Spoilery for Dirty Girls ...
I can't get the heat of Spike-in-Basement out of my head, and there's S/B smut cooking in my head. But I came to this awful realization today...smut fic is all about self-insertion, in a very intimate, specific kind of way. It makes me realize suddenly why some folks really despise characters on the show.
I was thinking my way through why Buffy was on her way to the basement in Dirty Girls, and *bam* there it was. Dear god in heaven, no wonder the girl looked so miserable. I guess I'd be miserable, too. Wonder just what would have happened if Dawn hadn't interrupted with Willow's phone call?
The Willow/Giles in England first Ch. is doneish now, with part 2 well on the way.
With my thanks to the Youngbloods for the title.
Emptiness with Bright -- Part 1
Coldness crept in through the edges of the window, merging with the ice in Willow's veins, a solitary reminder that she lived. The drugs he thought he'd been clever in feeding her busied themselves creating a welcome barrier between her self and her soul. All of the pain lurked in vivid red outside the bubble, waiting only for her to provide an opening to pounce. The world's noises were there, too, at a distance, along with its sights and smells.
And he was there.
She felt Giles watching her. That had always been his job, after all. He watched. Until something needed doing. Willow knew that she was someone--some*thing*-- that needed doing. She'd seen him kill before; it would be a blessing. Being gone would be simpler, easier. That little voice in the back of her head, the one that belonged to her innocent self, said she deserved worse than death. She'd tormented him, deliberately. All the jealousy for what he had, the contempt for what he wasn't, poured out of her, straight into him.
She'd thought she'd broken him. Drained him of every ounce of power he had, taunted him with her superiority, and mocked him with her malice. But she had become the one drained and broken. He'd be disappointed if he thought there was more he could do to break her. The connection that had been hers for years--that bloomed with necessity and then love--was gone. Only a blank nothingness remained where the magic lived, where Tara should live now, as she did before.
Silence overtook Willow's mind as the drugs led her away from thought, and she slipped gratefully into the void.
Perhaps she slept, but even were she unconscious, Giles could not have looked, any more than he could have touched.
He'd have liked to tell himself that it was duty that put him on this plane, cramped into a coach-class seat and wondering whether he'd hit the balance between too much and not enough sedation.
Wouldn't do to have too much notice drawn to them. The Rosenberg's weren't precisely overprotective parents, but one had to wonder whether they'd eventually come to the conclusion that Willow's increasingly fringe behavior was related to his presence in her life.
Willow moaned softly in her seat. He could feel her shifting and sinking farther into the slim gap between the beige plastic of the walls and the rough orange upholstery.
No, it wasn't duty. Giles unbuttoned the top button of his shirt and pulled a thick book from the seat pocket. He'd never been good at serving his obligations simply because they were his obligations, no matter the hypocrisy in forcing those sentiments on Buffy through seven years and several lifetimes.
Duty meant dispatching her, a known vessel of evil, without regard for human intent or potential. Carefully tucking the bookmark into his jacket pocket, Giles opened the book to stare at the yellowing pages. The sound of her labored breathing made the words swim before sightless eyes.
Honestly, guilt came closer to describing what drove him forward. And hadn't it always?
With a quiet murmur of thanks, Giles accepted the scotch the flight attendant delivered and downed it in two gulps. Should have ordered several at once--it would take more than one to chase away the knot of anger pushing painfully at the guilt.
The next time she surfaced, Willow found herself standing in Passport Control, holding the dark blue folio that belonged to a woman named Sarah Giles, but contained her picture. Some sort of American cousin, then. Idly, she wondered why her passport hadn't been made British, then chalked it up to the hurry in which they'd left. Not like she'd had a valid passport on hand. Holding it in the air, she questioned her companion silently.
Giles pointed to the left. "You have to go through that channel." Willow knew he was relieved to see that there was a line for her to stand in. No way he'd take longer to pass through the EU area, and she knew he wouldn't risk losing her. But when she emerged on the other side, having received her stamp, Giles wasn't waiting for her alone. He stood just to the left of the exit, facing off with a thin, middle aged man with gray hair and Winston Churchill eyeglasses. The Council. She hovered just in front of the two men, a ghost with red hair trying to disappear entirely into herself.
Almost immediately, Giles pulled her to his side and began moving swiftly to the main exit. She didn't know what his hurry was until she saw the large black car pulled up to curb. The tickle in her stomach told her the ride was hers. The Watcher was following them, and either Giles was moving awfully fast, or he was terribly slow for a tall man.
The gentleman was a bit out of breath by the time he caught them, just outside the glass doors. "We received word that you were bringing her here. It's a bit of a surprise, really, that she survived the battle."
Willow saw Giles stiffen when the man pulled out a handkerchief to wipe his forehead and barreled on. He was angry.
"Thank you, Rupert, for bringing her back. Much cleaner this way." The thin man grabbed her by the wrist, long fingers wrapping like a vise while appearing to be a friendly grasp. She felt the steel in his grip and wondered if she'd live to see the bruise form.
Clearing his throat, he addressed Giles a final time, "We'll take it from here." She felt herself being pulled down the walk toward the car, where another man waited. It was time to panic, she knew. But the haze held her in dreamlike complacency.
"No. You shan't."
Mild curiosity caused her to look back at her one-time teacher. Through the protective haze of denial and medication, Willow was surprised at Giles' reaction. His face might have been etched in stone as he pulled her from the Watcher's grip and shoved her into the small silver sports car that had pulled up only moments before.
Relief flooded through her for a split second, until his eyes caught hers. "There is a prior claim." A chill ran down her spine at the finality in his voice. There's something he dreads in that claim; she hears it in the steel clip of his words as the trim stranger puffs his chest out with self-importance. "But you can't...the danger. She must be neutralized."
Neutralized. Yes, that's a good word for what she's doing to herself. Soundlessly she laughed as she sank back into the leather and listened to Giles deliver the killing blow to the Council's representative. "And you lot are incapable of it. I know where to find you if I require your dubious assistance in doing what's needed. And if you know what's good for you, you'll keep your distance. Interfering where you have no power can only do harm."
Giles slammed the passenger door, and the harsh words of her judge and jury disappeared behind the wall of glass and metal, along with the car's driver. Neither knowing nor caring which man was which, Willow curled into the seat and leaned her forehead against the window. The rumble of cars passing in the outer lane shook through her bones, settling her buzzing thoughts into a rhythm she could contain once more.
By the time Giles was seated to her right, she'd almost found the void which protected the world from her -- or was it the other way around? Only the sight of fear rising from beneath the mask of indifference he'd held close while speaking to the Watcher kept her from sliding fully into the serene unconsciousness where she'd hid since Xander offered her his crayons. Dispassionately, she wondered what worse than the Council's poking and prodding and ritualistic 'neutralization' could wait for her in the English countryside.
As the car moved steadily from the urban landscape into the green-gray countryside, Willow's eyes stopped scanning the horizon and closed. There was a peace waiting inside if she could sink deeply enough. The steady roar of the engine ran through her from stem to stern, and he remained silent for what seemed hours, but was only miles. She was grateful for that, even if she could be sure that gratitude was not something he looked to receive.