DEATH WAS HER GIFT
Set during The Gift.
Giles is trying to come to terms with Buffy's death.
A Giles-centric gen story.
Written: October 2010. Word count: 1,300.
I watch her drop the hammer and hurry away, leaving Glory who is once again in Ben's form still alive. I move towards him and kneel down beside him. Already I know what I am going to do; what I have to do. "Can you move?"
"Need a . . . a minute. She could have killed me," Ben gasps.
I look down at him and shake my head. He doesn't understand. No one truly understands. "No, she couldn't. Never. And sooner or later Glory will re-emerge, and . . . make Buffy pay for that mercy. And the world with her. Buffy even knows that . . ." I reach into my pocket and take out my glasses. "And still she couldn't take a human life." Ben is listening to my every word. I cannot tell if he believes me or not; but it doesn't matter. I know the truth. "She's a hero, you see." I put my glasses on. "She's not like us."
"Us?" Is his tone suspicious? I do not know. I do not care. I'll make it quick; easy. I'll do what Buffy could never do. I am not a hero; I can take a human life.
I reach down, put my hand over Ben's nose and mouth and hold them shut. He struggles, but he's far too weak to really make an effort. Finally, he ceases to struggle and is still.
I sit for a moment or two, I'm not sure quite for how long, just looking at the person whose life I have taken. The life I took because Buffy, my Slayer, could not take it; could not kill a human being.
Finally, the noise and lights make me look up. Buffy's on the tower; she's with Dawn; the portal is opening; the end of the world is coming. As always happens people reach for, cling to, those they love the most. Xander holds Anya; Willow and Tara cling to one another; but the person I love most I cannot hold; she is up there on the tower.
I know what she will do; what she always does: what she has to do. I cannot stop her; even if I had the speed and strength of a vampire, I could not stop her. Spike cannot stop her. No one can; we are all stuck on the ground knowing this really could be the end of the world. We've faced it together many times, but this is different. Somehow this is different.
And then she jumps, well it's more like she's a bird; she lifts her arms and dives, dives down into the portal.
The portal shrinks to nothingness and disappears.
The sun begins to rise. But it never will truly rise for me. I'll never see the sunlight again.
Her body, her lifeless body, far too frail, far too tiny to be a Slayer, but she was the best Slayer the world has ever known, is on the ground surrounded by debris. We, Willow, Tara, Xander, Anya and I, all move towards it. Even Spike tries to get closer, but the sun beats him. A poignant reminder that he is a vampire, a mortal enemy of the Slayer, one of the two vampires Buffy loved, trusted, cared about, let into her life, into her world, into the lives of her friends. For a moment I wish he could join us, be with us as we stand in a silent vigil over the girl we all loved.
And then the tears start to fall. I try, I try so hard, not to shed them. Not to lose the British stiff upper lip; I try to be strong for the others, to keep my grief, my endless grief to myself. But I cannot. I love her so much. I love the child she was, the young woman she became; I love the girl I defied my training for, the girl who was for a while taken away from me because my love for her was that of a father.
I know now why Quentin told me I was useless to the cause; why I failed in her eighteenth birthday test. She passed; I failed. I failed because I loved her. Because I would put her safety before her calling.
I hear the others crying. Part of me still wants to comfort them; wants to take on the role of mentor, father, teacher, the adult, but I cannot. I am broken; her death has broken me. I've lived with the possibility of her death since the day I met her, before that even. I trained her to kill. I trained her to die. She did die, briefly. But she came back. Xander's breath brought her back.
However, this time there is nothing anyone can do, not Xander, not Willow, not Tara, not Anya, not Dawn, not Spike, not even Angel if he were here, not I. Buffy was loved so much by so many people, most of whom are here grieving for her, but not one of us can do anything for her. Not one of us, not with all our skills and knowledge of things most people shun, laugh at, ignore, don't think about, not one of us can bring her back.
She has gone and my world has cracked. The light has gone. My reason for being has gone. I have nothing left. I have nothing left to give. I have no reason for being here. I should go, leave America, make a proper break, go back to England, try to rebuild my life. Why is so hard? Other Watchers have lost Slayers; it's expected, understood. But no other Watcher has loved, has connected with their Slayer in the way I have.
I shall leave. I shall go back to England. I shall try to start a new life, doing what, I am not certain. But I shall go. I shall make a clean break from America, from Buffy, from the Scoobie Gang, from this life.
Then I lift my head and look around me. Look at the way Willow and Tara still cling to one another; see their tears falling unchecked down their faces. Look at Xander and Anya, also still crying, also still holding one another. Look at Spike, still on the ground out of the sunlight, his face in his hands, his shoulders shaking as he cries. Cries for the girl he loved, the girl who could never love him as he wanted her to because she would always love Angel. Angel, someone has to tell him. Someone has to tell him the girl he will never cease to love is finally dead.
I cannot leave. I cannot abandon these people whom I love, not as I loved Buffy, but whom I do in my own way love. Our ties go too deep. I cannot walk away from them; I cannot make a clean break. I have to stay. I have to remain here and help them; help them survive her death; help them train; help them adjust. Help them. I am the adult. I am the Watcher, a Watcher without a Slayer. I am the responsible one. There is no other adult who can help. And whilst they are in many ways so much older than their years, they are still so young, still little more than children. They need me. And part of me needs them.
Goodbye, Buffy; goodbye my Slayer; goodbye my daughter; goodbye my meaning; goodbye my friend; goodbye my light. I will do what I can, of that I promise, to take care of those you loved, of those for whom you gave your life. May you find the peace in death you never found, could never find, in life. Death was your gift. Your final gift. But it always was. I know that now. Goodbye.
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