Disclaimer: Neither Buffy, her friends, nor her Watcher belong to me, alas. Nor does the rather well known character that this story refers to. I'm just borrowing them all for a bit.
The parcel was delivered by Fed-Ex, and since the delivery man would only accept the authorised signature, they had to get Giles out of the back to sign for it. He’d been busy training with Buffy, and the Fed-Ex guy looked somewhat taken aback when the tall Englishman appeared from the back of his shop with his shirt half unbuttoned, and his sleeves rolled up, wiping sweat from his face with a towel. He clearly thought that the slim young lady who bounced after him, her blonde hair pulled back into a pony tail, was a much more attractive sight.
He watched her with longing as she hovered at the shopkeeper’s shoulder, trying to see what was being delivered, and looked decidedly disappointed when his clipboard was returned and he was firmly dismissed.
“Jerk,” Xander assessed, waiting until the door closed before he pronounced his verdict. “If he’d stared any harder, his eyeballs would have popped out.”
“What?” Buffy questioned, giving him a puzzled look. She’d already hunkered down by the box, frowning at the various labels and delivery stamps scattered over it. Xander snorted. “That guy,” he explained. “He was so totally
checking you out, Buff. Practically drooling.”
“I saw drool,” Willow interjected with amusement. “Rivers of droolness. Lots of …and ew
, I didn’t want to go there
“Yes, quite,” Giles said dryly, reaching down to pick up the box so he could move it to the counter. Buffy reached to give him a hand. For a moment their fingers touched – and she stepped back, a little too hastily for simple embarrassment. Willow and Xander exchanged a look. “I can assure you there was no actual drooling,” the Watcher continued, seemingly oblivious to his Slayer’s reaction. That might have been because he was preoccupied with balancing the box, which had turned out to be lighter than it looked. “But … I have no doubt that a surfeit of teenage hormones and a vision in tight exercise wear were sufficient to stir several inappropriate responses in the young man’s mind.”
“Not just his mind, Giles,” Anya remarked cheerily. “After all, Buffy is dressed in a sufficiently provocative way to stir his …”
“Thank you, Anya,” Giles interjected hastily. “I think we all understand the concept. There’s no need to provide illustrative diagrams.”
The ex-demon pouted, annoyed at being interrupted. Somewhere behind her Watcher, Buffy turned and mouthed ‘he thinks I’m a vision?’
at her best friend. Willow rolled her eyes. Tara hastily dipped her head and put up her hand to hide her involuntary grin.
“So what’s in the box, G-man?” Xander asked brightly, moving across to stare at the labels just as Buffy had been doing earlier. Anya started to turn her pout on him, more than aware that he was deliberately changing the subject, but he ignored her with perfect aplomb.
Giles had been disentangling the delivery slip. “I do w -” He swallowed what he about to say just in time. The look Anya threw him probably helped. “I would prefer
,” he corrected archly, “that you didn’t call me that. And the box,” he added thoughtfully, smoothing out the paper slip and studying what it said, “appears to contain my grandmother’s effects.”
A frown creased his forehead as he continued to read. Willow and Tara exchanged a worried glance. Buffy looked puzzled.
“Your grandmother?” she questioned warily. “The Watcherly one?”
"No, no,” Giles denied absently. “My … mother’s mother. She … died recently. Last month, actually.”
,” Willow reacted, looking stricken. “I’m so sorry.” She glanced at Tara again, finding her equally concerned. “We’re
sorry. Why didn’t you … say something? Are you going to need to – funerals and stuff? Back to England or … did you say last month?
“Hmm?” He hadn’t really been listening. “What? Oh – oh, yes. A- and no. It wasn’t … unexpected.” A softly reminiscent smile played at the edge of his lips. “Nana … knew exactly when …” He looked up, finding four pairs of eyes considering him with wary sympathy. The soft smile became a slightly abashed one. “She was very old, Willow. She’d made her peace and settled her affairs in plenty of time. I will … miss her, but I’ve had plenty of time to mourn. Anyway,” he continued, with a little more asperity, “she didn’t want any fuss. She told me in no uncertain terms that I wasn’t to abandon my duty simply to watch what was left of her being put into a hole in the ground, so I didn’t. My … cousins went. I have no doubt they spared no expense on hymns, pious prayers and a totally unsuitable and very tacky wreath. Nana would have had no patience for things like that.”
Buffy found him an anxious smile. “It was … that day you said …” She turned to Willow, who was still looking a little distraught. “Remember, Will? He left Anya in charge and told us he had some … personal business to take care of? That was the day, right?”
