Timing Series: part 6

Giles withdrew his fangs, releasing the vicious hold on Buffy’s neck. ‘God what have I done?’ He pulled back and looked at her motionless form.

"B-Buffy?" His voice faltered and he shifted her so she was cradled in his arms. He glided a timid finger along her cheek. Her face was deathly pale and her skin was cool to the touch. "Buffy…s-speak to me, p-please." He could hear her faint heartbeat and shallow breathing. "Wake up, Buffy. You must…wake up," his voice cracked, struggling through the lump in his throat. ‘Get her to a hospital.’

Buffy’s body seemed to wilt in his arms and she let go a labored sigh, her heart was silenced.

Giles eyes intensify, wide with shock, darting back and forth from her face to her chest, "Buffy?" No response, no breath, no heartbeat, no life.

"No, Buffy…p-please!" He pleaded with her arrested body, shaking it, trying to wrestle it awake.
"Lord n-no!" He lowered her to the sheets and started pumping her chest with his palms, her body springing back up from the mattress. ‘Floor…get her to the floor.’ Giles hurriedly lowered her to the floor and continued the chest compressions. He listened, nothing. Pumping again, he closed her nose and lowered his lips to hers and then realized, ‘No breath…my god.’ He continued to compress her chest, listening for any sound of life.

For ten unbearable minutes, he worked to revive her, only stopping when some voice in his mind told him to, ‘Let her be.’ He stared sorrowfully at the young woman he’d fallen in love with. Cursing the precious gift he’d been given, to protect and serve such a hero, dead by his own hands.

His fingers clutched at the floor and he felt the wood splinter under his nails. A burning fury rose in him and he knew the demon was taking control. With a roar of anguish, he exploded into violence destroying everything within reach. Tearing books in two, shattering the mirror, throwing drawers down to the living room. He halted his attack only when a feeling of pure dread overcame him. He felt his features stretched and distorted, realizing the terror Buffy must have experienced in her final moments. He collapsed to his knees alongside her.

"I-I can’t…I’m s-so sorry. I f-failed you, again." He lowered his forehead to rest on hers, ashamed. Thoughts of her flooded his mind; memories of her training in the library to her dreadful music, snacking on pizza at an all night research party, dancing at the prom with that damned unworthy creature. ‘I am a damned unworthy creature…’ he realized.

"Forgive me, love." He hunched at her side, sobbing into his bloody hands, begging forgiveness from his deceased Slayer, friend, and unrequited love.

Out of the quiet a beat sounded, barely audible except for his acute vampire hearing. Another beat followed, and another and Giles peeked through his fingers to see Buffy’s chest rise and fall.

"Buffy?" He leaned closer to her. She began to breath normal, strong, her Slayer strength battling to bring her back from death. "Thank heavens!" Giles pulled her into his arms.

Her assault was extraordinarily quick; he never sensed it coming. Loosing his balance, he fell back against a dresser, his nose bleeding down his torn shirt.

"Stay back you bastard!" Buffy stood unsteadily in a defensive stance, prepared to strike.

"Buffy…my g-god I thought I’d l-lost you." Giles struggled to his feet and stepped forward with his arms spread wide, prepared for an embrace.

"Not buying it! Time to die!" She jumped forward, landing a kick to his head and went for the stake on the dresser. Giles stumbled over to the bed and turned around in time to dodge the stake coming at him. He tumbled over to the other side of the bed and stood up, putting out his hands defensively.

"Buffy…are you alright? You shouldn’t be moving around yet. You’ve lost a lot of blood." He side stepped to avoid the nightstand and stepped back, keeping a safe distance between him and his frantic Slayer.

"Thanks to you…" she leapt toward him again, planting an elbow to his cheek as she came down, followed by a sweeping kick that leveled him to the floor. She straddled over him with the stake and looked harshly into his eyes. ‘I hate you,’ she thought, trying to make herself believe it.


She hesitated, recognizing something familiar in his eyes, something gentle. ‘Not again!’ She plunged the stake down, piercing it through Giles hand that intruded into the path at the last moment.

"Ahh…bloody hell!" he screamed, grasping his wounded hand with the other.

"Giles?" Buffy whispered, her eyes widening with alarm.

"Yes, it’s…it’s m-me." He winced at the pain.

"Giles…no," she choked. "NO! It’s another trick!"

"Buffy, It’s me." He implored her, patting his chest as if to solidify his case.

"Really?" Buffy couldn’t move, her stare penetrating his. She carefully scrutinized his every word and movement. "How?" she whispered.

‘Good question,’ he thought and noticed the crystal dangling from Buffy’s neck. The once glowing crystal now seemed clouded with back smoke, swirling in a small storm within the stone. ‘Jenny’s stone…’ he thought, ‘…it must have done something…a demonic transference. Buffy must have triggered it…her declaration of love.’

"Jenny’s p-protection crystal." Giles smiled and raised his impaled hand to Buffy’s face to comfort her then realized the gruesome blunder and pulled it back.

"Jeez…let me help you," she unceremoniously tore the stake from his hand and Giles cried out, his face distorting to the beast briefly. Buffy scrambled away from him and back into a small space between a chair and dresser, trying uselessly to hide, clutching the stake. "I think I’ll hold on to this for now." She tilted her head, examining him cautiously.

"You could have warned me." Giles growled. He got to his feet and sat down on edge of the bed, looking empathetically at Buffy. ‘How can I reassure her that I won’t harm her? How do I know I won’t?’

