Twelve Times Giles' Heart Plummeted and One When It Leapt
He had seen her fist coming. He was sure he'd deserved it, but he couldn't for the love of God just let her go and face him alone. Not when he knew that his undead strength was superior to hers and her experience too little to be confronted with anything this genuinely evil. Not when he knew he would be sending her to her death.
When she'd gone to fight for the test, alone, facing the worst enemy of her life so far, without her usual strength, it dawned on him how much she meant to him, how much he cared for her; more than a Watcher for his Slayer, more than a friend for a friend.
The thoughts of the whole town had pierced her soul and he hadn't been able to expect her to ever recover. Oh, if she had only heard more of what had raced through his mind. Or less, far less. Dear God, losing her would have driven him insane.
He had dropped it instantly. The rose on his door had promised him the utmost joy - and what he found sent him down into the deepest ravine he had ever thought to discover within his soul. He had so wished not to be discovered, then - until that very moment at the burning factory. He had changed his mind then.
She had been atop of him, ready to kill, ready to slay. What a way to exit that would have been: murdered by his own Slayer, and thus ruining the rest of her life by guilt. And yet - she had recognized something about the green in his eyes when he had already considered himself doomed.
He had never seen her like that: pale as a ghost, hands trembling, her whole body crying for warmth and mercy. Never had he thought the death of someone loved would have been able to shatter her that much; and yet, he had anticipated it. There was a reason why most Slayers had been separated from their families; but could such a measurement have prevented this? Could he have spared her the pain? He would never know.
He had killed for her. The key that was her little sister would have jumped for her. And yet, she had flung herself down. He would have died for her, had he known it would have been of any good to her cause; he would have ripped his own heart out with his bare hands, had he been sure it could have spared her. And died he indeed wished he had, hadn't he been obliged to stay for those who she had saved - a lot.
Suddenly, the scales had fallen from his eyes and he had discovered that she would never bloom in his presence, bloom despite his presence. The realization stifled him, sat on his chest, knotted his soul. But he knew it was right to leave. It had to be. Good God, it had to be. It had to be worth something.
Never will he be able to allow himself to imagine what even one more of the witch's dark spells could have done to her. He would continually force himself to awake with a start, and with a racing pulse, in order not to have his mind repeat that one moment, the moment when he had entered to see her be thrown against the shelf and fall like a stone.
She had told him she thought that he had taught her everything she needed to know. He wasn't needed anymore. He wasn't needed. Not needed.
Not one of his words had fallen on fertile ground. Clearly, he had been outnumbered. She had grown so strong, strong and stubborn. And they all followed her. Lord knows how they were going to defeat the priest, but they all sure rushed after her - and after the bad girl - like lemmings to fight him. He knew he wouldn't be able to stop any of them. Never would he have thought he'd be - knowingly - forced to let any of the girls head for the rocks, and yet, there he was, his hands tied, his words falling on too many deaf ears.
They had been driving, shouting frantically, reciting prayers, looking around them like antelopes in mortal fear, and feverishly looking for one possible way out. Everything came down around them, breaking into pieces and sinking into hell; but the only thing that he could feel before they could finally hear her jump onto the roof was his own heart breaking into minuscule fragments and tumbling into unmeasurable depths, certain of her death.
They hadn't been forced to search for a long time, a few weeks had sufficed to find a proper shelter for all the passengers. None of them had spoken much, or changed. Except for her. He could almost watch the weight of the world on her shoulders gradually dissolve into thin air, leaving behind a beautiful woman who had finally learned to live with herself. She seemed to glow in the midst of all the pain they had been given as a viaticum. Indescribable was the moment in which she thanked him, plainly, and with a kiss that promised the rest of his life to be completely contrary from how he had imagined it, spread a tiny ray of her light into the depth of his heart, a place where he hadn't hoped to see anything but darkness and grief ever again. And indescribable was the the amount of his love for her that he suddenly saw reflected at him in her eyes and which made his poor heart leap for the first time in ages.