written by Gileswench
Spoilers: Set a couple days after the events of The Gift, includes spoilers up to that point on BtVS, and through the Pylea cycle on AtS.
Summary: In the aftermath of Buffy's death, Giles has been taking care of everyone. Who will take care of him?
Dedication: To lawyergirl15, who inspired a lot more angst than I think she intended, but who I love anyway. ; )
Author's Notes: WARNING: Angst, angst, and more angst. I didn't mean it to be this angsty, but Giles insisted. Discussion of character death, potential
suicide. This one comes to you through the goodness of The Fund, an LJ community designed to raise money to help out our fellow fen caught in
the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina by offering fic, LJ icons, banners, web design, and beta services in exchange for donations. Lawyergirl15 requested
Feedback Author: Gileswench
Author's Website: Wench's Tavern
"Really, Cordelia, you don't have to come in with me," Giles said firmly. "I'll be quite alright."
He twisted the key in the lock of his front door and attempted to slip in alone. Cordelia, however, refused to co-operate with his plan and
managed to wriggle in before he could entirely shut the door.
"Paranoid much?" she asked with her usual tact.
"Insensitive much?" Giles snarled.
"I'm not being insensitive," Cordelia said. "I'm being practical. We just buried Buffy and Angel is brooding over her grave, so you can't
sit there and offer your neck to the first creature of the night to pass by. That means you're going to look for another way to fail to
get through the night. My guess is you plan to drink yourself into a stupor and hope you go into a coma and don't wake up."
Giles glared at his companion.
"Really?" he said. "And just how do you know what I'm going to do? What would you know about it?"
"I know what you tried to do when Miss Calendar died. Buffy had us all on Gileswatch for weeks after that, in case you tried to do something
that stupid again. This is even bigger, and there's no more Buffy to keep you from committing suicide."
"Suicide? Is that what you call it?"
"That's what Buffy called it."
Cordelia's blunt words pulled Giles up short. Of course Buffy would have called it that. She was the only one who truly understood how
alluring death seemed in that moment, just as he understood how peaceful death must have looked to her in the moment before...
"It wasn't about killing myself," he lied. "It was about destroying something dangerous before it killed everyone I cared about."
"It was about equal parts revenge and getting dead. Really, I get it," Cordelia said. "You're not the only one who copes with wondering
whether Angel is an ally or an enemy this week. Yeah, I work for him and I'm crazy about the big goof, but every once in a while, there's a
reminder of the bad old days of Angelus and it freaks me." She shrugged. "We don't lead safe lives. We make the big life and death
decisions every day, and sometimes death looks like the better deal. If we sat down and navel-gazed about it every single time that
happened, we'd go nuts."
"Giles, I do understand."
"That wasn't what I was going to say," he said softly.
"Yes, it was," she said as she headed for the tray of liquor on his breakfast bar. She poured two glasses of whiskey. "You were going to
ask for this."
"You're right, actually." He sat heavily on the couch. "I thought you said drinking was a bad idea."
"Drinking is a bad idea," she said. "Drinking alone is even worse. One drink, though, might just get both of us through the night." She
handed him one of the glasses and sat next to him, raising hers. "To Buffy."
Giles felt the misery welling up inside himself again. It had become his close companion over the last few days.
"Buffy," he whispered, raising his glass and tossing the whiskey down. It burned and he almost couldn't swallow past the lump in his throat.
"Rest in peace."
Cordelia removed the glass from his hand before he could rise to get another drink.
"Now," she said briskly, "You go take a shower and I'll get things ready upstairs.
"I - I beg your pardon?"
"It's gonna be a long night and you're a mess, Giles," she said, not unkindly. "You need to let some of this emotion out, and I know
there's no way you're gonna cry in front of me. Shower's the best place for hiding tears. And I'm betting you've been knotted up like a
piece of macramé for weeks now and nobody's done anything to relax you at all. Well, tonight you hand over the reins and I'm going to take
care of you."
