Working Through Fear
written by Fabrisse

Rating: FRC
Spoilers: Spoilers for Buffy through "Listening to fear."
Summary: Giles visits Joyce before surgery.
Dedication: With thanks to Gileswench. Also to Kat who put up this Challenge at You Got the Stones: "A Giles-Joyce fic. Musts: The quote, "what you're really thinking is, 'I had sex with you,'", Joyce breaking something (not Giles' heart!), Giles in his wizard outfit (he's so damn cute in that.)."
Feedback Author: Fabrisse

There was a knock at her door, she thought, so Joyce Summers had tentatively said. "Come in." Obviously the new drugs weren't helping with the hallucinations because Merlin the Magician was standing there. Though come to think of it, didn't Merlin usually have a beard. Suddenly the very diffident face registered and Joyce burst into delighted laughter, "Mr. G-Giles?! I mean, R-Rupert."

Giles removed the hat and robe and hung them on the back of the door. "Just the response I was hoping for. Buffy said you could use a laugh."

Joyce had quieted to little giggles. "Trust me, the outfit's even funnier if you think it's an hallucination. I'm sorry. I shouldn't still be laughing, but..." Her arm flailed a bit and knocked her reading glasses off the bedtable. They fractured as they hit the floor, and Joyce turned on an emotional dime and began to cry. "They're new and I can't get used to them and I can't afford to keep *breaking* things and..."

Giles sat on her bed and wrapped an arm around her holding her close to his chest. "Shhh, hush, shhh." Soft, quiet, comforting sounds as he stroked her hair and rocked her. He held her for a long time until at last the sobs began to subside. Giles looked down at Joyce and found her staring up at him.

In a completely changed voice she said, "What you're really thinking is, 'I had sex with you,' isn't it?"

Buffy had described to him the non-sequitors and mood-swings that the tumor brought on, but this was his first time dealing with one. He decided that honesty was best. "No, I was thinking that I should have come by and talked to you sooner. I know you're being brave for Buffy and Dawn, but sometimes you must just need to talk to another adult. Someone that you don't have to be strong for." He took his arms from around her and pulling the visitor's chair closer sat down.

"Buffy will be here any minute. I assume you've come about the message I left on your machine."

"Actually, I gave Anya a corporate credit card today and told her to take the entire gang out to dinner, including Dawn. Buffy will stop by from nine to ten and Xander will look after Dawn until Buffy gets home tonight. And I haven't been home yet today, what message?"

"You know they've started calling themselves ╬Scoobies' don't you."

"Yes, I made the mistake of asking Anya about it. She had no idea either, so Xander forced both of us to watch a 24 hour marathon on the Cartoon Network. Americans have a strange way of celebrating bank holidays."

Joyce giggled for a moment at the idea of Giles having to watch 24 hours of Scooby-Doo, Where are you. "I guess we do." There was an awkward pause.

"I've come prepared for everything from tic-tac-toe to chess if you feel up to it. Or you could tell me about the message you left me."

"The doctors have scheduled me, tentatively, for surgery in three days. They need to get back some blood work, maybe take another MRI, but by this time tomorrow I'll know whether I'm having brain surgery or whether it's inoperable." A flash of fear went over Joyce's face and Giles covered her hand with his. "I've spoken to my lawyer. I changed most of my will to leave everything to Buffy and Dawn when Hank and I divorced. But Hank has a very serious girlfriend who was talking about starting a real family, as if the daughters he had with me aren't real... Sorry, this is difficult for me."

"I wish I could say that I understand Joyce, but I've been lucky enough that I've never had a serious health issue. I really have no idea. But I also know that I couldn't face my daily life without knowing that my will's in order. It makes me feel like something will go on, even if I'm facing my third apocalypse of the week."

Joyce smiled at him. "Yes, that's it. Hank doesn't want custody and while Buffy is technically old enough to take care of Dawn. I. She. Buffy has other responsibilities and I want her to have as normal a life as possible for as long as she -- has -- a life. Here read these."

Joyce handed Giles a stack of papers. The first was her will, all her goods and her shop were left to Buffy and Dawn equally. Custody of Buffy until she was 21 and Dawn until she too hit that exalted number were left to him. The second piece of paper was a letter from Hank Summers renouncing all claims to his daughters in favor of Giles.

"I even have his blanket permission to leave the country with them." Giles sounded outraged. "What kind of a father, what kind of a *man* could be so cavalier?"

"I asked him to put that in. It occurred to me that you might need to ask the Council for, I don't know, sanctuary or something and I didn't want him hindering you if it came to that."

Giles nodded. "Thank you for trusting me Joyce." The third document was a letter her attorney had drafted saying that he accepted the responsibility and custody should anything happen to Joyce. "Does this need a witness?" Joyce rang for the nurse.

After Giles signed, Joyce looked at him for a several minutes. "I don't suppose, I mean I'll look terrible after the operation and all but..."

Giles mouth quirked, "Joyce, you're Buffy's mother. I'm her Watcher. Our fundamental roles are at odds with each other. But while that doesn't mean that we can't be friends, it probably means that we shouldn't be... more."

Joyce nodded.

"So, as a friend, could you explain to me the mating rituals of the suburban divorcee? From my observation, casseroles seem to play a part."

Once again, Joyce laughed before explaining. She didn't even notice that Giles still held her hand.