The sun was already high in the sky when Alexander Harris finally decided to go to the hotel's restaurant. He had slept a lot more than he was used to, but the previous day had been tiring between his long bus trip and all too long council meeting. Of course, he had already attended council meetings, and each of them had been boring in its own right. But that one had been the worst for Xander: he was way too impatient to have time with Willow and Buffy to be interested in the whole lecturing thing.
Xander smiled. The council gathering would last some days and after that, they could all take advantage of the vacation weeks they had decided to spend together here. Maybe even Giles would have some free time to be with them. And Dawn's enthusiasm had been infectious: Xander felt better than he had felt during the last months.
The carpenter crossed the lobby quickly, whistling happily and finally got to the restaurant. A good breakfast seemed to be in order and his stomach kept reminding him he had got up way later than usual. But obviously, he wasn't the only one: the restaurant room was nearly deserted and the clean tables tended to show that a few people had already show up. Xander was not really surprised: Slayers usually got up late, given their nightly activities.
The young man though looked around the room, looking for a known face. Maybe Giles or Willow would be already up and still there. Xander found any of them. But he spotted Buffy, sat alone at a table near the window on the garden's side.
Xander headed toward her and noticed how concentrated she seemed to be on her coffee cup.
"Hey" he said simply. "Is that seat taken?"
Buffy jumped slightly and raised her head. Her face lighted up with a big smile when she saw Xander. She patted the bench beside her.
"Taken by you now"
Xander smiled back.
"Good. So I'm gonna grab some coffee and a mountain of pancakes and I'm back. Do you want something? »
Buffy seemed to hesitate, turned to her plate and then to Xander again.
"Well, just make sure the mountain of pancakes is high enough for both of us"
"I see ! I won't be long"
He was right. Just some minutes later, Xander was back with a tray on which Buffy could see a cup of coffee and the promise mountain of pancakes. The carpenter sat next to Buffy and started to overcome his breakfast while having a look at Buffy. The Slayer was doing the same as him and was taking her part to get down the pancakes, but she was silent, obviously lost in her thoughts.
"Good night?" finally asked Xander.
Buffy nodded firmly.
"Excellent. Nothing good as killing vampires before going to sleep to have a good night. Plus the plane trip and Giles' boring lecture we were forced to listen yesterday and I was tired enough to fall asleep as soon as my head touched my pillow"
Xander nodded his understanding.
"So how was patrol? Like back to the basics?"
Buffy looked like she was thinking about it.
"Well, I won't lie, killing vampires is kinda exiting. But it's way more interesting since I've got choice to go slaying or not. And, it'll remain rare in my schedule"
Xander nodded and put his cup to his lips to swallow some of his coffee.
"No problem then?" he asked next.
Buffy vaguely gestured and rolled her eyes.
"Nothing special. We found some vampires nests and Faith had to do her way. See ? No real problem"
"What do you mean, Faith had to do her way?" he insisted.
Buffy just shrugged.
"You know, she's Faith"
The blonde Slayer added nothing more, as mentioning Faith's name was enough to explain her point. She got back to her pancakes; and after minutes of silence, she turned again to Xander, having a look at him, opening her mouth several times to say something but finally closing it without actually saying anything. Xander eventually noticed her doing so and turned resolutely to her with a frank smile:
"What's going on? Looks like you're worried?"
Buffy opened then closed her mouth again. She drank a new mouthful of coffee, buttered a new pancake while Xander was looking at her expectantly. Finally, she said:
"Well, I was wondering…"
She stopped again but Xander cheered her with a smile.
"Well, I was wondering how you were doing?" Buffy whispered.
She immediately regretted her question when she saw the carpenter's smile disappear and his gaze looking away. She was about to give up and apologize when he turned again to her.
"Well, I wouldn't say everything's perfect, but I'm better. Really better"
He smiled again and his smile was more melancholic than previously but it was a big smile and Buffy felt reassured.
"Thanks for asking" Xander added.
