quaggy: "Is This A Kissing Book?" (Skeptical)
[personal profile] quaggy
Title: Kids Today
Show: BtVS
Category: Post-series, comic!verse inspired 
Rating: PG
Notes: Written for [community profile] summer_of_giles. This takes roughly place sometime after Season 10 of the comics, but be warned, this is written by someone who has only skimmed the comics. That's why I say it's comic!verse inspired, not necessarily compliant!

Looking back, if he was honest, it had been a brilliant plan. Both a brilliant and horrifying plan. The Corporation could not stop Buffy, couldn’t kill her, and even if they could, she likely wouldn’t stay dead. She was, after all, “The Slayer That Wouldn’t Die”. (Lord, how Buffy had loathed that moniker, even if Dawn had tried to convince her that it was very Harry Potter.) The Corporation was used to having its way, but they had never encountered anyone like Buffy before. They couldn’t even take away her powers, though they tried. So, they had magically regressed her to an age where she was no longer a Slayer. To the best that they could tell, Buffy now was somewhere around fourteen, making her roughly a year older than he was.

The spell itself had been flawlessly executed. The results were quite similar to his own revival, though the mechanics were mostly likely different since he had been dead and Buffy was quite alive. Then again, they might have based the spell on the fact that Buffy had at one point been dead. It was difficult to know for sure, seeing as none of the Corporation were still around to ask.

What he had no way of knowing was if the Corporation had deliberately de-aged Buffy so that she would be easier to kill. They had cast the spell during a fight in a warehouse. It wouldn’t have taken much for them to realize that a child without any slayer healing would get hurt, perhaps fatally. He had to assume that it was an unfortunate oversight on their part, for his own peace of mind. Because if they had chosen that moment to cast the spell so that the child Buffy had become would die a violent and painful death, then Giles would regret that he had not made the members of the Corporation suffer more before he had killed them. Granted, killing them was perhaps not his wisest decision. But Buffy had been so still on the floor, he had thought the worst. That he had just witnessed her third and final death.

Dawn and Willow initially assumed that Buffy would only have memories from the time before she was Called, the only question being if she would recall the false memories that contained Dawn. But even before they found proof that Buffy’s de-aging mirrored his own, Giles had known that Buffy remembered him. He had been the first to her side when she had fallen and her eyes had grown calm when she saw him next to her. She might have even muttered his name. He couldn’t be sure. Because it was then that she had passed out and he had thought she was gone and that’s when he’d lost his head. He didn’t like talking about what happened in the warehouse. So, he left it to Dawn and Willow to figure things out for themselves.

Buffy being so wounded changed things. They had to bring her to the hospital. So, Willow had hacked into various databases to create a false identity for her, as much to hide Buffy’s vulnerable state as it was to avoid questions. Dawn had threatened her father to go along with the lies they created. So, Diana Joyce Summers was born.

They were originally going to go with Anne Elizabeth Summers, but Giles, privately thinking the name was stupid, had pointed out that it was too similar to her birth name to be effective camouflage. He had been the one to suggest Diana and Xander had liked it for the Wonder Woman reference. Truthfully, Giles didn’t think she should have been a Summers at all. It still would raise too many questions. He would have made her part of the Giles family. But they hadn’t consulted him in their scheming and he hadn’t been around much anyway. He had been with Buffy every moment the hospital staff would allow.

He had thought about playing the part of the young relative, arriving in his jeans and t-shirts, but he wasn’t her cousin. He was her Watcher and he was going to dress the part, so that when she woke up, she would, at the very least, recognize the uniform of her stalwart Watcher, holding fast to her side. That meant a tweed suit, complete with waistcoat and a book under his arm. And, most days, a small bouquet of daisies, since they never really lasted long. He never considered that the nurses would assume that he was her boyfriend, clucking over how sweet and serious he was, but he didn’t object when they did. It made them question his presence less.

Mostly, he read to her during his visits. He had stuck with books from her childhood, the ones she would then turn to comfort in high school. Anne of Green Gables had been a particular favorite of hers. He would occasionally find her in the stacks with the library’s battered copy and she would watch the adaptation whenever it was on television. (He’d never forget her look of horror when he’d admitted he had never read the books, after she had made some comment about how Anne would think the name Cordelia was a lot less romantic if she had ever had met their own.) He was almost through Anne of Avonlea and had brought along Anne of the Island, just in case.

He wasn’t sure how often she was conscious. Sometimes the only indication he had was when she would lightly squeeze his hand when he would reach a particular favorite passage of hers. But he did know those moments were becoming less and less, a very negative sign. She was dying. Giles knew it. The doctors knew it. He was fairly certain that even Buffy knew it.

She rarely tried to speak, but, during his last visit, she had been determined.

“Gi…ess…sss…cy…” Her oxygen mask obscured her already weak voice. It took Giles a moment to figure out what she was trying to tell him. When he did, he gave a quick nod.

“Don’t worry. I’ll bring it,” he said with grave determination.

Buffy nodded and then slipped away to unconsciousness again, leaving him to ponder just how he was going to sneak a weapon like that into the hospital.

In the end, he had used a simple cloaking spell and slipped in after hours. He had been visiting long enough to know the hospital routine. Unless it was an emergency, nobody would check on her for several hours. But he hurried, just in case.

