TITLE: Mending a Father's Wounds
TIME: A week or so after the series finale of "Buffy, the Vampire Slayer"
AUTHOR'S NOTE: My first piece of fanfic writing in MONTHS. Based off a dream I recently had resembling this fic so had to get it out of my system. And oh, yeah, the first fanfic I've written in years (it seems) that has nothing to do with Faith and Xander Kind of back to basics.
He stood there at the bus station, looking up and down the road to try and spot his ride. A lone suitcase sat by his feet; it was the only object he was lucky enough to claim as his own. He didn't have much left to claim. It had nothing to do with the fact the town he had once called his home was now gone. No, he had felt things had slipped out from under him long before that had happened.
He glanced at his plane ticket once more. After all he had been through, he should be glad to be going back to his 'real' home. But there was a sadness tinged in his emotions. After all, this was it. This was the true good-bye he had never thought he could face.
And the more ironic thing about it was that never did say 'good-bye.'
The bottom edge of the ratty brown long coat he wore ruffled in the wind, blowing off any remaining dust particles that had managed to stick to the material for this long.
Voices lingered in and out of his ears, the various tones and connotations filling the air. Some of it was nice conversation to pass the time. Some of it was hearty hellos and greetings of incoming visitors. And, of course, some of it was good-byes as their bus number awaited to take them to their destination.
A rubber ball rolled to his foot, hitting the side of his shoe. He looked down as it bounced back, slowly rolling the other way. He bent down and picked it up, looking up to see a young girl coming up to him, her hands outstretched.
"Is this yours?" he asked with a gentle smile.
The young blond girl with bright, innocent, blue eyes stared back up at him and nodded shyly.
He stared at her for only a moment, her looks and innocence reminding him of someone. His hand offered her the ball and she took it excitedly and ran back to her father.
Her father scooped her up, giving her a tight hug, asking if she wanted an ice cream from the nearby concession stand.
The hand that had held the ball dropped to his side as if it lost the will to be held up. He frowned slightly, turning away.
The older man started at the voice and he turned to his other side. "Good Lord," he murmured, automatically. He saw the same blue eyes as the little girl looking back at him; only it belonged to someone familiar and had lost that innocence. "Oh, Buffy… wh-what are you doing here?"
"What am I doing here?" the 20-something-year-old young woman said, an expression of almost hurt on her face. "What… what are you doing? Where are you going?"
The Englishman adjusted his glasses, not looking directly at Buffy as he spoke his next words. "Back to England," he answered. "It only seemed appropriate…"
"Appropriate?" Buffy cried, tugging at his arm. "Giles, there's no appropriate thing going on here. You're-you're leaving me… again."
"I'm not leaving you again, Buffy. I'm only going back to where I came from. You've made it quite clear that's where I belong." He couldn't hold the bitterness in his voice any longer. He had held it in him during the final battle with the First and its vampire minions. But all that had happened before then did not go down with Sunnydale.
Buffy sighed, staring off to her right, arms crossed. She seemed at a loss for words for a moment. "I… I need you."
Giles glanced over at his once pupil, a chuckle leaving his mouth before he could catch it. He received a sharp look from the Slayer at his reaction. "I'm sorry. But that seems like a moot statement after what you and I have been through recently, Buffy. You claimed you can handle all this yourself and that you do not need a teacher any longer, and I'm abiding by your wishes."
"What?" she asked, confused. Her brows drew together. "I didn't mean for you to leave."
"Really? Exactly why should I stay?"
"Giles, we just collected a bunch of newbies." She kept her voice down on purpose. "They need a teacher."
"Oh, I see." He nodded. "So it is for THEM I should stay." That wasn't exactly a winning persuasion by any means. "I've already spoken to the remaining members of the Council. All the girls around the world who have been called will have a place to be taught and mentored. The ones here can stay with you and the others until a Council member contacts you for further instructions on how to go about this. I assure you, I am not abandoning the cause or my destiny, but I don't need to be here to fulfill that."
"Is this about Spike?" Buffy suddenly blurted, anger in her voice. "Is this why you wanna just up and leave me with this huge responsibility? This is some sort of punishment?"