And after a silence, the carpenter asked :
"What about you?"
Buffy smiled brightly.
"Well, I think I feel better than I've felt for a long time"
Buffy looked down and began to give nervous lights taps on the edge of the table. Xander noticed the gesture but said nothing, waiting for the Slayer to go on. Which she did.
"And sometimes, I feel bad about it"
Xander's expression became one of surprise.
"Bad?" he repeated without understanding what she meant.
"Yeah" Buffy nodded seriously. "About you and Will"
Xander frowned and shook his head vigorously.
"You shouldn't feel that way. You've got more than your own part of shit. You deserve to be happy. And no one is more happy to see you getting the life you wanted than Will and I"
Buffy smiled warmly to him and couldn't help but take him in her arms. Xander was more than happy to return the hug.
"I'm good" he said.
They remained that way a moment, just enjoying the closeness.
"Well, it's gonna be a hug feast." Buffy said in a happy tone. "After my Willow moment yesterday evening, here's my Xander moment"
"So, we're good. I've got my Willow moment yesterday evening too"
Buffy let go of Xander and they resumed their original place on the bench.
"I talked with her near the swimming pool, she said you too had a moment before"
Buffy kept quiet and sipped some of her coffee. Her face darkened again thinking about her conversation with Willow.
"I have to say I'm kinda worried. She didn't look too well"
Xander nodded while buttering thoughtfully one if his pancakes.
"Yeah, she's not feeling that good…You know, all of us, all those memories…" he confirmed.
"I have a feeling it's more…" began Buffy.
But the blonde Slayer stopped short when she saw Kennedy coming their way, a questioning look on her face.
"Hey you two. Is something wrong?"
"No." Buffy answered. "Why?"
"Yeah, you looked like you had an intense talk"
"Kennedy" Xander said, turning to the newcomer. "Good night?"
Kennedy smiled and nooded with enthusiasm.
"Really good. Well, I was kinda tired, yesterday being a long day and all. Will's too was tired. She fell asleep immediately"
"Where's she?" Buffy asked, frowning with a suspicious look on her face.
"No panic!" Kennedy answered, raising her hands in front of her as to surrender. "She's gone to meet Giles in the conference room to talk about some stuff before starting the meeting"
"The meeting?" Xander asked. "What meeting? A new meeting?"
"Yeah. Yesterday's one was just a quick overview of…"
"Quick ? you call that quick?" Xander couldn't help but exclaim.
Kennedy offered him an amused smile and pouted.
"Well, I meant quick in a Giles world" she corrected. "Today, Giles must talk with more details about results and future for Europe"
"Should be interesting for you" She added for the blonde Slayer. "It's where you live now"
"You tell me. So, when does that meeting begin?"
"Ten minutes from now?" Kennedy offered with a grin.
Giles gave them a smile when he saw them coming in but could not come to great them as he was busy talking with a group of watchers. Buffy took the room in at one glance and noticed her sister laughing in a corner of the room with a Slayer Buffy had seen the evening before.
Beside her, Willow listened carefully to the tale of a young Watcher who was looking at her with obvious pride at talking to the infamous Willow Rosenberg.
Then, Buffy frowned when she saw Faith propped in a chair with a sullen look on her face. The dark-haired Slayer noticed her counterpart's entrance but did not do any gesture towards her. Neither did Buffy who headed towards her sister and Willow. Noticing her approach, both young women broke their conversation and came to her. Dawn kissed her sister on the cheek as she had seen in the morning yet.
"Ah, Buffy, you're here. You weren't in the room when I got up. So, you're were early this morning?"
"Yeah, I went for a walk before breakfast"
Dawn looked at her with a dubious look.
"You went on patrol yesterday. You woke up early this morning." She enunciated. "To go for a walk? What the hell did you do to my sister?"
Buffy smiled and hugged her sister.
"I promise I'm just me. I just wanted to walk, to enjoy the good fresh early air"
The explanation obviously did not convince Dawn whose look went from dubious to suspicious.
