Greater Good Part 26/27: When Daylight Comes…

Slayer and Watcher remained at their perspective doors, staring across the wrecked emptiness of the church hall. Buffy went to speak and held back, unwilling to chance some silly remark at the expense of her pride. The bitter taste of rejection was much too fresh. Giles also found the silence necessary to fill but was unable to do so, his doubts still governing him. So they watched each other, waiting.

Even when dressed for business, clothed in an oversized, gray sweatshirt, loose-fit jeans, and sneakers, Buffy was radiant. He wanted to tell her just how much she meant to him, how he couldn't stop thinking of her and what a fool he was for trying to stay away. Something prevented him. Duty perhaps, but it was much more likely that it was his fear.

Something was different. Giles looked the same but there was something there she couldn't put her finger on. He was dressed in his familiar and recently favored gloomy clothes; black satin, button-down shirt, tight and shapely worn-in, button-fly jeans, heavy, thick-soled boots. His eyes were dim, no longer piercing the darkness with their eerie demonic fire she'd remembered from before.

As if damning their stubbornness, the stale quiet was shattered by a crow breaking free from the dusty ground and struggling against gravity to take flight. Its crooked wings were just strong enough to allow it to escape out a broken window by the watchful statue above. Buffy and Giles were jostled out of their complacency by the interruption.

After a beat, Buffy returned her attention to Giles, noticing his heaving chest, gasping for calming breathes. It was a trick of the darkness, it had to be. She stepped forward, listening, hoping that what the apparition of her first Watcher had told her was true.

Giles walked a few paces, sweat droplets forming along his brow as he struggled to hold himself back from taking her into his arms. It took every ounce of his will. They met near the center of the stage, stopping just shy of closing the gap.

"It was you, wasn't it?" Her voice was soft but stern.

Giles mind was racing. He didn't know what to do, what to say.

"Dawn's voice," Buffy explained. "You gave her back her voice."

"It was the least I could do." He suddenly felt ashamed and looked away. "How did you...?"

" Willow told me... said it would have hurt you... said it was dangerous." Her face remained unemotional but he could hear her frustration. "She said it could have killed you, Giles."

"I deemed it worthy of such a risk."

"But I'm not?" Her eyes ached for answers. "You won't risk being with me... staying with me."

"That's a far different risk, Buffy, and you know it."

"And if it wasn't?"

That was the real question. Would he be with her had he not been damned? And now, he stood before her as man dying to touch her and he found himself forbidding it. She deserved to know what had happened. But rather than try to explain, he chose to seek out some significant illustration of his transformation. He quickly scanned the room for any reflective surface, anything that might offer a suitable chance to give her an understanding of what had transpired just moments before. He spotted the golden cross etched candleholder and reached out, wrapping his hand around it, watching her expression all the while. She rushed forward to free him from the searing touch but stopped with the absence of any smoke.

"I never wanted to hurt you or push you away…" he started. After a moment, Giles released the candle stick and displayed his unharmed flesh. "I did what I thought was best… for you, for them."

Buffy reached out and took his hand in hers. Her breath caught in wonder of the warmth of his touch. She felt along the creases of his palm for some mark of the burnt skin that should be there, but there was none.

Giles pulled her in, guiding her open palm to his rising chest. He placed it over the gentle thump, the echoing sound of his beating heart. What Merrick said was true... Giles was alive. A tear escaped her eye as her hand pressed firmer; seeking out some explanation but Giles only offered a slender smile.

"Is this real?" she asked in a struggled voice, her forehead creasing with uncertainty.

Giles cupped her chin and drew his thumb tenderly along her cheek. "Won't last," he whispered ruefully.

"I'm not asking for forever..." She stepped closer and her hand moved up to curve around his neck. He spread his lips to speak and before he could, she leaned in, pulled his head down to her, and captured his mouth with hers. His soul wept.

She wasn't his to have, to hold, yet he wanted nothing more. He waited for lightning to strike him down for letting her touch him so profoundly, but the punishment never came. So he breathed her in, letting every impulse simmer until he knew it was what she truly wanted. Her hands slipped to his waist, gripped his frayed belt loops and pulled him in. She suckled along his mouth, gently urging him to accept her. His mind filled with words like obligation and duty. Thoughts of what she rightly deserved that he could never give to her. But locked within her devastatingly accepting kiss, he was enslaved.

