Title: To Sleep Without Dreaming
Prompt: Giles/Willow; after Oz leaves, but before Tara, she checks on him, only to find him sunk in a depression about how much his life sucks and how useless he is. How does she bring him out? Highest rating you feel comfortable with.
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Written for the Giles Hurt/Comfort Ficathon.
Something had woken her, a laugh, a shout, a noise in the hallway had pulled her out of the all-too-familiar-now dark place sleep invariably dragged her into since Oz had gone. It was a place of shadows and fangs, fur and lust, reproach and recrimination. She always, always, always found herself in tears in these new dreamscapes and her nights had become wracked with the emotions of it. Just by closing her eyes for a moment, lying her head down on the pillow, she would arrive in the haunting place, rocked into sleep that was far from peaceful, far from restful. Now she lay atop her bed covers and took a deep breath, then another, trying to still herself, calm herself, banish the images and quell the emotions.
Whatever had pulled her into wakefulness was gone, it was quiet now. She rolled onto her side and peered at the clock, not yet eleven. A soft snore from the other bed proved that Buffy, too, had closed her eyes and was now asleep. Willow remembered that they had been talking, each on her own bed, Buffy curled into herself, cradling the ridiculous stuffed and spotted cow, she on her back, hands behind her head, staring up at the ceiling. She had gotten up and peered out the door in idle curiosity, whomever had been luckless enough to have to stay on campus for the Thanksgiving week were either partying quietly behind closed doors or were downtown at an all-ages club. She and Buffy had opted out of any such plans and were spending the last of the holiday in their room, Buffy nursing Shumash-inflicted wounds and she, well, her confusion cut deep enough to wound. She had flicked off the switch and lit a candle, returning to her bed. They lay in the dark, whispering to one another, their hushed conversation becoming at last a lullaby for all lost girls. They had fallen asleep, mid-sentence.
She was still dressed and slowly she sat up. A sudden need to comfort and be comforted rose up inside her body, a physical longing as strong as hunger or thirst. Quietly, she moved to Buffy's bed and sat on the edge, her hand on the thin shoulder. The blonde girl murmured and turned onto her stomach. For a long moment, Willow sat and considered lying down beside her friend, wondering if the proximity of the Slayer would ease her nightmares into dreams, wondering how that angular body would feel against her own softer curves.
“Angel?” Buffy whispered into the dark and the sadness in her voice tore at Willow.
“No, no, Buffy, its Willow. Here let's get you under the covers.” She stood and tugged the coverlet and sheet out from under her friend. Buffy rolled beneath them and Willow bent and tucked her in, a strange and wild desire to kiss her goodnight ghosting through her, but she resisted and awkwardly patted her on the head. “Sweet dreams, Buffy.”
She slid her shoes on and left.
A small termor of excitement coursed through her when she rounded the corner of his block and saw the light on in his apartment window. She stopped suddenly, in the middle of the sidewalk, midnight approaching on a Saturday night. What was she doing? She looked up again at Giles's window and tried to identify the distinct trill in her veins. Was this the comfort she needed? Was there something else pulling her to this place? What if he wasn't alone? She almost laughed out loud at that thought. What if she, sucking on her lips she paused and seriously considered, what if she frightened him? “Oh, Will,” she said aloud and mentally shook herself. Her desire for life and love post-Oz, was a new desire, a definite wanting to take, to move towards what her heart illuminated for her, move towards a thing and touch it.
She wanted, desperately, to touch something, the worst part of Oz leaving was the physical abandonment of his body, his embrace, his hand holding her hand. She wanted to reach out and put her arms around something, put her hands on something. Solid and substantial. Giles was those things. Wasn't he?
She knocked softly. And waited, to the point of prickling, frustrated tears. She angrily dried her eyes with her knuckles and knocked louder and waited, feeling the tears become stinging points of humiliation. She pounded on the door and it swung open.
Giles was standing on the other side, swaying a bit, a glass tumbler in one hand, the edge of the door in the other. He looked utterly confused and, Willow realized with a lurching behind her ribs, vulnerable without his glasses.
“Willow?” he slurred, peering at her myopically.
She hesitated but then his hand suddenly shot forward, spilling a bit of the contents of the tumbler onto her sleeve, and he grabbed at her with his fingers. She reached up and took the drink from him and his hand closed around her arm.
“Yes, Giles, it's me. Willow.”
“Willow? Yes, yes, I see that it's you. Did you cut your hair?” His grip on her arm was very tight.
“No. Well, not recently. Yes. What do you mean? We just saw each other on Thursday. My hair is the same hair.” She sniffed at the contents of the glass and her complete ignorance about alcohol demanded that she taste it and she did. It burned and she coughed.
His hand dropped to her elbow, pulling at her. “Oh, do you want a drink, then, Willow? Come in, come in. I'll get you a drink. And not tea,” he laughed. “No, not English tea. Scotch. Scotch whisky.” He had turned and she had followed him inside, nudging the door shut behind her, following close on his heels, when he halted and turned back suddenly. “I won't give you the Edradour, though. No. I'll give you,” he blinked down at her, “a nice blended whisky. Something more mellow to start you out, I think.”
She shrugged, she really had no idea what he was talking about. He was so close, she could have reached out and pulled him into her arms, but he didn't seem to be able to focus on her and he stumbled away towards the kitchen, waving her to the couch and she sat down, still sipping at his drink. She toed off her shoes.
