Reflections | Epilogue to Band Candy
Buffy hesitated at Giles' door. When he hadn't showed at the library for patrol, it had seemed like a good idea to check on him. Now it felt like a very bad idea. It was way late.
Except that she really needed to know that he was all right
She tapped on the door.
After what seemed like an eternity it finally opened. Giles stared at her. He was dressed in dark slacks and a navy blue polo shirt. He was clean-shaven but his eyes looked like hell and the lines in his face were deep and shadowed.
"Can't sleep?" she asked as he stood aside to let her in.
"Not really," he said quietly and went to put the kettle on.
"Missed you on patrol. Kinda lonely on my own."
"You didn't have any trouble?" he asked, cups rattling.
Buffy rolled her eyes. "Nothing I couldn't handle."
A few moments later the kettle boiled and the microwave pinged. He returned with the tray, put it down and sat quietly. "I'm sorry I wasn't there."
Buffy shrugged, then took a cookie.
"It wasn't that bad," she said softly and bit into it.
"It was worse," he shot back.
"Were you really so angry?"
He put his head back and closed his eyes. "Oh, yes, although I wasn't quite that moronically irresponsible. Damned candy. Christ, what a bloody nightmare."
"Giles!" she teased, "Do you drink tea with that mouth?"
There was a flash of amused tolerance in his eyes, but it didn't last. "I'm truly sorry, Buffy. You seem destined to see every aspect of my sordid past."
"You mean that bad-boy accent of yours? What is that? And what exactly does 'sod off' mean?"
Giles sighed. "You're not helping."
"Am I supposed to be? You were obnoxious. You made Xander look like a choirboy."
"Oh, God," he growled.
"Exactly. Cigarettes, Giles?"
He looked down at her. "Apart from money, there were three things that made you a big man when I was Xander's age: girls, motors er cars, and cigarettes. Since I was perpetually broke and had no chance of legally acquiring a vehicle, I concentrated all my efforts on the other two."
"I'm glad you stopped. I wouldn't want to see someone squeezing the ick out of your lungs on T.V. one day."
Giles shifted uncomfortably and finally poured himself a cup of tea. "Neither would I."
Buffy picked up her hot chocolate. "It was a little scary," she said softly, and Giles looked down at her.
"Having you both out of control like that. I'm kinda used to you being the responsible one," she smiled. "I'm not ready to be a mother yet and speaking of mothers, she still hasn't told me where she got that coat from."
Giles flushed violently. "I don't blame her," he said. "Let it go, Buffy. It wasn't her fault."
"Fine. It's gone anyway. She put it in next door's trash." She finished the chocolate. "So do you have a dictionary of weird English words I can borrow?"
"Weird English words?"
"Yeah, things like 'sod off,' stuff like that."
"Is there a purpose to this visit, or are you just here to annoy me?"
"Pretty much." She looked up at him. "Has it been bad?"
His eyes grew bleak. "Bad enough."
"So you remember everything?"
He nodded tightly. "But I had no control "
"Well, not of your hormones, that's for sure "
"Oh, Christ "
"That was kind of what I was thinking when I saw you kissing my mother."
"I wonder if it's too early for a scotch?"
"Don't do that. Are there any vices you haven't done?"
"Yes. Child beating."
"No need to get testy. So when exactly did the stuffiness start to set in? And is there a cure?"
"When I was about twenty four and I realised what a God-awful mess I'd made of my life."
"That Eyghon was a life-changer, huh?"
"Do you want another cup of hot chocolate? Or shall I just beat my head against the kitchen cupboard?"
"Tough choice. Do you have any marshmallows?"
"No, but I am developing a rather impressive headache."
"Sorry. Tylenol, or scotch?"
"For God's sake just go and boil the bloody kettle."
"Why?" she asked as she went. "Don't tell me he drinks tea. God drinks tequila straight up. He does not drink tea."
Giles shook his head. "Bloody Americans. Mind you don't over-fill it or it'll overflow when it boils." He sat back wearily and closed his eyes for a moment.
"Have you ever thought of trying something else? Mocha? Capuccino? Latte? Hey, look what I found."
He sat up and opened them again. "Whatever it is better be back where you found it the next time I go in there."
"Naturally, I mean, where else would a person keep their tiny shrunken monkey head but between the petrified instant coffee and the drain cleaner? Ick."
"It's a shaman's talisman. I wondered where the blasted thing had got to."
The kettle started to whistle.
"Did it ever cross your mind that we are definitely not normal?"
"Every time you do your callisthenics program."
Buffy slid the tea tray onto the coffee table and sat down. "Remind me to introduce you to K's Choice some time."
"Interesting name for a band," he said sarcastically.
"This from the tartan king "
"There's nothing wrong with the Bay City Rollers."
"Yeah, nothing that earplugs and a blindfold wouldn't fix. Giles?"
"Is it because of Ripper?"
"What? My taste in music?"
