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Title: Consequences
Author: Kathy P
Setting: Post Season 6, after events in “The Grave”
Spoilers: Well, yeah…Up thru Season 6. Mentions Passions, The Gift.
Rating: PG13
Feedback? Love it! kapantaleo@aol.com
Disclaimers: Joss, Joss, Mutant Enemy, Upn. & so forth



CONSEQUENCES, CHAPTER 1




Buffy and Dawn Summers walked slowly back into the center of Sunnydale. Together they had clawed their way out of the hole in the earth that had swallowed them. It seemed to the two sisters as if the world somehow knew how close it had come to destruction, and now rejoiced with a celebration of light and color. Every tree, every flower, every blade of grass seemed to revel in the daylight and the life it provided. They were still dazed from their escape from the earth and the creatures that Willow, maddened with grief and high on the power of dark magic had released on them. As they approached the center of town, they saw fire trucks and police vehicles in front of the Magic Box, and fear returned as they remembered their last conversation with Anya before she had vanished. Giles had returned to them in their need, and fought a desperate, prolonged magical battle with whatever-it-was that had taken over Willow in her grief and rage.

He had lost.

Buffy recalled Anya teleporting to them, telling them what had happened, then saying she needed to get back to Giles, as he was “all alone.” “He’s ok, isn’t he?’ Buffy had asked. Anya had hesitated, then said “I don’t think he has much time left. I’m sorry,” and vanished. Now memory came flooding back, and as one the two sisters started to run.

They came up in front of the little store, and were stopped by the police. “Whoa there, ladies!” an officious, overweight cop said, holding up a hand to forestall them. “You need to stay back! There’s some kind of a gas leak in there. The whole place is wrecked. It’s not safe.”

Buffy craned her neck, trying to see beyond the open door to where firefighters were hosing down small fires inside the shop. “Was anyone in there?” she asked carefully.

“No.” the cop replied. “It was empty, thank God!”

Buffy took her gawking sister by the arm and led her away. “Buffy, do you think they got out?” Dawn asked. “They must have, some how.” the Slayer replied.

“The police officer didn’t say that they found a body. Buffy, maybe Giles is ok.”

“If he was hurt as badly as Anya said, he couldn’t have gotten far.” Buffy mused. “We’ve got to find them!” Buffy pulled her sister into a doorway. She took a deep breath, and closed her eyes.

“Buffy?” Dawn asked.

“Shhhh…Be quiet, Dawnie!” Buffy concentrated, blocking out the noise and activity around them. She felt herself growing calm, centered, and focused. She could feel her power now. The core of power that made her unique; made her the Slayer. She had learned over the years, that her power was more than just physical strength and agility. A Slayer had senses that could extend beyond herself. She could sense danger. She could sense evil. She could sense power. And she could almost always sense the presence of her Watcher. Buffy and Giles had been together, as Slayer and Watcher, for more than 6 years. There was a bond between them that defied definition. She reached deep inside her and touched the power of that bond now.

There! She could feel him! He was nearby! She focused more, and gasped as she felt his exhaustion and physical pain through their bond, along with the residual terror of the magical battle he had been through, and how close Willow’s pain and rage had brought them to disaster. She could also feel the concern for her and Dawns’ safety that had prompted him to force himself into action before he was really physically strong enough to move.

Buffy opened her eyes and gripped her sisters’ hand tightly. “He’s close! Come on!” The two sisters started to run again.

It didn’t take them long to find Giles and Anya. The vengeance demon had half lead, half carried the battered Watcher for two blocks before his strength had given out completely and he had simply collapsed in mid-stagger. She had eased him onto a bench, and now sat next to him with a worried frown, dabbing at the blood still trickling down his face from a gash in his forehead and berating him for refusing to let her call an ambulance.

Giles was huddled on the bench with his aching head cradled in shaking hands as Sunnydale spun around him and he tried to fight off the fuzzy blackness that insisted on encroaching on the edges of his vision.

Anya looked up as Buffy and Dawn ran up to them. “Buffy! Good! Maybe he’ll listen to you. He needs to go to the hospital. He’s all dizzy and wobbly and he can’t stop shaking and I told him that he needs a doctor but he says he’s not in the country legally and the hospital would report him but hospitals are where humans go to get fixed when they’re broken and I want to go check on Xander and Willow because he said Xander saved us but I can’t leave him because I’m not sure yet that he really won’t die and….”

