Title: Counting The Cost

Name: Laura Sichrovsky

Fandom: Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Pairing: None

Rating: PG

Warnings: No real warnings here.

Spoilers: If you haven't seen through the season five finale, don't read this. You wouldn't understand it.

Disclaimer: This is where I put the statement saying that I do not own Buffy, Giles (Heh! I wish!), Sunnydale, or anything

Relating to the show. No one is paying me to do this and if you feel the sudden urge to send me gifts, you might

want to talk to someone about that. Joss Whedon owns all things Buffy and has not given me permission to use

these characters as I have so if you have problems with the story, please send the pretzel bombs to me, not him.

Summary: Giles's thoughts and feelings about Buffy and the way she's changed his life.

Author's Notes: It seems I have a thing for songs in stories. I can't really help it. I hear a song and it brings pictures to my mind

like a music montage. The song for this story is called, Remembering You by Steven Curtis Chapman and is

from the album, Music Inspired by The Chronicles of Narnia. (Full text at the end of the story.) It was playing

in the background while I was tossing around an idea for a Giles story and it caught my full attention. The next

thing I knew, I was hearing Giles's voice and I just typed what he told me to. Thanks need to be given, and here is

where they go. Thanks to Joss for creating characters so fun to watch and to borrow for a bit. Thanks to Tony

Head for making Giles so amazing. I tried to fight it, but he was just to remarkable not to fall for. Thanks to

Giles for taking up temporary lodging in my head. It's been nice to sit down with a cup of tea and visit a spell

with the Watcher. Big thank yous to my sister, Kristen the Beta Goddess. She takes my ramblings and puts them

in some readable order. She is also the grounding wire that pulls me from the sadness. You can't write a story

like this without bleeding a bit and she is the one with the band-aids. I do so love her. To Katy for the pep talk

To my amazing husband who not only doesn't get upset when my writing takes over, but who doesn't freak about t

he men who live in my head. I love him so. And to my son, Samuel who keeps me true to the characters and helps me hear the

voices more clearly.

Counting The Cost

As Rupert Giles held Buffy in his arms, he was struck by her beauty, her compassion, her...goodness. He trailed a loving touch gently across her face, tracing to her hairline where he felt the silky strands tangle in his fingers. Everything about her amazed him, always had. As he hugged her closer to his body, held her against his fiercely beating heart, he couldn't stop himself from thinking how they'd gotten here.

"I found You in the most unlikely way
But really it was You who found me
And I found myself in the gifts that You gave
You gave me so much"

From the moment that she had walked into his library, Buffy had turned Giles's world upside down. He'd been so sure that he knew her, that he could learn all there was to know from her Watcher file. When she had looked at him with wide eyes and backed away, telling him that she had no interest in vampires, thank you very much, he'd been confused. Had he made a mistake? Was she the wrong student? He'd quickly learned that his mistake was not in her identity, but in thinking that he could force her into her destiny. She wanted a normal life and resented everything that seemed designed to take that away, including him. He was terrified that he would fail the Council, fail her, fail the world and that she would simply walk away from her calling.

But true to Buffy form, she had embraced who she was in the end, when it felt to her like her idea, not his, and she had been more than he could have hoped for as a Slayer. She had allowed him to train her, to teach her, to guide her; and he had done his best not to let her down. In the end, he had to run to keep up with her, studying late into the night to be sure that he knew everything she would need from him. For a reluctant Slayer, she had truly made him work to keep up.

Theirs was an odd relationship, an unlikely friendship. He was the older one, the one who had spent years studying so that he could teach and guide her. Yet she was the one who controlled their association, set the pace and rules to it. He would demand discipline; she would give him hard work. Close, but not the same. He laid down the law; she would be single-minded in her studies. She would read demon texts at the local dance club between songs. He set a training schedule for her to stick to, a rigid workout to build her strength. She did dance moves to ungodly music. It had driven him mad. But along the way, she had made him see that she was not a by the book girl; that her way of doing things was not goofing off, rather it was playing to her strengths. And he couldn't argue with the results.

