Way to Buffy
SETTINGS: IWMTLY. Did anyone else think that Giles looked a bit sad when he told Spike that there was 'no way to Buffy'. My interpretation.
SPOILERS: Up to IWMTLY
PAIRING: B/G. All from Giles' POV.
DISCLAIMER: Uh huh…yeah, cos ppl are silly enough to believe that I'm clever enough to create all these characters. Riiight. That says something bout them, not me. But for the legalists out there, the characters aren't mine.
He'd run into the store as though he owned the place. That was a laugh. I owned the place. He thought he was one of us. He could never be one of us. He was an ally, maybe. He could be trusted, possibly. He had proved that he cared about Dawn, certainly. But I would never entrust my Slayer's safety to William the Bloody, the Slayer of Slayers.
A vampire in love with a Slayer. I had to laugh at that. When Angel had loved her, I had thought it to be poetic, one of life's funny ironies. But Spike? I had no doubt that he could love, but…Buffy would never let herself trust him. Angel had given Buffy up in hopes that she would find someone who could take her into the sun, and Spike certainly couldn't give her that.
He was rambling off something about Buffy having misunderstood what he had told her. I honestly don't know what the vampire was thinking. Chaining the girl up and giving her ultimatums. 'Tell me you love me or I feed you to my ex'. No entirely conducive to getting the girl to love him.
"Misrepresentations, misunderstandings, slurs and allegations. I don't know what Buffy told you, but the thing is, the Slayer and I worked together, side by side, to get rid of Dru, who was up to no good. And I don't mind telling you-"
I wanted to kill him. I wanted to thrust a stake in his heart or throw him outside into the sunlight. I wanted to grab that bloody troll hammer and smash his head to bits with it. But I kept my cool. Until Ripper came to play.
The glasses came off. I took a step closer to him, thankful that the once brutal vampire was now neutered.
"Spike. Listen to me."
"It's just…I'm trying to explain. She might have said some things that sounded like I expressed some kind of feeling-"
I'd had enough. I shoved him backwards, suddenly not caring if the glass unit behind him cracked. I moved towards him, slowly, focusing on him and not on the incredulous stares that I knew I was getting from Willow, Tara, Xander, Anya and Dawn. I was just thankful that my Slayer wasn't there to witness this Ripperish attitude.
"We are not you your friends," I said, my voice low and deliberately threatening. I could tell he could see the subtext written in my eyes. I would have no qualms about staking this vampire if he ever crossed me.
"We are not your way to Buffy." As though I would ever try and convince Buffy that Spike was worthy of her affections. That Spike would ever be worthy to even fight beside her, let alone share a bed with her. It was almost laughable.
"There is no way to Buffy." Believe me, I know.
I picked up the blanket and slammed it into his chest.
"Clear out of here. And Spike. This thing. Get over it."
He gave a small smile, almost nervous. "I don't know what you mean."
"Yes, you do," I counter. "Move the hell on."
He bit his lower lip and I honestly wondered whether he was about to start crying. My pondering wasn't long however when his lip began to curve up into a sardonic smile.
"Oh, this is priceless!" he says, pushing me backwards. His chip doesn't go off, but the slight shove didn't hurt at all.
I glare at him, wondering what he's planning.
"No way to Buffy, huh Rupes?" he asked. I wonder if he's about to remind me of that hateful spell Willow did that ended up with me blind and Spike and Buffy engaged, playing tonsil hockey in my living room.
"I guess you'd know," he taunts.
And that's when my eyes go wide. He knew. And he knew that I knew that he knew. This was not, as Buffy would say, 'of the good'.
"Move on, the Watcher says," Spike continued. "Like you did, you mean?"
I can feel the others reacting around me even though I can't see them. I can feel the back of my head being stared at by five sets of eyes. None of them had known, had even suspected. I swallowed, trying to swallow down the ball of nervousness that I suddenly felt.
Three years of pretending to be a father figure, pretending that I wasn't jealous of Riley, of Angel, of that pillock Parker who had damaged my poor girl so tremendously by being so callous and cruel about their encounter. Three years of watching her grow up, to become the young woman that she is today. Three years of loving her and never being able to, never being allowed to touch her in the ways that I wanted to. There were times when she would look at me, and I'd wonder if she knew, if she even suspected that my feelings weren't fatherly in nature at all.
Three years of hiding this secret that I would never have burdened my Slayer with and Spike dashes it all with one single comment.
