Surrendering To Fate
Chapter One - Conditions Of Surrender
written by Jolene Beasley
Spoilers: 'Band Candy', Season Three.
Summary: What happened between Joyce and Giles was all a result of the cursed Band Candy. Or was it? This series explores what
might have happened if Joyce and Giles really did have feelings for each other and they could get over their intense embarrassment.
Feedback Author: Jolene Beasley
"I'm terribly sorry... I'm supposed to be meeting Buffy... I can just... I - I'll wait outside. Sorry to have disturbed..." Giles shuffled his feet, unwilling to look Joyce in the eye.
"Don't be ridiculous. You're not going to sit out here on the front porch. Come in."
"No, really, I wouldn't want to..."
"No, you won't."
"If you're quite sure..."
"For pete's sake, come IN!"
He ducked his head, and with his eyes downcast and his hands shoved deeply into his pockets, he stepped inside. His whole demeanor was hesitant, but when his eyes briefly met hers, there was a glimmer of something... was it hope? She stared back at him, trying to keep her face from revealing her feelings.
She stopped just a few steps from the living room entrance and tried to calm her racing heart. It began behaving badly the moment she saw him standing at the door. She denied it, tried to ignore it, but the impact of those amazing green eyes meeting hers reduced her to a bundle of nerves and hormones. She had dismissed her reaction to him before, at first blaming loneliness, then the chocolate curse they were under. But after avoiding him for months, and trying to reason her way around her own emotions, her reasoning went out the window with one look.
Now, they were just two people... not Slayer's Mom and Slayer's Watcher, or even Parent and Teacher, but two people who needed to deal with each other, and move on.
Putting on her blandest face, she turned towards him and said in a neutral voice, "Would you like something to drink, while you're waiting?" Instantly, she thought of Kahlua, and winced.
He gave her his kindest smile. "Well, some water would be nice... or tea, if you have it made."
She saw an out, and took it. Heading for the kitchen, she paused just long enough to say, "I can make some... really, it's no problem." Ignoring his protests, she closed the kitchen door behind her and let out a breath she didn't realize she was holding.
The kettle was in the sink from her morning cup of instant coffee, and she rinsed it more thoroughly than usual, concentrating on the mundane task to clear her head. Rinse the kettle, fill it with fresh cold water, find the tea bags, turn on the stove, and wait. No, waiting wasn't so good. It meant she had time to think.
The trouble was, she didn't want to think. What she wanted to do was feel... feel his arms around her again... and that frightened her badly. Ever since Ted, she was terrified of starting a new relationship with any man. She had strong doubts about her ability to choose wisely. And they had been so out of control that night. It couldn't have been real, could it? She hadn't felt that feeling of connection with a man in years. It was as though they shared much more than one wild night of abandon... She wrapped her arms around herself and leaned against the counter, lost in her musings.
She remembered the first time she met Rupert Giles... in the hospital waiting room, when Buffy was sick with the flu. He was the very picture of lonely bachelorhood, with his rumpled suit and his unpressed shirt collar. He was so obviously concerned, so anxious to reassure her. Polite, even deferential; he accepted her awkward words of sympathy about Jenny's death as though they were eloquently spoken. Yes, he was attractive, and yes, she was attracted, but now that she knew more about him, his life, his role in her daughter's life, it was no longer a simple matter of attraction. Just because she dreamed about him almost every night... just because she longed for his presence, his touch, his lips against hers again...
She started and whirled when he cleared his throat behind her. He jumped almost as badly as she did.
"Oh, uhm, sorry to have startled you, but the kettle..."
She became aware that the silly thing was whistling. She hadn't even heard it. 'Boy, am I in the Twilight Zone tonight, or what?' She shook her head, smiling in spite of her embarrassment, and started toward the stove. She reached for the burner control and the kettle, but when she saw how badly her hands were trembling, it was too much. She froze, holding the kettle. Her shoulders started to shake as she dropped her head and began to cry silently.
"Oh, dear, Mrs. Summers... Joyce, no, here, don't cry... I'm sorry..." He couldn't help himself. He never knew what to do with a crying woman... except to feel totally helpless. The sight of her sobbing broke his heart. Had he caused her such pain that she couldn't bear to be in the same room with him?
