Chapter 6 – We’ve Got Tonight
“Listen,” Buffy called up the stairs. “I have to go. I totally forgot this extra shift I have tonight, and if I’m late again my manager is seriously gonna fire me. I should be back around midnight, Will. If anything happens, call Xander. And even Anya said she’d come over if you need her.”
“I’ll be fine, Buffy.” Willow sighed from the top of the stairs. “I’m a little old to constantly need a babysitter.”
The Slayer looked up at her with a worried expression. “This is Sunnydale. We all need a babysitter if the Hellmouth is messing with us.”
“It’s all right. I don’t think they’ll bother me anymore.” She turned her gaze to the floor and mumbled. “If Giles doesn’t really want me, that’s okay. I’m not gonna…”
“Don’t you dare,” Buffy growled. “So help me, someone around here is going to get a happy ending.” She glanced at her watch. “Damn it, I need to go. You just put that thought on the way back burner until I can come home and knock some sense into you.” She grabbed the doorknob, continuing to mutter, “Giles doesn’t want you my ass…” and yanked the front door open.
Dawn was standing there, key at the ready. She saw her sister and grinned, “Hey, Buf--” The greeting was cut off as she was pulled into a crushing hug. “Slayer strength… Oxygen…”
“Sorry,” Buffy smiled shyly as she loosened her grip. “I just never thought I’d miss having the little brat around so much.”
“I’m bigger than you,” Dawn retorted, falling easily back into their usual sister teasing match.
They heard the quick thumping of footsteps on the stairs and Willow was suddenly with them. The witch’s gaze earnestly scanned past her young friend and out into the early evening.
Dawn hugged her tightly and whispered in her ear, “He’s not here. I’m sorry. It’s only me.”
Willow shook herself a little and gave an apologetic smile as the hug was released. “Sorry. I am glad to see you, Dawnie. I just…”
“Don’t worry. I understand.”
“So, is he waiting for it to get darker, or something?” Buffy asked, ushering everyone back inside.
The younger sister bit her lip before sighing, “He’s not coming. They dropped me off, and they’re gone.”
“Oh,” the Slayer frowned. The thought that it was her that Giles couldn’t stand to see was clearly written on her face.
“Giles said that there’s something up, something he doesn’t understand yet. He and Ethan are on their way to London. They think they can figure it out there.” She touched Buffy’s arm comfortingly. “He said he wanted to get the information as soon as possible so you would know what’s coming. As soon as he does, he’ll be back.”
The Slayer nodded slowly. “Did he say anything else… about me?”
Dawn shook her head.
Willow frowned, knowing what her friend was looking for. “You know how Giles gets when he’s trying to figure something out. I’m sure he’s not still upset at you.”
Buffy swiped angrily at a tear before it could fall. “Even if he is, that’s no excuse for not stopping to see you.”
“Well, that’s a little more complicated,” the redhead chuckled sadly. “We were a longshot to begin with, and duty always comes first. Maybe next time.” She raised her hand against more attempted comfort. “Aren’t you gonna be late for work?”
“Screw ‘em,” Buffy sat on the couch pulling Dawn down with her. “First I wanna hear all about the trip.”
It was dark on Revello Drive. There were street lights on the corners, but that was hardly enough to light the entire stretch of houses. Plenty of inky hiding places were scattered around the neighborhood. One such patch across the street from 1630 was occupied by a tall figure quietly watching the house.
He didn’t react when Spike appeared beside him and spoke. “Usually I’m the only creeper dares hang ‘round here.”
“Sorry I stole your spot,” Giles dead-panned.
They watched in silence as the light in Willow’s room came on. Spike lit a cigarette and, without a word, the Watcher reached over and took it from him.
“Slayer told me you gave those up,” Spike muttered, lighting another.
“What’s it going to do, kill me?”
That pulled a snort from the bleached blond. “Not anymore. But your little chit up there might not like the taste on you.”
“It’s not something she’ll have to worry about tonight.”
Willow’s light went out.
“Ah, so I see dying hasn’t made you any less of a stupid git.”
Giles took a long drag of smoke and threw the rest of the cigarette into the street. “What do you know about it?”
“I know that we can both hear a sweet and brave young woman up there crying to herself ‘cause she thinks she’s not wanted.”
The Watcher turned his back on the familiar house. “Better a few nights of tears than what might happen if she ends up with me.” He took a step, but Spike blocked his path. “Willow will be safer and happier without--” The halfhearted explanation was halted by the impact of Spike’s fist rocking him back. Giles angrily flashed into game-face, but quickly regained control. “I’m glad you care so much about them,” he spoke calmly, “but I won’t let my feelings endanger--” Another punch to the face. “Spike! Let me pass,” came as a dangerous growl.
“No! Not until you tell me.” His third punch was caught in mid-swing by the larger vampire.
“What is it that you need so desperately to know?” its target ground out.
Spike tore his arm away, matching Giles’ intensity. Perhaps the Watcher was finally angry enough to face the truth. “Tell me what you’re so bloody afraid of. Why the fuck are you standing down here listening to the girl who loves you cry, instead of up there showing her how you really feel? If Buffy ever felt like that about me…”
Giles’ eyes bore into him with murderous rage, enough that even Spike fought the urge to squirm. The next moment he broke, his features crumbling into despair. “Because I can’t face losing her… I can’t see Willow end up like everyone else I’ve ever loved.”
