The Chosen :: A Buffy virtual series continuation

TITLE: Seven Years
AUTHOR: Devon Hazel
DISCLAIMER: Rupert Giles and Olivia belong to Mutant Enemy, as does, I suppose, the idea of Mr Giles Senior. Hannah Giles belongs to Jet Wolf. All are borrowed, none used for profit. The random Italian guy at the end is mine, but somehow I don't think he's going to be most important character in the history of the Buffyverse.
RATING: PG for some mild language.
SUMMARY: Giles and Hannah have their first conversation since the end of their marriage. Assumes knowledge of "Separate Tables".

Seven Years
by Devon Hazel

    "I'm glad we've got this childish nonsense out of the way, Rupert, and we can finally focus on your real purpose in life."
    "Yes, Father."
    "To be Watcher to the Slayer is an incredible responsibility. Ethan Rayne has only been distracting you and to be distracted is the one thing you cannot afford if we are to convince the council of your suitability for the role."
    "No, Father. I'm going to put things right."
    "I'm glad to hear it. You may go."
    Giles obediently turned to leave the study.
    "And Rupert..."
    "Yes, Father," he turned back.
    "That means no distractions. Don't let your desire to put things right lead you from what is important. The girl is still off limits."
    "Her name is Hannah," it was Giles' first hint of anger.
    "Miss Sinclair is none of your concern. Now, return to your studies and I hope you can attend to them more diligently this time."
    Shoulders tensing, Giles bit his lip, "Yes, Father."

    "Hello, can I speak to...ah, Mr Sinclair," Giles winced slightly, "Yes. I was, I...yes, I understand that, I didn't...I know Hannah...yes,, thank you, sir," he put the phone down and rubbed the back of his neck. Then, inspiration seemed to dawn. He dialled a new number:
    "Yes, Olivia, it's Rupert," there was a pause, "No, I'm afraid not," he blushed slightly, "I was just wondering, do you still have a number for Hannah?" another pause, "yes, Hannah Sinclair, my former wife and no, I don't want to scream angrily at her." He waited, "Giles?" the astonishment was obvious, "She kept the Giles name?" trying to put his surprise aside, his smile creeping out almost unnoticed, he grabbed paper and pen and began to scribble out a number, "Thank you."
    He hung up and carefully, taking a second to breathe between each digit, he dialled a third number. A variety of expressions crossed his face as he stood, waiting, until someone picked up:
    "Hannah," he said.

