Assistant Librarian
by Twinkledru J.

Assistant librarian.

It's full-time, and it pays much better than the Doublemeat, and it's calm and peaceful in a way she never thought she'd like, but still.

There's something about being a librarian here that makes Buffy smile a little when she and Dawn walk into Sunnydale High every morning. The same something, she assumes, that makes Xander and Willow tease her about it, and that made them chip in to buy her a pair of pants "because they seemed appropriate".

The pants are cute -- flared, hip-hugging things.

They're also herringbone tweed.

She's an assistant, because she never majored in anything, and she's got no degrees, and they've got a head librarian somewhere. But the woman who's in charge is rarely around (checking in every day and taking over on Wednesdays, but largely just dealing with the paperwork), so things are largely left to Buffy, which she's okay with.

The day Giles left again, he came into the Magic Box to say goodbye to Anya. While he was so occupied, Buffy, quick and quiet, opened his suitcase and grabbed the first thing she could. Which happened, when she checked later, to be the gray t-shirt he'd worn under his sweater when he walked in last May and stopped Willow from killing her. It smelled -- less like smoke and death and blood than she imagined the other items he'd worn that day did, and more intimately like Giles. So intimately, in fact, that she felt a little weird about having it, but it was old, and comfortable and comforting, and she didn't think he'd miss it.

She wore it with the pants her first day, under a white blouse, and it felt like being home.

For some reason, she was afraid to wash it when the time came to do her laundry that weekend, and she held the shirt close to her for several seconds. Finally, she breathed in the smell of it, the hint of herself mingling with the smell of books and Giles, breathed it in with a single, trembly breath, and then tossed it in, dumped in some detergent, and slammed the door shut. She turned on the machine, and felt it growl to life like some ancient creature of the Hellmouth beneath her hands, which gripped the white metal hard.

Buffy stared at the machine for a few moments, then bolted upstairs and called him in England. As soon as he picked up, she laughed and didn't explain why she'd called other than "I thought I'd check up on you."

And that was mainly how it happened -- gradually and simply, and she thought for a long time that she just missed the old days. Because here she was, and her friends would come by when things were up, and Anya would lend her books. Giles laughed when she told him about her new job, too, and she could hear the smile in his sigh when she explained about the pants.

It didn't really seem weird to her that she'd sit down every two weeks, paycheck in hand, and divide the check into the "in case" fund (in case of hospital bills, in case Dawn needed stuff for school projects, in case they just felt like having a little fun), savings, bills and groceries, and her weekly call to England. It was just something she did, like hitting the snooze button twice without fail every morning, like keeping Mr. Pointy under her pillow, like watching reruns of She-Ra on the Cartoon Network with Dawn every Saturday.

And it didn't seem weird to her that one time, when she called while she had a cold that was going around the school, she felt awkward about how her voice sounded. Neither did it seem weird that when, hopped up on cold medicine, she would zone out and ramble about things if she spoke at all, he didn't stop her, just listened.

It didn't seem weird that to her they'd talk about the most stupid, banal, ordinary stuff, like someone who'd cut him off in traffic or the stupid skin on her hot chocolate. It never struck her as anything but normal that Dawn began wanting to talk to Giles, too, and would update him on her social life after she'd chased Buffy from the room and brag to him when she got the highest grade in class.

It didn't seem weird when, for Buffy's birthday, he flew back in for the surprise party everyone threw her, and it didn't seem weird when she told him to cancel his reservations at the hotel.

Nor did it seem weird when she asked Dawn if she'd object to spending the evening at Xander's apartment.

They sat on the couch together, complaining about the news (yeah, she'd started reading the paper every day and watching the news on weekends) and talking about the school and the gang and Dawn and everything normal.

"This looks familiar," Giles said with a smile when she pulled off her black sweater, shoes, and belt and lay down, her head in his lap, in only her jeans, socks and the shirt she'd taken from his suitcase months ago. He fingered the gray fabric, worn soft after being his for years and hers for months.

She just closed her eyes and smiled. A deep breath and she found her being filled with the scent that had faded from the shirt until, though it wasn't gone completely, it was overpowered by her own, but this time even more distinctly, vibrantly Giles than she remembered.

It didn't seem weird when he began, idly, to stroke her hair with one hand, or when she took his other hand in hers and studied it intently.

After awhile, he leaned over and kissed her, and it felt like being home.


