WDWG - Chapter 37: Catharsis
"Take some time for yourselves," Sebastian counseled as he stood with Giles and Buffy in the gravel drive. "You have six months to remove all personal items and the Academy will take anything you don't wish to keep, sell, or auction at an estate sale. And as for you, my dear," he said, taking the Slayer's hands and addressing her personally. "Take care of yourself and keep an eye on Rupert and Seamus for me. Scoundrels, the both of them."
"I promise," she replied with a laugh, giving Sebastian a kiss on the cheek. "Safe home and tell Anna to give me a call."
"I shall," he replied before leaning down to pet the grey wolfhound. "Behave yourself, Seamus." His tone was firm, but his blue eyes betrayed his sadness at leaving his companion behind.
Sebastian patted Giles' shoulder before turning and walking over to the car where Alan was holding the door for him. "Ivey, come!" he bellowed. At his command she came running from behind a copse of evergreens on the far side of the house and jumped into the back of the Bentley.
Seamus shifted his weight, the muscles in his neck and shoulders tight, and he shook his head in agitation as he watched his sister enter the vehicle, but he steadied himself after Buffy stroked his head and he looked up at her with keen eyes.
"Rupert?" the older man called after getting in the car.
"Uncle," Giles responded, walking over and nodding to Alan, indicating to him to get in and start the vehicle.
"I had almost forgotten to inform you. In two months time there will be a meeting at headquarters in London. You and Buffy are required to attend. Plan on staying with me at the townhouse."
"And take your fiancée home. There is no reason to stay here. You'll be back and forth enough in the upcoming weeks with both Xander and Daniel arriving to begin work."
"We'll leave tomorrow morning. I promise. I just need to clean out the office for Daniel."
Giles shut the door and tapped the roof twice, signaling the all clear for Alan to leave, before walking over to Buffy and put his arm around her as they waved their goodbyes.
"Just us now, lover," Buffy said with a grin, lifting herself up on her tiptoes and circling her arms around his neck.
"So it is," he replied, leaning down, teasing her by almost touching her mouth with his, before pulling away at the last minute. He repeated this action two more times before she lost her patience and drew his head down to hers, kissing him with all the pent up passion she had collected over the last week.
When they finally broke apart, she declared breathlessly, "I've missed you."
"All work and no play makes me a very dull boy?" Giles asked regretfully, an easy smile playing on his lips.
"Something like that," Buffy answered with a mischievous glow in her eyes. "At least I got my hands on your body this morning."
"And I am sure I have the bruises to attest to it," he replied dryly. "I must say, though, that until that hip throw, I didn't think your heart was into training. You seemed... hesitant."
"The eight miler was fun, but I have plans for you, mister, and I didn't want to go spoiling them by hurting you while sparring. And there is still the matter of your hand being broken. I figured it was more about perfecting technique than how quickly I can take you down."
"Quite right. So why did you throw me?"
"All work and no play," Buffy began as she nipped at his jawline, her hands working their way down his chest to rest on his belt buckle, "makes me a frustrated Slayer," she finished, whispering huskily into his ear.
Giles shuddered and pulled her closer. "God, I want you," he snarled as he buried his face into her neck, nipping at the sensitive spot right below her ear.
Buffy squeaked and then sighed regretfully, "But duty calls."
"Yes," he lamented with a whimper. "All work," he repeated as he slowly pulled away.
"Tonight... no work. All play."
"We'll ask the groundskeeper to take Seamus for a walk in the morning."
"Mmm... planning ahead. I like."
"And take breakfast in the room."
"I totally approve," Buffy agreed as she reached up and pulled his head back down to kiss him breathless before she started walking back into the great house.
"You, Miss Summers, do not play fair," he called after her when he regained his senses. She laughed.
Thomas Giles' office was filled with boxes in various stages of being packed up depending on contents, but the couple had a system and had been working as a well run team for several hours. Giles opted to go through his father's files separating Council affairs from those of the estate, while Buffy sorted through his father's personal things.
"I found your dad's journals," Buffy said after opening a diary that appeared to be part of a large set sitting on the bookshelf behind his desk.
"Watcher or personal?" Giles asked, leafing through a stack of files over by the filing cabinet across the room.
Buffy read the date at the top of the page and couldn't stop herself from reading further.
21 August 2001
Rupert came home today. If I hadn't seen that haunted look on my face all those years ago, I wouldn't have recognised my own son. It is the curse of the Watcher to outlive his Slayer and I do not wish it on anyone. Still, it is a profound honour. I know that while he ran from his destiny all those years ago, he wouldn't trade it now even if it could prevent his broken heart.
