the bunny warren v. Faith

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Feline Repose

Author: Venus Blue
Written: July 12, 2004
Pairing: None. Mentions of Olivia/Giles
Rating: G
Summary: What does an unemployed librarian do with his time?
Feedback: If you have to ask, you've never written a story before.
Distribution: At my site, The Bunny Warren. Probably FF.net, if I get really bored. Any lists who archive. Anyone who wants, please ask. I haven't said no yet.
Dedication: To Gloss, who is my ultimate Giles inspiration, and to Midnight. Thank you for keeping this Gentlewoman of Leisure occupied.
Awards: View award, View 2nd award, View 3rd award, View 4th award, View 5th award, View 6th award, View 7th award

What does an unemployed librarian do with his time?

Giles find himself questioning that more and more as the blistering weeks of summer roll along.

He is quite thoroughly unemployed now. Banished by the Council. He supposed “voluntary leave” suited his departure from Sunnydale High quite nicely, if not ironically.

He wasn’t terribly concerned about his finances; he had a decent amount of money stored away in savings and bonds. Boredom, however, and a deep loathing of staying still for too long, was beginning to set in.

The children all had better things to do. Buffy was in L.A. visiting her father, Willow and Oz hadn’t been seen for weeks, and Xander was traveling parts unknown.

It was only the second week of July, and Giles already missed them.

He’d taken to going for long walks through town. Sunnydale was growing and expanding almost every day, and he took the time to discover places he’d never seen before.

It was on one such outing that he discovered the park. It was quiet, with a few trees and a long stretch of green grass, benches, and a well-kept gazebo.

Despite the bright summer weather, the park was relatively uncrowded, and it was far enough from the main road to be peaceful.

It became a daily excursion for him, packing a light lunch and a book, and sitting for hours in the cool comfort of the gazebo.

It was during one of these quiet moments that Giles first spotted the cat.

He really was nothing more than a scrap of fur and a tail. Terribly scrawny, with the tip of one ear missing. At first glance, Giles thought it a pure black cat, and he allowed his mind to think on superstition and bad luck. Then the feline reared up on his hind legs to swat at a bug, and Giles spotted the long white streak running along his belly.

Maybe not such bad luck after all.

The cat never paid him much attention, though on occasion Giles did look up from his book to find those large yellow eyes trained on him, as though the cat was sizing him up.

In the beginning, it kept its distance, usually moving among the trees in search of squirrels or insects. But eventually as the days went on, Giles saw it grew bolder, venturing to the covered gazebo steps to sniff around and see what this now regular visitor was all about.

Slowly reaching into his bag, Giles removed the ham and cheese sandwich he’d fixed for himself before leaving the house. The cat studied him curiously, his stance making it abundantly clear he was ready to run if necessary.

Pulling the sandwich apart, he ripped one half into smaller pieces. Throwing gently, he aimed it toward the stairs. The cat’s eyes dilated, but he stood his ground, moving forward to sniff at the bread and meat.

“Go on,” Giles said softly. His voice was hoarse and scratchy, and he found himself wondering just how long he’d gone without speaking to another human being.

The cat wolfed down the sandwich hungrily, his neck moving rapidly as he fought to swallow.

Giles watched quietly, his forehead rumpled in a frown. He found himself sympathizing with this poor creature. Unwanted, and so cautious of being hurt.

Standing slowly, he moved forward, crouching down to pet his head.

The cat fled.

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

Before going to the park the next day, Giles stopped at the grocery near his house. He thought it a moot point; he assumed he’d scared the cat off for good.

But he hoped he was wrong.

Sitting down on the steps rather than the bench of the gazebo, Giles set his book beside him and removed his lunch from the brown paper bag. Slowly and carefully observing his surroundings, Giles’ heart fell. The cat was nowhere to be seen.

Finishing his sandwich and putting the cellophane into the bag, Giles sighed and picked up his book. Opening it to the bookmark’ed page, Giles began reading.

