Somebody's Fool | Epilogue to Fool For Love

"Watcher!"

Giles jumped two feet in the air and dropped the spatula with which he was turning his almost cooked omelette.

"Spike! How the bloody hell did you get in? And what are you doing here at this time of the morning?"

"Nice to see you locking your door these days, mate, but I did live here long enough last year to know you keep the spare key under next door's pink geranium." He smirked and dropped his smoking blanket. "You might want to rethink that one a bit."

"What do you want?" Giles asked irritably, cleaning up bits of egg, rescuing the spatula, and finding another before the omelette burned.

"You're in the wrong place," Spike drawled.

"What?" Giles dropped the almost spoiled cheese omelette onto a plate and wheeled around.

"There's something wrong with the Slayer."

"Buffy? What's wrong with Buffy? Why didn't you say something sooner, you prat? What happened? Is anyone with her?"

Spikes eyes narrowed, then he held up his hands and leaned his torso back a little. "Don't get your panties in a dither," he drawled. "I found her sitting on the back step of her house, crying bloody her eyes out about something."

Giles finally exhaled. "Then…then she's not hurt, or…?"

"No, Galahad, she's not," Spike said dryly. "Not in a black and blue bleeding sort of way, anyway."

"What happened?"

"Do you have to know every detail?"

"Spike! Let us not forget I have a trunk full of weapons and you have a chip in your head," Giles growled threateningly.

"It's Joyce. She's in a bad way about Joyce. I spent some time with her…we had a few drinks. I only know I've never seen her like that before …and she doesn't want my help." He rolled his eyes. "The shotgun might have had something to do with it."

"Shotgun?"

"Long story," Spike muttered and moved subtlely away from the Watcher, whose patience was almost at an end.

"If you ever hurt Buffy, I will kill you," Giles said in a tone Spike had never heard before, his normally soft green eyes as cold as marble and as hard as steel. "And should anything happen to her and I find out you had anything to do with it, I will make Angelus look like a pet kitten, do you understand me?"

Spike stepped back a little more. "Right you are, chief. Slayer lives. Keep testicles." He tilted his head a little to one side. "Awfully attached to our Miss Summers, aren't we?"

"How I feel about…my relationship with…it's none of your damn business!" He picked up his plate and carried it into the living room, brushing past the vampire with deliberate disdain as he went.

Spike nodded to himself. Lady of the house, indeed… "I knew it was there, somewhere under that repressed, never say a word, exterior of yours."

Giles was sitting and staring at the food he had no appetite for anymore.

"What is, you pillock?"

"Love," Spike said surprisingly softly. "You love her as much as I-er Captain Cardboard does, poor sod."

Giles looked up. "Why…poor sod?"

Spike's eyes narrowed again. Where was the big denial? "Any fool can see she doesn't love the great wanker."

The Watcher frowned and slid the plate onto the coffee table. "Then why…?"

"You really are clueless about women, mate, aren't you, now?"

Giles snorted.

"Angel dumps her. She goes to college and what's the first thing she does?"

Giles stared at him like a mongoose staring at a snake.

"She throws herself at the first bit of all right that smiles at her the right way. He ends up being king sleaze and she's back where she started from. Along comes Mister Cover Boy for All American magazine and what…? He's nice, he's safe…and as an added bonus he loves her."

"All very good reasons for her to be in love with him," Giles pointed out diffidently.

"Except she isn't," Spike said, dead-pan. "She loves someone else, but she doesn't know it yet."

"And exactly when did you come to all these fascinating conclusions?"

It was Spike's turn to snort. "It doesn't take a genius. Has she ever told you she loves him? Does she prattle on about him all the time to you? Does she go off into girly daydreams?"

"Buffy doesn't have time for girly…" Giles stopped. "No," he said thoughtfully. "She hasn't 'prattled' about him for months, changes the subject in fact, when he comes up in conversation."

"There you go, Guv, you're getting it now."

The Watcher gave him an irritated look. "What's your interest in all this, Spike? Last I heard your only ambition was to get rid of your chip so that you could…could kill her. What's your game?"

Spike looked away.

After a beat a startled expression passed over Giles' face. "Not if the world started to rotate backwards," he said softly. "One vampire is a thousand vampires too many. Not again. Not on my watch."

Spike turned back and Giles was shocked to see the depth of the hurt in the blue eyes.

"Don't worry, Rupert old mate. It's not me," he said quietly.

"Then for God's sake, who?"

