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Apologies for posting this so late in the game, and thank yous to Green and Kelly for editorial efforts, and Cindy for screwing my head on straight. I know I'm a hard case ;-)

My Gilesficathon entry, for headrush100. I hope you enjoy it.




Title: In Silence Like to Death
Author: chrisjournal
Rating: PG-13
Spoilers: Set post-Grave.
Disclaimer: Nothing here is mine.
Dedication: For headrush100
Challenge: Anya or Willow; Giles using Magic; No death or mpreg. Optional: "Later seasons (ie. seasons 5-7) Giles". Dark or light, but some hurt/comfort is always good if you can work it in. :-)
Notes: I'm not sure I hit the mark entirely with this one, but it was good to write again. Thanks to wolfling for sponsoring the ficathon, and nods to Elizabeth Barrett Browning for her poem, Grief.

-----.

Cold fire burned in his gut, and images of Ethan, Deirdre and Randall merged with those of Jenny and blood roses, haunting every moment since the day Willow tried to end the world's pain along with her own.

He felt it moving inside, seething and swirling, feeding the anger. It was fresh, and new, and intimately familiar. Neither the feelings nor the power were his, but they might have been. He'd walked this path before, more times than he cared to remember.

While he carried Willow's burdens, she ghosted through the days of waiting, the plane trips, the car rides, and most significantly, the testing by council and coven. Each authority in turn passed judgment: burned out, empty, lost. In her present state she could do no harm, though she'd have to be watched.

The same was not said of him. But then, no one knew it should have been.

His binding had worked even better than he'd hoped. Not only had she been numbed to her pain and power, but the mask he'd lain over the binding held firm. Only one person knew what he'd done -- one who knew better than most the damage vengeance could wreak on its giver, and might have spared him the pain of it, if he'd let her.

Methodically, Giles moved about his cellar, gathering the supplies he'd need and pushing away memory of her attempts to talk him out of it.

While Xander had carried his broken best friend up the stairs to comfort her in the aftermath, Anya had been the one who helped Giles work the spell that bound Willow's spirit to his, draining her of both power and affect. After all, it wouldn't be possible for her to act on emotions he housed on her behalf, with power he worked constantly to tame. The spell would protect the world from further damage.

It would cost him greatly, but the return would be his as well.

Anya understood his need for vengeance, but had also been oddly protective of his health. She had things, she said, and they couldn't be taken care of if he killed himself with this effort. The practical thing was execution. A simple matter, and actually standard protocol for dealing with rogue witches.

It hadn't taken much to convince her to assist. He'd have thought a vengeance demon would be less susceptible to the power of suggestion than Anya had been.

While he'd gathered his strength, she'd prepared a circle of power. Late that night, long after the others had found sleep, he'd followed the link created when Willow stole the coven's power from him. While Anya stood ground, he drained the already burgeoning power from her psyche, along with all of the fury, anguish, and pain. Then, halfway through that night's work, he'd sealed away the source. All that had remained was to untangle the coven's power, which they did in silence before the first light of day.

The time had come for the rest of the work. Twilight approached and with it, freedom. He brushed away the cobwebs of memory. He didn't need warmth, or sympathy, this night.

With quiet purpose he prepared the house, chalking symbols at the doorways and window frames, laying spells of protection and containing, strewing herbs over the logs in the fireplace, and lighting candles at cardinal points. Nothing that would pass here could escape, and his solicitor in London was well-prepared to handle the explanations should he not survive through 'til morning.

------

From the doorway he watched her toss back and forth in the linens and listened to her quiet murmurs. In dreams, the seal was thin, and she lived more of a life than during waking moments. Knowledge of what was to come burned in him, a live wire that lit every nerve ending.

The energy of his intent bristled. It was enough to wake her, and she sat up, staring at him with wide, sleepy eyes. Her body language shouted that she knew something was about to happen, but not what it might be. After a moment's watching, fear began to rise in her.

It pleased him.

Then he turned as if to walk away, so that the tension built to a peak. Silence fed his anger, and he let it harden him even as the power danced deep in his belly. Tonight would end it, this towering, righteous rage that threatened to burst free of his leash, and his life would again--finally--be his own.

