Written for: raedbard for forty_or_better
Summary: summer between seasons 5 and 6.
Tara, Giles is pleasantly surprised to find out, makes excellent tea.
Every day, one or two of the children come by, with some feeble excuse and with concern in their eye. He feels like he’s under some kind of a suicide watch. He’s probably right. Willow removes his razor, and thinks she’s not transparent in her actions. Xander breaks the bottle of his best scotch and apologises profusely, blaming clumsiness.
Tara just makes him tea, moving around in his kitchen with confidence and purpose, even though she’s still looking up shyly from behind a curtain of blonde hair.
She asks him about Buffy. The other feel content with ignoring the topic completely, as if nothing had happened, or as if she was still alive, but Tara asks him about the high school stories, the demons and the prom night, and sifts through the few pictures he has of that time, sorting them chronologically and putting them into a leather-bound album.
He grips the delicate china cup a little bit too hard, but it’s better than not talking about it.
She helps him rearrange all the books into a new shelving system. The process never fails to sooth his nerves, or bring comfort, and it’s nice to have help from someone who knows why Lipwig’s Compendium has its rightful place next to Tolliver’s Encyclopedia.
Tara looks at some books as if they are long lost friends, her smile bittersweet, her long fingers caressing the spines.
“Take this one,” he offers impulsively, after she’s been holding Basic Spells by Dearheart for at least five minutes, absently turning the pages, not really reading at all.
She looks up, startled, but doesn’t refuse the offer. He approves, never turn down a book you want.
“My…my mother had one. Earlier edition. With the b-blue cover,” she offers shyly and he nods.
“The section on herbs had been revised. Maybe you’ll find it useful,” he says matter-of-factly, already turning away to the pile of demonology guides, by the authors, K-T.
“Thank you,” she says quietly, and goes back to sorting through spell books.
“You should stay,” she says one day in August, seemingly out of the blue.
He hides his surprise quite well, if he can say so himself. He’s not entirely sure how could know, but it’s true that he’s been checking the prices for one way tickets to London. He hadn’t made a decision yet, but…
“I hadn’t decided yet,” he offers. He doesn’t pretend to not know what she means, he owes her that much.
She nods, and smiles sadly, as if she didn’t believe him.
She’s watching him during the research nights, clearly aware that he doesn’t report his findings even when he has all the answers. He’s waiting for them to figure it out themselves, to find the right book, the right rituals.
She has probably figured it all out, knows that he’s preparing them for when he leaves.
He still hadn’t bought the ticket, but it’s only a matter of time. When he’s sure the children will be fine on their own. Just a few more days. Maybe weeks.
“You should stay,” she repeats in September, right in the middle of their discussion on healing spells.
“I can’t,” he answers simply, bowing his head.
“You won’t,” she clarifies softly, and reaches for his hand, tugging him closer to her.
She tastes like tea, sweet and bitter and warm and dark. Her fingers are already working on unbuttoning his shirt, as he trails kisses down her neck.
She throws her head back with a low sigh, and he looks at her searchingly before placing a gentle kiss on her shoulder.
“I’m still going,” he offers quietly, and gets a sad look in return.
“I know,” she mutters, running her fingers through his hair, looking up at him.
It’s a goodbye, of sorts, he thinks. But for the moment he’s content to be lost in kissing her.
He’ll buy the ticket in the morning.
* * *
Request 3 (wildcard--any fandom)
Fandom: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Character or pairing: Rupert Giles/Tara Maclay
What do we need to know about this pairing?: One man,
one woman. Could possibly be construed as pseudo
mentor/student only not really. Certainly a sizeable
Three things you want: Books, un/comfortable silence,
Two things you don't want: Anything is fine, really!
A/N: it's much shorter than I wanted it to be, and I'm sorry for that, but my brain kept rebelling...