Saturday (Escape Velocity Remix)
by Branwyn

Remix of Library by nwhepcat

Saturday. Xander comes by the library, too foggy to remember that he doesn't belong here today. He's beginning to associate the place with comfort, which considering the number of times the hellmouth has opened up inside it--well, ok, that's happened once, but just considering that the hellmouth is right underneath--is pretty ironic. But no less than par for his course.

Today is no worse than other days, his wandering through town no more aimless than usual, but he found himself thinking about the library and was surprised by the intensity of his desire to smell the must of old books. He tells himself that what he really wants is to sit down in an air conditioned room for awhile, but that's only part of it. He's used to roaming Sunnydale in all extremes of heat and cold-- though, granted, cold usually meant a sweater or a windbreaker or some other article of clothing associated with late spring or early autumn in places that have actual weather--but it's hotter than usual today, and it reminds him of when his mother used to lock him out of the house during the summer while she watched her soap operas, the heat and the boredom and the feeling of not being wanted.

Nowadays his mom begs him to stay home, sit and watch TV with her, and sometimes he does. But today Dad was home too, and there had been glass breaking and swearing and a spectacular mistake on Xander's part involving his growing sense of manliness and the confidence that came with facing down vampires and mucous demons, and the back of his Dad's left hand. So Xander had decided to walk, and before he knew it he was on the steps of Sunnydale High, looking over a deserted courtyard and wondering if Giles was inside.

He pushes the doors open and stands there for a second, smelling old books and mildew and brewing tea. Unmistakable indicator of Giles' presence. He relaxes slowly, going over to the table where books are spread open, one on top of another, to distract himself from the realization that he had been afraid of not finding Giles here.

He pulls up a chair and starts to rest his face in his hand. Is surprised when it hurts. Remembers his father and the big mistake and realizes belatedly that, unlike the countless other times when he's come here to escape his house, he is bearing a visible sign of the morning's entertainment.

He pushes back from the table abruptly and stands, preparing to run for it. But there is Giles, standing in the door of his office, holding a mug and looking at him in confusion.

"Xander, what are you--good lord. Are you all right?"

Xander swallows. "Yeah. Yeah, I'm fine. Just came by to see if you needed help. With research or something."

"What happened to you? Was it--did you run into a vampire, demon?" He is clearly poised to turn and call Buffy.

Xander speaks quickly, in a tone he's never used before with anyone but his mother. "Ran into a wall."

"A Wol demon?"

"No, Giles, a w-a-l-l demon. Nothing Buffy needs to Slay, unless she's taking up a career in heavy construction."

"You ran into a--oh." A sudden light in Giles' eyes, and Xander is suddenly wondering if he could blame a sudden dash out the door and down the hall on diarrhea. "I see." And it is horribly, humiliatingly clear that he does.

Xander begins to brace himself for whatever is about to come--a lecture, a clumsy suggestion of police or child welfare or counselors-- but Giles says, "Well it's lucky you've turned up. I could use some help. You can start with the volume in front of you."

Xander sits, slowly, heavily.

Giles turns for his office, and comes back a moment later with two more books. Xander looks down at the wall of endless text in front of him and Giles puts the books down on the table on the other side of him.

"You're for references to the rising of the demon prince Alexandrine in Prague near 1700. This is what the word looks like in German." He leans over Xander's shoulder and puts his finger on a word in the middle of the page. "Look for it and alert me when you find it again."

This assignment is no worse than others Giles has given him, but the hand that comes to rest on his shoulder, close to the back of his neck, is nearer, warmer, both heavier and more gentle than it has ever been before. The air conditioner is running strong, and the smell of the tea Giles puts in front of him is....well, not good, but right.


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