Summary: Buffy mourns Giles.
Spoilers: Nada
Disclaimer: I don't own these characters. Joss owns them. (Joss could own me for about 20 bucks if he wanted, but I digress) ;)


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I put him in the ground.

Silence.

I never thought I'd say that. I always thought I'd be there, protecting his back like a good Slayer should. I blame myself.

Silence once more. No comment about my sulking, no cheerful smile to lift my spirits a fraction of an inch. Nothing but that damned silence. I wonder where I put the keys to his apartment.

Up the walk to the little Spanish-style ranch apartments. Far too Californian for him, I had always thought. The courtyard was just right though. It reminded me of England and I remember how we used to sit out here and he would throw punches at me. I would block, feigning interest, but I was more interested in sitting by the fountain. It was so inviting and I was so young.

The fountain isn't on today. It's stagnant and no longer pretty. Flies pock the water and I see some of them are still alive, kicking to keep from sinking below the surface. I know it's too late for them; their wings are already wet and they will never fly.

I tear my eyes away from that dead pool and climb up the crumbling beige steps. He must have walked here a million times, eroding each step with his loafers, like the Colorado carving the Grand Canyon. He was that strong.

I stop at the door. For a moment, the wood resembles a leering, mocking face and I want to pound it. But there's no reason to knock today; he's not here. He never will be again.

Dammit. No more tears, I can't see and I need my strength.

A quick fumble for the keys his skin left slick and oiled and I'm in. The leering door creaks open. My heart breaks for everything is his.

Smell assaults me and I want to sit right there and never move and wonder if he's in the kitchen or if he's upstairs. He isn't, and I have a job to do. I said I would do it and I wouldn't let anyone else come.

Silence.

One step follows another and I'm ensconced in all things Him. Its like he never left. Like he never tried to save me from that Tal'eka demon. Like he never spilled out over the ground in hot, slippery ropes. Like he didn't die with a scream on his lips.

This place is far too deceptive.

Another deep breath and he recedes. I have a job to do before tomorrow and there are things I have to get and things I have to save. I have to do it for him.

The living room first because that's easy. A look around and I see nothing much that's salvageable. A few cheap lamps that he used to read by, but they could go to the needy. The couch is good and I think Xander wants it. He can come back here later and grab it. Right now I need it here.

That couch is going to be my anchor.

The chairs and things are still good. Xander can deal with those too. The pictures on the walls are pretty, but nothing special. A glance over at the huge record collection tells me what I need to know. I'll start there.

The old vinyl is well worn and cared for. I know he listened to them when we weren't around. He must have thought we didn't appreciate it enough.

True. I didn't much care for the Baycity Rollers or Cream. But I know someone who did.

Willow won't know it and I won't tell her where he is, but Oz is going to get a care package. I won't attach a note to it, but he'll know who they're from and why. With Oz, things are always unspoken.

They're boxed far more quickly than I wanted them to. From the top of the pile, Jim Morrison stares at me, trying to seduce me. I slam the cardboard flaps shut and I'm alone again. Not to touch the earth.

The TV's a lost cause, so I ignore it and walk on. It's so un-Giles, I don't even want to look at it.

My knee glances off the coffee table and I look down. Books piled sky high, or at least it seems like it. The books belong to all of us, but I want them. Selfish, but the books are all him. The musty smells and the rich, spicy scent of his cologne, perfumed from all the times he had fallen asleep on them. I grab the nearest book and breathe it in, the leather crackling in my hands, sending little puffs of Giles towards me.

A smile, but that's all because I know the tears are on their way. Put down the book. Put it down.

Down before I command it. Instinct follows the heart and not the mind. My mind is mush right now.

A tear-stained sweep of the living room and I know there's nothing more to save. The kitchen calls.

I walk under the doorway and snatch the crystal hanging there. It slips around my neck before I know I'm doing it. The crystal is cold and the rope is rough, but it's his and I want it.

Into the kitchen. The tea set is Tara's. I already know this. The fine china is boxed before I can change my mind to keep it. Tara would want it, so I'll give it to her.

All the food is thrown away, although I do take a deep drink of his brandy. The mouth of the bottle tastes like him and I want to drink from it forever, but I can't. It wouldn't do for me to get drunk.

The bottle goes into the trash before I can change my mind. Dammit.

The dishes are boxed. I'm not sure what to do with all the plates and the silverware. I suppose I can give it to the needy, along with the stuff from the living room. Or maybe Xander wants that too. I don't know. The brandy is kind of clouding my mind. Blink and swallow, blink and swallow.

It'll be alright. No it won't.

No I won't.

The bathroom next. I'm blushing, but that's okay. You keep no secrets from the ones you love. His cologne and razors and his toothbrush are all-over him. I want to smile at the way the towels are folded neatly on the racks, but I know those towels are waiting for him. They'll never be fuzzy and warm for him again and they'll never be folded with loving hands again.

I'm throwing them away.

Everything in the bathroom is going. I can't go here. This is too personal and I don't think I can take it. Too much Giles.

The Old Spice is about to be pitched, but I stuff it into the box I brought in here. Some things aren't personal enough. The hairbrush follows. Little gray hairs stick out from the round brush and I remember how he was in imminent danger of losing his hair.