"Cordelia, really, there's no need."
"Is Willow here? Xander? No. They're being tended to by the people who love them best. They're crying on their girlfriends' shoulders. You
don't have a girlfriend. The person you cared about most in the whole world is dead. I'm the only one here. So unless you want me to call
Wesley and have him try to get you through, I'm going to take care of you tonight."
"Why? Why are you doing this?"
She smiled wryly.
"Because you got us all through a lot of rotten nights. I owe you. And, as much as I hate to say it, I think I owe Buffy. Also, Angel
owes you in a big way, but he's never gonna pay up. He feels too guilty to look you in the eye. Anyway, it's my job to help the
hopeless. The way I see it, there's nobody on the planet more hopeless than you tonight. Now go on. Scoot! Shower, followed by a nice back rub."
"Back rub? Look, Cordelia, I know you mean well, but I'd rather be left alone."
"If you let me stay, you can have another glass of scotch. If you throw me out, I'm taking the bottle with me and sharing it with Wesley."
Giles glared and muttered something rude under his breath, but he stopped protesting and headed for the bathroom.
"That'd better be a bloody good back rub!" he shouted down the hall.
Standing under jets of hot water, Giles had to admit, did feel good. A piece of his heart insisted that nothing ought to feel good again. His
Slayer was gone. Worse than that, Buffy was dead. She'd been his reason to keep breathing for so long he no longer had any clue how or
why he continued to do so after she'd stopped. Living felt like a betrayal. Feeling good, well, that was the most heinous betrayal
possible. But still the tears refused to come.
He hadn't cried once since Buffy's death. He'd coped. He'd dealt. He'd comforted the others and made arrangements and seen to it that
everyone else ate and slept and did what needed doing. It had seemed self-evident that as soon as Buffy's body was decently buried, it
would be his turn to join her.
That was the real reason the Watcher's Journals ended so abruptly. When Buffy asked him, he couldn't tell her, couldn't lay that burden
on her, too. The fact, however, remained that getting a field assignment was tantamount to a death sentence. Either one would be
killed in battle fighting by the side of one's Slayer, or one would simply cease to be within days of her demise. A few shuffled on as
broken husks of the men and women they'd once been, but they never really came to life again.
For his own part, Giles couldn't wait for the charade to end.
And yet, the shower felt good. Some stubborn corner of his heart clung as hard to life as ever. If he didn't watch out, Cordelia would
discover that bit of him and wrestle it to the surface.
He turned the taps closed, grabbed a towel, and began to dry off automatically. A memory flashed into his brain unbidden. Buffy,
covered in demon goo, frowning at his towels.
"Gray towels, Giles?"
"What's wrong with them?"
"Nothing. If you like your towels to look pre-filthed. At least now I know what to get you for your birthday. Cleaner looking towels."
He wanted to laugh. He wanted to cry. He wanted to rage and smash every breakable thing in sight.
What he did was fall to his knees on the floor desperately trying to control the dry heaves that wracked his body and soul.
"Giles? Are you okay in there?"
Oh lord! Cordelia was at the door. Giles fought to get himself under control.
"I'm fine," he lied. "I just...I dropped something. I'll be right out."
"Sounded like you dropped you. Hurry up in there, then come upstairs. Is sandalwood oil okay? It's manly enough, right?"
"Sandalwood. You know, the massage oil. Massages are better with oil, and I didn't think you'd like heliotrope all that much. Lavender would
probably be more relaxing, but I don't have any, and anyway, you might think it's too gay. So, sandalwood's okay, right?"
Giles shook his head. Sometimes it was nearly impossible to follow what any of his young friends said. Still, he'd been interpreting
Buffy's chatter long enough that he knew it was often easier to say yes and figure out what he'd agreed to later.
"Yes, that's fine," he said.
He still wasn't entirely certain what he was agreeing to, but sandalwood... dear God. Jenny's favorite oil scent. Clean, fresh,
earthy, and inevitably connected in his mind now with arousal. With life. With wanting.