"I don’t expect you to trust me, I’d rather you not."

Buffy looked at the darkened crystal around her neck, "Looks like a burnt out bulb."

"That’s what caused my return, Buffy. The crystal absorbed the essence of evil, menace when you…" he glanced at her and quickly looked away, "…when you said you loved me." He lowered his face into his hands.

Buffy looked closer at the stone. She noticed the miniature hurricane that stirred within it.

"I understand you are hesitant to believe me. I don’t even trust myself."

"Giles, you could have killed me or turned me. I believe you. I just don’t feel…safe."

He glanced up with hurt filled eyes. "I know...I-I can s-smell you’re fear." He whispered, averting her stare with his eyes to the floor.

Buffy felt a chill rush through her. "I’m sorry I let this happen to you."

Giles head jolted up sharply and concern wrinkled across his forehead.
"No Buffy! Never think that. This is not your fault. Don’t blame yourself…please!" his eyes begged her.

"If I had just come earlier that night. If I hadn’t…Giles, I’m so sorry." She began to cry.

Giles wanted to hold her, comfort her, feel her alive and well in his embrace.
He held out his hands, hoping she would come to him. She stepped forward and stopped a few feet from him, considering the stake she still held in her hand. With a sympathetic smile, he stood up, moving deliberately slow so Buffy could clearly see every motion. Buffy watched suspiciously as he closed his eyes and held his arms straight out to his sides, as if crucifying himself.

"I love you." He said it with unconditional sincerity.

Buffy’s apprehension dissolved with his words. She didn’t care if this was another deception; she had to touch him, had to take the chance. She yearned to hold him. With a deep breath, she closed the gap between them.

"Giles…I love you." She wrapped her arms around him and nuzzled her face into his chest.

"Thank you, Buffy." Giles stood perfectly still with his eyes shut, not wanting to move and scare her. He basked in the feeling of her embrace, not wanting it to stop. His face lowered to her head. He nestled his face to her hair, smelling her scent, experiencing every sensation of her he could steal without scaring her away. He opened his eyes to see her gazing up at him. His jaw clenched, neck muscles tensing under the strain of holding back his longing to kiss her.

Buffy released her hold on him and wiped the tears from her eyes. She ran her fingers down his arms and took his hands in hers. She leaned forward into him, softly urging him off balance until he sat down on the edge of the bed, his stare never leaving hers. She encircled his arms around her waist, locking his fingers together and she brought her arms up, wrapping hers around his neck.

Echoes of his heartbeat, ghosts of what used to be thundered in his chest and his deadened body stirred with false life for the first time since his cursed rebirth. He tilted his head back, beckoning her to kiss him.

Their lips connected for an instant, gently brushing against each other. Their noses snuggled as their mouths craved to share a taste.

Giles lightly licked his lips; gently gliding his velvety tongue across the length of Buffy’s parted his lips, inviting her sensual tongue to join his. She eagerly enveloped his mouth, her tongue dancing with his. He pulled her radiant body closer, lowering his face to kiss her warm neck and flushed chest.

His eyes fell on the crystal. It looked different, brighter. The dark storm within it was dissipating; the spell was fading. Giles realized the effect was temporary; he had precious little time. He buried his face to Buffy’s chest, allowing himself a fleeting moment of happiness.

She smiled and clutched the back of his head, urging him on. To her surprise, he gently separated himself from her embrace and stood up. He began to walk past her.

"Giles? What is it?"

"There’s something I have to do." He couldn’t look at her; it would make it harder.

"What? I can help…just tell me," she reached out letting her fingers brush against his as he past her.

He stopped to capture a glimpse of her melancholy eyes.

"Not this time love." He whispered and delicately kissed her pouting lips.

"Giles, you’re scaring me."

He walked to the nightstand and looked at his belongings collected on it.
His gaze fell to one of his journals, lying open on the small table. He read the passage:

    "Once again I am battling my feelings for my slayer. I must try to focus. To protect her from myself…"

His finger ran along the page, feeling every fiber of the paper, every indentation of the ink. He contemplated the meaning he’d intended with those words, and how they echoed truth in this instance. He removed his onyx ring and placed it on the journal page.

"Giles? What are you doing?" Buffy’s face crinkled with concern and confusion.

"It has been my greatest privilege to serve you." Giles turned around with his hands behind his back. "I love you, Buffy Summers." He smiled warmly. "Always have...remember that." He took a step forward, "Never doubt that."

She caught a glimpse of something moving behind him. He had something in his hands, behind his back. Giles smiled but with sadness in his eyes Buffy had never seen before. He brought his hands forward and Buffy could see the blinds cord being pulled in his hand, raising blinds, revealing the window. Sunlight burst into the room and he began to smolder.

Buffy suddenly realized what he had done, "Giles...NO! Please…" she took a step forward, reached out pleadingly to him as a flame flashed between them. Intense heat prevented her from touching him. "GILES!" she screamed.

A single tear trickled down his cheek and evaporated just before he burst into flame and ash, oblivion.

Buffy watched in disbelief as the ashes settled before her. Her legs gave out and she fell to her knees and stared out into the sunlit sky.

Finality. He was truly gone and not by her hand. Giles committed the act she couldn’t and protected her for the final time. Fulfilling his ultimate duty in his years of service to her, his final gift of love and compassion.