IMPORTANT NOTE: This story assume there were actually several weeks between the last two scenes of Buffy vs. Dracula--the scene where Buffy asks Giles to be her Wacther again, and when she comes home to find Dawn there, which is when we see Dawn for the first time. I love Dawn, but she didn't fit into my plot, so she's not here. Thus the insertion of several weeks there. I promise it will actually fit there once I'm done, if you pretend Buffy happened to wearing the same outfit on those two days several weeks apart...which actually isn't that out there at all, so bear with me please! Other than that slight fudge, this story will remain completely canon, I promise. Also, this is my first Buffy fanfic, so please do review to let me know how I'm doing, and please be nice--but still honest! Thanks so much, and I hope you enjoy the story. :)

-Kat

Watch Over Me

Buffy Summers was in a good mood as she made her way home, even beside the residual wiggins she'd gotten from the encounter she and the Scoobies had recently had with Dracula. Coming from Giles's place, she expected to find her own house empty and quiet. She didn't expect to find her living room occupied by Willow and Xander.

She closed the front door behind her and moved into the house, raising her eyebrows at her mysteriously present friends. "Hey guys. What's with the pow-wow?"

Willow stood quickly. "Buffy! Hey, uh...How are you?"

Buffy blinked. "How am I? I'm fine. You look a little off though." She frowned in confusion. "You both do. What's up?" Her friends exchanged uneasy glances, and she couldn't help worrying that something was wrong.

"Well, it's just..." Willow trailed off and started again. "Look, try not to get angry at us or anything, but, well...we know why Giles asked you to go see him today. He uh, he told me a few days ago before the whole Dracula thing, and he asked me not to say a word, and, well, I didn't—except now. I just told Xander. But now you know, so that shouldn't be a problem. I just wanted to be sure we were both here when you got back from...hearing, you know, in case you were, well, angry...I mean, we don't like it either, but we figured you'd be the most upset, so..."

Buffy held up her hands to stop the onslaught. "Willow, what in the hell are you talking about?"

"About Giles going back to England. Leaving," Xander answered. "Or trying to leave. I still have half a mind to kick his ass, but, you know...guy's not our age, but he'd still kick mine first."

"That much is true, but since when is Giles going anywhere?"

Willow's eyes went wide. "H-he didn't say anything to you when you were over there just now? He told me that today he'd—oh god." She twisted away quickly, a hand scrubbing through her hair. "Oh god I screwed up. Or he did. Or—" She spun back. "He seriously didn't say anything?"

"I think I would have remembered that! If he'd tried to get something like that past me I would have kicked his ass!"

"This doesn't make any sense," Willow grumbled.

"Well maybe he changed his mind," Xander said quickly, hopefully.

"But from what he told me, he's been planning this all summer."

Buffy's mind was swimming. She'd just come from seeing Giles, and everything had been fine. They'd talked; they'd smiled. There had even been a laugh or two. And after the conversation they'd just had, why would he turn around and leave? She'd asked him to be her Watcher again.

"Wait, he...Will, is that why you've been acting weird?" she asked finally.

Willow shrugged. "Well, yeah. I wanted him to know we still needed him here. So he'd change his mind. Though I don't think I did very good job of making it subtle."

Xander smirked. "Now that I think about it, no you really didn't."

"Well what was I supposed to do? We can't let him just leave. He's Giles."

"Hey, I'm on your side, remember?"

Buffy took a deep breath and let it out a moment later as a slow realization dawned. "Guys, shut up for a second." They stopped abruptly and looked at her questioningly. "I think I know what's going on here. I think...that what Giles and I talked about just now changed his mind. That's why he didn't say anything to me. You're right; I went over there because he said he had something to tell me. We just never got around to it. That must have been it."

Willow's eyebrows went up. "Well what did you two talk about?"

The last couple of hours took on a whole new perspective all of a sudden, and Buffy had to cross to the couch and sit before she said anything.

"Buffy?" Willow asked.

"You okay?" Xander added.

