A/N: Sorry there was no update last Sunday. I had and I still have the flu.
A/N: Thanks to Kittenpoker, Odin, Claddagh, Voldemort, and Shadowslayers for their recommendations.
A/N: Big thanks to Grey Wizard and Sandra for Beta Reading. Clark and Von for being prereaders. I don’t know what I would do without you guys!
“What do you mean Willow is coming to Cleveland and bringing Kennedy’s squad?” Giles questioned Xander. The phone line in the observation room had a lot of static so Giles had to make sure he’d heard the young man correctly. He closed his eyes so he could concentrate on Xander’s voice. It seemed like all he’d done for the past two weeks was talk on static filled phones.
Mostly because Giles didn’t want to use his magic cell phone, and let the SGC know of its existence.
Buffy was sleeping peacefully in the room below him. Both the Slayers on guard duty seemed to be asleep, too. His girl had lost some of the pinched look around her eyes and Dr Frasier was almost giddy with her physical progress. The doctor warned that healing Buffy’s mind was going to take time, and most of it would be up to Buffy wanting to get better. Still, that doctor was granting them the gift of that time to help Buffy heal. And that meant he could allow hope to slowly seep back into his soul. ‘As long as there is life, there is hope,’
he remembered his grandmother’s saying.
“Willow called right before they left the Devon Coven, about an hour ago, and said she wanted to be close in case Buffy needed her,” Xander replied. “Remember that you were the one who assigned Kennedy’s squad as her permanent body guards.” He sounded like he was beyond exhausted. ‘Maybe it would be a good idea for the Witch to be Cleveland for a few days it could give Xander a rest.’
He thought, rubbing the bridge of his nose, where his glasses chafed. ‘The two of them hadn’t seen each other since the briefing with IOC/UN. Maybe Kennedy’s squad can help out, too. It will give some of the Slayers that were directly involved with Buffy a rest. After all the girl might have calmed down and might not be so arrogant now. Just because Kennedy was coming to the states didn’t mean it had be a disaster. It’s not like Willow was bringing her here where she could directly challenge Buffy.’
“Giles? Earth to Giles, come in Giles,” Xander laughed into the phone, breaking the Watcher out of his thoughts—again.
“I’m still here Xander,” he replied. He, too, was becoming slightly giddy with the news about Buffy’s seeming physical improvement. He needed to find his bed while his dear girl slept. “About the nine other slayers?”
“Yeah, are you sure you General O’Neill said nine? I already have Susan and Rocky headed there.,” he said, and Giles could tell that he was straining to figure out the change in attitude from this morning until now.
Giles tried to think of what to say without stepping on Xander’s authority. The young man had made incredible strides in becoming the leader that Giles needed him to be in the coming years. While Giles liked and trusted Robin Woods, the man just didn’t demand the loyalty that Xander seemed to get without trying from the Slayers.
“Yes, I’m sure we need them,” Giles paused again. He also wanted answers from Xander about not keeping him in the loop; only Giles just didn’t see it as important at the moment. “Apparently, the connection Buffy has with the slayers is a lot more than we realized.”
“Buffy keeping things from us--now where have I heard that tune before?” Xander sighed. Giles cringed at his words. For a moment Xander sounded exactly like he did at Sunnydale High, when he would complain about Angel.
“Xander, she has always kept her own council in personal matters, as is her right,” Giles felt the need the to defend Buffy suddenly. “She would never keep this connection or bond she has with the other Slayers private.”
“Then why didn’t I know about it?” Xander snapped. Giles knew the boy loved Buffy, just as much, and maybe more, in a different kind of way than the Watcher. Xander had just proven how much, beyond a doubt over the past two weeks, still, the blame Buffy first attitude had to stop.
“Maybe the same way you didn’t know that Nancy was a Medical Doctor, in her second year of a prestigious surgical residencyat Duke University when she was Called? And not simply in ‘med school?
’ Or that Tracy isn’t eighteen, she’s just had her sixteenth birthday?” Giles replied, trying to keep his voice even and mild. He did not want this conversation to escalate. He could tell by the way Xander didn’t answer right away that he wanted the same thing. As Giles’ mother would say, ‘they were both so tired they couldn’t see straight.’
