Title: Life With Father:Sylvester Giles
Author: Sweetdoggie (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Summary: Part 2 of the Life with Father series.
Disclaimer: No permission has been granted to use the characters. They are owned by their creator, Joss Whedon, Twentieth Century Fox, UPN, WB, and Mutant Enemy. This story is non-profit and is intended solely as entertainment. No copyright infringement is intended.
Sylvester Giles read through his son’s Watcher diaries with awe. From the very first entry, it was like reading the most action-packed adventure novel. He was astounded at some of the feats young Buffy had accomplished. The vampire Luke, for example, had been a virtual killing machine for centuries, yet she had tricked it, taunted it, killed it, and survived to become even stronger.
He read how she had faced down the witch who wanted to relive her glory days as a cheerleader—something so alien to his understanding that he made a note to ask Rupert to clarify it. Reading between the lines, he saw that his son, for all that he didn’t realize it, was falling in love.
The story of the computer science teacher was desperately sad. He knew Rupert had been fond of her, maybe even allowed himself to believe that he loved her, but he also knew that it was a false love. He was displacing his supposedly inappropriate feelings for his Slayer even that early in their relationship.
He had laughed till his side hurt over the adventures of “Ripper” and the Band Candy. He was sure that Rupert had cringed for months over that incident. He wished he could have met the Slayer’s mother. It would have been most amusing.
Sylvester heard Buffy get up and have her morning shower. Shortly thereafter, he heard Rupert leave his room and begin preparing breakfast. This was an orderly household, despite it’s oddities. He put his son’s journal down and stretched, wishing he wasn’t quite such an old man. The Hellmouth and its assorted dangers was exhilarating. Rupert’s mum would have loved the challenge. He sighed, thinking of his lost love, gone nearly fifteen years now. What would she have thought about Rupert’s Slayer?
All in all, he supposed his dear wife would have liked her very much—except when she hurt Rupert so badly over the years. She would have made allowances, then, she would have taken young Buffy by the ear and explained a few things to her. He knew she would have held the girl when she lost her first lover, would have understood, if not condoned her need to run. Mary Margaret wouldn’t have tolerated Buffy ignoring Rupert during her freshman year in college either. How he wished she were still with him. How much better things would have been for everyone.
He had no doubts that Mary Margaret would have set Joyce straight about a few things as well. Buffy’s life would have been a great deal less fraught with parental battles, had the older woman been around. He heard Rupert greet his young woman and decided after five minutes that it was probably safe to enter the kitchen.
Entering the kitchen, he rolled his eyes to see his son and the Slayer holding hands, gazing into each other’s face. He cleared his throat. They looked up at him, smiling.
“The Scoobies will be here in an hour,” Buffy told him. “It’s research day.”
“We decided about six months ago, that it would be a lot easier if we could head off some of the apocalypsy things that are always happening around here. We have a research party once a week and look up any strange things that we’ve stumbled upon,” Buffy explained.
“Apocalypsy? I see,” he repressed a grin with difficulty. Meeting his son’s gaze, he watched him blush. “Rupert? Has this paid off for you? Apocalypsy-wise, that is?”
Giles frowned repressively at his father, remembering suddenly the older man’s wicked sense of humor. “It has, as a matter of fact. We found out a group of Buffy’s ex-schoolmates were attempting to take over Sunnydale last year and put a stop to it. Luckily, they were morons.”
“Warren was smart,” Buffy corrected him.
“Warren was frighteningly bright and gifted, but had the moral sensibilities of a fly.”
“Jonathan wasn’t exactly stupid either. He was just sort of…pathetic.”
Giles nodded, conceding her point. “Andrew was stupid.”
“Andrew was so dumb, he couldn’t walk and chew gum.”
Sylvester hid a smile behind his hand. “Is there any chance of having a cup of tea?”
Giles grinned at him, knowing very well he had changed the subject to avoid laughing out loud. “Would you care for some eggs, father?” He set a mug of hot tea in front of his father.
“No, but if you could find some toast, that would be fine.”
“Toast coming up!” Buffy said as she popped two pieces of bread into the toaster. “Giles always wants me to eat a bunch of heavy food first thing in the morning, but I just can’t do it. I’m much better off with toast myself.”
“You need to balance your nutrition, Buffy.”
“Ok, I’ll eat a peach too.”