“Buffy, I’m here,” Giles whispered, taking her hand. He felt a light pressure from her hand in return and smiled, knowing that she was awake. He placed the Scythe beside her and wrapped both her hands around it. For a brief moment, Buffy seemed to glow. Her eyes snapped open.

“Giles….” she gasped. Her eyes locked with his, conveying a wealth of emotions that she could not voice.

“I know. Buffy, I have to leave now, but I’ll be back first thing in the morning, just as soon as they let me in. Try to sleep.”

She nodded and relinquished the Scythe without any objection. Giles tarried a moment, stroking her hair back from her forehead, until she relaxed and her breathing evened out. He slipped out as easily as he had come in.

She had improved dramatically after that, of course. She was strong enough to hold out a hand to him when the nurses finally let him come in, though she still looked tiny and frail.

“Feeling better, I see,” he grinned.

“Much,” she said, in a soft, tired voice. “Still pretty weak though.”

“You just rest then. I brought the Anne books. Shall I continue where we left off or shall I start again from the beginning?”

“From the beginning. Want to enjoy it.”

Giles nodded and settled in his usual spot. Only this time, Buffy was strong enough to take his hand herself and was able to laugh at all the appropriate places. It seemed liked no time had passed at all when the nurse entered.

“Visiting hours are over. Your boyfriend can come back later,” the nurse said. But Buffy held Giles’s hand even tighter and shook her head. It would have been no trouble to break her hold— she was still so frighteningly weak. But Giles had no intention of doing that.

“She doesn’t like hospitals. She’s had bad experiences before. Please, can’t I stay with her while she’s awake? It’s not fair to make her be by herself.”

“Please?” Buffy begged. Giles had noticed before that Buffy was keeping up the subterfuge that he was her boyfriend. She too probably realized how much easier it made things.

After a moment’s pause, the nurse agreed with a tolerant sigh and as she left Giles heard her mutter something about “kids today”. He and Buffy exchanged amused glances and then they returned to world of Anne and Marilla and Matthew. They spent the entire day that way. When the doctor did her rounds, she looked at Buffy’s chart in disbelief.

“I think you must be good medicine, young man,” she said to Giles. Giles tried not to laugh. The doctor was probably younger than he was, chronologically speaking.

“He is,” Buffy said with a grin. Her voice was growing stronger each passing hour and the nurse had even allowed her to sit up a short time ago.

“Keep this up and you’ll be home before you know it,” the doctor assured her.

“Can’t happen soon enough,” Buffy huffed. The older woman laughed and left their miracle patient and her devoted suitor alone.

A few days later, Buffy was indeed allowed to go home. Everyone gathered in Buffy and Dawn’s apartment.

“Now, that you are home, we should discuss things,” Willow began. “Dawn and I have made some plans.”

“I’ve enrolled you in the local high school,” Dawn said. “You start next week.”

“You did what?!” Buffy was outraged.

“We had to,” Dawn defended. “You’re in the system now, because of your hospital stay. There’s social workers and all that stuff. Until we find a way to get you back to your normal age again, you have to play the part of Diana the normal teenage girl.

“Oh, great,” Buffy groaned.

“It’s for the best,” Willow said, soothingly. “I mean, you’re not a Slayer anymore and you might not even get called this time around.”

“Yeah, about that. It a done deal,” Buffy said in a particularly flippant tone of voice, Giles hadn’t heard since before the final battle with the Master. He kept his expression serious and thoughtful, but it was hard not to laugh out loud.

“What do you mean?” asked Xander, confused.

“Don’t tell me you didn’t figure it out? I was on death’s door and now I’m fit enough to run a marathon.” Everyone looked at each other with unsure expressions, as if they couldn’t quite believe what Buffy was implying.

“She’s a vampire slayer,” Giles confirmed, putting them out of their misery.

“Reporting for duty!” Buffy agreed smugly. “I don’t think you can actually un-make a Slayer. My powers had probably just gone dormant. Giles smuggled in the Scythe for me. Once I touched it, it woke things up.”

“Well, until we can figure out how to make you the right age again….” Willow trailed off.

“I know. It’s the Adventures of Sunnydale High Redux,” Buffy sighed. “Well, it could be worse. At least I won’t be as bored as Giles is going to be.”

“Buffy, I won’t be there,” Giles objected.

“Of course, you are! Like I’m going to be stuck back in high school without you,” Buffy replied with a roll of her eyes. “Just because I’m a Slayer, doesn’t mean this body is ready to be one. I’m going to have to do some serious training before I’m even at the level that I was back in high school. And thanks to these guys, the majority of my day is going to be spent taking classes that I passed a decade ago. At least if you’re with me, we’ll be able to find ways of training together.”

It suddenly occurred to Giles that he had made a grave tactical error. Initially, he had felt sorry for everyone. They had been assuming that they were dealing with a young, uncertain teenager, when in reality this Buffy had all the unbowed will of her youth combined with the confidence that came with her hard-earned experience. But he had neglected the fact that he was in the most vulnerable position of all. Buffy had never been one to turn her back on an advantage and he had already proven himself to be her most loyal and trustworthy allies. She was never going to let him go.

He couldn’t help the satisfied grin spreading across this his face. He was doomed. Definitely doomed.

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