Disclaimer: I own nada, nothing, zero, zilch, zip. Joss Whedon has the rights to BtVS, and the Anita Blake universe belongs to Laurell K. Hamilton. The song "At Last" belongs to the writers M. Gordon and H. Warren. The name of the hospital that Lillian works at belongs to Dulcinea. Um... can’t think of anything else, but if there is something you recognize – yeah, I don’t own that either.
Summary: Love’s not just for the young, it’s also for the young at heart. Giles finally meets his match in the form of Dr. Lillian Gray. Written for the Anita Blake mini-fic-a-thon (Challenge # 442) for Katherine, who requested:
Characters: Drusilla, Illyria, Fred, Wesley, Giles
One Thing You Want To See: Someone made happy
One Thing You Don't Want To See: Character Death
He had jogged past the store every morning for the past two weeks, ever since he’d moved to St. Louis, but he’d never had a reason to go in. He’d moved there in anticipation of his new job, which started in late August. He’d accepted a one-year position teaching in the preternatural biology department of the university. That reminded him, he still needed to send Louie a thank-you note for recommending him to the department chair.
Originally, he had thought about rejecting the offer. They had just established the Slayers’ school, and the girls needed him too much. He was also so busy with re-establishing the Watchers. Buffy and Willow had finally told him that they weren’t going to allow him to waste this chance on them. They were finally ready to stand on their own two feet; Buffy would deal with the slayers and Willow with the Watchers. They had also promised him that he wouldn’t be alone for long – some of the slayers that wanted to go to college would be thrilled to be able to join him in St. Louis.
He loved the freedom that came with the job – they were letting him decide which classes he wished to offer, and he was also allowed to determine the syllabi and the textbooks. He hadn’t had nearly so much freedom with the Watchers – you studied whatever the beastie of the month was, and you used whatever resources you had available. Of course, this class would be far more theoretical than what he was used to – he didn’t think the university would look favorably on him arming his students with swords and setting a Ngorilan demon loose in the room. He briefly wondered how he’d grade that particular practical laboratory.
All was going well until he’d got notice from the campus bookstore that they weren’t going to be able to stock all the books that he’d requested. The publisher had abruptly stopped publication of one of the more obscure demonology books. However, that book was the centerpiece of his "Mystical Beasts: Studies in Mythology and Demonology" course. He needed to find a replacement text, and in a hurry. None of the other books that he’d ordered seemed adequate, and most of his own reference materials were too advanced for an undergraduate class.
He’d noticed that the bookstore down the block from his flat advertised "a far-reaching assortment of texts on the preternatural and mythological", so it wouldn’t hurt to peruse their selection.
Wandering the aisles of the store, he easily lost himself in thought as he ran his hands along the multicolored leather-wrapped book spines before him. He hadn’t seen an array of texts this assorted and comprehensive since his days at university. He breathed deeply, taking in the distinctive perfume of the paper and bindings. Grabbing two or three promising texts, he sunk into one of the armchairs that someone had thoughtfully placed at the end of that aisle. It was easily two hours before he rose again, carefully re-shelving the books back into their proper places. Although they were quite good books, they just weren’t exactly what he was looking for. He was looking for a text that retailed for less than a hundred dollars, and was comprehensive in both written text and useful illustrations.
Paying no attention to his surroundings, he reached out his arm towards a book on the top shelf. He couldn’t quite reach it, so he took a slight step to the right, only to stumble over something and fall to the floor. He was horrified to realize that he’d fallen all over a lady, and quickly scrambled to his feet. Offering the lady his arm, he helped her up from the floor.
"Oh dear, I am so sorry miss. I wasn’t paying the least bit of attention. What may I do to make it up to you?"
"Don’t worry, these things happen. I’m fine."
He reached down to pick up the books that she’d dropped in the melee. He couldn’t help but notice the title on the top-most book. "’A Medical History of the Werewolf’, intriguing book but often very dry. Also, there are a few errors in the chapter about the effects of sedating pharmaceuticals. You might wish to try ‘Biology of the Were’ instead. It’s very well-written, and also includes case histories."
