WDWG - Chapter 38: Vibrations
Sighing in frustration, Buffy pulled off her reading glasses and glared angrily at her laptop screen. She'd spent the early morning documenting her thoughts and ideas for the Academy, chatting with Willow online, and sending emails to her sister and to Faith. Now she had one last email to send, this one to Daniel McTavish, with some of Thomas Giles' writings supporting her thoughts regarding the relationship between the Council and the Slayers. She blinked her eyes several times trying to stave off the nagging headache that threatened to make its presence known when she felt a strong hand start to knead the base of her neck, the thumb methodically moving its way up from the base of her neck to her skull.
"I can't sit very long in front of the computer before my brain wants to pound its way out of my head," Buffy complained, rubbing her eyes with her hands
"The glasses aren't helping?"
"Maybe it's the resolution."
"No, the resolution is fine," Giles said, looking over her shoulder. "Perhaps reading glasses picked up at the chemist's aren't the answer. We should have you see an optometrist."
"Do Slayers even need glasses?"
"Not for distance, surely, but I honestly don't know."
Buffy sighed again. "Well, distance is not an issue. Just seems to come while deciphering your dad's ornate script and staring at a computer screen for a while. Probably just eye strain."
"Probably," he agreed. "You've been rather focused since we've returned, our outings notwithstanding."
She turned and looked up at him, taking in his sweaty, disheveled appearance, and scrunched up her nose. "You smell like horses and hay," she stated.
"Yes, well, that does happen when one goes riding and tends the horses," he snarked as he stopped massaging her neck. She stuck her tongue out at him. "Put that away unless you are going to use it, love."
He laughed and bent down to kiss the top of her head. "I missed you this morning. First ride you've skipped since coming home."
"Sorry about that," she apologized. "I just needed to write down my thoughts, and then Willow popped online so we talked for a bit. I still need to get this email out to Daniel."
"How is Willow?"
"Good. Busy. Kennedy went home to visit her folks. She should be back in September, but she says they definitely aren't together anymore. I told her we could assign Kennedy to Headquarters. You know she's going to want to be in the thick of the action anyway."
Giles nodded, "Yes, I agree that it's the right fit for her."
Buffy rolled her head from side to side and shook out her shoulders.
"Yeah, the massage helped, thanks."
"Wish I could do more. Blasted splint."
"Two more weeks?"
"Hopefully," Giles answered. "Anna did send me an email requesting to do another round of x-rays in the next few days. I'll have to arrange a time to go see her."
"Or we could invite her here. She has the portable x-ray machine."
"We could, but I am sure we'll have our hands full with Willow and Xander."
"They're all family, Giles, and Anna did visit Will last week to check out the scythe."
"I know. I'm just not ready for a family reunion that crosses the streams, so to speak."
"Was that, a pop reference?" Buffy got up from her chair and confronted him with a look of awe on her face. "Oh my god, that was!"
"A movie that is almost twenty years old can hardly be considered a 'pop reference,' Buffy, and I'll have you remember that Ghostbusters is one of Xander's favorites. He drags it out almost every Halloween."
"I'm not entirely stuffy, you know," he said defensively, shoving his hands in his pockets and hunching his shoulders.
Buffy moved closer and put her arms around his neck, "I know," she agreed. "The others know that too." Studying his face, she asked, "Ru, why don't you want Anna here when Xander and Willow are here?"
He sighed and pulled out of her embrace, taking off his glasses. "Darling, when we arrived here, were you ready to jump into a world consisting of earls and ladies, estate houses and formality?"
"Anna's not the formal type," she answered. "Are you embarrassed by Xander and Will?"
"Heavens no!" Giles denied vehemently. "Not at all," he continued, leading her over to the sofa. They sat down and got comfortable while he placed his glasses down on the table in front of them. "Even though our time off, as it were, has been riddled with Council matters, we've still managed to enjoy a bit of a holiday. Willow escaped to Spain with Kennedy and has also spent her time recharging at the Coven. Xander's trip across the country, however, has not been the distraction he had envisioned. He found four new Slayers and delivered them safely to Faith and Robin. Now, he gets to come here and begin work on repurposing Hawkingridge."
"And you're saying he could use some quiet time."
"I'm saying that what time he does get to relax should be spent around those he feels most comfortable with. Those he considers family. Anna is a force of nature who would love to have the opportunity to collude with you three, find out as much as she can about our history together, and spend the rest of the time with you lot teasing me no end but, that sort of evening should be shared when all parties are in the same place emotionally. I don't believe Xander is ready for that."
