Author's Notes: Another challenge response for the jossverse - Beta'd by Spikeslovebite rocks because grammer and I so unmixy Thanks hun! Oh and this one is dark.
Disclaimer: As always, the characters are creations of JossPart 1
Giles reflected on his sins. They were many, but some haunted him more than others. He was always taught to save the world. That feelings, that people…none of that mattered. That the slayer- and yes, even her watcher- was dispensable. The only thing that mattered was the fight against evil, the institutions which kept said evil at bay, and doing the right thing.
But what happened when the right thing- when the fight against evil- destroyed everything and everyone he had ever loved?
He’d known his slayer would never win against Glory. He loved Buffy, loved her like a daughter…and sometimes, when he was drunk enough, he admitted he loved her in ways that were not entirely paternal. It was why he knew that she wouldn’t win. She didn’t have it in her to make the appropriate sacrifice. She would take the high ground and it would kill her.
She would fight the hell god and die if necessary, but she wouldn’t be able to truly prevent the apocalypse because Giles knew that the Knights were right. The only way to stop the end of the world would be to destroy the Key.
The Key is the link and the link must be severed. Such is the will of God.
But he’d known she would never accept that, which is why he never explained it to her.
No one understood that to truly be a watcher, one had to make the tough choices. Who could be saved, who could be sacrificed, what would keep the world safe, and what would kill your soul, but save your slayer.
So he made arrangements while she was distracted – he sent her off on a vision-quest while he prepared the ritual. One that would drain the Key of energy, of life. It would sever the link and destroy him in the process.
Dawn had looked like a helpless girl. It didn’t matter to him that she was fake, that she wasn’t real, that his memories were false. She’d felt real under his hands, struggling against her bonds, her eyes wide with fright, scared at the knowledge that her sister’s watcher – a man she’d thought of as her father – was preparing to kill her.
She felt real, warm and… so very supple. Another thought that would damn him to hell.
Dawn hadn’t seemed surprised, though. It was as if she’d known somehow – knew that while the others scrambled to save her, and forged weapons against Glory, that Giles would take action. That her father figure would become her murderer; saving Buffy, but damning himself in the process.
Dawn hated him for his actions, yet loved him as only a daughter could. She’d closed her eyes and leaned towards him when he raised the dagger, trusting him to do what was right in the end.
That image; her beautiful blue eyes closed, her slim body ceasing to struggle as she accepted her fate…
That was what truly haunted him in the end.Part 2
In his dreams, he saved them all. Dawn’s death was hard on them, but they accepted. They cried, and they lived. They loved him despite his actions.
But that was only a dream, of course. Reality was harsher, harder, and far more deadly. Reality was his slayer returning from her vision quest, not understanding the reality of which the first slayer spoke. Not understanding that yes, death was her gift. She didn’t have to fight Glory, the link was severed, and in time memories of her sister would fade.
She didn’t understand that the death of her fake sister was the only option available, the only way to save the world. In that moment, he hated her. Dawn had understood that there was no other option. Dawn had given herself to his blade in the end.
His anger made him careless. He couldn’t understand the tears, the near catatonic state Buffy wanted to exist in. Dawn had accepted her fate; why couldn’t Buffy? And it was the slip of his tongue which unraveled their family for good.
Strangely, Spike was the first to catch his misspoken comment. The first to realize it was not only Giles who had found the body, but Giles who had wielded the knife.
Even chipped, the vampire was deadly. Funny how they never realized that. Spike attacked him, of course, ignoring the electrical pulses surging through his brain. Punching, screaming, yelling until Giles was bloody and Spike unconscious from the pain. He wondered why Spike didn’t kill him. Perhaps he’d known that allowing Giles to live would be a far worse punishment for his crime than the sweet release of death.
The others were slow to act, their faces reflecting horror, incomprehension, and finally denial. They wouldn’t believe it. They begged him to deny it, yet he couldn’t make the words pass his lips. His memories of Dawn’s death: how she trusted him, how she leaned in to the blade, her sigh as she resigned herself to what was to come. In the end, he couldn’t deny her memory, he couldn’t do that to her.
Not even to save himself.
In the end, the love of his Slayer had been supplanted by the need to honor a construction who consumed his thoughts.
He wondered if it was somehow her revenge. That he couldn’t deny her, couldn’t forget her, and then he wondered if perhaps he was simply going mad.Part 3
Sometimes he wondered if it was worth it, if perhaps he should have just let the world end?
They didn’t kill him. They turned and walked away. Denying his existence, his worth, his sacrifice. He had nothing left and finally he packed up and went home. Years went by and he learned of their various deaths.
One by one they died for the cause until there was only one left. Irony, thy name is Buffy. The one who refused to live after her sister’s death was the one who lasted the longest.
She quit. She simply quit. She didn’t patrol, she didn’t research. She simply sat and watched the world go by. Her body was still there, sitting in Dawn’s room, her mind drifting through memories and betrayals.
He wasn’t sure of all the details, but he knew the others tried. Yet, one by one, they all succumbed to the hell mouth. They were brave; trying to do the Slayer’s job, when the Slayer simply wouldn’t.
In the end he wished for madness, wished for death, to find forgiveness and absolution beyond the grave. He knew she would be waiting. She had been timeless, energy without form. Surely his destruction of the shell wouldn’t have killed her. She was waiting. She had to be.
No one understood. Not the Slayer, not the Scoobies, not even the bloody Council. No one understood. But she would. She was waiting. And one day he would find her again.
His laughter rang out throughout the asylum.
He may have saved his Slayer, but in the end, he’d doomed them all.