Willow walked in the direction she had seen Buffy go with Angel, only to run into her coming out.
“Oh... I was just going to get you. Cordelia needs to get home... How's Angel? Really?” she asked.
“He's hurting,” Buffy saw the way Willow's face fell. “Wills, don't worry, by tonight he'll be as good as new. He needs to rest, that's all... honest.”
“You're not saying that to make me feel better are you?”
Putting her hand on Willow's shoulders and looking directly at her, Buffy told her: “No... I'm not just saying it to make you feel better. If you want I can take you to him?”
“No... I don't... no, that's all right. I guess we'd better get going,” Willow replied.
“Yeah, let's get to my house, your parents...”
“MY PARENTS... I totally forgot... do they know? Are they worried? I should call them...”
“Oh... I'd better call... they get so worried...”
“Yes...” she replied.
“Your parents think you're at my house. You can call them from there,” Buffy told her.
“They think I'm with you?” she asked.
“Yeah... I told them you were sleeping over. I couldn't think of anything else to tell them, besides Giles...”
“Rupert?” Willow cringed. “Is Giles okay?” she asked. Willow wondered if Buffy caught... 'Of course she would have caught the slip,' she thought.
Arching an eyebrow, Buffy tried to hide the smile before answering as they began walking to the car.
“Um... yes, Giles' okay. But... um... he's in the hospital...”
Willow turned to look at her friend as soon as she heard hospital.
“I thought you said he's okay? He wouldn't be in the hospital if he's okay? What's wrong Buffy?” Willow's heart began pounding, she felt a tight band clamp across her chest, and it hurt to breathe.
Before Buffy could reply, Cordelia honked the horn.
“Any time this century,” she said.
“Come on, I'll tell you in the car,” Buffy said dragging Willow to the car. “Cordelia, could you drop us off at my house... please?” Buffy asked.
Turning to Xander who sat next to her in the front seat, Cordelia said, “Xander?”
“Yeah hon,” he replied, looking at her.
“You owe me,” Cordelia said as she started the car and drove to Buffy's house.
Buffy spent the time it took to get to her house to explain to Willow what had happened to Giles in the library.
Willow cried silently, Buffy hugged her, then turned to look out the window, giving Willow the privacy she needed.
Giles had been returned to his room following his MRI procedure. It didn't hurt, thank goodness, although they had given him earplugs to help with the awful noise the machinery made.
He had been poked and prodded almost as soon as they moved him onto his bed from the gurney they had used to transport him to and from the MRI department.
An orthopedic surgeon that had been assigned to him, dropped by and basically told him the same thing that Dr. King had told him in the emergency department.
“You'll be in the cast for about six-weeks. I want you to make an appointment with my office... etc., etc., etc.” Giles had tuned him out.
After the doctor had left Giles, he stopped off at the nurse's station to write a prescription for mild pain medication as well as discharge orders. Giles could leave whenever he wanted.
'I'll bring her by bright and early,' Buffy had told him.
Here it was... going on 10 am, and still no Buffy... no Willow.
“Will... come on. I promised Giles I'd bring you by to see him,” Buffy told Willow after she had taken her shower.
“I'm a little worn out Buffy,” she replied covering a yawn. “I'm not like you... I don't have Slayer stamina... gimme a minute... please?” she replied.
“I'm sorry Will. Um... how did the call to your parents go?” she asked while dressing.
Willow was hard pressed to stay focused on Buffy's words, who knew that she'd find Buffy's bed so...
“Will? You're parents?” she repeated.
“Oh... okay. My mom was a little miffed that I... didn't call her... back,” Willow answered, the pauses becoming more pronounced.
“Call her back?” Buffy asked.
Willow nodded her head, “Um... I... was supposed to call...af-after I came out... out of the bathroom,” she replied, her eyes slowly beginning to close.
Buffy turned to look at Willow, when she saw her friends’ eyes droop. Each time they would remain closed a second or two longer than the last time.
“OH... NO... COME ON WILL... don't you fall asleep on me!” she said as she went to rouse her friend.
Willow's head popped up, “Wha...? I'm... not... sleep... in'... honest,” she replied, as her head slowly sank back onto her folded arms.
Buffy watched as Willow gave up the valiant fight to remain awake, a wistful smile appeared on Buffy's face, she was amazed. Apparently, no matter what Willow had seen... or had gone through since she had met Buffy, she was still able to retain the aura of innocence about her while she slept.