Spike just raises one eyebrow and continues to smirk. I wonder what the others would think if I just pulled out the stake buried in my pocket and stuck it in his heart. Would they think I'd done it because Spike had offended me, or because he'd been right on the mark. I idly wondered how long it would take to get back to Buffy. Between Spike and his big mouth and the gossip central of the Scooby Gang, I knew that by the end of tonight, I would, officially, be mortified even further.
Spike chuckled and walked calmly to the door.
"Wonder who'll get to tell her first Rupes. You or me?" With that he was back under his blanket and out the door.
I closed my eyes and wished that the hellmouth could be relocated to under my store, rather than still under the library that had once been mine. If it had swallowed me whole at that very second, I would have been thankful.
I had five very curious Scoobies to answer to. Breathing out slowly, I turned, hoping that I looked calm and non-committal. I knew my hopes were far too optimistic.
Tara had a small smile on her face, as though she had just heard something that she had already known. She's quiet but she notices things. If she hadn't noticed the way I look at my Slayer, I would've been surprised.
Willow looks as though she's auditioning to be a codfish. Tara touches her shoulder gently and Willow's mouth closes, but her eyes are still shocked.
Anya just grins and goes back to her position behind the register.
Dawn is scrunching up her nose in something akin to disgust. I can almost hear her voice. Sounding oddly like Buffy's. "Cos you're very, very old and it's gross."
Xander is looking at me as though I've grown two heads, his eyes wide and almost fear-filled. I can hardly blame him. The entire time I've been in Sunnydale, all I've been to these children has been a father-figure. It's what I was, and still am to five of them. But my Slayer has always been different.
The Scooby Gang may have seen as much as Buffy has, but they'll never know what it's like. They can walk away at any time. Oz did. Cordelia did, though she was sucked right back into it again. Riley walked away from Buffy (stupid boy). Xander and Willow have been there from the beginning and haven't turned away yet, but one day they will. One day, they'll have families, they'll get married and move away from Sunnydale, away from this hellmouth. And maybe every now and again they'll remember Buffy, my remarkable girl with such fire and passion. And maybe they'll shed a tear for the future she will never have a chance at. But they will never know what it's like to be recruited in a war that will never end.
And Buffy. She is the Slayer. She will never have children. She will probably never get married. She may never fall in love again. I've read Watcher's journals, been particularly interested in them lately, and I've been paying particular attention to any Slayer who's reached their twentieth birthday. There's only five diaries to pay attention to though.
Five Slayers in the last two centuries who made it past twenty. Three who made it past twenty one. And the oldest Slayer was twenty two when she died after having been called when she was seventeen. Five years.
My Slayer was called when she was fifteen. She turned twenty a few months ago. Five years.
And these Slayers were reputably brilliant. The Slayers who make it out of their teens usually are. But then something happens. It's not that they encounter vampires who are stronger than they are. It's not that they find a foe worthy enough to take them down. It's that they want begin to get worn down. They begin to want death.
And my Slayer…she's beginning to want it. I can't sleep without her nightly report, just to know that she's at home and safe. I watched her on patrol once, and I was astounded with how good she was, but she was still making small mistakes. I once saw her drop her stake intentionally and then think better of it, dropping into a roll to retrieve it. I never mentioned it, fearing that if she began telling me of her death wish, it would only make it that much more real.
I don't think my Slayer will make it to twenty one. I don't think she wants to. It's not that she doesn't want to live her life. I know that she loves Dawn, loves her friends, loves me, but…she wants it over. She wants this never-ending nightmare of vampires and demons to come to a halt, even if that means she has to leave her friends behind.
Part of me is surprised she has made it this far. It makes me wonder how much further she needs to be pushed before she loses it completely. Before she lets some vampire have their 'one good day'.
The bell on the door rings and I look up, my heart catching in my throat as my Slayer walks in the door, smiling for all to see. It's becoming rare to see this girl smiling. But today, it's there.
"Hey guys," she greets everyone, but everyone still seems to be in shock and she is greeted only with silence.
"Uh…hello? You guys alright?" she asked.
Xander isn't a help at all . He looks pointedly at me, then at Buffy, then at me, then at Buffy. Buffy raises an eyebrow and looks to me for answers. I just shrug, hoping that she'll accept my non-committal reply.
She looks back at the Scoobies.
"Anyone wanna tell me what's going on?" she asks.
Dawn looks away, suddenly interested in a trinket on a shelf. Willow and Xander gulp simultaneously and Tara just continues to smile softly. It would have been funny if it weren't for what was at stake. My entire relationship with this girl was on the line and what I wanted, more than anything in the world, was to run far from this store and never have to face my feelings for her. Feelings that would never be reciprocated.
"Come on…what's with the silence? You're making me nervous."
Nervous? You don't even know the meaning of the word, love.
