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green card - part 4a

Chapter 7a (all of chapter 7 is too big to post at once)

For disclaimers see part on

Chapter 7a - Interview with the INS - Giles

Helen sat down, placed her briefcase on the table and opened it, removing a folder and a pad of paper. She looked at Giles as he sat across from her. "Dr. Giles"

"Please, just Giles" he interrupted her again. "Truly, I am most comfortable with Giles." He smiled at her. "And it just occurred to me that I don’t know your name."

"I do apologize, it's just that we are accustomed to dealing with people in a formal manner. It helps to maintain a professional distance in case of unpleasantness. My name is Helen Cavanaugh, and I have worked for the Los Angeles branch of the INS for the past 15 years."

"Well, I won't say that it is a pleasure to meet you, because of the circumstances, but I do hope our dealings won't end with any unpleasantness."

Helen glanced down, took a deep breath and came to a decision. "Giles, before we begin, I want to tell you something, and I am not telling you this to make you feel bad, but I do think you should know." She looked in his eyes. "It is within the power of the investigator, if circumstances warrant, to offer people non-sponsor-related green cards. This is not common knowledge, and it doesn't happen very often because the requirements are quite stringent. I have studied your file, and ran some background checks. You are not taking a job away from an American citizen. You have not been in trouble with the police. Due to your personal wealth, you would cause no drain on the social service system of this country. Before I found out about your marriage, I was going to offer you a non-sponsor-related green card, but that marriage gives me no choice. I have to investigate this as an attempt to keep you in the country by false pretenses. If I determine that this is not a valid marriage you will be deported, at the very least. I'm sorry."

Giles looked away, his face grim. "Bloody hell." He glanced towards the apartment window and saw Buffy looking out. She looked distressed and he knew it was because of his expression. He smiled at her reassuringly. She gave a little nod, smiled back, and moved away from the window.

"There are two parts to this interview. First I will ask a series of questions. I need you to give me an answer with as little thought as possible, rather in the manner of a word association. I will need two answers, one for you, and one for Buffy. For example I could ask what is your fathers' name, and I want you to tell me the names of your father and Buffy's father. Is that clear?

Giles had been expecting this part of the interview. A list of the most commonly asked questions had been among the information that Willow had given them last night. He nodded.

"The second part of the interview will be you telling me about your life here in Sunnydale, how you met Buffy and what led to your marriage. When we have finished, I will ask Buffy the same questions and get her side of the story. Depending on how long all of this takes, I may interview the others today, if they are willing. Are you ready to start?"

Giles nodded again.

"First question. When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?"

Giles smiled. "I wanted to be a fighter pilot. Buffy wanted to be an Olympic ice skater."

"What was your childhood nickname?"

Without thinking Giles said, "RB was my childhood nickname and Buffy didn't have one." After he finished speaking he realized that wasn't one of the questions they had studied. Buffy wouldn't know the answer to that one. Oh, well, it was just one of the questions.

"What brand of after-shave do you use and what brand of body lotion does Buffy use?"

Now Giles was worried. That question hadn't been on the list either. "Since coming to America I have used Old Spice. I can't buy my favorite brand here; it's just sold in England. I don't know the brand name of her body lotion, just that it has a tropical scent, primarily coconut." He grinned. "When it mixes with her natural body scent I find it quite arousing."

Helen blushed, but hoped it could be attributed to the sun. She kept her eyes firmly on the paper in front of her. "What brand of toothpaste do you use?"

"We both use Crest." At least he hoped so. He couldn't remember seeing another brand on the bathroom sink this morning.

"What brand of breakfast cereal do you eat?"

"I eat Weetabix. It's an English cereal that I buy through a mail order service. Buffy doesn't eat cereal. She seldom eats breakfast at all, and when she does it's usually just tea and toast." Again, that hadn't been on the list they had studied, but he felt confident of his answers. This would be all right.

"What type of tea do you drink?"

"Do you mean commercial brand or flavor?"

"Flavor."

"I prefer Darjeeling. Buffy prefers Orange Spice."

"What was your favorite toy?"

"I had a toy sword that I called Sting, after Bilbo's sword in the book The Hobbit. Buffy has a stuffed pig she named Mr. Gordo."

"What is your favorite book?"

"My favorite book is Frankenstein. Buffy's favorite is Pride and Prejudice." Lord, I hope so, he thought. That was the only book he could ever remember her talking about.

"What is your favorite food?"

"My favorite is peas, Buffy's is ice cream."

"What is your favorite television show?"

It was Giles' turn to blush. "I have become quite attached to a daytime program. Its called Passions. Buffy's favorite is X-Files." Again, it was the only one he could remember her talking about. This was not looking good; she wasn't asking a single question that had been on Willow's list.