“How do you do it Will?” she whispered, as she covered Willow with a blanket. “Oh well, I guess I'll call Giles and let him know you're safe. Get some sleep Will,” she said.
“Love you mom,” Willow uttered.
Buffy smiled as she left her room and went downstairs to use the phone in the kitchen.
“Well... now that we know who's who...”
“Buffy... is she safe?” Giles asked cutting her off.
“Yes... Giles, Willow's safe,” she replied. She could hear him sigh.
“Thank you Buffy... I can't begin to tell you...”
“Yeah... that's okay,” she told him.
“Can I speak to her?” he asked.
“Well, that's why I'm calling... she fell asleep,” she said.
“Oh... of... of course, she... you all must be exhausted after... Buffy?”
“Yeah Giles,” she replied.
“Um... did you happen to catch the news recently?”
“It seems that whoever kidnapped Willow... did this to me... they burned the warehouse down,” he told her.
“I... I saw it on the news earlier this morning... I ... I can't tell you how worried I was. I didn't know what had happened with you all...” he said.
“They're covering their tracks... WHO are they Giles?”
“I don't know Buffy... I don't know,” he answered.
“Buffy... they didn't hurt...?” he let the question drop. He knew that Buffy would have told him if something was wrong.
“No... she's okay. She does have a few cuts on her wrists, they're not too bad, we took care of them when we got home,” Buffy replied.
“They had her tied up, Wills cut herself getting out of her bindings,” she said.
“I see... well, um... thank you for calling Buffy. You've taken a load off my mind,” he told her.
“Sure, no problem. I think I'll let Willow sleep for a little while, then I'll bring her over...” she started saying.
“Buffy... I don't think... I'm not sure that's a wise idea,” he said.
“Wadda ya mean?” she asked.
“Umm... I... uh... I... don't... don't want her to see me this way,” he told her.
“Oh... so, when do you want me to bring her by?” Buffy asked, 'Something's going on,' she thought.
“I... I haven't decided yet,” he replied.
Buffy didn't like the way the conversation was going, surely his injuries weren't that bad... 'Granted... it took me a while to look at him, but come on...' she mused.
That couldn't be the reason why he didn't want to see Willow. There was something brewing, and it wasn't beer. She couldn't understand it. Here was the man that had broken down in front of her, professing his undying love for Willow.
Now, it seemed as if he were trying to distance himself from her.
“I'm sorry Giles... I got distracted. What did you say?”
“Um... only... um... let Willow sleep as long as she wants... a phone call will suffice,” he said.
“Are you sure? I mean... it's no trouble...”
“YES... yes, I'm quite sure. You'll have to excuse me Buffy, I believe they need to run some more tests,” he said.
“Oh... okay. Bye Giles,” she told him. No... she didn't like it at all.
It had killed him to tell Buffy not to come by with Willow.
He needed to see her with every fiber of his being. Needed to see with his own eyes that she was okay.
'You're taking the coward's way out,' he told himself.
He fought, agonized over the decision he had made before Buffy called.
His heart protested against it... lurching each time he thought about Willow.
His mind would tell him not to pay heed to the dictates of his heart that this would be the best thing for them both... over the long run.
“It's the now that hurts,” he said out-loud, as he gazed out his window. “She's better off without me,” he whispered.
He had made a phone call to the Watcher's Council. He had explained what had happened, the extent of his injuries. He had asked and was given approval for an immediate sabbatical.
Another Watcher would be there within 24 hours, he or she would take over his duties until he was fit to return. It was highly unusual, but, it was deemed an necessary action.
Now... all he had to do was to inform Buffy... then he would leave Sunnydale.
He felt like a cad.
A few hours later, he picked up the phone and dialed Buffy's number, praying Willow wouldn't answer instead.
“YOU'RE WHAT!!!?” Buffy shouted into the phone.
Giles cringed as he held the phone away from his ear before answering.
“I'm... uh... I'm... leaving,” he repeated.
“I heard you the first time. Are you sure you didn't injure something in that head of yours?” she asked.
“Have you told Willow?”
“No... um, I... um... I haven't told her yet. I thought I should let you know first,” he told her.
“Well thank you very much,” she replied. “When are you going to let her know?”
Giles cleared his throat, “Ah... I... um... I was planning to let her know before I left... of course. I wouldn't leave without telling her,” he told Buffy. 'Liar!' he thought. He knew that if his heart could talk, it would be calling him every name in the book and then some.
