I look back at all the times I couldíve, wouldíve, shouldíve said something different: when Xander wouldnít stop berating me for not killing Angel, when everyone ganged up on me when I got back from my summer away, when Angel decided to leave me so I could have a "normal life" (howís it looking now, Angel? Worth breaking my heart over?), when all of us turned on each other at Spikeís directionóso many times.
I shouldíve shoved the truth in their faces. I shouldíve used this wit Iím so good with when it doesnít matter a damn and cut through all the bullshit. But no, I keep coming out with "You donít understand." And "It wasnít like that" and "You donít know what Iíve been through." Of course they donít care. Itís weak and itís whiny and it sounds like Iím making an excuse.
But why did it have to happen now? Now, when a reasoned, logical argument mattered more than anything else in the world?
I have it all in my head. Itís all logical. It all makes sense, and isnít dependant on my feelings, because Giles has hardened himself to them. He thinks he has to hurt me to help me. Tough love.
"Giles," I should have said. "You keep talking about my mother. How she did it all without benefit of super powers, how sheís taught me everything I need to know about life. Do you know what my mother did have benefit of, Giles? A college education. Alimony. Child support payments. Ownership of an art gallery. Iím not even qualified to be a secretary, Giles. Even if I could get a job, Iíd lose it almost instantly because Iíd either miss work for something demon-related, or something will come after me at work. Iíll never work construction in Sunnydale again, remember?"
"I canít afford this house, Giles, and I canít afford Dawn. Iíll never say it like that in her presence, but itís the truth. When I ran away that summer, I only had to take care of myself, and I lived in a tiny efficiency. By myself."
"And how about taking care of Dawn?" I should have continued. "Iím not an authority figure to her. I never have been. Iím her bossy older sister. She Who Must Be Resisted. She needs a real adult, a real authority figure, because having her Bossy Older Sister, the one she remembers cutting classes and getting sucky grades, telling her to do her homework isnít even a good joke."
If Iíd said all of that, Giles might still be here. He might realize that there are very real reasons that I need his help, and that my "growing up" isnít really a factor here.
Instead, I came out with the guilt trip and the "what Iíve been through"ójust what he was expecting and braced for, in other wordsóand heís on a plane for England.
I remember a phrase from French class. It means "spirit of the stairs". It means when you think of the exact right thing to say later. After itís all over and the right thing doesnít help you.
I should make it my motto. Itís the story of my life. Every important thing Iíve ever said, Iíve said on the way down the stairs.