Giles nodded. “Yes. It didn’t seem – appropriate to … well, I – um – went for walk, lit her a candle or two and … wished her well.” He pulled himself together with a shake and glared at their troubled expressions. “I do have
a personal life, you know,” he snapped. “Or don’t you lot think I’m entitled to one?” The snap was reflexively defensive, and nobody took offence at it.
“Of course you are,” Willow offered hesitantly “It’s just that … if we’d known …
“Yes,” Buffy agreed. “If we’d known
His momentary anger died as quickly as it had flared. It left him vaguely awkward in the face of their unforeseen sympathy. “Yes, well … you do now. And I told you. Nana hated fuss. She also hated cloying sentiment, so … let’s just leave it there, shall we?”
“So what is
in the box?” Anya demanded, oblivious to that brief flutter of emption, the broaching of grief and the Englishman’s wary acknowledgement that his young friends could be far more understanding than he’d expected them to be. Giles turned back to the matter in hand with a look of grateful relief.
“My part of the inheritance. Or – um – so I believe. Nana wasn’t entirely … clear on what she’d decided to leave to whom.”
“Ooh,” the ex-demon’s eyes lit up. “Family jewels? Priceless silverware? Love letters to some high up aristocrat or other, brimming with unrequited desire and blackmail potential? What?” she questioned, at the looks this last suggestion earned her. “I was a vengeance demon a long time, remember? I know all about the lurid lives the prim and proper types lived in their day. Things like that fetch a high price in the collectors market.”
“Yes, well …” Giles was more amused than exasperated. “I’m sure Nana had her moments, but I’m equally sure we won’t find anything like that
among her effects. Would you give me a hand with this please, Buffy?”
A moment’s application of Slayer strength detached the wooden box lid and the Scoobies gathered round to stare at what seemed to be nothing but scrunched paper packing. Giles reached in and rummaged around for a moment, his hands emerging from the depths with a very old fashioned and slightly battered bag.
A large bag, made of what looked like tapestry or faded brocade. It had arching tortoiseshell handles, and a little gold clasp that locked it tight in the middle.
“Good lord,” Giles said, placing the thing down on the counter with decided reverence.
“A handbag?” Xander reacted, staring at it in disbelief. “Your grandmother left you a handbag?
“No,” the Watcher corrected abstractedly, his hand running gently across the faded fabric. “It appears that she’s left me her carpet bag.”Made of, not for carrying
, Willow mouthed to Buffy, who glared at her.
“Don’t be silly,” Anya snapped. “It’s what’s in
the bag that matters.” Her certainty faded for a moment. “Isn’t it?”
“I’m not entirely sure …” Giles reached to undo the clasp, carefully flipping back the little metal clip and just as carefully easing the sides of the bag open. Nothing seemed to happen, so he leaned forward to take a closer look … and straightened up with a gasp, coughing and spluttering for breath. The sides of the bag had sunk inwards with a sound uncannily like a sigh of relief. The movement had spawned an eruption of dust - which had hit the Watcher straight in the face.
,” Buffy reacted in alarm. He waved a hand at her to reassure her he was alright, although since he was wheezing and gasping in-between what sounded like quite desperate coughs, the gesture wasn’t entirely a convincing one.
“I-I’ll get some w-water,” Tara volunteered, while Xander leapt forward to give the asphyxiating Watcher a manly slap or two on the back.
“I-I’m … I’m fine
,” Giles managed after a moment or two, fending Xander away and bending forward so that he could rest his hands on his knees and take several deep and much needed breaths. They didn’t seem to help. “Or … maybe I’m not … Feeling …dizzy,” he admitted. It spurred the rest of them into motion; Willow raced to fetch him a chair while Buffy gave him a shoulder to lean on and helped him sit down. Anya offered helpful – or perhaps not so helpful - advice.
“The best thing to do is not to panic. Because panicking … speeds up the heart, increases the demand for oxygen. Not many people know that breathing in too much dust can be lethal,” she said cheerily. “But once it gets into the throat and starts clogging the lungs …”
“Anya,” Xander growled. “Not helping here.”
“Here, Mr Giles.” Tara had returned with the promised water, which she pressed into his hands with firm insistence. “Take sm-mall sips. Try not to b-breath too quickly. Slow breaths.”
“Yeah,” Buffy agreed, using the heel of her hand to gently massage the spot between his slumped shoulder blades. “Do that – yogi bear thing you taught me. Drawing in the light. All the way down.”
Giles cracked a slightly hysterical smile at that. “Yogic … breathing
,” he corrected in a pained voice, focusing on following what was actually good advice. “Really, Buffy …”
Some of the florid redness had faded from his face; he was left taking very slow and cautious breaths in between equally cautious sips from the glass. Some of the dust was still clinging to his features and Buffy cautiously reached to brush some of it away.