In merciful defeat, Giles took her into his arms and joined her in the passionate kiss. Buffy smiled victoriously against his lips. With a slight nibble of his bottom lip, she slipped her tongue between his teeth to claim his mouth. He savored the sultry intrusion, pressing his lips together to trap her within his moist embrace.

His fingers crawled along the small of her back, coming to rest on the base of her head. Satin lips tickled along her mouth and she could feel him pressing against her, taut and low. Thumping and pulsing, his body was humming with desire for her. The heat between them was inescapable, searing the atmosphere around them.

She looked up with glistening eyes, mystified with a yearning for more and he took in the spectacle of her lovely face. She was everything to him, had been for more than half his life, his duty sealed before she'd even been conceived. She'd no comprehension of what power she held over him.

Buffy waited for him, not wanting to rush the moment but aching to touch, to taste, to experience the man haunting both her thoughts and dreams, stealing away the empty seconds of her life. He was capable of sending her to new heights with a single touch then able to send her crashing toward ruin with a solitary word.

Giles nuzzled tenderly to her forehead, and then gradually let his lips pass lightly over her skin, on their journey toward her mouth. She closed her eyes as the delicate caress of his velvety flesh tickled along her face and when their lips met, she leaned into the kiss as if to say there was no going back.

The kiss deepened, intense and anxious. His nerves tingled as she trailed her fingers along his back, following the contours of his spine until she reached the edge of his loose, black, silky shirt. She gave his bottom lip a gentle tug with her teeth, as if to distract him while she slipped her hands underneath the fabric, touching his sweltering, bare skin. His lips curled to a smile against her, and he pulled her nearer, encouraging her exploration.

Buffy was fascinated. Giles muscles went wild under her fingertips, tensing and superheated; he was so alive and she wanted to feel more of him. She brought her hands around his sides, gliding her hands beneath the fabric, careful not to surrender contact. Their kiss grew clumsy as she brushed her fingers up his stomach, sending a ripple of tension through him. She pulled away, offering only a mischievous look as an explanation. He watched with hungry eyes as she began to work his shirt buttons open one by one from the top down. She'd only made it to the third when he ripped the shirt open. Buttons rained to the ground and he pulled her back into his arms to steal another kiss. His impatience was rewarded with a bold stroke of Buffy's hand. She combed her delicate fingers through the peppered curls donning his chest, gently grazing his skin up to his neck where she guided the remains of his shirt off his broad shoulders. As it fell to the dusty ground, she stepped back, wanting to see him as she'd dreamed of seeing him for so long.

Giles understood her curiosity and accepted the intermission with every bit of patience he could afford her. Her gray-green eyes studied his physique, like an inquisitive nurse seeking out the source of an ache. He wanted to show her just where it hurt. Instead, he waited, letting her get her fill of him.

Buffy was breathless. Giles' long, lean torso was a map of pain, scored with sad reminders of his years as a Watcher. Every mark, every scar was cause for regrets. Yet, she was strangely in awe. It was one thing to suffer such wounds as a Slayer; rapid healing spared her from any lasting reminders. But to be normal and endure such injuries... he was remarkable. And though his body told the tale of his life of servility, his compilation of battle scars couldn't diminish his handsome form. Giles was stunning.

Buffy's gaze lifted, settling on his wondrous, green eyes. Exposed to her like he'd never been before, and he was calm, like it was completely natural for him. Suddenly for her, it felt like the first time, awkward and shy. She lowered her stare and focused her attention on her sweatshirt. After a moment, she slowly gathered the fabric and pulled it up, over her head. She held it in her hands, nervous about letting it go, keeping her eyes fixed on it in an instant of trepidation.

It was what she'd wanted for so long. Giles finally stood before her, offering himself to her and she was unbearably nervous. She chanced a look at him. He was smiling, an adoring smile, and it made her smile. With a deep breath, she abandoned her inhibitions, letting the shirt fall to the ground as she slipped off her sports bra and tossed it aside. His smile waned, replaced by sobering desire. Even though he was a few feet away, she could feel the magnetic heat of his body calling her. She wanted this, wanted him, and God he wanted her so bad she could taste it.

