Greater Good part 9/27: Spinning Yarns
Spoilers to Season 7.

Next night...

Giles was woken by a brisk shake of his arm. He gazed wearily up at the unannounced visitor and scowled at the unwelcome features of his sire.

"Roid-rage vamps are out for a bite," Spike puffed quickly on his freshly lit cigarette as Giles slowly sat upright. The Watcher raked his fingers through his mess of curls as he tried to clear his hazy mind. "Already claimed two pretty young things trying to catch the last bus outta town. The beasties are making like gang-bangers from hell, wrangled through town by a nasty group of Bringers. Buffy's sounding the alarm."

"Your point being?" Giles leaned back leisurely, uninterested in Spike's report.

Spike raised a brow at the suddenly cocky Watcher. "We're on, Rupert. Or would you prefer a quiet evening of tea and biscuits, alone with a good book?"

"Actually, that sounds quite..."

"Spare me the old bookman routine. I know what you really want. I know what you're feeling. All chained up and trapped like an animal..." Spike took a seat beside the vampire, "...when you long to be out there, hunting."

"You haven't a bloody clue what I long for, Spike." Giles growled.

"Don't I?" Spike snickered and jumped back to his feet. "We're more alike than you want to admit, Ripper."

"Don't call me that!" Giles couldn't stand to hear that name being tossed around so lightly by such a contemptible tongue.

"Potentials are going out for a little rehearsal before the final curtain. Everyone's going along for the fieldtrip. We're playing chaperone."

"Is that what Buffy wants?" Giles waited for what he needed to hear.

"She didn't argue the point, if that's what you're going after. Just told me to gather the usual things and lead the girls to the South end of town."

"Let's not keep her waiting, then." Giles got to his feet and held out his arms, intentionally rattling the chains to get Spike's attentions on them. The blonde vampire gave a clever smile as he stepped forward and examined the chains.

"Alright then, shows on!" He slapped a pair of heavy weight handcuffs around Giles wrists and looped a smaller chain around the center. He released Giles from the wall restraints only after he was sure of the security of the portable binds. Giles couldn't help but smile at the precautions.

"Were these requested by her as well?" he asked softly.

"Naw. Just wanted to keep you in check. Avoiding more bright ideas for suicide. If you play it nice, I'll downgrade you to one cuff."

Giles was glad to hear Buffy hadn't asked for the extra protection. He didn't want to worry her any more than necessary. But he figured he would abide by their rules, for now. Even after all the heartbreak and foul words, he needed to see her. So he would suffer the indignities to remain by her side. And though he would never admit it to Spike, he did crave a taste of the night.

Giles allowed Spike to lead him upstairs, tethered a slight distance behind him. He opened the basement door and gestured for the Watcher to make his grand entrance. A nervous hush fell over the room as Giles stepped passed Spike and into the living room. Young faces of the audience watched with eager anticipation to see what he would do, examining him from head to toe. As the others, they were curious, trying to glimpse some evidence of the beast hiding within. A couple of the girls whispered to each other in the back of the room and Kennedy shot them a discouraging glare. Though it wounded him to know the young pupils who had once trusted and respected him now feared him, he understood it was necessary. After all, they had good reason to be guarded. He was a killer.

"Chains!?" Willow stepped forward, objecting to the leash Spike had put on Giles. Faith joined Willow on the other side of Spike, also bothered by the sight of the restraints.

"Just until he isn't... um..." Spike was hesitant to admit the goings-on in front of the Potentials. They had been kept in the dark to many of the details of Giles' return.

"I think we can trust G," Faith defended the Watcher.

"It's for the best," Giles said. Someone moved in the shadowy corner of the room and Giles caught a glimpse of Dawn peeking between some of the girls. Her eyes were worried and sad as she gazed down at his handcuffed wrists.

"Then I'll take these!" Without warning, Xander stormed through the crowd and snapped up the chains from Spike's grip. He began toward the door, unintentionally towing Giles forward with his possessive gesture. Giles lowered his head as a subtle smile temporarily overshadowed his depression. Ridiculous as the situation was, he was enjoying the battle for power.

"Fine. Right. You walk the bloody Watcher tonight," Spike grumbled and hurried past the duo and out the door. "I got better things to do than baby-sit!"

Faith chuckled as Spike disappeared down the street, amused by something as she watched the vampire hurry off to join Buffy.

"What's so funny?" Willow asked curiously and Xander paused to listen in on the explanation.

"I'll tell you later," she snickered.

Giles took a few steps forward to finally reach the outdoors. It was invigorating to feel the sting of the chilled night air. Unbeknownst to him, Dawn had shuffled up next to Xander and cautiously taken control of the chains that still held him captive.

"Dawn?" Xander questioned but let her take the chains. Giles turned back to see what the hold up was and his gaze shifted to the possessor of his leash. A subtle smile curled along his lips with Dawn's concerned expression.

