- Twenty Four Years Ago –

"The decision of this Council is final."

The board of elder Council members in front of him was drawn out in a line behind a dark wood table, Travers in the middle. A crowd drawn in hushed murmurs behind him, the din of disapproving Watchers. A scream, a high pitched baby's cry or perhaps just the trick of a strained mind.

The disgraced man hung his head before the crowd and tried to console himself that he was doing the right thing. This is what they had decided, together, being mere children. He felt his heart straining in his chest and the weight of guilt for a condemned man pulling him down. He hadn't even the time to look in her direction, to see her one last time, before he was pulled away and out of the room.

Rupert Giles bolted upright in bed, panting, clutching his hand to his heart. His head swam with the images he'd just experienced again, the horror show of his mind's eye. Reliving the memory only caused him pain because he couldn't change the steps of the players in a fantasy that begged for a different ending.