A Tiresome Speech About Responsibility And Sacrifice
written by Ruth
Spoilers: Tabula Rasa
Summary: Inspired by Giles' dream in 'Restless', and the season 4 'romance' that wasn't.
Thanks: To Rari the Magic Beta: see you soon, hon!
Feedback Author: Ruth
"I don't know"
That was one of the things Giles liked about Olivia. She gave it to
you straight even when the situation wasn't. Over the disappointment
that chilled the warmth of the good Burgundy in the pit of his
stomach, he was oddly grateful. He didn't need bullshit like "I'd face
anything for you" or "I know you'd keep me safe". There were no
guarantees in this life he led and in the short time she'd been
exposed to its reality she'd somehow understood.
They finished the bottle in silence. By then it was almost evening.
She had to leave early in the morning to continue her hectic schedule:
a swimwear photo shoot in Hawaii, then back to London for some catwalk
work. Every time he saw her on the front of some women's magazine on a
news stand he allowed himself a little self-congratulation, an
antidote to all the 'old guy' quips that the teenagers thought so
witty, that he pretended to pay no heed to, picking the barbs out of
his ego in private.
<< Still young enough for a beautiful woman to be interested in me, to
come a thousand miles to share my bed. Good enough for her to let the
bloody neighbours know every night>>
Not good. Drinking had a tendency to make him sour and self-pitying.
Luckily it wasn't Scotch. His tolerance levels were high enough that
mere wine barely scratched the surface of sobriety. His hand was
perfectly steady as he gathered up both empty glasses and put them on
the table next to the empty bottle. Olivia shifted against him,
sitting up further to look into his face. An invitation, this night
only, no promises, just the offer of the basic connection of skin
against skin. Giles wasn't about to be noble and say no. A feast at
the oasis against the coming journey in the desert: who knew when, or
if, he might be sustained this way again?
This had never been a "love of my life" gig. Olivia was too fond of
her freedom for that, and he was too afraid. Whenever Rupert Giles
really loved, he put himself on the line: the last time he'd given his
heart, it had been crucified in Jenny's cold blood. He had brought
fire to destroy Angelus in his lair, but the fire of his rage and
sorrow had burned hotter: there was a part of him that still lay in
ashes. He and Liv were just very good friends who fancied each other
and knew how to give one another a good time. In a life marked by
compromises big and small, it wasn't the worst. He would very much
have liked to carry on making it.
Olivia's cat eyes lit up mischievously as they passed the record
player on the way to the staircase.
"Did you ever do that music?" she asked.
On her previous visit they'd had a long wrangling discussion about
rhythm and pace, jazz and rock and classic and folk, that had
degenerated by way of alcohol and innuendo into a sexy denouement both
out of and eventually in bed. Afterwards she'd joked that he should
compile a soundtrack album for lovemaking; not the conventional hearts
and flowers songs, nor the crude club anthems about being 'horny', but
the real deal, how he'd do it given enough time and energy, every
diversion and twist on the path, his unique take on the act, expressed
in music. Only half seriously he'd accepted the challenge. Weeks later
he'd filled in one of the seemingly endless blanks on his calendar
surfing the Net for tracks and samples and storing them on the hard
disk. Willow had shown him the bare skills needed and obligingly
burned him a CD of the results, but she hadn't been at all curious
about the strange mix of titles; the days when she had wanted to know
everything that he knew were clearly long gone.
Giles set his jaw defiantly as he made his way over to the desk. The
*children* wouldn't get this anyway, wouldn't get that the old Watcher
had basic drives like any man, that he had imagination and experience
and a desire to use them. He held up the silvery disc for Olivia to
see and she giggled.
"Come on then, Ripper, play me your demo, show me why you're a star"
He snagged the portable player off the kitchen counter and started up
to the loft. She checked the lock was on the door and held up the
phone handset in query.
