Prisoners part 2
Giles awoke to the sight of dismally lit brick, the unforgiving hardness of the wooden bench pressing into his back, the stink of mold on stagnant air, and sporadic drippings of the faucet. He groaned curses.
"You're awake." Buffy said quietly a short distance from him.
"Yes, I am. But rather wish I wasn't." He gingerly traced his wound with a finger. What should have been ragged flesh was already healed over. And there was a sour tang in his mouth, one all too familiar to Giles as evidence of darker magicks.
"What have you done?" It was asked gently but accusation was plain in the words, instantly setting her into a defensive stance with arms cross before her, closing herself off.
"What I had to." Buffy couldn't look him in the eye. It was a purposeful convenience, masking her face behind a golden curtain of hair.
He didn't want to pry it from her, hoping she would see his concern and be reasonable. "Buffy."
"I don't want to talk about it. Can you move? How do you feel?"
Though her questions were a transparent diversion from his, Giles didn't have the stomach to argue. He braced the edges of the bench beneath him and slowly shifted, bringing his torso up causiously as he turned to face her. "I've had better days but it would seem the damage is mostly healed."
"Good. I'm glad." She refused to face him and it worried Giles more.
"Really? I couldn't tell with you hiding yourself away."
She snickered like a child caught in a lie. "What do you mean, 'hiding'? I'm right here."
"Then let me see you, Buffy." He wasn't scolding. He wasn't demanding either. There was no inflection but that of a simple request, one that left little room for refusal unless inviting a challenge.
Buffy heaved a sigh as if put out, but obliged him anyway. With a flick of her hand, she tossed her hair back and quickly adopted an impassive expression. What he saw was a different person. The features where familiar, deceptively delicate and as beautiful as they always were and forever would be. But her confidence was gone, replaced by ugly, penetrating bruises along her swollen eye and split lip. Her wrists, nervously concealed by fidgeting hands, had similar markings of struggle. He could only imagine what secrets lay beneath her clothes. It was maddening trying to bite back his fury.
"How much did he take?" He asked calmly, overcompensating for his anger.
"Enough." She responded defensively, teeth clenching with notice of his pity. "Don't look at me like that, Giles. I'm fine."
"I wish that were true."
"I am. Really. Peachy and getting peachier by the minute."
"Are you hurt, besides the external symptoms of his tender affections?"
"Don't. Just don't, okay?"
"No, it's not okay. Nothing near okay."
"You were dying, Giles? What else could I do?"
"Let me die."
"That was never an option and you know it."
"Yes it was!" He jumped to his feet, fueled by the adrenalin of anger. "It was a bloody sensible option yet you dismissed it as you always have. Settling instead to pander to a vile leach of a man so entirely beneath you the mere thought of it sickens me." He stopped himself, swallowing down harsher words begging to be heard. Then forced his tone to soften as he continued. "It was your freedom, Buffy, your responsibility and you threw it away on a sliver of a chance and for what?"
"For you! I threw it away for you, damn it!" She was trembling, fists curled tightly and eyes shimmering with furious tears. Then in an instant, it all melted away, leaving a sad, lonely child where a determined and strong young lady should be. "Do you know what you said to me, Giles? Do you remember what were going to be your last words before you left me?"
"No." It was a lie and suddenly the faucet was an eager distraction from her interrogating gaze.
"You told me you loved me. More than that, you said I should never doubt that you love me. That's what you said. How dare you lay that on me then expect me to just let you go!"
Giles considered his options carefully before responding. It was useless. No matter what explanations he crafted, no matter what words he hid behind, he couldn't find the courage to admit or deny what scared him more than anything. "After all we've been through together, it should come at no surprise that I would care deeply for you, Buffy, as I hope you would me."
"You're not getting off that easy. You could have said you were proud of me, like you did before. That you couldn't have wished for a better Slayer or friend, like you did before. You told me you loved me, Giles. I need to know what that means."
"It means what it means, Buffy. What else can I say?"
"The truth," Giles echoed, exhausted, and met her gaze. "The truth is I never expected to see you again. What you heard at that moment was the final wish of a dying man. One sadly undermined by your refusal to follow through with my intentions."
"You wanted to die." Her expression hardened, embittered by realization. "All this stiff upper lip, resolved face was a front. You wanted a way out and took it, using me to do your dirty work and making everything hunky-dory by giving me the old forgiveness farewell. Now you're all pissed off that things didn't go your way and looking to smother me in guilt and blame. You wanted to die, didn't you?"
There it was, a strange sort of courage. "And what if I did?"
Her lips parted as a million responses battled to win her tongue. Then her jaw tensed shut, her hands curl to fists and her eyes blazed. Giles readied himself for an assault.
"Then fuck you for passing judgment on me." And with it came her fire. "I... I can't even look at you." She turned her back on him and moved to the door. She hammered her frustrations a few times and instantly, Vik appeared with a wink and a grin.
"Missed me, Darling?"
"Yeah," Buffy cast a cold glare back to Giles. "I did."
Giles watched silently as the guard unlocked the cell door and let Buffy out. Vik smirked, making it a point to ogling her arse as she disappeared beyond the door and from Giles view.
"Feelin' better, Pops?" The guard chuckled boastfully, licked his lips and blew Giles a kiss before locking up and following after her.
Once Giles was certain they were out of range, he cocked back his arm and swung around fast, slamming his fist to the brick. The jolt of pain was nothing near as disturbing as the images filling his mind. But he consoled himself with reason. He knew with every chance Buffy had crossing through that door, the closer she was to capturing freedom. And Giles swore that one way or another, she would be free.