Divine Intervention
By Princess Slayer

TITLE: Divine Intervention
AUTHOR: Princess Slayer
E-MAIL: PrincessSlayer@hotmail.com
RATING: PG
FEEDBACK: The voices are getting upset because no-ones talking to them. Come
on, make them happy ;-)
SUMMARY: Giles finally gets some closure - with a little help from a higher power.
SPOILERS: Detailed for Passion and possibly minor for anything beyond that. Plus one for the Angel ep Heroes.
DISTRIBUTION: Solo, as always, and anyone else who wants it, as long as you tell me where it's gone.
DISCLAIMER: Look, *you* know I don't own them, *I* know I don't own them, so why do you have to make me say it? It depresses me. Okay - fine. Joss owns everything. He is the King. Feeling the enthusiasm?


The archangel Gabriel was not happy. Being an angel, and therefore a creature of pure goodness, he was not supposed to glare. But today he was making an exception.

"Let's be friends," he repeated, for the tenth time. "Let's be friends! You were supposed to make them fall in love! Their relationship was supposed to be passionate, not platonic."

"I'm sorry. I tried." The angel sitting opposite him was known as Aziraphale, and he worked in the division of Heaven that dealt with love matters.

"Trying is not good enough," glared Gabriel. "Not one of the couples you had responsibility for over the past century are happy. The Australian woman had an affair. The French couple got divorced. The Scottish girl got tired of waiting for him to return from the navy and had a baby by another man. And that girl in England sits in her room all day listening to depressing music because she's his shoulder to cry on about the damn redhead! And that's just the tip, *of the tip*, of the iceberg! You're useless!"

"I'll try harder, I promise," whimpered Aziraphale. "Just give me one more chance."

"One is all you're getting."

"I won't fail," he promised. "Who is it?"

Gabriel snapped his fingers and an image began to form behind him from a mass of bright swirls. Aziraphale's eyes grew wide in terror as he recognised the faces.

"No..."

"Rupert Giles and Buffy Summers."

"I can't," Aziraphale begged. "No-one can. We've tried before - we've tried everything. Impending death, mutual enemies, forgivness after mass betrayal - they're completely blind."

"I thought you said you wouldn't fail this time," the archangel quipped.

Aziraphale floundered for a moment, trying to think of another excuse. "It's dangerous!" he said, eventually. "We sent Doyle down there to keep the vampire away from Buffy and he ended up dead. I'm sorry, but this case is a liability, you'll have to find someone else."

The archangel took two steps toward Aziraphale, until he was standing directly in front of him, looming over him. "Get down there right now. And if you want to come back to Heaven again, you will make them realise that they are soul mates and you will make them happy. If you fail this time you will not be allowed back in. Do you understand?"

Aziraphale swallowed. If he'd had a heartbeat it would have increased. "I understand," he said.

* * * * *

"So the demon was tall?"

"Yeah. And its skin was all wrinkled and yellowy, like it had been way over-indulging in the dark side of the Force."

Willow scrunched up her face. "Ew," she said.

"Giles, any thoughts?" Buffy said, looking over to where her her ex-Watcher was perched on the chair by her desk.

"What?" he said, distractedly looking up from his reverie.

"Ground control to Major Giles!" Buffy laughed. "The demon I killed about an hour ago, remember?"

"Oh, demon, yes. Not to worry if you killed it. Any more of his kind come along just...just...kill them too." He pushed himself up from the chair and began to make his way over to the door of the room that Willow and Buffy shared.

The girls exchanged a look. "Giles, are you okay?" Buffy asked.

"I'm fine," he replied, not even looking back.

"Well you're obviously lying now," Buffy told him standing up to block his path. "What gives?"

"Oh, nothing really," Giles said. "I just didn't sleep well last night, that's all."

"Since when did lack of sleep make you go into monosyllabic mode?"

"Since now," Giles said, his eyes like daggers and the tone of his voice making it very clear she was not to push the matter any further. Buffy backed away a little and he took advantage of the opening to slip out of the door.

"That was wierd," Willow said, after he'd gone.

"Extremely wierd. You know I spoke to him this afternoon and he was off then, too. What's up with him?"

"Something must be bothering him." Willow looked thoughtful for a moment. "Wait a minute," she said, at last. "What date is it today?"

Buffy checked her wristwatch. "February 24th. Why?"

"What happened two years ago today?" Willow said.

"I don't know," Buffy shrugged.

"Who *died* two years ago today?"

Another shrug. "I think you're gonna have to spell it out for me, Will, 'cos I'm drawing a blank here."

"Buffy, it's two years since Ms. Calendar died!" Willow exclaimed.

"Oh," Buffy said. "Oh!" she realised. "Poor Giles. No wonder he's not with it. Do you think I should go after him?"

"No, I think maybe we should leave him for a while. Talk to him later."

"Maybe," Buffy said. She turned away so that Willow wouldn't see the tears that were threatening to form in her eyes. Not out of grief or guilt for Jenny, but pity for Giles. He always kept his feelings so bottled up, a state she knew from past experience was destructive. It hurt her that she couldn't comfort him the way he always comforted her when she needed it. She resolved to find him and do what she could to make him feel better.