"Everyone's just uncomfortable cos Spike just told us that Giles is in love with you."
And that is one of the reasons why Anya will be getting fired in about five seconds. Buffy's eyebrows shoot up and she looks at me. I can feel myself turn red under her inspection.
I have to say that Tara is becoming one of my favourites.
"Maybe we should go," she whispers to Willow. Before Willow can even reply, the blonde witch is tugging her out the door and grabbing Xander's arm as well.
Dawn looks torn between staying and going, but she knows she'll get asked to leave. She follows and lets Anya open the door for the two of them to exit.
Which leaves my Slayer and I alone. It's not exactly an irregular occurrence but right now, I somehow really wish we were back in the library above the hellmouth.
I look anywhere but at her. My Slayer. This young woman who I've watched grow from girlhood to being an incredible young woman. She's had so much piled onto her shoulders and yet she's still standing. I wonder if she can take this, my secret, onto her shoulders as well.
This girl, my Slayer, is kind-hearted. Never deliberately cruel, except to vampires and demons, and I know that her rejection of me will not be callous or pitiless. She will let me down gently. And then she'll never wish to be alone with me ever again. She'll look back at every look, every touch, every time we've been training and we've accidentally brushed against each other, and she'll search for hidden meanings. I hate that Spike may have just ruined my entire relationship with my Slayer. And as much as I wish to blame Anya, it is Spike who will take the fall. Or the end of a very blunt stake with a lot of muscle behind it.
She sits at the table, waiting for me to make my move. She's letting me be in charge of this. Rather unusual, seeing as she's never been this submissive to my authority before. But today I am grateful.
I move to the table and sit on the other side, deliberately putting as much distance between myself and my Slayer to give her time to leave if she wants to.
I have to admit that the words that come out of Buffy's mouth aren't the words I expected to hear. I had anticipated an 'I'm sorry', or 'you're like a father to me', but no. She is, and forever will be, a mystery to me.
"So, you think Xander's eyes will ever reduce back to their normal size?"
Her voice was quiet, but there's something behind it. She was nervous. I supposed she should be. For the last six years I have been a friend, a mentor. A father-figure. To have someone blurt out that a forty something year old Englishman is in love with them can't really be good for the psyche.
"I-I…I'm not sure," I replied. Very smooth. I could have kicked myself for it. Returning to the stutter.
She looked up and gave a half smile.
"Terrified," I replied, without really thinking.
She nodded and bit down on her lower lip. I haven't seen her do that in a while. She must really be worried about things changing.
I really don't know what else to say. How do you tell someone that you're in love with them even though it's so incredibly wrong. As a Watcher, falling in love with a Slayer is strictly forbidden. Hell, I was fired for having a 'father's love' for her. What would the Council say if they ever found out?
I have a feeling though that Quentin Travers, ponce extraordinaire, has some sort of an idea about me loving her. His threats to deport me back to England were aimed more at me than at my Slayer. I have to say though, I was extremely gratified to hear her say that she couldn't lose me. Didn't want to lose me.
They picked the perfect thing. I can't lose you.
The way he looked between Buffy and I after she had shown the Council that she worked better without orders than with them. The speculative glance that he had cast upon us. The slight innuendo that Buffy had been too upset to pick up on, even though I did.
I'll give you time to…well, uh…however you prepare.
I have to admit I nearly killed him for that look. I was just somewhat grateful that Buffy was far too distracted by the Council's idiotic tests to worry about small innuendos.
"Is it true?" she asked quietly.
To say that this girl amazes me constantly would be a severe understatement. I had expected her to run out of the store, never to return. I had expected her to go into denial. Possibly to start throwing punches. But this quiet acceptance of things shocked me.
She had matured, this girl, my Slayer. And I loved her even more for it.
"It's uh…it's complicated."
She smiled at that.
"Yes or no, Giles."
I hesitated only for a second. "Yes."
She nodded and we sat in silence once more. It was a good half an hour before anything more was said. It was so quiet in there. I have to admit, I was shocked to feel comfortable sitting there with her. Here I was, just having admitted that I loved her, and I was sitting in comfortable silence with her.
Eventually she just looked at me with the eyes that I adored so much.
"So now what?"
She's so quiet, I barely even heard the question.
A million possibilities run through my head. Jumping over the table and kissing is right up there on the list of the top ten. Telling her that she doesn't have to do or say anything to me is another possibility, even though I desperately want her to say something. Yes or no. Could she ever love me like that?
"Well, uh…that's up to you I suppose."
