Title: How to Measure a Man
Author's Name: Laura Sichrovsky
Fandom: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Rating: PG-13 for the language Giles uses.
Warnings: Not unless computers scare you.
Spoilers: This takes place right after Giles is fired in season three. It gives spoilers for the episode, Helpless.
Disclaimer: This is where I put the statement saying that I do not own Buffy, Giles (Heh! I wish!), Sunnydale, or anything relating
to the show. No one is paying me to do this and if you feel the sudden urge to send me gifts, you might want to talk
to someone about that. Joss Whedon owns all things Buffy and has not given me permission to use these characters
as I have so if you have problems with the story, please send the pretzel bombs to me, not him.
Summary: Giles gets an e-mail from Quentin Travers that upsets him enough that he writes a reply.
Author's Notes: I know, Giles and e-mail aren't two things you really think of as going together, but the idea got into my head
and I couldn't get it out. Giles never really got a chance to fire back at the stupid man who fired him. I rather
like the idea that he might get to do it somehow. So, here it is. Thanks need to be given, and here is
where they go. Thanks to Joss for creating characters so fun to watch and to borrow for a bit. Thanks to Tony
Head for making Giles so amazing. I tried to fight it, but he was just too remarkable not to fall for. Big thank
yous to my sister, Kristen the Beta Goddess. She takes my ramblings and puts them in some readable order. I
could never write without her help and I would never want to try. Love ya! To Janet, who helped with the details,
to Ann and Nikki, who called me on my mistakes, helped me find my inner Brit, thank you, thank you,
and…oh yeah, THANK YOU! Thanks to my amazing husband who not only doesn't get upset when my writing
takes over, but who doesn't freak about the men who live in my head. I love him so.
Note on the e-mail addresses in this story: Fanfiction wouldn't let me put an actual e-mail or even the at symbol in this story, so the e-mails have been spelled out with spaces.
How to Measure a Man
Rupert Giles stared at the computer screen in front of him, his jaw clenched in repressed anger. The object of his wrath was oddly enough, not the computer itself, although Lord knew he had reason enough to hate the blasted machine. No, today the cause of his barely restrained rage was an e-mail he had received.
Giles as a rule avoided computers and everything associated with them like the plague, but his job as librarian required a certain amount of contact with other schools and literary sources. And so, he'd been given an e-mail account and he'd been forced to use it. He felt his anger building, so he took a deep cleansing breath, looking up from the computer to scan his library.
"Giles, are you all right?" The timid voice belonged to Willow, who was sitting three computers down from him. Her brows were furrowed with concern. "Is there a problem with the computer?"
"No," Giles sighed, striving mightily to keep his temper in check so as not to scare the girl. This wasn't, after all, her fault. "I'm just not pleased with this e-mail."
"Is that the one from the Council?" Of course she knew the contents of his e-mail box; she was the one who opened it for him every day, sparing him a losing battle with the mail server. Willow had gone back to her webpage, but Giles could tell from her expression that she was still listening to him.
"It's not from the Council. It's from Quentin Travers."
"The guy that fired you?"
Oh, yes, that was exactly what Giles wanted to think about right now. He closed his eyes again, breathing and conjugating Latin verbs until the desire to hit something subsided.
"Yes, he was the one who was here for Buffy's Cruciamentum."
Giles was muttering choice swear words under his breath when Willow broke into his thoughts again.
"Well, what does he want?"
"He wants…" Giles paused, feeling the anger building again. "He wants my opinion."
"On Buffy, Wesley, Faith; on everything."
"Well, that's just mean," Willow said sympathetically, looking at him. "He fires you, now he wants your help? That's just wrong."
Giles nodded, gritting his teeth again. She was right; it was wrong. And what was worse was that part of him suspected that was why Travers did it in the first place. It was a way of reminding him what his place was now, that he was no longer the Watcher, but just the librarian who was watching the Watcher. The injustice of it all rankled him. He had done his job as Watcher to the best of his ability, and he felt that he wasn't being arrogant in thinking that he had done an excellent job. Even Buffy, who was not usually given to praise, had commented that she couldn't do this job without him. And yet, Travers, with almighty conceit, had the gall to tell Giles that the very things that made his relationship with the Slayer work were the reasons that he could no longer do the job. And now, as if that were not enough, there was this e-mail. Giles read it over again, clenching his fists in renewed anger.
To: RGiles at Mail. Sunnydale. K12. Ca. Us
From: QTravers at WCofBritain. org
Subject: Asking Your Opinion
While I do not approve of you having continued contact with the Slayer, there is little I can do to prevent it. Wyndam-Pryce tells me that while you do talk to her more than he would like, you have not tried to interfere with his authority. I appreciate that. I would also appreciate if you would do the Council a favour. I trust that we can be professional about this. Being as this is Wyndam-Pryce's first assignment, I find myself wondering if his reports are telling us the whole story. I would be grateful if you could share your opinions of him and the situation with me. Thank you for your continued cooperation.