"You hate waking up early in vacation." She assured.
Buffy rolled her eyes.
"So, let's just tell I made an exception this morning"
Dawn finally seemed to accept that last answer, or at least to recognize her sister to the exasperated look she was wearing now and was pretty much her trademark look when it came to Dawn.
Buffy then turned to Willow who watched the exchange with an amused look. Buffy could not miss the witch's tired features. Willow seemed abnormally exhausted. Her night probably had not been really resting.
Buffy knew that one or two years before, Willow had so terrific nightmares that she could not get any sleep at all. Nightmares bathed in blood, tears, hatred and rage. Nightmares where a blonde woman's smile transformed in a wince of pain before she collapsed in bloodbath. Nightmares where a so common student transformed into a monster before dying in agonizing pain, killed by a witch consumed with hatred and grief.
Nightmares where Tara died, again and again, in front of a powerless Willow.
Buffy knew from what Dawn had told her that even this phenomenon had faded, it still happened from time to time without warning. Buffy supposed that night had been one of THOSE nights. Though, the blonde Slayer decided to say nothing about it. She would have plenty of time later to ask Willow about her nightmares, without Dawn or Kennedy to hear. After all, talking with someone's nightmares about her dead girlfriend is not the best thing to do with the new girlfriend around. Especially when you have no idea how said-girlfriend took the situation. Happy with her considered decision, Buffy settled for a simple:
"Good night Will?"
Willow gestured nonchalantly and answered with a half-smile:
"Not too bad, but I think I'm lacking sleep"
"Looks like" confirmed Buffy.
"You look like shit" endorsed Dawn with her trademark delicacy.
Kennedy came then from behind the witch and put her arms around her waist with a tender gesture, before whispering in her ear in a suggestive tone:
"If you're tired, maybe we can go and rest a little after the meeting?"
"I heard!" exclaimed Buffy. Then pointing to her ear :
"And I guessed!" Added Dawn pointing to her head.
"I've got a brain!"
"And I'm not sure she needs that kind of rest" she added quickly.
Kennedy pouted to Dawn's comment. But Willow's smile was enough to cheer her up.
"I'm not sure. I want to spend as much time as I can with my friends."
The Slayer did not hide her disappointment but nodded her understanding before taking Willow's hand and guiding her to a chair. Buffy and Dawn followed and took a seat in their turn as was about to begin what promised to be one of the most boring meeting in Buffy's life.
When Buffy stretched herself on her chair one hour later, she would have been totally unable to sum the meeting up. She remembered vaguely Giles talking about Rome's center going to be expanded – it was the word Rome which had pulled her out of her reverie at the time – then about Robin probably becoming head leader of London's center.
Everything else had just disappeared from her brain at the second it had been said.
Buffy looked at Faith who was talking with Robin and realized that her counterpart was exactly like her and seemed really embarrassed to not understand a single word of what robin was talking about. Buffy got up and headed toward them, maybe to get Faith away from this situation, or to sink her in it just a little more. She had not yet decided.
"Faith, Robin" She said, giving them a smile. "Good night?"
Robin, who had missed her getting closer, turned to her with a big smile while Faith barely hid an annoyed look. But she pulled herself together quickly, seeing there a good opportunity to get away from a conversation she would obviously have difficulty to follow.
"Good" she answered then quickly. "You?"
"Good too" Buffy answered in a casual tone. "killing vampires before going to bed is obviously the guarantee for a good night of sleep afterwards"
Faith nodded but Robin talked :
"How was patrol? Not too hard after all these months of vacations?"
The tone was obviously warm and amused.
"Hum, I'm in vacation NOW" Buffy said. "And I just wanted to see how everything was. I'm retired now"
"So, how's everything according to you?" asked seriously Robin, curious to have her advice.