He sighed inwardly, had a brief battle with conscience, then told her
"Turn the bell right down and set it to pick up"
Not that he was called much these days, but he'd internalised the idea
of constant availability too strongly to let it go. Upstairs, he set
the player down on the floor and slipped in the CD. After a beat, the
crystal tones of a harpsichord sounded through the room, and Olivia,
at the top of the stairs by now, laughed aloud.
"Bach? God, Rupert, you're full of surprises!. Old J.S.B. isn't
"Thirteen children. Must have got something right"
Giles stood poised on the balls of his stockinged feet and extended
his hand across the narrow space between them, taking her fingers in a
light, stylised dance grip. She put up her other hand to loosen her
hair, myriad tiny plaits swinging around her face and shoulders as
they traced a stately Baroque dance form, turning tight in the
confined space, keeping each other's gaze.
<<He has the most beautiful eyes. I don't *want * to make them sad.
But I won't look into them and lie. Just tonight then, just tonight>>
"Courtship" he was saying, as they completed the figure, and bowed and
curtseyed to the final chord. " A very necessary precursor to, er,
intimate pursuit". His impish expression, eyebrows raised, mocked the
The music changed to English folk, a saucy song about a bachelor
weaver and his amorous adventures. The rollicking rhythm kept merry
time for them as they stripped the cover off the bed and then each
other, tossing clothes all over the floor, playful, not intense. This
place had seen enough grand passion - and tragedy - already.
They smiled, laughed, and shared admiration at the sight and feel of
each other's bared bodies: her slender shapely figure, his broad
-chested, long limbed strength. She sneaked a look in the shaded light
and could see that the mood was taking him, readying him physically, a
slow steady burn for serious staying power. One of the many benefits
of an older man.
Relaxed and amused, but starting to feel a buzz of anticipation, she
knew the next piece at once. L'Apres Midi d'Un Faune, the languorous
erotic dream sequence to which, according to legend, the dancer
Nijinsky had climaxed on stage in public performance. She'd told Giles
that this was her ideal, the height of sensuality in melody, and here
it was, but at the start, not the end of the lovers' concert.
"Cheeky" she said, and he smiled agreement, wolfish, unrepentant.
They knelt on the bed, facing each other, swaying to the plaintive,
yearning voice of the flute. Palms pressed to palms, thigh to thigh,
they undulated against each other, starting to kiss and caress
hungrily as the intensity of the soaring music grew, then ebbed, then
flowed anew in time to the movements of hands, lips and tongues.
Rupert was *really*good at this, Olivia told herself, not for the
first time. If she was going to run for her life out of this place -
and she was pretty sure she was- she could hold the flight a long time
for some of this. He was using his perfect white teeth to tease her
nipple, pulling her firmly against him with both hands cupping her
bottom, supporting her weight as she arched slowly back, a steadying
hand on his shoulder, the other twining in his soft curling hair,
rolling her hips slowly to press and grind on his erection. She leaned
forward again as he made his way lower down her body, encouraging her
to kneel right up and spread her knees apart, his bent head intent on
the journey across the curve of her belly. He shifted to curl his long
frame round her as he stretched out on the bed, fair skin and grizzled
tawny hair the perfect contrast to hers, all chocolate and earth and
ebony. As the ballet reached its climax he reached his goal, a precise
sweep of a tongue tip the single evidence before he stopped, her grunt
of frustration let out before she could help it.
He met her outraged stare with a cocky grin, inclining his head to the
source of the music as the first of the suggestive songs from the
Carmina Burana began to talk of a man's sexual ardour, of his burning
and dying in its flame, begging the girl to quench him. As if to
illustrate, he ran hot trembling hands all over her, getting up first
to hold her close, winding up the tension in both of them and groaning
hoarsely as she handled him with firm, stimulating touches, getting
him even harder, enjoying how it felt. They dropped in a writhing
tangle back onto the sheets, crawling head to tail, she taking him in
her mouth the exact instant he returned to her hidden core.
