Goodbye to You
By Miss Witch

Title: Goodbye to You
Author: Miss Witch
Email: misswitch@qwest.net
Rating: PG-13 (language)
Summary: Alternate ending to Tabula Rasa.
Disclaimer: I own nothing. Not even my car. BtVS belongs to Joss (all hail), Mutant Enemy (grrr argh), Fox, UPN, WB…. whoever. Basically, it belongs to someone who is not me, no matter how much I whine and beg.
Spoilers: Season 6, through Tabula Rasa.
Distribution: Just ask. If it helps, I'm going to say yes. I just like the thrill of knowing someone wants it.
Feedback: Pretty please. Especially if you've got good things to say.
Notes: While technically this is not a song fic, it was written while listening to Michelle Branch's song "Goodbye to You." repeatedly. For full effect, it helps to have the song playing in the background while reading this.

For Sav, so she has something to read!!


The minute Xander stepped on the quartz crystal it happened.

"Don't mess with Joan the va…" Buffy's words trailed off as the memories came rushing back. In seconds, her entire life flashed before her eyes. And just like that, she remembered being in heaven and being torn out of it.

Distracted, she never saw the punch coming. It knocked her to the ground, where she lay motionless, panting to catch her breath. The vampire stood over her grinning. He kicked her in the stomach a couple of times for good measure. Buffy barely felt it. Because she had remembered.

She'd remembered that Giles was leaving her.

Giles was leaving her and there was nothing she could do, nothing she could stay to make him stay.

Above her, Spike… Yes, Spike not Randy, was battling the other vampires, slamming them together. They landed on the ground near her and he staked them quickly.

<God, Giles was leaving> she thought, oblivious to the conversation Spike was now having with the shark-headed demon. <Damn it, I am not going to cry> she demanded of herself.

Spike's hand appeared in front of her. Buffy stared at it for a moment, then scrambled to her feet on her own. She glared at him for a moment, then stalked off without a word.

Giles studiously sweeping the floor near the bookcase. <Good lord, I can't believe I was kissing Anya of all people.> Yet, he'd known, deep down that it was wrong. That he was kissing the wrong person. Engaged or not, there had been no passion in the kiss between him and Anya. And now, well, now, just one more piece of guilt to heap onto the pile.

Guilt was something that Giles had gotten used to. Guilt that he sent a young girl out into the night to battle God knew what. Guilt that he'd been part of stealing Buffy's youth, that he'd outlived her, that he'd been overjoyed that she was alive, even knowing that she'd been in heaven. The guilt of loving Buffy.

And now the guilt of leaving Buffy.

Giles had wracked his brain for another solution to this. Buffy had been so distant. Every time he'd tried to reach out to her, she'd pulled away, physically and emotionally. Yet she expected him to do all the dirty work, pay the bills, discipline Dawn. Giles just couldn't do it any more.

It seemed so selfish, but Giles needed more. He needed more from life than just being the heavy. He needed more from Buffy. If she'd just shown him the tiniest bit of affection he might've stayed. But while he was yelling at Dawn, she was out drinking with Spike.

Spike!

Bitterness filled Giles. First Angel and now Spike. It was more than any man could take. He is mocked for even the slightest inking of being too old to have a romantic involvement, and yet Buffy involves herself with creatures over a century old.

It was the unfairness of it that was driving him away.

Because he'd seen… God, he'd seen it. He'd followed Buffy out of the warehouse, the remnant of Sweet's spell compelling him to confess his love to Buffy. Instead, he'd seen her kiss Spike.

Every man had his breaking point. And that kiss had been Giles'.

Giles glanced at his watch and sighed. He'd best be off to gather his things so that he could be in time to catch his flight.

"I'd best be off." he told Anya stiffly. "I will call you when I reach England." Anya looked up and nodded.

"Yes, fine. You do that." she said. "I will tell the others that you've gone."

Giles nodded sadly. There was very little chance that he'd actually have a chance to personally say goodbye to the children. Or to say goodbye to Buffy for that matter.

"Goodbye Anya." he said sadly, as he propped the broom in the corner. Silently, he picked up his jacket and left the store. Anya watched him leave.

"Good luck Giles" she whispered as the door closed behind him.

 
Buffy sat at the bar at the Bronze. Behind her, the band wailed a sad song about love and being left behind. <Great. My life now has an accurate soundtrack.> Buffy glanced at her watch. <He's probably heading for the airport right now.> she thought.