"Hum…" Buffy began. « I saw a lot of vampires, a lot of Slayers, and a quite good organization. But some things don't change anyway"
Saying that, Buffy stared at Faith who was keeping silent and cast her a furious glance to the last comment. And that glance darkened even more when Buffy added with a smile playing on her lips:
She didn't answer and felt Wood's attention turning to her and adding to Buffy's insistent gaze.
"What happened?" he finally asked after an uncomfortable silence.
Faith opened her mouth to answer something but Buffy was quicker and answered in a sarcastic tone :
"Oh, nothing much. After meeting numerous vampires groups, Faith'd just gone after he runaways, not worrying a second that they might lead her into a trap and not worrying about three young Slayers following her 'cause she's THE slayer."
Buffy stressed the 'THE' and did not pay attention to the dark glance the former rogue Slayer cast her.
"I still don't see where's the problem." She grumbled. "They're vampires, we patrol to kill them"
Wood crossed his arms over his chest and his gaze traveled from Buffy to Faith before his face showed a mask of contrariety.
"Is that true Faith?"
"Yeah!" Faith exploded. « we found a group, we attacked them, I ran after those who tried to get away and I still don't see where's the fucking problem!"
Wood's face grew more serious to the Slayer's explosion. However, he did not lost his calm to answer:
"You know how things are here. Vampires tend to act in groups. A lot more than in Sunnydale. It wouldn't be the first time they try to lead a patrol to an important nest. Jaina had been seriously hurt last month in that kind of trap."
"God, do you thing we were wondering that much before there were all those Slayers?" asked Faith, her arms opened in an interrogative gesture.
"Maybe not" Robin admitted. "But maybe that's why they used to die so young"
"She died young 'cause they were alone!" retorted an annoyed Faith.
"And now, you're not alone anymore. But having a lot of girls doesn't mean we can risk their lives without thinking!"
"I didn't risk their lives!" Spat Faith, exasperated. "They're Slayers like me damn it!"
"Buffy's right" resumed Robin, talking louder. "She and you will always be different for the other girls. You have the duty not to put them at risk. Willingly or by recklessness" he added even more firmly.
Faith crossed her arms, leant on the table behind her and offered a dark glance and a closed face to her two accusers. Seeing she was keeping silent, Wood added:
"Cleveland Slayers already found really big nests here. Nothing to do with Sunnydale. And there're probably more. Jenny knows that. You should have listened to her and not take such risks."
"And Jenny warned us" Buffy precised. "She told us to stay together in that cemetery"
Faith answered nothing. Her gaze traveled from Robin to Buffy, the two of them obviously waiting for her reaction. But the only thing she had to offer was her stubborn look. After a moment of silent wait, Faith stood and took a step to go away.
"So, lecture's over?" she asked in a cold and bored tone.
Robin and Buffy exchanged a glance.
"Faith…" Buffy began.
But Faith had not waited for an answer and was heading to the door. To the sound of Buffy's voice, she gestured to her without looking back, meaning she wasn't listening anymore and the conversation was now over. Buffy sighed loudly and turned to Robin who was staring at Faith's departure with a dubious look on his face.
"Hey, Buff, trouble?"
Xander's voice pulled the blonde Slayer out of her thoughts. She turned to her friend, forced a smile and gestured vaguely with her hand.
"Nothing much" she said with a bitter sigh. "Just Faith…"
Xander was about to ask more but was interrupted by Dawn, Willow and Kennedy's arrival.
"So, what are we doing now?" Willow asked.
Buffy looked at her best friend and could not help a frank frown in front of Willow's obvious tiredness.
Obviously, the council meeting hadn't done anything good to the redhead.
"I was thinking about going for a walk" Buffy answered. "But I really think you should get some rest Will, you look exhausted"
Kennedy nodded and quickly came to her help:
"She's right Will. You should take some rest and we all meet after"
Saying this, Kennedy had wrapped her arms around the witch and looked at her with hope. In front of Willow's dubious look, Xander came to the girls' help too.