"Yeah, it's just...I mean, I didn't think much of it at the time. I knew what I had to say to Giles was important, but I didn't think—oh god, he was going to leave?"

Willow sat on the coffee table facing her. "And last I heard, he still was. What happened over there today?"

Buffy crossed her arms tightly. "I...I told him about how this whole thing with Dracula had me freaked—because of how much more he seemed to know about my power than I do, and everything. I told him I wanted to find out more about where the Slayers come from, what this power is. I told him...that I couldn't do it without him. I knew I wanted Giles to know that." She swallowed. "I didn't that would really do something; I didn't know he'd been thinking of leaving before I said anything."

Xander had come around the coffee table to sit next to her, and he huffed. "Huh. Looks like you changed the G-man's mind. Sweet. All who are happy with this development, raise an enthusiastic hand." He did so, but the girls just stared at him.

It wasn't that they didn't agree; it was just ridiculous.

"Right," he sighed, letting his arm drop. "Dumb question."

"He said he was leaving because you didn't need him anymore," Willow said quietly.

Buffy's mouth opened to protest, but her own words rang in her ears. You haven't been my Watcher for a while. I haven't been training, and I haven't really needed to come to you for help.

They weren't lies. It was just how things had played out. She really hadn't sought much from Giles in the past year, and she'd been fine that way. And apparently he'd noticed.

She swallowed. "Well maybe he hasn't officially been my Wacther in a while, and in the Watcher sense I've needed him a lot less more recently, but...I never would have wanted him to leave. How can he not know that? God..." Even staring toward the far wall at nothing, she caught out of the corner of her eye her friends exchanging glances again. She felt an arm around her shoulders and knew it was Xander's.

"Hey, the important thing is that Giles isn't going anywhere, and he knows you need him now. That's all good, yes?"

Buffy shrugged. "Yeah..." But it still hurt, knowing that Giles must have thought she would be all right with him leaving—knowing that he'd thought she didn't need him at all. She stood and quickly paced back into the entryway, and she heard her friends getting up to follow.

"Buffy?" Willow asked.

She turned to face them, a hand on the bottom of the stairs' railing. "Thanks for being here. It means a lot to know how much you guys still watch out for me. And thank you...for telling me what was going on, Will. But I uh...Riley and I; we had plans tonight. I need to call him and let him know when to pick me up."

"You all right, Buff?" Xander asked.

"Yeah, of course. I mean, like you said—Giles isn't going anywhere, and besides leftover freak-out from Dracula everybody's fine. I'm good."

"Right..." The two of them said it together, and it was just like old times.

Buffy smiled and saw them out, waving as they left. When they were far enough away for courtesy she shut the door and retreated upstairs to her room.

She did what she'd said she was going to do, and called Riley, but when she hung up she stared at the phone for several long moments before picking it up again and dailing a different number.

"Hello?"

For some reason, she felt extremely relieved to hear the decidely British-accented answer on the other end of the line. "Giles. Hey."

"Buffy? What is it?"

"Oh nothing, really. Nothing new anyway. I just wanted to remind you to figure up that new training schedule ASAP. Haven't done it in a while, after all. I could probably use some brushing up."

"Well now, you weren't wrong before. I'm sure that—"

"Giles."

There was a pause. "Right. Of course. I can have a few ideas for you by tomorrow if you'd like, and we can compare with your class schedule for this coming semester."

Buffy could hear the happiness in his voice—she could even tell he was trying to cover it up—and she couldn't help grinning to herself. "Sounds good to me. I'll come by your place again tomorrow."

"Very well then. I'll be here."

She said goodbye and hung up, and lay back on her bed to stare at the ceiling.

So Giles had felt underappreciated? Well...not anymore.

Buffy planned to see to that herself.


The night was well on it's way to leading into the next morning, but the fact that it was past midnight couldn't have bothered Rupert Giles less. Every light in his flat was on, there was a fresh pot of tea in the kitchen, and he sat contentedly at his desk making notes on a fresh yellow legal pad.

