Games in the Dark
Buffy scampered out from under Spike and jumped up. "Oh god! Oh no!" she ran to he door.
"Did Giles finally show up?" Spike got to his feet and ran his fingers through his bleached locks. "And to think, I missed the look on his face..."
"You... you..." Buffy's face reddened with fury toward the vampire. She tore the door from its hinges as she rushed to go after Giles.
"Too late, luv. You're damaged goods now," Spike searched his pockets for his smokes. The whole ordeal couldn't have gone better. "Job well done!"
As Buffy stumbled out into the front lawn, the puzzled faces of the whole gang greeted her. She anxiously searched for Giles who she spotted walking slowly toward his car.
"Hey Buffy... you ok?" Dawn asked as she rushed up to her sister.
Willow could see Giles stern expression, jaw tensing and hands clenching into fists as he reached the vehicle.
"Giles!" Buffy yelled as she rushed toward him.
Giles reached for the door latch and pulled, locked. He quickly rummaged in his pockets for the keys and realized that in all the commotion he'd left the keys in the ignition, locking himself out. He slammed his fist on the roof as Buffy hurried up to him with the gang anxiously following.
"Giles...please let me explain," she pleaded. Giles kept his back to her.
"What happened... what'd we miss? What's going on?" Xander asked and looked over at Willow who had a bothered expression.
"Buffy, are you ok?" Dawn asked again.
"Giles... I'm sorry. Please..." Buffy gripped his arm to turn him toward her but the upset Watcher pulled his arm from her grasp, resolved not to look at her.
"What did Buffy do? What is she apologizing for?" Anya asked.
"Come now Rupert..." everyone turned to see Spike saunter out from the complex. "You had to see this one coming. After all, her track record with vampires is pretty clear." Spike smiled as he stepped onto the grass. The gang looked to Buffy with hopeful skepticism.
"You and Spike?" Xander growled.
"Buffy? You didn't..." Willow sighed and looked at Giles just who stood there, keeping his back to the crowd. She knew what had happened.
"It wasn't like that... it was nothing." Buffy said defensively.
"Aw Slayer, that's not what you were moaning a moment ago," Spike chuckled.
He moved so swiftly, even the vampire missed the motion of Giles powerful
fist flying toward his face. The broad knuckles connected and Spike fell
back, completely off balance. As he cocked his fist back, ready to strike,
a shock of pain shot through his head and he howled in agony as the Watcher
landed another blow to his face. Spike felt his nose snap under the beating
and he collapsed to his knees, covering his face in defense.
"Um... should we stop this?" Tara asked nervously.
"Buffy... you and Spike? What in hell were you thinking?" Xander asked in shock.
"I wasn't thinking. It was just... Spike took advantage of me while I was upset," Buffy searched Willow's eyes for understanding and saw only disappointment.
"Xander... help him! Spike's defenseless," Dawn urged.
Xander approached the one-sided battle and knelt down beside the infuriated Watcher as he pummeled the almost unconscious vampire. "Work the right side a bit more... and don't forget to break his fingers!"
Giles seemed to take depraved pleasure in beating the defenseless vampire. Savoring every jolt of pain that shot up his hand as his fist connected to the demons skull.
"Perhaps we should do something... Spike is turning purple?" Anya said calmly as Dawn rushed up to Buffy. "Though it is a lovely shade. Reminds me of the time..."
"Stop him... stop this!" Dawn insisted.
Buffy walked up to Giles caught his arm just before he was about to end the confrontation with a wooden stake. The furious Watcher gasped to catch his breath as he looked wildly at the Slayer.
"Giles... please. Not like this," she pleaded.
Giles enraged expression dissolved into a calm recognition of Buffy's request and he released his grip on the stake, offering it to her. She took it and helped him to his feet. After straightening his shirt and brushing off his jeans, he managed some control and collected his temper. He glanced at Buffy with a hint of a pained smile.
"We're through," he said clearly and began to walk toward his building.
"Good, I don't think Spike would survive..."
"No!" Giles interrupted and glanced back at Buffy with a serious glare. "We are through." He spoke with a deliberate callousness that stunned her then continued his way toward his apartment. Buffy realized what he'd meant.
"Does that mean he's quitting?" Anya asked. "I get to keep the store, right?"
"Did Giles just quit as your Watcher?" Dawn shot Buffy a concerned glance.
"I think it's more complicated..." Willow explained.
"I have to go talk to him... explain what happened," Buffy started after Giles and Willow caught her by the arm.
"Buffy... now's not the time," Willow suggested.
"Wil's right. G-man is pretty worked up. Give him some time to think about things," Xander concurred.
"What should we do with Spike?" Tara asked softly.
"I say we leave him... let the sun do our talking," Xander snorted.
