Epiphany
By Jullez

Title: Epiphany
Author: Jullez
Rating: PG
Summary: I'm jumping on the bandwagon and doing my take of the summer after S5.
Spoilers: Season 5 finale.
Dedication: For Tag so she'll know who Staind is.
Notes: The first song is Epiphany, by Staind, and the second song is Outside. I suggest, if you can, to download Epiphany, because if you listened to it, the fic would be more effective. I got inspired while stuck in traffic for two hours and listening to Epiphany about fourteen times. This was the result of a bad weekend, but I guess this is something good that came from it.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything.
Distribution: If you want it, take it.
E-mail: Jullez@prodigy.net


The summer months could only be described as hell, pure, utter, literal hell. Buffy was dead and it didn't seem possible. Given the fact that she was the slayer, her death was going to come sooner rather than later, but somehow Giles had convinced himself that she was going to live forever. One of the only times Giles forgot that Buffy was still a normal person was in regard to her mortality. He always thought of her as Buffy, there was no other person on Earth like her. She was above all that was considered normal. She sat on a pedestal that she would never be removed from. She was indestructible, no enemy could kill her, it just wasn't possible.

In the end she was still indestructible, she saved the world from annihilation, she defeated her nemesis, and she didn't sacrifice the life of someone she loved to save her own hide, but she wasn't immortal. Immortality, indestructibility, it didn't come with slaying; it didn't come with who Buffy was. In the end she sacrificed her life for that of her sister. She'd lived longer than most slayers, she always knew what to do in a crisis, she made tough choices; choices that no one should ever have to make. In the end she found something more valuable than her own life. In the end she found clarity. In the end she found something worth dying for. In the end Giles hated her.

He couldn't describe his feeling in any other way than hate. During her life he had loved her more than he cared about even himself. He couldn't think of any other person that had ever made him feel so much, ever made him care, ever given him a reason to exist. Now his reason was gone and he was hollow inside. After the first few days of tears faded away, he found himself filled with anger towards her. He wondered how she could be so selfish, how she could just let herself die. He hated himself for his thoughts and feelings, but he couldn't prevent them. The worst one that ever entered his mind was how Buffy could ever think that Dawn's life was more valuable than her own. In the deepest parts of his depression he found himself wishing that he had killed Dawn instead of Ben. Then he detested himself for even imagining it, so much so that just looking at Dawn's face caused him unbearable pain. His young friends would have thought he would be beyond having such feelings. He was still a man and every man has his breaking point. Unfortunately his heart and soul had been ripped from his body.

The few hours he spent with Dawn in the hospital trying to heal the wounds on her body after Buffy's death had led him to a conclusion. People aren't bodies with souls, they're souls with bodies.* Vampires and demons, they weren't people because they didn't have souls with bodies; they didn't have hearts that could beat. Now he was no better than the creatures he swore to protect the world from. He didn't think he was anything anymore. In the months that followed, his depression only became more severe, so did his addictions.

He was in a downward spiral with no way back to the light. In fact the lights were blinding him. He got out of bed every morning, went to work and took care of Dawn. The entire situation was dripping with irony. He was raising the one girl he resented, more than anything, only to please a dead woman that he loved so much he couldn't hate her anymore than he did now. He went to work, when all he wanted to do was sit in the basement by himself. No noise, no people, no knowledge of the world around him, he wanted to live the rest of his life in perfect seclusion.

His attitude was affecting everyone around him. Dawn had all but guessed that she was the main cause of his pain. She could see in his eyes the mixed feelings he was battling with. Giles inadvertently set her off into her own, albeit minor, depression. Giles had always been Xander and Willow's rock he helped them understand life at the times when it wasn't designed to be understood. Now he wasn't there for them.

Watching him fall apart was killing them. It made them physically sick to see the vibrant man they had once known turn into the disjointed individual before their eyes who felt worthless. He drank so much he would make himself sick. He didn't care, anything that would make him forget Buffy, was something that he welcomed. How does someone take losing the person they've built their life around? He couldn't take it. He, often times, felt like death would be better, then part of him wondered what it would do to the people who cared about him; another part didn't give a damn. When he thought about it, he couldn't kill himself. He couldn't kill himself like Buffy had, he couldn't commit suicide.