Too late to stop her now. Cordelia had gone upstairs as soon as he'd said yes.
As much as he wanted to simply fall down dead and never have to take another painful breath, Giles had to admit there was something else he
wanted. He wanted to do something remarkably stupid to prove he was still alive. He wanted to grab any willing female and have his way
with her. And up in his bedroom sat Cordelia. They'd never really been friends, not the way he'd been friends with the others, but he'd
always found her remarkably attractive when she wasn't making his head hurt with her insensitive jibes and surprisingly cruel taunts.
There she sat, probably on his bed, a combination of Jenny's voluptuous curves, Olivia's brisk practicality, and Buffy's
thoughtless, unexpected grace. She was all the women he'd loved and lost in Sunnydale, yet completely unlike any of them at the same time.
What's more, she was alive and at hand. Not that he planned to do anything about that. No, that would be wrong. He was in mourning. His
head was filled with thoughts of recklessly endangering himself into his own grave. Other parts of him, however, continued to remind him he
wasn't in that grave yet.
Clearly, some part of him wasn't going to go down without a fight.
"Giles?" Cordelia called down from the loft.
"Don't bother with getting dressed. Just toss on a towel and come up here."
"Cordelia...I don't think that's a very good idea..."
"Massage is better skin to skin, and I've seen a man naked before. More than one. Your bod isn't gonna shock me."
Giles shrugged to himself. The lady had spoken. If she wanted an eyeful, then an eyeful she would get. He wrapped a towel around his
hips and left the safe confines of the bathroom.
When he got to the loft, Cordelia pointed to the bed.
"Lie down," she ordered, "and lose the towel."
"I'd rather keep it," he said stubbornly.
"Who's the one giving the massage?"
"And who is it meant to be relaxing?"
"You're a brat, you know that?"
"You ought to be acquainted with the condition, being one yourself."
Cordelia reached out and yanked the towel from Giles' hips, then tossed it over the railing.
"Lie down!" she said.
With a final glare at Cordelia, Giles followed orders. An image flashed in his mind of taking the girl and tossing her over the
railing to follow the towel, but he decided it wasn't worth the trouble. He'd be unlikely to get the death penalty for that crime, and
it would take years to carry out if he did.
"That's better," she said as soon as he was prone on the bed. "And really, there's no reason to keep this covered up so much all the
time. Yeah, you're not twenty anymore, and it shows, but for fifty, you're not too bad."
"Forty-six," he muttered mutinously.
"Whatever. The point is, you've got muscle tone and there's not a lot of flab. Actually, you've got a pretty cute butt. The front view isn't
that bad, either."
"I didn't mean you to view the front, thanks so much."
"Growly." Cordelia crawled on the bed and settled herself on the backs of his thighs. "Someone needs to learn how to take a compliment."
"And someone needs to learn to respect privacy."
Cordelia didn't bother to notice Giles' complaint. Instead, she took some oil and rubbed it over her palms to warm it, and slathered it
across Giles' back, kneading it into his badly knotted muscles.
"Wow! You're wound even tighter than I thought," she said. "This could take some work."
Giles just grunted and allowed her to work. Part of him protested, but her hands felt so good, so gentle and strong. The piece of him that
clung so stubbornly to life demanded to be taken seriously. It drank deeply of the nourishing touch of another human being and did its best
to grow stronger before he could stop it. All the while, Giles fought to stay in his dark place, refusing all comfort. It felt as if he was
being untrue to Buffy, to his destiny as a Watcher, to everything he'd been taught to believe from childhood on.
"Woah, Giles, this is supposed to relax you," Cordelia scolded. "Stop tensing up! Think about something nice, if you've got a good memory.
Look, just imagine you're not all sad and bereaved, okay?"
"I am bereaved. I've lost everything."
One word, two syllables, that offended every corner of his being except for that one that hadn't given up. And still those strong,
capable hands continued to knead insistently at his flesh, bringing him back to the world.
