"6.6.06"



Summary-On an ominous day, despite doom-laden portents, Chairman Giles must face and overcome the greatest challenge of his career.

Archived at the 'normal' Buffyverse page of the Buffy Rebecca verse, https://www.angelfire.com/zine2/buffyrebecca/index.html or direct to story at https://www.angelfire.com/zine2/buffyrebecca/666.html

Disclaimer: All BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series...

***



7:30 am...The restored Antiquarian Hall, London seat of the Royal Council of Antiquarians and Library Scientists...

A night dwelling on thoughts of the inexorable coming of this day had not provided the current Chairman of the Council, one Rupert Giles, with much rest...He strode the hall, trying to collect his thoughts and hoping to find someone with an active coffee- or tea- pot, his secretary, not due for another forty-five minutes, having wisely locked his office's in the cabinet the night before.

On this day of days the last thing the Chairman would need was coffee, she'd clearly felt...Rather to his irritation, however...

Then...He heard a chanting...

Strange...Like none I've heard...Except...

Hmmn...He frowned and went to a large, oaken-paneled door...The sound louder now...

"Omen, omen, omen..."

He threw the classroom door wide open, several startled young Observer candidates in dark robes looking at him, instantly petrified on recognition of the Chairman...One in rather exaggerated red schoolboy togs instead of robe, hurriedly moved to remove the red contact lenses from his eyes...One of the robed ones trying feebly to put his camera anywhere somewhat out of the Chairman's field of vision...

"S-sir...We...Ummn..."

"Yes..." he eyed the group... "Very amusing, gentlemen...Corelli, you would indeed make a fine son of Satan and a worthy target for one or more of our Slayers...But as Mr. Wyndham-Price is due to begin his lecture in ten minutes, you gentlemen might wish to focus your skills and attention on your upcoming first class rather than a cheesy horror film remake..."

He closed the door, leaving the group eyeing each other...

No long lecture on the need to always regard the occult with respect?...No demerits, detention?...No extra work?...

He hadn't even confiscated the red contacts...

The day's upcoming ordeal was clearly preying on the Chairman's thoughts, Corelli noted...The others concurring solemnly...

***

Omen...He ruefully thought, continuing his so-far fruitless search...Appropriate enough for this day...

The day on which his darkest fears for his beloved Slayer...His cell phone buzzed suddenly...

Drat...Too late...



Naturally, on this day...Hmmn, calls received...Not Dawn, as he might have expected...No...

He started fumbling with the menu...

Drat, lost the blasted...

Another buzz...Indeed Dawn, this time...

"Yes, Dawn...Good morning...How's Buffy?...I see...Yes, I'm not surprised...No, not yet...It's only seven-forty-five, Dawn..."

Yes...he sighed at the phone... "Dawn, we are all concerned...You know if there was anything I could do...But Buffy has chosen to face her fate..."

"By the way, did you just call me from another number?...No?...Well, probably a wrong..." Buzz...Ah, the previous number if he remembered correctly...A text question regarding holding the new call...

"Just a moment, Dawn..." he eyed the phone's menu and took the gamble, pressing what seemed the correct sequence...Ah...

"Xander?...What?...Xander, yes...We are all concerned...Yes, I realize Buffy's never faced this kind of threat before...Indeed I do understand what is at stake here...No, that is not a clever pun, Xander...Xander, what would you have me do?...Has Buffy ever been deflected by me from what she perceives as her duty...?"

"No...She did not put it that way...You know she would not...Xander, we must respect her decision to go ahead and face this..."

"No, Xander...Willow could not 'try a little spell'...It would make no difference in the end...Buffy wishes to make this supreme effort and nothing will divert her away from that...I have Dawn on another line, Xander...No...No, Xander...It is not 'damn time we finally kept Buffy from throwing her life away for others for once'..."

He sighed at the burst of frenzy pleading...

"No, Xander...I do not have 'something in the works'...We've left these decisions to Buffy in the past and...What?..."

"Very well then...But though we've actually never voluntarily left these decisions to Buffy, she's managed to make them herself in spite of us...Lets not...Xander?...as I was saying, lets not...Xander, there is no magic solution here and I want you to keep a clear head and away from magics...We must simply help Buffy face what comes this day...Look, Dawn is waiting on hold, why don't you come down to the Hall and we can discuss this..."

