HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS
Set during Season Four.
Giles tells himself that he should go home; that there is no reason for him to remain in the States.
A Giles-centric gen story.
Written: August 2013. Word count: 2,150.
Another day has gone by. Another day during which I saw no one; another day during which I heard from no one - at least no one who matters.
It has been six months since graduation; six months since Buffy killed the mayor; six months since Buffy destroyed Sunnydale High. Six months since the Scooby Gang (as Willow, Xander and the others like to call themselves) dispersed, some leaving Sunnydale; others going to college; others remain in Sunnydale whilst wondering just what their role is.
I am one of the others. I remain in Sunnydale; however, each day I wonder why I remain; why I stay in America; why I do not simply go home to England. Each day I wonder what my role is; indeed I wonder whether I even have a role any longer. Does Xander, the other person to remain in Sunnydale, ever wonder about his role? Does he ever wonder if he has a role any longer? Sometimes I believe he does, because there are times when I believe - when I know- that Xander is so much more than he appears to be.
Then there are other times, times when I have maybe indulged in a little too much Glenmorangie (something I have been doing more and more often, as I have done tonight) when I believe, when I am convinced, he really is nothing more than he appears to be; that he doesn't have a brain - or at least not one he chooses to use.
But that is unfair; in fact that is very unfair. Is it just that of all of the Scoobies (the official ones and the extended ones) Xander has always been the one whom I have understood the least; the one I have the least in common with; the one to whom I could relate the least. There is something more than a little ironic in the fact that I understood and could relate to Angel more than I could, than I do, relate to Xander. Well Angel and I did - do - have at least one thing in common. I do not dislike Xander; I never have; it is just that . . .
I think I shall have another small drink. Why not? After all it's not as if I have anything to do tomorrow, is it? No, of course I haven't; I never have anything to do these days. Yes, another small Glenmorangie - or even a bloody large one.
Where was I? Oh, yes, Xander and too much Glenmorangie and why am I still here in Sunnydale. Why am I still here? Why haven't I returned home to England? After all I have no job; well, it's rather difficult to be a school librarian when there is no school, let alone a library, in which to be a school librarian. And my other job, my main job, ended quite some time ago. So why am I still here?
It's not as though I particularly like the place I live in, or the town, or the constant sun, or even America. I should go home; I should return to England and start a new life. It is where I belong; it is my home; it is my culture, my background; I understand the British in a way I know I shall never understand that Americans.
Even after I had been fired as Buffy's watcher I had believed I had a role, a reason to stay in America. I believed that official watcher or not, Buffy needed me and not just as a buffer between her and Wesley. She needed me in another way as well. She needed me as her father figure. However, she no longer needs me in that way - none of them do.
I have gone from being a permanent father to three teenagers, as well as an occasional one to some of the other Scoobies, to not being needed by any of them. Buffy and Willow are doing well at college; they have their own lives, lives into which Buffy's slaying still manages to fit. They are no longer children in need of being guided; they do not need me to hold their hands in any way; they are mature young ladies.
My slayer no longer needs me; her best friend no longer needs me; even Xander no longer needs me. No one needs me I should just - Oh, bloody hell, now I'm getting really maudlin. Come along, Rupert Giles, pull yourself together and - And what? Oh, yes, I know: have another drink.
Even Spike rarely stops by these days, not unless he actually wants something. Good God, what am I saying? Am I saying that I miss Spike? No of course I don't. Except - Well, at least whilst he was living in my bathroom it gave me something to do. Whilst he was here with me, I was needed - even if it was only to provide a home for a neutered vampire. But even he's gone now; gone to - do whatever a neutered vampire can do.
It's not as if I don't see Buffy and Willow and Xander at all. I do see them - and I see Riley and Anya and Tara. Sometimes I see all six of them together (or even all seven if Spike happens to have a need for money in order to buy blood or just happens to be passing by). They stop by to - Well, if I'm honest, I no longer know quite why they all stop by, because they sit and talk and discuss and plan and what do I do? Yes, that's right, I sit and drink Glenmorangie.
I'm nothing, neither watcher nor father. I have no job, no purpose and no reason to stay in Sunnydale. No one needs me, no one wants my company and no one asks me for advice any more. I'm a foolish middle-aged man intent on trying to hold on to something that the more I think about it, the more I wonder if I ever had it.
I'll go home. Yes, that's what I'll do. I'll go home to England and start a new life. I'll find a job, a good job, a job where I'm needed, a job where I'm wanted, a job where I am someone rather than just a one time watcher and father.
