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Disclaimer : All the characters, the Magic Box, etc.. belong to Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy and Fox. "Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again" is from Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera. Nothing is solely mine, except the story, hope you like angst.

Author : Josephine Naylor

Title : It’s Always Gotta Be Blood

Email : Jopotwill@aol.com

Rating : R

Summary : What if Buffy didn’t die in “The Gift” and Dawn wasn’t killed either? Someone else paid the price and gave the gift.

Warnings : Sounds like a character death.

The last few weeks had been very hard on Buffy, emotionally and psychologically. She not only had to cope with her mother’s unexpected death, but also Glory’s relentless pursuit of the key. Giles had tried to help whenever he could but the pressure was mounting and it was obvious that Buffy was scared. When Glory found out that Dawn was the key, Buffy became convinced that the only way to protect Dawn was to make a run for it. Although Giles had initially suggested doing more research and exploring other options, Buffy was adamant about leaving Sunnydale and, as usual, he had acquiesced. That endeavor had nearly cost him his life and Glory had snatched Dawn from them, pushing Buffy over the edge to a state of catatonia. Fortunately, Willow was able to help draw Buffy out of it, quite extraordinarily powerful for an amateur witch.

All things considered, Giles was very glad to have his slayer back but Buffy and he were not seeing eye to eye. It was exasperating. The nagging pain in his side made it harder to be patient with his slayer. They had all gathered at the Magic Box and he and Buffy were arguing whilst the others watched.

“I understand that,” he tried.

“No, you don’t understand, we are not talking about this.”

“Yes, we bloody well are!”

Giles suddenly jumped up from his seat and yelled at her. At the same time, he felt a paralyzing stabbing pain in his side forcing him to fold over and struggle for breath. The sudden movement also made him dizzy and he broke out in cold sweat as his vision blurred. Reaching for his side, he knew he was bleeding again. He tried to straighten up but started to sway and would have collapsed on the floor if not for someone supporting him from behind.

Her Watcher looked so pale and tired. More of his hair had turned grey and Buffy wondered when that had happened. From an angle, Buffy could see under his jacket that his side was bleeding again. Ever since Buffy had first known him a few years ago, she had wished repeatedly that Giles was also endowed with super slayer healing abilities and if he were, his wound would have already healed. His sudden outburst had annoyed her but as she watched him struggle to straighten up, her heart ached for him. Still, she couldn’t let any harm come to Dawn and she really didn’t want to listen to his lecture about the big picture and making sacrifices. Wasn’t it enough that she had killed Angel years ago? How much more did he expect her to sacrifice?

“If Glory begins the ritual, if we can’t stop her....(he paused for breath)...every living creature will suffer unbearable torment and death, including Dawn.” he added for emphasis. He had to make Buffy see that the portal must be closed at all cost, even if it means making a terrible sacrifice and losing someone she loved. Buffy, however, made it clear that she would sacrifice all of them and the world if necessary, to keep Dawn safe.

“I love you all, but...I’m sorry.”

And Buffy did love her friends. She had known Willow and Xander for more years than she did Dawn but the latter was more than some energy, more than a mere key. Dawn was her sister and sent to her for protection. Buffy was resolved to keep her safe.

With that, it was decided that the gang were all going to go into battle and try to prevent Glory from opening a portal into the demon dimension. Ideas were offered and Anya, Xander’s ex-demon girlfriend, had suggested using Olaf’s hammer and the dagon’s sphere as weapons against Glory. But ultimately, it was up to Buffy to fight with the crazy hell god and buy them time. The portal had to be opened at a particular time and place. If Buffy could keep Glory occupied until the time had passed, then the latter couldn’t open the portal and all’s well on earth.

A few minutes after the outburst, when Willow had replaced his dressing and reproached him for not being more mindful of his injury, Giles tiredly made his way into the training room in the back and tried to reconnect with his slayer.

“I imagine you must hate me right now. I love Dawn. But I have sworn to protect this sorry world and sometimes that means saying and doing what other people can’t, they shouldn’t have to.”

He tried to remind Buffy of his role as her Watcher and his sacred duty, hoping this would make her think about her own calling too and her role as the Slayer. But Buffy was only focused on protecting Dawn, at all cost.

