This is a one-off drabble that hit me this lunchtime as I ate a sandwich and daydreamed. It then nagged at me like a persistent gnat until I had to put it down. I am going to buy myself a twelve-bore and go out shooting those damn plot bunnies! Enjoy!
The pile of books wasn't as heavy as it looked, but it was certainly awkward enough. It was also rather tricky to balance it on one upraised knee, grab the topmost volume and return it to its rightful place in the shelves. Of course Rupert Giles had years of experience doing this, but it was still a bit of a bugger and he cursed softly as the pile came perilously close to overbalancing.
Pausing to pant and adjust the pile he lifted it again and walked on, glancing at the stacks to each side of him. When he reached one marked: 'Psychology S – Z' he turned right and paced down alongside the shelves.
Right, there it was, the gap between "Systematic Nervous Diseases" and "Talks on Shoe Maintenance." He paused, brought his knee up again, shifted the weight onto it, grabbed the topmost book and slotted it into place. Then he sighed again, grabbed the pile carefully and turned around to walk away.
Then he stopped dead and frowned. There was an odd purple light at the corner of his eyes and for a moment he thought that he could feel a breeze around him. "Sod," he muttered, did the balancing act with his knee and the books again and reached into his coat pocket to pull out a small cube with his free hand. Shaking it free of pocket fluff he peered at it. "Sod," he said again. That was the problem with working in libraries, odd things happened in them.
The Watcher replaced the cube in his pocket, grabbed the books in both hands again and hurried off. Refiling the books would have to wait. He turned the corner and then things got rather complicated as he walked into what appeared to be a waist-high red sack of butter. The books went one way, he went another and the red thing said something that sounded suspiciously like "Ook," before falling over.
When the world had stopped spinning enough Giles opened his eyes and stared at the ceiling. "Ow," he muttered. He could vaguely hear a shuffling noise off to one side and then suddenly a large sad face came into view. It was framed with red hair and regarded him with sorrowful eyes and a remorseful grin that contained a lot of yellow teeth. "Ook," said the apparition.
"No, no, all my fault," replied Giles as he blinked dazedly and then shook his head to get rid of the clanging in his ears. " I should have been looking where I was going. I think that the thaumometer reading must have been a bit off."
A pair of red hands reached out and gently but firmly picked him up and dusted him off, before turning to the task of carefully collecting up the scattered books. Giles adjusted his glasses and peered at the figure. "Good God," he said after a moment, "It's you! I haven't seen you since that business in Constantinople."
The red figure stooped and looked at him carefully before showing even more teeth and waving a finger the size of a banana under his hose. "Eeek!" It said excitedly and shook him by the hand. Then: "Ook?"
"Well it was a few years ago," said Giles defensively as he scratched the grey hair at his temples. "Plus I am a full-time Watcher now, with a Slayer who'd make anyone's hair turn not grey but white. Plus there's a Jedi Knight here and a werewolf."
The figure nodded sympathetically and then started to pile up the scattered books again, pausing to run a sorrowful finger over a cracked spine. "Ook."
Giles sighed and took the book. "I'll get it rebound," he sighed. "They do terrible things to their books here, you know. One came back the other day with a dried frog as a bookmark. Another had some kind of cheese in it. Rinjswand or something like that."
"Ook!" said the figure mournfully and then picked up the stack of books effortlessly. Then it looked around. "Ook?"
"I'm afraid not," said the Watcher. "Londinium's almost on the other side of the planet. No, this is Sunnydale. Thing is, it's a hellmouth as well, which I help to guard-"
"-yes, I know, you can never get the stains out and the drycleaning's a bugger, but, um, I'd say that the hellmouth might have had an effect on your trip through L-space."
"Ook," said the figure in a very small voice.
"Yes, I head about the boots as well. I always did wonder what happened to him. Well at least you know enough now to avoid that reality on your trip."
The figure thought hard and then nodded. "Ook," it said in a more cheerful voice. Then it looked at the books, transferred them to its feet and climbed up the stacks with its forearms along. "Ook?"
Giles smiled. "Thank you very much. I never did have the reach to put away some of the books on those taller shelves. This way?"
The two librarians moved off deeper into the heart of the library.