What Tomorrow Brings
Willow awoke to find herself alone on the couch, with a blanket over her and the fire banked for the night. She rose and stretched, then checked her watch. 5:16 AM. She folded and put away the blanket, then went into her bathroom to shower. Drying off, she dressed in one of the new outfits she'd bought the day before. Going into the kitchen, she made herself a pot of tea, then went back to her room. Seating herself at her desk, she flexed her fingers then booted up her new laptop for the first time. After checking her e-mail, she started to check on what was being said about the destruction of Sunnydale. Most stories attributed the disappearance of the town to the San Andreas Fault shifting. She then checked her parents' e-mail to discover it hadn't been checked since the day before the battle with the First. Worried, she checked her mother's website (she had helped her mother set it up years before to let people know when and where she would be lecturing) to discover her mother and father had come home to Sunnydale four days before the final battle and hadn't left town with everyone else. Horrified, she realised that her parents had perished along with the rest of the population that hadn't evacuated. Heartbroken and blinded by tears, she logged off and wandered into the living room. Giles, who was in the kitchen pouring himself a cup of tea, saw the shattered look on her face and went to her.
"Willow, what is the matter?"
"My parents," she struggled to get the words out, "They...they were in Sunnydale when, when ...."
"When it was destroyed?" he asked gently.
She nodded as tears spilled down her cheeks. He wrapped his arms around her as she sobbed against his chest. Carefully, he guided her to the couch and they sat on it.
"I know they weren't the most attentive of parents, but.." she wiped her eyes with her sleeve.
"But they were your parents and you loved them," he finished for her.
"Yeah. It's silly for me to be crying like this. I mean, they hadn't really kept in contact with me. Mom only met Tara once and ignored her after that. She couldn't even get Buffy's name right, and then there's that little episode of trying to burn me at the stake, but still I hoped one day she and dad might actually want to get to know me. The real me, not their preconceived notion of what someone in my 'age group' was like. They never even called me when Tara...died...or when I came here with you, but I still kept hoping. Now they never will."
"It's not silly. Despite their neglect, your parents were an important part of your life and helped you become the woman you are."
"Yeah, an important part, when it came to telling me no. Dad wouldn't let me watch A Charlie Brown Christmas , Mom wouldn't let me play with Barbie dolls because she thought they might cause me to have unrealistic self-image goals, and don't get me started on her rant about the 'patriarchal bias' of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood."
"They taught you, or perhaps you learned from their disregard, to be independent and resilient. That's played an important role in keeping you, and indeed all of us, alive this long."
"I guess so. It's just not easy realising I'm an orphan now. I mean I always was in some ways, since my parents were never there, but now they're truly gone."
"You still have family, though. You have Xander and Buffy and Dawn and me. We'll always be here for you"
"I know," she put her arms around him and he returned the hug.
Willow slowly released him and made an effort to compose herself.
"Well," she sniffled, wiping her eyes on her sleeve. "We've got a lot to do today, what with setting up the new Council and all."
"If you'd like to take a few days, I'll understand. This has been some upsetting news."
"No. I want to get this started. I need to. I want to make sure they and everyone else in Sunnydale didn't die for nothing. So, if you want to go get ready, I'll make us breakfast."
After breakfast they set out to find a suitable office space for the new Council. All morning they walked and rode the tubes, checking out various real estate listings. None seemed to be quite what they were looking for. This one didn't quite work for Giles; that one was missing something to Willow. She despaired of finding a space that suited them both.
"If we don't find something today, we'll continue looking tomorrow," Giles reassured her, "After all, Rome wasn't built in a day>"
"I know," she sulked, "I just want to get this started; get the new Council up and running. We've got a whole bunch of Slaters out there that are gonna need our help."
Giles smothered a grin at her impatience.
"Yes we do," he sighed, "But we won't be much help to them if we rush into a situation that doesn't meet our needs."
Three days later they found the perfect building. The outside looked old, but the inside was completely modernised. Willow thought it exemplified the new Council they were starting. The aged appearance of the building mirroring the history and traditions of the old Council; the up-to-date interior signifying the changing of the guard and the goals of the new Council. To celebrate, Giles took her to have a traditional high tea. They toasted their success, but Giles noticed an anxious look on her Face.
"What is it? What's troubling you? Is there a problem with the buiding?"
"No," she replied, "It's just now we have to furnish it, and staff it, and, oh, we have to get phone lines hooked up and computers, we definitely have to have computers; I think we'll need cable modems, dial-up is too slow..." she broke off as she saw Giles stifling a grin. "What?"
"It's just everyone said I was the big worrier of the group," he remarked, amusement showing in his eyes, "But you seem to be giving me quite a run for my money in that department."
"Well," she began, then stopped, realising the humour of the situation, "I guess I am rushing things, huh?"
"Just a bit," he took her hand and squeezed it gently, "Relax, Willow. We'll get this done. The new Council will be ready for business in no time. How can it not, with you working on it?"
As they left the shop, Willow casually put her arm around his waist as he settled his arm around her shoulders. They turned their steps to the nearest tube station, satisfied with their day's work.