Nor could they force their minds to work.
“I’m sorry, Giles. I guess I channeled my father for a moment there. I just want things simple again, for everything to be back the way it was back in High School. But with the 500 or so extra Slayers to help,” he joked. Giles could hear the contrition in his voice.
“To be fair Buffy did mention something about the bond and that was why she was able to find the minis so fast,” Xander revealed. “I just didn’t know how big of a deal it was to her.”
“And it seems to be a rather important to the other Slayers, too,” Giles added to Xander’s thought. “Maybe this is something Willow wouldn’t mind researching while she’s there? Since Kennedy is one of the ‘Sunnydale Slayers’ and thus stronger, she might have some insights to add.” Giles thought about it for a few moments. “It might be a good idea to contact Faith and ask her about it, perhaps?” He left it as a question for Xander to pick-up or not.
“Yeah, OK, just after I take a nap,” Xander said. “I’ll let Dawn know about Buffy and get to work on getting seven more Slayers freed up and out to Colorado.”
“Good night.” Giles listened until Xander replied and hung-up the phone. Then he opened his eyes and looked right into Buffy’s alert hazel ones.
So much for Buffy getting some sleep, he vaguely thought, because he had a feeling that she had heard every word of the conversation.
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Daniel had fully intended on researching the Alterans, really he had! Only when he got back to his office he saw the file on the Council and Buffy Summers still spread out on his desk and he couldn’t help himself.
An hour later he knew why he was so fascinated with the image on his computer—because he knew about the fight from Buffy. He just didn’t understand how he knew because his very human mind simply couldn’t grasp the entirety of Heaven. Or more importantly, how does one communicate with Heaven? He just knew all about it.
He knew how high she’d gotten after defeating the monster Adam, then how low after finding the desperate fight going on all around her. Then how enraged she’d become at the very men she was trying to save for creating the mess in the first place. It wasn’t like the carnage of her High School where the bravery of the students saved the town; the Initiative was simply man’s willful ignorance.
“Danny, would you please answer your phone!” His best friend’s exasperated voice jerked him out of his thoughts. Daniel was caught between jumping out of his chair, covering the files on his desk, and being irritated at the interruption.
Instead he just clicked on the screensaver and swiveledhis chair around to face his friend.
“Daniel, what did you want to talk to me about?”
Jack looked--well, he looked very impatient. Almost like he would get when Sam would try explaining something about the Stargate. Then he remembered the importance of today.
“Happy first date anniversary, where do you and Sam plan to go?” Daniel asked, pleased that he could remember such an important date to his friends.
“We were going to that new French place, you know the one where there is a two month waiting list for a reservation? Now I’m thinking it’ll be a dinner for two from the drive-through at Wendy’s! What did you need me for?” Jack answered, and Daniel couldn’t help but feel a little guilty. All he really had was a name and nothing else.
“I’m sorry, Jack, its not much. Buffy remembered the name of the Ancients,” he said, then shrugged his shoulders. “I guess you can go meet Sam. I’m sorry to keep you.”
Jack turned to leave then leaned back into the room. “What was the name?”
“The Alterans,” Daniel replied, waiting for his reaction.
“Alterans, you don’t say?” He said, then after a beat. “I’ve got nothing. Good night Daniel.” Jack left his waving hand and arm the last thing Daniel saw.
“Good night, Jack,” Daniel replied then scrambled up out of his seat and raced to the door of his office.
“Jack!” he shouted down the hallway. When the General turned around Daniel caught himself right before he shouted, say hi to Sam. It had been so close, he had come so close to outing his friends! It didn’t matter that the President and General Hammond knew or that Sam had even transferred to Area 51.
“Nothing, Jack, just nothing. I’ll try to have something for you in the morning,” Daniel finished.
Only, when he walked back into his office he saw the files laid out on his desk….
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Giles stood outside the blast door to Buffy’s ‘room’
staring at it. The young man that the General had assigned him was posed with the security card next to the reader to open the door. The young man was patiently waiting for Giles’ signal.