Buffy took his good hand in hers. "You're really worried about him."
"He's an adult and able to make his own decisions," Giles stated with a sigh of frustration. "Had it been up to me, I wouldn't have let him go off on his own after the trauma he's suffered both physically and emotionally."
"Xander will be here day after tomorrow, we'll make sure he has his down time, and you can keep a watcher-ly eye on him," she said as she gave him a hug.
"Very good," he replied before changing the subject. "Now, Daniel can wait. Shut down the computer before that headache reappears, I have plans for us this afternoon and I don't want them spoiled."
"Oh? What are we doing?" Buffy asked, walking over to the desk and closing the laptop.
Standing up, he replied, "It's a surprise."
"You'd better shower first. Can't have my fiancé smelling like a sweaty horse," she teased.
As he passed her to leave the room, Giles leaned down to kiss her on the cheek. "Get yourself something to eat, I shan't be long."
"Where are we heading?" Buffy shouted over the road noise as the wind blew through her hair. They were racing down narrow roads across the countryside enjoying the beautiful summer day in the Morgan Roadster.
She'd watched Giles through the kitchen window as he backed out the retro sports car from the garage and put the top down while she finished washing up from her lunch. Giles had been wearing that secretive smirk since announcing he'd made plans for them, and after he'd come down from his shower and told her to put on comfortable shoes and wear her hair in a ponytail, she'd been all the more curious. She'd tried to get more out of him, but he absolutely refused to even give her a hint. It amused him to surprise her and she'd resigned herself to his whim. Upon meeting him at the Morgan, ready to take off, she had noticed him placing one of her light cardigan sweaters in between their seats and raised an eyebrow.
"You might get chilly," he'd answered with a shrug of his shoulders.
"You've thought of almost everything," she'd said, standing on her toes to give him a quick kiss. "But Seamus won't fit in the roadster."
"Seamus isn't coming with us today. Sarah will come up to the house to keep him company later," he'd explained, referring to their housekeeper. "Today is just for us."
Giles had flashed her a smile and moved to open the car door for her, offering his hand to steady her as she took her seat. When she was settled, he'd closed the door and run around to the driver's side to climb in.
Buffy waited for his response as Giles shifted into a lower gear and stepped on the gas. The car raced around a bend and over a rise before he shifted into a higher gear, reducing the RPMs as they sped down the straightaway, his hair rustling in the breeze over the windscreen.
"You'll see," Giles shouted back. Conversation wasn't easy when the top was down. "Not long now."
The one thing Buffy had noticed since arriving in England was that it took much longer to get to where you were going than it did in the States. The roads were narrower and at times twisty, resulting in slower speeds and longer travel times unless one had the luxury of traveling on the Motorways, which, at the moment, they did not. A Roads were usually wider and had lane markings. Sometimes there were even four lanes, but nothing was really standard. Most of the roads they took were about a lane and a half wide, B Roads at best, enough for two competent drivers to navigate, but still, what she would normally expect to be a thirty minute drive on the map turned out to be more like forty-five minutes to an hour in reality. It all depended on the width of the road, speed, traffic, old people, people learning to drive, farm equipment or livestock using the road, and lost tourists. The worst were lost foreign tourists who were unable to determine the width of the road or which side they were supposed to drive on. At least the livestock blocking their way were amusing.
Buffy settled into her seat and enjoyed the ride. Giles loved driving the Morgan and she loved how relaxed driving the country roads made him, unfazed by the obstacles that occasionally slowed down their trip. Yet, as excited as she was to get to their destination, she couldn't help but worry about the wolfhound they'd left behind.
"I hope Seamus is managing on his own," Buffy said, her voice laced with concern.
Giles glanced over at her with a sympathetic look. "He'll be fine, love. My uncle has left him alone countless times before."
"Yes, but he's always had Ivey there, and the household staff."
"Seamus won't be alone for long, and you saw how he took to Sarah when he met her on our walk the other day. Should something be amiss when she arrives to feed him, she will phone," he reassured her, placing his splinted left hand on her knee. "Let's enjoy our day out, shall we?"
Buffy gave him a smile and rested her head against his shoulder. While it wasn't exactly a comfortable position given that driving along the country roads required Giles to shift gears frequently, she enjoyed the closeness. Since their return from Hawkingridge, the couple had become aware of a new level of intimacy between them and neither wanted to be without the other nearby. It wasn't neediness. They just felt a magnitude of peace and contentment they hadn't before in each other's presence.
