Anya's pitiable sigh did it. It's what finally forced him out to search once again.
"I'll be out for the remainder of the afternoon, apartment hunting."
Xander gave him a sympathetic grimace. "Too bad your old place wasn't still available. I mean, you already knew where everything went."
Giles barely looked up as he gathered the section of the paper with the listing of available apartments.
Anya leaned toward Xander and whispered loudly, "I don't think we should encourage him, Xander. If we withhold support, maybe he won't stay after all." Xander's look chastised her. "Well, I don't understand. Just because Buffy came back, why does that mean he has to come back too?"
"Quite." Giles quickly put on his coat. "I'll be on my way then. You can handle everything on your own?" He glanced toward Anya but didn't wait for an answer. It was a rhetorical question. She'd been handling things on her own while he was away as she'd pointed out to him on several occasions.
Anya called after him as he exited the Magic Box. "Great. A new apartment. Go. Hunt. Catch. I'll make sure the customers are satisfied. I got the hang of it during that week when you were gone. You know, that week when I didn't think you'd be coming back."
Giles sighed heavily as he looked at another listing: cozy 1 bdrm, heat included, smoke alarm, no pets. He'd quickly learned the American codes for tiny and other elements lacking in apartments, but the novelty of sleeping on the Summer's couch had worn off quickly. And after the Halloween fiasco with Dawn, he knew he had to abdicate the parental duties that Buffy had foisted on him. She would be forced take a more active role as Dawn's guardian. A little distance would be good. He would be available for advice or to act as a sounding board but she had to take responsibility for Dawn.
As he left the second apartment complex he noticed a black Mercedes SUV with smoked windows slowly pulling up to the curb. Tinted windows made him nervous. Vampires were his first concern, but two large well-dressed men exited the car into broad daylight and he relaxed. Looking down at his paper once again, he didn't notice the two approach him. Suddenly they were standing on either side of him, much too close. He began to move away when the larger of the two took his arm and spoke.
"Mr. Giles, would you come with us please."
The implied command in the form of a question was clear. Before he could respond, he found himself expertly hustled into the car, which pulled away from the curb before the door closed. Tongue-tied at the expeditious completion of the abduction he looked around to get his bearings. In addition to the original two men, there was a driver and a fourth man in the front seat. This man, who wasn't as large as the first two, turned to face him.
"Mr. Giles, my apologies for such boorish conduct on our part. Let me introduce myself. Robert Henderson. These two gentlemen are my colleagues Wainfield and Emmons." The speaker waited for a response. When none was forthcoming he continued. "You're probably wondering what we're about."
Giles stared at the man, recognizing both the look and the tactics of the Council. He knew the information would be given in due time.
"I've collected you at the request of Quentin Travers."
Giles reacted before he could catch himself. "Quentin? What on earth does he want?" The last meeting with Quentin had been in the London offices less than a month ago, when he'd finally imparted the news of Buffy's death to his superior at the Council of Watchers.
"He wants to see you, Mr. Giles. We had to wait until you were alone, as Mr. Travers requested a private meeting. He specifically asked that none of your, uh, associates accompany you or know of the meeting."
A mild panic overtook Giles as he looked out the window trying to discern the route they were taking. "Are you taking me back to England?" he asked incredulously.
Henderson managed a condescending smile to go with his tone. "No, of course not."
"Quentin's in Sunnydale?"
Henderson just smiled and turned around.
Giles studied the men accompanying him, none of whom he recognized, and after a time asked the obvious question. "You're all Watchers?"
"We all work for the Council just as you do, Mr. Giles," Henderson responded and then added, "Rest assured, we're all on the same side."
Henderson saw Giles flick his eyes to the driver and said, "Yes, him too."
The car pulled up to the entrance of the Fairmont, the only posh hotel in Sunnydale. All but the driver escorted him inside where they took the elevator to the 5th floor. The room they entered was a suite and very plush. There, waiting patiently was Quentin Travers, imperious in his tweed, seated in a leather, winged chair reminding Giles of his last meeting with the man.
Quentin stood and approached Giles. "Rupert, how good of you to come."
