Title: Well, You Know
Author's Name: Laura Sichrovsky (E-Mail: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Spoilers: Nope. No spoilers in this one, unless you count the way Xander's parents treat him.
Disclaimer: This is where I put the statement saying that I do not own Buffy, Giles (Heh! I wish!), Sunnydale, or anything relating
to the show. No one is paying me to do this and if you feel the sudden urge to send me gifts, you might want to talk
to someone about that. Joss Whedon owns all things Buffy and has not given me permission to use these characters
as I have so if you have problems with the story, please send the pretzel bombs to me, not him.
Summary: This story is yet another sort of a sequel to How to Measure a Man. If you haven't read that story or its sequel, That's
One Opinion, this one won't make much sense. But if you have read them, then you know Willow tried to make Giles
realize what he means to the gang. This story is what happens when Xander finds out about it.
Author's Notes: This should probably come with a Fluffiness Warning attached. I've always though that there had to be some
bond between Giles and the Scoobies or they wouldn't have stayed friends all those years. I would have liked to
have seen more "family" bonding in the actual show, but you know the love was there. This is me, wishing we
could have seen something like this, but since we didn't here you go. grin Thanks need to be given, and here is
where they go. Thanks to Joss for creating characters so fun to watch and to borrow for a bit. Thanks to Tony
Head for making Giles so amazing. I tried to fight it, but he was just too remarkable not to fall for. Big thank yous
to my sister, Kristen the Beta Goddess. She takes my ramblings and puts them in some readable order. I could
never write without her help and I would never want to try. Love ya! To Janet, who helped with the details, to
Ann and Nikki, who called me on my mistakes, and helped me hear my inner Brit, thank you, thank you, and…oh
yeah, THANK YOU! Thanks to my amazing husband who not only doesn't get upset when my writing takes over,
but who doesn't freak about the men who live in my head. I love him so.
A Note on the spelling of Willow's nickname here: I spelled it "Wil" instead of "Will" because that was the way
it was spelled in the subtitles on the DVDs.
Note on the e-mail addresses in this story: Fanfiction wouldn't let me put an actual e-mail or even the at symbol in this story, so the e-mails have been spelled out with spaces.
Well, You Know
"Hey, Xander!" Willow smiled as she looked up from the computer she was working on. "Free period?"
"More or less," Xander shrugged, sitting down next to Willow. "It was Government and I felt the sudden urge to log some library time."
Willow nodded, turning back to the webpage she was perusing as Xander leaned around her to see what it was. This actually was a free period for her.
"Hey, Willow, when did you take up an interest in Chinese demonology?"
"It's for Giles," Willow said with a laugh. "He needed information for something he's working on."
As if he knew they were talking about him, Rupert Giles chose that moment to come out of his office. He was studying a book as he walked toward the table and Willow found herself wondering how it was that he didn't trip.
"Willow, when you have a free moment, could you do me a favor?" Giles looked up, seeing Xander for the first time. "Xander, nice to see you. Did you need something?"
"Just a good excuse for not sitting through a boring hour of Government."
"I see," Giles said, looking over his glasses at the young man. "Well, I don't suppose anything I say will get you to go to class?"
"All right then. Didn't see you, couldn't have stopped you. Would you like a doughnut?"
"Um…Giles?" Willow interrupted, hiding her smile at the banter between the two men. "Your favor?"
"Oh, yes. Sorry," Giles blushed a bit, then went back to being all business, while handing Xander the doughnut box. "When you have a chance, would you please print out that e-mail for me? I-I rather think I'd like a paper copy of it."
"Of course," Willow smiled warmly at him. "I'll print it right after I print this webpage."
"Thank you very much," Giles smiled back at her. "If you need me, I'll be back in my office brushing up on my Mandarin dialect."
Xander watched the ex-Watcher go back to his office, while he chose a chocolate doughnut with sprinkles.
