The area the resistence was in was a small town on the shores of Maine. Oz drove the van in slowly, not seeing anyone. "You sure this is the right place?" He called back. Buffy sat, cradling Giles' head in her lap. Angel kept re-applying bandages to Giles enormous wound. He bled quite a lot. He was passed out at the moment, and when he was awake he normally screamed in pain.
"This is what Giles said." Angel called back. He watched Giles with concern, feeling his pulse regularly. A few days ago, while driving to Maine, Buffy and Angel had spoken of the watchers condition.
"Angel, do you think he's going to be okay?" She had asked the vampire.
"I don't know." Angel said "He's bad, but...."
"Please talk straight with me." She begged.
"I don't........know." Angel said, wiping a tear from her eye. "I really don't." Oz pulled the van up into a small parking spot near a library. He walked back from the drivers' seat. His hair was almost back to the way it was five years ago.
"Well, we're here...but it looks deserted." he said.
"It's the middle of the night." Angel said.
"More of a reason to be on guard." Buffy added "It is possible Giles was delirious...." There was a thump outside. Angel heard it first and raised a hand to quite her. Oz stopped and held his breath, listening. Another thump. Buffy looked up at Oz. "Stay with him." She mouthed. Oz nodded and held up a thumb. Angel and Buffy slowly walked to the front seats. Angel felt Buffy squeeze his hand. He looked at her a moment, and saw how the moonlight splashed on her skin......they both opened the car doors simeltaniously and found people on them before they even knew what happened. Angel felt four men grab him, all of them rather strong. He heard Buffy struggling and screaming. Buffy kicked her first assailant in the balls, and then kicked another in the knee. Both men fell and then she kicked over her head backwards into the head of the guy who was holding her. She heard a gunshot and rolled to her left, leaving the bullet to hit the van.
"Fuck! I never miss!" The shooter said. Buffy followed the voice and found an individual with a black trenchcoat re-loading his gun. She leapt at him and saw as he fell backward, taking her with him. He flipped her over and leapt back to his feet. He punched her hard. She side-sweeped him and he hit the ground. She put a boot on his chest. "Buffy?" He asked. She peered down.
"Xander?" She whispered. She stared at him in shock, then her look of shock changed to that of total joy. She leapt down on top of him, crying and laughing at the same time. "Xander, oh xander you're alive!" She cried, hugging him. Xander held in his tears for a moment, and then he was crying,too. They heard some laughing and looked up to see Angel and Larry hug each other, laughing like old high school chums running into each other at a bar. Oz stepped out of the van with his shotgun."What's going on?" He asked. "Nothing Oz." Buffy said, tears streaming down her cheeks "Nothing at all."
"I'm so sorry I didn't believe..." Buffy began, sipping her tea.
"Hey, Nastassia fooled us all." Xander said, hugging her again "Don't you ever even think of it again."
"All I could think about was how I failed....."
"She was catatonic for days." Angel said, smiling.
"Well, I'm flattered that my death caused vegtableitis to you, Buff." he said, smiling. He laughed for a moment and then looked off into space.
"Hey, Xander, what's up?" Oz asked, jutting his chin out at him.
"Well,guys......I found Cordy." he said. His voice broke as he said her name. He looked at Larry.
"Cordelia grabbed him at the bottom of the bridge where he was dropped." Larry began "Then she nursed him back to health and brought him here. They.....were sort of.....together. After I escaped from prison, I came here and Nastassia followed me. We all met here and Cordy was killed by Nastassia....." He finished. Buffy hugged Xander, who was crying silently. Angel swore and stood up, pacing.
"I can't believe I was fooled...."
"We all were fooled." Oz said "You may be a vampire, but you're still only human. None of us believed that she would betray us, and that's what made it so easy for her. We can sit around and play 'if only' all day, but we have more pressing concerns..."
"Finding the bitch." Xander said angrily.
"Well, I was referring to leading this resistance and taking out Harvest once and for all." Oz said "Or die trying."
"We can't even dent the fucker." Xander said "How do we do it?"
"I don't know." Oz said "But we owe it to ourselves, to the world, to at least try." Buffy grinned.
"Oz, you are,like, more inspiring than Susan Powter." Buffy said.
"Five years is a long time for a man to change." Oz said.
I must say, sir, I concur." Came a british voice from the door.
"Oh,Buffy, may I present the resistance leader...." Xander began.
"Wesley?" Buffy asked.
"Yes, Buffy, Wesley." Wesley smiled and nodded. He watched her for a moment as she rose and looked at him. They stood for a minute or so, and then she embraced him. He was surprised by the affection. "I say" Wesley said, straightening his glasses "I am surprised you even considered talking to me. I was less than kind to you and your friends....."