"I think they're right Will" added the carpenter. "You take some rest and we meet in an hour or two"
Willow turned to Kennedy, still wrapped around her, then to Buffy, then to Xander before coming again to Kennedy.
"You're all against me?" she said with a fake sullen look.
Xander smiled and kissed her on her forehead.
"Happy to see you surrender to everyone's decision"
Willow putted but dropped the matter anyway.
"Good. I let you have your walk. See you in an hour then »
She had just finished her sentence that Kennedy was already pulling her with her and threw a quick "later" to Buffy and Xander. They looked them getting away and Dawn could not help to grumble some words Buffy preferred not to try to understand. Then the young Summers turned to her sister with bright eyes:
"So, that walk?"
Buffy crossed her arms and looked at her sister with an amused look.
"I' m sorry but no walk for you Dawn" Buffy said firmly.
"You have homework to do"
"What? Buffy, we're in vacations."
"But you have to work this summer to be on top next year" Buffy asserted. "And you shouldn't wait for tomorrow to begin with that. So, you're gonna work while Will has her rest and we come to get you two later"
And Buffy punctuated her sentence by pulling her sister into a hug and tapping her gently on her back. Dawn knew to the gesture that arguing was not an option and sighed loudly to voice her disagreement. But she did not protest more and took her way back to her room. Buffy and Xander remained then alone.
"So, Buff, going for a walk? Asked Xander.
"Going for a walk" Buffy confirmed.
The two friends got to a park near the hotel in no time. The place was charming: high trees bordered narrow paths snaking between well-kept flourishing lawns. Sometimes, the path transformed into a small wooden bridge to treadle over a clear river. It was weird to think that little corner of country was in the center of a so big town.
They talked about anything precise, going from point to another without them noticing, just the way their walk was.
But they both knew where they were heading, no matter the path to go there. So, Xander was not surprised when Buffy suddenly came to a stop and turned to him to say "I'm worried about Will" although they were not talking at all about the redhead at the time. Xander stopped too and looked at Buffy with a frown. The blonde Slayer wore on her face that trademark serious and deep look that could one of "Buffy-the-Slayer" or "Buffy-the-best-friend".
She crossed her arms and stared at Xander, repeating as he had not heard or understood what she had just said:
"I'm worried about Will"
Xander nodded his head and both friends resumed their random walk in the park.
"I got that part" confirmed the young man. "You're here, you're talking to me et though, you look like you're somewhere else" he explained
Buffy smiled willingly. That was something really good with Xander : you never had to explain that kind of things : he just understood. And even more when it came to Willow.
"So, what's bothering you exactly?" Xander asked.
"We talked yesterday evening when I got back after patrol" Buffy explained. "She was…"
"Melancholic?" Xander offered. « Yeah » he confirmed.
"She was thinking about Tara" Buffy went on.
"About the photos, the things that disappeared… About her grave buried under Sunnydale's ruins"
"We talked about that too"
Xander stopped and considered Buffy. "It's not really new Buff. What's the matter with that now?"
« Xander, Tara died more than years ago now. Sunnydale disappeared one year ago. I know it's not that old but… Will said she thought she would never totally move on. NEVER. She said never."
Xander answered nothing, thinking about Buffy's words. He hesitated about what to say, thought again about his own conversation with Willow, about all the conversations he had with her in the last months. Finally he came to a stop again and asked gently :
"Did you really ever think she would move on?"
Buffy stared at Xander as she saw him for the first time and a stupefied expression plastered on her face.
"You mean you never thought she would get over Tara's death?"
Buffy's tone was clearly disbelieving. How Xander, usually so optimistic, always the one to believe in the future, could be the one not believing to a new chance at happiness for Willow? Buffy could not believe what she just heard.
"You were there, right? You saw what Tara's death caused, just like me. How come back from a so deep despair?"
Buffy's gaze planted in Xander's. Her friend's words slowly came to her mind.