Rupert sighed and got a peach from the vegetable crisper. Buffy liked them cold. He handed her a small plate and a knife and watched fondly as she pealed the peach with an expert hand, feeding him a slice when he bent over to kiss her shoulder.
The toaster popped up and Rupert went to retrieve the slices adding two more. He lightly buttered the bread and stacked it on a plate before passing it to his father.
“Want some jam? Giles buys the good kind,” Buffy offered.
“The good kind?” Sylvester asked. As far as he knew, jam was jam.
“Yeah, it has real fruit.”
“Doesn’t all jam?”
Buffy looked at him sadly, dismayed at this level of ignorance. “Not hardly, Watcher dad.”
Sylvester snorted tea up his nose at her diminutive for him. Rupert spent the next five minutes patting his father’s back, offering him Kleenex, and hovering solicitously. Buffy was seemingly oblivious, pretending that she didn’t know what had set him off. She finished her peach, stood and kissed Rupert goodbye before dropping a kiss on top of Sylvester’s head.
“I gotta book. Don’t want to be late.” She tore out the door, snagging the car keys as she ran by.
“You let her drive?” Sylvester asked, amazed.
“Ah, I see. Where is she going?”
“She generally drives over to Willow and Tara’s place to pick them up for research day.”
“I’ve never heard of a Slayer who could drive worth a damn,” Sylvester commented.
“You still haven’t,” Giles conceded. “She is, ah, better than she was, however.”
“How is she with other machinery?”
“Better than myself on some things, abysmal on others.”
“Typical for a Slayer. Their brains aren’t set up to worry with mechanical problems.”
“Hah! She can program the VCR—something that I must admit, I lack the necessary skills to do, but she can’t run any appliance more complex than the washer. I strongly suspect it is complete lack of interest rather than ability that limits the girls.”
“She seems happy.”
“Relatively speaking, she is. If any other girl had experienced a tenth of what Buffy has undergone, I suspect they would simply curl up and hide.” Giles stirred his tea and thought about it. “I’m not saying that she hasn’t suffered from depression, but she manages to pull herself out of it for the most part. I also suspect that she conceals a great deal of her feelings from me and the others.”
“Tell me about the others.”
“Xander Harris, a very sweet, loyal, brave, pain in the arse. He’s working in construction these days. He has very protective instincts toward Buffy. I suspect if we had found him as a child, he might have made a very, very good Watcher. He is currently involved with Anya, sometimes known as Jenkins. She was a vengeance demon for eleven centuries, lost her magic charm and became human. She’s getting better at it. Mostly.” He sipped his tea. “Next we have Willow Rosenberg, a truly beautiful soul. She had a bit of a problem with magic addiction last year but is back on a steady keel now. Her lover is another Wicca girl named Tara, also very sweet. Occasionally, we have help from a very odd vampire named Spike, er, William the Bloody. Buffy also has a raft of acquaintances in the demon world that she is on friendly terms with.”
“She’s friends with vampires and demons?” Sylvester asked in astonishment.
“Fallout from the Hellmouth,” Giles shrugged. “We don’t trust Spike as far as we can throw him, but he has been helpful on occasion. He is quite in love with Buffy.”
“Yes, well…yes, it is, rather.”
“How is he going to take the news that Buffy is no longer available?”
“I don’t know. Perhaps we can stake him.” Giles suddenly felt like the day was really looking up.
“There’s something I’ve never understood, Rupert. Why did you let her take up with the first vampire?”
Giles looked shamefaced. “Actually, I was foolish about that. I knew that she had some interest there, but I never expected for even a moment that she would act on it. She was only sixteen. I thought she was still a child.”
“You know better.”
“I do. It’s hard to explain. I didn’t want to see her as an adult. As long as she was a child, she was safe. I could be around her and not give in to my attraction. The minute I began thinking about her as an adult, that changed. And, to be entirely fair, we had no indication that anything so horrific would occur to Angel.”
“I see. For your own protection, then.”
“And hers. Who would ever have supposed that a vampire would fall in love with a Slayer? For that matter, who would suppose that two of them would do so? Buffy attracts males like a magnet. I can’t even begin to tell you how many young men have been attracted to her over the years.”
“Very interesting.” He would have said more, but he heard the front door slam open then closed and then the laughter of young people filled the air.
Buffy walked in followed by a beautiful red-headed young woman and a handsome, dark-haired boy. Behind them trailed two blondes.
He stood as Buffy performed the introductions.
