Disclaimer: Not mine.
Summary: Post-Restless. Giles has Buffy, Willow, and Xander start dream journals.
Notes: Written for soft_princess's G/X songficathon challenge.
Thank you to fannishnej for the original plot bunny. Thank you to Sofy and Mir for their input, and for kyrieane for the beta work. :)
Book of Dreams
When Giles asked the others to start keeping dream journals, he never expected them to actually listen to him. After facing down Adam and having to deal with the results through their shared haunting of the First Slayer, and realizing that all of them could at any time now have some kind of prophetic dream, he decided the idea of them all writing down their nighttime subconscious thoughts had merit. But, knowing the others the way he did, he didn’t expect them to embrace the idea.
He’d been wrong.
Every week, like clockwork, Buffy, Willow, and Xander brought him what they’d written in the past seven days. He spent his Monday nights that summer perusing the innermost workings of the group’s minds. At times the accounts were amusing, at others, horrifying. But mostly, he felt closer to them as their hidden fears, desires, and inner conflicts spelled themselves out to him with symbolic imagery. After years of working so closely with the three of them, he’d thought he knew them well.
But now, he knew them in an intimate way. It was like peering into their souls, reading the sleepy scrawls of the three of them.
Buffy’s journal was pink with yellow fish all over the cover. Her writing was full of soft roundness and hard edges, just like the Slayer herself. Some of her dreams were prophetic, and Giles never disregarded anything, often making notes for himself on what some things might mean.
Willow’s journal was purple and green plaid. Little holographic stickers made their way onto the cover over the weeks. It read more like a diary, with every detail punctuated with notes on what she’d done or seen the day before, and how she thought certain images had made it into her dreams. Her words were almost magical, and Giles could almost see the tinge of dark beneath the lighthearted, girlish loops of her handwriting.
Xander’s journal was quite unlike the other two. It was just a regular spiral bound notebook, blue and unremarkable. Nothing was written on the cover, nothing to identify it for the very personal thing it really was.
The notebook was filled with his dreams of course, but also punctuated with questions. There was so much pain in his words, and insecurities, and often fraught with confusion and uncertainty. Xander wrote of feelings he never voiced out loud, that Giles had always suspected but never been sure of. Giles had never had proof his suspicions were correct until he saw the truth written out so plainly in Xander’s messy scrawl.
An example was Xander’s dreams of his friend Jesse, something he’d never talked about after the fact and Giles had assumed he’d gotten over with the passage of time.
I have to believe that vamps really aren’t the person they were. If I don’t separate good and evil, black and white, I’ll never be able to live with myself, Xander wrote after one such dream. Why can’t I forget him? It seems like Willow has. Sometimes, I hate her for it, even though she’s my best friend. Is that wrong?
There were also dreams that Giles suspected were true memories of Xander’s childhood. Those were the worst to read.
I’m in my room, and my father is yelling downstairs. I hear something break. Mom is crying. I’m really scared. I try to pull my dresser over to block the door, but I’m weak and puny and worthless. The dresser won’t budge. I hear him stomping up the stairs, but I wake up just when the door is thrown open.
I can’t sleep now. Why are dreams about my family so much worse than the ones about demons? I’ve checked the lock on the basement door four times now. That’s stupid, isn’t it? I’m an adult now, I shouldn’t be so scared of a fucking nightmare.
Giles always felt helpless when he read Xander’s journal, and there was a constant tightness in his chest after he’d finish that would only loosen after he’d had about two good sized low balls of quality scotch.
About two weeks after the journal project began, Giles found a bigger place to live and asked Xander to help him move.
“So tell me again why you’re moving?” Xander said.
“Too many books, not enough space,” Giles said wryly. He had other, more private reasons for moving house, but he didn’t want to tell Xander that. “It was different when I had the library,” he continued. “I could keep all the texts I needed to there. Now ...” He glanced around at all the boxes meaningfully.
“Yeah.” Xander winced as he hefted yet another crate of books.
After several trips in a borrowed truck, the two of them had successfully gotten all of Giles’s things moved into the new place. It was a three bedroom house he’d leased, and Giles planned on turning one of the bedrooms into a combination study/library.
Xander and Giles sat down side by side on the living room sofa, completely exhausted.
“I wish I had something to offer you,” Giles said, “but I can barely navigate to the kitchen with everything in the way.”
“We could order pizza.” Xander’s mumble was vague and sleepy.
