Rating: FRM (light)
Timeline: S5, follow up to Useful. Part 3 of The Key Series.
Synopsis: Everything is starting to spiral out of control.
Author’s Note: As always, a very special thanks to A for looking over this for me.
Buffy walked into the Magic Box, tilting her head in concern at Giles. He was standing at the counter, eyes closed…hand rubbing at his temple.
“You okay?” She asked, walking over to him. “I didn’t think you had that much to drink last night…”
“So, it is a hangover!” Anya piped up brightly. “He kept saying it wasn’t…but…”
“Anya…” Giles mumbled, staring at her. “Can you please just…not?”
Buffy smiled softly, reaching over the counter to cover his hand with hers. “Are you okay?”
He turned his head to look at her and returned her smile. “I am. It’s just stress.”
She gently stroked the back of his hand with her fingers as she glanced around the shop. Her eyes narrowed when she saw Willow sitting off by herself.
“What’s going on?”
Giles followed her line of vision and sighed. “Lover’s quarrel. Seems to be a decent one.”
“Can you make some tea?” She asked, looking back at him. “Would you mind?”
“Of course not, love.” He gestured towards Willow with a tilt of his head. “Why don’t you go talk to her. If she’ll talk to anyone, it’s you.”
Buffy nodded slowly, watching Giles as he went into the back area.
“So, not a hangover then?” Anya asked, counting the money in the register.
“Stress? What’s to be stressed about? Business is great!” She held up a stack of bills and grinned.
Buffy stared at her incredulously. “Glory, the Key…”
“Oh, right.” She shrugged and slipped the money back into the register. “You guys will figure it out. You always do. And while you’re figuring it out, I’ll keep making money for Giles. So he can pay me.”
Buffy chuckled and turned to go over to Willow. She stopped quickly, startled to find Willow right behind her.
“Hey…” Willow said distractedly, leaning on the counter.
“Hey, I was just coming over to talk to you.” She looked at her closely. “You alright?”
Buffy arched an eyebrow. “Yeah, because your good mood is both obvious and contagious.”
Willow stared at Buffy, a small smile appearing on her face. “You sound like Giles.”
Buffy shrugged and leaned against the counter next to her. “He kinda rubs off on me, apparently.”
Anya snorted in amusement, rolling her eyes when both Buffy and Willow looked at her. “Seriously, you can’t say something like that and not expect me to find it funny. Because…it is. I’m sure he does rub off on you quite often.”
Giles picked that moment to walk back into the room. He stopped his movement and stared at the three of them, two mugs of tea in his hands.
“I, uh…do I want to know?” He asked, meeting Buffy’s eyes as he placed one of the mugs on the counter in front of her.
“No. You really don’t.” Buffy turned back to Willow. “What’s going on?”
“I had a fight with Tara. It was awful.”
Giles took a sip of his tea. “You two don’t quarrel much, do you?”
Willow shook her head. “Never. Until today.”
“Well, now it’s over.” He remarked softly, lowering his mug to the counter.
Buffy and Willow both stared at him. Willow shook her head furiously.
“Over? How can it be over? I just found her!”
“The quarrel is over.” Giles darted his eyes to Buffy before offering Willow a gentle smile. “You’ll feel better when you’ve made your apologies and you’ll know that you can fight without the world ending.”
“Speaking from experience?” Willow asked as Giles walked towards the back door.
Buffy chuckled softly. “Much experience.”
“I know it all seems bleak now. But, as they say…this too…” He opened the door, causing one of Glory’s minions to fall into the room. “…shall pass.”
“Wow…that was impressive.” Anya commented as they all walked towards him. “That’s one of those things that work for Glory.”
“Hm…how helpful.” Giles muttered, throwing the demon into a chair and staring at him. “Looks like we have a marvellous opportunity for you and me to talk.”
The minion shook his head quickly. “No, I will not betray Glorificus. I will never talk, no matter what heinous torture – ”
“Actually, you’re talking quite a lot – just not about the right things.” Giles took a step towards him, glaring into his eyes. “Anya, hand me the twine that’s on the counter. Let’s tie him up.”