"Quentin," Giles responded, remaining just inside the door as he quickly surveyed the room.
His three companions scattered, each apparently having duties. The larger of the goons, as Giles began to think of them since he couldn't remember who was Wainfield and who was Emmons, prepared tea on one side of the sitting room.
Quentin motioned for Giles to come into the seating area.
"What's going on, Quentin?"
"Nothing at all, my boy. Do sit and take tea with me." Quentin's tone proffered a touch of collegiality that Giles found unsettling and he hated it when he called him 'my boy.'
"I prefer to stand." The larger goon was suddenly upon him, offering a cup of tea. He took it but didn't drink, waiting for the shoe to drop, watching as Quentin presided over the room from his throne.
"I take it introductions have been made then?" Quentin asked, casting a glance at each of the men in the room.
Giles gave a curt nod. "Not in the most civilized fashion, but we've met."
Henderson approached Quentin carrying a file folder. Quentin stopped him with a sharp look and a dismissive wave of his hand. "Do sit down, Rupert, we have things to discuss."
Giles sat and reflexively took a sip of tea as his tension built. Since leaving England five years ago to become Buffy's Watcher, Giles had only a few interactions with Quentin Travers and none of them were easy on him and even less so on Buffy.
As if reading his mind, Quentin asked, "And how is your Slayer? Holding up after her ordeal?"
"Ah, problems then?"
"Some adjusting is necessary as I'm sure you can imagine, but she's doing very well."
Quentin leaned forward slightly with a look of curiosity that surprised Giles. "I'm intrigued. Has she spoken of her...time away? Any inside information on one of the greatest mysteries of life?"
Giles smiled inwardly. Good Lord, this can't be why Quentin's come all this way he mused, to delve into the secrets of life after death.
"She remembers very little of that time. What she may remember she's chosen not to speak of. I imagine it's not easy to discuss the horrors she faced in the hell dimension she found herself cast into."
Quentin settled back into his chair. "I see. Why do you presume she was in a hell dimension?" he asked cautiously.
"Because of the way she died." Giles responded without hesitation. "She dove straight into the vortex that was opening to Glory's hell. That was the point of the bloodletting ritual...to open a portal to her hell so she could return. Buffy dove..." Giles stopped abruptly, unable to continue as reliving Buffy's death became all too real again.
Quentin politely ignored the display of emotion and sipped his tea. "I see. A reasonable presumption I suppose."
Giles was tired of this old world game of civilized diplomacy and he glared at the man across from him. "Quentin, why are you here?"
"Ah, impatient as ever. Then I shall get to the point. We have business."
"Just as I thought."
"You are being recalled to England," Quentin stated without explanation and took a sip of tea.
"You're skills are needed there and will certainly be put to better use."
"This is ridiculous, Quentin. You've tried this before and it didn't work. You can fire me, but I won't leave Sunnydale."
"We aren't firing you, Rupert. On the contrary, the High Council has decided you are needed at the home office."
"But I'm Buffy's Watcher. That's my job, my duty."
"You are being reassigned."
"And I suppose you're planning on giving her a new Watcher? Because we all know how well that worked the last time." Giles paused and spoke more firmly. "You know very well that she won't accept a new Watcher."
"No, I doubt she would. I've seen for myself how willful she can be." Quentin eyed Giles before continuing. "The Council is also aware of her special peculiarities in that regard and has no plans to saddle her with a Watcher she doesn't want. We can't be wasting good people."
Giles flashed a smug look at Quentin, feeling confident he was going to win this battle easily.
"It's not a request, Rupert. I realize you've never been one to bow easily to the wishes of the Council but they are quite adamant in this and will not accept disobedience."
"This is ludicrous and you know it. Have you learned nothing from your interactions with her? Must I remind you of Buffy's discussion with you less than a year ago? I won't leave her and if you try to force me as you threatened in the past..."
Quentin interrupted, impatiently saying, "Yes, yes, I haven't forgotten all that but..." After a pause he met Giles' eyes and continued, "circumstances have changed." He waited for Giles to register this comment.
"How?" Giles asked.
Signaling with his hand, two of the men departed the room leaving only Henderson with Giles and Quentin.