He offered her his handkerchief and tentatively placed a comforting hand on her shoulder. When she didn't shrug it off or protest, he slid his arm around her, supporting her, and took the hot kettle out of her other hand before she scalded herself. He set the kettle back on a cool burner, and turned her toward a chair. She sank into it gratefully, and dabbed at her eyes, trying to keep her makeup from escaping down her cheeks.
When she finally composed herself, she looked straight into his eyes again. He was down on one knee beside her, searching her face to see she was all right. She quickly looked back down and attempted to smile reassuringly.
"I'm sorry, that was so silly... it must be all the stress. They say stress can cause you to do a lot of strange things."
"Yes, I'm sure it can."
Her tongue suddenly developed a mind of its own. She heard herself say, "It' s just that... I miss you."
She would have laughed at the startled look on his face, if she hadn't seen it shift into a look of hope. 'What am I saying?' Tears started welling up in her eyes again and she again bowed her head, angry at herself and her big mouth.
A shudder went through her. The way he said her name... it was incredible. She couldn't look at him, or he would be able to see past the facade and into her heart.
"I, I've missed you, too." His voice was so low she barely heard the words.
Finally, she gathered her courage and looked at him. His lips quirked up into a wry little smile. "I miss having someone to talk to, that understands something of what goes on here in Sunnydale." His expression grew more serious. "I miss our conversations about Buffy and the other children, about art, about ancient cultures... about anything at all. And, most of all, I miss... this..."
He leaned forward and brushed her lips with his softly. An undemanding, gentle gesture, it spoke volumes. She was afraid to move, but her heart soared at the contact. After a short moment, he backed away, watching for signs of rejection. When he saw none, he continued. "It wasn't entirely the candy, you know. Not that we - I - would have ever... acted so rashly without it, but... I've been attracted to you all along. I just never... well, there never seemed to be an appropriate time to discuss our feelings."
She reached out and caressed his cheek, slowly, and watched his response to her touch light up his face.
"I know..." She agreed. "Never the right time..." Glancing down again, she suddenly decided that she was through waiting for the 'right' time. She surrendered to her true feelings and leaned towards him, initiating another kiss that was not quite as undemanding as the first. He met the kiss passionately in return and moaned softly, causing little tingles to run up and down her spine. Strong fingers ran through her hair as he deepened the kiss, holding her and invading her mouth with his tongue, reclaiming her as his. His ardor took her breath away.
They both became aware of their awkward position, and broke away long enough to stand and wrap their arms around each other. With his lips and hands, he consoled and caressed her, easing her tension away. He murmured soft reassurances as he covered her face with tiny kisses, all the while feeling as if he had finally come home. She finally rested her head against his chest and closed her eyes, feeling safe and warm in his embrace.
The front door banged open, admitting one petite bundle of fire named Buffy. She didn't see anyone in the living room, so she headed for the kitchen. Striding confidently, she threw open the kitchen door and found them holding each other. The sight stopped her short.
Her mother's tearful face sent a shiver of fear up her spine, but Giles' unworried expression assured her that there was no cause for panic. In fact, he was looking a little dreamy and preoccupied. Not surprising, since her mom was clinging to him like a limpet. So, was this a getting-together kind of thing? She thought maybe it was. She surprised herself, and them, by not freaking completely out.
"Am I interrupting something major, Giles? Should I go away, and come back later... much later?"
His chuckle shook Joyce gently as she leaned against him. She smiled contentedly, and allowed him to answer his Slayer's question.
"You aren't interrupting anything that can't be continued at a more... convenient time." He sounded almost lighthearted.
Buffy grinned at his tone of voice. A happy Watcher was a lenient Watcher, to her mind. And, maybe her mother would be less clingy if she had someone else to cling on to. This could be of the good. "Well, right now, the convenient time would be *after* patrol, right, Giles?"
"Quite right." He reluctantly let go of Joyce, smiling still. Before he moved away, he gave her a sweet, lingering kiss.
Buffy winced. They were cute, and all, but grown-ups smooching was not her favorite thing to watch. Especially since one of them was her Mom. It bordered on 'eww'.
"Come on, Romeo, we gotta go make the streets safe for Sunnydale citizens to walk. We'll be back in an hour or two, Mom, 'kay?"
"Okay... both of you, please be careful!" She tried not to sound too overprotective, but she was still reeling from what had just transpired.
"We will, I promise. Promise, Giles?"
He smiled at Joyce, and decided that the Hellmouth wasn't deep enough to keep him away from her again.
Read the next chapter: Tactics