A Watcher and an Angel
Good Morning, and thank you for reading and reviewing! Let me know if this chapter works, or if I've made a mistake about the obvious thing in the middle of the chapter. Same old disclaimer, Joss Whedon, Fox and whoever else owns Buffy the Vampire Slayer and JRR Tolkien owns the LOTR's universe.
Officially and otherwise, after the death of Giles, Buffy refused to have another watcher. The council tried to assign someone, in case of emergencies they told her, but she absolutely refused to talk to whoever was assigned as her watcher until they became unassigned. Buffy and Giles did not part on the best of terms, as far as watcher slayer relations go, but in no way did she stop loving the man for all the things he had done for her, and her family. He was human, after all and she still called him when she had questions, they still spent the holidays together, and he still called on her when other slayers were having a problem with a big bad, much to the annoyance of the other slayers. The events surrounding the First were regrettable, but as they grew up and into their new leadership roles in the council, it was important to set an example for the new slayers and let go of the past, and they wanted to. Friends like Giles, Willow, Xander and her sister Dawn, didn’t come along very often, especially for slayers, and nobody wanted to let that go.
It became apparent, rather quickly that Lord Elrond was British, or if not British exactly, he was more like a watcher than anyone Buffy met in Middle Earth thus far. The main difference was his focus on healing in place of fighting and he was a fierce fighter when he needed to be, but Buffy didn’t need to learn to fight. She needed to learn to use her ring, and if she was going to go to war, she needed to learn as much about healing as she could. If not for herself, then for the unlucky that would undoubtedly ride beside her as she rode into battle. In these ways, Lord Elrond and even Celebrian were the best teachers she could have.
Elrond knew all the old legends, had a multitude of books, or Arda’s version of books, text and scrolls and some painstakingly hand copied books, and if she wanted something checked, he knew the texts in his collection as well as Giles knew his library. Whatever power Buffy had, or the mystique of the Gilrin, or slayer, did little to intimidate Lord Elrond, and he scolded her regularly when she clearly abused his language, neglected her studies, or harassed the elves. In all the other elven realms Buffy had been well behaved, she might even have acted her considerable age, but for some reason, under the eye of a teacher or a mentor like Giles or Lord Elrond the teenage Buffy slipped out, or more accurately gleefully came loose of her chains.
It might have been the happy nature of the elves in Rivendell, for they were all as relaxed as a Buddhist temple, and as carefree as the summertime. Sure they worked, studied and contemplated a lot, but life in the Valley was easy. Before Buffy came, they had Glorfindel and a whole host of highly trained guards and wardens monitoring the border, along with Lord Elronds considerable power and with all those people protecting the valley, nobody worried about getting attacked.
When Buffy first encountered Glorfindel, she thought he would be a worthy sparring partner. Someone she could actually have fun fighting, but it was not to be. He refused to fight with her and not understanding his reasons, feeling annoyed and a little hurt, she avoided him. Her actions led to more confusion on his part, and pretty soon both were sulking. In later days, at the behest of Elrond and Celebrian she would train Elladan, and Elrohir and even Arwen to be fierce fighters, but until they were born and learned to fight, she was back to relying on orcs to get her slayer rocks off and they were mostly boring unless there were a lot to fight at once.
She did spend considerable time training the already well trained elves in Lord Elronds guard, because unlike so many others she encountered, they were willing to learn new things and she could expend some of the energy that was bottled up every night she couldn’t kill the hundreds of demons she wanted to. Ok maybe hundreds was a stretch, but a couple good battles a month wasn’t too much to ask for, was it? She was in no rush to get the kinds of injuries she sustained fighting the balrog, but for the hour they fought, she at least felt like she had a worthy opponent.
“So great was the horror of his approach that Huan leaped aside. Then Sauron sprang upon Lúthien; and she swoo-“ (pg. 175)
“Stop, don’t you dare say swooned. If I hear another one of these stories where the so called heroin swoons, I’m gonna burn down your library. I know the story, she takes over the mastery of the freakin tower, among other things, there’s no way she swoons!” Buffy folded her arms like an angry child and glared at Elrond.
Dumbfounded, he stared at her for a full minute before he went on, “before the menace of the fell spirit in his eyes and the foul vapour of his breath. But even as he came, falling she cast a fold of her dark cloak before his eyes; and he stumbled, for a fleeting drowsiness came upon him.” Elrond glared back at her in response.
