Characters: Giles, Buffy
Setting: Post “Chosen”
Summary: Giles needs a moment and goes back to the Sunnydale crater to think.
Prompt: A Fresh Start
Word Count: 584
Disclaimer: For fun, not profit.
A/N: Playing around with tone and cadence here.
It seems so unreal.
And yet here he is, staring into the crater once again, needing a few more minutes to gather his thoughts… if he could only manage to pick out the relevant bits from the jumble that vie for his attention in his battle addled brain.
It is over. Well, initially. On the surface. For some. Hopefully for her… his Slayer. Maybe for him, but he doubted it. He’d said something earlier about a Hellmouth in Cleveland. Where the hell did that come from? Odd bit of strategic thinking. Maybe part self preservation because there is always some threat, isn’t there?
Always an encroaching evil to be aware of.
Let’s not think on that, Giles. Victory. We scored a victory today. Monumental comes to mind.
There have been losses in this war. Council members, family, Potentials, Slayers, allies, friends…
Anya. Dear Anya.
And most importantly, there are survivors. Buffy. Willow. Xander. Dawn. And Faith. And the new Slayers they now need to take care of.
He could hear them talking. Muffled tones behind him. Asking questions. “What now?” - and how “now” was measured. In the immediate? In four hours time? In four days? In four months? Hell if he knew. But they would turn to him for answers. It’s just a matter of… well… time.
Not now… just, please… not now.
He closes his eyes and turns his face to the sun. He relishes the warmth. The first real warmth he’s felt in what seems like forever. And he braces himself, for with it comes the thaw, and he’s not ready for what comes next.
Elation. Sadness. Relief. Uncertainty.
And physical reactions.
Adrenaline. Euphoria. Lactose Acid. Exhaustion.
His legs give out and he stumbles to the ground. And everything slows down around him.
He can hear soles scuffling on pavement, knows the fear he is causing because everyone is still on edge, still in shock, fearing that while the worst is over, something else might take advantage of the lull.
He looks up as two sets of hands grab his arms, drawing him up. But he is a big man and his legs are heavy and they feel like rubber. There is no leverage and, to his consternation, he collapses back onto the ground. It’s absurd.
And then he starts laughing and the laughter turns into a fit of giggles. Everyone around him is stunned by the display.
When he is able to focus again, he finds he is alone with his Slayer kneeling before him, concern shadowing her lovely face. And that won’t do because she should be basking in her victory.
And just like that he is able to think clearly.
“I’m fine, really,” he says, giving her a bashful look as he pushes himself up from the ground.
“Care to tell me what happened?”
“I fell.” He shrugs. He can’t stand it when she worries.
“Did you hit your head?”
A look of incredulity washes over his face as he realizes there is a distinct lack of head pain. “Surprisingly, no.”
She smiles in relief. A genuine wide Buffy smile - one he hasn’t seen in years - and it is warmer than the desert sun and he can’t help but return it just as brightly.
“Huh,” she teases. “Must be the sign of a new start.”
And he knows that whatever happens now - four minutes, four hours, four days, or four months from now, nothing will ever be the same.
It seems so unreal.