“Buffy... is that Giles?” He could hear Willow's voice in the background. He fought to remain in control over his two warring halves. The logical side, which argued and won, and the emotional side, which kept trying to get him to forget what the logical, practical side wanted him to do.
“Yes... its Giles,” Buffy said as she handed the phone to her friend.
“Buffy... no... I'm not...”
“Giles?” Willow said.
“Ah... hello Willow. It's... it's good to hear you again,” he told her. It was the truth, it felt good to hear her voice caressing his ear.
“Um... how are you?” she asked. What she wanted to do was tell him how much she'd missed and worried about him. But, Buffy was sitting a few feet away, so she had to settle for the more mundane question.
“I'm all right... are you okay?”
Laughing, she replied, “Everyone's asked... I'm okay, and no, they didn't hurt me. Are you going to be in the hospital long?” she asked.
“No... My MRI was negative. There really isn't a reason to keep me here much longer. I believe they'll let me go either tomorrow or Monday,” he replied.
“That's wonderful news Giles,” Willow said, overjoyed that he wouldn't have to stay in the hospital much longer.
“Yes... um... Willow?”
“Yes Giles?” she replied.
“I think... I'd rather that you didn't come over to see me,” he said.
“Why?” a concerned look appeared on her face. Buffy saw the look and wondered what was being said.
“I'm... I'm not sure how much Buffy has told you... about my injuries, but... I'd... don't want you to see me this way,” he told her.
“Oh... are you sure?” she asked.
“Yes... I'm quite sure,” he said.
“Okay Giles... I won't come by to see you,” she replied, feeling disappointed that she wasn't going to see him tonight.
“I'm sorry Giles, did you say something?”
“Is... is Buffy still there?” he asked.
Willow gazed at her friend who was sitting, staring intently in her direction.
“Yes,” she replied.
“May I speak with her for a moment?” he asked.
“Um... sure,” Willow beckoned Buffy over, placing her hand on the receiver. “He wants to talk to you,” she said as she handed the phone to her.
“Yeah... okay,” she replied. “I'll be in the living room,” she told Willow, giving her the phone.
Quickly looking to make sure Buffy had left before she answered, “Yes... Rupert.”
He smiled briefly when he heard her use his first name.
“I... I've missed you... terribly,” he began, automatically chastising himself. 'You're leaving her... don't forget that,' he told himself.
“I've missed you too,” she whispered.
“Willow... I'm... um... I'm going away,” he said. He didn't want to prolong the conversation any longer than he had to, he owed her that.
“What?” Willow wasn't sure she had heard him correctly.
“I... I said I'm going away,” he repeated.
“Oh... Will you be gone long?” she asked.
“I'm not sure,” he answered.
“I see.” She didn't. As soon as she had heard him saying that he was leaving, she felt an ache in her chest, as if someone had kicked her.
“Willow... um... are you all right?” he asked. 'Of course she's not all right, you fool,' he thought.
“Yes... I'm fine... um... you know Giles... I've got to go now. Um, I'll talk... I'll... I've got to go... bye,” she said as she hung up the phone. She couldn't bear to hear his voice at the moment, she needed time to think.
Giles looked at the offending device he held in his hand. He wanted to fling it across the room, to pull the cord out of the wall. As if that would recall the words he had said.
He wanted to take Willow in his arms and never let her go. To be the one to share her hopes and dreams...
Not to be the one to shatter them...
To take them away.
Sighing, he picked up the phone and made a few more calls...
By this time Tuesday, he would be back in England.
He would recuperate at the Watcher Compound. There he would re-think his situation with Buffy...
And with Willow.
Buffy watched as Willow walked out of the kitchen, a blank expression on her face.
'He must have told her,' she thought. “Willow? Are you okay?” she asked.
“Hmm?” Willow replied, having forgotten about Buffy.
“Is everything all right? You don't look too good,” Buffy said.
“No... I'm... I'm fine. I think I'll just go back upstairs... if you don't mind? I guess I'm still tired,” she said.
“Are you sure? I... I mean, if you wanna talk... I'm here,” Buffy offered.
“Thanks Buffy, I'm sure,” Willow replied.
Buffy wanted to help her friend in any way she could.
But until Willow decided to tell her about her feelings for Giles... she couldn't say anything without revealing that she knew.
When Willow finally reached Buffy's bedroom, she had to hold onto the doorframe to keep her self from collapsing to the floor.