By mutual consent they forewent the rigors of training in lieu of the more relaxed atmosphere that rambling across the countryside or riding the horses along the various trails that criss-crossed their little corner of Somerset afforded them, and, as always they were accompanied by their faithful hound on their outings. They had found the respite that both of them had needed after the whirlwind visit to the estate.
It was Giles' newfound openness after candidly speaking about his father that had brought the two closer, and Buffy felt a sense of awe at the trust she'd been given with regards to his past and his feelings. He'd given her his heart and soul when he'd proposed, but there was much more to them than that. It was much like finding out that the pretty rock you were holding in your hand was, in fact, a diamond: there was so much more beneath the surface. And she treasured it, finding a depth of love she hadn't known existed previously.
As they came over a rise, Buffy's attention shifted to the sight before her. Off in the distance just to her right rose the monolithic structure of Stonehenge and she sat up straight in her seat.
"Whoa!" The statement came out like a forced whisper, reverent in its tone.
Giles heard her over the road noise and smiled to himself. The majesty of the Neolithic monument rising from the Salisbury Plain was certainly an awe inspiring sight, one that pictures do no justice and inspires millions of people a year to come from around the world to visit. A place of pilgrimage still in the modern age as people look for inspiration of all kinds.
Pulling into the car park, Giles found a spot in a field for overflow parking. When he turned off the engine, he looked at her and asked, "Ready?"
"You bet! This is so awesome!"
He came around and opened the door for her and after she stepped out, he reached into the glove box and pulled out a camera bag.
"Good thinking, Ru," Buffy said as he took the camera out and snapped a quick photo of her, capturing her exuberant smile.
They walked towards the admissions kiosk hand-in-hand and after a few yards, Buffy stopped and tilted her head, her expression serious and curious at the same time.
"What is it, love?"
"Not sure just yet. Nothing... bad. Just... different. Let's go."
Giles nodded and wrapped his arm around her shoulder and she circled her arm around his waist as they continued their walk through the car park to the entrance to the site. After paying the entrance fee, the couple walked down through the tunnel under the road and up onto the grounds.
Buffy stopped short as soon as she reached the walking path that circled the monument, as did several other tourists as they came up from the tunnel, the sheer size and magnitude catching her off guard.
"Everything alright?" Giles asked, squeezing her to him.
"Yeah, just blown away by the moment."
"It's a common reaction," he acknowledged. "Do you mind if I walk around and take a few photos?"
"No, go ahead. Don't let me hold you up. I'll just check things out at my own pace."
"I shan't be long," he said as he bent down for a kiss.
The Slayer walked slowly along the path. Something had been niggling at her since the moment she stepped out of the car, and the fact that Giles had been so nonchalant about her reaction earlier bothered her. Usually when she felt a strange sensation, he was the first to jump. Something was up and he was waiting for her to figure it out.
Stopping about a quarter of the way around the stone circle, Buffy looked down at the brochure in her hand and decided to read up on the history of Stonehenge and the surrounding area, hoping it would give her a clue as to what that strange feeling in her gut was. She moved off the path into the grass near the edge of the outer boundary and started to read. Before long, she was engrossed in the narrative grasping for clues, but nothing really grabbed her attention.
Strong arms embraced her from behind, startling her, and she braced herself for battle, her heart racing in fight or flight mode, before she felt the calming presence of her Watcher.
"Don't sneak up on me like that!" she scolded.
"Shhh, put the leaflet away and relax. You're overthinking this," Giles whispered into her ear. "Breathe with me."
Buffy folded the brochure, stuck it in her pocket, and closed her eyes, covering his hands with hers. After a few deep breaths, she relaxed her body into his, and he pulled her in tighter, closing his eyes and resting his cheek against hers. To the average person, they were just lovers enjoying an embrace, but the Watcher and Slayer were clearing their thoughts and focusing on their surroundings together, breathing together as one.
"What do you feel?" Giles murmured, keeping the atmosphere around them calm.
"The earth... I feel the earth," Buffy answered. "It's energy."
"Yes," he confirmed, but his tone implied that he wanted more from her.
"Magick!" she finally declared, her eyes opening.
"Mmm," he whispered, "how does it make you feel?"
