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Disclaimer: This belongs to Joss Whedon and the usual gang of idi…uh, geniuses. Lyrics are from the Josie and the Pussycats and Labyrinth soundtracks
Feedback: Do your worst—it can't compare to my worst ;)


Buffy listened numbly as each of her friends poured their hearts out. They wanted to know where they went from here, where their lives were headed. They didn't understand that they had the choice. They all had the choice of living. She was the only one who didn't get that choice. Oh no, she was the Slayer, the Chosen One. That meant she had to be yanked back into this world and fight…whether she liked it or not.

The only one who could possibly understand what it was like to be forced to tread the earth when you weren't really alive was Spike. But, honest to God, she was sick of his neediness. During this entire mess with Sweet, he'd been all over the map. He ranted in the graveyard about leaving him in peace and then asked in a whiny voice whether they could hang out. Then he showed up at the Magic Box sneering at her friends as usual and saying they could go out to fight together; they didn't need her worthless friends. When she pointed out how he'd told her to stay away, he then told her she and Dawn could burn.

Then he'd shown up at The Bronze anyway…to do nothing except sing his widdle heart out and then stomp out in a tantrum. Geez, Spike, bipolar much? How the hell was she supposed to rely on him when he was so caught up in his own emotional stew? What a trauma drama queen.

Buffy snorted at the thought, something like amusement crossing her mind for the first time since she was resurrected. Spike was so not what she needed to get her through this. If there was anyone she could rely on not to hurt her worse than her friends had done, it was…Giles. But Giles was only here as her Watcher. He'd never expressed any deeper feelings for her, certainly nothing like Spike's twisted rants.

But that was the best thing about him. He was steady, loyal, giving, dependable and he cared about her. So why had he said those things to Willow? Didn't he want her back in the world? Didn't he want…her? God, it would be too much if Giles only saw her as a tool, as the Slayer, and had come back just to carry on with his role as Watcher. Her lip quivered and a sharp sting rose in her eyes as she thought that Giles might actually be that cold towards her.

Her eyes flitted over to him. As if her gaze had touched him physically, Giles broke off singing and met her eyes. Something in the air seemed to throb and Buffy's skin shivered at the intensity in his gaze.

Giles had noted Buffy's silent withdrawal to the side and felt it like a physical pain. So often it had seemed that she was emotionally absent since her latest return from death and now he knew why. Those fools, those children who called themselves her friends, had pulled her from her eternal rest and now his poor Buffy was paying the price. The absence he had noticed in her after he had come back from England came from her howling despair at being pulled from her just reward. Now she sat still as stone and just as lifeless.

But no. There was something else in the look she was giving him, emotion welling in those unhappy gray eyes. With the last vestiges of Sweet's magic drifting through the echoing space, her mouth parted and a haunting song fell from her trembling lips.

"This is the place where I sit
This is the part where I love you too much
This is as hard as it gets
Cause I'm getting tired of pretending I'm tough

I'm here if you want me
I'm yours, you can hold me
I'm empty and achin'
And tumblin' and breakin'

Cause you don't see me
And you don't need me
And you don't love me
The way I wish you would
The way I know you could

I dream a world where you understand
That I dream a million sleepless nights
Well I dream a fire when you're touching my hand
But it twists into smoke when I turn on the lights

I'm speechless and faded
It's too complicated
Is this how the book ends,
Nothing but good friends?

Cause you don't see me
And you don't need me
And you don't love me
The way I wish you would

The way I wish you would

This is the place in my heart
This is the place where I'm falling apart
Isn't this just where we met
And is this the last chance that I'll ever get

I wish I was lonely
Instead of just only
Crystal and see-through
And not enough to you

Cause you don't see me
And you don't need me
And you don't love me
The way I wish you would

Cause you don't see me
And you don't need me
And you don't love me
The way I wish you would
The way I know you could"



Giles stared at her, absolutely astonished. During her recital, she had gotten up and drifted over to where he stood. Now she was standing right in front of him, her face turned up to his and he clasped her shoulders, uncaring of her friends standing behind them. He answered her in the rich tenor cultivated by hours of singing in the Espresso Pump.

"There's such a sad love
Deep in your eyes, a kind of pale jewel
Open and closed within your eyes
I'll place the sky within your eyes

There's such a fooled heart
Beating so fast in search of new dreams
A love that will last within your heart
I'll place the moon within your heart

As the pain sweeps through
Makes no sense for you
Every thrill has gone
Wasn't too much fun at all
But I'll be there for you-oo-oo
As the world falls down

Falling
(As the world) Falling down
Falling in love

I'll paint you mornings of gold
I'll spin you Valentine evenings
Though we're strangers till now
We're choosing the path between the stars
I'll leave my love between the stars

Falling
(As the world) Falling down
Falling
As the world falls down
Falling
Falling
Falling
Falling in love
As the world falls down
(down) Falling
Falling
Falling
Falling in love
As the world falls down

Falling
Falling
Falling

Makes no sense at all
Makes no sense to fall
Falling
As the world falls down
Falling
Falling
Falling in love
As the world falls down
(down) Falling
Falling
Falling in love
Falling in love (love)
Falling in love
Falling in love
Falling in love"


Her eyes wide, Buffy thought she might never move or even breathe again. Finally she whispered, "Love? As in…love? Giles, you love me?"