"I'll take him to his crypt," Dawn offered. "But I expect some details later. There's more to this than you're telling me."
"Let's go home Buffy. Give Giles some space for now. We'll work this out tomorrow," Willow headed toward Xander's car and the rest of the gang followed her, leading Buffy away as she continually glanced back toward Giles place.
The younger Summers girl stayed behind to help Spike, kneeling down beside the unconscious vampire. She watched the car disappear down the street then turned her attentions to Spike. With a quick slap, the vampire jerked awake and scampered away from Dawn.
"Where'd the bloody bastard go? We weren't done yet!" Spike wiped the blood from his brow and licked at his bloody fingertips.
"Go home Spike. Stay away from Buffy. This is your one and only warning!" Dawn said firmly and started to head toward Giles apartment building.
"What gives lil bit? Thought you'd be kinda happy big sis and I were making with the romance crap?" Spike stumbled to his feet and lit up a cigarette.
Dawn paused and glanced back at the vampire with a slim smile. "Spike, you honestly think I would choose you over Giles?" She snickered. "You're stupider than you look!"
Spike watched as Dawn marched into the building, completely surprised by her change of heart. He thought she'd had a crush on him until that moment. It didn't matter. After the Watcher left town, Buffy would come crawling back to him.
As Dawn approached Giles apartment, she noticed he'd left the door wide open. She quietly stepped up to the doorway and peeked in. The distraught man sat on his couch, staring blankly at the floor with a half empty bottle of scotch resting loosely in his hand. He looked exhausted, pathetic. His saddened features brought back unwanted memories; he looked just as he did when Buffy had died. It made Dawn's stomach churn, seeing him like that again.
"Go home Dawn," he mumbled.
Dawn defiantly stepped inside and strolled over to sit in a chair opposite him. "We need to talk."
"Go home," Giles sighed and took a swig of scotch. Dawn noticed his raw and bloodied knuckles and leaned forward, removing the bottle from his grip. Giles brow wrinkled with irritation at the young girl's action.
"I think this stuff has done enough tonight," she walked to the kitchen and dumped out the bottle's contents in the sink. "Drinking is so stupid. Makes people do stupid things."
Giles sank deeper into his couch cushions, knowing where Dawn was going with this train of thought. She returned to the living room and knelt down before him, cautiously taking his sore hand in hers and tenderly wiping the wounds with a damp dishrag. His anger dulled as she carefully examined his bruised and battered hand. It made him smile, watching her small and gentle fingers guiding his hand as she tended to his injuries.
"I don't know what happened tonight...or any other night for that matter," Dawn smiled. "But I do know that she loves you and I think you love her."
"Dawn, you don't understand..."
"Shut up!" Dawn interrupted and she motioned for him to give her his other hand. He followed her directions, enjoying her grit. "Whatever happened... whatever Buffy did was a mistake. Remember mistakes? Humans make them occasionally...even Watchers."
Giles went to speak up and Dawn shushed him.
"She's lonely, Giles. You haven't seen it cause you're busy with the store or Slayer training but she's very lonely. You're lonely too." Dawn stood up and joined Giles on the couch as the Watcher considered the determined young lady speaking her mind. "Now, I'm not cupid or anything but it doesn't take a genius to see how close you two are."
"Dawn, Buffy and I have a complex relationship. There are things you don't understand. Complications and..."
"Shut up! Don't make me tell you again!" Dawn ordered. "Buffy loves you, needs you. And I..."
Giles forehead creased with concern as Dawn suddenly grew shy, struggling to speak her next words.
"I-I love you too. I need you, probably more than Buffy. I can't let you go cause of some stupid mistake. Please don't leave!" Dawn begged.
"I don't expect you to understand this Dawn but what Buffy did..." Giles took a deep breath. "Her past and present behavior shows me just how incapable of..."
"Giles, she really does love you. Give her a chance to show you. Give her a chance to make it up you," Dawn's pleading eyes made Giles heart melt. He couldn't refuse her.
"I'll stay... for now," he mumbled and Dawn smiled with relief.
"You won't be disappointed!" She jumped up elatedly and paused in her quick celebration. "I mean you won't be disappointed again."
"Dawn... I'm not remaining here to act as Buffy's Watcher or as her companion. Let's be clear... I'm staying for you," he explained.
Dawn's smile soured a bit and she shrugged. "Well... it's a start!" She seemed to skip out the door and Giles began to regret his weak resolve. He stared at his damaged door and considered his actions the night before. Had he driven Buffy to act so irrationally? There was no excuse for her behavior but Giles felt a tinge of guilt for rejecting her.
He was growing weary of replacing that door. He just couldn't keep nice things.
Continued in Cold Front