Summary: Giles reminisces about his past.
Timeline: Season 5
“Rupert!” He heard his father call from down the hall. He could hear feet moving toward his room. He quickly slammed his book shut and picked up the demonology text, flipping to the chapter he had been assigned.
“Yes, Father?” He called back, looking up from his book just in time to see his father standing in the doorway. He saw the annoyed look on his father’s face, unable to recall what he’d been told that he’d obviously forgotten that earned him that look.
“Rupert, I thought I told you to change, the slayer will be here any minute. We need to make a good impression. This is the first slayer I’m taking charge of.” He said, a small variant of what he’d been saying all week.
“O-of course.” He stammered out, putting his book down and moving to stand up, the book he’d been reading for fun falling onto the floor in front of his father. He bent to retrieve it but before he could pick it up a much larger hand picked it up instead. He looked down at his feet as he stood, knowing he’d be in trouble.
“This isn’t the reading that was assigned to you.” He heard his father say, he could hear the pages being flipped while he looked down at his shoes.
“I-I’m sorry. I j-just read for a moment.” He said, knowing that it didn’t matter. His duty as a future watcher was his father’s first priority this last year. Ever since his mum got sick.
“I don’t need excuses, Rupert.” He said with a sigh. “You know how I feel about these books.” His father said, waving his copy of Dracula in the air in front of him for emphasis. “Now, I’m going to keep this, you’ll get it back when you finish your reading… And get dressed.”
“Yes, Sir.” He muttered as he shut his door so he could change into the suit his father had set aside for him to wear. He was mostly ready when he heard a knock on his door. His tie still wasn’t done, he never could figure out how to get the knot just right.
He opened his door and looked up at his father who stood ready, in a similar suit. “You’re not ready?”
“I’m sorry, Father.” He apologized. “My tie, it won’t… I don’t know how.” He said lamely. His mum had shown him how to tie one once when they went to a funeral for a distant cousin. Halfway through the funeral he’d pulled it loose in nervousness that it had to be retied. His mum had since always let him wear clip on ties.
But his mum was gone, and his father told him that the time for childish conveniences was long past. His father sighed and knelt down, his hands moving to the tie. “Look up.”
Rupert did as he was told, looking up so his father had easier access to fix his tie. A few minutes later her felt the collar of his shirt being folded back down into place and he looked at his father for approval, hoping that his appearance was up to snuff.
He saw a smile on his father’s face and for a moment he seemed like his old self, like he was before she died. “Much better.” He heard his father say, before standing back up.
Rupert watched his dad walk out of the room. His dad hadn’t always been this way; some had described him recently as being cold and aloof, since his mum had died over a year ago. Before that, his father had been very warm, generous with his approval, and always had a smile on his face. He’d been a watcher, but he still had time for his family. Everything changed when the cancer came. That was when his father had thrown himself into his work. They couldn’t fight his mum’s illness, but they could fight the forces of darkness.
It was after his mum’s funeral that he’d learned about his destiny as a watcher. He’d protested, he wanted to be a fighter pilot. But his protests fell on deaf ears. It was the day everything had changed. Gone were the days of building model airplanes with his dad, gone were the days of family movies, and gone were the clip on ties.
He brushed his hair, making sure it looked flawless before making his way down the stairs, he could hear a car making it’s way down the gravel drive. As he made it down the stairs he saw the door already open, and someone was setting down a suitcase. What he saw surprised him. He’d never met a slayer before he didn’t know what to expect, but it hadn’t been the person standing in front of him.
She couldn’t have been more than a year older than him, apparently one of the youngest slayers in centuries to be called. With the title slayer he was expecting someone a bit taller, older, maybe with more muscles.
However, the most surprising aspect to her was not her looks, but the way she bounced up to him and yanked on his tie, loosening it around his neck. “So, I guess you’re like my new brother or something.”
He gulped nervously, He was terribly awkward around people he never met. “I’m
Rupert.” He introduced, holding his hand out politely.
