Disclaimer: I do not own the Buffyverse. I do not own Sanctuary. I just play in the sandboxes.
Confess Thy Sins
Giles stared at the dark brown liquid in the glass tumbler, knowing that, to anyone who might observe him, he looked as though he was searching for the very secrets of the universe. Or being particularly morose as he drowned his sorrows in liquor, he thought with a depressed snort. He brought the glass to his lips and downed the liquid in one, fast gulp.
Doing this, of course, left him with an empty glass, and his bottle was on the bar across the room. Rather foolish of him, he thought wildly as he struggled to his feet. He should have brought the bottle with him when he’d collapsed into his chair. Very shortsighted of him.
Just like every major decision he’d ever made, if he was honest with himself.
Once he made it to the bar, Giles picked up one of the bottles and forced his hand to be as steady as possible as he poured himself his third, perhaps fourth, drink of the night. Before he could consume it, though, he was interrupted.
“Your security is abysmal, Rupert.”
He stiffened in alarm for a brief moment, but then relaxed. He hadn’t even heard her enter his flat, but then, that was her way, wasn’t it? To just appear, and then disappear when she was finished. Giles turned to her, his glass held loosely in his hand. There she stood, wearing a dark-colored, formfitting suit, looking like an actress in one of those silly adventure movies that Xander was so fond of.
“Would it really matter, Helen?” he asked her. “I could have the finest security system imaginable and you’d still get around it like it wasn’t even there. Why waste the money?”
Helen Magnus leaned against the wall, crossing her arms in front of her. She stared at him with a jaundiced expression. “You should at least lock your windows and door. That will keep out at least some of the idiots of the world.”
Giles never locked his door. It had to be kept unlocked, so his Slayer would always have a place to easily access if she was injured while on patrol. He froze, and his hand trembled, causing the scotch in his glass to sway. His Slayer… Buffy.
Helen seemed to sense his thoughts, and her expression grew cautious, wary. “I heard about what happened.”
That didn’t surprise him. Even if Helen wasn’t part of the Council, she had contacts virtually everywhere. Part of the advantages of being virtually immortal, Giles thought sourly. One had plenty of time to make sure she had eyes and ears practically everywhere. “I’m sure everyone knows by now,” he replied. He looked at her. “Going to lecture me again about the Council’s immorality? Going to call me a monster for going along with them?” He laughed, a bitter sound. “My Slayer already sees me as one. Why not you too?” He took a long, fortifying drink of his scotch.
For several moments, Helen said nothing, merely stared at him. Then, quietly, she said, “If they had done what they did to your Slayer to my Ashley, I’d not have stopped until there was nothing left of them to bury.” She shifted slightly, but didn’t move from her leaning perch. “Why did you do it, Rupert?”
Giles closed his eyes. It was a question that had been haunting him ever since this infernal mess had begun. He had never agreed with the ideas behind the Cruciamentum, finding the entire exercise barbaric and cruel. Bad enough to deprive a Slayer of her power, the abilities that kept her alive, but to force him, her Watcher, to be the one to do the deed?
He could still remember his grandmother’s teachings. “A Slayer has few, if any, allies in her battles. Even the Council is more concerned with waging a war than the fate of its soldiers. Is it any wonder that a Slayer is considered lucky if she lasts longer than a year?”
Her eyes had been sharp and bitter, and Giles had known even then, when he was only a boy of twelve, that she was remembering her own Slayer, Elizabeth, who had lasted three years before falling at the age of nineteen. Then she had turned that gaze on him, saying, “Your first loyalty must
always be to your Slayer, Rupert. Never mind those fools who think that they have the right to throw away the lives of children. Don’t forget that.”
He hadn’t listened to her. He had forgotten. By agreeing to poison his beloved Slayer, he had put others before her.
But that still left Helen’s question unanswered. Why had
he done it? Because his own position was so tenuous? When he had come back to the Council, they had all made it clear that it was only out of respect for his father and grandmother that they permitted him back into their ranks. Looking at it objectively, Giles could easily see that they had beat him down as harshly as they could, leaving him little in the way of self-esteem. They made him perfectly aware that without them, he was nothing.
Living here on the Hellmouth, though, working side by side with Buffy and the others, Giles had come to regain some sense of independence, of self-worth. When faced with the result of his past sins, Buffy had not turned her nose up in disgust, even after Ethan had branded her to save his own skin. Instead, she had thrown herself into the fight to end the mess, and she had not condemned him in the aftermath.
She really was the most remarkable girl.
“They were going to do it, with or without me,” Giles finally said. “I thought… if I was here, able to put myself between Buffy and the Council, I might be able to maintain some control of the situation, prevent it from going too far.” Even as he said them, he knew the words were pitiful. The entire situation had been beyond the pale from the start, from the moment he gave Buffy that first dose of the drugs the Council had sent to him. It had only gone downhill from there.
Helen eyes were full of contempt. “I’ve never made any secret of my dislike of your Council and its ways. Their treatment of Abnormals is appalling, and their treatment of the Slayers is even worse. They’re children
“Vampires are not Abnormals, not the ones we fight,” he countered tiredly. It was a long-standing argument between them, and not one that would be resolved tonight.
Thankfully, she didn’t push him on that front. Instead, she said, “I understand that Quentin Travers has relieved you of your duties as Miss Summers’ Watcher.”
Giles snorted. “You mean he sacked me? Yes.” He still wished he had stepped forward and smashed his fist into the smug man’s face when he’d had the chance.
Helen nodded. “What will you do now?” she asked him. “Will you return home?”
He blinked. The thought of returning to England hadn’t even occurred to him, not when Quentin had fired him, and not now. Giles shook his head. It wasn’t an option, and he said as much. “No matter what the Council says or does, so long as Buffy wants me here, I will not leave her,” he declared.
Of course, he wondered how long that would be. After Quentin had left them alone in the library, Buffy had let him clean her wounds, hadn’t flinched away from his touch as she had when he had first revealed what he had done to her. They hadn’t said anything that entire time, but her eyes had barely left him as he worked, intense and frightened. Still, she was worn out, physically and emotionally. It could very well be that she would appear in the library on Monday morning to tell him to stay away from her, something that made his heart clench in grief.
The idea that Buffy might truly hate him was a terrifying one.
Helen nodded and finally straightened up from leaning against the wall. “I’ll be going, then,” she said. “I wish you luck with your Slayer.” She took a step toward the door, but then stopped and faced Giles again. “Remember, Rupert - you will always have a place with the Sanctuary Network if you wish it. Someone of your skills and knowledge would be invaluable there.”
Giles couldn’t help but smile his thanks to her, despite his morose mood. “How many times will you make me that offer, Helen?” he asked.
She smirked, brushing her long, dark hair out of blue eyes that promised so much more. “For as long as you need it, my friend.”