Amy crossed the living room, shaking out her damp hair and wearing her long, teddy bear patterned nightshirt. She climbed the stairs to the loft bedroom where she found Giles, silently standing and staring at the bed. Quietly, she came up behind him and placed a soft kiss on the nape of his neck as she slid the half-empty tumbler from his hand.
“You’re not, you know,” she spoke gently and placed the scotch on the bedside table.
“What?” he murmured absently, slipping his suddenly empty hand into the pocket of his robe and not looking away from the bed.
Amy stood next to him and caressed an understanding hand over his back. “You’re not betraying her memory.”
Giles slowly rubbed his tired eyes beneath his glasses. He didn’t know whether to be upset, or sad, or angry. “Are you reading my mind now?”
“I don’t really have that ability,” Amy said, walking behind him and further into the room. “But I can feel your heart cry. The new bond makes it hard to ignore, but, in time, you will lean to block me out.” She could see guilt in his eyes. The hard part was telling what he felt it for. A number of ideas went through her mind. It could have been the thought of replacing the one he’d lost. Guilt for being upset with her just for caring. Maybe he thought he was leading her on. Likely, a mixture of these and more.
Amy gave an understanding smile. “Truthfully, I’m here because I wasn’t about to turn down a good dinner and a warm bed for a lonely motel room. Plus, I’m kinda stuck wherever you decide to take me at the moment.” The woman frowned as she didn’t get any response to her attempted joke. “You know, it could also be that whatever you might be feeling for me right now is just a temporary effect of the joining. That’s likely what made you kiss me during the ritual. Don’t worry, it will pass.” She then added with a chuckle, “And I promise to do my best not to take advantage of you until it does.”
Giles finally looked up at her. He knew what she was trying to do, and was grateful for the effort. “If my feelings are because of the gift you gave me,” he said softly, “how come I’ve wanted to kiss you since I first saw you?”
Amy let out a long, slow breath. For a moment she was struck dumb. Those were words she never expected to hear from any man.
Giles sat down on the bed and rested his head in his hands. “It’s just,” he mumbled, “I’d almost forgotten how much I miss her.”
Amy went to the corner of the room and retrieved the instrument hidden there. “She’s still there you know, in your heart. I can feel her in you. The love you have for her goes even deeper than the wound created by her death.” She held the guitar out to him. “Sing to her. Sing everything your heart wants to say to her.” Giles slowly took the guitar and held it on his lap. “What was her name?”
“Jenny,” he whispered as he began to play.
She sat down behind him and lay her head against his broad, strong back, letting the vibrations of the strummed instrument and his beautiful, soothing voice flow through her.
Amy couldn’t help the huge grin on her face as she lay sprawled over the pillows of the bed. Here was a situation she could never have imagined finding herself in. It felt so comfortable here, so safe. She had always said that she had given up on men as a species. Of course, many of her best friends in the world were guys. But as anything more than that… She had simply never encountered one that was worth all the effort and aggravation that the women in her life were always crying to her about. With her work caring for the animals and everyone else around her, she felt her life was full and she was loved. But, then this one man came along. It was hard to tell what it was about him. Something she had never sensed before. She had to laugh to herself as the thought occurred to her that this one just might redeem the whole screwed up sex in her eyes.
Amy’s fingers absently played through the soft, feathery hair of the head resting on her abdomen. “When was the last time you let yourself do that?” she asked quietly.
Giles filled his lungs and let out a deep sigh. “It was that night,” he remembered. “Not when I found her… I was too angry. It was after, when the rage drove me to do something stupid. Buffy had to quite literally knock some sense back into me. She was there for me. Not only to save my life… She held me as I cried.” Amy’s warm, comforting hand slid into his robe and caressed the skin along his collarbone. “I’ve lost so many,” he continued softly, “I’d even given up mourning them all. But Jenny was the first I’d loved.”
Amy squeezed his shoulder in a pseudo-hug. “That’s the danger for the ones who are supposed to be strong. So much time is spent comforting everyone else. It’s easy to forget your own emotions. You forget you even have the ability to cry.”
“You sound like one who knows,” Giles said glancing up at her.
Amy gave a half smile. “I just know you have to feel safe to be that vulnerable with someone else. It’s rare to find someone who will provide that for you.”
“Uh huh…” Giles nodded, finding some enjoyment at her obvious avoidance of a straight answer. “How long?”
“Maybe about twenty years,” she admitted.
Giles couldn’t help laughing, though it wasn’t really funny. Amy laughed too. This was her favorite emotion, the joy that always found a way to spontaneously erupt from sadness.
In the total contentment of the moment, Giles settled deeper into his human pillow. “So,” he sighed, “are you going to tell me how you did this?”
“I didn’t do-”
“You know that connection you keep talking about? I believe I’m starting to discover how it goes both ways.” He looked up with a mischievous glint in his eye. “Besides, you’re a horrible liar anyway.”
