FEEDBACK: Will be appreciated
SUMMARY: Giles' first day on the job as Buffy's Watcher
DISCLAIMER: The characters mentioned in this story are the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, Sandollar Productions, Kuzui Enterprises, 20th Century Fox Television and the UPN Television Network. The story was written out of the love that the author has for the characters (especially Giles) and for the enjoyment of the readers. No money is being made from its publication on Live Journal.
SPOILERS: 'The Harvest' in a way.
NOTES: This story is a 'what if' scene that takes place between the confrontation that Giles and Buffy have in the school hallway and later that night at the Bronze. It was written as my contribution to the ‘Watchers' Firsts’ ficathon. The words I chose were; Ritual/Spell, Library, Desperation
Giles sat at the desk in his office, his head in his hands. It was worse than he had feared. There must have been a Council flunky somewhere in the town, watching (he snorted at the thought of that word) for the right moment, because the information packet hadn't arrived until after he had met Buffy this morning.
He had been shocked at her refusal of the book, afraid that he had shown it to the wrong girl when she had been so adamant that he was mistaken. Then the courier had brought the package and he had read her background. If Merrick Jamison-Smythe had still been alive, he would have sought him out and thrashed him. Of course, if Merrick were still alive, he wouldn't be in Sunnydale.
How could he have let them institutionalize her? She was the Slayer; his first duty was to her. Merrick had written about how he had visited her and taunted her with the fact that no one would believe her if she insisted on telling people about vampires and that he was her only hope of staying alive. Not even the later journal entries, the ones where Merrick had condemned his own actions, had made Giles feel more charitable towards the man. In the end however, Merrick had shown the true spirit of a Watcher and had given his life to protect his Slayer.
Now Buffy was his Slayer; his to train, to guide, to protect. But how was he going to fulfill his duty when she wouldn't accept her destiny? He had seen the loneliness and pain in her eyes when he had tried to convince her that danger was imminent. And it was. In the short amount of time that he had been in Sunnydale he had seen too many things to believe that this was just run of the mill evil at work. This was something more, something (dare he even think it?) apocalyptic.
The past few days the build up of power had grown so strong that he could almost see it. The air itself felt thick and the surge of magic made his skin crawl. Not to mention the dreams. If he thought for one minute that he could handle it himself, he would. Show her that things would be different with him. That he wouldn't make her fight on her own. But this was beyond him. This was a job for a Slayer.
Giles lowered his arms and sat staring blindly into space, considering and discarding idea after idea. Time passed. A beam of late afternoon sunlight came through the library window and across his desk. A glint of gold shimmered at the edge of his vision. Giles looked down and saw a strand of blond hair on the sleeve of his jacket.
It must have gotten caught on his sleeve in the hallway when he blocked her path with his arm. He picked the hair up, twisting it between two fingers, and the idea slipped into his mind. He dropped the hair as though it was burning him. No! He wouldn't do something like that to her. Besides, he had sworn a vow, after Randall's dearth, to never again perform magic.
But the idea wouldn’t go away. Magic was like that to someone who could control the level of power that he could; insidious, addictive, whispering in his mind that just this once wouldn’t hurt. That the spell was for her own good. That a bonding would allow him to better protect her, would make her look more favorably on her duty.
That was the point. It would take away her freedom of choice. He wouldn’t do that, not to her. She was his Slayer. She deserved better from him.
From somewhere nearby the power surged again, making him almost dizzy. He hung his head in defeat. No choice, he couldn’t do this without her. But, perhaps there was a way to give her a nudge, just enough of a personal interest that she would want to fight. The outer doors opened, breaking his concentration and making him jump.
“Um, Mr. Giles?”
He walked out of his office. “Yes, uh, Willow, isn’t it? How may I help you?”
“I just need a few books, I’m going to help the new girl, Buffy, get caught up. I know what I’m looking for; I just wanted you to know that I was here.”
“Yes, of course. Bring everything to me when you’re ready.”
He stepped back into his office, mind racing. Buffy had approached Willow for help. That would put her in Willow’s debt, on a karmic level. That would sub-consciously have her on the look-out for Willow’s safety. This was something he could use.
He exited the office when Willow put the books on the counter. She leaned forward, averting her face, and her hair flowed over the books. Giles deliberately grabbed some of her hair as he lifted the books. Willow made a little squeaking sound, and pulled away.
“Oh, my goodness, how clumsy of me. Please forgive me.”
Willow blushed slightly. “No, no problem. It was just a little tug. Didn’t hurt a bit.”
Giles quickly stamped the books and slid them back across the counter. “I’m truly sorry. I don’t usually make a habit of pulling young ladies hair. I promise to be more careful in the future.”
“No, really, it was my fault. I should tie my hair back; it’s always getting caught on things.” She picked up the books. “I’ll have these back in a couple of days, Mr. Giles.” She flashed a shy smile, and left.
Giles looked up at the clock. Only half an hour until school was over for the day, no chance of anyone coming into the library now. He walked over, locked the doors, and turned off the overhead lights. Pausing at the counter to pick up the strands of Willow’s hair that he had pulled, he went into his office, closing and locking that door as well.
Drawing a deep breath, he unlocked the filing cabinet and opened the bottom drawer. There, in the back, were the books of spells that the Council had insisted that he bring. He swallowed hard and took the books to his desk. The next few minutes were spent scanning through the volumes, searching for the spell that would best suit his needs. He narrowed it down to two, each would perform one of the tasks he required, but neither would do both. He would need to alter one of the spells.
The ingredients that were needed were the similar enough that substitutions could be made without causing problems. Fortunately, the deity to be invoked was the same in both spells. There were a few minor differences in the wording of the spells themselves. He studied the chants and saw how they could be combined without negating the desired effect. Giles drew another deep breath. It was time.
There wasn’t enough room in his office for the ritual, so he would have to use the library. There was a slight danger that he would be seen, but that was a risk he would have to take. He gathered the ingredients in two separate bowls and placed two candles with them. Removing a box of salt from his bottom desk drawer, he took it and the other items and placed them on the floor. He then returned to the desk and stood for a long time looking at the strands of hair on his blotter. Was he really going to do this? Were circumstances really that desperate?
Power surged again and demon that filled his dreams seemed, for a moment, to be standing in front of him, laughing at his indecision. Giles bowed his head in defeat. No choice. He picked up the strand of Buffy’s hair and a single strand of Willow’s hair. Crossing the short space to where he left the ingredients, he sank to the floor, sitting comfortably.
Giles picked up the box of salt and drew a circle around himself. He set the protective wards and lit the first candle. Calling on the deity, Giles began the chant and used the first candle to light the second. Holding a candle in each hand, he lit the two bowls at the same time and recited the spell.
The power coursed through him and he laughed at the sensation. It felt so good! How could he have forgotten? He set down the candles and picked up the two strands of hair, twisting them together. As he intoned the last of the spell, he tipped one bowl of smoldering ash into the other and placed the hairs on top. There was a brief flash, and smoke rose from the bowl, hovering in front of his face.
In the smoke, he saw Buffy, eyes narrowed, face drawn tight; a hunter seeking her prey. Her face faded and in its place he saw Willow, her face a mask of terror as a vampire loomed over her. The smoke faded, as did the exhilaration caused by the spell. Giles gazed at the remains in the bowl and thought about what he had just done. He had broken the vow he had made at Randall’s grave, he had placed a minor binding spell on his Slayer, and he had deliberately placed an innocent in harm’s way.
Drained of energy, Giles put his face in his hands and wept.