"You've still got your health," Cordelia said, "though from the looks of that nasty wound in your side it was a close call not too long ago.
How long was it, and what did it?"
"Lance. A little over a week ago."
"Yeah, I know what it's like to get speared...though I guess in your case it was more of a real spear and less of being speared with rebar.
The point is, you're okay now, and you've got friends, and you've got your store, and you've got this place which, while it isn't really my
style, isn't too bad, and now you've got your freedom. You've got more than you think, so stop feeling so damn pitiful."
"For God's sake, Cordelia, we buried her not three hours ago! I think I'm allowed my grief. Now, at any rate."
She ignored his bitter tone and kept up her ministrations on his back.
"Well, duh!" she said. "Grieve all you want. I think you're entitled. All I'm saying is your life isn't over yet. And if you give up now,
Buffy's gonna kick your sorry butt across the afterlife and back again. Do you really think she wants to see you again this fast?"
For a moment Cordelia thought she'd gotten Giles to laugh. Then she realized that wasn't what he was doing at all. He was crying.
Giles was crying.
Cordelia slid off his back and sat by him, numbly confused. No matter what, she'd never seen Giles give in. She'd seen him in perfect
control the day after Miss Calendar's funeral, the day Buffy returned, the day they'd discovered Angel was back from Hell, and so many more
times when any normal man would have shown his distress.
There was nothing controlled or dignified about this, either. His sobs were noisy and his face was crumpled in pain. He looked more naked
than he had moments before. When she bent over to see his face, he turned violently away.
"Giles, Giles, hey, it's okay," Cordelia said in what she hoped was a soothing tone of voice. A thought flitted into her head. As was
Cordelia's wont, it sped out of her mouth before she gave it much thought. "How long has it been since you cried?"
Giles was in no position to answer yet. He was still weeping noisily into the bedclothes. Cordelia slid over and ran her hands gently over
his back. This time, he allowed her to touch him. She wasn't sure if it was because he wanted someone to touch him or because he was too
emotionally exhausted to refuse her again. It didn't matter. If Giles was going to be grounded in the world again, he needed someone to hold
him, someone to give him a reason to live.
It seemed like forever before he spoke a coherent word.
"Sorry," he muttered with a slight, soggy hiccough. "Not sure what came over me."
"Men." Cordelia shook her head in disgust. "You hold it and hold it and hold it until it can't be held and then you let loose with this
incredible huge tidal wave, and then you can't figure out why you felt so bad in the first place. Had you cried once since Buffy died?"
Giles shook his head miserably.
"See, that's why you did that," she told him. "You're in a ton of pain, and if I know you, you've been taking care of everyone else,
making sure everybody else's needs are dealt with and completely ignoring your own. Well, buddy, that stops right now. It's okay to go
on living. Hell, it's okay to start living, 'cause what you've been doing the last few years doesn't really count in my book. You're off
the hook now. You can do whatever you want. No guilt, no letting anyone down. So stay here and run the store, or go home to England, or
take a trip around the world with the first willing twenty-one-year-old vixen you can find...it doesn't matter."
"What twenty-one-year-old vixen would want me?"
"Well...I won't be twenty-one for a while, but I'd be game. Not for a relationship or anything, but I'd totally bone you if you wanted."
Giles stared at her for a long moment.
"You'd...I can't have heard that right," he said at last. "My hearing's gone, hasn't it?"
"No, it hasn't. You're ears are fine. In fact, a whole lot of you is more fine than I would ever have suspected."
"I warn you, Cordelia, I'm a bit vulnerable at the moment. Flattering me might get you a great deal further than you'd counted on." He sat
up and ran a hand over his damp face. "Don't toy with me. I honestly don't think I could take it right now."
"Who's toying? You asked, I answered, and you know I think saying what's expected is for losers. I don't make nice. I never did. I doubt I
could learn how at this late date." She smiled ruefully. "Besides, I've seen a couple commercials I did. Turns out I'm not much of an
actress, after all. I may look great on the screen, but I can't lie and say how great something is when I don't believe it all the way
down to the bones."
