The Promise
By Janine Ose

Title:  The Promise
Author:  Janine Ose
Rating:  PG
Spoilers:  Very minor Graduation 2
Distribution:  B/G Shippers and A Watcher's Love
Disclaimer:  As always nothing in the BTVS universe is mine.  All characters belong to Joss Whedon, 20th Century Fox, WB, and Mutant Enemy.  The song is "You'll Be In My Heart" by Phil Collins, written for the Disney animated film "Tarzan." 
Summary:  Giles let's Buffy know how he feels about her in the aftermath of the Ascension.  And I swear I'm never listening to the damn radio while writing again.  I am sick and tired of these songs jumping out and screaming at me to incorporate them in my fic.  This is the last time, no more, never again! 

As the dust settled and the sun slowly began to return to the sky Buffy watched Angel walk away.  Tears slipped slowly down her cheeks as she watched his retreating back.  He shoved his hands into his pockets and straightened his shoulders, never once looking back at the one he had left behind. Giles cursed under his breath as he watched Buffy cry.  Again, Angel had managed to hurt her again and he searched his mind desperately for some way to possibly ease her pain.  His eyes closed and he swallowed past the lump in his throat as he realized that what he wanted to do he couldn't possibly do at all.  For the first time he began to understand the depth of his feelings for the woman he watched.  His fingers twitched and he clenched his hands by his sides, forcing himself to ignore the thoughts running through his mind.  He wanted nothing more than to hold her, to love her, to make her pain go away.  Sighing, he opened his eyes and took another look at her before turning to silently help with the injured. Angrily wiping away her tears, Buffy turned to help the others. 

She caught sight of Giles as he worked, watching him for a moment as he dug through the rubble, and it struck her then, how much she meant to him.  He was there whenever she needed him, Watcher or not.  Tirelessly he stood by her side, defending her, helping her grow and loving her.  Never asking for anything in return.  She was his world.  And for the first time in three years she finally admitted what her heart had been trying to tell her all along.  He was her world too.  Unbidden, more tears sprang to her eyes and she quickly wiped them away before bending to move aside some of the wreckage that was trapping a student beneath it.  Ignoring the looks she was getting she heaved stone after stone aside until the student was finally free.  Giving him a small smile she assured him that help was on its way and ordered him to stay still before moving on to the next victim, her tears leaving tracks on her dusty cheeks.For hours they dug, silently moving aside the remnants of the school to free those trapped underneath.  Their friends watched, slightly worried at the determination with which they worked.  They registered nothing except the need to ensure that not one person, dead or alive, was left unaccounted for.  Periodically they stopped to take a drink of water that was offered to them but after drinking and taking a moment to look at one another they continued with their task.

Those that were not helping gathered to watch, and wait.  Devon brought Oz his guitar and the two of them sat down to play quietly.  Buffy and Giles slowly worked their way through the rubble, neither of them saying a word to the other, yet unconsciously moving towards one another as they continued to dig.   Drawn together, like moths to a flame, even in a task as deplorable as this one. 

As he tossed aside another piece of stone, it suddenly registered in Giles' mind that he and Buffy were working alone.  Briefly he wondered what had happened to the others but he shoved the thought aside as he caught sight of yet another victim beneath the rubble.

Buffy could feel everyone watching them and hazily acknowledged that Devon and Oz were playing their guitars.  Soft, haunting melodies that mourned those they had lost.  She made no effort to wipe away her tears as she pulled a child from the wreckage, gently laying the broken body aside.  The sound of her sobs caught Giles' attention.  They floated on the breeze, a stirring accompaniment to the melody being coaxed from the instruments that Devon and Oz held.  He glanced at the two boys.  They sat back to back beneath the large oak tree, their eyes closed and heads bowed as their fingers danced over the strings.  The crowd had gathered around them, sitting wherever they found room.  All of the injured had been taken to the hospital and all that remained was the growing pile of broken and battered bodies that he and Buffy had carefully dug from the ruins of the school.  He looked over at her then.  She reached down and picked up a small object.  His heart broke when he saw her place a small teddy bear in the dead child's arms before lifting the body into her arms and carrying it to place it with the others.  She placed a kiss on the child's forehead before gently laying her down.  He moved towards her but stopped as she resolutely turned and headed back to keep digging.

"Buffy, there's no more," he said quietly.