In a matter of a few minutes, her world felt as if it had been ripped at the seams.
Taking a deep breath, she moved, albeit slowly, over to Buffy's bed.
“Why?” she said out-loud.
What could have occurred in less than 24 hours to warrant his departure?
Not only from her life... but from Buffy's as well.
“Oh no... Buffy's Watcherless... it's my fault,” she said. The sudden realization of what was happening hit, her legs giving out. She slipped off the edge of the bed and sank to the floor, tears spilling down her face.
Buffy hadn't heard what Willow had said, she had only seen Willow sink to the floor, crying. If it had been anyone but Giles, someone would have been in a whole lot of hurt.
'What did you say to her Giles?' she asked herself, as she stepped away. Not wanting to embarrass Willow, by walking in on her. 'Talk to me Will... please,' she pleaded silently.
Willow called home, and she asked her father to come by and pick her up from Buffy's house. Going into the bathroom, she stared at her reflection in the mirror. Her eyes and nose were both red, from crying so long. She splashed water on her face hoping to wash away her pain.
By the time her father arrived, Willow was downstairs with Buffy, sitting on the couch, neither of them saying anything. It was an awkward moment for both of them, each lost in thought.
The doorbell brought them back to reality, Buffy got off the couch and checked who it was before opening the door.
Looking back towards Willow, she said, “Will... it's your dad.”
“Um... okay,” she answered as she went to the door.
“Hi Mr. Rosenberg, it's nice to see you,” Buffy said when she opened the door.
“Hello Buffy, you're looking well,” he told her, although he noticed a bruise on her face. “I hope you two had a nice visit?” he asked.
“It was... different,” Buffy replied nodding her head.
“Hi Daddy,” Willow said, kissing her father on the cheek.
“Hello Willow,” he said, Buffy could see the warmth and affection Mr. Rosenberg had for Willow.
“I'll see you tomorrow Will,” Buffy said as she gave her friend a hug good-bye.
“Yeah... bye Buffy. Oh... thanks,” she replied, squeezing back.
“Any time,” Buffy whispered.
Buffy watched as Willow and her father walked back to the car, Willow's arm around her father's waist. 'Her protector,' Buffy thought.
“Willow... honey. Are you okay?” he asked after noticing her red and blotchy eyes.
“Oh... I'm fine daddy, I think I might be coming down with something that's all. Other than that... I'm fine,” she replied staring out the window.
“All right,” he responded. Next to his wife, Willow was the most important person in his life, and there was nothing he wouldn't do for either of them. So, he took her answer at face value, even though he had a nagging suspicion that there was something more to it.
Giles had decided to remain in the hospital until Monday. Buffy had come over to see him after patrolling Sunday night.
She had started to bring up the situation with Willow, when he stopped her.
“Buffy... I don't want to discuss this matter with you,” he told her in no uncertain terms.
Each time she would try to talk to him about it, he would silence her with a look that would stop her from asking.
They spoke instead, after Buffy finally gave up on Willow, about her temporary Watcher, Shae Foster. Miss Foster had come by the hospital earlier and had asked Giles questions regarding Buffy and her training regimen.
They had spoken for at least an hour, when Miss Foster excused herself and left, needing to begin to make plans on how incorporate her methods with those of Giles.
“Buffy... you must listen to her. I've heard nothing but good things about Miss Foster. I think she'll be a good Watcher for you...”
“Giles... you're my Watcher,” Buffy replied, pacing back and forth in his hospital room. “Besides... who's going to do research? All the materials are in the library,” she asked.
He smiled inwardly, as he raised his good hand. “It's all taken care of, she had teaching credentials. She'll be covering my post as the librarian 'til I return,” he said.
“So? You'll be coming back? she asked hopefully.
“Okay Giles... no pressure from me. So... when are you leaving?”
“Tuesday,” he replied.
“Yes,” he answered.
“You're really leaving... aren't you?” she said as she sank into the chair next to his bed.
“Yes... I'm really leaving. Did you doubt it?” he asked.
“Wow... well, um... I didn't want to believe it at first. I thought you were drugged up or something,” Buffy told him as it finally hit her. 'He's leaving.'
“Honestly Buffy... where do you come up with such things? Well, enough about that, I want you to try... and um... I do stress the word, try to listen to Miss Foster. She... um... she won't be used to our... methods, to say the least,” he said.
“Best girl behavior... I'll try, that's all I can say,” she replied.
