Darkest Before Dawn
Rating: PG 15
Genre: Angst, Romance
Ship: Buffy/Giles, and canon ships, notably Giles/Olivia and Buffy/Riley
Characters: Buffy and Giles. Also, (in no particular order) Willow, Spike, Olivia, Dawn, Riley, Joyce, Xander and Anya. And a wee bit of Jonathan.
Summary: Follow-up to "After the Ball." Buffy and Giles slept together. Giles has issues about it. Much angst ensues. And I mean MUCH. Really. Will they ever be able to repair their relationship? Am I capable of writing a happy ending? Let's find out... Starts at somewhere around "Something Blue" in the canon timeline, and will probably go until late season 5.
Disclaimer 1: I like playing with other people's broken toys. These ones belong to Joss Whedon. They bring me no profit. Just fun.
Disclaimer 2: There are two issues on which my opinion is very adamantly neutral: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and abortion. If any of the characters in this story say or do anything that may be construed as expressing a particular viewpoint on either of those topics, that viewpoint is not my own, and is not intended to offend anyone. It's just what I think the characters would say/do in the situations I put them in.
Warnings: I was torn about how to rate this. It does deal with some adult subjects, but pretty obliquely. I'm including this warning just incase.
Feedback: Will make me love you forever.


You're scaring me, Giles.

The sun had just risen and already one could tell it would be a beautiful day. Like all days are in Southern California. All the days that aren't filled with smog, pressing down, making it impossible to breathe.

Giles was standing outside his door, trying to decide what to do about Spike. He was wondering if any of the information he may have wasn't worth saving, and if there wouldn't be too many questions when Willow and Xander found out that he had suddenly gone and staked him. He went inside.

You're scaring me, Giles. You've got a "we need to talk" vibe going on.

That's because we do. Need to talk.

You gonna tell me it was a mistake?

Yes...

Spike, not surprisingly, was just where he had been left, chained to the bathtub. A strip of duct tape was across his mouth. He raised his eyebrows at Giles when he came in.

Giles remained expressionless and silent as he unlocked the shackles. Then he left.

He heard a faint "Ow," and a moment later, Spike emerged, duct tape-free.

"I strongly advise you, Spike, to not go far," Giles said as the vampire walked across the room to the coat-rack by the door. "In case Buffy has more questions for you, and also that you fully cooperate if and when she does seek you out." Spike finished putting on his black duster and Giles tossed him his blanket. "If you would rather not, then it would be best for you to leave altogether."

"Yeah. Right." Spike scoffed. "You know, Rupert, pretending last night didn't happen won't make it so. Let's talk price."

Giles picked up a silver letter-opener from his desk and lightly traced absent-minded patterns on the blotter. "Price of what?"

"My silence." When Giles looked up at him with a blank expression he continued, "Otherwise I'll tell all your little friends what I overheard last night." He smirked. Still, Giles only looked back at him blankly. Spike rolled his eyes. "It begins with an 'Oh' and ends with a 'Giles.' Kind of makes me blush. Or it would if I was able to blush."

"Oh. Right." Giles nodded.

Spike quirked his eyebrows expectantly.

"I don't care, Spike."

The vampire looked at him askance.

"See, you're under the delusion that I have something left to lose. I don't." He started to slowly make his way to where Spike was standing, letter-opener in hand. "No slayer. No friends. No life. No morals, apparently. No one to tell me, 'Oh, you shouldn't, Giles.'" His eyes had something of a crazy glint to them now.

He threw the letter-opener at Spike's head. The vampire jerked out of the way.

Only not. Giles was still holding the letter-opener, and was laughing to himself. "All I have is a lot of free time."

Spike rolled his eyes, trying to regain his cool after being faked-out. "Yeah. Well, wish I could stay and while away the hours, but..." He opened the door and turned to leave. Then he was being swung around. The back of his head hit the wall with a crack and he yelled in pain; there was a letter opener in his shoulder. Giles turned it slowly.

