Chapter One: Thank You for Being a Friend
*Rupert Giles POV*
08 August 2019
Under the circumstances, I felt quite impressed with Buffy's performance today. Regardless of Traver's assessment. The Council decided to make a surprise guest appearance to assess how Buffy's training had been going. Although it is typical for them to arrive unannounced and request for impromptu slayings, it does feel strange that they've suddenly taken an interest in Buffy. Since assigning me to the slayer, after Merrick had passed, they had left us alone. It's been a year. Now they seem to want something, and I'm afraid I'm not sure what.
The team Quinten brought with him for the review felt a bit lavish and unnecessary. They questioned and prodded at everything. I was thankful the school was in its summer session. It would have been troublesome having to explain to Snyder why all of these people were invading the halls with old relics and bloody weapons. Their assessment of my workspace has become tiresome. I'm beginning to feel as if I am the one under observation. Our success last year, taking out the Master vampire, should have earned us some respect, but they seem unimpressed.
If only they had been here…
Well, whatever this power play is intended to accomplish, it will be revealed tomorrow. And we are all rather enthusiastic about their departure.
I was up long before the alarm this morning. I even made the terrible decision of stirring up a pot of coffee. The water began to dribble through the coffee grounds loudly. I cracked an egg into a pan, and the bacon started to sizzle. Every sound was pounding into my head. I must have taken too many sips of bourbon last night before falling asleep.
"Giles!" Buffy called out as she burst through my front door.
I pulled away from the stove to look lazily in her direction. Sunrise was in an hour, and Buffy was already steamrolling ahead. I looked back at the coffee pot still brewing. I wasn't ready to endure Buffy.
"Giles, what are they waiting for?" She continued as I turned back to my eggs, "Why can't they just tell me I failed, do better, and disappear again? I need them to disappear."
"Good morning Buffy."
"I'm serious." A bar stool tread across the floor, and her elbows plopped onto the counter behind me. "I can't take the pressure. Did you hear how many disapproving groans they gave me yesterday? It was like you... times fifty!"
"They will be gone by the end of the day."
I plated the breakfast and turned around to pass it across the counter. I got a good look at Buffy this time. Her eyes were heavy, and her face was pale. She held her sleeves past her hands, and the creases in her clothes from yesterday's battles remained. She must have been up all night, riddled with the same anxiety that had been knawing away at me. I took a breath and watched her expression soften with me. I poured her a cup of coffee.
"Why are they even here?" She held the warm mug in her hands.
"I've been wondering the same thing."
"Willow and Xander were talking, and they think…. Well, worried… that… the Council can't take you away from me, can they?"
"No. I won't let them." I said firmly.
Her eyes were big, and I could see her holding back the tears. She nodded slightly, but I could see she was unconvinced. "M-maybe, they can let me retake the test? We could study Latin, Japanese, demon languages… and do all the boring training sessions you want. I can do it right this time. I can't lose you, Giles!"
"Buffy, you listen to me." I put a hand over her mug to force her to look back up at me, "Buffy, you are perfect. The Watcher's Council is an organization whose sole purpose is to protect the line of Slayers. Now they can be rather harsh with their methods, but there is no other organization out there more equipped to protect you. I have no doubt in my mind that they mean well. And in the unlikely event that they fire me, it's because they have someone more suited to protect you. I will never let them bring any harm to you. And I will never leave you."
Her lip quivered, and a small tear fell from her left eye. I walked around the bar to embrace her, and she had never held onto me so tightly. I could tell by her hug, she was terrified. I'm sure that's precisely how the Watcher's Council intended her to feel. Those pricks.
I pulled away from our hug enough to look her directly in the eyes.
She looked away from my gaze and down at the floor, "I didn't ask for any of this. I didn't ask to be the slayer or for them to come out here and judge my every move. Literally."
"I know. Neither did I, so we are in this together, okay?"
She nodded, keeping her gaze away from mine. I pulled a napkin from the kitchen and wiped away her tears. She took some deep breaths and tried to pull herself back together. She was tired. That was obvious. And probably hungry. But mostly, she needed a break.
"Do you think you could find something for us to watch?"
Her green eyes found mine again, and she smiled, "You… Giles, you don't have a tv?"
I reluctantly walked toward the living room and knocked over a couple stacks of books. Behind them was a small 12" cube tv with a built-in VHS player. Buffy seemed impressed.
"Gosh Giles, you would think we were in the nineties."
… or not.
At least she was back to teasing me, and I knew that meant progress.
"Well, it's not the newest thing on the market. But it's sturdy, and with the kind of life we lead, I'm sure that will come in handy."
"Did it come with an antenna?"
Buffy rolled her eyes and moved around me into the kitchen and pulled the long twisted piece of metal out of the garbage. I was about to yell at her to put it back, but she raised her hands innocently, stopping my interruption.
"Don't worry. I'll do it free of charge."
She promptly ignored me, and within minutes the local news channel was playing on the small cube.
"How did you…?"
She took a bite of her bacon and plopped herself onto the couch, bringing her breakfast with her. I poured myself a bottle of bourbon and joined her. We both needed a break. Our lives have been stolen from us, chosen for us and soon the Watcher's Council will be down our throats with how poorly we are handling all of it. But for right now, she is smiling. No judgment. The freedom to chose. She had a remix she sang with the intro to Golden Girls.
Her choice could have been much worse...
"My mom and I used to watch this every Saturday morning. Before I used to be up all night long and sleep-in till noon."
We watched and laughed at a few episodes before we both fell asleep.