Also Comes in Strange
Stand Alones    Ficlets    Drabbles   Series    Essays    By Pairing

Title: Watching the Watcher
Author: Tania
Pairing: Giles/Darla
Summary: Darla knows where Giles goes when the children aren't looking.

She’s shed the schoolgirl outfit. Her hair is pulled up more severe than she’s worn it in ages. It suits her, reminds her of her age in a way that makes her proud to have lived centuries beyond what she’d expected. She powders her face a little darker than she prefers, no desire to be given away too soon. The dress is modern, neutral tones. There will be no red tonight. Her heels are short, almost flat and it takes some getting used to walking in them. She thinks she is the little girl playing dress-up in reverse, less knowing, more chaste. She stops short of adding a purse.

It’s a quiet corner coffee house. She’s seen him here before, knows it’s a hideout that the watcher doesn’t tell the children about. Not much chance of running into the slayer here. She’s not afraid, just not ready. She’s not faced a slayer in years, no grand hurry now. The Master has plans to that end, she won’t interfere just yet. She has her own games to play.

He looks tired, worn. That’s good. He’ll be more inclined to leave as the crowd thickens, movies letting out, youth filling the Bronze, the older set will come in soon. She knows this one well enough, she’s seen his one man show enough times to know that he plays for himself, not the masses. When they start clapping he’ll be done, he doesn’t seek the spotlight.

She almost gushes, but decides that coming on strong won’t work with the Watcher, he’d be suspicious within a minute. She’ll let him come to her. She sits in the back, pretends to sip at an espresso. She thinks it would have been better if she’d ordered something milky, smoother, more approachable. He comes over anyway. Sits next to her on the faux leather couch, nods and smiles when she says she enjoyed the set and quietly adds that it was even better than the week before. He blushes completely, even his fingertips take on a rosy glow under her stare. He tries to excuse himself but she puts a hand on his arm, he doesn’t notice the coolness of her skin only the burn from the espresso mug. He blushes again.

He never leaves with the women who come on to him, doesn’t seem aware that he has a charm despite the out of date suit and stiff manner. Darla’s been around long enough to know that he wasn’t always this way. Few watchers are. The academy always targets those who were a little hard in their youth, they think to tame them but demand that some of that fire stay. Those are the ones that usually survive. She thinks of a dozen watchers that died at her hand, or at the hands of the Order, they were already weak. She doesn’t think to kill this one, at least not right away, maybe before she kills Angel, maybe after. She’s not sure what she wants from him, not sure how far she’ll go, but each Thursday night she pulls her hair back and darkens her skin and watches the show. She just wonders how long it will take before he actually looks back and sees her.