Warning Signs: Part 2

“Stupid, stupid, stupid!” Buffy repeated the word as if addicted to the sound of it echoing in the night, mocking her. She stared at the cement sidewalk beneath her, focusing on the memories of the spectacle she’d made of herself.

“Not that way. He’d deserved to know but not that way. Stupid, stupid!” She paused with the sound of a twig cracking, alert and ready for action. Nothing. She continued her therapeutic rant.

“How could I do that…just blurt it out there…in front of everyone…in front of him. Stupid, stupid, stupid.”

“What’s stupid?” Spike came out of the shadows and walked cautiously up to the irate Slayer who continued past him. He followed after her. “What’s stupid? Come on…I want to hear all the juicy tid-bits.”

“Spike…how long where you there? Forget it…it doesn’t matter! Go away!” Buffy tried to step up her pace, gaining distance temporarily until her unwanted shadow caught up.

“I can take a hint, Slayer. You don’t want to talk, fine. I’ll just give you your space. Can’t say Spike doesn’t follow the wishes…”

“Why are you still here?” Buffy slowed to a snails pace, watching Spike falter to backtrack his steps.

“You look troubled. Can’t have the Slayer moping around all depressed and defenseless like.”

“I’m not defenseless!” Buffy glared at him.

“Too bad.” Spike grinned and lit a cigarette. He decided to try again. “So…care to tell me what’s got you all hot and bothered then?”

“None of your business.” Buffy took a sharp right into the cemetery, trying to outmaneuver Spikes insistent trailing of her.

“Hmm, I’d have to say boy troubles!” Spike smiled and stopped, waiting for a reaction.

“What do you know about it?” It was Buffy’s turn to backtrack, ready to pound the information out of Spike.

“Nothing…not a thing. Just know the look, luv. Know the warning signs. Soldier boy giving you problems?”

“He’s so over!” Buffy started to walk further into the dark areas of the cemetery, hoping for a few victims to make an appearance. Spike ran to catch up, intrigued with this bit of news.

“So, Slayer’s solo?” He smiled. ‘Now’s my chance…she’s vulnerable.’

“Not quite…why am I talking to you?” She stopped and looked at Spike. “Why do you care? Go away,” she waited to see him leave but he raised a curious eyebrow and cocked his head to the side.

“What do you mean…not quite?”

“Riley and I had a fight that got out of hand. I admitted I loved…loved…” Buffy realized too late who’d she just confined in. “None of your business!” She gave up hope of being left alone and began to march into the darkness again.

“You love who?” Spike asked, a glimmer of hope filling his silent heart.

“Buffy?” Xander’s voice came from behind them.

“Who do you love?” Spike grabbed her arm anxiously. She pulled away and took a step back.

“None of your business. Leave me alone,” she began to walk, trying to avoid the oncoming gang making an unscheduled appearance in her angsty soliloquy.

“Buffy, wait up!” Xander ran up with Willow, Tara and Anya following close behind.

“Guys, kinda want to be alone right now. Part of the whole exiting in an embarrassed frenzy thing.”

“Giles thought we should keep an eye on you.” Willow explained, somehow hoping she’d allow them to stay if he wished it. “He scared off Riley…it was so butch.”

“Yes…quite macho indeed. We should get back there, to the money.” Anya suggested.

“Bloody hell, Giles?” Spike threw his arms up. “The bleedin’ Watcher’s got you all fluttery and gah-gah!” He stomped away in utter disbelief of what he’d already felt was hiding below the surface of the Watcher-Slayer relationship. “Right…I can deal with this. Not gonna let another pillock take what’s rightfully mine!” Spike disappeared into the darkness with the gang ignoring is ravings like irritating background noise.

“What’s he going on about?” Xander asked.

“I don’t know. Probably up to something…plotting our deaths and all.” Willow suggested.

“Good…I could use a distraction right about now.” Buffy tried to smile but was too embarrassed. “Was it as bad as I remember it?”

“Buffy, no…it was so sweet.” Tara smiled.

“Yes. It was a heartwarming display of your inappropriate feelings toward your Watcher and father figure. Now lets get you back to the Magic box. I haven’t closed out the register yet.” Anya explained and tried to walk back to the main gate, blocked by Xander’s arm.

“Inappropriate?” Buffy looked at Xander who shook his head. “Are they? Are my feelings toward him wrong?”

“Of course not!” Xander said, eyeing Anya with a disappointing glare encouraging her to choose her words more carefully.

“No…Buffy. Your feelings are so natural. After all you’ve been through together, all you’ve fought against…of course you love him.” Willow hugged Buffy to reassure her they weren’t all wigging out.

“Compared to some of your other award winning choices for significant others, Giles is a major improvement.” Xander smiled and gave her a brotherly squeeze as well. “Though I can’t say I understand the attraction.”

“Oh, I can,” Willow blurted out and quickly realized she’d said it out loud. “I mean I did…at one time. Not now…icky, boys…ick!” Tara smiled at Willow's mumblings.

“Mr. Giles is unique. He’s…he’s like a knight…a gentlemanly knight,” Tara agreed.

