So This is Christmas
An Unexpected PresentAuthor:
Two old friends meet at Christmas.Pairing:
Number 21 - Giles and Amy DeLuca
The streets were crowded with busy shoppers trying to find that one perfect gift, be it jewelry or a book. It seemed like everyone in Los Angeles was part of the holiday rush, producing a cacophony of sounds and sights that almost overwhelmed the senses. Why Maria would be here, amidst the madness to a city, Amy DeLuca would never understand.
She knew her pixie-like daughter, having filled both the rolls of mother and father for the girl all her life. Amy knew that her only child craved excitement – the kind easily found in a big city. Here she could lose herself in a crowd, which was exactly what she wanted. She couldn’t hide in a small town, where everyone knew everyone’s secrets – the kind of town that Amy had grown up in and had decided to raise her daughter in, despite the whispers that had followed her.
Once Maria would have moved to LA not to hide, but to shine like the star she wanted to be. Somehow, despite never meeting the man or even knowing his name, Maria had inherited her father’s smoking singing voice and love of music. At the age of five she had begged Amy for a guitar – they couldn’t afford the instrument, much less lessons. But she had scrapped together the money somehow and destiny had been set.
Her singing always invoked rainy summer days for her mother, days long gone by and half a world away -- the smell of cigarette smoke and the sound of lazy tunes playing on the stereo. Days from when Amy was a wild one and had no thought for the future, much less the consequences of today.
Even now, as she heard a softly accented, smoky voice around a corner, she couldn’t help but track the source, both terrified and ecstatic over the prospect of it being him. She sighed out his name before she could stop it, the merest whisper on the wind.
She hadn’t really expected it to be him, of course. Not after all the years or over so many miles. The whisper had been unconscious, a fluke compounded by the fact that she was worried about Maria.
The man turned towards her, almost as if he had heard her whisper, and confusion shown on his face as he studied her. It was obvious that he didn’t remember her, not the way she remembered him -- hadn’t made the impact on his life that he had made on hers.
His confusion allowed her a moment to study the changes time had made, for which she was grateful. He was still gorgeous, his blue eyes now hidden by wire-framed glasses and a noticeable widow’s peak high on his forehead. He had gained a little weight, but was nowhere near the fat and bald she had always half heartedly hoped. The biggest change was his clothes. Gone were the bad-boy leather she had adored so much, replaced by conservative pants and sweater.
“Amy?” he asked after a moment, his confusion clearing like fog on a sunny morning. “Good lord, it’s been years.”
“Ripper,” she said with a shy smile, struggling to keep her composure.
He winced slightly at the name and reached up to take the glasses from his nose. She watched as he jerkily cleaned the lenses, the action giving off the feel of a nervous habit.
“Rupert, a-actually,” he stuttered. “Ripper was a long time ago.”
“So it was,” she murmured as he slipped the glasses back on his face. It had been a life time ago – Maria’s.
A group of girls exited the store they were standing in front of, their giggling and general noise breaking the awkward silenced that had descended upon them. The oldest was perhaps a little older than Maria, a pretty blonde who stopped next to them and looked up at him with adoring eyes.
“Ready to go, Giles?”
“Er… Yes, in a moment, Buffy,” he replied, his features softening with some softer emotion. “Buffy Summers, this is Amy DeLuca, an old friend,” he introduced.
The girl studied her for a moment before casually waving a bag-encased hand. “She’s not evil, right?” she asked in an aside, the smile never wavering from her face.
Ripper – Rupert – choked at the question and stuttered out a shocked “Buffy!” Amy thought she might like this adult version of her old love.
“Hey, you never know,” she said with a shrug. She glanced behind her to where the gaggle of girls was currently gathered and her eyes widened. “Gotta go,” she called and she raced towards the others, prompting Rupert to check on the group.
“Oh dear,” he sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose before turning back around. “I’m afraid I must go.” He took a small card from his pocket and handed it to her. “I’m in town until the holidays. We can have lunch, or-or dinner one night and catch up -- if that’s alright with you, that is?”
She took the card and softly promised to call as he rushed towards where the girls were bouncing down the sidewalk. Once he was out of sight, she actually looked at the piece of cardstock, taking in the discrete lettering and logo. She had no idea what the Council of Watchers was, or what it meant to be the director.
After pocketing the card, she continued down the street, once again lost in thought. Yes, she would call him, she decided. Maybe she would even tell him about Maria, the daughter he had never known. Wouldn’t that be an unexpected present?