That was how he felt now; that she had committed some noble act of heroism, it was suicide. She died like a coward because she didn't know what to do. He tried to hide these feelings from his friends, the part of him that still cared, tried to anyway. He was ashamed of his feelings, making them feel worse was the last thing he wanted to do, but it was the only thing he did. His addictions were taking their toll on everyone, including Spike. Spike, who had made an honest effort to comfort Dawn and Buffy's friends in Giles' place. He and Giles were both a lot alike in their reactions to Buffy's death, in the respect that they were both trying to find bliss in ignorance. Spike was ignorant to the fact that Buffy was never coming back. Giles… Giles was ignorant to the surrounding world.

He couldn't convey his feelings to anyone. He kept them bottled up, spinning around in his head until he hated himself and the world around him. The alcohol, mixed with his own severe depression, made him very short tempered. He often yelled at Dawn or Xander, a lot at Anya, Willow and Tara not so much. Dawn, she got the worst of it. It had been getting progressively harsher, but what happened two days earlier is what caused the Scooby Gang to decide that an intervention was in order.

One night Dawn had a major history report about the Salem Witch Trials to research. She wanted to be creative by getting the opinions of real witches, so naturally she interviewed Tara and Willow. She had some good material, but she wanted to put in the extra effort to get an "A" by interviewing Spike to get any details he might know that weren't normally in the textbooks. She left a note for Giles saying that she would be late and by the time Spike had walked her home Giles was very drunk and very pissed off.

He hadn't seen the note proceeding to yell at her about it. Then he yelled at Spike for being with Dawn and even threatened him. When Dawn retorted by defending Spike, Giles snapped, hitting her hard across the face. He didn't really know what he'd done. He didn't realize the severity of his actions. He didn't understand that he had actually physically hurt her. At that moment, Spike and Dawn realized that he needed actual help, professional or otherwise. It wasn't just a hard slap across the face; he had actually hit her with a closed fist.

That was 2 days ago and no one had spoken or really seen Giles since. Dawn heard movements downstairs indicating he was home, but he didn't interact with her in any way until that morning. Just as Dawn was heading out to Xander's, she opened her bedroom door to find Giles on the other side, ready to knock. When the door opened, his eyes went wide at the site of her. His mouth opened to say something, but he didn't. He tried, but he couldn't speak. His breathing became rapid as well as his heartbeat. Giles was sure Dawn could probably hear it pounding in his chest. He tried to speak again, but a look of pain crossed his face and tears welled up in his eyes. He looked like someone had just stabbed him in the stomach. Dawn couldn't face him any longer. "I'm going to Xander's for awhile. I'll be back before dinner." He swallowed loudly, nodded as she walked by and rushed out the front door. She couldn't stand the look of pain in his eyes; she cried the whole way to Xander's.

Now they were all together and discussing the situation, they decided unanimously that they needed to help Giles before they hurt him or they had to bury another friend. They also agreed if anything else happened either Dawn or Giles was moving out, or someone else was going to move in. The way things were going Dawn was better off living with anyone besides Giles. Dawn, however, was the only one who didn't share their sentiments.

"I can't just leave him guys. That would just make things way worse!"

Willow didn't agree with that one bit, "You can't just stay there if he's becoming abusive!"

"Maybe we should talk to him. Has anyone tried talking to him?"

Willow nodded unpleasantly, "We've tried. He's really vague about things or he says things that don't make much sense."

Anya chimed in, "Or he'll say we wouldn't understand and then not say anything else."

Tara agreed with Dawn, to Willow's dismay. "I think one of us should try t-to really speak with him… find out w-what he's feeling."

"Which one of us?" Xander asked.

Dawn quickly volunteered, "I'll do it. I mean, I'm the reason for all of this right?"

Spike was the first one to argue. "You've got to be crazy, Luv, if you think I'm going to let you confront him!"

"Why not?"

Spike softly cupped her cheek, running his thumb lightly across her black eye. "That's why. I'll talk to him. He and I have more in common than you'd think."

Xander laughed at the absurdity of the proposal. "Spike, remember that Giles hates you. He'll kill you!"

"Better me than one of you lot. I'll go tonight."

*******

It was after nightfall when Spike appeared at the Summers' home. Dawn was asleep in bed and Giles was nowhere to be seen. Spike knew he would be the only one that could get inside Giles' head; he was always efficient at that task. Finding him was the first task Spike had to complete. He knew Giles was still in the house, the glass on the counter had drops of still warm liquid in it and the cigarette butts were fresh. Spike heard the faint noise of a strumming guitar coming from the basement.

Slowly he descended the stairs and sure enough there sat Giles tuning his guitar, smoking a cigarette with a half empty bottle of whiskey close at hand. Giles face looked so tired, he looked worn. He wore faded blue jeans with tears in the knees, an old heather gray tee shirt, the earring her wore to disguise himself, no shoes or socks and another cigarette tucked behind his ear next to his unkempt hair. He hadn't shaved in a few days, his glasses were missing and around his neck he wore Buffy's gold cross necklace.