Willow watched Anya run to the counter. Buffy watched as Giles removed his jacket and unbuttoned the top button of his shirt. Suddenly the minion was crying and professing to tell them anything they wanted to know.
Anya arched an eyebrow at Buffy. “What happened?”
Buffy shrugged as Giles answered. “He changed his mind.”
In a matter of moments, they had ascertained that Glory believed Tara to be the Key. Willow turned to run out of the shop.
Giles yelled after her. “Willow, wait! We’ll go with – ”
Willow shook her head, interrupting him. “No! You and Buffy go check Tara’s room. I’ll go to the fair.”
Giles sighed heavily as the door swung closed behind Willow.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Giles sat on his sofa, a mug of tea on the table next to him. There was a book in his lap, but he wasn’t focused on it. Not that it would tell him much anyway. He inhaled deeply as the front door opened.
Buffy smiled softly as she walked in and closed the door behind her. “You honing?”
“Something like that.” He replied, looking at her as she sat down next to him. “Are your mother and Dawn safe?”
“Yeah, they’re with Spike.” Buffy continued quickly as Giles rolled his eyes. “She won’t go looking for them there. She doesn’t even know where Spike lives – plus, she’s already tried to get info out of him and didn’t work.”
“Yes, noble vampire. Won’t rat out the woman he loves.” Giles muttered, diverting his gaze to the wall on the opposite side of the room.
“Hey! We talked about this.”
“Yes, we did. And yes, I understand.” He reached over and picked up his mug, glancing at her sideways before taking a sip. “Doesn’t mean I actually like it.”
She nodded in understanding and glanced at the book. “What are you reading?”
He sighed and tossed the book onto the coffee table. “A book that holds as many answers as any other book I’ve read these past few weeks.”
“We’re going to figure this out, Giles.”
Giles looked at her and gave her a brief nod. “How is Tara? Willow?”
“Tara is…incoherent, but strangely insightful – once you work through the wording that sounds a bit…crazy. Willow is in full-protection mode. She wanted to go after Glory, but I think I calmed her down.”
“Are you sure about that?” Giles questioned, raising an eyebrow at her. “Because I’m not sure that someone reasoning with me would keep me calm if something happened to you.”
“I didn’t say it was easy, Giles. I had to physically hold her down and Anya blocked her access to the Magic Box for the time being. But, she understands that there will be no one who can take care of Tara if something happens to her. And if she goes after Glory…something will happen to her.”
Giles nodded again, tilting his head slightly as he looked at her. “And you? Are you okay?”
Buffy paused and placed her hand on his thigh. “Is it bad that I just want to make love with you right now?”
“It’s been a fairly traumatic day for all of us. There’s nothing wrong with taking a bit of comfort.” He replied, lowering his eyes to her hand as she rubbed her fingers along the inner seam of his jeans. “If that’s what you want.”
“I think…need more than want.” She whispered. “You?”
He looked at her for a long moment and then wrapped his hand around the back of her neck, pulling her to him.
* * *
Giles sighed in contentment, his heart rate calming as Buffy traced indistinct shapes against his sweat-dampened chest. “Okay?”
She smiled, circling his nipple with her fingers. “I love when you’re reduced to asking questions with one word.”
He chuckled, allowing his hand to roam over her back soothingly. “And your sentences become longer.”
“I think we both needed that.”
“Mm.” He murmured in agreement, smiling as she lifted her head to look at him. “What is it?”
“I don’t know what I’d do if she came after you. Did to you what she did to Tara.”
Giles’ smile faded as he swallowed. “Nor I.”
“Do you think there’s a way to reverse it?” She asked, snuggling closer to him and resting her head on his shoulder.
He curled his arms around her, holding her tightly against him. “I don’t know, love. I’ll look into it…see if I can find something.”
Buffy pressed a soft kiss to his skin. Just as she was starting to say something, the phone rang…sounding impossibly loud in the loft. Startled, Buffy reached over Giles and grabbed it…hearing Willow’s panicked voice before she even lifted the receiver to her ear.
“She knows, Buffy! Glory…she came by…Tara mentioned the ‘green girl who arrived at dawn’. It didn’t take much to jump to the right conclusion.”