“Um... have... have you seen...” he stopped himself before he could say anything else, “Never mind. I think you should head home. I'll call you when I've settled in,” he said.
“Giles... I could go... you know... see you off, if you'd like?” she asked.
“No... that's quite all right, I wouldn't want you to be late for school, but thank you for asking,” he replied.
“Well... then... have a good flight. I'll talk to you soon, bye Giles,” she said. 'I haven't given up yet Giles,' she thought.
“Good-bye Buffy,” he told her, then watched as she left the room.
There had to be something she could do to wake him up.
“God Giles... why are you being so difficult?” she said to herself, as she walked out of the hospital and headed home.
Willow looked over to her phone, and for the hundredth time that day, made no move to pick it up and call Giles.
She hadn't left her room, since coming home the day before, except to eat.
“She must be coming down with something,” Mrs. Rosenberg told her husband, when Willow had excused herself and went back to her room after dinner.
“Well... she thought she might be catching a cold yesterday when I picked her up from Buffy's house,” he replied, as he sipped his coffee. He hoped his wife would have better luck finding out what was bothering his little girl.
“I'll see how she is later,” she replied.
Willow closed her bedroom door and went to her computer, turning on her portable radio to keep her company. She logged into her journal.
Um... I'm not sure if I'm ready to write anything yet... I can't... It hurts... so much.
Willow could feel the sting in her eyes, as she blinked the tears away.
If this is how it feels...
When your heart is breaking... You can keep this “love” stuff.
She turned away from the computer screen, took a deep breath and continued.
I keep trying to figure out what happened... To make some sense... I don't know... WHY? Did I... Did I do something wrong? Was it something I didn't do? WHAT!?! TELL ME WHAT IS WAS... please. I... I... love him... I'm IN love with... Giles...
Willow wiped at the few tears that had escaped, taking a moment to compose her self before she resumed typing.
This is not Xander...
This isn't some crush... It can't be... It can't hurt this much... if it was... The funny thing is... I KNOW... He loves me... I know it. He's leaving... I don't want him to go... Doesn't he understand... Can't he feel my heart breaking?
“Oh... that's just great,” Willow muttered as the lyrics of the song that was playing in her room finally registered in her mind...
“How do I live without you...
I want to know...
How do I breathe without you...
If you ever go... How do I ever...
How do I...
How do I...
Oh... how do I live?”
Willow quickly turned the radio off, the lyrics burned into her memory. She resumed typing.
I guess I need time to think...
Maybe it wasn't meant to be this way...
Her heart lurched at the thought.
Who am I trying to kid...
I can't just follow him... Can I?
A knock on her bedroom door distracted her.
“Who is it?” she asked.
“It's me, can I come in?” her mother asked.
“In a minute,” she replied, as she saved the entry and turned off the computer monitor. “Come in.”
Opening the door to her daughter's bedroom, Mrs. Rosenberg watched as Willow stood up from the desk, and walked to her bed.
“Honey... are you okay? You seem awfully quiet?” she asked, as she sat next to her daughter.
“Oh... I'm fine Mom,” Willow replied.
“Your father said you thought you might be coming down with something. Is that true?”
“Sort of. I wasn't feeling well yesterday. I'm okay now... really,” Willow answered.
Mrs. Rosenberg placed her hand on her daughter's forehead, it was warm.
“Do you feel well enough to go to school tomorrow, you seem a little warm ?” she asked.
“100 percent,” Willow told her mother.
“All right, but, if you feel sick in the morning, I want you to stay home. Understood?”
“Well, then, I'll talk to you later, good night dear,” Mrs. Rosenberg said, kissing Willow on the cheek.
Willow decided to go to sleep early.
She didn't really know when Giles was leaving.
She couldn't make herself call him.
She thought she'd have plenty of time to work up the courage to face him before he left.
Willow dropped by the library the next morning, bright and early. She really didn't expect to see Giles there, but she was still drawn to the place where he had first told her how he felt.
“My back pack...” she said out-loud. “Where's my back pack?”
She had completely forgotten about it, she quickly looked around, it was nowhere to be found.
“I'll have to ask Buffy if she's seen it,” she said to herself.
Willow was about to leave the library, when Principal Snyder came in with a woman she had never seen before.
This woman was easily 5'7-5'8, she was tastefully dressed, and her hair was short, ash-blonde. She was listening intently to whatever Principal Snyder was saying.