"I've seen your commercials, too. You're a terrible actress. But you do look very nice on camera."
"Admit it," she cajoled, "I'm smoking hot."
"You're certainly...very attractive."
Cordelia smiled. She sparkled in the semi-darkness of the room.
"See," she said. "That wasn't so hard to say. Now roll over and let me get back to work on your back."
It was too much effort to fight, Giles decided. He didn't know if this game was going to go all the way, but part of him was praying to every
god he'd ever heard of - except Glory - that it would.
He groaned slightly as Cordelia's hands went back to their task with a will. Human hands offering him pleasure was something he hadn't felt
in far too long. That combined with the tag end of their conversation began to stir something in his body as well as his heart. Wonderful. A
little gentle teasing and his libido took it at face value.
Giles concentrated on willing his penis to soften. Somehow, though, that only seemed to make it harder. The bit of him that wanted to live
insisted that Cordelia seemed interested, that if she wanted him so could other women. The tiny corner of his heart also insisted it
wasn't too late to live, to love, to be loved in return. Yes, things looked bleak, but they could improve. Soft hands deftly worked over
his flesh, easing out the tension he'd carried in his shoulders for days, weeks, possibly even years. It felt good. Freeing. Intimate.
"Roll over. I want to do your front."
"I...um...really, there's no need..." Giles stuttered in dismay.
"What's the matter, you big...oh!" Cordelia raised her eyebrows in surprise, then smiled again. "I know why. It's okay. There's nothing
unusual about that, you know. The male ego can't resist a woman's touch. So you've got a hard-on. So what? I've seen them before, and I
know just how to handle one."
"Cordelia, I - I really don't mean to presume, but...well, you don't have to...um, handle it at all. I'm not asking - "
"No, you're not," she said gently. "You never would. And if I didn't want to, I wouldn't offer. I just think it's probably been way too
long since anyone handled you like that, and I think it would be fun to do it. I'll go easy on you, because of that hole in your side...if
you want me to do this at all. You do, don't you?"
The part of him that wanted to give up and die screamed no. It reminded him how many people he had harmed. How many had died because
of him, or because of the things he fought every night. It reminded him of Ben struggling feebly under his hand for one last breath that
would never come.
"God, yes, I do want it."
"Then roll over, already."
He followed instructions, and even smiled when he saw the greedily impressed expression on Cordelia's face when she saw him hard for the
"Wow!" she said. "If I'd known what you were hiding, I'd have offered this a long time ago. I might even have been nicer to you way back when."
"I thought tact was for losers."
"Well, tact, yes. Self-interest isn't tact. I'm interested, here, so stop complaining and let me have my way with you."
"Yes, ma'am," he giggled.
"Hey! No laughing, either. What are you laughing for?"
"I don't know. Can't seem to help myself."
"You're so weird," Cordelia said with a shake of her head. "No wonder you can't get a woman to put up with you for long. It's a good thing
for you you're such a hottie, or you'd never get any at all."
As she spoke, she poured more sandalwood oil over her palms and rubbed them together to warm it. She watched Giles settle himself back, his
eyes filled with hope that she was actually going to go through with her seduction, but still guarded as if he couldn't believe his luck.
She smiled and turned her attention to his cock. That, at least, had no intention of giving up hope. It stood to attention, long, hard, and
willing to be seduced.
Cordelia ran one well-oiled hand over Giles' balls while the other began to slide up and down the shaft of his cock. He shivered slightly
and made a small noise of surprised satisfaction.
"Like that, huh?"
"I'm not dead, Cordelia. Of course I like it."
Part of her wanted to simply climb on top of Giles and let him fill her to the brim. The rest of her, however, knew he wasn't up to that
level of activity. Not until that nasty wound in his side finished healing a little more. Instead, she resolved to keep him as still as
possible and not worry about her own satisfaction. A hand job wasn't her favorite, but it was still fun. Besides, if he liked it enough,
she might just happen to drop by again in a couple months and see if he was ready and willing to do more.