The SP stood there, with his eyes diverted, his back ramrod straight, and he gave off the air that he would wait there forever if Giles so deemed it. The Watcher really was going to have to compliment Jack on the superior nature of his personnel. There was a relaxed, yet competent, attitude to all the military staff that he’d been exposed to so far.
Maybe they should station a team of the older Slayers here to get the experience? ‘No, that wouldn’t work; the only reason the Council demands respect on an international level is because its neutral. What would Qubal, the Lebanese Slayer, think about working for the Great Satan and what would General O’Neill think about having a former operative for Hammas in America’s most secret facility?’
He knew that was an extreme example even though it was true. After all the Slayers didn’t only come from America or the UK.
The door slid opened in front of him and the nursing personnel filed out followed by Spring and Tracy. Tracy was yawning and clearly half asleep. But it didn’t stop her from demanding, “Are you going in there or are you just gonna stand out here and keep us awake all night?”
“Tracy!” Spring cried, and gently (for a Slayer) swatted the back of the girl’s head. “Miss Buffy will ‘spar’
with you good, if you don’t show some respect to her Watcher!”
The young Slayer gulped, and it wasn’t from the threat of sparring with Buffy; Giles could clearly see the shame on her face.
“I’m sorry Mr. Giles,” she said, sincerely. “I didn’t mean to insult you. Buffy’s always bragging about you and how you’ve kept her alive,” the teenager said.
Giles stared down at Tracy. He could feel his mouth opening and closing in his best imitation of a fish. Spring tugged the teenager away from him before he could think of an answer.
“We be going to get something to eat, and then Tracy and I’ll be back,” the older, Southern Slayer, said, back peddling down the hallway. Or would this be considered a tunnel? He wondered to himself. He knew that the main complex was a simple building inside a hollowed out mountain. However, they were on level twenty-four and level thirty was the lowest on the lift’s control panel.
“Giles, get in here, before I get up and drag you in,” Buffy’s voice echoing through the doorway sounded weak, as if she’d just woken from a heavy sleep. And as he walked up to the bed he felt guilty about waking her up.
Then he felt her and could feel the energy of her personality flowing off her. It was almost like her illness had drained something vital from her and none of them had noticed.
“You have worried face--why do you have worried face when I’m getting better?” Buffy asked, and she sounded so much like the Buffy he had in High School that for a second Giles hoped that they could repair their relationship.
“Giles, say something,” Buffy uttered. She suddenly found the IV line very interesting because she wouldn’t look up at him. He knew he was missing an important opportunity with Buffy he simply didn’t know what to say!
“I’m sorry I dragged you all the way from London, I know you had that meeting about opening up an office in Indonesia. I didn’t know you were coming or I would have told you that….” Giles put his finger over Buffy’s lips to stop the self-recrimination.
“My dear girl, would you please let me think of a way to say I’m sorry,” he interrupted her. Giles knew instantly he’d said the right thing because of the way her eyes opened wide in confusion. He took his hand away from her mouth.
“Giles, you have nothing to be sorry for--you’ve been so busy running the Council. We’ve been trying to handle everything on our own and making a mess,” Buffy quickly said, as she watched him intently. It was almost as though she was afraid he would disappear if she let him out of her sight. Just like the way the baby Slayers acted around her. That thought made something click in his mind.
He would need to contact Robin in London because the book he needed was in his personal library.
His silence must have hurt Buffy’s feelings because she was again facing away from him and he could see her eyes shinning as if she was about to cry.
“Hey, I guess you need to get back to the UK, huh? It’s Ok--everything here is under control,” his dear girl said.
Giles wasn’t overly physical in his affections; having been raised with his father’s Old School British reserve. However, in this one case he knew he had to do something—fast—or he would forever lose his last chance at making amends with Buffy.
He picked up her hand, the one without the IV line, and when she turned to face him, he smiled hesitantly down at her.
“Buffy,” he paused. Why was it so hard to say it? He had to do so now or he would never ever forgive himself.
“Buffy, I am so proud of you and so grateful that I know you,” he told her as he searched for the right words to express himself. He had to close his eyes to do so whatever expression flew across her face wouldn’t distract him.
