watcher & his slayer

FRAGMENT: Giles and Buffy, early interaction

Disclaimer: I claim no ownership and am making no money.

Another fragment that will never show up in the final version. Buffy visits Giles' flat for the first time. I kinda like this young Buffy.

Giles had just finished washing up after dinner that night when he heard the door knocker go. He opened the door to find Buffy standing there, in a shorter dress and with more makeup on her face than usual. Delight shot through him, and he knew it showed on his face. She waved up at him. "Hiya! Woah, look at you with no tie on!" He stepped aside and gestured, in the fashion of a polite man who knew that vampires existed. She traipsed in as if she lived there and moved to stand near his desk. She turned over the books he had out. He was glad he'd tucked his journal away in the drawer.

"I'm happy to see you, Buffy. What brings you here?"

"I wanted to check out the Watcher digs. Merrick's were pretty weird. He lived in, like, an abandoned factory or something." She looked around at his fireplace and his leather couch. "Your place is much more normal." She looked at him. "You're more normal. You dress better. Merrick had this grody overcoat thing going. Total Mr Perv 1996 look. You're geeky but sweet, sort of Hugh Granty. Aside from that Bovine stuff, or whatever it is that you like to drink. That sounds kinda yuck."

"Bovril, and I was joking. Er, would you like some tea? I'll just put the kettle on."

"I drink coffee, Giles."

"I'll, I'll have coffee for your next visit." She gave him a look. He turned his back on it and went into his kitchen.

She followed him in and fiddled with his spice rack, pulling bottles out and reading the labels. "Your house is like ours. Not lived in yet. Like you have spices for the stuff you've cooked since you got here, and only that stuff. Not enough to fill your rack." She spun around the kitchen wall and perched on a stool, peering in toward him over the counter. "No piles of crap everywhere. Though you are a piles of crap person normally."

"I object to that characterization," he said.

"Okay, piles of books. See, you've got one started on your desk. And your office definitely has them already."

"Well, perhaps." He gave his quick soundless laugh.

"How long have you been here?"

"Five weeks."

"No, don't tell me you moved out here right before Christmas."

"I did."

"That must have bit. Why couldn't you have had one last Christmas in merry old?"

He shrugged. "I was sent a couple of weeks after we found out about Merrick. We didn't want you to be alone any longer than you had been already." He leaned casually back against the counter. "Would you tell me about him?"

"Why? Do you have to send in a report or something?" Her voice had gone flat.

"No, actually," he said. "I was more thinking of you. How it must have affected you."

"It sucked," she said. Her voice went light again. "Didn't you know him?"

"Not well. He spent most of his time in America, and I was in London." Giles acceded to her wish for a lighter tone. He would come back to this later. Perhaps when they knew each other better, when she'd learned to trust him. Or when she'd learned to care for him as much as she'd obviously cared for Merrick. If.

"I thought you guys were some kind of secret society and were tight with each other. The International Order of Odd Watchers, with funny hats and parades on the Fourth."

Giles decided not to untangle that sentence, but said mildly, "The Watcher's Council of Great Britain. Created by royal order in 1540." After the dissolution of the monasteries, when somebody had pointed out to Henry that he still needed a well-funded group of demon-hunters. He rather thought Buffy would be uninterested in those details.

"Hats? Special handshake?"

"Er, no." The kettle whistled. He poured a little into the pot and swirled it in his hands. Buffy watched him intently as he began the ritual of tea-making, so he talked through each step for her. He set up the tray: milk in a little pitcher, sugar bowl, biscuits on a plate, two cups and spoons. He carried it out to the couch and coffee table. They sat. He poured a cup for her, and watched in horror as she loaded sugar cubes into it.

"This would taste okay if it was fizzy," Buffy said, with such a wicked look on her face that he realized she'd done it just to wind him up.

He watched her as they talked. Or maybe it needed the capital: he Watched her. Everything about her. From the girlishness of her dress, despite its attempt at provocative display, to her odd shoes, impractical for combat, to the many studs in her ears, to the streaks in her mostly-blonde hair, to her bright grin under wary eyes. He knew it was the magic, settling inside him, that made him love her so quickly. He didn't mind. It was what he had expected, had wanted.

"So, what was it you were going to tell me about Merrick?" he said, stirring his own tea. One lump.

"You're pretty different from him, really. You've already explained more to me about how things work than he did the whole time. Though I dunno. He did have to spend a lot of time trying to convince me that I had to kill vampires."

"Whereas I only had to spend one day convincing you," he said, dryly.

"Yeah, you had the advantage of meeting me after I'd already learned the word 'Slayer'." She took a biscuit, examined it doubtfully, then ate it.

