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 3. Dinner.
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. This chapter written almost exclusively under the influence of the Asylum Street Spankers' "Stinkin'" and Ryan Adams' "Gonna Make You Love Me", with a liberal helping of Kasey Chambers' "The Captain" and Dark Side Of The Moon.
Part 3. Takes place late evening and early morning after "Dirty Girls".
Well I don't have as many friends because
Half an hour of silence later, Faith was leaning against one wall in Giles's kitchen and watched him slice peppers and onions for stir-fry. He'd poured her a glass of Scotch - equally as good as the bottle they'd finished the night before - and offered her a chair. When she declined, he shook his head a bit and started making dinner preparations. She propelled herself from the wall and strolled towards the open bottle on the counter. Her hand hovered near the bottle's neck and she found herself watching Giles for approval. As through he could feel her gaze, Giles looked up and met her eyes. His glance flicked down to her hand and he looked back up and nodded.
Faith closed her hand around the neck of the bottle and reconsidered. She decided that she didn't really need another glass; not if Giles wasn't having one. She set her tumbler on the counter and spoke. "Can I help you with anything?"
Giles startled visibly and nearly sliced his thumb off. Faith shrugged. "What? I mean, I usually eat takeout, but I know how to wield a knife." Giles winced. Faith winced. Alright, she could add wincing to the list of things that she'd been doing since she left L.A. One, squinting. Two, shrugging. Three, wincing. Great. And the way Giles was avoiding her, she was fairly certain she wasn't going to add four, sleeping with a Watcher, to the list any time soon. Once and that was it. He just felt sorry for her.
She realized she'd zoned out. Giles had cleared his throat and was offering the paring knife to her. "If you'll finish slicing the red peppers, I'll start cooking the chicken." He didn't look at her but their fingers touched when she took it from his hand, and he didn't pull away. Well, she thought, he's not jumping. That's a start.
Faith sliced mindlessly. Giles had his back to her and was humming a song she didn't recognize. She could hear the sizzle of raw meat hitting oiled frying pan. She found herself thinking again, about what had happened between them the night before. Yep. There was number four. Thinking. Fucking must be number five. She wondered to herself why she cared that he hadn't jerked his hand away from hers, or why she'd even noticed. It's not like this was something emotional. It was about the chemistry, pure and simple.
Pure and simple. Pure and simple, Faith could feel her body start to tense with desire when Giles took three steps from the stove to her side, reaching for the peppers. She looked up at him and he smiled, not a forced smile, but still a wary one. "Are you finished, or would you like to stir-fry your fingers as well, Faith?"
She ripped her eyes from his face and looked down. Another stroke and the knife would have taken off her fingertips. "I guess I'm just not being careful," she admitted. "Distracted, you know?"
Giles swept the chopped peppers from the cutting board into a bowl. "Caleb?"
"I guess. Just, it's big, you know? This thing we're fighting. And Caleb's the first sign that we might be able to touch it - really touch it," Faith stopped. And blushed. Damn, she thought. What's wrong with me today? She continued hastily. "But we can hit him, and he can turn around and throw us through a big barrel of wine." Faith sighed and turned towards Giles, leaning on the counter. "It just doesn't seem fair."
Giles didn't respond. The sounds of food in hot oil filled the silence. After a long two minutes that were counted, in noisy seconds, off by the clock above the telephone, he turned back to the Slayer in his kitchen. "I'm a Watcher. You're a Slayer. I'm supposed to tell you that of course it's not fair, but it's your job to try and make it fair. Then I'm supposed to pat you on the back and hand you a cross-bow and send you out to near certain death." He paused and stepped towards the counter. He scraped the finished stir-fry from the wok into the same bowl that had held the raw peppers, picked the bowl up and reached across the counter, securing the bottle of Scotch in his other hand. "I'd hate to admit it to Buffy, but I think that you're right. It isn't fair this time around. This is too big for you or for her or the two of you together." Giles laughed, a short sharp sound that was more sad than amused. "If you're wondering whether I'm going to send you to certain death right now, the answer is no. I'm going to feed you. Save you from any more fork scars. Death can always wait until later." He looked straight at Faith, and smiled an honest smile that reached his eyes, the first she'd seen from him.
