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Disclaimer: The characters are the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, Sandollar Productions, Kuzui Enterprises, 20th Century Fox Television, the WB Television Network, and whoever else may have a hold on them. I do not mean to infringe upon any copyrights.

Authors Notes: This is my first story, so feedback is appreciated. Thanks to Gail, who is great and had constructive comments. I really don’t like angst, but apparently, that’s what I write. This takes place a few weeks after Graduation Day II. Wesley has lingered and Xander never left, but Angel did. Enjoy!
March 2005

Wesley was looking at something on the floor, a look of aggravation and pity twisting his features. Giles shifted, his view from the porch blocked as Wesley moved around the room, his frustration and impatience clear as he began speaking.

“Buffy, you must pull yourself together. You are the Slayer, and while I have pity for your situation, you have a duty to fulfill. People are in danger.” Wesley was frantic, trying to be kind and failing miserably, his impatience and desperation finally consuming him. It had been over two weeks since the incident, and he was getting quite desperate. He was not strong enough to handle the problem, and Joyce had just received a call from Mrs. Rosenberg. Willow had not returned home. Buffy had walked her home over two hours ago. There really was not a question as to what had happened, even though Buffy had walked her home before dusk to try to minimize the risk. Apparently, she had been lured outside after Buffy had left.

Xander had disappeared the day before, almost fifteen hours before Willow was taken. They had been desolate, not wanting to believe, not wanting to accept the reality.

Giles was gathering his family.

It had been two weeks since the attack, successful only because he was careless with his safety, trying to protect both Wesley and Buffy. The group had never found Giles’ body. They were all hoping he had been drained then abandoned and the vampire that grabbed him did not realize the importance of his victim. Buffy had known though, deep within her, that he was not gone. She had spent these past weeks desperately searching for him, looking everywhere, assuming he would take her first since she was the most serious threat. She underestimated him, as usual. She was drowning in guilt, her inability to kill another vampire, this one so much more dangerous than her last failure.

Buffy was sitting on the floor, knees hugged to her chest, staring at a photo, practically comatose in her grief. Joyce hovered by the entrance to the living room, helpless in the past weeks to comfort her daughter. Xander and Willow had been Buffy’s only consolation, that they were safe, that she had not failed to protect them. Joyce wasn’t sure how Buffy was going to overcome this and do what needed to be done. She wasn’t positive Buffy would kill the creature Giles had become. Joyce’s greatest fear was that Giles would come for her daughter and she wouldn’t resist.

Evaluating the scene inside the Summer’s living room, his decision to wait changed. She would never be more vulnerable, or pathetic. He had assumed that when his soul had been released, and the bond was broken, it would have taken her longer to become fractured to this degree. They had never acknowledged the bond and they had been distant these few weeks since graduation. In fact, they had been separated for much longer the summer she ran away. He could only assume the stress of Xander and Willow’s disappearance and his death had combined to cause such a quick deterioration. She looked as if she was barely functioning. That would change soon, though, he would make sure of it. Giles had come for his Slayer; she would be with her new family soon.

He walked through the door; Wesley’s voice concealing the turning of the knob and his approach. He made a mental note to speak to Willow about not removing his invitation. He could not have his childe being so careless in the future.

Coming up behind Joyce, he quickly snapped her neck. Buffy would be more compliant with her mother dead. He didn’t want to deal with Joyce as a bargaining piece. He had considered it, but decided she was better dead. Her presence would only strengthen Buffy’s resolve. Since he was not sure if he was going to turn or keep her as his human pet, he wanted her as malleable as possible.

As Joyce’s body fell, Wesley turned at the movement, only to receive a blow across the jaw, knocking him unconscious. Buffy had lifted her head as Joyce hit the floor, pulling her out of her stupor. She struggled to her feet, but was unable to reach Wesley before he too, fell.

Giles stood in front of her, with a soft look, almost as if he had missed her. He reached out and pulled her toward him.

“What took you so long? I felt you watching me, but I couldn’t find you” Buffy sobbed as she threw herself into his waiting arms. “I felt like there was a part of me that was torn away, as if I were incomplete without you. I felt so lost.”

Giles murmured, “Shush, everything will be all right now. You are feeling the effects of our severed bond. That’s why everything seems so overwhelming. The bond helped dampen your emotions, when I died, that was removed.” He stroked her hair, holding her close and gently rocking her back and forth. “I have come to take you home. I had to have everything in place. I didn’t want to compromise your or the other’s safety. You are all too important.” Giles pulled her close, cuddling her to his chest and placing a kiss on the top of her head. “We need to hurry and return to Xander and Willow.”

He lifted his hand and drifted his fingers down the side of her face, wiping away her tears. She grabbed his hand and pressed it to her cheek, closing her eyes, then turned and kissed his palm. She flinched as she took a breath. “There’s blood on your hand.” Buffy whispered as she opened her eyes, looking up at him in confusion.

“Yes, our Willow struggled a bit, but Xander was there to comfort her.” Buffy closed her eyes and nodded. The last bit of hope she had held that her friends had not fallen to Giles died at his statement, spoken so calmly and matter of fact. As she turned, she spotted her mother lying crumpled on the floor. Her heart lurched, and the sight was almost enough to jolt her out of the emotional stupor she had been drowning in since Giles went missing. As her inner voice took a deep breath to scream it’s rage, Giles caressed the side of her face curling his hand around her neck, distracting her. His hand was warm and dry. “Darling,” he whispered placing his face close to her ear, “it was for the best, she has no place in our new family. You have always been my beloved, and our family will bring about a new world.” As Giles spoke, Buffy realized he was correct. She would not want her mother to suffer. With Xander and Willow dead, her mother was the one thing left Buffy would have fought to save. He knew exactly how to manipulate her. Damn. She ignored the coppery smell of his breath and the faint stink of fear that clung to him. She could smell Willow and Xander on his clothing. Her sense of smell was something she never talked about, mostly because it freaked her out, the ability to recognize people by their smell. She realized Giles’s hand was warm because he had recently fed. “Oh, God! You ate Willow! She jerked away, squeezing her eyes shut and taking a deep breath.

At Giles’ smile, Buffy felt nauseous, she put her hand over her mouth. “Don’t worry Darling, even though she was turned first, it doesn’t mean she will ever be superior to you. Remember, you will retain some of your Slayer abilities. You will be magnificent.” He said this with such pride; she looked at him, almost forgetting what he had become, what he had come to turn her into. Somehow, she could not find the will or a reason to resist. Her mother was dead and technically so was Giles, Willow and Xander. She had nothing, and this creature in Giles’ body, with his beautiful eyes, was offering an alternative to the hell she had been living the weeks since he had disappeared.

“Darling, it’s time to go, the others are waiting. Do you want to gather some things?”

Buffy picked up the photo she had dropped, and a picture frame from the side table. Looking into this creature’s eyes, Giles’ eyes, seeing his satisfaction in her submission, she still could not make herself pierce his heart and end his existence. No matter what would become of her when they joined the others.

“This is all I need, let’s go.”

He put his arm around her shoulder as he turned them toward the door, blocking Buffy’s view of her mother. He paused at Wesley’s body, bending to throw the man across his shoulders.

After all, a sire had to provide for his family.
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