“Buffy, I could never hurt Dawn...... if there was any other way...(Sighs). I needn’t remind you that the fate of the world often lies on the Slayer. Buffy, we have a sacred duty to fight evil and keep this world safe, and I have to fulfil that duty,... or die trying.”

Buffy noticed how Giles had switched from using “we” to “I” but she was afraid to ask him to elaborate. It seemed that her Watcher had his own agenda and whatever it was, when he turned to leave the room, he looked like he was carrying the weight of the world on his own shoulders. Were they still a team fighting side by side against a common enemy? Perhaps there was more than one battle to fight and more than one enemy to contend with. Has it really come to this?

“You try and hurt her, you know I’ll stop you.”

Hours later, as Buffy and Dawn stood watching the portal disappear, Buffy wished with all her heart that she HAD indeed stopped Giles, not from hurting Dawn but from leaping off the tower. Why was he so duty-bound? The price he had paid was way too high. It’s always gotta be blood, Spike had said. Then, as Buffy remembered Giles’ last words, “...or die trying.”, her legs suddenly became weak. This can’t be. It can’t happen. Giles is not gone. Doesn’t it have to be Dawn’s blood? It has to be the key, right? What did her Watcher do? How was Giles able to close the portal without killing Dawn? But these questions remained unanswered as Buffy helped her sister down from the tower and joined the rest of the gang. They were relieved to see Dawn alive although her dress was blood-soaked and she looked utterly miserable. Spike wore a smirk on his face and smiled at Dawn.

“Little Bit, you’re alive!”

Xander and Anya were grinning too. Only Willow clung to Tara and wept what the others thought were tears of joy. It was sometime during the battle with Glory’s minions that Giles had approached Willow to teleport him up to Dawn. When she hesitated and looked doubtfully at Tara, Giles had grabbed her hand desperately and pleaded with her, reminding her that Dawn was in grave danger and that he was in no condition and had no other way to reach her in time without their help. Willow had no idea what Giles intended to do up there but he had always been resourceful and she trusted him. Tara had encouraged and helped her to teleport Giles, and now he was gone. Both witches shivered when they realized how instrumental they were in sending Giles to his death.

To the others, good had apparently triumphed over evil; they had beaten Glory and closed the portal and saved the world, again. Everyone was glad until they heard Buffy’s voice.

“Dawn, what was going on up there? What was Giles up to? What did he do to you? How did he do it? For God’s sake, why did you let him? Answer me, Dawn!”

“Giles! Where is Giles? He was up there with you, Dawnie? But, I saw him down here when we were fighting Glory’s minions, he was bleeding so bad, there’s no way he could’ve made it up there. Dawnie?”

Xander turned to Dawn and then to Buffy, but no one answered. When he looked at Willow, she openly cried, letting her tears wash down her cheeks, obviously not tears of joy anymore. Clearly, she knew something he didn’t. Xander was speechless.

Slowly, Dawn lifted her tear-streaked face and looked from one friend to another. She saw the uncertainty in Xander’s eyes, the curiosity in Anya’s and the loss in Buffy’s. Even Spike seemed interested although it’s common knowledge that he and Giles were never best buddies. Dawn felt so bad. She knew that it ought to be Giles standing amongst them instead of her. Surely it must be easier to die than to have Giles do it in her place. Everyone would look at her and always be reminded of the price Giles had paid for her to be alive.

“Alright already! I’ll tell you all.” Dawn finally spoke.

About an hour before, she had been tied at the edge of the tower and the demon called Doc had made shallows slits across her abdomen. It was excruciatingly painful and she had been so terrified. She was only 14 years old and she didn’t want to die. She was a person with a soul and she had feelings so she couldn’t imagine herself being anything but human, much less a key. Although she knew in her mind that her sister wouldn’t let her down, Dawn was starting to panick. Her blood had dripped and opened a portal between the demon and human dimensions. It was most frightening. It felt like the end of the world as chaos reigned everywhere. Then Dawn heard herself scream for Buffy. Was this how it would end?