“Sylvester Giles, I’d like you to meet my friends, Willow, Xander, Tara, and Anya.”
He greeted them each in turn.
“Wow, so you’re Giles’ dad. That’s pretty neat. And you were a Watcher too. I wouldn’t want to do that job.” Willow babbled when she was nervous.
Sylvester smiled. “Some are Called.”
“Great to have another guy on board. I love the fems, but it gets lonely for me and the G-man.” Xander grinned at the look Giles swept at him.
Tara simply smiled her welcome and said she was happy to have him here. Anya, on the other hand, seemed fascinated by him, staring at his lined face with deep interest.
“Does it hurt to be old?”
Sylvester looked rather stunned by the question. “I have the normal aches and pains that come from having eighty years, nothing special, however.”
“Now that I’m human, I’m trying to learn how to do stuff like mortals do. I just wondered. I’ve never been old before. Actually, I’ve never met an old person. Not a lot of call for vengeance from the elderly, as a rule.”
“Rupert tells me you began your life as a human, surely you knew old people then?”
She shrugged. “Mostly, people were old at forty, and I never met anybody who was eighty. I guess there must have been people who lived that long, but not in our village.”
“You were Norse, yes?”
“Yes. My name was Aud then.”
“Aud. An interesting name. Strong.”
She smiled at him suddenly. “I didn’t like it then. It sounds better when you say it.”
Xander came up and put his arm around her shoulders. “It’s like I’ve been saying for years: everything sounds better with a British accent.”
The group laughed and went to their regular places to discuss the latest demon de jour.
“I’m seeing more activity in the docks lately,” Buffy mentioned. “I got jumped there last night. Six of ‘em and they were waiting for me. They knew I was the Slayer too.”
“You got them though, right?” Xander questioned.
“Yeah, dust city.”
“Do you think there’s a nest?” Willow asked with interest. “I’ve got a new spell I’d like to try.”
Sylvester looked interested. “What does it do?”
“Holy Water Rain.”
“Neat!” Xander said with a grin.
Tara shook her head. “Don’t ask for a demo. It took four hours to clean up last time she did it in the house.”
Willow blushed. “It was a little more pervasive than I was counting on.”
“That could be good,” Anya pointed out. “Sometimes those buildings in the docks are very large.”
Willow grinned, surprised at the support from Anya who usually criticized her.
“So, I thought maybe tonight I would do the stealth thing,” Buffy told them. “See if I can find out anything by laying low.”
“Good plan,” Xander said. “You need backup?”
Buffy thought about it. “Not tonight, I think. This is just reconnaissance. I’m not intending on fighting if I can help it. If I can find their nest, I’ll bring in Willow and Tara, with you, Anya and Giles backing us up with crossbows.”
“How does an ex-vengeance demon feel about fighting for the other side?” Sylvester asked her.
“Xander is my boyfriend. He fights for Buffy. That makes it OK. Besides, I really never liked vampires all that well. They’re so…needy all the time.”
Sylvester was fascinated. “Needy?”
“They have so many restrictions and special needs… As far as demons go, vampires are fairly low in the hierarchy. They are weak and vulnerable in ways that natural demons aren’t. They can’t go out in the day, holy symbols hurt them, holy water will burn them, they can’t cross running water, they can’t enter a home without invitation, they all have obsessive-compulsive tendencies, and they can be totally destroyed by a poke with a sharp stick.” She shrugged. “They just aren’t that scary.”
“But they are very strong,” the older man added.
“Yes, but Buffy is stronger and smarter too.” She gazed dispassionately at her blonde friend. “I know that for humans, vampires are frightening. I’ve seen worse though.” She thought about it for a moment. “I’ve been worse.”
“Would you be able to spend a few hours with me sometime and tell me the story of your life? I’m deeply interested in the stories you must have to share,” Sylvester didn’t notice the stunned looks he was gathering from the Scoobies.
Anya brightened considerably. “You want to hear my stories? Most humans find them disturbing.”
“I would love to hear your stories,” the elderly Watcher told her sincerely. “If you don’t object, I’d like to write them down in my journal for future generations. It’s not every day Watchers have such an opportunity, you know.”
Anya beamed on him. “You are very intelligent. I like you.”
Giles stepped forward, clearing his throat meaningfully. “Er, father…”
Sylvester rolled his eyes. “Oh, please, Rupert. I’ve been a Watcher for sixty years. Do you really think I’m too weak to deal with a bit of harsh reality?”