* * * * *

Aziraphale sat atop the gravestone, banging his legs against it. God, (excuse him) how he hated the earth! And he was an angel - he wasn't supposed to hate. That's what happened when you spent twelve centuries hanging around humans. You picked up a thing or two from them.

In his human body, Aziraphale appeared to be in his early thirties, was tall and good-looking, with neatly cropped, dusty blonde hair and trustworthy blue eyes. He looked like a doctor, or possibly a better breed of lawyer. The kind of man that the women in Bridget Jones' Diary preyed upon like wild beasts. Of course, being an angel he was entirely sexless. The only reason he appeared as a man was that it had been easier back in the old days, when the patriarchal society had been in full bloom, to be a man, and over the centuries he'd become rather attatched to this body. He often thought it would be interesting to have all the man...parts...and try them out (he'd had plenty of offers). Just to see what the fuss was about. Why exactly he'd been fighting for these miserable idiots.

At least people in the twentieth century weren't as prudish as their ancestors were. That had always been one of Aziraphale's pet hates. It made the life of a love angel ten times harder than it already was. Gabriel was in charge of deciding the soul mates and most of the time he was pretty sensible about it, but the old man did have rather an annoying penchant for dramatic irony and star-crossed lovers. He'd been given the job because he was a hopeless romantic, but if you asked Aziraphale it was that reason exactly that should have disqualified him from the position. Buffy and Giles had long been the bane of the love angel's lives. They were, quite literally, made for each other, but they were both too big a fool to see it. Their relationship was the worst kind. So obvious once you knew the truth, but so easy to pass by if you didn't. It was just so *neat.* That's what bugged him. The Watcher and the Slayer, together throughout everything. Total and complete devotion came as standard. Perfect.

So why was it so blo..dam...ah, forget it; why was it so hard?!

He checked the watch he kept tucked in his pocket (while he always made the effort to keep up with the latest fashions, there were just some things that he refused to do. Wearing a wristwatch was one of them. Watches on chains had so much more dignity). Giles should be here by now. Aziraphale looked around, searching for his target. As he did so, he let out a long sigh. How on earth had he managed to get himself into this position?

* * * * *

A few feet away, unknowingly watched by a pair of supernatural eyes, Giles layed a small bouquet of flowers against the dirty white of the gravestone. He studied the simple, gold letters. JENNIFER CALENDAR. Nothing else, just her name, and not even her real name at that. No dates, no cheap attempt to summarise her life in one sentence. Just her name.

"You really miss her, don't you?"

Giles spun round, and found himself face to face with a handsome, young, intelligent looking man. "I'm sorry?" he said.

"Jenny," Aziraphale said. "You miss her, don't you?"

"Yes..." Giles began, cautiously. "Did you know her?"

"Not while she was alive, no," Aziraphale said. "I know you, though."

"I wish I could say the same."

Aziraphale smiled. "This is the bit that's always the hardest. Making you believe. Once you get past this bit, it's pretty much plain sailing." He put his arm around Giles' shoulder and led him away from the headstone. "Now, Rupert," he said. "You don't mind if I call you Rupert do you? Good. Now, Rupert. You're an intelligent man. You're a Watcher, you've seen a lot more than most people in this world. You fight demons professionally, therefore you have to believe in them. But now I'm asking you to believe in their polar opposites."

Giles raised an eyebrow, skeptically. "Angels?" he said.

Aziraphale nodded. "Well done."

"You're trying to tell me that you're an angel?"

"That's correct."

Giles blinked a few times, his face stony. "So where are the wings and harp?" he said.

"Rupert.." Aziraphale began. "You've never seen me before, yet somehow I know you're name, I know that you're a Watcher..."

"Anybody could have found that out."

"Alright then, how about this. I know that you have the Mark of Eyghon tattooed on your left arm. I know that the Christmas you were ten you asked your father for a bicycle and instead you got a pair of quaterstaffs. I know that after your mother died you blamed your father so you burnt all the photos you had of them together. Then you curled up on her bed, crying into the red jumper she wore every Christmas."

"How-how did you know that? I've never told anyone that. I didn't even write it in my diary in case my father found out."

Aziraphale nodded, expectantly. "You were ashamed. Thought it was pathetic, didn't you? Now do you believe me?"

"Well, I, I suppose so. What are you, a guardian angel?"

"You could put it like that. I'm not strictly devoted to you, you understand. This is a temporary thing."

"Then what are you?"

"I can't say. To tell you the nature of my being would be to interfere and I cannot do that. I cannot interfere. What I can do, is show you something."

"Show me what?" Giles asked, trying to ignore the voices in his head that were telling him to rationalise the situation.

"After Jenny died you were haunted by dreams about saving her," Aziraphale said. It was not a question, more of a reminder. "How would you like those dreams to come true?"

