Who Will Sing Me Lullabies
Rating: NC-17. Don't read this if you don't want to know.
Timeline: Season 7 AU, diverging from Angel episode "Orpheus". This story will share some, but not all, the events of the S7/S5 Faith arc on A:tS and BTVS. For example: Caleb, yes. Xander's eye, no. It takes plot markers from the canon but also diverges significantly in places. So you're clear.
Disclaimer: The characters herein do not belong to me; they are the sole intellectual property of Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy Productions, though I wouldnít say no to a naked, trussed up Spike on my doorstep, if you have connections or something.
Summary: Part 1. Apologies, Chinese food, and a couple of good shags.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: Mike and Manda beta-ed this for me, Erin gave me feedback and created the gorgeous graphic up top, and I blame this entire plotbunny on Lani, because I thought it up but she all but dared me to do it; she's also my beta for all things British. The full lyrics to the Kate Rusby song from which this story takes its title can be found here.
i am letting the telephone ring
I'll lay here; I'm weeping for the stars they have come
It's not like I hadn't fucked a Watcher before. There was Wesley, back in the day, when he was as uptight in bed as he looked. And again later in Los Angeles, when he was Wes, all leather and blood and heat, though that sex still didn't leave me satisfied, either. Nothing and no one left me satisfied. Nothing I'd found yet, at least, and that included three policemen, a vampire with a soul, and the Mayor of Sunnydale (well, at least until he tried to eat the town).
These are the things I think about on the nights that I lie alone on the lumpy mattress in the motel room I'd come to think of as my own. Never mind that none of that other Slayer's buddies could be bothered to put me up; they'd looked at me as if I was the last thing they wanted to see - not as if I was their last hope. So I was back in the motel I'd spent that year in before the Mayor rescued me, I was back in Sunnydale and back in a life that I thought I'd sworn off.
Back in Sunnydale, a new person. In Sunnydale with a few scant days of peace before the next apocalypse ripped the doors off any peace and quiet I had found in my newly escaped from prison sort of life. I spend my nights counting men I've destroyed, and places I have lived, and apologies that I had made. In Sunnydale, where the first order of business was not hunting down the spring's annual Big Bad, but rather making nice with all the people I hurt.
Not that it was easy, this apologizing business. My language isn't built for it and neither was my brain. But I tried, mostly because it had been so easy with Willow. It must have been the dark car, the last traces of power still fading out of the witch's eyes. Car rides make confessions much easier - plus we'd traded tried-to-end-the-world stories, a competition that Willow won I spent my end-of-the-world in a coma. Still, my apologies were met with tight-lipped smiles from Xander, and from Anya, who had nothing to do with the Acension but is still incomprehensibly there and demanding that I make nice with her, too. When I tried to talk to Buffy, she shrugged and stakes a vampire that I had set my mark on.
They are not easy. But I struggle to make them.
These apologies are the only reason I can find for having ended up in that other Watcher's apartment, the Watcher I had't slept with. Though, to be truthful, I must admit that I have slept with two Watchers. Quentin Travers - in a last ditch, last cash trip to London between Los Angeles and jail - was not swayed by my seduction. Still, two Watchers - though only one I want to think about, and with him, only to mentally undress him that the time after the Council had fired him, when he wore leather pants and brooded harder than Angel.
Still, I can only think of the apologies I tried to make as the reason for why I was sitting on Rupert Giles's couch, drinking very good Scotch. Now, days or hours before the end of the world, for real this time, I lie on my back on a lumpy mattress and think about how I ended up sitting on a Watcher's couch. After all the available Watchers had long ago abandoned me, I was getting flat-out drunk on Oban's, which I could never afford for myself, and after that I think about what happened.
The apology never happened. Giles blinked, and rubbed his glasses against his shirt. He invited me in, and then puttered about his apartment nervously while I tried to explain. Finally he looked me straight in the eye and announced that he wasn't much for having regrets when he was staring death in the face, and seeing as how we really didn't know how to stop this Evil, why didn't they let bygones be bygones and get drunk? The children from Sunnydale, he said, had no appreciation for liquor.
And then there are blanks in my memory, just warmth and security and Giles' old vinyl.