<How am I going to live without him?> she wondered. Buffy stared blankly at the wall behind the bar. Tears welled up in her eyes.

<How am I going to live without her?> Giles wondered as he waited in line to board the plane. Slowly, the line moved forward and he found his seat, between other people. He sighed. It was going to be a long trip home.

Buffy sensed him as he came into the Bronze. She just ignored Spike as he walked up to her and stood next to her. Slowly, she turned her head to look at him. She could see the longing in his eyes. He wanted to pick up where their kiss had left off.

Buffy's stomach turned. She had kissed Spike. What had she been thinking? she wondered. With a deep breath, she turned away from him coldly, staring back over the bar.

Out of the corner of her eye, she saw the frustration cross Spike's face. Disgusted, he turned and walked away, leaving her sitting there.

<So, this is what is was going to be like for the rest of her life.> Buffy thought. Alone, with Spike dogging her.

Taking a sip of her drink, Buffy thought back to when she'd first seen Giles after she'd come back from the dead. Her heart had swelled and for a moment, she'd thought it was going to burst. He'd looked so wonderful, standing in the doorway of the Magic Box.

His eyes had been so green, it had been like looking into emeralds. And for a moment, she'd been the old Buffy. She'd stood there, lost in the overwhelming emotions that had flooded through her. Then he'd grabbed her and held her close, and Buffy had known that everything would be ok.

But it hadn't. She'd been so caught up in the misery of having been ripped out of heaven that she hadn't paid attention to him. She'd kept him at arms length, fearing that if he knew the truth, he'd leave. Yet, he was leaving anyway. Just like Riley. He was going to go flying off and leave her.

Being Joan had been wonderful. Buffy had forgotten how wonderful life could be. Buffy frowned. <Life could be wonderful> she admitted, grudgingly. Buffy tapped a finger on the counter, a thought creeping across the edges of her mind.

"Oh God!" she gasped, horrified. "Oh no!" Propping herself on the rungs of her chair, Buffy leaned over the bar and grabbed the phone. Dialing, she waited impatiently for it to be answered on the other end. Finally, Xander picked up his phone.

"Xander, I need your help. I need a ride. No time to explain. I'll meet you halfway." Buffy hung up the phone, and threw some money on the counter. She rushed out of the Bronze, pushing past Spike who was hovering by the door, waiting for her. Spike called after her, but she ignored him, running at top speed toward Xander's.

Xander screeched to a halt as he saw Buffy running up the street toward him. She wrenched open the door and jumped in.

"Airport." she panted. "Now! Go!"

Xander slammed his foot on the gas pedal, tires squealing as he sped toward the highway.

"Not again." Buffy whispered. "I can't be too late again."

****

Xander skidded to a stop outside the British Airways terminal.

"Go!" he told Buffy, who was halfway out of the car. "I'll park and meet you at the gate." Buffy gave him a nod and took off into the building. She paused look at the departure boards. <I have no idea what flight he's on.> she thought in dismay. Buffy ran over to the check-in counter, cutting in front of several waiting people.

"I need to know what flight Rupert Giles is on and when it leaves." she told the uniformed woman behind the counter. The woman gave her a stern look.

"I'm sorry miss, I can't give you that information." she told Buffy. Buffy leaned over the counter, grabbed the woman by the front of her shirt and pulled her close so that they were face to face.

"Look, I don't have time for this. He's going to leave me and I can't allow that. Rupert Giles, what flight?" Buffy growled, dropping the woman back to her feet. Eyes wide, the woman quickly tapped some keys on the computer.

"Flight 1456, gate 12. But it's scheduled to leave in 10 minutes."

"Which way?" Buffy demanded. The woman pointed to her left and Buffy started running. She dodged people milling about with suitcases, and outran one of the trams carrying people to their gates. The entire time, one thought echoed through her brain. <I can't lose him. I can't lose him.>

Turning a corner, Buffy slid to a halt. The line through the metal detectors was obscenely long. There was no way she could get through the line in less then 10 minutes. <I don't have time for this.> she decided. Taking a deep breath, Buffy sprinted toward the detectors. Before anyone could realize what she was doing, she had hopped up and over them, and was dashing away on the other side. After a moment of stunned silence, several security guards took off after her.

Buffy could hear the security guards thundering behind her, shouting at her to stop, as she ran past gates. <9… 10… 11… 12> she counted. Buffy slid around the corner to the waiting area for gate 12. The staff was just shutting the door to the gate.

