If I Should Die Tonight
By Dusty

Author: Dusty
Title: If I Should Die Tonight
Distribution: U want it? Take it. Let me know-I want conjugal visits
Disclaimer: Joss is ruler of all that is Buffy.
Spoilers: Light of Day
Feedback: Always a good thing and it makes me a happy camper—only without the actual camping part.
Dedication: To all the passengers and family members of flight 990—who have sadly taught us, just how precious life is and how quickly it can be taken.

Note: The poem has long been a favorite of mine. When I finished this story, I needed a title.  Then I remembered this poem, and it seemed quite fitting.  I tried to choose just one verse, but couldn’t. So I put it at the end, in case you have no interest in reading it what-so-ever. But it really is a good one–so read it anyway. :)


"God Giles! What the hell is your problem? Why does this bother you so much? I just don’t get it!"

"Really? You have once again let Angels’ well-being take precedence over the safety of the entire world, and you don’t understand why I might be just a tad upset?"

The two of them stood in his condo, glaring at one another. The others had already left, and Oz had taken the ring with him. "Angel is helping people Giles. With the ring he’ll be able to help even more. He’ll be able to fight anything!"

"Right! And if he just happens to lose his soul again? What then, hmmm? It’s happened before, and very nearly happened again two Christmases ago. Or have you conveniently forgotten about that? Yes . . . wouldn’t that just be lovely? One of the most vile and dangerous creatures to have ever walked the Earth . . . impervious to harm. You’ll forgive me if I don’t frolic about with a song in my heart and good cheer to all over this."

"Then why didn’t you stop me? Why not just say no?"

"Forbid you from it? Yes, I’m sure that would have worked." The sarcasm in his voice was unmistakable. "Besides Buffy, as you said yourself, you’re an adult now. I may not always be around to tell you what to do. You must learn to make responsible decisions on your own. But you obviously can’t get past your schoolgirl fantasies of him. You let him drain you—very nearly kill you at a time when we all needed you the most. Not just because of the Mayor Buffy." He added before she could respond. "Because you mean a great deal to all of us. And yet, you were willing to throw away your life because of him! You were prepared to throw away your life for someone who has lived several lifetimes. And the selfish bastard let you do it! So you’ll excuse me if I don’t feel that he has deserved such a gift!" He fell silent for a moment before looking away. "In any event . . . what’s done is done. Now if you’ll excuse me Buffy, I would like to get some rest."

"So . . . what Giles? You’ve had your say and now out with me? I don’t get to have my say in the matter?"

"You’ve had your say Buffy. Angel is getting the ring. End of discussion."

"No way Giles, I—"

He turned on her with an anger she had never seen. Not when it was directed at her anyway. "This conversation is over!!" He took a deep breath, his flashing eyes never leaving her, and added, "Please leave Buffy."

She stood in shock for a moment before angrily throwing open the door. She paused as she left, turning around to face him. "I love him Giles." The rage in her own voice was clearly evident. "And right now I’m beginning to wonder why I even come to you anymore. Damn you Giles! Damn you to hell! You wouldn’t understand love if it bit you in the ass! You don’t even know what love is!" With that, she slammed the door behind her and headed home.

Giles stood quietly staring at the door. Slowly he bowed his head and closed his eyes. "No Buffy . . . that’s where you’re wrong."

****

A week went by, and Buffy never once called Giles or stopped by. Which was fine with him really, he still wasn’t much in the mood to see her either. He would call Xander or Willow . . . or sometimes even Joyce to see how Buffy was doing. She had hurt him and he was still angry, but he had to know that she was alright. Buffy on the other hand had decided that her life was much better off without him. If he couldn’t accept what she felt for Angel, then he never really knew her at all. He obviously didn’t understand what it was to love someone . . . to give of yourself for someone else. He didn’t know what it was like to care so deeply for someone that you would do anything to protect them. She was doing a good thing . . . she was being selfless and helping someone who she cared more about then life itself . . . Giles would never understand that.

In any event, it was Friday night, and the gang was planning an evening of fun at The Bronze. She was looking forward to it as she got ready, rifling for the hundredth time through her wardrobe. Willow had already left, mildly complaining that Buffy took way too much time to choose an outfit. Xander had told them that he would meet them there. When she finally decided on something, she quickly got dressed and headed out of the dorm.

****

Giles was sitting at home reading. He got a sudden craving for ice cream, and when he found that he had none, he decided to head out to the store. It wasn’t quite dark yet, so one of the local quick marts would still be open. He grabbed his keys and jacket and headed out the door.

