AN: A thousand thanks to my beta, Orin Forever Crimson! Thus ends Family. I've been doing some thinking, so don't be surprised if you see the next installment of Redemption in the Teen section. I haven't made up my mind yet. That said, please R&R, and enjoy!
"Gracias, Senior. I'll be waiting," the taxi driver said as Giles paid him his current fee before stepping out of the cab. Giles sighed and cleaned his glasses before he walked up the door of the house before him. Giles rang the bell and readied himself. A young blonde woman opened the door, looking back and laughing with whomever else was inside before turning to Giles and speaking.
"I'm here to see Mr. Summers." The woman's smile faltered a bit as she seemed to size Giles up briefly before calling.
"Hank, there's a British guy here to see you." The woman waited a moment and stepped back as Hank Summers stepped into view. To Giles' eyes, the man appeared to have aged very little since the last time he saw him, some three years ago.
"Hi, what can I do... for..." His voice trailed off into silence as he tried to place the man standing before him. He knew he had seen him once or twice before, but he couldn't quite place him.
"Mr. Summers, my name is Rupert Giles. I'm here to talk to you about matters concerning your daughter. May I come in?" Giles. Hank knew that name, and he very suddenly remembered where he had seen the man before; when Buffy had ran away from home a couple of years before. However, the image of the man from his memories didn't look quite so sad, so old.
"Er, ah sure, Rupert, right this way." Hank stepped back and gestured for Giles to enter.
"It's Mr. Giles, if you please." He had to fight to keep himself civil; he had no respect for the man he was meeting with but he was trying not to let it show. However, he would not be on a first name basis with the man, civility be damned.
Hank seemed to falter a bit at the cold shoulder, but he led Giles into his study all the same. He indicated a seat to Giles, who waited for Mr. Summers to be seated before seating himself.
"What has Buffy gotten herself into this time." Hank wasn't expecting the baleful stare that Giles levied his way. Giles held his gaze for long enough to cause Hank to squirm a bit and look away.
"Mr. Summers, I'm here about your other daughter, Dawn."
"Did she run away too? I can tell you, she's not here in Madrid."
"You lack of regard for your children's wellbeing is, frankly, appalling." Hank seemed about to interrupt but Giles wouldn't give him the satisfaction and pressed on. "I, too, doubt that Dawn is here, but even if she were, I don't think that you would know it. I seem to recall Buffy being in Los Angeles, despite your claims to the contrary. No, Mr. Summers, your daughter's current whereabouts are known to me, however it is her future home that brings me here. I need you to fill out these documents signing custody of Dawn over to myself."
Giles pulled the forms out of his briefcase and placed them in front of Mr. Summers. Hank sat open-mouthed for a minute before he had recovered his wits enough to speak. He pushed the papers angrily to the side before he began.
"Listen here, mister. If you think that I'm going to sign over my daughter to you, just on your say so, you're crazy! For all I know, you're some kind of pervert who-"
"Listen well, Mr. Summers," Giles began as he stood up and leaned across the desk. "I have watched over your daughters for the better part of five years. During that time, you have come to see them twice. In addition, they went to visit you for a single summer, so you've seen them a grand total of three occassions over the course those same five years. During that time, I have helped them through more hardships than you can imagine. I helped them bury their mother, God rest her soul, an occasion you failed to appear at when your daughters needed you most." While rage had initially flushed Hank's cheeks, it was now shame making him red-faced. He had no rebuttal, no excuse that he could hide behind.
"I... I thought that Buffy had custody of Dawn after Joyce... passed," Hank said, trying to change the subject. Although he did not relish it, Giles had waited for this moment, knowing that it would be the turning point, the final twist of the blade.
"Hadn't you heard, Mr. Summers? Buffy is dead." Giles let the news sink in for the obviously astonished and heartbroken man in front of him before he continued. "She died on the 21 of May; we buried her three days later. I realise this must be shocking news to you, but it underscores both of my points." A despondent Hank sat slumped in his chair, moisture building in his eyes.
"And what points are those, Mr. Giles?"
"The first being that you are not and haven't been a part of your daughters' lives for quite some time. You are not the man to finish raising Dawn." While Hank glared loathingly at Giles, he didn't contradict him. "The second is that, with both Buffy and Joyce having been taken from this world, you are the only blood relation that young Dawn has left. Since you are luxuriating in Spain, the Child Protection Services will have no choice but to take her from the only family she left and place her in a foster home." Here Giles stopped and waited until Hank dared to meet his eyes. When he spoke again, Giles leaned forward across the desk even more, putting more steel in his voice than he had used in a long time.
"Let me be very clear. I will not let that happen. I will see that Dawn stays in the home she has spent her formative teenage years growing up in, with the people that truly love her. I will do whatever it takes to make you sign those papers, Mr. Summers. Do not doubt me. Before I leave, I will know that Dawn's future is safe." Hank found that he could no longer meet the gaze of the man named Rupert Giles. Head down, he reached for the papers that he had shoved across his desk and began to sign them wherever he saw an X. After a few moments, he handed the papers over to Giles with a shaking hand. Giles checked over them to make certain everything was in order. Satisfied, he put them back into his briefcase and stood.
"You'll understand if I don't shake your hand. I'll show myself out." With that, Giles walked out of the building and left Mr. Summers to his guilt and grief.
Giles exited the cab and once again paid the driver, who waved as he left to pick up his next passenger. He walked back into customs in order to book his next flight. He was not shocked to find that the customs agent he had dealt with previously was still working; he hadn't been here all that long. The woman smiled as Giles approached her window.
"Mr. Giles, back so soon?" The woman seemed genuinely pleased to see him again. Giles returned a pleasant enough smile, although it didn't reach his eyes.
"Yes. My business has been taken care of, and while your country is beautiful, it isn't home." The woman nodded knowingly. Giles could only guess that the woman had learned English as a native tongue, not a secondary one.
"So, you'll be returning to London, Mr. Giles?" Giles was momentarily taken aback. He had no intention of returning to London, and it must have shown on his face. "Forgive me; you said you were going home, so I just assumed." He had said that, hadn't he? Yes, but Giles was surprised to find that home for him no longer lay in London. It was a farther west. Giles smiled before speaking again.
"No, London isn't home anymore. I'm going to Sunnydale, to pick up Da-," Giles stopped and corrected himself mid-sentance. "To pick up my daughter, to be with my family." The customs agent smiled knowingly before logging into her computer and printing out a ticket for Sunnydale.
"Enjoy your flight, Mr. Giles."
"Thank you very much. Have a good day." Giles shook her hand and began walking towards the terminals. As he checked his ticket to see what departure gate and time he had, he was surprised again to see that it was in 20 minutes. It was also one way. Giles turned back towards the customs agent, Linda, her name tag had said. She was already busy with her next traveler. Giles smiled and shook his head, walking towards gate 15. He was, for the first time in a long time, truly going home.
-To be Continued in Redemption: Trio-