Title: I Can't Do This Without You
Author's Name: Laura Sichrovsky
Fandom: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Season: Three, around the time Giles was fired.
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 sequels, That's
One Opinion, and Well, You know, this one won't make much sense. But if you have read them, then you know Willow
and Xander tried to make Giles realize what he means to the gang. This story is what happens when Buffy finds out
Spoilers: Nope. No spoilers in this one.
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.
Author's Notes: This should probably come with a Fluffiness Warning attached. People asked me to write a story with Buffy's
e-mail. I tried to, but she just didn't have one. Then someone asked me what Buffy would do if she found the
the e-mails the other two sent. That got in my head. After helping my daughter hang a picture board a friend had
given her, this story was created. I like the niceness in it and Buffy liked getting to thank her Watcher. So, this
is me, again wishing for more happy family moments. But I do love them. 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 Ann, who helped with the details and listened to me ramble. I love you! To Nikki, who helped me with the
wording THANK YOU! To Lisa, who poked the plot bunnies: This one is for you especially. To Samuel, for
understanding and sharing my obsessions. You come by it honestly, love. Thank you for everything. 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.
I Can't Do This Without You
The sound of wood on wood echoed through the library. To the casual observer walking past the room, nothing looked amiss. To the braver soul who ventured into the library proper, the sight would have been breathtaking. Rupert Giles, the school librarian, had shed his tweed jacket, rolled up his sleeves, and was doing battle using a quarterstaff. His opponent was a slight blonde student with the unique name of Buffy Summers.
The two were amazingly matched, trading blows that would make the faint of heart wince. Mr. Giles's size was negated by Buffy's speed and agility. The give and take was astonishing to watch, almost like a dance. Each knew the other's moves and timing, able to anticipate the blows before they came and to compensate for them. Buffy showed little mercy, slamming her staff into his, causing him to wince from the force of it. Yet Mr. Giles showed no sign of weakness or of yielding. In fact, he kept telling Buffy to stop holding back, stop moving so slowly, to show him how much damage a Slayer could do.
"You are dropping your shoulder," he called, circling around.
"And you're talking too much," Buffy retorted testily.
"Buffy, you must pay attention. If I were a demon, I'd have broken your nose by now."
"Giles, if you were a demon, you'd have never gotten this close."
"And how would you have stopped me?" His voice was a challenge.
"Oh, like this." Buffy rose to the bait.
She picked up her speed, the staff becoming a blur as blows slammed against Giles's staff, sounding thunderous in the quiet calm of the library. She surged forward, causing the librarian to back up a few steps, giving up ground to her superior fighting skills. She spun, graceful and deadly, bringing her staff up and under his, almost pulling it from his grasp.
He tightened his grip on it, lunging forward, catching her by surprise, causing her to stumble a step. He came around, sweeping low in an attempt to take her feet out from under her, but she leapt over his staff, coming down to the side, putting him off balance. He turned to meet her attack, but not quickly enough. Buffy whipped around and he turned his head just in time to step into the blow as Buffy brought her staff around to catch him full in the face. He stumbled back, almost going to his knees, but catching himself as he dropped the staff, his hands going to cover his face.
Buffy gasped, dropping her staff and running to his side.
"Oh Giles, I'm so sorry! Are you okay?"
She could see that he was bleeding under his hands, a slow, dark trickle, running down his chin. She expected that she'd broken his nose, split his cheek, maybe taken out an eye.
"Giles, move your hands." Her voice was shaking. "I need to see how bad it is."
"I'm…I'm fine." His voice was muffled by his hands, but she could tell it was strained from the pain.
"Giles, now. Move your hands or I'll go to the school nurse."
"Buffy, you can't do that. We'd have to explain how I was injured and I'm pretty sure sparring in the library is against some school rule."
"Then move your hands."
He dropped them, looking her in the eye. It wasn't as bad as she was expecting, but it might require stitches. She'd caught him just above his jaw line on the right side of his face. She hadn't split his cheek open, but she'd come close. The cut was about two inches long and while it wasn't deep, it was bleeding profusely.
"Oh Giles," Her voice was gentle as she touched the skin around the cut, testing to see how bad it really was. "I'm so sorry. I never meant to…"
"It's all right, Buffy." He winced. "This is why we spar. You did what you were supposed to. I'll be fine."
"I'll go get the first aid kit from your office. You sit."
She ran across the library, entering his office and crossing to his desk, where he kept the well stocked medical kit. It was in the top drawer and she had to move some papers to get to it. As she picked up the papers, she noticed Willow and Xander's names on them and stopped.
Frowning, she looked at the papers, noting they were printouts of e-mails. What in the world? Why were Willow and Xander sending e-mails to Giles? Shaking her head, she grabbed the first aid kit, taking the papers with her as she returned to Giles.
"Okay, I've got the kit. Let me clean the cut." She put the box on the table, setting the papers not too far away. She took an antiseptic pad from the kit, sitting on the library table, leaning forward for a better angle to clean the cut. "This is going to sting. Sorry. Hey Giles, can I ask you something?"
