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The Hope Chronicles - Chapter 1
With a Little Hope

Author: Venus Blue
Written: 2001
Series: The Hope Chronicles
Summary: Giles is feeling very alone lately. A new person in his life could be just what he’s looking for.
Rating: PG
Spoilers: None. Set sometime after "Hush," but before "Buffy vs. Dracula."
Feedback: You really don't want me to beg.
Disclaimer: I own nothing but Hope. Joss Whedon is the lucky bloke who owns the rest. The song belongs to Sarah Mcclachlan, even if I did misspell her name.

As Giles walked along Main Street, his head was deep in thought.

He thought of all of his "children," the teenagers who he’d cared after and looked over for so long. He thought of Willow, his protégé, so lovely and so strong. She grew more everyday.

He thought of Xander, the boy he’d come to think of as a son. He and Anya made a strange, yet adorable couple.

Couple, he thought to himself. Such a strange word. Couple of what? Lovers? Friends? Peas in a pod?

Get a grip, Rupert. You’re babbling.

He shook his head, and thought about Buffy.

She’d grown so much from the young girl who’d walked into the library so many years ago. She was strong, confident, and headstrong. Most of all she was independent.

She didn’t need him anymore.

He sighed and took his glasses off to clean them with his handkerchief. Buffy was a wonderful girl, and he was proud of her for all she had accomplished. But it saddened him that he was no longer useful in her life.

"Maybe I should go back to England," he thought aloud, putting his glasses back on his nose. As he looked up, he ran straight into a young woman rushing by.

"Oh!"

"Oh!"

She dropped the package in her hands, and he leaned over to retrieve it. She did the same, and they slammed their heads together.

"Oh!"

"Oh!"

She fell gracefully to the ground, and clutched her head. He followed suit.

"Oh, dear, I’m so clumsy. My apologies. Are you alright?"

She started laughing and said, "Oh, I’m fine. I’m the biggest klutz in the world. I wasn’t looking where I was going. Are you alright?"

He joined in the laughter and said, "Oh, yes, I’m fine. Just a little bruised."

He helped her up and handed her the package.

"Thank you so much. I’m Hope Anders."

"Rupert Giles."

She shook his hand, and he noticed how soft her skin was. She was incredibly beautiful. She had long curly blonde hair, and bright blue eyes with a hint of gold. She wore a long black skirt, tasteful purple top, and clunky black heels. Normally, Giles wasn’t attracted to someone as obviously young and frivolous as her, but there was something special about her.

"Well, sorry about running you over," she said. "I’ve got a class in twenty minutes."

"Oh…well…I…" he stuttered, tripping over his words. She looked at him, amused.

"Yes?"

"I’m usually not this forward, and I know we just met, but-"

"Would you like to come over to my house for dinner sometime?"

Giles blinked.

"Why, I, uh, well-"

"How about Friday night? Say, around 8:00?"

"I, uh-"

Before he could respond, she’d pulled a scrap of paper from her purse, along with a pen, and scribbled down her phone number and address.

"Here’s my address. Call me if you get lost. I’ll be expecting you."


********************


"Giles, you have a date?!"

As Buffy, Willow, and Xander stared at him open-mouthed, Giles looked from one jacket to the other, trying to pick one.

"Yes, is that so strange?"

"YES!" they said in unison.

He looked at them, exasperated, and said, "I’ve had girlfriends before."

"Which reminds me," Buffy said, "whatever happened to Olivia?"

A pang struck in Giles’ heart, and he said, "Olivia’s decided not to come back. After the…adventure…with the Gentleman, she thought Sunnydale a bit too hairy for her."

There was quiet for awhile, then Willow said, "So, who is she?"

"Beg pardon?" Giles, said, picking up the blue jacket. Berk, he thought. I guess I’ll just wear this one.

"The girl you’re going out with. Who is she?"

"Oh, she’s a lovely young…woman," he said, realizing his mistake immediately.

