Rating: R
Warning: Multiple partners: Buffy/Willow/Giles
Summary: Giles, Willow, and Buffy are the sole survivors of the Mayor's failed ascension.

Essential Fragility
K. V. Wylie

We have escaped to here.  Buffy bought me this notebook and Willow a package of pens.  "You should still keep a journal, Giles" Buffy said, "even if you're no longer a Watcher.  Even if no one will ever see it but you."

I think I was getting on their nerves and they were seeking means to keep me occupied.  Either that or they were worried about me.  I'm not the same person I was before, but neither are they for that matter.  Everything has gone.  We are completely in the unknown, what we are and what we are to each other.  We have been forced to each other.  We have no where else to turn.  There is only we three.  And I'm not sure we're coping.

At first, I couldn't fathom writing on these pages and this notebook stayed blank for some weeks.  I was determined to leave everything behind, every habit, every twitch, anything visibly associated with the man I used to be.  I wanted it all gone, behind us, back in Sunnydale, in that hellhole where all our losses came.  I wanted nothing to do with how I lived there, especially no more reminders such as this journal represents.

But habits do not die.  They go underneath, then they surface.  They are imprinted somewhere in my psyche for, here I am, writing about nothing whatsoever.  I pulled this book to me and, as I write, I notice Buffy has glanced over twice, a gratified smile on her face.  At least she smiles.  I don't anymore.  Neither does Willow.  I can't in the least figure out how Buffy does.  She is stronger, by far, than I am.

Rupert Giles
October 9, 1999


This notebook stayed closed for too long again.  It sat on the table.  We ate meals around it and inadvertently rolled the pens to the floor so many times that it became almost automatic to sit and reach down for a dropped implement.  When I put a cup of tea on it tonight, Buffy took it, opened it, and read it without asking for my consent.  However, we don't have much left in the way of secrets.

We have decided, the three of us, to keep a record.  Why?  I don't know.  We don't know.  We don't intend sending this anywhere.  We certainly don't intend that anyone but ourselves should even know about it.  We will write but reading our words would be too much.  What goes in here will stay in here, unchanged.  The necessity for us is the action.  It is an anchor, some routine, some stability.  We have drifted this past summer, ending here, in this city, in this flat.  A journal will be our place marker.  We do need our defining habits after all.

"You are to be the first entry, Giles," Buffy told me and I didn't bother to correct her grammar, nor did I bother to point out that I had already written the first, two weeks ago now.  Appropriately, hers is the first name mentioned.

We are the only ones left from Sunnydale:  Buffy Anne Summers. Willow Leah Rosenberg, Rupert Eric Giles.  We are the only survivors of the Ascension, if survivors is the right term.  We are simply here.  We exist but not much else.  It is Willow who feels it the hardest, who is the most beaten down.

The Mayor didn't survive his own Ascension.  Perhaps his own fault, some miscue, some forgotten part of his spell, some tribute overlooked.  We fought.  We had a plan, carefully worked out, a way to fight him.  We readied ourselves and looked in horror as everything came down on our heads.  We didn't win.  He didn't win either but that is irrelevant.  We have lost all.

Graduation day began with such a calm blue-sky and ended in the dark.  There is nothing left.  No people, no school, just a burnt patch of ground.  Buffy told me the word Sunnydale exists in an atlas she saw, but there is no other evidence of it.  The hellmouth, destroyed from the fallout of an Ascension out of control, did not go easily.  When it started, I grabbed the two dearest to me.  At the end, I held Buffy in my right hand and Willow in my left.  They were all I could hold.

The dead: Alexander Harris, Cordelia Chase, Oz - did I ever know his family name?  I'd ask Willow but perhaps it's better not to.  Both of Buffy's parents (Joyce and Hank Summers, the latter having made the trip to see his daughter's graduation).  The list of dead continues: Willow's parents, Amy Madison, Principal Snyder, the Mayor, and everyone in Sunnydale, screaming as the hellmouth opened beneath them and the sky caught on fire above.

Those we could not find: Angel, Wesley Wyndham-Price, Faith.  It was a gruesome task but we looked through the bodies and we dug graves for the people we knew.

The Watcher's Council ignores me.  Two telegrams, returned unwanted.  There are only the three of us, and now this journal.  We have gone from place to place, moving like the lost.

Buffy and Willow know what this entry will be and have left, a vague excuse about needing to buy milk as they went out the door.  They don't want to see the words.  They don't want to see my face as I record this.  We have agreed that this is to be an honest record from the three of us, but I get the brutal entry.

Did I say we were empty?  Gutted is more like it.  Dear God, it hurts to write.

Rupert Giles
October 23, 1999


I had to use an atlas to see how we went, to see how we'd moved between Sunnydale and where we are now.  I know that we, (Willow, Giles and I) walked and then took buses but I didn't really understand what we'd done until I looked it up on some maps at a library.  Giles said our route looks convoluted.  He always uses words I have to look up.  To me it looks like circles.  I traced it out and it looks like we could only go so far before we had to start back, only we never went all the way back, and eventually we just arced out to here.  I tried not to see the word Sunnydale but it's a long word and hard to avoid.  Finally I put my finger over it while I figured out how we'd gone.

Maybe I should start by saying that Giles put some stones in the place where my mom and I used to live, where our house used to be.  He and Willow said a prayer while I cried.  Without realizing it, he'd put the stones where the front door had been.  I didn't think I'd cry for my dad too but I did.  Then I felt so weird afterwards, like it hadn't really happened.  I knew this was some alternate world, like where Willow's vamp came from.  This was Anya's doing and Giles would do a spell and then I'd run from the library all the way home to find my mom drinking warm milk in the living room while she waited up for me.

Giles did the same at Willow's, made a marker with some stones.  She cried and cried.  After Giles said a prayer, he lifted her up and carried her away from it.  We didn't bother looking for his place.  We found a bit of clean ground beside an overturned truck and stayed there.  When daylight came, we started walking.

We walked down the highway, all the way to Rapier.  Around noon, a few cars passed us but nothing else.  No police, no fire trucks.  No nothing, just some old cars that we saw return later.

They didn't even stop.  They must have seen us.  Then Giles said maybe it was just as well.  Maybe they had something to do with the Mayor.  His people, or maybe his enemies, come to gloat.