I took him back to my home in London. I don't want him to be alone in that house in Somerset. It won't do him any good to grieve on his own. Tonight was the first time I've held him since he was a little boy. He wept until he could no more. From his sobs, he must've held his grief in these past few months since Buffy's death. She was a spectacular Slayer and my son can be proud.
She turned the page, out of curiosity. It was a time she knew Giles wouldn't speak of and after coming through her own darkness, she had wondered how Giles had dealt during that period.
24 August 2001
Rupert slept for two solid days and finally spoke for the first time today since stepping off the plane. He told me of Buffy's sacrifice and of her devotion to her friends and family. She was truly extraordinary, having accepted death twice with such determination, such bravery. The poor boy is going through the motions, and I wish there was something I could do. He is so lost. Miri will be home from Kenya at the end of the week. She'll know what to do and say, she always does.
26 August 2001
It has become clear that Rupert was not only deeply bonded with his Slayer, he was (still is) deeply in love with her. Whether he has admitted that fact to himself, I am not sure, but it is evident if one looks immediately beneath the surface. My love for my own Slayer was deep, but in a fraternal way. When Emma was killed, it was as though I'd lost part of me. For Rupert, it's as though he's lost a part of his soul. It's difficult to watch him. He moves like a shade through the house.
"Buffy?" Giles called from across the room.
"Huh?" She flushed, feeling a little ashamed at reading something so personal to Giles as his mental state upon returning home after her death and yet, she had been fascinated. Even though she knew him to be a man of great emotion, there was still a part of her that viewed him as the "emotional marathon man" she had known in her youth. She had just assumed that he had bottled up his feelings and carried on, like he always had.
"Watcher diaries or personal?"
"Oh, uh, definitely personal," Buffy answered.
"Not sure. They take up several shelves. His Watcher diaries might be in there too, I just don't know."
"Go ahead and box them all up, we'll take them home with us. I'll sort through them later," Giles said. Noticing the conflicted look on Buffy's face, he amended, "Or you can. There might be something useful for the Academy in them. He was always criticizing the established curricula for both Potentials and Watchers."
"You don't mind?"
"Why should I?"
"Well, they might contain his personal feelings about you and Miri. This one does."
Giles walked over and took the diary from her, opening to a page somewhere in the middle and began to read.
22 April 2002
Attended a lecture held by none other than Quentin Travers, espousing his policy of detachment to young Watchers this afternoon. This man has absolutely no understanding of what it means to be an Active Watcher, nor does he seem to care. Of course, it is rare for one to become an Active, as we are chosen by destiny. But a few of these young Watchers in his audience are Chosen and Travers does them no favours by teaching them to keep their distance, to not care beyond the responsibility of training and teaching. Also, Council resources should always be at the disposal of the Slayer. She should never feel as though she is a pawn controlled by the most elite of the organisation. The rest of these young Watchers would do well to understand it is their place to serve. However, service and respect for the Slayer are no longer taught. Disgraceful!
23 April 2002
It is perfectly natural to love one's Slayer. The bond she forges with her Watcher is incomparable and they are stronger for it. Some, like Travers and his cronies, will shun that affection, for their belief is that the Slayer is only an instrument with which to fight the demons. However, if one choses to accept that analogy, then one needs to understand that a weapon is not chosen indiscriminately, one's weapon is an extension of the self. So it is for the Watcher and Slayer pair. The Slayer is Chosen, as is her Watcher. He hones the Slayer for battle and she destroys the foe. He must care for her, or like any weapon, she will become dull and unable to perform in combat.
What must never be forgotten is that the Slayer is an extraordinary individual! Taking again the analogy of the weapon, no two swords are the same even if forged by the same smith in the same fires with the same technique. And so it is true for the Slayer. A Watcher is Chosen for her by destiny, not the Council. His training provides a guideline for him as he mentors and trains her. He compliments her and they form a bond based on trust, mutual respect, and love. She fights not just for humanity, but also for her Watcher. For one who is loved will love in return, her cause strengthened by it and she will champion him. Over time she will burn her way into her Watcher's soul and when she is gone, he will be broken, his grief only just bearable... but her fire will sustain him until it is his time.
Closing the book, Giles steadied himself before handing it back to her. Clearing his throat, he said, "There is value in you having these at your disposal, personal or not, darling. My father was a great Watcher and has done many great things to help modernize the Council and its attitudes towards those who are Called. We'd be as negligent as Travers if we didn't take into account his ideas and findings."
Buffy nodded and set the book in the empty box on the desk. She then placed her hand on his arm and asked, "Giles, are you alright?"
