quaggy: Giles hugging Buffy in Season 6 (Tight)
[personal profile] quaggy
Title: Alternate Plans
Show: BtVS
Category: Post-ep for "Tabula Rasa"
Rating: G
Pairings: mildly B/G (I gotta be me)
Notes: Believe it or not, this started as a 100 word drabble for [community profile] giles_shorts  that grew to epic proportions. So, it's my second day offering for [community profile] summer_of_giles  instead.

Buffy trudged away from her house. Leaving seemed to be the sanest thing to do at the moment. She wished she had a better to hide away from everything than to just go hang out at the Bronze. Tara was leaving, not that Buffy blamed her. Giles would soon be gone too, if he wasn’t already. Part of her didn’t blame him either. She’d leave too if she could. . . . If she could. . . . Buffy stopped dead in her tracks as a series of realizations cascaded over her. The same moment that her expression shifted from stunned to determined, she took off in a dead run.

Giles was checking his bag one last time when Buffy burst into the Magic Box.

“Buffy, if you’re here—”

“Let me come too.”


“You have to leave. I get that. I accept it. Mostly. But let me come too. Not forever. Just for a little while. A week, maybe?”

“What good would that do?”

“It gives me time to not be the Slayer. Giles, I thought I couldn’t be me anymore. That I came back wrong. But I found out tonight that I could still be the Slayer, if I wasn’t Buffy Summers. I need to know that I can be Buffy without being the Slayer. If I can, then maybe I can figure out how to be both at the same time.”

“And if you can’t?”

“Joan didn’t seem like that bad of a chick to be. On a permanent basis.”

“Buffy. . . .”

“I’m not kidding, Giles! This isn’t a threat or me running away. If I erase my memories, then Dawn gets a caring sister and the world gets a functional Slayer. But before I do something drastic like totally rewire my brain, I want to see if I can’t find another way of making this work.”

“You don’t have to come with me to do that.”

“Yes, I do.”

“Because. . ?”

“Because who knows me better?” she replied, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. Because it was. No one knew her as well as Giles did. No one.

Giles stared at her, very still, with no expression at all. Buffy wasn’t sure if he was going to yell at her or laugh in her face. Instead he brushed passed her and picked up the phone.

“Hello? Barbara? I’m glad you’re in. . . . Well, yes, you were right. At least partly. I need you to delay my travel plans –if it’s not too late– and secure a return ticket for my traveling companion,” Giles glanced back at Buffy, and small smile appeared on his face. He mouthed the words round-trip to Buffy and then returned his attention to the phone. “Buffy Summers. Yes. Yes, an open return would do nicely. Saturday, then? Same time. Right. Thank you, Barbara. You are a wonder. Yes, I’ll bring her by to meet you as soon as she recovers sufficiently from the jet lag.”

The combination of relief and shock that he agreed so quickly made Buffy feel a little weak in the knees. She tried to pull herself together as Giles hung up the phone.

“An open return?” Buffy asked as nonchalantly as she could.

“Yes, we’ll see how it goes before we make any decisions about that.”

“But what about Dawn?” Buffy asked. Giles smile became full-fledged, making Buffy feel like she had done something right, but she couldn’t for the life of her figure out what. “With Tara moving out. . .”

“She is?” Giles grew serious and concerned.

“Yeah, she and Willow had a big fight about Willow’s magic use. The memory erasing thing was the last straw. I can’t say that I blame her, but she’s the only one I’d trust to look after Dawn. As much as I love her, I don’t think Willow would be able to do it on her own.”

“No, you are right about that. Do you remember my cousin Susan Daniels?”

“Retired Watcher who lives in Vancouver?”

“That’s the one. I’m certain she will be able to come down to stay with Dawn for a few weeks. Her presence might be of some benefit to Willow as well, if things are as dire as Tara fears. She’s had more experience with unruly teenagers and headstrong magic users than you and I combined. Which is quite saying something, when you think about it. You will be able to concentrate on deciding what is best for you. If need be, Susan could even escort Dawn to England.”

“You think it’s going to take me that long?” Buffy asked, mildly horrified.

“Not at all,” Giles reassured her. “But you never know. You might like it over there.” He grinned impishly, but Buffy found that she couldn’t return his smile.

“I’m dreaming this, aren’t I? I’m going to wake up in my room by myself and you are going to be on a plane over the Atlantic,” she said, forlornly.

“Oh, Buffy, no,” Giles replied, reaching out to her.

“It’s just that . . . my sacred duty and everything. . . . Why are you okay with me leaving it behind?” she babbled, as Giles pulled her close. He stroked her hair until Buffy sighed and the tension in her body began to ease. After a few more moments, he pulled away slightly. Cupping her face in his hand, he leaned his head down. Fleetingly, Buffy wondered if Giles was about to kiss her and was surprisingly disappointed when he didn’t. (But, then, her desires to kiss people hadn’t been too trustworthy lately. Case in point: Spike.) Instead, he rested his head against hers, briefly, before letting his hands slip to her shoulders and pulling back so that he could directly into her eyes.