We left the road, just in case, going across fields, and came into Rapier sideways.  It wasn't much of a town - a diner, a bank, a gas station, and, bizarrely, a lot where some guy was selling RV's.  Giles used the bank machine and found it took his card as if his bank was still standing somewhere.  So he emptied his accounts and we pocketed money in our burnt sweaty clothes.  He said it would be safer to spread it among the three of us.   Willow didn't have any pockets so she ended up putting 50 and 100 dollar bills in her socks.  I remember, when we went into the diner, she paid out of one of her socks.  Not that the waitress didn't have a reason to stare at us before.

Giles ordered tea, toast, and scrambled eggs, but we couldn't get much of it down.  After Willow paid, we went back outside and I suddenly puked it all up.  I remember Giles held me and didn't say anything when he wiped it off his shoes.

We took a bus to Stockton.  Giles and I left Willow in a motel room while we bought some clothes at Wal-Mart.  Jeans and sweatshirts and running shoes, in and out in ten minutes because he hadn't wanted to leave Will alone at all.  She'd hardly spoken since…..it all happened and hadn't said a word since Rapier.  We left her sitting on the bed and got back to find her still sitting there.  Just sitting.  Not a word.

Giles was a gentleman and said Willow and I should shower first.  When we undressed, all these wadded 100 dollar bills fell on the bathroom floor and I remember kicking them out the door and Giles picking them up and placing them in a row on the dresser.  After he showered, he left to send a telegram to the Watcher's Council.  While he was gone, I tried watching the black and white tv in the room and kept waiting and waiting for Anya's spell to end.  Finally Willow turned off the tv.  When Giles came back, he found us on the bed, and we were sobbing so loudly that he could hear us from the motel office.  But that's the point when I knew, when I *really* knew.  It had really happened and there was no spell and I would never see my mother again.

No Anya.  No other world.  No vampire Willow.  My mother is dead.

Buffy Summers
October 26, 1999


I get two entries in a row because Willow won't yet and Giles is asleep.  It's late and it's dark.  I used to spend nights in a cemetery.  Now I spend them watching over Will and Giles.

I borrowed that atlas from the library and have it in front of me right now.  I've already done the way we went once so I'm not going to do that again.  I just want to see where we are.

We're more north than I thought.  We're in Burton, Ontario, factories, docks and shopping malls.  That's what's here.  Forty minutes by bus to Lake Ontario where we go a lot.  Giles sits on the sand and reads, and Will and I walk by the water until our shoes get too wet and gritty.

We were in Denver for a while and also in Kansas City, but it didn't work out for us in either place.  Giles didn't want to use our real names, in case some of the Mayor's people were around.  But, without his name, he had no degree either and could only get jobs that didn't pay much or were only night shifts.  I didn't do any better.  Plus, too, we had to find hours that left one of us with Willow all the time.  Giles and I were really worried about her.  She'd cry or she'd be so quiet you couldn't hear her breathe.  There was nothing else - just tears and silence.  I came back from work one day to find Giles practically spoon-feeding her, trying to get her to eat, and the look of anguish on his face was almost as bad as the blank one on hers.  That's when he said we had to do something.  We couldn't go on like that.  And the motel manager was starting to wonder, an older guy with two girls, always paying in cash.  This was in Kansas City and, after I came in that day, we just packed our stuff.  Giles had a, well I wouldn't say friend, but he knew someone in Detroit who owed him a favour.  This guy thought we should go into Canada.  Giles pushed for England.  He said he had a house there and a cousin, estranged but still living.  What he really wanted, though, was to show up on the Watcher's Council's doorstep and make somebody pay.

We also found out from this guy, whether it's true or not, that the Council had written us off, officially declared us dead in the ruin in California.  A new hellmouth had opened in Jordan after the death of their king, and a new Slayer and Watcher were there.  Giles and I didn't exist.

That's when Giles started on about England, angry as hell, angrier than the night I found him at the factory, but I looked at Will, sitting on the end of the couch in a little ball.  I knew she couldn't go much further.  Canada was 3 hours to the border.  Add 1 hour for this guy to get us fake Citizenship papers.  So I told Giles we were going to go to Canada, find one spot, and stay there.  When Willow got better, we'd think about England.

We kept our first names but used Orwell as the last name on the papers.  Apparently the word was a code between Giles and Angel, an author they both liked..  If Angel…..if he'd survived, he'd find us by it.  We got on a bus, played returning tourist at the border, and left the States.

We travelled through Windsor, St. Catherines, and Toronto.  I decided our direction.  When we got to this city, and I saw a ton of smoking factories, I said to Giles there had to be some half decent work here.  Hit and miss.  I picked this place for the smoke.  We stepped off the bus, bought a newspaper, and went apartment hunting.

The second place we went to had a balcony.  Willow went onto it while we were talking to the superintendent.  I didn't see her, just Giles suddenly bolting past me.  I found out after that he was worried she might jump, but when he grabbed her arm, she said, "Look, Giles, a mountain," and she smiled.  It wasn't much of a mountain.  Cars travel up and down it daily, but the sight of it made her smile.  That's why we picked this apartment.

It needs paint, badly, and there's someone with a loud stereo on our floor, but there are 3 bedrooms and the view of the mountain, and it's cheap.  So here we are.

With his citizenship papers, Giles found a half-good job in a factory.  A few weeks later, he got a pretty good one with the city as a maintenance man.  It's bizarre to think of him changing light bulbs and cleaning floors at government offices and ice rinks.  It's even weirder to see him in work shirts.  The first time he put one on, Will frankly stared at him and asked, "Giles?"  But his is a decent wage and comes with a health and dental plan and some sort of tuition bonus for 'dependents in school'.  After the plan kicked in, he enrolled both Will and me in university.  He walked her back and forth to classes the first day, and I did the next.  After that, she seemed ok with it and went on her own.  Now I think she enjoys it.  I hope she does anyway.  Giles and I would do anything to make it ok for her.

She takes engineering and I'm taking accounting part time and working at a restaurant.  Between my tips and Giles' pay, we don't go hungry and I've even started a savings account.  I handle our money.  Giles simply hands his paycheck over, now that he knows how well I can do this.  I'm rather proud of it, actually.  I took care of my own bills and stuff that summer I ran away and did really well.  I even got ahead on the rent a little.

