Second Sight | Epilogue to Something Blue...

Buffy let herself back into Giles' apartment. It had been nice, talking to Riley, but patrol after everything that had happened had been long and tedious…and quiet. Way too much time to think…

“Where did everybody go?”

Giles looked up from the newspaper he was reading and put down his tea.

“Spike is back in the bathroom. It was either that…or stake him. Willow ran out of cookies…and bravado. Xander and Anya are walking her back to the campus.” He took his glasses off and put his head back before rubbing his eyes.

Buffy bit her lip and came to sit beside him.

“Giles, about today…”

He straightened slowly. “I know. The…novelty…of being under the influence of external forces, even Willow's, has worn rather thin.”

“No,” she said quietly. “It's…well, yeah, the Spike stuff…it was like, totally gross. But…you were blind.”

He turned to look at her, a half amused, half curious look on his face. “Well, yes, I did notice.”

She frowned, looked away. “I didn't help…I didn't even notice…”

“You were rather preoccupied,” he pointed out wryly. “And you did actually manage to go to the magic shop…”

Buffy almost wished he'd get mad, instead of being so…so Giles about it.

“God, Giles, weren't you scared at all?”

“Terrified,” he said softly. “But there wasn't much I could do about it. And it at least saved me from actually having to see what you and Spike were up to…”

He'd said it lightly but Buffy heard the edge in his voice.

She shivered a little. The memory of what she'd done, said, under that spell still made her sick to her stomach.

Spike, for God's sake…

“I…I can't believe I did any of that, said any of that,” she said defensively. “I think I prefer the beer.”

He half laughed, but Buffy could see his mind was elsewhere. His eyes had narrowed suddenly as she spoke then grown surprisingly sad.

“I think I do, too,” he agreed. “Your judgement was decidedly better, for one…”

Buffy giggled in spite of herself. Giles knew about Parker. It had been the best thing out of a bad incident, sharing that with him after she sobered up. They'd both laughed longer and harder than they had in a very long time over her handiwork with the club. It hadn't lasted, of course. It never did any more. They would spar verbally, she would tease him once in a while about everything from his age to his clothes, but they didn't…

“Sure was,” she said softly, wondering what happened, why they just weren't close any more…why they didn't seem to fit together they way they used to. He used to be so easy to talk to, to not talk to, even… “This time, though, it was just La-La land. I mean, Spike? I'd rather kiss Amy-rat.”

Giles made a noise in his throat and rose wearily. “Tea?” he asked.

Buffy looked up at him, unaware of the disappointment in her eyes…or in his. “Giles, why don't we talk any more?”

He looked startled for a moment, then his brows drew together and he sat down again. “What brought this on?” he asked quietly.

“Quiet patrol. Deep thoughts…especially about today.” Buffy shrugged. “We
research, we slay; we even cook. I rag, you grunt. I thrust, you parry, but we don't talk, except about the slayage and lately, Willow.”

“We don't?” he repeated, still surprised at the question.

She searched his face, surprised by the changes in it. It had been a long time since she really looked at him. She shied away from the knowledge that she'd taken him for granted for so long there were now way too many things about him that she didn't know…things that even Willow, or Xander, probably would…

“No, we really don't.”

He finally smiled again. “No we really don't,” he agreed in a tone at odds with the smile. “I was wondering when you were going to notice, or if you ever were.”

Buffy's eyes widened for a moment. “I…” But she didn't know what to say to that. “This is going to sound stupid,” she said instead, “but…why? Why don't we?”

He tilted his head to one side. “I don't really think I'm the one to answer that, do you? I know since the events of last semester you've tried to distance yourself from a great many things, perhaps even to step back a little from all your responsibilities, your …relationships. But only you can really say why…”

Last semester…? Try the whole year… Buffy shivered involuntarily. Events…the word sounded so innocuous without names that went with them: Angel, Travers, Wesley…Angel…Trick, Wilkins, Faith…Angel…

“Can't say as it's been my year,” she said flatly.

Giles was watching her far more carefully than she realised. A frown appeared between his brows as he watched her thoughts write themselves across her mobile features.

“Nor I,” he agreed. “It has been long…and difficult.”

“Difficult…?” she repeated hoarsely. “Giles, trigonometry is difficult. This year sucks majorly.

“Not entirely,” he said gently. “You did graduate. And you were offered places at some fine colleges.” He put a finger under her chin and lifted it when she didn't look up, continued when the blue eyes finally met his. “And you are still alive…”

Buffy returned his gaze, acutely aware of the warmth of the rare touch, and only really seeing the soft green eyes her zonked-out self would have left blinded earlier in the day, for the first time in a very long time. It occurred to her that she'd never taken the time to notice how beautiful they were, for a man, or the brown patch in the left one, or how thick his light brown lashes were…

She blinked. “Then…then why do I want everything to go back to the way it was?” she whispered. “I want my old room…the school…God, Giles, I miss the library so much…”

They both stared.

Giles swallowed. “You don't need the library any more, Buffy,” he said softly. “You have everything you need without it, and you're old enough now to…”

”No,” Buffy interrupted. “I'm not…I don't want…I mean, I can't…” She stopped, turned her head away, breaking the contact, and sighed. “You're right. You were right the first time,” she said flatly. “I am old enough… and perfectly capable of handling things by myself…but you don't know…”

“How lonely it is…?” he finished.