"That’s my favorite reference. I have it sitting on my desk at the office. Actually, I’m surprised you know that one. It’s a very esoteric text, not many people have read it."
"I’m offering a few courses about the supernatural this fall at the university, and that’s one of the required readings. I find that while it’s very informative, it’s also easily accessible to young adults. Oh, I’m sorry – I haven’t introduced myself yet. Rupert Giles at your service."
"Nice to meet you Professor Giles. I’m Dr. Lillian Gray."
"Dr. Gray… why does that name sound so familiar?" he muttered to himself.
She couldn’t help but over hear him. "Director of the Jean-Claude Memorial Shifter Hospital, perhaps?"
"No, that’s not it… I know! You wrote a paper back in the 80s, I believe it was, on the evolution of the modern shifter."
"I didn’t realize anyone had read that paper. I know I haven’t met anyone who has before. Does your specialty lie with shifters?"
"I did my dissertation on vampyric legends and mythology, but I’m well-versed in most of the aspects of the preternatural world. I stumbled across your paper a few years ago when one of my students was bitten."
. . . . . . . . . .
They’d continued their conversation until Lillian had noticed the time. She had an appointment that she couldn’t miss, but she had suggested that they meet at the Lunatic Café afterwards so that they could finish their talk.
He’d been so looking forward to the meeting he’d been half an hour early.
It was one of the more pleasant afternoons either of the two had spent in a long time, and they parted after agreeing to meet there again at the same time next week.
. . . . . . . . . .
Between a full slate of classes and weekly meetings, the semester quickly passed. Sometime around Halloween, Lillian and Giles upped their meetings to twice a week. At Thanksgiving, Giles joined Lillian and the rest of her rodere for their annual feast. December’s exam week found Giles at Lillian’s house – she’d cook supper for the two of them, and patiently listen to his grumbling about the dearth of literate students and their unremarkable study habits.
"Really, werewolves live on blood and die when the sun hits then? Fascinating! I always thought that description applied to vampires. Did this student not study at all or did they take the exam drunk?"
She gave him a glance that had him hastily defending himself with "I love sarcasm. It’s my weapon of choice."
"Just keep in mind, it's unchivalrous to engage in a battle of wits with someone who is unarmed." She winked to indicate that she was just joking.
Their laughter echoed into the night.
. . . . . . . . . .
Giles was quite bewildered. Class was supposed to start in five minutes, and there was no one else in the room. He was sure that at least someone would have signed up for the class. He took a seat in the front row, and propped his feet up on the desk next to him. Grabbing a book out of his attaché case, he glanced through the text. He heard footsteps outside the door, and looked up to see the department secretary standing in the doorway.
. . . . . . . . . .
Only finding about the room change two minutes earlier, Giles ran into the lecture hall, and pulled up short. He was shocked to see a completely packed room, at least 300 students. All the students that he’d had in the fall had opted to take another class with the immensely popular Dr. Giles, and a lot of the younger shifters in the community had decided to take one of his classes. The rest had heard about him through their friends.
"Welcome. I’m assuming you’re all here for PretBio 201, ‘Mythology of the Vampire’? Let’s get started then. We’ll have three lectures a week – two from me, and one from a guest speaker each month. Guest speakers will include shifters, witches, executioners, and several slayers, along with "normal people". If you cannot be tolerant, the exits are the same doors you used to get here – use them now, and don’t let the door hit you on your way out." He paused, but was not surprised when no one got up to leave.
"Very well then, let’s get started. In every generation there is a chosen one. She alone will stand… Well, is no one going to take notes? I’ll start again, I suggest you write it down this time… In every generation there is a chosen one. She alone will stand against the vampires, demons, and the forces of darkness; she is the slayer…"
. . . . . . . . . .
The spring semester passed much like the fall semester. Lillian and Giles continued to meet up for coffee whenever their schedules allowed, and it always felt like they didn’t have enough time. They quickly progress from daily coffee meetings to daily lunch meetings in March, then from daily lunches to daily lunches and suppers by the end of April.