,” she complained, jerking her hand back and shaking it as if she’d been stung. “Giles – did you feel that?”
The Watcher’s hand had flown to his cheek, right where she’d touched him. “Yes,” he said, gently massaging the spot. “Like a – a static discharge?”
She nodded, her eyes wide and worried. Much to her surprise, he grinned. “Then I guess Nana hasn’t lost her touch. Buffy,” he assured her, still labouring a little for breath. “I’m fine
. A little – disorientated but … really, quite fine.”
“I don’t get it.” Anya’s voice sounded piqued. “All that – and the bag is empty. Nothing in it.”
“Nothing?” Xander patted Giles reassuringly on the shoulder and went to join his girlfriend at the counter.
“Nothing. Empty as the till on banking day. See?” She shrugged, opening the lips of the bag wide, turning it upside down and shaking it in order to make her point.
“Ah – “ Giles half rose to his feet in protest at this cavalier treatment, only to be firmly held down by Buffy, who suspected that his standing up would not be a good idea for a moment or two. Xander removed the bag from Anya’s hands, just as firmly and gently, turning it back to put it down on the counter. A slip of paper floated out, wafting up as it passed the edge of the counter and wafting down again to land, precisely as if it had intended to, on Giles knee.
“Wow,” Willow said, glancing from bag to paper and back again. “Bet you couldn’t do that again in a hurry.”
“I wasn’t trying to do it in the first place.”
Anya was frowning in confusion. “But it was empty
,” she protested. “I felt around inside and everything.”
“Two things,” Giles advised softly, unfolding the paper, which Buffy could now see was a letter, written in a very neat and precise hand. “One, please don’t abuse my property like that again, and two? Never ever
, put your hand in a carpet bag that you haven’t been properly introduced to.”
Anya looked down at the bag, then down at her hand. Her face went a little white. “Oh,” she said, a sudden light dawning in her eyes. “It’s one of those
“But that means … “ The light became a beacon of enlightenment. “A- ah,” she chuckled nervously. “That
“Congratulations,” the Watcher drawled, not even bothering to lift his head to look at her. “You have managed to recognise the nature of the situation precisely two actions too late to benefit from your perceptiveness. Fortunately,” he added, in a softer tone, “I believe the most vicious protection my grandmother ever employed was mousetraps.” His eyes finally lifted from the letter to throw her a look of amused warning. “I
,” he pointed out, “may not be so trusting.”
“Okay.” Anya backed away from the bag, looking at it as if she expected it to leap up and bite her. “But can she do that? Leave it to you, I mean. You being … a man and … you are
a man, aren’t you? Still? That didn’t .. ?”
“No.” It was Giles’ turn to chuckle. “It certainly didn’t. And yes, apparently she can.” He drew in a cautious breath, then let it out again with relief when it didn’t trigger another coughing fit. “Although,” he frowned for a moment. “This is going to take a little … getting used to.”
“What is?” Buffy asked suspiciously. Her fingers were still tingling where she’d touched the dust – and her Slayer senses were tingling slightly too. There was something going on here …
“My inheritance.” Giles heaved a quiet sigh. “Not exactly what I was expecting but … it may come in handy. For something.”
the Scoobies chorused, then shared an embarrassed round of looks. The Watcher looked down at the floor, cleared his throat yet again, and blushed
“I … um … it would appear that … ah …”
Anya grimaced impatiently.
“His grandmother was a fairy godmother and she’s left him her power. They have to,” she explained at the open mouthed looks this earned her. “Leave it to someone, I mean. Otherwise they can’t die. Which must get pretty awful being all old and wrinkly and yet stuck with the whole ‘granting boons for the enlightenment of others’ kind of power, which is nowhere near
as powerful as a vengeance demon’s wishes, of course, but still pretty powerful, because the thing they are really
good at is getting round curses and smoothing the path of true love and stuff like that, which is way
more difficult than just granting vengeance. But that’s the point. Because they’re not demons, but they have this gift, and when they get too old to take care of business they can arrange to pass it on and then they can die if they want to, but they can’t
until they’ve found someone who can handle the responsibility.” She paused to take a breath, then added, matter-of-factly: “But I didn’t know they could pass it on to someone with a penis because … well, fairy godmother
. Which was why I wondered if the legacy had made him a her
, because that would make sense. Don’t you think?” she concluded, turning to Xander, whose jaw was somewhere near the floor.
“Uh …” he floundered.
Willow was gaping. “Your grandmother was a fairy godmother?
