Ch 10 – Goodbyes to Dear Friends
Dawn looked through the gathered teens, giving many a smile and a small wave. The music was turned up and many of the others were dancing, or clustered in small groups and talking animatedly. There were maybe twenty in total, which was pretty good.
She was looking for Jan, but was disappointed when she didn’t see her. Thankfully, she did spot Kim and worked her way through awkwardly flailing limbs in her direction. She was talking to a guy named Gavin, who Kim shared Beginning Calculus with. They were sort of math geniuses.
“Dawn,” Kim exclaimed, when she spotted her, giving Gavin a pat on the arm before meeting Dawn halfway through the crowd of dancing bodies.
After a hug between the two, Dawn immediately brought up Jan, “I don’t see her. Isn’t she coming?”
Kim looked uncomfortable for a moment, not meeting her friend’s eyes.
“Don’t tell me she’s not coming,” Dawn exclaimed.
“I’m not sure,” Kim shrugged. “Her parents might not let her.”
“Why not? What is wrong with them?”
Again, Kim looked guiltily away.
“Oh, God. Is it ‘cause they think I’ll be here? They won’t even let me call her!”
“They’re… freaked, I guess. I mean, you have to admit, Dawn, that a lot of weird stuff seems to happen around you.”
“That isn’t my fault! We didn’t do anything wrong!”
“Hey,” Kim held her hands up, “I didn’t say you did. I’m just saying, her parents are, you know, really freaking out about that mess at your house.”
“That is so unfair! It-it’s… blaming the victim. Her parents are, like, being fascists or something.”
“Or, at least totalitarians,” Kim opined. “But that doesn’t change the fact that I don’t think they’ll allow her to come over. She told me that they threatened her with grounding if they see her with you, too,” she said apologetically with a shrug of shoulders. “They’re… you know… freaked. Besides, my mom is almost as bad. The only reason I’m here is because they embarrassed me by calling Mrs. Berman and making sure there’d be adults here, ‘cause you know, God forbid I should be around boys without a chaperone. I swear she’s paranoid I’m going to turn into a huge slut the second a boy gets me alone.”
“I’m just surprised she didn’t send your sister with you.”
“Oh, she tried! But there was no way that Monique was going to – and I quote – ‘Hang around a bunch of noisy teeny-boppers’. She’s been trying to act like she’s so much older and more mature than us, lately. I can do with the break from her, she’s starting to grate on my nerves with her B.S.”
“Hey, you made it,” Kevin’s voice rang out directly behind Dawn. “Uh, not that you had to. I mean, it would have been cool if, you know, you didn’t show.”
“Wow, uh, were we supposed to dress up,” Dawn said, noting he was in a suit. Kim was just wearing a T-shirt and jeans and as she quickly looked over the others, she was relieved to see that they hadn’t gussied up, either.
“No, no, you guys are fine,” Kevin said, rolling his eyes. “I’m the only one that had to dress up like King Dork. My parents are trying to kill me,” he complained, “Or at least my social life.”
“You look great,” Dawn assured him. “I hope you’ll like your gifts. But when you’re opening mine, just remember that things have been a little crazy lately, so I didn’t get a chance to really, really shop.”
“You guys didn’t even have to buy nothing. Believe me, the only reason we’re doing this whole thing is to humor my mother,” he said. Then he brought a beaming smile to Dawn by grabbing her hand and saying, “Let’s dance.”
It was later that same day when Rupert Giles stood in the loading terminal and gazed out at the large, tinted window at the tarmac. He was full of reservations and second guessing, but also was fully aware that he was making the right choice – besides he’d already called Quentin Travers. It was a bit late to change his mind, now.
Giles turned to see Dawn giving him a small wave. Along with her were the rest of the young adults… mustn’t keep thinking of them as ‘the children’… excepting Spike, who he’d never thought of as a child. Of course, he wasn’t young, anyway... past a century, after all.
He shook his head to clear his mind’s rambling and accepted a bear hug by the youngest of the group. “I-it wasn’t necessary for you all to drive out here, like this.”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” Xander said with an appalling attempt at a British accent, which he continued inflicting on him even after his grimace at him, “We couldn’t just shout a ‘tip, tip, cheerio’ and be done with it, now could we,” he grinned.
