Summary: "It's all flipped backwards and turned sideways."
Pairing/Characters: Faith, Giles (even Faith/Giles if you like)
Timeline: Set during Retreat Part I | #26 (but really only vague spoilers for Faith and Giles' arc in No Future For You. It's more Faith and Giles in a bunker than Faith and Giles in Season 8).
Rating: PG-13 (for language)
Word Count: 1150
Disclaimer: I own nothing and I make no profit. Not it!
Author's Note: For snickfic on her birthday! Happy birthday! I hope you enjoy my Faith/Giles offering and that you don't mind the first person POV. For some reason, Faith demanded it. Unbeta'd so all mistakes are my own.
I can’t take the not talking.
Nah, that’s not it. I’m good with the not talking. Giles and me, we don’t do the talking thing. Don’t need to. I’ll come back from a rough night and he’ll be sitting in his chair, reading a musty old book, glass of scotch in his hand. The good stuff. He always drinks the good stuff. Expensive as hell, too.
Me, I don’t go for the good stuff. I like how the cheap shit burns on the way down. Besides, his brand doesn’t come with a built-in stop sign and, well, I got carried away that one time, gulped down a whole bottle before I knew what hit me. It ain’t right drinking something that smooth. How’m I supposed to slow down when it feels that good?
Anyways, I’ll come in and crash on the couch. He’ll look at me out of the corner of his eye, then take a sip of that smooth, acting like I’m not even there and I’ll just smirk at him, toss my feet on the coffee table and lean back into the cushions. He’ll go back to reading, but he’ll get this look like he’s about to smile and the corner of his mouth will twitch. He’ll hold it back ‘cause he knows I’m watching, waiting for him to break—he doesn’t, he never does, just keeps on reading.
And that’s it. No words necessary. I’m home means I had a good night, staked a few vamps, went crazy wild on some demons. End of story. No fuss. No anxious looks. He knows I can handle myself and I’m here, aren’t I? Means I did good. Better than. Like always. He knows I’m gonna kick ass just like I know he’s got all the answers in his books. And hey, if they’re not in his books, then he knows it ‘cause he lived it. Like me. Just the way it is.
So we’re good with the quiet most days. Most nights, too. But now? It’s all flipped backwards and turned sideways. We used to not talk ‘cause we didn’t need to. Now we don’t talk ‘cause we can’t. I hate it here. The walls feel like they’re closing in. I’m gonna lose it. Any minute now. ‘Cause the not talking… it’s not the worst part. The not moving? I just fucking can’t. Can’t be quiet as a mouse and we gotta be quiet like that. Can’t move or they’ll hear us. I’m the Slayer and… I’m a Slayer. I don’t hide. I hunt. I don’t fucking hide and I stopped running a long time ago. Damn.
You’d think I’d be good at this: eight months stuck in a hospital bed, three years locked up in the joint. I should be a fucking Zen master, all the practice I’ve got not moving. I’m mad skilled at letting the world pass me by. But even when I was outta the game, I wasn’t wasting time. Body’s gotta heal, right? And prison was just more of the same. I was… Angel’d say I was atoning. B would say I was getting what I deserved. Felt more like I was finally keeping the world safe (from me). So I had purpose.
It’s wrong though. The way this feels. We’re hiding and running at the same time and I know it’s wrong. It ain’t right so it’s gotta be wrong. Gotta be another way. A way out. I gotta get out of this bunker. I can’t fucking stay here. We gotta get out. Giles and me, we had a plan. We were gonna help make it better. Make it so nobody else got lost. I can’t hide. I gotta be out there. I gotta be out there in case... In case. I can’t. I can’t not. I ca—
“Faith?” Giles whispers, and my eyes snap open. He’s crouching in front of me, looking concerned, actually looking worried and I know that’s not good.
I shake my head. I don’t even try to talk ‘cause if I opened my mouth, I’d scream. All that’s left in me is loud. I can turn it off or turn it on—there’s no happy go-lucky middle.
Giles reaches for me and I can’t help but flinch, not ‘cause it’s him—I’m even flinching from the way my chest moves every time I breathe. It’s not him. It’s me. My pulse is shaking the life outta me, breakneck speed here I come. I’m freaking. I’m freaked. Losing it. I’m losing it. ‘Cause if I’m not moving forward, I can’t keep myself from falling back. Fuck, I’m shaking. I can’t stop shaking.
His hand lands on my knee and I fight to keep from pulling away. I don’t wanna be touched. It’s bad enough he can see me shaking. I don’t want him to feel it. He settles down next to me, leans back against the concrete wall, then he gives my knee a squeeze and my mouth pops open like a fish, like he just flipped a switch and it’s all gonna come out.
I don’t scream. Guess it means I finally caught a break. Maybe I’m not destined to get us killed. Maybe he’s not gonna die ‘cause he’s sitting beside me. Maybe we’re gonna make it.
“It will be all right,” he whispers, so soft that I barely hear him, but the words shoot through me, settle warm in my gut, and I wonder how he can do that. Talk so low. Small sips, right?
I don’t remember moving, but my hand is wrapped around his wrist, pressing his palm hard against my knee, like his touch is my lifeline, and I’m pushing my forehead against his shoulder. My eyes are squeezed shut and I can feel the easy rhythm of his breathing. Slow, slow, slow it down, girl. Easy rider.
“Might I suggest we seek other lodgings in the morning? The amenities here leave much to be desired. The lack of a minibar alone is criminal.”
I laugh, no sound though ‘cause my throat’s locked shut, but I’m puffing out gusts of air against his arm. My grip eases on his wrist, but I don’t let go. Can’t. Don’t want to. Same difference.
“Ah, that’s much better.” I can tell he’s smiling. Don’t know how, but I know he is. It’s how he sounds when he’s smiling.
Goosebumps shoot down my arms and I can feel my cheeks tingling. And I’m smiling, too. Guess I like it when he smiles. Breathing gets easier and my heart stops jumping, then I’m rubbing my forehead against his shoulder. ‘Cause I can. ‘Cause I want to. My hand lets go of his wrist and slides down till our palms are touching and I slip my fingers in between his.
Faith the Vampire Slayer holding hands with Giles the Watcher. Quick, somebody take a picture. It’ll last longer.
Or maybe not. Feels pretty solid to me.
Continued in Part Two: Reckless