"What type of underwear do you wear?"

"I beg your pardon?" Giles asked, astonished.

"It is a legitimate question. A married couple should know the type of underwear their partner wears. Now, boxers or briefs?"

Giles face became even redder. "Buffy wears bikini underwear and I," he hesitated then managed to finish, "I, I, I believe it's called going commando." He looked away.

Helen couldn't help the visual that popped into her head. She blushed as well. "Sorry. It was one of the questions I've been told to ask. There aren’t many more. What is your favorite movie?"

Giles took a drink of water to ease his throat. "Mine is Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Buffy's is Thelma and Louise."

"Who is you favorite singer or group?"

"Mine is Eric Clapton and Buffy's used to be a local group called the Dingoes, but they left town a few months ago. I haven't heard her mention a preference since they left."

"What's your favorite color?"

"Mine is gray and Buffy's is blue."

"Who was the first person you fell in love with?"

Giles panicked for a moment. There was no way Buffy could know that question, but there was a name that she might remember and say, so he would go with that. "My first was a girl named Deirdre, and Buffy's was a boy called Angel."

"Angel?"

"That's what he said his name was." Giles gave a shrug. "Parents do make strange choices, after all her name is Buffy."

"I thought that was a nickname."

"No, her name really is Buffy."

"Who was your last lover?"

Giles looked affronted. "These are bloody personal questions."

"That is the point. You should know these things about the person you marry."

"Very well, mine was Olivia, and Buffy's was Angel."

"What is the thing you love most about the person you married?"

"Her courage. Buffy has had to endure things you can't possibly imagine."

Helen looked up sharply when Giles said this, and caught her breath at the pain in his eyes. "What?" she began but he stopped her.

"It's not my place to tell you, if you want to know, ask Buffy. It's up to her if she wants you to know. As for what she loves most about me, I think it's my mind."

Helen looked at him for a long moment, then back down at her papers. "Who taught you to drive?"

Giles frowned. Really, these questions were very strange. How many people know who taught their spouse how to drive? "My father taught me, and Buffy took lessons at school."

"What is your favorite piece of jewelry?"

"For me, my wedding band" Giles said with a smile. "For Buffy, an antique cross that Angel gave her."

Helen looked up, curious. "It doesn't bother you that her favorite piece of jewelry was given to her by another man?"

"No. He will always have a place in her heart, but Angel is her past."

Helen shook her head. Not many men would be so calm about that subject. She smiled. "Last question, and this one has no right or wrong answer. It's purely subjective. If you were animals, what kind of animal do you see Buffy as, and what animal does you think she sees you as?"

"To me, Buffy is a lioness. Strong and graceful, a being of power and beauty. To Buffy, I'm a rabbit."

Helen laughed. "What makes you think she would see you as a rabbit?"

Giles blushed. "Last night she called me a cuddle bunny."

Helen had this mental image of Giles in a giant gray bunny suit with floppy ears, and started laughing so hard she almost fell off the chair. Giles joined in. Several minutes later, clutching at her aching sides, Helen managed to stop laughing. "Okay, that concludes the first part of the interview. Now, on to your life here in Sunnydale and all about how you met Buffy."

"If you don't mind my asking, and this is just for my personal curiosity not part of the official interview, why the job as the school librarian? You had the grant from RCOW Ltd, as well as your personal wealth. You didn't need to work, and in fact that is what has caused all the problems. All you would have needed was a visa that you would re-new annually."

Giles grimaced slightly. "The research grant was not the one I had been hoping to get, but I accepted it to establish myself with the company. Most of the materials I needed to use for the research had been in a private collection. Upon the owner's death he had willed half of the collection to the high school library and half to the university library. The only way I could have access to the materials in the high school was to hold a position there. It seemed fortuitous that the job of librarian was open. RCOW Ltd. arraigned for me to get the position and I arrived in Sunnydale two weeks before the school year began."

There was a pause. Helen spoke. "Thank you for telling me. As I said, I was curious. Very well, that's how you came to be in Sunnydale as the school librarian. When and how did you met Buffy, and when did you know you loved her?"

Giles sat for a few minutes; his eyes unfocused at he stared into the past. He drew a deep breath, blinked a few times, and began.

"I had worried about whether or not I would have time to do my research. In my experience, libraries were busy places, but not at Sunnydale high school. Most of the students seemed to feel that they were being punished if they had to come to the library. I spent many of my days in complete solitude."

"About two weeks into the school year a young girl began to come to the library on her study period. She was very shy and blushed whenever she spoke to me, but I discovered she had a sharp mind and was eager to learn. That was how I met Willow. It was a couple of weeks later that Xander started joining her, even though he wasn't interested in studying. They would come in, greet me, then sit down and quietly talk. They never bothered me while I was researching, but if I didn't appear to be reading, Willow would try to draw me into conversations."