“See, I told you she doesn’t swoon, but you always have to have that word in there somewhere don’t you? I mean how many women actually swoon around here anyway? It’s not like you force them into corsets.”
“Foul vapour of his breath.” He repeated in exasperation. “Had you but listened to the lay the first time Celebrian sang it to you, it might have made sense. Lúthien would not swoon without cause.”
“Are you saying this guy was so evil, his breath was so bad that people passed out when he got to close? And I’m not saying the word swoon is ok, it’s still bad, but that is some bad breath!”
“You’re missing the point, as usual you are trying to torment me and wilfully ignoring the fact that the Lúthien is able to overpower Sauron with the help of Huan.”
“No, that part is sort of obvious, don’t you think? What I want to know is why the old tales always have women swooning, and I don’t think it’s not important. It perpetuates the myth that your women should be kept hidden inside, because they might pass out in the face of danger, and the worst part is the women start to believe it. No, actually the worst part is, it’s probably not true. If someone as powerful as Lúthien stands up to Sauron, Morgoth, those two jerks that tried to keep her hostage and her father she’s probably not gona swoon, whether Mr needs a breath mint or not is breathing on her. Whoever wrote this Lay probably added it to make people more comfortable with the fact that a woman kicked Sauron’s behind when the full force of the Noldor couldn’t take him on and the same goes for Morgoth. Honestly, she did it with hardly more than a little magic, an oversized dog, and a human bumbling around the woods like a bunch of hippy Rainbow Fest flower children. No wonder they wanted to add the swooning part in.”
And just as Giles learned all those years ago, Lord Elrond learned that there was more to Buffy than a skilled fighter. That her words, however atrocious and insulting to his elder long dead family members, made sense, though he wasn’t ready to let go of the tales that he sang since his youth. They were his heritage, and he told her so.
“I’m not saying you shouldn’t sing your songs, your head would probably explode if you couldn’t sing, but if you have daughters, or even sons for that matter, you should make sure they know that women don’t swoon any more than men, and even if she did, I mean come on. The guy was Morgoths right hand man. He killed thousands of elves, imprisoned the love of her life, and that Felagund character. She has reason to be scared. Only an idiot goes against that kind of evil without fear.”
“Yes, just like the fear you showed marching into the deep to fight a balrog with a handful of dwarves?”
“That’s different. I thought it was just a dragon, and it’s sort of my job. Lúthien grew up sheltered in her caves and protected forests. What she did was far more heroic.”
“Just a dragon?” He shook his head and changed before she decided to start insulting the entirety of his family as well. “How is the training going?”
“Good, but it’d be easier if Glorf wasn’t so stingy with his weapons locker, or if he’d spar once in a while, but he refuses to fight with me or help with the training, or let me play with the weapons.”
He shook his head. “I cannot help you with this, except to tell you that calling him Glorf will only increase his ire and unwillingness to help you.”
“Don’t I know it. You should have seen the look on his face. It was something between I just stepped in orc guts and the looks people usually have when I try to join the singing.”
“I can believe it. He was a great lord in Gondolin and his deeds earned him the forgiveness from the curse of the Noldor. He is unused to that kind of treatment from anyone, and especially from one such as you.”
“Treatment? I know I come from a different culture, but don’t you guys shorten names? And what do you mean, one such as me?”
“I know you know what I mean. You don’t call me Lord El Derado in front of anyone else because you know it is inappropriate, but you will holler through the valley chasing after Glorfindel calling him that terrible name.”
“Jeez, isn’t he like eight thousand years old? Is he really that sensitive?”
“So it’s his fault he is upset?”
“Absolutely, but if you think it will help, I’ll stop calling him Glorf. I only started that when he refused to let me into his smithy shed. I just wanted to see all the things he was working on, but he refused, and then when I went to sneak in when he was supposed to be on patrol, he was hiding, like he knew I’d try to take something. Where’s the trust?”
“You’re asking about trust after you tried to sneak in when he ordered you to stay out of his shed?”
“Yeah, it’s not like I’ve ever given him reason not to trust me. I kinda saved his life, remember, and we had that happy glow moment and I thought he’d be friendly you know? The first time I heard the story about him being a balrog slayer I wanted to meet him, and now he won’t even talk to me.”
