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It Has to Be

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Go then, there are other worlds than these.

* * *

He breaks the demon's power stone because he hopes and prays that the world that was wished away is better than his world. He does not want to live in a world where there is no hope for humanity, where the vampires are slowly causing Sunnydale to rot from the inside out. Once they have consumed Sunnydale, he doubts that the Council has the strength or the army to prevent them from slowly consuming all of California and then the country and eventually the world.

Rupert Giles has seen what the vampires have done in this world. And he is heartsick with it. If he has a chance of destroying this nightmare of a world in favour of a possibly better one by destroying this stone, then that's what he will do.

Instead of ending in blood, the world ends in a flash of blinding white light. And for a moment, he feels nothing but relief. His fight is over.

* * *

As the library doors swing open, he looks up from the incomplete prophecy that he had been trying to translate while he kept his mind off of the fact that his Slayer was walking towards her death. Instead of Buffy marching into the library proud of her victory, it is Angel carrying her broken body.

"No," Giles whispers.

Angel sets her down on the long table where she had spent countless hours studying with her friends. The bottom hem of her dress is in muddy tatters and this makes him feel sick. He had set a child to her doom.

"It's over," Angel tells him. "She managed to kill the Master even as he drained her."

Giles looks up at the vampire sick to his stomach. He can't ask if she will rise herself but he needs to know. Angel seems to understand what he's asking without words.

"She won't rise," Angel flatly tells him. "I will make sure of that."

Giles numbly nods. He knows there are things that he needs to do. There's Council protocol that he must follow instead he sinks into the chair and holds Buffy's cold, white hand. He had been so certain that she would survive.


* * *

"Very good," Giles praises her. "Although your form still needs a little more work, I am pleased with your agility."

He tucks his speed-watch into the pocket of his tweed jacket.


It's instinct that causes him to drop to the ground as his Slayer vaults herself over him and takes out another vampire. Giles rolls to the side and pulls out a stake as he stands, scanning the area for more. Thankfully it's just the one and he watches as his Slayer drives the stake up into it's chest. She turns around with a vicious smile on her lips as it explodes into ash.

"How was that English?"

"Very dramatic Faith," Giles tells her. "However you must remember that Sunnydale is on an active Hellmouth and while dramatics might work in a place like Boston, there's no place for them here."

Faith pouts at him for a moment before asking if she can have some ice cream before calling it a night. They both know that it's code of her going off to the Bronze so that she can blow off some steam. Giles nods in response. He sees no need to restrict her completely to the strict rules of the Council. He suspects that if he were to try, she'd take off and abandon her duties.

"Very well, Faith but remember I expect you to be on time tomorrow morning for your training," Giles says.

* * *

Buffy Summers is a quiet girl. There is a scar that run along her face from the top of her left eyebrow down to the curve of her upper lip. Giles has often wondered how she came to have that scar but he doesn't ask. There's a reluctance about her, a quiet refusal to let him.

She accepts him as her Watcher but that is all she allows him to do. Buffy goes to him for information on what cemeteries she should patrol for newly turned vampires, for information on demon activity, and for prophecies. She allows him to give her pointers during her training with certain weapons but they both know that there's not much more that he can teach her that Merrick hadn't already taught her.

The only thing that sets her apart from most focused Slayers such as herself is her friendship with the equally quiet Willow Rosenberg. Giles had reluctantly allowed the painfully shy redhead in on Buffy's secret identity. He had hoped by allowing her to have normal friendships that Buffy might actually behave like a normal teenager, instead the pair of teenage girls are quiet and often feels that they are much older than he is.

He watches them sometimes from the library and instead of gossiping about boys, the pair devise plans on how to take down whatever monster the Hellmouth throws at them. For as hard and strong as they are, Giles wants to wrap them up in cotton-wool and protect them because he fears that these fierce girls are truly brittle and it will only take a little push for them to crash into a thousand broken pieces.

* * *

His thirst is unbearable. He's a failure just like his father had always predicted. Nothing but an absolute failure. Instead of following rules and protocol,, he'd allowed his Slayer far too many freedom and now she's gone. The Council doesn't really care because they have another Slayer. A girl who was called when Buffy died. The Council views each girl as disposable. When dies, another one is Chosen. If Buffy doesn't want to fulfill her sacred duty, it doesn't bother them.

Yet Giles feels that he owes it to Buffy, to her mother and to her friends to try to find her. To make sure that she's safe since he doesn't think that the monsters care one way or another if there's two active Slayers in the world. Killing a Slayer is all that matters to them. And somewhere out there Buffy is alone and without any guidance or help. He owes it to her to find her and bring her home safe.

Yet it's an almost impossible task for him to do. Every day, he wakes up after a sleep that's full of nightmares with a burning thirst for alcohol. He knows how easy it would be to drown his sorrow, his failure and guilt into a bottle of whisky. It'd be easy to drink bottle after bottle until there's nothing left of him. But somehow he manages to deny that thirst, he buries it underneath cup after cup of scalding hot tea until he can somehow function and follow up after leads while trying to ensure that Willow and Xander are safe as they foolishly try to keep the forces of darkness at bay.

All he allows himself is every night before sleep he allows himself just a taste of whisky. He tells himself that it's a reminder of what he'll lose if he's not careful of what will happen if he doesn't do his best to try to bring home his wayward Slayer to her mother and her friends.

Even if he knows in his heart of hearts that she's never coming home again.

* * *

The library seems strangely bright as Giles looks up from his book as the door swings open. He shudders and for a moment, he felt like he was somewhere else. A shout of laughter follows Buffy and Willow into the room. Buffy's hair is up in a high ponytail and she's animated as she tells Willow something. And the redhead is wearing a bright yellow blouse and has a wide smile on her face. They look normal and happy.

He can feel a memory or two slipping away from him as the girls drop their bags on the table and look up at him expectantly. For a moment, he worries that this is some sort of mirage or dream. It can't be real not when a moment ago he was certain the world was on the verge of collapsing because Buffy hadn't arrived in Sunnydale in time to stop the Master.

"Giles are you okay?" Buffy asks, her voice heavy with concern.

He nods and clears his throat. He has to tell himself that this is real that whatever he thought he was feeling was just some sort of unpleasantness from being on top of the Hellmouth. Giles will be glad when Buffy graduates and he can retire from the library. He's never told anyone but there's been far too many odd occurrences from the school being right on top of the Hellmouth.

"Sorry, just distracted."

The minute he speaks, everything falls into place. He completely forgets about those half-forgotten memories. The only thing that matters is that he's here in this Sunnydale.