Fic: Where to Begin
Must we do this today; I've gotten little sleep.
I know...it's required. Sorry, not the best way to start. Please excuse my irritability; I'm in a bit of a mood today.
Where did we leave off last session? Oh yes, I believe I left off at Buffy's senior year. The year I lost my sense of duty...a formidable year, we were up against an invincible semi-demon and a rogue Slayer.
Most of my battles were domestic in nature but significant nonetheless. Sunnydale High administration was preventing Buffy from returning to school due to speculative charges from the previous summer. The school principal, a known nemesis to Buffy and who was questionable in his origin, contacted Mr. Summers. I swear the man was a weasel but that would be an insult to weasels.
Anyway, Summers finally decided to take an interest in his daughter's affairs by having me arrested on some trumped up charges; sexual misconduct or some such nonsense. It was a short-lived drama due to the absence of any real evidence. Buffy.... bless her well-meaning heart, unintentionally aided them in their accusation when deciding to speak up on my behalf in court. She offered up an explanation that was quite easy to misinterpret to any civilian. Told of how I was a special kind of tutor for her extracurricular activities and how I aided her with extra credit assignments...my god...it was lovely.
I know what you're thinking...how can I take pleasure in such a memory. Simple, it was pure Buffy. She would defend me to the ends of the earth but destroy me in the process with her own words. Not intentionally mind you, she simply lacked the discretion to know better.
In the end, we prevailed but under conditions that made it difficult for me to do my duty as Watcher. I was to remain more than 40 feet from Buffy at any moment while at the school, just as a precaution to avoid any future indiscretions I suppose.
Buffy, being the rebel she was tested these boundaries with a maniacal enthusiasm. She would mock the rules with seemingly innocent actions of disregard. Meeting me at my car in the parking lot was her favorite act of defiance. If she spotted Snyder, the principal, she would offer all sorts of attention to me including the occasional hug. I treasured those frivolous moments. The enjoyment she would take in testing authority...
I'm doing it again; I apologize.
I understand why I'm here...the purpose of these sessions. You want to know when it happened and how. I'm getting to it.
The facetious tone to our relationship continued and I was loosening my grip on her, allowing her to tease and test the School Administration and Council authority. She began to show up in the library and would explain it away as an accident, very hard to accept under the reality of my employment. I worked there and the powers that be knew she was aware of that fact.
I asked her to begin reporting to me at the only private location we could converse freely, my place. The arrangement went well, though I had to supply many pizza's and snack foods to keep Buffy's group of friends happy.
I was amazed they never grew weary of pizza but Buffy loved pepperoni and mushrooms. She would pick off the pepperoni and set it aside until she had eaten the slice down to the crust then she would take a bite of crust along with a piece of pepperoni. Every slice...every pizza, the same routine.
Well, we all became a surrogate family to both Buffy and Dawn and I enjoyed
the visits. But then the visits became less frequent and I wondered why there
was a change. Since the private visits were lessening, I decided to risk seeing
her in public, always with a cautious eye watching for the law.
Sorry...it was something she said...she thought the training was...
I'll just continue.
Anyway, I guess we had been spied on while practicing in the library.
The powerful narcotics in the chocolate caused chaos within the adult community; reverting its victims to a teenage-like state. I was no exception. The spell hidden within the treat unveiled my inner most feelings and animalistic urgings; the most dominant of which was my secret attraction to Buffy. I decided to seek her out while under the influence of the spell, behaving like a hormone driven youth.
I can't believe I'm telling you this. I swore it never happened.
Oh well, can't keep you hanging in suspense now can I?
I went to Buffy's house, snacking on the delightful chocolate bars along the way, blissfully unaware of their affect on me. As I approached the home, I overheard the raised voices of Buffy and Mr. Summers arguing. I peeked in the window, watching the confrontation through the drawn lace curtains. Seems the school had contacted him, making him aware of the unsupervised contact between Buffy and I.
I don't remember the exact words spoken that night, but I remember what set off my juvenile rampage. After Summers suggested Buffy was behaving as a slut by seeing me, she defended herself by pointing out how the frequently absent parental figure accusing her seemed to like sluts and often chose sleeping around with them over being a father to his own flesh and blood. He backhanded her with a blow that couldn't possibly have hurt Buffy physically, but would crush her emotionally. I acted without thinking, going on pure instinct.
Full of unhindered rage, I busted down the door and tackled him to the floor. My head pounded with one impulse, protect Buffy and I did...or I thought I was when I began to beat Summers. I landed hard, vicious punches to his head, punishing him for striking my...Buffy. But there was more to it...more to my madness.
Needless to say, Buffy was paralyzed in shock from both of our actions, only stopping me when her father's eyes finally closed and he was out. I didn't stop right off, no...it took her maneuvering a chokehold around my neck and pulling me off his unconscious body before I could recover from my temper.
By then the damage was done, Summers face was a bloodied mess and Buffy was beside herself. She dragged me outside and tossed me to the dampened lawn. When she asked me what I thought I was doing I answered in a very uncharacteristic fashion for what she was accustomed to.... saying something similar to "defending the honor of the bird I fancy," or some such nonsense.
She just stared at me with complete confusion, as if unable to recognize me in my juvenile state. I took one last look at her and lost all my inhibitions, I stood up, brushed myself off, strutted confidently up to her and kissed her. Out of the blue, without warning, without explanation, without romance...without...w-without reciprocation. Buffy pulled away from my advances and simply ordered me to go home, in a delicate uncertain tone. I did, after laying waste to a few garbage cans and mailboxes along the way.