"What?" Giles exclaimed, incredulously. "You can do that?" Aziraphale nodded. "Oh, I don't know," Giles continued. "Messing around with time, changing events..it's dangerous. Look at poor Anya!"

"Hey!" Aziraphale said. "I think I'm more qualified to decide that than you, alright? If I say it's alright then it's alright. Alright?"

"Alright," Giles said, deciding it was best not to argue with this creature.

"Good," Aziraphale concluded. Giles was right, of course. Messing around with the space-time continuum *was* dangerous. There were an infinite number of alternate timelines and Aziraphale, being a supernatural entity, knew the details of all of them. And he knew that once Giles discovered the path that this timeline would take, it would only be a temporary thing. At least, that's what he hoped...

"So what do I have to do?" Giles asked.

Aziraphale cocked his head to the side and grinned. "I'm glad you asked," he said, snapping his fingers. Slowly, an ethereal blue whirlpool began to form behind him. "Time portal," he explained, not even turning round.

"I bet you show this to all the boys," Giles said. "What do I do?"

"This'll take you wherever you need to go. You go through it, do whatever it takes to save Jenny, then come back. These things only hang around for an hour, so be quick."

"That's it?"

"That's it," the angel replied. Then he was gone. Taking a deep breath, Giles took a few tentative steps toward the portal. He took a final look at his watch before he went. The hands were just ticking over to 11pm.

* * * * *

He felt as though he was being pulled apart. Every individual molecule in his body sparked with a glowing electricity as he was flung through the very fabrics of time and space. The blackness that surrounded him seemed to glow somehow, totally overtaking him as it controlled his body, his mind and his life.

* * * * *

Jenny was sitting in her classroom, working late in front of her computer. She tapped a few keys, then looked back at the screen to see if it was responding. The Rumanian text in front of her was suddenly obscured by a small window showing a bar zipping across to show the percent complete.

"Come on, come on..." she whispered to herself.

The bar disappeared, and a second panel opened up on the screen, showing an English translation.

"That's it!" Jenny smiled, exhilerated. "It's gonna work! This... will work."

She saved her work, and an unlabeled, yellow, floppy disk popped out of her computer. Setting it next to a pile of books, Jenny excitedly spun her chair over to where a printer had begun spitting out a hard copy of the Curse of Restoration. A cold chill crept over the young teacher, and she looked up nervously, as though sensing that she was not alone. Her fears were not unfounded. As she looked up, she was horrified to recognise the face of Angel sitting quietly at the back of her classroom.

"Angel..." Jenny began, jumping out of her seat and moving slowly to the door. "How did you get in here?"

"I was invited," the demon told her. "The sign in front of the school... 'Formatiatrans sicere educatorum.'"

"'Enter all ye who seek knowledge,'" Jenny whispered.

Angel let out a cold laugh as he launched himself up from his chair. "What can I say?" he continued. "I'm a knowledge seeker."

"Angel, I-I-I've got good news," Jenny told him, frozen to the spot with fear. God, how could she be so stupid! Sitting here, alone at night without even so much as a cross to protect herself.

"I heard," Angel told her, with mock enthusiasm. "You went shopping at the local boogedy-boogedy store." He noticed the clear cut Orb sitting on the desk. "The Orb of Thesulah," he said, picking it up. "If memory serves, this is supposed to summon a person's soul... from the ether... store it until it can be transferred."

He looked deep into the flawless centre of the Orb, and it began to glow.

"You know what I hate most about these things?" he asked.

The technopagan screamed as he lunged the Orb into the blackboard behind her. It shattered into a thousand sparkling pieces.

"They're so damn fragile," Angel smiled. "Must be that shoddy gypsy craftsmanship, huh?

Outside in the halls, the ghostly figure of the future Giles was wandering around, looking in all the classrooms, trying to find Jenny, hoping that he wasn't too late. He heard her piercing scream and immediately began running in the direction of the classroom.

"I never cease to be amazed how much the world has changed in just two and a half centuries," Angel told Jenny, as he turned her monitor so he could see the screen.

Giles looked in at the scene in the classroom. He could see Jenny's hand slowly reaching for the doorknob. With lightning fast reflexes, Giles reached down and clicked the lock on the door out of place. Jenny's hand gingerly twisted the knob, and silently as possible she inched the door open.

"It's a miracle to me," Angel continued, oblivious to her escape. "You, you put the secrets to restoring my soul in here..." He pushed the computer off her desk. It landed with a loud crash, breaking, the monitor shattered, sparks flying from it.

"It comes out here," Angel said, looking at the paper he had torn from the printer. Jenny took his momentary distraction as her cue to dart out the door and run as fast as possible.

"What the..." Angel exclaimed, looking up. "That door was locked!" He looked out into the halls, but Jenny was already at the considerable advantage with her head start.

Giles was waiting for Jenny in the lounge area. He unlocked the doors that led to the outside and walked through them, leaving them swinging behind him. Jenny came running a moment later and threw herself straight through the doors. Taking one last look back inside the school, she saw Angel coming after her at a fast walk.

"Oh, God," she screamed, and ran in the direction of the car park, heading straight for her car, ignoring the pain in her side from where she had fallen.