"Dawn?...Sorry...It was Xander...Yes, he is quite upset...Dawn?...Dawn, he may well be the 'one who sees all' but he does not have a gift of prophecy...Dawn, you know Buffy has always chosen to meet Fate head on...She's made her decision and she will do what she feels she must...Look, Dawn...Xander is coming down, if you wish...Oh, I see...Yes, you must...Well, tell Buffy we will be there, all of us...No, Angel hasn't called...But he and his people will be there...Yes, my dear...Good luck to us all..."

He closed the phone and put it away in a pocket, sighed, and turning, was hard-pressed not to express shock at the sudden appearance from a side door of a huge, fur-covered demon, its fanged mouth bloody...

"Arrrrgggh..." the creature growled...But seemed more startled than the Watcher, who'd taken defensive mode...

Oh...

"Krung?...Who let you?..." he frowned at the now distinctly frightened-looking creature, catching sight of a young Slayer hurrying down the hall toward them...

"Ms. Ortiz..."

"Sorry, Mr. Chairman..." the young girl, about fifteen, bore a sheepish look... "I took Krung out for his morning feeding and walk and he got out of the courtyard..."

"It's fine...How are you, Krung?...It's all right..." he patted the nervous demon gently... "No one's angry at you...Just go along with Ms. Ortiz now, there's a good fellow..."



"C'mon, Krung..."

"Arrrh..." the creature nodded and headed off in his keeper's charge rather happily...

"Don't forget to clean his teeth, Gloria...And make sure he has plenty of water...On a day like today he's very likely to get dehydrated...." "Yes, sir..."

He caught a faint whiff of his long-sought goal from the next open door and entered the room...

A man bearing coffee cup examining the walls...Where something bearing a striking appearance to oozing blood was being to congeal...

"Markinson...Good morning..."

"Sir..."

"I see we have a little problem befitting the day..."

"Ha, ha...Yes, sir...I hadn't thought of that..."

"Any ideas...?" Any more of that coffee? being his real question...Glancing carefully about for signs of a pot...Damn...Just picked it up on the way in, I suppose...

"I'm afraid my only conclusion is that we'll have to strip the walls down completely, sir...Painting over just doesn't do the job..."

"Yes...I must speak to the instructor...Occult Experiments 101 must really be moved to a more suitable space if she's going to try this sort of demonstration..."

"I would recommend it sir...Though I do think the guest lecturer Ms. Rosenberg was a tad over enthusiastic yesterday..."

"Yes...I'll speak to her as well..."

No doubt Willow's on edge as well...he thought...

"Sir?...Regarding today...Will you tell Ms. Summers our thoughts and prayers go with her?..."

"Hmmn?...Oh, yes...Yes...Thank you, Markinson..." he nodded and made for the door...

Not looking good...Every sign pointing to disaster...He frowned again...

Damnit, I'm Chairman here and abuse of power or no, I'm going to send someone out for coffee...

***

9:00 am...

Some measure of balance having been restored through the application of a fetched coffee and crumpet, the Chairman sat in his office...Across his desk a seated, gloomy-looking Xander...

"Giles...We gotta do something...We can't let Buffy do this..."

"Xander..." he sighed...

"This isn't something even a Slayer can..." Xander began...

The phone on the desk rang...Giles took the receiver... "Yes, Chairman Giles here?...Angel?..."

Xander shook his head, muttering...Even Angel...The one person who might save her from this one...Here to join in when he oughta be rescuing her from this nightmare...Oughta have rescued her when he had the chance...



But hell, had he been there for her when she resurrected?...

"Yes...I spoke to Dawn earlier...Yes, they've been up for some time...Not much hope of sleeping in today...Are you and your people?...Good, good...We'll be ready...Yes, noon...But you can come over here any time you wish...Good..."

Noon...High noon...Xander thought...

"Angel...I've not had much time to say...I do appreciate your being here for Buffy at this time...And I do regret...Well, thanks...We'll be seeing you, Angel..."