Amy playfully smacked him on the shoulder. “Fine. Do you remember how it felt when the deer spoke to you in the forest?” Giles nodded against her. “Animals are easy. They’re upfront with their needs and desires. So much so that, if you’re receptive, they’ll tell you what you need to know without any contact at all.
“Now, humans are much more complicated. Our minds are always fractured and pulled in many directions. Things we feel… Things we think we should feel… Things we’re ashamed to feel… But, humans are animals, too. My people can’t, and would never, put something in someone’s mind that’s not already there. But, for example, if there’s a part of them that wants to trust us, that can be encouraged. It just takes physical contact with the person.”
Giles shoulders shook with quiet laughter. “That explains how you got Buffy to listen to you.”
“Hey,” Amy defended, “you told her to come with me, too.”
“Yes,” he grinned,” but she never does what I say without an argument.”
“All I did was amplify her natural trust in me.”
“Oh, you have to teach me how to do that. It would make my job so much easier.”
Amy gently brushed a lock of soft, brown hair behind his ear. “No, Rupert, it wouldn’t. She already trusts you more than anyone else in the world. Anyway, I think you’d miss the arguments if they stopped.”
“Perhaps,” Giles sighed.
“I think it’s very sweet,” Amy cooed. “The overwhelming question in your heart is the same as the doe in the forest. You want to be sure your children will be safe and well.”
Giles looked confused. “But I have no children. Yes, I’m Buffy’s Watcher. But my job is to train her.”
Amy shifted so she could easier look him in the eyes. “Answer this… How often are you seen hanging around with a bunch of teenagers? How many hours have you spent alone with those girls?”
“Yes, w-well… I have to train Buffy. And Willow, and sometimes Cordelia, likes to h-help with the research.”
Amy grinned at the nervous tone in his voice. “How many times have you sent those boys home battered and bruised? And the big question… How many times have one of their fathers shown up to punch you in the nose?”
“None,” he murmured.
“Face it. You’re either dad, or a creepy old man.” Amy gave him a pat on the head. “Mazel tov, Rupert! It’s a gang!”
Giles rubbed a hand over his face. “Bloody hell,” he breathed.
Placing a gentle kiss at his temple, Amy whispered, “They’re lucky to have you.” She lay back and stared at the ceiling as her hand played in the fine hairs of his chest. “I would bet there isn’t a decent father among them.”
Giles sat up on the bed and looked down at her. “I’m supposed to be Buffy’s Watcher, not a babysitter.”
Amy sat up to meet his penetrating gaze. “Yes. You will watch as she grows strong and sure. You will be there as they fight side by side. And you will do the hard things, the dark things, everything that you are unwilling to let any of them take responsibility for. Some will leave for new lives. Some you will lose. And new ones will come. Along the way you will be there to guide them and protect them all. Even when they hurt you and turn away from you. It’s because you will have love for each and every one. That’s who you are.”
The stunned Watcher blinked at her. After a few moments he was able to say, “I thought you couldn’t see the future of a human.”
A huge smile grew on Amy’s face. “I don’t have to.” She pointed at his heart. “It’s all in there right now. You won’t be able to help yourself. Might as well just suck it up and accept it.”
There was a mischievous glint in his eye as Giles replied, “Has anyone ever told you, you can be a rather annoying woman?”
“Only when I’m speaking the truth,” she laughed.
Amy lay on her elbow with her head propped up and watched Giles get up and remove his robe to hang it in the closet. She let her eyes take in the picture he presented, standing by the bed, wearing only a pair of powder blue satin pajama bottoms. “Rain was right,” she sighed. “Defiantly a portrait worthy of mounting.” Then, with joy in her eyes, she rolled to face the other way and settled in to sleep.
A chuckle rose from her as the room went dark and she felt him climb into bed behind her. She could feel his fingers brush though her hair and lightly across her shoulders. All she did was whisper, “I keep my promises.”
It was Monday morning in the parking lot of the high school. Rain grabbed Amy’s bag and threw it into the truck.
“Sorry I took an extra night,” she said, concentrating on what she was doing. “I got invited to this party and decided to get some sleep before driving.” She turned around to see Amy and Giles standing there with hands clasped and staring into each other’s eyes like a couple of love struck puppies. “Okay,” she amended, “I’m not sorry.”
“But, why so soon?” Giles’ soft, even voice questioned. “There’s still so much for you to show me and teach me.”
Amy gave him a sweet smile. “You’ll do fine. Most of it will be instinct. And I’m pretty sure you can find some books to help. I’m just a phone call away, Rupert.” To see sadness in those shining, green eyes was more than Amy could stand. “I’ll show you one more thing before I go.”
Pulling a knife from her boot, Amy pressed the blade into her palm just enough to draw a drop of blood. With the slit palm, she grasped Giles’ hand and held on. A world of color and light reeled around the man. He could see her past and feel her desires. He experienced her past sorrows, sadness deeper than her sweet smile would ever betray. And he saw her triumphs. He loved what she loved, and despised what she hated. All at once, he knew everything.
