MIGHT IT HAVE MADE A DIFFERENCE?
Set after Buffy's return to Sunnydale.
Giles had thought that once Buffy returned home, everything would be all right again. However, he is aware that things aren't; he is also aware that both Buffy and Xander have a secret and he sets out to discover that they are.
A Giles-centric gen story.
Written: August 2013. Word count: 2,750.
ENTRY #13 FROM THE PRIVATE WATCHER'S DIARY OF RUPERT GILES.
I had believed I would not write in this diary any more; I had believed I would have no need to write in the diary any more. However, last night I had a dream; a very vivid dream; a dream which took me back to Sunnydale to one of the worst times of my life. A time I do not particularly wish to recall, but find I must.
As such I have decided to take out my private watcher's diary and write in it again. This may be the last entry I shall write, but I suspect there will be more.
SUNNYDALE - 1998
I had believed that once Buffy returned to Sunnydale that everything would be all right; that things would return to normal - well normal for people living on a Hellmouth. However, that could not have been further from the truth.
Maybe I was guilty of being idealistic; maybe I was guilty of not thinking as an adult should think; maybe I was guilty of hoping too much; maybe I was guilty of caring too much. I had spent a large proportion of the summer holidays following up one lead after another after another, no matter how sketchy they had been, flying all over the country (at my own expense) in a desperate attempt to find Buffy and bring her home. Ten trips; ten fruitless, futile trips; ten planes; ten times I allowed my hopes to rise; ten times I had believed, I allowed myself to believe, that this would be the lead, that this would be the time when I would find Buffy and bring her home. Ten times I was disappointed; ten times I was let down.
And it wasn't just I who was disappointed; I who was let down. By failing to find Buffy and bring her home, I wasn't just disappointing myself, I was also disappointing Willow and Xander as well, and of course Joyce - although I often did not tell her of my trips until I had returned. I hadn't realised, I hadn't wanted to realise, just how deeply Joyce blamed me for Buffy leaving. She never said anything, not until I returned from my tenth futile trip - and then she told me. I was surprised, taken aback - but later, once I had returned home, when I thought about it, I did begin to wonder if what she had said had any merit.
Could I have stopped Buffy from leaving? What would have happened had I stayed in the mansion rather than leaving with Xander? Might I have been able to have in some way stopped what happened? Might I have been able to prevent Buffy from leaving Sunnydale? I could have talked to her, reasoned with her, tried to - tried to what? Comfort her? How could I? I who had been tortured by Angel - by Angelus - for hours? What could I have said to help her? Even if I had been in any condition to remain on my feet and think coherently, I truly do not believe I could have stopped her from leaving Sunnydale.
Joyce was correct. I was at least in part to blame, because I had helped make Buffy - I wasn't responsible for her being the slayer, but I had helped her become the slayer she was. And perhaps the most damning thing of all was that I had not sought to prevent her from forming a relationship with Angel. Had I done so, had she never fallen in love with him, then his death, his descent into hell at her hands, may not have hurt her so much. Indeed Acathla may never have happened; because had Buffy not loved Angel as she did, she would have been able to have killed him after he had become Angelus again. And had she been able to do that, then I would never have been tortured.
I also had to wonder that had I been stronger, had my will be stronger, and able to fight Drusilla's projection of Jenny, had I fought harder to reject what I knew to be a lie, then I would not have told Angel how to open Acathla. Maybe he would have figured it out on his own, maybe he would have worked out that he was the key; that it was his blood, not just anyone's blood, which the key, but maybe he wouldn't have.
I held out under the physical torture, I should have been stronger mentally. I should not have allowed myself to be fooled by Drusilla; I should have fought harder, told myself more forcefully that it was not Jenny who stood before me. That it was not Jenny saying all the things I wanted to hear; that Jenny had not returned to me; that Jenny had died at the hands of Angelus. That Jenny could not be there with me, because Jenny was dead.
