Goodbye

Glendale Apartment Complex,
Sunnydale, CA.

Giles is sitting on a leather office chair surrounded by a series of monitors, each displaying a different location in Sunnydale. Since he 'left', this has been the only way he could keep watch over his charges without them knowing that he hadn't in fact returned to Britain, instead simply moving apartments.

Although he hates to admit it, he knows how useful modern technology can be and pulled in a couple of favours from some of his more techno-savvy contacts and got them to set up a series of surveillance cameras, hidden from sight courtesy of a glamour spell he recently came across. He feels bad watching his 'children' like this, but he felt it was the only way. Buffy was starting to depend on him too much and, while he didn't want to sever his connection with her and the others, he knew that he needed to give them space to see if they would cope without him.

As he starts thinking about his charges, he gets a sudden feeling that something was missing, I haven't seen Xander around lately, I wonder what he's been doing? . Out of all his charges, Xander was the one he worried about the least, not because he didn't care for him as much as the others, but because he was the most level-headed of the group. He never managed to get a camera into Xander's apartment so he couldn't tell if he was there or not, but he cannot remember seeing Xander at all for the last couple of days and immediately starts worrying for the boy, correction, young man.

Deciding to risk discovery, Giles ventures out of his motel room and makes his way to Xander's apartment to find out how his surrogate son is doing, something I should have done long before now he thinks belatedly, given the way things have been progressing the last few months.

As he walks up to Xander's apartment door, he senses the presence of magic hiding something from view. As he goes to knock on the door, an envelope with his name on it appears, taped to the door.

A sense of foreboding sweeps over the man, knowing that something major has happened. Taking the envelope from the door, he notes that the envelope is dated two weeks ago, two weeks? Has it really taken me this long to notice his absence? He thinks to himself, ashamed that it would take that long.

Shaking his head sadly, he opens the envelope and out pops a key, presumably to the apartment. As he opens the door, he begins to read the letter that was also in the envelope.

Hey Giles,

Did you like the spell? I know I've had some pretty bad luck with magic in the past, but I'd like to remind you that I never actually cast any of those spells. I decided I better see if it was me or the Hellmouth that caused them to go haywire and found that I have an affinity with glamour spells, I guess it fits in with my personality.

Getting back on track, I knew that if anybody were to notice I hadn't been around much it would be you, so I set up the spell accordingly. I mean, who else would it be? Buffy's too busy 'secretly' fucking Spike every chance she gets, Willow's too busy raping Tara's mind and endangering Dawn's life, Dawn's too busy risking a trip to juvie by getting five fingered discounts, Anya's too busy getting reacquainted with her former job, and you're too busy spying on us instead of being in the land of tweed like you said you were.

I guess you're surprised I knew that, huh? Yeah, well, just like everyone else in my life you've underestimated me. As I said I have an affinity with glamour spells, which includes detecting when they're being used.

I gotta say that it hurt when I realised you hadn't gone, not just because you lied to us, but also because you'd miss my wedding. You're as much a member of my family as anyone else and to know that you were still in town but wouldn't be there for me.

I know you probably did it because Buffy was leaning on you too much and you wanted her to stand on her own two feet, something she wouldn't have done with you still around, so I know it was done with the best of intentions, but there's a saying that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

As you've already read, your idea hasn't exactly gone to plan, at least I hope not; if her boffing Deadboy Jr. was in your game plan lets just say that we'll be having words next time we meet. I don't know if anyone else knows about them, the only reason I do is because they think I'm the same person they knew in High School, not that I was what they thought back then either.

You see, I found them having sex in Spike's crypt when she was invisible due to the 21st Century's answer to the Three Stooges. I went to see if Spike had seen her and that's when I caught them. Spike thought I would buy his 'doing naked push ups on his bed' excuse. I mean, I could actually hear her moaning for fuck sake, not to mention the place reeked of sex. They must think that I'm a complete retard to have gone for that, who am I to correct them?

To be honest, I didn't say anything because, quite frankly, if she has so little respect for me (I couldn't care less what Spike thinks of me) that she would fuck another thing that is her duty do kill within feet of me, then I have no time for her. Harsh I know, but that doesn't make it any less true.

Willow's journey to the dark side (sorry, I had to have a Star Wars reference in here somewhere) is out of my league to confront. If she can manipulate the memories of someone with as much knowledge of witchcraft as her, if not as much raw power, then I wouldn't stand a snowball's chance in hell.

For all I know I might have already tried but can't remember as she's wiped the conversation from my mind. I had hoped that you would have made more of an effort with her, using your own experience on the subject, but you either didn't notice or didn't care. Again, I know that sounds harsh but this is Willow I'm talking about.

The way things stand at the moment, I can only think of two ways to deal with her; either bind/ strip her of her powers or do to her what we were going to do to Catherine Madison. I hope you understand what it means for me to admit that Giles, it took me an hour before I was able to write it. I just hope that neither option is necessary, but that will be up to you to decide.

Dawn's problem is no less important than the others, but in the grand scheme of things the least worrying. She's young without any real parental figure at the moment and is acting out, just like anyone else in her position would. I could deal with it so easily if I had any sort of authority over her, or if she listened to me anymore.

These days, the only one who could lay down the law and make it stick is Buffy and she's too busy laying Spike to notice her sister's breathing, let alone breaking the law. I used to have some sway with Dawn, but ever since she transferred her crush from me to Fangless I'm barely a blip on her radar, and Spike probably gave her the idea in the first place so he's not going to do anything.

By the time I worked all of this out, I was already feeling as worthless as I did Senior year, and I hadn't left Anya at the altar yet. Of all the mistakes I've made in my life, I can say without a shadow of a doubt that has to be the biggest, although not in the way most people think.

If I had thought about it rationally, I might have been able to realise that the visions I'd been shown were false, but to be honest I doubt it would have made a difference. No matter how rational I had been, I don't think there would have been a single way I could have gone through with the ceremony after what I experienced.

You see, something I didn't mention to anyone was that I wasn't a spectator in the visions, I lived them. I felt the agony of getting injured protecting Buffy, the pain of finding Anya with another man, the anger as I hit Anya over the head with a frying pan, and the gut wrenching guilt as I looked at her lifeless body.

Yes, I could have handled it a lot better than I did, running away was not the smartest move I've ever made, but the end result would have been the same. And yes, I include Anya becoming Anyanka again in that, there is no way that she would have understood my reasons for cancelling and D'hoffryn would have still used it to bring her back into the fold.

So to summarise, I've ruined the best chance of happiness I was likely to get, have memories of killing the woman I love, and failed everyone I care about, all in the space of a few months. To say that I'm not feeling the joys of spring right now would be the understatement of the eon.

That's why I've decided to leave, if I stayed I'd be fighting a useless cause and I just don't have it in me anymore. I've got no final words of wisdom for you and there are no messages to relay to the others. I don't even care if you tell them to be honest; I doubt they'll care one way or the other if you did.

I would say I'll see you around, but I'm Catholic so I know that won't be happening, so I'll just say goodbye.

Your friend,

Xander.

Giles clutches the letter to his chest as he looks at the lifeless body of his friend, thinking that a simple conversation with him could have prevented this. He knew Xander was the type of person to bottle up his emotions; he was the same in that respect and should have noticed the strain he was under.

The problem was that Xander not only had his own problems, he had been made designated sounding board for everyone else's as well. Even he had been guilty of it on occasion, especially during Buffy's first year of college.

It never once occurred to him that Xander would need the same, and now it was too late to do anything about it. He would do his best to help the others as much as he could, knowing that's what Xander would have wanted, but he didn't know how long the body would survive without it's heart.

The End