The Guardians

Buffy learns about names and magic.


Giles and Jenny had a little boy, right at the end of September. Giles called the day something funny, which Buffy didn’t catch, but that Giles said was significant. Buffy was off doing some serious Slaying when it all happened, but the phone call from Giles the next morning said it had been routine, as smooth as it ever gets. Mother and son doing well, visitors welcome in another day or so once they’d all recovered. Buffy brought them presents and met the newest Giles, who looked like a tiny sack of potatoes in his blue onesie. Cute as the proverbial button, though. Ms Calendar looked fabulous and was in a triumphant show-off mood, bubbling over with way more energy than Buffy expected.

A few days later Giles was back on the job, back on both jobs, catching up with Buffy on the Slaying front and dealing with the backlog of shelving his totally annoying substitute had left behind. Buffy sat with him at the study table and gave him the update while he scribbled notes in his Watcher journal. He looked thrashed, all tired-eyed and rumpled. No sleep in days, she figured, but he had that quiet glow that meant all was better than good in the Giles world.

Buffy finished up her report, which had been all-in-all boring and routine, then asked the big question: “What’s Junior’s name, anyway? Have you guys decided?”

“Yes, we’ve decided.”

Buffy stopped, afflicted by a sudden bad thought. “Not Rupert Junior?”

Giles’s eyes crinkled up, but he shook his head. “Nothing so dreadful. He’ll be given three names. Peter, after my father. Michael, after the day he was born.”

“Peter Michael Giles. Not bad. What’s the third one?”

“Jenny whispered it in his ear right after the birth. It’s so secret even I don’t know it. She tells me it’s his true name.” Giles shrugged.

“Peter Michael Secret-name Giles. Gypsy thing?”

“A Roma thing, yes.”

Giles cleared his throat, and told Buffy a few more secrets. There was negotiation going on between him and Jenny, about religion and magic and other things, like how Peter was going to be raised. Jenny was mostly Catholic, like Buffy, the “mostly” coming from a bunch of Roma traditions that her family had going on top of the usual. Giles was a species of Anglican with a Watchery twist. Or so he explained it. The two of them had worked out a christening ceremony that satisfied both of them, and the vicar-guy who’d married them had consented to perform it.

It turned out that Giles had been serious about the godparent thing, because the next thing out of his mouth was a stuttery formal request that she participate in the christening ceremony on the coming Sunday. Giles sat gazing at her almost anxiously. Buffy picked up on his mood and answered him totally seriously and told him she’d be thrilled to.

Giles took off his glasses and polished them. “Marvelous. Thank you. I-- uh, thank you.”

“What does it mean, exactly? I’ve never been a godparent. Doesn’t he get two?”

“Three,” Giles said, and he stuck his glasses back onto his nose. “Two men, and one woman. Robson will be flying out here again. My best man; you remember him.”

Buffy wrinkled her nose. She’d avoided him on principle, because he was a Watcher, though if Giles liked him that counted for something.

Giles was talking some more. "The ceremony is simple, easy enough to perform, but it needs to be approached seriously, because it will be a magic ritual. You’ll be standing for him and telling the Powers you’re his guardian. His guardian in a spiritual and mystical sense. "

He looked anxious as he talked, as if it were important that Buffy understood. He was taking it way more seriously than she’d expected. And she was surprised that he’d let magic get mixed up with church stuff. But Giles said, groping for words, that religion was magic to start with, especially for people like Watchers and Slayers. And his son was going to be a Watcher some day. He’d done a reading right after the birth, and the signs were clear. He sighed when he explained this to Buffy, and looked almost sad. But it meant he needed a Watcher on the godparent list, and Giles said he trusted Robson. Buffy wasn’t sure what that meant, exactly. They’d never really talked about the Watchers. Buffy knew Giles wasn’t the only one, but if there was a whole gang of them back in the motherland, they didn’t seem to do much.