The CD cut to a sultry Latin dance number, a sensual salsa with a lazy
beat for them to follow as they kissed and sucked and licked, harder
and wetter, longing for the end yet wanting to ride the wave a bit
longer, tormenting themselves exquisitely. The next dance upped the
tempo, spiced it with the heat of a Cuban night, backing drums
rumbling and rolling.
Panting as if they had really been dancing, they released each other
at the first screeching guitar chord. The air vibrated with it, the
volume cranked up and the bass thumping, driving, insistent. To Liv,
Giles looked in that moment again the would-be rock god with wild hair
and wilder ways, whom she'd first encountered when she was still a
child, who spoke of mysticism without drugs, of faeries and spirits.
She'd been fascinated by him way back then, seen the anger of a
brilliant mind allied to a free spirit fighting to escape entrapment,
the intensity behind the laid back mask. In all the changes since, the
eventual surrender to what she'd called 'the system', but he saw as
his Destiny, the mystery he carried with him, he fascinated her still.
He pushed himself up, stalking her on all fours like a hunting
panther. Time to let herself be caught, devoured, to sate and be
sated. Time to chase away the shadows, forget the menace and terror of
that face at the window, the darkness in this town, in the whole world
if he was to be believed. The heavy seventies rock played on and on in
continuous loop, shaking the floor, beating up the bed frame, coming
in through the soles of their feet to their racing pulses, their need
for more air, more noise, more feeling…
Time for him to let go, to lose himself in the primal sensation, to
know nothing, feel nothing save the urgency, the imperative of heaving
thrusting sweating bodies and breathless pleasure, to know that he
light at the end of the tunnel was a train and not to fucking *care*
because it felt *so damn good* as it rushed towards you and slammed
into you with the force of a hundred tons
They shouted out the shared orgasm together, and heard the echo of a
screaming synthesiser die away in the background. She looked into his
flushed, triumphant face and laughed shakily.
"Show off" she teased fondly. "That was just bloody lucky timing". She
shivered luxuriously as he withdrew gently, still covering her,
supporting himself so she didn't take his full weight.
"Do I…get the…contract then?" he asked, looking down at her, still
recovering breath and awareness. His tone was light but there was
seriousness apparent in his eyes: come back, at least sometimes; it's
not everything I could give but it's yours if you want it; don't leave
me for good.
Wordlessly she drew him close, resting his sweating brow against her
neck, letting him relax fully onto her for a second before he rolled
away to lie on his back, eyes shut partly from sheer exhaustion,
partly to shield himself from her compassion. Rupert Giles didn't do
She snuggled in to his side and whispered
"Go to sleep. We'll talk in the morning"
* * * * *
He lay propped on one elbow, watching her pack. Zipping the last bag,
she turned to him and cleared her throat.
"I … I need to do a lot of thinking about all this, what you said
about this whole Watcher/Slayer, duty and destiny stuff that you do.
I'll call or write. Promise. Not sure how long it'll be, but you'll
hear from me"
She kissed him on the cheek, put a hand on his chest to stop him
"Sleep in, Rupert, I can see myself to the taxi"
"Bye" And that was that.
There was no word from her for months afterward. If it wasn't for the
fact that he had rarely known her to make a promise, but always to
keep one she'd made, he might have thought she'd forgotten him. As his
life spun further out of control that year, he certainly wondered if
Buffy and the rest of them had, if indeed he had himself. He knew he
should do something, stop drinking so much, stop frittering away his
time on pointless 'hobbies', have a really stinking row with Buffy
over her carelessness and neglect.
In the end, of course, they'd all joined in, Spike's tinder box of
insinuation providing the spark and setting the whole thing alight.