But what I think about when I lie in my lumpy bed is the moment that Rupert Giles leaned over and kissed me flat on the mouth. I think about how it was almost like kissing someone's father, though not mine, because, being me, I never had one. And then his tongue is in my mouth and even though this is only memory I swear I can feel it, or maybe it's just the Scotch I drink alone at night, in hopes that it might help me sleep.
I lie on my back and stare at the ceiling and in my mind, live that afternoon over and over, even up to the point where he pulled me to him and my brain exploded and even in my memory there is a tasteful fade to black.
I lie on my back and think about his arms. Slayers don't need to be protected but sometimes they want to be. In his arms, in his bed, I was.
I lie on my back and think. I patrol and I drink coffee with Willow and beer with Spike and I smile at him and he avoids my eyes. I don't turn and pick up the phone.
It has been four days.
The telephone shatters my silence.
Faith stood outside a door she hadn't seen in three years, wearing a dress she hadn't worn in three years. Why Buffy rescued and saved that horrid pink flowered thing that the Mayor had purchased for his Ascension Faith will never know, but this morning it was in the closet of Dawn's bedroom and it was clean, smelling of laundry detergent, and so Faith put it on. It made her feel like a person she wasn't anymore, but that's not what mattered. What mattered was that she was not that person, and she is standing outside of Rupert Giles' apartment, staring at a door that she remembers. Giles's door is same, heavy and dark but almost forgiving. Faith worried that the wood will sink under her Slayer-knock, but she knocked anyway.
She heard shuffling inside, and Faith squinted in the bright sun. There was a bump and a muffled curse from inside and then someone with a British accent shouting, "I'm coming, I'm coming" as she raised her fist to pound again. Giles squinted out into the sunshine as Faith squinted back at him and when his vision cleared from the sunlight, he stammered. "Faith. This is ..."
"A surprise," she finished for him. "I know it's a surprise. But you know I was back, and I'm just trying to ..." This time, she trailed off. Giles put his glasses back on and appraised her; then he pulled the door further open and stood back, offering her entrance to his house.
"Please come in, Faith. There's no reason that we have to stand in the doorway like uncivilized Americans." His mouth quirked at one corner, a gesture that was not in his usual arsenal.
"Maybe because I am an uncivilized American, Rupert," she said. It felt strange. She stepped through the door and into the dark of his apartment.
Faith felt like she would never stop squinting, now that she was back in Sunnydale. It had been dark in Los Angeles, and a different kind of dark in prison, and now it was bright, like a TV producer's demented version of California. She wasn't used to it. The stark contrast between outside and inside was almost too much for her this time and her head spun. She grabbed out at a table by the door to keep from stumbling and Giles looked at her again. She was confused by his expression, but if the look that crossed his face was pity, it was a sort she hadn't seen before. Faith realized belatedly that it might have been concern.
To her relief, he didn't say anything about her near collapse. "How about a cup of tea?" Without waiting for an answer, Giles disappeared through the living room. Faith steadied her legs and her nerves, let her eyes adjust a few seconds more, and slid noiselessly into the living room.
Faith trailed around the living room, running her hands over polished cherry furniture and antique knick-knacks and eyeing the loaded bookshelves. A Watcher through and through, she thought to herself, remembering his look at her. She felt uneasy in this place, but she wasn't sure why. Giles stuck his head out of the kitchen door.
"Faith, sit down, please. You're making me nervous." As if she wasn't nervous herself. She didn't know how he'd known that she was restless, but she settled on the couch, smoothing the dress across her knees, squelching urges to reach out and fiddle with the books sitting on the coffee table.
Giles emerged from the kitchen, two steaming cups in his hands. "Here you are. Now, is there something I can do for you?"
Faith accepted the cup, though she had no intention of drinking it. Tea had never been her thing; if she was going to drink something that color, it would be Jack Daniel's or Jim Beam or maybe some Maker's Mark, depending on her mood. "I ... I guess you've talked to the rest ... I mean, that is ... I'm ... back then, I didn't mean ..." She trailed off. Faith was never this lost for words. She couldn't understand why an apology to someone she didn't personally hurt - he'd never been her Watcher, back before - was so difficult to get out. Perhaps it was because even when she was trying to ruin Buffy, she'd still had a tiny bit of respect for Giles. It's not every man who can be fired by the Watcher's Council.
Still, Faith was unused to being speechless.