"One morning about two months into the school year, the principal came into the teachers lounge and announced that the school was getting a transfer student that day. I didn't pay too much attention because I didn't feel that it would make any difference in my life." Giles shook his head, smiling. "I couldn't have been more wrong. Shortly after school started the doors to the library were flung open and this young girl in a ridiculously short skirt strode into the library as though it were her personal property."

"Her first words to me were that she was there for her reading list. I was stunned. I had been given the lists at the beginning of the year, but no students had asked about them. I just stood staring at her, speechless. She waved her hand in front of my face and asked me if I was real or a statue, and what was it with the tweed? I was so flustered that I blushed and stammered, making a complete prat of myself. I told her that I was Mr. Giles the librarian and that I would fetch her the list."

"When I walked back out of the office she was looking at me in a way that I must admit made me blush again. She giggled and said something to the effect that even in the tweed I was cute in a Hugh Grant-ish kind of way and that she was going to call me Giles because the 'Mr.' was too stuffy. My life changed at that moment, and continues to change everyday that I am privileged to know her."

"So, it was love at first sight?"

"Oh, dear lord, no. In the beginning I thought Buffy was frustrating, irritating, and stubborn beyond my understanding. She also had a warm and generous heart. She shunned the so-called popular crowd and became friends with two of the schools biggest outcasts, Willow and Xander. She took pity on a stodgy old man far from home and included him in her new group. We became a family."

"You thought of her as a daughter?"

"In the beginning, yes. I thought of all of them as my children." Giles looked away for a moment then returned his gaze to her.

"Willow's parents were neglectful. Never once did they question her association with an older man, or the odd hours she spent in his company. They never once asked where she was going when she would stay out late at a movie or the local teen hangout with Buffy and Xander. They were not abusive; they just didn’t care. Our little family gave her the concern and stability she didn’t receive at home."

"Xander's parents, on the other hand, were abusive. His father drank and hit both his wife and Xander. Xander's mother would then take her anger out on him. By joining our little group, he gained unconditional love and acceptance. I also gave him a refuge when things at home became too much."

"Buffy was brought to Sunnydale because of her parent's divorce. I believe she pulled us together because she saw something of her own pain and loneliness in the rest of us. Willow became the sister she had wanted to share things with, Xander the brother she could tease, and I the father who did not leave. Her situation was different in that after Joyce came to terms with her own pain and confusion, she took notice of Buffy's absences."

"Joyce being Buffy's mother?"

"Yes, I'm sorry I didn’t make that clear. I'm afraid that Joyce and I started off on the wrong foot. I met her for the first time when she came storming into the library looking for Buffy. It was almost 9 o'clock at night and I'm sure she was expecting to find us in some kind of compromising situation. Instead she was stunned to find me tutoring Buffy and Willow for their SAT's. I could tell that most of her anger was directed at herself. She was afraid that her recent self-absorption had placed Buffy in danger, and because she was afraid she lashed out. She forbid Buffy to see me outside of regular school hours."

"How did Buffy react to that?"

"Buffy and her mother are very much alike; headstrong and determined to have their own way. I heard the two of them arguing as they left the library that night, and Buffy was still angry the next day. She was going on and on about how her mother kept driving men out of her life and that she wasn't gong to let Joyce keep her from seeing me. Willow calmed her down and explained that since I wasn't an American citizen, if Buffy continued to defy her mother it could cause me problems."

"I can understand her mother's concerns. Why were you still at the school library so late at night?"

"I've spent most of my adult life doing research in one form or other, and that is a very solitary life, but it was always my choice. When I moved to Sunnydale that choice was taken from me. I was a stranger, isolated and alone. Buffy felt the same way. After her parent's divorce she was taken from the only home she had known and lost all her friends. Joyce was so concerned with getting her business up and running that it was usually after 10 o'clock before she came home. Buffy didn't want to be in the house alone, I didn't want to be in my flat alone. The library was neutral territory."

"A few weeks after the incident, Buffy started dating Angel and I began seeing Jenny, the computer instructor at the school. When Joyce became aware of this, she relented and allowed me to resume tutoring Buffy for her SAT's, with the understanding that all studying was to be done at the school and to go no later than 7 o'clock. Later on she relaxed even more and permitted Buffy to study at my flat as long as others were present. "

"Slowly, Buffy began to come to me with personal problems. Venting over something Joyce had said or done. Asking advice about her relationship with Angel. She would come to my flat and cry whenever her father broke a promise to her. I would offer her tea and a non-judgmental ear." Giles blushed slightly.

