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TITLE: Triple Word Score (1/5)
AUTHOR: Whoser88
RATING: PG (there's a chance it might reach R at some point)
SPOILERS: Up through S4
SUMMARY: A week of feeling left out as the Scooby Gang goes off to enjoy the safer aspects of life leads Buffy to take up spending quality time with Giles.

DISCLAIMER: The characters are the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, Sandollar Productions, Kuzui Enterprises, 20th Century Fox Television, the WB Television Network, and whoever else may have a hold on them. I do not mean to infringe upon any copyrights. The boardgame Scrabble is property of Hasbro Inc.

Note: single quotations (') denote thoughts

Dedication: To my wonderful beta - Angelina, who is not a BGer, but is open-minded enough to look at my work. You rock! Also, to the entire BG community - the coolest bunch of people I have ever met, and an incredibly talented group of writers!

It was the persistent howl of the alarm clock that woke him. Rolling over, he opened a bleary eye to the machine, the hands proudly displaying the time of seven o'clock, AM. The eye shut again, and his fingers limply slapped the button, silencing the monotonous buzz. Eyes still closed, he began to roll towards the side of the bed, planning to sit up as he reached the edge. Unfortunately, when one has their eyes closed, it is often easy to misjudge distance. That was how Rupert Giles fell tumbling to the floor on one sunny morning in June.

"BLOODY HELL!" He shouted from his position as a crumpled heap on the floor. "Brilliant, just brilliant." Untangling himself from the bedclothes, he grabbed his robe and started downstairs, shooting a quick glare back at the alarm clock and the bed.

"Don't know why I even get up anymore. Not like I have someone waiting for me," He muttered to himself, carefully making his way down the steps.

A hot shower and breakfast found Giles in a much better mood, sitting serenely at his table on the patio, content to simply listen the birds sing. 'Sunnydale in the daytime is considerably better than at night, he mused to himself, Now if only I had some company…'

At this his face slackened, and his thoughts turned to gloomier topics. It had been nearly a week since the "Adam Incident," as he had taken to calling it, and he had not seen Buffy or the others since. He had hoped that perhaps the joining spell and the sharing of dreams afterward would bring the "Scooby Gang" back together, but as the days had worn on, he had yet to see any improvement. The best he had received was a call from Willow, asking if he had any supplies for a spell she wanted to do. When he replied that he did not, she gave him a brisk, but cheery goodbye, and hung up on him.

He assumed that Buffy was busy taking care of Riley, tending to his needs in all senses of the word. Giles grimaced at the thought, but refused to let his jealousy get the best of him. It was true that he loved Buffy with everything he had, but had long ago resigned himself to love her from afar, and accept his fate as her "father-figure." He sighed, a deep, throaty noise of depression and loneliness, and slumped down in the chair.

Buffy was at the top of the stairs of Giles's apartment complex when her slayer-hearing picked up her Watcher's sigh. Her shoulders dropped at the sound, feeling his sadness and need for company. 'Man, poor Giles. Guilt, thy name is Buffy.' She paused, considering how to approach the situation. Deciding to simply tackle it head on, she squared her shoulders, and resumed her march down the stairs.

"Hey, Watcher-mine! Long time no see! Well, you sure look like a bundle of sunshine right now." She grinned as he sat up, noting how her casual statement had managed to change his entire posture. He smiled self-consciously back at her, and gestured to the chair next to him.

"Would you like to sit?"

"Sure, thanks." Buffy settled herself into the chair, turning to face Giles.

"So, what brings you by?" Giles hoped against hope that she was not bearing news of another situation that she needed him to deal with. For once, he wanted to be more than just a tool for her to use in the case of impending apocalypses. "And where is Riley? Has he recuperated fully?"

"Oh - Riley's fine - didn't I tell you? He went to Washington to clear up some stuff about the Initiative…" She trailed off when she saw the look of hurt flash across his face. "I didn't tell you, did I? God, Giles - I'm so sorry! Here I am, doing the same thing I've done the whole year. Stupid, self-involved Buffy, only good for slaying and the occasional pun. Don't pass up this once-in-a-lifetime offer to be ignored, hurt, and if you're lucky, just plain insulted," Her rambling was stopped by a gentle hand on her forearm, and a quiet chuckle.