Buffy sat straight up in the bed, casting a worried look to Giles. He sat up next to her and ran his fingers through his hair.
“Buffy?” He asked, watching her eyes well with tears.
“Where is she now, Willow?”
“I don’t…I don’t know. I teleported Tara and I out the dorm. I’m so sorry, Buffy. She…she didn’t mean to…”
“I know.” She interrupted, panic showing in her eyes. “Okay, come over here…bring Xander and Anya. We’ll…we’ll figure something out…”
She handed the phone to Giles and then burst into tears. Giles blindly hung the phone up and pulled her into his arms.
* * *
Giles walked over to the bookshelf as Buffy continued to pace in the living room. Willow was in the guest room with Tara, trying to get her settled, as Xander and Anya sat on the sofa.
“There must be something in the Book of Tarnis that we’ve missed. Something that we can use against Glory.”
Buffy watched silently as Giles pulled the book from the shelf.
“Piano!” Anya exclaimed suddenly, causing everyone to stare at her.
“Because that’s what we used to kill that big demon that one time.” Xander replied before shaking his head. “No wait…that was a rocket launcher. An…what are you talking about?”
Anya looked incredibly excited, as though she had the most profound idea possible. “We could drop a piano on her. It always works for that creepy cartoon rabbit when he’s running from that nice man with the speech impediment.”
Giles rolled his eyes, opening the book in his hands. “Yes…or perhaps we could paint a convincing tunnel on the side of a mountain.”
Buffy had been quiet for a very long time. She sighed heavily and shook her head. “We can’t fight her.”
Giles narrowed his eyes as he looked at her. “Well not yet, no…but…”
“No, not ever.” Buffy said, crossing her arms over her chest. “She’s too strong, Giles. We’re not going to win this with stakes or spells or pulling out some uranium power core. She’s a god…and she’s coming for us.”
She looked into Giles’ eyes and bit her lip. “So, let’s just not be here when she starts knocking.”
“You mean…run away?” Anya asked, looking at Buffy in confusion.
“We can’t stay here. She’ll just kill us off one by one until there’s no one left standing between her and Dawn. We stay, we die. Show of hands for that option.”
Xander shook his head. “How are we going to get out of here? The Xandermobile won’t cut it…and there’s no way we’re all going to fit into Giles’ car. We probably shouldn’t split up…that’s just asking for trouble.”
“You guys just get packed…the essentials. And by ‘essentials’, I mean the best weapons we have access to.” She took a deep breath. “I’ll handle the rest – transport, Dawn…”
“What about Joyce?” Giles asked softly, knowing there was no way he’d be able to dissuade Buffy. “She can’t be there for this, Buffy. You know that…”
“Can you buy her a plane ticket? First plane out to Illinois. I’ll call Aunt Darlene and tell her she’s on the way.”
“Of course.” He stiffened slightly when Buffy leaned up and brushed her lips across his.
“Thank you.” She whispered before turning and walking to the door.
Giles said nothing, but watched her leave. And then he stared at the door for a few seconds after it closed.
* * *
They stood by the side of the road, bags at their feet – filled mainly with weapons and a few changes of clothes. Willow sat with Tara on the bench, smiling sadly as Tara babbled about clouds. Giles had been listening to Xander and Anya bicker back and forth…and he’d obviously had enough of it.
“Can you two please…just be quiet for two minutes? Everything will be alright, we just need to stay calm. As soon as Buffy arrives…” He paused as a Winnebago skidded to a stop directly in front of them. He took half a step back as the door swung open. “…we’ll feel oddly worse.”
They all piled in, stowing their bags as quickly as they could. Buffy sat at the table, maps spread out in front of her. Giles glanced at the driver’s seat and then stared at Buffy.
“What’s he doing here?”
Spike grinned. “Just out for a jaunt, mate. Thought I’d swing by and say – ”
“Out.” Giles interrupted firmly.
Buffy sighed as she looked up at Giles. “He’s here because we need him.”
“The hell we do!” Giles protested, staring at her.
“If Glory finds us, he’s the only one besides me that has any chance of protecting Dawn.”
“Buffy…” Xander interjected.
