Thanks to Beta Readers: Carla and Tory
The song, Name, is from the album "A Boy Named Goo" by the Goo Goo Dolls, 1995.
When Giles began to strum his guitar for the evening's last set, Willow silenced the rest of the Scooby-Gang and Riley.
After seeing him play last week, Willow had to come and listen to him again. She had merely brought the others along as cover to hide her reawakened crush on the performer. She smiled to herself about how easy it had been to convince the others to accompany her. Both Tara and Anya had needed no prodding; they were quite eager to hear him play again. Buffy and Riley had been curious. They had wanted to see him even after she had made them promise to be on their best behavior. Xander had come for two reasons. He wanted to be with the gang and to make sure that Anya wouldn't be left alone with Giles.
She snorted to herself. Xander needn't concern himself about that, she mused. Willow wasn't about to let that happen.
At first, Giles had a wary look upon his face as the gang had sauntered into the place. She knew he had expected only her to be there since she had been the one who had begged him to allow her to come see him again. That night, after they had saved Buffy and Riley, Willow and Giles had talked about the types of music they both had liked. Giles also told her about the wild times he had lived when he scratched out an existence by singing in small clubs in seedy sections of London so long ago.
When they had arrived, she had suspected that he had been nervous about being subjected to some immature teasing from the gang. He had had no reason to fear though. The gang had found Willow to be a rather dominating and protective mistress when it suited her. So much so, that they had even followed her directive to contribute 'seed money' to Giles' tip jar with nary a peep. The others had each given her a five dollar bill for his jar; she had thrown in a ten.
However, after she had placed the money in the jar, Giles had removed the ten from the container and gently placed it back into her little hand. He had said, "I cannot accept this from you Willow. You see, you have already contributed more to me than you could possibly know by being the earthly muse that inspires me."
She had nearly melted into a puddle of mindless goo after that.
At the end of the set's first song, the waitress approached their cozy little table with a fresh round of drinks. When the girl passed in front of her to hand out the refreshments, Willow leaned to one side, making sure that she never took her eyes off of the singer. Somewhere, deep in her mind, she knew that she could have stood up and made it easier for their server to do her job. But nothing, not even the Hellmouth opening beneath her feet, could pry her from that spot.
"Here's your hot chocolate," the waitress said to Willow.
With her eyes still locked on Giles, Willow asked, "How much do I owe you?"
"Don't worry about it. Rupert's got it covered."
Willow spared her a quick glance and a token smile. "Thanks, Holly."
"Don't mention it," Holly replied as she walked away.
Returning her undivided attention to the artist, Willow flashed him one of her thousand watt smiles and saluted him with her mug. She caught his eye, hoping that he recognized both her toast and her smile as a token of her appreciation. He reciprocated with one of his wry, sexy smiles. She was so excited that she gulped down her drink, forgetting how hot it was. Willow almost yelped from the near scalding that her throat endured. Now she knew how that vampire had felt when it had drunk that glassful of holy water during Buffy's disastrous, eighteenth birthday fiasco.
Several songs later, she still sat, transfixed by him. She was entranced by his voice and mesmerized by his hands. The voice that had resonated near her when he had stood close behind her in the Sunnydale High Library another lifetime ago. Close enough, she remembered, to bask in his warmth. The hands that had gently caressed the cover of some lucky old books and had, on occasion, touched her in the same, blissful way.
While these thoughts danced in her head, the warm, moist sensation between her legs became impossible to ignore. Willow finally recognized that she was horny and that he was the reason for her current condition.
Giles finished playing another song and received enthusiastic applause from the cafe's patrons. He gave them his shy smile and warmly said, "Thank you. Thank you very much. You have been a rather wonderful audience. I appreciate the opportunity to have performed for you this evening and I hope to see you again very soon. Although most of my repertoire consists of songs from the seventies and early eighties, I shall end tonight with a more modern song in honor of a wonderful person who has shown me nothing but warmth and encouragement ever since I arrived here in America. I care for her deeply and call her, in my heart, my Honeysuckle Rose. Although I am ill-equipped to provide a rendition of the big band era song called "Honeysuckle Rose," I pray that this ballad from one of her favourite bands, the Goo Goo Dolls, shall suffice. It goes like this . . ."
As he began to strum the slow, walking chords on his guitar, Willow pondered, for a second, about the identity of the lucky lady. Then it hit her between the eyes like a Slayer's right cross. Rose? Rosenberg! The Goo Goo Dolls? The Goo Goo Dolls! Her world reeled under her like a drunken sailor trapped in a wildly swinging hammock on board a ship on the raging sea. She screamed in her mind. I told him last week that that was my favorite group!
Then, Giles began to sing.
And even though the moment passed me by
I still can't turn away
I saw the dreams she'd never thought you'd lose
Tossed along the way
Letters that you'd never meant to send
Get lost and thrown away.
Oh my god! It wasn't possible, she thought. He was singing about her dreams of a life with Oz! Willow's eyes began to cloud with unshed tears.
And now a cult of orphans, I never knew their names
Don't belong to no one
That's a shame
You could hide beside me
Maybe for awhile
And I won't tell no one your name
And I won't tell your name.
Willow was stunned. She couldn't believe it. He sang about those poor kids from the orphanage who had been unfairly punished by that horrid, misguided woman so long ago.
The scars are souvenirs she'd never lose
The past is never far
Did you lose yourself somewhere out there
Did you get to be a star?
Don't it make you sad to know
That life is more than who we are?
Tears slowly began to trickle down her face. This couldn't be happening! How could this song bear testimony to the torture she had experienced over losing Oz, to the heartbreak of the unrequited love she had had for Xander, and to the pain she had felt from Tara's withdrawal last week? Yes she had scars, scars that would always be there, a part of her.
You grew up way too fast and now there's nothing to believe
And reruns all become a history
A tired song keeps playing
On a tired radio
And I won't tell no one your name
And I won't tell your name
Mmmm, I won't tell your name.
Giles' fingers quickly plucked the guitar's strings, increasing the tempo and building the music into a moving crescendo. Willow felt the song sweep her up, like a living thing absorbing her into itself. Now the tears streamed down her face; she couldn't stop them. She felt it, felt his love pouring into her. He mourned with her over her stolen youth. He touched her old and loving soul. Yet, he had just vowed to keep her safe and secure from prying eyes, to protect both her identity and her heart as he had always done. She knew Rupert would never hurt her by telling the strangers here in this place her name.
His hands froze momentarily on the downstroke, ending the rapid strumming. Then, he picked up the ambling walk once again on his guitar and sang,
I think about you all the time
But I don't need the same
It's lonely where you are but come back down
And I won't tell your name.
When he finished the final chords, her teary eyes fixed upon his dark green ones. Willow barely heard the audience's rousing applause while she strove to make the world go away. Raw emotion played upon his face, which, she knew, was an unusual display for this man. For one long moment, a small part of her considered turning shyly away from Rupert's questing gaze. Then, both her heart and soul smothered that thought and guided her to the only response that they would allow.
Willow mouthed solely for Rupert's eyes, "I think about you all the time . . . and I won't tell your name."
She watched him close his eyes like a man who had just had his most fervent prayer answered. When he opened them again, she saw the promise that they offered her. Willow knew that his very next perfomance later that evening would be solely for her eyes alone.
Sequel: Island of Hope
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