Rupert Giles leaned back in his chair and rubbed his weary eyes as the young girl left his office. It had already been a tiring and stressful day and Willow’s unexpected visit had now added to the feeling of it being just too damned long.
Vague thoughts of weeks passed were now coming to the forefront. All because of a visit the girl had made to Cordelia Chase’s home. He sighed, removing his glasses to absently polish them as he went over their chat.
“I’m probably making something out of nothing, Giles, but I can’t get over the feeling I’ve missed some kind of bad hoojoo that’s had a gigantic bubble above it saying ‘Look at me!’ And I’m usually pretty good at noticing stuff, yaknow.” Willow chewed at her bottom lip staring pensively at the ex-Watcher.
“Have you any idea what triggered this, um… unexpected behavior?” Giles asked. His eyes narrowed slightly as the young girl’s face reddened; a quick flicker of guilt in her eyes before she looked down. “Willow, I can’t help if you keep things from me”, he reminded her; his tone sharp enough for her to meet his gaze.
Giles still couldn’t quite believe what had come pouring out of Willow’s mouth. It was like a dam that had held too long before breaching with a whoosh as she gave a very detailed account. Which took longer than it would have without the insertion of apologies after every sentence.
Did no one tell him anything? It made him wonder what else they kept from him. What kind of role model was he for his charges, that they felt the need to what- protect him from imagined hurt feelings? Good God! Did he really come across as a weakling who’d fall apart at the slightest mention of the vampire… that had almost destroyed him. His heart, mind and body.
Or was it simply that they believed he’d delayed the original ritual at the Library deliberately. Which was, in fact, true. So why tell him that they’d tried again? He dropped his glasses on the desk and rubbed his face tiredly. As it happened, Buffy had won the battle anyway. But it could have gone completely arse up. Because of his delaying tactics.
But the foolishness of their second attempt still took his breath away. Not only because the girl’s concussion at the time had been pretty serious. The success of such an ill-thought venture could have caused terrible repercussions. Willow’s relaying of the brunette’s summation of the whole affair was, frankly, pretty much spot on.
There was absolutely no chance, in his opinion, of even the consideration of allowing the vampire back into the fold if he’d have survived. The thought that Buffy, of all people would betray him like that after all that had happened … it didn’t bear thinking about.
His first instinct had been to confront Buffy- but was she aware of the second attempt? What if she weren’t and his anger drove her away? It hadn’t been that long since his Slayer had returned. Could he risk the possible fallout? Honestly? No. Shaking off the annoyance, Giles began tidying his desk in preparation of leaving the office.
The rationale Giles had finally given regarding the scene described seemed to calm Willow’s anxiety, and she’d left with a lighter step.
Pointing out the fact that Cordelia had arrived late to a group who’d had more time, thus experience, in dealing with the harsh realities they’d been plunged into. This, he suggested, also explained very clearly the marked difference in both girls’ reaction to their frightening interaction with Angelus. The older girl hadn’t been involved long enough to really accept a vampire as an ally – never mind to take the time to differentiate between a ‘Good’ vampire and Evil Vampires.
The fact that Angel was himself a rare anomaly hadn’t helped. Logic seemingly skewed when it was deemed right to eradicate all vampires – except for one. Angel had possessed a soul, yes- but he was still a vampire. Giles had experienced that particular quandary himself, so Lord knows how anyone expected a seventeen year old girl to deal with it.
A long and weary sigh drooped his shoulders. So many regrets. Allowing the involvement of young innocents. Not doing more to nip his Slayer’s unhealthy relationship with Angel in the bud. Frowning with the realisation that it would have made no difference. Knowing Buffy as he did, that would probably have made her even more determined to hang on to Angel. So young and insecure. And a first love to boot.
As for Cordelia… Giles had to admit to a stirring of suspicion and concern when it came to the happenings on that God-awful night. Willow was most likely right. Some things just didn’t add up. He recalled that last time they’d spoken- just before she’d left for the holidays. It hadn’t sat well even then.
But what could he possibly do? The well of strength Willow had described… he’d witnessed it himself, and he seriously doubted Cordelia Chase would welcome his interference. Because it worked out so well the last time!
All that could be done until there was tangible evidence to work on, was to do what he did best.