All of a sudden, Giles was there. Driven by pure hatred and rage, he charged at Doc, swung his sword savagely and decapitated the beast. It took Dawn a second before she realized what had happened. Giles had just saved her from a demon but he was badly hurt and his sweater was bloodier than her dress. Retrieving a pocket knife from his jeans, he started to cut her binds although his hands were shaking and his skin ashen. As soon as one of her hands was free, Dawn immediately took the knife from him and started to cut free her other hand whilst Giles stood by. He was not a pretty sight. Once she was totally free, Dawn threw herself at him and hugged him with all her strength. She had never been so glad to see him. Giles staggered a little but returned her hug, pressing flesh against flesh, her wounds against his. Although both their clothing were ripped and they were both bleeding, Dawn knew that Giles was hurt far worse than she as she felt his blood soak into the fabric of her dress. When he trembled, Dawn tried to pull away to see if she could do anything for him, but Giles pressed her even more firmly against him, as though the fate of the world depended on it. Then Giles held her face and smiled at her in his typical fatherly way. Dawn smiled back but when she in his eyes, she saw a tortured soul torn between love and agony, it was mesmerizing.

“Dawn, don’t ever blame yourself for this. There is ..... no other way.”

Giles winced in pain but continued.

“Tell Buffy.... I’ve figured it out. It’s always gotta be blood, but it doesn’t have to be you. Promise me, Dawn, be brave and live. It won’t be easy. But I believe you can do it.”

He suddenly shuddered and started to go limp but he recovered quickly and desperately, he clung to Dawn who, thankfully, had tighten her hold on him, probably worried he was going to pass out.

Dawn could feel Giles’ heartbeat weaken as they continued to hold each other. But he still wrapped her tightly as though he wanted her blood to mix with his and their blood to become one and the same. This must be how it feels like to be taken by a vampire, riveting but also scary. It was a heady experience but Dawn felt so safe and protected being enveloped in his arms. She wished it could last forever. He made all her fears fade away, leaving her a sense of calm. At that point, Dawn even felt brave enough to die for the world. Then, it hit her with a jolt and Dawn panicked.

“Giles, don’t! I know what you’re trying to do. But I am the key! Let me go, please!”

It was one thing to have Giles rescue her from the demon but quite another to have him go in her place. After all, SHE was the key, not him. But even in his weakened state, Giles was stronger than Dawn and he wouldn’t let her go.

“Shhhh..... Please let me...I failed Buffy once before when I let her face the Master. I will not fail you now. This is my gift to you all.”

In her own mind, Buffy replayed what she had witnessed. When she had finally gottent to the top platform after battling with Glory, she saw her sister struggling to free herself from Giles. Dawn was begging him to let her go but he didn’t loosen his hold on her. Buffy looked in disbelief. Was her Watcher so dead set on sacrificing Dawn to save the world? How could he!? Buffy couldn’t let it happen. She had to stop him. She had to protect Dawn, at all cost, even if it means hurting her Watcher.

Quickly, she sprinted toward them and tried to force them apart. But Giles had his arms wrapped round Dawn’s waist and didn’t budge. Buffy was afraid to hurt her sister if she used her slayer strength to pry them apart. Yet, she had to separate them. By sheer will, Giles continued to hold on to Dawn as tightly as he could whilst he squinted, having lost his glasses, and watched his slayer. Buffy glared at him and after a moment’s hesitation, jabbed at his side with just enough power to make him gasp in pain and loosen his hold on Dawn. In a heartbeat, his slayer had torn them apart and Giles felt himself flung against the metal scaffolding and collapsing into a bleeding heap on the floor.

“Giles, how could you??!!!”

His slayer stood a few feet away but he could hear the anguish in her voice which made him cringe. Buffy still believed he was going to sacrifice Dawn and it broke his heart to see her suffering because of that, which was not even true. There was so much he wanted to say to her but there was no time left and he didn’t think he even had the strength to talk. Would she ever forgive him? Would she miss him? Perhaps even grief for him? The Council would eventually send Buffy a new Watcher and in time, Giles would become a mere memory. All those years they had been together fighting against evil seemed pointless. All at once, he felt extremely tired. His glasses were gone and blood from a gash in his forehead was stinging his eyes so things were blurred. His body was hot and cold at the same time. He was bleeding and dying. Just then, the platform started to shake. Some creatures from the demon dimension were already terrorizing this dimension whilst the Slayer was busy examining Dawn’s injures.