“I cannot help you with this, but I will say this, Glorfindel speaks very little even to those he considers friends. Antagonizing him under most circumstances brings swift and harsh punishment. He too has waited a very long time to meet you. We all have, and to hear the slayer that is more akin to him than most of his own kind shred the name he has worn with honour for centuries isn’t as simple as shortening his name to fit your tongue. You have wounded him in front of others, be it intentional or not.”
He watched her mull it over, and deciding they were through with lessons for the day, he got up to leave. “We will continue trying to expand your power with the ring tomorrow.” He left the room, and Buffy regaining her surroundings decided to start patrol early and hoped for some orcs.
The next few decades flew by, and every spring Gunnar returned hoping to see Buffy. Many years she was there while he lived, though she went back and forth from Greenwood to Imladris every few years, and sometimes spent time with Amroth, the King of Lothlorien. She liked it there. How could she not? It was close to the dwarves, close to both Imladris and Greenwood, and like all other elf realms it had a unique beauty that Buffy found enchanting, excepting of course, Haldir. The great March Warden of Lothlorien who wasn’t above picking on guests of his king when they so clearly refused to respect the customs of the land, and had a hard time with the Sindarin that was spoken there; a language that was becoming less like that of Greenwood and Imladris and more like its own.
Amroth was more serious than Lord Elrond, and didn’t have much sense for wit, but he was fiercely protective of his forest and all the Galadhath. He was passionate and quick to anger, but for his friends he was willing to give the bow off his back if they needed it. He disliked the chaos and bickering Buffy brought to his tranquil forest, but she was the keenest of sight, and the quickest to defend his people, more so even than his warden and her stories though clearly made up were certainly entertaining and if there was anything Amroth enjoyed, it was a good tale amid his favourite trees and Buffy had some good ones.
After many years of practice and exploration it turned out that although Buffy could create a protective circle around herself and others, she could not hold it forever like Galadriel and Elrond could. Nor could she use it to heal others the way Lord Elrond could, or see the way Galadriel could. She had those powers, but in ways that she already had power just like Galadriel predicted. She could heal herself incredibly fast even for a slayer and her tolerance for pain was so high, she didn’t know she was injured most days except when she noticed blood stains or tears in her clothing. If she really focused, she could communicate with Galadriel and Elrond, though she had a difficult time with it. Her strength, speed, and senses were all heightened and her dreams were much clearer, and any time she had a waking dream, just as Lorien predicted, it was only given when something big was coming her way or the way of innocents.
It was one such vision that changed the course of Buffy’s life in Middle Earth, or I suppose helped to push her onto the next stage and cement her into the histories of men as well as elves. The first indication that Buffy’s life was going to change was a dream.
“Five more minutes mom.”
“No offense Buffy, but I am definitely not Joyce.” Her eyes flew open.
“In the flesh.” He grinned at her secretively like the early days in Sunnydale before things got complicated, more complicated. He looked like that man, or vampire, too. Not the brooding Angel of Los Angeles post Buffy, but the one still full of whistlers words of hope. This Angel hadn’t tortured Giles, or killed Jenny. This Angel didn’t want to end the world, or suffer the loss of Cordy, or Wes or his son. This Angel, hadn’t killed Giles, and the part of Buffy that still carried the love of her first love in her heart, ran up and hugged him tightly.
“This is a dream, isn’t it?”
“Doesn’t make it any less real.”
“So, not that I’m not happy to see you, but what are you doing here? I mean this is some kind of slayer dream right?”
“You never could bask for very long, could you?”
“No, so spill.”
“Ok, but as soon as I deliver this message they’re gona send me back and wake you up so-.”
“So we don’t rush, got it.”
They looked at each other for a while, and very old memories started to flash before her eyes, tiny bits of old sayings wisped through her mind just out of reach and yet still there.
“This is you after heaven, isn’t it?”
“It’s interesting you say that, because I didn’t choose this form, you do.”
“So you’re not real?”
“No, I’m really here, but whatever version of me you wanted to see is what you got, we are still in your head.”
“So what’s the what?”