“No, no. Of course not. But, ah, that is, Anya’s stories are a bit, ah, graphic.”
“Good. Then I shall be sure not to miss details,” the older man frowned at his son. “Don’t be such a wet blanket, Rupert. I don’t know where you got this streak of maidenly modesty, but it’s rather annoying.”
Giles simply grinned and shrugged. “Ah, well. You’ll have to see for yourself, I suppose.”
Xander patted the elder Giles on his shoulder. “We’ll put in a stock of ice cream for after. You’ll need it.”
Sylvester merely sighed. “I’m sure nothing Anya can tell me will be that disturbing. I’ve been in this business a rather long time, as was my mother before me. You children might have grown up on fairy tales. I was told some rather darker stories.”
“Wow,” Buffy commented. “Great way to warp your kid. At least you didn’t tell Rupert till he was ten.”
“His mother wouldn’t let me,” Sylvester explained. “Mary Margaret was rather strict about what Rupert could and could not do.”
Buffy turned to Giles and let her eyes smile at him. “I wish I could have known her.”
“She was a lovely woman. I miss her still,” Sylvester said gruffly. “I was just thinking this morning how much she would have liked you.”
“That’s good.” Buffy remarked. “Seeing as how we’d be related and all.”
Willow perked up, catching Buffy’s remark. “Related? Because Giles is your Watcher?”
“No.” Buffy exchanged a glance with him before turning back to her friend. “Because Rupert asked me to marry him yesterday and I said yes.”
There was complete silence from the Scooby gang. Finally, Xander broke it by saying, “What?”
“Giles and I are getting married,” she repeated.
“Why? Is it a Hellmouth thing?” Willow asked seriously.
“No,” Buffy told her. “It’s an I-love-Giles-and-he-loves-me thing.”
“But, but he’s old!” Xander blurted out. “Why don’t you ever love normal guys?”
Buffy rolled her eyes before narrowing them and shooting Xander a harsh look. “Giles is normal and yeah, he has a few more birthdays than I do. So?”
“Buffy, he’s old enough to be your dad!” the boy whined.
“Xander, he’s not my dad. I’ve never thought of him as my dad,” she shuddered. “Geez, give me a wiggins why doncha?”
Sylvester Giles had heard enough. Forcing his face into its sternest expression, he frowned heavily at the young man. “My son may be a few years older than Buffy, Xander, but true love knows no boundaries. You are simply going to have to get over this ridiculous notion that Rupert is old. I’m old, he’s only slightly seasoned.”
Xander tried one last shot at reason. “Buffy, what would your mom say?”
“She’d probably have said he was too old, that I was too young, that I didn’t know my own mind, that I was using him as a father substitute…all the stuff that you’ve come up with. Then, she would have listened to me when I told her that I love him more than my own life and that the thought of being with him makes my heart sing. We love each other and that’s enough for the two of us. We want our friends and family to be happy with that, Xand. I want you to be happy for me and for Giles. Haven’t we sacrificed enough so that this little shred of happiness can be ours without pain?”
Xander had the grace to look ashamed. “I’m sorry, Buffy, you too, Giles. It was just a shock, that’s all. I guess, when you think about how things really are, it kind of makes sense. I’ll get used to it. I mean, I got used to Angel, and Riley. And I actually like Giles.”
Giles still looked rather snarky. “Well, I for one am terribly relieved. I have a feeling that Anya would be upset with me if I had to beat you into a bloody pulp.”
Anya looked up. “Please don’t do that, Giles. Then he wouldn’t be able to have sex with me till he was well. I would have to nurse him back to health. It would be tedious.”
Sylvester smiled into his hand, a gesture that he thought might become habitual around these children. “Rupert, we can’t have that.”
Giles, catching his father’s grin, controlled a smirk of his own. “No, I suppose not.”
Everybody settled down and pulled out their notebooks, ready to do research. The welcome addition of Giles’ father helped move the research along, though they really didn’t have any specific thing they were looking for. Giles had the children concentrate on auguries and portents, while he and his father studied the Codex. Rupert showed the older man the initial prophecy about Buffy facing the Master and dying.
“It was due to Xander that she was only gone from us for a moment,” he explained.
“Where were you during all this, son?”
Giles looked a touch embarrassed. “Buffy knocked me out. I was going to go in her place.”
“That wouldn’t have worked,” Sylvester pointed out reasonably. “It was her destiny, not yours.”