I had cared for Jenny, maybe I had even begun to love her; yet I have to face the fact that I may have been instrumental in her death. Had I not turned from her; had I not taken Buffy's side when we discovered that Jenny had known of Angel's curse; had I not chosen my slayer over her; had I not walked away from her, then she would have told me of her findings, told me of what she was doing, told me that she was going to attempt to restore Angel's soul to him. She would not have been alone, and Angelus would not have killed her.
But I had turned my back, I had chosen Buffy over Jenny, I had walked away from her, and she had died at the hands of Angelus. My only comfort was that at least he had not done to her what he did to me; at least her death had been swift.
Jenny was dead; I had been tortured; Buffy had finally killed Angel and sent him to hell; Buffy had left Sunnydale and no one knew where she was.
And then suddenly Buffy was back; there she was, along with Willow and Xander and Oz and Cordelia standing outside my front door. Upon seeing her, seeing the girl I had spent futile weeks searching for, seeing the girl I knew I loved as a father would love his daughter, all I wanted to do was to embrace her, hold her close and keep her safe. However, I did not do that; some things are so engrained in one, it is hard to break away.
Would it have made a difference? Had I told her how pleased I was to see her again, pleased and relieved that she was alive and well; had I told her how worried I had been, how much I had missed her, how I had hunted for her - would it have made any kind of difference? Might she have told me the truth about what happened to Angel? And might she have been the one to tell me he had returned from hell?
Although with the wonderful tool called hindsight, I realised that she may have tried to tell me, without actually telling me. After all she told me about her so-called dream, why hadn't I worked out that she was trying to tell me what had actually happened? That it was real and not a dream? Were the hours of torture Angelus had inflicted on me still so clear in my mind that I did not want to contemplate the possibility that he was once again Angel? Did I fail Buffy again by not realising what she was telling me?
I had initially thought that all was well between Buffy and her friends. They talked together as they always had done; they laughed; they teased; they bantered and I, for the most part, just listened. I was so happy to hear her voice again; so happy that she was sitting once again in my sitting room, eating biscuits with her friends just like any normal teenage girl - except what do I know about what is normal for a teenage girl?
However, little by little I began to realise that things weren't quite so right between Buffy and the others, and being the adult I could understand why. Buffy had walked away; she had left her friends; she hadn't been there for them during changes in their lives; she had walked away from her calling and left Sunnydale unprotected.
They did their best, they did a fine job. However, when it came down to it, even though they had been the ones to volunteer to help her and then to carry on where she had left off when she had walked away, they should not have been putting their lives in danger. And I should not have let them; if anyone should have taken up the slack when Buffy had walked away, it should have been I. But I chose to try to find Buffy and bring her home; I chose to let Willow and Xander and Oz fight and slay vampires.
I tried to do what little I could to help make things right between them, but I knew only they could put things right. Only they could move on and regain their friendship; only they could work things out. And they did. It actually took them less time than I had at one point believed it would take them - but then there is something about facing death and possession that does bring people together. Thus, my family seemed to be back as it once had been.
Except they weren't; something was wrong with Buffy, I could see that. Once I had got over my initial happiness and relief of her safe return, and things had returned to what was normal for us, I realised she had not told us the true story about what had happened at the mansion on the night she had killed Angel and sent him to hell. And I knew until she told us she could not truly heal.
Thus, I told her I wished to perform a binding spell for Acathla and hence I needed to know all the details of her final fight with Angel and exactly what had happened on that night. Of course I should have realised that once Willow discovered I was planning to attempt a spell, she would wish to help. I did not like lying, neither to Buffy nor to Willow, but it was necessary. Of course neither Buffy nor Willow were suspicious, not for a moment, they took me at my word. Why would they not?
And finally Buffy told me, and Willow who happened to be in the library as well, the truth. She told us that Willow's spell had worked; that Angel's soul had been restored moments before his death; she told us in detail of how she had kissed him, told him she loved him and then killed him. She said it made her feel better telling us and I believe it did. And of course I then had to tell Willow that there hadn't been any binding spell.
