The Final Entry
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June 3, 2000
Buffy has been dead now for two weeks. Her headstone, a simple affair with just her name and the dates of her birth and passing, was put in place last week. Her mother had the small plot framed with marble and white pebbles scattered across the overturned earth. She told me her reasoning for this was to prevent weeds from growing up all over the place. Like I would ever let that happen. Buffy was my life and in death, that will not change. I will tend to her here, the same as I always have. Only, I will do it better. I will never let her down again. But this entry will not be tinged with my own guilt.
This is for her.
I sit here on a small bench next to her resting-place, the California heat forcing sweat to bead on my brow, and I stare at her headstone. I had thought that my final entry into the Watcher’s Journal would be the night that she died, but it is not. You see, for as long as I have been a Watcher, Buffy’s story has unfolded around me and it would be wrong of me not to write the Epilogue that she deserved. I could lie. I could say that Buffy died happy and had achieved all she ever wanted, but that would be a disservice to her. Instead, I will talk about the visitor I had last night and what he told me and about the final chapter in my Slayer’s life. For he was as much as part of her as her duty was.
And I will wait here. As he asked me to do.
I was nursing a bottle of Scotch, thumbing through my old journals and trying hard to wash away some of the pain in my heart when I heard a knock at the door. “Come in.” I said, too lazy with grief to get up myself.
Angel stepped into the room and I laid my glass down. I stood, taking in his appearance, and I think my heart shattered all over again. Willow had called to let him know that Buffy had passed, but we had not heard from him. Cordelia and Wesley had made the drive to Sunnydale alone, and neither mentioned him. As he loomed in the doorway, I could see why. He looked pale, wan, starved and, dare I suggest, broken?
I took a step forward, knocked a book into the floor and he snapped out of it and looked at me. “Giles.” His voice was raspy, almost a growl.
“Angel, do come in,” I motioned for him and stepped past him, closing the door behind him.
“I can smell her here,” Angel stumbled slightly, righted himself, then sat on the sofa. “God, it’s her!”
A box of Buffy’s belongings were on one end of the couch and I lifted a stuffed pig and said, “You probably only smell her because Willow gave me some of her things. She wasn’t here a whole lot, toward the end.”
Angel looked at me and nodded at the plush animal. “May I?”
I handed it to him, but I had to look away when he brought it to his nose and inhaled. I heard his sobs break free and poured myself another drink, adding a second glass for him. When I turned, he had composed himself somewhat and had pulled a decorative pillow from the box. “Angel, have a drink.”
He took the glass absently and sat it on the table. “Did she suffer? I need to know.”
I sat down across from him and took a sip of my drink. “There was an explosion. She was inside.”
“But did she suffer? I overheard Cordelia and Wesley talking about a closed casket.”
“Angel, judging from the state of her body and the way she died, I would say it was instant.” I down my Scotch and stand up for another. I want to inebriate myself until the memories are fuzzy. The memory of her body, the coroner’s report. All of it.
“Tell me how she died.”
I turned around fast, ready to tell him no, but he was staring at me with such need that I simply nodded. I left my glass on the table and took the whole bottle with me as I sat across from him. “As you know, there was a military operation here. It was called the Initiative and they created some sort of cyborg demon. Part man, part human and part machine. Buffy spent her final night battling him down inside the compound. The explosion occurred at about four in the morning and she was in there.”
“How did the others survive? How did you survive?”
Well, there it was. The question that I had been asking myself since it had happened. I took a deep breath and said, “She was alone. We had all had a falling out of sorts and she took off to do it by herself.”
“And you let her?” Angel stood and walked to the window. “When I was here, she was rarely alone.”
“Yes, when you were here she was a lot of things!” I shouted. I don’t know why I shouted it, but it came out at the top of my lungs.
The vampire spun to face me. “What is that supposed to mean?”
I could not stop myself. I wanted so badly to lash out at someone, to blame someone so I could stop blaming myself. “She was never the same after you left. She was capricious and careless. You figure out what it means.”