She looks conflicted and I'm suddenly very much wanting to kick Spike's arse for putting this rift between my Slayer and I. I can't even imagine what she must be thinking. It's too much for me to even pretend to imagine that she might feel the same way about me.
I'm trying not to look at her, for fear of never being able to tear my eyes away from her. She's beautiful, my Slayer. Inside and out.
And even though I'm not looking, I see her hand come up to her face and wipe a tear away. Good Lord, I've made her cry.
It's a gentle question that comes from my lips, not demanding anything. She looks across at me and bites her lower lip. I hear her breathe in a shuddering breath and wonder what will become of us. We're going to leave the Magic Box today with a completely different relationship, even if she does tell me that she doesn't think of me the way that I think of her. The way that I love her. And I love her so much that it hurts.
She clears her throat and looks down at her hands on the table. She's fidgeting quite badly and I know she's nervous. I've been watching her for nearly six years now, so I know her idiosyncrasies as well as she knows mine.
"So…ball's in my court," she said quietly, still not looking at me.
Suddenly, I really don't think I want to hear this. I can see it being incredibly painful for both of us.
"We…we don't have to discuss this right now," I tell her.
She finally looks up at me with a half smile. "It's now or never Giles. And…honestly, I think we need to talk about this. It's just…"
I don't want to fill in the expletive, but somehow I just can't help myself. "Weird?"
She tilts her head to the side and gives me a short glare. Funnily enough I feel sufficiently chastised.
"I would have gone for 'confusing', 'sudden', 'unexpected'."
"I…I know you've never thought a-about me that way-"
"It's not that," she says quickly. A little too quickly. I raise my eyebrows and she goes a delightful shade of red. Not only can I make my Slayer cry, I can also make her blush. It makes me wonder what else I can get my Slayer to do. My fantasies of it include making her scream and beg and plead and come and…well, the list is countless, I assure you.
And her quick denial of her lack of feelings for me has just completely spun me for a loop. In her own roundabout fashion, she basically admitted to thinking of me in 'that way'. I think Lucifer himself just rented a pair of ice-skates for the winter season in hell.
"What is it then?"
I wonder if I sounded a little too desperate. But I had to know. I could feel my heart pumping erratically in my chest, feel that lump of nervousness make its way from my gut to my throat. It was painful, but somehow worth it all.
In the silence, I actually heard her swallow nervously.
A tear slipped from her eyes and I felt guilty immediately.
"My…my track record isn't…well, it's not great."
I think that's the ultimate understatement. Angel: demon. Parker: bloody pillock. Riley: addicted to demons. No wonder my girl's so fragile.
"Neither is mine."
The second it leaves my lips, I wish I could have taken it back. She looks up, stricken, and I honestly can't believe I was stupid enough to say that. She bites her lip and another tear makes its way down her face.
"We both know who's fault that was," she said. Her voice was so quiet that I wonder if she even said it at all.
What happened to dear Jenny is still a very sore point for her. I wonder again at how many things this girl feels guilt for. It's only now that I realise how heavily every death weighs on her. My Slayer is so very different from Faith. The darker Slayer couldn't even feel guilt for a death at her own hands let alone one that she had no real connection to. But Buffy is incredibly different. Every person that she cannot save kills a small part of her inside.
For that reason alone, I hate every single vampire on the face of this earth. They kill without remorse, and the deaths of their victims lay within this girl that I love.
"What happened wasn't your fault. You weren't to know that Angelus would go after her. And Olivia left because she couldn't handle the dangers of Sunnydale, even though she would have been well protected if she had stayed," I explain gently.
She swallows, and I can somehow tell that she accepted what I said about Olivia. I doubt she will ever believe that Jenny's death was in no way her fault.
There was silence for a few more minutes before Buffy sighed and leant back in her chair.
"Well, that took a depressing turn for a conversation that had the potential to end kinda good."
Now I know I'm hearing things. Lucifer just started selling tickets to the ice show for the whole year round. I held my breath and took a chance.
"It uh…it can still end well."
She looked up and smiled at me, and I couldn't help but wonder how on earth three men had left her. I can't imagine living with her in my life, let alone leaving her voluntarily.
"I want it to end well Giles, I really do, but…Giles, you are the most important person in the world to me, next to Dawn and my mom and…I don't wanna do anything to ruin that," she said. "But…at the same time, I really wanna take a chance with you. I know I can trust you, I always have, it's just…I don't know if I trust me. Both of my major relationships have ended with the guy leaving town and…I don't think I could handle you leaving."
I nodded, understanding her hesitation towards beginning something that could have the potential to be life-altering. It would completely change the nature of our relationship, and I knew that there would be no going back for either of us. We mean too much to each other to just try for something that could never work.