Buffy no longer needs me, not in any capacity; thus there is no reason for me to remain in Sunnydale. I shall return to England; I shall go home. It's the right thing to do; the only thing to do; the thing I should have done months ago. Buffy has her life; I have mine and they no longer combine in any way.
Tomorrow I'll sort out flights and make arrangements to leave America just as soon as it is possible for me to do so. Of course I'll have to tell Buffy, Willow, Xander and the others - assuming I can get in touch with them. The last time I tried to ring Buffy, the phone rang and rang and rang before finally going to the answer-phone which informed me neither Buffy nor Willow were there. I didn't leave a message; I didn't ring back.
I have to tell them this though personally - it's hardly the kind of thing one can leave on an answer-phone. I could invite them all (yes, even Spike) to dinner and tell them. No, I could invite Buffy, Willow and Xander to dinner and tell them; that would be better as we are the original four. Or I could just invite Buffy to dinner and tell her and let her tell the others. But would any of them have time for dinner? Maybe coffee would be better? Maybe a message on the answer-phone would be even better.
What will I say to them? What will I tell Buffy? Do I tell her the truth? Do I tell her that she no longer needs me; that I no longer have a role, a position, thus I no longer have any reason to remain in America? Is that what I tell her? Or do I invent some kind of emergency back in England which means I have to leave for an indefinite period of time? I wonder if her father had the same concerns when he told her he was leaving her. From what little she has told me about him and how many times he has let her down since he left her, I fancy he did not.
She'll be fine; she'll understand. She's not the girl her father walked away from; she's a young lady; an intelligent young lady. She probably even wonders why I am still around. In fact all of them probably wonder that but they are too polite to ask me - well Spike being the exception of course. They probably can't wait for me to go home; to leave Sunnydale, because then they won't have to find any excuse to visit me from time to time.
Oh, God, is that what they've been doing these past six months: just waiting for me to pack my bags and leave? Is it the case that they don't only no longer need me here; they also no longer want me here. I really am redundant.
Yes, is it definitely time I went home; returned to England and put this part of my life behind me. Buffy made it clear she didn't wish to be involved with the Watchers' Council any longer and even though I am not a watcher, I will always, in her mind, have links to the Council. It really is time I said my goodbyes and went home.
I know, rather than make them come out to me, I'll ask them to meet me at one of those coffee shop places and I'll tell them then. I'll tell them I am going home; back to England. I shall tell them in plain and simple English - something they often accuse me of not speaking. And then . . . And then I shall go home.
Except . . .
I drain the last of the whisky from my glass and open a drawer, pulling it completely out until I see for what I am looking. It's a simple photograph, one taken at least three years ago, of Buffy, Willow and Xander. And as I look down at it; as I look down at my slayer, my daughter and my other two teenage children, I know I can't go home.
I can't go home, because I am home. Home is where the heart is; it is a clichéd saying, but the thing with clichés is that cliché or not, they are all too often true - if only in part. But this isn't true in part; this is completely true.
My heart is in America; my heart is in Sunnydale; my heart lies with Buffy, Willow, Xander and the newer members of the Scoobie gang. I cannot leave them; I would miss them all too much (I even believe I would miss Spike - I really must have drunk too much). Buffy is my slayer; she is my daughter; I love her.
For as long as there is the slightest chance that she might possibly need me, for as long as she is alive and in Sunnydale, for as long as she visits me from time to time or even just rings me, I will stay here in Sunnydale. I will be her watcher, her father, her mentor and her friend. I cannot leave her - I cannot leave any of them.
Somehow she (and the others) captured my heart and for whatever reason she has not let go of it. My heart is in Sunnydale; my heart is with Buffy. I am home. This town that is constantly hot and sunny is my home. I may be without a job; I may be without a role; I may not be needed; I may no longer be, in Buffy's eyes, either watcher or father - but I am home.
My heart is here and thus that is where my home must be. Maybe the day will come when Buffy releases my heart; maybe the day will come when she . . . When she is killed fulfilling her destiny. And if that happens, then maybe that will be the day when my heart will no longer be in Sunnydale, and thus the town will no longer be my home and I can return to England.
As I make my way slowly upstairs, turning out the lights as I go, I pray that day never comes. I pray the day never comes when my heart is no longer in Sunnydale. I pray the day never comes when my home is no longer in Sunnydale.
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