She had left intent on going home but changed her mind. She was not ready to go home and decided watching Giles for the night was in order. She had called Willow who was on her way over to keep Buffy company in her Giles-sitting. She could always count on Willow to listen to her when she needed to sort things out.
"Hi Buffy. Did you get to Giles okay?"
"Yeah, Wil, he's fine. Well, not fine, but safe."
"Good. What's up?"
Buffy shrugged. Was Willow mad at her? Did she blame her for Miss Calendar's death, too? Buffy suspected Willow would not be the only one to place the blame on Buffy's shoulders. She had a job to do, a simple job really, kill one vampire. Yet, she had been unable to do it despite more than one chance to do it.
"So, Giles is okay?"
"No, Wil, he's not okay, but he's home. I think the big bottle of liquor he pulled out of his cupboard will make him think he's okay for tonight anyway."
"Can you blame him for wanting to get drunk, Buffy? I don't condone such behavior in anyone, but can you imagine having to spend the night in that house? Miss Calendar was not just killed there, he found her body in his bed." Willow visibly shivered, and it was not due to feeling cold. "And I thought finding my fish dead on my bed was a bum deal."
Buffy had thought of this, which was why she had decided against going home. She knew how she had felt when she realized Angel had been in her bedroom and, later, was targeting her mother. She and her mother had survived, Miss Calendar had not. By the look of things tonight, Giles wished he had gone with Miss Calendar.
"This is all my fault," Buffy said with a deep sigh.
"No," Willow protested but Buffy shook her head to stop her from saying anymore.
"I know what you all are thinking. If Cordelia was here, she would tell me exactly how much Miss Calendar's death was my fault. I had a chance to kill Angel after we defeated The Judge, but I couldn't do it."
"No one blames you for that, Buffy. It was so soon after everything happened."
"Right. You heard Xander earlier and you should have seen the look on Giles' face at the factory earlier. If you don't blame me now you will eventually. You're the only one who liked Angel so you're going to be the only one who will cut me some slack. I think the slack cutting is done with."
"So, what are you going to do about it?"
"What I should have done all along, Wil, I have to kill him."
"Can you do it?"
"Do I want to do it? No. But can I?" Buffy shrugged, staring at the brick patio at her feet. "I don't know for sure, Wil, but he hasn't given me much choice."
"No, he really hasn't."
"Then why isn't it an easy decision to make?"
"You loved him, Buffy. He was your first," Wil shrugged and placed a hand over Buffy's. Buffy knew the gesture was supposed to be comforting, but all it did was remind her of how different her life was from the lives her friends led. Willow had Oz but it was not the same, Oz was a good person who just happened to be a werewolf. There was no good in the demon wearing her boyfriend's face.
"That's no excuse, Wil. I let my personal feelings get in the way and Giles could have been killed."
"We all could have been killed, Buffy."
Buffy was silent for a moment after that. How could she explain what Giles meant to her without it sounding like her friends did not mean as much? Giles was more than her watcher, teacher and mentor, he had stepped in where her father had left off. Without Giles Buffy would have been allowed to walk away from her calling. She hated him for pushing her then, she loved him for it now.
"None of you would have gone off half cocked after Angel like Giles did."
"Giles loved Miss Calendar. He stayed away only because you wanted him to."
Buffy started to cry, the tears trickling slowly down her cheeks. "Make me feel even more guilty, Wil."
"I'm just saying, Buffy."
"She withheld information from us, Wil. Had she been honest with us this whole situation could have been avoided."
"Do you really believe that? Had she warned you, had she told you about the whole happiness thing would that have stopped you that night? How could she - or you - possibly know what it meant?"
Buffy started crying harder, her shoulders shaking. "I don't know. We were so caught up in the moment, the fact either of us could have died."
"It happened, Buffy. You can't change it, Miss Calendar couldn't have changed it and that's just the way it is. You have to stop thinking about whether it's your fault, or trying to put the blame somewhere and start thinking about how you're going to solve the problem."
"I'm trying, Wil, it's not easy."
"I know you want to feel sorry for yourself, we all want to do that sometimes, but it's not going to help."
"That's a little harsh, Willow."
"But it's true. You stayed here to look after Giles because you were worried about him yet you're sitting out here talking to me."
Buffy stood from the table, frustrated. Willow was right, this was not getting her anywhere. She knew what she had to do. Until tonight, Angel's torment had been half-hearted, an attempt to distract her and keep her off her game. Things changed when he killed someone she cared about. "I know what I have to do, Wil, just not tonight. For tonight I'm going to sit with Giles. Do you want to come in with me?"
"Sure." Willow stood and walked toward the front door with Buffy. "I'm sorry if I was too harsh."
"No need to be sorry, you didn't say anything I hadn't already thought of. And if I hadn't, I needed to hear it. You're a good friend, Wil."
"So are you."
"I think that's up for debate right now, but I'm glad you're on my side."
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com