My behavior that night was repugnant. If I could take back that moment I would. Well, perhaps not, but it hurt to see Buffy disappointed in me. It hurt to know I'd revealed something I wasn't even sure was there. I cared for her much more than I wanted to admit. She never asked me to explain my actions that night, and I was very thankful for that.
I woke the next morning to the authorities knocking at my door and a very swollen fractured left hand. I was hauled off to jail. A brisk but colorful experience, perhaps I'll tell you about it sometime.
After spending a couple nights there, the Council bailed me out and the real fun started.
I had to face a panel of my peers in a kind of internal affairs inquiry at the Watcher's Council covert compound. Buffy's recent defiant behavior had brushed off on me and they considered my behavior to be a tad hostile to their questions. Travers, my superior, decided to adjust my attitude by offering some information I was unaware of. He informed me of Buffy's secret rendezvous with a former...with someone I don't care to explain further.
I felt betrayed; Buffy had not only deceived me but had disrespected me. Her deception further confused my unclear feelings toward her.
I attempted to return to my normal routine, throwing myself into playing the part of the dutiful Watcher but thoughts of Buffy's betrayal were eating away at me.
During a profoundly hot Sunnydale Christmas, I found myself at a crossroads when the focus of Buffy's affections and source of her betrayal came to me for help. I didn't outright refuse his request but I also didn't offer up my services and he fled in an incoherent state. Then Buffy came to me and pleaded for help. I peered into those intense, precious eyes, determined to refuse and found myself utterly weakened by her. So I did what I'd always done...buried my feelings, my pride, myself and helped.
Meanwhile, the Council caught wind that I'd helped Buffy aid a known vampire and threatened me. Well... my job actually, my position at the school and the Council. They ordered me to go through with a barbaric test of Buffy's skill to mend their trust in my loyalties. I refused. They urged. In the end I succumbed to their wishes and performed my part in the Cruciamentum.
When I look back at that, I can't help but doubt my intentions. I always wonder if I was driven by anger or revenge. She'd deceived me and rejected me you see. Or perhaps I wanted her to become more dependent on me? Perhaps subconsciously I wished the whole ordeal over, ending with the finality of Buffy's death. These are the warped thoughts that prey upon me when I lay down to sleep. I will never really understand what drove me to that decision or the one that followed.
I couldn't allow her to go through with it. I told her of the test and my part in it. The pain on her face...I...I couldn't bare...
Forgive me...a moment please.
She hated me. I hated myself. The Council fired me. All within a matter of a day, I'd lost everything I'd held dear; most importantly the unique relationship I'd established with Buffy.
It's been said that adversity can bring people closer together. Once Travers left, I felt as if a weight had been lifted. His control over me had ceased with the conclusion of my title. I was free to be whatever I could be to Buffy. But would she have me?
I stared apologetically at Buffy's bloodied and beaten face, not knowing how I could mend the broken trust befallen both of us. Buffy struggled to clean her wounds and I couldn't just watch, I had to help. As I approached her, ready and willing to accept any apprehensiveness or rejection from her, she gave none and allowed me to tend to her. It was an act of forgiveness...an act of compassion, one that I was so grateful for. I took her home and we went about our business as usual and I had hope...hope for what could be.
To complicate the already tense situation, a new Slayer had made her presence known to us. With all that was happening, Faith was unfortunately cast aside from the workings of the group. Buffy's deception had also aided in Faith's defection to the semi-demonic Mayor. The arrival of Buffy's new Watcher also tangled up our normal routine. Our little group of unlikely champions had changed to an unmanageable band of well-meaning rogues. We stumbled through misfortunate hardships such as power-hungry psychotic Watchers, hostage negotiations, alternate realities and personas thereof, an apocalypse, the ascension of the Mayor to his true demon form, graduation, and changing relationships within the group. We worked through each and came out triumphant in the end. But there was one battle I'd lost that year.
Though the night played out as I suppose it should, the Prom was quite different then I'd pictured it. I'd come to realize that I...I love Buffy. I intended to tell her, anticipating her to quite rightly be appalled at the notion of someone like me showing an interest in her. But I needed her to know how I felt and I needed to know her feelings toward me, whether or not they were of the nature I'd hoped.
Just as I was about to reveal my heart, Angel arrived in the appropriate attire to whisk Buffy off her feet and grant her one perfect high school moment. Once again, I masked my emotions and encouraged her to go to him, deciding my place was where it always had been...watching from afar.
Though I encouraged her to go to him, it wounded me to see her do so. After all, this was the man...no, demon who'd managed to destroy the only intimate relationships I had forged in Sunnydale. True, he'd been an asset to us at one time but at a terrible loss. So I watched as the young woman I'd fought so desperately not to love went affectionately into the arms of darkness.
Ah, but here's the rub...after all the pain and anguish he'd caused her and I...as they danced, she was happy.
I ached.... literal, physical pain in my chest that I couldn't bring her that, that I couldn't give her what she needed. She had to find contentment in the arms of a demon. At that instant, I lost my hope.
So when I said I lost my sense of duty, I meant in the truest sense...both as a Watcher and as whatever I was or ever would be to Buffy.
The year ended with the destruction of the high school, the destruction of my alter ego as librarian, so I took it as a sign to rebuild myself...for better or worse.
I see our time is up once again. It's as good a place to stop as any. Until next week...