Giles outstretched his hand to her in a gentle invitation, making her come to him. It somehow seemed appropriate. She moved forward, slipping her hand into his as she approached. He guided her closer, stopping her with a feather-light kiss when she was where he wanted her. She waited anxiously to see what he was going to do. He kissed her chin while running a single coarse finger up her arm and across her neck. It sent a swell of heat through her, echoing out only to return low and deep within her, and she closed her eyes to relish it. His lips moved on, following the path of his fingers as they tickled along the curves of her neck, down her chest. Her breath caught at the first touch of his hand to her breast. He was so tender but deliberate, admiring every curve and peak. Then, she let out an uncontainable gasp as his damp lips covered her nipple. She stiffened with his gentle peck. He breathed on her skin, moist and hot, sending more shivers through her. Another kiss to her aroused nipple, more firm. His fingers continued to explore her as he suckled, tracing the contours of her stomach, her hips, her ass. His attentions fell on her other breast and Buffy's breathing deepened as his tongue curled around her excited flesh, drawing out a carnal moan of appreciation from her. She grasped at his head, seeking out something to steady her buckling legs.

Giles stopped and Buffy dizzily gazed down at him, all glossy-eyed. He was perched on his knees, face angled up, staring amorously up at her.

"You are so lovely." His tone was soft, humbled.

Buffy flushed at the flattery. "Yeah, right..."

"You are," he insisted. His large hands curved over her hips and he nuzzled his cheek to her bare abdomen. "Such powerful beauty. It defies possibility."

She wrapped her arm around his head and held him to her, combing her fingers through his tousled locks. He encircled her with his arms and let out a contented sigh. It felt so good, knowing he was right there, knowing he loved her. She slid her body through his thick arms and joined him on the ground. He smiled as her face fell in line with his. Offering an impish kiss, she leaned back, pulling him down with her as she lay across her discarded shirt. He rested his head on her stomach for a moment then began to place more tender kisses along her silken skin.

It took a single kiss to her navel, and Buffy's mind was awash with desire. Giles felt the heat rise from her as he dipped the tip of his tongue into the hollow. She tensed, her body crying out for more. She tugged at him, trying to direct him to return his mouth to hers. He followed her commands, wanting to cater to her every whim. But then, with a well placed stroke of her insistent hand, Giles lost all focus, falling victim to her stealthy grope.

Buffy had him; her hand cupping and pressing against his rigid bulge. She couldn't wait any longer to feel him; that most intimate flesh that burned for her and she couldn't help but respond. His mouth turned loose and carelessness, drifting slightly away. She peeked up at his face. He was aglow with gratification, his eyes closing out all but the sensation of her urgent kneading. His cheeks were flushed with passion, the lines of his distinctive features creased with pleasure as she stroked along his shrouded groin. It was addictive for her, to see such bliss from him, and she sought more.

With a slight bend in her knee and the subtle lift of her hip, she rolled him over, sending him to the ground beside her. She sat upright and straddled him, blanketing his starving mound with her eager loins and after a gentle suckle of his bottom lip, she began to rock.

At first, she moved slow and rhythmical, rubbing along his sheltered erection, with only the fabric of their jeans to prevent their joining. But soon, the reserved rhythm couldn't satisfy Giles hunger for her. With a growl of impatient desire, he grasped at her hips and encouraged her motions to quicken with ardent direction. His flesh pulsated through the fabric and she felt every magnificent thump. She wanted more of him, needed to feel every inch.

"Giles..." she moaned, "... you're so hard, so good, so... so ..."

"Beautiful," he finished and reached out and placed his hand to her flushed cheek. She grasped it, holding it to her as she continued to grind. It was beyond erotic, Buffy's moans and winces of uncontainable pleasure sent Giles to a place of shameless arousal he'd never felt before. He wanted her to cry out in ecstasy, to know what it was to have that moment of pure happiness and not be denied. He sat up and took her into his arms, kissing her with restless abandon as he shifted forward into her, making her lose balance and fall back to the floor.

Before she could protest, his sultry tongue circled around her nipple and glided down the length of her torso. It was amazing; his tongue could do such remarkable things. His hand popped open the button if her jeans and continued on, massaging along her thigh, rubbing down her calf to her feet. She watched him with a naughty smirk playing on her lips as he worked her shoes loose one by one and tossed them aside. Another gentle massage, kneading her small feet and he slipped her socks off. He lifted one foot to his lips and planted a tender kiss to it, guiding it to return to the ground, parting her legs with the motion. There was fire in his eyes, so persuasive it made her moist and she watched breathlessly as he slipped between her legs and crawled up her body. He stopped mid way, suspending himself above her, his strong arms tensing. Then, with a sly grin, he dipped down and used his tongue to capture the zipper clasp between his teeth and unzipped her jeans, slow and easy. It was a display she'd never forget, her Watcher, exuding such raw sexuality that she was lost to the world. He was all she could see.