Will does the dusting and dishes, because Giles and I both hate those jobs.  He does the laundry, he and I share the cooking, and we all grudgingly do the rest of the cleaning.  We keep our schedules on a calendar taped to a kitchen cupboard.  We always know where the other two are.  I used to hate the 24-7 deal, Giles making me account for every minute of the day.  Now it's a comfort.

We have it all worked out.  Giles works, Will goes to school, and I take care of us.  When Will's finished school, we're going to England and we're going to kick those Watchers on the Council from Land's End to Newcastle and right up to the Orkney Islands.  (I know the way because I've got the atlas in front of me.)

They thought they'd leave us to die, those bastards.  But we didn't.

Buffy Summers
October 30, 1999


It's my turn.  Buffy keeps pushing this notebook to me every time we sit at the table.  I don't know what to write about but Buffy's determined we all should.  She says neither she nor Giles read it.  This book is just to write in and that I can put down anything.  I have no idea what they've written about and I don't want to look.  I turned to an empty page and started.

I'm glad she's so strong, so able to keep going.  I'm not.  I'm not griping that she is, though it's tiring sometimes.  Every once in a while I just want to stop and hide away a little, but if I do that, I'll start thinking about things and it'll start to hurt all over again.  Sometimes, for no reason, I just want to scream.

Right now, it's 7:30.  It's still light out and I have calculus equations to work on.  Buffy's in her room doing a spreadsheet for one of her classes and Giles is working until 11.  Tomorrow is Tuesday, when the movies are only 2 dollars to get in, and Buffy says we should go to one, do something fun. The last time I went to a movie, it was with Oz, Xander, and Cordelia.  It doesn't seem right to go without them.

It's November.  A lady in the elevator this morning said that there was snow by this time last year.  We only had snow once in Sunnydale.  It covered everything but melted within a few hours.  I wonder what winter will be like here, having to go to school on cold mornings.  Giles said that, in London, storms come that leave everything in ice.  I wonder if that will happen here.

I want to make sure Giles gets a winter coat.  He's out the most, on his way to work or coming back or running errands.  Sometimes I think he goes to a bar after work.  Not for long but it's time lost that I don't see on his schedule.  An hour maybe, here and there.  When he comes in, he smells like smoke, scotch too if I get close enough before he has a shower.  I don't say anything because he pushes himself hard and maybe this is his way of dealing with it.  But he always did push hard.  I think he always drank a little too.

He doesn't look like Giles.  If you were to see him…..before…..and see him now, without knowing the middle, you'd think it was another man.  He doesn't shave unless he has to go to work.  He doesn't wear suits.  He doesn't own a tie.  We'd get him one, if we thought he'd wear it.  It was just jeans and workpants until Buffy got mad at him one day and said she was tired of looking at him.  She called him a slob.  (I didn't.)  She dragged him to a mall to pick out clothes and tried to get him to go into a men's store, but he sat on a bench and wouldn't budge.  We ended up in Zeller's and the compromise was corduroys, which are still jeans (Buffy says) but he wouldn't go any further.  She got him a brown and a black.  If he's on afternoon shift, she goes into his room in the morning and says this shirt, those pants, until it's time to change for work.  They used to argue about it, him saying that if she didn't like to look at him, to look somewhere else, but this is about more than what he wears.  Buffy saw an ad in the newspaper for a librarian, and one a few days later for a teacher, but he wouldn't apply.  She even typed up a resume but Giles tossed it out with a final, "No."  I think he doesn't mind the job he has and maybe that's why he wants to stay.  Or else it's that he's on his own mostly if he works afternoons.  On the day shift, no one notices janitors anyway.  He says he walks by people and they don't see him.  I thought about it and don't recall much about the janitor at Sunnydale High either, so I see what he means.  And I know how he feels.  I sit at the back in my classes, near the door.  Those people where Giles works probably don't have any clue about who's walking by them, about who he really is.

November 1


It's a quiet bright day.  We've gone to the lake though it's a little cool.  The weather, and it being a weekday, have given us a nearly deserted beach, some women and children by the parking lot but no one else.

Willow wishes to learn how to defend herself.  It's the first time she's asked for anything, so Buffy is diligently teaching her the beginning moves of Taekwon-Do.  They're doing this on the sand and I have refrained from informing Willow what the consequences will be.  It's harder to move on ground that shifts under your feet.  Buffy and I trained on sand once and my calves ached for three days afterwards.

I woke this morning to the sound of Willow crying.  I rushed to the kitchen, dizzy from getting up too quickly, found her sobbing horribly, and Buffy standing bewilderedly by her, a yogurt container in her hand.  It was one of those drinkable yogurts the two of them like, with a twist off cap.  Buffy had pulled the cap with her teeth in a manner that Xander used to, and the sight of it caused the tears.  We are never prepared for the innocuous moments that bring it all back.

This shore reminds me of Skegness.  Seagulls, boulders, sand with stones all through it, and the smell of dead fish and factory pollution.  But it's the nicest view we have.  The only other is Willow's mountain which we can see from the balcony.  The rest of this city is buildings and so many people, I almost think I'm in London.  The money has the Queen on it as well, so we could be in England but for the colour of the bills.  Purple for a tenner.  Blue for the five.  Greens and pinks for the rest.  What a lot of dye they must go through at the mint.

I glanced up at a child's squeal and note that the two women with their strollers have come down the walk and are paused at the sight of Buffy and Willow on the sand.  We probably appear to be a father and his two daughters but I am always uneasy when we are noticed.  I also worry about Buffy, whose temper is now ever at the surface.  She is quick to defend against any perceived threat.

Finally, the women are continuing on, giving in to a toddler's demand for new scenery.

Is it right for us to stay so clear of people?  I don't feel as if we're out of harm's way but would I know if we were?  I have little experience with being safe.  I also have little experience with the life such as we lead now.  It's extraordinarily difficult to get used to being purposeless.  In a sense, this is the kind of life Buffy always told me she wanted.  School, a job, a place of her own.  Everyday activities, the same as other people's.  No patrolling.  No duties associated with being the Slayer.  No hellmouth.  No demons trying to kill her night after night.  But she seems as lost as I.  Both her hopes and mine are in one place, and that place is Willow.  Ironically, Willow is the one of us with the least hope.

