The Cost of Giles
Ch 2 – Xander and Tara
Xander walked up the aisle of the Summers’ sidewalk, grimacing at the work that was awaiting him. It appeared that someone had been trying to keep the lawn from getting too overgrown, and he felt badly that he hadn’t thought of it before. It was obvious that things were being let go, though, and he decided that he would mow this morning after he had seen Spike, assuming the vampire wasn’t already down for the day. It appeared that
Trying the front door handle, he found it unlocked and with a quick knock, he let himself in. Outside, the sun was shining brightly and it was already a little too hot. By the afternoon, they’d be in a scorcher. The interior of the living room was dark and cool, though, as the front room drapes were pulled tightly, even though the porch would keep any stray rays of direct sunshine from finding the undead within.
“Hello, Xander! What are you doing here so early,”
“Well… being off from work, I thought I’d see if there was anything that needed doing around here. I think I’m going to go ahead a mow the front and back.”
“That’s really sweet. I’ve been trying to keep it mown, but there’s just been so much to do. Come on in the kitchen; let me pour you a cup of coffee. You want breakfast? I can cook you up some eggs?”
“Just some toast, please. And coffee would be great. I actually stopped by to share some news from Anya,” he said, following behind her.
In the kitchen, his eyes swept the room, taking in the dirty dishes sitting in the sink. It looked like she’d been doing them when he’d entered. The tile floor was looking a bit in need of a good mopping, as well. There were still crumbs on the counter and he grabbed a paper towel to wipe them away.
“I’ll get that, Xan. Sit down,” she said as she grabbed up a wet rag and began swiping. After drying her hands she placed two slices of bread in the toaster and then set to getting him his coffee.
It wasn’t until she’d refilled her own cup and sat down across from him at the island that he was able to take note of the dark circles under her eyes and the strain lines around her mouth.
“Tara, don’t take this the wrong way, ‘cause your always beautiful,” he said lightly to cover his concern, “But you look exhausted.”
“Oh, don’t worry about me. There’s just so much to do… I don’t know how Joyce ever managed. But tell me about Anya… it’s been weeks since I’ve received anything from her.”
“I’ll tell you everything, but I’m not letting this drop,” he grinned at her. “You don’t look like you’ve been sleeping. You sure you’re okay? Maybe you’re trying to do too much. You know, if everyone else in the house isn’t pulling their share, I’d be happy to play the bad guy, for you. Especially with Dawn, she’s old enough to do chores around here.”
She seemed to deflate just a little, almost like it was against her will. She gave him a small smile of her own, but it did nothing to alleviate the signs of exhaustion on her pale face, “I-It’s just… I’ve been afraid of being demanding with her and I know I should at least be expecting her to keep her own room picked up. She’s been through so much though, lately. And right now, I’m just trying to get her through summer school.
“And there’s just so much to do, all the time. I mean, you can’t imagine how messy she is and the constant clothes that need washing…. I just wasn’t expecting things to be so… overwhelming, when
As she got up to retrieve his toast and to gather strawberry jam from the refrigerator, he gave her a small, only half joking groan, “Don’t tell me Dawn’s in trouble at school… again! Or that the Buffybot has completely blown her artificial nature to the wrong person?”
“No, it’s not Dawn this time,” she said with a tight and half-hearted smile, sliding the plate over the counter in front of him and retaking her seat. “I’m afraid I need to talk to you about
She cast a sideways glance at the basement door and added, mysteriously low-voiced, “But not here and now. I’ll take you to lunch and we’ll talk then.”
Before he could push her on the ‘hush-hush’ vibe he was getting from her, she got up and refilled her not-even-half-empty cup. With her back turned, she asked lightly, “So what’s happening with Anya, these days?”
Ordinarily, she would never use a public terminal, but
She’d also come to suspect that
It was obvious that
Will was working hard to give her the benefit of the doubt. It wasn’t easy when
She closed her eyes with a sigh and sipped at the lukewarm beverage. The Watchers Council had an extensive list of contacts and with the digital age here, they had a lot of linkages to other’s databases to sift through. It was a strain, even on her, to keep up the cloaking-magic she was using to keep anyone from noticing her presence in their systems. But still, there was no sign of an Urn of Osiris and no indications of any other items that may draw Buffy from an unknown realm back to Earth.
She was keeping an eye out for anything on Glory, as well. With all of their research into fighting the Hellgod, they’d never actually come across the name of her dimension. Without that specific detail, a lot of summoning magic was rendered useless.
Her fingertips brushed against the charm dangling from the thin chain around her neck. She wore it nearly all of the time, so much so, it was barely registered by her anymore. Now though, the blunt edges of the star caught her attention and she fingered the symbol for several moments, thinking.
Maybe what she should have been doing this whole time, was seeking a little divine intervention? She hadn’t been a practicing Jew since she’d turned eighteen… magic consumed her focus, but now she shrugged to herself. Maybe she could get a little help from God….
“My exact words.”
“W-well… I mean, this is good. It’s good that Anya is finding love and of course, it’s nice for Oz, too.”
“Yeah… it’s just not so nice that they’re finding love together. I mean, not that I have any problems with it… but….”
“… Willow, I know,”
“I don’t blame you, really. But, she did choose you over him. I’m more worried about how she’ll react to Anya. It seems like they can’t help but snipe at one another, lately.”
“I think that was mostly her worry over what Anya would do when you knew you needed to break up with her. And, of course, once Anya realized that
“I think Giles’ brandy had a lot to do with that,” Xander smiled. “Are you going to be okay, though, around Oz, I mean. I know he sort of ‘wolfed-out’.”
“I think we’ll be fine. It was just… he came here to make up with her and she wasn’t up front with him about what was happening in her life. The way he sort of just stumbled across the fact that we were in a relationship now… I’m sure it blindsided him.”
“Yeah. Listen, I want to see Spike before he goes down for the day, is he upstairs?”
“Good for you.”
“Well, it was sort of Joyce’s rules,” she smiled shyly. “It feels like I’d be disrespecting her if I allowed cigarettes up here now.”
“He hasn’t given you any trouble about it, has he?”
“Oh, not at all,” she quickly exclaimed. “If anything, he sort of exiled himself before I could even mention it. I think he respects Joyce’s memory too much to smoke up here, too, even without my making it a hard rule.”
“Well…,” Xander looked momentarily unsure, “Uh… you think you could keep any visitors away from the basement… I mean if
“Good. Uh, I wanted to, uh… some alone time with the boyfriend,” Xander turned a little pink and smiled nervously.
End Ch 2