“Live long, my dearest Buffy...”

With that, he painfully struggled to his feet and staggered towards the edge of the platform. He could see the gaping portal clearly before him. It was a terrifying yet dizzying sensation and for a moment, Giles watched in awe, swaying precipitously on the edge of the platform. Then he threw himself over.

“No! Giles!”

Dawn suddenly screamed.

Buffy turned at once and saw her Watcher disappear over the platform, leaving her and Dawn too stunned to react. Even her slayer speed and reflexes couldn’t have done anything to stop him. She stared in shock and disbelief. Giles? Buffy looked around frantically and there was no one else there but Dawn and herself. The only telltale sign that Giles was ever there was a pool of blood at the spot where her Watcher had lain bleeding only moments ago. Buffy walked up to it and stared. Then she stooped and picked up something.

“Buffy, what is it?”

“It’s.....nothing. It’s just blood. It’s always gotta be blood."

“Oh boy. G-Man, why you?”

Xander choked. Suddenly, it struck him that the man he had respected most and loved like a father was gone. Was Giles gone? Hadn’t it happened a few times before, like when Angelus had taken Giles to the mansion to torture him for the secret of awakening Acathla? But Xander had gotten him back. And another time when Gwendolyn Post had bludgeoned Giles and sent him half dead to the hospital. Giles had bounced back then too. Or more recently when he was pierced by a spear whilst they were trying to run away from Glory. Giles had bled so much that Xander thought the old guy would die. But he hadn’t died. So, maybe this time he didn’t die either. Xander shook his head,

“No, no, no can do, no. not happening.”

Anya quickly took his head in her hands and kissed him passionately; she didn’t want Xander to become completely hysterical. She, like everyone else, had grown to love Giles, the once aloof British librarian who later became her boss at the Magic Box. He was also a true friend. In all her years as a vengeance demon and a human, Anya couldn’t recall having encountered any man as brave, as devoted, as selfless and as kind as Giles. He had accepted her and helped her adjust to being a human and given her a niche in this world. She belonged, because of him. And now he was gone. And she didn’t understand why people must die, just as Mrs Summers recently did and now Giles too. The ex-demon wept.

Everybody wept, except Spike, who scoffed and turned away, after muttering “bloody hell," under his breath. They all felt like they had lost the battle and much more. The gang searched the vicinity and combed the area but they found no Giles. When the tower at last collapsed, so did their hopes of ever seeing him again. Was he doomed in the other dimension forever? Or maybe he was sent to heaven for all his good deeds, for fighting evil for years, for his complete devotion to the Slayer, or just for being Giles?

Buffy was inconsolable. Part of her was gone. She would never feel complete again. She only wanted one last chance to beg his forgiveness, one chance to thank him for everything he’s done for her, one more chance for one last hug, and just one chance to say good bye properly. She was a Slayer without a Watcher, even when the Council eventually sent her a replacement, Buffy was Watcherless without Giles. There had been no body, no funeral and no closure. They had all gone home and continued their with lives, always feeling his absence.

A year later, on the same day, at the same spot, the gang gathered in respectful silence as they listened to a lonely Slayer sing to her Watcher..:-

“You were once my one companion, you were all that mattered,

You were once a friend and father, then my world was shattered

Wishing you were somehow here again, Wishing you were somehow near

Sometimes it seemed, if I just dreamed, Somehow you would be here

Wishing I could hear your voice again, knowing that I never would

Dreaming of you won’t help me to do, All that you dreamed I could

Passing bells and sculpted angels, cold and monumental

Seem for you the wrong companions, you were warm and gentle

Too many years, fighting back tears, why can’t the past just die?

Wishing you were somehow here again, knowing we must say good bye

Try to forgive, teach me to live, give me the strength to try.

No more memories, no more silent tears

No more gazing across the wasted years

Help me say good bye.

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