It has been only five and a half months since the Ascension.  Willow has had no time to heal.  Perhaps we should try to reclaim some semblance of a so-called normal life.  I think Buffy has started in this direction for she said something this morning about a movie the two of them went to last night.  Coming up is the American Thanksgiving.  We let the Canadian one go by.  Perhaps, for the twenty-sixth, Buffy and I could attempt to cook a turkey, buy cranberries or whatever else is appropriate.  I'll need to discuss it with her first for this could be a good idea or a rather bad one.  Willow may have a history of Thanksgivings spent with Xander or her family or some such, and a celebration might cause her more pain.  We live in a minefield, the three of us.

Rupert Giles
November 3, 1999


Giles is very quiet to live with.  I never hear him go out or come in, but maybe that's what he's going for.  In all the time I've known him, he's never had to share his place.  He could do what he liked, whenever.  Now the only place he's got of his own is his bedroom, and Will and I go in and out of there all the time.

Will asked me this morning if we should knock, if we should give Giles some privacy back, but it's one of those issues that, if it's not broken, don't fix.  Only we don't know if it's not broken.  He and I have had, well, discussions, loud ones sometimes, but never about us going in his room.  There's also the thing too that none of us have much privacy.  It's not just him.  I think it has a little to do with sharing a bathroom, among the other things we now share.  You get to know a lot about someone when you see what they leave around the sink.

The bathroom reminds me of something that happened…..after graduation day.  In the morning, when we were walking down the highway, we were all silent because it was so huge.  It wasn't real yet.  All we knew was, we had to move.  We'd searched and dug graves and that had gotten us through the first hours.  All the movement and the needing to get it done.  But on the highway, it was just walking and our thoughts.  There was nothing else we could do.  My mind would fill with a thousand things, then there would be nothing.  When we got to a campground, I suddenly said, "I need the bathroom."  I hadn't noticed until I saw the washroom sign.  But the problem was, we couldn't let each other out of our sight.  When we were walking, we were holding something of the other two.  I was in the middle with a corner of Giles' jacket and a bit of Will's shirt, and he was holding her hand behind my back.  We weren't going to let go.

We went into the camp washroom and Giles was look-out, turning his back so we could have a little secrecy, but Willow wouldn't let go of him.  He understood and he didn't try to make her, but it was awkward.  Then, after we'd finished, he turned around and, I think, considered it for a moment.  Then he just unzipped and went too.

Willow stared.  She was clutched onto him, and I had the tail of his jacket again, so what else was he to do?  But she was so stunned by it, him peeing in front of her.  I don't know why, but neither of us looked away.

Anyway, I think that's where it started.  At least that's what I began thinking this morning when Willow asked if we should start knocking on Giles' bedroom door before going in.

When we were living in the motel rooms in Denver and Kansas City, Giles didn't have a door to knock on, or a bed of his own.  Will and I had the bed and he slept on the floor.  Sometimes he'd use the bed if he'd been on a night shift, but Will and I would go to a donut shop or watch tv quietly in the corner while he slept.  We've only been in this apartment 3 months but, when we first moved in and got a room each, it was weird.  The first night, I had to keep getting up to check on Will and Giles.  She was doing the same and Giles didn't bother trying to sleep.  He sat on the floor with his back against the wall, keeping watch.  It was like Will and I were on the highway again and needing to keep hold of Giles to get through.  She and I would start out in our own rooms but we couldn't stay.  I'd worry that he'd gotten up and left the apartment without my hearing him.  Will just needed to see him, to be sure that he was still there.  I'm sorry to say that we bothered him night after night.

When Giles had the job in the factory, he worked a few night shifts.  Will and I went into his bed and waited for him to come home, only being there must have been comfort enough for us, because we fell asleep.  He found us there the first morning and decided to crash on the couch so he wouldn't wake us.  When daylight came and we found he wasn't there with us, Will and I rushed through the apartment in panic and woke him with all our noise.  The second morning it was the same thing again.  The third morning, he laid down on the floor beside his bed and we stepped on him.  The fourth morning, he gave up and got into bed with us.

He doesn't work nights any more but the nightly game of musical beds continues, only it's not really like musical beds because we have the right number of beds.  We just travel a lot in the night.

In the daylight, we don't talk about this.  We don't at night either, really.  I notice he waits for Willow and I, though.  He reads until we come in, and then he turns out the light.

In the daytime, we're ok.  We really are.  At night we're not.  I can't explain it.  I never used to mind the dark.  Actually, it used to be a nice time, despite the vampires.  I used to have Angel then.

Now it's just dark.

Anyway, this morning, Willow asked, should we stop?  Should we knock on Giles' door, stay out of his room, let him have some space?  I said, well he hasn't said anything.  That's where she left the conversation and I let it drop too.  I didn't remind her that she was the one who started it.  She beat me into his room the first night.  Petty but there it is.  He was my Watcher but she beat me in.  And she was first for something else.  If she wants to start knocking on his door, she should be the one to start that too.

Buffy Summers
November 5, 1999


Wow.  I never knew Giles had a brother.  Or used to.  His brother died in 1989, just before Christmas.  His brother was named Winslow and he was two years older but he wasn't a Watcher.  He was a lawyer.

I caught Buffy's eye when Giles was telling us this and I think we were both wondering the same thing, though we didn't ask.  Giles comes from a line of Watchers so you'd think his brother would have been one too.  Maybe Winslow rebelled, like Giles.

Giles had a sister-in-law named Patricia but he hasn't seen her since the funeral.  He also has a cousin but he hasn't seen him since, as Giles put it, the Beatles broke up.  Except for us, Giles doesn't have anyone, but Buffy and I don't have anyone but him either.

He told Buffy about his brother after she came home ranting about a customer where she works.  She gets angry easily and Giles told her it was time to stop, to start controlling her temper.  It was not a suggestion and it came in the voice of a Watcher, which we haven't heard in a long time.

When he used that tone with her, I saw the flash in her eyes and I thought they were going to have another one of their fights (they have a lot of them), but he ordered her to shut up and listen to him for 2 minutes.  He told her about his brother.