“Watch.” He put his hand up to her head and relayed the images to her. It was horrific. Hundreds of people being slaughtered by orcs, wargs, and wild men, villages burned, women were attacked, children lay dead, livestock slaughtered, horses and men lay spoiling in the fields where there must have been a battle. Image after image, and it was so real, she could smell the decay and the smoke. Finally she watched as hundreds of orcs converged on a city, a very familiar city she recognized as Annuminas. The flashes ended and Buffy was nauseous.
“Why did they send you to show me what they could have shown me in a dream? Or a dream without you? Not that I’m not glad to see you, but-“
He interrupted her, “because they wanted to make sure you know you have a choice, to remind you that this is not like being the only slayer anymore. You served your time and whenever you’re ready you can come home.”
“Yeah right. Let’s show Buffy the violent scenes where the bad guys slaughter a bunch of innocents and remind me that I don’t have to do anything about it if I don’t want to. Manipulate much!”
“Arnor will fall in this millennia or the next. You can’t stop it, you can delay it, but you can’t stop the inevitable, and that is why they sent me. You’re road splits now. You can spend more time with the race of man, fighting for Arnor and Gondor and all the men of the west, or you can keep yourself aligned mostly with the elves, but know this, if you choose to mix more with humans, you will fight wars in which you will have to kill or be killed by humans, eventually you will have to decide if you’re willing to kill humans.”
“So that’s why you’re here? To remind me that involving myself with human problems might mean killing humans? The Valar can’t show me images like that and expect me to sit back and do nothing just because at some later date I might have to worry about fighting a war against my own kind, can they?”
“No, but you’re not like a vampire. You haven’t completely transformed. Killing demons for you is easy you’re the slayer, but still human. No matter how long you live, or how strong you get, you’ll always be human and killing your own is a lot harder than slaying those slimy things this world calls demons.”
“Don’t you think I’ve thought about it? Look, when a village is attacked, not just for resources, but for evil, because Sauron has promised them a cookie, I can’t sit back and do nothing while children are murdered, women are raped and enslaved, and men are slaughtered. Could you? Could you sit back and decide to stay out of it because it’s a human problem? This isn’t about slayers versus human laws. I’m not here to uphold the same balance I was back in Sunnydale. And I have a choice. I don’t have to involve myself in every battle.”
“You can’t control everything. You might align yourself with some nation that does the right thing, and then the next year decided to take over another area and what are you gona do? Stand that one out? Sit on the side lines and pretend like you’re injured for this game? Or are you gona start killing the people you defended the year before, so they can’t do what humans have always done?”
“I know what you’re saying. Don’t you think there’s a reason I’ve kept mostly away from humans? I don’t want to have to choose between one stupid arrogant king and the next, but if I can help the people that are being attacked by orcs, maybe train a few soldiers so they can defend themselves when evil comes a calling-“
“And what happens when you train soldiers and then they use it to kill their own people?”
“What are you trying to do Angel? Do you really want me to let these people die?”
“No, I’m just trying to make you understand. Killing your own kind isn’t easy. I’ve seen war. It’s the best time to be a vampire and I’ve watched a lot of people slaughter each other. Even the side of good, the side defending against tyranny still has to live with blood on their hands. They knew just as well as the guy they shot that they didn’t want to be there, that some jerk shoved a gun in their hands and told them to shoot their brothers and they did, and they suffered for it. You’ve seen a lot of dead bodies, but you’ve never seen thousands of rotting corpses, smelled flesh burning, children blown to bits by a tank, or any number of horrible things that life as a slayer could never prepare you for.”
She’d been angry, but clarity was washing away all the tumult of the argument. “In all my time as a slayer, I have never once killed a human with my own hands. There have been deaths because of the decisions I’ve made, but I have never knowingly killed a human being. But I have always known that if the wrong circumstances were presented to me I would do it. There is never any right circumstance, so I say wrong. Angel, you know me, I will always try to incapacitate a person, let the other humans deal with them in their own way, but this world is different, and I’m different. There are things worth fighting and dying for, even the enemy knows that, and if they are willing to go to war, they are willing to be killed.”
“Do you honestly think you’ve thought this through?”
“Duh, I mean I won’t kill anything I don’t have to, but if some stupid idiot decided to attack the people I love, of course I’m going to try and stop them, and even if I only hurt them, there isn’t exactly a hospital and some antibiotics just around the corner. If the Valar want me to stay out of human problems, then tell them to stop sending me visions of humans dying. These hypothetical people we are talking about choose to attack innocents just like vampires do, and it’s not like Giles made me stop a vampire and ask if he was sure this is what he wanted to do. Evil doesn’t discriminate its choice of host. Humans fall victim all the time, and there isn’t always a way to turn them around, especially when they are trying to kill you. I know many are forced to fight, and I hope I never have to face that kind of decision but I don’t think I can stay out of it forever.”