“We had to give you a sending off, Giles,” Tara smiled warmly as she leaned in to hug him. “I wish you’d given us a chance to give you a going away party… or at least a ‘dress-up’ style dinner. Pizza wasn’t exactly my idea of a farewell meal.”
“N-not that you won’t be back,” Willow exclaimed. “I mean, you know we’ll get ourselves into the kind of trouble that only the official Watcher glare will fix,” she smiled and added her own hug.
It was about a quarter to four, now and the afternoon sun was still as bright as it nearly always was in Sunnydale… at least when there wasn’t dark magic rainstorms involved.
“I’ve only now realized,” Giles mustered a smile, “how much I’m going to miss the weather, here.”
From the loud speakers overhead, a disembodied voice informed them that Sunbelt Airlines’ Flight 444, scheduled for Los Angeles at four-twenty pm would begin boarding in ten minutes. All of the gang looked at one another at a loss to express their feelings adequately at this… Giles was leaving. And this time, it wasn’t just on a short, fact-finding mission.
“I’m really going to miss you, Giles. Thanks for everything,” Dawn told him, as she gave him another large hug.
Xander was next to step forward, giving a moment’s hesitation before shoving his hand out toward the Watcher.
“To hell with that,” Giles told him, batting his hand away, before embracing him in a tight, one armed hug. “You’ll take care? A-and call me if you have any difficulties.”
“If I did that, I’d have to run to a payphone right now,” Xander joked.
He returned the boy’s smile and told him, “Just do be careful. All of you,” his gaze swept over the others. “I-I couldn’t bear it if you went and got yourselves hurt right after I’ve left.”
“We’ll be alright, Giles,” Tara smiled sadly. “You just focus on you, right now.”
“Yes. W-well… you will all threaten Spike for me? The usual speech, I believe, “if he doesn’t keep you all safe”, “if he doesn’t act properly”, “if he gets out of line”, etc….”
“We’ll tell him,” Xan said. “And, I can kick his butt now, thanks to the chip. But, he’ll keep fighting for us – he wouldn’t risk pissing Dawnie off.”
“Damned right,” she said back, with a grin.
“Is there room for one more in this love-fest,” a familiar voice said from nearby.
Giles was shocked to find Lavinia Mills standing there, an obvious suitcase on the floor nearby and a rectangle of paper clutched tightly in one hand. “What?”
She shrugged with an uncertain grin, “Well, you can’t very well be trusted to travel all the way over to England without a chaperone, now can you?”
She picked up her bag and continued to walk, until she was standing nearly enough to him to touch. “I mean, you should have someone who cares about you making sure the Council treats you decently, right?”
He swallowed hard before replying, “Y-you don’t need to do this. What about your job?”
“I have holiday time to spend. And, I’m using it right now. I want to, Rupert. I’m not ready to just leave things like this,” she said with a wave around the terminal. “I… haven’t gotten the chance to give you a real goodbye. And besides, I miss seeing London. And, this will give me a chance to make the short trip home to Latvia before coming back and starting the new school year.”
“I would be honored to travel with you,” he told her. “And, thank you.”
As the gang once again assured him that they would be fine and he gave last minute advice to Xander about the work he already knew would need to be done to get the damaged store in opening shape, the disembodied voice returned, reporting that Flight 444 was ready for first class passengers to board.
“Well. That would be me, I’m afraid,” he cleared his throat. With a glance at Lavinia and a small smile, he added, “Us.”
As he and she went to the gate, the others called out the usual well wishes to a departing loved one and told him they’d speak to him very soon. Though, they didn’t know if that was so – no one knew what the Council would do with Giles, once his time in Devon was done.
“Can you run me back over to Carole’s, Tara,” Dawn asked as they left the airport, “I want to freshen up my make-up before going back to Kevin’s.”
“Sure,” she replied, with one arm slung around her shoulders. She was once again entertaining the worries she had about Buffy’s fate and Willow’s magic and the lack of Giles to help.
End Ch 10