Buffy was glad that it was Anya who looked into her room in the morning to ask what they wanted for breakfast, for the demon didn't look the least bit surprised when she ended up taking orders from both Giles and Buffy. Willow and Dawn stared for awhile when she and Giles came downstairs together, but neither of the girls said anything. Although she had some suspicion that Willow and Anya were mainly staring at Giles because he'd pulled on only a pair of jeans before they came downstairs. Anya more than Willow, but still.

(That suspicion was confirmed when Anya dragged Willow upstairs, and Buffy and Giles laughed when they heard Anya ask if Willow couldn't start wearing "sexy glasses".)

Buffy didn't bother with the shirt that morning, grabbing instead some gray sweatpants and a white tank top, and leaning against him while they drank orange juice on the couch. Dawn tried valiantly to make conversation, smiling weakly at them, and finally called Xander and asked if she could hang out at his apartment "for the day...or, um, maybe the week...or, uh, what are you doing for the next year?"

At this, Buffy shouted "Hey!". Giles merely rolled his eyes, and put his bare arm around her shoulders to keep her from killing her sister.

Predictably, Xander barged right in shortly after Willow and Anya had left to open the shop for the day. She and Giles were lying in their half-clad sleepy cozy state, and Xander, of course, had to get in his quotient of staring.

They went by the shop a few hours later, where Xander and Dawn were already hanging. Xander had seemed ready to pull her aside, but Anya and Willow glared at him and he stalked off, shaking his head. Willow looked from Buffy to Giles to Anya, and finally smiled at Anya, who smiled and kissed Willow.

Dawn, though, refused to be stopped by Anya's looks, and pulled Buffy aside while Giles was going through paperwork with Anya. "Look, um, Buffy," she started, fumbling around verbally. "I, um, Will and Anya ave us all this big talk about how we shouldn't question you, but they're not stuck with you as a blood relative, so I figure I kinda get to ignore that. You know I didn't always get along with Giles, and maybe I like him now, but -- I just -- Buffy, I don't -- "

"It's okay, Dawn," Buffy said, kissing her sister's forehead. "He's not staying any longer than he'd planned to for now, and we'll see what happens after that."

Her sister nodded, not looking entirely assured. "I -- how long have you been -- " she started. "I mean, not always with the, um, sleeping over, obviously, but how long have you two -- "

"I don't know," Buffy said.

"Oh." Again, Dawn looked disappointed. "Okay. Um, well..." She shrugged, and looked down at the floor. Buffy turned away, but Dawn spoke up again. "Buffy?"


Dawn smiled weakly. "I'm...I'm not mad or anything. It's just -- "

"Yeah," Buffy said, returning the smile. "Come on. We gotta train. I was thinking you and me and Giles could go out for dinner tonight, before we patrol."

"Ooh! Can I pick the place?" Dawn asked.

"I -- sure."


Buffy took it as a good sign that everyone, including Xander, insisted on coming to see Giles off one week, two demons and thirteen vampires later. Dawn scored two hugs from Giles, though he saw through her "you forgot me" at once. A slightly more lingering hug for Buffy, and he turned, picking up his bags and heading for the gate.

"Hello?" Dawn shouted indignantly, and Giles turned around, confused. "Aren't you forgetting something?" Dawn demanded, pointing to Buffy.

"Yeah," Willow joined in. "Giles, you're not gonna leave without -- without a goodbye kiss, are you?"

"Oh," was all Giles said.

Buffy avoided everyone's eyes, but didn't protest when Giles hurried back, pulled her chin up carefully, and kissed her.

On the way into school the next morning, Dawn looked up at her. "I would've thought it'd be weird," she said. " was, a little. But I don't think it'll stay that way."

They began to practice in the library during Dawn's free period, and Buffy found herself borrowing more and more books from the Magic Box as time went by. Giles visited every few months, and they would take turns paying for calls across the ocean. She wore the tweed clothes her friends still bought her as jokes with less ironic smiles, and didn't need the shirt anymore, because it was only a matter of time before her sheets would smell like him again.

When the cute young guy who taught a computer class asked her out, she politely declined, then locked herself in the office and laughed for an hour.

When Dawn developed a small circle of friends who helped her with her own Slaying work, Buffy knew she'd come home.


(And a few months after Buffy's birthday, Willow surprised Anya with the news that she'd been advised to wear glasses for work on the computer.)


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