The sensations shooting through his body filled him with incredible pleasure. His head and face grew red and hot as tiny squeaks escaped from his tight throat. He swallowed hard, small convulsions shaking his whole body. Suddenly he was back, with the steadying arm of Amy supporting him.
She whispered quietly in his ear, “It won’t always be like that. Most souls will try to hide and keep their secrets from you. Mine let you so far in because it already knows and trusts you.” He nodded his understanding, still trying to regain his power of speech.
It was during these moments, of course, that the Slayer and her band of teenaged warriors were approaching to say their goodbyes.
Cordelia was the first to speak out. “What the heck was that?”
“I don’t know,” Xander chimed in. “But if she can do that to him just by holding his hand, think of what she does when they’re-”
“Don’t finish that sentence,” Buffy pleaded. “If you put that creepy mental image in my brain, I’ll have to kill you. Then I’ll have to cut my own head off.”
“Aww…” Willow chirped, “I think they’re cute together. We should be happy for him.”
Buffy shuddered. “I guess. But adult PDA is just so gross.”
Xander spoke up as the group approached the grown-ups. “Hey you guys. Just thought we’d come to see you off.”
“Yeah,” Buffy nodded, “Thanks for all your help.”
“It was our pleasure,” Amy smiled at her. “This was actually easier than trying to catch a real bear.”
Rain agreed, “Yep. It’s been a while since we got to really flex our magical muscles, too. Felt good.”
Giles looked up at both sisters with a shy smile. “You know, you could stay. We can always use more help of your caliber on the Hellmouth.”
“That’s right,” said Willow. “With a couple of real witches on the team, we could kick some mystical butt.”
Amy did her best to hide how appealing the offer was to her. She looked back at Rain, still perched on the side of the truck, who nodded agreement with the answer she knew was coming. “We can’t. You guys have your war, and we have ours. It’s your job to be here and protect humanity from evil. Ours is to go and protect everything else from humanity.”
Everyone smiled. It was only Rain and Giles who understood how much the last part wasn’t a joke to her. She turned and signaled her sister.
Rain reached into her pocket and pulled something out. She tossed it to Oz, who easily caught it. “A gift for you.”
The red-headed boy let the thin black cord dangle from his hand and examined the pendent hanging on it. It looked to be a single piece of perfectly round, light green crystal. Intricately carved into the circle was the image of a wolf’s head howling at a full moon. He looked up at Rain with wide eyes, “But, how did…?”
She grinned, jumping down from the truck. “We can sense an animal presence without even trying. It frightens you now, but the wolf is pure instinct. It can be mastered and controlled. In time you will find your way.”
Willow hugged her boyfriend, who was still trying to deal with the shock of his recent change.
“That pendant once belonged to a great friend of ours,” Amy told them. “His name was John, and he was the best wolf trainer we ever had. And yes, three nights every month, he ran with them in their enclosure.”
“He was a werewolf, too,” Buffy voiced the conclusion everyone had already come to.
“He had already mastered his beast when he came to us. When I asked him why he still chose to go through the transformation, he said that he liked to remember how it felt to be wild, so he could understand the abused and frightened animals we worked with better.”
Oz looked at her in disbelief. “But… he could choose?”
Rain gave him a nod. “It takes time and discipline to learn how, but there are many who do.”
“That pendant is a focusing crystal. John left it to us when, well... He said we’d find someone who needed it one day.”
“Thank you,” was all Oz could say.
The harsh sound of the school bell called the children to classes, and a flurry of hugs were given before they all moved toward the building together. Xander wrapped his arms around as many friends as he could. “Another day on the Hellmouth. Anyone else wish it would just take a vacation?”
Suddenly, all that was left was the hardest goodbye. Giles wrapped his arms around Amy as she rested both hands against his deceptively solid chest. She stared up into those deep, thoughtful, green eyes. What more could be said? Where was she going to find the strength to push away from this? She heard the seemingly distant sound of Rain starting the truck behind her.
He finally whispered, “You will be missed.” All she could manage in response was a smile. Giles bent and kissed her. It was truly the kind of kiss she’d never experienced before. The passion and care he poured out through those soft lips… This time it was his turn to make her head reel.
Somehow, Amy made it into the passenger seat of the truck. She could hear Rain talking as they slowly pulled away. Her eyes never left the man watching them go.
“So, dish. Tell me everything.” Rain went on. “Mt. Vesuvius, right? Come on, spill. The auditions were really disappointing. You’d think in LA people would know what they were doing. I need some vicarious action. Wait… You didn’t, did you? My God, I leave you alone for two days and nights with a gorgeous guy and all you do is screw around… Well, obviously not. You two really are made for each other, you know. Have I taught you nothing?”
The ranting continued and Amy kept ignoring. Her gaze was glued on the distancing figure. The ever-watchful stalwart, standing fast.