"Dammit!" Angel exclaimed, as he stepped out into the night, only to hear the sound of wheels screeching on tarmac followed by a speedy getaway. "She get's me to chase her and work up an appetite, and then no kill..." he whispered to himself, through gritted teeth. "Someone's gonna get hurt."

* * * * *

He was back in the graveyard. A quick glance at his watch showed him that time was just ticking over to 11:01pm.

Everything looked...just the same. Perhaps a bit more litter, and a few less people on the streets, but generally everything looked the same.

He walked for a little while through the darkened streets, past the cinema and the mall, until he came to the late night opening convienience stores.

"Hey Giles, whatcha doing here?"

Giles spun round at the sound of the familiar voice. "Xander?" he said.

"Hey Giles."

He hadn't even noticed the second person standing behind the younger man, until she spoke. "Cordelia? Wha-what on earth are you doing here?"

"I'm asking myself the same question," she said, wrapping her arms tightly around Xander's waist. Giles' eyes grew wide at the gesture. Hadn't these two broken up? "But beggars can't be chosers, and this is the only place open at this time of night that's within our price range and I have a craving for cookie dough ice cream and pickled onions, only we don't have any cookie dough at home, so..."

"She dragged me out of bed to get ice cream," Xander finished.

"Ice cream and onions?" Giles repeated.

"Oh, don't you start on me," Cordelia said. "I swear this child is going to be warped!" she joked, placing a hand over her stomach. "Although my mom says she had wierd cravings with me, and I turned out okay."

"No comment," Xander said. Cordelia hit him hard on the arm. "Ow!"

"Never insult a pregnant woman, Honey."

Pregnant! Giles' head was spinning. How on earth had Jenny living caused Xander and Cordelia to be a happily expecting couple? Oh well, best not to question that which you don't understand.

"Aren't you supposed to be on patrol?" Xander asked.

"What?" Giles said, coming out of his reverie. "Oh, um...I'm done."

"Pretty uneventful night, huh?"

"I wouldn't put it quite like that..."

"Well, we'll let you get home, then. We don't want Jenny worrying about you."

Jenny...

<We don't want Jenny worrying about you.> She would be waiting for him at home...at their home.

"Oh, by the way," Xander said, just before he turned to go. "I got a letter from Willow this morning. She's coming home next weekend."

"Hmm, little Miss Harvard coming home to mingle with the commoners," Cordelia noted.

"Honey.." Xander began.

"I'm only kidding!" Cordelia replied, rolling her eyes. "Come on. 'Night Giles."

<Little Miss Harvard...> Giles thought. <Alright, take a moment to assess, old man. Xander and Cordelia are evidently still a couple and Cordelia is in the early stages of pregnancy. Willow is studying at Harvard and you and Jenny are together.> Giles smiled, and looked up to the Heavens. <Thank you,> he whispered mentally.

High above him, Aziraphale gave a reply that he knew Giles would never hear. <Don't thank me until you know the whole story.>

* * * * *

"Jenny...Hello..." Giles peered round the door of his apartment. It was pretty much the same as he remembered it. A few more vases of flowers adorning the surfaces and a lady's coat and scarf hanging on the coat rack, but other than that it was just the same.

It was also silent. Jenny was nowhere to be seen. The TV in the corner flickered with a news report about some new missing person in Sunnydale. Giles walked over and listened to the round up of the days events.

"...And in other news," the reporter announced, "the police investigating the disappearance of Sunnydale's Mayor, Richard Wilkins III, have a new lead. They have found Ethan Rayne, the man wanted for questioning for several months now. The Mayor vanished almost a year and a half ago, on what was a night of total chaos for Sunnydale when many of it's residents found themselves affected by a mysterious drug, which has been traced back to Mr. Rayne. We will bring you more on this story when we have it..."

Giles smiled to himself. In this reality the demon Lurconis must have killed the Mayor before he became impervious to harm. The Ascencion had never happened. The High School would still be standing. He would still have a job!

"Oh, you're back." Giles spun round to greet the voice behind him, and his breath caught in his throat. Jenny was even more beautiful than he remembered. Her hair fell around her shoulders and her dark eyes looked at him with a pure, unquestionable kind of love. But it was the ring on the third finger of her left hand that really drew Giles attention. A solitary diamond set in deep silver, surrounded by three tiny emeralds, Jenny's birthstone. An engagement ring!

"Jenny..." Giles began. "I don't believe it! I thought I'd lost you," he whispered, as he pulled his fiancee into a tight embrace and squeezed her as though he would never let her go.

"Rupert, are you okay?" Jenny asked, struggling to break free from his overwhelming grip.

"I'm fine," Giles told her. "I've never been better. Everything is...perfect."

"So, did you meet any interesting vampires?" Jenny asked.

"What?" Giles asked, furrowing his brow. "Vampires? I..."

"Yeah, you know, the ones with the sharp pointy teeth, they like to eat blood. The creatures you've just been hunting on patrol? Are you *sure* you're feeling okay, Honey? You're acting a little odd."

