May I Exchange This Gift
written by Gileswench

Rating: FRT
Spoilers: Through The Gift.
Summary: The cost of Buffy's gift is too high for Giles.
Warnings: Warning: Darkfic. Ugliness, Issues of Suicide, Other Not-Nice Things.
Author's Notes: This one is the fault of Ragna and her Gloveslap #24 on You Got The Stones?, which reads as follows: "Since her (Kat's) fic is so funny, I want a round robin serious fic. Lot's of angst and anguish, character death... and you each have to hurt your favorite character. That means Da Wench would pound on Giles or Blaire would kill his precious Cordelia. And to prove I'm even more twisted, evil and really depressed, each part has to be written in first person from the POV of the character you're hurting or killing. The only character that cannot be harmed in any way is Tara. I like her too much, so I'll end the Round Robin with her part."
Dedication: To Ragna. Damn you for putting me and my fave Watcher-man through this.
Feedback Author: Gileswench
Author's Website: Wench's Tavern

She's gone.

Truly gone.

I would say I was, too, except that I've never been entirely certain I was here to begin with.

After all, what was I but an extension of her?

Now that she's gone, what point is there to me?

I still can't quite make myself believe that she's really gone; that I'll never be annoyed with her for barging into my flat without knocking. That I'll never brew another cup of tea for her to waste because she never actually drinks it.

That she'll never again look at me with wide eyes and assure me that she had no notion I wanted the last jelly donut.

It makes no sense that someone so bright, so alive could be dead, even though I am painfully aware of the fact that she is.

I watched her jump. I saw her fall. I carried her broken body from the field of battle.

For God's sake, I chose the bloody box they buried her in.

Yes, there was still a reason for me then. I had, one last time, to clear away the mess of her life.

And clear it away I did.

I hunted down that miserable excuse for a man who fathered her and made damn sure he took Dawn in. I suppose she would have wanted me to look after the girl, but I simply couldn't. She's the reason, and I couldn't look at the poor child without resenting her. I couldn't bear to treat her as my father treated me, so I sent her to the one person legally responsible for her.

I divided up her few possessions. She'd left notes about who should get what. Since there was no indication of how she wanted to deal with either the house or Dawn, I can only assume it had not been updated since Joyce's death.

At any rate, there were some photographs, books, and cd's for Willow and Xander. A few pieces of clothing and jewelry for Dawn. Small mementos for Anya, Tara. A letter and a book of poetry to be shipped to Angel.

There was even something for me.

Mr. Pointy, and Mr. Gordo.

Willow had to enlighten me as to what the latter might be.

It was fitting.

The weapon of two Slayers and a stuffed pig.

Really, it's more than a worn plush toy. It's the symbol of the childhood innocence and dreams so cruelly stolen from both of us.

Now he stares at me with beady eyes, resentful of the way I'm hogging (forgive the pun) the bottle of Glenfiddich before me. I hate the way he reminds me of how she would look at me if she were to come upon me in my current state.

And how I would burn with shame if she saw me like this.

Too emotionally involved with her, that's what I was from the first day we met.

I was warned not to get too attached. After all, a Slayer is a weapon; an instrument. She is meant to fight and die in short order, and then the next is Called.

I'd spent twenty bloody years distancing myself from all that was emotional, passionate, involved in my nature. Surely Eyghon ought to have been enough to teach me the danger of giving my emotions free reign!

I came to Sunnydale so repressed and so certain that I would meet a weapon of the war that I was in no way prepared for the girl I met.

Girl. Woman. Warrior. She was all three.

And then the others.

That's always how it's been. She came first, and the others followed behind. We trooped after her as her own private army. I was called by fate, but the others were truly called by her. As was I, after a time.

Strange to think that I have lived my entire life for her, despite the fact that I was fully adult long before she was born, or even thought of.

And yet, it is the simple truth.

I gave up my boyhood dreams for her. I trained in languages, fighting techniques, the interpretation of prophecy that I might devote my life to her cause; to her.

What use is any of it now?

None of it saved her, and I am left with nothing but an aching hole in my chest where my heart used to reside.

That and a stuffed pig.

Quentin warned me not to become too involved with the Slayer. In fact, those were more or less his last words to me as he saw me off to America.

The next time we saw one another, he fired me for failing to heed the warning.

A father's love.

Dammed stupid man.

As if that calculated phrase could encompass all we were to one another.

Yes, there were elements of that in our relationship, but that was hardly all there was. She was my daughter, my student, my friend, my comrade in arms, my enemy, my sister, my mother, and my lover I never took to bed in turns.

She was my purpose.

Yes, I loved her.

I shall until my last breath.

Not long now.

My breathing is already becoming labored.

The one advantage of having been grievously injured so many times is the number of outdated prescriptions sitting close at hand for the purpose. A few too many sleeping pills, a few too many drinks. Perhaps it's cowardly of me, but I really don't give a damn anymore.

That's rather the reason for all this.

Her spirit guide told her that death was her gift.

If I could, I'd exchange hers for mine.

Since I can't, I suppose I'll just be gone.

I wonder if I'll be with her.

I'll know soon.