Giles was an introverted man by nature. Years of studying by himself had given him the idea that he needed no one, that books were company enough. He had been content with his life of libraries and late night cups of tea. His training as a Watcher only served to further enforce these tendencies. Saving the world was a serious task that could tolerate no distractions in the way of friends or free time. And then she had come into his life like a natural disaster. His habit of being alone grated against her gregarious nature and she could not just let him be. When she felt that he was logging too much alone time, she inserted herself into his life, whether he wanted it or not. She played loud music in his library, gave him unwanted fashion tips, and forced him to listen to gossip about high school students. Why should he care who was dating whom? But Buffy made sure he knew anyway. She made him come on patrol with her, saying that he reminded her too much of the Unabomber. He had fought her, huffing and hiding behind his tweed. But in the end, as always, she'd won him over. He found himself actually missing her company and had found ways to get out more.

Slayers were supposed to be solitary. "In every generation, there is a chosen one. She alone must fight the vampires and the forces of darkness." A chosen one; she alone. Somehow, these words had gotten past Buffy. For age upon age, it had been Slayer and Watcher, working together against the evil; two alone in the fight. He had impressed upon her the need to keep her identity a secret, yet as usual, she changed the rules to suit her. Enter Xander and Willow. Giles had argued passionately to Buffy about the need for the two of them to work alone, but she would hear nothing of it. And in the end, she proved that in some ways, she knew more than he did. Willow had been invaluable in all things computer and Xander had become indispensable back-up. Time after time, their little group had saved the world when Buffy alone could not have. And Giles had been forced to admit his admiration for these teenaged children. They were terrified of the things that lived in the darkness, but they never wavered, never failed when their help was needed. They faced creatures that frightened grown men and never shirked their duties. Giles could not have been prouder of them.

And that in itself turned his world inside out. For years now, Giles had felt that he would never marry, would never have a family. Such attachments were too dangerous when one fought demons for a living. He steeled his heart against the loneliness, the emptiness of knowing that such things would never be for him. And then his Slayer had forced her way past his defenses, had worked her way into his heart; and she had brought her friends. Almost from the first, Giles had realized that he would give up everything for these children. He would give up his life, his very soul, if it would keep Buffy and her friends safe. He had thought that it was because of his upbringing, his sense of duty. This little group were his soldiers and he must keep them safe to fight another day. But one day he realized that he did it because he loved them. They weren't soldiers, they were his family. He was their father and he would do everything that title demanded of him for them. In return, they treated him as one of their own, loving him, being there for him, chasing the loneliness out of his world once and for all. He had never known that family could be such a powerful force; he would never make that mistake again. He would trade all the books and weapons in the world to have these people by his side in a battle. Then again, he'd give everything he was to keep them safe from the battle to begin with.

"From the first moment when I heard Your name
Something in my heart came alive
You showed me love and no words could explain
A love with the power to
Open the door
To a world I was made for"

In the beginning, Giles could have never imagined the bond that would grow between Buffy and himself. He'd read of the Slayer/Watcher relationship and all the books said that he would be the teacher, the mentor. And he had tried to live up to that; had tried to be the best Watcher for his Buffy. But she had taught him as well. She had freed him from his cage, his emotional bonds and had opened a new life to him; one with friends, family, and love in it. And she had been a perfect foil in their life together. Her outgoing personality had complimented his introverted one, causing each to give a little. As a result, she had become more thoughtful and introspective; he had learned how to play without giving up his dignity. Her crazy fashion sense had offset his British reserve; she dressed more adult now and he'd packed up his tweed. Her outrageous American vocabulary had warred with his Queen's English; the result was that he had taught her the proper way to conjugate verbs and she had educated him in the Buffy way to use, "of the good." He trained her in the use of deadly weapons; she showed him the undeniable need for hugs in one's life. To a man who had lived most of his adult life alone, it was a large jump, admitting that he now needed people in his life, that he now understood what it was to feel; but she had been there to catch him on the other side.

He had been raised on a life of duty; what he wanted, what he needed, was irrelevant. He had a sacred birthright, a calling and he had no choice but to do it. Yet in all the lectures on honor and sacrifice, no one had told him that his obligation would become such a part of him, become one of his strengths; that far from feeling weighed down and isolated by being the Watcher to the Slayer, it would free him to be the man he'd always been meant to be. She had worked with him, loved him, brought him into her world and it had showed him the true meaning of all the platitudes he'd been raised with. His loyalty to her was unwavering and it only served to enrich the man he was. He was supposed to be her Watcher, but in truth, they watched out for each other. Even when he had been relieved of his duties by the Council, he couldn't leave her. By that point, she was too much a part of his life and he was her port in the storm. He'd have died before he abandoned her. The ebb and flow of their lives brought others into their little family. Willow brought Oz, then Tara; Xander brought Cordelia, then Anya; the Council sent them Faith and Wesley; odd chance had delivered Spike and Dawn; family one and all, each adding to the strength of their world, some staying to continue the fight, some flowing away on life's fickle tides. Yet through it all, it was always the two of them; through the good and the bad, through high school and college, through life, love, and death, it was always Buffy and Giles; Watcher and Slayer, two beats of the same heart.

