|Elle est déjà morte
Author: chaletfan PM
Giles left Faith and Xander alone in Two Step. This is why.Rated: Fiction M - English - Hurt/Comfort/Family - R. Giles & Faith L. - Words: 2,228 - Reviews: 1 - Favs: 2 - Follows: 1 - Published: 08-17-11 - Status: Complete - id: 7296799
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
She didn't say anything. Just pressed her lips together and stared at him. Something awful was in her eyes, a dark burning something that made him blink and count to ten inside his head and rub the crystal in his pocket with an uneven touch of his forefinger and thumb.
"Mother," said Giles, "I'm -" and he swallowed childishly and hated himself for it; a tic he thought was long dead had resurrected itself and it made him sick, "I thought – you were dead."
She sighed. It was long and loud and twice the size of her. A small curl of a woman, she had a cool sharp stare about her that still managed to make him crumble inside. "Rupert," she said, her voice all broken crystals and ice, "Rupert. You damn fool boy. Of course I'm not dead. I'm right here."
"You'll forgive me the oversight," he replied. A small smile played across his face. "I should have been more aware. I have come to realise that 'death' is no longer the finite concept it was once thought to be."
She stared at him. Her top lip lifted a little. "Don't lecture me Rupert. Don't bloody lecture me. You and your tomfool band of girls have ruined everything."
Giles didn't respond. Of every emotion the message from his mother had raised, he had never expected happiness to be one of them. Their relationship had always been awkward. Tight. No room to breathe. No room to step outside of the box and just be mother and so. Ever since he'd entered the family business.
"I always wanted to be a Grocer," he said finally. His voice was mild. He thought of Buffy and her ability to stand, stand against the world whilst it crumbled about her and come out fighting. He thought of Faith and her quiet, hard-fought for, control that had brought her out of the darkness. His girls. His Slayers. His warriors. He would not crumble in front of his former-mother. He would not.
His mother shook her head. Her hair, tight like the rest of her, didn't move. "Rupert," she said, so soft, so quiet, "Don't you wonder why I asked you to come? Why I made myself known after all these years?"
Giles shrugged. It was an insolent gesture and one which, he realised, spoke of his years in America. People in Britain didn't shrug. It was too overt for them. The most he remembered was a slight tilt of the head, a quiet genuflection of the voice, a mild well I just don't know. So he shrugged. Right now he shrugged in the most glaringly American manner he could think of and, just to ice the cake somewhat, he let his hands splay free, the fingers waggling. "Sure mom, I don't know." He knew that the mom would hurt her more than it hurt him. Words, he'd realised long ago, were fragmentary creatures. Only powerful when you let them be.
"Don't do that," said his mother sharply. "My God. Grandmother would have eaten you alive."
"Was she a Pahak?"
"A what?" The woman looked appalled. "Are you retarded?"
"That's pejorative. And also antiquated," said Giles. "For shame mother." He found his gaze wandering out of the window. A golf course. Grass trimmed with a fascist regularity. Pink. Too much pink for the sane to comprehend.
Of all the random places to be reunited with his familial commitments, he had never expected such an – such an anodyne setting. It was appallingly bourgeois. He shook his head, sorrowful for a moment, and then focused back on the woman in front of him. "Perhaps such terminology could even be classed as an Americanism should one wish to argue the toss and debate the roots of each language, presupposing of course that each is not a bastardized version of Proto-Cimarahic, which of course they are. However." His voice and stance suddenly sharpened. "My question was and remains, Mother, a perfectly valid query. Was Grandmother a Pahak? I know certain of them worked for the council? And that the council never … quite … overcame their more primal urges." He coughed, suddenly darkly amused. "I mean, of course, that the Pahak also struggled to overcome their more primal urges. I'm sure you understand. A mere slip of the tongue." A snort escaped him. "As it were." He forced himself to regain a semblance of respectability.
She pressed her fingers together, that familiar gesture that still, in all the familiarity and childhood memory it evoked, still brought him to silent fury. "Is that all mother?" He took off his glasses, cradling them briefly between his fingers, comforting himself in the mindless repetition of the movement. He had left Faith, Xander for this? And, a brief moment of confusion, was he really missing Xander? No. He was not. He would not sink so low.
Oh God he was. The two of them. All of them. He wasn't part of this world anymore. He wanted his Other World back. Wanted it back with a fire that surprised him.
Giles blinked and put his glasses back on and affixed a smile of inane politeness on his face. "You have money?"
"That's good," he said, cutting her off. "I wish you well Mother. Please excuse me." He turned his back on her and made to leave.
And then she cried out: "No!"
He didn't turn. "Awfully dramatic," he said, staring at the doorway and being mildly impressed by the work of the carpenter. This home – this people cage – was well put together despite the otherwise stupefying qualities of the décor.
"Rupert," she said, a little quieter now, and yet still cutting across the room. "I called you here for a reason. I'm dying. I don't have long to live."
"Right?" She stuttered slightly over the word. That, more than anything, made him turn around and lean nonchalantly against the door and look at the person who called herself his mother.