Winslow died from AIDS.  Giles told us that, after Winslow was first diagnosed, there was a period of time when he seemed numb, when it hadn't really sunk in.  Overnight, it changed.  Giles said that Winslow would fly out over anything.  He was angry over what had happened to him and he judged everything by his diagnosis.  He had no patience for anyone who didn't have AIDS.  Giles said it went on for a long time and that Buffy was doing the same thing.  That she had lost tolerance for people who hadn't suffered what she had.  When he said that, it all made sense to me because I'd been feeling it too and couldn't figure out why.  At school one day, one of the students in my physics class got upset because the professor gave us a paper, due the next day, and she'd had plans for that evening.  She made a big scene out of it and it was all I could do not to yell at her.  It was so unimportant.  On the scale of human suffering, it didn't even rate, and the more she kept going on about it, the harder and harder it was for me not to stand up and yell at her.

With Buffy, it started in Kansas City.  She almost got into a fight in a diner and also yelled at some kids on a street corner.  In Detroit, she started slugging the guy who Giles knew, and Giles had to pull her off him.  It's starting again here.  Almost every night, she's come home ticked off about something, and she and Giles can also get into arguments that send me ducking into another room.  When Giles put his foot down tonight, I thought, oh no, here it comes again.  But after he told us about Winslow, Buffy got really quiet.  Then she started to cry.  That made me cry and poor Giles ended up frantically trying to calm us down while we sobbed all over his shirt.

After the onslaught settled, Giles made us tea that tasted bitter underneath.  He'd made it exceptionally strong but it wasn't enough to overcome what he'd added.  Buffy took a sip and figured it out immediately, drinking it down with a wince.  I recognized it finally by the smell.  Scotch, I think it was.  I don't know of anything else he drinks.

I have to stop these tears.  They wring me out and leave me hollow.  Or only cry at those times when I'm alone at night, hide it in there and free Giles from it.  It's the one thing Buffy and I do that he consistently can't deal with.

We have got to stop a great deal more than our crying, actually.  I feel like those birds that circle endlessly over the shore at the lake.  The factories have poisoned most of the fish but the birds don't know that, and they circle and circle until exhaustion drops them into the tide.  I don't want to smash and drown.  I need to stop going around.

It's the first time I've felt this way since Oz and Xander died.  I thought most of me had gone with them but, every so often, some pin prickling feeling returns.  Tonight I saw Giles at the table with a book and only a lamp beside him for light, and I had a flash of warm safety, the way I used to feel in the library.  A hundred vampires outside but I would run through the library doors, see him at the table, and know he'd make all of the bad things go away.  Buffy is the fury but Giles is the strength, giving weapons beforehand and solace afterwards.

I wonder how he keeps on, how he can get up every day, go out the door, pushing a path forward for us.  He has his blind spots and his stubborn male streak.  He can be surprised and he can be overwhelmed.  And he can break.  Yet, somehow, in the midst of all this, he hasn't.

Does he have any hopes for himself or are they all for us?  Does he depend on us as much as we do on him?  Without us, would he have bothered at all?  Stayed in Sunnydale, choosing a place to lie down and giving in, shutting his eyes until the darkness came?

And Buffy, what does she hope for?  Does she hope at all?  She went through horror after horror with Angelus, and ran away for a time afterwards, but came back with a determination for college and girl stuff and hope for the future.  But I don't see any of that now.  I've never seen her like this, a Slayer stripped almost clean, the way that Council probably wants.  Constant anger, quick action, no dwelling after.  One single purpose.

Giles goes after her hard about it.  He won't let her get away with the fighting or the lashing out, and I think I understand why.  He's trying to keep hold of those things that keep her human.  He doesn't want her burned clean.  He doesn't want a Slayer.  He wants her to be someone with an open path before them, and he'll fight Buffy like hell for it.

I think this is the only issue between them, though it's camouflaged by all the other things they battle over.  I don't recall them ever having confrontations in Sunnydale.  Maybe they kept it away from the rest of us or maybe he backed off or maybe she had enough in her life to keep her balanced.  Maybe I'm part of the problem here for she's constantly protecting me.  Anything happens whatsoever and she's right in front of me.  It's part of the reason why I asked her to teach me self-defense.  The other thing I want to reclaim is the spellcasting, though I'll need to approach Giles for that.  I checked the library at the university, and also a new age store here, but there's nothing much.

I almost asked him tonight when he was sitting at the table, but stopped myself.  He's let a lot of what he used to do in Sunnydale fall away, including the magic.  Whether it's deliberate or not, I don't know.  Anyway, it's easier to ask him things at night, when the three of us are secure and sheltered under the covers.  That's when we talk, Buffy around his one arm and me enclosed in his other, my cheek pressed into the soft hair on his chest.  We don't talk about Sunnydale or our past or anything that makes Buffy or I cry, but we share our day.  It's how we keep centered, or in the illusion of being so.

We have a routine at night.  We go to our separate rooms and maybe stay there an hour, but usually less, then she and I go to him.  I don't quite understand how we got into this habit and in the beginning we were all over the apartment, looking for ways to try to sleep.  We were also all over the apartment looking for him, for I needed him to keep the panic away.  I think we fell into Giles' bed out of sheer haggardness and he was too zonked to leave.  Now his bed is my bed, and my bed is just an accessory.

Lately I've been feeling guilty over this.  When he was Buffy's Watcher, I knew he was a male underneath his suit, but he was remote in Sunnydale.  He hugged me once and that was when he thought I'd been vamped but found out I hadn't been.  He apologized immediately, and again a few days later, in that self-conscious way he has.  Now it's completely the other way and I don't know how he feels about it.  He gives us the privacy of our rooms.  Once he came as far as the doorway to mine but immediately got the look of a male lost in the depths of a female boudoir.  In his room, though, Buffy and I have invaded and taken over completely.  He has to crawl over one of us when he wants to get out of bed, and we keep tampons in his dresser to save a trip into our room if we have to change one at night.  But, the thing is, he is a man and he used to be a very solitary one.  I suspect he lived 99 percent of the time on his own.  Now the only time alone he has is, well, I don't know of any at home.  Buffy and I have even gone into the bathroom while he's taking a shower.  He is a man with 2 women constantly at him.

