Point of View

by Wolfling

(Rated PG-13)


"You do that a lot, do you know?"

Xander turned away from the mirror to look at his lover leaning against the doorway. "What -- shaving? Yeah, pretty much every day." He cocked his head to the side. "You trying to tell me you want me to grow a beard?"

Giles shook his head. "I rather like you clean shaven. But I wasn't talking about the shaving. I was talking about the staring."

Confused, Xander frowned. "The staring...? I don't..."

"Whenever you get in front of a mirror, you... stare. You do whatever you're there to do and then you..." Giles gestured between the mirror and Xander. "Just stare."

"I do?" It wasn't that Xander wasn't aware that he got caught up in his reflection, he just thought he'd done a pretty good job of hiding this compulsion from everyone.

Giles just looked at him with one eyebrow raised, and Xander sighed. This was what he got for sleeping with someone whose profession -- and vocation -- was Watcher.

"All right, maybe I do," he admitted grudgingly. "It's just that... ever since... y'know," Xander gestured at the patch he wore to clarify what he meant, not quite able to bring himself to say since I lost the eye. "It's kinda..." He trailed off and ducked his head, not sure he could find the words to describe the weird desperate obsession he felt to stare whenever he saw himself until his reflection stopped looking like a stranger.

Giles stepped closer and lifted a hand to trace the outline of the eye patch where it rested against Xander's face. "It's difficult to get used to," he said quietly.

"Yeah," Xander said, a light shiver going through him at Giles' touch. Their relationship was still so very new that every touch Giles gave him affected him like that, even if there was a serious discussion going on that he should be paying attention to instead.

Like now for instance.

Dragging his mind back to the topic at hand, he hastened to explain. "It's not like I'm freaking all the time about it, or anything. Most of the time I am used to it. The headaches from eyestrain have pretty much gone away, and I've learned to turn my head if I want to see what's on my left, which, okay, probably took longer to get into my head than it should've, but it's there now. I think I've adjusted to the lack of depth perception pretty well -- okay, there was that one incident with the crossbow and your car, but it needed a new paint job anyway. I've got a whole bunch of new Nick Fury and pirate jokes just waiting to be dropped into the appropriate conversation. And it's not like anyone's been running away from me screaming, 'Unclean! Unclean!' Everyone's been pretty cool about it actually and I am so babbling, aren't I?"

"Perhaps a little, yes," Giles agreed with that faint smile that Xander had come to realise was an understated expression of affection.

It steadied him now, just as it always did. "Sorry. Guess it is still sorta a touchy subject. But I have got used to it, really. From inside at least." He took a deep breath. "But yeah, mirrors are different. Seeing it is different than dealing with it, y'know?" Xander turned back to the mirrors to look at his reflection again. "It's not like I don't know I'm going to see a one-eyed Xander when I look -- I'm not delusional or anything. But still..." He raised a hand up to touch the glass. "It feels like I'm looking at a stranger."

Giles moved behind him and reached around, resting his hands on the bare skin of Xander's stomach just above the towel he'd wrapped around his waist after his shower. Xander could feel the older man's heat against his back and automatically leaned back against him with a sigh.

"It's silly, huh?" he asked, watching Giles' face in the mirror and wondering what he was thinking.

"Not at all," Giles replied, tightening the lose embrace around his waist. "We all have a picture in our heads of ourselves, an image of how we look, of the face we show to the world. It can be disconcerting when something happens to disrupt that suddenly. When that happens, it can take time to reconcile our minds with the new reality."

"Huh." Xander looked at his reflection, the compulsion to stare suddenly seeming to make perfect sense. "Y'know, when you put it that way, it sounds a lot less... insane."

That earned him another one of Giles' small smiles. It was barely an upturning of his lips, but one that made his eyes sparkle, the kind that Xander had always noticed and recently become completely captivated by. "There's nothing insane about it," Giles assured him. "It's a perfectly normal reaction and one that's completely understandable."

