Challenge fic: Tipping the Scales part 1/2
(check)1. It only has to be a one part fic, but more then one is acceptable.
Giles nestled into the warmth of the firm pillow supporting his cheek. It was so comforting, he never wanted to move. And the inviting aroma was lovely, a musky vanilla mixed with an indistinguishable perfume. But what was most enjoyable was the gentle rise and fall, moving to a subtle thump of a heartbeat. Huh?
Giles eyes shot open as his misjudged pillow began to shift beneath him. He was in bed with someone, but who? His mind raced to remember the hazy events of the previous evening. Little by little, the pieces started falling into place.
The day had ended at the Las Vegas Memorial Hospital. After a long and hot days drive through the desert, the survivors of the latest and final Sunnydale apocalypse had finally made their way to civilization. The able bodied remainers of the rag-tag army of Slayers and Scoobies aided the paramedics in bringing in the less fortunate injured into the emergency care wing where they promptly overfilled every possible room of the first floor. Once everyone was busily rushing around in the orderly chaos of the hospital, the coast seemed clear enough for Xander, Dawn, Willow, Giles and Buffy to manage to slip out under the radar of any medical attendants and head off into the fading daylight.
It was difficult leaving the gang of newly enabled Slayers behind, but they knew the girls would be in good hands, each others. Besides, the core Scoobies decided their seemingly unending mission was finally accomplished and they needed a well deserved vacation. The world was a new and exciting place, now populated with heroes just waiting to strut their stuff. Why not let them take the Chosen One reins for the moment.
As the sun slowly began to set over the hill, Giles wrangled up the talkative gang into the school bus and they drove off together, trying to decipher what to do with their newfound lives, or at least what to do with their first evening off. After a few minutes of brainstorming, Dawn suggested the infamous Vegas Strip. It was shrugged off at first but after no other brilliant ideas were suggested they all agreed to see what Sin City had to offer.
Giles could remember the first two casinos. It was pure stimulation overload. He was bewildered but pleasantly receptive to the multiple free drinks he was offered as he feigned interest in the flashing and dazzling lights of the excessively irritating machines set up like mazes throughout the large open rooms packed with people eager to spend their last dollar on a wing and a prayer. Willow, Xander and Dawn wandered around aimlessly, absorbing the entire spectacle that was Vegas as Buffy kept a humbled pace along side Giles, quietly observing those oblivious to her. No one would ever know who she was or what she’d done, but her friends knew and that seemed strangely enough for her.
The rest of the evening’s events were much more of a mystery. After his third deceptively potent and treacherously tasty spirit of the night and her latest uncounted drink, Giles was having a friendly talk with Buffy, reminiscing over old times as they watched the others racing around the casino floor. After the trio returned for a third installment of ‘you’ll never guess what I just saw’ or ‘I didn’t know that was legal’, Giles recalled his irritation at the frequent interruptions and then a sudden generosity overtook his better judgment. In a thoughtless moment, he handed over the only item he’d not yet abandoned from his Council days, his unlimited credit card. He considered the possible repercussions and figured he’d take the risk to rid himself of the annoying threesome. Besides, since the Council was no more, who would question him about the charges. After some uncertain refusals, they took off like bats outta hell toward the nearest shopping area to test the limits of the council charge accounts. Buffy smiled gratefully at his impulsive but rather shortsighted thinking. They continued their discussion and Giles’ memory of what happened next was ambiguous at best.
So what had brought him here? More importantly, who was sharing the generously oversized, heart-shaped bed complete with red silk drapes and fluffy ornamental heart shaped pillows. His eyes followed the pale, smooth skin of the body lying under him. After a brief peek of the sheet blanketed bosom he was nuzzling to, he was relieved to see it was a woman. That was a good start. The female form shifted again and he slowly lifted his head up and back to get a glimpse of his sleeping companion. As he drew back, taking in more of the form beside him, he got an uneasy feeling in his gut. Inexplicable as it was, he somehow knew this body; every inch was ingrained within his mind though he knew he’d never known it as intimately as the scene implied. Holding his breath, he shifted upright and his eyes met hers.
Both of their voices were brimming with restrained panic as both tried to work out the how’s and what’s of the situation. After a quiet moment of awkward shock, Giles ran his fingers through his tousled waves and gave a discomfited smile.
“G-good morning,” he said softly.
“Um…yeah,” Buffy said nervously. “Ditto.”
“Yes, did you?” She answered quickly.