Maybe that's part of why he doesn't mind his job.  He volunteers for the afternoon and weekend shifts, which means he spends most of the time pretty much by himself, the office buildings usually emptying out by 4 o'clock.  Add to that the side trip to a bar after work, and maybe that's how he snatches his privacy back.  I've refrained from mentioning my suspicions about his side trips to Buffy but I think she knows anyway.  It's one of the items in the not-discussed column in our lives.  One of the many big items.  I'm also scared that opening something big up might cause a huge argument between Buffy and Giles, the kind of argument where the man storms off in a huff and doesn't come home for hours.

But, damnit, I'm so sick of that column!

November 8


I think it has come round to my turn.  I haven't checked the entries but Willow's writing is on the page before this and I saw Buffy with the notebook last Friday.

I hoped to speak to Willow this morning for I see by her schedule that her first class isn't until ten forty-five, but she said she wished to check an occult bookstore in the west end.  Buffy is in the shower, having mumbled a vague threat about taking me clothes shopping before going in there.  I could leave now but Buffy is remarkably persistent and I'd only be delaying the inevitable.

Mrs. Ricco's cat is in the hallway again.  I hear it periodically at  the door, looking for Willow, no doubt, as she feeds it.  Buffy has named the cat Willow's Familiar, which is not much of a joke now that Willow has informed me she wishes to return to the study of magicks.

Which brings me back to why I wished to speak to her.  I am happy she is picking up again, returning to some of those pleasures she had before graduation day, but why has she picked this particular endeavor?  It has only ever given me a false sense of power and a realm of demons on my head.  I have no difficulty with Wiccans.  For the most part, they and I have left each other alone and, if there were a local chapter, I would willingly pay the dues for Willow's membership.  But there is nothing here of that nature.  There is only what knowledge I possess and perhaps something non-mainstream in the back of that shop she is visiting this morning.  As for what I know, I have spent these last months trying unsuccessfully to forget.

Why can't these young women find things to do in the sunshine?  Outside somewhere, away from books and pentagrams?  This city, this apartment may have much to do with their mood.  It is dismal here, dim and smoky and constantly on the move.  They should be eating breakfast in a sunlit kitchen, riding horses in green meadows, and bicycling down country lanes to their classes - all things I could provide for them if I could get them to England, to my house and property in Suffolk.  My inheritance is waiting for me and I would willingly spend it all on them if it would make them happy and content and planning a future that they don't seem yet to realize is theirs.  I tried to speak to Buffy about this but she seems determined not to take anything more financially than my paycheque.  Her plan also is to let Willow complete her first year before transplanting her.  "Too many changes, too soon, Giles," she said.  "And too much distance."  Buffy may have some merit to her thinking, but it bothers me to see them live this way.  As well, I think Buffy has hopes of Angel and doesn't want to travel any farther away.  He returned from hell once.  Twice is asking a little much but I hate to destroy even the faintest prospect for her.

She finished her shower and let that damn cat in here.  This ink smudge on the paper is from when it jumped up on my lap.  Why does it come for me, I wonder, when I have no use for it?

Perhaps I might distract Buffy away from buying me more clothes by suggesting we shop for Thanksgiving dinner.  We will also need to find out how to cook a turkey - the seeking of the bird and the recipe might conceivably occupy the time until I can leave for work.  I'm not a meat eater and have no idea how to avoid salmonella poisoning, nor have I any clue what might go into stuffing though Buffy said something about my personality being part of the mix.  I'm not a stuffy man.  I'm just tired.

I also have the ultimate ace up my sleeve in terms of distracting her, though I don't care to play this winning hand.  I see under the obituaries a death notice which rings every internal alarm I possess.  Buffy is still technically a Slayer and I believe sending her to the funeral home is in order.  I'll need to make a stake for her.  Oddly, we don't have one and haven't for months.  This has been a blessing of sorts but any city this size attracts a few demons and I should have made a few for her when we first came.

Buffy opened the refrigerator which sent the cat off my lap like a projectile with claws.  I have fur on my lap and scratches I can feel through my trousers.  Lovely.

Rupert Giles
November 11, 1999


We've adopted Willow's Familiar.  Willow bought a litter box and a catnip mouse, so the adoption went without saying.  I should have seen it coming for she takes in all the strays - 7 gerbils from Xander through the years and Amy during her rat-state.

Giles saw the litter and asked, "Won't Mrs. Ricco miss her pet?" to which Willow replied simply, "Out of the 40 she has left?"  Good one, Will.

I could understand Giles' reluctance.  The cat treats him like a moving scratching post.  Also it's a girl cat.  Another female in our apartment.  He's got the only testosterone in the place.

This feline, in true female fashion, adores tormenting him.  Will and I watched in amusement as she worked on a pounce that took a good 40 minutes to set up and deliver. Willow's Familiar pretended to be lounging on the floor several feet behind Giles' chair, but every few minutes would edge 1 1/100th of an inch closer to him.  Looking directly at the cat, you couldn't see the progression.  It was only if you looked away for a while that you'd notice.

Giles knew something was up.  He kept glancing at her and she'd respond by opening one eye and purring innocently.  The pounce continued until he looked back, didn't see her, and stood just as she jumped up from directly between his legs.

The impact was startling.  Giles' voice went up an octave and not just from the surprise. Willow's Familiar, who hadn't expected him to move when he did, hit him face-first rather than claws-first.  It took them both a few moments to recover, then they slunk off to opposite ends of the room and exchanged dirty looks while Willow and I laughed until we nearly wet ourselves.

Giles has begged (for good reason) that W.F. not come in his room.  It's the responsibility of the last one in to make sure the cat hasn't sneaked in but, with 3 of us, someone will eventually need the bathroom, and that's when W.F. gets her chance.  It's unnerving, considering some of the stuff we do in there, to glance down and discover her watching us from the bottom of the bed.  I've never had a pet, so I'm not used to things like this, but she's adorable with Will and I.  She loves to snuggle at our backs when we sleep.  So I guess I can get used to the other.  If Giles wakes up and finds her though, she's out, and not silently.  I think he argues with her as much as he does with me.