He had a job again—of a fashion—and even though it didn't pay it felt better than anything had in a long while. It was what he'd wanted for months, and what he'd thought he would never have again. Just that morning he had been bound for England, proud of his Slayer and heartbroken at the same time, and now he think of nothing but training schedules and techniques he hadn't used yet—things he had been only planning in Buffy's senior year of high school when the Wacther's Council fired him for caring too personally for her. Things he had never been able to teach her when she stopped coming to him for training.

In the last few months Giles had wondered if staying anyway had been pointless after all, and now he was glad he had. Now he had another chance to help her—another chance to do it when she wanted the guidance. He knew she was scared, not knowing where her powers originated from and such, and that maybe that was the only reason she'd asked him to be her Wacther again...but it didn't matter, he told himself.

All right...it did. But it was enough for now—enough to make him happier than he'd been in months.

However, the happiness was trumped by alarm when his door and two of his living room windows burst inward and several demons of various shapes and sizes jumped or stormed inside.

"Oh dear lord!" Giles shot to his feet, nearly overturning the half full cup of tea on the desk as he lunged for his weapons trunk. The horned orange demon that had come through the now-broken front door caught an arm from behind, spinning him around and landing a vicious punch across his jaw. The only good thing about that was he landed right on top of the trunk he'd been going for. Face throbbing, Rupert slid off of it, pulled it open and managed to take hold of a small battle axe before the orange demon could come at him again or his friends could make it to their human target from where they'd landed just inside the windows.

He swung, taking off half a horn before one side of the blade buried itself deep in the demon's neck. Giles was no Slayer—the axe didn't go all the way through, especially considering the tough hide—but it was more than enough to kill the beast. The thing dropped like a stone, and he had to kick out to push back two more smaller demons before he could lever the axe out of the dead demon's flesh. Then he was up and ready again, and had just enough time to get off a quick count of the enemies present. There were five more, all smaller than the orange brute who had come in the front, but they were fast, and still stronger than any human.

But what were they doing here? What did they want with him? Though more likely than not, it had everything to do with Buffy...but what?

Giles stayed as close to the wall as he could, to keep from allowing any of them behind him, but at the same time remained careful not to let himself get backed into a corner. Several more swings of the axe later and two more of the demons—these blue and green, respectively—were dead, but the battle was far from over and he had to assume he was fighting for his very life. As it was he had several cuts and bruises already.

"Who are you! What on earth do you want!" he growled, not really expecting an answer but finding no harm in trying anyway. He ducked a blow and swung again, slicing into an arm but not enough to cut it off or seriously incapacitate it's owner. "Who are you working for!" Demons rarely joined forces unless there was someone at their head, after all—someone with enough power to make them follow.

The wounded demon fell back and allowed it's two compatriots to take over the attacks, snarling at the human who had wounded it. It didn't exactly answer any of the questions posed to it, but it did speak. "The Slayer will be ours," it hissed.

"I rather think not," Giles answered hotly.

The green demon only gave something akin to a smirk, and rejoined it's fellows in the fight despite it's injury.

Well...this certainly wasn't how he had planned on spending his first day as Buffy's Watcher again. Or, officially, it was second day now, wasn't it? Either way, right now it seemed he needed to be concerned with surviving it.

Minutes later Giles was breathing heavily, resisting the urge to lean against the wall behind him and show any sign of weaknes, any opening for the demons. The remaining three were facing him, sizing him up, and then they all came in at once. A well-aimed swing caught one in the chest, effectively killing it, but in trying to keep his grip on the axe handle as the body fell away Giles stumbled, giving one of the others the microsecond of a chance needed to shove him away from the wall that had been protecting his back.

He caught himself and spun to lash out with a fist, but the one he'd injured was right behind him, ready to push him back again with a kick to the gut. Giles went down quickly, and he felt sharp pain from an impact to the back of his head as he fell. When he hit the floor he didn't didn't get back up, and the world began to go dark.

Sodding...coffee table...

He saw the last two demons moving in before the nothingness took him, and just had time to think of Buffy and others, and how ironic it was that everything for him should end just as life was starting to look up again.