“There will be consequences.”
“Is that some kind of threat?”
“No, the Valar are not trying to stop you from going to war, but know that you will have to live with each and every death.”
“Yeah, yeah, did it ever occur to you that I’m not you? And can we stop with the labels. I’m a human too you know, and don’t give me that ‘with great power comes great responsibility’ speech. I might have super powers, but I’m still a human with human feelings, wants and needs. This urge to protect is not a slayer power, and neither is my willingness to go to war for the things that really matter. I won’t relish in death, but I won’t stand back while people are slaughtered, and that has nothing to do with being the slayer or any other name someone gives me. Those are the things that make me human, and you of all people should know that. What did you do when you got your soul back? You protected people, helped the helpless, it’s kind of a no brainer.”
“You’re right, but I mostly helped them from demons. You’re talking about killing other humans.”
“Do you see a pile of bodies?” She rolled her eyes at him. “Evil doesn’t always come with a name tag, and you of all people should know that. If I didn’t discriminate and carefully weigh the options I would have killed you. See vampire, slay vampire. It’s that kind of logic that kept me alive most nights, but I’ve always known there are exceptions to every rule, and can we stop this? I feel kinda icky singing the it’s my birthday and I’ll kill if I want to song.”
He chuckled, “I’ve missed you.”
“So we’re done? No more, killing bad, people good speech?”
“Buff, I wasn’t here to convince you not to. The Valar know you are going to do the right thing, whatever the situation, they just wanted to make sure you could live with it. And who better than me to talk about guilt?”
“You have cornered the market on brooding. So when is this orc massacre supposed to take place?”
“Soon. They were pretty annoyed with you killing all their people around Arnor, so they are sending a large army to take you and the people of that city out. I wouldn’t wait too long before I left if I were you.”
“Thanks for the warning, and no matter what I said about doing what I have to, I won’t be killing humans. It’s just not in me, unless I have to.”
“I know you won’t. Give me a hug before they pull me back. You’re more beautiful than ever, stronger too. This place suits you.”
“Yeah, I like it too, and it looks like I’ll finally have something to fight. I was just about to go crazy. It almost makes me miss vampires if you can believe it.”
He chuckled and they said their goodbyes.
When Buffy awoke, she hurried off to find Glorfindel. Most mornings he was in his smithy shed tinkering, but today she knew he would be out by the river making sure nothing was able to get by while Elrond was distracted with the birth of his children. Any day now Celebrian was going to give birth to the twins, and even though Elrond’s protections weren’t failing, Glorfindel wanted to be prepared in the event that they were attacked while such an important event took place.
She found him easily, like she always did, upon a very old tree hanging over the river. This particular tree was very tall and friendly and a person could see for a very long way even half way up. It irked the old elf that she could always find him, that no matter how far he went or how well hidden he thought himself, she always knew where he was. Fortunately, she had yet to sneak up on him, and he always knew she was coming, something that annoyed Buffy as well. Neither would admit it, but irked and annoyed were not exactly the right words to use, but they were the only words either would use in the company of others. Both were rather interested in a connection that somehow always led one to the other whenever they were wanted.
“Good morning,” she called up to him as she climbed the tree. Attempting to remember the formalities Celebrian and Elrond tried to teach her. Not that wishing someone a good morning was so unusual a formality, but with someone else she might have added something funny, but not with Glorf. He was responding, as slowly as a snail, but he could see she was trying to make up for her previous behaviour, and he couldn’t deny that it was working.
He moved over in response, giving her room to sit next to him, and she considered it progress. They watched Anor rise above the mountains and begin to warm the valley for the day before Buffy began again. “There is an army of orcs moving west to Arnor. They are coming for me because I cleaned out all those orcs around Annuminas like thirty years ago so they think I must be there.”
“Or if not, that your sympathies lie there and you will come in their defence.”
“Exactly, so I have to warn them, and help of course.”
He looked at her for the first time since she came up the tree, and before he could hide it, worry crossed his face. His features turned stony and he turned away. “You cannot go alone.”