"Yeah, I thought she would" she answered. "I thought she was getting better, that her new like in Brazil with Kennedy makes her happy again…"
"She's getting better Buff" Xander confirmed. "But happy? This is something else…"
An uncomfortable silence fell over the two friends and they resumed their walk. Both were lost in their own thoughts and a deep frown was crossing Buffy's forehead. Finally she insisted :
"You think really that never… that she will never be happy again?"
Xander offered her a sad and compassionate smile.
"Frankly, I don't know. I'd like to say yes, to say she just needs some more time. But the thing is, I don't know. What I know is that something broke inside her when Tara was murdered. And I don't see what could fix that something"
Xander stopped to let Buffy some time to get what he was saying, then resumed even more seriously than before:
"It can soften, cured, made bearable. But not fixed"
The young man kept quiet again and stared at Buffy's absent look. The blonde Slayer was staring back at him but her gaze was vague and she looked like thoughts were running at gallop in her mind, running after ideas buried until then.
Xander did not see her fists squeezing but he couldn't not notice her hard and resolved face when she finally said simply:
"There's always something to do"
Giles' office was located in the last floor in the Council's hotel. It was the kind of room he liked. It was spacious enough to let guests know how important was the inhabitant of the room, but not too much for the office to be welcoming and personal. To the right of the door were several wooden shelves which carried what Giles possibly loved the most in the world : books and books and books. Gathering them had been a really hard work after the destruction of the council by the First. Rebuilding a great library had been one of Giles important new task. Now it was done, Giles couldn't help himself and looked proudly at his books with much pride. And sometimes, he just took one of them, sat in his minister chair and read at the light of the wide window behind him.
Now could be one of this moment. Except that night was falling and the sun was disappearing behind the horizon. Giles was reading council reports in the light of his desk lamp.
A light knock at the door made him jump and raise his head. The door was opened and Buffy was standing at the doorstep. She wore a long summer bright-colored dress and her hair was put in a beautiful pun. Giles could not help but feel a fatherly pride when he saw the girl he still considered a daughter. He smiled warmly and gestured for her to come in. She did as she was instructed and came closer to the desk.
"Still working Giles?" She said gently. "You should have a break"
"It seems that it's exactly what I'm about to do"
Buffy smiled back and sat in one of the two armchairs facing Giles.
"I'm happy you were free tonight to have dinner with us. It was nice, wasn't it?"
"Right" Giles answered in a sarcastic tone. "I especially enjoyed the part where Kennedy told us with much details about her last Brazilian demon evisceration"
Buffy shrugged in a knowing way.
"You know, she's Kennedy" she said simply. "But except that little thing about south-American demons anatomy, it was nice, right?" she asked again. "Well, I found it nice"
Giles nodded and stared at Buffy cautiously before answering:
"Really nice" He said. "But… you were a little thoughtful"
"To tell the truth, I was"
Giles look became immediately worried.
"Is something bothering you?"
Buffy took a pencil on Giles desk and made it turn absent-mindedly between her fingers without answering immediately.
"It's about Willow" She said finally, after making her pencil doing acrobatics under Giles patient stare.
"Willow" the former Watcher repeated. "What's wrong with Willow?"
The pencil began to turn again between the Slayer's fingers.
"We talked yesterday night, after dinner. She's not getting that better"
Giles frowned and put his glasses back into place.
"A problem with magic? Or with Kennedy?" he offered.
Buffy shook her head firmly.
"A Tara problem"
Giles' frown got stressed and the former Watcher took off his glasses and began to clean them with a piece of clothe he took from his desk.
"What do you mean?"
"She's still not over Tara's death"
"It's not really surprising, Buffy" said Giles after a silence. "Mourning is complex and changing from a person to another and most of the times takes many steps."
"I know Giles" Buffy answered, almost impatiently. "I know what's mourning"
"I know, I know" Giles answered in an apologizing tone. "I didn't mean that…"
"Giles, it looks like really serious" Buffy interrupted him. "She thinks she won't ever be over it"
There was a new silence and Buffy made the pencil turn between her fingers again while Giles was cleaning his glasses again.