But his son’s destiny as a Watcher was also was why Giles was particularly honored, he said, that the Slayer would be one of his godparents. The Slayer as guardian of the young Watcher, just as someday he would be a Slayer’s guardian. Buffy blinked, and maintained her suave, even though she was perilously close to choking up.

“Who’s the other godparent?” she said quickly, to cover up.

“I was thinking of asking Xander.”

“Xander?” Buffy felt it would not be possible to overstate her surprise.

“I feel strongly about him,” Giles said, looking at his hands instead of at Buffy. “He brought you back to life. I think-- well, I believe that was significant. You may call me superstitious if you like. But I-- Anyway. I’ll be forever grateful to him.”

“Me too,” Buffy said, quietly.

“I’ll ask him when he comes by after class. Do you think he’ll–”

“Duh. He’ll fall all over himself.”

“Right, right. Then I’ll teach you both what you need to know about the ceremony. It’s quite simple. In the meantime, must get these bloody books shelved.”

Giles stood and ran a hand through his already-messy hair, and like that, snap, he was a librarian again. Buffy sat and thought about things after he vanished into the stacks with his book cart. She’d never thought of herself as religious. Christmas and Easter, that was when her family went to church and heard Mass and did the wacky stuff. Twice a year, some nice comforting bland rituals before you went home and had fun with your family. The rest of the time she didn’t think about it. Not even when she watched the priest do a special blessing on the holy water he gave her every week. Even though there had to be mojo working, the mojo that made the holy water and the crucifixes hurt the vamps. Or not mojo, but the Powers. God. Whatever it was. It had to be real, because souls and demons and heaven and hell and all that stuff was real. Sort of a big surprise, but now that Giles was making Buffy think about it, it all fit.

The world was not what she had thought it was. It was far more like the creepy place she’d been scared it was when she was small, when she took things literally. Bit of a trip to come out the other side and learn that no, all this science and rationality came to a screeching halt the moment you looked under the bed and found there really was a monster there.

On the plus side, Buffy was no longer scared of monsters. They were scared of her. Nothing quite like sauntering through a cemetery and seeing the baddies turn tail when she gave them her cheeriest hello.

And at times like this, Buffy felt the world was infinitely cooler than she’d thought it was. She headed off to class in a good mood.

Xander said yes, of course, and so it came to be a few days later that Buffy was dressed up nicely in a church for the second time ever that was not Christmas or Easter. She stood in the clump of people around the font, between a calm and solid Robson and a jittering Xander. He wasn’t quite as cleaned up as he’d been for the wedding, but he was wearing a new knitted tie, a present from Willow, and he’d even learned to tie it himself. He told Buffy this then jabbed her in the arm with an over-active elbow. Fortunately he settled down when it came time to work their mojo thing on Peter.

Peter didn’t settle down, though. He was fussy to start with and built to an all-out wail when the vicar shook water on his head. The salt silenced him for about three seconds, then the wailing recommenced. Good thing this was a short ceremony. He wailed at Robson, and he wailed at Xander. Then it was Buffy’s turn to get sobbed at.

Buffy stepped up and dipped her fingers into that special oil that Giles said was called chrism, which sounded gross but smelled sweet. She said her Latin words and signed the cross on the poor kid’s head, and had another one of those world-shifting moments. This was what magic felt like: it tingled and fizzled and felt strangely good, like static electricity fuzzing around a balloon you’d rubbed on your sweater. And wonder of wonders, Peter shut up. He waved a tiny pink hand around and collided with her oily finger, as if by accident, and latched on tight.

Buffy smiled down at him and bent close to his little head, to his little face and bitty nose under the white lacy cap. World’s smallest guardian of Slayers, Peter Michael Secret-Name Giles. She whispered to him: “I’ll take care of you, kiddo.”

The Guardians

giles/jenny general

1579 words; reading time 6 min.

first posted here

on 2008/04/04

tags: baby, c:buffy, c:giles, c:jenny, c:xander, happy, magic, religion, season:02, watchers, f:btvs, p:giles/jenny, s:watchers_child