Buffy stood up and darted her glare between Xander and Giles. “Look, this isn’t a discussion! He stays, get over it.”
She stormed into the bedroom at the back, leaving Dawn sitting at the table by herself. Giles sighed heavily and glanced at Spike, who was still grinning at him.
“One misstep and I’ll fucking dust you.” He growled in frustration before following Buffy into the back room.
Xander smirked, his eyes following Giles. Then his eyes softened and he sat down next to Dawn. “How are you doing?”
Dawn shrugged. “We dropped Mom off at the airport. I kinda wish I could’ve gone with her.”
“No way Buffy would’ve let you out of her sight for that long.” He replied, sliding his arm around her and pulling her into a hug.
* * *
Buffy didn’t even look up as the door opened. “I’m not arguing with you about this, Giles. Not this or anything else. You know as well as I do…if I go down, Spike – ”
Giles sat down on the bed and pushed the map out of her hand. “I didn’t come to argue, Buffy. Do I like it? I really fucking don’t. Do I agree?” He sighed heavily and ran his hand through his hair. “I do. I’d like to say I don’t, but…you’re right.”
“Thank you.” She leaned against him, closing her eyes as he curled his arm around her.
“Some warning would’ve been appreciated though.” He added, smiling as she looked up at him. “You know…with all of the spare time you had.”
Buffy chuckled softly. “Point taken. I’m sorry.”
“So, what’s your plan?” He asked, changing the subject as he glanced at the map.
“Getting as far away from Sunnydale as quickly as we can.” She pulled the map back towards them. “Great plan, huh?”
“I’ve heard worse.” He murmured, placing a kiss on her temple.
“I just…Giles, I need you to not kill Spike, okay?”
“I’ll do my best.” He replied, turning the map slightly and furrowing his brow.
“I’m not joking…”
He raised his head slowly, looking directly into her eyes. “Nor am I.”
“Giles…” She started, an unspoken warning heard in her tone.
“You need to catch your breath, love…regroup. You’ve been through more than your fair share of late. And, yes…you have a point. In a confrontation, Spike may prove to be useful.” He paused for a moment and then continued. “However, I will choose to stake him if it’s between him and you or Dawn. Or between him and any of us. If he becomes a liability in any sense of the word…”
“Yeah, I get it, Giles.” She reached over and placed her hand on his thigh. “I agree to those terms, okay?”
He gave her a nod and then turned his eyes back to the map. “Pick a location.”
She pointed at a spot, her eyes still trained on Giles. He furrowed his brow and then looked at her, smiling softly.
“You aren’t even looking.”
“Doesn’t matter.” She leaned against his shoulder. “As long as it’s out of Sunnydale and you’re with me.”
“I’m going nowhere, darling.”
Just as he lowered his mouth to hers, an arrow broke through the window and embedded into the wall near her head. They both pulled back and stared at the arrow in horror.
“What the fuck?!” Giles exclaimed, pushing from the bed and rushing out of the bedroom.
He looked out the window and gestured for the others to get to the floor. He hurried towards Spike, cursing the entire way.
“Yeah, I see ‘em. How do you want to deal with this?”
He looked towards the back and put his hand on the wheel. “Go protect them…help them. I’ll do what I can up here.”
Spike looked up at him, confusion etched on his face. “You sure about that?”
“Keep them alive, Spike.” He grabbed Spike’s jacket, pulling him out of the seat and quickly sliding behind the wheel. “Go!”
Giles glanced at the sideview mirror, swerving towards a knight on a horse coming up alongside the van. Willow snuck a quick look out the window as Buffy rushed towards Giles.
“Don’t hit the horsies!”
“We won’t!” Buffy called over her shoulder, before moving up next to Giles. “Giles…aim for the horsies.”
Giles swerved again and then looked up towards the roof when he heard a thump. “I think we have company.”
“I’ll go take care of it, just keep driving.”
He nodded, glancing at the mirror again. “Be careful.”
She ran her hand over his shoulder and then left. The last thing he heard from Buffy was yelling at Xander to open the hatch. Knowing she had climbed onto the roof, he did his best to keep the van steady. Of course, this also meant that it was easier for the knights to break through the windows.