“You’re just saying that cause he accosted Riley with a sword. If he’d used a garbage can you’d probably see him as a sanitation worker,” Anya rolled her eyes, growing impatient at this alien human behavior. She wasn’t getting used to this being human thing any time soon.

“Giles did what?” Buffy’s eyes widened with dread.

“Oh…no…Riley’s fine. Giles just…um, insisted on him leaving,” Willow explained. “He told him to stay away from you.”

“Using the not-so-dull end of a sword to make his point, “ Xander smiled, remembering fondly the sissy-faced Boy Scout’s expression of shock at Giles actions.

“He did? What did he do after Riley left?” Buffy remembered his warm smiling bloodied face and wanted to cry.

“He’s worried about you…as usual. Sent us after you…to make sure you’re ok. You are ok right?” Willow said.

“He’s probably worried about the money. It’s my job to count the money. I need to get back to the shop.” Anya began to fidget impatiently.

“Just go,” Buffy said, looking at Xander with an understanding nod. “Go with her, I don’t want anyone alone tonight.”

“I second that…goes for you too!” Xander smiled and winked at his emotional friend. He hurried Anya out of the cemetery, giving her yet another talk about proper and polite conversation as they exited.

“Buffy…I don’t know Mr. Giles very well but I can see how he cares for you. He has deep feelings for you.” Tara said, worried she was overstepping her place.

“Giles is so into you he can’t focus on anything else. I mean…he didn’t leave after that whole Dracula thing and he….” Willow covered her mouth, she’d said too much.

“Leave? Giles was going to leave?” Buffy looked at Willow completely stunned.

“Darn…oh darn, he made me promise not to tell. But he didn’t leave…right. So that breaks the binding verbal contract…the situation changed so the promise is null and void,” Willow tried to defend her slip of the tongue.

“I think we’re way past that little secret Willow. Might as well tell her now,” Tara giggled at Willow’s awkwardness.

“During the whole Dracula incident, Giles was having me digitally record his personal library.” Willow explained.

“Yeah, I remember,” Buffy smiled at the memory of Giles eagerly explaining the order the text should be in Willow’s database, trying to guide the logical referencing of his many books. She’d ignored him, choosing to imagine how he’d look in tight black leather pants and flowing silk shirt.

“I teased him about getting a life and he said that was what he was trying to do. He said he was going back to England and all the database stuff was in preparation for his departure.”

“Giles was going to leave?” Buffy couldn’t imagine it. She couldn’t envision the daily routine without his smile, his compassion, him. “What stopped him from leaving?”

“I don’t know. Shortly after, you started your whole intensive Slayer training. He never said anything about it.” Willow shrugged. “Guess he just wanted to stick around.”

“It was me,” Buffy smiled. “After Dracula incident was over, I told him I needed him to be my Watcher again. He’d said he had to tell me something but let me ramble on and on.”

“He never told you,” Tara asked.

“No…he gave up his plans for me. He gave up his…his chance at a life for me.”

“I think that might answer your question,” Tara said with a smile.

“What question?” Buffy asked, confused.

“The one you’re not asking but need to know the answer to,” Tara said and looked to Willow.

“What?” Buffy asked, still oblivious to Tara’s meaning.

“Does Giles love you?” Willow finally asked.

Buffy smiled and lowered her head; ashamed she’d not figured it out.

“Go to him. Tell him like you wanted to, like you dreamed.” Willow urged her.

“Thanks,” Buffy hugged Willow and pulled Tara into the embrace, “Both of you.” She smiled a final appreciative smile and took off toward the Magic Box. Willow and Tara joined hands and walked proudly toward the exit.

“Then Bobby said Suzie was insane in the membrane for Fischer who really has the hots for Donna. I can’t believe he’s all Decaprio over her…she’s so Brat pack…with her ratted hair and stretch pants,” Dawn sipped her diet Coke and looked over at Giles who sat blank faced staring at her.

“Not one fragment of that tale resembled the known English language,” he smiled, actually enjoying the ramblings of this teenage girl protecting him from harm.

“You talk funny!” Dawn jumped up, finally showing her impatience in waiting for the others to return.

“I’ll take that as a compliment,” he grimaced at a flash of pain shooting through his torso.

“Are you ok?” Dawn rushed to his side once again. He covered her hand with his and gave it a reassuring squeeze.

“I’m fine…really. Just a bit sore.”

“Why didn’t you fight back? Riley’s big but he moves like a Brachiosaur,” Dawn sat back down. “You could have taken him.”

“You think so?” Giles snickered, quickly getting a painful reminder why laughter is not the best medicine when it comes to rib injuries.

“Yep. I remember the whole Ripper romp. Mom said you were quite the big bad,” Dawn explained. Giles was speechless; Dawn was quite the inquisitive and perceptive girl, hopefully Joyce hadn’t elaborated details of the whole ordeal to her youngest.

“That side of me is in the past, ancient history, “ He felt uncomfortable at the discussion but didn’t want to hide anything from her.