Willow sank into the chair opposite Giles' desk with a sigh. Astral projection to find new Slayers could be very draining.
She and Giles had considered the new Watcher's Council to be up and running for 3 months now. They still needed more people, but staffing hadn't been as big of a headache as they'd feared. Many of their new staff were family members of the old Council, sons and daughters who were already in university preparing to join the Council. Others hadn't intended to join, but the deaths of their loved ones at the hands of the First had changed their minds. A big coup had been hiring Quentin Travers' two sons, both of whom had previously wanted nothing to do with the Council. They told Giles and Willow that they'd wanted to be a part of the Council, but couldn't accept their father's insistence on clinging to the old traditions which they felt were outdated and harsh. Knowing of their father's antagonism towards Giles, they felt that he would bring about the changes they thought the Council needed. The older of the two, Geoffrey, had devoted himself to a methodical study of the demon and vampire world, learning as much of their lore as was possible, while the younger, Colin had immersed himself in languages, both human and demonic. Despite their former refusal to join the Council, they'd known too much to stay out of the fight. They'd just not been able to deal with their father and the old Council's strictures. Both had impressive libraries, which they happily donated to the new Council. With their arrival, both Willow and Giles found their time freed up to concentrate on more pressing issues, such as finding and contacting new Slayers on Willow's part and completely overhauling the Watcher's training program for Giles.
Giles looked up at Willow's sigh. She looked tired. Despite all the new personnel, they'd been working very hard, often putting 12 hour day, 7 day weeks. Willow's use of astral projection to find the new Slayers, while keeping her in England was often time-consuming, and Giles would not leave the office until she 'returned.'
"I think I'm almost through with Asia," she smiled wearily, "We can send Chao-Ahn to talk to the ones in China, and I think Kumiko would be the best to talk to the ones in Japan. Perhaps Priyamani will help us out in India. She likes to travel. The Himalayas were a bust. Didn't find a single new Slayer in Nepal. But I still have several more countries to check out, Korea, Vietnam, Myanmar..."
"Well, I believe you can save the rest of the continent for another time. And I believe that it is time for us to go home. You look exhausted. Good thing it's Friday and you have the next two days to rest, though it seems strange to have a weekend off. What do you say to a fire, tea and takeaway Chinese?"
"Throw in a bubble bath and I think it sounds like absolute heaven," she replied before thinking.
"Yes, well, er..." he stammered, a blush creeping up his neck as visions of Willow in nothing but bubbles flitted through his mind.
With slightly pinkened cheeks, Willow took his arm and they left the office.
At the apartment, Giles sent Willow off to her bath while he lit the fire, prepared the tea, and called for the takeaway. He then went to his room and changed into jeans and a long sleeved T-shirt. He sat on the couch, sipping his tea and waited for Willow to return and the food to arrive.
Willow came out of her room just as the knock sounded on the door. When Giles returned to the living room, she was curled up on the couch, her hair damp and curling around her shoulders, in her robe and pajamas.
"Mmm, it smells delicious," she grinned, "what did you order?"
"I got Sesame chicken, beef and broccoli, some spring rolls and those Chinese bread rolls you like so much."
"Sounds great. Let's eat, I'm starving!" she jumped up to get plates and napkins.
Giles smothered a chuckle at her enthusiasm and set the food on the coffee table. As they ate, they discussed their plans, or lack thereof, for the coming weekend.
"I don't know what I'm going to do with myself with a whole two days of no work," Willow commented between bites of chicken, "It almost feels naughty or wrong after working so many weekends."
"True, but won't it be nice to just relax after so long?"
"Giles, your idea of relaxing is sleeping in till 6 instead of getting up at 5!" she teased.
"I see nothing wrong in being an early riser," he huffed.
"I swear, one of these days I'm gonna tie you down and make you stay in bed late!"
"I'd like to see you try," he challenged, setting aside his plate.
"You don't think I can do it?"
"Well, Willow, I did train a Slayer. I imagine I more up on combat techniques than ..."
He broke off as she launched herself at him, pushing him down and pinning him to the couch. She straddled him at the waist and pressed down on his shoulders.
"I think not," he reached up and began tickling her.
Willow attempted to get away from his tormenting fingers, but he easily held her with one hand while continuing his teasing assault. In the struggle, Willow's robe had come untied and the camisole top she wore had ridden up, so Giles' fingers now fell on bare skin. He fought to suppress a groan when he felt the silkiness of her skin beneath his fingertips. Desire flooded him at the sight of the beautiful woman he'd secretly yearned after for years writhing atop him.
When Willow felt his touch on her exposed skin, a bolt of pure heat shot throughout her body. She ceased her movements as she stared at the man beneath her. The heat transformed to lust as memories of what she'd convinced herself was a crush overwhelmed her.
Without conscious thought, they leaned towards each other till their lips met. What started out a a gentle caress quickly became a firestorm of passion as Giles wrapped his arms around her, holding her tightly to him and Willow clung to him.
When they finally separated, needing to breathe, Willow looked into his jade green eyes.
To Be Continued...
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