Characters: Rupert Giles
Rating: PG (a little language and discussion of canon character death)
Setting: Unspecified length of time after “The Gift”
Disclaimer: This world and these characters don’t belong to me. I’m just playing in the sandbox.
Notes: This isn’t as long as I would like, but I seem to have encountered a rather serious case of writer’s block. Short and...bitter as opposed to sweet, but I hope you guys enjoy.
He buried Ben in his backyard.
Where else was he going to put him? He certainly didn’t want some stray dog digging up the body a few days later. He couldn’t simply dump the body – too much evidence, too great a chance of having it discovered, and too many awkward questions he couldn’t (shouldn’t) answer.
He was sure to put a stone over the grave, though he left it unmarked. He couldn’t blame Ben for what had happened; he was, after all, technically an innocent in all of this, dragged into the action against his will and forced to make an incredibly difficult choice. Maybe, in the end, if he’d chosen differently...
It wouldn’t have mattered.
Giles knew it wouldn’t have mattered. Either way, the result would still be lying buried in the backyard of his flat.
There was a certain numbness that came after the first wave of grief. Giles had taken advantage of that sensation of non-feeling to bury Ben then, when he was too empty and dazed to suffer the full weight of guilt that came with looking at the boy’s bloodied face. He hadn’t avoided it entirely, however – just stayed its approach for a spell. The full brunt of the guilt struck him only a few hours later, while the ex-Watcher was pretending to get ready for bed. He had only been going through the routine for familiarity’s sake. He knew full well that he wouldn’t be able to sleep.
He was right. He didn’t remember much after that, though his throbbing temples in the morning filled in the blanks.
No one was surprised when Giles began avoiding coming into the Magic Box whenever he could and stopped returning their calls. Anya only half-heartedly ran the store and everyone else...well, everyone else coped however they could. It was easy to pretend he was just having trouble adjusting to life without his Slayer (as if he hadn’t had enough trouble with that already). No one had seen him strangle a helpless boy as he lay beaten on the ground. No one knew what he had done. No one would ever need to know.
But Giles knew, and he remembered it every day, and that was bad enough.
It was one morning when Giles awoke from not really having slept at all. He was trying to struggle back into normality, and began the day with a cup of tea and a book in his backyard.
He shouldn’t have been surprised when he couldn’t focus. The makeshift grave lay there, unassuming, with the body of an innocent boy beneath it. An innocent boy that Giles had told himself was just and right to murder.
He had to get out of here.
He had to get out of Sunnydale. He had to push this into his past, and he could only do that once this place was only a thing of memory. Heaven knew he had enough blood on his hands already, and coming to terms with murder only worked once one had moved on.
Giles felt bad when he told the landlord that he would be leaving the flat. Mostly because some poor bastard would be inheriting the dead body in the backyard, and the Council would likely have helpfully erased Giles from Sunnydale’s memory by the time that became an issue.
Giles needed to move on.
Everyone pretended to be rather shocked and saddened for his benefit when he announced he would be returning to England, but he knew they understood why. He had little reason to remain in Sunnydale, a town rife with reminders of his most recent faults, when his Slayer had passed. After all, the Council needed informing and he had detailed reports to write (reports that wouldn’t mention Ben in any way, shape, or form if Giles could damn well help it).
Despite Giles’ best efforts, he knew Ben would always be there, along with Randall and Jenny, yet another addition to his personal gallery of failures, whose deaths had been his fault. Ben would follow Giles to his own grave.
That was how it should be.