His eyes softened and he raised his left hand, tracing his index finger down her cheek before answering, "I can't thank you enough for being here with me through this."
"I'll always be here for you."
"I know," Giles started before stopping and taking a breath. "I remember always striving to hear one kind word from him, to know he was proud, but he always pushed for more... until he sent me away to school. Upon coming home for holidays, I always had the highest grades in my class, but the studying never stopped: Latin, Greek, French, demonology, vampire histories. He'd always find something I didn't know, and he'd spend hours lecturing and testing me, until one day, he stopped coming home from the Council entirely, burying himself in his work, and I'd find myself over at Uncle Sebastian's or with Miri." Giles sat down in the desk chair and drew Buffy down into his lap. She kept quiet, but took his right hand in hers.
"I didn't know whether to be sad that he wasn't there or relieved that the endless studying was over. And I hated him for it all. Or so I thought. When I came back from wreaking havoc with Ethan and the others, he stood by watching in judgment while Miri lobbied for my return to the Council. I fought my way back and received my advanced degrees from Oxford, graduated from the academy, and started life without much acknowledgment from him. He didn't even see me off when I left to become your Watcher.
"I suppose he had to be neutral. He sat on the judiciary committee and the possibility of my reinstatement was not popular amongst those in power, nor amongst most of my peers. The reputation of the Council was based on the character of its Watchers and it was felt that one bad seed could sully the reputation of the entire organization. During that time, I needed my father, not for his place on the committee or his official ruling. I needed him. I'd always had Sebastian's support, in many ways he was the father I didn't have, but I needed to prove to my father that I was worthy of his approval." He looked at her with watery eyes. "Of his love."
Kissing his forehead in sympathy, Buffy murmured, "My poor Ru!"
"He was there at the airport waiting for me when I came home after you died and he took care of me. He let me grieve, and for the first time in my life, he allowed me to cry. I wasn't allowed to cry for my mother... not in front of him, anyway. But he was there and he held me, giving me the love and approval I had sought from him since I was a child. And I finally understood what it was like for him to continue living after his Slayer had died. I understood why he pushed me so hard. Here we were bound by a shared destiny where the only possible outcome was tragedy. Only he fared better."
"He found happiness with my mother, and Miri was the apple of his eye. In many ways she reminded him of Emma."
"That's hardly fair, Ru. That took years. You had a few months and then suddenly I was back."
Giles shrugged, dismissing her comment, knowing that he wouldn't have even tried to find happiness, he would've just existed until he didn't anymore. Unwilling to reveal that truth, he continued with his narrative. "When I came along, he was determined to prepare me for my duty, knowing first hand the pain one endures from losing a Slayer."
"How did he know you were going to be Called?"
"He didn't, although the probability was high based on family history. It tends to run in bloodlines and I have it on both sides. But the point was he was able to move on after Emma was killed. I couldn't. I had Xander, Willow, Anya, Tara, and Dawn and they weren't enough. They needed me and after the immediate crisis was over, I just couldn't function anymore. My purpose gone and destiny fulfilled, I left them behind. A-and when I returned after they brought you back, I still wasn't strong enough to help them. Or you. To recognize where you'd been, to be there for you. You continued to slip further away and there was nothing I could do about it."
Buffy looked down at their hands. "We were both too broken, Giles. I didn't understand that then. I never considered how my death affected you. I was too focused on my own issues. I'm sorry. You leaving hurt so much and I was devastated, but I needed to hit rock bottom."
"I had hoped my leaving would jar you into living so you didn't have to."
"I know, but when I do things wrong, I do them spectacularly."
He let out a ragged sigh and pulled her closer, resting his head on her shoulder. "We both do."
"What a pair we are," Buffy said, hugging him and resting her cheek against his head. "I don't think much would've changed if you'd stayed. In fact, things would probably have been worse. You would've lost yourself trying to take care of all of us at the expense of taking care of yourself. God knows what that would've meant for Willow's apocalypse."
"I'm sorry. I had to leave. For so many reasons," he whispered, looking at her miserably.
"I know," she replied in the same quiet tone, caressing away a fallen tear on his cheek with her thumb. Leaning in, she tenderly kissed his lips. "I forgave you long ago."
"Thank you," Giles said simply, running his fingers through her hair.
"Thank you for telling me about your dad." After a moment, she continued, "He loved you very much."
"He cared. It was Miri he loved," he answered as he continued to stroke her hair. "I've made my peace with it."