“I know, but I couldn’t send her to her death.” Giles was visibly upset.
Buffy looked up from her book having heard the entire low-voiced conversation. “It turned out OK, Watcher-dad. It was lucky that Giles stayed behind because somebody had to fight the hell beast thingy that came up through the library floor. It was really gross too. Tentacles and everything.”
“Tentacles?” He turned back to Rupert. “You fought a Shaggoth and didn’t think the Council might be interested? That I might not care to know?”
Giles shrugged uncomfortably. “You know I’ve never been in the best graces with the Council… They probably wouldn’t have believed me anyway; I had no proof. And I didn’t tell you because I didn’t wish to give you additional cause to worry. Besides, it wasn’t as if I had actually killed it. I cut off one tentacle is all.”
“Oh, I see. Just a tentacle.” Sylvester Giles was wound up. “And what happened to the severed tentacle when the Hellmouth closed?”
“Well…we chopped it into bits and dissolved the remains in Holy water.”
“I remember that!” Xander interjected, having cocked his ears to catch the conversation. “That was so disgusting you wouldn’t believe it! Of course, we’ve seen lots more disgusting things since then but up till that point in my life, that was the worst.”
Buffy nodded her agreement. “It was pretty bad. Remember when I cut the tail off that snake demon the frat boys were involved with? That was kinda nasty too.”
“For pure gut wrenching horror, how about when Impata’s arms came off in my hands?” Xander countered. “You never had somebody just rip apart on you.”
Buffy considered. “No, that was definitely gross beyond the telling of it.”
Willow snorted. “Please! Neither of you horked up a snake!”
Sylvester looked fascinated. “Er, horked up a snake?”
“When I did the ceremony to raise Buffy from the dead, I coughed up a big, nasty snake.” Willow shuddered.
“How about that time that Cordelia and I were trapped in Buffy’s basement while the bug man waited to crawl all over us?” Xander countered with a shudder.
“It was pretty bad for me when Glory stole my mind,” Tara commented softly. “I don’t have as much experience as the rest of the gang with awful stuff, but that was horrible.”
Anya snorted. “Try losing all of your power and being stuck in a mortal body and having to go to high school!”
They all laughed. Xander put his arm around her. “We never had the power to start with and all of us had to go to high school too, you know.”
“You’re human. It’s normal for you to do that. I was a powerful demon, worshiped in some places as an avenger of wronged women. Then, poof, I’m an idiot mortal that could be hurt by anything! It was depressing.”
“Do you still miss it, Anya?” Sylvester asked her quietly.
“Sometimes. But I had an opportunity to go back and I didn’t take it. It just wasn’t me anymore.” She sighed, depressed.
“But surely, that’s a good thing?” he questioned her.
“If you’d been doing the same thing for a millennium, and having a pretty good time while you were doing it, don’t you think you’d miss it?” she asked him.
“Why, yes. I suppose that I would. I was a Watcher for sixty years and I miss that.”
“You do understand then,” she murmured.
He patted her shoulder comfortingly. “I do understand, but I hope that you will be happy in this new life you’ve been given. It isn’t such a bad thing, being human.”
Anya’s eyes glistened for a moment with telltale tears, but she blinked them back and smiled at the old man. “Yes, I think things have gotten better. Xander was stupid last year, but we worked things out.”
Sylvester raised an eyebrow, but didn’t comment. If she wanted him to know, he felt sure she would tell him. “That’s good.” He patted her shoulder again. “Would you like a cup of tea?”
She beamed at him. “Yes, I would. Tea always seems to help Buffy and Giles.”
That evening, with Sylvester’s blessings, Rupert took Buffy out to dinner and a show. He had hoped for something more glamorous, but Buffy just laughed.
“Dinner and a show, Rupert, my Rupert: how utterly normal. It’s the most wonderful thing ever. I promise.”
“You aren’t disappointed?” he said, seeking reassurance.
“No, I swear. You know that normal is something I crave. That you can give me this little slice of it means a lot.”
The movie turned out to be a romantic comedy, very light and funny. Sunnydale theaters, for some reason, avoided showing many horror films. Giles bought them both a bucket of popcorn and sodas and used the darkened theater as an excuse to cuddle her. They watched the film and laughed, having a good time. Neither of them saw the blond vampire staring at them from across the theater.
Author's Chapter Notes:
Giles' dad meets the Scooby gang.
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