rating: pg 13
main characters: Rupert 'Ripper' Giles, Amanda
disclaimer: I hold no legal rights to any characters from 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' (creation of Joss Whedon & a whole lot of other people who aren't me), and no legal rights to Amanda from the Highlander series (property of other people who aren't me).
distribution: Jinni's Quickfics, Paula, anyone else please ask.
notes: response to Jinni's Weekly Poetry Challenge (week 3, Poetry Quote below). Majority is a flashback to the youth of Giles, Sunnydale bits are at the end of the summer after season 3.
"SHE walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellow’d to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies."
-- She walks in beauty, Byron
* * * * * *
He could hear them talking before they even knocked on the door. Buffy, Willow and Xander... the children that had adopted him, entirely to his surprise. When he'd first come to Sunnydale, he'd only expected to have special significance to his Slayer, not to become a father to her, as well as two other teenagers.
"You shouldn't just barge into his house, that's all. I mean, it's a privacy issue, and what if he has company?" Willow sounded nervous about something.
"Will-ow! Come on, this is Giles we're talking about. He doesn't date. It's like... against the Watcher rules or something." Buffy sounded as if she couldn't fathom the idea of him in any sort of social situation.
"Hey, there was Miss Calendar. They were definitely dating. And didn't he and your mom...?" Xander might have been teasing Buffy.
"For the love of... twinkies, don't ever bring that up again. I'm trying to repress." He could imagine Buffy shuddering.
There was a brief thump against his door before it swung open, revealing the smiling faces of his children. Almost in unison, they called out "Morning, Giles!"
"Good morning to all of you." He smiled, lifting his cup of tea. "Should I ask what brings you here today?"
"Mom said that if I didn't stop driving her crazy, she'd make me clean the garage." Buffy shrugged, dropping into the chair.
Xander sort of shifted his weight, looking awkward. "Will's parents aren't home, and mine... are."
"Hmmm... so instead of going to the beach, or on a picnic, you came here?" He wasn't certain if he should be flattered or exasperated. "In that case, why don't we go through a couple of these books, just to see if anything sounds like something to watch out for over the summer?"
After a few mutters and unconvincing groans, everybody settled into research. The house was filled with only the sounds of turning pages, punctuated with the occasional 'ewww' or 'didn't we kill one of those?'
Eventually, Rupert Giles placed the book on the table, and retreated to the kitchen, feeling the need to look at something that wasn't rows of ink and the occasional diagram. Another cup of tea would be a wonderful excuse.
“Giles?” Xander’s voice was low, almost too quiet for him to hear.
Turning, he could see the unhappiness in the boy’s dark eyes, in the slight droop of his shoulders. “What’s troubling you?”
“Do you think… I mean, at least Cordelia was talking to me again, before she left Sunnydale. But… Am I ever going to find someone? Someone that will… well, someone that I can be with?” Xander looked uncertain, as if he wasn’t quite certain that he wanted to talk to Giles about this, and wasn’t quite certain that he wanted the answers.
“Ahhh. Matters of the heart.” Rupert sighed, pouring the water over the tea bag, shaking his head at the American concept of proper tea. “I wish that I could give you a simple answer for that one. What I can tell you is this: while you live, there is the possibility. And when it comes, you can either seize hold and try to enjoy what you have while it lasts, or step back and spend the rest of your life wondering about what could have been.”
“ummm… We sort of live over the mouth of hell, here. What if I find someone and she… well, dies?” Xander’s voice had gone soft and sad, filled with sorrow.
“First of all, tragedy is not limited to the Hellmouth.” He reached out, resting his hand on Xander’s shoulder. “And secondly, that’s why you should make every moment enjoyable.”
“Thanks. I mean, it’s not the… well, just thanks. For the vote of encouragement.” With a small smile, Xander made his way back to the front of the house, leaving Rupert alone with his thoughts.
Speaking almost to himself, or perhaps to his memories, he looked at his hands, his eyes tracing over the scars that crossed his fingers, his knuckles, and the few over the back of his hand. “Build memories, because sometimes, those are all you have left.”
He could still remember everything so clearly. His father had sent him away to college, away from all of his friends and family. Away, to a place filled with strangers, and rules set down decades ago by stuffy people listening to centuries old traditions. He was supposed to study Medieval history and languages at Oxford, and also study demonology and a bit of magic with the Watcher’s Council, and maintain high grades through the whole time. After all, he was a Giles, his future was already set.