"Young?" Buffy said, jumping up. "How young?"

"Oh, she’s…you know…young…" he said, turning from them.

"Check out G-man, going for the cradle."

Giles shot him a look and said, "She’s not that young."

"What’s her name?"

"What is this, the Spanish Inquisition? Look, I must leave now if I want to get there on time. I’ll give you an update on the, uh, smoochies, tomorrow."

The gang smiled at his use of the word ‘smoochies,’ and followed him out of the house.


********************


"Rupert, hi! Come on in."

Hope held the door open, and motioned him inside. Hesitantly he came in, and saw her apartment was modestly furnished, but beautiful.

"It’s a little messy. I was going to straighten up a bit, but dinner took longer than expected, and-"

"Oh, no, it’s fine. I think it looks very nice in here."

"Thank you," she said, flashing a 100-watt smile. "Can I take your jacket?"

He handed it to her, and she hung it up in the hall closet.

"I brought this," he said, handing her a bottle of red wine. "I didn’t know what you were serving, but-"

"Oh, I’m sure this will be fine. Please, make yourself comfortable."

She disappeared into the kitchen, and Giles went into the living room.

Hope had a beautiful apartment. Her couches were white leather, and she had beautiful artwork on her walls. There was a large bookshelf on one wall, and a small entertainment system in the corner. Music filtered through the speakers, a low and soothing woman’s voice that Giles thought he recognized.

If all the of the strength and all of the courage
Come and lift me from this place
I know I can love you much better than this

Giles walked over to the shelf, and looked at some of the book spines. Alarmed, he grabbed one of the titles.

"Dinner will be ready in just a couple of….Rupert?"

He looked up at her and asked, "Where did you get this?"

She looked at the book in his hand. It was a thick book, with the word "Vampyr" in embossed letters on the front.

She blushed furiously and said, "I…okay. You found me out. I have a hidden passion for the occult. I’m fascinated by it."

"But this is…where did you get it?"

"Used bookshop. They had all sorts of ancient texts, for extremely cheap prices. Why?" she asked, seeing his face.

"I just…I didn’t think there were that many copies. This is a very rare book."

She smiled and took it from him.

"Really? Is it worth a lot of money?"

He smiled gently and said, "You don’t seem to need much in the way of money."

Her smile faltered slightly, and she said, "Well, when my father died, his life insurance all went to me."

"Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t-"

"It was a long time ago, before I moved here. It’s alright. Let’s eat."

He cocked his head, and watched the intriguing young woman walk back into the kitchen.

"Can I help?"

"No," she called. "Just have a seat."

He sat at her dining table, and picked up the corkscrew. He grabbed the bottle of wine, and carefully popped the cork. He poured two glasses, and lit the candles with his lighter.

She came out with two plates, and set one before him.

"This looks wonderful. What is it?"

"Veal Parmesan, with angel hair pasta. It’s the one fancy meal I’m good at. I’m more a mac and cheese kinda girl."

"It smells delicious."

She sat down across from him, and they began to eat and talk.

"So, what do you do?"

He sighed uncomfortably.

"Well, I was a librarian. At Sunnydale High School. But…"

"It blew up?" she said helpfully.

He laughed and said, "Well, yes."

"And now? You’re…retired?"

"Well, yes."

"I think that’s great. You’re enjoying life, right?"

He looked down at his plate, and said, "Oh, um, yes, of course."

"That sounded a bit hesitant."

He smiled and said, "Yes, well, feeling a bit, uh, you know-"

"Unneeded?"

He looked up at her and said, "Well, yes."

"I believe that," she said softly.

There was silence for a few minutes, then he said, "So, what do you do?"

"Oh, well, I’m a teacher, actually."

"Really?" he said, genuinely surprised.

"Thought I was a student, huh?"

"Well, I…yes."

"A lot of people think that. I graduated from college at 20, and I was a T.A. for a couple of years. Now I’m a high school teacher, and I’m working on my bachelor’s."

Giles was speechless.

