Chapter 12 - in which Giles finally has the bollocks to say the things he must.
All Roads Lead To Rome - Chapter 12 - Into The Fray
Standing behind the door of the sitting room of Angel’s suite, Giles heard raised voices and the harsh tinkling of broken glass. Taking a deep breath, he opened the door, and strode into the room.
“ – so help me, Slayer! Just one more bloody word and I’ll…”
“Please, Spike. For me, just try to calm down. I'm sure that’s not what this is about,” begged Buffy.
“C’mon, Spike… deep breaths should help you to – ooops, look who I’m telling to breathe.” Xander chimed in, adding to the din.
The Watcher cleared his throat as he stood in the middle of the room.
“Giles, please,” said Buffy, as she jumped up from her position next to Spike on the couch and stood between two of the most important men in her life. “Just tell me that this isn’t going to disintegrate into another ‘Can’t you see there’s no trusting of that vampire, soul or not’ session. I’ve made my mind up to at least trust in Spike right now, and you know I love him. I’m not all-knowy about where we’re gonna end up. Today isn’t about thinking of fat grandchildren, just about being glad to be together for a bit. To have the time to think about what might be.
“As much as I love you, Giles, I no longer need a father figure, and there are plenty of other Chosens for you to be Henry Higginsish with. Don’t make me have to choose this time.”
As her shoulders began to tremble, Spike walked over to the little blonde and scooped her up into his arms.
“Look, Rupert,” the agitated vampire began. “I know what you think of me. You’ve made that perfectly clear over the years. Think what you will, s’no skin off my back. The one thing I bloody well won’t stand for is you upsetting Buffy anymore. We agreed to listen to your yammerings, but it will end, now. It’s time, innit? Time to bleedin’ well get over yourself and find someone else’s feet to lay your shit at. S’gotta be a vamp, there’s always Peaches to piss off.” Turning his back, Spike walked calmly over to the couch, and sat down, Buffy settling into his lap.
Realizing if Xander began to speak next that Giles would never get to say his piece, he began:
“Will the lot of you please let me get a word in, edgewise? I don’t understand how this has disintegrated into a pissing contest over Buffy. She is, after all, a young woman with an extraordinarily strong will and survival instinct. Single-handedly, she is responsible for the revamping of Council structure and operating procedure.”
With a single, oft practiced motion, he removed his glasses and rubbed his eyes with the back of his hand. “On an intellectual level, I know that Buffy is no longer ‘my Slayer’ nor is she my daughter. My heart, however seems to think otherwise. I will admit to letting this get in the way of my better judgment on occasion. For all the grief that my faulty choices have wrought, I apologize to you, Buffy. First and foremost, I never intended to cause you any distress. I’ve always had your best interests as the basis for anything I’ve said or done.”
Buffy sniffled, and said, “I know you’ve meant well, Giles. Honestly, I get that, but you really need to let me live my life as I see it. With whom I see fit. If it all falls to pieces, it’ll be my fault, or Spike’s, or whoever I end up with. That’s pretty much as normal as it’s gonna get for me.”
“Yes, my dear. In the future I shall endeavor to restrain my tendencies to want to pummel or dust anyone… sniffing around you.” Blinking rapidly, Giles attempted to stem the few unexpected tears that threatened to fall.
“Oi, Rupes! Nobody’ll be sniffing around my girl, not if I have anything to say about it.”
“Actually, Spike… I was referring to you. Hence the sniffing and dusting comment of just a moment ago,” Giles replied, a hint of challenge in his eyes. “And there’s no need for more growling, you git. I need to say a few words to you now, and I hope you’ll give me the courtesy of hearing me out.”
“Yeah, I’ll do, you miserable ponce,” the agitated vampire spat. “But if it goes in the same direction that all your other words have, I’m done. S’only so much a bloke can take.”