“Ah... Miss Rosenberg,” Principal Snyder said, when he spotted Willow. “Miss Foster, this is Willow Rosenberg. One of our brightest students... it's too bad she hangs around with Buffy Summers, a junior delinquent, if I've ever seen one.”
“How do you do Willow?” the attractive woman said, as she held out her hand.
“Um... hello Miss Foster,” Willow replied, shaking her hand. She had noticed a gentle southern accent in her speech pattern.
“Miss Foster is taking over Mr. Giles position, until he returns,” Principal Snyder told her.
“Yes Willow, I'll be starting tomorrow,” Miss Foster explained, noticing how the teenager's expression seemed to pale.
“Well... enough chit-chat. Let me show you to the faculty lounge. Shouldn't you be heading to your class Miss Rosenberg?” he asked.
“Right... class, I'm on my way. It was nice meeting you Miss Foster,” Willow said as she retreated from the library.
“Strange girl,” Snyder uttered under his breath. “After you,” he told the substitute.
“Thank you Principal Snyder.”
Willow went through the rest of the day in a fog. She had to find Buffy.
Maybe she would know something about Giles.
Giles had spent Monday packing his bags. It had taken him most of the day, doing everything one handed. He could only hold small objects in his left hand, without any pain.
He wouldn't make the same mistake he had done earlier in the morning.
He had tried to hold one of his lighter books... bad idea.
The pain was instantaneous, he dropped the book immediately.
He ended up taking one of the painkillers the orthopedic doctor had prescribed for him.
After packing, he had decided to check his plane reservations. Everything was in order, his flight would be leaving Sunnydale to Los Angeles at six o'clock tomorrow morning. He would have to be at the airport by no later than 5:15am.
Giles sat alone in his apartment, eating dinner, cursing his clumsiness, as he cut his food, or rather made a valiant attempt to do so.
Placing his dishes in the sink, he walked into his living room and went to his desk. Pulling out a sheet of writing paper he sat down...
He was supposed to be writing a letter to Willow, instead, he brushed off the paper now and then as if to wipe away some object that had landed on the paper. He picked-up his pen, his right hand poised over the paper, the pen waiting to fulfill its destiny.
“Well... get started on it all ready,” he said to himself. “It can't be that hard... can it?”
Pushing himself from the desk, he walked over to his stereo. Looking through his LP's, he decided that there wasn't anything in his collection that he wanted to listen to.
Turning on the receiver instead, he increased the volume. Some radio commercial was playing, and rather than trying to locate a station playing something he'd listen to, he left it where it was.
Walking back to the desk, he sat down, and picked-up his pen once more.
'Okay,' he thought.
“Dear Willow,” he said out-loud, as the Mont Blanc pen moved across the page effortlessly. “No... can't have that,” he said, balling up the letter.
Taking out another sheet, he started again. He barely registered the fact that the radio station was playing a ballad.
“Willow,” he wrote.
“By the time you get this, I'll most likely be on my way to New York. From there I'll be catching a connecting flight to England.”
“That's a good start,” he told himself.
“I hope you'll forgive me, that I didn't have the... that I didn't speak with you, prior to leaving. I thought it was be best... better this way.
There are things I need to think about, besides recuperating from my injuries, and I believe that being at home will help me resolve some issues. Buffy needs someone to help her while I'm away. I know, you'll be there for her. I also know that you'll assist her new Watcher. Her name is Shae Foster, I'm counting on you to acclimate her to our working environment.”
“I don't know what I'd do...” he heard in the back of his mind.
“Do be careful... all of you. I would be very put out if anything were to happen to one of you.”
“I'd be lost if I lost you...,” Giles stopped writing, he turned in his chair, staring at the radio as the song continued.
“If you ever leave...
And tell me now...
How would I live without you...
I want to know...
How do I breathe without you...
If you ever go...
How do I ever...
How do I...
How do I...
Oh... how do I live...?”
Giles couldn't move...
He listened to the rest on the song, before he was physically able to get out of the chair and turn the stereo off.
The words cut him deeply.
How was he going to survive without her?
His memories went unhindered to their first kiss...
How incredibly sweet it was...
How he had had more dreams than he could shake a stick at, reliving the kiss they shared in her home.
In the kitchen.
The way her legs wrapped themselves around his waist...
How she had made him moan...
“STOP IT... STOP IT RIGHT NOW!!!” he shouted out-loud.
His insides churning at the immense loss he was feeling at that very moment.