"Giles, have you never once given a thought to why a new Slayer wasn't called when your Buffy died?"
Giles went green inside with the realization that he had never considered it. Never even thought about the next Slayer. That was someone else's problem. His thoughts were occupied solely with his Slayer even after her death.
"I see by your reaction that you did not. Well, I assure you it was foremost in the minds of the Council...once you deemed it prudent to inform us of the Slayer's demise, that is. It has, in fact, been the sole concern of the Council in these weeks since we've known. A Slayer dies, another is called. You know the canon as well as any of us. And the Council has always identified the new Slayer within twenty-four hours of the death of the previous Slayer."
Quentin studied the face across from him. "No Slayer has been called, Rupert."
Giles finally spoke, his voice hushed, "I hadn't...it never occurred to me." He thought back on those months and saw that it had never once crossed his mind, or the minds of the others. At least not that anyone stated. After Buffy's funeral they all just soldiered on. There was so much to do. Not the least of which was caring for a teenager who had been the focal point of the battle, and there was the ongoing fight against evil, which never stopped on the Hellmouth. With sadness he also realized that if a new Slayer had been called, if he had known about it, Buffy's death would have been real to him much sooner than it was. At the same time his trained mind began to pour over possible reasons for no Slayer being called. Finally, he looked at Quentin with a puzzled look. "Why?"
"We've been working on that very question. The answer seemed quite obvious once it was suggested." Quentin looked at Giles to be sure he had his full attention, "Buffy Summers was not at the time of her death and is not now the active Slayer."
Giles mind made the leap just as the words were spoken. He stared at Quentin and whispered, "Faith."
He stood and paced, glasses dangling in one hand, the other running distractedly through his hair as his mind moved in several directions at once. The implications of Faith being the Slayer, the only Slayer, were echoing through his brain. She couldn't possible be relied upon. She was unstable. She was in jail, for God's sake. On the other hand, Buffy would be able to slow down, take the time she needed in order to regain her equilibrium. How many times over the years had she complained of being the Slayer? But would she, when faced with the reality of it, give it up? Since she'd been back it seemed the only part of her life she was still engaged in, almost as a form of therapy. He turned to Quentin.
Quentin spoke. "Yes, we've thought through all the possibilities, too."
"I don't think you could have."
"Hmm, well, no matter." He shifted in his chair. "We do have a solution to this dilemma."
"We could extricate Faith from prison and reeducate her but that would take time, not to mention the messy business of getting her released. And while it's true that Buffy is no longer the legitimate Slayer, she has her powers, skills and is quite capable of doing the job. Thus, the Council has decided to leave Buffy in place."
"Then I stay, too."
"No, your orders are clear. You return to England."
Giles turned, squarely facing off with his superior. "Quentin, you're boxing yourself into a very difficult situation, one you know you can't win. Buffy won't accept a new Watcher, nor will she accept my leaving. I won't accept my leaving, for that matter." As he watched Quentin quietly listening with a smug look on his face, Giles' frustration with this ludicrous plan grew. "If the Council insists on this action, I'll resign and remain in Sunnydale. I don't need the Council's permission to work with her. You've all done very little to assist us as it is. We've proven we can do it without you."
Quentin motioned for another cup of tea. "Rupert, you've developed quite a streak of drama during your years in America."
Giles remained standing.
"And you're not thinking far enough ahead. The Council has to plan for the future Slayers, not just work with the current one. There is reasoning at work here that goes well beyond your and the Slayer's personal wishes. We are planning the future."
"Fine, then you reclaim your active Slayer and let her do the job. We're no longer interested in working under your regime."
"If you force our hand, that's precisely what will happen. But there will be ramifications."
An experienced wariness and mistrust etched on Giles' face as he tried not to glare at the man making veiled threats.
"The Council cannot allow a rogue Slayer to roam."
"Precisely why you can't let Faith take over."
"I'm speaking of Buffy."
Giles' eyes tried to pierce through Quentin to understand where he was going with this.