"She told me when she lost her virginity on her 17th birthday. I remember the fear in her eyes when she asked me if I was disappointed in her for not waiting. I felt a small twinge of pain, but told myself that it was just the normal feelings any father would have in the same situation. I gave her a hug and told her she would always have my respect." Giles gave her a small smile.

"It was a few months later when both our worlds fell apart. Unknown to Buffy, when Angel lived in Los Angeles he had been involved with a gang. He had moved to Sunnydale in an attempt to get away from them and for a time it worked, but they found him. To punish him for breaking away from the gang, they began to systematically terrorize anyone he was involved with."

"Buffy?"

Giles nodded. "Buffy, and by extension, anyone close to her. They knew we spent most of our time at the school and they came there one night. It just so happened that we weren't there, but Jenny was. She had stayed late to prepare for class the next day. We have no way of knowing what was said when they found her alone, but she was clearly in fear of her life. Jenny struggled with her attackers." Giles swallowed hard and looked away. "Her neck was broken. As a warning to the rest of us they took her body to my flat and put it in my bed."

"Oh, my God! How awful for you."

Giles just nodded and sat for a few moments in silence. Drawing a deep breath, he continued. "The next attack was more precise, although they still missed catching Angel or Buffy. Willow, Xander, and myself were injured. Kendra, an exchange student who happened to stay late to work on a term paper, was killed. Thankfully, Xander managed to get Willow out of there before either of them was hurt too badly. The gang took its frustration out on me and I was beaten rather severely. Several ribs were broken as well as all the fingers in my left hand."

"The doctor told me that due to nerve damage I would lose the use of my hand." Giles flexed his fingers for Helen to see. "I can't make a completely tight fist, and it aches in cold weather, but as you can see, the doctor was wrong." He lay his hand back on the table.

"Earlier that evening Buffy and Joyce had argued and Joyce demanded that Buffy stay home. When Buffy started out the door, Joyce lost her temper and said something she didn't mean. She told Buffy that if she left, to not come back."

"Oh, no."

"Any other time it would have blown over. Buffy would have stayed with Willow a couple of days, then she would have gone home. But when Buffy came to the library to talk to me, she found Kendra dead and the library ransacked. She discovered that the rest of us were in hospital and she blamed herself. Everything was too much and she felt as though she had no one to turn too, so she went to the bus station and took the first bus out of town."

Helen looked at him with sudden understanding. "That's why you took all those trips that summer. You were looking for Buffy."

"You know about my trips?"

"I told you, I ran background checks. You caught the attention of the DEA for a while that summer. They didn't know why you were taking so many unexpected trips, but after they determined drugs weren't involved, they stopped tracking you."

Giles looked surprised. "Good lord. I never considered that anyone would wonder about my travels." He shook his head. "Joyce was frantic when Buffy didn't come home after a couple of days. When she got in touch with Willow she found out about the attack and was even more distressed. Joyce was receiving no support from her ex-husband and she couldn't afford to close the gallery to look for Buffy, so I said that I would look for her. She hired a private investigator and every time he called with a lead, I would go to check it out. After Buffy came home, we decided that the investigator had just been stringing Joyce along for the money, because Buffy was in Los Angeles the entire time, and that was the one city the man never claimed to have had sightings of her."

"Giles, now that you brought up your injuries, during my background check I found that you took a number of trips to the emergency room, trips that ended when the school blew up. What was that about?"

Giles ducked his head and paused. He glanced back up and said, "I was giving the children self-defense lessons and I let them use me as a practice dummy. We used the library because it was the only place any of us had access to that had sufficient space. I had given them all the coaching I was capable of just shortly before graduation, so there was no need to find another training space after the school was destroyed."

"I didn't see any mention of self-defense training in the information I found about you."

"I haven't had formal training myself, just a misspent youth. While I was at Oxford I rebelled and dropped out. I lived a rather rough existence on the streets of London for a couple of years before I came to my senses and returned to Oxford. Some of the techniques I showed them could best be described as street fighting and I didn't want them practicing on each other."

Helen looked across the table at the man who was so much more than the sum of the information in his file. There he sat, the image of the perfect gentleman, yet he had just confessed to having been a street punk. What was the English phrase, a 'teddy boy'? Hard to believe, and yet, there was the feeling she had gotten from his picture. He truly could be a dangerous man.

"Was it when Buffy was gone that you decided you loved her?"

Giles frowned slightly at the phrasing of the question. "I was deeply worried, and on some level I suppose you would call it love, but 'in love' with her no, not then. At least, I don't think so. That certainly wasn't when I admitted it to myself."

"When was that?"

There was another flash of pain in his eyes. "Her 18th birthday."

"What happened?"

"She was attacked, almost killed."

Helen waited in silence for him to continue. Instead, he rose from the chair and began pacing around the patio. He stopped and stood staring across the parking lot, lost in thought. Long moments later he returned to his seat and resumed.

