Notes: For trkkr47 who wanted post-Chosen, Giles ranting, and Giles hitting on Willow, no over-the-top silliness or angst. Theres angst, Im sorry, it crept in when I wasnt looking.
It took a whole glass of wine, and most of a second one, before it began to register that Andrew had perhaps been a bit confused as to what mulled wine actually was, and that hed somehow made it about ninety percent proof.
By the time Giles had put all this together, he was too pissed to care, and he sat down heavily on the stairs to finish his glass. The stairs were longer than he remembered. The carpet was softer, too, velvety under his hand. And there definitely wasnt normally a girl sitting on the top step, although this didnt surprise him very much. The party was overrun with girls. It was quite a relief to see someone else who wasnt a Slayer and also, this was the important bit, wasnt Andrew.
Willow waved, and bumped herself down a couple of stairs until she was sitting beside him. Giles! I like your house. And your, this. She waved her glass. The wine made an interesting splatter pattern on the carpet. Your hot wine. Is also good.
Youre drunk, he said severely. Thats unlike you, Willow. Im very, very There was a word for that. What was it? Pleased? he hazarded.
Doesnt sound right. She swayed against him, propping her chin against his shoulder. Disappointed?
Yes, that sounds more like the thing. He toasted the air. Well done, that man.
He frowned. What man? I didnt see any men. Just women. Girls.
I know! And, yknow, Im all yay, huzzah for girls but there are so many and theyre all, theyre so ooh, I really like this shirt, is it new?
No respect, Giles said, oblivious. No respect for me, for anyone with a bit more experience. They never listen, not that thats anything new, you lot never listened either...
But we did it in a way that showed we cared, she protested. We never listened with love.
It was probably the nicest thing anyone had ever said to Giles in his entire life, and he told her so. His arm had found its way across her shoulders and he was too comfortable to try moving it.
I think Im kind of drunk.
Id tend to agree.
She patted her face. Is my nose red, like in cartoons?
Your hair is. A strand had slipped free from the clasp, was hanging over her eye; he brushed it back. Her hair was very red, he thought, and her skin was very pale, and her eyes were very large and very green; surely it was only when she was drunk, or he was, that she became such a study in intensity. It would hurt to look at her otherwise.
Sober, his brain might have pointed out other superlatives, like the fact that she was very young and had a girlfriend who was somewhere in the building and very strong. Sober, he wouldnt say, Willow and angle his head and close the tiny distance between his mouth and hers, and he certainly wouldnt do all of this in a hallway where anyone (Kennedy) might catch them.
Willow must have been less drunk than shed let on. That, or she had good reflexes, because she kissed him back reaching up to stroke the side of his face, and she tasted like the wine, exotic and warm but then she was pulling away, standing, and Kennedy was approaching the bottom of the stairs.
Hey. Been looking for you. Hi, Giles, she added, an obvious afterthought. Great party. Cmon, Will, I wanna dance.
She glanced back at him, guilt already written all over her face.
Go, he said. Im fine. I could do with getting another drink.
Your glass is half full, Kennedy pointed out.
He gave her a chilly smile. Some would say its half empty.