“I am proud of you as a Slayer, but I am even more proud of the woman you have become.” There, he’d said it. What he should have said to her the night everyone stabbed her in the back and kicked her out of her own house. Kicked her out into the night, in a town full of Turk-a-han.
He finally got up the nerve to open his eyes. Buffy was sitting up in the bed openly crying.
“I’m sorry!” the apology was out of his mouth before he realized it.
“These are happy tears, doofus!” Buffy replied. “Giles, I thought you hated me, I thought I was terrible because so many of the girls died. Giles how do I stop seeing them in my dreams? How can I make peace with them when I killed them?” His Slayer started sobbing from grief, so he did the only thing he could think of--he sat down on the bed and held her.
When his arms wrapped around her, her tears increased until her entire body was shaking. And all he could do was cry with her because this was his fault.
What General O’Neill had said earlier came back to him. He held Buffy out at arms length and when he had her attention he asked her the most important question of his life.
“Buffy can you forgive me for all the things I said and did during the battle with the First?”
Because that was what he needed--forgiveness from her.
She wiped her eyes, glanced down, and nodded.
“Buffy I need you to say the words,” he pushed.
“I forgive you, Giles. Can you ever find it in your heart to forgive me?” Her voice was soft, and hoarse from crying.
“For what dear girl?” he immediately asked. He realized that General O’Neill was right about sitting in the dark and keeping score. So he said the words her tired soul needed to hear. “Of course I forgive you, Buffy.”
That wasn’t enough, however.
He needed to say more. He needed to tell her his most prized secret, something he always thought and never had the nerve to give it voice.
“You are my daughter in every way except birth.”
“Oh, Giles!” Buffy cried, and then threw both her arms around him. Which of course caused one of those blasted wires they had her stuck all over her to fall off causing the loudest racket possible to instantly begin blaring from one of the machines, and then people flooded into the room like ants at a picnic.
“Dr. Giles I need to you step outside for a moment while we see what’s happening,” the small doctor demanded after she turned off machine making the racket.
“I’ll be right back Buffy,” he told her, reluctantly pulling away and standing up.
Buffy held onto his hand and forced him to turn around. For the first time he noticed her weak grip.
“No, Giles.” She shook her head, “go get some sleep. Its half-past ten here so it would be like next week London time. You must be exhausted. The shrink is going to be here in the morning and I want you here because he wants me to try some freaky alien thing-y.”
Giles searched his mind and then he remembered the mention of the Tok’ra Memory Device. He wanted—no, needed--to know if it was safe and if it would help his daughter.
“Alright, I will see you in the morning,” Giles said. She released him and he walked to the door. He turned around before he left and his heart lifted because for the first time in years, Buffy was truly smiling.
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Daniel started awake.
Looking around, he realized he was sitting in his chair at his desk with his head cradled in his arms on the desk. He rubbed his eyes and then groaned as pain from his back shot all the way up his spine to his neck.
He had been dreaming. He remembered he was dreaming. So what woke him? he wondered, as he glanced at the clock and realized that it was 3:00AM. There was somewhere he had to be, somewhere he had to go.
He got up from his chair and realized his mind was fuzzy. He couldn’t think because he was so tired. Maybe if he got some coffee, it’d help clear his mind? The only decent coffee at this hour was in the infirmary. Daniel stood with the vague idea of going to the infirmary to get coffee.
As he locked up his office and walked through the empty hallway to the elevator the intensity of the feeling he had to be somewhere gripped him tighter. He started walking, moving faster and faster until he was finally running.
The elevator was open so he skidded to a stop inside the doors and then had a moment of confusion as he studied the control panel. He didn’t know which level to hit and still the urge that he had to be somewhere or something awful would happen continued to spur him on. He finally just picked a level and stood tapping his fingers on the door until it opened.
That’s when he remembered Buffy Summers was on this level and he might as well check in with her.
Only again, once he started walking, he moved faster and faster until he was running.
When he got to the blast door he could barely wait for it to open before he dashed in—to see the monitors by her bed going crazy and the two Slayer guards standing out of the way their faces ashen.