"See," he said, turning his attention back to Willow and her webpage. "This is much better than Government. Anything with chocolate is better. So, what is this e-mail that you are printing for the G-man? More Hellmouthiness?"
"Nah," Willow said, sending the page to the printer and opening up Giles's e-mail account. "It's just an e-mail."
"From who? Who is sending Giles mail? Don't tell me it's from someone he met in the frisky Watcher's chatroom."
"Xander!" Willow lightly punched him on the arm, making a face. "It's from…well, it's from me."
"You sent Giles an e-mail. You do realize that you see him every day, don't you, Wil? You could just tell him what's on your mind."
"Well, I could but…It's more than that. You…you didn't see his face yesterday."
"Yesterday?" Xander sounded completely confused.
"Yesterday morning when he got that mean e-mail from the evil Council guy. He was really upset. And worse than that, he was really hurt."
"Giles was hurt by a mean e-mail? Wil, this guy used to channel demons. I don't think some old guy getting all nasty on him is going to upset the Watcherman."
"No, it wasn't the e-mail. It was…he said he was tired; tired of being ignored and mistreated. And can you blame him? Think about it; he came from another country, gave up everything, risks his life every day, and how do we treat him? When was the last time we even said thank you?"
Xander opened his mouth to say something, then stopped. Willow was right; they did take Giles for granted.
"So, this e-mail you sent him…it was a thank you?" He leaned over to read the e-mail that she was printing. "Wow, you said some nice stuff in there."
"It's all true," Willow said, sounding defensive. "And I should have said it sooner. He really deserved to hear this stuff."
Xander was nodding thoughtfully, remembering the look on Giles's face when he spoke to Willow about the e-mail. Xander couldn't remember the last time he'd seen the older man smile like that. He guessed that everyone needed to know they were appreciated every once in a while.
"Hey Wil, I'm going to use this computer down here for a bit, okay?"
Giles stretched his back as he walked out of his office. He'd been in there for most of the day and he was physically starting to feel the strain of spending eight hours straight hunched over a book. He looked out over the mostly deserted library; the only one left was Willow. He crossed the room to stand behind her.
"Willow, it's after six o'clock. You should get home or your parents will worry."
"Not my parents," Willow said. Giles was impressed that she kept the bitterness out of her voice. "But I do have homework to finish, so I'll go after I wrap up this one last thing. I printed up three webpages and that e-mail; they're all on the printer. Would you like me to check your e-mail one last time?"
"Thank you, Willow," Giles crossed to the printer and retrieved his papers. "I am waiting for a reply to that inquiry to Mongolia that we sent out earlier, if you don't mind."
"Not a problem," she replied, opening his inbox for him. "Let's see…no, sorry. There isn't a reply to that e-mail in here."
"Ahh, well, nothing we can do but wait, I suppose."
Willow stared at the screen, an odd look on her face.
"We can check it first thing in the morning," she said, a smile twitching at her lips. "I'm going to go now, but I'm leaving your e-mail open for you. We didn't get a reply from Bayanhongor, but you do have some e-mails in here."
"Probably just more of those blasted advertisements. They can wait until morning."
Willow picked up her bag and started for the door, stopping in front of Giles. She surprised him by putting her hand lightly on his arm.
"You really should read your e-mail." With that, she walked to the doors, pausing only momentarily. "Night, Giles. Sleep well, sweet dreams and all that stuff. Oh, and take care of you for us."
And then she was gone. Giles shook his head and smiled after her. She really was a very sweet girl, albeit a bit strange; but he did love her. It was nice to feel like he mattered to someone. Might as well see what it was that had caught her attention. He crossed the room and sat in front of the computer.
Yes, his e-mail box did contain the usual amount of advertisements, telling him how much he needed this product or that; but it was the last e-mail that caught his attention. This must have been what Willow was talking about.