"It might be possible" he eventually said.
Buffy looked at him with puzzled eyes, as he had just said he had never believed Santa Claus existed.
"How's that: it might be possible? What do you mean by it might be possible? Is everyone okay with Willow not getting any better? Ever?"
Giles's tone was intended to be soothing but Buffy got up from her chair and stood in front of Giles, showing no sign she was about to calm down.
"What are you about to say Giles? That you too think she'll never move on?"
"Buffy…" Giles repeated in the same tone.
But Buffy did not want to listen and started to pace the room.
"Okay Giles, none of us really took care of that before. Magic problems, the First, then the Slayers awakening spell, Sunnydale's destruction, the new council to build…"
She stopped to talk a second, just to breath in.
"But now? Now that you're here writing never-ending reports, ruling the council, now that Willow and Xander work for that good council, now that I have a normal work in a normal town, maybe it's time to think about it"
Giles crossed his arms and looked at his former Slayer who had finally resumed her position in the armchair and was staring at him expectantly. He cleared his throat and began quietly:
"Well, I don't really see what we can do about that… We can be here for here as much as we can…" he added quickly seeing Buffy opening her mouth to interrupt.
"She's the only one who wan heal that wound. And her relationship with Kennedy – disregarding her skills to spoil the pleasure to eat – seems to be perfectly sane and stable and able to help Willow to move on…"
Buffy let her former Watcher end his sentence but when he saw the weary look on her face, Giles understood it was far from what she was waiting for.
"Giles, I know that. And Willow knows that too. I think she's really lucid about this relationship, about what's good or not about it. But she says she won't ever get over Tara's death. And something inside of me screams she's right. I can feel it Giles…"
The Watcher sighed deeply and cleaned again his classes before addressing the Slayer :
"Are you scared that Willow… ends up doing something stupid?" he finally asked.
Buffy stared at him a second, trying to understand what he meant then shook her head firmly.
"No, no Giles. It's not what I mean. But… thinking that Willow will ever live with that weight on her shoulders. She's so young…"
There was a new silence, Giles waiting for Buffy to go on, the latter turning the words in her head before making up her mind.
"I messed up Giles. I let them get involved in this mess. It wasn't their fight. I saved the world from more apocalypses than I can remember but I just wasn't able to protect what she cherishes the most in the world"
Giles opened his mouth to speak but Buffy raised her hand to make him keep quiet and to let her finish and then went on :
"And do you know what I get in return?"
Buffy stopped talking but the look on her face clearly showed she wasn't expecting an answer from Giles and that she would be the one to answer her own question:
"Never a word of reproach. Instead, she freed me Giles. She awoke the Slayers and she gave me what I wanted the most, what I always desired. So, just tell me now, what kind of friend that makes me Giles?
Giles stared Buffy's desperate look for a long time when she stopped talking and the serious look on his face pointed how much the blonde Slayer's torment had reached him.
"Buffy…" he said gently, as a father trying to consol his child. "You can't save everyone, even the Slayer is not supposed to save everyone. Not even you"
Buffy shook slightly her head.
"No Giles, I can't save everyone. But… just my friends, is that too much to ask ?"
"I understand how you feel, but…"
"Giles" Buffy interrupted firmly. "I couldn't save Tara but I wanna save Willow from a miserable life"
Giles stared again at Buffy and felt suddenly ill-at-ease in front of the blonde Slayer resolute look. He looked for something to say but Buffy went on before he had decided what to say next.
"Giles, I know what I'm going to say might seem crazy but I want you to know I really thought about all this and I weighted up the meaning of what I want. And even if it seems to be a blind impulse, I swear it's not. You know me, Giles ?"
Giles nodded gravely and felt his uneasiness growing in front of the serious and determination coming from Buffy.
"I think so. I know you're not an inconsiderate person. What is it?"
