Library of Mirrors
By Kathy L.

TITLE: Library of Mirrors
AUTHOR: Kathy L
EMAIL: ladyvorlon@mindspring.com
FEEDBACK: Of course!! Who *wouldn't* want feedback? :)
DISCLAIMER: All hail storymaster Joss, who owns all these characters. I'm just borrowing them for a bit.
DISTRIBUTION: My fic page: http://www.mindspring.com/~kathryn2/ficindex.htm, Rachel Brody's site: http://homes.acmecity.com/buffy/sunburn/96/buffy/themauz.html, and anyone else who'd like it, just ask.
RATING: G
PART: 1/1
SPOILERS: Through "Choices"
SUMMARY: This story is set right before the impending battle in Graduation Day. One thing I always wondered was why Buffy and Co. never get any help from the Watcher's Council in fighting their various demons. Hence, this story.


"It's weird. You look at something and you think you know exactly what you're seeing. And then you find out it's something else entirely."

- Buffy in "Choices"

****

From the diary of Rupert Giles
May 12, 1999

I nearly lost her today. Sometimes I wonder how many more times I will write those five God-forsaken words. I am perpetually terrified that a day will arise when the five will become four. But as is her custom, fate saw fit to intervene this evening, and Buffy escaped with only a minor sprain of the wrist. The events of late have made it even harder to send her into battle, night after night, knowing that her efforts may very well prove to be for naught.

Faith's betrayal was unforeseen, and it shook my faith in everything I am attempting to accomplish here. I had hoped that the simultaneous activation of two slayers would be sufficient to combat whatever the Mayor had in store for us. With the shift in Faith's allegiance, I am at a loss. In some respects, the situation mirrors the return of Angelus: we are doubly weakened, by the loss of an ally and by the acquisition of a formidable enemy. Buffy is still in good spirits, her confidence high in spite of her disagreements with Wesley. I do what I can to foster that confidence, for her own sake. Her trust in me is stronger now than it has ever been, in spite of the Cruciamentum, and at my low points it is the buoy that keeps me from drowning in my own despair. It is for this reason that I can put my own fears aside and do what is necessary to both ensure her safety and wage our nightly wars against the darkness. It is also for this very reason that I cannot bring myself to tell her the truth.

It surprises me that I have been able to carry out this deception for so long. Buffy is a very perceptive and intelligent young woman, and I thought it inevitable that her interests would turn to matters of the Council. Although the situation with Travers did precipitate some discussion on the matter, the subject of my greatest apprehension was never touched upon. In fact, it has been Willow who has kept me sidestepping the issue for some time. Ironically, the only one of them privy to the whole truth is Angel, who, thankfully, learned of my circumstances after his reensoulment. Perhaps it is the wisdom which comes with his experiences, or perhaps he really does have a restored heart, but he has never so much as suggested that I tell her, or any of them, the real truth. The admiration and sympathy in his eyes was an antidote to the condemnation I received from Wesley for standing by just such a decision.

Wesley, in his own logical-yet-emotionally-misguided way, believes that as the Slayer, Buffy should be fully apprised of her situation. I'm sure he somehow envisions that this will only help her be more efficient. I know with every fiber of my being that it would destroy her. I have been more than adamant that he maintain his silence on the matter, and he is, albeit reluctantly, adhering to my wishes. This burden is mine only. She fights the demons, the least I can do is fight the battles with my conscience.

As graduation day approaches, however, the matter weighs more heavily on my shoulders. I am one of only three people who truly understand how dire our circumstances really are. I've begun having nightmares about the war to come, and what scares me the most is not the Mayor, not Faith, not the Mayor's plans for world domination. It's the moment when we are almost completely beaten down and out of hope. When they turn to me and, at last, make a request they've never made before, because there has never been a need. I look into the eyes of these wonderful, courageous young people, and instead of telling them that help is on the way, I must reveal that one, simple horrifying truth: we are alone.

I sometimes wonder if Wesley isn't right about having it out once and for all. But then I think of the extraordinary lengths we have gone to in an effort to build up this protective illusion of the Council. As much as she denounces them, Buffy takes great comfort in the fact that Wesley and I are part of something greater, an entire support structure built around her life's calling. How can I possibly shatter that trust by telling her the truth? That so many so-called Watchers have stopped believing in the ancient prophecies over the years that the Watcher organization now consists not of hundreds of members but of twenty? That their resources are stretched to their limits just trying to identify potential slayers and keep the traditions intact? I can never tell her that we've lost five Slayers in the last twenty years to vampires who preyed upon them before they were taught to use their newfound abilitites. Or that Buffy owes her life not to the Council's efficiency but to Marek's blind luck and his good instincts.

There may come a time, however, when such revelations are inevitable, and I cannot bear to think what will happen then. I can find no words benign enough to keep their faith in me intact, for not only have Watcher numbers dwindled to almost nothing, there is no one left to call on in this fight. Among those that are left, Wesley and I are the last of the true Initiates. These days, the Council no longer has the luxury of recruiting only the best scholars and occultists to its age-old cause. We must take what is available, and train the unqualified the best we can. I disagreed strongly with Quentin's request to send Wesley to Sunnydale, if for no other reason than my foolish hope that he may one day succeed in his effort to bring the Watchers back to full strength--a feat he can certainly not accomplish as a victim of the Hellmouth.

The lies we wrap ourselves in are strange things; they have a tendency to circle back on themselves and reaveal hidden truths. Buffy believes Wesley is my replacement as her Watcher, but in reality, it was the only legitimate way to bring him here for further training, so that he may assume my other office when the time comes. We have kept the Council alive for this long only by keeping at least one strong link in the chain at all times. The time is fast approaching when that link will be Wesley. But he is still too inexperienced, too rigid in his thinking, and too confident in his own abilities to accept help from others. I had hoped his experiences here would change him, but now I am afraid that time is lacking. We have spent many recent nights in the library heatedly arguing about his return to London. As acting Precept, I have ordered him out of harms way, as much for the Council's sake as for his own. But as he frequently points out in his refusal, if we lose the battle with the Mayor, what will his survival matter in the long run?

Ironically, within all of the chaos, there are reasons to have much more hope for the future, should we prevail against the Mayor's legions. Wesley is proving to be quite capable in assuming his duties, and I believe that he is our best hope for the restoration of the Council. Willow is coming into her own as a Wicca, and even at this juncture I can see she will wield great power once her training is completed. Though we differ on many points, Wesley and I do agree that we must find a way to bring her into the Council at the earliest opportunity. Given her wish to attend college in Sunnydale, I don't expect it to be a difficult task. And then there is my Slayer, who is one of only a handful of slayers to see the age of adulthood. I know without a doubt that it is because of her true support structure. Willow, Angel, Xander, and Oz: Watchers in spirit if not in name. Although I encouraged them to follow their dreams, even if it meant leaving Sunnydale, I must admit I am relieved beyond words that the lot of them are staying. I can't imagine Buffy or myself trying to do our jobs without them.

A part of me keeps asking myself, "Will any of this matter one month from now?" We have scoured the library in an effort to find any references to the Mayor's Ascension, but to no avail. This time there are no portents, no prophecies, even in the most detailed manuscripts, and it scares me that in this darkest hour I am left entirely to my own devices. The worst is that they are all looking to me for a solution. I can bear such expectations from the Council; I did, after all, pledge my life to their service. But Buffy and her friends look to me with such innocent trust, such blind faith in my abilities, that the thought of not being able to protect them this time is terrifying. I can only look to the future, and pray I don't let them down.

END