She made her first appearance as a guest lecturer with two weeks left in the semester. It was obvious to Giles that she had a talent for teaching, and that his students adored her. She had accidentally gone over her time limit, but no one moved. For once, there were no whispered complaints or students packing their books and materials up, nervously glancing at the clocks. Giles felt bad when he finally had to interrupt when everyone was still sitting there thirty minutes after the time class was supposed to end. He quickly rectified the situation, asking her to come back for the next class to finish her talk.
After the last student filed out, he offered her his arm and escorted her to their café. Over lunch he raised the idea of offering a co-taught class for the fall semester.
"I’ll see if I can work it into my schedule," she’d replied before grinning. "Well, after seeing that look on your face… I can fit it in."
. . . . . . . . . . Preternatural Biology Department - Monthly Bulletin, May 2005:
The PretBio Dept. would like to announce a new class available for the fall semester. Dr. R. Giles, D.Phil., will be joined by Dr. L. Gray, M.D., in offering PretBio 221, "Mythological and Medical History of the Shifter". Based on student reaction, there may be more than one section offered.
. . . . . . . . . .
Based on the popularity of his undergraduate courses, the department soon had Giles teaching at the graduate level too. His small seminar-style classes quickly filled up, partly based on his reputation as a phenomenal professor and partly due to his innovative idea of having class meet at either Dead Dave’s or the Lunatic Café every week or two.
Richard had been more than glad to offer up the back room of the café as an impromptu classroom for whenever the supper conversations took a more decidedly intellectual turn. However, Giles felt that anything that couldn’t be demonstrated using the condiments on the table or the back of a paper napkin wasn’t suitable material to be discussing.
Lillian joined the group whenever she could, but she was busier than ever before. Based on the rapid growth of the department, several new certificates were being offered in addition to the majors and minors. She’d become the public face for the "Shifters: Medical Theories and Practices" certificate, and was a rising star in the medical field. Based on her work at the hospital and at the university, she’d been able to compile enough field studies to even publish a book. The medical school had offered her a job as a lecturer, but she needed to discuss that opportunity with Rupert before she accepted. She wasn’t about to do anything that would disrupt their own classes.
That particular night, she had been able to join the supper club. Entering the café, several of the grad students saw her.
"Dr. Lillian! Over here!"
They even made room for her to slide into the booth next to Dr. Giles. She gave him a brief smile and a whispered "hi" before she turned to the rest of the group. "So, what have I missed?" She saw the squiggles of mustard and ketchup across the table, and assumed that the conversation must be more complicated than Rupert could describe with just the salt and pepper shakers.
"Dr. Giles was just trying to describe the best way to incapacitate a Koroturi demon."
"Well, I got here just in the nick of time then." She paused to call out to a waitress to bring them some carrot sticks, a jar of mayonnaise, and some more napkins. "Really, Rupert, you were going to try to explain something that complicated with only
the ketchup and mustard?" She clucked over the very idea of trying the explanation with less than three props, and shook her head. The entire table burst into laughter, startling some of the other café patrons.
. . . . . . . . . .
Preternatural Biology Department - Monthly Bulletin, May 2006:
Students will be glad to note that a continuation of Dr. Giles’ and Dr. Gray’s PretBio 221 is being offered for the fall semester. "Mythological and Medical History of the Vampire" will be offered as PretBio 222. Any graduate student who wishes to TA this course needs to talk to Dr. Giles directly.
. . . . . . . . . .
The first slayer to enroll at the university entered the school in the fall of 2006, and Giles received his first graduate student to mentor the same semester. He’d never expected Buffy to live long enough to finish college, must less enroll in graduate school.
When Lillian heard the news, she cried tears of joy along with him. He’d wiped the tears off her cheeks, and they finally shared their first kiss.
He felt like he’d finally found what he’d been looking for his entire life. She tasted like home.
. . . . . . . . . .
"Dr. Lil!" Buffy bounced into Lillian’s office. "So… got plans for Giles’ b-day yet? It’s tomorrow, ya know."
"No! He wouldn’t tell any of us when it was."
"That sounds like Giles. He’s convinced he’s old or something." Buffy grinned at Lillian. "Oh wait, that’s because I told him he was. My bad." Both women couldn’t help but laughing.