"Buffy's birthday is January 22nd. On New Year's day I received a call from Quentin Travers, the man at the Council who had given me this assignment. He told me they were sending a young man to work with me, to study my methods of research. I was to be his mentor for 6 months. When I protested, I was told that I had no choice, that there was a clause in my contract that gave them the right to do this. A few days later he arrived."

"His name was Zachary Kralic, and I was uneasy about him as soon as I met him. I don't know if you've ever had that experience when first meeting someone. That feeling that the person isn't what he was supposed to be?" Giles looked at Helen inquiringly. She nodded. "I tried to tell myself that it was just resentment due to the fact that I had been forced to accept him, but something definitely felt wrong."

"He was too eager to please, always smiling and agreeing with anything I said. It was like having a physical shadow, every time I turned around, there he was. The only time I could escape from him was when I came here to my flat, and after the first week he started following me home as well. He was driving me crazy. I didn’t know how I was going to handle having him around for six months."

"He had been here a couple of weeks when Willow came into my office at the library. She was upset, and it took me a few minutes to get her to tell me what was wrong. She said that Zachary had been watching her whenever she came into the library, that he had been giving her the wiggins."

"Wiggins?"

"Yes, it’s a term that Willow and Buffy use to mean feeling uncomfortable. Willow then told me that he had followed her into the stacks. She said that the look in his eyes had frightened her, that he had reached out like he was going to touch her, when Buffy had appeared at the end of the aisle and he had pulled away. I thanked her for telling me and promised that Zachary wouldn’t bother her again."

"When I approached Zachary with what Willow had told me, he flatly denied that it had happened. He suggested that Willow was trying to get attention by laying false accusations against him. I informed him that I had known Willow for three years, that she was an honest girl and that I believed her. I told him that to make sure nothing like this happened again, I was confining him to the library office. He could do the research that needed to be done there. His face twisted with rage and his eyes blazed with anger, then he seemed to gain control of himself and he smiled and agreed to what I said. I knew then that something was wrong and I called Quentin Travers."

"When I pressed him for information on Zachary he refused to tell me anything. When I told him what had happened with Willow, he blustered a bit, then tried to make that same claim that Zachary had, that Willow was making it up. I cut him off, and told him that I wanted Zachary recalled. Travers refused. I then told him that if any of the other girls made similar complaints against Zachary I would call the police."

"Travers became frantic. He said that under no circumstance were the police to be involved. He said it would take a few days, but that he would send some men to inform Zachary that he was going back to London, and to help him pack. He told me I was to say nothing, that the men would call me when they arrived in Sunnydale."

"Didn’t that seem odd? Why not just call Zachary himself and tell him to go back?"

"After I had time to think, yes it seemed strange. At the time of the call I was still angry about how they had tried to blame Willow for the incident. The next few days were quiet, Zachary staying in the office when at the school. On the 21st, the day before Buffy’s birthday, I was called into the principals’ office for some stupid meeting. When I came back to the library, I found Zachary on the floor with Buffy and Xander standing over him."

"Buffy said that after I left the library Zachary had walked up behind her and grabbed her. When she had told him to let her go, he had just laughed and said that he knew that she was just playing hard to get, that she wanted him. Buffy used some of the fighting techniques that I taught her and got away from him. He began chasing her around the library. Xander came in, distracting Zachary enough that Buffy was able to knock him out. I immediately called the police."

"After the police took him away, I called Travers. He began yelling at me, reminding me that he had ordered me to not involve the police. I told him that I didn’t give a bloody damn for his orders. Travers said that his two men would be in Sunnydale that afternoon; that they would handle situation with Zachary and that I was to keep out of it. I took Buffy home and waited until Joyce arrived to explain what had happened."

"The next morning at school I received a telephone call. He identified himself as one of the men that Travers had sent to take Zachary back to London. He asked me to come to his motel room. When I got there I found that he had been badly beaten and that the other man was dead. He said they had bailed Zachary out of jail that morning and he had gone berserk, attacking them. He asked for my help in capturing Zachary."

"I immediately thought about Buffy and called the school to tell her to leave the library and go to a classroom where she would have protection. Willow answered the phone, in tears. Zachary had already called saying that he had Joyce and that he would kill her if Buffy didn’t come alone and surrender herself to him. Buffy had begged the others to not call the police and she went. Willow said she had written the address down and left it for me. I told Willow to call the police as soon as we hung up and left to go after Buffy."

"When I broke into the house I saw Joyce bound and gagged in a chair, and Buffy on the floor. She had apparently been able to fight him off for a while, because they were both scratched and bleeding. Zachary was kneeling over her ripping at her clothing. I pulled him off her and started hitting him." For the first time since beginning the story, Giles looked at Helen. "I was so angry that I lost control. I was going to kill him."