He was a different person now because of her, just as she had been forever changed by him; he knew that he was a better man for it. He actually liked himself now, liked when he was with her. His little family somehow made him feel like a father and a friend; he strived to be deserving of both titles. Buffy had come into his life as a duty; he had been assigned to take care of her. He now couldn't even remember ever thinking of her as such. She was his daughter, his Slayer, she was his friend. She had given him the gift of a life with her in it and he had tried be worthy of that. They had helped each other, loved each other, changed each other; but far from being a bad thing, their relationship had left them both stronger. No one had ever touched Giles's life like that and no one else ever would.

"The dark night, the hard fight
The long climb up the hill knowing the cost
The brave death, the last breathe
The silence whispering all hope was lost"

And now it had come to this. In one blinding moment, his Slayer had once again proven that her compassion, her devotion to duty, had overweighed all. She had given her life to save the world as she had always been meant to do. Duty and honor; Giles hated himself for ever teaching those words to her. Because he had been the mentor she had needed, she had become the woman the world needed; and Giles was left to cradle the broken body of his Slayer. He had no idea that a person could hurt this much and still breathe, their heart still beat. She had been his family, had become his life, and now that life was over. Another Slayer would be called and she would be given another Watcher. They would have to learn to work together, to become the force that would stave off the darkness. And Giles would have to learn to live without the reason for his existence in the first place.

But Giles didn't have the luxury to descend into madness. He was still the father to this little family and they would need him to be strong more than they ever had. And he wouldn't let them down, wouldn't let Buffy down. She had counted on him, had trusted him and he would carry on as she would have wanted him to. It wasn't fair, but nothing in their lives had been. He hadn't deserved to be forced into a stuffy tweed mold that had robbed him of his passions; she shouldn't have had to give up her youth, her dreams, and eventually her life, for a battle she could never win. She had been a child, she had been brilliant, she shouldn't have had to be a hero. Yet this was what the universe had demanded of them and together they had answered that call. And maybe that had made it easier. No, it hadn't been fair, but they'd had each other to commiserate with. And now, in one breath-stealing moment, he was alone; truly alone. There was no one to hold him up when he was weak, catch him when he stumbled. There was no one to bring a smile into his day, to hold him when he cried. He was now adrift and he could not be weak, could not break down. His family deserved at least that in their time of grief. And he would be the rock for them, the voice of comfort; in short, he would be the man that she had caused him to be.

Giles stood, carrying her body from the battlefield. In all his books, this had been cast as the last great honor of the Watcher. He had trained his Slayer, had forced her to be a weapon for the forces of good; now he had the privilege of carrying her from the field of war. It should make him proud that she had fulfilled her destiny; Giles felt like was going to be physically ill. She had been so much more than a weapon; she had been a smart, beautiful, compassionate woman and her life had been snuffed out to serve what? A greater purpose? All of mankind? A bunch of stuffy British men who should have been out fighting the war instead of writing papers about it? He looked over his shoulder at the procession behind him; his family had formed a makeshift funeral cortège for Buffy. Tara and Willow had formed up on either side of a sobbing Dawn; Xander was carrying a wounded Anya; the oddest member of their group, Spike, trailed behind, lost in thought and grief. Leave it to Buffy to elicit compassion from a vampire. Giles hadn't been sure where he was going. Every other time he'd had to carry Buffy after a battle, they had gone to the emergency room, where he had held her hand, worry in his heart, and she had joked with him until he'd smiled. Not this time.

There would be no more jokes. And that thought brought a silent sob to his throat. There would be no more jokes, no more laughter, no more comments about his fashion sense or his taste in food. All the little things that made his life what it was, all the things that had made him belong to no one but her, were forever gone. And he was left to go on in an empty world, doing the best that he could to guide his broken family through this; he was left to get through this without Buffy.

Habit won out and Giles led his family to the hospital. He knew they couldn't fix Buffy this time, but he had to take her somewhere. Besides, other members of their group could be helped by doctors.