Giles face suddenly fell, hurt showing through the slight wrinkles of his face. "My Lord, Buffy, we have lost touch." He sighed, sticking the ticket into his inside pocket. "My bus is here."
"You didn't answer my question," she intoned, her voice wavering.
"Because you didn't ask one," Giles stated. "Just because it has a question mark at the end, it doesn't mean it is one." He picked up his suitcase only for a hand to stop him from lifting it. He looked at Buffy, his own anger bubbling up in his chest.
But there were tears in the blue eyes that looked back at him and for a split second, the innocence had matched the little girl's.
"What's happened to us?" Buffy whispered.
Giles kept her gaze for a moment then looked away. "Loss of respect," he answered. "Loss of trust."
"No." She shook her head. "Giles, no… I trust you. I respect you."
"No you don't," he said. "You said so yourself that there's only one person you could trust, and he's gone now. And any respect you have built up for me through the years has not shown since I arrived."
"Giles, you tried to kill Spike," she said, though she didn't say it harshly.
He paused a moment. "I did, yes. And I don't regret it." He sighed. "You and I both know we have done things neither of us has liked in the past, but it did not mean we lost both trust and respect for each other. Once a Slayer loses that in her Watcher, they are no longer of good use to one another." And truth be told, he did not want the vice versa to happen. He tried to pick up his suitcase again.
"Giles, no, please…" There seemed to be a sudden desperation in her voice that she was no longer hiding. The reality of her Watcher's departure was beginning to sink in even deeper. "I'm sorry. I-I don't know what I was doing, how I was hurting you. You and Willow and Xander…" The tears began to flow freely down Buffy's cheeks and she suddenly lost the strength to keep his suitcase in one place. "I just… I kept thinking I was doing the right thing, that I was just gonna somehow make you proud by saving the world, and I was going to do it no matter what. That after all this, it was going to be okay in the end. Like it always was"
Giles finally stood up with the suitcase, his face indifferent. Even though, it was tearing him apart to see her lose her emotions like that; it always had. And no matter how hurt he had been by her actions and words, he could see she was finally seeing her faults. He looked around the station a moment and found himself putting his arm around her shoulders. "Buffy, I am proud of you. There was no need to even try - "
She shook her head, breaking out from under his hold and her arms suddenly being thrown around him. She buried her face into his chest, sobbing heavily now. "I do trust you, Giles. And I do respect you. Please believe me."
"Oh, Buffy…" It came out as a cracked whisper and he found himself dropping his suitcase and hugging his Slayer tightly. His own cheeks were suddenly dampened by his tears. There had been so much he wanted to say, but maybe they would remain silent for a time. "Shhh..."
"Please, Giles. Just stay. I'll make it better between us. I'll make it like it was before; I so want that. I can't lose you…"
Suddenly, Giles was thrown back in time in his mind to where she had murmured the same thing to him after Jenny had been murdered by Angelus. Those words had cut him so deeply back then – and they had the same effect now. He hugged the young girl tighter.
"Please let me make this better," Buffy pleaded.
Giles could only nod, hoping she could feel his motion as he couldn't find the words that could express the relief he was feeling at the moment. He couldn't leave this chance before it was taken.
The little girl and her father passed by them, the girl remembering Giles from earlier. "She's crying," she told him, seeing Buffy's tears.
"Yes she is," he replied. "I'm sure she'll be okay, though."
Giles looked up a moment.
The girl looked back at him, giving him a smile. "Yeah 'cause Dads always take care of their girls, right? Then things get better."
Her own father nodded as Giles watched them walk by. He pulled back, ignoring the wet patch on his overcoat. He reached down to take his suitcase and knew that he couldn't do this to Buffy. In truth, he couldn't do this to their relationship, "Come on," he said, his other arm still around Buffy as she wiped at her tears.
She looked up at him, tears still brimmed her eyelids then smiled slightly. It was a smile of relief, sadness, and understanding. An understanding this was a beginning to mending wounds.
He glanced back at the bus that would've taken him to the airport. He watched as it pulled away, the exhaust fumes puffing out of the tailpipe and leaving with one less passenger…