From: Xandman at Yahoo. com
Subject: I Have an Opinion Too
Xandman could only be Xander, so what in the world was this about? Giles suspected that Xander had passed along some joke that had caught his interest. With a weary sigh, he opened the message.
Hey, big guy! I know you must be wondering why I'd e-mail you. I would be if I was you. Well, it has nothing to do with exploding e-mails or off color jokes…this time. (Although I do know a good one about a pink fairy and a sea cow. I'll save that one for my next e-mail.) I was talking with Willow while she was printing things for you and she brought something up that made me think. (I know, me thinking…scary!) She asked me if I'd ever told you thanks or good job or anything and I realized that I never had. Made me feel kind of bad, kind of like Cordelia. And you know how much I don't want to be like Cordelia. So, I thought I might try to tell you a few nice things.
I don't even know where to start, so I'll take the easy way out and say thank you. Thank you, Giles for all the things you do for us. Thank you for 72 hour shifts researching in the library. Thank you for giving up the last jelly doughnut, even though you really want it for yourself. Thank you for saying nice things to make me feel better when I do something stupid. And thank you for then helping me fix the something stupid. Thank you for helping me with actual school work in between helping me study demons. And thank you for caring enough to ask how I did with that actual school work. I think the last time my parents even looked at my report card was when I was in third grade. But you always want to see how I'm doing and that makes me feel good, like someone wants to see me do something with my life.
Thank you for showing me how a friend is supposed to act. Thank you for showing me how a man is supposed to act. And thank you for showing me how a father is supposed to act. I always knew that my dad had it wrong, I just never had anything to compare it to; now I do. I hope that when I have kids I make them feel special like you do to us; I hope I can be as good a father as I think you would be. (I know I'd trade my dad for you in a red second.)
Thank you for showing me how a real man gets angry. I know that you think you are more Ripper than you should be, but even when you yell at me, even when you are your most upset, you never call me names, you never insult me, and you've never hit me. I always hate it when my father gets angry. I always promised myself I'd never do that when I grew up. And you've shown me that I don't have to. I don't have to be my father; I can be you.
Thank you for being my friend. I know I can drive everyone crazy, but you never give up on me. It's also nice to have another guy in the group; those girls can make me wonky, but you are always there to be all manly with me. (I know, that manly stuff can get pretty scary. But hey, who else can I bond with while digging up corpses?) You even seem to like my jokes sometimes. Thank you for all the hours of research and training that you do for us. I think it's giving you squinty lines by your eyes, but if it wasn't for you, we wouldn't be here now. Thank you for showing me how to do the right thing. Thank you for showing me that it takes courage to stand up for what you believe in, but it's worth it. My father always told me that I wasn't good for anything. You always tell me that you know I'll do the right thing. I like your way better.
I guess what I'm trying to say is, thank you for being you, Giles. I know I'm always making jokes about you, but it's only my way of saying…well, you know. I was right, this isn't really my thing. I'm sure that a smart guy like you really doesn't need to hear this stuff from a future burger slinger, but you have been too good to us for me to not tell you. Everyone needs to know they are appreciated every once in a while, so here you go. Just don't go expecting it again.
Anyway, thanks for everything, Giles.
Giles blinked, then blinked again. This was the last thing he'd expected from Xander and he wasn't sure how to take it. He read it over again and found himself focusing on the part about being a friend and father. He'd known Xander's home life wasn't the best, but he now found himself thinking homicidal thoughts towards the boy's errant father. To see it spelled out that Xander would prefer Giles to be his father actually affected him more than he cared to admit. He knew that the chances of having children of his own were small; it was part of the cost for being who he was. Some nights, this knowledge bothered him, despite having accepted it years ago. But having these children around actually made him feel better about it. They were not his, but he knew that he had an influence on them, on the adults they would become, and that was a gratifying feeling. He hadn't realized how large that influence was on Xander until he'd read this e-mail. He had no idea that the boy thought so much of him.
