My Only Hate, My Only Love
By Darcy Galvan

Title: My Only Hate, My Only Love
Author: Darcy Galvan
Rating: R--warning, very dark. Character death
Spoilers: The Gift...kind of?
Summary: What if The Gift had gone down another way. The way Buffy feared.
Disclaimer: Unh uh. Nope. No way Jose. BTVS characters arenít mine. They belong to Joss (though we sometimes doubt his guidance skills*G*) whom we love.
Authorís note: I have NO idea where this came from. I guess I just didnít want to write one that followed the story line. Yeah! My muse is back. I thought she was dead. Maybe she was just comatose. Hope you enjoy (though it wonít be in a happy way if you do happen to enjoy it...eeesh.)

"Iím sorry, Dawn." I still wonder if she ever heard those words. Or was her terror and disbelief so great that they didnít register?. Did she hear and understand? How could she understand that? Someone she knew, someone sheíd grown to care about and who cared about her. I couldnít believe it. I didnít understand.

How did he get the pistol sized tranquilizer gun. Had he known? Been planning since heíd found out that Dawn was the Key and that the only way to save the world was to stop her blood? I donít know and I donít care. All I care is that he had the gun. That he had the dart with just enough liquid to snuff out a life way too soon. And all I care is that I ran up the stairs a second too late but just in time to hear those words and to see his finger twitch. To hear the click and watch my sister crumple, her face full of disbelief, fear, hate, and even worse, regret and love.

Did she hear me scream? See me run past Giles without even seeing him. No, she was already gone. Dead. Like my mother. Like I should have been. Like he should have been. I donít think Giles said anything. He just turned and walked down the stairs. He was almost down when he heard my scream of rage and loss and I bolted down those stairs. Heíd had two flights to go, but hate propelled me so fast heíd barely made it down and a few feet across the ground when he felt me plow into him. When I hit him and kicked him and spit in his face, pounded his body against the ground. Iíd never heard words so hateful come out of my mouth. I canít even remember, but I know that Iíd never even thought to say anything like that until that moment.

He was bleeding and silent. I didnít register the tears on his cheeks until later or the terrible blankness of his face. All the emotion was in his eyes. A horrid deep, dark mix of terror and pain and sorrow, anguish and every other harsh and wrenching word that is on some page of the dictionary. I didnít care. All I cared was that she was dead. My sister, my only family that mattered, dead by the hand of one of my dearest friends. Heíd betrayed me once and this was fateís punishment for not learning the lesson the first time. My penance for giving my trust back to a murderer.

Tara just cried, limp on the ground. Anya unconscious. I heard Willow screaming for me to stop, crying, begging, asking why.

"You tell them, Giles!" I screamed into his face, spittle flying. "You tell them that you killed my sister. That you killed my baby sister because you were too weak and selfish and cruel to fight! TELL THEM!!" I heard Willow gasp Dawnís name. My senses were strong, all on a rage filled high. I felt her fall, smelled her tears and heard her heart pound. And I felt Xander pull at me, but one well placed punch put him out of commission. I sat on Gilesí chest and growled into his battered face that I hated him and wished him dead. He just looked back at me and mouthed the words "Iím sorry." When I saw that I wanted to kill him. I held his chin with my hand. It would have been so easy, so simple to snap that fragile neck. You normally donít think bones are so fragile, you think of them as strong, but thatís their genius. They support so fully, so strongly and you trust them, but theyíre so delicate that they crumble so completely and easily. His chin always looked so strong; it would have been like cracking eggs for a batter. His neck, his spine; like snapping a pencil in irritation. But I didnít. I held his face, so close to mine and breathed hard, my body shuddering, still aching for the feeling of pounding fists and feet into his flesh. I held his face for a moment, then got up and strode out of the lot, out of the nightmare.