Faith smiled back. She didn't know what she was doing back in Rupert's apartment, but she did know that she had just heard his honest opinion of the situation. She wondered briefly if B had heard it yet. Somehow she doubted that Buffy had; Buffy didn't seem to be doing much listening lately. She looked at Giles, burdened with food and liquor, and waiting so patiently for her to move. "Can I carry something?"
Giles motioned towards the plates on the counter. "Plates? And the silverware is in the drawer in front of you. I thought we'd eat in the living room." He left the room while Faith selected utensils and searched fruitlessly for some napkins; she settled for two seemingly clean dishtowels. Giles raised an eyebrow when he saw them in her hands.
"I couldn't find any napkins." Faith shrugged and smiled, despite herself. She didn't understand her body's compulsion to smile when she was in his presence. She wasn't prone to smiling - at least she didn't think she was, unless it was a wicked, troublemaking sort of smile. Then again, she thought, I could maybe classify how I feel right now as content, and I don't think I've ever been there before, either. Smiling must be part of that safe secure and happy deal. Weird.
He'd settled on the couch and poured Scotch while she was still in the kitchen. Rising, he asked, "Would you serve up some dinner? I thought I'd put some music on." Faith set herself to the task of ladling vegetables and meat, dripping with garlic and ginger, onto the plates she'd carried in without trailing brown drops across Rupert's coffee table. The task was complicated by the fact that she couldn't take her eyes from him, as he crossed the living room and squatted in front of a genuine record player and a cupboard full of vinyl. He muttered to himself as he flipped, quickly, through his collection. His attendance to the proper music for the mood, as though she wasn't there, amused Faith. Finally Giles pulled a sleeve from the shelves and extracted the record from it, blowing dust carefully off the surface.
It must have been dustier than he first thought, because Giles felt the particles rise up and cover his face. He sneezed, rapidly, three times in a row, carefully gripping the record so it didn't fall. He started to apologize for the dust, but then he heard an amused snort from behind him and that brought him back to the reality. Giles turned. Faith was lounging on the couch, forkful of peppers and chicken halfway to her mouth, snickering. Giles opened his mouth to lecture her on the niceties of society, and at that moment a large piece of green pepper, heavy with soy sauce, dropped from her fork straight into ... her cleavage. Giles stopped. He shut his mouth. He opened it again. He looked at Faith, who was glaring at him, challenging him to say something, and he shut his mouth again. Then he laughed. He threw his head back and let his whole body shake with the humor of it all. A voice in the back of his mind told him that this was inappropriate for the situations, told him that people were dying, and he shouldn't be laughing. He couldn't stop.
He heard Faith's laughter rise behind him, mixing with his, and a few muffled curses as, he assumed she attempted to extract the pepper from the front of her shirt. Giles controlled his laughter and rose, setting the record on the stereo and the needle on the record. The swell of something orchestral rose from the speakers behind him. He turned to Faith.
"Nothing like a cleavage shot to get a laugh, Rupert," she said. She was carefully holding the pepper between her thumb and first finger. "Break the tension every time. Fancy a bite?" She extended her hand - and the pepper - towards him.
Giles smiled and waved her away. "I've my own, thank you." He settled onto the couch. Faith looked him over carefully, and saw a face trying to hide amusement and desire. She was strangely, surprisingly pleased that she saw the desire. I'm glad he wants me, she thought. I want him.
"Suit yourself," she replied. Faith tilted her head back, revealing an expanse of chest in a low cut shirt that Giles had been pointedly ignoring up until now, and dropped the pepper into her mouth. "This is good, Rupes. You can cook. Very nice show."
They ate in silence while the music poured from the stereo. As she forked the last of the chicken from her bowl, Faith gestured towards the speakers with her empty hand. "This isn't half bad, for stuffy British music. What is it?"
Giles looked surprised. He paused, fork halfway to his mouth, and stared at her. "What?" Faith snapped. "I can't have depths?" Her eyes were laughing as she challenged his expression.