He was driving along at a casual pace, not in a terrible hurry to get to the store, only to go back home to his empty place. Truth be told, he missed having all the kids hanging out at his place. He looked away from the road for only a second. When he turned back to the road, he saw a small child dashing across the road, his horrified mother not far behind. Giles slammed on his breaks and . . . nothing! He reached to the emergency brake and pulled, as he yanked the steering wheel to the left.

****

Buffy strolled along the sidewalk without a worry or care. It was still light, and the vamps wouldn’t be out for several hours. She always wondered why the vamps weren’t more anxious to get out at night . . . instead, they all seemed to be late sleepers. Note to self, she thought, becoming a vampire makes you lazy. She heard a car coming from behind and automatically turned to see it as it passed. The old brown Citron was a bit hard to mistake, and seeing it only reminded her of their conversation last week. She silently cursed at him for being so callous and cruel. What a jerk! He hasn’t even tried to apologize. He doesn’t even care about me. Suddenly she heard an ear-piercing screech and looked up to see the Citron veering to the left and suddenly flipping over . . . and over, until it finally connected with a lamp post. She stood frozen for a moment with her eyes wide in horror. She shook herself out of it and ran to the car. She couldn’t see the drivers side from her angle, and couldn’t see Giles for all the smoke and dirt in the air caused by the accident.

As suddenly as it had all began, it came to a climatic end with the car suddenly catching fire and then a large explosion toward the back of the car. "Giles!!" She continued to run toward the car, black smoke now billowing into the sky. Her stomach was in knots the size of boulders. She couldn’t believe what she had just seen—there was no way he could have gotten out in time. And the last words she had said to him were ones of hate . . . their last conversation, a fight. She suddenly regretted every word she had said to him, and couldn’t even remember why she was so angry with him. All she could remember now was his kind face looking down on her with compassion on so many occasions. She remembered all the things he had done for her . . . even the things she knew must have caused him pain. Helping Angel, time and again.

She got as near to the car as she dared, trying to peer in and see him—but not really wanting to. She hoped like hell that he had been killed on impact, and wasn’t burning to death. She didn’t hear any cries of pain, but it would be so like that stubborn S.O.B. to hold it in, even at a time like this. Oh God! Not Giles, she screamed inside her head. Please God anyone but Giles! You can’t take him away from me—not him! Oh God, please not him! She had tears streaming down her face, and she was vaguely aware that she was screaming his name out loud. She had no idea if she was even standing. This just couldn’t be happening.

Then she heard it . . . a slight moan . . . so low, that she couldn’t even be sure she heard it at all. She rounded the corner, and there she saw someone slouched against the side of a building. She couldn’t make out who it was for all the smoke in the air. She began to walk toward it in an almost jerky manor. She was shaking so hard, she was doing well to be moving at all. As she got closer, she thought she recognized the form there. She wanted so much for it to be Giles. She wanted to run to him, but couldn’t seem to make her legs obey. When she finally reached him, she looked down. It was indeed a man, and looking a bit worse for wear. Slowly the man lifted his face to her, a look of confusion and agony written in every feature. It was him . . . It was her Giles. She fell to her knees crying, her body convulsing with all the emotions raging through her. She reached a shaky hand out to him, but afraid to touch him . . . afraid of hurting him. Or worse yet, afraid that he would just be a figment of her half-crazed imagination.

"Buffy . . ." His voice was barely more than a painful whisper. He reached his hand out just enough to grasp the tips of her fingers. But it was enough . . . it proved that he was here, that he was real and he was alive.

She moved to kneel beside him, careful not to touch him for fear of causing more injury. But, she gently cupped his face and wiped some of the blood from his brow. "Oh God Giles, I-I-I thought . . . I thought I lost you. Oh God, I’m so sorry for the other day. I’m sorry for all the things I said. I-I don’t know why I gave Angel the ring. I don’t know why I keep hurting you." In his state, Giles couldn’t have stopped her from rambling on if he wanted to. And to be honest, he didn’t really want her to. He wanted to hear that he meant something to her. "God Giles, you mean more to me then he ever could. I’m so sorry. I never meant to hurt you. I can’t lose you. You can’t leave me. I need you. And I-I-I think . . . God Giles, I think I might just love you more than anything else in this whole wide world." She thought for a moment at what she had just said, and it hit her. She did love him . . . she was in love with him . . . had been for some time. She thought back to when she begged God to take anyone but him and realized that what she was really asking was that it be Angel instead. That although she didn’t wish him any harm, Angel wasn’t really alive, and that if he were to perish, it wouldn’t be nearly as painful as losing Giles. She didn’t want to lose either one, but if she had to choose . . . she would choose Giles. From now on, she would always choose Giles. She could hear the sirens in the background, and thanked the Heavens that someone had the sense to call . . . since she had obviously let that important little errand slip by. But no more. Never again would she let this man down, and she had to let him know how she felt. Just in case she thought. Then shivering from it. "I love you Giles." His eyes met hers with something akin to total shock. "Do you hear me? I love you. And I don’t care if you don’t love me. I just know that I have to tell you because I may never have the . . ." She didn’t want to say chance, because she didn’t want to think about that happening. " . . . courage again. I love you Rupert Giles. And I don’t ever want to lose you. I love you more than anything."