Blink and swallow, blink and swallow.

I glance at the bathtub and remember how Spike had once been chained in it. A sick, nasty, morbid part of my mind suggested sending Spike the tub. That thought is quickly quelled. I'm thinking strange things.

It doesn't take long for Giles too leave the bathroom. So empty so quickly. Was he ever here?

The hallway has nothing in it and that's alright. How much strength do I have left? Maybe Willow and Dawn should have come with me.

There's only one more room left and I'm not sure I want to go there. My feet are walking before I can make them stop. Up the little flight of stairs and into the bedroom. The bed is made, all downy fluff and sensible colors. The bed will get pitched, the comforters and the pillows too. I snatch one from under the blankets and stuff it into a box. It smells like him so much. I think he drooled on it.

A small smile as I sniff it, then close the box. I'll keep that one. I know I'll probably sleep with it tonight.

So, the bed goes and the nightstands and the dressers. The bookshelf calls and I box all the books. Willow gets these.

Dawn gets that lamp because I know she liked it. She told me so once. I wonder, belatedly, what Anya would want. I'm having a duh moment. Anya gets the Magic Box, and that is wholly Giles if I ever saw it.

So now its time for his clothing and dear God, I don't want to go there. The closet door slides open and I want to hug the suits hung so primly on their hangers. Its like Giles withered away and all he left was tweed.

I always knew that tweed and cockroaches would survive a nuclear attack. Or a Tal'eka attack. Whichever, I numbly think.

My fingers trail over the suits and the sweaters and the slacks. This is him; more so than anything in the apartment. They smelled like him, like tea and books and Bovril and everything Giles. Dammit, why do I have cry now?

I recognize one of the tweed suits for the one he always wore way back in the day. Back when I had just moved here. That suit always made me smile and I sometimes wondered why Giles didn't wear it anymore. Of course, he wasn't a stuffy librarian anymore. But I did miss it.

I remember once, I was on patrol and he was watching me. I was bored and he fished into the pocket of his vest and brought out these fat little toffees. He threw me one and I had gobbled it up. It made me thirsty and it stuck to my teeth. Of course, those toffees shut me up for a while and that's the moment I knew Giles was a genius.

As I stare at those suits and sweaters, breathing Giles in and filling the spaces he had left behind, I realized I thought of him as my father. More so than my real father. Hank Summers cannot compare to Rupert Giles. I know this should sadden me and I should be angry with my father, but I can't. There's no anger in me left.

Now, its almost like I'm an orphan. Mom's dead. Giles's is dead. Does it ever end?

No. I know it doesn't. Life's about changing, nothing ever stays the same. But I know that's not true either.

That last image I have of Giles will always stay the same. Bloody, screaming and still. It wasn't fair. But then, I knew that.

I can barely see as I stuff the clothing into boxes. Tears are everywhere, staining his things with sorrow. Not fair! I want to scream and hit the walls. Not fucking fair!

I can hear him telling me it wasn't fair and that I shouldn't be crying. I ignore that voice and kick the closet door. My foot goes through it. Dammit. I hope Giles had a security deposit.

All the clothes are boxed. I'm keeping that one tweed suit and a sweater he used to wear all the time. It's all knobby and fuzzy. His dresser drawers are emptied quickly and I try not to linger on the underwear and the socks and all the little things. Buried under the socks is a picture of Miss Calendar. I'm keeping that too.

In fact, I'm keeping all the pictures. There's Giles and me. And Olivia. My mother. Xander and Willow back in the day. One of Anya…which surprises me. I never thought about it, but I guess Anya thinks of Giles as her father too. He was so much to so many.

Silence.

Its killing me. I walk out of his bedroom with my box of things. The others can come later and pick up their things. They can do that. I did this.

Down the stairs and into the living room. That couch is my anchor. My knees give and I'm crying, crying, crying. He's gone and I'm alone here, wrapped in him and dying. But I'm not dead and that's the problem.

I can't sit here forever. The gang will be here soon and they can't see me like this. I'm the Slayer and I have to be strong for them. It's too much work. I can't take it anymore.

"You son of a bitch! How could you die before me? A Slayer is supposed to go before a Watcher! You know that! How could you?"

I don't even know I'm screaming out loud. The sound echoes in the silence and comes right back to my ears. There's no shutting it out.

Silence again. He doesn't answer.

He never will.

A sigh. Composure. Blink and swallow, blink and swallow.

I wish I still had that brandy.

I wish I still had Giles to fill these spaces left inside me. Giles, father…Watcher….and friend. So many spaces left empty by my mistake.

I stand up, snatch my massive box and walk out. Let the gang take what they want. I need to be alone. I need Giles, but I can't have him. Another death, another space.

The door is almost closed when I remember those records I want to send to Oz. I march back inside and grab them. They should weigh more and I know this, but my Slayer strength wants me to believe they're feathers.

Back at the door and I know I'll never come back here. I'll never sit in the courtyard and wish I were a princess. I'll never look through books or make Thanksgiving dinner in the little kitchen. I'll never….so many things.

The leering door slams. It's just another empty space, like the ones in my heart. But oh God, do these spaces have the strength to kill you.