Giles looked up from the screen, a decision made. Travers wanted his opinion? Fine, he would give it to the man; he would give Travers his whole, uncensored opinion.
"Willow, how do I reply to this e-mail?"
To: QTravers at WCofBritain. org
From: RGiles at Mail. Sunnydale. K12. Ca. Us
Subject: Re: Asking Your Opinion
I'll never understand why you persist in asking for my opinion on a subject when you have already proven that you value it so little. I'm not sure what you hoped to gain by asking my take on the new Watcher. My honest opinion is that it is not Mr. Wyndam-Pryce that is the problem; it is the Watcher's Council as a whole. But somehow I think you knew this would be my answer. I could list the many ways that the Council is in the wrong here, but I doubt that you would either listen or care.
What is my opinion of the situation? My opinion is that you are a short sighted, vindictive, narrow minded, pillock, who can't see past his personal dislike for me and my Slayer. Yes, my Slayer. You can fire me, you could even deport me and you know that in the end, she'll still be my Slayer. Galling, isn't it? A Slayer who can think for herself and a Watcher who couldn't give a rat's arse about the Council's opinions. And there isn't a thing you can do about it. That must really make you feel weak. And yet, I find that I can live with that.
You asked my opinion about Mr. Wyndam-Pryce. I don't think that he will ever be able to understand his charges, thus, he will never be able to engender their loyalty. I know that this is irrelevant to you, but this will mean that he will be relegated to being an ineffectual Watcher. Buffy and furthermore, Faith, will never take him seriously, never trust him, because he is too busy reading from the manual to listen to them. I also think that you sent him here, knowing that he would fail. Sending a Watcher who has never faced a vampire outside of, "controlled circumstances" to a Hellmouth? Even you can't be that daft. With all the other Watchers you could have chosen, you send this one. Was it because you could trust him to follow the rules? No, I'm thinking it was meant as a slap to Buffy and furthermore as an insult to me, a way to let us know just how much the Council values us. And I thought you'd outgrown your imbecilic phase.
What is my opinion of the situation? My opinion is that Buffy and Faith are growing into amazing women who do their job with grace and power. They constantly amaze me with their stamina, commitment, and creativity. I think the world is a safer place because these women, these warriors have chosen to put what they want behind the needs of what must be done. I could not be prouder of them. My opinion is that the Council should be forever grateful that these women are willing to put up with you and allow you to think that you have any say in what happens here. It is also my opinion that if you know what is good for you, you will stop trying to tighten the leash, stop trying to exert your non-existent control over them, before that leash breaks and snaps back to lash you across the face. As for me and my role in all this, it is my opinion that it is in your best interests to look the other way and let me do my job, as I will do it whether I have your blessing or not. I think you know me well enough to know that this isn't a threat, simply a statement of fact; I will fulfill my commitment to Buffy and Faith. It is as simple as that.
I do have a gainful employment here to get back to, and as you are going to ignore everything I say anyway, I'll take my leave of you. I'm sure most of it will be completely dismissed as an old man who is blinded by his "father's love" for the Slayers. In the end, I can only hope something of what I have said makes it past your arrogance before you actually hurt someone.
Giles read the letter over one last time, making sure it said everything he wanted to get across. Well, he'd certainly given Quentin his opinion. After a moment, he realized how much better he felt for having done so, if not a little tired from the emotional drain.
He heard a noise from behind him and realized that Willow was reading over his shoulder. He thought for a second that he ought to say something to her about respecting his privacy, but decided it wasn't really worth the battle. He might have many secrets from the children, but his feelings toward the Council and Travers were not among them. He also had to admit to himself that the occasional gasp and murmur from her were gratifying; he had gotten his point across after all.
After another few minutes, he turned around in his chair to face her. She was looking at him in mild horror, her eyes so wide, they took up half her face.
"Giles, are you sure that you want to…well, I know you are upset…but are you sure? I mean…well….it's kind of…"
"Yes, I suppose it is," Giles said, sighing deeply. "But he did ask for my opinion. Please, Willow, just tell me what I need to do to send it?"
She leaned around him, putting her hand on the mouse, leading the cursor to the proper button. She paused a moment.
"Are you really sure?"
Wordlessly, he nodded and she proceeded to click the, "Send" button for him. He rose from his chair, feeling triumphant and exhausted at the same time; never had sharing his opinion seemed so freeing.
"You really were upset, weren't you?" Her voice was soft, she seemed almost frightened of him; almost.
"Yes, I was rather upset. But that really wasn't the worst of it. I'm tired, Willow. Tired of being ignored and treated as if I don't matter. I have given up my life for this, to train Buffy, to fight evil. And the only gratitude that I receive is that arrogant arse telling me that everything I've sacrificed isn't good enough because I didn't cross the Ts properly. He wanted to know what I thought. Well, now he knows."
With that, he walked into his office and closed the door behind him, leaving Willow to watch his departure with a furrowed brow and a frown.
The End (Look for the sequel, That's One Opinion)