Disclaimer: Not mine, never will be!
Summary: Destiny... is it written in stone?
Notes: This is finally the start of my re-write. If you have managed to stumble across the original story you may have an indication of where this will be heading, but it'll be a completley different trip! This prologue is unbeta'd because I wanted to make good on my promise to post it before the end of 2005!
Timeline: Start of season six, *right* at the start of season six - and then? It's all gonna change...
Characters: This is actually a Xander-centric ensemble fic. Does that make sense? *g*
It was strange how little space the sum of one’s life filled. Two packing crates and what would once - in another life - have been called a trunk contained all trace of Rupert Giles’ existence, at least, all parts of his life on this side of the Atlantic that is. It was time to go, but he didn’t feel ready. On the surface there was little left to keep him here, he knew he should feel some sense of self gratification. He would go down in the written history as the longest serving field Watcher, the period of estrangement which had so recently been ended would be overlooked and his achievements would be celebrated. He was under no illusions, however, that accomplishment had very little to do with him.
Ultimately, his fate was that for which every Watcher was destined - save a lucky few - the ignominy of outliving one’s charge, of watching the fabled angel of history pile wreckage on the legacy of what had been accomplished by the death of one girl. He was no fool; he knew that the next Watcher called had already been schooled in how best not to replicate his - Giles’ - mistakes. The Slayer, Buffy, was irrelevant, it was only his management of her that mattered. Or at least that was the official line, one which he had always resented and one which, with the unknowing encouragement of Buffy and her cohorts, he had tried to break.
Now, however, he saw how foolish he had been. The line could never be broken, not by him. All of it, everything they had done over the last five years had been for naught. Sighing heavily, he stepped back, there was nothing left to pack, nothing more to do. No more excuses.
The bell over the door jangled and he remembered that he had always planned to remove that but somehow - like many things he had planned - he had never quite gotten round to it.
“I’m telling you, pretty soon the average American consumer won’t have to leave their homes, they’ll be able to meet all their purchasing needs via the internet. It’s definitely the way to go, I think - once I take control, *if* I ever get to take control - that’s going to be one of the first things I do. I mean, we’ve already got the website, which - by the way - you haven’t told me what you think of, it seems the next logical step to use e-commerce. Don’t you think?”
He found himself smiling despite himself. Everyone was stepping on eggshells around each other right now, but there was something refreshingly… refreshing about Anya’s continued perkiness. If only it was as infectious as it had once been. He knew he himself was a source of frustration for her, she wasn’t shy about telling him so, his promise to cede responsibility for the running of the shop to her hadn’t been made lightly, and yet he was still here. The nascent smile faded, no, he really had no choice left, there was nothing more he could do here.
“I guess so,” came the distracted sounding reply. “Giles? You in here?” he looked up as the door to the backroom opened and Xander poked his head around the door. “No point hiding you know, those pesky customer’s will still find you.”
“What? Oh… yes, I’ll be right out.” He said. Xander stood for a moment, watching him with an inscrutable expression on his face before retreating. Giles watched him go and found a cautious optimism rising in him. Maybe it hadn’t all been for naught; after all he’d done more in his time in Sunnydale than act as Watcher to Buffy. Far more.
He could only hope it had been enough.
To be continued...