Chapter Three



Lottie walked into Giles’ home, placed her bag on the floor next to the sofa and regarded him closely.  She wasn’t sure what she had expected, but seeing him completely relaxed and drinking a cup of tea certainly wasn’t it.


Giles smiled and, after placing his mug on the side table, stood.  “Hello, Lottie.”


She grinned, then quickly pulled him into a fierce hug.  “Hello, sweetheart!”


He chuckled, returning her hug.  “It’s a good thing I don’t actually need to breathe.”


She pulled back and looked up at him, arching an eyebrow.  “You’re making jokes?”


He arched an eyebrow back at her.  “You were expecting something more…maudlin?”


“I was hoping for understanding, I wasn’t expecting acceptance.”  She retorted with a grin.


“It is what it is and I am what I am.”  He shrugged a shoulder and then scratched his chest.  “I’m not evil, it could be very much worse.”


Her eyes darted to his hand.  “Is it still sore?”


“Hm?  Oh, no…it itches.  I think the heart itself has begun to decay.”


“I wish I’d been able to find a way to spare you that pain.”  She said softly.


“I think maybe it was needed.”  Giles said with a gentle smile.  “Something that hurt that badly is never going to heal – I think for my own personal mental clarity, it was needed.”


Lottie nodded slowly and moved over to sit on one of the chairs.  “Have you thought about how this is going to play out?”


Buffy laughed as she entered the room, a tea tray in her hands.  “Oh, he has it all planned out.  Tell her, Giles…”


Lottie stared at him.  “Tell me you’re not just going to say ‘okay, I’m a vampire, we need to figure this out’.”


Giles narrowed his eyes.  “Does that sound like something I’d say?”


“Christ, boy!  You need to give them options…suggestions on how to move forward – this Council cannot exist without you at the helm!”


Buffy grinned, earning her a glare from Giles.  She sat down and gestured towards Lottie.  “Brilliant point.  Plus, I love that she called you ‘boy’.”


Giles rolled his eyes, but his impending argument was cut by the sound of the doorbell. 


“Showtime, it is…”  He murmured.


“You’ve got this, Ru.”  Buffy said as she stood and moved over to the desk in the opposite corner.  “I’ll be here – not getting involved, but supporting you one hundred percent.”


Giles smiled and gave her a nod.  “Thank you, love.”


Lottie turned to look at Buffy as Giles made his way to the door.  “Are you alright?”


Buffy nodded, taking a deep breath.  “Just have his back, Lottie.”


“Always, sweetheart.”  Lottie whispered, turning back to the group of men entering the room.


The five board members exchanged confused glances between themselves upon seeing Lottie.


“Rupert, what exactly is this impromptu meeting concerning?”  Blaketon, the Head of the Board, asked suspiciously.


“Please, sit down.”  Giles said, gesturing towards the sofas and chairs available.  “Tea?”


They all sat down, but politely refused the tea – instead, very intrigued as to what was going on.  Especially considering that Lottie Helstrum was sitting in as well.  Also, Rupert’s Slayer was sitting at the desk.  It was all very…alarming.


“Rupert, is everything alright?”  Gerris asked, leaning forward and resting his elbows on his knees as he regarded Giles closely.


“Straight into then.”  Giles murmured as he sat down.  He sat tall and comfortable on the sofa, right leg crossed over his left.  “There is a situation that you all need to be made aware of – and actions will need to be taken, but what those actions should be?  That’s a discussion that’s needed.”


“Ominous.”  Blaketon replied, glancing at Buffy.  “And your presence?”


“Moral support, nothing further.”  Giles replied before Buffy could even open her mouth. 


The smallest of the five men, Rogers, took a deep breath and cleared his throat.  “Alright, let’s have a chat.  What’s going on?”


Giles gave Rogers a nod and then leaned forward, pouring himself a cup of tea.  “A few days ago, an old friend called asking for the assistance of myself and Miss Summers.”


Buffy successfully held her grumble.  This was the part of Council business she despised – the Miss Summers, Mr Giles…she’d always hated it.  She supposed she always would.


Giles sat back, resting his mug on his thigh.  “There was an issue of vampiric activity and we were being asked to assist personally.”


“Why you?”  Herndon asked, watching Giles intently.