Giles picked her slack, sipping at his hot tea carefully. "You mean, an apology? No. If there was a need for an apology, it would be because the Mayor had ascended and not been defeated, and if that was the case, we would both be dead. Which, of course, negates any need for apologies. And as far as things look now, we may still be dead soon. So I think that on the eve of another apocalypse, an apology for an earlier one is a moot point."
"Still," Faith said, feeling helpless. "They call me the Rogue Slayer, did you know that?" She could hear the whine creeping into her voice, and she didn't like it, but somehow, with Giles, there was no way to avoid it.
"I know." Giles's voice was even.
"I wish I could fix it, Giles. I wish I go could back and do it differently. There were people who wanted to love me then, and I screwed them into the ground." Faith's voice trailed into a whisper. She was falling backwards in time, to an alley in Los Angeles, in the rain, where Angel held her and Wesley bled and she wept.
Giles stood then, and took the cup of tea from her hands. "It seems, Faith," he said, "that we may need something stronger than tea this afternoon." Without waiting for a response, he left the room, two tea cups balanced in one broad hand. Faith stood up and started to wander around the room. She stopped at the fireplace and wiped smudged eyeliner from beneath her eyes, considering herself in the mirror. She opened the antique maple box sitting at the center of the mantel. Inside were a pack of Silk Cuts and a silver Zippo lighter. She smiled to herself to see them but she kept the smile from crossing her face. "Mind if I smoke?" she called to Giles.
She heard a sudden, startled thump, followed by an "ow" and a muttered "bloody hell". An audible "What?" Faith smiled against her own will. She knew that she unsettled Giles as much as he unsettled her. He had never been quite this clumsy three years ago. Her presence was the cause for the bumps and bruises he would have tomorrow.
"Smoke. Mind if I?"
"Oh. No, no, help yourself." Giles emerged moments later, cut glass tumblers filled with ice in one hand, unopened bottle of Oban's in another. He set the tumblers on the coffee table and sat on the couch, setting himself to the task of opening the Scotch. Faith lit a cigarette. It tasted strange, reminding her of her brief and only trip to London and the Watcher's Council. As Giles poured two generous shots of Scotch, Faith remained standing, leaning carefully on the mantel as she examined the cigarette that curled its smoke towards the ceiling.
"It's too much to ask that you smoke American cigarettes?" Giles looked up in surprise. "Because this British shit that they pass off as smokes? Definitely not a real cigarette. I want to feel the tar in my lungs when I smoke, Rupert."
Instead of laughing at her customary brashness, he held out a glass. "Why don't you feel this, instead?" Their fingers brushed as she took the tumbler from his hand, and she pulled back hastily from the contact. "I mean," Giles stumbled, surprised by the reaction her fingers had provoked. The heat of desire settled in his stomach, catching him unaware. "I choose to smoke British cigarettes, when I do so choose to smoke, because they are less likely to kill me as early as the American monstrosities that Phillip Morris Incorporated calls cigarettes."
"Hey," she said, grinning at him. "Don't get defensive. I was just makin' conversation. In my book, after three years of jail, a smoke's a smoke. I don't have to pay for it? All the better." Faith took a final drag and leaned over, stubbing the cigarette out in the ashtray set on the coffee table. She raised her glass. "Bottoms up."
"To new beginnings," Giles replied, and lifted his. Faith winced imperceptibly at his toast, but upended her tumbler and downed half the scotch Giles had poured. Giles hesitated, before shrugging to himself. He followed her example and did the same.
"This is good," Faith said, as she shook the ice cubes so that they clinked against the sides of the glass. She leveled her eyes at Giles, forcing him to meet them, as if she was challenging him with her approval.
"It should be," Giles replied - he'd given in to Slayers before, but never on the subject of liquor. "It's 40 dollars a bottle. None of the rest of ... those children, well, they think it's shite. Rather drink bad beer at the Bronze - except for Spike, of course." He wasn't sure why she was still standing in his living room, after he'd rejected her apology. She owed him nothing else. But as his relationship with Buffy began to unravel, he was unexpectedly glad for her company. He suspected she was lonely as well. "Then again," he said, considering his statement, "Spike's still a beer-man. He just prefers the stuff that can rightfully be called beer." He watched her pick up her drink, and then she moved. She sat on the couch next to him, smelling of cigarettes, whisky and something vaguely floral. He noticed that she looked older around the eyes than she had three years before, though even then she had seen a considerable amount of the world. Slayers move like cats, he'd thought this before, and as long as he still knew one - or two - he would continue to think this. They were all boneless sleek limbs and grace where there should be no grace, by rights. And they were like cats in their need for affection, unable to ask for it.