"If Buffy refuses to continue her work under the Council's care, then we will reintroduce Faith as the rightful, active Slayer. But under those circumstances the Council cannot allow a young woman with the strength, skill and knowledge of a Slayer to go out into the world, unfettered. At the very least we would be forced to take her to England, where, if she cooperated, she could conceivably live a pleasant life. If she didn't cooperate, the Council would be forced in another direction." He raised his eyes to meet Giles. "Do you fully understand the ramifications now?"
Quentin saw that he had Giles' full attention, as his eyes were laced with a mixture of hatred and fear.
"Of course, Ms. Summers seems quite content to continue her work and the Council is pleased to have her carry on. There is no need to alter the arrangement. Faith will complete her prison term and Ms Summers will remain in Sunnydale doing what she does best. And you will return to England as instructed. Oh, and Giles, I think it best she know nothing of this discussion or the possible options for her future. She might find it...distracting."
The room was oddly icy cold. His throat constricted as he understood their plan and he knew that Buffy would never cooperate. "Quentin." His voice resisted. "Quentin, you can't think... Let me stay with her. She needs me."
"The Council has made its decision. Your orders are clear."
"Then at least give her a Watcher, someone, anyone to help her. Wesley even."
"Wyndom-Price is no longer with us."
Quentin grunted. "No, although he might as well be. He's left the Council. I don't know where he is or what he's doing."
"Buffy needs a Watcher. All Slayers have Watchers. There's never been an exception."
"Nonsense. Your Buffy's tenure has been full of exceptions. Speaking of which, she still has the assistance of her friends and a capable record of dealing with the Hellmouth. We've been observing her and she seems in fine form."
"You've been spying on her? For how long?"
"It's neither here nor there. You will be returning to England as soon as possible. It should be easy as most of your belongings are still there from what I understand."
Giles was having trouble thinking clearly, most of the blood had drained from both his face and his brain it seemed. He poured himself another cup of tea and drank in silence for a moment, regaining his thought processes.
The idea of deserting his Slayer, abandoning her, especially now, was horrific. Quentin would never blatantly say she would be eliminated...killed...but the thinly veiled threat was clear. Giles had nothing left to fight with. They held the trump card. Her life.
Possible scenarios ran through his mind. Every one brought him to the same conclusion. She would lose. She could resist and might even evade them for a while but they would be better prepared this time and she would be theirs in the end. And there was more at stake for her now. Dawn could quickly and easily become a pawn in a struggle. The Council now held the power she once had and they were prepared to act on it.
"There's one thing you've neglected to factor into your plan," Giles said as the expression of patronizing patience in Quentin's face forced Giles to clench his already tight jaw.
"Buffy won't accept my leaving. What makes you think you can convince her?"
"I have no intention of convincing her. That's your job, dear boy." He paused a moment. "Find a way to make her accept it. Certainly, details of the situation would be best left confidential. And I suspect knowing she's not the true Slayer might prove counterproductive to her, so I would avoid mentioning that also."
"You mean I should avoid the truth." Giles knew that Quentin's 'suggestions' were, in effect, orders.
"If you prefer to think of that way, yes."
"What reason can I possibly give her for leaving now of all times, after I've just returned, after she's just returned? She knows me too well. She would never believe I'd go of my own accord."
"You have a creative mind, Rupert. Use it. I'm sure you'll think of something plausible." Quentin stood ready to dismiss Giles and held out his hand. "I expect to see you in my office by week's end."
Giles ignored his hand.
"Henderson will take you back."
"Don't bother, I know my way."
The public library was the first quiet place he could think to retreat to. He found a corner of the second floor stacks and sat, thinking, pouring over the implications of Quentin's words, trying to find a way around him. It was impossible. The Council had thought of every ploy, not that there were many left to them in this case. If Faith was placed in Sunnydale as the Slayer, Buffy would be expected to go to England, something she'd never do. To leave Dawn would be impossible but add to that the fact that Buffy knew Faith would never fulfill her duties as Slayer. There would be more death and destruction than ever. With no real sense of focus, Faith would very likely be dead within a short period of time. And if Buffy remained without his assistance.... Suddenly his mind choked as he grasped the strategy and ultimate goal of the Council.