The blue eyes continued to bore into his. "If you don't know, then I'm bloody well not going to tell you," the vampire growled. "Just get over there and try and remember what it's like to need someone. She's in a lot of pain…but while she was happy for a bit of company, she wouldn't say much, except that her mum's going to the hospital some time today."

For a couple more long seconds the green eyes held the blue ones, then Giles was standing.

"Leave, Spike," he said abruptly.

The vampire studied him for a moment, nodded, and slipped away.

Giles picked up his plate and went to the kitchen to dispose of the wasted food. After a couple more glazed moments he turned and moved swiftly to the stairs and the loft.

*******


"Giles? I wasn't expecting to see you until training on Wednesday."

Giles searched the haggard face.

"Well, yes, I just…I thought I'd drop in on my way through."

"Going where?" Buffy asked as they walked through to the kitchen, where she was working from a recipe book, bowls, implements and various ingredients strewn everywhere.

"Er…doesn't matter," Giles said dismissively. "What exactly are you doing?" he asked, picking up a plump eggplant.

"I asked mom what she'd like for lunch before…before we go to the hospital. Turns out she likes that Moose stuff you made one time."

Giles looked at the eggplant and rolled his eyes. "Moussaka. Greek dish. Delicious. You should try it some time," he said dryly. "This should be sliced and lightly salted to draw out the excess moisture while you're preparing the rest. Do you have a knife?"

Buffy gave him a 'show off' look and handed him a mean looking vegetable knife. "I thought I could put it all together now, and heat it later."

They worked in silence for some time before the dish was finally ready to go into the oven. Wordlessly, they finished the clean up together before leaving the kitchen.

"So why did you come?" Buffy finally broke the silence as they settled in the living room.

"Someone told me you might have had a rather bad day, yesterday."

"Bad day, bad month, bad lifetime," Buffy said bitterly.

"Perhaps if you were to talk about it, it might help," he said softly.

"How? All your books and your weapons and your crystals aren't going to help this time," she said angrily, standing up and prowling the room. "I can't slay this demon and make everything better for everyone, Giles!"

If he was surprised at her anger, he didn't show it. "Not I don't suppose you can," he said gently. "But you can talk about it…share it with someone…."

Buffy stopped and looked at him, startled.

For several long moments their eyes held.

"I'm scared," she said finally, and it reverberated from her…the very real fear, in her voice, her eyes, her mouth. "Why my mom, Giles?" she went on before he could speak. "After everything else that's happened, why her? It's not even real evil. I can't fight this…" Her voice wobbled. "I don't know what to do…"

"We…we don't know for certain yet, what…"

"There's something there," Buffy said in a very small voice. "She's going to the hospital so they can find out what it is."

Giles subsided, his heart constricting for her. For so long the two of them had lived with the very real possibility of her death, that it was beyond comprehension that this, of all things, should be added to her burden.

"I-I'm sorry," he said softly. "If there's anything I can do to help…?"

Buffy closed her eyes. "Nobody can help," she whispered. Tears slipped under the lashes and trickling down the sides of her face.

"Let me try," his gentle voice said very close to her, a moment later.

She didn't open her eyes, but her expression changed to one of surprise, affection and despair at the same time. A sob rose in her throat.

"I can do it any more, Giles," she cried. "I can't lose her too. I already have to live with the knowledge that somehow, sometime soon I'm going to lose Dawn…or possibly the world as we know it," she added bitterly. "And let's not forget my destiny: Buffy the Vamp' bait. I can't do it any more, not if I have to lose her too. How much more?" she demanded. "They took my childhood. I died for them, Giles. I've lost too many friends…" She met his gaze and held it. "And I've watched too many friends suffer because of me…because of who I am...what I do."

Giles stared back at her, understanding in his eyes.

The tears welled up and spilled over. "I can't handle this too," she sobbed. "Not this."

"You don't have to handle it alone," he told her, and reached out to push a strand of blonde hair off her cheek very gently.

The uncharacteristic gesture almost broke Buffy's heart. She turned into the arms that were already enfolding her, weeping half a lifetime of tears as he provided all the strength that had been drained out her, and his embrace a refuge for her battered soul.

Outside, Spike watched through the living room window and nodded to himself. "About bloody time, you big ponce," he snorted, and then watched as the Watcher drew his arms even more tightly around her and bent his head to rest his lips for a moment on her hair.

His fists clenched. "Hurt her and I will use a bloody chainsaw," he muttered, wheeled and strode out into the night, the moonlight picking up glints on his cheeks as he turned down the street…



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