Author: Kat Lee
Fandom: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Character/Pairing: Giles, Buffy, Spike, Xander, mild Willow/Kennedy, past Oz/Willow, Dawn, Ensemble
Challenge/Prompt: fffc r17.19:
Warning(s): Character Death
Word Count: 861
Date Written: 13 October 2017
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to Whedon, not the author, and are used without permission.
“I don’t believe you know every word to that song!” Willow exclaims, laughing, as the “oldie but goodie” by Dingoes Ate My Baby comes to an end and Kennedy’s wild hand motions end along with it.
“Believe it, sweetheart,” Kennedy says, laughing, and winks at her girlfriend.
Dawn leans in closer to Kennedy and, in a conspiratorial whisper, asks her, “Do you know she used to date the lead singer?”
Another Potential laughs, but although Kennedy cuts dangerous eyes at the girl, she answers Dawn with a smile, “No, but that doesn’t surprise me. My Willow’s just that special.” She lifts the redhead’s hand and kisses it.
As Dawn swoons and the other Potentials make eyes, barely containing their laughter for the first time in days, the radio announcer grabs everyone’s attention as he returns. “And now, we’ve got something really special. I had a guy come by my office the other day. If I hadn’t known better, I would have sworn he was Billy Idol. He was just a lookalike, but he left me something that’s guaranteed to become gold! It’s by a friend of his, another English chap by the name of Ripper Giles.”
Gasps rattle throughout the bus. The old vehicle seems to be accenting the surprise herself as she backfires. Giles reaches for the knob on the radio but finds his hand blocked by Buffy’s. “Uh huh. No way,” she says, folding her arms before her chest and looking down at him. “You’re not changing that channel! Why didn’t you tell us you were singing again?”
“I never said I stopped,” Giles murmurs in defense, blushing crimson as his crooning voice fills the bus.
For a change, not a single person speaks. Giles takes a turn and doesn’t look back up at his Slayer, and best friend. He doesn’t dare, because there are tears flooding his eyes. He bats them down and tries to concentrate on his driving, but this surprise, he knows, is a gift given to him by someone he’d thought would never have cared. He would never dare to plug his own music, so Spike had did it for him.
Why he chose this particular radio station, as though he had known Sunnydale’s wouldn’t survive, that they would be traveling through here now, or that he wouldn’t survive and needed to do it, if he was going to do it, before the big fight, Giles doesn’t know. There’s a lot he doesn’t understand about why Spike chose to share his music -- it’s not as if he’s that good, after all, despite what the announcer said --, but at the same time, he understands that his friend -- and yes, he can call him that now and should have long before his death -- was trying to help him.
No one speaks even as the song finishes and the radio flips to another, more current song with a faster, wilder beat. No one speaks for several minutes. Then Buffy quietly reaches out and takes the steering wheel from him. “Take a break,” she tells him. Stepping closer, almost sliding into his lap, she adds in a soft whisper that only they hear, “And clean your eyes.”
“Buffy -- “ Rupert’s voice is strangled. He slides out of the seat and lets her take his place. He stands and cleans his glasses, his back to the others so that they can not see when he wipes the tears from his eyes as well. “He had his problems -- “
She quietly interrupts him, “We all have our problems.”
“I know. I’m just trying to say . . . he was a good man.”
“Yes,” she agrees, her own voice now strangled by emotions, “he was.” Tears pour down the Slayer’s face, but she keeps her gaze determinedly fixed on the road. “Now go take a break.”
For once, Giles doesn’t argue with her. He simply walks to the back of the bus and says a prayer for his old friend, and for forgiveness for himself. He looks up as Xander slides in beside him.
The younger man pats the Watcher’s shoulder. “You did good, G-man. Betcha none of these kids look at you the same way again.” What he doesn’t say is that he himself is included in that number.
“Thank you,” Giles murmurs, “I think.” Regardless, he wishes he had done better while Spike was still with them. He turns his head and watches as they pass by miles and miles of other people and their lives. He thinks again of Spike, wonders if he got the reward he deserved, and knows, as he has since before Sunnydale exploded, that he must keep this ragtag crew together.
His friend had been proud of him, and though Giles had never expected for their positions to be reversed, he knows he must now strive to live up to the Vampire’s expectations. I’ll make you proud, William, he thinks, thinking of him now, for the first time, more as a man than as the Vampire he’d always partially feared. His roaming eyes return to the front of the bus and their beautiful driver. And I’ll keep watching over her for you, for us all.