Well, here we go. This is the post-Becoming Part 2 AU Giles-centric fic I promised. Perhaps the general idea has been done...maybe even a lot, but then again I haven't done much browising at all. I wouldn't know. So any similarity to anything else out there is purely coincidental.

Anyway, I hope you like the beginning, and please do let me know what you think so I know whether or not to continue. Thanks! :)

Still Here

"Sorry...I was in the moment."

Rupert blinked at the voice, and the dream was gone. It wasn't Jenny, crouched in front of him, but the vampire Drusilla.

And he realized what had happened.

God no...

Not Jenny. It had never been Jenny. He should have known that. He knew she was gone...but he was hurting, and so very, very tired, and...he hadn't thought. He had only felt. He'd wanted to believe it was her, and the trick played on his mind had made it easier to go along with.

And now Angelus knew how to awaken Acathla.

The vampire seemed to realize that his prisoner had snapped out of it, and Giles stared after him in horror as he smirked at the Watcher and sauntered away. "Thanks, Rupert. Couldn't have done it without you."

Spike rolled his eyes and then rolled his wheelchair, away from the scene. Drusilla hopped up as if to follow, but then she paused.

What now? What more can they do? Rupert wondered miserably.

He'd failed. He'd failed Buffy, the world...

What would Jenny think of him now?

Instead of leaving with the other two, Drusilla closed the curtains again, that separated the alcove they were in from the rest of the main room of the mansion. She turned back to look at him, smiling in her strange, not-quite-sane way. The vampire slipped back to his side; crouched beside him again.

"There there, now. I'm in no hurry. We wouldn't want the puppy to feel lonesome. The end of the world will wait for little old me."

She was close, in his ear. Giles wanted to pull away, but he didn't have the energy...didn't have the will beyond the vague sense that he should.

Everything was going to end, and it was his fault. He took a breath, and it caught in his throat.

"Spike says to keep you for now," Drusilla purred. "Says that perhaps you were still lying. I don't think the poor little man gave me a story. If I wanted a story I could make you tell one. There would be flowers...and birdies...and dollies. But I don't want a story..." She made a growling sound, and giggled. "I want one last dance before the big finale."

He stared at nothing, uninterested in whatever she considered fun. He thought he might even welcome pain. Part of him felt he deserved it now. He didn't know what she meant, and very nearly didn't care.

Until she bit him.

Rupert let out a pained gasp of surprise. He jerked, and felt her fingers twisted in his hair, holding his head to the side where she'd jerked it as she drank. He struggled, but soon it was no good even to try. It didn't work. What little strength he'd had left was leaving him with his blood.

So thanks to Angelus the relationship between Spike and Drusilla had deteriorated this much...that she would ignore him...go against his wishes..

Giles realized he was going to die.

Drusilla's lips pulled back from his throat just enough for her fangs to come up and then down again, reclaiming their grip in his flesh. Giles gave a weak shout, and that was all. His vision was clouding.

After another moment she released him, and his head dropped back on the back of the chair. He was looking at the ceiling as it faded above him.

I'm sorry...Buffy...

He didn't know what Drusilla was doing until he felt sharp pain, as she pulled his head up again by the hair. He didn't even have the strength to gasp anymore.

What was the point? What was she doing?

And then he saw—barely saw because he could hardly see—the pushed-up sleeve of her dress, and the thin slice she'd drawn across her wrist.

No...!

With her other hand still holding his head up, she pressed her wrist to his mouth. "Go on, dolly. You'll be all better soon, if the world is still dancing then. And Spike and Angel won't be angry; you'll still be able to tell us if you were lying. You'll be glad to tell us if you were lying," Drusilla giggled.

Giles tried to pull away. He tried to move, just enough...he tried to do anything, but there was nothing to do it with. No energy. Not enough blood.

So his body took what it needed.

He didn't think about it. He didn't decide to do it. But he was drinking, sucking greedily from the neat gash on her wrist. There was no way not to do it. After all, if all those turned into vampires had to agree first, their numbers would be smaller. There had to be some way to make certain they could create more of their own.

"That's a good dolly," the vampire cooed.

Finally Drusilla pulled away, and he heard her stand as his head fell back again. He was gasping now, small gasps—the desperate breaths of a dying man.

The ceiling was fading faster this time, and what of it Giles could still see blurred from tears.

No...no.

Nightmare. It was pure nightmare. Worst fears...They couldn't all happen at once, could they? It was a dream. A horrible dream...

Buffy. Willow. Xander. All of them...

Even if the world didn't end, what would a demon with his memories do to them?

Dimly, he heard the curtain open, but instead of Drusilla's soft footsteps leaving, there was the quiet squeak of a wheelchair. Funny how he could distinguish every small sound now, when he was dying.

"Dru! What did you do!"

"Don't worry, pet. He'll be back soon enough."

Somehow, Giles managed one last protest. "No—" he choked.

"Bloody hell; he's still alive..." Spike cursed.

"Not for long," Drusilla giggled. "A present, he is. If the dark won't come. He's a gift for the Slayer. We can still have our fun if the world goes on and on like a top."

Then everything was black, and Rupert knew there was no more time. He felt the tears on his cheeks that escaped his closed eyes, and his last breath was a sob.

Buffy...do the right thing. Dear god, please do the right thing...

And Rupert Giles died.


Buffy watched helplessly as the portal closed. Acathla sucked it back in, pulling Angel into hell with it even as her lover reached for her. Then in seconds Angel and the yellow-orange vortex were gone, the demon's mouth closed, and the stone figure sat, dormant again.