The pencil turned again between Buffy's fingers and she focused her attention on it, searching her words, weighting her decision again, tidying her breath, calming her pounding heart. When she looked up to her Watcher, the pencil broke in her fingers.
"I want to bring Tara back"
The time seemed to stop. Giles and Buffy stared at each other for a long time, the Watcher looking like he was trying to understand what Buffy had just said, searching in her gaze to confirm she had meant what he had heard.
And Buffy looked at him from the bottom of her armchair, sure and resolute, simply waiting for a reaction, any reaction. But even after several minutes of intense thinking, the reaction she got was minimalist:
"I want to bring Tara back" Buffy repeated simply.
Giles gestured to tell her he had correctly heard :
"I heard that, Buffy. Buffy, what do you exactly by 'bringing Tara back'?"
"You got me Giles, I want to bring Tara back to life"
Disbelief appeared on the former Watcher's face. A new silence fell between them before Giles resumed:
"Buffy, I guess you're not talking seriously?"
"Do you really think I'd be joking about something like that?"
"Of course not" Giles admitted. "But, Buffy…Are you talking about resurrection?"
Saying this, Giles readjusted his glasses and put his clear and resolute gaze in the Slayer's one. Buffy's answer was direct and simple:
Giles looked at Buffy without talking, then anger slowly replaced disbelief.
"Buffy! How can you just think about it?"
"Giles, I know it seems crazy but I'm really serious. I don't see any other solution and believe me, I really thought about the matter and…"
"Buffy, it's impossible! Resurrections can't be performed just like that!"
He had shouted this time. But Buffy didn't lose her temper despite her former Watcher's fluster.
"That's the reason I'm asking for your help. I don't know anything about magic. You do"
"Willow already tried and it didn't worked"
"Giles, it was just after. And just like me, you know there're many ways. You told yourself to Willow that others were able to do what she did by bringing me back"
"And I also told her she wouldn't like to meet them"
Giles stood up while saying this and he looked at Buffy sternly. More sternly she could remember him looking at her.
"Buffy" Giles interrupted in a calmer but cold tone. "Even if it was possible, how can you want something like this? Who better than you can know how hard it is to be resurrected? If only one person should be against that, it should be you Buffy. Because you know."
"It's exactly where you're wrong Giles. I'm the only one who can take that decision. Because I know. I know it's hard but I also know that you can deal with that. I dealt with, Giles and I'm
happy now. Happy to have been given a second chance at life and got to see my sister growing up. And I'm not afraid anymore of what will come after. Because I know. I dealt with, Tara will be able to, I know that."
Giles let himself fall back in his armchair while Buffy had stood up in her turn and looked at him more resolute than ever.
"You were the first to tell that magic can't solve everything. You don't know what you're talking about"
"Giles, I exactly know what I'm talking about. Like you said yourself, I know better than anyone what I'm talking about. I chose to die Giles. Tara didn't. Her life had been stolen from her. Willow's life trampled on in the meantime. I want to do something Giles. Something big"
"Buffy, if that was really what Willow wanted, don't you think she would have done it herself?"
"And take the risk to fail again?" Buffy retorted. "Is she just able to do that again?"
Giles snorted a little at the question.
"The only good question regarding Willow would be to know what she is NOT able to do. But you're right about one thing, she's not herself aware of all her abilities"
Giles sank even more deeply in his armchair and Buffy took back her seat. She moved forward to the edge of her seat and put her forearms on the desk while joining her hands. The former Watcher put off his glasses for the thousand time of the day and wiped them for the thousand times. The light of the desk lamp reflected in the glasses and sent flickering shadows on Giles' face and the office's walls as it was now pitch-black outside. Buffy waited for her watcher to end his task and to look at her again. They stared at each other for a long time, searching, hoping for a backward step in the look of their interlocutor. But the only thing they found there was the same determination.
"I feel I can do it Giles. I owe it to her. Help me"End of 'Friends'