Giles and Joyce share an otherworldly connection through art.
“You idiot!” exclaimed Rupert Giles, as he threw down his pencil again and reached for an eraser.
He had taken Figure Drawing three times at the Watcher’s Academy, but that had been years ago and he so very badly needed a refresher course. It was Halloween in Sunnydale, and Giles had only a few hours before mobs of people started showing up at the Magic Box, eating all his candy corn. Giles was not in the mood this year, and was counting on every single Scooby to show up and relieve him of the burden of retail sales. He had more important things to concentrate on, such as drawing this idol. The main thing he remembered from figure-drawing class was to start with a line, delineating the head and spine, and to go from there. He picked up another pencil and drew the curve of the head, the neck, the shoulders, the back, and then his pencil broke.
“Dammit!” he cursed, throwing it over his shoulder, where it hit the edge of the trash can and ricocheted against the wall, coming to a stand-still in the corner on the floor. Instead of picking it up, Giles reached for a new pencil. He’d sharpened a whole stack of them before beginning this project, knowing that things were bound to go wrong. Holding the new pencil a bit more carefully this time, he retraced the line that went from top of head down below the back. And he retraced it again. There was something about that line that just pulled him in.
“You know, Giles,” Willow said, coming to check out his work, “You could just take a picture and email it to the guy!”
“Piffle,” Giles responded. He liked to do things the old-fashioned way. In this case, it was an ancient Sumerian statue he was trying to draw, and he was relatively certain that taking a picture would steal the object’s soul, or if it didn’t actually have a soul then it would harm it in some other way, like taking a flash picture in a museum. There was a reason that was never allowed. The statue stood about one foot off the table, and gave Giles a look as if to say, “You and I have known each other for a long, long time.” He could never capture the essence in a photo, but he hoped that he could in a drawing. He wanted to send the drawing to an old friend in England, an expert in ancient Sumerian artifacts. His hope was that his friend could not only identify the statue, but aid him in understanding why it had mysteriously arrived at the Magic Box in a package with no return address. He squinted his eyes to draw the outline of the figure, and then began filling in the details and shading. The face, the most inscrutable part, that would come last. For now, he left it looking like a malformed pumpkin. In case he never finished the drawing, at least it would have a seasonal look.
A cold shiver ran down Joyce’s spine, as she sat in the dining room putting the finishing touches on a re-used, re-fitted Vampire’s costume, which Buffy needed for Halloween retail duties at the Magic Box. Joyce thought of the first time Buffy had worn that cape, when the family was still together and both she and Buffy’s dad had gone out with Buffy on Halloween. They’d come home with a pillowcase full of candy, and little Buffy had divided all the candy up between the three of them. She was such a sweet kid, always thinking of others. Now Buffy was so grown up, and for the most part didn’t need her mom anymore. Now that she was away at college, the house felt empty and larger than ever.
Empty Nest Syndrome might be a little easier to handle with a man in the house to keep me company, she thought. Buffy would be by in about ten minutes to fetch the cape, and Joyce decided to wait over a hot cup of tea. As the water heated in the kettle, she wondered why she was having tea at all. It must be the long-term influence of Mr. Giles. He was always drinking tea. Well, except for that one time when they’d shared a bottle of wine… Red covered Joyce’s ears and then her face as she suddenly remembered that night again. She’d worked so hard to forget it! And maybe she would have, if Buffy hadn’t become psychic one day and read her mind. Why, oh why, had she thought of Giles as a stevedore? And Buffy was right – what WAS a stevedore anyway? She must have known at some point, or she wouldn’t have thought it. Another shudder ran through Joyce’s body as she remembered, in vivid detail, Mr. Giles taking her so gallantly on the hood of that police car. And then her ears and face began to turn red from embarrassment, as it occurred to her that there was no way Mr. Giles was thinking of her as well.
Mr. Giles was, in fact, not thinking about Joyce. He was focused on the statue in front of him, now working on the face. As he filled in the details, it began to look increasingly humanoid. He retraced the lines along the waist, and a shudder ran through his hand, causing him to draw an erroneous line. He reached for his eraser again, and went to work with it. Then back to the face. It was starting to look familiar.
“Wow, Buffy’s mom!” exclaimed Xander, who’d just shown up for his stint at the register.
“Excuse me, what?” asked a flustered Giles.
“Why are you drawing Joyce?” Xander asked.
“I’m not!” he protested, and then looked at his drawing again. It was… well it was starting to look beautiful. The long dress, something that looked like an ancient Sumerian version of a feather boa… it reminded him of Joyce that night they’d made love on the hood of a police car. In fact, it was the spitting image of her on that night! What on earth had just happened? This ancient Sumerian statue must be a trickster goddess. He had been tricked into thinking about That Which He Must Never Think About. He might as well send his friend a pornographic tale of everything which had transpired the night of the Band Candy. This would not do. He tore the sheet of paper from the pad, crumpled it up, and threw it in the trash.
Joyce felt a sudden pain in her heart and was suddenly awash in grief. It was the grief of rejection, of having found her soulmate, confessed her love, and been laughed out of the room. All of this out of nowhere! Tears began to pour into her tea. Why did she feel this, when she didn’t even have a soulmate? The last time she had felt at all in love had been under the influence of Band Candy… that interlude with Mr. Giles had been so… so… was it he who was rejecting her? She couldn’t bear the thought, so she picked up the phone and dialed.
“Happy Halloween, Magic Box,” said Giles’ voice on the other end. So sexy! And suddenly Joyce had no idea what to say, so she hung up.
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