Faith smelled like Silk Cuts and Oban's. Faith smelled like his youth, spent in pubs, sitting next to him on a couch in California, as he leaned towards her, picking his glass up from the table.
"Another?" She held out her empty glass to him. He hadn't seen her finish the first. Well, he might as well finish this bottle, as long as it was open. He was certain that there was still someone in Britain who'll send him Oban's if he needed it. Giles knocked back the remainder of his drink and poured another double into both glasses.
"To forgiveness," Faith said, and she met his eyes with this toast. They clinked glasses and sipped, not gulped, in companionable silence. The bottle was half empty, their glasses completely empty. Faith reached out for the bottle at the same time as Giles, and his hand grasped it over hers. She thought to herself, who's writing this crap, as he looked her in eye. Someone must be scripting this. Giles stared at her, and then he crossed the gap between them and kissed her.
The first kiss was brief, chaste, and hardly left her time to pull her hand from the bottle. Giles broke away first. He glanced, breathless, into Faith's eyes, and wondered aloud what had possessed him to do that. He regretted the statement as soon as it left his lips, because a look of absolute hurt crossed Faith's face. She stood up, wouldn't meet his eyes. "I suppose I should go. If I'm not going to say that I'm sorry, I shouldn't be drinking liquor that I can't afford to replace."
"Faith, wait." Giles was up in a flash, between her and the door. She hadn't gone two steps. She'd been taught that only vamps had supernatural speed - well, vamps and Slayers, but not Watchers. She was still in front of the couch, now looking younger than her age, hair in her face, unwilling to meet his eyes. "I'm sorry. That was out of line. It must have been the drinks. I ..." He had no chance to finish the sentence, because he was propelled backwards onto the couch, 130 pounds of Rogue Slayer in his lap, another mouth on his, and Faith's hands in his hair, pulling him closer.
He kissed back. Her hands on his neck, and his hands reaching for the buttons on the front of her dress. He could taste the alcohol still on her tongue and he thought to himself, if the world is going to end, it could end at this very moment. Giles kissed the lonely, lost girl for all he was worth.
He worked open the top buttons on the front of the dress, and slid it back over her shoulders. Faith had kicked off her sandals, dropping them onto the floor when she kissed him, and she straddled his lap, barelegged and barefoot. Her hands tightened in his hair as he pulled away from her mouth to run his tongue along the edge of her jaw. As he kissed the hollow of her throat and she threw her head back, one of her small, strong hands dropped from his neck to the front of his shirt, seemingly without thought, and started to undo the buttons with more grace than Giles had managed with her dress.
His mouth trailed down past her collarbone. He rested his hands just on her waist until he was sure that this was what she wanted. As he licked across the curves of her left shoulder, Faith made a tiny noise of obvious pleasure and surprise, slipped a hand inside his now open shirt - when did that happen, he wondered briefly, but then his brain shut down again - and shifted just enough against his lap to make his eyes cross with desire.
So Giles moved his hands from her hips and finished unbuttoning her dress. He was distracted halfway down by Faith's fingers finding his nipple and running her nails across it, before settling for gentle caresses with her thumb, back and forth. He was sure that she could feel his erection nestled between her thighs, but she didn't seem to mind. As his hands fumbled with the last of the buttons, she simultaneously found his mouth again and somehow managed to slide his shirt off completely. It hit a lamp across the room and the lamp crashed to the floor and he didn't care, because he had smooth, tan skin underneath his hands and she was digging her nails into his shoulder blades.
Faith reached for Giles's belt buckle and unlatched it with a deft hand; what's the point of practice if not for use in the heat of the moment, she thought. He caught her hand as she settled on the button of his pants, pulling her arms back around his neck. She obliged, sweeping through his mouth with her tongue. Giles ran his hands up her bare back and Faith arched towards him. Giles was too lost in the moment to stop her hands this time, and as Faith deftly popped open the button on his pants, he cupped her breasts in his hands. She grabbed for his waist and she moaned with pleasure and, arching her back even further, her hands tangled in Giles' hair, tumbled them both backwards off the couch.