They quickly got to the business of planning a surprise party for him. Buffy was in charge of recruiting help from other students, and Lillian took care of the shifter community. Word quickly spread, and everyone seemed very enthusiastic about the soiree.
Lillian was on her phone with a local caterer and Buffy was talking to someone on her cell when Anita stuck her head in the door. "So, what’s this I hear about a party?"
"Tomorrow, Giles’ birthday, not sure about the where and when yet. Coming?"
"How many people are coming?"
"Right now? Um… not sure about total numbers, but more than we’ve got room for either my apartment or Dr. Lil’s house."
"What about the Circus? It’s an off night anyhow, so it wouldn’t be any problem for Jean-Claude to let us use it."
"Perfect! So I take it you and our friendly neighborhood vamp will be attending?"
"With bells on," Anita assured her.
"Great! I always thought vampires should be made to wear bells."
Lillian and Anita just looked at each other. The innate Valley Girl in Buffy could terrify and amuse at the same time.
. . . . . . . . . .
Giles couldn’t understand why Buffy was so insistent that they go out tonight. All he really wanted to do was curl up with a good book, a glass of whiskey, and work on forgetting that it was his birthday. No one had said a word about it, not even Lillian or Buffy. He couldn’t help but feeling slightly abandoned.
"Buffy, I don’t want to. I’m not feeling up to this."
The look of hurt in his eyes almost made her spill the big secret right then and there. She felt so bad that she hadn’t said something earlier, but she’d been afraid that if she’d say anything that she’d end up giving the secret away. Time to pull out the big guns. "Please?" she whined, giving him the patented "puppy dog eyes" treatment.
He sighed. He’d never be able to deny his slayer anything.
Twenty minutes later, she whipped the car into the parking lot of the Circus. She’d promised him that she’d learned to drive in Cleveland. He realized that she’d never said that she’d learn to drive well
halfway there. He almost felt like kissing the blessed ground once he got out of the car, but instead he looked around. The parking lot was entirely too empty. At this time of day… something was wrong here.
"Do you feel anything odd, Buffy? Nothing giving you the wiggins?"
"Nope, all clear."
He still didn’t feel secure, so he surreptitiously wrapped his hand around the stake he always kept hidden in a coat pocket. He followed Buffy as she skipped into the place, only to be confronted with absolute darkness. He pulled the stake out as his heart beat increased. Something was definitely wrong at the Circus.
"Buffy…" he started to tell her to arm herself when he was blinded by a flash of light and screams of "Surprise!"
Dear God, it was a surprise party. He dropped the stake as Lillian wrapped him up in a hug. "Did you have any clue?" she whispered into his ear.
"None, none at all. Thank you. I love you." He whispered back, right before he pulled her into a passionate kiss that left the crowd cheering.
The party continued into the night. He was still shocked to see so many people there. The Cleveland branch of the Scoobies and slayers were there. Willow had even teleported in from London for the event. All the PretBio department was there – even the undergraduates. The St. Louis rodere, pard, and pack had made a fine showing, and Jean-Claude and his vampires were there as well.
After one of the most tone-deaf renditions of "Happy Birthday" song ever performed, someone had mercifully taken the microphone away from Buffy and turned a CD player on. It was a good mix, lots of Bay City Rollers interspersed between songs perfect for slow dancing.
Etta Jones crooned "At last, my love has come along" as he grabbed Lillian’s hand and led her to the dance floor. He couldn’t think of anything more perfect than holding Lillian close to him, slowly swaying on the dance floor. As the last "at last" faded, he pulled her closer and whispered in her ear.
He should have known better than to do that in a crowd of shifters and vampires. As soon as she whispered "of course", everyone who’d heard starting cheering. The news quickly spread to the humans in the crowd, and then everyone cheered.
"You’ve made me so very happy" he whispered to her, and she just kissed him in response.
. . . . . . . . . . Preternatural Biology Department - Special Announcement, November 2006:
The PretBio Dept. would like to announce a class change effective immediately. PretBio 221 will now be offered by Dr. R. Giles, D.Phil., and Dr. L. Gray-Giles, M.D. Please join the department in congratulating the Professors Giles on their recent marriage.