'Good God, that's it.' Giles shuddered. The Council wanted both Buffy and Faith dead. Then a new Slayer would be called. One they could control.
Giles sat in the waiting room outside Quentin's office at Council Headquarters in London. Normally this would irritate him to no end, waiting. But this time, he barely had any sense of passing time as he replayed in his mind the conversation with Buffy for the thousandth time.
BUFFY: Trying to, to what? Desert me? Abandon me? Leave me all alone when I really need somebody? GILES: I don't want to leave-
BUFFY: So don't. Please don't
There were unshed tears in her voice. She was angry and bitter, as he knew she would be, but she never once questioned his reasoning. Certainly she did need to take more of a hand in Dawn's care, but he would never, in reality, desert her with the ludicrous idea that it would force her to stand on her own feet, especially now. His only saving grace was that she was too angry with him to discuss it any further. She just walked out.
The day before, that very surreal day of mystical singing and dancing, the day they all learned the horrible truth. She'd been in heaven, not hell. Giles closed his eyes and dropped his chin to his chest as he waited out the flood of emotion.
He hadn't time to even process the news when he had to tell her he was leaving. Then came the amnesia. He was grateful for it in a cowardly way. The time went by without the arguments or the recriminating looks from the others that he'd expected and Buffy didn't hate him for just those few hours. Things couldn't have been more strained when he finally left Sunnydale. He made sure to adhere to Quentin's timetable, not wanting to force any action from him. There had been no time to sit and talk with Buffy about her revelation, even if she'd have been willing.
Before leaving he'd cleaned out his Sunnydale bank account with another check for her. That was at least one thing he could do for her. He planned to send more money once he accessed his savings account in England. But that had to wait until he'd met with Quentin. He'd barely made it back by the deadline of week's end. And yet, the man purposely made him wait.
He thought about calling Buffy as soon as the meeting was over, or at least Dawn, Willow, or Xander, if Buffy refused to speak to him, to make sure they were dealing with her news.
"Mr. Giles." A youngish man in a blue suit with a red tie entered the room offering his hand. Giles raised his gaze to meet the man's dark eyes and it took a second to recognize him. It was Henderson. "How good of you to come."
Giles shook the offered hand but said nothing. Henderson continued, "Mr. Travers isn't available to meet with you just now and asked me to stand in."
Giles smirked at the tactics meant to show him his place, now that he had obeyed the Council's orders against his own judgment.
"Please come into my office and we'll chat."
"Mr. Travers is pleased to know that you've decided to comply with the wishes of the Council."
Giles sat silently as the man rattled on about the Council's desire for him to have a rest. Possibly spend some quiet time in his new home in Bath. No need to worry about the Slayer or any Watcher duties for a while. All will be well, and on and on, until, finally, something Henderson said registered in his brain.
"And there is one final stipulation that Mr. Travers regrets he didn't mention when you met in Sunnydale."
Giles eyes locked on the man speaking to him, aware that, whatever it was, Quentin had intentionally left it out until now.
"It will be in everyone's best interest for you to have no contact with the Slayer."
Giles felt like he was listening to a foreign language. "What? What did you say?"
"The Slayer. We expect no contact at all. No phone calls, no letters, no email, no messages carried by others, nothing."
"That ridiculous. What's the point in that?"
"That includes her friends and any acquaintances. Mr. Giles, you'll just have to trust the Council. They know what's best. I was there when Mr. Travers explained the terms to you. You do understand the situation clearly, don't you?"
It seemed to Giles that it took him endless effort to respond. No contact? None, at all? My God, if he'd have known this before. "I just don't see the benefit of that. It would only do her good to know that I'm just a phone call away. She may need help..."
"Mr. Giles," Henderson looked at him with patronizing indulgence. "As far as your Slayer is concerned, you abandoned her. What could she possibly need or want from you now?"
Giles swallowed hard and stared into the man's eyes.
The end (or possibly not)
Please post a comment on this story.
Title: The Departure
Author: SusanMD [email]
Details: Standalone | G | gen | 24k | 03/03/04
Summary: Why did Giles really leave Buffy in season 6 after her return from the beyond?
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