"Oh! Oh, no I'm fine, thank you, Darling," Giles smiled. "Yes, vampires...Um, big vampire, hit me on the head...while I was patrolling...yes. I'm feeling a little woozy, but I'm fine. Not to worry. Buffy killed him."

This time Jenny looked as though her fiance had made a sick joke. "Buffy?" she said slowly.

<Buffy wasn't patrolling with me tonight!> Giles thought. "Not Buffy?" he said.

"You really do need to lie down." Jenny grabbed Giles by the arm and led him over to the foot of the stairs. "You go up to bed and try and get some sleep. I'll finish clearing up down here, then I'll follow you up. You'll feel better in the morning."

Now Giles was getting worried. "What do you mean?" he asked, trying desperately to think how he could get some more information without revealing that he didn't have a clue what the situation was in the world.

Jenny smiled, sympathetically. "I know it's hard for you at this time of year. Getting hit over the head probably didn't help." She tried to laugh, but failed miserably. "I know how much you miss her," she said, bringing her hand to the side of her loved one's face. She sighed deeply. "You go upstairs," she told him, as she turned and walked away.

<"I know how much you miss her." Who!>

Giles' brow remained furrowed in a deep frown all the way up the winding stairs. As soon as he reached his bedroom, he made his way over to his wardrobe and pulled down the box that he knew would be on the top shelf. It was where he kept all his Watcher diaries. Peering into the box he threw aside the ones that were written before Jenny's death. Well that was strange. The more recent diaries - the ones which led up to the cruciamentum - were nowhere to be seen. Giles mused for a moment, before pulling out the one he knew had once held the details of Angel's murder of Jenny. He opened it at the back, only to find that the last few pages were empty. Well, that really was strange. Flipping through the pages until he found the last few entries, Giles made his way back over to the bed. He perched on the side of it as he began to read.

"February 25th 1998
Jenny came to me last night. She has found a way to restore Angel's soul. We told Buffy this morning; needless to say she is thrilled beyond all measure. It will not be easy to accept Angel again, or for him to accept himself, after his actions in the past few months, but we have all agreed that we will make the effort to welcome and comfort him. He was a good man and a good friend before he lost his soul and I am glad that we will soon have him back again.

"We have decided it would be best not to tell Angel what we plan to do.

"February 28th 1998
This will be my last entry in the Watcher Diaries, for my Buffy is dead. It happened the night of the 25th. Somehow, Angel got wind of our plans and then confronted and killed Buffy. He broke her neck and then left her in the swing on the porch at the front of her house for her mother to find. He wrapped her up in a blanket first, so she looked just like she was sleeping. Joyce told me later that she looked so peaceful, she didn't want to disturb her. She left her out there for almost two hours. Her family and friends are distraught, of course. The children have each other and I have done what I can to comfort her mother. She told me she appreciates my concern and that Buffy used to talk about me all the time. She assumes that I was her favourite teacher. It saddens me that I cannot tell her the true nature of our relationship. I think she would be happy to hear that her daughter's short life had some meaning to it. It would be a comfort to her also to know that some kind of justice has been served by the death of Angel. As soon as I realised it was him who had killed her, I hunted him down and returned the favour. It was dangerous and stupid, I know, but I was blinded by rage and grief, and making him suffer brought me some kind of satisfaction. His minions, Spike and Drusilla, have left town. I doubt we will ever hear from them again.

"I have been thinking back to my time when I was being trained as a Watcher. I was given volumes of lore and prophecy, taught advanced combat skills and instructed in how I was to hone and prepare my Slayer for life on the front line. It occurs to me now that all my elders back then regarded the Slayers as prophesised phenomenons. As instruments to be played, as models to be molded. The truth is that Slayers are much more than just supernatural prowess and fighting machines. They are real people, with real emotions of their own and the ability to make others love them. I was prepared for many things in my youth, but I was never prepared for the grief that I feel now. To any Watcher reading this in the future, I beseech you to treasure the short time that you have with your Slayers. If they are at all like my Buffy they are wonderful, courageous, selfless girls. They are the kind of spirited people we should all strive to be like, and yet they are gone so soon. Like shooting stars; gone in an instant but never forgotten, because for the short time that they are here, they shine so bright that all the other heavenly beams disappear into the background. I never really told Buffy how much I admired her and how proud I was of her, and now it is too late. Never make the same mistake I did. Never take your girl for granted. This is the best advice I can offer you.

"Buffy truly was the most amazing person I ever met, and I will miss her for the rest of my life."

Everything in his body went numb. He couldn't see, or hear, or feel. The book fell from his hands and landed with a loud clunk on the floor, but he was oblivious to it. Four words kept spinning round his mind: <My Buffy is dead.> He closed his eyes, trying to block it out, only to be assulted by a mental picture of Buffy snuggled within a soft, fluffy blanket, seemingly sleeping, never to wake again.