If we began something, it would be permanent. It would be forever, however long that was. However long she…or I, for that matter…had.
"Buffy, I won't leave you. I didn't leave when they fired me, and I certainly wouldn't ever choose to leave your side," I told her truthfully.
She nodded, knowing that I would never lie to her. She trusts me with everything that she is, but even then, some things are out of my control. I know she loves me, even though she's never said those three little words that I have so longed to hear from her. Plus, she had, in her own roundabout fashion, admitted that her feelings for me weren't exactly platonic. Ever since Riley had left, I had noticed her reaching out towards me more and more often. I had, of course, put it down to wishful thinking on my part.
I think it may have been the Council who had finally confirmed what she had been feeling. When Travers had threatened to make me leave the country, I had seen in her eyes the look of complete devastation, not just because she needed me, but because she wanted me there with her, in every capacity that she could have me.
She had, however, assumed that Travers had been right in saying that I had a father's love for her. She had never assumed that I could be in love with her as well. It had certainly put quite a spin on everything in both of our realities.
"Do you…do you think we could…could we just go slow?" Buffy asked.
I felt his heart almost burst in my throat as I heard her words. She wanted to be with me. She wanted to begin a relationship with me! She wanted exactly what I wanted and she was asking me if they could begin something. What had started as a completely awful day had ended up as one of my greatest fantasies. (Well, if I was honest, that was really one of my tamer fantasies, but…it was up there in the top ten. Well, twenty at least.)
"I uh…I think we can do that," I managed to reply. I wanted to shout and scream to the world that this girl was finally mine in every way. She had always been mine since the first day she had walked into the library of Sunnydale High School. She hadn't known it, but the second I saw her, I knew she would be mine.
Buffy smiled and stood up, closing the gap between us and held out her hand to help me to stand as well. She hugged me tightly, and I could feel a few of her tears soak through my shirt. I don't think I've ever felt this content since…well, it had been a long time. Ever since she had gone to college, everything had changed and the world seemed to be rushing at her, trying to break her. But I had tried to remain constant to her, and for that, I knew she was grateful.
It had hurt like hell, but I knew what she was doing. She had never meant to consciously pull away from me. She was trying to grow up, prove that she didn't need me, even though she knew she did. The only problem was, when I told her that she had to be self-reliant, I didn't realise how much that I needed her as well. It's a reciprocal relation, the bond between a Slayer and her Watcher. There's love and trust and loyalty, and if that is taken away, there's very little left. We had both hurt each other terribly last year, but now wasn't the time for that.
She looked up at me, her eyes teary and far too old for a twenty year old to bare. She may be young in years, but a twenty-year-old Slayer was the equivalent of a forty year old in many ways. Possibly older. Most forty year olds haven't seen an eighth of what she has seen.
Her hand reached up to touch my cheek and I could feel myself responding to the smallest of touches. She wiped away an errant tear and kissed her finger, taking in the salty moisture on her finger-tip. Her comforting gesture was quite possibly one of the sexiest things I had ever seen. I wanted to say something, wanted to assure myself that this was really happening, but I knew that I would stutter if I even opened my mouth a little.
The choice was taken away from me when my Slayer's curiousity finally got the better of her. She had been glancing at my lips in the same way that I had been looking at hers. I had wondered if they would taste as soft as they looked. It didn't take much longer to find out.
She tasted of light and sunshine, an intoxicating combination that filled my senses. It was possible to believe that the world would be fine as long as her lips stayed on mine, and I quickly understood why Angel had lost himself within her. Perfect happiness had been what it had taken to lose his soul, and from just kissing this girl, I knew that being inside her would be heaven.
We pulled away at the same time, both of us breathless and astounded. I had worried that there couldn't be any chemistry between someone so old and someone so young, but it seemed as though we had been made for each other. Two parts of a greater whole, and even though I had never before believed in soul-mates, I knew that she and I had been made for each other. Watcher and Slayer. It was right and pure and everything that I had ever hoped it would be.
And as she smiled up at me with her cheeky half smile before pulling me in for a kiss, my doubts and disbeliefs flew out the window.
Our decision to go slowly ended up with my doubts. Completely gone. We ended up in the training room, our room, she had called it. I had wanted out first time to be perfect, roses and candlelight and music after a beautiful dinner and dancing, but her words and the way she had said it had made my resolve disappear.
"It's our room. There's nothing more perfect. And it's us. You and me. We don't need anyone or anything else."
She was right of course. That and I really wanted to make love to her.
And as we lay in a blissful state many hours later, wrapped in each others arms, I idly wondered if I should stake Spike, or thank him.