“Anya, please?” Buffy said as she sank to her knees in front of her Watcher and Dawn slipped onto the bench next to him. He didn’t seem to be aware of them, and that worried her.

“Giles?” she called softly, gripping his forearms and feeling the trembling that was shaking his tall frame. He lifted his head slowly and blinked a few times to bring her into focus.

“BuffY?” he whispered, his voice weak and dripping with exhaustion. Buffy was shocked by his appearance. When he had arrived at the shop that evening, she had been in the midst of a knockdown, drag out fight with the thing that Willow had become. She had begun to fear that nothing short of killing her best friend was going to stop her. She had been lying stunned on the ground as Willow loomed over her, and she had wondered if this was it. ‘How ironic’, she had thought, ‘all she went through to bring me back from the dead, and now Willow is going to kill me.’ The thought had both frightened and saddened her.

Then a sizzling blast of magic had flattened Willow, and Giles had been there. He had appeared out of nowhere, with that intensely focused look on he face that said he was concentrating completely on the danger at hand, radiating power and looking physically strong and very, very dangerous. The magical battle that had ensued had exhausted him and demolished the shop. Her Watcher was now terribly pale, his cheeks sunken and his eyes glassy and dark circled. Blood was still running down his face from a cut on his forehead, and he was nearly out on his feet.

“Buffy! You’re alright.” he gasped out as his eyes filled with relief and he pulled her to him in a hug. “Oh, Thank God! Thank God! I feared I’d lost you!” Buffy hugged him back gently, mindful of his injuries. Dawn wrapped her arms around them both, and Anya sniffed loudly and wiped at her eyes.

When Giles released her, Buffy again slipped down to kneel in front of him. “Giles, we need to get you to the hospital.” she said. “Can you walk?’

“No hospital, Buffy.” he said, still holding tightly to her hand. “Passport’s not stamped…INS…”

“Are you sure, Giles? You look pretty beat up. You might even be concussed again.”

“Welcome back to bloody America!” he murmured with a snort. “Don’t fuss, Buffy. I just…need to rest a little. I’ll be fine.”

“Then Dawn and I are taking you home.” Buffy said firmly. Giles lifted his eyes to meet hers, read the determined look there, and gave a resigned nod. Anya and Buffy both let out a sigh of relief. The big Watcher could be terribly stubborn when he chose to be.

Anya stood with Buffy. “I’m going to go check on Xander.” she said firmly, then more softly, as she considered, “I think we need to talk.”

Giles raised his head again and caught her hand. “Thank you, Anya.”

The vengeance demon smiled down at him. “For what? Letting Willow out of that magic bond so that she could wreck our store and nearly kill you?”

“For caring enough to stay with me when I was hurt.” Giles said softly, remembering how the slender girl had thrown herself across him to protect him from falling debris

“I’m not sure I could have made it without you.” A slow, radiant smile lit Anya’s face, and the Watcher thought to himself, “Ah! More than a slip of humanity left in you too, my dear.” Anya slipped an arm around his neck in a gentle hug, sniffed loudly in his ear, then vanished.

Buffy left Giles with Dawn, and ran to get her Jeep. It took the two of them to get the battered Watcher on his feet and into the vehicle, but together they managed it. He was asleep as soon as the car started moving. When they reached the house, Buffy had a hard time getting Giles to wake up enough to get the big man on his feet, but with Dawns’ help, they got him upright, and virtually carried him upstairs to her room. Buffy found it odd that, once they got him moving, the short journey into the house and up the stairs was so easily accomplished. As long as he was even semi-mobile, his weight was not a problem for her Slayer strength. The very bulk of his 6ft frame was what made the task daunting. But with her sister helping her, Buffy had no problem getting the tall Watcher up the stairs and into her bedroom. The slender teen helped the Slayer slip Giles’ plaster dusted coat from his shoulders and ease him into a sitting position on the edge of the bed.

“Dawn,” Buffy said as she struggled to keep the semi-conscious man upright, “Go get the first aid kit. I want to clean that cut. And look in the garage in those boxes of Giles’ things that we never sent to him, and see if there are any clean clothes in there.”