Two paragraphs down, he heard it. A loud scratching, and an audible “thud”. Glancing up quickly, he saw his friend, shaking his head rapidly with bits of leaf and twig stuck in his fur.

“Watching me from the tree, eh?” he said quietly. The cat looked at him with an almost bored expression.

Reaching into his bag, Giles removed a small package, wrapped in white paper. Unwrapping it, he set it at the foot of the steps and slowly backed away to the bench of the gazebo

The approach was slow, cautious as always. Keeping a close watch on Giles, the cat sniffed at the fish, his stance guarded and tense. Giles looked down at this book, watching from the corner of his eye.

Apparently finding no ill motive, he ate the meal, wolfing it down without another glance at the strange man.

And so a relationship was built. Giles stopped each day for fresh fish before heading to the spot, and each day the cat was waiting for him.

After awhile, the feline stuck around, cleaning himself on the stairs before stretching out luxuriously in the sun.

When he wasn’t resting or chasing prey, he sat, his back straight with the graceful posture only a cat possesses, and watched Giles with his large stern eyes and serious expression. He never drew near, and Giles never risked contact.

Then one day, in the late days of August, Giles threw caution to the wind. He set the fresh fish, cod this time, in the freshly mowed grass, and sat to one side of it, his back against the gazebo walls.

The cat sat under his usual tree, seemingly weighing out his options. He sauntered over to the package, sniffed it, then sat down, eyes on Giles again.

“Well?” he asked quietly.

He got a narrow-eyed glare for that before the tomcat started on his meal. This time Giles watched him eat, his book unopened on his lap.

When the last remnants of meat had been licked from the paper, the cat cleaned his paws and face, then stretched out only a few inches from Giles’ loafers.

A grasshopper suddenly landed near his leg, apparently roused from rest when the grass was cut. Golden eyes locked on it, ears became flat, and an attack stance was taken.

He was still for so long that when he finally did pounce, Giles laughed aloud in surprise. The cat paid him no mind as it bounced up on hind legs and twisted, playing with the insect.

After a few minutes of batting it around, the cat bit down on it. Giles frowned, and found himself saying, “Don’t do that, you don’t know where it’s been.”

He never thought a cat could look patronizing until that moment.

When the grasshopper ceased movement, ergo amusement, the cat lay back down, this time nearer to Giles’ right arm.

Hesitating for a split second, Giles reached forward, slowly stroking the soft fur between his ears. To his extreme surprise and relief, the cat did not run, nor did it hiss. It leaned into the touch, eyes closed as though in bliss.

The sat like that for some time before Giles’ arm grew tired from being stretched. Pulling his arm back to rest the muscle for a moment, he was surprised once more when his hand was followed.

The cat glared at him, apparently annoyed by the ceased affection. Leaning over his lap slightly, it head-butted his hand, making certain that Giles knew who was boss around here. Laughing, Giles resumed his strokes, alternately scratching under his chin and behind his ears.

When the time came for Giles to leave, he gathered his things slowly. Pulling his uneaten sandwich into several pieces, he laid them on the paper, giving his friend one last pet before departing.

“See you tomorrow,” he said quietly.

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

“Rupert?”

“Yes?” Giles said into the phone, trying to place the soft female voice.

“It’s Olivia.”

“Olivia! My goodness, how long has it been?”

“Too long. Listen, I’m going to be in California tomorrow, and I was wondering-”

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

By the time Olivia’d returned to England, and things with Buffy quieted down again, a number of weeks had passed. That was when Giles remembered his feline friend.

He arrived at the park late one afternoon, just before dusk. He sat by the gazebo, and unwrapped the fish, quietly waiting.

The cat never appeared.

And though he returned many times during the next few rather lonely months, he never saw him again.

He told himself that it was a stray, after all. He had no business feeding it in the first place, nor growing attached.

But on occasion, during some unguarded moment in the day, he remembered those large bright eyes and lean build, and he couldn’t help the pangs of guilt and regret that passed through him.


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