I do not believe Willow ever told Buffy the truth about that fact I had made up the concept of the binding spell; I believe she kept that to herself. However, I do wonder quite how much Willow learning that her spell to restore Angel's soul, which involved powerful magic, was responsible for her continuing to practise and perfect spells. Maybe had she not known what she had done, then she wouldn't have become powerful enough to almost destroy the world. Except she would have discovered her spell had been successful when we all learnt that Angel had been returned to hell and was Angel again. However, I digress.
Xander's continued anger towards Buffy, especially when we learnt Angel was still alive, and the way he was almost manic one moment and the Xander I had grown to know the next, made me quite certain that he may well have been keeping a secret as well. A secret that made him feel somewhat guilty and yet it wasn't a guilt he wanted to feel. Something had happened and I guessed it had to have happened on the night Angelus had tortured me and Buffy had sent Angel to hell.
As such I set out to find out what his secret was. It was simple enough to ask him to come to the library to help me with some research, just as it was simple enough to be less than truthful when he'd asked why the others weren't there. And it was even fairly simple to bring the conversation around to that night. However, once I turned the conversation to that night and he became defensive, I knew my suspicions had been correct. He had done or said something - or maybe it was something he hadn't done or said.
"You saw Buffy before you came to rescue me?"
"Did you speak with her?"
"A bit. She was more interested in killing Angel, which, I have to say, she should have been."
"Quite. Did you tell her that Willow was going to attempt the soul-restoration spell again?"
"Did Buffy tell you I did?"
"No." The way he looked away from me and turned his full attention to the book in front of him - the book he failed to realise was upside down - told me everything I needed to know.
"Did Willow tell you to tell Buffy?"
"N- She may have mentioned it."
"Did Willow tell you to tell Buffy that she was going to try again to restore Angel's soul?"
"What did you tell Buffy? What exactly did you tell her? Did you tell her that Willow had told you to tell her something" He nodded. "And what did you tell her?"
"Kick his ass."
I stared at him and he stared back at me. I didn't need to ask him why he hadn't told Buffy the truth. I knew he still carried a torch for Buffy; I knew he still believed that one day Buffy was going to wake up and realise she loved him in the way she had loved Angel. And I also knew that he knew he was delusional.
"Would it have made a difference? You know, if I'd told Buffy?"
What could I say to him? The truth? A lie? Except what was the truth and what was the lie? Had Buffy known what Willow was attempting, could she have orchestrated the fight in such a way that Angel was kept away from Acathla? Maybe she could have. Or maybe it would have put her in danger, because no matter whether I wished to admit it or not, despite her saying she was ready to kill him, she still loved him.
And it was almost certainly too late anyway. Angelus had already started the process of opening Acathla; his blood had started the process. I had told him what to do; I had started the end of the world; I had not been strong enough to stand against Drusilla and her little game.
Acathla had to have a sacrifice; a good man; a true man - only such a thing could have stopped him, could have sealed the way to hell; could have prevented the world from being sucked into hell. That good man; that true man had been Angel. Had Buffy known that Willow had been attempting the spell then maybe -
The slayer should stand alone against the vampires and the demons; the slayer should be the one to fight them, to destroy them; to give her life if it were not possible to stop them any other way.
Might it have made a difference? Yes, of course it might - anything might have made a difference. I had to live with my guilt, my belief that were it not for me, then Angelus would never have found out the way to activate Acathla. Why should Xander have to live with the guilt that had he told Buffy what Willow had actually told him to tell her then maybe, just maybe . . .
"No, Xander. It wouldn't have."
I am the adult.
Thus, I knew Buffy and Xander's secrets. My slayer was back and for good or bad Angel was back.
Entries From The Private Watcher Diaries of Rupert Giles
Entry #01 - Not An Auspicious Start
Entry #02 - She Has Friends
Entry #03 - Buffy
Entry #04 - Willow
Entry #05 - Xander
Entry #06 - Angel/Angelus
Entry #07 - Rupert Giles AKA Ripper
Entry #08 - Judgement Calls
Entry #09 - Yuletide Musings
Entry #10 - Ethan's Return
Entry #11 - Vows To Be Kept
Entry #12 - Zenith Reached
Entry #13 - Might It Have Made A Difference?
Entry #14 - Unfamiliar Territory
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