With the look of a cat waiting to pounce, Giles stood in the hallway just out of her sight and counted the seconds.

Four, five, six, ...there.

A low-pitched monotone with the merest hint of life: she wanted him to have done with it, to kill her and end the games.

Giles walked back and this time entered the room, lips set together as if holding back the floodgates through the sheer force of one lip upon the other. As he neared the bed, his shadow loomed large, covering her arms and chest with darkness set in stark relief against the bright moonlight.

Her eyes were dull, but she held his gaze, waiting without hope.

To speak would lessen the power of the night, though the desire to rant and rave burned within him. He wanted to shout at her that the numbness she was wrapped in was a lie, that he'd never give her the satisfaction of the easy way out, that he would never provide her with a tower from which to jump to eternal peace while the world was left behind to cope with the wreckage her loss would create.

But he said nothing; instead he took another step toward her and brought himself close enough to smell the slight sourness of sleep in the shallow in-out strokes of her breath and feel the tingle of her fear in the fine hairs along his forearm.

When she reached out to touch him, he gasped at the shock of ice-cold fingers against his hot skin, then snapped out a hand to grasp her wrist and hold it away, certain he was leaving bruises in his fingers' wake. That the moment had arrived suddenly came clear to him as he raised her limp arm in the air and forced her off the bed and against the wall.

No, he wouldn't kill her -- wouldn't let her off the hook, would not allow her to avoid the consequences of her actions, leaving the world stranded. Things had awoken in the earth that were best buried and somnolent. She'd be needed to help with the repairs.

But he would see to it that she paid dearly for her actions. The time had come.

He released the power into her and she fell to her knees as it burned through her. She rocked back and forth, keening grief and rage and shock as the waves of sensation carried her to the floor.

Anger and fear held him firmly in grip as he watched her body shudder, wracked by spasms. She fairly sizzled with power as it leapt, green and gold, about the room. He jerked mentally with each twitch of her limbs, and feeling the last of the binding leave him, he lifted his chin in the air to reach for freedom.

Eyes closed against the flashing lights and deaf to her screams, Giles waited for liberation to wash over him, for the relentless anger and dreadful hurt to disappear.

In time, the sun rose on the pair of them, tangled together in a heap on the floor. But freedom never came.

Grief would be their own.

Comments

( 24 comments — Leave a comment )
wolfling
Jan. 31st, 2004 06:39 pm (UTC)
Wow.

Well worth the wait.

That was... wow. :)

Thanks for participating!
chrisjournal
Jan. 31st, 2004 08:02 pm (UTC)
Awwwww! You have no idea how bad my stage fright is...very glad you liked it. It was really, really good for me to do this. Thanks *so* much for doing all the work!

::pins and needles til headrush100 checks in::
jodyorjen
Jan. 31st, 2004 07:31 pm (UTC)
Damn, girl! That was unexpected.

Very dark and deep. I very much enjoyed it.
chrisjournal
Jan. 31st, 2004 08:03 pm (UTC)
::snuggles you::

Thank you, Jen. Unexpected, how?
jodyorjen
Jan. 31st, 2004 10:27 pm (UTC)
Re:
Unexpected, in that it is so unusual for to read a piece that really "gets" the darker shadows of Giles' character. It was a very pleasant surprise.
chrisjournal
Feb. 1st, 2004 07:42 am (UTC)
Re:
Oh! Well, double thank you's, then. Very glad you enjoyed.
cindergal
Jan. 31st, 2004 08:38 pm (UTC)
Well, you already know what I think, but I just wanted to say how great it is to see a fic from you again. This was dark, but powerful. Great job.
chrisjournal
Jan. 31st, 2004 08:57 pm (UTC)
Re:
Thank you, ma'am. I'm going to keep the 'rest of the story' simmering. Maybe inspiration will strike.
lounge_lily
Jan. 31st, 2004 08:40 pm (UTC)
Just wonderful. We should have seen this on the show. This is really powerful and beautifully written. I know I've said it before, but I really like your take on Giles and Willow and what should have happened post-Grave. Thanks and thanks to headrush100 for requesting it.
chrisjournal
Jan. 31st, 2004 09:00 pm (UTC)
Re:
It must have been serendipity that matched me up with this request -- Wolfling said it was random, but this was a wonderful prompt to get me back on the horse. A few more ficathons and I might fill in enough scenes to finish that damned summer off. How far do you reckon it is from this point to Dumbledore?
lounge_lily
Feb. 1st, 2004 01:56 pm (UTC)
Re:
A little ways I expect, but this could preceed that lovely piece you did of them on the plane and then the scene in Bath (something about tea and the morning newspaper if memory serves) beautifully. I should start crossing my fingers for more ficathons!