Soon I was inside my home. It used to be our home. Three bodies sharing this space. Now it was me. It was too big, too hollow and cold. I wasnít staying. I just knew it in that instant when I picked up the vase in the hall and threw it against the wall. The shattering sound released a burst of pain and it felt good in that horrible way that canít be explained. It doesnít alleviate the ache, the terror, the rage. It doesnít cure you, but for a moment, your emotion has a direction, a purpose. Youíre there to destroy and when you do, you have fulfilled your reason. The table was destroyed. I punched a hole in the wall. Part of the banister disintegrated under my hand. I spent that night, curled on the couch where my mother had died and I wished that I could die there too. In death I could connect with her through the last spot where she lived. And in death I would connect with my family again. I could be whole. Though I lay there the whole night, wishing that my lungs would halt, that my heart wouldnít pump, that I wouldnít feel anymore, I never moved. So close there was a kitchen housing sharp bladed, solid handled knives with which I could reach my goal. A bathroom that still held all of the pills from momís last weeks here. Still some wine in the house. Combine them and I could easily end the pain. But I didnít move. I just cried. Slept. Survived.

With the dawn came calmness. Not a relief, but a dry period. I had no more tears. I had no more energy. I rose and brushed my teeth, took a shower and made myself breakfast. I took four aspirin because my face hurt so badly from my clenched jaw. But I couldnít and wouldnít release it. I knew they would come soon.

They came together. Anya was in the hospital, and Taraís hand was recasted from their late night visit to the ER. But Willow, Tara and Xander stood on my doorstep, silent and pale. Questions holding their bodies rigid. I just turned and walked back into the kitchen. They followed me, still silent. Then Willow spoke.

"Dawnie..." the word choked off in a sob and I felt something in me stir. Xander reached out to me, touched me. I wanted to flinch away from the too-heavy touch, but I couldnít. When his hand closed over my shoulder, he cried. Then I knew what I felt again. My heart. I grasped at Xanderís arm as I fell to the floor, sobbing again, the tears tearing at my already raw throat. I screamed for my sister, for my mother, for myself and my loss. I choked and gagged, wailed when my friends circled me with their bodies and with their love. One strong presence was missing and I needed it even as I hated it with everything that I was. He was my rock, my comfort. Heíd held me up and he should have been on that floor, completing the circle of loss. But he had caused this, he was the reason, the killer, my one and only hate and my one and only love. So I set fire to my heart, built up my pain at the betrayal as kindling. Fed it with rage, hatred, loss, confusion and loneliness. I tried to sear him out.

I cried out my hate for him and Xander held me tighter. Telling me he knew, he knew. But he didnít. How could he. No one knew. Even I didnít understand. I just felt. I was no longer a creature of logic, of reason. I was a creature of emotion. Action and reaction and instinct. Did they hate him too? Did they understand why it happened? Why he did what he did? Why Giles killed Dawn?

I donít know when they left. I kept slipping in and out. I would feel and see and hear, and then there was darkness and I would rise from the numbness and unconsciousness and find that time had slipped by so fast.

I didnít see Giles in the crowd at Dawnís funeral. I would have noticed, it was a small crowd. Many students had wanted to come, but I only let in relatives and her two closest friends. Much as at Momís funeral, I remained standing by the grave until it was dark, my eyes running over and over those little black letters and that dirty outline that were the sum of a human life. How could a little rock, some letters and a pile of dirt be all that was left of a living breathing person who laughed and cried? Had friends, enemies, loved purple, romantic comedies and action movies. Hated curfew and had gotten three Bís on her last report card? I wondered if she had a soul. Sheíd seemed to. Her body remained even in death. Was that green energy that she was supposedly made up of out there somewhere? Was it stuck in some cosmic keyhole? Bull shit. She wasnít a fucking key. She wasnít somebodyís means to an end. She was my sister. I was there when Mom and Dad brought her home. Iíd taken care of her and hated her at times, yelled at her and even hit her once before I knew I was the Slayer and could have killed her. Iíd loved her.

I sat down in the nighttime shadow of a tree. In my dark clothes, the only thing to give me away was my pale skin and hair. I almost disappeared from the visible world. Almost.