"Of course." He drew in a sharp breath as she dabbed at the cut and cleaned around it.
"When I went into the drawer to get the med kit, I found a couple of papers." She was looking at the cut closely, trying to decide if butterfly bandages were necessary. Deciding it was better to be safe, she pulled a couple out of the box. "This is going to pull. Sorry. Anyway, the papers? They are e-mails from Xander and Willow."
"Yes." He had his eyes closed and was breathing slowly as she pulled the edges of the cut together. "Was that the question?"
"No," she smiled, knowing he couldn't see it. "I was just…Well, I didn't read them, but why were they e-mailing you?"
"Perhaps if you did read them, you'd understand." Giles gasped as she pinched the skin tight and fastened it with the bandage, moving on to another spot a few centimeters over.
"You don't mind? I mean, they are yours."
"As a rule, I don't want you reading my mail, but in this case, I don't see the harm. All I ask is that you be careful with them."
Buffy had placed four butterfly bandages along the length of the cut. It looked like it would hold, saving him the need for stitches. She dug through the kit for a gauze pad, taping it over the cut to keep it clean.
"There. It looks bad, but it shouldn't need stitches, I think."
"Thank you, Buffy."
She put the supplies back in the box and he picked it up, taking it back to his office. Buffy picked up the papers, sitting at the table to read. She started with Willow's.
'When you sent your e-mail to Mr. Travers yesterday,' it read, 'you said that you were tired; tired of being ignored and treated as if you don't matter. You said that you gave up your life, your friends, everything to come here to train Buffy and to fight evil. And you said that the only gratitude you received was someone telling you that you aren't good enough. I thought about that and do you know something? You're right.'
Buffy stopped reading and frowned. Giles felt ignored? He thought he didn't matter? How was it that she didn't know this? She made a face. Of course she didn't know. He'd given up everything for her and she was too wrapped up in her own life to notice him. Now she felt guilty. With a sigh she went back to reading the e-mail. Willow said some nice things in there, things Buffy wished she'd thought to tell Giles. He really was important to her, even if she never told him so.
She finished the letter and moved on to Xander's.
'I was talking with Willow while she was printing things for you,' Xander's e-mail read, '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.'
Great. Now she was as bad as Cordelia? Self centered and ungrateful? She shook her head and went back to reading. Xander also said some wonderful things. She had no idea that he could be so articulate. She finished reading and sat there, staring off into the stacks, not really seeing anything. She was surprised when Giles touched her arm.
"Buffy? Are you all right?"
"Huh?" She looked up at him, her eyes wide. "Oh, yeah, I'm fine. Giles, why do you have these printed up?"
"I don't understand the question." He pulled out a chair and sat across from her.
"These are e-mails. You read them on the computer. Why print them up?"
"Ahh, well, I'm not very good with computers. I wanted to be able to read them at will, so I had Willow print them."
"Read them at will?"
"I appreciated the thought that went into them and I wanted to have them at hand to read."
"Do you read them often?"
He shrugged in reply. Buffy wasn't sure what it really meant, but she guessed it was his way of saying that he did. There was an awkward silence for a moment, then Buffy stood up.
"I'd better go. I have a ton of homework before patrol tonight."
"Be careful and please call when you get in tonight." Giles stood, collecting a few books as he talked.
"I will. Night."
Giles took the books to the counter and went into his office. Buffy noticed that he'd left the letters on the table. An idea came to her and she smiled, picking up the letters and leaving.
The next morning when she walked into the library, Buffy was surprised to see papers and books everywhere. In the middle of the chaos, Giles was going from table to table, frantically looking for something while Willow trailed behind him.
"It's okay, Giles," the red haired witch was saying. "Calm down. I can reprint them."
"If the computer hasn't eaten them," Giles muttered.
"What is going on?" Buffy asked, stepping into the fray.
"Do you know what happened to those printed e-mails?" Giles inquired, turning to face Buffy.
"I realized this morning that I can't find them." His brow was furrowed and his voice sounded worried.
"I'll go reprint them right now," Willow said, going to the computers.
"I was going to read them this morning as I usually do, but I couldn't…" Giles stopped talking, his eyes wide. He blushed deeply as he realized that he'd said too much.
"You read them every morning?" Buffy asked gently.
"Well…It's just…I…" He trailed off, blushing even more.
"It's a good way to start the morning?" Buffy softly touched his hand and smiled at him.
"Giles, I'm sorry, but there must be a system glitch," Willow said from her place in front of the computer. "I can only find Xander's in your mailbox. I'll reprint that, then I'll look and see if I saved a copy to my sent mail."
Giles nodded again, looking away. Buffy felt terrible, but she didn't say anything; it was for a higher cause after all. She left the library, going to her locker to get her books. She looked at the large paper bag in her locker and smiled. She had a free period at nine. She'd finish up then.
At lunch time, Buffy walked into the library carrying a large flat package, wrapped in plain brown paper. She set it on a table and walked over to the circulation desk, where Giles was checking in books. He didn't even look up and he was frowning.