    The blue sky and snow-capped mountains visible out of the window seemed to suggest the room wasn't in England. As the phone rang, Hannah crossed the tiled floor to answer it.
    "Ziggy?" there was shock in her voice.
    "I'm just...I...I just wanted to find out how you're doing," he began, "and to apologise."
    "What, for being an arse or for taking seven years to admit you were an arse?"
    "Both," he said, "Hannah, look, I...I've changed a lot in the past few years."
    "Glad to hear it."
    "But, I am sorry," he continued, "I should never have let things between us end to the way they did. I shouldn't have lost my temper."
    "No you shouldn't..." she stopped and her voice softened slightly as she shook her head, "though I suppose I'm partly to blame for that."
    "Not half as much as I am."
    "Well, no, but this is going to be a very depressing phone call if you spend the whole time wallowing in your own guilt. I wasn't expecting an immediate reconciliation after we parted ways, I knew how angry you'd be and I do understand why, even if you were being an idiot. We've both moved on," she took a long look at her surroundings, "don't dwell on it."
    Giles winced at her words, "You could say I've moved on. I've parted company with Ethan Rayne."
    That made Hannah stand up straighter, "I can't imagine he was very happy about that."
    "No," Giles agreed, "and he was even less happy about the broken nose I gave him during our last encounter."
    A small smile crossed Hannah's lips, "Well, no, I can't imagine that would be the kind of thing to make him smile."
    "He deserved it," said Giles, "he...we did some horrific things."
    Hannah paused, perching on the edge of the table.
    "We..." Giles paused, "Anyway, how have you been? What are you doing now?"
    She took a moment to reply, though it was unclear if she was waiting for him to say more about what had happened, or composing her own response, "Well, for the last few years I've sort of been procrastinating while I come up with more excuses for why I can't come back to England," she said, "Never thought I'd be homesick for the flatland and airbases of Lincolnshire. I'm still in Italy, that's where I finished my degree, but...I've decided economics isn't for me."
    "I could have told you that seven years ago."
    "Yes, well... Bocconi is one of the best universities for economics in the world, but you sit there, with that beautiful Italian sky out of the window and all those beautiful Italian men in the street and you're stuck in a lecture theatre listening to the global implications of..." she grinned, "I can hear you blushing."
    "Am not!" Giles retorted, red face belying his words.
    "But the sky and the men were all quite lovely, so I'm still here, though I've been travelling a bit more, I didn't want to just stick to Milan. I left Rome fairly recently, but I'm still trying to figure out what to do next. Every time I've tried to settle down I've found myself getting bored. The mundane has kind of lost its attraction since my short stint in your world."
    "Really?" Giles frowned, "there've been some disturbances at the Council headquarters in Rome recently. Some rather valuable artefacts were stolen."
    "Can't say I've heard of anything," Hannah shrugged, "not that I've been going out of my way to keep up with the council and I can't say my heart truly bleeds if someone's running rings around them."
    "No, I suppose you wouldn't. Still, it's strange... Your comment on boredom with the mundane...does that mean you've still been involving yourself with the supernatural?"
    "Maybe once or twice," Hannah said carefully.
    "I don't..." there was a trace of fear on Giles' face, but he covered it quickly, "be careful. Please. It's not always as fun as it first looks."
    "I know how to look after myself," said Hannah. She grinned, "it's everyone else you have to worry about."
    Giles hesitated for a moment, an uncomfortable expression on his face. Hannah shook her head:
    "It's a joke, Rupert. You know I wouldn't hurt anyone. I'm keeping myself safe. Shall we leave it at that?"
    Giles nodded, seeming to forget the futility of the gesture, but Hannah changed the subject anyway.
    "Anyway, that's enough about me. You were the one causing concern you weren't exactly in the most rational frame of mind last time we met. What's changed?"
    Giles glanced down at the floor, shame plain in his face, "That's over now. I'm going to do what you... what my father wants of me, become a Slayer's Watcher and do something to balance out all the mistakes I've made."
    "That's good," Hannah replied, pointedly ignoring the slip, "it's a start, anyway, though I'm surprise they let you call me. Can't risk letting those pesky feelings getting in the way of your new work ethic."
    Giles nodded again, "I couldn't begin my Watcher training without putting things right. Everything right," he paused and gave an embarrassed smile, "they don't exactly know I'm talking to you."
    "Disobeying already?" Hannah smiled a soft smile, "perhaps there's hope for you yet. How did you find me?"
    "Olivia," Rupert replied, "I did try your home number, but your father didn't sound too pleased to hear from me."
    "No, I can't imagine he would be," Hannah's smile was broader now, "he didn't like you that much when I came back from my harmless trip to Europe with you as my husband. Telling him a week later that I was getting divorced and, by the way, I was leaving Oxford after all that hard work he put into getting me there, that threw him a bit. It was quite interesting really. We've never had a shouting match quite like that before."
    "I'm sorry. I know how much his opinion means to you."
    Hannah shrugged, but there was a hint of pain in her face, "It didn't last long. He's an eminently practical man. He knows how to make the best of a bad situation. Besides, I'm his only daughter. If he disowns me who else is he going to spoil rotten?"
    "Oh," said Giles. He paused, "Olivia told me...she said you were still using the Giles name."
    Hannah nodded, "I was kind of short of ways I could annoy the council without getting myself arrested, but I needed to do something. You don't mind, do you?"
    Giles laughed, "No, no problem. I'm not so far gone into their ranks that I can't wholly support any effort to make them look a bit embarrassed."
    "I do like the name as well though," Hannah said, her voice quieter now, "it's not just to wind them up."
    Giles didn't answer that, "Have you heard from them? The council, I mean."
    "Once or twice, in the beginning. One of them even had the balls to suggest that, now I've had the chance to calm down, I might want to reconsider my resignation, as I had shown some potential as a council employee. I think I managed to convince him otherwise with a few choice words," there was a moment's heavy pause, "They seemed to stop when they realised I wasn't going to run off and elope with you at the first opportunity, though I'd imagine they reappear pretty quickly if I did do something to annoy them."
    "That's their way," said Giles. He hesitated a moment, as though unsure about what he was about to say, "Pity about the elopement."
    "You don't mean that."
    Giles closed his eyes for a moment and there was a forlorn note to his reply, "No, I suppose I don't."
    "Hannah," a shadow fell over Hannah as a man, his Italian accent rich and warm, entered the room behind her and leant forward to kiss the back of her neck.
    "Wait a minute," Hannah half-whispered as she turned to look at him before returning to the phone, "I'm glad you're settling down. What happened with Ethan...what happened with us. You need to put it behind you. I don't bear any grudges, neither should you. Making mistakes is meant to be part of the point of being young. I know I've been making as many as I can."
    "I'm trying," Giles said, "It's just...some of...some of the things I did..."
    "Hannah, if we don't go now..." the other man said from behind her. She held up her hand to silence him:
    "Don't worry, Ziggy," she said, "I'm not going anywhere. I've got all day," a small smile crossed her face, "I've got seven years if you really want."
    Giles smiled too as he began.

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