The tables at Sunnydale's local coffee shop proved themselves once again to be annoyingly too small late the next morning, as the Scooby gang took up nearly three of them in their gathering. They were all there—Willow and Tara, Xander and Anya, and Buffy and their newest member in her boyfriend Riley.

"Okay, so...what's with the meeting?" Willow asked finally.

"And w-where's Mr. Giles?" Tara asked.

"Giles is at home," Buffy answered. "He is not here because this meeting has been called on the subject of Giles himself. Thus the reason the meeting is not at his place as usual." She scowled at herself. "Thus?"

Xander smirked. "And it was only yesterday you decided to start spending even more time with Giles."

Riley looked back and forth between Buffy, Willow, and Xander—the core group that had been the beginning of the Scoobies more than four years ago during their sophmore year of high school. "Okay, I'm lost. What about Giles?"

Anya crossed her arms and shrugged. "Well we all know Buffy's pretty much ignored the poor guy recently. I assume this has something to do with fixing that."

Buffy resisted the urge to glare a hole in Anya's forehead. After all, she was right, and being sometimes painfully blunt was just who she was. The ex-vengence demon didn't really mean any harm. "Uhm...yeah. That's one way of putting it," she admitted slowly.

"It's not just Giles, and it's not just Buffy," Xander said quietly. "Last year was screwed up in a lot of ways, and we're just now really starting to fix how messed up things got. We've got a long way to go, too, but it wouldn't be right at all without Giles." He glanced at Buffy, and Buffy looked at Willow.

Willow straightened a little and continued, telling the three that didn't know about Giles's plan to return to England, and Buffy finished with explaining again what had happened the day before.

"So he's not leaving, not now, and I think he's happier already, but that doesn't mean that there's not more to be made right here. And...maybe a lot of it is stuff I need to do, things I need to make sure he knows, but...the rest of you can still help, too. You can make sure he knows that we all care about him."

"That we need him," Willow echoed. "Because we do."

"Right on, Will," Xander nodded. He looked at Buffy. "I'm with you, Buff. No way we're giving the G-man any more excuses to even think about leaving."

Tara curled one of her own arms around one of Willow's and held on, smiling a little. "I'll do whatever I can. I like Giles."

"Of course," Riley agreed. "He's a good guy; I wouldn't want to see him gone. Count me in."

Buffy let out a breath and smiled at her friends, leaning against her boyfriend's shoulder. "Thank you. All of you. I uh...I know I've screwed things up in the past, but I think this oversight is one of the dumber ones." What would she have done she hadn't unwittingly corrected it? Or begun to correct it, anyway. They would have lost Giles, and it would have been her fault, and there was no other way to look at it.

She thought for a moment, and finally straightened and let loose with an idea. "Hey, I was gonna head over to Giles's place later about a new training schedule, but maybe you guys should come with."

Willow brightened immediately. "Oh! Ooooh! Party! We should have a party!"

Xander's eyebrows went up. "Willow, my friend, have you completely flipped your lid?"

"Well Giles isn't leaving. What better way to show him how happy we really are about that than to celebrate it?"

"Celebrate him not doing something we were never even supposed to know he was considering?"

"Well it was a dumb thing to consider in the first place, and besides, I only told you after I thought he'd already told Buffy; how many times do I have to insist I wasn't doing anything wrong there?" Willow answered.

"I'm all for Giles not leaving, but I highly doubt he would appreciate the six of us bursting into his place in the middle of a weekday with party makings and starting a boistrous celebration he was never warned about," Anya commented.

Buffy grinned suddenly. "But that's exactly what we're going to do, and he'll just have to deal with it. You're a genius, Will; I love it." It wasn't what she'd been planing—not that she'd really had any specific plan at all yet—but it was perfect. She slid off her stool. "I say we split up errands and meet at Giles's in an hour."

Xander stood with her, apparently on board now. "All in favor say 'Aye!'" he called.

Unlike the afternoon before with Buffy and Willow, this time they all willingly answered with raised hands and the requested enthusiastic response.