Dust In The Wind

by GylzGirl

Disc: Joss is a deity. Praise him and offer him little nibbly bits in homage.
Rating: Oh, PG I'd say.
Type: POV
Spoilers: Grad 2
Author's Notes: Some of Giles' thoughts in Grad 2...and thereabouts. Thanks as always to Kazza and Meawan, for Beta and encouragement. Angel fans be warned, I was still having Angel issues when I wrote this.
Written: 1999

******



I can't believe this. I can't believe I am sitting here, playing nursemaid to you. Wasn't it just a year ago that the arrow that pierced you was mine? If I had known of this poison, wouldn't I have used it? Watched you painfully waste away, like I am watching now? I mop your brow and you look at me with fevered eyes. I see fear there. You are as uncomfortable at being placed in my hands as I am in your being placed there. You wonder if I won't take my revenge, for Jenny, for all the unspeakable things you did to me in this very place, as I too wonder.

No, that's right, not you, him. The demon, the scapegoat, the absolution for your crimes. This is part of the reason why I hate you. It used to be so simple. Angel was my friend. Someone I could talk history and foreign ports with. Someone to help impart the seriousness of a situation to Buffy when she wouldn't let me in. And then he came, Angelus. Again, it was simple. This monster caused the loss of my friend Angel, tormented Buffy, killed Jenny, and savaged me. Clear-cut. Black and white. Why did you have to come back?

You maneuvered yourself in between my Slayer and me once again. What choice did I have? It's been like swallowing bile every time I saw you. Oh every once in awhile I could slip into the ease of forgiveness, almost forget what you had done. And then I would look into your eyes and see that of all of us, you had not forgotten. That's where the confusion starts again. You know what he did. You remember it as well as all of us. Because, you were there.

Buffy separates the two of you so easily. In fact, you are inseparable. You are one and the same, yet you're not. Which are you now, the demon or the man? Which came back from hell? Or have you two finally coalesced as one?

So I've been watching you. As long as you didn't hurt Buffy, or the others, I could accept what I had to for the sake of peace. True, your decision to leave did hurt her, but I feel you have tried to lessen that pain as much as possible. And Buffy, for her part, has seemed to accept it as the inevitable we all saw it to be. She can live with knowing you are out there, somewhere, even if it isn't with her. She just can't handle your death.

So I stay here. I guard you in her name. I tend your wounds, try to tend to mine, and hope in the end we can both find some sort of peace.



******


In disbelief, I had to ask, "You fed off her?" To hear your confirmation. And I do. I'm looking at you, wondering why I never saw it before. It's so clear now. I should have let you die. All this wondering if you are demon or man. You're demon pretending to be man, trying to be man. In the end though, the demon always wins. His life comes before Buffy's; his needs come before Buffy's.

How dare you? How dare you have done this? Touched her, violated her, fed on blood pumped from a heart full of love for you. Bastard. Villain. Monster. If only we could spare you in this battle.



******


The battle is won. Our sanctuary destroyed, by our own hands but we felled our opponent. A smoky haze hangs in the air, artificial fog from the residue of the building that was so many things to all of us over the past three years. I look up as the cloud parts for a moment. I see a loaded gaze between my Slayer and her fallen Angel. And then he retreats. And I follow him.

"Angel wait."

He stops. "Giles. I was just leaving."

"I know."

"I wouldn't have thought you'd do anything to delay that." His feeble attempt at humor?

"Are you ever coming back?"

"I...I don't know. If I am needed. I guess, maybe. I hadn't planned on it."

"Good." No matter how many times I imagined it, I never came close to guessing how much joy and satisfaction I'd get from thrusting a stake through his heart. He is gaping, wide-eyed, slowly turning to dust. "Plans change. And don't worry, you won't be needed." A passing breeze finishes him off and soon the dust that is the last of his earthly remains has joined the unnatural haze.

I make my way back to Buffy who has just left the company of the others. She falls into step beside me. "Angel's gone Giles."

"Yes. I know. I um, saw the two of you, over there."

She loops her arm through mine. I place my hand comfortingly on her's. "Do you think he's ever coming back?"

I stop and look at her. "No. He's not coming back. But it's for the best. It's time for you to move on. You're going to be fine." She smiles fleetingly and leans her head against my arm as we walk away from the destruction. The dust-covered stake in my pocket is still warm from the kill.