She stared for a long moment before she sobbed once, and her hands folded over her mouth and nose as she turned away. She would have dissolved into tears if it weren't for the voice that came from behind her then.

"Buffy..."

She twisted, and Xander was standing there, by a heavy black curtain. One look in eyes eyes told her he'd seen everything.

Buffy's hands slipped from her face, and balled into fists at her side. Whether she was feeling anger or sorrow or annoyance or...she couldn't tell. There was too much. She swallowed hard, and they just stared at each other until she could speak.

"Xander...What are you still doing in here? You were supposed to get Giles out and get gone," she said quietly.

His mouth opened, but nothing came out at first. His voice seemed to stick in his throat, and he grimaced and looked away for a moment. "I-I know, but..." He trailed off. He glanced at the curtain, that seemed to section off an alcove, and then he looked at her again.

This time she saw more in his eyes than the sympathy. Now she saw the grief.

"No..." she whispered.

Buffy hurried to him and brushed past, through the curtain and into the small dark 'room' on the other side.

Giles was tied to a chair

The first thing she saw was the blood, on his neck—the tell-tale bite marks left by a vampire. Then she saw that he wasn't moving, and he wasn't breathing...

"Giles!"

She went into automatic, rushing to his side and going for the ropes.

"Buffy..."

"Help me! We have to do something!"

They came away easily with her strength, and she straightened to pull him carefully from the chair and to the floor, to get him flat so she could use what little of the training from health class she remembered. But it would be enough. It had to be enough.

"Xander!" He hadn't moved. He needed to move. He needed to help her. They had to get Giles back. They had to wake him up. He had to breath. He had to be okay. She started to leaned over to breath into his mouth, when Xander spoke again.

"Buffy, it's too late," he choked.

"We don't know that!"

"Yes we do."

"Shut up and help me!" She felt the tears on her face—the only part of her that felt warm—but she ignored them and started again to lean down.

"Buffy!"

"Shut up!" she shot back desperately. He grabbed her arm, kept her from bending over, kept her from helping Giles, and she jerked away. She jerked away and she pushed him, and Xander flew into the wall because she hadn't been careful enough. He broke through a small table, hit the wall, and slumped against it.

"Xander!" She started to get up, to help him, but he groaned and sat up on his own. She'd been too distracted to use all of her strength. If she had it would have been worse, and she knew it. Somehow, that was what snapped her out of it. "Xander..." Buffy was still on her knees, and he crawled to her side.

"It's okay. I'm okay."

She swallowed, and her gaze went back to her Watcher, now on the floor in front of her. "Giles..."

Xander made a sound between a cough and a sob. "Buff...he was cold when I found him."

Buffy was silent at first. She looked at Giles, and she realized how pale he was. She realized the blood was dry. She realized this must have happened hours ago. Her fingers brushed his cheek, and it was cold. Hand shaking, she pulled back.

"No. No. Oh god..." she gasped.

Kendra. Giles.

Angel.

She could feel Xander's grip tight on her shoulder, and when she doubled over in tears that was the way she fell. He held her, and she could feel him shaking with his own silent sobs as she cried.


Xander felt helpless.

The world was safe. Buffy had seen to that, even after...

But now this. Giles was—

God, how could Giles be gone? Buffy was sobbing into his sweater, and that was surreal enough. But he knew he was crying too. He was looking at the man's body on the ground beside them, and he still couldn't believe it.

It just didn't seem real. It couldn't happen like this. Not after everything Giles had been through, fought for, he couldn't be—

Not like this.

And then he noticed something that forced him to embrace cruel reality.

"Buffy...?" He swallowed. "Buffy. Hey...Buffy." He tried to pull her off, gently, reluctantly, and after a moment she sat up and swiped at her eyes, still trembling.

"What...?

Xander took an unsteady breath. "The...the blood. There's more of it, a-around his mouth..." she looked, quickly, and he didn't take it as a good sign that her eyes widened in horror. "Oh god. You don't think...?"

Her face contorted into a pained expression, and she pressed the back of a hand to her mouth as if to hold off a a sob, but it never came. When she let her hand slowly drop, her face was emotionless.

"Buffy?" he asked worriedly.

"Go," she said shortly.

"What?"

"Find the closest phone, and get Oz here with his van. We have to—" She stopped. "Just go."

"What about you?"

She looked at Giles, and her face twisted in pain again, just for a second. "I'll stay here." She didn't have to voice the next sentence for him to hear it. Just in case.

"Okay..." he gulped. "Okay."

He started to get to his feet, but he hesitated. Then he went back to one knee and pulled Buffy into his arms for a moment. She let him, but she was stiff now. Xander didn't let that deter him. He held on for a long moment, trying to give what comfort he could, and then he kissed the side of her head and stood. There was nothing to say. What on earth could he say?

He, Buffy, Willow...Cordelia and Oz now too, he supposed...

They were on their own now.


When Xander left, Buffy slid forward and pulled Giles's head onto her knees. She wanted to cry more, but she couldn't. She couldn't do anything. She couldn't even stop her mind from wandering—from running rampant, from bringing up memories that only made the pain worse.

She remembered her once nightly rendezvous with Angel in the cemetery. She remembered training with Giles there. She remembered kissing Angel, and she remembered holding Giles while they knelt on the cold concrete outside a burning factory as he cried for the lost love Angelus had taken from him. She remembered standing with him at Jenny Calendar's grave, and wondered how she could survive burying him.

She remembered the sword fight, and Angel gasping and suddenly looking at her with the loving eyes she'd missed for months...

And before Xander returned, she knew what had to be done.