Giles carefully drew down her jeans, revealing such decorative, flimsy, lace panties that he couldn't help but smile. It was pure Buffy, to exhibit such an air of confidence and strength but all the while remaining delicate and feminine; always a woman. She was incredibly sexy and the sight of her lace panties excited him even more. After freeing her legs from her jeans and panties, Giles relaxed, lowering his body to the ground, resting his head to her thigh and Buffy gasped at the intimacy.

She could feel his sizzling breath and the slight stubble of his chin as he nestled to her responsive skin. After a moment, he kissed her inner thigh, so soft and gentle and Buffy couldn't breathe. Another kiss, more erotic, his tongue grazing her skin and she clawed at the floor for something to hold onto. Soon, his mouth had worked her skin into a glistening frenzy with his irresistible kisses and licks. Then, his hands grew more daring, gliding along the tight length of her thigh and returning to the apex of her legs, all the while bestowing his scrumptious kisses. With each stroke, his fingers inched ever closer to where she wanted them so desperately to go.

With the instinct of a seasoned lover, intuitively sensing every craving, he pressed his open palm firmly against her willing core. She rewarded him with a groan of approval, grasping wildly at his hair. He gripped her hand, grounding her as he continued his exploration. He was making love to her entire body, something she'd never experience before. Just when she though she couldn't take any more, he enlightened her to the limits of her endurance, educating her with his wonderfully dexterous tongue plunging within her tight depths. She cried out as he made her utterly aware of just how talented he was.

"Oh... oh God, Giles...!"

He worked his sensual magic, his seductive tongue sending rippling waves of pleasure through her with every sumptuous lap. She released his hand. Ensnared within the throes of passion, she slammed her fist to the cement, fracturing it beneath her. An immersive lick, a delving finger, and a gentle suckle to her rosy flesh and she panted his name in praise.

Buffy was mesmeric, her passionate cries fuelled Giles' longing to pleasure her. She was divinity personified and for a fleeting speck in time, her grace was his. She groaned as he let his thick fingers joined the thrill of bringing her to the brink.

Deeper and deeper, reaching into her with his swollen tongue, moving her flesh as no other man could.

His free hand roamed, searching blindly for hers. She caught it and squeezed it tight as his probing fingers found her awaiting trigger. She let out a muffled grunt, almost crushing his hand in her frenzied state. He didn't care. She was his world. Her breaths grew ragged and her body stiffened as her orgasm overwhelmed her. She arched her back as a rush of delight engulfed her. Giles feasted on the flavor of her arousal, dipping in as deep within her as he could to savor the sweetness of her release.

It took a few moments of labored breaths for her body to relax from its rigid tension. All the while, Giles remained poised at the delicate softness between her thighs, placing gentle kisses along her feverish skin as she came down from her high.

"I've never witnessed such passionate beauty..." Giles panted, painfully aware of his own aching arousal. God, how she could stir him.

She drew his attentions toward her face with a playful caress of his sweat-glistening curls.

"Come here..." she breathed.

He followed her order, crawling up her body until her glowing face came into view. Though he knew she could easily manage the weight of him, Giles was careful to hold himself up. She smiled up at his shimmering face and kissed him, slow and sweet, enjoying the salty tang of his sweat mixed with her essence.

"I love you, Giles." His face grew somber with her admission and his eyes set to the cracked cement below them. She felt a tinge of sorrow for the stubborn doubt in his expression. She cupped his chin and directed his gaze back to her.

"Let me love you."

With that, she guided him with a gentle hand, to lie beside her. He did, grateful to allow his arms the rest. He admired the view of her gleaming body and immediately felt his jeans grow insufferably tight in response. She must have sensed his discomfort because she began to unbutton them.

"Buffy... there's no need to..."

"I want this..." She shushed him with a finger to his lips."I need this, Giles. I need you... all of you." She continued to unfasten his jeans and when done, she worked to slip the clothes down his legs. She let out a self-conscious little snicker as she had to stop to remove his shoes. He couldn't help but smile at her efforts. Once she had him stripped bare, she paused to take in the vision of his fully nude body displayed before her.