"Angel and his people will be here at eleven..." Giles set the phone down...

In reasonably polite mode it seems, despite their ongoing resentment, for Buffy's sake at least...

"Lovely..." Xander frowned... "How can Angel let her face this?...Does he want her to suffer...?"

"Xander...He knows it's what she has to do...And he is here, for her...As we must be..."

"Great...Our usual copout...Well, I guess I'll just have to try Willow again..."

"Xander...She will not be a party to any plans you may be considering..."

Mmmph...He gave a dark look...

"She should be here soon...I hope you will let her reason with you..."

"Actually she came over with me...I dropped her just by...She's getting coffee..."

A smiling Willow, hair carefully arranged, strode in bearing coffee to go...And something that looked like...

"Xander tell you we found a doughnut shop, Giles?..."

Oh...She eyed Xander's grim face...

"He's at again, huh?...He was at me all night last night..."

Ummn...She blinked...Xander looking perhaps a tad...

On a day like today why should I be surprised by this?...Giles thought...

***

11:00 am...

Obviously in hopes of easing Xander's tension...And whatever thoughts it might lead him to, Willow had demanded a brief sightseeing tour, leaving Giles at his desk, free for a few moments to ease his own anxiety with a bit of the endless paperwork that these days came his way in a constant surge...

His intercom buzzing, he pressed a key... "Yes?..."

"Mr. Angel and his party are here..." his secretary replied...

"Send him in, please...And have the refreshments I requested, including the "special order" for Mr. Angel, brought to the main conference room..."

"Yes, sir..."

"And did the audio-visual people set up the equipment as ordered?..."



"They've just finished it, sir..."

"Thank you..."

Well...Some bit of humble pie to be eaten now...Still, nothing compared to what Buffy...And all of us must go through before this day ends...

Oh, would, as Shakespeare said, that the outcome of a day might be known beforehand...

And yet, as he also said...It sufficeth that the day doth end...And then the outcome is known...

He rose as the door opened and Angel, in suit, entered...Followed by two somewhat shy-looking young women in dresses...One, entering just behind Angel and taking a position beside him, was dark-haired, the other a pretty, though somewhat mousey dark brown-haired type stood nervously to the side...

These were followed by two young men, one whom he recognized from photos and Willow's description as Connor, the other a tall black man, definitely Mr. Gunn...

He waved them all to seats, his gaze briefly focusing on the mousey girl...Who momentarily returned his glance with a hard, appraising look...

"Rupert" Angel calmly offered a hand...Which was taken...

"I don't think you've met my current team in person before..." he suddenly smiled at the dark-haired woman... "You got me..." he nodded to her...

"I lose a bet..." he explained... "My Nina here was sure I'd forget to introduce her properly...Chairman Giles, my wife Nina..."

"My apologies for distracting your husband..." Giles smiled...

Nina grinned... "None necessary, I just got out of making dinner for two weeks..."

"...Our son, Connor...And my friends, Winifred Illyria Burkle-Wyndham-Price, and Charles Gunn..."

"Connor...Mr. Gunn...Ms. Burkle-Wyndham-Price, I think I owe you and Angel..."

"Please, Mr. Giles..." Illyria put up a hand... "The one person to blame is me...Though I hope you will remember from now on that Angel is every bit the hero your Slayers are..."

"Forgive me that I ever suggested a doubt of it..."

"Well, Giles..." Angel waved a hand...

"Mr. Giles...?" Illyria cut in... "Sorry...Ummn...Is my...Er...Is Wesley's father?..." she bit her lower lip nervously... "He asked to talk to me when we arrived..."

"Roger is teaching one of our Observer candidate classes now..." he explained kindly... "But he should be free in a few minutes...I know he is very anxious to speak with you..."

"So where's?..." Connor looked round the room...

"Buffy is still at her and Dawn's apartment...They'll meet us there at two...I think they wanted some time alone..." he turned to Angel, who nodded...

"But Willow and Xander are here!..." Willow called as she and Xander entered the office... "Camere, you..." she went to Connor and hugged him...Xander offering Angel a hand...

Got it in the Tower of London gift shop he explained... "It's supposed to be a replica of some famous guy's who got one of the. revolutions here going or something..."