"NO!" Buffy yelled. Startled, they held the door just long enough to slip through. Ahead of her, she could see the open door to the plane, and behind her she could hear security getting the door open to follow.

"Giles!" Buffy screamed as she neared the plane. "Giles don't leave me!"

Giles had dropped his head on the airplane seat, closing his eyes as he waited for the plane to take off. <Weren't they ever going to take off?> he wondered. The flight was long enough without having to spend hours sitting at the gate. He just wanted to the plane to take off. The longer he sat here, the more he questioned the wisdom of his decision. He couldn't help but think of the consequences of what he was doing. To himself and to Buffy. The temptation to say "Fuck it." and get off the plane and head back to her

Suddenly, his eyes snapped open and he sat up in his seat. He could've sworn he'd heard his name called. He listened hard, trying to block the sounds of the people around him.

"Let go of me!" the loud female voice reverberated through the plane. "Giles, where are you? Damn it, let go!" There were sounds of a struggle and the voice grew louder, a voice that sounded like Buffy.

"Giles, please be on this plane." it called. <It couldn't be Buffy> Giles thought. <It just couldn't.> Still, Giles slowly stood and excused himself to his seat partner.

"Giles, I love you." The statement was punctuated by the sound of punching and kicking.

"Buffy?" Giles yelled. He ran toward the first class cabin. Pushing back the curtain, he saw Buffy in the front of the plane, two rather battered looking security guards trying to drag her away.

Buffy shook them off when she saw him. She ran down the narrow aisle and grabbed him in a fierce embrace.

"Please don't go." she whispered, looking up at him. "I understand now." she told him. "When I was Joan, I was more me than I've been in a long time. Because I forgot to lie to myself while I was Joan." she murmured.

Around them, every one was staring, watching the drama with fascination. Several of the passengers had grabbed the security guards so they couldn't get Buffy. The plane had grown silent so that everyone could hear what was going on.

Giles noticed none of it. Right now, his whole world was Buffy. He lifted a hand to her cheek, caressing it.

"I'm so sorry." Buffy whispered, closing her eyes at his touch. "I'm sorry I pushed you away. I was sitting at the Bronze, feeling sorry for myself, thinking about how you were flying off just like Riley. And I realized that it wasn't like Riley. This was a hundred times worse, because I didn't love Riley. But I do love you. And not in that father-daughter way. Please stay. Please don't leave me. Give me another chance."

Buffy's speech came out in a rush, as if she was afraid that if she didn't say it quickly, she'd never be able to say it.

"Buffy…" Giles started.

"Good God man!" someone called from the back of the plane. "Kiss her already." Buffy gave a sniffling kind of laugh as Giles smiled. Slowly, so that she could pull away if she wanted to, Giles bent down and covered Buffy's lips with his own. Buffy wrapped her arms around his neck and returned the kiss in earnest.

Applause burst out and several people gave wolf whistles as the kiss grew deeper. Even security was clapping.

Reluctantly, Giles pushed Buffy away.

"We should probably let these people leave. We have a lot to talk about, and we don't want to hold them up." Giles said. Buffy nodded, looking a little embarrassed at the people clapping around her.

"I'm really sorry." Buffy told the flight attendants and security. "But I couldn't let him go." Behind her, Giles was pulling his bag down from the overhead compartment, and getting several slaps of congratulations on the back.

Hand in hand, they made their way off the plane and up the jet way. Buffy stopped just as they passed through the door.

"Giles, I have to tell you. I kissed Spike." she murmured, looking at the floor.

"I know." Giles said. "And I have to tell you, I kissed Anya while our memories were gone." Buffy looked at him with wide eyes.

"Oh, we better not tell Xander that." she laughed. Giles smiled in relief, and pulled her into his arms.

"I love you, Buffy." he whispered against her hair. Buffy's heart swelled at his words. Standing up on her tiptoes, Buffy captured her lips with hers.

Around them, people came and went. Some rushing to their flights, others greeting loved ones who'd just arrived. The world carried on. Except for Buffy and Giles. For them, the world stood still. And finally, for Buffy, she found the one thing that made living bearable.

She had found heaven on earth in Giles' arms.

When Xander arrived at gate 12, he found them like that, wrapped in each other's arms. Smiling, he sat in one of the chair in the waiting area. He saw no reason to interrupt.

He could wait.