Spike stood observing him for a while. Giles stared into space for a long period of time, smoking, drinking and absently strumming the guitar until he eventually began concentrating on playing a slow, soft, haunting tune. He started singing, his voice coming out raspy and a little harsh at times from the alcohol and cigarettes. Spike had never heard someone reveal so much of themselves in a song. Spike actually cried at the intensity of the feelings he was absorbing. How could someone hold so much pain inside of themselves without exploding? He finally understood, he understood Giles, he understood it all. He knew how Giles felt about himself and the way he should act around others. Spike had an epiphany, with Giles at it's center, the emotions so strong he couldn't hold back the tears as he listened, knowing whom Giles was singing to and about at each phrase. Spike just stood and listened.

 

Your words to me just a whisper
Your face is so unclear
I try to pay attention
Your words just disappear

Go on
Cause it's always raining in my head

Go on
Forget all the things I should have said

So I speak to you in riddles
Cause my words get in my way

I smoke the whole thing to my head
And feel it wash away
Cause I can't take anymore of this
I want to come apart
Or dig myself a little hole inside your precious heart

Ohohh
Cause it's always raining in my head

Ohohh
Forget all the things I should have said

I am nothing more than
A little boy inside
That cries out for attention
Yet I always try to hide
Cause I talk to you like children
Though I don't know how I feel
But I know I'll do the right thing
If the right thing is revealed

Cause it's always raining in my head

Forget all the things I should have said

 

Giles put so much raw emotion into the song, when he looked up to finally gaze at Spike, tear filled eyes met tear filled eyes.

"Do you understand now?"

Spike only nodded. Giles asked in a much more even tone than the last time they had spoken. "Why are you here, Spike?"

"To help you."

"Why could you possibly want to help me?"

"Because for some reason I care. I care about you, mate, Dawn and the bloody Scoobies, and right now you're killing them." Giles scoffed. "And yourself. Look Rupert, I know Buffy wasn't supposed to die. I know everyone wants her back and I know I'm not the only bloody Englishman that was in love with her, but… you were the only one she loved back. She made me feel like a person and now I've lost one of the only two real friends I've ever had. I don't want to lose the other one as well."

Giles face remained blank, not caring about Spike's little revelation. Spike sighed knowing that he was going to have to resort to blackmail. "What if I told you I could get Buffy back for you?" Giles eyes widened in surprise. "Knew that would get your attention. Red and I have been working on a little ritual to resurrect the slayer. When we finish, we are going to leave it up to you to carry out."

"When do I get the ritual?"

"On a few conditions."

"Which are?"

"You go to an alcohol counselor and get treatment for your depression. You have to try to communicate with the Scoobies again and work out your feelings with Dawn. Basically get your life back to normal. We don't want Buffy coming back to you the way you are now."

Spike offered his hand as a way to seal the agreement. Giles stared at it for a few minutes thinking over what he would be agreeing to do. Giles shook Spike's outstretched hand firmly. "Agreed." In the end it was a small price to pay to get Buffy back. Spike managed to give him a small smile before turning to leave. He was halfway to the top when Giles called out to him, making Spike turn at the sound of his voice.

"Spike."

When Spike was facing him, Giles said sincerely, "Thank you."

Spike nodded and replied with words that were last spoken before battle, "We few, we proud, we few." Smiling he turned to make his exit, leaving Giles to think.

******

Two months later, Giles stood in the same building where he had killed Ben only a few months prior. There was a slight chill in the air from the October weather, or maybe it was from the magic that was about to be unleashed. Giles pulled his long black coat a little tighter before setting up the ingredients to perform the ritual. Willow and Spike had made it as easy as possible and with the knowledge of magic he had he was the only one needed to perform it. He had managed to comply with all the terms of his agreement, even though it was difficult at first. Repairing the relationship he had with Dawn was the most difficult task for him, even though she had forgiven him immediately, he still couldn't forgive himself. He had managed to get out of his depression and he might even be caught smiling once in awhile, he hadn't had a drink since the night he had made his agreement with Spike, the only thing he hadn't really stopped was smoking. Dawn tried to get him to quit and she was making progress, but she was certain he would stop once Buffy came back. Now all that was left was hoping the ritual worked. No one was actually quite sure how exactly Buffy was going to come back. They weren't using the spell Doc had given Dawn, because there was no guarantee that she wouldn't come back being a completely different person than she was before. Extensive research had been done to ensure that wouldn't happen with this ritual, however, they couldn't ensure that there wouldn't be minor changes.