He fell to the side, his head sinking into his pillow. That was the position that Jenny found him in half an hour later when she came up to bed. He didn't notice as she pulled off his shoes and socks and helped him under the covers. He was blind to the movement of her bending down and picking up the diary, then leaning in to kiss him lightly on the forehead.

"Sleep well, Sweetheart," she whispered.

* * * * *

The early morning dew-drops that hung on the grass soaked the soft leather of Giles shoes as he walked through the cemetary early the next morning. He searched out the place where Jenny's grave usually stood, but found that the familiar white stone had been replaced by a dull grey one carrying the name Jonathon Levinson and the message, "He never knew how much we loved him. He's at peace now; time to rest."

Jonathon...he knew that name. Wasn't he the boy that Buffy had stopped from...No. Buffy hadn't stopped him. That made sense, along with a lot of other things in this world. Without an interest fuelled by the casting of the restoration curse, Willow had never developed a talent for Witchcraft, and so come graduation she had left Sunnydale for a more illustrious education at Harvard. There was no more heartbreak for her over Oz leaving, for their relationship, determind to be unworkable over a long-distance, was over long before that event. Cordelia had never discovered Xander's betrayal because he and Willow had never been kidnapped by Spike. Indeed, since Angel's death no-one had heard from Spike or Drusilla. And so Xander and Cordelia were still a couple, living together since the Chase family went from riches to rags. None of them knew Anya, for she had never been rendered mortal by Cordelia's wish. None of them knew Faith, for Kendra was still the active Slayer. And the Mayor - Buffy had never conned Giles into buying the cursed candy, he had never regressed back to Ripper and he had thwarted the Mayor's plans himself. Aside from Jonathon's fate, everyone in this world seemed...happier.

So why was he so miserable?

Turning away from Jonathon's grave, Giles continued walking, scanning the inscriptions, searching for one particular name.

At last he found it.

Buffy Anne Summers
1981-1998

Gone from us, but not forever
Her memories shall never fade
Thoughts so sweet shall linger ever
Round the spot where she is laid

Giles stared numbly at the writing on the heavy grey stone. This couldn't be happening. How could that be Buffy lying deep beneath his feet? Was *this* how the world was going to remember her? A short rhyme that didn't even begin to describe the girl that she had been, didn't even try to convey how much everyone in the world owed her. Giles fell to his kness and fingered the rough engraving. He traced the outline of her name, caressing each individual letter with his long fingers. B-U-F-F-Y. Buffy. That's what it said. This was real. Oh God, why did this have to be real?

"If it makes you feel any better, Slayers have a really good time in the afterlife."

Giles looked round, and saw Aziraphale approaching him. "You..."

"Total luxury. Even more so than the Saints," the angel continued. "Every single one of them, since the dawn of man, they're all together. And they are quite the party animals! We'll be calling on their skills come the Final Battle which, if Nostradamus is to be believed, is just around the corner, so you'll see her again soon."

"You knew what would happen, didn't you?" he challenged. "You knew that Buffy's life would be the cost of Jenny's, didn't you? And yet you still put me through this. Why?"

"Because it's the only way to make you see. You know in your heart which one you'd let go of and which one you'd hang onto. Now prove that you know it in your mind."

"What are you talking about?" Giles said. "Who are you?"

"I told you who I am," Aziraphale said.

"I don't believe it. How can a Heavenly Being cause this much pain?"

"All I did was to give you what you wanted!" Aziraphale exclaimed, defensively. "Maybe I was wrong," he said, crouching down so he was level with Giles. "Maybe I got your wish wrong. Or maybe you did. Maybe you don't really know what will make you happy. Or should I say who?"

"What's that supposed to mean?" Giles asked, spinning round.

Aziraphale rolled his eyes. "Work it out for yourself." He pulled out his watch and showed Giles the time. "Hadn't you better get to work?" he said.

Giles was about to open his mouth to say something else, but before he could, Aziraphale had disappeared.

* * * * *

The library was buzzing.

Not only with students reading, but with students typing and clicking away at one of the many computers that now lined the walls. Jenny sat, perched on the edge of one of the desks, helping one of them with his work.

Giles barely noticed any of them as he sat alone in his office. All he could think of was Buffy and the countless times he had not appreciated her; the times he had let her down.

<It's an organic compound of muscle relaxants and adrenal suppressers.> In this world he had never put her through that.

<You have no respect for me, or the job I perform.> In this world, Angel had been killed long before he would have otherwise returned from a millenia of torture in Hell.

He thought of the look on her face when she saw Olivia. The disgust that she had made no attempt to hide when she had caught him with Joyce. The sheer hatred that had always crossed her eyes when she looked at Jenny. The woman that he was going to marry. How could he marry someone that Buffy hated that much?

In this world he had never been forced into performing the Cruciamentum, he had never been tortured by Angel and he had never been influenced by Ethan's cursed candy. The old him had only hurt her when there had been no other choice, or when it had been out of his control. But in this world he had *chosen* to marry Jenny. He had *chosen* to partake of an act that he knew would have broken Buffy's heart.

It wasn't enough that he hadn't appreciated her. He had to betray her as well. But now it was too late to make it up to her.

