Pairing: Buffy, Giles
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Summary: Buffy and Giles have a discussion after stopping Willow.
Author's Note: Thanks to littleotter73 for Beta-ing this fic.
It had been a few days since Willow had nearly destroyed the world, and Giles had decided it was time for him to leave for England. He was in no way healed enough to travel, but he couldn't exactly stay in Sunnydale any longer. He kept telling himself that he was leaving so soon to join Willow and help her with her recovery, that it had nothing to do with him wanting to keep Buffy form finding out exactly what he had been planning in order to stop the young witch's apocalypse.
He lifted his shirt to examine the damage the battle at the Magic Box left him with. He took in the sight of the hand shaped burn and the varying color of bruises that decorated his torso. It surprised him that it was the bruises that hurt him more than the burn. He hissed in pain as he lifted the shirt higher in hopes of seeing just how high up the burn went, the movement calling for him to wrap his arm around his battered ribs in efforts to support them. It didn’t come as a surprise that his ribs caused him the most pain. After all, he had been thrown against the ceiling and dropped from it.
Out of some childhood morbid curiosity that he never seemed to grow out of, the Watcher gently prodded at the mass of bruises on his side. He let out a small hiss of pain at the contact and dropped his shirt. His focus went to the battered area on his temple, the small amount of stitches blending into the black and blue skin.
“I thought you were staying for good,”
He turned around to see Buffy standing in the doorway, her expression void of emotion. He should’ve known that she would find out about his plan to leave.
“I was never planning to stay, Buffy. Besides, I need to help Willow.”
“I thought that coven she went to was going to help her.” The Slayer leaned against the doorframe and looked at him, almost as if she was trying to keep him there.
“It’ll go better if a familiar face is there.”
“Then send Xander.”
Giles narrowed his eyes as he looked at Buffy before shaking his head and sitting on the bed. He gingerly ran his fingers through his hair, wincing slightly as his fingers caused some tug on his scalp and pulled at the stitches.
“I don’t think that would be wise.” He said simply as he looked up at her, continuing at the raised eyebrow the blonde gave him. “I could be more help with this seeing as how I’ve gone through magic addiction already.”
“So it’s not enough that you almost died to help Willow, but now you have to leave after just getting here?”
He shook his head and looked down. The silence fell heavy on their shoulders, getting heavier until Giles felt as if he were drowning in it.
After a few moments, Buffy’s voice broke the silence. “Anya told me.”
“Told you what?” he asked as he looked up at her.
“That your plans didn’t involve you walking away from that fight alive.”
Of course Anya would tell, he thought to himself.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” she asked. “We could’ve worked out another plan, something that didn’t involve you dying. Stopping Willow isn’t a reason to kill yourself, Giles. Not when we could’ve come up with another solution.”
“We wouldn’t have worked anything out in time. The idea of Willow being completely consumed by black magic is reason enough for me to sacrifice myself.” He corrected as he looked at her. “It doesn’t matter now, Willow was stopped and my plan didn’t need to go as far as I had thought.”
“Yes it does matter, because if you died then…” she sighed when she couldn’t find the right words. “You came back and I got the idea that things were pretty okay between us and you’d stay.”
“Everything isn’t completely okay with us, but they’re better. I am so proud about how much you’ve grown since I left,” He pointed out as he looked down. “There’s still so much that we need to work out to even get remotely close to what we had. And one conversation won’t get that back.”
Buffy shook her head and scoffed, dragging her hand through her hair before pushing off the doorframe. Giles watched as she started pacing slightly.
“Fine.” She stopped pacing and stared at him, her arms crossed tightly over her chest. “Go back to England and be normal and English and whatever else you were after you left me.”
His head snapped up. He narrowed his eyes and stared at her. The next several moments passed as the Watcher and Slayer glared at each other, both daring the other to make a move.
“I know what you’re trying to do, and it won’t work Buffy.” He finally said, keeping his voice even.
“And what am I trying to do, Giles?”
“Make me feel like the bad guy in this.” He clarified. “I’m not staying because I’m needed elsewhere. And I couldn’t tell you what I was planning because then it wouldn’t have worked. You would have stayed and prevented me from doing what I needed to do.”
Buffy shook her head in disbelief. She walked up to him and drew herself to full height, not even bothered that Giles was still a good nine inches taller than her. He had seen that look on her face many times throughout their association; the expression of a young adult hell-bent on getting others to see things her way with no regard to the facts or feelings of those around her. As if imposing her will would change the situation to where she ended up in the right.
“None of this would’ve happened if you had just stayed in the first place.”
He took a step back, his jaw clenching at the accusation. “You’re blaming me for Willow’s addiction?”
“Yes, because if you had just stayed like I asked then you would’ve been here to stop her before things got this bad.” The blonde retorted. It was as if their conversation in the back room of the Magic Box had never happened. “If you had stayed then everything would’ve been pretty damn fine.”
“Don’t turn this on me, Buffy. No one could’ve gotten Willow to stop. The problem wasn’t me being in England; the problem was that Willow was an addict. She didn’t want to change, nothing would’ve made her change her mind unless she wanted it.”
“That’s not true. You went through this, you know the signs and know what to do…”
“Which is why I know that this still would’ve happened if I had been here!” he snapped. “Tara couldn’t get her to stop. If Willow wouldn’t stop for the woman she loved, why would she stop for me?”
He couldn’t believe that she blamed him, that she wasn’t even listening to him. His gaze dropped to the floor in despair.
“I’m leaving tonight,” he said softly.
His fingers curled until they dug into his palms at how indifferent she sounded.
Giles looked up when the door slammed shut. He took a deep breath and leaned against the wall, feeling the weight of the conversation hit him. He didn’t want to leave with this tension between him and Buffy, but if she didn’t listen to him then he wouldn’t force her to see things from his end.
Even if it meant they would never be as close as they once had been.