By Kathy L
Author: Kathy L
Feedback: It's almost better than chocolate...almost.
Spoilers: Graduation Day, Part 1
Distribution: Solo, as always. Anyone else, just ask.
Summary: A 'missing scene' fic from Graduation Day, Part 1, just after Giles stabs the mayor. (Was anyone else upset that they just glossed over that part? I was...)
Author's note: This has been lurking on my hard drive forever and I just found it the other day. Thought I would share.
"It's going to be one heck of a speech," said the
Mayor, as he sauntered out of the library.
They stood there for a moment, still in shock at the exchange they had just witnessed. The Mayor's invincibility was not new knowledge, but witnessing the phenomena firsthand had shredded their tenuously-held belief that they would be able to defeat him. And yet, even as the Mayor was making his exit, they began to fight their fears as they always had, drawing strength from each other and using that faith to push away the doubts. Willow continued staring at the swinging library doors, grateful for the arms that suddenly wrapped her in a reassuring hug. Xander and Anya looked at one other to find some comfort in the reflection of their own fears. Even Wesley glanced at Buffy, and, misinterpreting the hardened expression on her face, surmised her as a force to be reckoned with, if only he could keep her from becoming distracted. The last two of the group, however, could find no such solace, and in fact were still reeling from the implications of what had just happened.
"Yes-Well..." said Wesley, "That was informative." He glanced at the library doors in dismay.
The Watcher's words broke the silence and suddenly the air was filled with a multitude of conversations. Anya eventually excused herself and rushed out of the library, followed by a concerned Xander. Willow and Oz volunteered to help with researching the vulcanologist, and promptly left to continue the studies on her more powerful home computer. Buffy still sat on the library table, absentmindedly studying the report of Faith's latest kill.
"Buffy, don't you think you ought to get going? It might be wiser to look around Wirth's during the day," said Wesley, in full Watcher mode.
"I'm going," she turned and sat on the edge of the desk, looking at Giles, who had suddenly become engrossed in another demon chronicle. "But we have to talk first."
Wesley puffed up and began to rant yet again. "Now see here-"
Buffy cut him off before he had a chance to get started. "Sorry Wes, this time it's personal," she said, with genuine regret.
He looked at her with hurt, resigned eyes, and said "I rather think it's always personal." With that, he softly walked out of the library.
Giles stood in silence for a moment and then sighed. "I know what you're going to say. And yes, it *was* stupid," he said, engrossed in polishing his glasses for the hundredth time that day. The rage had abated and left behind it an emptiness born of shame, not over what he had done, but the fact that he had lost his temper to such an obvious provocation.
"I'd make you say that again so I could tape it... if I wasn't so wigged." She finished in a voice that was barely above a whisper.
"Buffy, the most important thing we can do right now, the most important thing you can do right now is to not give up hope. We will find a way to defeat the mayor, but it isn't going to happen overnight," he said.
She gave him a concerned frown and said, "Right now the Mayor is the least of my problems."
"What? Oh that?" he said, glancing at the foil still lying on the table. "Lost my temper for a moment, I guess," he shrugged. "Nothing more," he said, returning to his book.
"NO! It's not nothing, it's a big SOMETHING." She said, pulling the book out of his hands.
She had been trying to suppress the panic that had been building from the moment Giles grabbed the foil and plunged it through the Mayor's chest. She relied on the knowledge that he was always the one with the level head, always the one with the ideas. It was so seldom that it was she who had to pull him back from putting himself in danger. At that moment, it wasn't the Mayor that terrified her the most; it was the memory of her Watcher lying unconscious in the middle of a warehouse that was going up in flames.
"Buffy! What has come over you?" he said, shocked.
"I know you, Giles. I know that you will avoid confronting people if you can but that if someone pushes the right buttons, you'll go to the mat for people you care about. And sometimes you go far, farther than you should." She gave in to the panic in an honest attempt to convince him with real emotion. In a choked voice she said "You can't *do* that this time. Even for me. I need you through this - I need your advice, your strength. I don't have the strength to keep us both together and still go up against the mayor."
"Buffy I am always here for you. You know that. I- I agree that this, this incident was bad judgement, but that's all it was." "Like last time?"
"With Ms. Calendar..." She hated herself for even mentioning the name. She knew it drove a lance into his heart a thousand times more painful than the foil he had used on the Mayor. But she had to get his attention, make him understand that right now she was more afraid of losing him than she was of trying to stop the end of the world.
She thought he was going to yell at her. His face twisted with rage, but he caught himself and didn't say anything. Just when she thought he wasn't going to say anything at all, he surprised her.
"Do you remember what I promised you that night?"
Before the ambulance and the chaos of the firefighters, they had wept in each others arms. Once he had cried out his own grief, he realized that he was being showered with the tears of a frightened child, one he was sworn to stand by and sworn to protect. He had held her close amidst his own tears of shame, that he could come so close to failing in the duty that he held so sacred.
"I held you in my arms, and in Jenny's name, I promised I would never leave you again."
"I remember," she said, tears welling up in her eyes. She had been so terrified, coming so close to losing him, not by Angel's hand but by his own misguided sense of vengeance. And on the heels of that near-miss, he had made her a promise, which he had kept, in spite of everything that had happened.
"Well, I can't very well keep my word if I'm no longer around, now can I?" he said, giving her a sincere grin.
She didn't say anything, just walked over and wept in his arms, much the way she had a year before. Only this time, it was with a certainty that he really wasn't going anywhere. She was the Slayer, yes, but she didn't have to fight her demons alone. This time, though, it wasn't a Watcher that gave her strength. It was *her* watcher. The one who watched her laugh, watched her grieve, and watched her grow - the one who was pledged to watch her always, through everything.