Title: THE FALL
Distribution: Spread the love. Just ask.
Summary: Memoir-esque blow by blow as Buffy comes to Giles seeking assistance, but gets more than she bargained for. History: Author is having serious issues with Season 4, boys and girls. Fic therapy ensues.
Spoilers: Season 4
Disclaimer: The Buffy verse and its inhabitants belong to the Almighty Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy and the WB. No copyright infringement is intended. Therapeutic benefit for those in need only :)
Feedback: Please sir, may I have some more?
I am restless. It's been a long day and I am consumed by
frustrations I don't have a name for. I am troubled; have a
question, so I am seeking him Sitting in his courtyard, impatient
at his absence I amuse myself by studying the details I usually
gloss over. The pattern on the tiling; the scratches on the
fountain. Footsteps interrupt my meditation and return me
to my purpose. To his.
"Buffy. Been here long?" He has been running. He smiles at me, surprised.
"Needed to see ya."
"Is something the matter?" I watch as he pats the sweat off his brow and slings his towel over his shoulder.
"Hopefully not. I had a weird encounter and I want some Giles input." His eyebrows raise. "Really? Weird, how?"
"In the sense of me missing the finale."
He ushers me inside as we keep talking. He smells pleasantly; a mix of sweat and cologne and a scent I've smelt on Willow's clothes when she's been casting. I seat myself on the deep comfy sofa. He joins me as I explain the creature, my fall.
He leans forward attentively. Uneasy.
"Not your usual hellmouthy day at the office" I say, averting my eyes from his concentrated gaze.
"And you're ok? Truly? How much time did you lose?" he asks, distressed. I tell him yes; truly; I think it was only a few minutes.
"I don't recognize the creature you described, but it's likely your blackout is somehow connected to engaging it in battle. Leave it with me and I'll let you know the moment I find anything. And in the meantime, I suggest you rest. Hell mouth and Initiative be damned, you have to take care of yourself."
He sounds sad. Is it wrong of me to like him like this?
"It's probably nothing."
He asks if I'm eating ok. Mentions I look pale. I am sure my cheeks are flushed. He hasn't finished. I have the urge to move. To hide. He senses my discomfort. I notice his.
"There is another possibility to consider. Though I don't believe what you experienced on patrol is directly attributable to it . . ."
After a calculated beat, he goes on.
"Perhaps you've been pushing yourself too hard Buffy. Your workload in college, along with new... relationships...it can take it's toll. You've seemed a little lost since High School, insular, and I can't help wondering if this hasn't been coming for while. This was last night yes?"
I shouldn't have come at all.
"What!? Buffy why in gods name didn't you come to me sooner?" He stands, gaping. I know my lines by heart.
"I didn't think it was important. But then Riley said it might affect my work, so I thought..."
"Your work! Buffy, did it even occur to you to make me aware of this incident immediately after it happened?"
I masquerade indifference. It usually works. But not today. I feel like I'm teetering on the brink of something. I feel queasy. Maybe I am sick.
"Never mind that you yourself could be in serious danger of some kind, but as the Slayer Buffy...you simply cannot afford to be that careless! Were you alone? Was Riley with you?" His expression shifts. "Did this happen under Walsh's keen eye?"
The questions come so rapid fire they make my head hurt. The last, especially insinuating.
I pipe up, right on cue.
"What if it did? You don't control me any more Giles. You're not the boss and you've got to learn I'm growing up, I can't always..."
I am morbidly sensitive aren't I? This shouldn't hurt so much.
"Buffy I've never controlled you!'
Why the wiggins now? Not so long ago he was trying to beat self reliance into me.
"Giles, stop it you'll give yourself a heart attack." I joke weakly, offering distraction from the inevitable.
"Unable to express herself save puns, insults and jibes. Ah yes. Very grown up Buffy. "
"Hey! That was.." A mistake.
"Long overdue." He's too far-gone to permit diplomacy to diffuse the situation.
I don't speak anymore. My heart screams. I feel like I can't breathe. "Buffy, I know I'm not the 'boss', as you so eloquently surmise. So do Willow, Xander, even Anya for gods sake. You are the only one who seems to be having trouble coming to terms with that. I'm asking you to engage with me as an equal. Something you seem unable and more importantly unwilling to do. You bark orders at me, deliberately conceal vital information about our work - in doing so jeopardize the safety of myself and all those we care about. You mock me, ignore me, avoid me, then come running back begging me to take care of matters you've always been too lazy to learn how to deal with yourself. You claim you're an adult yet in many ways you're behaving more childishly then when I first met you. Do you recall when I told you that you would always have my support and respect? All I ask of you is the same in kind."
Letting go now...
The relief of falling after so long and agonizing a resistance is strangely fulfilling.
"Now, what to do about this little problem. I'd give you a damn hiding but it would only reinforce that father figure construct you've tidily boxed me into to avoid treating me with the respect and compassion you award most of your victims, let alone friends."
Plummeting hard. Fast.
"I can't kill you. The world needs it's slayer; aside from which Willow and Xander would never speak to me again."
Sarcasm. My weapon of choice.
"We shall just have to deal with this issue. Won't we?"
He's not there to catch me. He's right in front of me. He's not going away.
"I think you just dealt." I whisper around the lump in my throat. I felt as though I had tumbled into another dimension. But this wasn't supernatural.
This was very real. This was Giles. He's not going away.
Something drops away from me; that slick, invisible, impenetrable wall I've cultivated through years of crouching in the shadows, concealing identities and feelings of one variety or another. They don't realize how steeped in imposture I am. But he does. He is looking at me like no one has ever looked at me.
He takes a step toward me, a step infinitely more cautious than his words. He sees it too. Both of us are separated from the flow of time and see as one - the choices, the fortunes, judgments, logic, illogic, - the ifs', ands', alsos', but most of all, the silences.
The recognition, surprisingly, does not elicit tears from either of us. Possibly, we've seen too much. Seen it all along. His eyes are relived to find mine.
"I'm sorry Buffy. But you've hurt me," he murmurs.
Oh how I have. More than I can ever forgive myself for.
He sighs. "I'm glad you're here now, but I'm tired of this."
"What are we?" I ask gently.
The stillness of perfect attention.
"What do you think?" His voice washes over me.
He's right. I'm lost. I don't know what's happening to me. I don't know who I am anymore.
But he does.
"Teach me" I say.
In bits and pieces my scattered mind and body begin to become one again.
In his embrace, I start to find the answers I came seeking.