A huge thanks to my poor, harassed beta Erika without whom you'd be bathing in incorrect grammar and ill-conceived ideas right now.
Not owning, not making money, and yes I will put the characters back when I'm done. Even Giles.
'... and this guy is like Draco Malfoy but, you know, without the winning personality.'
'Uh, Will... Draco doesn't have a winning...' Xander halted under the Wicca's withering glare. 'Oh. Right. Irony. Got it.'
'Who's Draco Malfoy?' Anya's curious question earned her a dirty look too.
'Not the point' Willow snapped. 'The Council is sending a bunch of Watchers to Sunnydale on some kind of retreat thing, but Giles thinks it's just a cover for this Daniel creep to come here to take over as Buffy's Watcher.' She gave the assembled Scoobies a sad look. 'And I think Giles is going to let him.'
Xander's mumbled explanations about Draco Malfoy stopped abruptly as his brain caught up with events, and Anya's disappointed mutterings of 'Ah. Books,' was vociferously drowned out by his spluttered 'What? Why? I mean... WHY??' He gave the redhead a bewildered look before continuing sheepishly. 'Um. Who's Daniel again..?'
Willow closed her eyes and took a deep, calming breath. Not that it helped, she still wanted to magic Xander into something icky. She let her gaze sweep over the rest of the dazed Scoobs, seeking out the one unperturbed member of the party. In answer to her beseeching look the blond vampire smirked and leant back against the headboard.
'What Red's trying to say is that this spanner who used to rag Rupert at school is coming over here to steal his Slayer, and the Watcher is too chicken to fight him.' The Wicca's eyes blazed threats of stakes and direct sunlight and a suddenly very uncomfortable Spike hurriedly moved off Buffy's bed and crossed over to the other side of the room. 'What? Just calling it as I see it' the vampire muttered with a sullen shrug. 'Watcher's probably got a one way ticket back to Blighty already, the lucky bugger.'
'There's nothing lucky about Giles' Willow ground out before looking at the rest of her friends. 'You should have seen him. He thinks he's useless. We've made him think he's useless.' Her voice caught. 'And he really hates that this poophead Daniel will come over here to gloat at the loser Giles sees himself as. This inadequate ex-Watcher guy with no friends, no family...' the door opened on cue and Willow turned and glared icily at the newcomer '...and no Slayer.'
Oblivious to the tense atmosphere Buffy looked around the crowded room.
'Wow, full house. Must be a good show tonight' she observed lightly before catching Willow's eyes and quickly sobering. 'Okay guys, what's wrong?'
Willow pointedly turned her back on the blonde.
'We have to do something. Giles has given up and it's our fault' she said firmly.
Buffy's stomach instantly contracted into a small lump of solid dread.
'Giles? What about Giles?' she asked worriedly.
Willow gave her a contemptuous glare.
'What do you care?'
The Slayer's eyes flashed dangerously and she slowly repeated her question with angry emphasis on every word. The Wicca was too furious to heed the underlying threat.
'I heard you' she snarled back. 'And the answer is still the same. What do you care? What do you care that Giles is feeling useless just as long as you have the stupid Initiative to play Demons & Vampires with? What do you care that he's feeling hurt and lonely because his Slayer can't be bothered to get out of her boyfriend's bed long enough to let him know she's alive? What do you ca... What d...' Willow's voice finally broke and she looked at Buffy with suspiciously blank eyes, her anger slowly fading. 'He cried, Buffy. Giles cried. I've never seen Giles cry before. And he talked about going home. To England.' She stopped and turned blindly towards her girlfriend who quickly wrapped her arms around her and murmured soothing words into her hair. When the redhead finally surfaced there was a decidedly empty space by the door that seconds before had been occupied by Slayer. Willow shrugged and wiped impatiently at a lost tear. Ah, well. Later problem. First... She turned towards the unsettled Scoobies with a determined expression. 'We need to fix this.' She gave them a naughty if slightly tearful grin. 'And I have a couple of ideas on the how...'
Buffy could feel the distinct taste of blood in her mouth as her lungs wheezingly objected to the abuse – and still she refused to slow down. Slow down would mean thinking, and that was a definite non-option. At least until she had thought of a way to make Giles stay in Sunnydale. Which, when she came to think of it, did involve thinking, so... Damn...
Turning into a slow jog she looked around to get her bearings, and to her relief she could spot the entrance to Restfield Cemetery just a block away. She smiled sardonically. She actually found a dark and creepy cemetery comforting? How sad.
The broody Slayer slipped through the gate and was soon curled up on her favourite memorial for a spot of plotting and a hearty sulk. Why would Giles want to go back to England anyway? Fleeting memories of a beautiful woman prodded at her mind and her already foul mood took a turn for the worse. Ah, yes. Olivia. All of a sudden she remembered why thinking was bad. Mental pictures of Olivia wearing Giles' shirt tended to crop up. Not to mention disturbing pictures of a rumpled, sexy Watcher in a bathrobe. Oh, God. Bad pictures. Bad, bad pictures. She leant back against a comfortable marble angel with a faint smirk. Although aesthetically quite pleasing... She grew serious. Knowing that his body gave her warm fuzzies would probably have Giles on the next plane to London.