"Did you train in the, er, abandoned factory?"

"Yeah. Lots of space. He didn't have books like you do. He was way more into the weapons thing. You don't have any weapons here."

"Oh, I do," said Giles. "The good ones are in that chest over by the kitchen entry. And there are more in the hall closet. The everyday weapons are all in the library, though."

"*You* know how to fight?" He supposed he didn't look it, sitting there with china teacup in hand, in jacket and striped button-down shirt. Buffy might expect a warrior to look like an actor in a martial arts film, tanned, oiled, wearing clothing that showed off smooth muscles.

"I do," he told her. "And I know how to use weapons. Quite a few of them. If it's a question of raw strength, Buffy, you're more than a match for me. But when it comes to technique, or cunning, I am a great deal more skilled than you."

"You think you can take me?"

"That's not the point. I wouldn't want to. I am here to teach you what I know. In, in a great number of areas. Combat, languages, meditation, magic..."

"Merrick taught me how to fight." She shifted restlessly on the couch.

"Merrick began to teach you how to fight. He began to teach you how to use the gifts the Powers granted you. I can tell by watching you that you'd only just started to learn."

Anger flashed onto her face, but he watched her push it down and control herself. "So you're like my own Mr Miyagi. Wax on, wax off." She made odd palms-forward motions with her hands.

"Pardon?"

She gave an exasperated sigh. "We have so got to show you a movie made since 1940. My private instructor."

"Ah. Yes. Exactly that." He emptied his cup and returned it to the table. "What did you most enjoy learning from Merrick?"

"He threw knives at me a lot. I liked that. He also let me throw them. I started getting pretty good at it. Okay, scary good at it. He tried teaching me some kick-boxing, or something like that, but we didn't get very far. That was fun. I like kicking the crap out of vamps."

Of course she would. His eyes crinkled and he suppressed a laugh. "We can certainly teach you how to kick. And I have throwing knives. We'll start with those this week. And general conditioning and flexibility. Did you do any yoga with Merrick?"

"Wow, no. Do guys do yoga?" Buffy took a second biscuit. Apparently they'd passed muster.

"Yes. It has its uses. It helps with meditation."

"I am picturing you doing yoga in a jacket and tie." She snickered. "No, we didn't do any of that stuff."

"No magic?"

"Magic is real?"

"Goodness, yes. I take it the answer is no, Merrick didn't show you what magic can do." He'd give it one shot. "There's a magic ritual we could do now, you and I. To make the Watcher thing official. It would bind me to you before the Powers." His stomach felt odd. Yes, and there went his breathing. Almost out of his control.

"The Powers? Merrick kept mentioning those too."

"The Powers That Be. Ah, essentially, God."

"Oh. Merrick never talked about magic and bondage stuff."

"Well, since he didn't mention magic at all, it's not surprising." Giles smiled, fighting to keep the intensity he felt out of his face. "Would you like me to tell you about the ritual?"

"Nuh uh. I'll do the Slaying for you, but I'm not gonna get into any of the magic. Seems weird."

"Very well," he said, every bit of his heart protesting against the decision, while his stomach settled itself. Odd. Very odd. Once again he had the tickling awareness that something was wrong. He rubbed at his forehead.

"Aren't you going to argue with me? Give me some kinda of lecture about how it's my sacred duty?"

"Your, er, sacred duty is to Slay demons. Nothing more." He thought he hid his disappointment successfully, but he could feel her studying him. He looked up nervously, and changed the topic. "Do, do, do you have any interest in learning, er, languages? Like Latin? So you can read more of the books?"

"Giles, you have seriously got to look at my grades in French before you suggest stuff like that to me." She put her cup down. "What time is it?"

"Nearly eight."

"I'm audi," Buffy said, breezily. "Bronzin' it with Will and Xander. Don't worry, Giles, I'll do my sacred duty on my way over and on my way back. I'm trying not to blow my curfew too badly tonight. Don't want to get grounded again. At least not right away. Thanks for the tea!" And off she went, across his patio and up the stairs to the street.

Giles stood on his doorstep, looking after where she had gone. He thought about where he'd find the apparatus to brew coffee. There was a little shop downtown where he bought his tea. They also had coffee beans. He'd stop in tomorrow afternoon, after school.
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Nah. Just hanging onto the spirit of it for the real story in that universe. Which starts at midnight tonight :)
I liked this. I liked the normalcy of it. I wish Giles would do the ceremony with her. Write more! Write more!
And that's exactly what I'll be doing, all through the month of November. For at least 50K words. Starting at midnight!
I was really tempted to do a season one behind-the-scenes thing, just cover that whole early interaction among the gang. Might yet do it some day.