“The telephone service hasn’t been changed over to this address yet,” Giles answered regretfully. “I’m sorry.”
Xander sighed and settled back against the soft cushions of the sofa. He closed his eyes, and Giles smiled at him fondly.
“You look very tired,” he said softly. “It’s rather late. Why don’t you stay here tonight? I don’t think either of us should drive in our present condition.” He didn’t add that he wanted Xander to stay, that he didn’t want him back at his parents’ house, where nightmares lurked even in waking hours.
Giles waited for a response, but Xander’s breathing was already slow and deep with sleep.
As Giles gently moved Xander into a more comfortable position on the sofa, covering him with a light blanket, he hoped the dreams that came would be pleasant for once.
The long, summer days moved on, with Xander spending more and more time at the new house. Giles even had cable installed, so Xander could watch the television when he wanted. When Giles went to the grocer’s, he bought sugary dry cereals and Xander’s favorite snack foods. He never forgot the chocolate. Giles made up the extra bedroom with colors he thought Xander would like, managing to keep it impersonal so he could still call it “the guest room”, even though mentally it was always, from the very start, “Xander’s room”.
He didn’t formally ask Xander to move in. He couldn’t. He knew the younger man well enough to understand the offer would be received with the suspicion of pity, and there would be questions concerning Xander’s journal Giles wasn’t prepared to answer yet. He knew it couldn’t be put off forever, though.
He also acknowledged, if only to himself, that he had fallen in love with Xander, and that the fondness and kindnesses freely given were more selfish than he’d realized.
Giles was lonely. He’d always felt the separateness of his life, but being around Xander lately brought it home like nothing else. He had no confidants, no true friends with whom he could share his personal feelings. Until Xander, he hadn’t hoped he’d find someone who could fill the empty places in his life. Until Xander, he hadn’t even wanted to chance it.
When Xander handed him his journal the next Sunday, he kind of shuffled his feet and looked like he wanted to ask something.
Giles waited patiently, knowing Xander would find the words soon and say what was on his mind. He was right.
“So, do you um, keep one of these, too?” Xander asked.
Giles smiled and set the notebook aside. “Yes.”
“Because, I was thinking, you know it’s a little personal, the stuff I write.”
Giles nodded. “I know. But if you’re concerned about it, I can assure you everything I read is kept in the utmost confidence.” He gave Xander his most gentle, reassuring smile.
“I know that. I was just thinking, it’s kinda not fair. I mean, you get to read all about my ... stuff. And ...” He trailed off, looking unsure.
“And you’d like to have a look at mine?” Giles supplied, even as his heart pounded and he could feel the heat rising in his face.
Xander swallowed audibly. “Yeah. I mean, if that’s okay with you.”
Giles nodded and walked out of the room to retrieve his own journal from the master bedroom. He heard Xander’s tentative footsteps behind him as the man followed.
“Here,” Giles said, handing over the thin, leather bound book. “It’s not just a dream journal, though. It’s more of a personal account of my life recently.” He took a deep breath and forced himself to meet Xander’s widened eyes.
“I didn’t, I mean I don’t, if it’s ...” Xander stammered.
Giles knew he was taking a huge risk, entrusting his feelings to the man he loved. His main fear was not rejection, but disgust. He expected Xander’s rejection. He wouldn’t allow himself to hope for anything more.
“You’ve allowed me to see things about yourself you hide from everyone else,” Giles said softly. “And you’re correct, it isn’t fair of me to know all your secrets when you know none of my own.” He clenched his fists to keep them from shaking.
Xander ran his hand over the cover of the journal, not meeting Giles’s eyes. “Not all my secrets,” he said quietly. He looked up with a small smile. “Thank you for this. Do you mind if I ...?” He gestured out of the room, and Giles understood he wanted to read in privacy.
“No, of course not,” Giles said. But the thought of being in the same house with Xander when the man came to the most personal parts, specifically the passages about his feelings for Xander, made him feel uncharacteristically cowardly. “I have to go out for a while.” It wasn’t exactly an untruth. He felt as if he didn’t leave he’d change his mind and take back the journal at any moment. He tried to calculate how long it would take for Xander to finish reading. “I’ll be back in a few hours.”
Xander nodded. “Thank you,” he repeated. “I’ll just take this with me to the other room, okay?”
“I’ll see you in a bit.” Giles smiled, but inside he wondered if Xander would still be there upon his return.
Giles drove for about half an hour, his final destination uncertain. It was only when he found himself surrounded by smoke and voices that he realized he’d parked and walked into a pub.