“When I first boarded that plane to Sunnydale, I had every intention of taking you and Dawn back to England with me as soon I could hustle you both onto a plane,” he told her.

“You did?” Buffy couldn’t bring herself to believe it, though she didn’t doubt his sincerity.

“Well, I thought it might have been necessary,” Giles admitted hesitantly and Buffy instantly understood why he would have been prepared to whisk her away.

“You always knew where I’d been, didn’t you? It didn’t matter what I had said.”

“Buffy, where else could you have been? But instead of finding an understandably traumatized soul, there you were . . . yourself. Completely capable and in full control of your life. Overwhelmed, to be sure, but you were – you are managing,” he corrected. “Even if might not feel like it to you, at this moment. And if you are managing, then I don’t have the right to impose my will on yours.”

“What do you mean?”

“The way things are right now, if I told you what I thought was best, you would listen to me instead of doing what you believed to be the right. If I suggested you come to England, you would, even if you didn’t want to. I couldn’t take away your choices like that. Especially not when you’ve had so many other traumas that you needed to come to terms with. You’ve always done what you thought was right in the past, despite anything that I might have said to gainsay you. And, with only one or two exceptions, your judgement was always true. That’s why I knew that I had to leave. If I had stayed with you here, I would have kept taking your choices away from you. All under the pretense of trying to prevent you from suffering any further, but it still would have been wrong and hurt you in the long run.”

“But, Giles, I trust your judgement over mine right now.”

“Yes, and that’s the problem. Buffy, it’s all right if you make mistakes. If you make choices that ultimately turn out to be wrong or bad. You then learn from them. Grow from them. And, if it’s any consolation, I doubt that you could mess up your life as thoroughly as I did mine, when I was your age.”

“I kissed Spike.”

“When? Tonight?”

“After the big song and dance number. It just. . . . I wanted to feel something. Even if it was only for a moment. Might have gone further than just a kiss if you guys hadn’t been singing a few feet away. And as much as I will deny it with all that I’m worth, I can’t totally be sure I wouldn’t do it again. Still trust me to make decisions for myself?” she challenged, but Giles just laughed.

“Buffy, someday I will take you to a pub and tell you about some of my less than wise romantic decisions. It’s a part of life. Making mistakes. Sleeping with the wrong people. Doing the things that you know are foolish, but you chose to do them anyway. It’s so very human.”

“Doesn’t sound a whole lot of fun.”

“Did I say that it was?” he asked her with raise eyebrows. “I would spare you that if I could, but who am I to say if I wouldn’t be actually be hurting you in the long run. How can we be sure that, by sparing you pain, I’m not actually denying you the experience that you might someday need?”

“Spike wasn’t that good of a kisser. I don’t think that’s an experience I’ll actually need somewhere down the line.”

“Well, possibly not. But maybe there is a side of you that you need to explore and Spike is the best at letting you do so.” Giles paused and furrowed his brow. “That alarmingly sounded like I was advocating that you start a relationship with Spike and I would like to assure you that I am not.”

“Understood,” Buffy said with a quiet smile.

“The difference now is that you’ve come to me asking for help, which is, frankly, a positive sign in itself. It’s a sign of maturity to recognize you can’t do everything on your own. More importantly, I’m not imposing my will on you. This is your choice and, of course, I want to honor it. Besides, perhaps in England you’ll have a chance to emotionally heal. I want that so desperately for you. I want it for both of us.”

“You didn’t have the easiest year either, did you?” she asked with genuine sympathy.

“Well, I’ll admit that my summer was rather ghastly,” Giles admitted quietly, reaching out to smooth back her hair.

“So, maybe we can do the recouping thing together?” Buffy offered.

“I’d like that.”

“What happens after that? Do I go back to Sunnydale alone? Will you come with me?”

“I honestly don’t know. After… after your death, I had resigned myself to quite a bleak existence. And now?” Giles shrugged with a bemused expression. “Now, I have no idea what will come next.”

“Well, that’s reassuring,” Buffy said with a roll of her eyes.

“England isn’t some magical place, Buffy. Life keeps happening no matter what part of the world in which you happen to be. You’ll make mistakes there as you would here. I likely will as well. We’ll argue, perhaps bitterly. We’ll get lost. We’ll have disappointments. But I know that whatever happens, but it’s bound to be better than any future without you in it.”

“So, there’s no way knowing what comes next.”

“Only by living it. Would you care to find out with me?” he asked, holding out his hand.

As Buffy took it with a smile, she felt a tightness in her chest. A yearning. This was different from her earlier disappointment at the non-kissage. This was a small shoot of new growth, green and strong. Maybe it would grow into something more, something sturdy and durable that could support a relationship. Maybe it would just stay as it was, an extra degree of attachment to a man who already meant to the world to her.

Either way, she wouldn’t say anything about it right now. Not when Giles had made so eloquent a case for not wanting to take away her choices. No, she would wait until she was sure what these fluttering feelings were. Because Giles deserved to know that she was choosing him when her head and heart were healthy and her spirit restored.

Suddenly the world was full of life and possibilities, where before there was only death and ashes. In fact, only one worry remained:

“Giles, does it really rain in England as much as everyone says?”

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