"You have it so wrong, my love. He loved you both, but with Miri, he was able to express it the way a father should. He could dote on her and it helped that she was a lot like Emma. His affection for her naturally transferred to your sister. With you, it was different. He saw himself in you and he spent your entire young life preparing you to postpone the inevitable. He pushed so hard so that you would have all the tools you needed to help keep me alive as long as possible, so that we could have more time together. And when the day finally came for you to return home, he was waiting for you with open arms to take care of you."
Giles gazed at his fiancée in awe. "When did you gain so much insight?" he asked in a teasing tone.
"Takes a lifetime. I'm on my third," Buffy joked, watching the corner of his mouth twitch up into a small smile. "Seriously though, you just needed to see it from the outside. I've gotten several perspectives and opinions on your dad since we've come to England. Yours was the last piece of the puzzle and it all fell into place."
"I wish he'd realized that I needed more than his experience. I needed him to show me that he loved me."
"Traditional upper class English upbringing mixed with Watcher Council Kool-Aid and a whole heaping of unwanted destiny doesn't exactly lead to a father of the year award."
"As a very wise Slayer I know would say, 'it sucked.'"
"Little boys need their cuddles too," she said, caressing his cheek, wanting to make the hurt go away.
Combing his hand through her honey blonde hair, Giles answered, "As do big boys."
"Then it's a good thing for you that I'm a champion cuddler."
"A very good thing," he responded, pulling her towards him, his lips meeting hers.
Buffy returned the soft kiss and leaned her head against his. "Giles, let's go home. We're nearly done here, let's just finish up, pack our things and our wolfhound, and leave."
Responsibility waged war with the amnesty the dutiful Watcher was offered and he looked around the room.
"We need a change of pace. You're different here. We're different here," she said. "This isn't us and we've been here too long. You haven't been you since before you got here."
Raising an eyebrow, Giles asked, "Who've I been?"
"The lord of the manor, the baronet, the obedient son, the lost boy, the Head Watcher, and while they are great and all, I think we just need to be Buffy and Giles for a while. We just can't do that here at Hawkingridge."
"You're right," he sighed. "Let's finish packing up these boxes, label them, and go home. We'll just take the essentials, Matthew can have the rest delivered tomorrow or the next day. We don't need any of this at the moment. The next few days are ours, I promise, and then we'll have Xander and hopefully Willow join us."
Buffy gave him a huge smile and hugged him tightly.
Several hours later, they let a very excitable wolfhound out onto the grounds of the farmhouse. Seamus enthusiastically explored his new surroundings, his tail wagging furiously, while Buffy and Giles kept an eye on him from beneath an ash tree near one of the hedgerows. Thinking over the past week, it surprised Buffy how much she had come to miss the farmhouse and how it truly felt like she belonged.
"I don't know about you, but I feel like I can take a full breath again," she said as she leaned back against Giles' chest.
He held her tighter. "Hawkingridge has always been a bit oppressive."
"Understatement much?" she teased, looking up at him with a sympathetic smile. "How are you doing?"
"Much better. Knowing the Academy has a home now, safe and away from headquarters, helps. And I think for Hawkingridge to have that distinction is the right thing to do by my father and Miri, both of whom dedicated their lives trying to improve the lives of Slayers and Watchers alike."
"You made the right decision."
He lowered his head to kiss her cheek. "Thank you."
They watched the sun set over the rolling countryside, bathing the surrounding area in rich shades of gold, oranges, and reds. Seamus lumbered up to them having surveyed his new domain and Giles reached down to scratch his head. Quickly giving his fiancée a squeeze before letting her go, he said, "Why don't you go in and put the kettle on and I will bring in the bags and Seamus' supplies."
"We did go overboard at that pet store," Buffy commented.
"He needed a new collar and identification tag."
"That's not what I'm talking about, you big softie, and you know it!"
Ducking his head, Giles grinned guiltily. On their way home they'd stopped at the pet store for dog food and the new collar, and while there he'd bought three large dog beds, one for the library, one for their bedroom, and one for the training facility. He'd also picked out several new toys and four different types of treats. It had been a long time since he'd had a dog and while he wasn't going to admit it, he'd been quite smitten with the wolfhound since he'd first laid eyes on him. Seamus had been quite a rambunctious puppy with huge paws the Watcher never thought the dog would grow into.
Giles watched as Buffy walked over to the Range Rover and pulled out the bag of dog food and carried it into the house with Seamus dutifully following behind her. He leaned against the tree for a moment, his heart full and content, yet lighter than it had been in a couple of weeks. After reflecting on his situation, he grabbed their bags and one of the large dog beds from the car and headed into the house. He made a few more trips out to the vehicle, bringing more of their things inside and putting them away in their proper places. When he was done, Giles joined Buffy in the kitchen, wrapped his arms around her from behind, and kissed her neck.
