ripper_repoman (ripper_repoman) wrote,
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Fic: Gallery of Failures

Title: Gallery of Failures
Pairing: None
Characters: Rupert Giles
Rating: PG (discussion of canon character deaths)
Setting: Unspecified length of time post-series
Disclaimer: This world and these characters don’t belong to me. I’m just playing in the sandbox.
Notes: Sort-of continuation of my earlier entry, “Bury.” I find I write sad, introspective Giles best, so I wanted to stick with that vein.
There are ghosts in Rupert Giles’ head, though a better word for them might be ‘failures.’ Some have been there a long time while others are still fresh in his mind, but they’re there. They’re one of the few constants he can still trust to be ever-present in his life, and Rupert Giles must remember them so he never makes those mistakes again.

His first failure was Randall.

Randall, eager-eyed and desperate for a taste of magic and rebellion – just a taste, mind you. He only fancied a dabble into darkness, nothing full-time. Ethan had only smirked at Randall’s earnest, wide-eyed enthusiasm as Ethan made sparks dance between his fingers (the showoff). He would have taken pleasure in corrupting poor innocent Randall until he was just as aloof as the rest of them.

Randall never got the chance to see if he liked the black arts or not. Ripper – Rupert – knew it was his fault when the spell got out of control. They’d been careless, and Rupert hadn’t checked the boundaries they’d set in place to keep Eyghon restrained. He should have guessed one of the points on the star wasn’t drawn correctly, that one part of the spell would weak. He should have predicted that something would go wrong. It was his fault.

And Randall paid the price. It had all happened so suddenly. One moment he was ecstatic with the taste of magic filling his mouth and veins and blood and body, and the next he was screaming, the demon clawing its way through his skin and shredding him from the inside out. They’d all sat frozen. All save for Ripper...Rupert...who had seized a sword and lopped off the poor boy’s head, perfect form, just like his father had spent months training him to do.

Rupert quit after that. He quit magic, he quit Ethan, he quit running wild in the streets of London after dark like a freak. A deep-seated self-loathing and disgust took hold, and he could only look back at his old life with Ethan with contempt. Contempt and...a little bit of regret. This could have been prevented if only Ripper hadn’t been so stupid.

His first failure was Randall.

His second failure was his father.

That one was less his own fault and more of just life being...life, more or less. His father smoked too much and was far too stressed in helping run the Watcher’s Council, but Rupert doubted he’d helped much as a child or as an adult. He could never quite impress Giles Sr. as much as either of them wanted, and even after Rupert returned from his catastrophic detour from destiny in London, the permanent stamp of disapproval never really left his father’s face. Rupert was altogether clear on what really killed him, but he always assumed it was a mixture of stress, lung cancer, and a lifetime of disappointments.

Rupert had gotten the news less than a month after flying to Sunnydale, California to apply for a job at his new Slayer’s high school. He had wanted to fly home to attend the funeral, but the Watcher’s Council insisted he remain and prepare for training his Slayer. He could blame the Council all he wanted, but his mother still blamed Rupert for not being there. Maybe she should.

Maybe being at his father’s side would have eased his way, or maybe it would have given him the strength to continue...or maybe Rupert’s presence would only have sped up the process of being there. All the same, there was some part of the Watcher that simply never forgave himself for his father’s death, regardless of how much he could be held accountable for it.

His second failure was his father.

His third failure was Jenny.

This one still hurt, the pain of remembering her as fresh today as it was five years ago. She had tried so hard to make amends for things that weren’t even her fault, things that were beyond her control.

He still can’t bear the smell of roses, and even the barest whiff of candlesmoke is a small, sharp reminder of how he failed to forgive her, protect her, and everything else. The sound of Puccini transports him back to that night without fail.

He remembers smashing the record the first chance he got.

Every memory of Jenny is now only bittersweet, every bright moment of joy with her tainted by the dull ache of her loss. Angelus did the killing, but Rupert knows he’s just as much to blame. He could have done so much more to keep her safe.

He never got to tell her.

His third failure was Jenny.

His fourth failure was Ben.

He didn’t even know the boy. As far as he or anyone else knew, Ben was just an innocent hopelessly, unwillingly entangled in the vendetta of an angry hellgod. It hadn’t been the dangers of being caught in the crossfire that eventually did him in; it had been Rupert Giles in a desperate attempt to ensure his Slayer would live to fight another day.

It hadn’t worked. Buffy had still died.

At least this way Glory couldn’t reemerge to bring the world to its knees.

That’s what Rupert Giles tells himself sometimes, but the guilt still shadows him each day. Randall, his father, Jenny, and Ben are at the forefront of his conscience, reminders of how he turned out to be exactly the kind of pragmatic, cunning Watcher the Council always wanted him to be – willing to do anything to defend the world, at whatever painful cost.

A pity his father couldn’t be there to see it.

Selfishly, the Watcher is glad Buffy’s friends lacked the foresight to reconsider their decision in raising her, because he doesn’t think he could have lasted very long with the thought that he’d also failed his Slayer on top of everyone else. It doesn’t matter now, though. She hasn’t contacted him since they’d closed the Hellmouth in Sunnydale. Maybe she blames him for Spike. Spike, the one death Rupert Giles hasn’t found reason to fault himself for.

How bitterly ironic.
Tags: char: giles, fic type: one shot
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