Timeline: Post-series, AU.
Synopsis: Giles has a new Slayer. Buffy isn’t happy.
Author’s Note: Album fic. Song and lyrics can be found here.
Buffy strode down the hallway with purpose. Giles’ tirade ran through her mind and she felt her anger grow.
“I’ll show him big fish in a little pond.” She muttered to herself as she turned the corner.
She rolled her eyes as Gina walked out of Giles’ office and smiled at her. “Hi, Buffy.”
“Shut the hell up.” Buffy stated as she glared at her, pushing her way past the younger Slayer.
Gina moved out of the way quickly as Buffy put her hand on the doorknob. “I didn’t mean to make – ”
Buffy turned and pointed a finger at her, her eyes dark with anger. “I said…shut the hell up.”
She didn’t give Gina time to say anything else, turning the doorknob with a force that wasn’t exactly required for opening a door. Giles looked up as his office door opened and sighed heavily as Buffy stormed her way inside, slamming the door shut behind her.
“No! You don’t get to say ‘Buffy, please’ this time. Big fish, little pond? Well, fuck you, Giles!”
Giles narrowed his eyes, danger flickering in them as he pushed his chair back and stood up. “Watch your mouth, Buffy.”
“Oh, no…you don’t get to tell me what to do anymore either. You’re the one who said that I’m not your Slayer anymore.”
“No, you made that decision.” Giles countered, placing his hands on the desktop and leaning forward, glaring at her.
“What? When the hell did I – ”
“When you slammed the door in my face!” He bellowed, his control momentarily lost. “You let me go, Buffy…I didn’t leave you again. Do not put this on me this time. You want to be angry, fine…but, you have no right to be angry with me over this.”
Buffy opened her mouth…and then closed it when she realized that he was right. “I…I thought I apologized for that.”
Giles clenched his jaw and straightened, taking a deep breath in an attempt to calm himself. “You apologized, Buffy…and I accepted your apology. However…you never asked me to return as your Watcher. Gina needs a Watcher…and I...well, I need a Slayer.”
Buffy furrowed her brow. “I never asked you? You could’ve said something to me...you should’ve said something to me!”
Giles shook his head and rolled the sleeves of his shirt one turn. “That’s not how it works, Buffy. If a Slayer breaks the bond voluntarily, she is the only one who can repair it. If she doesn’t ask, the bond remains severed...no matter how much both Watcher and Slayer want otherwise.”
“I didn’t know!” Buffy cried in frustration. “You never let me read the handbook!”
“You wouldn’t have asked even if you had read the handbook. This has nothing to do with what was written in the handbook, Buffy. This has to do with pride.” He sighed sadly and looked into her eyes. “You were too proud to ask. You were well aware of the fact that you broke the bond. You felt it as much as I did. But...you never felt the reparations, did you?”
“I’m losing you…” She whispered, lowering her eyes as she took a backwards step towards the door. Her anger suddenly left her, replaced by a sadness she hadn’t felt in years. “I’m losing you again…”
Though he may not have been her official Watcher, he still shared an emotional bond with her. And through that bond, he felt a wave of pain that threatened to rip his heart in two. He swallowed and let go of his anger.
“It’s me who’s losing you, Buffy. I’ve been losing you for years…I’ve just been too stubborn to let go.” He moved around the desk and sat on the edge, his glare softening to a gentle stare when she met his eyes.
“I’m not lost to you…but, I can’t watch you walk away from me any longer. I need to move on…to be where I’m needed.”
“I need you, Giles…” She protested quickly.
“I deserved your anger then, Buffy.” He admitted softly. “I betrayed your trust and tried to help Robin dispose of Spike. You were angry, and rightfully so.”
“I tried to regain that trust time and time again over the years. And though you may not have physically slammed a door in my face again, you never let me back in…and after a while, it just became too painful to keep trying.”
Buffy looked into his eyes, hers glistening as she heard the pain in his words.
“What can I do to make it better?”
He exhaled slowly and shook his head. “I’m not sure it can be made better, Buffy.”
“But, you…you forgave me…and then – ”
“Buffy, please…don’t.” He whispered, his eyes pleading with her. “Please, let it lie.”
“You loved me?” She asked, her eyes widening with astonishment.
He stared at her for a moment and then stood, making his way over to the window. He looked out across the city and sighed heavily.
“Love.” He whispered, shoving his right hand into his pocket.
He turned slowly towards her. “Love…present, not past, tense.”
He waited for a second to watch her reaction. When she gasped, he continued…maintaining eye contact with her.
“I loved you then, I love you now…I’ve never stopped loving you.”
It took a minute, but her voice finally came back. “Why didn’t you say anything?”
He smiled sadly and leaned his shoulder against one of the many bookshelves in his office. “You didn’t want to hear that then. To be very honest, I’m not sure you want to hear it now.”
“Mm.” He mumbled, glancing longingly towards the bottle of scotch on top of the liquor cabinet.
She followed his gaze and sighed. “Isn’t it against Council rules to have a fully stocked liquor cabinet in your office?”
“I’m Head of Council, Buffy…I can change the rules if I want. Besides…liquor can be a useful tool when dealing with certain demonic races.”
“Do you want a drink?” She asked, tilting her head towards the bottle.
“Yes…but, I don’t drink at work. I’m sure I’ll get well plastered tonight.”
“You are a big fish in a little pond, Buffy.” He stated with a smile. “But, you are the biggest fish in this pond. You are what I hope all of the other Slayers look up to…and your skills are what I hope they strive to achieve. What I said earlier was true, but not the complete truth. Be proud of the fact that you’re a big fish.”
When she opened her mouth to respond, he shook his head.
“Go home, Buffy. Get some rest.”
She regarded him carefully before walking directly over to him. In one fluid movement, she rose up on her toes and wrapped her hand around the back of his neck. When she kissed him, he resisted for only a moment before returning the kiss with a passion that he hadn’t felt since the last time their lips had touched.
She broke the kiss slowly and gazed into his eyes. “You shouldn’t drink alone.”
“Are you offering your company?” He asked, lifting his left hand to brush the hair back from her face.
She nodded and smiled warmly. “If you’ll have me.”
“Be very sure…I can’t watch you walk away again.” He whispered, trailing his fingertips down the side of her face.
“I loved you then, I love you now…I’ve never stopped loving you.” She whispered in an echo of his earlier statement, sealing it with another soft kiss.
He quickly deepened the kiss and made a mental note to find another Watcher for Gina.