"Well, yeah, when you say it in Gilesspeak, it makes perfect sense. It's just the Xanderspeak that's been going around in my head that's made it seem like I'm a total neurotic." He returned Giles' smile with a grin of his own in the mirror and was pleased to see that at least that still looked right.

As long as he didn't focus too much above his nose.

Normal, he reminded himself, it's perfectly normal. Still, normal or not, Xander didn't want to look at a stranger's reflection anymore just now, so he turned in Giles' arms to look at his face instead.

For a moment they simply regarded each other silently, something that Xander didn't think he'd ever get tired of. It was how their relationship had first begun to move from friendship to something more intimate -- first there had been covert glances from each when they thought the other wasn't looking, then secret glances exchanged as they had gradually become aware that there was interest on both sides. Covert glances had become not so secret looks, which had become long introspective gazing that shut out the rest of the world. Oh, there had been words and eventually touching as well, but whenever Xander thought about how he and Giles got together it was the looks that he remembered first and best.

Even now this was something that he loved to do; staring at Giles could be just as compulsive as staring at his own reflection albeit for totally different -- better -- reasons. Giles' face was completely familiar, literally more familiar than his own right now.

And yet, despite the familiarity, Xander was still discovering and cataloguing new details all the time. Things like the way Giles' eyes crinkled up at the corners when he smiled -- which he did a lot more since they'd got together -- or the way his mouth looked when he came, dropping open on a silent gasp -- and there'd been a lot more of that since they'd got together as well. He'd known Giles for almost a decade now, and these were things he was just now learning about the man. But all this new knowledge didn't make Giles feel different to Xander, it just made him feel more. It was like those hidden pictures, where you saw one thing until you turned you head just right or unfocused your eyes and suddenly there was something else. With Giles, the something else always took Xander's breath away.

He wondered idly, and then not so idly, what hidden pictures Giles saw when he looked at Xander.

And as still happened sometimes, Xander found the words falling from his mouth before he thought about saying them. "What do you see?" he blurted. "When you look at me?"

"What do I see?" Giles repeated, seeming to give the question serious thought. "I see a young man who has always had courage to do what he needed to. Someone who has always had an instinct for people and how they feel and think. Someone's who's learned when to speak up and when a silent presence will be more of a comfort. I see a man who's grown into his talents, who knows his talents and has confidence in them and himself. A man who knows how to laugh at anything and has dealt with all the hardships life has thrown at him with grace and humour. I see someone whose heart is so honest and giving, it continually amazes me. I see someone who captivates me in body and mind and is constantly surprising me and making me rethink the way I look at the world. I see-"

Xander couldn't hold back any longer; each word, each description that Giles had spoken seemed to have settled directly in Xander's heart and there was only so much of that he could take before he had to react. So he cut Giles off midword by leaning forward and kissing him, trying to put all his wonder, gratitude, awe and love into it. There was a lot of all four so the kiss quickly became very heated, which naturally led to other heated activities, which led to, after they'd managed to make it back to the bed, another chance for Xander to observe that silent gasp of Giles' that he'd become so fond of before doing some gasping of his own.

Later, when Giles had dozed off, Xander carefully slipped from his loose embrace and padded back into the bathroom to look at his reflection again. It was true, he thought, that he was never going to see the old Xander, the one that he still seemed to hold onto an image of somewhere in his head. He'd changed too much to be that Xander ever again -- and that would be true even if he hadn't lost his eye. Life changes and leaves its mark on you, and if the ubiquitous patch was more visible than some changes, that didn't make it the most important.

For the first time in a long while Xander gazed at his reflection and didn't feel like he was looking at a stranger. He wasn't the old Xander anymore, but he was still Xander. A new Xander that was a Watcher and trainer of Slayers, and who incidentally held the ear and the heart of the new Council Head. He was someone others trusted and relied on and looked up to. Someone that had one Rupert Giles in love with him.

From where he stood, the new Xander looked to be a pretty good guy.




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