"Strong... no... stronger than I have since we arrived. No, that's not right... just... balanced," she breathed. "What do you feel?" she asked, knowing Giles' history with magick, wanting to understand how the place affected him.
"I feel the earth through you. Your vibration, your 'thrum,'" he answered in a low voice, his breath caressing her ear.
Her breath hitched in her throat. "What's it like?"
"Intoxicating." His tone was mesmerizing and sensual, and Buffy suddenly wished they weren't in such a public place. He felt the change in her body and opened his eyes, alert to the heady atmosphere between them. Letting her go, he stepped to her side.
Buffy looked up at him, a pretty blush rising from beneath her T-shirt to her cheeks. His eyes were a darker green and seemed to glow even in the afternoon light. "That was intense."
"Yes, sorry, I had no idea..."
She moved in front of him and stood on her toes to give him a kiss. "I'm not complaining."
They started to walk slowly around the stones, her hand in his, a silence washing over them. There was something about the monument that kept the noise levels to a minimum even with a large crowd of tourists and bus loads full of unleashed school children milling about.
"So, it's not about the stones?" Buffy asked in a hushed tone, her eyes on the ancient circle.
"Well, yes and no. Long before the stones, during Mesolithic times, people had constructed earthworks here, and erected wooden posts. The people knew this area to be a place of power, so they built the henge and buried their dead here in the Stonehenge complex which is more than just the monument itself. The stones were brought here for a reason; the energy, the magick. People worshipped here. People still worship here during the summer and winter solstices, but there is power in the stones as well," Giles explained. "There are two types of stone, different in their crystalline structure and most certainly chosen for their properties, the bluestones and the sarsen stones. Stonehenge was built over several thousands of years and each addition was consecrated by the peoples who brought them here. It is that consecration that lends the stones their power."
"So the power is concentrated through consecration."
He chuckled. "Yes, the stones concentrate the energy here."
"What's it like? My thrum?" she queried, turning towards him as they walked along.
Giles stopped and reached out to thread the fingers of his right hand through her hair. "It's lovely," he responded, his eyes now pale green and soft. "Vibrant and steady, and every fourth cycle begins with a grace note of sorts that wasn't there when you were younger."
"You did say it was different when we first talked about it at Greys Keep."
"It's different now from then too. Lower on the harmonics scale."
"I wish I knew what that meant."
By silent agreement they started walking again, side by side without touching.
"When I first met you," the Watcher began, "you were full of nervous energy. You hardly sat still and I could barely keep up with you, let alone understand you. You talked so quickly, were constantly on the move, and had no time for research. Your vibration was at a much higher harmonic and was very chaotic in its rhythm."
"I was so restless, but things settled down after we started training."
"They did. We were able to channel that energy into productive outlets."
"Like kicking your ass."
"Yes, well... you are the Slayer."
"A Slayer," Buffy corrected. "One of many now."
"Always the Slayer, Buffy, always to me, and always mine. The others are Slayers, formidable in their own right, but they will never hold a candle to you."
It was her turn to stop their walk and she grabbed his hand, pulling him towards her to hug him tightly. "I don't know where I would be without you, Giles. I love you so much."
"And I, you," he answered, bending his head to gently kiss her lips. "It's interesting here. The energy seems to amplify the vibration, do you feel it at all?"
"In research mode?" She felt his agreement in the form of a chuckle. "No. I guess it's just a part of me. I just feel balanced, at peace. I think a lot of that is circumstantial, though. We're closer now than we were before we left for Hawkingridge, I'm done with the Slaying on a regular basis, we're more or less settled at home, and Willow and Xander are coming. Dawn will be joining us in the fall and will start a new school. Things are good, you know? Great, in fact."
He beamed at her. "They are. When we were estranged your first year in college, your vibration was frenetic, almost like when we'd first met. I knew you're life was in upheaval with the uncertainties of college, leaving home, and my mistakes. I tried to right them, but you'd moved on."
"I'm sorry for getting so self involved. It was a bad time for all of us."
"Let's leave the past where it needs to be. Otherwise, we'll be apologizing to each other for the rest of our life together, instead of enjoying it," Giles soothed, rubbing her back. She nodded her head and he continued, "Thinking on it, perhaps the thrum is a reflection of the Slayer. Because when we were training together the following year, despite the trials you faced, it was still high, not as high as before, but it was... calmer, more measured, and orderly. I remember it distinctly. I don't know if you remember, but the night you beat Travers, you hugged me before you left the Magic Box, and you were humming with confidence. It was beautiful."