Buffy's lips parted as she sounded a soft gasp. His generous manhood was captivating. Stone hard, defying gravity with his robust desire and yet so delicate she could sense his every apprehension. It was enticing, with defining lines of depth and character that made her want to feel him, discover every nerve, charm every cell, to taste every drop. "Giles... you... you're amazing."

Before he could argue the point, she encased his firm flesh within her warm hand and he was struck speechless from her intimate touch. His eyes closed as she stroked the length of him, sending all the blood rushing to the focus of her attentions. She traced the dewing tip with a finger to catch the drop she'd caused. He wanted to see her, to watch her as he'd sworn to do so long ago, so he forced his eyes open. She licked her finger clean with a satisfied smile. A soft moan escaped his lips and she leaned her face closer, settling just a few inches from his pulsating shaft. She released him and drew a finger along the satin skin of his erection, prompting his member to dance even more alive to her coaxing. She encircled him again with a couple fingers as she shifted closer still. He froze, waiting with bated breath as she slinked her glistening body over him and positioned herself between his legs.

"I used to imagine what you were like..." she placed a tender kiss to the base of his shaft. He let out the ragged breath. "If you were thick..." Another kiss, gliding slightly toward the tip. "If you were big...." Another still, and with just a hint of her moist, compelling tongue. "If you could be... if you would ever be mine..." She took him into her mouth, shallowly suckling his overly sensitive flesh with her sultry embrace. His body seized up from her undeniable influence. It was too good to be true. But she wouldn't allow him any doubt of her intensions as she took him in again and again, each time sucking and claiming even more of him. He unconsciously bucked to deepen the contact and she accepted it as a challenge, taking everything he could give. Her mouth possessed him, her tongue twisting and curling as her lips enveloped his engorged flesh. Soon, the low, familiar, carnal rumble grew from just beyond her reach and he knew his time was short but he couldn't voice it.

Buffy sensed his urgency and pulled back, letting him escape her potent hold.

"I never imagined it could be like this..." Buffy wrapped her small hand around the base of him and nuzzled to the reactive flesh. "But you're beyond imagining, Giles." She let out a contented sigh. "Show me."

He looked down at her with a glossy gaze, desire overwhelming his mind.

"Take me..." She purred.

And he did. His hands gripped her arms and pulled her body over his until their faces met. He kissed her, firm and demanding as his hands continued to direct her body. She knew what he wanted, what she needed, and worked with him. She lowered herself, blanketing him with her most tender flesh and they both moaned their liking.

Giles fingers curled around her silky hips and he began to drive her forward and back, gliding flesh over flesh in a subtle dance. Buffy followed his guidance, feeling herself grow slick with only a few motions.

She felt bad for watching him. It was as if she were intruding on something so private, forbidden. But she wanted to see his pleasure, needed to see his happiness. His features were hardened with concentration as he continued to direct her motions. His eyes were strained closed, working to bring her even more delight and she wanted him to let go. With a deliberate shift forward, she re-angled herself and thrust downward, sheathing him with one, swift drive.

"My God...!" An uncontainable groan escaped his trembling lips and his eyes shot open.

Buffy paused to savor the union. It was miraculous, how they fit together. He filled her to perfection. She could feel every inch of him within her, flesh throbbing, nerves tingling, as if they were feeding each other every sensation, sharing every experience. But what was most amazing, was she could feel his heartbeat and its beat matched her own.

They stared breathlessly at each other; their faces alight with a sudden awakening. It was as if the instant of their union set their lives anew and they lived only for each other.

Following the mutual tempo of their hearts, Buffy began to move. Rocking slow and steady, her inner flesh felt every caress of his smoldering rigidity. Her fingers tickled along the stiffening muscles of his stomach as he moved with her, working to touch her more deeply with every push. She closed her eyes, savoring the sensation of him within her. He buried his flesh deeper and deeper as the pace quickening.

When she opened her eyes, she found him watching her, his penetratingly green eyes fixed on her straining features as she rode him. He took in a shallow breath as sweat dripped from his creased forehead. He slipped his fingers between hers and held her, supported her as she moved to sink his hardness farther in her pulsating heat.

