Disclaimer: I do not own BtVS -- Joss Whedon does!
A/N: trying to restore my muse. This has been sitting in my files for a while.
He knows, on some level, that he is supposed to have been prepared for this.
His whole life, it seems, has been geared towards this moment. Yes, there have been slip-ups, a time or two (or twenty) that he has strayed from the path, but he has reached the ultimate goal. The culmination of all those years of careful breeding, raising, educating, and training – the very purpose of his existence, as it were, stands before him… and yet he cannot recall having ever felt more overwhelmed.
She is staring up at him through bloodshot eyes and a face swollen by tears. Her blonde hair is pulled back into two braided tails, going a bit ragged now from her ordeal, and her nightgown is wrinkled and tear-stained. There is a fluffy stuffed pig clutched in her arms. She is five years old, will be six in a month or so, and she is his responsibility.
If he'd known that this was what awaited him, he would have never left Ethan.~~~~~
There are certain things that Watchers must figure out for themselves. Every Slayer is different, after all, so why didn't he think to apply that standard to the Potentials? True, he has the journals of his predecessors, but the majority of those are concerned with the fleeting years that lie between Calling and the inevitable death that follows. The Potentials, it seems, are as shunned a subject as the origins of the Slayer. No help there.
Of course, he has the requisite books on child-rearing. He dashed out for a few of those as soon as he could but, oddly enough, few of them have the sort of advice he needs in the situation he finds himself in. It is, after all, rather hard to find proper instructions for how to keep a kidnapped child happy and nightmare-free. This seems a dreadful oversight to him in his more frustrated moments.
He tries not to think about what his – their
– situation might look like from an outsider's view.~~~~~
It is five months before she stops having the nightmares – or at least stops telling him about them. He does not know, exactly, what they entail, only that she wakes with "Mommy!" or "Daddy!" on her lips four nights out of five. She calls him Giles, of course. She would not call him 'father' if he offered, and there is a certain something – a lingering morality, perhaps – that says that that is a line that he should not cross.
Still, though she has become easier in his presence a certain mutinous watchfulness remains. She glares at him balefully over their morning cereal, but he has become used to seeing adult anger on her child's face. It has been two weeks since her last temper tantrum, and he has begun to see her lack of overt hostilities as a sort of progress.
"Elizabeth," he says.
"My name is Buffy
," she replies, scowling at him.
," he corrects with a heavy sigh, "would you like to go outside today?"
Her eyes light up and a broad smile crosses her features. For a moment, just a moment, he sees the bubbly child she must have been before Council-hired goons stole her sleeping form from her bed one night. Then her face shuts down, her lips pinching together as her forehead puckers. "What do I have to do?" she asks, already knowing that there are rules governing every 'privilege' in this house.
Giles mourns her loss of innocence even as he celebrates her newfound willingness to negotiate.~~~~~
Slowly, they develop a routine. She must be taught and trained. He gives her basic physical education, some biology, some math, everything on the required curriculum for a Council Slayer. Eventually he branches out, offering books not
approved, ones he read as a child. At first he makes sure that these books are still somehow applicable to their lessons, excusing his own actions as merely 'fleshing out' her education.
Eventually though, he gives her new books just to see her smile.
Of course, every smile reminds him of the child she could have been. The one who went to a normal school and had a normal set of parents. The child who wasn't destined to save the world. The child who might grow up to be a cheerleader, or a grocer, or whatever she might choose. Her smiles are a bittersweet thing, for him.
But that doesn't stop him from giving her the books.~~~~~
She is nine before she asks him 'why'.
This is not technically true, she asked 'why' many times just after she was taken and almost every step forward in her education and training has been met with a rebellious 'why'. But this is the first that Giles marks down, it is a turning point for the both of them because now she is old enough to understand
, to carry some of the weight that he does, the knowledge and the uncertainty.
"Why? Why me? Why do I
have to learn all of this?" she asks. That is not anger in her voice, but curiosity, and perhaps a burgeoning sense of ego. She knows that she is special, as all children are special, but life and the events in it have given her a certainty that others do not have. She was taken from her parents and she is being trained in martial arts and strategy – there must be some reason
Giles lowers his staff and gives her the Speech. It is a speech memorized by every Watcher and recited to every Potential. It is designed to inspire pride and responsibility. It is also designed to encourage isolation and self-reliance. He tries to instill the words with the purpose he once felt, the pride in his family for aiding in this fight for generations.
He says these things to this girl, and for the first time he hears them, applies them, to someone he knows. To the child he has bandaged and fed and cared for for near half her life now. The girl who has grown to be more than a charge and almost a –
"Into every generation" but a generation is twenty years and a Slayer is lucky to survive two
"a Slayer is born:" but you weren't born a Slayer, you have the Potential
"one girl in all the world," one, just one at a time, and it's not enough, never enough
"a chosen one." who would choose someone so sweet, so innocent?
"She alone" alone, always alone
"will wield the strength and skill to fight the vampires, demons, and the forces of darkness;" fight, and fight, and fight, until death releases you
"to stop the spread of their evil" are we any better? Sending little girls to fight a war?
"and the swell of their numbers. She is the Slayer."
He waits for a reaction, any reaction at all, but –
"Huh," Buffy says. Then she picks up her staff, and that is the end of it.~~~~~
She is twelve when she starts her menses, something that he was not at all prepared for. This was not in the manual, and he wonders how single fathers deal with these sorts of things before shaking his head, his
situation is much different from theirs
and wondering will not help this situation. Intellectually he knew that only sexually mature girls became Slayers, but knowing something and having it knock on his door at two in the morning because it thought it was dying of some heretofore undiscovered injury were two very
He had not touched that
topic with Buffy. He was not a prude
She stares at him with a disgusted look on her face, "Seriously? Ew."
Giles sighs, cleaning his glasses to avoid looking at his charge, "Quite."
ever done it?"
Later, he has a sneaking suspicion that she asks that question just to see him turn funny colors.~~~~~
He reports her burgeoning maturity in his weekly status update. Buffy's training schedule is stepped up, both physical and mental, and she is put on the master list. Every Watcher with a Potential on the list must check upon his or her charge's status after the death of each Slayer.
It is a slap to the face for Giles.
He knew that they didn't live long, but reading the diaries and getting the call one week, then again the next month, the third six months out, the fourth less than a week after that… he develops a bit of a ritual. He gets the call, checks on Buffy, calls the headquarters, and then gets quietly drunk in his room. He knows that this isn't healthy, but the alternative is insanity and he cannot do that to Buffy. She needs him now and if the worst comes to pass –
Giles smiles wryly and wonders when his life's work became a worst-case scenario.He
knows that Buffy
knows that something is up. He is sure that there must be some silent cue, some tell in his expression after another call, another death. She is always a little subdued the next day, though whether that is out of worry for his unnamed problem or some sort of sympathy for his own hungover condition is arguable. The fifth Slayer called after Buffy is put on the list lasts a full year and he becomes hopeful… maybe this one will last, maybe Buffy won't be Called. Maybe… but then she dies, and so do the next two after her, in quick succession. Time passes, Slayers die, and Buffy turns fifteen. There have been seven Slayers called since she was put on the list, seven girls who died for the world and his girl might be next.
Giles realizes that he has developed a bit of a problem when the bottles overflow his closet.~~~~~
One morning, Buffy reaches for her spoon and it bends in her hand, curled in on itself.
The phone rings a moment later.
A/N2: I may add a Buffy-POV chapter. What think you?