“All well and good, then.” Taking a deep breath, Giles forged ahead. “I know I’ve said it before, Spike. I don’t believe I was wrong when I made that damnable pact with Robin Wood to remove you as a perceived threat to Buffy, the potentials and everyone around them. However, I will say now that it wasn’t the smartest move I’d ever made.
“You do remember that life was impossibly hectic, yes? And that the frenetic pace of events hindered all of us from thinking clearly. You were a mess. Simply put, not in your right mind. You were having blackouts and being used to do despicable things for evil’s foul purpose.”
“Giles!” Buffy said, sharply. “You promised. There’s no reason for Spike to have to listen to this. He’s lived it, and suffered for it. It wasn’t his fault.”
“A means to an end, Buffy,” said the Watcher. “I promise… there is a point here, and it’s not meant to be inflammatory. Not this time,” he amended.
“The apology I offer you, Spike, isn’t for acting on my beliefs. It’s for totally dismissing you. Even amidst the stress of the times, I should have been able to set aside my prejudices long enough to see what was right in front of me. A demon, who had sought and fought for his soul to be returned to him. Who wanted to be more than he was. A de – no, a man who fought by and on our side for no remuneration; not even a simple acknowledgment or thanks. For totally going against the demon’s nature for years in spite of being treated like last week’s garbage. This is what I offer my apology for. And I certainly understand if you choose not to accept it.
“So, Spike – cat got your tongue?” Giles chided as he looked at the gobsmacked face of the vampire.
“Heh – didn’t quite know what else could shut you up, Spike – well, besides our little kissyface in the hallway,” came from Xander, who had been way too quiet for far too long. “I guess the list now includes hugs, kisses and apologies.”
Buffy giggled, and placed a small, sweet kiss on her vampire’s cheek. “C’mon, love. Say something to the nice Watcher.”
Roused from his shock, Spike turned to Giles and said, “I don’t quite know what to say, Rupert. I need you to know, what I did – I did for Buffy, not you. More importantly, I think towards the end, I did things for me. ‘Cause they were right and proper. It wasn’t easy, but it was clearer after awhile.
“Didn’t do things to earn ‘good vampire’ points with anyone. Just tried to help; to not bollocks things up too badly. Was no way going to let ‘er down again.” Looking directly at Buffy, he said, “This time, I was gonna save ‘er.” Emotion choked his voice, thickened his accent. “’Cause when all is said and done, it’s still all about Buffy.”
“No, Spike. I don’t believe it is all about Buffy anymore,” Giles said, thoughtfully. “While your heart still seeks hers out, and what she thinks is of importance to you, I have a growing suspicion that if she asked you to do something morally objectionable, you’d give it more than just a thought instead of acting rashly.”
“High praise, coming from you, Watcher,” said the vampire, warily. “You’ve given me credit for havin’ a heart as well as a brain, an’ usin’ the two, as well.”
“We may never see eye to eye on things, Spike. However, as I said before, I shall try to be more open minded, and let your and Buffy’s lives follow through to their natural conclusion, and not interfere.”
Buffy let out a little “whoop” of delight, and almost bowled the man over in her enthusiasm. She hugged him tightly, and whispered a heartfelt “Thank you, Giles,” in his ear.
“Oxygen, Buffy… some of us still need it,” gasped Giles.
“Sorry… I’m so sorry,” the petite blonde said, as she released him. “I’m just so happy! I never thought I’d be able to have this. I have my calling, however I choose to work it, I have my friends even though we’re on all different continents, and I have someone I love who’s not in immediate danger of being staked because of the first two things. It’s been really rough, guys,” she said, looking at both Giles and Xander. “I always felt I’d disappoint you, no matter what I did, or who I chose.” Turning to Spike, she continued. “I almost lost the best thing in my life by not believing in myself.”
Speechless, the platinum blond opened his arms, and his Slayer leapt into his embrace. Snuggled closely together, neither noticed the Watcher as he motioned silently to Xander that he was leaving.
Beta'd by the lovely willa_writes