"What stopped you?"

"Buffy. There she was, bruised, bleeding, clothing torn, crying and shaking and she was begging me to not kill Zachary. It wasn’t worth my going to jail for killing him, she said. I untied Joyce and used the rope to bind Zachary. I heard a car pull up and was relieved that the police had gotten there before Zachary had regained consciousness, but my relief turned to anger when the door opened and Travers came in instead."

"Two men followed him and they picked Zachary up and took him out of the room. Travers just stood there, the smug bastard. He told me that getting the police to ignore Willow’s call and to purge Zachary’s arrest record had cost the Council a great deal of money. He said that my father’s love for the child, meaning Buffy, had blinded me to my obligation to my employer. Since I had ignored his direct order to not involve the police, I had broken my contract and he was firing me. I told him I didn’t give a damn about his bloody job and that he could go to Hell."

"The police ignored murder?" Helen was incredulous. "I find that hard to believe."

"The police in Sunnydale have a history of corruption, and to be honest, I don’t think they knew that Zachary had killed anyone. Travers’ men were loyal to him, and I’m sure none of them said anything to the police. I saw no purpose to pursue the matter since it would have been my word against theirs, and Travers had the bank account of the Council to draw from for more bribes."

"I did find out why Travers was so insistent on silence. It seems that Zachary Kralic wasn’t his real name. He was the son of a very high government official who was up for re-election and the Council was trying to curry favor by taking care of his problem. Zachary had a history of obsessive behavior towards young women. Apparently they thought they could control any incidents better if he was out of England. Bloody pillocks."

"And this incident was what made you realize that you were in love with Buffy?"

"Yes, when Travers said that nonsense about my father’s love for her I suddenly realized that I no longer thought of Buffy as a daughter. I also knew that I could never say anything. I was sure that she thought of me as a substitute father and would be disgusted by my feelings. I didn’t think that it would matter, because I thought I would be leaving the country."

"Did Travers come right out and say that he was going to have your green card revoked?"

"No, but I assumed he would. I decided not to push matters and to wait until I was officially informed. A week went by, then another, then a month and no call or letter arrived. I then assumed that he had either changed his mind, or that perhaps a superior had overruled the decision. I wasn’t receiving a paycheck from them, but as you know, I didn’t need it. I was happy to stay here as the school librarian, doing my research and being near Buffy and the others."

"When the school blew up I again expected to hear from your office, and again nothing. In fact, two weeks after the explosion I received my annual visa renewal in the mail. I filled it out, mailed it back, and received notification that my visa had indeed been renewed. So, as you can imagine, it was quite a shock to receive your letter last week."

"Yes, I can imagine." Helen shook her head. "Now I understand why Mr. Travers was so angry when I spoke with him this morning."

Giles looked startled. "You talked to Travers this morning?"

"Yes, I spoke with him last week also, and from his responses then you would have thought that he could barely remember who you were much less care if you were deported or not. Then this morning he called me and he was so angry he was almost incoherent. He demanded that I call him personally, any time day or night, and let him know when your deportation date was set." Helen gave Giles a considering look. "I knew there had to be something personal behind your firing. The kind of anger he was exhibiting this morning had nothing to do with a simple breach of contract. He must have remembered the details and was afraid that you would say something."

Giles shrugged. "With no police records of any of the events, it's still my word against his and I am an employee who was fired from the company. I don't see why he would be worried." Giles winced inwardly, knowing the real reason Travers was so angry.

"From what you said about him, and from my conversations with him, I would say that Quentin Travers is a man who values image above all else. You are in a position to damage his image. It doesn't matter that we will never meet, just the thought that I would know something detrimental to his image is distressing."

"You could be right." Giles smiled. Perhaps Helen's thinking that Travers' animosity was a personal vendetta would work in his favor.

"Let's get back to the subject at hand. You finished out the school year, and the school exploded during graduation. How did that happen?"

"The only explanation that I heard was a faulty gas line. Personally, I think it was sabotage of some kind. The principal was a man named Snyder, and he made a lot of enemies. The podium where he was standing was totally destroyed. No trace of him was ever found."

Helen stared at him, speechless. She finally shook her head and looked back through her notes. She found what she was looking for, hesitated and then said, "I'm a little confused. You said you were dating a lady named Jenny, who was killed, and a year later you realized you were in love with Buffy."

Giles nodded. "That's correct."

"You mentioned your last lover was named Olivia. How does she come into the picture? Was it before you moved to Sunnydale?"

"Olivia," Giles sighed. He took off his glasses and polished them, stalling for time while he thought. He rubbed his eyes and replaced the glasses. He sighed again, then began.

