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Faded Roses

This was in my head one morning as I commuted to work.

A bit of a dream of some scenes that I wish I'd seen in S7 BtVS, which if you aren't familiar with this last season's events, these won't make any sense.

Since, I’d really rather have other things in my head, I wrote them down and am posting it, so that it can be in your heads instead. 

And the disclaimer. I don't own Giles. Look ma, no money made.

He stands in front of the burnt out shell of something that was intended to last forever. Fine dust everywhere. Burnt stones laid with care scattered by a careless hand. Metal reinforcements melted into horrifying modern art. 

He hadn’t thought there was anything left that could horrify him. Every fall the world works to prove him wrong.

He senses rather than hears Quentin Travers standing next to him. Heart took a jump because Quentin, who he’d known and cordially disliked for over twenty years, was dead. Had to be dead. Had been in the building when it blew. What little was left had been identified. Was dead.

He takes off his glasses and polishes them, he finds himself saying, “Quentin? They…uh…said that you were dead.” Trite, trite, trite.

“They were right. I am.” Quentin walks forward and touches a blackened brick. “At least it was fast. With the Council gone, now all that’s left to protect this sorry world is one black sheep and a girl.”

“Quentin, I know that you’ve never approved of Buffy, but she has saved this world time and again and this occasion will be no different.”

A weakened cross beam snaps in the background. Falls. Brings another load bearing wall with it in a cascade of dust and stone and history. Quentin smiles, “Really.” he says and with a flash, he is gone.

He walks back behind the police line and gets ready to find the girls who are left. The slender potential upon which the world rests. It is all that he can do.

There are rose petals strewn across the floor of his hotel room. He has had this dream before. The sound of ice melting away in a dewy champagne bucket. The plaintive wail of lost love over the speakers. And Jenny. Sleeping. Eyes only closed for a second on his bed.

Except this is not a dream. Is not real, is not real, is not real.

Jenny opens her eyes. “Of course it isn’t real Rupert. I’m dead.” She stretches, arms straight out, a spine cracking crucifixion that emphasizes her chest. She gets off the bed, “I’m restless. Dead and restless.” She moves almost close enough to touch. He should feel her breath on his cheek. She isn’t breathing. “How could I rest while my killer is still walking around?” Moves out of his range of vision and is gone. He can hear his mother telling him to ignore the bullies and they will go away.

Jenny goes away.

Angelus, kohl and eyeliner and leather pants, coming into view on his other side. “Buffy never could kill me.” Angelus picks up a handful of rose petals and tosses them into the air, “No matter who I torture, she loves me. She loves me some more.” Angelus sits down on the bed and bats eyeliner rimmed eyes. “After all, I have a soul now. Makes me safe as a kitten.” 

Melts into that boy, Ben, bleeding and wide eyed, “And as we know, people with souls can’t even scratch.”

Melts into a flash of light and it is all gone. Except for a faint scent of dusky dead roses.

He gets ready for bed, so he can lie awake and remember. It is all that he can do.

It is hot. Well, the windows have all been boarded up. The room is full of Potentials radiating heat and smell and sleepy sighs. Safe. Safe behind summery walls. 

In May, everything falls apart. In the summer, they put things back together again. It is winter and hot and the room is strewn with dry dead rose petals.

Not so safe.

“They’re all mulch. Rotting and full of decay.” Snyder is standing next to him. Smirking at the room. “I’m going to enjoy watching them die. Moments like that should be savored.” 

He ignores Snyder. Walks between the sleeping girls to the door. It is cold outside. The bite in the air is welcome. Walks past Quentin standing on the porch, “You cannot save them. You failed as a Watcher. Failed to teach that Summers girl enough to keep her from getting killed. You will fail to save any of them.”

The taxi drives up in the early morning light. He gets into it. It is all that he can do.

Sunnydale to SFO (LAX is unwise these dark days) to Narita to Delhi. Thirty-nine hours of traveling by sitting still. Trapped strapped into his seat. At least as the last Watcher sitting, he has plenty of money. First class whisky that should put him to sleep. That makes him wired and drunk instead. If only he could sleep. 

There is a rose petal suspended in his drink. He tries to fish it out, but his fingers just pass through. Knows it is a mistake, ignore it, it wants a response, says, “You really should vary your routine.”

“Oh, I don’t know Rupert.” Jenny’s face is rotting, barely recognizable except for her dark, deep eyes. “This one is working so well.” She smiles softly with shriveled lips, “I know you did your best to avenge me. Of course, you failed. Like you always fail. Like you failed to keep Buffy alive.”

Morphs into Kendra, whole and clean except for the stream of blood running from her neck, “Ya couldn’t even keep me alive. But ya hardly knew me. Like ya hardly know these girls. So, it won’t be that bad.”

Morphs into Buffy, “Not like when I died.”

Tries not to say anything, but whiskey will talk, “You are not her,” he says.

“Funny, I look like me. Then again, I’ve died twice.” He watches the years melt away, add baby fat and round happy youth that care has planed away, “You didn’t save me the first time either.”

“But you were saved.” 

“Yeah, saved to die again. Saved to have my lover kill Ms. Calendar. Snap her neck. Saved to end up clawing out of my own grave. I was sixteen and I didn’t want to die and you didn’t save me.”

Morphs into a girl that he only knows from pictures, knows that his motionless travel is pointless. “Like I was sixteen, but you know that from your Watcher files. Know what I liked and what I dreamed. This is not a dream and I am just getting started.” This girl, this Potential, this dead child reaches into his drink. Plucks out the petal. It shrivels in her hand. She blows the dust away. Compresses into a flash of light and is gone.

He stares at the empty seat, unseeing. Unblinking. Tired. Old. 

“Sir. Sir.” He glances up. It is the stewardess, “You’ll need to put your tray up. We’re getting ready to land.” He hands her his drink and dutiful puts up his tray. Latch plastic click. Must keep everything stowed and secure. Land, go through customs, knowing that the seconds are ticking away. Never get them back. Determine when the first flight to his next destination leaves. It is all that he can do.

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