“Because it was Ethan Rayne – and he trusted no one else with the information he had.”  Giles’ eyes swept over each Board member before continuing.  “His younger half-sister, Clara, had been turned a year prior.  Mr Rayne had been attempting to help her, but had eventually realised that there was no other option to be had.  So, he requested that Miss Summers and I – take care of the issue.”


“Kill his sister, you mean?”  Foxe asked, narrowing his eyes.  “That was his request, yes?  For you to kill his sister, the vampire, for him.”


“Yes.”  Giles replied, calmly taking a sip of his tea. 


“That should have been passed on to a Slayer without a personal connection…”  Blaketon advised quietly.


“Mr Rayne is a friend.  I made the decision, after a discussion with Miss Summers, that we would help him.  I stand by that decision.”


“Very well.”  Blaketon nodded for him to continue.


“We departed immediately to Mr Rayne’s residence and discovered to the extent that he had been assisting Clara.  It was determined that the best course of action would be to…well, stake her.”


The Board members looked at one another and then Blaketon coughed lightly. 


“I think we’re going to need all details from here on out.”


Giles nodded in agreement, took another sip of his tea, and continued.


*  *


All five Board members stared at Giles, eyes wide in disbelief.  Giles calmly finished his tea, allowing them time to process the information they’d been given. 


Blaketon narrowed his eyes after a few moments.


“You allowed yourself to be turned in order to save the life of your Slayer?”


“I did.”  Giles agreed.  “I had full faith that if I were to be turned, she would have the strength to do what was necessary.”


“And yet…”  Blaketon gestured towards him.  “Here you sit, very much not of dust.”


“His soul is intact.”  Lottie interjected, placing her teacup on the table.  “Not only is it intact, it’s safe from the demon within – meaning that Rupert is able to maintain control.”


“You are a vampire – and Head of Council.  Those two things cannot coexist.”  Gerris stated softly. 


“Hence the meeting.”  Giles answered with a gentle smile.  “I’m proposing that changes be considered – as I am still very much able to continue in my role.”


Blaketon stared at him.  “You want us to just…allow vampires into the Council?”


“Not at all.”  Giles replied, returning his stare.  “I’m asking that I be allowed in the Council.”


Blaketon shook his head quickly.  “This is preposterous.  It goes against every thing we stand for.  Who’s to say you don’t walk in and tear the entire organisation down from the inside – while going on a rampage?”


“Because that’s not who I am.”  His stare didn’t falter.  “My – ”


Blaketon moved quickly, suddenly, pulling a crucifix from the inner pocket of his jacket.  Giles recoiled, his eyes blazing amber and his fangs immediately visible.  Buffy grabbed the letter opener from the desk as Blaketon moved closer to Giles.  He was muttering something, but Buffy couldn’t understand him.  Without hesitation, she threw the letter opener with enough force to knock the crucifix out of Blaketon’s hand.


Lottie quickly moved to Giles’ side as the crucifix clattered to Gerris’ feet.  He picked it up, slipping it into his pocket.  Blaketon stared at Buffy.  Lottie took hold of Giles’ hand – Giles squeezed her fingers and gave her a slight nod to let her know he was okay…ish.


“This is not an opportunity to test him.”  Buffy said, her voice tinged with barely restrained anger.


“Him?  Your Watcher or your lover?”  Blaketon nearly hissed in response.


“A souled being.  You will treat him with respect – as you would any souled being.”


“He’s a vampire!”


Buffy nodded slowly.  “And if he didn’t have a soul, you’d all be dead now.  But, he does.  So have a discussion, because that’s needed.  Make some decisions, because that’s imperative.  But do not put him through any stupid test.  If you try it again, I will be standing up – and it will not end well for you.”


Blaketon reddened as he stared at her.  “We will convene in Board Chambers.  This will not pass – Rupert will be ordered to resign his position and status within the Council and you will be reassigned to another Watcher.”


“We’ll cross that bridge, if needed.”  Giles said quietly, his eyes now back to normal…his fangs retracted. 


“It will be needed, Rupert.”  Blaketon stated bluntly, turning his eyes back to him.  “If, by some miracle it does pass, I’ll leave the organisation and take like-minded people with me.  We will not be led by a bloody vampire – souled or not!”