"It's harder than it looks, isn't it?"

Giles snapped his head up and found himself greeted by the sight of the angel who had caused all this.

"How did you get in here," Giles asked, making no attempt to disguise the contempt in his voice.

"Ineffable power. Doors aren't really a problem."

"What's harder than it looks?"

"Life. Making desicions. Getting what you want. It doesn't really work."

"What do you want?"

"I want to help you. You've got to make the desicion, and you've got to make it soon. We're running out of time," Aziraphale told him. "Do you want to leave things as they are, or do you want to go back to how it was. Do you want Buffy or Jenny? Do you want the blonde or the brunette?" The angel knew he was taking a huge gamble here, but he was desperate. He could see no other way to make Giles realise how much he needed Buffy than by taking her away from him.

"I don't understand. You give me all this and then you just take it away again? Why?"

"I don't have to take it away," Aziraphale told him. "We can leave things as they are if you want...is that what you want?"

"People are happy here. Willow, Xander, Cordelia, Jenny, they're all happy," Giles said.

"This isn't about them, it's about you!" Aziraphale shouted. "For God's sake, will you stop being so selfless and think about yourself for a change! Who do you want - no, who do you *need* more? Buffy or Jenny?"

Giles was silent for a long moment, contemplating needlessly, for he knew what the answer was. He looked at the angel. "Will you let me say goodbye to her first?" he asked.

Aziraphale nodded. "Just be quick. I'll be waiting for you. The time portal will only hang around for another half hour, then it's gone forever and you and I are both..." He drew his finger across his throat to demonstrate his point.

As Giles nodded in understanding and began to walk away slowly, Aziraphale looked up to the Heavens. <I know there's no wedding bells playing, but I think progress has been made. It's the best I can do, Sir. So what's the verdict. Can I come back?>

<Yes, Aziraphale,> the voice filling his head told him. <We're very pleased with your progress on this case. You can come back.>

* * * * *

"Can I talk to you for a moment?" Giles whispered into Jenny's ear.

"Sure," she said, jumping up from the desk. "I'll be back in a minute." She told the student she was helping. As they walked away, the sound of a childish wolf-whistle hit their ears.

"I heard that, Louis," Jenny said.

"You were meant to," the boy replied. "Seriously though, Ms.C, what do you see in this guy, especially with burning hunks of love like me hanging around?"

"Oooh, I don't know," Jenny said. "Apart from his dashing good looks, amazing intellect, our common interests and the fact that he's great in bed...I guess there really isn't anything."

Louis winced. "Not a visual picture I needed, thank you."

"You asked for it," Jenny winked, before grabbing Giles hand and walking with him out of the library.

They walked out of the library, along the collonnade and out onto the field until they finally spoke.

"Did you want to say something to me?" Jenny asked.

"Jenny, I um...I love you. You know that, don't you?"

"Of course I do."

"I just wanted to make sure you knew because, um...well, I may not get the chance to say it to you again."

"What the hell are you talking about," her voice icy, full of fear.

"I can't explain. I wish I could. All I can tell you is that-"

"Rupert, stop it!" Jenny yelled, causing several of the students nearby to turn and look at them. "You're scaring me, alright? Now would you please explain yourself?"

"I can't..."

"Don't fob me off with that."

"Jenny..." Giles began, glancing round at the students. "People are staring - the children."

"I don't care!"

"Goodbye, Jenny," Giles said, no longer trying to disguise his tears.

"Where are you going?"

"I'll never forget you," he said, as he turned to walk out of the school gates.

"Rupert, wait! Rupert, you're scaring me, what are doing?"

It took all of Giles' strength not to turn around and sweep her up in his arms. He just kept his mind's eye focussed on Buffy's smiling face.

"Rupert, come back!" Jenny yelled, and she ran out the gates after him. Time froze just as her hand was about to grip her fiance's arm.

"Are you sure about this?" Aziraphale asked.

Giles nodded. "I'm sure. It's time to let go of Jenny." He turned to look at the frozen statue for the last time. "I *have* to let go of Jenny because I *can't* let go of Buffy."

The angel smiled. "That's good to know. Just do me a favour. When you get back, tell *Buffy* that."

"You can count on it."

With that, Giles stepped through ethereal blue-grey mists of the time portal for the second time in as many days.

* * * * *

Jenny was sitting in her classroom, working late in front of her computer. She tapped a few keys, then looked back at the screen to see if it was responding. The Rumanian text in front of her was suddenly obscured by a small window showing a bar zipping across to show the percent complete.

"Come on, come on..." she whispered to herself.

The bar disappeared, and a second panel opened up on the screen, showing an English translation.

"That's it!" Jenny smiled, exhilerated. "It's gonna work! This... will work."

She saved her work, and an unlabeled yellow floppy disk popped out of her computer. Setting it next to a pile of books, Jenny excitedly spun her chair opver to where a printer had begun spitting out a hard copy of the Curse of Restoration. A cold chill crept over the young teacher, and she looked up nervously, as though sensing that she was not alone. Her fears were not unfounded. As she looked up, she was horrified to recognise the face of Angel sitting quietly at the back of her classroom.