Now it was time to perform the ritual and Giles was more nervous than he'd ever been about anything in his life. He was so afraid that he was going to screw this up, not something he wanted to do, when bringing back the person he loved more than anything from the dead. Taking deep breaths, he eventually began to relax and began the ritual, not wanting to put this off any longer. It was rather simple, chanting, herbs, some magic, a few obscure ingredients, a talisman and Buffy's necklace were all that were needed. As he chanted, a rumbling sound began to occur and then got louder and louder as he chanted, only to stop when he was finished. He looked around, expecting to see Buffy, but there was nothing there. He felt so defeated, the spell hadn't worked and she wasn't there with him. He ran his hands through his hair trying to figure out what to do now. The next thing he knew, there was a burst of light that carried a force so strong that he was thrown back against the wall. When the light dissipated, Giles rubbed at the pain in his back and then looked ahead to see what had knocked him across the room. He heard gasps for air as his eyes widened in shock at the sight of Buffy in the middle of the room. She was trying to breath, she was shaking either from the chill in the air or from the shock. Sobs started to escape her, but no tears followed. She was shivering from head to toe, Giles guessed that was because she was naked, but he was really too shocked to notice. She was writhing on the ground in pain until her eyes met his. The moment she saw him, she stopped everything, not believing what she was seeing.

"Giles," she asked sounding fragile.

He gulped and just nodded. When she saw him move she started crying. "Oh, Giles!" Slowly he got up and walked over to her. Kneeling in front of her, he lightly touched her shoulder, he then realized that she was shaking from the cold. He took off his overcoat, wrapping it around her shoulders, he fell to his knees and broke down into tears. She pulled him to her, wrapping her arms around him tightly. They held each other, crying tears for every reason. Once he had calmed down a little, he rested his head on her knee and whispered softly, "I love you." She ran her hands through his hair and smiled, taking his face in her hands she rested her forehead against his, "I know. I figured it out. I love you too." After that they shared their first kiss, oblivious to the person that was observing them.

Spike stood outside the building, peering in at them the entire time. He had followed Giles to make sure everything happened accordingly and to prevent whatever Giles might have done should the spell not have worked. He watched them as they held each other crying, when they made their confession of love and finally, when they had their first kiss. Smiling slightly he shook his head, "We few, we proud, we few," and walked off into the night.

And you,
Can bring me to my knees
Again, all the times
I could beg you please
In vain

All the times,
That I felt insecure
For you
And I leave my burdens at the door

But I'm on the outside
I'm looking in
I can see through you
See your true colors
Cause inside you're ugly
You're ugly like me
I can see through you
See to the real you

All the times that I felt like this won't end
Was for you
And I taste
What I could never have
It was from you
All the times that I've cried, my intentions
Where full of pride
But I waste
More time than anyone

But I'm on the outside
I'm looking in
I can see through you
See your true colors
Cause inside you're ugly
You're ugly like me
I can see through you
See to the real you

All the times
That I've cried
All this wasted
It's all inside
And I feel all this pain
I stuffed it down its back again
And I lie here in bed
All alone
I can't mend, but I feel
Tomorrow will be okay

But I'm on the outside
I'm looking in
I can see through you
See your true colors
Cause inside you're ugly
You're ugly like me
I can see through you
See to the real you

Later that night, as Buffy and Giles lay in bed together, he told her everything. He told her how much he had loved her, how much he had hated her when she had died, the way he treated their friends, the way he treated himself and the things he had done to Dawn. He couldn't keep anything from her now. He was surprised how quickly she forgave him. She kissed him for a while, then looked into his eyes and said, "I love you and I would forgive you for anything. If it was you that had died, I would have acted the same way. I would have been lost without you. Just promise me something?"

"What's that, Luv?"

"Promise me you'll never leave me. Never let go of me."

He wrapped his arms tightly around her, pulling her close to his chest where she snuggled in. "I promise!" She kissed him again and he said, "Do you think we should wake up Dawn to tell her you're back?"

Buffy giggled and it was a beautiful sight, "I think she knows already. You see, these walls aren't very thick." They snuggled into each other and slept the night away peacefully, without a care in the world. As he woke, Giles had one thought: all this was possible because of an epiphany, he sent a silent thank you to no one in particular, thanking them for giving him his life back.

The End.


* This line was kind of borrowed from an episode of Roseanne. I liked it so much I had to use it.