He sat down at the very end of the bar and ordered an imported beer. He was so preoccupied, he couldn’t even taste it. His next order was bourbon, and by the time he’d finished that one and the one that came after, he’d decided enough time had passed and by now, Xander was on his way back to his parents’ basement. That thought was followed by another order to the bartender.
“Woman, huh?” the bartender said as he replaced Giles’s empty glass with a freshly filled one.
Giles snorted. “Man,” he corrected. “Could you just leave the bottle, sir?”
“It’s Mike,” the bartender said. “And sure, if you’d just pass your keys over here to me.”
Giles fished the keys out of his trouser pocket and handed them over wordlessly.
The crowd had thinned, he noticed, and Mike leaned on the counter and smiled. “Wanna talk about it?” He slid the bottle over to Giles.
“Not particularly, no,” Giles said, topping off his glass. “I’m afraid the story would have me sounding like a complete prat. And a dirty old man, to boot.”
Mike nodded. “Ah. Younger guy?”
“Much,” Giles said wryly. “I’m afraid I’ve handled the situation quite poorly. In fact, I’m here right now because I’m too much of a coward to face him.”
“What’d you do, hand him a love letter and bolt?” Mike said sympathetically.
It was too close to the truth for comfort. “Something like that,” Giles muttered. “I shouldn’t have done it. Shouldn’t have let on that I’m ...”
“In love with him?”
Giles took a long swallow of his drink and winced. “Exactly.”
Mike leaned back and gave him a thoughtful look. “I hear a lot of stories, seen a lot of people come in and try to drink their woes away. But you know what the worst cases are?”
Giles shook his head.
“The ones who cry in their drinks about what they shoulda done. ‘I shoulda stopped her from leaving.’ ‘ I shoulda had the balls to say I love you.’ The worst thing to do, I think, is not take a chance, you know?”
Giles nodded slowly and waited for Mike to go on.
“So maybe you don’t think you handled it just right, but at least you took your chance. You’re not gonna be living the rest of your life with those ‘I shouldas’ and ‘what ifs’. That’s brave, man.”
Feeling a little better, Giles took another swallow of his bourbon and leaned on the bar. “I still feel like a coward for leaving like that. If I had a little more courage, I would have stayed to see his reaction. I could have ...” He cut himself off when he saw Mike shaking his head.
“Maybe it’s the best thing, you know? I mean, if he got all embarrassed or pissed off or whatever, at least you don’t have to see it. Why put yourself through that? Unless you’re a total masochist.”
Giles took a deep breath. “You have a point. I don’t think I could handle that right now.”
The room was spinning, and Giles had to clench the lip of the bar with both hands to steady himself. “Where’s the loo?”
Mike smirked at him and pointed.
When Giles returned, unsteady on his feet, the bottle was gone from the bar.
“I called you a cab,” the bartender said. “Go on home and sleep it off.”
When the cab came a few minutes later, Mike handed Giles his keys, along with a slip of paper. “My cell number,” he explained. “In case it doesn’t work out with what’s-his-name.” At Giles’s surprised look, Mike laughed. “Hey, I like older guys. And the accent is pretty damned sexy,” he added with a wink.
Giles sobered considerably as the taxi neared his house. The prospect of going home to more empty loneliness wasn’t a happy one, but he tried to keep in mind the things Mike had said about taking the chance.
He’d taken his chance with Xander, and now, whether the outcome was good or bad, he’d never have to wonder what if?
The porch light was on. Had he done that before he’d left, or had he been too busy fleeing the scene? The door was unlocked he found, and he went straight to the kitchen. He didn’t think he’d be able to sleep, and went about making himself a strong cup of tea.
“Hey.” Xander’s quiet voice came from behind him, almost startling Giles into dropping his teapot.
Giles cleared his throat. “Hello,” he said, just as softly. “I didn’t think you’d be here.”
“Thought I’d run off, huh?” Xander said with a smile.
Giles turned away, confusion warring with desperate hope. “I did think that, yes.” He tried to make himself look busy by preparing his tea.
“You didn’t read my journal yet,” Xander said hesitantly.
Giles turned around. “Did you ... did you finish mine?”
“I read every word,” Xander said solemnly. “That’s why I didn’t leave.”
“I don’t understand,” Giles said, shaking his head and refusing to allow himself to believe.
“I was planning to, once you read what I’d written this week,” Xander said simply. “I was gonna take off, for the same reason you left tonight.”
