by havocthecat
Copyright 1997

Yeah, for lack of a better title, I went cliche. So, anyway, I thought I was going to be able to sleep, but no... I mean, where's the fun of the hurt without the comfort?

Jenny's really going to have to be talked to about the amount of emotional trauma she's inflicted on me tonight. I had visions of demons (as opposed to sugarplums, which taste much better) dancing through my head for hours tonight.

"Hi," I said awkwardly. Rupert was staring at me in amazement. "Can I, uh..." I looked around, almost wishing I was anywhere but here.

"Oh!" He practically jumped back, opening the door wide open. "Yes, of course, Je..uh, Ms., er..." He paused, not sure what to say, I'd guess. "Come in." He sounded so uncertain and excited that it broke my heart. Again.

"You can still call me Jenny," I said, stepping in and looking around --anything to avoid looking in his eyes. Ok, no sudden decor changes. This was a good sign.

"Well, uh, Jenny," he said, pausing uncertainly. "Would you care for some tea?" He smiled a little, that awkward British smile that meant "I'm doing my best." He gestured toward the kitchen. "I believe I have some coffee if you'd prefer," he said. "Chocolate hazelnut, I believe?" Ooh, my favorite. Now, considering that I know he didn't have that the last time I was here, I wonder how long he'd kept it in stock, hoping I'd show up like a lost kitten on his doorstep.

"Tea's fine, Rupert." I startled myself there. I hadn't called him Rupert since--well, not since the morning after the whole demon incident. Actually, I hadn't spoken to him since then, and had barely seen him. I'd been avoidant, and managed to skip all the faculty meetings--much to Snyder's chagrin he couldn't fire me, because who else was he going to find to teach computer science on a Hellmouth? "It was, um, sweet of you to think about the coffee, though." I smiled then, and I think it almost reached my eyes. It seemed to encourage him a little, because he went and set some water on the stove to boil.

A few minutes later I was ensconced--and how did I pick up Gilesisms without even realizing it? Ensconced on his sofa, a steaming cup of tea in my hands, a wool blanket in my lap, and an extremely solicitous Watcher being very careful not to sit too close.

"Well," he said, taking off his glasses and polishing them. " are you?"

"Coping," I said, a wry grin on my face. "You seem to be doing all right yourself. Finally."

"I didn't realize you knew how I was doing?" Giles put his glasses back on and gave me that look--that analytical Watcher look that meant he was puzzled about something and wanted to find out the answer.

"I've been getting regular status reports from Willow," said, a smile on my face that I was sure reached my eyes. It must have, because Giles chuckled.

"Ah," he said, nodding in understanding. "So that's why she's been spending extra time in the library," said Giles. "I was sure she didn't find updating the card catalogue that fascinating."

"I've got spies everywhere," I said, finding my sense of humor again.

"Jenny, I..." He was going to try to explain it all to me.

"Don't say it, Rupert," I interrupted. "Not just yet. I just...I was used, Rupert. I threw myself at you one afternoon, and then that night all I could do was sit back helplessly and watch my body make a mockery of everything you are. I tried to *kill* you."

"It wasn't you, Jenny. I know that." He was looking down now, using all the avoidance tricks I learned back in grade school when I'd been written up and didn't want to tell Mom about it. This one was a classic.

"I know, Rupert. There was nothing I could do--but it hurt even more that way. I'm a fighter. I see a problem, I tackle it. It's how I deal with things--you know, fun stuff like impending apocalypse." Somehow I'd managed to inch closer to him without either of us being really conscious of it, and I leaned against Rupert as he put his arms around me. He was very careful, very tender, and he held me against him.

"Yes, it's one of your better qualities," he said, a smile in his voice.

We didn't say much after that. I just sat there and sipped my tea while Rupert held me and occasionally ran his hand through my hair.

I don't remember when I fell asleep, I just remember waking up in his arms. The sun was shining in through the windows, and I didn't remember having even a flash of the dreams--if I'd had one, I'd have remembered it.

I slipped out of his arms, and covered him with the blanket. I had grading due in tomorrow, so I needed to get back and start going over the Visual Basic projects.

I left a note tacked to his door, and walked out into the sunlight with a muttered, "Love you..." ringing in my ears. I looked up. Not a cloud in sight. It was gonna be a damn good day.

Later that morning:

Giles had woken up almost in a panic until he'd found the note Jenny had left him.

"Rupert," it said. "Thanks for the tea and the company. If you feel like letting me return the favor, I think my apartment and I could use a friend tonight. I could probably see my way clear to finding some scones at the local bakery... --Jenny"

Maybe Buffy needed a break from training tonight...

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