All Roads Lead To Rome - Chapter 8 - London Bridges
Spike and Buffy left Angel’s offices shortly after their little PDA routine was broken up by the cheers of the crowd, and the low growls of the elder vampire. They were currently enjoying some nice, quiet time alone in Spike’s basement apartment. Wasn’t much to look at, but ambiance wasn’t their first priority. At the moment, both Slayer and Vampire were very much lost to the world around them, caught up in the bliss of their lips touching. They forgot anything that existed besides themselves, the glory of knowing one another again.
Not so lost, however, that Spike didn’t chuckle when he heard the strains of “Wind Beneath My Wings” emanating from the direction of Buffy’s rear-end.
“What’s that, luv? You develop a new talent while I’ve been gone?” Spike said, his blue eyes twinkling with merriment. “Cute song… now where have I heard it before, hmm?”
Blushing prettily, Buffy glanced at the LED display, and noted the call was coming from London. She picked up the receiver. “Hello, Buffy Summers speaking. Hey Giles. Is everything okay?”
“Hello, Buffy. Everything is not fine here, as you should be well aware. We were supposed to have a debriefing regarding Andrew’s retrieval of Dana, as well as what he’d managed to learn regarding Angel’s involvement with Wolfram and Hart.
“Would you care to tell me just why in the bloody hell you snuck off without telling me? I know we’ve had our differences in regards to your personal life before, but don’t you think for an occasion this momentous that I would have put aside my personal misgivings and wished you well?”
Buffy took a deep breath before she began. It wouldn’t benefit anyone if she flew off the handle before uttering a single word. “Tell me something, Giles. How accommodating would you have been if I told you I needed to go to Los Angeles on personal business, without filling you in on the details? You’d have stood there, all huffy and parenty, and demanded to know just why I had to leave in such a hurry.” She glanced at Spike, who just rolled his eyes and kept silent, and mouthed ‘cleaning his glasses.’
Giles jumped in with both feet. “I know that Spike has been a horrid bone of contention between us, Buffy, but you have to remember several things. First and foremost, I am a Watcher. It was bad enough that I had given some measure of trust to Angel when he entered your life, and we both know how well that ended.”
“Spike was another issue altogether. Unsouled and vicious, he’d tried to kill us all over and over again. I have to be grateful that he did such a piss-poor job of things. Admittedly, you surprised me when you offered amnesty, and my home to the creature when he showed up at my doorstep that Thanksgiving when he’d been chipped, instead of staking him in his weakened condition.”
“Look, Giles,” Buffy began, but was cut off almost immediately.
“I would appreciate you letting me finish. I do feel you owe me that much. I am not trying to be adversarial at the moment, but I must get some of this off my chest before engaging in any sort of civilized conversation with you. Do you understand?”
“Sorry, Giles. Please, go ahead. I’ll be all mousy-like.”
“Thank you, Buffy. Now, as I was saying, living with Spike was not an easy thing, and he was most unappreciative and ungrateful during his tenure here. However, I will admit that he was somewhat useful in patrolling with you, and when you were gone, he took up more than his fair share of the slack that your absence created. He was also wonderful with Dawn, and I suppose nobody ever said a word of thanks to him for it.”
“When you had come back to us, and admitted to me you had been sleeping with him, I know I dismissed it out of hand in a rather rude manner, causing you to close yourself off from further discussion. I am so sorry for helping you to bury your feelings further than they already were at the time. Believe it or not, it was Andrew who made me realize my behavior directly affected your ability to be open and forthcoming about your trysts with Spike.”
From the couch, Buffy could see Spike getting agitated on her behalf. His ‘super vampire hearing’ had given him Giles’ whole attitude so far, and he was rapidly losing patience.
Putting her hand over the receiver, Buffy begged, “Please, Spike… I need to let him get this over with… you don’t have to worry about my feelings. I’m fine, and you know how I feel about you.”
Not saying a word, he stopped his pacing, and sat back down on the couch and huddled into her side, head on her shoulder.
“Giles, please get to the point already. I’ve been there and bear the tattoo,” Buffy sighed.
“And Spike can hear every word I’m saying, yes?” he queried.
“Oh yeah. With a capital uh huh.”