He came back into the room and she thought he looked steadier on his feet. He had a bottle of something and a glass, both of which he set on the coffee table before sitting heavily down beside her.
She felt the long length of his thigh hard against hers and she pushed her leg firmly back against his. He didn't seem to notice; he was pouring the amber liquid into the glass and handing it to her.
“What did you do with my, oh, here, give that to me.” He took the drink from her and handed her the other. She began to bring it to her lips. “No!” he barked and she jumped slightly. “You can't drink without a toast first, you've got to drink to something. Right? Right.”
He held his glass up, his gaze on the staircase in the darkened hallway. “Let's drink to the point of unconsciousness.”
She laughed and he turned wounded eyes to hers. “Giles?” she asked. “Is that a pun?”
He clinked his glass against hers and swallowed. “Smart Willow. So very smart. And so very, very pretty.” He looked at her and she held his gaze. He sipped again at his drink. “I want to drink until I pass out. I want to sleep, no dreaming,” he held up an accusing finger, “just blissfully unaware.” He drank again, grimacing around the swallow.
“Drinking helps you do that? No dreaming?”
“Sometimes. Sometimes it does do that. Most people, now, most young people, drink because they want that feeling of being inebria, inebriatuh, drunk. It can be quite heady, actually, and usually pleasurable. No inhibitions and such. Unless, you're what's termed a mean drunk, then, best not to drink at all. That's why god made marijuana, I'm quite certain.”
A pause stretched out between them and Willow finished her drink and poured another. The whisky he had given her was not as sharp or burning as the one he was drinking. “You talk a lot when you're drunk, don't you, Giles? But I think you were trying to make a point. And I didn't know you believed in God.”
“A point? About God?” He reached for her bottle and topped off his own glass.
“No. Just now, when you were saying why people drink. And about sleeping without dreaming.”
She interrupted him with a giggle, “Who are these Some People?”
He frowned at her. “Some people believe that if you sleep without dreaming then you're a healthier person than the sleeper who dreams, you're getting a more sound sleep.”
“But I thought that dreaming was the way your brain sorts out the day's events and keeps you psychologically healthy.”
“That's right!” he said and clinked his glass against hers. “That's certainly correct. But not to dream, to sleep the dreamless sleep, the blissful coma, the sleep of the dead. Sometimes, sometimes, I want that. And I can get it at the bottom of a glass.” He sighed. “ 'To sleep perchance to dream. Aye, there's the rub.' ”
“Giles.” She finished the second glass of whisky and felt the fuzzy outer edges of her own consciousness blurring the room. “What if you do dream but you just don't remember the dream, is that the same thing?”
“I don't know, actually. You see, Willow, my dreams wake me up. They always wake me up. Every night. Unless,” he looked longingly at his glass and tossed the remaining alcohol back, “I'm completely pissed, soused, arsed-over-elbow.”
“Drunk?” she asked.
He nodded and put the empty glass down and sat back, stretching his long legs beneath the coffee table. “Why are you here? Willow?”
The soft and somewhat sober tone of his voice surprised her and she turned to him. He was looking down at his hands, flattened out on his thighs. She pulled her feet up under her, turning her body towards his, cradling the drink in both hands.
“I can't sleep, either, Giles.”
He nodded, still looking at his hands. She took a long drink, then leaned over and set the glass beside his on the table.
“But I don't know if I want to be drunk. You know, to be able to sleep.”
He shrugged. “It works. But yes, I don't think it's a habit you should cultivate. Do you want me to drive you back to the campus?”
She smiled sadly. “You can't drive, Giles. I can walk back. I walked here.”
His brows furrowed. “I suppose you did. Buffy patrolling then?”
“No. She's sleeping.”
“At least someone is, someone can.”
“She was calling out for Angel when I left.”
“Oh,” he said simply.
“Do you think,” she could feel the words begin to tumble off her tongue, “sleeping alone, I mean alone by yourself, makes the dreaming worse?”
She held her breath and he looked up at her slowly, meeting her gaze. And this time his eyes focused, on her own eyes, down to her lips, back to her eyes, then to her hands that were reaching out for him. He reached up and caught both in his own, bringing them up to his lips. She watched as he closed his eyes and pressed his mouth against her fingertips, her knuckles, turning them over and placing kisses in her palms. Slowly, she opened her arms, hands out of his grasp, his mouth at her wrist, then inside her elbow, moving into her embrace. She arched forward towards him and he whispered her name against her shoulder, his own arms around her waist, pulling her up against his chest. His face was in her neck, she could feel his mouth on the bow of her collarbone and her eyes fluttered shut. Was this what she wanted then? This man in her arms, his need such a physical thing, so different, she realized now, from her needing, her emotional longing. And what had happened to her desire?
He had stopped moving against her and something in his shoulders, in the twist of his back, in the trembling of his thigh between her knees stilled her movements against him. She brought her hands up high on his back and held him tightly.
He was crying.
“Giles?” she whispered.
He shook his head fiercely against her and she tightened one arm around his shoulders and began to stroke the jutting shoulder blade with her other hand. She could feel the wetness of his tears against her neck and she closed her eyes against her own, but it was no use, they fell in answer to his weeping.
“Shhh, Giles, shhh,” she murmured. She pulled him further down onto the sofa, rolling in his arms towards the edge, he was still holding fast to her, his head pushed against her ear, but his body responded and she could feel him begin to rock her against him. She wedged her arms tighter around him and closed her eyes, humming softly to keep from sobbing. "Sleep now, go to sleep."
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