Slowly, he went back to his desk, determined to finish the letter. He looked over what he had written so far. Trying to think of something else to write. Anything else, without pouring out all the pent up emotions he felt for her.
“I hope... I wish you well,
He ended the letter.
It was short, he might even venture to say, too short, but it was better this way.
After sealing the letter in an ivory colored envelope, and writing her name on the outside, he decided it was time to get some sleep. Miss Foster would be taking him to the airport early tomorrow. He was going to ask her to give the letter to Willow for him, along with the one he had written for Buffy earlier.
He had gone upstairs, carefully changing out of his clothes and into his pajama's deciding it was better to sleep in only the bottom portion. He didn't want to fight with the sling he had to wear.
Turning on his bathroom light, he moved his head from side to side. The swelling around his eye had started to go down. He would sport a nasty bruise for a few more weeks. Brushing his teeth, he turned off the light and went to bed.
He propped his arm on one of his pillows, to keep it stable while he slept.
The last thing he did before turning off the light, was to pull the drawer from the nightstand. He reached in and took out a small felt box. Holding it carefully, he popped the cover, he gently pulled the ring out, placing the box down.
It was his grandmother's ring.
It was 24 carat gold, with two rubies on either side of an emerald.
He watched in silent fascination, as the light danced within it's depths.
He had planned on...
'No... mustn't think about it,' he told himself.
Mustn't think how he had hoped to slip the ring on Willow's finger...
How he prayed to hear her say, “Yes.”
How he would take her into his arms, whispering reverent words, thanking her for making him the happiest man on the planet...
Raining kisses on her beautiful face...
Instead, he brought the ring to his lips and placed a gentle kiss upon it.
He put the ring back in its felt case, and closed the drawer.
And it was all his doing.
He finally fell asleep, dreaming of a certain individual who had claimed him as her own, long before she knew it.
Willow awoke with a jerk, her heart pounding, as she looked around her room trying to get her bearings.
“Rupert?” she whispered.
She had to see him.
She had to talk to him. She had so many things she wanted to tell him.
She glanced at the clock by her bed.
The numbers glowed red, it was 5 o'clock in the morning.
She wasn't sure why she had woken up this early. It wasn't as if she had set her alarm.
She leaned back into her pillows, pulling the blanket back up.
“I love you Rupert... no matter how far you go. I still love you,” she said out-loud. “I can't help it.”
“I can't help it,” he said out-loud.
Giles had been up for over an hour, going around his apartment, like a man possessed. He struggled to keep his mind solely on his impending trip and not on an certain angel, who was most likely never going to speak to him again.
“I can't help it... I love her so,” he whispered to himself.
Having a cup of tea in the living room, Giles waited for his ride.
Before he knew it, there was a knock on his door. Miss Foster was on his doorstep, looking around, a crucifix hanging around her neck.
“Hello and good morning, Mr. Giles. Are you ready to go? Is there anything I can help you with? she asked, with a smile on her face.
“Umm... yes... I'm quite ready to leave. I do have a few bags,” he gestured behind him to the three bags by his couch.
“Okay, why don't you head to the car? I'll get them for you...”
“Um... no, I can handle at least one of them, Miss Foster,” he said.
“All right,” she watched as Giles grabbed one of the bags. Placing the shoulder strap firmly on his uninjured side.
“Oh... before I forget. Could you... um... would you make sure that Buffy and Willow get these please?” he asked as he handed over two ivory colored envelopes.
“Of course I will,” she replied, taking them from Giles and placing them in her handbag. “I met Miss Rosenberg yesterday morning,” she told him.
“Yes, your Principal... Mr. Snyder?” she asked.
“Well, Principal Snyder was showing around the campus, when I met Miss Rosenberg in the library.”
“Ah... yes, Willow... has been invaluable to me... us. She's simply astounding to watch on the computer. She'll be a great asset to you, while I'm gone,” he told her, the pride he felt for her evident in his voice.
“I'll keep that in mind Mr. Giles,” Miss Foster replied. “I think we'd better get going. You don't want to miss your flight.” Taking the other bags with her.
“Yes... yes, you're quite right,” he replied, turning around, he looked at his apartment once more. He had paid the rent for the next three months, he had arranged for Buffy to water his plants, as well as bringing in his mail. He sighed, “I'm ready, let's go,” he said as he shut his door and headed for her car.
Willow had tried to go back to sleep, but it was being as elusive as Giles was.