"Towards the end of my rebellion, a month or so before I went back to Oxford, I met this young girl. She had just come to London to pursue a career in modeling. At some function or other she hooked up with this bloke who was serious bad news. He brought her to a party I was attending. I had already started to pull away from that life, and I don't know why I went that night. Later, Liv said it was her guardian angel making sure someone would be there to help her."

"I overheard the man who brought her telling another man about how he was going to put drugs in her drink. He was then going to take her into the bedroom for a private 'party'. He told the other guy he was welcome to join them." Giles met Helen's eyes. "In England, 16 is the age of consent for sex. It is also the legal age for drinking. Olivia was just past her 16th birthday and on her own, but I could tell from the way she was acting that she was still innocent in many ways. I couldn't stand by and let this happen to her. I took her aside and told her what I had overheard."

"She became frightened and upset. She wanted to leave, but he had brought her and she didn't have a way home. I called her a cab and went out with her to wait for it. We talked a bit, the cab came, and she left. I expected that to be the end of the matter. A couple of weeks later, I got a call from her agent, a man named Harry Trumble. That other jerk had shown up at one of Olivia's photo shoots and caused a scene. Liv ending up telling everyone about what had almost happened at the party. Harry wanted to meet with me to personally thank me for protecting her."

"We hit it off pretty well, and for the next couple of years I would get regular letters from Harry along with the occasional card from Liv. I read in the papers that she got married, and sent along my congratulations. One day about six months later the doorbell rang and to my surprise Olivia was there. She had caught her husband with another model and wanted a shoulder to cry on. One thing led to another and we ended up in bed. She stayed with me for a couple of days, then left to divorce her husband."

"This set the stage for our relationship. Liv would fall in love and either get married or have a passionate love affair with that person. It would fall apart and she would come to me for comfort sex. I know it sounds callous, but really, that's all it was. It was enjoyable, but neither of us ever considered that there would be anything permanent between us."

Helen looked at Giles in shock. A fashion model named Olivia, and he called her Liv. "Liv, the supermodel? That Liv?"

Giles smiled ruefully. "Yes, that Liv. Hard to believe, isn't it."

Helen murmured, "No, not really." She sub-consciously ran her eyes over him. Giles quirked an eyebrow at her and she blushed, blinked and looked away.

Giles grinned and continued. "Flash forward to Sunnydale last spring. I was forced to be one of the chaperons at the Prom. Buffy looked so beautiful that night, so mature. I had to fight myself all night to keep from going over and asking her to dance. I especially wanted to go to her because her date, Angel, had stood her up. I didn't dare, there was still two weeks of school left and if Principal Snyder saw us together he would cause trouble. Then I thought that my chance had arrived. The band announced that the next dance would be the last, and I saw Snyder leaving. I crossed the room and just as I started to ask her, Angel showed up. I watched them dance."

Giles gave another little shrug. "It hurt to watch them together, especially since I felt that he was wrong for her. Not that I ever expected her to love me," he hastened to add, "but because of what had happened due to his gang involvement. Then I noticed that they had stopped dancing and he was saying something to her. He leaned down and kissed her on the cheek, then walked away, leaving her alone on the dance floor. The music ended and I went to her."

"She was standing so still, with the track of a single tear running down her cheek. I don’t remember what I said, I was just babbling, trying to get that stunned look off her face. When I finally ran out of things to say, she told me that Angel said he was leaving Sunnydale. He was going to work at a youth shelter in Los Angeles, to help keep kids out of gangs. He told her that he loved her, would always love her, but that she was better off without him. No matter how much I agreed with him, I was still furious. Prom night is one of the most important events of a teenage girl's life, and he spoiled it for her. I had heard her and Willow talking on other occasions about ice cream being the cure for a broken heart, so I offered to take her out for ice cream. She finally smiled, but declined and asked me to drive her home."

"During the two weeks that remained of school Buffy didn't come into the library as often, and she seemed uneasy around me. I was afraid that perhaps I had let my feelings show and she was afraid of a repeat of what had happened with Zachary. My fears appeared to be confirmed by the fact that after school ended, Buffy never came to visit me."

"I had grown accustomed to the three of them being around and when that stopped, I became depressed. Oh, Willow would stop by for a few minutes once a week and Xander every couple of weeks, but Buffy never came at all. Finally the fall semester began at the college and I found myself looking for Buffy whenever I went to the library on campus, but I never saw her. One night while I was sitting in the stillness of my flat, I decided that I had enough material for the book and that I would return to England."

"No sooner had I decided that than the phone rang. It was Liv. She was in Los Angeles and had just finished a shoot. She wanted to know if she could come see me. I agreed and two hours later she was here. I'm embarrassed to admit that while I was waiting for her, I got a little drunk. Not a lot, just enough to lower my guard. When she told me her latest love disaster, I countered by confessing my feelings for Buffy. As usual, we ended the evening in bed. The next morning, there was a knock on the door."