The alcohol had rendered Giles too numb to be really angry, so he'd
slipped into sarcasm mode, acid dripping off his words, shrinking
away, like the others, from his Slayer's contempt. His: that was how
it had been, in the old days back at the school; she'd been his
charge, his pupil, wayward and contrary to be sure, but she'd needed
him. Now against all the shiny hi-tech antiseptic Initiative science,
its instant communication and no-nonsense firepower, was stacked only
the invisible, the intangible. His decades of learning and experience,
his practice of the magical arts, the smelly knowledge wrested from
musty books in the middle of the night, his devotion professional and
personal. He didn't doubt, of course, that young Riley was devoted
too: to Buffy, and her friends and to the safety of the town and his
country. But Giles knew he had doubts about the mystical, supernatural
framework of Buffy's calling: he found the grey areas of her life: Oz,
Angel, *Spike*, hard to accept. Demon hunting was part of his job, but
if he'd been called to the mountains of central Asia to fight
terrorists threatening the American way of life he'd have gone there
just as readily. He wore the uniform of a demon hunter. It did not
Ever since the long ago day when his father had called him into his
study, not for the anticipated congratulations on his Scholarship,
though that had been briefly touched upon, but to tell him what his
life's work must be, Giles had believed he had a vocation. Even when
he had run away, he had still believed it, believed that if he took it
seriously it must demand first place in his life, that there might be
no room for ordinary ambition, for loving and being loved, for a
future and a family of his own.
But there were supposed to be compensations. To be assigned an actual
Slayer, to share her dedication to the sacred cause of fighting evil,
was the hope of every Watcher. When the Council had received word of
Merrick's death the mages had consulted their prophecies, and he had
been genuinely excited and honoured to be sent to America to serve
her. Instead of a dedicated fellow warrior he'd met a shallow,
reluctant child who wanted to do things her way or not at all, who
consorted with a vampire and bunked off training to get her manicure
done. They'd reached an accommodation in the end, though Giles felt
*he* had done most of the accommodating, and he had come to admire her
spirit as much as her gift for slaying, to appreciate Buffy the
person, to think of her as a friend. Yet he was never quite sure
whether she truly counted him among hers. There had been so many times
when she had been callous about his welfare to the point of cruelty,
when she had mocked him and never apologised.
To be a Watcher was to be part of a brotherhood, to know the respect
of ones fellows, to have the backup of an international organisation
with unparalleled financial resources and influence in high places.
But Giles was not a company man: he tried to conform, to bow to
received wisdom, but whenever tradition seemed to him to dispense with
ordinary decency, with compassion, he questioned, even disobeyed. He
had some friends in the lower reaches of the Council, but many in
authority disliked him, withholding information, snubbing him subtly.
When he went against precedent for the sake of his Slayer they cut him
loose without a backward glance.
Giles had tried to make the best of it, to see an opportunity in the
reversal. It had seemed a possible solution to the tension between
Buffy's unconventional life and the traditions that didn't fit her.
Free from his obligation to his employer, he'd stayed loyal to her.
They'd defeated the Mayor. Angel left town, Buffy repudiated the
Council. It should have been a new start for them both, a chance to
relate as adults, not as teacher and pupil. She would blossom and
grow, away from his direct supervision. He could try to strike a
balance between having a vocation and his own life. Except it hadn't
played out so neatly.
Now he was out of work, left out of Buffy's life, and nearly out of
options. As he shut the front door after Willow and Tara, feeling as
though he had caught his head in it, he wondered what Olivia was doing
at that moment, halfway across the world, early evening in London. She
might be heading out for a night on the town, or to a dinner party.
She might even have a new lover. He wished she would write; tell him
how she was, stay a friend even if the chance of something more was
gone. With the help of a dose of painkillers and a bottle of water, he
managed to dull the hangover to a tolerable level, shaved and dressed,
and went to collect his post.
The usual junk and bills; a book he'd ordered; the Watchers' Circular
smuggled out of HQ and sent on by a remaining contact; and a
handwritten letter. It was from Olivia. He waited until he could sit
down with a fresh cup of tea before opening it. It was probably the
long anticipated regretful dismissal.