She looked over to her phone.
It would be so easy, just reach out and call him.
She watched as her hand drifted over towards the phone, as if on its own accord.
How it hovered inches away from it.
'I can't... it's too early,' she thought.
Willow could not help feeling that there was something she needed to do.
Some deep intuition trying to force its way to the top.
Getting out of bed, she walked over to her window.
'Giles? Rupert? Can you hear me?' she thought to herself, as she watched the night give into its struggle to hold back the sun for one more moment. “Don't go,” she said out-loud.
“I'm sorry... did you say something?” Giles asked.
“Me? No, not a thing,” Miss Foster replied.
“Hmm... funny. I... I thought I heard you say my name?” he said.
“Wasn't me, sorry,” she replied.
“That's odd? I could swear... well, never mind. So, Miss Foster, how long have you been in the organization?” he asked as they drove to the airport.
“Oh... about 7 years now. I'm what you might call a late bloomer. I wasn't told of my duties, until then. My parents were dead set against it. It wasn't until my father passed, that I was given a letter he had written to me explaining everything,” she shrugged.
“Really? I never wanted to fulfill my destiny, but now, I wouldn't have it any other way,” he replied.
“Oh... before I completely forget, I've been training with Buffy for the test the Council's going to give her. But... do to circumstances beyond my control, we no longer have the training facility we had been using. I thought I should tell you, so you'll continue,” he said.
“Really? That's interesting,” Miss Foster said.
“How so?” he replied.
“Well, I was under the impression that the test had already been given,” she answered.
“No... I haven't received any word from the Council when the test was to take place,” Giles said.
“I'll look into it when I get back,” she told him.
“I'd be most grateful if you'd keep me informed,” Giles said.
“Rest assured Mr. Giles. I'm sure Buffy will do well,” she replied.
The rest of the trip was passed with questions about Buffy, and how she might react towards her new Watcher. Giles also told her about Xander and Cordelia, how they had helped not only Buffy, but also himself, at times of great need.
Shae was not surprised by the information he was giving her. She had read the extensive file the Watcher Council had kept on the Slayer, and, she smiled at this, “The Slayerettes”.
It was highly unusual for the Slayer to have outside help. But it worked.
The very fact that the Slayer still lived attested to that.
Willow had decided as she wasn't going to get any sleep, to use the time wisely.
She got ready for school.
She was going to make an all out effort to see Giles today.
She knew she would head to the library, to see how she could help the new librarian, Miss Foster.
'She seemed nice,' Willow thought.
Giles and Miss Foster had arrived at the small airport. After checking his bags, they sat and waited for him flight to be called.
“Flight 1013 departing for Los Angeles, is now boarding. Please have your tickets ready,” came a voice over the loud speaker.
“Well... that's my flight. Um... I... I wanted to... to thank you, Miss Foster...”
“Mr. Giles... you don't need to thank me. I'm glad we've had the opportunity to meet, I'm just sorry it was under these circumstances. One thing though,” Miss Foster said.
“As we are going to be touching base with each other, why don't we call each other by our first names. I can't see us saying... “Miss Foster” and “Mr. Giles” the entire time,” she said smiling.
“That would be agreeable,” he told her.
“Well, then... Rupert. I'll leave you now. Be sure to check for e-mail at the front office. I'm sure Miss Rosenberg can log me on to the internet from the computer in the library.”
“Yes... she can,” he said smiling. “Willow has been trying to persuade me into purchasing one of those infernal machines.”
“You should think about it Rupert. Well, have a safe journey,” she said holding out her hand.
“Thank you Shae. Don't let Buffy intimidate you... she's... she's quite good at what she does,” he said.
“Oh... I believe that. I better get going, I have a few things to tidy up before heading to the school for my first day,” she explained.
“Of course... thank you again,” he replied.
Giles waited until she left, before heading to the terminal.
He boarded the commuter plane, luckily for him, the flight wasn't full. The flight attendants moved him closer to the cabin door, due to his injury.
The flight wouldn't take long. He had an hour to kill once he arrived in Los Angeles, before he had to get his connecting flight to New York.
He watched as the terrain blurred as the plane gathered speed and took off. He, along with his fellow passengers were pushed back in their seats, until the plane leveled off.
As the plane banked into a turn, Giles looked out the window.
He could see various parts of Sunnydale below him.
'Ah... the high school. I wonder what Willow is up to? She's probably asleep,' he thought.