Suddenly he couldn't stop the tears from welling in his eyes. Xander was a good boy, better than he'd ever give himself credit for being; better than most people would ever give him credit for being. It was a shame he couldn't see it. Giles had never realized how observant the boy could be, noticing the little things like leaving the last doughnut for the children. He cared deeply for Xander, for all the children really, and any sacrifice for them was out of love, so it was worth any inconvenience to Giles. Yet, to realize that his actions had been observed and appreciated made Giles feel that much more valued. It was a very nice feeling indeed.
When he'd been moved by Willow's e-mail earlier, he'd fought back his emotions. Now, he was alone, there was no-one to hide from, so he let himself feel the overwhelming love and gratitude that ran though him. His sacrifice, his work, had not been taken for granted; they did really care. He swallowed convulsively, blinking back the tears; he might let himself feel deeply, but he was still too British to let himself cry. He took a deep breath, gathering his dignity, then smiled. It was nice to have a break from that deeply lonely feeling that was his constant companion.
He closed the e-mail window; tomorrow he'd have Willow print this one as well. After taking another minute to collect himself, he rose to go back to his office. There was more research to do, always more research to do. He'd just stepped into his office when a noise caused him to turn around.
Xander had walked into the library and was looking around. Spotting Giles, he walked over to the closest table.
"I thought Willow'd still be here," he said with no preamble. The look on his face was one that Giles hadn't seen before; more serious than normal.
"No, she left about half an hour ago," Giles replied, crossing to the table Xander was standing next to. "Is there something wrong?"
"Hmm? Oh, no, nothing wrong. I was just…hey, do you have any research or anything that you need me to do?"
The sudden change in subject threw Giles for a moment. He might have taken it for just one of the many shifts in Xander's personality, but something felt off.
"I appreciate the offer, but there isn't really anything for you to research right now. Unless of course you read Chinese." He'd intended for the remark to amuse Xander, but it seemed to have the opposite effect.
"No, sorry. I guess you can just add that the huge list of what Xander can't do." Xander turned, looking as if he were about to bolt out the door.
Giles reached out, putting a hand on Xander's arm to stop him. Xander stiffened, then looked at the floor mumbling some sort of apology, the words lost to Giles's ears.
"Xander," Giles said quietly. "What is wrong?"
"Nothing," Xander was still looking at the floor. "I just…my…it was 'list the things about Xander that bug us the most' night at home. I…I just wanted to…it's no big deal."
Suddenly Giles understood and the outrage he'd felt towards Xander's parents came back in force. He gestured to the table, pulling out a chair and sitting. Xander looked for a moment like he was going to leave anyway, then he too sat.
"Your parents were displeased with you over something?"
"When you say it like that, it doesn't sound so bad," Xander replied quietly, looking back at the floor. "Displeased makes it sound like they asked me to please wipe my feet the next time I come home. I'd say the reality is that they weren't displeased; they were pissed. Words were used like 'idiot' and 'loser' and let's not forget my personal favorite 'we wish you were never born.' Which I suppose is more than one word so it really doesn't count, does it?"
Giles didn't know how to respond to that.
"Did they…" Giles paused, not sure how to go on, but knowing he had to for Xander's sake. "Did they hurt you? Physically?"
"No," Xander's voice had gone even more quiet. "Not this time. Nothing worse than their telling me that they didn't want me for a son. Nothing new there."
Giles was relieved that Xander had been spared a beating. He was also pretty sure that had Xander's parents physically hurt him, Giles would have returned the favor to them; all in all, not a good scenario. Xander was looking at the floor again, his whole demeanor that of a whipped animal.
"Xander," Giles began, not knowing what he was going to say, but knowing that it needed to be said. "Your parents may be ignorant of your many special talents, but not everyone else is."
"Special talents?" Xander let out a harsh laugh. "Like what; my talent for screwing everything up?"
