The next morning, Giles awoke and found that he was not in the daybed. The bed he was in was immensely more comfortable and had better pillows. Habitually, he reached out for his glasses on the night stand, but it was not the distance he was used to at home causing him to knock something to the floor. Putting on his glasses, he adjusted his eyes to the light in the room. It took himself several seconds to gather his thoughts, but the last thing he remembered was being on her floor—he didn't know how he ended up in her bed. He looked down and saw that he knocked over a bottle of aspirin. Grabbing it, he noticed the of water on the nightstand.
"Buffy," he thought, "I need to not do this to myself."
Not only that, though. He also needed to figure out what he was going to tell his aunts and Willow. He wanted their help—more than that, needed their help, but he didn't want to get into his and Buffy's private affairs. It was going to be a long day.
It was almost five o' clock before Buffy made it to Willow's apartment. A couple of parents wanted to speak with her after class and they kept her much later than what she really had time for. When she arrived, she caught the middle of a discussion between Giles, his aunts, Dawn, and Willow.
"Let's ignore, for the moment, how this happened. And focus on why it is happening," Giles said, "To what end would my father do this? As creepy and disconcerting as hearing his voice in my head, I don't really see the point. And why bring all the demons to San Francisco? Some misplaced punishment?"
"Well, I could easily see him bringing death and mayhem to a place as beautiful and welcoming a San Francisco," Vin replied.
"As contrary he was to our philosophy of life and aside from being a general ass hole," Sophie said, "it's hard to see that he would taunt Rupert like this…. He was always more direct. Hello, Buffy."
The others turned and greeted her.
"Sorry, I'm late."
"You haven't missed much, I'm afraid," Giles shook his head in frustration and threw a book on to the table.
Dawn held her hand up and said, "I hate to suggest this… but can't we just hold a séance and ask him?"
"Ehhh…." Willow froze at the suggestion.
Giles didn't react, but the sisters eyed each other.
"He's not a good candidate for a séance," Willow said as she sent Dawn a 'don't go there' look.
"What if we make him a good candidate?" Giles said.
"How exactly are you going to do that?" Vin asked.
"I have a lot of sway in the council, now. I can get documents, people will talk."
Sophie stood and wagged her finger at him, "You don't need to go there, Rupee!"
"Apparently, I do. We're getting nowhere."
He stood thinking for a few moments and then grabbed his jacket.
"I'm going to look into it. Thank you, Dawn."
He left without another word and his aunts chased after him.
"What did I just witness or what did I miss or what am I missing?" Buffy asked, confused.
Willow looked worried.
"What do you know about his father's death?", Willow asked.
"Nothing, really…." Buffy replied.
The witch sighed, "I wish you hadn't of suggested that, Dawn. I was hoping that he wouldn't get the idea himself."
"What?" Dawn asked.
"His father died… disappeared, rather, under unknown circumstances. He went out on council business and never came back."
"Oh, god…." Buffy said, sitting down next to them on the couch.
"We can't…. No ethical witch or warlock would ever conger a spirit without knowing the last moments of death. If he was suffering or otherwise cursed, we could hinder his soul from ever finding peace."
"I've never even heard him talk about his father…." Dawn said.
Buffy squeezed her sister's hand "He... They didn't see eye to eye on a lot of things…."
"Uh, Dawn, don't you have class at six?" Willow asked.
"Yeah…I didn't know that it was this late…."
Once Dawn left Buffy turned to Willow, "Will, on a scale of one to ten, how bad is this whole thing."
"Oh, I would say about a twenty. As I said before, I learned a lot about the slayer-watcher relationship when I went to the coven…. I also learned a lot about the watchers and their relationship to the council as a whole."
"Okay… I'm listening."
"It's just that the watchers and their families dedicate their lives—their lineage to the cause. Whatever is happening has to be severe for the Giles seal to be broken. Someone or something has deemed something Giles did to be undeserving of his family's honor."
"But in all of your studying there, you didn't happen to hear what a watcher could do to be undeserving of his family's honor? Or maybe what his slayer could do to cause this as well."
"Oh, Buffy…. There's nothing you could have done to cause this. Giles probably just lost his father's favorite book or something…." Willow waved her hand dismissively, "Can you do me a favor tonight? I know that you've probably got plans the patrol with Faith and Robin, but I could use some help."
"Always. What do you need?"
"I need to perform a tracking spell tonight and I need protection from demon intervention. It could take me across the city."
That didn't sound too dangerous…. And It gave her a reasonable excuse not to join Faith and Robin patrolling.
"Sure. That will be great field experience for my slayers."
"His blood pressure and oxygen are low, but his fever is down…. I want to keep you here for a few extra days, Hank."
"What's the bottom line, doc?" Buffy said, "What about his breathing?"
"His chest will feel tight for a while, until the nebulizer treatment fully takes effect. We're getting things ready to take him up to x-ray as we speak so we can re-check his lungs…."
"Actually, doctor, we can take him up now," a nurse said from the door.
Buffy, her step-mother, Paige, and her two step-sisters, Megan and Ashley followed the doctor and nurses pushing Hank Summers out into the corridor.
"Do you, girls, want anything from the vending machines? I think I'll make a run down there," Paige said.
"I do!" replied Megan.
"Yes!" said Amanda.
Buffy shook her head, "No, thank you. I'm fine."