essene
Jan. 31st, 2004 09:43 pm (UTC)
Introspective and powerful. Very finely crafted. A great piece of writing.
chrisjournal
Feb. 1st, 2004 07:39 am (UTC)
Wow, Calla. I hardly know what to say. I'm very, very glad you enjoyed it. Writing is so much like giving birth, but scarier because we have so much more control over what happens in the end. Thanks for the compliments. (and go read madpoetess's -- it's the first of them I've started in on, and WOW!)
headrush100
Feb. 1st, 2004 01:14 am (UTC)
Oh. My. God. Chris, that was utterly brilliant. Thank you so much for writing this - it exceeded my wildest hopes! Sorry I haven't checked in before - time difference badness! ;-) This was absolutely perfect. Giles dark and somewhat ambiguous, caring, but nevertheless doing what has to be done (I always thought it was extremely unlikely and unsatisfying that Giles would "go all Dumbledore" on Willow, but who am I to question Joss? ;-)). Your Giles and Willow are much more plausible! I'm going to have to read this again, and then I'll feed you back properly in an email, okay? I'm blown away. Thank you so much! :-)
chrisjournal
Feb. 1st, 2004 07:36 am (UTC)
::much much happy dancing::

I am so *relieved* that you like it. This turned out darker than I'd really intended, and skirted the edge of 'no death'. I'm sorry it was so late on the scene yesterday -- I knew I'd probably missed you with the time difference and didn't mean to at all! Things just kind of ...overtook me.

Today, after I get the kitchen cleaned up, I get to *read* all these wonderful Giles fics, too!

ljs
Feb. 1st, 2004 07:10 am (UTC)
Beautifully detailed and written, Chris. [hugs]
chrisjournal
Feb. 1st, 2004 07:37 am (UTC)
Oh, Lori. *hugs you*. You didn't have to read this--I know how much it pains you to read wrong!Giles. But I'm ever so glad you did -- things are right with the world when even Lori can tolerate it.
soundingsea
Feb. 1st, 2004 10:19 am (UTC)
I really enjoyed this glimpse at the dark side of Giles. He carries their burdens, but won't let Willow abdicate hers entirely. Nice work!
chrisjournal
Feb. 1st, 2004 04:28 pm (UTC)
Thank you muchly, my dear!
mintwitch
Feb. 1st, 2004 11:21 am (UTC)
gibber
I'm so glad I checked to see if you had posted before leaving for the dog show: I'm going to be chewing over this all day. Chrischrischrischrischris, arrrrrrrrrrgh! Love the angst, the introspection, the dark tangled poetry of your prose, all burnt sugar tasting. ::siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh::
chrisjournal
Feb. 1st, 2004 04:27 pm (UTC)
Re: gibber
Chewing burnt sugar all day, eh? Coming from someone else, I would worry. But coming from you? Squeees! I feel like a little girl who made her mommy breakfast in bed, a little messy, but wonderful just the same.
gwynnega
Feb. 1st, 2004 02:59 pm (UTC)
Such a beautiful twist at the end, Chris, and a wholly plausible dark!Giles...
chrisjournal
Feb. 1st, 2004 04:27 pm (UTC)
I don't think I'm ever going to forgive ME for leaving that story out of canon, darnit!
nashvillain615
Feb. 1st, 2004 09:16 pm (UTC)
OHMYGOD
Beautiful and powerful, raw and real! And dark, dark, dark! This was the perfect end to my night, honey!

I love, love, love the way you write. And I love where you went with this.

Someone throw this woman another challenge!!!!


Kimi
( 24 comments — Leave a comment )

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