They had started to talk about their childhoods one night, a glass of scotch in Giles’s hand, a bottle of Jack Daniels in Faith’s, several more already consumed at an earlier time as they sat in front of the muted TV and late night began to slowly creep towards the first strains of day. Giles had told her of growing up with vain, silly aunts who never aged despite the passing of years, of his kind but firm father and growing up from the age of eight, already in training to be a Watcher, of his stubborn resentment and mischievous capers as he grew, the foolish arrogance and experimental naivety of his adolescence and the willful destruction it had caused. He spoke without asking for her to give him any information in return, without even seeming to hope for or expect it from her, and Faith appreciated this with a depth that she could not have put into words.
She listened, and often she laughed, sometimes she remained appropriately serious or intent, taking in and trying to reconcile with her own previous imaginings these new pieces of Giles, working them in her mind to see how they matched up with the Giles she knew. And as the night became day and the alcohol continued to dwindle, her own generally tightly guarded inhibitions in regards to her own memories began to lower, bit by bit, until she herself was speaking of herself as a child, bright and mischievous as well, who had nevertheless grown up lonely, lost, increasingly angry- and never quite acceptable to herself or anyone else. Her soft, almost drowsy words began to paint a picture of this child’s life in her succession of cramped, unsafe apartments, never warm enough in the winter or cold enough in the summer, often without working utilities, never fully paid off, whatever the month. She spoke, and Giles began to hear from Faith her own description of her lack of stability from a mother whose alcoholism created erratic and often violent shifts in behavior, a father whose shiftlessness and alcoholism led him to seek out involvement with the Irish mob and long periods of abandonment, and the resulting succession of men and boys- her mother’s, her own, and sometimes, whether or not it was her own idea, the both of theirs- who always seemed to leave her with more emptiness and pain than they could take away.
She spoke, and Giles simply listened as her body slowly shifted in closer and closer to his, until her curled legs leaned every so lightly against his own, until her voice had faded and her eyes half closed, head leaning back against the couch. She spoke, and Giles waited until it seemed her words had run out, until she had said what she wanted or needed to finally release from her own memory and place within his, before he finally reached to lightly cover her hand with his own.