Hmmn-hmm...Giles thought...Apocalyptic, if staged, chanting... raging, if domesticated, demons on the prowl...walls oozing blood...severed, if sovenir, hands appearing suddenly...



Not suggestive of a good day...

"Thanks, Xander...Just what I need for my office..." Angel set the hand down on Giles' desk... "You ready?..." he eyed Xander sympathetically...Clearly aware of his mood...

"No...And never will be..." Xander replied curtly...

Xander...Willow hissed...

"Well...I'm very glad to see you all here..." Giles pressed on... "Buffy is grateful, I know..."

"It is the memory of our former colleague and heroic partner we honor today..." Illyria replied, sternly...Surprising those outside the Angel team with her sudden change of manner...

"Of course..." Giles hastily returned, before Xander, scowling now, could reply...Willow quickly nudging and frowning him into glum silence...

"But we're here for Buffy as well..." Angel insisted...Likewise seeking to head off any unpleasantness...

Giles' secretary buzzed...

"Sir, the conference room is ready..."

"Thank you...Well, shall we head over and discuss our strategic plan for today?...I've had some refreshments set up..."

"And I brought doughnuts!..." Willow chimed in...

"Is she not the Rosenberg semi-goddess?..." Illyria hissed to Connor as they moved out after the others... "Should not a goddess bring forth ambrosia and nectar?..."

"Maybe...But doughnuts are better...And she did it the hard way...Went out and paid for 'em..."

"Ah, I see...Stooped to mortal means...We are truly honored..."

"Absolutely...Especially if she got buttercrunch..."

"Yes..." Illyria nodded thoughtfully...

***

Noon...

The combined team looked up at their just-reached destination as one...

Quite a place...Angel noted...

"Willow?..." Xander made one last try as the others headed up the stairs and inside, holding her back... "Think about this...If we go through those doors, begin this...Buffy is committed here..."

"Xander..."

"Wil...You know what you said last night...If you really meant it..."

"Alexander..." she frowned... "That was for you...It's rotten of you to use it here...I said I love you, I didn't say it gives you an on-demand call on my powers...Especially for this..."

"You're Buffy's best friend, Wil...You can't let her throw her life away here..."



"Xander, my darling...I know you mean well...But don't make me say something that will hurt you..."

"Willow!..." a happy cry...Both looking...

Xander temporarily occupied with a new worry...Which Willow, seizing up the situation quickly, moved to exploit...

"Ken-Ken!...Hey!..." she offered open arms to the newly arrived Slayer...One of several just emerging from a couple of cars...

"How's my goddess?..." Kennedy hugged her... "Hey, you..." she tapped Xander on the arm in mid-hug... "I hear from my sources someone's been making moves on my ole girl..."

"Ummn...Ken..." Willow hissed... "Ooops...Sorry, privileged girl-talk...You heard nothing..." the Slayer grinned as she stepped back, eyeing them...

"Though you two do look cute...Say, meet my latest..." she pulled at the hand of a young woman standing near, a bit hesitantly...

"Claire, meet Xander Harris, guide and protector of Slayers and my bi-now, gay-later ex-girl and goddess, Willow Rosenberg..."

"Hey..." Claire waved a little...

"Claire came in for training three months ago...And while I was screamin' at her in basic to keep that stake high, something clicked..." Kennedy beamed...

Xander relaxed a hair...Willow pleased to see his focus definitely shaken...

'Bout time he found himself having to work for this a little...

"You guys look great..." Willow took in the group of Slayers, most of whom were hanging by, some heading up the stairs...

"We're rarin' to go..." Kennedy noted... "What do you need us to do?..."

"Giles has the whole strategic plan worked out...And here he comes..." Willow had turned and caught sight of Giles descending the stairs...

"Ladies, right on time..." he called... "Xander, you are needed..."

Xander frowned but headed up toward the door...

"How he's holding up?..." Kennedy asked quietly...

"Barely..." Willow replied...

A series of cars, some clearly armored, pulling up caught their attention now...Uh-oh, Willow sighed to Kennedy...Who grinned at her, seeing Giles waving at them to summon Willow over to him...