He set his fork down. "Ah, no. That's not it. Not a comment on your mental facilities or curiousity at all." He paused and pulled his glasses off, reaching for a loose shirttail to polish them. "It's Brahms," he said. "Symphony Number 4. This particularly recording is the Berlin Philharmonic under Herbert Von Karajan."
"Was that so hard?" Faith tilted her head and considered the music. "I thought you were all Kinks and Sex Pistols and Deep Purple, like Spike."
Giles slipped his glasses back on. He turned to the Slayer on his couch, who was now listening to the fourth movement with her eyes closed. "I think Spike would take offense at being called a Deep Purple fan."
She snorted, neither opening her eyes nor shifting from her reclining position on the couch. "Probably." She blinked suddenly, looking over at him. "But the Kinks, the Sex Pistols?"
"Well, yes, certainly. I'm British of a particular age. Of course I like the Kinks."
"But do you own any? Because all these violins and all that food? I'm goin' to sleep here. Not that I'm complainin', mind you - can't remember the last time I got a good night's sleep. Just that I thought maybe we could have some conversation before either of us started sleeping."
Giles startled, visibly. "Conversation? Yes. All right. Let me see." He crossed the living room again and flipped through a different stack of vinyl. More mumbling. Faith found herself opening her eyes, intrigued by the sounds of his movement. She realized she wanted to watch him at every opportunity. When she focused on Rupert, he was frowning slightly, his eyes darting between two albums.
"Right," Faith said, indicating the record in his right hand. It had a mostly black cover, she could see from her position on the couch. Black was good, right?
Giles looked back at her, snorted, and then grinned. He settled the record on the turntable and dropped the needle. As the first strains of Dark Side of the Moon poured over the speakers, he poured them each another glass of Scotch. Faith had closed her eyes again, but she smiled and moved her head to the music.
Giles reached out and laid a hand tentatively on her thigh. She jolted, snapping her eyes open and clamping a tight hand on his wrist. Then she looked up and met his eyes. "Sorry, Rupes. I'm still jumpy. It's a Slayer thing. You know. Cat-like reflexes and all that, even without Ultimate Danger lurking 'round every bend." Her eyes, even when she was with Giles, said that she was sorry. About everything. That she didn't really like being a Slayer that much.
"I just wanted to offer you some more Scotch," he mumbled, breaking her gaze and holding out the tumbler.
"Thanks, Rupes. And way to go on the Floyd. Very nice touch." Faith propped herself off the sofa on one elbow and reached for the tumbler. To take it from him, she had to move her hand from his wrist. She hated to do that more than she liked to admit.
Giles leaned back again and moved his hand to her knee. As long as she wasn't shrugging him off, he wasn't going to move. There was a comfortable heat radiating from the Slayer and for some reason beyond his comprehension, it reassured him. "You like Pink Floyd, Faith?"
"Yeah." She looked down at her glass and smiled, shyly. She tossed her hair out of her face, which made Giles strangely weak in the knees, and then smiled at him, straight on. "Growing up, see, my mom had everything they recorded on vinyl. Her favorite was Dark Side. She used to take me to this record store in Harvard Square, like an endless T ride from our apartment, to look for bootleg tapes." She paused, and tilted her head downward again, as though she was embarrassed to have told Giles, of all people, that story.
"Do you miss Boston?" He squeezed her leg gently. Go on, he wanted to say. It's okay. After all his years as Buffy's rather extraneous Watcher, he wasn't in practice for what to do when your Slayer confides in you.
"Yeah. Well, no, not really. I mean, I don't miss my family or anything. Mom was already so drunk when I left that she didn't know who I was. Or who she was." Faith's face hardened, her happiness fading away. Giles squeezed again and she met his eyes, her mouth twitching into a tight, grateful smile. "But if you mean Boston, when I was little, before things got bad? Yeah. I miss life before all this shit." She waved a hand out, gesturing around his living room, as if the essence of being a Slayer was contained there, in books and bottles and blue-eyed Brits, and realized suddenly that "all this shit" included Giles. She looked down at his hand on her knee and threaded her fingers through his. "Not that this, right now, is shit."
