Title: In My Place
Rating: FRM (mainly for language)
Timeline: Between S6 and S7.
Synopsis: Buffy’s been allowing people to take advantage of her guilt.
Author’s Note: Album fic. Song and lyrics can be found here.
Rupert Giles was a Watcher. His job description was fairly complicated, but one detail was simple. He was to Watch the Slayer. And that’s what we was doing at this very moment. Watching Buffy.
He had originally come back from England to help with Willow. A few days earlier, Willow had been safely transported to Devon…and Giles would join her there later. Right now, the coven would have her in isolation and…besides, he was needed here.
Buffy had told him of the time she had spent with Spike. She had told him everything…which was something he couldn’t remember her ever having done before. He recognized the thick layer of guilt coating her words as she walked him through the darkest moments of her life after Willow and the others had brought her back.
And now he Watched her trying to make up for everything she had ever done to every single one of her friends. And he wasn’t sure what upset him the most…the fact that she felt as if she had to or the fact that they weren’t stopping her.
She pretended that she was okay…and he was fairly certain that the others believed her. But, he didn’t. He knew Buffy too well. Their friends might not recognize the slight droop of her shoulders as she washed the dishes or the lack of light in her eyes when she smiled. But, he did…after all, he had been trained to pick up on each change in her demeanor and behaviour…no matter how small it was.
And now, as Buffy sat on the couch with the remote in her hands, he knew he had to address the problem. He cleared his throat and closed the book he had been pretending to read.
“Yeah?” She answered quickly, continuing to flip through the channels on the television.
“How long are you going to do this?”
“Until I find something worth watching. I mean, we have like a hundred channels…how can there not be something on?”
Giles shook his head and made his way over to her, dropping his book onto the chair as he stood. She met his eyes as he sat on the coffee table in front of her and took the remote from her hands.
He turned the television off and dropped the remote onto the table. “I wasn’t talking about the television, Buffy. I was referring to the issue of you allowing guilt to run your life. How long are you going to make yourself pay for your sins?”
“What…are you like a priest now? Because, that would be creepy. That’s all this town needs…a creepy priest.” Her eyes widened as she looked at him. “I didn’t mean that you’re creepy…I just meant that priests in general are a bit creepy…”
Giles gave her an understanding smile and placed his hand on her knee. “I know what you meant, Buffy. I took no offense to it.”
“Good…” She breathed sincerely.
“But, this has nothing to do with God or religion. This has to do with you feeling like you have to seek forgiveness from your friends.”
“They’re your friends too.” She stated quickly. “And…I do have to seek forgiveness from them…because, I pretty much sucked last year.”
“And…Willow has never ‘sucked’? Nor Xander?” Giles questioned, raising an eyebrow.
“They never fucked a vampire to make themselves feel better…”
Giles smiled softly and shook his head. “No, they haven’t. However, Willow nearly ended the world after allowing her grief to rule her…to allow her addiction to take hold. Xander…he has lied to you more than once. Yet, you have forgiven them both for each of their indiscretions with hardly a scowl.”
“Do you not wonder why they seem to be unable to give you the same courtesy?” Giles asked gently, moving his hand to her cheek. “It angers me, Buffy. It angers me to see them, all of them, take advantage of your genuine kindness…but not treat you equally when you’ve done something they see as ‘bad’.”
“You don’t see it as bad?” When he shook his head, she furrowed her brow. “I had sex with Spike…way more than once. And it had absolutely nothing to do with love. And you don’t see that as bad?”
Giles took a deep breath and looked directly into her eyes. “Would you really like to know how many women I’ve had sex with…and felt no feelings of love whatsoever for them? Because I daresay that my list would be longer than yours. In fact, it would probably be quicker to tell you how many women I’ve made love to.”
He rolled his eyes as she stared expectantly at him. “Four.”
Buffy’s eyes widened in disbelief. “Four? In your entire life you’ve loved only four women?”
He answered before he gave careful consideration to his reply.
“Six. I’ve loved six…but, I was never able to have a full relationship with one and the other has eluded me for quite some time now.”
“Jenny.” Buffy whispered softly, her eyes glistening as Giles nodded. She cleared her throat and began ticking off names.
“Olivia…” She realized quickly that Olivia and Jenny were the only two she could come up with.
Giles chuckled softly and moved to sit next to her on the couch. “In order of their appearance in my life…Rosie, Jessica, Olivia, Mary – ”
“Wait…how did Olivia get that far ahead of Jenny?”
He smiled warmly. “I said ‘in order of their appearance’. I’ve known Olivia for many years. And though we did spend some time together a couple of years ago…I wasn’t in love with her then. I loved her before…”
“Oh…” She thought that over and then realized that she had interrupted him. “Who are the other two? I mean, I know one of them is Jenny…did the other one come before or after Jenny?”
Giles thought for a moment and then sighed. “Technically, she came into my life before…but my feelings for her didn’t reveal themselves until after.”
As he watched her try to figure out who the mystery woman was, he smiled and gave her the answer.
Buffy turned and stared at him. “Me?”
Giles nodded and lifted his hand to her cheek. “God, how could you not know?”
“But I…I’ve said some really horrible things to you…and…I had sex with two, not one but two, vampires…and I yelled at you when you left…and didn’t go to the airport to say goodbye and then you came home and – ”
She tilted her head as he smiled. “What? What are you smiling at?”
“You. You really are rather adorable when you ramble.”
She shook her head quickly. “But – ”
“I’ve waited for you to work this out…and all you’re doing is digging your hole deeper. Please…let me help you, Buffy.”
“You owe them nothing more. Don’t punish yourself further. You can’t change what is done…but, you can ensure that it doesn’t happen again.”
“You love me.” She whispered, the words forming as a statement instead of a question.
“Indeed, I do.” He whispered back, lovingly combing his fingers through her hair. “Very much so.”
Any other argument she would have used was cut off by his kiss. Her arguments faded away as she felt herself respond to his kiss. As their arms wrapped around each other, she felt him drag her up from the place she had sequestered herself to.
She remembered her mother saying that she would know true love when it was presented to her. There wouldn’t be a question of ‘is he the right one?’…there would only be the knowledge that he is.
As she and Giles deepened their kiss, she realized one very important thing. She was asking herself no questions.
Because she already had the answers.