Spoilers: Small ones for the entire series and the end of Angel, as well.
Summary: Giles keeps finding himself obligated to go to California. It’s rarely easy.
Rating: FRT for angst and multiple canon character death, mostly.
Pairing: B/G eventually
Category: challengefic, drabbles
Distribution: If you've had my permission in the past, you have it now. All others, ask and ye shall receive.
Feedback: Constructive criticism always welcome. Praise abjectly sought.
Disclaimer: It all belongs to Joss, Mutant Enemy, etc., etc., etc. I just let them have all the fun Joss won't. I own nothing except my twisted mind which you really don't want. Please don't sue.
Notes: This one comes to you courtesy of Pythia’s challenge at the fiberfic LJ comm. for a series of interrelated drabbles based on the names of quilt square patterns. Somehow, this one seemed to appropriate to ignore.
Road To California I:
Merrick was dead. A new, untried Slayer was left alone with nothing but her grief and guilt and fear to guide her. As Rupert Giles packed his bags, he wondered what she would be like, whether she would be alive in six months under his tutelage. Thirty years of training left him eager to at last begin his life’s work saving the world, one dusty vampire at a time, yet uncertain of his ability to do the job at hand.
The night before he left England, he had a dream of a tiny slip of a girl with blonde hair, wide eyes, and the true heart of a warrior. He’d heard of this phenomenon before, where a Watcher dreamed of his Slayer before he met her face to face. It was usually considered a good omen of a Watcher/Slayer team who worked well together.
As he checked his luggage and prepared to board the plane, he prayed legend would prove to be true.
Road to California II:
Buffy was dead – no, alive again. Giles tried and tried but couldn’t wrap his mind around what had happened. What had Willow done? What must Buffy be feeling? What miracle awaited him in Sunnydale? What nightmare? He pored over every tome he could find that had more than two words to say on the subject of resurrection, but could find nothing to indicate this would be anything other than a hideous travesty.
And yet, he couldn’t lose hope that Buffy – his Buffy – had truly been returned to him. He’d never felt a need to put name to his feelings for her before. All he knew was that she was the most important person in his life and without her the world sat empty before him. He had to believe that all the experts were mistaken. After all, Buffy had a habit of proving them wrong. Couldn’t she do it one more time?
The night before he left England, his sleep was disturbed again and again with nightmare images of what might be waiting for him in California. Surely, though, they couldn’t be true.
As he settled himself in for the transatlantic flight, he told himself he was worrying over nothing. Buffy would be so annoyed if she could know his fears. Once he got to her, everything would be right again. It had to be.
Road to California III:
Tara was dead. Giles’ brain went numb trying to blot out that fact. Sweet, gentle Tara couldn’t be gone. And Willow, well Willow had no soft padding of distance to help her cope, no decades of experience with loss to allow her to see that life could and would go on. She had nothing but her anger, her grief, and her current emotional instability to direct her. Buffy and Xander were no better equipped to deal with this situation. They had lost one of their own pointlessly and now lacked the steel to stop Willow’s desperate rampage.
Giles hated himself for having the ability to face one of his closest friends in this way. Still, it couldn’t be allowed to continue or heaven only knew what mayhem Willow might wreak in her despair and fury. Perhaps there had been one advantage to that decades-old love/hate feud with Ethan, after all.
His sleep had been broken the night before with restless dreams. He’d had them off and on since the enjoining spell so long ago. He’d also felt bits of magic returning to his fingers and seen a slight improvement in some of his technical skills. Yes, there had been long-term effects he couldn’t have predicted at the time. He wondered if part of his darkness had entered the souls of his young friends. Could part of this mess be his responsibility? He might never know the truth, but he would carry the blame in his heart to his grave.
As he prepared himself mentally to accept the magic of an entire coven of witches and to transport himself to Sunnydale in the blink of an eye, he prayed that he would be in time. He prayed that Willow had not hurt Buffy. If she had, it would be both a mercy and a bitter pleasure to end this forever. If she had not, there might yet be hope.
Road to California IV:
The Council was no more. Giles tried and tried to make himself believe it, to understand that he would never face off against Quentin Travers again, never see his good friend Cartwright and argue about which of them had bought the last round of drinks. The organization he’d sworn his life to at age ten – the one his father had lived and died for – didn’t exist anymore.
Cast adrift, there was only one place to go. As much as he didn’t want to go back, there simply was no choice. If this sorry world was to survive, the Slayer would need all the help she could get and he knew himself to be her best resource. The potentials would need a place to gather and protect themselves.
How ironic that the Hellmouth would turn out to be the place these girls would head for safety.
A week, a fortnight, an eternity of nightmares later he gathered up the girls he could and arranged transportation. As he used seven different languages to help the girls find their seats and settle in, he prayed that this would be the last time he’d ever have to see Sunnydale. He was getting too old, too tired, and too frustrated to do it again.
Road to California V:
Wesley was dead. Spike, Angel…all of them, really. Nobody had even bothered to tell them when Cordelia died. Giles supposed it didn’t really matter, but he was saddened all the same. The news had come from a green demon in a loud suit. He seemed broken by whatever had happened to him. Buffy had hardly spoken since she got the news. Giles tried his best to comfort her, but he knew she would need to deal with this in her own time and in her own way. She accepted his small touches passively, but managed a wan smile when he brought her a bowl of chicken and stars.
“I need to be there,” she said.
“I know. I’ve already booked our flight.”
“You’re coming, too?”
“You don’t have to face this alone.”
“They never knew. I never got to tell them.”
“You would have.”
She nodded and leaned against him, twining her fingers with his. He pressed a tiny kiss to her temple and ached in his heart for all she’d lost.
That night he watched over Buffy as she slept restlessly. He knew the sort of dreams she was having. Most of the reason he’d resisted sleep was to avoid having them himself. He reached for her in the night and soothed her as best he could.
As they sat back to prepare for the long flight ahead, Giles squeezed Buffy’s hand, then kissed her fingers softly. She smiled at him. A moment later, she squirmed slightly in her seat.
“What is it, Buffy?”
“Kick. I don’t think our son wants to take this flight any more than we do.”
Giles smiled. He knew that his son would grumble at fate, but do what must be done in the end. It was what he did, what Buffy did. He prayed that one day their child would find a better grace than either of his parents displayed about that.