I saw him come. Heard his familiar footsteps before I saw him. That shape I knew so well stopped a few feet away. A breeze kicked up momentarily and I caught his scent. Iíd known that scent. It pulled at me and repelled me. The comfort it had always and somehow still offered; and the pain it now signified. I felt the emotions building, tightening my chest, but I held it for a few moments. I watched him and in the moonlight, I almost let myself forgive that gentle face again. I remembered training with him, laughing with him, sometimes at him and even the few, quiet, personal and truthfully emotional moments weíd shared. I waited with tight lips holding in my breath, not moving, for once I disturbed this dream, I knew that no matter what love my damn heart refused to give up would be blinded by the rage that I felt building. A tear rolled down my cheek.

He moved forward again and stretched out a hand toward the carved letters of her name and the moment was gone.

"Donít you touch her," I growled low in my throat. "Donít get near her!" I sped forward and slapped his hand away, putting my body between hers and his. She had already been at his mercy once and I wasnít going to allow it again.

"Buffy," Giles breathed. My name on his lips burned me and I cringed.

"You have no right to be here. Get out. Get the hell out of our lives!"

"Buffy, I know you hate me."

"You know I hate you?" I asked in breathless disbelief. "You killed my sister Giles. Hate canít even touch what Iím feeling."

"Buffy, I had to. You know this. But I know that you wonít--"

"Wonít what? Forgive you? Youíre damn right. Or maybe you were going to say I wonít understand. Also true. What were you going to say, Giles? Huh? Youíve usually got the words," I sneered. "So many books, so much knowledge. Itís gotta have been something good. Was it going to make me feel better? Was it going to make me see your point of view? Or was it just going to make *you* feel better? Relieve your guilt because you know you were wrong."

"Buffy, it was the only wa--"

"Killing her was the only way? Sacrificing an innocent life? I told you that you werenít to touch her!" I screamed, pointing my shaking finger in his face.

"And I told you that I was going to do whatever I had to!" he shouted back.

"Weíre supposed to protect the innocent!" I sobbed, still half screaming. The tears ripped at my words, shredding them and leaving them wet and gravelly. "*She* was an innocent. She was *the* innocent. She was barely a year old. Dawnie hadnít even begun to live. There was so much more she had to *really* experience, not just what some fucking monk put into her head. Our heads. They messed with us." I was shaking so badly that I couldnít stand. My legs gave way and I was on the ground, crying so hard I couldnít see. I could only hear him breathing hard and hear my heart pounding out pain and revenge. "Why couldnít they just leave her alone? They created her and didnít care that she could feel but that she could die. Why would they do that? Make something to experience pain. If they wanted their fucking key they should have protected it themselves!!"

"I loved her too, Buffy," Giles said, his words raw and tight.

I felt the rage, but it wouldnít come through the tears. "If you loved her, you wouldnít have killed her."

"I did love her. But I loved all of you too. I loved Xander and Willow and Anya and Tara. The world. It was my duty to protect the world, yours too. I loved you. I loved Dawn," he said through clenched teeth, emphasizing each of his words with a hard punch of his finger in the air, "but *I* *had* *to*. I had to sacrifice her to save the others. You hate me, but I hate myself too. Every night Iíve felt it. Felt the guilt and loathing, but I did what I had to do. I know youíre not going to forgive me. You loved her too deeply to forgive me. I betrayed you and I know that. You gave me your trust and I betrayed you and killed the thing you held above all else. I understand that. I just hope that you can understand *me*. I donít expect forgiveness. I donít even expect understanding. I just hope for it. Pray for it."

"Understanding?" I queried thickly. "Understanding for a murderer." He closed his eyes at the words and I knew heíd felt them throughout his being. Iíd felt them too. I felt dirty saying the words, felt pain, and I wanted to smile.

"And I came to say good bye." I looked up sharply at those words.

"Good bye?"