"I know, Wesley, but....that was in the past." Buffy smiled "It's good to see you again."
"I wish our reunion could be on better terms, but....I have grave news." Wesly said sadly.
"Giles....." Angel asked. Wesly nodded.
"We fear he doesn't have much time left." Wesly said "The cataclysm left us with little medical supplies. I'm afraid we can't do much for him but keep him alive and concious long enough for you to say......" Buffy turned and latched onto Angel, burrying her head into his chest.
"Giles." She moaned. Angel looked up at Wesley.
"We want to see him." Angel said.
"I expected no less from all of you." Wesley nodded. He led them to the 'hospital' which was actually once a motel with medical supplies stuffed inside. Giles' room was a small one bed deal with life support machines beeping and clicking around him. Wesley let them in.
Giles looked up to see his students, his children, gathered around him. Xander, Larry, Angel, Oz and most importantly Buffy, looking down on him. Larry watched solemly, but not crying. He hadn't known the librarian that long. Angel did the same, not allowing himself to cry. His gaze was one of respect and dignity, giving a strengthful gaze to the dying man. Giles smiled at them both and nodded. Xander was fighting back tears, but soon cried anyway, the tears rolling down his cheeks. Oz wasn't crying, either, but praying. His eyes were closed and his lips moved silently. Buffy sat next to him, clutching at his hand. "Buffy..." he said quietly.
"I'm here, Giles. I'm here." Her voice was breaking.
"I know." he said, smiling "I'm glad." His eyes closed.
"No! No, Giles, don't go!"
"I'm not going anywhere yet." He said, opening his eyes with a smiled. "I was just blinking." Buffy laughed nervously.
"Jerk." She looked down on him, crying.
"Giles...what will I do without you?"
"Maintain sanity, I imagine." Giles laughed. His laugh was cut off by a fit of coughing. He patted her hand. "Oh, Buffy, please don't be upset. It will be nice to rest......maybe I'll see Jenny again...."
"But I still need you, Giles." Buffy said quietly. Giles looked to the rest.
"Could you excuse us?" He asked them.
"Of course." Angel said, smiling. He squeezed Giles' hand. "Goodbye, Giles."
"Goodbye, Angel. I am grateful to have known you. Please take care of her." Giles said.
"Until the day I die." Angel promised. He walked out, Larry behind him.
"Uh...nice knowing you." He said, shrugging.
"Thank you, Larry, for everything. You have proven yourself to me and the others. You are more than a simple football player."
"Thanks." Larry said,leaving. Oz walked out wordlessly, his expression speaking volumes. Giles and he exchanged looks, and both knew what the other was saying. Xander knelt beside Giles.
"I'm going to miss you, G-man." He said, grinning. "Sorry. I know how much you hate that nickname."
"I don't mind as much." Giles replied, grinning. "I'm glad I had a chance to watch you become the man you are, Xander."
"Thanks......Giles, I never really knew my dad. I mean, I knew him, but I didn't really. You were like....my Dad.....god, that's cheesy and cliche." Xander said, shaking his head.
"Only when you don't mean it." Giles said "But when you do mean it, it's a very special thing to say. You were like my children. I never had kids, except for you, and Willow, and you Buffy. You both, and Willow, have been the most important things in my life." Xander wept openly.
"I can't imagine fighting this war without you...." He said. Giles cried,too. He reached up and touched Xanders' face.
"You're an adult,now. You all are. You can fight this without me. It became obvious to me during that fight at the bronze. Xander.....win this war for me." Giles said.
"Sure." Xander said, nodding "Goodbye, Giles." He looked up at Buffy and smiled reassuringly. He got up and left the room.
"I suppose that all goes double for me?" Buffy asked, smiling and crying at the same time. Giles nodded sadly.
"I imagine I'll miss you a great deal." Giles said, his eyes closing for a moment. He opened them again quickly. "I'm......not long for this world." He said.
"There is nothing more for me to teach you, to tell you...nothing more for me to say to you. You know it all. How I feel about you....you know all of that. You are grown completly, Buffy. You are a woman, a warrior, and a hero. Never forget your power." Giles kissed her hand gently "I've never been prouder of anything in my life than you. You are my lifes' work. And that means more to me than anything. I'm proud of you, Buffy. Of the woman you've become, the hero that you are. Buffy, if I ever had had a daughter, I hope she would have been as great as you." Buffy began to wail as his eyes closed, she rested her head on his chest, crying. She felt someone grab her, crying into his back. It was Xander. He held her tightly in his arms as they both cried, thinking about the life of the man that had just passed on. And only one word stuck in thier minds to describe him.