The large vampire folded to the ground, his grief too heavy to bear.
Spike took a seat beside him, giving him a minute to school his boiling emotions. Then said, in a conversational tone, “Bet you’ve recently come face to face with every single one of ‘em, too.”
There was confusion in Giles’ eyes when he looked up. “What makes you say that?”
“’Cause ever since you and the Nibblet took off, I’ve been getting visits from everyone with two cents on the subject. Slayer, Dru, even bloody Angel. All yackin’ at me night and day, telling me that if I want to protect the little witch, I should keep you away from her.”
“Then, why aren’t you letting me go?” he asked softly.
Spike smirked, “Since when did I ever listen to people tellin’ me what to do? Point is, they were all a bit too reasonable, making too much sense. Even Dru. I mean, if she was gonna come back for you, she wouldn’t be bothering me about it. You’d just wake up an’ find yourself chained to a bed somewhere.” Giles couldn’t help a nod of agreement. “Then, a couple days ago, I got fed up with one of Angel’s rants and chucked a bottle at him. I’ve always thought the puff was transparent, but never seen anything go through him before.”
“You think someone’s using people from our past against us?”
“Not only us, Mate. Other day Willow told me she wasn’t worthy of you. Doesn’t sound to me like something Red would come up with by herself.”
Giles glanced back up at her window and growled, “Not Willow.”
“Got me thinkin’, why should so many people care if the boring, old Watcher starts bringin’ the girl flowers, or even starts showin’ her his antiques?” Spike smirked at the look on Giles’ face when he caught the vampire’s meaning. “Especially after seeing you two together in L.A. Fact is, they wouldn’t.”
“But something clearly does,” Giles continued the thought.
“Well, I haven’t been sober long enough to figure that part out. You got any ideas?”
They sat quietly for several minutes. At last Giles spoke up. “The demon,” he muttered.
“Gonna have’ta narrow that one down for me, Mate,” Spike chuckled.
“I was thinking about my demon, Magister. The reasons he wanted Willow so badly. I don’t think it was only my hidden desire driving him.”
“Way I hear it, he had big plans. The kind that requires plenty of power.” The blonde’s eyes widened as he caught on.
“And by adding Willow’s natural power to his own…”
“Not his, Watcher… yours. You two were supposed to become a literal black magick power couple.” Spike sped up as his mind absorbed the concept. “Only, the demon didn’t get the chance to turn Red, and now you’re back to being a white hat extraordinaire.” Giles winced at the title, knowing he was no hero, but Spike didn’t notice. “So, instead of being this giant force for evil, if you two hook up now… Well, maybe something is trying to head off a huge threat to its bad plans.”
“It must all be connected. The dreams, the robed men… Something big is starting. That’s why I have to go to London. The Watchers Council library is the only place I know of that might have the information we need.”
“Ya’ sure it’s a good idea for you to leave the kiddies alone when there’s a big bad on the way?”
“I have to. Our most powerful weapon is information. Buffy can handle anything that comes along in the meantime. Plus, I know you’ll be here watching over them all in my stead.”
Spike felt a twinge of… was it pride, even gratitude, swell up. The Watcher had never shown any kind of trust or faith in him before. It was a strange, almost frightening feeling. He’d never before worried about letting this pompous prat down, but suddenly… Spike shook off the feelings and chuckled, “Council’s not gonna be too pleased to see you on their doorstep.”
“Oh, I’m counting on that,” Giles gave a wicked smirk.
When he attempted to rise and leave, his companion caught him by the arm. “Don’t you have someone to say goodbye to before you disappear again?”
Giles’ face darkened. He sighed, “Just because we’re being manipulated, doesn’t mean everything isn’t true. If I let Willow into my life--”
“News flash, Mate. She’s already in your bloody life. And you are in hers. After everything you’ve been through… Tell me this, why didn’t you ever tell her how you felt before Mr. Evil let the cat outta the bag?”
“Because it would have never worked,” Giles stated in a sure voice. “Willow was a child, my student. Then, when she wasn’t, there was Tara, and I could see Tara was everything Willow needed. But, even without all of that, even if she by some miracle decided to return my feelings, I wasn’t going to subject her to this.” He indicated himself. “I wasn’t going to chain her to a bloody old fool. I couldn’t make her watch me…”
“Watch you die?” Spike finished for him. “Guess what, she’s already done that. That girl has seen every possible ugly angle of you, and she’s decided to love you anyway. What you have to face now is that you’re gonna be the one to watch her grow old and die. And what you have to decide is if the joy she desperately wants to give you is enough to make that pain worth it. All I’m sayin’ is that, whatever you decide, you have to talk to her before you take off. Because, if you don’t, if you leave Red hangin’ in this bloody limbo of thinkin’ your cowardice is her fault, I’d suggest you not come back here.” The threat was written clearly in the vampire’s eyes. “All up to you now, Mate.” With that, Spike turned and left Giles staring up at the dark window.
... Chapter continues here. (grumbleposttoolargestupidljgrumble)
... Chapter continues here. (grumbleposttoolargestupidljgrumble)