“She moved on, Giles. She found someone new so don’t you dare say that it’s my fault.”
“She found someone new?” I tipped the bottle back and took several deep gulps, then drew my arm across my mouth to dry it. “Do you know what it was like to see her settle? Do you know what it was like to catch her looking off into the distance, toward Los Angeles, with one hand on that fading scar you gave her and the other hand in his?”
“I didn’t come here for this.” Angel’s voice was deadly calm. “I came here because the truth as I know it is tearing me apart inside. Someone has to know it besides just me.”
I hiccuped loudly and waved my hand at him. “Go on then, tell me the truth.”
And he did tell me the truth. He told me about a trip that Buffy had made to Los Angeles after Thanksgiving and about the ultimate sacrifice that he made. I would write it here now, but what is in that man’s heart is between him, the Oracles and now me. I feel privileged to know and I feel that Angel ’s burden has been lessened by him telling me the truth.
Once the story was all out on the table, he downed the glass of scotch I had poured him. “I was a fool. I just kept thinking that, by some miracle, I would find my way back to her and she would be waiting. She wasn’t supposed to die. Giles, do you think that she forgave me?”
“I think so,” I replied, still reeling from what he had told me.
“I wish I could be sure.”
“You can be.” I stood shakily and dug through the box of her belongings. I pulled a leather bound book from the bottom and handed it to him.
“Her diary?” Angel took the book, running his palm over the smooth cover. “No, I can’t read this. One time,” His voice cracked again and fresh tears spilled over his cheeks. “One time she just thought I had read this and panicked.”
“Then that should tell you what you’ll find inside.” I moved the box and sat beside him. “I haven’t read it, I don’t want to know, but I believe with all my heart that what you need to know is written right there. Buffy was adamant about writing in it nightly and I think you should keep it.” I sat the box in the floor and rummaged through it again. “There’s one for each year.” I handed him three other volumes and nodded. “They’re yours.”
Angel stacked them in his lap and held up the stuffed pig. “Mr. Gordo. Could I?”
“Yes, you take it.” My hand found its way to his arm and I squeezed it affectionately. “I did not mean the things that I said to you. You weren’t the cause of her death, Angel. We all knew that her life would be short and we loved her anyway.”
“Yeah, we did. I just wish that I had been there to watch out for her.”
“You were in her heart and her soul, Angel. You took care of those things better than anyone else could. The time that you gave her was equal to a lifetime of happiness. Always know that.”
He nodded, his eyes welling with tears again. “I went to the cemetery. It seems kind of bare and sad there.”
“Her mother kept it simple.” I told him, but nodded in agreement.
“I have something that I’d like to have delivered there tomorrow. Can you meet the men who will bring it?”
Angel stood, cradling the journals and her pig in one of his large hands. He offered me the other and when I gave him mine, he pulled me into his arms and hugged me. “Thank you for being more than just a Watcher to her, Giles. And for being there when I wasn’t. She loved you.”
I watched him walk away and then collapsed on the sofa, sobbing harder than I think I have since the night I identified her body. At some point, I must have dozed, because I was awakened by a telephone call from Cordelia, reminding me that Angel wanted me to meet someone at the cemetery.
So, that’s why I am here.
Wait, I hear voices. Yes, it’s two men with a crate of some kind.
Buffy’s final resting-place isn’t sad or lonely now. It’s beautiful. Angel chose a large sculpture of a weeping angel, her wings tucked behind her and her head bowed. She stands at the foot of Buffy’s grave, with her hands outstretched in silent offering.
And in her hands is a large heart.
It has a crown.
And the words, “Friendship, Loyalty and Love”.
I think that’s a perfect closing for the final installment of what Buffy’s life was.
I will leave it at that.
<><><><><> B/A fic I'm thinking about writing Buffy's diary. Angel's reading it and gets to know just what he meant to her. Does that sound pathetic or boring? I'm open to suggestions. :)