Helen interrupted. "Let me guess, Buffy?"

"Buffy. Since I hadn't been expecting anyone and I thought I would just be getting rid of a salesman, I only put on my robe. When I saw Buffy I was stunned, but from the look on her face, so was she. I'm afraid I was rather abrupt with her. I just wanted her to leave before she saw Olivia, but that was taken out of my hands. Liv came down from the loft wearing one of my shirts, walked over to me, put her arms around me and asked when I was coming back to bed."

Helen tried to stifle a grin. "Oh, dear."

"Indeed. I felt like a man whose wife had caught him with another woman. Buffy paled, and I thought for a moment she was going to faint, then her face flushed and she demanded to know what was going on. That made me angry and I replied rather sharply that my private life was none of her business. We then proceeded to say a number of things we didn't mean, ending with Buffy saying that I was old and the thought of my having sex was very gross."

"Knowing how you feel, that had to have hurt." Helen said sympathetically.

"Not really. Yes, it hurt to have her confirm my suspicions that she thought of me as a father figure. But as for the rest, it was just the false superiority of youth talking. I was just as arrogant at that age, and just as disgusted at the thought of my parents having sex. In any event, she ran off and I asked Liv what the bloody hell she thought she was doing. She replied that she had been trying to make Buffy jealous. We then had a big argument and Liv left. She called me the next day and apologized. She told me she had an offer of a two-month photo shoot in various locations around the Pacific Rim and asked if she could call me when she got back. I agreed."

"I tried calling Buffy, but got either Willow or the answering machine. She refused to speak to me. The weeks went by and I did more research on my book. Willow told me that Buffy had started dating a young man from one of their classes. So when Liv called to let me know she was back in the country, I asked if she could keep the next month free to help me move back to England and she agreed. Then something happened."

Giles paused to take a drink of water. "I'm sure you heard on the news about the unexplained incident when the entire town couldn't speak?"

"Yes, I remember. There were quite a few rumors about what had happened; the one that was favored the most was covert government experiments."

"That happened the morning after Liv arrived. We had both just woke up and were wondering if it was some strange kind of laryngitis that she had caught in the Orient and passed on to me. Then there was a knock on the door. It was Buffy and Willow. They couldn't speak either. Buffy rushed into my arms and I could feel her trembling. Then she saw Liv and drew away. Xander and his girlfriend came to the door then and the six of us spent the next few days together, just giving each other moral support. Then one morning we woke up and we could talk again. The others went back to their lives and I had a talk with Liv."

Giles paused for a long moment. "I told her that she no doubt thought me to be a foolish old man, but I couldn't leave Buffy after all. She told me that the only foolish thing I was doing was not telling Buffy how I felt. Liv said that from the way Buffy had been watching the two of us, she wasn't as uninterested as I assumed." Giles gave a brief smile. "It gave me hope, but I couldn't risk telling Buffy and losing what little I had if Liv was wrong. So we continued along as we were until I received your letter last week."

"When she read the letter, Buffy fainted. After she came to, she clung to me, crying, saying over and over how she couldn't lose me. Willow got on the Internet to see if there was some loophole that would allow me to stay. When she told Buffy that the only thing she could find was if I married an American citizen, Buffy insisted that we fly to Las Vegas and get married. I tried to talk her out of it, tried to tell her it would be better to wait until after the interview today, but she almost became hysterical. I had only seen her so upset twice before; when Jenny was killed and when she was attacked. I just couldn't bear to see her cry."

He paused again, and then a look of wonder came over his face as he continued. "She told me she loved me, had realized she loved me the night of the Prom. That was why she had been avoiding me, she was embarrassed because she thought that I thought of her as a daughter. She had planned to stay away a while, to give me the chance to see her as a woman, not a teenager. Then came the whole debacle with Olivia. And the rest you know."

Helen took a deep breath, and looked down at her watch. They had only been on the patio for a little over an hour. It had seemed much longer. What an amazing story. He really loved that girl, you could see it in his eyes, hear it in his voice. She liked this man, and for his sake, she hoped that Buffy told a similar enough story that she could give her approval.

"Then that would appear to end your interview. Would you please send Buffy out?" Helen gave him a stern look. "I'm trusting you to not say anything to her, just send her to me."

Giles nodded. "Of course." He rose and entered the apartment.

Through the window Helen could see Buffy rush to him. He put a hand over her mouth to halt her speech. He spoke one short sentence, then pulled her to him for a quick kiss. Buffy nodded, walked out the door, crossed the patio and sat down opposite Helen. Her face was set in a tense smile and Helen could see fear in her eyes. "Hit me with your best shot."

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