For the Greater Good

By TwinEnigma

Warnings: Crossover, character death, angst

Disclaimer: I do this for fun and not profit. I do not own characters from either series herein.

Rupert Giles had not honestly expected things to turn out thus. Death hadn't been a surprise – indeed, he'd lived so long as its bedfellow that he'd ceased to fear it and, in time, welcomed his own for the temporary respite that it was.

Ah, that was the stickler: temporary.

For watchers, it never just ended. Like the Slayers they were bound to protect, so too were they chained to the wheel of reincarnation. And, just as every time before in the countless rotations, he came kicking and screaming back into the world as the elder to wait for his charge. And he did not wait long: Buffy was soon to follow, crying out for him with all her might.

Some part of him knew who she was in that new form, even before what was Rupert Giles clawed its way through the fragile, still-developing psyche that was layered over it like the porcelain mask in his hands. He had loved her, as a mentor and a father, with all the ferocity of a wolf for one of its own, and he'd killed for her when she could not, to protect her and the others. And even as repugnant as murder was, he'd have done it the same every time, for her, for the greater good.

Mostly for her, though.

And now, he is going to do it again.

"For the greater good," he intones, raising the blade.

His eyes reflect back at him and, again, the dissonance between this face and the one he so keenly remembers from his pre-incarnation is jarring. It is young where he was old and foreign in its features, but their eyes are what betray the truth. What stares out at him now is an aggregate, an old warrior holding together the fragmented identity of his new shell with staples and string.

He is Rupert Giles and he is not: the demon attack and the following war saw to that, a trauma so thorough that his only option was to regress spiritually or lose himself forever to madness.

Not for the first time, he is grateful that she does not know him in this form and has shown no signs of being aware of her previous form. That much, at least, the powers have been gracious enough to spare her.

It is her reward, as short lived as it is soon to be. He should have known it would have a catch, but never did Giles suspect the catch would be his burden to bear.

Mea cupla, he thinks. "I'm sorry."

Pulling the porcelain mask down, he sheathes the sword and begins to make his way back home.

Buffy cannot know. She'll hate him. She'll even come after him for this, but he can live with that. He is her watcher, her once-father-figure, and now her big brother. Before, he killed to spare her from having the blood of humans on her hands. Tonight, he kills to stall the coming war. Tonight, he kills that she might live.

One day, he'll see her new form on the opposite side of the battlefield, glaring murderously at him with eyes like his own, and he'll be made to pay for what he is about to do.

One day.

"This is for the greater good," he whispers to himself and that which is Rupert Giles is sublimated by who he is now.

He lets the porcelain mask fall and shatter into a million pieces as the slaughter begins.

"Why?" she asks when the bloodshed has stopped, the large dark eyes of her new form wide with horror, and for the briefest moment he can see her transposed in every pore of the shaking little boy standing in the blood-soaked street.

But she isn't there, not really. She sleeps still, what was Buffy and what was Slayer buried deeply within that fragile little boy wearing the symbol of the red and white uchiwa, never to awaken in this life. It is her reward, this one life free of the Slayer yoke.

And he must be the one to destroy her happiness in this new form.

"To test my capacity," he lies.

Forgive me. There is so much you don't know, he thinks. But this is all for the best.

As he flees, he prays that in his next life that he will be spared the horror of ever being aware of what it was to be Itachi.

AN: Remembering a past life... not always fun and happy times with Cool Skills Upgrades. Sometimes quite horrifying, actually.

Giles... he's canonically a Papa Wolf who Does What He Had To Do and Itachi's all about I Did What I Had To Do.

Also the PTB are bastards.