Dawn nodded, but didn’t leave. “Buffy…What’s wrong with him?” she asked softly. The Slayer looked up at her sister. “He’s been hurt before…Lots of times! Worse than this, and he’s never been so…so…” At a loss for words, the teen just gestured at the man that Buffy was struggling to keep from toppling over on the bed.

The Slayer scowled. “I’m not sure, Dawnie. Don’t worry, though. Giles is tough. I really need that first aid kit, kiddo.” Dawn nodded and fled the room.

As soon as she was gone, the Slayer gripped her Watcher by the shoulders and shook him firmly.

“Giles! Wake up!”

He murmured something unintelligible, and she reached out and gripped his chin, forcing his head up. “Come on Giles. I really need to talk to you, and you’re scaring me!”

She could tell he was trying to focus on her, trying to respond. She kept talking to him. “Stay with me, Giles.”

He was holding himself upright, now, although his eyes were barely open.

“I want to get a look at you, Giles. I need to check for wounds, and I’m going to clean that cut. You’ve got to help me. You’re the expert in first aid, after all.”

She heard a fairly clear, “Bloody damn…,” and was encouraged. She stood and gently peeled off his baggy sweater and tee shirt together, and started to swear. Her Watcher was one big, 6ft British bruise! Shoulders, forearms and ribs were already darkening to an amazing shade of purple, and he was covered in small cuts and abrasions. Carefully she helped him to scoot back further on the bed, and eased him back onto the cushions.

As she straightened, she saw it.

Directly in the center of his chest was a burn in the shape of a small hand. “Oh-my-God! Giles? What the hell?”

“Willow,” he said softly, as his eyes blinked open for the first time since arriving at the house. Blue-gray eyes met the deep green ones.

“Giles, what did she do?”

“She took my energy, Buffy” he whispered. “All of it! The magic the coven had imbued me with, and my own magic as well. She even drew on my life force. The vital energy that keeps the body functioning. The energy of the very brain waves that tell the heart to beat, the lungs to draw breath. She took nearly all of it before she was sated. She drained me as surely, and as casually, as any vampire. I could feel my heart fluttering, Buffy. Feel it struggling to keep going. And I could feel her too. Reveling in the power. The power was all that mattered.” He reached for her hand, squeezing it to emphasize his words. Buffy could feel the fear in his voice, see it in his eyes. He hadn’t looked this beaten, this vulnerable, since the night that Jenny had died!

“In her hunger for vengeance, Buffy, she was ready to sacrifice everything. I was nothing to her. You were nothing to her. The whole bloody world was nothing to her!”

“But, it wasn’t Willow, right?” Dawn asked from the doorway. Buffy looked up and saw her sister standing there with the first aid kit in one hand, a large tumbler of orange juice in the other, and a few clean shirts draped over one arm. “I-I-it was whatever was inside her, right? It wasn’t Willow doing all that?” Buffy held out her hand for the first aid kit, and the tall teen gave it to her, carefully handed the orange juice to their battered friend, and slipped onto the bed next to him. Giles gratefully drank deeply of the cool beverage, flinching as Buffy gently started to clean the cut on his head.

“I don’t know, Dawn. I’m afraid that, at that point, I couldn’t tell where Willow ended and the thing she had become began. I’m only grateful that the magic she took from me, true, pure magic, was able to stir the humanity in her, and allow Xander to reach her.”

Buffy applied butterfly dressings to the deep cut, then sat back with satisfaction. “There.” she said. “A Giles-worthy job, if I do say so myself.”

She noticed that her Watcher was struggling to keep his eyes open. “Giles, what else can we do to help you? Do you want something to eat?”

Giles shook his head, regretting it instantly. “Nothing you can do. I just need to rest. Sleep will restore….” He trailed off, and the juice glass started to dip. Slayer speed saved the sheets from a soaking.

Buffy eased him down until he was curled on his side. She carefully cleaned the abrasions on his bruised back with antiseptic, noting that her Watcher didn’t even stir as the peroxide bubbled and hissed in the scrapes. It must have stung, but Giles was too deeply asleep to notice. Dawn carefully covered him with a blanket. Together, the two sisters settled in to keep watch over their injured friend.
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