The awkward silence was back and louder than ever. Both Buffy and Giles ran the previous night through their minds, trying to remember what had brought them to this uncharacteristic and embarrassing moment. Neither one wanting to display any sign of apprehension toward the other or wanting to disclose their forgetfulness of the nights dealings, they chose instead to nonchalantly examine the tastelessly furnished room. It didn’t take long to decipher the cues the decorations provided; it was the honeymoon suite of a very cheesy Vegas establishment. But why where they there…together…and naked in the same bed with various articles of their clothes strewn about and three empty bottles of cheap champagne, a half eaten carton of strawberries and jar of hot fudge, and what looked to be the shredded remains of a condom wrapper.
Giles and Buffy glanced nervously at each other and smiled as casually as they could muster, trying desperately to avoid any display of distress.
“S-so you slept well, then?” Buffy asked.
“Glad to hear it…”
“And you…” Giles stuttered, “…w-well rested?”
“Uh-huh… yep…you betcha…” Buffy trailed off into muffled sounds of approval.
“Well…hmmm…g-good t-then…” Giles trailed off into mumbled stammers.
Darn that blasted silence!
“Hey…” Buffy started, “…last night was…was…”
“Yes…the evening was…” Giles joined in and they both paused, waiting for the others response to get a hint of whether it was an evening to remember or best left forgotten. Buffy gave a quirky grin and rubbed her weary eyes.
“Ok… I fold. What, in the name of all that is normal and right, happened last night?” She flushed a deep red as she peeked out between her fingers to see his reaction.
“You mean you don’t remember?” Giles huffed.
Buffy dropped her hands into her blanketed lap. “Do you?” She was immediately defensive.
“Not entirely… not at all really,” he gave her a humiliated smile. “I’d say by the looks of the room, we enjoyed ourselves.” He glanced over at her to catch a reaction, hoping he’d proven able to rise up to her expectations.
Buffy took up the half empty jar of fudge and sniffed it with a narrowing glance to him. “I think your suspicions are correct…” she dipped a finger in and licked it clean. “With the chocolaty goodness and well dilapidated mattress, I’d say we kept the neighbors up.”
“You mean you really don’t remember a thing?”
“Hey…” Buffy shot him a warning glare. “I’m not the only one in forgetfulville here. You seem to be in absentmindedland yourself, or at least in full-fledged denial mode.”
“Never!” He insisted. “I would never deny such a thing as this, Buffy. It’s…it’s…”
“I was going to say remarkable, but thanks for the encouragement,” Giles felt his heart sink with her choice of words and he pulled the sheet up closer to his chin, feeling very bare and out of place.
“No…I didn’t mean you. I meant with the mutual amnesia. Almost Hellmouthy when you think about it.” Buffy defended herself, suddenly feeling bad with notice of his discouraged reaction to her blunt description. She placed a gentle hand over his and smiled apologetically. “Giles, I didn’t mean that you were creepy or that the thought of us being… well… closer… in the clothes optional way was creepy. I mean, I never thought about it really. Well… sure. In my lower moments of loneliness and rejection I might have considered…”
Giles pulled his hand away and slipped farther away, giving himself sufficient space. “Please… don’t try to comfort me. It’s much like trying to douse a fire out with gasoline.”
“I’m so not doing this right!” Buffy shook her head. “I’m just saying I wouldn’t have seen this coming, is all,” Buffy sighed with frustration. “Doesn’t mean I wouldn’t want to. The thought of being with you in that way is…”
“Creepy…” Giles reiterated.
“Intriguing,” Buffy corrected.
“Like a bloody science experiment, just wonderful. Now you’re equating me with household mold or dissecting a frog. I know I’m a old fool, Buffy. But the minuscule scraps of my fragile ego could do without such comparisons.”
“Would you give the mopey sarcasm a rest for a moment, Giles?” Buffy carefully wrapped herself up in another sheet and slid over to him, slipping her hand under his and gently gliding her thumb over his knuckles. “You’re a brave new world, Giles. You’re uncharted territory.”
“Are we dealing in history or cartography now?” Giles watched her slight fingers curl under his palm, feeling better with every tender stroke.
“Let’s say psychology… human relations to be exact,” Buffy drew small circles within his palm, watching as his eyes stared, engrossed by her workings. “I’ve done the angsty, doomed love thing. I’ve done the textbook boy-next-door, Boy Scout with a paranormal twist thing. I’ve even done the rebellious ‘what on earth where you thinking’ bad-boy thing. But you know what I’ve never done?” She paused, slipping her hand out from under Giles’ and placing it over his hand. “Never done the decent, reliable, real man thing. Never done the dutiful, loyal and protective thing. Never done the compassionate, gentle and kind thing.”