Giles said nothing, merely stared at him.  Lottie cleared her throat, causing the other four members to look at her.


“I think this meeting might be over?”


“Of course.”  Foxe nodded slowly, standing up and turning his very curious eyes to Giles.  “We’ll be in touch, Rupert.”


Lottie let go of Giles’ hand and stood up.  She gestured towards the hallway, a small smile on her face for each of the Board members – except for Blaketon, who she scowled at.  “I’ll see you out.”


As the others left the room, Gerris paused and met Giles’ eyes.  “I’m sorry this has happened to you, Rupert.  Please know – we don’t all think like Blaketon.” 


He glanced at Buffy, who was now standing.  “Miss Summers…lovely to see that you’ve been keeping up with your training.”


He offered her a gentle smile and then left the room. 


Within seconds, Buffy was on the sofa with Giles – her arms around him in a tight embrace. 


* *


Giles took a sip from the glass, relishing the warm burn at the back of his throat when he swallowed.  He shook his head and then glanced at Lottie. 


“I always thought that a vampire’s recoil at the sight of a cross was due to fear – because touching a cross is painful, the thought of a cross touching you would cause fear, trepidation.”  He cleared his throat and took another sip.  “However, this is very obviously not the case.”


“It hurt?  Like…physically hurt?”  Buffy asked softly, concern in her eyes. 


“It did.  And for a brief moment, I didn’t know what to do – how to cope.”  Giles said, staring at the glass in his hand.  “That disorientation could be problematic in regards to me maintaining control.”


Lottie shook her head, smiling proudly at him.  “I know it feels that way at the moment, but in reality – it shows how much control you actually really do have.”


“I’m not sure what to do now.”  He admitted, finishing his drink and dropping the glass onto the side table. 


“Well, now you flesh out your thoughts – you plan out how to integrate the vampire with your true self.  Because, as much as you want to – you can’t keep them separate, sweetheart.  And the harder you try to keep them separate, the bigger an explosion it will be when they eventually come together.”  Lottie gave him an understanding smile.  “You can coexist, Rupert – because you are in control.  Being in control doesn’t necessarily mean never letting the vampire out.”


Giles narrowed his eyes.  “Embrace the demon?  I did that once…got a friend killed and it haunted me for decades – then it nearly killed my girlfriend, as well as my Slayer.  I have no interest in revisiting that, Lottie.”


“This is nothing like Eyghon, Rupert.”  Lottie said softly, placing her hand on his knee.  “And you’re not alone in this.”


Giles’ expression softened and he looked at Buffy, his eyes glistening.  “You were amazing, love.  Thank you.”


Buffy smiled, reaching up to run her fingers through his hair.  “When are these Council people going to realise that it’s not in their best interest to threaten you?”


He chuckled softly, then swallowed his tears back.  Lottie smiled broadly, eyes sparkling as she looked at Buffy. 


“I must say, Buffy – your restraint in that altercation was second only to the way you spoke.  The way you stood up for Rupert was absolutely amazing to witness.  It was far more than a partner taking care of her soulmate – this was about you, the Slayer, protecting your Watcher.  I’ve never seen anything so powerful before, honestly.”


“Ah, that wasn’t the first time she’s done that.”  Giles smiled proudly, then lowered his eyes as he allowed those memories to flood through his mind.  Then he lowered his voice to a soft murmur as he continued.  “And I had a good wank about it when I got back home that night…”


Buffy’s eyes widened.  “Rupert!”


“What?”  He said, looking at her in confusion regarding her tone.  Then he smirked.  “Oh, yes, well…I probably shouldn’t have said that aloud, hm?”


Lottie barked out a laugh and stood up.  She reached out and playfully ruffled Giles’ hair – as she’d always done his entire life. 


“Call if you need anything before the verdict comes back from the Board.” 


Giles nodded, quickly standing and pulling Lottie into a hug.  “Thank you, Lottie.  For everything you’ve done for me…”


“Silly boy…”  She whispered emotionally.  “I love you.”


“I love you too, Lottie.”


Buffy smiled, her immediate embarrassment of Giles’ admission simply slipping away.  She wondered what they’d do if the Board voted to remove Giles, but she pushed that away quickly.


As if she’d ever allow herself to be reassigned.

Chapter Four

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