He nodded in acknowledgement.
"Is everything okay?" She asked.
"Giles?" Buffy was starting to worry. This was so unlike his normal behavior.
"Willow couldn't find a copy of the e-mail she sent," he replied, not looking up. His voice was flat and emotionless. "I know I am being silly, but…"
"It really means something to you, doesn't it?" Buffy asked quietly.
He nodded again. Buffy leaned on the counter, getting closer to him.
"Giles, do you really think we…do you feel unappreciated?" Her voice was tentative.
"I must confess," Giles sighed. "Some days I really do."
Buffy reached out and lightly touched the gauze pad on his face.
"Like when I pummel you, day after day, and never say thanks?"
"I'll admit," Giles said with a smile. "Some nights, when I'm sitting at home, sipping tea with an ice pack on my shoulder, waiting for the painkillers to kick in, I do feel a bit…undervalued."
At Buffy's frown, he continued, his voice more gentle.
"But, when I see you fighting a demon, when you are flawless and amazing, when I see you use moves that I taught you, I feel a sense of pride and I know that I'm needed here."
Buffy smiled at him, touching his hand.
"You are needed here, Giles. Very much so."
He blinked at her in surprise. She turned and got the package from the table. It was long and flat, the size of a poster and about an inch thick. She brought it to the counter and handed it to him.
"I have something for you."
He looked at her, surprised.
"First off, please don't get upset."
"Buffy, that's not the best thing to say when giving someone a gift."
"You'll understand when you see it," Buffy laughed.
He arched an eyebrow at her and pulled the paper off. It was a wooden frame, the size of a large poster. It was covered with green material that had little, smiling cartoon monsters on it. In the middle was a 5x7 laminated picture of Buffy, Xander, Willow, and Giles. It had been taken in Buffy's yard by her mother. In it they were all smiling, arms around each other. Giles looked decidedly uncomfortable, but he had an arm around Xander's shoulders. On either side of the picture were the missing letters. They were also laminated and held to the board by green ribbon at the corners. Green ribbon crisscrossed the rest of the board. In various places, held by the ribbon, were pictures: Buffy and Willow, back to back, holding crossbows and posing like Charlie's Angels; Xander looking up from a book; Buffy and Giles, sparring with quarterstaves; Xander and Giles sharing doughnuts.
Giles looked up at her, his eyes wide.
"Buffy…I…" Words failed him.
"When I was at Hemery, it was the thing for friends to make these picture boards for each other. You covered them in material that symbolized what the other person liked and they hung it on their wall and put pictures on it. I got pretty good at making them. When I saw how important these letters were to you, I thought…well, I thought this would be a nice way to display them. That's why I took them. I never meant to make you sad. I had the material in my room. Willow got it for me because it made us laugh. I laminated the stuff in the office this morning. Miss Gayland owed me a favor. I added the pictures in study hall. I left you space so you can add more. See, this way, you don't have to hide the letters in a drawer. You can put this up and every time you see it, you'll remember how important you are to us."
Giles was looking down. He didn't know what to say. Buffy wasn't the type of person to express her feelings. He knew she cared, but she'd never really said it. The closest she'd come had been when Jenny died and Buffy had told him that she couldn't do this without him. He'd never forgotten those words; some days they were the only thing that kept him going.
Now…she hadn't said anything really, but this gift…so much thought had gone into it. He looked at the pictures she'd chosen, reminders of a life they shared, of battles won, love exchanged, of family. He swallowed hard, fighting back tears.
She was everything to him, his purpose for getting up every day, the reason he'd left his life behind and forged a new one. She was his friend, his family. He'd learned not to expect much from her emotionally, being as she wasn't demonstrative in her affections. Just knowing that she lived to fight another day because of him was enough. He looked up, his vision blurred by tears he refused to shed. He blinked them away.
"Buffy…" His voice broke. He took a deep breath and smiled at her. "Will you help me find a place to hang this?"
"I was thinking," she grinned at him. "Maybe on that wall next to your desk? That way when you walk in you'll see it."
Chatting amiably, they hung the board on the wall. Giles stepped back to look at it.
"Good job if I do say so myself. Thank you for the help, Buffy." He took a deep breath. "And thank you for…"
"You deserved it," she said softly. "And now I have to go or I'll be late for Chem. class. See you later, Giles."
He watched her leave, then he gathered up the brown wrapping paper to throw it away. A small piece of cardboard fell out. He picked it up, noticing it had writing on it.
'Giles, I still can't do this without you. I wouldn't want to try. Love you, Buffy.'
He swallowed, taking a deep breath. He turned and went back into the office, walking over to the picture board. After careful consideration, he put the card on the board next to a picture of Buffy and himself that Willow had taken; they were laughing about something, her hand resting on his arm.
He went back to work, but for the rest of the day, he couldn't stop himself from looking in at the board every time he walked by. Buffy was right, he would think about it every time he saw it, would remember that he was important to them, that he had a family. And that was a wonderful feeling.