"Where's your dog?" he asked, his lips lingering against her silken skin.
Buffy leaned back into him with a contented sigh, "He decided he liked the library and had made himself at home on the chaise until I showed him the error of his ways. Now he's snoozing on the bed you got for him. What kind of tea do you want?"
"I don't want tea," he said, trailing open-mouth kisses up her neck and over her jawline. "I want you."
Letting out a soft moan as his right hand started to wander underneath her shirt, Buffy turned her head to the side and upwards as his lips met hers in an unhurried and sensual kiss. He ran his hand over her breast, squeezing it and grazing his thumb over her lace covered nipple. She moaned in appreciation and turned in his embrace, circling her arms around his neck.
"Let's take this upstairs," she suggested, kissing a line from his Adam's apple down to the third open button of his Henley T-shirt.
Giles took her hand and led her out of the kitchen, turning off the lights as they went. When they reached their bedroom, he fingered the hem of her shirt and slowly pulled it up over her head. She reached around and unhooked her bra, allowing it to fall to the floor, her eyes holding his. He pulled his shirt off and stood before her as she ran her hands up his torso and through his chest hair.
"I want you too," Buffy whispered, kissing the spot above his heart before taking his hand and leading him over to the bed where they took the time to reacquaint themselves with each other's bodies as they removed the rest of each other's clothes, neither wanting to rush the moment.
After falling into bed together, the couple shared loving kisses and intimate touches before Buffy pushed Giles onto his back and started to kiss her way down his neck and over his chest, only stopping to kiss and nibble one nipple and then the other before trailing more open-mouth kisses down his stomach.
Giles writhed beneath her, his right hand grabbing the headboard above him as she headed lower and lower down his torso, the muscles in his abdomen twitching in response to her touch. He let out a frustrated groan as she licked her way from his belly button down over his left hip, ignoring his throbbing erection. Reaching further down, she dragged her nails up the sides of his thighs and Giles involuntarily thrust towards her.
"Buffy," he ground out through clenched teeth, not knowing whether he wanted her to continue her torturous assault on his body or whether he wanted to flip her over and have his own way with her. When she looked up at him with darkened eyes and a mischievous grin, he fell back into the pillows, breathing hard.
The Slayer reached above her and laid her arm across his midsection, kissing her way up from the base of his cock to the tip before taking him into her mouth. As she sucked her way back up, Giles let go of the headboard and fisted his hand into her hair. Over the next several minutes her tongue twisted him into knots and he could feel oblivion approaching fast.
Releasing his hold in her hair, Giles ran his index finger down her cheek and she looked up at him through lust clouded eyes, releasing him. His breathing was ragged and he tried to calm down as she prowled her way seductively up his body, straddling his thighs. Leaning over him, she licked her way up his neck and kissed her way over his jawline before taking his lower lip between her teeth. He moved forward and opened his mouth wider, darting his tongue out to lick her top lip, and she let go, their mouths fusing together in a searing kiss.
He held her tightly, his arms bringing her down to lay against him and she quickly sank down on his rampant cock. Caught unaware, Giles reared up, the muscles in his jaw and neck flexing as he fought for control, and he moved his hands down to grab her waist, stilling her. When he finally relaxed beneath her, she started to move against him, slowly at first and then with more enthusiasm.
Her eyes held his as they pushed each other further beyond the limits of control, and Giles, feeling himself slip closer to the edge, flipped their positions to help him stay in control for a little while longer. Raising her legs over his shoulders, he thrust deeply into her, eliciting excited moans and grunts from her. Quickening the pace, he reached down and rubbed her clitoris with his left thumb, and her body momentarily stiffened before she shuddered uncontrollably beneath him. Unable to hold on any longer, he let go, his orgasm violently claiming him as her name crossed his lips, and he rolled them over onto their sides and held onto her, peppering her face with little kisses between gulps of air.
Buffy snuggled into his chest trying to regain her composure. Looking up at her lover, she gave him a sweet smile and ran her hand through his sweat soaked hair. "Feels different," she said with the beginnings of a smile.
"How so, my love?" he asked, his green eyes soft and full of love.
"I don't know. It just feels so right... us... this... here. I wish I could explain it, but my brain is incapable of proper thought."
Kissing her forehead, Giles agreed, "It's never felt more right."
He reached down and pulled the duvet over their cooling bodies. Feeling her body relax into sleep, the Watcher knew it wouldn't be long until exhaustion claimed him too.