"But it's complicated." Giles voiced her unsaid thought. "Life as a Slayer, in Boston or not, is complicated." He understood this, he realized. Life as a Watcher was complicated. Life as a Watcher who wanted a Slayer was moreso.
Faith smiled, her eyes still tight with emotion. "You said it, not me, Rupes." The stereo hissed for a moment, the needle trailing static into the silence. Then "Time" came on. Faith leaned back and closed her eyes, looking blissed out, as though they'd smoked too much pot after dinner. "I love this song," she said. She traced her thumb back and forth over Giles's thumb, moving in time to the music. "It's always been my favorite, but after the Slayer thing, it was just so much more appropriate."
"Come again?" Giles couldn't quite make the connection between killing vampires due to an ancient destiny and 1970's acid rock and roll. He pulled his glasses off and wondered how he could clean them without letting go of Faith's hand, which was doing fabulous things to his thumb.
Faith opened one eye and cocked an eyebrow at him. Giles stared back. She opened her other eye and rolled both of them in his direction. "And you run and you run to catch up with the sun," she quoted along with the record. "But it's sinking and racing around to come up behind you again. That's what it's like being a Slayer. You're always running against the sunset." Faith slipped back into her relaxation. Giles watched the mellowness seep across her face and into her body. Her thumb, still drifting, slowed considerable. Giles thought of pot again, and the sickly sweet taste of smoke, and decided that this evening could use a little.
He started to pull his hand from hers, and she tightened her grip. She was suddenly afraid that he was leaving her. "I'll be right back," he said, squeezing her hand. "I'm just going to go get something else for us to share." She let go reluctantly and he rose, moving behind the couch to rifle through the drawers of his desk. The sounds of drawers opening and closing, the feel of Giles sitting back down at the edge of the couch, penetrated Faith's musically induced brain-melt. She tucked her feet underneath Giles's thighs, and he reached down and squeezed one. She could hear Giles humming under his breath, and then the click-snap of a lighter.
Faith opened her eyes. Rupert Giles, former librarian, had rolled her a joint. He had it pinched carefully between his thumb and first finger, and he was blowing cautiously on the end. He looked down at Faith and held it out to her, exhaling a tremendous cloud of white smoke as he did so. She realized she wasn't surprised. Faith was never one to turn down pot that smelled this good. Her fingers brushed Rupert's as she took the splif from him. She felt a jolt run through her spine at the touch. She smiled at Rupert, who had his head back and his eyes closed now, and one hand wrapped loosely around her ankle.
The smoke poured into her lungs, smooth and cool and choking. Her eyes watered and she nearly coughed. Pot had never been one of her vices. Well, never one of her major vices. Faith had really tried it all, looking for that feeling of security. Coke gave her the shakes and booze cheered her up, but she'd never had much use for marijuana. It left her sleepy and exposed.
She exhaled and nudged Giles, who was still leaning back against the couch, with her toes. Without opening his eyes, he stretched out a hand and carefully plucked the joint from between her fingers. They passed it between them silently, Pink Floyd filling the smoky air, until the joint was small enough that it burned at Faith's fingers when she tried to pull a drag from it. "I think it's finished, Rupert."
Giles opened his eyes sleepily and blinked several times before removing it from her hand, stabbing it out slowly in the ashtray. The record had ended moments earlier, and Giles stood again to turn it over. While she watched him, Faith thought she might have found a use for marijuana - she felt sleepy, and content, and generally not up for more than lying on the couch with Rupert. And maybe a shag later.
Giles plucked the record off the turntable and turned to Faith, who smiled lazily at him. "Shall we continue with this," he asked. "Or is it making you sleepy, too?"
"The second side's even better than the first. Keep it." She sat, leaning towards the box with the cigarettes, which, she noticed, Rupert had moved to the coffee table. She fished two out of the pack, and lit both at once. When Giles settled back on the couch, she handed one to him and their eyes met. He looked as sleepy and happy as she felt. Faith was amazed to realize that she was actually enjoying the non-sexual company of a former Watcher. So many things in that thought contradicted her general principles on life, and she was amazed, again, to discover that she didn't care. She slid the ashtray to the edge of the table and tentatively lay back on the couch - with her head leaning against Rupert's thigh.
