His Choice

Summary: Buffy and Willow discover the disk with the key to restoring Angel's soul. . .but Buffy has doubts. . .

Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters portrayed here, they remain the property of their respective owners/creators.

Rating: PG, for themes.

Time Frame: During "Becoming, Part I." (alternate time line).

Archiving: Be my guest, but e-mail me (eilandesq@aol.com) to let me know. . .I like to know where stuff I write ends up and I might want to see what else you've got.


HIS CHOICE


"Oh boy. . .oh boy. . .oh boy."

Willow sounded stunned, and Buffy knew exactly how she felt. Sitting there on the computer screen was the solution to the hell that all of them had been living through for the past four months. . .the secret to the restoration of Angel's soul. Miss Calendar had come through. . .only to be killed by Angelus before she could tell them what she had found out. Buffy felt the simultaneous impulses of joy and guilt stab through her like lightning, and though she was confused and frightened at what she was feeling, she knew at least what she had to tell Willow: "Will. . .let me tell Giles about this first. . .and don't tell the others yet: they can hear it from both of us later."

Willow looked at Buffy in concern, then nodded and left the room. Buffy buried her face in her hands for a long moment, then took the disk and headed for the library.

Xander and Cordelia were sitting at the main table studying for finals when Buffy walked in. Giles walked out of the book cage and smiled softly at the arrival of his Slayer. His expression turned somber as he saw the grim look on her face. He blinked and asked, "What's wrong, Buffy?"

Buffy acknowledged Giles' presence with a nod, then turned to Xander and Cordelia, quietly asking, "I know you guys are in major study mode. . .but could you give me a few minutes with Giles?"

They looked at her, puzzled, then Xander nodded and left, with Cordelia following him and grumbling about Buffy being overly melodramatic. The doors closed behind them, and Giles looked at Buffy with concern, asking again, "Buffy. . .what's wrong?"

Buffy blinked, and her eyes were moist as she handed the disk to Giles. She waited a second while he took hold of it and looked at the still unfamiliar object with bewilderment before explaining, "Giles. . .Willow and I were in the computer classroom, and we found this disk that Ms. Calendar had left. . .we ran it through the computer. Giles, she did it. . .she translated the curse her people used to give Angel his soul. . .it's all there."

Giles felt a wave of dizziness come over him, and he quietly sank into a nearby chair. Buffy sat next to him, her face clearly showing her understanding of what he was feeling. At length, he looked down at the yellow disk in his hand, then looked back at her and replied, "I see. . .all right, Buffy. . .what do you think we should do?"

Buffy looked at him with determination, and Giles tensed inwardly as she began to speak: "I've already decided, Giles. . .that's why I just handed the disk to you. . .I want you to decide what we do next: try to use the curse and get Angel back. . .or just destroy it and go on with me trying to kill Angelus. . .it's your call."

Giles blinked in astonishment, then looked at his Slayer, who looked miserable, but determined. He looked at her until she locked eyes with him, then asked, "Buffy. . .I appreciate your faith in me. . .but I know you have strong feelings on this matter. . .don't you at least want to have your say before I enter into a decision with irrevocable consequences whichever way I decide to act?"

Buffy buried her head in her hands again for a moment while Giles waited patiently in deep concern. She looked back up at him and replied, "That's just it, Giles. . .I don't know what to think any more. I blamed myself for driving Miss Calendar away from us and leaving her vulnerable to Angelus, and that was bad enough. . .but, now? I know that she was trying to fix everything. . .and she died trying to get it done. . .and I wasn't there to stop it. . .God, Giles. . .what have I done?"

Giles blinked, then reached across the table and squeezed Buffy's hand, replying, "Nothing more than I did, Buffy. . .she told me she was working on something important, but I didn't press her on it. If I had known, I could have at least encouraged her to work in a safer location. . .but she didn't tell us, and neither of us could have known." He blinked, and his own eyes were visibly moist as he continued, "Buffy. . .apparently it was her last wish that Angel have his soul restored. . .perhaps we should honor that."

Buffy nodded and replied, "I thought of that. . .but there's more to it, Giles. . .spells can be dangerous, and doing this curse means that you or someone else will have to cast it. . .and what if it blows up in our faces or makes Angelus even crazier rather than giving him his soul back? Also. . .if Angel's soul comes back, he's going to remember everything that happened the last four months, and he will feel incredible guilt over it. . .Giles, Angel has saved all of our lives more than once. . .I love him, and he was a friend to all of us until the curse got broken. . .is this something we really want to do to him? Maybe the best thing we can do for our friend. . .for my love. . .is to let him rest, and destroy the monster wearing his face."

Buffy looked down for a moment, and a tear dropped to the table before she looked up again and saw that Giles was watching her with a look of naked pride in his eyes. He was silent for a moment, clearly thinking about what he had just heard, and mulling over his own thoughts on the subject. He cleared his throat and began, "All right, Buffy. . .I've thought about it. . .and I think we should proceed with the plan of going forward with the curse if we can devise a way of doing it in reasonable safety. We'll discuss it with the others first, as this certainly affects them, and we will need their help to conclude this business safely. . .I know Willow has been studying the magical and occult materials that Jenny left behind. . .she may well be better qualified to do this than I am, though I am concerned about exposing her to magic this potentially dangerous."

Buffy winced and replied, "Me too. . .not everyone at the meeting is going to be happy about this. . ."

Giles nodded and responded, "Yes, I know, Buffy, but they certainly have the right to know, given the events of the past four months. . .Xander will certainly be against it. . .Oz, I believe, will support Willow. Cordelia. . . I don't know: she will react in whatever way suits her. . .and we can count on her being honest about her reaction, I think."

Buffy smiled at Giles' last comment, then frowned and asked, "Giles. . .how did you make up your mind so quickly? I know you have to have mixed feelings about Angel, at best."

Giles nodded, then replied, "I considered the things you mentioned, Buffy. . .and they were all well stated. . .but you didn't bring up one important thing: what was Angel himself motivated by? He loved you. . .but he was also trying to make amends for what Angelus had done. . .if we can do this, and we are supportive of him, he will probably be better at doing that than he ever was. . .helping him make his amends is definitely a worthwhile cause, Buffy. . .I know something about the desire for redemption."

Buffy nodded and listened as Giles continued, "But the most important consideration. . .Buffy, I have the utmost respect for your abilities, but this has been very hard on you, and Angelus is an extremely dangerous opponent for you even if you are completely focused on killing him. . . If there is any reasonable chance that we can remove the threat without forcing you to fight him to the death, we have to seriously attempt to implement it. . .any other choice would be irresponsible."

Buffy nodded once more, and stood, preparing to get the others. She felt dizzy for a moment, and when she staggered she found Giles there to support her. She looked up at him, seeing his eyes were aglow with sadness and compassion, and the dam broke. She buried her face in his chest and began crying softly. Giles put his arm around her as she cried and gave her a supportive squeeze as his own eyes teared up. They could wait a few more minutes to call the others. . .both of them needed this time to themselves.



As always, comments are welcomed and desired