The attack seemed to go on for ages, though knights were being thrown from the roof one after another. He knew that Buffy was holding her own up there. Oddly, Anya had become the champion inside the van…by using a frying pan. While Spike would be useful at night, it became very obvious very quickly that he wouldn’t be able to do much during the day.
Giles checked the mirror again, relieved to see the knights were retreating. He glanced towards the back, hoping to see Buffy climb back inside.
“Everyone alright?” He asked, smiling lightly when everyone checked in. Except for Buffy, she was still on the roof, he could tell by the sound of her boots against the sheet metal.
He looked back towards the road, eyes widening as a lone knight was coming straight towards him…with a lance raised. Giles jerked the wheel just as the knight threw the lance. The knight’s aim was remarkable…and the lance flew straight through the window, impaling Giles in the side. He groaned and fell forward onto the wheel, sending the van out of control.
Realising that there was a major issue, Buffy jumped from the roof…rolling as she landed. She looked up just in time so see the Winnebago careen off the road and roll onto it’s side.
“Shit!” She screamed and got up, running towards the cloud of dust surrounding the wreck.
* * *
Giles groaned as he was being lifted and placed onto a hard surface. He wasn’t sure where he was, how he got there, or what the hell was going on. What he did know was that there was a blinding pain in his abdomen and he felt hot, like his entire body was on fire. He had a vague sensation of someone lifting his head and sliding something under it.
He tried to focus on the voices around him. Anything to keep himself conscious…because if he were very honest, all he wanted to do was to go to sleep.
He heard Buffy ask Dawn if she was okay. Dawn said something about Spike being hurt. Giles would have rolled his eyes if he wasn’t in so much pain. He wanted to smile when he heard Buffy’s annoyed tone say that he’d heal.
And then things were quiet for a while. Or he had passed out, he wasn’t sure which. He heard Buffy ask Willow how he was doing. He could taste blood…and wondered if he was actually going to survive. He fought to stay awake, but it was obvious he was fighting a losing battle.
* * *
He opened his eyes, even the dim light seeming bright. He was surprised…and very grateful…to find Buffy standing next to him, holding his hand tightly within hers.
“Hey…” He croaked, grimacing at the dryness of his throat.
“I’m sorry.” Buffy whispered, her eyes glistening.
Giles forced his eyes open, ignoring the pain as much as he could. “For what?”
“We should have stayed. If we had, none of this would have happened.” She glanced down at his abdomen.
“Don’t, love. What you did…it was necessary…what I’ve always admired.”
She swallowed, forcing a small smile on her face. “Running away?”
He started to shake his head, then thought better of it. “Being able to place…your heart…above all else.”
“I’m so proud of you. You’ve come so far.” His hand tightened around hers. “You’re everything a Watcher…everything I could have hoped for. I love you so.”
Buffy sniffled and leaned down, pressing her lips to his forehead. “I love you too.”
Giles’ eyes closed, but his hold on her hand was still firm. His breathing was shallow…but, he was breathing. Buffy watched him closely, knowing that he had slipped back into unconsciousness when his grip loosened.
Buffy took a deep breath and let go of his hand. Turning around, she stared at the front door.
“Willow? Open a door in the barrier.”
“Um…what?” Willow shook her head quickly. “I…don’t think that’s the greatest idea you’ve ever had.”
Buffy turned to meet her eyes. “Giles needs a doctor. We don’t get one here soon…we’re going to lose him. I’m not letting that happen. Open a door.”
Buffy stormed outside, followed by Xander. Against her better judgement, Willow sighed heavily and uttered a few words…causing a hole to open in the barrier. She stood at the window, watching…not straying too far from Giles or Tara.
Hearing a soft groan, she turned back to find Giles’ eyes fluttering open. Unbelievably, he was trying to sit up.
“Shit! Giles, no…no, you have to stay there for now, okay?” Willow rushed over to him, gently pushing him back down with a hand on his shoulder.
Giles stared up at her. “How…how bad is it, Willow? Really?”
“You were impaled, Giles. That’s never a good thing.” Willow offered him a gentle smile. “I’m actually surprised that you’re even awake right now.”