His eyes went from shock to gentle amazement. He had longed so to hear such words from her, but never really thought he would. When she uttered them the first time, he suspected that it was because she was in shock. But when she told him again, he saw the truth in her eyes. It was something she was sure of. He had little strength to move, or even speak, but he wanted to tell her that he felt the same. He wanted to pull her to him and hold her close . . . to ease her pain and her worry . . . to comfort her and tell her that he was going to be alright. He wanted to tell her how much she meant to him, but couldn’t seem to find the energy. He looked deep into her eyes and tried to convey all that he was feeling. "My sweet, sweet slayer." He choked out. "Oh Buffy . . ."

The ambulance arrived, and the paramedics made their way to the couple. One of them gently eased Buffy away and told her that they would take care of him. In no time at all they were wheeling him up to the ambulance, with Buffy hardly inches behind them. They agreed to let her ride along, mostly because she just climbed in without even asking. She sat to his side, laying her hand over his. He just stared up at her in wonderment. Though the drugs they were pumping into him probably didn’t help the dazed look or the intense emotions he was feeling. He felt a tear roll quietly down his cheek, and reached his fingers up as best he could, to grasp at hers. They held on tightly as the ambulance sped toward the hospital. The paramedics had told them both that he was in no real danger. He would be spending some time in the hospital, but that was nothing new to either of them.

He tried to speak, but found it a tad difficult with the blasted oxygen mask pumping away. He craned his neck in an attempt to get the dreaded thing off. He had to tell her. She had to know. Just in case he didn’t have the . . . courage later. One of the paramedics pulled it away just enough for him to speak. He looked into her eyes and squeezed her fingers. "I love you." Was all he said, then the paramedic replaced the mask. He struggled to get it off again . . . to tell her more. His eyes were desperate.

Buffy reached down and brushed her lips to his brow, then moved so her face was just above his and smiled tenderly. "Shhh . . . it’s alright." She brought up a hand to stroke his hair. "It’s alright. I know." She kissed his forehead again and with a wicked look, smiled back down at him. "Now be a good little boy for these nice men Mr. Giles. And let’s try not to be too horrible to the hospital staff this time, hmmm?" He merely raised an eyebrow at her, realizing too late just how painful that was at the moment. She bent down so that her lips were touching his ear and whispered so that only he could hear. "If you’re very, very good Mr. Giles . . . I might even give you a cookie."

He smiled at the reference to that first day they had met her "new watcher." That is, until he caught the devilish little gleam in her eye and realized what she really meant by that. Then his eyes got very large, his smile dropped completely and his chest heaved ever so slightly. And the paramedics could have almost sworn they heard a slight . . . growl?

END

IF I SHOULD DIE TONIGHT

    If I SHOULD DIE tonight,
My friends would look upon my quiet face,
Before they laid it in its resting place,
And deem that death had left it almost fair,
And laying snow-white flowers against my hair,
Would smooth it down with tearful tenderness,
And fold my hands with lingering caress–
Poor hands, so empty and so cold tonight!

    If I should die tonight,
My friends would call to mind with loving thought
Some kindly deed the icy hand had wrought;
Some gentle word the frozen lips had said;
Errands on which the willing feet had sped.
The memory of my selfishness and pride,
My hasty words, would all be put aside,
And so I should be loved and mourned tonight.

    If I should die tonight,
Even hearts estranged would turn once more to me,
Recalling other days remorsefully.
The eyes that chill me with averted glance
Would look upon me as of yore, perchance
Would soften in the old familiar way;
For who would war with dumb, unconscious clay?
So I might rest, forgiven of all tonight.

    O friends, I pray tonight
Keep not your kisses for my dead, cold brow;
The way is lonely, let me feel them now.
Think gently of me; I am travel worn;
My faltering feet are pierced with many a thorn.
Forgive, O hearts estranged, forgive, I plead!
When dreamless rest is mine I shall not need
The tenderness for which I long tonight.

Arabella Eugenia Smith

END