"Angel..." Jenny began, jumping out of her seat and moving slowly to the door. "How did you get in here?"

"I was invited," the demon told her. "The sign in front of the school... 'Formatia trans sicere educatorum.'"

"'Enter all ye who seek knowledge,'" Jenny whispered.

Angel let out a cold laugh as he launched himself up from his chair. "What can I say?" he continued. "I'm a knowledge seeker."

"Angel, I-I-I've got good news," Jenny told him, frozen to the spot with fear. God, how could she be so stupid! Sitting here, alone at night without even so much as a cross to protect herself.

I heard," Angel told her, with mock enthusiasm. "You went shopping at the local boogedy-boogedy store." He noticed the clear cut Orb sitting on the desk. "The Orb of Thesulah," he said, picking it up. "If memory serves, this is supposed to summon a person's soul... from the ether... store it until it can be transferred."

He looked deep into the flawless centre of the Orb, and it began to glow.

"You know what I hate most about these things?" he asked.

The technopagan screamed as he lunged the Orb into the blackboard behind her. Itshattered into a thousand sparkling pieces.

"They're so damn fragile," Angel smiled. "Must be that shoddy gypsy craftsmanship, huh?

Outside in the halls, Giles watched as the ghostly figure himself just a few short days ago wandered around, looking in all the classrooms, trying to find Jenny, hoping that he wasn't too late. The other Giles heard her piercing scream and immediately began running in the direction of the classroom.

"I never cease to be amazed how much the world has changed in just two and a half centuries," Angel told Jenny, as he turned her moniter so he could see the screen.

The other Giles looked in at the scene in the classroom. He could see Jenny's hand slowly reaching for the doorknob. With lightning fast reflexes, the other Giles reached down and clicked the lock on the door out of place, then swiftly headed to the lounge area. Faster still, Giles clicked it back into place, just as Jenny's hand touched the knob, turning it silently, only to find it locked.

"It's a miracle to me," Angel continued. "You, you put the secrets to restoring my soul in here...It comes out here. 'The Ritual of Restoration.' Wow. This, this brings back memories."

Looking up at Jenny, he tore the sheet in half with a horrible cracking sound.

"Wait. That's your..."

"Oh, my cure? No, thanks. Been there, done that, and deja vu just isn't what it used to be."

Outside, Giles found himself inexplicably unable to tear himself away from the scene that was unfolding in front of him. He looked on as Angel turned back to his prey, sporting a hideous game face, as Jenny tried to run away, only to be stopped by the roaring demon, and as she was thrown brutally against the door.

"Oh, good. I need to work up an appetite first," Angel said, and it was all Giles could do to restrain himself from hitting him. <Remember Buffy.> Squeezing the threatening tears from his eyes, Giles turned and ran as fast as he could toward the lounge. He got there just in time to squeeze through the swinging doors and lock them tightly behind him. A split second later, Jenny came slamming into the doors, banging hard, cursing them for trapping her inside the school with that monster.

When he reached the road outside, Giles turned to give the old school one last, final look. The large, arched window above the school entrance caught his attention, as he noticed something moving behind it. A silhoutted figure...a human...a demon. His breath caught in his throat as he stared at the image of Angel holding Jenny lovingly in his arms, then in one, swift movement, perfected by years of practice, he twisting her head and snapping her neck. Her lifeless body collapsed in a heap on the floor.

Jenny was dead.

Buffy would live.

* * * * *

He was back in the cemetary. A quick glance at his watch told him that the time was just ticking over to 11pm.

"Hey Giles."

He turned to look at the owner of the voice. When he saw her it was all he could do to not run towards her and take her in his arms and hold her so tight she could never get away.

"Buffy..." he said.

"Are you okay?" she began, gently. "I'm sorry about before. I didn't realise...I'm such a ditz, I had no idea...are you okay?"

"I'm fine," Giles laughed. "I'm just...I'm just so glad to see you! I thought I'd never..."

"Giles, are you sure you're okay?" Buffy asked. "You're looking at me like I've just come back from the dead. Again."

"I'm fine, really."

"You wanna go get some coffee and talk about it?"

Giles shook his head. "No thank you. Talking's not really what I need right now."

"Okay," Buffy said, and she turned to go.

"But the coffee sounds good. I mean if you'd...if you'd like."

Buffy smiled. "That'd be nice."

"Good," Giles said, a small smile creeping over his face.

"Hey, that's better!" Buffy grinned, noticing his smile. "Let's see if we can keep that up, huh?"

"I don't think that'll be a problem," Giles told her. "I've done a lot of thinking. I know I miss her and I always will," he said, looking toward Jenny's grave. "That's what happens when someone dies. But I've also realised that it's time to let go and that I *can* live without her...just as long as *you* don't go anywhere."

Buffy looked at him, not sure whether to be shocked. "I'm not going anywhere," she told him.

"I'm glad to hear it. Now how about that coffee?"

END