Buffy's grip strengthened and Giles could feel his body on the verge of release. He sucked in a sharp breath and thrust upward to meet her strokes; plunging with such force he lifted them both from the floor with every drive.

"Faster..." he growled, piercing her again and again. "Christ... so good..."

"So good..." She could feel him writhing inside her and it was glorious.

His breathing grew choppy and shallow. "Buffy... I'm... I...."

Buffy watched as he stiffened under her, his body taken whole by his climax and it made her heart soar to witness it. For a moment, his handsome face tensed and he held his breath, then, with an inhibited cry, his body shuddered and he finally let himself go. The warm sensation of him spilling into her and sight of his bliss sent her over the edge.

The only thing more heavenly than the feeling of being inside her was seeing her take a final determined thrust and losing herself to him. She cried out for him, rapt within in a wild eruption of pleasure that only he could bring to her.

And then there was peace.

Buffy fell forward, resting her sweat-glistening form over him and he wrapped his arms around her, holding her. After a short time, their breaths steadied and she pulled back to give him a gentle kiss on the lips.

"I love you," he panted, curling a stray hair back behind her ear and cupping her cheek. "No matter what happens... never forget that I love you."

A sharp pain shot through Buffy, like a dagger to her heart. Though she wanted to hear him express those faithful words of love to her, the reminder of the coming day's events sent her crashing back to reality. She couldn't help the single tear that fell from her blinking eye and she gave a gentle nod, unable to speak as she struggled to simply breathe. With another tender kiss, she slowly shifted forward and separated herself from him, settling to the ground beside him.

Giles pulled her near, curving his thick arm around her and holding her as close as she would allow him. Exhausted, he drifted off to sleep.

Buffy wasn't sure what time it was. Time seemed too unreal a thing up until the moment she realized what gift had been given to her. And as she lay quietly beside Giles, time was all she could think about; how it was fading with every subtle breath he breathed. She guessed it had been three hours or more since he'd fallen asleep. She was amazed he'd managed it, she couldn't. Her mind wandered, dreaming of picket fences and walk-in closets, of strolls along the beach at sunset, of sparring in the park under a radiant sun; all moments they could never share. But she couldn't help but wonder, to dream.

His chest rose and fell, his lips parting as he released a gentle sigh. Buffy was contented to watch every little detail as if to burn it into her memory. She understood that Giles was her Watcher, a figure of respect, of integrity and code, forever duty bound to protect and service the Slayer. What she'd learned much too late was that he was also a man of blood that boiled so hot it scorched her flesh with every touch. When they kissed, she felt alive, free from the burden of her birthright. She wondered if he'd felt the same.

Giles looked so different while he slept. He was so delicate but not as a flower is delicate. His heart, his soul, was always treading a thin line between heaven and hell. Sadly, she could relate.

In a thoughtless moment, Buffy's eyes glanced upward toward the window above and she winced at the slowly increasing glow along the window frame.

"No... not yet… please…" she begged softly and shifted closer to Giles, laying her head gently, possessively to his chest, "…Don't go…"

Thump, thump…

His heartbeat steady and strong, the tempo of a song she'd never forget.

Thump, thump…

"I love you…" she whispered, lightly gliding a slender finger along his torso, curling her finger within the graying hair defining his muscles.

Thump, thump…

The first piercingly brilliant sun beam shone through the crack in the window above.



Deafening, unpitying silence.

She remained there, motionless, waiting for the beat to echo back but it never did. After a moment, she lifted her face away and examined his features. He was ashen, cool and dead. Just as Merrick had warned, Giles' life had ended once more with the return of the sun and she grieved again for its passing.

Buffy returned her face to his tepid flesh, offering a sorrowful kiss to his silenced heart. "Goodbye…" she whispered tenderly and rested against his rigid form, feeling some small part of herself die away with him.

"I'm sorry," his gentle voice hummed against her ear. She closed her eyes and felt a tear drizzle down her cheek as she swallowed down her sorrow.

"Don't be," she sighed. "I'll never forget it."

"Neither will I," he brushed his fingers through her hair, already regretting he'd allowed himself such a selfish night of joy. He watched silently as she collected her clothes and moved to the door. With a final glance back, she offered a ghost of a smile and disappeared into her chosen room. Giles' stare rose to the righteous statue above and he felt its pity and his shame. He looked away. "So sorry..."

Part 27...