“I have…much to live for.” He whispered, clenching his jaw in pain. “But, fuck, this hurts.”
“Buffy’s trying to get a doctor for you.”
Giles’ eyes widened. “She’s out there…talking to them?”
“She’s Buffy, Giles.” Willow wiped some dirt from his forehead.
“Where is Tara? Dawn? Is everyone okay?”
“Tara is sitting across the room with Dawn. We’re all okay. A few bumps and bruises, nothing major.”
“Except for my hands.” Spike interjected. “Can’t even light a bloody fag.”
Giles closed his eyes in annoyance. “So…sorry…to hear.”
“Cut ‘em up saving your girl, you know. If I hadn’t been standing there, she would’ve been stabbed in the head.”
Giles opened his eyes and looked at Willow for confirmation. Willow gave him a gentle nod.
“In that case…thank you.” He muttered. “But, just…keep that in mind.”
“What’s that?” Spike asked, looking up from the lighter in his hands.
“She’s my girl.”
Spike rolled his eyes. “As if either one of you would let me forget that.”
Willow grinned and gestured towards the lighter. “Hand me that, Spike.”
Spike dropped the lighter into Willow’s hand, arching an eyebrow when she flicked the wheel effortlessly for him. He lit his cigarette and gave her a nod of appreciation.
She handed the lighter back to him and pointed towards the back room. “Don’t smoke out here, okay? Go in the back.”
“With the general knight guy?” Spike’s eyes widened slightly.
Willow rolled hers. “He’s tied up…and someone needs to keep an eye on him.”
“Bloody hell.” Spike muttered, taking a drag form his cigarette as he turned and walked towards the back.
Giles allowed his eyes to drift towards the ceiling. “Interesting pattern…”
Willow narrowed her eyes in confusion. “Huh?”
“The pattern that…is no actual pattern.” He replied, his brow furrowing.
“Um…are you okay?” Willow asked in obvious concern. “Because you’re not making much sense right now…”
Giles smiled, but stopped himself from chuckling. “Just trying to stay awake. Focus…focusing on insignificant…” He lifted his hand and weekly pointed towards the ceiling. “See? The tiles…have no pattern. It’s not aesthetically pleasing.”
Just at that moment, Buffy and Xander rushed back in. Buffy ran over to the payphone, grumbling when she realised it wasn’t working.
“Will? What do you know about disconnected payphones?”
Willow grinned at her. “I know that I can probably reconnect it…for you to make a call. We’re getting a doctor?”
Buffy nodded, looking at Giles. “Yeah…”
Giles offered her a weak smile. “That’s my girl…”
Buffy furrowed her brow, speaking to Willow but not taking her eyes off of Giles. “Is he okay?”
“Yeah. He’s just…trying to keep himself awake.”
“Okay, let’s get the phone working…”
* * *
Ben stood next to Giles, gently cleaning the wound. He gave Buffy a sideways glance.
“You…forgot to mention the costume party outside. I would’ve come dressed differently…”
“Sorry, I didn’t know who else to call.” She glanced over at Willow and Tara, a soft smile on her lips as she watched Willow gently stroke a sleeping Tara’s hair.
“No, it’s okay. I mean, yeah…not how I pictured seeing you again.” He furrowed his brow as he pulled a sliver of wood out of Giles’ wound. “But, I’ll take what I can get.”
Spike stood off to the side, rolling his eyes. Giles opened his and stared up at the young doctor.
“Back off.” He grumbled softly.
Ben met Giles’ eyes. “I’m sorry?”
“You’ll take nothing…because you get nothing. Not when it…pertains to her.”
Ben chuckled softly and glanced back at Buffy. “Wow, he’s…protective.”
“He’s…my love.” Buffy replied, slipping her hand into Giles’.
“Oh…sorry, I didn’t…” He blushed lightly and then looked over at Dawn, sighing heavily. “I didn’t realise.”
Giles shifted his stare from Ben to Buffy, his eyes softening as he looked at her. “I’m not leaving without a fight, Buffy.”
Buffy’s eyes glistened as she nodded. “I know. I’m not letting you.”