And the heat of the situation overcame them both, and Giles took the Rogue Slayer on the plush rug in his living room, his eyes wide the entire time, her mouth secured firmly to his.
Once on the living room floor, hot and immediate, and once in Giles' bed, after they'd untangled their sweaty bodies from each other and the clothing and the rug they'd collapsed onto. After the second time, they drifted off to sleep, no words exchanged but for choked calling out of names. When Giles stirred, it was past sunset, and Faith was still soundly asleep, looking - and Giles hated to think in cliches, but that was what she had reduced him to - more like a teenager than he suspected she ever had. A brief flash of guilt passed through his brain, but he reminded himself that she was grown-up and had been on her own for years. It wasn't as if he'd gotten one of the Potentials intoxicated and taken advantage of her.
Giles sat watching Faith for long minutes, and then he crawled from the bed and searched for his bathrobe. Securing it, and with one last glance towards his bed and its occupant, he crept quietly downstairs, retrieving the Oban's from the living room and using the phone in kitchen to call for Chinese take-out. He sat quietly in the kitchen with another tumbler of Scotch until the doorbell rang, and when he carried it upstairs, Faith was stirring. As he entered the room, she sat up, pushing her hair from her face. She smirked when she saw him loaded down with bowls and white cardboard cartons.
"Oh, Rupert, you shouldn't have," she cooed, not without a liberal amount of sarcasm in her voice. "The bottle survived the maelstrom? How precipitous. Pour me some more of that."
She wrapped the sheet around herself and, feeling 20 again, Giles settled on the bed next her. Silence, again, as they each loaded bowls.
Faith couldn't stop smiling. That's what great sex will do to you, she thought. Makes you grin like a dope. I can see Angel losin' a soul for this. She looked at Giles, who was struggling to move the fried rice from his plate to his mouth with chopsticks and failing. She opened her mouth to tease him, but the sentence that came out was far from that. "I hadn't realized that I liked to eat so much until the food in prison tasted like the mattress in my Sunnydale hotel room."
Giles snickered, chopsticks halfway to his mouth, and spilled more rice down his stomach. His robe had fallen away, and he looked down at the spill of peas and rice and chicken. "Drat." He tried to scoop it up, succeeding partially and starting to drop it into his mouth when a small hand closed over his wrist.
"You may sound cultured, Rupert, but you obviously didn't learn the finer graces of consuming take-out Chinese in bed."
Giles looked wide-eyed at her. He opened his mouth once, and closed it again. Maybe he had gotten old, he thought. He had no idea what she was talking about.
She stared back at him, that smile crinkling at the corners of her eyes again. Giles was distracted by this, thinking that he had never seen Faith smile this much, or at least not smile this honestly. Then again, he's also never seen her this truly relaxed, with her guard fully let down, before. He had never fucked her into the ground before, either, though. When he finally returned to the conscious portion of his brain, he realized that she had been talking. "What?"
"I said, when you're eating take-out Chinese food in bed after wild sex, if you drop food on yourself, you're supposed to let the other person eat it off your stomach. Not pick it up yourself."
"Oh." Giles felt his penis stir as Faith began to eat the rice littering his stomach. He felt a tiny skim of teeth, nipping carefully along his muscles, just enough tongue to clean the traces of grease from his skin. She worked her way up his chest, pausing to run her mouth carefully over his nipples, while her hands suddenly busied themselves inside his robe. Giles felt sure that his eyes had rolled back into his head as she wrapped a hand around his erection and tugged, gently. Except that they couldn't have, because he could still see Faith, draped across his chest, kissing and licking and biting, despite the disappearance of any fried rice long before. Her mouth kept moving upwards. When she swiped her tongue across the hollow of his throat, her mouth matching the confident strokes of her hand, Giles tangled his hands in her hair and pulled her to him, covering her mouth with his. He shifted his hips, and Faith fell neatly onto his lap, one leg on either side.
A single movement - and neither was sure who made it - and Giles slid inside her. Faith buried her face in his shoulder and tried to stay silent. He thanked his lucky stars that he still had the endurance of a teenager on occasion, and closed his mouth over her jugular as Faith's hips began to move. He kept one hand one her face and dropped his glasses in the direction of the bedside table, caring very little whether they made it there or not.
She was pretty sure that it was on the first stroke downwards that her brain exploded.
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