Willow's Familiar is 1 good thing that's happened this week.  The other is Giles' deduction of vamp activity.  He picked up on a vibe from the classifieds and sent me to a funeral home where I found 1 just rising in the coffin and another one outside.  I don't mean to sound weird about it, but I've missed this.  It was quite satisfying to smack a couple of demons and send them into dust spore.  I wouldn't say this to Will or Giles but maybe being a Slayer is in my chromosomes or nerve endings.  It's something I need to do, that I can't really go without.  I came home afterwards feeling happy and, I don't know, but a lot better.  Giles and Will found me playing stalk and capture with Willow's Familiar and giggling out loud.  Willow joined in on the game and everything was ok again.  It felt like how we were before all the bad came.

Willow is doing spells again.  Giles insists they only be little ones right now, starting from scratch, as W.F. would say.  He's not happy about it, but he can't say no to Will.  We moved the furniture against the walls in the living room, and thought we might have to shut W.F. in a room because of the candles, but she is as solemn as Willow during it and stays carefully away from the flames.

Willow did a few alchemy ones, changing 1 thing into another, and a glamour one which made her and me look a little bit like Kate Winslet.  She finished with one called cupidity, which kind of turned us on.  After she cast it, she leaned over and kissed Giles, the first time she's ever kissed him outside the dark of his bedroom, and took him totally unaware.  He got all red and stuttery, the first time I've seen him so in a year if not more, and mumbled something about destroying the page for that spell before extinguishing the candles, but I thought it was pretty neat myself.

With the good feelings starting again, I could almost give in to Giles' wish to go to England, except I still think Angel will find his way to us.  Giles is awfully silent on this subject, and I haven't said anything about it to Will, but I keep hoping that I'll go out the door some night and Angel will be there.  I jog every night and there's a stupid part in me that turns every corner and looks for him.  He found his way to me once, from the worst place possible, and I know he can do it again.  We never found his body, so I just know that he's still somewhere, that he can find me.  But if we go to England, that's so much farther he'd have to travel, so much more time before I'd see him.

Reading this last paragraph back makes me sound like a 16 year old girl again, babbling on about her boyfriend while she puts his picture in a frame bordered in frilly pink lace.  I shouldn't have read the last paragraph, only I'm trying to figure out what we should do next.  Stay here or go to Suffolk.

Maybe it's time for us to read this journal.  None of us have, I don't think.  I know for sure none of us have read the first pages, where Giles said he wrote about graduation day.  And I don't want to bring it all back, especially not to Willow who I was so scared for.  But going forward means facing our past (I read that somewhere and I know, deep inside, that it's true.)

I'll talk to Will and Giles about it tomorrow and find out how they feel.  Well, I know how Giles feels so it's Willow I need to ask.  I've been making the most decisions but going to England, to leave this continent behind, to cross an entire ocean, is so big.  It has to be the resolve of all 3 of us.

Buffy Summers
November 15, 1999


We had a long talk today, Buffy, Giles and I.  It frightened me because we starting hitting those issues under the big-item column and I tensed up a dozen times, waiting for Giles and Buffy to detonate.

They didn't, and we entered a choice number of places too.  Some of the hardest ones.  And not a single raised voice came out of it.

What we covered - our futures (Buffy's and mine), England (where I hadn't realized Giles wanted to go), Angel (Buffy's hope), and why we're staying here (which I never understood but now see is Buffy's choice).

Buffy thinks we should read this journal.  I'm undecided and Giles wants to burn it, unopened, right now.  (He even got the matches but Buffy stopped him.)  I read Buffy's last entry and it wasn't bad but it made me uncomfortable.  I can't begin to imagine what the rest must be like and if we shouldn't just destroy it the way Giles suggested.  We never wrote it with the idea that the other two might read it.  Even though it always sat around on the table, we never broke the trust.

Tentatively, we are going to read it together on Thanksgiving day.  That is, unless one of us comes up with a really good reason before then (and embarrassment probably doesn't count).  And we'll make a decision about England afterwards, if we're still on speaking terms.  I say that last bit as a joke but it isn't.  Buffy's last entry makes us sound a little depraved with her reference to what we do at night.  So I need to write this, not just because Buffy and Giles will read it, but because it's the truth.  Giles and Buffy are, along with Oz and Xander, the most decent people I've ever known.

That statement looks lame.  We made a promise, when we started this journal, to write whatever we wanted as long as it was honest.  But that was a promise when we didn't think we'd ever read the words again.  It was meant to be a way to purge, then heal.  I'm not convinced we need to go back over it.

But, in case we do, I want to make Buffy's last words more clear.  The three of us have come together sexually.  We don't talk about it AT ALL, and I think Giles feels the worst over it, which only proves what a decent man he is.

Until we moved into this apartment, we were together 24 hours a day, practically, but we weren't intimate.  When we got here, and went through all the back and forth until we fell into sleeping in Giles' bed, we still weren't intimate.  Well, not all 3 of us anyway.  Buffy and I spent a little time together, and Giles knew because she and I lost track of time one night while we were on the couch.  He came home from work and walked in on us, but he didn't say a word.  He turned around and went to bed like he'd seen nothing more than us playing chess or cribbage.

But she and I started slowly.  What happened on the couch came after a lot of effort not to.  When Giles came into it, it was much later still.  We laid beside him, holding on to him, night after night, and he never did anything but make us feel protected.  And he never said anything at all over what he'd seen on the couch.  I have no doubt that his words in this journal, meant for no one's eyes whatsoever, make absolutely no reference to it.  I know that as sure as anything.  At the bottom of it, he loves Buffy and me more than his own life, and he's done nothing to ever make me feel dirty or used.

Now this looks like I'm going overboard in the other direction.  When I've finished, I'll read it over, and if it looks silly, I'm going to pull these pages out and rip them up.

But here's how it happened.  It wasn't a big decision.  We didn't mull it over and over.  Buffy just turned to me one evening and said, "Let's love him."  And I nodded.  He'd been there with us, night after night, not doing anything at all, but we were there too, holding him in return, and he felt wonderful.

I always have his right side and Buffy his left.  I have most of his chest for a pillow and she drapes one of her legs overtop of his.  It sounds clumsy but it's comfortable, as long as he doesn't roll too much in the night.  It's how we sleep every night.

After he came home from work that one evening, and we were settled, Buffy got up on her elbows, put her legs around his rather than between, and kissed him.  She got the first and third kisses.  I got the second and the nice scruffy area at his jaw.  I went back for my turn.  He pushed her away, me, then her again.

