y-14 just in case - mention of drinking
main characters: Rupert Giles, Sean Cassidy
disclaimer: I do not own any characters from Marvel Comics or Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
distribution: Twisting the Hellmouth, Paula, anyone else... please ask first.
note: set post season 6 for BtVS, and shortly after the break-up of Gen X.
Giles was in a bar, drinking lager as he tried to decide what to do next with his life. He'd failed miserably at being a Watcher, the one thing that he'd been prepared for. He'd been born for it, the child of a watcher, watchers in his family back for centuries. But... well, that had ended up a bloody big mess.
"Rupert?" There was something almost familiar about the voice, despite a harshly rasping quality that he knew he didn't know. "What are you doing in Massachusetts?"
He turned, looking at the man standing beside him. Muscled shoulders, reddish blond curls with traces of grey, and laughing bluish eyes.... But there were bandages wrapped around his throat, and dark rings around those laughing eyes, almost hiding the network of wrinkles. Dressed in comfortable slacks and a coarse knit sweater, the man seemed oddly out of place for this bar.
"Sean? Is that you? Good God man, it's been... years. How have you been?" Giles hadn't expected to see Sean here. The last time he'd talked to his old friend, how long ago had that been? Seven, no, ten years since they'd had a good long talk? He'd been an investigator for Interpol.
Sean chuckled, his eyes filled with complexities. "Rupert. It's been too long... And as for how things have been, that's a long story. Are you having another round?"
They retreated to a small table in the back, and had a few more drinks, relaxing a bit and studying each other, trying to determine what changes were the marks of time, and what was from recent trouble. It had been years since they'd had a chance to really talk.
"I assume there was some sort of injury... the reason for both the bandages and the rasp? Does it have anything to do with this other enforcement group you were with? The one you joined after Interpol?" Giles figured that he might as well ask, there was no point in pretending that he hadn't noticed the injuries.
Sean sighed, sipping at his drink. "That there was... Someone tried to kill me, actually. They didn't quite succeed, but... it hurt. A lot, and for a while, I feared I wouldn't have me voice anymore."
"Who was trying to kill you, and why?" Giles was a bit worried. Was this some old criminal enemy that Sean had put away? A terrorist? A new criminal?
Sean sighed, looking into his mug as if for the right words. "Rupert... I'm a mutant. For a while, I was helping try to teach a group of young mutants how to control their abilities... that fell to pieces. As for who was trying t' kill me... another mutant." Sean looked almost guarded after he spoke.
Giles sighed, certain things falling into place. "Sean... it doesn't change a single bloody thing that you're a mutant. You're still a good man, if rather worn out and bruised a bit at the moment. I've learned a lot since I went out into the world, top of the list being that my father was wrong yet again. Humanity isn't as simple as 'this group is human and good' and 'this group is different and bad.' You used to laugh at me for thinking there were demons and vampires..."
"I owe you a large apology for that one. Remind me to tell you about some of the things we ran into... Did your father actually expect you to fight vampires with just a sharp bit of wood?" Sean looked up, eyes filled with memories, the sort that made a man older than his years.
"That... sounds like an interesting talk. As for my father... no, he expected me to sit in a room of old books and send a teenage girl out with a sharp stick to fight vampires. The Slayer... Demons and vampires are as real as mutants, my friend. And some of them can be just as confusing. There were demons we ran into with more humanity in them that some of the people, like that obnoxious principal or that appalling Dr. Walsh..." Giles sighed, sipping at his lager again.
"So, if you have this girl, this Slayer, why are you here? Where's she?" Sean sounded curious.
Giles sighed, for a moment lifting his glasses before putting them back on. "She doesn't need me there anymore. That was made perfectly clear. And because of some mistakes that I made, because things didn't go like they should have in all the bloody theoretical situations, I failed someone else. I'm taking her to England to try to help her get better... I've become a failure in my old age."
Sean grimaced, apparently thinking of his own recent experiences. "No more so than my efforts to guide the next generation of heroes. That was as big a fiasco... So, for the moment, I have nothing to do. Where exactly does a former cop, former mutant hero, failed teacher go next, Rupert?"
"If you have nothing else making demands on your time, go with us to England. We can catch up, and if you've been working with mutants... that could be the perfect preparation for helping Willow." Giles felt something like hope. Mutants had such a terrifyingly unpredictable range of abilities... surely if he could handle that, combined with teenage confusion and angst, he could help deal with Willow and her problems.
"What's wrong with Willow then? What happened?" There were more questions in his eyes, probably among them how teaching mutants would help with this girl.
"She's a witch, and a rather powerful one. But..." Giles paused, trying to consider the best way to explain. "I never found the time to teach her properly or find her a teacher. She started magic to help us, to help Buffy, and we didn't guide her, just asked more and more. Her relationship with her... well, it put tremendous strain on her personal life that she helped, and then when her lover was killed..."
"Is that when everything fell apart? The lass' lover died? That would be hard on anyone." Sean looked thoughtful.
Shaking his head, Giles tried to put things into words. "It's a bit more complicated. She's always been the one that everyone looked to for support, for a comforting ear. When Buffy died, everyone was so busy being upset and in pain that nobody was there for her... so she brought Buffy back. Then, that caused problems in her relationship... and her lover was killed when someone tried to kill Buffy. Willow... she dealt badly, and nobody was there for her. That made her decide to seek revenge on her own... and that's when things got very ugly."
Sean blinked a bit, apparently trying to make sense of everything Giles had said. "She raised someone from the dead? And the complication came after? Ahh... I can see why you think I might be able to help. I can deal with complicated. Some of the stories... But that can wait. If she won't have a problem with a mutant butting into her life, I can try to help. Might be able to not make such a mess of things." Sean looked partly wistful, partly hopeful.
"Good. I can use some help with this sort of... well, I was taught how to deal with the end of the world or attacking demons, not emotional tangles. I can use all the help I can get. As for the whole mutant question... Willow is not the sort to be bothered by that. Most likely, she... well, right now, she's most likely to sort of sit there and not react to much at all. Before, she would probably have you in this discussion on what you could do, and how does it work. She's very accepting... But right now, she's hurting." He had no idea how to help Willow. Maybe Sean could...
"Right then... two old men who've made a mess of their lives trying to put the poor lass back together. Here's hoping we have a bit of luck." Sean raised his mug for a bit of a toast.
Giles smiled, thinking that there might be a bit of hope for things after all. "Here's to better luck indeed. For all of us."
end Old Memories and New Failures.