“Too bad…Buffy mentions Ripper quite a few times in her diary,” Dawn stretched out a strand of gum from her teeth and played with it, twirling it onto her finger and placing it back into her mouth.

“Dawn, you shouldn’t read Buffy’s private…she does?” his curiosity got the best of him.

“She wrote how she’d felt jealous…” Dawn was interrupted by the ringing of the Magic Box doorbell. “Oh, they’re back.” She jumped up and rushed to the room entrance.

“It’s only Spike,” she stepped back and plopped back down beside Giles.

Spike marched into the room and stood before Giles, puffing nervously on his cigarette.

“Alright Watcher…lets go. Bloody chip or not, you’re going down!”

“What’s up Spike?” Dawn asked curiously.

“Nothing lil’ bit. Got a bit of business with the old man. Leave us to it,” Spike ordered.

Giles rolled his eyes, “I grow tired of all this age discrimination that seems to be plaguing the neighborhood. You’re not quite the spring chicken either William!”

“I’m not going anywhere. Buffy may be the Slayer but I have a sworn duty to protect Giles from all…um, bad things.” Dawn blushed with her weak choice of words.

“Flattery will get you everywhere. Alright pet…you got me. Would you please walk me out? I’d like to talk to you alone,” Spike smiled flirtatiously and Dawn jumped up, eager to hear what Spike had to say.

“Sure,” she headed to the door and turned around just in time to see Spike slam the training room door behind her, locking her out. She pounded on the door, yelling her objections through the barrier.

“Now…to our business Watcher.” Spike stepped toward Giles with an evil glimmer in his eye.

“What is it Spike? I’ve had a rough day, I really haven’t the patience for an impotent vampire huffing about so, “ Giles struggled to his feet and tried to stand his ground once again.

“Soldier boy worked you over good, didn’t he?” Spike walked up to Giles and wiped a finger along the man’s brow, examining the ruby red refreshment decorating his digits. Savoring the taste of the lovely nectar he’d come to miss recently. Giles tried to ignore the disquieting intrusion he felt by Spike’s touch. He was in no shape to go rounds with a vampire but Spike was no real danger to him.

“Spike…to what do I owe the displeasure of this visit?” Giles walked over to the cabinet and opened the door, reaching for a towel but thinking twice and slipping a stake into his waistband. He grabbed the towel and pressed it to his forehead, wincing at the stinging from the cut. “Is there news or are you here for dinner?”

“Buffy…what are you to her?” Spike asked bluntly.

“None of your business,” Giles closed the cabinet door and turned to face the deceptively young looking vampire.

“No…not going to take that for an answer. Got that line from Buffy. Not very enlightening.”

Giles perked up with the mention of Spike’s run-in with Buffy.

“How is she? You’ve seen her?”

“Oh yeah. Did the whole girl talk thing in the cemetery…very bonding. She’s a bit dodgy on this whole relationship thing.” Spike lit a cigarette and began to pace around the room.
“Seems she let something slip out the wrong way. Embarrassed herself in front of the whole crew I hear. Pity…these misunderstandings can be so hurtful.”

“Misunderstanding?” Giles stepped toward the vampire, not liking the sound of Spike’s recollection.

“Well yeah, didn’t she tell you?” He paused with a raised eyebrow. “Course not. Too embarrassed I suppose…with the audience and all.”

“Tell me what?” Giles felt his heart sink.

“Oh…I’m sorry mate. Not my place to tell you. Best to hear it from the Slayer’s mouth.” Spike walked to the door, hiding a wicked grin from the wounded man behind him.

Giles rushed over to Spike and swung him around, slamming him up against the door and pinning Spike’s arms to his sides. Spike wanted to laugh at the outrageous display but felt obliged to somehow guard Giles dignity. He allowed the Watcher to intimidate him.

“Don’t make me repeat the question,” Giles growled.

“It was a mistake. She didn’t mean it. She was all messed up in the heat of the moment…her words got all scrambled.” Spike saw the wounded man wince from a pain not sourced from the cuts and bruises covering his battered frame. Giles heart was suffering from the news that Buffy didn’t really love him. “Sorry mate. Rough bit of news. Warned you…shoulda heard it from the Slayer’s mouth. She owes you that much!” Giles grip on Spike’s arms lessened and he released the vampire.

“I see…” Giles sighed, holding back his emotions. He walked back over to the gym pads and sat down, slouching forward, staring at the bloody marks on the ground.

“I’ll leave you to your thoughts,” Spike saw the heartbreak in Giles eyes and actually felt sorry for man.

Giles stared off into space, eyes glassing over, oblivious to Spikes words. “Thank you,” he mumbled, defaulting to politeness in his confusion and torment, not remembering who or what was going on, just wallowing in his sorrow.

“Um…right,” Spike unlocked the door and let Dawn rush in, examining the room carefully. She knelt down beside Giles and looked up at Spike with concern.

“What did you do?” She asked.

Spike swallowed hard, suddenly wanting to fix what he’d done but knowing the damage had already made its mark.

“Talked…just talked,” he left, stunned that he was actually ashamed at his behavior.

Part 3...