"I…I’m amazed. You seem so…"

"Young?" she said, laughing. "I was in the top five percent of my class. Everyone was amazed by how far I got so fast."

Giles stared with wonder at the amazing young woman across from him.

She blushed at his gaze, and looked down at her plate.

"So, where did you move here from?"

"I lived in Massachussets with my father, before he died. I wanted to get out, and I decided to a change of scenery would do me well."

"That’s a fairly big change. Opposite coasts and all."

A look crossed Hope’s face that Giles couldn’t quite place.

"Well, I thought, California. Nice change of pace, you know? The land of the beautiful people."

"That it is. A bit too dry for my taste, but…it’s grown on me."

"How long have you lived in America?"

"Since 1997. I was a curator in a museum in Britain, and decided to move to America on a whim. I got the job at Sunnydale High, and when it…was no longer there, I was fairly at a loss."

She smiled, and Giles was again entranced by her features. She had a fabulous smile.

"I know the feeling. My father was my whole life. When he died, I stopped caring about a lot of things. I almost didn’t want to continue with my teaching career. It took a lot to overcome it, and I’m stronger for it."

"And your mother?"

There was no mistaking the expression of pure pain that muddled her features. Giles immediately regretted the question.

"I didn’t mean to pry-"

"No, no, it’s alright. I was taken away from her when I was 10. I went in search of my father, and he welcomed me with open arms. I never heard anything more from or about her. I think it hurt my father to even think of her or my sister."

"Sister?"

"Would you like some more wine?"

"Certainly," Giles said, noticing her discomfort.

She poured them each a little more wine, and said, "I used to be very close with my sister. Unfortunately, when child services took us from my mother, we were separated, and I haven’t seen her since. When I finally did get the courage to try to find her, my mother had already died, and there was no way to contact her."

"So you never did find her?"

After a moment’s hesitation, she said, "No. I keep hoping, but I haven’t been able to locate her."

They ate in silence for a few moments, then found lighter subjects to discuss.

After they had dessert, Giles helped her clear the table and clean up, and then they sat in the living room to drink tea.

"It’s refreshing to find someone who drinks tea, not coffee."

She made a face, and said, "Coffee is not for me. Tea is much more soothing, and it helps me unwind after dealing with high school children all day."

He laughed heartily, and said, "That’s very much what I used to say after a day of dealing with the children who frequented my library."

It felt good to laugh. He hadn’t felt this good since…well, since Jenny. Hope was refreshing, and fun to be around. Giles felt himself loosening up, and he removed his jacket and examined her extensive music collection.

"You have excellent tastes," he said. "May I?"

"Feel free."

Having learned from dealing with Buffy and Xander how to use a CD player, Giles put in Pink Floyd’s "Dark Side of the Moon," and turned it up slightly.

She smiled and asked, "Have you heard of the Wizard of Oz trick?"

"Wizard of Oz?" he asked quizzically.

"Yes, you play this album while watching the movie on mute, and it goes together. It’s eerie."

"Now, who on earth sat down to figure that out?"

She laughed and said, "Someone very bored. I’ll have to show you one day."

The idea of spending a day watching movies with Hope made Giles smile even wider, and he said, "I’d like that very much."

Before either of them realized it, it was midnight. Giles stared, shocked, at the wall clock.

"How on earth did it get so late so soon?"

Hope laughed and said, "I have no idea. I was having such a good time, I didn’t even realize!"

Giles slid into his jacket and said, "I had a wonderful time. I haven’t had this much fun in….well, a long time. Thank you."

"No, thank you. It felt good to unwind and enjoy another’s company for a change."

She walked him to the door, and there was a not-too-awkward pause as he turned to her.

"I’ll see you again?"

"I’ll call you."

She tilted her head slightly, and he lowered his lips to hers. The kiss wasn’t much, nothing more than a meeting of lips, but it made Giles’ head spin.

"Good night, Rupert," she said, closing her door.

~The End


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