What he read made him sit thinking for a very long time.
20th May 2000
Sorry it's taken so long to get back to you. To tell you the truth I
started a letter lots of times, but it was hard to put down just what
I wanted to say. I hope it makes sense in the end!
Life's been hectic but I've missed seeing you. I hope life is treating
you well, that you're happy and the gang is fine.
I've been thinking about everything you told me, about being a
Watcher, how it's your duty to stay and look out for Buffy. I get that
she's Supergirl, that she's the only one with the strength and skill
to hunt vampires and demons, all that stuff. But a chosen Watcher,
chosen by prophecy? It seems odd. It reminds me of when I was a kid,
Pastor Jacob preaching about being predestined, 'washed in the blood
of the Lamb'. Just picture language to make you feel your choices had
some cosmic significance. If you were called personally, how come
they sacked you, sent another Watcher? You said Buffy's given up on
the Council, got involved with this American government monster
hunting group instead. So where does that leave you?
I understand that you care about her, about all of them, but they're
young adults now, you can't go on protecting them forever. And who
protects you? You train hard and work all night shifts, give it
everything and get what back? I've seen all the pain pills in your
cupboards; you have so many scars it looks like you were tortured by
some fascist dictatorship. Maybe that 'sacred duty' idea you were fed
is just to keep you there, save some other bastard from the front
line. What do the other Watchers do, if the Slayer's the only thing
You could come home, Rupert. No-one can say you haven't earned it.
You've seen Buffy to adulthood, she seems a very capable girl. That
clever red haired girl can do research, Buffy's soldier boy can spar
with her. If the Council think it's so important that she has their
backing, they can send someone. You could have a chance at a life of
You're within your rights to say I 'm talking out of the back of my
head, but there's a reason why I'm saying all this. I wanted to bring
this up while I was in Sunnydale actually, but with everything that
happened, it didn't seem the time. I'm 35 next year; not getting so
many contracts, younger faces on the scene, you know the score. I'm
planning to sink some capital into a business. You remember Lucy, she
was with Bryce Models. She wants to set up her own partnership. I'd
get some steady income, not be travelling so much.
I always planned to have a child someday. Well, now I think it's time.
The clock's ticking away, time to settle down and nest. I'm not with
anyone at the moment. It's just something I feel ready to do. I'm not
going to trap some poor guy into getting me pregnant by accident. I
want to ask a man I trust, be open about it, give him a chance to play
a part in the child's life. Kids need a Dad.
I expect you can see where this is leading. This isn't a proposal,
Rupert; we don't even have to live together. I know if you did this
you'd take the responsibility seriously. You're a good man,
intelligent and caring. You'd try to be a real father. But you can't
do it from California if we're in England, and I'm sure as hell *not*
going to live there. That town is *freakish* and *scary*. Anyway my
Mum's here, I can't leave her. She told me to tell you "say yes".
She's always liked you, you know.
Think about it. Think about coming back home, back to England, us
seeing each other again, maybe doing this thing together. It's a very
big decision I know. Take your time, I'm at this address until October
at least. Then I'm thinking of buying my own place, big enough for two
(or three), with a garden or near a park. When you're ready, let me
know either way.
Then came the sheepish phone call from the Slayer, the awkward group
meeting on campus, the harnessing of Magic to defeat the half-demon.
For now, this was still his life, the weapons, the fight, victory
against the odds. But in his Slayer-haunted dream he saw the choice,
just as he had while sitting in his living room over Liv's letter.
Buffy was not a little child playing at monsters, in need of a father
figure to lead her by the hand. She had the heritage of a thousand
generations of mystic warriors, allied to the love and support of her
talented friends. She had outgrown him, and perhaps the time had come
to accept it. Perhaps his role as her Watcher had come to its natural
conclusion: she'd lived longer and triumphed over more foes than any
of those he'd read of in the Diaries. Perhaps he could do something
normal with the rest of his life.
