I do not own the characters I'm playing with in this story.
Rupert Giles held the phone as if his life depended in it. He was afraid to breathe in case he would miss some little nuance in the willowy voice on the other end of the line.
"That's all I can recall of it, Giles," Buffy paused. "I just don't know how much more...." Buffy's soft voice trailed off but he knew what she meant.
"You have to hold on, Buffy. We have the best of the Council researching the cause," his words rang hollow even to his ears. His grip tightened on the phone and he wondered why it didn't crush in his hand. 'Giles' as his children loved to call him, walked to the window of his office. London was having an unusually cold winter and the snow lay deep, beautiful, and deadly on the council's grounds.
"Giles, it's Xander," the young man said needlessly. The Watcher would recognize his voice anywhere. "Buffy's taken more of the potion and gone back to bed." Xander's exhausted sigh came through the transatlantic call clearly.
"Were you able to get her to eat or drink anything?" The Head of the Council asked, fearing the answer.
"I think Dawn got her to eat something, plus one of those drinks the doctor suggested," Xander answered.
'Not enough, it's just not enough,' Giles thought. 'How much longer could Buffy go without food?' He leaned against the cold pane of the glass window trying cool his suddenly hot face. It wouldn't do if someone walked in to find the Watcher crying.
"Giles, has there been any word at all from Willow and the Coven? Anything at all?" The desperation in the voice of the Head Watcher of the Cleveland Hellmouth was clear.
"No, not yet," Giles answered, still leaning against the cold glass pane of the window. "Last I heard the Seers needed some of Buffy's blood to make sure this wasn't a spell of some kind." He stopped speaking, it just had to be some kind of spell, a spell they could fix.
"What if it's not?" Giles could tell that Xander nearly choked on the words. And Giles' realized that he had to be strong for the children. No matter how old they were, he would always be their parent.
"Then we will deal with it then," Giles made his words sure. "I understand that there are a lot of new drugs out on the market these days for cases like this." He knew as he said it that he was lying. If Buffy's illness wasn't caused by a spell then there would be no hope for her and that would cause the entire fight to be set back. Then he cursed his father's name for making him into such a good Watcher. For thinking about the "War" instead of Buffy and for not being the father he longed to be to the daughter of his heart.
But he still had to face the facts, Buffy was the Prime Slayer, the heart to all the children whom the Powers had called to fight this horrible war against the forces of Darkness. If she was lost, if she was lost in this way, then it would destroy all the children's will to keep on fighting.
And without the will to fight....
"Giles?" Xander's hoarse voice brought him out of his bleak thoughts.
He was a Watcher first and foremost, he just had to make sure that Buffy wasn't lost. He pushed away from the cold pane of the window and dashed the tears out of his eyes, he had his Slayer to save.
Giles ordered, "Once she's down take some of her blood and Fed Ex it overnight to the Coven, that way they won't have to waste the energy on teleporting it. They won't be able to set-up the spell until tomorrow anyway."
"OK, I have the address," Xander's voice sounded better and Giles realized that the boy was expecting him to make it all right. That Xander was relieved to be taking the orders instead of trying to give them.
"Good, I'll catch the overnight to New York and arrange for the Council jet to meet me there. I'll be in Cleveland by noon your time. By then the Coven should know something." The Watcher decided to go to Cleveland even as the words were leaving his mouth.
"Giles?" The young man's tentative voice broke the silence that had fallen between them as each thought of a way they could help Buffy. "Do you think it's a good idea to have both you and Buffy in the same place? I mean...." And Giles couldn't have been more proud of Xander because now he, too was thinking like a Watcher. At the same time he felt the sharp pain of grief. Xander was the group's heart, but now that heart had been so beaten, so wounded by life that he could no longer afford to use it.
"I know Xander, but its just a chance we have to take," Giles answered, his mind already working on what kind of spell ingredients he should take with him.
"Um one other thing, Giles." Xander said, "what about that Air Force General we met while briefing the U.N. about the New Council? The one that was in charge of the Stargate Program?"
"I fail to see...." Giles started to say only to be interrupted.
"Giles General O'Neill said they had some new ways to help with the problems that arose from fighting unusual enemies. Maybe we should contact him if the Coven...." Xander trailed off.
"No," Giles cut in. "He's military and remember about our last run-in with the military?" He would not let Buffy fall into their nefarious hands.
"I agree Giles, but the Stargate program is under international oversight and, besides, I think General O'Neill is honest." Xander persisted and when Giles thought about it he really didn't have a choice.
"You just liked him because he understood all your jokes," Giles answered. He too had been impressed with the General and his immediate superior a Major General or was it two star General Hammond? Giles didn't know his exact rank the American military loved to confuse people with their different ranks and ribbons. What he did know was that he had been impressed both Generals, he just didn't know if he could trust them with the most thing in his life, Buffy.
"True, Giles, but that's not why I trust him," Xander said solemnly. "I trust him because of the way all the people both above him and below him in rank trusted him."
Giles had to admit that once again Xander was right. Still, he wasn't ready to give up control.
"I'm not ready to go down that path yet, Xander. I'll see you in the morning," he hung up before the boy could reply. He had just enough time to get to the airport and he didn't want to debate something that might not happen.
The Coven would find the reason. They had to.