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15 April 2010 @ 01:46 pm
Overwhelmed [BtVS; Gen]  
TITLE: Overwhelmed
FANDOM: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
CHARACTERS: Buffy, Giles [with mention of Giles/Jenny]
SPOILERS: "The Body"
RATING: PG
SUMMARY: "Even the strongest person in the world has to occasionally let themselves feel overwhelmed."


*****

Buffy tapped her stake against her leg in an indiscriminate rhythm as she moved along the rows of headstones, keeping her eyes peeled for any activity. It had been slow-going the last few weeks with the vamps, and she found she had been growing restless from the lack of staking.

A bush off in the distance moved slightly and Buffy narrowed her focus, moving toward it. As something moved out from beneath the bush, she stopped in her footsteps, watching the small gray bunny that had appeared and begun scampering off into the woods.

Huffing her disappointment, Buffy hopped up on a nearby headstone and just stared at the grass, keeping her heightened sense of hearing tuned in to everything going on around her.

Somewhere in the distance, two dogs were barking at each other. Across the street, she could hear someone's television blaring. And then there were the footsteps, and that twig snapping...

She paused at the sound, tilting her head to hone in on the location of the sound, and her spine straightened as the footsteps on the grass came closer. Buffy found herself smiling, mouthing a 'finally' and waiting for the precise moment to spring into action.

Sure enough, mere seconds later she felt the presence close behind her, and as its hand touched down against her shoulder, she reached back, grabbed it by the hand, and flipped it onto its back, pouncing.

Stake poised in the air, she got ready to deliver the blow when her gaze met an all-too-familiar pair of annoyed-looking green eyes. "Giles?"

"Buffy," he grunted painfully, wincing and mouthing 'ow' as she climbed off him and scrambled to her feet.

"I'm sorry." Immediately, she reached down and grabbed his arm, pulling him up effortlessly and watching as he brushed off his jacket and pants.

"Yes. Well. No apologies necessary, I'm just..." he exhaled a smile, still slightly laced with pain. "Just glad to see you've still got your reflexes."

"Quick as a cat!" she grinned cheerily.

"Slightly quicker, I'd say, but yes."

"What're you doing here?"

"I, um..." He continued brushing off his jacket and pants, and Buffy almost rolled her eyes at him for doing so -- he was way too fussy about his clothes and getting dirty sometimes. He'd never cut it as a Slayer. "I had stopped by your house to drop off a book Dawn had requested -- she, uh, she has a-a paper due on the Industrial Revolution, and--"

"Oh right. Who did we fight in that one? Spain?" Buffy wrinkled her nose.

Giles sighed. "Buffy, take a history course at some point in your post-secondary career, I am begging you."

This time, she did roll her eyes. "Fine, whatever. Anyway, you were saying?"

"Right. I had stopped by to drop off the book for Dawn, and found Anya and Xander babysitting. They had said I could find you here."

"Yeah, felt like doing a little patrolling tonight."

"Ah. Well." He gestured ahead of them. "Shall we?"

"Sure."

Together, they began meandering along the rows of headstones, Buffy watching her feet kick at the grass as Giles slipped his hands into his pockets, staring straight ahead. "Anything yet?"

"Nada. I dunno what their problem is lately." She pouted down at her stake. "This poor little guy's been out of a job."

"Yes. 'He' almost found a new one, however, lodged in my chest cavity."

"But on the bright side, I didn't stake you. So." She shrugged. "That's something." Glancing at the surrounding area, watching as they passed a dark mausoleum, she wrinkled her nose. "Who knows? Maybe being a vamp is so last season."

"Perhaps. Or, perhaps..." She felt him give her a sideways glance, analyzing her in that totally 'Giles'-y way he had sometimes, like he was doing research. "There's another reason you're out here tonight."

"Well, I suppose I've been feeling a little restless lately."

"And why do you think that is?"

"Real subtle, Giles." Buffy smirked, raising an eyebrow at him. "Gonna have me lie down on a couch and look at some ink blots next?"

"Well Buffy, it's easy to understand why you'd be feeling so restless."

"Right," she nodded. "This whole Glory thing is just--"

"Glory?" Giles stopped walking, giving Buffy cause to stop and turn to face him.

"Uhh, yeah -- demi-god chick, wants to destroy the world? Dawn's her little key toy?"

"Are you entirely certain that Glory is the reason for your restlessness, and not something else?"

"Like what?" She shrugged.

Giles merely gestured with a tilt of his chin to a place just a few feet ahead of them, and Buffy followed his gaze. When her eyes settled on the stone, her feet directed her toward it of their own volition, and she listened as Giles followed silently.

Together, they stood shoulder-to-shoulder looking down at the marble bearing her mother's name.

"Like this," Giles murmured, nodding toward the stone.

Buffy just swallowed hard and continued to stare at the headstone, at her mother's name in capital letters, literally set in stone -- the finality of it. Her thoughts immediately drifted back to that day she found her on the couch, the numbing silence in her head.

"I, um..." clearing her throat, she cleared away the lump starting to swell, and exhaled a weak chuckle. "I sometimes forget that she's here."

Giles just hummed thoughtfully beside her, his presence comforting as it had always been in times of turmoil. Somewhat ironic that the father she always wanted wasn't hers, biologically, but was there for her more than her own flesh and blood father had ever been.

"This is a natural thing, Buffy," he told her, voice still low and soothing. "This process you're going through."

"I've taken psych, Giles," she murmured back, still unable to tear her eyes away from her mother's headstone. "I know about the stages of grief."

