Joyce smiled at Giles, feeling the customary mix of embarrassment and yearning. She was trying hard to work on replacing both with a friendly, calm, adult...he smiled back at her and she bit her lip. Another failure.
“Won’t you come in?” she said, waving him though to the front room.
“Thank you. I’ll try not to keep you for long.” He perched on the couch, looking absurdly uncomfortable, his back rigid and straight. Joyce sighed inwardly and relaxed against the cushions beside him, trying to communicate reassurance through body language. She’d done a course on that once and thought it a waste of time but it must have worked, a little, because he moved further back and rested his arm along the back of the couch. That meant his hand was inches away from her shoulder but she did her best not to glance at it.
“I’ve come because...because I understand that Buffy knows about you and ...about us.”
They paused, both hearing Buffy’s scandalised, incredulous voice echoing in their ears.
“She didn’t take it very well, did she?” Joyce commented with a small laugh.
Giles winced. “That would be an understatement. When we have any disagreement, she brings it up as a way of manipulating me. She comments on it frequently in front of the others, never quite telling them, but making for a distinctly awkward atmosphere at times. I think she resents what happened so much that she’s determined to make me suffer.”
Joyce felt all nervousness leave her. “She does, does she?”
He edged closer. “It’s only been a few days; perhaps she’ll stop. Joyce...I do sympathise with her. She must feel some loyalty towards her father, the natural reluctance to imagine that we have feelings, needs...”
Joyce stood up, all mother. “She feels nothing of the sort,” she said crisply. “She’s making your life a misery because you’re letting her and because it’s one way she can control you – us.” Her face softened slightly. “She has so little control over everything else, you see.”
“Being the Slayer?”
“That, and Angel being off limits.” Joyce watched the flush deepen on his cheeks and smiled to herself. He hadn’t been so shy when they were making love...”Mr. Giles...no, that sounds silly. Rupert. I can stop her. I can tell her how unfair she’s being to blame us for what happened under a spell; she should know how that is –”
“She certainly should,” Giles agreed. “Why, when she got turned into a rat –”
“She got – no, don’t tell me.” Joyce took a deep breath. “I can tell her that...or I can tell her something else.”
She sat down beside him, much closer and ran one finger down his thigh. “I can tell her that she’s reminded me of how much fun we had. How even after the spell had ended I couldn’t stop thinking about you, what we did, how you made me feel.” She looked up and met his eyes. “I can tell her that she can just get used to it, because it’s going to happen again...and again.” Giles sat beside her, silent, his face blank. Joyce felt the warmth her own words had kindled die away. “Or I could bribe Willow to do a forgetting spell on all of us,” she finished, her voice dull and resigned.
Giles moved faster than she’d known he could, pulling her towards him and kissing her hard enough to hurt, but she wasn’t complaining. “You ever, ever try and take away my memory of you on the hood of that police car and I’ll –” he breathed in her ear.
“What?” she challenged, biting down gently on his ear lobe and letting her hand travel up his thigh.
He paused. “Do you remember what I did to you in the alley on the way to the factory?”
Joyce felt the warmth turn to a blaze. “Oh, yes.”
His grin was wicked, just like she remembered it. “Want to try doing it horizontal, this time?”
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