"Really, Buffy, something to drink?" her step-mother asked again.
"I…" Buffy trailed off when she saw her watcher down the hall, "I'll… take a bottle of water."
Buffy waited until the three had walked out of sight before walking towards Giles.
She seemed neutral to his presence, "How did you know where I was?"
"I felt that you would be here."
"You drove almost two hours on a feeling?"
"Well, Willow said that you told her you had papers to grade but when I got home, Dawn said you were patrolling, so I went with the third option…."
She smiled, "I'm glad. Let's sit."
Once they sat down on a nearby couch, she froze, "How did you know what hospital?"
"Oh, I felt that too."
"Please tell me you're joking and our telepathy thing has not gone that far. Last thing I need is for you to be in my head."
"Would that be such a bad thing?"
She nodded her head.
"Well, don't fear…. I saw a note in your room with this hospital's name on it. I just Googled for the address."
"You weren't snooping in my mind, just my room. That's a lot better," she joked.
"No… I mean, I was… it was…" he stumbled.
"I'm messing with you, Giles."
"Please don't. I've not had that kind of year."
"Wow. At least Drunk Giles still has a sense of humor."
He took his glasses off and cleaned them, "I am sorry about that…. Normally no one is around so it doesn't matter if I have a little too much to drink. I got too caught up in my thoughts last night and didn't think…."
"Please tell me you're not drinking again like when you stopped being my watcher…. Having another existential crisis."
"I wouldn't say that…." He abruptly laughed, "Okay, maybe. Just a tiny existential crisis. I didn't do anything last night, did I?"
"I don't know…. The last thing I remember was sitting on the floor of your room for some reason and I don't really remember"
"That's because you did black out. And you hit your hit on the way down….."
"I wasn't attacked?!"
She laughed, "I'm afraid not, Giles."
"I-I…I didn't, eh, come on to you, last night, did I? Or anything like that…because I woke up in your bed."
"Well, half way through the night you did throw your arm around me and spooned me. But I didn't mind…." She grabbed his arm, "You were a perfect English gentleman. I was the one who put you in my bed after you blacked-out."
He deadpanned, "That's a little emasculating…."
They shared a laugh before silence fell between them. She rested her head on his shoulder and he grabbed her hand in return. His touch surged through her.
"How's your father?" he asked.
"Okay. He had an asthma attack a little while ago…. His doctor didn't act like it was a big deal. I think it freaked us out more than anything."
"His wife and her daughters?"
"Yep…. She's actually very nice. I like her… possibly more than my dad. But the girls…. I can't stand the oldest one."
"I wasn't expecting that…about his wife, I mean. I thought she was… well to quote Dawn 'a self-righteous bitch'."
"Yeah, well, you know, I can understand her not wanting her family to be around me. People tend to drop like files…." She laughed, "Whole cities tend to drop like flies! First Sunnydale, now San Francisco."
"Sunnydale was on a Hellmouth and San Fran…. Well, that's at least partially my fault somehow."
"Did you get anywhere with… whatever you ran out to do earlier?"
"No, not yet. I have calls out to the people who worked with my father and I'm having a few files pulled."
"What files and what people? I thought almost everything and everyone was lost in the explosion."
"Almost everything. A good portion of storage was under a protection spell that preserved the files…. And the men I put calls to came back from retirement to help us rebuild the council. There's a good portion of people from his era working for us again."
"Do you really want to hold a séance for your father?"
"Of course not…. I hardly wanted to speak with him while he was alive."
Squeezing his hand, she said, "I know what you mean."
He recoiled at the gesture. Seeing hurt flash across her face, he immediately regretted it. He didn't know why, but her touch was… overwhelming. Before he could offer an explanation, though, her step family returned.
"Buffy? Here's your water." Paige said, as she and her daughters approached the two on the couch.
They stood to greet to greet the trio.
"Thanks, Paige!" Buffy exclaimed, nervously.
"You're welcome," she replied, staring at Giles.
"Paige, Amanda, Megan, this is... my friend Gi-Rupert," Buffy mentally freaked. If she used his last name, it would sound weird and raise questions. But on the other hand, her personal use of Rupert was limited.
"Hello!" Giles extended his hand to Paige followed by her daughters. The apparent eldest refused.
"It's nice to meet you, Rupert," Paige said.
"Yes, likewise…. I should get going. I don't want to intrude."
"Actually," Paige said, "It's late, you girls should head out too."
"Are you guys sure you're okay at the hotel by yourselves? I can stay with you tonight." Buffy said to the girls.
"We're fine," Megan, the oldest, said quickly.
"I really appreciate it, but you have to work tomorrow and everything…. They'll be fine," Paige said, "It's not five minutes from here. They can call me."
"Okay, well, offer stands," Buffy replied.
"It would be great, though, if you all walked out together…. If, you, Rupert, wouldn't mind walking all of the girls to their cars, I'd feel a lot better."
"Of course, I'll see Amanda and Megan to theirs and then Buffy can make sure I get to mine," he said dryly.
Buffy feigned a laugh and discreetly stepped on his toes, "Ignore him. His sense of humor is… his own."
A/N: Hello all! I haven't forgotten about this story! I just need the right mood strike me to write. I'll probably post another soon so I can get some chapters up before my school semester starts. Let me know what you think!