She shook her head stubbornly and kept digging.  "Gotta make sure.  No one is left behind."

Giles sighed and watched her as she started to dig again, her shoulders shaking slightly with soft sobs.  The sound of the music wound through his brain and, as all thoughts but one fled, he started to sing.  All his feelings for her poured forth in the words that fell from his lips.  He sang the words as they came to him, not really caring if they made sense or not, knowing only that somehow he had to make her see and understand what was in his heart.

Come stop your crying
It will be all right
Just take my hand
Hold it tight

I will protect you
From all around you
I will be here
Don't you cry

The voice echoed in Buffy's head and she suddenly realized he was singing, to her.  Her head shot up and she looked at him, tears running down her face.  Giles never noticed her staring at him; he just kept on with what he was doing.  As she listened to his words she began to understand what he was trying to tell her and she hung her head in her hands, her tears trickling through her fingers as she cried.

For one so small
You seem so strong
My arms will hold you,
Keep you safe and warm
This bond between us
Can't be broken
I will be here
Don't you cry

His deep voice rang through the quiet, punctuated by her sobs.  Ignoring the exhaustion that was threatening to consume him he steadfastly kept digging, and singing.

Cause you'll be in my heart
Yes you'll be in my heart
From this day on
Now and forever more

You'll be in my heart
No matter what they say
You'll be here in my heart, always

Word by word and line by line Giles bared his very soul for all to see.  The words tumbled from his lips and he willed her to understand what it was he was trying to say.  To see how much he loved her and to hear his promise that no matter what happened he would always love her and would never, ever, leave her. 

Why can't they understand
The way we feel
They just don't trust
What they can't explain
I know we're different but,
Deep inside us
We're not that different at all

And you'll be in my heart
Yes, you'll be in my heart
From this day on
Now and forever more

Don't listen to them
Cause what do they know
We need each other
To have, to hold
They'll see in time
I know

When destiny calls you
You must be strong
I may not be with you
But you've got to hold on
They'll see in time
I know
We'll show them together

Gradually the distance between them closed until they were no more than a few feet apart.  They looked up and their eyes met.  Giles held out his hand and she hesitantly placed her smaller one in his much larger one.  A soft smile lit his face.  His heart sang with the realization that she had not only heard and understood but that she felt the same.  He twined his fingers with hers and gently pulled her to her feet.  Together they turned and started to walk away, leaving the debris, the devastation and the past behind them.

Cause you'll be in my heart
Believe me, you'll be in my heart
I'll be there from this day on
Now and forever more

Ooh you'll be in my heart
No matter what they say
You'll be here in my heart
I'll be there always

I'll be with you
I'll be there for you always
Always and always

Stepping onto the grass they looked back at the rubble and the large pile of dead that lay next to it.  The music got softer and the crowd got to its feet, turning to slowly walk away.  As they walked each person took one last look behind them.  Two lone figures stood in front of the devastation, their arms wrapped around each other.  The moonlight lit their features and Giles' voice lifted and echoed through the night with a promise.

Just look over your shoulder
Just look over your shoulder
Just look over your shoulder
I'll be there always

Through their tears the people smiled.  Their hearts filled with love for the two that had given so much to them yet had received so little in return.  That night children slept peacefully, their dreams filled with images, not of demons and boogiemen, but of heroes and knights with brilliant green eyes and the golden haired princesses they loved.  Others cried for the ones they had lost but through their tears remembered the promise that echoed through the night.  A promise made by a man to the woman he loved and by a woman to the man she loved.  A promise made by them both to the people that lived here on the mouth of hell.  As they remembered their pain eased because they knew that no matter what the future held the two lovers would be there, always protecting them from harm.

And in a room lit only by the soft light of the moon, two lost and broken souls finally found their way home.  Two bodies moved together in a dance older than time and soft cries and words of love floated out of the open window on the breeze.  As the last passionate cries died away, one word reverberated around the room.  Always.

On the street outside a solitary figure looked up at the window and smiled sadly before turning and walking away, his pain lessened somewhat by the knowledge that the two lovers were finally where they belonged.  He cocked his head as a soft whisper was carried to him on the breeze, two voices blending together to form one.  "We'll always be here."  A single blood tear slipped down his cheek as he took a last look behind him at the two figures silouhetted in the moonlight.    Squaring his shoulders he moved quickly into the night, the quiet promise echoing around him as he walked.