It was an unusually cool June in Sunnydale. Instead of sheltering in
his flat to escape the heat and noise of everyone living their lives
out of doors, he walked or jogged around town, noticing the
ordinariness that seemed to carry on despite the twilight population
of vampires and demons that Buffy (according to her friends' report)
was still despatching on a nightly basis. The young people spent their
time with their own families and friends, visiting out of town, or
holding barbeques and picnics to which he wasn't invited.
On the rare occasions when some of the gang did drop by they never
stayed long. Giles made a tentative suggestion one afternoon that they
might all go for a walk in the woods. Anya rolled her eyes and
pronounced the idea "boring", Xander shushed her but his face said he
agreed. Willow and Tara fidgeted, looking at their feet. It turned out
that they had chiefly come for a free drink on their way to the mall.
In the end he went alone. A soft rain started up as he walked, and he
lifted his face to it, drinking the raindrops like he used to as a
boy, back in Somerset. At a clearing among the trees, he saw the white
scud of a deer's tail darting away at his approach, heading for the
river. He followed its trail, and stood on the riverbank, watching the
gentle flow of the current and letting his mind flow where it would.
Once the rain had stopped he took a book out of his knapsack and,
finding a sheltered spot where the ground was still dry, sat down to
read. It was, appropriately enough, "The Wind in the Willows", a
childhood favourite reread many times, the inside cover bearing the
words "To Rupert from Father, Christmas 1961"
The scent of moist air and damp grass caught him suddenly with a wave
of homesickness so intense he gasped. Summer in England. Rolling
grassy hills, fields dotted with sheep or black and white cows,
bustling market towns built of buff stone, evenings in the pub talking
with friends, real grown up friends with common interests, afternoons
on the Cherwell, just "messing about in boats"…
Home. He wanted to go home.
1st July 2000
I've been thinking a great deal about what you said in your letter. It
was a bit of a shock as you can imagine. I'm flattered that you think
well enough of me to entrust me with such a huge responsibility in
your life - and someone else's.
I'm coming home, Liv. There is a lot to be sorted out here first; I
need to make sure they will be able to manage when I leave. Give me a
couple of months or so. I'll phone to let you know the date I arrive.
But I think my time in America is finally finished.
The other thing I'm going to need a *lot* more time to mull over. We
really need to talk face to face, for you to be absolutely certain
it's what you want, to see if it's possible for us, if it's the right
thing to do. Meantime keep well, be safe. Don't go down any alleys
after dark. England has monsters too.
All the best
* * * * *
"I need you to be my Watcher again"
It was so simple to her. Ask and you shall receive. Buffy was like a
little princess: beautiful, charming, used to having her way. She
needed answers: he could help her find them. Ergo, he would; and the
sense of being needed and valued again was so sweet that he told her
nothing of his original decision, of his thoughts during the summer.
He had forgotten, until he took the trouble to list and categorise
them all, just how many of his texts and magical artefacts had
belonged originally to his father, (and before that to his Watcher
grandmother). Despite his tendencies towards pomposity and pedantry,
his difficulties with expressing emotion and his unrealistically high
expectations of his son - and of himself - he had been a good man,
decent, dedicated, compassionate. Giles knew that he resembled him in
many ways, increasingly so as he matured. Being a Watcher had been the
one fundamental truth of his father's life. He would no more have
thought of deserting his post than of inviting a stranger into his
home after nightfall. But there had still been time for him to be a
husband and father, to play cricket and do The Times crossword. Had he
been assigned to an active Slayer, things might have been different;
but he never had.
Now Giles sat over another cup of "thinking tea", weighing his life in
the balance. Balance, in fact, was something he was clearly not that
good at. Over the years, he had either dedicated himself to the cause
with single-minded energy, keeping nothing back, or he had rebelled.