Buffy rolled her eyes. “Your lack of faith wounds me. I mean what do I have to do to prove myself in this place, kill a second balrog?” She was joking, but she would get no laughter from him and she sighed. “That’s kind of the reason I came up here. I know you probably have to stick around here, but if you know anyone that wants to come with, I’d be glad of whatever help I can get.”
“A balrog is not the same as an army. You have not fought this kind of war before.” She looked like she was going to interrupt but he pushed on. “No, you have fought many at once, and bravely, but not an army, not in open warfare with the people you are trying to protect only a few feet away, or in the city watching your kin die around you.” He was right, but she didn’t want him to be, so she tried to chip away at his point.
“I am the general of Thranduils army. I guarded the borders and fought off all those that came near the forest, sometimes more than a hundred at a time, sometimes alone and sometimes with warriors. Don’t tell me I don’t know what it is to fight while my friends and family are at stake!”
“You know this is different or you wouldn’t have asked for assistance.”
“They will be destroyed, every last one, and if I want to stop it, I need more than just me. I’m good, but I’m not that good.”
“Did you consider that warning may be enough to prepare them?”
“Yes, but what if it’s not? I can’t watch all those people die, and I can’t not help.”
They did not speak for a long time.
“I can spare only ten, if they will go. I do not command them to guard any but our own.” He warred with himself. He wanted to accompany her and send the entirety of the guard, but his duty was to Lord Elrond and Imladris, and if an army of orcs was going to march west from the mountains, he could not allow his own home to be left unguarded so that the men of the west were safe.
She began to move thinking about trying to convince a few to go with her when he said, “I would go with you if Lord Elrond was not distracted. He would insist upon it himself, but his thoughts are for his wife and sons only and mine must be to our people while his are not.”
“I know.” She smiled at him, and hurried down the tree to convince ten elves to come with her. She was sure a few of the younger ones she’d been training would want to go, but ten might be a stretch, even for Buffy’s pleading eyes. The whole place was excited for the birth of the twins, and nobody wanted to miss that. Even Buffy, used to demon interruptions at the most important parts of her life, well all of the parts of her life was disappointed that she would miss the little guys.
She rode west before Anor rose, the day before the twins were born. Glorfindel fighting to keep his feat where they were watched her go with ten of the best young elves he had. Every part of him knew this was a mistake. He imagines his feet like roots of a tree holding him to the earth. Galadriel stepped next to him and watched them go.
“She will return.”
He looked at her and scowled. “Nothing good will come of this.”
“It may not be good, but it is a necessary part of her bond to the people of Middle Earth.”
“Why must she form bonds with them at all?”
“Her future is tied with all of us.” She paused for a moment. “You know she cannot endure the seasons change in on place with ease. She is young but the same force that urges her on, will call her back. She cannot stay in any other realm longer than she can reside here.”
“Your words are true, but I find no comfort in them. It cannot be easy for any man to watch her go, and I fear she will find a home with them. They are her people.”
“You may not be wrong, but she will not easily reside with them. Did she tell you where she came from?”
“No, we do not speak of such things.”
“She is not of our world. These men she goes to are so different from her brothers and friends that she has trouble forming bonds of kinship and love. We are more her people than they are.”
“Do not attempt to convince me of her loyalty. It is not her loyalty or her honour that I questions. I do not question her at all, but I know far off yet is our union, if it be her will.” His face relaxed some and he said, “I am afraid she will be gone longer than I can part with her. These years she comes and goes I always know it will not be long ere I lay my eyes on her again, but now she departs for longer than I can bear and to another she will find council. No words can change that. I will not watch her disappear.” He walked off toward the mountains to guard from the north. If the orcs were to go west, they would not do so by the pass above the city.
His body was in tumult. She sought him out unable to rest before she departed, and in a moment of weakness, she had hugged him tightly and kissed his cheek on her tip toes, and then she was gone. Never before had she spoken to him in that way, and before he knew what he was doing he wrapped his hands tight around her and hugged her back. But now she was gone away again and all he had was the lingering warmth and heady feeling her scent left him with.
Next chapter should be up this week, writing a lot lately. Just so you know, Buffy wont be slaughtering humans, but I thought the point had to be made, since they make such a big deal about it on the show. What do you think?