When he did nothing but drop his free hand to cover hers, she settled a little closer and slip her fingers through his. They smoked in silence for a moment, letting the music wash over them.
Then Giles spoke, surprising Faith enough in her lethargic state that she jumped. He grinned down at her. "What else did your mother like?"
He remembered something she said about herself. Wild. "Oh. Um. The Doors. The Sex Pistols. Peter, Paul and Mary. The Beatles. And she really had this thing about Hank Williams, Sr., too, that I've never understood." Before Giles could say anything about Hank Williams, Sr., Jr., or the Third, there was a pounding on his door.
Faith leapt from the couch in a clean movement and grabbed a short axe from the wall. Giles was slower, putting his glasses back on and readying himself. "Who is it?" he called, feeling like a teenager caught by his parents - or his demonic preacher parents. Whoever was outside pounded harder.
"Giles!" Buffy wailed outside the door. "Come on! Open up! It's me! Buffy! Come on, come on, I don't like just being out here, your apartment complex is all abandoned and scary-like! I promise it's me and not the First, I promise! You had sex with my mother on the hood of a Sunnydale Police Car! Twice! Giiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiles!"
Faith stared at Giles. Giles blushed. "You did Joyce on a police car? Rupert, you have even more balls than I thought you did."
"Well, yes," he replied. "I suppose that really is Buffy, then." He moved quickly towards the door but paused with his hand on the lock. Buffy continued to howl outside the door. Turning back to Faith, he asked, "You don't think less of me, do you?"
She raised an eyebrow, lowered her axe, and smirked. Giles smiled.
As soon as Giles had the door opened, a flushed, breathless Buffy tumbled into his living room, still talking at a hundred miles an hour. "Giles, I've figured it out, I really have! There must be something Caleb's got that he doesn't want us to have. Really, that's got to be it. Why isn't he at the Hellmouth? Shouldn't he be there? There's gotta be something that he's hiding. I figured out right in the middle of the doctor telling Rona how to take care of her arm." Buffy stopped, her chest heaving, and her eyes flashed around the room. "I came right here. I thought you might know what he was hiding. So what do you think he's got?"
Before he could answer, Buffy had finished her assessment of Giles's living room and her eyes had found Faith leaning casually on the mantel, as though she stood there everyday and listened to Buffy theorize randomly about evil Southern Baptist preachers. "Giles? What the hell is she doing here?"
Giles pulled his glasses off again. "Well, I ... I thought she might like a break from the Summers household."
"Yeah?" Buffy accused. "She would? How come I don't get one?" She sniffed the air. "And have you been smoking pot in here?"
"Well," said Giles. He flushed slightly.
Buffy turned on Faith, who was still standing motionless, with a tiny smug smile on her face. "You came over here and got my Watcher high? I bet you tried to seduce him, too!"
It was Faith's turn to blush. She didn't blush often and she hated the feeling. "You seduced him?" Buffy shrieked. "You seduced Giles?"
Giles stepped towards Buffy and reached a hand out to steady her. "Now, Buffy, you shouldn't just make accusations like that without letting Faith answer. I am as much to blame as she is."
She whirled on him. "Because you caved in when she pressured you to get high? Because she seduced you? No, I'd say that was her fault." She turned back to face Faith, her eyes flaming. "I think you should get out."
Faith was shaking with anger. Buffy had taken everything away from her three years before, and she hadn't changed. She was doing it again. Faith couldn't believe Buffy's nerve, but she couldn't form any words to combat the attack. She walked over to the coat rack by the door and pulled her jacket down. "I guess I should." Faith looked at Giles, hoping he would tell her to stay, or that he would contradict Buffy, but there was only a tiny, sad smile and a small shake of his head. Faith opened the door and stepped out, and it had nearly closed before she heard Buffy's voice again, harsh and low.
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