Xander motioned to take back the chains. "I don't think..."

"I'm all yours," Giles bowed to the young lady and politely stepped aside, letting her move ahead. He let the chain go taut between them before moving. He wanted her to feel in complete control of him. He wanted her to feel empowered. She tugged gently on the leash and Giles picked up his stride, careful to keep a slight distance as they moved along. The other girls fell in line and the gang was on the move.

At first, the unlikely army was quiet, busying themselves with their own thoughts. After a few blocks, the young ladies began to huddle together and the unavoidable whispers started.

"This is just wrong!" One of the girls mumbled to another, slowing their pace to discuss the weird events amongst themselves.

"He looks like Mr. Giles to me?" Another girl responded and a few others shuffled up to join in on the debate.

"Not that, the chains. I mean, what can he possibly do all chained up like that? How's he going to protect us?"

"Mr. Giles doesn't need his hands to be deadly," Andrew challenged dramatically, catching up with the inquisitive girls to offer his vast knowledge on the subject.

"What do you mean?" Vi asked as a few others fell back to join the growing group of listeners.

"Don't let his mild-mannered persona fool you. Rupert Giles is a skillful practitioner of magicks," Andrew immediately fell into his storytelling mode, ready to weave a tale for any of the Potentials that had interest. "It seems the Watcher was a rebellious youth. He hasn't always been the straight laced, uptight British librarian we've all come to know and love."

"Wait." Amanda interrupted, "Librarian?" A few of the girls snickered.

"Hey... being a librarian on the Hellmouth is like being a..." Andrew paused in mid-whine, unable to come up with a good metaphor. "Well... it's rough."

Faith overheard the conversation and decided to listen in on the retelling of the early days of the Scoobies.

"So, Mr. Giles knows magic?" Amanda asked.

"Amanda. My dear, sweet, innocent, naive Amanda," Andrew continued on with his tale as they slowly marched along. "Mr. Giles manipulated the black magicks with little regard for the consequences. Craving the thrill of adrenalin, the desire for untamed sexual experiences, and the exhilaration of disobedience, he raised a dangerous demon that proved uncontrollable and deadly."

"Wait, we're talking G here... right? Mr. Goody-two-shoes himself?" Faith couldn't believe what she was hearing. Giles never showed a hint of that side to her. She felt somehow cheated. "How do you know this? Something tells me he wouldn't just hand over this juicy gossip."

"I have my ways," Andrew's eyes narrowed and he offered nothing more than a cunning nod in defense of his sources.

"Anya told you, huh," Kennedy suggested and Andrew shot her a glare.

"Hey! That's confidential," he whined. "So you want to hear the rest or not?"

"Spill it," Faith couldn't help her curiosity.

"Ok... so, last year... when I was evil and all. Some friends and I... well, we weren't so much as friends than..."

"Hey. Focus. Giles!" Rona barked.

"Fine, Willow went all veiny and evil and tried to kill everyone. If it hadn't been for Giles and the magicks, the whole world would be... um... gone or whatever." Andrew concluded.

"Giles saved the world?" Faith snickered, impressed by the news.

"Kinda. Xander did the actual saving part..."

"So how come he hasn't shown us this magic?" Rona asked skeptically.

"Because, my simple Potential friend, the very same magic that he's capable of wielding turned Willow all veiny and evil. So he's probably a bit gun shy to be all showy and stuff, on account of the up and coming apocalypse."

"Why do I feel like we're only getting half the story?" Vi grumbled.

"I was there. That's what happened and I stand by my account!" Andrew said defensively.

The group of Potentials marched on, continuing their discussion as Giles tried feebly to ignore the whispers carrying over the trivial space they'd allowed for themselves. He'd overheard the whole thing and decided to make it a point to discuss the entire relaying of personal information to Xander who most likely told Anya and so on down the grapevine.

The embarrassment of his checkered past wasn't what weighed heavy on his mind as he walked behind the young woman leading him by a chain down the abandoned streets of Sunnydale. Giles was concerned for Dawn. He wished there was some way he could reach her, some way he could apologize for his actions. Perhaps his little gestures of servitude would offer some satisfaction for her but she would need more if she were to heal from her wounds, physical and otherwise. He wanted her to know that he could never hurt her. A disconcerting internal voice echoed the First's words. 'You mean never again, don't you?' He clenched his jaw, incapable of vanquishing the taunting voice in his mind. Desperate to divert his mind from his troubling memories, he pulled his restrained hands apart, forcing the cuffs to cut into his skin. He watched as blackish, lifeless blood dribbled to the cracked pavement below. With every step he increased the tension, focusing on the pain in a futile attempt to forget. He would pay dearly for what he'd done.

part 10...