Chapter Four: Face from the Past
Disclaimer: See Chapter One.
AN: I'm playing a little loose with timelines here. I'm thinking Giles went through his rebellious stage in the 70s and would have become a Watcher in the 80s, and I'm going with the idea that Nora would have been a teen in the 80s. I'm also having a little trouble figuring out the right voices for the characters as I don't have a lot of experience writing them yet. So some of the big dialogue scenes are implied rather than actually given. As the story progresses I'll try harder to include them. Chapter Four: Face from the Past
Nora isn't sure what she expected before she opened her front door to a face from her past, but she is fairly certain it isn't this.
She knows in her heart of hearts that time has passed and people have changed and things aren't what they used to be.
But she is still shocked to find herself staring into the face of someone she once knew and loved like an older brother and finding an old man looking back at her.
An old man with the same eyes that still crinkle in at the corners when he smiles. An old man with the same glasses that he removes to rub a little too vigorously with the edge of his shirt.
An old man who still wears the same fond expression on his face he did all those years ago.
"Ripper?" She asks, because even though her heart tells her it is the same man something in her mind is telling her this can't be right. He wasn't meant to grow old while she was away. He was so strong, so sure, so dangerous when she knew him. He was always meant to be that way.
"Nora dear." He says, and his voice is EXACTLY the same as it was a lifetime ago when they lived together in Council provided housing and he drilled her daily in fighting techniques and slayer-lore.
They stare at each other across inches of real space and years of memory space and she is torn between the urge to fling herself into his arms and demand he hold her while she cries, and slapping him across the face for putting her through all of this again.
Not that it is necessarily his fault. She was a good student, and she understood from early on that it wasn't the Council that Chose the Slayers. It was some higher power that no one really understood.
He is is here and he is looking at her in that gentle way he always had when he was particularly proud of her. And she wants to hug him and kill him.
"It is good to see you again, my dear." He continues and then they just look at each other. She knows she is being rude and should invite him inside. She was the one that called him here in her hour of need after all.
But now that he is standing on her doorstep this has become so much more real than it was before. Now that he is here he may take her daughter away and force her to fight against demons and dark magic and all the creatures that stalk the night. Now that he is here he may completely tear her happy little life into miserable little pieces.
"I wish I could say the same." She finally mutters, hating herself for how bitter she sounds but not being able to temper her words as they leave her mouth. She is a tiny bit pleased by the way Rupert Giles winces at her tone, and she hates herself even more for that.
"You should come in." She says finally, and takes a step away from the door and toward the living room. He gives her a somewhat scolding look at her blatant invite into her house, but she gestures calmly at the sunshine pouring in the windows to make a point that she hasn't completely forgotten everything she ever learned. She knows he isn't a vampire because it is the middle of the afternoon and the sun would have cooked him by now.
He smiles. She frowns. They both take a seat on the couch.
"Why didn't you come before? Why did I have to call you about ... about Casey?" Nora asks after a few moments, tired of the way the silence stretches between them like it would between complete strangers. Mr. Giles sighs and glances around the comfortable looking room.
"Things have changed, Nora. The Council has changed." He responds, as if this should clear everything up. But it doesn't.
"What does that mean?" She demands, her voice high and tight. He sighs again.
"You've been gone so long. I don't even know where to start, truthfully."
Nora takes a deep breath. She reminds herself that she called him for help. She reminds herself that he was her mentor and big brother and only friend for six years. She reminds herself that she knew him when he had just become a Watcher and had no idea what he was doing so they had to figure everything out together. She reminds herself that she trusted him with her life once, and she needs to trust him with her daughter's life now.
She takes another deep breath and then she takes a leap of faith.
"How about, you start with what happens now."