"Yes, I know." He was silent for a moment, his tone conversational when he spoke again. "You know, I used to come out here almost daily just after Jenny had been killed."

At the mention of her former computer teacher and her Watcher's former love, Buffy nearly shivered, remembering his re-telling of what Angelus had done. "Really?"

"Mm-hmm. For a long time, I was unable to sleep in my own bed. I don't think I need to tell you why."

She nodded. "I remember why."

"And, well, the couch is a rather uncomfortable place to rest, so I found myself often going out for a walk to clear my head. Or sometimes, to just think about her. Somehow, I always ended up in this place."

She turned to him, opening her mouth to try to apologize -- she'd always be apologizing for how all of that went down -- but Giles silenced her with a gentle smile.

"It will get easier," he told her. "There will be times when it will be hard, of course. Birthdays, big holidays... sometimes when you see or hear something you know she'd love..."

Buffy swallowed hard again and turned her gaze back to the stone.

"But in time, that... feeling... that almost crushing weight in your chest, in your heart... it won't hurt as much."

Treading carefully, knowing the subject was still tentative even three years after the fact, she asked quietly, "Do you still miss her?"

And Giles, always able to read her, nodded and responded, "Every day. But now, it's at least gotten to a point where I can think of her fondly without automatically being reminded of... the end."

"You never told me--"

"I knew I had to remain strong. You were still in need of guidance at the time, Buffy, and you were in turmoil, yourself. I had to compartmentalize, lock away what I was feeling in order to continue to support you."

She nodded, eying the headstone once more as she willed away her emotions. "Yeah, I can understand that."

"But Buffy..." His tone beckoned her attention, and she met his eyes again. He smiled, just barely, the nature of it gentle, as he told her, "Even the strongest person in the world has to occasionally let themselves feel overwhelmed. To finally allow themselves to grieve."

She looked away, blinking away the tears that nearly formed and instead clenching her fists. Clearing her throat again, as inaudibly as she could this time, she glanced down at her stake, clenching her fist tighter around it when she noticed the slight tremor in her hand. "So this, uh, this whole patrolling thing is probably a bust. The vamps aren't comin' out to play. Think we should call it a night?"

When she felt his hand on her shoulder, she looked up and met his eyes again... she saw him doing that other 'Giles'-y thing he did sometimes where he was so sure he knew what was best for her, like he actually was her father.

"When I said even the strongest person should let themselves be overwhelmed? The same would apply to someone with the strength of a Slayer."

"Giles, I'm fi--"

"Buffy."

His tone stopped her cold, and she swallowed again, feeling her lip start to quiver as she looked at her mother's grave once more, as the sight of her on the couch came back to her, along with watching the paramedics zip her into a bag... and then ending on the sight of her coffin being lowered into the grave she was now standing on.

Giles squeezed her shoulder and she looked up at him, his image disappearing briefly behind a rush of water.

"It's okay," he murmured, nearly a whisper, and that was all it took.

Her face crumpled, the stake fell from her hands, and she turned toward her Watcher, immediately engulfed in a hug as she let herself break down.

"She was my mom, Giles," she wept against his shoulder.

"I know, Buffy."

Her face crumpled again as another wave hit her, and she closed her eyes, squeezing out more tears as she whimpered, "What am I gonna do without my mom?"

And Giles just let her cry all over him, even though she knew she was probably getting tear stains on his sweater, and he might complain later about having to wash it twice -- in the moment, though, he didn't make a sound.

He just let her feel overwhelmed.




FIN



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{x-posted to buffy_giles and buffy_fanfic}
 
 
 
Uther Pendragon's Loyal Wench: giles buffy - angsty i need you hugfirthgal on April 18th, 2010 02:32 pm (UTC)
Oh, this was absolutely beautiful. It so wonderfully captured Buffy and Giles' connection in that lovely, understated way, and the emotion was heartbreaking. Loved this!
a.: giles/buffy; father figureregalish on April 21st, 2010 04:06 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much for reading this! So happy you enjoyed it. I do so love those emotional moments when they show their support. :)
csiAngel: himym b/r comfortcsiangel on April 18th, 2010 11:00 pm (UTC)
A very moving fic; such real emotion and a touching scene of friendship and support. Very well written!
a.: giles/buffy; father and daughterregalish on April 21st, 2010 04:07 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much, Jac! I'm so glad you enjoyed this. I love the friendship between these two -- their little father/daughter thing is quite touching. :)
FreeSpiritbuffyangellvr23 on April 22nd, 2010 03:41 am (UTC)
You are awesome :) I don't have the words to say how good this is :)
a.: buffy; aloneregalish on April 22nd, 2010 05:02 pm (UTC)
Awww, well thank you so much! I do so love the father-figure/support system Buffy has in Giles, so I felt compelled to do this. Glad you liked it! ♥
myfidgetballmyfidgetball on July 26th, 2010 03:25 am (UTC)
Ahhhhh, this was fabulous! You have such an amazing talent for writing these characters perfectly. This is such a sweet oneshot highlighting the bond between Giles and Buffy. I really do love their father/daughter relationship, and mentioning Jenny's death made it all the more heart-wrenching. Oh, Joss, you evil, evil genius...

:-(

Thanks for this brilliant little snippet! :-) It was a great read.
a.regalish on July 28th, 2010 05:08 am (UTC)
Thank you so much!! Their father/daughter bond was SO heartwarming (when Joss wasn't destroying it, of course, by having them hardly talk to or acknowledge each other, LOL), and I kind of wished for a nice scene like this following Joyce's death. It was what Buffy really needed, after all.

Thanks again! :)