She didn't see the momentarily startled look in his eyes, as though he was surprised at his own words. She turned back slowly and nodded, then narrowed her eyes thoughtfully when she saw his face.

“Are you…lonely, I mean?”

Giles couldn't stop the humourless chuckle. “Sometimes.”

“I never thought about it before,” she said, looking around the room, as though seeing it for the first time, “at least, not since…” Her expression grew bleak. “Never mind.”

“She told me,” he said, guessing immediately, his facing softening both at the memory of Jenny, and the effort Buffy had made in his behalf, and then growing a little sad. Such a long time ago…

“I didn't—don't—want you to be lonely,” she said softly. “Maybe that's why I don't think about it…” She let her eyes dart around the apartment again. “God, that's so selfish…” Her eyes grew very bright. “But I am, aren't I?” A smile flickered on her lips as she remembered her funny parasol then turned bitter. “They should have given me another award at the Prom: Buffy Summers, most self-involved Slayer in history.”

Giles chuckled softly despite the weight in his eyes. “I can have one made, if you like,” he teased. “Perhaps a bronzed stake?”

Buffy looked up at him, droplets escaping from her mascara-ed lashes, and laughed.

“I'm sorry,” she said softly.

Again, he was too surprised to speak.

“And I'm sorry about today,” she continued unsteadily. “But I did mean it, what I said…when Spike and I—”

He half smiled, remembering. “About wanting me to give you away?”

Buffy shook her head. “That was dumb,” she said, and didn't see the sudden hurt in his eyes, the smile fading away, “just Willow's spell. I've already got a father…”

She lifted her eyes to look into his. They widened suddenly when she saw the pain still lingering in the green depths, then closed at the unbidden memory of his momentary surprise and delight at that stupid request, his hand reaching out instinctively to her.

“Buffy?”

She stirred. “I meant what I said about you and me. We're family,” she told him, her eyes searching his. “Aren't we?”

Giles smiled, the hurt dissolving in the flood of warmth that came into his eyes. “Don't you know, after all this time?” he asked gently.

Buffy's face crumpled a little and she shook her head.

Suddenly a lot of things made a great deal more sense. “Silly goose,” he said. “For all our mistakes, some things don't change.”

“But my mistakes take up, like, a phone book,” she whispered. “And you never get mad. You should get mad…” she finished almost crossly.

He laughed softly. “I have to get angry to show that I care?” Then he sobered. “You've forgotten. I have been angry.”

But Buffy hadn't forgotten. She hadn't forgotten anything about that day, including the desolation in his face when told her in his own, quiet, dignified way, exactly how wounded he was; how betrayed.

The colour drained from her face. It wasn't something she cared to remember too often…or at all, if she could help it.

“It wasn't the anger,” she said quietly. “It was the hurt. You were so hurt…and I didn't know how to make it right…so I didn't do anything.” She looked away. “Buffy's answer to life, the universe and everything: ignore it, and it'll go away.”

Giles watched her shoulders tense defensively. “That was a long time ago. It serves no useful purpose to drag it all up again, to punish your self…”

She turned back. That was the problem. She never had. Not once…

“Giles, don't…”

Giles frowned, puzzled. “Don't what?”

A sound escaped from Buffy's throat. “Don't be Giles…Just for once get angry …even hate me. Yell, or something.”

“Why?” he asked softly. “It's not in me to hate you…or even to stay angry with you, Buffy. And I couldn't hurt you any more than I already have. I…” He stopped suddenly, as if he thought he'd said too much.

Buffy didn't speak for a long moment.

The Cruciamentum…She'd made him pay dearly for that one mistake, but she couldn't remember even one time, apart from Angel's return, that he'd ever judged her over her own, often hurtful, horrible mistakes…

Suddenly her earlier breathtakingly under-whelming, 'I'm sorry,' seemed almost insultingly inadequate. Like me, she thought despairingly, wishing there was as way to show him…to tell him…

“I was wrong,” she said finally. It was all she had to give.

Giles' eyes widened, his lips parted a little in surprise. After a beat he cleared his throat. “Wh…What?”

“The Cruciamentum,” she said slowly, holding his gaze, letting him see that she meant it. “It wasn't your fault…the Council's orders.”

He looked away then, swallowed hard several times. “Why…? You've never…I didn't expect you to…”

“Because I'm sorry…for everything…for all the times I hurt you… and I want to tell you…but I don't know how,” she admitted tremulously.

He turned back, searching her face.

She reached out, trembling, and brushed a single drop off his right cheek.

His eyes closed momentarily, opening again when the soft fingertips were withdrawn.

She searched the gentle features, the worried eyes gazing back at her, and realised for the first time how much she loved every familiar line, every groove; how much she needed him…how much she loved him.

“Buffy…?”

…And how much they both needed her to say it.

“I love you so much,” she whispered.

He stared back at her, moisture slowly cluttering the tender green gaze. “Buffy—”

Her face crumbled and she threw her arms around his neck. “I'm sorry,” she choked as his arms caught her up and their embrace became a wordless communication of sorrow, regret and love.

“It's all right,” he whispered, drawing her closer and kissing her temple, before folding her even more tightly in his arms and closing his eyes tightly against the surge of emotion that shook him.

“Everything's all right now…”


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