Naturally, he’d hated it. Not that some of the classes weren’t interesting, but… All of the rules and plans made for his future by everybody but him had felt smothering. He’d tried to rebel, learning to play a guitar and performing in smoke filled little clubs. He’d met Ethan Rayne, and they’d dabbled in Chaos and vandalism.
It was during that phase of his life that he’d met Amanda. She’d been at one of the clubs that he’d played at, laughing as some half drunken prat had tried to convince her to go home with him for a ‘nice tumble’. Looking at her long legs in this pair of low slung leather pants and that little blue top, he could understand the guy’s interest.
Not that he’d expected what had happened next in the slightest. His set had just ended, and he’d stepped off the stage, placing the guitar on a table and debating what to drink when she was suddenly there, one arm behind his shoulders, the other hand cupping his cheek as if he was her darling. Her leg had slid up and around his, leaving her practically draped on him in a fascinating and damn near indecent manner. When she kissed him, her tongue slipping between his lips, he’d kissed right back, one hand sliding down over her hip.
The kiss broke, and she whispered in his ear “Help me avoid the drunken letch? All you need to do is play along.”
Considering the way she’d pressed her body against his, there was no way in the world that he would have refused. He could feel her heartbeat see the way she was breathing a little faster after the kiss. “I missed you too, luv.”
Her hand slid down his chest, leaving him incredibly aware of her touch, of the scent of her perfume, of the way she was pressing against him… The woman had to notice just how much she was affecting him. Licking her lips, she spoke in this incredibly tempting voice “Didn’t you promise to take me out for a walk tonight?”
“How could I forget?” He wished for a moment that he knew her name, but asking right now would ruin everything. “Why don’t we go for that walk now?”
They’d left the bar, his desire for a drink forgotten, replaced by desire for her. Walking along the street, he leaned a bit closer, and whispered in her ear “Just who am I saving?”
Spinning around so that she nearly collapsed into his arms, she pulled him down for a kiss, the two of them no doubt looking like playful young lovers out for a stroll. Her lips were almost touching his as she whispered “I’m Amanda.”
“I’m Ripper.” He’d smiled back, and leaned just a little forward, kissing her and hoping that he wasn’t pushing his luck too far.
Actually, her reaction then and later that night proved that he hadn’t come anywhere close to pushing too far. She convinced him to walk her home, and a soft offer of a nightcap had led to other offers… He had no idea where she’d learned most of the things that she knew about passion, but dear God, he wanted to be her most devoted student.
They’d slipped into a passionate affair without either of them discussing the future. Nothing more than a week or so ahead of time, just savoring the moment and shagging like rabbits. It was intense, it was wonderful… She was teaching him how to pick locks. Teaching him how to spot a forgery or a copy of an art work.
She probably would have lured him into a life of crime, teaching him to be a master thief like herself if not for that miserable vampire. They’d been walking out of a club, laughing and eager to get back to her flat. And then, this huge figure had stepped from an alley, grabbing Amanda and sinking fangs into her neck. After a few hideously loud swallows, he snapped her neck, dropping her body to the ground like a discarded apple core.
He thought that he’d screamed, shouted some sort of insult or curse. He had lunged forward, his fists flailing at the vampire, not really damaging him, but the surprise and accuracy keeping him off balance. The sight of a broken bar stool, thrown out into the alley had been just what he’d needed. It had to have been half luck, or pure outraged fury that had let him impale the vampire on it.
He’d sat there, sobbing over Amanda’s limp form as the police had arrived. They’d led him away, asking a few questions as an ambulance came ad quietly took her away, all covered up on a stretcher. She would have hated that, hated having her face covered…
Either they believed his distraught story of a mugger that had got away or they had enough familiarity with vampires not to complain about such an officially acceptable story. In the end, they had an officer escort him back to his place, which had felt cramped and dull without her. Knowing that he would never see her again.
He still missed her. It had been partly grief that had allowed Ethan to convince him to help summon Eyghon, that and the faint hope that he would forget, become so lost in the magic that his pain would fade. It hadn’t, but that was a whole different story.
In his kitchen, Rupert sighed, remembering Amanda’s dancing eyes and total disrespect for authority. “What would it have been like, if that vampire hadn’t taken you away from me?”
But he would never know, could never know how things might have been. ‘What if?’ was a tempting game, but ultimately depressing. She was gone, and he was here. Those were the facts. Nothing could change that. Right?
End Stolen Moments.