Ben cleared his throat, pulling numerous bandages out of his bag. “There’s a lot of damage here. I mean, I think I have him stabilized, but…he needs a hospital. This environment isn’t sterile, in the least. I can pump him full of antibiotics to stave off any impending infection though. And I brought a huge supply of pain relief.”
“Thank you.” She whispered, still holding Giles’ gaze…and his hand…as Ben carefully administered an injection.
She watched panic flit in Giles’ eyes and she leaned forward quickly, kissing him softly. “It’s okay. It’s just some pain meds. You need to sleep, rest…and you need to be out of pain. Just calm down, okay? I’m here.”
He nodded slowly, sighing as the meds began to kick in quickly. “Love you…”
She smiled at his soft murmur and kissed him again. “I love you, too. Rest now.”
She stayed with him until she was sure that he was in no pain. And then she stormed off to have a discussion with the general who was still tied up in the back room.
* * *
Dawn pulled a high stool over next to the counter where Giles was resting. She sat there and watched him for a moment. Then she took a deep breath and touched his arm.
“So, I don’t know if you can hear me or not. Or even if you’ll remember this when you wake up…if you can hear me. But, I think I need…I just need to talk this out. No one’s a better listener than you…conscious or not.” She smiled briefly, the smile fading when he didn’t respond at all.
“Turns out I’m old. Like…heaps old. Almost as old as Glory. No one knows where I came from or how I was created…but they seem to agree that my power is absolute. Whatever that means.” She sighed heavily and continued. “People have been trying to destroy me for…eons. How long is an eon?”
“Anyway, the monks found me…the energy me. And instead of destroying it, they made it into…human me. Or humanish me. Am I human? I feel human…but, what does a non-human feel like?”
Dawn paused and looked around. After ensuring that no one was around or listening, she lowered her voice to a whisper. “Turns out, I actually am a key. I open the gates that separate dimensions. Glory wants to use me to go home and take control of her hell. Sounds not too bad, right? Glory just wants to go home. But, it is, Giles. It is bad…like world-destroying bad.”
Tears filled her eyes, but she was determined not to let them fall. “I don’t just open her gate…I open ALL the gates. Dimensions will bleed into each other, order will be overthrown…and the entire universe will fall into chaos – forever. My purpose is to bring about the end of the world. And I thought I was here just to make Buffy’s life hell, like a kid sister is supposed to.”
“Instead…if Glory finds me and uses me…everything ends. And…what the hell am I supposed to do with that information?” She tried to hide the panic in her voice, but failed miserably. “I’m so scared, Giles. And Buffy…how is she supposed to protect the world against something like me? I don’t want destroy anything, much less the world. I may be a brat, but I like the world. I like being Buffy’s sister, Mom’s daughter, your…” She furrowed her brow. “What am I to you? I mean…it’s a little weird. Technically, I guess you’d be like my brother-in-law? But, you’ve always treated me more as a daughter-type than a sister-type…which…kinda messes with my mind a little. Because, if you think of me as a daughter-type, then…you and Buffy…well…”
She chuckled to herself and leaned back from him slightly. “I’m overthinking this way too much.”
Her chuckle died down and she took a shaky breath. “I don’t think she can protect me, Giles. So, when the time comes…I need you to help her make the hard decisions. Because she’s not going to be able to. She knows I’m not really her sister, but she loves me just as much as she would if I was her sister. You know? I think Glory is going to find me…and I think she’s going to use me. And that scares the hell out of me, because…how does she use me? Do I have to die to be used? Or do I turn evil? Or…”
She swallowed and finally allowed her tears to fall.
“I really wish you were awake, Giles.”
“He’s going to be okay, Dawn.” Buffy said softly, placing her hand on her shoulder.
Dawn jumped, clearly startled. She instantly wondered how much Buffy had heard. “Um, how much did you hear?”
“Just you wishing he was awake. Were you talking to him?”
“Yeah, but…it was kinda private. You know…about what that general guy said?”
Buffy nodded in understanding. “I get it. If you want to talk to me about it too, you can. I won’t push you, but…I love you and I will protect you.”
“I know.” Dawn smiled and leaned into Buffy’s hug.