He nodded. "I'm not sure what else I can say. I mean, mother, you're-" and then he paused, unable and yet desperate to say that she had been dead to him for such a long time already. And bizarrely, awfully, he thought of Faith then, thought of their argument, thought of his damn fool actions with the Katra, and he knew he would see her again and beg her forgiveness. Because he did not end his relationships like that. Not in a world where people could be snatched away in the blink of an eye.
Jenny, oh Jenny, my forever love.
"I'm sorry. I truly am. But I have my work. And the Slayers. They need someone they can – a guide. Not a watcher. We don't – we can't stand aside and let them fall by themselves. These girls – these women. They need somebody to help them. Amazing as they are, they can't do it themselves. And in the absence of someone greater, I will do my best for them."
She shattered then; the dusk behind her blood rose red and her eyes stark pools of blackness against her pale white skin. "My boy," she said, "You f-fool."
"I won't stay mother" he said. "I'm sure you'd love me too but I can't. I have miles to go before I sleep. Quite literally. You'd have thought we could have picked somewhere nice for a base but you'd not imagine how stubborn these people can be. Save the world and they're all I'll make my castle here please thank you very much."
She didn't say anything.
"I might have ruined it all to come here. But one does when one receives a message from a long dead relative. Where did you go? Haiti? Like Father wished?"
"I tried to bring him back," said his mother sullenly. "I tried."
"And you failed." He was appalled. And a little disgusted. This wasn't his mother. She had died a long long time ago. "It is of no matter," he said, "Magick has a will." Oh but if she had succeeded? He swallowed. How awful that he could face demon and devil and heart-swallowing fear but his mother turned him into a quivering fool.
He took refuge then for a long quiet moment in his thoughts. His knowledge. Control. His hard fought for control and his harder fought for strength. And the woman who called herself his mother merely tutted and looked out of the window.
His mother. This should have been so much more. All he felt was a sad depression that this was all it was. That this was all it ever would or could be. His life was not what she knew. And then he realised something.
"Family," he said, "is what you make it."
And his family was waiting for him. He nodded politely at the woman. "I'll make sure you don't want for anything."
She opened her mouth to speak but he was already gone. With no sadness, no pain, just an awkwardly pleasing sense of relief. His mother had died many many years before. He'd made his peace with that and he'd hold that peace. He felt no sadness for the woman he'd left. Because his mother was already dead.
He found the receptionist, a blonde springy woman, roots the size of his hand, and he smiled. Buffy spoke in his head; his daughter-Slayer, and he knew the way her mouth would have tightened a little with repressed amusement and it made him smile in front of (he glanced swiftly at the shining little badge) Lurlene.
Lurlene. What a spectacularly unfortunate name.
"Good day," he said, charming as ever, "Please. The lady in room twenty-one. I would like to pay for her bills until she dies."
Lurlene gave him a look.
"Lurlene," he said, and, mildly embarrassed at what he was about to do, he swept his finger in front of her face. "This is the card you've been looking for."
"This is the card I've been looking for," repeated Lurlene. She ran Giles' black credit card through the computer, never blinking, and handed it back to him.
"Thank you Lurlene." He touched her arm gently and she blinked, owl-eye wide. "So, the bus leaves from outside?"
"Yes," she said, a little dreamily, still caught in the spell, "I – yes."
"Thankyou Lurlene. Most helpful. Have a nice day."
She wouldn't remember any of it. And there was no way in hell he was going on public transport. Giles walked halfway down the drive, glanced left and right, stepped behind a hedge, turned around slowly, and the landscape transformed into the headquarters he'd left a few weeks ago.
And he was stood right in front of Faith.
She raised an eyebrow. "Yo." Not one for words. Not one for betraying her surprise when mentors appear out of thin air. Not one for picking up the trust when it had been so awfully broken.
"Yo," he said, and then, not one to mess around, he said, "I'm sorry. I was a fool."
"You were that." Still brief. Still assessing.
"A damn fool. But I was terrified. The fear of an old man about to lose his family. And I couldn't cope with that. That's why I made the Katra. And I'm sorry Faith, I'm so sorry I abused your trust."
She didn't say anything.
He felt himself dance on the precipice of saying too much.
"Family?" said Faith eventually.
"Yeah. You. Buffy. Xander. And all of you. The Slayers. The Wiccans. Even that damn fool Slayer who won't eat anything which once had a heartbeat. Family."
She smiled then and it was like the light coming on the darkest day. "I read a poem once."
He grinned back at her, not a full grin, tentative, nervous, but so desperately hopeful that it made her weep inside. She hit him lightly on the arm.
"I read a poem once," continued Faith, "and there was a line that stuck with me. They fuck you up, your mum and dad."
He laughed. Couldn't help it. "You're telling me."
She grinned. The smile melted and was replaced by her heart-breakingly vivid grin. "Shut up. I'm not done. And I thought, there's something else there. If they fuck up the kids, then they're fucked up themselves. So we're all fucked up."
He nodded. Misfits. Everybody was equally messed up. Sometimes the hardest thing was realising it. Opening eyes to the world around you and realising you were no better or worse than any of the people you lived with. You just all were. And that was the most important thing.
"Fucked up," she said, and then she looked at him, eyes big, suddenly teary. "I missed you." And then she ran her hand over her stomach, an unconcious gesture that made his heart leap and fall all at the same time. "Welcome home Giles." A dark look of amusement. "You're going to be a grandfather."