"Iím leaving for England in two hours. I canít stay here and I donít think you want me too either. The others said they didnít want me to go, but I know they were just saying that. Maybe they donít hate me quite the same as you, but I know they couldnít see me and not see what I did. So Iíll be going back. The Watchers are accepting my return, but I know Iíll never get another Slayer. Doesnít matter." He said these words and another piece of me ripped away. I knew why it didnít matter though he hadnít spoken it out loud. Heíd been fired because they said he cared too much and he stayed because he really did. Heíd never have the emotional ability to be Watcher to another Slayer. To some men, being a Watcher entailed no emotion, but to him, it was always connected, though he adamantly denied that in the beginning. The title was now too intertwined with me, Iíd seen that much in his eyes. It wasnít only his desire not to lose a Slayer that kept him so rabid in his work, it was his desire not to lose me. Iíd seen that the night we first spoke of my death, of how heíd feel when I was gone. I saw it in his eyes, his deep fear of losing me.

I didnít reply to his statement and I saw him standing strong against my rejection. I wanted to hurt him, hurt him as much as heíd hurt me. But I was scared. He was going. I hadnít wanted to see his face Iíd thought. But with him really going...Iíd somehow assumed that even in my hatred, heíd be there to focus my pain on. Another tear rolled town my cheek. I suddenly knew that Iíd never wanted him to go. Iíd always wanted a piece of him there, for even though Iíd hate him, never forgive him, wish terrible unspeakable things on him, the fact that he was there would sustain me, soothe the final rational part of me. His presence, no matter how hated, would keep me alive because of the deep love it had once been.

He knelt in front of me, looking over my shoulder at the first three letters of his victimís name. I knew that he loved her, I knew that he hated himself. It would never change things.

"Iím so sorry, Buffy, know that. And know that I love you too. I betrayed you both in the most terrible way, but I loved you." He reached out his hand to touch my face and I slapped it away. Tears formed in his eyes. he reached out again and I slapped his cheek. Again he tried. I punched him. Screamed at him. A trickle of red snaked down his chin and he reached out again, never giving up on me, needing to show me. His face was wet and twisted in terrible pain. This time, his hand made contact with my skin and I could no longer dredge up the strength. I couldnít fight the need no matter how I tried. My heart cried out for him, and in our last moments together, I couldnít deny the need. I fell against his chest, sobbing, my fingers digging into his sides. He didnít even flinch, though I knew my strength caused him great pain. He wrapped his arms around me in a grip nearly as strong as mine. I felt his tears on my head and his love in my heart. His warmth and strength surrounded me and I let myself love him one more time. His body shook with sobs and unspoken things as we held each other. Donít go! I wanted to cry. My flesh called out for him and my blood sang his name, but the dark part of me pulled more strongly. The cold stone behind me and unfeeling dirt beneath me spoke of the girl heíd murdered, the trust that he had killed and I knew that I would let those win.

"I have to go," he said softly, knowing that I wouldnít stop him. He stroked my cheek with his rough hand, the hand that had ended our lives, and I kissed him with everything that I used to feel, letting it all rest, letting him go. He closed his eyes and responded. Almost as soon as it had begun, his lips left mine and he rose. I didnít cling, I merely pulled my hands back into my lap, my body still warm from his touch. "Good bye." And he was gone. A small part of me, the child, cried for him somewhere deep inside, but soon the child faded away and all that was left was cold. I didnít call him back, we both knew I wouldnít and so separated without expectation, without false hope, but without angry words. I could never forgive him, never let him hold a place in my life again, but our past together had been too important.

I never spoke with him again, never saw him again. Though I remained a Slayer, he died before me, which I found odd. It wasnít anything supernatural, wasnít an illness. It was just a freak accident. I guess he was on museum business in India when an earthquake struck. His car was crushed under a falling building. He was killed instantly, Iím told. I didnít cry, but I found the child again, and that little voice inside me wailed, high and piteous, wrenching. He left me one thing, the onyx pinkie ring he always wore. I opened the letter from his sister--I hadnít known heíd had any living relatives--telling me the details of his death. Heíd kept the address of my apartment in his desk and sheíd found it among his journals. She told me that she knew of his Slayer, of me. And that I was very important to him, though heíd never said much. When I opened the little brown box sheíd sent it in, I put it on. It fit only my index finger.

I still wear it. Sometimes I want to take it off, but I always look at that scratched surface with a hairline crack running through it--from the accident, I imagine, because it used to be so meticulously smooth--and I leave it on. Iím not exactly sure why, but I still need to remember my only hate and my only love.