"Why didn't you ever tell me about it?"
"I don't know. It was just a part of you like the color of your eyes or your accent," Giles explained, his eyes glinting with mischief.
"I do not have an accent!" Buffy protested with a grin.
His teasing smile answered hers. "Need I remind you where we are now?" he replied smugly and she let go of him and crossed her arms over her chest, knowing he had won this round of their verbal sparring.
"Fine," she conceded with a goodnatured huff. "But when I was looking for answers about what the Slayer is, why didn't you say something about it then?"
"I suppose the opportunity never presented itself, there was always some crisis or another that we had to deal with. And there wasn't much to tell as there is a distinct lack of information on it. So much so that the Council scholars have debated its very existence for generations."
They continued their walk around the stones until they came full circle. Buffy stood still, considering the monument and its environment.
"I guess Watchers don't have thrums," Buffy stated, putting her hand to his chest. "I've been trying to feel one on you, but I just feel your presence, just like I always have."
He covered her hand with his and squeezed it. "No, no magick was performed in creating the Watcher. We are just ordinary men and women who are called to fill an extraordinary role in the life of an exemplary warrior. As you know, the Shadow Men had meant Slayers to walk this world alone. The Powers had something to say about that."
"There is nothing ordinary about you, Rupert Giles."
"And you are an extraordinary woman, Buffy Summers, Slayer or no," he complimented, taking her over to a particularly photogenic spot. "Now, stand here and look beautiful."
Buffy posed for some touristy pictures before insisting she take a few of Giles. After a few serious and silly poses and the couple trying to capture a shot together with the cameral held at arms length, a young woman offered to take their picture, stating that she was a photography student from Edinburgh.
Giles handed over the camera and waited for the instructions from their photographer. She took her time putting the couple into poses and then took the shots she wanted. When the photo shoot was over, she checked her handiwork on the display, and handed the camera back.
"I'm Carrie and thanks for letting me take the snaps. I was watching the two of you earlier. You're a gorgeous couple and there's a ton of energy radiating off the two of you. Anyway, send me the files in email, yeah? And I'll edit them properly and send them back." The girl fished out a card from her bag and wrote her email address on it before passing it to Buffy. "Well, my class is leaving," she said, edging away from the couple in a hurry. "Don't forget! Email!" she called back after a moment as she ran to catch up with her group.
Turning the camera so that the display faced them, Giles scrolled through the photos, surprisingly pleased with the pictures the photography student had taken.
Buffy was delighted. She couldn't remember the last time she and Giles had had their picture taken together. "Edits or not, we'll need to get this one printed out on glossy paper," she said, pointing to a candid shot Carrie had taken of them enjoying a quiet moment between them as they looked at each other adoringly, the stones standing behind them, almost as if they were guarding the moment.
"It is my favorite as well," Giles agreed before placing the camera back into its carrier.
As they walked back to the roadster, hands clasped together and fingers entwined, Buffy looked up at her fiancé thoughtfully. "You got a magickal boost here," she finally said as they reached the car door.
Giles let go of her hand and placed the camera bag back into the glove box. "I did."
"The Coven performed the teleportation spell from around here, didn't they? When they sent you back... to confront Willow."
The Watcher looked at her, his eyes wide. "A few kilometers away, but yes, how did you...?"
"You're buzzing with the same energy. Why didn't they do it in Devon?"
"The borrowing of magicks and opening the portal for teleportation required the help of an ancient power source. There are places in Devonshire that would've sufficed, but due to the urgent nature of the situation, we met here."
"You're a lot more powerful than you lead on, Ru," she commented as she got into the car. "I could feel it."
Giles got in and turned on the ignition and the Morgan roared to life. Leaning back in the seat, he reached for the key, and turned the engine off. He then stared at the steering wheel before shifting in his seat and turning to face her, his jaw set and his eyes serious.
"It was something I had to give up years ago, Buffy, conditional of coming back to the Council, and I swore only to call upon certain magicks in the case of extreme emergencies. That's part of my penance for those deeds long ago. If I could have aided you more in our years together on the Hellmouth, I would have." He reached out and cupped her cheek. "I swear to you."
Buffy placed her hand over his, her voice soft and full of reverence when she said, "Giles, you are my hero. You've been there at every major apocalypse, at every impossible turn, fighting next to me, aiding me, willing to die for me, magick or not. We did all that we could with all that we had and we won."