"No, we really wouldn't," Buffy agreed.
"Would you visit me?" They were in the middle of the hotel lobby when he stopped and looked at her. His warm fingers wrapped around her forearm and he studied her intently.
"I am visiting you."
"No, I mean if I was in jail." He snorted and released his hold on her, continuing to the entrance. Buffy caught up and slipped her arm through his, helping to balance him without his noticing. "I was in jail once."
"What?" Her mouth gapped open as she stared at him. "What did you do?"
"Breaking and entering. I was about twenty and decided that not only was I not going to be a Watcher but I also wasn't going to have a respectable job. It was much easier, not to mention better for the bad ass reputation I was trying to project, to lift silver and jewels from people who could afford it."
"Giles the thief... I so could have used this knowledge in high school. Think of the blackmail potential."
"Which is exactly why I limited the stories I told you to my yearnings of being a grocer or a pilot." They made it out of the hotel and the uneven footing in the sand did not help his balance. When they came to a large flat rock Buffy released her hold on him and hoisted herself onto the makeshift seat. After a few attempts Giles followed suit.
"You're no fun," Buffy pouted jokingly.
"Madam, I can assure you that I am vastly capable of amounts of fun." His tongue felt think and the words did not come out in the order he meant them to.
"I'd ask you to repeat that, but I don't think you can. Instead I think you should prove it."
"Prove what?" Admiring the way the sun hit her hair, making it shine in a hundred different colors, he was having trouble following the conversation.
"Prove that you can have fun."
"Okay," he nodded affably. Without warning he leaned forward and pressed his lips to hers. Hazily he wondered at the wisdom of such a move, but it felt too good to stop. he was mildly surprised when she didn't pull away, but instead leaned closer into him and cupped one of his cheeks with her hand.
His head felt like an entire army of demons had done battle inside his brain. When he tried to open his eyes the bright light shining through the window sent waves of pain through his head.
"Bloody hell," he muttered.
"Shhh, Giles. It's not even seven yet. Go back to sleep."
"Good idea, Buffy." Buffy? He was on vacation, thousands of miles away from Europe. Why was he hearing her voice? "What in the world?"
"Don't worry about it, Giles." A cool cloth was placed on his forehead and a gentle hand stroked his hair. "Talking will only make your head hurt more. Trust me, I know. You go back to sleep, and later we'll have plenty of time to talk, and maybe you'll kiss me again. We do have almost a whole week of vacation."
"That would be nice," he said as he drifted to sleep, comforted by her presence. There was one little detail bothering him, but it wasn't until he was on the edge of consciousness that he thought to wonder what she meant by 'kiss me again?'