“Well …” Giles hesitated for a moment. “Yes, actually, she was. Although – not a fairy
as such. Just someone with … a fairy gift. And Anya’s quite right. It has to be passed on, or the holder can’t leave this world. It doesn’t have to be to family,” he added, glancing down at the letter in his hand. “But it appears that Nana wanted … well,” he shrugged. “She was tired. She was also in some pain. The gift cannot be directed for the benefit of the person who holds it. Not for the big things. And the wishes … tend to be time limited things. Nana had been ill for some years. The gift helped her, but she couldn’t use it to cure herself.”
“And it seems she’d had enough.”
He looked down at the letter again, his lips tightening with undefined emotion. It was clear that he had really loved his maternal grandmother, and thinking of her last years carried a certain amount of distress. “I thought she wanted Emily to have it,” he explained, his voice almost apologetic as he considered his Slayer’s wary expression. “She’s my … cousins’ daughter. She’ll be thirteen next birthday. But Nana didn’t think she was ready. She says here that she’s not sure she’ll ever be ready. And she decided … well, she says the gift
decided that it should be passed on in trust. Until she is
ready, or someone else more deserving comes along.”
Buffy took the paper from his hands, skimming the carefully written words until she found the paragraph that somehow managed to explain the whole thing.‘I have attended to the obligations of my calling with determined devotion my entire life
,’ she read, ‘and now that I know that you have proved just as dedicated in the pursuance of your own destiny, I have no hesitation in placing my gift in your hands, to be used as you see fit. Guard it well, my dearest Rupert. One day you will find a soul worthy to inherit it, just as I have done.’
The Slayer slowly looked up from the letter, meeting the eyes of her Watcher as he waited for her reaction. “Does this mean,” she asked warily, “that you can now grant wishes?
Giles shook his head, smiling a little sadly. “No,” he said. “Not really. Nudge fate a little, perhaps. Counter curses … that’s
probably going to be useful …” The smile twisted a little. “Smooth the path of true love … help the princess win her prince – or the prince his princess, I suppose.”
“How about,” Willow wondered, reaching across to lace her fingers into Tara’s “the princess winning the princess
? Is that okay?”
He turned to stare at her for a moment and she coloured and dropped her eyes under the intensity of his scrutiny. “I don’t think,” he said eventually, “there’s much need of my
help in that particular scenario. Do you?”
Tara shook her head, drawing Willow a little closer. “N-No, Mr Giles. B-but … if we need you …”
“I already have my
prince,” Anya declared, then added, worriedly: “Please don’t turn him into a frog. He wouldn’t make a very good frog.”
“Hey,” Xander protested. “I’d make a very good
frog … Oh. Oh I see. Umm – forget I said that. Frog turning a bad idea. Very
Xander,” Giles pulled off his glasses and polished the remnants of the dust off them with a piece of his shirt. The dust could be seen to sparkle slightly under his hands. “I am not about to turn you into anything
. Although,” he considered with sudden sternness, “if certain employees around here continue to abuse my good nature you might find that you make an excellent rabbit …”
Anya’s eyes went very
wide. Willow swallowed a snigger.
“Could you do that?” Buffy asked softly. The Watcher smiled.
“Not permanently, no. But to teach someone a lesson perhaps …”
“Could you do other things?” she went on, just as softly. “Could you find me
my perfect prince?”
There was hope - and something else in her tone. He looked up and met her eyes. Something sparked between them; something breathless and wary. His eyes went wide, as if seeing something he’d never recognised before, and then he smiled. Warmly and with deep affection. “I think I could arrange that,” he decided. “I’ll see what I can do.”
They held the look a moment longer before Buffy looked away, her face a little flushed. “All joking apart,” she said, “what can
you do? Seriously, I mean.”
“I really don’t know.” Giles took a moment to think about it. “The things Nana showed me when I was young … I don’t know how much of that was truly magic and how much was a child’s imagination. But I’m sure she’ll have left me some instructions somewhere. My grandmother,” he said with a note of admiration, “was an exceedingly sensible
woman.” He leaned back in the chair, smiling at some memory or other that the thought recalled. “Practically perfect in every way.”
Buffy looked at Willow. Willow looked at Tara. Tara’s eyes went wide. Xander just said: “Huh?”
“Uh – Giles?” The Slayer’s question was tentative. “What was … your Grandmother? What was her name?”
He stood up, carefully easing a crick out of his neck and then sliding his glasses back onto his nose. “Mary. Mary Amelia Emily Moneypenny.” He moved back to the counter, putting the letter down next to the empty bag – then casually reached into it and lifted out a full bottle of Scotch. This was followed by a shot glass, three bottles of cold
coke, and an equally cold root beer, which he passed to an open mouthed Xander. “Her maiden name,” the Watcher admitted, pouring himself a Scotch and admiring the colour and the quality of it. “Was Poppins.”