"Don't put yourself down so. We've all had, eh, an interesting year. Not one of us is qualified to pass judgments on each other. As it happened, I did not know about Riley, but I'm quite glad he's feeling better. But you never did answer why you're here."

She paused, as if unsure of something, then pushed forward, "Would you believe me if I said I just wanted to hang with my favorite Watcher?"

His face was a picture of skepticism, one eyebrow raised, discreet in a way only Giles could pull off.

"Okay, thought not. Well, the thing is, I DID want to see you, but that's not the only reason. See, Riley went to Washington about a week back, and he won't be returning for a while. So I, smart gal that I am, assume that this won't be an issue, since, hey, I have oodles of friends just waiting to spend time with the slayer. Little did I know that other people have lives as well."

"So you've come to see your old Watcher because there's no one else available?"

"No!" Buffy shook her head vehemently, trying desperately to keep Giles's ego (albeit it was a small one) intact. "After a couple days of just hanging around with nothing to do and no one to talk to, I had one of those, uh, epiphanies, I guess. It kinda just hit me that maybe someone I know had a whole year like this. And two days alone was hell, so why wouldn't three hundred and sixty-five be even worse? And then I realized I had been a bitca, and decided to come here, and do a little groveling, if necessary. Which I would not like to do, because, frankly, I suck at groveling." She finished with a smile, but her eyes held concern and a little bit of fear.

"So you're saying you haven't talked to Willow or Xander in a week either?"

"No, I guess not. I don't know what's up with them! I guess Willow's still finding herself or something. And Xander, I guess he's with Anya, um, doing stuff." She allowed herself a brief shudder at the mental imagery, which caused Giles to smile in reply.

"Hm. Well, much as I would enjoy someone groveling at my feet, I don't think it's necessary. And of course you're forgiven - as I said before, none of us can take blame for the events of the past year. When faced with new situations, people usually need time to adjust. Just because you're the slayer doesn't mean you can embrace change better than anyone else. I too was faced with a new period of my life, and after some difficulty, have come to accept where I stand at the moment. Buffy, I am deeply touched that you were concerned about me, but right now, it is enough to simply have you here as my company."

"You know Giles, you would have made a much better speaker than the Mayor at graduation. And not just because you weren't trying to become a demon."

He blushed in gratitude, "Well, I was a bit preoccupied at the time, what with having to blow up the high school and such."

Buffy laughed, and he reveled in the sound. Sure, the day had gotten off to a rocky start, but it was certainly turning out better than he expected.

Suddenly, she jumped up. "Hey, it's reaching supernova around here - would you mind if we went inside for a little bit?"

"You know, I have always found it a bit odd that after nineteen years of living in California, you still can't bear the heat. Apparently, for all your slayer abilities, you are not the mutant creature I thought you to be," Buffy spun around, astonished at his blunt statements, until she saw the glint in his eye that was a sure sign of teasing. She relaxed, and Giles followed her, only to be surprised a moment later with a quick punch in the arm.

"To quote a certain Watcher - 'ha bloody ha,'" He laughed at her faux-British accent, "Can we please just go inside now? As much as I love having a tan, I'd like to be bronzed, not barbecued." She gestured to the door, waiting for him to open it, but knowing full well that it was unlocked, as always.

"Would you like some tea?" Giles queried as they entered the apartment, Buffy immediately settling herself on the couch.

"Giles, I really hope you mean ice tea," She raised a limp hand to wipe her damp brow, then slumped, letting her head loll back.

"I meant just what I said - a nice, warm, proper cup of tea. I could never understand why someone would ruin a perfectly good brew by purposely letting the tea go cold. And adding all that sweetner - it's disgraceful!"

"You do realize you sounded like, um, what's the word you use, a 'prat?'" She turned her head slightly, as to see him, "See, already Buffy's more worldly - I knew hanging out with you was a good idea."

"Yes, well, I always thought so."

"You know, if I wasn't so sluggish from the heat, I would hit you."

"Thank god for small miracles. So that was a no to the tea?"

"Water's great, if you have it."

"Oddly enough, I do seem to have a rather large supply of it. Must be this new-fangled indoor plumbing." Giles walked to the couch, and handing Buffy the water, collapsed himself. "Considering our present states, I would suggest we take some time before venturing outside again."

"Sounds like a plan."

"And since you are my guest at this point, I leave you with the choice of activity. Unfortunately, I believe the best I can offer is music or television."