"You're on, kiddo...Make me and the girls proud...And don't let him have you burned..."

"Shed up..." Willow grinned back and headed over to where Giles waited...And together they headed down the steps...To where a large, somewhat odd car had pulled up...

"Your Holiness..." Giles greeted the figure emerging, several guards taking up positions about them...

"Mr. Chairman..." the Pope beamed, offering a hand at which the Chairman knelt briefly, kissing the large ring he bore...

"We are so honored to have you here with us..." Giles said... "May I present my colleague, Miss Willow Rosenberg..."

"My dear..." a benevolent nod...She nervously repeated Giles' little kneel and kiss... "God has entrusted great power to your care...I am sure, from what I have heard from Mr. Giles among others, that you fulfill your duty to Him admirably..."



"Don't worry my child…It doesn't obligate you to convert…" he smiled, eyes twinkling…

"Uhh...Thanks...Your Holiness..."

"Well, Mr. Chairman...At last we are able to join forces on this most important day when we shall see the final triumph of Good, Love, and Hope over Evil, Hate, and Despair...I am truly grateful for your and Miss Summers' assistance with the Immortal last fall...I know it was a difficult struggle against so clever a beast…"

"We were honored to be of service, your Holiness...Would you care to meet a few of our Slayers before we enter?...I've invited a number of our Catholic ladies to come early as you requested...They would be very grateful to have your blessing..."

"Yes, indeed...As I am most anxious to meet them and the rest of your group..."

Enter the required Catholic high priest, Giles thought...Leading the Pope and his security team to where a nervous group of Slayers waited on the steps...

Normally a good portent...But perhaps on this day, merely another anticipated piece falling into place...

***

1:00 pm...



He looked carefully about the building...All in proper place, ready…But there at the entrance…Looking round, intent…Seeking the comfort of shadows as she removed some protective outerwear…

The first of them…As might have been expected…

Drusilla…

"Willow?..." he turned to her…

"I see her Giles…Should I get Buffy?..."

"No, we can't interrupt her now…I think we'll have to handle her…"

"You best let me, Giles…"

"Are you sure you can, Willow?..."

A faint sigh, but a resolute look…

"Yeah…I can…"

He nodded and she headed off, he watching carefully as she moved in…Drusilla eyeing her approach warily…

Yes…Willow can handle this…

"Giles?..." Xander had come up again? "Is that?..."

"Yes…But it's all right…Willow is on it…"

"I don't believe it…Giles…Are you really sure about this?..."

"I'm sure…Willow will deal with her, Xander…"



Willow had reached the front…Was speaking quietly to the clearly uncertain and nervous Dru…

Well, it has begun…Giles thought…

"Hey, everybody!..." a call from the front… "I haven't missed the Big One, have I?!..."

Harmony…Xander sighed, shaking his head…But moved to intercept her…

***

1:40…

The Chairman opened a small door…

"Angel?...Are you ready?..."

"I hope so, Giles...I think this one's gonna be a bit harder than LA..."

"How is…?"

"About what you'd expect…" a slight grin… "But Gunn and Connor have him restrained…And we got just enough gin into him to keep him from fainting…"

"All right, then…Angel…Drusilla…"

"I know…"

"Willow is with her…She seems to be dealing with her…"

"Don't worry Giles…She's on our side now…Her curse will hold…Did his Holiness get a chance to speak to her yet?…She was really terrified about meeting him…"

"He just went over…"

"Hope it'll be good news…She deserves her shot to return to her calling…"

"I believe it will be…Well, I suppose we are ready…"

"Hang in there, Mr. Chairman…This is the Big One…" Angel offered a hand…

***

2:00 pm…



"Well, Giles?..." a nervous Buffy, Dawn by her side…

"Is everything ok?..."

"We've got everything set, my dear girl…"

Ummn… "William?..."

"No last minute runs for cover…Angel has him…Your Best Man will not fail you…"

"Are you ready, my dear?" he eyed her, offering an arm which she took...

"Yeah…" she smiled at his face as she straightened her train and Dawn took a final brush at the wedding dress…"And…Giles?"

"Thanks…"

***