Unable to deny what the magic had brought out of him, Giles wrapped his arms around her and whispered back, "Truly, madly, deeply. How can you doubt it?"

"I-I didn't know. You never said…"

"I'm saying it now." He bent his head and kissed her with all the force of his pent-up heart.

Watching them, Anya thought of all they'd been through today. She'd had no idea Xander was so ambivalent about being with her and it rankled. "Well, at least somebody gets a happy ending," she muttered.

"Oh, that's so sweet," Dawn said, a dreamy smile on her face.

Xander blinked hard. The entire day had been one oversensitive roller coaster and now seeing one of his best friends and his first serious crush kissing the guy he'd thought of as his surrogate father was just too much. "Sweet? You don't mean gross and 'eewwww'?"

Anya swatted him on the arm. "Oh, grow up, Xander. Not everybody's as emotionally stunted as you."

"Says the really needy woman," Xander retorted.

Willow was torn. Only now had she found out just what a truly awful thing she'd done to Buffy. But now her friend seemed to be turning to the one person who hadn't hurt her. Maybe bringing her back hadn't been such a bad thing after all. She felt a surge of triumph and then caught Tara's eye.

Willow was stunned to see the anger simmering on Tara's tight face. Was her lover furious with her because of what she'd done to Buffy? That didn't make sense; Tara had been casting the spell right along with her. She reached out towards the blonde wiccan only to have her shy away.

Tara turned from the confusion she saw in Willow. She'd discovered how Willow had altered her mind with that spell and an unaccustomed anger as well as fear was churning in her stomach. The other wiccan was becoming dangerous and something would have to be done. As soon as she could pry the Watcher from his Slayer, she was going to have a talk with Mr. Giles.

Finally, the two new lovebirds drew apart and Buffy gulped as she tried to breathe. "Wow, I guess that's a big yes." She wrapped her arms around Giles and hugged him tightly, drawing in the comforting mixed smell of English cologne and Earl Grey tea. Suddenly fear gripped her. "Are you're sure it's real and not just a freaky spell like the one that had Spike in love with me?"

"I'm very sure. I've loved you for years. I-I just didn't have the courage to tell you before. You were so young and then there were all those others…" He stopped speaking, not wanting to remind her of unhappy love affairs of the past.

Buffy didn't seem to mind. She graced him with a watery smile and hugged him again. "I guess I've loved you, too. It's just that lately I've been so Not-Buffy and didn't know what was going on up here." She tapped her skull for emphasis.

"That's not news," Dawn snapped.

Buffy glared at her. "You're welcome, Dawn."

"Huh? What should I be thanking you for?"

"For saving your ass…again. Or did you not notice me coming to the rescue?"

Dawn glared right back. "What I noticed was you trying to kill yourself again. You told me the hardest thing to do in this world is live in it. But you've been trying to get out ever since you got back."

"Gee, I wonder why that is?!" Buffy hissed.

Dawn recoiled as if she'd been slapped. "You want to die…because of me?"

Buffy shook her head and stumbled out of Giles's embrace, her arms wrapped around her in the defensive posture he knew so well. "Because of everything! Weren't you listening, Dawn? Didn't you hear the music? You know where I've been and how everything hurts since I've been back. The only thing that doesn't hurt is…" She stopped and her look to Giles was pleading and defiant all at once.

He sighed and enfolded her in his embrace again. "This is not the time or place to discuss this. We've all had a trying night and we need to get our bearings. We can discuss the night's—findings tomorrow." He looked over the little group, noting for the first time Willow's distance from Tara. His eyes narrowed while he tried to figure out what that might mean. Another problem to be sorted out, no doubt.

Buffy interrupted his thought by winding her arms around him again. "Good idea, Watcher mine. I'm all for going home and packing it in. Definitely not up for the patrolling, either."

As the little group dispersed, Dawn marched slightly behind Buffy, watching her and Giles walk off arm in arm. Occasionally they murmured to each other but in tones too low for her to hear. She smiled and then her smile faded as she thought about Buffy's last words to her.

Her sister hated it here and wanted to leave. But maybe, just maybe, she'd found a real reason to stay. And for the moment that was enough.

Finis
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