Buffy shifted in her seat to face him, lying back against the arm of the couch. "Now this is where the most brilliant Buffy comes in to save her handsome Watcher," 'Handsome, where the heck did that come from? I mean, I guess Giles is good-looking in a "I'm your Watcher and I'm English" sort of way,' Buffy thought to herself, 'Wooaahhh girl, just stop where you are. Let's file this under "irrational musings caused by heat stroke."'

Little did she know that Giles was having similar thoughts at the same time. 'Handsome? She thinks I'm HANDSOME? No Rupert, don't get your hopes up. Her heart lies with that young farm boy. Best be happy with what you have now.' Clearing his mind of the daydreams, Giles shifted back to the present. "Oh, and how do you plan to save me, per se?"

"Well, I saw something the store a couple days ago and thought of you. So I brought it with me today." She reached into her tote bag, which, Giles was loath to admit, he had not noticed until that moment. 'Some Watcher you are - didn't even see a bag she was wearing on her shoulder!'

Buffy had pulled out what appeared to be a miniature version of the board game Scrabble. "It's the travel version, if you're wondering why it's so small. I figured if I was gonna carry this thing around, I might as well take the smaller version. I thought you might like this, since you are the master of all things vocabularylous." Giles chuckled at her new adjective, but Buffy just smiled innocently at him.

"That's very thoughtful of you, thank you. Shall we play? Oh, wait a moment - I believe that's the tea." He jumped up at the sound of the shrill squeak of the kettle.

"No prob. I'll just start setting it up. I haven't played this a while, you know, so be prepared for me to be pretty rusty."

"I haven't played in ages myself, so don't worry about your skill level," Giles called from the kitchen, "And either way, it's just a game."

Ah, what famous last words.

"Inconceivable!" Giles cried. "This just isn't possible."

Buffy smirked at him. "Sounds like someone's a sore loser."

"Nothing of the sort. I just find it hard to believe that zoology can be worth that many points!"

"It's all about the triple word score, my man. Check for the blue and pink boxes before you place your letters. Admit it, Watcher-mine - your slayer just pummeled you in a word-game. The real question is, is hell freezing over, and if so, can I have the day off?"

Giles glared at her, but Buffy could see his heart wasn't in it. "Triple word score, I'll have to remember that," he grumbled, "Overall, however, this was a most enjoyable morning."

"Make that afternoon, Giles - look at the clock. We've been playing for 3 hours" The clock read one in the afternoon. "Oh that reminds me - I have to go. Mom asked me to stop by sometime today for a little mother-daughter bonding."

"Sounds titillating. Ah well, I'm glad you stopped by as it is." Giles stood and stretched, wincing as he heard joints crack. Buffy stood as well, but made no motion to leave.

"Uh, Giles?" He turned to look at her in fascination, surprised to see her fidget in place. 'What is Buffy worried about? And how does she manage to look so magnificent no matter what mood she's in?'

"What is it, Buffy? Did you realize you forgot to tell me about a harbinger of another apocalypse?" He half joked.

"No, it's just…" She shifted on the balls of her feet, rubbing the back of her neck at the same time, "Well, I was wondering, if you're not busy…or whatever…if, maybe…we could start training together again?" Her eyes, which had been focused on the hard wood floor, shot up to catch his reaction. They widened when they saw Giles' mega-watt grin.

"That would be a pleasure. But are you sure you need my help?"

"Yeah, definitely. I mean, Riley's great when it comes to brute force and um, more of that, but I need to work on my technique. Lately slaying a new vamp takes 10 minutes, as opposed to five. So yeah, training with Giles is necessary."

"Well, I suppose I could never deny you anything," Her face colored at his words, and he mentally raised an eyebrow at her sudden uneasiness, "so we'll have to set up a schedule."

"I think now that most people have officially ignored me for several days, it's safe to say my schedule's pretty open."

"Mine as well."

"Would tomorrow afternoon be okay?"

"Around three?"

"Sounds good. See you then, you miserable failure of a Scrabble player," She sent a mocking grin back his way as she opened the door and exited.

'Training tomorrow... perhaps things are looking up, 'Giles pondered as he cleared the remnants of the board game, apparently his new gift. 'I could certainly live with losing a couple more games, if it meant more time spent with Buffy. If I were Riley, I wouldn't have left Sunnydale for anything in the world, no matter my orders. He is surely pining for Buffy right now.'
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