"No, your taste in slayers; why you never tried to make me a 'Kendra'."
"Now there was a slayer "
"I could get you your own handbook"
"The day you walked into my library I knew why I'd been sent to you."
"What? Dysfunctional watcher for a dysfunctional slayer?"
"Well don't get carried away with the narrative there, Giles."
Giles looked down his nose at her. "I wasn't aware that you were on speaking terms with 'narrative.'"
"Well, no, but it sounded good."
Giles made a noise in his throat.
Buffy's brow furrowed. "I thought a lot about what you said about your youth when Eyghon, well, you know And I saw enough of Ripper to know that something made you so angryas angry as I was when my mom and dad split up."
"Yes, well, our situations were rather different, but I would have to admit to a certain amount of adolescent angst."
"The master of understatement. Having a destiny is a bitch though, you gotta admit."
Giles looked down at his charge. "No doubt about it," he agreed soberly. "By the time I'd reached the age I aspired to," he looked at his watch, "yesterday. I wanted nothing more than to put together a rock band and what do you call it these days? 'Hang' is it? With my friends."
Buffy looked up at him then. "I can buy that. Been there. But it's not the whole deal, is it? I know you, and 'pressure of destiny' isn't enough reason for either the Ripper thing or Eyghon."
Giles looked at her for long seconds, wondering when exactly she'd grown up so much. "You're right of course. There were other issues, with my father, my family, which I have no intention of discussing. Sufficed to say I made some poor choices."
"You make it sound like choosing a brand of cereal. Was that what I did when I fell in love with Angel? When I ran away? Make poor choices?"
She looked up, her eyes flashing.
"Kendra died. I killed the only man I've ever loved, my mother threw me out of the house for not letting the world get sucked into hell, my best friend was in hospital, I was wanted for murder, and for dessert Snyder expelled me from school. I'd say I had some 'other' issues, wouldn't you?"
Giles had the good grace to redden and turn away. "We are less alike than you might imagine, Buffy. I was always weak." He closed his eyes as Jenny/Eyghon's sneering words echoed in his mind.
'You're like a woman, Ripper. You cry at every funeral '
"My father detested weakness of any kind "
"But you idolised your father Oh "
Buffy closed her eyes, then opened them again. "But you aren't weak. You're one of the strongest people I've ever met, and I've always been taught that strength is something you have, not something you learn. You sure as hell didn't find it in a library book "
Giles' eyes were bleak. "Nor did I find it on the streets of London or channelling demons. God, I did some stupid things "
"I still don't get it. Why did he think you were weak? Did you play with dolls? Pick flowers a lot?"
He chuckled mirthlessly. "My father drove away from a funeral once without me when I was fourteen," he said softly, still incredulous even after all those years.
Buffy was watching him, trying to read the emotions playing across his face. "And what heinous crime did you commit? Did you laugh during the sermon? Smoke outside the chapel? Tell someone to sod off?"
He looked up, a kind of sad wistfulness in his gentle eyes. "I cried," he said and pulled himself out of the chair. "Do you want some supper?"
After a moment to assimilate that, Buffy jumped up and followed him to the kitchen.
"You were right. You were stupid," she told him. "And you know what the stupidest thing was?"
"I'm sure you're going to enlighten me, whether I want to know or not."
"You bought it. You actually believed that crap. You ran away and let yourself devolve into Ripper the sociopath to prove something to your father. You and I both know that our feelings are what make us who we are, that they're part of our strength."
"Yes, we do, don't we?" he said quietly. "And to be perfectly fair I 'devolved' into Ripper before I ran away," he added matter-of-factly and opened the refrigerator.
"Toasted cheese or a hot blueberry muffin?"
"I'm not hungry," she said impatiently. "Giles, why? I mean, you've always let me be guided by my feelings. You've never asked me to give up my life, my friends, to become some kind of mindless robot, never tried to force me to be something I'm not " Her voice faded away and she looked up at him, wide-eyed.
"The muffin," she said softly, her eyes bright.
"Muffins it is," he replied and put them in the microwave, his body language still betraying his unresolved self-consciousness about Ripper.
"So, what kind of music?"
"Pardon?" he turned.
"Ripper wanted to start a band "
"Oh. Well, not the Bay City Rollers, if that's any consolation. My mates and I rather fancied bands like Cream, and Joe Cocker and others back then."
"Big consolation," she said, smiling. "He wasn't so bad," she added softly.
Giles' eyes searched hers.
"Ripper. Whatever else he was, he was still you. He had guts. He backed me up against Ethan and he put himself in danger trying to help me against Lauconis."
He smiled a little. "Thank you," he said softly. "But heI was still a berk."
Buffy smiled back, an answering warmth in her eyes. "Totally."
Giles put the hot muffins on plates and led the way back into the living room.
"Giles, what's a berk?"
"A right pillock."
"Stop being a berk and eat the muffin."