'Well, hello there little girl...' Buffy started and turned towards the leering voice. The vamp quickly unfanged. '...oh, shit. Um. Hello, Slayer.'
The blonde gave the unfortunate vampire a feral grin.
'And hello to you too' she replied pleasantly as she leapt off the monument. 'So what's a nice vamp like you doing in a place like this?'
'Uh, well, I was sorta going to feed, but with you being the Slayer and all I guess I'll just have to go to the Bronze instead.' The vampire took a couple of steps towards the gate and Buffy sighed. Okay, obviously not the brightest crayon in the box.
'Yeah, about that. No.'
The vampire gave her a confused look.
'No.' She sighed impatiently and tried again. Pointing at herself she said slowly 'Slay-er. As in she who slays.' She pointed at the vampire. 'Slayee. As in he who turns to dust. Capice?'
It was clear that the vamp didn't capice. At all.
'You're going to kill me?' he asked incredulously.
Buffy felt a small pang of guilt.
'Not really. Someone's already done that' she tried to defend herself. 'I just...' She pulled out her stake and waved it hesitantly at him. The vamp was livid.
'But that's murder!'
'Well, so is draining people of blood' the Slayer replied with a pointed glare.
'But...' The vampire looked thoughtful for a while. 'Oh. Okay.'
Without warning he vamped out and attacked the unprepared blonde and they both fell headlong to the ground. Buffy grinned happily as she twisted herself free. This was more like it! She waited for her opponent to get up before sweeping his legs out from under him. The vamp went down with a surprised eep.
'Oops. Sorry' she apologized with an insincere giggle. The vampire growled in frustration as he once more crawled to his feet.
'That wasn't nice' he complained.
Buffy shrugged carelessly and blocked a punch aimed for her head.
'No, but it was fun' she replied with a sunny smile, quickly going in for another leg sweep. This time the vamp was prepared and he used the Slayer's imbalance to get behind her and wrap an arm around her neck. He roughly pulled her to him and moved his mouth close to her ear.
'So maybe I won't have to go out for dinner tonight after all, hm?' he mumbled mockingly. Buffy rolled her eyes and drove her elbow into his stomach. A muffled oof and an unfinished curse later she was dusting vampire out of her hair and feeling much better.
'Giles can't leave for England. I won't let him!' she yelled defiantly at the world in general, but apart from an annoyed voice yelling back telling her to shut up the universe met her statement with momentous indifference. Buffy shrugged and took off at a run towards the university. At least The Powers That Be had been forewarned.
'We have to do something about Giles' Buffy panted as she exploded through the dorm room door. Xander was the only one to even look up at the commotion.
'Way ahead of you there, sister' he drawled complacently. Buffy caught Willow's eyes and some of the tension between them vanished as they giggled together. Xander gave them an affronted look. 'What? You're telling me I can't pull that off?'
The redhead calmly patted his hand.
'You can't pull it off, Xan' she concurred. 'But we love you for trying.'
The young man huffed good-naturedly and turned back to his animated argument with Anya and the alarmingly amused Spike. Buffy gave Willow a questioning look but the Wicca shook her head.
'You don't want to know. Believe me' she said with emphasis.
The Slayer nodded, knowing enough of Xander and Anya's squabbles not to doubt her. She took a deep breath.
'So. Tell me about Giles' she demanded grimly.
Willow gave her an uncomfortable glance.
'You're not going to like it' she replied.
'Giles is thinking of going back to England. Of course I'm not going to like it' Buffy growled. 'What I want to know is why.'
The redhead sighed.
'Just remember that I'm not totally fluent in Giles speak' she warned. The blonde nodded impatiently. 'Okay. From what he said I think it's because he's feeling old and lonely. He doesn't seem to think that we need him anymore.'
Buffy stared at her.
'Of course we need him' she exclaimed indignantly. 'How can he think we don't need him? I mean... he's Giles!'
'And when was the last time you told him that?' Willow asked. Buffy gave her a hurt look, but the Wicca pressed on. 'When was the last time you went to him for help? When was the last time you even visited him?'
'Well... I've had things...' the Slayer said defensively.
'We've all had "things"' Willow retorted. 'And none of them has included Giles.'
'He could have said' Buffy sulked.
'This is Giles we're talking about' the witch countered. 'You know – tall, English, kinda tweedy? Not really up front in the feelings department?'
'He hasn't worn tweed for months' Buffy muttered distractedly. 'Not since Olivia...' She met Willow's suddenly thoughtful eyes and quickly halted herself. 'Never mind.'
The Wicca wisely decided to let it go.
'And then there's this' she said instead, handing Buffy a letter with a familiar coat of arms. The blonde's face fell as she read the content.
'Oh great, a Sunnydale filled with Wesleys. How lucky can a Slayer get?' She paused and looked at Willow. 'Why are they coming here anyway?'
The redhead suddenly found the tabletop extremely fascinating.
'Umm...' She shot her friend an apprehensive glance before continuing at high speed. 'Giles thinks you're getting a new Watcher.'
'Huh?' Buffy stared blankly at her. Willow sighed and tried again.
'Giles thinks that you're getting a new Watcher.'
'Oh? Oh!' The Slayer's expression cleared. 'Well, that's not going to happen' she observed coolly.
Willow grinned at her.
'Darn tooting' she agreed.