“Well, I have nothing to be ashamed of, Buffy. My feelings are my own, but I shan’t be much longer, I assure you,” Giles stated, and continued. “My biggest fear upon your return was that I had become lax in my duties, not only as your Watcher, but in regards to your friends’ behaviors, as well.”
“Willow’s issues were mounting, as you remember, and Xander and Anya were attempting an adult relationship. Dawn was becoming increasingly difficult to manage after the death of your mother, and your subsequent neglect. I know you tried to be everything to everyone, and ended up nearly destroying yourself in the process. When you started leaving all the big choices up to me, like parenting Dawn, and ignoring your friends’ problems, I knew I had to make you face up to your adult responsibilities, so I left. I believed I was right, in that you would pick up the slack left by my departure.”
Once more, Buffy could practically hear Giles remove and polish his glasses. A time out tactic, she figured.
“I was so wrong, Buffy, and I hope you’ve forgiven me by now for leaving you with far too many responsibilities while you were so unsettled. If I could change anything, it would be the decision to leave you so in the lurch.”
Tearing up at his admission, and recognition that he’d really hurt her by his departure, Buffy allowed, “It’s okay now, Giles. It’s of the past, over and done with.”
“Thank you, Buffy. I promise, this should wrap things up on my part. I appreciate you giving me the time, and you can thank Spike for not interjecting his objections at this point. I can practically see him straining at the leash to tear into the conversation,” he chuckled.
“Oh, I think you’ve hit that nail on the head,” she replied.
“It’s okay, Buffy, honestly, I am rather amazed at his restraint in the matter. No mind, the last bit of what I have to say is very simple and straightforward. When I returned to Sunnydale with the potentials, the Council had just been decimated. I was in what you would refer to as ‘Papa Bear’ mode. When Spike began exhibiting odd behavior, even for him? I couldn’t trust him. Finding out he’d managed to kill more than a dozen people with the chip still in place was not reassuring, and then you had it removed! Do you understand what was going through my mind? That was rhetorical, by the way.”
“I felt your judgment was faulty, and that your growing feelings for Spike were going to get us all killed. When Robin Wood also voiced his concerns, when the prokaryote stone had failed to disarm the trigger implanted in Spike’s brain, I felt I had to make a judgment call. I agreed to let Robin handle the situation while I kept you distracted.”
Even over the phone, Giles could hear a loud growl emanating from Spike, and he hurried to continue.
“I stand by my decision, based on the facts I had at the time. I do regret the fact that I was so single minded in wanting to protect you all, that I failed to even consider the enormity of Spike’s regaining his soul, no matter what the reason. Perhaps if I had bothered to actually talk with him, we could have found a less fatal way to deal with the whole situation.
“I lost your trust that day, Buffy… and I don’t think things have been quite the same since. We’ve mended some fences, but I am aware enough to know we have a long way to go yet. I would like to make a start, by speaking with Spike for a few moments, if that’s okay with you both.”
Practically grabbing the phone out of Buffy’s hand, Spike said, “Allo, Rupert. How’s life been treating you?”
Wearily, the Watcher said, “You’d think I’d be used to this by now, Spike.”
“C’mon, Rupes – it’s a bleedin’ telephone. Surely you’ve had time to get comfortable with the newfangled technology. I’ve got no problems with it, and I’ve been around a hell of a lot longer than you, mate.”
“Not that, you git!” choked out Giles. “I meant with people coming back from the dead.”
“Still dead, ponce.” Spike barely managed to control his amusement.
“Spike, put Buffy back on the phone before I say something I won’t be held responsible for,” Giles ground out.
Handing the phone over to Buffy, Spike was in a far better mood. Winding the old Watcher up was one of his favorite pastimes. Glad to see he hadn’t lost his touch.
“Hey, Giles. You’ve got to forgive Spike. Really, he’s been so good while you said your piece,” Buffy pleaded, trying to keep the laughter out of her voice, as well.
“Fine, Buffy. No problems. I do believe this is a conversation best had face to face, at any rate. At my earliest possible convenience, I’ll arrange for an extended visit to California, and we can do this in a civilized manner. Be well, Buffy. Both you and Spike, and I’ll see you soon.
Hanging up the phone, Giles just shook his head, removed his glasses and prayed for patience.
Let me know what you think, please! Enjoy.