"Hurt Buffy, Spike. Any way you can think of. Tell her mother I slept with her. Even just look at her the wrong way. I would love to have a reason to punish you. It might have something to do with projection or transference, I'm not sure. I'll have to look it up." Spike was looking at him with actual fear. Giles was impressed with himself. He almost smiled. "Well..." He tore the letter-opener out of Spike's shoulder, turning it down as he did, turning the stab wound into a gash. "Be seeing you."

He didn't need to push Spike out, the vampire was outside as fast as he could be. Giles closed the door behind him.

Then he went to the bathroom and threw up.

...This is about us. You and me. What do we have to do with history?

I'm trying to tell you. Just hear me out, alright? Then you can berate me to your heart's content, but just listen first. Historically speaking it's not uncommon for the slayer and watcher to h-have, um...

Sex?

An intimate relationship...

You're a hypocrite.

And it's never ended well...

Giles didn't know what time it was. He had fallen asleep for a few hours and when he had woken up his mind was painfully clear and sharp. He knew it was daytime. There were sunbeams falling on the carpet. He closed the shutters and headed for the liquor cabinet. It wasn't long before he had drunk his way through one bottle and had started on another.

There was knocking. Giles ignored it.

...After that there are a few cases of watcher and slayer falling in love, but they all followed the same pattern. They became each other's world. As romantic as that may sound, it's not healthy. It always ends in pain and jealousy and tragedy.

And you think we'll be the same. Conceited much?

Not at all. Nobody is going to approve of me. Your mother will want to kill me. Xander may also. He will certainly be "wigged out," as will Willow. They may very well end up avoiding us. Everywhere we go people will make assumptions about the nature of our relationship. Either that we're father and daughter, or something less flattering. When you run into an old classmate, will you say, 'Oh, you married Johnny from English class? How nice. I'm dating the librarian?' Can you imagine me taking you to a college football game? Or a party? Or coming by your dorm to pick you up Saturday night? You'd be embarassed. I wouldn't blame you. Haven't you always wanted a normal life? You won't have that with me...

The knocking continued until Giles couldn't stand it anymore and was compelled to answer the door.

It was Willow.

"The world had better be ending." Giles said.

Her face was stony and cold. "Are you leaving?" she asked.

Giles turned from her without answering.

Willow pushed the door open and followed him inside.

"Are you leaving?" she asked again.

"Yes," Giles muttered as he poured another drink.

"Why?"

"None of your business."

"Buffy told me what happened."

"Ah." Giles turned to Willow. She was glaring at him. He walked towards her, smirking sardonically. "I see. But I'm sorry to tell you, Willow, you're still too young for me."

"You're a jerkbag."

"I'm a very bad man."

"How can you act like this? How can you do this to her?"

"I didn't make her do anything," he said, guilt creeping into his voice despite himself.

"I meant leave her."

Giles looked down. "I don't want to..."

"No, I think you do," she said indignantly. "I think you're taking the easy out..."

Giles turned to her, surprised, anger flashing in his eyes. "You think this is easy for me?"

She continued over him, volume rising, "...instead of staying and living with the consequences of what you did!"

"What am I supposed to do?" he yelled. "I can't make it right. She won't ever want to see me again, will she?" he finished pathetically.

A sympathetic look crossed Willow's face momentarily before she masked it again. "No. There's nothing you can do. But she needs you. You don't get to run back to England and restart your life and leave her here to die because the next time the world is ending there's no one around to read the ancient text that tells her how to stop it."

She spoke quietly, but what she said affected Giles as if she had yelled it.

"Right. I...I'm sorry. I didn't think..."

"Well that's pretty damn obvious." Willow turned to go, leaving Giles even more guilty than he had been before. She paused at the door. "And Giles, incase she does come around?"

He looked up at her, abject and miserable.

Her eyes were ice. "Might be a good idea for you to be sober."

You won't have that with me. You'll only have vampires and demons and death.

Maybe I think you're worth it.

I don't. I don't think you really do either.

That was when she hit him.

He wouldn't see her. Maybe he'd never talk to her again. But he couldn't leave.