From the minute he walked through the doors, holding his precious Slayer to him, everything became a blur. He would later be able to recall impressions, small snippets, single moments, but the night as a whole was lost to his grief. Someone had taken her from him. He had hazy recollections of arguing, of fighting to keep her with him, but in the end, he'd been alone. Tara had been injured and Willow had stayed with her, leaving a dazed Giles to comfort Dawn. That had been one of the most painful moments of his life. How do you tell a child that her sister was just fulfilling her destiny; yes, she is gone, but it was for the greater good? The better question is how do you tell her that when you don't believe it yourself? Buffy had been a Slayer, she had been born to die; yet somehow as the years went by, as they always seemed to flout the dusty prophecies, Giles had come to believe that the things that made Buffy different, made her special, would save her from the fate of all the Slayers that came before. And now, here he was sitting in an ER waiting room, cradling a crying fourteen year old and filling out paperwork because he was, "the deceased's next of kin." He had only been able to take so much of the papers that so proved that she had been ripped from his life; Xander filled out the rest.

Three days later, he stood in front of her grave. Three years ago, it had been his worst nightmare; now it was his complete undoing. He had been strong for his family, had held them when they cried, had comforted them when they needed it. He had handled the funeral arrangements, even picking out the dress she would be buried in. He had stood strong and he had stood alone. Now, as he stood in the graveyard, a lone mourner in the gathering darkness, he could not be strong any longer. He was away from the rest of the family, he no longer had to be the rock and so he let the wall that was around his heart down.

He hadn't realized how much one person could hurt; it was breath-stealing and brutal. He felt the tears running down his face before he even heard the sobs that were torn from his chest. He dropped to his knees, too empty and broken to stand and cried like a broken-hearted child; great soul-wrenching tears . He could not do this; he couldn't go on as if her death were but a moment in time. The Council could look at it as the normal course of events; one Slayer dies and another is chosen. But for Giles, there was nothing normal about this. She had been so alive, bright and full of promise and now she was gone and his world would be forever dark. How could he go back to his life before? He wasn't that man anymore; she had changed him, had made him more than he thought he could be. She'd always seen it in him; she'd called him a god, amazing, brilliant, funny. Yet of all the things she had called him, the thing he had been most honored by was Watcher. She had once said that he would always be her Watcher and in that she was right. She had so changed him, so marked him that he could never be anything else. He would always belong to her and she would always belong to him; she would always be a part of his life, for good or for bad.

Giles took a deep breath and collected himself. It was time to go back to Buffy's house, back to his home, back to his family. They needed him and he needed them. He would hurt, but there wasn't really any choice on that. She was always in his heart and that meant he had to take the pain that came with it. He wouldn't change that even if he could. He would gladly take the pain to know that for even a small time he had been allowed to be a part of her world, to know that he had meant something to her. He would get used to it; long ago he'd gotten used to having no control over things. That had all started years ago when a cheerful teenaged girl had walked into his library and forever changed his life.

"I wish You could stay

And I'll watch as the sun fills a sky that was dark
And I'll be remembering You
And I'll think of the way that You fill up my heart
And I'll be remembering You."

"The Chronicles of Narnia" soundtrack lyrics

Steven Curtis Chapman lyrics,
Remembering You lyrics

I found You in the most unlikely way
But really it was You who found me
And I found myself in the gifts that You gave
You gave me so much and I

I wish You could stay
but I'll, I'll wait for the day

Chorus
And I watch as the cold winter melts into spring
And I'll be remembering You
Oh and I'll smell the flowers and hear the birds sing
and I'll be remembering You, I'll be remembering You

From the first moment when I heard Your name
Something in my heart came alive
You showed me love and no words could explain
A love with the power to
Open the door
To a world I was made for

Chorus
And I watch as the cold winter melts into spring
And I'll be remembering You
Oh and I'll smell the flowers and hear the birds sing
and I'll be remembering You, I'll be remembering You

The dark night, the hard fight
The long climb up the hill knowing the cost
The brave death, the last breathe
The silence whispering all hope was lost
The thunder, the wonder
A power that brings the dead back to life

I wish You could stay
But I'll wait for the day
And though You've gone away
You come back and

Chorus
And I watch as the cold winter melts into spring
And I'll be remembering You
Oh and I'll smell the flowers and hear the birds sing
and I'll be remembering You, I'll be remembering You

And I'll watch as the sun fills a sky that was dark
And I'll be remembering You
And I'll think of the way that You fill up my heart
And I'll be remembering You

I'll be remembering You
I'll be remembering You
I'll be remembering You

I'll be remembering You