"I was rather thinking of your talent for lightening up a tense situation. Of course, there is your talent for thinking of others before yourself. Being so incredibly dependable is also a talent of sorts, as is being quick to learn something new."
Xander was looking at Giles like he was speaking a foreign language. Giles thought back over what he'd said, making sure he hadn't been. Satisfied, he simply sat and looked at the boy.
"Dependable?" Xander asked, disbelieving. "Me? When have I ever been dependable?"
"When it really counted, when the world was at stake, when have you ever let me down?"
Xander blinked, not really having an answer.
"Who was there when Buffy died to make sure she came back?" Giles went on. His voice was casual, but at the same time intense. "Who showed up in time to make sure a demon didn't cut my head off in the talent show? Who requisitioned us a rocket launcher when we faced the Judge? Who rescued me from Angelus and saw to it that I got medical care? You may joke and be frivolous at times, Xander, but when help is needed, you are the one we can count on to come through."
"I…I…" Xander shook his head. "I don't know what to say."
"That may be a first," Giles joked. "Xander, I am sorry that your parents don't appreciate you."
"Eh," Xander waved his comment off. "I can't really say I blame them. I wouldn't want a son like me; who would? And will you listen to me feeling sorry for myself. I guess I'd better go."
Xander stood up and Giles rose to follow. As Xander turned for the door, Giles stopped him.
"Hmm?" Xander turned to face Giles.
"You would what?" Xander looked completely perplexed.
"If I were to have a son, I would be very proud if he turned out like you."
Xander opened his mouth, looking for all the world as if he wanted to say something, but there seemed to be nothing to say. He pressed his lips together looking for a moment as if he were fighting tears and Giles felt mildly alarmed. Then Xander took a deep breath and tilted his head up to look at Giles.
"Thank you." It was simple and it sounded sincere. "Well, I guess I'd better go enjoy my night of camping."
"When my parents get mad at me it's easier if I sleep in the yard. Cuts down on waking up with someone shaking the stuffing out of you."
Giles swallowed his shock and tamped down his anger; Xander needed a friend, not an avenger.
"You know Xander, I have a sleeping bag at my flat and a couch as well. With the vampire population in this town it might be better if…" He left it hanging.
"I couldn't do that to you, G-man."
"You could if you stopped calling me that. I think I might even have to insist, in the interests of safety and all."
"Thanks, Giles," Xander said, watching as Giles turned out the lights in the library, closing up for the night.
"I should be thanking you. If you weren't sleeping over, I would still be in my office studying Chinese prophecies."
"You really need to get a new hobby."
"Will you need to call and let your parents know where you'll be tonight?"
"Na, they won't even notice I'm gone."
Giles nodded absently, his mind running over some of the evil things he'd like to do to Xander's parents.
"I'll drop you by your house in the morning on my way into school. I usually get here at 7:00," Giles said as he walked to the door. In his head, some part of him hoped that Xander's father would confront him when he took the boy home, but his better angels won out and he pushed that thought away.
"You get here early."
"I have a lot to do."
"Thanks again, Giles," Xander said following him out the door.
"Think nothing of it, Xander. Let's just say it's my way of saying…well, you know."
Xander stopped in his tracks, looking at Giles. Giles just smiled and shrugged, causing Xander to laugh.
"I guess this answers whether or not you got my e-mail," Xander laughed.
"I did and I appreciated it very much."
"Enough to make hot cocoa when we get to your place? With marshmallows? Maybe watch a movie?"
Giles shook his head and walked toward the parking lot. Xander followed behind him, shouting out further requests.
"We could bake cookies. Chocolate chip. Popcorn for the movie. Giles?"
Giles pretended to ignore Xander as they got into the car, just as he pretended that he wasn't so very pleased to get yet another reprieve from the loneliness. But as Xander looked over from his place in the passenger's seat, he could see a small smile tugging at the corner of Giles's lips and he smiled in return as he continued his request list.
Look for the final installment, I Can't Do This Without You.