* * *
Dawn sighed as she watched Ben fill a syringe. “What’s that?”
“Just a painkiller, Dawn.” He replied, giving her a soft smile.
“No, I mean…what is it? Because there are some he doesn’t like taking…he doesn’t like the way they make him feel.”
Ben tilted his head slightly. “You know what painkillers he doesn’t like?”
“He gets hurt a lot. Well, not as much as he used to…but, enough that he’s had just about every painkiller known to man.” She glanced at the syringe again. “So, what is it?”
“Demerol. Is he okay with that?”
“It gives him a headache.” She replied quietly. “But, he’ll take that over…I can’t remember the name of it, but it starts with a ‘t’.”
Ben thought for a moment and then shook his head. “Pill or injectable?”
“Pills. He has a bottle in his medicine cabinet.” She shrugged and crossed her arms over her chest. She looked up as Ben turned away from her. “Ben?”
Ben lifted his hand to his forehead and closed his eyes tightly as he inhaled shakily. “Damn it, not now!”
“What’s going on?” Dawn asked, lowering her arms and staring at him in concern.
He didn’t reply. Instead he ran as fast as he could towards the door.
“You have to let me out!”
Buffy narrowed her eyes, glancing at Giles and then Dawn. “What happened?”
Dawn shook her head. “I…don’t know. He just freaked out. We were talking and then he – ”
Ben hit the door with his hand, panic showing clearly in his eyes. “Let me out!”
Buffy glanced at Willow. “Open a door, okay?”
Willow started to question her, stopping when Ben screamed in pain and frustration. Buffy took a step back as he transformed into Glory. As Glory looked around the room, Buffy grabbed Dawn and pushed her behind her. Willow moved to Tara, blocking her from Glory’s view. Xander, Anya, and Spike moved to stand in front of a still unconscious Giles.
Glory grinned and brushed the hair back from her face. “Well, what do you know…little Ben finally did something right.”
Spike and Xander ran towards Glory, trying to catch her off-guard. Glory hit Spike, knocking him into Xander. She laughed as they both fell against the wall. Buffy took off towards Glory, nearly reaching her before Glory turned and hit her into Willow.
Glory turned her maniacal eyes towards Dawn and laughed. “The green girl who came at dawn…”
Dawn tried to run, but Glory was quicker – grabbing her arm and pulling her towards the front door.
Dawn screamed for Buffy. Buffy struggled to get up, screaming for Dawn as Glory crashed through the door…pulling Dawn out with her.
“Willow!” Buffy yelled. “Get it down! NOW!”
Willow started chanting, her eyes blackening. Buffy ran outside as the barrier fell. She stopped suddenly, looking around in horror.
Everyone was dead.
And Dawn was gone.
She slumped to the ground silently, tears running down her face.
Anya had been standing in the doorway, not wanting to leave Giles on his own. Hearing his soft groan, she turned back towards him.
“My head hurts.” He muttered, moving his hand to his side. “Holy shit, that hurts too.”
Anya ran over to him. “Giles…Glory took Dawn.”
Giles’ eyes widened. “What? Glory was here? How did she find us? Where’s Buffy? Is she…”
Anya put her hand on Giles’ shoulder as he tried to sit up. “Buffy’s not hurt badly. She’s…”
“Giles?” Buffy’s trembling voice came from the doorway.
Giles looked past Anya, his heart aching at the pain in Buffy’s voice. “Anya, please…help me.”
Anya hesitated just for a moment before biting her lip and slipping her arm underneath him. She slowly lifted him, pausing when he hissed in discomfort.
“Buffy, love…come here.” He said quietly, bracing himself up with his hand on the counter he was now sitting on.
“She’s gone…what do I do now?” She asked, wiping at her tears as she quickly made her way to him. “This was all a mistake. I’ve lost her…and now Glory is going to…to…”
Giles reached out and grabbed her jacket with a trembling hand. He tugged her towards him, carefully holding her against his chest.
He didn’t have the words to calm her…he was quite sure those words didn’t even exist. So he remained quiet…and simply held her as she sobbed.
They’d take a few minutes…
And then they’d stand up and get to work.
Like they always had in the past.
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