That probably would have decided it but Buffy leaned across his chest and started kissing me.  And then we started doing a little more, right on top of Giles who was starting to fidget like he'd suddenly found an ant hill under him.  A part of him began to react.  I don't see how he could have helped it.  He was a man in bed, underneath 2 women who were making love.  So, if anyone was depraved, it was Buffy and me.  Not that I felt that way (and still don't) - I'm just trying to say that it wasn't him.

And it was dark which made it secret.  There was only a little bit of streetlight through the blinds.  It could never have happened that first time in the day, and never has since.  It's an act of desperation, done in the quiet, unspoken and fast.  Buffy moves the most, explores the most, her touches like long peacock feathers.  I love the explosion, like I'm whipping breathlessly through the sky.  But Giles sounds sad when he comes, like his heart is breaking.

I had him first.  It just happened.  Buffy was on top of me and I was on top of him.  When he started to get hard, I reached down and slipped him in.  Buffy discovered it a few minutes later and it stopped her.  But then he kissed her and we went on.

I think she should have been first.  This is such a strange area and I don't know the protocol, but it should have been her.  She gets him more times than me, so maybe that makes up for it.

Sometimes it's just me and her, but it's never just him and one of us.  We know better.  He never initiates it and we never talk about it.  But what would we say?

November 16


Buffy wants us to read this journal.  A bad idea and not just for the embarrassment.  What Buffy and Willow have written is their own.  It could be innocuous but I doubt it.  We know where our pain lies and every reminder is in here.  Do we need to read it, correcting the spelling as we go to keep from dealing with the memories that will come back, and giving each other looks because we never suspected the entirety of their side?  And it will only end with those two crying again, specifically Willow who is still so fragile.

Buffy never read my Watcher's Journals and there was a very good reason for that.  They were never intended for her.  If she'd had access, it would have edited the record and made a futile bit of uselessness for succeeding Watchers.  This notebook is not a Watcher's Journal, and it has remained remarkably small for all our intent to write faithfully, but it shared the same intent as my previous journals - that it was not to be written for us.

It occurs to me that this entry is futile in itself.  What Buffy decides is what will be.  I don't give a damn if she reads this sentence and doesn't like it.  Rather, 'when' she reads this sentence.  I feel too tired to care.  I am suddenly so very, very exhausted.

Rupert Giles
November 16, 1999


Buffy and I got in yesterday to find Giles in bed, shivering so brutally that we could see the covers trembling from the doorway.  Too sick even to deal with the cat who was in bed with him, poking him and mewing piteously.

We ran to him in sheer hysteria and he kept saying that it was nothing, just a headache, he was ok, and to leave him alone.  He wouldn't admit that he was sick and even started to get up, as if he was going to go to work.

Buffy and I both slammed him back into the pillows.  I didn't mean to push him so hard and Buffy's strength is awesome even when she's being gentle.  Giles went down with a whoomp, and Buffy called him in sick to his job while I made chicken broth.

She was so upset.  She kept pacing around the kitchen.  I asked why was he trying to hide it from us?  I thought maybe it was a stubborn male thing but Buffy said no, when guys are sick, they generally go down like babies.  I couldn't picture Giles that way but I remember Xander with the stomach flu once and he drove me right up the wall with it.

We stayed with him all last night, one of us in a chair and one at the door ready to call a taxi for the hospital.  The cat stayed with him too, lying against his shoulders and licking his neck every so often.  But I think it was just a flu or that he finally reached the end of his strength and needed to stop for a little while.

His fever eased a little after midnight and he slept soundly until eleven this morning.  We let him get up then to use the bathroom but insisted he get back in bed right after.  That's when he tried to say that he was all right and not to worry, that we could still depend on him.  And, all of a sudden, I understood.

"But we can depend on you, Giles," Buffy told him, firmly too, severely.

He kept saying, "No, no, you really can," and she finally sat on the edge of the bed and said with a smile, "You dumb man."  She hugged him from one side and I did from the other.  "We're a team, Giles," Buffy said.  "We lean on you, you lean on us, and then it comes around again.  It's ok."  That's when I got it.

Buffy had been making a lot of the decisions but that was her ramrod way of trying to take some of the load off Giles.  And he'd been fighting her without realizing why she was doing it.

Then she admitted she'd been blind about Angel.  She said, "He's not coming this time."

Giles touched her cheek as he shook his head no, and I thought, if she cries, I'll take care of her.  But she didn't.  She looked so small on the bed as she said it, but she didn't cry.

Then I told them that I was in charge today.  I called Giles in sick again and made him soup and tea.  He's in his bedroom with it now and, when I left, W.F. was trying to steal a cracker.  Buffy went to her job but she'll be back after the dinner rush, around 7.  I'll have supper waiting for her too and I've cleaned the whole place from top to bottom.  I even scooted out quickly while Giles was sleeping this afternoon, and got some Kit Kats (Buffy's favourite) at the corner store.

It really is ok.

November 17


I got in from work tonight to find Willow on the couch, reading the journal.  The sight really threw me and I sat down beside her and asked, "Is it all right?"

She smiled, kind of shrugged, and said, "I can tell you right now why Giles doesn't want to read this.  And he won't."

We folded her page, I read from the beginning to where she stopped, and we finished it together.  Afterwards, we sat there, feeling really strange and depressed.  W.F. came out, nudged our legs, and when we didn't pet her, she jumped to the window sill behind us and ignored us.  A few moments later, it sounded like she was batting around everything in sight.  Will and I both turned and saw that it was snowing.  Huge flakes, drifting and swirling.  W.F. thought she could reach them and she was going crazy with it.

"Silly girl," Willow told her.  We went out onto the balcony, Willow holding W.F. tightly in case she got the idea to jump, and let the snow fall all over us.

"This is incredible," I said.  I'd only ever seen snow once before and it had disappeared so fast.  I looked at Willow, in the midst of the sparkling dancing fall, and she never looked so beautiful.  She really is a lovely woman.

"It snows in England," she said, and we both smiled together.  Then we went to Giles, laughing and wet, with a damp cat in our arms.  Willow said, "Guess where we're spending Thanksgiving, Giles?" and we fell on top of him and hugged him fiercely.

November 17, 1999

The End
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