Giles picked up his tea and walked into the living room. He sat and considered the look on Xander’s face. “Could you bring it to me now?”
Xander bit his lip. He nodded, then left, only to return moments later with his notebook. “Here.”
Drawing a shaky breath, Giles took the journal and settled back on the sofa to read.
The first entry of the week was like all the rest. But then the words, the tone, changed dramatically.
Giles, I heard this song today and it made me think about you. It was kinda like me, and kinda like you, and I realized something. I’m not really ready to say it yet, or even write it down, but just know I was thinking about you a lot.
I didn’t have any bad dreams. I really can’t remember what I have dreamed, only that you were there and I woke up feeling really, really happy. I’m glad you’re letting me stay in your guest room. I know why you’re doing it, but I don’t know whether to be angry about it or grateful. I don’t like people knowing my problems. My “demons”. But if there’s anybody I’d trust with it, it’s you. I guess that’s why I let you read this stuff to begin with. So I’m not angry. Just kinda nervous about it. It’s a big deal, letting you know my secrets.
Giles looked up at Xander, who’d sat down beside him and was watching him intently.
“Keep going,” Xander said. His voice was shaky.
I went out and bought that song I’d heard. The whole CD’s pretty good, but I keep playing that one song over and over. It says, “The bad thing’s gone away ... the good thing’s here to stay,” and it makes me wish for things I probably have no right to wish for.
The truth is, I wish you’d ask me to move in with you. Not just so I can get away from where I’m at now, though. It’s because of you. I like the way you make me feel. I like being around you. I like everything about you.
Giles took a deep breath and glanced at Xander again. The man was biting his lip again, looking nervous and, underneath that, excited. Giles continued to the next entry.
Yesterday, I wrote that I like the way you make me feel. I didn’t tell you what that was. I guess I should. I know at the end of this week I’m gonna give you this book, and you’re gonna read this, and I don’t know what you’re gonna think of me.
You make me feel safe. You make me feel happy, happier than I can ever remember. You make me feel special, too, and I’ve never really felt that way before in my life, at least not like this.
I wonder what it’d be like to kiss you. And then I think that’s stupid, because for one, you’re probably not into guys (I didn’t even know I was into guys until I started feeling like this about you). And for another thing, even if you were, you wouldn’t go for me. I know I’m not so smart, and I’m kinda worthless, and plus there’s the whole huge age difference. And you’d probably think I was looking for some kind of father figure, and that the only reason I’m in love with you is because you make me feel wanted.
Giles’s breathing became quick and shallow. He was afraid to look up at Xander, that what he’d been reading was a lie. He turned the page and read the last entry.
I’m gonna give this to you today. I’m scared to death about it. Because you’re going to read these words and know, without a doubt, that I’m in love with you. That I want something with you. That I’d move in with you in a heartbeat just to be near you all the time. I can’t stand this, my heart feels like it’s going to beat out of my chest all the time, and I’m constantly blushing around you because my hormones are going haywire and I want you.
So the plan is to give this to you and go. Here it is, every last secret. I’m not gonna call you or come over, in case you don’t want anything to do with me anymore. Just ... if you feel the same way, let me know? Not that I think you do, but I have to try. I hope you understand that. This really has turned into my Book of Dreams.
I’ll be at home. You know the number. I’ll understand if you don’t call.
Giles closed the notebook slowly and laid it on the coffee table. “I need to hear you say it, Xander,” he said. “I have to know this is real and not ...”
“It’s real,” Xander said quickly. “I love you. I want you.”
“Oh, dear lord,” Giles said under his breath, and in the next instant his arms were wrapped around the man he loved, and his mouth was finding Xander’s.
Xander’s response was instantaneous. His mouth opened under Giles’s, and he groaned when Giles quickly took the opportunity to deepen the kiss. Xander was hot and eager, running his hands over Giles’s shoulders and down his back. “Yes,” he said, talking into Giles’s mouth. “God, yes, please ...”
Giles chuckled warmly, then moved his mouth down along Xander’s jaw and down to his neck. The skin was so smooth and warm, smelling of excitement and anticipation. “I love you,” he murmured against Xander’s shoulder.
Xander gasped and clung to him. “Again, Giles. Say it again.”
Giles smiled and sat back so he could see Xander’s eyes. “I love you, Xander,” he said. He was rewarded with a brilliant smile.
“Thank god,” Xander said, and proceeded to show Giles how much he really meant that.
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