He watched as she smiled and shook his hand. “I’m Anna. Also, I’m not going to call you Rupert it just sounds so… stuffy. I’m going to call you Ru.” She said. “Now come on, Ru, let’s go outside.”
He pulled his hand from hers as she attempted to drag him outside. He had been surprised for a moment, only his mum had ever called him that. “I-I have to s-study.” He told her, looking down nervously.
“Come on, Ru.” She said, tugging on his sleeve. “I want to see the neighborhood, and you already know your way around, you have to come with me or I might get lost and I won’t be back before dark and I could die.”
He bit his lip. “W-well, I wouldn’t want you to die.” He said, letting her drag him outside. He stopped when he heard his father call his name from behind him. He turned around, ready to apologize, but was cut off by his father’s voice.
“Be back before sunset, you two.” His father said, a glass of scotch in his hand. He pulled a tenner out of his pocket and handed it to Rupert. “In case you get hungry.”
“Thank you.” Rupert said, putting the money in his jacket pocket before turning back to Anna, smiling as he led her out of the house. He didn’t know it at the time, but this was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
Rupert Giles sat on his chair, a glass of scotch in his hand. He and Anna had four years together. One night, when she was sixteen, they were out patrolling and a vampire had gotten the jump on her. She had staked her attacker, but it had been too little too late.
He took a sip of his scotch, it had been thirty years ago to the day. He heard the door open and he looked up, finding Buffy walking through the door.
“Buffy? I wasn’t expecting you this evening.” He said, setting his scotch aside. “Are you alright?” He asked worriedly.
“I know, you told me to stay in, but with Glory running about I figured I should patrol, keep the local nasties under control at least.” She said, moving across the room toward him, her eyes flickering toward the glass of scotch. “Are you alright? I haven’t seen you drink since Adam.”
“I’m fine.” He assured her, gesturing for her to take a seat on the couch. “I really wish you hadn’t gone out tonight, Buffy.”
“What’s the what, Giles? You’ve never minded me patrolling by myself before.” She said, sitting down and stealing his glass of scotch. She took a sip and grimaced. She didn’t understand why anyone would drink it. “I mean, I’m the slayer, being alone is sort of my calling.”
“You’re not alone, Buffy. And my concerns aren’t about you they’re… it doesn’t matter. You’re safe, and that’s all that matters.” He said, getting up to take the scotch from her, her forays into the world of alcohol never ended well.
“I know, I’ve got you guys.” She said, standing up and standing in front of him. “Seriously, Giles, you don’t look like yourself. I mean, I know I’m not observe-y gal, but I’d have to be seriously blind not to notice something is different. I mean, either you haven’t been sleeping or you’re descended from raccoons.” She said, looking at the dark circles around his eyes.
He rolled his eyes. “I’ll be fine.” He said, finishing off the scotch and setting the glass aside. “Something is bothering me, but I’ll be fine in the morning, so it’s nothing you need concern yourself with.”
“Alright, I can take a hint.” She said, smiling slightly. “I’ll just get going.” She said.
He nodded. “Call to let me know you’ve made it home alright.”
“You got it.” She said, “Get some sleep, Giles. You look like hell… I would know, I’ve been there.” She joked, trying to bring some levity to the conversation.
“Goodnight, Buffy.” He said, watching as she walked out. He prayed she’d make it home in one piece. He’d never forgive himself if she didn’t, just like he’d never forgiven himself after Anna.
It had been his fault, he hadn’t known what he was doing, he didn’t think he’d need to, Anna was the slayer after all. But then his best friend was dead. His father blamed him, the council blamed him, and he even blamed himself.
He stood up and grabbed his jacket before walking out the door. Waiting on the sofa for a phone call wasn’t going to do any good. He was a watcher; it was time for him to watch. He wouldn’t relax until she was safely home. Another year down, and hopefully many more to go.