“It’s going to be quite a chore finding all those characteristics in one man. Perhaps you should take it down a few notches,” Giles tried to restrain his smile.
“Can’t settle for less when I’ve got the best right here,” Buffy smiled and gave his hand a squeeze. “Or had the best... did we…um, you know?” She waved a hand along the bed. “I usually pride myself in figuring out these things, but I’m not so sure here.”
“What’s not to be sure about? Looks fairly cut and dry to me.”
“We both know looks can be deceiving.”
“I admit, I’m unclear of the details myself, but all things seem to point to…well…” Giles struggled to find a sterilized way to describe the situation. “On what basis do you doubt the most likely conclusion?”
“Well… this, for one…” Buffy swiped away the only cover protecting Giles modesty and with an affronted huff, he jolted to his feet in search of replacement shielding.
“Buffy!” He protested, restlessly scrambling around, tossing a variety of unfit articles aside until finally giving up with a frustrated shrug, settling his hands firmly on his hips in a irritated display.
Buffy giggled at first, watching giddily as he rustled about. But as her eyes started to study him, her lips curled to a contented smile and she let out a placid sigh. There he stood, one of her closest friends and yet so much more, just a few feet away and perfectly nude. Though he was completely different than anyone she’d been with before, he was just as she’d expected and wanted, with every inch a wealth of experience. His was not the body of a fashion supermodel, nor did it reflect the shape of a life of sloth. Giles’ tall, slender form was a captivating record of his life’s work. Long, taunt muscles donning fascinating scars that painted along his tender skin, graying patches of inviting hairs scattered along the defining edges of well worn flesh that called out to be touched. And as her eyes cast downward, she felt her breath catch with the sight of his sizeable, uncircumcised manhood demanding her attention and peaking her curiosity. He was simply stunning.
“Giles… I-I don’t know what to say…” she took a deep breath, trying in vain to calm her hurried pulse. “Major gaspage! I’m sure I’d remember something like that. Something as breathtaking as your….um… well, lets just say you would have left an impression.”
“Thank you. But couldn’t you have made your point without exposing me?”
“Sorry…had to be done in the name of science. I was curious. All these years and I’ve never once caught an accidental look-see. And I’ve tried.”
“Really?” Giles couldn’t help his inquiring smile as he sat back down and Buffy’s eyes followed the lower part of his anatomy with every shift and bend. “Eyes up here, Miss Summers.” He cupped her chin and tilted her face upward until her eyes met his. The intimate moment gave them pause and they exchanged a warm smile.
“Put it away then…too damn distracting!” She ordered, grinning shyly as Giles blushed and pulled her sheet over to cover himself. She let it go; disrobing her with the insistent tug and Giles’ heart skipped a beat at the site of her bare form.
“My… you’re beautiful,” he whispered as his eyes danced along her slender frame. “I’ve always thought so but seeing you so… so revealed. You’re simply amazing.”
“Do tell,” it was Buffy’s turn to blush and she bashfully slipped back under the covers to join him.
“I saw you once. By pure accident, mind you, but it marred me for life.” Giles eyes glanced past hers to the night table. “I’ve never been able to see you the same way again.”
“See, this whole thing seems too weird. After seven years together… and out of the blue, this? We should remember, Giles; something so momentous as this.”
“Then I’m curious as to what you’d say about this?” He reached across her to take up a paper that was perched precariously on the edge of the table, blanketing her for a fleeting moment with his body and he paused to enjoy the sensation before drawing back into his original position. He displayed the paper to her with a well composed expression of calm.
Buffy’s eyes went wide with shock. “Fuck me!”
“Is that a request?” Giles smiled evenly, knowing she was much too stunned to take notice of his jest.
“That’s a marriage certificate!” She said with a raised voice.
“Yes… seems so,” Giles slid his hand over to her and gently rested it on her knee as she examined the document.
“With my name and your name and the combination of the two and an official seal… looking all too real and legal.”
“Quite,” Giles snickered at her overstressed reaction. “Is it all that bad?”
“What?” Buffy’s shocked expression faded as she finally tore her gape from the sheet and back to his caring, green stare. “We are… we’re married, Giles.” She said with an exasperated breath.
“More or less,” he leaned in closer toward her, his eyes darting between hers and her full, rosy lips.
“I’d say more, by the looks of it. But how… when… why?”
“All good questions,” he wrapped his hand around her waist and continued to dip nearer. “But for now, I’ll settle on a first kiss from my bride…”