This past year had been about that, as much as the years on the run in
London, with Ethan and the coven: he'd begun by trying to step back
from his responsibilities, and had ended up falling headlong over a
He took off his signet ring, looked at the words inscribed round the
inside. Words from the Watcher's oath: Fas Legere, "to choose what is
right". His father had given him the ring to mark his acceptance back
into the fold, and he'd worn it as a kind of unofficial symbol of
office ever since. But could he set aside the mantle of Watcher as
easily as slipping off the ring? Did he wear it, or did it wear him?
Did he choose or was he chosen?
Late Spring 2002
They sat on the terrace of Olivia's flat on the western outskirts of
London. Morning mist had given way to hazy spring sunshine.
"So what are you up to these days, Rupert?"
"I'm Head of Research at the Council's Library in Bristol"
"Sounds interesting: right up your street"
"Actually it's chiefly management, plus a little translating of
obscure texts, and correcting the grammar and spelling of other
"Don't they have computers for that these days?"
Giles gave her an admonishing look. "There are quite enough sentences
that don't make sense in the occult books without encouraging computer
generated gibberish as well. Besides " he added, "I don't like them"
"And you're the boss"
"Something like that"
In fact, he had three sub-committees and a Regional Director to report
to: if the Council had wanted the reports texted on mobile phones he
couldn't have stopped them. He was just one greying man among several,
toiling in a grey cavernous basement, shaded against sunlight to
protect the ancient texts. At least his cubicle had a window; precise
dimensions specified, he was sure.
"How's Buffy? Managing alright without you?"
"We haven't spoken since I left"
Olivia looked surprised and he was forced to elaborate.
"She won't return my calls or answer my letters"
" Little madam. You were like a father to her"
"No. I was her *Watcher*. She tried to make a parent out of me, to get
me to deal with the mundanities of her life, but that wasn't why I was
there. It never was."
"I know, I know, sacred calling, bound by oath, et cetera and so
forth. But you *were* fond of her, weren't you?"
"Very fond. Too much, perhaps. She was so used to walking all over me
that when I stood up and refused to take any more she saw it as a
betrayal. But what she is - the Slayer, a mythic warrior, a leader…
how can she come into her full inheritance if I'm standing in her
"Well, I'll leave the realm of the mystical to you. Not really
qualified to comment. I've enough challenge in ordinary life these
She looked fondly over to the swinging cradle where her new baby son
"And how are you and Richard finding parenthood?"
"Culture shock. Richard's still pinching himself, whenever he can keep
his eyes open long enough. I don't think he's quite got past the
"you're going to be a father" moment just yet. He's the one who
thought of the name for the bump"
"Pregnancy must-have. A name for the baby before it arrives and you
saddle it with one it can hate for the rest of its life"
"So before birth little Laurence was called…"
" 'Oops' "
They shared a moment of amusement, until she continued sincerely
"But he's a very happy accident, really. It was time. Richard wanted
kids, in fact his ex-wife *not* wanting them was a big factor in their
break-up. He couldn't understand her not wanting that future"
Giles fell silent, contemplating his own future. His life was out of
balance again, he knew. Listless, rudderless, Slayerless. Was it
always so for the one chosen to guide the Slayer, once that duty was
over, or was it only him? Only him who had given his life so
completely to service that he could not truly take it back?
Olivia, guessing from his face the flavour of his thoughts, laid a
gentle hand on his shoulder. He started slightly.
"Sorry: miles away".
Around five and a half thousand as the crow flew.
"Was it worth it then, Rupert? Not coming home back then? Not giving
normal life a chance?"
Seeing her here, and this child who was another man's future, how
could he reply? The Watcher would speak of responsibility and
sacrifice, of choosing what is right, of the protection of the world.
The man Rupert Giles might talk of lost opportunities, of the path not
taken, of why his life seemed so much to be about letting go, might
ask whether he would ever be allowed to keep something for himself for
" I don't know"