Love didn't really seem to be in the cards for either of them, but friends with some hot benefits might just work for both of them. She
increased the pressure. He rewarded her with an actual moan.
"Yes, like that," he panted. "Just like that."
"Bossy," she teased.
From that point, there were no coherent words. Giles wasn't in the mood to talk and Cordelia was concentrating on the feel of the hard
cock in her hands.
Giles did his best to keep still. He knew his doctor would be furious if he found out about this. One particularly hard lunge of his hips
could rip his stitches and reopen the wound in his side. Giles didn't care. Soft, strong, feminine hands were offering him the comfort he
was starved for inside.
Keeping still was no longer an option. The slick, expert hands massaging his cock and balls had him on the verge of release. He
wanted to let go. He was nearly there. One thing, however, held him back.
"Cordelia," he moaned. "Cordelia, please."
"Please what?" she asked. "What do you want?"
"I thought you'd never ask," she said.
Even as she reached up to kiss him, Cordelia didn't pause in her ministrations. Giles reached up and pulled her lips to his. His other
hand eagerly took hold of her full breast and caressed it. Cordelia whimpered into his mouth and sped up her stroking. Their tongues
tangled. Giles' moans grew more intense. He tore his mouth from hers, shouting as the first wave of release hit him like a thunderbolt.
Cordelia continued to kiss and caress him softly as he recovered. Each quiet moan and sigh seemed more content than the one that preceded it.
At last, she heard him give a slight sigh as he gave her breast one last small squeeze and let go.
"Hey," she said. "Feeling better?"
"Yes, a bit." He turned oddly wide eyes to her. "Thank you."
"I'd say it was all my pleasure, but it looks like you had plenty of fun." She looked down anxiously at his side. "I didn't hurt you, did I?"
"It's a little sore, but I don't think we did any major damage. I'm sorry I couldn't do more for you."
"It's okay. Yeah, it would have been nice, but you really weren't up for that." She rolled her eyes. "Okay, yes, you were up, but you know
what I mean."
"Yes, I do," he chuckled. "I'm sorry, but I think I'm about to be dreadfully typical and fall asleep."
"I think you've earned it," Cordelia said. "Let me get a towel and clean you up, then I'll tuck you in."
He nodded sleepily as she fitted action to words. By the time she'd located a towel and gotten back upstairs, he was already out like a
light. When she'd finished cleaning him, she smoothed the hair back from his forehead and kissed his cheek.
"You poor sucker," she said. "You've really had a rotten time here, haven't you? No wonder you're exhausted."
A knock on the door drew Cordelia's attention away from Giles. She wiped her hands on the towel, set it aside, and headed downstairs to
"Who is it?" she asked in a low voice.
"Wesley. Are you ready to go back?"
Cordelia opened the door and gave her friend a wry smile.
"Mission accomplished," she said. "He'll be okay now."
"Are you certain? How did you manage it?"
"Honestly? You don't want to know. But it worked. He'll live."
"You didn't have to do anything...unsavory, did you?"
Cordelia smiled more broadly.
"Wes, you know me. I don't do anything I don't want to do. I stopped Giles hurting himself, and I actually had a really good time doing it.
In fact, I had so much fun, I might just have to give him a check up in a few weeks." She slipped out with one last look at the loft. "It's
been rough on him, but he's a survivor. As long as he gets through tonight, he'll make it."
She closed the door, straightened her shoulders, and headed down the path.
"Come on, Wes, let's get His Broodiness and go home."
"You might show a bit more compassion, Cordelia. Angel is bereaved, too."
"Which one did I see killing himself in my head? I'll give you a clue, it wasn't the one who's already dead. Don't get me wrong, I'm crazy
about Angel, but he's gonna be okay." She shot one last look at the door behind her and smiled. "They'll both be okay now."